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halfway between 2am and 2much tequila

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It’s the breathless quiet of Friday morning when Thursday night is still lingering like an aftertaste that Yunho’s phone pings.

 

[Jongho]

come collect ur mingi he’s had. Enough

 

The bed is toasty, and the apartment block is quiet, and Yunho was in the middle of watching vine compilations.  He just got off a night shift at the 24 hour takeout restaurant he works part time at, and he has a 10:15 lab tomorrow morning.  But somewhere out there, Mingi is drunk, large, and probably shouting.  Maybe shirtless.  Probably pantsless.  Yunho kicks his duvet back and tries to remember where he flung his own pants when he got home.

 

[Yunho]

omw

 

By the time Yunho arrives, it’s clear the party has wound down by the muted thump of some R&B song pressing against the quiet conversations littered around the room.  People curled close on couches sharing a blunt, standing in tight circles with drinks in hand, sitting cross-legged on the ground showing each other something on their phones.  No one seems to notice Yunho stepping through the dark like just another shadow on the wall.

 

That’s before Wooyoung smashes straight into him, staggering him back a couple of steps as he laughs into Yunho’s neck.

 

“Yunhoooo!” he shouts, louder than anyone else in the room as he pulls Yunho along. “We neeeeed you, come quick!”

 

The light of the kitchen cuts  a hard contrast against the darkness of the living room.  Yunho squints under the fluorescent glow, and sighs.

 

There, on the checkered tiles, is Mingi face-down and kicking his feet like he’s trying to doggy paddle.  His pants are still on, so that’s a good sign.  It would be almost impossible to tell there was a person under him if not for the flailing of Hongjoong’s arms and legs.

 

Wooyoung points down at the pile of human on the floor and says, “Pick him up!”

 

“Uh,” Yunho prods Mingi with his foot and gets no reaction, “Is he okay?”

 

“He’s fine ,” Hongjoong whines, slapping Mingi’s back when he starts wiggling harder. “I’m the one getting crushed here!”

 

Mingi is saying something, and when Yunho kneels down and leans closer, he hears Mingi warbling the national anthem to the rhythm of the thumping bass from the living room.

 

“Alright champ.  Up and at ‘em.”

 

It’s a well known fact among their friend group by now that alcohol has a mysterious effect on Mingi’s limbs.  His dead weight doesn’t simply adhere to gravity and yearn for the sweet magnetism of the Earth’s core.  Instead, he gets floppy – like those inflatable car dealership mascots.  So what should be the equivalent of Yunho deadlifting a sack full of cannonballs turns into something closer to Yunho trying to subdue a caffeinated anemone with a bear hug.

 

“Why can’t you be normal shaped,” Yunho laments.  He’s trying to throw Mingi over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry while Mingi is busy twisting around for a classic bridal style number instead.  But at least he’s not crushing Hongjoong anymore, who rocks around on his back like an overturned turtle until Wooyoung dives in and wretches him upward by the front of his shirt.

 

“Carry me!”  Mingi demands, still trying to turn around midair while Yunho is half-crouched on the ground with their friends cheering in a tight circle around them like some kind of set up for a congratulatory bukkake.

 

“Yunho needs a drink!” San shouts from behind Yunho, shaking his shoulders in sloppy, drunken excitement.

 

“Yunho doesn’t need a drink!” Yunho shouts.  “Yunho needs to go back home and go to sleep!”

 

Wooyoung puts his hands on his knees and bends down to eye level with Yunho to scream, “Booooo, bitch, don’t be boring!”

 

“He wants to go home!” Mingi suddenly roars, turning to face Wooyoung.  “If he wants to go home, then the party is over!”

 

“No, no,” Yunho amends.  “Party’s not over, we’re just leaving buddy.”

 

“I am the party,” Mingi says, dead serious, and Yunho thinks that’s his cue to start making a tactical retreat.

 

It takes a minute to get Mingi to his feet, and then another minute to get him walking in the right direction.  Ten minutes for him to finish his goodbyes.  Three minutes and a helping hand from Seonghwa to get him to climb up on Yunho’s back koala style.  And then finally, they hit the road.

 

It’s one of those bright nights where the yellow lights of the city tinge the lower gradients of the sky a deep aqua.  As if the earth is a seabed and the stars are fish swimming overhead, scales glinting in the moonlight that shines through the ocean waves.

 

When Yunho says as much, Mingi tells him, “That makes you an angler fish.”

 

“I feel more like a diver,” Yunho responds, hiking Mingi up when he starts to slip down a bit.  “The kind in those suits with the big round helmets.”

 

“Like Spongebob’s TV.”

 

“What?”

 

“Spongebob’s TV,” Mingi says more slowly, “It’s shaped like a diving helmet.”

 

“Huh,” Yunho says, “I never noticed that.”

 

And for a while, that’s that.  Yunho is content to walk in silence as Mingi slumps over his back, humming tunelessly.  It’s a chilly night, sitting on the cusp of summer and autumn, but the warmth at Yunho’s back wards off the cold.

 

“Were you jealous?” Mingi whispers after a while, right up against his ear.  His breath is hot and damp and Yunho flinches away from it because it tickles.

 

“Jealous of what?”

 

“Hongjoong.  I was all over him.  Literally.”

 

Yunho snorts.  “No, I’m not jealous that you nearly flattened Hongjoong.”

 

Mingi starts squirming and Yunho thinks he’s just being restless and annoying.  But there's a pattern there, in the wiggling of his body.  How his shoulders are stiff but his stomach keeps rolling like he’s doing the wave, like he’s grinding to some Jay Park song on the dance floor, like he’s — 

 

“Oh my god,” Yunho squawks, “You are not humping me right now!”

 

Mingi throws his head back and cackles.  Alcohol Fucks With Mingi’s Limbs Syndrome rears its ugly head.  Yunho can’t tell exactly what’s happening behind him, just that his center of balance is suddenly thrown out the window and he has to stop and stagger to keep from toppling.  It works, for a moment.

 

But then Yunho’s grip on Mingi’s thighs slips.  

 

Because Mingi is a sweet inebriated boy with too much trust in his heart, his legs are practically slack around Yunho’s waist, and his grip is entirely around Yunho’s big, safe shoulders.  So naturally, when Yunho loses Mingi’s thighs, he loses the rest of Mingi as well.

 

And Mingi drags him straight down like an anchor.

 

There’s a horrible gurgling noise from Yunho and an ear-splitting shriek from Mingi that echoes down the empty street as they fall victim to gravity.  The world tilts and suddenly Yunho’s knees are smashing into the sidewalk and Yunho’s elbow is sinking into the spongy soil of someone’s front yard.  He can feel himself repeating ouch ouch ouch over and over like an incantation, but he can’t hear anything over Mingi’s howling.

 

“Quiet down,” he flails uselessly as Mingi clings to his side and laughs the last ounce of his sobriety away, “You’re gonna wake up the whole neighborhood.”

 

“It’s a student neighborhood,” Mingi reminds him, far too loud and right next to his ear.  “Nobody is sleeping right now.”

 

“I was almost asleep when I got called to come pick your big ass up.”

 

“My ass isn’t big,”Mingi pouts.  “It’s just right.”

 

“You bet it is,” Yunho assures him, giving the ass in question a reassuring pat.

 

“Let’s just stay here until morning,” Mingi suggests.  His eyes are almost completely closed and his hair is falling backwards off his forehead against the grass.

 

“I can feel dew seeping into my coat,” Yunho complains.

 

“You can have mine.”

 

“You’re not wearing a coat.”

 

Mingi pauses in contemplation.  “Fuck.”

 

“Hey, it’s okay,” Yunho cups his face and smooths away the crease between his eyebrows.  “It was a nice offer.”

 

“Nooooo,” Mingi moans in despair with his nose buried in the wet grass, “I need to do something for you.  You always do things for me.  You remind me when I have doctor appointments and buy me lunch when my card overdrafts.  And you don’t get annoyed when I borrow your clothes and never ever ever give them back.  And when I mess stuff up I always call you first, because you’re always the one who will drop what you’re doing to help me.  And, and…”

 

His voice is getting pitchy and thin, in that maybe-he’s-joking-maybe-he’s-crying way.  It’s hard to tell, since his face is pressed to Yunho’s shoulder now.

 

“I don’t mind when it’s you,” Yunho admits.  “I never mind when it’s you.”

 

The only response from Mingi is a whine before he starts flopping like a beached sea lion.  Yunho lets him do… Wherever it is he’s trying to do, until he feels a pair of arms wiggling around him and slowly tightening.

 

Oh.  Mingi wants a hug.  Yunho can do that, he decides, nuzzling his face against Mingi’s collar bones.

 

“Hey Yunho,” Mingi finally says, voice strangely quiet, “Do you like me?”

 

Yunho blinks.  They’re so close that he can feel his eyelashes drag on Mingi’s neck.  “Well…. Yeah.  Of course I do.”

 

“I mean…” Mingi’s intoxicated brain seems to swim through the last few shots of the night to find the right words, “Do you like me the way I like you?”

 

Yunho purses his lips to fight the smile that spreads across his face.  “Do you know what next wednesday is?”

 

Mingi goes quiet for a minute.  So quiet that Yunho wonders if he’s fallen asleep here, lying in a stranger’s front yard in the early hours of the morning.  

 

“The 15th?”

 

Yunho smiles in earnest.  “No, Mingi.  It’s the 16th.  Seven months since we started dating.”

 

There’s a sharp intake of breath, and then absolute awe in Mingi’s voice as he asks, “You’re counting?”

 

“I am,” Yunho says, dropping a dry kiss on the side of Mingis neck and then pulling away to look him in the eye, “Because I like you like you like me.”

 

“Dude,” Mingi breathes, voice wobbling, “That’s so fucking gay.”

 

Yunho exhales a soft laugh that ruffles Mingi’s bangs.  “Yeah,” he agrees, pushing the strands out of Mingi’s eyes with a soft touch, “A little.  Now, let's go home.  You can stay over at my place tonight.”

 

Mingi doesn’t perk up right away.  “You have class in the morning.”

 

“So sleep in while I’m gone,” Yunho suggests.  “I’ll grab lunch for you on my way back home.  How’s that sound?”

 

Mingi smiles.  “It sounds good.”

 

“Then what are we waiting for?” Yunho asks, eager to get up off the ground and into his comfy bed with his comfy boyfriend.  “Let’s go home.”

 

Mingi doesn’t ride on his back the rest of the way.  Instead, he walks in step with the slow pace Yunho has set, holding onto Yunho’s arm and leaning close for balance.