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When Johnny plops down on the bed, Taeyong peeks out from behind his book, gives him the side-eye, and then goes back to his text. The barest hint of a Major Lazer song comes out of Taeyong’s headphones, because tropical house is what he likes these days. A couple months ago it was Paramore and My Chemical Romance. Taeyong never likes to spend too much time with one genre of music.

 

Johnny takes a moment to relish the peace of this moment, face pressed into Taeyong’s pillow, watching his rather beautiful boyfriend make a poor attempt at focusing on his reading; Johnny classified this as an attempt because Taeyong hasn’t flipped the page in the last few minutes, and there’s a tell-tale blush on his cheeks, because Johnny is staring too obviously.

 

“What?” Taeyong whines, tugging out one of his earphones, eyebrows raised in annoyance.

 

“Nothing,” Johnny blinks innocently, and Taeyong huffs.

 

“Aren’t you supposed to be studying?”

 

Johnny fights back a grin and shrugs. “There are things I could be doing. But I’m not.” He takes great pleasure in watching Taeyong struggle for something to say; there are few things Taeyong takes more seriously than his studies. Johnny doesn’t share those inclinations. Tonight is one of those nights where Taeyong invited Johnny over to persuade him to do his assignments and keep an eye on him. Johnny just wants to cuddle Taeyong and press kisses to his neck and maybe take a nap.

 

“If you fail your classes--”

 

“I don’t care because my GPA doesn’t matter anyway,” Johnny finishes. He’d gone into university as economics major, with his parents hoping for him to become a respectable, boring accountant. Halfway through he’d switched into music, scored an internship at a prestigious conservatory, and has a job lined up after graduation. His parents won’t speak to him, but he doesn’t consider that a loss.

 

Taeyong lets out a frustrated noise and goes back to his book, eyes furrowed in a faux attempt to concentrate. Johnny grins, wolfish, before reaching out and tugging Taeyong towards him. Taeyong is deceptively light, and Johnny manages to wrap his arms around him even with Taeyong flailing around in protest.

 

“Johnny--” Taeyong tries, protests dying rather quickly when Johnny presses his face into Taeyong’s neck, breathing in deeply.

 

“You smell good,” Johnny murmurs. Taeyong sighs, exasperated.

 

“Because I just took a shower.”

 

“You always smell good.” And it is an unflinching truth. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, Taeyong always smells lovely, and Johnny can never quite get enough. Every day is something new-- Taeyong has an army of shower gels and body lotions that would make The Body Shop weep with envy.

 

“You’re stupid,” Taeyong says, but slips a bookmark into his book and puts it down, clearly trying not to smile. Johnny considers it a win. He turns in Johnny’s arms, mirroring his position on his side, and looks him in the eye. “Why are you bothering me right now?”

 

“I missed you,” Johnny says, pouting. Taeyong opens his mouth to say something, then stops himself. There’s a curiosity in his wide, dark eyes, and his eyebrows furrow in confusion.

 

“Why?”

 

Johnny doesn’t know why his heart suddenly kicks in his chest. He could make a joke and brush it off, because they’re not at that stage of their relationship yet-- Johnny doesn’t think so, at least. How does he tell Taeyong that he’s suffocatingly in love with him?

 

“We’ve been busy,” Johnny chooses to say. “We haven’t done this in a while.” This, being cuddling, holding each other, talking face to face. They haven’t done anything else, and Johnny is fine with that-- the ball is always in Taeyong’s court. Johnny doesn’t mind. He could spend the rest of his days just holding Taeyong close.

 

“I know, I’m sorry.” Taeyong is genuinely apologetic, and brings his hand to stroke Johnny’s cheek. He’s a busy premed, he doesn’t get a lot of free time, and Johnny has a little too much of it, and he spends most of his time pining, but that’s his own problem.

 

Johnny laughs, pulling Taeyong close and bumping their noses together. “It’s okay. I know you have stuff to do. You don’t have to be sorry.” He doesn’t want to be clingy-- Taeyong needs space, and Johnny doesn’t want to project his insecurities either.

 

Taeyong tilts his chin up and presses a lingering kiss to Johnny’s lips, warm, soft, comforting. His hand goes down to Johnny’s neck thumb stroking behind his ear. “Well, I’m not busy now,” he says.

 

“That book looked very interesting, though,” Johnny teases, and Taeyong huffs, smacking his chest half-heartedly.

 

“You know I’d rather be doing this.”

 

Johnny’s hand squeezes Taeyong’s hip. “Doing what?”

 

It’s an open, ambiguous invitation. Johnny’s gotten good at those. He won’t pressure Taeyong, and he won’t be bold, because Taeyong will either spook, or feel obligated to do the things Johnny implies he wants. But if Johnny says nothing, then Taeyong won’t feel confident enough to do anything, if he’s so inclined. It’s a delicate equilibrium, but Johnny would rather die than make Taeyong uncomfortable.

 

Taeyong chews his lip, clearly deliberating. Johnny waits with bated breath, rubbing a comforting hand up and down Taeyong’s spine. He sighs, content, when Taeyong scoots closer and slots their mouths together. They move slow, languid. Johnny loves the taste of Taeyong’s lips, soft and plush and pliant.

 

There’s nothing even remotely sexual about the kiss, but every time they touch intimately, Johnny feels that ache in his bones, that spark of need under his skin that renders his brain non-functioning. His skin burns, and his mind is static. This is what Taeyong reduces him to, with a single kiss, a feather-light touch to his skin.

 

Taeyong pulls away for a moment and takes a shaky breath. He licks his lips, and Johnny follows the movement with rapture. There’s a determination in Taeyong’s eyes right now, and Johnny stays still, content to let his boyfriend consider what he wants.

 

When Taeyong presses in again, his mouth is more demanding. His tongue licks carefully against Johnny’s bottom lip, and he jerks in surprise. Taeyong pulls back, face red. “I’m sorry.”

 

Johnny takes a strained breath and shakes his head. “Don’t be sorry. Do you want to do that again?”

 

Taeyong nods, slowly, and kisses Johnny again. He prods again, hesitant, and Johnny parts his lips, just a little. Kisses Taeyong harder, just a little. Taeyong wiggles closer until their legs are tangled, and Johnny’s hand is firm on his back. Taeyong opens his mouth and tilts his head, angling the kiss just a little differently. Johnny sighs shakily into the kiss, revelling in the way Taeyong’s fingers brush tentatively against his undercut.

 

“More,” Taeyong murmurs against Johnny’s mouth, tugging his hair lightly. Johnny pulls back to look at him inquiringly.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

Taeyong bites his lip again-- a nervous habit. “I want you to do it. Properly. I don’t… kiss that well,” he says quietly. Johnny shakes his head and presses his mouth to Taeyong’s forehead.

 

“You’re doing so well. I love kissing you.”

 

“I want you to kiss me. Like, really kiss me. I know you want to.”

 

“What I want doesn’t matter here, Tae,” Johnny reminds him softly.

 

There’s that determined flicker in Taeyong’s eyes again. “But I want it.” Taeyong has never been a demanding, rambunctious person. Johnny himself is loud, a little obnoxious, larger than life. Taeyong is reserved, stoic. His voice is quiet, soft, but sometimes he says things with such a gravity that it shakes Johnny to his bones. And right now, he’s staring right at Johnny, face set, certain. “If I don’t like it, I’ll tell you to stop.”

 

Johnny opens his mouth to protest, but realizes that trying to pressure Taeyong into not doing anything is just as counterproductive as pressuring him into doing something. He has to trust that Taeyong knows what he wants-- and by God, Johnny will give him anything he asks for.

 

So Johnny slides his arms completely around Taeyong’s body and pulls their bodies flush together, eyeing Taeyong carefully for any sign of discomfort. He seems a little flustered, a little lost, but his lips quirk up, and he seems eager.

 

And Johnny kisses him-- really kisses him, wet, open-mouthed, and needy. He goes slow, because he wants to savor this-- Taeyong’s startled gasp, the way his fingertips dig into Johnny’s scalp, the way his body tenses under Johnny’s hands, then relaxes, with a sigh.

 

Johnny licks Taeyong’s bottom lip, silently asking for permission. Taeyong doesn’t jerk back. He parts his lips a little more, and the knot in Johnny’s chest comes undone. He slips his tongue in, and Taeyong’s meets him halfway.

 

A squeak of a moan slips past Taeyong’s lips, and Johnny swallows it eagerly. Taeyong cradles his face with increasing fervor, writhing a little as his lips move in tandem with Johnny’s. Taeyong’s mouth is sweet like the smoothie Johnny bought for him an hour ago. It’s wet and warm and inviting, and Taeyong seems so excited, so happy to have Johnny’s mouth on him, that it makes that burn under his skin turn into a forest fire.

 

One of Taeyong’s hands slips out of Johnny’s hair, and his fingertips graze against Johnny’s throat, his plaid flannel, and fists in the cotton of his shirt. “Johnny,” Taeyong mumbles, breathless, a little dizzy, and body flushed with a want he’d never felt before.

 

“Yeah babe?” Johnny asks, eyes a little glazed, lips swollen. Taeyong’s toes curl at the pet name, and the lust threatens to overwhelm him. “Do you want to stop?”

 

Taeyong shakes his head. “No, I--” He breathes unevenly and uncurls his fist, eyes glued to Johnny’s as he slides his hand down the impressively hard planes of his chest. Johnny’s expression is unreadable as Taeyong slips his hand under his shirt, pressed flat against his abs. He thumbs at the trail of hair under Johnny’s navel, down to where it disappears under the waistband of his sweats.

 

Johnny exhales sharply, and the muscles in his stomach quiver under Taeyong’s hand.

 

“I’ve been… thinking a lot.”

 

“About?” Johnny’s voice comes out embarrassingly rough. He’s strung out, needy, and trying desperately not to get hard at the slightest touch.

 

“Us. And… how we’ve been taking things. Which is… really slow, by the way.” Taeyong’s not looking Johnny in the eye anymore, cheeks bright red. “And I--” Taeyong’s fingers slip under the waistband of Johnny’s boxers, and his heartbeat thunders in his ears. “I want…” Taeyong’s hand strokes lightly over Johnny’s dick, and he almost chokes.

 

Taeyong-- ” Johnny gasps when Taeyong curls his fingers around the base of his arousal and strokes slowly, and finally looks up to meet Johnny’s startled gaze.

 

“I want this, Johnny,” Taeyong mumbles, breathless, because Johnny’s cock is hot and slick in his hand, turning hard in his hand, and it makes him feel powerful. He uses his other hand to tug Johnny’s sweatpants and boxers down, and watches with fascination as his erection bobs free, curving up to his stomach. Johnny groans and squeezes his eyes shut at the exposure.

 

“Baby, we don’t--” Johnny’s words are muffled by Taeyong’s mouth, wet and insistent and a little frantic. He strokes his hand up and down, tantalizing, driving Johnny absolutely mad with desire. It had been burning in his gut for what feels like an eternity, and now Taeyong is just fueling the flames.

 

“I want to, Johnny. I want to make you feel good,” Taeyong whispers, and kisses him again to muffle the groan, because Doyoung, Taeyong’s flatmate, is home too.

 

Taeyong nudges Johnny’s shoulder until he gets the hint and rolls onto his back, Taeyong following after him to straddle his hips. He stares down at Johnny, amazed at how this man-- normally tall and intimidating, could be reduced to a flustered mess, just with Taeyong’s hand. He leans in to kiss Johnny’s bared throat, before sliding down his body.

 

The noise Johnny makes when Taeyong licks the head of his cock is unholy, and he has to bite his hand to stay quiet. If kissing Taeyong’s lips was like heaven-- soft and sweet, having those lips around his cock is like hell-- all sweltering heat and suffocating desire.

 

He tilts his head down to watch Taeyong slide his mouth over Johnny’s length, keeping their eyes locked steadily. Taeyong has always been beautiful-- unearthly so-- but right now, he looks like sin. He bobs his head up and down with precision and fervor, taking in all of Johnny’s length until his nose is pressed against the dark hair at his base, then back up again to swirl his tongue under the head, and doing it all again.

 

Fuck, baby, ” Johnny hisses, his free hand going down to tangle in Taeyong’s hair. Taeyong moans happily, and the vibrations send Johnny toppling off the edge. “I’m gonna--” he chokes out in a warning, but Taeyong only sucks harder, keeping his mouth on Johnny until he’s coming down Taeyong’s throat.

 

Taeyong gags a little, having forgotten how bitter and salty come tastes like, but he swallows it down, and slides his mouth off of Johnny with a lewd pop. His mouth and jaw are sore, but his body is thrumming with satisfaction. As he straightens up, so does Johnny, and he clambers into his lap for a kiss.

 

“Taeyong, what the fuck-- ” Johnny chokes out, not knowing where to touch. Taeyong pulls the flannel off his shoulders and arms, before tugging Johnny’s shirt off. He’s seen Johnny shirtless once or twice, but not this close, not in this context, where he’s wound up, desperately turned on, and with free reign to touch. He lets out a little moan, running his hands up and down Johnny’s chest appreciatively.

 

Johnny grabs his face and pulls him in for a scorching kiss, groaning when he tastes himself in the crevices of Taeyong’s mouth. Taeyong trembles in his arms, pressing their bodies together, hands tugging wildly at Johnny’s hair.

 

“What do you want, Tae?” Johnny asks, mouthing at Taeyong’s neck. His skin is sweet, like cream in his mouth, and he bites at it, wanting to mark Taeyong, however impermanently. “How can I make you feel good?”

 

And it’s almost ridiculous how badly he wants to-- to make Taeyong shake and scream in pleasure, to make him feel and know and never doubt how much Johnny loves him, to show his devotion, to make Taeyong forget the person who hurt him and made him feel like he wasn’t enough.

 

“I-I don’t know,” Taeyong says helplessly. He can’t think, he feels lost. He doesn’t really know what he wants. He never considered it, and that terrifies him.

 

“Shh, it’s okay,” Johnny murmurs, stroking his hair. He slows down the kiss, takes it from the roaring inferno and turns it into a gentle simmer, until Taeyong’s relaxing against his mouth. He rocks them forward, until Taeyong’s pressed onto his back and Johnny is hovering over him.

 

“Can I take your clothes off?” he asks.

 

“Please,” Taeyong says breathlessly, helping Johnny pull his shirt off, then the track pants, then the boxers, until he’s naked, the fabric of his comforter scratching against his bare skin. His first instinct is to cover up, curl into a ball and hide, but Johnny’s eyes are nothing but kind, adoring. Johnny would never hurt him.

 

“God, you’re beautiful,” Johnny mutters, choked up like he’d been punched in the stomach, and takes in all of Taeyong, all golden skin and soft, strong lines. “Where do I start?”

 

Taeyong knows Johnny’s more talking to himself now, but the words make him shake with want. No one has ever looked at him like this, has ever wanted to make him feel good just for the sake of it. He’s never felt so loved and adored.

 

Johnny leans in to kiss Taeyong’s chest and down his sternum. When his hands brush over Taeyong’s nipples, he jerks like he’s been electrocuted. Johnny looks up, eyes swimming with mirth. “Like that?” He presses down against them, fingers rough and calloused and perfect against Taeyong’s skin. He lets out a loud, strangled moan, and Johnny laughs as he shushes him.

 

“Doyoung’s home right?” Johnny asks, having a hard time kissing him when he’s grinning like an idiot.

 

Taeyong smacks him weakly. “I h-hate you.” His irritation is short-lived, because Johnny latches his hot, wet mouth on one of his nipples and tugs harshly at it with his teeth, and Taeyong’s back arches so far off the bed he thinks he may have pulled something.

 

“You gotta be quiet, baby,” Johnny says, with that stupid, smug look, and then with a glint in his eye, taps two fingers against Taeyong’s lips. Taeyong takes them in, keeping his gaze on Johnny, and his normally warm, amber eyes go dark, as Taeyong works his tongue over the digits.

 

Johnny goes back to Taeyong’s nipples, licking and sucking and occasionally biting, and Taeyong’s noises are muffled by the fingers in his mouth. He feels dirty, sloppy, with drool slipping out of his mouth, but it feels so impossibly good-- he feels good.

 

Johnny proceeds to kiss down Taeyong’s body, determined to find every sensitive spot, and spends time sucking bruises into the sensitive skin. Johnny has always been mild-tempered, the gentle giant. But right now, it feels like he’s trying to eat Taeyong, methodically unravelling Taeyong until his spine has melted and his voice feels hoarse. Johnny hasn’t even touched Taeyong’s dick yet, and it’s already achingly hard against his stomach, oozing precome.

 

Taeyong finds out that the insides of his thighs are the most sensitive, and Johnny clamps his teeth down so hard that Taeyong opens his mouth in a silent scream, body writhing in pleasure, hands pushing at Johnny’s shoulders, because it’s too much, and yet not enough.

 

“Do you think I can make you come without touching you?” Johnny muses, voice deliciously low as he slips his fingers out of Taeyong’s mouth, wiping at the saliva dripping down the corners of his mouth and chin.

 

“Y-you can try,” Taeyong mumbles weakly, amazed that he can even string together a coherent sentence. Johnny’s hair-- his pride and joy-- is in complete disarray from Taeyong tugging on it constantly, and his temples are sweat-slicked. He looks like sex and everything Taeyong has ever wanted.

 

Johnny smiles, and presses a soft kiss to Taeyong’s lips, before going down again, settling between Taeyong’s spread legs. He kisses one of the bruises on Taeyong’s thigh, and sucks on it as he teases his spit-slick fingers against Taeyong’s entrance. Taeyong can’t breathe, can’t think. His whole body feels electric, sensitive to Johnny’s careful touch.

 

Johnny doesn’t press his fingers in, but rubs the puckered skin slowly, teasingly. He mouths at Taeyong’s thigh, before pressing his fingertip just barely past the rim-- and is wholly unprepared for Taeyong to come with muffled shout, body taut like a bowstring as he comes all over his stomach. He quakes through the orgasm, and Johnny watches with amazement, as his boyfriend unravels completely into a sweaty mess of limbs and slick skin.

 

He leans in and licks the come off Taeyong’s stomach, and Taeyong pants weakly, fingers pressed to the back of Johnny’s neck. When he’s clean, Johnny leans up and sweeps Taeyong’s damp dark hair off his forehead and kisses it.

 

“Babe,” Johnny coos, voice thick with affection, and Taeyong positively thrums. He makes a noise of assent, because coherent words are out of the question right now. “Are you okay? Do you need anything?”

 

“‘M good,” Taeyong manages to mumble. Now that his eyes are a little more focused, he notes that Johnny’s still half dressed, while he himself is completely naked. It’s hotter than he thought it would be, but everything about Johnny is hot, and Taeyong can’t find himself regretting anything.

 

Johnny groans and falls down on top of Taeyong, tucking his face into Taeyong’s neck. Taeyong squawks indignantly, and tries to push Johnny’s impossibly heavy body off him, but the laughter makes him even weaker, so he lets Johnny be.

 

--

 

Johnny usually likes parties. He considers himself an extrovert, and loves being in big, loud social situations, with the opportunity to make new friends and have fun and get very very drunk. Tonight is not one of those nights. It was his turn to be on kitchen duty, guarding the good alcohol from over-enthusiastic freshmen and switching hard liquor for water for people who were too drunk.

 

He’s been nursing a headache for the last couple days after a massive argument with his dad, and the sharp, incessant sounds of Ten’s trap music grates at him even more. He’s not in the mood to party. At all. He wants the night to end so he can just go to bed with a couple of Advil.

 

“Uhm, excuse me?” Johnny is snapped from his thoughts, and he turns his head to the person who’d just called his attention. He takes a sharp breath, because fuck , if this guy isn’t the most beautiful person he’s ever seen. His hair is pink-- pink-- swept away from his forehead, and his eyes are rimmed with smudged eyeliner. His lips are full and pink, shiny like he’d put gloss on them and--

 

“Hello?”

 

Johnny blinks, and realizes, with great shame, that this person has been talking to him all this time. “I’m so sorry, what did you say?”

 

The stranger bites his lip, wringing his hands. “I uh. I know this sounds random and kind of awful but my creepy ex is here and he’s been following me for the last hour. Would you mind like… just pretending to flirt with me or something so he’ll get the hint and leave me alone?”

 

Johnny takes a second to process the words, and yeah, they do sound kind of ridiculous, but there’s a nervous sort of fear in the guy’s expression, too sincere not to be truth. Protectiveness curls in Johnny’s chest so violently it almost knocks him over.

 

“You want me to kick him out? I can do that.”

 

The guy shakes his head frantically. “No, it’ll just make him pissed. If he sees me with someone else I think he’ll just leave.”

 

“Okay, yeah. Let’s do it.” Johnny leans into the stranger’s space, not enough to be uncomfortable, but close enough to be personal. “What’s he look like?” he asks.

 

“Uh… kinda tall. Brown hair. He’s wearing a green shirt.”

 

“I’ll keep an eye out,” Johnny says, taking quick glances at the dance floor on the other side of the kitchen counter, bustling with people. “What’s your name?”

 

“Oh god, I didn’t even introduce myself, I’m sorry I’m kind of a mess right now--”

 

“It’s chill--” Johnny cuts off the rambling, smiling softly. “I’m Johnny.”

 

“Taeyong.” The stranger-- Taeyong-- smiles apologetically.

 

“Nice to meet you, Taeyong. What brings you to this fine abode?”

 

Taeyong laughs at Johnny’s choice of words. “Uh. My roommate, Doyoung. He wanted to come cuz there’s a guy he likes.”

 

“A noble pursuit,” Johnny says with a faux British accent, and Taeyong’s wide, dark eyes glitter with amusement. “And you’re the wingman?”

 

“I was supposed to be but I think I saw them making out in a corner earlier so--” Taeyong shrugs.

 

“Your roommate moves fast,” Johnny says, straightening up.

 

Taeyong snorts. “I’ll say.”

 

“You want a drink, Taeyong?” Johnny motions to the island covered in a very impressive assortment of bottles. Taeyong looks at them warily.

 

“I’m good, thanks. Don’t really drink.”

 

“Sure thing. Want water? We have soda too.”

 

“Uhm. Maybe a--” Before Taeyong can say finish his sentence, his back goes ramrod straight. “Oh god I see him, I see him.” His face drains of color, and Johnny feels that fierce protectiveness clawing at his chest again.

 

“Hey, hey. Relax. Look at me,” Johnny murmurs, and Taeyong meets his gaze, wide-eyed and frantic. “Breathe. Just relax and smile at me and nod, okay?”

 

“Okay.” Taeyong swallows nervously and tries his best to smile.

 

“Mind if I take your hand?” Johnny asks. Taeyong blinks at him, puzzled, but nods. He takes Taeyong’s hand in his and rests their elbows on the kitchen counter rather obviously. He then threads their fingers together and leans closer, grinning.

 

Taeyong’s nervousness melts and his cheeks stain pink as he looks at their intertwined hands.

 

“So, who’s this guy your roommate’s after? Maybe I know him,” Johnny asks, in an attempt to distract Taeyong. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see the guy Taeyong was describing, and resists the urge to sock him in the face.

 

“I--” Taeyong starts to turn his head, but Johnny brushes his hand on Taeyong’s chin to keep him from looking.

 

“Hey, keep your eyes on me. Relax. Breathe. Smile.” Taeyong follows his instructions.

 

“His… name is Jaehyun. I think he’s a second year.”

 

Johnny snorts out a laugh. “Wow, your roommate knows how to pick ‘em,” he says, thinking fondly of the tall, shy blonde. “Jaehyun’s kinda skittish, didn’t peg him as the kind of person to kiss strangers at parties.”

 

“Doyoung is… persistent,” Taeyong says, and looks out into the crowd out of the corner of his eye. “Johnny he’s not leaving,” he mumbles nervously, starting to chew on his lip. Johnny eyes the guy, standing very obviously at the edge of the dance floor, staring at him and Taeyong with a look that can only be described as murderous.

 

“He’s trying to call out bluff, I think,” Johnny says. He may not have experience with jealous, crazy ex boyfriends, but he does have experience with people.

 

Taeyong looks at him, panicked. “What do we do?”

 

Johnny contemplates for a minute, then smiles. “How do you feel about kissing a stranger at a party, Taeyong?”

 

“I--” Taeyong’s eyes widen, and the pretty flush on his cheeks returns. He eyes his ex, then squares his shoulders, looking at Johnny with determination. “Do it.”

 

It takes Johnny by mild surprise, the conviction with which Taeyong says it. The surprise turns into admiration, and something akin to affection. He grins. “Tell me if you want to stop, okay?”

 

Taeyong nods, swallowing, and Johnny lets his eyes lower down to Taeyong’s lips. He leans in, close enough that there’s barely a breath between them, but distant enough that Taeyong can pull away if he wants to. He doesn’t.

 

So Johnny closes the distance and presses their mouths together in a gentle kiss. Johnny has kissed a lot of people, with varying degrees of intensity and purpose. This kiss-- this simple, unassuming, gentle press of lips, threatens to knock Johnny’s entire world off it’s axis.

 

“He’s still watching us,” Taeyong murmurs nervously against his mouth. “We need to really sell it.”

 

“As you wish,” Johnny breathes, before sliding his arms around Taeyong’s waist, and kissing him harder, with intention. Taeyong gasps, startled, then all but melts into Johnny’s chest, arms slinging around his shoulders to press their bodies closer together.

 

Taeyong smells incredible, and soft, like chamomile and lavender. His body is slim and fits against Johnny’s perfectly. His mouth is plush and addicting and just lovely. Everything about Taeyong is lovely. Johnny finds himself lost in Taeyong’s embrace, their initial reason for kissing fizzling into static. Taeyong pulls away first, their lips parting with a light smack, and looks a little dazed.

 

“I--” Taeyong steps back, and Johnny lets his arms drop. “He left.”

 

Who? Oh. “Oh. Awesome,” Johnny says, trying desperately to reign in his sanity. Taeyong bites his lip-- now swollen thanks to Johnny’s efforts.

 

“I. Thank you,” Taeyong says, eyes swimming with gratitude. “I don’t know how to thank you.”

 

“Don’t mention it,” Johnny shrugs and slides his hands into his pockets so they won’t shake. “Nobody likes crazy ex boyfriends.”

 

Taeyong laughs, but it sounds a little forced. “Yeah…” He glances out into the crowd again. “I’m gonna get going, then. Uh. Thanks again Johnny.”

 

“No problem,” Johnny replies, but before he can say anything else, Taeyong has slipped out of the kitchen, and has disappeared, just like that. Johnny is a goner.

 

--

 

The beach gets really cold at night, no matter how unbearably hot it had been during the day. Johnny learns that Taeyong gets cold very easily.

 

“You should have brought a jacket,” Doyoung says, clicking his tongue, though he’s distracted easily by the way Jaehyun looks under the moonlight.

 

Johnny thinks the light of the moon and the stars combined couldn’t compare to the light that radiates from Taeyong right now. Even as his teeth chatter when a particularly chilly breeze blows past them.

 

“Some friend he is,” Taeyong snorts, as Doyoung scampers off to where Jaehyun is leaning over the pier. He looks at Johnny with exaggerated annoyance as he rubs his hands up and down his arms, and finds his mouth running dry at the intensity of Johnny’s stare.

 

“Take my hoodie,” Johnny says suddenly. Before Taeyong can even protest, he’s peeling it over his head, revealing the golden skin of his abs for a flicker of a moment as he raises his arms. Taeyong looks down at the worn wooden planks of the boardwalk, face flaming.

 

“Here,” Johnny says gently, holding it out.

 

“Won’t you get cold?” Taeyong frowns. Johnny is left in a thin tank top that leaves little to the imagination (to Taeyong’s great distress).

 

Johnny laughs, good-natured and warm. “I don’t get cold easily. You look like you’re gonna turn into a snowman.”

 

“It’s cuz I had the ice cream,” Taeyong pouts, but takes the sweater anyway. As he pulls it over his head, he almost goes lightheaded with the lingering smell of Johnny’s cologne sticking to the fabric, and his body warmth. He adjusts the hoodie over his body, and lets out a delighted peel of laughter when he realizes how ridiculously large it is on his thin frame.

 

“I’m drowning in this,” Taeyong says, grinning, but it slips off his face when Johnny stares at him, eyes dark. “Johnny?” he asks, a little nervous. Johnny puts him on edge, but never in a bad way. The way Johnny looks at him sometimes makes his entire body flush. He can’t find himself minding. But he wonders what to do about the situation.

 

“Let’s go by the railings,” Johnny suggests, clearing his throat. Taeyong nods and follows Johnny, who finds a place for them to look out over the water. Taeyong closes his eyes, letting the sound of the waves soothe him. He loves the overwhelming sensation of being near the ocean.

 

“I could stare at the ocean for hours,” Taeyong murmurs, opening his eyes and turning his head, only to find Johnny’s eyes fixed on him.

 

“It’s beautiful,” Johnny murmurs, but the way he says it makes Taeyong feel like he’s not talking about the ocean at all. Maybe this is it, Taeyong thinks. That threshold that he can decide to cross. On one side is all the fear, the doubt, the pain. Taeyong is tired of being in pain.

 

He steps closer to Johnny, until their arms are brushing. Taeyong doesn’t have enough courage to look at Johnny yet, but he feels brave nonetheless, his body humming with energy where his skin meets Johnny’s.

 

They’re both still for a minute, watching the waves glitter under the moonlight. Taeyong wonders if he’s read all the signals wrong, whether he’s scared Johnny off. It’s possible. Someone like Taeyong doesn’t deserve someone like Johnny.

 

And then, Johnny shifts beside him, moving his arm so it holds the railing on the other side of Taeyong’s body, caging him in. Taeyong takes a sharp breath as Johnny steps behind him, pressing his chest to Taeyong’s back, and lowers his head to brush his nose against Taeyong’s temple.

 

“Is this okay?” he murmurs.

 

“Yeah,” Taeyong says. Of course it’s okay. It’s more than okay. His body trembles, but from the thrill, from the amazement and satisfaction of having Johnny’s body pressed against his. Johnny’s body warmth seeps through even the thick fabric of the hoodie, and his eyes sting from the want.

 

Johnny’s hands are slow and careful, like Taeyong might run if he moves too fast. And maybe Taeyong might have. But Johnny is so careful, so tender, so understanding, and Taeyong wants to give all of himself away to this beautiful, caring man. He feels Johnny’s warm, solid hands wrap around him and pull him close.

 

Taeyong’s hands slide over Johnny’s own, and he hears Johnny exhale deeply, tightening his hold. For the first time in a long time, Taeyong feels hope blooming in his chest. He thinks he might finally be happy again.

 

--

 

“Donghae, let me go,” Taeyong says, tugging helplessly at his wrists, held in a bruising grip. He feels the tears threatening to spill, but he won’t cry in front of Donghae, not again. Ever.

 

“I knew you were nothing but a little bitch,” Donghae spits, and Taeyong curses himself for feeling so weak. Whenever Donghae is near, Taeyong feels reduced to broken bones and a the ghost of a chokehold.

 

Donghae pulls him close, the familiar scent of his cologne, mixed with alcohol, threatening to make Taeyong vomit. He scans the area helplessly, and realizes Donghae had cornered him in a deserted hall. “You thought you could leave me? And then I find you kissing another man? You’re going to fucking regret ever been born, you dirty, filthy slut.”

 

Taeyong hears Donghae’s hand meet his cheek, but he doesn’t feel it. Is he dissociating? Or is he so used to it that his body doesn’t even register the pain anymore? Taeyong thinks he might die here, given how angry Donghae is. He shouldn’t have kissed Johnny. He should have just hidden away, like the weak little shit that he is.

 

“Touch him again and you’re dead,” a voice booms, loud and clear over the high-pitched white noise ringing in Taeyong’s ears. Both he and Donghae turn to find Johnny standing a few feet away, face stone cold. It’s a terrifying sight, and Taeyong feels nauseous.

 

“Fuck off, it’s none of your business,” Donghae hisses.

 

“I think it is,” Johnny says, voice low and dangerous. He steps closer, and Donghae looks wary. “I’m going to repeat myself only once. Touch him again, and you’re dead.”

 

“It’s a waste of breath, defending a piece of shit like him. If you’re planning on fucking him, you should know he’s probably gotten around--” And Donghae doesn’t get to say anything else, because Johnny punches him so hard across the face that he falls over.

 

Johnny crouches down over Donghae. “I want you to get the hell out of this house, and never come near Taeyong again. Or I’m going to call the cops and drag your sorry ass all the way to court, is that understood?”

 

Donghae grunts, and Johnny hauls him up by the back of his shirt, before shoving him down the hall, not turning until he’s sure the guy is gone. When he notices Taeyong leaning against the wall, face pale, his face softens. “Hey, are you okay?”

 

When he steps closer, Taeyong flinches, and Johnny stops in his tracks. He puts his arms out. “I’m not gonna touch you. Just want to know what you need.”

 

“I-- I think I’m gonna throw up,” Taeyong manages to choke out, eyes frantic, breath coming out short and labored.

 

“Taeyong, look at me, okay?” Taeyong meets his gaze, terrified. “Take a deep breath with me, and count to four,” Johnny instructs, and Taeyong follows. “And breathe out, two, three, four. You’re doing great. Again.”

 

It takes a few minutes to get Taeyong breathing properly again. When Johnny feels like Taeyong is calm again, he takes another cautious step closer. “What do you need, Taeyong? How can I help you?”

 

Taeyong swallows thickly. “I-- It’s too loud here.” The bass echoes through the walls, and it makes his head pound even more painfully.

 

“My room is a couple floors up. It’s a lot more quiet there. Is that okay?” Taeyong hesitates for a moment, before nodding. He takes a shaky step towards Johnny. “Can you walk? Do you want help?”

 

Taeyong shakes his head. “Please don’t touch me,” he mumbles, head hanging low.

 

“I won’t, I promise. Just follow me.”

 

Johnny keeps a careful eye on Taeyong as they climb two flights of stairs. Because he’s on the board for the frat, he gets to live on the top floor, where it’s quiet even when there are raging parties going on a few floors down. He unlocks the door and steps inside, holding it open for Taeyong.

 

“I’m not going to close the door okay? You can leave whenever you want.”

 

“Thanks,” Taeyong says, wrapping his arms around himself. Johnny finds himself aching with sympathy, and wishes Taeyong didn’t look so terrified.

 

“You can sit on my bed or the chair if you want.” Taeyong slowly goes over to the bed and sits down, eyeing the space warily. Johnny sits opposite him in the chair, keeping a respectable distance between them. “Do you want water or something?”

 

Taeyong shakes his head again. “I just… I don’t want to be alone right now.”

 

“Do you want to call your roommate?”

 

“Doyoung will flip out. I just… can I just stay with you for a little while?” Taeyong stares resolutely at the floor.

 

“Of course. As long as you want,” Johnny finds himself saying. They sit in silence for a minute, and Johnny doesn’t really know what to do.

 

“He wasn’t like that at first, you know.” Johnny looks at Taeyong in surprise. “He was… really nice. Made me feel special and all that bull shit. He didn’t… hit me. Often.” Taeyong has a difficult time saying the words. Sometimes it feels like it’s not his reality. It’s like he’s talking about someone made up, a story. “Only when he was drunk.”

 

“I’m sorry, Taeyong,” Johnny says, feeling his chest ache.

 

Taeyong laughs bitterly. “Don’t be. You helped me. Doyoung helped me too. When he found out Donghae was… you know. He let me move in with him after I broke things off. Doyoung threatened to cut his dick off,” Taeyong remembers, laughing a little.

 

“Is this the first time he’s… tried to talk to you since then?” Johnny doesn’t really know what he is and isn’t allowed to ask.

 

Taeyong shrugs. “He’s tried a couple times. But I wasn’t alone during those times so…” For the first time since the incident, he looks at Johnny. “Thank you. You keep saving me.”

 

Johnny finds himself blushing, flustered at Taeyong’s sincere words. “I just--- I wasn’t gonna sit around while that shitbag, you know. I couldn’t.”

 

“Still. Thank you. I really owe you.”

 

Johnny waves his hands frantically. “No, you don’t owe me anything. I just want you to be safe. If he ever bothers you again, just let me know. I’m supposed to be a pacifist but I’d gladly punch his face in.”  

 

At that, Taeyong smiles, and it reaches his eyes. Johnny wants it to stay. Then, he laughs in disbelief, putting his face in his hands. “Oh god. I just basically spilled my entire life story to a total stranger. What an awful first impression, you must think I’m crazy.”

 

Johnny looks at his desk and notices an unopened water bottle. He grabs it and scoots a little closer to Taeyong. “I’m originally from Chicago,” he says. Taeyong looks up in confusion. “I was supposed to be an accountant but now I’m a music major-- piano. My parents all but disowned me for that one. My dad’s a shitbag and my mom cares more about looking like a perfect family than anything else.”

 

Taeyong’s face falls. “Johnny--”

 

“I enjoy long walks on the beach. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. I thought I could secretly communicate with them. I can’t eat raw tomatoes. My ex girlfriend was really into wax play and now I have a shit ton of candles that I have no idea what to do with. One of my toes on my left foot is bent at a really weird angle.” Taeyong stays silent as Johnny rolls his chair closer. “ On the weekdays I teach piano to little kids at the local conservatory. Shonda Rhimes shows are my guilty pleasure. I started binge-watching Scandal recently. I think I’m in love with Kerry Washington.” Johnny holds out the water.

 

Taeyong looks at him, wide-eyed, as if trying to put together a puzzle. And then, finally, his lips curl up into a soft smile. “Fitz is garbage,” he says.

 

Johnny grins. “He doesn’t deserve Olivia. He’s totally garbage.”

 

Taeyong takes the water.

 

--

 

“Look who decided to show up,” Ten drawls as Taeyong approaches their table in the cafeteria. Taeyong rolls his eyes and plops down next to Johnny.

“Hey,” Johnny murmurs, kissing his temple.

 

“Hi,” Taeyong says, looking up at him softly, before turning to their group of friends. “Sorry guys, office hours.”

 

“Yeah yeah,” Ten snarks.

 

“Just because you’ve never gone to office hours in your life--” Doyoung starts, and Taeyong tunes out what is sure to be another argument. Johnny pushes a paper bag towards Taeyong.

 

“You didn’t have breakfast this morning,” Johnny mutters, frowning. Taeyong smiles at him gratefully, pulling out the sandwich and unwrapping it.

 

“Thank you,” Taeyong says, before taking a bite.

 

“Wait a minute--” Ten says, eyes wide. Everyone at the table pauses what they’re doing to stare at their friend. Ten points at Taeyong. “What the hell is that?” he screeches. Taeyong’s eyes widen. “Is that a hickey?”

 

His hand immediately goes up to his neck, and his entire face turns a vivid shade of scarlet.

 

“Oh my god, I can’t unsee this,” Ten wails, while everyone else chuckles.

 

“Is it that obvious?” Taeyong asks Doyoung. His friend nods.

 

“It looks like you got mauled or something.”

 

Taeyong splutters and looks accusingly at Johnny. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he hisses. “I walked around with this all day.” Johnny just shrugs, taking a sip of water to hide his smug smirk. “You fucking jerk! I hate you!”

 

Johnny leans into Taeyong. “That’s not what you were saying last night.” Taeyong screeches and shoves Johnny out of his seat. He laughs, letting Taeyong manhandle him until he tires himself out and huffs.

 

--

 

Johnny sincerely doesn’t consider himself a violent person. Besides that singular satisfying moment of punching Taeyong’s ex, he doesn’t resort to violence as a solution to his problems.

 

But right now, he wants nothing more than to roll this baby grand piano off the stage and watch it splinter to pieces. He’d been in the practice auditorium for two hours now, trying to finish a composition for his class, but he can’t think. It tends to happen whenever he gets a call from his parents.

 

“When will you stop being a lazy bastard and get a real job?”

 

“Youngho, we just want what’s best for you. Do you know what my friends are saying about the family?”

 

“You’ve always been a fucking disgrace. I can’t believe I wasted so much on you.”

 

“I can’t show my face at the salon now because my son decided to be a musician. How ridiculous is that?”

 

Johnny smashes his hands down on the keys, frustrated.

 

“Johnny?”

 

He snaps his head towards the entrance, recognizing Taeyong’s voice. Fuck.

 

“What are you doing here?” Johnny asks, wincing when his voice comes out more brittle than he’d intended. Taeyong walks down the aisles and up the steps of the stage, frowning in concern.

 

“You weren’t answering your phone.”

 

“I turned it off.”

 

“Gotcha,” Taeyong says mildly, sensing Johnny’s mood. They’d only been friends for two months, and yet he could already read Johnny like a book. He sits carefully on the bench next to Johnny. “Your parents called.” It's not a question. 

 

“Just the usual,” Johnny says dryly. “It was like a nightmare when I first told them I changed majors, you know? Screaming, crying, taking me out of the will. All that bull shit. My whole life, all I wanted to do was to please them. Nothing was ever enough. I’d never be the perfect son. I gave up.”

 

Johnny exhales shakily, feeling the tears burning at the corners of his eyes. “Fuck, sorry,” he says, rubbing his eyes roughly.

 

“It’s okay to cry, you know,” Taeyong says softly.

 

Johnny laughs. “I haven’t cried since I was a kid.”

 

"You're still a kid," Taeyong says teasingly, and Johnny has to laugh at that. “Maybe it’s time.”

 

“I don’t like pity parties.” Johnny likes to be the clown, the one who makes people laugh. He likes to set people at ease, not burden others with his shitty problems. Johnny finds himself crumbling. “I really… I hate them. I know it’s harsh but I hate them. They don’t love me. I was their trophy. No one will love me.”

 

“That’s not true,” Taeyong says, turning to cup Johnny’s face. A single hot tear spills over, and Taeyong catches it with his thumb. “I’m here. I love you. I’m your friend, and you’re amazing. You saved my life. You’re talented. God, Johnny, you have a gift for music. You’re going to do amazing things. You don’t need them. You don’t need anyone.”

 

That’s a lie, Johnny thinks. I need you.

 

“It’s fucking me up, Taeyong, I’m so fucking tired. Why won't they love me?” Johnny says, voice wobbling dangerous. Taeyong’s face is soft, and his own eyes seem to brim.

 

“I know. It’s okay. It’s okay.” Taeyong pulls Johnny close, and lets him cry into his shoulder. It takes ten minutes for the tears to stop, and Taeyong just stays calm through it, rubs his back and talks to him gently.

 

“I love you, Johnny. I love you. I’m not going anywhere. You have me, okay? You’re not alone.” And Johnny believes him.

 

--

 

Taeyong’s laugh is bubbly and light when Youngho presses him against the tiled shower wall. The water isn’t even on but they’re soaked to the bone, still in the clothes they ran through the rain in.

 

Johnny turns on the water, and Taeyong screeches at the cold. He tugs at Johnny’s sweater and shirt, taking them off at once. Johnny presses in for a kiss, hot and desperate, despite the shivers wracking both their bodies.

 

“I want you naked,” Taeyong whines, struggling with Johnny’s belt.

 

“Slow down, Tae,” Johnny laughs, managing to get them both undressed by the time the water turns warm. Taeyong shivers in Johnny’s arms, letting himself be kissed silly under the spray of the water. When they’re clean and warm, he lets Johnny wrap him up in a towel and lift him up only to drop him onto the bed.

 

Johnny slides into Taeyong easily, slick and hot and natural after so many times. There are few things Johnny would rather be doing than making love to Taeyong, in the quiet privacy of their new apartment, on their big new bed.

 

Even after so many times, Taeyong is still sensitive, moans and arches for Johnny like it’s their first time all over again. It’s a beautiful thing, and these are moments Johnny cherishes. Taeyong is his strength, his light, his love.

 

“I love you I love you I love you,” Taeyong babbles as Johnny fucks into him deep and slow just the way they both like. Their hands are intertwined on either side of Taeyong’s head, and he squeezes, right as Johnny presses right into his prostate.

 

Johnny hums against Taeyong’s throat, taking deep, indulgent breaths. Taeyong’s been using this one body wash that drives Johnny a little crazy.

 

They fit together so well, he thinks, as Taeyong’s loud, unabashed moans get higher and higher. They both wanted to be loved desperately, and return that same love, but got something better, something beyond what either of them could have expected. Taeyong says Johnny saved him, but Johnny knows the truth.

 

They saved each other.