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room for one more troubled soul

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 It’s not his smartest move, not by a long shot.

But the lighting is dim and the bodies move as one mass on the dance floor and Chan is just a little bit drunk, so naturally he does it anyway.

The girl—it’s a girl this time, but he’s not picky—is dressed up, wearing a slinky black dress and tons of eye makeup. She’s pretty, but Chan isn’t thinking about that when he closes his eyes and kisses her.

Really, this all started because he made friends with Kang Seungsik on the first day of high school. They’d stuck together since then, so now it’s their junior year of college and they’re out celebrating Seungsik’s birthday.

They’ve collected a little group of friends along the way, just a few of them who have preset biweekly meals but spend their time together outside of it too, and live in the same dorm building, and go on summer trips to places like Jeju together. Unfortunately for Chan, Jung Subin is in this group.

Subin looks good tonight, extremely good. It’s almost enough to make Chan forget that he’s still just a freshman, barely legal. He’s got ripped black jeans on, skin tight and making his legs look miles long. His sweater dips dangerously low, revealing sharp collarbones and smooth skin.

Chan wants so much, it almost hurts to tell himself that he can’t. He fucking can’t bring himself to do it, won’t even let himself take a step in Subin’s direction, because once he does he won’t stop.

And he doesn’t think he can handle the rejection, not tonight, maybe not ever.

Subin is beautiful, but he’s also sweet, kind, helpful, a ray of sunshine with a smile that can light up a room. Meanwhile Chan is a wreck at the best of times, and he won’t make things complicated.

That’s what fuels him to kiss the girl harder, press her against the wall and run his fingers through her silky hair. She breathes against his mouth, her hands slipping lower down his body, and Chan loses himself in the feeling, his escape from reality.

 ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ

Subin wants to say he’s okay. He really, really does.

But watching Chan (he’s hyung to Subin, but none of them really care that much when they’re too tipsy to give a fuck) make out with a pretty little clubgoer in a seedy corner is pissing him off, more than he’d like to admit.

He makes it clear though, in the way he slams his glass down on the table top and glares at the tips in his skinny jeans. In the end, Subin wears his heart on his sleeve, even if he does metaphorically paint it different colors so people get too distracted to look hard enough and figure him out.

“Ooh,” Sejun says listlessly, swinging his legs on the bar stool next to Subin. “Angsty.”

“Whatever,” Subin mutters, angry at the world, at Chan, at himself. “Aren’t you usually making out with Byungchan-hyung by now? Where is he?”

That one’s kind of a low blow and honestly, Subin knows it, would never have brought it up had he been stone-cold sober.

Sejun flinches, but he hides it well, like he always has. “Probably dancing,” he says coolly, acting like he doesn’t care either way.

Subin knows better, though. By the end of the night, the two of them will be stumbling into Sejun’s apartment, not quite drunk enough to excuse falling into bed together but doing it anyway.

It’s a weird thing they’ve got going on, and it’s not exactly a relationship nor is it even healthy, but it works for them. At least they have a thing, Subin thinks dryly.

“So, come on. Let it out, throw it at me,” Sejun speaks again, changing the subject with the smooth fluidity he’s practiced and perfected when it comes to Byungchan. “You’re angsting because Chan-hyung is ignoring you again?”

Subin wants to argue his choice of words, but he decides to fuck it all. It’s not like it isn’t true. “I’m not angsting. He can do whatever he wants. I don’t care.”

That’s a dirty lie and both of them know it. Hell, even Seungsik, plastered out of his mind from everybody’s birthday drinks, would be able to tell.

“Mm,” Sejun just replies neutrally. “So can you. You’re perfectly eligible to find someone of your own to bring home.”

“Hanse’ll beat me to it,” Subin snorts. His roommate is some kind of god at hook ups, but they never last more than one or two nights and he never wants them to. Sometimes Subin thinks Hanse has a commitment issue.

Then again, don’t they all have issues?

Sejun shrugs. “Then go home with someone, I don’t know. Just stop being so… sad.” Alright, maybe Sejun is a little more drunk than Subin had originally thought.

“Not that easy, hyung,” Subin sighs ruefully, wholeheartedly wishing it were that easy.

Sejun takes a while to reply, because he chooses that moment to down the rest of his drink. He doesn’t ask for another one afterwards. They’ve been friends long enough that Subin can tell when Sejun is drinking to pass out, to forget whatever thing he and Byungchan are fighting about; and when Sejun is drinking so he can blame the alcohol when he wakes up naked in bed next to Byungchan.

“You know, Binnie,” Sejun chimes in thoughtfully after a couple of seconds. “Sometimes I catch Chan-hyung watching you when he thinks no one is looking. Those times, it crosses my mind that he really looks just a little in love with you. But then he does this shit and I don’t know anymore.”

“Don’t say it, please,” Subin closes his eyes, willing everything Sejun just said out of his head. It wouldn’t do to give himself hope. “I’d rather live on in my misery.”

Surprisingly, Sejun only sighs at that. “Kinda figured. Well, if you ever need someone to talk to… I’m more helpful without alcohol in my system.”

Subin watches Sejun’s eyes flit across the club, easily seeking out the tall lanky giraffe boy among the dancing crowd. He appreciates Sejun’s offer, and he knows very well that in any other aspect of his life, the older boy is one of the first people Subin would turn to for advice.

But love? Subin has a feeling Sejun’s equally as clueless.

✿♥‿♥✿

It’s a gloomy Wednesday afternoon when Chan and Subin first meet. The rain had been battering the sidewalk for hours and shown no sign of letting up.

At this rate, Subin is prepared to spend the rest of the day cooped up in this tiny hipster cafe right on the outskirts of campus. Normally he would have steered clear, but everywhere else is packed to the brim and he really has to eat. He just hadn’t anticipated being stuck here for hours.

The cafe itself is nice, but ridiculously overpriced, and that’s the thing which makes part of Subin think he should just brave the rain without an umbrella and leave before the servers ask him to order something else. He’s already on his last dredges of coffee and there’s quite a lot of people in the cafe too. They’ll be needing tables soon.

Subin is contemplating whether or not he can afford the cheapest option on the menu and then make it last for three hours, but his thought process is interrupted when someone sets a plate down in front of him.

He momentarily panics, because that panini looks expensive and he definitely doesn’t have the cash to pay for it, nor had he even ordered it to begin with. His questions are all answered, though, when a silver-haired boy with pretty eyes slides into the chair opposite Subin.

“Hi, do you mind if I sit here?” The boy has a strange curl to his mouth, but it makes his smile all the more curiously attractive. “Everywhere else is full.”

Subin would have agreed, of course (and some of it would have had to do with how good-looking the boy is) but the stranger continues before he can answer. “If they come kick you out, I’ll tell them we’re friends and you’re waiting for me. For like, the next couple of hours.”

He has an infectious grin, tinged with a pinch of mischief. Subin finds himself smiling, just a little. “It’s a deal.”

“Nice,” the boy beams. “So what’s your name, freeloader?”

“Hey, don’t be mean, I was here first,” Subin protests, but he’s not really putting much effort into it. He’s just very intrigued. “I’m Subin.”

“Nice to meet you, Subin.” This time, he swears there’s a fucking sparkle in the boy’s eyes or something. “I’m Chan. Let’s be friends.”

ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ

It’s with a heavy heart that Chan drags his ass out of bed to go to the biweekly lunch. Not only does his head hurt like the ninth circle of hell, but he also knows that none of his so-called friends will go easy on him for it during lunch.

He’d snuck out and gone back to his own dorm at about four in the morning, promptly collapsing in bed till noon. Even that isn’t enough for his hangover, but he’s just goddamn lucky they went out on a Saturday night and he doesn’t have classes on Sunday.

Chan makes himself presentable and heads off to the sushi restaurant Seungwoo insists on at least once a month. It’s ‘make your own sushi’, which Chan privately thinks can lead to terrible disasters (there’s cheese and wasabi on the menu, for gods’ sake), but Seungwoo loves it so he doesn’t complain.

When he gets there, only Seungwoo and Seungsik are sitting at the table. Seungwoo has his head in his hands, obviously nursing a similar hangover to Chan’s. On the other hand, Seungsik sits there looking fresh and happy, which is so unfair considering the amount he drank yesterday, but Chan’s always known that Seungsik’s that one lucky shit who doesn’t get hangovers.

“Don’t talk until everybody’s here, please,” Seungwoo groans, voice muffled by his hands. Seungsik snickers, and Chan gladly complies.

One by one, the others show up. Byungchan, unsurprisingly, walks in with Sejun. Both of them look tired, which isn’t a bad thing either because they aren’t at each other’s throats (in the bad way). Nobody is dumb enough to mention the purpling hickeys dotting Byungchan’s neck.

Hanse comes in grinning as he always does after a night out, like he thinks this pain is definitely worth it. And last but not least, Subin trails after him, cap pulled low over his face.

Chan can’t look at him. It’s always like this, after he fucks around with someone else. He feels guilty, even though he arguably doesn’t owe Subin anything (but he wants to and that’s kind of scary too).

“Status check!” Seungsik announces cheerily, as always. “Seungwoo-hyung’s currently regretting all his life choices.” As if to agree, Seungwoo knocks his forehead against the tabletop once. “Hanse?”

“Worth it,” is all Hanse can offer.

“Mauled by an animal,” Byungchan mutters, and it’s a good thing Sejun is too exhausted to contend that.

“Was meh,” Sejun shrugs. Byungchan looks momentarily offended, and he opens his mouth presumably to argue, but Subin quickly cuts in before he can. The moment glosses over for now, thank the gods.

“I want to go back to sleep,” Subin rubs at his eyes like a tired kid. Chan tries not to find it cute.

“Well, I’m fine,” Seungsik grins brightly. “Good birthday. Channie?”

The answer slips from his mouth before he can even think about it. “It was fun. Got a new number in my phone when I woke up.” Which is the truth. He had discovered the new contact, saved under ‘sungyeon’, in his phone while he was trudging home in the wee hours of the morning. Chan had contemplated it for a while, before his eyes caught on the contact above ( subinnie <3) and he’d deleted it.

Immediately after, he thinks that’s not the answer he would’ve given had he been free of this awful headache. He should’ve just said his head hurts or something. But only Seungsik frowns a little, everyone else moves on and all is fine.

Until, of course, Hanse orders wasabi in his sushi by accident and everything goes to shit.

Then again, that’s a pretty normal day for their weird friend group.

ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ

“Are you ever going to stop self-destructing?” Seungsik says in his patented ‘mom tone’ when they’re walking back later.

Seungsik and Seungwoo share an apartment, since they’d both gotten tired of dorm life. Whenever he needs real food that he won’t have to pay his whole arm for, Chan visits them and gets suitably fed.

Chan himself doesn’t have a roommate, but he does play host to either Byungchan or Sejun from time to time after they’ve had one of their things and apparently can’t even stand to be in their neighboring rooms, the proximity too close and the air too charged with tension.

Now it’s four of them, Chan and Byungchan heading back to Seungsik and Seungwoo’s apartment, more for lack of something to do rather than for sustenance. Sejun is off shopping with Hanse, while Subin has quietly slunk back to his room to catch up on sleep.

“I’m not self-destructing,” Chan answers dismissively. “See? I’m perfectly fine.” He holds out both arms as if to prove to his best friend that he’s wholly intact, although he knows that’s not what Seungsik is talking about.

“You’re trampling all over your own emotions,” Byungchan adds, backing Seungsik up, though he winces with the effort of going against his headache. Seungwoo has completely blanked out. He looks a bit like a zombie as he drags his feet along the pavement.

“You can’t talk, you’re self-destructing too,” Seungsik scolds Byungchan, who just sighs and shrugs. “It’s just that you’ve been doing it less intensely.”

“That’s so not true,” Chan has to complain at this point. “He came over to my room the other day yelling about how Sejun kicked him out the morning after. It was because he had class .”

“He didn’t tell me that when I went over the night before,” Byungchan counters, but his tone isn’t meant to argue. “And I like cuddling in the morning. He knows this.”

It seems superficial right now, but Chan and everyone else knows that it runs much deeper, goes along the lines of one of them feeling too much and the other not allowing himself to feel at all.

“Sejun’s emotionally constipated. And you’re emotionally overflowing, Byung,” Seungsik pulls his key out of his pocket when they reach the apartment door, handing it over to Seungwoo. “But you know, in some weird messed-up way, you’re like perfect for each other.”

“Yeah.” Byungchan says, suddenly quiet. “We are.”

“Now, Chan,” Seungsik speaks as he patiently goes to Seungwoo’s side and helps him insert the key into their door, which the latter had been struggling with. Chan idly wonders if he’s still drunk.

“What are you even doing, going around sleeping with random people?” Seungsik demands, his tone doing a sudden 180 as he pushes the door open. “I mean, that’s fine and all, you do you, but you’re literally in love with Su-”

Shut it,” Chan hisses, because he’s not ready to hear those words come out of anyone’s mouth, not even his own.

“It’s not like we don’t know, even if we haven’t said anything,” Byungchan rolls his eyes, but he offers Chan a gentle smile to let him know he isn’t being mean. “It’s about time you faced it, anyway.”

“What’s the point? He doesn’t like me,” Chan pouts, feeling a little more childish than his age normally allows. “He could do so much better than me.”

There’s a pause in the conversation. Seungwoo flops onto the couch and starts snoring.

“Seriously?” Byungchan sounds like he’s in awe. “That was your problem? This whole time?”

Chan tries to play it off, seem nonchalant. “Well, yeah. I mean, he can.”

“I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think that way, Chan,” Seungsik says firmly. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“It wouldn’t matter either way. I haven’t done this whole relationship thing in years,” Chan makes a face, recalling how his last serious relationship had ended.

Seungsik must remember that dark time in high school, too, because he laughs out loud. “Not since Juhyun? Really? That was in freshman year of high school.”

Chan just shrugs. “Exactly. I’m not good at the whole commitment thing.”

At least, that’s what he’d told himself, until he’d spent several nights lying awake in his bed thinking that he could change for Subin.

“You and Sejun-hyung should get together sometime,” Byungchan mutters, clearly trying to sound neutral but allowing a bit of bitterness to seep into his tone anyway.

“Sejun’s issues aren’t commitment, you know that as well as I do,” Seungsik busies himself in the kitchen, making a pot of tea, presumably for the still passed out Seungwoo. “It’s more like he’s scared of feeling things.”

“Like real emotions,” Byungchan grumbles, but he glances up and shakes his head. “Sorry, this isn’t about me. We should sort out Chan-hyung.”

“I resent your choice of words,” Chan frowns, accepting the cup of tea Seungsik proffers to him. It’s minty and provides a welcome reprieve from the headache pounding at the back of his skull. “You can’t fix this, anyway. I just want to sleep around and forget. It works.”

“Until you see Subin the next day and it doesn’t work,” Seungsik reminds him none-too-gently. He’s always been a bit more direct with Chan, because they’ve been friends for so long and he just wants the best for all of them.

He really is the mom friend, just a supercharged version.

“No, it’ll work eventually. Just watch,” Chan promises, confidence unwavering even though recent evidence has tilted the circumstances more in Seungsik’s favor. “One day I’ll wake up and Subin’ll be like my little brother. Nothing more.”

Byungchan snorts and doesn’t bother to hide it. “Subin’s like my little brother right now, and I can assure you I’ve never thought of fucking him. It’s too late for you, though, isn’t it?”

Chan flushes a deep red and refuses to answer that. Instead he takes his cup of tea and goes to sit on the floor next to the couch, where Seungwoo is feebly stirring.

”Come on, I thought we came over to watch cheesy rom-coms.”

”Our lives are cheesy rom-coms,” Byungchan reminds him. Seungsik only smiles, doesn’t push it, and goes to put When Harry Met Sally on.

✿♥‿♥✿

Back in freshman year of college, Subin had been studious and hardworking. He hadn’t gotten through high school with flying colors for nothing, after all.

That means that on a fine Sunday evening, when he should’ve been back in his dorm wrapped up in a blanket watching reruns of dramas, he’s in the library. He has a pile of books set off the side, his laptop open in front of him and his glasses perched on the bridge of his nose.

He’s also been there for five hours and is ready to self-combust.

“Do a double major, Subin,” he mocks himself for his own idiocy, remembering the words of his teachers back in high school. They’d always liked to push him. “Pursue your interest in acting while also getting a stable degree! In accountancy! Gee, that sounds fun. Fucking accountancy.”

He’s well-aware that at this point, he’s rambling and probably sounds more than a little crazy, but he doesn’t want to care. If it means people will think he’s weird and leave him alone, well, he’ll take it.

Except it doesn’t seem like people are intent on leaving Subin alone, because suddenly someone is tapping his shoulder.

Subin turns around, the annoyance melting off his face when he recognizes Chan. “Oh, hey.”

“Hey,” Chan gives him a sheepish grin. He’s holding a lone book in one hand and his laptop in another. “We’ve got to stop meeting like this. Can I sit with you? Everyone seems to be in the library cramming for some sort of test tomorrow.”

Subin doesn’t even have to think it over, just moves his pile of books so Chan can sit down. The last time they’d spent two and a half hours at the cafe, chatting about everything, and Chan made good company.

As Chan sets his stuff down, Subin catches a glimpse of the title on his book. “You’re a philosophy major?”

Chan chuckles, running a hand through his silver hair. It somehow falls perfectly across his forehead. Subin is jealous. “Double major, actually. Philosophy and dance.”

Well, that hadn’t ever come up in their conversation before. “Really? Me too. Acting and accountancy.”

Chan wrinkles his nose. “I must say, I’ve never thought those two would go together.”

“Believe me, I’ll regret this decision for the rest of my life,” Subin says seriously, hitting save on his Word document. “But who are you to talk, Mr Philosophical Dancer?”

“Fair point,” Chan holds his hands up, both palms facing forward, in mock surrender. “To be honest, I just wanted to dance. My parents told me if I wanted them to fund my college education, I had to double and choose a somewhat useful second major.”

“So you picked philosophy?” Subin can’t help the incredulous edge to his voice. No offense to the great philosophers of the world, but their subject matter isn’t exactly pragmatic in today’s world.

“Told them I could always become a lecturer if all else failed,” Chan shrugs. “I think it’d be pretty cool too. Can you imagine me teaching?”

Subin has a sudden mental image of Chan, dressed in his usual tight jeans and hoodie, walking into a lecture hall to address 300 students. Yeah, he can actually imagine Chan teaching. He’d be the hot professor, Subin’s brain whispers. You know what you’d do to get an A in his class.

Subin shifts in his seat, suddenly uncomfortably warm. He hates his brain, stupid hormones and all. Luckily Chan doesn’t realize, because he keeps talking, “I do actually want to teach, though. Not philosophy, but dance.”

Chan as a dance teacher? He can see that happening. In fact, Subin should’ve really guessed that Chan is a dancer, from the lithe way he moves to the muscles lining his thighs. Not that Subin had noticed.

“I think you’d make a great dance teacher,” he says instead, and means it.

Chan laughs at that. “You haven’t even seen me dance yet.”

Subin lifts his shoulders and drops them, trying to play it cool. “You just have that look. Of a good dancer. You know?”

Maybe those five hours straight in the library had had a more profound effect on Subin that he’d realised.

“Well, you should come watch me sometime and then tell me what you think,” Chan offers. He looks excited, passionate about his craft, and Subin thinks that’s kind of cute.

“Sure, Chan,” he agrees, because he does really want to see Chan dance.

“You can call me hyung, you know,” the older boy points out casually, as he opens his laptop and starts it up.

“Alright then, Chan-hyung.” The formality rolls off Subin’s tongue. It sounds right.

Chan grins, flashing his dimples at Subin.

Maybe that’s when he first started being pulled towards the edge of the cliff.

ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ

There’s someone knocking incessantly on his door. Subin pulls his headphones off and frowns, wondering who it could be. Hanse isn’t due back till after his three-hour music theory lecture ends, and even then he has his own key.

Subin isn’t expecting anyone, himself, and just hopes it isn’t one of his roommate’s past hookups coming to seek revenge because Hanse never called her back (it may or may not have happened before).

To his utmost surprise, the face that greets is him 1) definitely male and 2) very familiar.

“Hey hyung, what are you doing here?” Subin steps aside to let Seungwoo in. The last time he’d seen the elder, Seungwoo had been almost asleep at the sushi restaurant table. He looks much better now.

“I brought some of Sik’s leftovers,” Seungwoo offers the container to Subin after he closes the door. “You and Hanse can share.”

“Oh thanks hyung!” Subin takes it and goes to put in their kitchenette. That’s their dinner solved for when Hanse returns.

Seungwoo has made himself comfortable on Subin’s bed. Subin is actually pretty close to all the members of their friend group, the oldest included, so he just goes and sits next to Seungwoo.

Subin doesn’t speak up first, because he knows that Seungwoo is like a light switch. He’s either on or off, and there’s no in between. When he’s off, he speaks sparingly and with long pauses in between. Right now he seems to be quiet, deep in thought, but he’ll talk when he’s ready to.

Subin had once asked Seungsik about it, what it’s like living with silence half the time and loud screaming of Sistar lyrics the other half. Seungsik has just laughed and told him he’s gotten used to it.

“So,” Seungwoo finally clears his throat after a few minutes. Subin, who’d been dozing off, jolts awake. “A little birdie told me that there’s something going on between you and Chan.”

Subin scowls immediately. In his mind’s eye he can still see Chan dancing with his hookup of the night, remembers the hickey blooming on the side of his neck when he’d shown up for lunch the day after. This is not Subin’s favorite topic to talk about.

“Was that little birdie named Sejun?” Subin asks, because if it is he’s going to skin the blonde alive.

“Actually, it was Sik,” Seungwoo answers calmly, peering curiously at Subin. “But I wasn’t surprised. You’re not exactly subtle.”

“There’s nothing going on between us,” Subin sighs, wanting nothing more than to burrow under his blankets and hide forever. “Nothing I wish was going on anyway.”

“So you do like him,” Seungwoo hums. “Alright. Do you know if he likes you?”

“Clearly he doesn’t, hyung,” Subin mutters in frustration. “He’d never look at me when there are so many other people.”

“Mm.” The older boy doesn’t continue after that, which gives Subin plenty of time to stew in his own thoughts and wonder how he’d gotten to this stage in life.

“Okay, listen.” It feels like hours later when Seungwoo finally speaks again, but in reality it’s probably only been a couple of minutes. “You didn’t hear it from me, but I’m pretty sure Chan’s in love with you. Actually, I’m extremely sure.”

Subin barely holds himself back from scoffing derisively at that. “Uh, hyung, if you hadn’t noticed he spends all his free time in other people’s beds. I don’t think that’s one of the sure signs that he’s in love with anybody at all, much less me.”

Seungwoo frowns, nibbling at his lower lip. “I see your point, and I do think that Chan is being a total moron about all this. But you know… he’s never dealt with relationships very well. He has some kind of issue with commitment, but his emotions run deep. Sometimes I think he’s just looking for the right person.”

He gives Subin a meaningful look, full of significance, and the younger is suddenly struck by how dad Seungwoo sounds.

“That sounds like a lot of blind hope,” Subin says carefully, and surprisingly Seungwoo laughs at that.

“It does,” he agrees. “I get it if you’re trying to remain cynical. Self-preservation, and all that. But give it some thought, okay?”

With a paternal ruffle of Subin’s hair and a wave, Seungwoo departs the room.

Though he tries not to think about it, Subin has never been very good at controlling himself. Hey, that’s why he fell in love with Chan in the first place.

Subin tells Hanse when he gets back from class and they’re eating reheated leftovers. He hadn’t even seemed surprised when Subin told him what Seungwoo had said, just snorted and went, “Saw that one coming. I always thought the two of you looked like you were doing some kind of wild tribal dance around your feelings.”

“Not helping,” Subin pouts. “What if Seungwoo-hyung’s right, though?”

Hanse shrugs. “Then it wouldn’t surprise me.”

“But what do I do now?” Subin nibbles on his lower lip, confused. “Do I just live with the knowledge?”

“If I were you, I’d test it,” Hanse advises, putting the lid back on the box of unfinished food.

“How the hell do I test it?” Subin furrows his brow.  His life would be so much less complicated if he just hadn’t fallen for Heo Chan.

“Pretend to be drunk and flirt with him. See if he’s really into you, if he’ll give up his hookup of the night for you,” his roommate suggests, sounding like he actually knows what he’s doing. Subin has doubts.

He can’t keep those doubts from creeping into his voice. “And—and what if he doesn’t?” He sounds small even to himself.

Hanse’s expression softens, but he shakes his head. “Nah. If I know that idiot, he won’t.”

✿♥‿♥✿

Chan dances like he was born for it, movements packed with power yet graceful. He commands the whole floor, his stage presence overwhelming and his performance a work of art.

Subin watches with his mouth wide open in awe, quite incapable of pulling his jaw up from the floor. He thinks he's a little breathless.

The music pumps through the speakers of the dance studio that Subin hadn’t even known was on the university’s campus. It’s loud enough to make the floorboards vibrate, but that just adds to the general ambiance, in Subin’s opinion.

Chan finishes up with a flourish, sweeping into a quick bow for the audience (which is actually just Subin, sitting in a corner with his beanie pulled low over his hair).

“So, what do you think?” Chan grins at him, and it must be infectious or something because Subin feels himself start to smile as well.

“Why don’t you just go be an idol already?” Subin suggests, and Chan laughs out loud.

“No thanks, then I’d have to train for probably 12 years and dance songs that other people pick for me.” The older boy picks up his water bottle from where it’s sitting next to Subin, taking a long drink.

His Adam’s Apple bobs when he swallows, and Subin has to look away.

“But you’re really good, seriously,” Subin insists. “Like, YG level good.”

“Now you’re just flattering me,” Chan says, amused. “But I’m a sucker for compliments, so for that I’ll treat you to bubble tea. Come on, there’s a place nearby.”

(Subin comes to watch Chan dance on a weekly basis after that. He tries to come on days when there aren’t any other students in the dance studio, so no one can call him out on the dreamy look he has on his face when he watches the performances.)

ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ

Okay, so Subin should’ve paid more attention to Hanse’s advice, which clearly stated “pretend to get drunk”.

He had needed the liquid courage at first, which suddenly turned into several drinks and a couple of shots, so now Subin is more than a little tipsy. He’s finding everything funny and is in the midst of doubling over with laughter at the sight of Seungsik trying to wrangle a very drunk Seungwoo and an equally drunk Hanse back to the their booth and away from the dance floor where they’d collectively caused 4 casualties (drinks dropped on the ground and glasses broken) and fallen over about 7 times, when he remembers his plan.

Subin gets up from the bar like a man on a mission and scans the club. He finds Chan not two seconds later, leaning against the wall and flirting with a brown-haired boy just slightly shorter than him. The sight makes something bubble in the pit of Subin’s stomach, and he marches over without a second thought.

“Channie hyung!” He sings when he’s within earshot, and delights in the way Chan turns and stares at him, eyes wide like a deer caught in the headlights.

“Channnnnie hyung,” Subin drawls, draping himself over Chan. He miscalculates a little and almost tips forward onto his face, but Chan catches him by the waist at the last moment. Subin giggles a little; Chan’s hands feel really nice.

“How much did you drink?” Chan’s voice is deep in his ear, so close that Subin wants to swoon. Except he’s already resting all his body weight on Chan and that’s probably not a good idea right now.

“A little,” Subin giggles against Chan’s shoulder. “A lot. A lottle.” He finds that word funny, too, and starts laughing again.

However, through his laughter, he hears Chan say, “Sorry, my friend is really drunk, I should probably take him back.”

The words register in Subin’s mind and he lifts his head from Chan’s shoulder, frowning. He eyes the boy Chan’s talking to and sighs solemnly. “No, it’s okay hyung. Go get laid tonight, I’ll find my way back. Hanse or someone will help me. Mm hmm. I might go get laid myself.”

He doesn’t know why he says that. Subin doesn’t want Chan to go home with this boy, and he definitely doesn’t want to go home with anyone himself. Perhaps he really should re-evaluate his level of tipsy.

He doesn’t like this brown-haired boy who’s scowling at him in distaste, probably for ruining his night.

But he does like the way Chan’s hand tightens its grip on his waist.

“Shut up, Bin, I’ve got you,” Chan tells him, voice firm. “See you around,” he adds to his almost-hookup.

Subin doesn’t pay attention to the boy who scribbles his number on a piece of paper and slips it into Chan’s pocket. He only nuzzles his face into Chan’s shoulder and focuses on how nice his hyung’s arms feel around him as they pull him towards their booth.

“Hey, Bin’s kinda out of it, I’m gonna bring him back,” Chan informs whoever’s at the booth. Subin looks up long enough to catch a glimpse of Sejun, who is (predictably) in Byungchan’s lap.

“Kay,” Sejun answers, sounding absentminded. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“Shit advice, Jun,” Chan snorts, then he’s leading Subin out of the club, maneuvering as carefully as he can through the crowds with the freshman clinging onto him like a particularly cuddly koala.

Once they’re outside, the fresh air makes Subin sigh happily. “The air smells nice.”

“It does,” Chan agrees, tone placating.

“Hey hyungieeee,” Subin stops walking, forcing Chan to halt his steps as well. When the older turns towards him, eyebrows raised in question, Subin reaches a hand into the pocket of Chan’s jeans and fishes for the slip of paper.

He finds it eventually and holds it up in front of Chan’s (strangely red) face. “I didn’t like him,” Subin proclaims boldly, then crumples the paper up and tosses it into the nearest trash can. Well, tries to, anyway. He misses and Chan has to stoop down to pick it up and throw it away properly.

“You didn’t?” He asks when he’s done, allowing Subin to wind his arms around his neck.

“Nah. He’s cute, but hyung,” Subin leans in and squints, “you’re prettier.”

“I’m fairly sure you’re the prettiest, Bin,” Chan smiles wryly. “Now, do you want to get home within this century or…?”

“Don’t wanna go home,” Subin pouts, “Stupid Hanse’s gonna be there. Hyung, he’s soooo annoying, he ate my noodles the other day. Those were mine! He’s a stupid pickle head.”

“Hanse is pretty annoying,” Chan nods, sounding like he’s trying not to laugh. “Where do you want to go then?”

A bright idea hits Subin in the head. He grins and pats Chan’s cheek. “Hyung, we can go to your place!”

Chan coughs, his grip on Subin’s waist loosening a little. “Uh, Bin…”

“Come on hyung, which way is it?” Subin looks left, right, up and then down, as if a green arrow will suddenly appear to tell him which way to go.

“You sure you want to come over?” Chan asks carefully. Subin nods with enthusiasm, and then starts dragging Chan along down the sidewalk until he sighs and guides Subin in the actual direction they’re supposed to go (it was right. Go figure).

ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ

Chan is realizing that this is a mistake. But he’s finding out a lot of things tonight, namely:

One, Subin is a clingy drunk.

Two, Chan simply cannot deny Subin anything.

And three, he really likes the way Subin calls him hyung when he’s tipsy, his voice pitched a little higher and dragging the syllable out for longer than is strictly necessary.

He watches, helpless to his own cruel emotions, as Subin lays down on his bed with his limbs akimbo. He’s laughing again, apparently finding this entire thing hilarious, which Chan mostly certainly does not.

Of course he couldn’t have just left Subin there with the way he was, not when the younger boy had voluntarily come over to him. Even giving up his hookup was a thing of minimal importance in comparison to watching Subin’s cheerful smile as he amuses himself.

The thing that’s making Chan mildly uncomfortable is the fact that he has thought about Subin and his bed before, all in one (not necessarily innocent) package and the mere thought makes him flush all the way up to the tips of his ears. This is definitely not the same context, but for some reason he can’t look Subin in the eye.

“Hyung I’m tired,” Subin whines finally, flopping back onto the bed and giving Chan the pouty lips (he hates those. No force on this earth is powerful enough to resist them). “Can we sleep now?”

“Yeah, of course,” Chan busies himself by going over to rummage in his drawers. “Um, here, you can borrow these.”

He hands Subin a sweatshirt and sweatpants, but the younger boy just smiles sweetly and takes off his shirt and jeans right there and then, leaving him in his boxers as he pulls the sweatshirt on.

“I get hot,” he explains innocuously while Chan focuses his eyes on the ceiling, feeling his face burn while he simultaneously tries to cleanse his soul.

It gets harder when he makes to set up camp on the floor next to his bed, but Subin frowns and tugs on his arm. “Hyung, we can share. I wanna cuddle.”

Chan  knew this was a mistake.

He climbs into bed with Subin anyway, but it’s such a small space that he ends up pressed right against the younger, their noses almost touching. Subin smiles and curls his arm around Chan’s torso, getting comfortable.

“Night hyung!” He says cheerily, and then somehow manages to drift off within the next 20 seconds.

Chan isn’t so lucky. He spends the next 20 minutes alternating between trying to calm his erratically beating heart and admiring how cute Subin looks when he’s asleep.

✿♥‿♥✿

Through some weird twist of fate, Subin finds out that Chan is friends with Seungsik, who is friends with Seungwoo, who is friends with Byungchan, who is something with Sejun, who is friends with Hanse, who is Subin’s roommate.

It’s all one big gigantic connected web of friendship, and they fit together pretty well in Subin’s opinion. Soon they’re having group outings and weekly lunches, and Subin’s seeing a lot more of Chan than before.

This, of course, isn’t entirely too healthy for his poor heart, which starts beating faster when he sees Chan. He practically has a mini-meltdown when he sees Chan one day and he’s dyed his hair red and even has the nerve to wear it so well.

Yeah, Subin’s kind of screwed.

It is nice, though, having this little group of friends. Seungsik feeds him and Sejun makes fun of him and Seungwoo babies him, and it’s all so much like a second family that Subin oftentimes has the urge to just hug everyone.

Now, though, Subin's kind of wishing he can just pack up and move back to Daejeon.

The seven of them are squeezed into the living room of Seungwoo and Seungsik's apartment, celebrating the oldest's birthday. They had collectively decided not to go out that night after getting completely smashed the week before during Chan's birthday party.

Subin really should've insisted on going out or something, because now everybody's a little on the plastered side of drunk and they're all staring at him expectantly, waiting for him to give an answer.

Mental note: drunk Truth or Dare with his friends is the worst situation to ever get himself into.

"Come on, Binnie," Sejun whines, and he's definitely  not going to remember this tomorrow, not with the way he's letting Byungchan cuddle up to him and mouth at his neck. He's normally not one for that "affectionate bullshit" (Sejun's words) so this says a lot about how much he's had to drink. "There's someone, isn't there? Is he in your major? Does he go to the library all the time like you do? How many letters are there in his name? Does he have a name?"

"Slow down, babe," Byungchan mutters, wrapping his arms around Sejun from behind. The older boy just sighs and leans back against Byungchan's chest, and Subin wonders if this is one of those times where they'll wake up happy in each other's arms. He hopes so; he hasn't seen Sejun really content in a while. 

"There's nobody. No one. Zilch, nada, nacho," Subin insists when he feels someone poke his side, hard. Damn Hanse.

"I don't think nacho fits in the same category," Seungwoo notes, squinting his eyes at the ceiling like the answers will just show up in large print across the tiles.

"Definitely not," Chan speaks up, catching Subin's attention. He doesn't remember the older talking much before then. He'd even entertained the fleeting thought that Chan had fallen asleep.

"Nachos are the only thing I love," Subin declares, but the presence of Chan has suddenly made the gears in his head whir faster. You're lying, the whirring sounds seem to sing.

"Okay," Sejun suddenly chimes in again. "So how come your notebook is filled with doodles of a certain hyung—"

Subin shrieks and launches a pillow at Sejun to ensure his silence.

(When he's sober, Sejun pats Subin on the head and tells him he was being kind of obvious anyway, then swears on Byungchan's life that he won't tell anyone.)

ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ

Subin wakes up the next day feeling a distinct sense of failure with a side of satisfaction.

He hadn’t really carried out his plan in the end, but his drunk ass still somehow managed to get to Chan. That kinda counts for something, right?

“Morning.” He looks over to see Chan yawning as he stretches out on his bed. His shirt rides up a little and stays there, Subin’s not staring he swears.

“Morning hyung,” Subin greets. “This is new, huh?”

Chan’s eyes crinkle up when he laughs. “Yeah, but you wanted to and I thought it’d be okay.” He rolls over onto his side to look at Subin, “You remember that, right? You weren’t completely out of it?”

“No, you’re good,” Subin cracks a smile, “You let me crash at your place because I was annoyed at Hanse.”

“I believe you called him a stupid pickle head,” Chan teases.

“How drunk was I?” Subin wonders, making his hyung snort.

“You got really uninhibited, so I’m guessing pretty damn drunk. You even threw yourself all over me while I was trying to hook up with someone else,” Chan jokes, but Subin looks aghast.

“Sorry I got in the way,” he mumbles, playing with the edge of the blanket. “Didn’t mean to interrupt you.”

“No, I mean, it’s fine!” Chan hastily adds. “It’s totally okay, I wouldn’t have just left you there drunk anyway. I wanted to make sure you were safe after drinking that much.” He pauses for a moment, “Why were you drinking that much, by the way? I’ve never seen you like that before.”

“Well, maybe I just wanted to get drunk and get laid,” Subin mutters, even though that’s not true at all. Maybe he’s just a little sick of all this.

Chan stiffens up. “Sorry I stopped you, then,” he answers, his voice distant but deceptively calm.

“Why did you? You could’ve just left with the other guy,” Subin peeks at the older, trying to search his face for anything.

Chan just shrugs, “I don’t know. You came up to me so I just thought… never mind.”

“What?” Subin presses because when is he ever going to get another chance like this?

“I just didn’t want you to go home with someone else,” Chan states, shifting on his side of the bed.

Subin pauses, looks Chan straight in the eye. “You realize how hypocritical that is, right?”

The older boy laughs, surprisingly, but it’s rueful. “Yeah, I know. I’m an asshole, aren’t I? I’m not the best at this…” he trails off.

“This?” Subin prompts, and curiosity may have killed the cat but Subin might actually die if they don’t clear this up now.

“This whole feelings thing,” Chan finishes, but his voice is barely audible.

Subin feels like bursting into tears and throwing a party all at once. “Feelings thing?

“Might as well get it all out now,” Chan mumbled, half to himself. He picks his head up and looks at Subin. “Do you know that I’m actually completely and irrevocably in love with you, but I’m such an emotional wreck that I never knew how to tell you so I slept with other people to forget about it?”

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Subin’s eyes are blown wide. “Of course I didn’t know that. Hyung!”

“I figured it’s time you did, then,” Chan smiles, but it doesn’t quite meet his eyes. “Just so you know, there’s absolutely no hard feelings if you don’t feel the same way. I really hope we can still be friends and I won’t have ruined anything or made it awkward…”

“Hyung, what the hell,” Subin shakes his head when Chan pauses to take a breath. “How did you not know that I’ve been in love with you for months now? I thought you didn’t like me back.”

“I thought you didn’t like me back!” Chan says, bewildered. “So are you saying… oh my god.”

“It sucked seeing you look at everybody else but me,” Subin confesses, feeling a weight lift off his shoulders. “So I just thought we’d never be like that—“

“Bin,” Chan interrupts earnestly. “I’d be anything you want with you, and to be honest I’m kind of guilty already, sometimes I may have accidentally said your name instead of the actual person I was with—“

“Hyung, you’re so gross, god,” Subin splutters, laughing.

“But you love me!” Chan grins wildly, throwing his arms around Subin and pulling him back down onto the bed. “You love me, I can’t believe it, why would you love a wreck of a human being like me?”

“Shut up, you’re not a wreck, you’re literally perfect,” Subin snorts, allowing himself to be tugged into Chan’s arms. “Aside from the fact that you kept sleeping with people.”

Chan pouts, “You’re never going to let that go for the entirety of our relationship.”

“Ooh, are we in a relationship now, Chan-hyung?” Subin teases, fingers poking at Chan’s earlobe when it turns bright red.

“I’m afraid you’re stuck with me,” Chan sing-songs, hugging Subin tighter.

“I mean, after we finally sorted out that mess, I don’t think I’m going anywhere just yet,” Subin smiles and buries his face into the crook of Chan’s neck. He feels the older sigh.

“That’s good,” Chan says happily. “I don’t wanna let you go anyway.”

ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ

He has to, eventually, because Hanse and Seungsik come banging on his door screaming that Subin is missing, only to start screaming more when they see Subin curled up in Chan’s bed.