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Seojun slows to a stop and half turns to face Suho, raising a questioning brow.

Suho’s mouth opens and closes on a few attempts at spitting whatever it is out, wearing Seojun’s patience thin in the process. “What?!” he says abruptly, expression blank. His exasperation only grows when Suho doesn’t reply, settling for looking at him until Seojun fully turns. “Yah. If you don’t have anything to say—” 

“Why are you getting back at me using her?” Suho interrupts. He lifts his head high, chin jutted as he buries his hands in the pockets of his jacket. “Jugyeong. She has nothing to do with this. Why are you involving her?”

A wry smirk splits across Seojun’s face a moment later, a jaded veil tucking something else out of sight. There are lots of things Seojun’s indifference can hide. He’s learnt to plaster a smirk on and play careless at even the hardest of times. 

However, given the look on Suho’s face, he’s not doing a good job of it right now.

“Necessary evil,” Seojun answers, tilting his head with a blink, smirk growing faint on his mouth. “The look in your eyes whenever I’m around her…” he trails off, breathing a small laugh from his nose. “It’s satisfying.”

Suho’s expression doesn’t change. He looks calculative. Looks like he’s reading Seojun like one of his stupid comics.

“Is that all?” Seojun asks. He points a thumb over his shoulder. “I have more important things to be doing right now.”

He doesn’t wait for Suho’s answer, turning on his heels to leave.

“Did you perhaps…” Suho starts again, breathless and quiet. Seojun tuts his annoyance and stops walking, doesn’t turn around this time as he prods the inside of his cheek with his tongue. “Were you and Seyeon…”

He doesn’t finish off the question but Seojun picks up on it anyway. His skin all at once feels like a shirt too tight, one that’s about to rip at the seams. He feels too hot and out of breath, his heart’s picking up speed in the confines of his rib cage as his lungs tighten on the air inside them. He forces himself to exhale, breath trembling out of him as he tries to steel himself. Tries to curb the tears burning hot behind his eyelids.

“…more?” Suho finishes. The last nail in his own coffin.

Because Seojun turns around, hands curled into fists at his sides, nails digging lunettes into his palms as he stalks over to Suho. He grabs him by the collar and drags him in. “I told you not to say his name,” he snarls, nose a hair’s breadth away from his.

And damn Suho and his composure. He only blinks, sags like a ragdoll in Seojun’s hold like he’s raising the white flag. Like he thinks he deserves everything that’s coming at him.

Seojun shakes him, once, then twice. Just wants him to fight back. For once. To retaliate. And if not that, then to at least push him away and defend himself.

When Suho doesn’t say or do anything except look at Seojun with a sympathy he can’t weather, Seojun shoves him back, has him stumbling a few steps before regaining balance. “What Seyeon and I had is none of your business,” he spits.

He leaves before Suho can gather enough mind to respond.

Suho remembers how much Seojun used to sleep after his father passed away. He wasn’t good at coping with loss. He’d sleep through the day and drink into the night. Reeked of alcohol whenever the three of them would meet up.

Seeing him sleep through classes is amusing. To their classmates. It’s disrespectful and lazy to their teachers. It’s insult to injury to Suho; knowing that Seojun’s silently hurting and he can’t do anything about it. Isn’t allowed to. After all, he’s the reason behind all of it.

He walks into class, strawberry drink in his hand, and lags at the door. 

Jugyeong’s talking with Soo-Ah and Tae-Hoon, showing them something on her phone that makes Soo-Ah cup her own cheeks with a wide smile and Tae-Hoon poke her dimple like cuuuute.

Seojun’s asleep, one arm hanging off the desk with his head pillowed on it. Suho’s grip on the drink tightens for just a second before he eases in and quietly puts the drink on Seojun’s desk.

Class starts a few minutes later, Mr. Han Joon-Woo ruffling Seojun’s hair to wake him up. Seojun groans and slaps his hand away, “Don’t touch the hair.”

Joon-Woo laughs and nods. “His hair’s more important than class, I see,” he walks to the front of class and starts with his sentimental pep talk.

A while into the lesson, a paper ball lands squarely on the back of Suho’s head, making him turn to look at Seojun weirdly. Seojun arches a brow and nods his chin at the scrunched up note as if to say go ahead.

The paper’s rumpled when Suho flattens it out on the desk. It says, ‘I’m allergic to strawberry, jerk.’

Suho’s smile is a tiny, barely noticeable thing on his lips. He doesn’t look at Seojun, just scrunches the paper back into a pellet and shoves it into his pocket.

There’s something habitual about being alone at home. Something that Suho’s grown familiar with. He’s used to no visitors.

Usually, when his housekeeper drops by, she has the key, which means she doesn’t need to knock or ring the bell. So naturally, it takes him a few seconds to register the banging on his door.

He lowers the volume of the TV that he, weirdly enough, can’t focus without, and tilts his head back over the backrest of his sofa to make sure he heard right. The next salvo of knocks has him huffing and dog-earing his book before climbing to his feet.

He swings the door open, not bothering to ask who it is. He’s not sure who he’s expecting on the other side and doesn’t really have the chance to ask Seojun what he’s doing here. Not when Seojun shoulders past him with enough force to have him reeling back. “Come in,” Suho mutters to no one in particular as he shuts the door.

He strolls back into the living room to find Seojun sitting on his couch, one arm spread over the backrest of it, the other holding the remote control. He looks like some king presiding over his kingdomSuho rolls his eyes and snatches the remote from him. “What are you doing here?”

“Watching TV?” Seojun says slowly, looking at him like he’s stupid. Like they’re close enough for this. For visiting.

“You have a TV at home.”

Seojun shrugs. “I don’t have money to pay the bus fare,” he says coolly, not even putting effort into sounding believable.

“I’ll pay.”

“So you can lord it over me?” Seojun breathes a nasal laugh. “No thank you.”

Suho crosses his arms over his chest, regarding him noncommittally. Seojun sighs. “Yah. I like this show. Move out of the way and admire me from another angle.”

Suho lingers for just a second before throwing the remote back at him and leaving the room to get ready for bed.

He spends a ridiculously long time brushing his teeth, ends up scraping his gum and wincing. He puts his toothbrush down and rinses his mouth. Looks in the mirror. He’s flushed. A bit tense. Overthinking. Not really sure why.

“What are you doing?” he asks when he walks into his room.

Seojun puts the book down on the bedside table and clears his throat. “Nothing,” he mutters. “I’ll take the bed, you take the couch.”

Suho shifts, frowning his confusion. “You mean the other way round.”

“No,” Seojun shakes his head. “I’m the guest. He who is not friendly towards a good guest will never have one,” he shoots finger guns at Suho with a wink and a click of his tongue. “Chinese proverb. Be decent.”

Suho can’t help the fondness in his smile. “And the guest who seeks special attention muddies the host’s tea. Japanese proverb. Take the couch.”

Seojun gasps dramatically, stepping back with a hand to his chest like he’d just been shot.

But he’s grinning, lopsided and easy.

The sound of the piano playing seeps into Suho’s sleep. Low and soothing and so achingly familiar. He eases his eyes open, lets the sound sink in before he’s sitting upright to push his feet into his slippers.

He slides his door open and steps out.

The music room’s open. Seojun isn’t on the couch but his jacket’s slung over the armrest of it.

Suho swallows and draws closer to the room. He doesn’t go in. Just leans back against the wall beside the door and rests his head on it, eyes closing as he listens to Seojun play.

The opus sounds. Different. Under the press of Seojun’s fingers. Sounds cold and blue. Fits well with Suho’s house.

It sounds hurt. Sounds like grief and pain.

It sounds like a dead march.

Suho has to swallow the sob building up in his throat.

He listens. And listens. Keeps listening until Seojun breaks the rhythm with an angry and messy swipe of his hand over the keys. The sound rings shrill in Suho’s ears, followed by the slam of the piano lid, and. And a sob. One wrenched from the core of Seojun’s pain.

He goes quiet after that.

Seojun was never a loud crier.

Suho was never good at consolation but he…tries. He walks into the room and stands behind Seojun to rest a comforting hand on his shoulder.

Seojun doesn’t react. Not for half a minute. Then another sob racks his body and Suho has no choice but to hold him. He sits on the piano bench beside him and pulls him into his arms.

It’s supposed to have a calmative effect. But Seojun starts crying more. Low and excruciating. He lifts his hands between them to take a hold of Suho’s shirt.

Suho’s half expecting him to push him away. Tell him to piss off. To follow Seyeon. That he hates him and doesn’t want him anywhere near him.

But Seojun only clenches his fingers tight and buries his face in his neck. It’s not enough. He’s not enough. Suho knows that. Feels like he might be making things worse.

“You’re okay,” he rasps, patting over Seojun’s hair gently until his cries grow fainter. “I’m here. You’re okay.”

But it seems like enough when Seojun lets himself be held, bleeding his pain out in Suho’s arms.