Actions

Work Header

i’d fall anywhere with you (i’m by your side)

Work Text:

As far as Renjun is aware, he doesn't believe in soulmates. It seemed entirely unbelievable — the tiny letters appearing on his arm once he hits the tender age of eighteen. The whole thing about fate taking control of their lives and making them believe that another person out there is their one and only soulmate.

It just seemed so, so unfair.

Pardon his language but it's just pure bullshit.

Especially when Renjun doesn't remember any sort of writing left on his arm as soon as he turned eighteen just three months ago. Not even a single hi is embedded on his skin, taking away the tiny hope left within the depths of his soul as each day passes by.

Jeno is different though.

"Injun!" That sweet, melodious laughter rings through the air, breaking Renjun's trail of thoughts. He lifts his gaze and finds Jeno easily slipping through the crowd of student eagerly walking towards the cafeteria to grab a bite before lunch ends.

(It takes everything in Renjun to ignore the butterflies that gently fluttered in his stomach.)

"Oh, you're here." He couldn't help but allow a grin to curl on his lips as he makes space beside him underneath the shade of the tree, where they always hang out every break time.

"Yeah, sorry. Mr. Jung made us stay behind to finish up all those calculus exercises he made." Jeno grimaces before he slips beside the shorter male, body automatically pressing so easily against his side.

(This time, it takes several heartbeats for Renjun to calm himself down and stop his hands shaking in nervousness.)

They've always been like that, always together metaphorically and literally. If one is missing, the other students would constantly question where the other is. The amount of times they were also mistaken as a couple is obviously high, considering that Donghyuck and Jaemin had described them as the cutest non-couple couple in school.

Jeno had joined in on the jokes, declaring Renjun as his long-time soulmate.

("I might even love him more than my actual soulmate!"

"Disgusting lovebirds."

"Shut up, Hyuck.")

Renjun had learned to ignore all of those jokes with a shrug or if he's in the mood, he'll say that Jeno is a better soulmate compared to Hyuck and Jaemin, earning a playful punch from the other two in their friend group.

But lately... his mind had been venturing through other possibilities.

Like what if Jeno is actually his soulmate?

He started to gaze at his best friend with a fresh mindset and he realizes how his stomach seems to flip every time he sees the way Jeno's nose scrunches up when he laughs, the way the corners of his eyes crinkle up when he smiles too widely. The way Jeno subtly pulls him closer with a tug on the hem of his shirt or when he's feeling a little clingy, an arm around his waist whenever he feels like Renjun is pulling away from him.

It's hard not to feel like his heart will just tip over and fall straight to his feet one day.

As much as Renjun hates the idea of anything related to soulmates, he can't deny the feeling of the way his heart squeezed when Jeno came to him with his voice shaking due to pure sadness and disappointment when he showed him his arm the day after his eighteenth birthday.

No words on his skin.

Jeno had practically proclaimed himself as a romantic since they were kids, firmly believing that there's really someone out there for you. Someone who is destined to spend the rest of their life with you, falling in love over and over again.

Renjun can't even describe the vulnerable and heartbroken expression that etched itself on Jeno's face for weeks after that. Sometimes, he'll even space out whilst staring numbly on his arm, desperately wishing for a miracle.

The only time that Renjun had managed to completely break Jeno's heartbroken state is when he grabbed him by the shoulders one night during their weekly sleepovers.

"No words mean there's no soulmate." Renjun harshly whispered once he grabbed hold of Jeno's shoulders. The only sounds that resonate within the walls of the house are hushed mumblings and soft snoring so Renjun attempted to keep his voice low.

Jeno's expression hardened all of a sudden at the sound of his best friend's words. Renjun doesn't know how hard it is for him to accept that so to bring it up so carelessly with a tone so vicious like that made his anger soar.

"Injun—"

"And when you don't have a soulmate, you have the freedom to love whoever you want." This time, his voice softened with eyes carefully gazing at Jeno's dark ones. A stretch of silence resounded in between them as Jeno lets out a deep sigh whilst moving closer, as if asking for any sort of warmth from the other.

"You don't need fate to dictate who you should love, Jeno."

"What if I end up alone one day?"

"You won't," Renjun's thumb gently came across Jeno's cheek, wiping away the stray tear that left the corner of his eyes. If Renjun had paid more attention that night, he could have seen the way Jeno's breathing went uneven slightly.

Breathe.

"Because I'm here for you."

"You promise?"

Renjun held back a sad whimper from leaving his lips.

"I promise."

Something snapped in Jeno since that night, the sweet, cheery laugh finally bouncing off the walls of their school once again. Renjun was mildly worried that day, searching and slipping through the tiny cracks that might reveal any sort of secret that Jeno might be hiding behind his back.

But all Renjun found is the same Jeno he knew for years, the same boy who threw the most corny jokes and often teased as the lamest friend in their group.

(Though now, Renjun's heart seems to react quite differently around the other boy.)

The only difference is the lack of ink that forms the words said by his soulmate on his skin.

"...Injun, are you listening?"

"What?" Renjun pulls away too hastily, enough to arouse suspicion from his best friend. Jeno doesn't seem to hear the low sound of the curse that left Renjun's lips as soon as he leaned in close to press the back of his hand against his forehead to check for his temperature.

"Huh, you seem fine."

"Of course, why wouldn't I be?" The nervous laughter that Renjun emits gets an arched brow from Jeno in response but thankfully, he doesn't push the issue further, tossing it as one of those times that Renjun randomly spaces out. And god, Renjun is more than thankful that he doesn't pry like that because honestly, he's on the edge of telling Jeno that hey, maybe I'm in love with you and who knows, you might be my soulmate too.

Sounds strangely pathetic.

"Anyway, as I was saying, I have practice today since Coach Choi is being too hard on us now. I might be home late already so I can't come over."

"Wait, what? What about our weekly sleepovers? It's your turn tonight to stay in my house." Renjun sulks, earning a laugh from the other as he gently pats his cheek to try and get his mood up. The smaller boy coughs too loudly, cheeks coloring as he uses his book to hurriedly hide the bottom half of his face.

"Sorry, Jun. I'll make it up next week! I promise."

"Really?" That seem to do the trick as Renjun lifts his gaze back to Jeno's soulful eyes as the other nods his head all too eagerly, taking hold of Renjun's hands in his own.

(This time, it takes almost fifteen heartbeats to even find his voice and another fifteen to manage to soothe down his excited, stupidly in love heart.)

"I'll buy the snacks next week. You can even pick the movies!"

"...And you won't complain?"

"Never. Not even a word of complaint, I swear." Renjun heaves a sigh before finally surrendering, the offer is all too sweet and tempting anyway. Jeno pulls him into a tight, bone-crushing hug as he gives him a squeeze.

"Thank you for understanding, Jun."

(He loses count of how many heartbeats it takes for him to even find the words that are on the tip of his tongue already.)

"It's no problem."

"I need to go now. Wait, here." Jeno slips a pack of candy on Renjun's palm and Renjun has gotten amazingly good at ignoring the way every touch from his best friend electrifies him.

"For being the bestest friend in the world!"

"Bestest isn't a word."

"Who cares? You're still the bestest friend!" The sound of the shrill bell ringing from a distance is enough for them to finally have the sense to break apart as Jeno gently touches his arm, fingers hovering where the supposed invisible mark is placed.

"I'll see you, Injun."

Breathe.

"Okay, Jeno."

-

Renjun's backpack softly lands on the floor beside his feet as soon as he takes a step inside the house. It's strangely quiet — his parents tend to be out during the weekend so to battle with the deafening silence, they've arranged a sleepover with Jeno so Renjun would feel a little less lonelier than usual.

His feet gently patters on the floor as he drags his bag along with him, shoulders dropped due to the exhaustion of today's events. School has been mind-numbing nowadays, especially since it's requirements week.

He hurriedly walks up the wooden stairs, the only sound bouncing off the four walls of their house is his unsteady breathing and the beat of his feet as he takes each step closer to his room.

It really does feel strange and empty without Jeno around. He's not entirely sure when he started being so dependant on Jeno to get rid of the loneliness linked deep within his body but he hates the feeling. He pushes the door open and his eyes land on the clock hung just a little above his desk.

9:30 P.M.

Maybe he's home now.

His hand hovers his phone, stilling for a moment before he shakes his head in pure frustration.

It's fine. He doesn't need Jeno to have fun. He doesn't need to be clingy around his best friend all the time. That's just weird.

(It takes several minutes of Renjun fighting himself, fingers always almost touching the screen of his phone. At the end, he surrenders to his stubborn self and puts the phone away.

Out of sight, out of mind.)

Fridays are reserved for movie nights with your best friend but plans can change. Jeno is out and Renjun is just bored out of his mind, opting to finish up the remaining homework he has for the rest of the weekend.

As much as Renjun is elated over the fact that he convinced Jeno to stop believing fate and start controlling his own destiny, he still finds himself spacing out with his fingers pressed down on his forearm, wondering what would have happened if he ever had those marks that everyone else has.

Maybe it's because of the sudden itch that slipped itself underneath the sleeves of his hoodie. Maybe because the thought about soulmates and his best friend popped in his head, he felt the urge to just... check.

He doesn't know why — why his stomach feels like it's flipping a thousand times, making himself sick. Why his heart is hammering against his chest way too loudly, drowning out the ludicrous thoughts planted in his head.

He pulls and rolls up the sleeve of his hoodie and of course, his arm is—

No.

That's not right.

His eyes gaze over at the freshly inked mark on across his skin, standing out amidst the brightly lit room.

No, that's impossible.

He might have written this, right? While he was bored in class with his pen in his hand, he might have written this.

There's just no way in hell that this can happen.

His heart is stuck in his throat as he rushes to the bathroom, almost tripping over his feet but he ignores the slight pain caused by his clumsiness as he makes his way to the sink. His hand wraps itself around the knob, turning it hurriedly as he holds out his arm underneath the cold, running water.

It's freezing but Renjun ignores it as he rubs his hand against the mark.

It didn't even leave a smudge on the pads of his fingers.

He rubs harder, his heart beating faster as he turns the knob more, the flow of running water coming out too fast and too cold for his taste.

He swiftly grabs a bar of soap, rubbing it harshly against his skin and god, oh fuck—

It's not coming off.

Renjun shakes his head as he numbly turns off the faucet, his back meeting the tiled wall as he attempts to make sense of his sudden... miracle. It's been months and the mark only appeared now.

Is this a practical joke? Did he fell asleep in the middle of class and his classmates did this? Or is he inside one of those dreams, rooted from his deepest desire to maybe have a soulmate? 

To have Jeno as his soulmate? 

With his arm shaking, he raises it to carefully piece the words together, hoping to weave the words into an understandable sentence.

I'll see you, Injun.

He can't breathe.

The whole room feels like it's spinning out of control and Renjun's trail of thoughts is out of balance.

This doesn't make sense.

No, no. He shouldn't have the mark. They didn't appear months ago, on the morning after his birthday. It certainly can't appear now, especially when his feelings for Jeno are tangled between being his best friend or his... boyfriend.

It's just a practical joke. An ink that can't be easily washed off. Someone must have written this, an asshole that thinks playing with the idea of fate is hilarious and mercilessly giving false hope to the unfortunate ones.

One.

Breathe.

Two.

Just breathe.

Three.

The back of his head gently meets the tiled wall behind him but at least his breathing is back to normal again. His eyes flutter shut as he swallows down the imaginary lump stuck in his throat but still, he feels sick to his stomach.

He doesn't know how he got the strength to stand up and slip back out of the bathroom, as if he didn't have a mental breakdown inside. His feet falls into step in the path towards his room and soon, his body is buried deep within the covers of his pristine, white sheets.

On Fridays, he would have decided to sleep in the sleeping bags that Jeno always insists to keep in his closet or down in the living room, cuddled against Jeno's side comfortably. But Jeno isn't here and Renjun is all too confused, heart thumping against his chest way too loudly.

Maybe if he stayed up a little more, he would have heard his phone ring. Maybe he could have told his best friend all about the mysterious mark on his forearm.

Maybe he would have been a little less lonely tonight.

-

"Slept well last night?" Those are the first words that escape Jeno's lips as soon as Renjun swings the door open. He rolls his eyes playfully as the taller male makes his way inside the house, the sound of the chips resound within his bag as Jeno puts it down on the couch.

"Absolutely. There's no one crushing my body in the middle of the night."

"I don't do that!"

"Sure, Jeno." Renjun emits a laugh, drawing it out into a soft yawn as he stretches his arms in the air. His heart stops when he sees last night's mark is slowly sticking out underneath the sleeves of his hoodie, hurriedly rolling them down, even though it's hot in the morning.

No, not yet. Jeno can't know about it yet.

He gulps down his anxiety, letting it settle uncomfortable at the pit of his stomach as he approaches his best friend reclining on the couch, eagerly bringing out the chips that he kept in his backpack.

"Here! I bought all your favorites." Jeno speaks animatedly, hand immediately reaching for the remote but Renjun slaps his hand away, taking it out of his hold.

"No, I thought we made a deal!"

"That deal? I said it was for our next sleepover." The corners of Renjun's lips curl down into a frown but Jeno simply flashed his pearly whites at him, hoping to charm him off his feet.

(It works all the goddamn time.)

"Fine but please, anything but sports." Jeno jokingly scrunched up his nose, imitating a frown that Renjun is sporting before he pats the space beside him. Renjun manages to make himself comfortable right on the couch before he snuggles up against Jeno's side, hand lightly clutching the hem of his shirt.

"Want to watch Finding Nemo?"

Renjun lets his eyes gaze over at the mark peeking out beneath the thick sleeve.

Tomorrow.

"Okay."

(He never tells him about the mark he has the next day.

Nor the day after that.)

-

"Renjun?" The tone of amusement and surprise is clearly evident in Donghyuck's voice when Renjun steps inside the gymnasium, his sneakers echoing loudly in time with the basketball players' warm-up. Renjun's cheeks color themselves in red tint as he coughs, covering up his embarrassment.

One thing that Renjun hates is the school's obsession with school spirit, loudly proclaiming every single morning to "support the school's team!" But of course, the school's blatant favoritism is directed at the basketball team, who never failed to win every championship game for the past ten years.

Of course they won't let Jeno's batch of teammates ruin their winning streak so Coach Choi is indeed going harder on them than usual, yelling out orders and strict orders of pay attention, do you hear me?!

No one has to look twice to see the exhaustion and fright written all over the team's faces, trying to battle through the coach's orders.

Renjun shuddered, shivers running down his spine as he takes his seat right beside Donghyuck on the bleachers. it's not like any of them hate their school coach but he does tend to be a little too harsh for anyone's liking.

"You never go to any of the basketball team's practices, even when Jeno begged you to. Unless," Donghyuck narrows his eyes in suspicion and Renjun ignores the growing anxiety living in his stomach, "he threatened you?"

"That's idiotic. Jeno's smiling all the time, he doesn't look frightening at all."

"Holy shit, you haven't seen the way he looked at one of the juniors when we were cooking for them. He straight out called him a mochi then stabbed a mochi with a fork while smiling at him. Dude's creepy as hell, you know." The sound of the whistle bouncing off the walls breaks their flow of conversation as the team takes their respective place.

It's not all that hard for Renjun to spot Jeno — he's standing near Yukhei with Mark just hovering at his side, probably giving instructions and advice. He takes several heartbeats for Renjun to take in Jeno's whole sporty look and Renjun stares a little longer at the bandage wrapped firmly around his arm. It might have been from an accident, Renjun pulls on the corners of his lips into a frown at the thought of it. But his thoughts vanish when Jeno’s eyes start scanning the small crowd of students situated on the bleachers. Oh god, he's so sure that his heart just went wild when their eyes met for a very brief moment.

The shock is obvious on Jeno's expression but he's swift to dismiss everything as soon as another whistle blow echoes inside the gymnasium.

Renjun is caught breathless at the way Jeno moves and weaves his way through the crowd of players gracefully. No wonder he’s one of the most popular players in the team — in the whole school, in fact. Aside from the the obvious that he’s insanely good-looking, he’s actually really great player. Renjun is too focused on the practice game in front of him that Donghyuck has land a slap across his arm, earning a painful wince from the former and a glare directed at his friend.

“What the hell?”

“You’re ignoring me!”

“I didn’t come here for you, anyway. Stop talking to me.” Instead of backing off upon hearing the annoyance etched in Renjun’s tone, Donghyuck simply pulls on his sleeve, a mischievous smile curling on his lips. Just setting his sight on it is enough for Renjun to roll his eyes but he can still feel the nervousness running through his veins. He knows that Donghyuck won’t back off until he gets the answer out of his friend and Renjun is not looking forward to blurting out his crush on Jeno.

“You’re here to see your crush, aren’t you?”

“What?” Disbelief is evident in Renjun’s voice but Donghyuck pointedly ignores it, throwing down his almost empty bag of chips on the seat next to him before scooting closer to start discreetly pointing fingers at the different players, naming them rapidly.

“Yukhei hyung?”

“No.”

“Jungwoo hyung?”

“What the heck, no!”

“Don’t tell me it’s Mark!” Donghyuck’s voice is annoyingly loud and if it’s not for the rest of the team playing around and the other student screaming and cheering for their favorite player, the half of the gymnasium would have heard their conversation already. Renjun pulls his arm out of his hold, huffing loudly as he puts the back of his hand against his cheek, noting how visibly warm it is.

“It’s not, okay? I don’t have a crush.” Donghyuck stares at him with a scrutinizing gaze before he arches a brow, picking up the bag of chips once again to rummage through it, picking out the bits of chips left instead.

“So, you’re really just here for Jeno?” The edge of his voice is dripping with suspicion but Renjun remains stone-faced, only heaving a deep sigh afterwards as he nods his head carefully, his eyes naturally following every move that Jeno makes on the court. It takes a moment but Donghyuck finally gives up, opting to finish up the bag of chips before hastily pulling out some candies from his bag, unwrapping one and popping it in his mouth.

“I feel like… you’re still not saying the truth.”

Renjun gulps.

Of course, he should have known that Donghyuck would never back out until he gets the answer he wants to hear. And the truth is painfully laying on the tip of Renjun’s tongue, ready to slip past his lips in any moment right now. Just a few more prodding from his friend can make him blurt it out.

The itch is back — settling on last night’s mark left on his arm (a horrible joke that Jeno must have cracked to his teammates since Renjun heard them laughing, calling him lame once more when he passed by the basketball team’s lockers yesterday). Maybe if he pulled on the sleeve of his sweater lower, Donghyuck wouldn’t have seen it but the mark is too obvious and suspicious to ignore.

Before Renjun can even register what’s happening, Donghyuck has already pulled on his arm, the sleeve hiking up to show off the dark ink embedded on his skin. A gasp leaves his lips at the sight of it and Renjun yanks his arm away, cheeks bright red as he rolls down his sleeve but what’s the use of it when his friend has seen it already?

“Is that…” It’s a sensitive topic to both Renjun and Jeno so Jaemin and Donghyuck never brought it up, except for the time when the duo came to them to reveal the truth. Renjun stays mute, lips shut tightly but the truth is already laid bare in front of them. It would be hard to simply not address the elephant in the room.

“… Yes.”

“Oh.” For the first time, Donghyuck is rendered speechless, the questions just hanging off from his lips, ready to fall off any time. Renjun is quick to sense it, chest feeling heavier as he lets his gaze run over to his friend, lower lip quivering in both nervousness and fright.

“How…?”

“Two weeks ago. When Jeno couldn’t go to our weekly sleepovers, I was alone in the house. I was doing in my homework when it suddenly… appeared. I tried washing it off but it wouldn’t come off.” The whistle blow cuts through their conversation again as the players take a break, moving around in a loose circle as they discuss today’s play. For the first time since Donghyuck started attending the practices just to cheer on Mark, he ignores the team and swiftly holds Renjun’s hand.

“Does Jeno know—”

“No. No, god,” The sob is just at the base of throat, slowly climbing up but Renjun desperately swallows it down, chest shaking as he grips Donghyuck’s hand tighter, “I wanted to tell him but I know it would break his heart. He’s the only one among us who doesn’t have the mark.”

Renjun expects him to argue, push the matter further to just try and convince him to say the truth to Jeno. But he never expected the gentle squeeze on his fingers with a softened gaze directed at him with a sad smile gracing his lips.

“I know it’s hard for you so you don’t have to tell him now. But you’ll have to tell him one day.” Renjun nods, heart crying as he needed those words so bad. He’s been struggling with himself, just itching to suddenly pull up the sleeve of his hoodies and sweaters and show off the mark to Jeno, gently explain to him that he got a miracle out of nowhere, an unworthy blessing from fate.

“Do you know who’s your soulmate already?” It’s such a soft whisper that left Donghyuck’s lips, barely heard by almost anybody but Renjun catches it in the midst of all the chattering and cheers around him. He doesn’t answer — he simply lets his gaze rest on Jeno, who’s sitting on the bench, gulping down a bottle of water as Yukhei laughs over some remark that came from Mark and lands a playful punch on Jeno’s shoulder. Donghyuck is fast, eyes locking on the same person before he glances back at Renjun with wide eyes.

“The first words I saw that night,” Renjun says first, voice keeping the same volume as Donghyuck was speaking to him a while ago, “It said, ‘I’ll see you, Injun.’”

Renjun swallows thickly.

“I didn’t see you nor Jaemin that day. He’s the only one who said that and calls me Injun.”

Donghyuck stays silent, hand still clamped comfortably around Renjun’s, giving it another reassuring squeeze. He doesn’t know what to say anymore — everything is actually still sinking down, his mind attempting to understand the sudden turn of events. Hell, he doesn’t know how to break it to Renjun, once Jaemin steps in the picture.

Jaemin does arrive a second later, laughing with two other boys that Renjun recognizes as Chenle and Jisung from the lower years. Donghyuck gripped his hand tightly before suddenly releasing it from his hold, sending Renjun into a fit of confusion as he notices the way Donghyuck pales up beside him upon seeing the three boys enter the gymnasium.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” Renjun is beyond worried as he watches Donghyuck carefully, seeing the other suddenly tenses up before he avoids the question, mumbling a very vague answer under his breath. He doesn’t push it but the worry is still residing at the bottom of his stomach as he watches Jaemin easily walk up to the rest of team, not failing to see the way Jeno practically brightens up at the sight of him.

It’s not just a simple excitement of seeing your friend visit you in the middle of your practice to cheer you on. It’s… entirely something else.

His chest hurts as he keeps his gaze locked on the two of them, seeing Jaemin slide up easily on the empty spot beside Jeno and hand him a fresh towel and a bottle of cold water. Even when they’re a little too far away, a fool can see the way Jeno’s eyes twinkle, the corners of his eyes crinkling up as he flashes a grin, lips mouthing the words “thank you.”

“How long have they been so close like that?”

“What do you m-mean?” Renjun knows that Donghyuck is playing dumb with the way his voice suddenly stutters at the end of his sentence, eyes wide as he grips the edge of his seat. They both know that Jaemin and Jeno have been very close friends, they actually knew each other first before Renjun and Donghyuck stepped in the picture. So, it’s just… natural, isn’t it? For Jeno to feel like that.

But why does Renjun feel so heart-broken and replaced over it?

“Nevermind.” The way the word rolls off Renjun’s tongue, punctuating it with a sort of finality in his voice, that Donghyuck simply nods his head, cutting off the rest of conversation.

(Renjun spends the rest of the practice with his heart breaking into pieces every time he sees the way both of them light up at the sight of each other’s faces.)

-

“Should I really do it?” His voice comes out as a mumble as he sits on the edge of his seat, hand clutching his phone too tightly as he presses his against his ear. He can hear the way Donghyuck sighs on the other end, along with the sound of the pages of a book being flipped before it’s slammed shut forcefully.

“Listen, Jun,” His chair scrapes against the floor and Renjun lightly winces at the sound, eyes fluttering shut for a moment as he tries to ignore the incoming headache, “he’s your soulmate.”

“I’m not… sure of that.”

“Stop lying to yourself, Renjun! Jeno is your soulmate. He doesn’t belong to Jaemin.” Renjun lets out a bitter laugh before his hand balls up into a fist, heaving a deep sigh as he opens his eyes. His book lays open in front of him, a mathematical equation but he doesn’t bother to answer it, shutting it close.

“We aren’t even sure if they actually like each other…” Donghyuck trails off and Renjun can still feel the imaginary lump blocking out the words that he wanted to say. They’re hanging off on the edge of his tongue but something stops him cold, resolving to simply let out a very quiet whimper, quiet enough that Donghyuck doesn’t even hear it.

“But what if they do?”

“It’s still not right—”

“But I told Jeno that he’s free to like anyone! And now that we know that he’s my soulmate, should he be forced to like me now?” It takes a moment for Renjun to compose himself and not to let out a cry. His heart just… hurts so much. He hates how feelings overwhelm to the point that he doesn’t know how to differentiate them anymore. They all seem like a tangled mess in front of him now and there’s no way to untangle them.

“Jun, I’m sure that somewhere along the way, Jeno can learn to love you.”

“And if he doesn’t?” Donghyuck doesn’t answer but they know the bare truth is simply written in the air.

“Hey, cheer up, kiddo.”

“I’m older than you though.” Despite the hurt in his chest, Renjun manages to allow a laugh to escape his lips, body leaning forward to rest against the desk. Donghyuck lets himself join in, a cheery laugh leaving his mouth before they quiet down and spend a comfortable silence over the phone.

“Even when Jeno doesn’t end up liking you, you’ll find someone who’ll love you wholeheartedly.”

“Really?” Renjun sniffles and holds his phone closer to his ear as he hears the hum that left Donghyuck’s lips. On normal circumstances, Donghyuck would make fun of him getting emotional and crying but the situation is different now. He knows that Renjun needs someone right now.

“I promise.” Somehow, Renjun’s chest begins hurting at the sound of those words. Those are the exact same words that he echoed to Jeno when there were still blank marks on their skins and Jeno is breaking down in front of him. He doesn’t want to break him again.

“Thank you.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay? And let me copy your answers for the homework!” Renjun rolls his eyes but he still laughs, nodding his head despite the fact that Donghyuck can’t see it.

“Fine, I’ll see you tomorrow.” It’s the click, the sound of the phone call ending that Renjun finds the loneliness unsettling. He should be at least a little familiar or comfortable with it but years later, he still finds himself wrapping the blankets around his body tighter than necessary, wanting the comfort of someone close to him.

The clock is nearing ten in the evening and Renjun catches his breath as he sees the few minutes ticking by on the clock. It’s always right on time — the words on his arm changing almost immediately in a blink of an eye. The anxiety grows more and more as he waits as a minute counts down to ten seconds. He counts it off, mouthing the words as he allows his eyes to run down on his arm, shutting them close as he allows the element of surprise to settle in.

Three.

Two.

One.

Renjun opens his eyes.

At first, he can’t make sense of the words written on his skin. They look like a messy, blurry line and it takes everything for Renjun to focus his attention entirely on it.

It might be the biggest mistake of his life.

I think I like Jaemin.

-

I think I like Jaemin.

I think I like Jaemin.

I think I like Jaemin.

It takes little effort for Renjun to imagine the words that were said — hell, he can even read the words in Jeno’s voice. He can see the way the twinkle in Jeno’s eyes as he animatedly tells the person about how amazing Jaemin is and god, Renjun feels entirely heartbroken now. If there’s any sense of hope left in him, it would have been crushed already when he allowed those words to sink deep within his soul.

“Injun!” Maybe it’s the way that Jeno says his name with so much eagerness and excitement that Renjun’s heart actually jumps, anticipating his presence. Jeno runs up to him, cheeks flushed but his smile is so wide that his eyes are crinkling at the corners once more. No wonder everyone is head-over-heels for him — even his smile can do wonders to Renjun’s soft heart.

Renjun would have ran to another way, avoiding his best friend but he’s too close and there’s no crowd that he can easily slip into so he can disappear along with the others. Besides, it might hurt Jeno if he realizes that Renjun is actively finding ways to avoid him. It’s not like he can say that the reason is that he’s hurt over how Jeno likes Jaemin—

Oh god, he really needs to start avoiding those thoughts too.

“Jeno, where have you been?”

“P-Practice. I saw you and I… ran.” Jeno catches his breath, his hair fresh from the shower as he lets himself lean close to Renjun’s side.

(It takes countless heartbeats for Renjun to find the courage to grab hold of Jeno’s waist and pull him close, letting Jeno use him as a support. His heart can’t stop beating so fast against his chest.)

“Sorry, I was swamped with school work.” It’s not entirely a lie — he really is swamped with too much work, to the point that he exhausts himself late at night, head pounding with too many equations to memorize. But he’d rather have that than overwhelm himself with too many thoughts about soulmates and his best friend liking someone else.

But still, it's not the whole truth either and it makes him sick to his stomach to straight out lie to his best friend's face.

Jeno seems to buy it, seeing how he whines about how much he misses Renjun a lot and every word that leaves his lips makes Renjun want to completely combust, just so he won't have to deal with the way his heart is hammering like crazy against his chest.

"Jeno," Renjun gently interjects in between Jeno's ramblings. For someone who used to be oddly quiet, he's actually quite talkative when they're not around with anyone else. Jeno raises a brow, choosing to grab Renjun's arm in his hold as he pulls him close to his side.

No one else is around.

Should he say it now?

"Do you... like someone right now?" Jeno's eyes widen in surprise, certainly not expecting such question to pop but he's swift enough to regain his composure.

"No, why?"

Oh... he lied.

Why did he lie?

Renjun swallows thickly, choosing to push the matter even more.

"No reason. I just thought that maybe you have your eyes on someone right now."

Jeno's cheeks color themselves a pink tint, coughing loudly to cover up the embarrassment. Normally, Renjun would tease him, pulling on his flushed cheeks but the answer that Jeno will give him will either give him enough hope to push through or completely crush his heart in the most merciless way available.

"I-I'm not comfortable with that."

So, he really likes Jaemin.

A bitter smile graces Renjun's lips but he forces himself to at least make it a sincere, apologetic smile, gently patting the other's shoulder in a friendly manner.

"It's fine. You should push through it. I told you that you're free to love anybody you want."

There's an indescribable emotion that passes through Jeno's eyes too quickly, not giving Renjun enough time to decipher it before it completely dissipates as his lips formed into a sweet smile.

"I know. I'm just worried that he might not like me back."

"That's stupid. Who wouldn't like you?"

The smile that Jeno offers this time is almost sad. The kind of smile that doesn't reach his eyes as he shakes his head in disbelief, gently squeezing Renjun's arm in his grip before pulling away slightly.

"Want me to walk you home?"

Renjun searches for any hint, for any clue that can reveal all the hidden emotions that Jeno is keeping within himself but all he see right now is am overjoyed boy, looking like he got reunited with the best thing in the world.

(This time, it takes Renjun twenty heartbeats before he nods his head in agreement. The smile that Jeno gives him makes him feel like he just made the greatest decision of his life.)

-

The sound of the sneakers against the pavement catches Renjun's attention, spotting Donghyuck carefully tiptoe his way through the amount of discarded cardboard boxes and plastic bags lying around.

"Why did you pick this place? This looks abandoned and creepy."

"It's just at the back of the school."

"Still! I didn't know that our school has a place like this." Donghyuck huffs, taking a seat at a nearby crater as he puts down his backpack on his lap, glancing at Renjun, who's fidgeting and walking around in circles with furrowed eyebrows.

"What happened?" Renjun doesn't answer first, his teeth gnawing on his lower lip as he calms himself, his anxiety levels hitting the roof as he repeats the sentence etched on his skin a few days ago and the conversation he had with Jeno.

"Jeno." That seems to catch Donghyuck's full attention as he shifts his position, his upper body leaning closer in interest. Renjun heaves a frustrated sigh, feet finally stopping in front of his friend as he grips the hem of his hoodie.

"What about him?" Donghyuck starts off slow, a little afraid that Renjun might just burst if he pushes the matter suddenly, without any warning beforehand. A few heartbeats of stretched silence between them before Renjun finds the courage to say the words laying on the edge of his lips.

"Jeno... really likes Jaemin." It's the beat of silence that scares Renjun, knowing that Donghyuck is going to start off another never-ending argument between them. Oh boy, does he wish that he was wrong.

"No, that's still wrong! Jeno is your soulmate. Jaemin is not his soulmate!" The sudden rise in Donghyuck's voice, coupled with the hint of anger and frustration, is the reason why he ends up on his feet, approaching Renjun with a deep frown tugging on the corners of his lips.

"We're still not sure—"

"Not sure? Goddamn, fate wouldn't make a mistake like that! You have your damn mark since weeks ago and nothing can change the fact that Jeno is really your soulmate."

"You're wrong! I didn't even have this mark since my birthday and it just appeared now! Tell me that that isn't a mistake at all."

It might have been the way they were raising their voices at each other, anger laced clearly in their tones. It might have been the way they no longer paid attention if there's someone just hovering near them, listening to their heated conversation. Maybe if they took a breather and stepped back, the secret wouldn't have been spilled like that.

"Injun?" It's Jaemin's voice that breaks the argument rising between Donghyuck and Renjun. They all halt their words, attention hurriedly turning to the intruder.

Two intruders, in fact.

Renjun swallows the lump in his throat when he sees Jeno looking at them in confusion, eyes wide in worry as he approaches the two of them slowly with Jaemin trailing behind.

"Jeno, I—"

"You have the mark?"

Renjun is caught breathless at his words, feet automatically stepping back when Jeno takes a step forward with his expression slowly taking on a hurt-filled one.

He wants to lie so, so badly but with the way Jaemin is glancing at him with pity and regret, together with Donghyuck sending him looks of encouragement to finally spill the truth, he couldn't lie at all.

"Yes." This time, it's Jeno who stops moving forward, feet planted on the ground firmly as he lets Renjun's answer sink in completely. The silence is uncomfortable as Jeno finally lifts his gaze, eyes filled with nothing but pure hurt and betrayal.

"Listen, I'm sor—"

"I need to go. S-Sorry." Renjun only watches in shock as Jeno's feet suddenly takes off, seeing his best friend run in the opposite direction. It just won't register in his head that Jeno just left so abruptly that he needed a look of confirmation coming from Jaemin and Donghyuck before a soft whimper escapes his lips, voice already turning into a shaky tone.

"Jun, I'm sorry. He was trying to find you and if I knew this would happen, I wouldn't have encouraged him to look around." The apology spills quickly from Jaemin's lips but Renjun only shakes his head as he sinks down, taking a seat on the crater in a dazed manner as he clutches his head.

"It's fine, Nana. It's not your fault." There must have been a conversation between Donghyuck and Jaemin but all Renjun hears is a soft "Okay." from Jaemin before he feels a hand gently lands on his shoulder.

"I'll talk to Jeno, all right?" Renjun doesn't have it in him to argue, nodding his head slowly as Jaemin bids him goodbye, feet already taking off in the same direction that Jeno took just a moment ago.

Donghyuck doesn't say anything — his arms slide around Renjun's frame and soon, he finds the older boy swiftly sinking his embrace, sobbing his heart out.

Maybe if Jeno knew how much hurt and guilt that Renjun carries with him every day, maybe he would've stayed.

Maybe.

-

The person you are trying to call is unreachable. Please try again la—

Renjun shuts off his phone in frustration, hearing that message repeat over and over for the past two hours. He's afraid of running after Jeno when he took off a while ago — he doesn't want to face the consequences of his best friend actually hating him because he hid such a huge secret. What's worse is that someone else has known about it first before Jeno, always as if it's a hidden message that Jeno can't be trusted with such secret.

Renjun runs his hand through his hair, heaving a deep sigh as his gaze travels to the clock hanging over his desk.

7:10 P.M.

Jeno should be home already. He doesn't have practice today.

The thought runs through his head, stilling for a moment before it dissipates into nothingness as the mark makes its appearance underneath the sleeve of his hoodie.

The sentence must have came from one of Jeno's rants to him yesterday when they walked home together.

I'm so tired, I just want to spend time with you again.

His heart aches, eyes repeatedly reading the small, black letters embedded on his skin. He misses the other boy just as much — his days have been a dull blur without the sound of Jeno's laughter every time a corny joke is thrown at him.

He misses Jeno so much.

A sigh echoes in his room as he tugs down on the sleeve uselessly, eyes fluttering shut for a moment before he rises his feet abruptly. His feet hurriedly patters against the wooden floor as he makes his way down the stairs, snagging up his backpack sitting on the couch.

He just can't let this day pass by without telling Jeno how he feels.

-

The house is well-lit, signalling that there's an occupant inside. It takes every bit of Renjun's soul to wish that Jeno is inside and that hopefully, his anger has disappeared already. He slowly makes his way to the front porch, a hand already hovering on the doorbell before he presses on it hurriedly.

Not even a minute later, there's a muffled voice coming from the other side of the door, sounding similar to Jaemin's.

"Injun!" Jaemin greets him with a cheery tone, an arm wrapping itself around his shoulder to lead him inside the house. Renjun can already feel the anxiety residing at the pit of his stomach, only intensifying when Jeno comes into view. He's seated on the couch, a controller in his hands as he pours his own irritation into the video game, fingers rapidly hitting the buttons to form a combo.

“Jeno?” He doesn’t respond, only hitting the volume to make it louder as he stubbornly ignores the pair of boys waiting behind him. Jaemin lets out an exasperated sigh, shoulders dropping as he pulls on the hem of Renjun’s sleeve, guiding him to another part of the room. The movement of their feet barely heard above the loud sound of the guns and hits resounding from the large screen in front of them.

“I tried talking to him, Jun. But as you can see,” Jaemin gestures to the black-haired boy sitting idly on the couch, still not moving from his spot, “he insists on releasing his anger through that.”

“It’s fine! Really.” Renjun can feel the guilt tugging on his heartstrings — Jaemin shouldn’t be involved in their fight, even if he’s the love interest of Jeno at the moment. He has done nothing wrong, after all.

“Jeno is such an idiot. I don’t know why he’s being like this.” He spares Renjun a look filled with pity before lightly patting his shoulder before tugging him close for a quick hug. Renjun stiffens for a moment before relaxing in his embrace, arms naturally wrapping around the other’s figure before they break away with Jaemin still looking at him warily.

“Is it true? About the ma—”

“Yes.” Renjun is swift to answer and Jaemin’s eyes widen in disbelief, a huff escaping his lips as he rubs his face with palm.

“God, he really is an idiot. Are you sure you’ll be okay?”

“I’ll be fine, I promise.” Jaemin simply knits his eyebrows in worry, gaze travelling from Renjun to Jeno before he raises his hands in surrender, finally giving up on the situation. Renjun mouths a ‘it’s fine’ in his direction before he slowly makes his way back to where Jeno is, his heart beating wildly against his rib cage. He can’t somehow shake the nervousness running through his veins.

“Jeno.”

No response.

“Jeno, please.”

“Nana, can you get him out—”

“No, Jeno. You guys need to talk.” Jaemin makes his way in front of his television and Jeno lets out a frustrated sigh, hands releasing the controller in his hold. Renjun is quick to send thanks to the stars above for that Jaemin is around because honestly, he wouldn’t be able to handle the situation properly.

“Why do I need to talk to him?”

“I’m literally just sitting beside you.”

“I can’t hear anything!” Jeno is hilariously stubborn and childish but Renjun can compete with that.

“I won’t leave until we talk!”

“I’m sorry but did you hear something, Jaemin? Must be the wind or something.”

“Oh god, I’m not going to stay here anymore. Bye.” Jaemin narrows his eyes at Jeno, lightly pinching his cheek before Renjun gets a pat on the head from him, a quiet encouragement from the other to continue to push the matter between them. Renjun lets out a sigh once Jaemin slips out of the house, the silence getting deafening again before he reaches out to lightly tug on Jeno’s sleeve, voice shaking as the imaginary lump takes its place back in his throat, making the words much harder to say.

“Can we please talk?”

It’s a beat or two of silence before Jeno’s shoulders drop, finally letting down the facade before he glances at Renjun with sad eyes, nodding his head in defeat as he rises to his feet, leading the way to his room with the smaller male trailing behind him anxiously. They slip inside the room with Jeno taking his seat on the edge of the bed while Renjun shuts the door carefully, resting his back against it.

“What is it?”

“I’m sorry. For not letting you know about the mark. For keeping it from you and the fact that you’re not the first person I went to when it appeared. I’m so, so sorry.” He speaks quickly, the words just mindlessly spilling from his lips as his feet unconsciously take a step closer with every word spoken. He’s just not used to this — apologizing to Jeno. They rarely fight and even then, Jeno is usually the first one to drop the act, pulling the boy into his arms as a quiet apology. But Renjun knows this fight can’t go by without him apologizing, it would feel wrong of him to do that.

“I should have told you. I should have shown it to you. I—”

“Why didn’t you show it to me earlier?”

Renjun pauses in between his words, his teeth anxiously gnawing on his lower lip as he takes his seat beside Jeno.

“I was afraid that I might break your heart if you found out about it.”

“Injun, I’m your best friend. I wouldn’t be mad at you.”

“But I’m the one who doesn’t believe in fate, in soulmates and yet, I got the mark.” The expression on Jeno’s face only softens as he reaches out to gently squeeze Renjun’s hand in his hold. Renjun can’t deny that his heart flipped at the gesture.

“When did you get it?” Renjun heaves a sigh, shoulders dropping at the sound of the question. No use to avoid it, just spill the truth, right?

“The day when you couldn’t go to one of our sleepovers. It suddenly appeared.” Jeno’s eyes widen comically, his hand automatically reaching out to grab hold of Renjun’s sleeve to pull it up, showing off the mark stained on his skin. He reads it, lips moving along as he mouths the words before he releases it in disbelief, his gaze meeting Renjun’s confused stare at him.

“You… got this on that day?” Renjun is so, so confused at the sudden turn of the conversation, nodding his head quietly before Jeno hastily shows off his bandaged arm, pulling it off with ease as the mark appears on his skin.

No, how can that happen…?

Renjun’s hand wrap itself around Jeno’s arm, pulling it close to him as he lets his eyes run through the words, eyes widening as the sentence register itself in his head properly.

I know, I missed hanging out with you too.

“Is this real?” His voice comes out as a whisper as the pad of his thumb grazes along the letters, feeling the tiny bumps of each curve and stroke. He just couldn’t believe it — he remembers saying those exact words to Jeno so it just means that… they’re soulmates.

“I got it on the same day you got yours. I was in a nearby cafe and it appeared out of the blue. I was so surprised that I screamed so loud that the manager almost kicked me out for disrupting the other customers.” Jeno lets out an embarrassed laugh at the memory, cheeks turning into a tint of red as Renjun releases his arm, still in complete astonishment.

“Wow, we’re soulmates and we got it on the same day.” Renjun blinks, cheeks growing hot as he meets Jeno’s steady gaze on him.

“I know,” This time, his expression morphs into a solemn one as his arms wind around Renjun’s frame, tugging him close for a tight hug, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have reacted that way. I mean, we’re basically in the same situation. It was idiotic of me to act like that.”

“Jaemin said the same thing.” Renjun muffles his laughter as he presses his face on Jeno’s shoulder, arms wrapping themselves around his figure to return the hug.

“He did?”

“Mm, he called you an idiot,” Jeno chuckles, body shaking slightly as he tightens his hold around Renjun, pulling him even closer if it’s possible, “It’s true though.”

“You’re my best friend, you shouldn’t be agreeing with him!” This time, Renjun finally lets loose and throws his head back as he bursts into a fit of laughter, cheeks turning a shade of pink as he attempts to cover his face with his hands as Jeno’s lower lip juts out to resemble a pout.

They quiet down after sharing another fit of chuckles and for the first time in a while, Renjun can feel his chest getting lighter as his hands find themselves wrapping around Jeno’s, seeking for warmth.

“Do you like… Jaemin?” Jeno’s brow arches at the question, his gaze turning inquisitive as he pulls away, searching for any signs or hints that Renjun might reveal through his expression. But Renjun hides his feelings well, locking them up temporarily for the moment.

“I did… for a while. I mean, I thought I did.” Jeno trips on his words, cheeks still painted red and for once, Renjun can feel the hope slipping back into the depths of his soul, increasing little by little as his best friend speaks even more.

“But then, when you started pulling away, I got… really overwhelmed with my feelings. It took me days but at the end of the day, I realized you’re the one that I really like.”

Renjun is breathless, his heart going wild at the sudden confession.

“This… isn’t because of the fact that I’m your soulmate?”

“No, oh god. I… already had feelings for you before but I was scared and confused.”

Renjun has never wanted to scream in happiness so much. He never knew that there’s actually a possibility that Jeno will like him back. It’s overwhelming but in an entirely good way.

“So, you really like me?”

“I do,” Jeno’s voice is full of reassurance, gentle as he holds out his arms with Renjun easily sliding up into his warm, comfortable embrace, “So, so much.”

“I… l-like you too.” Renjun stutters, his own cheeks burning in embarrassment as Jeno laughs, the corners of his eyes crinkling up in pure happiness.

“You’re so, so cute.” Jeno coos, hands cupping the other’s cheeks as he lays a soft kiss on his forehead affectionately before pulling him back into his arms to cage him in a tight embrace.

“I’m not.”

“You are.”

“I’m not!”

“Fine, I’ll agree with you as long as you agree to go on a date with me.” Renjun is speechless, a hand playfully hitting Jeno’s shoulder a moment later as they both laugh, cheeks once more turning red as they cuddle up in each other’s arms.

“Okay,” Renjun tugs away, hands slipping easily around Jeno’s neck as he leans in close with a smile on his lips before landing a quick kiss on his pair, his chest filled with so much love for the boy in front of him, “I’ll go on a date with you.”

-

“Thank god, you’re here.” Donghyuck comes up to them, his backpack hanging loosely on his shoulder as Jaemin laughs, wrapping an arm playfully around Donghyuck’s shoulder. It does take a moment before it both registers to them that Jeno’s hand is clasped tightly around Renjun’s, both of their cheeks red.

“Oh my god, I’m still stuck with you!” Donghyuck jokingly yells, pushing Jaemin away as the couple blushes even more, coughing to cover up the embarrassment they’re both feeling. Jaemin rolls his eyes before making his way to Renjun and Jeno, slotting himself forcefully between them before his arms drape themselves on their shoulders.

“No, I’m going to be the third wheel between them. The three of us will go on dates now.”

“No, you can’t leave me behind now! This is unfair!” Donghyuck whines as he grabs hold of the back of Jaemin’s uniform, pulling him back as Jaemin yelps in surprise, nearly knocking the both of them to the ground.

“Jesus Christ, don’t do that. You’re such a clingy boyfriend.” Jaemin’s voice is filled with mischief and Donghyuck simply puts his arm around Jaemin’s shoulder, pinching his cheeks whilst rolling his eyes at his words.

“In your dreams. I won’t date you.”

“Don’t say that, you might fall for me one day.”

“Disgusting.”

“Let’s get out of here before they start another brawl again.” Renjun gestures to the two boys behind them, stifling the laughs that are ready to leave their mouths.

“Agreed. Come on.” Jeno leads him to their classroom, looking proud as the other students take a step back and stare at them, whispers echoing in the hallways as they find their way to their seats. Jeno takes his seat beside Renjun, reaching over to grab his arm. They both agreed to stop wearing hoodies now since there’s nothing to hide — everyone is bound to know that they’re soulmates now anyway.

“What are you doing?” Renjun questions him as Jeno brings out a marker, writing something below the sentence written on his skin. He pulls away with a smug smile after a moment as Renjun suppresses the urge to roll his eyes, choosing to gaze at the words and his heart beats faster even more.

I like you, Renjun.

He couldn’t avoid the heat that crawls back up his cheeks again, coloring them red as he covers them up with his palms as his heart hammers against his chest.

“I can predict that this is the next sentence that will appear on your arm later.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” Jeno is smiling widely, knowing the kind of effect that he has on Renjun after seeing the other’s cheeks before he stands up out of nowhere, chair creaking against the floor, catching the other students’ attention. Renjun’s eyes widen, glancing up at Jeno looks around the room with his smile reaching his eyes.

“Yes, I like Huang Renjun!”

“Oh my god.” Renjun covers his face, he’s so sure it’s red as a tomato now and he can practically hear his heart beating so, so fast as the whispers echo in the room once more.

“Yes, go get your man, Lee!” Yukhei yells as Donghyuck and Jaemin encourages him, screaming about how you guys are the cutest couple ever!

Despite all the embarrassment, Renjun laughs softly as Jeno takes his seat once again, hearing the bell break the different flows of conversations in the classroom once the teacher makes her way inside. The smaller boy reaches out, fingers tangling with Jeno’s in the middle of their lecture and the way Jeno lightly squeezes his fingers as he subtly pulls him closer with his smile turning brighter is enough to make Renjun feel like he can light the whole room up.

-

The sound of another Disney film rolling in serves as a background sound as Jeno slips his arms comfortably around Renjun’s frame. It’s Friday and they naturally fell back into routine, sleepovers at Renjun’s house again whilst bodies tangled up on the couch.

The clock is ticking near to ten in the evening and they count down, mouthing the words as the seconds hand slowly makes its way to the twelfth number on the clock’s face. As soon it strikes ten, they hurriedly check to see if the markings have changed. Renjun raises his arm, eyes narrowing as he reads the words, bursting into a laugh once he realizes it.

“Moomin is the best show ever, I can’t believe you would insult it in front of my face!” Jeno playfully changes his voice, attempting to copy Renjun’s tone as he reads off the words on his arm. He receives a smack on his shoulder and a laugh from Renjun as he breaks away from the embrace.

“But it’s true!”

“What does yours say? Am I right?” Jeno eagerly peeks at his arm and Renjun playfully reaches out to pinch his cheeks before pulling away to read the sentence out loud.

“What did the dead cow say to the other cow?” Renjun furrows his eyebrows before turning to Jeno, who has a sheepish grin on his face, rubbing the nape of his neck.

“What did he say?”

“…Moo!” Jeno grabs Renjun by the shoulders all of a sudden, making the other boy yelp in surprise as he unceremoniously falls on his back on the couch, grunting lowly as he covers his eyes with his arm.

“Get it? Moo sounds like boo.”

“You really are lame.”

“You know, it wouldn’t take too much to be supportive of my jokes.” Jeno juts out his lip again to form a pout as Renjun rises from his position, seating comfortably with a laugh.

“Hey, you’re wrong, by the way.” The edge of Renjun’s tone is near to teasing but Jeno only grins, his smile reaching his eyes once again. The kind of smile that makes Renjun’s heart skip a beat.

“Fine. I’ll say those words all the time so fate will have to put it on your arm.” Jeno checks the clock once more before he cheekily grins, hands placed on Renjun’s waist in a comfortable manner. Renjun coughs, trying to will away the heat on his cheeks again, already feeling that he’s starting to blush.

“I like you. I like you. I like you so, so much—”

“You’re serious about this?”

“I like you so much, Huang Renjun.”

“Jeno, stop. I’m getting shy.” He groans, hands covering his face but Jeno pulls on them, intertwining their fingers as he repeats the words.

“I like you. I like you. I like you!”

“Jeno!”

“I love you.” They both still for a moment, the surprise evident on their faces before Jeno blushes though he keeps his gaze steady on Renjun’s reaction.

“Yeah, I love you.” Renjun softens up, noting that there’s still fear and hesitation running through Jeno’s eyes as he cups his face in his hands, his thumb gently caressing along his cheek. He leans in to press his lips against Jeno’s, feeling his chest slowly relax as Jeno responds to the kiss with a smile. Renjun is the first to break away but he keeps his gaze locked with Jeno’s stare.

“I love you too.”

The sweet smile that Jeno gives to him makes him feel like everything will be okay in the end.