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stars in our eyes

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Yeonjun knows they had both been feeling unsettled after being known past a couple of rock band groupies. Being perceivable to prying public eyes had meant that they couldn't act the same way they did before. Soobin never voiced it, as always, but Yeonjun could sense that something was off recently , in the way he would avoid eye contact whenever they were out in public, choosing to hang around Kai instead of Yeonjun. 

Yeonjun really doesn't know what suddenly washes over him, for him to drop all his bearings and urgently charge towards Soobin mid-performance, to nimbly crane his neck over Soobin's cymbals and capture his lips in a chaste kiss.

It could've been the adrenaline rush after executing a perfect guitar riff, and then turning back just to see Soobin's sweaty blue bangs sticking onto his forehead, eyes closed, hands gripping his drum sticks tightly while mouthing the lyrics of the song fervently like a prayer.

This is the first kiss they're sharing outside of the four walls of their practice room.

The initial touch of lips feels very different from what Yeonjun had spent multiple sleepless nights envisioning. There aren't any euphoric sparks lighting up the air, and instead he's left with just a sense of urgency that grips him alive. Kiss him, touch him, do anything, let it be known who Choi Soobin, face of TC Candler’s Top 100 Handsome Faces , belongs to—

Soobin's eyes shoot open, a gasp dying in his throat when he realises it's just Yeonjun.

And then he kisses back like the world is ending, his plush bottom lip pressing unforgivingly hard into Yeonjun's own. Around them, all he can hear are the deafening screams of the crowd, and somewhere along the way, Beomgyu blows a low whistle into the mic. 

Yeonjun's ear burns in shame once he realises what he's started—so he tries to pull away.

To no avail, as Soobin unexpectedly chases his lips—unconsciously or not, Yeonjun doesn't know—and lets go of his own drum sticks, in order to hold Yeonjun's head steady for him to insistently deepen the kiss.

Not knowing what to do, Yeonjun lets his body go limp and moans helplessly. He can't believe he's making out with Soobin, on the stage, of all places. Somehow, having the undivided attention of every single person around them just makes everything incorrigibly hotter.

When they pull apart, Yeonjun eyes the trail of spit that connects them.

"That was so fucking hot, what the hell, " Yeonjun shouts into Soobin's ear. Soobin simply gives him a smirk in reply, and his lipstick is smudged in a way that shoots immediately to Yeonjun's dick.

The tent in his pants doesn't die down even after their set ends.

 

 

The lie of a pipe dream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us,

drunk or sober.

 

 

The band was what came to be from a group of college students whose sustenance was cup ramyun littered with a mild adrenaline addiction—no more, no less. Always in the studio, they never knew when the sun made way for the moon, but remembered by heart the configuration of the wires they tiptoed around. 

They had nothing to lose then. Nothing to lose now. 

 

Yeonjun can’t recall exactly when the callouses started hardening and making themselves home on the pads of his fingertips, or the number of times he meticulously levelled the divots on his frets, or even when the rickety mic stand no longer extended past his shoulders. 

 

He remembers the first time he had met Soobin.

“We found a guy,” Beomgyu announced while dropping his electronic bass hard case unceremoniously on the floor. “Tall, handsome, doesn’t look like he’s touched a drum kit at all in his life—” 

They had been looking for a new drummer ever since Yeonjun got into a full out fist fight with Daehwi, reasons undisclosed. “Have you heard him play yet?” Yeonjun questioned. He watched as the display on his guitar tuner went from green to orange.

“Yes, and he’s like, crazy fucking good,” Taehyun replied instantly. Yeonjun’s ears perked in interest, as he trusted Taehyun’s acute judgment of personality and talent more than anyone in his life. 

Beomgyu pointed to the door of the studio. “We invited him. He’s actually outside right now.” 

As if on cue, Soobin popped his head through the door. Yeonjun hadn’t believed in love at first sight till Soobin stepped in with his backpack stationed on his front like a shield.

“Hi, I’m Choi Soobin. Eighteen years of age, three of which I spent playing the drum. First year, SNU.” His voice was low and steady. Yeonjun’s first impression of Soobin was that he radiated a type of innate confidence that was unique to him alone. 

He played a killer improv and wasn’t the least bit thrown off when Yeonjun started a random guitar riff. He instead shot Yeonjun a casual grin in acknowledgement as he adjusted his tempo. Kind of like a challenge, which Yeonjun immediately took upon himself to throw in fancier improvs he’d never thought of conjuring.

“Wow.” He could see the stars sparkling in Beomgyu’s eyes, when they finally stopped. Even Taehyun was left gawking in awe. As for Yeonjun, he was left with goosebumps after playing with someone else for the first time in his life. The pads of his fingertips ached from the force of pressing down on his strings so hard, also a first in a while. 

In other words, Soobin was perfect. Exactly what the band needed.

 

After Soobin, shortly came Kai Kamal Huening, another overgrown human being with shoulders way too wide for his age. Soobin had explained that he had  “picked Kai up during our days of private music enrichment classes in middle school”, which made Yeonjun wonder how rich both their families were, and why they left it all behind to join this no-name band Yeonjun founded.

While Soobin had been quiet and withdrawn for the most part, Kai brought life and laughter wherever he went. Their presence breathed a new life into the band’s dynamic, which left Yeonjun feeling like a proud dad. 

When he brought that up one day, Taehyun replied with pure disdain, “The implication here is that you want to bang one of your sons, technically.”

“No.” Yeonjun was extremely disgusted by the revelation. 

Soobin chose that very moment to walk in the room to show off a new leather jacket that looked way too good on him. Taehyun was right, Yeonjun wanted to bang him. So much, in fact, that Yeonjun had to force himself to tear his eyes off Soobin. He pointedly ignored the knowing look Taehyun gave him.

 

First dry run as five, Wooyoung’s birthday party. Yeonjun had accidentally knocked out the front row of Mingi’s teeth with his guitar headstock when the taller male had drunkenly tried to sprawl over him. It ended with Soobin apologising profusely to the birthday boy in Yeonjun’s stead (“I’m not going to apologise, my baby got hurt too!” Yeonjun had whined to the rest of them.) which led to Kai dancing silly on the mahogany dining table in a desperate attempt to lift the mood. 

The verdict: time to get covered by public liability insurance, which was pretty much the antithesis of rock ‘n’ roll’s outlaw spirit. Yeonjun wasn’t too happy about it, but all his protests died in his throat once Soobin shoved the paper in his face and stated matter-of-factly, “Insurance is a prerequisite for touring. Now, sign it.” Yeonjun decided that lawyer was a good look on him. 

 

First gig, Beomgyu designed their band logo and pasted it on Soobin’s drum prior. Tomorrow X Together. The holographic finish of the sticker stuck out like a sore thumb under the colourful flashing lights of the swampy bar’s stage. 

“Oh my god. To think that I birthed this baby,” Yeonjun mock-cried, cradling the pedalboard in his arms when he saw it for the first time. “With my child-birthing hips that never lie.”

“You deserve it,” Taehyun replied simply.

They ended the night with twenty names on the clipboard for their official mailing list. For what Yeonjun called a tiny success, Beomgyu exaggerated and announced an impromptu house party to celebrate their official debut.

 

First time Yeonjun knew that Soobin was the one for him, they sneaked out of practice to secretly have honey chicken wings in Soobin’s room. 

“I don’t understand why we’re sneaking out,” Soobin whispered as Yeonjun led him out of the rundown building hurriedly. “We could’ve just let them know that we’re leaving.”

“Taehyun knows too much,” Yeonjun replied and made a turn at an alley. The smell of fried chicken, synonym for serotonin, wafted through the air. “I want it to be just us.”

Soobin hummed, naturally taking Yeonjun’s hand in his own as he made a beeline for the chicken store. In the chilly December air, his cheeks were flushed a pretty pink. The lights from the city scape around them highlighted the prominent cupid’s bow of his upper lip. Yeonjun had wished desperately to be the one to kiss it. 

So he did, later in Soobin’s room when they were watching some lousy rendition of Bad Day. Soobin had kissed him back timidly while they shared giddy giggles. 

 

In hindsight, Yeonjun realises he had been silly to think that success would come easy. Of course it hadn’t, much like everything else in life. 

 

“We’re gonna make it big, you know?” Soobin reassures him by licking a stripe along the skin on his neck, “Can’t you picture it already? The crowd fervently cheering for an encore?”

“Such big words,” Yeonjun laughs. “Foreplay really can’t get any more ambitious than this.”

Soobin isn’t laughing, though. “You should know that I’m serious, hyung.” 

Yeonjun sighs. He slightly unlatches himself from where he was caged in Soobin's embrace. "We've been humming the same tune for the past two and a half years, Soobin-ah. I'm just starting to think we're overdue."

"Do you actually really want that?" Soobin pauses his ministrations on Yeonjun’s neck to peel back and gaze at him questioningly. “A cookie cutter life?”

Yeonjun envisions a life where he and Soobin weren’t constantly on the move in their little camper van. If Soobin hadn't dropped out of college in his 2nd year, he could've well been on the fast-track to a Doctorate in Child Psychology, and they would’ve been comfortable enough to live a quaint life in a quiet city. As for himself, though—

It dawns upon him that he has spent such a large majority of his formative years on the band—perfecting his guitar riffs, finding his musical voice, and the like, that doing something else has never once crossed his mind.

At this point, it occurs to him that Soobin probably understands him way better than he understands himself.

"Ignore me," he starts, as he buries his head in the warmth of Soobin's neck, and Soobin's sweet, vanilla scent fills him up, which nulls the dull ache in his heart. "I'm sorry—I don't know where that came from."

"Don't sweat it, hyung." He feels Soobin lift a hand up to cradle his head affectionately, body automatically swaying in a rocking motion, a habit he has yet to kick even though his nephew is already four years old now.

 

("I'm an uncle now," Soobin chatters excitedly, once Yeonjun accepts his Facetime call, cheeks flushed with his bangs plastered onto his forehead.

Yeonjun breaks into a grin, coos in the babiest voice he can muster,  "Congratulations, Soobin-ah." It has been nine months since Soobin started casting his responsibilities aside in favour of typing "How to be an uncle for first timers" into the Naver search bar. Yeonjun is kind of glad to have his boyfriend back again.

"I held it—him, I mean," Soobin continues. "I can't wait to introduce you to him, I had a chance to hold him earlier and he just felt so fucking small in my hands and it kind of freaked me out—hyung! Are you listening?"

"What will you introduce me as?" Yeonjun can't help but quietly ask.

He watches attentively as a pretty blush starts to make itself known on Soobin's face through the grainy phone screen. He replies, "Junnie-samchon. Binnie-samchon 's boyfriend."

"I love you so fucking much, you know that?" Yeonjun almost sobs into the call.

He schedules to meet Soobin's nephew in a month, just to check if he had inherited the Choi Family's trademark cheek dimples. He then wonders what Soobin's own kin would look like, a thought he immediately shoves into the recesses of his mind, sealed in a box never to be opened again.)

 

“Don’t you regret it?” Yeonjun sniffles. “Being with me. I’m never going to bear you any children. Among other things.”

"I already have one big baby kitten right here who's enough of a handful. Doubt I can handle more." Soobin replies teasingly. 

That's just one trait out of many when it comes to Soobin that Yeonjun will never be able wrap his head around: how he always remains so grounded like the roots of a thousand year old ginkgo tree, even while everything around him (the embodiment of impulse, Choi Yeonjun) falls into calamity.

Soobin splays his impossibly huge hands flat over the span of Yeonjun’s stomach, prominent veins running up the length of his forearm, which makes Yeonjun briefly wonder how they would feel under his own fingers—so he traces a map along the bluish green of Soobin’s wiry arm.

Yeonjun lets his fingers travel up, up, up... until they habitually cup the unblemished skin of Soobin’s cheek. His face is unreadable. Yet, his hand steadies Yeonjun’s thundering heart like the unwavering beat of his drum.

Soobin leans in to kiss Yeonjun like a silent oath, that their names will always go together—best friends, sometimes lovers, an inseparable musical duo.



Yeonjun realised pretty early into their relationship that what Soobin wants, he gets. For someone who spoke only when necessary, Soobin had an uncanny ability of persuading others to do his bidding. 

It came as no surprise to him when news arrived that Soobin had gone ahead and secured their first overseas gig for them, a "destination wedding" off the coasts of Bali, at one of the lush and verdant Aman properties. 



Soft hair and a velvet tongue, I want to give to you what you give to me. 

Every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me.   

 

That was two years ago. 

Since then, they’ve logged extensive travel mileage throughout their career as Tomorrow X Together. 

 

When they arrive in a grimy motel located in the outskirts of Yonsan-gu, it’s in a blurred flurry of muffled giggles, intertwined fingers, puckered lips on cheeks—pure, unbridled happiness threatening to bubble its way out of Yeonjun’s chest.

By the time Yeonjun is successful in haphazardly kicking his worn-out pair of Converse sneakers off, Soobin and his long, gangly arms have already snaked up from behind to lock him in an embrace. It’s way too tight for comfort, and Yeonjun’s still in the midst of riding off the adrenaline from coming out by making out on stage very publicly, but as he settles his own arms around Soobin’s larger frame, he finds himself drifting into a kind of post-apocalyptic peace. 

Unsettling is the quiet of the motel after a prolonged day of conviviality, but it is welcome.

“I can’t believe you did that,” Soobin chastises, mock-serious, as he bravely slides a hand up Yeonjun’s torso to tug insistently on Yeonjun’s shirt. He has his moments like this sometimes, where he gets uncharacteristically assertive in silence.

“You’re saying that I shouldn’t have?” Yeonjun replies indignantly, as he kindly pulls away for a fraction of a second just to let Soobin tug his shirt off.

“Of course not,” He can feel Soobin shake his head from where his warm breath puffs against his bare shoulder. “We both know that it was just a matter of time before we came out.”

“It’s just so like me to set things in motion,” Yeonjun replies proudly. “If it had been you—”

“No, hyung. It’s just so like you to choose the least thought-out way to execute it,” Soobin retorts. He pauses, plants a kiss on Yeonjun’s neck, before continuing quietly. “Thank you for doing it, though.”

“I love you too,” Yeonjun replies smoothly, before he angles his head to sneak a furtive glance at Soobin, who appears to be deep in thought. Not quite the reaction he was aiming for, but that’s the thing about Soobin he has come to expect: how he constantly oscillates between expressive and stoic, unpredictable as the weather.

There comes a pregnant pause, and—

Soobin seizes him by the wrist, none too gently tugging him towards the bed, “Follow me.” 

 

The only source of light in the grimy motel room is an old-fashioned night lamp that looks like it came right out of a period drama, a grounding presence making itself known by a warm hue filtering its way onto the bed. It’s dim enough that Yeonjun can’t see the ugly floral prints lining up the motel room’s wallpaper, yet bright enough to cast shadows with every rise and dip of Soobin’s flesh and muscle and bone, the very lines and curves that make up the lithe form of his body.

Mesmerizing. “You’re beautiful,” he breathes, the compliment naturally tumbling out of his lips like clockwork. 

Soobin shushes him by settling a gentle yet firm finger on his lips. “It’s all about you today, Yeonjun-hyung.” He traces his index finger along the contour of Yeonjun’s lips before pressing it in, as if to prove his point. “Pretty,” he mumbles, dark eyes transfixed on how Yeonjun obediently closes his mouth around his finger.

And so, Yeonjun releases Soobin’s finger, knuckle by knuckle, with an obscenely wet pop only to ask, “You like it?”

That appears to make Soobin tick, who’s now taken the liberty of hurriedly shucking Yeonjun’s tight jeans off, only for it to get tangled around his ankles. A regular occurrence when you’re two big boys trying to frolic in a single bed. Yeonjun can’t help but let out a tiny giggle at Soobin’s annoyed little huff, “Guess we urgently need a room upgrade.”

(It had been somewhere around the six month mark of their being together that Yeonjun found out how much Soobin actually notices him. How Soobin shifts, ever so slightly, in his seat whenever Yeonjun comes within his vicinity. Not just the silent accommodation, but also the quiet acts of service.

“You know,” Beomgyu had told Yeonjun over ramyun, after a particularly long day of filming, with Soobin already passed out cold in the living room. “Soobin-hyung never ever packs our practice room, but have you noticed how he always offers—rushes, more like—to clean up after you?”

Yeonjun had snickered, gazed fondly at Soobin’s cheeks plastered onto the leather of their worn-out couch. “I wonder why?”

“That’s love, hyung.”)

 “Look, Junnie-hyung,” Soobin’s voice is laced with wonderment which rivals that of a child, the pads of his fingers drumming a sporadic rhythm against Yeonjun’s hip bones.

Yeonjun, with nerves all jumpy, only manages a strained “hmm?”.

“A new one.” Yeonjun pries his eyes open then, only to be greeted by a dimpled smile so saccharine, that he wonders how is it possible to constantly fall at every turn for someone he’s been with for more than three years.

Soobin doesn’t say much, except to elaborate: “Freckle. Here.” 

His heart seems to have taken it upon itself to immediately swell too large, way too fast for comfort, so he sinks back into the pillow again. Yeonjun shouldn’t even be the least bit fazed by the amount of attention Soobin pays to him. Hell , it’s even written in his job description now to be constantly under the scrutiny of millions. What others might consider a burden, Yeonjun basks in it; soaks up the warmth of the spotlight spilling on his skin, solicits comfort in the knowledge that he’s loved and admired by many. 

But there comes a time when even the brightest star can fizzle out, Yeonjun thinks. What then ? Will Soobin always come in, just like now, to soothe with a press of reverent lips against his hip bone, teeth sinking in almost immediately, as if to claim? A languid lick finishes the job, and Yeonjun prays the answer will always be yes, as he peers down to appreciate the lavender blooming along his pubic line, an elaborate display of mine, mine and mine.

Soobin lifts his head up then, lets his eyes unhurriedly rake over Yeonjun’s naked body, like he’s a painter examining his handiwork, and Yeonjun’s a prized oil painting. “Perfect.”

Yeonjun resists the urge to full out groan at how Soobin’s eyes harbour so much untold depth, maybe way too much for a twenty-something year old not even near his peak, and it frankly worries Yeonjun how much he wouldn’t mind losing himself in the expanse of Soobin’s gaze.

 

Soobin had been there for many of Yeonjun’s firsts. Through the changing moon phases of Yeonjun’s obsession, inspiration and cursed self-doubt, Soobin remained steadfast in his love. 

“A big part of me has always seen my success in yours,” Soobin explains when Yeonjun finally works up the courage to ask why. “I’ve always known that big things were in store for you by virtue of talent, hard work and sheer luck.” 

Now, that’s a revelation. “Big things? Did that include you?”

“No,” Soobin admits. “Actually, there’s something I’ve never told you, until now—wait, do you remember the day we came out?”

Of course, Yeonjun thinks. He remembers every single minute detail of their love life and will bring them all to his grave. Soobin continues. “At that time, I was so afraid that you were gonna break up with me.” 

Yeonjun chokes on the americano he just lovingly brewed with their new Nespresso machine, a gift from Beomgyu for their tenth anniversary. “Why? I would never.”

“You really didn’t do a great job of convincing me that our relationship wasn’t purely based off on sex, you know,” Soobin replies while passing him a tissue.

Yeonjun coos in return. “Aww, baby , so you knew how much I loved your big di—”

Soobin gives him a look. “See?”

“Still do, by the way,” Yeonjun assures Soobin by crawling onto his lap. 

“Come on, no thirty-two year old man should be saying this,” Soobin laughs. Deep wrinkles, significantly more than ten years ago, crinkle at the corner of his eyes. He takes off his reading glasses and sets them aside on the dining table. 

“Are you calling me expired? ” Yeonjun challenges as he starts unbuttoning Soobin’s white dress shirt. 

“Far from that,” Soobin replies. “You’re a DILF, as kids these days would say.”