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2,825 miles

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Taeyong looks at his watch with a glare, huffing out a long sigh when he realizes that it’s now 7:15, and he’s been sitting on his front porch with his suitcase and backpack since 6:30, waiting for his mysterious ride to show up, looking positively idiotic. Taeyong takes his phone out of his coat pocket to send yet another text to his little brother, each new text getting slightly more passive aggressive.

To: Markie

6:28 am: Mysterious driver should be here in a few! You’re lucky I love Hyuck, or I would’ve killed you for this before you got to say I do! I’ll text u when we get on the road! xx
6:35 am: yo I’m looking for an old blue jeep right?
6:35 am: or did I make that up?
6:36 am: bc … no blue jeep in sight…
6:40 am: I’m still sitting outside waiting….no sign of mystery driver
6:43 am: Are you sure that you gave them the right address??
6:50 am: Starting to worry. they are 20 mins late?!??
6:50 am: Are you SURE you gave them the right address????
6:54 am: Mark this is getting ridiculous
7:00 am: mark…
7:00 am: markiepoooooooooo
7:00 am: MARKIE
7:00 am: MARKLE SPARKLE
7:00 am: MARKLES
7:01 am: MARK LEE!!!! If you gave them the wrong address or date or time im going to kill you!!
7:05 am: Respond to my fucking texts you imbecile
7:10 am: Mark I don’t think they’re coming
7:10 am: mark im honestly getting worried….
7:10 am: they are FORTY minutes late
7:11 am: Oh god. Fuck.
7:11 am: WHAT IF THEY GOT IN A CRASH ON THE WAY HERE
7:12 am: !!!!!!!!!
7:15 am: Okay fuck this, I’m going back inside. Just know that you’re dead to me.

After pressing send on the last one, Taeyong notices the “delivered” turn into a “read at 7:15 am.” Mark was such a little fuck.

7:15 am: I CAN SEE U READING THESE U LITTLE SHIT.

Taeyong watches as the cursed three little dots appear and disappear for two minutes, indicating that Mark has been typing and deleting his texts continuously. But of, course, no texts roll through. Looking back at his wrist he watches as the time turns to 7:18, starting to feel borderline homicidal.

Taeyong was being ghosted. This felt a lot like when he went on a date with that guy with disgustingly cute dimples and a perfect body who said he’d call back and never did. Taeyong stayed in bed religiously next to his phone waiting for a call. A text even? Nope. Disappeared like a thief in the night.

With a dramatic clap of his hands that no one was even awake to hear, Taeyong decides that he is no longer a patient man, and that whoever Mr. mysterious driver man is can burn in hell. He is either dead on the side of the road or has changed his mind about the whole road trip with a stranger thing. Which, to be fair, Taeyong can't even blame him, literally who would want to go on a five-day road trip with a complete stranger? Certainly not him, but here we are.

As he begins to drag his suitcase back up the stairs to his apartment in the most aggressive way possible, he thinks about how the fuck he even got to this point, sitting on his front porch waiting for someone to pick him up that he knows absolutely nothing about other than what car he drives.

He is taken back to the previous night’s phone call with his brother. Taeyong knew something was wrong the second he was woken up by a shrill noise he quickly recognized as his phone ringing, but was even more worried when he saw it was Mark that was calling him in the middle of the night. The last time Mark had called him was when their childhood dog Ruby had run away. Taeyong took a deep breath and swiped to connect the phone call.

Mark What’s wrong? Are you okay? Did Hyuck call off the wedding?

Did Hyuck what now? What even? No! Why does something have to be wrong? Can’t I call to chat with my dear older brother, who I love dearly. He paused, voice clearly nervous. Did I mention I’m super lucky to have such an awesome brother who I love so much and am super lucky to have…..

If Taeyong had thought something was wrong before, now he knew something was definitely up. Mark was a great younger brother, but by no means was affectionate. He felt his blood pressure spike in anticipation.

Mark you do realize what time it is right... not to mention you only call when someone’s dead or somethings on fire….. so, no, you can’t just call to ‘chat.’ Seriously, c’mon. Tell me what’s wrong and we’ll figure it out, ‘kay?

Mark took a deep breath before continuing.

I may have forgottentobookyouaplaneticketforthewedding…..

Mark spoke so fast, Taeyong only caught the words “forgot” and “plane ticket,” but even that was enough to make his stomach drop to the floor.

Mark please tell me that you did NOT just say that you forgot to book me a plane ticket…

Taeyong’s voice was positively murderous, and in response, Mark’s was surprisingly sheepish for a 23 year old.

…Uhhh…. Well.. yeah.. that may be what happened…

Mark Lee. Mark, Mark, Mark. Fucking hell I’m going to kill you. Need I remind you that the wedding is in eight FUCKING DAYS? Ohmygod, you’re so dead. You told me YOU HAD THE TRAVEL COVERED. There are going to be zero flights at this time of year, Mark. I don’t even have a car. How the fuck am I supposed to get from New York to California in less than a week? Hitchhike? Walk? Bust out my razor scooter?

I’m gonna fix this, T, I promise.

Mark at least had the forethought to sound regretful.

You better fix this Mark. Taeyong felt his words get a little softer, sadder. I want to be there for you. As your best man, Markie. Right by your side, like the proud big brother I am. Not through facetime.

I know T, I promise I’ll figure it out. I’ll find someone who’s driving, Hyuck will help, I promise. I’m so sorry, so so so sorry, don’t be too mad okay? I’ll fix this.

I’m counting on that.

I won’t let you down, I promise. I’ll fix it. Just give me a few hours. I’m sorry.

I know, Mark. Taeyong groaned, rubbing a hand over his face. Even though I really hate you right now, you know that I love you, right?

Mark sighed, clearly relieved. Course, Love you too, Yong.

Taeyong looks at the alarm clock, running a hand through his hair.

Oh, and Mark?

Yeah?

Never fucking call me at one am again unless someone is dead or dying, got it?

Yes. Understood. Got it. Okay bye, sorry again!

At that, Mark had hung up, leaving Taeyong to stir restlessly in his bed.

True to his word, at 3 am, when Taeyong had finally gone back to sleep, a text from Mark chimed in:

From: Markie
3:07 am: Look for a really old baby blue jeep tomorrow around 6:30. Hyuck found someone driving that agreed to take you!!!!!
3:08 am: Sorry again about the flight…. thanks for understanding...
3:08 am: Love you, night. xx

Taeyong, hand already on the doorknob ready to go back inside, is thrown from his thoughts when he hears an obnoxiously loud honk from behind him, jolting him back to the present.

Sure enough, when he turns around, a light blue jeep is parked in front of his apartment. He hears the driver’s side door open and slam shut and moves to pick back up his discarded luggage and trot back down the front steps of apartment 127. Well, apparently he didn't get ghosted after all.

Taeyong nearly trips and falls down the stairs, however, when he hears Mr. Mysterious Driver speak up.

“Need some help there, Taemin?” The voice asks, loud and arrogant, disgustingly pleased with himself for blatantly using the wrong name. Taeyong knows that voice. Taeyong could never forget that voice.

Taeyong absolutely refuses to look up in fear of what he knows he’ll see when he looks up. Fuck, Mark would warn him, surely, if he was the driver, right? Right?

Apparently not, because when Taeyong forces himself to look up from his feet and continue walking down the stairs to his inevitable doom, sure enough, leaning against the car with his arms crossed over his chest, a smug smile tugging at his lips at Taeyong’s obvious surprise with the arrangement, black hair tussled in a way that should be saved for the bedroom, stands the one man Taeyong would rather burn himself alive than spend more than five minutes alone with.

“It’s Taeyong, but I think you know that,” Taeyong spits back as he reaches the car, taking a deep breath and reigning in his anger, before meeting his eyes. “I wish I could say it’s good to see you again, but that would be a lie, wouldn’t it Johnny?” His smile probably looks unhinged. 

Loading his bags into the car, Taeyong sends one last text to Mark before slamming the door as hard as he can and pretending that literally anyone else in the world is sitting right next to him.

To: Markie
7:25 am: omg Markie! you’ll never guess who just came to get me (an hour late!!) Johnny Suh!!!! The man I hate more than my next door neighbor who lets his dog shit on my doorstep!
7:26 am: You're so dead, Mark Lee. 

Chapter Text

The car is so quiet at first that Taeyong can hear himself breathing.

When it comes to Johnny, Taeyong is used to heated conversations, tense air, and the mild feeling of being annoyed with everything he does or says, not this. This is the feeling of two people who have never been alone together, and don’t know quite how to handle the situation.

After pressing send on his last text to Mark, and watching the typing bubble pop up, Taeyong unzips the pocket of his backpack resting on the floorboards and packs his phone away.

He knows that if he read Mark’s inevitably sincere apology, he would forgive him almost immediately, and Taeyong wants to stew on Mark’s betrayal for a little longer.

And Taeyong was certainly feeling betrayed.

Mark knew all about Taeyong’s hatred of his fiancée’s older brother. It wasn’t like Taeyong (or Johnny, for that matter) was all that subtle about it. That’s not to say that Mark really understood why, because all he did was sing Johnny’s praises. “Johnny’s so cool, he showed me this new game,” “Johnny told me the funniest story earlier,” “Johnny took me and Hyuck out to dinner, he’s so nice!” “Johnny bought me this, Yong, isn’t it dope.” It was all Johnny, Johnny, Johnny.

Taeyong was sick of it.

All Mark ever had to say about Taeyong’s hatred was “Yong, you barely know him, you have to give him a chance” to which Taeyong took personal offense. Johnny had his chance --- multiple chances --- and Taeyong is yet to see any of the wonderfully hilarious and kind man Mark talks about like its his job.

Taeyong has had the pleasure of being around Johnny at least twenty times and every single time he pretends he doesn’t know his name. He even follows Taeyong on Instagram, for fucks sake, where his username literally is @leetaeyong. 

But no, in Mark’s mind, Johnny was some sort of god. How Mark doesn’t see how much of an asshole Johnny is baffles him.

It took Taeyong only five minutes to come to the conclusion that Johnny was exactly the worst type of person – a judgmental prick asshole with a superiority complex and a sense of humor that makes Taeyong feel particularly homicidal.

Thinking back to the first time Taeyong and Johnny met, it had been almost two years ago now, at Mark and Hyuck's first apartment together they had moved in to, shortly after their graduation. It’s hard to believe that there was once a time in his life he was excited to meet Donghyuck’s older brother that everyone seemed to love. To say that Taeyong hadn’t seen the appeal was an understatement.

When Taeyong had agreed to cover the late shift for his friend, Baekhyun, at Frank’s, the Italian restaurant he had been working at part-time for a few months, he had the prickling feeling that he was forgetting something.  

It wasn’t until around 8 pm, a few hours into his shift and too late to back out of it, when he got a text from his little brother reading “Where are you, Yongie? You’re like never late... R u okay?” that he realized what exactly that something that he was forgetting was.  

Fuck.

He pulled his phone out of his back pocket, and, sure enough, the date had read June 11th, the day of Mark and his boyfriend’s housewarming party, that Mark had circled not once, but twice in red ink on Taeyong’s calendar at his apartment. If it was any other party, Taeyong would just text him that something came up at work, because he knew that Mark would understand, but this was the housewarming party.

The exact housewarming party that Mark had been talking about every single day for weeks now. He had been so happy that Donghyuck had asked him to move in together after graduation, since they were both going to be working in the city. Being in love looked good on his little brother.  

Being late, however, did not look good on Taeyong. His biggest pet peeve, even, was when people were late.

He didn’t even know how much it bothered him until his current boyfriend, who he had been dating since he had graduated college, made up a catchphrase, saying that he ran on “Taeil time,” which meant he was at least 30 minutes to everything. Taeil had almost everything Taeyong was looking for, but his lack of punctuality had become such a problem that Taeyong would tell him the wrong time for dates because he could count on him being late.

So, to Taeyong, being ‘on Taeil time’ for something Mark had spent so much time planning meant he felt incredibly guilty and apologetic. Not only to Mark and Hyuck, but also to the few other people Mark had been excited to introduce him to that would be at the party.    

Taeyong had shot Mark a quick text in apology which had been read and not responded to, and had rushed out of the restaurant around 11 when it closed, making It to the Suh-Lee household in a record ten minutes.  

Hair likely sweaty from running up the stairs to the fourth floor, and still in his apron and red button-up from work, he threw open the door and stumbled into the apartment to see Mark with a beautiful woman he’d never seen before and another boy he recognized as one of his college friends, Jeno maybe, cleaning the living area, and Donghyuck talking to a tall stranger in the corner of the room. Everyone turned to look at him as he entered, and he saw the look of frustration flash across Mark’s face.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Taeyong had not only been late, but actually missed the party.

Mouth already open to apologize to Mark, he had been cut off with a “Save it, Yong,” and directions to go apologize to Donghyuck first, because Mark was "so disappointed, he couldn’t even bare to talk to him."

After a few minutes of apologizing profusely to Donghyuck and making promises to make it up to them with free pizza from the restaurant (Mark’s favorite) whenever they wanted, he realized that in his rush to apologize, he had forgotten the man he had seen talking with Hyuck when he first came in.

He’s wearing a dark grey suit that had obviously been tailored to fit him as it hugged his body in all of the good ways, was nursing an amber drink that looked like bourbon, and was looking at Taeyong expectedly with intimidating brown eyes. It only took Taeyong a moment to place why his face had looked so familiar.

Because standing before him was Donghyuck’s older brother, Johnny. The Johnny Suh, in the flesh. Taeyong hadn’t recognized him because in all of the pictures he’d seen of him he was wearing casual clothes, and smiling, but now he stood in a fitted suit with a mildly annoyed look plastered on his handsome face.

Mark  called Hyuck away to help with something, and he excused himself to let the two of them to introduce themselves.

When Taeyong introduced himself as Mark’s older brother and only gotten an “I know,” and an unimpressed look, he had thought that was a forgivable offense. Taeyong could understand it if it was tiredness, or stress. He couldn't remember what Johnny did for a living but maybe he had a bad day at work and didn’t have the energy for meeting new people.

But then Johnny had said, “You look nothing like how I expected,” as he took a sip from his drink and with a loaded stare as he looked Taeyong up and down, lingering for a moment longer than what’s considered socially acceptable on his firetruck red hair and thick black roots he hadn’t had time to cover, and was now feeling especially self-conscious about, with a look comparable to disgust. This, this was less forgivable.

It was a look he had gotten a few times at work, often from people dressed much like Johnny was that day who liked to be rude to the wait staff just because they could.

And then, as a third strike, Johnny had to bring up his job.  

“Mark was upset to hear you weren’t coming," He had started, as if he knew Mark better than Taeyong himself. "Good time management is an important virtue, you know. It’s the first thing that a lot of people look for in jobs these days,” Johnny said as he looked down at him with a smug smile, as if this was something that would be shocking for Taeyong to hear.

The murderous glare Taeyong sent him would normally stop people in their tracks, but it only made Johnny smile a little wider.  

“I’ll have you know I have excellent time management--”

Ignoring him, Johnny continued.

“What is it that you do, again, that you couldn’t make time for your baby brother’s big party?” He had pointedly looked back down to the folded apron around his waist he was still wearing, effectively reminding him that 1. he looked ridiculously out of place and 2. Mark was probably still mad at him and he had yet to apologize properly.  

And to make matters worse, when Taeyong had said “I currently wait tables at Frank’s, but I'm trying to go into music production,” he had simply looked him up and down again, and said “I see,” with something like pity written across his face. Oh, yes, Johnny was definitely the type to be rude to waiters.

“What do you do, Johnny?” Taeyong had gritted out, trying to take the attention away from himself and forcing himself to be somewhat polite.

“I’m an investment banker at Goldman Sachs,” he had said, something like amusement written across his eyes as a look of recognition had passed over Taeyong’s features. From what he remembered, the starting salary was like 500,000 or something equally ridiculous for investment banking, and Johnny didn’t look to be much older than Taeyong himself.

No wonder he didn't seem to like Taeyong.

And then Johnny had very pointedly checked his watch (a Rolex, naturally), and with a look that screamed ‘I’d rather be anywhere else than continuing this conversation’ had called over Taeyong’s shoulder to the thin woman he had seen before helping Mark clean that they should head out.

Apparently the extremely thin, scarily wide smiled, woman was Johnny's girlfriend, Seulgi. She would later be placed just behind Johnny on Taeyong’s list of least favorite people.

Somehow, in the five minutes of knowing him, Johnny had made Taeyong feel like a piece of shit at least three different times, and Taeyong hadn’t even gotten the chance to say more than a few words back.

From that day on, he’d been nothing but disdainful and prickly to Taeyong. So, naturally, Taeyong became equally horrible back. And thus, their feud had started.

Taeyong now makes sure he looks as good as possible every time he knows he will be seeing Johnny later, and keeps up with his hair coloring without fault, even though the amount of bleaching would surely leave his scalp ruined one day. The surprised look the second time he had seen Johnny when he took in Taeyong’s vastly improved appearance had been so worth the extra time spent meticulously applying makeup and picking out his outfit.

However, as Mark failed to tell him that Johnny would be taking him, and not some nice stranger, he had failed to dress in more than his most comfortable travel clothes, his freshly blonde hair lying flat and unstyled on his head. At least he had the foresight to throw on some jewelry.

Almost subconsciously, Taeyong tugs his sleeves over his hands, the soft red and black striped sweater he had thrown on this morning being the only protection from the cold morning air.

Is Johnny's car’s heat broken?  

Even if it wasn’t, Johnny had definitely not bothered to turn it on. He probably thought it was bad for his skin or something, the pretentious ass.

He shivers, leaning back in his chair and putting his feet up in on the dash, most likely going to leave a mark.

If Johnny minds, he doesn’t show it, which shocks Taeyong because Johnny seems to be fussy about literally everything.

Taeyong adjusts until he gets comfortable, finally relaxing in the old leather seats. Once settled, he realizes that in the midst of the rage fit he had upon seeing Johnny, he had just gotten in the car and busied himself with his phone, not even taking in his surroundings.

To say that Taeyong was surprised that Mr. I don’t eat from buffets, I wear a 40,000 dollar watch, stereotypical corporate asshole, Johnny Suh had a real-life car, despite living on the upper east side and being able to easily afford a driver, would be an understatement. A massive understatement. Not to mention the car was so old it didn’t even have a built-in GPS, or Bluetooth. It had a CD drive, for Christ’s sake. Taeyong was so out of his element, he almost forgot that he was furious at Johnny for being almost an hour late.

He whips his head away from the radio to burn holes in the side of Johnny’s head with his glare. Taeyong’s on his fourth mental draft of what he’s going to say to Johnny to describe how disgusting his lack of punctuality was when his inner monologue is rudely interrupted with Johnny’s voice.

His very deep, still slightly scratchy, just rolled out of bed voice.

If it was literally anyone but Satan incarnate himself, Taeyong would have thought it was hot. Wasn’t that a terrifying thought. 

“That’s for you, by the way,” Johnny says, pointing to a cup that Taeyong had failed to notice, sitting in the cupholders between them.

In sharp contrast to Johnny’s engraved travel mug most likely filled to the brim with black coffee in it, because what else would he choose but a drink so tasteless and evil, the plastic cup in Taeyong’s cupholder was topped with obscene amounts of whipped cream, and what looks like chocolate shavings.

Taeyong has to stop himself from the “thank you” that almost slips out of his mouth, habitually, from someone doing something nice for him. 

But, of course, Taeyong refuses to admit defeat in anything Johnny-related, so he sets his jaw and crosses his sweater clad arms across his chest. The car pulls to a stop at the next light, the city traffic still scarily dense from the morning work shuffle. Johnny reaches to the middle to take a sip of his own drink, sighing contently at the warmth it undoubtedly brings to his body. Taeyong watches as he swallows, his Adam's apple bobbing, and has to force himself to tear his eyes away from the sight.

Johnny turns to look at Taeyong, waiting for him to pick up the drink.

“I don’t like coffee,” Taeyong spits, staring with extreme focus at a pigeon he can see out of the window, forcing himself to think of anything not-Johnny related. His dislike of coffee in all forms wasn’t even a lie, surprisingly. Coffee had always been way too bitter for his taste.

“It’s not coffee, just try it, you’ll like it” Johnny counters, amusement creeping into his voice, no longer quite as scratchy as before, but equally deep; so deep Taeyong wonders what it would sound like in his ear if he were to whi- Get it together, Yong. It was way too early to be thirsting over his nemesis’s voice.

Why do all evil people have to be so handsome? He’s seconds away from banging his head against the window just to force himself to get a grip.

“I don’t trust you.”  

Also not a lie. Johnny knows pretty much nothing about Taeyong other than that he has perpetual foot-in-mouth syndrome and has a knack for arguing even when he’s wrong. He definitely doesn’t know what his Starbucks order is.

“My god, you are so dramatic,” Johnny laughs, “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to drink it.” 

And then, as if he reads Taeyong’s still wary expression, he adds, “It’s not poisoned,” rolling his eyes.

He picks up the cup and shoves it in Taeyong’s direction, eyes drifting back to the road as the light turns green. Taeyong forces his gaze away from the pigeon and back to Johnny, taking the drink from his hand reluctantly.

Trying not to look too eager, Taeyong takes a small sip before pulling the cup away. He closes his eyes as the warm drink hits his throat, leaving a pleasant warm buzz through his body even from the tiny sip. Taeyong puts it down before he can moan accidentally at the heavenly taste of what Taeyong recognizes as a Starbucks chocolate cookie crumble crème frappuccino.

Johnny waits a long second, anticipating any sort of verbal response.

Taeyong, refusing to admit that Johnny was right, stays silent, looking anywhere but to his left.

When Johnny realizes that Taeyong isn’t going to speak unprompted, he sighs, “Well? How is it?”

“I hate it.” It was fucking delicious. How Johnny had actually managed to get him a one of his favorite drinks from Starbucks shocked him. Was he that easy to figure out?

“You hate it?” Johnny parrots, eyebrows shooting up, amusement evident in his tone.

Taeyong has dug his grave now, so he has to lie in it.

He hums in agreement, making sure to look back out the window so that Johnny can’t see the lie in his eyes. That is, if his burning ears haven’t already given him away.

A few seconds pass, and Taeyong thinks he’s gotten away with the bluff, but Johnny doesn’t let him off that easily.

“You’re the worst fucking liar on the planet,” Johnny responds, laughing even louder now.

At that, Taeyong whips his head to his left as his eyes go a little bigger in shock.

“Excuse me? What did you just say?” Taeyong feels his neck flush, heat rising in his face as his embarrassment at Johnny knowing he’s lying sinks in.

“I said you’re the worst fucking liar on the planet.” He pauses, as if mentally listing all of Taeyong’s tells. “Your ears are redder than the sweater you’re wearing, you can’t meet my eyes, and have been staring out of that window like it’s your job since you got in Tina.”

“Who names their car Tina?”

Johnny ignores that, continuing on as if Taeyong hadn’t said anything, sounding increasingly more pleased with himself as he rails into Taeyong.

“And on top of all of that," He pauses, as if for dramatic effect. "You wanna know why I really know you’re lying out of your ass right now?”  

Taeyong is so embarrassed he thinks he’s going to melt into a puddle of shame on the leather seats. If Johnny doesn’t stop soon, he’s going to have to put himself out of his misery using Tina’s seatbelt as a DIY noose.

The idea becomes twice as appealing as Johnny hedges him again, “Ask me why.”

“No.” Taeyong shrinks even further into his seat.

“Ask me why. I know you want to know,” Johnny says. The fact that he isn’t even wrong has Taeyong swallowing his already pummeled pride.

“Why?” His heart flies out of the window and getting stomped on by the angry taxi man riding their bumper.

“Because this morning I texted my dear friend Mark Lee and asked him what his older brother’s favorite drink at Starbucks was,” Johnny starts, smiling so wide his cheeks have to hurt.

Taeyong’s eyes near fall out of his face they go so wide as soon as he hears his little brothers name. That little shit. If Mark had previously been skating on thin ice with his first betrayal, now he was nearing a spot on Taeyong's hit-list. After Johnny, of course, who is at the top.

“And he told me that your favorite drink at Starbucks is, and I quote, a ‘chocolate cookie crumble crème frappuccino with extra whipped cream.”

Johnny’s grin is positively infuriating. How is it that he somehow consistently makes Taeyong look like a complete idiot? Taeyong is begging for the torture to end. He would even listen to Johnny talk about the stock market for the rest of the day, or whatever it is that an investment banker talks about, if it meant he would shut up about the drink.

But, it’s Johnny, so he just continues; “I mean, shit, there I was, embarrassed to be ordering a glorified milkshake at a coffee shop, not to mention a drink that I’m pretty sure they market towards literal children.” At that, Taeyong scowls. “Well, not that you’re not a child, you are, don’t worry… but I’d have done it gladly had I known I’d get to see your face just then.”

“I bet you’re awfully pleased with yourself, John,” Taeyong responds, dragging out the ‘aw’ sound for added sass. Taeyong has gone from a flustered mess back to his default emotion in Johnny’s presence, annoyed.

“Oh, you have no idea.”

The shit eating grin plastered on Johnny’s face has Taeyong feeling the need to throw something. Preferably at Johnny, but throwing anything would do the job.

His hands are now balling into what Mark calls Taeyong's rage fists, as he wrings his hands in his sweater. He wishes he could take a walk and cool down but is instead forced inside of the freezing metal deathtrap with his nemesis. Maybe that's why Johnny agreed to let Taeyong crash his road trip, he had a high chance of not making it to California alive.

The silence is at least good for fueling his revenge plot. The top contenders in his mental list right now are 1. Putting laxatives in Johnny’s food, and 2. Purposefully spilling glitter in his suitcase. 

Johnny gives him another once over before turning back to the road, the traffic beginning to thin out now that they are beginning to leave the city.

“Are you just a pathological liar and can’t help yourself, or do you just talk out of your ass around me?” Johnny asks playfully.

"Throw yourself off a cliff, Johnny.” Just around you.

Johnny gives a full laugh at that, “I’m sure you’d like that, Taeyang. You are so ridiculously violent for someone so small.”

If Johnny says his name wrong one more time, there will be a murder.

Not to mention pointing out Taeyong’s slight build. Not everyone can be seven feet tall, John.

The laxatives for spiking his food have become Taeyong’s number one priority for the next time they stop for gas.

“Oh, you have no idea,” he mocks Johnny from earlier. Great, he’s resorted to mocking. His middle school humor always finds a way to come out around Johnny.

After that, the car finally falls silent for a few minutes, allowing Taeyong to zone out, watching the passing cars on the intersection, listening to the buzz of the road. Taeyong had gotten so caught up in trying to save face after lying about the drink he had almost forgotten about Johnny being an hour late to get him. Almost.

“Hey, Johnny?” Taeyong asks, his voice immediately breaking the peaceful barrier of silence in the car.

He wasn’t letting Johnny get away with this easily, especially not after he just had to sit through being ridiculed for his extreme foot-in-mouth tendencies that always appear when Johnny is around.

“Hmm?”

“Care to tell me why you made me sit on my front porch for an hour waiting for you to show up this morning in the freezing cold?” At Johnny’s wince, Taeyong can tell that he had thought he had gotten away with it when Taeyong didn’t immediately bring it up.

“It wasn’t an hour late, just a litt--”

“Apologies, you got to my apartment at exactly 7:23,” Taeyong interrupts, “only 58 minutes late, much better.” He was positively glowing as he watched Johnny’s previously smug face turn into a borderline embarrassed one.

“I was getting us Starbucks.”

“For 58 minutes?” Taeyong asks, incredulously.

Fine, and maybe I snoozed my alarm once or twice,” Johnny concedes.

Taeyong, with some stroke of luck, actually recalls some of the first words Johnny had said to him when they had first met, spitting them back at Johnny with as much venom and mocking as he can muster.

Good time management is an important virtue, you know.” He's been waiting for the chance to get Johnny to eat his own words after being rude enough to say them in the first place. It only took him two and a half years.

It takes Johnny a few seconds for his own words to register, but when they do, God, is it glorious. Taeyong feels particularly pleased with himself when he notices the tips of Johnny’s own ears are slightly pink. Johnny is anything but a blusher. 

Riding the high of actually verbally besting Johnny --- for the first time in what feels like a long time --- Taeyong decides to quit while he’s ahead, and announces he’s going back to sleep, since Johnny had gotten to sleep in while he suffered, before Johnny can get a last word in.

He pulls his feet into his seat, irrationally pleased when he sees two footprints imprinted on the dash, and leans his head against the window, closing his eyes with a smile plastered on his face.

"Wake me up for lunch," Taeyong adds, feeling himself already drifting off to the sound of the engine rummaging. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong wakes up to the deep rumble of Johnny speaking, his voice soft and low as if he’s trying not to wake him. Not that it worked, of course, because Taeyong’s an incredibly light sleeper, but the gesture was there.

Taeyong can hear the soft murmur of another voice on Johnny’s phone, but can’t make out any of their words.

He catches a few of Johnny’s words, here and there, but for the most part doesn’t pay attention to what he’s saying, as he is soaking up his last few moments of comfortable peace and quiet before he has to rejoin the land of the living.

That is until something catches his attention.

“With Taeyong? Funny,” Johnny responds with a huff of breath, his tone almost disappointed.

His ears perk up when he hears Johnny say his name, but he pretends to stay asleep, remaining stuffed between the window and edge of his seat, curled as far from Johnny as humanly possible.

Even when he’s asleep Taeyong is always on defense when it comes to him.

He is trying to figure out what the ‘very funny’ could be in reference to when Johnny speaks again.

 “I know he does. I don’t think that’s ever going to change.”

Knows what? What’s not going to change?

Johnny sighs, “Stop. You know I don’t know why.”

Taeyong waits, the silence deafening. What the hell was he talking about? He’s never wished he could hear the other line of a phone call more than right now.

“I know. Love you too, ‘kay? I’m excited to see you.”

And just like that, Taeyong has had enough of the conversation.

Taeyong makes a show of ‘waking up,’ fluttering his eyes open, and stretching his stiff limbs, moaning at the feeling of stretching out his cramped muscles from curling himself into the car door.

He almost feels bad for eavesdropping on what seemed like a private conversation, but then he realizes with a frown that the “I love you” must have been for Seulgi, and it puts a bad taste in his mouth. He hopes he ruined their conversation, before they could slip into using the handful of pet names Taeyong’s heard them use before. 

The mere thought of hearing Johnny call his grown ass, 24 year old girlfriend "princess" from two feet away from him makes him crave death.

He rolls his eyes at the thought, turning to find Johnny already looking at him as he sits up in his seat.

“Did you actually just roll your eyes? How are you already mad when you’ve been awake for less than a minute?” Johnny asks, a small smile pulling at the corners of his lips.

At that, Taeyong laughs, “I’m mad because you woke me up with your phone-call, you doorknob, all I love you so much, can’t wait to see you, that mushy shit,” he mocks.

And because a little part of Taeyong can’t help himself, he adds: “And how is Satan -- I mean Seulgi, sorry, they sound so similar!”

What Taeyong expects is for Johnny to dish it back to him, sing praise for his skeleton viper girlfriend, and tell Taeyong to rot in hell, but what he is met with instead is a quick look of fleeting sadness and Johnny looking down at the keys in his hands.

If Taeyong didn’t know any better, he would say he looked shy.  

“Nope, not Seulgi,” Johnny says, bitterly, “I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that she ended things with me.”

And Taeyong so desperately does want to be happy to hear that Johnny’s walking cigarette of a girlfriend who probably drank children’s tears to wash down her diet pills, who Johnny had acted like hung the moon, had dumped him.

Instead, he feels empathetic. Because Taeyong knows that pain all too well, constantly being left broken hearted when his boyfriends decide that they have had enough of him.

So, he concedes, “As much as we don’t get along because you’re kinda a pompous jackass and I have no filter when it comes to you, I’m not actually evil.” Then in a much softer tone, “not that it’s worth much coming from me, but, like, I am sorry to hear that. You seemed to really like her,” Taeyong adds.

“Means something to me,” Johnny says, so quietly Taeyong thinks he’s misheard him.

Then, running a hand through his hair, Johnny forces a shaky laugh, and says “Well fuck, that got depressing fast. We don’t do deep and emotional.”

And then, to get some semblance of normalcy between the two, that Johnny is clearly searching for, Taeyong adds “Nah, too much deep-rooted rivalry between us for deep and emotional.”

Johnny seemed to relax at the jab, laughing a little more genuinely as the air lightens a bit.

Taeyong looks out the front window of the car, seeing that they are parked in a mostly deserted parking lot, off the interstate. 

“So, Lanky Schmidt, where the hell even are we?” Taeyong doesn’t know how long he’s been asleep, as his phone is stowed away, and Johnny’s car is from the ice age so he doesn’t think the clock even works anymore.

“I’m sorry, wait,” Johnny holds up a hand, laughing so hard his stomach bends, his head dropping onto the steering wheel for a moment. “Lanky Schmidt?” His eyebrows raise dramatically. “Who the fuck is Lanky Schmidt?”

“You know, Lanky Schmidt!” Taeyong responds. It had been the first tall person insult he had thought of.

Is Johnny kidding or being serious?

At Johnny’s titled head and obvious confusion, Taeyong sighs, “From Monsters Inc, c’mon you know him.”

Not even a hint of recognition flashes in Johnny’s eyes, so Taeyong tries again, “the cute little pink guy that’s like all legs with big ass hands and feet? Has like orange stripes on his arms.”

Taeyong is just met with amused eyes and a shake of the head, then a thought pops in his head.

“Don’t tell me you haven’t seen Monster’s Inc.”

Another shake of Johnny’s head, no.

“God, have you been living under a rock? It came out like twenty years ago, dude,” Taeyong shakes his head again, of course Johnny hasn’t seen it.

“Glad you think I’m cute though,” Johnny responds with a smirk.

At first, Taeyong is confused, then remembers that’s how he had described the character, and rolls his eyes, moving to push a laughing Johnny into the driver’s side door.

“Of course, that’s what you chose to hear, you moron” Taeyong laughs. “Seriously though, where are we? I have zero idea how long I passed out for.”

Johnny points behind Taeyong’s head at the sign just outside of his window.

“Dr. Doolittle’s Roadside Café and Creamery?” Taeyong reads, turning back to Johnny with furrowed brows.

Johnny snorts.

“Well, I mean yeah, that’s where I was thinking we’d eat lunch, but I was more so pointing to the big sign that says, ‘welcome to Falls Creek, Pennsylvania’ that's literally right next to it.”

Fuck. Surely not that Falls Creek, right?

But sure enough, as Taeyong whips his head back around to the sign Johnny had pointed to, he reads Falls Creek, Pennsylvania. The smaller than small, middle of BFE town in Pennsylvania, that Taeyong’s most recent heartbreak had moved to with his new boyfriend, who he had been cheating on him with the whole time! Taeyong wants to crawl in a hole and die.

If he even sees a glimpse of Yuta, he is dragging Johnny to the car and not looking back until they are at least fifty miles out.

Either his luck was truly shit, or Johnny somehow had planned this, but that seems too diabolical for even Johnny.

As if Johnny had felt the shift in the mood, he reached a tentative hand out as if to touch his shoulder, before retracting it when he realized how out of place the gesture would be between them.

“What’s in Falls Creek, Taeyong?” Johnny asks, his voice soft as if not to startle a scared animal. Taeyong doesn’t even notice that Johnny had said his actual name

“Nothing!” Taeyong responds way too quickly for it to be the truth, wincing at how raw his voice already sounds.

Johnny just looks at him, his eyes urging Taeyong to continue when he’s ready.

Taeyong sighs, flexing his hands as he tries to calm down.

“Not a what, but a who,” He starts tentatively, unsure of how to explain to Johnny how broken he had been when Yuta left him after admitting he was cheating, without sharing too much. The last thing he wants to be is vulnerable to the one person who can get under his skin like nobody else. “I don’t think you ever met him, but his name was Yuta, and he um was kinda terrible to me, and he lives here with his boyfriend who he was kind of cheating on me with, so yeah,” Taeyong trails off, unsure of what else to say. He'd probably already said too much.

He meets Johnny's eyes and sees the warm brown harden, anger written into the lines of his face. Taeyong bites his lip to stop it from trembling as he drops his gaze to his lap, picking at the hem of his sweater, while he lets Johnny process the information.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I promise I didn’t bring you here on purpose, please don’t think that I would do something like that.” Johnny sounds genuinely apologetic, too surprised to have known anything about it before.

Taeyong can only nod his head, his throat too constricted from almost-shed tears to voice out any reaction.

Johnny lets his gaze linger on Taeyong a little longer before he goes to open up the driver’s side door.

“I’m gonna go get us a table, how about you just meet me inside?” Johnny asks, Taeyong eagerly nodding his agreement once again, needing a moment to himself.

With another lingering look and a “m'kay, take your time,” Johnny turns to the diner and leaves Taeyong to swipe at his eyes and collect his thoughts before following him in.

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong eyes almost fell out of his head when he saw the size of the burger that was placed in front of him.

A few minutes ago, after Johnny had ordered his second (third?) coffee of the day and whatever the special was, the waitress had turned to Taeyong to collect his order.

When he said he wanted the “classic burger” which had sounded like just the comfort food that he needed, she took one look at his petite frame and told him that he should consider a different menu item, to which he told her almost rudely that he was a big boy and could order whatever he wanted, his foot-in-mouth-syndrome definitely acting up again.

She had rolled her eyes at him, and angrily snatched their menus from their hands before storming away, and Johnny had joked that she was now definitely going to spit in their drinks.

But nothing compared to the smug look on the waitress’s face, or the way Johnny had just sat there and laughed at him, when he had to sit there and eat his words as she dropped the honest to god biggest burger Taeyong had ever seen in front of him and told him to “Enjoy!” With the fakest smile he had ever seen.  

She without a doubt had spit in their food.

About 1/3 of the way through the big daddy burger, as Taeyong had lovingly named it in his head, Johnny had gotten up to go to the bathroom, and Taeyong got out his phone to check his texts.

As he expected, he had a few unread texts from Mark, and even a text from Donghyuck, reading “Don’t kill my brother, even if you want to. I kinda like him. See you soon, yong, love you!” To which Taeyong had responded “love you too, Hyuck. & no promises~”

He swiped back to open Mark's texts.

From Markie:

9:15 am: i’m sorry yongie :(

9:15 am: you know why I didn’t tell u right????

9:16 am: he’s really not that bad once you get to know him! hyuck idolizes him!

To: Markie

1:02 pm: *sigh* you’re lucky you’re cute, Markie

1:02 pm: forgiven, only because its for ur wedding and I would

rather be trapped in the car with satan for a week than miss it.

1:02 pm: we r stopped for lunch rn, and I haven’t wanted

to kill him more than a few times yet- baby steps!!

Taeyong slips his phone back into his bag and with a sudden look at the cute café, fishes around the main pocket until he finds what he’s looking for with a grin.

He pulls out his polaroid camera he had thrown in that morning thinking it could be fun to take some pictures throughout the week, since he had never actually gone on a road trip before. He sits up in his seat and snaps a photo of the café, waving it as he watches the picture develop.

He doesn’t even notice that Johnny has come back from the bathroom until he feels the camera being lifted out of his hand and looks up to find Johnny pointing the camera at Taeyong, barely having time to throw up a peace sign before Johnny snaps the picture.

“Not fair,” Taeyong whines, “I wasn’t ready.”

“I know, that’s half the fun.”

Taeyong scowls, taking the camera from him and taking a quick picture as soon as he has it in his hands, catching Johnny in the middle of a sentence.

“There,” he says with a small smirk, placing the picture in a pile with the others on the table, laughing as he watches Johnny’s surprised face develop on the polaroid, “Now we are even.”

Johnny sits back down, resuming his place in the seat before Taeyong.

They sit in silence as they finish the rest of their lunch. AKA as Johnny finishes the rest of his meal and Taeyong alternates taking bites of the big daddy burger and sending daggers of glares at the waitress and Johnny in turns.

The waitress brings back their checks, dropping them onto the table, and shooting Taeyong a glare with a terrifyingly grim smile as she takes away his plate with more than half of the burger still on it. She was definitely getting a small tip. 

As Taeyong is almost done signing his receipt, Johnny takes the pen and writes something on a Napkin, sliding it back across the table. It reads, in barely legible scrawl “scary waitress is staring at us w/ crazy eyes. If we die, it’s all on u." Taeyong rolls his eyes, taking the pen and writing back “I hate you, Johnny Suh,” followed by a “we aren’t gonna die tho … right…she really does have crazy eyes.”

Taeyong feels himself smiling as he watches Johnny scribble on the napkin, almost forgetting his mini breakdown in the car. It felt as if for once the bickering was light-hearted and not aimed to hurt.

But then his luck runs dry and the potentially happy moment dies the second that the bell at the front of the café rings, causing Taeyong to glance up at the door as a reflex. He feels time physically stop, and his smile falls. The air in the room felt too thick and Taeyong felt the pressure creeping back up into his chest as the wind is knocked out of him.

For standing at the front of the restaurant, about to get a table, stands Yuta Nakamoto, with his boyfriend, Sicheng, draped across his shoulders.

Taeyong feels like he’s going to be sick.

He snaps back to reality as Johnny slides the napkin across the table once more, with something new written on it.

Taeyong doesn’t even have the chance to read it, he just moves, tugging on Johnny’s wrist and jerking his head at the door in a panicky movement.

He watches as Johnny’s gaze follows his to the front of the store, and he turns back with furrowed brows, mouthing “Your ex?”

Taeyong nods once, removing his hand from Johnny’s arm before he causes too much damage from his vice grip.

"Okay, let's get out of here, then."

Just as Johnny begins to collect their things from the table, shoving them in his bag carelessly in an attempt to get out of there unnoticed, a voice calls out.

“Taeyong? Taeyong Lee? Is that you?”

Taeyong closes his eyes, his hand forming empty fists on the table, before he turns to greet them, his biggest smile forced onto his face, “Hey Yuta. Sicheng.” He nods his head to the latter who at least has the decency to look away, a light blush of what Taeyong hopes to be shame sitting high on his cheeks.

“I thought that was you!” Yuta responds with a giggle that Taeyong once thought was the cutest sound in the entire world, but now makes him want to pick up the knife on the table and gauge out his ear drums. That laugh haunts him. “What are you even doing here? You never leave the city!”

Taeyong can’t breathe, much less respond.

Thankfully, Johnny responds for him, a simple “We're on a road trip.”

When Johnny speaks, Yuta turns away from Taeyong with wide eyes as if he forgot that he had company.

“Oh, how rude of me! I’m Yuta, and this beautiful boy right here is my boyfriend, Sicheng. Taeyong and I used to be close before I moved out here! And you are?” He asks Johnny, as if confused that Taeyong could have friends that Yuta had never met.

Taeyong’s jaw clenches at the word “close.”

Saying they were close, as if they had been nothing more than friends, and Yuta hadn’t taken Taeyong’s heart and jumped on it like a trampoline.

He feels his heart rise to his throat and looks at Johnny pleadingly, the words help me written across his whole face.

And as if Taeyong’s desperate, pleading eyes had been understood, Johnny nods his head.  

Like a switch had been flipped, Johnny puts on the most charming smile that Taeyong had ever seen from him, and loving gazes at Taeyong, a look he had never seen on Johnny’s face. 

What was he doing?

After squeezing Taeyong’s hand resting on the table lightly so he meets his eyes, with a look that screams “trust me” Johnny stands up and shakes Yuta's hand, saying a sequence of words Taeyong would have bet his whole life’s savings on never hearing from Johnny’s mouth voluntarily:

“Johnny Suh, so nice to finally meet you.” He grips Yuta’s hand forcefully, coming to his full stature to tower over him, “I’m Yongie’s fiancée. I’ve heard so much about you.”

Chapter Text

“Taeyong? Taeyong Lee? Is that you?”

Taeyong closes his eyes, his hands forming empty fists on the table, before he turns to greet them, his biggest smile forced onto his face, “Hey Yuta, Sicheng.” He nods his head to the latter who at least has the decency to look away, a light blush of what Taeyong hopes to be shame sitting high on his cheeks.

“I thought that was you!” Yuta responds with a giggle that Taeyong once thought was the cutest sound in the entire world, but now makes him want to pick up the knife on the table and gauge out his ear drums. That laugh haunts him. “What are you even doing here? You never leave the city!”

Taeyong can’t breathe, much less respond.

His whole body is paralyzed with barely restrained rage.

Thankfully, Johnny responds for him, a simple “We're on a road trip.”

When Johnny speaks, Yuta turns away from Taeyong with wide eyes as if he forgot that he had company.

“Oh, how rude of me! I’m Yuta, and this beautiful boy right here is my boyfriend, Sicheng. Taeyong and I used to be close before I moved out here! And you are?” He asks Johnny, as if confused that Taeyong could have friends that Yuta had never met.

Taeyong’s jaw clenches at the word “close.”

Saying they were close, as if they had been nothing more than friends, and Yuta hadn’t taken Taeyong’s heart and jumped on it like a trampoline.

Johnny moves to get out of his side of the booth, accepting Yuta’s outstretched hand into a visibly tight handshake, straightening to his full stature to tower over both Yuta and Sicheng.

“Johnny Suh, nice to finally meet you.”

While Yuta shows no surprise at the word “finally” because he thinks that he is the center of everyone’s universe, Taeyong looks at Johnny with a confused gaze. Johnny didn’t even know that Yuta existed an hour ago. 

Where was Johnny going with that?

Taeyong, eyes still glued to Johnny’s face watches his eyes as he glances at Sicheng’s arm looped around Yuta’s waist, and a look of anger flashes briefly across his eyes before he sets his jaw.

Taeyong pulls his cup of water closer to his body, leaning down to take the straw into his mouth as his eyes flit between Yuta and Johnny nervously. The two look to be in some sort of alpha-male standoff, and the tension in the room rises substantially.

Johnny drags his gaze back towards Taeyong, his head titled slightly as if struck with an idea, his lips pulling up on one corner and a look similar to mischief dances in his eyes.

Good things never come from that look, so Taeyong naturally expects Johnny to say something unexpected, but the next three words he says are a combination of words he never in a thousand years thought he would hear from Johnny’s mouth.

“I’m Yongie’s fiancée,” Johnny says with a smirk, voice so smug, his knuckles turning white from now tightly he is holding Yuta’s hand.

Taeyong’s eyes widen comically and he chokes on his drink, coughing into his hand as he tries to reign in the look on his face. He pushes the drink away on the table and grabs a napkin, wiping his mouth and shooting a look at Johnny that screams What the fuck are you doing?

“You okay, baby?” Johnny asks instead, feigning concern over his ‘fiancée’ choking on his water, dropping Yuta’s hand to come over to Taeyong’s side, his hand reaching towards him.

Taeyong has forgotten how to form words.

He feels his skin burning at the pet name, and the knowing smile Johnny is looking at him with, suddenly way too conscious of the large hand resting on his shoulder.

Johnny’s eyes flick to Taeyong’s red ears and a he raises an eyebrow. He was enjoying this, the bastard.

Taeyong tears his gaze away from Johnny and turns to Yuta in time to see his eyebrows arch so high they almost hit his hairline. A crazed look flashes across his face at the words fiancée and baby, and for a second he looks positively homicidal. The look only lasts for a few seconds before Yuta schools his expression back to nonchalance and gives them a tight-lipped smile.

“Wow, Yong, engaged…” Yuta trails off, a low whistle coming from his mouth. “You didn’t tell me?”

He sounds accusatory, as if Taeyong had neglected to tell his best friend he was getting married, rather than his piece of shit ex who cheated on him for the entire duration of the relationship and made it clear he meant nothing to him.

“We haven’t had much time to catch up,” Taeyong all but spits, having to physically restrain himself from getting up and slapping him.

Johnny gives his shoulder a squeeze, his muscles relaxing under the touch.

A touch that says I’ve got you. You’re not alone.

Taeyong doesn’t know whether to cry from relief or laugh because it’s Johnny giving him support. God, this day was already so strange.

“Clearly,” Yuta responds, dragging the word out as he sends a loaded glare towards Johnny’s hand resting possessively on his body, “We have a lot to catch up on.”

Taeyong doesn’t like the look he finds in Yuta’s gaze.

“And how exactly did you two meet?” Yuta asks, his jaw ticking.

Taeyong looks up at Johnny, craning his head to gaze up at him. He tries his best to look loving, but probably just looks panicked at the thought of having to lie. If Taeyong had learned anything with the Starbucks incident that morning it was that he was a terrible liar.

Johnny thankfully responds for the both of them.

“Well,” Johnny pauses, looking up as if thinking, “it was about two years ago now, right, baby?” He asks softly, his voice low and rumbling like it had been this morning.

Taeyong shivers, goosebumps coating his flesh. He just nods, not trusting himself to speak without saying something stupid.  

“So we were at a party our brothers were having, and he had been running late because of his restaurant gig he had going on, he had to cover a shift or something, and there he was standing in the door with his firetruck red hair sticking in every direction and his apron still on.” Johnny’s hand moves closer to the juncture of Taeyong’s neck and shoulder and he swipes his thumb along his collarbone, a small laugh leaving his body, looking like he was reflecting on a much-loved memory.

Johnny continues, “My brother introduced us, and we immediately got along,” they share a smile at that and Taeyong has to reel in a laugh at just how wrong the statement was. “I think I fell in love with Yong right then and there, and it’s been history since then.”

Taeyong’s traitorous heart skips a beat at the word love and his name in the same sentence coming from Johnny. He was almost too good at lying.

He thinks how long ago the first time they had met actually was and realizes with a start that he and Johnny met right before he had broken things off with Taeil and long before he had met Yuta. Because if Johnny was insinuating that he and Taeyong had been together for that long…

It only took one look at Yuta’s face to see he was also doing the mental math, if the tightness in his jaw and the way his hands were forming fists at his sides had anything to say.

He thinks that Taeyong had been cheating on him too. Taeyong wanted to laugh in his face, karma truly was a beautiful thing. He would frame the look on Yuta’s face right now if he could.

Did Johnny even realize what he had just implied? Either way, it was the perfect set-up. Yuta can’t be mad because he cheated too but knowing that Taeyong had ‘gotten away with it’ and he hadn’t, was obviously making him furious. Steam was practically coming out of his ears.

“Two years,” Yuta repeats, his voice just above a whisper. He turns his murderous gaze towards Johnny.

Taeyong feels the need to hide the knives on the table.

“I remember when Taeyong had that job as a waiter. Must’ve been hard to support the two of you,” Yuta says, looking pleased with himself, “That SoundCloud career wasn’t going so well, poor thing.” His voice is laced with venom and fake pity, and he is hitting the all of the parts of Taeyong’s heart that he is most sensitive about.  

Taeyong takes that back, he wants to take the knife on the table and throw it straight between Yuta’s eyes. Maybe Johnny was right, and he really was violent.

Taeyong stands up, ready to pull Johnny out of the restaurant, feeling tears building in his eyes.

But Johnny doesn’t move, a brick wall of muscle that Taeyong can’t get through. His demeanor changes in an instant and gone is the charmer looking at Taeyong with loving eyes and telling cute stories.

Standing before him is the Johnny Suh he first met, in his tailored designer suit, his words aimed to hurt. Cold.

It’s been so long since Taeyong had last seen Johnny so cold, Taeyong had forgotten how it felt. And god was he happy to not be on the receiving end of it for once.

“Oh, that’s where your wrong, Yuto--” Johnny’s words are quiet and low, the threat imminent in each vowel.

“--Yuta,” Yuta interjects.

Johnny continues as if he hadn't heard him.

“Do you hear yourself when you speak? Do you think you sound smart or that it’s funny that Taeyong had a job as a waiter in order to support his dreams?” Johnny is practically growling.

He takes a step forward. “Taeyong has shown more ambition than you probably will in your entire life. Just because he’s still working to that dream doesn’t take away from how hard he is working and how much he deserves it.”

Johnny takes another step towards Yuta, who in turn takes one step back. The look of pity was nowhere to be found, replaced instead with pure fear.

“And as far as having to ‘support’ the two of us,” Johnny practically spits out the word, “I think that you are forgetting that I made a name for myself at Goldman Sachs as their youngest executive director in over a decade, and quite frankly I make more money in a week than you do in almost a whole year,” He laughs, the sound mocking, “So no it wasn’t ‘hard’ on me, and if Taeyong needed support for the rest of my life it wouldn’t be hard on me then either.”

Taeyong feels his heart swell, a butterfly forming wings and breaking free of its cocoon. He looks up trying to meet Johnny’s eyes, his eyes rimmed with silver.

Did Johnny really mean all that?

Yuta has gone positively still, no sound coming from him but heavy breathing.

“Do Taeyong a favor and keep his name out of your mouth, your thoughts, your life. You can both rot in hell, have a nice lunch” Johnny says, his tone final with no room to argue.

Johnny pulls his wallet out and places a few bills on the table, grabbing Taeyong’s hand and turning them out of the restaurant, leaving a speechless Yuta and Sicheng behind.

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

If the way that Johnny had slammed his car door shut when they had climbed in wasn't enough of a tell that Johnny was still made, Taeyong can practically feel the anger still radiating off of Johnny as he calms himself down. His rage was so potent it was almost tangible. 

Taeyong himself is still mad, but his emotions are much more restrained, mingled with sadness and wonder at what the fuck just happened. 

Johnny doesn't bother to turn the car on as they take time to come down off the wave of emotions.

This means however, that they are sitting in their seats with the air filled with nothing but stale heat and suffocating silence.

Taeyong thinks that if he opens his mouth to say thank you, or ask 'why did you stand up for me', or ask if he meant what he said, or say pretty much anything, that he will start crying. In fact, he knows he will.

And Taeyong has made a fool of himself one too many times in front of Johnny, so he sits there, eyes glued to the dashboard, in complete and utter, painful silence.

The only noise that fills the air is the jingling of Johnny’s keys as he messes with them in his hands.

A few more seconds pass before they both try to speak at the same time.

“Listen, I’m so sorr—”

“Johnny I—”

They both look at each other, their surprised gazes, mirror images of the other.

“You first,” Taeyong says, his voice surprisingly steady for how emotional he feels.

Johnny clears his throat.

Taeyong lets his eyes roam over Johnny. He seems like a different person, softer, his fingers dancing nervously along his keys, his eyes downcast. He’s slumped in his seat to the point he almost looks small, the direct opposite of the cold, looming, direct persona he had adopted mere minutes ago.

“Uh, I was saying that I am, um sorry for how I acted back there, you know?” He meets Taeyong’s eyes briefly, “I know you don’t need anyone to fight your battles for you, and I know you didn’t ask me to do any of that, or force you to lie or anything, and um I’m just sorry. Yeah.”

“I just don’t understand why, Johnny.” His voice cracks, “You don’t even like me.” Did you mean it? Or was that part of the act too? Taeyong wants to ask but is afraid of the answer.

“Don’t say that,” Johnny mutters under his breath.

“Hmm?”

“It’s just,” He sighs, “I don’t know. It’s like, when he first came in you were so mad. But mad Taeyong I’m used to, you’re mad at me like all the time,” He laughs softly. “But then he kept touching that boy and talking about how beautiful he was and shit, and so I just said we were engaged because I knew it would make him mad, and I mean, fuck, you saw his face, he was pissed.” He runs a hand through his hair, the black strands shining in the light pouring through the window.

Taeyong’s heartbeat picks up in anticipation.

Johnny runs the same hand over his face, “And then, I just kept provoking him. I knew he was going to snap but I just kept going. And I am really, really, so sorry for that, I mean I don’t even know what I thought was going to happen, but … but then, ah then he said all that absolute bullshit and I just. I mean, Christ your face, Taeyong. That wasn’t the Taeyong I know. I watched your face fall as the words hit and it just, I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t just stand there and not say anything if you weren’t going to stand up for yourself. I mean, fuck, I am not a violent person, but I wanted to fucking hit him.” Johnny is talking so rushed most of his words are jumbled together. Taeyong doesn’t care though, because all he feels is warm. So, so warm at the words Johnny is saying.

“And, you meant it? You meant everything you said?” Taeyong asks, his voice barely above a whisper, cracking.

“About my salary being like 25 times his? Of course I meant it, the smug asshole was asking for someone to put him in his place,” Johnny says, a smile creeping back onto his face.

And fuck if Taeyong wasn’t grateful for that small semblance of normalcy that sentence offered him.

Taeyong slaps Johnny’s arm. “Shut the fuck up, you know what I meant, asshole,” he says with a grumble, his lips subconsciously matching Johnny’s smile.

“There it is, there’s that ‘I hate you, Johnny’ smile I’ve been missing,” Johnny whispers, “Thought I lost you there for a second.”

He reaches towards Taeyong’s face as if to caress his cheek before he quickly retracts his hand. Now that they aren’t pretending for Yuta, he has no reason to touch Taeyong casually.

That was acting, Taeyong reminds himself. He shoots Johnny a look, reminding him that he didn’t answer the question.

Johnny sighs. “Of course, I meant it, Taeyong,” he turns to put the key in the ignition, the car whirring back to life as some of the heavy tension in the air clears. “I still don’t like you very much, and I think you are an annoying little shit who likes to lie for fun, but yeah, I meant every single word.” He’s smiling, and Taeyong is tracing the lines of his face with his eyes, jotting down this moment in his memory. “You’re gonna get your dream someday, it just might not be today or tomorrow. Don’t let people like him tell you any different.”

“Johnny, Johnny, Johnny,” Taeyong tsks with a crooked smile, a bizarre idea popping into his head. All he feels is warm, so warm inside. Someone other than Mark is saying that they believe in him and that his dreams are valid, and he doesn’t give a shit that it’s Johnny, all that matters is that someone believes in him.

Johnny hums in question, setting up GPS on his phone to wherever they’re stopping for the night.

“I’m gonna do something crazy,” Taeyong laughs, clapping in maniacal delight at the terrified look he sees on Johnny’s face as he turns to face him, “Are you ready?”

“Absolutely not.” Johnny responds, “Why on earth would you preface something with that?”

“Close your eyes.” Taeyong can’t stop laughing.

“No.”

“Close them right now,” Taeyong says, his tone scolding like a schoolteacher’s.

Johnny doesn’t move.

“Don’t be like that, close your eyes,” Taeyong rolls his eyes when he just stares back. “Please, Johnny?” He tries instead, using his best puppy-dog eyes.

Johnny sighs in defeat. Taeyong knew the eyes would work.

With one last wary glance at Taeyong, Johnny slides his eyes shut. “I swear to god if you kill me now, Hyuck is going to be so pissed and will probably call off the wedding, and Mark will definitely never forgive you.”

“You are such a moron,” Taeyong mutters, laughing as he leans over the middle console and wraps his arms around Johnny’s neck, pulling him into his body in a tight hug.

At first Johnny jolts back, not expecting the sudden contact, but Taeyong just pulls him tighter, not letting him escape.

A few seconds later Johnny sinks into the embrace and eventually wraps his arms around Taeyong’s middle, the movement slow and tentative.

Taeyong closes his eyes and relishes in Johnny’s warmth. He smells like wood and tea and slightly of lemons, and Taeyong wants to drown in it.

He feels when Johnny finally opens his eyes, his eyelashes fluttering against Taeyong’s neck. It tickles, but Taeyong refrains from squirming. He doesn’t want his moment to burst.

When Johnny speaks, Taeyong feels it rather than hears it, the mumble of his lips pressed against the exposed skin on his shoulder making Taeyong shiver.

Taeyong.”

Johnny.” Taeyong mocks Johnny, the awe in his tone, his voice hushed.

Taeyong can’t stop smiling. 

“You’re hugging me,” Johnny whispers conspiratorially, like it’s a secret he’s not supposed to tell anyone.

“I am,” he responds, clearly amused. “What an astute observation, John. I see why they pay you the big bucks.”

“So, this is the Taeyong hug Mark and Hyuckie don’t stop talking about,” Johnny says, wonder in his tone. “I never thought I’d experience it, to be honest, but now I think I get it.”

“It’s my signature thank you hug,” Taeyong responds, as if that was obvious, “Don’t get used to it.”

“I hate you. God this is so weird. Don’t you dare stop,” Johnny responds, pouting against Taeyong’s skin.

And so Taeyong indulges him, relishing in the shared warmth for a few more minutes, before he has to go back to the real world where Johnny makes him want to rip out his hair.

“Don’t worry, I still hate you too,” Taeyong says, smiling against the top of Johnny’s head, his hair tickling Taeyong’s nose.

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

The next few hours in the car pass quickly, but not quietly.

They discuss the rest of the trip and how Johnny has planned out the days with specific destinations in mind. The 2,825 miles sound a lot less intimidating when they are broken up by day. Their next stop was apparently Columbus, Ohio, but Johnny could have said anything and Taeyong would have gone with it.

All he wanted was to get to the hotel and sleep. It wasn’t like Taeyong to wake up before eight, and the side-effects of his 6 am start to the day were hitting him like a truck.

They play rock paper scissors for who gets to choose the radio station, and of course Johnny wins. Because, Taeyong is “predictable,” and Johnny is a self-proclaimed “RPS genius.” Yes, he used those words, exactly.

The radio argument digresses and naturally launches them into a discussion of favorite artists, and albums, to which Taeyong reluctantly had to give Johnny some props for his music taste. To think that they had anything in common, even something as simple as music taste, makes Taeyong's heart twinge in an uncomfortable way.

Taeyong is put in charge of Johnny’s GPS and only makes them turn the wrong direction once. Which he gets a mouthful from Johnny about as Johnny takes the phone out of his hands. Of course, this only results in Taeyong whining and pouting for the next few minutes until Johnny sighs and hands him the GPS back.

About two hours into the drive, Taeyong asks Johnny to pull over, and takes out his phone to take a picture of the sunset, which was easily the prettiest he had ever seen. And maybe he takes a picture of Johnny too. What can he say, the view is nice.

Taeyong learns things about Johnny he wouldn’t have normally cared about, like how he used to play volleyball, and can play piano, and has a birthmark on his hip.

How he hums to music when he's zoning out.

How he bites his lip when he's concentrating.

How we glances over at Taeyong when he speaks, just to be told to look at the road, every time. 

Most of all, however, they argue. It wouldn’t be them if they weren’t constantly bickering. Taeyong even goes as far as to keep track of how many times he and Johnny argue in a note on his phone and by the time they are pulling into the Columbus Holiday Inn parking lot, his tally has reached 33. In just four hours.

When they finally pull into a spot and park, Taeyong’s body feels stiff, and he can only imagine how Johnny feels after driving for at least eight hours that day.

That’s not to say that Taeyong didn’t offer to drive, he was simply denied the chance by Johnny saying “I don’t need to see you drive, I already know your bad from just looking at you. I’d rather not die.”

Taeyong, of course, had chosen that as his hill to die on, and continued to argue for the next thirty minutes on why he was an excellent driver, and Johnny was stereotyping him as a gay man and saying that he couldn’t drive.

Was Johnny wrong? No. Did Johnny have to know that? Also, no.

Johnny leaves Taeyong in the car and goes to check them in, returning with two room keys, rooms 127 and 128, with an adjoining door.

Not that Taeyong would ever admit it, knowing that Johnny was just a room over made him feel a lot better about being alone in a hotel room in a foreign city.

They unpack separately, until Johnny calls through the wall "Dinnertime, baby!" in the same tone as Johnny the fake-fiancée, which leaves a stupid smile on Taeyong's face as he joins Johnny in his room to eat room service dinner on his floor, both of them far too tired and lazy to find a restaurant.

Full and tired, they separate with a plan to meet in the morning and go over the next day's itinerary over the hotel’s breakfast, to which Johnny only rolls his eyes and goes on a 30 minute rant about how buffets are just one big cesspool of germs and how Taeyong was going to get sick, and ultimately give it to Johnny, which would then delay them days from driving, and then they would somehow miss the wedding. This only served to remind Taeyong of just how fussy Johnny could be, making him roll his eyes yet again at how Johnny thought that something as mundane as a buffet was the source of all evil.

Taeyong gets ready for bed humming a Frank Ocean song that Johnny had pointed out as one of his favorites when it played on the radio, and promptly gotten stuck in his head. It reminds him of Mark, who has always loved to play Frank Ocean on his guitar, bringing it out whenever Taeyong was over, and with a smile he opens his messages to tell his little brother about his eventful day. Leaving out some bits, like the hug, he'd rather keep just to himself.

After messing around on his phone for a little, and checking the rest of his texts and scrolling aimlessly through his social media accounts, he turns the lights off and crawls into bed, his eyes fluttering shut almost immediately, a moan halfway out his mouth at the feeling of the heaven he feels when his body relaxes into the comforter, even if it was only a b rate hotel mattress.

Taeyong curls up on his side and falls asleep to the hum of the air conditioner in the corner, and he sleeps soundly for the first time in months.

Chapter Text

Taeyong is ripped out of his dream by the sound of incessant knocking at his door, and a voice calling his name over, and over, and over again. 

He throws his pillow over his head, relieved by the temporary silence, only to groan when the knocking gets louder.

He was sleeping so well, too. 

With a sigh, Taeyong rolls over and stretches his limbs, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

He takes in the unfamiliar green comforter and TV in front of him and pauses as it takes him a minute to remember where he is, and it all comes rushing back to him: Mark’s mishap with the plane tickets, the blue jeep waiting outside of his apartment, seeing Yuta, what came after, and Johnny. 

He hears the knocking again, and, with a low groan, stumbles out of bed to answer the door. 

“Taeyong, open the fucking door,” he hears a deep voice rumble.

Shit, Johnny

He would recognize that voice anywhere. 

Taeyong picks up his pace, speed walking the last few steps between his bed and the door.

“Taeyong, I swear to G--” 

Before Johnny can finish the word, Taeyong makes quick work of the dead bolt, unlocking it in record time, and flings open the door between their rooms. 

Taeyong’s mouth runs dry. 

Johnny was standing in front of him, a hand paused in the air as if he had been about to knock on the door again when Taeyong opened the door. He was already dressed, wearing jeans that did sinful things for his thighs, a simple white t-shirt, and a leather jacket. A fucking leather jacket. 

To top it off, he had pushed his hair off his face, only a few black strands hanging over his forehead.

There is no way that he should be allowed to look like that right now.

God, Taeyong needs to get laid. 

That has to be the only reason he’s thirsting over a pair of pants this early in the morning, right? Right

Taeyong eyes travel back up to Johnny’s face, where he finds Johnny’s eyes lazily dragging up and down Taeyong’s body.

Taeyong gulps.

A brief but loaded look flickers through Johnny’s eyes. Taeyong has no idea what’s going on in Johnny’s head, but in his eyes, in his dark, intimidating brown eyes, there was something Taeyong had never seen before.

Something dangerous and alluring.

Something that made Taeyong’s heart thud in his chest.

Taeyong brings his hand up to rub at his arm and with wide eyes is suddenly very aware of the fact that in his haste to get to the door, he had forgotten to put on a shirt, and the only article of clothing on his body were his sweatpants, hung dangerously low on his hips. 

So much uncovered skin, no wonder Johnny’s eyes were taking in every inch. 

Taeyong gulps again. 

Taeyong's whole body had turned a violent shade of pink, blushing furiously, but he refuses to cross his arms over his chest, leaving his hands twitching at his side. Johnny had already seen too much, as it was.

“Hi,” Taeyong chokes out, his voice still low and scratchy from sleeping. He clears his throat and tries again, “What are you doing here so early?”

At that, Johnny finally meets his eyes, only to roll them. 

Taeyong,” Johnny chides. “We agreed to meet at 9:15,” He looks down at his watch, “and it’s exactly 10:11 now.” Taeyongs eyes widen at the statement, his jaw dropping open. “Look, I don’t know if this is some sort of payback for yesterday, or whatever, but we seriously need to eat and get out of here ASAP if we want to stay on schedule for the rest of the week.” 

Taeyong snaps his mouth shut.

How was it after ten? Taeyong had set multiple alarms starting at like 8:30….

Taeyong darts his eyes around the room, and sure enough, sees his phone resting face down on the floor, unplugged, his charger discarded less than a foot away. 

His phone had died sometime in the middle of the night. 

If Taeyong could blush any harder, he definitely was right about now. Taeyong curses himself silently for being a big, raging, idiot with worms for brains.

He runs a hand through his hair, realizing that he hasn’t looked in a mirror yet this morning, and the over-bleached blonde strands are probably sticking in all sorts of unflattering positions, and tries to flatten it frantically. Not to say that that helped, it probably didn’t. 

“My phone seems to have not made it to its charger last night…” Taeyong gestures towards the phone still laying on the floor, and the adjacent charger. 

“Seems to?” Johnny raises an eyebrow.

Taeyong winces.

“Okay, fine, I forgot to plug it in. Happy?” He wants to roll his eyes again, but refrains. Because it was his fault, really, and Taeyong couldn’t exactly be mad at Johnny for being frustrated at having to wait. Taeyong knew all too well what that was like. 

“No, I’m actually kind of pissed,” Johnny sighs, dragging his hand through his hair, “I’m hungry, and I want to leave this hotel like yesterday. The mattress was way too soft and the AC was so fucking loud I could barely sleep.” 

Taeyong takes back his previous statement. Maybe he could be a little mad, Johnny was kind of back to being an ass, afterall. 

Had Taeyong hallucinated Johnny being somewhat nice yesterday?

Or, Taeyong thinks, remembering the simply absurd amount of coffee he had seen Johnny intake the day prior, was he simply caffeine starved? 

And I haven’t had any coffee, Yong. I’m practically dying here,” Johnny whines, his tone pitching up like a kid's. 

Ah, the second theory, it was, then.

Johnny’s caffeine addiction was already predictable, and Taeyong had only discovered it yesterday. The comment has Taeyong thinking that Johnny would love the coffee from the cafe across the street from his apartment back in the city, but catches himself right before he says they should go there sometime, when he remembers that they probably won't see each other alone ever again after the trip. 

The thought leaves a bad taste in Taeyong's mouth, though he can't quite place why

He shakes off the thought. 

“I’m truly so sorry, Johnny, I really can't apologize enough. No coffee before ten? That’s like a cardinal sin,” Taeyong scoffs in mock solidarity, watching as Johnny seems to agree with the statement. Taeyong holds back a laugh.

“I’ll be ready in five, I promise,” Taeyong says, with an awkward wave of his hand down his body, “I need to like get dressed, and pack, and maybe brush my teeth or something,” 

“Fine, but make it quick.”

Johnny turns, backing into his own room to walk downstairs. 

“Okay, I’ll meet you downstairs for breakfast,” Taeyong calls at his back.

Taeyong shuts the door behind him and leans against it, closing his eyes as he groans at how dumb he probably just looked. And acted, for that matter. 

He peels himself off of the door, and turns back to pack his suitcase, only to stop dead in his tracks. 

Taeyong was face-to-face with his reflection, and boy, was it a hot mess.

His hair was sticking straight up in multiple directions, comparable to someone recently struck by lightning. Apparently, his manual flattening with his hands had not done the wonders he wanted it to. His face was not only beet red from blushing, but upon further inspection, he had lines curving into his skin from his pillow. There was even a thin line of drool from the corner of his mouth to his cheek that Taeyong viciously wipes away. 

And as if it couldn’t get any worse, Taeyong finally drags his gaze down to his sweatpants, and his eyes nearly pop out of his face. If you look close enough, hell, even if you don’t look close at all, there was the painfully obvious outline of his dick. The full outline, not an ounce left to anyone’s imagination. It was practically 3D and shaded in. 

Taeyong is going to die of embarrassment. 

No wonder Johnny practically couldn’t look away, Taeyong’s dick had been staring straight at him. 

Taeyong slaps his hands on his cheeks, considering making his sheets into a noose and ending it all. 

On the plus side, he won't have to look at Johnny ever again, knowing he's basically seen him naked.

Then, on the down side, he considers that Mark would have no best man, no one to support him, and probably never forgive him. And, Johnny would probably rejoice knowing Taeyong had met his end because of his own stupidity. 

Taeyong sighs, death shall not win today, it seems. 

Taeyong drags his hands over his face and turns towards the bathroom to get his shit together.  

After brushing his teeth, and getting his hair to lie relatively nicely on his head, he leaves the bathroom to get dressed and finish packing, before Johnny has any more reason to think he's dumb as rocks.

And maybe, just maybe, Taeyong puts on some concealer and a little lipgloss, one of his better outfits he had packed, and gives himself a pep talk on how to not be an idiot every waking hour of the day, before walking down to the hotel lobby and searching for a particularly well dressed giant. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong had found Johnny at a table in the corner of the room furthest from the buffet, sticking out like a sore thumb. Not because of his height, or his clothes, or even his annoyingly handsome face, but because he was holding a menu, while the rest of the people in the room had opted to eat from the free hotel breakfast buffet like normal humans. 

Taeyong had considered eating alone, just to save himself some embarassment. 

After a moment of hesitation once he’d filled up his plate, he sighed and made his way back to Johnny’s table, sitting down reluctantly. 

Johnny had barely moved, refusing to take his nose out of the menu even to greet Taeyong. 

Taeyong’s eyes now take in the two empty coffee cups on the table and he smiles a little, at least Johnny got his caffeine fix. Now, Johnny had no reason to be so grumpy and rude. Not that Johnny probably normally had a reason when he was rude to Taeyong, but still.

Taeyong puts his hand on the top of the menu, pushing it down so that Johnny would meet his eyes.

“The buffet is literally free, Johnny, there’s no need to waste money on breakfast from the menu,” Taeyong reminds him. 

“I can afford a seven dollar breakfast,” Johnny deadpans. 

Taeyong sighs, “I know you can, John, but if I have to hear about you being richer than God one more time , I’m gonna…”  

At that Johnny raises his eyebrow. Going to what? The look reads.

A challenge like that should never be accepted. It was a rhetorical taunt and anyone else would just laugh sarcastically and move on.

But Taeyong wasn't normal and he was painstakingly never able to back down from a challenge from Johnny, even when he should, so he responds, listening each thing on a finger, “Slit your tires, put glitter in your luggage, put hair dye in your shampoo, drug you with laxatives, I don’t know, something.” Taeyong’s eyes go wide when he realizes that he admitted to thinking of those thing out loud. His filter seems to just fly out of the room whenever Johnny is around.

At that, Johnny puts the menu down on the table, leaning forward with an incredulous look on his face, eyebrows raised, laughing in disbelief. 

“Laxatives in my food? Are you kidding me?”

Taeyong swallows, “well, you know, the thought’s only crossed my mind like once or twice.” It did yesterday, he doesn’t add. 

Johnny laughs again, picking back up his menu before waving down a waiter.

“You are literally the craziest person I’ve ever met, like certifiably insane,” Johnny comments. Taeyong can’t see his face from behind the menu but he can picture Johnny’s crooked smile just from his voice. 

Then, under his breath, Johnny adds, “he would’ve loved you…” the smile still in his voice, but his tone a little softer. Taeyong wasn't even sure Johnny knew he had said it out loud.

Before Taeyong can ask who Johnny means, the waiter comes and takes his order, and they sidetrack.

Once he orders, they go on a 20 minute argument of waffles versus pancakes. 

To say the least, Johnny had ordered pancakes, and Taeyong was largely disappointed. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

About an hour into the drive, Johnny and Taeyong stop outside of Dayton, Ohio, to fill up Tina. They apparently had a long day ahead of them, and Johnny wanted to get gas when he knew there would be a station around. 

They had been discussing movies, trying to make easy conversation to pass time, and they had stopped on a particularly polarizing topic. 

Animated movies. 

“Animated movies are made for children, Taeyong, not 25 year olds,” Johnny says with a shake of his head, pulling into the spot in front of the gas tank, and putting the car into park. 

Taeyong had literally never, in his life, heard a more wrong statement. There was no way that they made all of the princes that hot if they were marketed towards children.

Excuse me ? I know that you don’t know how to have any sort of fun, but you literally cannot look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t like Studio Ghibli movies.” Who doesn’t like Howl’s Moving Castle? That was probably Taeyong’s favorite movie. That, or the Lion King. 

Johnny unbuckles his seat belt and leans towards Taeyong, cupping his face with both hands. 

Taeyong fights the urge to flinch from the intimate touch. 

His heart picks up from being so close to Johnny, and he sends a silent prayer that his face is not turning red under his hands. It is sadly not answered, as he feels heat rising in his neck and cheeks.

Johnny makes sure Taeyong is making eye contact with him, before leaning impossibly close and whispering, “I. Don’t. Like. Studio. Ghibli,” before leaning back a little with a teasing smile. 

Taeyong shoves Johnny’s hands off his face and huffs, “well, then you obviously have bad taste. You probably wouldn't know a good movie if it bit you in the ass.” 

At that Johnny laughs, unlocking the doors and getting out to get gas. 

“Tell that to my film school education,” Johnny calls with a teasing lilt from outside the car. 

His what now?

Johnny’s teasing tone that screamed ‘stop talking, you sound dumb’ was going to be the death of Taeyong. Especially as he was hearing it far too often now.

But still, Taeyong couldn’t help but to ask, “I’m sorry, what? You went to film school ?”

Johnny quite literally had not stopped surprising Taeyong in 24 hours. It was becoming infuriating that he was always a step ahead.

“Shouldn’t you have done something like, I don’t know, economics, or finance?”

Johnny laughs again, “I did, graduated summa cum laude with a BA in finance.” Taeyong chooses to ignore the blatant bragging, and especially refrains from asking him from where. Even if he is a little curious...

“How the fuck did you major in finance at film school?” 

“I didn’t,” comes Johnny’s answer. Johnny was clearly enjoying himself.

“I can’t stand you,” Taeyong starts. He has to physically restrain himself from hitting something. It was like everything Johnny did made him feel homicidal these days.

“I know,” Johnny responds, not providing any other explanation. 

Taeyong gives him a very pointed look, as if reminding him of all the things he had threatened Johnny with this morning.

The gas clicks, signalling a full tank.

“I transferred out of film school about half way through my second year,” Johnny starts, pulling the fuel nozzle out of the car. “I decided on finance because I’m good at math, and then next thing you know, I landed a job at Goldman and Sachs right after graduation, and well, here we are.” Johnny even had the audacity to shrug, as if getting a six figure job straight out of graduation was no big deal.

Taeyong rolls his eyes. 

"Why film school?" Taeyong asks, genuinely curious. Wanting to be in the movie industry wasn't something Taeyong had ever even heard Johnny talk about, so hearing he had gone to film school for almost two years was something he could barely wrap his head around.

Johnny shrugs, "I wanted to make movies." The way he says it reminds Taeyong of when grandparents talk about their youth, full of quiet reminiscence, somehow sad and happy at the same time. 

"Okay, then why'd you leave?" Taeyong asks, brows furrowed.

Johnny's nose scrunches, as if the question had upset him, "well, a series of bad things kind of happened, kind of each thing right after another, and I just lost my passion for anything creative. I guess being in that industry stopped being a dream of mine," Johnny trails off. "It's really a long story, I'll tell u some other time."

Taeyong hums.

As if Johnny had noticed the drop in the mood, he is quick to add with a crooked smile, "Probably for the best, though, seeing that I apparently have terrible taste in movies, and, and I quote, wouldn't know a good movie if it bit me in the ass." 

Taeyong laughs.

“I hate you so much,” Taeyong says.

“Aw, but hate is a strong word, baby,” Johnny croons, still standing outside of the car, but resting his arms on the driver’s side seat, his weight shifted towards Taeyong. He knew that Johnny had called him baby just to get a rise out of him, and as much as Taeyong didn’t want to give in, Johnny knew all of the right buttons to push to piss him off.

Well, ” Taeyong practically spits the word, “what i’m feeling right now is very strong.” 

Johnny’s smile only grows at that, as if Taeyong had played perfectly into his trap. “Oh, that’s so cute,” Johnny drawls out the vowels, almost purring, “Yongie has feelings for me.” Johnny leans even further, batting his eyelashes up at Taeyong. 

Taeyong shoves his chest, “I’m gonna shiv you. You know that’s not what I meant, you moron.”

Johnny reaches into the middle console and takes his wallet out from where he had thrown it this morning, all while tsking at Taeyong, amusement laced in his every word.

“So, so violent,” Johnny’s smile reaches his eyes, making him look younger. 

“Don’t test me,” Taeyong warns, donning his most intimidating glare. 

“Or what?” Johnny prompts, his smile turning a dangerous direction towards a smirk.

Taeyong almost shivers at the taunting look. He was, quite frankly, still recovering from receiving a similar look this morning.

Deciding that he had already revealed too many of his well-thought-out revenge plans this morning, and that he didn't want to give Johnny any more reason to think he was mentally insane, Taeyong concedes, “I don’t know yet, but it’s not gonna be good. Watch your back, Suh.”

Johnny tilts his head as if he found that especially amusing. Like you would to a puppy who barked when it didn't get its way. “Ok, I’ll make sure to do that. You go ahead and stew on that plan of yours for a little, I’m gonna go inside and grab some snacks for later.”

At that, Taeyong’s ears perk up, and he drops the act, “Snacks?” Johnny sticks him with a pointed look. 

Taeyong feigns innocence, putting his best pout on his face, and holding his hands to his chest, "Please?"

Johnny sighs, “Fine, what do you want?”

Taeyong bites his lip, thinking of what he wanted, “Hmm get me some gummy worms,”  Taeyong says, then remembers the chocolate bar he had the other day from the grocery store, “Wait, no, get me one of those like strawberry flavored chocolate bars. You know the ones with the gooey shit in the middle? Get me one of those.”

“Anything else, your highness?” Johnny asks, annoyed at Taeyong's lack of decisiveness.

“Actually yes,” Taeyong starts, laughing at Johnny’s scowl deepening. “Get me one of those yogurt drinks if they have them.”

Johnny mutters, "shouldn't have asked," under his breath, which makes Taeyong smile.

He pulls out his phone to write it down, and Taeyong makes a noise and gestures to it, “And If they don’t have those then text me and I'll get something else.”

Johnny’s brows furrow at that, “I don’t think I have your number.” 

When Taeyong sees the opportunity, he takes it.

“Are you asking me for my number, John?” He teases, using his most flirtatious voice and wiggling his eyebrows. 

“Do you want the snacks or not,” Johnny deadpans, raising his eyebrows. No fun. 

Fine , here, give me your phone and I’ll make myself a contact,” Taeyong says, reaching for Johnny’s phone with grabby hands. 

Johnny unlocks it and tentatively passes his phone over, “don’t put anything weird as your name or I’m never going to find it, and you'll never get your chocolate,” Johnny warns.

Taeyong simply giggles, saying we'll see.

“Fine, then give me yours. I’ll add myself into your phone too,” Johnny says, reaching a hand out into the space between them.

Taeyong sends him a wary glance before unlocking his own phone and handing it over. 

Taeyong saves himself as “taeyongie” and searches for at least two minutes for the perfect emoji to put next to his name, settling on the cat emoji with the kissy face. 

He clicks on the empty photo spot, and tries to work with the limited car lighting to take a selfie. 

He settles on a scrunched up face with a peace sign, and hits save.

Taeyong glances up, expecting Johnny to be looking at him impatiently having finished typing “John Suh” or something equally boring, but instead sees Johnny, brows furrowed, his finger swiping quickly through something on Taeyong’s phone.

Taeyong’s eyes widen at the motion, knowing damn well that the scrolling motion couldn’t be used in making a new contact.

“Hello? What’s taking you so long? Are you snooping through my phone?” Taeyong asks, pitch rising in panic.

Johnny glances up momentarily before going back to scrolling.

“Why? Something I shouldn’t see?” Johnny teases, raising his brows.

Right as Taeyong is about to say no, of course not, he remembers the picture he sneakily took of Johnny the day before when they stopped to take pictures of the sunset.

Fuck.

If Johnny saw that, he would either think that Taeyong was creepy, or he would think that Taeyong had a secret crush on him. Both of the options were quite frankly humiliating. Not to mention, not true. Taeyong was no creeper.

He sees Johnny smile, and it looks like he clicks on something. Fuck, fuck, fuck. “Wait you’re not actually looking through my shit,  are you?  Johnny, are you in the fucking camera roll?” Taeyong asks, panic evident at the end of the question. 

At that, Johnny looks up,“No, should I be ? What are you afraid of me seeing?” Johnny asks, before his jaw drops and he laughs out loud, looking into Taeyong’s eyes as he says with a goofy smile, “It's nudes, isn't it?” 

Taeyong’s face flushes immediately and he has to look away. No, absolutely not.

Johnny, however, takes the blush as an admission of guilt, and he suddenly laughs even harder, probably the loudest laugh Taeyong has heard from him, “No fucking way . You actually thought I found your dick pics?” He laughs between words, the sound coming out mostly as air at how hard he’s laughing. If he had tears in his eyes, Taeyong wouldn’t be surprised.

Then, Johnny continues, “not that you really left a lot to the imagination this morning, but seriously, like, wow... ” Johnny trails off, shaking his head. 

If Taeyong could blush any harder, he was. Right when Taeyong had finally convinced himself that Johnny hadn’t been looking directly at his dick this morning, of course he had to bring it back up. 

Because he was Johnny Suh, and Taeyong was never going to win. He really hated him right now

“Johnny, seriously, shut the fuck up. ” Taeyong wants to curl up into a ball, or crawl under his seat. He can simply never look at him again. If he thought this morning that, thinking that Johnny had been looking at his dick was bad, knowing that he was was undeniably worse. 

Johnny clicks a few last buttons on Taeyong’s phone before turning it off. 

“How bad even are your nudes that you would be that embarrassed about me seeing them?” Johnny asks with an amused smirk, passing Taeyong back his phone.

As if that would be why Taeyong didn’t want Johnny to see pictures of his dick, because they were bad, not because they were literally pictures of his penis. Also, what the fuck was that supposed to mean? Does Taeyong look like he takes bad nudes?

“I’ll have you know that I take excellent, top tier, well-lit, perfectly posed nudes, thank you,” Taeyong responds, slapping his hand over his mouth as he realizes what he just said.

Johnny’s eyes darken momentarily, flicking down Taeyong’s body before meeting his eyes with a pointed stare and a smirk, “that’s great, Yong, really thank you so much for sharing, I’ll be sure to remember that. I’ll be back in a few,” he says, shutting the door as he walks towards the storefront. 

Taeyong is about three seconds from either hitchhiking the rest of the way to California, or spontaneously combusting. 

I’ll be sure to remember that?

What the fuck was that supposed to mean?

Had Taeyong really never noticed that Johnny was such a shameless flirt? Or was this a post-breakup thing?

It had to be the post-Seulgi effect that had Johnny acting so bold, and so especially annoying.

Taeyong isn’t sure whether to hug her for all of the changes he’s seeing in Johnny, or send her hate-mail.

When Johnny comes back with his yogurt drink, and two types of chocolate bar, Taeyong decides on option one with a smile. For today, Seulgi was safe.

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

As Johnny had told Taeyong over breakfast this morning, their day was going to be a long one. They had left Columbus around 11:30, which had put them at least an hour and a half behind schedule, and was admittedly entirely Taeyong’s fault. 

From Columbus to St. Louis, their next stop, the drive time was about six hours. That is, if traffic and other outside circumstances played in their favor. And, they so rarely did . 

After stopping in Dayton for gas and some food, they decided on a late lunch at a drive through off the interstate, instead of sitting down like they had the day prior. While Taeyong would’ve much preferred to get out and stretch his legs, he was in no position to be complaining about Johnny making decisions in order to make up for time that Taeyong had lost them. 

However, while Taeyong’s chocolate bar had lasted him at least another hour or so on the road, his stomach started to growl.

It had growled a few times, and both him and Johnny had chosen to ignore it, until a particularly loud one that they couldn't pretend like didn't happen. It sounded like a stampede was going on in Taeyong's stomach.

Johnny draws his eyes off the road at the loud noise, looking to Taeyong with tired eyes, “Someone’s hungry.”

An understatement. 

“Maybe,” Taeyong responds sheepishly, “but it's fine. We really don’t have to... well, we, um, we don’t have to stop for food or anything. I know it’s my fault we are off schedule.” 

Taeyong picks at the hem of his sweater, waiting for a response. It was like him to be embarrassed in front of Johnny - it was practically Johnny’s job to fluster him - but he was so rarely so stuttering and nervous.

Taeyong can feel a steady gaze burning holes in the side of his face when Johnny turns to look at him. 

Johnny hums, considering their options, and flicking his gaze towards Tina's clock. "Well, if you’re hungry, we can drive through somewhere. I think, uhm, we are about to pass through like a major city anyway, so I’ll pull off an exit soon, ‘kay?”

“We don’t have to stop just for me Johnny,” Taeyong says, pausing and biting his lip, “I don’t want to be any more burdensome than I already am, with like, already crashing on your driving and making you late and, like being annoying, and stuff,” he trails off, looking back out the window. Taeyong suddenly realizes that he should be a lot more grateful to Johnny for agreeing to drive him. Had Taeyong been given the choice before yesterday, he’s almost sure he would’ve found a way out of it. 

Taeyong frowns at the thought. 

“Oh, Taeyong, come on now,” Johnny says, his voice filled with quiet disbelief. 

“Hm?” Taeyong responds, still looking out of the window.

“Yong, you’re not a burden, okay? I’m sorry that I made you feel that way.” Johnny sighs, leaning forward to look at the road signs for the next exit, “I know in the past we haven’t exactly, um, how to say this, liked each other all that much?” Johnny pauses at that, glancing almost nervously back at Taeyong to see how he takes it. Taeyong smiles softly at the thought. Johnny wasn’t wrong. 

Johnny takes Taeyong’s lack of response as cue to continue, “But we are in this together no matter what, so... asking for us to stop because you need to eat, or go to the bathroom, or whatever, is normal, and I’m never gonna be mad about that.” 

Taeyong thinks Johnny is going to leave it at that, as he turns his signal on and exits the highway, but he continues, smiling now, “besides, it’s just for a week, Yong. We can be civil for a week. Then after this week is over then you can crawl back into whatever pit of hell you come from, and run your anti-johnny fan club, or whatever it is you do in your free time.”

Taeyong laughs out loud at that, the sound coming out almost mostly as air, his signature, quirky laugh. 

“Careful,” Johnny warns, smiling.

“Hmm?” Taeyong asks, his brows furrowed slightly, genuinely confused. 

Johnny takes a right, onto the next street, lined with fast food restaurants. 

“That laugh,”  Johnny starts, grinning, “I think your ‘i hate johnny’ facade is cracking.”

Taeyong gasps, holding a hand to his chest in fake disbelief, “Facade? Oh John, it’s no facade . How could I be the president of the anti-johnny fan club from hell if it was all just a facade?” Taeyong says in his most serious voice before breaking and laughing at his own joke.

Johnny just shakes his head instead of answering, but his own smile grows, small lines forming at the corners of his eyes

“How does chick-fil-a sound, Mr. Club President?” 

“Sounds perfect,” Taeyong says, still laughing, then quieter, “thank you for stopping.”

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

The rain starts just about an hour after their lunch break.

It was a quiet drizzle, and the calming pitter-patter of rain against the roof of Johnny’s car combined with Taeyong's near-comatose state after eating a chicken sandwich, fries, and a milkshake almost lulled Taeyong to sleep. 

The clock read that it was just a few minutes shy of three, meaning that they had about three and a half more hours left.

“The rain will pass,” Johnny had said, confident. 

Taeyong simply made the mistake of believing him.

Approximately thirty minutes later, it had reached a point that it was raining so hard that Johnny’s worn windshield wipers couldn’t beat fast enough to keep off the rain, making it virtually impossible to see anything out of the window. 

Johnny had still insisted that, fine, maybe the rain wasn’t going to pass immediately, but it was fine, and they probably shouldn’t stop. 

Again, Taeyong said that it was fine, Johnny was driving, he probably knew best. Also a mistake.

Not even ten minutes later, Taeyong could feel the car beginning to hydroplane and felt Johnny struggle to correct the slide, causing the car to swerve, and demanded that Johnny stop at the next rest station, before they got killed, in a panicked voice. 

At that, Johnny had vehemently agreed, the scare seeming to have shaken even him a little, as his hands were gripped impossibly hard on the steering wheel. 

Johnny had said that while Tina was perfect in most ways, she was not built to weather a storm, and it was probably best to wait out the rain a little. Taeyong wasn’t sure if he agreed with the first part, but the second part was undeniable. Tina was simply too old for torrential downpour.

Johnny turns on his signal to exit the highway, the ticking noise of the right arrow on the dash barely audible over the pounding of Taeyong’s heartbeat. 

As soon as Johnny pulled into a parking spot, Taeyong let out a shaky breath, finally letting go of his arm rests that he hadn’t even noticed he had in a white-knuckled grasp. 

Johnny had an equally freaked out look on his face, and once he put the car in park and turned it off, he sunk into his chair, pushing his hands through his hair. 

The once styled black strands now hung over his face, slightly mussed from all of the times Johnny had run his hands through it throughout the day. 

Johnny and Taeyong make eye contact and each let out a shaky laugh and a holy fuck. 

“I think I’m gonna like walk around for a bit. Yeah, I need to cool down and walk around, I’m still like jittery,” Johnny says, shaking his arms out with his head tilted towards Taeyong. 

“You’re gonna get soaked,” Taeyong comments, looking towards the rain that’s pouring even harder than it was a few minutes ago.

Johnny’s nose scrunches up.

“I know. Shit, I guess I’ll sprint. I’m gonna change though, I don’t want the leather to get fucked up,” Johnny says, peeling off his jacket.

He rummages around in the back seat for a while, until he returns holding a worn out Vetements sweatshirt with a satisfied grin. 

It was the most casual thing Taeyong had ever seen him in, and it was still designer.

Only Johnny , Taeyong thinks with a soft smile. 

Johnny throws his hood up and, as promised, sprints towards the main building, a black blur Taeyong can barely follow through the haze of the rain. 

Taeyong takes a few minutes to focus on calming down his breathing, closing his eyes and leaning against the cool glass of the window, listening to the sound of rain falling around him. 

When he has finally calmed down enough for his hands to stop shaking, he picks up his phone and scrolls through his notifications. He swipes through his emails, deleting the spam, and moves on to his texts. He smiles at a youtube video link that his work friend, Doyoung had sent him, making mental note to watch it later when they stop for the night. He responds to a few more messages from work people saying they miss him already, and sees at least 200 unread texts from the group chat for the wedding party; these he chooses to ignore, knowing that Mark, or even Johnny would just fill him in later. 

After flipping through Twitter and Instagram for a few minutes and still no sign of Johnny back from cooling down, Taeyong decides to call Mark.

The phone rings at least three times, and right as Taeyong is about to hang up and text him instead, Mark answers.

“Yong, hi!” Mark heaves, his words coming out between gasps of air.

“Markie, um, why do you sound out of breath? Please, God, tell me I didn’t interrupt anything,” Taeyong responds, mind already running through the worst of situations involving mental images he wishes he could erase. 

“Hahahaha, what? No. I was just in the other room doing some things for work when I heard the phone ring, I had to run to catch it before you hung up, I knew you wouldn’t wait for the answering machine to leave a message.”

Taeyong laughs at that. After living just the two of them for so long, they knew each other like the back of their hands. 

“You know me too well.”

“I do, which is why I have a feeling this isn’t a random check in. What’s on your mind, T?”

“Can’t your big brother just call for a chat?” Taeyong asks, voice weak. He isn’t even sure why he called Mark. It was like being around Johnny so much had put him off kilter and he needed the normalcy received from Mark’s calming voice.

Mark pauses, then says , “It’s Johnny, isn’t it?”

“What do you me-”

“What did he say to you?” Mark interrupts, his no-room-for-arguments voice on full force. 

Taeyong can’t even think of anything Johnny has done in the past few days that wasn’t warranted, or at least playful. But still, there was something...

Mark continues, “Did he insult your hair again? I know you’re still not over that.”

“Well, no.” Taeyong frowns, thinking.

“Um, did he make fun of your job? Did he, I don’t know, punt a small child? Kick a puppy? Be especially mean to you in literally any way?”

 Fuck. 

Taeyong realizes with a start what has been happening that has his system out of whack.

It wasn’t Johnny being mean, or being terrible, or rude, or snobbish. It was… 

“Worse, Markie…” Taeyong doesn’t even know if he can say it out loud.

“You can tell me, T, what did he do?”

“He was nice to me…” Taeyong whispers, horror creeping into his voice.  

“He was what? I’m sorry, did I just hear you wrong? Is this a fever dream? Have you been drugged? Being held captive?” Mark asks, laughing between each statement. 

“I don’t even know what’s going on anymore. It’s like, so we ran into Yuta, and Johnny, he defended me, Mark.”

“As he should’ve, Yuta treats you like shit -- ” Mark interjects.

“-- No, listen to me, Mark. He not only defended me against Yuta, but then he proceeded to make him look like a grade A moron. Like scared the shit out of him. And then afterwards was so nice to me that I fucking hugged him. Hugged him, Mark! I'm not even a touchy person with people I'm friends with! And then, today, I made us late because I accidentally slept in, which is a long story I don’t want to get into, and he was annoyed, of course, but he wasn’t even that mean. And then he, get this, Mark!” Taeyong pauses for dramatic effect, “He even apologized to me today for making me feel bad!”

Mark keeps laughing. 

“I think he’s gotta have some sort of plan, Mark. I feel on edge and my stomach hurts constantly, and I can’t like stop thinking about him, I know he’s up to something. 

“Taeyong I think I know what the problem is,” Mark says, a smile evident in his voice. Taeyong could practically picture his high cheekbones squished into a wide grin. 

“Oh, thank god, I thought I was losing it.”

“Yong, you have a crush on Johnny”

Time stopped. Taeyong felt the need to laugh out loud or cry, or maybe both at the same time. 

“Mark, I love you, but that is quite literally the most moronic statement I have ever heard. I can’t have a crush on Johnny, I hate him.” Taeyong responds, confident. 

A crush? On Johnny? The thought had never even crossed Taeyong’s mind. 

Sure, if he was drunk and didn’t know him, he may go home with him from a bar, but a crush? Taeyong can't even imagine it. 

“The uneasy feeling in your stomach is butterflies, T. And you can’t stop thinking about him, because... you like him. You’re spending all this time with him alone, which you’ve never done before. He’s funny, and you know it, but probably refuse to admit. He’s exactly your type, he’s successful, he has good taste in music. T, you definitely just have a crush on him,” Mark declares, ranting off each point of the list like he had it prepared.

Mark's points all made sense, sure, but Taeyong simply refused to admit the possibility. 

“That’s ridiculous, Mark. I - just, No. I don’t have a crush on Johnny, why would you even suggest that?” Taeyong asks, offended. 

“I can’t wait for the day I say I told you so, but sure, for now you can live in denial.”

“Ok, well that day is never going to come, so. On that note, I’m hanging up. Talk to you soon Markie.” Taeyong ends the call before Mark can say anything else that will make his brain feel boggled. 

He turns his phone off in his lap and stares out the window at the rain, Mark’s words replaying in his mind. 

A crush, a crush, a crush on Johnny.

The phone on his lap buzzes, a new text notification popping up. 

Taeyong is confused at first when he sees the sheer amount of emoji’s in the contact name, not remembering giving anyone that title, then realizes who it had to be. His lips turn up subconsciously when he reads the name. So that’s what he had spent so long doing this morning.

 

From: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

2:31 pm: You’re going to want to come inside and see this. 

 

Taeyong begins to re-pack his bag and finds a bucket hat to throw on so he doesn’t get but so soaked in the torrential downpour. It was so like Johnny to tell him to come inside and not give him a reason why.

Just as Taeyong is about to open the door and start to run, his phone buzzes again.

 

From: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

2:32 pm: Also, nice contact photo.

 

Taeyong bites his lip as he remembers the selfie he had taken that morning and saved as his contact picture on Johnny’s phone. He wouldn’t admit it out loud, but he had taken the picture a few times. It had to be silly, but not ugly, kind of cute, but not too try-hard. A hard task to say the least. 

He unlocks his phone to open his chat with Johnny, right when another text rolls in.

 

From: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

2:33 pm: Cute.

 

Taeyong blushes, Mark’s words just repeating over and over and over in his head. 

A crush. A crush. A crush.

And then, as if it couldn’t get worse, Taeyong sees a bit of color at the top of the page and glances up up to look at Johnny’s contact at the top of the message chain. 

Sitting in Johnny’s contact photo was a little pink and purple monster, with endearing little orange stripes, and big eyes, with a snaggle tooth. 

Lanky Fucking Schmidt. 

Taeyong's heart warms up a little bit at the thought that Johnny had remembered what Taeyong had called him and decided to make it his contact. 

A character from monsters inc, an animated movie, which he had never seen and thought was childish by principle. 

Well played, Mr. Suh, well played. 

Johnny hadn’t been searching for emoji’s to use, he had been searching for the cartoon Taeyong had called him the day prior as a poorly done joke. 

It was cute, and endearing, and fuck if it didn’t make Taeyong’s poor, poor heart skip a goddamn beat. 

Taeyong was so screwed.

Chapter Text

Any butterflies that had stirred up in Taeyong’s stomach from Johnny calling him cute immediately die when Taeyong steps into the building and sees Johnny’s expression.

His lips were downturned in a frown, his eyes glued to the wall, worry carved into the lines between his eyebrows.

Right as Taeyong opens his mouth to ask him what’s wrong, Johnny turns, and Taeyong's eyes drift behind him.

Johnny hadn’t been zoning out, he had been looking at an old TV tucked away in the corner of the room. 

Upon closer inspection, Taeyong notices that the weather channel is playing, the volume either low or off. While he had been expecting to see green on the forecast from the sheer amount of rain pouring down outside, the area they could see around where they had stopped was instead flashing with a bright orange “severe storm warning,” coupled with a flash flood watch for the surrounding areas. 

Shit, no wonder Johnny had looked worried.

As if to emphasize the point, a large crack of thunder booms, the sound echoing off the walls, shortly followed by a flash of lightning that illuminates the dim room. 

Taeyong feels his skin prickle over with goosebumps, and shivers. He’s never liked storms. 

Johnny waves a dismissive hand towards the TV, sighing, “it looks like we might have to stop here for today and pick up the rest of the hours tomorrow.”

Taeyong does the mental math on how much time they would have to make up the next time they got on the road, and groans. “Isn’t that like at least three extra hours?”

Johnny shrugs, running a hand up through the short hairs at the back of his head, “yeah, it is, but tomorrow was actually supposed to be a shorter day so we can add the rest of today on, I guess,” Johnny pauses, looking up, in thought, “actually, even if we need to take six days instead of five it’ll be fine. We don’t even need to be there until Sunday and we are supposed to get there by Saturday right now.”

Wait. If they didn’t even need to stay on a strict schedule in order to get there on time, then that meant that...

“You’re basically telling me that I was all worked up this morning about making us late and missing the wedding for nothing, then?” Taeyong asks, his voice cracking slightly. 

Johnny smiles his signature shit-eating grin that Taeyong was slowly seeing more and more often. Taeyong wants to smack that smile off his face. 

“Well, yes,” Johnny laughs, “but, it was actually pretty fun to watch you physically struggle to be nice to me. You did kind of look like you were going to cry or throw up, though I couldn’t decide if it was from guilt, or nausea from having to say the words “I'm sorry” to me.”

Taeyong cringes, looking away in embarrassment. It had definitely been from guilt, being as Taeyong’s guilt conscience had a mind of its own, and often took over all of his thoughts. 

Taeyong looks around the room for the first time since coming inside, only to notice that he and Johnny appear to be the only people in the building. 

How small of a town, exactly, had they stopped in?

He hadn’t really thought much about it at the time, as he had been trying to sprint as fast as he could to avoid getting wet, but Taeyong didn’t think he had seen any other cars in the parking lot on his way inside. 

Taeyong turns back to Johnny, brows furrowed, “where even are we right now? It looks deserted.”

Johnny pulls his phone out of his back pocket, opening up maps, “I was actually just going to check. The TV is showing the weather channel for Terre Haute, but I’m pretty sure we passed through there on the way, so,” Johnny says, trailing off as the town name pops up. 

“Riley Township,” Johnny reads. He scrolls on his phone for a few seconds, presumably at the google results, then his eyes go wide, his brows raising dramatically, “holy shit.”

Johnny looks up, any traces of worry about the storm warning in his eyes replaced by humor. 

“Yong, guess how many people live in Riley, Indiana.”

Taeyong has to fight back a small smile from Johnny using a nickname. How far they had come from Johnny pretending he didn’t know his name. 

“I don’t know... a few thousand?” Taeyong guesses, thinking of how small it had seemed when they had driven into the tiny town. 

“Less.”

Taeyong scrunches his nose, trying again, “um, okay, one thousand?” 

Less.” 

Less? How the fuck are there less than a thousand people?” Taeyong asks, incredulously.

“No, like way less,” Johnny responds, clearly amused. 

“Fine, I don’t know, six hundred?” Taeyong starts to worry that they won’t be able to find a close hotel and will have to take Tina onto the roads again and potentially get hurt. That, or sleep in the car for a night. The thought made his stomach turn. 

Johnny just shakes his head. 

Taeyong sighs, exasperated, “fine, John, how many?”

“Two hundred and eight, ” Johnny responds, laughing at the almost immediate expression of shock on Taeyong’s face. “And, get this. What’s even weirder is that this place, I mean like this building we are in right now, doesn’t even show up on the map like at all.

Taeyong feels a slight chill run up his spine and decides that he doesn’t like this place, like at all. 

“Okay, yep, that’s it! We’re leaving,” Taeyong says, popping the p. He grabs onto the hem of Johnny’s sweatshirt, and turns them around, tugging him towards the door. 

Johnny’s hand wraps around Taeyong’s wrist and he tugs, effectively stopping the both of them. 

Taeyong gulps at the strong grip, his stomach clenching at the knowledge that he probably couldn’t get his wrist free even if he wanted to. 

“Not so fast, Yong, it’s still pouring out,” Johnny says, adding, “you said it yourself, we shouldn’t be driving Tina out in this weather.”

“I am not standing in this building for one second longer,” Taeyong responds, pulling against Johnny’s iron grip, “I feel like we are about to get kidnapped, or like robbed, or haunted by a ghost or something.”

Taeyong shivers again, at the thought. This place definitely gives off haunted vibes. 

“So you’re telling me you just want to sit in the car, with the car off, and not inside the building with the heat on?” Johnny asks with a raised eyebrow. 

“That is exactly what I’m telling you.”

Johnny sighs, letting go of Taeyong’s wrist, gesturing towards the door, “lead the way, captain.”

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

After sprinting back to the car, both Taeyong and Johnny are considerably more soaked than Taeyong could have imagined, and both freezing

Taeyong is mentally cursing himself for being so rash in his decision making, the chill he felt from being in the abandoned building is nothing compared to the chill he feels in every fibre of his being from the ice cold rain. 

Johnny had shed off his sweatshirt almost immediately after he shut his door, leaving him in his mostly dry  t-shirt; meanwhile, Taeyong had just taken off his hat and shivered down to the bone in his soaking wet sweater.

Taeyong tried not to think about how well the t-shirt clung to Johnny’s arms and stretched across his shoulders. He really tried. But, he hadn’t really seen Johnny wear anything other than a suit before the day prior, and suddenly all he could see were Johnny’s muscles moving under the thin white cotton every time that Johnny shifted in his seat. 

At least he had taken off the leather jacket, before Taeyong had the chance to go feral. That leather jacket should stay packed away until Tayeong was a good, safe distance away. It was a dangerous thing, that jacket.  

Taeyong has to remind himself constantly that Johnny is the worst, and that he does not have a crush. He’s the ultimate enemy. A crush? Absolutely not. 

So why couldn’t he get the thought out of his head? 

Taeyong frowns. Stupid Mark and his stupid ideas. A crush. Ridiculous

He runs his hands up and down the wet fabric that is currently clinging to his arms, trying to create some semblance of warmth. It doesn’t seem to work, as he still feels like he was dunked in the arctic ocean, but he continues the motion nonetheless. It’s at least distracting him from his disconcerting thoughts. 

Great, now Taeyong is pissed about his taste in men and his choice in attire. 

A few more seconds pass, before Johnny speaks up, his voice carrying over the all-encompassing silence of the car. 

“You’re soaking wet, you’ve gotta be freezing,” Johnny comments, looking at the thin sweater plastered to Taeyong’s body like a second skin and his pale, shaking hands. 

“I look wet! How observant of you, John,” Taeyong snarls, rolling his eyes. “You know, that is normally what happens when you walk through rain with no raincoat!” 

Johnny looks taken aback from the sudden attitude, completely oblivious to the war going on inside of Taeyong’s head. 

“I know that, idiot. I meant why are you still wearing that? It’s soaked through, just take the sweater off,” Johnny says pointedly, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“I can’t,” Taeyong responds through chattering teeth. 

Nope, absolutely not

He can’t because Taeyong’s things are out of reach and he isn’t wearing anything under his sweater, not to mention that Johnny had already seen far too much of him this morning, which was embarrassing enough the first time. Taeyong would rather just die of hypothermia than sit in Johnny’s passenger seat half naked and pretend like it wasn’t weird. 

Johnny cocks his head to the side, “Just put on the sweater you wore yesterday, or something,” he suggests. 

“I can’t,” Taeyong repeats, clenching his teeth to try to stop the chattering. 

“Is it because you don’t want me to see you shirtless?” Johnny asks, confused. Met with Taeyong’s wide eyed gaze, he continues, “I mean, I can close my eyes? If that would make you feel better? But, like, I have kinda already seen everything so I don’t know why you’re being so weird abou-” 

“--Oh my god, Johnny, no!” Taeyong chokes out, embarrassed. He did not need to be reminded of everything that Johnny had seen this morning. In fact, he wishes he could forget. 

“No as in you don’t mind me seeing you shirtless?” Johnny cocks an eyebrow, amused.

“No, what? I literally did not say that. Please, for the love of all things holy, shut the fuck up.” Taeyong feels his cheeks burning. He clears his throat before trying to speak again, “I meant “no” as in I can’t change because all of my shit is in the trunk and I don’t want to go back outside and get even wetter to go get it, so I'm just going to sit here and... be wet, I guess,” Taeyong mutters, ineloquently. 

“Oh,” Johnny says. 

“Yeah, oh,” Taeyong mimics, rolling his eyes. For how smart he seemed to be, Johnny sure was slow sometimes.  

Taeyong flexes his freezing fingers, making sure they still work. When he was packing, he figured that the second week of June's weather would be warm, hot even, hence the t-shirts and light sweaters he had packed, but is currently cursing himself for not packing anything warm. He thinks about his black fuzzy coat back home and a small whimper escapes his throat. 

Johnny turns a little more in his seat to face Taeyong head on, leaning his head back against the window, looking absolutely content as he relaxes in his seat. Taeyong, on the other hand, picks his feet up onto the seat and huddles into his body, still shivering. 

Johnny watches Taeyong suffering for a few seconds longer before sighing and pointing over the top of the driver’s seat to his luggage which was still laying open across the back seat, from earlier. “Just wear something of mine,” He suggests, yawning. Maybe Johnny hadn’t been exaggerating when he said he slept terribly in the hotel, the night before.  

Taeyong thinks about how he used to love borrowing Yuta’s clothes, or any past boyfriend’s, really, because it reminded him of them, and it made him feel safe. Yuta was definitely bigger than Taeyong was, but Johnny... Johnny’s clothes would swallow him whole. He hums, thinking of just how much he wants to drown in soft fabric, how a sweatshirt would wrap around him like a cocoon of warmth and comfort. He thinks of how it would probably smell like the wood and citrus and tea leaves of Johnny’s cologne, of how he would smell like Johnny

Taeyong hates how much he wants it. He hates that he knows what it feels like to hug Johnny, he hates that he knows what his cologne smells like, he hates that he likes it. He wishes he could go back to when hating Johnny was as easy as breathing. Now he doesn’t know anything, anymore. 

He opens his mouth to reject the offer, when Johnny cuts him off. 

Ah, ah, ah,” Johnny scolds, pushing off of the window to lean forward and twist around to get to the back, “I know that face, Taeyong, but I’m not taking no for an answer.” Johnny reaches over the console into the back seat to plough through his suitcase again. 

Taeyong allows himself a small smile, knowing that Johnny can’t see it. Somewhere deep down, as much as he doesn’t want to admit it, even to himself, he was hoping Johnny would say that. Taeyong was really cold, afterall. He would accept warmth in any way he could get it. 

“Blue or Black sweatshirt?” Johnny asks, head still in the backseat. 

“Seriously how many sweatshirts did you pack? It’s --” Taeyong looks down at his phone, “--June ninth , Johnny, it’s literally summer time.”

Johnny laughs, “Three, and I don’t want to hear anything about it. If I hadn’t packed so many then you’d still be cold. So, blue or black?”

“Whichever one is comfier, please,” Taeyong responds, a smile reaching his eyes at the prospect of being warm again. Then he remembers he has to get undressed in order to change, and his smile is replaced by a sigh and a grimace. Undressed. Half-naked. Semi-nude, and less than two feet away from Johnny. 

Today was not Taeyong’s day. 

Johnny returns back to his seat, offering Taeyong a bundle of blue fabric. Taeyong takes it and shakes it out, holding it up in front of him, only to laugh when he sees the text on the front.

“INSTANTFUNK?” he reads with raised brows, looking back at Johnny with a laugh, his head tilted slightly. 

“It’s a brand, idiot. And, it’s the comfiest shit you’ll ever wear, so don’t you dare make fun of the instantfunk sweatshirt,” Johnny says, laughing softly. “Plus, It’s Hyuckie’s favorite and I never let the gremlin borrow it, so you should feel very honored,” Johnny adds. 

Taeyong smiles at the thought of Hyuck pouting at Johnny with grabby hands, trying to get his big brother to let him borrow the sweatshirt. As much as he dislikes Johnny, his younger brother was easily one of Taeyong’s favorite people. 

Johnny tugs lightly at the hem of Taeyong’s wet sweater, and softens his voice, “C’mon, you’ve got to take this off, you’re gonna get sick if you stay in it much longer.” 

Taeyong hears a hint of concern in his voice and wonders who exactly this Johnny is. Because this Johnny, who lends Taeyong his clothes so he doesn’t get sick, and sticks up for him against abusive exes, and buys him lunch as an apology, this Johnny wasn’t the Johnny he thought he knew three days ago. This Johnny makes his heart flutter and his skin feel like it’s on fire, and has thrown Taeyong blindly off a cliff into his own feelings. 

As quickly as he can, he peels off the wet sweater and throws it onto the ground where it lands on the floorboards with a resounding plop, and, as quick as humanly possible, puts on Johnny’s sweatshirt. 

As soon as the warmth hits him he moans unabashedly, sinking back into his seat with a resounding “Fuck.”

“I know, right?” Johnny says, his tone a little darker as his eyes take in the sight of Taeyong wearing his sweatshirt. He clears his throat, and the look snaps out of his eyes as quickly as it had appeared. “Can I say ‘I told you so’ yet, or do you want to relish in the magic of the instantfunk sweatshirt a little longer.”

“Just a little longer,” Taeyong whispers, drawing the hood up and drowning in the comfort. All he felt was warmth surrounding him, like a cat bathing in the sun in a window. He feels his eyes flutter shut, the pattering of rain still singing a soft melody in the background. 

His bubble of contentment is quickly broken. 

“Sure thing, baby,” Johnny purrs. 

At the pet name, Taeyong’s eyes fly open and he scowls. 

“You need to stop calling me baby,” Taeyong scolds, pointing a stern finger in Johnny’s direction. 

“Is that so?” Johnny asks, leaning forward a little bit, to curl a finger around the shell of Taeyong’s ear. He drops his voice to a whisper, “every time I say it, your ears turn bright red, and you get flustered. It’s cute. I think you like it.”

Taeyong shivers at the intimate touch, pushing at Johnny’s shoulders until he sits back in his seat, laughing even as his back hits his door. “I do not,” Taeyong says, the words 'it’s cute' echoing in his mind.

“What do you like, then?” Johnny asks, suggestively. 

Now that was not a question he thought he'd ever hear from Johnny.

Excuse me?” Taeyong shrieks, his voice pitching up in embarrassment. 

“If you hate being called ‘baby,’ then what do you like partners to call you?” Johnny clarifies, his voice even and calm. He sees the incredulous look Taeyong is shooting him and follows up with a roll of his eyes, and, “I promise not to use anything said in the next few minutes against you, I’m just curious.”

“But, but that’s personal, I am not answering that,” Taeyong responds, trying to cover his blush as he hides even deeper in the hood. 

“C’mon, it’s not even that hard of a question. I’ll answer any question you ask me after that, to be fair,” Johnny says, before adding, “no, seriously, you can ask me anything and i’ll answer honestly. 

The thought had some appeal, but still… 

“Johnny, we aren’t fourteen years old anymore, i’m not playing fucking 20 questions with you.”

“Taeyong, need I remind you that we are literally sitting here waiting out the rain? I’m bored out of my fucking mind,” Johnny starts, glancing at his watch, “We have at least an hour sitting here before the rain calms down even a little bit, we might as well make it interesting.” He pauses, before adding with suggestive eyes and a huskier tone, “plus, we can ask a lot more fun of questions than a fourteen year old could.” 

Taeyong gulps. He isn’t sure that he likes the direction that this was going in, but Johnny did have a point. They had a lot of time, and nothing better to do. If it was this, or sit in total silence, Taeyong could pretend he was a highschooler again, playing games at a sleepover. Just this once. 

“Fine,” Taeyong relents, wondering what the fuck he just agreed to. 

Johnny smiles, before holding his phone up to his mouth as a pretend microphone, “Mr. Taeyong Lee isn’t a complete loser after all, folks!” 

Taeyong punches his shoulder, “shut up, asshole. What even was my question, again?”

“Favorite nicknames,” Johnny responds, his grin growing, “you know, pet names you like, since you claim to hate “baby” so much.”

Fuck. Taeyong forgot that was what had started this whole mess of a conversation. 

Taeyong clears his throat, and says, “well, to start, um, I actually don’t hate baby--”

“--I fucking knew it, ” Johnny interjects, his head rolling back to hit the headrest. 

Taeyong slaps his arm again, “hey, dickwad, let me finish a sentence.” 

Johnny shoots him a glare, but stays silent, allowing Taeyong to continue. 

As I was saying, I don’t hate baby, or babe, if it’s from my boyfriend. Not from you, idiot. What else? I mean I like Yong and Yongie, that’s kinda obvious though. Um, I like when Markie calls me T or TY," Taeyong pauses, frowning, "Well, but, actually, whenever Yuta said it, it kind of pissed me off, so not so sure about that one,” Taeyong trails off, thinking of how Yuta had called him that just a day ago, and he had felt sick to his stomach. 

“Oh, come on, Taeyong, I know you have some better ones than that,” Johnny says with a teasing tone, egging him on. 

Taeyong knows Johnny is just trying to get a rise out of him, he knows it, but still, at the suggestive tone, a thought does flash through Taeyong’s mind. It was a name a one-night-stand from college had called him in the heat of the moment, but it was so borderline kinky that he would rather catch on fire than say the word out loud to Johnny. His nose scrunches up at the thought, and he lightly shivers, before schooling his expression into nonchalance, preparing to tell Johnny that “baby” is about as crazy as a pet name gets for Taeyong. 

But of course, as things always seem to be when it comes to Taeyong and Johnny, Taeyong is as transparent as a piece of glass, and Johnny notices the change in Taeyong’s face immediately, no matter how brief or miniscule. 

"That, that right there,” Johnny says quickly, pointing at Taeyong’s face, snapping him out of the thought. “Whatever you just thought of. I wanna hear that one.”

Taeyong blushes furiously at the fact Johnny can read him that well, and then again at the thought of admitting to Johnny that he had liked the nickname that he had thought of in the first place.

“Absolutely not,” Taeyong shakes his head. 

“C’mon, I thought we were going to be open and honest, here. Don't be like that, Yong, just tell me.”

Taeyong just shakes his head. He can’t speak, knowing that Johnny will somehow coax the word out of him if he opens his mouth, the conniving fucker. Why had Taeyong even agreed to answer the question in the first place?

Johnny, however, doesn’t relent, “Wait, unless…. No, surely not.” Johnny starts, pointing a finger at Taeyong, already laughing. The sound makes Taeyong’s stomach drop, knowing that, once again, he was somehow going to humiliate himself in front of Johnny. 

“Unless, oh my fucking god, it’s kinky isn’t it,” Johnny says, to Taeyong’s absolute horror. “I mean, first the nudes thing and now this , Taeyong, my oh my, you are full of surprises.”

Taeyong stammers, “for the love of God, Johnny, I don’t have nudes just laying around on my phone!" Taeyong closes his eyes and rubs at them in frustration, "besides, the nickname wasn't even that kinky,” he adds. 

Fuck. Taeyong's eyes fly open and he realizes his mistake a step too late, right as Johnny says, dark humor lacing his voice, “not that kinky? So you admit that there is one you’re not telling me and that it’s kinky. Now you have to tell me.”

Taeyong swallows, looking anywhere but at Johnny, mustering up the will to say it before he loses the courage to do so. 

“Fine, thenicknamewaskitten,” Taeyong mutters, his toes curling up in his shoes in embarrassment. 

“I’m sorry, what was that? I can’t hear you,” Johnny responds, voice low, fingers reaching up to tug at the string of the hoodie so that Taeyong looks at him. 

"Kitten,” Taeyong repeats, slightly louder, squirming a little under the intense pressure of Johnny’s gaze. He can feel Johnny’s hand still tugging at the string of the hoodie, but refuses to look him in the eye.

“Little bit louder, Yong, you gotta enunciate,” Johnny’s tone is impossibly low, commanding. The kind of voice that doesn’t take no for an answer. 

Taeyong’s fists clench at his sides. He knows that Johnny damn well heard him that time, he's just trying to make Taeyong into an even more flustered mess. Asshole

“I hooked up with a guy in college who called me kitten when we fucked, and it was hot, okay? Are you fucking happy now?” Taeyong practically yells, before clamping a hand over his mouth in horror of admitting that out loud.. to Johnny

Johnny tugs on the string of the hoodie once more before he leans back into his seat, head resting against the window, again, his lips curled up into a satisfied smile. “Oh, I’m happier than you could even imagine, baby,” Johnny drawls, his gaze heavy on the profile of Taeyong’s face. His voice was deep as ever, and maybe Taeyong was hallucinating, but it sounded a little bit strained, and the low timbre went straight to Taeyong’s core.

As much as Taeyong felt the need to cleanse the horrifying thought from his system, Johnny calling Taeyong 'baby' after he had admitted to liking it made him blush, and not from embarrassment.  

The air in the car suddenly feels too warm and Taeyong sits on his hands before he can do something stupid, like reach out and trace the veins on Johnny’s forearms that have been staring at him all afternoon. 

Kitten,” Johnny repeats in a low whisper, as if mulling over the thought, then adds, “I like it, it suits you.”

Taeyong’s dick twitches at the sound of Johnny whispering the word so softly. Also, “it suits you...”  What was that supposed to mean?  Taeyong decides that he probably doesn’t want to know the answer, and that he definitely needs to change the topic of conversation, and fast. 

“Yeah, anyways, let’s move on!” Taeyong says, dragging out the ‘s,’ a nervous habit he had definitely picked up from Mark 

“Fine,” Johnny sighs, as if he wasn’t as excited to move on from the previous topic as Taeyong was, “I'm a man of my word, so ask me anything. Actually, let’s do the rest of them rapid fire. Like, say the first answer that comes to mind,” Johnny explains. 

Taeyong closes his eyes, thinking of the least sexy question he can ask, deciding on, “Favorite type of pizza?”

Johnny just stares at him, his mouth agape, “Taeyong,” he laughs, “are you kidding me? You told me you like to be called kitten when you’re getting fucked, and you want to know what I like on my pizza?” 

Taeyong has to stop himself from reacting to the sentence, willing his ears and cheeks to calm down from the angry red shade they are certainly painted right now. He really wishes Johnny would stop saying that word.

“Maybe I’m curious about things not related to your sex life, John. Besides, what happened to ‘rapid fire’ answers, anyway?” Taeyong asks, with maybe a little more venom than intended, but finally, finally finding his footing in the conversation. There you go, Taeyong, you’ve still got it. Arguing with Johnny has always been easy, it's like second nature at this point.

“Fine, Jalapeños,” Johnny deadpans, “Biggest fear?” he asks. 

“Germs,” Taeyong responds honestly, relieved Johnny had asked him a relatively easy question. Johnny laughs at his response, muttering an ‘of course it is’ under his breath. 

“Um, favorite color?,” Taeyong asks. 

“Boring, so boring, Yong,” Johnny says, rolling his eyes, before answering, “favorite color is blue. What’s your biggest turn off?" Johnny asks, a small smirk making its way back onto his face, undoubtedly expecting Taeyong to get flustered again. 

Taeyong rolls his eyes, because of course Johnny had to make it sexual again.

But this time, Taeyong stands his ground, even lowering the hood to look Johnny dead on. He’s tired of letting Johnny work him into a full-body blush at the mere mention of anything sexual. He was twenty five years old, for god’s sake, it wasn’t like he was some sort of blushing virgin, plus he refuses to let an overgrown puppy with a six figure job and a penchant for being an asshole fluster him any more. Taeyong squares his shoulders, deciding that he can, and will, hold his own for the rest of the conversation.

Bring it on, Suh. Bring. It. On. 

“Probably bad hygiene,” Taeyong responds quickly, before frowning slightly at his next thought, “or smoking , I can’t stand that shit. I had an ex who smoked and I still have nightmares about the smell of his car,” Taeyong adds, shivering at the memory. 

Johnny laughs, “I feel that. Your turn, c’mon ask me something good.”

Taeyong may be prepared to answer anything Johnny asks him, but is still, admittedly, slightly scared of what, exactly, Johnny's definition of “something good” was, or where that would lead, so decides to play it safe.

“Can you play any instruments?”

“Piano,” Johnny says, leading Taeyong to look at his hands to confirm that, yes, Johnny does have long fingers that would probably make him a good piano player, while also noticing that, yes, holy fuck, his hands are huge. He gulps, snapping his gaze away from them before his mind can go astray with thoughts on Johnny’s hands in places they really shouldn’t be. 

“Weirdest place you’ve ever had sex?” Johnny asks, bringing Taeyong back to the conversation. 

“A graveyard,” Taeyong says with a devious smile. He can’t even feel embarrassed by the question because his answer is so outrageous that he’s had to tell the story at multiple parties. Taeyong finds himself amused by Johnny’s visible surprise. “Trust me, it’s a long story,” he adds. 

“I imagine it would have to be,” Johnny says, laughing in disbelief, “I was expecting you to say, like, a hot tub,  or something incredibly mundane. You don't strike me as the exhibitionist type.”

“Nope,” Taeyong smiles at the comment, popping the ‘p’ in nope,  “I’ve done that too, though,” Taeyong adds a second later, his grin reaching his eyes.

Johnny’s gaze noticeably drops to Taeyong’s lips as he darts his tongue out, only to drag slowly back up his face and meet his eyes with intense eye-contact. Taeyong refuses to back down from the loaded look he finds swirling in the deep brown of Johnny’s eyes, instead matching him with his own levelled stare. 

“Full of surprises, Mr. Lee, aren’t we?” Johnny asks, an eyebrow raised, his tone amused.

“You don’t even know the half of it, Mr. Suh,” Taeyong responds, biting the inside of his cheek. 

“Your go,” Johnny says, breaking eye contact to relax back in his seat, “ask away.”

“Body count?” Taeyong asks, before he loses the nerve. 

Johnny smiles, “finally, a fun one.” He pulls up a hand to count, looking off into space as he thinks about his answer, “It’s less than ten. Only five or six, I think?”

Taeyong isn’t sure what he was expecting Johnny to say, but five or six definitely felt lower than what he was expecting. He bites his lip thinking about the number of people he hooked up with in the beginning of college, and sends a silent prayer that Johnny doesn’t return the question, lest he sound like he slept around a lot. 

Not that Taeyong cares what Johnny thinks of him, of course...

“My go,” Johnny says, bringing back Taeyong’s attention. “Have you ever topped?” Johnny asks, his annoying, signature smirk back on his face, his eyes lit up in dark amusement. 

Taeyong tries to remain calm, and refrain from blushing, he was doing so well, too, but the question mixed with Johnny’s voice has him feeling like he’s in the hot-seat and he can feel the heat slowly rising up his neck and chest. 

“Yes,” Taeyong responds, admittedly a little strained, but nonetheless amused by the flicker of surprise that runs through Johnny’s eyes. 

Two can play at this game, Taeyong decides. 

“Have you ever bottomed?” Taeyong asks in turn, hoping to catch Johnny off guard. 

But of course, that would be too good to be true. It’s Johnny, afterall, Taeyong’s convinced nothing could catch him off guard. 

“Bold of you to assume I’ve slept with men, Taeyong--” Johnny starts, his voice a little too serious, only to drop the act and start laughing when Taeyong begins to apologize frantically for assuming, “I’m kidding, Taeyong. God, you should’ve seen your face,” Johnny laughs harder, before answering the question, “I’ve actually probably been with more guys than girls, but no I haven’t ever bottomed,” Johnny responds, not an ounce of embarrassment in his voice, or any color rising in his face. 

How on earth does Johnny not get flustered at all talking about this shit? Taeyong feels like he could spontaneously combust at any given minute. 

“Have you ever been in love?” Johnny asks, his tone genuinely curious. The previously heated atmosphere drops slightly, replaced by a more serious air in the car. 

Taeyong has had plenty of boyfriends, sure, and he even thought he had loved many at the time they were dating, but the cold-hard truth was, “No, I don’t think so.” Taeyong has had so many relationships fail that he was starting to think that maybe love just wasn’t in his cards for the future. 

Johnny hums, his head tilted towards Taeyong as it rests on the corner of his chair, next to the headrest. 

“Have you?” Taeyong parrots, also curious. As cautious as Taeyong had initially been with starting this whole question for question thing with Johnny, there was so much he didn’t know about him. So much he surprisingly wanted to know about him. 

“Been in love?,” Johnny clarifies, to which Taeyong nods, prompting him to continue, “Yeah, I was in love once. A long time ago, though,” Johnny says with a sad smile. He looks softer like this, his eyes gentle and looking into the distance, no remnants of the mocking smirk from before, his mind probably off in his own world. This was the Johnny that Taeyong had seen earlier. The Johnny he’s been seeing glimpses of for days now. Taeyong wonders where he’s been hiding this side of him under his cold, corporate, asshole exterior, and why he’s been hiding it for so long. 

Then Taeyong realizes what a dumb fucking question that was to ask, becuase shit, Johnny had told him just the day before that his girlfriend of a million years broke up with him. Why must Taeyong have such perpetual foot-in-mouth syndrome? 

“I’m sorry, I forgot about Seulgi,” Taeyong says quietly, before adding, with a small laugh, in hope of making the conversation a little lighter, more playful, “Not sure if that really counts as a ‘long time ago,’ though, John.” 

Johnny doesn't laugh, though, rather turns his head to look him in the eye, his gaze taking Taeyong by surprise. His expression looks inexplicably raw, and Taeyong is surprised by all of the emotions that Johnny is letting pass through his eyes.  

“It’s okay, I didn’t mean Seulgi,” Johnny says quietly, only to backtrack slightly when he probably sees the shock on Taeyong’s face, “fuck, that sounds bad. You know that I don’t mean I hated her, or anything. I mean, we were together for a few years, and I loved many things about her. She meant, she means a lot to me," Johnny corrects, "and I don’t think I would be here if I hadn’t met her,” Johnny pauses, looking down at his lap, as if talking to himself, rather than to Taeyong, “but was I in love with her? No, I don’t think so.”

“Who was it, then? That you were in love with?” Taeyong asks softly, curious as to who could’ve captured Johnny's heart to the point that even perfect-on-paper Seulgi couldn’t compare.  

Johnny just shakes his head. “Well, first of all, you already asked your question, so it’s not your turn anymore. Secondly, you don’t know them. It was a long time ago, way before we met each other,” Johnny says, a slight smile finding its way back onto his face. 

Taeyong is equally happy to see the unsettlingly sad look fall off of Johnny’s face, and curious as to who could have affected Johnny to the point he doesn’t want to talk about them. Johnny is nothing if not an open book. 

He sighs, knowing he can’t push Johnny for an answer that he doesn’t want to give, conceding, “Fine, ask away.”

Johnny hums, “tell me something no one else knows.”

“That’s more of a demand than a question, but okay, let me think of a good one,” Taeyong says. 

He thinks of telling Johnny a story from college, or maybe about the time he accidentally mass-ordered his favorite type of febreeze and was too embarrassed to tell anyone that he ordered 3 whole boxes instead of 3 bottles, but at the front of his mind there is only one thing that feels right to say. Something that’s been weighing him down for some time now. Something that seemed to fit the slightly more serious turn that the conversation had taken. 

Something that no one else knows

“I applied for my dream job at a recording studio a month ago or so ago,” Taeyong all but whispers, his voice so quiet that he isn’t even sure that Johnny can even hear him, his words coming out in a jumbled mess with how quickly he says them. He isn’t even sure why he’s telling Johnny of all people, but... with the rain falling in the background, and the warmth of his sweatshirt, and Johnny’s soft smile that makes Taeyong want so badly to trust him, Taeyong feels surprisingly safe. 

It feels right to share what he’s been holding in so closely with Johnny. Johnny's words from the cafe with Yuta play back in his mind, words that Taeyong will probably never forget: “Taeyong has shown more ambition than you probably will in your entire life. Just because he’s still working to that dream doesn’t take away from how hard he is working, and how much he deserves it.” 

“Wow, that’s -- that’s great, Taeyong," Johnny says, interrupting Taeyong from his thoughts, "I’m happy to hear you’re chasing your dreams. You’re trying and that’s enough, even if they say no. I think they’ll say yes though, you’ve done the work to deserve it,” Johnny smiles.

Johnny believes in him, and that’s enough, for now. Someone believes in him. 

Taeyong smiles at the thought, before Johnny continues.

“Is that true though, that no one else knows? Or, I guess, just me, now?” Johnny asks, a hint of surprise in his tone.

Taeyong nods, his smile dropping a bit as he looks at his hands in his lap.

“I never told anyone I was even looking at applying. Not even Mark, or any of my friends. Not a soul,” Taeyong feels his eyes prick a little and shakes his head, trying to wave off all of the incoming emotions that are threatening to push him over the edge. “I didn’t wanna tell anyone, because everyone has had to make so many sacrifices to help me chase this dream, and what if I just get denied? I just, I don’t want anyone to pity me. And, Mark has just been so supportive of everything for me that I know he would get so excited about it, and I don’t wanna let him down, if they tell me no.”

Taeyong looks up from his lap, finding Johnny’s eyes from across the car, looking for the support he so desperately needs. Looking for the understanding and validation he craves in every fibre of his being. “I’m so scared of letting him down, Johnny.”

Taeyong is trying so desperately to read Johnny’s expression, to see if he sees any pity in his eyes. The last thing Taeyong wants is Johnny’s pity. 

“Yong, you could never let Mark down,” Johnny replies, no trace of the mockery that Taeyong had feared hearing in his voice. “You don’t even know how much he looks up to you, how proud he already is of you,” Johnny says softly, reaching forward to run a finger under Taeyong’s eye and across his cheek, wiping away a tear that escaped, “He talks about his big brother like he hung the stars.”

“Yeah?” Taeyong whispers, feeling another wave of emotion hit at the overwhelming love he feels for his baby brother. 

“Yeah,” Johnny responds with a smile, his hand lingering on Taeyong’s cheek in a fleeting caress. It’s there and then it’s gone, the ghost of Johnny’s fingers still dancing on Taeyong’s cheekbone even once he takes his hand away. Johnny draws his hand back into his lap, looking forward, “He talks about you all the time. Always says he doesn’t know how we don’t get along, because he can’t imagine anyone not loving the man he wants so badly to be just like. Says I’m a fool,” Johnny grins. 

Taeyong laughs, wiping quickly at his eyes, grateful that Johnny is obviously trying to lighten the mood.

“You are a fool, Johnny Suh, my Markie would never lie,” Taeyong says, finding his lips curling up subconsciously to match the smile on Johnny’s face. 

“Maybe so” Johnny laughs, buckling his seat belt before picking up the keys and turning them into the ignition, “the rain is probably at the weakest it’s gonna get tonight, I think we should head out and try to find a place for the night before the the storm gets worse again, yeah?” 

Taeyong looks out the window, surprised that he hadn’t even noticed the rain had slowed down, too distracted by his momentary vulnerability and near meltdown. He nods, “Yeah, let’s go before it gets worse again.”

Taeyong buckles his own seat belt and watches as Johnny pulls out of the parking lot. 

Taeyong has a small smile on his lips as they pull back onto the road, that he just can't seem to shake. Someone believes in him.

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

It was safe to say that the smile and small bubble of hope that had followed Taeyong out of the parking lot did not last long.

Over an hour after they had left the parking lot with the plan of going to a hotel that was just ten minutes away, Taeyong finds himself standing with a scowl, looking like a drowned cat wearing Johnny’s now soaking wet sweatshirt, dripping rainwater onto a motel lobby floor. 

He’s kind of pissed, to say the least. 

Johnny doesn’t look much happier, a step in front of him, arguing vehemently with the woman at the front desk. 

Ma’am, every hotel was full because of some wedding party, for whoever the fuck gets married in BFE Indiana, and the sign outside says that you have vacancies. Not to mention, there is only one other car in the parking lot, so I really don’t know why you’re telling me that you don’t have any rooms when I know you need the business. We just need two beds for the night . Please ,” Johnny says, his tone sharp, full of authority. This was the voice of a man who commanded a team of analysts at one of the top banks in the world. This was the Johnny Taeyong thought he knew.  

The woman just scoffs and clicks through her computer, smacking her gum in a way that makes Taeyong want to rip it out of her mouth and throw it. 

Taeyong looks at the woman's name tag, reading "Pamela." 

Smack. Smack. Smack. Bubble. Pop said bubble. Repeat.

Pamela was getting on Taeyong's last nerve. 

She looks down her nose at Johnny, and says, in her nasally tone, quite possibly the rudest way possible, “you can’t have two rooms, young man, because there aren’t two vacancies, there’s only one. There’s a unit with a double, that should be good enough for you two,” She pauses, looking over Johnny’s shoulder, “the angry little one probably weighs a hundred pounds soaking wet, ya can share the bed,” she says, waving a dismissive hand in Taeyong’s general direction, who was, unironically soaking wet.  

Soaking wet and definitely pissed. 

Johnny looks back at him, exasperated, “Is that fine, Yong?” he asks, his eyes pleading for the answer to be yes. 

Taeyong just nods, too exhausted to drive to any more hotels, and definitely too exhausted to sound off at dear Pam for being so rude to him. Johnny was probably just as done with the day as he was. 

Quite frankly, Taeyong would be willing to sleep in a bathtub at this point. They had driven to not one, not two, but three different hotels only to be turned away each time. As Johnny had said, who the fuck gets married in a random ass town and fully books three hotels? Did they have a wedding party of 300 or something? The storm had only gotten worse, and now there was constant thunder and lightning booming outside, causing Taeyong to feel even more unsettled. Each new crack of thunder causes him to jolt, leaving him growing more and more uncomfortable with standing in the sketchy hallway. Not to mention, after walking to and from the car at least five times between hotels, both of them were soaked to the bone, sweatshirts and all. And, as the cherry on top, the lights in the motel were flickering, a sure-fire sign that the power wasn’t going to stay on throughout the night. 

And yet, still, anything was better than sleeping in the car… even if the creepy, deserted motel with a bitch of a worker was their last resort. 

So this is how Taeyong finds himself dragging his suitcase through a dim hallway, side-by-side with an equally pissed off Johnny, following a descendent of satan, herself, towards a shoe box of a room with one bed.

Room 127. 

Pamela opens the door, and hands them their key, leaving them to stare with open mouths and wide eyes at the bed, which looked somewhat closer to a twin size than a double, and the utter lack of other furniture in the tiny room. There is a small fridge, with a microwave on top of it, shoved into the corner, but other than that, the room is completely barren.

At least there’s a bathroom, Taeyong thinks.   

As Taeyong had accidentally slept in this morning, he hasn’t showered in almost 48 hours, and his bleached hair is probably greasier than it had been in over two years. He doesn’t even have to look in a mirror to know he looks terrible, he just knows. He can feel it.

Johnny, somehow, still looks fine, which only serves to piss Taeyong off. 

To make things worse, Johnny had burned through all three of his sweatshirts, so once they got into their room, he brought back out the leather jacket. Taeyong doesn’t know what he did in a past life to deserve such cruel and unusual torture. 

“Yo, are you hungry?” Johnny asks, moving to sit on the floor, with his weight resting on his arms, behind him. 

“Yeah, kinda,” Taeyong admits, then realizes where they are,  “Damnit, I didn’t even think about that. There’s definitely not a restaurant around here, and I really don’t want to go out on the road right now, I think the storm is getting worse.

The large crack of lightning and subsequent boom of thunder that follow his sentence only serve to prove his point. 

“Never fear, Johnny to the rescue,” Johnny says, leaning forward to grab his bag with a smile. 

“You are such a dork, I literally can’t believe I thought you were intimidating for so long,” Taeyong mumbles under his breath. 

Johnny pulls two cups of ramen from his bag and some chopsticks, and Taeyong feels his mouth water. He hadn’t even realized how hungry he was, he had been so stressed about the storm and finding a hotel. 

“You thought I was intimidating?” Johnny asks with a laugh, standing up to go get some water from the bathroom to cook the noodles. 

Of course Johnny had heard him. 

“Well, yeah. Need I remind you of our first interaction? You’re were like eight feet tall and big and scary, wearing a suit, and had this viper of a girlfriend who looked like she was gonna hiss at me if I got too close to you,” Taeyong starts, which gets a laugh out of Johnny, “Not to mention,  you were being a massive dick. Like seriously, dude, what the fuck was your problem? You literally looked like you were going to be sick if you had to speak to me any longer”

“I did not,” Johnny says, peaking his head out of the bathroom, “Don’t tell me you’re still mad about the me making fun of you for being late thing, I thought we’d established that I was kidding.

“No, well, actually that was rude, but I’m not even talking about that. You didn’t have to say anything, you just looked at me in disgust for like five minutes. I was convinced you had just never seen colored hair before, I mean you stared at mine like it put a bad taste in your mouth for like the whole conversation,” Taeyong says with a look that screams I’m right and you know it. 

“No, what? That’s not--” Johnny shakes his head with a laugh, coming back into the main room and putting the food in the microwave, and pressing start, “Okay well first of all , I was having a really bad day. Like a really bad day. And, secondly, I wasn’t doing that. I wasn’t looking at you funny on purpose. I liked the red hair,” Johnny says, smiling. 

“So, you’re telling me that I hallucinated the whole thing?” Taeyong asks, brows raised. He knows that Johnny isn’t telling him something, but Taeyong can’t figure out what, or why

Johnny sighs, “Well, no, you’re probably right. I’m sorry, I was pretty rude--”

Excuse you, only pretty rude?”

“Okay fine, whatever, Taeyong, I’m trying to apologize here,” Johnny says, laughing, “can we just pretend like that day didn’t happen? Please ?” 

Johnny was being weird. Weirder than normal, that is. Taeyong was simply just too exhausted to try to figure out why. His brain hurt enough just from Johnny telling him he exaggerated half of the things he had been mad about for so long. 

The microwave beeps, drawing their attention back to the corner of the room. 

“No, I think I’m going to stew on the grudge for at least two more years,” Taeyong responds, breaking his chopsticks and pulling the ramen out of the microwave. 

“The first two years weren’t long enough?” Johnny asks, smiling as he takes his own cup out of the microwave. . 

“Nope. Push my buttons some more and it'll be three more years, Suh,” Taeyong says, sitting down on the floor to blow on his noodles. 

Scary,” Johnny mocks, taking a seat next to Taeyong. 

They finish their noodles with only arguing twice. 

Progress, Taeyong thinks with a smile. 



☽☽☽☽☽☽ JOHNNY POV ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Johnny is on his phone, scrolling through missed emails and texts, when the overhead light surges and goes out. The sudden power outage causes the room to plunge into absolute darkness, the only light coming from the phone in his hand. He hears a loud shriek from inside the bathroom, followed by what Johnny can only assume is a shampoo bottle hitting the floor and Johnny laughs out loud, imagining Taeyong’s face when the lights in the bathroom suddenly went out, mid-shower. 

Then Johnny decides maybe it’s for the best not to imagine Taeyong in the shower. At least not when he’s only ten feet away, that is

Johnny is currently lounging in the bed, his sleeping place for the night, using the crook of his arm as a kind of make-shift pillow. He and Taeyong played rock paper scissors earlier for who got to sleep in the bed, which obviously Johnny had won. Taeyong was so predictable, Johnny almost felt bad. He couldn’t decide if he should continue with the “I’m a rock paper scissors master” story he had come up with yesterday, or cave and explain to Taeyong why choosing rock every. single. time. was simply not the best strategy. But, seeing Taeyong’s cute frown every time Johnny threw rock and crushed his scissors was simply too entertaining to ruin the fun. He would let the joke go for at least a little longer

Johnny was currenty pillowless, though not by choice, but rather because apparently motels that only cost $45 a night have one pillow per bed, rather than the standard two, and even though Johnny had won the right to the bed and all of its perks, Taeyong had pouted and tugged on his sleeve until Johnny agreed to give him the pillow…. and the comforter. Johnny was a weak man, what can he say. The Taeyong pout was powerful, after all. 

However, he is currently regretting his decision to relinquish the right to his hard-earned comforter as he sits in his long sleeve t-shirt and pajama pants. He wasn't necessarily cold, but he definitely wasn't warm, either. He was pretty sure that the room had no heat, and was absolutely positive that the walls had no insulation in them. That, or the evil woman who had nearly refused to give them a room had simply cut it off for just their room. He wouldn’t put it past her. 

Johnny yawns, putting his phone down and rolling over to press his face against the mattress. He tries his best to not think about when the last time the sheets were cleaned was, instead focusing on how he had almost slipped earlier when he was talking to Taeyong. 

He had almost told him of how he can’t look at red hair and not think of him, but that was a conversation Taeyong wouldn’t understand, and Johnny quite frankly wasn’t ready to have. 

So he had settled for “I was having a bad day,” which was both the truth, and made him look like he was hiding something. Which he was, he supposes. Besides, the eleventh was always hard, but that wasn’t the reason why Johnny had acted like that. That wasn’t the reason at all. 

He hears soft footsteps and rolls back over, reaching for his phone to shine the flashlight in the direction of the bathroom. 

He laughs when he sees Taeyong shivering in the doorstep, with sweater paws and a freshly washed face, his blonde hair sticking up in all sorts of directions from towel-drying it in the dark. 

Johnny follows Taeyong’s gaze, watching as he takes in Johnny sprawled lazily across the bed, and then drags his gaze to the floor where the blanket and pillow are lying, his expression souring. Johnny laughs, then moves the light towards the end of his bed, allowing Taeyong to have a path of light towards the floor. 

“It’s fucking freezing,” Taeyong comments, each syllable emphasized by the chattering of his teeth, as he kneels down to get in his makeshift bed. 

“Oh, it’s pretty warm up here in bed,” Johnny taunts, sighing contentedly. 

Shut up,” Taeyong groans, making Johnny smile to himself in the dark. He can practically picture Taeyong’s face, the frown that he probably thinks looks intimidating, but only makes him look cute.  

“Never,” Johnny responds, rolling over in hope of getting comfortable. A few seconds pass before he whispers a tired “g’night, Yong,” into the darkness. 

“Night,” Taeyong whispers back. 

Johnny closes his eyes and tries to focus on falling asleep.

He really tries, but...

All he can think of is Taeyong laying on the floor, his hair wet and cold, and being miserable. Or, his wet hair and lack of warmth getting him sick. 

It doesn't help that Taeyong is restless, sighing or whining a little every time he tosses and turns, trying to get comfortable on the rock hard floor. 

After five minutes of Taeyong struggling to get comfortable, Johnny starts to get a little concerned that neither of them will get any sleep for the second night in a row, when he hears a tiny voice.

“Johnny?” Taeyong whispers softly towards the foot of the bed, his voice barely audible from the floor, so low that if Johnny was asleep it wouldn’t have woken him up. 

“Hmm?” Johnny hums in response, rolling onto his back.

“Are you cold?” Taeyong whispers, before adding “I feel bad for taking the only blanket if I’m this cold and I have it.”

Johnny smiles a little, whispering back, “I’m fine, Yong, go to sleep.”

"Okay, I know, sorry. Goodnight," Taeyong says, again, before muttering, “too cold, can’t sleep,” under his breath. It's so quiet that Johnny doesn’t think he’s supposed to catch it. 

But, he does, of course. 

Because it's Taeyong.

“Yong,” Johnny calls, his voice a little louder, “I can hear you shivering.”

“Sorry,” Taeyong responds. Johnny doesn’t like the quiet sadness he hears in Taeyong’s voice, “It's because my hair is still wet from my shower. I can’t warm up,” Taeyong explains quietly. 

Johnny figured that would be a problem.

His mind goes back to how small Taeyong had looked in the car, how miserable he had been before Johnny gave him his sweatshirt. And, oh, when he put on that sweatshirt and moaned. It did scary things to Johnny's heart. And his dick.

He draws his mind back to the present, when he hears a particularly loud whimper and some more tossing and turning from Taeyong. He probably couldn't warm up as easily as Johnny could because he was so small.

It made Johnny want to protect him. Made him want to do something. 

So he does. 

“Come here,” Johnny whispers, patting the bed, before he can stop himself from saying it out loud. Before he can think of the consequences of what he just suggested.  

“I’m sorry, what?” Taeyong whisper-shouts back from the floor. 

“Come get in bed,” Johnny explains slowly, perhaps liking the sound of it a bit too much. 

“You sure?” Taeyong asks, his voice brightening a little bit. Johnny imagined that the prospect of being warm again trumped any downsides to having to share a bed with Johnny. But still, his voice had a small wobble to it, as if the thought of getting in Johnny's bed made him nervous.

"Yeah, c'mere, baby. Let's get you warm, little one," Johnny yawns, his voice wrecked with exhaustion. He shifts a little to the side and lifts the sheet up for Taeyong to crawl under, laughing when he hears Taeyong let out a little whine at the pet name and then scoffing at the name the woman at the desk had called him. It took all of the restraint in the world, however, to refrain from calling Taeyong kitten. The word filled his mind with the picture of Taeyong writhing under him in bed, his back arching, a pitchy moan falling from his lips as Johnny whispers the name in his ear. The image had plagued Johnny's thoughts all afternoon. No, he would save kitten for very special occasions. 

"Johnny, 'm not baby," Taeyong whines, yawning too, picking up the pillow and blanket and shuffling towards the bed. The sound of the comforter swishing against the back of his legs and the floor, the only noise in the room. 

Taeyong pauses at the edge of the mattress as if waiting for confirmation that it was fine for him to get in. Instead of giving him any verbal validation, Johnny just blindly reaches out and grabs Taeyong's wrist, pulling him down onto the mattress with a resounding humph. Taeyong puts the pillow down and lays the blanket over both of them, laying down on the bed, but as close to the edge as physically possible.

Johnny can still hear him shivering, despite now being on the bed and under the sheets, small gasps of air coming from just a foot away from him.

Johnny frowns at the noise.  

He blindly out again, finding the pillow and dragging it under his head, putting an arm around Taeyong, and pulling him back into his chest. He tells himself that he did it because if Taeyong gets sick from the cold, he'll complain the whole day tomorrow, but the excuse sounds weak even to him. He did it because he didn't like knowing Taeyong was cold when he was right there. Didn't like knowing Taeyong wouldn't sleep well, when Johnny could do something about it.  

However, the movement makes Taeyong let out a small whine in surprise, and consequently go stiff as a board in Johnny's arms. 

"Johnny whaddareyadoing?" Taeyong whispers lowly, his shoulder blades pressed against Johnny's chest, the words coming out all together and jumbled. 

"I'm getting you warm. Stop thinking so hard, Yong, I can practically hear your brain freaking out," Johnny responds, his arm tightening a little around Taeyong's waist, keeping him pressed to his body so he can't move.

At Taeyong's obvious apprehension, Johnny sighs, "seriously, relax, Taeyong. I'm not going to bite," Johnny thinks for a second of how to word it, "It's like, um, ooh it's like that scene in Twilight where the werewolf has to get the human girl warm because the vampire is too cold. It's just some platonic snuggling," he explains with a teasing lilt to his voice, hoping Taeyong will stop freaking out and just accept the warmth. 

At that, Taeyong laughs a little, his chest moving under Johnny's arms, "The werewolf's name is Jacob, and he was in love with the human, doofus, so that's a terrible analogy," Johnny can hear the smile in his voice, and can feel Taeyong relaxing a little, soaking up the warmth coming from Johnny's body. It makes him smile.

Johnny closes his eyes, his lips so close to the crown of Taeyong's head that he could kiss it if he leaned forward just a fraction of an inch. He stops himself, though, because the thought that he wants to terrifies him. And he does want to, so badly. 

Taeyong turns around in his arms, his hands coming up to rest in between their bodies, his head resting on Johnny's arm like a pillow. Johnny's eyes flutter open, adjusting to the lack of light enough to see the faint outline of Taeyong smiling up at him. 

"Johnny," Taeyong whispers, a finger drifting up to trace Johnny's jaw, almost subconsciously, "I'm honestly a little offended that you refuse to watch one of the greatest animated movies out there, but have seen Twilight."

Johnny laughs, pulling Taeyong further into his chest, his forehead resting in the crook of Johnny's neck, "Believe me when I say it was against my will. You think I went to film school to become a Twilight fan? No, Seulgi told me I had to watch the greatest film to come out of 2010, or she was breaking up with me."

"What a bitch," Taeyong whispers conspiratorially , his lips moving against Johnny's neck, his breath fanning across his skin.

Johnny smiles, shutting his eyes, again, hooking his chin over Taeyong's head, "Yeah. It's okay, though, the wolf and the shiny vampire had enough sexual tension to keep me entertained the whole time," he whispers against Taeyong's hair.

Taeyong laughs, the soft sound being the last thing Johnny hears before he falls asleep, dreaming of a blonde haired boy with a bright smile who makes him laugh like only one person had before. He falls asleep, dreaming of Taeyong. Not for the first time.

Chapter Text

Taeyong wakes up to pale sunlight seeping through the cracks in the window’s blinds, the soft beating of a steady heart under his ear, and the familiar smell of citrus and pine filling the air. Comfortable warmth surrounds him, a feeling of contentment deep in his stomach. 

Taeyong’s eyes flutter open, rapidly adjusting to the dimly lit room. The sun was still rising, a light pink tint from the sky splayed on the white walls next to the bed. It’s probably only around six thirty, Taeyong thinks. He yawns, going to lift a hand to rub the sleep out of his eyes, only to realize that his hand is stuck under a body. A heavy body. 

His head is resting not on a pillow, but a broad chest, rising and falling with each breath, his arms wrapped loosely around a waist, hands clutched into soft cotton, legs tangled in a jumble of limbs under the sheets. 

Last night comes rushing back in flashes. The power going out. Shivering. Making his bed on the floor. Shivering. Johnny, softly calling his name. More shivering. Johnny, asking him to come get in bed. Johnny, pulling him back into his chest. Johnny, making sure he’s warm. Johnny, cuddling him to sleep.

Johnny. 

Taeyong closes his eyes, turning his face to nestle into the crook of Johnny’s neck, his lips pressed against the warm skin. He doesn’t want to face the day, doesn’t want to think about how Johnny’s holding him, holding him so closely, as if he was protecting him from everything that could possibly hurt him. He doesn’t want to admit that he feels safer than he’s felt in months, right here, in Johnny’s arms. And most of all, he doesn’t want to have to wake up and go back to pretending like he still hates Johnny, when he knows that just isn’t true anymore. Taeyong hates how much he doesn’t hate him. 

So he closes his eyes and wills himself to fall back asleep, even if it’s just for a little bit. He chooses to be selfish, at least for a few more minutes, allowing himself to relish in Johnny’s warmth, in the comfort he finds in his embrace.  

And then Johnny’s hand moves, a lazy, calming sweep of fingers down Taeyong’s spine, making him go stiff as a board, realizing two things. First, Johnny is awake. Second, Johnny’s hand is under his shirt.  

And just like that, Taeyong has to face everything he so badly wishes he could put off forever. Because Johnny’s hand feels like fire on the bare skin of his back, and Johnny’s leg is jammed dangerously high between Taeyong’s thighs, and suddenly he’s overwhelmed, the feeling of Johnny encompassing his whole being. 

Johnny’s fingers trail back up the length of his spine and Taeyong catches himself from arching into the touch. Taeyong isn’t even sure if Johnny knows what he’s doing, or if it’s just a subconscious habit after sharing a bed with his long-time girlfriend for so many years. 

Oh god. In fact, what if… what if Johnny, in his semi conscious state, thought he actually was Seulgi. The thought makes Taeyong’s stomach turn with unease… 

Because, if he thought he was cuddling with Seulgi, and woke up to find Taeyong in his arms, instead…

Taeyong doesn’t even want to think about what would happen. All of the possibilities of Johnny being mad at him, or disgusted, or disappointed are raging in his mind, and cause his stomach to drop. 

Johnny’s hand stills on the small of Taeyong’s back, each finger that dips into the soft skin feeling like a brand. Taeyong feels goosebumps rise on his skin, his whole body trying to remain perfectly still. 

He realizes that he needs to move, and fast, before Johnny realizes what’s going on.

Taeyong shifts a little, trying to subtly take his head off of Johnny’s chest and move back onto the other side of the pillow without fully waking him up. 

However, at the subtle movement of Taeyong lifting his head off of Johnny’s chest, Johnny groans, tightening his arms around Taeyong’s waist, pulling him impossibly closer.

“Stop moving, babe,” Johnny whines, whispering into the top of Taeyong’s head, his voice thick with sleep. 

Babe?  

Okay, shit, he definitely thinks Taeyong is Seulgi..

Taeyong takes a deep breath and pulls lightly against Johnny’s arms again, desperately trying to escape yet another awkward situation that none other than himself is at fault for. 

He gets one arm out from under Johnny’s body, and moves on to the harder task of extracting Johnny’s leg from between his legs, only for Johnny to push his knee even further between Taeyong’s thighs, causing a light whimper to fall from Taeyong’s lips.

“Fucking hell, Taeyong, I said stop moving,” Johnny groans as he rolls onto his back, going as far as to pull Taeyong slightly on top of him.

Taeyong… he said Taeyong, right?

So he knew it was Taeyong who he was cuddling with? Not Seulgi? 

Taeyong’s heart clenches, beating erratically. His chest is now pressed directly onto Johnny’s, and Taeyong wonders if Johnny can feel just how fast his heart is beating. 

“Did you just call me babe? ” Taeyong whispers, a small smile making its way onto his face when he realizes that Johnny had definitely said that, knowing it was him. 

“Psh, what? Absolutely not,” Johnny teases, before adding with a big yawn, “go back to sleep, Yong.”

“I thought we had to make up a lot of time today, though,” Taeyong whispers, his words slightly jumbled from where his mouth is pressed to Johnny’s collarbones. Taeyong finds himself yawning back, Johnny’s own yawn having a contagious effect on him. 

“Maybe,” Johnny starts, his chest rising and falling under Taeyong with each word, “but it’s like the asscrack of dawn right now and, besides, this is the best I’ve slept in weeks,” Taeyong can feel the corners of his lips lifting into a soft smile at Johnny admitting he slept better with Taeyong in his bed. Johnny’s hand makes another calming sweep up Taeyong’s spine, before he adds, a smile evident in his voice, “I don’t want it to end just yet.”

Johnny,” Taeyong whispers against Johnny’s skin, “just admit I’m the best cuddler ever and you’re never going to sleep well again now that you know what you’re missing out on.”

“Taeyong Lee, I solemnly swear that I am never going to be able to sleep as well as I did last night unless you are here in my arms. Does that work? Can I go back to sleep now?” Johnny says, his voice thick with sleep and sarcasm. 

Taeyong’s stomach does a backflip at “unless you are here in my arms,” but he tries to calm himself down before saying, his voice teasing, “hmm, I don’t know.”

“Just a few more minutes, please. Let me relish in the Taeyongie cuddles before you go back to yelling at me,” Johnny whines, obviously trying to appeal to Taeyong’s weak spots. And, it works, of course. Because it’s Johnny , calling him Taeyongie, and being soft and sweet, and for fucks sake, he always gets what he wants. 

Taeyong laughs again, his hand coming up to rest on the pillow next to Johnny’s head, dangerously close to running his fingers through his hair. “Okay, you big baby. A few more minutes, it is,” Taeyong whispers. 

He feels himself slipping into sleep a few moments later,  Johnny’s calm breathing and soothing touches lulling him back to sleep, “a few minutes” turning into a whole nother hour of sleep before they decide to begrudgingly detangle and get ready for the day. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

July 28, 2018

Taeyong flipped down the car mirror, a small smile pulling at his lips as he took in his appearance. He had taken at least two hours to get ready, but fuck if it hadn’t been worth it. 

He had put his favorite silver earrings in, which stood out against his freshly dyed bright red hair, and he had thrown on his favorite structured white shirt that made his collar bones stand out, and some tight black jeans. His skin was shining, his foundation dewy and light but perfectly covering all of his blemishes. His eyes sparkled from the light gold eyeshadow he had applied, and he had lined his eyes in thick black kohl liner to make them stand out against his pale skin. His eyebrow had a recently re-done slash through it, making him look admittedly more badass than he was. And his lips, oh he had outdone himself with his lips. He was wearing the peachy lip gloss named “orgasm” from NARS, which had quickly become a favorite, as it made his lips look far plumper than they actually were. 

His roommate at the time, Ten, had told him that he looked “perfectly fuckable.” 

While Taeyong would probably never admit it, that may or may not have been exactly what he was going for. He wouldn’t let some suit look at him in his work clothes and unwashed hair after working a double shift and make their whole opinion of them in just a few minutes of one bad day.

No, absolutely not. Taeyong was going to make Johnny Suh rue the day he looked at Taeyong with something like disgust in his eyes. He had only met the man once, and in those five minutes he had managed to wake up some small demon inside of Taeyong that he didn’t even know existed. 

It had been over a month since they had first met, and yet, the thought of seeing Johnny again made his heart race. It was just because of how rude he had been, Taeyong told himself. You just want to prove to him that you are better than he made you feel. And maybe that you clean up nicely too. Not that it mattered. Taeyong could care less if Johnny thought he was ugly, but he doubted after his show today that Johnny would be thinking whatever it was that he thought when they first met. Whatever thought had crossed Johnny’s mind and made him look like he felt ill, Taeyong would be sure to replace it today. With what, he didn’t know, but he was going to find out soon enough. 

He shut the mirror with a satisfied smirk, and opened the car door to walk up to Mark and Donghyuck’s apartment. 

They were celebrating Mark’s birthday a weekend early, it being the only time that he who shall not be named and his girlfriend could come, something about a work event that he had to host that Taeyong thought sounded incredibly boring and definitely not impressive at all.

He opened the door to the apartment, Mark’s present in hand, at least five minutes early. He wasn’t making the mistake of being late ever again. Johnny had made him feel like a big stupid idiot, and not to mention, Mark had been mad at him for like two whole days. For anyone else that would be nothing, but for Taeyong, that was two days too many. 

Taeyong stepped into the apartment and could almost immediately feel the weight of everyone in the room’s gaze landing on him. He watched as the eyes of multiple boys and girls went dark at the sight of him in the doorway, blatant attraction written on many faces. Sure, Taeyong could be easy to fluster with heated words and smirks, but he flourished under the attention of a crowd. It wasn’t like Taeyong to be especially narcissistic, or even confident on a day to day basis, but it was like once he put on a mask, he was untouchable. And what a pretty mask he had put on that day. 

He made small talk with a few of Mark’s friends for about a half an hour, floating his way around the living room between people he hadn’t seen in a while, catching up. He saw Donghyuck in the corner of the room and excused himself from his conversation to see where Mark was. He needed to wish Mark a happy early birthday before he got too caught up in talking to everyone else that he forgot what he was actually there for. He and Donghyuck talked for a few minutes and eventually Taeyong had been pointed to the kitchen to find his brother. 

Taeyong set down Mark’s present on a table and walked through the door, immediately spotting Mark over near the fridge. He was standing with two other people, laughing about something with his head thrown back. The sight made Taeyong smile, but the smile dropped off his face when Taeyong looked closer, and realized who Mark was standing with. 

Taeyong could feel the exact moment that Johnny saw him. It was like all of the air in the room stopped, every atom suspended in the moment. He felt his heartbeat start to pick up from the sheer intensity in Johnny’s eyes. This was what Taeyong had wanted though, right? The look of surprise, the not-so-subtle up and down, the slow fire building in his gaze? So why did it make his heart drop out of his stomach and make his palms start to sweat? 

He continued to walk towards the group, refusing to break eye contact with Johnny. Just when Taeyong had felt about three seconds from catching flame, Mark followed Johnny’s gaze and spotted Taeyong, his face brightening up as he saw his brother walking towards him, holding his arms out for a hug and drawing Taeyong’s gaze away from Johnny. He snapped out of whatever trance Johnny had put him in, the sounds of the room rushing back in as he pulled Mark into his arms with a smile. 

After wishing Mark a happy birthday and talking for a little bit, Mark had left to go do a lap and greet the rest of the people who had come to wish him a happy birthday. 

Leaving him alone with Johnny, again. 

Or, not alone, Taeyong realized. 

He hadn’t so much as looked at the third person in the group, the woman he had seen standing with Mark and Johnny when he had entered the room. He had been so distracted by Johnny looking at him like he was going to eat him alive that he had completely forgotten she was even there. 

Once he turned fully towards her and looked in her eyes, he realized with a start that she was the woman he had seen at the housewarming party. 

Johnny’s girlfriend.

“Hi, I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself earlier. I’m Taeyong,” he had said, pointing at Mark’s retreating form, “Mark’s older brother.”

What had her name been? Solhee? Seoyeon? It had definitely started with an S. 

“Seulgi, and I know,” She had responded, giving him a look of contempt that gave Johnny’s a run for his money. It was a look that didn’t sit right in his stomach. 

Seulgi. At least he had been right about it starting with an S.

Taeyong still held out a hand for her to shake, only for her to stare at it with distaste and lean back into Johnny’s chest, his arms coming to her waist to steady her. Taeyong retracted his hand, trying not to bristle at the laugh he heard from Johnny at her poorly concealed disgust towards Taeyong. 

Taeyong set his jaw and took a step back, his gaze involuntarily darting towards where Johnny’s fingers were pressed into her thin hips. 

“Ah yes, I remember you from the party, it’s nice to meet you properly,” Taeyong forced himself to say, trying to recover. 

“Is it?” She had asked, venom lacing her words. 

Taeyong’s brows flicked up in surprise. 

What the fuck had Taeyong ever done to her? Had Johnny told her something bad about him? Was she extremely homophobic or something, and seeing him in makeup and excessive jewlery had set her off?

Whatever it was, Taeyong decided right then and there that maybe he hated her even more than he hated Johnny. And Johnny already wasn’t exactly his favorite person. 

Taeyong looked up to see Johnny fighting a laugh. 

Of course he thought it was funny, the asshole. 

Johnny moved his hand to the small of her back, pushing her towards the door, “Now, now, Princess, be nice. Let’s go see if we can find Hyuckie, we haven’t talked with him yet.”

Taeyong mentally gagged at the pet name, thinking of course he called her princess like she hung the moon, right after she just was rude to Taeyong. 

Taeyong just stared with his mouth agape, watching as her face transformed into a look of love as she pressed a big, unnecessarily long kiss on Johnny’s lips, leaning up and grabbing his face in a red-nailed grasp.

“Sure thing, Johnny-bear,” she responded, sickly sweet. 

Johnny-bear and Princess? What the fuck was going on? Did that actually just happen? 

Taeyong stood in disbelief as he watched Johnny usher her out the door, the sound of a high-pitched, incredibly forced “Hyuckie!” coming out of her mouth as soon as she made it back into the living room.

Johnny turned around right before following her out of the room, stopping at the doorstep to ogle Taeyong. 

“Always a pleasure, Terry,” Johnny drawled, giving Taeyong a long up and down, his tongue darting out to wet his lips. He saw the look of contempt in Taeyong’s eyes at the blatant use of the wrong name, and smirked, calling out a, “you look good, by the way. You forgot the apron though,” as he walked away, leaving Taeyong in the kitchen to fume to himself, wondering why Johnny could get under his skin easier than anyone else, and why Seulgi was Satan reincarnated in a 100 pound woman. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

To make up for the miles they lost the day before, today was a long drive. Like.... nine and a half hours long.  

They had taken their breakfast on the road in a desperate attempt to save some time, but all it meant was that they were already hungry at only two hours into the drive. Johnny was nothing if not vocal about it, annoying Taeyong by not shutting up about just how hungry he was. We get it, John. 

Taeyong had tried to distract them with small talk and easy conversation, even going as far as to google a list of questions from VOGUE’s 73 questions series. After getting through the first 20 or so, and deciding these questions were significantly more boring than their own from the day before, they gave up. Seriously, who cares about how you would describe yourself in a hashtag, or what your thoughts on koalas was? Definitely not Taeyong. 

The traffic seemed surprisingly thick for a wednesday morning in Indiana, but Taeyong also hadn’t been outside of New York in so long, he could barely remember what could be considered “normal” traffic in the first place. 

Despite the sheer amount of cars on the road, they were still making good time. Or at least they were making good time, according to Johnny. Taeyong thought it may have something to do with the sheer amount of speeding Johnny had been doing since they first got on the road. Taeyong sat nervously in the passenger seat for the first hour, scanning the road for undercover cops. 

He didn’t see any, of course, because while Taeyong would have been pulled over if he was going five miles over the speed limit (yes, that actually happened before), Johnny could go fifteen over and there was not a cop in sight. 

Lucky bastard. 

After what seemed like three years, but was only about four hours, Johnny finally puts them out of their misery and asks Taeyong to start to look for something to eat. Taeyong opens up maps, his stomach growling as if in agreement, and finds the closest food he can, which appears to be in the next town, Rolla, Missouri. 

Because it was already one pm, Taeyong’s stomach was making obscene growling noises, so he can’t even imagine how hungry Johnny had to be. Not to mention Johnny had to be tired from driving for four hours straight on only one cup of coffee. Taeyong had quickly learned that interacting with Johnny before his second cup of coffee was unpleasant.  

After a few minutes of bickering about where to eat, they decide to go sit down in a diner somewhere close to the road, giving them a chance to rest before driving the second chunk of the drive. All Taeyong wants is to stretch his legs. Well, and maybe a burger and fries. 

The diner is nearly full when they walk in, having hit the late lunch crowd. They are steered towards one of the booths towards the front, by a frazzled looking hostess, and sat in front of the large store-front windows. A small jukebox placed in the corner catches Taeyong’s eye, making him smile. He wasn’t sure if he had actually ever seen a jukebox in a restaurant, as it didn’t exactly fit the vibe of manhattan restaurants, but he had seen the movie 27 Dresses enough times to smile at the sight. 

Where was Taeyong’s James Marsden though, huh? 

He slides into his seat, softly humming the tune of Benny and the Jets, and smiling in thanks as the waitress hands him a menu. 

“Can I get you boys started with some coffee, or anything to drink?” The waitress asks with a tired smile, to which Johnny’s shoulders sag in relief and he sighs out a “Yes, please.”

Taeyong laughs softly at the desperation in his voice, ordering a strawberry lemonade for himself. The waitress jots it down and turns to make their drinks, leaving them to look at the menu for a little longer. She comes back a few minutes later, placing their drinks in front of them and jotting down their orders. She pockets her pen and takes their menus, leaving them to go give the kitchen their orders. 

Taeyong sits back in his seat, taking a second to just look at Johnny. Really look at him, like he hasn’t really allowed himself to before. 

Johnny has always been an attractive guy, Taeyong even noticed that when they first met, but now that Taeyong is really looking at him, he sees more than just any handsome face. 

He sees how Johnny’s eyes are more complex than the dark brown of his own eyes, leaning more towards amber with how many different shades of brown are mixed in. He sees how Johnny has small laugh lines by his eyes when he smiles, and cute lines cutting in his cheeks when he laughs. Taeyong traces the shape of Johnny’s lips with his eyes, lingering on how his bottom lip is fuller than the top, eventually moving his gaze to outline every feature of Johnny’s face, committing every inch to his memory. 

So Johnny has always been attractive, sure, but this Johnny, sitting in a blue flannel, his hair still messy from their rushed morning, a lazy smile playing at his lips, his hands wrapped around a warm coffee cup, was undoubtedly beautiful.  

Johnny catches him staring and tilts his head, a wordless question of what are you doing? being asked. 

Taeyong just shakes his head, smiling at the thought of Johnny not being able to read him like a book for once. It was refreshing to have a thought for himself. 

The silence stretches on for a few more comfortable moments, both of them just quietly enjoying the other’s company, the background noise of the busy diner making the atmosphere comfortable, despite their lack of conversation.

That is, until Johnny’s phone buzzes on the table, pulling them both out of their heads, and back into the present. 

Taeyong watches Johnny’s expression change from confusion to surprise as he turns his phone over and sees the text. Johnny appears to type out a short response, working his bottom lip between his teeth, as he focuses on the words, before turning his phone back over, his brows still slightly furrowed. 

Taeyong pulls his lemonade towards him, taking the straw into his mouth for a small sip, before letting his curiosity get the best of him. 

“I’ll bite. What’s that face for?” Taeyong asks, causing Johnny to raise his gaze to meet Taeyong’s eyes. 

“Oh, nothing, sorry,” Johnny starts with a shake of his head, before Taeyong levels him with a stare, and he elaborates, “It’s just, um, Seulgi texted me,” Johnny trails off, looking away.  

“Oh?” Taeyong asks, clearing his throat, trying not to let any emotion slip through his voice, “Oh, um, What did she want?” He tries to play the question off as casual, merely to further the conversation, but a little bit of confusion can be heard in his words. 

“She, um, she,” Johnny trails off, his brows furrowing again, as if he was trying to figure out how to tell Taeyong. He works a hand through his hair, his eyes anywhere but on Taeyong’s face. 

Taeyong’s heart drops at his next thought, taking another small sip as he asks quietly, “does she, um, did she ask to get back together, or something?” 

Taeyong can hear how small his voice sounds. He isn’t even sure why the thought upsets him as much as it does, but something about Johnny going back to her makes something small inside of him die a little. Surely, it was just because Seulgi was a terrible person, and not at the thought of Johnny having a girlfriend again. Surely, not. 

A few terribly silent seconds pass as Johnny registers what Taeyong had said. Taeyong can feel his heart leaping into his throat as he prepares himself for the worst. 

“Yeah, not a chance. I’m pretty sure she’s already got a new boyfriend,” Johnny says, before laughing and shaking his head, “Actually scratch that, I’m almost positive she has a new girlfriend, and I’m pretty sure they got together pretty soon after she pulled the plug on us.” 

Taeyong frowns at the thought of Seulgi moving on so fast, potentially hurting Johnny’s feelings, before he remembers that he shouldn’t care

Then he remembers that Johnny didn’t answer the question. 

“So, what did she want?” Taeyong asks, confused.

“Oh, she was just saying like hi and seeing how I’m doing, this week, and stuff,” Johnny says, his eyes darting around a little. Strange. If Taeyong didn’t know better, he would think he was lying, but it wasn’t really any of his business. 

“She was just saying hi?” Taeyong asks, brows raised. 

“Yeah, I was just surprised to see her name on my phone, is all. I don’t think I’ve actually texted her since we broke up, so it’s weird to see her name on my phone again.”

Taeyong hums, knowing that if Johnny is choosing to not elaborate, that it’s probably nothing. Probably. 

There is one thought playing in the back of Taeyong’s mind though, now that Seulgi has been brought up again. 

“Um, hey Johnny?” Taeyong asks, cringing at how awkward he sounds.

“Hmm?”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Shoot,” Johnny says, leaning forward, his forearms on the table between them.

“Why did she hate me so much? Seulgi, I mean. I just never got it. She was so rude the first time I ever met her, like shockingly rude, and I never even did anything to her, it was kind of weird,” Taeyong says, his brows furrowing as he remembers their first meeting, in the kitchen of Mark’s old apartment. 

As soon as Taeyong finishes his sentence, Johnny laughs out loud, leaning back into his seat and picking his coffee back up to take a sip. “Oh, you never stood a chance, ” Johnny remarks under his breath, smiling over his coffee cup. 

“What is that supposed to mean?” Taeyong asks, confused. 

“She hated you way before you guys actually met,” Johnny says, his cheeks dimpling a little at how hard he’s smiling, relishing in Taeyong’s confusion. 

“But, why,” Taeyong whines, “I never even did anything to her. It felt so out of pocket.”

Johnny just smiles, sipping his coffee, trying not to laugh at the pout Taeyong definitely has on his face. 

“What’s that look? Wait. Did you say something to her about me?” Taeyong asks accusatory, his voice getting higher in pitch towards the latter end of the sentence. “You did, didn’t you. You fuck. What did you say to her?” 

Taeyong crosses his arms, huffing. 

Johnny barely even knew him that point, how had he already talked shit about him after only one meeting?

Johnny laughs, reaching out to pat Taeyong’s arm, “I guarantee it’s not what you think.”

“Okay, by all means, explain, then,” Taeyong says, rolling his eyes. “Tell me what the fuck you could have said to her that made her hate me, that isn’t exactly what I’m thinking.”

“Are you sure you really want to know? I don’t think you’re ready,” Johnny says, leaning back in his booth. 

“Johnny, I’m going to fucking snipe you. Answer the goddamn question,” Taeyong says, his eyes going wide in rage. Johnny was being intentionally infuriating, and yet Taeyong couldn’t help but fall right into his trap and was getting increasingly more pissed off the more Johnny dilly-dallied. 

“I called you hot,” Johnny deadpans, causing the whole room to freeze. He leans back in his seat, taking another sip of his coffee. “Well, actually, I said you were like a walking wet dream, but semantics,” Johnny adds, murmuring under his breath.  

What the fuck? A walking what?

Did Taeyong hear him correctly? Johnny called him what? After only seeing him the first time… where Taeyong thought he had never looked worse… covered in flour and sweat… and wearing his server’s uniform… with no makeup … and two inch grown out roots. 

“You what?” Taeyong shrieks, feeling his cheeks go hot. 

A. Walking. Wet. Dream. 

His heart was about two seconds from beating out of his chest. Johnny thinks he’s hot. Johnny thinks he’s hot. Taeyong might scream. 

Johnny laughs, folding his hands in front of him and leaning forward with a smirk, causing Taeyong to flinch back into his seat. 

“Let’s see, um if I remember correctly, I mean it was a few years ago, but if I remember correctly, we were in a pretty heated argument a few days after we met you at Hyuck’s house party, and she kept talking about this guy at work,” Johnny pauses, rolling his eyes, “and I was getting jealous, which was stupid, because he was like five foot six and had terrible breath, and was a news anchor for fucks sake. I think his name was like Steven, or Mike, or something boring. Anywho, she was just riling me up because she was mad at me for something, I don’t even remember. But she just kept saying all of this bullshit about how nice he was and how he always called her beautiful and all of that, because she knew I was going to be mad,” Johnny pauses as if trying to remember the rest of the story. 

Taeyong finds himself nodding along, desperately trying to figure out how the fuck he is going to come into the story. 

“And then she finally said something about his hair being dyed this dark shade of red,” Johnny pauses, looking at Taeyong’s eyes before continuing after seeing the recognition in his eyes, “And so I said, and I quote, “Are you saying he’s sexy, then?” which I think threw her off guard, because that wasn’t a reaction that she thought she was going to get. And so I just kept digging my grave from there, knowing it was going to piss her off. And then,” Johnny laughs, looking at the table, “Then I said, “well if he looks anything like Mark’s brother then I bet he’s the hottest person in the office.”

You did not,” Taeyong whispers, his ears burning. Was he hallucinating, or was Johnny saying that he thought Taeyong was sexy? 

Was this some sort of fever dream? Is he getting sick?

Johnny ignores him, continuing, “Safe to say she was pretty fucking pissed, considering I had not only ruined her fun with taunting me with her coworker, but I also insinuated that I found you more attractive than her.”

Taeyong’s jaw is basically on the floor at this point, but Johnny just keeps going. 

“And, so, well, of course she fought back against that. She even went as far as to say something about you not being my type at all and how you were just a waiter, and some other bullshit,” Johnny says. 

Taeyong feels his ears burning, a mixture of shame and anger. 

“So, well, then I said that you were exactly my type, and that you’d look even better out of your uniform,” Johnny meets Taeyong’s eyes, darkening slightly at the suggestion, before looking away and continuing, “I think that’s when I said something about you being a walking wet dream, and some other shit I knew would make her mad. And then, a few weeks later, at Mark’s birthday, you showed up like that,” Johnny says slowly, letting Taeyong’s mind wander back to the day. 

Taeyong remembers trying on a bunch of different clothes with his roommate and trying to look as hot as physically possible, and lets out a small, “ Oh...”

“Yeah, oh. I’m sure you can imagine how furious she was when you walked into looking like you were straight out of a fucking anime, I mean seriously, Taeyong was the lipgloss necessary? I think every person in the apartment got hard just looking at you,” Johnny says.“I mean, she couldn’t even deny that you looked good, I think that’s what really put the nails in your coffin with her,” Johnny adds, as if he was just thinking out loud. 

Taeyong’s throat feels dry, distinctly remembering the look Johnny had given him when he had seen him. 

“I had to sleep on the couch the rest of the week she was so mad.” Johnny laughs, oblivious to Taeyong’s mental breakdown on the other side of the booth. 

Taeyong makes an unintelligible noise, something like a mixture of a squeak and a whine, opening and closing his mouth a few times as no words come out. 

What the fuck was he even supposed to say to that?

Luckily, their waitress comes up to the table before Taeyong has a chance to say anything stupid like “Did you say got hard looking at me? ” and puts their food on the table. 

She places burgers in front of both of them, making Taeyong’s mouth water, and immediately dive in, hunger getting the best of both of them. 

After a few minutes of silent eating, they start to talk again, the previous conversation seemingly forgotten by Johnny, even though it’s the only thing running through Taeyong’s mind. 

After they both finish their meals, Taeyong finds himself looking longingly at the dessert menu, frowning when he sees the prices. He had saved up some money from his jobs throughout the year, but the thought of spending six dollars on a piece of cake makes the frugal in him cry. 

Johnny sees what he’s eyeing and smiles, turning the dessert menu towards him so he can read what Taeyong is staring at with a pout. 

“Getting yourself some cake, Yong?” Johnny asks, handing the menu back to him. 

“I wish,” Taeyong grumbles, “It’s too expensive.” 

He puts the menu back and pouts, looking up at Johnny with his best puppy dog eyes. 

Johnny catches on laughing and shaking his hand, “No, don’t give me that look. I’m not buying you a piece of cake.” 

Taeyong reaches out and grabs his hands, “but Johnny,” he whines, “please?”

Johnny shakes his head but doesn’t remove his hands from Taeyong’s. He watches as Johnny’s eyes shift to look at their intertwined hands, watching as a glint of mischief passes through his eyes.

“I want to make a bet,” Johnny declares, looking back up to meet Taeyong’s eyes. 

“Does the bet involve me getting a piece of cake?” Taeyong asks, feeling his cheeks pull into a small smile. 

Johnny nods, a knowing smile on his lips as Taeyong urges him to elaborate. 

“I bet you that I can get you a piece of cake without having to pay for it,” Johnny says, smirking. 

Taeyong bites his lip, trying to figure out the trick behind Johnny’s words. 

He narrows his eyes, “and what are the stakes?”

Johnny grins, “If I win, we have to share a bed again tonight.” Taeyong feels his heart rate pick up, beating erratically at the suggestion that Johnny wants to sleep with him again, especially after revealing he thinks that Taeyong is hot. 

Taeyong swallows, “and if you lose?”

“If I lose, then I’ll buy you all the cake you want,” Johnny laughs.

Taeyong smiles, holding out a hand to shake, “deal.” 

Johnny smirks, a look in his eyes that says Taeyong is going to regret his decision. 

Johnny reaches his hand out towards Taeyong’s but instead of shaking it, pulls a silver ring off of Taeyong’s right hand, with a smile and steps out of the booth. 

Before Taeyong can ask him what he’s doing, he notices that Johnny is bee lining towards the jukebox. 

Wait. No.

What was Johnny doing?

Johnny looks back towards the table and winks, mouthing something like “go with it” to Taeyong, before pulling his wallet out of his back pocket and taking out some coins, pressing a few buttons on the jukebox. 

A few seconds of nerve-wracking silence pass before familiar notes start to pour out of the jukebox, making people’s heads turn at the sound of music playing. 

Oh, no. 

Why was Johnny playing Can’t buy me love, by the Beatles...

Taeyong can feel his ears beginning to burn in second hand embarrassment, his arms coming to wrap around his body, trying to hide from the people turning to look at him as Johnny points a hand to him. 

And just when Taeyong doesn’t think it can get worse… 

It gets worse. 

Johnny starts to sing. Starts to sing to Taeyong. 

I’ll give you all I’ve got to give if you say you love me too. 

If Taeyong had thought some people were looking before, everyone was definitely looking at him now. He can’t decide if he wants to crawl under the table and die, or run straight out of the building.

Tell me that you want the kind of things that money just can’t buy.

Taeyong doesn’t think he’s ever been more embarrassed than he is at this exact moment, but somehow, Johnny just keeps going, smiling and singing at the top of his lungs. 

Johnny finally gets to the last line, crooning out a Can’t buy me love, Oh, before stopping before their booth and kneeling. 

Taeyong, along with the rest of the restaurant gasps, everyone’s eyes on Johnny, and Johnny alone. The room is so silent, Taeyong can practically hear his heart beating out of his chest. 

Taeyong is frozen in his seat, a large smile plastered on his face, whispering a Johnny, what the fuck are you doing, get up, as quietly as humanly possible through his teeth, his eyes impossibly wide.

Johnny makes eye contact with him and winks again, pulling his hand out from behind his back, a flash of silver in his hand glinting in the sunlight. 

Oh, god. A flash of silver. Taeyong’s fucking ring. 

Johnny clears his throat, raising his voice so every. single. person. in the diner can hear him, looking into Taeyong’s eyes with a crooked smile, “Taeyong Lee, I fell in love with you the minute I first saw you, and I will forever be grateful for our brothers setting us up because they knew we would be perfect for each other,” Johnny starts, making Taeyong laugh at just how untrue the statement was, before continuing, “Even though you think waffles are better than pancakes, and you thrash in your sleep, and your taste in movies is questionable, I love you more than the moon loves the stars,” Johnny holds up the ring, smiling widely up at Taeyong, “Marry me, baby?” 

Taeyong’s breath catches in his throat, his eyes flitting around the room to see the glossy eyes of everyone staring at them, grandmas with their hands over their hearts, and murmurs of that’s beautiful, and ah, young love filling the air. 

Taeyong finds Johnny’s eyes again, and sighs, committing to his role. 

He slides out of his book and wipes fake tears from his eyes, before saying, quite literally as dramatically as possible, “Johnny, oh my god. Yes, yes yes, of course I’ll marry you!” and falls into Johnny’s arms as the room erupts into applause. 

Johnny stands up, twirling Taeyong around, laughing in his ear, before setting him down and putting the silver ring on his left hand. 

They sit back down a few moments later, after accepting fake congratulations from multiple old ladies, the room eventually settling and everyone going back to their own conversations. 

Johnny sits down and goes back to sipping his new cup of coffee, acting as if nothing had happened. Taeyong just sits, his heart still pounding in his chest, waiting for Johnny to explain to him what exactly just happened. 

“Care to explain what just happened?” Taeyong asks, only to see Johnny smiling at something from behind Taeyong’s head. 

“What just happened is I just won the bet,” Johnny says, a smug look plastered on his face. 

“What? The bet? No you did--” Taeyong starts to say, only to be interrupted with their waitress sliding a big piece of chocolate cake in front of them, two candles stuck into it, the word “Congratulations” written in chocolate on the plate. 

“Told you so,” Johnny smirks, sipping on his coffee, before adding “can’t wait to snuggle,” his most smug look on his face. 

Well played, Suh, very well played. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ Johnny ☾☾☾☾☾☾

June 8, 2020

Johnny looked down at Taeyong’s small sleeping form, little snores coming out of the boy’s mouth and felt his heart clench. A small smile worked its way onto his face at the adorable sight. Taeyong truly was so small that Johnny sometimes forgot they were the same age. 

He had tried to let Taeyong sleep for as long as he could, feeling guilty that he had slept through his alarm that morning and been late to pick him up that morning, but once his stomach growled for the fourth time in the span of only a few minutes, he decided to make the executive decision find a place to stop for lunch. 

It wasn’t his fault that he was a big guy with the appetite of a small army. 

He took the next exit and drove to the first restaurant he saw on the green “food” sign, a small diner, pulling into the parking lot and reading a sign that said “Dr. Doolittle’s Roadside Café and Creamery.” The name had made him smile, reminding him of the old ice cream parlor he used to walk to after his weekend film seminars, freshman year of college, and all of the memories he had made there. Memories that he hadn’t thought about in years, nearly forgotten from pushing anything and everything from those two years of his life out of his mind. Memories of him that hurt to think about for too long. 

Johnny just shook his head, bringing himself back to the present. There was no point in making himself upset in front of Taeyong, especially when he knew the rest of the week was going to be hard, as it was. 

Johnny shifted the car into park and glanced back down at Taeyong’s sleeping form, his small body curled tightly into the corner of his seat, his head resting on the window, a small pout on his lips. He looked softer when he was sleeping, innocent, untouchable, beautiful. 

Johnny’s hand subconsciously shifted towards Taeyong’s face, his fingers aching to brush his blonde bangs off of his forehead and wake him up, when he heard his phone ring, jolting him away from the boy’s sleeping form.

Johnny’s furrowed brows smoothed out when he saw the contact name, accepting the call and bringing his phone up to his ear with a grin. 

“Hyuckie, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I was just checking in, seeing how the drive was so far,” Donghyuck had said, allowing the line to go quiet for a few moments, his breathing filling the empty space of the call. Donghyuck continues, “I just.. I still feel a little bad for sticking Taeyong on you for the whole week. Well, actually, Mark feels bad, I think it’s kind of funny that he hates you so much, but same thing, it was supposed to be a week to yourself and now we’ve forced you to spend time with the only person on this planet who actively wants to kill you.”

Johnny laughed, glancing back over at Taeyong, “I think we’re gonna be fine.”

“You better be, you can’t kill each other before my wedding. Who’s gonna embarrass Mark if his big brother isn’t there armed and ready for his best man’s speech, ” Donghyuck had responded, laughing. 

“I’ll be nothing but nice, I promise,” Johnny had said, thinking about how easy it would probably be, to be nice to Taeyong. But then again, he wouldn’t get to see how Taeyong’s hands twitch when he’s mad, or how his ears go red when he’s flustered, or how he stutters and looks at his feet when he’s nervous. So maybe he’d have to break that promise, at least a little bit. 

“So you’re getting along then? You’re on good terms, friends, the whole shabang already?” Donghyuck asked with a tone that Johnny could picture after hearing it so many times in person, eyebrows raised and hands on his hip. 

“With Taeyong? Funny,” Johnny had responded with a huff of breath. He thinks that if he and Taeyong had met any other day than when they had, that they actually could’ve been friends, on good terms, the “whole shabang” long ago. But, of course, it was that day, and Johnny had ruined yet another thing. 

“I know, I know, I’m kidding. You think he hates you, blah blah blah, I’ve heard it a million times,” Donghyuck said, boredom dripping from his tone. 

“I don’t just think he hates me, I know he does. I don’t think that’s ever going to change,” Johnny responded, his tone slightly disappointed at the thought.

“Well, I mean, it could change. In fact, you have the whole week to change his mind. But it’s like he sets you off like no one else does. I mean, Mark has told me some of the things you two have said to each other, and it’s not like you at all Johnny. What is it about him that makes you push him away like that? Are you scared to let him in just because of what happened?” Donghyuck’s voice was soft, as if he didn’t want to upset him, didn’t want to bring up what they both so desperately avoided talking about. 

Johnny didn’t like the suggestion behind his words, “Stop. You know I don’t know why.” He didn’t like the suggestion at all. Most of all, he didn’t like how it felt like it was a bit too on-the-nose.

Donghyuck just sighed, “Fine, but at least try to be nice, okay? He probably doesn’t want to be stuck in a car with you either,” Donghyuck paused, his voice lilted up as if he was smiling, “Besides, Markie and I need our big brothers to come in one piece. We love you both, a lot, don’t forget that.” 

“I know. Love you too, ‘kay? I’m excited to see you.”

After a “yeah, me too,” from Hyuck, Johnny ended the call, Donghyuck’s words repeating in his head. And maybe, maybe Donghyuck was exactly right.    

 

 ☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Immediately after they had gotten back to the car, Taeyong reached over and punched Johnny’s shoulder, scolding him for being “a dramatic, embarassing fucking idiot,” before sitting back in his seat and laughing hysterically. 

Taeyong calms down enough from laughing to look over at Johnny with a crooked grin, “I mean, seriously, Johnny? You seranaded me with a fucking beatles song and proposed to me? For a bet. I can’t stand you.” 

“I told you I could get you free cake,” Johnny just shrugged, laughing at Taeyong’s expression. 

“I feel like we just conned them. Like Bonnie and Clyde, or some shit,” Taeyong said, mostly under his breath, but loud enough for Johnny to catch it. 

“Taeyong, Bonnie and Clyde were a straight couple who stole money in bank robberies, not chocolate cake,” with a laugh, before adding, “But fine, we can be Bonnie and Clyde. Only if I get to be Bonnie, though, she was way cooler.” 

Taeyong just smiled, muttering an endeared “ such a fucking idiot ” under his breath as Johnny put the car in drive and pulled back onto the main road.

They left the diner, around two, leaving them with over five hours to go before they reached their stop for the day. How Johnny drove the whole way, Taeyong didn’t know. His legs were sore just thinking about it. 

He had said as much to Johnny, only to receive “ they made cruise control for a reason, idiot,” in response. Which Taeyong probably deserved, but still scowled at.

He found himself twisting his silver ring. now relocated to his left ring finger, and smiling softly. The scene from the diner was playing over and over again, the memory of Johnny telling him he thought he was hot combined with Johnny’s wide smile when Taeyong had dramatically said “yes” to his fake proposal making him bite his lip to keep from grinning ear to ear. 

He wasn’t about to give Johnny the satisfaction of knowing he had done something that made Taeyong happy, so he tries to reign in how giggly he felt from the afternoon. 

In a shocking turn of events, Taeyong had finally beaten Johnny in rock paper scissors this morning (he threw scissors, Johnny threw paper), so he got to choose the music for the day. The victory combined with leftover serotonin from the diner had him buzzing with happiness, practically bouncing in his seat with new found energy that Johnny hadn’t really witnessed yet. 

With the lack of an aux cord, though, Taeyong had to settle on flipping through the radio stations, finally stopping on a classic rock station. 

The station had lasted for at least a few hours, but eventually they hit a patchy spot on the road where they lost radio, the station cutting in and out and leaving the car in dissapointed silence. 

Taeyong and Johnny both groan. 

“I liked that song,” Johnny whines, his hand now resting lamely on the steering wheel where he had been playing fake drums less than a minute earlier. 

“Fuck, same . Do you have any CD’s?” Taeyong asks, already reaching towards the glove box to see what Johnny has stored in there. 

“Wait, don’t op--” Johnny tries to interject, frantic. 

But it was too late, as Taeyong had already hit the jackpot. 

Taeyong picks up a CD, a goofy smile plastered on his face. “Johnny’s volleyball mix, 2010,” Taeyong reads, choking on a laugh as Johnny’s cheeks turn red as he realizes what CD he was holding. “Nice picture of you and your friends you printed for the cover, John. The emo bangs and black muscle tee are super sexy,” Taeyong jokes, his fingers running along the faded edges of the picture, shoved haphazardly into the CD cover. 

It had all of the signs of a well-loved CD and Taeyong couldn’t wait to see what was on it. 

“Oh, no. Fucking put that back. Please, Taeyong,” Johnny pleads, his eyes flitting rapidly between the road and Taeyong, whose eyes are glued to the old CD in his hands. 

“Not a chance, Mr. Suh,” Taeyong taunts, waving the CD in front of them, relishing in the embarrassment written across Johnny’s face. 

“Taeyong. Please, I’m begging you, put the CD back,” Johnny whines, his hands gripped impossibly tight on the steering wheel. His cheeks were the reddest Taeyong had ever seen, and it was a beautiful sight for Johnny to be the flustered one for once. 

“Please, if you were begging you’d be on your knees,” Taeyong taunts with his most satisfied smirk, causing Johnny to groan, dragging a free hand over his face in embarrassment. 

“Yeah, not a chance, John,” Taeyong says, opening up the case and popping the disk out. “Let’s see what fifteen year old Johnny was into,” Taeyong smiles, sliding the mix in and switching the audio settings from FM radio to CD. 

Taeyong leans back in his seat and closes his eyes, only to laugh as the first seconds of track one start to play, the unmistakable chords of Welcome to the Black Parade blasting through the speakers. 

“Oh, fuck yeah,” Taeyong laughs, his head already nodding to the familiar beat, "My Chemical Romance? Fifteen year old Taeyong would have definitely had a crush on fifteen year old Johnny..”

Johnny laughs back, the redness starting to fade from his ears,“Well, If you couldn’t tell from the hair, I was a big MCR guy, don’t you worry.”

They get through the first verse, each screaming the lyrics they know by heart, before breaking out into hysterics at each other’s shitty singing. 

Taeyong wipes the tears out of his eyes, still laughing as he turns his head to the left, facing Johnny, only to find him already looking at him.

“What?” Johnny murmurs softly, his eyes darting down to Taeyong’s smile before drifting back to the road. 

“What do you mean, what?” Taeyong asks, still grinning at Johnny’s profile.

“Why are u looking at me like that?” Johnny asks, his brows furrowing slightly as his eyes dart around Taeyong’s expression again. 

“Like what?” Taeyong whispers, knowing damn well how he’s looking at Johnny. 

Johnny licks his lips, before biting his bottom one, sucking it slightly into his mouth as he thinks, “looking at me like… I don’t know. Like you actually like me,” Johnny responds, his words still carrying their typical sarcastic bite, but a subtle hint of insecure hope lacing his tone. 

Like you? Please, John, you know that’s not true” Taeyong responds, biting the inside of his cheek. Oh but, it is. It is. It is. It is. 

Johnny clears his throat, his face falling slightly towards disappointment before he schools it into indifference, “Right.”

Taeyong doesn’t miss the fleeting look, however, he watches the look of disappointment flicker through Johnny’s eyes at Taeyong saying he doesn’t like him. 

But surely that couldn’t mean… 

If Johnny was disappointed, then did that mean that maybe, just maybe, he had been hoping for Taeyong to say that he liked him, because Johnny liked Taeyong?

Taeyong can feel butterflies starting to stir in his stomach, a feeling that was becoming way too common when he was around Johnny. 

Taeyong’s immediately drawn back to his phone call with Mark, not even for the first time today. 

“You’re spending all this time with him alone, which you’ve never done before. He’s funny, and you know it, but probably refuse to admit. He’s exactly your type, he’s successful, he has good taste in music…”

“Yong, you have a crush on Johnny”

Taeyong closes his eyes, and all he can see is Johnny’s bright smile, the feeling of his arms wrapped around him as they slept, Johnny pushing him behind himself when Yuta had been rude, defending him even though Taeyong had told him time and time again that he hated him. 

Suddenly it was as clear as day, and worse than Taeyong had ever imagined. 

No matter how hard Taeyong had tried to convince himself otherwise, it was the irrevocable, unforgivable, ugly truth. 

Taeyong has a crush on Johnny Suh. 




Chapter Text

 ☽☽☽☽☽☽ JOHNNY ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

“Johnny?” Taeyong calls, his voice shy. 

Johnny glances over, drawing his eyes away from the road to glance at the passenger seat. 

Taeyong’s knees are bouncing up and down incessantly, to the point where Johnny aches to put his hand on his thighs and hold his legs down, just to calm him down a little bit. 

“What’s up? You ‘kay?” Johnny asks, frowning. 

Taeyong has been acting weird ever since they listened to the rest of the CD. Like, uncharacteristically weird, even for him. Not to mention, Taeyong has also been stealing glances at Johnny when he thinks he isn’t paying attention and then quickly looking away, almost as if he wants to ask something, but doesn’t know how. 

“Am I okay? Um, yeah! Sure, yeah...okay? Yeah ... I’m okay!” Taeyong says, his voice cracking, eyes wide. 

Okay, so he’s definitely not okay . Now Johnny is worried. He slows to a stop at the light as it turns red and looks back over to see Taeyong looking at him like he’s going to be sick. 

“Could you…” Taeyong trails off with a sigh through his nose, looking away as if saying nevermind, his hands loosely hanging in the air

“Could I do what, Yong? Are you feeling alright?” Johnny asks, worry evident in his tone, thinking that maybe all of the car travel was getting to Taeyong and that’s why he was being so strange. 

The light turns green and Johnny tears his gaze away reluctantly. 

“Yeah, no, I don’t think I am okay, sorry. I feel like I could be sick,” Taeyong admits, sheepishly, wringing his hands in his lap. 

Johnny’s brows furrow at the confession, wondering why Taeyong hadn’t said something sooner, or why he felt the need to apologize for not feeling well. 

“Oh, Yong, don’t apologize. It’ll be okay, I promise. I’m gonna pull over and you can get out and get some air, does that sound okay?” Johnny asks, as gently as possible, already scouting the road for somewhere big enough to pull the car off onto the shoulder safely. 

Taeyong nods with scared eyes, the sight making Johnny’s protective instincts sky rocket. He reaches over, his hand resting on Taeyong’s knee, rubbing a small circle on the exposed skin from the rips in his jeans, trying desperately to provide some sort of comfort. 

He pulls off as quickly as he can, putting the car in park and shutting it off, but staying in the car, letting Taeyong have some semblance of privacy and space to himself, to calm down. 

Johnny gets out a few minutes later, grabbing a water bottle out of the back and walking over to where Taeyong is sitting on the guardrail. 

He stops in front of Taeyong, handing him the bottle and running a hand lightly through his blonde hair, like his mom used to when he wasn’t feeling well. 

Taeyong takes a sip and leans into the touch, closing his eyes with a deep breath. 

“Feeling a little better?” Johnny asks softly, running his hand back through Taeyong’s hair, an amused smile pulling at his lips as Taeyong chases his hand with his head like a cat being scratched. 

Taeyong’s eyes open as Johnny takes his hand away, reluctantly putting it in his pocket. 

“Yeah, sorry… I just kind of got in my head about something, and then I think I started to panic a little, and I just got like worked up and couldn’t breathe, and --” 

“Yong,” Johnny laughs, cutting off the rambling, “It’s okay. I’m just glad you’re feeling better.” 

Taeyong’s cheeks turn pink and he breaks eye contact, “Yeah, thank you.”

“Of course,” Johnny smiles, turning back to the car. 

“Wait, John--” Taeyong calls, grabbing his wrist, stopping him. 

Johnny hums in question, turning back around to see Taeyong standing in front of him with a soft look on his face and wide eyes. 

“Could you grab my polaroid?” Taeyong asks, some color coming back into his face as he smiles. “The sunset is really pretty and I promised Mark that I would take pictures throughout the trip to prove we haven’t killed each other yet.” 

At that, Johnny laughs, ducking into the backseat to grab the polaroid from Taeyong’s backpack he had thrown in the back earlier. 

He hands the camera to Taeyong and they take a few selfies, laughing at how Johnny has to squat to get in the same frame. Taeyong takes the camera and insists on taking solo shots for the other, trying different poses and laughing between each picture, making a pile. 

After a few minutes of taking pictures, Johnny scoops up the pile and takes the camera, taking his own picture of Taeyong as they walk back towards the car. Johnny thinks he never wants to forget how Taeyong looks in this exact moment, his blonde hair falling in his eyes, his cheeks stretched into a big smile, a laugh falling from his heart shaped lips as he climbs back in the car. 

Johnny’s phone buzzes in his pocket, and he reluctantly draws his gaze away from the hauntingly beautiful sight that is Taeyong sitting with his feet on the dash in Johnny’s passenger seat, instead throwing the polaroids and camera in his backpack as he unlocks his phone.

He sees a missed call from Hyuck and two unread texts, frowning slightly as soon as he reads them, dread carving its place in his chest. 

 

From: Hyuckie 🐻

6:45 pm: hey! just checking in on you, I know tomorrow is going to be hard :(

6:45 pm: i love you, i’m here for you, call me if you need me, okay?

6:46 pm: also… are you going to tell Taeyong?

 

Johnny shuts the phone off, tossing it in his backpack and ignoring the dull ache in his chest, pushing the thought from his head, instead asking Taeyong to map the way to their hotel. 

 

 ☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

After having a full mental breakdown on the side of the road after realizing he has feelings -- disgustingly real, I like you a lot, feelings -- for Johnny, Taeyong has calmed down slightly but still is not doing well. 

They were pretty close to their hotel when Taeyong had asked Johnny to pull over, so Taeyong only had to direct him for about twenty minutes until they reached their home for the night. 

Johnny pulls into the parking lot of a big hotel building, surprising Taeyong with how nice it looks, at least from the outside. Admittedly, Taeyong doesn’t really know much about Oklahoma city, but he was surprised they had hotels that looked like this. 

Taeyong stretches when Johnny puts the car in park, his aching bones lusting over the thought of getting a good night sleep in a comfortable bed in a real hotel, unlike their motel last night where the bed felt like sheet rock. 

And then, suddenly Taeyong remembers that Johnny’s stakes for winning the bet was they had to share a bed again, and suddenly the big comfortable bed in the huge hotel in front of him is no longer a dream, but a nightmare. 

Sleeping in the same bed as Johnny when Taeyong thought he still hated him was one thing, but sharing a bed, fuck, cuddling with Johnny, now that Taeyong acknowledges he has big I think I want to be more than friends feelings for Johnny, is going to be near impossible. 

Taeyong feels the panic start to rise again, and sends Johnny in to check in and get a room, get their room, by himself, desperately trying to prolong the last few moments of alone time he’s going to get before he’s stuck in a room for the night with Johnny and his feelings for the man. 

As soon as Johnny is through the front door and out of sight, Taeyong quickly dials the only number he knows off the top of his head, raising the phone to his ear as he hears it ring. 

“Hello?”

Taeyong sighs in relief when he hears the line pick up, not sure what he was going to do if he didn’t answer.

“Mark. Oh my god, Mark. Something terrible happened.” Taeyong rushes to say, bringing his hand to his mouth to chew nervously on the ends of his nails, his eyes glued to the door for any sign of Johnny coming  back to the car. 

“What are you talking about, T? Are you okay? Are you hurt? Is Johnny okay?” 

“No of course I’m not okay!” Taeyong stage-whispers. He hears Mark begin to interject in a scared voice and corrects himself, “Well, I mean, I’m ‘okay,’ like I’m not physically injured or bleeding out and dying and neither is Johnny, fine. But I’m not like... okay .”

Mark sighs, “I’m afraid you’re not making any sense, Yong.”

“Just say you told me so, already,” Taeyong groans, rubbing his eyes. 

“I … told you so?” Mark says, tentatively, “Can I ask what this is about, T? I’m kind of in the middle of something right now.” Taeyong hears the muffled sounds of papers shuffling in the background and wonders if Mark is still at work. He raises his arm to look at his watch before shaking his head with the realization he isn’t even positive he knows what time zone it is.

“I don’t give a shit what you’re in the middle of, Mark. It couldn’t possibly be more important than this. I need you, I’m having a full-blown fucking crisis right now,” Taeyong whines, raising his voice. 

“Taeyong,” Mark laughs, “okay, fine, I’ll bite, Mr. Dramatic. What ‘crisis’ are you going through right now?” 

Taeyong can practically hear Mark rolling his eyes, which really isn’t fair because this is a crisis. 

“I-- I have,” Taeyong swallows, wondering how to phrase it, “I don’t think I can say it out loud, actually, I feel sick.”

“TAEYONG,” Mark scolds, his voice annoyed, “Oh my fucking god, T. If you don’t tell me what’s going on literally right now, I’m hanging up.”

“Fine! You were right, okay? From the other day. You were right, I have a big fucking stupid crush on Johnny! Okay? Are you happy? There, I fucking said it.” Taeyong can hear his heart beating erratically against his chest at the rush of adrenaline from finally admitting that out loud. 

It’s real now, spoken into existence. A crush. On Johnny Suh. He can’t even deny it. 

Mark has the audacity to laugh. To laugh. At his own brother having a crisis. 

Taeyong,” Mark starts, still laughing, his words barely coming out, “Okay. Well, first of all, that hardly counts as a crisis.”

Wrong. This definitely feels like a crisis. 

Taeyong scowls, “ And second of all?”

“Second of all, I told you so,” Mark mocks, his voice smug. 

He sounds like Johnny, Taeyong thinks, then scolds himself for having Johnny constantly on his mind. 

“Mark, listen. I don’t even know how this happened. I think it’s probably your fault, you put the idea in my stupid head. I’m supposed to hate the man and yet I can’t stop thinking about him. Like literally cannot stop. He’s so fucking perfect, Mark. He keeps doing these things, these um, these little things. Like today, Mark, oh, Mark, get this. I swear you won’t believe this. He fake fucking proposed to me in front of a whole diner today just to get me free cake. Serenaded me and everything. I just about dropped to my knees then and there. Speaking of getting on my knees, he’s so fucking hot. Literally so sexy I don’t understand how anybody actually looks like that. How did I not notice that before. His fucking body, too. Have you ever seen a body like that?” Taeyong trails off, realizing that he just told his little brother he wanted to get on his knees for Johnny. His literal younger brother who happens to be getting married to Johnny’s own younger brother in a few days.

“Okay, um, I literally never want to hear you talk about how sexy Johnny’s body is. Like ever again, God. He’s my fiance’s brother, Yong.  Keep that shit to yourself, please.” 

Taeyong sighs, “okay fine, but seriously, I don’t know what to do. What do I do?” 

“Fine. I’ll entertain the idea. Do you think you like him like you just want to fuck him or do you think you like him like you want to date him?” Mark asks. 

Taeyong makes a sound of protest at Mark saying ‘want to fuck him,’ “Mark you are a child, don’t say things like that.”

“Taeyong. I’m literally getting married next week, what do you mean child?” 

“Fine, but you’re always gonna be my baby brother, so you are a child to me,” Taeyong sighs, “I just... I don’t know if I do want more. How am I meant to know? How did you know with Hyuck?” 

Mark’s voice softens at the mention of his soon-to-be husband. 

“There’s just a moment where it clicks. He’s gonna say or do something and you’ll just know. For us, we weren’t even doing anything special, just making dinner together, and I just looked at him and thought, that boy right there is my future. I knew right then that he was way more than just a college hook-up.”

Taeyong smiles softly, thinking about how perfect Mark and Donghyuck are for each other, craving that kind of true love for himself. 

“But how will I know?”

“You’ll just know, it’s hard to explain. You’ll know exactly the moment when it happens, I promise, T,” Mark says sweetly, humming before adding,“if it’s just a hook-up then it’s just a hook-up, but I think you and Johnny could really have something great, you know? So, don’t push him away just because you haven’t had your moment yet. If it’s meant to be, you’ll know.”

Taeyong swallows, closing his eyes as he feels a lump rise in his throat at Mark’s words. Mark, who was so ridiculously in love with Donghyuck, who was in a beautiful, strong relationship. Mark thought that Johnny and him could have something great.

So, maybe Taeyong could wait, and see if their moment happens. Today, tomorrow, in a few days, months. Taeyong could wait, because maybe, just maybe, Johnny was meant to be his

Taeyong hears the door open and startles, his eyes shooting open as he sends Mark off with a rushed “cool, bye, talk later, love you ,” and hanging up as Johnny pops his head in the car. 

“Who was that?” Johnny asks, gesturing towards Taeyong’s phone. 

“Oh, just Mark,” Taeyong responds, trying his best to act nonchalant after the emotionally loaded conversation he just had, “he was checking in.”

“Oh, okay,” Johnny says, thankfully not questioning Taeyong’s words and moving on. He holds up a room key and grins. “Our home for the night,” Johnny says, shaking the card so Taeyong’s eyes are drawn towards it. 

Taeyong gulps. Their home for the night. Just the two of them. In one bed. He can do this. 

“Let’s go check it out, then, shall we?” Taeyong sighs, getting out of the car to collect his things and head in.

 

 ☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

The elevator doors close behind Taeyong as he steps into the small space, his eyes going wide with surprise as he watches Johnny lean forward to press the button for the tenth floor.

“Wait, our room’s on the top floor?” Taeyong asks, thinking about how they’d probably have an amazing view of the city from that far up in the building. 

Johnny leans back with a grin, his head resting on the cool metal of the elevator’s walls, hands in his pockets, a mischievous glint in the honey of his eyes, “well, normally when someone presses a button, in an elevator, on their way to their room, it normally means that their room is on that floor.”

Taeyong rolls his eyes, muttering an i hate you under his breath as Johnny laughs. 

“Yes, our room is on the top floor, Taeyong. I think you’ll quite like the one I chose,” Johnny smiles. 

Taeyong bites his lip, turning his eyes back to the top of the door to watch the numbers go up. 

Floors 6… 7…

“Trust me when I say it’s going to be a vast improvement from last night’s room,” Johnny adds with a small laugh. 

Taeyong smiles, the image of their tiny motel room with no power and barely any furniture from the night before flashing through his mind. 

Floors 8… 9… 10.

The elevator dings, heavy metal doors opening to reveal a lavish hallway, floors a dark marble, gold trimmed mirrors lining the wall before him. 

Taeyong’s brows furrow, turning back to Johnny. 

“Are you sure we have the right floor?” Taeyong asks, taking a tentative step into the halfway, noticing that only three rooms appear to be on the entire floor of the hotel. 

Johnny laughs, brushing past him to walk towards the door on their left, “yeah, pretty sure we have the right floor, baby.”

Taeyong scowls at the pet name, scowls at how his traitorous heart skips a beat when Johnny calls him said pet name. Did Johnny even know what he was doing to him?

Taeyong shakes his head lightly, walking to Johnny’s side, his heart beating in anticipation of seeing what lies behind the sleek black door. 

Taeyong glances up, his eyes going wide as he reads “Executive Suite” on a placard on top of the room number, his mouth going dry as he thinks about Johnny getting them a whole suite just for the night. At least it didn’t say something like Honeymoon Suite. That would have done him in. 

Taeyong sees a flash of bright green when Johnny presses the key card to the lock, a small gasp involuntarily leaving Taeyong’s lips as his eyes roam the roam once the door opens. 

Taeyong takes a slow step into their room, his eyes drinking in the breathtaking wall of windows revealing the city below, the king sized bed in the middle of the furthest wall, the living area with a flat screen tv and flowers on the table, the floors of white marble in the bathroom. 

He turns, his jaw unhinged, to face Johnny. 

“Look, I know you have a lot of money, but this feels like an extravagant spend, even for you, Johnny,” Taeyong says, his suitcase dragging limply behind him. 

Johnny opens his mouth to speak, then cuts himself off with a loud chuckle, his body bending towards Taeyong as the laugh ripples through him, “I was gonna go on some rant about money not being a problem and how this isn’t extravagant at all, just to mess with you, but I couldn't even get a word out without laughing.” 

Taeyong frowns, his eyes narrowing as he takes in Johnny’s laughing form, waiting for a further explanation. 

“One of my friends from college owns this hotel brand. So, whenever I stay at one of them, he always gets me the best room available. That’s who I was on the phone with earlier,” Johnny explains simply, as if Taeyong should have somehow pieced all of that together himself. 

“Just a friend? Must’ve been a good friend, ” Taeyong says with a low whistle, waving a hand around the extravagant room. 

Johnny laughs, his eyes darkening slightly as he takes a step forward, “If you are asking if we used to fuck , the answer would be no, Taeyong.” Taeyong feels his breath hitch. He supposes that is exactly what he was wondering, Johnny having seen straight through him. “But, we were roommates, so I guess you could say that yes, he was a good friend,” Johnny adds. 

Taeyong’s brows furrow slightly, “wait. Are we talking about roommates in film school, or business?” He asks, still slightly confused on that timeline of Johnny’s. 

Something like surprise and brief pain flashes through Johnny’s eyes at the mention of college, the look falling off his face as he looks away and moves into the other side of the room to set down his backpack and luggage near the bed. He speaks up, his voice filled with typical mock, “Well, I don’t happen to know any cinematographers that own hotels, do you , Taeyong?” 

Taeyong rolls his eyes, “I shouldn't have asked,” moving to place his own things down, and walk around their room for the night, taking in the suite and all of its accommodations. 

After setting everything down, Taeyong walks towards the wall of windows and peers out at the busy city below him. It was no New York City, but the image of bright street lights and passing cars bring a smile to his face, the feeling of missing home panging his heart for the first time all week. He raises a hand to softly press against the window, gasping at the feeling of the cool glass against his warm palm. His traitorous mind wanders, however, at the feeling, drifting off to the image of his naked body pressed into the cool glass, Johnny looming over him from behind, his hands pressing bruises into the soft flesh of Taeyong’s hips as he rocks into him from behind.  

Taeyong’s breath catches and he takes his hand away from the glass, the cool feeling disappearing along with the image, but leaving his body in goosebumps. He desperately wills the thought away, his mouth running dry at the thought of Johnny fucking him against the glass of their penthouse hotel suite. 

Taeyong shakes his head and clears his throat, cursing himself because now that he is looking at Johnny, it’s all he can think about.  

Johnny opens his mouth to speak when a loud rumble ripples from his stomach, catching them both off guard. Johnny laughs at the abrupt noise, Taeyong quickly joining him with a giggle, the latter moving to sit on the large grey sofa. 

“I was going to say that we should look into getting something to eat, but it seems my stomach beat me to it,” Johnny laughs, rubbing a hand across his abdomen. Taeyong doesn’t miss how his fingers seem to catch between each ripple of muscle on his stomach, but he forces himself to tear his eyes away before he says something stupid. 

Taeyong rubs at his eyes before picking up the room service menu laying on the table in front of him. 

“Thoughts on room service?” Taeyong asks, holding the menu up in question, hopeful Johnny will agree  to stay in. After a day of almost ten hours on the road, the last thing he wants to do is to make Johnny drive them to dinner. Okay, and maybe he doesn’t want to get in a car and go somewhere either, when they have such a nice room to themselves only for a few hours, anyway. 

“Sounds like a dream,” Johnny says, walking around the back of the sofa to look over Taeyong’s shoulder at the menu. 

Taeyong’s breathing gets faster, shaky as he feels Johnny hover so close to his back. If he leaned back just a few inches, his back would probably press against Johnny’s chest, his head hitting at the base of Johnny’s throat. Taeyong can feel Johnny’s breath on his neck and suppresses a shiver, cursing himself for reacting so basely to Johnny. 

“Hmm, what are you thinking of getting, Yong?” Johnny asks, reaching forward to take the menu out of Taeyong’s hands, bringing it closer to read the items in small print. 

“I’m thinking pasta,” Taeyong responds, his hand still loosely hovering in the air where he had been holding the menu, his brain working at least three times slower with Johnny so close to him, the smell of his cologne lingering in the air even when he pulls back. 

Johnny hums, considering Taeyong’s order, “Yeah, honestly pasta sounds good as fuck right now, I’m so hungry.”

Taeyong smiles a little at Johnny having the same carb cravings as him, taking back the menu with a smirk, picking out which pasta he wants from the dinner section. 

“Will you call down?” Taeyong asks, turning to face Johnny. 

Johnny raises an amused brow, stealing the menu back with a look that screams challenge, “don’t tell me you’re afraid of calling food places. I thought twenty some year old people should’ve grown out of that by now,” he taunts. 

Taeyong’s lips turn down at the jab, crossing his arms defensively, “I’m not scared, John, I just don’t like it,” he explains, swallowing before adding, “am I not allowed preference these days? I can’t dislike things?”

Johnny laughs, crossing the room to pick up the corded phone on their bedside table, bringing it to his ear after dialing the number for room service, “while i’d love to hear more about your preferences later, for now I just need to know what pasta you decided on.” 

Taeyong feels heat rising to his cheeks at the suggestive tone Johnny adopts, muttering his answer as he goes to take off his jacket, resting it on top of his suitcase. 

Taeyong zones out as Johnny orders their food, but his ears perk up at the end of the call when he hears Johnny add, “and can we also have two bottles of your oldest zinfandel, as well? Amazing, thank you.”

Taeyong feels his mouth drop, turning towards Johnny as he hangs up the phone.

“Two bottles?” Taeyong asks with raised eyebrows. Johnny was a big guy, sure, but a bottle each ? Was he trying to get Taeyong absolutely wasted? The last time he had more than three glasses of wine he woke up in a stranger's bed with zero recollection of the night before. 

Johnny takes a few steps forward, stopping only a foot in front of Taeyong, causing him to crane his neck up slightly to meet Johnny’s eyes. Taeyong swallows at the height difference. 

“I forgot you were so small,” Johnny says with a smirk, “too much of a lightweight to drink with me?” Johnny asks. 

Taeyong feels the tips of his ears turn red under Johnny’s intense stare, and mocking smile,“ no ,” Taeyong whines, “I do drink. And I’m not a lightweight,” he adds with a pout. 

“Is that so?” Johnny all but whispers, taking another step closer, his chest now just inches from Taeyong’s eyes. 

Taeyong nods, scared to open his mouth, lest something like an unintelligible whine or soft moan come out at Johnny being so close to him. He looks down, noticing that Johnny’s feet are almost touching his, he’s so close. 

Johnny hooks a finger under Taeyong’s chin, raising it delicately so Taeyong meets his eyes. Taeyong’s heart flutters at the whisper of an intimate touch, his hands aching to do something, aching to reach out and feel

“I guess that tonight you’ll just have to prove me wrong then, baby ,” Johnny drawls, his voice a low whisper, his eyes flicking down to Taeyong’s lips before coming back to his eyes, slowly. 

Taeyong shivers at his tone, and then again at the raw look of hunger in Johnny’s eyes as he looks at Taeyong’s lips, as Johnny watches as Taeyong’s tongue darts out to wet them before sliding back into his mouth. 

Johnny drops his hand from Taeyong’s chin and takes a step back, breaking the tension as Taeyong feels the air rush back into his lungs. He doesn’t know if he’s relieved or disappointed at the lack of Johnny’s touch on his face. 

“Food should be here in fifteen, so I think I'm gonna hop in the shower, if that’s okay with you? Unless you wanted to shower first?” Johnny asks, his voice noticeably rough, affected

“No, no, go ahead,” Taeyong manages, his hands clenching at his sides as he begs himself to pull it together. 

Johnny smiles then goes to his bag to collect his things for his shower, disappearing behind the bathroom door a few minutes later. 

Taeyong sits on the edge of their bed with a hand on his chest, feeling the racing of his heartbeat below his palm. He takes a minute to just breathe before reaching for his phone. 

He opens up messages, clicking onto his last conversation with Mark, rapidly texting him. 

 

To: Markie

7:55 PM: MAYDAY !!!!!!! SOS

7:56 PM: Johnny touched my face & I almost cried

7:56 PM: he’s showering now which I refuse to let myself think about bc uhh sexy…. but I want to DIE because I think he knows how i feel about him. He has to know right?????? 

 

Taeyong puts his phone down on the bed beside him, but remembers that he wanted to send Mark pictures of the polaroids they took earlier, so he moves towards the bathroom, pressing a hand against the rich wood, asking through the door where Johnny put the camera and pictures earlier.  

Johnny yells back through the door that they were in the front pocket of his backpack, and Taeyong moves to the corner of the bedroom where Johnny had thrown his things earlier. 

Taeyong kneels down in front of Johnny’s backpack, tucking his feet under his body and taking a deep breath before unzipping it. For some reason it felt incredibly invasive, incredibly personal to be going through Johnny’s bag when he wasn’t there, and Taeyong felt his stomach turn with anxiety at the thought of being caught going through Johnny’s things, despite Johnny giving him permission to take back the camera and pictures. 

He finds the pictures fairly easily, as most rest towards the top of the pocket. He smiles as he takes each one out, tracing fondly over the outline of Johnny’s smile in his favorite one, a picture he took of Johnny sitting on the side of the road, smiling as he looked back at Taeyong. The look made his heart flutter, even through the photograph. 

Taeyong takes out the rest of the pictures individually, smiling at every new pose from Johnny he sees, each more ridiculous than the last. 

Taeyong gets to the last picture in the stack and expects it to be yet another one he took of Johnny, or one of their selfies, but when he sees it, he feels his breath catch in his throat. It was a polaroid that Johnny had taken of him when he wasn’t looking, a shot of his profile as they walked back to the car. It wasn’t the quality of the photo that made Taeyong’s heart flutter, rather the look on his face. 

Is this how Johnny sees him? 

The Taeyong in the photo was smiling brightly, his head thrown back in a big laugh, his arms swinging by his sides, handfuls of polaroids in each hand. He looks beautiful, but more importantly he looks happy, so incredibly happy. Taeyong’s lips turn into a frown as he thinks about how perfect that moment had felt.  Johnny had somehow captured the exact feeling of the moment, in a way that Taeyong never thought could be photographed. Johnny really did have an artistic eye that Taeyong never expected of him. 

Taeyong looks at the picture for a few seconds longer, before tucking it back into Johnny’s backpack, knowing that the picture was probably never meant for Taeyong to see. He goes to zip it back up when he notices a familiar name on a napkin, and pulls it out. 

At first, Taeyong’s brows furrow, confused as to why Johnny would have kept a used napkin sitting in his backpack, but when he turns it over, a small gasp leaves his mouth, his throat feeling tight as emotion swells in his chest. 

It was the napkin from the cursed diner they had seen Yuta in. Johnny had kept it. He had kept the fucking napkin, that they had written notes to each other on like teenagers, about their waitress. 

Taeyong thumbs softly over the writing, laughing to himself as he reads, in Johnny’s terrible handwriting, “ scary waitress is staring at us w/ crazy eyes. If we die, it’s all on u .” Taeyong rolls his eyes fondly, imagining that was probably exactly what his reaction was when he first read it, too. He vaguely remembers what he said in response but laughs when he reads his actual response of: “ I hate you, Johnny Suh. we aren’t gonna die tho … right…she really does have crazy eyes.”

What draws Taeyong’s eye, however, is not his response, but the response that follows. The response that he never read . He hadn’t even noticed that Johnny had written down something, too absorbed in the shallow drama of Yuta and his hopefully now ex-boyfriend, Sicheng entering the restaurant. 

Taeyong feels his vision starting to blur with unshed tears as he runs a finger over the worn writing of Johnny’s answer. 

don’t worry yong. I’ll protect you. always,” Johnny had written. And he did. 

He did. 

He did. 

He did. 

Johnny hasn’t stopped protecting him since the trip started. Taeyong’s heart suddenly feels too warm, and is met with the sudden urge to cry, overwhelmed with wanting to wrap Johnny up in a hug and never let go. Because if Johnny was going to protect him, always , then Taeyong was going to protect him right back. Because somehow, despite all odds, despite his better judgement, Johnny was becoming one of the most important people in Taeyong’s life. 

And, oh god

This moment, right here. 

Fuck. 

This was the feeling Mark was talking about. Taeyong didn’t know how he knew, but he knew. Because he’s always been attracted to Johnny, always known there was something there, but now? Now he craves Johnny in every fibre of his being, a missing part to his whole. Because, maybe, if this feeling was what he thought it was, it meant that Johnny could be the person that would finally love Taeyong enough to make him believe he was worthy of it. Maybe Johnny was meant to be his. 



 ☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾



Taeyong twirls some more pasta around his fork aimlessly, his eyes widening in horror as Johnny fills up both of their wine glasses again. 

Horror, because it was not his second glass, nor even his third, but his fourth.

If Taeyong wakes up and remembers any part of the night, it’s going to be a modern day miracle. 

After his first glass, he was already feeling the effects of the alcohol burning through his system, his fingers and face buzzing, a deep flush on his chest and cheeks from the wine, his mind lighter, his inhibitions lowered. 

After his second glass, he was beginning to feel tipsy, the wine no longer a nice drink to accompany his pasta and bread, but a means to an end for getting Taeyong drunk. 

It was the third glass, however, when things started to be bad. He was getting way past tipsy, and his mouth started to say things before his brain could approve them. 

Like when he accidentally said out loud that Johnny has really nice hands when he reached forward to grab another piece of bread from the table. Johnny had raised his eyebrows and laughed at Taeyong clamping a hand over his mouth after he said it. At least he hadn’t finished his thought, about just how nice his hands would look, wrapped around his neck, pressing him roughly into a mattress. 

It really wasn’t Taeyong’s fault he was having especially feral thoughts at a seemingly innocent dinner. It was the wine’s fault. Well, the wine’s fault and Johnny’s. 

Johnny had walked out of the bathroom, steam flowing from the open door, wearing nothing but a pair of black sweatpants, his abs on full display. Taeyong’s mouth had waterered as he watched rivulets of water drip from his long black hair down the sides of his neck, and chest, and abs, and he had to forcibly remove his eyes from the sight, before he allowed himself to look any further. Because if Johnny’s upper body naked had made him turn into a horny monster, he didn’t want to even imagine how Johnny fully naked would make him feel. 

Johnny had thankfully put on a shirt, but when he sat down, Taeyong noticed how it hung so, so loosely on his shoulders, revealing his silver necklace he was always wearing against his smooth, pale skin, and his collarbones peeking out from the top of the shirt. 

So, that , mixed with the effects of the wine, had Taeyong reduced to silent lust, stewing on his half of the large sofa. 

Taeyong reaches for his wine glass, pushing his plate of mostly finished pasta away, claiming that if he eats any more he’s going to die, patting his stomach for dramatic effect. 

Johnny laughs, “I think I’m done too,” before reaching for Taeyong’s dish to put them both back on the trolley Taeyong had rolled into the room earlier. 

At the movement, Johnny groans, a small pained noise escaping his mouth as he raises his arms above his head. 

At the noise, Taeyong shifts closer, his knee dipping into the cushion between them as he leans towards Johnny. 

“What’s wrong?” Taeyong asks, concerned. 

“Oh, sorry, it’s just my back kills . I think it’s from driving today, I was kinda tense with all of the traffic this morning,” Johnny responds, meeting Taeyong’s eyes. 

And, before Taeyong can realize what exactly it is that he’s saying, the wine speaks for him, “Oh, do you want a massage? I’m really good at working out knots.” 

The offer was truly innocent in theory but the way that Johnny’s eyes darken at the words, a small smirk playing at the corner of his lips, make it feel like he just asked him if he could suck his dick. 

“Is that so? Taeyongie is good with his hands, Hmm?” Johnny asks slowly, each word dripping with suggestion.

Taeyong swallows hard, taking a deep breath through his nose. You see, this, this situation right here, is why he doesn’t drink. 

Curse his stupid wine-loosened tongue, and curse himself for actually caring too much for Johnny’s wellbeing to not give him the fucking massage, because he knows he’s hurting, and wants to help. 

Great with my hands,” Taeyong replies with a challenge written in his eyes, standing up on wobbly legs and gesturing towards their bed for Johnny to go lie down as he disappears into the bathroom to find body lotion to make the massage better.

“I bet you are , baby,” Johnny calls from the other room with a laugh, making Taeyong smile as he searches for the lotion.

Taeyong finally finds the lotion, heading back into their bedroom to find Johnny already shirtless, laying limply face down on the bed. 

Taeyong has to force himself to calm down, refusing to let Johnny’s back muscles alone work him up. And they could, they really could. 

Taeyong gets to the edge of the bed and Johnny turns his head to the side, looking up at Taeyong with a soft smile playing on his lips. 

“Thank you for doing this,” Johnny says quietly, and it’s sweet and endearing, and it makes butterflies stir in Taeyong’s stomach. 

Taeyong smiles back, softly responding, “ It’s the least I can do,” before getting up onto the bed. 

He places a tentative knee on either side of Johnny’s hips, extremely careful as to not actually touch any part of his lower body, lest Johnny think that the massage was really code for something else. Something Taeyong isn’t sure he’d come out of alive. 

He pours out some of the lotion on his hands before diving right in, working his hands across the vast expanse of Johnny’s back, spreading the lotion out across all of the skin in front of him. 

Taeyong works his way up Johnny’s back, loosening some of the tension in his lower back, never dipping too close to the edge of his sweatpants, using all of his hands to knead and prod the pain away. 

Taeyong laughs every time Johnny huffs when he reaches a tighter muscle, spending more time working those ones out. 

Taeyong can feel the exact moment when the mood changes, when he reaches Johnny’s shoulder, and the biggest knot yet, his fingers rolling around the knot as Johnny moans into the pillow, the sound falling off of his lips and going straight to Taeyong’s core. His hands falter at the sound, his heart picking up as he runs back over the same spot, another small mewl coming from Johnny at the pressure. At the third pass over the spot, Johnny’s shoulders arch back with his soft grunt, his body raising towards the pressure involuntarily, accidentally knocking Taeyong’s legs, making him fall onto Johnny, flush against his lower back.

Taeyong’s dick twitches in his pants at the lewd noises spewing from Johnny’s mouth and the pressure building in his core, and he scrambles off of Johnny’s back as quickly as he can, already halfway to the bathroom before he says anything. 

He calls out a “I’m gonna shower, now,”  not even daring to look back at Johnny, not wanting to see the amusement at Taeyong’s reaction that he undoubtedly is sporting, opening the door and slamming it shut behind him, leaning against the wood as he slides down to the floor. 

He takes a few minutes to just calm his breathing, ignoring the throbbing in his core and need he feels coursing through his body, stepping under the scalding hot water, and washing away the grime of the day, and trying his best to ignore his feelings.

 

 ☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong steps out of the shower, grabbing a towel off of the rack, sighing in content at the feeling of the soft cotton against his skin. 

He dries off, toweling his hair which now smells like Johnny’s shampoo, because of course in his haste to get away from Johnny, he neglected to bring anything into the bathroom. 

Once he’s happy with how dry his hair is, he goes to get dressed, only for his heart to drop out of his chest. Because if he forgot to bring in his toiletries…

Taeyong is stuck, staring at his semi-naked reflection in the mirror, wondering how he’s going to get out of this one. Because he is definitely not going to walk out in just a towel. Knowing him, he would accidentally drop it or something. His head is heavy from the alcohol and he doesn’t trust himself anymore. 

He rifles through the cabinet, smiling brightly when he finds a big white robe, happy that at least one of his problems could be easily solved. 

He wraps himself up in it, tying it as tight as possible, and hangs up the towel to dry. 

He takes a deep breath and steps back into the main room. 

What he doesn’t expect, however, is Johnny to be standing in the middle of the room, his eyebrows raised and his mouth hanging open, holding a phone. 

No, holding Taeyong’s phone. 

Oh, fuck. Taeyong is stuck in his spot, his feet glued to the floor in fear and nerves. 

“What are you doing?” Taeyong asks, his voice small. 

Johnny holds up the phone, clearing his throat before smirking, “your phone keeps dinging, so I uh, went to turn off your ringer, and I, um, accidentally read some incoming texts. Some very interesting texts.”

Taeyong’s heart threatens to beat out of his chest, because who could have been texting him something interesting? The last guy he was seeing has a new boyfriend, so it definitely couldn’t be him. Yuta wouldn’t dare, he knows how much Taeyong hates him now. That leaves who, Taeil? They hadn’t spoken in over a year. 

Oh, Oh, no. 

It dawns on Taeyong who exactly would text him, if not the last person he texted himself. 

Mark. 

Fuck. Taeyong’s eyes widen in horror as he realizes what his last conversation was with Mark, who their last conversation was about. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. 

This can’t be happening. Taeyong’s skin is on fire with shame, and just when he thinks it can’t get worse, Johnny opens his mouth and starts to read them. 

“Yong, stop saying SOS for situations you know how to handle,” Johnny starts, his shit-eating grin only growing. 

Taeyong suddenly feels nauseous as he remembers the last thing he said to Mark, and starts to run, rushing towards Johnny because he needs to get the phone out of his hands. 

“Give me my fucking phone, Johnny,” Taeyong yells, panic evident in his voice. 

Johnny sees him approaching and moves, going to the other side of the sofa as Taeyong chases him. 

“Okay, you’re being ridiculous,” Johnny reads, still quoting Mark, “almost cried? Imagine if he actually touches you, what are you gonna do, throw up?” 

Taeyong’s cheeks feel impossibly red, and he knows he’s blushing deeper than he probably ever has before, and now he’s no longer just embarrassed, but furious. 

Taeyong yells again, “Stop it right now, give me my phone you asshole,” running to the other side of the sofa as Johnny runs to the bedroom, Taeyong hot on his trails. 

Johnny doesn’t stop, however, and the texts keep getting worse, “Johnny’s smart, Yong, I think if you are being obvious, then yeah he probably knows.” 

Johnny pauses in front of the bed, and Taeyong sees his window of opportunity, tackling him and crawling over him, desperately trying to claw his phone out of Johnny’s hands as they scramble across the bed. 

And then, everything in the world seems to go perfectly, painfully still, because Taeyong realizes where he is and what he’s doing. He’s sitting on Johnny’s lap, straddling him in only a bathrobe, the front slit open dangerously high, revealing his bare legs spread wide on Johnny’s thighs, his pale skin looking like moonlight against the black cotton of Johnny’s sweatpants. 

“Give. Me. My. Phone.” Taeyong grits out in a whisper, breathing heavily as he reaches towards Johnny’s hand raised above them, just out of reach. 

Johnny smirks, his eyes impossibly dark, and whispers in a low voice, “There’s only one more text, and it’s the best one.” 

Taeyong’s stomach drops, scared as to what that’s supposed to mean, cursing himself for leaving his phone open where Johnny could read his texts.

“I don’t think I want to know what it says,” Taeyong says, embarrassed beyond belief.  

Johnny hands him his phone, pointless now that he’s read everything, leaning forward to whisper in Taeyong’s ear,  “If you think Johnny is that hot, maybe you should just fuck him and figure out if you feel anything after that.” 

Taeyong stops breathing completely. He feels like he’s on fire as Johnny leans back, his head hitting the headboard, his eyes burning into Taeyong’s, hunger written across his entire expression. 

Taeyong shifts back, flinching away from the stare involuntarily, only to hit something hard when he moves back, his bathrobe having rode up from sitting, realizing that Johnny’s semi-hard dick is pressing into his bare ass.

Taeyong suppresses a whimper at the hard length and whispers, his voice already wrecked, “fuck, Johnny. Are you hard?

Taeyong’s thighs are already trembling with need, but the look in Johnny’s eyes makes a small whine escape his lips, and when Johnny speaks , Taeyong turns into putty on his lap. 

“What am I supposed to feel, when your bare ass keeps grinding down on my dick and I’ve just read texts about how you think I’m hot and want to fuck me?” Johnny asks, his voice low, his eyes boring into Taeyong’s with unwritten need. 

Taeyong feels his heart start to pound, his breathing coming out in a shallow gasp as he locks eyes with johnny, dropping the phone carelessly off of the side of the bed, biting his lips slightly as he shifts tentatively again, rocking back against Johnny, a soft moan spilling from his lips at the feeling.

Johnny’s hands slide up his thighs, under his robe with a bruising grip, a dark warning in his eyes. 

Taeyong rocks back again, gasping when he feels Johnny’s hands slowly start to creep up his legs, digging into the skin, caressing his inner thighs.Taeyong feels himself start to get hard under the touch, all the while Johnny won’t take his eyes off of him, his gaze intoxicating. 

Taeyong thinks he could cum from just the look in Johnny’s eyes alone, not to mention with him pressing his hands high on his thighs, working him up into a writhing mess with his touch, not even having to kiss him. 

Taeyong’s hands come up to thread through Johnny’s still damp hair, running his hands through the ends at the back, leaning forward slightly with a gasp when Johnny’s knuckles brush dangerously close to his dick. 

He whimpers, biting his lip as Johnny smiles and moves a hand up around the outside of his hip, to knead the soft skin of his ass, tugging Taeyong closer to him to pull on the shell of his ear with his teeth, pressing a soft kiss under it, making Taeyong’s eyes flutter shut. 

Johnny’s voice drops to a low whisper, “Such a pretty kitten,” Johnny says, moaning softly into his ear as Taeyong grinds down again, “ I want to ruin you,” he adds, making Taeyong’s breath hitch. 

Taeyong whimpers at the sound, at the name, pulling back to look into Johnny’s eyes and only seeing pure lust, grinding down again, harder, leaving them both panting with need. 

The word kitten repeating in his mind, his entire body feeling like he’s on fire.

He swallows, his tongue slipping out of his mouth licking his lips, watching as Johnny’s eyes hungrily follow the movement. 

Taeyong leans forward, moving his hands from the back of Johnny’ s hair to his bare shoulders, whispering  back, “don’t make me beg, ” onto Johnny’s lips.

That’s all the encouragement Johnny needs, leaning forward and finally pressing his lips to Taeyong’s, licking into his mouth as Taeyong moans around his tongue, his eyes fluttering shut as he gives in to the pleasure. 

Johnny hooks his hands around Taeyong’s body, throwing him onto his back, knocking the breath out of him as he changes their position. 

He presses his body weight forward, pressing a hand on Taeyong’s stomach, pushing him deeper into the mattress, grinding up into his body as he pulls Taeyong back into a deep, hungry kiss. 

The pressure is delicious, but Taeyong craves more. 

He grinds up into Johnny, whining at the layers of clothes between them. Johnny’s hands slink up the sides of his waist, gripping his hips tightly as he grinds down into him, a moan falling from his lips. 

Taeyong breaks the kiss, leaning back and breathing heavily, “more, Johnny. Touch me please,” he whispers onto his lips, his dick painfully hard against his stomach. Johnny’s hands make another slow sweep of his hands down Taeyong’s thighs, pushing them further apart as he chases the friction. 

Johnny then sighs, leaning back, resting on his forearms, stroking a finger along Taeyong’s face, tracing the outline of his lips before coming to rest his palm on his cheek, his thumb stroking high on his cheekbone. 

Taeyong keens at the attention, “I need more, Johnny,” he whispers, his nails scratching on the bare skin of his back. 

Johnny gives him one last look before he leans back down, pressing a hot kiss on his jawline, then his throat, making a line of kisses all the way down Taeyong's chest, stopping when he meets the edge of his robe. 

Johnny looks up from under his lashes as he slowly, way too fucking slowly , unravels the string at Taeyong’s waist, pushing open the bathrobe, leaving Taeyong’s body fully bare below him. 

Johnny’s eyes roam each inch of skin he reveals, the possessive look in Johnny’s eyes making Taeyong squirm. Johnny’s eyes linger on Taeyong’s dick, flushed and red, leaking precum onto his stomach. 

Taeyong has never in his life been more turned on, and never in his life wanted to be touched more. 

Fuck, you’re unreal,” Johnny chokes out, his voice incredibly hoarse, somewhat between a curse and a prayer. He drags his hands down Taeyong’s sides, outlining his naked body as Taeyong’s hips buck up, searching for friction. 

The look in Johnny’s eyes as he watches Taeyong writhe under him, along with his hands touching everything but exactly where he wants, has Taeyong reduced to a whimpering mess, tears coming up in his eyes at the lack of contact. 

Taeyong’s hands scratch back down Johnny’s back, as Johnny captures his lips in another kiss, his tongue licking into his mouth, licking the backs of Taeyong’s teeth. Taeyong’s hands catch on the band of Johnny’s sweatpants, and he runs a hand under them, pushing them until Johnny gets the idea and kicks off his sweatpants and underwear together, finally naked in front of Taeyong. 

And, oh, does Taeyong’s mouth go dry as he sees how big Johnny is, imaging the stretch already, letting loose a noise close to a whimper as he takes in the look of Johnny’s cock, flushed and curving up onto his stomach. 

Taeyong wraps his legs around Johnny’s hips, savoring the feeling of skin on skin, moaning when their dicks meet, finally getting the friction he wants. 

“Johnny, I want you so fucking bad. I need you,” Taeyong whispers onto his skin between kisses, his fingers clawing at Johnny’s back, likely leaving marks that will be there when they wake up tomorrow.

Johnny takes Taeyong’s hand and presses his dick into it, groaning into Taeyong’s ear, “I want you too, baby, so fucking bad it hurts.”

Johnny pauses and Taeyong can practically hear the ‘but’ coming, a groan of protest already leaving his lips as Johnny rocks into his hand again. 

“But I’m not going to fuck you when you’re drunk off your mind, baby. I’m not letting the first time I fuck you be when you won’t even remember it the next day,” Johnny says between pants. 

Taeyong feels Johnny shift again, taking his wrists and pressing them above his head, pinning him down on the mattress. 

Johnny leans forward, leaving open mouthed kisses on Taeyong’s neck, his teeth pulling at the skin, leaving bruises.

 “And when I do fuck you,” Johnny groans, grinding their dicks together harder than before, pulling a scream of pleasure from Taeyong’s lips, pulling back and grabbing his chin roughly, forcing him to look into his eyes, “when I fuck you, Taeyong, I’m going to make you feel so good you never want to have anyone else inside of you. I'm going to make you mine."

“Johnny,” Taeyong whispers, unshed tears filling his eyes at how badly he needs him, “p-please.”

“Okay, baby. I’ll make you feel good,” Johnny whispers back, kissing down his body before settling between his thighs, pushing them apart slowly to make room for his body. 

“What do you want, Taeyong? You have to tell me what you want.”

Taeyong whines, raising his hips up angrily as he looks for friction,  a tear slipping down his cheek, “You promised, Johnny. Please. You said you would touch me.”

“With words, kitten, tell me what you want,” Johnny whispers, his lips just inches from where Taeyong wants them, his hands resting so high on his thighs he starts to shake with need. 

“I need you,” Taeyong whispers, another tear making its pitiful way down his cheek as he begs to be touched. 

Johnny pulls back, raising up on his forearms to look at Taeyong with a look that screams use your words.

Taeyong blushes even more furiously, closing his eyes as his head goes back onto the pillow, throwing his shame and ego out of the window, “I want your mouth on my dick, god I want you so bad. Your mouth, your hands, anything. Just fucking touch me, please.” 

Taeyong can feel Johnny smile against the skin of his thighs, before wrapping a calloused hand around Taeyong’s length, making him thrust into it, slowly taking the head of Taeyong’s cock into his mouth, the velvety heat sheathing his dick as he lets out a breathy moan. 

Johnny’s pace is cruel, his hands and mouth working Taeyong’s dick, knowing he’s not going to last long after being strung along for so long, untouched. 

"Fuck, Johnny," Taeyong whines, his hands coming up to pull on the ends of Johnny's hair. 

Taeyong rides out the pleasure for a few more minutes, chanting Johnny's name as he takes his dick all the way down his throat as he bottoms out, the new feeling causing his whole body to tremble as he nears his climax. 

Then suddenly, with no warning, Taeyong feels his entire body combust in flame, the strongest orgasm he’s ever had ripping out of his body as he screams Johnny’s name, loud enough for the whole hotel to hear him. 

But he doesn’t care, doesn’t care, doesn’t care. 

Because it's Johnny that has his mouth on his dick, and Johnny who's making him feel like he is being worshipped. 

Johnny strokes him through his orgasm, popping off of his dick with an obscene noise, swallowing all of Taeyong’s cum. 

Taeyong feels his eyes fluttering shut, his bones turning to jelly as he sinks back into the mattress, feeling more sated than he’s ever been. 

Johnny reaches up, wiping the tears off of Taeyong’s cheeks, whispering, "you did so well, baby, you were perfect. My beautiful kitten."

Taeyong smiles, blushing at the praise, pulling at the back of Johnny's neck until he leans forward, capturing his lips in a soft kiss, slower, lazy.

Johnny drops a sweet kiss on Taeyong's forehead before sitting up, taking his weight off of Taeyong as he gets off of the bed. 

“Wait,” Taeyong says, gesturing awkwardly at Johnny’s still angrily hard dick resting at his stomach, “Let me --  I wanna. Let me make you feel good too,” he says up to Johnny, who leans forward to press a soft kiss on his lips and push his shoulders back down, pulling the covers up around Taeyong. 

“I know you do, baby, but you need to sleep. I can take care of it, I promise,” He says with a laugh, pressing one more kiss to Taeyong’s lips as he feels his body give in to sleep. 

“Goodnight, my love,” Johnny whispers, stroking a finger along his cheek, but Taeyong is already asleep. 



Chapter Text

☽☽☽☽☽☽ JOHNNY ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Johnny wakes up to the sound of his phone buzzing on the bedside table, the sudden noise from the vibration against wood causing him to jolt awake. He cracks open an eye to see soft light filtering into the room through the wall of glass, and shuts his eyes again, rubbing them. He stretches, his stiff bones cracking as he sits up in bed, a small groan slipping from his mouth at the feeling. At his movement, the other side of the bed shifts, eliciting a soft whimper of protest from the boy sleeping beside him, reminding Johnny of where he is. 

 

Johnny’s eyes flutter open, his gaze immediately drawn down to Taeyong’s naked form beside him, his body curled into the pool of white bed sheets — bed sheets that dip dangerously low on his back, revealing a stretch of pale skin, glowing orange under the soft morning light of the sunrise, peppered with small purple bruises where love bites from last night are blooming. Johnny’s hand reaches out to trace lovingly over his spine, his fingertips dancing lightly over Taeyong’s fair skin. 

 

He leans forward, pressing a soft kiss onto  Taeyong’s shoulder, his lips lingering for a second against the warmth of Taeyong’s bare skin, a hand resting at the base of Taeyong’s spine, his fingertips dipping below the edge of the covers. Johnny presses another small peck to his skin and leans back, watching as Taeyong’s sleeping form turns into the touch slightly, his lips curling up into a soft smile even as he remains asleep. 

 

Taeyong looks peaceful like this, his expression soft with his lips slightly parted, steady breaths falling from his mouth as his chest rises and falls slowly. Johnny feels an overwhelming wave of emotion in his chest at seeing Taeyong sprawled naked in his bed, his heart feeling incredibly warm, his chest tight with feelings he hasn’t let himself feel in forever.

 

In all of the times he imagined being with Taeyong, he never thought it would actually happen, because Taeyong is Taeyong, and Johnny’s just, well, Johnny. Johnny’s hand makes another sweeping path down his back, his mind flashing to a memory from last night, the way Taeyong had arched desperately into his hands, his eyes huge and pleading as he looked at Johnny with unshed tears and begged for his touch.

 

He thinks about how beautiful Taeyong looked under Johnny’s hands, his pale skin looking like a stretch of moonlight, his taut muscles moving under Johnny’s grip. He thinks about how much Taeyong had trusted him, given his body up for Johnny to do what he wanted. How he had let Johnny see a side of him, unrestricted and wildly beautiful, a side that he had never shown before. How bruises had blossomed under Johnny’s lips, standing out against the pale skin on his neck, his chest, his thighs, anywhere Johnny could get his lips, hungry for the taste of Taeyong on his tongue.

 

Johnny feels his heart start to beat faster as his dick twitches in interest. He swallows hard, his mouth dry as he desperately wills the picture of Taeyong naked, flushed, and writhing under him away, before he has to turn the shower on and finish what he’s slowly working himself up to. 

 

He laughs softly under his breath at the effect Taeyong has on him — how he’s able to reduce Johnny to a needy, worked-up mess just from a fleeting memory alone. Johnny doesn’t dare let himself think about actually fucking Taeyong, about the promise he had made last night in the heat of the moment and plans on fulfilling. He has to push the idea out of his head before he reaches over and wakes the sleeping boy up with the thought to finish what they started last night, now that Taeyong has had a chance to sober up. 

 

But Johnny doesn’t, because fucking Taeyong for the first time is something he’s going to need a lot more than just the limited time they have before they have to get on the road for the day. 

 

He saves the thought for another time, slowly easing off the bed, trying not to make any sudden movements that would wake up the boy next to him, letting him sleep for as long as possible. Taeyong was going to be feeling the alcohol this morning, if his four glasses of wine from the night before had anything to say about it, and the last thing Johnny wanted to deal with was a hungover and tired Taeyong for the rest of the day. 

 

Not that any Taeyong would be one Johnny wouldn’t want to spend time with, Johnny’s so fucking enamored with every little thing about him he could probably get away with anything he wanted — even being a grumpy little shit for the whole drive. If it was Taeyong, he’d probably let it slide. 

 

Johnny wonders if Taeyong had met him at a different stage of his life, at a different time, or even just on a different day, if things would be different. If Taeyong had met him when he was still himself. It had been so long since he had met someone that made him feel like himself, but Taeyong, of course, didn’t know that at the time. All he knew was that Johnny was a smart ass who loved to get a rise out of Taeyong. Because, well, Johnny has always loved getting a rise out of Taeyong. But Johnny wishes he could take back, now, how he had first treated Taeyong. How cold he had been, how standoffish. How dismissive. How mean. It wasn’t him and he can never take back his first impression, only work to prove to Taeyong he wasn’t really that person he had met that first day.

 

But, Johnny doesn’t regret what came after. Not when he got to know Taeyong through even just the smallest interactions, how he slowly started to feel more and more himself when Taeyong would blush and tell him, “fuck off, idiot” when he said something that made the boy squirm, or made him mad. It wasn’t that Johnny enjoyed being a smart ass, he was actually pretty reserved with most people, it was just that Taeyong was adorable when he was mad, his cheeks turning red and his brow furrowing, looking like he was a second from stomping his feet on the ground, his small hands clenched in fists by his sides.  

 

Because even if Taeyong was mad at him, or frustrated, at least he was talking to Johnny. At least he was giving him his time, his attention, making him feel something for the first time in years. Johnny needed him, he realizes now. Taeyong came out of nowhere, in a time when Johnny had hated pretty much the whole world and he was exactly what Johnny would never admit he needed. And if he needed him then, he definitely needs him now. 

 

So, even though so much has changed over the last week, Johnny will always be glad they still have that — the playful banter and tension that made him fall for Taeyong in the first place, made him feel like himself again. 

 

Johnny smiles softly at the thought, about just how wrapped around Taeyong’s finger he is, about how he would do anything, how he would give anything to call Taeyong his. 

 

His. Not anyone else’s. 

 

Johnny stretches again, raising heavy arms above his head as his spine straightens out with a ripple of satisfying cracks, his smile only growing at the thought of actually being with Taeyong. At how light his heart feels at the thought. About just how close he feels he’s gotten to finally knowing every little piece of Taeyong’s heart like he never let himself dream of, in just a few short days. 

 

His phone buzzes again on the table and Johnny rolls his eyes as the noise brings him out of his head, figuring it’s probably the wedding party group chat blowing up, once again, with some new wedding crisis that Johnny can’t help with. He puts the phone in the pocket of his low slung sweatpants that he had half-hazardly thrown on the night before, before when he went to sleep. He tip-toes around the bed, making sure his steps are as soft as possible as he makes his way to the bathroom to get ready for the day, glancing back one last time to make sure Taeyong was still sleeping soundly. 

 

As soon as he sees that Taeyong’s still asleep, his lips pushed into a small pout as a tiny snore ripples through his body, Johnny smiles, opening up the door to the bathroom quietly and stepping in.

 

The second Johnny’s feet hit the cold tile a shiver runs up his spine. He pads over to the sink, splashing some cold water on his face as he tries to wake up. He looks up at his reflection, only to see a big grin pulling at his lips, his expression so endeared that he laughs. 

 

He looks ridiculous, with that big goofy grin on his face at like seven in the morning. But, then again, he feels so ridiculously good. Feels like he’s falling in love.  

 

He straightens up, putting toothpaste on his toothbrush and shoving it into his mouth quickly, wanting desperately to be done so he can get back to bed and cuddle with Taeyong until he wakes up, savoring every minute of the beautiful boy’s attention. To tell him how much last night meant to him, tell Taeyong how much he means to him. 

 

Right as Johnny moves to turn the sink faucet on and spit, toothbrush still in his mouth, he feels his phone buzz in his pocket. He rolls his eyes, cursing under his breath about who could possibly be texting the group chat that much. 

 

He ignores it, spitting into the sink, but it buzzes again. At the second buzz, he groans, a “fucking hell” spilling from his mouth as he pulls out his phone, rolling his eyes and turning it on to see a rush of notifications pop up. However, his brows furrow when he sees it’s not the wedding group chat, but Donghyuck that’s blowing him up. 

 

His stomach starts to drop when he sees another notification showing ten missed calls, also from Donghyuck. Hyuck would never call more than once, he knows that Johnny always will call him back. Johnny starts to feel uneasy as he clicks into the messages app, but nothing, nothing, could prepare him for the pain he feels when he opens up their conversation.  

 

His chest starts to tighten as he reads the first words from his brother, a lump forming in his throat.  

 

From: Hyuckie 🐻 

9:00 pm: No response??? U always respond :(

9:01 pm: How did Taeyong take it? I know it must’ve been hard to talk about 

 

Johnny’s mind flicks back to yesterday as Donghyuck’s words register, vaguely remembering his brother texting him when he and Yong were stopped on the side of the road taking polaroids. 

 

Are you going to tell Taeyong? Hyuck had asked. 

 

Johnny had ignored the messages, of course, too lost in Taeyong to even realize what he was talking about. 

 

The meaning isn't lost on him now, however, and the words make his heart start to clench as he continues reading. 

 

9:02 pm: txt me back when u see this please so I know you’re ok

12:06 am: Please let me know you’re okay Johnny, starting to worry

12:07 am: Johnny, look. I know today is not going to be fun but at least let me know you’re safe? 

12:45 am: Johnny you know how it feels to not have a loved one respond. I’m worried about you. Let me know you and Taeyong are ok. 

7:08 am: I shouldn’t have said that last night, I’m sorry :( I was stressed with wedding shit and took it out on you but I promise I didn’t mean it. I know this is completely different. 

7:08 am: Pls respond just so I know you’re okay. I didn’t mean to make you mad :(((((

7:10 am: I’m thinking of him today like always, I know you are too 💗 

7:10 am: I think he’d love to see you so happy

7:10 am: I love you so much, you are SO strong. I’m glad you have Taeyong to lean on today

 

No, no, no, Johnny thinks, his hands starting to shake, pleading for Hyuck’s words to not be true. 

 

Surely Johnny didn’t forget. 

 

Johnny feels panic rise in his chest as he reads the texts over again, the words starting to blur as he reads them over, and over, and over, their meaning settling on his chest like a heavy stone. 

 

I’m thinking of him today like always. 

 

I know you are too. 

 

He’d love to see you so happy. 

 

Surely Johnny hadn’t been in bed with someone last night, surely he hadn’t woken up in a great mood, feeling happier than he’s felt in years . Surely, today can’t be that day. 

 

Johnny feels the first tear slip down his cheek as he opens up the calendar app, his eyes flicking to the date, and sure enough... 

 

June 11th.

 

The toothbrush falls from his hand, the plastic clattering against the sink, the sound echoing against the tiled floor as a wave of pain hits him, his chest feeling too tight, only shallow breaths falling from his lips as he feels a wave of panic rise. 

 

He forgot.  

 

A silent sob rips from his body, his limbs starting to shake as he collapses to the ground, phone falling from his hand as sobs start to take over his body, tears streaming down his cheeks as he gasps for breath. 

 

He forgot. 

 

Johnny leans forward, curling his body into a ball, his arms shaking violently as he pulls his legs to his chest. Tears are starting to pool in his collarbones, his sobs becoming even harder as he chokes for air.

 

It was June eleventh, and he woke up, in a fucking good mood, not dreading the day at all, with a boy in his bed. 

 

A boy he thought he was falling in love with. 

 

Fuck. 

 

Johnny doesn’t know how much time passes, sitting on the cold tile floor of the bathroom as he sobs, his body shaking as he falls apart, alone. 

 

Alone.

 

Johnny presses a shaking hand to his heart, feeling the uneven beat coursing under his fingertips. He had been left to face this miserable world, left to this miserable life, alone. 

 

Johnny wipes his face harshly, his palms digging into his eyes as if he could will away the tears still streaming down his face. He pulls his body up off the ground on shaky legs, picking up his phone and letting loose a soft curse under his breath as he opens the door back up, the handle slippery in his tear-slicked grasp. 

 

He needs to get out. 

 

His eyes are immediately drawn back to the boy sleeping soundly in his bed, his form now slightly blurred through the haze of Johnny’s tears. The boy he had almost made love to last night. The boy he was convinced he was falling in love with. 

 

Johnny stands at the door, his whole body itching to crawl back into bed, sob into Taeyong’s warm embrace, shake in his arms as tears pour down his face, accept the comfort he knows Taeyong would give him.

 

Except, Taeyong…. Taeyong doesn’t deserve that. Taeyong doesn’t want that. No, Taeyong probably wouldn’t even want him, not if he knew everything. Not if he knew why Johnny’s heart was so guarded. Because Taeyong doesn’t want the broken boy who can’t get over something that happened six years ago, and definitely doesn’t want to put back together the shattered pieces of a heart that would never be fully his. Just like Seulgi didn’t want to.

 

Johnny feels guilt crawl up his spine, his stomach turning with nausea. Last night shouldn’t have happened. He shouldn’t have let someone so close, not when he promised himself he wouldn’t do that again. 

 

But Johnny was breaking all of his promises, apparently. Because Johnny had broken the promise he made to himself, made to his boy, his beautiful red haired boy, six years ago. 

 

He had forgotten, and he will never forgive himself for that. 

 

He watches Taeyong stir, a small smile still lingering on the boy’s lips, the look of warmth and happiness written across his expression. 

 

Make it stop.

 

Please, make it stop. 

 

Johnny has to get out. 

 

He can’t be here when Taeyong wakes up, can’t face the look of regret when he remembers the night before. Can’t stand to see his face when he asks Johnny what’s wrong, why he’s crying. Definitely can’t bear when he does something that makes Johnny fall even deeper in love with him. Can’t do that to Taeyong, and certainly can’t do that to himself. 

 

Johnny pulls out his phone, typing a short response to his brother before grabbing his keys off of the table and walking out, walking away from Taeyong, walking away, before he hurts them both more than he already has. 

 

To: Hyuckie 🐻

7:22 am: I’m fine. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾



Taeyong wakes up naturally as the sun finishes rising, the feeling of soft cotton engulfing him, sheets tangled loosely between his legs and across his hips. A whisper of a breeze filters from the air conditioner, cold air blowing against his bare skin, causing goosebumps to rise on his flesh. Taeyong shivers, snuggling deeper into the warm sheets as he turns his face into his pillow, eyes still pressed shut.

He inhales, the smell of citrus and pine permeating the air, the smell of Johnny all around him. The smell of his shampoo heavy in Taeyong’s hair, the taste of him on his tongue, the memory of his hands and his lips and whispers of praise still lingering on his skin. 

 

Taeyong feels a smile pulling at the corners of his lips at the thought, then a light blush blooming on the tops of his cheeks as the rest of the memories from last night flood into his head, some parts slightly hazy from the alcohol that was burning through his system, but clear enough that he remembers what happened, remembers how Johnny was so careful with him, how good he had made him feel, how Taeyong has never wanted anyone more. 

 

He turns back over and stretches, his bones cracking as he sprawls across the sheets, his legs stretching out from where he was curled into a ball as he slept.

 

Taeyong yawns, the lazy mumble of, “G’morning, baby,” falling from his lips as he throws an arm to the other side of the bed to pull Johnny closer, searching for the warmth he knows Johnny constantly generates. 

 

Only, his hand comes up empty, simply grasping at the sheets where Johnny’s body should be. 

 

Taeyong moves his hand around the other side of the bed, but finds no purchase. He frowns, his eyes flying open and blinking rapidly at the light coming in from the windows. 

 

He turns onto his back and sits up in bed, the white sheets pooling lazily at his hips as he realizes he’s still naked. He looks down at his lap and notices a light shade of purple peeking out from under the covers, the rich color from the bruises Johnny had sucked onto the skin of his hips last night. Taeyong distractedly traces a finger over the shape of the darkest bruise, placed right above his right hip bone almost absentmindedly, before remembering why he had sat up, and looking up to glance around the room, only to find it empty. No Johnny in sight.

 

Taeyong frowns at the empty room, placing a hand out on the other side of the mattress to feel that Johnny’s side was still slightly warm, meaning Johnny had just recently gotten up, too. 

 

But where is Johnny? 

 

Taeyong’s frown deepens at the thought, an uneasy feeling settling in his stomach as he slips out of the sheets and off of the bed, sliding on a simple pair of black joggers, so he’s not walking around completely naked. 

 

Taeyong works his bottom lip into his mouth nervously, looking around the room to make sure he wasn’t missing Johnny just sitting on a chair or the sofa, or out on the balcony, or somewhere that meant he didn’t just get up and leave.

 

Taeyong pads across the suite, a small sigh of relief coming from his lips when he sees the bathroom light is turned on, the yellow glow filtering out from the crack between the door and the floorboards. 

 

Oh. 

 

Johnny was just in the bathroom. 

 

Taeyong laughs slightly under his breath, his friends had always told him he was too dramatic for his own good. Of course he had thought Johnny was gone when he was just in the bathroom. 

 

He walks to the door, raising a hand to knock. 

 

“Johnny! I thought you left, asshole,” Taeyong laughs, knocking lightly against the wood as he raises his voice to talk through the door. “I know, I know, my drama queen antics struck again, or whatever.”

 

Taeyong laughs a little longer, the sound sizzling out when he realizes there was no response. He pauses, expecting for Johnny to at least laugh, or make some noise of acknowledgement that Taeyong had spoken. 

 

But Taeyong is simply met with silence, the lack of Johnny’s voice hanging heavy in the air like a thick fog. 

 

He tries again, his voice more tentative, “Johnny?” he calls. “You okay in there?

 

He presses a hand against the door, feeling his heart start to drop out of his body when he realizes he still hears no response. 

 

“Johnny?” Taeyong asks again, his voice coming out as a near whisper, leaning his forehead against the door. 

 

Silence. 

 

Taeyong takes a deep breath, slowly turning the knob of the bathroom, praying Johnny is just wearing headphones or something, and that Johnny isn’t just gone. But, when he opens the door, he finds nothing. 

 

Nothing. Absolutely empty. 

 

His heart sinks, dread and regret filling his chest as it tightens with emotion. 

 

Taeyong turns, about to leave the room, defeated, when he notices something small and plastic, scattered on the floor by his feet. He leans closer, realizing what it is as he bends over to pick it up. 

 

Johnny’s toothbrush? 

 

Taeyong turns it in his hands, the small white toothbrush still wet, wondering why Johnny had left it on the floor. Wondering what the fuck was going on . He puts it back on the counter, walking out of the bathroom, even more confused. 

 

Taeyong takes a deep breath as he steps back into the bedroom, willing himself to calm down, sure that Johnny had a good reason to leave. 

 

Maybe he texted? Taeyong thinks, walking back over to check his phone, hoping to see Johnny’s name in his notifications, Lanky Schmidt staring back at him from Johnny’s contact. 

 

Instead, he sees a text from a coworker and a few texts from Donghyuck. He sighs, not even bothering to open them, knowing it’s probably something about his best man duties or some problem with the wedding venue, so he turns his phone off as he sits back down on the bed. 

 

As he sits back down on their bed. His and Johnny’s bed.

 

He draws his knees up into his chest, resting his chin on his knee as he wraps his arms around his legs. 

 

No text, no note, no Johnny. 

 

Maybe he forgot? Taeyong thinks, pulling his thumb into his mouth to chew nervously on his fingernail, only to remember he’s trying to break that habit and yank the finger out of his mouth, turning his phone back on to busy his hands with something

 

Taeyong opens up his chat with Johnny, his fingers hovering over the keys as he thinks of what to say. 

 

As he thinks of all of the things he wants to say. 

 

Where are you? 

 

Did I do something wrong? 

 

Do you regret last night? 

 

Do you like me like I like you?

 

Taeyong sighs, hoping that he really is overreacting, and Johnny is just out getting them breakfast or something. But, something deep in his stomach tells him he isn’t.

 

But, Johnny wouldn’t do that would he? Wouldn’t hook up with Taeyong and then just go back to being cold and mean like he used to be? Surely not, not when he’s been so different this week. Not when Taeyong is starting to fall for him. Not when they had almost had sex last night, not when Johnny had called him baby and told him he wanted him, too. 

 

So fucking bad it hurts, Johnny had said. 

 

If only he wanted Taeyong like Taeyong wanted him.

 

Taeyong’s fingers hover uselessly over the keys, going for something light. Something that makes it sound like he’s fine, and not falling apart. Not overthinking every single thing he’s ever said to the boy, and definitely not wanting to cry because he thinks Johnny might still hate him.



To: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

7:42 am: Where’d you go? 🥺 I woke up all alone :(((  missed u this morning 💗




Taeyong lets loose a shaky breath and hits send, putting the phone down on the blanket in front of him as he waits for Johnny to respond. 

 

Taeyong’s heart starts to pound as he watches it send, nervous for Johnny to respond. More nervous that he won’t. He stays still on the bed, not daring to make a noise lest he miss a notification, just staring at the open message chain for a few minutes, desperately hoping to see the little typing bubble pop up. Each minute that passes causes his heart to sink just a little bit more as he just stares at the screen. 

 

Five minutes pass. 

 

Then ten. 

 

Fifteen. 

 

Twenty minutes, no response from Johnny. Not even a “read” at the bottom of the text. 

 

After 25 minutes, Taeyong feels his chest tighten, tears welling in his eyes and threatening to spill out as he wishes things could just be easy for once. 

 

He stands up, leaving his phone open on the bed, running a tired hand through his hair, his head pained from the hangover mixed with disappointment, his heart heavy as he walks away from the bed. 

 

He had been stupid, really, to think that last night had meant something to Johnny like it did to him. Had been stupid to think that maybe his feelings weren’t unrequited. That finally, someone would like him back. 

 

But, no matter how stupid he feels, or how much he doesn’t want to have to face the rest of the day, he still has to get to California, for Mark. He could do it, for Mark. He had to, his baby brother’s counting on him, after all. 

 

So, Taeyong resigns himself to getting ready. He can finish the drive, it’s just for just a few more days, even if it’s painful. 

 

Because, he reminds himself, he can be strong for Mark. He has to be. 

 

Taeyong goes through the motions of getting ready for the day with a blank expression on his face. He brushes his hair, washes his face, brushes his teeth, throws on a turtleneck that will cover the evidence of last night even though it’s hot outside and he’s going to feel like he’s suffocating in that much fabric. He wills away the memory of last night before it hurts even more, the feeling of Johnny’s lips sucking bruises into his collarbones haunting him, now that he realizes it didn’t mean anything. 

 

Right when he is about to start packing, he hears a ping from the bed and rushes over, his heart picking up pace as he sees it’s something from Johnny. 

 

Only for it to sink when he reads it.



From: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

8:31 am: Needed air.



Taeyong feels his throat start to get tight as tears well in his eyes. 

 

Two words. That’s all he got?

 

Just “Needed air.”

 

Needed air? Was Taeyong’s presence that suffocating? Was it that hard to be around him? Had waking up next to him been that upsetting for Johnny?

 

How did everything go so fucking wrong? Taeyong thinks as he sinks to the floor, phone forgotten on the bed. 

 

Had Johnny been disappointed with him last night? Was that what it was? Was hooking up bad for Johnny? Not everything he had hoped for? Did he want to have sex and was mad that Taeyong had gotten too drunk?

 

Taeyong moves, pulling his knees to his chest, self-doubting thoughts running rampant in his mind, drowning in the negativity of his inner demons as his hands start to shake. 

 

Taeyong’s mind is drawn back to the night before, how he had begged Johnny to fuck him even though he was drunk off his mind, how he had cried because Johnny wasn’t touching him, how he had made a fool of himself, how easily he had come apart in Johnny’s mouth. 

 

Johnny had probably been embarrassed this morning, to wake up next to him. Probably didn’t want to face him, didn’t want to have to tell him that he didn’t want him any more. Taeyong probably just wasn’t enough .

 

Taeyong feels tears well in his eyes at the thought, his mind drifting to the memory of the day Yuta broke up with him.



“How long?” Taeyong had asked, tears already pouring down his face.

 

“What did you say, baby?” Yuta asked, turning back to face Taeyong, false concern written across his face. 

 

Yuta probably thought that this was just another one of their fights. Just another time Taeyong was crying about nothing, another fight about something small, another time he could manipulate Taeyong into believing he was the one in the wrong. Another time he could put on his beautiful smile and make Taeyong feel like nothing was wrong. 

 

But, Taeyong could be strong, he reminded himself, he can stand up for himself. 

 

“I said, how long?” Taeyong said through gritted teeth, willing himself to stop crying. “How long have you been fucking cheating on me, Yuta?”

 

“T, I don’t know what you’re talking about. You know I wouldn’t do that to you, baby,” Yuta had said, his voice soft, reassuring, gentle like a tender caress. And, oh, how badly Taeyong wanted to believe him. 

 

Because Yuta was smiling at him. He was smiling at Taeyong with the same beautiful, bright, happy-go-lucky smile that he had fallen in love with in the first place, and it tasted like cigarette ash in his mouth, because it was a lie. 

 

Because Taeyong had let that smile get away with too much, had been too blinded by the beautiful boy he fell in love with at the restaurant he was working at, the boy with bright orange hair had flirted with Taeyong until he finally gave him his number, had made him feel like the most special, most beautiful, most loved boy in the world even though he was just a waiter with crushed dreams. 

 

Taeyong had let that smile get away with too much, and he had become tired.

 

And so, Yuta just smiled at him, his eyes soft and open, as if he couldn’t believe Taeyong would accuse him of doing something like that. Not to Taeyong, not to them.

 

But, Yuta didn’t know what Taeyong had walked into the other day, didn’t know what Taeyong knew. Didn’t know that Taeyong had walked into their apartment to surprise Yuta with his favorite flavor cupcakes that Taeyong had picked up from the bakery because he got off work early and wanted to surprise his boyfriend, because they hadn’t been communicating well in a while. Didn’t know he had stepped a foot inside the door only to see Yuta fucking someone on the sofa they had bought together just a week before. The sofa Taeyong was so fucking excited about, because it matched the shade of pink in the pillows Mark had given him for his birthday. 

 

“I do know, Yuta, I know you’re lying to me. I’m so tired of you lying to me,” Taeyong whispered. “Just tell me the truth, for once,” Taeyong ground out, his vision blurring from how much he was crying. 

 

He had thought that he loved Yuta, had really thought he could be the one. When Yuta first brought him his favorite flowers on their one month anniversary, Taeyong had texted Mark that he was in love, that it felt real, it felt good. That this time he really thought it was going to work out. 

 

But they never think that about Taeyong, do they?

 

He saw the moment it happened, the shift in Yuta when he realized Taeyong wasn’t kidding. The subtle change, where his smile dropped from his face and his eyes losing their emotion, cold and hard as his face hardens. This was the side of Yuta that Taeyong had been convincing himself didn’t exist.  

 

“You want the truth, Taeyong? I’m in love with him, okay? I love him. I met him in February at that club we used to go to all the time and we hit it off,” Yuta says, his hand clenched over Taeyong’s wrist, painfully tight. “I love him,” Yuta repeated, each word punctuated as if the first time he said it hadn’t registered in Taeyong’s mind. 

 

“February was two months ago,” Taeyong whimpered, his voice cracking, “You’ve been cheating on me for over two months? I can’t fucking believe you.”

 

Yuta had scoffed, releasing Taeyong’s wrist as he turned away, clearly done with the conversation. Done with Taeyong.  

 

But, Taeyong needed to know. He needed to know why. 

 

“Yu, wait,” Taeyong had pleaded, taking a step forward, “Why? I need to know why.” The word came out as a broken whimper. 

 

“Why? God, why do you think, Yong? You never fucking want to do anything with me, do you? When’s the last time we went on a date that you planned? You just want to sit in bed and watch cartoons, and act like a child, and fine, maybe it was cute at first, but it’s constant. It’s draining, Taeyong. Am I supposed to go to all of my soccer games alone when all of my teammates’ partners are there, because you’re too busy spending all your free time fucking coloring on your shoes and playing computer games like you’re not twenty four years old? Should I have to keep telling my friends that you’re busy every single time they tell me to bring my boyfriend somewhere? Time after time I cover for you, always, Taeyong, even when they know you hate them. Should I have to keep acting like our sex isn’t terrible? I mean shit, Yong, do I need to keep going? It’s not working anymore. I fucking tried to make it work,” Yuta sighed, running a hand through his hair, “You’re just... not Sicheng.”

 

“I can do better, baby, I didn’t know. I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I know I can do better, I can be better for you, for us,” Taeyong had sobbed, feeling guilty for not being a good boyfriend, feeling mad that Yuta never told me he hated all of those things, feeling even more mad at himself for feeling guilty when Yuta was the one who had been cheating on him for months. 

 

“It’s not enough, Taeyong. I’m in love with Sicheng now,” Yuta had said, the meaning clear behind his words.

 

Taeyong wasn’t enough. He was never enough, not for Yuta, not for Taeil, not for anyone. 

 

Will he ever be enough?

 

Will Taeyong ever be enough?

 

He swallows hard, his hands shaking as he repacks his things into his suitcase, holding back  tears. 

 

Why did he think Johnny would be different? Why did he think Johnny had changed, that he wasn’t the guy he had been when they first met? Why did Taeyong want to believe that so fucking badly? 

 

Taeyong packs up his last few things, zipping up the suitcase when he hears his phone ping again. 

 

He sighs, standing up and walking over, opening back up his texts with Johnny to see a new message. 

 

From: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

 

8:59 am: Coming back up to pack my things and we are leaving in five. 

 

Taeyong sighs, not even bothering to respond, the cold tone in Johnny’s messages making his stomach turn even more. 

 

He deserved it, probably, so why did it have to hurt so badly? 

 

Why did it have to be him?

 

Why was it always him? 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾



“Did you eat breakfast this morning?” Taeyong tries, his voice uncharacteristically shy. 

 

Taeyong had just about had enough of the tension, the need to break the thick silence in the car increasing with every passing moment. A few minutes after Johnny had texted him, he had come back into their room, silently packed his things, and walked back out, not even sparing Taeyong a glance, or a single word. 

 

And Taeyong had convinced himself that it was fine, at least for the first few minutes. Maybe Johnny needed a bit of silence, maybe he was having a bad day, maybe he didn’t sleep well, fine . But after twenty minutes, Taeyong just couldn’t do it anymore, so he spoke. 

 

He had tried because it was obvious Johnny wasn’t going to. Because, Johnny, the same Johnny who talks more than anyone Taeyong has ever met, who constantly makes jokes and laughs at everything, always with a smile, or a smirk, or some expression on his face, has been sitting in silence the entire drive, zero emotion in his eyes, his lips drawn into a thin line as he drives. 

 

Taeyong can feel the tension in the air, and the desire to ask what the fuck is going on is immense. 

 

So Taeyong speaks, his voice barely loud enough to be considered a normal speaking level, but sounding like he was screaming from how silent it had been. 

 

And Johnny simply responds, a long few seconds later: “No,” his tone carrying a sort of finality that was rare to hear in Johnny’s voice, like he was ending the conversation before it even started. 

 

Taeyong takes a shaky breath at the tone, feeling his hands start to curl into fists in his lap as he gets frustrated, his headache getting worse by the second.

 

He just wishes Johnny would fucking tell him what’s going on. Tell him what he had done so he could just fix it. So they could go back to the seemingly happy bubble they were in just the day before. 

 

But Johnny just sits there, staring straight ahead with dead eyes, not making a single sound. 

 

So, Taeyong tries again. “Where were you this morning?” he asks, his question trying to sound casual, but coming off accusatory, his frustration with Johnny seeping into his tone. 

 

Johnny doesn’t even flick his gaze in Taeyong’s direction, simply muttering, “Out,” under his breath, his tone cold. Annoyed, even. 

 

Taeyong lets out another frustrated sigh, pissed at Johnny’s short answers, annoyed that Johnny won’t look at him. 

 

Taeyong hates this. 

 

He hates that they had somehow gone back to how they started, with Johnny being cruel and acting like Taeyong was some sort of annoying kid he can push around. He misses his Johnny, the man he had been seeing all week, the man that stood up for him in the diner, and proposed to him to get him cake, and cuddled him to sleep when he was cold because he was worried about him getting sick. 

 

Where did that Johnny go? Where did his Johnny go?

 

Why did Taeyong have to ruin every good relationship he had? He just wishes he could go back to the night before, wishes he could take it all back. 

 

Because this Johnny? The Johnny in the car with him? This wasn’t the Johnny that Taeyong was falling in love with. 

 

Taeyong tries a different tactic, because clearly asking polite questions to try and break the ice wasn’t working. 

 

“Just ‘out’ ?” Taeyong mocks, trying his best to keep his tone light, teasing, “You’ve always had a way with your words, haven’t you John? I love a one word response, really makes me happy. You know what—”

 

Except Taeyong doesn’t get to finish his sentence, doesn’t get to finish the joke, because Johnny cuts him off, his tone cruel and unforgiving. 

 

“—My God, Taeyong. I’m really not in the mood for you to be acting like a child today, okay?”

 

Taeyong stops talking immediately, the joke stopping in his throat at the same time his smile falls from his face. His eyes flick down to where Johnny has the steering wheel in an impossibly tight grasp, his eyes unwavering from the empty roads in front of him. 

 

Taeyong swallows, feeling a lump in his throat as he starts to get upset. 

 

Acting like a child? Was that really how Johnny saw him? Was that what Johnny thought of him, that he was childish and silly, ridiculous for a man that was the same age as Johnny?

 

Taeyong clears his throat and speaks again, “Wow, Johnny. You are being so nice today I’ve really missed this side of you.” He says it mostly to himself, muttering sarcastically under his breath, but he still expects Johnny to react, to say something. But, of course, he’s met with silence.

 

Silence, punctuated with the frustrated air surrounding Johnny. 

 

Taeyong pulls his bottom lip into his mouth, working the skin between his teeth, another nervous habit he was trying to break, but doesn’t have the energy to stop himself. 

 

He feels his stomach growl, and runs a hand across it, begging for his body to be quiet before he makes Johnny mad again. 

 

It growls again a few moments later and he shuts his eyes, deep hunger paining him, making his body ache. He had spoken in the first place to ask Johnny if he had eaten breakfast in hopes he would suggest stopping somewhere himself, instead of making Taeyong ask him. 

 

Taeyong takes a deep breath, then asks, his voice as calm as possible, “Are we stopping for food any time soon?”

 

Silence. 

 

Taeyong can feel tears pricking at the back of his eyes from Johnny ignoring him, the frustration of not understanding why he can’t say or do the right thing to make Johnny stop being mad at him. 

 

He tries again, emphasizing each word, speaking calmly, “Are we going to stop for lunch later? I’m getting hungry.” 

 

Johnny’s hands clench on the steering wheel when Taeyong speaks again, but remains silent. 

 

At that, Taeyong breaks. 

 

“Johnny, can you at least answer my fucking question?” Taeyong grits out, his voice louder than before, his eyes starting to burn with incoming tears of frustration, sick and tired of Johnny acting like a teenager who doesn’t know how to communicate what they're feeling. 

 

At his tone, Johnny’s gaze finally snaps over to the passenger seat only to meet Taeyong’s eyes, levelling him with a cold stare, none of the warmth he associates with Johnny found in his brown eyes. Johnny flicks his eyes back to the road, deigning not to answer Taeyong, again.

 

“Johnny, please,” Taeyong repeats, his voice starting to crack as his eyes well with unshed tears, his tone broken, “I just want to fucking know if we are stopping to eat.”

 

Before Taeyong can finish, however, Johnny finally snaps, “Oh my fucking God, Taeyong. I don’t know if we’re gonna stop soon, okay? So please, for the love of God, just shut the fuck up and stop talking.” His tone is cruel, leaving no room for Taeyong to misinterpret his words. 

 

Message clear. Shut the fuck up. Got it. 

 

“Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Taeyong gets out, his voice a broken whisper, not even daring to look over at Johnny again, simply drawing his feet up onto the seat to curl into his body, his lips starting to quiver as his eyes rim with silver.  

 

Taeyong’s phone dings in his pocket, the ringer obnoxiously loud from that morning when he was waiting for a response from Johnny, and he rushes to pull it out and silence it, his eyes nervously flicking over to the driver’s seat to see if he had made Johnny mad again, but only finding the boy’s face hardened back into a cold glare. 

 

He looks for the notification that had popped up, seeing that Mark had emphasized his texts from last night as Taeyong hadn’t responded. 

 

From: Markie

9:45 pm: Yong, stop saying SOS for situations you know how to handle !!!!!

9:45 pm: okay…. you’re being ridiculous

9:46 pm: almost CRIED??? 

9:46 pm: Imagine if he actually touches you… what are you gonna do, throw up? 😂😂😂

9:47 pm:  Johnny’s SMART Yong, I think if you are being obvious, then yeah... he probably knows

9:47 pm: If you think Johnny is that hot, maybe you should just fuck him and figure out if you feel anything after that 😽

 

10:18 am: ????????

10:18 am: WELL?

 

Taeyong reads back over the words, memories of Johnny whispering the words before he kissed him for the first time popping back into his mind as he re-reads Mark’s texts from the night before. 

 

He lets loose a shaky sigh and types out his response, emotion clogging his chest as his eyes start to go blurry, typing out the words: 

 

To: Markie 

10: 25 am: sorry markie forgot to respond 

10:25 am: but you were right!!!!! hooked up with johnny & definitely like him

10:26 am: but ofc ! bc nothing ever goes right !!!! i woke up this morning alone & he’s been an asshole since! I don’t know what I did wrong :((((

10:27 am: I probably did smth wrong but just wish I knew what,,, u know :( 

 

Taeyong hits send, a sob wracking through him as his hands shake, dropping the phone into his backpack as a tear falls down his cheek, not even bothering to wipe it off even when Johnny turns to look at him from the noise.

 

“I want to ruin you,” Johnny had whispered last night, and he did, just not in the way Taeyong ever wanted. 

 

No, Taeyong didn’t want this at all.

 

☽☽☽ ☽☽☽ JOHNNY ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Being forced to sit in the car with Taeyong for the next few hours is the most exquisite form of torture , Johnny thinks, his hands gripped tightly onto the steering wheel to the point where his knuckles have gone white. 

 

Because Taeyong, his Taeyongie, is sitting by his side, right where he belongs, but his hands are shaking as he steals glances over at Johnny, and his eyes are red like he’d been crying, and he has a general look of disappointment written across his face at Johnny’s silence, and Johnny hates it. He hates that it’s his fault that Taeyong is clearly upset, and he hates that he knows he can’t fix it.

 

It’s not like Johnny wants to sit in silence, it’s slowly killing him to not give Taeyong the comfort he obviously needs. He wants so badly to talk to Taeyong, to explain, to apologize, to hold him, reassure him, and yet every time he opens his mouth, he feels like he’s going to cry, or make things even worse. And so he sits, eyes fixed on the road, silently suffering, his mind numb with pain. The pain of wanting something so badly, but knowing you don’t deserve it. Wanting to give someone your everything, but knowing it’s not enough. Knowing you can never give them all they want. The pain of moving on, the pain of letting go. The pain that comes with not knowing if you can let go, of what that means for him. For him and Taeyong. 

 

He had tried this morning, really, really tried to at least say something to Taeyong. He had gone and taken a walk and gotten the space he needed just to take the time to clear his head and think. And then he had gotten a text from Taeyong, and broken down again, on the side of the road, sobbing into the sweatshirt he had lent Taeyong a few days prior, the faint smell of Taeyong’s cologne clinging to the fabric like a distant memory. 

 

Because Taeyong, his beautiful, perfect Taeyong, had missed him this morning. And Johnny didn’t know how he was supposed to walk back in and break his own heart, telling Taeyong the truth. Admitting the truth, the whole truth, the words he had never said out loud, not to his therapist, not to his friends, not his parents or to Donghyuck. Not even to Seulgi, who was supposed to be his everything. Who he couldn’t give his everything.  

 

And all Johnny could think of was disappointing him, because Taeyong doesn’t know. His heart was slowly cracking at the knowledge that he could never be the man Taeyong wants him to be, because he can’t even be the man that he wants to be. And so he had gone back to the room with his head down and packed as quickly as he could, because it hurt too much to look at Taeyong, with his legs folded up as he curled into a ball on the bed, drowning in a turtle neck that Johnny knew he was wearing to cover up the marks from the night before. To cover up any traces of Johnny. 

 

And he had been doing fine, in the car, at the beginning. He had been keeping it together, holding everything in. Just barely keeping it together, the silence in the car acting as his last safety net, like a thin glass under him ready to shatter at any moment, the dam on his heart ready to shatter and drown him. 

 

And then Taeyong speaks.

 

“Did you eat breakfast this morning?” He hears, Taeyong’s voice from the other side of the car is so small that Johnny almost misses the question. 

 

Johnny swallows, his throat tight as he takes a deep breath, only able to produce a single syllable before he feels his eyes start to water and snaps his mouth shut. 

 

“No,” Johnny responds, his voice tired, drained, empty. He doesn’t recognize the person speaking because it’s not him, it’s cold, and Taeyong doesn’t deserve to be talked to like that. 

 

But Johnny wasn’t lying, he had felt far too nauseous to eat anything that morning, the mere thought of food making his stomach turn as he merges into the left lane, passing the car in front of him. 

 

He sees Taeyong shift in his seat out of the corner of his eye, and his heart aches, because Johnny wants to ask Taeyong if he ate, wants to know that he’s taking care of himself, wants to make sure that he’s happy and well-fed, but he can’t. He can’t ask Taeyong if he’s okay, because if he says no, then he’s not okay because of Johnny, and that would just about kill him. 

 

So Johnny sits in silence, his mind screaming at him as he hears Taeyong try again, his voice carrying a little more edge, “Where were you this morning?” 

 

Good, Johnny thinks, at the aggression laced in Taeyong’s words. Taeyong should be mad at him. Johnny deserves this, because it’s his fault. It’s all his fault. 

 

So Johnny waits a few more seconds, then rolls his neck, trying desperately to relieve some of the tension building in his head, in his body, and barely musters  an answer.

 

“Out.”

 

His words sound cold, even to himself, and he hates it. He hates how natural it feels, to slip back into that person he used to be. The man whose walls were always up, who had forgotten what it meant to be in love, who didn’t know how to be happy again. He just needs Taeyong to stop talking so he can process everything going on in peace without guilt and regret and confusion threatening to choke him every time he thinks about being in love.

 

And then Taeyong speaks, again, and Johnny can feel him trying, and it hurts.

 

“Just ‘out’?” Taeyong starts, his voice mocking, playful, his tone the very same one that Johnny fell in love with in the first place, and it hurts. It feels like a knife twisting in his heart because Taeyong is trying. He’s trying to make up for the atmosphere that Johnny simply can’t provide, and Johnny just wishes he would stop because all he feels is guilt, because he’s in love with Taeyong, and he hates himself for it. 

 

But Taeyong continues, “You’ve always had a way with your words, haven’t you John?”

 

He pauses, and Johnny’s hands subconsciously grip harder on the wheel, desperately trying to hold it in, the pressure building in his head as Taeyong’s voice fills his ears. 

 

But Taeyong just keeps going, his words a relentless stream now, and Johnny needs him to stop, needs him to stop before he really starts drowning. 

 

“I love a one word response, really makes me happy. You know what—” 

 

“—My God, Taeyong. I’m really not in the mood for you to be acting like a child today, okay?” Johnny snaps, the words coming from his mouth before he can take them back, the cruel tone spilling from his lips, and he can’t take it back. Johnny can’t take it back, because he saw the look on Taeyong’s face, and he heard his voice fall, his mouth snapping shut as the joke dies before he finishes telling it, and he knows that he’s already done enough, that he’s pushed Taeyong too far. 

 

Knows that he’s done too much. 

 

Taeyong clears his throat and speaks, his voice coming out low, broken, “Wow, Johnny. You are being so nice today. I’ve really missed this side of you.” 

 

The sound of his voice, broken and small, makes Johnny’s heart clench, because he’s hurting Taeyong. He knows he’s causing Taeyong pain and he can’t stop. 

 

“Are we stopping for food any time soon?” Taeyong asks and, to Johnny, the accusation is clear behind his words: You can’t provide for me, you can’t give me what I need. 

 

But Johnny doesn’t want to stop, doesn’t want to prolong the pain, just wants to drive to where they need to be, and stop, and go get a fucking drink and calm the fuck down. 

 

So he shakes his head slightly, just a small turn to the left and the right, but Taeyong misses it, so he tries again, “Are we going to stop for lunch later? I’m getting hungry.” 

 

But Johnny’s frozen in his seat. He can’t open his mouth, can’t acknowledge that he heard Taeyong’s question, can’t explain why he’s being like this, why he can’t be what Taeyong needs. Why Taeyong can’t like him, couldn’t possible like him, not if he knew. 

 

“Johnny, can you at least answer my fucking question?” Johnny can hear the pain in Taeyong’s voice, can feel the sadness coming off of the boy in waves, sadness because Johnny can’t do anything right. 

 

Please, stop talking. 

 

Just make it end. Make it quiet. I can’t breathe, Johnny thinks, squeezing his eyes shut as he struggles to breathe properly, pain and guilt slowly suffocating him, the car suddenly feeling too small, his feelings too big.

 

Why did it have to be today? 

 

“Johnny, please,” Taeyong repeats, his voice starting to crack as his eyes well with unshed tears. And Johnny can feel it, his heart breaking. Can feel small fissures forming in the tissue, slowly ripping apart as he watches Taeyong break down in front of him. Because of him. As he watches the one good thing in this world, the one thing he loves, the boy he loves more than anything in this world, shatter. Because of Johnny. His tone defeated, Taeyong whispers, “I just want to fucking know if we are stopping to eat.”

 

And Johnny decides that maybe it would’ve been better if Taeyong never stopped hating him in the first place, so he wouldn’t know what it felt like to be loved by the most bright, most intelligent, most beautiful man he’s ever known. Maybe if Taeyong hated him still, Johnny wouldn’t know how it felt to give his love up, to lose that love he never deserved in the first place, but always selfishly desired. But, it’s better this way, right? Back to Taeyong hating him? Because Johnny deserves that, deserves the pain, deserves the emptiness, the loss that’s so familiar. 

 

So Johnny breaks, because he can’t take it anymore. He can’t hear Taeyong’s voice without wanting to cry, and he needs to get them to the wedding, he needs to.

 

So he snaps, and watches as he breaks Taeyong’s heart, as he nails the final nail in the coffin of their blooming relationship. 

 

“Oh my fucking God, Taeyong. I don’t know if we’re gonna stop soon, okay? So please, for the love of God, just shut the fuck up and stop asking,” Johnny grits out, running a frustrated hand through his hair, his voice lacking warmth, lacking love, lacking all of the emotions he’s really feeling. 

 

“Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Taeyong whispers, and Johnny finally caves, his gaze snapping over to watch as Taeyong begins to break down. And he wishes he could take everything back, right then, because Taeyong looks so completely broken. 

 

But Johnny can’t look away, he’s frozen in his seat as he watches as Taeyong brings his knees up to the table as his body starts to tremble, his eyes rimmed with silver as he unlocks his phone and types, sending a few messages, his hands shaking as a breathy whimper of pain tumbles from his lips. 

 

He stares, frozen in fear as he watches a tear roll down Taeyong’s face as the boy shakes in his seat, his phone falling from his hands as his bottom lip trembles and his face falls, his eyes now blank. 

 

Johnny’s mind flies back to a tale his mother told him when he was younger, a tale of a boy who had fled an island on wings made solely of feathers and wax, who had been too enamored by the feeling of flying to heed his father’s warnings, who had flown too close to the sun as his feathers melted around him, launching him to the seas below. 

 

And Johnny had always thought the boy was greedy, to chase that beautiful feeling until it killed him, to be so confident he could beat the odds, could survive even though he knew he was on a dangerous path. But now, as Johnny sits, his heart in pieces on the floor because of his own mistakes, he thinks he understands. 

 

Because Johnny, too, had flown too close to the sun, and his wings had melted, and now, he was drowning.

 

He was drowning, and he didn’t know who was going to save him, because he had broken the one person who could pick him back up.

 

And now, as Johnny watches as Taeyong’s skin turns red and splotchy, tears streaming steadily down his cheeks as he trembles in the passenger seat, silent sobs ripping through his body, Johnny realizes what he did.

 

He drowned them both. 

 

☽☽☽ ☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong jolts awake to a hand on his shoulder and Johnny’s voice ringing through his subconscious. He opens his eyes to find that it’s now night, the moon high in the sky, street lights illuminating the dark parking lot they are stopped in. 

 

Taeyong realizes they must be at the hotel they are staying in for the night, his eyes flicking up to the building in front of them, neon sign reading “Hampton Inn.”

 

Johnny had stopped for lunch about an hour or two after Taeyong finally stopped crying, most likely because Taeyong’s stomach wouldn’t stop rumbling, and the noise was becoming obnoxious to hear in contrast to the absolute silence of the car. 

 

But after eating, the complete stop only ten or so minutes in duration, they just drove. 

 

And drove.

 

And drove some more, to the point where Taeyong had already taken two naps before he fell asleep for the third and final time, the background noise of light traffic and calming music streaming in through the car radio that he had turned on at about hour six to stay sane in the drowning silence, lulling him to sleep. 

 

So when Taeyong wakes up, some hours later in the parking lot of a hotel in Flagstaff Arizona, he’s disoriented as he sits up, groaning as he stretches out his legs for the first time in hours. 

 

His breath catches in his throat with a small gasp as he glances down at the clock in Johnny’s car and sees it’s almost eleven pm, realizing a few things all at once. 

 

First, Johnny’s been driving for upwards of eight? Nine? hours in a row, and he has to be exhausted, if the dark purple smudges under his eyes have anything to say about it. Second, this means that Taeyong has been asleep for at least three hours, which explains the awful crick he has in his neck from sleeping against the seatbelt for hours on end, along with the striking hunger in his stomach from not eating dinner. And finally, as Johnny gets out of the car to walk into the hotel, Taeyong realizes they haven’t spoken in six hours. 

 

He had gotten so used to their constant chatter over the past few days, with Johnny making fun of Taeyong’s little quirks, and making him laugh until he cries, and telling him stories of Donghyuck and his childhood, and filling all of Taeyong’s time and thoughts, that now, in complete silence, the lack of Johnny feels immeasurable. 

 

He just wants to know why.

 

So when Johnny sends a cold text with nothing more than “room’s ready, 352,”, Taeyong sets his jaw and resigns himself to not going to bed until he knows what’s on Johnny’s mind . Because tomorrow can be different, Taeyong reminds himself, tomorrow can be better . He just has to know what’s wrong so he can fix it, so he can fix himself and  fix whatever part of him that made Johnny go back to hating him. 

 

After a small pep talk he gives himself in the car, Taeyong takes a deep breath and heads in, stepping into the elevator on his way to the third floor. 

 

He steps off, the suitcase dragging slowly behind him, the wheels against the carpeted floors the only noise in the hallway other than Taeyong’s own heavy breathing as he walks towards the door.

 

He reaches the door for room 352, and takes a shaky break, his hand trembling as he raises it to knock on the wooden door before him, feeling like he’s about to walk in and get his heart broken even further. 

 

Taeyong knocks once, just a short tap of his knuckles against the wood, the sound echoing in the empty hallway. Taeyong swallows hard, his heart hammering as he waits for Johnny to open the door, worried he’s just going to be met with more silence when he hears nothing moving behind the closed door. He sighs, raising his hand to knock again. 

 

Before he can knock a second time, the door swings open, revealing an exhausted-looking Johnny, his dark hair a mess from running his hands through it, his eyes charged with fire and emotion as he glances at Taeyong. 

 

Taeyong takes a small step in, walking around Johnny to set his suitcase down, only to swallow hard when he takes in the singular double bed before him. 

 

“I’m surprised you want to share a bed,” Taeyong mutters under his breath, almost to himself as he’s gotten used to Johnny ignoring him as the day’s gone on. 

 

But Johnny catches the words mumbled under his breath and snaps back with a harsh tone. harsh.

 

 “I don’t,” Johnny responds, shortly, causing Taeyong to whip his head around, turning to face him as Johnny walks towards the door, another room key in his hand. 

 

Taeyong’s face must look as confused as he feels because Johnny clears his throat and continues, raising the key in his hand as if to emphasize his point, “I’m in the room next door.”

 

Taeyong just stares back, his mouth parted in shock, his heart aching at Johnny’s words. Johnny had gotten himself a different room because he didn’t want to sleep in the same room as Taeyong, much less the same bed, like they’d been doing for the past few nights. 

 

At Taeyong’s silence, Johnny turns to leave, but Taeyong has had enough of letting Johnny walk away from him today, so he blinks away the tears he feels forming in his eyes and reaches out, his hand grabbing Johnny’s wrist in a vice grip to stop him before he can leave. 

 

“Are you fucking kidding me, Johnny?” Taeyong grits out, his teeth clenched from trying to hold back the flood of emotion threatening to spill onto his face. 

 

Johnny’s eyebrows raise and he scoffs, “I didn’t really think you’d be very upset by me sleeping in my own room, Taeyong.”

 

Taeyong’s own brows shoot up to his hairline, an incredulous laugh bubbling from his lips as he listens to Johnny speak. 

 

“Oh my god, Johnny, you can’t be serious right now. I’m not upset you don’t want to share a bed, you goddamn idiot, you can sleep outside for all I fucking care after the shit you pulled today,” Taeyong huffs out, feeling his confidence grow as Johnny flinches away from him, pulling his wrist from Taeyong’s grasp. “I meant are you fucking kidding me, why are we pretending like last night didn’t happen? Why are we pretending like it’s fucking normal that you’ve pretended like I don’t exist all day. Why are we acting like you haven’t been the biggest fucking asshole ever today, for no fucking reason?” 

 

Johnny swallows hard, his Adam's apple bobbing in his neck as he responds, slowly, each word measured.“Well,” Johnny pauses, “maybe it is for the best if we pretend like last night didn’t happen.”

 

“What?” Taeyong asks, his tone breathy as he stares at Johnny, begging the universe to make it make sense. 

 

“I can’t — We can’t, Taeyong, Johnny groans, his hands running through his messy black hair, repeating himself, “last night was a mistake.” 

 

“A mistake?” Taeyong asks, fighting the tears welling in his eyes. “How can you say that?” he asks, broken. 

 

Johnny just stares at him, his eyes big and soft as he looks back at him. And it’s not fair, Taeyong thinks, for Johnny to look like that when he’s breaking Taeyong’s heart, crumbling it in his hands like a brittle cookie. 

 

Taeyong feels a tear slip down his face, wiping it away as rage fills his heart because Johnny played him. Johnny made him fall for him, and now he’s going to break his heart and walk away?

 

No, that can’t be what’s happening, Taeyong thinks, another traitorous tear spilling down his cheek. Johnny can’t just walk away, not like everyone else in Taeyong’s pitiful life. Johnny’s not going to be just another boy that Taeyong lets walk all over his heart and walk away without any explanation. He’s had enough.

 

Taeyong’s had enough. 

 

He wipes his face with his sleeve and levels Johnny with a cold stare, his voice coming out emotionless as he speaks.

 

 “Look me in the eyes and tell me that you still hate me,” Taeyong says, his voice low, accusatory. 

 

“I can’t, Taeyong,” Johnny whispers, shaking his head slightly as he takes a small step back towards the door, “you can’t ask me to fucking say that.”

 

“Why?,” Taeyong screams, his voice cracking, raw. He can feel something inside his heart shatter at Johnny’s words. How it feels like, maybe, they broke each other. “You can tell me you wish last night didn’t happen, that I’m a fucking mistake, but you can’t tell me you fucking hate me? Why, John? Because you don’t mean it and don’t know how to handle that? Or because you do mean it and you don’t want to break my heart?”

 

Taeyong’s heart is pounding wildly as he waits for Johnny’s answer. 

 

“I don’t—” Johnny closes his eyes, clenching his fists at his sides. “That’s not fair, Taeyong. You know I don’t hate you. I could never hate you.”

 

At that, Taeyong laughs, the sound coming out empty, mocking. 

 

How would I know that, Johnny? You haven’t done anything to prove me otherwise.”

 

And Johnny just stands there, not speaking. 

 

Taeyong is so tired of Johnny not speaking. 

 

So, he continues. 

 

“God, Johnny. I can’t fucking believe that I let you in. I would’ve given you anything, you know. I would’ve let you do anything you wanted, because I like you, Johnny. Fuck, I like you so much. I can’t believe I actually let myself. God, Johnny, I think I could’ve fucking loved you,” Taeyong spits, tears now running viciously down his face, and he can’t stop. He can’t stop because he feels used and he feels like he’s been lied to, and all Taeyong ever fucking wanted was just to be wanted, and Johnny knew that, and still took advantage. 

 

Taeyong continues, rage infused in each word as he flings them at Johnny like knives, “Is this why Seulgi left you, Johnny?” He pauses as Johnny’s face falls, but Taeyong’s blind now, blind to the hurt he’s causing Johnny, because that’s exactly what he wants . He wants to hurt Johnny like how he’s hurting, so he does. “Is that why she left you? Because you are a fucking emotional void? Huh? Did she leave you because she finally realized you weren’t the fucking man she thought you were? God, Johnny, I’m so stupidly into you, I thought I had finally figured you out. Thought I had seen behind the fucking mask you put up, of the cold businessman who doesn’t care about others, who doesn’t feel emotion, doesn’t love. But, it’s not a mask, is it? You really are cold, you really don’t have love in your heart. Maybe you’re just unlovable .”

 

He watches as Johnny’s face falls, watches as the words hit just as hard as Taeyong had meant for them to, but all Taeyong wants to do is take them back, because he sees the way Johnny’s eyebrows bunch together, and watches as his shoulders begin to shake as he flinches away from Taeyong, as if the words had been a physical blow, and he watches as Johnny turns towards the door, watches as he opens it, stopping in the door frame. 

 

Johnny turns slowly, and Taeyong wants to take it all back as he watches  a single tear trail down Johnny’s face, and he notices that Johnny won’t look at him. 

 

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Johnny whispers, another tear slipping from his eyes as he looks at Taeyong, his gaze lingering for another second before he turns, slamming the door shut and walking away from Taeyong. 

 

Taeyong starts to sob the second Johnny leaves, crumpling to a pile on the floor.

 

Taeyong sits there for what seems like hours, sobbing into his hands as he replays the look of absolute defeat on Johnny’s face before he left, as he replays his words, how he had said them without even thinking, without meaning them. 

 

Because, Taeyong really didn’t mean what he said. He didn’t mean any of what he said. Johnny wasn’t unlovable, Taeyong was falling in love with him, for fucks sake.

 

Johnny just didn’t love him back. 

 

The sobs slow to a silent cry, tears drying on his cheeks as he wipes furiously at his face. He gets up on uneasy legs and crawls into bed, getting under the covers and snuggling into the warmth of the bed, wishing Johnny was there to keep him warm. Wishing they hadn’t ruined everything, wishing he could go back to the day before and do it all over again. 

 

But Taeyong can deal with that, he thinks, taking deep breaths as he tries to calm himself down. He can deal with it, maybe he and Johnny can be friends. 

 

His thought is interrupted, however, when his phone buzzes in his pocket, startling him up into a sitting position as he fishes it out, selfishly wishing he sees Johnny’s name pop up in his messages, disappointed when he sees it’s just Mark. 

 

He opens the messages anyway, figuring he should probably update Mark, anyway, on how shit the entire day had gone. 

 

But when he reads them, that uneasy feeling settles back in the pit of his stomach. 

 

From: Markie 

12:01 am: T :(((

12:02 am: I’m so sorry, I’ve been swamped with wedding stuff all day and just saw this!

12:03 am: You didn’t do anything wrong, I’m sure it’s just bc it’s the 11th, you know how hard that is for him :(

12:03 am: You have to be strong for him, Yong. Hyuck told me how happy he was that Johnny wouldn’t be alone today.

 

Taeyong’s heart starts to pound as he finishes reading the texts, his hands flying across the keyboard as he types out his response.

 

To: Markie

12:05 am: WHAT ARE U TALKING ABOUT

12:05 am: ??????????????

12:06 am: what the FUCK is it about the eleventh???? 

 

Taeyong’s heart is beating wildly as he watches the typing bubble pop up, then disappear, only to reappear a short second later, a new text popping up. 

 

From: Markie

 

12:07 am: wait he DIDN’T tell you????? You don’t know??!?!?!?

12:07 am: bro literally scroll through his instagram ?? 

 

Taeyong clears the messages app, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest as he opens up Instagram, searching Johnny’s profile with shaking hands. 

 

@Johnnyjsuh pops up, and he clicks it, realizing he’s never as much as glanced through his page before. 

 

Taeyong flies through the recents posts towards the bottom, skipping over everything from the past few years, all the way to the first posts, dating back to 2012, 2013. 

 

Taeyong gets to the very bottom of Johnny’s account, his heart racing as he starts to pick up on an unfamiliar face present in almost all of the pictures, scrolling through the posts and seeing the same boy, over and over again, separated only by random pictures of Johnny’s family, or pictures of a meal he captured. 


Taeyong scans through the captions, seeing much of the same thing, realizing that the boy was Johnny’s boyfriend. 

 

“Picnic time with my love!”

 

“4 months with you baby, I love you lots <3”

 

“Love of my life & I at the movies!”

 

“7 months? Can’t believe I got so lucky.”

 

“Dinner with my favorite red-head <3333”

 

He’s so cute, Taeyong thinks, scrolling through Johnny’s old posts of his boyfriend, whether they’re at dinner, or on a hike, or just hanging out, the boy was always smiling, always vibrant, undeniably beautiful with his bright eyes and head of equally bright red hair. At the sight of the vibrant color, Taeyong is taken back to when he had bright red hair, just two short years ago, and wonders if Johnny’s boy also got scammed into buying Manic Panic Wildfire only to realize the brand sucked. 

 

Taeyong scrolls for a few more seconds, a small smile on his face at how happy the two of them look in every picture. This Johnny was the Johnny that Taeyong had been seeing this week. This was Taeyong’s Johnny. 

 

And then all of the sudden, around 2014, the pictures stop completely. He stops seeing the familiar head of firetruck red hair in every post, the feed switched to black and white landscape photos, pictures of Donghyuck, a random photo of a meal every once in a way. 

 

He scrolls for a second longer, his brows furrowed, stopping when he sees that familiar shock of red hair once again, clicking on the photo to read the caption. 

 

His heart stops in his chest as he reads the first line, his hand flying to his mouth as he reads the first sentence, fresh tears forming in his eyes as he reads the caption. 

 

“Today marks one year without you, baby. I miss you so much, some mornings I still wake up and expect to see you right next to me, smiling into your morning cup of coffee. Loving you was the easiest thing I ever did, and I hate having to live this life without you. You are always going to be the brightest light of my life. Rest easy, cherry boy, I love you. Till we meet again, Qian Kun.”

 

Taeyong wipes the back of his hand across his eyes, clearing his vision as his heart drops out of his body while he finishes reading the caption, his eyes flicking to the bottom of the post  he reads the date and realizes what it means. 

 

June 11th, 2015.

 

Six years ago, today, Qian Kun, the love of Johnny’s life died, and yet just an hour ago, Taeyong had told Johnny that he was unlovable. 

 

Taeyong shoots out of bed, tears still streaming down his face as he pulls back on his shoes, grabbing his phone and yanking open the door to his hotel room, turning and banging on Johnny’s door desperately. He needs to tell Johnny he didn’t mean it, needs to tell Johnny that he’s sorry, needs to tell him that he's falling in love with him. 

 

Before he’s too late. 




Chapter Text

Taeyong pounds his fist relentlessly against the hard wooden door until his knuckles turn red and start to ache, the thin skin threatening to break every time he slams his hand against the door with all of his force. 

 

“Johnny, please,” Taeyong croaks, leaning his forehead against the door as he continues to knock, defeat seeping in with every painfully silent second that passes. “Let me in, please. I’m sorry.”

 

Taeyong hears nothing but silence from the other side of the door, but he continues nonetheless, banging and pleading for Johnny to open the door. 

 

He has to apologize. Hell, Johnny has to apologize. Taeyong knows that they can get through this, if they just talk. Johnny means too much to him now, he can’t just let him slip between his fingers before he actually ever has him. Not now, not when he knows he didn’t understand what was really going on. 

 

The knocking goes on for a few more long, defeating minutes before Taeyong hears the door behind him swing open, the sudden noise causing him to turn. Taeyong swallows hard, realizing he probably looks like a complete mess after crying for a good part of the day.

 

Taeyong’s eyes go wide as he takes in the man in front of him. He’s easily over six feet tall with a long ginger beard and covered in tattoos that start at his wrists and stretch to the sides of his neck. He looks down at Taeyong with his jaw set, clearly unhappy. 

 

He looked furious when he first opened the door, but his light blue eyes soften when he takes in Taeyong’s disheveled appearance — from his red-rimmed eyes to his crumpled shirt, his messy blonde hair and the probably obvious pain written across his facial features. That is, if he looks only half as miserable as he feels. 

 

The man sighs, running a hand through his short-cropped hair before he speaks, his voice a low timbre with an accent Taeyong doesn’t recognize, “Look. I’m sorry, man, but it’s almost one am, and I have to get up early tomorrow. I can’t fall asleep if you’re banging on this guy’s door.” He sounds apologetic, but his words are firm. 

 

Taeyong feels his cheeks flame with embarrassment — he hadn’t even realized how late it had gotten or how loud he was probably being. He ducks his head and starts to apologize but the man cuts him off with a wave of his hand and a sigh. 

 

“No, no, no. It’s fine, it happens.”

 

Taeyong nods awkwardly with his eyes glued to his feet, feeling his cheeks burn impossibly red. Because… Does it happen? How often do people have breakdowns in hotel hallways and bang on their kind-of-almost-lover’s door and wake up their neighbors in the middle of the night? 

 

The man goes to shut his room but pauses, turning back to face Taeyong. “For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure your guy’s gone,” the man says carefully, causing Taeyong’s head to snap up.

 

“Johnny?” Taeyong asks, wincing at the obvious desperation in his tone. He feels his heart sink a moment later at the realization that Johnny isn’t even here

 

“Uh, maybe? Pretty tall guy, black hair. He looked, well,” The man pauses, breaking eye contact. “He looked like he’d been crying?” he offers, his tone cautious. 

 

Taeyong lets out a shaky breath, willing the tears out of his eyes before he breaks down again in front of a complete stranger. “Yeah,” he manages, his voice quiet. “That sounds like my Johnny.”

 

“He was on his way out about an hour ago. I talked to him for a second before he left. Nice guy. Really friendly, despite, well,” The man trails off awkwardly, clearly trying not to make Taeyong uncomfortable. Or any more uncomfortable than he already was. 

 

Taeyong swallows, the lump in his throat growing.

 

“Did he—,” Taeyong starts, his voice cracking. He clears his throat and sniffles, trying again, “Uh, sorry, did he say where he was headed, possibly?”

 

“Oh, actually, yeah, he did. He said he was gonna uber to a bar, I think. Didn’t say where, though. Sorry, mate.”

 

Taeyong forces himself to smile politely, taking a deep breath and collecting himself. “That’s okay, thank you. Really , thank you, you’ve been so helpful. And… understanding. I’m sorry. For the noise,” Taeyong adds, still sheepish for having woken the man up in the middle of the night.  

 

The man nods and sends him a sympathetic smile before disappearing back into his room, leaving Taeyong alone in the hallway. 

 

With a heavy heart, Taeyong turns back into his room, pulling out his phone as soon as the door shuts behind him and sitting down on the bed.

 

He searches for Johnny’s contact and hits call, putting it on speaker phone as he lays back into his pillows. 

 

Taeyong listens to the call ring through to voicemail and hangs up, calling again. Listens to that call ring through. Calls again. And again. And again. 

 

Frustrated, Taeyong opens up his messages, opting to send Johnny a text instead, his frustration seeping through his words as he types. 

 

To: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

 

1:42 am: We need to talk. Please answer my calls. 

1:43 am: Where are you? 

 

Taeyong sighs, going to put his phone down and wait for a response when he sees that he forgot to open what Donghyuck sent him earlier. With nothing better to do but sit and wait for Johnny to text him back, he opens the messages, hoping wedding drama can distract him from the emptiness he feels in his chest. 

 

When he opens the texts, expecting another change of the wedding band, or a problem with the cake, or something about their ridiculously expensive custom suits they made Taeyong help them pick out, what he reads instead makes his heart stop beating for a second, and his stomach turn with anxiety. 

 

Because it wasn’t about the wedding at all, it was about Johnny . It was about Johnny and Kun .

 

From: Donghyuckie Suh 

 

7:05 am: good morning T :) 

7:08 am: I know Johnny would never admit it but I know he’s really happy that he’s not going to be alone today. He hasn’t been the same since Kun passed away, but I see a little bit more of the old him every time he talks about you. Try to be gentle with him today, even when you don’t want to. He’ll try to push you away, but please don’t let him. He’s gotten in a bad habit of pushing away the people he loves when he gets scared, I had to learn that the hard way. He also would probably be mad if he knew I was telling you this, but I think he really likes you, T, & fuck if I’m going to sit here and watch Johnny not let himself be happy, he deserves it. You both deserve it.  

7:09 am: forgive me for the long and heavy text so early in the morning hihi I just wanted to say thank you for looking out for my big brother and that I love you and can’t wait to see you 😘😘 

 

Taeyong feels a tear roll down his cheek as he finishes reading Donghyuck’s words. He hadn’t even realized he started crying again, but when he brings a hand to his face he feels wetness on his fingertips. He rubs his eyes, swiping a hand under his nose as he presses the button to call Hyuck before he even realizes what he’s doing. 

 

Donghyuck picks up after the third ring, his voice thick with sleep, worry laced in his every word.

 

“Taeyong? Hello? What’s wrong?” 

 

Taeyong’s heart clenches at the sound of Donghyuck’s voice. He tries to form a sentence, tries to explain , but all that comes out is a miserable whimper of Donghyuck’s name.  

 

“It’s okay, Taeyong-ah, shh, it will be okay. Can you tell me what happened?” Hyuck asks, his voice gentle. He waits a pause before adding, “Do you want me to wake up Mark?”

 

“No, no, need you.” Taeyong rushes to say before Hyuck wakes Mark up too, sniffling before speaking again. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up, I wasn’t thinking. I’m never thinking. I’m just, I-I fucked up, Hyuckie,” Taeyong whispers, “I fucked up so bad and now he’s gone, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do, Hyuck. I just read your texts, and I didn’t know and I—” 

 

Donghyuck cuts him off, the sound of rustling loud in the background as if he was just now getting out of bed, “Woah, woah, woah. Taeyong, slow down.” Taeyong finds himself nodding even though Donghyuck can’t see him. He takes a long, deep breath to try to calm his heart down. Donghyuck lets him take a few seconds to just breathe into the phone before continuing, “Good, Taeyong. Keep taking deep breaths, it’s gonna be okay, I promise. Can you tell me what happened, again? Slowly?” 

 

Taeyong swallows, guilt clogging his throat as he remembers the fight, remembers the reckless words he and Johnny threw at each other, remember’s Johnny’s face before he left. “Um, well, it started this morning,” Taeyong says, blinking tears out of his eyes before taking a deep breath and continuing, “Johnny was being weird and like cold and distant, and I thought it was because,” Taeyong pauses, laughing ruefully at how dumb he sounds now. “And, I thought it was because of me. I thought um, well, you see we kind of did something? We hooked up last night, but I was so drunk and being stupid, and then, I-I woke up, and he was gone and I just thought…” Taeyong trails off. 

 

“And you thought it was because he regretted what happened?” Donghyuck supplies, his voice slow and kind, tentative like he was afraid of scaring off a hurt animal. When all Taeyong does is make a small noise of agreement and sniffle into the microphone again, Donghyuck sighs, “Taeyong.”

 

I know, Hyuckie, it’s stupid now, but I didn’t, I just didn’t know ,” Taeyong groans out, dragging out the end of the word, “I didn’t read your text until like five minutes ago, and Johnny didn’t say anything so I kind of just— assumed the worst, I guess. And now he’s gone and I don’t know how to fix it or where he went.”

 

Donghyuck is silent for so long that Taeyong wonders if he accidentally hung up. 

 

“Wait a second, back up. Did you just say that Johnny didn’t say anything?” Donghyuck asks, his voice uncharacteristically monotonous, “He didn’t tell you that it was Kun’s fucking death anniversary?”

 

“No...” Taeyong says, the word lilting up at the end like a question. 

 

“I can’t fucking believe— I’m going to kill him. I’m actually gonna kill him. He told me he was going to tell you what happened. He promised. No wonder you were fucking confused,” Hyuck says, exasperation in his voice. 

 

“Well, he —” Taeyong starts, before realizing he was about to blindly defend Johnny, the same Johnny who he’s supposed to be mad at, Johnny who he is mad at. He clears his throat before responding, “Yeah, I guess,” instead. 

 

Donghyuck sighs and Taeyong can imagine him reaching a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose like he does when Mark is being stubborn and refuses to admit he’s in the wrong. Taeyong smiles slightly at the mental image, his heart aching at how much he misses them both. 

 

“So, earlier when you said you fucked up?” Hyuck asks, his tone muddled with confusion, “I really, really hope you’re not blaming yourself for not knowing what today is.”

 

Taeyong hums. “No, it’s not that.” He couldn’t have possibly known what was going on if Johnny wasn’t going to tell him. Taeyong frowns as he reminds himself why he called in the first place, “But, I um, said some things, and he said some things, and it escalated, like a lot, and I said something I shouldn’t have. I said something I didn’t even mean, and then he, he left. And I made his really shitty day even fucking worse. And now, I don’t even know where he is. I just know he’s out there, somewhere, drinking, and thinking I hate him.”

 

Taeyong swallows the emotion creeping up his throat, willing himself to stay strong through the rest of the phone call. 

 

“And I really don’t hate him. I really, really, really don’t want him to think that. Not when it’s quite the opposite. And I don’t know what to do. What do I do, Hyuckie?” 

 

“Well,” Donghyuck hums, stalling, “Oh. Well first, I can send you his location, we all have each other’s phone location. We did that after, um, well, we did that after the accident. It’s not my place to talk about that really, though, sorry. I’m sure he can explain later?”

 

“It’s fine, Hyuck, you don’t need to apologize, seriously. But, thank you, having his location is a good start, at least. That would be wonderful, actually. I just need to find him and say sorry before he hates me even more.”  

 

“Oh, Taeyong. I don’t think there’s anything you could do that would make Johnny hate you. If I had to guess I’d bet he’s beating himself up enough over being any sort of mean to you, if anything. Besides, he probably thinks he deserved everything you said. He’s not really as nice to himself as he should be,” Donghyuck says, a resigned sadness punctuating his every word.  

 

Taeyong frowns, the idea of Johnny not letting himself be happy putting a sour taste in his mouth.

 

“Yeah,” Taeyong whispers, his hands itching to end the call and run to Johnny. Even if he shouldn’t, the only thing he can think about is pulling him into a hug and never letting go. 

 

Right as he’s about to say goodbye, already reaching to pull on his shoes, Hyuck speaks up again. 

 

“And, for what it’s worth, Taeyong?” Donghyuck says, his words slow and carefully chosen, “I think you’re really, really good for him. I think Johnny needs someone like you in his life, and I think that he’s been waiting for you for a long time. So, don’t forgive him immediately, of course. He hurt you and definitely needs to apologize, but maybe hear him out, first? Before making any decisions? He has a lot of things he is still working through, and a lot of healing left to do, but I think he could be worth it. I think you guys could be worth it, you know?”

 

Taeyong feels a little part of his heart thrum at Donghyuck’s words as he spots Johnny’s keys where he left them on Taeyong’s dresser and starts to run to the car, feeling something dangerous blooming back in his heart.

 

Something that feels a lot like hope. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong expected tears. 

 

He expected to find a barely sentient Johnny passed out on the bar or drowning his sorrows in alcohol. He assumed that he’d have to drag him back to the car and nurse him back to health, worry about him all night, and wait until the next day to talk about the thoughts that had been plaguing him since the morning. 

 

He even prepared himself to walk into Johnny with someone else, someone random, someone who doesn’t know him. Someone to take away from the pain, the pain Taeyong caused him. 

 

Taeyong was used to it — that destructive, careless, selfish behavior. 

 

He saw it in Yuta, he saw it in Taeil, he saw it in his dad before his parents got divorced and he even saw it in himself sometimes. That selfish behavior manifests itself ugly inside of you, urging you to just forget and pretend like nothing matters anymore, to ignore the people you love and selfishly drown your feelings away with a glass of whiskey and a pretty stranger’s smile. 

 

So, when he walks into Altitudes Bar and Grill, frantically following the blinking blue dot of Johnny’s location that Hyuck had sent him, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest, he stops in his tracks at what he finds. 

 

Because what Taeyong walks into is not what he had expected at all. 

 

He spots Johnny almost immediately, a messy head of black hair sitting alone at the bar, sipping solemnly on a glass of clear liquid and ice, eyes red and face blotchy, but nonetheless seeming perfectly sober. 

 

The sight tugs on Taeyong’s heart as he continues to weave his way through the bar, his heartbeat loud in his ears as he stops a few steps away from Johnny. The tension between them as Johnny lifts his gaze and finds Taeyong’s eyes is palpable. 

 

Taeyong has to look away, his heart aching and his fingers starting to sweat. What if Johnny doesn’t want to see me? He thinks as he nervously fidgets with Johnny’s keys in his hand, the silence between them far too loud as he takes another tentative step towards Johnny.

 

“What are you doing here, Taeyong?” Johnny asks, his voice exhausted . Taeyong’s heart drops at how disappointed he sounds to see Taeyong standing before him, then again at how tired Johnny sounds, how desperately he must want the day to end.   

 

Taeyong wonders if Johnny thinks that he’s here to yell at him more. Taeyong hates that he wouldn’t blame Johnny for not trusting him to be there for him, hates that Johnny probably expects him not to forgive him, not to apologize. 

 

Taeyong swallows his heart and forces himself to put on a brave face for Johnny. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before meeting his gaze and explaining softly, honestly, “what I should have done, earlier.” 

 

Johnny looks up at him, a mix of surprise, confusion, and a hint of hope in his eyes as he stares back at Taeyong. His knuckles go white as he grips his glass, his voice coming out strangled as he croaks out, “What?” 

 

Taeyong sighs, his heart breaking at Johnny’s tone. Taeyong could be the person Johnny needed, he thinks, if Johnny would just let him. 

 

“I think we have some things we need to talk about, so, let me take you home. Please?” Taeyong asks softly, ignoring the way his heart beats stupidly at calling the hotel home, at the idea that he and Johnny could one day have a home, together. Johnny pauses, looking down at his hands, and Taeyong realizes he’s still holding his drink. “Err, if you’re done with your,” Taeyong gestures awkwardly towards the glass, “with your, um, whatever that is, I mean.” 

 

Taeyong feels his cheeks color in embarrassment, and watches as something like amusement flickers in Johnny’s eyes and realizes with a start that he really missed that feeling. Missed Johnny, really, all day. He would embarrass himself ten times over if it got Johnny to smile. He really missed seeing Johnny’s smile.

 

“Vodka,” Johnny deadpans, taking a long sip without breaking eye contact with Taeyong. Taeyong flinches at the thought of drinking vodka straight, and Johnny’s face relaxes, a small smile working it’s way on to his lips before he laughs quietly, “Water. Sorry, It’s just water.” 

 

Taeyong’s heart swells at the sound. Johnny’s snarky comeback and gentle laugh feels like a huge victory after a long day of Johnny being so absent and cold. Taeyong feels his heart pound as a matching smile reaches his lips, hope blooming in his heart again, the small interaction feeling like Johnny saying “I’m sorry,” for more reasons than one. 

 

“Hilarious, Johnny,” Taeyong whispers. He laughs, grateful that his Johnny isn’t completely gone, shaking his head as he looks down at his feet. 

 

“Well if you’re done with your vodka, ” Taeyong mocks, rolling his eyes, “you ready?”

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong pulls back into the hotel’s parking lot, his hands shaking lightly against the wheel of Johnny’s car, his body tight in a bundle of anticipation and nerves. 

 

It had started to feel more real the further they drove, the closer they got back to the hotel. The inevitability of the conversation they were about to have had hit Taeyong like a truck, the adrenaline of seeing Johnny again wearing off, leaving behind a bundle of insecurities, fear, and dread. 

 

His fingers ache to reach out and pull Johnny into the hug they both so desperately need, but Taeyong reminds himself that Johnny still needs to apologize. Even if Taeyong’s basically already forgiven him in his head, they do need to talk about it. 

 

Fuck, they need to talk. There’s so much Taeyong wants to say, so much he needs to ask. 

 

He lets out a heavy sigh, putting the car in park and taking a moment to just think before turning his head to look over to the passenger seat, only to find Johnny already looking at him. There are so many emotions swirling in Johnny’s honey colored eyes — pain and regret and something that looks terrifyingly close to love filling his gaze as he looks back at Taeyong.

 

They stay there for a moment, just staring at each other with desperate eyes, the tension in the car so high, so charged with emotion, Taeyong finds himself drowning in Johnny’s gaze. 

 

Johnny breaks first, his voice hoarse as he croaks out a single broken word, “ Taeyong—” 

 

Taeyong just shakes his head, reaching out a hand to place it on the inside of Johnny’s wrist, swiping his thumb lightly across a vein there as he rubs back and forth against the soft skin, the feeling of Johnny’s heartbeat flickering under Taeyong’s thumb a reassurance that he’s actually there, and that maybe it’s not too late for everything to be okay. 

 

“Not here,” Taeyong says. He can’t have this conversation in Johnny’s car, with so much stress and pent up energy, and anger permeating the air around them. They need to sit down together and fucking relax, and work things through like adults. 

 

Johnny seems to understand, nodding his head slightly and, without another word, moving to get out of the car. 

 

Taeyong lingers behind, his eyes slipping shut for a second as he sends a silent prayer to whoever may be listening that things are going to be okay. 

 

Taeyong takes a deep breath and gets out of the car, following Johnny into the hotel and back up to his room. 

 

They don’t speak in the lobby, or in the elevator, or even in the hallway — the very same hallway that Taeyong was breaking down in, not even an hour ago. 

 

Taeyong pauses in front of his door before unlocking it, the image of Johnny walking out on him earlier with a look of pain and betrayal plastered on his face burnt into Taeyong’s memory, causing a shiver to run down his spine before he walks inside. 

 

Taeyong takes a few steps into the room without turning back around, the sound of the door shutting softly and the quick jingling of Johnny locking it with the deadbolt making the reality of the situation fall heavily on Taeyong’s shoulders. 

 

“Taeyong—” Johnny starts, his voice coming from behind Taeyong, closer than he thought. 

 

But Taeyong shakes his head, turning around but not yet raising his head. He needs to say what he has been working up to for the past few hours, and he knows the second he looks at Johnny’s face he’s just going to break down again. 

 

“No, Johnny, I need to—” Taeyong interrupts, “Just, let me? I need to explain,” Taeyong says softly. He waits until he sees the movement of Johnny’s head nodding tentatively in the corner of his vision before continuing. “First, I really need to apologize for what I said earlier, I need you to know that I didn’t mean anything I said.” 

 

Johnny raises his hand and immediately starts to interrupt, causing Taeyong to finally raise his eyes, meeting Johnny’s eyes and shaking his head again.

 

“No, let me speak, please. I need to, I need t-to explain. I used to hate you, Johnny,” Taeyong starts, his voice raw. Johnny flinches at the admission, but Taeyong continues. He needs to be honest if he wants this to work, if he wants them to ever move on. “I hated that you were mean to me but so nice to Mark and Hyuck. I didn’t understand what I had ever done to you to deserve that. I resented you for being so perfect, you had a wonderful job, and were in a long-term committed relationship, and you were like everyone’s favorite person except for mine. And I hated that. I hated that you always got the last word and that you always had some snarky comment to come back to whatever I said, and that you pushed my buttons, and knew all of the right buttons to push to rile me up. I would avoid going to things if I knew you were going to be there, and I complained to Mark every chance I got about how terrible you were.” 

 

Taeyong’s gaze flicks back up to Johnny’s face briefly before he continues, looking back away from the expression he finds in Johnny’s eyes, “But then… then Mark forgot to book me a plane ticket, and you of all people came to save me. You have no idea how much shit I gave Mark for not telling me it was you that was driving. But you showed up to my doorstep in that ugly blue car, and you got me my favorite drink without anyone asking you to, and…” 

 

Taeyong finds a spot on the carpet to focus on, willing the lump in his throat to go away. 

 

“You stood up for me against my piece of shit ex even though I had been terrible to you the whole day, and you paid for my meals because you knew I was worried about money, and you made sure I was sleeping well, and you were so kind, and funny, and, and...” Taeyong pauses again, emotion clogging his throat as he realizes what he’s about to admit, realizes that he really means it too, “And you were the first person that wasn’t Mark to tell me that you think I can accomplish my dreams. That you believed in me. That I could do anything I wanted, and, and, fuck .

 

“It came out of nowhere, but I started to like you so fucking much, Johnny. Everything about you. This whole week I refused to believe I didn’t still hate you, I was trying to hold on to that so hard, but I couldn’t. God, I mean, how could I? After everything, how could I still hate you? I wouldn’t have rather been with anyone else this week, as crazy as that sounds. It was perfect. Every single second was perfect. And then—then… and then last night,” Taeyong swallows thickly, his eyes back to being glued to the floor, focusing on the pattern of the hotel rug to calm himself down, “well, last night was perfect too,” he admits softly, “I wanted you so bad. I would have given you anything, you know? But you didn’t take advantage of that. You respected me enough to not push anything on me that you didn’t know I actually wanted, and god I fell for you a little harder just for that.”

 

A small noise escapes from Johnny’s lips, causing Taeyong’s gaze to flick back up to see a tear rolling down the taller’s cheek, his eyes red and rimmed in silver. Taeyong startles at the sight, immediately taking Johnny’s hand and rubbing a slow circle on the back of it, trying to tell him through touch that he’s sorry, and that they have each other. He had been so absorbed in trying to articulate his feelings he didn’t even know Johnny had started to cry.

 

Johnny gives him a quick squeeze on his hand and Taeyong continues, knowing what he’s about to say is going to be hard to admit out loud. 

 

“And then this morning… you were gone. And it was like this whole week just meant nothing to you. All of the flirting, the meals we spent together, everything we talked about, sleeping in the same bed, and like even what we did last night, it was like, God, I just felt so fucking stupid, Johnny. I’m so tired of feeling stupid in every goddamn relationship I get myself into. I just can’t do that to myself anymore. I’ve been taken advantage of one too many times, I guess. I was so used to being treated like shit I guess my brain just assumed that’s what you were doing, too. It felt like you wanted to make me fall for you just to break my heart, and the worst fucking part is that I believed it. I really believed you would do that to me.” 

 

Taeyong feels Johnny’s wrist start to tremble under his touch at his words and he realizes that Johnny is shaking. Taeyong remembers Donghyuck’s words and feels a pang in his heart. ‘ He probably thinks he deserved everything you said. He’s not really as nice to himself as he should be.’ Taeyong sighs and pulls on Johnny’s still trembling wrist a little, tugging him over to the bed. 

 

“Let’s sit,” Taeyong says softly, sitting on top of the comforter on one side of the bed and patting the seat next to him for Johnny to sit. He waits for Johnny to settle in beside him before he speaks again. 

 

“I think the worst part was that you were shutting me out. I didn’t know what you were thinking and that’s when my brain started to take over and just project. Because that’s what I was doing, really. Just projecting my insecurities and my past onto you. And, I feel like shit now, thinking that you felt like you couldn’t tell me what was going on, because Johnny, I would’ve never said any of that if I knew you had a reason for acting the way you were acting, and that you weren’t just slipping back into the asshole I thought I knew. I still don’t really know everything, but at least I somewhat understand, now. And, trust me, I’m here for you, and I want to listen. So, you can’t just shut me out. You can’t just leave when you get sad, or when you’re feeling insecure. I need trust, Johnny. I have been with too many people that can’t give me that trust, and it ruins me a little more every time. I need you to trust me, and I need you to talk to me, and I really need you to promise that you’ll never shut me out like you did today ever again, if you and I … If we are ever going to work, you know?

 

“So, I’m not saying I’m not mad at you, because if you ever pull something like that again, It’s going to just about kill me, but I am so sorry for how I was acting. I don’t give a shit how mean you were to me, the things I said were unforgivable. I want you to know, no, I need you to know, that I didn’t mean a single word that I said. I didn’t mean anything I said about Seulgi, or about her leaving you, I don’t know shit about that relationship, and it wasn’t my place to ever comment on it. And you’re not unlovable, you’re far from it. You are one of the greatest men I know, and everyone in your life loves you so much. You aren’t unworthy of love just because you lost someone you love and are still struggling because of it. You deserve to be happy, okay? And if that includes me, then we can work through this, together. And if it doesn’t? If it doesn’t, then that’s okay too, I just need you to talk to me, and tell me what you’re thinking.” 

 

“Taeyong,” Johnny whimpers. Johnny’s still shaking, his face streamed with tears, his hands clenched into the sheets by his sides. 

 

“God, T, I can’t believe. I-I just don’t understand,” Johnny says, his voice still shaky, but clearer than before. Right as Taeyong goes to ask what part he didn’t get, Johnny continues, “I was so fucking terrible to you, all day. I was horrible to you, and I hate myself for it, and you should hate me for it, too. Yes, what you said hurt me, Taeyong. We both know that, but you still deserve so much more than me. So much more than having to pick up my broken pieces and try to put them back together. You deserve everything.

 

“Johnny, you don’t just get to decide what I do or don’t deserve,” Taeyong sighs, frustrated. His voice softens, “If I say I want you, I mean that I want all of you. Broken pieces and all.”

 

Johnny shakes his head as if in disbelief as he reaches over to offer his hand up for Taeyong to take. Taeyong hesitates, but twines their fingers together.

 

“I don’t even know how to begin to apologize for today, Taeyong,” Johnny says, his voice scratchy, uneven. “I just wanted it all to stop. The pain, I mean. I just wanted the pain to stop. I felt so guilty, being so happy with you. I woke up, and didn’t even realize what today was. And I promised him,” Johnny squeezes Taeyong’s hand as he looks away, his voice dropping to a whisper, “And I promised him that I would never forget him. But I did, and it brought back all of the guilt and all of the terrible feelings that made me that horrible person you met, so many years ago. And I really, really, don’t want to be that fucking person anymore. That’s not who I am, that’s not the man I want to be. But, I can’t escape my past, and I can’t move on, and I think I might be a little bit broken forever. So, no, I don’t deserve you, Taeyong. I really don’t. But, God, I want you so badly. Wanting you is the most selfish thing I’ve ever done.”

 

Taeyong squeezes back, grateful that Johnny’s being open with him, knowing it can’t be easy to admit that he’s been struggling with something, especially after holding it all in those years. 

 

“I’m here, Johnny,” Taeyong whispers, fingertips dancing on the calloused lines of Johnny’s hand, “I’m here and I want you to know that you don’t need to tell me anything you don’t feel comfortable talking about. I know it’s not going to be easy, to talk about it, after all of the pain it’s caused you. But, I’m here, and you can tell me anything you want, and I’ll stay here.”

 

“I’m sorry I shut you out, Taeyong. I’m not going to try and give you any more excuses, I just need you to know that I’m sorry. Fuck, there’s so much I need to tell you. So much explaining I need to do, before I even let you think about forgiving me. Will you let me explain?” Johnny asks, his voice scared, as if expecting for Taeyong to say no. 

 

Taeyong nods slowly, knowing that he needs to hear what Johnny is going to say, that he needs to understand where all of this pain, all of this guilt is coming from, but feeling so, so incredibly scared about what Johnny is going to say, just from the basic information he knows from Donghyuck and the internet. Feeling scared he’s going to hear that there’s never going to be anyone else for Johnny, that Taeyong could never compare. 

 

But Taeyong wants Johnny in his life so he gives up his resolve and tries desperately to ignore all of the insecurity he’s feeling. He reaches over and pulls Johnny until he falls into Taeyong’s body, tucking him under an arm as he rubs Johnny’s back comfortingly. He can’t even imagine the pain Johnny must have gone through, the pain he still has to carry with him, the pain he’s going to have to relive just to let Taeyong in, to help Taeyong know him in ways that he hasn’t let anybody know him in years. 

 

Johnny seems to visibly relax as soon as Taeyong’s arms close tighter around him, some of the stress seeping out of his body as Johnny shifts his hips across the bed to get closer. 

 

“Okay. I’ll listen, Johnny. I’ll always listen. Tell me about him?” Taeyong asks softly, both of them knowing exactly who Taeyong is talking about. 

 

Silence hangs heavy in the air and Taeyong worries for a moment that he said the wrong thing. But, Johnny lets out a sigh and relaxes into the warmth coming from Taeyong’s body. Taeyong takes a deep breath, reminding himself that they can get through this.

 

“I don’t know where to start,” Johnny admits, turning his head to nestle into the crook of Taeyong’s neck, snuggling into the warmth of his body. 

 

Taeyong’s heart starts to swell at how far they’ve come, of how much more willing Johnny is to being open. Taeyong shifts, bringing his hand up from Johnny’s back to run his fingers through his hair, scratching Johnny’s scalp the way Taeyong loves, trying his best to be soothing. 

 

Taeyong hums, considering Johnny’s question. “The beginning?” 

 

Johnny nods, his cheek rubbing against Taeyong’s neck with the movement, letting a quiet, “Okay,” fall from his lips as he works up the courage to talk about him, to talk about Kun . “I think I can do that. No, I can do it. For you… for us,” Johnny says, mumbling the words into Taeyong’s skin softly, like he’s worried it will be too much if he says them any louder. 

 

For us, Taeyong thinks, his heart swelling at the sound of it. At the idea of him and Johnny as an ‘us.’ Taeyong shifts slightly, running his fingers through Johnny’s silky black hair as he waits for him to start, giving him the time to process how he wants to tell him the story. How he wants to tell Taeyong their story — his and Kun’s. 

 

“Well, we met in the summer of 2012...” Johnny begins. 



☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

JUNE 2, 2012

 

Johnny feels his stomach turn as he looks out the window as his mom turns into the parking lot, the red welcome banner flying on the lamppost taunting him. He hadn’t felt nervous until just now, the reality of it all sinking in, the fact that he’s about to be thrown into a fishbowl with about 10,000 other students that he doesn’t know making his palms sweat furiously. 

 

“Mom,” Johnny groans dramatically, rubbing his palms against his jeans, “I think we should turn around. I can’t do it.”

 

“Oh, John-Ah! ” His mom sighs, reaching over to ruffle his hair, “You’re going to be fine, honey. Don’t be silly.”

 

“It’s going to be terrible, mom. I don’t even know anyone.”

 

“That’s the whole point of early orientation, baby,” His mom says, turning in her seat to look behind her as she tries to back into a spot. Johnny sighs, accepting his fate. 

 

Just a few minutes later Johnny finds himself being corralled into a big auditorium, all of the parents siphoned off into smaller groups to learn about meal plans and financial aid, or some other topics Johnny deemed equally boring. 

 

However, that leaves Johnny to stand alone among the masses, no familiar faces in sight, a brochure crumpled in his sweaty hand. 

 

He walks through the double wide doors, following the swarm of people trying to find a seat in the packed auditorium, making his way to the back where he hopes there will be an open seat for him to sit alone and feel less terrible about his decision to go to film school 2,000 miles away from home. 

 

Johnny isn’t even shy, but something about knowing that he is going to be with these people for the next four years makes the prospect of introducing himself that much more daunting. 

 

He finds a seat a few rows from the top, sighing in relief as he sits down, checking his watch to see that the presentation is supposed to start in two minutes. 

 

Johnny lets his eyes slip shut for a second, bowing his head as he takes a minute to just breathe, letting the building stress seep out of his body as he prepares himself for a long day.

 

His peace doesn’t last long, however, his eyes flying open when he feels a tap on his shoulder. 

 

He looks up, his breath catching in his throat as he takes in the boy standing in front of him. He’s wearing a black long sleeve t-shirt with one of Johnny’s favorite bands on it, and he’s got dark jeans on with rips in them that Johnny’s mom would never let him wear back home, and his hair is a brighter red than Clifford the fucking big red dog’s fur, and Johnny thinks he has never seen a more beautiful human in his whole 18 years of life. 

 

“Hi,” the boy says softly, his hand pointing vaguely behind Johnny, “Is anyone sitting here?”

“Oh, here? N-No,” Johnny stammers, a blush reaching his cheeks, cursing himself for being so awkward as he shifts back to give the boy room to walk past him to the next seat.

 

“Thanks,” he says, walking past Johnny to plop down in the seat, pulling a bag of sour patch kids out of his pocket. “I didn’t mean to like wake you up, or whatever, I just don’t know anyone here and it looked like you also weren’t with anyone either.” The boy laughs, pulling out a blue candy and putting it on his tongue, humming softly as he chews on the candy. “Sour patch kid?” he offers, holding the bag out to Johnny.

 

“Thanks,” Johnny says, plopping a yellow one in his mouth, cringing at the sourness as it hits his tongue. “I’m Johnny, by the way. What did you say your name was, again?” Johnny asks, holding out his slightly shaking hand, ignoring the way his heart is hammering in his chest as he watches the boy’s cheeks split into the prettiest smile he’s ever seen, all white teeth and dimples. 

 

The boy looks down at Johnny’s outstretched hand with an odd look on his face, cherry red strands of hair falling in his eyes as he reaches over to shake his hand, the room going quiet as the speaker walks up to the stage to present.

 

“Oh, my name is Kun. It’s nice to meet you, Johnny,” he whispers in Johnny’s ear like a secret, turning back to face the stage as the Dean of the College introduces the speaker, the crowd erupting in applause. 

 

Kun, Johnny muses, tossing the name around in his head before he decides it’s the most lovely name he thinks he’s ever heard, his eyes flickering between the boy sitting beside him and the presentation for the rest of the event. 



AUGUST 13, 2012

 

Johnny wonders if Kun can feel how fast Johnny’s heart is beating through the pads of his fingers, held loosely in Kun’s hand. He swallows, eyes darting around as he wonders if it’s as obvious as he feels like it is that he’s so incredibly nervous. 

 

It’s just — 

 

Johnny can’t mess this up. 

 

After about a month of hogging the home phone too often to call Kun after dinner, and hanging out on the weekends when Kun can take the train into the city and working up the nerve to actually ask Kun on a date, they were finally here, and the night was almost over, and Johnny is going to throw himself out of a window if he doesn’t work up the nerve to just fucking kiss him. 

 

It was Johnny’s idea to go to the fair, a small event they always hold some time in July, just an hour out of Chicago, busy but not too busy that he would feel like people were staring at him, or paying any attention to his multiple failed attempts at flirting with Kun. 

 

Kun squeezes his hand and Johnny realizes that while he was drifting, completely lost in his own thoughts, the ferris wheel had gotten to the top. 

 

The rusty blue machine comes to a creaking stop as they finally reach the top, and Johnny’s gaze is drawn back to Kun sitting beside him, his head framed by the setting sun behind him, the pink and orange sky lighting up his red hair so it looks like it’s alive, flames dancing on his head. Johnny smiles as Kun shifts closer, laying his head on Johnny’s shoulder and kicking his feet out to rest on the bench across from them. 

 

Johnny wonders what he must’ve done in a past life to be lucky enough to actually be on a date with someone like Kun , who makes him laugh like nobody’s business, and who wants to be an animator, and dyed his hair bright red to piss off his step-dad enough times that now he’s become attached to the color, and responded to Johnny asking him on a date with, “Took you long enough.”

 

So Johnny swallows the lump of fear in his throat and takes a deep breath. “Kun?” He asks, his voice barely louder than the wind. 

 

“Hmm?” Kun asks, the hum of his voice against Johnny’s neck causing a shiver to run down his back despite the humid summer air hanging around them. 

 

“Look at me?” Johnny asks, his voice cracking.

 

Kun pulls back from his spot, resting his head on his hand as he smiles up at Johnny, his other hand tracing patterns on the palm of Johnny’s open hand.

 

A few seconds of nervous silence pass before Kun laughs softly. 

 

“Johnny,” Kun starts mischief in his eyes, “stop beating around the bush and just kiss me already, you big idiot.”

 

So Johnny kisses him, and Kun tastes like cotton candy and root beer and it’s almost sickly sweet but it’s Kun and he smiles into the kiss and Kun’s hand cups the side of Johnny’s face and suddenly Johnny is just any other 18 year old sitting at the top of a ferris wheel kissing a pretty boy, and it’s so cliche he hates himself just a little bit for it.

 

But then Kun laughs into his mouth and runs his hand through Johnny’s hair and he feels like he should stop making fun of the shitty rom-coms his mom loves, because if fireworks exploded behind Kun’s head right now, or it started to rain and a twenty-piece orchestra appeared and started playing Bach, it would just somehow make sense. 



SEPTEMBER 2, 2012

 

“Shit,” Johnny mutters, turning down the volume as the radio turns to complete static, “I think we lost all of the stations.”

 

“Oh, oh my god, wait,” Kun says, his voice carrying an unlikely amount of enthusiasm for losing their only form of entertainment for who knows how long.

 

Johnny’s gaze flicks from the road over to the seat beside him to see the back of Kun’s head, his fingers busy tearing through the backpack at his feet. “Might I ask why?” Johnny asks suspiciously, focusing on the wheel as he drives down a narrow road. 

 

“I made something for you, actually, one sec,” Kun says distractedly. He makes a small noise of contentment when he finally finds it, pulling a CD out of his bag and holding it up for Johnny to see, CD in one hand, lollipop in the other. “Here we go,” Kun says. 

 

Johnny & Kun’s epic road trip to college, Johnny reads, written in red sharpie across the front of the CD. 

 

“You made that for me?” Johnny asks, ridiculously endeared. Always ridiculously endeared. 

 

“Maybe,” Kun responds, popping the lollipop back in his mouth, and Johnny can hear the smile in his voice, can picture a dimple popping into his right cheek. 

 

“You made me a mix?” Johnny asks again, a stupid grin now plastered on his face. 

 

“Yes, Johnny,” Kun laughs, popping the CD into Johnny’s car and changing the settings to CD player, “I made you a mix.” 

 

Kun sits back, propping his feet up on the dash as he reclines, the first notes of “Don’t Panic” by Coldplay seeping through the speakers. Johnny’s fingers automatically start tapping the wheel to the beat of the familiar song. 

 

“God, I want to kiss you so fucking bad right now,” Johnny whispers, his eyes flicking to the passenger seat briefly to see Kun smiling back at him, lollipop shoved in his cheek. 

 

“Next red light?” Kun asks, eyes bright with mischief. 

 

“Next red light,” Johnny responds, biting his bottom lip to keep the ridiculous smile threatening to break onto his face at bay, his hand finding Kun’s thigh across the console, squeezing it softly. 

 

Johnny wonders, then, if this is what it feels like to fall in love. 

 

——————————-

 

“You’re doing great,” Taeyong whispers, wiping his thumbs under Johnny’s eyes to wipe away his tears. “I’ve got you. I’m here.”

 

“Sorry,” Johnny says, his words muffled from where his face is pressed into Taeyong’s shirt. “I just haven’t… I guess I haven’t talked about him in a long time.”

 

“It’s okay, Johnny. Look at me, c’mon,” Taeyong says, pulling softly on the ends of Johnny’s hair so he untucks his head from Taeyong’s shoulder, “I’m not going anywhere, okay? It’s gonna be okay, I promise. You’re doing so well, Johnny, you can do this.”


Johnny nods, pain in his eyes. Taeyong runs a soothing hand through his hair as Johnny continues.

——————————



OCTOBER 15, 2012

 

“You two disgust me, you know?” Johnny hears from across the room, causing him to laugh, leaning further back into Kun to press an obnoxiously loud kiss on the underside of his jaw. 

 

“Aww, Tennie, you jealous or something?” Johnny coos, looking at his roommate from across their apartment, running a possessive hand over where Kun’s arm is slung low on his waist, causing Ten to roll his eyes. 

 

“In your dreams, John. In. Your. Dreams,” Ten laughs, walking back into the kitchen to grab his drink from where he left it next to the fridge. 

 

“Oh, please,” Johnny starts, lips curling up on one side tauntingly, “you want a kiss too, do ya, Tennie?” Johnny calls after him, mischief lacing his tone. 

 

Ten peeps his head out of the kitchen to fake gag, pointing a finger at his mouth before he takes a sip of his drink. 

 

“Yeah, I’d rather die.”

 

“Don’t listen to him, cherry.” Johnny turns back to Kun to press a kiss on the corner of his mouth before snuggling back into his chest, his head falling in the crook of Kun’s shoulder, “He’s just pissy because Lucas won’t ask him out on a date even though they’ve been hooking up like basically all semester.”

 

“Okay, first of all ,” Ten says, holding up an accusatory finger in Johnny’s direction, “If I wanted to go on a date with Lucas I would ask him out myself, I’m not a little bitch. And second of all,” Ten says, his voice dropping as he winks, plopping down on the sofa a safe distance away from where Johnny and Kun are cuddled up, “don’t be mistaken, John. I’d get on my knees for Kun any day, it’s you I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.”

 

Kun chokes on his drink at that, his laugh a deep rumble against Johnny’s back. 

 

“Thanks Tennie,” Kun says, a smile evident in his voice, raising his drink in Ten’s direction to clink his bottle.

 

“Asshole,” Johnny grumbles in Ten’s direction.

 

“Play nice,” Kun scolds softly, leaning forward to press a whisper of a kiss behind Johnny’s ear.



DECEMBER 3, 2012 

 

“God, you are such a little fuck ,” Kun shrieks, tears streaming from his eyes as he chases Johnny down, batter-covered spatula in hand. 

 

Johnny laughs even harder at the sound, turning around to see Kun hot on his trail, brownie batter splattered across the bridge of his nose from where Johnny had flicked the spoon at him seconds earlier. 

 

Johnny runs to the living room, squeezing between the coffee table and the makeshift Christmas tree, trying his hardest not to slip, his socks barely finding traction on the wooden floors. He makes a full lap around the room before he concedes, letting Kun tackle him to the sofa as they both fall into a tangle of limbs, a cacophony of laughter drowning out the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack playing from the kitchen.  

 

Johnny grabs Kun’s wrists as he tries desperately to smear the batter on Johnny’s face, wrestling the spatula out of Kun’s hand easily despite the smaller’s thrashing. With one hand around Kun’s wrists, Johnny uses his other to lick the batter off of the spoon before it can get on his face, or worse, the rug. Ten would never let him hear the end of it if Johnny ruined yet another thing in their apartment. 

 

Kun struggles against Johnny’s grip for a few seconds more before giving up with a dramatic huff, sitting back so he’s straddling Johnny’s waist, crossing his arms over his chest with a pout playing on his lips as soon as Johnny drops his wrists. 

 

“I can’t stand you,” Kun groans, his chest heaving from running around the apartment. He leans forward, his palms resting on Johnny’s chest, rich brown batter threatening to drip onto Johnny’s face from where it dangles precariously off of Kun’s nose. “You got it all over me, you little monster.”

 

Johnny smiles up at him as he sets the spoon on the table, moving his arms around Kun’s waist to tug him closer. 

 

“Now, now,” Johnny scolds, a hand dipping under Kun’s sweater in search of warmth, his fingertips dancing across his skin, “You don’t mean that.”

 

Kun shakes his head, a smile forming on his lips despite himself, his act crumbling, “No, no. I do. I really do. I hate you, John.” Kun leans forward to press a soft kiss on Johnny’s lips, leaning back and smoothing his hands over Johnny’s flour-covered sweater. 

 

“Yeah, okay. I love you too, baby,” Johnny responds with a gentle smile, the words flying from his lips before he realizes he’s said them out loud. His heart warms, knowing he means it, too. He means every single word. 

 

He loves Kun. 

 

Kun’s hands still on Johnny’s chest, his body going stiff as a board. Johnny’s breath catches as he searches Kun’s eyes, looking for a sign that he shouldn’t have said anything, or that it was too soon. 

 

Instead, Johnny finds tears in Kun’s eyes, the lights from the Christmas tree behind them reflecting in Kun’s brown irises, making it look like he holds the entire galaxy in his gaze. 

 

“You mean that?” Kun asks, his voice shocked as if it would come as a surprise to anyone that Johnny loves Kun more than anything else in the world. 

 

Johnny nods, reaching up to swipe the remaining batter off of Kun’s nose, smoothing his other hand through his bright red hair, laughing as Kun leans into the touch. 

 

“So what if I do?” Johnny responds, biting his bottom lip to calm the smile threatening to burst onto his face from finally saying the words out loud. “I love you, cherry boy.”

 

“Say it again,” Kun whispers, leaning forward to press his forehead against Johnny’s. 

 

“I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,” Johnny whispers, pressing kisses against every inch of Kun’s face he can reach. 

 

Kun laughs, collapsing onto Johnny’s chest as he whispers back, “ Fuck. I love you too, Johnny.”

 

———————————-

 

“He sounds wonderful,” Taeyong says, meaning every word. Anyone who could make Johnny feel so loved, make Johnny’s life so bright, leave such a big mark on him, had to have been a beautiful person inside and out. 

 

“Yeah,” Johnny replies, his voice soft, a small smile working onto his face, “Yeah, he really is. Sorry, was. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to using the past tense to talk about him.”

 

“It’s okay. I meant it though. It sounds like you two were perfect for each other,” Taeyong responds, a sad smile working onto his own face. 

 

Johnny pauses before continuing the story, the mood darkening slightly as he casts his eyes towards the end of the bed, away from Taeyong’s face.  

 

“Yeah, but, you know. We were so young, just two stupid college kids, and it wasn’t always so perfect…”

 

————————————

MARCH 2, 2013

 

“No,” Johnny says desperately, shaking his head furiously as he looks away from what Kun holds in his hands as he feels a wave of nausea rise, “Please. Please, no.”

 

“Can you not be selfish for one goddamn second of your life?” Kun screams, taking a step back, tears streaming down his face. 

 

“That’s not fucking fair,” Johnny yells back, knowing he’s going to regret yelling later, but not knowing what else to do. He feels betrayed, he feels hurt, and worst of all, he feels like Kun’s making it out to be his fault

 

“Do you want me to be happy, or not, Johnny?” Kun asks, his voice hitching as he looks up at Johnny, his brown eyes intense, even through the tears. 

 

Johnny looks away, wiping a hand furiously at his eyes. “How can you say that to me? Don’t stand there and fucking pretend like I don’t want you to get everything you ever wanted and more. You know that is not what this is about.”

 

“But, this is what I want, Johnny,  Kun says through gritted teeth, dropping the envelope at Johnny’s feet, the loud clap of the thick papers hitting the wooden floor causing Johnny to flinch. 

 

“I thought that I was what you wanted, Kun.” Johnny sobs, taking a step into Kun’s direction. Johnny realizes that he hadn’t even meant to say it, realizes that that was the reason he was so mad. 

 

The room is so quiet, Johnny can practically hear his own heart shattering, fissures forming, cracks that can’t be healed. 

 

“Gobelins is one of the best schools for animation in the entire world—” Kun starts, looking away before sniffling, realizing Johnny doesn’t want to hear that, that he probably knows, and is hurt anyway. “Maybe this isn’t working anymore,” Kun whispers, his voice raw from screaming, eyes glued to the floor. He won’t make eye contact with Johnny. 

 

“No, don’t say that. Please don’t say that,” Johnny whimpers, taking another step forward, about to fall to his knees and beg. He can’t lose Kun, he wouldn’t survive it. Kun is his person, the love of his life, the sun in his sky, the moon and all of the stars. Without him, Johnny would have nothing.

 

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Johnny,” Kun says softly, “I don’t know—”

 

“I just—” Johnny cuts in, finally right in front of Kun. He presses his forehead against Kun’s softly, a tear slipping from the bridge of his nose onto Kun’s cheek. “Why didn’t you tell me, baby? Why didn’t you tell me? ” Johnny whispers. 

 

Kun takes a shaky breath, shutting his eyes tightly as he pushes against Johnny’s forehead with his own, leaning into the touch, “Because I didn’t want this, I didn’t want to fight. I just, I—I knew you’d be so upset with me, so I couldn’t tell you. But I want it, Johnny. I want it so badly.”

 

“Of course I’m upset Kun. We are talking about you moving across the fucking world and you didn’t even tell me you were thinking about transfering,” Johnny says, leaning back to look into Kun’s eyes. Johnny wanders how long Kun has been thinking of transferring, of how long he’s wanted to leave California, leave Johnny. 

 

“Did you already accept it?” Johnny whispers, the lump returning in his throat. 

 

“I wanted to tell you, Johnny, I wanted so badly—” Kun whispers, eyes wide as he looks up into Johnny’s gaze. 

 

“Answer the question. Did. You. Accept. The. Offer. Already?” Johnny grits out, tears sliding down his cheeks.

 

Kun looks away first, another tear slipping from his eyes as he nods, defeat in the slump of his shoulders. 

 

Johnny runs a hand through his hair roughly, pulling on the ends as he tries to ground himself, as he tries not to just scream . He doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know what to do. What’s he supposed to do? 

 

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Johnny. I’m so sorry,” Kun whispers, and Johnny breaks, pulling him tightly into his arms, tucking his flash of red hair under his chin as they sob into each other.

 

“I’m sorry, too,” Johnny whispers into his hair, his eyes squeezed shut as he feels Kun tremble against him. 

 

“I love you,” Kun whispers from where he’s tucked against Johnny’s neck, the vulnerability in his voice causing Johnny’s heart to crack a little more. “And next year from across the world, I’ll love you just as much.” 

 

“Promise?” Johnny whispers back, tucking Kun tighter into his body, afraid to let go. 

 

“Always,” Kun says, pressing a soft kiss to Johnny’s neck, “Besides,” Kun starts, smiling against Johnny’s skin, despite the tears running down his cheeks.

 

“Hmm?” Johnny asks, feeling his own lips starting to curl into a soft smile subconsciously. 

 

“Now you have an excuse to come to Paris, to visit me,” Kun says, smiling against Johnny’s neck, “The city of love, with the love of my life. Doesn’t sound bad, does it?”

 

Johnny laughs into Kun’s hair, blinking away the remaining tears in his eyes.

 

“No, no it doesn’t sound too bad.” 

 

They’re going to be okay. They have to be. 



OCTOBER 28, 2013

 

“Kun, it’s one in the morning,” Johnny whines, “And I have a test tomorrow.”

 

“Your test is in the afternoon,” Kun smiles, reaching over to move his piece to another space, “and I haven’t won yet.”

 

“Baby,” Johnny groans, laying down on Kun’s thigh with a sigh, “we’ve been playing for like three hours.”

 

“Well,” Kun laughs, reaching down to run his hand through Johnny’s hair, laughing when he tugs on a strand and Johnny whines, “I’m probably close to winning, then.”

 

“Kun,” Johnny groans, exasperated. 

 

“Johnny,” He whispers back in the same tone. He smiles, “It’s your turn, bub.”

 

Johnny sighs but sits up and rolls the dice anyway, “You can’t even technically win Monopoly, can you? It’s like made to be never-ending” Johnny complains, reaching across the board to buy one of the last properties left on the board. 

 

“It’s not never-ending.” Kun rolls the dice, looking at Johnny with challenge in his gaze. “It will end when I win.”

 

“Can I please forfeit?” Johnny asks, sticking out his bottom lip in a pout, “Pretty please? You can be the winner.”

 

“No, Johnny, you can’t forfeit,” Kun smiles, moving his piece and handing Johnny the dice, leaning back on his hands.

 

Johnny sets the dice down with a sigh, getting onto his knees to crawl towards Kun, a smirk forming on his face as he watches Kun’s eyes darken. Johnny slides onto his lap, a knee on either side of Kun’s hips as he straddles him. 

 

“Johnny,” Kun warns, tossing his head back slightly to look Johnny in the eye. 

 

“Please,” Johnny whispers, smoothing his hands over Kun’s shoulders as he sinks forward, their hips aligning. “I forfeit, you win.” Johnny smiles, his thumb finding Kun’s lips, tracing the outline of them softly as he leans forward. 

 

Kun meets him halfway, the taste of cheap wine on his tongue as he licks into Johnny’s mouth. The pace of the kiss is painstakingly slow, and after a drawn out minute a breathy whine escapes from Johnny’s lips, his hips rolling forwards as he sighs into Kun’s mouth. 

 

Kun’s hands travel up the back of Johnny’s sweater, pressing his fingers into the dips of his spine, flattening Johnny to his body as he deepens the kiss, sucking Johnny’s lower lip into his mouth. 

 

“Your bed?” Johnny whispers when they break apart, trailing a line of kisses down the side of Kun’s neck, strands of cherry red hair twirled in his fingers. 

 

“But—” Kun whimpers, drawing back, his eyes flickering to the board game discarded on the floor next to them. 

 

Johnny laughs, pressing a quick peck against Kun’s lips. “We can finish monopoly tomorrow, baby. Promise.” 


————————————

 

“Are you sure you want to keep going?” Taeyong asks gently, thumbing lightly over Johnny’s cheekbone, sweeping the wetness from under his eyes, “It’s okay if you aren’t ready, baby.”

 

“I’m scared,” Johnny admits, his voice shaky. 

 

“You don’t have to,” Taeyong responds immediately. The last thing he wants to do is make Johnny relive the worst day of his life if he’s not ready yet. “You don’t have to tell me anything you aren’t ready to talk about.”

 

“It’s not that. It’s just, you won’t, I know you won’t…” Johnny pauses, his hand clenching in the front of Taeyong’s shirt. 

 

“I won’t what, baby?” Taeyong asks, brows furrowing. 

 

“You won’t look at me the same, Taeyong. And I’m scared to see the look on your face when you know what happened. I’m scared, because you’re going to hate me, because I deserve it. Because I don’t deserve you, Taeyong, I don’t.”

 

“Johnny. Look at me.” Taeyong slinks further down the bed, laying on the pillow so he can look Johnny in the eye, “I promise I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to hate you and I won’t leave you, I’m right here.”

 

“You don’t understand,” Johnny cries, looking away, “It was my fault, Taeyong. Kun died and it was all my fault.”

 

Johnny’s crying now, his words broken by heart-shattering sobs as he recalls the worst day of his life. 

 

Taeyong waits silently for him to continue, knowing Johnny needs to tell him at his own pace, and pushing him won’t accomplish anything. 

 

“We were fighting, again,” Johnny says, his voice choking up, “It had been hard for a while, with him preparing to go to a new school the next semester so far away and all. Some days it seemed like all we did was fight. We had our good days, and I’ll never forget the memories we made those last few months, but it was hard.

 

“I’m sorry,” Taeyong offers, honestly. Not that it meant anything, and not that it would help, but he was.

 

“Yeah,” Johnny whispers, “The day. Um, the day that it happened.” He swallows hard, taking a deep breath, “We had plans to go to my parents house for dinner. It was one of those times everyone was going to be home, you know— Hyuckie, and my parents, and everyone— and it was supposed to be a sending off party of sorts, for Kun. His last week in the states before he went off to Paris.” Johnny’s voice cracks as he sniffles, the tears now streaming onto the pillow. 

 

“But, about a half hour before we were supposed to leave, we were at his place. And it was awful, Yong,” Johnny whispers. “It was probably the worst fight we ever had, all screaming and crying and I… I —and I just remember being blinded by rage. We were fighting about something stupid about him leaving, I don’t even remember, but it escalated quickly.” 

 

Johnny tenses, and Taeyong holds his breath, trying not to cry. 

 

“I think that was his biggest flaw, the anger. He was so hot-headed, and I just fed into it. I knew how to push his buttons, and I knew what would upset him, and I knew how to make it hurt. And I hurt him, Taeyong. He told me that I was jealous,” Johnny laughs, a humorless sound, “that I was jealous of his opportunity and that he was going to be happier without me, without California. And I blew up, because I had had enough of him telling me he’d be happier without me. So I told him, god, I feel sick even thinking about it, Fuck. I told him he didn’t deserve it, his scholarship, the school. Can you believe that? I told him he didn’t deserve his dream and then I threw his keys at his feet, and told him to drive himself, even though I knew he was upset. Even though I knew he’d been crying, and it was about to rain, and he wouldn’t be able to see. That—” Johnny sobs, his voice cracking, “That he wouldn’t be safe, driving like that.”

 

Taeyong tries to swallow the knot in his throat, willing the tears to go away. 

 

“He knew I didn’t mean it, obviously I didn’t mean it, but it hurt him nonetheless. I could hear him crying, but I didn’t look back. He said, he called after me, “I love you, I’m sorry,” and I got in my car and slammed the door and fucking drove away without saying anything else. I didn’t say it back. And I got to my parents house and I had cooled off by then, and I regretted it. Of course I did, I had just hurt someone I loved. So I sat on my parents' doorstep, and waited.” Johnny’s voice drops to a whisper. “I waited, and I waited, and he never came.”

 

Taeyong feels a tear drift down his cheek and sniffles, thumbing away the tears that are still pouring out of Johnny’s eyes. 

 

He never came , Yong,” Johnny cries, tucking his head into Taeyong’s shoulder, “and the last thing I ever said to him was ‘I don’t want to see you right now.’ That was the last thing he ever heard me say before he died, Taeyong. And I will never forgive myself for that. I was the reason he got in that car, and I was the reason he was crying, and I was the reason he didn’t see the stop sign, or the car that killed him.”

 

Taeyong can feel Johnny shaking in his arms as he pulls him closer, “It’s okay, It’s okay, shhh,” he whispers clutching Johnny as close to his heart as he can. “I’m here, it’s okay, let it out.”

 

“He’s dead, Taeyong,” Johnny sobs, his words broken. 

 

“I know, baby, I know,” Taeyong whispers back, “I’m so sorry. I'm so sorry you had to go through that.” Taeyong can’t imagine it, losing someone he loves. 

 

“And it happened again, today, Taeyong. I was so mad at myself and I took it out on you, and I’m so, so sorry. I watched you get upset and all I could think about was how I ruin every good thing I have. And, I… I—” Johnny breaks off, his voice cracking as he stumbles over his words. 

 

Taeyong shakes his head, pulling Johnny closer as he starts to break down again. Taeyong understands, he does. Johnny doesn’t need to say anything he’s not ready for. 

 

“Johnny, it’s okay, it’s okay, babe,” Taeyong whispers against his hair, “I forgive you. Kun forgives you, I know he does. He loved you so much, baby, and he knew you loved him too. You don’t need to say anything else, we can, we can talk more tomorrow. I’m not going anywhere.” 

 

But Johnny pulls back, shaking his head slightly, “No, I need to say this. Kun was my everything once, and losing that, losing him,” Johnny takes a shaky breath, “I didn’t know if I would ever be the same. I thought that the Johnny I was, the Johnny he loved… I thought that Johnny had died right there with him.”

 

“I’m glad that he didn’t,” Taeyong says honestly, a small smile pulling at his lips as he thinks about all of the memories he and Johnny made this week, of the Johnny he started to know, the Johnny he was falling in love with. 

 

“I’m glad he didn’t too,” Johnny says softly, “I like you, Taeyong. And it terrifies me. I just need a little more time.”

 

Taeyong makes a face and Johnny laughs softly, clarifying. 

 

“Not— not to get over him. It’s been six years, and I know he’s gone. I’m thankful for what we had together, and I miss him, of course, I miss him all the time and I think I’ll always love him, but I’ve moved on. It’s not that. It’s just —” Johnny pauses, looking away, emotion creeping back into his voice. “What I feel for you? It’s not casual, Yong. It’s big and all encompassing and, and… I like you, god I like you so, so fucking much, but it’s so god damn scary to admit that to myself. To admit that despite all my better judgement, I’m letting myself fall for someone this deeply again. It’s scary because, I think…” Johnny trails off, turning his head into Taeyong’s palm as another tear slips from the corner of his eye.

 

“Because what, Johnny?” Taeyong asks. Because he’s scared too. 

 

“Because, Taeyong. I think it would ruin me if I ever lost you. It would ruin me and I don’t think I would ever find myself again.”

 

“It scares me too,” Taeyong says, pressing a delicate kiss on the line between Johnny’s eyebrows. “To fall so quickly, and so deeply.”

 

Johnny smiles up at Taeyong, then, pressing a kiss on his forehead in turn. “It wasn’t quite so sudden, for me.” Johnny has a sheepish grin on his face and Taeyong wants to kiss him so badly it aches in every fibre of his being, but he forces the words out, because despite himself, he’s curious. 

 

“What’s that mean?”

 

“It means I think I fell for you a little bit despite it all. I think it started the second you showed up to Mark and Hyuck's place like a thousand years late covered in flour then proceeded to get so mad at me you looked like you were plotting my demise. Always so violent, my Taeyong.”

 

“You were mean to me,” Taeyong whines, pressing his face into Johnny’s shoulder, “How was I supposed to react? You took one look at me in my apron and thought I was some bug to squash.”

 

“That is not what I thought when I took one look at you in that apron,” Johnny challenges, pressing another kiss into Taeyong’s temple. 

 

“No?” Taeyong challenges, pulling back to raise an eyebrow. 

 

“No, let me tell you what really happened.”



JUNE 11, 2018 

 

“Donghyuck,” Johnny snaps. His tone is harsh, unforgiving. It’s a voice he rarely lets himself use around his brother, something reserved for work meetings and fights with Seulgi. “You being an ass isn’t going to help anything.”

 

Johnny’s tired. It’s late and the stress in the room isn’t helping the stress he was already feeling, with today being that day, on top of having a stressful day at work, and a stressful life at home, his relationship with Seulgi rockier than ever.

 

So, Donghyuck telling Johnny that he thinks Seulgi is “a bloodsucking, heartless viper who doesn’t actually care about you” certainly wasn’t helping.  

 

Hyuck sighs, his hands dropping to his sides in defeat, “I’m sorry, Johnny. I just—”

 

Want the best for me , I know, Hyuck.”  

 

“And you really think it’s her?” Hyuck asks, soft and apologetic, like he already knows Johnny’s answer is no. 

 

Johnny’s silence is answer enough. 

 

Mark comes over a second later, his voice low, quiet in a way Johnny’s not used to. 

 

“Donghyuck, he’s not answering.” Is what Mark says, and Johnny recognizes that tone. Johnny knows that tone because the desperation, the quiet fear that laces every syllable matches that of his own, two years ago, today. 

 

Johnny doesn’t miss the way Hyuck’s eyes flash towards him at the words before they slot back over to Mark, bringing him into a soft hug. 

 

“He’s fine,” Donghyuck says, his voice firm, no room for argument. “He’s just running late. He’s probably still working, Mark, you know how Taeyong is.”

 

Taeyong. 

 

Johnny realizes he’s heard so much about Mark’s older brother in the long time he’s known him, but never actually seen him. 

 

Donghyuck drags Mark away, likely to calm him down, leaving Johnny to sip on his drink and just think , something he doesn’t get much of a chance for these days. 

 

It’s about three hours later when Taeyong finally shows up, in a flurry of apologies and flour and vibrant hair that makes Johnny’s heart stop dead in his chest. 

 

Because his hair is cherry red. 

 

Johnny feels sick to his stomach, and the stress of the day suddenly feels like it might just overcome him if he doesn’t just go home and sleep. 

 

And then Taeyong is walking towards him, and Hyuck is walking away towards Mark who looks like he could murder somebody, and Johnny can’t bring himself to smile or hold out his hand, or be charming in any way, because he’s trapped in the corner of the room like a wild animal with Taeyong, and he doesn’t know if he’s still breathing anymore. 

 

And then Taeyong speaks, and Johnny wants to die all over again, because his voice is deep, way deeper than Johnny expected, and it’s pretty, and everything Mark has told him about Taeyong wanting to make music suddenly makes complete sense. 

 

“I’m Taeyong,” he says, his lips curling up into a smile. And, Johnny… Johnny doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know what to think because the only thing he can think is  holy shit Taeyong is so fucking pretty. Everything about him is pretty, from his doe eyes to his pink lips to the smattering of flour on his cheek that Johnny aches to brush off with the back of his hand, to the way his red hair curls at the nape of his neck, his roots growing out in an adorable way that Seulgi would probably scoff at. 

 

Johnny aches and it feels dangerous. Dangerous because he’s feeling for the first time in who knows how long. 

 

“I know,” Johnny responds, dumbly, because his stomach hurts and he doesn’t know if he can say anything else without getting sick, and he’s wearing the suit that Seulgi gave him for his birthday that makes him look like an asshole but fits him so perfectly it’s ridiculous, and if he threw up on it she’d be so mad she’d probably order his execution, and Johnny just can’t handle another headache.

 

“You look nothing like how I expected,” Johnny says stupidly, because he’s an idiot and Taeyong is gorgeous and Johnny can never hold his tongue around pretty boys, and that’s what got him in the whole mess in the first place. He takes a long sip of his drink and hopes his voice doesn’t betray his thoughts, and to be fair, Taeyong doesn’t look anything like Johnny expected, not at all. Mark is all knit sweaters and styled black hair and soft words and uncontrollable laughter, and Taeyong… Taeyong is all dark brown eyes lined in black and pink lips and firetruck red hair and dangerous butterflies in his stomach and more earrings than Johnny can count, little silver flashes that sit delicately on his lobes, and God, Johnny wants him, and he hates himself for even thinking it. 

 

Johnny looks away. 

 

“I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean,” Taeyong mutters under his breath and Johnny wants to laugh because he doesn’t know either, and then it’s quiet and Johnny starts to panic because he can see out of the corner of his eyes that Taeyong is looking at him. 

 

Johnny latches on to the first thing he sees, which happens to be Mark, looking at him with his head cocked, probably noticing that Johnny looks like he’s seen a ghost, because maybe he has, and he says the first thing he can think of. 

 

“Mark was upset to hear you weren’t coming,” Johnny says quickly. The thought leaves a bad taste in his mouth because Mark hadn’t been upset, he had been scared. Mark had been terrified because Taeyong had promised him he would be here, and he hadn’t shown up, and Johnny can feel the anger rising in him at the thought, because he knows what it feels like for that promise to be broken. But he shakes the thought out of his head before he lets it ruin him, and thinks about what the fuck else he could talk about, leaving him with work, because nothing is more boring than work, and it will distract him from all of the things he’s trying not to feel. 

 

So he continues, "Good time management is an important virtue, you know. It’s the first thing that a lot of people look for in jobs these days,” and he smiles at the thought, having said the same words to one of his employees this morning when they had shown up late, and he looks down at Taeyong, and his smile grows just a little bit more. 

 

Because Taeyong looks like he wants to murder Johnny, and all Johnny can think about is how fucking cute he looks. 

 

Taeyong tries to interject, “I’ll have you know I have excellent time management—” But Johnny keeps going, because Taeyong keeps looking more and more mad, and Johnny wants to laugh because he hasn’t had this much fun in years, and Taeyong looks like steam is about to come out of his ears, and all Johnny wants to do is kiss him. 

 

Then he remembers that Mark had told him that Taeyong was a musician of some sort, a producer, or something, and Johnny takes one look at Taeyong in his apron, covered head to toe in flour and gets even more confused.  

 

“What is it that you do, again, that you couldn’t make time for your baby brother’s big party?” Johnny asks, realizing belatedly that it came out ruder than his mild curiosity had intended, but Taeyong’s hands were clenched into adorable little fists by his side, so Johnny thinks maybe it was worth it. 

 

“I currently wait tables at Frank’s, but I'm trying to go into music production,” Taeyong responds quietly, and Johnny can hear his heart shattering, because Taeyong’s eyes cast down towards with something that looks a lot like shame, and Johnny wants to pick his head back up and tell him that he believes in him, and that he’ll make it, and that he’s proud he’s working hard to support his dreams. 

 

Because he never got to tell Kun that he believed in him, that he wanted him to chase his dreams, and then Kun never got to accomplish his dreams because… Johnny feels his throat tighten and shakes his head.

 

Taeyong is not him, Johnny reminds himself, gritting his teeth. He’s dead and it’s your fault. Kun is dead. It’s not him. Get it together. 

 

“I see,” Johnny responds when he realizes it’s been too long to have not responded, and his voice comes out cold, flat. 

 

“What do you do, Johnny?” Taeyong asks, and Johnny can hear how much Taeyong had to force the words out just to be polite even though Johnny had given him no reason to be nice to him. 

 

“I’m an investment banker at Goldman Sachs,” and Johnny smiles at the ridiculously pompous way that sounds, and he wants to laugh, he really wants to laugh out loud, because he’s become everything a younger Johnny would have hated. 

 

He’s a suit, and an asshole, and he’s wearing something silky and tailored that Seulgi probably could’ve used the money to feed a small army with instead, and he has a rolex on his god damned wrist and he hates his miserable life, and — speaking of his miserable life — he wants to go home and sleep, possibly forever, because he just wants today to end. 

 

He spots Seulgi over Taeyong’s shoulder and calls her over and tells her with a smile on his face so fake he hates that too that they should leave. 

 

And Donghyuck was right, of course, because Seulgi is terrible and Johnny isn’t happy, rather the opposite, but Johnny deserves this life, because he’s the one that created it.

 

And Taeyong… Taeyong deserves so much more, so Johnny turns and leaves without another word.

————————————

 

“Seulgi…” Johnny starts, his fingertips ghosting over Taeyong’s hip as he searches for comfort, “she wasn’t—we weren’t—perfect, I know. And I know she wasn’t the best person, I know that, too. But, she saved me, Yong.”

 

Taeyong reaches down, twining his fingers with Johnny’s, resting their hands on the bed between them, I’m with you, I hear you. 

 

Johnny swipes a thumb over the back of Taeyong’s hand in a silent show of thanks and continues, “I dropped out of film school because every single hallway, every single idea, thought, memory I had in the place was plagued by the loss of Kun, and I was breaking my heart every day I was forced to live that life without him. I lost sight of my dream, Taeyong. He was my future, and when he died, nothing really mattered anymore. I started failing all of my classes and I stopped doing the things that made me happy. I stopped watching movies, stopped going out, stopped hiking, stopped seeing my friends, lost touch with Ten, my family. I was just a shell of who I used to be, and I had no purpose. I applied to school across the country, as far away as I could get, and it still wasn’t enough.

 

“Until… until I met Seulgi. She was sarcastic, and beautiful, and patient and she wanted something that I could give her, and never asked for more. She was never going to be the great love of my life, but she picked me up at the lowest point in my life and put me back on my feet, and I’ll always be thankful for that. I was brittle and mean, and money-driven, and I hated myself every second of every day, but I was alive, and she was there for me, through it all. She made the pain ebb, for a while, and I think I became addicted to that feeling. I could provide for her, and I could make her happy, and it didn’t matter to me that I didn’t love her like I loved Kun because we had each other and I thought that was enough. 

 

“Seulgi made me numb, Taeyong,” Johnny says, eyes bearing into Taeyong’s soul, “But god, you make me feel.”

 

“I thought you hated me,” Taeyong whispers, his heart in his throat.

 

“I think I did, for a while,” Johnny responds, a sad smile pulling at the corners of his lips, “But I hated myself more. I took one look at you and I wanted to give you the world, and that wasn’t something I ever honestly thought I would feel again. God, I wanted to make you mad, and I wanted to make you smile, and I was drunk on the sound of your laugh. I wanted you in a way I never let myself want Seulgi. You made me want to love again.”

 

“I’m not Kun,” Taeyong whispers, not trusting himself to say it any louder, the mere thought of trying to fill the Kun sized hole in Johnny’s heart making his own heart ache. “I’m never going to be him.”

 

“Taeyong,” Johnny whispers, scooting closer to press his forehead against Taeyong’s, pulling his body in close and wrapping him up in his arms, his warmth surrounding Taeyong. “You are more than I could ever hope for, and far more than I deserve. You are the answer to my dreams and my prayers, and my God, I want to be selfish with you. I want it all — you make me want and hope and dream and more than it all, you make me feel, god you make me feel. You make me want to be better. You make me better. I don’t want you to be Kun, because I want you to be you, unapologetically. I want you, Taeyong, nothing and nobody else.”

 

“Shut up,” Taeyong whispers, pressing a kiss on the corner of Johnny’s lips, running a shaking finger around the edge of Johnny’s lips, tracing the shape so he never forgets it. “You’re going to make me cry again.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Johnny whispers, meeting his eyes, and Taeyong feels the weight of his words. They ask for a fresh start, for the forgiveness that Taeyong gave him long ago, and they promise happiness. They promise Johnny, and that’s all Taeyong can imagine he could ever want. 

 

“I know,” Taeyong responds, and that’s enough. “I want you, too, Johnny.”

 

And that’s enough for Johnny too, because he leans forward and catches Taeyong’s lips in a kiss that heals the cracks in his heart, and soothes his soul, and dries his tears. He kisses like he’s starving, and Taeyong responds, his fingers catching in Johnny's hair, tugging his head up so it slots perfectly against his mouth. 

 

Taeyong whimpers, a small desperate noise from the back of his throat, and Johnny shudders, flipping them so he hovers over Taeyong, kissing him deeper, harder. Johnny tastes like coffee and salt and Taeyong wants to drown in it, wants to drown in him.

 

Johnny pulls back minutes later, running his hand through Taeyong’s hair as a smile starts to break out, a tiny dimple forming like a whisker high on his cheek. Taeyong wants to kiss it, so he does, because he can now. He gets drunk on the idea that he can kiss Johnny just because. 

 

“What?” Taeyong asks with a laugh, pressing another featherlight kiss to Johnny’s cheek. 

 

“I just can’t believe you actually drove Tina,” Johnny laughs, “My poor baby, she didn’t deserve that.”

 

“You asshole,” Taeyong laughs, pushing up on his elbows to smack Johnny’s chest, “I took excellent care of her.”

 

“I’m gonna have to check her for dents tomorrow morning, aren’t I?” Johnny continues, shit-eating grin only spreading.

 

Taeyong rolls his eyes, pushing Johnny onto his back and settling onto his chest as he yawns, sleep threatening to take over him. “You’re such a little shit. And to think I put in the effort to come and find you.”

 

“I’m glad you found me,” Johnny says softly, pressing a kiss on Taeyong’s forehead. 

 

And he was.

 

The promise of a better tomorrow lingers in the air as they fall asleep wrapped in each other's arms, their feelings raw and scratchy and new, but real and aching, a tentative red line of string blooming between their souls. 

 

And when Johnny whispers into the midnight air, “Goodnight, Taeyongie,” Taeyong smiles against his skin and whispers back, “Goodnight, Johnny.” 




Chapter Text

Taeyong wonders how he went twenty five whole years without experiencing this — the easy beauty of waking up next to Johnny sleeping soundly, just inches away from him. 

 

The first light is still seeping in through the windows, the lightest honeyed orange splaying across the comforter and cresting over Johnny’s upper lip. It follows the lines of Johnny’s angular face, illuminating the slope of his nose and catching on every eyelash, skin glowing in amber hues that Taeyong aches to reach out and trace. 

 

Taeyong sighs, committing the sight to memory. 

 

He’s never felt a moment quite so perfectly still. There is no chirping of birds, or wind blowing tree branches against the window, or even the tell-tale creaks of his apartment’s old wooden floors settling, just the soft noises coming from Johnny’s mouth as he dreams and the thundering of Taeyong’s thoughts in his brain as he watches him. 

 

Taeyong’s pretty sure he loves Johnny. If this isn’t love, it’s something awfully close.   

 

He’s also pretty sure that Johnny loves him, too. He’s not sure why, exactly, but he imagines Johnny’s loved him for quite some time now. 

 

The thought makes Taeyong smile, the smallest twitch of his lips, corners pulling up and eyes crinkling at their sides. 

 

And Taeyong’s tempted to say it. Tempted to lean over and press a kiss to Johnny’s brow, whispering the three words into the morning air.

 

I love you. 

 

Taeyong can picture it now — Johnny’s mouth slipping into his familiar grin, cheeks whiskering and flushing the slightest petal pink, eyes wide with surprise and laced with wonder. He would probably gasp, too, a little breath of air slipping from his lips. Or maybe Johnny would surge forward and kiss him, an I love you, too whispered onto Taeyong’s lips like a prayer. Or maybe he’d do nothing at all, just lay there and stare at Taeyong with emotion heavy in his eyes, tears brimming at the corners. 

 

And Taeyong can feel that moment, can feel the anticipation of those three words buzzing in the air every time Johnny looks at him. And Taeyong wants to say it, he does. He wants to claim those three words as his own and shout them into the air, letting the whole world know that he is desperately, stupidly in love with Johnny Suh. 

 

Taeyong closes his eyes, that same soft smile pulling at his lips, and goes back to sleep, head on Johnny’s chest.

 

Because Johnny’s eyes are shut and his lips are parted, the slightest of snores tumbling from the back of his throat, and his fingers are laced loosely in Taeyong’s and he knows that they have all of the time in the world for I love you’s.



☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

“Hey, Johnny?” Taeyong asks, grinning.

 

He’s been grinning since Johnny woke him back up with a hot chocolate and a kiss, the briefest press of his lips on Taeyong's that screamed domesticity and made Taeyong’s toes curl under the sheets. 

 

“Yes, Taeyong,” Johnny responds softly, rubbing his towel over his head before shaking his bangs out like a dog. 

 

Taeyong’s still grinning when he speaks again. 

 

“It’s kinda cold today right?”

 

Johnny pauses, eyebrows rising. “Define cold.”

 

“Like breezy? A slight chill, at the very least,” Taeyong says, words measured as he tilts his head slightly. 

 

“I think the high is like over a hundred,” Johnny responds slowly, one eyebrow still arched. 

 

“And the low?”

 

“Taeyong,” Johnny laughs, “I don’t know, seventies? Low eighties? Do I look like the weatherman?”

 

Taeyong hums, pretending to consider it. “No, you’re cuter than the weatherman.”

 

“I’m glad,” Johnny smiles, disappearing into the bathroom, “I'm pretty sure he was pushing seventy-five.”

 

“I don’t know,” Taeyong shrugs, still fucking grinning, “He was kinda a silver fox. Sexy motherfucker for seventy-five years old. You should’ve just taken the compliment.”

 

Johnny laughs, the rich sound echoing off of the tiled walls. “What’s with the sudden interest in the weather, baby?”

 

Taeyong ignores the way his stomach does a stupid little flip at the way the word baby sounds coming from Johnny’s mouth. 

 

“I want to wear the Instantfunk,” Taeyong responds, his smile only growing when Johnny pops his head back out of the bathroom to stare at Taeyong like he’s lost his mind, toothbrush sticking out of the corner of his mouth. 

 

Maybe he has lost his mind, just a little. 

 

“You want to wear a sweatshirt... in possibly one hundred degree weather?” Johnny asks, finally. 

 

“It’s soft, ” he argues. And it smells like you, Taeyong adds silently. 

 

“Fine, psycho,” Johnny laughs, turning the faucet back on, “it’s in the top of my suitcase. Feel free to grab it.”

 

Taeyong hops off the bed with a pleased hum to go get it and a few moments later he's drowning in a mile of worn navy cotton that smells like citrus and pine.

 

Taeyong sighs contentedly and crawls back in bed, watching Johnny dry his hair in the reflection of the bathroom mirror while flipping through tv channels mindlessly.

 

He settles on Animal Planet.

 

“Hey, Johnny?” Taeyong calls, head rolling to the side to make eye contact with Johnny in the mirror. Johnny glares back at him as he sighs and turns the hairdryer off, but responds nonetheless. 

 

Yes , Taeyong?”

 

"Do you think my apartment will let me get a pet peacock?" Taeyong asks, head cocked to the side as he watches Johnny's eyes widen and he tries not to laugh at the expression. 

 

"A what?" Johnny asks, turning around to look at Taeyong with furrowed brows.

 

"A peacock," Taeyong repeats, nodding his head toward the tv. "They're doing a special on them on some show on Animal Planet."

 

"You want a … peacock," Johnny repeats slowly, eyes never leaving Taeyong's face.

 

"Well, who wouldn't?" Taeyong asks, all pouty eyes and played-up frown. He sighs. "They're so pretty , Johnny."

 

"Right..." Johnny starts trailing off, that same I'm concerned about you look on his face. Taeyong kinda wants to walk over and kiss the expression off of him, but at the same time he’s pretty amused by Johnny thinking he’s nuts, so he keeps going. 

 

"Right, so I need one," Taeyong finishes.

 

"You told me that your apartment won't even let you have a dog ," Johnny reminds him, raising an eyebrow.

 

"Well, they didn't say anything about peacocks, now did they?" 

 

"Yong, I don't think—”

 

"I think I'll name him Feathers," Taeyong muses, biting back his smirk at the scowl on Johnny's face at being talked over. "Or maybe Rupert."

 

"Rupert?" Johnny repeats, voice pitched up and slightly exasperated.

 

"It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?" Taeyong asks, grinning before flicking his eyes back to the tv. 

 

"No, I don't think. 'Rupert the peacock' most definitely does not have a nice ring to it," Johnny responds, shaking his head lightly. 

 

"You're no fun," Taeyong grumbles, laughing when Johnny flips him off before returning to drying his hair.

 

The show ends and Taeyong turns the tv off, scrolling through his Instagram feed until he sees Johnny coming out of the bathroom, black hair finally dry and hanging in subtle waves across his forehead. 

 

Taeyong’s still not used to seeing him  dressed in casual clothes and donning easy smiles; the corporate, suited-up, stiff, asshole Johnny is nowhere in sight. He looks better like this, his muscles filling out soft cotton shirts, his jeans fitting his legs in that deliriously sexy way that suit pants never could. Taeyong also kinda wants to run his hands through Johnny’s hair, the soft waves falling over his eyebrows with no gel to hold them back making him want to grab the silky black strands and tug. Taeyong wonders if Johnny would like that, his hair being tugged. He wonders what he would sound like. Taeyong’s mouth runs dry at the thought. 

 

Johnny would probably let him if he asked. 

 

Taeyong wonders what else Johnny would let him do as he puts his phone aside and smiles up at him, making grabby motions with his hands as he beckons Johnny to sit.

 

“Johnny?” Taeyong asks, smiling when Johnny sits on the edge of the bed and pulls Taeyong's feet into his lap.

 

“Yes, Taeyong,” Johnny responds with a sigh.

 

"Do you think—” Taeyong starts, sucking his bottom lip into his mouth as he thinks about how to word the question without Johnny pushing him off the bed.

 

"This better not be about Rupert the peacock," Johnny responds with a small laugh, thumb sweeping lightly over Taeyong's ankle.

 

"Shut up," Taeyong giggles, kicking Johnny's side lightly before returning his feet to his lap.

 

"Do I think what?" Johnny asks, giving in.

 

"That, maybe, I don't know—” Taeyong trails off, trying desperately not to grin. Johnny is definitely going to push him off the bed.

 

"Spit it out, T," Johnny says with a light, teasing groan.

 

"I want you to fuck me, Johnny. Like now… right now, on top of this hideous comforter and everything," Taeyong says, voice low as he stares at Johnny's eyes, the amber hue darkening as his gaze hardens at Taeyong’s words. "Do you think we could do that? Do you think we have time?"

 

"Christ, Taeyong," Johnny chokes out, looking away from his face as a small blush rises to his cheeks. 

 

Taeyong beams at the sight.

 

"What?" Taeyong asks, "I could suck your dick instead. I owe you one, after all. Can't have us uneven."

 

"Taeyong," Johnny warns, hand clasped around Taeyong's ankle. He looks torn, like he’d consider leaving late and that only makes Taeyong want him more. His Johnny, making bad decisions because he wants him. The thought stirs something low in his core. 

 

"No?" Taeyong purrs, pulling his feet back and sitting up, "I can be fast."

 

"Taeyong," Johnny repeats, insistent and more than a little rough.

 

"Johnny," Taeyong responds, crawling forward on his hands and knees and leaning in slightly, his lips hovering over Johnny’s as his heart pounds against his ribcage, anticipation and lust causing his body to hum with need. "I want you."

 

"Jesus fucking Christ," Johnny swears, and then he’s pushing Taeyong onto his back, hovering over him and pressing him hard into the mattress as he kisses him, teeth clashing as they rush to get their mouths on one another, desperate and messy and fucking good . Johnny’s tongue slides past his lips, claiming his mouth aggressively as his hands scrape down Taeyong’s sides, his hips pressing hard into Taeyong’s in a desperate slide. 

 

Taeyong grins into the kiss, his fingers raking up Johnny’s back and into his hair. Taeyong remembers his thoughts from earlier and grabs a fistful of black hair and tugs. And, Christ, the fucking noise that Johnny makes is better than anything Taeyong could’ve imagined, a low broken moan catapulting from the back of his throat that Taeyong swallows, Johnny’s teeth catching Taeyong’s bottom lip and tugging. 

 

“Fuck, ” Taeyong whimpers, head lolling back onto the mattress when Johnny drags his hands down to Taeyong’s knees, folding them around his waist as he kisses a sloppy line down Taeyong’s neck.

 

Taeyong’s hands drift up the front of Johnny’s shirt, marveling at the way his muscles shift under his touch. Johnny moans into the kiss when Taeyong’s knuckles brush against his nipple and Taeyong chases the noise, his core throbbing at the sound. He wants more

 

But before Taeyong realizes what’s happening, Johnny’s gone, snapped back to his side of the bed and staring back at him like he doesn’t know whether to keep going or stop. Johnny’s hair is ruffled and his eyes are glazed over, his shirt still pushed up on his stomach and his chest heaving as he catches his breath. He looks ruined, and Taeyong wants more. 

 

"You're a fucking menace," Johnny groans, voice hoarse as he stands on shaky feet and not so subtly adjusts his pants. "Go finish packing, please . We have to get on the road soon and if we start anything now we are literally never leaving. I won’t be able to, okay?"

 

Taeyong sighs, sliding off of the bed as he grumbles under his breath, frustrated and turned on. 

 

"No fucking fun," he mutters, picking up his sleep shirt and folding it to put in his suitcase with a huff.

 

"Later," Johnny promises, voice low and gravelly and causing a flurry inside of Taeyong's chest. “I’ll give you anything you want, okay? Just a little longer, T. You know I want you, too. I really fucking want you.”

 

Taeyong buzzes at the thought.

 

A few minutes later he's zipping up his last few things into his backpack and standing up, turning to smile at Johnny from across the room.

 

“Hey, J—”

 

"No. Do not finish that fucking sentence,” Johnny warns, pointing an accusatory finger at Taeyong. 

 

Taeyong stops, pouting up at Johnny and waiting for him to cave.

 

One second, two seconds, three...

 

Johnny sighs, "Fine, God, what now Taeyong?"

 

It's the puppy-dog eyes. They always work.

 

"I'm just really, really happy," Taeyong says gently, voice incredibly small and shy and honest .

 

"Oh," Johnny says, visibly softening. He steps forward to pull Taeyong into a hug and presses a light kiss onto his forehead before hooking his chin over Taeyong's head. "I'm really happy too, baby."

 

"Yeah?" Taeyong asks, grinning into Johnny's chest as his hands clench in the soft fabric of Johnny's shirt.

 

"Yes, Taeyong," Johnny laughs softly, pressing another kiss to his forehead before pulling back, "Now what do you say we go get some breakfast and get on the road?"

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong flips down the mirror, staring at his reflection in mild horror as Johnny pulls out of the parking lot. 

 

“Oh my god, I look fucking horrible,” Taeyong comments, gaze lingering on how puffy his eyes are, likely from crying pretty much all of yesterday. He hadn’t bothered to look in the mirror much this morning, too busy looking at Johnny. 

 

“Oh, be quiet,” Johnny says, leaning forward to check for traffic before turning onto the road. “You’re beautiful.”

 

“Shut up,” Taeyong groans, cheeks heating at the sudden compliment. “I look like I was run over with a car.”

 

Johnny laughs, a hand absentmindedly drifting from the wheel to pat Taeyong’s thigh. 

 

“Speaking of cars—” Johnny starts, eyes cutting over to Taeyong. 

 

“Oh, don’t even,” Taeyong whines, “I told you I took care of Tina. She’s in literally perfect condition, I don’t wanna hear it. Not a single scratch on her.”

 

“I didn’t even say anything,” Johnny says, grinning from the driver’s seat as he returns his hand to the wheel.

 

“I could feel it coming.”

 

“You’re ridiculous,” Johnny goads, that same endlessly amused smile pulling at his lips. 

 

You love me anyway, Taeyong almost says. He bites his lip. 

 

“Maybe,” He says instead. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong is bored

 

Johnny told him that they have to go about eight hours today, and if they want to make it to Agoura Hills before dinner then they have to drive through the traffic while it’s still light outside, meaning a late lunch and lots of hours on the road in a row. 

 

So he gets it, he does. But God, he’s bored. 

 

“Johnny, I’m bored,” Taeyong whines. 

 

Johnny laughs, not deigning to answer. 

 

“No, seriously,” Taeyong starts, putting his feet on the dash and stretching, hearing his bones crack when he flattens his spine. He notes that Johnny doesn’t say anything about his feet getting the dash dirty, and smiles at the thought. “I don’t know how we did this for so many days in like complete silence. It’s actually killing me. I’m so bored I could scream.”

 

“Then scream,” Johnny says, a crooked grin pulling at his lips. 

 

“Smartass,” Taeyong groans, rolling his eyes. 

 

Smartass or not, I don’t know what you want me to do about it.”

 

“Entertain me,” Taeyong begs. 

 

“How?” Johnny asks, laughing. He looks at Taeyong before patting his fingers on the wheel. “There’s not really much I can do while I’m driving, baby.”

 

“Play a game with me?” Taeyong suggests. Johnny and that stupid word. Baby. Taeyong’s heart skips a stupid beat in his chest. 

 

“Sure, what do you wanna play?”

 

“Do you remember that game we played in that sketchy-ass parking lot to pass time while it was raining?” 

 

Johnny’s eyes darken. “The game where you told me you like to be called kitten when you’re getting fucked?” He pauses, eyes drifting to Taeyong’s face and lingering momentarily on his lips.

 

Taeyong flushes, Johnny’s attention causing his stomach to fill with butterflies and his heart to thump in his chest. “Yeah, that one,” he squeaks. 

 

“Wasn’t likely to forget that,” Johnny muses, returning his eyes to the road. “But, yeah, let’s play. You can ask first.”

 

“Rapid fire?”

 

“Sure.” Johnny reaches over and turns down the radio, the volume petering out until the music can barely be heard over the sound of the AC. 

 

God, Taeyong’s so ridiculously happy, it’s almost embarrassing.

“Okay,” Taeyong hums, looking out the window as he thinks. “If you could…” He pauses, trying to figure out how to word the question. “Okay. If you got a dog like right now, what would you name it?”

 

“I’m more of a cat person,” Johnny says, shrugging his shoulders. 

 

“That’s not the point,” Taeyong groans. “You aren’t getting a dog right now either way, it’s just a question.”

 

“Fine,” Johnny sighs, “Waste of a question, but fine . I’d name him something cool like… I don’t know. Johnny Cash, or something. A classy name.”

 

“Okay first of all no one said the dog was a boy. Secondly, what the fuck,” Taeyong laughs, “Johnny Cash?”

 

“What? I think that’s a perfect name for a dog. He’d be a gentleman. You’d probably pick something weird, wouldn’t you,” Johnny says, shaking his head. 

 

“Fuck you,” Taeyong laughs, nudging Johnny’s shoulder, “I would pick something fun, or I don’t know, like an actual dog name.”

 

“Like what?”

 

“I don’t know, like Howl, or Simba or something.”

 

“Dogs don’t really howl ,” Johnny laughs. 

 

“No… I mean Howl like ….. Howl’s Moving Castle,” Taeyong explains, sighing as he realizes Johnny’s probably got no clue what he’s talking about, their conversation from the gas station popping back into his head. 

 

“Never heard of it,” Johnny shrugs.

 

“First thing we’re doing when we get home is watching all of my favorite animated movies and I don’t want to hear a single thing about it from you,” Taeyong says, pointing his finger at the driver’s seat. 

 

“Like a date?” Johnny grins. 

 

Taeyong rolls his eyes, “Yes, Johnny. Like a date.”

 

“Then, fine. I hope you know I’m only saying yes because it’s a date, though. Don’t think you’re going to change my opinion on animation.”

 

“We’ll see,” Taeyong comments. 

 

“Okay, moving on from that boring ass question. Let’s see. Hm. Favorite sex position?” Johnny asks, all cocky grin and smug tone. 

 

“Johnny,” Taeyong groans, not wanting to travel down a road they’re not going to be able to come back from. Not that he would really mind car sex, but he was imagining something a little more meaningful for their first time together. 

 

“What?” Johnny asks, still fucking grinning. “It’s a fair question, Taeyong. I mean I’m gonna figure it out soon enough, so if you don’t want to tell me, that’s okay.”

 

“Oh my fucking God, ” Taeyong squeaks, flushing down to his toes. He’d forgotten how cocky Johnny could get, and what it does to him. Christ, he’s going to lose his mind. 

 

“Well?” Johnny asks, glancing at Taeyong, amusement dancing in his eyes. 

 

“I literally can’t stand you,” Taeyong responds, pausing a second before sighing. “I like— I like riding dick, okay? Being on top. There, are you happy?” Taeyong’s cheeks haven’t felt this red since the kitten incident. 

 

“I’m sure I will be,” Johnny laughs. “You can show me later.”

 

“Loser,” Taeyong smiles, ears still burning. “My turn.”

 

“Hm, shoot.”

 

“Favorite meal?” Taeyong asks, steering the conversation away from sex, but at the same time, genuinely curious. 

 

“God, my mom makes the best kimchi jjigae. I miss that the most I think. But like in the city… let’s see. Oh, call me basic, or boring, or whatever, but I really like the pizza at Lucali. I think it’s the best I’ve had.”

 

“I’ll have to make it for you sometime,” Taeyong comments, already thinking of all of the food he’s going to be cooking for Johnny when they're home. “The kimchi jjigae, I mean. I’m pretty sure I have my mom’s recipe for that at my apartment. It’s pretty easy.”

 

“Wait, really?” Johnny asks, surprise lacing his tone, “I didn’t know you liked cooking.”

 

“There’s lots you don’t know about me, Johnny Suh,” Taeyong grins, endlessly endeared by Johnny’s enthusiasm, “and yes, really. It won’t be your Mom’s, but it’s pretty damn good.”

 

“God, you’re perfect,” Johnny declares. “Perfection. Where have you been all my life, Taeyong?” 

 

Taeyong laughs, “Cute. Your turn.”

 

“I can’t get over that. My own little chef when we get back to the city,” Johnny says with a small smile, “Let’s see. What about your dream country to visit?” 

 

“France,” Taeyong responds after a moment, smiling as he thinks of all the times he’s daydreamed of travelling abroad. “Wanna go to the countryside or Paris or something. City of love, and all that touristy bullshit I fall for every time.”

 

“Let’s go,” Johnny says, suddenly serious. “One day, let’s go to France; Paris, Marseilles, wherever you want. Just the two of us.” 

 

Taeyong’s breath catches, the idea of travelling with Johnny causing his body to buzz with excitement. The idea of having a future with Johnny — that this thing between them isn’t going to end when they’re back in New York makes his chest tighten with emotion.

 

“I’d love that,” Taeyong says softly. He reaches over, resting his hand on Johnny’s nape and running his fingers through the short hair there. “I wanna see the whole world with you.”

 

“Yeah?” Johnny grins, “Me too, baby. We’ll do it all.”

 

Taeyong goes to respond when his stomach rumbles, ruining the moment immediately as they dissolve into laughter.  

 

“What do you say we start with lunch though?” Johnny asks, laughing softly. 



☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong’s eyes flutter shut as he hums, the soup melting in his mouth. 

 

“Fuck,” Taeyong moans, gesturing to the bowl, “this is literally delicious.”

 

He gets another spoonful, raising it to Johnny’s mouth before he even realizes what he's doing. 

 

“Here, try.”

 

Johnny glances at the spoon before shooting Taeyong a wary look, hand covering Taeyong’s as he guides it into his mouth. 

 

Johnny’s eyes don’t leave him until he’s swallowed the soup, and then he’s laughing. 

 

“Did you just—” Johnny breaks off, hand coming up to cover his mouth. “Did you just feed me?

 

Taeyong flushes, eyes skirting around the restaurant to see if anyone’s looking at them. 

 

“Well, uh… well.” 

 

Taeyong did just feed him. He just fed Johnny … in public. 

 

Christ, someone needs to put a leash on him. 

 

“Well, what?” Johnny asks, eyebrows raising as he levels Taeyong with a pointed look. 

 

Taeyong looks away, ears burning. “It tasted good. And I thought it was, like, supposed to be cute, or something. I don’t know — coupley? Stop looking at me like that,” he whines, pushing at Johnny’s shoulder. 

 

“Aw, Taeyong-ah,” Johnny coos, perching his chin on his hand, “You want to do cute coupley shit with me, huh? What, do you have a crush on me or something?”

 

Taeyong wants to hide under the table. 

 

“Shut up,” Taeyong grumbles, “You're an asshole, I take it back.”

 

“I think that means yes,” Johnny smiles, picking back up his fork.

 

Taeyong pushes the soup around the bowl, looking anywhere but across the table. "Yeah, well. Apparently it was obvious."

 

"What was?" Johnny asks, the corner of his mouth twitching up in amusement. "Your crush on me?"

 

Taeyong nods, grabbing a piece of bread and shoving it into his mouth before he says another stupid thing that he'll most definitely regret.

 

"Is that so?"

 

"Yeah, that is so ," Taeyong mutters, rolling his eyes at Johnny's weird turn of phrase. "Markie had to like... tell me, though. So I guess it was obvious to everyone except for me."

 

"What, Mark had to tell you that you had a crush on me?" Johnny asks with a soft laugh.

 

Taeyong nods again, blushing furiously. "I was just as surprised as you were"

 

“I was actually more surprised that you couldn’t tell that I liked you.” 

 

“Really?” 

 

“Oh yeah. Hyuck always used to tell me I was being way too obvious.”

 

“It was not obvious to me, ” Taeyong starts, before his eyes widen, his brain running a million miles an hour as the weight of the night before crashes down on him. Wait, fuck. Donghyuck…  What are we gonna tell them?”

 

“About… us?” Johnny clarifies, waiting for Taeyong to nod before continuing. “I mean, what would you like to tell them?”

 

Taeyong stills. 

 

“Uh, what would you like to tell them?” He asks, setting the spoon back down as he looks up at Johnny with a guarded expression. After the day that Johnny had yesterday, Taeyong wouldn't blame him for wanting to take things slow with a new relationship. Not that Taeyong doesn't want to be able to call Johnny his boyfriend to anyone who asks. He does. God, he really does.

 

“Whatever you’re comfortable with,” Johnny shrugs. 

 

Taeyong shifts in his seat, not about to throw the “no, whatever you’re comfortable with” back onto Johnny. He blushes, an anxious swarm of butterflies and adrenaline coursing through his body as he tries to figure out how to ask Johnny what they are without asking what they are. 

 

“I mean. Are we…um, you know. Are we?”

 

“Boyfriends?” Johnny finishes, a small huff of laughter escaping his lips like he just couldn't help himself. 

 

Taeyong nods, too embarrassed to say anything else. His mind clutters with thoughts, all one after the other, tumbling over each other as they add to the flurry of emotion heavy in his chest: Why the fuck did Johnny just laugh? Are they not boyfriends? Does Johnny not want to date right now?

 

“Taeyong, do you want to be boyfriends?” Johnny asks slowly.

 

His words are measured—too measured—spoken softly like Johnny's either scared to ask, or scared of the answer.

 

Taeyong clenches his fists under the table, trying desperately not to let emotion creep into his voice. He pauses, mouth falling open slightly as the words die in his throat.

 

Yes, Johnny. I want to be boyfriends.

 

The words never leave Taeyong's lips, stuck in his throat like a bullet lodged in his chest: unmoving, unstoppable and achingly painful. Taeyong's lower lip starts to tremble and he can feel the tightness in the back of his throat and he knows he's about to cry, and fuck, he just wanted to have a nice lunch and now he's questioning everything, and he’s starting to feel like he’s cried more in the past week than his whole life.

 

Johnny frowns, reaching across the table to swipe his thumb across Taeyong's cheek, calloused fingertips tipping his chin up to meet his eyes as the first teardrops start to cling to Taeyong's lashes. He blinks rapidly, stopping the welling of tears, but that same tightness doesn’t leave his chest as he waits for Johnny to speak.

 

"I didn't mean to upset you," Johnny says, thumb stroking Taeyong's cheek once more before grabbing his hand, holding it lightly on top of the table. "I know it's probably too soon, you don't have to be upset, okay? Forget I asked. We can take it however slow you want; I'm not going anywhere. I didn't mean to spring that on you like that, I'm sorry."

 

Taeyong blinks slowly, his eyebrows furrowing as his grip on Johnny's hand tightens.

 

"You mean you don-don't," Taeyong sniffles, free hand wiping at his face. "You do want to be my boyfriend? You want me too? You weren't about to say that you didn't feel the same?"

 

The second the words leave his mouth Johnny goes rigid.

 

"Taeyong," Johnny scolds, his words soft but his expression insistent. "I meant it last night when I said I was falling for you. I want you today, and I'll want you tomorrow, and I'll want you when we're both grey-haired and all wrinkly and I'll even want you after that, okay? Of course I want to be your boyfriend."

 

"Oh," Taeyong whispers, sniffling slightly as a small grin finds his lips.

 

"Yes, Oh," Johnny smiles. "I want any part of you I can have, baby. I want it all . So yes, Taeyong, I want this too, and I feel the same. You don't ever have to doubt how I feel about you, okay?”

 

Taeyong grins at that, eyes drying as Johnny's words nest in his heart and bloom across his skin like wildflowers.

 

"Okay," Taeyong whispers, taking his hand back to take a sip of his drink, chewing on the ice as his heart rate goes back down to normal.

 

"Okay?" Johnny repeats, taking another bite of his sandwich, his eyes tentative like he’s not sure that they are actually okay.

 

Taeyong nods, folding his hands on top of the table as a smile pulls at his lips.

 

"Okay. I'm waiting."

 

One of Johnny's eyebrows quirks up. "Waiting?"

 

"For you to ask," Taeyong responds, his grin spreading to his eyes. Johnny's expression is worth it.

 

Johnny laughs, setting down his sandwich as the noise bubbles from his throat — loud and amused. The sound bounces off the tiled floors, ringing out into the air as it fills the restaurant. People at the other tables turn their heads to glare at the noise but Taeyong doesn't care. He thinks Johnny's laugh is the most beautiful sound in the world.

 

"Taeyong Lee," Johnny starts, voice dramatic and a little too loud for how public a space they're in. "Wait—should I get on one knee?" Johnny asks, smirking when Taeyong rolls his eyes.

 

"Fuck off," Taeyong groans, "One fake proposal was more than enough. Just do it like a normal person would."

 

"Fine," Johnny sighs, before resuming his speech, clearing his throat and leaning forward, pressing his hands to the table cloth as he looks up at Taeyong. "Taeyong Lee, would you do me the absolute honor of being my boyfriend?"

 

Taeyong hums, looking away.

 

"I'll think about it," Taeyong says, smiling when Johnny's eyes flash with surprise, quickly followed by annoyance and amusement.

 

"You'll think about it?" Johnny groans, hands retreating.

 

Taeyong hums, swirling the ice around his cup with his straw as he tries not to look at Johnny's expression, knowing he'll crack.

 

"Yeah, I'll think about it. I mean, what do you have to offer me?" Taeyong asks. His cheeks are starting to ache but he can't bring himself to stop grinning.

 

"What, you want me to suck you off under the table?" Johnny laughs.

 

Taeyong knows he's kidding. He knows Johnny said it as a joke because of this morning, and yet he can't help himself.

 

"I do like you on your knees," Taeyong says cooly, smirking when Johnny flicks his eyes around them to make sure no one heard him.

 

"God. Later?" Johnny asks, his eyes flicking down to Taeyong's lips before returning to his eyes, gaze dark. Taeyong could drown in that gaze if he wasn't careful.

 

"Later," Taeyong grins, heart pounding in his chest. And right then, he caves. Of course he caves, because Johnny is looking at him like he wants to fuck him over the table in the middle of the restaurant, and the only thing coursing through his mind is holy shit, Johnny wants to be my boyfriend. So he sighs, "But for now..."

 

Johnny hums, waiting for Taeyong to finish his sentence.

 

"For now, you can be my boyfriend."

 

Without another word, Johnny raises his hand to signal the waiter and asks for their check. Once the waiter is gone with Johnny's money—some obscene amount of cash he somehow just hadn his wallet—he finally looks back at Taeyong.

 

"You aren't done with your sandwich," Taeyong notes, cocking his head slightly.

 

"I don't give a fuck," Johnny laughs, already getting out of his chair and pulling at Taeyong's wrist. "I can get another sandwich later. What I need right now is to kiss the fuck out of my boyfriend, and I don't think the things I want to do to him are really family restaurant appropriate."

 

Taeyong giggles, a light blush rising on his cheeks as Johnny drags him out of the restaurant by the wrist. He's still blushing when Johnny presses him up against the light blue of Tina's exterior and drags their lips together, his fingers tracing desperate paths of wildfire up Taeyong's sides, slipping under his shirt and pressing into the warm skin there. Blushing as Johnny's tongue slides into Taeyong's mouth, lips dragging against his cheek, pressing a line of kisses down his throat. Blushing as the ghost of memories from this morning causes him to melt into Johnny's touch, his hips chasing Johnny's as a desperate noise escapes from his lips, the promise of more lingering in every touch.

 

He's still blushing when they get back into the car and drive away, lips swollen and skin tingling.

 

Taeyong has a boyfriend.

 

He has a boyfriend.

 

Johnny Suh is his boyfriend.

 

Taeyong sucks his bottom lip into his mouth, his teeth digging into the skin as he tries not to grin too obnoxiously big, lest Johnny realize why and make fun of him for it. Taeyong pops Johnny’s mix into the car and turns the music up as he leans back into his seat, one thought rolling over and over and over in his mind.

 

Johnny Suh is his boyfriend. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong rolls the window down, a breeze flowing into the car with lingering touches of roses and salt air as the wind whispers past him, blonde strands of hair blowing across his forehead.

 

Taeyong hums, his eyes slipping shut as the afternoon sun washes over him, shrouding him in a blanket of warmth.

 

They're almost there.

 

Taeyong tucks his head back into the car, turning to face Johnny. He leans back in his seat, watching as the reds and yellows and greens of the stoplights and the street signs reflect on his face. He'll never get tired of looking at that face. All masculine beauty and crooked, worn grins and plush lips.

 

Taeyong is suddenly overcome with the urge to touch, to pull Johnny into his arms and breathe him in and remind himself that this is real. He leans forward and presses a fleeting kiss to Johnny's cheek, drawing back and watching as his lips turn up into a smile.

 

"What was that for?" Johnny asks, eyes flicking over to Taeyong before returning to the road. 

 

Johnny shifts his hands so one is controlling the wheel, the other loosely twining with Taeyong's fingers on the console between them. Taeyong had never been much of a hand holder in past relationships, but it's like his body aches to touch Johnny at all times, the feeling of his fingers twining with Taeyong's so right that he doesn't know how he'll ever go without touching him for long again.

 

"Because I can," Taeyong grins, thumb sweeping over the back of Johnny's hand, tracing one of the veins down to his wrist. "And because I'm feeling kinda intense right now."

 

"Intense?" Johnny asks, a confused lilt in his tone as he repeats the word. 

 

Taeyong squeezes his hand. “Okay, maybe not intense, but kinda overwhelmed. In a good way, I mean. I don’t know, it’s just kinda like I can’t believe everything that’s happened this week.”

 

“I’m also kinda overwhelmed in a good way. But I also am just really happy. Stoked, even.” Johnny pauses, his cheeks splitting into a grin. “Ask me why, T.”

 

“Johnny—” 

 

“Ask me why,” he repeats, tugging on Taeyong’s hand.  

 

“Fine,” Taeyong sighs, “Why are you stoked, Johnny?”

 

“Because I have a really hot boyfriend,” Johnny beams, laughing when Taeyong takes his hand back and rolls his eyes.

 

“Shut up,” Taeyong laughs, cheeks burning with embarrassment.  

 

“Never,” Johnny grins. “I’m gonna tell anyone who will listen that I have the hottest boyfriend in the entire world. Oh my god, wait…”

 

“What now?”

 

“I not only have the hottest boyfriend on earth, but I also have the hottest wedding date too. Holy shit, we’re gonna show the youngsters up… at their own wedding,” Johnny laughs, hand returning to Taeyong’s thigh and squeezing lightly. 

 

Taeyong tries not to think about it, the warm pressure so high on his leg almost steering his mind to dangerous territory. 

 

“You’re impossible.” Taeyong shakes his head. 

 

Johnny glances down at the directions before Taeyong wrestles the phone out of his hand, going back to navigating them to the hotel, mumbling under his breath about how Johnny is going to kill them one day looking at his phone while driving.

 

“We’re getting close,” Taeyong notes, only a few minutes away from the hotel, now. He grins when he looks out the window and sees the Agoura Hills city limits sign.

 

Johnny hums, turning when Taeyong tells him to.

 

“Here’s a thought,” Johnny starts, back to tapping on the wheel to the music with his fingertips. Taeyong wonders if Johnny even realizes he’s doing it.

 

“Shoot.”

 

“We have some time to kill before dinner, right?” Johnny starts, pausing to let Taeyong think about it. “What do you say we check into the hotel and then go on like a nice, long walk around town? I need to stretch my legs and we’re gonna be the only ones in tonight, other than dumb and dumber, the rest of the wedding party doesn’t get here until tomorrow morning so there’s not much to do.”

 

Taeyong laughs at Johnny calling their brothers dumb and dumber, before pausing to think about the offer. 

 

He glances back out the window, taking in the trees and bright stucco roofs surrounding them, so different from the skyscrapers and busy city he’s grown accustomed to. He could be down for some exploring. 

 

Fuck, exploring a new city, hand in hand with Johnny?

 

“Sounds perfect.”

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong’s hair is stuck to his neck and the Instantfunk sweatshirt is pushed past his elbows, and his mouth is dry, and his knees are aching. It’s hot as fuck, and Taeyong is melting.

 

But Johnny’s hand is in his, and he’s smiling and telling Taeyong a story about Donghyuck as a bratty teenager and it’s cute and endearing and Johnny sounds so fucking excited about sharing his little moments with Taeyong that he can’t even bring himself to care that his scalp is definitely sunburnt right now.

 

“Sounds like he was a little shit growing up,” Taeyong says when Johnny finishes the story. The image of sixteen year old Donghyuck sneaking out of the house to go to a party and coming back drunk only to crawl into Johnny’s bed to cuddle has him grinning like a fool.

 

“He still is a little shit,” Johnny responds, tugging Taeyong down a side street. “He’s just more subtle about it now.”

 

Taeyong laughs, a bead of sweat running down the side of his face. 

 

They walk past an ice-cream shop and the thought of ice cream— cool, creamy, soft-serve, waffle-cone-and-all-the-toppings kind of ice cream — causes his mouth to water, his eyes glued to the colorful storefront the whole time they’re walking towards it.

 

And ten minutes later and a half eaten ice cream cone in one hand, chocolate fudge dripping down his wrist, Taeyong’s now the one dragging Johnny around the town. 

 

He sees something in the distance and his heart thumps in his chest, his sugar-rush brain buzzing with excitement. 

 

“Johnny, Johnny, Johnny,” Taeyong shrieks, pulling Johnny with him as he jogs towards it, eyes glued to the hand-painted piano in front of the store about a block up from them.  

 

“No,” Johnny starts when he realizes what Taeyong’s dragging them to, pulling back against Taeyong’s grip slightly, already shaking his head. 

 

“But… Please?” Taeyong pouts, sweater paws and puppy eyes and everything. The full nine-yards. Johnny never stood a chance. 

 

“Don’t make me,” Johnny whines, resolve visibly slipping.

 

“Just one song?” Taeyong pleads, tugging on the hem of Johnny’s sweatshirt as he looks up at him from under his lashes. 

 

“Fine,” Johnny laughs, leaning forward to press a kiss on the corner of Taeyong’s mouth, “I will play you one song.”

 

Then Johnny’s sliding onto the bench, his fingers hovering over the keys as his eyes slip shut and he takes a deep breath, releasing it slowly as he plays the first few notes. 

 

Taeyong remembers Johnny saying he knew how to play piano, but God, he can play.  

 

Everything around them pauses as Johnny runs gentle fingers over the keys, his touch firm and determined yet soft. He plays the piano like he doesn’t even have to think about what notes he’s playing, rather that the music is just flowing freely from his fingertips, each note a piece of his heart, cracked open and spilling out onto the piano. 

 

Taeyong’s eyes drift to Johnny’s face as the music washes over them, chills blooming over his flushed skin as the music whispers in his ears, equal parts haunting and beautiful. Johnny’s eyes are screwed shut in concentration, body swaying slightly with each press of his fingers. He’s achingly beautiful like this — trapped in the moment and lost in his mind, the music filling the street around them — and Taeyong wants to capture this moment forever, lock it in his heart and savor it. 

 

The moment is suspended as the song crescendos, the notes spilling over into the warm breeze and hanging heavy in the air as Taeyong’s chest tightens with emotion. His eyes slip shut, fingers fluttering by his sides when the notes get softer, the end of the song nearing, nearing, nearing.

 

Taeyong takes a shaky breath as Johnny plays the final notes, the street noise rushing back in as his eyes snap back open, the moment shattering as he zeroes back in on Johnny’s face, something raw in Johnny’s gaze as he looks up at him. 

 

“That was really beautiful, Johnny,” Taeyong whispers, voice thick with emotion. He runs his shaky hand through Johnny’s hair, brushing it off his forehead before touching his cheek, pressing his fingertips into the skin and stilling, cupping Johnny’s cheek in his palm.

 

“Thanks, baby,” Johnny says, leaning into Taeyong’s touch with a small smile on his face. 

 

“What song was that?” Taeyong asks, still caught in silent wonder at Johnny’s talent. 

 

“Kiss the Rain,” Johnny explains softly, “It’s one of mom’s favorite piano pieces. I’m playing it at the wedding.”

 

“For what? The first dance?” Taeyong wonders out loud. He wonders, then, if Mark told him forever ago that Johnny was playing the song for the first dance and Taeyong just blocked it out, refusing to listen to one more story about how Johnny was the coolest ever, or if this was actually news to him

 

Johnny nods, “Little brother asked me nicely, so who was I to say no? It was kinda funny, actually. He hadn’t realized what the song was when he first picked it, just said he found it on a list of “beautiful first dance piano songs” or something on the internet, and didn’t realize that he knew it until he and Mark were both crying at the end.”

 

“Cute,” Taeyong comments, sliding next to Johnny on the bench and leaning his head on Johnny’s shoulder. He smiles when Johnny wraps his arm around him and tugs him closer. “She’ll love it. You’re wonderful.”

 

Johnny presses a kiss to his temple in thanks, another high on his cheekbone.

 

“Play me another?” Taeyong asks, eyes slipping shut as he breathes in Johnny’s cologne, the heat of the afternoon forgotten as he snuggles into Johnny’s body warmth. 

 

“Let’s play something together,” Johnny murmurs, lips still pressed to Taeyong’s skin. “Put your hands here, I’ll teach you.”

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

They’re back in Taeyong's room when Taeyong’s phone dings, a message from Mark popping up on his screen. 

 

“Oh, it’s about dinner,” Taeyong comments, setting the phone down on the bed to change out of the sweatshirt before he does literally anything else. He’d never admit to being wrong about wearing it, but the safe, comfortable Johnny vibes of the sweatshirt definitely were not worth being so hot he could barely breathe for most of the afternoon. Johnny doesn’t need to know that though. 

 

“What’d Mark say?” Johnny asks, flopping onto his stomach on the bed and burying his face into the pillow. Taeyong scolds him for putting his shoes on the comforter to which he mumbles something about not my house, not my problem, but takes them off anyway. 

 

“He asked if we were fine with Italian and suggested meeting up at this place.” Taeyong squints at the text, sounding out the words. “Grissini Ristorante Italiano,” he reads, shrugging when he looks up at Johnny. “Sounds good to me, what do you think?” 

 

“I could go for Italian,” Johnny says, words muffled where his lips are pressed into the pillow. “Can he make a reservation?”

 

“I’ll ask,” Taeyong hums, pulling on his t-shirt and settling next to Johnny as he opens back up the chat. Right as he goes to text Mark, another few texts pop up.

 

From: Markie 

 

6:49 PM: that is … if things are fine with you 2?

6:50 PM: H told me that y’all had a hard night and he hasn’t heard any updates since… 

6:51 PM: talk to me? Getting a little concerned … again … 

6:51 PM: just lmk ab dinner when u get a chance !! no worries if you can’t / don’t want to

 

“Holy shit,” Taeyong laughs, showing the messages to Johnny, “we forgot to tell them.”

 

Johnny smiles as he reads, laughing at Mark’s Getting a little concerned … again. “Well, we got a little distracted at lunch,” Johnny muses, poking Taeyong’s side as he lays back down.

 

“Shit. I’ll say,” Taeyong comments, heart pounding as he remembers Johnny pressing him up against the car. 

 

“You gonna tell him now?” Johnny asks, nodding towards the phone in Taeyong’s hand, “or we could just wait until dinner?”

 

“Oh my god, oh my god, wait ,” Taeyong laughs, a brilliantly evil idea running through his mind. He still hasn’t gotten revenge on Mark for fucking up his plane tickets in the first place, has he? His lips quirk up, more thoughts popping up on how they are going to pull off the thought that just crossed his mind. “I know exactly what we should do,” Taeyong grins. 

 

Chapter Text

“So,” Johnny drawls out, “What do you think?” His lips quirk up around the rim of his wine glass as he takes a long sip, amusement evident in his eyes as he stares across the table and waits for an answer. 

Mark makes a small noise of distress, his mouth forming a wide O as he chokes over a few words before clearing his throat. “Well, uh, that’s yeah, wow. Um, so… uh, Donghyuck?” He deflects the question, tips of his ears impossibly pink. Mark finishes his own wine with a toss of his head and a heavy gulp, staring at the empty glass once he swallows with wide eyes.

Donghyuck squints at Johnny before snapping his gaze towards Taeyong, staring into his eyes like he was looking for a lie painted into his brown irises. Taeyong’s palms start to sweat under the table but he forces his lips into a grin that he prays looks less nervous than he feels. 

He’s really never been good at lying. 

“So what I’m hearing,” Donghyuck starts, gesturing vaguely between the two of them before running a frustrated hand through his hair, “is that you two have somehow fallen completely and utterly in love in the span of what? Six, Seven days? And not only have you fallen in love, but you’ve decided to get married?”

“It didn’t happen in a week, but yes,” Johnny confirms.

Taeyong’s heart swells at the implication behind Johnny’s words — that maybe Johnny’s been in love with him for longer than either of them can quite put into words. 

Mark’s eyes are still wide when he swings his gaze to Taeyong, probably waiting for someone to laugh and say sike.

He’s met with awkward silence instead. 

Johnny not-so-subtly nudges Taeyong’s thigh under the table, clearing his throat before shooting Taeyong a look, clearly urging him to do something other than sit there and stare at the tablecloth trying not to laugh

Taeyong spurs to action, nodding enthusiastically before making a show of twining his fingers with Johnny’s on top of the table. He puts a stupid big grin on his face, only partly forced as he shows off the same golden ring he hasn’t moved from his ring finger since the diner, wiggling his finger in a way he imagines would make more sense if there was a large diamond involved. 

The ring was really what had given Taeyong the idea for the prank in the first place. Well… the ring and the fact that Bride Wars (a cinematic masterpiece and absolute classic in Taeyong’s humble opinion) was playing on their hotel TV while they scrolled through the restaurant’s menu. 

Taeyong had proposed the idea and Johnny had been almost immediately down to do it,  amused at the prospect of pissing his little brother off the weekend of his wedding. He had almost immediately followed his ‘yes’ with saying that he should probably do most of the talking if they want to even remotely pull it off. 

And he had been right, of course. 

Taeyong had nervously word-vomited something incomprehensible about wedding preparations just to get them onto the topic and Johnny had swept in, recovering for Taeyong, as he dropped “the bomb” on Mark and Donghyuck.

“And,” Mark swallows hard, drawing Taeyong back to the present, “Y-you want to have your wedding… during our wedding?”

Taeyong wants to laugh so badly that he has to make a conscious effort not to, stomach muscles drawn fully taught and fingers digging into Johnny’s palm on the table. Mark sighs, one long breath through his nose, and Taeyong almost loses it — he looks away from Mark’s face and the “I’m going to pass out” expression written all over it before he has the chance. 

“A double wedding,” Johnny explains, as if it was just that easy, “Fun, right?”

Mark laughs nervously, repeating ‘fun’ under his breath as his fingers grasp the edge of the table. Taeyong snorts before he can stop himself, trying belatedly to play it off as a cough. Donghyuck narrows his eyes, suspicion written across his features. Taeyong balks under the gaze, looking back away as nerves rise up his throat. 

“How did you propose, then?”

“At a diner,” Johnny says, at the same time Taeyong blurts out, “he serenaded me.”

Even Mark raises an eyebrow at that. 

“He serenaded you … at a diner?” Donghyuck clarifies.

Johnny laughs softly, the sound causing Taeyong’s cheeks to lift up in a small smile even though he isn’t even looking over at him. “Does that really surprise you, Hyuckie?” Johnny asks, tone cocky like he already knows his brother’s answer to the question.

Taeyong’s been around Johnny and Donghyuck plenty of times, so many that he probably couldn’t count them all even on both hands. But not once has he really been paying attention. Now, Taeyong can’t help but notice all of the little details that he would’ve missed just a month ago — the way Johnny kicks his brother’s shin under the table whenever he teases him, Donghyuck winking at Johnny after telling a joke, how their mannerisms mirror each other enough that they are so obviously related despite how little they actually look like each other. 

And even more than anything else, the obvious love between them. Taeyong saw it in the way Donghyuck’s fingers bunched up Johnny’s shirt into two tight fists when they hugged, the way Johnny calls still him “Hyuckie,” despite them no longer being kids, and now, when Donghyuck buries his face in his hands because he knows Johnny’s right and Johnny just sits back in his seat and grins at him. 

Donghyuck looks somewhere between crying and laughing when he pulls his hands away. “No, it sounds exactly like something you would do, you attention whore. I was just hoping to catch you in your lie because if you are actually trying to get married during my fucking wedding I’m gonna need a lot more wine, and maybe a valium.” 

“Hyuck,” Mark shrieks, eyes widening again at his fiance’s words.

Donghyuck shushes him, murmuring something like “I’m only kidding, baby. Well, sort of,” under his breath before turning back to Johnny, something devious dancing in his gaze as he rests his elbows on the table and laces his fingers together. 

“So what do you think?” Johnny asks, taking a bite of pasta and humming at the taste, completely oblivious to the white knuckled grip on the table and the way his eyes scream that he’s contemplating different ways to murder Johnny and get away with it. 

“Please tell me you’re kidding,” Donghyuck grits out.

“And why would I do that?” Johnny snorts, looking up from his plate with wide eyes and confusion written into his face. Taeyong’s nearly convinced that Johnny’s forgotten they’re not actually trying to sell this idea for real, he’s acting so well. 

“You’re kidding, Johnny. Right? Tell me you’re kidding.” 

“Does it look like I’m kidding?” Johnny asks, a brow raised. It doesn’t, Taeyong marvels. It really doesn’t. He prays Donghyuck doesn’t look over to Taeyong for confirmation. Taeyong’s not afraid to admit he’d cave in seconds, withering under Hyuck’s gaze. 

“Okay, Johnny. Be like that. I just want you to know that it didn’t have to come to this,” Donghyuck warns, tip of an accusatory finger hovering over Johnny’s chest. 

Johnny raises his eyebrows, settling back in his chair to cross his arms. “Come to what?” 

“Tell me the truth right now or I’m telling Taeyong about the Christmas card.”

The table goes quiet, a second of stunned silence as Johnny’s face almost immediately drops, cheeks burning red.

“You wouldn’t dare,” Johnny splutters, fingers fidgeting with his napkin on top of his thighs. Taeyong’s eyes shoot immediately to his lap at the movement, his own eyebrows raising up. 

Johnny Suh, nervous? 

“What Christmas card?” Taeyong wonders aloud, eyes drifting to Mark who only shrugs, equally confused. 

Johnny doesn’t so much as glance his way when he speaks, eyes glued instead to Donghyuck and his growing smile.  

“Did you hear that, Johnny?” Donghyuck gasps, hellfire and mirth dancing in his eyes as he stares Johnny down across the table with a viscous grin. “Taeyong wants to know about the Christmas card.” He slides his elbows up on the table and rests his chins on his hands, the picture of maddening innocence. 

Taeyong pictures Donghyuck just a few years younger, cheeks rounder and hair longer, being an absolute fucking menace in high school, refusing to take any shit from his older brother. Taeyong smiles at the thought. He really does see it now, Johnny wasn’t lying about him being a little shit.   

Only, Johnny finds his antics intolerable, and Taeyong’s simply amused. 

“Donghyuck, don’t,” Johnny begs quietly, eyes bearing into Donghyuck from across the table. “Please.”

Please?

Oh, now Taeyong really wants to know. 

“Five,” Donghyuck grins, sitting back in his chair and folding his arms across his chest, the picture of calm victory. 

“Donghyuck—”

“Four.” His voice cants a little louder, cutting Johnny off. 

“Fine,” Johnny starts, deflating. He shoots a look at Taeyong that screams I’m sorry, but I have to.

“Three,” Donghyuck drawls out. 

“I said fine,” Johnny stammers, eyes going wide, “No double wedding, we were just messing with y’all.”

“Two.”

“It was a joke, Donghyuck. I said we were kidding. Stop counting, I’m saying sorry.”

‘One’ never comes.

Instead, Donghyuck turns to Taeyong, grinning like a madman who just pulled off his most impressive heist yet, and whispers conspiratorially across the bread rolls laying dormant between them, “Mark sent me y’all’s Christmas card when we first started dating, you know the one of you and Biscuit cuddling at your parent’s house, and Johnny took it and used your face as a bookmark for a few months until Seulgi eventually found it and threw it away.”

“Donghyuck!” Johnny shouts, cheeks beet red and eyes wider than saucers. His hands come up to cover his face as he ducks his head, as if that small movement was going to stop the embarrassment from spreading. It really doesn’t. The tips of Johnny’s ears flush crimson, the skin on his cheeks and nape equally red.

Taeyong’s eyes go wide at about the same time a shriek of laughter peels from his throat, loud enough that at least five other patrons eating dinner turn to glare at him. Across from him, Mark’s clapping and laughing, the sound just as loud, if not louder. Johnny’s groaning is drowned out by the matching giggles peeling from their mouths as they choke on air nearly in sync. 

“Karma, John,” Donghyuck whispers, his grin entirely pleased as he pours himself another glass of wine. He winks, “You shouldn’t mess with your baby brother right before his wedding. That’s evil.”

“I’m gonna kill you,” Johnny mutters, playfully bouncing his forehead against the edge of the table as he groans. 

“You cut out my picture—” Taeyong manages between laughs, wiping at the tears streaming down his cheeks. His abs hurt from laughing so hard, but he can’t stop. “And used it as a fucking bookmark.”

“Shut up,” Johnny groans. “You were really pretty,” he murmurs into his hands, more sheepish than Taeyong has ever seen him. 

Taeyong hums, still grinning, “Were?”

“Are.” Johnny corrects himself immediately, that knee-jerk reaction to keep Taeyong happy at all costs he’s developed over the week. Then he realizes what he sounds like and grimaces. “Shut up,” Johnny repeats, groaning at himself. His hands fall from his face as he leans back in his seat, his eyes immediately finding Donghyuck. If looks could kill, Donghyuck would already be six feet below ground. 

“I’m only kidding, Johnny,” Taeyong coos, winking at Donghyuck across the table as his fingertips trail down Johnny's back, rubbing over the notches of his spine in mock-support. “It’s refreshing to hear you’ve been obsessed with me for so many years, my dear."

"I'm breaking up with you," Johnny murmurs, finishing his wine in one swallow. It's more for show than anything, but Taeyong swears it’s just so he has an excuse to blame his vicious blush on.

"Oh, you wish." 

"Pause—” Donghyuck interrupts, holding a hand up in a way only Donghyuck could pull off without looking like he was auditioning for a breakout musical. "A break up implies that you're dating, does it not?"

"Oh, right," Taeyong laughs, returning his hand to his own lap when he remembers they’re in public and he’s been petting Johnny’s neck and back without stopping for five minutes. "That was actually what we meant to tell you in the first place. You know, before, well,” Taeyong laughs awkwardly, cringing at himself, “before the double wedding joke and you know… everything."

"I think what Taeyong meant to say is that yes, we’re dating," Johnny clarifies, patting Taeyong's thigh. He twitches under the sudden movement, his knee jostling Johnny's under the table.

"You know what, good for you, Johnny," Donghyuck says with a sigh, and a clap of his hand on Johnny’s shoulder, "Finally got the boy."

Taeyong's chest swells with something warm, his heart melting like ice left out on a summer day. He bites the inside of his cheek, cutting his eyes to the side to find Johnny staring back down at him, lips turned up and eyes soft.

"That I did," Johnny murmurs, grinning back at him like he’s proud of it, too. 

"Shame the proposal bit wasn't real, though," Donghyuck continues, sighing wistfully. "I'd never turn down the chance to see Johnny sing."

“Oh no, wait, that—” Taeyong laughs, finally relaxed for the first time all dinner, “That bit actually was true. Proposed to me via song with this stupid little grin on his face. The whole diner was swooning. He really put a fucking Beatles song on the jukebox and serenaded me and everything.”

“I mean it was that or Fat Bottomed Girls, so,” Johnny shrugs, grinning when the table laughs. His grin grows when Taeyong rolls his eyes at him. 

“Please tell me someone got that on video,” Donghyuck pleads. 

“God, I wish,Taeyong grins, watching Johnny glare at his brother before swinging his arm around Taeyong’s shoulders, pulling him closer like it’s already second nature. 

“I’m still confused,” Mark admits, ripping apart a piece of bread, “So, like, you are or you aren’t engaged?”

“We’re not moving that fast, Markie,” Johnny laughs, squeezing Taeyong’s shoulder before adding, “Besides, I won’t use a ring he already owns when I propose to him for real.”

Taeyong tries to bite back the smile that threatens to take over his face, his cheeks warming at the implication that Johnny plans on proposing one day, for real. The thought's almost as surreal as the fact that Johnny's his boyfriend now.

Once they're deep in their meals and the table’s quieted down, Taeyong nudges Johnny, offering him a bite of his steak. Johnny bites it off of his fork with a soft “thanks, babe,” brushing his fingertips on the back of Taeyong's wrist in a touch so delicate he feels goosebumps rise on his arms.

Taeyong clears his throat, turning back to Johnny. "You know, before the prank turned to shit, you actually weren’t the worst actor. I mean, I was almost fooled and I was in on it.”

Johnny laughs at that, hand covering his mouth as he finishes chewing.

“I might've taken an acting class or two at film school,” Johnny murmurs with a grin. At Taeyong's roll of the eyes Johnny turns his head, pressing a soft kiss to Taeyong’s temple. Taeyong's heart may or may not quicken at the casual graze of his lips against his skin, the intimate touch equal parts nerve-wracking and calming.

" Of course you did," he sighs.  

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

They leave Donghyuck and Mark with the promise to wake up in time for brunch with the Suh family, promptly resulting in Taeyong's stomach turning into complete knots at the idea of spending time with Mr. and Mrs. Suh not as Mark's brother, but Johnny's boyfriend.

Not to say that the Suhs aren't wonderful people — Taeyong’s met Johnny’s parents plenty of times over the years, and has always thought they were wonderful. Hell, even the first time he met Mrs. Suh she’s already treated him like family, calling him ‘Taeyong-ah!’ whenever she sees him. But Taeyong's anxiety has been known to ignore all logic, so instead of being excited to see them, he’s merely an anxious bag of bones at the prospect of disappointing Johnny's parents and somehow entirely changing their impression of him.

Which he tries desperately to voice in words that Johnny will understand. He doesn’t, of course, instead just reassures him it’ll be okay the entire walk home until they're right back where they started, hand in hand in the hotel lobby. Even then, when Taeyong butts his head against Johnny's shoulder, pouting up at him until Johnny presses a kiss to his forehead, Johnny reassures him, patient as ever and voice soft like it only ever is for Taeyong.

"You need to stop worrying so much," Johnny murmurs, jabbing the button for their floor with a bent knuckle, his free hand still laced loosely with Taeyong's. Johnny gives his palm a squeeze as if to reinforce his point, and Taeyong can't ignore the way his body goes a little lax at the reassuring touch, his heart somewhat calming in his chest.

"I just want them to like me," Taeyong admits, words incredibly honest and not at all meant to be spoken out loud.

“But they already like you," Johnny reminds him softly, running his thumb over the back of Taeyong's knuckles. Johnny traces the bumps of the bones in his hand, following his veins around the pale skin of his hand in silent concentration. "And they'll like you even more when they know you're stuck with putting up with me for eternity."

"Eternity?" Taeyong laughs, stepping into the elevator once the doors slide open with a ding. "Are we vampires now or something?" He asks, grinning when Johnny laughs and shakes his head, back pressed against their reflections on the mirrored walls of the elevator. 

"Might as well be," Johnny murmurs, raising the hand he has twined with Taeyong's between them to show off the way Taeyong's skin is nearly illuminated by the dull light of the elevator, pale skin reflecting ivory light like a disco ball.

"Oh, shut up," Taeyong laughs, yanking his hand back from out of Johnny's grip to fold it under his arm, crossing his arms over his chest.

"What do you mean shut up?" Johnny scoffs, "We talked about this, Yong. You're telling me you wouldn't want to be a vampire after seeing Twilight? I mean, Edward Cullen ? Come on. Fucking, oh, what's his name, the dad! He was a doctor or something. Blonde, c’mon, you know—”

"Carlisle," Taeyong supplies helpfully, smiling not only because Johnny sounds so passionate about how being a vampire is a compliment, but because Taeyong’s trapped in a constant state of being stupidly endeared by the fact that the only pop culture references Johnny understands are Twilight ones.

" Carlisle ! Exactly, baby. Please, you know I'm right." 

"If you say so," Taeyong sighs, letting Johnny win if only for the smile that forms on his face at Taeyong's words, a pleased glow on his cheeks. 

Cute.

Johnny is still grinning when the green light reads four and the doors slide open to reveal their floor. He places his hand low on Taeyong's back as he guides them past the group of drunk college students waiting for the elevator, steering them back towards their rooms and away from all of the noise.

Taeyong frowns for a second when they turn down the hallway and he remembers that they technically have two rooms tonight, not just the one he’s gotten used to sharing over the course of the week. Naturally, when the rooms were booked, nobody in their right mind thought that he and Johnny would be amicable enough to cohabitate if they didn’t have to, much less be dating — but then he remembers that they’ll probably end up sharing just one room anyway. It's not like anyone would know he wasn't sleeping in his own room, unless he or Johnny told them. No harm, no foul.

But then Taeyong realizes that if he and Johnny are left to their own devices… sharing a hotel bed... with no one around...

"Whatcha thinkin' about?" Johnny asks, pulling him out of his thoughts as they stop in front of Taeyong's door.

Taeyong blinks, eyelashes sweeping slowly over his cheeks as he stands there, blinking dumbly up at Johnny before he remembers where he is. He startles, grabbing the room key from his pocket and swiping it, the door unlocking with a flash of green and a click.

"Uh, nothing." He ducks his head when he responds, mouth cotton-dry and ears burning under Johnny's gaze. Taeyong pushes the door open and steps in, holding it open as he pauses in the doorway, brain running on overdrive.

Does he invite Johnny in? Does Johnny still want to be invited in? Is Taeyong reading the situation completely wrong and Johnny doesn't actually want to have sex right now?

More importantly, why does he feel so fucking nervous all of the sudden?

"Nothing?" Johnny repeats. Taeyong feels his spine straighten when Johnny leans up against the doorway, crossing his arms and smirking down at Taeyong like he can read all of the questions running through his head, towering over Taeyong and giving him zero room to escape the conversation. All of the nerves and insecurities that are running rampant in Taeyong’s brain might as well be written on his forehead, if there’s anything to say about the way Johnny pins him with a look and sighs. 

Taeyong shakes his head slowly, rocking back and forth on his heels. The words refuse to come to him, his mouth instead slammed shut and his jaw clenched. 

"Hey," Johnny says softly, pushing off the door to hold Taeyong's face, thumbs stroking over his cheekbones, tracing a line down the clench of his jaw. "Talk to me."

"I'm nervous," Taeyong sighs, heart thawing out when Johnny's finger grazes the small scar by his eye and he smiles at it before meeting Taeyong's gaze. "About, well, you know. Everything." Taeyong’s following laughter is pitchy and awkward, feeling more like a teenager than he ever did when he actually was a teenager. He realizes he's still blushing furiously when Johnny's fingers find one red ear and he tugs playfully on the lobe. Taeyong grimaces at the silent teasing, his nose scrunching up.

"What could you possibly have to be nervous about? Hm? Worried I'll get you pregnant and we'll have to have a shotgun wedding?" Johnny murmurs, amusement evident in his voice as he drags his fingertips back against the flushed skin of Taeyong's cheek before pulling him closer by his hand resting at the dip of Taeyong’s waist. 

Taeyong gives in, letting Johnny tug him closer — so close that he can see each individual eyelash that fans across Johnny’s face, his honey eyes bright with amusement as they stare down at Taeyong, constellations written into the brown of his irises.

"You're so weird," Taeyong sighs, sounding much less like an insult and a lot more like endearment. He lets his body meld into Johnny's anyway, chasing the warmth of his chest pressed up against Johnny's, the feeling of home as he buries his head in Johnny’s neck and breathes him in. 

"Maybe," Johnny laughs, Taeyong's heart clenching when Johnny presses a kiss to his forehead before tucking Taeyong’s head under his chin, just tall enough to get away with it without craning his neck. "Don't be nervous, though, seriously. How about I go back to my room and shower and put on some comfy clothes and then come back once we've had a moment to ourselves?"

"You don't have to do that for me," Taeyong says, pulling back to look at Johnny. 

If Taeyong’s being completely honest with himself, he doesn't really want to wait, not when it comes to finally having Johnny all to himself. And fuck, Taeyong wants Johnny. Wants him more than he's ever wanted anything, if how riled up he's been all day has anything to say about it. 

But a Johnny with a plan is a Johnny that Taeyong is yet to defeat.

"Maybe it's not for you. Maybe I just need to shower, Taeyong," Johnny grins, already backing away. Taeyong knows he's just saying that because he wants Taeyong not to feel guilty about being nervous, and the fact that Johnny cares about him enough to do that makes his heart want to explode in the first place, but Taeyong still wants to argue that he’s really not guilty because it wasn't his fucking idea in the first place and he doesn't want Johnny to leave. 

Taeyong concedes anyway, knowing this conversation is going nowhere, and Johnny will be back sooner if he just lets him go. "Fine. Go shower, Johnny. Shoo. Hurry back to me."

"'Course, baby," Johnny says, voice close to a drawl as he grins around the words. Then he's turning out of the doorway and tucking down the hall to his room, the door swinging shut in his absence.

Taeyong sighs, latching the deadbolt because if he’s learned literally anything this week it’s that hotels are fucking terrifying, and Taeyong's nothing if not cautious, even if he'll just have to unlock it back in a few minutes when Johnny returns. Taeyong takes his shoes off and puts them at the base of his closet, making mental notes of all of the things he needs to finish unpacking. A few moments after he’s finally taken note of all of the clothes he probably needs to wash, he realizes he left his suit in Johnny’s car, and really needs to grab that before anything bad can happen to it. 

And probably steam it, if a week on the road in the back of Johnny’s car has anything to say about the condition of it. 

Taeyong takes a deep breath, inhaling the stale air that reeks of cheap cleaner and crisp hotel sheets into his lungs with a cringe, breathing it out in a long breath that surprisingly doesn't come out choppy, despite him scrunching his nose at the smell.

To be fair, Taeyong really does feel less nervous now that he's alone. The air of uncertainty that was clinging to him like a parasite was broken by some odd combination of Johnny's typical ridiculous behavior, and the soft touches he initiated the second he recognized Taeyong was nervous. Both things Taeyong is weak for.

Taeyong pulls his phone out of his pocket, sitting on the foot of the bed as he turns it on to scroll mindlessly through Instagram until Johnny comes back. He gets about halfway down his feed before there's a knock on the door, just one sharp rap of knuckles against the wood.

Taeyong's eyebrows draw in, wondering if his neighbors had ordered room service and gotten the room wrong, because there’s no fucking chance Johnny’s already showered and changed and is back. He sighs, pushing off of the bed and crossing the room, unlatching the deadbolt before pulling open the heavy wooden door. 

But— 

Johnny?

"Did you forget something?" Taeyong asks, his voice coming out shakier than he expected. Johnny's mouth goes taut for a second, his cheek pinching in like he's biting the inside of it, something Taeyong's noticed he does when he's thinking. Taeyong's heart starts to pound at the moment of silence, anticipation settling deep in his stomach as he watches Johnny watch him . But then Johnny's taking a step forward into Taeyong's space, close enough that he has to crane his head up to meet his eyes. He finds nothing but molten honey there, lust and adoration heavy enough in Johnny's gaze to cause Taeyong’s heart to malfunction. 

"Yes," Johnny breathes, voice barely above a whisper. Then he's grabbing Taeyong's face between two cold hands and leaning in.

And when Johnny kisses him it feels like the first time Taeyong's ever been kissed — like there's fire deep in his bones, licking at his arms and legs, settling heavy in his core and spreading across his skin like wildfire. Taeyong sighs into the kiss, his hips canting forward until every inch of him is pressed flush against Johnny, bodies molding together like they were made to fit. Fire crawls up the backs of his legs as he raises himself onto his tip toes, wrapping his arms around Johnny's neck and pulling him closer until there's no space between them, no room to breathe, no room to think .

"In," Taeyong gasps into Johnny's mouth, grabbing at his shoulders and tugging him inside the room. "In, in, in."

Johnny kicks the door shut behind him, spinning them around and pinning Taeyong against the door, the handle jamming into his lower back as his hips chase Johnny's, his back smacking against the wood. Taeyong’s mind goes fuzzy at how fucking hot that was before he remembers to be confused about why Johnny’s here when he literally just left. 

"What happened to Mr. ‘maybe I just need to shower, Taeyong?’" Taeyong mimics, laughing when Johnny pulls back to stick him with a look.

Taeyong's still laughing when Johnny picks him up, sweeping him off of the floor and into his arms, hands gripped hard under his thighs. He stops laughing when Johnny throws him against the mattress, a gasp flying from his lips as his back slams into the pillows, bouncing against the mattress as his words and breath catch in his throat. He stares up at Johnny with wide eyes as his lungs desperately fill with the charged air of the hotel room. 

Johnny’s close enough that his cologne is the only thing Taeyong can focus on, the familiar musky smell coating the air and settling heavy into his skin, filling his lungs with wildflowers and freshly squeezed lemon. 

Taeyong’s knees fall to the side, making room for Johnny almost on instinct, like he belongs between Taeyong’s thighs. Taeyong reaches out a hand to beckon to Johnny, a delicate come here falling from his tongue as Johnny takes his hand and presses a kiss to his knuckle, soft lips brushing against cold gold sitting on his ring finger.

It feels like a promise, one that Taeyong shivers from the weight of. 

As soon as Johnny presses his knee into the mattress and looms over him, Taeyong’s lost to pure, carnal desire, the only thing on his mind Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. Taeyong arches up into the warmth of his body, legs curling around Johnny’s back as he pulls their hips flush together only to whine at that first lick of delicious pressure, bucking against the weight of Johnny on top of him, heavy and hot against Taeyong’s body.

“What do you want, Taeyong?” Johnny asks, hovering over him as he looks down at Taeyong, running his tongue over kiss-swollen lips. 

Taeyong’s heart hammers against his chest, the weight of all of the desire and want he has for Johnny too much to be spoken out loud. He probably couldn’t put it into words, how much he wants him. Couldn’t even list all of the things Taeyong’s been aching to do to him — the unspeakable things he’s dreamed of after seeing Johnny tease him all week in various states of undress, the things he left unfinished the last time they hooked up, the things he hasn’t yet been able to act on, but has been wanting for longer than he’s willing to acknowledge. 

But now, he can.

Taeyong can have all of Johnny, just for him, and no one else. And Taeyong would fucking beg for it, that’s how bad he wants it. How bad he wants him. 

“You. I want all of you,” he responds, dragging Johnny back down to his mouth, swallowing the curse Johnny breathes out as he moans into the kiss, tongue sweeping hot and slow into Taeyong’s mouth. 

Johnny pulls back to unbutton the top button of Taeyong’s shirt, kissing a path down from his mouth to the column of his throat, mouth pressed to every inch of pale skin newly unveiled. Johnny continues his mouth’s descent to the button just below it, pace unrelentingly slow and just insistent enough to leave Taeyong dizzy with want and already getting hard in his pants as he trails wet kisses down Taeyong’s chest. 

Johnny gets the third button open and peels the shirt back just enough to mouth over Taeyong’s collarbones, teeth scraping over the bone before his tongue smooths over the skin there, wet and hot and insistent. Taeyong keels under the touch, his body arching up into Johnny’s as a poorly restrained moan escapes from between his lips. 

“Quiet,” Johnny purrs, drawing back just enough to stare down at Taeyong with dark, blown wide eyes. Taeyong gulps, his lips moving under Johnny’s thumb as he presses it to his mouth, swiping it slowly over Taeyong’s bottom lip before returning his attention to Taeyong’s shirt. 

Taeyong wants Johnny’s fingers in his fucking mouth, pressing down on Taeyong’s tongue, claiming him.

But the sheer command in Johnny’s tone has Taeyong biting his tongue, struggling to stay quiet when Johnny’s attention returns to his chest. Taeyong’s breath hitches as Johnny’s tongue swirls over his nipple and he has to try desperately to swallow the moan that creeps up his throat.

It comes out as a choked whimper instead and Johnny grins, scraping his teeth across Taeyong’s nipple as he whispers, voice dark as midnight and huskier than Taeyong’s ever heard it, “Good boy.”

Fuck. 

Taeyong’s eyes roll back into his head as he shoves his fingers into Johnny’s hair, the black strands sticking out between his fingers as he grabs tufts of hair and tugs, desperately grasping for purchase as he pushes his hips into Johnny’s body and tries not to come from the words Good boy alone. 

Johnny’s fucking mouth is going to be the death of him. 

Johnny undresses him until he’s laid out and bare on the bed, his chest covered in marks, nipples peaked and aching. Taeyong’s soft thighs are stretched out on the mattress, spread wide enough to make space for Johnny to kneel between them, hands clenched on his lap like a sinner begging God for mercy. 

Taeyong squirms under Johnny’s gaze, his knees pressing together as his heart races, feeling watched. Johnny’s tongue sweeps over his bottom lip, his hands moving from his lap to track paths of fire up Taeyong’s thighs. Johnny pushes against them until Taeyong relents, opening his knees back up and letting Johnny spread him wide against the mattress, pushing until Taeyong’s knees are flush against the mattress, and he’s stretched as far as his tight muscles will allow. 

Taeyong flushes cherry red, feeling entirely too bare and exposed. He runs his palms over his face and whines into his hands, embarrassed. Taeyong’s spread out in front of Johnny, cock dripping onto his stomach from how turned on he already is, hole clenching in anticipation where it’s bared to Johnny. And the worst part of it all is Johnny’s just sitting there, fully clothed and smirking. 

Taeyong is going to die. He is going to die. 

“Stop,” Johnny commands, grabbing Taeyong’s wrists and pinning his hands over his head with one hand gripped around each of his wrists, the other cupping Taeyong’s face so delicately it feels almost out of place. Taeyong jerks against his hold with all of his strength only to find he can’t break it, despite it only being one of Johnny’s hands against the full weight of Taeyong’s body. Christ. Johnny’s going to make him develop a fucking strength kink before they’re done if he doesn’t stop fucking manhandling him. “Wanna see that pretty face, baby. I want to watch you when I make you come, see what I do to you. Don’t hide from me.”

Taeyong flushes even further from his words, but doesn’t move to cover his face again when Johnny finally releases his wrists. Johnny returns to his wicked descent down Taeyong’s body, his mouth licking and biting and kissing a path up Taeyong’s legs. Johnny slides his palms up and down the soft skin of his thighs in slow strokes, his skin dimpling under Johnny’s grip. Johnny teases him until he’s dizzy with lust, chest heaving and hands trembling by his sides as he aches to touch himself, relieving some of the intense pressure building in his cock. 

And then Johnny’s nose brushes against Taeyong’s cock as he presses a slow, wet kiss to Taeyong’s inner thigh, and he fucking loses it. 

“Fucking touch me already,” Taeyong all but yells, fingers grasping desperately at the sheets by his side, his body twitching in desperation under Johnny’s smart tongue and slow touches. 

Johnny stills, mouth still buried in the crook of Taeyong’s thigh. Taeyong’s chest is shaking, breaths erratic as his chest rises and falls rapidly, something charged sparking through the air as Johnny cuts his eyes up to Taeyong. 

“I said ,” Johnny drawls out, eyes darker than soot as he nips his skin of Taeyong’s thigh until there’s a bruise blooming purple under his tongue, right next to Taeyong’s hip. It’s a warning. Taeyong’s stomach flips, his dick twitching where it’s drooling against his stomach, heavy and flushed red. He’s so turned on, Johnny could probably ask him to come right now and he would. “Be fucking quiet.” 

Taeyong’s eyes slam shut when Johnny presses a kiss high on the inside of his thigh, his breath hot on the side of Taeyong’s shaft. It’s too much and not enough all at once and Taeyong’s starting to tremble under Johnny’s touch, little whimpers from his mouth every time Johnny teases him with another kiss to his inner thighs.

“Please,” Taeyong begs quietly, hips thrusting uselessly into the air, pressing into nothing as he aches for friction and finds nothing but Johnny’s teasing eyes grinning back down at him, hands pressing dimples into the skin of his thighs. 

Johnny’s been teasing him all day, working him up in the hotel room, and outside the diner, and every chance he fucking got at dinner, squeezing Taeyong’s thigh under the table and eye-fucking him on the walk home, and now that they’re alone with nothing in the world to do but fuck, Johnny wants to take his time? 

Taeyong’s going to commit murder. 

“Patience, Darling,” Johnny murmurs, tone husky and a little wrecked, shooting straight to Taeyong’s cock. 

Darling. 

Taeyong throws his head back as he lets out an embarrassingly high keen at the nickname, his chest filling with shaky air as Johnny slides one of his hands under Taeyong’s body. Johnny’s fingertips are warm and calloused where they tuck under him to drag one of Taeyong’s pale legs over his shoulder. Johnny takes his time, sucking a bruise into the inside of his knee, another on his inner thigh, kissing over the quivering muscle.

Taeyong meets his eyes and feels a chill run up the course of his back. He watches Johnny with unreserved lust as he leans forward without breaking eye contact, pressing a singular, wet kiss to the head of Taeyong’s cock. Taeyong curses at the sight — of Johnny’s kiss swollen lips, spit slick and bitten red, pressed to the glistening tip, licking away a bud of precum before it can roll down his shaft.  

“Fuck—” Taeyong cries out, head falling back on the pillow when Johnny swirls his tongue around the head of his cock, slow licks against his slit that drive him insane as Johnny’s hand strokes the rest of him, slick-spit grip sliding excruciatingly slow against his skin. It’s a little too dry, but Taeyong doesn’t even care about the hurt. Not when Johnny’s moaning around his cock, big fingers wrapped around him as he works Taeyong with his lips, hand working the parts his mouth isn’t yet touching. 

“You just can’t be quiet can you,” Johnny grins, popping off of Taeyong’s cock with a noise Taeyong so obscene you’d think Taeyong hallucinated it. 

“Feels too good,” Taeyong whimpers, bucking his hips up until Johnny’s mouth slips back down his shaft, engulfing his cock in wet, perfect heat. 

"That's it, kitten ," Johnny breathes when he pulls away, a wicked grin splitting across his face when Taeyong breathes out a broken moan at the nickname. Johnny's words mixed with the way his nail digs into Taeyong's slit cause him to jerk in his arms, hips bucking into Johnny's fist as his fingers tighten where they're grasped into the hair at the nape of Johnny's neck, mouth falling open as his breathing hitches, his leg almost slipping off of Johnny’s shoulder. 

"You look so pretty, baby," Johnny purrs, pressing a kiss to Taeyong's throat. "Look at you. All bare and laid out, falling apart just for me," He adds, his wrist snapping back down the length of his cock in a slick glide.

"Holy fuck, Johnny," Taeyong whimpers, his eyes slipping shut when Johnny goes back to focusing on the head of his cock, thumbing over the precum dribbling out of his tip and sliding it down his shaft.

Taeyong's heels dig into Johnny's back, unsure if he's pushing him away or pulling him closer.

Pulling him closer, most likely, from the way Johnny laughs into his skin, whispering, "Needy, Yong," into the air at the same time as an especially hard flick of his wrist. 

And that's about all it takes, Johnny's teasing voice licking at his ears as his hand swallows Taeyong's shaft in slick heat and glorious, overwhelming pressure. Taeyong feels his balls tighten up, his dick pulsing hot in Johnny's grasp as he gets closer and closer and closer to the edge until it almost hurts. 

Fuck, Johnny. I’m so close, so so close. Please. Need to come. Feels so good. I'm gonna—” Taeyong screams, pleasure burning through his body as his ears fill with cotton and he’s seeing fucking technicolor stars. Johnny’s mouth slides back down his cock just in time to catch the come spurting out of Taeyong’s cock, swallowing it all as Taeyong moans his name over and over and over until he's left laying unmoving on his back, panting at the ceiling and wondering where the fuck Johnny has been all his life.

"Taeyong," Johnny pants, drawing Taeyong's attention back to him immediately just from how wrecked he sounds. Taeyong notices distantly that his shirt's now gone, his jeans unzipped and his cock straining against his boxers. Taeyong’s mouth waters at the sight. 

"Yeah?" Taeyong manages, eyes still glued to his bulge. God, he wants Johnny in him. In his hands, in his mouth, buried deep inside of him and making him scream his name loud enough for their neighbors to complain. His arms tremble as he pushes himself back up to a sitting position, body still numb and trembling from his orgasm. 

"How long do you need before I fuck you?" Johnny asks, teeth pressing crescents into his bottom lip as if that's all he can do to keep himself restrained.

Taeyong's mind blanks entirely at Johnny’s words. His eyes blink slowly. Once, twice, three times. His dick twitches, already filling out again. Taeyong sweeps his tongue over his bottom lip and swallows hard and the only thing he can come up with is a quiet, resounding, "Fuck."

"Don't make me repeat the question," Johnny warns, finally pushing down his pants and pulling his cock out — all nine fucking inches of it. Johnny moans when he finally gets his hand on his shaft, stroking himself in slow tugs as his head falls back, eyes fluttering shut as he pumps his cock. 

Taeyong swallows hard. “I don’t.” 

“You don’t—” Johnny starts, voice affected as his breathing hitches, “don’t what?”

“Need any time,” Taeyong whispers, already pushing onto his knees. He crawls across the mattress on his hands and knees until he’s kneeling in front of Johnny, palms on Johnny’s thighs and eyes bearing into Johnny’s. “I want your cock inside me now, Johnny. I don’t want to fucking wait any longer.”

Johnny gulps. “You’re not even hard again yet, baby.”

“Fuck me right and I will be,” Taeyong counters, smirking when Johnny takes a shaky breath, his eyes sweeping up Taeyong’s body as his hand continues to stroke up and down the length of his cock. 

“Fuck,” Johnny murmurs, repeating himself under his breath as Taeyong reaches for Johnny’s pants to pull them all the way off, throwing them somewhere behind him as he pushes Johnny up against the headboard. 

“What are you doing?” Johnny asks, watching Taeyong shift, swinging a leg over Johnny’s lap to straddle his thighs. 

“You remember what you asked me earlier, baby?” Taeyong asks, palms sliding over Johnny’s shoulders, squeezing the muscles under his palm as his eyes blow wide with lust, Johnny’s body under him a work of fucking art. 

Johnny shakes his head, no, hands running up and down the length of Taeyong’s thighs where they’re stretched over his lap, thumbs stroking over the sensitive skin of Taeyong’s inner thighs, a bruise he left there earlier. “What was it?” Johnny hums. 

Taeyong leans forward, coming up onto his knees as he leans in to whisper in Johnny’s ear, dragging his teeth across the shell, “You were being a little shit and asked me about my favorite sex position, Johnny. You remember what I said, baby?”

When Taeyong pulls back he finds Johnny’s eyes dark as his gaze flicks down to his lips, a crooked smirk forms on his mouth, cheeks whiskering in the way that drives Taeyong insane. “Go ahead and remind me,” Johnny murmurs, leaning his back into the headboard.

Taeyong knows Johnny remembers exactly what he said. But that doesn’t stop him from grabbing Johnny’s dick and rolling on a condom, slicking his hand up with lube and covering Johnny’s cock in it, rubbing the slick tip over his hole in teasing strokes as he lines it up. 

“Riding dick,” Taeyong whispers into Johnny’s mouth, sliding down on Johnny’s cock at the same time, down and down and down as his ass swallows Johnny’s shaft in tight warmth, already stretched wide enough from Johnny’s fingers that Johnny’s fully inside him with just one thrust. 

Johnny’s head falls back with a curse, his mouth falling open in a cry of pure ecstasy when Taeyong grinds his hips down until he’s fully flush with Johnny’s hips. Taeyong doesn’t know if he’s ever felt this full — Johnny’s dick buried so deep inside of him he could probably feel it if he touched his stomach. 

“You’re so fucking tight,” Johnny breathes, grabbing Taeyong’s ass and grinding up into his body, his hips snapping against Taeyong’s almost as loud as the moan Taeyong lets out at the feeling. Taeyong whines at the drag of Johnny’s cock against his inner walls, still sensitive from his first orgasm and reeling in the feeling of Johnny inside of him.

Johnny’s hands slide around to grip Taeyong’s hips, his eyes half-lidded as he leans back and just watches as Taeyong rides him, mouth parted and gaze molten honey. Johnny’s eyes slide down to where his cock is disappearing into Taeyong, again and again and again, and he curses, low and rough as his fingers flex against Taeyong’s hips. 

Taeyong slows down, grinding his hips down on Johnny’s cock, hands fisting into the shorn hair at Johnny’s nape and tugging Johnny’s head back, pressing wet kisses to the column of his throat as he rocks against his hips, against every thrust of Johnny’s hips that he meets. 

“Look at you, Yong, just fucking taking it,” Johnny curses, grabbing Taeyong’s ass with his as he fucks up hard into him, “You’re going to kill me.” 

I plan on it, Taeyong thinks, squeezing down as hard as he can at the same time Johnny bottoms out, a wicked grin on his lips when he feels Johnny twitch inside of him. 

“You can take it, too,” Taeyong says, smirking when Johnny’s fingers squeeze his hips, eyes fluttering shut against his cheeks. 

“Fuck, yeah, I can take it,” Johnny laughs, eyes pryign back open as he grins up at Taeyong, a glint in his eye. “Been thinking about getting my dick inside you all day.”

“Just today?” Taeyong says through a whine, breath getting knocked out of him when Johnny presses the soles of his feet into the mattress, using the leverage to thrust into Taeyong, matching his pace perfectly. Taeyong’s legs burning from the effort of holding himself up, starting to shake as he impales himself on Johnny’s cock, chasing the pleasure shooting through his veins. 

“God you wanna be praised so fucking bad, don’t you baby?” Johnny asks, punctuating the question with a particularly hard snap of his hips that jostles Taeyong and leaves him moaning, his hands finding the top of the headboard for balance. “Desperate for it, aren’t you? I’ll praise you, honey, tell you how fucking gorgoeus you are. You like that don’t you, kitten?”

At Taeyong’s silence, Johnny grips his chin, turning his face so he meets Johnny’s eyes. Taeyong nods against his fist, gasping when Johnny’s cock brushes his prostate on his next stroke. 

“Don’t you?” Johnny repeats, voice gravelly, “With words, darling.”

“Fu-uck. Yeah, Johnny. I fucking love it when you talk like that, Taeyong sobs out, still desperately trying to keep his rhythm as he feels every nerve in his body firing all at once, fire licking up his spine from the stretch as Johnny’s cock fucks him open. “Wanna be good for you.”

“I know you do. Shit, I mean, look at you. So fucking sexy, baby. Wanted to fuck you from the second I saw you, fuck. Knew you’d look so fucking perfect sitting on my cock.” 

The praise shoots straight to Taeyong’s cock and he moans, his cock dribbling against Johnny’s stomach at his words. 

‘From the second I saw you,’ Taeyong’s mind repeats, even more turned on from the fact that even when Johnny acted like he hated him, he still wanted him. 

Fucking hell. 

And then Johnny finds his prostate, just one small shift in the angle of his hips until every thrust has Taeyong gasping, pushing back down onto Johnny’s dick, the pressure of the head of his cock against Johnny’s abs just enough to make Taeyong’s eyes roll back in his head. And he knows it’s over for him. 

“I’m gonna—” Taeyong whispers, tears clinging to his eyelashes as his legs start to give out under him.

“Me, too, baby,” Johnny moans, hips stuttering as he loses his rhythm, “C’mon, let go for me. Let go, beautiful.” 

That’s all it takes before Taeyong’s coming untouched, spurting white onto his and Johnny’s stomachs, moaning through it all as Johnny grabs his cock into a tight fist and strokes him through it. And then Johnny’s coming too, Taeyong’s name falling from his lips like a prayer as his head tosses back onto the headboard and his eyes screw shut.

Johnny looks beautiful as he comes, inky hair fanning across his face, sweaty strands stuck to his forehead and the ends curling at his nape, his face screwed tight in a moment of ecstasy as his body goes lax under Taeyong’s touch. 

Taeyong presses his forehead into Johnny’s, both of them panting as they come down from their highs, the afterglow settling onto them like bottled starlight. Taeyong’s grin is sated when Johnny presses a soft kiss to his cheek, giving him a playful slap to his side as he tells him to move. 

“C’mon,” Johnny urges, lifting Taeyong’s hips a little, enough for him to get the idea. “Don’t wanna hurt you.”

“Oh my god,” Taeyong groans, wincing when Johnny pulls out, his cock dragging against Taeyong’s sensitive walls. He rolls over onto his stomach, sighing as his body relaxes back into the mattress, his face flushed and sweaty and limbs numb with exhaustion as he pushes his face into the pillow below him. 

Taeyong expects Johnny to lie down after, too exhausted to want to move, nestling into Taeyong’s body and falling asleep to the sound of his heartbeat.

What he doesn’t expect is Johnny’s palm to rub across his ass, spreading his cheeks apart so his thumb can run over Taeyong’s swollen rim, now dry and clean and more sensitive than ever. 

“What the fuck are you doing?” Taeyong asks, heart in his throat as it beats erratically against his chest, his body on high alert as Johnny’s thumb drags back over his hole. 

“Pretty,” Johnny comments, that one word causing Taeyong’s entire body to flush crimson. 

“Johnny—” Taeyong starts, a chill running down his spine as he feels Johnny’s breath ghost across his back, his lips brushing the skin below Taeyong’s ear as he presses a kiss to his neck.  

"I think you can come again," Johnny murmurs, pressing a kiss high on Taeyong's back, between his shoulder blades, fingers dancing across Taeyong’s skin, leaving goosebumps in their wake. 

"You’re kidding,” Taeyong balks. “Tell me you’re kidding.”

“Does it feel like I’m kidding?” Johnny asks, lips muffled against the top notch in his spine as his hands move to Taeyong’s thighs, spreading his legs wide on the mattress until the stretch starts to burn. 

"I can't ," Taeyong hisses, cheeks heating at the way Johnny's pressing kisses lower and lower until his lips are at the dimples in Taeyong's back, his hands leaving trails of fire up and down the back of Taeyong's thighs as he runs his hands over Taeyong's flushed skin. "I can’t. I already came twice," Taeyong reminds him, his voice quiet, just shy of embarrassed.

Johnny's hands slip back up to his ass, his palm sliding his cheeks apart as one fingers moves to draw circles around his swollen rim that have Taeyong biting the cotton of the pillowcase. Taeyong goes completely still when a second finger joins the first, circling slow enough to drive him crazy. "But you're gonna come again, aren't you baby?" Johnny asks slowly, collecting some of the cum on Taeyong's ass and pushing it back into his hole, making an obscene noise that has Taeyong whimpering into the pillowcase, cheeks violently red. “For me?”

"Johnny, fuck ," Taeyong moans, pushing his hips back against Johnny's hand. "I c-can't."

"Oh, but I think you can," Johnny murmurs, voice low and his free hand wraps around Taeyong's cock, giving it a long, slick tug. Taeyong's feels his dick twitch in Johnny's palm, his body thrumming with pleasure as Johnny works him back up until even just the tip of his dick pressing into the mattress is too much for him, his oversensitive tip rubbing against the cotton causing his hips to push back against Johnny's hand, trying to push away from it. "You're gonna be a good boy for me, aren't you?" Johnny asks, his fingers pushing back into Taeyong at the same time his hand tightens around the head of his cock.

Taeyong gasps into the pillow, overwhelmed to the point tears are collecting in the corners of his eyes, soaking into the pillow below his face. The grip Johnny has on his cock gets tighter, fingertips curling around his base and pumping him fast.

"Answer the question, Taeyong," Johnny growls, fingertips finding Taeyong's abused prostate and grinding down until Taeyong is squirming and moaning under his touch. 

It’s too much. It's too much, it's too much, it's too—

“Please, fuck, okay, yes—“ Taeyong sobs, turning his face out of the tear soaked spot on the pillow to take gulps of air, his eyes finding Johnny’s behind him.

“Yes, what?” Johnny goads him, fingers catching on Taeyong’s swollen rim when he pulls them back out before sliding them immediately back in, his knuckles brushing against the sensitive skin there and Taeyong starts to hear color. 

“I’m not fucking calling you daddy,” Taeyong growls, grinding back against Johnny’s hand as his hips start to roll against the mattress. 

Johnny laughs at that, a sound too endeared for how hard Johnny’s fingering him, light and airy and smoky around the edges in a way that’s distinctly Johnny’s. 

“I was going for please,” Johnny grins, pressing a single kiss to Taeyong’s cheek that’s far too soft, too far gone from the moment. If his fingers weren’t currently drawing out the hardest orgasm of Taeyong’s life, a third digit pushing in with the other two and curling inside of him, he would have thought that felt like a confession. 

But maybe that is what this is, chasing each other’s highs in the dimly lit room, wrapped in each other's arms with the taste of the other on their tongue, hearts synched and beating together.

A confession.

"Want. Stop, wait, I want. Please, on my back," Taeyong pants, overcome with the need to see Johnny's face in front of his own. 

Johnny stills his fingers, pulling them out to let Taeyong turn, sinking back down onto the mattress once he's flipped over. Johnny's gaze looks mildly concerned when he looks back down at Taeyong, "You still okay?"

"Yeah, 'm okay. Just wanna look at you," Taeyong breathes out, smiling when Johnny rolls his eyes, his smile and pink cheeks giving away his real feelings about Taeyong's words. His breath hitches when Johnny looks down on him with a look of pure adoration in his eyes, kissing Taeyong soft and sweet, tongue licking into his mouth before pulling him closer by the hips to finish what he started.

It doesn't take long for Johnny to find his pace again, fingers pumping back into Taeyong fast enough he's right back on that cliff of no return, succumbing to desire in seconds. Taeyong moans at the shift, every jab of Johnny's fingers now hitting him perfectly.

Taeyong tugs Johnny's mouth to him with desperate hands on his cheeks, pulling him back down into an open mouth kiss as Johnny draws him closer and closer to the edge, pleasure and lust and need coursing through him, heating his core until he's dizzy, the only thing he can focus on the feeling of Johnny pressed on top of him, his fingers in Taeyong pumping at the same time his tongue fucks into Taeyong's mouth.

"Come for me, kitten," Johnny breathes, and then Taeyong's shattering in his arms, eyes screwing shut as the most intense wave of pleasure he's ever experienced washes over him.

And when he finally comes down, body numb and buzzing and sated, he finds Johnny staring down at him, mouth a little agape and eyes glued to Taeyong's.

It takes Taeyong a massive effort to push Johnny to the side and off of him.

"You—" Taeyong pants, chest heaving as he rolls onto his side and winces from moving, alone, his body already ridiculously sore,"—are a fucking menace."

"You love it," Johnny murmurs, laughing when Taeyong shoots him a glare. A moment of pleasant silence falls over them before there are soft lips pressing sweetly onto Taeyong's, fingertips caressing Taeyong's cheek, brushing sweaty blonde hair off of his forehead and curling it around his ears.

"What was that for?" Taeyong asks softly, grinning when Johnny shrugs, returning to his side of the bed to stare at Taeyong from his own respective pillow.

"You're beautiful," Johnny whispers, something terrifyingly genuine in his eyes as he stares back at Taeyong with stars and wonder written in his gaze. “I just think I’ve been waiting a long time for you, you know? You’re lovely, Taeyong.” 

Taeyong takes a shaky breath, the weight of Johnny's words crashing onto him, his heart aching heavy in his chest with adoration. 

I love you, Taeyong thinks. Nothing else seems to cover it. 

Butterflies threaten to split Taeyong’s chest open to fly out when Johnny kisses him, hammering against his ribs in a wave of cobalt blue as nerves and love and the feeling of falling off of a cliff all hit him at once. Taeyong doesn't let those three words fly from his lips like he's desperate to, he just thinks them and knows them to be true, and presses them into Johnny's mouth with everything he has, giving him every part of his soul in one kiss.

He loves Johnny.

Taeyong pulls him back in for another kiss by his chin, presses their foreheads together and just breathes. He breathes in the moment, breathes in the scent of Johnny, the scent of hotel sheets below him stained with sweat and cologne and sticky with lube. He breathes in every imperfect aspect of the moment and savors it, because in this moment, nothing else matters but one simple truth.

Taeyong loves Johnny.

And even if a little part of Johnny will forever be lost to a man who will never return to him, and a little part of Taeyong will forever be lost to his past, the red-stained relationships that haunt him in his worst moments, Taeyong loves Johnny. And Johnny loves him, too.

Taeyong doesn't need to hear those words spoken out loud to know it to be true. He feels it in the way Johnny carries him to the bathroom and sits with him in the tub and scrubs him clean, pressing kisses and soft spoken praise to his skin as he goes. He hears it in the way Johnny talks to him about everything and nothing at all as he tries to fall asleep, ear pressed to Johnny's heart, and hand curled around his middle. He feels it in the way Johnny falls asleep with his arms wrapped around Taeyong tight enough he knows Johnny would never let anything happen to him if he could help it. 

And for the first time in his life, Taeyong doesn't feel like that love is something to fear. Because if there's anyone he trusts with his heart, it's Johnny.