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a momentary brilliance

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The thing about stories is everyone has their own version. Everyone sees it differently — everyone tells it differently. If you asked Jaemin, he would have said it had started when they were trainees. When Renjun first saw Donghyuck in the practice room. To Jeno it started with Don’t Need Your Love. To Jisung it was when Donghyuck and Mark first fought — when Renjun and Donghyuck somehow fell into each other’s orbits.

 

For Renjun it starts right here: in a practice room, the two of them in floppy hoodies and sweatpants. It’s quarter past eleven on a Saturday morning and though the autumn rain falls in sheets outside there's no trace of it inside the building. It’s a typical scene: Chenle clutched to Jeno’s back, cheering him on as the two of them run wildly around the room. They dodge around Jaemin — collapsed on the floor with his legs splayed out and his hat discarded beside him — and Chenle asks Jeno to run him over, to which Jaemin lets out a long whine. In the corner, Jisung picks up the various snacks set at the food table, examining them and then placing them back down while muttering to himself.

 

In the center of the chaos is Renjun and Donghyuck — of course.

 

“I want you to give him a long stare,” the choreographer says. “Something tender, something longing. Make his heart race, Renjun.”

 

Renjun nods and toys with the strings on his mask. It’s not hard to make Donghyuck’s heart race. Telling him to exercise usually seems to do the trick. Lifting a large flat object and threatening to break it over his head is also on the menu.

 

Opposite him, Donghyuck pokes his tongue out.

 

“Can’t I just punch him in the gut instead?” Renjun asks. 

 

“I don’t think the fans would like that, Injunnie,” Donghyuck says.

 

“I don’t think the fans like you, full stop.”

 

“You wound me.”

 

“I’ll do more than wound you in a second.” 

 

He lunges for Donghyuck’s throat, moving at the last second to wrap him into a bear hug, pulling him against his chest and whispering in his ear: “I’ll make you quiver.”

 

Donghyuck’s smirk when he squirms free is a patented one — destruction and determination and a fireball of drive all wrapped up in a perfect face-warping quirk of the lips. It makes Renjun want more. It makes him want to fight, the way he was born to do. It’s a smile that taps into that explosive nature and says:

 

“I’d like to see you try.”

 

They break from the rehearsal thirty minutes later. Donghyuck goes to the bathroom — and Renjun follows. Donghyuck knows he’s following — he casts a look back at him with raised eyebrows. This is all a game — one they’ve played time and time again.

 

In the back of the building Renjun shoves Donghyuck up against the wall, sticks his thigh between his legs and pins his wrists above his head. He’s smaller — objectively — Donghyuck could probably throw him off if he really tried. But it’s the fact that he doesn’t — the fact that he lets Renjun hold his face centimeters from his, the fact that he lets him brush his lips against the crook of his neck and murmur into his skin: “Is this what you had in mind?” 

 

That’s something in and of itself.

 

Donghyuck grins at him with shark’s teeth and hellfire dancing in his eyes. “No, but you do always surprise me.”

 

This is where it starts. Where it ends is entirely somewhere else.

 

*

 

“You’re hot shit, hyung,” Chenle says as they climb into the van. He’s talking to Jaemin, who’s grinning like a loon, the mask covering his chin flecked with red from the ddeokbokki they’d grabbed on the way back.

 

“Who fucking taught you that language?”

 

“Dunno,” Chenle raises his eyebrows and pouts. “Who did?”

 

Renjun snorts as he clambers into the back seat, almost elbowing Donghyuck in the head and earning a look of barely concealed annoyance. It’s past sundown and the autumn chill has descended on Seoul, the sun’s fleeting warmth faded away and only the cold neon lights left reflecting in the puddles on the streets. Renjun had started to shiver violently while they were waiting at a stand for takeout — he’s now swimming in Jisung’s hoodie (pulled over the top of his own). Donghyuck takes the sleeve and sniffs it when he sits beside him — giving him a puzzling look then returning back to staring out the rain streaked window.

 

“You gonna stick around?” Renjun asks, poking Donghyuck in the side. It’s a Saturday, which means they get to go back to the dorms. No journey to the TBS building for Renjun to record tonight, just good friends, good food and exhaustion in his bones. Chenle and Jaemin are still talking up front — Chenle’s doing that thing where he imitates everything Jaemin says in a high pitched voice — and Jisung has his earphones in already, scrolling through his phone without a care for the fact that his best friend is picking a fight with someone who is liable to swallow him whole on a bad day.

 

He’s probably right not to care. Chenle can take care of himself. He’s got a sharper tongue than Renjun, and a disarming smile to back it up. Plus there’s the fact that (and Renjun’s the only one who knows this — he’s taking this to the grave as far as Jaemin is concerned) Jaemin is disgustingly in love with Chenle. He reckons Chenle must have some kind of inkling of it, but it’s not quite enough — and Renjun does draw some amusement from watching the conflicting emotions flash across Jaemin’s face as he takes yet another teasing remark on the nose.

 

“Yeah, I think so,” Donghyuck says. He nudges Renjun back with a tap on the calf, more absent minded than anything with intent. “Unless you wanna come play games with me and Johnny? You can probably borrow Taeyong’s spare laptop again.”

 

Renjun glances to where Jaemin is wincing and screaming at Chenle’s fingers digging into his side. Chenle’s coming back with them. If he’s lucky he’ll be gaming with Jisung. If he’s unlucky he’ll have to watch Jaemin make heart eyes at him for the next six hours.

 

“Sure,” he says. “That sounds good.”

 

*

 

The 127 dorm is deadly quiet, save for the soft thump of music coming from behind Doyoung's door. As they come into the kitchen Taeyong's door opens, and he greets them with a wave and a soft smile. His voice is rough and he sports a wooly bedhead and obvious signs of a late night binge in the recording studio.

 

“Hey Renjun. Hey Donghyuck. Dream dorm too loud?”

 

After all these years Renjun still finds Taeyong intimidating — despite that fact he’s seen him walking around the dorm in his boxer shorts meowing to himself in the middle of the night. Despite the fact they’ve had heart to hearts when Renjun was consumed with homesickness. Despite all the times Taeyong has looked out for him and taken him under his wing — Taeyong is still scary. He just has an aura about him. He'd felt it when he'd first seen the SM Rookies videos and he feels it today — there’s something otherworldly about him. Ethereal. 

 

“Just needed a break,” Donghyuck says. He throws up a peace sign and Taeyong nods. 

 

“Yeah. I know the feeling. Good to see you two again. I watched your radio last night, Renjun, by the way. You look so cool.”

 

“Oh,” Renjun laughs. It’s rare for him to be embarrassed these days, but he feels his cheeks heat up a little bit all the same. “Thank you.”

 

Taeyong smiles, tired eyes sparkling. "Do you guys want my laptop?"

 

"Yeah," Donghyuck nods. "We're gonna play some Overwatch. Do you wanna join?"

 

"Sure. I got up like five minutes ago, though. Let me actually wake up first."

 

"Busy night?"

 

"Mmmm. Tried to be. How did your practice go, eh? How's the concert looking?"

 

"Great," Renjun says. Donghyuck nods. 

 

"Lots of new choreo. We're the fanservice bitches this time."

 

"Don't you love that, Donghyuck?"

 

"Not when it's him. It's awful."

 

"Hey," Renjun says, elbowing him. "I'm right here." 

 

"Unfortunately."

 

Taeyong laughs. It's rough with sleep but it's happy and bright. "I would say don't let him fool you, but I'm sure you already know."

 

Renjun nods. "You would be right." He smacks Donghyuck's butt and Donghyuck barely flinches, though Taeyong lets out another bright laugh.

 

"Alright,” Taeyong says. “There's leftovers and beer in the fridge if you want. I'll grab my laptop for you, yeah?"

 

“Thanks hyung,” Donghyuck says. He nudges Renjun. “C’mon.”

 

Johnny isn't home — apparently he's on the tenth floor (the frat floor, Renjun likes to think of it as). The room is dark and quiet, the only light coming from the various electronics decorating the place. Donghyuck flicks on the light and gestures at his bed.

 

Renjun likes Donghyuck’s room. He doesn’t come here often — it’s usually easier for Donghyuck to come to Dream dorm (and privately — since they don’t get to see him as much — it’s nicer for him to come to the Dream dorm), but sometimes Renjun needs a break. Donghyuck’s room is cool and cozy, filled with warm lights and lots of little trinkets they’ve picked up over the years — things they went shopping for together. Shirts they bought in LA, things he’s collected while on tour with 127. Little Donghyuckisms strewn across the floor and mixed in with Johnny’s decor.

 

Renjun flops down onto the unmade bed and pulls a pillow out, tucking it under his neck. In front of him Donghyuck pulls his shirt over his head, throws it onto the floor and then picks another up and sniffs it — deeming it clean enough to pull on.

 

“You know that's not gonna do much considering how much you sweat today,” Renjun says.

 

“That’s rich coming from someone who sweats the Han river the second he gets on stage.”

 

“It means I’m speaking from experience,” Renjun says. He punches the pillow, adjusting his head slightly and splaying his legs everywhere. “You can change your clothes, but you’re still gonna smell.”

 

Without warning Donghyuck throws himself on top of him, knocking the air out of his lungs. He shoves his hand into Renjun’s face, his fingers almost going up his nose, palm squashing his lips as he leans in and asks: “Do I smell? Tell me Renjun, do I smell?”

 

Renjun knees whatever body part he can reach and shoves at him, causing Donghyuck to laugh.

 

“You don’t stink any more than you usually do,” Renjun says. Donghyuck wiggles on top of him, flailing like a beached whale before he attempts to hug Renjun, legs tangling with his, his body like a dead weight. “Will you get off me?”

 

“Tell me you love me,” Donghyuck says. Renjun groans, kicking up at him again and pulling on the edge of his shirt.

 

“In your dreams.”

 

Donghyuck pulls back and lands a wet kiss on Renjun’s forehead. “Tell me you love me!”

 

“You are so fucking gross!” Renjun says, laughing. He shoves at Donghyuck, who releases his hold on him, not before using his position to plant another kiss on Renjun’s cheek. He rolls off and the weight on his chest releases, air filling his lungs again. Renjun takes a deep breath and Donghyuck laughs, poking a finger into his ribs.

 

“I can’t believe you don’t love me, Injunnie.”

 

“Why would I ever love someone who tries to smother me?”

 

Donghyuck grins and wiggles his eyebrows, sauntering across the room to turn on his computer. Renjun doesn’t budge — he remains on his back, head turned sideways to watch Donghyuck, who flops down in his ridiculous gaming chair and then swivels around to meet Renjun’s gaze like he’s a particularly unassuming Bond villain. He doesn’t speak, just props his elbows on his knees and rests his chin on his hands, staring at Renjun with a glint of something wild in his eyes.

 

“What?” Renjun asks. Donghyuck shrugs, pouting slightly.

 

“Just thinking.”

 

“I know. I can see the steam coming out of your ears.”

 

Donghyuck sighs. “What do you think about it?”

 

“You’re gonna have to be more specific than that,” Renjun says. “I can’t read your mind.”

 

“Aren’t we both thankful for that,” Donghyuck says. “I mean, about the concert? About the whole… Don't Need Your Love thing.”

 

“It’s fanservice,” Renjun shrugs. “I don’t really care. How do you feel?”

 

“I mean, they haven’t really paired us up together before. And it’s a bit…” 

 

“Intense?”

 

“Right. I kept expecting them to ask me to kiss you.”

 

Renjun laughs. “Geeze.” He shares the sentiment. It’s a lot more than anything they’ve ever done — a lot more for something they’re going to do in front of people. Renjun’s kissed Donghyuck before (on a dare, not willingly — because yes Donghyuck is attractive but he’s also Renjun’s best friend, and once upon a time Renjun had a crush on him but that’s long gone now) but doing something like this on stage is different. It’s — well. Renjun is a professional, but he can’t lie and say that it doesn’t make him nervous to be doing this. 

 

"Yeah. I mean — that stuff Taeyong was talking about. The things I do with Taeil are different. He's.. like my big brother. I don't know. I feel like I'm not explaining myself properly. I can't take it seriously when we do it, is all."

 

"It's okay," Renjun shrugs. He gets it. He and Donghyuck are close. He’s heard him call him his soulmate enough times — both on broadcast and off — to get that their relationship is different to, well, really anybody else's. He understands. 

 

Donghyuck nods. He looks faraway, still resting his chin on his fists, eyes gazing off like he’s daydreaming. “Anyway. I guess we’ll just practice. It’s good, right?”

 

“Yeah,”  Renjun says. “It’ll be good.”

 

*

 

They end up gaming until the early morning, Johnny joining them for a few hours when Taeyong drops out — citing the fact that he’s falling asleep at the keyboard. Renjun falls asleep on the couch, wrapped up in Donghyuck’s spare blanket and still wearing Jisung’s hoodie. He wakes up twice during the night — once to Taeyong, his silhouette cut out in the pale glow of the fridge door light, and then to Donghyuck and Doyoung, sitting at the kitchen table together. Their conversation is too quiet for him to hear, and he only catches snatches of it — Jeno’s name, something about the concert. Things that fall from Renjun’s mind as quickly as they enter it, like sand slipping through his fingers. He lets them lull him asleep, and though his dreams are strange and technicolour — full of flashes of faces and cities he’ll never visit — when he wakes he remembers nothing at all.

 

*

 

“You two are completely unconvincing,” Jaemin says. He’s chewing on a sausage, front teeth working like he’s a fucking rabbit, silvery hair poking out from the edge of his cap. Renjun is sitting on Donghyuck’s knee, browsing Twitter on his phone with Donghyuck’s arms wrapped loosely around his waist. 

 

“Unconvincing of what?” Renjun asks. Donghyuck shakes his knee as if he’s trying to get him to stand up and Renjun responds by wiggling against him, leaning his weight against his legs. 

 

“Why is your ass so bony?” Donghyuck asks, ignoring Jaemin entirely and smacking Renjun's hip with his open hand. Renjun snorts.

 

“Why are your thighs so weak?”

 

Donghyuck smacks him again. “Get off me.”

 

“No,” Renjun says, just as Donghyuck makes to stand up. He escapes being dumped onto the ground and lands on his feet somehow, turning around to give Donghyuck a playful shove on the shoulder. Jaemin just rolls his eyes and takes another bite of his snack.

 

“You don’t have any passion. Every single time we do Don't Need Your Love Donghyuck looks like he’s about to start laughing. I told you it should have been me and Renjun, Donghyuck."

 

Donghyuck stutters for a second, mouth opening and closing uselessly before he seems to find his words again. "Hey. Shut the fuck up?" he offers. 

 

He almost looks pissed — like he's taken Jaemin's words to heart. Maybe they know something Renjun doesn't. "You can't say that," Donghyuck continues, "we've got plenty of time to get it right. It’s not my fault I keep expecting him to pinch my cheek or something."

 

Renjun reaches out and does exactly that, grabbing the remnants of Donghyuck's baby fat between his thumb and forefinger and squeezing. Donghyuck just bats him away.

 

"Ah, for real," He says. He turns to Renjun. "I'm being serious. You look at me like you need to pee. What happened to all your promises, hey?"

 

"What promises?" Jaemin asks. They both turn to him. 

 

"Who said you could be here again?" Donghyuck asks. Jaemin bites his lip, his eyes flicking across the room, sourness flashing across his face. Renjun follows his gaze and — oh. He understands. Against the other wall beside the speakers Jeno is sitting on a chair with Chenle in his lap. The two of them are chest to chest, Chenle's chin hooked over Jeno's shoulder and his arms wrapped around him as he reads his phone. 

 

The night before, Jaemin had come into Renjun's room and lay down beside him. Jaemin hadn’t spoken and Renjun hadn't asked — he’d just wrapped his arms around him and held him for a solid couple of hours while he was watching movies on his tablet. Renjun knows now something is up.

 

"Forget it," Renjun says. He's feeling sympathetic. "Don't be mean. He can stay." 

 

He flops back down onto the bench beside Donghyuck and leans against him, sympathy for Jaemin evaporating in a second when he remembers why Donghyuck had been so callous. The fucking concert. The worst part is he knows Jaemin is right — neither of them can contain themselves.

 

"Why is everything so hard? I'd rather sing Dear Dream again than do this right now." 

 

"That's actually traumatising," Donghyuck says. "Don't bring that up."

 

Jaemin seems to agree. He melts against the wall — looking practically boneless — and lets out a long groan. They still have a good ten minutes left on their break and currently Jisung is nowhere to be seen.

 

“Fuck this,” he says. His voice is pitching up, the way it does when he’s trying to clamp down on whatever’s sitting on the tip of his tongue. “I’m gonna go for a walk, or something.”

 

“Take me with you,” Donghyuck says, rising as Jaemin does. He glances back to Renjun as if to extend the offer to him, but Renjun just shakes his head. He doesn’t feel like it. He’s tired.

 

“Go without me,” he says. Donghyuck nods. 

 

“Let’s hit up the vending machines. I’ll get something for you, Renjun.”

 

Renjun gives him a tightlipped smile and wave, then stretches his body out along the length of the bench, tilting his cap down over his face and blowing his fringe out of his eyes with a huff of air. He feels exhausted all of a sudden. It’s literally one tiny bit of choreo in a single song — it’s not even serious. No-one will care if Renjun laughs at Donghyuck. 

 

It still bothers him a lot.

 

*

 

It rains like hell that evening, a chorus of angels stomping their feet on the roof of the cafe Renjun and Donghyuck are currently holed up in. Their manager is on his phone on the table because theirs, and he's relinquished his melon bingsu to a very happy Donghyuck — who is currently picking off the cubes and popping them in his mouth in a way that is not befitting at all of an SM idol. Not that Renjun’s one to talk — but Donghyuck certainly curates his image a lot more than Renjun does. If someone takes a photo of Donghyuck in public with his fingers in his mouth and cheeks full of melon, it’ll probably be a bit more of a loss for him.

 

Renjun stabs his spoon through the bingsu he and Donghyuck were supposed to be sharing and tries to scoop up as much condensed milk as possible. It’s a petty gesture of course — taking out his annoyance on Donghyuck by stealing all the sugar — but Renjun doesn’t really have any drive to actually do anything to leave lasting damage on Donghyuck. Why would he? He really is just being petty — taking out all his annoyance at the concert practice failures on Donghyuck instead of actually dealing with it.

 

“What’re you doing tomorrow?” Donghyuck asks. It sounds sluggish — his tongue no doubt swollen from the amount of shaved ice he’s consumed.

 

“Sleeping,” Renjun says. He has absolutely no plans. Becoming a human rock sounds pretty nice right about now.

 

“Wanna come over?”

 

Renjun narrows his eyes at Donghyuck. They never go over to the 127 dorm — not this much anyway. Another invite back is vaguely suspicious. Donghyuck may be practiced at hiding how much of a fucking schemer he is, but maybe he forgets just how well Renjun knows him — he's got a sharp mind and there's definitely something brewing under there.

 

"Why?" Renjun asks, tentative.

 

"You're my friend and I enjoy your company?" Donghyuck says, an eyebrow cocked. He's twirling his spoon in his bingsu, slowly digging a tunnel towards the center. The way he's been eating it means the entire side facing him is carved out, and Renjun's mildly concerned that if he fidgets anymore he'll just bring the whole thing down. "Why do you sound so suspicious? I'm not going to dismember you or anything."

 

"We never go back to your room."

 

"Maybe it's time for a change of scenery?” he shrugs. “Anyway, Jaemin's been completely insufferable recently. I don't know what his problem is. His moping is a buzzkill. I don't want to go to your dorm."

 

Renjun laughs. He's not sure what's happened — he needs to ask Jaemin about it, surely — but Donghyuck is right — a moping Jaemin is contagious. He's not their moodmaker, but he still seeps out to everyone else. When Donghyuck can't tease him — when even Jeno's positivity isn't affecting him — it's like a blanket is thrown over the dorm, a bad mood that permeates them all.

 

It happens with all of them, actually. One of the effects of spending so long with other people — with all of them becoming a print on your skin — is the strange symbiotic way they all relate to each other. Like some kind of fucked up hivemind. They hurt together, they mourn together.

 

"Fair," Renjun says. He picks up the macaron off the top of his bingsu and chews on it, letting the cinnamon jam sit on his tongue as he thinks. He's still not entirely convinced by Donghyuck — though the Jaemin detour has got his mind whirring in different directions. It's enough to distract him, and he leaves it be. "Yeah. Okay."

 

Donghyuck smiles, and then his whole tower of bingsu comes crumbling down.



*

 

Renjun was right to be cautious. The 5th floor is empty except for Doyoung (the same music playing perpetually from behind his door) and as soon as Donghyuck lets him into his room he flops down on Johnny's bed with a grin.

 

"So," he says. Renjun has to do everything in his willpower to stop himself from smacking his own forehead, because of course. He should know by now to never trust Lee Donghyuck. "I was thinking."

 

"That's a terrifying sentence."

 

Donghyuck doesn't stop smiling, though there's a nervous glint behind his eyes. He's not a good actor — his emotions often play across his face like a movie, and Renjun catches them here, too. Some kind of hesitation. That vulnerability that he would rather pretend doesn't exist

 

"Don't be mean. It's about Don't Need Your Love."

 

Renjun doesn't know why he feels the nerves explode in his stomach. Maybe it's Donghyuck's tone of voice. Maybe it's the way this entire thing has been keeping him up at night. Maybe it's the expectations for him to act so fucking intimate with his best friend on a stage in front of five thousand people. Maybe it's the frustration that for all his idol training and all their fucking flirting and the way the chemistry between him and Donghyuck is electric — that he still can't fucking do this.

 

Maybe it's that hivemind thing. Renjun has an inkling of what goes on in Donghyuck's brain, and suddenly he wants nothing to do with it.

 

"What?" he asks, trying to keep his voice neutral. Donghyuck's still lying on his side on Johnny's bed, staring straight at Renjun. The cool lights of their various electronic appliances wink in the low light of the room behind him, and the fans of his computer hum in a low whirr, white noise that adds to the muffled bass of whatever sad song Doyoung is looping filtering through the wall.

 

"Well. I thought. For the whole getting used to being — you know. Like that with each other. I had an idea."

 

"Again, terrifying sentence."

 

"Ha ha," Donghyuck says. His voice has gone flat but there's still a quiver in it, like the last note of vibrato as he's trying not to burst into tears.

 

Though somehow Renjun is pretty sure Donghyuck isn't going to cry right now.

 

"Okay. Get it over with them. Your great idea that absolutely isn't stupid as fuck"

 

"Why are you so relentlessly mean to me?"

 

"You like it. Keeps you humble."

 

Donghyuck wrinkles his nose and shakes his hair out, reaching up to brush the strands that fall down away from his eyes. "Whatever. Maybe I should have got Jaemin to do it. He'd be better than you."

 

"Hey," Renjun says. He knows it's a bait, but he'll rise to that bait every time. They all work hard to be here, but Renjun's sick of being pushed to the back. Centre time is centre time — especially something as pivotal as this. A song they've never performed live — choreo they've never performed live. "Fuck you. Tell me."

 

"Well—" Donghyuck starts, his tongue darting out to lick at his lips… 

 

*

 

"This is stupid," Renjun says. "Absolutely stupid."

 

"Come on." Donghyuck rolls his eyes and pats the bed beside him. Renjun had been right to be wary of Donghyuck, because frankly the idea he has is ludicrous — like something from one of those seedy videos that Jaemin liked to watch so much. "It's not like we're going to be the first. We're pretty much the last, if you think about it. Everyone watches porn together. SNSD did it. Jeno and Mark share porn all the time. Even Doyoung and Taeyong—"

 

"Please shut up," Renjun says. There's a blush creeping up his neck, a warmth he can feel spreading like a brushfire across his skin. "Please just shut up. This is so stupid. I'm amending my statement. All I'm doing is staring you in the eyes. I don't know why it needs to be sexy. I don't know how this will even help."

 

"Think about it like this," Donghyuck says. He's holding a USB stick in his hand — one apparently filled with videos downloaded from Jeno's hard drive. He really hopes it isn't any of Jaemin's hentai. "Not only can we learn something, but if you can take me seriously while watching porn, then surely it'll work on stage, right?"

 

"This is stupid," Renjun repeats. He thinks if he says it enough then maybe he'll feel a lot less self conscious.

 

It's not like he's never seen porn before. They all have, of course. There's a reason why Jeno's room is so popular, and it's because for a long time he'd been the only one of them with the sense to pay for a damn VPN. Now the entire dorm shares one (the perks being that they're not basically broadcasting to each other when it's time for them to jerk off).

 

He wonders if 127 has the same situation, and then feels sorry for the tenth floor. He's never been up there (Mark won't let him), but Donghyuck has told him it smells like the uncleaned back of an earring and crusty gym socks, and that's enough for him to fill in the rest of the dots.

 

Anyway. Donghyuck has very clearly planned this. He has a USB stick filled with porn to watch with Renjun, like that's completely normal, and he'd brought him here, to his conveniently empty dorm (Doyoung had just left a few minutes ago, the music turning off and not a single goodbye issued). And he'd proposed this.

 

Renjun wonders who had the idea — if Donghyuck had come up with it himself. It reeks of his madcap line of thought, and if it was directed at anyone else Renjun would almost be proud. Right now though? He has very little pride. Mostly just anxiety.

 

"Renjun," Donghyuck says. The nerves are leaking through. He's fidgeting with the sheets, fingers twitching uncontrollably. "We both look like we're being waterboarded when we try it so... just come here? We can turn it off if it's too uncomfortable."

 

Renjun swallows hard.

 

"Fine," he says.

 

*

 

Thankfully they don't use Donghyuck's stupidly large screen. Donghyuck has his old laptop (that's too shitty to run any games on above a slideshow frame rate) and they sit there knee to knee on Donghyuck's bed as they wait for its painfully slow boot time. Donghyuck keeps bouncing his knee and Renjun covers it with his hand eventually, worried a little for how much he's shaking the computer — like its old hard drive might give out at any moment from the earthquake levels of movement he's putting it through.

 

"Sorry," Donghyuck says.

 

"It's okay. Just don't blame me. It was your stupid idea."

 

Donghyuck laughs. "I'm still going to blame you."

 

Renjun digs his fingers into Donghyuck's knee and receives an elbow in the side in return, Donghyuck's leg flailing and almost sending his laptop flying. He lets out a rather unbecoming squeal and it's Renjun's turn to laugh at him. The whole exchange effectively lightens the mood in the room, though by the time Donghyuck has the folder brought up on screen it's turned heavier again. His mouse hovers over a video with a blurry thumbnail and a jumble of numbers and letters as a name.

 

"Please don't judge me," Donghyuck says as he clicks on it. "This is not my usual taste in porn."

 

Renjun thinks to make a snarky remark, but the butterflies in his stomach explode and he swallows it whole.

 

*

 

In all honesty, it isn't the most awkward thing Renjun's ever done — though it certainly comes very close. Donghyuck keeps glancing nervously towards him and Renjun has to shift slightly to hide the fact that his dick is kind of hard and at one point he sees Donghyuck hasn't even looked at the screen for a full ten seconds — he's just staring at Renjun. Renjun tries to keep his gaze as forward as possible, tries to focus on the very detailed oral sex going on right now — the sound of someone gagging on cock.

 

He wonders what Donghyuck sounds like with a cock in his mouth, then immediately chases the thought out of his brain. Now is really not the fucking time.

 

About five minutes in (five minutes that literally feels like an entire lifetime. God. Renjun is aroused and he's trying not to think about Donghyuck sitting right beside him but it's really god damn hard) and Donghyuck hits pause.

 

"This is weird," he says. He shifts awkwardly, bringing his legs together and drawing his laptop closer to his stomach.

 

"I told you it was a stupid idea," Renjun says. "God forbid you actually listen to me." There's no bite to the words, and he falls silent after.

 

"Shut up," Donghyuck says. "I never have stupid ideas."

 

He's uncomfortably aware of how warm Donghyuck's thigh is where it presses against his own. "Then what was this?"

 

"A good idea. C'mon. The actual choreo can't be more awkward than this, right? It's working."

 

Renjun laughs. "We'll see about that tomorrow."

 

Donghyuck sighs and flops backwards, spreading his arms out above his head and drawing in a big breath. "I hate this," he shouts. "It's so fucking stupid!"

 

Renjun reaches over to poke his cheek and Donghyuck swats him away, then lets out a groan. There's a few seconds of silence that are filled by the whirr of Donghyuck's poor old laptop sounding like it's two seconds away from overheating, and then Donghyuck flops again, like a fish out of water.

 

"Just smother me. Replace me with Jaemin. I don't fucking know. I don't care."

 

"It's okay," Renjun reassures him. He reaches out and places a hand on Donghyuck's chest — feels the rise and fall of his ribcage beneath his touch. "You’re stupid, but we still have time."

 

Donghyuck turns his head and gives him a thin lipped smile. Sure, it seems to say. If you say so.

 

*

 

It doesn't work. Donghyuck cups his cheek and Renjun sees something flash through his eyes — amusement? Fear? Nervousness? He can barely read it before Donghyuck is laughing, turning his face away and blaming Renjun for making a stupid face at him again.

 

It's not really funny anymore.

 

*

 

"Have you guys actually done that right once?" Jaemin asks.

 

"No," Renjun says. They're back in the dorm — Renjun's just come back from the TBS studio, and he's flopped on the couch. Jisung and Chenle have taken over Jaemin's room and Jaemin is sulking — again. He kicks his foot out and Renjun catches it, twisting it around until Jaemin starts to flail like a crocodile in a death roll.

 

"Leave me alone," Jaemin says. He pounces, smothering Renjun in a hug, and Renjun plays it off until Jaemin is actually sitting comfortable — chin tucked against him, arms wrapped around him. He lets out a low whine and rubs his cheek against Renjun's head.

 

"Seems like I'm not the only one with problems."

 

It's really not hard to guess. Chenle and Jeno have all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop — every day it feels like the rest of them are flipping a coin on catching the two of them making out — and of course this just puts Jaemin more on edge. It's like a feedback loop. Jaemin gets snappy. Chenle goes to Jeno for relief. Jaemin sulks — and it all repeats again, Renjun powerless to do anything but watch his best friends' relationship become more and more twisted.

 

"I don't wanna talk about it," Jaemin says. "It's fucking stupid."

 

"And my thing isn't?"

 

"At least yours is about work."

 

Renjun sighs. Jaemin has a point. Renjun, at least, can be justified in his frustrations. But despite what SM wants them to believe, they've learned time and time that the off stage bleeds into the onstage. If Jaemin can't reign himself in — wrap himself in that ironclad persona that honestly sometimes freaks Renjun out — then they're on track for disaster. 

 

Jaemin is a comforting presence against him, at least. Always so cuddly. So warm, ready to cling to him and keep him company. "Sure. It's just that it's Donghyuck."

 

“And what does that mean?”

 

"Would you be able to do it if it was you and Jeno?" Renjun asks.

 

Jaemin scoffs. "Yeah, no problem.”

 

There’s a pause. Jaemin hums, something low that builds to a crescendo then drops off as he digs his chin a little more into Renjun's shoulder. "If it was Chenle though?" he sighs. "I don't know."

 

*

 

The lights have faded and the sun has set — outside the windows sky is inky blue, streaked with the last flames of daylight, traffic lights and office windows dotted across the horizon. The traffic crawls slowly and the blinds are half open, affording Renjun a half and half vista of friday night Seoul.

 

The city is beautiful. She always has been. A rainbow of neon lights reflected in the raindrops sliding down the plastic webbing of school kids' umbrellas, businessmen with bulging briefcases, office workers lighting cigarettes and chatting while they stare at their phones. A car blows through the red light and a chorus of horns sounds and Renjun looks away — back towards the inside of the room, back to where Donghyuck is stretching under the fluorescent lights.

 

Donghyuck and his million reflections — all of them turning to Renjun in that moment. Everyone else has gone elsewhere — to take a break, to eat at the cafe, to fuck around in one of the rec rooms. Jaemin, Jisung and Jeno are on V LIVE and Chenle is god knows where — maybe gone home, but more likely playing video games in one of the music rooms or still practicing.

 

It's just the two of them.

 

They still haven’t gotten the move right. The choreographer has modified it — just their hands on each other’s shoulders now. Just a quick glance. It’s doable — but doable has never been good enough. They're both determined to get it right, like their utter failure is a challenge thrown down, one they both rise to in unspoken agreement. They have to get it right. There’s no other option.

 

The opening notes of the song sound again but neither of them move. Donghyuck is still staring at Renjun — his face carefully schooled into something neutral.

 

"What?" Renjun says. The AC has just kicked in and there's a warm breeze circulating through the room. Donghyuck laughs.

 

"Nothing. Just you gazing out the window like you're some character in a drama."

 

"Oh, ha ha," Renjun says. He slides across the floor, footsteps a dull thud. "Let me be melodramatic for a bit, please."

 

Donghyuck starts to go through the choreography — just a half hearted interpretation. "You're always melodramatic."

 

Renjun joins him with a roll of the eyes.

 

The runthrough is fine. They both know the song to the point of doing it in their sleep, but it's always the end, isn't it? It's the both of them stepping towards each other. Donghyuck's hand comes up and cups his face and Renjun does the same. His skin is hot beneath his palm and his eyes burn a hole in him and — Renjun's thought of this for a while, and maybe it's time. Maybe it's time for him to be stupid.

 

He thinks — and he’ll never admit this — that Donghyuck might have had the right idea with the porn. There’s something lacking there — an it factor. 

 

Renjun takes one more step than he needs to, straight up into Donghyuck’s personal space. He digs his thumb into his cheekbone and then does possibly the stupidest fucking thing of his life: he kisses him.

 

Donghyuck lets out a noise of surprise — a tiny squeak as he stiffens up. His grip on Renjun's face tightens, and for a second Renjun thinks he's made a terrible mistake — that Donghyuck might hate him, that he's ruined everything, that they should just bring Jaemin in instead — before his other hand comes up to wind around the back of Renjun's neck and Donghyuck melts into it.

 

It's nothing like the first time they kissed. The first time they kissed, in turn, had been different from every other person Renjun had kissed (which was admittedly a small amount). The first time they kissed Renjun had been drinking and laughing and Donghyuck had been teasing Jeno all night and it had been kind of messy and more humorous than anything — in the way that kissing your best friend was. There'd been no undercurrent, no need to try to make it anything more than a kiss between friends. A dare at a party, Mark shouting 'oh no', Chenle screaming with his hands over his eyes. Jaemin's raucous laughter.

 

It was funny. It was silly.

 

This is nothing like that. There's a year between then and now — there's no-one else here. There's music playing in the background and they're both sober and sweaty and Donghyuck's lips taste like salt and his hand tightens in his hair and there's an explosion of sparks in Renjun's stomach. Something that comes rushing up through his throat as Donghyuck closes the distance between their bodies — pulling them flush against each other.

 

Every single time Renjun's thought about kissing Donghyuck flashes through his mind. All the absent minded ideas — when Donghyuck gets a little too close to him on camera, when they're play fighting and he breathes in his face. When they're being competitive and Donghyuck shoves him up against a wall — when Renjun does the same back.

 

When Donghyuck is just talking and he looks back at Renjun with that wicked smile on his face — like Renjun is the only thing that ever mattered.

 

It's just the way they are. They're best friends. Donghyuck is kissy and flirty and Renjun likes to play obtuse — likes to pretend he doesn't care — but he knows the best of all of them that he really does. It's the best way to wind Donghyuck up, though. Always has been. When the master flirter flirts with you, you flirt back. When you can't create convincing sexual tension between each other?

 

You kiss him.

 

Donghyuck sighs into the kiss and something molten explodes within Renjun. Something collapsing inside of him — a barrier he'd built up. He fists a hand in Donghyuck's hair and holds him close, deepening the kiss, opening his mouth up and breathing in the gasp Donghyuck lets out. It’s so fucking good — it sears across Renjun’s senses, it makes him want to go feral. Something howls inside of him and he never wants to leave — if this is a dream he never wants to wake up. He chases Donghyuck, drawing a strange sound from his throat, and when they break apart it’s with a disgustingly wet noise. 

 

The ensuing eye contact is charged, crackling like the air before a lightning storm. They’re both panting and the song has looped around once — almost twice.

 

"Well," Donghyuck says. His cheeks are flushed and his eyes have a strange glint in them. Renjun takes a step back and lets go of Donghyuck's face, and Donghyuck does the same. "Well, we are not doing that on stage."

 

Renjun laughs. The dark cloud in his stomach dissipates  "Come on, it'd be fun."

 

Donghyuck grins. "I know you like being the center of attention, but that's a bit too much even for you."

 

"Maybe I've changed. Maybe all this concert practice has done a number on me."

 

"And that's why you kissed me?"

 

Renjun feels his cheeks heat up. "Yeah. Getting delirious."

 

Donghyuck quirks his lips — one of those smug smiles like he's got what he wanted. "We should probably go delete the security footage."

 

Shit. Renjun hadn't thought of that. Sometimes it's useful having the cameras running constantly — they can review their moves if they keep messing something up, they can film videos for the channel easily enough. When it comes to something like this, though...

 

"Though," Donghyuck continues, "if we're gonna go have to get the file deleted, why not put a bit more on there."

 

Renjun doesn't even argue — he just grips Donghyuck’s biceps and pulls their bodies flush together, digging his fingers into his muscles and kissing him again.

 

*

 

"Fucking finally!"

 

Jaemin throws his hands up in the air and starts to cheer, dancing on the spot and spinning in circles as Renjun breaks into a grin. The last few notes of Don't Need Your Love fade out and he drops his hand from Donghyuck's face and turns to Jaemin, ready to beat him with whatever object is nearest (in this hand it's a fold out chair that Jisung has conveniently just vacated).

 

Behind him, Donghyuck starts to laugh.

 

They’d managed to get it right last night — some time after Renjun had ended up backing Donghyuck into the mirrors and kissing him until he was breathless. At that point the sun had fully set and Renjun had pulled the blinds down, wary of any fan who might be trying to peek into the practice room. It took another few run throughs of the song — the first time they’d actually tried to seriously Renjun had abused his newfound power to kiss Donghyuck until they were both gasping. The second time he’d broken out into giggles as Donghyuck had made a kissy face at him — but the third time it had worked. And the fourth. And the fifth. 

 

The relief had been palpable. It had left the both of them giddy and giggling as they’d gone to delete the camera footage. Donghyuck’s touch had burned into the small of his back and they’d crashed the end of the V LIVE in high spirits, interrupting one of Jaemin’s disgustingly aegyo filled rants and causing his persona to crack for just a second as he’d regarded them — eyebrows raised, smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

 

Getting it right then and getting it right now is completely different. 

 

It’s the best feeling in the fucking world. Jeno congratulates them — Chenle hanging off him with his arms around his waist — and Renjun laughs, and when he turns around to see Donghyuck wearing a smug smile he feels something better than a thousand camera flashes, something better than winning all the awards in the industry. He feels a challenge issued. A challenge issued and won.

 

Bet you couldn’t do it, it says. Renjun smirks at him.

 

Watch me try.

 

*

 

Everything comes to fruition where the crowd can see them. It's all choreographed, of course. Something to tantalise — to fill their ears with shrill shrieks and make the fans’ hearts flutter. 

 

Donghyuck cups his cheek and stares directly into his eyes, just as Renjun does the same. His thumb presses into his cheekbone and he sends fire, sees it reflected in Donghyuck's eyes. It's a challenge — the same one in the practice room — and if Renjun's one thing he's a fighter.

 

‘I'll make you quiver,’ he thinks. 

 

They’ve haven’t fucked it up since they first kissed, and they don’t fuck it up here. 

 

The crowd screams and Renjun tries not to smile. He can’t break character — not yet. They still have a concert to perform.

 

*

 

"Come on," Donghyuck says. He puffs out his cheeks and pouts at Renjun — the start of his signature aegyo. Renjun just mimics him.

 

They're backstage between costume changes, all the coordi noonas fluttering around them with makeup brushes and hairspray, trying to fix the birds nest Renjun's hair has become, checking on the plaster above his eye and mopping up the sweat coating his brow. There's at least three hand fans pointed at him and the cool breeze is a welcome distraction from the sheer heat in the arena — on stage it's suffocating, backstage there's nowhere to go and it's even worse.

 

"Come on what?" Renjun asks, pulling his shirt over his head and taking a considerably drier one from a staff member.

 

"What use was all that practice? You're not even trying?"

 

Renjun aims an elbow for his naked ribs, laughing when the blow connects. In retaliation Donghyuck reaches over to pinch his nipple, a move Renjun dodges with a twist, his hip bumping into one of the tables with a loud thud.

 

"Can you two behave for once in your life?" Jaemin asks, practically shouting over the scream of the crowd outside. He looks hilarious — standing in his underwear with his jacket half open and his monitor belt still clipped around his waist, hands on his hips and hair stuck up at weird angles as one of the coordis (far shorter than him) stands on a step stool to fix his fringe.

 

They both answer in unison — a very resounding, very sure 'no'.

 

*

 

It comes to fruition in front of the crowd — but that’s not where this story ends.

 

It's not even close.

 

They do well all three days. Everyone is talking about it (when they're not talking about Jeno ripping his shirt open, anyway). It's a nice little bonus for Renjun's ego — though nothing is as much of a bonus as after the concert when Donghyuck leads him down the hall to a dingy closet that Renjun's pretty sure hasn't been used this century. It's musty and filled with old costume jackets that look like rejects from Power Rangers, and when Donghyuck slips in behind him and shuts the door he plunges the room into a temporary darkness.

 

There's a scrambling sound as Donghyuck fumbles the light switch and then a camera flash burst of white sears across Renjun’s retinas.

 

"Ow," he mumbles, shielding his eyes. He only has a few seconds to think about it — because Donghyuck is on him. He crosses the few steps between them and pushes Renjun into the mess of jackets hanging against the wall. There's a clatter of coat hangers hitting the floor and Donghyuck's hand is in his hair, the stage high singing through his veins.

 

Renjun gasps. He's felt it before, of course — the adrenaline that pumps through his blood like a drug, the giddy high that circles through his senses, the kick of heartbeat, a rhythm set to the roar of the crowd — but it's never been like this. From the second they dropped from the sky to the very last notes of Beautiful Time, and everything in between. It's the culmination of everything that's happened these past few days. This past month. All this prep — these past three years. It all leads up to this.

 

Donghyuck's kisses sear into him and the screams still echo in his ears. His body responds without thought, arching towards him, hands coming up to grasp at Donghyuck's shirt. He's covered in sweat and Renjun is sticky and gross and he doesn't care. He doesn't fucking care — he doesn't care that it would be gross in another circumstance. He's on fire and he's alive — five thousand people had screamed his name, and right now Huang Renjun is on top of the fucking world.

 

There's little finesse in this moment. Anyone could come in at any second — someone is looking for them, surely. But it makes it better. The rush, the thrill that they could be discovered at any moment. Donghyuck drops to his knees and his fingers fumble with Renjun's zipper — and before Renjun can even say anything — before he can tell Donghyuck how hot he looks like this — Donghyuck has his cock in his mouth.

 

The noise Renjun makes is unholy. It's high pitched, sucked through his aching lungs. Donghyuck's mouth is hot and wet and he looks absolutely obscene with his lips wrapped around his cock. He looks absolutely fucking sinful as he stares up at Renjun, bobbing his head, one hand wrapped around Renjun’s thigh and the other circling the base of his cock. Renjun’s pretty sure he’ll never forget it for as long as he lives — not the sight, not the way it feels. 

 

It doesn't take much for Renjun — already so high strung from the performance — to come. For him to gasp, his knees buckling as he spills into Donghyuck's mouth. Donghyuck drinks it all down, but he can still taste it in his mouth when he kisses him — a bitterness that lingers as he fumbles to tuck him back into his jeans.

 

"C'mon," Donghyuck says, tugging his shirt as he pulls him back into the bare concrete hall. Renjun is dizzy, like he's breathing at high altitude, and Donghyuck gives him a coy smile as he walks back towards their dressing rooms. "Before anyone notices."

 

*

 

Someone notices. 

 

Someone always notices. Someone noticed the first time they kissed in the practice room and someone noticed when Donghyuck asked Renjun back to the dorm the second time. It's a different person each time and each of them will think nothing of it — they’ll go on unaware that they hold a single puzzle piece that together might solve this. 

 

This time it's Chenle that notices. He sees the droop of Renjun's eyelids, the way he clings to Donghyuck. His hand on the small of his back. The high flush of his cheeks. He's always been an observant little shit — it's something Renjun understands well. The kind of innate thing you learn when you don't understand the language being spoken around you — you learn to read bodies instead. 

 

Chenle's been doing it since he was a child. As an idol, it's no different. Donghyuck leaves to have his makeup taken off and Chenle bumps into Renjun, knocking him off kilter then grinning at him. They're not as close as they used to be, but Renjun will always be fond of Chenle — he'll always admire him. 

 

Even if he's breaking his best friend's heart.

 

"You're not shaking anymore," Chenle says. He's shirtless, hand fan pointed at his face, cloth and heating pads stuck to his various injuries and aching muscles. He gives Renjun a once over and raises his eyebrows. 

 

"What?" Renjun asks. The high still surges within him, but it seems that his post orgasmic glow is feeding off it, and Chenle is right — his hands are steady. 

 

Chenle smiles at him. "Nothing, hyung," he says. His eyes flick down and he lets out a little laugh. "Your fly is down, though." 

 

*

 

Chenle pulls his shirt back on and they take the end of show pictures and a staff member comes around to check Renjun's plaster on his eyebrow ("I'm fine.") and by the time they're all piled into the van (Chenle and Jeno going separate — holy fuck, Renjun thinks. Holy fuck, no wonder Jaemin is miserable) Donghyuck seems calmer, too. He rests his hand on Renjun's knee but they don't talk on the ride back — no-one does, really. Jisung has his eyes shut and Jaemin's music is so loud that Renjun can hear it bleeding through his earphones. His ears are ringing and tiredness settles at his bones and he doesn't know when he falls asleep — only that they’re at the dorm when Donghyuck shakes him awake.

 

"You look cute when you're asleep, but I don't think manager hyung would appreciate having to wait until you wake up," he says. Renjun chooses to ignore the first half of the sentence, elbowing Donghyuck and shaking off the last shackles of his dreams as he climbs out of the van.

 

"You staying over tonight?" heasks. The light pollution is so strong there's not a single star in the sky, but the moon is bright and clear, the rainclouds from earlier mostly faded. Donghyuck looks pretty in its light — silver and neon cut across his soft cheeks like brushstrokes on a canvas. 

 

"If that's okay?" 

 

Renjun shrugs. "Is Chenle?" 

 

"Yeah. He and Jeno got back a few minutes ago." 

 

Great. Jaemin is going to be intolerable. "Yeah. It's fine." 

 

"Thanks for the permission." 

 

"Pretty sure it's my bed you're sleeping in," Renjun says. "Unless you like the couch." 

 

*

 

Renjun brims with energy and Donghyuck follows, sticking to him like he's a fly caught in honey. Everyone else is in the lounge, and this time it’s Jeno that notices — his eyes meeting Donghyuck’s and his head tilting to the side like a curious puppy as Renjun congratulates them on the concert.

 

"Donghyuck's tired," Renjun says. "We're gonna call an early night."

 

Jaemin looks back at the pair of them and raises his eyebrows. "When did you two get attached at the hip?"

 

"Have you not being paying attention the past two years?" Chenle asks, laughing. He's resting his head on Jeno's shoulder, grasping loosely at the sleeve of his hoodie. There's a casualness to the way they fit together — a softness. Jaemin gives him a glance and his entire face twists — just for a fraction of a second, so small Renjun is pretty sure he's the only one who caught it.

 

"Take care, then," Jaemin says. The words carry a bitter edge, and he turns away, looking back to the TV. "I'll probably sleep soon, too."

 

The ensuing pause settles on them like a heavy blanket, suffocating and thick. They all shift in their seats, eyes dancing around the room — before Chenle (always Chenle. Again, that innate ability to just know when disaster is coming) starts to poke fun at Jisung crying on stage, and everything seems to kick back into motion.

 

"That was awkward," Donghyuck says, as they slip down the hall together.

 

"Trust me," Renjun says. "I know.”

 

Jaemin is clingy at the best of times, but ever since his injury — ever since the fear of losing everything he’d worked for had crept up on his mind like a rising tide — there’s been a desperation to the way he holds onto them all. He hates to be left out — he hates to drag behind — and more than anything he hates the jealousy that comes with it all. He’s already lost them once — there’s a true fear that he’ll lose them again. Combined with his best friend dating the boy he’s loved for the past year — it’s a recipe for disaster. 

 

It’s not Renjun’s job to solve it, but he’s under no illusion that it will knock everything off kilter if they keep ignoring it. 

 

Now, though. It’s not his problem. There’s a twinge in his stomach as he turns the lock of his door behind him, but it’s smoothed over when Donghyuck immediately pushes him up against the wood. His hands are in his hair and his mouth is on his and Renjun has a thousand snarky words he's happy to swallow in favour of kissing him. 

 

God. Every time he kisses Donghyuck he thinks it can’t get better than the last time, and every time he’s proven wrong. They’ve learned so much about each other and it’s still not enough — it’s still barely scratching the surface. When their lips touch it’s like a match has been lit — flames race across Renjun’s skin, and he’ll never get tired of being alight. The door thumps in the frame and Donghyuck laughs, glancing over Renjun’s shoulder like it will somehow reveal if anyone else is looking towards the room right now.

 

It doesn’t matter. They probably think it’s just Renjun — Renjun with a dancer’s grace who still manages to trip over his own feet when he’s pulling his pajama pants on — or Donghyuck play wrestling with him. Nothing of concern. Certainly not this — this escalation of what has always been a relationship of pushing each other’s limits.

 

Now it’s another limit being pushed — a limit that stretches further than any of them could even imagine. They haven’t found the edge yet, and every day they push further and further. That’s what Donghyuck had done backstage — he’d pushed — and now Renjun answers. He fists Donghyuck’s shirt in his hands and pulls at it — pulling it over his head and taking a second to take in the sight of him. It's something he's seen a hundred times, of course. They’ve all seen each other naked — shared a shower or bathed while someone else was brushing their teeth, got changed in the same room because when you live in close quarters with someone for four years you lose any semblance of shame — but as always there's a different energy here. It’s not a moment backstage at Inkigayo — this is Renjun's bedroom. This is something hanging in the air — a flavour Renjun's never tasted. Something newfound crackling between them.

 

Donghyuck isn’t like Jeno — he wasn't always this hot. He certainly hadn’t reached Jisung levels of awkward puberty (god, he’s never going to forgive that awful bowlcut), but there had been a bumbling youth to Donghyuck that had melted away as the years had passed.

 

Not that that had stopped Renjun from crushing on him when they'd first met. But that was neither here nor there. That was something so long ago, something Renjun had snuffed out before it had choked him. 

 

Back when they'd first met, when Donghyuck had seemed unattainable and invincible. Now he knows Donghyuck, knows his ins and outs, and a stupid crush he'd had when he was fifteen is all but forgotten. Now he has him in his hands, and he wants to take it all.

 

“Wait,” Donghyuck says, causing Renjun to pull back from going to attack his neck. 

 

He regards him with a cocked eyebrow. "Hmm?"

 

"Wait. What are — what are we doing?"

 

Something twists in Renjun's stomach, but he ignores it, swallowing his pride and ceasing his attempts to get his mouth on Donghyuck's skin. "I don't know. You're the one who blew me in a dressing closet."

 

Donghyuck makes a face. "You have a point." He steps away from Renjun, freeing him from the cage of his arms. Renjun, sensing this won’t be a quick conversation, takes the opportunity to flop down onto his bed and sprawl out on the covers.

 

"I often do,” he says. It's an odd reversal of the weeks before — Renjun on the bed instead of Donghyuck, though it's still Donghyuck trying to convince him of something. "Now what's so important that you had to blueball me to say it?"

 

"I just think..." he trails off, fiddling with the waistband of his jeans. Renjun thumps the bed beside him, throwing his head to the side and indicating for him to sit down. Donghyuck looks hesitant, but he follows. "I just think we should—” he sighs “—this is happening, right? This is something that's happening?"

 

"Be more specific."

 

"This," Donghyuck gestures between them. Renjun can’t help himself. Donghyuck looks good — hair mussed, eyeliner still lingering below his clear, dark eyes. He sits up and cups his jaw, pressing a long kiss to his lips that Donghyuck deepens with an unconscious ease. His hand threads through Renjun's hair and Renjun melts into him, mapping the expanse of his bare back with his free hand. Donghyuck is so lovely and responsive — there's no stiffness, no hesitation. 

 

It makes sense, he supposes, that if they work so well on the stage they'd work well like this too. 

 

They part with a wet smack, Renjun chasing up another kiss then swiping his fingers across Donghyuck's mouth. They come away wet and he realises how gross it is — but maybe it's worth it to feel Donghyuck's lips beneath his touch. "This?" he asks.

 

"Yeah," Donghyuck says. "This. I don't want to stumble headfirst into it. I want to — I need to know some things."

 

Renjun nods. He thinks he gets it. It’s a confirmation that this is not a one time thing to be forgotten once the stage high no longer sings — this is something enduring.  "So, we're doing this?"

 

"If you want to," Donghyuck swallows. "I know I want to."

 

It's oddly vulnerable. He supposes it has to be. Opening your body up to someone — opening your self up to someone. There has to be a rawness here, or this might never work. "Yeah. Me too."

 

"But," Donghyuck starts. He wraps his arms around his torso and Renjun tugs his blanket out from under him and throws it at him. Donghyuck laughs, shrugging it over his shoulders — though his face turns somber quickly. "Renjun, I'm serious about this. You know what happened with Mark, right?” 

 

Renjun knows the basics. Donghyuck and Mark had slept together. Mark had liked him. Something had happened, and their entire relationship had splintered down the center — breaking into a million tiny pieces that they’d never quite managed to repair. 

 

“Sort of,” Renjun says. Donghyuck sighs, looking up to the ceiling then giving him a tight-lipped smile.

 

“This happened. This happened, and there were feelings, and we kept going and I — I can’t have that happen again, Renjun. You're my best friend. I can't lose you. If there's feelings you have to tell me, okay? We have to stop this. If either of us gets feelings."

 

There’s an anguish in Donghyuck’s voice — mourning of the first true friend he’d ever had. Of the first boy who’d loved him. 

 

Renjun nods, swallowing around the lump in his throat. "Of course."

 

"Okay." Donghyuck lets out a long breath, his shoulders relaxing, a smile blooming across his face. It turns wicked as he shuffles up the bed, and when he deposits himself in Renjun's lap it’s devilish, so searing he can taste it in the kiss he plants on his lips. Donghyuck draws back, only a few centimeters, still so close that Renjun can feel his breath against his skin. "Now, where were we?"

 

“Kissing, I believe?”

 

“Mm, did you have anything else in mind?”

 

Renjun freezes. His heart thuds, and he thinks of the feeling of Donghyuck’s mouth around his cock again. “What were you thinking?”

 

See, here’s the thing — Renjun’s a virgin. Renjun’s never done anything more than kiss anyone. Donghyuck’s the first person that isn’t himself to touch his cock, and he’d be absolutely lying if he said he wasn’t completely out of his depth right now.

 

Lucky for him, then, that Donghyuck seems happy to lead. He kisses Renjun again, cupping one hand around the back of his head and reaching down to palm at his crotch with the other. “How’s this?” he murmurs. 

 

“Good.” 

 

Good god is it good. Donghyuck applies just enough pressure, gives just enough friction that it’s enough to not quite drive Renjun insane, that it’s enough to placate him while he explores his mouth. When he pulls back — again — his hands tag at Renjun’s clothes, and he undresses him, throwing his shirt on the floor, laughing when Renjun struggles with the belt of his jeans. When Renjun’s left sitting on the mattress in his underwear Donghyuck runs appraising eyes over him, and Renjun’s not sure if it’s the air — cool despite the underfloor heating running — or the fact that he’s being checked out by Donghyuck that causes goosebumps to spring up all over his skin. 

 

“God, you’re hot.”

 

The stage high is still there — a red hot heat in his blood — but there’s something else, too. Something new. Donghyuck’s eyes on him are better than all the spotlights in the world, and Renjun feels it roar within him. The way with which Donghyuck says it is nothing coy — nothing sly — just a raw want, and he can’t take it for long. He feels too exposed.  

 

“Come here,” Renjun says. Donghyuck laughs, just a puff of breath, but he listens. He drops back into Renjun’s lap and covers his mouth with his, and this time it sears. This time it’s hot and heavy. Renjun’s cock is so fucking hard that he’s absolutely sure he’s leaking precum all over his underwear — and maybe he should be ashamed considering he just came in Donghyuck’s mouth less than two hours ago — but he figures it’s not the time for shame. 

 

“Do you have lube?” Donghyuck says into his mouth. Renjun’s cheeks heat up and he shivers, bristling at the thought. 

 

“No,” he says, because why would he? 

 

“Suppose you’re not up for a special mission to steal Jeno’s?”

 

He’s not even going to question how Donghyuck knows Jeno has lube — now is really not the time. “I’m not going out there with a boner to get lube.”

 

Donghyuck chuckles. “It’s okay. I’ll still make it good.”

 

Renjun can’t help but feel shy when Donghyuck takes him out of his underwear — when he looks directly at Renjun’s cock as he circles his hand around it. Good god, Renjun’s so fucking hard it almost hurts, and the relief Donghyuck provides is enough that he can’t help but whimper. He knows he fucking shouldn’t — the walls in their dorm are stupid fucking thin — but he really can’t help himself.

 

Donghyuck removes his hand to spit on his palm, and then he’s back. He’s working at Renjun, swiping his thumb over the head of his dick, cupping his balls with his other hand, leaning in to press a kiss to his mouth. “How’s this?” he asks, and Renjun just gurgles. How does he even answer that? How can he — not past the sparks that are swarming in his mouth or the white roar in his ears. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

 

Renjun comes quickly — again. He stutters and gasps, watching the stroke of Donghyuck’s hand around him, aware of the tent in the front of Donghyuck’s pants. He looks up and meets his eyes and he can’t take it anymore — he tightens his fists in the sheets and spills all over Donghyuck’s hand, trying to bite back his moans the best he can.

 

Holy fuck. Holy fuck. The blowjob in the closet had seemed a dream, but this is searingly real. This is him in his bed, this is him in their dorm, everyone else a few doors away watching TV together. This is Donghyuck kissing him and then wiping Renjun’s cum on a tissue and throwing it away. 

 

“Good?” he asks. Renjun nods, not sure if his words will suffice. 

 

This is just the start.