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burn through the atmosphere

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Staring down at the notebook in his lap, Hyungu began to shake. He clenched his fists and grit his teeth. The words on the page glared back at him, unbelievably vulnerable and undoubtedly beautiful. A tear dampened the corner of the page as Hyungu squeezed his eyes shut.

“Hyungu? Wait, what—” Yonghoon moved from where he was sitting at the computer, walking towards him. He said his name again, kneeling down in front of him. “Why are you crying?”

Hyungu grabbed the notebook and smacked Yonghoon in the face with it, feeling disgusting as he sniffled and wiped at his wet face. “You just give that to me to read and don’t expect me to cry?”

“Oh. Is it good?”

Is it good?” Hyungu mocked, still crying. “Fuck off.”

Yonghoon smiled brightly at him. He brought his hands out to rub his thumbs over Hyungu’s face. “I’ll take it as a compliment, then.” He scooted forward, pulling Hyungu’s face towards his.

Hyungu let him. At that moment, he wanted nothing more. How Yonghoon could give him his notebook so nonchalantly—as if he hadn’t spilled his heart on the page, as if he hadn’t bared his soul—Hyungu had no idea. The least he could do was kiss him, he thought. To be given the opportunity to read something that moved him so strongly, Hyungu basked in the privilege.

Yonghoon kissed him easily, hands cupping his cheeks. Hyungu leaned into him. He slid off of the sofa, right onto Yonghoon’s lap. Yonghoon pushed into him, shoving him back against the couch.

“Ugh! Gross, can you not?”

They pulled away at the sound of Giwook’s voice. Hyungu stared at Yonghoon, all red lips and pink cheeks. He moved back to the couch, wiping at his mouth, embarrassed. Grabbing his guitar, he made himself busy once more. Yonghoon sat beside him, clingy, and when Hyungu looked at him, he was smiling. Hyungu mumbled, “Stop being weird.”

Yonghoon nuzzled his nose into his shoulder. “My lyrics made you cry,” he proudly said.

“Yeah. Because they were sad.” Hyungu shrugged him off. He strummed mindlessly on his guitar. He could hear Giwook shuffling about from behind him. “What are you doing?” he asked, turning around to look at him.

Giwook stood there and scratched the back of his head. “I don’t really know. I came in here for something and forgot.”

Hyungu snorted and strummed away. His fingers found their way to Regulus. Yonghoon hummed beside him, resting his head on the back of the couch.

The door opened and closed, signaling Giwook’s exit.

Yonghoon’s hand slid around Hyungu’s waist. He scooted close and rested his cheek on Hyungu’s shoulder. He mumbled, “I love that song.”

“I know you do.”

Yonghoon asked, “Is that why you played it?”

Hyungu scoffed to distract from the heat in his cheeks. “As if. Stop leaning on me.” He tried to shove him away, but Yonghoon only snuggled closer.

“Want me to leave?” Yonghoon asked, sincerity lacing his tone.

Hyungu absolutely did not want him to leave. “No. Stay.”

Yonghoon pressed his nose against his neck. Hyungu felt his lips against his skin when he spoke. “Just making sure.”

And as much as Hyungu teased him and pretended to shove him away, he always wanted him by his side. Occasionally, Yonghoon annoyed him—everyone did, at some point—but the day Yonghoon no longer wanted to be beside him was the day Hyungu lost the light. He leaned into him. Yonghoon kissed his neck, squeezing him tight.

Hyungu wasn’t one for grandiose displays of affection—which Yonghoon was exceptionally good at, much to his dismay—but this, this was okay.

“I wrote songs about you,” Yonghoon breathed.

It caught Hyungu off guard. “You did?” He pulled away to look at him. Yonghoon didn’t look like he was joking. “Where?”

“In there,” he said, motioning to his notebook. It was still on the ground. “You can’t read them, though. Not yet.”

Hyungu’s chest was constricting, a snake in his sternum, circling his heart. “Why not?”

“It’s a little embarrassing,” Yonghoon laughed. He laughed as if he hadn’t just sent Hyungu’s head into a frenzy, as if Hyungu’s heart wasn’t seconds from shattering. “What? Why are you shocked?”

Hyungu knew Yonghoon loved him, Yonghoon told him constantly. But to have songs written about him, to be immortalized in the rawest way possible—it frightened him. He was afraid to read them, afraid to see himself through Yonghoon’s eyes.

“You look upset,” Yonghoon worriedly said. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I swear, it’s nothing bad. It’s just—”

Hyungu’s heart was in his throat. He surged forward and kissed him, fisting a hand in the front of Yonghoon’s shirt. Yonghoon made a surprised sound into his mouth, but pressed into him, tilting his head.

He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t bring himself to say anything. He was scared, and hopelessly in love with the man in front of him. Hyungu purposefully didn’t write songs about Yonghoon. He didn’t know if he could recover from them. He didn’t want anything to go wrong.

Hyungu had thought about it, would occasionally scribble lines here and there that were so blatantly about Yonghoon that he scratched them out and never looked at them again. For Yonghoon to write songs about him and accept the vulnerability of it all, Hyungu didn’t know what to think.

He bit at Yonghoon’s lips and shoved his guitar aside, pulling on Yonghoon’s shirt until he was almost in his lap. Yonghoon laughed breathlessly and reached up to grab at Hyungu’s wrists, “You’re gonna rip my shirt,” he gasped.

“I don’t care,” Hyungu muttered, curling a hand around his nape. He was overwhelmed with how much he loved this ridiculous man.

Yonghoon just continued to laugh, light and airy, bubbling in his chest, and Hyungu hid his face in the crook of his neck, squeezing his eyes shut to will away the stinging. Yonghoon hugged him and smoothed his hands over his back. “You’re pretty emotional today,” he commented.

“Don’t bring it up,” Hyungu complained. “You’re so bad at reading the room.”

Yonghoon burrowed his nose in Hyungu’s hair. “I can read the room just fine. I just love you.”

Sometimes, Hyungu didn’t know what to do with Yonghoon’s openness. It intimidated him, and annoyed him to an extent. He simply sighed and said, “I love you, too.” He motioned to the computer, “We should probably get some work done.”

“Yeah,” Yonghoon agreed, slipping away to sit at the desk.

Hyungu felt his absence. The space beside him went cold. He simply leaned back against the couch and stared at the notebook on the floor, wondering what else was hiding between the pages.

-

“You’re always like this,” Hyungu complained as Yonghoon slipped into his bed and nudged his forearm out of the way. The book in his hand flopped about as Yonghoon situated himself underneath his arm. “Hyung.”

Yonghoon whined pathetically, still moving around, unable to get comfortable. His hair was damp from his shower and it smacked Hyungu in the face as he shifted. Hyungu released an exasperated sigh and pulled him close, moving his arm.

Finally stilling, Yonghoon breathed into the crook of his neck. He asked, “What are you reading?” Hyungu showed him the cover, a swirling supernova. He explained that it was a fantasy novel about two lovers who had to fight through galaxies to get back to each other. Yonghoon chuckled, “I shouldn’t have expected anything less. Read it to me.”

Reading aloud was a bit of an inconvenience, but Yonghoon was warm against him, and he smelled like soap and flowers, and Hyungu couldn’t say no. He kept his voice low, and picked up from where he left off.

He hadn’t realized how long he had been reading until he turned the final page. Yonghoon hadn’t moved or said a single word the entire time. Hyungu figured he had fallen asleep, but as he closed the book, Yonghoon shifted and sniffled. “Hyung?”

“That was really good,” Yonghoon breathed.

“I thought you fell asleep.” He placed a hand on the back of Yonghoon’s head. “You liked it?”

Yonghoon nodded, and turned his head up to press his lips to the side of Hyungu’s neck. Hyungu felt something wet against his skin. He wiped at Yonghoon’s damp cheek. Scooting up, Yonghoon kissed him properly and whispered, “If I had to, I’d go through galaxies to look for you, too.”

Typically, Hyungu would clown him for such a cheesy response, but now, the softness in his voice just made him want to cry. All Hyungu replied was, “Me too.”

“I know,” Yonghoon happily said. “Even if you have a hard time saying it, I know.”

And the thought of being so deeply understood made Hyungu’s head spin. Hyungu wondered if Yonghoon knew the gravity of those words. He wondered if Yonghoon knew that he’d tear apart the earth if he asked him to. He wondered if Yonghoon knew how much he loved him. Hyungu had a hard time expressing his feelings in detail, and being understood without having to speak, touched him far more than any words could describe in the first place.

So Hyungu kissed him once more, and hoped it was enough. Yonghoon slipped a hand up under Hyungu’s shirt, not actively touching, just resting his palm on his stomach. The heat from his hand was nice and warm.

The reading lamp flickered. Somehow, Yonghoon cuddled closer to him. Yonghoon’s fingers gently stroked his skin, tracing circles into his belly. Hyungu closed his eyes, resting his cheek on Yonghoon’s head.

The entire dorm was quiet. All Hyungu could hear was Yonghoon’s breathing, deep and steady. Hyungu would be lying if he said he didn’t revel in moments like this. He loved the silence, loved having Yonghoon soft and sleepy beside him. As much as he adored music and couldn’t live without it, it only made him appreciate the quiet that much more.

Yonghoon snored against his collarbone. Hyungu reached up to turn the lamp off and settled back against the pillow, allowing himself to fall into the rhythm of sleep.

-

Few things made Hyungu feel as alive as performing on stage. With four of his best friends beside him, he couldn’t believe it was real sometimes. He couldn’t believe how lucky he was.

Giwook and Dongmyeong were in their own world off to the side, spinning and dancing as best as they could with instruments in their hands. Harin smiled brightly, drumming away, sweat dripping down the side of his face. Hyungu glanced over at Yonghoon, singing his heart out, eyes shining bright with tears, and Hyungu couldn’t look away.

His hands began to strum on autopilot. Yonghoon’s voice reverberated in his ears, shaking his bones. Yonghoon stepped closer to him and Hyungu felt his face get hot. Coming up behind him, Yonghoon wrapped a hand around his throat, and Hyungu leaned back against him, tilting his head back to bare his neck. Screams rang out over his in-ears, so loud that they couldn’t be filtered through. Yonghoon’s hand on him squeezed, and Hyungu could feel his forehead against his shoulder before he was gone once again.

He made eye contact with Dongmyeong, who only wiggled his eyebrows. Hyungu spun on his heel, busting through a solo.

The rest of the show went on in blurs of lights and tears and flashing smiles. Hyungu’s blood thrummed through his veins, riding high on the euphoria.

He threw himself onto the couch in the dressing room and shoved a towel on his forehead for the sweat, closing his eyes. Someone tapped his leg and he moved it aside.

Dongmyeong plopped down beside him, the sweat on his skin looking like glitter, and teased, “I can't believe you let Yonghoon hyung grab you like that.” He laughed lightly, “And you still didn’t miss a single chord.”

“Of course I didn’t. Why would I miss a chord?”

Harin chimed in, “You seemed pretty distracted to me!” Hyungu grabbed a cushion off the couch and threw it at him.

Yonghoon burst through the door, shirt half unbuttoned, and announced, “We’re getting fried chicken for dinner!”

From behind him, Giwook waved a phone around, “Yonghoon hyung is paying!”

Yonghoon sat pressed up against Hyungu, throwing an arm around his shoulders. “Guitar God Kang Hyungu,” he sang. He nuzzled his nose into Hyungu’s neck.

Hyungu shoved him away, body still overheated, “That’s disgusting, I’m sweaty.”

“So?” Yonghoon asked. He didn’t seem bothered by it at all. He ran his fingers through Hyungu’s damp hair, nails scratching his scalp. Hyungu leaned into his touch, and Yonghoon continued to idly scratch at his head.

Giwook ordered the food and tossed Yonghoon’s phone back at him. “It said an hour.”

“Gives us plenty of time to go home,” Yonghoon said. He wrapped his arm around Hyungu‘s shoulder and placed a loud, wet kiss to Hyungu’s cheek.

Hyungu groaned loudly, “Why are you obsessed with me? I already told you I’m sweaty!” From beside him, Dongmyeong laughed.

The ride back home was almost entirely in silence. Harin slept against Hyungu’s shoulder. Dongmyeong stared out the window, and Giwook and Yonghoon scrolled mindlessly on their phones.

Giwook’s stomach grumbled. “I can’t wait to eat that chicken,” he said.

Hyungu’s phone buzzed in his lap. He saw Yonghoon’s name on the screen and looked over at him. Yonghoon was sitting in the front passenger seat, looking down at his phone. Another message buzzed through.

yonghoon [12:31am]: hihi~ you did so well today~

yonghoon [12:31am]: my heart fluttered when i looked at you

He could hear Yonghoon snickering to himself in the front seat.

yonghoon [12:32am]: it was hot when you let me grab your neck. let’s do it in private sometime~

Hyungu suppressed a heavy sigh. Harin shifted, turning away from Hyungu’s shoulder, still fast asleep. He couldn’t wait to get home.

hyungu [12:33am]: can you not be ridiculous for five minutes please

He saw that Yonghoon read it, but received no response. He looked over at him and saw that he was still looking down at his phone. Hyungu looked out the window and stared at all of the lights. As they neared the dorm, his phone buzzed again.

yonghoon [12:38am]: it’s been five minutes!!! i love you !! so !! much!! guitar god kang hyungu!!

Hyungu couldn’t help but snort.

Dongmyeong glanced back at him, and then at Yonghoon. “You two are not flirting over text,” he accused.

“It’s just me flirting,” Yonghoon replied, turning to look at him. “You know Hyungu doesn’t indulge me that much.”

They arrived just as the chicken delivery did. Giwook all but ran inside, boxes of chicken in his arms. Hyungu gently shook Harin awake, guiding him inside. They all sat around the table to eat.

“What’s this?” Yonghoon asked, reaching into the plastic bag. “Beer? You bought two whole packs of beer?”

Giwook flashed a silly smile. “You need beer with chicken!”

“What kind of beer is this?” Yonghoon read the label, eyebrows rising. “The alcohol content on this is so high, what—”

Giwook snatched it from him and popped the bottle open, “Hyung, if you’re going to nag then I’ll just drink your share.”

Hyungu wasn’t one to drink much, but he took a bottle that was offered to him, because Giwook was right, one definitely needed beer with fried chicken.

They all ate and slowly trickled off as they began to prepare for bed. Harin was the first to go, exhausted from earlier. Dongmyeong followed not long after. Giwook cleaned up and thanked Yonghoon for buying, before heading off to shower.

Hyungu hiccuped from where he had plopped down onto the couch. “I need a shower,” he said. His skin felt grimy from dried sweat.

Yonghoon, still sitting at the table nursing his third beer, hummed. “We should shower together.”

Hyungu hated that he was buzzed after two beers. He also hated that he loved the idea of that. “Are you serious?”

Moving to sit beside him, Yonghoon laughed, “I’m always serious.” He took a swig of his beer, “Want some?”

“No thanks. I’m practically useless already.” It all went straight to his head.

Yonghoon laughed and kissed his cheek. “Your face is so red,” he said. He reached up to ruffle his hair, sliding his arm around Hyungu’s shoulders.

Hyungu turned his head to look at him and got caught up in the way the light reflected off his irises. Yonghoon held the universe in those eyes. He held galaxies in his smile, his hands, his breath. Hyungu found himself reaching out and grabbed him by the chin, pulling him close to kiss him. Yonghoon pressed into him like he always did, warm and welcome and never close enough.

Hyungu hiccuped into his mouth and Yonghoon laughed, fingers playing with the hair at his nape.

They could hear the bathroom door open and close. Yonghoon asked, “Are you going to join me?”

“Yeah,” Hyungu mumbled, but made no effort to move. He kissed him again, hyper-aware of Yonghoon’s hot breath against his mouth, his teeth lightly biting at his lip. He remembered their performance earlier, the way Yonghoon’s voice enraptured him, left him in a trance. If he could perform on a stage with his best friends until the day he died, he would die happy. “I love you,” Hyungu helplessly slurred.

“I know. I love you, too.” Yonghoon always told him he knew—a gentle reminder that he felt Hyungu’s love for him even if he didn’t say it. “We should get ready for bed. It’s late.”

Hyungu hummed. He was comfortable on the couch with Yonghoon pressed against him.

Much to his dismay, Yonghoon got up and extended his hand to assist him. Hyungu accepted the help, forcing himself up off the couch. He groaned as his vision blurred at the edges. He dragged his feet as he walked.

Yonghoon urged him into the bathroom. “I’ll go get some clean clothes. Don’t make the water too hot.”

Hyungu shoved his dirty clothes into the corner. Exhaustion settled into his bones as he got into the shower. The water pounded down on him, and he hadn’t realized how sore he was until that exact moment. He didn’t move until he heard the door open again. He made room for Yonghoon, stepping aside.

“Water’s too hot,” Yonghoon complained, and turned the knob. Hyungu rolled his eyes and leaned back against the wall, tired. Yonghoon stepped into his space, tilting his chin up to kiss him. “You really did so well today.”

The praise only sent heat to his cheeks. “So did you.”

Yonghoon smiled proudly. “Of course I did. I always do.”

Hyungu smacked his shoulder, “Can you please be humble for once?”

“Absolutely not,” he replied, squeezing shampoo out onto his palm. “Tilt your head back.”

Hyungu’s head spun from the alcohol and from Yonghoon’s nails on his scalp yet again. He closed his eyes, leaning into him a bit, resting his hands on his chest. Yonghoon began to hum, and the urge to sleep began to drag Hyungu down. He breathed, “I’m tired enough, don’t make me fall asleep standing up.”

“Sorry,” Yonghoon amusedly said.

Hyungu wrapped his arms around Yonghoon’s neck, burying his face in the warmth of his chest. Suds and water ran down his face, but he couldn’t bring himself to care.

“Here, stand up straight so we can finish and go to bed, okay?” Yonghoon sounded tired, as well. With a groan, Hyungu did as he was told.

With the heat of the water and the firmness of Yonghoon’s hands on him, Hyungu thought there was nowhere else he would rather be. To have someone who loved him so much, to have someone who made him feel so full of light and stardust—there was nothing more he could ask for.

I love you, he thought to himself as Yonghoon’s palms kissed his skin.

And thank you for loving me.