Jaemin was tired.
When he woke up and it was still dark in his room, he sighed, before cutting himself off. He forgot that Jeno had crawled into his bed before falling asleep and he didn't want to wake him up. He slowly reached for his phone, plugged in on the floor next to him.
Carefully unplugging it, the light shone on his face, displaying the time.
Jaemin was having trouble getting any sleep for the past couple of days and he knew the others were noticing. Hell, even Chenle noticed, and he had only been staying in the dorm the past couple of days since their promotions had started.
The past week had been a lot to handle. Jaemin knows himself and he isn't usually the type to take a lot of things to heart. Whether that was growing a thick skin in his injury period, where he had to push through to make it to the other side, or through being an idol and recognizing that not everyone is going to love you. Regardless, Jaemin had a lot of love to give and if that wasn't always returned? Well, Jaemin had grown into a strong person who is able to continue giving love anyway.
He knew he had his members who would always give him way more love than he ever thought he deserved. Especially the boy sleeping - and snoring slightly mind you - beside him that he was lucky enough to call his boyfriend.
Needless to say, Jaemin thought he was strong. But this time, it felt like the world was just pushing him down every chance it got. There were rumours spread by people with too much time on their hands all over the internet - dating rumours, bullying rumours, you name it. Usually Jaemin knew these kinds of things happen, but all at once? All to him? Right when they started their comeback?
It was a couple of days into their riding comeback when Renjun had to physically take Jaemin's phone from him and delete the twitter app.
"This is getting out of hand" Renjun had mumbled to himself, fiddling with Jaemin's phone before putting it down and sitting in front of Jaemin on the couch.
He softly grabbed the younger's hand, "You don't need to be looking at those things Jaem. Really, they're just dumb people with no lives who just want someone to hate on."
Jaemin had cracked a smile, amused by how heated Renjun was getting.
"I know. It's ok, really. It doesn't bother me." Jaemin gave him a half smile, but Renjun didn't look overly convinced.
"Right." Renjun gave him a stern look, "Jaem, you've got us ok? No matter what."
Jaemin had shifted uncomfortable at the serious turn in the conversation but he squeezed Renjun's hand in gratitude. The members knew him well enough now to read him like a book.
Now, in the dark, in his bed, with Jeno at his side, Jaemin couldn't help but think back to those comments. It had only piled on since then, tenfold. They went to interviews and the comments would be filled with stupid jokes and people asking for him to leave the group. The thing he hated most of all were the looks of pity that the DJs at the radio interviews would give him. poor guy they thought getting all of this hate.
But he was strong. He didn't need pity. He didn't need comforting. They're just words and he is an adult now. He could handle some words.
Filling his head with the false confidence, he pressed the button to re-download twitter. It would only be for a short while. He just wanted to confirm to himself that surely after a week, everyone had moved on. That way he could get some closure.
With the blue light illuminating his face, he opened the app and went to the trending page.
Jaemin. Trending #1. Kpop.
Ok….he thought. Maybe this was one of those clear the searches. He had seen these before when the hate had died down and the fans wanted to shower him with praises. He really did appreciate the support of the fans who kept reminding him that not everyone was against him right now. He clicked on his own name, hoping to see some of those and feel alright to snuggle back in with his boyfriend and get some sleep before their schedule the next morning.
What he didn't expect - but really, he should have known to expect - was the onslaught of hate that he got just clicking the name. People were dissecting his friendships with the members, dissecting his jokes - that were jokes - and calling him unspeakable things. They were saying he was giving the team a bad name. He should leave the group. One tweet caught his attention in his scrolling:
Jaemin…I told y'all he should've just stayed injured…they were doing so much better without all his drama. Now the boys have to cover for him…he even messed up the dances like has he heard of practice??? It's like he doesn't care anymore.
Below the hateful words was a video compilation of all the dance moves Jaemin had messed up in the last two broadcasts. Lack of sleep and a mind full of questions and doubts caused a couple of missteps but he didn't stress them at the time. He knew everyone made mistakes and he didn't want to be too harsh on himself. Does that mean he doesn't care?
Maybe people thought he didn't care about the team? About the performance? About the fans? He really can't have people thinking that. Dream is all he had, he loved the boys and the fans so much. Why wasn't that showing? Why were people misunderstanding everything he did? Maybe he should just stop speaking, and dancing, get less parts, stop being a burden, stop-
Jaemin's running thoughts were interrupted by a hand on his chest. He looked to his right, seeing Jeno looking at him with so much worry in his sleepy eyes. Jeno's hand was laying flat on his chest.
"Hey," Jeno whispered so softly, just the sound of his voice brought a hint of relief to Jaemin's body. Enough to really feel how much he was shaking. Was he hyperventilating? He felt like he was outside of his body. "Nana, are you ok? Your heart is racing."
Jeno shuffled so he was laying his head on Jaemin's chest, one arm around his waist and his leg hooking over the younger's.
With Jaemin's phone light now off, the two were laying in the dark.
"Um…" Jaemin wanted to tell him he was fine, but he felt the lump in his throat he hadn't noticed earlier. He brought a hand to his face and felt tears he didn't know had slid down. No no no, this can't be happening. He can't be breaking down over something so stupid. Jeno followed his boyfriend's hand, stopping on Jaemin's face as his concern exploded.
Jeno suddenly sat up, pulling his boyfriend up with him and flicking on the lamp next to his head. Suddenly the room was filled with a warm glow.
"Baby.." Jeno caressed Jaemin's cheek, wiping away a stray tear with one hand, the other holding onto Jaemin's hand so tight. "Talk to me. What's wrong hm?"
Jaemin shook his head, letting his bangs fall over his face as he looked down, embarrassed.
"No no no, hey, none of that. Look at me sweetheart." Jeno softly tilted Jaemin's head up until they were looking at each other. Jeno pouted seeing Jaemin's eyes filled with tears, cooing softly. He moved back until his back hit the wall and opened his arms to the younger.
"Come here love. It's ok." Jeno motioned for Jaemin to come closer and Jaemin was too exhausted to resist the comfort. He made his way onto Jeno's lap, wrapping his legs around Jeno's torso as Jeno hugged him tightly against his chest.
Rubbing his hand up and down the younger's back, Jeno whispered in his ear, "You're ok. It's ok. Just breathe, I've got you." Over and over, like a mantra.
Rather than calming down, Jaemin's relaxed body allowed his emotions to take over. Before he knew it, he was sobbing into the older's chest.
"You've been holding this in for a while, haven't you bub?" Jeno kissed his temple and Jaemin shivered at the nickname. A wave of comfort flowed through him as he nodded his head, trying to breathe through the sobs.
"I-I" he took a shuddering breath in, "I - just - "
"Shhhhh, shhh it's ok. Don't talk baby we have all night ok? Just try to calm down for me ok? Deep breaths Nana, you can do it." Jeno spoke so kindly, so softly, like he was talking to a baby. Anyone else talking like this to Jaemin would trigger his defensiveness at being condescended, but when Jeno did it, Jaemin felt protected. Small. He felt like he had an angel watching out for him.
Both boys didn't know how long had passed before they heard a soft knock on the door. Jaemin's sobs had died down, his breaths still shaky, and was left with slight hiccups as he buried his head in Jeno's chest. He felt extremely vulnerable and exposed, wearing Jeno's hoodie that the older had put on him at some point amidst his sobs.
Jaemin's face flushed as he grabbed onto Jeno's sweater tightly. He didn't want anyone seeing him like this.
Jeno held onto him tighter and Jaemin felt himself sink into the embrace, rubbing his face comfortingly in Jeno's hoodie. He felt Jeno chuckle softly at his childish actions.
With Jeno's hand protectively on Jaemin's head, Jeno looks towards the door, "Now's not a good time."
"J-Jeno hyung?" It was Jisung's soft, hesitant voice.
"Jisungie-" Before Jeno could continue, the youngest peeked his head in the door, his hair a disheveled mess and his glasses placed crookedly on his nose. His eyes were filled with concern.
"I-I got up to get water but-" He stopped, considering his words. "Is hyung…ok?" Jisung sounded so worried and hesitant to take a step further into the room that Jeno looked down at Jaemin, asking for permission. He felt Jaemin's hesitation and then a small nod against his chest.
"Ok, come in. Just close the door behind you." Jeno spoke softly as Jisung carefully closed the door, plunging all three boys back into darkness.
Jisung walked slowly to the bed, lightly hitting his left against the desk on his way, not being able to see a thing. One he reached the bed, his eyes had adjusted enough to see Jeno's worried and exhausted face, Jaemin tucked into his chest, taking quiet, shaky breaths.
Jeno was softly running his hands through the hair at the back of Jaemin's head, keeping a steady rhythm. He reached his other hand out and placed it on Jisung's knee. The youngest was sitting cross legged beside the couple, hands fidgeting, and eyes wide with worry, looking only at Jaemin's back.
"Jisungie, look at me." Jisung looked up at Jeno, biting his lip worriedly. "He's ok." Jeno mouthed wordlessly to the younger. Jisung shoulders seemed to relax a bit as he reached out a hand and placed it on Jaemin's thigh, wanting to ground him with solid contact.
Jeno had his cheek squished against the top of Jaemin's head and Jisung felt himself smile at the adorable image in front of him. The oldest was running his fingertips across Jaemin's back comfortingly. He lowered his head to speak into Jaemin's ear, on the opposite side of Jisung, speaking softly enough so the youngest couldn't hear.
"Love, do you want to be alone?"
Jeno felt the younger tense against him, pulling his boyfriend closer and closing his fists tightly around his sweater, shaking his head quickly. "No, no, no, please don't leave." He whispered into his chest.
Jeno chuckled softly and Jisung furrowed his eyebrows, rubbing his thumb comfortingly on Jaemin's leg.
"That's not what I meant bub. I'm not going anywhere hm?" He hummed comfortingly, bouncing the younger slightly on his lap like a baby.
Jaemin nodded softly, relaxing again in the embrace.
"But…I'm guessing its getting a little hard to breathe in there?" Jeno felts himself relax slightly when he heard his boyfriend let out a soft laugh. He hadn't realized how tense he was from worry. "Maybe you can poke out of there and let Jisungie know you aren't dying? What do you think hm?" He was speaking louder now and Jisung, overhearing, squeezed Jaemin's thigh encouragingly.
Jaemin let out a soft sigh, the two other boys giving him the time he needed to take his face out of his boyfriend's chest. Slowly, the blue-haired boy pulled away, still remaining in Jeno's lap, but looking to the side and leaning his body towards Jisung.
He opened his arms to the youngest and, without hesitation, Jisung shifted closer and leaned into the hug.
"I'm ok Jisungie, don't worry about me love. It's ok." How had this turned into Jaemin comforting Jisung? Jisung hugged him back tightly, pulling away and looking at the older with worry.
"Hyung, I know it's been…hard recently…" Jisung pushed his glasses up his nose, a nervous habit. He wasn't used to being the comforter rather than the comforted, especially with his Jaemin hyung.
Jaemin would usually be able to reassure Jisung. Would usually let him know that, although things might be hard, he should always see the pretty things like his hyung and ignore the hate, but right now….right now he felt absolutely exhausted. So tired that anything could make him breakdown at any moment.
It was that kind of exhausted after crying that left him fragile and left his skin feeling sensitive and prickly.
He leaned his body onto Jeno's chest, still facing Jisung with his head resting on his boyfriend.
Jeno's deep and even breathing was calming him quickly. Jeno rested his lips on the crown of Jaemin's head, giving him soft kisses and breathing him in.
"Um," Jisung continued hesitantly. Jaemin put his hand atop of Jisung's that was resting on his leg. This seemed to give Jisung a sign that he could continue. "I just wanted you to know that we're all here for you. And…" He let out a shaky breath, feeling himself get emotional but not wanted to show it. He had to stay calm for his hyung.
After a deep breath and another hand squeeze from Jaemin he continued, "And you're one of the kindest, smiliest, smartest, most caring, and loving people I know. The way you take care of all of us and the way you love Jeno hyung and the way you care about the fans just everything you do hyung. Th-they can't take that away from you. From us. Don't let them take that away because-" A deep breath in, "because we need you hyung. I need you."
He felt as if he had said all of that in on breath and felt his shoulders sag when he had gotten it all out. Everything he had been thinking for so long. He was staring at the sheets under him when he was done and when he looked up, to his horror, there were tears running down Jaemin's face and tears bunching up in Jeno's eyes.
"Hyung I-I didn't mean to upset you, please don't cry."
Jaemin slowly, with Jeno's help, got out of his boyfriend's lap, lunging himself into Jisung's arms. The youngest reacted just in time, wrapping his arms around him. He felt Jaemin shaking slightly in his hold.
"Thank you Jisungie. Thank you, really." Jaemin whispered into Jisung's shoulder. Jisung let out a sigh of relief and held on tighter. He felt Jeno's hand squeezing his shoulder and as a he looked up at him from behind Jaemin, he saw him looking at him with pride.
Jeno pet Jisung's hair adoringly as Jaemin pulled away from him. Jeno wrapped his arms around his boyfriend's waist from behind, feeling possessive and protective over him. Even though he had been out of his arms for a matter of seconds, in the rare moments that Jaemin gets incredibly emotional or sad, Jeno's protective side jumps out. He needs him in his arms and safe at all times.
Jisung smiled endearingly, recognizing Jeno's behaviour and letting go of Jaemin as Jeno buried his chin in Jaemin's shoulder, curling himself around his boyfriend from behind.
"Are you gonna be ok hyung?" Jisung searched Jaemin's eyes for any sign of hesitation.
The older nodded softly, wiping at his dried tears with his sweater paws. He sniffled and Jeno kissed his shoulder in response.
"Yeah, Jisungie, I'll be ok. You should get back to bed, I'm sure Chenle is wondering where you are."
As if on cue, Jisung's phone buzzed in his pocket. The youngest picked it up looking at a text asking where he was from Chenle.
"Well, that's my sign to go back. Hyung…" Jisung leaned in, hugging Jaemin quickly and, by way of Jeno being attached to his boyfriend, hugging Jeno too.
"Love you guys." Jisung felt himself blush slightly at being so sappy but it's important they knew.
"We love you too Jisungie." Jeno smiled, his eyes crinkling endearingly. Jisung stole a glance at Jaemin who was trying to hold back his third round of tears. The poor boy, Jisung thought, whenever he cried once he always had a hard time stopping. It must be due to the fact that he cried so rarely that when he did, there is a lot he held back coming back to the surface. Nevertheless, he still managed a small smile towards JIsung as the youngest got up and headed out the door.
Once Jisung closed the door behind him, Jeno moved to lay down on the bed, gently pulling Jaemin with him. They adjusted themselves so that Jaemin head was resting on Jeno's chest, bodies intertwined. Jeno rubbed Jaemin's back comfortingly, the other hand running its way through the younger's soft hair.
They stayed like that for a while, basking in the silence, as Jaemin let out a couple of tears before calming himself down again with Jeno's heartbeat loud in his ears. He let out a relaxed sigh, finally feeling the last of the tension leave his body.
"You wanna talk about it?" Jeno spoke quietly, treading softly in case Jaemin was still feeling emotional.
"Mmm…" Jaemin hummed contemplatively, "tomorrow?" He whispered, voice raw from the crying. He was waiting for Jeno to scold him, telling him he needed to talk out his feelings. Jaemin felt his eyes drooping with exhaustion, knowing it must be around 5am at this point, and they would have to be up in another two hours for their schedule tomorrow.
To Jaemin's surprise, rather than a disagreement or a scolding, Jeno planted several soft kisses on his head, squeezing him tighter.
"Tomorrow." Jeno confirmed, kissing the tip of Jaemin's ear, then his temple, then his head again. "I love you Nana." Jeno was breathing deep and evenly and Jaemin knew he was doing it for him.
"I really, really, really love you. Forever."
Jaemin felts chills run through his body. Of course, the two had said I love you to each other thousands of times but this time, something in Jeno's voice, his breathing, his heartbeat, his hold - something felt intensely deep.
Jaemin nuzzled his face into Jeno's chest.
"I love you too." He wanted to speak in poetic ways about his intense love for the older but right now, all he could come up with, were the three simple words.
"Jaemin," Hearing his full name, not a nickname, Jaemin tilted his head up to look at the older with concern, "You're…" Jeno let out a small laugh at himself, "You're everything to me and anybody who hurts you hurts me. There's no one else like you in the world Minnie, I know that. I'm so lucky to have you and I will spend my life protecting you. You never have to worry about anything, I promise."
For what he hopes was the final time that night, Jaemin had tears in his eyes, but these tears were different.
He leaned up, placing a soft kiss on his boyfriend's lips as Jeno caressed his cheek.
"You're my soulmate Jen." Jaemin whispered, forgetting why he was ever upset in the first place.
"And you're mine."
The two boys fell asleep, entangled in one another. They would have a lot more coming at them to face the next morning, but for tonight, in Jeno's arms, Jaemin felt nothing but loved, needed, and safe. Forever.