Staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night always left Yonghoon with a hole in his heart, his brain overloading in the silence. His bed was cold, and he was restless. The long sleeves of his shirt did little to keep him warm.
Glancing over at Hyungu’s empty bed, he sighed. He grabbed his phone, the lack of notifications only further hollowing his chest. His finger hovered over his contact information, tempted to call him. It was late. Yonghoon knew Hyungu was at the studio. Setting his phone aside, he turned to face the wall. He didn’t want to burden him with his own problems.
He closed his eyes, anxiety swirling in his gut. He pulled the blanket tighter around himself, shivering from the cold.
He didn’t know how much time had gone by before he heard the door open. Unsure if it was Hyungu or Harin, he clenched his fists in the blanket. He heard some shuffling, and the sound of clothes rustling. The sound of feet padding against the floor put him on edge.
The blanket peeled back. Yonghoon scooted closer to the wall as Hyungu silently slipped in behind him, slipping his arm around his waist and pressing his lips to his nape. Yonghoon let out a shuddering sigh.
Hyungu whispered, “Oh. You’re still up?” His fingers made their way up under Yonghoon’s shirt. He momentarily recoiled and hissed, “You’re freezing.”
Yonghoon pressed back against him. Hyungu held him close, their hearts beating in tandem.
Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes, sadness settling into his bones. He squeezed his eyes shut and reached down to grab Hyungu‘s hand, lacing their fingers together. He was still shaking.
“Are you okay, hyung?”
Yonghoon knew himself well enough—answering him would only result in crying. He simply shook his head.
He felt Hyungu pull at his shoulder. He turned to face him in the dark, thankful that Hyungu couldn’t properly see his face. Hyungu reached out and wiped at his eyes. Yonghoon felt tears slide along his cheeks.
“I knew you were acting differently,” Hyungu softly said. “I’m sorry for not coming home earlier.”
“You were busy,” Yonghoon breathed, and choked on a sob as he inhaled.
“It doesn’t matter. I’d rather be here if you’re not feeling well.” Hyungu’s lips found Yonghoon’s forehead, and Yonghoon allowed himself to cry, face buried in Hyungu’s neck. He hugged him close, tangling their legs, and Hyungu pressed repeated kisses to his hair. “It’ll be okay, hyung.”
Hearing Hyungu say that to him, Yonghoon wanted to believe him. He wanted to believe that everything would be okay, that the countless seeds of doubt that were sown into his mind would wither rather than bloom. He wanted Hyungu to grow flowers inside of him in their stead. He knew he would tend to them carefully.
“I love you,” Hyungu said, and Yonghoon wished he could worship those words, straight from his mouth.
He said the words back to him, in between sobs. Hyungu grabbed him by the chin, tilting his head up, rubbing his thumb over his damp cheek, and kissed him. Hyungu bled love and sunshine into him, shining down through the storm clouds in his head.
Yonghoon attempted to compose himself, to piece himself back together. He knew he never had to do it alone, but the weight of feeling like a burden sat heavy on his heart. He kissed Hyungu for good measure, to feel his warmth, to reassure himself that he was certainly loved.
Hyungu asked, “Do you need anything from me?”
“This is enough,” Yonghoon muttered.
Hyungu was always enough. He was always the solid comfort Yonghoon seeked, always the light that brought him home. If Yonghoon were ever lost at sea, he would search for Hyungu, his north star.
They had about a week left of their promotions, and Yonghoon was feeling particularly sentimental and hollow. He had watched Hyungu’s previous livestream with Harin, jealousy swirling in his gut. Insecurity got the better of him, and he asked, “Why do you fool around differently with me than with the others?”
“What do you mean?”
Under the false confidence granted to him by the dark, Yonghoon muttered, “You never joke about marrying me like you do with Dongmyeong and Harin.” Typically so sure of himself, Yonghoon hated when he made himself sick with worry.
Hyungu let out a soft laugh, and Yonghoon’s heart sank. “I don’t want to joke about that with you.” Yonghoon’s stomach twisted. He felt nauseated. “If I joke around like that with you, how will you know when I’m serious?”
In an instant, Yonghoon’s breath caught in his throat, heat rising to his face. “Are…are you messing with me?”
“No,” Hyungu sincerely said. “One day, I’ll ask, and I’ll be serious. I don’t want you to think I’m joking.”
Yonghoon began to cry once again. He curled his fists in Hyungu’s shirt and kissed him, galaxies bursting in his heart. Only Hyungu could make him feel so much love at once, overwhelming and beautiful, painting over the darkest parts of him.
“It makes me want to cry when you cry,” Hyungu whispered, wiping Yonghoon’s tears away. “I love you. I mean it when I say it.”
The extent to which Hyungu loved him was hard for him to comprehend. Yonghoon felt love for him deep in his bones, like loving Hyungu had been built into him, like the stars had aligned and placed him in Hyungu’s path on purpose.
The door opened, signaling Harin’s presence. Yonghoon jumped, sniffling and trying to quiet himself. Hyungu kissed his cheek, smoothing down his hair. “Get some rest, hyung. You must be tired.”
Yonghoon was exhausted. Anxiety sucked the life out of him. He pressed his face to Hyungu’s chest, cuddling up to him and closing his eyes. He fell asleep to the sound of Harin shuffling about, and Hyungu breathing against the top of his head.
Hyungu shined on stage. Yonghoon couldn’t believe that Hyungu didn’t know how radiant he was, denied it time and time again. His breath caught in his throat, the sound of the AuRoRa solo rushing through his in-ears. He blinked away the tears in his eyes, and finished the song with his chest constricted.
Yonghoon crowded him in the dressing room afterwards.
Raising an eyebrow, Hyungu reached out and placed his hands on his hips, looking up at him. “What is it?” He appeared a bit flustered, practically pinned to the side of the vanity.
“You did really well today,” Yonghoon said. He tilted his head and pressed a fleeting kiss to the side of his neck, positive that no one saw.
Cheeks red, Hyungu half-assedly attempted to shove him away. “Thanks,” he breathed, embarrassed. Yonghoon continued to press into him. “Yonghoon, what—”
Yonghoon slid his hand down the small of his back, fingertips brushing the line of his ass. “This outfit looks good on you.”
Hyungu’s face was on fire. He pushed Yonghoon away, and the man relented. “It’s just jeans and a shirt,” he muttered. “What’s gotten into you?”
Just jeans and a shirt. Hyungu didn’t have the same view that Yonghoon did. From where he had been standing on stage, he had a perfect view of the way Hyungu’s guitar strap dug into his lower back as he lifted his guitar during his solo, accentuating the curve of his spine. The way the lights had shone down upon him made him look ethereal, a glistening god.
“You’re feeling better today, I’m assuming?” Hyungu asked.
Yonghoon nodded. The sadness that had taken up residence in his heart had left him for now. He recalled their conversation from the night before. He really wouldn’t mind marrying Hyungu. He couldn’t imagine his life without him. The fact that Hyungu had even pondered the idea of marriage made Yonghoon unbelievably giddy, happiness spreading like a beam of light through his chest.
The others joined them, but Yonghoon had a hard time shifting his gaze away from Hyungu. Harin lightly teased him for it, softly asking, “Did someone steal your eyes from you, hyung?”
Yonghoon couldn’t help but smile, shaking his head. He messed around with Giwook, and dramatically draped himself over Dongmyeong’s lap on the couch. Dongmyeong simply played with his hair and picked the knots out from between the strands, slender fingers sliding over his scalp.
They made it home not long after the end of the show. Hyungu turned the lamp on, tossing himself onto Yonghoon’s bed and sighing. His shirt rode up his tummy, exposing the smooth skin there. Yonghoon stared.
Hyungu cracked an eye open to glance at him. “You’re being so weird,” he commented.
“Well, you’re laying on my bed.”
Hyungu laughed. He splayed himself out even more. “I’m always on your bed.”
Yonghoon closed the distance between them and sat directly on Hyungu’s hips. His belt dug into Yonghoon’s stomach as he leaned forward, grazing his lips over Hyungu’s. “You are always on my bed, aren’t you?”
The smile that Hyungu gave him made his heart sing. He kissed him, and Hyungu slid his hands into his hair, gently holding him. Yonghoon loved him dearly, loved this man made of starlight and moondust. He was convinced Hyungu carried fragments of the galaxy in his veins.
Sliding his hands up Hyungu’s chest, Yonghoon felt the rise and fall of his breath. He felt Hyungu’s warmth radiating onto him. Hyungu kissed him easily, like he knew where Yonghoon’s lips were going to go, always one step ahead.
Yonghoon loved that about him, loved that Hyungu knew him well enough to know where to begin and where to end. Hyungu knew his body, perhaps better than he knew it himself.
Yonghoon kissed the constellations on his neck, lips tracing the light freckles there. He slipped his hand under Hyungu’s shirt, feeling him shudder beneath him.
“Someone could come in here, you didn’t even lock the door,” Hyungu reminded him, shoving at his hand. He was red from the tips of his ears to the hollow of his neck.
“Maybe later, then,” Yonghoon breathed, pulling away. He dragged his palm against Hyungu’s stomach for good measure. Hyungu sat up, looking embarrassed. He grabbed the hem of his shirt and shoved it down. “As if that could stop me,” Yonghoon joked.
“It’s a futile effort, but one nonetheless,” Hyungu weakly replied.
Yonghoon kissed him again, grabbing his face. Hyungu let out a breathless laugh into his mouth, pressing back on his palms to keep himself upright.
As they pulled away, Hyungu looked up at him and Yonghoon simply held his face in his hands, staring at the way his eyes shined, the surface of the moon sparkling inside of them. He ran his thumbs over Hyungu’s cheeks, chasing the galaxies housed in his irises. Hyungu tilted his head, a smile playing at the edges of his lips, and blinked. The universe curved and twisted in his pupils.
Yonghoon couldn’t find the right words for a smart remark. He stared for as long as Hyungu would let him, eyes desperately tracing the planets in his gaze.
Hyungu softly asked, “What are you looking for?”
Yonghoon breathed, “I’d say my way home, but I think I’m already here.”
“Oh, no, that was cheesy,” Hyungu dramatically complained, lightly shoving at him. He flopped back down onto the mattress, hands settling on Yonghoon’s thighs, caging him in.
“I better not be interrupting anything,” Harin’s voice said as he shoved the door open.
Startled, Yonghoon quickly slid from Hyungu’s lap, cheeks flushing at how compromising their position had been.
Harin looked at both of them, blissfully unaware, shaking his head with a small grin on his face. “I should just go room with Dongmyeong and Giwook.” He grabbed clothes to change into and waved it around as he walked back out of the room. “I’m going to shower.” He closed the door behind him and Hyungu pulled on Yonghoon’s wrist.
Yonghoon fell against him, curling up to his side. Hyungu wrapped an arm around him and pressed his face to the top of Yonghoon’s head. He smoothed his hand over Yonghoon’s arm, gently rubbing where the hem of his sleeve met his skin.
Nuzzling into his side, Yonghoon pressed his nose into him. They were still wearing their stage outfits. Yonghoon had taken off his jewelry earlier. He wiggled his hand under Hyungu’s shirt once more.
Hyungu snorted, reaching down to place his hand on top of Yonghoon’s, over his shirt. “You’re persistent,” Hyungu amusedly whispered.
“Can you blame me?” Yonghoon wanted to be close to him, wanted to feel Hyungu’s warmth against his skin. He scooted up and kissed him, thinking that it would never be enough. He would never get sick of Hyungu. He wanted all of him at any given moment.
Hyungu shifted and hugged him tightly, arm wedged between Yonghoon’s side and the mattress. He pressed his hands into the small of his back, hooking his fingers in his belt loops. Yonghoon felt himself melting into him.
Hyungu said, “We should change.”
Yonghoon groaned into his neck. “I don’t want to move.”
“Maybe in a bit, then.”
Yonghoon sighed, closing his eyes. Hyungu kissed his forehead and Yonghoon’s heart wanted to burst. He nuzzled closer, pushing his nose into Hyungu’s skin, and basked in the feeling of being beside him, warm and content.
Sitting under the dim lighting of the balcony, Yonghoon scribbled. His pencil danced along the page, handwriting sloppy. The stars twinkled above him, the moon a half-crescent, waning. He heard the door open, squeaking on its hinges.
“What are you doing out here?”
Yonghoon looked up from his notebook, sitting up straight. His spine cracked as he sat up, hunched over on the bench for entirely too long. “Writing,” he said as Hyungu sat beside him.
“Lyrics?” Hyungu asked.
“Kind of. I’m just writing anything.” Yonghoon stared down at the page, cheeks flaring as his eyes scanned over the words.
Hyungu pressed into his side and asked, “What? Why are you blushing?”
He quickly shut his notebook, hyper aware of the contents. “Nothing! I mean, not nothing, it’s—you can’t read it yet.” Hyungu raised an eyebrow. “It’s about you,” Yonghoon confessed, “and it’s not done, so you can’t see it.”
Hyungu smiled softly at him, so full of love. The moon illuminated the high points of his cheeks, shining on his hair, the stars dancing in his irises, and Yonghoon felt the familiar prickle of tears in his eyes. Hyungu’s eyes settled on his mouth, and Yonghoon surged forward, closing the small gap between them.
Yonghoon recalled the first time he met Hyungu. They were both so young, all awkward limbs and flushed cheeks. Hyungu still had the same wide eyes, the same shy smile that Yonghoon had dreamt of time and time again.
Now, Yonghoon held his hands, the same hands that created the music in his heart, the same hands that caressed the deepest parts of his soul, that gently plucked the pain from his psyche. He laced their fingers together and silently thanked the universe for lending him a piece of the cosmos.
Yonghoon loved Hyungu from the day he met him. The first few months of getting to know each other made his heart flutter, of Hyungu stealing glances at him and blushing every time Yonghoon made eye contact with him. They were young and unsure of themselves, but their belief stitched them together so deliberately, fates intertwined.
Watching Hyungu play the guitar felt like something sacred, like Yonghoon should have gotten on his knees and prayed directly to him. He still felt that way, watching Hyungu lose himself in chords he crafted so carefully. The way Hyungu lost himself in the music, closing his eyes and scrunching up his nose—Yonghoon wished he could carve the imagery into the backs of his eyelids.
Yonghoon curled his fingers around Hyungu’s nape, feeling Hyungu’s breath hot against his lips. Hyungu’s hand splayed out over his thigh, nails curling into his pajama pants. Yonghoon breathed, “I love you,” and still felt like it wasn’t enough.
Hyungu took a moment, catching his breath. He said, “I love you, too.”
Yonghoon was so grateful for the man in front of him. Hyungu was an anchor, keeping him from drifting away. When the world became overwhelming, when his brain wreaked havoc inside of him, Hyungu was there. He didn’t like to put too much pressure on Hyungu, didn’t want him to feel burdened or stressed if he knew the impact he had.
So Yonghoon loved him fiercely, and attempted to show him at any given moment. Hyungu smiled and blushed, and told Yonghoon that he was too much, but as long as he knew how loved he was, Yonghoon was content.
The icy night air cut through them, sending a shiver straight down Yonghoon’s spine. Hyungu rubbed his arm, his palm hot despite the temperature. “We should go inside,” Hyungu suggested. “You’ll catch a cold.”
Yonghoon nodded, gathering his things. Hyungu waited for him, lacing their fingers together as they made their way back inside.
Grabbing his phone from the table, Yonghoon said, “Oh, it’s late.” The screen read 4:53.
“It’s early,” Hyungu pointed out. “I went to go get you to bring you to bed, but you distracted me.”
Yonghoon laughed softly and rested his head on Hyungu‘s shoulder, “Let’s go to bed, then.” They had a schedule today—Yonghoon would only be able to get two hours of sleep, but it was better than nothing.
They both made their way to the bedroom, quiet to not wake Harin, who was sleeping soundly in his bed. Hyungu slid into Yonghoon’s bed easily, like he belonged there. If one were to ask Yonghoon, he’d say he did. Yonghoon slotted himself up against his side, sighing contentedly, hugging him tightly.
Sleep weighed heavy on his eyelids, suddenly exhausted as his head touched the pillow. Hyungu’s fingers found their way into his hair. He muttered out a soft, “I love you,” before falling asleep almost immediately.
He didn’t have to hear it to know that Hyungu said the words back to him.