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Mamihlapinatapai

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Mamihlapinatapai

(ma-mE-la-pin-ya-ta-pi)

(n.) A wordless, yet meaningful look between two people who both desire to initiate something, but both are too scared to initiate themselves.

 

x

 

Wonwoo gets this way, sometimes.

 

He gets quiet, falling into himself, sitting on his own in an empty room when all of the other members are gathered together in another. He sits, alone, with a book in his hands while Soonyoung and Jihoon banter back and forth, Seokmin yelling along with them, and the rest cackle at their antics. He says he’s reading, wants to take advantage of his downtime, but Mingyu notices he never actually turns a page.

 

Mingyu’s tried keeping him company before, trying to coax Wonwoo out from the walls he barricades himself behind, but he’d failed. Every time Mingyu tried to strike up conversation, the only answers he got from Wonwoo were quiet grunts, his eyes glassy as he stared off somewhere Mingyu couldn’t see.

 

Mingyu stopped trying after that.

 

He doesn’t try to coax Wonwoo out of his moods anymore, but he’s been getting better at predicting when they’re going to happen so he can be ready when they do. Wonwoo creates distance slowly, staying quiet unless spoken directly to, schooling his face into the smooth mask he wears on stage, excusing himself from spending time with the members, saying he’s tired, he wants to sit and read, anything to get Soonyoung to stop tugging at his shirtsleeves and trying to con him into whatever it is that Soonyoung’s getting himself into that day. He does it to all the members, even Seungcheol, who raises a skeptical eyebrow but lets Wonwoo go, no questions asked.

 

Wonwoo eats a lot less, too, only coming out for meals when Jeonghan grabs him by the hand and sits him down, shoving a bowl of rice in his direction. Wonwoo only eats it all when Jeonghan demands he finish, but as soon as the bowl is clean he slinks back into isolation like whatever interactions he had during mealtime never happened.

 

Mingyu will keep a close eye on him, then, making sure he’s still eating right and staying hydrated, bringing Wonwoo snacks and water and trying to stay as nonchalant about it as he can until Wonwoo works himself out of his funk on his own. Mingyu tells himself he’s not upset when he sees the snacks he brings unopened or only half eaten, abandoned on the floor.

 

Wonwoo always comes out of it after a couple of days, bright smile back on his face as he jumps into a dog pile, cackling along with Hansol when he sticks his wet finger in Seungkwan’s ear while Seungkwan’s trapped on the floor, helpless under the bodies of his bandmates. He usually asks for chicken for dinner, giggling when Jihoon swats at him and tells him to go make it himself.

 

It’s a cycle. Mingyu doesn’t really understand it but he knows it comes and goes, which is why he gets so panicked when Wonwoo falls into one of his moods after a long week of promotions and doesn’t come back out.

 

It lasts for weeks and Wonwoo gets sicker and sicker, his complexion going pallid, cheeks hollowing and eyes sinking into his skull. He stops eating, says he can’t keep anything down, and gets so thin it’s frightening. The managers blame it on a nasty bug and pump Wonwoo full of meds to kick it, but Mingyu can see it, in the glassy reflection of Wonwoo’s eyes, that there’s way more to it than a bad flu virus.

 

That’s how it starts.

 

x

 

It’s been three weeks since Wonwoo fell sick, and he’s pumped full of so many medications that he barely moves anymore. He barely speaks even when spoken to, only eats when the managers force him, and Mingyu can see it, written all over the faces of the other members, fear and worry and frustration because they don’t know what they can do to help.

 

Wonwoo is curled up on the couch, tangled up in a mass of blankets with only the top half of his face peeking out. Reruns of a drama Mingyu knows Wonwoo’s seen before are playing on the TV, but Wonwoo’s not watching, his sunken eyes downcast, staring unseeingly at the floor. Wonwoo’s not allowed to come with them for schedule, the managers keeping him home so he can recover, and Mingyu would bet anything that Wonwoo hasn’t moved from that spot all day.

 

Mingyu and the rest of the members just got home, their schedule running late enough that they decided to order takeout instead of cooking dinner. Mingyu saunters into the room, sitting on the couch opposite and tucking his feet up under him, eyes on Wonwoo’s blank face. Wonwoo barely acknowledged Mingyu’s presence when he entered the room, and when Seungcheol announces that the food has arrived and the other members stampede through the dorm to get to the kitchen, Wonwoo doesn’t even flinch.

 

“Wonwoo-yah,” Mingyu says, voice soft. Wonwoo doesn’t answer, but his eyes flit up to Mingyu’s face for a quick second before dropping back down to the floor. “Wonwoo-yah, look at me,” he tries again, voice a little more forceful, a little more demanding.

 

Wonwoo’s eyes lift to Mingyu’s face once more and, to Mingyu’s surprise, stay there. His expression shifts from completely blank to something Mingyu can’t quite read. Wonwoo’s lips part and he lets out a breath, like he’s waiting for something. Mingyu swallows thickly. “The food’s here. Do you want me to bring you some?”

 

Wonwoo swallows, eyes locked on Mingyu’s like he’s searching for something, and then his entire body slumps, and Mingyu loses Wonwoo’s gaze again.

 

Mingyu sighs, frustrated. Not with Wonwoo but with himself for being unable to get Wonwoo up, to get him to move, to make any kind of expression or give any reaction that lets Mingyu know he’s okay.

 

But over and over again he gets nothing.

 

Mingyu sighs again and heaves himself up on the couch, making his way into the kitchen to get his share of the food before the rest of the members tear through it. He grabs a plate for himself and loads it up, and on second thought, fills a second for Wonwoo.

 

“He still doesn’t want to eat?” That’s Hansol, eyeing the second plate in Mingyu’s hands with a concerned look on his face.

 

Mingyu shrugs. “I asked him if he wanted some food, but he didn’t answer me. So.”

 

Hansol pats Mingyu in the shoulder, a sad smile on his face. “The managers say he’s getting better.”

 

They say so, but Mingyu knows they’re lying through their teeth. Wonwoo looks worse now than he ever has, falling deeper into the abyss, not crawling out of it.

 

Everyone’s convinced that Wonwoo just has a bad case of the flu, but Mingyu knows better. He noticed the signs, noticed Wonwoo shying away and creating distance like he always does before he gets caught up in one of his moods, so Mingyu had been expecting it when they woke up a few days later and Wonwoo had fallen mute, refusing to come out and eat breakfast, only getting out of bed when Jihoon went into his room and ordered him to get up and get dressed.

 

He was fine for a couple days, following schedule and going along as normally as he could, but he still wasn't eating, barely sleeping, and on the fourth day he passed out before one of the group’s scheduled interviews. It was one of the scariest things Mingyu had ever seen - Wonwoo’s whole body locked up for a split second, his eyes rolling back into his head before he went completely limp, crashing heavily to the floor. The rest of the schedule for the day was cancelled and the rest of the members were sent home while Wonwoo was rushed to the hospital.

 

When he finally came home hours later, it was with an order from the doctors that he was to do nothing but rest until he kicked his illness, and a battery of prescriptions.

 

“Yeah,” Mingyu says in lieu of a real answer, of telling Hansol that Wonwoo’s not getting better because he’s not sick, at least not in the way that everyone seems to think he is. “I’m going to see if I can get him to eat something.”

 

Hansol just nods, patting Mingyu’s shoulder once more before joining the rest of the members around the table, slinging an arm around Minghao’s shoulder as he sits. He eyes Mingyu as Mingyu turns to leave, an unreadable look on his face, but something in Mingyu’s gut tells him it’s pity.

 

Mingyu feels like he should be surprised when he returns to the room Wonwoo’s in and Wonwoo’s still in the exact same position, but he’s not. He hates that he’s gotten used to seeing Wonwoo this way.

 

Instead of sitting on the opposite couch again Mingyu takes a seat right next to Wonwoo. “I brought you food,” he says, setting the plate on the bit of cushion between them.

 

Wonwoo eyes the plate but still says nothing, gaze flitting between the food and Mingyu’s face a few times before he looks away once more.

 

“It’s your favorite chicken,” Mingyu tries again. He picks up a piece of the chicken with his chopsticks and holds it up to Wonwoo, but the other boy doesn’t give it a second glance. Mingyu presses his lips into a thin line. He knows Wonwoo has to be starving. He probably has barely eaten anything all day and anything he did eat was probably just picked at. “Please,” Mingyu says, begging now. “You need to eat.”

 

To Mingyu’s surprise Wonwoo reacts to that, tensing for a moment and peeking out a bit more from the mountain of blankets he’s buried under. There’s that same look on his face from earlier, when Mingyu had commanded Wonwoo to look at him. It’s the most expression Mingyu has seen from him in weeks, and he still looks so vulnerable, so small, but under that he looks hopeful.

 

Mingyu takes a deep breath and raises the chicken up again. “Open your mouth,” he says, and Wonwoo just - he does.

 

Wonwoo’s lips part, easy, and he keeps them open, waiting. Mingyu sucks in a shaky breath, barely keeping the quiver out of his hands as he places the chicken into Wonwoo’s mouth. “Eat,” he says, and Wonwoo closes his mouth and starts chewing.

 

He starts chewing.

 

Mingyu feels like screaming with joy, like jumping up onto the couch and shouting because once Wonwoo’s swallowed the piece of chicken in his mouth he opens up and waits patiently for another. He’s eating. He’s eating.

 

Slowly, piece by piece, Mingyu feeds Wonwoo all of the chicken on his plate, and then all of the pieces on Mingyu’s. Mingyu could cry he’s so happy, and it might just be the wave of emotion running through him but he swears Wonwoo’s cheeks look a little more pink, his eyes a little less sunken.

 

“Good boy,” Mingyu blurts out before he can stop himself, overwhelmed with happiness because this is the most progress Wonwoo has made towards getting better in weeks and Wonwoo - he preens, he fucking smiles and leans into Mingyu’s side, resting his head on Mingyu’s shoulder.

 

They sit like that for some time, until the other members start making a ruckus again deciding who’s going to clean the dishes. Mingyu shifts to get up and go help, and when he nudges Wonwoo to get him to lift his head up, Wonwoo makes a noise in the back of his throat that makes Mingyu freezes with his hand on Wonwoo’s chest.

 

Wonwoo whimpers, pressing closer into Mingyu’s side. He whines, high in his throat, and he sounds so needy that Mingyu seriously considers just staying where he is, letting the others take care of the cleaning up, but there’s another stronger part of Mingyu that’s panicking, just a bit. He needs to get up and away from Wonwoo, just for a few minutes, an hour max, maybe, to sort out what the fuck is going on right now, and then he’ll be fine. Peachy.

 

“Wonwoo, get up,” Mingyu orders. His voice is gentle but Wonwoo obeys like he’d shouted, pulling away from Mingyu and immediately sinking back into his nest of blankets. His face is blank again but somehow he still looks sad, dejected, like a small child. Mingyu draws his lower lip between his teeth, worrying it for a moment before he reaches out tentatively, placing a hand on Wonwoo’s jaw to get Wonwoo to look at him. “I’m going to help clean up, and then I’ll be back, okay? Stay here until I’m done.”

 

Ordering Wonwoo to stay put was probably unnecessary, as Mingyu’s pretty sure Wonwoo hasn’t moved from his spot on the couch all day, but the way Wonwoo’s face lights up when Mingyu says the words is so refreshing that it makes Mingyu’s chest tight, overwhelmed with seeing emotion on Wonwoo’s face again after he’s been completely blank for weeks.

 

Mingyu gives a small smile and pats Wonwoo’s cheek before pulling his hand away and gathering up his and Wonwoo’s plates. He makes his way into the kitchen where everybody else has cleared out except for Chan, Joshua, and Hansol who’ve gotten stuck on dish duty.

 

Hansol raises an eyebrow at Mingyu when he sets the plates with the other dirty dishes. “You ate both servings?” He sounds a bit accusatory, and Mingyu’s skin prickles.

 

“No,” Mingyu says. “Wonwoo did.”

 

Hansol drops the plate he’d been washing and it clatters to the floor, breaking into pieces. Chan and Joshua have stopped cleaning, too, staring wide-eyed at Mingyu like he’s just sprouted a second head.

 

“What?” Joshua blurts out as Hansol scrambles to grab the broom. “He’s barely eaten anything substantial in weeks and you’re telling me he ate two whole servings of chicken just now? How did you -?”

 

“I don’t know,” Mingyu admits. “I just - I told him he needed to eat and then to open his mouth and he - he did? And then I just, like, fed him? He ate everything, and I swear he even looked healthier when he was done.”

 

Joshua blows out a breath, cheeks puffing. He looks relieved. “I never thought the key to getting him to eat again would be to hand feed him.”

 

“It’s not,” Chan pipes up, and Joshua turns to him with an odd look on his face. Hansol putters back into the kitchen, broom in hand.

 

“Huh?”

 

“It’s not just hand feeding,” Chan elaborates. “I tried that the other day, and he wasn’t having any of it.”

 

“Maybe it’s because it was Mingyu feeding him,” Hansol says from the floor where he’s sweeping up the little bits of porcelain that were too small for him to gather with his hands. Mingyu balks at him. Hansol rolls his eyes. “Is that really so far-fetched? You and Wonwoo have always had a different kind of relationship.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Mingyu asks.

 

Hansol stands, dumping the small bits of porcelain into the trash. “It’s not a bad thing,” he says. “I just mean that you’ve always treated Wonwoo differently than you treat the others. You watch him.”

 

“I watch everybody,” Mingyu says.

 

“Not the way you watch Wonwoo,” Hansol says. Joshua and Chan hum their agreement.

 

“Yeah,” Joshua says. “I’ve caught you staring at Wonwoo more than I’ve caught Seungcheol staring at Jeonghan and they’ve been fucking for a year straight.”

 

Mingyu sputters, trying to argue but be can’t because it’s true. He just didn’t think anyone noticed. “I worry about him, that’s all.”

 

Joshua snorts a laugh. “I know. We’re not judging you. Honestly if this is what it takes to get Wonwoo to recover, then please, by all means, keep doing it.”

 

“You don’t think it’s weird?” Mingyu asks.

 

“Ming,” Hansol says. “We live in a dorm with nine other guys, most of who are hooking up on the regular. This is not the weirdest thing we’ve ever heard of going down in this dorm.”

 

“l caught Junhui hyung going down on Minghao hyung last week,” Chan says. A short silence follows his remark, and then all four boys burst into a fit of giggles.

 

Mingyu stifles his laughter, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. “I just don’t want to mess him up, or something,” he says. “He only does what I ask him to when I order him around. That can’t be healthy for him, can it?”

 

“I think if it's working and he’s getting better, then obviously it’s okay,” Joshua says. “He might be sick, but he’s not incompetent. I’m sure if he didn’t like it he’d just ignore you like he does every other time somebody tries to get him to eat. Or sleep. Or shower.” Joshua makes a face, looking contemplative for a moment. “Try to get him to bathe tonight, won’t you? He’s getting a bit smelly.”

 

Mingyu gives a wry smile. “I’ll see what I can do. I kind of left him hanging, so I should get back so he knows I’m not like, abandoning him or something.”

 

Hansol and Chan nod, returning their focus to the pile of dirty dishes that still need to be cleaned. Joshua trails Mingyu as he exits the kitchen, stopping him just outside the doorway.

 

“You should talk to Jeonghan,” Joshua says. Mingyu furrows his eyebrows, confused. “Just trust me. He’ll probably be able to give you better advice on how to handle this than I can.”

 

Mingyu nods. “Thanks, hyung,” he says, and Joshua pulls him into a quick hug before returning to the kitchen, leaving Mingyu to his own devices.

 

Wonwoo is still bundled in his cocoon of blankets when Mingyu enters the room again, but instead of regarding Mingyu with the same blank indifference he’s been giving everyone for weeks, Wonwoo’s face lights up in a smile again. Mingyu can’t help but smile back, settling down beside Wonwoo and running a hand through his hair. Mingyu realizes how right Joshua was about getting Wonwoo to bathe; his hair is heavy with natural oils, looking almost wet on his head. Now that Wonwoo’s cheeks are looking a bit more pink, the discrepancies in his appearance elsewhere are startlingly noticeable.

 

“You need to take a bath,” Mingyu says as Wonwoo leans into him. Wonwoo closes his eyes and hums. “Before you go to bed, understood?”

 

Wonwoo nods against Mingyu’s shoulder. “Good boy,” Mingyu says, and he knows he’s not imagining the way Wonwoo shudders at the words.

 

They sit there for quite a while, Mingyu petting through Wonwoo’s hair regardless of how dirty it is because it makes Wonwoo settle into him, dozing off and snoring lightly against Mingyu’s shoulder. Mingyu knows Wonwoo hasn’t been sleeping well, can see it in the deep purple bags under his eyes, and any chance he has to get Wonwoo to sleep deeply for a little while, he’s going to take it.

 

He has to snap sharply at Seungkwan when he traipses through the room, singing loudly on his way to the bathroom to wash up before bed, and Seungkwan looks like he’s going to sass back until he notices Wonwoo sleeping against Mingyu, and the fight drains from his face. He smiles softly and utters a quiet apology, going the rest of the way to the bathroom in silence.

 

By the time Mingyu nudges Wonwoo awake all the other members have already settled into bed, leaving the bathroom open. “Wonwoo-yah,” Mingyu calls softly, petting Wonwoo’s cheeks to rouse him. “Wake up.”

 

Wonwoo whines, but his eyes crack open, and the way he stares sleepily up at Mingyu has Mingyu’s chest going all tingly and tight. “Tired,” Wonwoo says.

 

Mingyu gasps lightly. Wonwoo hasn’t opened his mouth to speak to anyone in days, and hearing his voice, rough and scratchy with disuse, fills Mingyu with so much emotion that he could cry. “You need to take a bath,” he says, trying not to let his voice come out as choked up as he feels. “Come on, get up.”

 

Mingyu gets up first, sticking his hands under Wonwoo’s armpits and picking him up off the couch, settling him on his feet once Wonwoo gets his legs under him. Wonwoo’s dressed only in a dirty white t-shirt that he probably hasn’t changed in who knows how long and a pair of ratty grey sweatpants that look absolutely huge on his skinny frame. Mingyu grabs one of the blankets from Wonwoo’s nest and throws it around Wonwoo’s shoulders. “Come,” he says, and Wonwoo follows on his heels all the way to the bathroom.

 

Mingyu closes and locks the door once they’re inside, and turns his back to Wonwoo to start filling the tub. Once the water is pleasantly warm and the tub half filled, Mingyu turns back to Wonwoo. He’s standing in the exact same spot, eyeing the tub like he’s not exactly sure what he’s supposed to do with it.

 

Sighing as he realizes he’s probably going to have to coax Wonwoo into the tub, Mingyu stands and gently pulls the blanket from Wonwoo’s shoulders, letting it fall to pool on the floor. “Take your clothes off,” he says, and for all his hesitation just a moment ago, Wonwoo barely even blinks as he pulls his shirt over his head and shucks his sweatpants down his legs, standing in front of Mingyu completely naked.

 

This isn’t the first time Mingyu has seen Wonwoo naked, but it’s the first time Wonwoo’s naked body has left Mingyu in shock. He’s so thin, his skin wrapped so tight around his ribs that Mingyu can count them, hipbones protruding like sharp peaks from Wonwoo’s pelvis, his tummy concave even as he stands. Wonwoo’s shivering, unable to keep himself warm without something covering his body, and Mingyu is hit with the realization of just how important it is that he does everything in his power to help Wonwoo get better.

 

Mingyu swallows hard and looks away, checking the water once more and shutting the faucet off when the water level is high enough. He takes a breath before facing Wonwoo again, who’s crossed his skinny arms over his chest to try to take back some of his lost warmth.

 

“The bath is ready,” Mingyu says. “Get in.”

 

Wonwoo inches over to the tub, arms still crossed as he picks his foot up to step in. He wobbles, so Mingyu places his hands on Wonwoo’s hips to steady him, trying not to think about how absolutely frail Wonwoo feels under his hands. “Easy,” he says as Wonwoo sinks to settle in the water, his face flushing as his body is wrapped in heat. Wonwoo settles against the back of the tub, sliding down the porcelain so far that Mingyu panics and yanks him back up again before his head sinks under. Wonwoo looks shocked, like he was surprised that he sank so far so fast. Mingyu puffs out a breath and makes a decision, pulling his own sweater up and over his head. Wonwoo watches with a steady gaze as Mingyu gets naked, his lips parting just barely as Mingyu strips out of his briefs.

 

“Scoot up,” Mingyu says, sliding into the tub behind Wonwoo when Wonwoo gives him enough space. Mingyu lets Wonwoo settle back against his chest, between his parted legs so he’s comfortable.

 

All of the members have showered together before out of necessity, but sitting completely naked in the bath with Wonwoo nestled against his chest is reaching a new level of intimacy that Mingyu’s never experienced before. Sure, he’s had sex with the other members more times than he can count, but rushed hook ups in closets and under bed covers are nothing compared to the feeling of Wonwoo’s body against his, even as skinny and frail as he currently is.

 

Forcing himself away from that train of thought, Mingyu reaches over to grab the body wash and one of the multiple fluffy loofas Seokmin keeps hanging on his shower caddy, squeezing a dollop of the body wash onto it. Mingyu works it into a lather before he reaches into the water to grab Wonwoo’s wrist and raise his arm.

 

Mingyu washes Wonwoo methodically, trying to focus less on how Wonwoo sighs contently as Mingyu works the loofa over his naked skin and more on just getting Wonwoo clean. Mingyu washes everywhere but hands Wonwoo the loofa and tells him to clean between his legs on his own because Mingyu’s really not ready for that. It feels way too much like taking advantage when Wonwoo’s in this state, doing everything Mingyu tells him with no protest.

 

Wonwoo takes the loofa from Mingyu and Mingyu tells himself that the look on Wonwoo’s face is not disappointment as Wonwoo dips his hand into the water to clean himself. Wonwoo gives the loofa back to Mingyu when he’s done, and Mingyu hangs it back on Seokmin’s caddy before he cups water in his hands, dumping it over Wonwoo’s head to wet his hair.

 

Wonwoo hums in pleasure as Mingyu works the shampoo and conditioner through his hair, pushing his head into the press of Mingyu’s fingers against his scalp. Mingyu rinses Wonwoo’s hair thoroughly, pressing a small kiss to Wonwoo’s temple when he’s done. “Time to get out,” he says.

 

Mingyu nudges Wonwoo forward so he can climb out of the tub, pulling the plug to drain the water as he does so. Wonwoo watches as Mingyu grabs a towel and wraps it around his waist. “Up,” Mingyu says once his towel is secure, holding both hands out to steady Wonwoo as he rises out of the water. Mingyu can’t help the way his eyes trail down Wonwoo’s body, following the leftover suds of soap as they slip down over Wonwoo’s concave belly, past his navel and over his jutting hips -

 

Mingyu sucks in a stilted breath.

 

Wonwoo is hard. Very hard. His erection juts out from between his thighs, the tip flushed red, but Wonwoo seems to be paying it absolutely no mind, still using Mingyu’s arms as support as he steps out of the bath tub. Once he’s out of the tub and steady on his feet Mingyu grabs a towel and starts drying him off, ruffling his hair to stop it from dripping. He ties the towel around Wonwoo’s waist, staunchly ignoring the way Wonwoo’s erection tents it in the front, and throws the blanket over his shoulders to keep him warm until Mingyu can bring him clean clothes.

 

“Stay,” Mingyu says. “I’ll be right back, okay?”

 

Wonwoo nods, pulling the blanket tighter around himself.

 

Mingyu exits the bathroom and makes his way towards his shared room, moving as quietly as he can so he doesn’t wake Jihoon, Jeonghan, and Seungcheol, who are all sleeping soundly. Mingyu grabs two shirts and two pairs of sweatpants, dressing himself quickly before he leaves to bring the other set of clothes to Wonwoo.

 

He reenters the bathroom and Wonwoo smiles at him again. Mingyu tries to ignore the way his heart flutters as he helps Wonwoo dress, pulling the shirt over his head and his arms through the armholes, stripping him of the towel and helping him step into the sweatpants. His erection has flagged, thankfully, so Mingyu can stop thinking about it as he wraps Wonwoo back up in the blanket and leads him out to the living room, flicking on the lights.

 

“We’ll sleep together tonight, okay?” Mingyu says, and Wonwoo nods in eager acceptance. His damp hair flops in his face and it makes him look so much younger, like he’s fifteen again, fresh faced and weak in the knees.

 

Mingyu gathers the blankets that Wonwoo had used to cocoon himself in earlier and dresses the couch with them, rolling the thickest one up to create a makeshift pillow. “Come lay down,” Mingyu says and Wonwoo lays himself on the couch, still wrapped up in his blanket. Mingyu lets out a breathy laugh and untangles Wonwoo, settling the blanket on top of him instead.

 

Mingyu shuts off the lights, leaving the room illuminated by nothing but the glow of the moon. He nudges Wonwoo forward and lays down on the couch behind him, letting Wonwoo settle back against his chest. Mingyu tugs Wonwoo’s blanket to cover both of them, yanking another over them as well to make sure that Wonwoo stays warm. He slips an arm around Wonwoo’s tummy and tugs him close.

 

Pressing his nose into the back of Wonwoo’s neck Mingyu lets his eyes fall closed. He breathes steadily and feels it when Wonwoo matches his own breathing to Mingyu’s pace. It’s only a few minutes until Mingyu feels himself dozing off, warm and content with Wonwoo spooned against him. Wonwoo seems to be right on the edge of sleep as well.

 

Mingyu’s nearly unconscious when he feels Wonwoo shift in his arms. Mingyu cracks an eye open and meets Wonwoo’s gaze. Wonwoo’s watching Mingyu with more awareness and intent than Mingyu’s seen in his gaze in weeks, and before Mingyu can open his mouth to ask Wonwoo what he needs, Wonwoo’s pressing their lips together in a bare breath of a kiss. “Thank you,” Wonwoo murmurs when he pulls away, and he shifts back to his original position, leaving Mingyu with warm cheeks and a pounding heart.

 

Mingyu pulls Wonwoo tight to him again, nuzzling into him, and vows then that he’ll do whatever it takes to help Wonwoo get better.

 

He falls asleep to the rhythmic rise and fall of Wonwoo’s breathing.

 

x

 

There’s no schedule today, a rare day off, so it’s not a surprise when Mingyu’s roused from sleep by the sound of the other members bustling about the dorm, pot and pans clanking together in the kitchen as they prepare breakfast.

 

Mingyu glances down at Wonwoo. He’s turned to face Mingyu in his sleep, eyes closed and lips parted as he breathes. He’s snoring the slightest bit and Mingyu can’t help the small smile that breaks out on his face, enamoured by the boy in front of him.

 

“God, you look so sickeningly in love right now it’s making me gag.”

 

Mingyu jumps so hard he jostles Wonwoo, head whipping to where Junhui’s sitting on the opposite couch, a knowing smirk on his lips. “You scared the shit out of me,” Mingyu scolds.

 

Junhui laughs. “Sorry, sorry,” he says. “But seriously, you look like you just discovered the secrets of the universe or something. It’s gross.”

 

“Fuck off,” Mingyu says. Junhui’s messing around like he always does, but for some reason, it’s rubbing him the wrong way this morning.

 

Junhui seems to catch the drift that Mingyu’s not in the mood to deal with his bullshit right now, putting his hands up in surrender. “Alright, okay,” he concedes. “Anyways, breakfast is almost ready if you and sleeping beauty want to come eat.”

 

With that, Junhui heaves himself up off the couch and skips off to the kitchen, leaving Mingyu alone with Wonwoo once more. He’s still sleeping soundly, breaths whistling out from between his parted lips, and Mingyu’s struck suddenly with an overwhelming wave of adoration for the boy sleeping against his chest.

 

Mingyu gently lifts a hand to trace down the slope of Wonwoo’s nose, over the cupid’s bow of his lips. It’s not often that Mingyu gets to appreciate Wonwoo’s beauty like this; of course he knows Wonwoo’s attractive, would have to be blind not to see it, but he’s never let himself look too long. It’s true that his eyes are drawn to Wonwoo more often than they’re drawn to any of the other members, but Mingyu never lets his eyes rest on him for long, afraid of putting Wonwoo off.

 

The casual hookups between members started a few months before their debut, when Seungcheol and Jeonghan were literally caught with their pants down in one of the studio closets. The rest of the members took that as their cue to start acting on the loads of unresolved sexual tension between them; Mingyu got his very first blowjob from Junhui against the mirrors of the practice room.

 

But Wonwoo - Wonwoo never joined in on the casual hookup scene that had formed amongst the members. He’d been propositioned multiple times, but the bemoaning of the other members when Wonwoo flat out rejected them let Mingyu know that Wonwoo never accepted.

 

Mingyu never sought Wonwoo out for a hookup himself, and now that he thinks about it, he realizes that, while Wonwoo was most definitely the most attractive out of all the other members, he never had the desire to seek Wonwoo out for casual sex. Their relationship existed on a separate plane, one where Wonwoo’s company on its own was enough to make Mingyu feel happy, fulfilled, and complete, so while Mingyu was and still is definitely sexually attracted to Wonwoo, he never felt the urgent need to get into Wonwoo’s pants that the others seemingly had.

 

Mingyu has always adored Wonwoo, has always loved him a little selfishly, a little more than the other members, and has never wanted to push Wonwoo further than he was comfortable with. So while he always kept Wonwoo close physically, he forced himself to keep his emotions a bit farther away. He knows he’s a bit obvious about his feelings, knows the other members see right through him but Wonwoo hasn’t. Wonwoo never said or did anything that would imply that he knew about Mingyu’s attraction to him, nor did he give any clues to how he felt about Mingyu’s attraction to him if he did know. But then Wonwoo kissed him, last night, before going to bed - even if it was just a bare brush of lips there’s no doubting it was definitely a kiss - and Mingyu’s whole brain is going a little haywire.

 

So this - this whole thing is really confusing.

 

Mingyu wants, really really wants to keep Wonwoo close like this, but something just feels wrong about thinking certain thoughts about Wonwoo when Wonwoo’s in this state, needy and dependent, doing everything Mingyu asks of him without hesitation. It feels dirty to want Wonwoo like Mingyu does when he’s like this.

 

Mingyu drops his hand from the gentle swell of Wonwoo’s lips. He presses his own into a thin line, debating whether or not to wake Wonwoo up for breakfast so he can eat with the others, or if he should let Wonwoo sleep and save him food to eat when he wakes up.

 

Wonwoo snuffles and burrows deeper into the blankets, so Mingyu goes with the second option, carefully wiggling himself away from Wonwoo and off of the couch. He checks to make sure Wonwoo’s still sound asleep before making his way to the kitchen.

 

The second he enters, every eleven pairs of eyes are on him. He steels himself and ignores the blatant questions on all of their faces, settling down in the open space next to Seokmin.

 

Mingyu is halfway through his bowl of rice before anyone addresses him directly. “So,” Jihoon starts, drumming his fingertips lightly against the tabletop. “Where’s, uh, where’s Wonwoo this morning?”

 

Pursing his lips, Mingyu shrugs, trying to seem nonchalant even though his nerves kind of feel rubbed raw. “Sleeping,” he says.

 

Jihoon nods. “Ah,” he intones. “Will he be joining us at all?”

 

“I don’t know?” Mingyu says, voice lilting.

 

“I thought you would’ve woken him up,” Jihoon muses. There’s an odd tone to his voice that Mingyu can’t quite make out, but it rubs him to wrong way, makes his skin prickle. “Seeing as you slept with him.”

 

“So?” Mingyu says, snappish. Jihoon’s eyes narrow. “I don’t see the big deal. It’s not like we all don’t sleep with each other all the time already.”

 

“This is different, Mingyu,” Jihoon says. “Wonwoo is not in a state where he should be doing things like that. He’s clearly not in a good mental state currently and for you to push him into sex just because he’s vulnerable and won’t say no -”

 

Mingyu’s brain takes a moment to catch up, but when it does, he’s sputtering, understanding now why Jihoon’s tone was so clipped and why it took so long for the other members to break the silence when he walked in. “You think I had sex with him? That I took advantage of him? What the fuck, hyung?”

 

Jihoon’s eyes widen, surprised, as if he didn’t expect Mingyu to respond like he did.

 

“It’s just - all signs point to you two fucking.” That’s Seungcheol, taking over the conversation from Jihoon, who’s still openly gaping.

 

Signs?” Mingyu says, voice straining with the effort not to start completely freaking out.

 

“Well, uh, you were looking all cozy and stuff on the sofa and then you waited until all the members went to bed to go into the bathroom together, and if we’ve learned anything from Junhui and Minghao, nothing PG goes down in the bathroom after hours,” Minghao squawks indignantly from across the table, but Seungcheol ignores him. He looks sheepish, and Mingyu wants to punch him.

 

“We took a bath,” Mingyu says. “I got him clothes. We slept on the couch. And that is all we did. You guys really think I would take advantage of him like that? What kind of person do you think I am?”

 

“We don’t!” Seungcheol says, clearly trying to backtrack now as he realizes how wrong those assumptions were. “We just assumed -”

 

“And that there’s the problem,” Mingyu says. “You assumed instead of just asking me, and now you look like an ass, hyung.”

 

Seungcheol just gapes, speechless. Mingyu sighs, exasperated. “I’m not hungry anymore. I’m going to take some food for Wonwoo. We’ll be in the living room if you need us.”

 

With that, Mingyu scoops some rice and sundubu jjidae into a bowl, and snatches up the chopsticks he was using. He stands and turns on his heel, stalking out of the kitchen and back to the living room. As he leaves he hears the distinct sound of a fist hitting muscled flesh, and Joshua’s low hiss of “I told you it wasn’t like that, idiot.”

 

Wonwoo’s awake when Mingyu enters the living room, sitting up and blinking blearily. He spots Mingyu as he walks in and smiles so big his nose crinkles up, and Mingyu has to catch his lost breath at how much healthier Wonwoo looks after a good meal, a bath, and a full night’s rest.

 

“Hi,” Mingyu murmurs. Wonwoo wiggles to the side of the couch so Mingyu can settle down next to him. “Did you just wake up?”

 

Wonwoo nods, leaning into Mingyu’s side once Mingyu gets settled. “I brought you breakfast,” Mingyu says and Wonwoo hum, noncommittal. “I want you to eat it.”

 

Wonwoo looks up at Mingyu, an odd expression on his face as he nods. He licks his lips once and then parts them, waiting.

 

Mingyu smiles fondly at him, adjusting them slightly so he can hold the bowl in one hand and the chopsticks in the other. He feeds Wonwoo slowly, letting the other boy eat at his own pace. It gets a bit difficult to pick up the rice with the chopsticks when it gets down to the last few bits, so, unthinkingly, Mingyu dips his finger into the bowl and scoops up the last few bits of rice and tofu. He offers his finger to Wonwoo and Wonwoo accepts it, sucking it into his mouth.

 

Wonwoo’s tongue laves gently at the pad of Mingyu’s finger as he licks it clean, and Mingyu realizes how sensual it feels so have Wonwoo literally eating out of his hands. He hadn’t thought of how it would feel to have Wonwoo suckling at his finger until he actually stuck it in Wonwoo’s mouth. Mingyu swallows hard, pulling his finger gently out from between Wonwoo’s lips.

 

“All done,” Mingyu murmurs, setting the bowl down on the small table next to the couch. “You did well.”

 

Wonwoo preens. He closes his eyes and settles into Mingyu’s side again, snuggling close. Mingyu wraps an arm around him and it only takes a few minutes for Wonwoo to fall back asleep, snoring lightly.

 

Mingyu can’t help the smile that upturns his lips or the way his hand settles on the crown of Wonwoo’s head, fingers brushing lightly through the soft hair there.

 

Mingyu grabs the television remote that’s sitting on the side table, flicking the TV on, making sure to keep it on low volume so he doesn’t wake up Wonwoo. He decides on a rerun of a sitcom he’s seen already and settles further into the couch to wait for Wonwoo to wake up again.

 

x

 

Days pass by, and, steadily, Wonwoo gets better. He’s gained some of the weight he lost back and after about a week, he’s cleared to start promoting with the group again. This presents a little hiccup when Wonwoo regresses slightly, curling back into himself in public and looking like a frightened animal when a fan or host addresses him directly, stuttering his way through half answers until one of the other members takes over the question for him. He stays hanging in the back, wringing his hands together, eyes darting around nervously like he’s terrified of his surroundings.

 

Mingyu takes notice, of course he does, and he starts to make it a priority that he’s seated next to Wonwoo for every interview, next to him in every crowd, keeping a hand heavy on the small of Wonwoo’s back. Seungcheol questions him about his hovering, but after a cold glare from Mingyu and a cuff on the back of the head from Jeonghan, he drops it. The rest of the members don’t even bat an eyelash, too happy to see Wonwoo getting back to his normal self to really question why Mingyu’s always standing so close to him.

 

It works wonders. The change in Wonwoo is instant, and after a few weeks, he’s nearly completely back to how he was before he fell sick, no longer needing Mingyu’s presence to speak out loud, his hands to eat, or the warmth of his body to sleep. Mingyu’s still been hovering, bringing Wonwoo his food and sleeping with him in his bed just to be sure that Wonwoo was really back to his usual self, and Mingyu comes back to the dorm late after staying back with Soonyoung to practice the choreo for their new comeback to see Wonwoo and Hansol in the kitchen. Wonwoo’s stuffing his mouth with greasy delivery jajangmyeon, cackling wildly at whatever Hansol just said, and Mingyu realizes that Wonwoo doesn’t need his protection, his guidance, anymore.

 

Mingyu’s happy, he’s so happy to see Wonwoo looking healthy again, eyes bright and cheeks full, but a heavy feeling he doesn’t dare put a name to still sits in his chest when he realizes Wonwoo doesn’t need him anymore. Wonwoo’s face still lights up when he spots Mingyu in the doorway, but instead of waiting patiently for Mingyu to come to him Wonwoo waves Mingyu over, rapidly patting the open spot next to him.

 

Trying to smile away the tightness in his chest, Mingyu takes a seat next to Wonwoo, accepting the takeout container that Wonwoo pushes his way. Mingyu opens the container and grabs the pair of chopsticks that came with it, scooping of a huge portion of the noodles and shoving them into his mouth.

 

He sits with Wonwoo and Hansol until all of their food is gone. Wonwoo drops his container on the table and leans against Mingyu with a content sigh, rubbing a hand over his own full stomach. “That was so good,” Wonwoo says and Mingyu barely hears Hansol’s hum of agreement over the way Wonwoo’s voice rings in his ears. He’s not used to hearing Wonwoo speak at a normal volume again yet, still so used to the hushed, husky whispers that Wonwoo speaks in when they’re alone, forehead to forehead in Wonwoo’s bed before they fall asleep.

 

Seokmin comes like a whirlwind through the kitchen as Mingyu, Wonwoo, and Hansol are cleaning up their mess, yelling something about them getting their “pretty little behinds into the living room, ‘cause we’re having a movie night.” Seokmin throws a long arm around Hansol’s shoulders and smothers him into a near-headlock, practically dragging him out of the kitchen. Wonwoo giggles, offering a hand to Mingyu as he says, “Sit next to me, yeah?”

 

Mingyu nods, curling his pinky around Wonwoo’s and letting their hands drop. Wonwoo leads them out into the living room where the other members have yanked all of the blankets in the dorm into a giant nest on the floor, all of the furniture pushed aside. There’s barely any space in the giant puppy pile of boys on the floor but Wonwoo manages to find a spot for them. Mingyu nearly sits on Chan’s head as he settles, the other boy squawking and slapping Mingyu hard on the thigh.

 

“Sorry, sorry,” Mingyu mumbles in apology, arranging himself to make sure that he’s not at risk of accidentally injuring anyone else. Wonwoo seems to have had a much easier time, as he’s curled up cutely, watching Mingyu struggle, with his kitten lips lifted at the corners. Mingyu finally settles comfortably, half reclined against the couch.

 

The movie on screen is one of Mingyu’s personal favorites, one of Studio Ghibli’s best creations, in his opinion, Howl’s Moving Castle. He makes a small excited noise and Wonwoo laughs breathily. “This one’s your favorite, isn’t it?”

 

“Yeah,” Mingyu says. He knows he’s only mentioned that fact offhandedly once or twice, and he’s touched that Wonwoo remembers. That odd tightness squeezes its way into his chest again, and Mingyu forces it back out.

 

Wonwoo doesn’t say anything back, turning his attention instead to the movie on the screen. Mingyu lets out a breath, wiggling deeper into the nest of blankets. Wonwoo shifts too, and a few seconds later, Mingyu feels the all too familiar weight of Wonwoo settling against him, cheek pressed to Mingyu’s biceps.

 

It feels so nice to have Wonwoo pressed close like this, and for once, Mingyu lets himself enjoy it.

 

Wonwoo stays pressed to Mingyu’s side all the way through the movie and instead of moving away when everyone adjust their positions as Soonyoung gets up to put Kiki’s Delivery Service on next, Wonwoo only moves to lay his head in Mingyu’s lap. Mingyu almost moves to push him back up, but a little niggling voice in the back of his head tells him that Wonwoo’s back to making his own decisions, so he’s resting his head in Mingyu’s lap because he wants to, not because Mingyu told him to. Mingyu’s hand moves to tangle gently in Wonwoo’s hair like it’s muscle memory, petting through the soft strands and pretending he doesn’t love the sweet little sound Wonwoo lets out as much as he does.

 

Halfway through the movie all of the other members have fallen asleep, snoring nearly as loud as the dialogue. Wonwoo’s nodding off against Mingyu’s arm, so Mingyu nudges him gently. Wonwoo blinks up at him. “You should go sleep in your bed,” he says, unable to resist the part of him that still wants to care for Wonwoo even if Wonwoo doesn’t need him to anymore. “I don’t think sleeping on the floor will be good for you.”

 

“You’re right,” Wonwoo says. He stretches, arms above his head, shirt rising up to show just a bare sliver of his flat tummy. Mingyu swallows hard and forces his eyes back to Wonwoo’s face.

 

Mingyu takes one of the blankets from the outside edge of the nest that none of the members are currently using it and pushes it into Wonwoo’s arms. “Take this,” he says, and Wonwoo nods, getting to his feet. He weaves his way out of the pile of boys on the floor, careful not to step on any of his sleeping bandmates. Wonwoo gets to the other side of the living room before he turns on his heel and sees that Mingyu hasn’t moved from his spot.

 

“You’re…you’re not coming?” Wonwoo murmurs, face falling.

 

“No?” Mingyu says. “I uh, I thought you’d want to sleep alone.”

 

Wonwoo sucks his bottom lip into his mouth, worrying it between his teeth for a moment before he lets it go. Mingyu can’t take his eyes off of it. “I don’t want to sleep alone,” Wonwoo says, so quiet that Mingyu nearly misses it. “I...I sleep better with you there.” He’s clutching the blanket so hard that his knuckles are white. Mingyu must still look like he’s unsure, because Wonwoo swallows hard, and in a small voice he murmurs, “Please?”

 

Something in Mingyu's heart breaks, just a little, at the look on Wonwoo’s face. He hasn’t seen Wonwoo look like this since before they debuted, when every day their dream was just within the grasp of their fingers but still threatened to fall away and shatter at any moment. He looks like he’ll physically break if Mingyu says no, and Mingyu wonders how he misjudged everything so badly.

 

“Okay,” Mingyu says. Wonwoo’s tense shoulders relax, just barely. “Go make up the bed. I’ll be there in a minute.”

 

Wonwoo scuttles out of the room quickly, like he’s scared Mingyu will change his mind if he takes too long. Once Wonwoo’s left the room, Mingyu lets his head drop into his hands, wondering what the fuck he’s doing.

 

It’s not like the members don’t share beds and sleeping spaces all the time, but something about sharing a bed with Wonwoo now when all of the other members are sleeping together out in the living room feels like crossing into dangerous territory. Mingyu can feel the shift, the barely-there quiver in the deep fibre of his muscles that tells him something’s changed, and he doesn’t know how to handle it.

 

He’s panicking. Just a bit.

 

Choking down his inevitable freak out, Mingyu gets to his feet, careful not to wake anyone. He tiptoes out of the room and makes his way towards the bedroom that Wonwoo shares with Soonyoung, Junhui, Chan, Minghao, and Hansol, but when he pushes the door open, Wonwoo’s not in his bed. Mingyu’s frazzled only for a second before he turns on his heel and makes his way to his own shared room, and when he open the door, sure enough, Wonwoo is cuddle up in his bed.

 

“I borrowed a shirt,” Wonwoo says. “I hope you don’t mind.”

 

“It’s fine,” Mingyu says, padding over to the bed. He lifts up the side of the blanket and slides under. Wonwoo immediately presses close, tangling his legs with Mingyu’s. It’s a tight fit but they manage, pressed together from chest to toes.

 

Wonwoo’s got his gaze fixed on Mingyu’s face, and Mingyu can feel it practically burning holes through him. Mingyu pretends to fidget and take a little while longer to get comfortable before he digs up the courage to meet Wonwoo’s gaze and the inevitable questions that he knows are coming.

 

The second their eyes meet, though, Wonwoo drops his, focusing instead on the slight peek of Mingyu’s collarbone over the neck of his tshirt. He’s worrying his bottom lip between his teeth again and Mingyu is tempted, so tempted, to lean in and take that lip in his own.

 

“Why didn’t you want to come to bed with me tonight?” Wonwoo asks, startling Mingyu out of his reverie.

 

“Huh?” Mingyu half grunts.

 

Wonwoo licks over his lips again and god, it’s hard to concentrate on Wonwoo’s words when he keeps doing that with his mouth.

 

“You didn’t want to sleep with me,” Wonwoo says. He doesn’t sound accusatory, just sad, and it makes Mingyu’s heart hurt.

 

“It wasn’t that,” Mingyu explains. “It’s just...I mean...you’re better now, right? You don’t need me to take care of you anymore.”

 

“How do you know?” Wonwoo asks. He does sound a bit accusatory this time, and it has Mingyu backtracking.

 

“You - you stopped isolating yourself and...and you’re eating on your own without me and making decisions for yourself again. You got better, so I figured you wouldn’t need me to sleep next to you anymore.” Mingyu explains himself in a rush, keeping a close watch on Wonwoo’s face the entire time, but Wonwoo’s schooled his expression into the blank mask he wears on stage, and Mingyu hates that he can’t get a read on him.

 

“So you were only sleeping with me because of that,” Wonwoo murmurs.

 

“No!” Mingyu says. “I mean yes! Or, ugh, I don’t know? I slept with you because you weren’t sleeping on your own, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to sleep with you now that you’ve gotten better.”

 

“Then why did you tell me no?”

 

Mingyu waffles for a bit, unsure of exactly how to answer that question. “I don’t know,” is what he settles on. “I just thought maybe you wouldn’t want me anymore.”

 

Wonwoo sighs. “I want you here, okay? When I was...having trouble, I needed you there, I’ll admit it. I wasn’t sleeping, and having you next to me made me feel safe and...and protected. Just because I don’t need you here now doesn’t mean that I don’t want you with me. Why do you think I picked your bed instead of mine?”

 

Mingyu takes a deep breath, letting it out in a slow exhale. “I’m stupid,” he says.

 

Wonwoo brings a hand up to cup Mingyu’s cheek. “No you’re not,” he whispers vehemently. “I should have expressed myself better, once I was able to.”

 

“How long is this going to last, though?” Mingyu asks. “I know you want me now, but will you want me tomorrow?”

 

Wonwoo rolls his eyes so hard Mingyu’s surprised they don’t pop right out of his skull. “I’ve wanted you for years, Gyu,” he says. “You just haven’t noticed.”

 

Mingyu recoils a bit, shocked. “Are you implying what I think you’re implying?”

 

“That depends on what you think I’m implying,” Wonwoo says.

 

“I think you’re implying that you’re sexually attracted to me,” Mingyu blurts out, cheeks heating up as soon as he says the words.

 

Wonwoo smiles, wry. “I am,” he admits.

 

Mingyu gapes. “Then - then why did you never- when the other members- ?”

 

“I don’t like casual sex,” Wonwoo says. “Junhui and I slept together once, at the very beginning, and I decided the casual thing isn’t for me. So when everybody else was screwing left and right, I chose to stay out of it. But it's different with you. I’ve always wanted you.”

 

“You fucked Junhui?” Mingyu asks, shocked. “Why did you never say anything? Or, or let me know that you were interested?”

 

“Everybody’s fucked Junhui,” Wonwoo says, “And in my defense, you never gave me any hints that you were interested either.”

 

“Because I thought you were just, I don’t know, completely uninterested in sex,” Mingyu says. “I didn’t want to proposition you and get completely shut down like the others did. And I...I didn’t want it to ruin our friendship.”

 

“We have got a lot of talking to do tomorrow,” Wonwoo says.

 

“Yeah,” Mingyu agrees, wholeheartedly. He spares a glance over at the digital clock on his nightstand, realizing just how late it is. “It’s late,” he says. “We should get to sleep.”

 

“Of course,” Wonwoo murmurs. “But can I ask one more thing, before we do?”

 

“Of course,” Mingyu echoes. He reaches between them to grab Wonwoo’s hand, sliding their fingers together. Wonwoo’s cheeks pink, and he smiles shyly.

 

“Kiss me.”

 

Mingyu gasps, squeezing Wonwoo’s fingers a little too tightly. Wonwoo’s face is still flushed, his eyes hopeful and he is so, so beautiful. Mingyu drops Wonwoo’s hand in order to cup his cheek, and Wonwoo’s eyes fall shut. Mingyu takes a steadying breath and leans in, pressing his lips to Wonwoo’s.

 

It’s Wonwoo’s turn to gasp this time, lips parting underneath Mingyu’s. His hands come up to tangle in Mingyu’s hair, and then they’re kissing.

 

Mingyu groans, tongue sweeping over the plush swell of Wonwoo’s bottom lip. Wonwoo whimpers and the sound makes Mingyu crazy, makes him crave more and more, wanting to see what other sounds he can pull from Wonwoo’s sweet mouth with only his lips and tongue.

 

Mingyu dips his tongue between Wonwoo’s lips and Wonwoo arches bodily into him, trying to press himself closer, closer. Mingyu breaks from the kiss long enough to roll Wonwoo on his back. Wonwoo spreads his legs, easy, and Mingyu settles in between them, claiming Wonwoo’s mouth again.

 

They kiss heatedly for so long that Mingyu loses track of time, cradled too deep in the heaven of Wonwoo’s body to even care, hypnotized by the sounds the slip from between Wonwoo’s lips, the sensual roll of his body, the way he pulls and arches and asks for more, more.

 

Mingyu gives it to him, as much as he wants, a slave to the desires of the person he thought would always stay just outside of his reach. He pulls away only to suckle down the curve of Wonwoo’s jaw, along the long column of his neck, and Wonwoo nearly sobs when Mingyu bites down on the sweet hollow of his throat.

 

They finish with small presses of lips, lingering caresses that Mingyu knows he’s going to feel for days. His fingers brush along the barely-there indentation of his teeth along Wonwoo’s collarbone and he murmurs whisper soft apologies into Wonwoo’s skin, but it’s okay, Wonwoo says. He liked it, he loved it.

 

Mingyu slides his fingers over the supple skin over Wonwoo’s hips, pressing their hands together. He rolls them so they fit back to chest, pulling Wonwoo close, where he should be. Wonwoo sighs, perfectly content, and Mingyu closes his eyes and falls asleep to the lingering promise of tomorrow.

 

x

 

When Mingyu wakes to his alarm the next morning, Wonwoo is already awake, resting his cheek on his hand and watching Mingyu fondly. “That’s creepy,” Mingyu mumbles, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

 

“Sorry,” Wonwoo says, but the curl of his lips tells Mingyu he’s not sorry at all.

 

Mingyu rolls his eyes, reaching out to grab Wonwoo by the back of his neck and pull him into a quick kiss. Wonwoo melts, soft with Mingyu’s lips against his. “We should get up,” Mingyu murmurs, breath ghosting over Wonwoo’s mouth.

 

“Yeah,” Wonwoo breathes, but makes no move to pull away.

 

Mingyu rolls away first, throwing his arms over his head to stretch bodily, pretending he doesn’t notice the way Wonwoo’s eyes follow the motion.

 

Wonwoo finally slides out of bed after Mingyu’s already digging through his closet to find something to wear, padding over to press himself to Mingyu’s back.

 

“You need to go get dressed,” Mingyu says as Wonwoo’s arms come to wrap around his midsection. Wonwoo only hums noncommittally, resting his head on Mingyu’s shoulder. “Seriously, if you waste any more time, I’m just going to pick something out for you myself.”

 

Mingyu intended for the words to be a threat, not for them to make Wonwoo tense up and whine, deep in the back of his throat. Mingyu licks his lips and turns in Wonwoo’s arms, cupping Wonwoo’s face to make him meet his eyes. Wonwoo’s cheeks are pink and he looks nervous, like he expects to be scolded or pushed away. “Do you want that?” Mingyu asks softly. “If you want me to, I’ll do it.”

 

Wonwoo swallows and nods, a barely there bob of his head. Mingyu smiles softly at him, kissing his forehead before he turns back to his closet, pulling out a shirt for him and one for Wonwoo. The shirt he picks for Wonwoo is one of his well-loved favorites, nearly threadbare in some places and worn soft. Wonwoo gasps softly when Mingyu hands it to him, clutching it tightly to his chest.

 

Mingyu grabs jeans next, simple black with holes worn in the knees. He hands those off to Wonwoo as well. “Get dressed,” he says and Wonwoo immediately moves to do so, stripping down shamelessly in the middle of the room. He pulls his shirt over his head and Mingyu gasps audibly.

 

“What?” Wonwoo questions, looking nervous.

 

“Your - your chest,” Mingyu nearly chokes.

 

Wonwoo looks down at himself and lets out a low whistle. “Oh,” he says.

 

‘Oh’ is an understatement. Both of Wonwoo’s collarbones are littered with bright red bite marks, crooked indentations of teeth that trail down his chest, evidence of Mingyu’s time there. They look painful and Mingyu is seconds away from apologizing until Wonwoo brushes his fingers over the marks, sighing almost reverently. He presses his fingers into them and gasps, eyes falling shut, and it takes all the control Mingyu has not to pull him close and mark him up some more.

 

A loud knock on the door and Seungcheol’s voice telling them to “hurry the fuck up in there” has them scrambling away from each other, quickly dressing and running their fingers their hair to make them look a little less ruffled. They burst out of the room and Seungcheol’s still there, rolling his eyes as he throws his arms around their shoulders and walks with them out to the bus waiting outside their dorm.

 

With the day filled with schedule, interviews and practice for their latest comeback, Mingyu doesn’t get time alone with Wonwoo again until late, when they return exhausted and hungry to the dorm long after the sun has gone down. The members order Chinese for dinner, too tired to try to cook anything themselves, and Wonwoo sits so close to Mingyu that their thighs press together as they eat.

 

It’s not long before everybody turns in for the night, trying to get as much sleep as possible before they have to get up for another busy day tomorrow. Mingyu and Wonwoo stay bundled up on the couch as the others make their way to their rooms. Junhui catches Mingyu’s eye and makes a lewd hand gesture as he passes through the living room. Mingyu flips him off.

 

“Why are we friends with him?” Mingyu asks and Wonwoo snorts a laugh.

 

“I ask myself that all the time,” Wonwoo says.

 

They fall into a silence, weighted with the implications of words yet to be said. Mingyu presses his lips together, trying to think of a way to break into the conversation that they’ve been waiting all day to have, but his tongue sits heavy in his mouth and he can’t force it to move.

 

“Wonwoo -”

 

“Mingyu, I -”

 

Mingyu laughs breathily, running a hand through his hair. “You go first,” he says.

 

Wonwoo nods and takes a small, steadying breath. “Um, I don’t really know how to start, so I’m just gonna, like, start from the beginning?” Wonwoo pauses, as if he’s looking for approval, so Mingyu nods but stays silent, letting Wonwoo speak as he needs to.

 

“Well, after last night, you obviously know that I’ve wanted you for a long time,” he begins, “And you made it pretty clear that you want me, too.” Wonwoo ghosts a hand over his collarbone, almost absentmindedly, nearly reverent, and it makes Mingyu’s skin tingle.

 

“But there’s still a lot of stuff we need to talk about, obviously,” Wonwoo continues, “Like. Um, well like, the past few weeks, specifically. I’ve never actually explained this out loud to anyone before, so sorry if it’s confusing? I’m not really sure how to put it all into words yet.”

 

Wonwoo’s fidgeting, wringing his hands together, so Mingyu offers his own for comfort. Wonwoo doesn’t hesitate to tangle their fingers together, lightly squeezing.

 

“For as long as I can remember, really, I’ve always struggled a lot with anxiety,” Wonwoo says. “It wasn’t always so bad and I was usually able to cope with it on my own, but when I became a trainee, it got a lot worse. We were under so much pressure all the time and it just, like, got to be way too much sometimes? And usually I dealt with it by just sitting on my own away from everything for a little while and I was fine, but then when we did the Seventeen Project it got to the point where that didn’t work anymore.

 

“Basically I just like, I don’t know, started to dissociate?” Wonwoo says and Mingyu cocks his head, not quite understanding. “I think the best way for me to explain it is that I started to lose touch with reality? Like I would get so stressed that it would push me to the point where I didn’t want to be me anymore. I didn’t want to have to make any decisions by myself because I was so, like, irrationally scared that I would decide wrong and ruin everything for everyone. So instead of facing things head on, I just. Checked out.”

 

“You stop dealing with reality,” Mingyu guesses, and Wonwoo nods.

 

“Pretty much,” he says. “I can’t even bring myself to make the decision to go get something to eat or take a shower because when I’m in that headspace I’m so worried that even the smallest decision I make is going to be the wrong one. So I just don’t make any decisions for myself at all. And usually I can work through it on my own, but this last time was so different. I lost myself. But, um,” Wonwoo pauses, pulling his bottom lip into his mouth. Mingyu reaches out with his free hand and gently pulls it free.

 

“Keep going,” Mingyu says, “You’re doing so well.”

 

Wonwoo shudders, a barely-there quiver of his shoulders. “You pulled me out this time,” he says. “I can’t make decisions for myself when I’m in that space, so I, I need someone to make them for me. And you did that.”

 

The second the words leave Wonwoo’s mouth it’s like Mingyu’s whole world shifts half an inch to left, and everything suddenly clicks right into place. It makes so much sense now, how Wonwoo wouldn’t eat unless someone directly ordered him to, why it was so easy to get Wonwoo to eat when Mingyu told him he had to. Why Wonwoo was so quick to obey everything Mingyu asked of him, and why Wonwoo pulled so much comfort from having Mingyu close to him when he got stressed, confident that he wouldn’t make the wrong decisions when Mingyu was there to tell him what to do.

 

“I’ve never had someone who willingly took care of me like you did,” Wonwoo says, pulling Mingyu away from his moment of epiphany. “You - you always kept an eye on me, even before I got really bad. I - I always hoped that you would be the one to take care of me, but I never knew how to bring it up.”

 

“You want me to take care of you?” Mingyu asks. An odd thickness starts rise in the back of his throat, and he swallows hard to force it back down.

 

“I want you to want to take care of me,” Wonwoo says. “I know that it isn’t normal to want something like that and I know I should be trying to help myself, but I don’t want to be the one who causes a scandal or forces the group to have to go on hiatus and you’ve all had to promote without me already because I couldn’t even get a handle on something I’ve been dealing with for years and should have under control -”

 

“Hey, hey!” Mingyu raises his voice just enough to snap Wonwoo out of his self-depreciation. “Look at me,” he says sternly, and Wonwoo’s eyes meet his. “It’s not weird. You need what you need, and if this is what helps you cope, then that’s okay. I took care of you because I wanted to, and that hasn’t changed.”

 

“It hasn’t?” Wonwoo asks, voice small.

 

“It hasn’t,” Mingyu echoes. “I can’t promise I’ll be perfect, but if this is what you need and what’ll keep you from ever getting this sick again, I’m more than willing to do it. You’re my best friend. I’d do anything for you. There’s still more I need to know so I can tell when you’re slipping, but if you’re willing to talk, I’ll listen.”

 

“I’ll come to you,” Wonwoo says. “When I start feeling like it’s getting too much, I’ll tell you.”

 

Mingyu offers Wonwoo a shy smile, raising their entwined hands to press a small kiss on Wonwoo’s knuckles. “You can trust me,” Mingyu says.

 

“I know,” Wonwoo murmurs. “Thank you.”

 

“Can I kiss you?” Mingyu asks. Wonwoo flushes a deep pink, eyes going wide in surprise before he schools his expression, a small smile on his kitten lips.

 

“Please,” Wonwoo whispers, an Mingyu wastes no time in closing the distance between them. He drops Wonwoo’s hand so he can cup his face with both palms, thumbing gently underneath Wonwoo’s jaw to get him to tilt his head back, deepening the kiss.

 

Kissing Wonwoo now is just as intoxicating as it was last night. Mingyu teases Wonwoo’s bottom lip with his tongue and Wonwoo doesn’t hesitate to open up and let him in.

 

The sounds Wonwoo makes ring in Mingyu’s ears, sweet whimpers that make Mingyu’s lips tingle, soft sighs that shake him to his core.

 

The kiss breaks with a gasp, and the way Wonwoo giggles against his skin has Mingyu’s heart thudding hard in his chest. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to kissing you,” Mingyu confesses.

 

“I hope you never do,” Wonwoo breathes.

 

Mingyu laughs, leaning in to press his forehead against Wonwoo’s. He feels so happy, absolutely glowing with joy, but there’s a part of him that’s still scared, terrified that he’s going to mess up. But he’ll be damned if he’s not going to try to be what Wonwoo needs, and if he messes up along they way, he’ll fix it. They’ll fix it.

 

Whatever it takes, they’ll figure it out.

 

x

 

Mingyu spends the next few days learning. Wonwoo lets him in on his secrets, on the thoughts in his head that he doesn’t voice out loud to anyone else, and Mingyu listens. He finds out things about Wonwoo that he never would have known unless Wonwoo told him, and in turn, Mingyu tells Wonwoo some of his own.

 

They have a long talk about what exactly it is that Wonwoo wants from Mingyu, what he aims to get from their arrangement, and what it means for them as a pair. Wonwoo says he wants to keep it non-sexual, but that that’s not necessarily permanent. He wants to see exactly how having Mingyu as a controlling presence in his life now is actually going to affect him, and adding sex into the equation would just complicate things more than Wonwoo is comfortable with at the moment. Mingyu asks if he can still kiss him; Wonwoo answers by pulling him in by the back of the neck and whispering his answer against Mingyu’s lips.

 

It starts pretty simply, from there. Wonwoo decides that he wants Mingyu’s control constantly, with little things like Mingyu choosing what Wonwoo wears that day or what he orders for when they get takeout for dinner. If the other members notice they don’t say anything, leaving Mingyu and Wonwoo to navigate their new relationship in peace. It works out well for them - Wonwoo seems happier than he has in months; he gains more weight and spends more time with the other members, laughing and joking around like used to before he got sick. Every time he sees Wonwoo smile it makes Mingyu’s chest warm, and he swells with pride knowing that he’s playing an active part in putting that smile back on Wonwoo’s face.

 

Mingyu’s sitting in the living room flipping through one of his favorite manga when Jeonghan comes in, plopping himself down on the sofa next to Mingyu and throwing an arm around his shoulders.

 

“Mingyu-yah,” Jeonghan says.

 

“Yeah, hyung?” Mingyu answers, marking his page and setting the book aside.

 

“It’s been a while since we’ve had a nice, long talk, don’t you think?” Jeonghan asks.

 

Mingyu furrows his eyebrows, unsure of what Jeonghan’s up to. “Um, I guess so? I haven’t really been paying attention, sorry.”

 

Jeonghan smiles and it leaves Mingyu unsettled, something too fake about the curve of Jeonghan’s lips. “Of course you haven’t,” he says. “You’ve been busy.”

 

“I have?” Mingyu asks, treading lightly.

 

“Mhm,” Jeonghan hums. His fingers tap lightly against the muscle of Mingyu’s arm. “With Wonwoo.”

 

Mingyu’s heart plummets into his stomach. “What are you trying to say?” Mingyu asks, trying to firm his voice but failing. Out of all of his hyungs, Jeonghan is the one who puts Mingyu on edge the most. Mingyu adores Jeonghan, he really does, but there’s just something about him, hidden beneath that sweet face, that makes Mingyu’s skin crawl sometimes.

 

Jeonghan laughs sharply, and Mingyu flinches. “You look like I’m holding you hostage with a gun to your head,” he says. The hand resting on his shoulder squeezes just a tad bit too tight. “Relax,” Jeonghan coos.

 

“I’m relaxed,” Mingyu says, but the tense note of his voice gives him away.

 

Jeonghan rolls his eyes. “I’m not going to rip your head off, Mingyu,” he says. “I just want to talk.”

 

“About Wonwoo,” Mingyu guesses.

 

Jeonghan grins, shark-like. “You’re so smart,” he says. “But I don’t want to talk about Wonwoo only. I want to talk about what it is you think you’re doing with him.”

 

“I don’t think I’m doing anything,” Mingyu says defensively. “We already had a long conversation about this. I know what I’m doing.”

 

“Do you?” Jeonghan asks. “Tell me, Mingyu-yah, have you done your research, then?”

 

“Research?” Mingyu asks. He’s getting irritated, now, would rather Jeonghan just get to the damn point already instead of continuing to play in his innuendos.

 

“I’ll take that as a hard no, then,” Jeonghan says.

 

“Why do I have to research?” Mingyu asks. “What the hell is Google going to tell me that Wonwoo hasn’t?”

 

“You really don’t understand this arrangement you’ve entered into at all, do you?” Jeonghan asks. He sounds so condescending, and if he wasn’t Mingyu’s hyung, Mingyu would tell him to go fuck himself.

 

“Would you stop being so god damn cryptic and just get to your point already, hyung?” Mingyu snaps. “I don’t have time for this.”

 

Jeonghan huffs and rolls his eyes. “Jesus, fine,” he says. “My point is that you and Wonwoo have entered into a non-sexual Dom/sub relationship and I’m worried that neither of you properly understand exactly what that means, nor do you understand the risks of going about a relationship like that in the wrong way.”

 

Mingyu flounders, mouth opening and closing as he tries to come up with something to say. The best he manages to get out is a not-so elegant “Huh?”

 

Jeonghan sighs and pulls his arm from Mingyu’s shoulders. “Look,” he says, “I know you think trusting Wonwoo to tell you when and how he wants you to dominate him is enough, but it’s not. You need to learn how to see his tells before he even knows them himself. You need to know when you need to do more, or less, and how he reacts to the different things you do. Especially when Wonwoo is in a state of mind where he is incapable of voicing to you his exact needs.”

 

“Dominate him? I, what? How do you know all of this?” Mingyu asks, mind reeling as he processes Jeonghan’s words.

 

Jeonghan laughs, dark and secretive. “Because, dear Mingyu,” he says, pausing for emphasis. “I’ve been Domming Seungcheol the same exact way for a year and a half now. Except our relationship involves a lot more fucking. I’ve learned a thing or two.”

 

“What the fuck,” Mingyu says.

 

“So,” Jeonghan says, ignoring the minor crisis Mingyu is having upon the realization that two of his hyungs have not only been fucking on a consistent basis (which he knew) but that Jeonghan’s taken his sadistic streak into the bedroom with them as well, and that Seungcheol likes it. “Cheol likes to be dominated a lot like Wonwoo does,” Jeonghan explains. “He likes it when I take his choices away. I tell him what to do, and he does it. Or moreso, I tell him what he can’t do and he obeys.”

 

Jeonghan stops to make sure that Mingyu’s still listening, picking up where he left off when Mingyu just nods and stays silent. “It’s good for him,” Jeonghan says, “to be able to come to me and not have to think for a little while. That’s a lot like what Wonwoo needs you for, yeah?”

 

“Yeah,” Mingyu confirms.

 

“The difference between what Seungcheol and I do and what I assume you and Wonwoo do though is that I’ve taken the time to learn Seungcheol as my sub. I know how he thinks when he’s being dominated better than he knows himself. I know how to tell when he’s getting overwhelmed before he has to come to me.”

 

“I know the signs. I can tell when he’s going to need me,” Mingyu says.

 

“Good, that’s good,” Jeonghan says. “The point of knowing when Wonwoo needs you before he realizes it himself is the key to keep him from slipping again.”

 

“What if I don’t notice in time?”

 

Jeonghan shrugs. “Then you’ll just have to work him out of it like you did before. But the goal of being his Dom is to keep him from going into that headspace at all. Cheol comes to me so I can take some of the stress off of him, and I do it willingly because I know how much it helps him. Plus, I like the way he looks on his knees.”

 

“Spare me the details please, hyung,” Mingyu shudders.

 

Jeonghan laughs, and it’s genuine this time. “But do you get what I’m saying?” he asks. “Being somebody’s Dom is a lot more than just making decisions for them and telling them what to do. It’s knowing when they need you and taking care of them when they’re the most fragile. It’s listening to them and knowing what they need even if they don’t voice it explicitly themselves. You have to constantly be aware of what you’re doing and how your sub will react to that. I know you and Wonwoo have talked about the general stuff, but you need to really lay out all of the groundwork if you not only want to make the arrangement work, but also make it safe.”

 

“I get it,” Mingyu says. He’s reeling, just a bit, at just how much he didn’t know about what Wonwoo might want and need from him. “I didn’t - didn’t think there was so much.”

 

“Neither did I, when Seungcheol first came to me about it,” Jeonghan admits. “Consider yourself lucky that you have a nice hyung like me who’s willing to share his knowledge.”

 

Mingyu snorts a laugh. “Thanks, hyung,” he says.

 

“Any time,” Jeonghan winks as he gets up off the sofa, flicking his hair out of his eyes. “Anyways, I ought to be going. I sent Cheol to go talk to Wonwoo, too, so you should be expecting another conversation with him soon.”

 

“Wait what?” Mingyu says. “Hyung!” He calls, but Jeonghan’s already skipping out of the room, a self-satisfied grin on his face. “What the fuck,” he whispers to himself, trying to wrap his mind around everything Jeonghan just said to him.

 

“You okay?”

 

Mingyu jumps hard, squeaking the tiniest bit in fear. Wonwoo snickers and sits down next to him.

 

“I think Jeonghan hyung was put on this planet for the sole reason to mess with me,” Mingyu says.

 

“Ah, so he did get to you,” Wonwoo says.

 

“I’m assuming you just came from talking to Seungcheol hyung?” Mingyu asks.

 

Wonwoo nods. “Yeah,” he says. “And I think we need to talk. Again.”

 

“Yeah,” Mingyu says.

 

“I didn’t think there would be so much to this,” Wonwoo says. “I just wanted someone to take care of me when I need it.”

 

“When I talked to Jeonghan, he said that it was important for me to understand, like, your tells and things so I know when you need me to um, dominate you before you have to tell me. And to learn how you react to the things I do, so I don’t like, overstep my bounds.”

 

“Seungcheol hyung said something along those lines, too,” Wonwoo says. “He said that I need to tell you my, um, limits and things? But I don’t really know if I have limits. It seems like that’s more of a sex thing? And right now what we’re doing isn’t a sex thing.”

 

“I think we should keep what Jeonghan and Seungcheol told us in mind, but fit it to work for us,” Mingyu says. “And when and if you’re ready to take that next step, we’ll talk about it then. Otherwise we’ll just stay as we are, yeah? I’ll try to keep learning your tells as if I slip up, you’ll come to me.”

 

“Yeah,” Wonwoo breathes. “That sounds perfect.”

 

Mingyu grins happily, and slides his hand over to Wonwoo’s to tangle their fingers together. Wonwoo flips their hands and starts rubbing his thumb over Mingyu’s knuckles. “Um,” he murmurs, looking down at their intertwined hands, shy. “There was one thing Seungcheol suggested that I want to try. Like, now.”

 

“Oh,” Mingyu murmurs. “What is it?”

 

Wonwoo sucks his bottom lip into his mouth and worries it for a moment, letting it go after a moment, flushed red and slick. Mingyu wonders if he’ll ever get tired of watching Wonwoo do that. “He um, he said something about like, a collar?”

 

Mingyu’s mouth drops open in a little ‘O.’ “A collar?”

 

“Not like an actual collar,” Wonwoo says. “He...he described it like a - a bracelet, or a necklace or something that I can wear when I’m, um, in subspace? It’s just like, something to keep me grounded and in the moment even if my brain wants to be a thousand miles away. It’ll help me to get back quicker and keep me from dissociating as badly as I did last time.”

 

Mingyu nods. “So like, a token of the real world to keep your feet in the ground. Metaphorically.”

 

“Exactly,” Wonwoo says. “I just need something that I can wear on my body to remind myself that I’m still...still physical and present, even if my brain’s trying to tell me I’m not.”

 

“I’ll get you one,” Mingyu says, “as soon as possible. What would you prefer?”

 

Wonwoo flushes, a gorgeous cherry red. “I want you to choose for me,” he says.

 

Mingyu raises their hands and plants a soft kiss on Wonwoo’s knuckles before letting them fall back onto the sofa. “I’ll choose on my own, then,” he says.

 

“Thank you,” Wonwoo murmurs.

 

“Of course,” Mingyu says. Wonwoo leans in and Mingyu meets him half way, pressing their mouths together in a chaste kiss. He pulls away and Wonwoo whines for more, nuzzling his nose against Mingyu’s cheek.

 

Always a sucker, Mingyu obliges him. He winds a hand through Wonwoo’s hair, pulling gently at the strands, and Wonwoo moans openly into Mingyu’s mouth. Mingyu takes advantage and between Wonwoo’s lips, exploring. Wonwoo tastes so sweet, always does, and every inch of Mingyu craves more.

 

Mingyu wraps an arm around Wonwoo’s lower back and urges him to lay down. Wonwoo complies, so easy, and Mingyu moves between Wonwoo’s spread legs, pressing him into the sofa. He lets his hands trail teasingly over Wonwoo’s ribs and Wonwoo gasps, arching into the touch.

 

Every little shift of Wonwoo’s body, every gasp he lets out makes Mingyu’s head spin, completely intoxicated by the boy under him. “You’re so beautiful,” Mingyu murmurs, breaking away from the kiss to suck down Wonwoo’s neck, sinking his teeth in just under Wonwoo’s jaw and revelling in the way Wonwoo mewls, a sweet, sweet sound in the back of his throat.

 

“Hey hyungs, do you wanna - oh god, my eyes!”

 

Mingyu pulls away from Wonwoo like he’s been shocked, and Wonwoo squawks when Mingyu’s knee digs into his ribs as he scrambles to right them. Chan’s in the entryway, a hand over his eyes. “Are you done?!” he wails.

 

“We’re decent,” Wonwoo answers, and Chan drops his hand, relief flooding his expression.

 

“What I was going to ask before I walked in this,” he waves his hand in their general direction, “was if you guys wanna come play poker. Loser’s gotta put the Totoro mask on and go streak down the street to the stop sign and back.”

 

Always jumping at the chance to enact some good, old fashioned humiliation upon their fellow bandmates, Mingyu and Wonwoo are up in no time, following Chan out to the kitchen where everyone else has already gathered around the table.

 

“Nice hickey, hyung,” Minghao says when they sit down, and Wonwoo flushes, slapping a hand over the spot on his neck. The other members immediately crowd around, whooping as Joshua and Seokmin pounce, trying to yank Wonwoo’s hand away. Wonwoo wails, kicking and laughing hysterically as he tries to fight them off. They go until Wonwoo nearly kicks Jihoon in the face and Jihoon tries to get his hands around Wonwoo’s neck in revenge.

 

Mingyu falls into Wonwoo, clutching his sides as he works through his remaining giggles. Jihoon deals out the cards, and Wonwoo’s hickey is forgotten in lieu of the members making sure that it’s not them that has to go and run the metaphorical naked mile.

 

In the end it’s Seokmin who loses because his poker face is absolute shit, and he runs shrieking like a banshee the entire way. Mingyu cackles so hard his ribs hurt.

 

They order takeout for dinner once Seokmin’s deed is done, and Mingyu orders for Wonwoo. Wonwoo leans into Mingyu’s side the entire time they’re eating, his eyes half lidded and a content lilt to his pretty mouth.

 

Wonwoo falls asleep on Mingyu’s shoulder while they’re marathoning Soul Eater, so Mingyu scoops him up, ignoring the low whistles of the other members, and carries Wonwoo off to bed.

 

Mingyu lays Wonwoo down in bed and crawls in next to him, spooning up behind him and wrapping an arm tight around his waist. He presses his nose against the nape of Wonwoo’s neck, breathing him in, and it hits him right then exactly what he wants to get Wonwoo for his collar.

 

Mingyu presses a soft kiss to the knob of Wonwoo’s spine, heart racing as he thinks about it, and vows to go and order everything he needs first thing in the morning.

 

x

 

A few days later, a package addressed to Mingyu shows up at their doorstep, and Mingyu takes it and hides it away before anybody else sees it and questions why Mingyu had a box full of lace, ribbon, and velvet delivered to the dorm.

 

He doesn’t get around to actually being able to open the box and see what he ordered until later that day, when Wonwoo’s distracted by Hansol and Seungcheol pulling him aside to play x-box. They ask him if he wants to join but he brushes them off, saying he’s going to try to organize his disaster of a closet. Hansol and Seungcheol just hum in mutual acknowledgment while Wonwoo looks at him a little sideways, but doesn’t say anything.

 

Pulling the box from where he’s stashed it in his closet, he opens it up and pulls the spools of ribbon, velvet, and lace from it, laying them out on his bed. They’re all in different shades of purple; the velvet is a deep, rich royal purple and the lace a soft, delicate lilac, the ribbon a soft, natural purple that fits perfectly between the other two. There’s a small bag of little silver clasps in the box as well.

 

Armed with a glue gun that Mingyu asked one of the staff to buy for him and a pair of scissors, he gets to work.

 

He uses his own neck for measurement, pulling the velvet around it and cutting it to the proper length, trimming the lace and ribbon to match. The velvet is the thickest so he layers the lace and then the ribbon on top, gluing them down as he goes. Lastly, he takes one of the tiny silver clasps and glues that on, too, and then he’s done.

 

Gently, Mingyu picks the choker up in his hands. It’s not much but the feeling in his chest tells him that Wonwoo’s going to love it simply because Mingyu made it by hand.

 

Mingyu tucks the choker away in the box with the rest of the spools, hiding it back in his closet until it’s time for him to give it to Wonwoo.

 

The time comes when they’re getting ready for bed, while the other members are building another blanket nest in the living room because they all prefer to sleep in giant puppy piles than alone in their individual rooms. The habit comes from the time they spent sleeping together in the practice room during their trainee days; it’s hard to go from sleeping cuddled up with twelve other boys to sleeping in a bed all alone.

 

“Sit on the bed,” Mingyu orders, once they’re alone in Mingyu’s room. Wonwoo obeys without question, hopping up on Mingyu’s bed and crossing his legs underneath him. Once Wonwoo’s settled, Mingyu goes to his closet and grabs the box. “Close your eyes,” he says, not even checking to see if Wonwoo’s obeyed because he knows he has.

 

Mingyu grabs the choker out, rubbing his thumb over the velvet. He walks back over to the bed where Wonwoo’s waiting patiently, eyes closed.

 

“I got your collar,” Mingyu says. He sees the sharp intake of breath Wonwoo takes more than he hears it, his eyes focused on Wonwoo’s mouth.

 

“Please let me see,” Wonwoo whispers.

 

“Hold out your hands,” Mingyu says, and, like always, Wonwoo does as told. It’s not the first time Mingyu’s flooded with admiration for the boy in front of him and he’s completely sure that it won’t be the last.

 

Mingyu lays the choker gently in Wonwoo’s upturned palms. “Open your eyes,” he says, heart in his throat as he waits to see how Wonwoo is going to react, if he’s going to love it, or hate it.

 

The second Wonwoo’s eyes open and he sees the choker, his lips part and lets out a shocked little breath. He doesn’t say anything, just stares, and Mingyu starts to panic a bit.

 

“It’s um, it’s a choker because I thought it would look really good on you. Um, style and color,” Mingyu babbles. “I thought it’d be a good idea because you’ll be able to feel it constantly whenever it’s on, and I know you said that’s one of the reasons you wanted a collar in the first place. I made it by hand so, uh, I’m sorry if it’s kind of ugly? If you totally hate it I can get you another -”

 

“Don’t you dare.” Wonwoo speaks only in a whisper but he says the words so fiercely it’s like he’s shouting. “I love it.”

 

Mingyu lets out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. “I’m so glad.”

 

Wonwoo doesn’t reply, still staring down at his collar in his hands. He’s thumbing gently over the velvet, fingering the tiny silver clasp. “I know that I’m not in my headspace right now but,” he says, speaking so quietly that Mingyu can barely hear him. “Can you put it on me?”

 

“Of course,” Mingyu says, taking the choker from Wonwoo’s hands. He wraps it gently around Wonwoo’s throat, struggles with the clasp a bit, but once it’s on, Mingyu loses his breath.

 

The choker looks like a dream against the skin of Wonwoo’s throat, stark against his skin, unblemished except for the fading mark just under the curve of his jaw. The choker rests just below the swell of Wonwoo’s adam’s apple, snug but not too tight.

 

Wonwoo looks beautiful, so beautiful, and Mingyu thinks -  not for the first time, not even close - that he might be just a little bit in love.

 

Mingyu watches with wide eyes as Wonwoo reaches up to rub his fingers over the velvet on his skin and then presses his whole palm over his throat, wrapping his fingers around his neck. He squeezes, just barely, and the gasp he lets out makes Mingyu’s knees go weak and his hands ache to replace Wonwoo’s so much that it scares him a little.

 

Taking a shaky breath, Mingyu reaches out and places his hand over Wonwoo’s, pressing Wonwoo’s fingers harder into his own flesh. Wonwoo moans, a bare breath of a sound, and Mingyu’s whole body goes up in flames.

 

Mingyu’s hand slides from Wonwoo’s throat into his hair, tugging roughly and pressing their mouths together. Wonwoo’s own hands come to tangle in Mingyu’s shirt and then they’re falling backwards. Mingyu catches himself on his elbows beside Wonwoo’s head, Wonwoo’s legs coming up to bracket his hips.

 

This position is familiar - they’ve kissed like this too many times to count. Wonwoo likes it when he feels like Mingyu’s body is caging him in, likes to feel small and protected and safe. Mingyu urges Wonwoo to scoot up the bed, breaking the kiss only long enough to climb up fully on the bed himself. Wonwoo watches him with half lidded eyes, reaching out for him and sighing contently when Mingyu seals their mouths together once more.

 

The kiss is easy, languid, unhurried and unrushed. Mingyu licks lazily between Wonwoo’s parted lips, coaxing his tongue out to play. Wonwoo whimpers, arching up, and Mingyu freezes.

 

Wonwoo’s hard. Oh, he’s so hard, pressing needy and insistent against Mingyu’s stomach. Mingyu pulls away, just barely, and Wonwoo cries out, throwing his arms around Mingyu’s neck. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Wonwoo murmurs, breathing erratically, almost panicked. “Please don’t leave.”

 

“Hey, hey,” Mingyu soothes, reaching up to cup Wonwoo’s cheek. “I’m not going anywhere, shh, calm down.”

 

Mingyu leads Wonwoo through a couple deep breaths, waiting until Wonwoo’s not going to start hyperventilating any time soon before glancing down between their bodies. Wonwoo’s still hard, the front of his sweatpants tented with his obvious arousal. Wonwoo makes an embarrassed noise, his fingers quivering when he slides his hands to Mingyu’s shoulders.

 

“I’ll ask you this one time,” Mingyu says. “If you say no, we’ll stop completely, no questions asked. If you say yes, we’ll continue, but I’ll need you to tell me exactly what to do.” Mingyu pauses to make sure Wonwoo understands, continuing when Wonwoo nods. Mingyu takes a steadying breath before he looks straight into Wonwoo’s eyes and asks, “Do you want me to keep touching you?”

 

Yes,” Wonwoo replies, voice barely a whisper, but his gaze is so fierce that there is no possible way Mingyu could think he’s unsure. “I want you to touch me.”

 

Mingyu steals a chaste kiss, basking in the way Wonwoo melts even at a barely-there press of their lips together. “How do you want me?” Mingyu asks.

 

Wonwoo’s face flushes pink. “I don’t…I don’t want to have sex, not yet,” he says. “But, but I want you to make me come. And I want to make you come.”

 

“We can do that,” Mingyu says, trying not to let it show on his face the effect Wonwoo’s words have on him. His heart is racing and his cock is starting to swell in his pants, his brain flooding with all of the ways he wants to touch Wonwoo now that he’s been given permission to. “You want me to make you come. Tell me how you want me to do it.”

 

If Mingyu thought Wonwoo’s cheeks couldn’t get any more red, he was wrong. Wonwoo’s face is scarlet, and he drops his eyes from Mingyu’s face and says, “You can touch me however you want.”

 

Mingyu coaxes Wonwoo to look at him again with a gentle hand on his jaw. “I want to suck you off. I want to put my fingers inside you. Is that okay?”

 

Wonwoo purses his lips. “I’m not sure about, um, about fingers? But you can, you can suck me off.” Wonwoo looks a bit uneasy again, like he thinks Mingyu will be angry.

 

“I’m going to love sucking your cock,” Mingyu says and Wonwoo lets out a helpless little moan at the words.

 

“Please,” he whimpers, clutching at Mingyu’s shirt to get him close again.

 

Mingyu obliges, pressing his tongue between Wonwoo’s mouth when he opens up for him. The kiss is heated right away; Wonwoo’s hands find their way into Mingyu’s hair and Mingyu holds Wonwoo’s jaw in his, tilting Wonwoo’s head back to keep him right where he want him. Mingyu drops his hips to press his thigh against Wonwoo’s cock and Wonwoo chokes, keening into Mingyu’s mouth.

 

Dropping from Wonwoo’s jaw, Mingyu’s left hand trails slowly down Wonwoo’s body, dipping into the hollow of his throat and down his chest, ghosting over the hard peak of Wonwoo’s nipple. Wonwoo gasps and arches, whining when Mingyu doesn’t pay it any more attention, his hand instead trailing lower to tease at the sliver of skin that peeks out between Wonwoo’s shirt and the band of his sweatpants. Mingyu grips the hem of Wonwoo’s shirt and Wonwoo nods, moving his arms above his head so Mingyu can strip it off of him.

 

The sight of Wonwoo’s bare torso leaves Mingyu breathless. He’s so thin, but he looks healthy, his skin lightly bronzed and unblemished, almost glowing. It’s such a stark difference from the way Wonwoo looked on the first night he and Mingyu bathed together; he’s finally put back on the weight he lost and he looks beautiful, so beautiful. Wonwoo squirms under Mingyu’s inspection, and the lithe twist of his body makes Mingyu’s mouth water.

 

Mingyu kisses hotly across Wonwoo’s chest, unable to resist the urge to nibble, to bite down and mark. Wonwoo’s mouth hangs open, and he breathes out hot little “ah, ah, ah’s” every time Mingyu’s teeth sink in.

 

“Take your shirt off too, please,” Wonwoo begs, voice strained. His hips are twitching up into Mingyu’s thigh, begging for friction where he’s aching and needy.

 

Mingyu sits up and pulls his shirt over his head. Wonwoo’s eyes trail over Mingyu’s bare torso and he licks his lips, hands coming up to trace over the hard lines of Mingyu’s abdominals. “God, you’re so hot,” Wonwoo murmurs. Mingyu snickers.

 

“Look who’s talking,” he says, diving down to lick hotly over Wonwoo’s collarbones. Wonwoo moans desperately, high in his throat.

 

“Stop teasing, please,” Wonwoo cries. “I can’t take it.”

 

Mingyu, always the sucker, obliges immediately. He starts to suck his way down Wonwoo’s stomach, kissing at his soft belly and circling his tongue around his navel. Wonwoo’s hips twitch upwards, grinding his dick into Mingyu’s chest. “Please,” he begs again.

 

“You want it, baby?” Mingyu asks, the petname slipping out before he can stop it. Wonwoo doesn’t seem to mind it, though. In fact, it’s quite the opposite - he shudders and his eyes fall closed, cock twitching in helpless arousal. “Answer me.”

 

“Yes,” Wonwoo sobs. His grinds up into Mingyu’s chest and Mingyu grabs his hipbone and pushes him down into the mattress. “Please touch me, please, I’m so hard.”

 

“You look so good like this,” Mingyu says. He slips his hand below the band of Wonwoo’s sweatpants. He finds nothing but smooth skin, moaning low in his throat. “No underwear,” he breathes. “Naughty.”

 

Wonwoo whines. “‘M sorry.” Mingyu raises his head to see Wonwoo’s face, breathing out hard when he sees Wonwoo with his eyes closed, two fingers of his right hand hooked under the velvet of his collar while he teases a nipple with his left. He looks so fucking good, it takes Mingyu’s breath away.

 

“Don’t be sorry,” Mingyu groans. “I love it.”

 

A shudder rocks Wonwoo’s shoulders and he pinches his nipple hard. Mingyu takes advantage of his ecstasy, pushing his hand into Wonwoo’s pants and wrapping his fingers around Wonwoo’s cock, giving it a fond squeeze. Wonwoo nearly screams, arching his back and humping desperately into Mingyu’s fist. Mingyu grips his hip again, stilling him.

 

“If you want me to suck you, baby, you have to stay still,” Mingyu chides. “Or else you’re going to choke me.”

 

“I’ll stay still,” Wonwoo promises. “I will, please, just put your mouth one me.”

 

“Anything for you,” Mingyu says. He pulls his hand out of Wonwoo’s sweatpants just long enough to shimmy them down Wonwoo’s skinny hips. His cock slaps wetly against his belly and Mingyu can’t help but stare as he leans out of the cradle of Wonwoo’s legs long enough to get him completely naked. He looks even better than Mingyu imagined he would, flushed all the way down to his chest, mouth slack in ecstasy, fingers hooked in his collar. Mingyu swears he could come by just watching Wonwoo bask in his pleasure.

 

Mingyu places both hands on Wonwoo’s thighs, spreading him open. Wonwoo gasps, instinctively trying to close his legs. Mingyu lets up on his grip a small bit, and a moment later Wonwoo relaxes, keeping himself open. “Gorgeous,” Mingyu murmurs.

 

Mingyu can’t resist the temptation of Wonwoo’s sweet bare thighs, spread out for him to take. He leans down to suck kisses into each one. Wonwoo moans louder with every biting kiss, and by the time Mingyu’s done, he’s whimpering desperately into the back of his hand, trying and failing to quiet himself.

 

Unable to resist any longer, Mingyu wraps his hand around the base of Wonwoo’s cock and strokes him firmly, thumbing over the tip. Wonwoo cries out, twitches and shakes, but his hips stay planted firmly on the bed. “Good boy,” Mingyu praises, and rewards Wonwoo by sucking the head of his cock between his lips. Wonwoo chokes on his moan, throwing his head back in ecstasy.

 

Mingyu sucks him off the best he knows how. It’s been awhile since he’s had a cock in his mouth, but the longer he has Wonwoo pressed against his tongue, the more he remembers. It’s not long until he’s got Wonwoo’s cock halfway down his throat; he swallows and Wonwoo wails, his cock flexing so hard it nearly makes Mingyu choke.

 

“Oh god, oh god,” Wonwoo sobs, shaking bodily with the effort not to just let go and fuck wildly into Mingyu’s mouth. “I’m gonna come, I’m gonna come, please.”

 

Mingyu pulls off of Wonwoo’s cock just long enough to tell him it’s okay, he can come, and then he’s swallowing him down again, jerking his fist hard over what he can’t fit in his mouth.

 

It only takes a few more moments, and when Mingyu drops his hand and swallows the rest of Wonwoo’s cock, Wonwoo’s whole body seizes up and he comes, wailing so loud that Mingyu’s worried someone’s going to come bursting into the room to find out what the hell is going on.

 

Thankfully, the door stays closed while Wonwoo shudders through his orgasm. Mingyu swallows everything, pulling off to lick Wonwoo clean once he’s finished. Mingyu dips his tongue into the slit and Wonwoo shakes like a leaf, overstimulated.

 

Mingyu lets Wonwoo’s cock drop from his mouth, crawling his way back up Wonwoo’s body. Wonwoo looks almost shocked, lips parted and eyes wide. “How do you feel?” Mingyu asks. He reaches up and fingers the clasp of Wonwoo’s collar, popping it open and pulling the collar off. Wonwoo sighs as the velvet slides across his skin. Mingyu sets the choker on his bedside table, making a mental note to put it away somewhere safe in the morning.

 

“That - that was,” Wonwoo flounders, momentarily unable to come up with anything to say. “Amazing.”

 

“I’m glad,” Mingyu says. He kisses Wonwoo chastely before dropping down next to him. Wonwoo turns so they’re face to face. His thigh bumps against Mingyu’s crotch and he frowns.

 

“You’re still hard,” he says. Mingyu looks down his own body and sees that, yeah, he’s really hard, his cock jutting angrily from between his hips. He honestly didn’t realize his own arousal, too focused on making Wonwoo feel good. Wonwoo reaches down and cups Mingyu’s cock; Mingyu drops his head onto Wonwoo’s shoulder, moaning lowly.

 

“You don’t have to,” Mingyu says but Wonwoo shakes his head.

 

“I said I wanted to make you come, too,” Wonwoo murmurs, and before Mingyu can insist that it’s really fine, he doesn’t have to, Wonwoo’s hand is slipping underneath his waistband and wrapping around his cock.

 

“F-fuck,” Mingyu stutters. Wonwoo strokes him hard, thumbing precome from the tip to make the slide easier, and it’s not long until Mingyu’s burying his face in the crook of Wonwoo’s neck as he shudders through his own orgasm. Wonwoo strokes him through it, pulling his hand out of Mingyu’s pants and wiping the come on his fingers off on the front of them. Mingyu scowls and Wonwoo just laughs.

 

“You were going to have to change anyways,” Wonwoo says. Mingyu just rolls his eyes, crawling out of bed and padding over to his closet to pull out a new pair of pants to sleep in. He discards his dirty pants and boxers, wiping himself off before he slips into the clean pair. When he turns back to the bed he sees Wonwoo watching him, a fond smile on his lips. “What?” Mingyu asks as he crawls back into bed, grabbing the blankets that got pushed to the foot and throwing them over his and Wonwoo’s bodies.

 

“Nothing,” Wonwoo says. “I was just admiring you.”

 

“Admiring me?”

 

“Mhm,” Wonwoo hums. “You’re very attractive.”

 

Mingyu snorts a laugh. He lets out a breath, leaning forward to press his forehead against Wonwoo’s. “Can I ask you something?” He says.

 

“Of course,” Wonwoo murmurs, suddenly serious.

 

“What changed your mind?” Mingyu asks. “About sex?”

 

Wonwoo nibbles on his bottom lip. He thinks for a bit before he answers. “The collar,” he says. “I wanted to keep this non-sexual because I didn’t want to make it too complicated. But then you gave me my collar and when you said you made it by hand and why you picked it, all I could think was, “Why am I so worried that being intimate with you is going to complicate things?” You’ve listened to everything I’ve had to say and you’re so good to me, and when I saw the collar, all I could think was how much I wanted to be with you.”

 

“Wonwoo,” Mingyu breathes, feeling a bit choked up.

 

“And, and then when you asked me what I wanted and listened when I said I wasn’t comfortable with something, I knew right then that I made the right choice.” Wonwoo’s eyes are shiny with tears. Mingyu reaches up to cup his cheek, and Wonwoo presses his face into the touch. “I think I might be in love with you,” he says.

 

Mingyu’s heart pounds wildly in his chest. “Me too,” he whispers. “For quite a while, too, I think.”

 

Wonwoo laughs breathily. He turns his head and presses his nose into Mingyu’s cheek, nuzzling. Mingyu turns and slots their lips together, kissing Wonwoo lazily.

 

The kiss breaks and Wonwoo presses closer, slotting his thigh between Mingyu’s and resting his head against Mingyu’s chest. Mingyu wraps his arm around Wonwoo’s back, pulling him even closer.

 

They fall asleep like that, curled together in Mingyu’s little bed. Wonwoo snores against the skin of Mingyu’s neck and Mingyu drools in Wonwoo’s hair a bit.

 

In the morning, Joshua’s the one who comes in to wake them when Mingyu’s alarm doesn’t go off, covering his eyes when he sees that Wonwoo’s completely naked and Mingyu’s not really any more covered. “It smells like jizz in here, so help me God!” Joshua screeches, darting out of the room.

 

“Well shit,” Mingyu mutters. “Looks like everybody’s gonna know now.”

 

Wonwoo just hums nonchalantly. He slides his hand into Mingyu’s pants and grips his cock, half hard from his morning wood. He jerks Mingyu off until he comes and then Mingyu presses Wonwoo into the mattress and sucks his cock until he’s got tears running down his face, begging for his orgasm.

 

They end up making everybody late and Seungcheol cusses them both out. Jeonghan pats Mingyu on the back and then wraps his hand around the back on Seungcheol’s neck as they get into the van, murmuring something into Seungcheol’s ear that makes him flush and drop his gaze to the ground, so Mingyu doesn’t let Seungcheol’s words go to heart.

 

“I pity Seungcheol hyung’s ass,” Wonwoo mutters offhandedly as they take their own seats in the van. Mingyu glances over to where Jeonghan and Seungcheol are sitting; Seungcheol’s flushed bright red all the way down his neck, and Jeonghan has one of his deceptively sweet grins on his face.

 

“Huh?”

 

“According to hyung,” Wonwoo murmurs, “Jeonghan likes to spank.”

 

Mingyu laughs until the mental picture of Wonwoo bent over his lap with the cheeks of his round little ass cherry red and covered in Mingyu’s handprints makes him stop. Mingyu’s hand finds its way to Wonwoo’s thigh and squeezes. “What about you?” Mingyu asks, lips so close to Wonwoo’s ear that they brush lightly against the lobe. “Would you like me to bend you over my knee and mark up your ass when you’ve been bad?”

 

Wonwoo’s eyes go wide and he shudders, squeezing his thighs together and trapping Mingyu’s hand. “Interesting,” Mingyu breathes. “We’ll talk more about that later.”

 

Wonwoo just nods, sucking his bottom lip into his mouth. Mingyu grins and reaches up to pull it out, thumbing over the slick swell of it.

 

It’s going to be so tough getting through the day knowing that the moment they get back to the dorm and can be alone, they’re going to sit down and Wonwoo’s going to tell him all of the things he wants Mingyu do to him, how he wants Mingyu to touch him and fuck him and punish him. The thought of it has his hand squeezing roughly into Wonwoo’s thigh and his heart thumping wildly.


He can’t wait.