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In retrospect, he should have gotten a clue when Yunho went stone still next to him at the mention of being too embarrassed to watch Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes grind on each other because they're so hot. Or maybe, and this is the more likely of the two, when Mingi said, "I love Hongjoong" with a smirk in Yunho's direction.

~*~

In the absence of managerial supervision, the kids—by which Hongjoong means the group minus himself and Seonghwa—have one default setting that reads ‘CHAOS REIGNS: ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER’. 

Hongjoongs walks into the practice room to find his group members huddled together in a half-formed semi circle with Yunho at its center, wide eyed and flushed pink, whispering over each other at a low enough volume that he can’t quite make out the words. Seonghwa is lounging along the top of the singular padded bench shoved against the far wall, idly tapping his foot midair in a formless rhythm, so whatever is happening is obviously not worth his attention. Not that Hongjoong blames him, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor and ignorance is bliss when it comes to the 99z line doing ominous things without their hyungs’ input.

Hongjoong decides Seonghwa has the right of it by distancing himself and plops down heavily onto his lap. “Hello, wife. What are the children plotting and should we be afraid?”

“Stop calling me wife,” Seonghwa wheezes back, tries to shove him away but Hongjoong just makes himself go boneless and immovable in retaliation. “And get off my dick, you’re crushing my balls.”

“Is it a divorce you want?” Hongjoong sobs back in a poor imitation of emotional devastation. “I’ve given you the best years of my life and this is how you repay me!”

“Like three of them,” Seonghwa glares at him. “Seriously, Joong-ah, my balls. You’re crushing them. I would like to have actual children someday.”

“Fine.” Hongjoong sighs and shifts away to sit on Seonghwa’s knees instead. His bony, butt hurting knees. “Children though, wow, didn’t realize you and Yeosang were that serious.”

Seonghwa sputters and jams his knees upwards so Hongjoong goes sprawling onto the ground with a whoosh of breath. In the background, the huddled formation disperses with Yunho leading the charge into a round of overexcited stretching and a bizarrely high pitched sounding, “Hyungs! Stop flirting and start stretching!”

“We weren’t flirting, I was just having a discussion with my spouse,” Hongjoong dusts his knees off before turning back to address Seonghwa, curled like a pillbug on the bench to hide his flaming cheeks. “I’ll have you know, in some countries that was considered domestic violence and I could have you arrested.”

Seonghwa just gives him the evil eye and mimes two fingers pointing at him as if to say ‘I’m watching you’ that Hongjoong pretends means ‘I love and appreciate you and will buy you meat after practice’. Hongjoong sends him finger hearts back and dodges the vicious sweep of his hyung’s legs as they take aim for his kneecaps.

“I think maybe this marriage joke has gotten a little out of hand,” San says before dragging Hongjoong away to the center of the room and out of Seonghwa’s irritated reach. “Arms.”

“You guys were literally the ones who started calling us eomma and appa in the first place,” Hongjoong scowls. San lifts his eyebrows, wiggling his fingers until Hongjoong finally gives in and rests his elbows in his dongsaeng’s hands for him to help pull the muscles tight. Seonghwa is usually his warmup buddy but considering the death glares being shot in his direction...probably for the best San stepped in. His right shoulder gives a satisfying ‘pop!’ that makes him groan low in his throat. “Don’t you have a Wooyoung to torture?”

San ignores him in favor of working the other arm until he’s satisfied by Hongjoong’s own cringing and makes him lie flat on his back to help stretch out his bad leg by leaning all of his fuck off heavy weight against the heel. Hongjoong debates kicking him in the nose.

“Oh, you know what?” San mercifully drops his leg back to the ground. Hongjoong heaves a sigh of relief from the release even though his leg does feel a little more loose and a lot less tight around the knee. “You are absolutely right, I do need to talk to Wooyoung about something. Yunho! Come take over for me.”

From his vantage point on the floor, Hongjoong spies Yunho unfolding from bending himself at the waist to press his chest into his thighs. He has to remind himself that noticing the extreme flexibility of his dongsaengs is not Good Hyung™ behavior and tries to black it out of his mind immediately. He's already had the 'oh no they're hot' internal panic at nearly every idol he's met since being accepted into this business, he should have built up an immunity to it by now. He hasn't, not by a long shot, but hope springs eternal. At the very least Yunho is nice to him, even when they’re in the middle of demon stretches, so he lets his eyes go wide and watery and makes upside down grabby hands in Yunho’s direction with a whine.

“Yeah, Yunho! Come save your favorite hyung from San’s evil clutches.”

San pouts at him. “Evil?”

“Hongjoong quit trying to be cute and do your damn stretches,” Seonghwa calls from the other side of the room where he’s doing high kicks in tandem with Yeosang and Mingi, Jongho off to their right fiddling with the sound system and Wooyoung watching himself practice a slow rendition of the Dionysus choreo to their left.

“Bitch,” Hongjoong mutters back, low enough that the sound doesn’t carry since he does still have to sleep in the same room as Seonghwa. Man knows where his underwear lives and has open access to the kitchen full of pepper flakes, Hongjoong isn’t going to jeopardize his testicular wellbeing for a joke. He pats at San’s ankle when San moves out of the way for Yunho to take over. “Sorry, you’re not evil. My thighs just hurt from yesterday’s practice.”

“Which means you’re not stretching enough,” Yunho tells him, wiping the sweat from his brow with the bottom edge of his shirt and flashing Hongjoong a tantalizing strip of muscular torso—that Hongjoong absolutely does not notice or appreciate. "And since when are you my favorite hyung?"

“Rude,” Hongjoong sniffs dramatically and presses his hands over his heart. “I’m everyone’s favorite, you can’t fool me.”

“Not mine,” Seonghwa says. 

“He’s lying,” Hongjoong whispers at Yunho, still a little pink around the ears from earlier and grinning at him. It’s a nice smile. Yunho’s cheeks go all scrunched and adorable and Hongjoong is weirdly proud to be the cause of it. “He loves me deep down in his black heart, signed a prenup and everything.”

Seonghwa lets out a sound of outrage in the background and Hongjoong can just make out the quiet placating, "Now, now," from Yeosang trying to smooth his ruffled feathers. 

“Does that mean we have to choose who to stay with when you two split up?” Yunho muses and presses Hongjoong’s other leg into his sternum. 

Hongjoong grunts from the pressure, an unhappy little ‘ugh’ because his thighs really do burn like a sonofabitch from yesterday. “Probably, but again,” he shoots fingerguns at Yunho, “I’m your favorite so obviously you’d choose me.”

“Would I,” Yunho says cryptically but releases his leg and helps Hongjoong to stand by holding both of his hands, so Yunho’s real choice is obvious. They’ve known each other the longest—compared to Seonghwa—and Yunho did lock himself in a bathroom to cry for an hour last week when Hongjoong played that mean trick and told everyone he was leaving the group to train in Dubai. He thinks there’s a fair shot Yunho would stick with him should the group go tits up. 

Hongjoong reminds himself to buy Yunho something nice as recompense for making him cry.

He’s just about to open his mouth to ask Yunho if there are any new games or movies out that he’d been wanting when Hongjoong realizes—they’re still holding hands.

Objectively, Yunho’s hands are nice. Soft. Long and tapered fingers that look like they belong to a pianist. Huge in a way that’s always made Hongjoong a little jealous and a lot hot under the collar if he thinks about them too long, but—objectively and with no bias attached at all—he has really nice hands. Yunho’s thumbs trace absentminded little circles around his knuckles.

Hongjoong loses track of time in the intensity of Yunho’s gaze and his fingers dragging maddenly across his skin. Yunho takes in a deep breath that inflates his chest, like he's psyching himself up for something.

"Hyung—"

Jongho enthusiastically chimes, “The music is loaded and ready to go. Are we done prepping?” 

“Jongho, read the room!” Wooyoung screeches at him and jumps on their maknae’s back to monkey himself around Jongho’s neck. “Stuff was happening, you turd.”

Jongho takes the added weight with ease, just hooks his arms underneath Wooyoung’s thighs and adjusts his position with a tiny hop. “Oh, sorry, were we doing that right now?”

“Yes,” both San and Mingi yell over each other before highfiving in celebration for sharing a braincell.

Hongjoong blinks at his members groaning in various stages of distress. “Did I miss something? I feel like I missed something.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Yunho slumps a little and removes his hands from his grip. “It’s nothing and we’ve got practice to do.”

“Slavedriver.” 

Hyung.”

The first time it happens, Hongjoong chalks it up to weird celestial happenstance. A freak accident from too much frenetic energy in the dance hall. A slip up from a combination of four hour practice jelly-limbed unsteadiness and Mingi’s penchant for being a huge brat with literally zero spatial awareness.

“Sorry,” Hongjoong apologizes when they separate, lightning quick like ripping off a bandaid. “Oh my god, Yunho, I’m so, so sorry.”

Yunho’s voice is a little shaky when he says, “It’s fine, it's fine. No harm done. Accidents happen.”

Accidents happen is true but it’s not every day Hongjoong gets pushed into Yunho’s personal bubble by Mingi trying to roughhouse with Jongho and ends up awkwardly mouth to mouth. Like, actually mouth to mouth if a little off center. He knows what Yunho’s lips feel like with his own fucking lips. 

Heart beating ten thousands times over its normal rate, Hongjoong laughs too loud and too something while Yunho brushes imaginary dust from his chest and the rest of the group giggle behind their backs. 

“At least it wasn’t a first kiss or anything. That would have been bad.”

Yunho stops flicking at nonexistent lint to glare at him, sudden and heated and dark enough that Hongjoong feels a frisson of fright zip down to the base of his spine like a cornered defenseless animal caught in a predator’s den. “Who else have you been kissing?”

“What?” Hongjoong yelps. “No one!”

Yunho continues to squint at him. “Seonghwa?”

“No!”

~*~

That night, while Seonghwa lets out tiny snores and the sound of two A.M. traffic filters in from the highway, Hongjoong stares at the ceiling of his dorm room and lets his brain wander.

The thing is, accident or coincidence or divine intervention or not, something about the timing of the kiss was suspicious. He’d been in the middle of pulling Yunho aside to ask him, again, if there was anything new coming out he’d been wanting to play or read or watch when Mingi had yelled something loud and taken a running leap at Jongho. His jump had gone wide—too wide—and he’d bumped into Hongjoong’s back hard enough to send him stumbling into Yunho, who had bent a little lower to better hear him over the sound of the group members being absolute heathens, and—

Hongjoong really, really hates that he knows what Yunho’s mouth feels like and what his fresh from a too long practice skin tastes like now. 

Still, the timing! The timing was so calculatingly perfect Hongjoong is fairly convinced it was on purpose and he thinks he knows why: the younger three fourths of the group have a secret prank book and it’s his turn to bear the brunt of their attacks.

He glares at the ceiling, idea slowly starting to form.

He’s going to find whoever has the book, steal it, and burn it in front of the other members as a power play not to be messed with again.

~*~

Hongjoong, so distracted with his plotting, doesn't realize he's been idly tracing the contours of his mouth where Yunho's lips had touched for the better part of an hour.

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

wooyoung: icb that worked you're a genius mingi

mingi: ty i know

yeosang: and so humble

mingi: uwu

yeosang: i meant to ask why seonghwa isn't in on this chat? wouldn't he be helpful??

san: because hongjoong is nosy af and is always looking through seonghwa's phone for blackmail material

yeosang: really...

san: anyway.
san: Yunho how you holding up buddy

yunho: [NO THOUGHTS HEAD EMPTY]

mingi: are u sure abt that

yunho: no you’re right his lips are so soft n smooth 10/10 A+ would kiss again

jongho: STOP
jongho: NO
jongho: TOO MUCH
jongho: TMI DO NOT CONTINUE

wooyoung: lol poor baby maknae we love you

jongho: shut

yeosang: what's the next step? did we ever decide or

san: after the mullet chop if bitchboy can find his balls

yunho: thanks san. really. truly.

san: np 

~*~

A new comeback means new style concepts, which means Hongjoong has to say goodbye to his mullet and he’s a little sad about it. There is some consolation to be had knowing he’s going back to the same red color as his stint on Mixnine so it’s not going to be a totally different change, but still. He was starting to be kind of proud of the length he managed to grow.

The rest of the group…

Seonghwa has apparently decided to turn the whole haircut into a ceremonial affair, scissors in one hand and dramatic music playing in the background, with Jongho and Yeosang joining in with their own pair of scissors held aloft and humming off-key. Wooyoung and Mingi are both at their own appointments, so San has his phone held steady to catch the dramatic moment. Hongjoong isn’t so sure the video is going to be worth a damn considering San keeps giggling so hard his shoulders shake every two seconds.

“I hate all of you,” Hongjoong pouts. “You know who liked the mullet? The fans liked and appreciated the mullet, be more like them.”

“Are you saying you hate me too?” Yunho gives him his best scrunched eyebrow, sad puppy expression and tightens the grip he’s got on Hongjoong’s fingers.

When Seonghwa had called him into the kitchen that morning, Hongjoong expected to find a mess he’d forgotten to clean up or his erstwhile nemesis finally cooking him breakfast for once. What he hadn’t expected was most of his darling members staring at him with maniacal grins in place. Hongjoong had rightfully tried to back out and away but had been blocked by Yunho—sweet and precious Yunho who has never done anything wrong ever in his life—grabbing his hands to hold him in place.

Hongjoong glares at their intertwined fingers now, angry at himself for giving in so easily. Since when has Yunho had this much power over him? 

“Hyung!” Yunho whines at him.

He snaps back into reality. “Huh, what? Sorry, I spaced out.”

Yunho’s lips wobble. Hongjoong feels a muscle under his eye spasm with them, fuck. “I asked if you hate me too.”

“Oh,” Hongjoong squeezes their fingers tighter together. It still trips him out how large and warm and delicate Yunho’s hands are in comparison to his own. “Of course not.”

“Good,” Yunho smiles brightly. “Stay still so they can cut that horrible shag carpet off your neck.”

“Shag carpet!” Hongjoong yells. He’s just about to deliver a swift knee to Yunho’s, well, not his balls because Hongjoong is a gentleman, but some other tender body part when Yunho giggles—giggles! Adorable! Fuck you, Jeong Yunho!—and leans in to peck a kiss against his cheek at the same moment Seonghwa cheers for the first cut of hair falling to the ground.

“Did we get that on camera?” Seonghwa asks.

“We sure did, hyung.” San smirks behind his phone, pointed in Hongjoong and Yunho’s direction. Hongjoong feels his cheeks go hot. “That’ll be the one to show the kids one day.”

Seonghwa stomps his foot while Jongho takes his turn for the next snip. “I keep telling you, we’re not actually married and I’m not going to have children with Hongjoong.”

~*~

His first attempt at finding the book of Hongjoong-specific-torture yields little to no results. He corners Mingi to begin with since he’s the easiest to bully and fastest to spill the beans, but Mingi pleads innocence.

Hongjoong leans his weight on his palms against the wall on either side of Mingi’s neck, a somewhat uncomfortable position to be in but sacrifices must be made in pursuit of effective intimidation tactics. “Where’s the prank book, Mingi? I know someone has it, cough it up.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, hyung-nim,” Mingi flutters his lashes down at him. “No one has been to a bookstore in ages and prank books are for babies.”

“Right,” Hongjoong pauses. “So Jongho or Wooyoung has it.”

Mingi fidgets, a nervous habit, and presses his lips together into a thin line. Hongjoong thinks ‘gotcha’. He raises his brows until Mingi heaves a breath, eyes raised towards the ceiling so he doesn’t have to make eye contact for this confession. 

“If anything like a prank book existed in the dorm, which it doesn’t so you didn’t hear this from me, but,” Mingi glances left down the empty dorm hallway and then leans to the right, probably to make sure no one is around to eavesdrop on his squealing. “Jongho and Wooyoung have been kind of sneaky lately.”

Hongjoong pats Mingi’s shoulders for a job well done. “Thank you,” he says with utmost sincerity, “When the purge hits, I’ll save you first.”

“Please stop talking about the purge, that’s really fucking scary.”

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

yunho: HANDS AND RED HAIR
yunho: RED???
yunho: RED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RED HAIR

san: uhoh i think hyung might have finally broken him down
san: yeosang when you get this start planning the funeral we've lost yunho he's a goner

yunho: HANDS HDAND HANDS TINY FINGERS HANDS HIS CHEEKS
yunho: SAN
yunho: S A N

san: yep he broke broke

yunho: YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND HIS HANDS ARE SO CUTE
yunho: HE'S SO CUTE
yunho: I'M GOING TO DIE
yunho: cute/hot excuse me

san: dude.

jongho: wtf is this what is happening

wooyoung: ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

mingi: MAYDAY HONGJOONG THINKS THERE’S A PRANK BOOK
mingi: also mightve told him to grill jongho and wooyoung about it good luck guys

jongho: WHAT

wooyoung: WAT

yunho: BUT HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT HONGJOONG'S HANDS

san: YUNHO FFS
san: PRIORITIES!!!

~*~

Saturday night is family togetherness slash movie night and everyone is vibrating with the excitement of new hair colors and the announcement of their next round of schedules. Hongjoong himself though; he’s fucking tired and his scalp still sort of itches from the bleach and all he wants to do is take a fourteen hour nap. 

On the loveseat, Mingi is cuddled in tight on one side while Wooyoung is lounging against him on the other, head resting on his shoulder and scrolling through their twitter mentions none of them are allowed to know about. Hongjoong watches him take particular delight in a thread about his nose and mouth, even goes so far as to like a few of the most, ah, interesting replies on a private account none of them are supposed to have. Wooyoung adds his own two cents to the cascading replies before closing out the app.

“Not sure that’s the best idea to poke the beast like that, Wooyoung-ie,” Hongjoong pokes his cheek with a knuckle. “What are you going to do when they find your account and see all the posts you like about yourself, you little narcissist?”

“We regularly tell our fans we don’t have phones,” Wooyoung snorts. “It’s fine, hyung.” Hongjoong lets his eyes droop is disbelief. “And I’m not a narcissist, I just like to participate in the discourse.”

Hongjoong flashes back to the latest practice where Wooyoung stood off to the side watching the flow of his movements a little too closely for a little too long and making indecent expressions at himself.

“Mhm, yep, really believe that one.” 

Mingi laughs, his chest vibrates the entire length of Hongjoong’s left arm.

Yunho is the last out of the showers, having given his spot to Jongho so the maknae could get clean and go to sleep. Their maknae had run himself ragged in the last few days and it was finally starting to catch up to him—barely managing to stay upright on the walk up to their dorm.

Yunho takes one look at the three of them on the loveseat and frowns, lips tugged downward in a moue of intense displeasure, before stomping his way to stand in front of them with his hands on his hips. “Mingi.”

Hongjoong feels Mingi’s chin dig into his shoulder. “Yunho.”

Yunho grumpily pushes at his side with a foot and grunts, “Go away, it’s my turn with the emotional support leader.”

“You got to sit with him last week!” Mingi shifts just enough to hook his legs over Hongjoong’s thighs. “Learn to share.”

“What is happening,” Hongjoong asks, amused at their antics even though he should be used to their particular brand of dumbassery at this point. “Literally what are you two chucklefucks doing right now?”

“Fighting over who gets hyung privileges obviously,” Wooyoung sighs heavily and lifts his head from Hongjoong’s shoulder with a low noise of pain when his neck cracks ominously. He gives Hongjoong’s thigh a bracing pat for strength. “I’m just going to take that as my cue to leave. Have fun dealing with them,” Wooyoung gives him a jaunty wave before walking the three feet to the couch where San, Yeosang, and Seonghwa are in deep discussion to plop himself into San’s lap with a giggle.

“Traitor,” Hongjoong calls after him. Wooyoung blows him a kiss that San snatches out of the air and pretends to gobble up immediately. Hongjoong crinkles his nose at the pair of them, fucking gross. He’s not going to let himself be that disgusting when he’s in love...lust...whatever it is those two are doing.

Yunho slides into Wooyoung’s empty seat and wedges an arm behind his back so he can better wrap them around Hongjoong’s waist. It’s nice—warm and weighty in the best way—and Hongjoong lets himself snuggle into Yunho’s chest just far enough that his head rests beneath his dongsaeng’s chin, the perfect height for him to lean back against Yunho’s shoulder without his neck hurting. 

“This doesn’t feel like sharing,” Mingi comments, dry as the desert.

“You have his legs,” Yunho offers in a tone that brooks no argument. “Go get us a blanket so we can start the movie.”

You go get a blanket, I was here first.”

“Mingi, just go and come back,” Hongjoong yawns, presses further into Yunho’s collarbones. “‘M tired. Be nice to your hyung.”

“Favoritism!” Mingi sniffs at them, but deigns to get up and yank the nicest throw blanket they have out from under Yeosang’s butt to fan it across their legs instead. 

Hongjoong has no idea what movie is playing or even what it’s about other than it is a Movie Film for Television and probably has a long list of characters played by a longer list of actors and stunt doubles. He hides a yawn in Yunho’s shirt. His soft, soft shirt that smells like shaving cream and Wooyoung’s minty body wash. 

“Wooyoung is going to murder you if you used the last of his fancy body wash,” Hongjoong slurs quietly, just barely above a whisper.

Yunho hushes him with an equally quiet ‘shh’ and runs his fingers across his scalp, still hyperfocused on whatever may or may not be happening on screen. Between one slow blink and the next—the slow drag of Yunho’s fingers against his skin and the fall of his hair gently floating back in place—Hongjoong loses all sense of reality and drops fast into dreamland.

He wakes up some nebulous amount of time later to Yunho and San carrying him into their room.

“You sure there’s going to be enough space for you two?” He hears San whisper.

“Hyung doesn’t take up much room, it’s fine,” Yunho answers. “Not like it’s the first time we’ve shared my bed.”

“Yeah, but the last time you weren’t—”

“Shh!”

“Coward,” San sighs at him just as they shuffle Hongjoong into Yunho’s cramped dorm bunk. “If I wake up to a bunch of suspicious noises though, I’m going to blackmail you forever.”

“Shut up! Jesus,” Yunho gripes. “He is right there. Do you want me to get caught?”

“Is...is that not what we’ve been trying to plan for the last two weeks? Yunho. Bro.” Hongjoong barely peeks one eye open to catch San shaking Yunho by his shoulders. “Nut the fuck up.”

Yunho just bats the hands away and backs up to sit next to him on the bed. Hongjoong slams his eye back shut and feigns sleep. “I’m working on it.”

“Well work harder.”

Hongjoong listens to San’s footsteps crossing the room and the soft click of the door shutting when he exits. He overhears Yunho blow out a breath before shifting his body beneath the comforter and into Hongjoong’s space, pulls their bodies flush—in the interest of not falling off the bed. Nothing more. 

Hongjoong keeps his eyes shut, heavy fog of sleep helping them to stay that way this time, and reaches his arms up to curl around Yunho’s torso in return. He feels like he’s missing something. Something Big, but those thoughts are for tomorrow. 

For now, sleep.

~*~

Yunho is still softly snoring when Hongjoong wakes up the next morning. As nice as the cuddle session is, he does his best to gently extricate himself from Yunho’s hold around his waist because:

a.) his bladder is screaming bloody murder
b.) his stomach is screaming louder for food and they have a new box of cereal in the pantry Hongjoong has been eyeing since the grocery run two days ago. 

Hongjoong yawns his way to the bathroom for his morning ablutions and yawns his way back towards the kitchen. He gives the cabinet the muzzy-eyed stare of the eternally exhausted and zombie walks his way on stiff legs to the fridge for the milk, the brand Jongho prefers because they’re all terrible pushovers and love him the most.

Hongjoong clenches his eyes shut against the glare of the refrigerator light. He’s so distracted, he doesn’t even register the sound of feet approaching until someone is right behind him, fingers digging into his sides and a soft, “Boo” falling from their lips.

It backfires spectacularly for everyone involved.

Instead of yelling, Hongjoong jerks his head to the side and ends up sliding his mouth against Yunho’s own, staring at him wide-eyed and shocked behind him with his fingers still digging in little pinpricks against his hips. His lips are a little chapped.

As soon as the thought hits, Hongjoong shifts away to blurt in panic, “I forgot to brush my teeth, sorry.”

Yunho looks dazed. He clears his throat a few times before it takes and replies, “It’s fine. Sorry, I—I’m gonna go wake San up before he sleeps through his snooze alarm again.”

“Right,” Hongjoong bites back hysterical laughter. “Good—good plan.”

“Great plan!” Yunho squeaks back and makes a hasty retreat down the hallway to his own room.

Hongjoong watches him leave, watches the subtle sway of Yunho’s hips and slams his head into the fridge door to forget he noticed.

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

san: i want you all to know yunho has been screaming into a pillow for like ten minutes now
san: idk what happened 

yeosang: it is...7 am....what is there to scream about

mingi: spiderman fanfic???

san: sick

jongho: which one

san: SICK

mingi: the fanfic? i sent one to you last night!

san: not that
san: that story was awesome
san: i mean yunho finally looked up from his scream fest
san: tears in his eyes
san: and told me he kissed hongjoong

mingi: OH SHIT

yeosang: GET IT YUNHO I'M SO PROUD OF YOU

jongho: does that mean i can stop hiding my phone from hongjoong hyung i hate lying to him

san: no

jongho: WHY

san: it was an accident

mingi: ...

yeosang: ...

wooyoung: i just got here but
wooyoung: ...

yunho: WE SNUGGLED ALL NIGHT AND THEN WE KISSED AGAIN THIS MORNGINDJGHK
yunho: JFSKHSFHS I LOVE LIFE

san: ..........you accidentally hit his mouth with your mouth

yunho: nevermind i hate everything

~*~

Confronting Jongho takes less effort than when he stopped Mingi in a hallway and considerably less affectations of a mob shakedown. All Hongjoong had to do was call Jongho into his little creator’s nook to the side of the practice hall and steeple his fingers against his mouth like he’s about to get their maknae in trouble. He’s not actually in trouble—not with KQ management anyway, jury’s still out on whether or not he’ll be allowed in Hongjoong’s good books for the foreseeable future—but Jongho takes one look at his pursed mouth gaze and sings like a canary.

“There isn’t a prank book, hyung,” Jongho sighs tiredly with his fingers pinching the bridge of his nose. “I don’t know where you got this idea from but get it out of your head. None of us actually get together to plan how best to mentally scar you for life.”

Hongjoong crosses his arms and spins around once in his chair. “Well, I know you guys are plotting something . Mingi said—”

“Mingi is an idiot,” Jongho interjects.

“Hey now, be that as it may, Mingi is still your hyung,” Hongjoong playfully pats at Jongho’s thigh on another spin of his chair. “Respect your elders, child.”

“I’m not a child,” Jongho mutters darkly under his breath. “Point still stands, he’s an idiot and can’t be trusted.”

“You’ll always be a baby to me,” Hongjoong coos, reaches up to pinch Jongho’s cheek, babyfat still clinging stubbornly to Jongho’s face in a way that he hopes never leaves. Even when the group is old and disbanded and geriatric, Jongho will be their collective child to fawn over and spoil. He's the maknae for life. “Jongho-yah, what are the other guys trying to prank me with next?”

“Not a clue,” Jongho says with absolute sincerity. “But I can promise you a prank book does not exist in the dorm.”

“We’ll see.” Hongjoong taps at his laptop, music program queued up with his latest fuck around of drum beats and autotuned flutes. “Can you at least maybe hint to them to shift some of the pranks to Seonghwa? He should get a turn to be the butt of your jokes, cut me some slack.”

“Hyung.” Jongho deadpans.

“Right, right, anyway,” he pulls Jongho closer by the front seam of his jeans and hits play on the ‘song’. “I need your opinion on if I should show this to Eden-sunbaenim or not.”

~*~

Wooyoung is harder to pin down. He’s a squirrelly one, always managing to hide behind a manager or a stylist or any number of background film crew when Hongjoong can actually track him down. He’ll run away to hide behind San—read: makeout with in inappropriate spaces—or pretend he needs to speak to Yeosang about a very important trip to see family.

Hongjoong knows Wooyoung knows about his campaign to thwart whatever shitty prank the kids are plotting, no doubt Mingi squealed as soon as he was done speaking to him in the hallway not so long ago. Eventually Hongjoong has to play dirtypool and follow him into a bathroom.

“About the book—”

“Hyung! I am trying to piss,” Wooyoung shoots him a scandalized expression from his stance in front of a urinal. “My dick is literally out right now. Can this wait?”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to look at your dick,” Hongjoong grimaces back. Gross. Super gross. That’s San territory and he wants nothing to do with it. “And no it can’t. Where’s the book you guys are trying to embarrass me with? I have a burning need to set it on fire.”

“You’re crazy,” Wooyoung hisses back. “No one keeps journals around to write out their plans anymore, especially since we have cellphones and texting.”

“Texting!” Phones! Of course, if it’s not in a book then they’re definitely coordinating plans over kakaotalk or something. Then again, that's exactly what he'd expect someone trying to hide their nefarious plans from him would say to throw him off. Maybe he's covering for Yeosang.

“Oh god,” Wooyoung thunks his head into the bathroom wall. “Forget I said that.”

“You’re a good man Charlie Brown,” Hongjoong gives him a bracing pat on the back. “In the purge—”

“Fuck’s sake hyung, we told you to stop mentioning the purge.”

“In the purge,” Hongjoong ignores him and continues, “I’ll save you second.”

Wooyoung glances back at him. “Who’s first?”

“I promised Mingi first dibs.” Hongjoong leans close, Wooyoung shifts his hips to the side like Hongjoong is going to actually look at his goddamn dick which is, again, not his territory. “But between you and me, Mingi would probably be the first one to go, I’m really saving Yunho.”

Wooyoung snorts. “Figures.” He shoves an elbow into Hongjoong's stomach. "Please go away so I can pee."

Hongjoong backs away and out of the room with a 'pew pew' of fingerguns and a wink. 

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

wooyoung: hongjoong said he'd save yunho first in the purge
wooyoung: so you know
wooyoung: maybe you have an in already buddy
wooyoung: also he's still convinced we're trying to prank him

mingi: WHAT THE FUCK HE SAID HE'D SAVE ME FIRST

wooyoung: @yunho your mans a liar

yunho: ...m....m y...my mANS 😳

yeosang: gross
yeosang: maybe we should actually come up with a prank so we have plausible deniability 
yeosang: instead of trying to find ways for yunho to confess/kiss him

san: i'm on it

yunho: i love kim hongjoong

mingi: moving a little fast for someone that's not even dating him yet

yunho: fine
yunho: i hard L-word kim hongjoong

jongho: that's not any better

~*~

Despite what anyone says to the contrary, writing music is hard. Composing is hard . Trying to get the music he hears in his head down onto paper or into the programs on his laptop is the fucking worst and it seems like today is an exercise in futility. Every note he can hear in his brain turns into dissonant noise when he attempts to string them together.

At noon, he gives up, slings his headphones off his ears and stomps his way out of the studio KQ had given him—at Eden’s request after witnessing him compose in a closet and their work van. It’s not a very big studio, only large enough for a small desk and even smaller minifridge that can hold three drinks max, but it’s his and Hongjoong loves it. 

Usually.

Usually he loves it. Right now all he wants to do is pour lighter fuel everywhere and strike a match so he can stop looking at his laptop full of failed musical attempts and bad rap lyrics.

It’s a rare day off from schedules, so he’s not expecting anyone to be home when he gets back, but Yunho is stretched out on the couch with his phone held above his head playing something loud with a lot of chiming. Hongjoong blearily squints at him, eyes tired from glaring at his computer screen, before deciding hey, free real estate.

“Um,” Yunho says when Hongjoong flops himself on top of his chest and wedges his head underneath Yunho’s chin. “Hello?”

“Hi,” Hongjoong breathes into his chest. Yunho is warm, he always seems to run a few degrees hotter than anyone else. Hongjoong wiggles his fingers down and under his dongsaeng’s back for a better chance at not being dumped off the couch. “Salutations, nice to meet you, good to see you, missed you lots. I’m taking a nap, good night.” 

Yunho snorts but doesn’t make like he’s going to push him off and away. Point to me, Hongjoong thinks with a grin. Yunho accepts his weight and his squirming, only adjusts his head against the back of the couch when Hongjoong finally decides he’s found his perfect napping position. 

“I swear, you’re like a cat.”

Hongjoong mumbles a little meow, snickers when Yunho slaps the back of his neck in reprimand—not hard, but sharp enough to make an echo from the emptiness of the dorm. Yunho soothes the would-be sting with his palm anyway.

“Hyung, is everything okay? You’re not usually this clingy.” Hongjoong makes what he thinks is a close approximation to a sad, dying whale in response. “Wanna talk about it?”

“Not really,” Hongjoong closes his eyes so he doesn’t have to witness Yunho’s eyes going dewy and hurt at him. “Just...music stuff. I can’t get my brain and my fingers to cooperate and I am so close to committing arson in the studio.” He huffs in irritation and embraces his inner caveman. “Fire good.”

“Fire bad,” Yunho laughs at him, rubs deeply soothing circles into his back to help him relax. “But alright. You know you can talk to me if you need to, right?”

“Yeah, I know.” And he does know, has known ever since Yunho signed on to the company and it was just the pair of them against the world and their own insecurities about debut for a while. As much as he loves the other members—which is a lot and some days he’s bowled over by how much he wants the best for each of them, how much he wants to be a leader they can depend on through the good times and bad—Hongjoong sometimes misses the nostalgia bomb of their yesteryears like a limb. “You can go back to playing your game now.”

“You sure?”

“Mmm. I’m really tired, I’ll probably fall asleep in two seconds anyway.” He admits. Seonghwa calls him the Narcoleptic Prince for a reason. 

“Okay,” Hongjoong feels Yunho hook a leg up and over the back of one thigh to keep him from rolling off the couch and knocks down the volume of his phone. “I’ll wake you up in an hour-ish so your sleep schedule doesn’t get screwed over.”

“Yunho,” Hongjoong slurs, half asleep already and hazy with it. “Have I ever told you how much I love you?”

He can feel the hitch in Yunho’s chest when he stops breathing for a long second before resuming, a tad faster than before and Hongjoong kind of wishes he was centered over his heart so he could listen to his heartbeat instead. “Y-you, um—not lately.”

“‘S a lot,” he yawns, eyelids heavy heavy heavy and the edge of sleep so close he can taste dreamland. “A lot, a lot. Love you the most, don’t tell Seonghwa.”

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

yunho: no one is home but someone pls PLS COME HOME RN

san: why what's wrong what happened are you okay?

yunho: HYUNG FELL ASLEEP ON ME I'M GOING TO DO SOMETHING STUPID
yunho: SAVE ME BEFORE I DO THE STUPID THING

san: ...

wooyoung: god i thought someone was dying

yunho: ME

san: what stupid thing are you about to do?

yunho: kiss his face or something idk
yunho: he had a rough day at the studio ):
yunho: poor baby

jongho: please don't call hyung a baby i will cry

mingi: bc youre babie?????

jongho: NO

yunho: HEY BACK TO ME AND MY KISS PROBLEM??? SOMEONE COME HOME AND STOP ME???????

yeosang: do it coward 

~*~

Their first win is a surprise to everyone and Hongjoong spends an inordinate amount of time clinging to Seonghwa’s shoulders sobbing his eyes out before he gets passed around to the other members so Seonghwa can wipe his own face on Yeosang’s hoodie. In his wildest dreams, even the ones where he’s sharing the stage with Zico and G-Dragon and a full stage of scantily clad backup dancers, Hongjoong has never imagined holding an award in his hands so soon into their idol career. It hasn’t been a year yet.

He can’t stop shaking, teeth chattering every time he tries to tell the boys how proud he is of them and everything they’ve accomplished so it comes out near nonsensical.

“Hyung, I love you and this is amazing,” Mingi pats him on the back while Hongjoong rubs tears and makeup into his neck. “But please go wipe your snot on someone else, they need to get my mic setup removed.”

Mingi passes him bodily to Wooyoung who cries with him for a few minutes before shoving him into Yunho’s chest with a sniffled, “I have to go hug Yeosang before Seonghwa drags him off.”

Yunho has also been doling out hugs, weeping about as much as Hongjoong himself, and encircles Hongjoong into his grasp tight like he’s afraid Hongjoong is going to slip away. 

“Hyung-ah—”

“I know, I know, and I’m so proud of you,” Hongjoong sniffs and reaches up to cup Yunho’s face in his hands, thumbs sweeping away the worst of the tear tracks. “We did it, Yunho, we made it just like you said we would.”

Back when it was just the two of them making their own routines in an empty dorm and an equally empty practice room populated by their soon to be managers and two choreographers, he and Yunho would stay up late splitting secret cartons of low sugar content ice cream. They used to sit and laugh about the things they’d done before joining the company, shared their anxieties about being put in the nugu dungeon.

“We’re going to be so awesome, hyung,” Yunho told him and had shoved a spoonful of ‘might be strawberry but mostly it’s just tasteless fruit’ ice cream into Hongjoong’s mouth to make him stop panicking about failure. “We’re going to make it in this industry and we’re going to win so many awards they’ll have to build a whole extra wing to the main office to hold all of them.”

“Who are you? Nostradomus?” Hongjoong cried back then, too. “Fuck off.”

Yunho keeps his arms around Hongjoong’s shoulders and leads them behind a partition to conceal their terrible, awful, no good drooling sob party.

“Hongjoong-hyung,” Yunho starts, he stops and visibly gulps against a knot in his throat. “I wanted to say I—”

“Ten minutes to meet and greet!” One of their assistants yell over the high level noise of backstage chaos.

Yunho deflates with a deep sigh, probably disappointed he couldn’t give his own congratulations. Hongjoong wipes a cheek clean, and leans in to place an affectionate kiss to Yunho’s skin while they still have time to themselves.

Predictably, because the universe has some kind of homosexual agenda, someone knocks into the partition and Yunho’s back hard enough that he stumbles, and instead of pressing a smeck to Yunho’s cheek, Hongjoong lands a fat wet kiss to his mouth.

His.

Mouth.

Which is still pillow soft, though swollen from Yunho biting his lips to keep his crying in check, and the heart shaped cupid’s bow fits almost perfectly against his own. Fuck.

He breaks away with a cough to hide the horrible mortifying embarrassment of kissing his dongsaeng—by accident!—for the third heart stopping time. “Sorry, I—”

“Hongjoong—” Yunho says at the same time.

“Eight minutes! Artists, please start lining up!” 

They both flinch at the sound of the assistant’s voice. Hongjoong wipes his mouth on the back of his hand, for some reason now tingling and he wonders if Yunho’s been dabbling in those plumping stains their dedicated makeup noonas have been gossiping about. 

“Come on, let’s go greet the masses,” Hongjoong gives him a manly punch in the shoulder and speed walks his way to the rest of the group. He can only hope Yunho will forgive him for the constant accidental lip touching.

And that all the blood in his face makes its way back into his suddenly numb fingers and toes. 

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

wooyoung: yunho! did you finally do it? did you confess?

yunho: i did not no

wooyoung: then
wooyoung: why have you been floating around the dorm for the last two days??????

yunho: a man doesn't kiss and tell uwu

san: hongjoong probably did something lame like smile at him

mingi: or breathed in his general direction

jongho: or existed

yunho: all of you are bitches
yunho: and i refuse to save you from the purge

yeosang: oh no not you too

~*~

Hongjoong wakes up with his right eye glued shut and murder in his veins. 

“Explain to me again why I have pink eye?”

San toes bashful little half circles into the hard linoleum floor. “So,” he drags out. “Remember last week when we played that fart prank on you and tried to make your pillow stink?”

Hongjoong sighs, pinches the bridge of his nose to keep the anger in check since he knows this was just...all in good fun or whatever. “Why do I put up with you people?”

“Because you love us,” San quips.

“No,” Hongjoong gazes into the middle distance with his one good eye. “No, I don’t think that’s it.”

San and Wooyoung both try their hardest to be extra nice to him for the next few days, more than likely the result of their shared guilty conscience and Hongjoong makes sure to take full advantage. Feet hurting from breaking in new shoes? Wooyoung gets foot massage duty. Too tired to get up to grab a drink from the kitchen? A snap of his fingers and San is there with a glass and a straw.

Lording this power over them is nice for a while, up until practice and fansigns and performances line up and Hongjoong has to relearn his choreography with his depth perception all wonky and his usual visual clues hidden from one side. More than once during practice he trips over Mingi or Seonghwa, twice on his own feet just from being so off balance, and almost falls on his ass if not for Jongho catching him under his armpits with a grunt and an affected, “Hyung, watch out.”

He hates it.

He’s forgiven San and Wooyoung, but he really fucking hates the eyepatch.

As much as he dislikes it, he asks Yunho to stay back to help him figure out his routines without having to worry about running into someone else and injuring them too.

“Sorry, I know spending extra time at practice isn’t your favorite thing,” Hongjoong pants into his knees, sweat dripping off his nose onto the floor. “I’ll buy you that new Spiderman game you’ve been talking about for putting up with me.”

“I’m not ‘putting up with you’, it’s fine,” Yunho finger quotes at him before passing him a chilled bottle of water and bopping him gently on his head. “I’m not going to say no to a free game though. The special edition comes with a figurine.”

“I bet.” Hongjoong gulps down half the bottle in one go, luxuriates in the condensation dripping along his neck when he holds the bottle against himself. “But doesn’t it kinda suck to stay after like this?”

“Not really. Not to me.” Hongjoong wishes he had both eyes to take in Yunho’s expression when he cups his chin in one hand to continue in a voice pitched low and growling, “Not if it’s you.”

Hongjoong gapes back, speechless and overwhelmed, before squishing his hands—and the half empty water bottle, oops—in Yunho’s face to feel him giggle against his palms. “Don’t be gross.”

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

yeosang: PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY DID NOT MEAN GIVING HYUNG PINK EYE SAN

san: listen
san: we were under a time constraint?

yunho: is it bad that i think he looks 10000000x cuter with the eyepatch?

yeosang: Y E S

yunho: noted, have a nice day

~*~

Speaking of terrible depth perception and bumping into things he would ordinarily avoid: Hongjoong is on his way out the door for another doctor’s appointment to get his eye checked out when he turns a corner in the living room—where Yunho is playing a solo game of Super Smash Bros. while Mingi makes unenthused commentary in the background—and runs smack dab into Yeosang toting his laundry basket back to his room. Somehow, and Hongjoong will be hard pressed to remember exactly how it happened, he ends up stumbling backward until he trips over Yunho’s crossed legs and into his lap.

“Oh! Hyung, are you alright?” Yeosang asks worriedly with the laundry basket perched awkwardly on his hip. “That must have hurt.”

“Only my pride,” Hongjoong winces at a sore ache in his ass from landing on Yunho’s bony fucking legs. 

For his part, Yunho throws his controller to the side to gasp overdramatically. “A damsel!”

Hongjoong glares at him. “I’m a man.”

“A damsel in distress,” Yunho continues, ignoring his protests to hook his arms behind Hongjoong’s knees and his upper back. He stands in one fluid motion, Yeosang claps. “Don’t worry, I’ll carry you to safety!”

“Yunho, stop!”

The peanut gallery on the couch—re: Mingi—drawls, “Aren’t damsels usually saved by true love’s kiss?”

Yunho gasps, still overdramatic, while Hongjoong tries in vain to wiggle his way to freedom. Yunho’s fingers tighten in retaliation and...oh. Oh that’s kinda—that’s kinda nice actually to be lifted up and carried around like he weighs nothing. Hongjoong files that thought away for later. 

“You’re absolutely right. Hyung, pucker up.”

“No!” Hongjoong denies but Yunho only smirks in return and leans into his space. Feeling a little humiliated and embarrassed and maybe a little bit excited by the prospect of feeling Yunho’s soft mouth again, he closes his eyes—his good eye—and scrunches his nose like he’s bracing himself for a horrible blow.

Yunho smacks a tiny peck to the tip of his nose and starts howling laughter.

“Your face, oh my god, you really thought I was going to do it.”

“Shut up,” Hongjoong scowls back. Yunho is still sort of too close for comfort, mostly for his heart and his traitorous blood pressure. “Put me down.”

Yunho smiles at him. Fucker. Hongjoong purses his mouth to hide the answering grin threatening to take over his face like Yunho really does have a contagious happy virus. “I guess I—”

Yunho’s eyes are wide. Hongjoong knows because they’re suddenly much closer than before and hey—would you look at that—his mouth is just as soft as it has been every other time the powers that be decided they needed to make a love connection out of nowhere. Hongjoong lets himself enjoy it for half a second longer than he really should before extricating his lips from Yunho’s.

Yunho puts him down with a quiet wheeze of breath and his cheeks going nearly crimson.

“Oops,” Mingi says in extreme monotone as Yeosang crouches down to keep from falling over due to his raucous laughter. “My bad.”

“Song Mingi,” Hongjoong seethes at him, suddenly standing close enough to touch instead of his perch on the couch. “That was on purpose, you dickwad!”

“Was it?” Mingi poses with one leg propped high against a wall. “My legs are just so long, I can’t help it if I trip over them sometimes. I’m so clumsy, hyung-ah.”

Hongjoong narrows his eyes. “Was that a dig at my height?”

“Hyung!” Mingi holds a palm over his heart in a parody of shock. “I would never.”

~*~

Now that he has proof there’s some kind of dorm-wide conspiracy, Hongjoong is more motivated than ever to find the book or journal or trapper keeper full of the kids’ prank plans so he can set it aflame. He assumes San has it now considering Wooyoung disabused himself of all wrongdoing however long ago and the fact Hongjoong has a gross eye infection he’s still recovering from thanks to San’s disgusting pillow stink incident.

Some time after lights out, he’s creeping up to San and Yunho’s door with a scarf tied under his nose like a thief in the night when he overhears:

“You know you have my full support, Yunho.”

There’s a sigh, a deep gust of wind Hongjoong thinks he can almost physically feel. “What if none of this works?” Yunho’s voice.

What are they talking about? ‘This’ what? Pranks?

There’s a low rustling sound, like maybe San is turning over in his bunk to better stare down at Yunho’s face. Or turning over to face Yunho because they’re sharing his tiny little bed again.

Hongjoong feels his stomach curdle the slightest bit at the thought and—hey what the fuck, why?

“He’ll get a clue eventually,” San says comfortingly.

Hongjoong backs away from the room, unwilling to hear any more of whatever conversation they’re having behind closed doors, and wonders what exactly he’s missing.

And who ‘he’ is.

And why the mention of ‘him’ is making Hongjoong so very, very angry.

~*~

After the fifth person shyly asks to compare hand and finger sizes with him at their latest fansign, Hongjoong spends the van ride back to their accommodations for the night staring at his fingers and feeling a little sorry for himself. He’s always been a little self-conscious about the size of his hands in comparison to someone like Seonghwa or Mingi, seeing how small they are compared to Atiny is somehow...worse. 

Yunho notices, of course he does, and pulls Hongjoong down onto his bed in their shared room. “What’s wrong? You’ve been really quiet since we left the conference hall.”

“Don’t worry about it, I’m just being stupid,” Hongjoong mumbles, rolling the edge of his sweatshirt between his fingers. 

“It’s not stupid if something is upsetting you.” Yunho bumps their shoulders together. “Hyung, you promised you’d tell me your worries when we were still trainees. Pretty sure we made a blood pact and everything.”

“That was gochujang on a napkin.” Hongjoong blows out a breath when Yunho only raises his eyebrows expectantly. “Fine, I was just—you know how I have a complex about my hands?”

“You have no reason to, but go on.” Yunho says magnanimously.

Hongjoong scratches at a patch of dried something on his sleeve. Soy sauce, maybe? “Anyway. A lot of Atiny wanted to compare hand sizes and it reminded me how small my own hands are.” Hongjoong taps his heels against the bed nervously. “I can’t hold very much and—”

“That’s not true. Your hands are beautiful and talented,” Yunho interrupts, before shifting to kneel in front of him. “And look how much they can hold,” he grabs Hongjoong’s hands away from their anxious fiddling and plops his chin in the cupped palms. “Me, a grown man, and the entire idol music industry.”

Hongjoong stares at him, doesn’t know what kind of expression he’s making at this point. “Gross.”

Yunho smiles at him affectionately. “If it’s gross, then stop crying.”

“Fuck you,” Hongjoong sobs back, tears spilling over his eyelashes and his cheeks in mortifying little trickles. He barely squeezes Yunho’s jaw to make his lips pucker oddly. “You suck so hard.”

Yunho purses his mouth around a muttered, “I mean, I’m trying.”

“What?”

“What what?” Yunho blinks back innocently, pink flush spreading over his ears.

“Yunho, what does that mean?”

“Hmm,” his dongsaeng glances at something behind Hongjoong’s left shoulder. “Hey, what’s that behind you?”

Hongjoong turns his head to check thinking maybe it’s a staff member come to check on them or hand out their next itinerary but finds nothing but blank empty walls and the door of their hotel room shut tight. Yunho takes his split second distraction to blow a raspberry in his right palm.

“Yunho!”

Yunho only laughs back, dodging the pillow Hongjoong swings at his head with ease. For just a while, the anxiety about his not as manly as he would like hands and the Hongjoong’s-Daily-Torture-Manual he’s still trying to find goes completely forgotten.

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

san: PSA yunho has been in a gay panic since the last fansign
san: proceed with caution

yeosang: why?

san: no fucking clue

jongho: he basically confessed to wanting to suck hyung's dick

mingi: GODDAMN DUDE

yunho: NO THAT'S NOT
yunho: I
yunho: HOW DO YOU KNOW???????

jongho: because i'm hongjoong hyung's favorite and he tells me things
jongho: dw i just told him you were making a really terrible offcolor joke

yunho: ...........................youre an awful wingman

jongho: thank you for noticing 💖

~*~

It’s day—something. Two? Three? He’s lost track of time trying to finish the lyrics for this one song he desperately wants to shop around to upper management for their upcoming album and the deadline is approaching fast. Maybe. It could also be due two weeks from now because time is an illusion—or a game and Hongjoong is winning.

There’s a knock on the door frame and someone calling his name. Hongjoong rubs at his eyes, sore from the glare of his laptop and trying to hyperfocus on his notes. 

“Who is it?”

“It’s your favorite dongsaeng,” Yunho singsongs through the door.

Hongjoong opens it a crack to give him the evil eye. “You don’t look or sound anything like Jongho.”

“You’re a dick,” Yunho tells him feelingly and bullies his way into the cramped studio space. Bizarrely, he has a length of rope in one hand. “And you need a break.”

“Uh,” Hongjoong pauses as Yunho shifts behind his chair. “What are you doing? What is this ab—” Yunho starts wrapping the rope around his chest and the back of his chair. “What are you doing with the rope? Why do you even have rope!”

“I told you,” Yunho finishes his wrap job with a pat to Hongjoong’s chest over his knot. It’s a testament to just how tired he is that Hongjoong only thinks of trying to break free once the knot is in place and his arms are immobilized. “You need a break, so we’re going on a little journey to the conference room.” Yunho pushes his chair into the hallway, making sure the close the studio door with a soft clack. “Yeosang has cake.”

“We have cake?”

“Yeah, special treat for our second award,” Yunho jogs them down the hall in fits and starts, having to pause periodically to sunbaes giving them weird looks Hongjoong is going to see in his nightmares. 

“Untie me so I can walk,” he whines up at Yunho’s chin. “This is humiliating.”

“Nah,” Yunho pretends to blow imaginary dirt from his nails. “Payback for not admitting I’m your favorite.”

“Yunho!” He kicks an ineffectual foot forward. It only accomplishes escape from Yunho’s dastardly fingers for the half second it takes for his dongsaeng to grip the back of his chair again.

Yunho leans over to look at him upside down. “Hongjoong.”

Brat. Hongjoong sucks his teeth in annoyance for dropping the formality. “I take back what I said about saving you first in the purge. I’m going to throw you in a fucking pit.”

“Aw, you’d save me first?” Yunho pinches his cheek, laughing when Hongjoong tries to bite his fingers. “That’s so sweet, hyung-ah.”

 

There is indeed a cake in the conference room. Seonghwa, Mingi, and Wooyoung exchange turns taking selcas with him still tied to his office chair because everyone flat out refuses to release him from his rope prison. Yunho at least takes mercy on him and carefully feeds him bites of cake, swipes any frosting away with a forefinger and a thoughtful look on his face. 

Hongjoong tells himself to stop being a filthy pervert when Yunho distractedly licks away a smudge of vanilla icing from the side of his mouth. It doesn’t work, but the token effort makes him feel like less of a lech anyway.

Jongho slides a bottle of neon blue sports drink across the table, some offbrand shit the company bought in bulk two months ago and they were steadily making their way through the overstock. “Question: is this some kind of weird kinky shit you two get up to when we’re not around? I need to know if I should be stabbing my eyes out later.”

“No!” Yunho yells.

“Jongho, what the fuck, you’re a fetus,” Hongjoong sputters louder. “Don’t say the k-word ever again!”

“I’m going to k-word both of you if you don’t get it together soon,” Jongho hisses almost inaudibly under his breath.

~*~

Two nights later, after Mingi and San respectively have tried their hands at bumping Hongjoong into Yunho’s personal bubble, Hongjoong crosses the room he shares with Seonghwa to shake him awake. “Seonghwa, hyung, I think the kids are trying to murder me.”

“Whuzzat? ‘Joong go ‘way, ‘m sleepin’,” Seonghwa slurs back.

“Hyung!” Hongjoong tries to impart the severity of the situation with an extra shake to Seonghwa’s back. “They’re plotting something, I can feel it, and Yunho keeps,” he falters before whispering in an octave lower. “Yunho keeps kissing me. Like, accidentally on purpose.”

“I thought you wanted him to kiss you?” Seonghwa questions around a yawn.

“That is so far beyond the point!” Hongjoong jostles him awake again when Seonghwa rolls then closes his eyes. “We have to find the prank book, it’s the only way for me to retain my sanity.”

“’Kay, I’ll ask Yeosang about it in the mornin’.”

“Okay.” Hongjoong stays with his full weight digging into Seonghwa’s shoulder blades. “I don’t want Yunho to kiss me.” Seonghwa snorts. “I don’t!”

“Keep telling yourself that and even you might believe it,” Seonghwa flips the edge of his blanket up. “Now, either get in and cuddle or go away and let me fuckin’ sleep you gremlin.”

Hongjoong pouts. “I’m a minion not a gremlin. Get it right, gremlins are ugly.”

“Point still stands.”

Hongjoong glares at him and jabs his elbow into Seonghwa’s back. “You’re a terrible wife and I hate you the most.”

“Let you be the big spoon,” Seonghwa offers in reply.

“I tolerate you,” Hongjoong corrects, climbs under his covers to cuddle up close to his broad back with a sigh. “You can join my purge team.”

“Thanks, I think.” Seonghwa kicks back at him. “Go to sleep.”

 

Yunho is on wakeup duty apparently. Hongjoong barely makes out the sound of his excited, “Hyungs! Breakfast time!” followed by a much quieter, much more subdued and wilted, “oh.”

Hongjoong blearily witnesses him close the door again before dropping back into dreamland, Seonghwa’s arm slung across his chest heavy enough that he doesn’t feel like trying to fight the sleep to move it off himself.

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

wooyoung: yunho stop pouting challenge: failed

yunho: leave me alone

yeosang: what's he pouting about now?

mingi: something stupid

yunho: it's not stupid....

yeosang: ?

san: he found the hyungs snuggling and now he's depressed
san: as if he doesn't make me sleep with him all the time?
san: we all need a cuddlebuddy sometimes

yunho: ):
yunho: it looked like more than just cuddling...you know...

yeosang: .

~*~

For some reason Hongjoong cannot even begin to fathom, Yunho goes quiet and sulky for a few days. He hopes it’s because Yunho still hasn’t gotten his hands on the newest Spiderman game, which Hongjoong had ordered with a little extra help from his mother but the edition Yunho mentioned was on back order until next month. 

Hongjoong decides the best way to turn Yunho’s frown upside down is to be extra clingy so Yunho knows he’s really, technically, tell no one on pain of death his favorite dongsaeng. In fact, they’re lounging together on the couch after dinner, Hongjoong’s head in his lap and a magazine held above his face while Yunho cards long fingers through his fringe, when Yeosang makes a point to pull Seonghwa into the middle of the room. 

“What’s up, Yeosang?” Mingi questions, not bothering to look up from his cellphone.

“Just making a point,” Yeosang pointedly stares at Yunho before dragging Seonghwa down by his ears to plant a kiss to his mouth. Hongjoong gives him a 10/10 for showmanship and -7 billion for being disgusting out in the open right after he’d eaten. He licks his finger and flicks another page in his magazine.

“Ugh, there’s so much kissing going on in this group,” Wooyoung bemoans from his seat in San’s lap.

“You’re literally the worst offender,” Hongjoong says bland and unaffected. Yeosang and Seonghwa are still going at it in the middle of the room. “Can someone spray those two with a hose? Or, like, kick them into the hallway, no one wants to see this.”

“I kind of want to see it,” Mingi says with interest, cellphone dropped into the cushion of his chair. Jongho, on dish duty, pretends to gag over their sink.

“Show’s over!” Seonghwa exclaims loudly and drags Yeosang away by his bicep, who offers the room at a large a smirk and sneaks a thumbs up behind Seonghwa’s back.

“Oh look it worked,” Mingi goes back to playing his game.

Yunho, quiet during the whole exchange, plays with strands of Hongjoong’s bangs. "You’re okay with them?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Hongjoong drops the magazine to his chest. “I told you guys day one I don’t care about who you’re attracted to or who you guys want to date.”

“I meant,” Yunho gulps. “Weren’t you two a thing or—”

Hongjoong can’t help himself and laughs. He can’t stop laughing until he’s wheezing with his hands fisted into the soft material of Yunho’s shirt, hiccuping between squeaky inhales.

“Guess that answers that question,” Yunho says dry as the desert.

~*~

Seonghwa is disgustingly, terminally whipped. After the unnecessary PDA after dinner, his hyung went out and bought Yeosang a new drone, himself a new gundam model, and the pair of them take over Hongjoong’s usual workspace in their room building the two from scratch. Hongjoong watches them work in relative silence from his bed.

“This would all probably go faster if Yeosang weren’t sitting in your lap, hyung,” he intones mildly. “So you could, you know, actually see what you’re doing.”

“I’m comfortable.” Yeosang sticks his tongue out.

“Yeah, he’s comfortable,” Seonghwa repeats while trying to pry the next section of leg out of its plastic casing. “And—”

“And I’m hiding his boner,” Yeosang continues, mouth going smug and crooked. “You’re welcome.”

“Yeosang!” Hongjoong and Seonghwa scream over each other. Yeosang only flutters his eyelashes in mock innocence and goes back to dabbing cotton buds dipped in oil on the rotating metal pieces of his new drone.

Hongjoong slams his laptop shut and hops off his once comfortable perch on his bed, ruined forever by Yeosang saying the word ‘boner’ with a straight face. “I’m leaving if you guys are going to be this fucking nasty.”

“Sorry, not sorry.” Yeosang waves at him. “Yunho’s in the living room playing Just Dance with Wooyoung and San if you want a better show.”

Seonghwa hides his snorting laughter against Yeosang’s back while Hongjoong freezes with his hand just barely touching the knob. “Wh—I—what does that have to do with anything? A show!” Hongjoong stomps out as Yeosang starts joining in on the evil cackling. “Who needs a show? I’m trying to work!”

 

He ends up in the living room watching Yunho growl at the screen and pretending the sound is not absolutely Working for him because that would be weird. And stupid. Almost entirely stupid because Yunho is his dangsaeng and technically his coworker who growls for a living into their recording equipment, Hongjoong does not need to start getting aroused when Yunho lets his voice get dark and angry and hot—

Fuck.

He bends his knees a little higher up to conceal any would-be erections that may or may not be happening, cursing himself and Yeosang for putting the idea in his head. A show.

“Hyung, why don’t you come give this game a try?” San asks him with a smirk. “You look bored.”

“N-no, I’m good,” Hongjoong waves him off. “It’s more fun watching you guys try and fail anyway.”

“We’re not failing, we’re just trying to add our own flavor to the dance moves that the game refuses to appreciate,” Wooyoung whines. “Tell him, Yunho.”

“No, I think we’re failing pretty spectacularly here,” Yunho says with a scowl. “Who wants to watch me snap the disc in half?” He reaches out like he’s about to actually eject the game and whip it against the nearest wall or slam it over his knee. 

“Didn’t I buy that for you guys?” Hongjoong wonders. “I distinctly remember someone begging me for a copy as a reward for staying in the recording studio for three hours.”

“Not it,” Wooyoung denies.

“In my defense,” San starts, stops to slap at Yunho’s fingers hovering dangerously close to the PS4. Yunho yowls at the sting and mimes crying over his abused digits. “In my defense, some of my friends were telling me it was really fun and I wanted to try it.”

“You have friends? Plural?” Hongjoong watches Yunho’s eyes go wide, faux shock evident, and San’s face pinches inward. Wooyoung shoots him a worried glance, but Hongjoong notes he doesn’t try to get between them himself. He can see the future drag out before him of the two of them sniping back and forth until someone genuinely gets their feelings hurt and decides to step in.

“So,” he claps his hands and stands up, looming erection temporarily forgotten in the interest of dorm harmony. “Who wants to teach me how to play?”

“Yunho can,” San smiles, all teeth. “Here, have him.”

With that, he pushes Yunho a little too hard in Hongjoong’s direction. Hard enough that Yunho trips over his own feet. Hard enough that Hongjoong can’t quite catch him to keep him upright and they go down like a lead balloon. 

And again, because the universe or fate or everyone in the dorm except for him has some kind of agenda, Yunho ends up connected to him at the mouth with a grunt and a whimpered, “ow” barely squeezing through the gap between their lips. Ordinarily Hongjoong would push him away, but, really, this is so nice and Yunho’s lips are amazing, he lingers the slightest bit too long before pushing at Yunho’s chest. 

He honestly can’t decide if he wants to be happy about the chain of events or mortified beyond belief for enjoying it so much.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” Yunho tells him, pink cheeked and adorable.

Well. I’m fucking doomed. Hongjoong thinks with no small amount of horror.

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

yunho: san. ily.

san: you should

wooyoung: excuse me bitch

yunho: ily wooyoung

san: UM

mingi: did i miss something again?

san: we'll explain it later

wooyoung: what plan are we on now, D?

yeosang: plan get yunho some d, yeah

jongho: Hello yes operator I would like to run away, please

yunho: i love life wow

~*~

Hongjoong wishes he could remember a time when he wasn’t the world’s most disastrous bisexual because trying to black out the memory of Yunho’s perfect, gorgeous, heart shaped mouth is proving to be nigh impossible. Not even the sight of Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes dancing together, his literal wet dream come to life, can make him forget the soft, supple feel of his group member’s lips. How the skin gives in just so when they press together. How Yunho always tastes faintly minty like he’s constantly brushing his teeth.

That’s a good habit to have, Hongjoong supposes in one hysterical moment to himself. Keeps his teeth nice and white and gives cavities the middle finger.

Regardless, the kissing pranks have got to stop and Hongjoong is determined to find where it is the kids are keeping the book of plans so he can finally get a leg up in this competition.

Maybe it’s hidden in a corner of one of their practice room lockers, yeah.

 

There are no hidden kissing agenda logbooks or nefarious plotting paper to be found in the dance hall. The lockers remain holding only the necessary deodorants and fresh underwear and old, stinking dance shoes as before.

Hongjoong sulks all the way back to the dorm and into his bed.

He hasn’t stopped thinking about Yunho’s mouth for the entirety of his investigation. This is going to be a problem problem.

~*~

The next week, his mother finally sends over the box containing Yunho’s backordered gift—the one he purchased so long ago as an apology for making him cry with the Dubai prank and for putting up with the worst of Hongjoong’s stumbling when he had the eyepatch and, now, for not running screaming from the group after all the accidental kissing. Hongjoong makes sure to pick up a little something for everyone else, too, so no one is left out. 

Hongjoong grabs one of Seonghwa’s stashed bags of chips so he has some way to hide his face in case he blushes. Which...he might. Yunho will probably do that goofy ass happy smile and his heart will go ‘doki-doki’ like a fucking schoolgirl, ugh.

He throws the small gifts at the other members first: a box of Jongho’s favorite gummy snacks; Mingi’s preferred face masks in a new jumbo pack; Socks at both San and Wooyoung because they’re still on thin goddamn ice; and the nastiest, most disgustingly sweet lube he could force himself to buy he chucks at Seonghwa’s head to share with Yeosang. It’s crème brûlée scented. 

Hongjoong spends a moment in the hallway swallowing back bile from the visual of the two of them putting it to use . He shivers. This is maybe going to backfire and now he’ll have a scent memory to associate with those fiends going at it when he’s out of the dorm or out of town visiting family.

Yunho is propped up at the kitchen table studying a language packet of Spanish and English phrases. Hongjoong knocks against the wood to get his attention.

“Hyung?”

“Hey, I’ve got a present for you.” Hongjoong can’t resist reaching out to fluff the tangled wreck of Yunho’s hair where he’d been running his fingers through out of frustration. “Come take a break, you look like you could use one.”

“You’re probably right,” Yunho sighs. He grabs Hongjoong’s fingers before he can snatch them away and laces their hands together in a loose grip. It’s fine, absolutely fine, and Hongjoong is definitely not experiencing some dope ass internal panic about how huge Yunho’s palms are. Not a bit.

He goes to say something to break the silence but all that makes it out of his windpipe is a wheeze of air, so, maybe it’s a lot a bit of panic.

 

San finds them on the couch and gapes open mouthed in outrage. “Wait a minute, why did I get socks when Yunho gets a whole ass new gaming system?”

Hongjoong blinks back, unmoved, and crunches down on a chip. Yunho crows in excitement over the first peek of the red and white Spiderman PS4 and rips into the box containing his newest treasure. “You said you needed socks.”

“I mean, I did,” San grouches back. “But I know for a fact Yunho didn’t need a new game. Or Playstation.”

Hongjoong supposes that’s true and wonders if maybe he went a little overboard considering it was, like, more expensive than anything else he bought for the group by several orders of magnitude. Yunho stops digging into his box of goodies to glare at San, slides in close to Hongjoong’s side to lay his head against his shoulder. Hongjoong pats at his face and feeds Yunho a chip for being cute. “True, but I saw it and Yunho’s been talking about it for a while so, why not.”

“It’s not even his birthday.” San stomps a foot. “This is favoritism at its worst, you’re so fucking whipped.”

“San, quit being a jealous baby and go jack off into your new socks.” Yunho growls in reply, kicks his feet at San’s shins until his roommate rolls his eyes and walks back towards their room. 

Hongjoong shifts the bag of chips a little higher to hide his flaming cheeks.

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

jongho: hey @yunho

yunho: ???

jongho: what's it like to have a sugar daddy?

yunho: WHATDSHJDHK
yunho: JONGHO WTF

jongho: was just asking a question...

mingi: must be nice
mingi: i want someone to buy me a ps4 for no reason 
mingi: ):

jongho: )))):
jongho: sugar baby justice when

yunho: FUCKING STOP HE'S NOT MY SUGAR DADDY

~*~

As part of the press junkets for the latest tour and the upcoming full length album, management has them sit down for interviews at several different studios and at least thirteen different publications. This latest one, a stilted three second questionnaire about the things they love, Hongjoong accidentally reveals he knows just a teeny, tiny, scooch too much about Yunho’s interests. Like, Yunho mentions that he wants to see the newest Spiderman movie and something is his brain goes: Yunho time! I know things! You know, Yunho? I know Yunho!

“Yunho is a big fan of Spiderman,” Hongjoong blurts out. “He has all the games, the movies, and all the comics.” It’s okay, he’s okay, no one is going to say anything or make fun of him for essentially word vomiting how much he notices about his dongsaeng. It’s fine . It’s what leaders are supposed to do anyway.

In retrospect, he should have gotten a clue when Yunho went stone still next to him at the mention of being too embarrassed to watch Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes grind on each other because they're so hot. Or maybe, and this is the more likely of the two, when Mingi said, "I love Hongjoong" with a smirk in Yunho's direction.

That would have been a big fucking clue if Hongjoong wasn’t so distracted by the way Yunho’s thumb keeps dragging circles into his thigh with the edge of a nail.

 

Hongjoong thinks he’s made it through to the safety zone until, during the van ride back to their hotel for the evening, Seonghwa and San both team up to embarrass him.

“Did you hear that interview, San?” Seonghwa says loud and obvious to garner the attention of the van full of people. He mimes holding a microphone in San’s face for his answer.

“I sure did, hyung-nim,” San sighs dreamily. “Hongjoong-hyung loves all of us so much, doesn’t he? Especially Yunho over there.” Fuck. Dammit. Hongjoong slams his eyes shut and pretends to be in deep sleep to avoid whatever is about to come out of San’s mouth. San pitches his voice high, a mockery of Hongjoong’s own, “Oh, Yunho, my darling, he just loves Spiderman! He has all the merch thanks to me and we reenact the upside down kiss in the rain from the first movie all the time!”

“We do not, shut up,” Yunho sputters and tosses a box of tissues at their heads from his position in the back of the van. “Don’t make fun of hyung.”

“I thought it was kind of sweet,” Wooyoung adds. Hongjoong peeks an eye open a crack to see Wooyoung turning his body around to face Yunho’s direction. “They’re just jealous hyung has a crush on you and not them.”

Oh god, oh no. Hongjoong slams his eye back shut to the tune of Yunho’s close mouthed squeal and lets his chin droop as if he’s really, really out of it. Fuck all of them, he does not have a crush.

~*~

He totally does, this is the worst.

~*~

……The kissing is pretty alright though.

~*~

Hongjoong is fairly sure the prank book that may or may not exist stayed back home in Korea, but debates sneaking himself into Wooyoung and Jongho’s room anyway to snoop. Who knows what kind of headassery those two are cooking up behind closed doors. He’s just about decided to beg a keycard from a staff member when Yunho comes back from his shower, flushed from the steam and exceedingly attractive with his wet hair laid flat. 

Hongjoong does his best not to look at him too long.

“Hyung, you wanna put on a movie or something?” Yunho pats the spot next to him on his bed. “The air conditioner runs a little cold in here, share your body heat.”

“Okay,” Hongjoong agrees almost instantaneously, hates himself for it, but proceeds to throw caution to the wind anyway by rolling his way into Yunho’s bed with his laptop full of pirated movies. “What are we watching?”

“Nothing gory or scary,” Yunho hums and tugs him close. His hands are huge and warm wrapped around his waist, and the chin against the crown of his head is a welcome weight he knows is going to lull him to sleep nigh instantly.

He’s starting to suspect Yunho might be the prank ringleader. No one would suspect him because he’s so sweet. Guileless. He's too cuddly and nice and—

Hongjoong breathes against the rising panic in his chest.

Yunho is perfect boyfriend material.

~*~

When he wakes up the next morning, Hongjoong finds himself pressed head to toe against Yunho’s front. Every exhale from Yunho’s nose shifts the hair along his forehead. Hongjoong stares at him in a daze, he can’t even remember what movie they were watching before succumbing to sleep.

Yunho’s eyelashes are dark against his cheeks.

He doesn’t wake when Hongjoong gently traces the edge of them with the tip of a finger, barely there pressure so as not to wake him. From the fan of eyelashes he smooths another digit down the slope of Yunho’s nose, traces over the pout of his top lip and down to his chin. He looks good like this, unconcerned with the world around them and sweetly breathing in soft puffs of breath.

Hongjoong is so enamored with roving over the contours of Yunho’s face that he forgets this is peak Bad Hyung™ behavior, subconsciously leaning in and in

He jerks his head back just before their lips make contact and berates himself for being an idiot as he wiggles his way out from under Yunho’s arms and all the way to the bathroom for a shower. A cold, freezing, completely unenjoyable shower.

~*~

So focused on beating himself up for having feelings, Hongjoong misses Yunho’s eyes opening to stare after him—calculating and sharp, if a little red in the ears.

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

san: did everyone read the script for this show?
san: specifically did YUNHO read the script for this show?

yunho: yy es

mingi: lmfao who wants to bet he taps out the second hongjoong pulls out the aegyo?

jongho: WHY IS IT ALWAYS AEGYO
jongho: I HATE IT SO MUCH

wooyoung: do you really
wooyoung: or are you just terminally shy about it

yeosang: 👀 

yunho: i'm gonna do it

mingi: do what?

yunho: jsfhkdfjsdfh

san: he's going to tap out so quick

~*~

Japan is going to kill him, is going to full on make him drop dead via increasing his blood pressure to dangerous levels. He’s going to straight up fucking perish on camera because whoever is in charge of their Japanese promotions decided it would be fun to play a confession game. With himself and Yunho as one of the first pairs. What the fuck.

Case in point:

“We’re going to play the ‘I Love You’ game,” Jongho explains from his cue cards. “Each member will go against one another saying ‘I love you’ back and forth until someone laughs. Whoever wins the tournament doesn’t have to drink the bitter tea we have to the side.”

Hongjoong blanks through the first rounds, horrified at both the prospect of drinking bitter garbage tea and saying ‘I love you’ to Yunho without it coming out as too much like the truth. Mingi nudges him gently with his elbow when it’s his turn and Hongjoong—

Well he manages to sit down and stare Yunho in the face without combusting, so. Progress.

The combustion chamber stays dormant until Yunho’s face turns serious on his last ‘I love you’—until Yunho leans in with his hands reaching for Hongjoong’s cheeks and his lips pursed open for a kiss, more than likely on the cheek or in the air above his nose. Someone, Hongjoong suspects San or Yeosang, knees Yunho in the back so that they once again ‘accidentally’ lock lips.

On camera.

Hongjoong feels his soul escaping his body through his mouth when Yunho detaches and says simply, “Oops.”

“We’ll delete that in post,” The cameraman assures them.

“Thank you,” Yunho says blithely, rubs a thumb over Hongjoong’s mouth as if he’d left a smudge of lip stain there. God, he might actually have.  “Game’s still on, Hongjoong-hyung. Let’s redo that one, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Hongjoong whimpers back dazedly. “Seems fair.”

He tries to psych Yunho out by running his hands over his cheeks and through his hair, but Yunho remains stubbornly coolheaded about it. Almost seems to bask in the attention like the giant puppy he is on the inside. Hongjoong wishes he could say the same about himself, but between Yunho poking kisses into his cheeks with the tips of his fingers and grabbing his shoulders to say ‘I love you’ with an intensity he was not prepared for, Hongjoong has to bow out with not even a smidgen of grace.

 

San offers him a bracing pat on the back while they wait for the transportation back to their hotel and whispers, “Smooth moves, Melvin.”

Hongjoong glares, stomps his foot just shy of San’s toes to spook him. “I want a trade in on this friendship.”

“No takebacks!” San exuberantly replies, undaunted by the near crushing of his toenails. “You’re stuck with me forever, hyung-nim.”

“Or at least until our contracts are up for renewal,” Hongjoong says tartly. "Or when the purge finally hits and I don't invite you to be on my survival team."

San dangles himself from Hongjoong’s shoulders. “Don’t be an ass.”

“At least I have one.”

He tunes out San’s offended whining for the car ride back to their rooms. Not because it’s annoying or he’s heard almost the same thing from Seonghwa’s mouth, but because he’s distracted by the memory of that last brief kiss. Yunho hadn’t acted like it was a big deal, hasn’t really acted like any of their shared kisses are more than just a small blip on his radar, totally unaffected by them.

Heart twinging, Hongjoong traces the edge of his lips where the skin is faintly tingling still. 

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

san: that was the gayest thing i think i've seen in my life
san: and i regularly put woo's dick in my mouth

wooyoung: SAN 

jongho: @ siri how to unread something

yunho: i feel v proud of myself
yunho: am v calm
yunho: at peace

mingi: he cried in the bathroom

yeosang: L O L that is gold

yunho: MINGI WHY

mingi: bc you still won't share hongjoong cuddle time ):<

yunho: I'M TRYING TO ROMANCE HIM FUCKER

mingi: ok
mingi: and?

jongho: mingi hyung ily but you're about to be a dead man

~*~

Wooyoung, Jongho, and Yeosang have apparently all joined forces to bribe the managers into letting them bring alcohol back to the dorm to celebrate the end of tour and freedom from the intense amount of schedules and prefilming. Hongjoong watches them set up a handmade party streamer that reads, “NO GODS NO MASTERS” along the entrance to the kitchen.

“Uh, am I allowed to ask why the banner?” He wonders with a solo cup full of amazingly strong jungle juice in one hand. “It’s a little disturbing for a party, don’t you think?”

Yeosang is already riotously drunk when he responds, one eye closed and wavering on his feet, “Don’t ask questions you can’t handle the answers to.”

“Right.” Hongjoong blinks and starts to slowly ease his way back towards civilization in the living room. “I’m going to watch the others try to dance to AOA now.”

Yeosang grabs at his arms on his way out, ostensibly to tell him something, but only manages a hiccup that sounds like it hurt coming out. 

“Drink some water, my dude.” Hongjoong rubs his back. “I’ll buy you chicken tomorrow as your hangover treat.”

“I love you,” Yeosang tells him seriously. “Seonghwa, who? I only know Kim Hongjoong and he’s amazing.”

 

Seonghwa, San and Yunho all start a dance line to some girl group greatest hits, only stopping when San goes to do the point dance for CLC’s ‘No’ and just...blanks. Full on stops moving with a chagrined smile on his face when Mingi, sitting as their judge and jury, calls for him to chug the rest of his glass of very strong alcohol.

The look on his face at the aftertaste is hilarious and Hongjoong has to curl himself into a ball to stop his stomach from hurting with how hard he’s howling laughter.

“It’s really not that funny, hyung,” San pouts at him. Wooyoung attaches himself to San’s back to coo encouragement into his neck.

Hongjoong takes one look at San and his extremely flushed face and keeps cackling. Jongho, unfairly strong dongsaeng that he is, bodily lifts him up still in his curled position. Over the sound of his yelling, Yunho starts singing while patting his thighs, “I want to see my little boy!”

“Here he comes!” Jongho drops Hongjoong into Yunho’s lap and highfives the rest of the group for his display of strength. Asshole. Hongjoong makes a note not to give him an extra serving of meat off his plate the next time they all go out to eat.

“Hyung!” Yunho encircles him with his arms and legs like an octopus around its prey. “I have you now, there’s no escape.”

“Don’t wanna escape,” Hongjoong hicks back, and oh—he may possibly be a tad tipsy. Nothing for it, he shrugs and shifts in Yunho’s lap until he’s sufficiently comfortable. “Hi.”

“Hi,” Yunho squishes their cheeks together. Hongjoong reaches up to mash the other side of Yunho’s face just to feel the skin give beneath his fingers. “Did you ever think we’d get here?”

God, he’s so warm. With his ear resting against Yunho’s chest, it’s easy enough to block out the sound of the party in favor of listening to his heartbeat, the steady rhythm of it threatening to put him to sleep.

Yunho jostles him with his knees. “Hyung.”

“Oh right,” Hongjoong pulls back to stare Yunho in the eyes. “Of course I did!”

“Really?”

“I mean, honestly, none of this actually feels real most days,” Hongjoong swallows down a bubble in his throat when Yunho’s eyebrows scrunch together like he’s going to start tearing up. “But I believe in our group, you, the fans, and you.” Hongjoong snickers a little when he realizes— “I said you twice.”

“You did.” Yunho laughs quietly under his breath.

Feeling a little brave thanks to the burn of something that is maybe 9 parts vodka to every 1 part juice, Hongjoong plays with the fingers wrapped around his knees. “Hey Yunho—”

When he turns his head, Yunho is close—closer than before and their lips are very nearly touching. A hair's breadth away. Hongjoong stares, unmoving and unwilling to back away. If—if Yunho wanted, if he really wanted to, he could—

Yunho gifts him with a pink cheeked smile, his favorite one that makes his cheeks bunch adorably beneath his eyes. “Hyung,” he says simply and shifts forward that last little speck of space to oh so gently touch their lips together. Intentionally this time. Hongjoong debates backing away from it, but he’s somewhat inebriated and the alcohol is giving him courage he wouldn’t ordinarily have so he closes his eyes and presses back. 

This kiss is better than the rest. Longer lasting. Yunho makes a throaty kind of sound and presses harder against him. He doesn’t taste like mint this time, Hongjoong notes with no small amount of enthusiasm, and his lips are plump and hydrated where they glide smoothly against his own. There’s a slight scrape of stubble against his chin when Yunho tilts his head for a better angle.

Hongjoong basks in it, praying this isn’t just a one time thing they’ll laugh about in the morning and grips tight to Yunho’s sleeves so he can’t leave.

—Until someone snaps a photo with their phone with the flash still on.

Hongjoong snaps out of the fog of arousal to yell, “Mingi, you little shit, delete that.”

Mingi just holds his phone as high as his arms can reach. “What are you going to do about it? Not like you can reach my phone.”

Hongjoong screams to cover his embarrassment at being caught with his hand in the cookie jar so to speak, and chases his wannabe nemesis down the hall to his and Jongho’s room while the rest of the members laugh at them.

Yunho doesn’t try to hold him back.

~*~

If Yunho remembers the kiss, he doesn’t say anything about it or act any differently. Breakfast the next day is the normal affair, though with more groaning and San going pale at the sight of scrambled eggs. Hongjoong tells himself Yunho was probably too drunk anyway and he should be feeling guilty for taking advantage of the situation rather than hurt for being forgotten.

Seonghwa laughs at him when he finds Hongjoong sulking face down in his bed.

Hongjoong kicks a foot out in a vain attempt at smacking him in the nose with his toes. “Leave me alone, I’m moping.”

“You’re being a coward is what you’re doing,” Seonghwa benevolently rubs at the tense muscles in his back. “Just tell Yunho you like him. He's obviously interested.”

Hongjoong groans into his mattress because that is verifiably untrue. “You tell him I like him.”

“Well, number one, I’m not your errand boy—”

“Because you’re my wife.”

“No,” Seonghwa stops massaging his back to slap him right in the base of his spine. Hongjoong whines and pathetically tries to smack him back, only accomplishes swinging his arm ineffectually in the air. “Number two, I don’t think confessions are something you’re really supposed to outsource.”

“Says who?”

“Literally everyone,” Seonghwa deadpans. “Even a little note card with ‘do you like me: check yes or no’ would be better than trying to make me do it for you.”

“Urgh,” Hongjoong says with as much disgust he can muster.

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

san: day three of yunho stop avoiding hyung and confess failure

yunho: ....listen

yeosang: this is just sad
yeosang: you two made out? you were barely even tipsy?

yunho: HE DOESN'T KNOW THAT
yunho: hyung hasn't said anything anyway so he was probably three sheets to the wind
yunho: i don't want to make him uncomfortable if he doesn't remember it 
yunho: ):

jongho: jfc

wooyoung: i'm about to go tell hyung you like him MYSELF

yunho: N O

mingi: hold that thought
mingi: i have a Plan

san: oh fuck yunho run

mingi: :|

~*~

So focused on feeling sorry for himself, Hongjoong totally forgets about his quest to find the prank planner that 100% exists, maybe in Yunho’s possession, until he wakes up one morning without his comforter and a series of pictures dangling on strings attached to his bed. They’re pictures—the same one over and over again—of his and Yunho’s kiss at the party. The very nice, would do again yesterday kiss that neither of them are acknowledging. He finds them strung from the ceiling, scattered all over the floor, and shoved between his mattress and his boxspring where he used to keep the worst of his porn until Seonghwa found it and laughed like a hyena every time they looked at each other for at least two days.

The door hinges make a distressed whine when he rips open his door to yell down the hallway, “Song Mingi, I’m going to murder you!”

“Not if I get to him first!” Yunho yells back.

“Wait,” Hongjoong peeks his head out of his doorway to find Yunho glaring venomously at the Mingi slash Jongho doorway. He’s beet red, hair still standing at odd angles from his pillow and holding a few of the same pictures crumbled in his fist. “They pranked you too?”

“Yeah. Stole my Spiderman collection and put these all over the place,” Yunho avoids eye contact. Hongjoong pushes down the hurt at the action. “He even rolled up a few pictures and stuck them up San’s nose.”

Oh. That can’t be good. “Did you pull them out?”

“Hell no, I’m not touching his snot. Hyung, that’s nasty.”

Hongjoong is just about to reprimand him for not looking out for his roommate’s best interests, when the sound of San choking and yelling in outrage echoes from their room, “Song Mingi!”

“Get in line!” He and Yunho yell over each other.

Hongjoong takes in a steadying breath and tells himself maiming Mingi would send him to jail. He’s too pretty for prison. “I thought you had the prank book, does that mean Mingi actually has it? Did he manage to lie to me?” 

“Hyung, I don’t know how many times we can tell you this, but there is no such thing.” Yunho rubs tiredly at his face. 

Hongjoong squints back. He doesn’t believe Yunho for a second. “I’ll get the truth out of you guys yet, just you wait.”

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

yunho: M I N G I

mingi: henlo yes

yunho: what the FUCK

mingi: you wanted hyung to remember the kiss didn't you?
mingi: now he has picture proof

yeosang: okay this has gotten out of hand
yeosang: i'm bringing seonghwa into this

jongho: the voice of reason

wooyoung: jongho....will you ever learn

san: no

jongho: I know five different ways to snap a man's neck.
jongho: The Han River is Deep.

yunho: hey
yunho: jongho?
yunho: no more of that ever again thanks

mingi: wait is this how the purge starts?

san: STOP TALKING ABOUT THE PURGE YOU'LL MAKE IT HAPPEN

yeosang: seonghwa says just to lock them in a closet
yeosang: so we're going to lock yunho and hongjoong in a closet

yunho: um.

wooyoung: dope

jongho: i don't know what i expected

~*~

Seonghwa is in the middle of mopping their floor when he stops, makes an aggrieved sound like a sad cat at some patch of dust that refuses to come up. “Hongjoong-ah, can you get me the big bottle of cleaner from the hall closet? It works better on floor stains than what I’m using now.”

“I can get it in a minute,” Hongjoong says distractedly, one headphone jack in his ear as he lounges on his own bed working on his latest Masterpiece™. “Mop somewhere else for a while.”

“Absolutely not,” Seonghwa stomps his foot and holds the end of the mop like a weapon. “Get off your ass and bring me the cleaner. Or else.”

Hongjoong snorts. “Or else what?”

“Yunho.” Seonghwa says simply.

His Masterpiece could wait. Hongjoong closes his laptop with a smile that’s mostly clenched jaw. “The green bottle, right? Back in a sec.”

Bizarrely, Yunho is slumped against one wall of the closet against a pile of their old winter coats and playing piano tiles on his phone. 

“Yunho? What are y—”

His question is interrupted by someone pushing him into the cramped space and locking them in with a click of the doorknob along with what sounds like the scrape of a kitchen chair wedged beneath the handle. Hongjoong gives the handle a perfunctory jiggle that tells him what he already knows:

They’re locked in.

“San?” Hongjoong asks.

“San.” Yunho confirms.

“We’ll let you out after you two talk things over,” San says with no inflection from the other side of the door. “Or until we hear anything suspicious so we can point and laugh.”

 

They stand in uncomfortable, mortifying silence for a long ass time. Hongjoong had to stop counting the seconds when he hit the three minute mark and Yunho fiddled with the ring he kept on his ring finger. It’s now or never.

“I—”

“About the—”

“Sorry,” Yunho laughs, sounding bashful. “You go.”

“I was just going to say,” Hongjoong squeezes his eyes shut in the dark. “I wanted to—to apologize for all the inappropriate kissing that’s been happening. I’m sorry, Yunho.”

Yunho goes quiet. Only the sound of their breathing breaking the silence until Yunho sucks in a breath and says, “I’m not.”

Whatever he thought Yunho would say, that was not even on the top ten list. “What?”

“You heard me.” He feels Yunho’s fingers find their way to either side of his neck, barely caressing the underside of his jaw. “I’m not sorry at all.”

“I—wh—is—” Hongjoong stumbles. “Wait, are you flirting with me right now?”

Yunho lets out a sound that doesn’t sound happy and softly touches their foreheads together with a self deprecating laugh. “Have been for the last few months but thanks for noticing.”

“Oh.” He can feel his cheeks burning, flush making its way from his ears to his face and down his neck.

“Yeah, ‘oh’,” Yunho mocks. His thumbs stroke feather soft against Hongjoong’s ears over his newest healed piercings.

"Then," Hongjoong finally starts, swallows back his nerves, ears burning from the touch, “Can I kiss you for real?”

Yunho’s hands shake almost as much as his voice when he mewls, “Please.”

Hongjoong doesn’t need to be told twice and closes that last little gap between them. Finally, after months of being teased with this, the world seems to click into place with the slide of their mouths. Yunho tastes like mint again, wonders vaguely if he planned for this and decides he doesn’t care. Hongjoong fists Yunho’s shirt in his hands to pull him close, closer, not close enough even when they press head to toe—a long line of heat against his front.

Yunho nips his bottom lip and Hongjoong can’t seem to stop a tiny whimper from clawing its way out of his throat. Yunho takes that as encouragement, as he should as far as Hongjoong is concerned, and licks into his mouth with an answering moan.

Hongjoong loses all track of time between the sweet softness of Yunho’s mouth and his hands roving over his back.

That is, until Jongho yanks open the door with a scowl and a hand over his eyes. “Please get out of there before you ruin the coat my mother sent me for Christmas last year.”

“We’re not going to ruin your coat.” Hongjoong coughs as a cover to discreetly wipe his mouth. “And anyway, it’s not our fault we’re in here. San locked us in.”

“The door has been unlocked and open for ten minutes you nasties.” Jongho keeps his eyes covered. "Also I've been reliably informed that Hongjoong-hyung's room is off limits and San is in Wooyoung's bunk for the foreseeable future."

“And he calls us nasties. Come on, Yunho.” Hongjoong takes Yunho by the hand and leads him out of the closet. “Thanks for the heads up, Jongho-yah.”

“Whatever,” Jongho mumbles. “I’m making Mingi-hyung buy me dinner for putting up with you people.”

“Hyung,” Yunho stops him when they enter the living room. “What are we doing?”

Hongjoong pauses to consider their options. They could pretend this never happened. They could go to Yunho’s free room and continue their heavy petting session. A whole new world of lascivious opportunities opens before them, shiny and new and exciting.

Hongjoong smiles. Later. They have all the time in the world for that now, there’s no rush.

"Let hyung treat you to dinner," he bites his lip. "Or maybe...let your boyfriend treat you?"

Yunho's grin is enormous and blindingly bright. "Sounds perfect."

~*~

Project GET YUNHO A MAN

yunho: ✨Mission Accomplished✨

san: bout time

jongho: does that mean I can finally show hyung my messages again?

yunho: NO
yunho: JONGHO DONT
yunho: JONGHO PLEASE BE NICE TO YOUR HYUNG

jongho: oh
jongho: lol oops too late

yeosang: rip in pieces yunho

wooyoung: i can hear yunho screaming and i'm not even in the building rn

mingi: does this mean i can have hyung privileges again?

~*~

Hongjoong reads everything with equal parts affection and mild irritation.

Jongho takes his phone back. "So, are you going to do anything about this?"

"Hmm," Hongjoong steeples his fingers against his laptop like a cartoon villain. "What are your feelings on prank books?"