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o let the heart grow fonder

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“Hi.” The drape of a torso over his back like a blanket carefully tucked, an arm snaked around his waist.

“Hi,” Joshua replies, amused. He takes one of his hands off his keyboard and wraps it absentmindedly around Mingyu’s neck, anchoring Mingyu’s chin to his shoulder. He doesn’t remove his eyes from the blinking cursor on the screen, hovering where a fifth paragraph would be if only he could only pull a new idea out of his ass, “what’s up?” 

“Nothing,” Mingyu mumbles, digging his chin in further. It almost hurts but the points where they touch are warm so Joshua lets him be. He hums and lets his head fall back against Mingyu’s frame, silently soaking him up. He imagines this is what his fifth grade science experiment was like, black paint left under a light to absorb its white heat. He can feel it throbbing in his blood, dull build-up to bright hot, “just wanted to check up on you. You haven’t moved in like, five hours.” He noses his way into Joshua’s neck, nestling there sweetly. The in-out in-out of his breaths tickle Joshua’s skin, reminiscent of a mastiff’s wet snuffles against its owner’s ankles.

Joshua’s always been a dog person.

“I’m doing fine,” Joshua says gently, using his free hand to hit Ctrl+S and bring his laptop screen downwards to kiss the keys. His work can wait for now, as long as it will take for Mingyu to get whatever mood he’s in out of his system. That fifth paragraph was never going to be written anyway, no matter how much he tried to wish it into sudden existence, “but I think I could use a break from this. ”

Mingyu grunts acknowledgement into his skin, the vibrations sending little tingles outwards in a concentric circle. He says nothing else.

“Mingyu-yah,” Joshua migrates his hand to the back of Mingyu’s neck, massaging gently, “are you gonna let me get up?”

Mingyu makes a noise like a whine and draws away, lower lip sticking out. It’s maddening how even at his height, he makes it look cute. Joshua blames his boyfriend’s face, all strong angles and wide eyes and oh gosh those little canines of his that the girls from their accounting elective two rows behind fixate on. He doesn’t begrudge them their giggles, inwardly satisfied by the fact that they can only imagine the territorial purple blue marks those canines would leave over stretches of skin; Joshua however, ghosting his fingertips over the prettiest spots of tenderness on his thighs, lives the reality.

He shifts around in his chair and raises an eyebrow inquiringly when Mingyu’s limbs stay put, arm wrapped around Joshua’s waist sitting solid against his body like a particularly fleshy seatbelt. Mingyu’s hand is splayed out to encompass the slight curve of his waist, emphasising their contrasts, and the thought of it makes his toes curl in a way he can’t explain. His chin is still hooked stubbornly on Joshua’s shoulder, head tilted further so he can look him in the eyes.

“Only if I can carry you.” He says, eyes eager and head cocked like he’s waiting for the stick to be thrown. “Can I?"

“Why?” Joshua laughs, just a touch incredulous.

Mingyu shrugs sheepishly, squeezing Joshua’s waist. It’s hard to tell whether it’s purposeful or not when Mingyu vacillates from complex reasoning to sheer impulse in fits and spurts. “I just want to. You’re tired right?”

“Mentally yeah,” Joshua raises an eyebrow, “not physically.” He gives up the ghost, exhaling exasperated and fond, when Mingyu blinks at him, young and boyish, through the ruffled brown hair crowding his eyes. He brushes Mingyu’s hair out of his vision (though he knows it’ll fall back) and reaches out silently with grabby hands and an indulgent smile. Mingyu lights up at the unspoken invitation and straightens up, detaching himself from their points of contact before sweeping him up into a princess carry, shuffling comedically seriously into their bedroom with his precious cargo. He makes a little whoop sound as they enter and Joshua just giggles, slapping at his shoulder. Mingyu rolls him unceremoniously onto their bed in consequence, following right after with a small bounce.

Joshua just goes with it, rolling until he reaches his side of the bed before sliding under the neatened covers and closes his eyes, “Alright, night Gyu.”

“It’s four in the afternoon.” Mingyu mumbles into Joshua’s hair, folding himself over his body like liquid, not even bothering to get under the duvet that they’d painstakingly picked out the cover for. Well okay, rather the cover that Joshua had fallen in love with in Bed, Bath and Table, and had refused to let Mingyu leave the store without because it’s discounted Mingyu! and buying three more of the same. 

“Perfect time for a nap,” Joshua retorts without opening his eyes. He fakes a yawn and snuggles further into the bed. The warmth surrounding him dampens his senses, shrinking his world to the worn cotton of their bedsheets and the faint but addictive smell of the ramyun Mingyu had made them for lunch.

“Jeonghan hyung is rubbing off on you.” Mingyu complains, tightening his grip around Joshua’s blanketed form in a koala hold,  “He’s a bad influence.” 

“Yah,” Joshua kicks weakly at him but Mingyu refuses to dislodge himself, clinging tighter instead, “say that to his face. Hannie would come after you armed with all of your black history, like the time when you were eight and - ”

“Oh my god,” Mingyu slaps a hand over Joshua’s mouth and buries his face in his boyfriend’s neck, letting out a muffled scream, “no. Hyung. Please, just no.”

Joshua wonders mischievously how long Mingyu will take to figure out it was Joshua who gave Jeonghan the weapons in the first place. Eventually. Hopefully after the I Do’s are said, somewhere in the distance.

He smacks a kiss against Mingyu’s palm, refuses to lick it on the principle of making extended saliva-infused contact with the Gross Object of the Day that Mingyu had likely touched without washing his hands. He’s trying harder to mind his hygiene, Joshua will give him that, horrified at the prospect of not being allowed to link hands if caught snot-handed. Mingyu screws up his face and retracts his hand sulkily, trailing it down to give Joshua’s thighs a poke. It’s pointless to feign sleep now with the soft yelp the touch produces from him so Joshua shifts around to face the other way, pinching Mingyu’s ass cheekily even as he lifts the blankets to allow Mingyu to slip underneath them too. 

Once snuggled in, Mingyu’s arms pull him in tight until all Joshua can smell is the shower gel they share perfuming Mingyu’s skin, an odd clash to the spicy ramyun crusty toothpaste scent when he accidentally gets a sniff of his boyfriend's shirt. They rearrange their limbs into familiar tetris, repetition forming a habit they don’t want to break. This is where Joshua can best take in Mingyu, not just his warmth but the minute shift of his facial muscles, telling him that right now, there’s something unsaid between them.

Joshua supposes it’s related to the fact that his boyfriend has been strangely clingy today, a little unusual no matter how tactile the other usually is. Wrapped up in each other face-to-face, the position is one part sentimental one part tactical, prime for these kinds of days when there’s something to coax out, something to win. He exhales and presses a soft kiss to Mingyu’s chin, speaks into the distance hanging between them.

“Gyu-yah, what’s going on?”

Mingyu tenses slightly in his hold but Joshua knows patience, knows how to wait out the tension until it bubbles over on the boil and forces the truth into the open. He knows a lot about these things, not necessarily all from Jeonghan, and a lot more than his appearance may first betray. 

“It’s just…” 

Joshua lets his eyes flutter shut, keeping one cracked open to watch the bob of Mingyu’s throat as he tries to form words.

“No, i-it’s nothing.”

Joshua pretends not to have heard, breathing in quietly for a count of three and then out for another three until Mingyu’s stuttering inhales follow along. He makes sure his rhythm is steady, projecting assurance.

“It’s stupid,” Mingyu relents and buries his head under the covers, speaking in a muffled tone against Joshua’s sternum, “I just um, heard your exchange application. Got accepted.”

“My exchange application?” Joshua says after a pause, bemused. His brain is laggy in making the connection. “I told you about it three months back Gyu.”

“That was before you got accepted,” Mingyu says petulantly, head still buried like an ostrich in the sand. He continues on quieter, “and also before I realised exchange means you won’t be here for six months. With me.”

“That’s generally what happens during exchange, Mingyu-yah.” Joshua clucks his tongue fondly and wiggles his way further down the bed so they both end up under the covers as a result, air a little stuffier, faces a little closer, cheeks a little more flushed. “It means I’d leave the country, you know. Not you.”

“Yeah,” Mingyu breathes out, tugging Joshua closer and trembles under his calloused hands. In Joshua’s mind, all their points of contact light up, bright like beacons pointing the way home, “I’d miss you though.”

“I’d miss you too,” Joshua says, voice warm. He presses a series of kisses that navigate a straight path down Mingyu’s jawline, back to the lighthouse of his lips, and presses one there too, “but UCLA is such a big opportunity for me, you know?”

“I know,” Mingyu’s quick to jump in, “and I don’t want you to y’know, not go. It’s important for you and I want you to do stuff that’s good for you.” He shakes his head dully, frustrated. “But at the same time, I don’t want you to go. Which is dumb."

“Just a bit.” Joshua laughs, pitching higher when Mingyu’s lips turn downwards in a childish moue. “It’s alright Gyu, I still like you this way.”

Mingyu squints down at him and then exaggerates his pout a little more, closing his eyes dramatically. Joshua rolls his eyes and obliges though doesn’t deliver, landing off to the side of his boyfriend’s lips. Mingyu scowls and refuses to open his eyes, making grumbly complaining noises until Joshua gives in, heart soft, and kisses him proper. It’s so easy to make Mingyu happy like this, his eyes curving upwards with glee immediately as he smacks his lips together in longing for another.

“We’ll call and text everyday, yeah?” Joshua holds onto Mingyu’s shoulder and runs a thumb over the muscles there. He’ll miss this when he goes, the woes of having such a physically beautiful boyfriend. “And we’ll Facetime and I’ll show you around my room back home and send you stuff from LA like those baseball hats you’re always so fascinated by. You can attach some of my earrings to it if you want, I know you think that’s fashion, just like I know that you know that I’d never really leave you.”

Mingyu stays silent for a few seconds, eyes glimmering.

“I better get to see some of your ugly baby photos,” He chokes out finally. There are new words unsaid but this time Joshua doesn’t need to dig for their substance, he knows them by heart, “the ones with the patchy tuft hair.”

I love you, I love you, I love you.

Joshua gasps theatrically, filling the air with Mingyu’s bubbles of laughter, “How do you even know those exist?”

“Who else? Jeonghan hyung.”

“I’m going to kill him later.” Joshua mumbles against Mingyu’s neck, manoeuvring them so they’re not submerged under the covers anymore, coming up to the surface for breath as he rolls them over so he can use Mingyu as a secondary bed. He wiggles upwards, ignoring Mingyu’s little oomph when he accidentally puts too much pressure on his stomach, and whispers against his boyfriend’s lips.

“Remind me to kill him later, okay?”

“Okay.” Mingyu says mindlessly and pulls him down for one kiss and another and another until there’s no need for words at all.