Actions

Work Header

brooklyn and a lover

Work Text:

Jeno Lee believes in the causality of events, a fun mix of convenient or inconvenient happenings, leading his life into the highlighted words of a newspaper he reads as he drinks his morning coffee inside a crumpled motel room.

An apartment in Brooklyn, near his office for two, was left half empty for a long time due to no one really wanting to share it with a roommate.

Jeno doesn't mind. The need to get out of that humid shoebox of a motel higher than any weird habit his potential roommate could have.

There's a phone number on the advertisement printed on yellowish paper he dials at the payphone outside his room, cold and jumpy inside the cabin, fingers tapping nervously at the phone.

Answering him is Renjun Huang, a chinese realtor usually helping immigrants buying or renting homes translating for them.

With a better vocabulary than Jeno’s, he feels dumb at his feet standing inside the cabin, rain pouring outside when there's some burocracy explained before reaching the actual apartment talk.

The apartment is already occupied by someone, who had roommates going on and off for short periods of time and Jeno pouts at the metallic voice of Renjun, promising the incoming deception.

Jeno can tell Renjun is quite young, probably around his age. Another soul lost into stressful work and adult life fresh out of university that makes them relate fast, dropping a bit formalities.

“Look, I’ll be honest with you” Renjun sighs “I’ve seen many enthusiasts like you, the apartment is really nice and new and there's nothing wrong with the building if that's what is worrying you”.

“Then why do so many people leave after such a short time?” Jeno's voice might get off some exasperation, Renjun is supposed to make him pay rent, not turn him down so quickly, a great offer like that.

“I’m just tired of dealing with this apartment, I always see new people renting it and going away, so I’ll be honest and tell you what usually troubles people”. Jeno hears some shuffling on the phone.

“The tenant is a very good person, really, he just likes to have guests over and the previous clients got tired of it at some point”.

“Is that a problem?” Jeno is a bit incredulous, listening to the small metallic chuckle of Renjun.

“They're kind of intimate guests”.

Jeno widens his eyes, a small gasp leaving his lips.

“Is he a prostitute?”.

Renjun truly laughs this time. No, his roommate does not condone prostitution in the apartment or that would be sketchy. And worrying.

So that's when Jeno can't really see any harm in some fun under the sheets, he figures it is not that much of a sacrifice listening to some moans at night if he can manage to live in a nice house (and it has a Trinitron tv!).

Also whatever his roommate does is in his own bedroom, not Jeno’s and he makes sure to tell Renjun, who schedules an appointment with relief to see the apartment and meet his new -and first ever- roommate in the next two days.

--

The morning Jeno finds himself with his head drowning inside one of those tourist maps of New York to check which bus he has to take, suitcases are already packed at the motel.

He really can't care less, he’s going to move after hearing that previous night a bunch of drunk people screaming and the shuttering of glasses not that far from his window.

Jeno meets Renjun, a slimmer figure than what he imagined from the strong personality he caught from their phone call, clinging at his flannel with brown hair sticking out a red beanie.

“Sorry for the outfit”. He smiles apologetically at Jeno “I’m not supposed to work today but I thought it was better to be the one showing you the apartment”.

Jeno smiled back at Renjun, cheeks warming up as they usually did around pleasant people.

He’s lucky their destination is the third floor, two fake plants too green for the season at both sides of the apartment complex’s door, on the right the mailboxes overflowing with letters and advertisements, a newspaper on the red moquette covering the whole of the stairs.

Their door is green, a vibrant contrast with the moquette and an odd umbrella stand with the colors of the rainbow placed next to it.

Jeno turns to Renjun when the smaller man knocks on the door and he seems to understand his questioning look.

“I do have the keys but he insisted to meet you today, it's his free day off work”.

Jeno shapes his mouth in a ‘o’ form, the door opening to reveal a young man with a smile so bright it makes the weight of anxiety at meeting someone new and that cloudy and grey morning already lighter.

“Hi! You must be Jeno” He keeps his -full of white teeth- grin, hand stretching for him to hold “I’m Jaemin Na”.

A small cough interrupts the youthful one’s smile, looking down at the -hands on his hips- figure of Renjun who does not look as happy to see him.

“Long time no see, Na”.

“Isn't it too early to be this grumpy, Huang?”.

Jeno finds their small banter funny, guessing the two are probably close from the amount of times the chinese man presented new possible renters.

“Come in Jeno, I made my best between work to clean the house properly so you can have a better judgment”.

The house is nice. Pretty new, nuanced orange for the curtains and cupboards of the kitchen, the biggest space of the central living room occupied by a dark green couch. Jeno smiles at the amount of green just laying in the whole building, finding a sort of charm to it. There's an unusually big window for these kinds of apartments, giving lots of natural light and a shelf full of plants named after musicians -there's a tag to each pot to recognize Beethoven from Bach- and on top of all it looks clean.

It's when he notices Jeno’s bedroom is even bigger than Jaemin’s that he can't really find a single thing to complain about, despite Renjun already hinting at Jaemin’s night habits.

“Looks perfect, doesn't it?” Whispers Renjun loud enough for Jaemin to hear, noticing the small sigh leaving the boy’s mouth.

Jeno wonders it must be tiring to also have a different roommate so often, to get used to new people frequently for them to leave soon.

Jaemin Na looks fine, in all ways. He’s good looking, the charming kind and also a good tenant from what he can see, clean and organized.

He works with children, a kindergarten teacher and it has Jeno’s heart swell with something he can't recognize, finally seeing a man not in any kind of stereotypical men businesses. He appreciates it, and finds adorable when Jaemin shows his room and he notices a drawing that looks like it is made by a child hanging on the wall.

“One of my children made it” Jaemin says behind him, voice deep for his smooth features and vibrant at the same time “I’m a teacher”. Jaemin explains and Jeno thought he could endure everything under that blinding smile, wanting to sprint back to his dark and humid motel room and move as fast as possible.

It's easy to sign some papers and have his belongings moved, he didn’t bring much from home anyway.

“Good luck Lee, hopefully won't see you soon” Renjun pats Jeno’s shoulder, meeting him only at the estate agency to get his keys, deciding with Jaemin to have a spare pair for safety. That being the first decision they both agreed to.

And there is Jaemin Na, wearing pink pajamas, face puzzled at the two big suitcases right in front of the door three days later, on a Saturday morning.

“I thought Renjun told you I was coming today, I hope it's not a problem with you”.

“When are the movers coming? Do you need help with some other stuff?” He asks and Jeno lifts his shoulder sheepishly, one hand secured around the suitcase’s handle.

“That's all I have”.

Jaemin's sleepy face breaks into a smile, Jeno thinks it's criminal to look this good when he probably just rolled off bed.

“I’ll help you with this one”.

For someone as timid as Jeno is, talking to Jaemin is easy. He knows he can't take credit for it, his new roommate seemed talkative and easy to approach since the first glance they shared and Jeno sighs contently once his main belongings are placed in the bedroom.

The washed out lavender duvet and a brand new cushion Jaemin kept in -their- storage room are enough to make him feel comfortable for the night approaching.

He also has the rush to shower, with a cabinet Jaemin kindly kept completely empty and clean for Jeno to put his things in. Everything is accommodating to not feel embarrassed once by the sudden change of not living alone anymore, he appreciates it.

Jeno might be daring and say he’s lucky, still wondering how many people escaped Jaemin’s company.

Somehow he trusts Renjun, for no specific reason considering they're not more than acquaintances and the man hoped to not see him again anytime soon, which did not promise a blossoming friendship.

He gets out of his room, Jaemin sitting on one of the kitchen stools sipping tea with his smiley eyes. Jeno was glad he left the ugly first month of work living in that dusty and scary motel for good.

“Tea? Or are you a coffee kind of guy”.

“I drink coffee only to survive work” Jeno sits on the stool across from Jaemin's, slumping there still a bit cautious. Jaemin is pretty much a stranger, the fact they now live together not changing much.

“Knew it” Winks Jaemin turning to get a mug for him and Jeno blushes, not used to a personality like his.

It's the 80s, Lady Diana and prince Charles got married not more than three years ago and seeing a man blatantly flirty as Jaemin despite Jeno being a guy is a surprise, he’s not so used to it.

It's in the way he speaks, Jeno notices even during the short encounter between him and Renjun, he likes to tease. And it is sure an alluring kind of flirt coming from doe eyes, perfectly stretched pink lips in a white smile and brown locks for a boy that could easily belong to a high fashion magazine.

He’s not much taller than Jeno, they look like they're the same height but Jaemin has broad shoulders and a wider chest that makes him look a lot bigger than Jeno, slumping and disappearing easily on the stool when legs longer than his upper body are hidden under the table.

“I don't think I asked you, how old are you Jaemin?”.

“Turned twenty five years old in August”.

Jeno smiles, surprised “Me too! I mean, I’m twenty five too. My birthday is in April”.

Jaemin with a mirth in his eyes raises his mouth in an entertained smirk “I think it’s absurd how quickly you signed the papers, we barely know our surnames”.

This time Jeno blushes right under Jaemin’s stare, clearing his throat finding the wooden table suddenly interesting.

“Everywhere is better than home I guess. Or that terrifying motel I was staying in, I don't know if I mentioned it”. Jeno is unsure if he should go more in detail, thinking it's too soon to open up. But he has a thing for over sharing sometimes and also a feeling Jaemin is like that as well, at least for superficial matters.

“Well it also adds up that the house is nice and so are you” He shyly admits later.

Jaemin senses his distress and Jeno is glad for him letting go of his words, hand dismissively moving between them.

“It's okay, apparently I’m not a great roommate when people come and go in a blink of an eye. I have my own flaws too” He chuckles more to himself than Jeno but it has the boy’s attention.

“You already know what I do for a living, what about you? You must be fresh out of college”.

“I work at a hospital, I’m a pediatrician” Jeno smiles anticipating Jaemin’s face glinting with excitement.

“No way, not only do we have the same age we also both work with kids”.

“I thought it was a fun coincidence and wanted to tell you back when I visited the house with Renjun, I think you can figure I’m a bit shy”.

Jaemin rests his head in the palm of his hand, pink lips pressed together.

“I don't think you're shy Jeno. Well maybe you still have to loosen up a little but I get it, we just met”.

Jaemin glances down at Jeno’s hands fumbling in a nervous intertwining of fingers and he drops them as soon as he notices.

“You're observant”.

“Very” Jaemin raises up from his stool, looking at the watch hanging up their heads.

“Any food preferences?” He asks, turning briefly to Jeno who stands up as well, an apologetic face on display.

“Not really. Okay since we're going to be living together for a while I’ll be brutally honest, I’m useless in the kitchen. But it's okay I can still cook on my own. I promise I won't burn the house down”.

“To that extent?” Jaemin widens his eyes and tries to smile out the worry flashing his face. He shakes his head, pointing at Jeno “You’re lucky I love cooking, and it’s even better to do it for someone else”.

Jeno raises his arms up, finding the idea smart “If you let me know what you usually buy, on a list or something, I can buy groceries.To clean up my conscience”.

Jaemin this time actually laughs, low and beautiful to Jeno’s ears, not able to find a single flaw so far.

“Jeno Lee, you’re really something else”.

--

Coexistence in the same space as Jaemin Na is astonishingly easy.

If he thinks about it is Jeno to be the actual worst roommate. He’s not as organized, sometimes leaves his bed undone or a plate or two to wash before rushing to the hospital, but makes sure to also bring Jaemin’s clothes to wash on the common laundry room they share downstairs with two floors.

He also noticed Jaemin really has no problems with sharing. He’s nice enough to leave food in the fridge inside colorful containers with his name on it when Jeno is home for lunch and Jaemin isn't, bought a new blanket for their couch he left there for Jeno to use and sometimes washes Jeno’s plates even before he can come home and do it himself.

There's no complaining from Jaemin, who seems to be enjoying doing all these things, maybe feeling bad because Jeno, who usually sleeps deep and can't hear a thing, heard the night before for the first time what Renjun warned him about.

A girl’s moans in the middle of the night, and some banging noises mixed with the creaking of the bed coming from Jaemin’s room, leaving Jeno still on his bed.

Unluckily, or maybe luckily, he already knows all about it. It's not an usual guest, Jaemin apparently has always someone different over. “Attachment problems”, Guessed once Renjun when he ended up meeting Jeno randomly at the park, catching up with him and getting more in detail to Jaemin’s previous roommates complaints.

Renjun was actually glad to know Jeno was living well with Jaemin, thinking he might be the last chance before he drops that job for the apartment rental.

He also explains it is embarrassing for others to talk about it when they end their contract. What he knows is that not a single person has said Jaemin is a bad one, they all admitted it’s nice to live with him but it gets tiring at some point.

“No one tried to ask him to tone it down?”. Wonders Jeno on that day sitting at the park bench and Renjun raises his shoulder, unsure of it. “I think when someone is as nice as Jaemin it gets hard to complain more than once, some of them didn't even have the time to know him better and they thought the worst, it's complicated”.

For Jeno, who mostly never hears Jaemin night activities anyway, it wasn't really a problem how many girls Jaemin managed to bring home during the week, that didn't make him any less than the decent human he was during the day.

What kept Jeno awake, eyes shot open and mind wandering where it shouldn't at night, were Jaemin’s grunts and panting that weren't supposed to be sexy and speaking right at Jeno’s pants.

Jeno was almost sleeping with his nose buried inside the cup of coffee he made for himself in one of the ‘next mornings’, hoping the bitter taste would shake him up before catching a taxi to work, too late now for a bus ride and Brooklyn’s life too frenetic for an awful struggler to wake up early.

He made sure to leave some for Jaemin, knowing well it is not strong enough for him who drinks literal poison, 6 extra shots in his coffee every morning making Jeno wonder how his heart didn't give up yet.

Thinking of Jaemin is a mean joke his mind makes, travelling back at night when his body was too awake at Jaemin's moans, trying to shush his thoughts.

Like a curse the handsome kindergarten teacher gets out of the bathroom, towel secured around his waist and naked torso on display more effective to shake Jeno than his coffee, mouth drying up.

“Morning” Jaemin sings with that deep sunny voice of his, watching Jeno’s dead expression matched with dark circles and pale face.

He stops at his bedroom door at the lack of response from Jeno, face frowning in worry.

“I’m sorry for tonight” Jaemin coughs timidly “And the night before, if that is a problem I can-”.

“Don’t worry Jaemin, really” Speaks then Jeno, almost hitting the cup of coffee too far to spill it on the table.

“I don't mind, and I won't judge you for it” Jeno chuckles nervously, trying not to remember the way his body shamelessly reacted at Jaemin’s sounds, feeling like the worst pervert “Night for me is when I sleep soundly, very soundly” He stresses raising his eyebrows so high Jaemin finds it funny, breaking his frown and Jeno is glad looking like an idiot helps the awkwardness.

“Too bad. I bet you're quite a catch Jeno” He almost rolls his eyes at Jaemin’s countless wink if he wasn't too flustered to speak. “And thank you, you’re too nice”.

“So are you” Makes sure to let him know Jeno, Jaemin’s words still echoing in his head.

When Jaemin closes his bedroom door, Jeno rushes to get ready and sprint out of the door so fast he’s afraid his shoes will be consumed once he’s at the hospital, everything to not face Jaemin at the moment, cheeks still burning as he closes the door behind.

He might be the first roommate not struggling for Jaemin’s usual nightly sex life, but for his face and words hotter than hell.

Jeno is a closeted gay man being in his mid twenties and the year 1984, albeit the great progresses, is still not so friendly with the lgbt community.

Being comfortable with himself is hard, growing up in environments that didn't really allow Jeno to be comfortable with who he is, thankful for university and some significant friendships he made helping him to open his eyes so he could at least allow to come out to those very few trusted people.

Nowadays newspapers do take the time to talk about gay people, usually related to AIDS, sometimes to the extent of being described as “nature’s revenge on gay men” that made Jeno shiver with horror when he read it for the first time.

Of course a virus like that is a hot topic in his hospital, glad for its timing, causing him to understand who he could really count on.

Taeyong Lee, one of the nurses at his department, was an ally. A very loud one, standing for Jeno’s rights and then learned he was also standing for his own.

It gave him a full sense of pride mixed with excitement, noticing one day Taeyong and doctor Jung sharing a discreet kiss in the pediatricians office, knowing glances when he met the doctor who was only a work acquaintance and later a friend he could lean on when things were rough.

Being closeted and scared was hard, finding himself crying in his hands more times than allowed to be healthy. Gay bars as a refuge, letting himself being kissed and taken to bed by a man like his heart desires when it suffers from hiding all the time, freedom escaping his lips with short breaths and a physical release, just to build up that pain again until it sinks inside him in the form of another man.

It’s consuming, Jeno cried on Taeyong's and Jaehyun’s shoulders countless times and he wonders if in a world like this he’ll ever be able to find someone to build a place where his heart will feel at peace. Jeno wonders for a moment if Jaemin is more open minded than others, afraid he’ll have to leave for reasons not relating to Jaemin’s one night stands.

--

Jeno is lifelessly lying on the couch, occupying the entire space with his long legs relaxed and tired from the hot shower he took, glad to have an evening to spare.

Jaemin walks in the living room, light brown hair under day light’s pleasing warmth, an angel of the sun. He is silently staring at him getting closer to the couch, crouching down so he’s at the same eye level as Jeno, face close to his.

“You look distraught”.

“What an acute sight, Na”. Albeit tired Jeno answers playfully and Jaemin presses a hand on the couch to support himself, grazing Jeno’s.

His heart, reluctant to Jeno’s brain, beats faster. His eyes focus on Jaemin and his painted neck with a blue long line, probably an accidental gift from one of the kids and their messy hands holding markers to make drawings at school. He mindlessly touches it, hand tracing the line.

“One of the kids”. Explains Jaemin, hand circling his slim wrist.

“Can I water Chopin? She’s beautiful”. Whispers Jeno and maybe he’s amused at Jaemin’s pinking cheekbones.

“What about Mozart? You also think they're better as girls right? I hate the musicians names” Complains Jaemin, looking back at the plants soaking the filtered sun and then back at Jeno, who raises an eyebrow at him.

“I thought you named them” Jeno sits back on the couch, body crying at the movement. He probably needs to work out more if it wasn't for those obsessed super muscular guys at the gym he hates and distract him at the same time. Honestly he can't even understand himself, he’s not attracted at all by bulky, testosterone boxes of men.

“Johnny did, my first roommate. He left me for Chicago, to live again in his beloved hometown. And for work” Jaemin sighs “He left me to beautiful plants with the ugliest names, come on get up!” He takes Jeno’s hand to be up on his feet. They get in front of the low shelf of plants, Jeno staring blankly at the pretty green lively gifts of nature.

“You can't tell me she’s not an Aretha!” Jaemin squeezes Jeno’s hand before letting go of it, eyes already apologizing but Jeno’s small nod is enough to make him understand it is fine.

And Jaemin smiles, and sunlight filters through the window to his happy face and Jeno is afraid of the power his pretty roommate has on him.

Jaemin is attractive, and very touchy. A dangerous combination for a man as weak as Jeno for a nice smile.

“She looks like a showstopper, Aretha suits her” He says in a low relaxed voice, eyes closing from sleepiness and the strong daylight.

“Finally someone understands me. I’ll definitely call Johnny and tell him at least one of the plants needed another name” Jaemin grabs the pink sprinkler he always keeps in the house and gives it to Jeno.

“You water Aretha, I make lunch for us. And then you should rest Jeno, really, you're worryingly pale”.

After lunch, Jeno is squeezed on their tiny couch, Jaemin who seems to have no concept of space pressing his shoulders against his, both laughing at an episode of The golden girls.

Jeno’s mind processes a variety of things during the episode. They should name the other plants after the old ladies of the show, unfair for Aretha, even if they both agreed she’s a showstopper and as one she should have her own unique name. He’s tired, deathly tired and wonders how he’s keeping up to have his eyes still open and listening to the characters talking inside their tv. Jaemin smells good, of that fresh mint shower gel Jeno sees every time he showers, and a pomegranate fragrance lingering on his neck.

His brain knocks out and Jeno’s head falls on Jaemin’s shoulder, deep asleep.

 

Jeno should have known better. Sleeping in the evening and not being able to close his eyes at night when Jaemin is making another girl crazy under his hold is really not what he hoped for. This time a weird tug at his chest reminding him that despite adoring Jaemin’s company, he can't long for something he’ll never have. Catching feelings so uselessly should be criminal and Jeno is not weak.

And as loud as that nameless girl gets, as fast Jeno manages to get ready and find refuge in one lgbt friendly club he found in Brooklyn, probably too risky going all the way to Manhattan at night.

I Want to Break Free by Queen is playing, an open mic night that makes Mercury’s brilliant voice replaced by a drunk man’s one. The whole club is cheering at him, dim lights filling the space.

Jeno bumps with horror and then relief into a very familiar figure, the much shorter one with shock in his eyes and mouth opening without really letting a sound out.

“Renjun?”.

 

“Cheers” Renjun clinks his martini against Jeno’s drink, chugging it down in one shot.

“Wow, slow down there boy. Are you that shocked?” Jeno almost lectures him with an absurd expression grounding the realtor at his place.

“I wasn't expecting it, okay? It's good to have someone new to be safe around” Renjun’s piercing glance softens when he looks at Jeno, smiling knowingly with a tint of sadness the other man immediately catches.

“What brought you here?” Renjun stares annoyed at the barman who winks at him, a tall and very gorgeous asian man with dark brown hair and full lips, sculpted body under the tight black shirt he’s wearing.

Jeno’s enthusiasm is cut by Renjun who seems like he’s going to choke Jeno if he even tries to bring up what just happened.

“Needed some thinking”.

“Or maybe you needed to run from some very loud sex”. Huffs and laughs Renjun, convinced he got the right answer.

“More like I was running out from Jaemin’s noises”. Says honestly Jeno, not that he has anything else to hide when he just met Renjun at a gay club.

Renjun chokes on his second drink “Sorry what? Don't tell me you like Jaemin. No Jeno, he’s a big no”.

“I know that! Okay? That's why I’m here, I don't need to catch feelings for a guy I know damn well he fucks only ladies every other night, but he’s nice, easygoing and it's good to be charmed by him”.

“Jaemin is nice, I already told you. And talking about the ‘only ladies’ part you mentioned” Renjun is hesitant and it has Jeno wildly staring at him.

“It’s not only ladies, that's what you're implying” He deadpans, heart pounding stupidly against his ribcage at the new information. Jaemin is like him, like Renjun and everyone inside this club.

“Not only ladies” Repeats Renjun.

“Fuck me”. Jeno hits his head against the counter, the barman’s face contorted in empathic pain for his client.

The clear image of Jaemin taking a man to bed is enough to drive Jeno’s sanity to fall from a cliff.

“He’s okay” Mimics Renjun to him before he places a hand on Jeno’s shoulder.

“I wouldn't fuck you, but that guy over there looks like he could right on the spot”. Renjun whispers against his ear and Jeno blushes when he looks over and meets the eyes of a surprisingly handsome man staring at him.

“Should I?” Jeno seriously asks Renjun for advice.

“Everything is safer for you than to be any near Jaemin’s dick, go get that man right now”.

“That's the most absurd thing you’ve ever said”.

“Jaemin’s dick is not allowed, remember it. It's for your safety, you can clearly tell he only does casual and it would be inconvenient when he can’t escort out of his apartment his own roommate in the morning”.

Jeno understands the seriousness and subtle care that holds Renjun in his words, appreciating it.

“I’ll keep it in mind”.

As dirty as it is, Jeno is glad for the rushed bathroom sex against the cold wall of the stall, moans leaving his mouth endlessly at how rough the guy’s length is thrusting into him, legs around his waist that has him shaking and pant with each strong snap of their hips meeting.

It takes his mind off Jaemin, only trying to reach his high with someone inside him he’ll forget about the next day with a morning shower and a read of the newspaper. He hates it, endures it when it's better than to be miserable.

 

--

“Hey” Breathes out Jaemin, bumping into Jeno as he’s getting back home from the market and the other is running down the stairs back to school for the teacher-parent encounters.

“I didn't see you this morning, not even at lunch” Asks Jaemin, eyes worried scanning Jeno up and down, setting on his neck where he knows there's a hickey Jeno got mad about in the morning, his stupid drunk self letting someone giving it to him in such an exposed space.

“I woke up early” Jeno gulps at Jaemin’s heavy stare, lifting up the white bags to break that weird atmosphere. “Bought groceries, are you gonna be here for dinner?”.

Jaemin gets back at his smiley usual self, nodding “Don't worry I’ll be back in time so you won't starve”.

“Hey!” Jeno tries to scold playfully but Jaemin is already saying goodbye, disappearing under the floors of stairs.

Today the calendar marks two months since Jeno moved to his Brooklyn apartment. Two months spent with Jaemin. Jeno makes sure to point that out when he goes to grab coffee with Renjun and the new company of Yukhei, much different during the day than the flirty barman with eyes only for the chinese boy he met at the Starlight club.

“Are you going to celebrate you being the only one who managed to live for two whole months with Jaemin?”

Renjun loves to tease, it reminds him of Donghyuck, a new nurse at his department extremely loved by kids and it had Taeyong’s competitive side awoken, much to Jaehyun’s fun. He hopes they never meet.

“Idiot”. Jeno flicks Renjun’s neck and they start a weird flicking battle, Yukhei watching them worried for the two’s well being.

Truth is, two months with Jaemin passed too fast. They’re getting closer and it is noticeable between the small changes of some of their habits.

Seeing Jaemin almost naked during the day is not as shocking as it used to be, Jeno waters Aretha and the other girls diligently whenever is needed and makes sure to tell Jaemin excitedly when one of the plants grows even if the man already noticed. Jeno by now can remember some of the names of the kids Jaemin teaches to, especially the ones he often mentions. Same for Jaemin who asks him about Taeyong or Donghyuck and the doctors of the hospital when they sit and eat together during meals. Jeno had spent some nights in the living room with Jaemin, lately his roommate not taking guests as often as he used to, ending up falling asleep on him so often it became almost natural.

He wakes up one late evening with his head on Jaemin’s lap, the other playing with his hair watching some music videos playing in the background filling their quiet apartment.

Jeno tries to mumble something, looking up at Jaemin’s now familiar face, lightened up by the colorful lights of the Christmas tree they built way too early together, both of them discovered enthusiasts of the winter atmosphere. It all started when Jeno whined with jealousy at Jaemin playing secret Santa between teachers at kindergarten and he needed help from Jeno to choose a gift for Mrs. Williams, a mature woman going to retire as soon as the clock will announce the new year.

“Slept well?”. Jaemin asks so softly it has Jeno curl up with his nose sinking against Jaemin’s lower stomach, fingers caressing his cheeks for reality to metaphorically kick Jeno’s face who's being handled so delicately right now.

They grew familiar, domestic and at times like this even intimate. Jeno is threatened by it, a literal taste of what he could have with someone if he was really looking for it, him stupid enough to let himself being lulled by Jaemin who can't give him what he wants.

Jeno is starting to truly like Jaemin, not being about physical attraction anymore and he’s not stupid. He’s aware Jaemin recently has been staring too long at his lips, hands around his waist lingering there when he teaches Jeno the most simple recipes he still messes up somehow.

Jeno also knows, and it's starting to hurt, he can't allow himself to have even a night like the ones he hears from Jaemin’s bedroom. He’s not sure he can allow himself to do that.

He is growing tired, of going out with terrible dates Jaehyun hopefully schedules for him, of having a life dedicated entirely to work because he can't consider Jaemin more than a friend, albeit a very special one he feels at ease with like no one ever could.

He trusts him so much he lets himself be manhandled until he’s sitting again on the couch, Jaemin’s palms of his hands sliding on Jeno’s back and resting at his hips.

They're quiet, Elton John’s Your Song playing in a tv segment for songs on the 70s and Jeno wants to raise an eyebrow at that black box of their tv for the song choice.

Jaemin is smiling gently, Jeno knows he loves the song. He recently bought a record of it he plays often to clean the house on Sundays, already awake and productive when Jeno is still sleeping pressed against the cushion. He got used to waking up at Monday’s doors with Jaemin’s nice singing voice and the sound of vacuuming.

“And you can tell everybody, this is your song” He sings bringing Jeno closer to him, swinging them when he gets on his lap. Jeno is sleepy and embarrassed, hiding his head in the crook of Jaemin’s neck where his voice rumbles against his chest, relaxing.

“It may be quite simple but, now that it's done. I hope you don’t mind” Jaemin sneaks a hand to cup Jeno’s face and have the man look at him, still singing.

“I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words. How wonderful life is, now you're in the world”.

Jeno leans on Jaemin’s hand, shy and glancing back at his eyes almost sparkling as he leans in, gentle in the way he holds Jeno, like he could break at any moment.

Jeno doesn't know what it means but he’s aware Jaemin can hear the loud thump his heart makes against his chest, unsure eyes falling into Jaemin’s ones.

“Look what you’ve done to me” Jaemin is shy too and that comforts Jeno, whose eyes distractedly fall on Jaemin's lips, tempted by their closeness.

He tentatively leans in, pressing Jaemin’s mouth into a languid kiss, warm and wet when the other is quick to slide his tongue inside Jeno’s mouth, legs straddling him from where he was sitting on his lap.

“Is this okay?” Jaemin asks, staring at Jeno’s face to look at any signs of reluctance. How could Jeno ever reject Jaemin when he’s been wanting to do this for the longest time.

Jaemin knows about Jeno. Found once laying on the floor a flyer for an lgbt protest that slipped from Jeno’s bag. That was the first time they hugged, Jaemin telling him it was fine, and he’s proud of him for enduring today’s society.

Damage has been made, when clothes get discarded on the living room floor, mouth opening to breath in a rushed gasp when Jaemin kisses and suck at his neck, hands reaching for his lower back and the friction between their naked bodies has Jeno mewl against Jaemin’s chest when he feels a first finger inside him, expert and slim with each movement.

“You're the most beautiful, you can be louder, baby” Jaemin whispers and Jeno moans with his open mouth right against Jaemin’s lips, staring at the boy with eyes filled with what from experience he can recognize as want.

Jaemin wanting him burns on his skin with such force he might end up out of this with his heart sunburnt, nodding when Jeno lets out a sound again, a second finger that has Jeno starting to grind against Jaemin’s hand.

“I need you- you have to” Stutters Jeno, hips bucking up messily against Jaemin’s length and he hears a low groan leaving the man’s lips, Jeno’s legs shaking at it.

“Fuck” Jaemin pants, caressing Jeno’s sweaty forehead to tuck the black hair behind his ear with his free hand. “Yes baby, anything, is it okay? You like baby?”.

Jeno feels Jaemin pressing at his entrance, starting to sink down on it and shuts his eyes, mouth absently laying against Jaemin’s jaw to breath when he nods.

“They're gonna hear us” He tries to say, whining loudly, his mind straight enough to know his neighbors will hear if he keeps being this loud.

Jaemin smiles, his usual smile that had Jeno weak on his knees since the first time he saw it, still not aware of the risk Jaemin Na is.

“Let them hear”.

They turn off the tv, there’s no use for it when all they care about is to finally reach for more and explore their bodies. Jaemin despite being strong with his movements holds Jeno’s hips delicately as he helps him ride him, lips at his neck when Jeno keeps his head thrown back to reach for his prostate, one hand behind Jaemin’s neck and one intertwined with Jaemin one on his hip.

In the haze of it, Jeno can't help thinking this is too intimate, too close and heart swelling for it to forget in the morning, facing his exact fears with the addicting smell of Jaemin’s skin, his warmth, his low voice moaning mixed with his, piercing eyes as he looks for approval to go faster, to get Jeno lay with his back against the couch.

It's the mindfulness of that being their apartment, their couch and a space Jeno felt safe with Jaemin. Is overwhelming, the illusion of romance Jaemin can’t give him. At that moment Jeno thinks it's going to be okay, he can deal with it later.

“Faster” He whispers against Jaemin’s ear and it's in a handful of trembling snap of hips that Jaemin comes, Jeno spilling a beat earlier than him between their chests.

Jaemin manages to turn them around the couch, chest rising and falling frantically against Jeno’s, still inside him to prevent the upcoming mess on the couch and to a more romantic prospect, to delay letting go of Jeno.

Jeno swallows the quiet interrupted by heavy breathing, eyes closed and surprised to have Jaemin’s lips still kissing him, still sucking now less intensely on different inches of skin, hand caressing to soothe his sore back.

“It's cold” Jeno looks up at Jaemin, a kiss at his chin “But I like it here”.

Jaemin’s eyes soften in a heartbeat, hugging Jeno tightly trying to cover his skin with his own and it makes him chuckle, finding the useless attempt adorable.

“Can I?” Jeno noses at Jaemin’s neck, pressing a kiss there. “You gave me so many, how am I supposed to cover them tomorrow at work”.

Jaemin laughs, kissing Jeno “To make it fair, my neck is all yours now”.

Jeno feels daring, heart still trying to cope with the events unfolding, and tries to grind down with Jaemin still inside him when he sucks the first hickey right on his throat, a purplish mark there.

Jaemin knows. He glances at Jeno and tilts his head to capture his attention, hands on his butt cheeks to spread him wider, Jeno gasping loudly when Jaemin moves himself deeper.

“Is that your way to ask for a round two?” Says Jaemin against Jeno’s ear and that's probably the sexiest thing Jeno has ever heard.

“You're so gross”.

“You like it, liar”. Jaemin bites Jeno’s lower lip, eyes deep and unable to detach from him. It makes Jeno feel wanted, pushing himself further knowing this is not gonna last forever “Tell me exactly what you want me to do”.

“I want you to fuck me in the shower, you can be rough, I’m not gonna break”.

The rest of the night goes out in a blur, the haziness of air’s humidity inside the shower box, Jeno’s legs around Jaemin's waist and the sound of water covering his whimpers louder when Jaemin sets the pace he asked for, meeting back each thrust of hips, dirty and rough. His head repeatedly hits the wall behind him until Jaemin lets his hand protect Jeno’s head between him and the wall, still careful even when there's no space for languid and soft sex. Jeno can't recall when they stopped kissing and started to only moan and breath in each other's mouths, exhausted when he tries to repeat his name louder and louder.

“Jaemin”. Like a curse, a desperate need attaching at the man’s back, nails digging to leave a scratch there when they both shake with their second orgasms, Jeno’s body falling ungraciously against Jaemin, each nerve relaxed and tired, completely distraught and feeling the corner of his eyes tearing up.

Jaemin is there, hugging him, keeping Jeno closer when he’s shaking, overwhelmed and attached to Jaemin's skin. He knows this is all over, it's about to stop in the next few minutes and he’s sure he’s silently crying, feeling his warm tears disappearing just in time with the shower’s water.

He feels a light press of lips at his shoulder, once he calmed down Jaemin silently starts to wash Jeno clean, kissing his skin there and there as he makes sure his back and hair is soapy enough to wash.

The thing, at least for tonight, is that it doesn't stop.

When they're both dressed and hopelessly tired in front of the bathroom door, hesitant to move, Jeno looks over their living room.

“I should clean the couch” He whispers more to himself than Jaemin. It would be a good way to start erasing the hurt, to detach from what happened.

“We can think about it tomorrow”. Jaemin holds Jeno's hand, keeping him closer and glancing down at his face, a thumb tracing under his dark circles “Let's sleep now”.

“Goodnight”.

Jaemin looks at him, a small pout forming at his lips and oh he does not have the right to be this sweet and caring, not after all they've done.

“Would you like to sleep with me?”.

“I don't know, would you?”. Jeno glances at the open door, feeling uneasy at the idea of sleeping where Jaemin usually keeps his guests, now officially one of them.

Jaemin seems to sense his tray of thoughts, and sighs.

“I understand, you don't have to. You're not-- nevermind”.

It's when he presses one last kiss at Jeno’s forehead and is about to get back in his room that Jeno holds the hem of his shirt, impulsively stupid, not wanting Jaemin to go.

“How about my bed?”.

The last thing he knows is Jaemin smiling and saying yes.

 

--

When Jeno Lee wakes up, his mind travels to a series of things he mentally checks.

He’s thirsty, like he could swallow an entire river. His legs, especially his thighs hurt without even moving them, so do his arms. He can faintly hear Jaemin’s alarm ringing from his room and when he realizes said boy’s body is warmly pressing against him and snoring lightly Jeno’s brain starts to function.

“Nana! You have school”. He almost screams but his throat is husky from being thirsty and too loud since the night before, shaking Jaemin to wake him up.

“Bab-Jeno, what… what’s going on?” Jaemin squeezes his eyes trying to adjust to the blinding light of Jeno’s room, voice weary.

“You're gonna be late for school, and I need to be at the hospital, get up!”. He claps his hands in front of Jaemin’s face and rushes to the bathroom, jumping in his place when he sees how purple his hickeys are. Starting from his jaw to his collarbone in a filthy tray Jeno thinks it would be a good idea to strangle Jaemin until he appears behind him, his neck reflecting on the mirror even in worse conditions.

“Pretty untidy”.

“I’ll kill you, and make us breakfast”. Jeno turns back as he’s about to leave, pointing at Jaemin “On another note, you make breakfast”.

“Sounds right”. Says Jaemin’s hoarse voice tinted with a fun tone, exiting the bathroom to make them something to survive their traumatic awakening.

As Jeno eats (devours) Jaemin’s egg rice -the best one he’s ever had since his mother’s- he can't help but look at the challenging couch in front of his sight. Jeno might be delirious but he’s sure the comfortable deep green object, and the ugly white stains there, are challenging him and reminding what happened the night before, his cheeks warming up at all the filth his brain elaborated when horny and a bit desperate under Jaemin's wanting stare.

“I’m going”. Jaemin says, grabbing his bag.

“Get there safely”. Jeno is standing in front of the door, already wearing his gown so he can pretend he’s not late once he steps inside the hospital.

“In case I won't at least we’ll spend the morning together”. Jaemin turns to Jeno with a funny smirk, fingers curling around the handle.

“Mh yeah, maybe you will be assigned to me. You're a child at heart”.

Jeno is not sure how it happens, who leans in first or if they both did. They kiss.

Is a simple peck, a quick one and a soft “Bye” Jaemin croon before leaving behind an astonished Jeno who's definitely going to be late for work.

Speaking of work, he gets reminded of the way his neck looks when Donghyuck drops the pink penholder from his hands as soon as he enters their small office, Taeyong curiously watching them when he gasps seeing his conditions.

“Who the fuck gave you those? A damn vampire?”.

Jeno blushes, not so ready to tell the recent happenings still fresh and engraved in his mind. His legs twitch at the thought of Jaemin’s tongue mapping around every inch of his skin last night.

“Remember my roommate? The one I kind of have feelings for? Yeah, well…”.

“Jeno are you kidding?” Almost screams Taeyong and that marks a nightmare of a morning.

He finds the time to talk more seriously about it, joining them to the conversation Doyoung Kim, another pediatrician who's been open minded and good friends with Taeyong since a long time, it was easy for Jeno to open up when they met.

He leaves, for the better, a lot of details behind despite Taeyong’s inappropriate complaining. He understands the older, he’s been talking about Jaemin for some time now and he suggested Jeno to be rebellious and have sex with Jaemin at least once, just to know how it is. Of course this was all before they understood Jeno wasn't only attracted to his roommate, they got more sensible and less teasingly about it when they understood he had feelings for the man.

What Jeno doesn't is missing every single detail about their morning, timid when he admits they kissed. Also since Doyoung has to catch up on some previous things he makes sure he does, also mentioning how they got to be so intimate yesterday.

“You guys are… oddly domestic”. Lets him know Doyoung on their lunch break, as a confirmation the small box of food Jaemin prepared for him the day before.

“And romantic. Jeno, seriously, he serenaded you Elton John”. Taeyong looks over Jeno’s shoulder where Jaehyun is making coffee at the small stove they have. “Jaehyun would never”.

Doctor Jung makes sure to give a face to Taeyong and it has Jeno laughing.

“He wasn't serenading me, he really likes that song”.

“Yeah whatever”. Doyoung gets off the table where he is sitting, touching Jeno’s neck with a finger “But those are obscene, I can't imagine what he looks like”.

Jeno faces ‘how he looks like’ Jaemin at dinner, coming home to a meal already prepared after Jeno’s dreadful evening shift, suddenly switched to the emergency department for the evening, not wanting to experience something like that for at least the next month.

“I think Mrs. Williams already figured I’m her secret Santa” pouts over soup Jaemin, glancing at the small desk where the present for the teacher is already packed with a ridiculously big red ribbon.

Jeno huffs, giving him a smile “You're her favorite I bet she's happy it's you”.

Jaemin's eyes widen briefly with excitement and Jeno figures he just remembered something he wants to tell him, used to the extra expressive way of communicating.

“You know how I always keep that target you made for me with your pretty handwriting”.

“Yes, the one I wrote ‘Nana’ on. Is it the one?”.

“Yes! I started to use it now that we have new students and all the kids call me teacher Nana”. Jaemin chuckles, eyes almost closing in an endearing eye smile “It feels like I’m at home all the time with the kids calling me like only you call me”.

Jeno meets Jaemin’s eyes, failing at not showing some real fondness his friends would make fun of him if they saw it.

“Only me and 15 kids”. Jeno jokes, pretending to be sad over it.

“As much as I love the kids I like it better when you say it”.

The place under the table is small but Jeno is well aware Jaemin’s feet raising up his leg is not a coincidence, it makes him lock eyes with Jaemin.

He meets his feet back, playing footsies like two gross teenagers.

“Is this how Jaemin Na charms people up? A bit old fashioned”.

He gets up to wash their plates, a part of him hoping this is not over when he throws a challenge he knows Jaemin will take quite literally to actually charm Jeno.

What Jaemin doesn't know is he really has to do nothing, Jeno is already far gone for him.

He smiles to himself when Jaemin gets behind him, fingers delicately touching Jeno’s bare skin under his sweater and it has Jeno shivering, breath cut short when he feels the man’s finger linger around the waistband of his boxers.

“You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?”. Jaemin totally finds some kind of amusement speaking slowly with his voice raspy only for Jeno to hear, albeit them being the only people living inside that apartment.

“Wasn't yesterday enough, dollface?”.

No it wasn't, and that is one serious problem Jeno is not dealing with.

His head finds support against Jaemin's broad shoulder, hands still inside the sink, a bit impatient, thrilled at the memories overflowing his mind just with a simple touch.

“Maybe I need more of it”. Jeno whines when he feels Jaemin press against his ass, grinding slowly and deeply it has Jeno meet his body back, needing noises on purpose to arouse Jaemin.

“Are you even aware of how dangerous you are Jeno?”.

He turns around meeting Jaemin’s dark and low gaze, licking a strip of skin at his neck, fucking up all good intentions when he hears Jaemin’s breathing heavily in anticipation.

“No I’m not. How about you show me”.

Jeno is lifted on the kitchen counter, legs spread for his roommate to get between them, raising his shirt mapping his lips to his skin, goosebumps forming with each kiss.

Jaemin licks at his nipple, biting there and Jeno trembles leaving a dirty sound, almost abandoning himself against the counter if it wasn't for Jaemin’s solid hold on his back.

“Wanna blow you”. Jeno tells him with a breathy moan, Jaemin stops to look incredulous at him.

With Jaemin laying on his bed, eyes half open and calling Jeno’s name like a prayer echoing in the four walls of his bedroom, this feels less like a fever dream and more like him being between his roommate’s legs, taking his time to trace his tongue flat around Jaemin length.

He takes his time, the initial rush kind of lost when Jaemin makes these deep breaths turning out into husky moans, hands threading in Jeno’s black hair with so much care it almost breaks the desperate haze of it.

Jeno looks up to watch Jaemin, the man giving him a small lifting of the corner of his lips, one finger tracing down his neck.

It's easy struggling to let go when Jaemin likes to take Jeno on his lap, to kiss him deeply and slowly like they have all the time to be close, to strip him off his clothes and have him against the softness of his mattress.

“Does this mean something to you?” Jeno thinks he hears once he’s under Jaemin, arms gripping as if he’s about to fall, head hiding in the crook of his neck. He’s tired, and afraid to let go of Jaemin so he lets himself abandon in the tenderness, silently whining at each thrust.

Jeno doesn’t even realize he’s hugging Jaemin, tightly with his nails delicately tracing his skin, no strength to leave any kind of mark on the skin.

Jaemin’s lips are pressed against his neck, pants against Jeno’s hair, pressing his nose there and his lips find its place in a long kiss on his cheek.

Jeno holding and intertwining his fingers with Jaemin’s, this is sex with feelings. He’s not sure how they got there when the night started playfully, the weight of that ugly truth at them being too slow, too delicate and attentive of the other, it breaks Jeno.

Jeno hates being weak, is angry at himself for not listening to the rational part that warned him since the start and presses at his throat in a painful hold.

Jeno is crying. Actual tears falling into his cheeks and Jaemin’s shoulder, shaking against Jaemin who stops, cupping Jeno’s cheek with the hand that's not busy already holding him.

“Hey, hey, what’s wrong? Did I hurt you?”. Jaemin has worried eyes, thumb sliding the tears away but they keep forming, watering eyes trying to face him.

“No. You're always too gentle, that's the problem” Jeno sniffs and feels bad for ruining the night. Jaemin doesn't need to deal with his emotional self. “I’m just overwhelmed, I think. Sorry, I’m not even sure”.

Jaemin wets his lips, eyes careful when he kisses Jeno again, slow on detaching from his lips.

“We can stop, it's okay baby, you also need to be comfortable with this”.

Because you have many other people you can call ‘baby’ instead of me, Jeno thinks. Of course he doesn't mind, not when Jeno is easy to leave behind when he will not slip into Jaemin’s bed anymore.

He feels stupid for hoping the way Jaemin touches him, holds him and sleeps with him means something that is similar to what Jeno feels.

Jeno shakes his head, a small sob leaving his lips, moving so he can switch their position, now on top of Jaemin who has his back pressed on the headboard.

Jeno is quiet, trying to keep up with Jaemin’s piercing stare, his hands sliding on Jeno’s ones around his neck, setting up a pace again.

It's still slow and distracted, stopping often from Jaemin being too focused finding Jeno’s tongue against his in his mouth, sucking on his bottom lip, making sure Jeno is fine.

His heart aches, beats awfully fast against Jaemin’s chest and Jeno knows there's nothing to hide, completely exposed when he falls with his head on the man’s chest. He lets himself be handled by Jaemin who seems pliant, moving Jeno against him until Jeno comes with a high pitched gasp that surprises both of them, his chest shaking from the force of it.

They try to have their breathing steady again, Jaemin doesn't let go of him but finds every physical way to show Jeno affection, keeping him against his chest and arms sliding around his torso to warm him up.

Jeno wishes he would let go once and for all if Jaemin can't give him what his heart wants.

The clock is tricking him to have time stopping for the few hours he just spent inside his room with a handsome man whose chest currently functions as Jeno’s pillow, eyes uselessly closing in the pitch black room.

Engulfed by a windy night at December’s doors, Jeno considers allowing a space for some honesty,

“It means something, I’m sorry I really tried to lead it to nothing”.

He’s scared, Jaemin is deemed asleep for a while now so Jeno is really talking to himself. There's some shuffling, a leg thrown over Jeno’s, conclusion of the intimidation of Jaemin being awake.

“Don't let it be nothing” Jaemin’s voice struggle to come out, furred from sleep “Don't do it to us”.

--

The sweet voice of Cyndi Lauper coming from the radio wakes Jeno up in the morning, body barely moving when he curls under the covers, the wind outside so strong it threads inside their apartment from the closed windows.

He feels a hand on his stomach and turns around to find Jaemin pressed to him, looking cold and in search of warmth as well and that is enough for Jeno to make himself smaller against him, a loose fist around his shirt.

“Hi”. Jeno blinks a few times, adjusting to the light “It's so cold, did you turn the radio on?”.

Jaemin emits a low chuckle at the disconnected phrases, warming Jeno’s brain, who’s still malfunctioning from the damage of feeling too many mixed emotions at once.

“Hi”. He smiles with the same gentleness Jeno thinks he can't live without anymore “It's snowing outside”.

“Really? It's so cold”. He says as Jaemin keeps him closer, leaning and kissing Jeno suddenly, with no other intention than to just have the boy’s lips.

“I didn't brush my teeth” Whines Jeno, trying to find something to distract himself from what happened.

“I don’t care Jen, it's you” Jaemin bumps his nose against Jeno’s, kissing him again. “You can be all gross and stinky, I’ll still kiss you”.

Jeno laughs, playfully pushing Jaemin so he almost rolls off bed, starting a morning fight none of them has the strength to strive.

“What about the radio?” Asks a bit breathless Jeno, looking at the vibrant orange device, bold inside Jeno’s softer tones of his room.

“I know music is the way to your heart. And we have a free day to do something together so I thought I’d start the day nicely”.

“If you want a date just ask me, Na”. Jeno is joking, amused eyes widening a bit at Jaemin’s reddening cheeks.

“I’m glad you're happy. I was so worried yesterday Jen, you were crying and-”.

“It's okay, really. But Nana, yesterday you said something and it's getting hard to ignore it”.

Jaemin sighs, holding Jeno’s hand from under the sheets. “I know it, Jeno. You think I’m a fool with commitment issues who bring several people to bed during the week and forget about them the next day”.

Jeno gets startled “Nana, that's not what-”.

“No, please Jen. Listen to me”. Jaemin’s eyes seem a bit desperate, nervous and that has Jeno shutting up.

“Truth is, I really like all of this”. He gestures between them “It's not only about sex, even if you're the sexiest person I’ve ever come across in a while but that's really not the point right now. Even before we kissed for the first time, I found myself staring at you while you water the plants, looking forward to our meals together and just feeling content doing silly little things for you, like leaving a sticky note on your lunch box. I like these things, I much rather spend time doing literally nothing and watching tv with you than sleeping again with a stranger for a night. I got too attached, Jeno. It's scary how obvious it is when the teachers at kindergarten notices, Renjun did”.

“And I’m not sure if it is because we live together or it is you being the best person I could get close to, I just can't keep my distance. I can't even think of bringing someone else over when there's you making me feel so at peace I could spend a whole day inside these walls without feeling an ounce of boredom. I’m also aware it makes you sad, and it hurts because I don't know what to do. I hope it helps that you know, I’m not sure this was the right thing to say”. Jaemin brings Jeno’s hand up to his mouth, kissing the knuckles “I’m not used to relationships, I have no idea of where to start and I hope this will make you understand how I feel about what's going on with us”.

“You're doing well so far”. Jeno smiles at him, “My fault is I kissed you when I knew that would have made me suffer. The crying it's all on me if we have to be honest. I just wasn't expecting, more like, I noticed something but I thought I was being delusional”.

“You're really being serious Jaemin? Relationships take effort, they're not easy and maybe I’m blurting all of this out because I’m scared and inexperienced too”.

“Do you trust me?” Jaemin squeezes Jeno’s hand. It's a bit sweaty, he looks nervous and it is a new shade of Jaemin he’s showing him.

“That's one easy question, Nana. I do”.

“I would love to try and make this work and if it doesn't, you’re still the most pleasant company I’ve ever had in this apartment and I hope you won't leave”.

Jeno gets on top of Jaemin, weighting him down like a strained cat, hands playing with Jaemin’s dark brown locks.

“I like it here. Maybe Renjun isn't a good realtor, he should have mentioned the roommate is addictive handsome”.

Jaemin rolls his eyes, enjoyment in his lips curled into a smile and hands circling around his waist.

“So what is my date’s request for today?”.

“Who said I was your date?”.

“Oh so you're not? Too bad, I thought I found a real catch”. Pouts Jaemin shifting Jeno closer to his face and he lets him be, eyes a bit enamoured, betraying him.

“I’d like to kiss all morning. After we brush our teeth. I know you said you’d still kiss me even when I’m all gross and everything, but relationships are not an excuse to avoid hygiene. Get up”.

Jeno pats Jaemin’s butt on the short way to the bathroom, laughing and almost choking on toothpaste when they kiss even before rinsing their mouths. It's probably a bit nasty and even less hygienic than morning breath. They both don't seem to care.

--

Jeno gets back home, stomping his feet inside and throwing unceremoniously his bag on the dark green -forever cursed- couch, only to notice Renjun Huang standing on his slim legs, a cocky eyebrow raised at him.

“Hey Carla Fracci, long time no see”. Jeno gives him an annoyed turn of his head at the unfunny way to describe his lack of delicacy.

“Would you like me to enter again with a grand jetè?”.

Jeno hears Jaemin’s familiar laugh from behind Renjun, happy glance at the pediatrician walking towards the kitchen.

“You're late”. Jaemin studies him with his attentive eyes and Jeno caresses/pinches his cheek with affection.

“I know, one of the kids had respiratory problems and I decided to stay there to check up on her”.

“Is it Ally? Is she going to be fine?”.

“She will, she’s a strong one. And asked about Nana, the handsome man that visits her sometimes”. Jeno holds a smile, Jaemin’s face transforming into sparkly eyes and the slightest inkling of a pout.

“I’ll visit her soon again”.

Since they decided to give dating a try, Jaemin has been the real definition of boyfriend material, giving Jeno many reasons for his friends to make fun of him.

One of his recent grand gestures being leaving flowers at the reception for “Doctor Jeno Lee”, specific when he knows there's more than a Lee in that hospital.

Jaemin on his free morning had been waiting for Jeno to bring him out for lunch, befriending at least three kids and charmed some of the nurses, Donghyuck being one of those.

That's how Jeno knew Jaemin was at the hospital, Donghyuck saying it was unfair how he managed to get the James Dean kind of deal.

Not that Jeno’s sexual preferences were a real secret in their department, but having something so loud and proud in the form of a potential soon to be boyfriend giving him pink and white roses was a shock to Jeno’s life spent hiding and feeling ashamed.

He wasn't afraid next to Jaemin, and that was enough for him to say yes when the question would come.

Renjun watches their exchange, his witty observant self not missing any of their subtle touches, and the roses on the kitchen table with the note of Jeno’s name in Jaemin's handwriting.

Renjun is also evil, not caring at being inconvenient.

“Those flowers are gorgeous Jeno! Got a new admirer at the hospital? I’m not surprised”.

Jeno gets Renjun’s intentions too quickly and seeing Jaemin’s nervous fumbling of fingers behind his back he decides it’s time to take revenge, and fluster a bit the salty realtor.

“Yeah, this time we have a strong candidate. He’s been swooning so much around me and he’s lucky I found him attractive enough to say yes, so obsessed he lives here”.

Jaemin blushes, a flick of his fingers to Jeno’s hip who’s enjoying Renjun’s life flashing out of his eyes.

“You-” He glances between them, puzzled when he locks eyes with Jaemin “You're the admirer?”.

“A little be more than that” Jaemin finds Jeno’s hand to hold “Well, hopefully. We're trying to see how it goes”.

“You’re messing with me. You??” Renjun looks bewildered at Jaemin. “Was bringing a queer and hot guy to this apartment the key to finally finish my job with this property??”.

"You think I'm hot? Wow, thank you Huang".

“Speaking of keys” Jaemin ignores Renjun -and Jeno- for a moment “He’s here to accompany me getting a new pair of keys, remember I broke mine. And if you join us we could have dinner all together somewhere”.

“Yeah” Jeno smirks Renjun’s way “Injun you should bring Yukhei too, if he’s free”.

“Who’s Yukhei?” Asks Jaemin.

“I hate both of you”.

It takes almost two hours for Renjun to get over Jeno and Jaemin dating, and another one for Jaemin to have the shorter boy explain the whole fling he has with the club’s barman apparently they all know.

They do it over drinks and Renjun had to fight for his life to go to any other club that doesn't have any Yukhei in it, for the sake of his sanity already threatened by an unusual new couple.

Once they made sure Renjun was secured in a taxi to bring him home, the night ends with Jeno’s attempts at a quiet tiptoeing towards their apartment, finding them kissing on the red stairs Jeno thought were peculiar when he saw the building the first time, now glad for the moquette saving his back from Jaemin’s hungry kissing, hands already unbuttoning Jeno’s blouse.

He’s content like this. With the security of trying to work this out, Jaemin’s weight on him, inside him, against his skin, breathing in each other's spaces, tongues wet against every space of skin there to not be left unexplored.

And when Jaemin comes inside him, an innocent soft kiss on his red cheek on a night where it's probably going to snow soon with Christmas approaching in two days, Jeno says “I think I love you Jaemin”.

Jaemin gets still for a moment and tries to laugh, a bit out of breath when he kisses the corner of Jeno’s lips.

“I was supposed to confess at midnight on Christmas Eve but you said it first”. A kiss at his jaw “I love you Jeno, I want us to be official. These weeks with you have been magical”.

“You are magical”. Jeno’s eyes are lovesick, completely fond and far gone for the handsome kindergarten teacher staring back at him like he holds the stars for the sky to shine. Everything cliché and predictable with that overwhelming feeling of love.

He doesn't care if it's obvious, if anyone can tell Jeno would follow that man with brown hair and an endearing smile everywhere. Jaemin was never supposed to be a stranger, not when he highlighted that tempting apartment offer and challenged himself to not be another of the ones leaving despite the previous tenants complaining.

He wonders if now they will have their neighbors laments, cringing when he knows they are respectively apartment 7 with a lovely family and two children and apartment 9 with an old lady that sometimes knocks on their door to bring them a piece of pie she baked for her nephews, always cutting a piece for them.

“Am I allowed to call you boyfriend now?” Asks Jeno, hand feeling Jaemin’s soft skin of his face, the man gently leaning against it for comfort, closing his eyes.

“How about love?”.

Jeno wrinkles his nose “A little too mushy. I like when you call me baby though”.

Jaemin’s smile is bright even under the darkness of Jeno’s room where Jaemin’s cushion he borrowed from his own room has been staying for almost a month now, sign of a significant change for them.

“I know you do, baby”.

 

The next morning Jeno finds himself fumbling with the wire not of a payphone but of their apartment phone, a bit old from the 60s and not as new as the rest of the house furniture. Jaemin liked it and never changed it because “It’s vintage”.

His boyfriend is not home, busy with preparing the last paper stars and glitters for his kids’ school recital. Jeno of course is going to watch it with the company of Taeyong and Jaehyun who wanted to tag along, both recently even more upset about not being able to marry or even adopt a child.

Jeno felt for them, his and Jaemin’s relationship just started, that not making their lack of freedom to love less painful. Jaemin fell in love with Jeno, was full of pride and never held back to show his affection in a world where maybe he could have chosen the easy way and date a girl.

But love is not a choice, Jaemin Na chose and fell for Jeno, as hard as it can be being an homosexual couple. Jeno hopes the future will be brighter, this sense of pride that in others is stronger and more prominent will be expanded to everyone, for fear to stop. For him to not start trembling at his mother's voice, the chatter of his family starting to celebrate the holidays in the background as a reminder of how he got that far.

New York City, a Brooklyn apartment and a lover.

“Hi mom, it's me, Jeno”.

“Thank god, dear, I was so worried about you”.

Jeno’s heart aches at his mother crying, eyes watering too at her sweet loving voice he missed.

“I miss you too, so much mom”.

When Jeno attempted to come out, his mother was the only accepting one. She told him God doesn't make mistakes, Jeno being like he is was supposed to be part of a greater plan. Also she believes Jeno is smart and capable of leading a happy life even when minds like hers are rare.

His father’s reaction on the other hand, not as heartwarming. The voice spread quickly, when Jeno was caught kissing Taeil, a boy of his neighbourhood who used to come back home from university breaks once in a while. His father tried to cut the rumors down, but Jeno really didn't want to, not when he was finally out. He simply had to leave, endure the pain until he graduated and left as soon as he was waitlisted at Brooklyn's hospital.

Jeno struggled, suddenly remembering the lonely nights at his motel, no one to really count on. How he refused to stay at Taeyong and Jaehyun place when he befriended them and found out the conditions he was currently living in.

Life really gifting him safety and an ounce of hope in the form of a yellowish newspaper and a phone number for one Brooklyn apartment.

“Where are you staying? Are you happy Jeno?”. His mother asks, voice broken of losing his only child to his husband's hatred.

“Brooklyn. I work at a hospital there and yes, mom, recently I’ve been very happy”. Jeno hesitates for a moment, looking at the shelf of plants vibrant in the wintery and greyish air outside. “I have a boyfriend. It's a serious relationship, don't worry I’m not fooling around”.

She sobs on the phone, but she sounds brighter to Jeno’s relief.

“That's good honey. What’s his name?”.

“Jaemin, he’s also korean. We live together, he is my roommate and that's kind of how we got closer”.

“Jaemin, is he handsome? He sounds like the good looking type”. She chuckles and sniffs a bit, Jeno truly missed her voice.

“Very handsome. And kind, he treats me well. I know you were going to ask me”.

“That's good, all that matters is you’re happy. Don't be too much of a stranger Jeno, please call me when you have time. I know you think he doesn't but your father misses you as well, he tried to look for you”.

Jeno smiles, bitter with memories he’d like to leave behind. Can you really erase your past? A figure that was there for him and caring until it abruptly stopped just because something didn't turn out to favor his plans?

Jeno thinks it's better to ignore it, if he really has some love for himself.

“He misses the Jeno I was before he found out his son is gay, I’m not sure he’d like this Jeno”.

“Honey you’re the same Jeno. Kind, smart and sweet Jeno who would never hurt a soul, your freedom to love doesn't change that”.

“I know mom”. Jeno tries not to cry, he’s happy now.

Today has been a good day. He woke up to Jaemin’s butterfly kisses, letting himself be cuddled and taken care of later in the shower. He prepared coffee for his boyfriend, while checking his turns at the hospital to organize his time so he could pick his friends up for the recital.

He cleaned the apartment a bit until the memories of his past Christmas had him dialing the familiar phone number of his parents home.

“But if he can't see that and reduce me only to my sexual preferences, then I have to let him go. I promise I won't be a stranger, I’ll find my way to call you and maybe introduce you Jaemin sometime, if you would like”.

“I’d like that, you guys are safe with me”.

“Merry Christmas mom, I’m not sure I’ll be able to call you tomorrow. And I forgive him, I just don't think I can let myself suffer to meet him and ruin everything I’m building up. I’m healthy and happy, that's all I need”.

“Merry Christmas dear, enjoy the holidays. Jaemin too”.

Jeno sighs heavily, heart strangely lighter, ready to move on.

 

--

Christmas Eve goes with a nice dinner at their apartment, the snow outside and them being lazy two real difficulties to get out of the house.

They stupidly dance around the living room, Frank Sinatra’s voice singing to “The way you look tonight”, Jeno an extremely good dancer when Jaemin looks at their feet struggling to keep up, fake exasperation when he steps Jeno’s feet for the third time.

“I give up! You're the good dancer”. Jaemin picks Jeno up, him circling his legs around the boy’s waist by memory and habit, spinning them around the living room and Jeno laughs against Jaemin’s neck, so much he coughs at his sore throat.

They're wearing a matching set of ridiculous red pajamas, Christmas ornaments sewed on the fabric Jaemin insisted to wear.

The radio then plays Queen’s Love Of My Life and Jeno detaches from Jaemin's neck to smile fondly at him, noses brushing together.

“This is a sad song, why are you smiling so much”.

“Shut up, it's romantic”. Jeno gives Jaemin a languid kiss, tongue licking inside Jaemin’s mouth slowly “Weren't you supposed to be the charmer”.

“You said it all the time but look at you, all over me with that addictive tongue of yours. I am charming apparently”.

Jeno is completely intoxicated by Jaemin's half lid eyes staring at his lips, closing in another sweeping kiss, the sound of their mouths meeting loud and sweet in their ears as Freddy Mercury sings.

“Love of my life, can't you see?
Bring it back, bring it back
Don't take it away from me
Because you don't know
What it means to me”

Their clock hits midnight and Jaemin breaks their kiss just to stare lovingly at Jeno, calm and happy in his glinting eyes under the light of their Christmas tree.

“Merry Christmas, baby. To the first of an endless series”.

“I love you Jaemin”. He hugs him, legs getting back on the floor so he can interlace his arms better around the boy’s shoulders “I’m glad you're here next to me”.

On Christmas morning Jeno is cold and naked in front of his bathroom mirror, washing his face when he sees Jaemin behind him, hands around his neck posing oh his chest the cold silver of a thin necklace.

“What is this?” He gasps, taking in his hand the necklace with the silver cursive letters “jm”.

“Your Christmas present”. Jaemin hugs his waist, one hand caressing the faint line of Jeno’s abs as he locks eyes with him through the mirror.

Jeno turns his head, small complaint in his voice. “We said no presents for this year”.

Jaemin smiles apologetically, cheek pressing against Jeno’s. “Sorry I couldn't resist. I always pass by that jewellery shop next kindergarten and the displays are so pretty. I thought this would have looked beautiful on you”.

“Don't you have a matching one?”.

“I do. I just waited for you to wear yours so I can get mine”.

Jeno’s cheeks warm up in a cheeky smile “Am I predictable if I kiss you right now?”.

Jaemin has Jeno to turn properly so his back presses gently against the sink, removing Jeno’s towel hanging low on his hips.

“There's never enough”.

 

Jeno learned to coexist with a complete stranger with various different habits than his. Became a master of using the washing machine, white clothes not ending up of a pinkish color anymore. To a greater extent he even learned to cook, to organize a calendar well so he remembers to pay rent and his friends birthdays. He learned to show himself for the caring friend he is and to enjoy and be grateful for work even when it’s stressful.

Learned to forgive, to let his past behind and not erased, as a way to mature and build up a brighter future.

And lastly, Jeno learned to love, deeply, shamelessly and full of pride for his heart, always calling and reaching for Jaemin who seems to be on his same path. He hopes he will be there for a long time.

Jeno Lee believes in the casualties of events, and what a lucky one was Jaemin Na.