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When Taeyong doesn't sleep, he becomes... weird. Loopy, kind of unhinged. His energy starts feeding into itself, restless and boundless and out of control.

He budges into conversations that have nothing to do with him, pulls faces, dances like an idiot, and Doyoung watches, with a familiar kind of tension rising in him. He's been witnessing this for years now, periodically. Their schedules get tight, Taeyong's busier than any of theirs, juggling NCT with SuperM and his writing and producing, practice sessions, endless hours of work stacked on work stacked on-

"I thought he'd have learned to be better at this, by now," he says to Yuta, who is watching Taeyong bounce between Heachan and Mark, Kun and his boys, and Jaehyun, who is trying to talk to Winwin, and clearly getting fed up by Taeyong's manic disruptions. Yuta shrugs at him and wanders off, probably to bother someone himself. He's different about it, though, strategic.

Taeyong is all over the place, grin wide and the rings under his eyes pronounced, under all the concealer and layers of foundation. He leaves off of Jaehyun after one pointed comment too many, too low for Doyoung to make out, but clear enough in tone and gesture for him to cringe and turn away. It's never fun to see Taeyong get rejected when he’s like this - he tends to curl up on himself like a dried leaf, brittle with false cheer.

"What's up," Renjun asks, disentangling himself from a conversation with Sungchan and Shotaro, and joining Doyoung in his rare bubble of quiet. Renjun has gotten close quickly, endeared himself with quips that are sharp, witty, and a little too wise for his years. Doyoung enjoys his odd thoughts on odd topics, the way he's got an argument for and against almost anything. Renjun, he quickly realised, overthinks as much as Doyoung himself does, but with a little more self-restraint. He also snaps less, is less argumentative about his opinions when he finally forms them. He knows how to keep a secret and keep it well. Knows to play his part and keep parts of himself well hidden. He’s trustworthy.

"I'm worried," Doyoung says, despite himself, and feels surprise when Renjun follows his gaze over to where Taeyong has started a handstand competition with Jeno. Ten is cheering them on, Johnny leaving pithy remarks. Jeno wins, and Taeyong demands a rematch.

Renjun watches them. “Ah,” he says, “Taeyong’s going off the rails again, huh?”

As they watch, Xiaojun volunteers himself, to much jeering from the WayV boys. Taeyong bounces on the balls of his feet, ready to throw himself into the next round. They go, there’s clapping, yelling. Taeyong's shirt slips out of the precarious hold it had in his belt and slides down over his stomach to tangle around his chin. There's a camera man following the action, but this is sure to get cut - or censored cleverly. His ribs and hip bones stand out sharply, and Doyoung wants -

Not sure what. Something though, something primal that lodges hot in his stomach, burning under his ribs as he watches Taeyong's arms shake under the weight of his body, before his frame collapses in on itself, landing him in Johnny's arms when he tips over, already laughing. His face is flushed under the makeup, when he brings his feet back under himself and stands.

Doyoung wants. But he stays on the other side of the room and turns away from the chaos, starts talking to Renjun about something else, tries to be busy and cheerful and know his place. Here, he’s meant to be having fun, joking, laughing, being part of the team.


He knocks on Taeyong's door later that day, after filming had ended for the day and they were all not so gently shuffled into cars - some for other appointments, others just to go home. Doyoung has nothing more scheduled today. There's time to relax, practice the new songs, maybe. Taeyong, he knows, also has the rest of the day off. Which means only that he'll either be in his room doing a live, or already on his way out to the studio. He's been working on new songs: he’s sent Doyoung lyrics, snippets of them half-whispered, half-sung, parts left blank for Doyoung to complete.

There’s no answer, so Doyoung opens the door. The room is its usual mess. Everything has a place, but it is rarely returned to it, which drives Doyoung a little crazy. It amuses Taeyong, who seems to thrive on chaos. He’s capable of being orderly, he just doesn’t do it unless it pleases him.

The bed is a mess of sheets and blankets and discarded clothes, and it’s dark, quiet. The orange of the desk lamp and the blue tones of the water tank are competing for dominance, bathing the room in strange shades.

Taeyong is curled up in his chair, facing away and hunched over. It if wasn’t for the rhythmic scratch of his pen against paper, the way he’s always muttering the words he’s writing down, Doyoung wouldn’t have known he was there. He doesn’t even twitch when Doyoung clears his throat, lost in his own world.

Doyoung counts six dirty mugs around him, and at least seven crumpled cans of energy drinks.

"Are you live?" he asks, loud. Taeyong startles, turns. His knees are press against his chest, feet propped up on the edge of his seat. He looks small like this, his ankles boney where his pants cut off. Something in Doyoung is livid, runs hot and suddenly angry where concern lived seconds before.

"Nah," Taeyong says, and turns back after a glance back at Doyoung. He sounds distracted, his voice very far away. "Busy, though, sorry."

Doyoung stands there and lets the hot rush of anger and frustration run its course through his body, from his fingertips to the top of his head. He breathes in, slow, steady.

Taeyong doesn't even look at him, just keeps scribbling whatever words have come to him right then, probably something inane. He never writes well when he's exhausted, and he never realises when he's too exhausted to write. It’s a vicious cycle he can’t seem to break out of, that just happens to him at regular intervals.

Doyoung takes three quick steps into the room, grabs the headrest of the chair, and gives it a violent twist. The chair turns, Taeyong's hand slips, pen leaving an ugly red streak over the paper and the table. He curses, inaudible, but Doyoung is way ahead of him.

"Hey asshole," Doyoung says, "at least look at me when I'm checking on on you, you fucking dick."

He hasn't even properly finished his sentence when Taeyong hooks a leg behind his knee and pulls, snarl ugly on his face. "Screw you! I'm working, don't you have-"

Doyoung has him by the collar before he can finish the sentence, destablilised but not enough to leave him vulnerable, so he pulls, drags Taeyong forward and off-balance enough to spill from the chair. He's got the pen still clutched in his fist, and it leaves a thick red line down the white shirt that Doyoung is wearing. He stumbles backward, Taeyong's fist pushing against his chest as he tries to get his legs under him. His eyes are wide, in the half-fall, and Doyoung snarls back at him, twists at the waist, tries to get him under, using elbows and grasping hard with hands that are all too used to this.

The bright, ugly mix of worry and anger and frustration fuels him, gives him the momentum to turn them so it's Taeyong who lands on the floor, Doyoung crouched over him. His knees smart where he landed on them. Taeyong's mouth is open in an airless gasp, winded by impact, and Doyoung wants to bite him. Bite his stubborn chin and heaving, skinny chest, right where the shoulder bones stick out.

"Fuck you so much," his voice sounds harsh and Taeyong grins, honest to god grins up at him and pinches where he's still got his hands against Doyoung's chest, and something snaps between them.

His lips are on Taeyong's, hard and forceful and open, the kiss turning slick in seconds. He bites, at his lip, the corner of his mouth, his tongue. Taeyong grabs at him, his shoulder, his arm, his waist, trying to throw him off and pull him closer and get his body against his, but Doyoung doesn't let him. He wants to bite him until Taeyong lies still and let's him take care of him, until Doyoung can make him rest and eat and sleep and stop moving, stop making a nuisance of himself.

He kisses him harder, presses Taeyong back against the floor, shin against Taeyong's leg, holding him against the cold ground. He doesn't realise that the huffed, breathless noises are coming from him until he pulls back and bites down Taeyong's neck, bringing up blood with each kiss, hard and shameless and mean. It makes Taeyong mewl and move against him, restless and wound tight with energy even now. His hands fist and unfist in Doyoung's shirt, pulling at him, pulling him closer now that he's pinned with no chance to turn the situation around.

"Fuck," Doyoung repeats, "you're such a dick."

It doesn't stop him from biting down on Taeyong's collarbone again, sucking at the skin until it's raised and red-purple and Taeyong makes a hurt, acquiescing noise. Doyoung stops to look at him, all big, round eyes and puffed lips, face made entirely of cheekbones and jawline, because he hasn't eaten properly in days, and Doyoung wants to hurt him like he hurts himself. Like it'll make him realise that he doesn't have to do everything himself.

"I am," Taeyong says, and laughter, rough and surprising out of his throat, "I really am."

It makes Doyoung still, pull back a little more. Taeyong looks at him, really looks, holds his gaze. It’s not the blank mania that he's had for days now, the kind that clearly meant nothing was really touching him, getting through to him. This is real, it’s the Taeyong that Doyoung knows and can talk to and loves.

"Fucker," he says, and kisses him again, softer this time. A slow drag rather than the quick, deep, biting kisses that they shared before. Taeyong sighs, melts into it, hand coming up to cup the back of Doyoung's neck and leaning up against him. His mouth is soft, open and giving. He pulls back after a while, sighs deeply.

"I'm tired."

"Big surprise," Doyoung says, dry. "I bet you haven't slept more than three hours all week."

He can see the calculations start, with the way Taeyong goes a little distant, and sighs. His knees protest when he leans up, sure to bruise. Taeyong's hand goes tight around his nape, holding him down. "Where are you going?"

"To bed," Doyoung says, impossibly drier. "Where you will sleep for a solid 8 hours before I’ll even look at you again."

"Noooo," Taeyong whines, and wraps his legs around Doyoung's hips. It's a feat of athleticism that proves he's been spending too many hours thrusting at imaginary and very thirsty fans, and not enough hours at home, recharging. It doesn't make Doyoung feel less angry and frustrated and desperately in love. Sometimes he hates Taeyong so much he doesn't know how there's still space in him to love him, too, only it's all so terribly wrapped up in each other - the anger and care and affection and bright, incandescent helplessness.

Taeyong's lips are soft against his chin, his cheek, the tip of his nose. His makeup has worn off, and his skin looks sallow without it, and Doyoung wants him. He wants so many things for him: to tuck him into bed. To fuck him, hard and fast, and gently in turn. To be fucked, to feel Taeyong move in him. To listen to him speak, about anything and everything, to sing the words he's written, turn of phrase by turn of phrase, making them come to life. He wants, he wants. He kisses back, on Taeyong's forehead, his ear, the side of his neck, endlessly sweet. He leans down, elbows bracketing Taeyong's face, and kisses him, and tries to say it all.

Time becomes slow and sticky, cradled in Taeyong's arms and legs, kissing him, listening to him make delightful little noises.

"Okay," Taeyong says, when goosebumps have raised on Doyoung's arms and back. He's been playing his fingertips down the knobs of Doyoung's spine: tap tap tap up the bones, and slow circles around them, exploring the dips and divots with gentle care. "You win."

Doyoung's face is comfortablly cradled between Taeyong’s neck and shoulder, warm with skin and cotton and breath, and he doesn't want to move, even though the rest of him is cold. "I usually do."

"Sucker," Taeyong whispers, and pushes Doyoung up and off. Doyoung goes, pulls Taeyong along with him. He's really too lithe. "Sleep with me?"

Doyoung nods. "Yeah. If I leave you'll just sit right back there and I'll have fucked up my knees for nothing."

Taeyong laughs at that, the dumb-looking one that's all angles and makes his nose look a little like a beak. Doyoung loves that laugh, feels it smothering the uncomfortable uncertainty in his chest a little.

"True." Taeyong pulls his shirt off, then his pants. He turns to Doyoung with a considering look, then steps close enough to drag his shirt up and over his head, with minimal assistance. “I kind of ruined this one,” he says. “You can sell it online as a Taeyong original.” He pushes Doyoung’s sweats down, hands wandering.

"I'm not having sex with you until you've slept," Doyoung says, belying his insistent hard-on.

Taeyong looks at it, up at Doyoung, down at his dick, and shrugs. "Seems like a you problem."

Doyoung can't help it, has to grab him by the waist and cup Taeyong's dick, which is just as hard and hot as Doyoung feels. "Uh huh," he says, a challenge, and Taeyong. Taeyong never backs down from a challenge, not once in his life. Someone could probably tell him he can't set himself on fire, and Taeyong would do it just to prove himself inflammable.

Doyoung would, too, which is why he knows this. They'd be idiots on fire together, which is why one of them has to grow some reason. He squeezes, gives him a slow stroke, and Taeyong gasps, twists in his grip.

"Nope,” Doyoung says, like a tease. Taeyong’s mournful little noise makes him smile, and add: “Later."

They push and pull at each other. Taeyong's bed smells like him: cologne, after-shave, skin-care, salt and a little bit of sweat. Doyoung kicks the clothes off the mattress as good as he can, Taeyong pulls the blankets up around them. He twists and turns and prods until Doyoung is on his side with Taeyong wrapped around him like a sea creature with too many legs. On the far side of the room, the aquarium glows, his shrimp and snails and fishes silent witness to their habits.

He knows, knows well, that Taeyong will never learn to pace himself, to be better at this lifestyle. But Doyoung will be there to hold him still until his exhaustion can catch up with him. It’s worth it, it just is. If he’s allowed to, he'll spend the rest of his life doing it, and feeling this mix of anger-frustration-affection. If it ends with them like this, kissed raw and aching, but warm together, peaceful and in each others' arms? Then it's just right.