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Sweet Like Vinegar

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A text from Donghyuck was a toss-up, and Renjun was never quite sure if it was worth opening. He could always delete it and pretend that he’d never seen it, but… well, uh, that felt a little too much like something that Donghyuck himself would have done.

Good Texts included: “Got a promotion at work! Come to the bar and celebrate with me, you ho 🍻 ”, “Do you want to drink wine and binge watch all the Pirates of the Carribean movies this weekend??”, “ 🤣 Holy shit look at this twitter thread, I almost peed myself laughing”

Bad Texts included: “I don’t feel like cooking, invite me over and buy me pizza”, “Hey slut, answer your phone, I lost my wallet at the club last night and ended up crashing somewhere in Gangnam, come pick me up and help me out”, “The guy with the bad teeth that I hooked up with last weekend keeps texting me and now he’s calling!! How do you block phone numbers again??”

This text had all the warning signs of a Bad Text: it was late on a Friday night, Donghyuck had been sulky and irritable all week, and the message preview only showed: “😡💢😡💢…”

Fuck. Renjun sighed. If Johnny were home, he would have asked his opinion on whether it was worth it, but his boyfriend had gone out for an after-work drink and left Renjun to his own devices for the night. He briefly considered swiping the notification off the screen and surrendering himself to the tantalizing pull of a reality TV rerun binge, but then the doorbell buzzed and he felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

With a shaky breath, he checked the message.

“😡💢😡💢 I’m SO tired of working all the time and never having any fucking money. I’m on my way over, I’m gonna bother Johnny until he agrees to set me up with one of his rich friends.”

Fuuuuuuck.

With another heavy sigh, much heavier than any twenty-two year old had any business heaving, he made his way over to the door like a death row inmate walking to the guillotine. He hit the button to unlock the front door of the condominium without bothering to use the intercom system; Renjun wasn’t Donghyuck, he didn’t have a Friday night social life, and Donghyuck knew that. He’d likely keep buzzing until Renjun caved and let him in, anyway, so he might as well rip the Band-Aid off quickly.

“Fuck,” Donghyuck announced loudly as he threw open the door several seconds later, half-winded from the stairs. He looked disheveled as ever in his work uniform: tie crooked, shirt wrinkled, chocolate-toned hair mussed.“I’m going to quit my job. I swear to god, I’m really gonna fucking quit this time. Waiting tables sucks, doing dishes sucks, people treat me like I’m a servant all day— and then I tell a dick that he’s being a dick, and I get sent home early and told to change my attitude.”

“Keep your voice down, will you? I have a headache already,” Renjun whined softly, shutting the door behind Donghyuck while the other kicked his shoes off. “If you don’t like your job, you should find another one! I mean, I didn’t need a degree to start work at the tea shop, they taught me everything when they hired me. And I love my job!”

“Ew. How can you love a job? That’s gross.” Donghyuck wrinkled his nose as Renjun led him inside. He always had impeccable timing, Renjun had been just about to clean up from dinner: homemade Japanese curry with chunks of beef and potato, with the rice still hot and fresh. Without waiting for an invitation, Donghyuck grabbed himself a plate and a pair of chopsticks, bumping the drawer closed casually with his hip. “Nah, I’m serious, I’m done working. I’ve decided that I’m gonna get myself a sugar daddy like you. Like, no offense, but if you can do it… I’ve got a decent shot, don’t you think? I’m cute, right?”

Renjun snorted in amusement. “Johnny is not my sugar daddy. He’s my boyfriend, who just happens to be wealthy and generous. And he’s only five years older than me!”

“Twenty-seven is plenty old enough to be a daddy,” Donghyuck retorted smugly, taking an uninvited seat at the table as he took his first hungry bite. “And didn’t he buy you that sweater? That Burberry sweater?”

“For my birthday,” Renjun defended, though he couldn’t help but wince at the reminder, fiddling with his rolled-up sweater sleeves. Johnny was the only son of a business mogul; he worked hard, spent long days in the company offices learning the ins and outs of his father’s job in preparation to inherit it one day, but he also received plenty of financial support from his family still. He knew he was lucky to have a boyfriend pure-hearted enough to want to take care of him, but the fact that Johnny actually had the means to do so felt almost undeserved; it had taken Renjun awhile to come to terms with that, when he was used to working himself ragged for minimum wage, to keep the lights on in his shitty studio apartment. “But— seriously, don’t call him my sugar daddy. He hates when you say that. I have a feeling that he’s planning on proposing to me, but he’s not gonna want to get married to a guy with an obnoxious friend.”

“Boo. I’m not obnoxious, I’m jealous!” Donghyuck corrected indignantly. “I’ve been sucking dick for free, when I could have a guy buying me designer clothes and paying my rent for it! I’ve been looking at dating sites on the way here, and there are a ton of girls who are looking for ‘special arrangements’ with ‘financially independent men’. And guess what, I probably give better head than all of them.” Donghyuck pulled out his phone with one hand while he ate, adding absentmindedly, “You met Johnny on a dating site, didn’t you?”

“Well, yeah… But Johnny was, like, attempt number seven or something. Before Johnny, there was Taeyong, who showed me a million pictures of all his tropical fish on our first date. And Yuta, who shoved his tongue down my throat while we were on the subway. Don’t you remember this?”

(Since it had nothing to do with him, Donghyuck probably didn’t.)

“Doesn’t matter. I’m making a profile right now,” Donghyuck replied simply, sounding so distracted that Renjun doubted he’d been listening at all. “Come tell me what profile picture looks the best. Kinda like this one from when Jaemin did my makeup— don’t I look fucking hot in eyeliner?” He tilted his head back to look at Renjun behind him, upside down. “Get your laptop. Type for me while I eat. I’ll dictate, but you have to give me pointers so I can get that old, rich dick. Because horrible or not, Nakamoto Yuta is a pretty fucking wealthy Japanese socialite, and Lee Taeyong’s family owns a nice building in Gangnam.”

Massive eye roll. Of course, Donghyuck would remember the things that “mattered”. Sometimes Renjun wondered why he put up with him so consistently, but this time, just like most times, he did exactly what he was told because it was easier.

//

“Oh, did I tell you about Donghyuck’s visit before you came home?”

“Hmm? He was here again?” Johnny sounded half-amused, but then almost scolding as he called back from where he’d already gotten comfy in bed, “I’d say you might as well just invite him to move into the guest room, but I can already hear the excuses as to why his rent is late…”

Renjun sighed, closing his left eye as he pinched his contact lens out of his right. His boyfriend could get along with anyone, but Donghyuck was a very special sort of case. “And we’d never get a moment’s peace. Can’t you see him trying to burrow between us for warmth at night?”

“Yuck. Don’t even joke about that, I was kind of in the mood and you’re killing it.”

Renjun bit his lip to keep from grinning and squinching up his eye as he removed his other contact. “Anyway, like I was saying, he came over to ask for help with his dating site profile. Apparently, we’ve inspired him to try and find himself a sugar daddy.”

“Can you imagine going on a first date with Donghyuck, not knowing what you’re getting into?” Johnny snorted. “Sorry. I know he’s your best friend, but— I wish he was a little more like all your other friends. As in… kind.”

Renjun brushed his teeth quickly, falling quiet. Johnny had a definite point, but what he didn’t understand was that Renjun and Donghyuck had been friends since elementary school. Donghyuck had always been blunt, sarcastic, and rude— but they’d come out of the closet together, when they were only thirteen. They’d faced bullies together, endured the wrath of their families together, and when things had gotten too bad at home for both of them, they’d moved in together and somehow figured it all out. Renjun’s coping mechanisms had become art, poetry, pouring out all his negative energy into creating something meaningful; Donghyuck, on the other hand, had developed a thick skin and a vicious bite, to hurt others before he could be hurt himself.

“I know he’s an idiot, but I hope it works out all right for him,” Renjun said at last, turning off the bathroom light and returning to the bedroom, slipping into his perfectly warm, cozy place at Johnny’s side. “Warm me up, daddy. I’m cold.”

“Anything for you, son.” (Just about the only good thing to come about of Donghyuck’s judgment of their relationship was this stupid, stupid inside joke. It made Renjun cringe, but god, did he love it.) Johnny embraced him immediately, holding Renjun’s cold hands and kissing his cold nose. All sweet, utterly selfless.

//

It was late, and Renjun had to work the next morning. In fact, he’d been curled up in the living room with Johnny, watching the end of a movie while his lover dozed against the arm of the couch, and he’d been just thinking that it was time to wake him up and bring him to bed when the doorbell suddenly buzzed. Once, twice, three times, all in quick succession. Could only be one person. He huffed as he dragged himself up off the couch and hurried to answer the door through the intercom: “What is it, Donghyuck?”

“I want to bitch! Unlock the door, loser!”

Renjun’s mouth pressed into a flat line, and without argument, he unlatched the lock. “Come on up,” he answered shortly. He wasn’t quite in the mood for bullshittery… but Donghyuck had gone on a date, and he would have been lying if he claimed to be uninterested in how it had gone. Apparently, not well.

Donghyuck threw the door open dramatically as always. He was dressed up, wearing a soft cashmere sweater (stolen from Renjun) and a nice pair of tight-fitting skinny jeans that showed off all his best assets. He was made up, with lovely dark mascara and a subtle dusting of glitter on his eyelids. And— yup, he was marked up, Renjun observed, with a smattering of amorous bruises on the side of his neck.

“I thought he was tall and handsome and rich,” Donghyuck exploded into it without a second’s hesitance, stomping in and closing the door behind him. Well, if the doorbell hadn’t roused Johnny, this would. “He’s so average and boring that it sort of makes me want to die. He’s only, like, three centimeters taller than me.”

Renjun shrugged. “Sugar daddies aren’t sugar daddies because of their height.”

“He works in ‘talent acquisition’ for some entertainment company I’ve never even heard of. I don’t even know what that means, but I bet he’s not the heir to an entire fucking company like yours is. And look—” He yanked his phone from his pocket and scrolled furiously through messages, finally turning the screen around to show Renjun a benign selca of a man much younger than he’d pictured, with a charmingly unruly mop of black hair and a sweet smile that lit up his eyes. Renjun privately thought he might be more conventionally attractive than Johnny, but before he could decide whether or not to say so, Donghyuck went on: “His dick is just as average as his face, if you were wondering. I barely choked when I swallowed the whole thing.”

“I— I wasn’t wondering, but thanks.”

“I’m just not sure. Like, do I want to settle for an average sugar daddy experience, or do I want to aim high and try to net the best of the best?” Donghyuck mused with a troubled sigh. “I want to be pampered the way I deserve. Would you settle for a C when you knew you could get an A+ with a bit more work?”

Renjun should have expected this. It was such classic Donghyuck, and yet— 

“What’re we yelling about in here?” Johnny mumbled from the kitchen doorway, looking half-asleep as he rubbed his eye with the heel of his hand. Focusing in on the scene before him, his mouth twitched, but he couldn’t be bothered to fake a smile. “Ahh, Donghyuck. Should have known. Good night with your new daddy?”

“I mean, he seemed kinda rich. He took me out for nice Italian food and drove a Mercedes. I just don’t know if I’m in love with like, y’know, his whole vibe.”

“Good lord.” Johnny sighed a heavy, heavy sigh. Some little things about Renjun were clearly starting to rub off on him, including this, his trademark. “Junnie, I’m going to bed. Turn the lights off when you come, yeah?”

“I will. I’ll be there soon.”

“Ahh. You’re going to bed?” Donghyuck pouted, pulling a face at Johnny’s retreating back. “Lame. It’s only 11:30. Come into the living room and have a nightcap with me.”

“You say that like you live here.” Renjun rolled his eyes. “I work in the morning, I’m not drinking. I’ll give you one, but then you’ve gotta call a cab.” Even so, he was already pulling down a lowball glass and the expensive whiskey. Donghyuck sure was good at getting his way. “So are you going to try to find another guy? I don’t think yours is bad-looking, for the record.”

“I dunno. I haven’t decided yet,” Donghyuck replied glumly. “Maybe I’ll stay with Doyoung while I keep my eye out for someone better. As a positive, he said he works too much for commitment, so that’s license for me to keep whoring around, right?”

“Uhh, maybe.” Renjun handed him the glass, pinching the bridge of his nose. This was becoming a tired conversation. “Don’t be too much of a dick to him. You have a tendency to do that.”

“I won’t! He said he has a business trip in Busan in two weeks. If I haven’t found any better opportunities by then, I’m gonna try and tag along. Might be a good time to propose that I start getting a regular allowance, don’t you think?” Donghyuck grinned, though he flinched at his first sip of the alcohol, shaking his head. “Disgusting. Your boyfriend has shit taste in liquor. Do you guys have like— root beer? I need a mixer.”

“What the fuck, Donghyuck.”

(Renjun was so glad Johnny wasn’t awake— he would have choked.)

//

8 PM was like the perfect time for Donghyuck to “drop in” at Renjun’s place: late enough that he would miss helping with prep and cooking, early enough that the leftovers weren’t yet in the fridge. And given that this was Sunday night, the first evening that he was back home after his weekend in Busan with Doyoung— well, Renjun had advised Johnny to make enough food for three.

The doorbell buzzed at 8:11 PM. Fashionably late.

“What is it, Hyuck?”

“Let me in and feed me. I have so much to tell you.”

Johnny, doing dishes just a few feet away, closed his eyes for a long moment and shook his head— but then reluctantly murmured, “Let him up. I’ll mix him a drink.”

When he stepped through the door this time— well, Renjun didn’t know what to say other than that Donghyuck looked very overwhelmingly himself. Impeccable makeup, stylishly mussed hair, wearing skintight black jeans and a leather jacket so unfamiliar-looking that it had to be new. If he’d owned that before, he would have made sure I’d seen it, and that I knew how much it cost.

And he greeted Renjun with a tight hug, out of nowhere. Not wholly unpleasant, but usually meant that he wanted something. Renjun hugged back for half a second, before asking nervously, “Did you have a good time with Doyoung? How was getting spoiled in Busan?”

“Actually, I had a terrible time. I’m still recovering,” Donghyuck replied brightly, kissing each of Renjun’s cheeks in an infuriatingly pretentious way. “I don’t think I can drink again for a little while— not without puking. Can you make me some coffee?”

“Did I just make a whiskey root beer for nothing?” Johnny asked crossly as he overheard, his shoulders slumping a bit in defeat.

“You should drink it, then maybe you won’t keep making fun of me for mixing my whiskey with root beer,” Donghyuck suggested, shrugging off his jacket on his way in and giving the predictable introduction that Renjun was waiting for: “Like it? 3 million won. I’ve never owned something so fucking nice in my life. The sugar daddy thing is really paying off. Like, you know I hate when I have to say this, but you were right, Renjun!”

“Gee, thanks.” Renjun had taken on the task of making coffee, while Donghyuck helped himself to the sesame noodles and seared scallops that Johnny had cooked, and Johnny resigned himself to sitting at the far side of the table and sipping the terrible cocktail that he’d made. “So, pray tell, why did you have a terrible time? I’m really confused. You didn’t reply to any of my texts all weekend!”

“Yes, we were just dying to know how the money and the dick were,” Johnny piped up sarcastically, grimacing through a sip from the glass in his hands.

“The money was fantastic. We ate fusion food, whatever that is, and drank the best chardonnay I’ve ever had, and he took me to like five different stores. You should see the jeans he got me, and these scarves— I swear, I’m not normally a scarves-gay, but the sales attendant showed them to me, and—” Johnny clearing his throat cut Donghyuck off, and he turned to regard him with an icy glare.

“Sorry. I think we’ve had enough exposition, that’s all. We’re ready to hear the part where you fucked up.”

Renjun set his mouth into a neutral line and shrugged. He didn’t want to say he agreed, but he agreed.

“I’m world-building! This is all important later!” Donghyuck replied indignantly. “Renjun, bring me that coffee, will you? Johnny’s giving me a headache.” Renjun wasn’t sure why, but he actually turned around and started obeying Donghyuck’s command, feeling like an idiot and pausing with the mug in his hand, but then feeling like an idiot for just standing there with a mug in his hand; he ultimately brought Donghyuck his coffee anyway. “Basically, Doyoung had a bunch of meetings on Saturday, and he left me all alone in the hotel from like 11 AM on! Like, eight hours by myself, in a hotel room, with nothing but a TV and a laptop and a Busan tourist guide and a hotel pool pass?”

“Oh, god, Donghyuck, what did you do?”

Donghyuck shrugged. “I did exactly what you’d probably expect me to do: I drank two bottles of wine from the mini-bar.”

Johnny couldn’t keep from smirking, though he probably shouldn’t have. “And let me guess, you got sick?”

“Incredibly sick. Doyoung had to cancel our dinner reservations,” Donghyuck answered somberly, strangely unaffected by talking about puking with his mouth full of food. “And it didn’t help that I missed the toilet and threw up in the bathtub. He apparently has a weak stomach, so he had to call room service to clean up after me— he had to leave them a huge tip. That part was kind of funny. But he got so grumpy afterwards that I couldn’t properly enjoy it. Told me that I completely embarrassed him. He wouldn’t even talk to me on the ride home today.”

“Woah. Shit. Do you think he’s gonna dump you, then?” Renjun wasn’t sure what emotion to channel: self-satisfied at being correct? Piteous at the end of a relationship, no matter how nonsensical and toxic it was? Or maybe he should have taken a cue at Donghyuck’s smug smile?

“That’s the best part.” Donghyuck answered, taking his sweet-ass time slurping up a noodle to build suspense before revealing: “He brought me back to my apartment, but he came inside with me and just about dragged me to my bedroom and fucked me silly.” Setting down his chopsticks, he tugged his shirt collar aside, revealing a bruising set of teeth marks on his collarbone. “And then he asked if I’m free later this week. Can you believe it?”

It was funny; the minute Renjun’s jaw dropped, he watched Johnny’s do the same, like looking in a mirror. Somehow, Donghyuck always just scraped by, and— somehow, he’d done it again, charmed a guy at full messiness. Renjun was about to ask what the actual fuck, but Johnny beat him to the punch, asking in complete disbelief: “How good at sex do you have to be to win a third date after puking in the bathtub? Seriously, do you just suck their autonomy out through their dicks?”

“Get me a popsicle, and I’ll teach Renjun,” Donghyuck offered innocently, finishing the last bite on his plate with a satisfied sigh. “That was awesome. I wonder if Doyoung can cook? I’ll have to ask him this Thursday— I told him to take me shopping and buy me sashimi and sake, and I’d let him do whatever he wants to me.”

Sashimi and sake. The words triggered something in Renjun, who hadn’t been sure what to say up until now; suddenly, it was all incredibly clear, and he blurted out without a second thought: “Donghyuck, are you crazy? Against all odds, you found a decent guy who might take care of you. Be good to him. If you keep doing or saying whatever you want, you’re going to chase him away.”

Donghyuck scoffed, rolling his eyes and leaning back in his chair. “Don’t try to ‘mom’ me all of a sudden. I don’t need it.”

“I just know how you are.”

“Yeah, this is how I am. You’ve been my friend for like half my life, and you should know that by now. I don’t appreciate you trying to change me— if Doyoung offered me an ultimatum like that, I’d laugh in his face and tell him to find someone else.” Donghyuck’s tone was firm, but he was fidgeting with the ring on his left-hand middle finger. A nervous habit.

“And Doyoung would find someone else, because he’s a decent and reasonable person,” Johnny pointed out calmly, and Renjun felt a little spike of irritation.

“Hyung, stop,” Renjun warned lowly.

“Oh, no need. Let me just step out so you both can talk about what a hopeless piece of shit I am. It’s fine.” Donghyuck got to his feet quickly, mouth set in an exaggerated little pout that was clearly meant to garner sympathy. “Call me later. If you want. Or not. I don’t give a shit.”

This time, Johnny seemed to know to keep himself out of it— smart man. Renjun followed after Donghyuck to the door, though he knew better than to try and stop him. Once Donghyuck was set in his ways, he was stubborn as hell, and nothing would remedy his bad mood except time and alcohol. “I’m just trying to help. You seem so happy for once - sort of - and I don’t want you to lose that.”

“Keeping a man is never a problem for me! Unlike you, Mr. I-Turned-Down-A-Rich-Handsome-Model-Because-He-Has-Too-Many-Tropical-Fish.” Donghyuck grabbed his expensive new leather jacket, shoved his feet into his knock-off-but-still-pretty-nice Givenchys, and turned to face the door.

“Well, then, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it the way you’re thinking it.”

“Yes, you did. But that’s okay.” Donghyuck spared him a half-second glance, a little shrug, and a smile that Renjun just knew would absolve him of guilt. These were the same fights as ever, and Donghyuck never stayed mad. That was one of his good points, few and far between though they were, and the knowledge that he would probably still call Renjun the next night to hang out sent an unreasonable surge of affection through his chest. “See ya, Injun.”

Renjun hated the way his Korean name sounded. Donghyuck knew that. The subtle dig made him want to burst into laughter, but all he could do was cross his arms and turn back to the kitchen table. Donghyuck’s empty plate sat abandoned, along with the cup of coffee he’d demanded and then left without so much as a sip. God, I could kill him. I won’t, but I could.

“Sorry,” Johnny said faintly, brows creasing as he stood and opened up his arms in invitation. “I didn’t mean to piss him off so much. Want a hug? I know how much you worry.”

“It’s okay. But yes. Always.” Renjun took a couple steps forward and let Johnny make the rest of the effort, drawing him in and squeezing him against his chest, Renjun’s very favorite place in the world. For a long minute, he let his lover’s heartbeat drown out everything else. Tranquility.

“I just really like him. I dunno. He’s… endearing.”

“You’re a masochist, baby. It’s okay.” Johnny planted a kiss directly atop Renjun’s head, nuzzling against his hair. “Also, you know… whiskey and root beer isn’t that bad. Like, I wouldn’t order it in a bar, but…”

“Yuck. Yuck, Johnny.”

“I’m trying to validate your shitty friend! And I’m tipsy, cut me some slack.” He snorted. “It’ll be okay, though. Maybe he has to fuck it up with Doyoung to learn that he’s not completely invincible. If he gets hurt, we’ll be here to make sure he doesn’t get hurt alone.”

Renjun smiled softly, giving his boyfriend a squeeze of his own. When it was just the two of them, at least, he always knew what to say.

//

Of course, Renjun called Donghyuck, and Donghyuck called Renjun back, and their argument was swept under the rug as surely as ever. Still, Renjun noticed the change in his texts with Donghyuck: more sarcasm and memes, less relationship-bitching and talk of Doyoung. When they had coffee on Wednesday, Donghyuck mentioned giving his notice at work (and giving his boss the middle finger, which Renjun knew had been a dream of his) and showed off a lovely new bracelet, but didn’t mention Doyoung’s name even a single time.

Finally, before they parted ways, Renjun asked almost tentatively, “Everything’s going okay with Doyoung, right? He’s still being good to you?” (That was the least of their concerns, he knew— was Donghyuck being good to Doyoung, there was the question.)

“It’s fantastic. Hey, you know me— as soon as there’s reason to bitch, you’ll hear about it.” He raised an eyebrow. “Everything’s going okay with Johnny? Because that thing we talked about before—”

“Oh, god, Donghyuck, don’t ruin it—”

“—if you get tired of him, I’ll jump ship from Doyoung so fast, I’m not even kidding—”

“Donghyuck—”

“Just tell me how big his dick is, you’re being selfish.”

“Goodbye, Donghyuck. I’ll call you later.” They were both too headstrong for an argument; when Donghyuck got pushy, the only two choices were to give him his way or to turn your back. Renjun knew that all too well.

Things went south again quickly, though, less than two weeks later. It was nearly 10 PM, and with his classic terrible timing. Johnny had just gotten his lips around Renjun’s dick when his phone started buzzing in the pocket of his discarded pants, and he groaned, reluctantly groping for them off the edge of the bed. “Fuck, this better not be someone from work…”

“Hnn.” Johnny made a little sound of disapproval around him, grabbing his straying wrist and pulling it back to pin against the mattress as he pulled back. “Whoever it is can leave a voicemail. You’re all mine right now, baby…” His lips, hence distracted, fell on Renjun’s inner thigh next; Renjun gripped the bedsheets with a whimper, trying to resist the urge to grab Johnny by the hair and pull his head back to where it had been.

Then his phone started buzzing again, almost as soon as it had stopped. When he wiggled away from Johnny’s lips, this time his boyfriend made no move to stop him, simply watching curiously as Renjun dug it out to answer. Donghyuck?!

“What is it? What do you want?” Renjun demanded, still breathless.

“I need a fucking ride. I don’t have my fucking wallet, I don’t have any fucking money on me, and it’s fucking raining. And fucking— fucking Doyoung was supposed to drive me home, but he’s not answering his fucking phone!”

“Hold up. Hold up. Where are you?” It was easy to keep calm. Donghyuck was a drama queen, Renjun was used to tears. These tears most likely weren’t anything special. Maybe he could talk him down; he didn’t exactly feel like putting on pants to go get him, and he doubted Johnny would agree.

“I’m at Doyoung’s house. Locked outside. He said if I keep knocking he’s going to call the cops, and that probably means he’s going to break up with me too! Renjun, please—”

Donghyuck didn’t use words like “please” all that often, and it sort of tugged at Renjun’s heartstrings. And then a flash of lightning outside their bedroom window, making Renjun jump, sealed the deal. “All right— stop crying. Text me the address.” He met Johnny’s wide gaze, giving him an apologetic smile and mouthing a piteous sorry in response to his boyfriend’s dramatic collapse on the bed beside him. “Me and Johnny will be there soon. And you can come spend the night with us, okay?”

“What? What?” Johnny managed to hold off his demands until Renjun hung up the phone and grabbed his pants off the floor. “Having to go get him is a bummer as is! Why did you invite him home with us?”

“I don’t think it sounds good for Donghyuck and Doyoung. They might have broken up. He was crying. Come on— fix your shirt, will you?”

Johnny scowled as he pushed himself up off the mattress and re-fastened the buttons that Renjun had gotten undone down his chest. “Do you think it was Donghyuck’s fault?”

“I don’t know,” Renjun answered quietly, meeting Johnny’s grim amusement head-on. “But it doesn’t really matter. If he says he needs me, I’m going to be there, and— Johnny, you can’t tell him I told you so or anything stupid like that.”

“I won’t. Why would I do that?” Johnny grumbled, running his fingers through his hair. “I’ll drive. Chill out. Just tell me where we’re going.”

Doyoung’s apartment was in Gangnam, apparently not far from where he worked. It was a beautiful building, which Renjun would have taken more time to admire if not for Donghyuck darting out of the alleyway beside it, leather jacket pulled up over his hair to keep it dry. Out of habit, Johnny reached with the lock controls to fuck with him, and Renjun had to lace their fingers to keep him from acting on impulse.

Now that Donghyuck was in front of him in the flesh, it was plain to Renjun that these were real tears, not the crocodile tears that Donghyuck could whip up on a dime. Tears that messed up his face, made his nose run and his eyes puff up, had to be real. Immediately, Renjun’s chest was cracked wide open, and he reached back without reservations to grab his best friend’s hand from the front seat.

“Hey. It’s gonna be okay, Hyuckie. Are you hungry? Johnny and I were thinking we could make popcorn or something, and watch a movie?” Johnny didn’t bother to interject with anything, just flexing his fingers on the wheel. Clearly, this hadn’t been his vision when he’d said we’ll be here to make sure he doesn’t get hurt alone.

“I don’t care. I can’t stop alternating between wanting to knock Doyoung’s teeth in, and like… just calling him and fucking talking to him. I can’t stop missing his stupid fucking voice, and it’s pissing me off.” He wiggled restlessly in his seat, finally thinking to pull his seatbelt over his shoulder. “I don’t know what happened. One minute I’m trying to convince him of the merits of buying me the apartment across the hall from him and supporting my livelihood— and he said I should just move in with him! Really, I’m supposed to move all my shit in with all his shit and actually put up with him 24/7? Like, how cheap is he?”

Johnny and Renjun’s jaws once again dropped in unison, but this time Johnny was able to restrain himself from speaking, letting Renjun take the wheel in what had become the second part of Donghyuck’s intervention. “You’re trying to get him to buy you an apartment? Are you out of your mind? You’ve known this guy for like a month, and he’s been nothing but good to you, and you’ve been nothing but— impulsive.”

Donghyuck was clearly taken aback, having never been scolded so readily by Renjun before. “Why is nobody listening to my reasoning here? Look,” he went on with practiced impatience, a spiel he’d probably already run through with Doyoung. “I don’t have a job anymore, so I have nothing tying me down. This is a safer neighborhood than my current one, and the apartments are way bigger, and I’d have a balcony to smoke cigarettes on! And then I’d be, like, living with him without actually living with him, which is like— best case scenario, because we can have sex whenever we want! So if you take all that stuff into account, how crazy is it, really?” He paused for a long moment, gathering his thoughts, and his voice came back as a hoarse whimper as he went on softly, “Doyoung said it’s not his fault that I quit my job before talking to him, and called me an idiot. Kinda felt like a slap to the face.”

Once more, Johnny was quiet. Jeez, now he listens. Renjun fidgeted for a moment, taking deep breaths to keep his temper under control, and then murmured, “You’re an idiot, and not just because you quit your job. You have a rich, successful, kind, and generous guy who wants to take care of you, and you think that sucking his dick is going to excuse you from having to work on your shitty personality at all. You have just as many problems as the rest of us, Hyuck— but we work on them.”

“I hate you,” Donghyuck said simply in retaliation, voice tight with more tears. Renjun shrugged, kept his eyes ahead, and held Johnny’s hand tight as they drove in silence.

“Surprised you brought me here since you both apparently think I'm an idiot,” Donghyuck commented as they stepped through the front door of Renjun and Johnny’s long-dark apartment.

Johnny turned on an unappreciated light, but he didn’t say a single thing to try and deny Donghyuck’s claim. “I’m going back to bed. See you in a bit, babe?”

“Yeah,” Renjun sighed, offering his lover what he hoped was an encouraging smile. If he had anything to say about it, he’d be back there right this instant, competing to see who could get whose pants down first. “Be right there.”

“You’re gonna invite me over and then not sleep next to me?” Donghyuck asked softly, sounding hurt again, legitimately hurt. “But I have bitching to do. You always listen to my bitching.”

“Yeah, well— I do. But right now I think you’re sort of getting what you’ve had coming to you, so I’m going to let you sleep in the bed you’ve made for yourself until tomorrow morning. Once you’re cooled down and rational, I’d be happy to talk,” Renjun murmured cautiously, stepping in to give Donghyuck a tight and reassuring hug while he was still allowed to touch him. “Plus, you kind of… called while I was in the middle of something, and I think Johnny wanted to finish what we had started, so…”

“Were you getting your cock sucked?” Donghyuck asked somberly, eyes wide, voice tiny. Renjun shifted uncomfortably on his feet, hoping it didn’t show.

“Uhh. Yeah.”

“Renjun, I’m asking you as a friend—”

“You may not fuck us. I’ve already told you.”

Donghyuck sighed, harshly, and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Well, then, come do a fifteen-second nightcap with me, at least. I feel like shit. I just need to stop feeling like shit, and I don’t know how.”

Why was Donghyuck like this? Renjun hated it, and yet— just leaving Donghyuck as coldly as he wanted to felt wrong. There was something different about this, some genuine distress behind Donghyuck’s eyes, and he could neither figure it out nor pretend it wasn’t there. Resigned to obedience once again, he slipped an arm around Donghyuck’s shoulders and squeezed.

“Yeah. Fifteen-second nightcap sounds good.”

Half and half, Donghyuck mandated, root beer and whiskey, filling a lowball glass for each of them. One ice cube each, one glass clink, and then they both gulped them down as quickly as they could— an old game from their high school days, when Donghyuck’s life had just fallen apart and his insomnia had been so shit. A long gulp of liquor always did the trick.

(Surprisingly, the mix wasn’t as bad as Renjun was anticipating, either.)