On on this rare evening on which they’re actually going out to a party, Wonwoo shares a request.
“Do you think we can keep it to less than an hour?” he asks, as he zips up his coat. “I just don’t think I want to be out that late. I mean, I know we never go to these things, but—”
“Hey,” Mingyu cuts him off, placating, “it’s fine.”
They pause by the mirror next to the front door, and Wonwoo checks his reflection as Mingyu pulls on a beanie. “I don’t really want to be out that long either,” Mingyu confesses.
“Is that my hat?” Wonwoo asks.
“Yep.” Mingyu adjusts the beanie. “Just for the walk over. What, does it not look good?”
“No, it looks good.” Wonwoo frowns at his own reflection. “My hair is a mess, maybe I should wear one too.”
“No!” At Wonwoo’s surprised reaction, Mingyu reels himself in. “No,” he repeats, more calmly. Wonwoo’s been growing his hair out recently, and it’s past his ears now, curling up a bit at the ends, and Mingyu really likes how it looks. “I like it at this length. It looks good.”
“Oh.” Wonwoo pauses, his cheeks tinging slightly. “Thanks.”
“So no hat,” Mingyu checks.
“No hat,” Wonwoo confirms. “Okay, you ready?”
“Ready. Just one hour?”
“One hour,” Wonwoo says. “In and out.”
“I’m going to use that as an excuse to get out of weird conversations,” Mingyu discloses. “Just so you know.”
“Same,” Wonwoo agrees.
They high five. “Let’s go,” Mingyu says.
“He didn’t think I could do the pushups with him on my back,” Jackson explains gleefully, “but I could do them, and I did do like fifty of them, and then we made out, so the joke is on him!”
“Oh boy,” Mingyu says, checking the time on his phone, “that’s quite a story. Well, you know, I gotta get going, Wonwoo doesn’t want to be out too late, so I should probably—”
“GYU!” cries a wonderfully familiar voice, and Mingyu feels the relief of his impending salvation.
“Look,” Mingyu happily announces, “it’s Minghao!”
“Oh, hey Minghao!” Jackson greets, unbothered.
Minghao gulps in a deep breath, looking at Mingyu with panic. Mingyu’s smile drops. “Ineedyoutodomeafavor,” Minghao rushes out.
Mingyu pulls his friend aside, fearing the worst. “Did something happen? Did your car break down?” He surveys the area around them before lowering his voice. “Do you have an STD?”
“Whoa, what?” Minghao says. “Why did your mind jump to that? What makes you think I would—you know what, I don’t have time for this,” he dismisses. “Look. We’re playing a game, it’s gonna start in like two minutes, and we need more people.”
Oh. “Okay,” Mingyu says, relaxing. “You need me to play? Because Wonwoo probably wants to go soon, and I—”
Minghao takes a deep breath. “We need you and Wonwoo. Both of you.”
“Me and Wonwoo?” Mingyu asks. “Why both of us?”
Minghao fidgets in that way he does when he doesn’t want to say whatever’s next.
“It’s…a game about people knowing each other.” He looks away. “Just, like, their knowledge.” His eyes dart back to Mingyu. “As two people who…care about each other.”
They hold eye contact. Minghao blinks.
“This sounds a lot like a game for couples,” Mingyu says. “It sounds like a couples game.”
“Kiiiiiind of,” Minghao says.
“Not kind of,” Mingyu insists. “It sounds exactly like that.”
There’s a pause.
“Wonwoo and I are not a couple,” Mingyu adds.
“Ha, right,” Minghao says, “but, you know, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to be.”
“Are you sure?” Mingyu says. “Because that sounds like the opposite of the game.”
“No no,” Minghao says, “it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
Mingyu squints at him. “Where is this even happening?”
“This room here,” Minghao says, pointing to the right, and—hold on, there’s a bunch of people setting up chairs in the next room. In the center are two short rows of chairs, facing each other. How did Mingyu not notice that being set up?
“This seems weird,” Mingyu decides. “I don’t like it. I’m out.”
“Mingyu,” he says, “you owe me.”
“I owe you?” Mingyu echoes.
“Need I remind you,” Minghao begins.
“No,” Mingyu says, and he already knows where this is going, “you do not need to remind me—”
“Need I remind you,” Minghao persists, “of the time that you came out to my mother for me?”
Every. Damn. Time. “How many years, Minghao,” Mingyu says. “How many years am I gonna owe you for one mistake.”
“‘Oh no, Mrs. Xu,’” Minghao drawls, affecting a deep-voiced impression of Mingyu, “Minghao won’t be taking a giiiiiiiiiiirl to the prom. Why would he? He likes booooooooys.”
“That was not the most effort you’ve put into that,” Mingyu critiques. “You re-enacted it way more dramatically when you wanted me to pay for smoothies last week.”
“Come on,” Minghao urges, “you two don’t even have to try that hard. Yugyeom and BamBam had to cut out because one of them is sick, so Jun and I have a real chance at winning.”
That checks out, actually, because Mingyu’s seen Yugyeom and BamBam together before, and he’s pretty sure they share one mind, or a psychic link, or something. Once, Yugyeom and Mingyu were talking at a party, and Yugyeom asked Mingyu if he wanted another drink, and Mingyu said yes, and then BamBam immediately entered from another room with said drink. Mingyu’s been wary of them since. They would easily dominate a game like the one Minghao’s describing.
“So actually,” Mingyu clarifies, “you need me and Wonwoo to play so we can lose.”
“Yes,” Minghao says. “So that Jun and I can crush Seokjin and Namjoon for once.”
“For once?” Mingyu asks. “What is this, a tournament?”
“We’ve played a couple times before,” Minghao says, which explains nothing.
“What are you playing for?” At Minghao’s questioning look, Mingyu clarifies, “What do you win?”
“You—you win,” says Minghao, looking at Mingyu like he’s got three heads. “You get to be the winner. That’s what you win.”
Hold on. “You’re doing this for nothing?”
“It’s not for nothing,” Minghao hisses back, “it’s to be the greatest.”
“Oh-kay,” Mingyu says carefully. “Minghao, your eye’s kind of twitching.”
“Come on,” Minghao urges, blinking erratically, “Wonwoo’s already waiting.”
Mingyu double-takes. “Wait, Wonwoo agreed to this?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Minghao says quickly, “Wonwoo knows.”
Minghao waves a hand, and they both look over to the next room, where Wonwoo is seated in one of the chairs at the room’s center. He blinks at a wall, expression blank with confusion.
“It doesn’t look like Wonwoo knows,” Mingyu says.
“Uh, he knows,” Minghao rushes out. “Trust me. I wouldn’t lie. Let’s go.”
Minghao ushers Mingyu over to where Seungkwan stands at the head of the two rows of chairs, shuffling through flashcards. “We have a third couple,” Minghao greets. He jerks his thumb at Mingyu. “Him and Wonwoo.”
Seungkwan looks up at Minghao, eyes flashing, then over to where Wonwoo’s seated, and then back to Minghao again.
“They’re not a couple,” he intones, deadly serious.
“They’re almost a couple,” Minghao argues.
“We’re really not,” Mingyu cuts in.
Neither Minghao nor Seungkwan acknowledge him. “Besides,” Minghao continues, “everybody thinks they’re together.”
“They do?!” Mingyu interrupts.
“And yet they are still not a couple,” Seungkwan insists, again ignoring Mingyu.
“Come on, Seungkwan,” Minghao pushes, “you know we can’t do the touching part with only two couples.”
“Excuse me?” Mingyu asks, voice cracking. “The touching part?”
“It’s them or nothing,” Minghao threatens Seungkwan. “Them or no game at all. Which would you rather, Boo?”
“Wonwoo,” he says.
Seated a couple feet away, Wonwoo looks up. “Hm?”
“What side of the bed does Mingyu sleep on?”
“…what?” Wonwoo asks, caught off-guard.
“Don’t think, just tell me,” Seungkwan prods. “What side of the bed does Mingyu like to take?”
“Um,” Wonwoo says, still confused. Mingyu thinks he spots a blush creeping up Wonwoo’s neck. “The right, I think, usually.”
“Haha,” Mingyu jumps in, quiet so only Minghao and Seungkwan can hear him, “okay now, I can see how that would make us seem like a couple, except that—”
“Fine,” Seungkwan grits out. “They can play. But I’m not responsible for their loss, and I’m not explaining it to the audience.”
“Deal,” says Minghao. They share a stiff handshake.
Without further ado, Minghao shoves Mingyu into the chair opposite Wonwoo.
Mingyu looks around. He’s seated in an aisle beside Namjoon and then Junhui, and in the aisle opposite, facing them, are Wonwoo, and then Seokjin, and then Minghao. Mingyu can feel Wonwoo’s eyes on him like lasers.
They lock eyes, and there’s no need for words—Mingyu can read Wonwoo’s what the hell is going on very clearly. Before he can answer, though, Seungkwan’s voice rings through the room.
“Welcome, friends,” he projects, and the crowd around them quiets. Seungkwan is—oh, come on now—he’s holding a microphone plushie in one hand, which he’s speaking into like a news reporter. “Welcome,” he repeats, “to another round of everyone’s favorite game.”
Wonwoo’s head snaps up to look at Seungkwan.
“That’s right,” Seungkwan says, “it’s the true test of a couple’s love—it’s Know Ya Boo!”
The people around them cheer.
Wonwoo blanches. He looks back to Mingyu.
I am so sorry, Mingyu mouths.
Seungkwan continues, “As always, Know Ya Boo is hosted by me—”
“No,” Mingyu tries to stop him, “don’t say it—”
“—your boo,” Seungkwan crows, “Boo Seungkwan!” He winks.
Mingyu facepalms. Wonwoo takes a deep, measured breath.
“We’ve got three couples—” Seungkwan pauses, and rephrases. “We have three pairs this evening who will be competing. Unfortunately,” his tone dips appropriately as he shares this news, “our reigning champs, Yugyeom and BamBam, could not make it tonight.”
Mingyu nearly jolts at the various disappointed and frustrated noises that arise from the spectators.
“I know, I know,” Seungkwan placates. “But tonight we’ve still got some familiar faces—let’s start with our classic dynamic duo, Seokjin and Namjoon!”
Shouts of support fill the room, as Namjoon makes ‘raise the roof’ gestures, and Seokjin waves a cupped hand like he’s royalty.
“Next up, they’ve held a strong streak in second place, but tonight might be their chance to break it—always the bridesmaid, never the bride, it’s Junhui and Minghao!”
“Rude,” says Minghao, as Junhui blows kisses to the audience.
“Aaaaaand finally,” Seungkwan says, “two people who are not a couple, but who I have never seen apart from each other sooooooo I guess they get to be in the game, it’s Mingyu and Wonwoo!”
The delayed cheers are cut into by Jimin’s voice, calling out from somewhere behind Wonwoo. “Wait, they aren’t a couple?”
“They aren’t?” echoes Joshua, from another corner of the room. Mingyu cringes. “Hold on, I thought—”
Taehyung joins in, “I was pretty sure they were—”
“Then why are they playing?” Hoseok asks.
“We needed a third couple,” Seungkwan dismisses. “Don’t worry about it.”
“But they’re kind of like a couple,” muses Hansol, leaning against a wall with a solo cup in hand. “I get it.”
Wonwoo looks like he wants to die.
“But won’t they lose?” questions Seungcheol.
“How is everyone we know here, and yet we had no clue about this event?” Mingyu asks Wonwoo.
“No one cares,” Seungkwan says, “now everyone shut up, I’m hosting.”
“Wait,” Yoongi pipes up, arm around Jimin’s shoulders, “did you just say that Mingyu and Wonwoo aren’t together? Because I thought—”
“I’M HOSTING,” Seungkwan shrills.
The room quiets.
Seungkwan runs a hand over his hair, smoothing it out, and then makes a dramatic, sweeping gesture, as if to take back the floor.
“For those who aren’t familiar,” he says, “our couples will be quizzed on their knowledge of each other through three rounds.” He makes another gesture, and Chan materializes beside him, carrying supplies. To each of the six contestants, he hands out personal-sized whiteboards and dry-erase markers. Wonwoo accepts his set as though they carry the plague.
“Chan! How did you become a part of this?” Mingyu whispers, as the younger hands him a board and marker. “Did Seungkwan force you into it somehow? Are you being exploited? Answer me, Chan!”
“Are you kidding?” Chan says. “I volunteered for this. Yugyeom and BamBam aren’t here, so I put money on Jun and Hao. Sorry,” he tacks on, looking guilty.
“Here it is,” Wonwoo mutters, looking down at the tiny whiteboard in his hands. “Here’s what I get for going out.”
“The first two rounds are question and answer with the whiteboards,” Seungkwan continues. “The third will test a…different kind of knowledge.”
He doesn’t elaborate further. He just…smiles at them.
“Wait, what’s the third round?” Wonwoo asks, a hint of terror slipping into his voice. “Seungkwan? What’s the third round? Why doesn’t it involve the whiteboards?”
“Aaaaaaand here we go!” Seungkwan shouts, ignoring them, “round one!”
Maybe the questions won’t be that…invasive, Mingyu reassures himself. Maybe this whole thing won’t be so humiliating after all.
“Question one,” Seungkwan begins. “What is you and your partner’s favorite romantic spot?”
Mingyu sighs. What has he gotten himself into? Wonwoo’s not even looking at him, he’s just glaring at the wall to his left like he’s willing it to burst into flame. Mingyu is most definitely paying for this later. He can kiss goodbye sleepovers with Wonwoo for at least a week. He looks around, and Seokjin and Namjoon have already finished writing. So have Junhui and Minghao, and now Minghao’s awkwardly leaning over, trying un-covertly to read from Seokjin’s board. Eventually, even Wonwoo starts writing, slowly and carefully wielding the marker, though he looks the opposite of thrilled about it.
Mingyu tries to scrounge up an answer, but nothing’s coming to mind. It’s not like he and Wonwoo share romantic spots, since they’re not a couple, and the only fancy place they’ve ever been to together was an island as part of a school trip once, but he would hardly call that a positive experience, seeing as Wonwoo got super sick from the local food and Mingyu spent the whole time nursing him back to health and forcing him to drink bottled water. Honestly, as far as Mingyu’s concerned, the only place that really seems special for them is the couch at their apartment, where they can chill after getting home, eating takeout and watching a baking competition until they both fall asleep.
“Alright all, let’s wrap it up!” Seungkwan calls, like a high school teacher ending breakout time, and Mingyu resigns himself to his fate. He just wants to get this over with. Halfheartedly, he uncaps his marker and scrawls couch.
“Time’s up!” Seungkwan turns towards Seokjin. Mingyu can feel the excitement of the spectators in the room as they wait for the reveal. “Couple one. Your favorite romantic spot.”
Seokjin flips the board in his hands. “Cancun,” he says, all smug like he already knows he’s right. Namjoon, looking smitten, turns his board around to reveal the same. “We went there together a year ago and it was amazing.”
Wewentanditwasamaaaazing, Minghao mimics soundlessly, tossing his head back and forth. Junhui snorts.
“Well done, couple one. That’s one point. Couple two, why don’t we share what’s so funny over there?”
The smile doesn’t leave Junhui’s face as he turns his board. “Our favorite romantic spot is my bedroom.”
“Ah, ew,” says Mingyu.
“Of course,” agrees Minghao, turning his whiteboard as well, “Jun’s bedroom.” He shoots Junhui a heavy look. Oh god. Mingyu is regretting this. A lot.
“Remind me to never again sit on Jun’s bed when we’re over,” Wonwoo mumbles.
“How…honest,” Seungkwan says, blinking. “Thank you so much for sharing. A point for you two as well.”
His expression is placid as he turns to look at Mingyu.
“Mingyu,” he says with false sweetness, “what is you and your…your Wonwoo’s…favorite romantic spot?”
Trying not to blush, Mingyu flips his board. “The only thing I could think of was…the couch.”
There’s a pause, during which Seungkwan blinks at him.
“That’s where we relax…together…” Mingyu lets his voice trail off, and shrugs pathetically. “Uh…”
Minghao flashes Junhui a victorious look.
It feels like the entire room is about to burst into laughter, and then Wonwoo cuts in, “Actually.”
All heads turn to him.
Wonwoo turns his board for everyone to see.
Couch, it reads.
“I said couch too.”
Seungkwan looks about ready to explode.
“We got it right,” Mingyu says, stunned. Then, a little louder, he repeats, “we got it right.”
“Holy shit,” says Jihoon.
“Wait, really?” Taehyung says.
“I am surprised,” Hansol says easily.
“So do they get a point?” asks Soonyoung.
“Well—well,” Seungkwan says, stunned, “indeed! It looks like our resident bros have earned themselves a point!”
“Don’t call us that,” Wonwoo mutters.
“You two might give the lovebirds a run for their money!” Seungkwan adds rigidly.
“HA HA,” cries Minghao, looking panicked. “OR NOT.”
“Is his eye twitching?” Seungcheol murmurs.
“They earned the point, so let’s stop discussing it!” Seungkwan steamrolls. “Here we go! Question two.”
Mingyu can’t help smiling at Wonwoo. Wonwoo rolls his eyes back. But he doesn’t seem quite so angry anymore. Mingyu counts it as a success.
“This side.” Seungkwan indicates Junhui, Namjoon, and Mingyu. “What food will your partner never eat?”
Mingyu knows this one too!
He clumsily uncaps his marker and scribbles his answer down, tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth as he writes. Hey, this may not end up being the most humiliating thing that’s ever happened to him. He’s just attempting to correct his misspelling as Seungkwan calls for everyone to wrap up.
Mingyu’s so excited to share his answer that he nearly talks over Seokjin’s turn, which earns him a look from Seungkwan. After Mingyu’s put in his place, Seokjin and Namjoon start again, and there’s some sort of joke about Seokjin eating anything, and Junhui and Minghao manage to turn this into something about fucking too, ugh, but it doesn’t matter, because Mingyu’s practically bursting by the time Seungkwan gets to him.
“Mingyu?” Seungkwan finally asks. “What food won’t Wonwoo—”
“Seafood,” Mingyu rushes out, flipping his board. “Wonwoo won’t eat it cause he’s allergic.”
Wonwoo pauses. “Shellfish,” he specifies. Despite himself, he looks proud of Mingyu. Mingyu preens.
“Well,” Seungkwan says, surprised once again, “that’s definitely not how you spell seafood, Mingyu, but I’ll accept it. Yeah, there’s only one f. Are you really trying to become a teacher? For real? That’s your career goal? Whatever, who cares. That’s two points for every team!”
“Another point!” Mingyu hisses to Wonwoo, excited.
“I know,” Wonwoo says easily, but there’s a hint of a smile on his face.
“You all.” Seungkwan points to Mingyu’s side, which is him and Namjoon and Junhui. “Last question of the round. Tell us your partner’s most-contacted person in their phone, besides yourself.”
Hey, now, Mingyu feels like he’s starting to get the hang of this.
“Soonyoung,” he says when it’s their turn, throwing his hands up in triumph and almost dropping his whiteboard in the process. He catches it just in time, though his marker still clatters to the ground. He speaks again after it noisily rolls to as stop. “It’s Soonyoung,” he reiterates.
“He’s embarrassing but he’s right,” Wonwoo concedes. In the crowd, Soonyoung punches the air with pride. Seungkwan looks like he’s sucking on something sour when he allows them the point.
“This is so easy,” Mingyu gloats. Namjoon and Seokjin got this one wrong, meaning that Mingyu and Wonwoo were actually ahead of them. They’re doing good! “Is this it? Are the questions gonna get harder?”
“Watch yourself, Mingyu,” Jihoon warns.
Wonwoo kicks a chastising foot out to tap against Mingyu’s. “Quit it,” Wonwoo tells him, but there’s a spark in his eye.
Minghao catches Mingyu’s eye. You’re supposed to LOSE, he mouths ragefully.
Mingyu cringes. Sorry? he mouths back.
“Hey,” Wonwoo says, “remember that time we were supposed to go home after an hour?”
“This game feels like a great way to instigate a breakup,” Mingyu mutters to Wonwoo, as they watch Seokjin and Namjoon argue over the latest compliments they’ve given each other.
“You said my outfit looked good,” Seokjin insists. “It was just this morning. Doesn’t that count?”
“I said it looked fine,” Namjoon responds. “You asked, does it look alright? And I said, yeah, it looks fine. I don’t think that’s a compliment. Is it?” He looks to Seungkwan.
“Then—did my outfit not look good?” Seokjin asks, stricken.
“It’s like the Hunger Games of being a couple,” Wonwoo mutters back. He flexes his fingers to stretch his sleeves over his hands, turning them into sweaterpaws. The movement yanks the collar of his sweater down just low enough to expose the notches of his pale shoulders.
“You cold?” Mingyu asks. “I can go get your coat.”
“Talking is not allowed between the couples before they answer!” Seungkwan sings over them. Wonwoo stiffens, caught out. “You two better be ready! Wonwoo, what was the last compliment Mingyu gave you?”
“Um,” Wonwoo says, reluctantly holding up his whiteboard in a way that keeps him from having to look at it. “Mingyu told me he liked my hair like this.”
Sometime between this round and the last, a good chunk of the crowd has migrated to rooting for Wonwoo and Mingyu as the underdogs, and they make a collective oooooh at Wonwoo’s answer. Mingyu turns his board to show the same answer. “And when was this?” Seungkwan asks, like a PI hot on the trail.
“Earlier this evening,” Wonwoo confesses, flustered. “Before we came here.”
The oooohing intensifies. Wonwoo blushes like he did when Mingyu gave the compliment earlier. “Mingyu,” says Seungkwan, “what is it that you like about Wonwoo’s hair like this?”
“Um…” Mingyu is a little embarrassed too as he casts out for an explanation. The whole thing feels oddly private. But he pushes the thought away as he answers. “I just think…at this length, it frames his face really nicely, and…I don’t know, it looks good when it’s long. It’s cute.”
Wonwoo lifts a hand to shield his blush. Minghao shoots Mingyu a funny look.
“I didn’t know if anyone would like it,” Wonwoo confesses.
“Well, I like it,” Mingyu says. Wonwoo lifts another hand to his face.
“Hm!” Seungkwan hums. His eyes dart between Mingyu and Wonwoo, and he’s got a look like he’s downloading information. Then he smiles. “How about that.”
Wonwoo’s blush calms as Seungkwan shuffles his notecards and moves onto the next question. “This side,” he says, pointing towards Wonwoo’s row. “The better dressed ones.” Junhui boos. Mingyu and Namjoon both frown down at their outfits. “Write down your partner’s biggest fear.”
Mingyu notices that the atmosphere of the room sobers a bit with this question. Their audience even gets quieter.
Seungkwan begins the answers with Seokjin.
“Namjoon’s fear is not having his music,” Seokjin says.
“I said not being able to make music anymore,” Namjoon confirms. The tips of his ears are a bit red.
“Ooooh,” Seungkwan coos, subdued, “very close. Should we count it? What do you all think?”
Their audience buzzes in agreement.
“I think we’ll count it,” Seungkwan tells them. “Hao, what’s Jun’s fear?”
“Not being able to support us,” says Minghao, with so much sincerity that it knocks Mingyu a little off-kilter. Mouth quirked into a solemn half-smile, Junhui nods and turns his board as well. The two hold eye contact and surprisingly, Mingyu is kind of moved by the rare, genuine vibe of affection between them.
The room is nearly silent as Seungkwan turns to Wonwoo.
“Last but not least,” Seungkwan says, “Mingyu and Wonwoo. Wonwoo, what is Mingyu’s biggest fear?”
Wonwoo flips his whiteboard.
“Bears,” he says.
For a long moment, no one says anything.
“Wonwoo,” says Jihoon finally, “don’t you think Mingyu has—”
“No, no,” Mingyu says, flipping his board too. “It’s bears.”
Seungkwan’s mouth moves, but no sound comes out.
“Bears are the greatest predators,” Mingyu explains. “There is no stronger animal on the planet.”
“Bears,” Joshua echoes, like maybe he heard wrong.
“Bears,” Wonwoo confirms.
“Bears will eat anything,” Mingyu continues. “Some will even eat rubber and metal.”
“I don’t think that’s true,” Seokmin notes faintly.
“The trees,” Wonwoo prompts.
“Many of them can climb trees at an alarming rate,” Mingyu picks up. “And there are bears who can run faster than the fastest human being.”
Fastest human being, Wonwoo mouths along with him.
“Under what circumstances are you running into a bear?” Jeongguk asks.
“You never know,” Mingyu says. “I once saw a bear at a gas station.”
Wonwoo is already shaking his head. “It wasn’t a bear, Mingyu.”
“It was a bear and you know it,” Mingyu hisses. “If it wasn’t a bear then what was it, Wonwoo? Huh? What else could it have been?”
“I’m not doing this again,” Wonwoo recites, “we’ve been over this a million times, and we agreed last time that we weren’t going to bring it up in public anymore.”
“Is this for real?” Seungkwan asks Wonwoo. “Do you really think bears are coming into your home?”
“Oh, I’m not scared of bears,” Wonwoo clarifies. “But it’s important to Mingyu, to be wary of bears, so.” He shrugs. “I learned the bear facts.”
“And there’s not a more intimate fear he has,” Seungkwan asks, “of, like, something having to do with your relationship, or…”
There’s a stilted pause, and then from the sidelines, Soonyoung awkwardly reminds, “…they’re not a couple.”
“Oh.” Seungkwan shakes his head, looking disoriented. “Sorry. I forgot there for a second.”
“We’re not together,” Mingyu reminds, and Seungkwan rolls his eyes.
“Wow, really? I had no idea. Guess no one told me,” he deadpans. “Okay. Last question of the round.”
Mingyu surveys his fellow contestants, and he kind of can’t believe he and Wonwoo getting away with this. In fact, he wonders if they can’t get through the whole game without a wrong answer. They could even win.
Mingyu honestly believes this, really, until Seungkwan asks for their answers to his question: “what’s the last fight you two had?”
At once, Mingyu and Wonwoo both start, “It was about—”
“—how much Mingyu was working,” Wonwoo says.
“—Nayoung,” Mingyu finishes. “Hold on, what?”
Seungkwan raises a brow. Wonwoo looks surprised enough to have been struck by lightning.
“Nayoung,” Seungkwan repeats. “Who is Nayoung?”
“My ex-girlfriend,” Mingyu answers.
A low hum of surprise fills the room. Mingyu ignores it. He’s focused on Wonwoo, who is rapidly turning red.
“What was the problem with Nayoung?” Seungkwan asks.
“Wonwoo didn’t like her,” Mingyu says. They’ve never talked about it explicitly, but it didn’t take much for Mingyu to figure it out. “I don’t know, maybe she rubbed some people the wrong way.”
“That wasn’t,” Wonwoo looks flustered. “A fight, I mean…”
“You didn’t like her?” Seungkwan echoes to Wonwoo. “What was the issue?”
“Nothing,” Wonwoo insists, reddening further. “It was something with me.”
“How could it have been anything else,” Mingyu pushes, “you stopped talking to me right when she and I started going out. It was obvious you didn’t like her.”
Wonwoo half-laughs in that awkward way he does when he’s really overwhelmed. “It wasn’t that. That was, it was something else.”
“You were so upset with me,” Mingyu blurts, forgetting for a second that they’re doing this in front of a bunch of people. He can hear the rawness in his own voice. “We didn’t hang out for like, two weeks.”
“Hey now,” Jeongguk interrupts.
“Okay, okay,” Jihoon chimes in, “I think we’re good on this one, why don’t we get to the next question?”
“He’s right,” Seungkwan says, resolved, turning to Jun and Hao to ask for their answers, and Mingyu gives up. They’ve lost a point, their first wrong answer, but it doesn’t matter to him. He’s just confused. Wonwoo’s still shiftily looking away.
The round ends, and Seungkwan calls for a short break. The chairs around Mingyu scrape and slide as people get up to refresh their drinks and huddle together to chat.
Namjoon stands up from his spot beside Mingyu as well, and after a moment, Wonwoo steals the seat.
“I’m sorry,” Wonwoo says. “It’s me. It’s my fault.”
“I don’t care about the point,” Mingyu mumbles.
“No,” Wonwoo says. “I mean, yeah, I’m sorry about the point. But the thing with,” he takes a second. “With Nayoung. I’m sorry about that. I swear it wasn’t some issue with her.” He waits until Mingyu meets his eyes, and his gaze is dark and direct. Mingyu feels oddly magnetized by his stare. “I didn’t mean to upset you. It was just me dealing with some things.”
Mingyu nods, feeling a bit lighter. “Thanks,” he says, and even though he still feels like he doesn’t have the whole story, he trusts Wonwoo and knows he isn’t lying.
They sit in silence together for a moment, and then Mingyu asks, “when did we fight about how much I was working?”
Wonwoo laughs softly. “Remember when you came home, and you were so tired,” he reminds. “And you were gonna pass out, and I tried to get you to skip…”
Mingyu ahs as he remembers. “You were scary,” he recalls. Give me your phone, Wonwoo had commanded, deadly serious, after Mingyu had insisted on going back to work after only four hours of sleep. I’m calling in sick for you. You need to sleep, Mingyu.
After their argument, Mingyu had fallen asleep in a fit of pique and exhaustion, and when he’d woken up, instead of going back to work, he and Wonwoo had talked and sheepishly apologized to one other. Mingyu resolved to allow himself more time off, and Wonwoo promised to never again try to steal someone’s phone.
“What good are you to me if you’re asleep on your feet?” Wonwoo teases.
Mingyu smiles, and leans over to rest his shoulder against Wonwoo’s.
“You guys are so cute,” Seokmin coos as he passes by, drink in hand. Mingyu and Wonwoo both stiffen, but then Seokmin adds, “It looks like you guys might actually win!”
Mingyu and Wonwoo look at each other.
“Oh,” Mingyu says, “I don’t know if we really care about that.”
“Okay but actually,” Wonwoo confides in a whisper, endearingly guilty, once Seokmin is gone, “I do want to win now. Like, a lot. It’s weird.”
“I know,” Mingyu agrees. “At first I didn’t even want to be a part of it, but now I want to crush everyone and be the best.”
“We’re turning into them,” Wonwoo observes, eyebrow raised.
“Pay attention, you two!” Seungkwan chides. Wonwoo clamps his mouth shut. “I was just announcing your spot. And the other pair with five points is…” He cringes at Mingyu and Wonwoo, “…two adult men who I’ve watched have a slap fight over a bottle of Code Red…it’s Wonwoo and Mingyu.”
“Oooooh, Code Red,” Mingyu sighs, as Wonwoo murmurs, “oh I love Code Red.”
“They need a couple name,” Seokmin calls out. “Like Minwoo.”
“Wongyu,” Soonyoung suggests.
“Oof,” Jihoon cringes. “No way.”
“We’ve been calling them Meanie,” offers Yoongi, “cause, remember how Wonwoo used to wear beanies all the time, and then Jimin could never remember his name—”
“Hey!” Jimin cries. “Don’t expose me like that!”
“Who is ‘we?’” Mingyu cuts in, “how many people are ‘we,’ who have been using this nickname?”
“No one cares! Now, it’s our final round!” Seungkwan announces. “The one you’ve all been waiting for. That’s right!” He grins dazzlingly. “The couples will have to find each other without sight!”
“I’m sorry,” Wonwoo interjects, looking not sorry at all, “what?”
“Thiiiiiis is the thing with touching,” Mingyu exhales.
“You three, the ones who have been looking at me less murderously,” Seungkwan says, pointing to Wonwoo, Junhui, and Namjoon. “You will be leaving the room and returning, blindfolded, to find your partner by feeling their hand.” He waves at them. “Out.”
“It could be worse,” Namjoon tells Mingyu quietly as he stands from his seat, “last time we had to guess by sitting on each other’s laps.”
Chan leads Namjoon, Junhui, and a very regretful-looking Wonwoo from the room, and then Seungkwan makes Minghao, Seokjin, and Mingyu shuffle their seating arrangement.
“Okay, put your right hands out once the others come back,” Seungkwan instructs. “And don’t say anything, don’t squeeze or whatever, you know the deal.”
“Shouldn’t there be a curtain or something?” Seokjin complains. “To keep us from seeing them too?”
“We’re not exactly working with a budget here,” Seungkwan responds. He waves his plushie microphone at Seokjin for emphasis. “And all those rings have to come off, Minghao. Yes, all of them. Don’t give me that look. Get started now so we’re not here for ten days.”
Chan leads a blindfolded Namjoon back in first. Mingyu has to hold back a laugh at how goofy it looks.
It stops being funny when Namjoon clumsily grabs for Mingyu’s hand. It’s hot. Not like romantically, but like physically hot, like Namjoon’s skin is burning against Mingyu’s.
“You might want to take your boyfriend to a doctor,” Mingyu advises Seokjin once Namjoon’s turn is up. “I’m pretty sure he’s running a fever.”
“Oh no,” Seokjin says easily, “he’s always like that. He runs hotter than anyone I know. Here.” He slaps the back of his own icy hand against Mingyu’s neck. Mingyu nearly startles out of his seat. “I run super cold. It balances out.”
“Sure,” Mingyu chokes out. Now he knows how Namjoon found Seokjin so quickly. Mingyu briskly rubs at his own neck in an attempt to re-start his circulation.
Junhui’s hands on Mingyu’s aren’t extremely hot or cold. They are oddly invasive, touching and touching and touching Mingyu’s hands, very intimately. In fact, Mingyu’s pretty sure Junhui keeps feeling Mingyu’s hands long after he knows it’s not Minghao.
“Jesus, Jun,” Mingyu says, once Junhui’s found Minghao and pulled his blindfold off, “take my hands out to dinner first.”
“Good luck with your man,” Junhui returns patronizingly, before Chan ushers him back out of the room. It appears Junhui and Minghao have turned on them completely. Traitors.
Then Wonwoo enters the room, guided by Chan, and Mingyu is just slightly stunned. A little by how relieved Mingyu is to have Wonwoo back again after having his hands felt up by the others. But mostly by how not-silly Wonwoo looks with the blindfold. It looked ridiculous on Namjoon and Junhui, but Wonwoo looks oddly captivating, like a statue or model or something. It makes Mingyu feel a pang of regret that they won’t get a point this round. There’s no way they’ve touched each others’ hands enough to pull this off.
Because of their seating arrangement, Chan directs Wonwoo to Mingyu first.
Mingyu carefully extends his hand. Wonwoo takes it in his own, and his fingers aren’t freezing, or on fire, or probing. They’re perfect. His touch is careful as he splays his hand under Mingyu’s, so that their palms are touching, and then gently feels along the top of Mingyu’s knuckles with his other hand.
He runs his thumb directly over the junction of Mingyu’s thumb and index finger.
And at first, Mingyu thinks it’s a fluke. Because Mingyu has a scar in that spot. It’s from a playground accident when he was a child, and it’s got to be the only thing that makes his hands distinctive. He’s sure he told Wonwoo the story at some point, but he never would’ve thought Wonwoo remembered. The scar isn’t even that big.
Wonwoo runs his thumb over the scar again, and he smiles. Just a tiny smile.
“This is him,” he murmurs. “This is Mingyu.”
Mingyu feels a grin spread across his features.
“You…don’t want to check the other ones?” Seungkwan asks.
“No,” Wonwoo says. “This is him.”
Wonwoo squeezes Mingyu’s hand. And for a second, Mingyu’s mind is blown that Wonwoo is so completely confident, no doubt at all, that he’s found Mingyu. Mingyu can’t help but squeeze back.
“Well,” says Seungkwan from the sidelines, “you are correct!”
Wonwoo’s smile grows, and with the hand not holding Mingyu’s, he pulls the blindfold up and off his head. A lock of his long hair falls forward into his face as he grins down at Mingyu.
Something white flashes in front of Mingyu’s eyes, cutting of his view. It’s Seungkwan’s flashcards, waving in Wonwoo and Mingyu’s shared line of sight. “Hellooooo,” Seungkwan sing-songs. “We’re in the middle of a game here.”
Mingyu clears his throat.
“Sorry,” Wonwoo tells Seungkwan, voice a little raspy. Belatedly, Mingyu realizes that the crowd is buzzing with excitement. Namjoon and Junhui have returned to the room and are cuddling up to their significant others, and Seungkwan looks like he’s about to make an announcement.
“Alright, okay,” Seungkwan says, “let’s get to the scores. As it stands—I’m sorry, Seokjin and Namjoon, but—”
“You know what Jimin and I call them,” Yoongi calls out, “is NamJin, cause, you know, it mashes their names together, like—”
“Oh my god Yoongi shut up,” Seungkwan says. “Namjin—I mean, Namjoon and Seokjin—you are unfortunately in last place.”
The crowd makes its disappointed noises, but Namjoon and Seokjin accept their defeat with grace. “Next time,” Namjoon promises, kissing a blushing Sekojin on the cheek, which is pretty sweet.
“And in second place is,” Seungkwan begins, and then frowns. “Hold on.”
He looks at one of his cards, then back to the group, then back at his cards.
Chan gets there first. “They’re tied,” he says. “Holy shit, they’re tied!”
“Language, Chan,” Mingyu chastises. “Wait, what?”
“Jun and Hao are tied with Mingyu and Wonwoo!” Joshua shouts.
“When did you get one wrong?” Wonwoo asks Hao.
“They got the one about their last fight wrong,” Jeongguk answers for them. Mingyu thinks back, and realizes he was too caught up in his and Wonwoo’s wrong answer to notice. Apparently Wonwoo had missed it too.
“So what do we do?” Chan implores.
“This is so exciting,” Hoseok gloats.
Junhui and Minghao leans their heads together to share a quick, quiet conversation.
They break, and Junhui looks at Seungkwan.
“We want a tiebreaker,” he declares.
“Oh, no,” Seungkwan says unconvincingly. “I didn’t have a tiebreaker prepared.”
Jeonghan rolls his eyes.
“Fine! I had one,” Seungkwan admits. “But I don’t think anyone will go for it.” He pauses. “It was for the couples to guess the underwear each other was wearing, but I don’t know, maybe we should still give it a shot—”
“NO,” Mingyu, Wonwoo, and Jihoon shout simultaneously.
Seungkwan sighs. “Fine. What-ever. Umm….”
And then something awful flits across his face.
“I have an idea,” he says mischievously, and dread sinks in Mingyu’s stomach. “The winning couple will…”
“No,” Mingyu whispers.
“…make out for the audience,” Seungkwan finishes.
The crowd screeches with excitement, and Mingyu watches Wonwoo just barely pull himself back from the precipice of passing out.
“I changed my mind, let’s do the underwear one,” Mingyu tells Seungkwan. “I’m pretty sure it’s the boxers with the hearts on them, anyway, it’s laundry day at our place.”
Minghao’s eyes are bright. “We don’t have a problem with kissing,” he tells Seungkwan serenely.
Seungkwan looks to Mingyu and Wonwoo triumphantly. There it is: his revenge for Mingyu and Wonwoo violating his game’s rules by participating. “Um,” says Mingyu.
Wonwoo grabs Mingyu’s arm.
“I’m not sure I want to do this,” he says quietly, shaken.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay,” says Mingyu. He lays his hand over Wonwoo’s. “If you don’t want to do it, we won’t do it.”
“But we’ll lose,” says Wonwoo, adorably conflicted.
“Don’t worry about it,” Mingyu says, “it’s not that important. Besides, maybe Hao and Jun won’t go for it.”
They both look to where Junhui and Minghao are leering at them, already leaning in towards one another.
“I think,” amends Mingyu.
“Minghao and Junhui accept the tiebreaker,” Seungkwan says happily. “Mingyu? Wonwoo?”
“It’s Meanie!” Yoongi corrects.
“I swear to god, Yoongi,” Seungkwan warns.
“I…” Mingyu looks at Wonwoo, who looks totally lost. “I don’t know,” he tells Seungkwan.
“Well, try and make up your minds.” Seungkwan turns back to the center of the room. “In the meantime, Minghao and Junhui, show us what you got!”
Back when Mingyu found out that Junhui and Minghao were a couple, he had a little trouble believing it. Mostly because they didn’t even seem to like each other. But also, a little bit, because he never saw them touch each other. For a long time, he even had trouble imagining them kissing.
Well, Mingyu won’t have trouble any longer, because right in front of everyone, Junhui sweeps Minghao up and just nails him in a kiss. It’s like—it’s real kissing. It’s very real. It’s a lot. They wrap around each other to a cacophony of wolf whistles and cheers, and. Well.
Mingyu and Wonwoo are for sure going to lose.
Junhui and Minghao untangle from each other so they can look at Mingyu and Wonwoo triumphantly, and Seungkwan turns to them as well, expectant.
“It’s okay,” Mingyu repeats to Wonwoo. “We did good up till now, and anyway, it’s not like we even have to—”
Wonwoo surges forward and lays one on him.
Distantly, at the periphery of his mind, Mingyu registers the crowd’s wild reaction—howls, and whoops, and shrieks. At the foreground of his mind, though, is the feel of Wonwoo’s mouth on his—the surprise of it, and the sweet pressure of Wonwoo’s soft lips, and the heady, soaring sensation that overtakes Mingyu as they connect.
When Mingyu presses back, Wonwoo doesn’t back down; he fists his hand in Mingyu’s shirt, and Mingyu’s fingers find their way into Wonwoo’s hair, threading through the long strands, and the feel of it is even better than he could have imagined, and Mingyu’s fingers tighten, pulling on Wonwoo’s hair, so that Wonwoo groans and then gasps against his lips, which means Mingyu can tease his tongue into Wonwoo’s mouth, and he feels Wonwoo weaken at that, feels him tremble so that Mingyu has to move a hand down to keep Wonwoo steady, to pull him closer, and then closer, as close as they can get, until—
—Wonwoo pulls away to take a gasping breath of air, and Mingyu takes one too, feeling nearly light-headed. And as they turn to each other and lock eyes once more, the reactions around them start to bleed into Mingyu’s awareness.
”What?!” Taehyung is crying, exuberant. His shouts are almost lost among the cheers and hollers. Jeongguk has to hold onto him to keep Taehyung from tripping over himself. “What, what, what?!”
“Holy shit,” says Hansol.
“Jesus, I mean—” Joshua cuts himself off, looking startled at his own words. “I mean, gosh.”
Minghao and Junhui are gaping at them. Seungkwan’s got a hand splayed across his chest like he’s about to faint.
Mingyu opens his mouth to try and explain what’s just happened, but no words come out.
Chan elbows Seungkwan, snapping his attention back to the game.
“Okay! Okay!” Seungkwan waves at the rowdy audience to quiet themselves, which they just barely manage. “We are going to do this by sound poll. When I tell you to, make noise for the couple who you think should win!”
He tells the crowd to make noise if they want Junhui and Minghao to win. There are cheers and boos and shouts. It’s loud. It still all feels distant as far as Mingyu is concerned. Wonwoo and Mingyu are still wrapped around each other. Then Seungkwan tells them to cheer if they want Mingyu and Wonwoo to win.
The crowd roars. It’s so overwhelming that Mingyu startles. Wonwoo grips him tighter.
“We have a winner!” Seungkwan announces.
Music floods the room, and people are shouting and cheering. Mingyu isn’t sure if he’s imagining the confetti raining down on them. Even Seungkwan is ecstatic with celebration, seemingly having forgotten that he’d rooted against Mingyu and Wonwoo the entire time. Something slots onto Mingyu’s head, which he realizes must be a plastic crown when he sees Chan throwing one on Wonwoo’s head as well. Wonwoo’s eyes are big, and he won’t stop looking at Mingyu. Mingyu thinks he’s in shock. All he can feel, still, is the imprint of Wonwoo’s lips on his own.
“Here it is, the extent of our budget spending!” Seungkwan cheers, indicating the crowns on Mingyu and Wonwoo’s heads.
“What about the microphone?” Jimin asks, pointing to Seungkwan’s mic plushie.
“I already had it, I brought it from home!” Seungkwan cries.
Someone shoves a solo cup at Mingyu, and he moves a hand from its spot, splayed on Wonwoo’s back, to take it. Everything feels oddly dreamlike. He doesn’t want the drink right now. At a loss, he offers it to Wonwoo.
“I’m good,” Wonwoo says. His expression is unreadable.
“Gyu!” Jeonghan calls, excited and beckoning him over. “Gyu! C’mere!”
Mingyu reluctantly moves away from Wonwoo to shift towards Jeonghan, but they don’t separate completely; he and Wonwoo untangle slowly, arms touching until just their hands are linked, fingers wrapped around each other’s so they’re holding hands.
But the welcome pressure of Wonwoo’s hand leaves him after a minute, and when Mingyu turns around to see what happened, Wonwoo is gone.
“Hey,” Mingyu asks Chan, who’s standing nearby, “have you seen Wonwoo?”
Chan hasn’t. Neither have Joshua or Taehyung. Mingyu pulls his crown off and goes off in search of his best friend.
Mingyu locates Wonwoo, of all places, standing outside in the cold. He’s almost hidden away in the building’s shadow, wrapped up in his puffy coat and huddled in on himself. Mingyu throws on his own coat and steps outside too, closing the sliding door behind him.
“Hey!” he greets. The steam from his breath creates a little cloud in front of his face. “What happened to your crown?”
Wonwoo reveals the crown, clasped in one of his hands.
“…You okay?” Mingyu asks.
“Why aren’t we a couple?”
Mingyu nearly does a double take. “What?”
“Why aren’t we a couple?” Wonwoo repeats. Now Mingyu can hear the slight stuffiness in his voice. “Why not?”
“Is—is that a real question?” Mingyu asks. It’s almost like a joke, but not funny at all. “Because…because.”
Wonwoo just stares at him.
“Because we’re just friends, Wonwoo,” Mingyu concludes.
“That’s it?” Wonwoo sniffles. “Is that how things work, Mingyu? Is the world really that simple?”
“I,” Mingyu doesn’t understand what’s going on right now. He’s so confused, and he feels strangely emotional out of nowhere. He can see tear tracks down Wonwoo’s face. “I don’t know.”
“Well, let me know when you figure it out,” Wonwoo says. He takes a deep breath and then moves away, snow crunching under his shoes as he departs.
Mingyu stands there in shock for a moment, before numbly heading back inside. Sullen, he kicks the snow off his shoes on the mat inside the door, and then re-enters the celebration to a round of cheers.
“King Mingyu!” cries Soonyoung in a goofy voice, holding up his solo cup. “Wherefore is your consort, King Wonwoo?”
“Uhm,” Mingyu says, voice shaking. “He left.”
The room quiets.
“What?” says Jimin. “Why?”
“We, uh,” Mingyu can feel his chin trembling. “We had a fight.”
Mingyu feels like he shouldn’t go on, not in front of all these people, but every face is looking at him in earnest, and he can’t help the words from tumbling out. “He asked me why we weren’t a couple, and I said I didn’t know!”
“Ohhhhhhh,” comments Seokjin, voice low.
“And I said, you know,” Mingyu pulls in a shallow breath, “because we’re just friends.”
A collective ooooooh fills the room.
“And then he was crying.”
The ooooooh switches to a gasp.
“And then he left,” Mingyu concludes. “What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do, guys?”
“Okay, alright,” Jeonghan counsels, “let’s just…talk through this.”
No one says anything.
“Okay, I’ll start!” Chan volunteers. “Well, personally, I think that you should--”
“Chan!” Jeonghan cuts in. “You are ten years old. You cannot be giving love advice. Someone else. Please.”
“Me!” Seungkwan says, raising a hand in the air. He’s still holding onto the microphone plushie. “Now I think—”
“Not you either,” Jeonghan decides. He points at Yoongi. “Yoongi. Go.”
Yoongi looks around, right and left, as if Jeonghan might be speaking to another person. “Me?” he asks, pointing at himself.
“Jesus, I’ll do it,” Hoseok says. “Mingyu, you and Wonwoo are very close. Right?”
“Yes,” Mingyu agrees.
“You’re close,” Hoseok continues, “but sometimes, it seems like the feelings are…more than friendship.”
Mingyu frowns. “What are you saying?”
Hoseok asks, “Have you ever considered that you might have romantic feelings for Wonwoo?”
Again, no one says anything. Junhui raises a brow.
“Oh,” Mingyu says.
“Look,” Namjoon says carefully, “I’m not trying to say that two people can’t be intimately intertwined with each other without it being romantic, because that would perpetuate a homonormative frame of thinking and would hierarchize romantic relationships above friendships, which would in turn reinforce the oppressive paradigm of—”
“Oh my god, Namjoon,” Seokjin says, rolling his eyes. “Are you for real right now? We get it, friends can love each other like couples do. Was that so hard?”
Hoseok waves a dismissive hand at them. “Let’s just make this simple,” he says to Mingyu. “Have you ever wanted to make out with him, besides for this game?”
“With Wonwoo?” Mingyu asks, flustered.
Who else? He sees Jeongguk mouths to Taehyung, incredulous.
Now now, Taehyung mouths back.
“Yeah,” Hoseok says, “with Wonwoo.”
Everyone stares at Mingyu, waiting for an answer.
Mingyu thinks about lying in the same bed as Wonwoo during their sleepovers, laughing, their faces close together, and how, when Wonwoo looks down, his eyelashes cast tiny little shadows on his cheeks; and he thinks of how cute Wonwoo looks when he’s trying to hold back a smile, eyes sparkling, how it just makes Mingyu want to be closer; and how good Wonwoo looks with his long hair, how sometimes he pushes back a lock of hair with his sweaterpawed hand, and it leaves a feeling that’s tight and hot in Mingyu’s chest; and Mingyu thinks about how even a minute ago, when they were just standing outside in the snow and disagreeing, Wonwoo’s lips were so pink with the cold, in this really beautiful way, his chin trembling with the temperature and his tears—
“Well…yeah, I guess so,” Mingyu admits, confused. “I guess I wanted to kiss him. But…that doesn’t mean I like him.”
Yoongi says, “I think the first half of that statement negates the second half.”
Jimin elbows Yoongi in the ribs.
“Wa—wait,” Mingyu says, squinting. “Are you guys saying I’m into Wonwoo?”
He suddenly feels very light on his feet, and not in a good way.
“Ohhh, no, no! Mingyu! Cheol, get him!” Jeonghan says, and Seungcheol whips into the place behind Mingyu and props him up, placing one hand against Mingyu’s back and another up to cradle the base of his skull.
“Head above your heart, buddy,” Seungcheol advises. “Head above your heart, or you’re gonna tip right over.”
“He’s too tall, he’ll leave a hole in the floor,” Minghao mutters.
“But if I—if I like Wonwoo…” Mingyu tries to parse out, after he regains his balance, “…even if I do, Wonwoo doesn’t like me like that.”
“He doesn’t?” Jimin asks, in that way that people do when they’re telling you the answer with how they emphasize the question.
“He does?” Mingyu nearly shrieks.
“Why do you think he was so upset before he left?” Jeongguk asks.
Once more, Mingyu starts to feel himself tip back. Again, Seungcheol props him up.
“How did that kiss make you feel?” Hansol pipes up, when they’re again sure Mingyu isn’t going to pass out.
“Like…” Mingyu thinks. “Like…”
Out of his control, a grin starts to spread on Mingyu’s face.
“…it was amazing.”
A sigh of relief sweeps across the room. “There it is,” Seungcheol murmurs.
“Holy shit,” Mingyu says, wondrous, “you guys are right.”
“To be fair,” Soonyoung comments, “you had like, no hesitation with that kissing challenge. I mean, really. You got in there quick.”
“Yeah, I think those two are technically engaged after that kissing,” Jeonghan says.
“I thought it was just me, feeling that way,” Mingyu confesses. There’s an elated feeling unfolding in his chest, making him feel lighter than air, and this time not like he’s going to pass out. “And I told myself it was just normal friend feelings, anyway, like when I wanted to be closer to him during our sleepovers—”
“Don’t you two live together?” Joshua asks. “How can you have sleepovers?”
“It’s when we sleep in the same bed,” Mingyu says. Obviously. “That makes it a sleepover.”
“Oh god,” Seokmin moans.
“Yeah, I knew about that,” Minghao admits.
“We do sleepovers, like, three times a week. Why, is that not regular?” Mingyu asks.
Namjoon looks like he wants to say something, but Seokjin cuts his boyfriend off with a shake of his head.
“So…what do I do now?” Mingyu asks.
Junhui looks at him with disbelief.
“For real?” Chan asks.
“Go fucking confess or whatever!” Jeongguk bursts out.
“Do it!” Seungkwan agrees.
“Really?” Mingyu asks, looking around.
Minghao claps Mingyu on the arm. “Go, dude.”
“Right! Right,” Mingyu says. He runs into the next room to grab his stuff.
“…ten bucks says he’s a bottom,” he hears Jimin murmur as he re-enters the room.
“Hm?” Mingyu asks.
“Nothing!” Jimin sings. “Go, go, good luck!”
Mingyu races out of the room, pulling on his jacket, and nearly trips out the door and onto the snow. God, it is cold as shit. He ignores it, though, moving as fast as he can in the direction of his and Wonwoo’s place. Most of the trip is a blur.
As soon as Mingyu stumbles in the front door, he heads straight to Wonwoo’s room and knocks on the door.
After a long moment, Wonwoo opens up, not looking very pleased. He’s changed into sleep clothes, and he’s got on his glasses, and the combination of his hair and glasses is just. Yeah. It’s nice.
Wonwoo’s blank expression drops when he spots Mingyu’s heaving form. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, I ran here and I slipped three times on the way,” Mingyu dismisses. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Jesus,” Wonwoo says, startled.
“Look,” Mingyu says. “We could care about each other a lot, as much as we do now, and be just friends. Right?”
Wonwoo hesitates, confused. “Right,” he agrees, eyeing Mingyu cautiously.
“Right,” Mingyu echoes, “Namjoon taught me. I get it now.” He takes a deep breath. “But that’s not how I feel about you.”
Wonwoo says, “Oh.”
“I want more than friendship with you,” Mingyu breathes. “Which I realized because I want to make out with you. Like, all the time.”
“Oh,” Wonwoo repeats, looking breathless himself. His cheeks turn really pink.
“And,” Mingyu gestures. “Have sex. And be a real couple. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m in love with you. Just like, overall.”
“Yeah, I got that,” Wonwoo says, looking overwhelmed.
“And, I didn’t realize what was going on until now,” Mingyu continues, “but I think you figured it out way before I did. Like, the thing with Nayoung…” he feels his eyes go wide. “Oh god, I just got what that was all about.”
Wonwoo raises a hand to hide his face again, embarrassed.
And that kiss, tonight, at the game…” Mingyu exhales. “Whoa, I am super into you.”
Wonwoo lowers his hand, and a really sweet, really beautiful smile lights up his face.
Then he pauses. “Wait,” he says, “did you say Namjoon taught you?”
“Yeah, yeah, he did,” Mingyu confirms. “Everyone helped me figure out my feelings.”
“Yeah,” Mingyu says, “all of the people at the party. Like, Chan, and Hoseok, and Jihoon…”
“Oh god,” Wonwoo says.
“…and Jeonghan, and Seungcheol, and Jeongguk,” Mingyu continues, “and Taehyung, and Josh, and Hao and Jun…”
“Please, please stop,” Wonwoo says.
“…and Soonyoung, Namjoon and Seokjin, and Yoongi kind of, and Seokmin and Seungkwan and Jimin and Hansol—”
Wonwoo shuts Mingyu up with a kiss.
Mingyu wraps his arms around Wonwoo, falling into the sensation of Wonwoo’s lips on his, and Wonwoo’s warmth floods Mingyu with heat. Wonwoo lifts a gentle hand to Mingyu’s jaw, and Mingyu, in turn, encircles Wonwoo in his arms. Wonwoo bites his bottom lip, and Mingyu tightens his hold, making Wonwoo startle and jolt out of the kiss.
“Is that…your crown?” Wonwoo asks.
Mingyu extricates his arm from around Wonwoo. “Oh, my god,” he says, surprised at he plastic crown still in his hand. “Yeah, I…must’ve been holding it this whole time. Here.” He drops the crown onto Wonwoo’s head. Wonwoo laughs, startled. “Cute,” Mingyu declares, and Wonwoo almost giggles. His cheeks are flushed from kissing, and his hair’s all mussed, and yeah, he’s just gorgeous.
“Okay,” Wonwoo says, pulling the crown off carefully, and going a little cross-eyed as he does it, “but I’m not wearing this while we have sex.”
Mingyu chokes. “While we—while we what? Oh, okay,” Mingyu fumbles as Wonwoo pulls him by the hand into the room. “Okay, that definitely sounds good, I’m just gonna—shut this door…oh, I was right about the heart boxers! Nice…”
Mingyu jolts into an upright position.
“What?” Wonwoo asks, startled out of sleep. He sits up too, blinking himself awake cutely.
“Wonwoo,” Mingyu hisses, “what if. What if! What if our friends set all this Know Ya Boo stuff up to trick us into realizing our feelings?”
After a moment, Wonwoo laughs. “Do you hear yourself? Mingyu, our friends would never do something like that oh my god they absolutely would.”
“Think about it,” Mingyu continues, “it’s the perfect plan!”
“Everyone would have to be in on it,” Wonwoo points out. “Mingyu, the amount of coordination. It’s too much.”
“But imagine,” Mingyu insists, “they set it up so we’d get ‘pulled’ into the game, on the one night we’re at a party, and then used the questions to lead us to understand that—”
“Holy shit,” Wonwoo says. “Wait, how did they get that spot for us in the game?”
“Yugyeom and BamBam were…sick,” Mingyu says, understanding dawning as he says it aloud. “Shit, we gotta call them.”
Wonwoo hands over Mingyu’s phone, and Mingyu finds BamBam’s number as quick as he can.
“BamBam!” he rushes out as soon as the line picks up. “Dude! BamBam! Dude, it’s Mingyu!”
“Jesus Christ,” BamBam says, harried, “I know, Mingyu, your goddamn number’s in my phone.”
“BamBam, this is important.” Mingyu gulps in a breath. Wonwoo makes an encouraging hand motion. “Are you or Yugyeom really sick tonight? Cause someone said that, and I just, I wanted to make sure.”
From the background of BamBam’s side of the call comes loud, violent retching.
“Does that answer your question?” BamBam snips.
“Ah,” Mingyu says, shame washing over him. “Sorry.”
“Are we done?” BamBam asks. “I kind of have to go help my boyfriend, who is attempting to expel his lungs from his body.”
“No, no, we’re good,” Mingyu mumbles. “Night, sorry for bothering you. Uh, tell Gyeommie I said feel better.”
“Sure, whatever,” BamBam says. “Night. I’m coming, baby,” he shouts on his side, before the line cuts off.
Mingyu drops his phone back on the bed. He and Wonwoo both stare at it for a moment.
“Ah, well,” Wonwoo finally says. “It wasn’t a bad theory.”
“No, I guess not,” Mingyu says, laying back down and resting his head on Wonwoo’s chest. Wonwoo wraps an arm around his shoulders. “Maybe it wasn’t.”
BamBam and Yugyeom are careful to keep totally silent until the line is dead.
“Do you think they believed it?” Yugyeom asks.
“Hell yeah they did,” BamBam gloats.
“I’ll text Soonyoung,” Yugyeom says, giddy, “tell him it worked.”
BamBam smiles. “Nice. You did great, babe.”