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Different but Always Familiar

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Jisung’s been looking forward to a pop tart since last night. He woke up in the middle of the night with the thought hm a pop tart would be so good right now. But the warmness of his bed and the tiredness of his limbs won out and in bed he remained thinking about pop tarts until he fell back asleep.

Now it’s morning time, the sun was shining bright, the forecast was calling for clear skies, birds were chirping, and Jisung was about to get his dream pop tart.

He opens the cupboard dancing a little once he sees the box placed on the top shelf. He reaches up pulling it down, the excitement increases. He pulls back the flaps, the smell of artificial s’mores and cardboard hits his nose. Then his world came crashing down.

Jisung could dramatically drop to his knees while a camera pans over him shouting, “nooooooooooo.” The box was empty. He wanted to cry for his fallen love, the only thing he was destined to be happy about. He swore vengeance on the consumer of the last pop tart if he found them.

He punches the empty pop tart box watching it slide across the counter vowing to never love again if this is what heartbreak feels like.

Footsteps approaching the kitchen shake Jisung out of his moping. He turns towards the kitchen threshold and catches the culprit disposing of a shiny metallic wrapper. The obvious wrapper of a pop tart.

Jisung can’t hide his gasp of betrayal or the sound of his breaking heart. Chenle, the culprit, looks over to him. He’s probably confused as to why Jisung looks like someone just told him Santa isn’t real.

Chenle smiles back ignoring the sad expression on Jisung’s face. He walks over to the cupboard across from him, taking down a glass. He watches as the pop tart thief fills his glass with water then chugs it down, finishing with a refreshing ah then filling it up again.

Jisung’s tired body, all his energy drained from the heartbreak he’s experienced in about ten minutes, slowly brings up an excusing finger to point at a very confused Chenle. “You monster,” was all he could say.

Chenle seemingly looks around for the monster before he realizes he is the accused, “what did I do,” he asks his eyes big and innocent.

Jisung knew Chenle was not innocent. All the evidence, the most incriminating evidence, pointed to him.

“You ate the last pop tart and then put the empty box back in the cupboard!” Jisung was flabbergasted, to say the least, but not surprised. Chenle had an annoying habit of not throwing empty boxes and cartons away. Usually, it didn’t bother Jisung, until right now, until it took away the only hope he had.

“Yeah, those were for the dorm, not just for you.”

Jisung wanted to throw a fit because he was right but he’s been wanting that pop tart since last night. He curses his warm bed and the need for sleep.

“I still feel the need to beat you up,” Jisung said.

Chenle raises an eyebrow in amusement. He sets his glass on the table then takes off running with a loud scream. Jisung takes off after him barely missing the trashcan on his way out. Chenle’s screams aren’t as high-pitched as they use to be. Puberty had brought it down a few notches, but it was still loud and annoyingly shrill.

Jisung reaches out just about to grab Chenle by the shirt, but his fingers barely miss him as he turns left rounding the back of the couch. He chases him around it a few times before Chenle stops on the left side. Jisung posted at the other side anticipating his next move.

Chenle fakes left then he fakes right. Jisung doesn’t move, waiting and watching. He can’t go down the hallway because that’s a dead end and if jumps into someone’s room and wakes them up Jisung won’t be the only one trying to fight him.

Jisung predicts he’s going to go right and then he does. Jisung can’t help the proud feeling when they crash into each other and maybe if he wasn’t an idol he could have been a spy. They collide with an oof, the force causing them to fall to the ground.

Jisung holds on tight to a squirming Chenle. He manages to break free but Jisung grabs him by his ankle to pull him back. His shirt rides up as he claws at the floor trying to escape. Jisung pulls Chenle under him, crawling up his body until he was seated on his lap. He holds him down with his weight as he struggles to pin his arms down.

Little slaps filled the air as Jisung tries and fails to pin his wrists. That would be a sure sign that he won and avenged his falling brethren. At the memory of his lost pop tart, he puts in more effort. Chenle’s face was all scrunched up in determination, his teeth clenched as he grabs hold of Jisung. He pulls him forward trying to get him off but Jisung pulls back releasing his hands from his grasp.

Then in one quick movement, while Chenle was trying to get his bearings, Jisung grabs hold of his wrists. He held them to ground panting down over the Chinese boy. Chenle squirms in vain trying to get out of Jisung’s hold.

“Say sorry for eating my pop tart,” Jisung demands. Chenle stops fighting and looks up at him.

“It wasn’t even yours.” His chest rises and falls in exhaustion his face contorting into a more neutral expression.

That’s when Jisung notices it.

Chenle looks different.

He still looked like Chenle, no doubt about it, but he looked, different. His cheekbones were more prominent and his jawline stronger. His eyes seemed sharper and his lips fuller and what the fuck, when did Chenle become handsome.

The movement of Chenle’s lips is what makes him notice that he was staring at them. Jisung hears nothing over the mortification of blood rushing to his ears. A loud ringing takes over and he feels embarrassed. He’s sitting on Chenle with his hands pinned above his head and his shirt was still bunched up.

Jisung can feel his face turn red and if he can feel it then Chenle can see it. He needs to get out of here. Chenle hasn’t stopped talking but Jisung hasn’t heard a damn thing he said and fuck, he really needed to get out of here.

“I gotta go to the bathroom,” he scrambles to get up. His knee comes in contact with Chenle’s bare torso causing him to squeal. He feels hot from all the blushing. He locks himself in the bathroom and Chenle doesn’t come to check on him. For that, he couldn’t be more grateful.

+++

Renjun sits next to Jisung. The zombies groan and their controllers shake as Jisung lets the bullets eat them away. Renjun curses vehemently to his left as one of the zombies advance on his character. Jisung just laughs pushing through.

It’s been about a week since Jisung noticed how handsome Chenle has become. It’s been driving him insane. He started noticing the little things too, like how big his smile is, how soft his hands were when they rubbed his arm, how sweet his annoying laugh is. He wonders how he missed this change. He spent a lot of time observing the people around him and he can’t help but wonder how he missed something like his best friend getting a whole new face.

Now, Jisung couldn’t miss the change if he tried. He caught himself staring more often than not, just taking in his cheekbones, his jawline, the curve of his lips and the slope of his eyes. Most of the time Jisung wanted to hit Chenle when the thoughts got out of control. He didn’t of course, just averted his gaze and tried to calm his racing heart.

Renjun’s scream shakes him out of his thoughts. The screen was red, You Died, was plastered in English as blood dripped from the sides. “We had a good chance, where the fuck did your mind go,” Renjun hollers at him.

It was just them two in the dorm today. Everyone was off on solo endeavors and their manager had offered to take them somewhere but they turned it down in favor of some rest and video games.

Jisung looks at Renjun and he looked like Renjun. His lips, eyes, nose looked exactly like it always has. So, maybe he hadn’t been pulled into an alternate universe where everyone was suddenly handsome. But, maybe someone pulled Chenle from an alternate universe where he was hot. Renjun hits Jisung lightly on the head with the controller. Jisung lets put a startled noise bringing his hand to rub the wound. Doesn’t matter which one of his theories were right. The universe was definitely out to get him.

“Are you okay? You’ve been spacing out more than usual,” Renjun’s eyes conveyed more worry than his voice.

Jisung says the first thing that comes to mind. “When did Chenle become so handsome.”

Renjun looks scandalized for about .2 seconds before cocking his head to the side. He lets out a puff of air turning back to the TV. “Chenle’s always been cute,” was Renjun’s answer.

Jisung shakes his head because as much as it makes him want to gag admitting it yes, Chenle is cute. Or was cute. He’s handsome now. All hard lines and strong stares.

“No,” was all Jisung could get out. He moves his hands trying to explain everything. It all boiled down to the fact that Chenle is now handsome and his handsomeness was starting to make Jisung feel weird.

“No,” he starts again, “he looks different.” Better but not quite.

Renjun nods though and maybe they’re getting somewhere. “It’s called puberty Jisung, you went through that a lot faster than Chenle did.”

“I thought he already did that,” Jisung said recalling when Chenle’s voice wouldn't stop cracking.

“Puberty happens at different stages, I really shouldn’t have to explain this to you.”

“It would help a lot if you did.”

For the next 15 minutes Renjun tries his very best to explain the concept of puberty to Jisung. For the most part, he understands. He knew just about everything Renjun told him and he was right, he really didn’t have to explain it to him.

As he’s making his way back to his room he realized that that was no help at all. The main question of when did Chenle become so handsome remains, unsolved.

He closes his bedroom door behind him deciding that the internet was the next best thing. He takes his phone off the charger and plops into bed. The front door opens signaling the arrival of his housemates. He feels strange as he opens Naver and types in Zhong Chenle.

 

Zhong Chenle, known professionally as Chenle, is a Chinese singer, songwriter, dancer and actor based in Seoul, South Korea. He is a member of South-Korean boy group NCT, as a part of their sub-unit NCT Dream. He debuted with NCT Dream in August 2016 with the debut single, "Chewing Gum".

 

This was a new type of weird for Jisung. He had looked himself up for fun multiple times, but he’d never looked up a bandmate just for the hell of it. It felt intrusive even though he was there for every era. Jisung switches the search bar to pictures. First is brown hair Chenle, then green hair Chenle, and then blonde Chenle. He scrolls down recounting the eras, We Young, My First and Last, Go, We Go Up.

Jisung had watched Chenle take all these pictures curled up in the corner laughing at his awkward poses. Looking at them now with his door locked, brightness on low, and tucked under the covers felt wrong. A picture of Chewing Gum era Chenle catches his eye. He looks so young and naive with the little bubble he blew. Jisung remembers the joy of being put in a unit with his best friend and up until recently, that’s what Chenle looked like to him, young and excited for the adventure they were about to embark.

Jisung hears footsteps coming towards his door. Quickly he clicks away from Naver and tries to find something else to click on. As his bedroom door swings open he loses the grip on his phone and drops it right on his face. Chenle’s familiar laughter fills the room. His heart could be racing from the fact he almost got caught looking up Chenle or it could be the humiliation of Chenle laughing at him for dropping his phone on his face. It definitely wasn’t because Chenle’s laugh was one of his favorite sounds.

“How’d you drop your phone,” he asks after his laughter dies down.

The racing of his heart doesn’t quit. He looks at Chenle poised in the doorway his cheeks puffed up in amusement. “You scared me.”

“HA, scaredy-cat.”

“Shut the fuck up.”

“I’m gonna tell Taeyong your cursing again.”

Jisung sits up in his bed glaring at Chenle. He leans against the doorway with his arms crossed, they were still twigs as far as he was concerned. His heart did a little stutter step as he looks up at Chenle. He had a smug smile on his face and it was a little too hot… in this room.

He blushes and looks away, flustered by the look on Chenle’s face. “What did you want anyway?”

Chenle’s smirk turns smug like he won but there was no real competition so Jisung could care less. He pushes himself off the doorway and stands tall. Why am I finding this shit hot was all he could think averting his eyes to his comforter.

“Is chicken good for dinner?”

“Yeah, that's fine.”

“Any special kind you want?”

Jisung dares to look up. Chenle’s face had mellowed out but it still didn’t settle the turning of his gut. “I’m fine with anything.”

Chenle nods and stands there for a little longer. They stare at each other, Jisung’s eyes bouncing from each feature on his face determined to not make eye contact. He could feel Chenle searching for his eyes. He doesn’t know how’d he reacted looking Chenle in the eye. His new face had somehow become almost intimidating.

Chenle finally decides to move. He closes the door softly behind him and Jisung feels the tension in the air lighten. He falls back onto his bed and closes his eyes. He sees Chenle smirking behind his eyelids and immediately snaps them open. He grabs his phone resuming his search. He needed answers, now.

He clicks on the Twitter app watching his screen flood blue. The bird pans out and he clicks on the little magnifying glass then types Chenle into the search bar. Pictures from their most recent performance come up and he scrolls stopping on one of Chenle’s fansites. This Chenle looked different from every Chenle he saw during his Naver search. The Chenle here looked like the Chenle that was just standing in his doorway. It was the same face that kept him up at night. He clicks on the post ignoring the caption for the four pictures lined up next to each other. He swipes through them all then swipes back then swipes forward again.

He lands on the second one just staring at the 2D Chenle and that Chenle stares back unblinking. As Jisung takes in all his features he feels his heart race. The strong glare in Chenle’s eyes made him feel weak almost. Jisung curls up in on himself turning to his side. He double taps, zooming in on the picture. The feeling in his heart moves to his gut. He swallows thickly, the room was heating up again. 2D Chenle could never look as good as the real thing.

He scrolls for a while time getting lost in all the fancams he watches and the pictures he stares at. A loud knock on the door startles him. “Dinner’s ready,” Chenle’s familiar voice calls out to him.

He locks his phone and scrambles from under the covers. His foot got caught in the sheets causing him to fall to the ground in a mess of limbs. Chenle’s laugh, so different but so familiar, rings through the door. Jisung blushes at the sound, he doesn’t know why his heart is racing. He wishes it would stop though. His chest used to always fill up when Chenle would look at him or laugh but back then it wasn’t this heavy. He felt like an elephant was sitting on his chest mocking the way his heart beats under him. He stands slowly detangling himself from the blanket.

A nasty feeling overcomes him when he opens the door. Something feels wrong about the way his stomach drops when Chenle wraps his hand around his wrist and drags him down the hallway.

He felt exposed as Chenle turns to look at him. Three containers full of chicken sat on the table, Jaemin opens the pickled radish and Jeno flips through Netflix. His eyes flitter back up to Chenle, just like everything lately seems to go back to Chenle.

“What do you want to drink,” he asks him.

Jisung stares down at their interlocked hands then up to his lips before landing on his eyes. Jisung was pretty sure his palms were sweating and this downright wrong feel stirs in his gut.

“Water.” His throat felt dry. Chenle lets go of his hand before going into the kitchen.

Jisung doesn’t like the feeling in his gut. The Chenle chilling on his phone mocks him. He feels like everyone knows what he was doing. Everyone knows what this feeling in his chest is. Everyone knows, but him.

He suddenly loses his appetite and he just wants to go back to his room to delete his search history.

+++

Renjun and Chenle flank both sides of Jisung. He wishes dearly to be anywhere but plastered up against their sides, but he was here first and he’s be damned if he got up.

Chenle extends his hand slowly from his right. He can feel him looking in his direction but staring past him. His forearm brushes against Jisung’s knee, slowly passing skin over skin. Jisung jerks away quickly alerting Renjun who catches Chenle trying to take the remote. He swats at his hand snatching the remote up for himself. Chenle begins to whine but Renjun just turns up the volume.

For two weeks now he and Chenle haven’t had a moment alone and he’s grateful for it. He catches himself staring at the Chinese boy more than he would ever admit aloud and every time there was something telling him it was wrong.

He can’t pinpoint what’s wrong exactly just he shouldn’t be staring so much. His heart definitely shouldn’t be racing and his palms shouldn’t sweat like faucets. He just knew something was off but God would probably return to Earth before Jisung realized what it was.

He turns his attention back to the TV, a random variety show plays but he really can’t find it in him to catch what’s going on. Ten and Kun we’re coming back from China and everyone was on edge. They were only staying for two days, but Renjun made them clean the whole dorm so Kun wouldn’t complain.

“When are they supposed to get here?” Jisung asked.

Chenle picks up his phone and Jisung watches as his eyebrows creased in worry. “They should’ve been here fifteen minutes ago and Kun hasn’t texted me back.”

He looks over at the door setting his phone back in his lap. His sharp jawline was tense with worry and Jisung wanted to reach out and drag his hand across it, just to test how sharp it was. Another part of him warns him that that isn’t a very friendly gesture.

“Stop worrying so much when they get here they get here,” Renjun doesn’t look away from the TV when he speaks. He sounds calm but the way he chews on his nails gives away his worry.

Jisung was excited to see Ten and Kun. He wasn’t particularly close with either of them but he still needed someone to talk to. The problem he was having felt like such an adult thing, it was definitely something he couldn’t figure out on his own. Normally he would talk to Taeyong about things like this. They’d cuddle up on his bunk and Jisung always listened intently and followed his advice to the best of his ability. Taeyong was currently touring with 127 and the interviews and concerts left him with barely any spare time.

Ten and Kun seemed to be trusted adults, well at least Kun was, so they were the next best thing. Jisung had everything figured out, Kun would come in and offer to cook, he’d make some Chinese dish for them and Ten would probably complain. Renjun and Ten would bicker and Chenle would be in the kitchen helping Kun. That leaves Jisung with enough time to sit and think everything over one last time.

He couldn’t believe he needed more time to think when that’s all he’s done over the course of three weeks. Chenle overtaking his thoughts like the pest he was, just buzzing and buzzing until Jisung had headaches he couldn’t even fathom how to deal with.

The sound of the door code being put in startles Jisung. He could feel the excitement fill the room. To his right, Chenle jumps off the couch in excitement. The door swings open to reveal Jeno walking in with Jaemin not too far behind him.

“Motherfucker,” Chenle says.

"Watch your mouth,” said a familiar voice. Kun crosses the threshold carrying grocery bags.

With a squeal, Chenle bounces off the coach and Renjun tries to play it cool but he follows right after. Chenle and Renjun (mainly Chenle) crowd Kun like dogs excited to see their owner. Jisung keeps his seat. Its been so long since he’s seen either of them. There was no reason for him to feel so shy though, having grown up around them, but time is finicky.

Kun yells something in Chinese trying to push past the boys. He sets the bags on the table in the kitchen before he opens the fridge, “I knew there would be no food in here, are you guys just relying on takeout?”

He peeks his head around the kitchen threshold looking at Jisung. He startles not knowing what to say. The door opens, “thanks for waiting for me guys, the grocery bag definitely didn’t split open and I definitely didn’t have to pick all that up myself and carry it up the stairs.”

“Sorry,” Kun says. He comes to the door and lightens Ten’s load. A fond look replaces the previous agitation in Ten’s eyes and something is different about the way they move around each other.

“Why are you looking like a stranger in your own house,” Jaemin stands in front of him, blocking the TV he wasn’t even watching, but he’s still offended.

“Move,” he says and Jaemin pouts.

"You weren’t even watching it and you haven’t seen hyung all day, don’t act like that.”

Jaemin plops down next to Jisung wrapping himself around the younger boy. The new people in the dorm causing a new environment left him on edge, he struggles to get out of Jaemin’s hold but the elder just grips him tighter.

Chenle comes out of the kitchen, happiness etched onto his face. That usual weird feeling he gets whenever Chenle is involved sits on top of the uncomfortable one.
“Hyung, let Jisung go he doesn’t want you on him like that.”

Jaemin pulls Jisung in closer while he tries and fails to move away.

“Who told you that Lele? You and Jisung learned to read each other's minds and didn’t tell anyone,” Jaemin retorts.

Chenle with the ability to read minds would probably end up with the world in flames. It could also lead to him losing his best friend. The thought makes his blood run cold. His palms become sweaty and his heartbeat erratic. That wrong feeling starts to make sense now. His thoughts, the way his body responded was not okay for a best friend.

Suddenly Jisung was being yanked to his right. He looks over and sees Chenle trying to pull Jaemin off of Jisung. Jisung sort of feels a mental breakdown coming. It was a horrible time for such revelations, but here they were. He feels like sinking into the couch and disappearing.

Chenle throws his whole body down successfully detaching Jaemin from Jisung. He clambers his way in the little tiny space between the two. Jaemin tries to push him up while Chenle leans himself onto Jisung trying to keep his newfound spot on the couch. He looks at his best friend and his heart does that weird thing that Jisung doesn’t like to talk about.

He slides from underneath Chenle, causing said boy to fall back onto the couch. Jaemin and his spontaneous wrestling continues but now on a bigger scale. Chenle never won no matter who he took on, but he never stopped picking fights.

Jisung makes his way to the kitchen, his body on autopilot. The sounds of bags rustling and pots banging reminds him of the new faces. There was no Jeno or Renjun, just Ten and Kun putting away the food. He didn’t like the unfamiliarity of being around them especially since he had always been around them, it just shouldn’t feel this weird. Everything was now out of place. His mind wondered when did everything become so different.

“Jisungie, I missed you.” He looks up to be greeted with Kun’s familiar smile. Then tension lightens up as Kun’s smile was just so warming.

“Hey, hyung,” Jisung says still feeling shy, “do you need help with anything?”

Kun looks around, his lips pressed in thought, “you can help finish putting the food away.”

“Good, I’ll take a break,” Ten stops what he’s doing and goes over to their little dining table and takes a seat.

"I told Jisung to help you, not do all the work.”

“Jisung’s young, he doesn’t mind helping out his hyung, does he?”

Jisung shakes his head no, he needed to do something right now.

“If you help him it’ll go quicker,” Kun sounded frustrated. He sits a pot of water onto the stove before turning to fully face Ten.

Jisung stands in the middle of the kitchen the bickering not helping with his already hectic mind, “if you helped me when I dropped that bag I wouldn’t be so tired.”

“I wasn’t even there when you dropped those bags!”

“Still, you should have known when I wasn’t behind you. We’re supposed to be one.”

Kun huffs, his face becoming more frantic, “one my ass, sorry Jisung—”

“He knows curse words.”

Jisung’s head goes back and forth just as Ten and Kun do. They argue like his grandparents, in that “I’ll love you no matter how big of a headache you give me” type way. The only difference is that Ten and Kun didn’t love each other like that. There was nothing wrong with two boys loving each other, love wins, but he was pretty sure there were no gay people in NCT.

He slowly creeps forward as to not disturb the bickering around him. Ten and Kun don’t even notice his departure as he breaks free into the living room. Jaemin and Chenle were now cuddled up on the couch, Chenle’s mouth was open a little as he watched whatever was on. A small smile tugs onto his lips, he scurries quicker to his room, his heart was doing that weird thing again. He wonders what Chenle thinks of gay people. He wonders if that's a weird thought, but he believes he’s past weird thoughts.

Chenle wasn’t gay, he couldn’t be, but what if he was? Would he even like Jisung? They were best friends and any wrong move would tarnish that. They spent years growing up together, they leaned on each other in hard times and Jisung truly doesn’t know what he would do if he lost that type of support.

He opens the door to his bedroom, closing it softly behind him. He let his body release all the tension that he was holding. Jisung always felt a strange connection to the older boy. From the moment they first met back so many years ago, he knew he’d always want Chenle by his side. They were so close they almost blended into one, people couldn’t think of Jisung without thinking of Chenle and he wasn’t ashamed of it. He wouldn’t have it any other way honestly.

He understands how this is different from any of those past feelings. He wanted Chenle next to him in a newer way. The thought of holding Chenle’s hand with a deeper meaning, hugging him with deeper feelings, and kissing him made his heart skip a beat. Would coming clean to Chenle with all these feelings be worth it if he didn’t feel the same. They talked about becoming a household name together, but some households wouldn’t dare to have these feelings involved. This wouldn’t only strain their friendship but would also leak over into their work. This could cause them NCT, the only dream they have ever had. Jisung lies in his bed staring up at his ceiling. The pain in his chest was fierce like someone just shoved a dagger into it. The tears that run down his face are hot and angry and he wants out of here. He’s never blamed himself for something so much.

 

+++

He sits on the floor in front of Ten and Kun. They all agreed to meet in the 127 dorm after Jisung had his little breakdown. He needed someone to explain to him how bad of an idea this was. How these feelings could really ruin his career and their friendship.

After he explains everything to them, he looks up at them and they look down at him. In a very timid voice he says, “I’m scared.” He sees the way their eyes soften and he wants to hide.

“Of what Sungie,” Ten asks.

Jisung shrugs, bringing his knees up to his chest. There was so much to be afraid of, “I don’t want to lose Chenle as a friend. This could really hurt our careers if we do end up together and this gets out. There’s so much that could go wrong.”

He runs his hands through his hair willing the lump in his throat to go down. He doesn’t want to cry in front of them. They needed to think this was a minor inconvenience and not something that overtaken his entire thought process.

Kun looks over at Ten before turning back to Jisung. With a deep breath, he takes Ten’s hand. “We’re dating,” and oh, he hadn’t been expecting that.

“I don’t get how that helps me.”

At that Ten lets out a small chuckle. Jisung looks at them really fucking confused. He doesn’t get how that news is going to help him. His situation was different from Ten and Kun's. They never really got along, their constant bickering was a real hindrance and everyone rejoiced when they had become friendly with each other.

Chenle and Jisung have been friends longer then this group has been around. This friendship was something sacred and precious and he couldn’t just fuck this up with some feelings.

“Jisung,” Kun says, “We know what it’s like to be that friend that caught feelings—”

“You guys were hardly friends.” Jisung interrupts.

Ten smiles, “that was just our weird way of flirting.”

Jisung doesn’t like the lovesick look he gives Kun and he wants to throw up when Kun returns it.

“This isn’t about us,” Kun said not taking his eyes off Ten.

“Jisung, you and Chenle are really close. If you confessing doesn’t go right it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Your friendship is stronger than that. It might be a little awkward after the rejection but I’m sure everything will fall back into place. Besides, I’m pretty sure everything will work out fine.” Ten says.

Jisung never pinned him as one so wise, “What do you mean.”

“You’re very observant but not very good at interpreting things,” Kun speaks this time. He looks like he knows something and he’s heard that Kun isn’t very good at keep secrets.

“You know something I don’t.”

“I know a lot of things you don’t.” He says and fair enough.

He drops the subject, thinking over Ten’s words, “but what about the group?”

Ten sighs and reaches up to scratch the back of his head. “This job is very selfless, we give and give on order to put on good stages, to make our fans happy. So, I think we deserve to be a little selfish.”

Jisung fiddles with the drawstrings of his hoodie. He never thought he deserved to be selfish before.

“You’re so young Jisung, don’t deprive yourself of some love.”

Jisung blushes heavy at Kun’s words. Love was a big word for this but maybe his feeling were getting a little bit bigger than himself. Love was a stretch but he imagines himself loving Chenle and the thought doesn’t seem so bad. He blushes harder feeling a little choked up.

“I don’t love him.”

Ten smiles at him, a fatherly smile that made Jisung miss his dad. “That doesn’t matter right now. What matters now is that you go out and do the things you love or like. Just be happy. Who cares about the consequences when you're happy with what you're doing.”

Jisung wants to cry then but sharing his feelings was enough emotional vulnerability for the night. He looks at Kun who was staring at Ten, his eyes shining and he wants that with Chenle. He wants Chenle so bad, bad enough that he could really give everything up. He hopes he wouldn’t lose his job or his best friend but would it really be that bad.

“I didn’t know you were so smart Tennie,” Kun coos.

Ten grimaces and backs away, “we both know I’m the smarter one amongst us two.”

Then they begin to bicker. They were so happy just living in the now. With their little fights and fond stares. Jisung decides to just feel everything out.

+++

When he returns to the dorm Chenle is laying on his bed. The light from his phone illuminates his face. Jisung stops himself from fleeing and makes his way over to the bed. Chenle is just a friend, he thinks, but he could be so much more. He places his hand in front of Chenle’s phone, blocking the light coming from it. The room becomes dark.

He looks up at Jisung with a gleam in his eyes. “I couldn’t sleep. Where were you?” His voice is a little too loud for the quietness of the room but it’s welcoming.

“Talking with Kun and Ten,” he pulls the covers up and Chenle scoots over making room for Jisung on the twin size bed.

“I’m so happy they came back. I really missed them.”

Jisung just nods. He knows Chenle doesn’t see it. He looks up and comes eye to eye with him and he remembers it’s been weeks since he’s been alone with Chenle. His stomach sinks.

“Where’s Jaemin?”

“He’s with Renjun.”

Again, Jisung just nods. Chenle gives him a closed lip smile scooting closer to Jisung. He doesn’t move back already on the edge but he feels his heart began to race.

Chenle lays his head on Jisung’s chest and he’s one hundred percent certain that Chenle can hear his heart pounding. He lays flat on his back making the position more comfortable for both of them. Kun’s words play in his head, he shouldn’t deprive himself of this, there was nothing to be scared of, but Jisung was frightened.

He thinks of all the people in his life. His wonderful parents that raised him, his fans that supported him through his journey, and his members who helped become the performer he is today. What would they think if they could hear how many beats his heart skipped laying next to Chenle right now? He wants to cry and scream because there are so many people to disappoint. If he goes through with this how many people would genuinely speculate them and how many people would believe those people.

Chenle stirs shoving his face closer to Jisung’s and they've cuddled many times in the amount of time they’ve known each other. They’ve always been so close, why did things have to feel different now? Jisung turns completely enveloping Chenle into his arms. Chenle seems to agree with the new closeness pulling Jisung even closer like he was just a teddy bear.

Jisung lets his hand card through his hair and places his chin on top of Chenle’s head. Taking in the smell of shampoo and body wash. He likes Chenle, in ways he shouldn’t like Chenle, but right now it doesn’t feel that bad. He couldn't do this, he didn’t want to do this. He suddenly becomes choked up, sniffling loudly as he tried to keep his tears in.

“You know you can tell me anything right?” Chenle’s voice is quite, so fitting for the mood. Jisung sniffles, the tears roll down his cheeks silently.

“Yeah I know,” and he did. He knew, he knows Chenle is his best friend that he can tell anything.

+++

A few months go by and Jisung just lets everything be. 127 comes back to Korea, Dream gears up for their new comeback, and Wayv dominates in China. Life moves forward with no regard for the changes in Jisung and Chenle’s friendship. Everything seems normal and that left Jisung on edge. He doesn’t shy away from his feelings anymore but he doesn’t act on them either.

He decided to think through the actions of everyone (Chenle) a little more after what Kun said to him. He notices Chenle’s eyes on him everywhere he went and the difference in the smiles he sent his way compared to everyone else.

Chenle clings to him more often too and Jisung didn’t want to think of this as an equal attraction but it sure feels like it. He always listened intensely when Jisung talked, keeping eye contact and considering his response. It seems Chenle leans into him now like every single word has him waiting.

Jisung thinks he’s overthinking everything. He’s attraction clouding his mind and making everything that Chenle does an act of interest.

Chenle grabs his dance bag and Jisung watches from the doorway. He puts in his AirPods and walks over to Jisung. He likes the way Chenle looks at him. With a soft expression and an even softer smile. This is one of those moments, where Jisung feels like Chenle could like him back but in reality, it's just two bros being dudes.

“The fans are gonna go crazy over this comeback,” Chenle wraps his arm around Jisung’s shoulder dragging him closer. Jisung doesn’t like the warmth or the closeness, not at all.

Jisung laughs, “I’m sure they are.”

The streetlights cover the roads in an unflattering glow as they climb into the van, making their way to the far back. Chenle takes a seat by the window, shifting his gaze to the window and Jisung sits next to him.

Everyone else was in varying degrees of sleep. Renjun passed out in the passenger seat, Jeno leaning his head on Jaemin’s shoulder (the light from his phone giving away that he wasn't sleeping) and Jaemin with his head thrown back and mouth open as he sleeps. He nudges Chenle, silently pointing at Jaemin.

Chenle’s face lights up as he tries to silence his laughs. He scrambles to get his phone out of his pocket, moving as close to the window as possible to get a good picture. Jisung leans into him and Jaemin snores rack the van. Chenle almost loses it as he records him.

He brings his phone down, his body shaking with silent laughs as he shows Jisung. Jisung laughs too because Jaemin looks ridiculous.

“Now he can’t say he doesn’t snore,” Chenle probably tries to whisper but his voice is louder than the atmosphere called for. Jisung holds a finger to his lips shushing him.

Chenle had been spending a lot of time in Jisung’s room (Jisung doesn’t want to think about what that entails), so he knew how loud Jaemin could get at night.

The novelty of Jaemin’s snoring wears off and they slip back into silence. Jisung looks to his left and the stretch of the empty seat that he could have occupied. He’s sat unreasonably close to Chenle, his legs spread a little so their knees can touch. His leg bounces with nerves hoping Chenle doesn’t think too much on their closeness. He seeks Chenle out like he’s water and Jisung was a thirsty man in the desert. It’s funny how desperate he feels he has become, but life be like that. One minute you’re fretting over a pop tart and then the next you have a crazy crush on your best friend.

He feels something brush his hand, he looks down to see that Chenle has rested his hand on his own knee, so close to Jisung’s. He tries not to freak out because freaking out gets you nowhere. But his heart is racing and his leg bounces faster. The need to move becomes overwhelming then Chenle’s pinky reaches out for his own. The way his head spins over a simple action isn’t cool and if there is something Jisung has wanted to be his whole life it was cool. So, he takes a deep shaky breath and reminds himself that he is the coolest muthafucka on the block and nothing phases him.

Then Chenle’s hand is over his. Jisung dares to look at Chenle who was still staring out of the window. Jisung looks down at their hands where Chenle’s just lays right on top of his own.

It really shouldn’t be surprising that Chenle wants to hold his hands. The gesture should be innocent enough, but the ever-growing skinship between them made this feel different. He’s been pulled along by Chenle, hand in hand on their way to cause trouble, for years and his stomach has never twisted like this.

Chenle’s hand looks so small on top of his own. A small smile overtakes his face as he looks down at them, he realizes his leg has stopped shaking as he just lets everything be. Chenle slips his fingers in the space between his own. He likes the warmth of his hand against his, he likes their newfound closeness, he really fucking likes Chenle.

Jisung looks up, the driver had to turn left and then they were back at the dorms, and in a fit of confidence, he rips his hand from Chenle’s causing him to finally look over at Jisung.

With a big inhale and his eyes locked on Chenle, he grabs his hand properly holding on. Their fingers intertwine and he looks up at Chenle who stares wide-eyed. The van rolls by a streetlight and in the quick pass of champagne light Jisung sees a red dusting on his cheeks. The world seems to move slowly as the van rolls to a stop causing them both jerk forward.

The driver shakes awake Renjun and Jeno does the same to Jaemin. Jisung hopes this hand holding and intense eye contact conveys some of his feelings. He knows that it won’t show them all, that one day he’s gonna have to swallow that nasty pill and say what’s on his mind.

But as the van door rolls open and Jeno and Jaemin clamber out. Jisung gives his hand one last squeeze as a promise that soon he will say all that he has to say.

+++

Holding hands becomes scared between them. It’s a normal thing to intertwine their finger in front of their bandmates. Behind closed doors, it feels sort of like coming home. He feels stupid blowing something so little as holding hands out of proportion but he loves it when Chenle crawls into his bed and they hold hands in different awkward positions.

Him and Chenle ended up rooming together at this music festival. The spare hotel bed goes untouched as Chenle has slept in Jisung’s bed every night since their arrival.

They sit side-by-side on the bed. The streetlights from the window cast a shadow on Chenle’s face. A face that Jisung has gotten used to. He still gets butterflies whenever they made eye contact but his fight or flight instincts had taken a rest. He drags his thumb across the back of Chenle’s hand listening to him recount the moment he lost his in-ear. His free hand wildly gestures and his face scrunches. He gets really into the story throwing his whole body into the explanation but he never lets go of Jisung’s hand.

Chenle has always been friendly and touchy, so outright with every movement and feeling but there’s something subdued now. He’s scared whenever he takes Jisung’s hand in private. He always moves slowly with fear that Jisung might turn him down, but Jisung would never dream of it.

He gulps as Chenle’s words tapper off. He shakes his head and waves his free hand at whatever he had just said, Jisung wasn’t really paying attention. He turns to Jisung his mouth stretched into a smile. He opens his mouth to speak again but Jisung one for never reading the atmosphere blurts out, “I think there’s something wrong with me.”

Chenle, one for never reading the situation, says, “there’s a lot of things wrong with you Sungie.”

Jisung makes a face mocking Chenle’s words and that causes him to laugh. Jisung joins in too and whatever scary feeling that was bubbling in his chest dissipates.

“No, no,” Chenle says as the laughter dies, “why do you think there’s something wrong with you?”

He looks at Jisung with the same fond expression he saw Ten give Kun once. Its been 3 months now since Jisung realized he felt this way. No moment felt as good as right now to share his feelings.

There was that scary feeling and it was eating its way up his stomach and to his throat, clawing for a way out. The air becomes tense and Jisung’s hand begins to sweat. He detangles his hand from Chenle’s wiping them onto his basketball shorts.

Chenle reaches over and turns on the bedside light, then turns back to Jisung with a worried expression. Jisung glances down at the hand he was just holding. He sees it curl up and be pulled back into its owner's lap. He becomes hyper-aware of his own empty hand and how Chenle’s just felt so right in his.

He looks back up at Chenle. He takes in the shape of his face, so new but it would always be familiar. Jisung preferred this Chenle to the one on stage. His hair was still damp from the shower and no makeup to cover the blemishes on his face. He looked younger but Jisung could still tell where he grow up. The way his eyes sharpened, his jawline was set, cheekbones protruded. Jisung heart lurches, the scary feeling sits right on the tip of his lips. Chenle was so handsome.

“I’m sorry,” Jisung whispers.

Chenle looks at him confused, “for what?”

Silence passes over them. Jisung fidgets. He wants to run but there’s really nowhere to go. He already has the shovel ready so he has to continue digging his grave. With a sigh, he runs his hands over his face and through his hair. There were so many ways he could go about this.

“For my thoughts,” he nods his head, a good start.

Chenle looks even more confused now. He turns to completely face Jisung. He looks so small with his legs crossed and hands in his lap.

“For liking you. I like you, god, I like you so much. In ways I shouldn’t like a bandmate, my best friend. But I’m always thinking of you. How you grew up and changed but somehow, someway you stayed the same.”

Chenle just blinks at him. The confusion was gone was replaced with a blank look. Chenle is the most expressive person Jisung’s ever met. His face always gave him away, but now he was cold. Jisung moves around, not really able to help himself. He’s sure Jeno would let him stay in his room. He’d hold him while he cried over the rejection, no questions asked.

“How long,” Chenle takes a shaky breath, “how long have you liked me.”

“A little over three months now.”

Chenle nods his head. He looks around the room, no expression, nothing else to say. Jisung can feel the lump in his throat. His eyes well up and Chenle doesn’t even look at him, he doesn’t even say anything. The silence stretches on for what feels like hours. He looks down as his tears fall trying not to let any noises escape his mouth.

“Jisung,” Chenle’s voice is small.

Jisung jumps when he feels Chenle touch him. He wants to push him away but he lets himself be guided into his embrace. He cries into his chest, gripping onto his plain white tee.

“Jisung, I’ve liked you for so long.” Chenle’s voice cracks and Jisung pulls away from him. He stares at him, eyes wide in shock.

Chenle pulls him back to his chest and he goes with little resistance. Chenle liked him. Chenle liked him.

“I knew you were out of my reach, that you would never like me back but I wanted you so bad.”

Jisung cries harder, now in relief. He bunches his hands clinging tighter to Chenle’s shirt. Chenle lets him cry, nothing said he holds him until his tears die down.

Once his sobs were reduced to just shuddering breaths he pulls away from Chenle’s hug. He looks at the Chinese boy and he stares right back at him. He feels relieved but different. He wonders if Chenle thought about him like he thought of Chenle. If he stayed up all night wondering if liking him was right.

The corner of Chenle’s mouth quirks up in a small smile and Jisung gives him one in return. Suddenly, Jisung jerks forward aiming to land a peck on his lips but collides their foreheads together. They both groan pulling away from each other. Jisung falls to the end of the bed clutching his forehead. He continues to groan as Chenle begins to giggle, then he chuckles, now he’s laughing. Full on bright high pitched laughter fills the room and Jisung groans louder.

He feels Chenle’s hand curl around his bicep tugging him up, back to the pillows. His laughter trickles back into a giggle when he comes face to face with Jisung. He smiles bright and bigger than he’s ever seen it. It’s so infectious that Jisung finds himself grinning right back at him despite the throbbing of his head.

“I’ve imagined this going so many ways and there were definitely worse scenarios,” Chenle says.

They’re sitting across from each other now.

“What could be worse than that,” Jisung says with a pout.

He’s not expecting Chenle to reach out and place his hand on his cheek, but he does and Jisung just about jumps out of his skin. Chenle drags his thumb across his cheekbone and Jisung’s heart bangs against his chest begging to get out. “You not liking me back.”

So Chenle did worry like him. Jisung leans into his hand, bring his own up to wrap around his wrist. He drags his thumb against the back of his hand.

“Who wouldn’t like you,” he asks in a fit of bravery and Chenle’s smile is worth it.

“Exactly.”

Jisung tries to pry his hand off his face ready to complain about him ruining the mood. Chenle holds on tight still smiling as he brings his other hand up to the other side of Jisung’s face. He shuffles onto his knees and he’s coming closer. Jisung’s heart is really freaking out now and as Chenle places his lips against Jisung’s.

It was a quick peck and he pulls away just as fast as he came. He resumes his crosslegged position across from Jisung. The warmth of his lips was welcomed and he wanted more. Chenle leans onto his hands a smug look on his face.

Jisung crawls over him placing one hand on the bed right beside his hip. He leans in closer, slower this time feeling Chenle’s breath against his face. He raises his other hand to his shoulder and gulps.

His first kiss was back when he was a trainee and he dated the girl for like four weeks. Now looking back on it the girl looked a little like Chenle and he chuckles at the memory. He focuses back on Chenle who was waiting. Jisung decides to not make him wait any longer and plants his lips against his. It's so innocent the way his lips feel against Chenle’s. Whereas holding his hand felt like coming home this felt like a promise that he’d always have a home to come to. Jisung deepens the kiss pushing himself flat against Chenle. He feels tingles all the way up his spine down to his toes and through his fingertips.

Chenle exhales into the kiss bringing both his hands to cradle Jisung’s face again. He falls back onto the bed without his hands there to hold him up. He wraps his arms around Jisung’s shoulders, letting his hands play with the hair on the nape of his neck. The soft smack of their lips as they try to come closer ignites a fire in Jisung’s belly. He feels like his world is coming together after being in shambles. Nothing could compare to the way Chenle’s lips slide against his own.

Jisung pulls away first resting his forehead against Chenle’s, both of them panting slightly. Chenle giggles and Jisung would like to know why everything was so funny tonight. They lay there, Chenle’s hands now running through his hair and Jisung supporting his weight on his forearms.

He looks down into Chenle’s eyes the bedside light causes them to sparkle. Its been a while since he’s felt so happy and stress-free. Jisung takes a hand and pushes Chenle’s bangs up. He notices his sharp cheekbones, strong jawline, and the little smile on his face as he stares right back at him. Maybe Jisung could fuck with change this one time.

“Now what,” Jisung whispers.

Chenle leans up and pecks his lips. “Now we go to sleep.”

Sleep was a great place to start but it's not what he meant. He makes no attempt to move, keeping himself firmly planted on top of Chenle.

“No, now what, with us.”

“Now, you be my boyfriend.”

Jisung rolls off of Chenle bringing his hands to cover his face as pure joy course through his body. It's his turn to laugh, it comes out in little puffs. He turns his head to look at Chenle who was already staring at him. Jisung leans over and pecks his lips, once, twice, three times before backing off. He could spend forever just kissing him. Chenle grabs his hand and Jisung’s heart leaps.

Jisung wanted nothing more than to be his boyfriend.