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The Benefits of Heartbreak

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Jaemin doesn’t remember the exact when and how of meeting Lee Jeno. He must have been drunk. It must have been at last year’s Refreshers party. They must have been on the dance floor. 

What he does remember is Jeno’s breath in his mouth. His slender hands sneaking their way underneath Jaemin’s shirt, a little fidgety and a little impatient, trailing over his stomach. The way his eyes curved into crescents when Jaemin asked if he wanted to come home with him.

That’s what Jaemin remembers: Jeno saying yes.

He followed Jaemin to his apartment, was undressed before they even reached Jaemin’s bedroom, and panted, “How do you wanna do this?” while fumbling with the buckle of Jaemin’s belt. Jaemin had found Jeno’s legs to be the smoothest, softest he’s ever touched and thought to himself ‘god, I hope he sticks around’ before anything had even happened.

That was months ago. By now Jeno is a recurring guest in Jaemin’s bed, a familiar number in his phone’s contact list to hit up whenever Jaemin has nothing (and no one) else to do.

Sometimes they play a round of Mario Kart beforehand. Sometimes they discuss favourite movies and end up watching them together to make a final judgement. Sometimes after they’re done Jeno keeps Jaemin company while he smokes before pulling on his clothes and slipping out of Jaemin’s apartment. Sometimes he stays overnight, claiming Jaemin’s breakfast is too good to pass up.

He’s not Jaemin’s first fuck buddy, nor will he be the last.

And still, Jaemin finds himself wanting this to last a while longer. They both know how this goes and Jaemin likes it, the simplicity of it, the straight-forwardness of their acquaintance, hit it and quit it. No feelings. Just fun.

And oh, fun there is. Jaemin feels lucky to have finally found someone like Jeno. Unlike Jaemin’s last friend with benefits, Jeno is up to try the new things that Jaemin suggests and he’s easy-going and completely uncomplicated, just what Jaemin needs after a long day of avoiding responsibilities.

Being with Jeno is always a good time, no matter what they do or for how long. Even the times they’ve hurriedly hooked up in other people’s bathrooms have been worthwhile.

Jaemin appreciates that. They’re on the same wavelength and when they run into each other at parties, they take shots together and talk. Jeno is a pretty decent guy to be around and he laughs about almost every stupid thing Jaemin says.

It’s just that the friendship with him isn’t Jaemin’s main concern and he doesn’t think it’s Jeno’s, either. Everybody knows what happens when you get to know your FWB a little too well and it would truly be a shame if Jaemin had to end this because Jeno developed feelings or something. He’s not going to let it happen this time around; he’s already lost fuck buddies because they started asking for things he couldn’t give.

They keep it straight-forward.                                        

 

 

There are certain things that set Jeno apart from Jaemin’s previous fuck buddies. Things he likes, for example the fact that Jeno gives head in just the right kind of sloppy way that Jaemin prefers, or that Jeno waxes off every single hair on his body until he’s as smooth as a baby’s butt absolutely everywhere. Jeno doesn’t talk all that much, doesn’t ask intrusive questions, listens well to Jaemin.

Like now, when Jaemin tells him to slow down and Jeno doesn’t bob his head quite as fast. But to no avail; Jaemin is already close, feels the heat pool in his abdomen, the urge to buck up his hips and just fuck Jeno’s mouth however he wants to.

But he doesn’t. He twists his fingers into Jeno’s black hair and pulls him off his cock with a wet sound, stroking his cheek with his other hand. This is his absolute favourite way to see Jeno: lips swollen and red, a bit of drool on his chin, eyes blown. He looks debauched and Jaemin knows he’s the reason for it. The thought alone makes his dick twitch in Jeno’s loose hold.

Jeno tightens his grip a little and laughs when Jaemin’s hips jump on their own accord. “Close, huh? Don’t you want to come?”

“We don’t have time for a second round tonight and I really wanna fuck you,” Jaemin pants.

Jeno smiles and crawls up, hovering above Jaemin. “How considerate of you.”

Jeno is already so slick and open for him, his eyes fluttering shut when he sinks down on Jaemin’s cock after rolling the condom on. Jaemin gives him a moment to breathe and honestly, he needs it, too – Jeno feels so perfect around him, tight and hot, his hipbones sharp under his touch.

Jeno lifts himself up before dropping down again and Jaemin can’t stop the helpless noise from leaving his throat. The pace Jeno sets is fast and Jaemin feels like none of them is going to last long if he manages to keep it up.

When Jeno’s thighs start to tremble, Jaemin flips them over and fucks into Jeno deeper and Jeno groans, grabbing the sheets and then fistfuls of Jaemin’s ass. He seems desperate tonight, shamelessly chasing after his high, so Jaemin slows down just to be a dick.

“Nana,” Jeno whines, eyes fluttering open. They’re close, foreheads almost touching, and like this Jaemin can see how the fairy lights on Jaemin’s bed make Jeno’s dark eyes sparkle. He doesn’t move, just leans down to kiss Jeno’s jaw. Besides sweat and sex, Jeno smells like the sea salt shower gel he’s switched to a few weeks back; Jaemin likes it better than the previous mint one. “Move.”

Jaemin grinds into him slowly, as deep as he can, and Jeno throws his head back. He looks so fucking good like that, black hair splayed out on Jaemin’s light blue sheets, all for him. “You’re so pretty, Jeno.”

“I thought, fuck, you said we don’t have time –”

“We don’t,” Jaemin drawls, reaching down to run his fingers over Jeno’s leaking cock. “But you’re already so close…“

Jeno grabs Jaemin’s nape and pulls him down with more strength than Jaemin expected, kissing Jaemin’s throat before sinking his teeth into his skin. Jaemin lets out a rushed breath, hips stuttering on their own accord.

Out of all people Jaemin’s slept with, Jeno probably knows his weaknesses the best.

It turns into a game of who can make the other come the fastest. Jaemin speeds his thrusts up again, shifts to find the angle that makes Jeno moan his name in the filthiest way, and shoves his fingers into Jeno’s mouth. Jeno in turn runs his fingernails down Jaemin’s back, hard, grinding his hips against him with every thrust.

Jeno comes first. Jaemin doesn’t even have to touch him, the friction of them being pressed so close together enough to send him over the edge. Jaemin is about to make fun of him for it but then watches how Jeno reaches down to collect some of his cum and sticks his fingers in his mouth, licking it off while staring at Jaemin with the most sinful expression Jaemin has ever seen in his life, and that’s really all it takes.

 

Watching Jeno get dressed, a part of Jaemin wishes they’d been slower. Had taken more time. Maybe if they’re quick they do have time for a round two –

“I guess I’ll see you at Mark’s on Saturday?” Jeno asks without even looking. There’s a purple mark blooming under his jaw and Jaemin imagines he must look similar, or worse with how hard Jeno had bitten down.

“Yeah.”

“I’ll come prepared then.”

They both snort at Jeno’s choice of words and Jeno straightens, smoothing out his shirt as if that would erase the wrinkles. His hair is still messy and his cheeks still flushed and anyone who knows anything about college would immediately know what he was up to if they saw him, but Jaemin doesn’t think Jeno cares.

“Get home safe,” Jaemin says, gentler than he intended to.

“Don’t go all soft on me now.” Jeno pauses in slipping into his sneakers and smirks. “Na Jaemin, do you perhaps have a heart in that empty chest of yours?”

“I don’t. I’m powered by a ticking machine that runs on incredible self-confidence and caffeine,” Jaemin replies but as he says it, his heart jumps a little, presses against his ribs a little harder, the way it usually does when his six-shot Americano finally kicks in.

Jeno laughs and Jaemin’s heart stumbles again. “Can’t argue with that. See you soon, Nana.”

He slips out the door silently, leaving Jaemin behind.

He gets up and grabs the pack of cigarettes from his messy desk before opening the window and lighting himself one. He’s not supposed to smoke in here and he can already hear Renjun complaining but he’s too lazy to walk down six flights of stairs to go outside. The familiar scent alone is almost enough to erase the weird feeling in his chest, one that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

It’s probably just the afterglow. That’s all.

 

 

Jaemin’s in bed with Eunbin when Jeno texts him. Eunbin likes talking about random shit afterwards and she’s nice enough, one of those girls that can easily outsmart Jaemin when she wants to, so sometimes Jaemin at least pretends to listen.

They’ve been doing this for a while, on and off, and Jaemin’s quite happy about it because Eunbin, much like Jeno, often indulges his suggestions.

She’s talking about some problem with her economics module when Jaemin’s phone display lights up with a familiar notification where its resting on the mattress.

“Someone else demanding your attention?” Eunbin asks with a twitch of one of her perfect eyebrows.

Jaemin hums in confirmation, staring at Jeno’s what are u up to? “Just an FWB.”

“Someone I know?”

“Dunno,” Jaemin looks at her. “You know Lee Jeno? He’s in aeronautical engineering.”

“You’re fucking Lee Jeno?” she asks incredulously and sits up a little, obviously surprised. “I thought he does hook-ups only.”

It’s Jaemin’s turn to be taken aback. “What, has he said that?”

“Not specifically, but – my friend slept with him. And she offered her number and stuff but he told her he’s just the ONS type and left. So she asked some others and everyone kind of said the same thing.”

“Huh.” Strange. Jeno has never once mentioned that to him. He was even the one to suggest seeing each other again, if Jaemin remembers correctly. “Guess I changed his mind.”

She bats her eyelashes at him and slowly runs her fingertip down his chest. “Can’t say I blame him.”

Jaemin smiles lazily. “Oh yeah?”

“Hmm.”

She smiles when he pulls her closer again but when he kisses her he’s still thinking about Jeno, wondering if he should answer him and ask what makes him special instead of being in a bed with another FWB he doesn’t really care about.

 

 

On Saturday night, Jaemin finds himself in Mark’s flat, surrounded by drunk college kids who are getting more and more out of control. The floor is already sticky because someone spilled soda here earlier and Jungwoo is currently in control of the music system, which is never a good idea because in two minutes girls will start grinding against each other to something like Ariana Grande, and then everything will spin out of proportion.

Jaemin doesn’t know why Mark keeps doing that to himself; everybody knows you should never be host. But Mark’s always been too nice for his own good, always works too hard for the comfort of others. Jaemin tries not to exploit it too much, or at least not anymore.

However.

He’s drunk. It’s not even eleven but there he is, unsteady on his feet. He’d done shots with Renjun and Mark’s housemate Yukhei earlier, feeling strangely like a third wheel with the way they kept giggling at each other’s every word. He’s going to ask Renjun about it tomorrow, if he remembers.

Right now, though, there are more important things that demand his attention.

“Fuck,” Jaemin pants against Jeno’s mouth, his fingers dipping under Jeno’s waistband and finding no underwear. “You weren’t kidding about being prepared.”

“Shut up and kiss me,” Jeno murmurs and surges forward to bite at the shell of Jaemin’s ear. He’s drunk as well, more so than Jaemin, and he’s already half hard when he pushes himself against Jaemin more insistently. It must be so uncomfortable with the jeans he’s wearing but Jaemin appreciates the sentiment.

“You sure you wanna do this?” Jaemin asks. He leans away from Jeno to look at him, steadying him with his hands on his hips. Jeno blinks at him owlishly, cheeks flushed from either excitement or alcohol. “Dude, you’re pretty far gone –”

“I didn’t wait around all night just for you to tell me this,” Jeno slurs. “I even – d’you know how hard it is to wax everything down there? Show some apprecia- apprecit –”

Jaemin snorts. “Take your time.”

“Why don’t you –”

Actually,” Jaemin says, more insistent this time, “come outside with me for a smoke and see how you’re doing then.”

 

Jaemin hates himself a little bit for having started smoking after swearing to his mother back in high school he would never do it. But university does things to people; Mark is no longer all that religious, Renjun changed his major more often that Jaemin cares to remember and, well. He’s going to stop again, some day. Just not right now.

To his own surprise, Jeno steals the cigarette from his lips and takes a deep drag. He coughs and hands it back to Jaemin immediately, and Jaemin laughs.

“How can you like this,” Jeno complains, making a face. His eyes are less unfocused out here but he’s still far from sober.

“I don’t really,” Jaemin admits. “But unfortunately I’m addicted now.”

Jeno pulls another face. He’s leaning against Jaemin for support, his body heat seeping into Jaemin’s bones, and one of his hands crawls up Jaemin’s waist. “Can we fuck now?”

“You’re sure you’re going to remember tomorrow?”

“One hundred per cent.”

Jaemin considers him for a moment longer. Jeno seems to try hard to keep it together and he really does look alright despite the rosy cheeks and the sheen in his eyes. Most of all, he looks fuckable; the collar of his white shirt slipped enough to reveal his sharp clavicles and Jaemin really isn’t selfless enough to let him go. “Fine.”

“You make it sound like a chore,” Jeno complains.

“Maybe it is, what do you know.”

Jeno smiles, his long fingers circling Jaemin’s wrist as he pulls him back inside, almost tripping over the steps. “You like me too much, Na Jaemin. That’s what I know.”

 

There’s nothing like it, Jaemin thinks. Hooking up in someone else’s room with Jeno when he’s just the right kind of drunk. The hurried snap of his hips against Jeno’s, the possibility of someone finding them if they’re not quick enough, Jeno’s breathy moans, asking for more. Jeno’s back muscles flexing under his hands when Jaemin bends him over someone else’s table, the shape of Jeno’s abs when he tenses, the black hair sticking to his forehead with sweat. There’s nothing like watching Lee Jeno fall apart, knowing he’s the reason for it, the reason for the flutter of Jeno’s eyelashes and every raw noise that leaves his throat.

They both come fast. Maybe Jaemin has a bit of a thing for semi-public sex or maybe it’s because Jeno is too slick and too hot and too impatient. Maybe it’s because Jeno’s skin is so smooth no matter where Jaemin puts his hands. Maybe it’s because Jeno, with his broken, fucked-out, rough voice, groans, “Come inside me, Nana.”

Yeah. It was probably that.

He doesn’t know why he says it. Why he even thinks about it. Is that what people call a red flag? Maybe. Maybe he’s just being nice. He doesn’t really care.

“My house is closer if you wanna sleep over,” Jaemin says. But it makes sense, right? Jaemin has let people crash before when they were too drunk to get home by themselves. He’s just going to ignore that Jeno said his housemate is here with his car.

Jeno looks at him for a moment, eyes glassy, almost feverish. “Sure.”

They make themselves presentable again before they leave the room together. Jeno is a little unsteady on his feet but for a different reason now, and Jaemin keeps a hand on his shoulder just in case.

The party is in full swing when they get back to the living room. Someone’s started a round of beer pong on the coffee table, people crowding around it to watch and cheer, and Jaemin spots Renjun on the couch where he’s talking to Yukhei with one leg thrown over his thigh.

“Hey,” Jaemin greets them. “Jeno’s crashing at ours, just so you now.”

Renjun levels him a look, then glances behind him at Jeno. “Don’t fuck on anything that belongs to me.”

“We would never.”

Renjun narrows his eyes but Jaemin waves before he can say anything and pulls Jeno along with him. It always takes like half an hour trying to leave a party when there are so many people to say bye to.

They finally run into Mark, who looks incredibly stressed and nowhere near drunk enough, but Jaemin doesn’t find it in him to care right now.

“You guys are leaving already?” Mark asks, looking a little bit sad, and Jaemin almost feels bad. “You have to come by again soon, it’s like I never see you anymore, Jaemin.”

“I’ll bring him next time,” Jeno promises and Mark gives him a strange look, as if it’s something surprising. Jaemin doesn’t understand it but he isn’t really trying to, not when Jeno’s hand is on the small of his back, either steadying himself or making sure he doesn’t lose him or maybe just using it as a reminder. Jaemin’s already thinking about pushing Jeno onto his bed.

 

In the end it’s Jaemin who gets thrown onto the mattress, Jeno landing on top of him. They make out for a while but Jaemin can tell from the drag of Jeno’s tongue and the slow fumbling of his hands that Jeno is on the brink of sleep already.

Jaemin finds he doesn’t really mind it. He’s already gotten what he wanted and he knows if he asks nicely he’ll probably get it again tomorrow morning, depending on how bad Jeno’s hangover is.

And deep down, if Jaemin wasn’t such a practiced liar, if he knew how to be honest with himself just for a moment, maybe he’d let himself think about how nice it feels to have Jeno close to him like this.

But he doesn’t. Jeno passes out on the right side of the bed, as always, face buried in the pillow as if trying to suffocate himself, as always. Jaemin rolls onto the other side, back facing Jeno, and drags his teeth over his still swollen bottom lip where the taste of vodka and Jeno lingers. He’s going to regret not having washed up in the morning but the gentle sound of Jeno’s quiet breathing lulls him to sleep before he knows it.

 

 

It’s sometime in the early afternoon when Jeno wakes him up. It’s really saying something about Jaemin’s sleep patterns that despite how smashed Jeno was yesterday, he’s still awake earlier. Jaemin rolls away from the hand pushing at his shoulder, refusing to open his eyes and face the hangover just yet.

“Nana,” he hears Jeno say, his voice rough and unused, before he feels Jeno’s lips on his nape. “Am I going to get breakfast or should I just slink away like a normal fling?”

It takes Jaemin a few moments to be conscious enough for an answer. When he finally collects the motivation to open his eyes, Jeno’s half sitting, half lying on the other side of the bed, black hair mussed and eyes still a little swollen from sleep. He looks adorable and Jaemin hates that that’s his first thought. “You can stay for breakfast.”

Jeno smiles.

 

As Jaemin had to discover the first time they did this, Jeno is absolutely useless in the kitchen, so he sits at the little wobbly IKEA table, looking adorable with his glasses but also like he got run over by a bus. There’s a cup of coffee in front of him and the bottle of milk next to it because the coffee Jaemin makes is too strong for him.

(“This isn’t coffee,” Jeno had said, wrinkling his nose. “This is poison. A concoction of the bitterest, oldest souls from hell –”

“Or maybe,” Jaemin had replied, sliding his fingers into Jeno’s dark hair to tug until he looked up at him, “maybe you’re just weak.”)

It’s quiet save for the eggs sizzling in the pan. Both their headaches are too strong for music right now and Jaemin likes that Jeno doesn’t constantly have to talk or be entertained.

When the food’s done, Jaemin sets the pan down on the coaster in the middle of the table and hands Jeno a pair of wooden chopsticks that he’d stolen from the Chinese takeaway a block from here. Jeno thanks him and they eat in silence. Occasionally Jeno pushes a crispy bit of egg over to Jaemin’s side because he knows Jaemin likes them and he’s sweet like that, but otherwise they’re lost in their own thoughts.

Things like this come so much easier with Jeno than they have with other people. Jaemin doesn’t feel like he has to break the quiet or be overly polite; Jeno already knows him well enough not to make the silence awkward.

“Do you want this?” Jeno asks, pointing at the last bit of fried egg yolk with his chopsticks. Jaemin shakes his head and watches Jeno eat, the bob of his throat when he swallows, the way he licks a little bit of sesame oil off his thumb. Jaemin wonders if these things are attractive to him because of the nature of their relationship or if Jeno’s this hot to everybody else, too.

Just then Renjun slouches into the kitchen, looking disgruntled and generally a little dead. He’s wearing Jaemin’s baby blue bathrobe, much too big on his slight frame, but Jaemin’s eyes immediately zero in on the hickey on his neck anyway.

“Had a good time yesterday?” he asks, pushing a cup of coffee towards Renjun (black, but with three sugars).

Renjun gives him a withering look and doesn’t say anything. Jaemin takes it as a yes.

“What are you still doing here?” Renjun asks Jeno. “You’re going to have to pay rent if you keep this up.”

Jeno’s eyes grow wide and innocent. He’s good at that – looking innocent. “Just finished breakfast. Also I’ll do the dishes.”

“So you’re eating our food, too? Outrageous.”

“Let him live,” Jaemin says. “He pays for delivery sometimes and I know it’s you who always eats the leftovers.”

The furrow between Renjun’s eyebrows doesn’t vanish but he sighs. “Fine. You get away with it this time.” With that, he swirls around and leaves the kitchen again.

“He’s really something,” Jeno says, looking after him. “How do you live with him?”

“That’s a bit rich coming from someone who lives with Hyuck.”

Jaemin has met Jeno’s flatmate Donghyuck only a handful of times but those sure were impressionable. His flair for the dramatic is evident in everything he does and he seems to find a special kind of pleasure in torturing people, especially Mark, with his antics. Jaemin thinks only someone as easy-going as Jeno could stand to share a flat with him.

Which isn’t to say that he doesn’t like Hyuck. Quite the opposite really; he just wouldn’t want to live with him.

“That’s fair.” Jeno gets up and collects the dishes to clean them.

 

Jeno leaves after he’s done with the dishes, wishing Jaemin luck with his mobile story production assignment which he’d honestly forgotten about until now. After a quick shower he joins Renjun in the living room with his laptop. Jaemin can never focus in his room; there are too many distractions, most importantly his bed which seems to develop a special sort of gravity after he’s created the title page.

Renjun’s watching some kind of space program on their old TV, instead of coffee now nursing jasmine tea. He ignores Jaemin when he sits down next to him but Jaemin is thinking about Yukhei and ways he could procrastinate starting this assignment.

“So. You and Yukhei, huh?” he asks.

Renjun doesn’t even glance at him. “You and Jeno, huh?”

“That’s not the same,” Jaemin dismisses. “You don’t do friends with benefits.”

“Well, he isn’t.”

“Then what is he?”

Renjun remains silent for a while, which is already a confession in and of itself.

“You don’t know,” Jaemin drawls, like a cat that got the canary. “Huang Renjun, letting someone into his ice-cold heart? I didn’t think I’d live to see the day.”

“Fuck right off,” Renjun snaps. “It’s – not nothing, but I’m just looking how this goes.”

“Aw, that’s cute, please keep me updated on your love life –”

“At least I allow myself to have feelings. Unlike someone else I know.” Renjun looks at him pointedly. “You’ve been doing this a lot with Jeno. Letting him stay over and stuff.”

Jaemin raises an eyebrow. “So? If you’re mad that I’m sexiling you so often –”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean?”

“I just want you to be careful. You’re not really acting like just fuck buddies lately.”

Jaemin frowns. “You know I don’t –”

“– do feelings, yeah, I know. You’ve never had to be careful, blah blah. But just trust me right now and like, don’t get attached, okay?”

“I can’t believe you think I’m the one who’d catch feelings.”

Renjun snorts. “Someone’s already liked you once. The chances of that happening twice are very slim.”

Jaemin makes a face. He remembers Bomin alright. “Dick.”

“Don’t come crying to me when you realise I’m right.”

“Never, bro.”

They fall into a familiar, comfortable silence and Jaemin forces himself to focus on his assignment, or tries to anyway. Him, catching feelings? For Jeno out of all people? Ridiculous.

He doesn’t want anything from Jeno. Not more than he already has anyway. It’s normal to crave the presence of a friend sometimes, isn’t it? It’s normal to appreciate someone. As a friend.

Nothing else.

 

 

They’re both on their phones chilling on Jeno’s bed and Jaemin is having a pretty good streak on Crossy Road when Jeno asks, “Wanna come get high with me?”

Jaemin promptly gets run over and looks over at him. “What, now?”

Jeno nods. “Hyuck just texted me saying he and Mark made edibles.”

“Huh. I didn’t know they actually hang out. How did Mark survive?”

“We can question that later. So do you want to?”

Jaemin considers that. He really doesn’t need much convincing; it’s free food and free weed and a free ride with someone who he can probably talk into sucking his dick again later. “Sure.”

They get ready quickly and Jeno drives them over to Mark’s flat. Yukhei is there too and Jaemin wonders if maybe he should ask Renjun to come here as well when he spots said boy in the kitchen.

“So this is where you escape to,” Jaemin says when he saunters up to the counter. The kitchen is a complete disaster of pots and utensils and it smells like chocolate cake and mildly of burnt rubber. “I see how it is.”

Renjun shoots him a poisonous look and shoves a paper plate with a brownie on it into Jaemin’s hands. “I know Hyuck said he made these but it was me. Don’t believe anything he says. He and Mark should never be in a kitchen together.”

“That’s a bit mean now, don’t you think?” Hyuck drawls, joining them. “Who mixed the batter again?”

“Xuxi,” Renjun deadpans.

Jaemin’s eyebrows shoot up, immediately distracted. “Xuxi? You’re on nickname basis now?”

“Shut up before I take that damn brownie away from you.”

Jaemin takes that as his cue to escape the kitchen. He’s lived with Renjun for long enough to know that his lack in height and weight don’t stop him from winning physical fights.

He finds Mark and Jeno sitting on the couch in the living room. Mark looks like he’s crossed out of his mind already, eyes blood-shot, expression more relaxed than Jaemin’s seen since the last time they slept with each other, which was quite a while ago.

“Jaemin, my dude,” Mark calls, shuffling aside to make space and Jaemin sits down between them. Jeno immediately throws one leg over Jaemin’s thigh and Jaemin rests his plate on it. “I haven’t seen you in a hundred years.”

“That’s not even true –“

Mark pinches Jaemin’s cheek and Jaemin realises that he’s completely out of it, so he lets him be.

The brownie’s good, if a little dry. It takes a while to hit but when it does Jaemin lets himself melt into the couch pillows, shoulder pressed against Jeno’s to revel in his body heat. By now Jeno has moved both his legs onto Jaemin’s so that he’s almost sitting on his lap and everything is warm.

Jaemin loves it, that soft, light-headed feeling, the haze, the way it makes his face feel like it’s glowing. Someone put on Buzzfeed Unsolved on TV but no one’s watching, just talking among themselves. Hyuck’s rolling joints on the coffee table while Renjun and Yukhei are sitting in the armchair on the other side. Yangyang arrived too but he’s hanging out with his gang in the kitchen and the rest of them are squished on the couch. Jeno’s saying something about thermo-fluids to Mark which Jaemin figures makes sense since they’re both studying engineering, though Mark is in automotive.

Jaemin can’t really contribute but he listens anyway. He likes Jeno’s speaking voice; it’s low and calm and he never really gets too loud unless there’s some kind of game involved. With the relaxed fuzziness of being high, he sounds perfect to Jaemin even when the words don’t make sense.

 

Hyuck takes Renjun, Jeno and him outside to the tiny patio to smoke and they stand in a little circle, passing two joints around. Having Renjun in Hyuck in close proximity with each other is always a riot because none of them take each other’s bullshit. At times Jaemin thinks Renjun might be the only person with enough power to make Hyuck stop bullying Mark but so far he hasn’t used it, much to Hyuck’s joy.

Jaemin’s quite easily distracted, though. Their bickering fades into the background when he looks at Jeno instead, at the way his beautiful slender fingers bend when Jaemin takes the joint from him to take another drag.

“Hey Jeno,” Jaemin drawls. “Come here.”

Jeno looks at him and lets himself be pulled forward by his nape. He seems to know what Jaemin is going for because he opens his mouth so that Jaemin can blow the smoke into it and breathes in deeply.

“Can I kiss you?” Jeno asks. His eyelashes flutter and he’s so pretty Jaemin doesn’t think anyone could say no.

So Jaemin kisses him. It’s a languid kiss, no teeth and just tongue, slow and sensual and all under the comforting haze they’re both in now. It’s easy to forget that Hyuck and Renjun are standing not too far away from them. It’s easy to forget that other things matter. Right now there’s only Jeno and his hot breath in Jaemin’s mouth, his hands on his waist and the prospect of getting lost in him for the rest of the night.

Someone clears their throat and Jaemin reluctantly pulls back. Renjun’s standing in the threshold with his arms crossed, an eyebrow raised in question. “Are you quite done? Let’s get back inside.”

Jaemin doesn’t feel anything but warmth right now and a part of him wants to snap at Renjun for interrupting. Honestly he wouldn’t mind being locked out here with Jeno, maybe press him against the wall and feel him up a little.

But Jeno sighs and takes Jaemin by the wrist, pulling him back inside with Renjun following them. Not even baked out of his mind does Jaemin miss the way Renjun’s gaze is burning on the back of his head.

 

They end up in the backseat of Jeno’s car, less high and more desperate. Jeno was supposed to drop Jaemin off at his apartment but Jaemin had run a hand up Jeno’s thigh and then they were kissing, and now they’re here, pressed against each other in the tiny space of Jeno’s shoebox of a vehicle.

Jeno is shamelessly grinding against Jaemin’s thigh, making quiet breathy noises against Jaemin’s throat. Jaemin keeps his hands on Jeno’s ass, pushing him closer to help with the friction, enjoying the shudder that goes through Jeno every time he squeezes. Jaemin likes things like this – it’s so simple, mindless, just getting off quickly without caring much about how, and somehow doing this with Jeno feels better than it ever has with anyone else. Jaemin feels how the tension builds in Jeno’s body, his movements getting faster and sloppier and then he goes still, sinking his teeth into Jaemin’s neck to muffle the rough moan when he comes.

“Fuck,” Jeno pants. “Hey, let me...”

Jaemin scoots up until he’s pressed against the car door, giving Jeno enough space to support himself between his thighs. It’s uncomfortable but Jaemin doesn’t care right now.

Jeno pushes Jaemin’s shirt up and presses his mouth to his abdomen, sliding his lips down Jaemin’s body until they reach the waistband of his sweats. Jaemin asked him once if his body hair annoyed him since Jeno himself got rid of it but Jeno said no and trailed his finger down Jaemin’s slight happy trail the same way he does now. His teeth snag Jaemin’s waistband and pull it down just enough for Jeno to pull Jaemin’s dick out, and Jaemin fights back a groan when Jeno ghosts his breath over the head before giving it a kittenish lick and taking it into his mouth.

“Fuck, you feel so good,” Jaemin grits out. When they first started out Jaemin’s confidence in his own blowjob skills had cracked a little but Jeno had told him that he had an oral fixation that made it a lot more fun and a lot easier for him. It had been one of those few moments where Jaemin had thought holy shit what the fuck immediately followed by maybe perfect people do exist.

Sometimes Jaemin really can’t believe how lucky he got. Jeno lets him have his way with him, lets Jaemin grab his hair and fuck his throat however he wants, and Jaemin’s close ridiculously fast. He pulls out just in time, jacks himself once, twice, before he groans and spills all over Jeno’s face. He watches Jeno lick away what he can reach with his tongue and then fumbles around for a tissue.

Jeno drags himself up and kisses Jaemin when he’s finished cleaning up. “That was fun.”

“Yeah.” Jaemin pulls his sweats back up and clambers out of the car, legs still a little wobbly and his heartbeat still too fast. “See you soon?”

Jeno smiles. “Definitely.”

 

 

It’s Friday night, ten in the evening, and Jaemin is squished into the corner of his second-hand couch, wrapped up in approximately five blankets. Outside, a bunch of college kids are interrupting Jaemin’s reruns of Yuri on Ice with their drunk hollering.

He could’ve been one of them. If things were normal, if this was any other Friday, he would have been.

But no. To Renjun’s question of whether he wanted to go out with them he’d declined, causing Renjun to double back and gape at him.

“Are you sick or something?” he’d asked.

Or something, Jaemin thought to himself. But he just said he was tired – which is true – and didn’t feel like going out – also true – and wanted a little time to himself – which is a lie.

Honestly, Jaemin is regretting his life decisions a little. Maybe getting drunk and making out with strangers would be a good distraction from whatever’s wrong with him right now. He could probably still catch up with his friends if he tried.

But he doesn’t really want to. There’s only one person’s company that he wants and the fact that he wants it so badly is keeping him from reaching out.

Turns out he doesn’t have to.

Jaemin’s phone lights up with an incoming call. The peach and water drops emojis tell him it’s Jeno calling and Jaemin wonders if the sudden speed of his heart is just a Pavlovian effect. It better be. “What’s up?”

“Hey,” Jeno says. “What are you doing right now?”

Jaemin glances at his muted laptop. “Nothing much, why?”

“You’re not out?”

“Nah. Is this a booty call?”

“Sort of, maybe,” Jeno says evasively. “I realise it’s short notice but I actually wanted to ask if you wanna go see that new Marvel movie with me? Hyuck cancelled on me but I already got the tickets.”

“What, just us?” Jaemin asks.

Jeno snorts. “Don’t worry, it’s not a date. It’s just us watching a movie in a theatre instead of on your shitty TV and if you want you can still come to mine afterwards to, you know.”

“Free movie tickets and sex,” Jaemin muses. “You really know what to say to a guy, huh.”

Jeno laughs on the other end, that choppy, breathy sound that Jaemin already knows so well. “I’m making you pay for popcorn though.”

“That’s fair, I guess.”

“Cool. I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes if that’s okay?”

“Yeah, sure.”

They hang up and Jaemin stares into space for two seconds, contemplating whether or not this is going to be a mistake, before he shuts his laptop and hurries to the shower.

 

Jeno is wearing his usual hang out clothes when Jaemin gets into his car – baby blue hoodie, ripped jeans, sneakers – and he smells like fabric softener. He smiles his signature eye smile when Jaemin greets him and everything about it, his look, the situation, the premise, it all makes anticipation rise in Jaemin. Jeno just looks so soft like this and Jaemin’s already thinking about how to ruin him, about letting him wear the hoodie while Jeno rides him –

“Can’t believe it’s Friday night and you were staying in. Are you getting old?” Jeno asks, pulling into traffic. The glow of the passing street lights wash out the sharp lines of his face and maybe if this really was a date in some parallel universe Jaemin would let himself think about how nice Jeno looks like this.

“I’m just as surprised as you,” Jaemin replies. “Wasn’t really feeling it, I don’t know.”

Jeno grins. “Good thing that you have me to save you.”

Yeah, Jaemin thinks, good thing I have you.

 

“That movie was good. Really good,” Jeno pants, lifting the hem of Jaemin’s shirt to pull it off. “Still prefer Black Panther, though.”

“I thought your favourite was Spiderverse,” Jaemin replies. Jeno is already naked save for his blue hoodie, his cheeks flushed when Jaemin pushes him down on the bed and kisses his neck.

“Yeah, but that’s, like, a different – a different thing.”

“If you’d said ‘different universe’ I would’ve hit you.”

“What was your favourite again?”

Jaemin gasps, fake-offended, and pulls away. Jeno whines and tries to drag Jaemin back but Jaemin slaps his hand away. “I can’t believe you don’t remember. It’s like you don’t even know me.”

“Come on, Nana.”

“No. Don’t even touch me.”

“Was it Thor 3?”

No, Jen, what the hell –“

“Just tell me. Don’t you want to fuck me?”

Jaemin considers Jeno who’s half sitting, half lying against the bed’s headboard, knees falling apart and his hands twisted in his hoodie. It’s undeniable that Jeno’s beautiful at any given point during the day but like this, flushed and impatient, he looks almost irresistible. Almost. “I think you want it more than me.”

Jeno tips his head back in annoyance. “You’re a dick, you know that?”

Jaemin grabs the bottle of lube from the sheets and hands it to Jeno, who takes it with a frown. “Be a good boy and get started while I think about it.”

Jaemin’s resolve holds until Jeno has three fingers in himself, making those breathy noises he likes, twisting his other hand into his sheets to keep from touching himself. Even now, when Jaemin hasn’t even told him to, Jeno is so good for him.

“Okay,” Jaemin says, crawling over Jeno, and blows his breath over his throat. “I got bored of just watching.”

“You don’t seem bored,” Jeno replies and cups Jaemin where he’s hard and straining against his jeans. Jeno makes quick work of the fly and pushes Jaemin’s pants just down far enough to pull him out. Jaemin bites back a groan at the feeling of Jeno’s slick hand around him.

“Can I suck you off first?”

“Sure.”

Jaemin kicks his jeans off and shifts to straddle Jeno’s chest and Jeno’s hands are already on his hips, pulling him closer. Jaemin feels his breath on his dick before heat envelops him.

Jeno is too good at this. Jaemin doesn’t think he ever wants someone else to suck his dick again; his standards are too high now. It never takes long until Jaemin’s close, until Jeno’s spit drips off his chin onto his chest, eyes closed with his dark lashes feathering across his flushed cheekbones.

“You’re so perfect for me, baby.” Jaemin grips Jeno’s hair, pulling him back. Jeno pants and opens his eyes, fingernails lightly digging into his hips.

“You really love it when I do this, huh?” Jeno asks.

“Shut up,” Jaemin says and rips open the condom wrapper before rolling it on quickly. “If you’re bratty I won’t let you come.”

Jeno makes a whiny noise but spreads his legs willingly when Jaemin taps his thigh. “You’re so mean to me.”

“Mean? Me? I’m literally so kind to you.” He lubes himself up before pushing two fingers into Jeno just to feel the give and Jeno grinds against him immediately.

“I’m so much kinder,” Jeno replies. “I still let you fuck me even when you’re so mean.”

“Let me be good to you then.” Jaemin lines himself up and pushes in, bottoming out quickly. Jeno chokes on a gasp, his body tensing up for a moment. Jaemin kisses him until he feels Jeno relax and then finally starts to move.

“Please get tested,” Jeno breathes, looking up at Jaemin through his messy bangs, “so we can do it without protection some time.”

Jaemin groans, hips stuttering. “You’re gonna be the death of me, baby.”

 

“So what was your favourite?”

“Iron Man 3.”

“Oh yeah, I remember now!”

“We should rewatch it, so you realise its unforgettable amazingness.”

“Sure, but next time? I gotta study.”

“You’re kicking me out?”

“I wouldn’t have to if you weren’t so distracting.”

“Distracting, huh. I’m not even doing anything…”

“Get out.”

 

 

Jaemin is still thinking about Jeno when he unlocks the door and finds Renjun sitting in the kitchen, looking shell-shocked and a little bit ill.

“Injun?” Jaemin asks. “You alright?”

Renjun looks at him, his shoulders sinking when he exhales deeply. “Yukhei said he likes me. As in, like like.”

“Oh.” Jaemin pulls out the chair on the other side of the table and sits down. Renjun has a cup of tea sitting next to him, probably one of those herbal mixes he claims are relaxing. Jaemin thinks they taste like medicine. “Isn’t that… a good thing?”

“Well, I don’t know.” Renjun frowns at the table top like it might give him the answer. His small hands are twisting and untwisting and Jaemin’s Best Friend Instincts are kicking in.

The thing is, he’s known Renjun since he was eleven. He was the first person Jaemin came out to back then, the one who knows that Jaemin is secretly a little bit scared of monkeys (they’re creepy, okay), and the one who was there when Jaemin had his first panic attack, right after high school graduation.

It’s the same Renjun that ditched his first boyfriend because he didn’t like feeling so vulnerable. Felt like he gave away too much of himself, as he’d told Jaemin when he showed up at his door at two am with his face red from crying.

At sixteen, Jaemin didn’t really understand him but he does now. Because feelings are scary and risky and honestly not worth it. He and Renjun are the same in that sense.

They’re not kids anymore. Everyone else would have gotten a brotherly pat on the shoulder, a ‘hey bro, it’s gonna be alright’ and maybe an offer to go out next weekend. But it’s Renjun, Jaemin’s best friend, and when they were young they used to sleep in one bed.

So he gets up, pulls Renjun off the chair, and hugs him. Properly. Renjun’s short and small and wiry with more fight in him than the entire football team combined, but he buries his face in Jaemin’s chest without complaint, locking his arms around him. Jaemin feels the speed of his breathing against him and rubs his slim shoulders.

“I know feelings are terrifying,” Jaemin says quietly. “That’s why I try so hard to run away from them. But you – you don’t run away from things anymore, Injun. You’re a tough motherfucker, remember? If Yukhei said he likes you than he does; I don’t think he has the ability to lie. The question now is just if you like him back enough to… to try this with him.”

Renjun sighs and pulls back a little to look at Jaemin’s face. “What do you think of him?”

Jaemin thinks about how Yukhei smiled when Renjun finally gave in and sat on his lap the last time he was here. Thinks about how Renjun laughed when Yukhei re-enacted one of their professors, so hard that he made that really ugly snorting noise, and Yukhei had paused to give him the most smitten look imaginable.

“I think he’s great,” Jaemin says honestly. “I like him.”

Renjun knocks his forehead against Jaemin’s shoulder. “I like him, too.”

“There’s your answer then.”

“I don’t know why I’m taking relationship advice from you out of all people.”

Jaemin pulls back a little and smiles his most smug grin at Renjun. “It’s because I know you best.”

“Just you wait.” Renjun rolls his eyes and pushes him away. “It’s going to catch you, too, one day.”

Just like that things are back to normal, back to push and pull, but Jaemin thinks about their conversation for a while.

Does Renjun like Jeno?

Jaemin shakes his head and focuses back on the fish he’s preparing for dinner. It doesn’t matter whether or not Renjun likes Jeno; he’s never going to be more than a fuck buddy, that’s all. Jaemin will never have to worry about it.

Except he already does.

 

 

From: Jen 🍑 💦
jaemin
nana
help
pls :(

 

To: Jen 🍑 💦
(⑉⊙ȏ⊙)
are u ok???

 

From: Jen 🍑 💦
no im at work
I hate this place
I was robbed of my break earlier and didn’t eat
so now im starving and having a Very Bad Day
can u bring me food
pretty pls?
ill suck ur dick in the yoga room :(

 

Jaemin stares at his phone. He didn’t really need the extra incentive but Jeno always knows exactly what to say to get Jaemin to hurry up.

 

To: Jen 🍑 💦
what kinda takeaway should I get u then

 

From: Jen 🍑 💦
well
👉 👈

 

To: Jen 🍑 💦
u want my rice don’t u

 

From: Jen 🍑 💦
😇

 

To: Jen 🍑 💦
🙄 will be there in like 20min

 

From: Jen 🍑 💦
thx~
come to the back exit

 

Jeno works as a part-time trainer at their university’s fitness centre which Jaemin thinks is an atrocity. He’ll never say this to Jeno’s face, though; there are perks of regularly sleeping with someone who also cares about being fit and sometimes when Jaemin comes to work out while Jeno is on shift, Jeno gives him extra attention and discounts on the drinks. 

Jeno is already waiting on the stairs at the back exit when Jaemin arrives. He really wasn’t kidding about having a bad day, Jaemin thinks. He sure looks the part with the dark bruises under his eyes, face pale, body slumping against the wall, and he’s even wearing those glasses he usually never puts on in public. One of the campus cats sits next to him, rubbing her head against his knee as if to comfort him. (Sometimes Jaemin thinks Jeno might be some kind of cat magnet. The amount of cats that seem to flock to Jeno whenever they go anywhere just can’t be normal.)

“Ugh, you’re god-sent,” Jeno says, gratefully accepting the plastic bag Jaemin hands him. “I probably would’ve passed out at some point if not for you.”

There are a lot of things Jaemin could answer, like telling Jeno off for not bringing snacks or being too nice to say no to extra work, but a part of him likes doing these things for Jeno. Maybe it’s the form of payment he receives but Jaemin thinks he’d do it even without sexual favours. No one likes Jaemin’s food as much as Jeno does and it feels good to be appreciated, feels good to be needed for something other than his dick. 

“You should eat this right now while it’s still warm,” Jaemin says. “Also I need that lunchbox back asap because it’s Renjun’s and if he finds out that I gave it to you he’ll skin me alive.”

Jeno looks up, hands already buried in the bag to pull out the contents. “Should I blow you first?”

Jaemin waves him off and sits down next to him. The steps are slightly warm from the sun and Jaemin can’t wait until spring really picks up. “Nah, you don’t look too hot. You can repay me some other time. Everything okay?”

Jeno sighs and pulls the wooden chopsticks apart. “I’m stressed as hell. If I didn’t need the money so badly I’d quit but alas I’m not a trust fund baby like Hendery, but I also have a shit load of assignments due next week – why do they always put the deadlines on like, the same three days? Do they want us to quit? Is it to weed out the ones who can’t handle pressure? I don’t know but I currently hate life and it hates me right back.”

“Maybe look for a job that doesn’t give you double shifts? I heard they’re looking for someone at the library,” Jaemin suggests. “Hours would be easier. And besides, you somehow always ace your assignments anyway.”

That’s true. Somehow Jeno gets away with studying for what seems to be five minutes to keep his perfect GPA while Jaemin has to struggle through hours and hours of revision and editing only to end up in the upper average.

Jeno makes an indiscernible noise through his mouthful of rice and then starts rambling about the perks of working at the gym, the main things being that he stays fit and gets complimented a lot. Leave it to Jeno to suffer through a job just because of praise. Jaemin lets him talk, watches him basically inhale the rice while petting the cat with his other hand and then sigh contently as he leans back. There’s some more colour on his face now but he still looks tired out.

“Let me suck you off,” Jaemin says without thinking.

Jeno blinks at him. “What?”

“Let me make you feel good. I don’t like seeing you so stressed.”

That sounds a lot like I care, Jaemin thinks. It might be true. From a purely platonic point of view, of course. Who likes to see their friends suffer? No one.

“You can make up for it later,” Jaemin says and after another few seconds Jeno shrugs, apologises to the cat for leaving, and gets up.

 

Turns out the yoga room is being used but there’s a “storage room” as Jeno calls it, where staff members go to exchange gossip, cry from stress, or hide from their overbearing boss. It’s honestly more like an in-wall cupboard and the plastic door is so thin that Jaemin can hear the words of every person that walks by.

“You like this, don’t you?” Jeno smiles at him when Jaemin sinks down to his knees, running his hands over Jeno’s perfect, hairless thighs. He’s wearing his grey gym shorts, making it easy for Jaemin to pull Jeno’s dick out and stroke him to full hardness before taking the head into his mouth and pulling off again.

“So what if I do,” Jaemin replies, blinking up at Jeno. Something in Jeno’s eyes darkens and Jaemin suppresses the urge to palm himself through his sweats. “You’re the one who suggested this place.”

“Because I know you like the thrill of maybe getting cau- oh fuck, yes.”

Jaemin likes doing this. Likes the weight of Jeno’s cock on his tongue, the tang of his precome, the sounds of people passing by, unaware of what they’re doing in here and yet so close to discovering them. Jaemin’s heart races in his chest every time he hears a new voice, new footsteps, every time Jeno’s whines get a little bit too loud. He keeps the pace slow, pulls off occasionally pretending he needs to catch his breath, all just to tease Jeno.

He doesn’t overdo it, though. Jeno’s already tense enough, so he hollows his cheeks, flattens his tongue against the underside of Jeno’s dick and takes him as deep as he can for a few times in a row.

Jeno twists his fingers into Jaemin’s hair, panting, “Nana, I’m gonna – so good –” and Jaemin sucks him down one more time before Jeno comes down his throat.

Jeno slumps against the wall and slides down until they’re both sitting on the floor. “What did I ever do to deserve you?”

Jaemin shrugs and hides his reddening hands in his pockets. “I think we’re just strangely compatible in our… preferences.”

Jeno smiles and reaches down to cup Jaemin’s dick, rock-hard and leaking even without having been touched. “God, you like this so much. You’d love to fuck me in front of everyone, if I’d let you.”

“I’d never ask that of you, though,” Jaemin replies, hips jerking forward, chasing Jeno’s touch. Jeno increases the pressure and Jaemin groans quietly. It doesn’t take much when he’s like this, when he can still hear the bustle of the gym through the thin door, and when Jeno is right here, moving his hand in just the right way while leaning forward to suck Jaemin’s earlobe between his teeth.

“Thanks for coming over,” Jeno says when Jaemin has blinked the stars out of his eyes. “Everyone else would have ignored me.”

“You should get nicer friends,” Jaemin replies, making himself presentable again. “Or maybe you should learn how to take care of yourself.”

They get up and Jeno helps to fix Jaemin’s hair before they leave the storage room. Jaemin wonders if some of the people looking after them do know what they did. If it’s obvious in the blush on Jeno’s cheeks and slope of his shoulders, now less tense. Jaemin deliberately meets their eyes.

Jeno hands Jaemin the empty lunchbox at the exit. “Thanks again, Nana. Think about what you want from me in return.”

“No worries.”

Jaemin doesn’t know who leans in first. Maybe it’s both of them at the same time, maybe it doesn’t matter. It’s just a peck after all, a quick press of lips, nothing else. It doesn’t explain why Jaemin’s heart jumps, as if kick-started, electrified.

Jeno’s smiling when he pulls back, apparently unaware, and waves before he heads back inside.

 

 

Jaemin loves parties. Loves the music that’s turned up so loud until it’s stripped of everything aside from the thumping bass. Loves the flickering strobe lights and the sea of dark silhouettes, everybody’s willingness to let go, the sounds and the smells, the sense of artificial freedom and the forgetting.

He’s a little bit tipsy right now, has danced with his friends and then strangers and then friends again, has gotten a number from a girl he’ll never call (feels good anyway), and tomorrow doesn’t matter. There’s only right now, this moment of him floating through the wild sweaty crowd, not searching, not looking, not wanting anything at all. Maybe he’ll take someone home, or maybe he’ll go back to the guy whose tongue he had in his mouth earlier, or maybe he’ll just get more drinks and let himself black out tonight.

Not too far away from him he sees Renjun and Yukhei jump around like idiots and smiles. He’s happy for his best friend; Renjun’s so serious sometimes, so caught up in his head, and someone as goofy and sweet as Yukhei is just what he needs. A part of him wishes he’d have something similar and there’s a face in his mind as an answer to that question but he pushes the thought away. No feelings tonight, or ever – just sensation. Letting go.

Forgetting.

Jaemin decides not to bother them and turns the other way. Maybe he should try to find Mark, or hit up one of the girls that are standing near the bar looking bored, or maybe –

Jeno.

There, in the crowd, visible through a gap, is Jeno. His hands are on a dark-haired girl’s waist and he’s looking at her the same way he looks at Jaemin sometimes, when he really wants something but doesn’t know how to ask for it.

It’s not really a surprise to run into him here. There aren’t that many lgbt-friendly clubs in this city and it’s Thursday, the last day of lectures before Easter break begins. Anyone in their right mind is out getting drunk right now, celebrating the end of the term.

So no, Jaemin isn’t surprised. This feeling in his guts must be something else and even though he doesn’t quite know what it is, he’s sure it doesn’t belong there. Too fluttery, too fragile, too unfamiliar.

He’s about to change direction again and go find Mark after all but then Jeno turns a little and makes eye contact with him. He says something to the girl and then makes his way over and Jaemin has no choice but to be confronted with how absolutely stunning Jeno looks today.

He’s wearing those blue pants that Jaemin always calls thot jeans in his head thanks to the rip right under Jeno’s right ass cheek. They make it look like Jeno’s not wearing any underwear at all and they’re fitted enough to emphasise his thighs but not enough to make getting out of them a struggle (Jaemin knows this from experience). They’re paired with a black sleeveless muscle shirt that reveals his toned arms and gives a tantalising view of his chest, and suddenly all Jaemin wants to do is touch him.

“Fancy seeing you here,” Jeno says. His black hair is parted and swept away from his forehead but a bit messy from dancing, and there’s something different about his eyes, somehow more intense –

“What the – are you wearing eyeliner?” Jaemin asks.

Jeno smiles bashfully. “You don’t like it?”

“I didn’t say that.”

Jeno’s smile turns into a smirk and he shifts closer. “You think it’s hot.”

“I didn’t say that, either,” Jaemin replies. His voice dips low on its own accord, giving him away.

“You didn’t have to.”

Jaemin lets Jeno step closer, lets him slide his hands around his waist and tug until their hips meet. They’re breathing in each other’s space now and Jeno smells like Smirnoff and something fruity, like watermelon, and the sweat that’s glistening on his collarbones. Like this Jaemin can see that the eyeliner is a little bit smudged but no less alluring and Jaemin wants to devour him, if there wasn’t this one problem –

“What about that girl,” Jaemin breathes. They’re so close that all Jaemin would have to do to kiss him is tip his chin forward and he lets his hand trail down until he finds that rip in Jeno’s jeans, right below the swell of his ass, and slips his fingers through it. “Who’re you here with?”

Jeno shrugs. He’s looking at Jaemin’s mouth, gaze flicking up to meet Jaemin’s eyes, and then back to his lips. “Hyuck’s around but he can entertain himself. I think he’s with Mark.”

“And that girl?”

“Doesn’t matter now.” Jeno’s fingers press into Jaemin’s waist a little more insistently and he smiles again. “Why? Are you jealous?”

Jaemin’s stomach churns. “You wish.”

“Hm, maybe I should go back to her if you’re so indifferent.”

“If that’s what you want.”

Jeno pulls back. “Are you being serious?”

“I’m just saying if you want to have fun with someone else for a change I’m not stopping you,” Jaemin explains, biting back the sour taste in his mouth. “You can hit me up any day of the week.”

Jaemin doesn’t know why he’s being like this. The thought of Jeno choosing this girl over him burns and maybe the word jealousy struck a chord in him that Jaemin’s never had to pay attention to before and maybe Jeno ditching him would ruin his evening, but Jeno’s still right here, looking at him as if trying to see through him.

“She’s a philosophy major, you know,” Jeno says then, eyes curving into half-moons. “I’m pretty sure I’d have more fun with you.”

Jaemin can’t help the smile from breaking across his face. He knows he looks good when he smiles like that, though, and he knows Jeno likes it. “Well, in that case… tequila shots are on me.”

There’s the weird fluttery feeling in Jaemin’s stomach again when Jeno leans in to kiss the corner of his mouth, one that sets off all the warning bells in his head, but Jaemin silences them.

 

The one thing that’s better than a party at the start of a break is being at a party with Jeno. His alcohol tolerance is a little bit lower than Jaemin’s, probably due to never having rushed a frat, but he knows his limits and he’s fun to talk to, fun to drink with, fun to be around.

And God, Jaemin likes being around him. A little bit too much maybe. They take shots together and Jeno barely even waits until they’ve both forced the alcohol down before he pulls Jaemin in by his nape and kisses him. His body is hot under Jaemin’s hand when he pushes one under Jeno’s shirt, almost like he’s burning up, and Jeno pulls away again. In the background the bass changes, morphs into a new song.

“Did you only buy me drinks to get me to sleep with you, Na Jaemin?” Jeno asks. His eyes are bright with the reflected rainbow lights of the club but full of hunger. Jaemin wants to sink his teeth into him. Press his mouth to all those sensitive places that he knows Jeno has.

“Oh please,” he purrs. “As if I’d need to do that.”

“You’re awfully sure of yourself.” Jeno grins wickedly. “Come dance with me first. I like this song.”

 

Dancing with Jeno is a special kind of torture because a) Jeno is the hottest person Jaemin has ever met and b) Jeno is also one of the best dancers Jaemin knows. He might not be as flexible or fluid as Jaemin but his movements are sharp, accurate, and there’s an unmatched intensity about him when he really puts his mind into it.

But it’s different today. There’s no space for grand movements when the priority is touching each other and they’re both too tipsy to care much about anything but being as close to each other as possible. Jaemin has his hands on Jeno’s hips, shamelessly grinding against him, and Jeno tips his head back to let him kiss his neck, and everything is light dark light, a multitude of colours, a chaos of short-lived, violent joy.

Jeno was right, the song is good. Jaemin can feel it in his sternum, in his stomach, in his throat. Or maybe that’s his heart. He doesn’t know anymore but he can’t stop smiling. There are Jeno’s hands on his body, pulling him closer still, his fingers in his hair, his laughter on his lips. Jaemin can feel the scrape of Jeno’s hipbones through the fabric of his jeans, heat and sound and feeling everywhere. Jaemin thinks his chest is about to burst with all these sensations and just then Jeno licks into his mouth, hot and familiar and confident, amplifying it by tenfold.

Jaemin feels boneless, like a kite in the sky, here in this crowd of moving faceless bodies, and Jeno’s hands are the only thing keeping him from floating away. It’s almost surreal, this swooning happiness like a tense bubble in his ribcage, as he runs his fingers over the sharpness of Jeno’s jaw. He doesn’t want to be anywhere else ever again, here with Jeno’s body pressed flush and hot against his and his tongue in his mouth – a little bit in love with life, a little bit in love with everything.

 

It’s almost five am by the time they stumble into Jeno’s bed, giddy and drunk and hungry for each other. Jaemin’s feet hurt from dancing so much but that’s okay; he won’t need those for the rest of the night, or what little is left of it. Jeno is already shirtless, struggling a little with his thot jeans, and Jaemin reaches out to help.

There’s no finesse tonight, both of them too impatient to tease each other much. Jaemin gets Jeno on his knees and fucks him until he comes all over the sheets and then Jeno jerks him off, and when he’s about to fall asleep with one of Jeno’s hands resting on his stomach, Jaemin thinks this might be one of the best nights out he’s ever had.

 

 

Waking up is slow. Jeno’s bed is always somehow extra warm, making it even harder to find the will to face the day but Jaemin eventually manages. Jeno is already awake when Jaemin rolls over, looking at something on his phone.

“Morning,” Jaemin croaks. The hangover isn’t too bad but he’d still like some water and Ibuprofen if that wouldn’t require him to move. “What time’s it?”

Jeno pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose and looks over at him. His hair is mussed and he looks pale but he smiles a little. “Just past one.”

“Pretty decent for me.”

“Mhm. Want breakfast?”

Obviously the answer is yes, complicated only by the fact that neither Jeno nor Hyuck really know how to take care of themselves and therefore don’t have a lot of breakfast-suitable food in their apartment.

“Seriously, how do you live?” Jaemin says a little later when they’ve finally forced themselves out of bed, staring at the meagre contents of Jeno’s kitchen cupboards. The only thing they seem to have in masses are Haribo gummies. When Jaemin gives Jeno a judgemental look, he only raises his hands in defence.

“I told you you could have cereal instead,” Jeno says now from where he’s sitting on the counter top and kicks Jaemin’s thigh. “It’s not going to kill you.”

Jaemin levels him with a look. “If that won’t, your disgusting instant coffee will. I want something warm.”

“I have instant noodles?”

Jeno! Get over here, I’ll teach you how to make egg-fried rice.”

Jaemin tells Jeno to watch what he’s doing, which is a terrible mistake because Jeno takes that as an invitation to stand right behind Jaemin and breathe down his neck. It only gets worse when Jeno kisses the shell of his ear and then his nape, nipping at the skin right behind his jaw, and Jaemin almost burns the rice when Jeno decides to slide one of his hands down the front of Jaemin’s pants.

The food is done before Jaemin can lose control, though, so he pushes Jeno away, as hard as it is. “Go wash your hands, you filthy animal.”

“You like that I’m filthy,” Jeno replies with a pout but he does as he’s told.

Once at the table, Jeno shovels his portion into his mouth as if he’d been starved for days and Jaemin tries to ignore the gentle fondness rising in his chest. No matter what he makes, Jeno always eats his food so well. Nothing at all like Renjun, who always complains about too much salt.

“Are you going home over term break?” Jeno asks.

Jaemin hums in confirmation. “We’re visiting my grandma for a few days in the countryside and my mum wants me home to fatten me up. Are you?”

“What a shame,” Jeno says. “Who’s going to cook for me? I’m only going home for two days, then I’m back here.”

“You’ll miss my cooking but not my dick? Wow.” Jaemin snorts. “You could always learn it, you know.”

“I would have repaid you with sexual favours.” Jeno makes a face and Jaemin laughs.

“Now I’m almost sad I’m leaving.”

“Just almost?“ Jeno grins back at him, eyes crinkling. “I’ll miss your dick, too, don’t worry. Wanna finish what I started earlier?”

In a different universe, Jaemin thinks, it would be so, so easy to fall in love with Jeno.

It’s almost a shame that he has to hope it isn’t this one.

 

 

Coming home for breaks is always a little strange. Suddenly everything that makes him Na Jaemin, second year journalism student, is stripped away from him and he’s just Jaemin again, son and grandson, the kid that used to ride his bike around the suburbs all day and collect bugs to scare the neighbouring girls with. All his relatives and neighbours seem to think they still know him except they haven’t been there for the phases of his life that have changed him the most and it’s strange to fall back into this filial role when he’s so used to his student existence now.

The change isn’t necessarily unwelcome and it’s always nice to see his mum, but Jaemin gets bored after just two days at home. Renjun is visiting his family in China and everyone else is either too far away or busy, leaving Jaemin with no one to hang out and get drunk with.

It gives him a lot of space to think. Space to miss his friends.

Space to miss Jeno.

That’s probably the worst. Jaemin wasn’t aware of how much time they spend together until he’s suddenly deprived of it and he finds it’s not only the physical aspects of being with Jeno that Jaemin craves now.

That’s probably a red flag, Jaemin thinks. He’s never missed his other fuck buddies like this, but then again, he’s never had a friendship like this with any of them, either. Not even Renjun indulges Jaemin’s monthly hyperfixations the way Jeno does – he binges every single TV show Jaemin suggests without complaint when they hang out, even when it’s romance or shitty reality TV. He doesn’t snap at him when Jaemin talks during movies, lets him ramble when he has too much pent-up energy.

Jaemin wonders what Jeno gets out of it. If he does similar things, too, without noticing. Maybe it’s because Jaemin lets Jeno stop at every stray cat they see for at least five minutes and doesn’t interrupt him when Jeno tells him about whatever webtoon he’s obsessed with at that time.

Jaemin considers sending Jeno a nude but he’s been slacking off exercising for the past two weeks and Jeno isn’t much of a texter anyways. Maybe not talking to Jeno for a while will wean him off of this strange feeling. He shouldn’t get too attached after all.

As if, says a small treacherous voice in his head, as if it isn’t too late already.

 

 

It’s the second day after Easter break when there’s a hurried knock on the door. The apartment is pretty messy since Renjun isn’t back yet to kick his ass, so Jaemin opens the door rather cautiously.

It’s Jeno, fidgeting around in the hallway. Jaemin’s heart immediately jumps into his throat, like a confession, like a curse, and Jaemin tries to swallow it back down.

“Hi,” Jeno says. “Is Renjun home?”

Jaemin blinks. “Uh, no? He’s still at h-”

“Good.” Jeno grabs Jaemin’s collar and pushes him back into the apartment, smashing their mouths together in a messy kiss. “I’m sorry but I haven’t had sex in like one and a half weeks and I have a practical tomorrow that’s stressing me out, so can you please fuck me and – is this okay? I’m sorry, I didn’t even ask –”

“It’s okay,” Jaemin breaths out, winded as if Jeno just punched the breath out of his lungs. Damn. He’s missed him. Has missed this. “I – come in.”

 

There’s something about Jeno today, about the way he asks Jaemin to fuck him against the wall and doesn’t even wait until all their clothes are off. Jaemin trusts him enough to let him do whatever he wants and it’s over almost too fast, when Jeno comes with a drawn-out, satisfied groan. It’s like he missed Jaemin, too, and the thought feels a little too good.

Jeno doesn’t leave immediately the way Jaemin would have expected him to. They’re on Jaemin’s bed now, bodies soft from the post-orgasm haze, and Jeno’s curling his hands around Jaemin’s wrist, his fingers in his mouth.

“You just love sucking on things, don’t you?” Jaemin asks, voice a little too low and a little too husky as he watches Jeno lick around his digits.

Jeno pulls away and smiles. “Almost as much as you like being sucked on.”

“Don’t make it sound weird.”

“You’ve said much weirder things.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. Once you said I’m a good cowboy.”

Jaemin groans. “Oh my God. I was in the moment, okay, I was out of my mind.”

“Doesn’t erase the trauma.”

“If you’re so traumatised why are you still here?”

“I’m hoping to make lots of good memories to cover up that terrible instant –“

“I think you need to shut up.”

Jeno’s eyes glint. “Make me.”

 

Jeno falls asleep first. One moment they’re discussing the ending of an anime they’ve both watched between lazy kisses and the next Jeno goes silent, head pillowed on Jaemin’s chest with his even breath puffing on his skin. Falling asleep at each other’s places is nothing out of the ordinary but they don’t – they don’t do soft shit like this. They don’t cuddle afterwards or anything if it doesn’t serve a purpose, even though sometimes Jaemin craves that closeness. Has craved it a lot in the past one and a half weeks where he didn’t see Jeno, couldn’t touch him.

It’s another red flag, he knows. He should’ve missed Jeno’s cute butt and not the way Jeno smiles at him sometimes, when Jaemin remembered to stock up on sweets for him or something. He shouldn’t have missed Jeno at all, really.

But he did, so right now, when Jeno isn’t conscious enough to raise his eyebrows at him and Jaemin isn’t awake enough to stop himself, he lets his arms rest around Jeno to hold him this close. Lets himself have this just once, just for now, until they wake up.

 

Jaemin wakes up with his chest pressed against Jeno’s back. It takes him a few seconds until that reality registers in his brain and when it finally does, he jolts and disentangles himself so fast he almost falls out of the bed.

“Finally awake, huh?” Jeno asks and rolls on his back. “Should’ve known you’d be the big spoon, you clingy motherfucker.”

“You say that like you aren’t the textbook definition of a baby boy,” Jaemin gives back, just a beat too late.

Jeno grins, about to say something else when there’s a sharp knock on the door that can only mean one thing.

“You bitches done yet?” Renjun’s voice sounds through the door. “I come home and this place already reeks of sex. I hate you. Are you dressed so I can come in?”

The true answer would be ‘not really’, but Jaemin grabs his blanket and throws it over them. “Come in.”

The door swings open, revealing a scowling Renjun.

“Your roommate’s looking for you, Jeno,” he snaps. “Says you ditched cleaning duty to hoe around instead and won’t answer your phone.”

“Oh shit,” Jeno exclaims, eyes wide. “I gotta go.” He jumps up, ignoring Renjun’s annoyed groan upon seeing his half-naked body, and gets dressed. “Sorry, Nana. I’ll see you soon?”

“Yeah,” Jaemin says. His sleep-lazy brain can’t catch up with the speed at which things are happening. “Yeah, go clean, I’ll text you.”

Jeno breezes past Renjun and Renjun stares at Jaemin as if trying to x-ray him with his eyes. “You owe me dinner.”

“If it’s nothing else.”

Renjun wrinkles his nose. “And you should open the window.”

With that he leaves and Jaemin lets his head fall back into his pillows. He can still kind of feel the warmth of Jeno where he was pressed against him, as if imprinted, and his heart won’t stop calling after Jeno, won’t stop shouting about what Jeno had felt like curled against his chest – soft and warm and like he’d belonged there.

 

 

“You seem happy,” Jaemin says. They’re in the kitchen, Renjun and him, finally doing the dishes that had accumulated during the first week of lectures after Easter break. Renjun is nice enough to do the washing, which is suspicious, and he’s quietly singing a song Jaemin doesn’t know. “Yukhei treating you well?”

Renjun snorts but there’s a softness around his eyes that betrays him. “He spoils me.”

“That’s good.”

They’re silent for a while. Jaemin thinks about seeing Renjun and Yukhei together, about how they fit against each other’s side so well despite the height difference and then, inexplicably, he thinks of Jeno and how his hands rested on Jaemin’s ribcage, warm through the fabric of his shirt, just a few days ago.

“You could have that, too, you know,” Renjun says, almost absently, his arms covered in suds up to his elbows. “With Jeno.”

Jaemin almost loses his grip on the mug he’s drying. “You forget we’re not in love with each other.”

“You’re not?” Renjun side-eyes him. “Could have fooled me.”

“We’re not,” Jaemin says. He can’t tell if it’s still the truth or if it changed into a lie. He isn’t sure if he wants to know.

“Maybe not yet,” Renjun adds carefully.

“Injun.”

“Nana.”

“He doesn’t want that kind of stuff. You know we’re just –”

“But you do?”

Caught, like a stupid fish in a net. It takes Jaemin too long to say, “No.”

Renjun grins, looking him square in the face. “Liar.”

“I’m not lying,” Jaemin deflects. “It’s just very difficult to hang out with Jeno for an extended amount of time without growing fond of him in some way.”

“Aww, it’s so refreshing to see you crush on s-“

Jaemin bristles. “I’m not crushing on him. I just like him. You know, as a friend. Who I also fuck.”

Renjun looks at him for a moment longer, the smile replaced by disappointment and something like pity. “Just face it, Jaemin. You can’t –”

“There’s nothing to face,” Jaemin snaps.

Renjun rolls his eyes. “You keep telling yourself that, dude. It’s going to come back to bite you in the ass one day.”

It might, Jaemin thinks, but he doesn’t say anything.

 

 

“Do you wanna try something else today? I’ve finally thought of something, you know, for the gym visit,” Jaemin says, trying to keep the hope out of his voice. He’s been wanting to do this for a while now and Jeno said Hyuck won’t come home until tomorrow. They have time.

Jeno side-eyes him. God, he’s so fucking cute, playing with the hem of his sweater where he’s sitting cross-legged on his bed. He’s always fumbling with things, putting things in his mouth, driving Jaemin nuts. “Depends on what it is.”

“Well.” Jaemin folds his hands. “Has anyone ever edged you?”

This startles a laugh out of Jeno. “You kinky fucker.”

“So?”

“The answer is kind of?” Jeno says. “Like, people have tried but got scared halfway through or I made them stop because it didn’t work.”

“Oh my God.” Jaemin snorts. “That sucks. Do you want someone to do it right?”

Jeno regards him for a moment, obviously thinking it over. “Sure. Let’s. Let’s do that.”

Jaemin smiles and leans forward to brush his thumb over the faint pink blush that sits high on Jeno’s cheekbones. “Great. Use the traffic light system if it gets too much, yeah? And if you say stop I’ll stop.”

“Okay.”

“Do you have any additional rules? Anything that doesn’t go?”

Jeno thinks for a minute and then shakes his head. “You already know me pretty well. I trust you.”

Jaemin’s heart constricts almost painfully. Jeno throws these words around as if they mean nothing; they probably don’t, not to him. “I promise I’ll make it good for you.”

 

Jaemin knew Jeno would be like this. So reactive. He’s obviously noticed before how sensitive he is at times, when Jaemin does nothing but trail his fingertips over his sides. Jeno is ticklish, too, squirming easily, but when Jaemin exchanges his fingers with his mouth and gives Jeno nowhere to escape to, things change.

Jaemin isn’t sure how long exactly it’s been but by now Jeno’s chest is glistening with sweat, rising and falling quickly with his rapid breaths. His hands are twisted into the sheets and he must be so desperate to touch himself by the looks of it, has been so close to the edge for a while since Jaemin has three fingers in him that are brushing over that one spot every now and then, but he’s still being good. So good, the best.

Jeno’s hips jerk every time Jaemin crooks his fingers. Jaemin would laugh about it if he wasn’t so incredibly worked up and no one’s even touched him yet. He could probably come from this alone, taking Jeno apart bit by bit until his words are nothing but garbled noises and pleas, and he’s glad he has Jeno to focus on because otherwise he wouldn’t have the self-control to keep from touching himself.

Jaemin presses his fingers in a little harder, a little faster, loosely wraps his other hand around Jeno’s leaking cock, and watches how the tension builds in Jeno’s entire body again until he’s arching off the mattress. His thighs are trembling and Jaemin takes a moment to appreciate Jeno’s taut muscles and what they feel like under his mouth when he kisses Jeno there.

“Jaem, I’m gonna –”

Jaemin withdraws his hands.

Jeno groans loudly and one of his hands tries to grab his dick but Jaemin catches his wrists and pins them to the bed. Jeno tries to glare at him but his eyes are so glassy they seem almost feverish and Jaemin thinks this is his absolute favourite look on him.

“You can’t touch yourself,” he says sweetly. “If you do I’ll tie your hands to the bed posts.”

Jeno blinks tears and sweat out of his eyes, face flushed and sweaty and so, so pretty. “How – how many more kinks do you have that I don’t know about?”

Jaemin grins. “Guess you’ll have to find out. Colour?”

“Green,” Jeno says. “But please touch me.”

“I’ll think about it.”

Jeno groans again and Jaemin gives in, leaning down to nose against the inside of Jeno’s thigh and nips at the sensitive skin, and Jeno makes a sound so low and guttural that Jaemin feels heat shoot through his entire body. Holy shit. He’s never been this hard in his entire life and a part of him wants to flip Jeno around and just fuck into him, but he doesn’t. He’ll be patient. It’s worth it in the end, he knows.

“Where do you want my mouth?” Jaemin asks quietly, pressing a kiss to Jeno’s left hipbone. “There? Or maybe…” He crawls up a little, letting his breath ghost over Jeno’s stomach before he reaches Jeno’s nipple and languidly licks over it. Jeno makes another beautiful noise and Jaemin feels like he’s losing his mind when one of Jeno’s hands comes up to grip his hair, fingernails scratching over his scalp.

“Nana, please.”

“What do you want?” Jaemin leans up and kisses Jeno, open mouthed and dirty, and Jeno licks into his mouth immediately. He’s messy and careless, a little bit too out of it to care that there’s too much spit, but Jaemin pulls away again. “Tell me. You’ve been so perfect, baby, tell me what you want me to do.”

Jeno exhales deeply. “Suck me off?”

Jaemin smiles and scoots back down, trailing a his index finger over Jeno’s dick and watches his hips twitch. “Jesus, Jeno, you’re dripping.”

“Jaemin, do something!”

“Don’t come,” Jaemin tells him and Jeno sighs exasperatedly. “Not until I say you can.”

Then he takes the head in his mouth and slowly, so slowly, sinks down.

Jeno twists his hands into the sheets so hard that it wrenches them off of the frame but that’s understandable. Jaemin knows he’s pushing him now, can feel how hard Jeno’s trying not to fuck his mouth, and he can’t help himself. He takes Jeno as deep as he can, listens to the garbled cry Jeno lets out and pulls off.

God, Jaemin loves seeing him like this. Jeno is so beautiful. Jaemin can’t think of another word to describe him right now, twisting and at the breaking point and panting Jaemin’s name, like the good boy he is. Jaemin tells him as much and his mind nearly shuts down at the noise Jeno makes as an answer.

Jaemin wasn’t lying when he said he wanted to do this with someone. Wanted to please someone like this, wanted the control. Jeno is perfect for this, seems to revel in the attention Jaemin gives him and despite being so worked up he doesn’t break Jaemin’s rules and doesn’t ask him to stop. It’s hard to find people that trust Jaemin that much and if Jaemin thinks about it, everything has always been so easy with Jeno. Everything.

Maybe it’s that realisation. Maybe it’s the way Jeno breathes out Jaemin’s name again and again, like a prayer or as if to ground himself. Jaemin feels a strange emotion rise in his chest, the one he’s been so scared of, the one he’s tried and failed to bury underneath everything else because it’s not supposed to be there at all.

But it’s hard to run away from it now, when everything he wants is right in front of him on this bed as if Jeno already belonged to him.

“Colour?” Jaemin asks.

“Green.” Jeno’s voice is slurred and more breath than sound. “But Jaem, baby, please, need you inside me…”

Jaemin looks at Jeno all splayed out for him, hands already reaching for Jaemin’s hips. It takes no effort at all to slide into him when he’s this wet and ready, and it takes all of Jaemin’s self-control not to push him down and have his way with him.

“You are so good for me, baby,” he whispers, pulling back a little so he grind back into Jeno slowly. “You’re doing so well.”

None of them will last long, Jaemin knows. Jeno feels too perfect around him and Jaemin thinks he’s starting to see stars and the noises Jeno makes should be illegal and he’s so good, so sweet, so perfect -

“Jaemin,” Jeno moans and Jaemin can tell he’s trying so hard to hold back. “Please, please, I need to –”

“It’s okay,” Jaemin pants, pushing into Jeno harder, a little bit faster, and reaches down to curl his fingers around Jeno’s cock. God, he’s so hard and Jaemin’s sure he won’t last much longer no matter what he says, and he can’t wait to watch him fall apart under him. “It’s okay, come for me, Jeno, you were so good for me, so good –”

Jeno’s entire body locks up when he comes, face breaking into pleasure, and Jaemin thinks, damn, I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than you. He can barely breathe with how hard Jeno is clenching around him and his hips stutter out of time, can’t breathe around the pressure in his chest that has nothing to do with sex. He thinks, fuck.

Fuck, Jeno, I think I might love you.

It punches the rest of his breath out of his chest and Jeno twists under him, over-sensitive and fucked out and so, so beautiful –

“Nana,” Jeno breathes out, “please…”

Jaemin groans, buries his face in Jeno’s neck to hide the inexplicable and sudden threat of tears, too overwhelmed by all these sensations, and comes so hard his vision gives out.

 

“Intense,” Jeno rasps when they’ve both caught their breath. He has his eyes closed already, lets Jaemin clean him with a wet towel, already more asleep than awake. “That was intense.”

“But are you okay?” Jaemin asks. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

Jeno minimally shakes his head. “Felt good. Just exhausted.”

“It’s okay,” Jaemin says. He wants to lean in and kiss Jeno’s forehead but he doesn’t. “You can sleep.”

Jeno does, as if on command. Just knocks out.

Jaemin lets himself look at him for a moment. Jeno’s body is still flushed and hot to the touch, a complete mess littered with marks, but his face is serene and content where it’s squished into the pillow. Jaemin reaches over and pushes his hair away from his forehead, takes in the straight line of his nose and the curve of his lips and all the other things that make Jeno so insanely beautiful.

It’s too late now. Besides the sleepy satisfaction in Jaemin’s bones there’s something else, too. His heart feels swollen and bruised, like it tried too hard. Or maybe it tried too little, given its tenderness now.

So this is what it’s like – falling for a friend with benefits. Falling for someone, period. Of course it would be Jeno, who’s been kind of too perfect right from the get go, who sends Jaemin ASMR videos at three am, who laughs about Jaemin’s comments when no one else does, who’s so obsessed with cats that he crosses the street without checking for cars when he sees one on the other side. Jeno, who somehow, despite everything, has become one of Jaemin’s best friends.

It hurts.

Jaemin marvels at the feeling for a moment. He didn’t think it’d feel like this – like a trap door had opened, one he’ll never be able to go through no matter how much he wants to because it contains everything he can’t have. Jeno’s hand in his, Jeno eating his food every day, Jeno telling him he loves him, Jeno, Jeno, Jeno.

Jaemin sinks into the pillows next to Jeno and closes his eyes. The regret is bad but what’s worse is the warnings he ignored, the red flags and signs, and, worst of all, the stupid, ugly sliver of hope that still whispers in the dark, maybe just maybe he’ll like you back one day.

 

 

Yukhei is chilling in the living room when Jaemin comes home from uni a few days later, looking both too tall for the couch and strangely like he belongs there anyway. He grins at Jaemin when he spots him and leans forward to bump his knuckles against Jaemin’s as a greeting.

“Can’t say I’m surprised to see you here,” Jaemin says. He’s exhausted; he’d had a presentation today and because nowadays Jeno is all that’s on Jaemin’s mind, preparing for it had been difficult. And of course Jeno sent him pictures of himself in a suit, asking if he looked formal enough for a job interview, and Jaemin still wants to scream. “Where’s Injun?”

“In the shower. Where have you been? You look kind of, uh. Run over.”

Jaemin snorts and sits down on the couch’s armrest. “Gee, thanks.”

He should have known Yukhei wouldn’t leave him alone. He’s too good for this world, too pure, has a heart made of gold kind of like Mark, and he’s looking at Jaemin like he already knows how he’s feeling. Yukhei is the type to care about everyone and Jaemin doesn’t want to be cared about right now.

“How’s things with Renjun?” he asks.

Yukhei beams immediately. He truly is adorable, Jaemin will give him that. The kind of person that’s easy to love.

Kind of like Jeno.

“Things couldn’t be better. The other day we went on a date to the planetarium in town and he was so excited,” Yukhei says, sitting up a little with sparkly eyes. “He’s so cute when he gets to freak out about space.”

“Sounds like the Renjun I know. I’m glad you’re both happy,” Jaemin says honestly.

“I thought he’d bolt, you know,” Yukhei says. “When I confessed. He looked like he was about to jump ship.”

“He wanted to,” Jaemin admits. “It’s not… easy for him to get involved with someone, so he thought about rejecting you. But he didn’t, so you know he really loves you.”

Yukhei smiles again. God, what a lovesick puppy. Jaemin hopes he’ll never look this whipped and suddenly he’s worried – how has he been looking at Jeno when other people were around?

“Have you ever been in love?” Yukhei asks.

Jaemin’s mind immediately conjures up a moment of Jeno sitting on this very couch, laughing so hard that no sound came out. Jaemin doesn’t remember what he’d said to get that reaction. Selective memory. “No.”

“Hm. Sometimes when you’re with Jeno you kind of l-”

Oh no.

“Jeno and I are just friends,” Jaemin interrupts and hides his hands in his sleeves. He isn’t sure who he’s trying to convince but it doesn’t seem to work on anyone anyway, given Yukhei’s raised eyebrows and the traitorous splinter in his heart.

“Jaemin, you know it’s okay right?” Yukhei asks. “Like, if you wanna talk about it –”

Just then Renjun comes out of the bathroom, saving Yukhei from being snapped at and submitting Jaemin to Renjun’s own sharp eyes instead. Maybe Jaemin should’ve stayed at uni for longer after all. His skin is crawling and he wants to peel it off, layer by layer, until there’s no place on his body that Jeno has ever touched.

“Hi,” Renjun greets him. “You look like shit.”

“Wow. I’m going,” Jaemin replies and gets up. He’s itching for a cigarette, though he just had two on the way home. He’d rather ask Jeno if he wants to do something but hanging out with him is dangerous now, when these stupid feelings derail more with every damn minute they spend together.

“Hey, I was kidding –”

“You weren’t.”

Renjun crosses his arm. “Okay, but then let’s talk. What’s got your panties in a twist?”

Yukhei pulls Renjun closer by the waist as if to placate him and the gesture is so simple and yet so intimate and Jaemin doesn’t understand why it hurts until he realises he wants that, too. “He’s in denial.”

“I’m not,” Jaemin says sharply. It’s a lie now but he can’t be, he shouldn’t be.

“Oh?” Renjun’s eyes are wide with mock surprise. “So you’re finally aware you’re in love with J-”

“I’m not, shut up. I’m leaving.”

“You can’t always run away from everything, Jaemin,” Renjun calls after him before he can slam the door closed.

 

 

It takes almost an entire pack of cigarettes before Jaemin is calm enough to think about where he’s even going. He’s been roaming the neighbourhood with no real destination or drive until he winds up at Mark’s place.

He hates to admit how deeply Yukhei and Renjun got under his skin. Besides drugs there’s only one other thing that gets him out of his mind, so he knocks until Mark opens up, flashes him his most nonchalant smile and says, “Wanna fuck?”

Mark nearly dislocates his jaw with how fast he lets it drop. “Um, wha- Jaemin, I –”

“I’m bored,” Jaemin explains, schooling his expression into a pout. Mark wouldn’t admit it even at gunpoint but Jaemin knows he loves cute things (probably the reason why he can’t actually hate Hyuck) and he’s always been a little weak for Jaemin. It’s been a while since Jaemin wanted something from him but these things don’t change. “And I know Yukhei isn’t home.”

“What – what about Jeno?” Mark asks.

The words run down Jaemin’s spine like hot water. He wonders, idly, if he really was the last person to notice his own feelings. “What about him?”

“Aren’t you two –” Mark vaguely gestures around. “I mean, isn’t there something going on?”

“We’re fuck buddies,” Jaemin clarifies. “That’s it.”

Mark still looks confused but he steps aside to let Jaemin in. Jaemin takes that as a yes and leans in to kiss Mark, but Mark gently presses against his chest and points at the couch. “Go sit down.”

“I don’t think we should fuck on your couch, I mean, why don’t we go to your room –”

“I won’t sleep with you, Nana,” Mark sighs and desperation seeps into Jaemin’s chest like thick poison. How’s he going to forget now? How’s he going to forget that Jeno is the only one he wants – “But I think we should talk.”

 

Jaemin waits on the couch, feeling small and vulnerable and pathetic, while Mark rummages around in the kitchen and then returns with hot chocolate. God, he’s so sweet. He really does deserve better than Jaemin using him.

“So,” Mark says. “What happened?”

“Nothing,” Jaemin replies reflexively but Mark just gives him a pointed look. “I don’t know, I just. I just can’t handle things right now. Sorry.”

“It’s okay, dude. But was I right? You have something going on with Jeno?”

Jaemin shrugs. “No, but I – it’s different now. Complicated. Because we’re pretty close now but the way we do things, it’s not forever and it kind of sucks.”

He can’t say it. Not yet. Maybe, if he tries hard enough, he can still nip the feelings in the bud. He’ll have to try.

“Hyuck is here a lot, you know,” Mark says. “And sometimes he complains about Jeno and how he talks so much about you that Hyuck thinks you’re his best friend now. Or something. When you two are together you look like… it just – it just looks right.”

“Don’t say that,” Jaemin says quietly. “Don’t make it worse.”

Mark sighs and squeezes Jaemin’s shoulder. “If this is what I think it is then – I wanna tell you, you gotta make a decision at some point. You have to choose whether you wanna tell him or whether you wanna end it. Because if you don’t you’ll end up fucking yourself up.”

Jaemin rubs his hands over his face. “Why couldn’t he be an asshole like the rest of us?”

Mark laughs and the sound, familiar and giggly and ridiculous, sets something loose inside Jaemin, something like relief. Maybe things will be okay eventually. Maybe he’s taking all this too hard.

So he does what he always does and changes the topic. “Hyuck hangs out here a lot, huh?”

Mark flushes immediately and Jaemin grins.                               

 

 

Maybe Mark has a point, Jaemin thinks a few days later. He and Jeno meet up at this café in town because Jaemin has two completed stamp cards and Jeno has never been there before which Jaemin thinks is a crime. He barely even thought about what it might sound like when he asked Jeno to come with him.

Jaemin likes it here. The coffee is good, strong enough to satisfy him, the seats are comfy and they bake fresh cake every day. Jeno is still finishing up the slice of red velvet cake he ordered opposite of him and Jaemin watches how the sun frames his shoulders and catches on the thin fly-away hair on the crown of his head.

Objectively, Jeno is really damn handsome in the commercially masculine way that Jaemin used to wish for when he was young, but it’s all that’s inside that really screws with him now. Jeno’s kind, kinder than most fuckboys Jaemin’s encountered, always polite to everyone he meets, and he’s smart, a lot smarter than he gives himself credit for.

It’s difficult not to give in to these feelings right now, when Jeno’s just sitting there not doing a thing and Jaemin can still feel the way his heart is bouncing around in his chest like a trapped hummingbird. He doesn’t want to stop looking at Jeno, wants to reach across the table and hold his hand, wants to slide into the space next to him and press so close that Jaemin can breathe in the smell of his body spray and the scent underneath that, the one that’s only Jeno.

It’s difficult to just sit there and let these thoughts wash over him without reacting at all. He wishes he’d find the strength to get up and ditch Jeno but Jaemin thinks the times in which Jeno was easy to leave behind are long gone. It’s always going to hurt now, leaving him, which probably means he should do it soon.

Friends with benefits aren’t forever, everybody knows that. Jeno will have no trouble finding someone else to fuck, maybe even someone who does it better than Jaemin, and the idea alone feels like a hot blade wrenched between his ribs.

But Jaemin – Jaemin will move on, too. Right? It might take him longer this time, but he will, or that’s what he tells himself anyway.

“You should wear that shirt more often,” Jeno says, startling Jaemin back into reality. He glances at Jaemin before looking back down at his plate.

Jaemin grins. He knows he looks good today – he isn’t wearing anything special, just a thin white shirt with one or two buttons too many popped open, but it emphasises his collarbones and the broadness of his shoulders. He picked it hoping Jeno would appreciate it. “You don’t look too bad yourself.”

What an understatement.

Jeno ignores that and gestures to his food. “You want to try? Sorry I didn’t ask earlier.”

“Sure.”

Jaemin hates how his heart races when Jeno holds the tiny fork out to him, feeding him a piece of cake. It’s good, sweet and smooth and lovely, but it’s got nothing on the way Jeno smiles at Jaemin.

“So?” Jeno asks and dusts crumbs off his hands. “What’s the verdict, master chef?”

“Decent,” Jaemin replies. “We may order it again.”

Jeno grins. He always looks so small when he’s sitting, thanks to his two metre legs and his bad posture. “Just say you want a date.”

Jaemin swallows around the truth and laughs. “You wish.”

 

 

Jaemin does what he always does: shoves his feelings in a box, tapes the lid shut, kicks it under the bed. Hides the emotions or just hides from himself, he can no longer tell. But it works; for most of the days it works, as long as he doesn’t see Jeno. It’s harder when he’s with him, when Jaemin’s heart flutters at the simplest of touches, when it rattles with a different kind of want that has never been satisfied, that has never been there.

It is now. In the middle of the night it’s unbearable, when the box is open and unsealable. Then, for an hour or two, Jaemin tries not to think about the way Jeno’s slender fingers fill the spaces between his. Fights the thought of how his eyes crinkle when Jaemin says or does something stupidly childish.

And then, for an hour or two, when Jaemin’s tired of trying, he lets himself sink into it. Lets himself imagine a universe in which he isn’t quite Jaemin and Jeno isn’t quite Jeno and Jaemin asks Jeno out like any normal person and Jeno says yes. Maybe in that universe they met each other differently. Maybe they shared a course, because in that universe Jaemin doesn’t study journalism and Jeno doesn’t study aeronautical engineering and none of them sleep around.

In that universe, Jeno holds Jaemin’s hand. Jaemin wakes up with Jeno’s spine curled against his front and they go on dates and feed each other ice cream like the couples in their university’s cafeteria always do.

In that universe, Jaemin is happy.

Then he snaps out of it. Gets up to smoke and then falls back into bed, the box closed and chained, his heart sore but no longer vulnerable. Not as it should be but still, good enough for now.

 

 

“Hey,” Jaemin mutters, teeth nipping at the shell of Jeno’s ear. “D’you wanna switch tonight?”

They watched Supernatural earlier, pressed so close together on Jaemin’s couch that it almost felt like cuddling, and Jeno listed all the reasons why the show should’ve stopped after the fifth season, but all Jaemin was listening to was the timbre of his voice and his heart’s fluttering as an answer to it. So Jaemin did what he always does and pressed open-mouthed kisses to Jeno’s jaw and throat until Jeno’s voice got slower, lower, and then so unfocused that Jaemin knew he won.

So now they’re here, naked in Jaemin’s bed, the way they so often end up.

Jaemin is glad Jeno can’t see his face right now. Usually he doesn’t like bottoming, doesn’t like the feeling of it or the sense of absolute vulnerability it gives him, but he feels like he needs it tonight. He’s going to be selfish tonight. So selfish.

And he trusts Jeno. He wouldn’t ask anyone else.

Jeno’s exhale stutters a little. “Sure.”

They’ve only done this once before. Jaemin had been cross-faded as hell, had pushed Jeno down on the mattress, hands on his chest, before riding him until he passed out.

But that was months ago, back when they first started. Things were different then. Right now they’re both sober and Jaemin already feels too exposed, sitting against the headboard with his legs spread while Jeno warms up the lube with his fingers. There’s something hungry in his eyes that makes Jaemin’s stomach burn and for a second he almost chickens out.

Jeno seems to sense his insecurity. He leans over him, gaze now soft and questioning. “Are you sure?”

Instead of answering, Jaemin pulls him into a kiss, slipping his tongue into Jeno’s mouth. His heart feels like it’s trying to break through his ribcage but he wants this. He wants it to be Jeno. He’s not sure what that says about him.

Jeno peppers his chest with soft kisses when he presses the first knuckle in. It doesn’t really hurt, just feels weird, until the third finger. Jaemin sucks in a sharp breath, tears shooting into his eyes, and arches his back to adjust to the burning stretch.

“It’s okay,” Jeno murmurs, his breath ghosting over one of Jaemin’s nipples. His other hand is on Jaemin’s dick, loosely stroking him to distract from the pain. “It’s going to stop hurting in a moment. You’re doing so well, Nana.”

Jaemin opens his eyes. He doesn’t remember closing them. Jeno’s looking up at him, closely gauging his reaction when he moves his fingers a tiny little bit.

He doesn’t know why he feels so shy. Jeno’s not the first guy who’s fucked him and Jaemin was pretty sure he couldn’t get more shameless but he’s proven wrong now, when he turns his face into the pillow so Jeno won’t see the blush. A part of him wants to stop and go back to doing what he’s sure of, what he’s confident in, but there’s this unnamed emotion swimming through his chest that wants him to give himself away for once. Wants to feel Jeno like this, just for tonight.

Jeno moves his fingers eventually, a sharp pain shooting up Jaemin’s lower back which is immediately washed out by pleasure. Jaemin’s mouth falls open but the sound catches in his throat when Jeno repeats the motion.

“Better?” Jeno asks and Jaemin knows he has a smug grin on his face without having to look. “How’s this?”

Jeno shoves his fingers in deeper and heat flashes through his body like electricity. Jaemin feel it tingle all the way to his fingertips and the noise he makes should be embarrassing but he doesn’t really care, not when Jeno repeats this for a few minutes until Jaemin feels like he’s melting away under Jeno’s hands, pressure and heat building in his lower belly until it’s almost unbearable.

“Jen, please.”

“Please what?”

“Please fuck me.”

Jeno presses his mouth to Jaemin’s thigh and pulls his fingers out, wiping them on the sheets. Jaemin has half the mind to snap at him for it but he’s too far gone, doesn’t really care, just wants Jeno to fill the emptiness in him. Has his worries fucked out of him just for a moment, to shut up his brain.

“Jeno, come on…”

“Impatient, huh?” Jeno crawls over him, bending one of Jaemin’s legs back. God, he feels so small like this. He almost wants to fight it, flip them over and push Jeno down, but he takes a breath and tries to relax.

And it’s Jeno. Sweet, beautiful Jeno, who has sweat glistening on his toned chest and a warmth in his eyes that makes Jaemin want to give him everything.

“Tell me if it hurts too much,” Jeno says, his lips on Jaemin’s jaw. Jaemin feels him press against his entrance, mild panic overcoming him at the size, but then Jeno kisses him, slow and deep and distracting.

It hurts. Of course it hurts. Jaemin screws his eyes shut and tries to concentrate on Jeno’s hands, the way his groan rumbles in his chest, his breath hot on Jaemin’s collarbones.

“Look at me, Nana,” Jeno says quietly after he’s bottomed out. His voice is strained, like he’s holding back and Jaemin wonders if Jeno likes this feeling as much as he does. If it’s been long since Jeno fucked anyone like this and suddenly he’s thinking about all the other people Jeno might be sleeping with.

Jaemin opens his eyes. Jeno’s looking down at him and Jaemin lifts his hand to wipe sweat away from his eyes. “You can move.”

Jeno licks his lips and kisses Jaemin again before pulling back a little and pushing back in. The expression on Jeno’s face is already worth it, Jaemin thinks, and a part of him is starting to like the ache. The pressure and the drag are delicious and he lets his eyes flutter shut again, hiking his legs up higher on Jeno’s waist.

It feels better with every thrust. Jeno seems to be holding back still, so Jaemin pulls him closer with his legs and bites at his neck, dragging a noise out of him when he starts to fuck him harder.

Jaemin lets himself get lost in the sensations. This is what he wanted, he tells himself – the escapism, a few minutes free from reality.

But he can’t escape his feelings when what he likes too much is so close, so close and so untouchable. He’ll never be able to call Jeno his, will never get to do all the stupid cute things his brain yearns for at four in the morning, will never get to see what Jeno looks like when he says, I love you, too. Everything feels sluggish, like his brain didn’t get enough oxygen, his heart kicking through mud, and Jeno presses his palm against his cheek.

“You still with me?”

Jaemin nods. “You don’t have to be so careful.”

They change position until Jeno can fuck into him from behind and Jaemin is almost glad that he won’t see Jeno’s face, that Jeno won’t see his. His heart feels sore, more so than his body.

Jeno’s hand slides up his spine and back down again, soothing and steady. Jaemin’s body accommodates it easier now, the pain nothing more than a bit of a burn, and this angle is better – it doesn’t take long until each snap of Jeno’s hips has Jaemin panting and he lets his arms collapse, pressing his face into the crook of his elbow.

This is it. The next thrust touches that spot inside him again that makes him cry out and Jeno angles himself to reach it each time. The sensation is so intense that Jaemin isn’t sure if he wants to push against it or squirm away but Jeno’s hands gripping his hips don’t really leave him with a choice. He feels used, completely at Jeno’s mercy, and it hurts, it hurts, it hurts, but only in his chest. It hurts but it feels so good and he sobs into the sheets, too overwhelmed to hold himself up.

“Fuck,” Jeno grits out, leaning over Jaemin until his chest is pressed against his back. “You feel so good, Nana.”

“Jeno –” Pleasure builds in his groin and he struggles to reach between his legs with Jeno’s weight pressing him down like this. “Jen, baby, I’m close –”

“Me, too.” With that Jeno pulls out.

“Fuck, Jeno,” Jaemin cries. “I almost – I need to –”

Jeno doesn’t answer, just pushes Jaemin until he lets himself fall onto his back again. Jaemin is about to complain again when Jeno settles between his legs and fucks into him again, hard, and he groans with the heat flashing through him.

“I wanna see your face,” Jeno says, voice rough and low and incredibly hot, and Jaemin whimpers, locking his ankles behind Jeno’s back. He’s not going to last long with Jeno’s erratic thrusts and the friction against his dick where it’s trapped between their bodies.

Jeno speeds up and Jaemin can tell he’s close, too, losing his rhythm and just chasing after pleasure. He leans down to kiss along Jaemin’s jugular but it’s just wet gasps on his skin. One of his hands finds its way to Jaemin’s cock and Jaemin almost comes right then, feeling the smooth, slick slide of Jeno’s fist around him and it’s too much, too good, and he’s right at the edge –

Jaemin crashes their mouths together in one messy kiss full of teeth and bites down on Jeno’s bottom lip when he comes all over himself. His body tenses up, white-hot static cracking through his veins and dragging a rough moan out of his throat before the tension washes out. It’s so intense he feels a little like he’s floating and he lets the pleasure carry him away, just for one perfect extended moment of release.

When he comes to, Jeno’s riding out his own high, face buried in the junction between Jaemin’s neck and shoulder. Jaemin feels boneless, wincing a little at the overstimulation when Jeno grinds into him one more time before he carefully pulls out.

Jeno rolls off of Jaemin to lie next to him and they’re silent for a while until they both caught their breaths. Then Jeno gets up to throw away the condom and returns with a wet towel, handing it to Jaemin so he can clean himself.

“Damn,” Jeno says, linking his arms behind his head. “That was intense.”

Jaemin smiles weakly. “You could say that.”

“You’re not going to make me do this all the time now, are you?”

He says it as a joke but Jaemin frowns anyway. “Jeno, I’ll never make you do anything you don’t want to. Did you not – you could’ve said no.”

“I know. It’s okay, I wanted to.” Jeno smiles and reaches out to ruffle Jaemin’s hair.

They’re quiet for a moment, breaths evening out. Jaemin is tired now, superficially content, but it feels like something’s still missing. The empty place in his chest – now cracked open into a void.

He doesn’t know what it is that would fit into it.

Jeno sighs, pulling Jaemin out of his thoughts, and gets up to pick his shirt off the floor.

Jaemin wants him to stay.

Wants to curl up next to him, pillow his head on his chest and be held until the helplessness subsides. A part of him feels like crying and Jaemin doesn’t know why. Doesn’t know what’s wrong with him. It feels like he didn’t only expose his body but his heart too and all those things he’s locked up for so long are threatening to spill out.

But he can’t bring himself to ask. That’s a different kind of vulnerability, one he’ll never allow himself. He watches Jeno pull on his clothes the way he’s done a hundred times before, feeling like a hollow shell.

“You sure you’re okay?” Jeno asks softly and sits down at the edge of the bed.

No, Jaemin thinks. Please stay until I am. “Yeah. Tired.”

“Get some sleep then, yeah? I’ll see you soon.” Then he leans down, pressing a short kiss against Jaemin’s temple before he gets up. “Goodnight, Jaeminie.”

“Goodnight,” Jaemin whispers to the silent room, a minute after the door closes.

 

 

“What happened to you?” Renjun asks later, when Jaemin is sitting in the living room watching Desperate Housewives on TV. He isn’t really paying attention though, just stares into space and tries to un-see Jeno’s gentle smile. It doesn’t work.

“Nothing,” Jaemin says. He can tell by Renjun’s frown that he knows Jaemin’s lying.

“Didn’t you have Jeno over? Did something happen?”

That’s a good question, Jaemin thinks. Did something happen? Not visibly. Not between the two of them. But in Jaemin’s chest, yeah, probably. It doesn’t feel right anymore when he breathes and whatever it is, he’s going to rip it back out.

“I’m going out tomorrow,” he tells Renjun. “Probably won’t come back, so don’t wait up or anything.”

The wrinkle between Renjun’s eyebrows deepens but he doesn’t push. Jaemin is grateful for it. “Okay. Take care of yourself, yeah?”

“Don’t worry.”

 

 

Jaemin considers the girl under him. Her name is Yura or Yuri or something like that and by now her black cat-eye is smudged, her lipstick ruined, and she looks absolutely filthy. Her hair is splayed out on the pillow like a dark halo and her hands curl into the sheets when he pushes into her harder, sweat glistening on her delicate throat.

She feels good around him. She’s everything Jaemin could want right now, so willing, her boobs soft under his hands, her legs wrapped around his hips to pull him in deeper. She sighs his name in the sinful kind of way that usually goes straight to his dick but right now it does nothing.

He’s going through the motions like muscle memory, barely even feels it when she clenches around him because all he can think about is how he wants someone else to say his name like this. She is too small, too soft, too pliant. Her fingers are too gentle when she runs them over his back and she smells like roses and nice things and Jaemin knows he’s being stupid but he can’t help himself.

This girl is beautiful. A few weeks ago, Jaemin would have leaned in to bite down on her neck, would have fucked her harder as if she belonged to him only, maybe would have left his number so they could do this again sometime. Would have added her to a long list of past flings, cataloguing her away to be hit up another day, when boredom got the best of him.

He’s almost sorry, in a way.

She comes, heels digging into his lower back, and Jaemin leans down to kiss her so he won’t have to listen to her moans. He wants this to be over, so he fucks her through it and then pulls out, rolling to the side to find his clothes.

“Huh,” she says, voice rough. “But you didn’t… Leaving already?”

He glances back at her. “Sorry. Just remembered I have somewhere to be.”

It’s a fat and obvious lie, given that it’s sometime around midnight on a Saturday, but she doesn’t question it. Jaemin appreciates that and slips into his clothes quickly. His skin tingles with anxiety, fingers already fumbling for his lighter, and he can’t get away fast enough.

“Hey,” she says gently before he pulls the door open. She waits for him to turn around and look at her where she’s sitting on her bed, her hair covering her chest. She looks like she knows something Jaemin doesn’t and he hates the words before she even says them. “Whoever it is you’re so hung up on, I hope it works out for you.”

Jaemin tries to smile but it feels like a grimace. He leaves her room quickly and lights himself a cigarette as soon as he’s outside. He feels like he needs to run or break something or just pass the fuck out to get rid of this tight feeling in his chest because no, it can’t be happening, not to him. It never happens to him, it’s always the others. He can always just walk away, knowing there’s not a single thing he’s done wrong, his heart as intact and untouched as it has always been.

But it’s right there, the truth. Crawling right under the surface of his skin, like ants. It’s the shape of a name that has been occupying his mind for days now, a face that won’t leave him even in his dreams, everything spinning more out of control the longer he tries to ignore it.

He knows whom he really wanted there, under him or just with him, maybe not even naked, maybe not even doing anything. Maybe he just wanted that someone close, in whatever sense in the world.

Jaemin closes his eyes, inhaling the smoke, and wills the thoughts away.

He’s a good liar. He doesn’t even have to think about it anymore. It’s second nature, it gets him what he wants. It’s so often easier than the truth and more often than not, people don’t really care anyways.

But the only person he can’t lie to is himself.

For a short second, he thinks about putting out the cigarette on his arm, just to feel the pain somewhere else, but then flicks the butt away, crushing it under his heel before he gets on his way home.

Tomorrow he’s going to see Jeno. Is going to talk to him for a while  and probably watch a movie before fucking him because that’s what they always do. He’s not going to feel a thing, he tells himself. And even if he does, Jeno will be none the wiser.

Once a liar, always a liar.

 

 

Jaemin sits outside of his apartment complex on the steps leading up to the front door. Above the roofs of the opposite houses, the sky is dusted pink and lavender, gentle spring colours blended out like the impeccable eye shadow of the last girl he fucked. It smells like blossoms and evening and cigarette smoke when Jaemin breathes in deeply.

“What goes on,” Renjun says from behind him and Jaemin almost jumps; he hasn’t heard him open the door. “Na Jaemin, watching the sunset like a sap? Have you finally gotten in touch with your inner romantic?”

Jaemin doesn’t answer, takes another deep drag instead. The tip of the cigarette glows orange in the dimming light.

Renjun sits down next to him. Jaemin can feel the sharpness of his gaze without having to look; knows he’s probably in for some verbal ass-kicking. He’s been avoiding being alone with Renjun but he can’t help feeling sorry for himself now.

“I like him, Injun,” Jaemin says before Renjun can get started with his lecture. This is already the biggest punishment of them all: the weight of feelings pressing down on his sternum with every breath. The fact that he can’t look any attractive person in the eye without wishing they were Jeno instead. Staring at the number on his phone that he doesn’t dare text right now no matter much he wants to, too scared of what he’d say if he did. “I like Jeno. A lot.”

“Congrats on finally figuring that out,” Renjun quips.

“You can save your breath.”

“Making fun of you is not what I’m here for. But what are you going to do about it?”

“What do you mean?”

Renjun rolls his eyes. “Are you gonna grow some balls and ask him out?”

“Jeno doesn’t do relationships,” Jaemin says slowly, staring at Renjun like he’s gone nuts. “And neither do I.”

“If you knew for sure that he likes you, too,” Renjun begins, “wouldn’t you give it a go? Look me in the eye and tell me you don’t want to do stupid shit like hold his hand and take him on cute dates.”

Jaemin stays silent for a moment, contemplating that and then trying to banish these thoughts from his mind. “If he were to get a boyfriend he deserves better than me.”

Renjun snorts. “Damn. One crush was really all it took to change you into this pathetic self-deprecating creature?”

“Shut up, you know what I mean.”

“No, not really. Jeno is the same as you, you know? Just because you’re more of a slut with an ego bigger than your brain doesn’t really change anything.”

“Great, so let’s say he’s the same as me,” Jaemin snaps. “How would that change anything? None of us are made to be in relationships and he just – why would I even try when he doesn’t feel the same way about me? If he ever goes for the long-lasting kind he should – I don’t know, he should find someone who’s more functional and maybe isn’t as much of a dick – and he doesn’t like me like that anyway so – why are we even talking about this?!“

“Nana,” Renjun interrupts carefully. “No one is made to be in a relationship. People put work into it, and time and dedication and all that. And have you ever considered that maybe he wants it to be you?”

Jaemin looks at him. All of a sudden he’s hit with the desire to hug his mum; maybe he should take the train home and hide out in his childhood room where everything’s simple and feelings like this never mattered. “He doesn’t, though. Congrats, Injun, for being a smart motherfucker. You may laugh at me for catching feelings.”

Renjun squeezes his shoulder and it just makes everything worse. Jaemin kind of wants to cry but he hasn’t cried in so long he’s not sure he still knows how. It would be easier to handle if Renjun really would make fun of him instead of taking this so seriously.

“You used to love everyone so easily, remember?” Renjun says. “A different crush every week. Sometimes several at once. You liked everyone and everything, and then one day you stopped. It’s like I blinked and suddenly you put your heart in a box.”

“Wow,” Jaemin says sarcastically. “Thanks for hyper-analysing me during high school.”

Renjun smirks. “See? You’ve gotten so defensive. I just wonder why you never let yourself feel things anymore. Especially now when it might actually make you happy.”

The truth is, loving everyone comes with a set of risks. Not a lot of people ever liked Jaemin back the way he wanted them to and rejection hurts, but it hurts more when you’re young and in need of validation and when you have so much to give and no one to want it from you.

The truth is, in senior year Jaemin figured out that love wasn’t worth it and that he could get a different kind of closeness, one that had no risks at all, no hurt, no feelings, just fun. He learnt that protecting himself was a useful skill and it was nice to be the one being wanted for once. So he exchanged being vulnerable with being safe, learnt how to switch on his charm until he got what and who he wanted. It wasn’t all that difficult to change back then and now he’s here, the final, terrible, perfect version of his immature high school self.

“I’ve obviously failed now,” Jaemin says. “Since somehow despite knowing better, I like him.”

“You should tell him,” Renjun says. “You’re going to lose him regardless. Unless, of course, he likes you, too.”

“He doesn’t.”

“You won’t know that for sure until you ask. So you should tell him.”

Jaemin nods weakly, but he already knows he won’t. He can’t. As good as he is with words, he’s never been all that great at confronting his own feelings. He’s never really had to, not in a long time, and he’d really like to avoid being rejected by Jeno. There’s just no way that Jeno will feel the same way about him. It’s not that Jaemin doesn’t love himself (quite the opposite really) but they’re such different brands of people, the only common thing being that they are both just in it for the benefits. Jeno deserves someone who’s just as smart and gentle and amazing, and it isn’t Jaemin.

“Let me know how it goes,” Renjun says gets up to go back inside.

Jaemin stays outside until the sky is a deep indigo with a little bit of an orange glow left, not long before it’s completely dark. For a second Jaemin lets himself wonder if maybe Renjun is right. He really will lose Jeno no matter what he does but at the end of the day Jaemin’s a coward. People think it’s easy for him to confess because he’s so affectionate when the difference between honey-dipped words and real feelings is actually an almost insurmountable chasm.

He doesn’t think he could look at Jeno when he tells him. Maybe he won’t have to – he could just send a text with a hey let’s stop fucking and that would be it.

Tomorrow, maybe. Or next week. Just not now. Not yet.

 

 

“Fuck me like you mean it,” Jeno whines.

Jaemin pulls back a little to frown at Jeno, feeling mildly offended but also like he’s been caught making a mistake. “I always mean it.”

“No,” Jeno clarifies. “Fuck me like you used to. Like you don’t care where that leaves me.”

But I do care, Jaemin thinks. I do care.

Today had been so uneventful that Jaemin hadn’t found the strength to say no when Jeno asked if he could come over. He doesn’t quite regret it yet; it’s easy to get lost in Jeno and the way he kisses Jaemin back, almost as if he felt the same things Jaemin does.

But apparently it’s too slow for Jeno today. They change positions until Jeno is on top, with Jaemin leaning against the headboard and his hands on Jeno’s hips. They’re so close like this and Jaemin feels every noise Jeno makes as well as hears it, so he closes his eyes and ignores the ache that’s filling his ribcage like a flash flood, focuses on the wet slaps of his thrusts and the grind of Jeno’s hips.

And then Jeno stops moving.

“Something’s wrong,” he says and cups Jaemin’s face in his hands. “You’re so quiet today. What is it?”

Jaemin doesn’t want to open his eyes. Wants to pull Jeno’s face back down against his mouth and, for another moment, let himself give in.

If he opens his eyes, he’s scared he’ll say the truth.

“Nothing,” he replies.

“Bullshit,” Jeno says and slides off his lap. “We don’t have to do anything today if you’re tired.”

Right, Jaemin thinks. Because you have other people to do the same things with that we do, and I should, too, but I don’t, or not anymore.

“Nana,” Jeno says. Gently, like the name was made to fit inside his mouth. Like everybody else has been saying it wrong this whole time.

“I just,” Jaemin starts. Stops. Lying has never been hard before but, because it’s Jeno, now it is. Jaemin doesn’t want to lie to him anymore but the truth would mean the end and he isn’t selfless enough, not yet, not yet

He opens his eyes. Jeno is looking at him with an expression somewhere on the spectrum between worried and curious, his dark eyes searching Jaemin’s face.

“I’m stressed,” Jaemin says. “I really wanted to go out tonight but there’s this damn quiz tomorrow at eight that I didn’t really study for yet and I just – I just want to stop thinking for a moment.”

Jeno raises his eyebrow and regards him. “What are you trying to forget?”

“Huh?”

“You wanna get drunk. Badly. So what is it you’re hiding from?”

Jaemin can’t look away from him. Wonders just how bitter the truth would taste – I’m hiding from these feelings I have for you, feelings I shouldn’t have in the first place but now they’re there and they’re unstoppable. You know me too well and I love it and I hate it and I don’t know what to do. “Can’t a guy just have a bad day?”

Jeno snorts. Jaemin finds more comfort in his laugh than anything else. “Fair.”

“So. Get back here? I just need to relax a little.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Alright. We can go slow if that’s what you want.”

Jaemin nods and runs his hands up Jeno’s bicep to pull him closer. Jeno meets him halfway, sinking back down on Jaemin’s dick with a content sigh, and sets a languid, sensual pace.

It’s a mistake. The reddest flag of all. It doesn’t matter that Jaemin lied to Jeno because he’s sure he knows it now anyway, when Jaemin is too gentle with him and too slow and there are too many kisses and touches and things that they don’t usually do. Jaemin buries his face in Jeno’s chest, tries to focus on his breathy noises instead of the cloud of feelings that’s threatening to smother him but it’s too late. This isn’t lazy sex – this is vanilla; this is feelings.

Jeno doesn’t say anything about it. Doesn’t say anything when Jaemin intertwines their fingers to press Jeno’s hands into the mattress. Doesn’t say anything when Jaemin doesn’t pull out immediately.

Doesn’t say anything when Jaemin kisses him again, and again, and again.

Jaemin was a fool to think he could hide something like this. Jeno doesn’t say anything but Jaemin can see the change in his face when he gets ready to leave, can see the carefully constructed blankness, the avoided eye-contact.

“I hope your day gets better. And good luck for tomorrow’s quiz. You still have time to study a little,” Jeno says quietly when he’s at the door, like so many times before. He smiles but it seems empty compared to the real deal, and Jaemin feels like he’s already lost him. Once he’s out that door, he might never hear from Jeno again.

“Thanks,” Jaemin says.

Jeno pulls his mouth into the expression that Renjun always calls ‘frog face’, opens the door and closes it behind him. Just like that. Like Jaemin is easy to leave behind. He must be – no strings attached and all that.

Jaemin didn’t think it would feel like that. Like a vital part of his body is being ripped out, straight through the ribcage.

He rolls over to press his face into the pillows to try and sleep the pain away but everything smells like Jeno.

 

 

From: Jen 🍑 💦
hi
wyd
wanna come over?

 

Jaemin stares at his phone. He almost choked on his coffee when he got the text. It’s normal, a clear message in FWB standards and yet Jaemin finds himself taken aback. He was still getting used to the fact that his life would now most likely be Jeno-less, leaving behind a bigger crater than he would ever have expected, and Renjun had been forced to deal with some intense mood swings over the past two days.

He squints at the message.

Is this a test? Is this Jeno trying to figure out if this was a one-time slip-up? Or is Jeno just oblivious? Or really desperate for dick?

Jaemin stares at the text for a full five minutes, contemplating whether or not he can risk seeing Jeno. In the end the need to see him wins, as it always does, so he sends back omw, wondering if he’s going to regret this.

 

Jeno opens the door dressed like he just woke up: shorts, oversized shirt, feet bare. Jaemin barely gets to take in Jeno’s messy hair or the dark circles under his eyes before he practically jumps him, pressing against him so hard that Jaemin stumbles back into the hallway before Jeno pulls him inside.

“Bedroom,” Jeno demands, barely taking his mouth off Jaemin’s. “Quick.”

“Jeno, what –”

“I just – need you. Please?”

What a terrible, lovely thing to say. It strokes both Jaemin’s ego and his heart and there are so many questions he should ask but in the end, as always, he is just a guy. He knows what the right thing would be: declining. Sitting Jeno down and talking about it. Telling him they can’t do this anymore.

Just one more time, Jaemin tells himself again. Just one more time.

 

Jeno’s impatient. It doesn’t take long at all until he’s grinding down on Jaemin’s cock, and Jaemin’s breathless with the way he moves, too urgent, too desperate, almost aggressive. Something about it doesn’t feel right, but then again, nothing’s felt right since this whole emotion business kicked off anyway. Jaemin tries to put it all in a box again to at least enjoy this moment but it’s grown too huge, has turned into a hydra that grows more heads the more Jaemin cuts off until it’s uncontainable.

It’s all too much. The way Jaemin can feel Jeno’s fingernails dig into his skin every time he grinds down harder. The sweat glistening on Jeno’s chest. The kind of loose, unrestrained expression on Jeno’s face he only ever gets when Jaemin’s doing something right, his thrusts that kick the air out of Jaemin’s lungs, the intensity in his eyes when he looks down at him.

Jaemin lets Jeno move however he wants, lets him use him. His hands are on Jeno’s hips to steady him, rubbing circles into the soft skin there, and Jaemin wishes he could just hold him close. He wonders what that would feel like – holding him without having to let go.

Jeno scratches his fingernails down Jaemin’s chest when he comes, not even bothering to muffle his voice. Jaemin can barely stand seeing him like this, watching him ride out his high before scooting down Jaemin’s body to pull the condom off and take his cock in his mouth.

This is the last time, Jaemin knows. He can’t do it anymore. Jeno feels so good swallowing him down like that but even this is underscored by these stupid feelings and Jaemin’s heart is a traitor, trying to interpret Jeno’s actions as too intimate, too loving, when they’re nothing of the sort.

It’s just Jaemin and these stupid, stupid feelings that have ruined everything, and Jaemin closes his eyes when he comes so he won’t look at Jeno.

And then they’re lying next to each other and Jaemin can feel Jeno’s body heat radiating off of him, can feel how much he wants to shuffle closer, so much that it hurts not to, and he decides to say it after all.

“Hey,” he says. “I think we should stop.”

Jeno shifts next to him but Jaemin doesn’t look. He won’t look. “Stop what?”

“This – this whole thing. Sleeping with each other.”

“You – what? You don’t want to –”

Jaemin squeezes his eyes shut. There’s surprise in Jeno’s voice and then, underneath that, a hint of hurt and disappointment. 

“I’m sorry, Jeno,” Jaemin says. He aches all over, like he’s ripping a part of himself out but he knows he has to do this. End it, cut it off, and erase everything that makes him feel so raw inside. There’s no space for feelings here, even if that means having to break this friendship.

“Why?” Jeno asks. His voice is distressed enough that it makes Jaemin turn and look at him.

He wishes he hadn’t. Jeno’s sitting up, eyes dark and sad and full of individual lights. He looks like he’s hurting too and Jaemin wants him to smile, just one more time, just so he knows he isn’t making a mistake right now. This should be easy – Jaemin’s done this before and so has Jeno, breaking things off with a FWB. It should be easy but it isn’t, it isn’t, because Jaemin has broken his own rules and let himself fall for Jeno.

The ground feels too far away from him when he sits up, too. The air is thin, hard to breathe, and Jaemin hopes his façade holds up, just until he’s alone. “I just – don’t want to anymore.”

Jeno furrows his eyebrows and Jaemin realises he’s mad. Mad at him. Rightfully so, which makes the guilt feel heavier and Jaemin’s sorry, he really is, but he can’t change the way he feels.

Can’t change that he feels something in the first place.

“But like, why? The least you could give me is an explanation. I thought things were–” Jeno snaps his jaw shut and draws in a breath for his next words, as if the realisation just hit him. Jaemin knows it’s going to hurt but he still isn’t prepared. “I’m not good enough for you, am I? Just another one of your disposable whores –”

Yes, Jeno,” Jaemin snaps, ignoring the way his own words crack open his heart, like a raw egg smashing on tarmac. The hurt bleeds all the way through him and it’s so much worse than just letting Jeno slip out of his life quietly. It’s so much worse. “That’s exactly what you are. What I am, to you. We’re friends who fucked and now we’re just friends or actually, maybe we’re not anything anymore. You know as well as me that fuck buddies don’t last forever.”

You know as well as me what happens when one of them falls in love.

Right now, more than anything, he wishes he was better at telling the truth.

Jeno stares at him, something unrecognisable in his eyes that makes the stabbing pain in Jaemin’s chest throb. He didn’t mean to hurt Jeno. He didn’t think it would hurt him; if anything, Jaemin is the disposable one between the two of them. The one that had to brace himself for impact despite knowing there’s no protecting himself anymore.

But Jeno is too nice. Always too kind. Has always been so much sweeter in his actions than Jaemin could ever be despite his sugary words. Of course he’d value their friendship. Of course.

“Wow,” Jeno says tonelessly. “I knew you were a dick but wow.”

“It’s not like we were anything exclusive.”

Jeno snorts joylessly. “Right. Whatever, Jaemin. You should leave.”

It hurts, the way he says ‘Jaemin’ and not ‘Nana’. It sounds final, the nail in the coffin, a door slamming shut. Jaemin can see it, the way Jeno seals himself away from him.

Jaemin has no right to complain. He has no right to be angry. He’s made this bed, so he’ll lie in it, no matter how much it hurts.

The pain is abysmal when he gets up to slip into his clothes quickly despite his shaky hand. Jaemin feels like he’s coming apart at the seams, each individual thread being snapped by the pressure. Renjun had told him this would happen, had told him just like Mark that he’d lose Jeno one way or another, and it’s here now.

Jaemin wishes the pain was cathartic. Maybe if he’d said it out loud once he could’ve let the wound bleed itself clean but he hasn’t; of course he hasn’t. He’s just a liar after all. A liar and a coward and now someone who hurt Lee Jeno. He’s a terrible person. 

“I’m sorry, Jeno,” he says. He doesn’t know if Jeno is still listening to him. “I really am. I’ll – I’ll see you around.”

Jeno gives him an empty look and gets up to open the door for him. Jaemin watches him stand there for a moment, expression defiant and unreadable, and every fibre of Jaemin’s being is screaming at him to stay, take back his words, ask Jeno to be his, but instead he walks out into the empty hallway.

It says so much about Jeno that he still closes the door softly behind him, and then Jaemin’s alone, standing in the middle of the aftermath of having his heart broken for the very first time.

 

 

“I never thought I’d get to see you cry,” Renjun says from the doorway and Jaemin turns around to glare at him. He’s in the living room because the walls of his own room were too suffocating but really, this isn’t any better, either. There isn’t a place where Jaemin could be safe from his memories of Jeno and what they’d both said today.

“I’m not crying,” he snaps. His throat feels raw, like he’s swallowed barbed wire and the words are pulling it back up, bit by wiry bit.

Renjun’s face softens minimally. “You look like you’re about to.”

“I’m not going to cry.”

He feels like it, though. The pressure behind his eyes, the smell of salt burning in his nose, the tightness of his chest that he can’t seem to breathe away. He hasn’t felt like this in a long time.

Perhaps hasn’t felt like this ever.

He keeps thinking about what Jeno said. That he honestly thought he was disposable to Jaemin. That he thought he wasn’t anything special when he was in fact the most special of all. Jaemin wonders if it would have made a difference if he’d told Jeno about his feelings but the mere thought scorches him with shame. It would have ended like this one way or another; with changed variables, but the result still the same.

“Nana,” Renjun says quietly and that’s as far as he gets because how many times has Jeno called him that? Has said it softly, like it was the only name Jaemin should be called. Nana, like a nickname between two people who are fond of each other – two people who aren’t anything anymore because Jaemin had to go and break his own heart.

But his heart isn’t broken; it’s a sinkhole. Nothing works without the centre, just crumbles and crumbles until there’s nothing, until there’s only a gaping void where something alive used to be.

He did the right thing, he tells himself. He’s done the right thing by not exploiting Jeno. Right? That must have been the best thing for both of them. Ending it quickly, like ripping off a band-aid.

It wasn’t a band-aid. Band-aids don’t make you bleed, they don’t tear wounds like this. Band-aids stop hurting after seconds but this, this is some long-term kind of pain and Jaemin can feel it settle into his bones, making itself a home there, in the cavity of his chest where is heart was.

There’s warmth enveloping him. He realises it’s Renjun, holding him on their shitty second-hand couch, the one Jeno fell asleep on once which Jaemin considered a miracle back then. Renjun’s holding him like the best friend that he is and Jaemin can’t see anything but multi-coloured blurs through the wall of tears he won’t let fall, that are falling without his permission anyway.

Renjun doesn’t ask what happened and Jaemin doesn’t tell him; he can probably imagine. Jaemin can’t even bring himself to be embarrassed when his breath turns hiccupy and snotty and disgusting. Heart ache is ugly. Apparently it really is like in the movies, except in real life there’s no happy end.

When the tears finally stop Renjun detaches himself for a moment to switch on the TV and then returns to the couch to give Jaemin something to lean on. Jaemin appreciates it. Renjun’s the only person who ever got to see him at his worst so it’s only right that Renjun’s here for this, too, this heartbreak, lost love kind of thing that Jaemin never thought he’d have to go through.

“You alright with horror?” Renjun asks, scrolling through their Netflix list.

Jaemin nods. Anything without romance will do right now, though it’s not like he’s watching anyway. Five minutes into the movie, he buries his face in Renjun’s shoulder and lets himself fall apart.

 

 

Jaemin throws himself into his coursework. Drowns himself in alcohol. Sleeps with two people (one of them the Hendery guy Jeno sometimes mentioned) just to realise it doesn’t feel good anymore. Despite extended hours of slouching over books in the silent study rooms of the library his GPA doesn’t improve and Renjun’s looks get more worried every day.

Jaemin can barely avoid the questions anymore. Life without Jeno sucks and not only because of the sudden lack of satisfying sex. He smokes like a chimney and generally it feels like his entire life is going downhill but honestly, he doesn’t care right now.

Doesn’t care much about anything anymore, really.

 

 

“You can’t keep this up, Jaemin,” Renjun tries, chopping onions in the kitchen. Jaemin has stopped cooking for them, so it’s either takeaway or Renjun’s attempts at Chinese dishes. Yukhei tries to help but he’s as disastrous in the kitchen as Jeno was, so he usually sits on the couch with Jaemin.

“Well, I’m so sorry,” Jaemin bites out. “I really didn’t mean to drag down your mood –”

“That’s not it. I just – I want you to feel better but you’re not even trying –”

Jaemin snorts. He knows he’s being difficult – has been for the past weeks – but he honestly doesn’t give a shit. “If Yukhei broke up with you, you wouldn’t get over it within a few days, either.”

“You were never even dating!” Renjun snaps and the silence that follows is heavy.

“I’m sorry,” Renjun continues, softer now. “But you were never together. You knew what would happen.”

“Doesn’t mean I was ready.”

“I know. But it’s time to… move on, I guess. To get it back together. You’re the one who broke it off, which was a good thing, but now you have to do the second part of it and actually get the fuck over it.”

Jaemin doesn’t reply. He doesn’t know the rules and timelines of heartbreak, doesn’t know how long it will take until he stops missing Jeno, until he’ll stop grieving this friendship and everything it entailed and all the things it never got to be. He didn’t think he’d be the type to hold on to useless things but perhaps this is a special case. It would only be right. It’s Jeno after all.

“You poor, whipped bastard.” Renjun turns around to give him a sympathetic look. “When I told you to stop running away from your feelings, I didn’t mean this. You’re so… extreme.”

Jaemin makes a face at him. He doesn’t want pity. “I didn’t choose this, just for the record.”

Renjun sighs. “I know. But come out with us this weekend, okay? We’ll ask Mark and Jaehyun and some others, too, and it’ll take things off your mind.”

Jaemin leans back and shakes his head. “Maybe another time.”

 

 

One Wednesday, three weeks and four days since the last time he’s seen Jeno (not that he’s counting or anything), Jaemin comes home from a lecture and Renjun’s sitting in the living room.

Next to him, on the shitty couch, is Hyuck.

Jaemin freezes in the doorway, not even putting his keys down in case he needs to escape. “What’s he doing here? Did something happen to – to Jeno?”

“Please sit,” Renjun says.

“What?”

“You heard me.”

Jaemin stalks into the room, gingerly sitting down on the empty chair that’s been conveniently placed there for him. “What is this?”

“You look like shit,” Hyuck says.

Jaemin snorts. “It’s good to see you, too.”

“I actually hate seeing you,” Hyuck gives back with a completely straight face. Jaemin has the feeling he isn’t lying. “But Renjun said I’d be helpful.”

“I don’t think you are,” Jaemin says.

“He is,” Renjun throws in. “Well. Let’s – let’s just start. How are you feeling lately, Nana? I’m worried. Everyone’s worried.”

“I’m not,” Hyuck throws in and Renjun gives him a scathing look.

“Be honest.”

For some reason whenever people tell Jaemin this – be honest – the urge to lie grows pretty much irresistible. “What is this, therapy?”

“You like Jeno, don’t you?” Hyuck asks and Jaemin glares at Renjun for exposing him. “And yet you hurt him. Why? You didn’t really strike me as a complete idiot and yet here we are.”

Jaemin crosses his arms. “I didn’t realise he’d take it so hard. It’s not like we were – there were no strings attached. I didn’t think he’d care.”

Hyuck glances at Renjun. “I changed my mind. He’s an idiot.”

“I know,” Renjun says, and then to Jaemin, “You’re so fucking dense.”

“Look,” Jaemin replies. “If you don’t have anything valuable to say then fuck off, I have some moping around to do.”

“We’re saying that you should talk to Jeno and see where both of you stand,” Hyuck gives back.

“I don’t think he wants to see me.” And I don’t know if I can look at him right now, or ever again, without starting to cry.

“You owe him.”

“I don’t owe anybody anyth-”

“Just do it, Jaemin,” Renjun cuts in. “If anything, it might give you closure.”

“Is Jeno – how is he doing?” Jaemin asks carefully.

Hyuck narrows his eyes at him. “You should go see for yourself.”

“But what would I even tell him? He hates me now.”

“The truth,” Hyuck says. “Jeno deserves better than being lied to, don’t you think?”

There’s something in Hyuck’s voice, something gentler this time, and Jaemin is suddenly painfully aware that Hyuck is to Jeno what Renjun is to him. They’re best friends, people who’ve seen each other at their brightest and lowest moments, and Hyuck has always seemed like the protective type. Of course he’d hate Jaemin for saying what he did to Jeno. Anyone would.

“He isn’t doing well, is he?” Jaemin asks.

Hyuck shakes his head. “He won’t really talk to me about it but I bet it’s because you said something shitty to him. He’s a person, too, you know? He isn’t all that confident in himself. And being ditched like that by someone you think of as a friend – of course that sucks.”

Fuck,” Jaemin whispers. His stomach churns with guilt, heavy and parching. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry.”

“Tell him that,” Renjun suggests.

Jaemin bites the inside of his cheek. He should do that, right? He’s already lost Jeno and already feels like a possum that’s been run over thrice and left for dead in the trash. What could possibly be worse? He might as well be honest this time and give Jeno the chance to trample over his confidence and his heart, too. “Alright. But Injun, you better be waiting here with ice cream and blankets in case he breaks my heart.”

Hyuck snorts. “You have one after all?”

“Yeah,” Renjun says, sighing deeply. “And it belongs to Jeno.”

 

 

Walking up to Jeno’s apartment complex is harder than it should be. Jaemin’s freshly showered after Hyuck told him he smelled like sadness and the breeze makes him shiver but he’d rather stand out here and get pneumonia than hear Jeno say that he hates him. Even after three weeks it still hurts and it’s just a confirmation for Jaemin that feelings are nothing but trouble. But he caught them now and they’re hard to get rid of, so hard that sometimes it seems impossible.

It’s been difficult trying not to think about Jeno. About his smile and the way he always knew what to say when Jaemin was complaining about his grades, his endless patience when it came to Jaemin’s idiosyncrasies and his kindness towards every remotely cute animal they saw.

Jaemin shouldn’t really be surprised that it’s Jeno he fell for when Jeno is the best person he’s ever met.

It takes him ten minutes to find the courage to push open the main door, and then another ten to force himself up the stairs to Jeno’s and Hyuck’s shared apartment. Jaemin knows Jeno is in there; Hyuck told him he’s trying to study for one of his electives.

His hand is shaking when he knocks.

There’s a bit of rummaging around before the lock clicks and the door falls open. Jeno looks surprised for a split second before he schools his expression into something indifferent.

And yet. Jeno looks tired. His eyes are a bit swollen behind his glasses as if he’d just gotten up after having had very little sleep and he’s wearing boxers and a loose shirt that Jaemin recognises as his sleep clothes despite it being late in the afternoon. All in all, he looks run down, exhausted, burnt out, and Jaemin aches to reach out and hug him and tell him he’ll be okay.

But he doesn’t. He swallows around the lump in his throat and the burn in his chest and says, “I have something to tell you.”

Jeno doesn’t reply at first. Jaemin watches his eyes travel down and back up before he steps aside to let Jaemin in.

Jeno’s study materials are spread out on the coffee table, messier than usual, when they sit down on the couch. It’s a lot more comfortable than Jaemin’s but the atmosphere is awkward. Jaemin’s never done this before – he doesn’t know where to start and Jeno isn’t helping him. Not that he should.

“Do you want anything to drink?” Jeno asks.

Jaemin shakes his head. “I promise I won’t bother you for long, I know you’re busy. I just – fuck.”

“Are you okay?” Jeno asks. There’s worry in his voice (even now, he’s so nice) and Jaemin wonders what he looks like to Jeno. People have told him he’s lost weight – maybe he looks like a train wreck, too. Maybe the shower didn’t wash away the sadness.

“No,” Jaemin says quietly. “I miss you.”

Jeno scoffs. When Jaemin looks at him again he seems closed off, almost defensive. Jaemin can’t blame him. “You’re the one who broke things off.”

“I know. But I had a reason, okay? A good one.”

“Yeah, the reason being that you got bored of me.” Jeno sighs quietly. “I get it, you know? It’s not the first time that happened –”

“That’s not it.”

“Then what? I wasn’t good enough for you, you said it yourself. I know we weren’t exclusive, okay? I know how this works. But the way you worded it really sucks, alright, it sucks to be told that you’re nothing special and so easy to get rid of even when it’s the truth.”

Jaemin sucks on his teeth. “But it wasn’t the truth, Jeno.”

“What?”

“It wasn’t. I was lying because I was scared and I’m sorry for what I said because I knew it’d hurt you. I’m sorry.”

Jeno stares at him. “But then why did you say it at all? Why couldn’t you just be honest?“

“I love you, Jeno.” Jaemin’s voice breaks. So that’s what it’s like, to confess. It’s freeing and terrifying at once but he’s already lost what he was afraid to lose. “That’s why.”

Jeno pauses. Goes impossibly still. His eyes sparkle more than they did before and Jaemin really hopes he won’t cry because that’s not something he’d survive. “You what?”

Jaemin pulls his shoulders up, trying to keep it together, at least until he can leave. “I wish I didn’t. I know it’s taboo, us being fubus and all. Broke my own rules, I guess. But I love you and the best – the best thing I can do about it is to keep away from you and I’m really, really sorry, Jeno. I didn’t want to hurt you or exploit you. Not even I can be that selfish. I should’ve just told you the truth right away but it’s really fucking hard when I’ve been lying to myself for so long.”

It’s quiet. Jaemin would be proud of himself for holding Jeno’s surprised eye-contact if he wasn’t so caught up in the mess of emotions swirling through his chest, threatening to well up into tears again. He won’t cry in front of Jeno. He won’t.

“You idiot,” Jeno says. His voice is raw with some strange emotion Jaemin can’t place, but he figures it must be disappointment. “You fucking idiot. I tried so hard not to – and you – we could’ve –”

Jaemin blinks. “What?”

“I tried so hard,” Jeno rasps, shoulders sinking, “not to like you. And then I tried to pretend I didn’t, because I know you don’t do feelings, you said it over and over again and so did your friends, and then – then when you said we have to stop I thought it was because you noticed.”

“What? What are you –”

“Dammit, Nana.” Jeno presses his lips together and Jaemin realises he’s trying to keep it together just as hard as Jaemin is. “I like you so much.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“Wait.” Jaemin takes a breath, and then another, but he’s not sure if the oxygen even reaches his brain. Maybe he’s hyperventilating and just hallucinating this whole thing. “Did – did you just tell me you like me back?”

Jeno groans. “Yes, you idiot.”

They stare at each other and Jaemin’s heart nearly beats out of his chest. It’s too good to be true. Jeno’s going to start with a ‘but…’ any second now. But you’re too much of a slut, but I realised I deserve better than you, but I’m over it now…

“You have to tell me now,” Jeno says and his voice wobbles a little. “You have to tell me now if you want this to be serious or not. Like, if you want to – want to be in an actual relationship. Because by God, I can’t do casual when it comes to you.”

Jaemin bites his bottom lip, his heartbeat pulsing right against his teeth. He doesn’t think it will ever slow down again, not when Jeno means what he said. “I – I’ve never had something serious before I want to, with you, I mean. I like you a whole lot, you know? I meant what I said. The love thing.”

When Jeno smiles, Jaemin feels like the sun is breaking through the clouds, warm and bright on his skin. Like the cracks in his heart are mending themselves. “Well, good thing I like you a whole lot, too.”

They sit there for a moment, smiling stupidly at each other, and Jaemin wonders if maybe his soul has left his body and is watching from the outside now. It doesn’t feel real. He might have to ask Jeno to say it a hundred times more.

“I can’t believe you like me,” he says numbly. “Was it the cooking that did it?”

Jeno laughs. God, Jaemin has missed this so much. “It probably played a part. But I don’t know. You’re so – ridiculous. Most of the time I don’t even know why you make me laugh but being with you is – it’s so easy.”

Jeno won’t look at him anymore, his face flushed and hands clasped together, and he’s the most adorable being Jaemin has ever seen in his entire life. If this is what love can feel like then maybe he wants a part of it after all. 

“I really, really want to kiss you right now,” Jaemin says.

Jeno smiles again, blinking up at him through his eyelashes. “Do it then.”

So Jaemin does. He puts all his apology and longing and love into this kiss, hoping Jeno will understand it. He probably does with the way he runs his fingers through Jaemin’s hair to pull him closer and he slips his tongue into his mouth, deepening the kiss before promptly pulling back.

Jeno’s eyes are warm but he wrinkles his nose. “You taste like an ashtray.”

“Sorry,” Jaemin says. “I guess I’m pretty dysfunctional without you.”

“Worry not,” Jeno says. “I’m here now and I’ll even kiss you when you’re disgusting.”

“At least I showered.”

“I didn’t know you’d come over!”

Jaemin laughs. He hopes he’ll ever stop feeling like this – weightless and ecstatic, as if nothing but Jeno mattered in the world. Jeno starts laughing, too, and Jaemin buries his face in Jeno’s neck just because he can now, holds him close and inhales his scent and lets Jeno giggle into his hair.

“Did you know I don’t really do fuck buddies?” Jeno asks, the smile still in his voice. “I get attached too fast. But then I made an exception for you, I’m not even sure why.”

“Because I’m irresistible.” Jaemin leans in to pepper kisses all over Jeno’s face until he laughs again. “I’m glad you did. And glad that you got attached, too.”

Jeno grins up at him, stars in his dark eyes. “You’re an idiot. But I’m glad you’re here.”

 

To Jaemin’s mild surprise they don’t do anything but make out and snuggle. They find themselves tangled up in each other on the couch and Jaemin doesn’t remember if he’s ever really felt like this before – content, like there’s nothing he could miss. Happy. Honestly, truly happy, just being close to Jeno.

“I can’t believe I’m someone’s boyfriend,” Jaemin marvels. “Lee Jeno’s boyfriend.”

Jeno traces the veins on Jaemin’s wrists. Once he had said Jaemin blushes through his hands and they’re red now, too. “You better get used to it.”

“I’ll never get used to you,” Jaemin says. Jeno rolls his eyes but he’s smiling anyway.

“You might not be aware,” Jeno says. “But relationships are work. It’s not all fun and games, you know? We’ll fight and shit. Please promise me you won’t just run away when it’s harder to love me.”

“It’s never going to be hard to love you.”

“You say that now but when I do something to piss you off you’ll remember this.”

“Okay.” Jaemin links their pinkies together. “I promise I won’t run away. I’ll be a responsible adult and communicate with you and be honest with you.”

“Nana!” Jeno slaps his shoulder with his free hand. “Take this seriously!”

“I just gave you a pinkie promise! How much more serious can I possibly take it?”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“And yet you love me.”

Jeno sighs. “You’re lucky I do.”

“I am.” Jaemin twists a little so he can kiss the tip of Jeno’s nose and then the corner of his mouth. “I really am.”

 

 

“You’ve been gone for six hours,” Renjun complains when Jaemin comes home, Jeno in tow. There’s a half-empty tub of ice cream in front of him on the coffee table and Jaemin smiles. “But you guys are practically glowing, so I guess it went well.”

“I hate to say this but maybe you were right,” Jaemin replies. He feels like he’s glowing too, all warm and soft on the inside, and Jeno presses against him as if they can’t be close enough.

Renjun sighs heavily and fixes Jeno with a stare. “I thought you were smarter than to like Jaemin but I guess not. I’m kidding. I’m happy for you.”

“Thanks,” Jeno says and smiles. “Have you eaten? Jaemin said he’ll make whatever we want.”

Renjun narrows his eyes at Jaemin. “You’re cooking again?”

“Gotta keep my loved ones alive, don’t I?” Jaemin says, holding Jeno close with one arm while reaching for Renjun with the other. Renjun slaps his hand away. “How about I make hot pot?”

“Are you trying to butter me up because you’ll fuck all night?” Renjun asks.

“Oh my God,” Jeno says. “No, we won’t.”

Jaemin looks at him with his best pout. “We won’t?”

“No! You’ve put Renjun through enough already!”

“Finally! Thank you, Jeno, you can stay.”

 

There can’t possibly be anything better than this, Jaemin thinks when they’re sitting in the kitchen a little later. It’s past midnight already but the room smells pleasantly of hot pot and chopped vegetables. Renjun, strong believer and fanatic of the supernatural, and Jeno, sceptic but open-minded, are discussing the possibility of ghosts appearing in this apartment and Jaemin watches them fondly, one hand resting on Jeno’s thigh under the table. This isn’t what Jaemin thought his first relationship would start or feel like, but it’s better, perhaps even the best it could be.

 

 

“I should’ve known you were an obsessive hand holder,” Jaemin says, swinging their intertwined fingers a little bit when Jeno unlocks the door with his free hand and drags them inside. “You can’t live without touching some part of me, huh? It’s almost like nowadays I only have one arm to do things with.”

“I gotta keep your hands busy, so you won’t even think about smoking,” Jeno says sweetly before he sneaks his fingers into Jaemin’s back pocket and takes Jaemin’s pack of cigarettes away from him. “I thought I told you to stop buying these. You’re on withdrawal!”

“Are you going to take all my joy away from me?” Jaemin asks, watching in mild horror how Jeno lets go of him to crumple the pack and throw it away.

Jeno returns and tips Jaemin’s chin up with his index finger. “I am your joy.”

“Are you now?”

“Who else would indulge all of your weird kinks?”

“You like them,” Jaemin drawls. “I think the question should be: who else would love me back?”

Jeno grins, just a flash of teeth and curved eyes. “Certainly not cigarettes. But you’re plenty lovable, Nana.”

“Not as much as you.”

“You guys are so sappy I think I have to hurl,” Hyuck says bitterly from somewhere behind them. When they turn around they find him standing in the entrance to the kitchen, crossed arms and stormy expression. He doesn’t want to kill Jaemin anymore (he really is overly protective, Jaemin had come to find out) but he doesn’t yet love him, either. But that’s okay – there’s only so long that people can resist Jaemin’s charms, or his cooking, and Jaemin’s in this for the long run anyway. He can wait.

“You’re just saying that because you haven’t asked Mark out yet,” Jeno gives back.

“You should hurry up,” Jaemin quips. “He’s getting kinda sad.”

Hyuck groans and grumbles something but Jaemin is already pulling Jeno into his room and shutting the door.

Jeno presses him up against it immediately, caging him with his arms, and kisses him. Jaemin snakes his arms around his tiny waist and tugs the hem of his shirt out of the waistband of his jeans, so that he can pull it over Jeno’s head and throw it aside.

“Are we really going to do this to Hyuck?” Jeno breathes out, pulling away a little to get rid of Jaemin’s shirt, too.

“Why not?” Jaemin asks, already unbuckling Jeno’s belt. “If we’re quiet he won’t know a thing.”

Jeno snorts. “You can never keep quiet.”

“Me?! You’re the one who always gets so damn loud –”

“Because I know you like it!”

“Oh, so you’ve been deceiving me this whole time?”

“You both suck,” says a third voice from the other side of the door. “It’s been one month and I’m already about to strangle both of you, but – because I’m a nice person – I’m leaving. Jeno, you’re taking my dish duty.”

“Sorry, Hyuck,” Jeno calls and they wait with baited breath until they hear the front door fall closed. Jeno fixes Jaemin with a pointed stare. “You’re going to help with dish duty.”

“Fine.” Jaemin tumbles them around until he has Jeno pressed against the door instead, sliding his thigh between Jeno’s legs and hiking it up until Jeno has to stand on his toes to relieve the pressure.

“You try keeping quiet today, babe,” he drawls against Jeno’s mouth, “and see what happens.”

“You’re the worst, Na Jaemin,” Jeno replies and jumps up to lock his legs around Jaemin’s waist. He leans down and licks a stripe over Jaemin’s jugular, wet and hot and terribly filthy, before he reaches Jaemin’s ear and nips at his earlobe. “But you’ll see what noises I can get out of you.”

“You’re on.” Jaemin carries Jeno over to the bed and unceremoniously dumps him on it. Jeno glares at him but only until he pulls Jeno’s jeans and underwear off and Jaemin quickly does the same to his own before joining Jeno again.

“You’re so pretty, Jeno,” Jaemin says, taking a moment to just look at him, stark naked and waiting, feeling a little bit drunk on love. “Have I ever told you how goddamn beautiful you are?”

Jeno looks like he’s about to start purring at the praise. “Only about a hundred times.”

“I’ll tell you a hundred times more.”

“How about you shut up for a moment and kiss me instead?”

So that’s what Jaemin does. Jeno tastes like Haribo gummies when Jaemin sucks on his tongue and Jeno makes a beautiful sound, low and wanton, sliding his hands over Jaemin’s back.

Jaemin loves him so much it’s kind of insane. It’s like he’s saved up all his emotions for him, was waiting to find him and then give him everything. “Are you really sure you like me? As in, like like?”

“Jaeminie,” Jeno says softly. It was meant as a joke but Jaemin doesn’t say anything when Jeno takes Jaemin’s hand and places it on his chest, right over his heart. Like this, Jaemin can feel the speed of his pulse, so fast it’s almost fluttery, and Jeno’s smile is shy when Jaemin looks at him.

“I love you,” Jaemin says, a little breathless. “So much.”

“Less talking, more doing.” Jeno takes Jaemin’s hand from his chest and lifts his to his lips, taking two of Jaemin’s fingers into his mouth. Jaemin nearly chokes on the feeling of Jeno’s tongue against his fingers and Jeno pulls them back out to laugh at him.

“Are you just going to watch and let me do all the work?”

“Why are you in such a rush?” Jaemin noses at Jeno’s throat and breathes in. “You smell so good.”

“I want you,” Jeno says simply. “Now. I’ve been thinking about it all day and you’ve already been so damn slow on the way here so stop sniffing me like a damn dog and fuck me like I deserve to be fucked or otherwise I’ll do it myself.”

Jaemin’s breath stutters, heat jolting through him. “Holy shit, Jeno, that’s one of the hottest things you’ve ever said to me.”

“Oh yeah? Listen to this then.” Jeno smiles and pulls Jaemin closer, so close that his lips are pressed right against the shell of his ear. “I want to feel you properly today, Jaemin, I want to feel it when you come inside me and fill me up. Leave the condom. Can you do that for me?”

Fuck, Jeno, what the fuck –” Jaemin thinks he might be losing his mind with how fast his blood travels south and he feels Jeno’s lips and teeth on his neck, sucking bruises into his skin, and he can’t stop himself from grinding his hips against Jeno’s. “I’ll give you anything you want.”

And so he does. Jeno feels different like this, feels new, but Jaemin loves everything about it, about the way they can’t physically be any closer, about how Jeno cries out his name when they both come, about what Jeno looks like when Jaemin pulls back so he can watch his cum drip out of Jeno, and Jeno smiles at him like he’s the brightest thing in the world.

Jeno curls up against Jaemin’s side once they’ve cooled down, snuggling against him like an oversized cat, and there is something in his eyes that makes Jaemin want to melt but he kisses Jeno instead, slowly, sweetly, even though both of them are on the brink of sleep. Jaemin figures that’s what pure happiness is: having the person you love most in the world fall asleep on you.

They shuffle around a little until Jaemin’s arm is no longer in danger of falling asleep and Jeno can rest his head on Jaemin’s chest without breaking his neck, and then, when Jaemin has almost dozed off, he hears Jeno whisper, “I love you so much, too.”