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The Adventures of L.Joe

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“You know I'm straight,” he said, zipping his pants.

L.Joe wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “You say that every time.”

“I mean it. It's just that I can't get a girl, who would it be, the fans would go crazy. But what can I do, I get horny.”

L.Joe checked his clothes, folded his collar better. “Why are you telling me, I already know. I'd already know even if you didn't say it all the time. Am I a goldfish?”

A brief caress down L.Joe's cheek. “I'm sorry. You know I'm very grateful. You're the only one I would trust with this.”

“If you're so grateful, you do it for me once.”

A flash of a handsome smile. “Never.”

“Get out of here,” L.Joe said with mock anger and pushed him towards the door.

He checked the door, glanced both ways, before slipping out. L.Joe lingered. They could have left together, nobody would seriously suspect anything, but he wanted a moment to himself before he went back to the rest of Teen Top. He dug up his mint case and popped one into his mouth, leaning against the wall. He didn't mind doing favors, he quite liked it, but it was also nice to lean his head back and close his eyes and imagine being on the other end. Having someone who wanted to do him favors. But it was bittersweet. He could never resist it, but it always made him feel lonely after.

Voices, vaguely, in a strange way, almost echoing except... L.Joe looked around trying to pin down where they were coming from. The ceiling? No, the ventilation. He frowned, worried. If he could hear them, then they...? He moved closer to the ventilation and listened.

“No, really, that's what they were saying!” a female voice, breathless.

L.Joe froze in place, heart beating.

“I heard it clearly, there's no mistaking it.”

“Idols aren't like that,” a different female voice said, sounding older, and wary.

“Maybe only one of them was an idol. Although I think I recognized the second one's voice, the one who, hm, did it.”

L.Joe was struggling to form conscious thoughts, his mind was locking up with panic.

“Come on,” said the older woman. A distinct command.

“What, where?”

“Let's go check the room.”

“Unnie,” the younger protested, but their voices were moving away.

L.Joe realized they meant this room. Now. Coming to this room now. He spun around and rushed towards the door, flew out of it like his ass was on fire, then managed to gather himself and slow down. He rounded the corner while discreetely checking his clothes... the earring! Damned it, he'd taken off the earring because it was heavy and in the way, he'd put it on the shelf behind him. He turned back, stopped, started walking again. He was just another idol passing through a corridor at a broadcasting station, nothing strange with that, a hundred of them probably passed in a day. He tried to look casual, headed for the door and

the door opened. Two women came out of it. L.Joe casually strolled on, adjusting his course, trying to look carefree.

“Oh!” one of the women said.

The other one slapped her arm.

L.Joe passed them. They worked here. They'd been on the staff that had just filmed them. They'd just spent hours watching L.Joe, and L.Joe's big green cross earring, that was mysteriouly not in his ear. He squeezed his eyes shut and kept walking, and heard the younger woman say, in a hushed voice, “It's that one, L.Joe. It was his voice.”

Then he was out of earshot. He resisted the urge to glance back over his shoulder. It couldn't possibly get worse, but it was the only thing he could do. He returned to Teen Top's room.

“Is something wrong, hyung?” Niel asked, seeing his face.

L.Joe gave him a small, comforting smile. “Nothing. What's happening now?”

Niel started explaining something about schedule conflicts. L.Joe sat on the couch next to him, relaxing into the familiarity of Niel chatting away about this and that. Whatever would happen next, he was grateful for this moment of normality.

 

The storm came. Not only did the conversation turn up online, but the women had snapped a picture of him from behind when he walked past them, where you could clearly see the earring missing. Then a picture of the actual earring that they'd found, and pictures from the filming where L.Joe was wearing the earring. It wasn't conclusive evidence, some said the conversation was made up by someone who had found the earring, but it was good enough to gain some traction. Maybe it would have died down like that, but then other people started talking among themselves in the idol world; staff, other idols, managers. L.Joe thought he'd covered his tracks perfectly, but they still talked. Maybe they just jumped on the bandwagon with lies, he wasn't sure, he never heard any details. All he knew was that suddenly everyone talked about it. Everyone looked at him funny. The company refused to make a public statement, since that would only give validity to the rumors. L.Joe decided to stick with that privately too.

 

“L.Joe is gay?” Chunji said, as if Niel had said elephants wore pink tutus.

“Wha-! Don't look at me, I just said that's what people are saying,” Niel protested. He looked around and found a chair and sat down. “I heard it from two different people today. Isn't it weird?”

“Wasn't there some rumor about it online too,” Ricky asked, sitting down with Chunji on the couch.

“Really?” Niel asked, immediately intrigued. “What did it say, exactly?”

Ricky recounted the contents of the post with the pictures and the conversation.

Changjo had drifted in their direction and stood behind the couch, quietly listening.

“Eeeh, some fans,” Niel said, waving it off. “I told hyung to stop being so clingy.”

“Have you seen what some of the other idols have done? Much more than L.Joe-hyung ever did. And none of them got rumors like this going. And you said it was other idols, not fans,” Ricky said. He tapped his fingers together. “What if it's true?” he said after a pause.

“Of course it's not true,” Chunji said.

Niel looked doubtful. “He is very clingy...”

“If clingy means gay, there's a lot of gay idols,” Chunji said. “All of Super Junior.”

“VIXX's N,” Ricky thought. “Half of EXO.”

“Kim Jaejoong,” Changjo suggested. “Lee Minwoo.”

“Infinite's...”

“I get it, I get it,” Niel said, annoyed. “But, then, is there a way to know?”

“Should we ask him?” Chanjo asked. He raised his voice. “L.Joe-hyung...”

The others hushed him.

“What are you going to ask, exactly?” Chunji demanded. “Stop it, it's just a rumor, let it be.”

“But what if it's true?” Niel posited. “Shouldn't we talk about it?”

“We're in public,” CAP broke in. The others had thought him asleep at the furthest end of the couch. He snapped his fingers. “New subject.”

Niel was immediately on the ball. “One of you beat my high score on my phone, I know it was one of you! Ricky!”

Ricky implicated Changjo, who pointed to Chunji, who claimed it was CAP, who said it was L.Joe, and Niel came over to L.Joe who sat in front of the mirror playing with his phone, waiting for a stylist to return with tools because a detail had broken on his shirt.

L.Joe played his part and said it was Ricky who had beaten Niel's score, and the discussion returned to the couch and continued loudly. He shook his head at his fool members. Did they really not realize he could hear them the entire time?

 

That night everyone else were already in bed when he ended up with CAP in the bathroom brushing their teeth. CAP brushed his teeth like he had a mission, staring into the mirror.

“Hyung,” L.Joe said, “I need to talk to you about something.”

CAP looked at him instead, still as intense, listening.

“About what the members talked about today, when we were waiting for... about the rumors about me.”

CAP spit in the sink. “I'm not interested in rumors,” he said.

“Because it might become a problem for us, and the members, if they don't... what I'm trying to say is that I think the members should know, but I don't know how...”

CAP leaned against the sink and said, “If they don't know they won't need to lie when someone asks them. Which is why this conversation never happened.” He left the bathroom.

It wasn't as if L.Joe relied on him to be a super awesome hyung, exactly, or like he relied on any of his members terribly much. He considered himself capable to take care of himself. But he liked being a part of Teen Top and he liked having these guys around himself like a second family and without them he wouldn't have gotten this far. Wouldn't have gotten anywhere. He complained, and was picked on, and picked on them, and fought and yelled, so that in the end they didn't believe him when he said he loved them, but he did. He really did. This feeling, he thought, standing in the bathroom with the toothbrush forgotten in his hand, this feeling was like being dumped by the side of the road and abandoned as dead weight.

But he'd take care of himself. That's what he always did, one way or another.

 

Chapter Text

At some point someone had asked L.Joe a question and he'd said yes, but now that he was in costume, about to meet the other members of this temporary group called Dynamic Black, he was freaking out. They would rehearse one song together, do a couple of performances, that was it. But the rumors had been going around for a while now and he'd been able to stay within the safe confines of practice, rehearsals and recording, surrounded by his members. Suddenly he was on his own with relative strangers, with a lot of spotlight on him, and he'd be the youngest one. He was so nervous he felt sick.

The hyungs seemed cool though. Hoya was quiet, Kikwang was focused, Lee Joon was friendly, and Jinwoon was all over the place taking up all the attention. No one wanted to be leader, so they did rock-paper-scissors for it. L.Joe ended up the chosen leader, which made him worry again. Even if it was just for fun, what would they expect of him? He really didn't think of himself as the leader-type. And then there was choreography to learn, and singing to practice, and he had so much solo rap. Even more attention on him. He'd lapped it up before, happy to be seen a little more, but right now he just wanted to hide.

No one said anything directly to him, but he caught Kikwang staring at him at times, and when he and Joon started playing around at the end of the dance practice, only the two of them and Hoya still there, Hoya glared at them like they were doing something illicit. He went to get some snacks and came back to Hoya and Joon talking, clearly about him the way they stopped when he entered. Hoya left. Joon fidgeted around.

L.Joe had to get away from it. He turned around and left, but then he didn't know where to go. He still carried the snacks, and the manager had said they'd pick him up later, when he asked to stay for a while. They had to use the car elsewhere for a bit. Joon caught up with him.

The way Joon stammered excuses made L.Joe embarassed, which made him smile, which meant any attempt at appearing cool and angry was gone. He handed Joon the drink he'd bought him.

“I don't mind,” Joon insisted. “It's nobody's business.”

They ate the snacks and practiced some more. L.Joe had managed to make a friend, somehow.

 

For the following period, L.Joe tried to get away and meet up with the Dynamic Black members as much as he could. Things were very awkward with Teen Top now, everyone were walking around on eggshells not asking questions and CAP was glaring at him all the time, so it naturally became easier to be around his new team. He talked about the rap with Hoya, practiced dancing with Joon, picked on Jinwoon. Kikwang was oddly quiet. L.Joe let him be, figuring it was better to keep it a non-issue by ignoring it.

Jinwoon, Kikwang and he had gotten together briefly one evening, Jinwoon and Kikwang were mainly talking about the singing and the harmonies, L.Joe mostly hung out in the same room going over details with his parts. Suddenly Kikwang sat down next to him on the floor. L.Joe pulled the earbuds out.

“Hi,” Kikwang said, awkwardly but cutely.

L.Joe tried not to seem too surprised, not wanting to discourage the sudden interest. He looked around; Jinwoon was gone. “Where did the big hyung go?”

“He had to take a phone call,” Kikwang said. “What are you doing?”

L.Joe gestured at his phone, where he had some lines of the music stored to be able to jump to the parts he had trouble with. “Just polishing details.”

“Mm,” Kikwang said, and leaned in over the phone and pointed. “This part, I have trouble with that too. Isn't it this,” he stood up and did a few moves, “part too? For some reason the dance doesn't suit the words, don't you think?”

L.Joe got up. Kikwang sang the lyrics and he did the moves. Yeah, that might be it. “Maybe if we sing it differently?” he asked.

Kikwang shook his head. “Sing it,” he said, staring into the floor intentely.

“Singing... I can't...” L.Joe laughed.

Kikwang didn't tease him, just sang it himself while L.Joe rapped next to him for support, and did a different sequence, mostly the same but with a few changes. “Wouldn't it be better like this?”

It looked better. L.Joe tried to do it, and failed. Kikwang showed him again and they did it together. “I don't get that step...” L.Joe turned and touched Kikwang's knee. “Is it right-then-left or...”

Kikwang jolted back. Then smiled awkwardly, trying to cover it up. “Aish, you surprised me. This, it's this direction, one-two-half-half.” He showed it again. L.Joe watched him in the mirror, without really looking. The good mood was ruined. “I'm ticklish, you surprised me, that's all,” Kikwang said, peering hopefully at him, looking like a little brother asking for forgiveness for mischief.

“I should get back to my part,” L.Joe said.

Suddenly Kikwang stepped in behind him, one hand on his hip. “Don't give up. Like this,” he said, and sang in L.Joe's ear, pushing him along in the moves. They got through the entire sequence. L.Joe was looking down at himself, making sure he was following the moves all the way out to his feet and fingers, but when he looked up at the end of the steps, Kikwang was watching them both in the mirror. Their eyes met for a second, before Kikwang broke into that shy smile again and backed away. “Ah, I'm sorry. I, uh, now you do it.”

He danced it. It was easier, it went better with the lyrics somehow, the pacing of the words. The song got easier to sing as well, with steps like these. “This is very good,” he said. “If only we could change it.”

“We could talk to the hyungs,” Kikwang said. “They might change it if we suggest, there's no harm in asking, there's still plenty of time left to practice. But you have to back me up; just one person saying it won't have the same impact.”

Could he?

“You're our leader!” Kikwang cheered him.

L.Joe laughed. “Okay fine,” he said and tossed his hair out of his eyes. “No wonder people say you're a good dancer.”

“Hyunseung is better at making choreography,” Kikwang said.

“Just because all of B2ST are good dancers, you've lost perspective, hyung,” L.Joe said.

“Please, don't call me that. Friends, let's be friends.” Kikwang sat down on the floor. “Ah, is Jinwoon never coming back?”

“He's the one who needs the practice most,” L.Joe said.

Kikwang laughed. “You can be so mean! When we first met, I thought, this guy is dangerous. So small but so fierce; such a friendly smile but such harsh words.”

“I'm not like that, not at all,” L.Joe laughed back, gesturing defensively.

“If someone asks me what I think of you, I will say, 'regarding L.Joe-sshi, one could say, the smallest knife is also the sharpest'.”

“Then,” L.Joe said, glancing over at the door, “should we play a prank on Jinwoon-hyung?”

Kikwang's eyes were happy lines. “That's exactly what you would say,” he said. “Okay, what should we do?”

“Let's hide,” L.Joe suggested. “There's only one exit, he'll wonder how we got out without him seeing us.”

They gathered up their things and hid them behind a bench, then climbed into the tiny little storage closet. They fit inside sitting down. L.Joe pulled the door shut; it had a few little holes that allowed some light inside. Kikwang waved about awkwardly trying to find a way for them to fit together without invading too much personal space, which was pretty much impossible. “Sorry,” he whispered and put one arm around L.Joe's shoulders, weaving their legs together.

L.Joe leaned against his arm and waited, looking out through the tiny holes.

“What if he stays out there for another ten minutes?” Kikwang whispered.

L.Joe laughed at how stupid they seemed, sitting there. “Should we get out?”

Kikwang's arm tightened around him for a second. “No, no, let's wait a bit at least.”

They sat in silence for a while. It was starting to get hot in there. L.Joe shifted to get his face closer to the holes where the air was colder and had more oxygen.

“Is this okay?” Kikwang asked suddenly. When L.Joe looked at him, not understanding what he meant, he tapped L.Joe's shoulder where he was holding on to him.

“What do you mean, it's just between guys,” L.Joe said reflexively and turned back towards the room.

“If it's just between guys, then this is okay too, yeah?” Kikwang leaned closer and rested his cheek against L.Joe's shoulder, breathing hot air on his neck.

Technically speaking, L.Joe had been in far more compromising positions with guys in public, for photo shoots or doing fan service or stuff like that. But Kikwang said it so suggestively, and his other hand landed on L.Joe's thigh just above the knee; also fine, by any standards, but it crept very carefully upward. He could hear from Kikwang's breaths that he wasn't as casual as the question sounded.

“Do you want me to blow you?” L.Joe asked, because it seemed better to make sure than for things to just progress like this. Kikwang might freak out in the middle, or someone might take a step the other didn't want to take, and it would be awful and awkward and ruin things for the future too. He was glad it was too dark for Kikwang to see his face, since he too wasn't quite as casual as he somehow managed to sound.

Kikwang stopped breathing. Then, after several seconds, asked, “Is it okay?”

L.Joe started shuffling around, turning and getting on his knees between Kikwang's legs. “I asked, didn't I,” he said.

The space was tight. With Kikwang sitting down like that, L.Joe didn't really have space to spread out like he wanted, he'd have to stay on his knees all curled up. So uncomfortable. If Kikwang wasn't so damned cute, he wouldn't bother. Such an innocent face and cute voice, on that body. L.Joe massaged him through his soft practice pants and let his fingertips slide under his shirt. As if prepared to, Kikwang hitched up the shirt and trapped it under his armpit, giving L.Joe free access to all the numerous chocolate bar squares. L.Joe ran his hand over them, as he bent down and set his mouth to the bulge between Kikwang's legs and breathed against it.

“Mmm,” Kikwang said quietly, hips twitching slightly.

L.Joe pulled the waistband down, Kikwang lifted his ass a little so he could get pants and underwear out of the way, tensing those pretty abs. L.Joe wished he could see better. Such a good looking hyung was wasted in this dark space, but they couldn't exactly open the door in case Jinwoon came back. L.Joe leaned in, his body reacting to the hard shaft in his hand, and the smell of sex and sweat.

Kikwang dug his fingers into L.Joe's scalp. L.Joe swatted him away. “Don't mess up my hair,” he said, the words blowing air at Kikwang's cock.

“Ah,” Kikwang said, halfway between a moan and a laugh. “Ah, really, you're so cold, even like this.”

L.Joe glanced up at him, but had nothing to say to that. He was already doing a favor, getting his hair ruined wouldn't be worth it, Kikwang would get off with or without it.

“Let me kiss you first,” Kikwang said, watching him in the dark.

L.Joe grinned at him. “You can kiss me after,” he said.

Kikwang's smile grew wider, and he chuckled with disbelief. “This friend,” he said. Then yelped as L.Joe squeezed his hard-on. Then moaned appreciatively as L.Joe sucked the head into his mouth. His hands searched about a bit, looking for someplace to be or something to hold on to since they weren't allowed in L.Joe's hair.

Kikwang's cock was thick, no longer than average but a sturdy, nice handful. L.Joe pushed down on it as far as he could, and started working him rather fast. He was thick enough that L.Joe's jaw would start hurting pretty quickly, he figured, and besides, Jinwoon might come back anytime, so they better get to business. He bobbed sloppily up and down, matching the pace with his hand, listening to the lewd noises that filled up the tiny space. Kikwang bit his lip but stayed mostly quiet. L.Joe had already gotten the feeling that he wasn't a loud person like this, and his quiet panting and the way his body shivered was even better than noisy moaning. It was almost like he was suffering, as if he was focused like when working out, getting through those last repetitions.

When L.Joe had to slip off him for a moment, since like he'd suspected his jaw started to hurt quite early, Kikwang reached down and ran his fingers over L.Joe's lower lip. And then he moaned. Hm, he'd asked to kiss too, maybe he liked L.Joe's mouth? L.Joe licked his lips slowly, then wiped them with his thumb and index finger. Kikwang drew a shaky breath that made L.Joe feel like the hottest thing on the planet. Smiling, he let his tongue play over his teeth. He could feel Kikwang's erection twitching in his hand, leaking pre-cum.

“Do you want it?” he whispered playfully.

“Mmm?” Kikwang said, not fully in control of his voice.

“Do you want my mouth? Where? Here?” He kissed Kikwang's abs. “Here?” He dragged his lips along Kikwang's hip, and Kikwang arched up a little, twisting, guiding L.Joe back to his crotch. “Say you want it,” L.Joe said.

“Ahh, I want it,” Kikwang said immediately. “L.Joe. I really want it.”

“What do you want?” L.Joe asked, happy to abuse his power.

“You, your mouth.”

Kikwang was so obedient, L.Joe wanted to bully him. “Where?”

“Ah, L.Joe,” Kikwang whined.

“Where,” L.Joe insisted.

“On, my-, me.”

Kikwang seemed embarassed to say it, so that would have to do. “Say please.”

“Please,” Kikwang said, without reservations.

Such willingness must be rewarded. L.Joe licked his rock-hard shaft, letting his other hand play with Kikwang's balls as he closed his mouth around his cock again. Kikwang drew sharply for air and moaned breathlessly, almost soundlessly. He was close now, pretty much there. L.Joe made a last effort, sliding down as far as he possibly could and sucking hard as he came back up, and when he returned to the rhythm, Kikwang said his name in a way that meant it was time. L.Joe slid off him and put his palm against his abs, jacked him a few more times and then he was coming, bucking up. L.Joe's hand got to experience those pretty abs clenching in waves.

Kikwang let out a long, pleasure-drenched breath and slumped against the wall. L.Joe wiped his hand on his underwear – that was where the rest of it was going anyway – and pulled it and his pants back up.

“That was so good,” Kikwang whispered.

L.Joe just smiled. He knew. He could tell. Then was surprised by Kikwang grabbing the front of his shirt and pulling him into a kiss. Ack, when he'd said after, he really hadn't thought Kikwang would do it. Kikwang licked the corner of his mouth and sucked on his lip greedily before letting him go.

“Your mouth is so unbelievably sexy,” Kikwang said lazily.

Shit he was turned on. He loved putting on a show, he loved having his looks appreciated, and no one had wanted to kiss him that much before, it was incredibly gratifying. He patted Kikwang's abs and backed away as much as the space allowed, which was barely any at all.

A sharp sound made them both snap to attention. The door to the room opening and closing. Some steps, then a hesitant, “Hello? Aish, really, these guys, did they leave?”

Jinwoon. Kikwang's eyes met L.Joe's in the dark, and they smiled at each other in common recognition. Their prank had kicked into action. While listening to Jinwoon wander around thinking out loud, wondering how they could have left, L.Joe closed his eyes and thought away his erection. Kikwang was still so close, a presence of heat also in the places they weren't touching. Calming down took a lot of willpower like that.

“Maybe we should go out,” Kikwang said after a while.

The door was torn open. “AHA!” Jinwoon exclaimed. “I thought I saw a door somewhere! Are you hiding from practice? Get out here.”

When they didn't immediately come, Jinwoon reached in and dragged a laughing, squealing Kikwang out and left him on his ass next to the door. Then climbed in and got a hold of L.Joe's leg. He nearly filled the small space just with half his body inside. There was nothing to hold on to, so L.Joe was swiftly pulled out too and dumped next to Kikwang. They were both still laughing, so Jinwoon kicked them.

“Back to work!” he demanded.

“Ack, hyung, you're not our leader,” Kikwang protested.

“Tell him to get back to work,” Jinwoon told L.Joe.

“Get back to work,” L.Joe giggled.

“Yes, leader!” Kikwang yelled, bouncing to his feet like he was in the army.

Kikwang and Jinwoon returned to their earlier practice. L.Joe picked out his things again and went back to going over his rap.

Eventually he had to leave, while the other two stayed. He was halfway out the door when Kikwang said, “See you soon, leader-sshi!”

Jinwoon bowed formally. Kikwang joined in.

“Don't slack off,” L.Joe told them.

The smile Kikwang gave him behind Jinwoon's back was a happy, intimate shared secret.

 

The Dynamic Black project went better and better. Joon and Hoya had another confrontation that involved the whole team, that in the end increased the teamwork. And gave Kikwang an excuse to join Joon in trying to improve on L.Joe's dancing. L.Joe was curious where Kikwang intended to take this, especially when he moved in one day to correct L.Joe's posture and actually slid his hand down his back, right there where everyone could see it in the mirror. No one seemed to care at all, they were all focused on their own performance, only Joon smiled a little. Kikwang was obsessing over L.Joe's mouth, L.Joe could see him watching whenever he was talking, even peeking in from other rooms. When L.Joe rapped, Kikwang stared in apt attention. L.Joe could have sworn he even got visibly hard off it once, quickly sitting down and covering it up. Later that day, in the less used upstairs bathroom, L.Joe blew him again, and left him scattered in the stall when the manager called from the corridor.

“You're amazing!” Kikwang whispered before the stall door swung shut between them.

Days went by, without much opportunity to explore Kikwang's commitment. In public, Kikwang was a dedicated, supportive and slightly flirty friend. L.Joe was getting a little worried though, with the freedoms he took touching. Sure, it could be called fanservice or friendship between guys, but on top of the rumors? L.Joe didn't want to pull Kikwang down with him just because he was an affectionate guy. The day of the debut performance, after final rehersals, Kikwang was worked up; nervous, excited, at the same time super focused and bounding with energy. L.Joe always felt like the wait for going on stage was like the calm before a storm; like the world settled into this slightly surreal slowdown where concentrating was hard and time passed in random bouts.

Suddenly Kikwang grabbed his arm and dragged him off. No one was paying attention; the rest of the team were absorbed in a discussion, the manager had been called over for something. Checking left and right, Kikwang beelined for a door in a forgotten corner, handing out innocent smiles for anyone casting a glance his way, looking like he was just passing through. L.Joe followed him through the door, carefully checking behind them and closing it. It didn't lock, but there was a hatch to fold down that blocked it from getting opened.

“I checked it out before,” Kikwang said. “It's broken, you're supposed to be able to fold the hatch down from the outside with a key, but the keyhole is painted over. So you can use it from the inside instead.”

L.Joe folded it down. If Kikwang told the truth about the key, it seemed legit.

“Want to get off?” Kikwang smiled, shy but excited. “I like to do it before a performance. Takes the worst edge off.”

L.Joe had never tried that. His head was full of thoughts about the show; where to stand, how to pace the rap, what camera was where, when to move left, but he shrugged and nodded. Sure, why not.

Kikwang smiled even wider. His hand came up, and L.Joe immediately said, “Don't mess up the make-up.”

Kikwang looked disbelieving and amused. “You are such a diva.”

Wasn't it being professional? He snorted and kneeled, got Kikwangs pants open and found his hard-on ready and waiting. Kikwang's fingertips came under his chin, teasing his head up, and then Kikwang's fingers hovered over his lips, caressing the air just millimeters away with steady fingers, never touching, despite being so close L.Joe felt like he could feel it. “Won't this mess up your make-up too?” Kikwang asked.

“I'm not blowing you,” L.Joe said. He just liked the view from down here.

Kikwang's cock fit nicely in his hand now, he'd found the right grip, the right strength, the right rhythm. Kikwang's breathing changed, then Kikwang grabbed his shirt and tried to pull him up and L.Joe hurried onto his feet before Kikwang ruined the clothes.

“You,” Kikwang said, digging his hands under the layers of black. “You too.” He found the fly of L.Joe's pants and worked it open, biting his lip and smiling when his fingers closed around L.Joe, feeling around, getting used to the shape. L.Joe breathed against Kikwang's chest, resisting the urge to lean against him. He wanted in under Kikwang's clothes, worm his way to the hard body beneath and lick his smooth skin, curl his tongue around Kikwang's nipple, maybe let him feel a nip of teeth.

He was so lost in the fantasy that when the hand around his cock firmed and sped up he wasn't prepared, like pulling the trigger on a loaded gun. He gasped and curled forward, and to not press his head against Kikwang's chest and mess up the hair he caught himself with his left hand. He had to shut his eyes to try to regain control over the tidal wave.

Kikwang leaned over him in turn. “Fuck,” he whispered, “you're so sexy.” His hand closed around L.Joe's jaw in an iron grip and lifted his head, more or less holding him standing by it. “Every time I hear your songs now, every time you rap, I get hard. Ah, what if someone notices.”

L.Joe smiled and Kikwang answered with a mischivous smile of his own, before his eyes locked on L.Joe's mouth. They were still jacking each other, panting into each other's breaths, and Kikwang's eyes were glazed over with sexual heat. Kikwang's long, pink tongue snaked out and licked L.Joe's mouth, then Kikwang moaned and bit his lip. Such a little pervert, getting off so much on L.Joe's mouth, it got L.Joe off to see him do it.

“If it wasn't,” Kikwang said, “If we- if the show- would you-?”

As an answer, L.Joe slowly swept his tongue over his own lips, watching Kikwang's eyes following it from side to side, feeling Kikwang's breaths get shaky.

“Mmmmm,” Kikwang moaned, chewing on his lips badly now. His head tipped back, his hand released the lock on L.Joe's face as his thumb ran along his jaw. L.Joe sucked his thumb into his mouth. With a shocked gasp, Kikwang's head snapped back, his eyes widened, and then closed as he came. His body shook and clenched to stay standing, and L.Joe kept pumping him for every last drop before Kikwang moaned and pushed his hand away.

So close, L.Joe was so close himself. He closed his hand over Kikwang's and kept the pace. Kikwang's eyes opened again, locking on L.Joe's cock instead. He was panting, mouth wide open. L.Joe wanted it on him, wanted to feel the velvet sweep of Kikwang's tongue on his cock instead, closed his eyes and imagined it. Ah he wanted it so bad, wanted to come so bad, he couldn't do this anymore, imagined Kikwang sliding onto him, looking up at him, the thick eyeliner making his gaze intense with promise, imagined him popping it out of his mouth and draw for breath and...

“So. Fucking. Sexy,” Kikwang breathed.

L.Joe came, the world blanked out for a moment. When he came back he realized that he'd fisted his hand in Kikwang's clothes. Kikwang's shirt was crumpled, his necklace out of place. Feeling a bit out of it still, L.Joe tried to adjust it.

“It's fine, it's fine,” Kikwang said, laughing at him. “Is that really what you're most concerned with?”

L.Joe zipped up his pants in response and checked his lips. Might need a touch from the make-up again? They wouldn't be happy. Was there still time?

“It doesn't show.” Kikwang ran his thumb over L.Joe's lower lip. “You look amazing.”

“You would say that,” L.Joe said, fixing Kikwang's pants and putting his clothes back in order since he showed no interest in doing it himself.

“I do mean it. But we have to get back,” Kikwang said.

But he lingered. And this was the moment, wasn't it? Where things would have to be decided. Because the work with Dynamic Black was almost done, they wouldn't have many excuses anymore. If people hadn't started talking about them already, they might if L.Joe kept seeing him after the project ended. For Kikwang's sake, for his reputation, and for L.Joe's conscience, this could go no further.

“It's been nice working with you,” L.Joe said, tossing his hair out of his eyes and holding out a hand. A little too harsh. “I hope you've had as much fun as I have,” he added.

Kikwang's smile diminished, but his eyes were still sparkling in a friendly way as he nodded. “Great fun,” he said. “Let's stay friends. And let's give a kickass performance!” He took L.Joe's wrist and set up his hand so they could high-five instead.

“Definitely,” L.Joe agreed.

Chapter Text

After the project was over, L.Joe didn't hear much from the other members of Dynamic Black. They were all absorbed back into their own schedule and L.Joe made no effort to contact them. He briefly considered calling Joon, but somehow, even though time passed, the rumors about him stayed around, circulated and were warped and added to, so he returned to his safe practice bubble to keep other idols out of it. End-of-year activities were starting up, it was a busy time.

Later, on a calm weekend, Changjo kept working on his dancing after the others had left. L.Joe stayed spread out on the couch and watched him in the mirror, too exhausted to move. Changjo really was an excellent dancer; he could do things with his body that L.Joe just couldn't imagine. And no matter what L.Joe ate he just wouldn't gain weight, not even the harsh practice schedule seemed to make him build any muscle, his body just got hard and wiry. It wasn't without jealousy he watched Changjo's arms flex and his shins strain.

Suddenly Changjo stopped and stared at L.Joe in the mirror. Still breathing hard, Changjo turned around and walked up to him and stopped just by the couch, all tall and towering and sweaty. L.Joe stayed where he was, peering at him curiously.

“Hyung,” Changjo said, “are you into guys?”

L.Joe laughed from surprise.

“I'm serious,” Changjo said, looking a little offended.

“Why are you asking me that,” L.Joe asked.

“The other hyungs don't dare to ask, but I think we should know,” Changjo said.

Their maknae was always the bravest one. L.Joe tapped his fingers on the couch, thinking. “Why does it matter?” he asked.

“Is that why you don't talk about it?” Changjo asked. “Because you think it doesn't matter?”

L.Joe shrugged. “It's not like any of us can date.”

Changjo's eyes drifted to the side, like they did when he was seriously thinking about something. He was someone who could take his time thinking, making up opinions, sticking to them. L.Joe waited patiently. “Just answer the question,” Changjo said finally, angling his body away.

Changjo was someone who could definitely lie, who could keep a straight face and work his way through anything if he had to. L.Joe trusted his ability to keep a secret one hundred percent. But that didn't mean that Changjo liked lying, in fact it made him tense and irritable, and this wasn't his secret to have to keep. “It's just rumors,” L.Joe said. “I can't talk about them because the company told me not to. That's all.”

Changjo eyed him warily, doubtfully, for a few seconds, then nodded. A decision had been made, L.Joe was off the hook and would forever stay that way unless something dramatic happened. As Changjo gathered up his things, L.Joe started to feel bad. Maybe he should have told him the truth. He did trust him, after all, and was reasonably sure he wouldn't freak out too, but it was for Changjo's own good. L.Joe had to be a good hyung and protect him.

Changjo stopped at the door. “Coming?”

Ah yes. Dragging himself off the couch L.Joe hurried to catch up. “If I was, though, I'd be totally into you,” L.Joe said, walking ahead as Changjo closed the door. “You're a good catch. Our tall, handsome, reliable maknae.”

Chanjo chuckled behind him. “If I was,” he said, falling in beside L.Joe, “I wouldn't be into you.”

“Ya!” L.Joe punched him in the shoulder.

“Ow. I'd be into guys then, right, like, guys? Hyung is so small and skinny, you'd be like a girl.”

“Not everyone can be dancing machines,” L.Joe said. “I have other qualities!”

“Oh really,” Changjo said. “I've seen your stuff, hyung. That myth about small guys having big...”

L.Joe punched him again. “Ya!”

“Hm maybe you're right,” Changjo said, rubbing his shoulder where he'd been punched. “Too ugly to be a girl. And too violent.”

“I hate you,” L.Joe decided. For the possibly thousandth time.

They walked in silence for a bit, and then Chango said, “Hyung, I'm only joking with you because you know you're very handsome right? That's why you keep checking yourself in mirrors all the time? Niel thinks it's because you're insecure, but you can't be, can you? With all the fans swooning, and... well, you have eyes.” He muttered the last part, looking away.

L.Joe was too embarassed to say anything.

Now he felt really stupid for lying.

 

New Year's and all the events that entailed came and went. During one of the after-promos, Teen Top were scattered around a shoot, some getting ready, some relaxing after. Suddenly, a stranger sat down next to L.Joe where he was seated on a bench drinking some juice watching Chunji get his picture taken.

“Hi.”

If L.Joe wasn't mistaken, this guy belonged to U-Kiss. “Hi.”

“I'm U-Kiss's Kevin.”

“Teen Top L.Joe,” L.Joe said, although he suspected this sunbae knew who he was.

They shook hands. Kevin watched Chunji change to a few other poses. “Are you done?”

“I am,” L.Joe said. “There's a few members left.”

“Then you have some time?”

L.Joe licked his lips. “Um, I suppose.”

“There's someone who wants to meet you.”

This was getting weirder and weirder. “Meet me?”

Kevin smiled and leaned in closer to make sure none of the surrounding staff heard anything. “There's someone who have heard things about you, who's curious, who'd love to get to know you a little better. That is, if those things are true. I'm here to find that out. So, wanna come for a walk?”

L.Joe wasn't sure what to do with himself. Heard what exactly? What had the rumors turned to lately? Or had Kikwang...? B2ST didn't have much of anything to do with U-Kiss as far as he knew but, really, when it came to the intricate web of contacts between idols, he had no idea. Or was this a trap? But what did U-Kiss stand to gain from embarrassing Teen Top? They weren't really rivals, even, with such different styles from each other.

Kevin pulled back. “I understand,” he said.

L.Joe shook his head and stood up. “I need some air,” he said, as if completely unrelated. “Let's talk outside.”

Kevin smiled. “Sure.”

L.Joe looked around over his shoulder. Chunji was finishing up, Ricky was standing ready. The rest of Teen Top were busy; CAP was gone somewhere. No one would notice if he slipped out for a bit.

As soon as they were out the door, Kevin nodded further down the corridor. “This way.”

This was such a terrible idea. L.Joe followed him, and fiddled with his juice pack that he'd for some reason brought along. It was just so he could find out what people were saying about him. That's what it was. He would scout the scene with U-Kiss and go back. As if it would play out that way. Worry and excitement and curiosity played catch with each other in his stomach.

Who was even in U-Kiss?

He was still trying to recall all the member names when Kevin stopped. Where were they? Somewhere in this building that L.Joe didn't know. He wasn't even sure he could find his way back. Kevin knocked on a door and it opened. Another dressing room with U-Kiss members scattered around.

“We're here,” Kevin announced.

No point in showing nerves, so L.Joe smiled and bowed right and left and got greetings in return. Because he was trying to figure out who was who, he almost crashed into the guy who had stood up right in front of him.

“This is Hoon,” Kevin declared.

L.Joe greeted him. Instead of a greeting back, Hoon's eyes ran over his body, top to bottom and up again. His face was a mystery. L.Joe refused to be shaken. He did the same drop of the eyes too. Ah yes, this guy, he'd been on Dream Team and other physical shows, he was a bit heavier than most idols, a lot of muscle hiding under a plain t-shirt and jeans. A tough guy, but what kind of guy was he if you let your teeth scrape the head of his cock, L.Joe wondered.

“All good?” Kevin asked.

“Mmm,” Hoon said, a little smile creeping over his face.

L.Joe suppressed a grin and glanced over at Kevin. “Does he talk?”

“Normally. But right now you might have to make him,” Kevin chuckled.

“Alright,” L.Joe said confidently.

There were a few catcalls. Someone groaned. Hoon grabbed his arm and dragged him further in, through a door into a bathroom that belonged to the dressing room. As if asserting dominance like a dog in a fight, Hoon swung him around and drove him further into the bathroom, closing in on him threateningly. Wondering how far he'd go, L.Joe lingered, not backing down, not confronting. Hoon came up, grabbed his neck and walked him backwards all the way to the wall, unbuttoning his shirt. When L.Joe tried to break in, he swatted his arms away effortlessly. Finally getting L.Joe's shirt open, Hoon undressed him, stripped his top half naked and dropped the clothes carelessly on the floor. L.Joe stayed passive, let him do the work. Hoon kissed his neck, looming over him, being so much larger that L.Joe must disappear behind his hulking shape. L.Joe leaned his head back and let him suck on his collar bone. Hoon's hands didn't roam, just held on to where they ended up, firmly keeping him in place. Not really backing off him, Hoon swept his own t-shirt over his head and tossed it away before settling in again.

Ah, what a body. L.Joe fisted his hands against the wall resisting the urge to touch him. So far Hoon hadn't seemed to care that L.Joe didn't react. It was hot, the way he just took up residence without waiting for permission, the way he got all over him without wondering over the response. If he played his cards right, L.Joe was fairly sure he could get a blowjob out of this, but there was something about how Hoon's hands hadn't ventured below his waist yet, and the way Hoon's mouth had latched onto his neck, that just irked him. Made him wonder, just how tough this tough guy was. Made him want to test, push the boundaries, force him out of his comfort zone. On the one hand, blowjob. On the other hand... L.Joe smiled at himself, brought his hand up to cover his mouth. He couldn't resist. Could never resist.

“Ya,” he said, immediately switching over from his own smiling self to the rapper, the bad boy, the attitude he put on on stage. Forcing his hands in between himself and Hoon, he set them firmly against Hoon's chest and shoved hard. Hoon was unprepared. He was forced a step back. “Are you a vampire?” L.Joe demanded. “What the hell do you think you're doing, marking me? Are you crazy? You want to come along and explain to the managers where it came from?” It almost got a rapper rhythm, he was so used to it. He stepped right after Hoon, back into his personal space.

Hoon's hand landed on L.Joe's hip.

L.Joe stuck his chin out. Locking eyes with him, L.Joe tore Hoon's hand off of him. “What are you, a kid?” Taking another step forward, L.Joe grabbed Hoon's crotch. “This,” he said, “is what I'm here for isn't it.” Mm, nice. He was right in Hoon's face. Close enough to catch the surprise, the shock, even as it was quickly reigned in.

Hoon's chin came down, his eyes darkened, his muscles prepared. He may be double the size of L.Joe, but size was just one little advantage when it came to taking command. It was all about keeping the initiative, showing confidence. L.Joe licked his lips deliberately to distract him for a moment, then shoved him again at an angle, forcing him to back up into the sink. Hoon's hands found the sink automatically, catching himself. L.Joe immediately dropped to his knees. His eyes caught sight of himself in the mirror on the way down, halfway hidden behind Hoon's muscular back. It flashed heat through him. His small size versus Hoon, the look in his own eyes. Something so amazingly powerful about the way he'd dropped, slim chest exposed, chin up, mouth open. God he loved doing this.

He unbuckled Hoon's belt and worked his pants open. When he tossed his head to get his hair out of his eyes, Hoon grabbed it, held it out of the way. L.Joe had no illusions about it being for his sake; he knew Hoon wanted a better view of his own cock going into his mouth. Smiling at the sight of the swollen head poking out of Hoon's underwear, L.Joe licked his teeth and glanced up at Hoon. All those chest muscles working, as Hoon breathed deep, leaned against the sink.

L.Joe ran his finger up the length of Hoon's cock, teasing it up to his lips, before sucking it in. Hoon's grip on his hair held him fairly stable, so he wrapped both hands around the shaft, working him. Pacing himself a little, because it might be a long ride. But, much earlier than he'd expcted,

“Fuck,” Hoon breathed.

It felt like a million dollars. He'd said he'd make him talk, and he had. He sucked harder, wanting more words, speeding up. Twisting his hands around the rock-hard shaft made Hoon's hips jerk.

“Ah shit, slow down,” Hoon said. There was no way L.Joe was doing that. Suddenly Hoon's hand, previously holding the sink, was closing around his neck, stopping him. For a second, Hoon just held on, watching him, and then, with a shaky groan, Hoon forced his head down on his cock, slowly, slowly.

L.Joe's eyes closed against his will. He struggled to accommodate the length, was surprised himself at how far he got. Hoon didn't push the impossible, he just held L.Joe there for a moment, before letting him up for air. Drawing that breath made L.Joe's chest hum with desire. Wanting Hoon to do it again, he held still in the grip, staring hungrily Hoon's thick cock hanging there unattended. His hands came up, but Hoon kneed them away.

“No,” Hoon said.

Fine.

Hoon came away from the sink, thrusting into L.Joe's mouth, holding his head still. L.Joe grabbed his hips and tried to keep up. Hoon was making sounds, groaning, some of them sounding involuntary. L.Joe kept his eyes closed and let his other senses be flooded, the slippery glide of Hoon's cock between his lips, the smell of his sex, the uncontrolled grunts. His own hard-on was getting painful, still stuffed into his tight pants.

“Ah, shit,” Hoon said. He was leaking pre-cum, his movements getting desperate.

L.Joe opened his eyes, started moving on his own. Hoon had to let go and hold on to the sink again. L.Joe felt himself sweat, and he had to, he had to, he massaged his own aching cock through the pants and moaned around Hoon's shaft.

“Ahhh fuck, you're good, fuck,” Hoon moaned.

L.Joe could see Hoon's hands behind him, clutching the sink until his knuckles went white. He sucked hard, hollowing his cheeks, grabbing the shaft again.

Hoon cried out, more like roared, and came. L.Joe hadn't quite expected that, but he just barely managed to slip off without choking. Spitting to the side, he kept jacking Hoon slowly until his groans turned into breaths.

L.Joe got up and got some water from behind Hoon and rinsed his mouth. Hoon was still leaning against the sink, catching his breath. Still safely out of his view, L.Joe washed his face and tried to think down his raging hard-on. God that had been intense. He'd get off so hard thinking about this, for months, but for now he had to make it out past the rest of U-Kiss with some self-respect. He picked up his clothes from the floor. Hm, how was he going to explain any of this? He'd washed his face despite the make-up, and then the clothes...

His heart skipped a beat when a strong hand came around from behind him and grabbed his throat. Hoon's body pressed up against him, Hoon's fingertips slid inside his fly. While Hoon opened his pants, he walked him forward until L.Joe had to catch himself against the wall. Hoon's crotch was still hot, the bulge from his soft cock ground up against L.Joe's ass and L.Joe gasped for air. The hand around his throat was making it hard to breathe, and he really, really needed to breathe. He felt his chest work hard, fighting for each breath. Hoon was in complete control of him, from knees to head Hoon's body pressed against him deciding every move, he had nowhere to go, no way to break loose. The way Hoon's hips moved, the way he rode L.Joe's ass, was driving L.Joe crazy.

And then there was Hoon's hand, slipping inside his pants, sliding up and down the underside of his erection, rubbing him ever so deceptively gently. L.Joe had no say. His body wanted to get off so bad after the blowjob, his skin prickled with need. He felt himself grind his ass back against Hoon, heard this embarrassing, needy, throaty moan come out.

Hoon's hand moved to cover his mouth. Finally he could breathe, which he used to moan some more into Hoon's hand, as if the hand being there somehow made it more okay. His body burned, all he could think about was Hoon's palm sliding against his cock, Hoon's lips closing on his neck, sucking hard. Breathing deep, leaning his head back as far as he could, letting himself melt into Hoon's touch, he cursed into Hoon's hand and felt his own cum shoot up on his stomach. He kept cursing in his head, as his mouth stopped following orders, his whole body going limp.

Blowing hot air against his neck, Hoon reached over and smeared the cum out over his skin. L.Joe swatted at his hand without much effect.

“Ya,” he said breathlessly. “Haven't you done enough.”

Hoon smiled with his mouth pressed against L.Joe's shoulder.

L.Joe allowed himself to relax there for a moment, leaned back against him. Just one moment. Then he got up, sliding away. He saw himself in the mirror immediately. Hair messed up, face with an obvious post-orgasm glow, cum smeared over his abs. The bathroom light enhanced the lines of his body, made him even leaner, painted each wiry muscle with dark shadow. Hypnotized, he walked up to the sink. He looked like he'd walked out of a very messed up photo shoot. Good, he looked good like this, he thought, and watched himself crack into a beautiful smile.

“You've really got something,” Hoon said, just a big shadow behind him in the mirror.

L.Joe bent over the sink and washed up.

“If I suggested you're not the first invitation,” Hoon said, walking up to lean against the sink next to him, “and then told you you're pretty damned good, would it go to your head?”

“Definitely,” L.Joe said, coming up, water dripping off his face.

“Then let me say this instead,” Hoon said.

“Ya,” L.Joe said, spotting something in the mirror. “I told you not to mark me! What the hell will I tell the members?” He leaned closer. Yup, that was a hickey, probably from this last moment, Hoon had been sucking on his neck when he came, he'd been way too out of it to stop him.

Hoon's eyes narrowed. “Ya, hoobae, I'm talking to you.”

L.Joe fetched his clothes. They were all crumpled. Yeah this would end well. Messed up hair, clothes, make-up washed away, a hickey... he sighed and dressed.

“You're really something.” Hoon grabbed his neck. L.Joe laughed and dodged away and slipped out of the bathroom.

The rest of U-Kiss were still outside. No doubt they'd heard significant parts of what had happened. Someone gave him a secretive smile. Kevin said, “Next time, come see me.” Were they all...? Those who weren't seemed entirely okay with it though. It must be nice, L.Joe thought. Even if they didn't get it on with each other, you'd have people around to talk to, or, as it were, fetch you some ass. He wondered why Hoon hadn't come picked him up himself.

He opened the door, then stopped halfway, hand still on the handle. He had no fucking idea where he was. How was he going to find his way back to...?

Hoon opened the door the rest of the way. “I'll walk you back,” he said.

“Kiss, kiss, kiss,” someone chanted inside.

Hoon herded L.Joe out and closed the door. “Okay?”

L.Joe didn't have a choice but to accept. They walked down the corridor, Hoon slightly ahead, L.Joe following his broad shoulders. A member of staff slipped by them, otherwise they were alone. Faster than L.Joe had expected – he'd felt he'd walked a long way with Kevin – they arrived back at the right door.

Hoon grabbed his shoulders. “Listen.” L.Joe put on an attentive face. “This was great. But, and I realize the irony in me saying it, but you shouldn't hand out favors just anywhere to anyone. You've really got something, kid. Which means sooner or later someone will want to own it.”

L.Joe wasn't sure what that meant. Before he could ask, Hoon opened the door and ushered him inside.

The shoot was still going on. Changjo was standing in front of the white screen. His controlled, friendly smile froze into a mask when he saw L.Joe enter. L.Joe ran his hand through his hair in another pointless attempt at fixing it. CAP, Chunji and Niel hung out by the other end of the room, but spotted them and started moving in. Agh. He probably looked like he had a sign saying just fucked on his forehead.

“Your members don't know,” Hoon stated.

L.Joe shook his head.

“You have to fix that. If shit hits it, you need them. Whatever the problem is, solve it.”

That was easier said than done. “Just because the entirety of U-Kiss...”

Hoon laughed. “It wasn't that easy in the beginning, believe me. And they're not, for the record. They just like to play around.”

Teen Top was within earshot now. CAP didn't look happy, Chunji wore his chic unbothered face which meant he wanted to kill. L.Joe's body tensed up in anticipation.

He really shouldn't have lied to the maknae.

“Hi,” Niel said happily, still probably not having caught on.

Hoon greeted them formally, and they each greeted him, mostly out of habit.

“Are you also on a photo shoot today?” Niel asked.

“We are, later,” Hoon said. “Only group shots though.” He nodded at Changjo, who was glancing over at them all the time between snaps. “He's good. He's your dancer?”

Normally it was CAP who answered that kind of question, but CAP was standing closest to L.Joe with his arms crossed and his jaw locked, saying nothing, oozing disapproval. The normally smiling and coolly acommodating Chunji wore the most fake smile in the word. Niel finally realized something was going on.

“Yes, our maknae dance machine,” Niel said, looking around at his members. “Ah, well, it was nice to meet you, we should get back.”

Hoon looked slightly worried. “Ah, L.Joe, perhaps you could...”

“He's not,” CAP said. Looking down, kicking the floor, making it look like the casual conversation it was't, CAP continued in a low voice. “He's not doing anything, he's not seeing you again, he's not taking your number.”

“Hyung,” L.Joe said.

“Respectfully, sunbaenim, I think you should leave.”

“It's not really your decision,” Hoon said.

“We are Teen Top,” CAP said. “You do whatever you do your way, let us do it our way.”

“And whatever you do you're doing it poorly,” Chunji said. “Bringing L.Joe back looking like this, in public?”

“Hyung,” L.Joe said. He felt like a child watching his parents have a conversation about him.

“He ate with me, spilled some food, we had to get him cleaned up, what are you talking about,” Hoon said calmly. “Isn't it good for Teen Top to make some connections?”

“Get out,” CAP said.

“Don't make a scene,” L.Joe warned.

“A~haha,” Niel said nervously, glancing over at a staff member passing by dangerously close. “That's funny!” He got out of earshot. “If we're gonna fight, let's not do it here,” he said, switching down to a lower tone.

Chunji still looked like he wanted to punch Hoon. L.Joe was surprised that he would get so worked up. “It's alright,” L.Joe told Hoon. “Thanks for the food, hyung.”

A brief smile flashed over Hoon's face, quickly shut down. “Be careful,” he said with a serious expression and reached out to touch L.Joe's arm. Chunji stepped forward and swiped him away. Alarmed, CAP swung his arm over Chunji's shoulders and pulled him back, while Niel acted human shield to block the view. “Dangerous,” CAP murmured in Chunji's ear. “Enough, enough.”

L.Joe smiled brightly for the surrounding staff and waved Hoon off.

It might have been better if Hoon hadn't come inside with him, L.Joe thought. Ricky had noticed the commotion and came over, asking who that was. Niel took him to the side and filled him in. Changjo was finished, which meant they were leaving. The others fought and played in the car, but no one spoke to L.Joe. He didn't know whether to be sad or relieved about it, but it felt strange, like he was being excluded as a punishment. Teen Top's fights tended to be loud; being given the silent treatment was a little scary.

It was cold, and snow was sprinkled in the dark. Everyone huddled together and rushed inside the dorm the moment the car stopped, trying to protect themselves with jackets and bags. L.Joe switched into warm clothes. He was so skinny that he got cold very easily. He bundled up on the couch and waited for whatever judgment would befall him.

Suddenly Changjo stood before him, still in the photo shoot clothes. “Did you have sex with that sunbae?”

Shit, shit, shit shit shit. L.Joe pulled the sleeves of his sweater down over his hands, trying to think.

Changjo stepped in and leaned over him and pulled at his collar. Agh the hickey! L.Joe shoved him away and corrected his clothes, put the hood on and glared at Changjo from under it.

“You did,” Chanjo stated.

The rest of Teen Top were slowly gathering around the couch.

“Is it- are you really...?” Niel asked.

“I knew it,” Ricky said. L.Joe glanced over and saw the look on his face and decided it was better not to look. He stared into the table instead. “Aish, hyung! You are going to mess this up for all of us,” Ricky declared. “How can you be this way?”

“So. Damned. Tacky.” Chunji stood across from the table, looking even more disgusted than Ricky had. Don't look, don't look. “You could as well have had 'U-Kiss's bitch' written on your face! Did you ever even talk to those guys before today? You're such a slut.”

“Heeey,” Niel said. “Whoa, calm down, this is L.Joe-hyung.”

Chunji shook his head. “You're asking me to calm down? He's risking everything we've built! He already got into all this trouble; I spoke to someone yesterday who said they were unsure if they'd ask us to come on a show because of the rumors!”

Theoretically, he knew that would be the consequence. The managers had talked about it too. They'd said there would probably be threats, or people using the rumors to gain negotiation advantage, but probably no actual cancellations. But the reality of it was sickening. And what if? What if they started getting overlooked? Cancelled on? L.Joe rubbed his forehead.

“You have to stop, hyung,” Ricky said, sitting down in the couch next to him.

“Today was reckless,” L.Joe admitted. “But I've never been careless before. I won't again.”

“This wasn't the first time,” Chunji realized. “You've been doing this before? Who?”

“That's none of your business,” L.Joe snapped. “You didn't notice, did you, and neither did anyone else. If you protected me instead of...”

“It's Lee Joon, isn't it,” Chunji demanded.

“None of your business,” L.Joe insisted.

“Hyung, it doesn't matter if someone notices, you can't be doing this,” Ricky repeated. “While the rumors are going around, every moment is dangerous. You have to prove yourself.”

“Prove that I'm straight?” L.Joe exclaimed. “How?!? So I'll say the rumors are all false and I'm totally straight, and no one will give a flying fuck, they'll just keep talking.”

“You lied to me,” Changjo said. “I believed it. Everyone else might too.”

L.Joe hid his face in desperation. Everyone were quiet for a moment. “I'm sorry,” he said, looking up at Chanjo, whose expression said another decision had been made; one that wasn't so favorable for L.Joe. “I wasn't supposed to talk about it, honestly. I didn't know what to say. I wanted to tell you but...”

Changjo shook his head with disappointment and left, going into his room.

“So I'll lie about being straight, and people will hate me for lying,” L.Joe concluded. “There's no winning.”

“So you don't think that not offering your ass up to every passerby is going to improve your reputation?” Chunji asked.

Ah, Kikwang had said L.Joe could be harsh, but Chunji, once pissed off, was a bitchy vicious monster. “I do not do that,” L.Joe protested.

“But, hm, laying low might be a good idea? Just until the rumors die down?” Niel asked.

He had to cut them some slack, they were worried about the future, about their careers that they loved and all the work they'd put down to get here. L.Joe loved it as much as they did, and had worked just as hard, and he wasn't going to sacrifice his own career either. He just hated living like this, lying to everyone. “Fine,” he said. “I will.”

Chunji snorted like he didn't believe it for a second.

CAP clapped his hands. “Food,” he ordered. “Whose turn is it?”

On cue, the members broke up the gathering, and started bickering about cooking.

Niel was the only one who really spoke to L.Joe for the rest of the day. Chunji ignored him, Ricky gave him murderous glances, Changjo acted cool and distant. L.Joe had wondered if things would feel better if they knew, but the icy mood that persisted for the next week gave him no hope.

 

Chapter Text

Teen Top was naturally a loud group. They often fought about little things, Niel making a fuss over this or that, Ricky deciding he was being unfairly treated, Chunji seeing challenges in everything, L.Joe and Changjo up to mischief that they shamelessly blamed on each other and everyone else. CAP made sure things didn't go completely out of hand, but otherwise let them be. His lenient style of leadership had worked fine before, but now, with so much tension, emotions ran wild. There were more fights lately, and before the New Year's performance they ended up having a giant row in their dressing room in front of staff, about other things than what it was really about. CAP divided them up, sending Niel on an errand, telling L.Joe and Ricky to wait outside in opposite corridors for their turn, forbidding the others to talk while getting ready.

L.Joe found a bench in his designated corridor and moped on it. Getting bored quickly, he played with his phone and looked around for something to photograph. A little further down the corridor another idol stood alone, with his back turned. L.Joe got up and walked over.

“Hi,” he said.

The guy turned around and gave him a surprised glance. “Hi.”

“I'm L.Joe,” L.Joe said.

“Teen Top, right? Infinite's Sungyeol.” They bowed, a little awkwardly because of their position in the corridor.

“Are you okay?” L.Joe asked, because Sungyeol looked a little sad, and a little puffy under the makeup like maybe, possibly he'd cried, if he wasn't just tired.

Sungyeol looked away down the corridor. Far away in the distance, another few guys of Infinite passed by. “Thank you, I'm fine. Well, I'm hiding,” he admitted. “I just needed a moment.”

“Me too,” L.Joe said.

Sungyeol thought about it a little. “I heard shouting,” he said then. “I've been told Teen Top are a bit rowdy, but...”

L.Joe shook his head. “It's a little rough right now, it'll be okay. We're all tired.”

“Tell me about it.” Sungyeol ran a hand through his hair. He did look tired. “I can't even imagine,” he said then. “Aren't you afraid of what's going to happen?”

What? “What?”

“Ah, you don't have to worry about me. We, I mean, I, know someone who,” Sungyeol smiled. “Sorry, I'm being a bother, nevermind.”

“You're not even going to give me a chance to deny it?” L.Joe asked.

Sungyeol licked his lips thoughtfully. “I know,” he said.

“Know how?”

“Aren't you seeing Lee Joon?”

What, why did everyone think this? “No,” L.Joe said, taking care to sound decisive. He didn't want to ruin Joon's reputation as well.

“Oh.” Sungyeol looked a little trapped. “Ah. I'm-, uh...”

“So you know someone who is?” L.Joe asked, playing dumb. “Is it one of your members?”

“No, no,” Sungyeol said, waving his hands. The cool guy attitude was cracking. “No, it's uh, it's no one, I just...”

L.Joe laughed.

“Aish,” Sungyeol sighed.

“I am worried about what's going to happen,” L.Joe admitted. “My members, they aren't handling the rumors very well. Maybe I'm not handling my members very well.”

“They'll come around,” Sungyeol said.

L.Joe wasn't so sure. As if it wasn't complicated enough, he'd messed up with Changjo, and Chunji was being such a bitch about it he didn't even know where to start with the complaints.

“So are you going to? Deny it?” Sungyeol asked.

He should. He'd promised his members, after all. But he shook his head. Damn it.

Sungyeol nodded. “So it may or may not be the case, that the person I mentioned before, is a member of Infinite. And it may or may not also be the case, that lately, I've been doing some hard thinking of my own.”

L.Joe tried to mask his surprise.

“There's someone I thought of as a very good friend, who I'm starting to think I'm favoring because I like him as more than a friend,” Sungyeol said. Then touched the back of his hand to his forehead. “I don't know why I'm telling you this, it's stupid.”

“It's nice to talk about it,” L.Joe said. “I can't really talk to my members so I understand if you can't talk to yours.”

Suddenly Sungyeol looked like he'd decided something. “Let's talk to each other,” he said, turning around and fishing out his phone. “About anything. If there's a time when you need someone to talk to, you call me, and I'll do the same.”

L.Joe smiled. “Sure.”

“And maybe you can give me some tips. How to get him interested in me.”

“Ahh, I'm not sure I'm the guy to ask about that,” L.Joe said. “If you want to get in his pants, sure, but uh.” He stopped talking because Sungyeol looked so terribly embarrassed.

Still looking embarrassed, still not facing him directly, Sungyeol held out his phone. “Number.”

L.Joe laughed and typed in his number. Sungyeol poked about and a message arrived to L.Joe, conveniently giving him Sungyeol's number. “Let's take a picture together,” L.Joe said. Sungyeol effortlessly slid in next to him, coming a little closer to fit on the screen, making a V-sign. Perfect. They looked good together, L.Joe thought briefly.

“I should get back to my members,” Sungyeol said. “Good luck with yours. Let's talk soon!”

L.Joe watched him go. A brief moment of sunshine before the clouds gathered again. He returned to his spot on the bench and moped some more.

 

A week later, it was a gray and terrible day, cold and some sort of icy rain was falling over the city that made the streets slippery with freezing slush. L.Joe was curled up in his room in comfy pants and a big black hoodie trying to keep as much heat as possible. He sent Sungyeol a message, Did you get him? And Sungyeol called him.

“How are you doing, still alive?” Sungyeol asked. “I didn't hear from you for so long.”

“I didn't hear from you either,” L.Joe countered.

“It's been rather busy.”

“Here too. Too busy to fight too much,” L.Joe said. “So, did you?”

Sungyeol laughed softly. “I'm not getting anything. I know that. It's just... it's hard.”

“You can't just give up,” L.Joe said. “Tell him.”

“I'd give the same advice to someone else, but in this case, there's really no point,” Sungyeol said. “There's someone else in his heart, it'll never be me. He thinks of me as a friend, nothing more.”

“I'm sorry,” L.Joe said, because he wasn't a romantic, he didn't think there weren't hopeless cases. “Sometimes it's better to cut your losses and move on. Heart of stone.”

“I don't think I'm that strong,” Sungyeol said slowly.

L.Joe could tell it hurt. He must really, really like this guy. He would have to, to start reconsidering his sexuality at this age. “Ah, how old are you?” He'd completely forgotten. They'd started talking so comfortably.

Sungyeol chuckled. “I'm a hyung, you brat. But don't worry about it. On this subject you could be considered the sunbae. Let's be friends, ageless friends. I'd feel strange talking to a dongsaeng about these things.”

“If you want,” L.Joe said.

“What about you? Is there someone you like?”

L.Joe hesitated.

“Ya, I've poured out my heart.”

“You haven't told me who he is,” L.Joe tried.

“And I won't. Now answer the question.”

Hm well. “There was someone. Someone I thought, well, I thought he might have been... you know, it. But he's straight. So I had to get over it.”

“You're so cute you can turn straight guys,” Sungyeol said.

L.Joe laughed at the unexpected compliment. “Don't go down that path,” he said, “it'll quickly drive you nuts. Your guy, is he...?”

“I found out rather recently that he's into guys,” Sungyeol said. “It was like... until then I hadn't even thought about it, but it was like my world turned upside down. And then I thought about why it was so important and well... That's how it went. Did you tell your guy?”

“I did better,” L.Joe said. “I blew him.” Sungyeol went dead quiet. “Ya, did you die?”

“You did what?”

“Some straight guys will let you do it, they close their eyes and imagine it's a girl. Getting off is getting off.”

“But... if you like him, wasn't it... doesn't it hurt?”

It was a long time ago now. L.Joe closed his eyes and tried to remember, and a wave of pain crashed over him. Ah, he hadn't thought about it in ages. Had pushed it all away and forgotten the despair and heart-wrenching days and nights. He leaned back against the wall and chewed on the nail of his thumb, reigning it in and packing it back down. “It did, in the beginning,” he admitted. “But I got used to it. Got over him. Now it's just favors.”

“You're still doing it?”

“Occasionally.”

“How long has it been going on?”

“Years.”

Sungyeol breathed into the phone. “I can't believe it,” he said. “I can't even imagine what it would be like.”

“It's not like anything, anymore,” L.Joe said. “He's a friend, I blow him once in a while when he asks me. It's not really different from doing any other favor for a friend.”

“I think you and I think differently about favors, and friends,” Sungyeol said. “Ah, I would go crazy. To have something like that, with someone you like, and still not be able to tell them or really... have something. If I'd do that now, I'd go absolutely crazy.” He sighed. “I already feel crazy sometimes, all jealous and... I've done some stuff I'm not proud of.”

“Haven't we all,” L.Joe said, smiling.

“So he has no idea? Still?”

“No,” L.Joe said confidently. He would know if there were even suspicions. “As far as he knows, I just like to suck cock. Which I do. And he'll never find out either. I know he's not interested in me like that, and I'd rather spare us both the awkwardness.”

“You're really tough.”

L.Joe picked at his sleeve. “That's not what they say here. Chunji calls me a slut.”

“Aw shit.” Sungyeol sounded sincerely concerned. “You really can't figure it out? I mean, you guys have been together for years. How can it be like this?”

“Infinite is okay with it?”

“It's been going very well,” Sungyeol said. “I mean, of course Dongwoo-hyung would be cool, but everyone else took it fine too, even Sunggyu-hyung. I think I was the one who was upset the most.”

Infinite, U-Kiss... were everyone okay except Teen Top? “So it's not Dongwoo-hyung,” L.Joe said, noting it mentally.

“Agh, stop that. It's not my secret to tell. He doesn't want it to be known, really.”

“Everyone in your group are very handsome,” L.Joe said. “If you let me know who it is, I'll blow him. Wouldn't he like that?”

“Okay, I see why Chunji said what he said,” Sungyeol joked.

“If you don't tell me who your guy is, I might end up blowing him,” L.Joe said. “It's not a threat, it's just that I'm a slut.”

“Stop it, stop it,” Sungyeol laughed. “You won't, he wouldn't, like I said he has someone in his heart. And you're not a slut for doing favors for one guy.”

“It may or may not have been more than one guy, lately,” L.Joe admitted, borrowing Sungyeol's own vague wording.

“No way! Who?”

“That really isn't my secret to tell,” L.Joe said.

“Oh god, I'll die of curiosity. But okay, I get it. A slut, but a trustworthy one.”

“Ya, stop saying slut!”

“Who are you talking to?”

L.Joe froze. In his ear, Sungyeol said “Who was that?” as he turned his head and saw Chunji in the doorway.

“I have to go,” L.Joe said.

“Wait, wait, don't hang up,” Sungyeol said.

At the same time, Chunji closed the distance between them. “Who are you talking to?” he demanded and tried to take the phone. In the struggle, it fell to the floor.

“You crazy...!” L.Joe protested, trying to get to the phone before Chunji. “You're breaking it!”

Ricky and Niel showed up, shadowed by Changjo who never came into the room. Niel came between them. “Eeey,” he said, “what are we fighting about?”

L.Joe got out of the bed. “I'm talking to a friend.”

“A friend who's cock you've had down your throat!” Chunji declared.

“Ya!”

“I thought you agreed to lay low,” Ricky said.

“I am,” L.Joe assured him.

“You're talking to someone on the phone about how many guys you've fucked!” Chunji shouted. “That's not laying low!”

“What's wrong with you! That's not what we did!”

“I heard you!”

“You don't know anything!” L.Joe snapped, shouting back. “Everyone's talking behind my back, and I'm just supposed to smile and lie and take it, and pretend to be someone else than myself? I can't even talk to my members, because they hate who I am!”

“We don't hate you,” Niel protested.

“I hate you!” Chunji shouted. “You're risking everything because you can't be yourself? Boo hoo, we all have images to worry about!”

The emotions from before were too fresh. It was as if he'd locked away all his feelings along with the heartache he'd put away years ago. Now that he'd taken it out and looked at it again, it all came back, everything he hadn't felt. “Fuck you,” he said and walked out into the living room, pushing past Ricky.

“This isn't working,” Ricky said. Behind him, inside the room, L.Joe could hear Niel trying to calm Chunji down.

“Obviously,” L.Joe said. His voice sounded strange; shaky. He swallowed, trying to lock it all back in. Getting upset would only make the fight worse.

“Can't you just hold out until the rumors die down?”

“They've been at it for six months,” L.Joe said. “It'll go on forever.”

“Because hyung is feeding them new stuff,” Ricky posited. Niel and Chunji joined them in the living room; Changjo watched from inside his room.

“I'm not feeding them anything! Nothing of it has actually happened; none of the actual stuff has ever leaked. Someone's fucking making this shit up. You're my members, you could back me up!”

Niel looked conflicted, Ricky and Chunji outright hostile.

“Hyung?” L.Joe tried, turning to CAP who had silently overlooked the whole thing from the kitchen doorway.

CAP lowered his eyes and turned and disappeared into the kitchen. There was some noise from opening the fridge and fussing about.

“Way to be a leader!” L.Joe shouted, disappointed, betrayed, regretting it the moment he said it. There were a few things you just never did. Like question his leadership.

CAP came back. L.Joe backed up so he had the front door behind him instinctively, feeling like he'd get trapped otherwise. CAP walked up and grabbed his sweater. Normally one of the members would have stepped in now to soften the confrontation, usually Niel, but no one came.

“I told you to keep this shit away from the members,” CAP said, glaring at him. “You failed. This is your mess. And you'd better not let it touch Teen Top.”

Fuck this, it wasn't just his mess, if his members had helped out and backed him up it might have gone better, they might have figured something out together. “Or what,” L.Joe said, pushing back tears by getting angry instead. He tried to pry himself loose. “You'll beat me up?”

CAP's face twisted for a second, and L.Joe reacted instinctively, expecting to be hit. He was used to fighting guys bigger and stronger than himself, it was all initiative, all confidence, all about showing that even if they could beat you, it would cost them dearly, hopefully too much. He stepped on CAP's foot and shoved his face away, disrupting his balance and denying him the ability to adjust by trapping his foot. CAP swiveled. L.Joe dug his fingernails into his wrist and CAP cried out with surprised pain and let go of him, stumbling backwards.

“Hyung!” Chunji called out and ran up to help him stay on his feet.

CAP was about to punch him – punch him – and Chunji came to save CAP? L.Joe wasn't even aware he was moving before the door slammed shut behind him. At least he was wearing shoes. But he was in a sweater, in the ice cold slush, and there was no way he was going back inside. He wasn't giving up on Teen Top, but he couldn't deal with this right now.

Chanjo's face flashed by his eyes, as he'd been watching the drama through the door to his room, expressionless yet somehow accusing him. L.Joe cried for a moment, before wiping away the tears and moving. No one came out of the dorm to call him back. They were probably glad he was gone. He wandered down the street, found a bus stop and stood under the roof for shelter while he thought. When the bus came along he had a vague idea that it might pass by in the vicinity of where Joon had said MBLAQ's dorm was, so he got on it. At least it was warm and dry. Maybe he should have stayed on the bus indefinitely but he got off and walked around looking for the dorm. It didn't take longer than half a minute before he was shaking badly, hugging his arms around himself. The cold cleared out any thoughts and feelings, as his body focused on surivival.

This had to be the door. L.Joe felt like he was going to pass out from the cold, his legs were numb, his neck seemed locked in position, he was shaking like a leaf in wind. It didn't even matter if it wasn't the right door, he had to get inside or die. But it was MBLAQ. He was let in, Joon met him and sent him into the shower and found him some dry clothes.

The hot water thawed him out of his frozen state, and got his thoughts spinning again. He pushed them away. He couldn't have a breakdown in MBLAQ's dorm, just being here was pushing it pretty far. The clothes were too large, but that was expected. He got out of the shower and Joon and his members were sitting in the couch waiting for him. They had food ready, had been eating when he came, and shared freely with him. He started to feel like a human rather than a snowman.

“Do you want to talk to Joonie in private?” G.O. asked.

L.Joe wasn't sure he wanted to talk to anyone at all.

“These guys understand,” Joon said. “Trust me, they won't be weird about it, they don't mind.”

“We had a fight,” L.Joe said. “We've been fighting a lot lately. The others, they... They're nervous about what is going to happen, they worry we'll get too much trouble. They want me to put a stop to the rumors before they destroy us, they don't understand...” He shifted, getting comfortable, one foot up on the couch. “It's no use to make a fuss and deny it and lie to everyone; no one will believe it anyway, and then I'm a liar too.”

Thunder, who was next to him in the couch, patted his back in a brotherly way.

“Hm it could work out for you,” G.O. mused. “If it was someone like... someone who'd talked a lot on shows about girlfriends, maybe even lied together some dating episodes, it means people have expectations, and like you say, he'd already be a liar. Or someone like...” he waved his hand looking for a name.

“Kikwang?” Joon suggested. L.Joe nearly choked, hearing the name, but managed to cover it up.

“Hm maybe yes, or I was thinking of someone with that kind of manly feel, Siwon? Their fans would have become fans for that kind of reason. It means a lot of broken trust,” G.O. said. “But you don't really have that kind of image. Didn't you even have videos where you rap to other members suggestively rather than girls? Your fans might be more understanding.”

One could always hope. L.Joe hadn't really thought about his image from this perspective before, it was a good point, something to think about. “The others say the industry isn't ready for it,” he said.

“It maybe isn't, but win over the fans, and you've won most of the battle,” G.O. said. “If you're popular, you bring in money, and as long as you bring in money, you're golden.” He did a thumbs up.

“You're so calm about it.” L.Joe looked at each of them, amazed.

“Your members aren't?” Thunder asked.

What would be okay to say? “I always thought Niel would be the one to freak out,” L.Joe started, thinking as he spoke. “But he's okay. CAP pretends like nothing and refuses to deal with it. Chunji and Ricky don't approve. Changjo is really, really... weirded out.” He decided to leave out the part where that was most likely his own fault. He wasn't really ready to deal with that yet.

“Give them some time,” Thunder said. “It's strange now, because they have prejudices or can't imagine you like that, but once they remember it's still the same you it'll get easier.”

“I don't know,” L.Joe said, wrapping his arms around his leg. “Today, I had to get out, I felt like...” He picked at the hem of the pants. “I thought we were about to start fighting for real. Like, punching. Niel maybe is okay with it, but he's not going to back me up against the others.” Although thinking about it now, here in safety, he wasn't so sure anymore that CAP was actually going to hit him. CAP might just have reacted badly to what he'd said. He couldn't find any motion or fisted hands in his memory, but it was fuzzy; everything had happened so fast and he'd been upset.

“We'll back you up,” Joon said.

“I can't believe they'd let it get to this,” G.O. said, scowling. “A group is a team, you can disagree but in the end you have to stick together or everyone gets destroyed. Like how I put up with this fool,” he patted Joon's thigh, “even though he's an idiot. There were times when I thought, this fool will get found out, but somehow he made it. Either way we'd back him up.”

That sounded almost like...? L.Joe glanced up.

“Agh, well, that is- he means,” Joon started, then stopped and looked uncomfortable. Caught out, like a child stealing candy.

L.Joe pushed his bangs out of his eyes and said carefully, “Hyung, are you...?”

“Ah,” G.O. said, realizing he might have made a mistake. “That is, even if...” he stopped.

“This whole time...?” L.Joe asked. “You let me go on about this, and you... you didn't feel like telling me?”

“Ah, no, not like that, it's just, this was your problem, we were talking about you,” Joon said.

MBLAQ too. Not just U-Kiss and Infinite, but MBLAQ too were okay. Did B2ST know about Kikwang? Had Kikwang gone back to his dorm and told everyone about this guy, and they'd all smile and teased him about it? Did everyone have their members backing them up, and only L.Joe was out in the cold, literally. What the hell had he done to deserve this? And Joon had taken his confession and comforted him and never thought he was trustworthy enough to tell him.

It felt like the whole world was leaving him out in the cold.

He blanked out. Got up, stepped into his shoes and grabbed his hoodie in passing. Someone called for him, but he slipped out the door and started down the street and then he was crying. Crying floods while the freezing rain soaked him through and through again. His shoes slid and slipped in the slush and he couldn't see anything.

Someone grabbed his arm. Joon turned him around. “Wait,” he said. “I'm a coward! I kept thinking you were so brave, but I was too afraid to tell you. I've been afraid to tell anyone my whole life. I was so afraid someone would find out when... when I dated. I wasn't willing to take the risks of dating, even though it was someone I really liked. So I'm a coward, really really, that's why I didn't tell you.”

L.Joe couldn't really hear what he said. The rain hitting the asphalt was so noisy, and his head was full of only one thing. Someone had come out for him. Joon hadn't just let him walk away, like Teen Top had, he'd rushed after him. Joon cared enough to come out in the stinging cold and wet. Someone cared. He hid his face in his elbow and kept crying. Joon pulled him in and let him cry against his chest.

“Come back inside, you'll get a cold.”

“I don't know why I ran off,” L.Joe said, recovering. “I can't go back in now.”

“They'll understand,” Joon said.

“So embarrassing.” He'd totally had a breakdown anyway. And made Joon get out in the cold for no reason. “It's just been a tough day.”

“We all know that some days are like that,” Joon said, starting to lead him back.

They jogged back to the dorm. L.Joe got another shower and another set of clothes. He was really being a bother to MBLAQ today.

“Just so we're clear,” G.O. asked, “you two aren't together right?”

Joon elbowed him.

“It's a fair question,” G.O. protested.

“We're not,” L.Joe confirmed. Did he sound a little too dismissive? Joon was a handsome hyung, and L.Joe wouldn't have turned him down, but he was a much too valuable friend at this point to even consider. Joon didn't seem to take offense though.

He was sitting on Seungho's bed, feeling a little dazed from the events of the day, when Thunder came in and sat next to him.

“I'm going to get sick,” L.Joe realized. He'd hold his team back even more. “They'll kick me out of Teen Top.” He was only half joking. They should. They should cut their losses and move on. They didn't need two rappers, a lot of groups made it just fine on one.

“When Joon-hyung came out to us,” Thunder said, “I thought, this can't be. This hyung is so stupid, he thinks he's into someone for no reason, and he's going to risk scandal just for that. He's going to bring us all down because he can't keep it in his pants.”

“Ya!” Joon called from another room.

“Then, I thought of all the things they say about homosexuals, and the things I've seen on TV. This can't be Lee Joon, I thought. Then I thought, maybe he's like that. Maybe he's been lying and pretending about everything. Everything was a mess.” Thunder tapped his finger on the mattress and looked up at the ceiling. “Then hyung brought... um, someone, here, and I saw them together. Suddenly everything came into place. This was Joonie-hyung who I know and love, and next to him was a person that made him smile in a way I'd never seen before. Girl or guy, what did it matter when they were so happy? And they were just like people. Forget TV or what people said. Just two guys dating. After that, it's been fine.”

“I messed stuff up so bad,” L.Joe admitted. “I should have just told them the truth right away, but I made excuses and... I outright lied to the maknae, he'll never forgive me.”

“He will when he realizes how scary this was for you,” Thunder said. “Look, I'm not usually someone who... I hadn't thought about any of this stuff, when the hyungs started talking about it I was totally unprepared. Once your members have gotten used to the idea and seen that it's just you, just a guy, their brother as usual, it'll get easier for them.”

“Is it, though,” L.Joe thought aloud. “I've kept stuff from them all the time. Joon-hyung brought back a boyfriend. I'm a slut who puts the team at risk.”

“Joonie-hyung can't keep a secret to save his life,” Thunder said. “Speaking of putting at risk. Somehow he managed, much thanks to someone other than him, but believe me, I was sure shit was going to hit the fan.”

L.Joe chuckled. “He is kind of bad at lying isn't he.”

“YA!” came from the other room.

Thunder smiled. “Don't worry about them throwing fits or trying to blame you for everything. If you just stay calm and hold your ground, they'll get over it. No more secrets, try to involve them instead. It may seem crazy and they may seem like they don't want to be involved, but it'll make you get closer. If your brother started doing something you thought was dangerous, wouldn't you want to get involved to see what it was?”

Was this the problem? That L.Joe had tried to handle it all on his own?

“If you think they don't know you, you have to let them know you,” Thunder said. “It might not work out, sure, and it'll hurt worse if they really won't accept you, but if you don't, you'll never know.”

L.Joe closed his eyes and leaned forward. “Ah, what do I do.”

“Think about it,” Thunder said. “For now, better sleep a lot so you don't get sick. If Joonie-hyung had gotten sick and delayed all our schedule, I don't know if I'd forgiven him.”

“I did get sick!” Joon called.

“Ah that's right. I'll never forgive you!”

L.Joe laughed at them. Thunder patted his leg and got up. “Sleep well.”

“Thank you,” L.Joe said.

“Anytime,” Thunder assured him and left, closing the door behind him.

 

At breakfast, L.Joe was reasonably sure CAP had never intended to hit him. L.Joe had been unstable and overreacted. Chunji might have done something in the heat of the moment, but CAP didn't just punch people. So he figured he'd call Niel and tell him he hadn't frozen to death on the street, but realized he didn't have his phone. He'd left it on the floor when he'd fought Chunji over it. Which meant he had to take the bus back.

“I can drive you,” Joon offered. “It won't take long.”

L.Joe didn't want to burden them any more, but taking the bus and risking being seen was another weapon in Chunji's hands.

“Chunji thinks I'm, uh, that we've hooked up,” he warned Joon in the car.

“Eh,” Joon said. “People for some reason think this about me all the time. That I'm easy.”

“I think it's more a matter of me being a slut,” L.Joe said.

Joon laughed. “You pick up a lot of guys?” he teased.

“I just...” he couldn't bring himself to be as crude as he'd been with Sungyeol. “I've had... um, actually, ever since the rumors started I've had guys coming on to me. Seems there were a lot of them hiding.”

“What, really? Guys, you mean staff? Or other idols?”

L.Joe nodded. “Idols.”

“Wow.” Joon laughed. “So the rumors worked as a sort of dating ad?”

“More like a sign on my head that says free blowjobs, it seems,” L.Joe smiled.

“Wow. A lot of them? Wow. I won't ask who but... who?” It seemed like a joke however because Joon immediately started talking about something else. They chatted like friends do, about work and family, until L.Joe was back at the dorm.

“You're gonna be okay?” Joon asked.

“Thunder-hyung gave me some advice,” L.Joe said. “I think I'll be okay. There won't be any punching, I swear.”

“Good. If you come back with a black eye, you can join MBLAQ and we'll kick Teen Top's butts all the way to America.”

L.Joe waved him off.

Alone again.

He took a deep breath and opened the dorm door.

Changjo froze in place on his way between his room and the bathroom. “Hyungs!” he called out. Within seconds, while L.Joe took his shoes off, a few heads had popped in.

“The lost lamb returns,” Niel said. “Where did you go?”

“Where the hell did you go?” Chunji demanded, like he had some sort of cardinal right to know.

“Ah, hyung, we're sorry,” Ricky said.

“Sorry? He attacked CAP,” Changjo said.

“Nobody attacked me,” CAP said, strolling in, looking half asleep. “Good to see you, L.Joe. Don't fight, kids.” He continued into the bathroom.

“Ah, hyung, I was going to...!” Changjo got the door shut in his face. And locked. Nobody locked doors. It seemed CAP was intentionally shutting them out, or shutting them in with each other. Changjo immediately turned and disappeared into a room.

Stubborn bastard.

“I'm sorry too,” L.Joe said. “I won't run out again. We're Teen Top and I'm going to fight for that with everything I have. I always will.”

“I for one didn't particularly like yesterday,” Niel said. “I haven't liked the last month. I mean I like fighting, but not fighting. I think we should work together.”

“Easy for you to say,” Chunji said.

“It's no harder or easier for me,” Niel protested. “What's that supposed to mean?”

“I kissed him!” Ricky exclaimed. Referring to some fanservice event.

Suddenly L.Joe was laughing. Then Niel, then Ricky, and through some miracle, Chunji started cracking up. They were all laughing like crazy people when Changjo returned. L.Joe twitched backwards when he walked up to him decisively, but Changjo continued unfazed and held something out for him.

A phone. L.Joe accepted it with hesitation, because he didn't recognize it. No, it was his, he knew that scratch on the screen.

“Hyung, if you're going somewhere, bring your phone,” Changjo said.

Their eyes met. L.Joe felt himself tear up.

Embarrassed, Changjo left again.

“What...?” L.Joe asked.

Chunji suddenly left too.

“Chunji-hyung got you a new case because the other one broke when you fought,” Niel said. He skipped over to L.Joe and leaned in and whispered in a conspiratory tone, “I think he likes you.”

L.Joe's stomach turned. Was it going to be like this now? “But I like you,” he said, pinching Niel's cheek, smiling to mask any escaping emotion.

“Aish!”

Ricky looked conflicted, hovering around the kitchen doorway.

“Just so we're clear, it doesn't mean I like all guys,” L.Joe said.

“But we're so adorable,” Niel protested, skipping over to Ricky. “If you had to pick one of us, who would it be.”

L.Joe rubbed his face and groaned. “Why are you like this?”

“One of us,” Niel insisted.

“No.”

“Out of all of us, I mean, not just me and him. First instinct. Just say a name.”

First instinct? That was easy, wasn't it? “Changjo,” he said. “He's cute.”

“I'm cute,” Ricky said.

“Aww he wanted to be picked,” Niel teased.

“No, no,” Ricky protested quickly.

CAP came out of the bathroom, towel wrapped around his waist, and walked up to L.Joe. Kept walking, all the way into L.Joe's personal space. L.Joe backed up, starting to laugh. “Changjo?” CAP asked with a deadly serious face.

“He's younger than me, he has to do what is say!” L.Joe laughed, wanting to push him away but also not wanting to touch him.

“Hm,” CAP said, accepting the explanation and moving on to his room.

Changjo stuck his head in. “Who has to do what you say?”

“No one, no one,” L.Joe smiled defensively.

“That's what I thought,” Changjo said and disappeared again.

 

Later the same day when their schedule was done and everyone gathered at the dorm, tired and sleepy, Niel bounced in next to L.Joe brushing his teeth. “We should talk about things,” he said.

“Go ahead,” L.Joe said.

“No, I mean, Teen Top. We should discuss some things, now that everyone have stopped shouting. What to say on interviews and stuff, wouldn't it be good?”

It probably would. Thunder had said so too; to try to organize things, talk about it, make rules. L.Joe nodded. He didn't exactly look forward to it, but it might help. They gathered in the living room, in various states of being ready for sleep.

“We're already not talking about the rumors,” CAP said. “Let's keep it that way.”

“So don't lie if you can help it, just try to distract or say something pointless or get too embarrassed to talk,” Niel filled out.

“And you shouldn't see other idols,” Ricky said.

“Isn't it better with other idols than random people?” Niel asked.

“He can keep it in his pants same as everyone else!” Chunji muttered. L.Joe gave him a pointed glare and he turned away on the couch.

“If we had the opportunity, would we keep in in our pants?” CAP challenged.

“No,” Niel said immediately.

“No,” Changjo said with a little smirk.

“I guess not,” Ricky admitted. “But! But he can't be reckless!”

“I won't,” L.Joe promised. He just wished they could all stop talking about his sex life.

“And like Niel said, it's better to keep it inside the idol community,” CAP said. “They have as much to lose as we do. And try to stick with the more established guys. Who knows what the newly debuted ones might get up to.”

“Are we giving him permission to whore himself out?” Chunji asked.

“Whoa,” Niel said.

L.Joe got up. “Come,” he said, poking Chunji's shoulder and waving at him to come away with him. Chunji looked very unwilling, but got up.

“What, what?” Niel asked, ever curious.

L.Joe led the way into his and Chunji's room and shut the door. Chunji turned his back, breathed and fidgeted, sat down on the bed and leaned his forehead against his hands.

“Thunder-hyung said, if I wanted to fix this, there could be no more secrets,” L.Joe said.

“You're going to catch something,” Chunji said. “And then you're going to give it to me.”

L.Joe shook his head and sat down with him. “I'm not.”

“You can't possibly...”

“I'm not, because we're not doing it again. I'm not doing it again. I-” No secrets, on one hand, but on the other, Chunji was a nice person, beneath the bitchy attitude. Knowing what he'd put L.Joe through would only cause him pain. “I don't want to. It's too risky, it might unbalance the team now that they know.”

Chunji looked up at him, looking pained.

“You'll have to get off on your own. Or find a girl.”

“You know it's,” Chunji said, putting a hand on his leg.

L.Joe coldly pushed it away. “What I know is that you're straight, and this was a convenient thing for both of us, but it's not anymore.”

“You're my brother and I love you,” Chunji said.

He couldn't say 'I love you too' it hurt too much. “I know,” he said. “But you can't keep acting bitchy and jealous. I don't even know why you're jealous.”

“Because for a while, you were just mine,” Chunji said, smiling bleakly. “And this was just our secret, no one else in the world knew. It's so strange to think of you being with someone else. But I get it. I'm not doing anything for you, you should... you should be with your own.”

“Am I a dog being released into the wild?”

Chunji laughed. “I guess in a way you are.”

L.Joe punched his shoulder.

“Oh god how are we telling the others? Okay. Okay.” Chunji got up. “Let's do this.”

He was brave, L.Joe thought. This couldn't be easy. It wasn't easy for L.Joe either; he expected the group to be upset with them for keeping secrets like that. They returned to the living room, where Niel and Ricky were whispering together, stopping and sitting up straight when they came out the door.

“What...?” Niel started.

CAP kicked him. “Also, if you're up to something, let one of us know so we can cover for you if shit goes wrong,” he said.

L.Joe smiled. Hearing a thing like that warmed him inside. “I will.”

“And don't leave your phone behind again,” Changjo scolded him.

“I won't.” Although that technically wasn't his fault, he thought.

“And don't mess around with any of us.” CAP's eyes swept across them all. “However tempting it might be, okay?”

“I'm straight!” Ricky protested as if someone had pointed him out.

“No screwing around,” Niel agreed. “And no kissing!” he pointed at L.Joe, who made a kissy face and laughed when Niel scowled.

Chunji took a breath. “Actually...”

No secrets. But it was in the past now. No secret anymore. “Why would I,” L.Joe interrupted him. “I don't like any of you.” It could be their secret together. A last memento. “Possibly Changjo.”

“Switch room with me,” Chunji said immediately, tapping Changjo's shoulder.

Changjo looked startled. “What?”

“Switch room with me. Let the lovebirds sleep together.”

Ricky and Niel groaned, L.Joe laughed, CAP smirked, amused. Everyone relieved that bitchy Chunji was gone. Except possibly Changjo. “I have to?”

“Ya,” L.Joe said, “Am I so terrible to room with?”

“I have to move all my stuff,” Changjo said.

“On the other hand, you don't have to room with CAP-hyung,” Niel suggested, then ducked when CAP leaned over to hit him over the head.

Changjo made a face like that was a good point, then shrugged. “Alright,” he said.

That night, Changjo soundly asleep in the other bed, L.Joe typed a message to Sungyeol.

I think everything has worked out with my members. How are you doing?

Sungyeol answered with a single emoticon of a heart breaking. It was too late to call him.

Today I quit on that particular friend I told you about, L.Joe wrote. My [heart breaking] too. But you were right. It wasn't good.

You're such a tough guy, Sungyeol answered.

You'll be fine, let it take time, L.Joe wrote. I received good advice the other day. No secrets.

A laughing smiley and, Infinite would implode without secrets. We feed on them like vampires. There are so many, and then I must not know some.

Wow, and you're still sticking together? L.Joe wrote. It seemed Thunder's advice wasn't foolproof.

So far.

 

Some weeks later Sungyeol called him in the evening. “Do you have time?” Sungyeol asked. “I need to talk to someone.”

“Sure.”

“Could we meet up?”

They agreed on a time and place.

“L.Joe's going on a date!” Niel declared to the dorm when L.Joe got his shoes on.

“I'm not, I'm not,” L.Joe told CAP and Chunji who stuck their heads out. “I'm just seeing a friend.”

“Is this the phone friend?” Chunji asked.

“It is.”

“Be careful,” CAP said, not interested anymore.

“You've promised us he's a friend now,” Chunji said. “Don't you dare do anything with him!”

L.Joe laughed.

“Proof!” Niel yelled and bounced forward.

“Proof?” L.Joe echoed, fearing what he'd come up with.

“Let me check your underwear!”

L.Joe fended him off while backing away, and grabbed a jacket on the way, laughing.

“There'll be a full hickey-inspection upon your return!” Niel called after him. L.Joe heard the other guys hush him.

Twenty minutes later he slid into a noraebang room, and sat down next to Sungyeol.

“Everything alright?” he asked.

Sungyeol looked up under his bangs, tired, defeated. Ashamed. He looked down again. “Have you eaten?” he asked, going on habit.

“Yeah,” L.Joe said, getting worried. “Do you want anything?”

“A new life?” Sungyeol sighed and rubbed his face, in a way idols rarely did because they were used to being careful with makeup. “Agh! I shouldn't be like this. I'm such a fortunate person.”

“What's happened?” L.Joe asked.

“I did something,” Sungyeol said, glancing over at L.Joe. “Please don't judge me, but I did something... something terrible. I don't know why. It was the dumbest thing.”

L.Joe tried to look comforting. “We agreed to be on each other's side, right? So you can tell me anything.”

“You know Lee Joon, right?”

L.Joe nodded.

“You know he dated our L?”

“Joon told me recently,” L.Joe said.

“You've seen the video, that was leaked recently? With them.”

Everyone had. “It must be a misunderstanding.”

“I don't know,” Sungyeol said. “While they were dating, L would have these bruises, sometimes other things, scratch marks...” He looked down. “I don't know. I was friends with Joon, I don't think he's that kind of person, but still, every time I saw those things, I just...” He pressed his wrists against his eyes and dug his fingers into his hair.

Was he crying? He sniveled a little. Yeah, definitely crying.

“You never really know someone,” L.Joe admitted. But imagining Lee Joon being abusive was... very hard. He was such a dorky guy. “What about from the other direction? You know L well don't you, would he put up with something like that?”

Sungyeol gathered himself somewhat. “I would never have thought so,” he said. “But he gets defensive and irritable whenever I ask. Like he's protecting Joon.”

Hm. “What kind of bruises?”

“Wrists, arms,” Sungyeol said. “Why?”

“Never the face? Torso?”

“No I don't think so. He had scratches on his chest once.”

“Hyung, doesn't it sound more like the kind of things people get from rough sex?”

Sungyeol's eyes went this way and that as he thought. “I don't know,” he said.

“I don't bruise very easily,” L.Joe said, “or I might have come back with those, I think, even from just blowing a guy. L might not want to talk about it because it's embarrassing to like something like that, isn't it.”

Sungyeol looked at him for a long time, maybe not quite seeing him, before suddenly ducking down and running his hands through his hair. “Oh god,” he said. “Oh god, you're right. Of course you're right. L would never put up with someone hurting him, against his will. They're, it's on purpose. It's probably even L who asks for it, it makes more sense that way, Joon-hyung just isn't that kind of guy.”

L.Joe agreed. As little as he knew about L, it did make more sense. Although you never knew how people turned out to be in bed. “So, I may be catching on slow, but... this guy you said you like, who had someone else in his heart... it's him, isn't it? It's L.”

Sungyeol sniffed and covered his mouth before answering, “Yes.” He closed his eyes. “All this time I thought Joon wasn't good for him, wasn't taking care of him, might even be... it's not true. It's just what I wanted to think.”

L.Joe patted his back a little, unsure if Sungyeol wanted it.

“I broke them up,” Sungyeol said.

“I'm sure that they...”

“No. I'm serious. I knew they'd had a fight, they fought all the time, so I told L I could find out how Joon really felt, and I called him out and got him drunk and made him say some stupid things and brought it back to L. I even lied some things together to add to it. L was torn up. I played the best friend and told him to end it, for Joon's sake, because clearly L was being a bother to him.”

L.Joe's hand hovered in the air above Sungyeol's back. That was one hell of a confession. “Wow,” L.Joe said for lack of better things.

Sungyeol laughed bitterly. “I leaked the video.”

L.Joe leaned back in his seat, getting more distance between them.

“Joon and L were on Running Man together, and L was so upset when he came back, but refused to talk about it. I thought Joon must have done something to him. Suddenly that was all there was in my head. Protecting L, taking revenge. So I leaked the video.”

“You are one conniving bitch,” L.Joe said. “Chunji-hyung has nothing on you.”

“I knew it was wrong, the moment it was done. But the other stuff, breaking them up, I thought I was protecting him, but it was me, I made him cry, not Lee Joon.” Sungyeol stood up and paced the tiny room. “I broke his heart. And now, this isn't going to make him any happier, ruining Joon's life is just going to make him cry again.”

Sungyeol was stuck on the self-pity of the discovery. “So what are you going to do?” L.Joe asked, because that was the only way forward.

“I don't know,” Sungyeol said.

“No secrets,” L.Joe said.

Sungyeol shook his head. “L will kill me. The other hyungs will kill me. There's no point in telling it now, is there. It's too late.”

“It's never too late. And not everyone needs to know, necessarily. But you have to tell L.”

“I can't! He'll ask why I did it, and it's not something a friend does is it? He'll know.”

“What if it's the only way to fix it, letting him know?”

“Aaaah, fuck,” Sungyeol whined and sat down again. “I can't do this to Joon-hyung. I have to, don't I. I have to tell L the truth. Maybe they can patch things up or... agh.”

“I'm sorry,” L.Joe said. “Liking someone who doesn't like you back is terrible.”

“You know what it's like,” Sungyeol said. “Ah, now you know everything about me, and I don't know anything about you.”

“My guy, you mean? It's one of my members too.”

“What, so when the rumors started making trouble for you, he didn't back you up?”

“He was at the head of the lynch mob,” L.Joe admitted.

“Ouch.”

“I didn't quite expect that, but I knew he wouldn't back me up,” L.Joe said calmly. “He never quite got it, was always a bit uncomfortable with it.”

“But he still wanted you to... get him off?”

“A blowjob is a blowjob,” L.Joe said, shugging. “I guess it meant I never had any illusions or false expectations.”

“Still shitty, if you ask me.”

“Yeah, you're a beacon of moral behavior,” L.Joe said.

Sungyeol laughed.

“Someone will come along,” L.Joe said. “Someone who takes your mind off L. If you're lucky, it's a girl and things get considerably much easier.”

“I don't know about that,” Sungyeol said. “Talk to a girl and everyone's all over your business. But they don't expect a guy. Joon-hyung and L dated for months and no one ever caught on, they just saw two guys being friends.”

L.Joe had never thought about it that way. If someone had seen him slipping into the dressing room of a girl group, that would have been prime news, but hanging out with U-Kiss? Not much fuss.

“But I wouldn't know what to do anyway,” Sungyeol continued. “I'm such an innocent person I didn't even realize what was going on between Joon-hyung and L, didn't you notice?”

“Very innocent,” L.Joe said dryly.

Sungyeol edged closer. “Want to get off?”

“Ew.” L.Joe edged away in the other direction.

“Aw come on. I can practice on you.”

“Ew,” he repeated and held Sungyeol away at arm's length. Sungyeol looked slightly hurt. “We're friends! I'm the person you can always talk to, and vice versa. If we do things, it'll mess everything up.”

“So if we weren't...?”

Why did everyone want to know if he would get it on with them? “If we weren't, you'd not be wearing your pants right now. Is that good enough? Can we move on?”

Sungyeol nodded.

They got drinks, sang some songs in stupid ways, talked more about everything and nothing. Being with Sungyeol was nice. No expectations, no judgment, just two guys hanging out, and if he got tired of it, he could just leave. His members were good people, but sometimes he felt trapped with them.

When they parted, Sungyeol hugged him and said, “Thank you, I'd never have made sense of any of this without you.”

“If L freaks out, you know you can call me,” L.Joe said.

“I'll tell him tomorrow,” Sungyeol said. “If you don't hear from me before tomorrow night, assume I'm dead. L has a streak of serial killer in him, I swear.”

L.Joe laughed and hugged him tighter. “You'll do okay. Good luck.”

Sungyeol sighed. “I'm going to die, really, really.”

 

Sungyeol did as he said and told Infinite the truth. The way he told it later, he got yelled at by the other members but there was also some sympathy and some pity for his situation. That's what freaked him out, he said, the first evening. That L had been upset at first, but then silent and understanding, and he thought he'd wake up from a knife in his stomach. The next time L.Joe spoke to him, he cried and said L treated him like a stranger. L had taken responsibility and told the medias that he was the one who leaked the video with Joon.

“I would have done it, if I'd thought about it,” Sungyeol said, crying quietly. “Now I sat there like an idiot and let him do it, what could I do when he'd already started talking? The managers took him away and yelled at him alone, so I couldn't defend him, they wouldn't listen when I said it was me, they thought I was protecting him.”

“At least Joon-hyung might get his name cleared,” L.Joe said. “I, too, am sitting here like an idiot not saying anything because the managers still tell me not to talk about it.”

“I'll be sorry to him forever, no matter what I do,” Sungyeol said.

“What would you do if he got back together with L?”

“I wish I could fix them myself,” Sungyeol said bravely. “Anything is better than now. Before, when L was sad, I told myself I'd helped him and he'd get over it, and now I know I just got him hurt for no reason. What if Joon was the one for him?” He sighed deeply into the phone. “Can I get them back together? After all this, what could I do. Joon-hyung surely won't speak to me.”

“There's no harm in trying,” L.Joe said.

“I feel sorry to you too, having to listen to me,” Sungyeol said.

L.Joe laughed. “One day you'll have to listen to me like this too.”

“Then you must talk all you like and not be worried about burdening me.”

“I'll hold you to that,” L.Joe said.

 

Chapter Text

Teen Top were showing at a stage together with several other groups which would require them to stay two nights, to make sure their timings were okay and there was enough time for rehersals, and they wanted some members from different groups to get together and do some transitions between songs. Niel and Ricky were chosen to do the transition from their own performance to the DBSK sunbaes, and Changjo asked to do the transition before from VIXX and requested L.Joe to accompany him. L.Joe figured it could be fun. The day they arrived on location, Changjo had already been in contact with the VIXX maknae spawning ideas, so they wanted to meet up immediately. L.Joe tagged along wondering if Hyuk was doing it alone, or if more members of VIXX would be there.

They got a tiny practice room to themselves. Hyuk and Ken were already there, sitting on the floor going through parts of their performance. They got greetings and introductions over with quickly, and sat down in a little square.

“Cool or funny,” Ken started.

Changjo said “cool” at the same time as Hyuk said “funny”. The maknaes launched into a discussion about it, about images and what songs they were ending and beginning with, and occasionally plain personal attacks, although they seemed to have fun. Apparently they'd become friends while L.Joe wasn't paying attention.

“What about cute?” L.Joe suggested, since they were getting nowhere.

Changjo looked sceptic.

“Oh! Cute! That's much better,” Hyuk decided.

Ken helplessly watched the three of them.

“Fine,” Changjo said. “Cute it is.”

“Does anyone know how to do cute?” L.Joe asked.

“Hyung, you must know,” Hyuk said, looking at him incredulously.

“L.Joe hyung only does cool,” Changjo said with a straight face.

L.Joe laughed.

“Oooh, then let's do cool,” Hyuk said, switching sides in an instant.

“Cool it is,” Ken said. “So,” he said, looking between the three of them, “how do I do cool?”

They laughed together. Changjo and Hyuk started piecing together a choreography while Ken suggested him and L.Joe sang and rapped a short piece and let the kids dance. L.Joe wasn't sure he understood what Ken meant.

“Don't you have that song, you know,” Ken asked Hyuk, gesturing.

Eventually Hyuk found the song on his phone and offered L.Joe an earbud. They listened for a little while, heads together. It was a rap punctuated by someone singing a single line soulfully, L.Joe didn't recognize the artists but he really liked it.

“This will suit Ken-hyung's voice really well,” Hyuk said. “And hyung too,” he added, glancing up at L.Joe out of the corner of his eye.

Hyuk was very cute, but this close L.Joe saw more to him. The high cheekbones, the dark lashes, he looked older than he was, and sexy. That bone structure must make his cheeks hollow fantastically. L.Joe smiled at himself and reminded himself that Hyuk was still a kid.

“Let's write a short rap like this,” Hyuk said enthusiastically.

“In three days?” L.Joe asked. With the rehersals and practice and costume fittings...

Ken looked doubtful.

“It's easy!” Hyuk insisted. “It's just a beat and like one line of music that repeats. We just need the text. We end on Rock Your Body, what song do you start on?”

“Ms. Right,” Changjo said.

“We can link those together,” Hyuk said. “L.Joe-hyung, you're a composer, right?”

L.Joe held up his hands, sensing work being shoved his way. “How do you even know that?”

“We'll help,” Hyuk promised.

“Choreography,” Changjo said pointing to himself, excluding himself from the helping crew.

Ken looked at Hyuk. “Okay, sure,” he said. “We'll help. But how are we playing it? We can't record music here.”

“With a simple beat, I can fix it on the computer,” L.Joe said. Why was he agreeing to this? But Hyuk cheered happily.

L.Joe laid down some base ideas for the beat which were unanimously agreed to, so that Changjo and Hyuk could get to work immediately. He started putting together lyrics with Ken. Five minutes later Hyuk had abandoned Changjo and sat with them, mostly bothering them, but also coming with some creative ideas. L.Joe started enjoying himself. He liked writing music, in some ways more than performing, and the song Hyuk had played had inspired him.

Suddenly he looked up and he was alone in the room with Hyuk. “Where did they go?” he asked confusedly.

“Ken-hyung got a call, Changjo went to get something to drink,” Hyuk said, seated right next to him, leaning in and looking at the laptop screen. “Whoaa, this is good.”

Okay, so he got that Hyuk was naturally an energetic, positive person, but all this enthusiasm towards him specifically was a bit suspicious. “Shouldn't you be dancing?”

“It's okay, Changjo is better at it anyway,” Hyuk said flippantly, still focusing on the screen. “Is this Ken-hyung's part?”

“Shame, your ass looks cute,” L.Joe said. Then had to turn away and fight himself to keep from laughing. He felt Hyuk freeze up next to him. Ah, had he misjudged things? A little worried, no longer feeling like laughing, he turned back, daring just a glance.

Hyuk's face was bright red, he was staring at the screen but no doubt not seeing it.

“A compliment,” L.Joe said. “It's a compliment. You're supposed to soak it up and smoothly move on.” He kept a teasing tone.

“I'm not terribly smooth,” Hyuk admitted with hesitation. He looked down at his own hands and spun his rings around his fingers.

L.Joe turned his focus back to the music. “This was a good idea,” he said. “I really liked that song.”

“Isn't it great?” Hyuk said, instantly full of energy again. He wasn't the type to dwell on things, L.Joe sensed. “I'm sorry hyung has to do most of the work though. I want to help but, I don't think I can do anything with this. You're too good at it yourself.”

“Ya,” L.Joe said. “If you compliment a person all the time, it loses its charm.”

“Hyung is so good at composing,” Hyuk teased. “Hyung raps so well. Hyung is so handsome.”

“Very handsome,” L.Joe agreed, trying to focus on the screen but failing, starting to laugh.

“Don't laugh,” Hyuk protested. “I mean it.”

L.Joe got up, he couldn't sit there anymore, it was so silly. Was this kid this naïve or was he trying to hit on him? He checked himself in the mirror out of habit. Very handsome, he thought, and started laughing again.

“Hyung has the best laugh,” Hyuk said, standing up behind him.

“Enough, enough,” L.Joe said. “How far have you gotten with the choreography?”

Hyuk showed him some moves. L.Joe tried to follow. In the corner of his eye, while he was trying to concentrate on a sequence, he saw Hyuk stop and look at him, then take a deep breath like he'd made a decision. Suddenly Hyuk moved in behind him.

“Not like that,” he said, touching L.Joe's leg just above the knee, guiding it. “Like this.”

It was an innocent touch, but Hyuk's hand was shaking slightly, just barely enough to be noticed. What was this kid doing? L.Joe turned around, ending up inside his arms face to face. Hyuk looked startled and caught out. He hurriedly returned to his place to the left, cheeks starting to heat up to rose pink.

“Ya, kid,” L.Joe said.

“I'm not a kid, I'm eighteen,” Hyuk protested immediately.

“You're a kid,” L.Joe stated.

“You're only two years older! That's nothing.”

“It's something,” L.Joe said. “It's enough.”

Hyuk turned away, but L.Joe could still see his face in the mirror. He was frowning, biting his lip, redrawing strategies.

“Okay,” he said then, shooting one quick look at L.Joe before staring into the floor with his hands on his hips. “It's like this. I like someone. And I'm old enough to like someone, now. But I don't know anything... I've been spending all my time on VIXX since so long, I've missed some... stuff. You could teach me?” He was blushing, but kept talking.

“What 'stuff' are we talking about here,” L.Joe asked.

“I... I don't know? How to get him interested in me? What to do when he is?”

“How did you even come up with this?”

“I'm, um, I heard, about you, and then I talked to Changjo.”

Changjo? Changjo had pimped L.Joe out to give Hyuk the sex talk? “What did he say?”

Hyuk looked like he wanted to disappear. “That you... that hyung sees a lot of guys. So you must know. How to get them interested.”

L.Joe really hadn't done anything to get anyone interested, his 'guys' had accomplished that by themselves. “Unless you want to spread rumors about yourself, I can't help you.”

“Please?” Apparently Hyuk had gotten over the worst embarrassment, perhaps out of desperation. “I'll do anything. This person, he's... he'll never pay attention to me if he thinks I'm just some kid, I need to know what I'm doing. Please, hyung, I'll do anything. You can do anything to me.” Hyuk looked directly into his eyes, and L.Joe laughed, shocked. “I need the experience anyway. So you can do whatever you want with me. It's okay.”

“Aish, stop it.”

“I mean it, I'm not scared, I won't freak out.”

He looked scared, L.Joe thought. Once upon a time, L.Joe had been this desperate, had gone down on Chunji without knowing what he was doing, pretending it was nothing, no sweat. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Chunji had tread his fingers through his hair and told him he looked amazing down there, and from there on, there had been no going back. If Hyuk was anything like that he might do the same thing. Not everyone would be as cool about it as Chunji had been, and if L.Joe had to be honest, perhaps it hadn't been the best idea, in retrospect. It had turned out okay, but he wouldn't recommend it to others, especially not to someone this enthusiastic and earnest.

“Hyung,” Hyuk said insistently. His face was still a little red, but he was sincere.

“This person, are you sure he's not straight?” L.Joe asked.

“He's been with guys.”

“Says he or says someone?”

“I've seen him,” Hyuk said. “Kissing a guy, going out with another.”

Another member of VIXX then? Who else would Hyuk see like that. Possibly some school friend. Regardless, L.Joe's biggest concern had been addressed. “Alright then,” L.Joe said.

“You will?” Hyuk looked both excited and wary.

“I'm not sure I can help you that much,” L.Joe said. “I'm not exactly... I don't know what Changjo has told you, but I'm hardly a casanova. But I'll try to answer your questions.”

“And...?” Hyuk asked, eyes flickering nervously.

“First lesson,” L.Joe said, “Don't bid your body out like a slut at an auction. Even if you are a slut.”

Hyuk laughed for a second, then quickly reigned in his face. “Okay.”

“What you did with the dance, that was better. Start with letting them wonder if they can have you, if it meant what they think it meant.”

Hyuk smiled and nodded, a little proud. It had probably taken him a lot of courage.

L.Joe wandered back to the laptop and sat down, poking at it, because it was horribly awkward to stand there in the mirror. He wasn't a leader type, he'd known that before and the Dynamic Black experience had only cemented it, and Hyuk looking up to him as a teacher just made him uncomfortable.

“I lied,” Hyuk said, sliding down next to him. “Ken-hyung and Changjo left.”

“Left?” L.Joe echoed, frowning at him.

“Mmm, I, um, I may have set this up, I volunteered to do the transition, and asked Changjo to make sure you came, and Ken-hyung to come along and help.”

“He knows?”

Hyuk nodded.

“All of VIXX?”

“Yes. N-hyung asked us to be open about these things from debut, because it would be difficult otherwise.”

Wow, so many teams had handled it in so many ways. L.Joe wondered again if B2ST knew about Kikwang. He couldn't exactly call Kikwang and ask. “They know who your mystery crush is too?”

Hyuk shook his head. “No. I told Ken-hyung now, but the others don't. It's none of their business, is it?”

L.Joe chuckled. No need for the kid to get so defensive. “I don't know,” he said. “Maybe not.”

“Did I give you too much work, hyung?” Hyuk asked, looking at the score on the laptop, a little worried.

“It's fine,” L.Joe said.

“I really do like your writing though, this is good. Rap it for me?”

L.Joe turned on the laptop speakers and rapped the part he'd gotten done. Hyuk got up and started dancing, and L.Joe looped it, getting up and into character, finding the rhythm for his voice through Hyuk's moves.

There was something young and fresh about Hyuk's dancing. Changjo seemed older than himself when he was dancing, his body flowed naturally like waves, like he made no effort yet the world zoomed in on him until it was just his bubble left. Hyuk on the other hand looked like he was trying very hard, but not in a bad way. The exemplary maknae, energetic, hard-working, trying to be better in every moment. His moves were a little all over the place, but fit into the style. Like he was challenging any onlooker to say he wasn't good enough.

L.Joe watched them in the mirror and started freestyling, rapping along as Hyuk smoothly started over. Hyuk's intense gaze trapped him, set the atmosphere, and L.Joe heard himself narrate the character of his dance, the attitude, the kid rocking the boat and challenging the world. Suddenly Hyuk burst into laughter and fell over on the floor. L.Joe lost track of what he was saying and ended up just standing there laughing at Hyuk laughing.

“What's the matter with you,” L.Joe demanded.

Hyuk tried to speak and started laughing again.

What had he said? L.Joe tried to think back, but he'd just let the words flow, he couldn't remember.

“Cherry lips,” Hyuk said and laughed again.

Hm. L.Joe found the words lurking deep in his memory. You've seen nothing yet. But you've lost already and we haven't started rocking. So shut your mouth and let these cherry lips do the talking. “Aish, don't laugh,” he said. “It's improvisation.” He kicked Hyuk's hip. “You do it better, then.”

Hyuk got up. “Whose cherry lips?” he teased.

“Yours,” L.Joe said, turning his back, heading for the laptop to turn off the music.

“You're the one saying it.”

“It was about you.”

Suddenly Hyuk intercepted him. “Don't be mad, hyung, I'm sorry. It was about me?”

“It was the feeling,” L.Joe said, shrugging. “From the dance.”

“Whoaaa,” Hyuk said. He sounded like people did on variety shows, but it seemed honest. He really was this easily impressed, L.Joe thought. “You like my lips?” He made a kissy face.

L.Joe was tempted to hit him, but with that expression, Hyuk's cheeks sucked in, and man did it look amazing just like he'd thought. He caught Hyuk's jaw in his hand. Hyuk flinched. “Hold still,” L.Joe said and leaned closer.

“Hyung?” Hyuk asked.

“Close your eyes if you get too embarrassed,” L.Joe said. “But this is nothing, so you shouldn't need to.” He got close enough that their noses touched. Hyuk struggled to hold still and not close his eyes, he chewed on his lower lip to not laugh. L.Joe licked his own lips and Hyuk gave up a tiny moan. Immediately embarrassed, Hyuk jerked back. L.Joe stopped him, yanked him forward and kissed him.

He had to grab Hyuk's hair to keep him in place because he tried to pull away in surprise, but then he relaxed. L.Joe forced his tongue in between Hyuk's lips and met a challenger, and as their tongues slid against each other and intertwined, Hyuk made more sounds; eager, needy sounds that made L.Joe's body move forward on its own, wanting to feel Hyuk's body against him. This enhusiastic maknae, what would he be like? Would he make these sounds with L.Joe's hard-on between his lips, would he roll his hips like this while riding him? Would he be this eager to please even with his cock buried in L.Joe's ass? L.Joe's hands wandered down to Hyuk's hips and dug in under his shirt, resting against bare skin. Hyuk drew sharply for breath and his body did an involuntary shiver.

He was just a kid. L.Joe pulled back and managed to get his hands off. Hyuk stayed, breathing, blinking like he wasn't sure what had just happened.

L.Joe smiled at him. So pretty. “You're not a bad kisser,” he said.

“Hyung,” Hyuk said again, his eyes dropping to the bulge in L.Joe's pants.

“We should get back to work,” L.Joe said. “I'm supposed to be meeting the other members soon.” Ahh, the way Hyuk looked at him, shamelessly, with a mix of fear and want. He'd just asked for advice, L.Joe reminded himself. Taking advantage of him wasn't right. “I wonder where Changjo went.” He turned away.

Hyuk closed the distance between them instantly, like the break of eye contact had unpaused a video, and grabbed his arm. “Hyung.” His eyes were brave. “Let me do it.”

What was he asking?

“I want to, I really want to.” Hyuk's hand landed on L.Joe's hip and his eyes dropped again. He licked his lips. “I haven't done it before, but... but I know what to do! I've read about it. I- I'll do my best.”

Was he talking about blowjobs? “You want to suck my cock?” L.Joe asked.

Hyuk took a shaky breath. “Yes,” he nodded.

What was okay to do? “This person you like, it's not me is it?”

Hyuk blinked, frowned, was snapped out of his obsession and looked up to meet L.Joe's eyes. The contents of the question slowly reached through. “No,” he said. “I- I'm not going to tell you who it is. But it's not you.”

L.Joe nodded, believing him. He walked over to the door and locked it. Hyuk was still standing where he'd left him when he turned back. “Always be careful,” L.Joe told him. “Make sure it's locked, and no cameras.”

Hyuk looked up, checking corners. Practice rooms sometimes had cameras, but not this one. L.Joe knew because he checked automatically these days, wherever he went.

“Where do you want me?” he asked, walking back to Hyuk.

Hyuk smiled nervously but didn't say anything, so L.Joe continued all the way up to him, rested his arms on his shoulders and tried to model his face into a calming smile. His blood was heating up and his eyes wanted to lock onto Hyuk's lips, but he had to be the hyung here and make sure Hyuk was okay.

“Kiss me,” L.Joe said.

Hyuk shot forward like he'd been waiting for permission, wrapping strong fingers around L.Joe's sides and latching onto his mouth. Eager kisses, hands slightly unsteady with anticipation. Without breaking the kiss L.Joe took Hyuk's right hand and moved it to cup him through his pants. Hyuk moaned. Sucking on L.Joe's lower lip he used both hands to fumble his pants open and peel them down, along with his underwear. L.Joe let his fingers play in Hyuk's hair, stroking his neck and ears.

“Oh god,” Hyuk whispered, leaning his forehead against L.Joe's and looking down as his hand gently cupped L.Joe's cock. “Oh fuck you're so hard.” He breathed shallowly, sounding impressed somehow. “Hyung. Can I...?”

L.Joe cleared his throat to find his voice, resisting the urge to trust against Hyuk's hand. “Go on,” he said, and was surprised by how calm he sounded.

“Mmmm,” Hyuk moaned and kissed his neck briefly before sliding down to his knees.

“Do you want me on the floor?” L.Joe asked, amused and turned on by how Hyuk stared at his erection like it was the entirety of his world at this moment.

Hyuk shook his head. “Like this,” so softly that L.Joe barely heard it. “Like this, is perfect.” He adjusted his hand, curling his fingers around the shaft, and jacked him slowly.

L.Joe ran his fingers along the curve of Hyuk's ear, finding his earring, pinching his earlobe a little. Was he freaking out? “Are you okay?”

“I want it so much,” Hyuk said, and he looked like it too, licking his lips like he couldn't wait. L.Joe wasn't sure what he was waiting for. “Oh fuck,” he said suddenly, and leaned in like taking the first bite of an ice cream. L.Joe moaned softly when Hyuk's lips closed around the head and slid down. Hyuk's mouth was so hot, his tongue slid against L.Joe's skin like steamy velvet. He hit the point where going down further was difficult and moaned a little.

“It's okay,” L.Joe said, running his fingers through his hair. “Don't push yourself. Use your fingers, like this.” He made a circle of his fingers.

Hyuk glanced up and saw. The view of him looking up through his lashes, lips wrapped far down L.Joe's cock, sent electric pleasure down L.Joe's spine. He had to fight harder to hold still. Hyuk followed the instructions, came all the way up while following with his hand, breathed once – fast, hungry – and slid down again, sucking harder. L.Joe followed his cheeckbones, let his fingertips slide into the hollow where his cheek sucked in. On the other side, L.Joe's cock bulged out lewdly. Hyuk came up again.

“Hyung, tell me what to do,” he said. “Tell me what to do to make it good.”

“It is good,” L.Joe said, still surprised at how calm he sounded. His blood was on fire.

Hyuk shook his head and looked up at him. “Tell me.”

L.Joe must have done something very good in his past life to get to experience this. Having this sexy maknae on his knees, begging for instructions, wanting to please him. It was a little strange to tell him to do the same things that L.Joe did for others, but he'd wanted this, dreamed about this, having someone do it for him, and here it was. Not an opportunity to be squandered. He told Hyuk what to do, and Hyuk followed instructions beautifully. Maybe he was used to being ordered around, or maybe he was just a natural at sucking cock.

“Mmmm,” L.Joe moaned desperately, digging his fingers into Hyuk's hair.

“Fuck you're so sexy,” Hyuk said, getting bolder quickly. “Make that sound again. I'll make you sound like that again.” He sucked L.Joe's cock into his mouth again, and did that thing with his tongue, ah, this maknae caught on quick...

“Mmmmm!” L.Joe's hips jerked forward. Hyuk gasped, and laughed, and did it again. “Shit, I can't hold it much longer,” L.Joe groaned. “Ah, you, ah...”

Hyuk chuckled with his mouth still around him, then came up. “Hyung, fuck my mouth,” he said. “I want to feel it.”

L.Joe didn't have enough braincells in action to argue. He grabbed Hyuk's head. “Relax,” he managed to say before his hips moved on their own, his cock wanting back into that amazing heat, nothing else mattered. Hyuk held on to his thighs to steady himself, Hyuk's hair was soft against his fingers. He had to shut his eyes, pleasure shooting up through him, white-hot and all-consuming. Just in the last moment he managed enough self-control to let go of the maknae, so barely that the first of his cum landed on Hyuk's face. L.Joe groaned, seeing white drops cling to Hyuk's cheek, pumping himself empty. His legs felt wobbly, he sat down, tucking in and buttoning up again.

“You can...” L.Joe started, but was out of breath. He had to start over. “You can feel that it's coming. Especially like this.” He took Hyuk's hand and set it against his own abs. “They usually move, cramp up, a special way. You'll learn.” He chuckled and reached out to clean Hyuk's face.

Hyuk touched his fingertips to L.Joe's cum and looked at them, evaluating, before popping them into his mouth.

L.Joe froze. “Aish,” he said, staring.

Hyuk blinked a little at the taste but didn't say anything.

“You can't look like that,” L.Joe chuckled. “You have to sell it. 'Mm, hyung, your cum is so thick and tasty'.” He gave Hyuk a heavy-lidded look.

Hyuk's eyes widened. “I can't say that!”

L.Joe laughed, embarrassed. It was strange to think of his own actions as a performance, he'd leaned by doing and everything had come naturally. When a guy was watching you like that, it felt okay to say anything. But like this it was really embarrassing.

“You're really amazing,” Hyuk said.

This again. “What did I say about compliments,” L.Joe laughed.

Hyuk licked his lips. “But it's all true,” he said innocently.

Mm, those lips. Hyuk shifted a little, and L.Joe noticed his pants were open. He'd touched himself, but he was half-hard, hadn't gotten off. “Sanghyuk-ah,” L.Joe said. “You don't just learn by doing, but by seeing.” He put his palm against Hyuk's chest and pushed him backwards, until he landed on his elbows, then yanked on his hips so he could slide his pants down.

Hyuk's breaths sped up.

L.Joe stripped him out of pants and underwear properly and settled in. Even Hyuk's cock was cute and energetic. He licked it into his mouth, wrapping his arms around Hyuk's legs, and started bobbing up and down. Hyuk gasped and bucked up. L.Joe had expected it and could parry by holding on to him.

“Ah, sorry, I, ah,” Hyuk moaned. His erection grew in L.Joe's mouth, and Hyuk's moans got more and more desperate. L.Joe let go and mouthed his balls instead, giving him time to calm down a little, and then, because it felt right, he slipped his fingers into the crack of Hyuk's ass. Distracting him by licking up the hard length of his cock, L.Joe prodded his pucker and felt Hyuk twitch and clench. “Hyung, hyung,” Hyuk kept saying, but it didn't sound like 'stop', so L.Joe sucked his cock into his mouth at the same time as he pushed in with the first finger.

A ripple went through Hyuk's body and he leaned his head back. His anus worked around L.Joe's finger, trying to make sense of the intrusion. Super tight. He might not have touched himself either, L.Joe thought. He hummed appreciatively around Hyuk's shaft, and sucked hard when he found the right spot with his finger.

“Augh,” Hyuk arched his back and fell to the floor, flinging an arm over his face. “Oh go-ohd, oh god hy-ung, fuck,” Hyuk kept saying. His body kept tensing in waves, not obeying him, cutting off his words halfway.

L.Joe loved his voice, loved that he kept calling him hyung, loved his innocent reactions. He reached up one hand onto Hyuk's abs like he'd shown him before and felt his muscles work. He was close. L.Joe was impressed that he'd held it in this long.

“Sanghyuk-ah,” he said, coming up for air. “You want to come?”

“Ahh, fuck,” Hyuk said. “Don't stop, don't stop, I want to.”

“Is that any way to talk to a hyung?”

“Please,” Hyuk said immediately. “Please, hyung.” His eyes opened for a moment, looking up at L.Joe, lost in pleasure. “Ah god please, I think I'm going to die, I'm dying, hyung.”

L.Joe snickered before taking him in his mouth again, picking up a quick rhythm, chasing him up to orgasm. In moments, Hyuk was crying out, cursing, pleading, cramping uncontrollably and shooting his load on his stomach, before going quiet and slumping on the floor. L.Joe popped his finger out of his ass, and he gave up a long, drawn-out moan.

“Sanghyuk-ah,” L.Joe said softly.

Hyuk's eyes opened, he reluctantly got up on his elbows. “Mmm, hyung?”

L.Joe dragged his fingers through the wet streaks on Hyuk's stomach, then, locking eyes with him, sucked his fingertips one by one, cleaning them. He finished with sweeping his tongue over his lips and smiling.

Hyuk groaned and flopped back to the floor, arms spread on the sides. “Ahhhh.”

L.Joe got up and looked around for something to clean up with, but didn't find anything. Lucky he was wearing three layers today. He got out of his clothes and used his tank top to wipe the floor and Hyuk's stomach. Hyuk moaned meakly but didn't move.

“Ya, did you die?” L.Joe poked him with his toes.

“I died and went to heaven,” Hyuk told the ceiling.

L.Joe laughed. “Get up, we have to get back to our members. We're probably late already.”

“How can you be this good?” Hyuk sat up, looking at him with unchecked admiration. “You're amazing, you're better than amazing, you...”

“You have nothing to compare with,” L.Joe reminded him.

“If this is bad, then real sex will really kill me,” Hyuk said, looking honestly afraid.

“Ya, I didn't say it was bad!”

Hyuk got up, a little unsteady on his feet still, and found his clothes. “I didn't get it, what you said about selling it,” Hyuk said, “but now when you did it. Augh.” He rubbed his mouth. “How could I do that? No one can do it like L.Joe-hyung.”

“What are you saying,” L.Joe said, shaking his head. “How would you know. You've only seen me.”

“Then who?” Hyuk challenged.

“Probably lots of people. Probably your guy.”

Hyuk looked thoughtful.

L.Joe packed up the laptop and the rest of his things. Changjo had left some stuff too. L.Joe felt like leaving it behind as revenge for Changjo pimping him out to Hyuk, but he collected all of it anyway.

Hyuk was still standing in the middle of the room. L.Joe gathered up his things too, just a sweater and his phone, and handed it to him.

“Ya, are you alive? Back. To your members. Go.”

Hyuk's eyes flickered over him. “Hyung, we'll see each other tomorrow right?”

“We better,” L.Joe said. “We have to finish the music and everything tomorrow; we'll need the final day for rehearsing it.”

“Let's have more lessons tomorrow then,” Hyuk said, eyes sparkling, and bounced away. “I'll leave first!” he declared happily and left.

L.Joe shook his head at it and found his way back to his members.

 

It turned out he shared hotel room with Changjo too. CAP always wanted to room with Niel, and before, L.Joe had roomed mostly with Chunji. Ricky followed them and hung out for a while in their room before it was time to sleep.

L.Joe sat crosslegged in the bed tapping the laptop trying to figure out why it didn't sound right when Changjo came out of the shower. “Aren't you going to shower, hyung?” Changjo asked.

“I need to write some more,” L.Joe said, squinting at the screen. Maybe the tone should go up instead? He tried it quietly. Hm, yes. Changjo fussed around some. When L.Joe looked up, he was drying his hair while peeking at L.Joe in the mirror. “How do you feel about the choreography?” L.Joe asked.

“It's good,” Changjo said. “I added some more, it's pretty much done, but if it doesn't fit with the lyrics I should adjust it before you learn it.”

“I think me and Ken-hyung should focus on the vocals,” L.Joe said. “We can join for a few steps, but this will be enough to learn in just two days.”

“Mmm, we'll be very busy.” Changjo eyed him. “Aren't you going to brush your teeth?”

What was this obsession with his hygene? L.Joe's eyes narrowed. “How come you and Ken-hyung left anyway? There was so much work to do.”

Changjo shrugged. “We, uh, I went to the bathroom and then got dragged away, I kept working on it, just somewhere else.”

“You set me up with Hyuk,” L.Joe accused.

Changjo shook his head. “I set Hyuk up with you. Was it no good?” He sat on the bed pretending to focus on getting ready for bed. “I thought it might be fun for hyung to be a hyung.”

“What's that supposed to mean,” L.Joe asked.

Changjo licked his lips and looked uncomfortable. “I, well, U-Kiss are all hyungs, right. And Hoon-sshi especially... I just think you fit better with someone like Hyuk, right? You didn't like it? Did he chicken out?”

“You think I bottomed for Hoon-hyung,” L.Joe realized. He was too outraged to consider what he said, but once he'd said it, it was painfully embarrassing.

“It just seems like he would boss you around,” Changjo said.

L.Joe didn't know what to say. “You don't have to worry about stuff like that,” he said. “I wouldn't have done anything I didn't want to, with Hoon-hyung or with Hyuk or anyone else.”

Changjo peeked up at him hopefully. “So you did something with Hyuk?”

“How did this turn into a world where you offer up your friends to me?”

“He offered up himself,” Changjo smiled. “But I might know more maknaes if you're willing to pay up.” He laughed into his hand.

L.Joe tossed a pillow at him. “Seriously,” he said, “I can take care of myself.”

“We're a team,” Changjo protested, parrying the pillow perfectly. “Teen Top. We look out for each other.”

“There's that, and there's this,” L.Joe said.

Changjo shook his head, serious now. “No, there's only this. If you thought I was seeing girls that were bad for me, wouldn't you get involved too? Try to introduce me to someone nice?”

“And you'd be throwing things at me too,” L.Joe said, throwing his other pillow.

“Nah, I'd just ignore you,” Changjo teased. “Oh? Where is he? He's so short I can't see...”

L.Joe pushed the laptop aside and lunged for the other bed.

 

The next day was a blur of rehersals and costumes and greetings as the other idols participating filed in. They checked the stage to make sure their choreographies fit, they synched their transition to the stage positions and timing. L.Joe had the rap for their transition in the back of his head the whole time, working a little on it whenever he could sneak a moment. It was shaping up. As far as feeling and lyrics went, Teen Top's Ms. Right into VIXX's Rock Your Body was a bit interesting. L.Joe chose to view it as the progression of a relationship; finding the right girl, then trying to convince her to get together. The lyrics were trying to reflect that.

Come evening, they hadn't had a chance to meet up with Hyuk and Ken, and were herded back to the hotel. L.Joe was worried about practice time.

Changjo's phone beeped for the fifth time. “Hyuk is going crazy,” Changjo said. “I'll invite him here, him and Ken-hyung, and we can work on it.”

L.Joe showered and changed out of the day's clothes. He was exhausted, but he'd managed to finish the short song, and while they waited for the others to arrive, Changjo and him went through the whole thing a few times and Changjo adjusted some details of choreography to fit the lyrics better. L.Joe was pretty happy with it, which meant he'd hate it in the morning, but that was part of the process.

There was a knock on the door and Changjo went to let them in.

“Tadaa!” Ken said, walking in like he was walking onto a stage, arms wide, waving to the sides. “We're here!”

“Hello, hyung,” Changjo said.

L.Joe greeted them from the bed.

Hyuk entered, his face lighting up into a shy smile when he saw L.Joe. He fidgeted a little until Changjo pushed him to sit on the bed next to L.Joe.

“It's done? It's done!” Hyuk exclaimed, seeing what was on the laptop screen.

“It's done,” L.Joe agreed, amused, already smiling at his energy.

Ken skipped over and leaned over them to see. “This is my line?” he asked, pointing. “I like it.”

L.Joe was relieved. Writing for someone else was always nerve wrecking. “I changed it to go up here,” he said, pointing.

Ken was nodding, already singing, trying it out. It sounded good, his voice was perfect for this kind of thing.

L.Joe pushed at Hyuk. “Let's go through it a couple of times. Hyuk needs to learn the dance,” he said.

They moved some stuff out of the way to make room for the maknaes, and L.Joe stayed on the bed, rapping, flipping his still damp hair to the side. Hyuk wasn't comfortable with the dance yet, and there were timing issues, and Ken was unsure of exactly when he was to break in. They did it twice more and it started to seem like a coherent performance.

“We'll need to rehearse tomorrow,” L.Joe said. “Preferably on stage.”

“We're getting some minutes,” Ken said. “Let's draw our positions, so we're as prepared as possible beforehand. Paper, paper.” He looked around.

Changjo found pen and paper. They drew up the stage dimensions and discussed where to be. Hyuk sat behind L.Joe looking over his shoulder, and while Ken drew and talked, L.Joe felt a hand creep in under his shirt, feathering his side. It was cute, and intimate and comfortable. Not getting denied, Hyuk grew bolder, swinging an arm around L.Joe's neck pretending to hold on to him to see better over his shoulder. Changjo glanced over, stonefaced, but L.Joe saw the laughter in his eyes.

“We're never going to remember this,” Ken groaned and leaned back. Crashing into Hyuk and L.Joe he turned around, surprised, and saw the way they were sitting entangled. “Omo! Sanghyuk-ah, are you here to work or to flirt?”

“Flirt,” Hyuk answered happily without missing a beat.

Ken sighed. “Get up, let's go through it a few more times.”

“Aww, hyung.”

L.Joe freed himself and slipped off the bed, and gestured for Changjo to get into position. Slowly, reluctantly, like a child, Hyuk got up and found his place. They got worse again, trying to remember when to move and when to stand still, but a handful of repetitions and it was starting to sink in. L.Joe was getting tired, only half-heartedly speaking the lyrics.

“Let's take a break!” Hyuk declared. “Let's get some food! Can't we?”

Asking after the fact. L.Joe laughed at him and glanced over at Ken. Ken threw his hands up. “It's my decision? I'm the hyung? I'm the hyung! No food! No rest! Work 'til you drop!” Hyuk poked him, making a cute face. “Okay, let's get some food.”

“Room service?” Hyuk asked.

“There's a place around the corner, Changjo and I ate there before,” L.Joe said.

Ken looked from him to Hyuk. “Changjo, let's go buy some food,” he said.

Agh so awkward. “No, no,” L.Joe said.

But Changjo had already started stepping into his shoes, and Ken was by the door.

“Wait a second,” L.Joe protested. Were they in grade school? What the hell. “You guys better come back here, we still have work to do.”

“We will,” Changjo promised.

“But no rush,” Ken said. “I'm the hyung. I say let's take a long break.” He smiled and escaped before anyone could say otherwise. Changjo waved at them and followed.

When L.Joe turned away from the closing door, Hyuk's smiling, hopeful face met him. Ah, what a bother. He ruffled his hair, still damp, and sat on his spot on the bed again. So tired. Hands snuck around his waist and pulled him back, making him lie down, head on Hyuk's lap.

“Did you work hard today?” Hyuk asked, his fingers feathering L.Joe's forehead as he tried to arrange his hair a little nervously.

“Mmm,” L.Joe said, closing his eyes.

Hyuk relaxed, as if L.Joe's eyes being closed gave him more permission. He massaged L.Joe's shoulders, humming Ken's part to himself. You're mine, you're mine, I want you to be mine. L.Joe felt himself start to drift off. He should get up, but he was way too comfortable. “Hyung's body...” Hyuk said, waking him up.

L.Joe opened one eye warily. “You better not say anything about my height,” he said. But Hyuk was leaning over him, face right over his, blushing bright, shaking his head a little to assure him he wasn't going to. Didn't look like that was what he was thinking of anyway. Ah, right, Hyuk wanted lessons. Was probably embarrassed to ask. “Tell me about this guy you like,” L.Joe said. “Not who it is, just, what is he like. What does he like, how do you get along?”

Hyuk sat back, looked up at the ceiling. “Better and better,” he said. “He still sees me as a kid though. But I've started being able to talk to him about things. Like what he likes. Music, and friends, and sometimes he likes unexpected cute things.”

“Then you're set,” L.Joe laughed.

“Hm?”

“Cute thing,” L.Joe said, pointing at him over his head.

“Aish,” Hyuk said. “Not like that. That's not what he likes in guys.”

“How do you know?” He couldn't see Hyuk anymore, only feel his body move beneath him. The way Hyuk fidgeted, he wasn't sure how to answer the question. “You know I'll never tell anyone whatever you say. Never, no one.”

Hyuk's fingers played over his ear. “I believe you,” Hyuk said. “Well, I, he was a little scary at first. He's so good at what he does, and on stage he gets such an attitude, it's intimidating. But I thought I should try to get closer, so I kept an eye on him and then one day he went to meet a friend and I followed.” Hyuk leaned over L.Joe, biting his lip. “I'm not a stalker. It just happened somehow. And then, they met up, and, they hung out and played basketball, and when hyung left, I... I saw them kiss.”

L.Joe sat up and turned around, wanting to see his face. Hyuk rubbed his forehead and met his eyes, half vulnerable, half defiant.

“I liked him already, it just snuck up on me. I was jealous,” Hyuk admitted. “I'm not a stalker,” he repeated, unnecessarily. Waiting around probably for a long time, he was definitely a stalker.

“Next time hyung went to see a friend I had to come. I mean, I knew I shouldn't, it made me crazy jealous for months after the first time, but I had to. It was a different guy, at a restaurant, they went into the bathroom and...” Hyuk hid behind his hands. “I snuck in after them. I heard them.”

“What did they say?” L.Joe asked when Hyuk didn't continue.

Hyuk shook his head, blushing. “No, I mean, I heard them. Hyung was, in the stall, they-”

“They had sex,” L.Joe filled in.

Hyuk chewed on his lip like it would save his life. “I've never heard hyung sound like that,” he said breathlessly. Frowned. “I want to make him sound like that. Ah...” He hid his face again.

L.Joe was curious. He leaned in and put his palm against Hyuk's crotch and, yes, he was getting hard, thinking about it, rememebering. Hyuk made a surprised sound and peeked out at him.

“Did you jerk off, listning?” L.Joe asked.

Hyuk blushed even harder. That was probably a yes.

“Tell me about it.”

“Ah, what?”

“You have to be able to talk about it,” L.Joe said. “Didn't you say he wanted someone who knew what he was doing?”

Hyuk closed his eyes and took a breath. He was really going to do it. L.Joe licked his lips and massaged him gently through his pants. “I, uh, when I snuck inside I checked under the stall doors, I even lay down on the floor to be able to see,” Hyuk started. “I saw their shoes in one, I got into the one next to it as quietly as I could. They were kissing. I heard a zipper, although hyung was wearing button fly pants, and someone moaning. I, um, I think hyung was, I think he got on his knees, I was trying to breathe quietly.”

L.Joe opened Hyuk's pants, worming his body closer to him on the bed. His underwear was gray, super soft. L.Joe ran his fingers over it appreciatively. If this guy was experienced like that, he'd be one to appreciate that Hyuk wore quality underwear like this. “I like your underwear,” he said.

“Mm?” Hyuk looked at him with disorientation, having been lost in his memory.

“Nevermind. Did you hear it? The blowjob?”

“No,” Hyuk said. “I heard hyung stand up again, and clothes, rustling, they were moaning together, shoes shuffling. I- I couldn't, I had to open my pants, it was, they were too tight...”

“Did you touch yourself?” Hyuk nodded. L.Joe dug his hand below the soft fabric and found his equally soft skin, slid his fingers along the shaft and made Hyuk shudder. “Go on.”

“The other guy was talking, whispering things, I only heard, things like, do you want it, you're so hard for me, say you want it, and then suddenly someone was pushed into the stall wall behind me, the guy went quiet, hyung said, are you gonna talk about it or do it, like it was a challenge.” He moaned and bucked up a little against L.Joe, thrusting into the ring of his fingers. “And they switched places, hyung's back was against mine on the other side of the wall, I heard the other guy go down on him. I felt the wall move with him, against me, when the other guy, he...”

Hyuk's eyes were closed, his attention fully on the memory. His erection had grown proud and full in L.Joe's hand, twitching with the words, with the recollection. L.Joe kissed the head and Hyuk's eyes opened, and he took a shocked, shaky breath seeing L.Joe lick his cock into his mouth.

“Ahhh,” Hyuk groaned. “Ahh, what, I...”

L.Joe got up and put his hand over his eyes. “Close your eyes. You could feel hyung's back against yours while the other guy got on his cock? What then?”

Hyuk fidgeted desperately. L.Joe wrapped his lips around him again, letting his tongue explore the smooth shaft. “Then, what, I could feel his rhythm. I, I took my, myself, and I did it to the same rhythm, but I had to be careful, not move too much or hyung would feel me against his back like I felt him. I could hear hyung's... him going into the other guy's mouth, I wanted to, I wished I could... ah. And the way he moaned. I could feel the way he moaned through the wall. The vibrations of his voice through my skin.”

Fuck so sexy. L.Joe moaned softly around him, unintentionally recreating the memory. Hyuk was grabbing the sheets, messing up the bed, struggling to hold still.

“And when he came,” Hyuk said breathlessly, sounding shredded, overwhelmed. “Ahh, hyung. Hyung, when he came, he made this sound, like-” and Hyuk gave up this slow low moan, more like a breath. L.Joe had to get off him and breathe, get his own pants open because this was too hot. Hyuk's eyes opened again while L.Joe jacked them both. “And then,” he said, his eyes distant, lost in memory and pleasure, “they switched places. I came already. I had to see it. I had to. I got up on the toilet and looked through the opening at the ceiling, and I saw them down there, the other guy against the wall to my stall, and hyung jacking him off, standing there all casual-like with his own pants still open, like it was the most relaxed thing ever, to have another guy's stuff in your hand. The other guy had his eyes closed, he was coming, and when he came, hyung glanced up, and he- he saw me... ah!” Hyuk cried out, bucking up, tearing the sheets off the corner of the bed. L.Joe didn't even see it coming. He slowed down, petting Hyuk's thigh, taking him through the rise and fall. Hyuk's eyes opened drowzily again. “He saw me,” Hyuk said, a little unclearly. “He looked right at me. I fell off the toilet. The other guy freaked out, asked if someone was there. Hyung told him to clean up, don't worry, they left.” He breathed, looking at L.Joe like he wasn't sure what was real or not. “They just left.”

“You okay?” L.Joe asked, because Hyuk looked a little out of it even for someone who had just come harder than ever before.

Hyuk looked around, at himself and the mess and the crumpled sheets. Anywhere except at L.Joe. Then started to get up, buttoning up, receding off the bed.

“Are you freaking out?” L.Joe asked, wondering if people who freaked out knew it themselves.

“I'm sorry,” Hyuk said, frowning, tearing up. “I'm sorry.”

“Sorry?” L.Joe asked.

“I'm...” Hyuk swallowed and found the door. “I'm sorry.”

“Wait, wait, what...?” L.Joe jumped off the bed, but Hyuk had already escaped. Agh. L.Joe rushed after him, but halfway out the door realized that Changjo might not have brought his keycard, so if L.Joe left without it too they'd lock themselves out. Cursing under his breath he returned and snatched it up and hurried after Hyuk but by the time he reached the elevator it was already gone, going down, Hyuk probably in it.

Fuck. And Hyuk had left in such a hurry, he'd forgotten his jacket, and he probably looked all messed up. Hopefully not too obviously just-come. L.Joe had barely buttoned his own pants either. Absent-mindedly trying to fix his hair a little, L.Joe wandered back to the room. He didn't have Hyuk's number. Changjo had handled all communication. He called Changjo.

“Hyung?” Changjo answered.

“Where are you?”

“Are things not going well?” Changjo sounded playful.

“Hyuk ran out of here, you better find him.”

Changjo started saying something surprised, but L.Joe hung up and fell back on the bed. He felt angry. Angry at Hyuk for being weird, angry at Changjo for getting involved, angry at... himself. Most of all himself. Hyuk was obviously not ready for any of this, he should have turned him down from the start. Who was he to teach anyone anything, he was just some idiot fumbling around getting in everyone's pants for no reason... He wandered into the bathroom and checked himself in the mirror.

“Because you're too sexy, Lee Byunghun,” he sulked at the mirror and laughed. Flipped his hair out of his eyes. Screw it. It was too late to back out on Hyuk now, he'd have to fix it somehow. Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow, he was falling asleep standing up.

But he was still standing there fixing his hair when Chango arrived. “Hyung!” he called out already inside the door, then stuck his head into the bathroom. “Hyung! Ah, really, you're doing that now? Aren't we going to bed soon anyway.”

L.Joe met his eyes in the mirror, waiting for him to say something useful.

“Hyuk met us at the store,” Changjo said, coming in.

“So he's okay?” L.Joe asked, tilting his head to see how the hair fell.

“He's outside, he said you might not want to see him.”

“Now?” L.Joe turned to face Changjo.

“What did you do?”

“What did I do?” L.Joe repeated, not believeing his ears. “Nothing! He freaked out and ran off. Why would I have done something?”

Changjo crossed his arms over his chest, wearing a patient but disbelieving face.

“Aish,” L.Joe said and pushed him out of the way, leaving the room, opening the door. Hyuk was right outside having a hushed conversation with Ken. Ken looked up when he came, a little wary. What, what had Hyuk told him? Why were people treating him like a villain?

“Ah, hyung, I'm sorry,” Hyuk said, bowing.

“Stop apologizing,” L.Joe said. “I don't know what you're apologizing for. Look, I don't know if we should...” He looked around, but the hallway was empty. No clue how well they could be heard into the rooms though. Ken understood and ushered Hyuk inside the room.

Hyuk got over his temporary paralysis and pulled L.Joe into the bathroom, where Changjo hurriedly skipped out. As soon as the door closed, Hyuk was apologizing again.

“I'm sorry, I made you worry.”

At least this one made sense. “I thought you said you...” That wasn't fair, L.Joe shouldn't put the blame on him, it was equally his own fault. So saying Hyuk wasn't ready would also sound like pointing fingers. L.Joe tried to think of a way to say what he meant.

Hyuk was about to speak.

“Please don't apologize again,” L.Joe said.

Hyuk closed his mouth. Opened it again.

“What happened?” L.Joe asked.

“It was wrong,” Hyuk said, “that you did that for me, while I was thinking of someone else.”

Oh god, this innocent kid. “It's not the first time, believe me,” L.Joe said.

Hyuk gave him a long, evaluating look. “That doesn't make it right.”

In an unguarded moment, L.Joe's heart gave a warming thump. Nonetheless, “Wasn't it me using you? I told you to tell me about it, knowing you got off on it, so I could blow you.”

“Hyung's not like that,” Hyuk said immediately.

What might come off as Hyuk being considerate, ultimately came down to him being young and rash and inexperienced. “You've known me for all of two days,” L.Joe said.

“Sometimes you know people from the first moment,” Hyuk insisted.

L.Joe shook his head, wondering how to convince this stubborn dongsaeng. Almost as stubborn as Changjo. But not as clever. “There's no crime if there's no victim,” L.Joe said, “and I'm not a victim. So there's no crime.”

Hyuk looked doubtful but didn't speak up.

“Are you sure you don't mind doing this with another guy when you like that hyung so much?” L.Joe countered.

“I don't mind,” Hyuk said.

“I still think we should stick to theoretical lessons from now on.”

Hyuk came forward, a hand landing on L.Joe's arm. “Ah hyung, don't be like that, I'm sorry. I won't be like that again. Ah-” Hyuk looked down at his own hand like it had acted without his permission and pulled it back. “I was confused because we talked about the other hyung. I don't want to talk about him with you again, so it won't happen again.”

L.Joe shook his head and slid past Hyuk, leaving the bathroom. “I'm the teacher, I decide.”

“Hyung!” Hyuk followed him out.

“We need to practice,” L.Joe told the room. Changjo and Ken looked up from where they were sitting, poking around on the laptop.

“All good?” Ken asked.

“Hyung!” Hyuk insisted.

“Apparently not,” Ken answered himself.

“We should repeat a few more times,” L.Joe said, turning to Hyuk. “We can talk tomorrow.”

“No,” Hyuk said simply.

“Ahaha, this side of you, Sanghyuk-ah,” Ken said with a fake laugh, “you probably shouldn't show it this early in a relationship.”

L.Joe moved to go over to the bed where the others were sitting. Hyuk grabbed his arm again, and he tried to slip away but this time Hyuk held on, pulled him back. That he dared, and in front of the others too, pissed L.Joe off. “This kid!” he exclaimed, tearing himself free, staring Hyuk down.

“Please, hyung,” Hyuk urged. Then added, “Don't call me a kid, I'm not a kid.”

“Eighteen, twenty, this kid is still a kid,” L.Joe said.

“Who's eighteen? Did you have a birthday when I looked away?” Ken's voice said.

When L.Joe turned towards them, Ken had come up from the bed, closing in on them, looking alarmed. Only then did his words really sink in. L.Joe snapped back to Hyuk.

“This year! I'm eighteen this year, it means I am already, really, who cares about birthdays,” Hyuk rambled defensively.

L.Joe felt like he'd lost all breath. He staggered back, Hyuk reached out but he dodged out of the way.

“Don't look at me like that, hyung,” Hyuk said.

“When we talked about this,” Ken said, “we did not talk about eighteen-plus things. In fact, I seem to remember you saying that...”

“What does it matter!” Hyuk exclaimed.

“Hyung?” Changjo asked, coming up beside L.Joe.

“This, this is not...” L.Joe couldn't find words. He sat on the nearest bed – Changjo's – and stared at the floor in disbelief. He'd believed Hyuk when he said he was eighteen. What was he supposed to do, check his ID?

“We should probably go,” Ken said.

“Hyung,” Hyuk protested. Then, weakly, “what about the rehersals.”

“It's pretty good already, we have some time tomorrow,” Ken said. “Go. Come one. N is going to kill us both so better get to it so they can clean up the blood before bedtime.” He ushered Hyuk out the door.

Before it closed, L.Joe heard Hyuk say, “you can't tell the hyungs, please, say you won't tell the hyungs.”

Changjo made sure the door had locked behind them and sat down next to L.Joe on the bed. “Hyung, are you okay?”

L.Joe rubbed his forehead. “I'm a criminal,” he said.

“Eeeh, I mean, he is eighteen this year, I'd say...”

“You set me up with him! You could have told me he was underage!”

Changjo leaned away defensively. “I didn't think you'd jump right to it. I set you up for a date, maybe, or something, but...”

“Date?” L.Joe snorted with disbelief.

“That's what I said, didn't I? Hyung...” Changjo sighed and ruffled his hair. “We worry about you. This going around meeting all kinds of guys...”

What...? “Have you talked about this with the others?”

Changjo shrugged. So he had. It wasn't just Changjo setting him up with Hyuk, it was all of Teen Top. L.Joe got out of the bed and paced. He was so tired, he was getting a headache from this. Changjo and Ken had brought food back in some bags. He opened one and fished out the first thing, peeling it open and taking a bite without even checking what it was.

“Who said I was meeting all kinds of guys?” L.Joe said, chewing. “You saw me with Hoon-hyung and just assumed? Chunji, it's Chunji who decided I'm sleeping around, isn't it?”

Changjo cleared his throat. “You said as well it wasn't just Hoon-sshi.”

“One guy! One more person! It's not half the idol community, is it! And it's just blowjobs!”

Changjo winced. Too much information, perhaps, but if they thought he was actually fucking around, then they needed to be corrected. “But, hyung, don't you want a boyfriend? Or at least a steady partner...?”

L.Joe sighed and crossed his arms. “No,” he said. “You're all doing fine without girlfriends, aren't you? I'm fine. And with the rumors going around, I can't date someone, you realize that right? You'd throw Hyuk to the wolves to cheer me up?”

Changjo shrugged again. “He's not that close of a friend,” he said, a little smile creeping onto his lips.

“He's in love with someone,” L.Joe said. “Probably one of his hyungs in VIXX. He wanted me to teach him some... stuff. So he could get noticed by that guy. That's all this was.”

That seemed to be news to Changjo. “Really? Huh. This seemed a bit intense for that, don't you think?”

L.Joe grimaced. “I hope not. You better help me clean this mess up, if it gets worse.”

Changjo thought about that for a bit. Then nodded. “Okay. I'm sorry we jumped to assumptions. We'll talk to you next time, instead. I told the hyungs that we should, but...” he grinned knowingly.

Yeah, apprently the new Teen Top policy was to talk about everything behind L.Joe's back.

“If you ever set me up with someone again, please make sure I'm not breaking any laws,” L.Joe said, putting away the rest of the food. He was too tired to eat.

“Deal,” Changjo said.

They headed into the bathroom and brushed their teeth shoulder by shoulder.

Disregarding the mess they'd made, it was nice having members that looked out for you, L.Joe thought. Misguided as they were, they meant well. Hyuk as a boyfriend. He snorted at the mirror.

“Hm?” Changjo said.

“Hyuk would smother me with love,” L.Joe said. “I'd choke to death, and it'd be your fault.”

Changjo laughed.

 

Final day rehearsals. VIXX and Teen Top were doing their stage rehersals right after one another, and they would get a few minutes in between for the transition, which meant both teams were watching as they did it. They acted the perfect idol friends, smiling and joking a little, but staying focused on the performance. Everyone was applauding after they were done, so apparently it worked out. Ken hadn't told the hyungs, L.Joe bet, because no one even looked at him twice. He tried to observe VIXX, on the lookout for interactions between Hyuk and the others to see if his theory was correct, but came away none the wiser.

After VIXX was done, though, Hyuk came bouncing over. “Can I talk to you?” he asked.

Getting a supportive look from Changjo, L.Joe got out of his chair. He felt the rest of Teen Top watching them as they walked away, around the stage and into a dark corner far away from any action. They'd barely gotten there before Hyuk's fingers pulled on his shirt. “God you were so sexy up there, I can't watch you, how do you do it.”

L.Joe untangled them. “What are you doing?”

“Please, hyung, please.” Hyuk looked through his lashes at him. “You didn't, um, I didn't do anything for you yesterday, just let me...”

“Unless this is your birthday, you better get your hands off me,” L.Joe said.

Hyuk took a deep breath and slumped a little. “Fine, fine, I can wait, can we, a kiss, at least?”

Alarmed, L.Joe took a step back. “You already know how to kiss.”

Hyuk looked hurt.

Ah shit. “We're not dating,” L.Joe said, keeping his voice flat and emotionless. “I was teaching you. How to get another guy, remember?”

“I don't care about him.” Hyuk followed. “He doesn't have your body. Or your smile. Or the way you...”

“You think you like me? You liked getting off, that doesn't mean...”

“Stop treating me like a child! I know when I like someone.”

“Really?” L.Joe said, not amused anymore.

“Hyung, you're amazing, there's so much to like. I know you think you don't deserve it, or whatever, that someone wouldn't like you, that you have to just do favors for people and that it's just sex because no one could like you, but I do. You shouldn't let a guy get away with thinking about someone else when you do something like that, you deserve so much better!”

L.Joe tried to pick his brain up from the floor. This kid! “You... really? You think you know me? You haven't understood anything!”

“I-!”

L.Joe crossed his arms. “I happen to like sucking cock. I like getting guys off, whoever they're thinking about. I don't want a boyfriend, or a lover, or a cute thing. There's no sob story to why. You're not going to save me from myself or whatever you've seen in movies.”

“Hyung-”

“You know me better than I know myself, is that it? After meeting two times?”

Hyuk hesitated.

“And this guy you've been talking about, you're going to give up on him, just like that? Someone got their hands down your pants, and you've forgotten him instantly? That's how much it meant to you?”

“I'm not lying, hyung,” Hyuk said, young and vulnerable and confused. “I really... the things you made me feel...”

“You have nothing to compare to,” L.Joe said, shaking his head. “Sanghyuk-ah, when you do those things with the person you really like, it's going to make you forget me in an instant.”

Hyuk hesitated again. L.Joe tried to look confident. What did L.Joe know about that? It's what everyone said, that it was different with someone you like, but he'd never done it, had he? Chunji didn't count. But right now, to get Hyuk off his back, it was the only way.

“I'll never forget you,” Hyuk decided.

“I'm flattered,” L.Joe said. “I'll never forget you either. Now let's get back to work.”

They walked back, Hyuk trailing behind like a lost puppy. VIXX were waiting for them, talking to Teen Top. N immediately started chatting with him, while Hyuk lingered, unsure.

Behind N, Ravi was chatting leisurely with Ricky. L.Joe saw him stare at him, and then his eyes dropped. Just for a second, but L.Joe was learning to recognize it. And Ravi didn't even seem to bother to hide it. Well, it had to be him, then. If Ravi was into guys, it was just too many stars aligning. Before Ravi decided to make a move on L.Joe, he better get Hyuk's ass moving. He shifted, casually drifting around N while talking, ending up closer to Ravi. When N got distracted, he turned to Ravi as if only because he happened to be there.

“Ah, hello.”

“Hello.” Ravi nodded in a brief bow, eyes finding their way up by running up L.Joe's body. Barely noticable, but very flattering.

“Sanghyuk-ah says you take very good care of him,” L.Joe said. In the corner of his eye he saw Hyuk staring at them, wide-eyed.

Ravi looked surprised. “Does he?”

“He's very talented,” L.Joe said, looking over at Hyuk, making sure Ravi saw the way he smiled at him. “And very well behaved. It's been a pleasure taking care of him.” Ravi's gaze flickered over L.Joe before finding Hyuk, and lingered, surprised, curious. “You must think so too?”

Hyuk came over, smiling nervously. “Ah, hyung, what are you talking about?”

L.Joe ran a finger over the curve of his ear. “It's your birthday soon, isn't it? Eighteen's important. Ravi-hyung should get you a good present.”

Ravi's eyes locked on his hand, on the contact between them.

“Hyung,” Hyuk said, looking terrified.

L.Joe smiled brightly at both of them. “Good luck on stage!”

“You too,” Ravi said politely.

Wandering back to his team, he looked over his shoulder, and saw Ravi's eyes follow Hyuk around as Hyuk went this way and that. Interested. Intrigued, even, maybe. When VIXX grouped up and left, Ravi drifted into position next to Hyuk, saying something that made Hyuk jump and smile.

“Happy matchmaking?” Changjo asked.

L.Joe grinned at him. “Maybe.”

“Remind me to hire you if I need a pimp,” Changjo said.

“Remind me to not hire you,” L.Joe countered.

“Who needs a pimp?” CAP asked, swinging an arm around L.Joe's shoulder.

L.Joe tried to get away but was trapped. Changjo hurried to leave. Teen Top scattered again, watching some other groups reherse.

“What was that about?” CAP asked.

“As if you don't know,” L.Joe said. “Don't set me up with anyone again. Really.”

“Set you up?” CAP frowned.

“Hyuk?” L.Joe said. “Were you not in on it, hyung?”

“Absolutely not,” CAP said, looking around. “These kids tried to get you together with that kid?” L.Joe wasn't sure if he was serious. “Isn't he underage?” Ah, probably hadn't been involved, then.

“Indeed,” L.Joe said. “No one told me that part.”

CAP's arm around his shoulder grew tighter. “Did you...?”

L.Joe looked away, scratching his temple. “And the kid thought he fell in love with me or something. I had to tell him off.”

“Pff,” CAP said, boxing L.Joe's shoulder playfully. “What would you do with a kid like that. You need a real man.”

“Are you volunteering?” L.Joe asked, still not looking at him. He expected CAP to be smiling, the way he always did when his members amused him, which was basically all the time.

CAP let go of him. “I volunteer Niel,” he said.

“Ewww,” L.Joe said, shieing away.

“No good?” CAP laughed.

“Ewww,” L.Joe repeated.

Like magic, Niel was by his side. “What's that? I'm no good? For what?”

“CAP-hyung said I need a real man,” L.Joe said, laughing because it felt really strange to be saying. “He suggested you.”

Niel gasped. “You didn't like it? What's wrong with me? I'm a real man!” He made big eyes. “You don't like me? Aren't I pretty? I mean handsome, handsome and manly!”

“You hate it when I do skinship,” L.Joe said.

“Maybe before,” Niel said. “But now, when I might have a real chance? I love it!” He put his palm against L.Joe's chest and dragged it down over his abs.

L.Joe laughed and squirmed away.

CAP just kept smiling.

 

Chapter Text

Suddenly the rumors stopped. Just like that. More or less overnight, the hints, the underhand jokes, everything. Silence. Their schedule filled up more; it hadn't been empty before, but it was clear that there was no trouble now. Nothing hanging over anyone's head. Did people forget, like this, overnight? Very strange.

The members agreed, but, they said, don't overthink it. Just be happy it's gone.

As the days went by, L.Joe started to relax. No more whispers behind his back, and moreover, no more guys coming on to him at random hours of the day. While some things had been more pleasant than others, out of those things, it was nice to have a normal life for a while. Although he'd gotten used to a certain amount of action in his life, even if it was just doing favors for Chunji, and after a few weeks his skin was crawling.

And he was crawling all over his members. A Thursday Ricky pushed him away, whining, and Niel said, “This hyung needs to get laid.”

L.Joe reigned himself in and leaned back in his chair and stared at the ceiling. “I really do,” he admitted. When he came back up, everyone were staring at him. “What?”

“That's not what you're supposed to say,” Niel said. “You usually just laugh and hide. What are we supposed to say to that?”

“Volunteer?” L.Joe joked, leaning in and resting his head on Niel's shoulder.

“Oh god.” Niel sqeezed his eyes shut. “It's been so long, don't tempt me.”

Chunji groaned and rubbed his temples, turning away from them.

“Hyung's very good at it,” L.Joe promised.

Niel shuddered and made outraged faces and pushed him away to arm's length. “Get away from me! Right now! Oh my god, what are you saying!”

Laughing, L.Joe got up and checked himself in the mirror. He looked so good today, he felt like his hair was extra soft and shiny and managed to fall just right. Such a waste on these guys. Not even any filming today, just rehersals. He picked up his phone to take a selca, to not let it go entirely to waste, and saw the other guys behind him on the screen, heads together, whispering. Only CAP was sleeping by himself in a corner. Once he'd snapped a picture he was satisfied with and turned back, they were sitting apart again.

He sat back down. Closed his eyes and thought about Hoon in the bathroom, of himself in the mirror behind him, going down on his knees. It was all a waste; he was good at it, he liked doing it, instead he was sitting here uselessly. Could he go hunting? If guys weren't coming on to him anymore, could he search them out himself?

Sighing, he leaned against Niel again. “My hair is really soft, try pulling it,” he offered, grinning.

Niel shouted at him and pushed him away again, Changjo bending over in laughter.

Suddenly L.Joe felt fingers against his scalp, yanking his head back, almost tipping his chair over. He flailed a little and looked up into CAP's grinning face.

“Happy?” CAP asked, holding on.

L.Joe was stuck, balancing precariously on the chair, laughing but holding back to not fall over.

“Behave yourself in public,” CAP said, letting him go.

L.Joe rubbed his abused scalp. “Yes, yes.” What had he done? There was no danger of staff around, and Niel was on board with the teasing. But CAP was returning to his spot, not caring anymore. When he leaned his long, muscular body back on the couch, stretching lazily, there was the slightest little twitch and tug in L.Joe's pants and he found himself licking his lips. No, no. Absolutely not.

Jesus, he had to get some action before he did something really stupid.

How would he find the right guys? VIXX's Ravi was the only one he knew who hadn't directly declared his interest, and then he'd already pretty much known because of Hyuk. Before, he hadn't been looking because it hadn't seemed possible, but with the amount of idols that had shown interest he had to call it likely that there were more in other groups.

“Who's here today?” he asked out into the air.

“You mean groups,” Ricky said, not really a question. “I think Infinite was here, and MYNAME arrived at the same time as we did. And someone else was coming, I heard.”

“Infinite?”

“You're onto one of those guys?” Niel asked.

L.Joe sighed and shook his head. “Sungyeol, that friend I talk on the phone with, it's Sungyeol.”

“Isn't he a hyung,” Chunji asked. “You're that close?”

L.Joe shrugged. None of their business, was it.

“Does that mean Infinite is off-limits?” Niel mused. “I think that guy, what's his name, Hoya-sshi, he's got pretty fine,” he patted his stomach. “And who knows, the dancer boys all look like players, but I'm sure some aren't.” He glanced meaningfully at Changjo and Ricky.

Changjo stared at him with mock offense.

“What's that supposed to mean!” Ricky protested.

“Not my style,” L.Joe said. “Him, or these ones.”

“You have a style? I thought you went for anything that...” Niel got a punch in the shoulder as CAP slid down onto the chair next to his, smiling calmly.

“How long do we have?” L.Joe checked his phone. Quite a lot of time. “Think I could go say hi?”

“Going to ask if they're off-limits?” Chunji asked.

“He just said he wasn't interested,” Niel countered.

“In that one, yeah,” Chunji said. “There's seven of them. Plenty of ass to chase.”

CAP nodded at L.Joe. “Go. Say hi to your friend from us.”

L.Joe messaged Sungyeol. Infinite had just finished and were leaving, but Sungyeol could hang around for half an hour and ride with a manager that had some other business. They agreed on a place to meet and L.Joe slipped out.

Halfway to their agreed meeting place they ran into each other.

“It's good to see you.” Sungyeol put an arm around his shoulders, not quite a hug but a brotherly squeeze. L.Joe couldn't squeeze back like this, so he just walked along with Sungyeol's arm where it was.

“You too. How are you doing?”

Sungyeol sighed but smiled. “It's alright. L is happier, so I'm happy. Right now I'm trying to figure out if this was just... temporary insanity, or if I really... if this is going to be more than Myungsoo.” He shrugged. “I don't know if that sounds offensive, but it's how it is.”

“It's not so simple, always,” L.Joe said.

“Did you always know?” Sungyeol asked.

L.Joe looked around but they were alone. “Not really,” he admitted. “I don't think I thought about it terribly much. I dated girls in the States. But somehow when it hit, when I fell for someone, it didn't feel wrong or like a surprise or anything either.” Literally overnight he'd somehow transformed into a new person, without the suffering that should come with letting go of the previous one. Sure he'd been worried and scared, but at the same time it had been so easy, so obvious. He was lucky.

“But you don't... not girls?”

L.Joe shrugged. The image of himself in the mirror behind Hoon flashed through his mind again. His skinny, pale chest, the confident look on his face. “I don't dislike girls,” he said. “I just don't think it's my style, really. I like... doing favors. And stuff.”

Sungyeol sighed. “I was so sure I liked L. And I was so sure about Lee Joon too. Now I don't know anything about anyone, myself either. But I'll figure it out. Whatever I am, I wish I had someone to do favors for me too.”

“What 'too' are you talking about, I haven't, since Hyuk.”

“Hyuk?” Sungyeol asked, and L.Joe realized he hadn't told him. So he did, the whole sordid story, while they walked to the elevator. Sungyeol laughed at him, and with him, and was cheered up. “You sure get around,” he said.

L.Joe snorted. “Not anymore apparently.”

“Oh poor you, haven't gotten anything in weeks?”

“I miss it, that's all. When the rumors stopped, suddenly, well...”

“Suddenly you have to work for it?” Sungyeol shot him an incredulous eye.

“I don't know how,” L.Joe admitted. “I don't have any sense for this. I didn't need to, did I.”

Sungyeol laughed. “I'm sorry, I'm laughing at your problems,” he said then, calming down. “It's just that they're funny. Aren't they?” He grinned. “One moment you can't get a break, the next you're lonely?”

“Horny,” L.Joe said, giggling.

Sungyeol raised his eyebrows and held his hand up. They high-fived. But Sungyeol looked a little thoughtful. “Don't you ever think... don't you want just someone?” Sungyeol called the elevator.

“Just someone? No.”

Sungyeol shook his head in disbelief. “You bad man. I mean someone special.”

“Love?” L.Joe shook his head. “How would that work, in this business?”

“It has been done,” Sungyeol said. “And you could fly under the radar. I didn't say get married, I just meant, like a boyfriend.”

The elevator arrived.

“I think this suits me. And I'm still young,” L.Joe smiled. “There's plenty of time later.”

“That's what stupid kids that end up alone say,” Sungyeol said.

The doors opened.

“Hello. Going up?” MYNAME's Insoo asked, with a polite smile, the rest of MYNAME crowding behind him.

It was a little cramped but L.Joe and Sungyeol just fit. When L.Joe glanced over at Sungyeol, standing by his side, Sungyeol raised his eyebrows and made an almost unnoticeable nod towards Seyong, right behind L.Joe. L.Joe bent his head down and laughed.

“Teen Top, right?”

L.Joe tried to look over his shoulder, hearing Seyong's voice very close to his ear. “Yeah.”

“You have very good songs.”

“Thanks, you too.”

Was this...? L.Joe wished he could see Seyong, but there was no way he was turning around inside this elevator. The doors opened again and MYNAME filtered out. Suddenly L.Joe was pushed out of the elevator, stumbling after them. Looking back, exaspirated, he found Sungyeol smiling happily at him, nodding again at Seyong – not very subtly at all and then waved as the elevator doors closed.

What. The. Hell.

L.Joe did what he usually did when out of options, he smiled disarmingly and stalled.

“So is the rest of Teen Top here too?” Seyong asked. The rest of MYNAME were giving L.Joe puzzled glances, but Seyong was oblivious.

“Yeah, downstairs,” L.Joe said. He had no idea what was on this floor. “What are you here for today?”

“Quickie photo shoot for some fan stuff,” Seyong said. L.Joe started walking with him for lack of other things to do. “Cute stuff.” He smiled and made a v sign.

“Sounds fun,” L.Joe said.

“What about you,” Gunwoo asked.

“Just practice,” L.Joe said. “Some singing and testing. We got here too early so we're just sitting around.”

“Oh, you have nothing to do? Come watch the shoot?” Seyong asked. “This hyung could use some pointers on cute.” He nodded subtly in Insoo's direction. Insoo shot him a murderous glance.

“I'm sure he has better things to do,” Gunwoo said. Then looked at Insoo. “Although...”

The others laughed. Insoo sighed.

“I don't want to impose,” L.Joe said, but in the end got dragged along anyway.

MYNAME were dressed up in bright, clear colors and herded together into happy poses. L.Joe watched from the side, cheering them on. While they were doing single and sub-group shots, Seyong kept him company for a while, chatting away. Did Sungyeol have sense? L.Joe watched the side of Seyong's face. Cute, but... maybe not entirely his style. Although, neither had Hyuk been.

Seyong went quiet for a rare moment. “Do you, uh,” L.Joe started, licked his lips and glanced up at Seyong, who had turned around to look at him. What the hell was he doing. This was too risky. He stopped talking, wishing he could just run away.

Seyong stared blankly at him for a moment, then slowly something new came into his face. “Ah, eh,” he smiled a little awkwardly. “I'm... You would talk to the hyungs, for that.”

The hyungs? Insoo and Gunwoo? L.Joe shook his head. This adventure was over. He'd gotten to Chunji on pure guts and tenacity, picking up idols probably required a little more finesse than he possessed.

“Insoo-hyung!” Seyong called. “Flash us! Abs, abs!”

L.Joe glanced up. What? Smiling, like Seyong did this all the time, Insoo lifted his shirt and rolled his hips, before turning back to the camera. L.Joe's fingers twitched.

“Personally though, I prefer Gunwoo-hyung's. Insoo-hyung's is so textbook, no character.”

Gunwoo did a thumbs' up at them, expressionless as ever.

L.Joe looked helplessly at Seyong. Was he bidding his hyungs out? “Why are you...?”

Seyong shrugged happily. Before he could answer, he was called back to take more pictures.

Insoo sat down in Seyong's spot, stretching his legs a little after standing still for so many photos.

“Are you done?” L.Joe asked.

Insoo nodded. “Just Chaejin and Seyong left.” He looked around. “Where did our honored leader go?”

L.Joe didn't know. But if he was going to make a move, this was it. He would need to go back to his team soon. Gathering courage he didn't have, he got up, rolled his shoulders a little, and looked back at Insoo over his shoulder. “Coming?”

Insoo watched him, an amused glimmer in his eye. “Where?”

Good question. L.Joe had thought about it. When they'd gone here, he'd noticed a tiny storage room. He knew the type, the building was full of them. They held things that were rarely used, and should be relatively safe. He didn't answer though. What was he supposed to say, 'store room'? No. He just walked away, hands in pockets, heart beating a little faster than it needed to. When he heard Insoo's steps follow behind him, he was glad his back was turned, because he couldn't hold back a wide, victorious smile.

He saw Seyong smiling at them in the corner of his eye, before he passed and went out the door. Insoo trailed behind, not coming up by his side, all the way to the room. When L.Joe slipped inside he noted that the door locked from the inside. It might have been a remodeled bathroom. This made him look way more planned out than he was. Insoo came inside, cast a surprised glance at the lock, and locked it.

“Nice choice,” he said, looking around. There were mostly just shelves with unidentifiable boxes, maybe papers or other office supplies.

“Not exactly the romantic suite,” L.Joe said.

“In the right mood, anything can be romantic,” Insoo smiled, closing in.

Such a sappy thing to say, L.Joe hadn't expected it. He laughed, taking his hands out of his pockets to slow Insoo's advance.

“Isn't it why we came here?” Insoo pushed his hands away playfully, grabbing his hips and yanking him in.

L.Joe dug his hands in under Insoo's shirt instead. It was bright green, no print. In return his pants were white with a subtle leaf pattern on the sides of his hips, accenturizing the way they hugged his ass perfectly. In photo shoot clothes, was this okay? L.Joe resisted getting to his pants, just exploring his waist.

“Do you like it?” Insoo murmured, forehead close to L.Joe's.

“Isn't it too much?” L.Joe teased. “CAP-hyung has just the right...” he lifted the shirt to look. “Maybe not.” He smiled mischivously up at Insoo through his lashes.

Insoo's eyes met his calmly, unbothered by the tease. The hands on his hips gravitated to his fly and L.Joe shuddered as Insoo's fingers brushed his stomach while he unbuttoned. Suddenly strong hands dug into his hip bone as Insoo lifted him up and set him down on some abandoned office equipment, a printer or scanner or whatever.

“You're really light,” Insoo said, sounding vaguely surprised.

“Yeah, yeah,” L.Joe said, not wanting to hear it.

“I like it,” Insoo said, shooting him a smoldering look. “It's easy to move you around.”

L.Joe was going to give a clever retort, but then Insoo had bent down and latched his mouth onto L.Joe's hard-on through his underwear, and whatever he was going to say flew his mind. Ah, he really needed this. He'd have loved to do it the other way around too, taming those fine muscles and willfull eyes, but photo shoot clothes. They had to return those at the end of the day, preferably without suspicious stains.

Insoo held on to his hips, his mouth inflicting hot, agonizing pleasure. When L.Joe panted, wanting more, not going to ask for it, Insoo got him out of his underwear with his teeth and licked greedily up the shaft before sucking him into his mouth with a lewd slurp. Insoo's grip was like iron shackles keeping him in place, L.Joe let his head fall back and leaned on his hands. The machine creaked and shifted under him. Picking up a rhythm, Insoo started bobbing up and down, his knee against the machine, letting L.Joe rock with it. L.Joe got one leg over his shoulder and he let go of his hips, wrapping a fist around his cock and pumping it hard.

“Shit,” Insoo breathed, looking up at his heaving chest. “I want to fuck you so bad.”

Fire flared down L.Joe's chest, pooling like lava at the bottom of his stomach.

“I want to fuck you so hard, so hard you forget where you are, so hard your members will ask you tomorrow why you're dancing so bad.”

Ah god. L.Joe groaned and rocked into Insoo's hand, getting close. Insoo's voice, Insoo's words, sent ripples of pleasure through him.

“God you're so sexy. I'm going to come harder than I ever have in the shower tonight, thinking about you.” Insoo leaned over him, heavy and hot, jacking him with smooth, strong strokes. “Thinking about fucking you. Imagining you spreading your legs like this, my cock up your ass.”

Ah, too much. L.Joe couldn't move his hands or he'd fall backwards, but he wanted to push Insoo away a little, get some room to breathe. Insoo was too intense. He squirmed his chest trying to urge him away, and Insoo dropped his head and kissed the corner of his jaw. A hint of teeth, a few flicks of Insoo's thumb, and L.Joe was coming, writhing, pushing against Insoo's hands.

He felt sore somehow, a little oversensitive, when he came back. Insoo had backed off a little, but his hand was still on his crotch. L.Joe shakily got up and pushed him away. With some air between them he could at least breathe. Insoo was watching him with hungry eyes, no doubt wishing they weren't in public.

“Ah hyung,” someone said outside. Seyong? L.Joe tried to find how to control his fingers again, fumbling still with buttoning up when there was a knock on the door. Insoo headed over and carefully opened a crack but was pushed aside as Gunwoo came charging inside before shutting it again behind him.

“You!” Gunwoo said, glaring at Insoo. Then distracted from continuing, his eyes ran down L.Joe's torso and settled on where L.Joe was fumbling his zipper shut. If Insoo's gaze was willful and hungry, Gunwoo looked obsessed. Gunwoo's lip twitched, and he blinked, regaining his earlier thread. “You!” He came up to Insoo.

Insoo laughed, running a hand through his hair. “I looked for you,” Insoo said, “but he was leaving. What was I supposed to do, just let him go?”

“We agreed,” Gunwoo said, glancing quickly at L.Joe, “to share.”

L.Joe felt on display sitting on this perch like this. The way both hyungs looked at him sent little happy tingles across his skin, anticipation and memory both. He could be embarrassed and jump down, or he could go with it, eat it up, let them look. He settled in and got more comfortable, wondering where this conversation was going.

“We're still in agreement,” Insoo said, gesturing to L.Joe. “Go ahead. I did look for you, really.”

Gunwoo's eyes narrowed.

It was a damned shame, but, “I have to go back to my guys,” L.Joe said. “Pretty much right now.”

“Not my fault,” Insoo quickly defended himself, backing up and leaning against the wall, hands in pockets.

“I'm sure we'll,” L.Joe let his eyes drop down Gunwoo's body, briefly licking his lips, “run into each other again, hyung.”

Gunwoo groaned and turned away. Then locked eyes with Insoo. Some kind of conversation happened in that eye contact, and Insoo nodded.

“Phone,” Gunwoo said, holding his hand out to L.Joe.

L.Joe handed it over, curious.

“This address,” Gunwoo said. “If we agree to meet, it's there. Don't send it, don't say it, someone might intercept messages and calls.” He handed the phone back. He'd entered his number, and a note with an address. “You're up for it, right?”

For what? L.Joe looked from him to Insoo.

“Us,” Insoo clarified.

At the same time? That was crazy. Crazy. “Yeah,” L.Joe heard himself say. Goddamnit. Glanced back to Gunwoo. “You two do this often?”

“It's not easy to arrange, it's convenient to share,” Gunwoo said.

“This friend and I have similar tastes,” Insoo said, smiling.

“Not exactly often,” Gunwoo answered the question. The unspoken part of the message being, but it's not the first time either. L.Joe wondered who.

“We'll be in touch,” Gunwoo said.

“I got to go.” L.Joe slipped off the machine, feeling their eyes follow his body through the movement. “It was nice to meet you, both.”

“It will be nice,” Gunwoo promised.

Insoo just smiled.

Outside the door, Seyong was waiting, leaned against the wall playing with his phone. He glanced up when L.Joe came out. “Say hi to Teen Top!” he said cheerfully. “I really do like your songs! I hope we can do a collab sometime!”

Happy weirdo. L.Joe laughed at him, waved and hurried off towards the elevator. He checked himself out with the phone camera on the way down. If possible, he looked even better now, his hair just perfectly disorderly, a certain glow to his skin. He snapped another selca. Then noticed a message from Sungyeol.

Did you make new friends?

I'll get you back for this, L.Joe wrote back.

He got back to Teen Top just in time. Everyone had already gathered up to get going.

“How's Sungyeol,” Chunji asked.

“Fine,” L.Joe said.

Niel leaned in. Glared at him with narrowing eyes, closer and closer. L.Joe patiently let him. “Hyung,” Niel said slowly, “was Infinite not off limits?”

Suddenly everyone were paying attention. L.Joe cleared his throat, ignoring the way his cheeks heated up a little. “I don't know, I ran into MYNAME,” he said.

There were cheers and whistles from the kids. Chunji scowled and turned away.

CAP gave him a look he couldn't interpret.

 

Three days later he ran into Sungyeol again by chance and got to talk to him properly.

“You're such a slut,” Sungyeol said.

If someone else had said it, like Chunji, L.Joe would just have defended himself, but since it was Sungyeol, he thought about it. “Am I?”

“How many guys in how many months?” Sungyeol asked.

“What's the definition of a slut, anyway,” L.Joe muttered.

“I'm not saying it like, like you should stop or anything, although, aren't you worried about the mess?”

“What mess?”

Sungyeol rolled his eyes. “The mess. Do they all know about each other? There's no risk of more rumors? Jealousy? Emotions? Blackmail?”

That was a lot of things at once. “They know I'm a slut,” he said, smirking. “There was Hyuk, I guess, but that's sorted. As for rumors and blackmail...” He had no idea. He had to admit to himself that he had no idea what to do if anything like that happened. “I survived, Teen Top survived, the last round of rumors.”

“I'm not judging,” Sungyeol said. “I've made enough messes myself. I was just wondering if you had a plan.”

L.Joe shook his head. “But I'm not the only one, I mean, obviously all these guys were willing to risk it too. I don't imagine I'm some irresistable super-lover...” It was too embarrassing to say, he leaned his head forward letting his hair fall into his eyes, hiding behind it.

“Supaluv!” Sungyeol sang, doing a crude imitation of the choreography. L.Joe laughed. “I guess you're right, if they can do it, you can,” Sungyeol said. “Just... if you get caught, don't give up my name, alright?”

 

Another few days later, the message came.

Want to meet up? from Gunwoo's number.

L.Joe brooded over it for a while. They were at the dorm, most of them away but L.Joe left behind with Niel and CAP. He found Niel in his room flipping through some magazine. When he entered, Niel sighed and shoved the magazine to the floor and rolled over on his back.

“Ricky's,” he said, motioning to the discarded reading. “Tell me you have something fun to do.”

L.Joe sat down on the floor at the foot of the bed, leaning back against it. “Unless you want to join in on a foursome with Gunwoo-hyung and Insoo-hyung...”

“What?” Niel rolled back on his stomach and crawled up so he could lean forward and see the side of L.Joe's face. “Really?”

L.Joe had tried to take care to keep the names of his encounters to himself, as much as possible. Outing half of MYNAME hadn't been his intention. “Don't tell anyone,” he said.

“Tell anyone what?” Niel looked at him urgingly. “You haven't told me anything yet. Tell me. Juicy details. I'm about to die of boredom.”

“That time I ran into MYNAME when I went to see Sungyeol...”

“Yes? Yes?”

“Do you really want to hear this?” L.Joe glanced up at him.

“Hyung,” Niel said. “I was reading one of Ricky's stupid magazines. It cannot possibly get worse. Even icky guy-sex gossip is better. Especially the scandalous stuff.”

L.Joe chuckled. “It wasn't that scandalous. Sungyeol thought Seyong-hyung might be interested, but he directed me at his hyungs instead.”

“And?” Niel urged.

“An adventure in a store room with a door that locked,” L.Joe said. “The point I was getting to...”

“Details!” Niel demanded.

“You don't want details,” L.Joe protested.

“Insoo-hyung, he's got the,” and Niel pretended to count packs in a six-pack, “doesn't he?”

This again, as with Hoya. “Is there something you want to tell me?” L.Joe asked.

“I can tell when a guy is handsome,” Niel said. “Doesn't mean I want to get in his pants. What's Gunwoo-hyung's like?”

“Seyong-hyung claims it's better, has more personality,” L.Joe said.

“But you don't know?”

“I was in the store room with Insoo-hyung. Gunwoo-hyung came later and gave me his phone number and said we should meet up sometime.” Niel's mouth fell open, so L.Joe added, “In front of Insoo-hyung, apparently they... share.” Niel's mouth made a scandalized 'o'. “Not just leftovers, but, at the same time.”

With a gasp, Niel buried his face in the bed, then came back up. “No way, you're teasing me!”

“Good for them,” L.Joe went on, “but I'd never do it. Share with you or Chunji or CAP? Ew.”

“Ew,” Niel agreed. Thought about it. “Chunji, maybe, but CAP? Ewww. You and I don't exactly have the same interests,” he added. “Although...”

“Ew,” L.Joe insisted, swatting at him.

Niel grabbed his head. “You're my favorite hyung though, you know that.” And kissed his cheek.

L.Joe looked up at CAP who'd just appeared in the doorway. “Lies, CAP-hyung is your favorite hyung.”

“No, no, it's you,” Niel persisted, fixing his hair. L.Joe closed his eyes and stuck it out; if he tried to get away Niel would just chase him around.

“Why are we picking favorites,” CAP asked.

Niel snapped up, letting go of L.Joe. “Ahhh, hyung!”

“I'm very good at sharing. Don't I always say what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine?” CAP asked, his face an unreadable mask.

“More of the later,” Niel said.

CAP faked an attack and Niel rolled off the bed.

“What are we doing about food?” CAP asked, heading off into the kitchen.

L.Joe and Niel snickered together before getting up and following him out.

“I'm not eating,” L.Joe said. “I'll pick something up on the way.”

“On the way where? We're supposed to stay here,” Niel said.

“I'm, um, meeting up, with some hyungs,” L.Joe said.

Niel made another scandalized face. “What?!? Wait, now? You're really going?” CAP watched them, interested. “Hyung, that seems... I mean, can you really handle that? Those two, at the same time? Won't it be... I mean, won't they want to...?”

L.Joe felt his face go red. Felt his own eyes flicker uncertainly. “They're good hyungs,” he said. “Experienced, it seemed like. It should be safe. It's got to happen sometime.”

“What's that supposed to mean? You mean you haven't...?” Niel did an obscene gesture to illustrate.

“I mostly do favors. You know,” L.Joe said and licked his lips.

Niel made an overwhelmed noise and turned away rubbing his eyes.

“You guys have fun tonight,” L.Joe said, turning away too.

CAP's hand landed on his arm. “Don't.”

L.Joe tried to judge the situation. Was CAP telling him he wasn't allowed to go, as their leader? Or had personal objections? Or trying to give advice?

CAP's eyes met his, calm, serious, beseeching.

“I'll be okay, don't worry about me,” L.Joe said. “I'm tougher than I look.”

“Then you're damed tough,” CAP said. Shook his head slightly. “Don't go.”

“They have it set up, no one will notice.”

A little snarl flashed by on CAP's face, before it settled in a slight scowl. “That's not what I... Don't throw something like that away on guys like that. Shouldn't it mean something?”

CAP was more of a romantic than people generally thought, L.Joe knew, yet it still surprised him. “If I'm supposed to sit around and wait for love, I'll never get laid,” he said.

“We're sitting around waiting for anything at all!” Niel protested. “You can keep it in your pants same as everyone!”

Apparently they weren't going to let him go unless he made it clear. “I want to try it,” he said.

“Getting fucked?” CAP asked. Both Niel and L.Joe recoiled a little, unprepared for his directness. “It's something you'd try with just anyone?”

“Not anyone,” L.Joe snapped. “What's wrong with them? You've never protested anyone else.”

“Messing around is one thing. This is different,” CAP said.

“You know what? This is none of your business. Maybe I'm going over to drink soda and play cards.” L.Joe twisted his arm free. “Thanks for the concern. See you later.” He walked off into his own room to pick up his phone and other things before leaving. Coming back, CAP blocked his way.

“Hyung...”

“I'll do it.” CAP watched him, arms crossed.

“What?”

“If it's just about trying it, I'll do it.”

L.Joe had frozen in place in shock. “You want to fuck me?” he asked.

CAP's hand came up, his fingertips slid down L.Joe's shoulder. “Yeah,” he said.

A lot of answers to that passed though L.Joe's mind. You're straight. I don't want pity fucks. Didn't you say no messing around between members? Are you entirely fucking insane? But none of them seemed to properly express the outrage he felt. That CAP would, that he'd think- he shoved CAP to the side, harder than necessary. Offended, exaspirated, disappointed; he was disappointed. Lately it had seemed his team were adapting to the situation. Even if they whispered behind his back and made fun of him, they were on his side. But this, the lack of respect...!

Niel came into the living room, casting surprised glances at CAP, probably seeing the tension between them. “Have fun, be safe?” he said, waving weakly.

L.Joe couldn't bring up the energy to answer him, but left quickly.

He answered Gunwoo yes on his way to the bus. Then, he wasn't sure why but, he got tears in his eyes on the bus, hidden under his cap, but he shook it off before he got to his stop. It would have been fun to change clothes, but now he'd ran off in what he was wearing; not that he didn't like his outfit. It just seemed somehow that, well, that the first time should, agh, had those thoughts been there before or had CAP planted them? Screw that. L.Joe could do what he wanted. This bullshit about first time and love, it came out of movies and romantic ideals. Real life wasn't like that, a good time was a good time, it didn't have to be so complicated. CAP should grow up.

Gunwoo sent him a number in return, nothing else. L.Joe found a hotel at the address given, and figured the number must be for a room. Slipping through the lobby unseen, he got into the elevator and found his way to the right door. Nothing to lose. He knocked. There was an audible click as the door unlocked. L.Joe slipped inside and closed it quickly, worried about someone showing up in the corridor.

Insoo glanced over at him from the bathroom door, hair wet and messy, before disappearing inside. Gunwoo shoved a bag under the king-sized bed.

“Hi,” Gunwoo said, coming closer. “That was fast.”

“You're already here too?” L.Joe asked.

“We come here sometimes, just the two of us. Figured we could try inviting you.”

L.Joe paused, alarmed.

“Don't worry,” Insoo said, coming into the room, hair slightly styled although it was still wet. “We're not in love or boyfriends or some shit. It's just convenient.”

These guys clearly knew how it went. L.Joe continued into the room, letting his fingers graze the bed as he passed. It wasn't silk sheets, but it was nice. Gunwoo got out of the way and let him look out the window. They were pretty high up. Normally he'd get right to it, but there was something, some resistance in him. Damned CAP and his damned ideas.

Insoo dropped his shirt.

Gunwoo held his hand up. “Are you okay?”

“I'm fine,” L.Joe said shaking his head. “Some stuff with the members, you know how it is.”

“You know you can leave whenever you want, no hard feelings,” Gunwoo said.

“Only disappointment,” Insoo added, smiling from behind Gunwoo's left shoulder. Staying at heel, although he looked ready to pounce.

“I'm not going anywhere,” L.Joe said. Settling. It wasn't about showing up CAP or about what was or wasn't bullshit. These were nice hyungs, and the stuff he'd done with Insoo in the store room had been fun, but only one taste of a nice big cake. The hesitation fading at Gunwoo's warm gaze, he felt giddy anticipation pour down his spine, tickling his stomach.

Insoo took that as the signal and moved forward. Gunwoo immediately shoved him back, pushing himself between Insoo and L.Joe. “Me first,” he said, smiling, his fascinating big eyes locking in on L.Joe's mouth. “You already had your turn.” His thumb ran across L.Joe's lower lip. L.Joe hooked his fingers in the belt loops of Gunwoo's pants.

“What turn,” Insoo demanded. “I was in stylist clothes, I couldn't even get off.”

“Then, hyung,” L.Joe said, meeting Gunwoo's mysterious gaze, “why don't you take your turn, and I'll see to the loud one.”

Gunwoo smiled, while Insoo said, “I like how you think.”

 

“I didn't listen to the rumors,” Insoo said, watching L.Joe fix his hair in the mirror. “But now that they stopped, I'm hearing things, real things, whispers, you're getting a reputation.”

“What?” L.Joe frowned at his own reflection. Had some of the guys talked about him? Kikwang, Hoon, Hyuk... or one of their members, or...

“You're getting a reputation and I can see why.” Insoo grinned at him, still lying naked on the bed. Gunwoo hummed in agreement, scattered sideways with his head on Insoo's thigh, halfway under the covers.

L.Joe smiled back, trying not to blush.

“I hear you're a one-hit kind of guy,” Insoo said, “but people change, or have exceptions, yeah? So do it again sometime?”

“No need to answer now,” Gunwoo said. “We'll be here. Just give us a call.”

I want an answer now,” Insoo said, lazily running his fingers over Gunwoo's chest.

“Don't be so pushy to your dongsaengs.”

“Give me a call if you're in the neighborhood,” L.Joe said, putting his cap back on and checking that too in the mirror. The movement looked casual, flippant even. L.Joe resisted the urge to smirk at himself. Did he look as cool to them as he felt? “I make no promises, but, maybe I'll be bored.”

Insoo looked annoyed, but Gunwoo laughed, saying “This kid!”, rolling over on his side to look at him with sparkling eyes. “This was nice,” he said with a friendly smile.

L.Joe nodded. Nice. Nice was a very, very small word. “More than nice,” he allowed himself to admit. “Say hi to Seyong-hyung from me.”

“Oh he'll love that,” Insoo muttered. “He's been fanboying over Teen Top since we ran into you. No offense, but I'm really tired of your songs.”

“He likes you,” Gunwoo said, still watching him.

L.Joe put his hands in his pockets, confused. “He's...?”

“Oh yes,” Gunwoo said. “And the way he talked about you, he got Chaejin going too.”

“Hyungs have first dibs though,” Insoo said. Glared at L.Joe. “Don't you dare call him before us. First dibs still stands.”

Gunwoo patted his leg a little to make him settle down. “It's okay though, that we talk to him about you right? He'll want to hear everything.”

L.Joe licked his lips. If he was already gaining a reputation, there was no stopping that. He might as well go along. “Where's your phone?” Gunwoo pointed to the dresser. L.Joe took his hoodie and cap off, folded down his shirt to seem naked in the camera, and gave the phone his best smoldering look, mouth a little open to show a hint of tongue. “There you go,” he said, handing the phone back to Gunwoo once he'd gotten a satisfactory shot. “Give him that. But remember to delete it.”

Gunwoo chuckled while Insoo took the phone to see the picture, smiling already at the prospect of Seyong's expression.

“See you around,” Gunwoo called once he'd gotten his clothes back on and headed for the door.

“See you,” he winked back at them.

As the door closed behind him, and he strolled along the hotel corridor alone, exhausted but satisfied and feeling on top of the world, he hoped everyone would be asleep when he returned. He really didn't feel like getting this great mood ruined by facing CAP.

 

Chapter Text

“Where do I start... okay so, L.Joe-hyung got a call from Infinite's Sungyeol. They are friends, you know, and Sungyeol had something important to tell him.”

 

Someone called me today and asked about you,” Sungyeol said.

L.Joe picked at his earring and glanced up at the door, checking if they needed him, but the doorway was empty. “Oh? Did they ask about anything fun?”

They asked about the rumors. Someone's assistant from some company or other, asking about your image, your contacts, the rumors that had gone around about you. I asked why they called me, and they said they heard we were close, so maybe I would know more than your managers.”

Sounds like a reporter trying to dig something up,” L.Joe said. He'd thought the rumors were over, there hadn't been a peep for weeks, it was almost magical.

The company was legit though,” Sungyeol said. “Pretty big, investing in media and stuff like that. Maybe it's a background check before they hire you? It was weird.”

Normally they'd go through the company and managers, if nothing else to be polite and start the relationship off well, but there wasn't really anything alarming about it. “Maybe I'm getting a movie contract,” L.Joe joked. “About time.” Their manager popped in, waving at him. “I've got to go.”

I've got a bad feeling about this,” Sungyeol said. “I don't know, it just felt... off. Maybe you should lie low, okay?”

I'll be careful,” L.Joe promised and hung up.

 

“L.Joe-hyung forgot about it, but a few days later he was called away to a meeting and was sat down with some hot shot media people and told he was considered for a big commercial project for music gear from a leading electronics company, starting off with one exclusive product. If all went well with that, all of Teen Top might be taken on for a long-term partnership for coming products. There was a lot of money involved, not to mention the prestige and media exposure, and the safety of a long-term contract. The managers were basically extatic. The final selection of who they would sign with lay with a guy who was involved with designing the stuff, a big name in the industry apparently. That guy wanted to meet with L.Joe-hyung personally, privately, first.”

 

Alone? Isn't it a bit weird?” Ricky asked, looking around at his hyungs.

No, no. He's some rich eccentric,” Niel said, leaning forward making big eyes. “Some old man who walks around in his penthouse in a bathrobe and feeds golden seeds to his sixteen birds.”

L.Joe laughed.

Hyung, I think that qualifies as weird,” Changjo said calmly, Ricky nodding in agreement.

L.Joe checked himself out in the mirror and wondered if he should wear his cap.

You're wearing that?” Chunji came over, looking doubtful.

Following Chunji's eyes in the mirror down from the big brightly patterned sweater to the skinny pale jeans and his oversized favorite shoes with giant brands on the outsides, L.Joe didn't see the problem.

If this is some hotshot rich guy, shouldn't you wear something more... formal?”

I don't have anything,” L.Joe said, because the closest he got was a torn up jacket that might have originally looked vaguely like a suit jacket. If suit jackets were bright blue.

I'm sure he knows what he's getting,” CAP said. “He was in on picking L.Joe wasn't he?”

We're idols, this is how we dress,” L.Joe said, striking a rapper pose in the mirror, putting on his yellow cap. Booya. A little bit of attitude, a little bit of good-natured fun.

Chunji shook his head and gave up. “Whatever you say,” he said and left again.

You're not hooking up with this guy, right?” Changjo asked.

L.Joe shot him a scandalized look. “What?” He held his arms out; what do you think I am?, and stared Changjo down. “Excuse me?”

No, no,” Changjo said, schooling a smile, “just, you look...”

Like a six-year-old in his mother's sweater,” Niel filled in. “That's not his come-get-this look, he's not wearing the earring. Or the jeans.”

The way CAP was smiling at him, L.Joe figured they'd talked about this too behind his back. He took a threatening step towards Niel, who quickly went quiet, but then his phone rang. The manager was outside with the car. When it was clear L.Joe was really going, the members huddled up around him. “Good luck,” Chunji said. “Don't do anything weird,” was Ricky's contribution. “Hyung, don't just stand there now, you have to talk, you need to sell it,” Niel urged.

He might sell it better if he doesn't talk,” Changjo said, keeping respectful distance.

L.Joe reached between CAP and Ricky and punched Changjo's side before leaving. CAP didn't say anything, but his happy smile was better encouragement than the others together.

He wasn't terribly nervous, because meeting people like this had been part of his job for a while now, but when they drove down in an underground parking lot and into a private section his heart beat a little faster nonetheless. The manager came with him up in a private elevator, requiring a code that he'd gotten over the phone, that opened directly into the penthouse. L.Joe stepped out, looking around, only after a few seconds realizing that he'd gone ahead alone. When he turned around, the elevator doors closed. He only got a glimpse of the manager waving good-bye.

Feeling a little exposed, unused to being alone without managers or members around, L.Joe turned back into the room and found a person standing there. Not an old man in a bath robe, but rather a handsome, fit man in a sharp suit. Someone who probably looked younger than he really was. A guy who looked like he had a million dollars at his fingertips, like he probably actually did. Perfect shoes, perfect cufflinks, perfect hair, perfect shiny white teeth when he smiled and greeted. L.Joe bowed deep, feeling out of his depth, and, damned it, underdressed.

I've heard so much about you, it's nice to finally meet,” the guy said. His eyes did a tour of L.Joe's full figure. “You look just as you do in pictures. Which is a compliment; you probably know as well, that not everyone who looks good on camera actually comes off that way in person.” He winked.

L.Joe smiled, embarrassed and proud. “Ah, thank you.”

I noticed you looked around, would you like a tour?”

It's a very nice place,” L.Joe said, not sure whether he was supposed to accept or not.

The guy waved at him to follow. “Come along. I haven't lived here so long that I don't enjoy showing it off,” he said.

The way he walked told L.Joe that his body was just as perfect as the rest of him.

The place was built as a hexagon with a corridor around the rooms in the middle, so they did a full circle. Every room looked like something out of a luxury magazine; classy, expensive, and certainly oozing of a bachelor den. The guy seemed old enough to be married, but L.Joe saw no signs of a woman.

When they got back to the first room with the elevator, L.Joe got caught staring at the same painting as he had when he'd first entered. A cascade of red in abstract forms with stylized edges that made it look like it was moving somehow, vibrating off the canvas.

You like it?” the guy said, standing next to him. “There's something...”

 

“Name!”

Jonghwan glared at Rokhyun. “What?”

“Who is it! You can't just go on about how cool he is and how rich he is and not tell us who it is! Is it an idol? A CEO?”

The rest of 100% leaned in, eyes wide open, waiting for the answer.

“I don't know who he is,” Jonghwan said.

“Aww,” they said in unison, half of them with disappointment, half with disbelief.

“He needs a name for the story though, you can't just keep saying 'that guy',” Chanyong said. “It's going to get annoying.”

“Call him Mr. X,” Minwoo suggested.

“Eeeeh,” Rokhyun said, and Jonghwan agreed. That just sounded stupid.

The other guys started making up worse names though. White Teeth, Cool Guy, Slick. “Fine, fine, Mr. X it is,” Jonghwan said. “Can I continue now?”

“Was it really his apartment? Would someone call a meeting in his own home?” Sanghoon asked.

“I heard someone say they met at the company office,” Rokhyun said.

“Broadcasting station,” Hyukjin said, leaning forward so much that he stood up. “Infinite said it was a broadcasting station.”

“Whatever!” Jonghwan snapped. “Who cares! Do you want to hear the story or not?”

“Go on, go on,” Minwoo urged, pushing Hyukjin back into his seat.

 

You like it?” the guy said, standing next to him. “There's something about that one, that's why it's hanging out here, so whoever comes sees it first. There's a certain power in it, don't you think?”

Mm,” L.Joe said, nodding. It felt alive. Not only that, but aware, threatening but also alluring somehow. The beauty of a tiger at arm's length, wanting to touch it, tame it, but knowing it could pounce at any time. “It's like a tiger.”

Oh?” the guy looked at him, surprised and impressed, L.Joe thought. Then back at the painting. “Yes. Yes, you're right. You're the first one I've shown it to who could capture it so well in so few words. Most people don't even get it, I think, they just nod with whatever I say.”

L.Joe wasn't sure the tiger comment made any sense, after the fact, but since it apparently worked out so well he was pleased with himself for coming up with it.

Someone who understands a thing like this, the beauty of a thing like this,” Mr. X said, gesturing to the painting but looking at L.Joe all the time now, “that's who I'd want to speak for my products. Even if you don't understand the exact specifications or the technical bits for why it's so great, you could see the reason for the shapes. For the heart that went into it. The soul.”

L.Joe blinked back at him, nodding, trying to look like he was exactly that person.

And you obviously know how to present yourself,” Mr. X said, with a brief gesture to his body. “I understand that you're a singer, but what's your relationship to music? Wait, I forgot to offer you something to drink, you got me all worked up. Come sit down, let's talk properly.”

L.Joe was guided to a lounge and a couch and coffee table in a lowered section in the middle. Sitting there the skillful lighting made the rest of the room feel enormous, full of space and air, while the decorations populated it and gave it life instead of clinical emptiness. L.Joe said yes to the drink he was offered, after Mr. X jokingly asked if he was old enough.

Let's not get into trouble,” he grinned before going to pour the drinks, and came back and handed L.Joe the drink before sitting down with him.

Sipping just a few drops, L.Joe felt the alcohol go down his throat, smooth and burning, somehow the distilled taste of everything he was seeing.

Naturally you're a singer,” Mr. X said, “but what's your feeling of music?”

I'm a rapper, actually,” L.Joe said.

Right, right, sorry. Go ahead, don't be embarrassed, tell me.”

It's about the beat,” L.Joe said, fondling the glass, looking at the stone coffee table, trying to gather his thoughts and find that part of himself that had come up with the tiger comment. “For a rapper, a good beat is all it takes. It's like food; it's the thing you can't live without. Everything else is side dishes and spices, all the little things that, if you do it just right, creates... something great.”

A masterpiece,” Mr. X helped.

L.Joe nodded. “A masterpiece. Like art.”

Music is an art,” Mr. X said, with a hint of an amused smile.

Yes, but, classical music and things like that, it's great, but...” he paused. What he was about to say was prehaps too stupid. He couldn't bash classical music in front of a man like this, he probably went to the opera and everything.

But?”

Agh too late. “It has to feel right. To the person who listens. It's not just about being great... like the painting out there? Some people don't get it, right, because it doesn't feel right to them. You have to feel music. In your heart, in your bones.”

A personal connection... the beat in your heart – in your heart specifically – hm. I like it. It's not a bad sales pitch.” Mr. X leaned back in the couch, thinking, one finger tapping the armrest. “Music from the creator's heart to yours, a direct line between souls. The right feeling.”

L.Joe nodded, impressed. It already sounded like something from a poster.

Then your music is... your heart? Being transmitted to your listeners, to your fans. Having the best equipment will send that message with as little corruption as possible.” Mr. X smiled at him, eyes sparkling. “With our speakers, you'll get the authentic feel of L.Joe whispering right in your ear.”

L.Joe laughed, embarrased, rubbed his neck and took another sip. The stuff was strong, but too good, he was drinking it too quickly. He set the glass on the table to slow himself down and rubbed his hands.

Are you cold? There's some problem with the heating, I can't seem to get the right settings,” Mr. X said, leaning forward, concerned.

No, no, I'm fine,” L.Joe said.

A few drinks and you won't feel it, but I don't want to get the big star sick, your company will whine my ear off. I'll turn it up a little.” He got up and left.

It was weird to be waited on by a guy like this, it should be the other way around, but Mr. X was making it so easy for him. Maybe he was a fan? L.Joe laughed at the thought. Not a guy like that. But he'd thought he'd have to show off and make an effort, and instead it was almost like the other way around.

Not that he was complaining.

Mr. X returned, and took his glass and refilled it. L.Joe drank from it to not seem ungrateful.

I have the greatest respect for rappers,” Mr. X said, sitting down and crossing his legs. “Not just working with the words but the rhythm of language. I've never been able to do it. It takes a great understanding of music, I think. Many of the rappers I know write music and lyrics too.”

I'm actually interested in composing,” L.Joe said, deciding to take the opportunity to self-promote a little. “I already do a little, but there's not much time with all our schedule.”

Really? Something I can hear?”

L.Joe brought out his phone and found his latest pet project; he carried it around to work on it a little now and then when he had a moment. Was it too familiar to move over to Mr. X's side of the table? He put on speaker and started the track and put the phone on the table. Mr. X listened attentively, tilting his head and sipping from his glass. It wasn't a full-length song, so when it ended, Mr. X looked surprised.

It's not finished,” L.Joe explained.

It has lyrics?” Mr. X asked.

A little.”

Can I hear those too?”

I, um, I don't know them, they're also,” he picked up the phone and tapped up the text file where he worked on them. It wasn't much so far, and he was far less satisfied than with the music. It would be great if he could work with someone for that, he thought.

Mr. X gestured at him to come around and sit on his side, so L.Joe sat next to him and held out the phone and Mr. X leaned in to read the screen.

Is it rap or singing?”

Singing,” L.Joe said.

Sing it for me?” When L.Joe made a burdened expression, Mr. X playfully patted his arm. “Go on, I want to hear your singing voice.”

That was the problem, L.Joe thought. He was a rapper. He could hold a tone, sure, but he didn't have any singing parts in Teen Top for a reason. But he didn't have much of a choice, did he. If the guy said jump, he had to jump. He cleared his throat and played the music track and sang.

It was lucky it was short, because it was terrible. He wasn't warmed up, and too nervous. When the lyrics ended the music continued on, and L.Joe hung his head, mortified. Ah, he was screwed, why had he even brought up the composing.

Good to know you're not great at everything,” Mr. X said.

L.Joe couldn't discern if he was being supportive or taunting him. He tossed his hair out of his eyes and licked his lips, about to say something, when Mr. X's hand landed on his thigh and he lost the words.

There's always ways to make up for one's weaknesses, though,” Mr. X said, smiling calmly at him like his hand wasn't where it was.

L.Joe tried a stiff smile back. His heart was racing, his mind as well. He felt trapped. Did the elevator require the code to open from this floor too? He tried to remember if there had been a keypad near it. But it was a useless question, really, because the trap wasn't defined in walls or doors. If Mr. X said jump, he had to jump.

Mr. X took his hand off his leg to pick up the drink and hand it to him. “You didn't like it?”

L.Joe drank some. “It's very good,” he said. Ah, was he getting drunk? Maybe it was best to get drunk. He took another sip, a larger one. Mr. X smiled and told him some story about where he'd gotten the bottle and how exclusive it was. He drank some more.

What the hell was he doing? Was he getting drunk because he was going to do what Mr. X wanted? L.Joe stared down into the glass, disgusted with himself, quietly panicking over the situation. He was getting very warm, the alcohol was lighting tinders in his stomach. He nodded dutifully at Mr. X's story and fanned himself a little.

Ah, maybe I turned it up too much,” Mr. X said, loosening his tie. L.Joe's eyes got stuck on his hand, on his long, strong fingers hooked around the silky fabric. “I'm sorry, I really can't figure it out.”

He went on about the bottle again, but quickly stopped. “Sorry, it just, it really became too warm.” He took his suit jacket and tie off entirly, throwing it carelessly over the back of the couch, and opened up the top button of his shirt.

There was a casual elegance in how he moved. L.Joe had to admit that he'd been vaguely attracted to it from the start. Like the expensive things he surrounded himself with had ingrained some of their character in him.

Are you excited about the contract?” Mr. X asked. “I don't know if you feel comfortable talking about money, but seeing where I live, you must understand that it's a subject I spent quite a lot of my time talking about.”

L.Joe nodded. “It's not just the money,” he said. “Well, of course it's the money too. But it would be a really great opportunity.”

Is that what the managers told you to say?” Mr. X smiled. “Don't be so modest, it doesn't suit you. Someone like that, someone like you, who wears things like this that say look at me, should be a bit cheeky about it, don't you think?” He touched L.Joe's sweater, feeling the fabric.

L.Joe was boiling in the sweater. “I mean it though. The money is really nice, I'm not saying it isn't, but it'd be..” he grinned at himself, could he really say this? “It'd be very cool to see myself on those big commercial screens.” His mother would record all the TV commercials and show all her friends, he acted like it was terribly embarrassing but he loved it.

Mr. X smiled wide and nodded. “That's more like it,” he said.

There was a hunger in that smile that made L.Joe turn down his head and sip another few drops of his drink. He really needed to get out of this sweater, and he really didn't want to take it off. Mr. X might take it as encouragement. He took off his hat as a compromise and set it on the table.

While Mr. X asked about various money-related things, like expensive foods he liked and what car he would want, he turned it over in his head. Was it really that terrible? If there was no pressure, if Mr. X wasn't the guy he was, wouldn't he be interested? Mr. X looked good, seemed nice, and that he was a little older just meant he was bound to have experience. It could be great.

The problem wasn't really Mr. X himself, was it. It was the situation it put L.Joe in. If he did it once, then, for a long-term partnership in business, would he be obliged to keep doing it? And if he agreed to a favor, would Mr. X start demanding more?

I was always partial to opals,” Mr. X said, “but you strike me as the diamond kind of man.” He leaned closer and touched L.Joe's earring.

L.Joe drank some more, feeling shy, then smiled back. “Pink diamonds,” he admitted. “Ever since I was small, I thought they were pretty.”

Mr. X's eyes narrowed for a moment, then he got out of the couch. “Come,” he said, holding out a hand. L.Joe stood up without taking it.

Standing up for the first time in... what was the time? A long while, anyway, L.Joe finally felt hos drunk he was. He took Mr. X's hand to steady himself and was led through the hexagon into a bedroom. White walls, giant dark wooden bed, red carpet. Very dramatic.

Mr. X opened what looked like a section of the wall, tapped in a code and pulled out a drawer. A myriad of jewelry lay organized within. L.Joe stared at it, speechless. The contents of that drawer was probably worth...

Mr. X picked something up. “Turn that way.” He pushed L.Joe a little to turn, and then his fingers were on L.Joe's ear, gently taking out the earring and putting in a new one. No way.

L.Joe was led over to a full-body mirror on the wall opposite the bed. He walked up close to it and turned his head. The stone in his ear was spherical with tiny cut surfaces. Pink diamond, glittering at him as he moved his head.

As a child he'd seen a stone like this on TV, in a documentary about how they were found and made. He'd been amazed at the work it had taken. Digging it up from the core of the earth where it'd been for millions or years, carefully cutting it just right so it didn't crack. “It's all that honest hard work and love of the craft of so many people crystallized into a tiny stone,” his mother had said. “It's beautiful.”

It was beautiful. He'd always had that in the back of his head, since long before he decided to try to become an idol, that one day he'd want to buy one, and that would be the symbol of a successful career. Now it was right here, in his ear, in his reach.

He could see Mr. X watching him in the mirror. “It suits you,” Mr. X said, nodding. “Good choice. Your taste really is flawless.”

No matter what would happen next, no matter where life would take him, he'd always be grateful to Mr. X for letting him see it. But he had to turn away now, or he'd be staring into the mirror all night. Turning back to Mr. X, he fumbled with the earring.

No, no.” Mr. X stepped in close and caught his hands. “Keep it. I can't wear it now, that I've seen where it belongs.”

Oh god. “I can't...”

I insist. Don't feel burdened or indebted, it's my obligation to let such a beautiful thing remain in its right place. It's a gift, please.”

Thank you,” L.Joe said, because what could he say.

Mr. X gave him a skewed smile and said, “There's something I have to confess.”

Yes?”

I approached the company about recruiting you. I've... been a fan, for a while now. In fact, I got rid of the rumors for you. I understand they were quite bothersome. I wasn't going to tell you, but,I want you to know that they're gone for good. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again.”

L.Joe didn't know how to react. It was insanely flattering for someone to go through so much trouble for his sake, but... why? He didn't know how to feel about someone spending so much time and effort and money for his sake, without him asking for it.

You don't owe me anything,” Mr. X assured him. “I did it because I wanted to. Because you are so, damned... talented.” His smile sent lightning up L.Joe's spine. “And sexy.”

L.Joe's heart was racing. Mr. X was staring at the earring, and then, staring at L.Joe. Gently pushing L.Joe's arms down, he came closer still, and leaned forward and caught L.Joe's lips with his.

Heat surged through L.Joe, from his toes to his fingertips. He moaned helplessly and tugged a little on his hands, but Mr. X held him in place as his tongue invaded L.Joe's mouth. He tasted of the same alcohol as L.Joe had been drinking, smooth and expensive and warm, and his tongue did things none of the boys L.Joe had kissed so far had known to do.

Mr. X's hands released him to crawl under the front of his shirt and slide up his torso, before he broke the kiss to pull the sweater over L.Joe's head. Good, L.Joe was glad to be rid of it, it was way too hot in here. He wore only a simple black t-shirt underneath, but Mr. X didn't even glance at it, just dove back in and took possession of L.Joe's mouth again.

They were moving in the direction of the bed, and then Mr. X's hands slipped around his waist and dug down the back of his pants, and it jerked L.Joe into a moment of clarity through the drunken haze.

What the hell was he doing?

No, no,” he said into the kiss, working himself out of Mr. X's arms and finally got some distance between them. “I'm sorry,” he said. He shook his head and couldn't bring himself to look at Mr. X. “I can't.”

What the hell was he doing!

That's not what I heard,” Mr. X said. His tone was like being hit with cold water. L.Joe's head snapped up, at the same time as Mr. X lowered his gaze. “I'm sorry,” he said, rubbing his temple. “That was... uncalled for.” He licked his lips slowly, and looked about to try to convince him.

L.Joe fled. Snapped up his sweater and rushed out of the room and got to the elevator. His heart was hammering in his chest as he pushed the button. The elevator ticked up and the doors opened, and he stepped inside and hit the 'down' button. Nothing happened. Desperately looking around, he found the keypad. Shit. The sound of Mr. X's steps coming down the hallway had his insides curling together.

Mr. X walked right up against his back, leaned over him and punched in a code.

Why don't you think about it,” Mr. X said gently into his ear. “And I'll think about what to tell the company about our partnership.” He left the elevator.

L.Joe turned towards him, and his hand came up to his ear as he remembered the earring.

Keep it,” Mr. X said. “Let it remind you of how generous I can be, to the people I like.”

The doors soundlessly shut and the elevator began its descent. L.Joe rememebred how to breathe. Then laughed, as if the tension had gathered up and made him lose his mind. This couldn't be happening, why did it have to be him, things like this happened on TV, not off-camera! His legs felt wobbly, he told himself it was because he was drunk, so he leaned against the wall and curled up and wondered what the hell he was going to do.

Before he entered the dorm, he took the earring out and stored it in his pocket. It would raise some questions that he simply couldn't answer.

 

“So, um, is this a porn story?” Hyukjin asked. “Because I'm not sure I'm on board for that.”

“Less details,” Changbum agreed.

“More details,” Rokhyun cheered. Sanghoon, with an arm around his shoulders, leaned in and snickered with him.

“You're embarrassing Minwoo-hyung,” Chanyong said.

Minwoo laughed and pushed him, but his ears were a little red.

“You wanted the story, I'm telling the story,” Jonghwan said. “If you don't want it...”

“We want it censored,” Hyukjin said.

“We want it 19+,” Rokhyun cheered. “All the sordid details! Did he really not get it on with Mr. X? Not even some hand action?”

“Shut up, shut up!” Sanghoon slapped his shoulder, amused.

“How are you talking to your hyung,” Hyukjin chuckled at him.

“Sure, lots of hand action, actually they screwed right there, and L.Joe ran out afterwards,” Jonghwan said, nodding to himself. “And Mr. X was hung like a...”

“Stop, stop! We'll stop interrupting.” Changbum held up his hands. Chanyong was holding his hands over his ears, while Sanghoon was laughing into Rokhyun's back.

“We have to hear the rest,” Minwoo nodded encouragingly. “Don't mind the kids; stick to the truth.”

“How do you even know all this?” Hyukjin asked, eyes narrowing dangerously.

Jonghwan hurried to continue. “L.Joe-sunbae didn't tell anyone. Talking about it seemed like accepting that it was real. He hid the earring where he knew the other members wouldn't find it, and mulled over the issue the whole following day, knowing that Mr. X wouldn't patiently sit by and wait. The managers were already on his case, demanding a report of yesterday and scolding him for not closing the deal.”

 

L.Joe flicked the pencil across the table and watched it fall clattering to the floor.

C'mon hyung, smile,” Changjo said, waving to the crowd.

L.Joe looked out at the myriad of faces, most of them smiling, some hiding or whispering to the people next to them. He should be happy, he usually was at fan meetings. Even if this one was a rather small one, things like these always made him feel the reality of what he was doing. He loved being Teen Top's L.Joe, sometimes he couldn't bear the thought of it ending someday.

Ending, like it could, if he handled this wrong. The rumors had been unsettling, but this was on a completely different level. Mr. X was a big name, with a lot of influence and money. Piss him off, and doors previously open could slam shut in his face, not just the current deal, but a lot of other things down the road. There were stories in the business about idols that had pissed off the wrong producers or people like that and been completely shut down, had been forced to smile and wave goodbye in what looked like voluntary retirement. And if Mr. X had stopped the rumors about L.Joe, he sure could start them up again, although that would be a minor issue compared to the problems he could cause.

What was worse still, was that it wouldn't just be L.Joe. All of Teen Top would suffer. He'd already caused so much trouble for them.

He'd sacrificed so much to get here. How much was he willing to sacrifice to stay? The answer was terrifyingly simple and left a bitter taste in the back of his throat.

Everything.

He took Ricky's pencil and flicked it across the table, and watched it fall off the far end.

 

“Okay, wait, wait, wait.” Hyukjin held up one finger. “If this is some warning story about how L.Joe sold his soul for his career and it went to hell, I will kill you.”

“Stop interrupting, this will take all night,” Sanghoon complained.

“This is all true, right?” Minwoo said. “This is what happened, not something you've made up?”

“It's true,” Jonghwan assured them.

“I still want to know how he knows it,” Hyukjin said, but was shushed by Sanghoon.

 

The next day L.Joe came back to the practice room after a visit to the bathroom and was met by cheers and Teen Top knocking him over and piling on him. After some agonizing moments of actually not being able to breathe, he managed to crawl away.

What, what is this?”

You got it!” Niel said, high-fiving CAP for no comprehensible reason. “The manager called right now and said your're on!”

Congratulations,” Chunji said, smiling.

You're still gonna remember your old Teen Top pals when you're rich right? You'll make sure we're provided for?” Niel huddled up next to him. “Because we're best friends, right?”

L.Joe pushed him away and was immediately accosted by Chunji from the other side. “He's my best friend,” Chunji protested. “Go climb on CAP-hyung.”

He'd gotten the deal? How? L.Joe tried to think but was being pulled in two directions by Chunji and Ricky, while Niel and Changjo were singing some improvised song about eating steak every day.

YA!” he wrestled his arms free. “Ah, you're tearing my arms off!” He rolled his shoulders and punched Chunji to keep him away. His members were like puppies that got too excited and crashed everything in their path.

Hyung, aren't you happy?” Ricky asked.

What did the manager say, exactly?”

That the deal was mostly finished, just needed a few signatures,” CAP said. “They wanted you to go over and sign the papers tonight.”

Go where?”

That rich guy had them, everything else is ready, it just needs your name on a dotted line and boom, baby,” Niel thrust his hips.

Of course. L.Joe couldn't move, his body had stopped listening to commands.

Aren't you happy?” Ricky asked again.

These foolish, happy members. They were mostly annoying, and sometimes he was jealous of them, and he bullied them because being affectionate was embarrassing, and sometimes he felt like they'd run him over if he didn't push them down and draw up boundries with his fists, but he loved them, too. They worked just as hard as he did, sacrificed just as much to get here, they would sacrifice more to keep them together. He had to do the same.

Of course I'm happy, you idiot,” L.Joe said, pushing Ricky's head away, smiling like his life depended on it.

Screw practice, let's go get you dressed to meet the big man,” Niel decided.

L.Joe desperately tried to keep a happy face, while his members went through his clothes and fought over what he should wear. Eventually they settled on jeans and a white shirt with black seams and Chunji insisted on glasses.

The manager came around. L.Joe didn't have an opportunity to fetch the pink diamond earring because someone was always all over him, most of the time Chunji.

The papers are drawn up and ready,” the manager told him. “You just need to sign them, we've already looked at them and made sure they're okay.”

Did he say why he wanted to meet me again?” L.Joe asked.

He said you made a deal to sign together,” the manager said, looking a little surprised. “You didn't?”

I thought it was a joke,” L.Joe said dismissively, covering quickly.

Well, this guy doesn't joke, it seems,” the manager said. “Ready to go?”

He'd never be ready for this.

The manager noticed he was nervous and tried to calm him by talking about how great the job would be, and how he deserved it. He didn't deserve anything, L.Joe thought. Mr. X had checked up on him through Sungyeol and who knew who else, and decided to move on him. The whole deal was a set-up; L.Joe's career was just a play in this guy's playbook. What would it be like to piss off a guy like that? What would it be like to make him happy?

Back up the elevator, into the lion's den. L.Joe's palms were sweaty, he kept wiping them against his jeans. Mr. X met them at the elevator, all smiles, shaking the manager's hand before sending him off. Then put his arm around L.Joe's shoulders and led him to the couches, talking in a friendly tone. As if this was a friendly visit, nothing else.

There were two glasses of champagne on the table, along with the papers. Mr. X handed him a glass and gestured to the stack.

L.Joe flipped through a few pages for show. He didn't know what it was supposed to say, and what it did say told him little.

Seems fair?” Mr. X asked.

There were two dotted lines that were not signed. One for L.Joe, marked with yellow marker, and one supposedly for Mr. X. L.Joe's heart was beating fast again. He tossed his hair out of his eyes and blinked, trying to clear away the pressing headache that was forming. “I don't really know this stuff, but they tell me it's fair,” he said, his voice sounding strange and tense. He swept half the glass of champagne, hoping it would calm his nerves.

I'm not really talking about the contract,” Mr. X said.

All business today then. L.Joe took new breath. “I forgot the earring,” he said, licking his lips. “Can I borrow one for today?”

Mr. X smiled. The smile of a winner. “Of course,” he said, holding his hand out. L.Joe took it and got out of the couch, and back to the bedroom with the drawer full of jewelry. While L.Joe got to look through it, Mr. X came up to him from behind, running his hands over L.Joe's shoulders. “White gold,” he said, “for this outfit, don't you think?” He pointed to a set of earrings shaped like wings and a necklace that went with it.

L.Joe ran his fingers over the shapes. The idea of what they might be worth was making him dizzy. Concentrating on that, he put one earring on and headed for the mirror. Mr. X followed him with the necklace and, in front of the mirror, put it around his neck, clasping the chain and correcting it under the shirt collar. And unbuttoned another button to make sure it showed. As if by accident, his fingertips slid over L.Joe's chest before he backed off.

L.Joe watched the glittering white gold and thought to himself, what was the difference, really, between this and the others? Mr. X would be fun, same as Kikwang or Hoon or the MYNAME hyungs. It didn't make him any more or less a whore than he already was. The difference, he told his mirror image, was that he was finally paid what he was worth.

He lifted his head, stuck his chin out, tried to look the same as he'd done in the mirror behind Hoon, or the mirror in the hotel room with the MYNAME hyungs watching him dress. This was the real L.Joe. Nothing more, nothing less. He met Mr. X's eyes in the mirror; hungry, roaming eyes that knew to appreciate what they saw. The little smile he gave Mr. X was just perfect, so sexy he turned himself on. “Let's sign then,” he said, feeling heat spread through his body.

They returned to the room, L.Joe drank the rest of the champagne and signed his name, and Mr. X refilled his glass and signed his. L.Joe watched all the signatures, no more empty spaces, and suddenly he couldn't breathe.

I, um, bathroom?” he asked.

Mr. X showed him the way. “No rush, I should make a call,” he said.

L.Joe closed and locked the bathroom door and sat on the toilet seat and ran his hands through his hair. What the hell was he doing. Trapped between impossible and can't, and he still couldn't breathe. He woke up his phone and stared at the numbers. He couldn't talk to his members, he felt too responsible for them. And no way could he talk to any family. There was only Sungyeol, but Infinite was probably busy.

He tapped Sungyeol's name anyway. Sungyeol picked up after two tones.

L.Joe?”

He rested his forehead in his hand. “I'm going to do it,” he said. Maybe trying to convince himself.

What?” Sungyeol said. He sounded a little tired, maybe he'd been sleeping.

I'm... right now, I'm... I'm going to do something really stupid. Or I don't know. I have to.”

What's going on?” Worried now.

I'm in a penthouse. With a guy who, he could get me anything I want. Could make my career into anything I want. All I have to do is,” he licked his lips. “All I have to do is the same stuff I do all the time to strangers anyway.”

Get out of there,” Sungyeol said, with some kind of forced calm, like they were standing in front of a wild animal and he didn't want to frighten it.

I can't,” L.Joe said. “Teen Top... he could destroy them. Us. I can't.”

Is he threatening you?”

Mr. X hadn't said anything like that. No warnings, only promises of how great it would be, but all the time, beneath the smile, there was this dangerous hardness in his eyes.

L.Joe. Byunghun-ah. Get out of there, now,” Sungyeol said, deciding that L.Joe's silence must mean yes.

I want to do it,” L.Joe said. “He can see me. The real me, in the mirror, he can make me into that guy. I want to.” His head was a little foggy, because he didn't get enough air.

Mirror? What are you... Then why did you call me?”

He didn't have an answer to that.

We'll figure it out,” Sungyeol promised. “Whoever he is, we'll figure it out. For now you have to get out of there. You don't want to, is this the guy you want to be? Jesus,” he breathed. “Is this still happening in this business, I can't believe it. This guy's a bully, you can't do it.”

I can.” The decision was settling, his chest was relaxing, he could breathe again.

Byunghun-ah,” Sungyeol said, “what would your mother say?”

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. The pink diamond. It's all that honest hard work and love of the craft of so many people crystallized into this tiny stone. It's beautiful, she'd said, his mother. It was the symbol of a successful career that he'd dreamed of ever since he was small. If he got it this way, what did it mean? Nothing. Could he live with that? Maybe. Could he look his mother in the eyes again?

Never.

Fuck,” he said.

I'm pretty sure she wouldn't say that,” Sungyeol said.

Fuck, what am I doing.”

That's what I'm saying.”

I don't know what...” How was he doing this? Just leave? Try to soften the blow? “He's going to kill Teen Top.”

We'll solve that later,” Sungyeol said. “There must be a way to get him off your back. I'll start looking into it right away. You get the fuck out of that place, L.Joe, alright? Jesus, this kid, I can't leave him alone for a second before he gets into trouble.”

Sungyeol.”

Yeah?”

If I... if I don't call you again tonight, can you, um...”

Sungyeol paused for a second, maybe realizing how critical the situation actually was. “ Give me the address. If you don't call me again inside an hour I'll get help.”

L.Joe gave him the address.

Shit that's a fancy neighborhood. Alright, good luck.”

Thank you.”

He hung up. Hell, this wasn't going to be fun. A part of him wanted to run directly to the elevator, but that was childish. Instead he returned to the couches, where Mr. X was sitting talking on the phone. When L.Joe entered he hung up and got up.

Everything okay?”

He was just a man. As if the realization of what he was actually considering doing had snapped him out of some enchantment, the place, the person, had lost all shine and allure. It was just an overpriced apartment filled with pretentious artworks, and a man in a suit.

I changed my mind,” L.Joe said, feeling oddly calm.

Mr. X's eyes narrowed slightly. “You already signed,” he said.

Not about the contract,” L.Joe said. “And luckily the other stuff isn't in writing.”

Maybe we should talk about this,” Mr. X said.

I don't think there's anything to talk about.”

I think there's a lot,” Mr. X said, and his voice had changed tone, to a cold, harsh negotiatior's. “I told you I got the rumors to go away.”

I'm very thankful for that,” L.Joe said.

Maybe you should show me how thankful you are, because I'm not convinced you understand what a danger to you they were. Or how easily such things could start again.”

Well, there came the threats. If L.Joe had been torn in his decision, he was sure he was doing the right thing now. Getting involved with such a person could only be even more dangerous. “I'm sorry if I was leading you on,” he said.

You understand,” Mr. X said, “that it was quite a project to set all this up? I can't in good conscience recommend the company to go through with this, if my incentive is gone. Professionally speaking, it's not a profitable arrangement.”

You mean I'm not actually the person you'd want for the job,” L.Joe said, “you just wanted a taste of what everyone else was having.”

A brief expression flashed over Mr. X's face before he composed himself. An ugly one. “There's no need to be like that. I'm merely stating the obvious. Or did you think no one else was choosing you because they were all asleep?”

One day they will,” L.Joe swore. “Because I work hard. Because we do, because we're Teen Top. Not because some old man has to pay to get some.”

Mr. X sighed. Like the world was conspiring against him; like he couldn't believe he was suffering this.

L.Joe took the earring and the necklace off and put it on the table. “I'll return the diamond later,” he promised.

Keep it,” Mr. X said, flipping his hand like it didn't matter.

L.Joe shook his head. “I don't want it. I'll buy one for myself. When I've earned it.”

Mr. X shook his head with disbelief. “I don't know why I got it in my head to go after a child,” he said. “I guess that's why I get to hear childish idealism. Serves me right.” He picked up the two champagne glasses and pushed one into L.Joe's hand and clinked his own glass against it. “For foolish youth,” he said and drank.

Fine. If this kept them on reasonably good footing. L.Joe drank some.

He still had the glass up when Mr. X tossed his aside. It shattered against the floor as Mr. X grabbed his shirt and hauled him sideways. L.Joe flailed, trying to hold his balance, but was tipped over the couch. He had his own glass still in his hand, and had his head full trying not to slam it against anything and get glass shards all over himself. Mr. X gracefully lept over him and pinned him to the couch with his knee. L.Joe dropped the glass on the carpet.

There wasn't time to think or speak. His instincts took care of it for him, fighting back, but they also told him what he already knew; he'd let himself believe what he wanted to believe, instead of being prepared. He'd gotten surprised, and as a much, much lighter, smaller guy, that meant he'd already lost. Now all he could do was try to be too vicious to be worth the effort, but despite all his efforts, he felt the buttons in his shirt pop.

Mr. X caught his hands. “Calm down,” he said.

Bastard was still so calm. L.Joe wrenched his hand free and dug his nails into his neck.

Cursing, Mr. X swept his arm away and punched his side, full force. L.Joe groaned and lost his breath, suddenly just trying to fend off more punches, defending himself for his life. Mr. X paused, which let him catch his breath.

We could have had a nice evening,” Mr. X said, tearing L.Joe's shirt open properly. “Fine food, good sex, I could have gotten you whatever you wanted.” He leaned down over L.Joe and whispered in his ear. “Instead I'm going to tear your ass apart. I'm going to fuck you until you cry and beg me to stop, and then I'll go even harder.”

Another hard blow connected with L.Joe's ribs, topped off with a sharp pain. Mr. X's ring had torn his skin, he saw his own blood on the man's hand.

Sungyeol,” L.Joe tried to say, but didn't have enough breath, he wanted to warn him that Sungyeol would call for help. But an hour, it had barely been ten minutes, a lot of things could happen in an hour, and it would take some time after that before help actually arrived. Panic was threatening to overtake him, he had to fight it off just as much as he fought to stop Mr. X from getting his pants open.

Not like this, not like this, it wasn't supposed to happen like this!

Or was this what he deserved? Having honestly considered going through with it, selling out like this, he was a whore, and what did you do with whores?

For a second he stopped fighting. Better just lie back and let him do it, at least he wouldn't get hit again. But then Sungyeol's voice was in his head, and the anger was back, and he gathered everything he had and swiped at Mr. X's face. Mr. X cried out as L.Joe's nails raked his eye, and L.Joe punched at his crotch for lack of better targets and managed to roll off the couch. His hip banged against the table, and fuck, the glass, he caught himself awkwardly to not land on the champagne glass and his head hit the steps where the floor was lowered. Everything spun, and he got a weird taste of metal in his mouth. Blood?

He was rolled over, and Mr. X stood over him, one fancy shoe resting lightly, threateningly, on his stomach. “You little fucking...!”

There was a loud noise, something like a doorbell. Mr. X looked up, frowning. L.Joe kicked his leg out under him. While Mr. X went down, he crawled up, going on willpower, stumbling towards the elevator. He pushed the button to call the elevator and relief briefly flooded him, before he realized. The code, he didn't know the fucking code, no, he knew the code, he'd seen it when Mr. X entered it the first time, if he could just fucking remember...

Mr. X's steps in the corridor echoed in his head. He leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. He was too dizzy, and out of strength. This was it then. Game over. He might as well...

The elevator pinged and the doors opened. Mr. X arrived, and stopped, and stared into it. L.Joe leaned around the corner. A pizza guy?

Hello,” the guy said.

What is this?” Mr. X demanded, dumbfounded.

Your pizza,” the guy said. “That'll be...”

I haven't ordered anything.”

It's this address,” the guy said flatly. He probably got this a lot.

Mr. X didn't seem to know what to say.

I don't think he wants it,” L.Joe said. He barely recognized his own voice, he spoke so sluggishly. With determination that came from every fiber of his being, he stumbled into the elevator. It felt safer there, although he still didn't... he stared at the keypad. He did remember. He didn't remember the numbers, but he remembered the positions of the buttons he'd pressed. Feeling like he'd won a million dollars, he entered the code and watched the doors slide shut between him and the stunned Mr. X.

You don't look so well,” the pizza guy said.

I just need to go home and sleep it off,” L.Joe said. “Give me a ride? I'll pay for the pizzas, and some extra.”

The guy shrugged. “Alright.”

 

“Really?” Hyukjin said. “Pizza delivery?”

The rest of 100% looked equally disbelieving.

Jonghwan shrugged. “I know it sounds incredibly stupid, but that's what he said happened.”

“Who said?” Sanghoon asked.

“L.Joe-sunbae,” Jonghwan admitted. “He told me most of this himself. More or less, not exactly in these words.”

“Why would he tell you anything,” Minwoo asked.

“Pizza delivery?” Hyukjin repeated, looking around. “Um, you don't think...”

“What?” Jonghwan asked.

Chanyong and and Minwoo looked uncomfortable.

“What?”

“Maybe he didn't want to tell you what really happened,” Minwoo said slowly. “Because it sounds much more likely, doesn't it, that no one came. Until Sungyeol called for help, but by then...”

Jonghwan was stunned. He hadn't thought of that. Now Rokhyun and Sanghoon also looked uncomfortable.

“It's too stupid,” Changbum said. “L.Joe-sunbae could have just skipped the whole part entirely. Why tell anyone that he was attacked? Why not just say they parted like that, flinging insults at each other, end of story?”

“He's not that clever,” Hyukjin offered.

“He's not that stupid,” Jonghwan said, shaking his head. “Look, I actually believe it. I know it sounds crazy, but...”

“You're gullible,” Chanyong said.

“Let's drop it,” Minwoo decided. “Whatever happened, we don't need to know.”

Everyone nodded.

“Is that the end?” Sanghoon asked, like he felt it wasn't.

“Not exactly,” Jonghwan said. “You wanted me to tell you who got rid of the rumors about L.Joe-sunbae, and that's that. But, obviously, there's some more.”

“Because Mr. X doesn't sound like someone who would let that slide, does he,” Rokhyun said. “He'd take revenge.”

“Aaah,” Hyukjin said. “I know this part! Suddenly it makes so much sense, what I overheard Infinite H talk about!”

“You want to tell it?” Jonghwan offered.

“No, no, you do it.”

“If they want to hear it.”

“We do,” Minwoo and Sanghoon said at the same time.

“Alright,” Jonghwan said. “So L.Joe returned like that, banged up and with pizza. Teen Top didn't understand what had happened, but he wasn't in a state to explain either, so they put him to bed and waited until morning.”

 

Alright,” Niel said, arms crossed, blocking the path from the bathroom to L.Joe's room.

L.Joe was too tired to say or do anything, so they just stood there.

That's not a hangover,” CAP said, “and you weren't drunk, last night. So what did you take?”

Did that rich guy get you on something?” Niel asked.

Changjo showed up and pulled L.Joe's sleeves up and checked his arms.

What are you doing?” Niel asked.

Checking for needle marks,” Changjo said.

L.Joe pushed him away, groaning. Moving hurt. Just standing there hurt. He just wanted to sleep some more.

Changjo continued his search, lifting his shirt. L.Joe made a bleak attempt at pushing him away, but he didn't have the energy to do it properly, even though he knew what Changjo would see. “Hyung,” Changjo said, a new concern in his voice.

L.Joe was black and blue from the punches and the ring had left an ugly wound right along the lowest of his left ribs. He'd been too out of it yesterday to clean up, and only splashed some water on it this morning. Looking at it sucked the bottom out of his stomach; reminded him how lucky he'd been, reminded him what would have happened if he hadn't been so lucky.

Holy shit what happened yesterday?” Chunji asked. The faces surrounding him had all changed to honest concern.

He blinked slowly at them and tried to go to his room.

No, no.” Niel and Changjo took his shoulders and steered him to the couch and sat him down. He winced with pain and leaned back. Okay, maybe he could sleep here instead...

Chunji squatted in front of him. “Are you alright?”

CAP's hand landed on his shoulder, a warm, safe presence. “Byunghun?”

He muttered incoherent nonsense mixed with apologies until Chunji lost his patience and shook him and everything just fell out of his mouth. What had happened with Mr. X since the beginning. For once, his members were silent and let him finish the story without interruptions. He couldn't look at them while telling it.

He's going to destroy Teen Top,” he finished, swallowing down threatening tears. “I'm sorry. I'm sorry.”

It's not your fault,” Chunji said, just barely above a whisper, getting up and pacing, rubbing his face.

This can't, we can't, this guy,” Niel said uselessly, at a loss for words.

Ricky and Changjo joined in, pitching silly solutions, discussing whether or not they should tell the managers the truth or try to figure something else out to tell them. Only CAP was silent, staring into the floor at his feet like he was trying to set it on fire with his mind.

L.Joe's phone rang from his bedroom. First he intended to ignore it, but then couldn't stand the noise and went and answered it. Number unknown, he thought briefly while holding it to his ear. “Hello?”

L.Joe.”

Mr. X. L.Joe froze. The voice in his ear felt too intimate, he held the phone away.

Is it him? Niel mouthed, staring at him from the doorway. The look on L.Joe's face was enough answer, and he turned back to the others and waved them over. “Speaker, speaker,” Niel said quietly.

L.Joe pushed speaker.

...not talking to me?” Mr. X's voice filled the room.

The members were gathered around him, five faces in silent concentration. By his side; on his side. The paralyzing fear from yesterday melted away. “We don't have anything to say to one another,” L.Joe said.

That's where you're wrong.” Mr. X spoke calmly, like a businessman discussing a deal. “I burned the papers. But I'm a forgiving person. I can tell them they were lost in delivery. Or I can tell them the truth.”

Which truth,” L.Joe said dryly.

My truth. I know you're going to Japan for five days, so you'll have some time to think it over. You will be here before the end of the week.”

A snarl was forming on CAP's face. Chunji's worried expression had drifted towards angry.

I don't think so,” L.Joe said.

Youthful idealism,” Mr. X said. “But I think you're smarter than that. Think it over, and you'll realize it's the only viable alternative. Ah,” as if he'd suddenly remembered something, “I made some arrangements to demonstrate, in case you don't quite understand your situation. Good day.” He hung up without waiting for an answer.

We should tell the police,” Ricky said.

Niel shook his head.

He attacked L.Joe-hyung!”

There's no evidence,” Niel said. “Word against word.”

The pizza guy saw it,” Changjo said, eyeing L.Joe.

So Mr. X will just say that L.Joe was already beat up when he arrived. The pizza guy didn't see him actually do it, did he?”

L.Joe shook his head.

This is bullshit!” Chunji exploded. “He can't do this! There must be something we can do!”

You're giving me a headache,” L.Joe moaned. “I need to lie down.”

Maybe we should take you to the hospital,” Changjo said.

I'm fine, I just need some rest. We need to be at the airport in a few hours, I'd rather not look like a panda.”

That's what you're worried about right now?” Chunji asked.

It wouldn't be L.Joe-hyung if he wasn't,” Niel said, patting L.Joe's shoulder.

Go lie down,” CAP ordered. “Everyone else in the living room. Talk time.”

They filed out. L.Joe fell into bed and was asleep before he hit the pillow.

When he woke up, a few hours had passed and he could hear them fighting through the door. Not the normal yelling and kicking, but desperate, emotional voices. He was tearing them apart. He'd been thinking of himself, choosing to back out. What did it matter if he couldn't have his symbol or a good relationship to his mother or his pride. Not when their lives and their happiness was at stake too. When this ended, and he looked back on it, would he want to be the guy who made it end?

He'd packed some a few days ago already, expecting to be busy, so he just needed to throw in some basic necessities and was ready to leave. He got up and checked his face with the phone camera. Sleepy but not quite as bleary as before; a pair of dark sunglasses and he could be seen in public.

Shit had he called Sungyeol back yesterday? He checked the phone log. Actually Sungyeol had called him, probably while he was in the pizza guy's van, but he had no memory of it. He called Sungyeol.

How are you feeling today?” Sungyeol asked.

Did we talk yesterday? I don't remember.”

You were really strange, pretty out of it, talked about pizza and something, but then I heard Changjo right with you so I knew you were okay.”

L.Joe cleared his voice. “I'm going back.”

What?”

He gave me a week. Which means on Tuesday I'm going back. It was selfish to run away, he'll ruin the other guys, I can't do that. I've decided, Sungyeol.”

Wait, wait, listen to me. I've thought about this. You have a lot of friends. They all have an interest in this. If one guy can blackmail you like this, then it could happen to any of them. We can call them out, make them stand with you. He can bully a single idol or a single group, but all of them, all different groups and companies, he can't do that.”

L.Joe shook his head. “And what happens if it goes wrong? They all go down with me. I can't do that. They're all good guys, and then all their members with them? I can't be responsible for that. I can't.”

It's not going to go wrong.”

You shouldn't be talking to me. I'm not going to talk to you any more. He's too dangerous. He already knows we're friends, but the more distance between us the better.”

What? L.Joe, wait, listen to me.”

I'm going to hang up. Don't call me anymore.”

Ah, that's, Byungh-!”

L.Joe put the phone down and stood by the bed and stared at it. He couldn't freak out like he'd done yesterday, not any more. Next time it was going to be dead serious. His last chance. All this stuff with the members accepting him, making friends with Sungyeol, becoming a popular friend in the idol community, it had made him soft. For a long time before that, moving to a new country, being a trainee, working side by side with Chunji doing favors for him, he'd steeled his heart and become strong. He needed that again. That figure in the mirror, he needed to become him, the one who flicked his hair out of his eyes and everything just ran off him like water off a goose. The star, the rapper; the whore.

He went out to the members. They went silent when he came. He calmly gathered his things and packed the last stuff. “Aren't you guys packing?” he asked. “They'll be here soon.”

Hyung,” Changjo started.

Don't worry about this stuff anymore, I'll take care of it.”

Hyung,” Ricky said.

Trust me.” L.Joe looked at Changjo and Ricky. “I'm the hyung.”

They hovered, but eventually left to pack. One by one Niel, Chunji and CAP also dropped off. L.Joe showered and got dressed. By the time he was ready for the airport, the others were done too. The manager came, and then in the car, said, “Don't worry about the dorm, we'll take care of it while you're away.”

What about the dorm?” Niel and Ricky asked at once.

Oh you weren't told? There's been some problems with some contracts, I don't know the details, just that we're going to have to move you out and find some temporary lodgings until it's either solved or we find a new place.”

Everyone looked at each other. Made some arrangements, Mr. X had said.

We'll do all of it for you, so when you come back we'll have somewhere for you to sleep, don't worry.”

They didn't say anything in the car, barely anything at the airport, the managers were surprised at how silent and docile they were.

L.Joe sat next to Chunji on the plane.

Do you really have a plan?” Chunji asked.

L.Joe nodded confidently. “Don't worry about it.”

Chunji shook his head. “How could I not?”

Don't you trust me?”

About as far as I can throw you,” Chunji said, with a little too much conviction.

L.Joe hit him.“I know you guys don't believe me, but I- I'll do anything to protect Teen Top,” he said. He had to force the words out, he hated saying stuff like this. “So trust me this time, I will take care of it.”

Chunji hesitated for a long time. “Fine,” he said then.

That was all they said about that.

L.Joe focused on the work in Japan. It was a harsh schedule from the start, and he put down extra practice time and filled every moment of every day with work and activities until his body ached from tiredness more than it did from the bruises. No time to start doubting or worrying. The Japanese staff praised his work ethic, and the concert was a success. If the other members were distracted, they managed to be professional despite that. He caught them talking, heads together in hushed whispers, a few times, but they always stopped and scattered when he neared. Monday midday they flew back, and found that the dorm issue meant they had to sleep in a hotel for two nights before a temporary apartment opened up. He was exhausted out of his mind that night, but couldn't sleep.

Instead he lay awake, wondering. These days had gone exactly as he'd wanted. The members had trusted him, let him be, abandoned the issue.

They didn't care?

They trusted him.

They must know what he was planning to do. They were going to let him do it?

They didn't know how else to solve it, they were making it his decision, no pressure. They didn't want to talk about it and be reminded, or remind him, of what he would have to do.

They were really going to let him do it?

 

 

To Be Continued...

Chapter Text

L.Joe tossed and turned until dawn broke through, and he finally drifted off for a couple of hours of rest. He didn't feel anywhere near ready for the day when it was time to get up and get to practice, but was still glad for the distraction it provided.

The others were called away for something and left Chunji and him alone. Chunji sank into a sweaty pile by the wall, while L.Joe started over by the mirror.

How can you still be standing up,” Chunji complained.

L.Joe ignored him.

Byunghunie.” Chunji watched him in the mirror. “Are you not worried about tonight at all?”

He watched his face in the mirror glance over at Chunji, unfazed, and heard himself say, brazenly, “What's the use of worrying.”

So you're really going? Tonight?”

I am.”

L.Joe,” Chunji said, switching to the stage name as if he was understanding somehow that he was talking to that self, “I really can't read you sometimes. Sometimes...” He looked down. “Sometimes it feels like you don't trust us to know how you feel. That time, you and I, when we... Byunghun-ah, were you in love with me?”

L.Joe stared into his own eyes in the mirror. “Love? Don't be silly.”

Because I feel bad about that, these days. I thought you wanted it, I thought I was being nice, saying yes. But I hurt you, I think. I just never noticed, because you were so good at hiding it.”

I'm fine,” L.Joe said automatically.

Going around sleeping with strangers, being fine with selling yourself like this, it's not exactly healthy behavior is it,” Chunji said.

L.Joe spun around to look at him. “What did you say?”

I mean,” Chunji said, rubbing his neck awkwardly, “That came out wrong, I meant to say I'm sorry, I never meant to mess you up like that.”

Nobody messed me up. I'm not... Poor L.Joe, he's sleeping around because Chunji didn't love him back?” L.Joe walked closer.

That's not...” Chunji held up his hands defensively. “I'm trying to apologize.”

This is the worst apology I ever heard,” L.Joe snapped.

I'm trying to say I care about you it's... forget it, you always make this so difficult, it's like you don't want to be loved, you like being this...”

Get up,” L.Joe said. 'Whore', had been right there on Chunji's lips.

What?”

I don't feel like punching someone sitting down.”

L.Joe.”

Get up.”

Why are you like this! I'm trying to...!”

Get up!” L.Joe slapped the top of his head. Shoved him, hard. “GET UP!”

Chunji flew up, shoving back, and L.Joe punched him. Adrenaline surging, he bounced a few times on his toes as Chunji stumbled backwards with a shocked look on his face that felt so, so good. But then Chunji hit the wall and fell down to sit, and then he was crying. Crying big, bitter tears.

Why are you crying,” L.Joe demanded, feeling terrible but too angry to admit it.

Chunji curled up and covered his face. “Don't go tonight,” he cried.

Stop being such a prude,” L.Joe said, having to put some effort in to stay harsh.

It's not about that is it!” Chunji glared at him, tears still running down his cheeks. “You damned idiot! Why would you do something like this for us? I'm your friend, of course I don't want you to do it!”

Shit like this probably happens all the time, it seems dramatic, but it's just... what's the difference, really, from the other times I've hooked up with random guys.”

You don't care?”

Of course I care,” L.Joe admitted. He squatted in front of Chunji and wanted to hug him but wasn't sure he should. “I... I don't want to. Not really. But it's worth it. This is worth it.” He gestured at the practice room, at the world itself. All of it. Teen Top was worth it. These five guys were worth it.

That's what I mean. This is what I tried to say before, but it's coming out wrong, I don't know how to...” Chunji frowned, concentrating. “You don't think you're worth it,” he said slowly, finding the words as he spoke. “You let me use you because you don't think you deserve better. Same with these guys, do you even get off, or do you just make sure they do?”

You didn't use me,” L.Joe corrected him, patting his leg. “I like doing it. If you used me, then I used you as well. I do it because I like it. Not because someone traumatized me, or I have issues, or whatever.”

Chunji shook his head. “How would you know?”

Well. That, he didn't know the answer to. “Whatever,” he said. “Fine, I have issues. It doesn't matter. If someone told Ricky to suck their cock or they would ruin all our careers for all future, you think he wouldn't make the same choice? I'm not sure about Niel, but...”

Chunji finally smiled and shoved him lightly. “You know Niel cares as much as the rest of us.”

I think he secretly hates me,” L.Joe said.

You certainly give him reason to, sometimes. Fine. We'd all do crazy things for Teen Top. Doesn't mean it's right.”

But it does mean you didn't mess me up.”

How does it mean that.” Chunji wiped his face. “I can never even begin to repay you for this. For what you're willing to do, let alone what you're actually doing.”

There's no repaying between friends,” L.Joe assured him. Pestering Chunji or being clingy was fine when it was just for fun or everyone were hanging around all relaxed, but with all these emotions it felt awkward and embarrassing. So even if he wanted to hug him, he didn't. Instead he held out a hand and pulled Chunji up to stand and smacked his shoulder in a very manly way and returned to the mirror.

By the time the others returned, Chunji's eyes had stopped being red.

The further the day got, the more CAP became a pacing lion. When their scheduled activites were over, L.Joe decided to leave right away. He couldn't stand hanging around a hotel room with the members, just waiting, it would drive them all crazy. So he showered and selected clothes. Tried to make it just another night out. Shoved the pink diamond earring in his pocket to put on later.

Hyung, you're dressing up for that bastard?” Changjo asked, voice strangely flat.

L.Joe turned towards him and shrugged. The look on Changjo's face was about to make him cry, he escaped into the bathroom and fixed his hair. When he came out, Changjo was deeply absorbed in texting someone.

I'm leaving,” he said.

Already?” Changjo looked up, alarmed.

Might as well.”

Hyung...” Changjo walked up to him, but then stopped, lost for words.

L.Joe tried to give him a brave smile. “Don't wait up,” he said, and left.

He hailed a cab and asked for an address two blocks away from where he was actually going. While walking from the cab to the underground garage – he didn't want to use the front entrance – he tried to enjoy the cool air. It was early summer and the days were starting to get warm. Nothing to it. Just another night out, another guy, another moment in time that would come and go.

Would Mr. X be satisfied with getting what he wanted, or would he want to punish him? L.Joe's stomach cramped up. No, he'd managed to not think about it all week, he couldn't start now. It was fine, it would be fine, it had to be.

Already at the garage entrance something odd registered at the corner of his consciousness. There were a lot more cars here than the other two times he'd come. He looked around to make sure there weren't people anywere that would spot him coming, and noticed a few guys further to his right, getting out of a car, talking to each other. Was that...? No, he must be seeing things. He ducked his head down and folded up the hood of his jacket and hurried on.

Because he was trying to keep his head down, he didn't see much more than asphalt. So he didn't notice the crowd until he was right next to them. Where he stopped and froze, staring at the familiar faces spreading around, quietly watching him.

No way.

One face in particular pushed through the crowd and came up to him.

Sungyeol,” L.Joe said, struggling to understand what was going on.

Don't be mad,” Sungyeol said. “We couldn't let you do it.”

Four groups were already there, while they were standing there another arrived, greeting discreetly and joining the gathering. Not all members from all groups, but an impressive number still. L.Joe looked around, speechless.

Sungyeol says you feel responsible,” one of the others stepped out to say, “but it's not like that.”

Completely disregarding you, this is about all of us,” another said. “If someone can do this to you, they can do it to any of us. We have to stand up for each other, or none of us are safe.”

So in other words, we're doing it for ourselves.”

For everyone,” Sungyeol said. “But of course, mostly for you.” He smiled.

It was overwhelming. L.Joe tried to blink back tears, chewing on his lip.

There's another entrance,” Sungyeol said, pointing. “Stairs, because we won't all fit into the elevator. But you have to go up alone, I'm told you know the code for the elevator, because he'll let you in, and then you can open the door for us from the inside.” He explained where the door was located. “I talked to a guy who's been in there,” he said. “He told me the layout.”

You've done all this?” L.Joe asked.

I had help,” Sungyeol said. “A friend is fetching them. Here they come now.”

A car came rolling in, parking near them. And out the doors poured his members. Teen Top. It was so unexpected, he just couldn't. Changjo waved happily and he started crying, hiding his face, sobbing uncontrollably. Teen Top quickly closed ranks around him, huddling up and dragging him into a circle cheer.

For everything you were willing to do, but don't have to,” Chunji whispered in his ear when they hugged.

You left so early we had to rush preparations,” Changjo said, rubbing his shoulder.

We're Teen Top,” CAP said, looking into his eyes, with rare severity. “We're not going to let anyone do this to one of us.”

That's right,” Ricky agreed lifting his fists in a silent 'Fighting!' cheer.

Niel just hugged him, for once not saying anything. L.Joe cried like a child into his shoulder before he managed to gather himself. Agh so embarrassing, and in front of everyone too. He wiped his eyes with the sweater and wondered if his makeup was a total mess now.

We're waiting for one more,” Sungyeol said. “And then we're a go.”

 

“Yes?” Jonghwan asked, aimed at Sanghoon who had his arm raised like in middle school.

Sanghoon looked around at his hyungs. “You know who was there right?”

“I'm not telling you.”

“Why not? It's just his friends, right,” Rokhyun said innocently. “Idols defending idols, it doesn't mean anything.”

Jonghwan eyed him.

“We swear,” Minwoo said and held his hand up solemnly. “We swear to never, ya, you guys do it too,” he gestured at the others. More hands came up. “We swear to never ever tell anyone outside of 100% what you tell us.”

“I thought that was already understood, with the whole story,” Jonghwan said.

“Then what's there to worry about,” Rokhyun said. “Tell us!”

“Fine, I'll tell you the groups, but I'm not mentioning names,” Jonghwan said. “Infinite, of course. MBLAQ, U-Kiss, VIXX, MYNAME. And B2ST were the late ones.”

“I heard SHINee was there,” Hyukjin said.

“SHINee?”

Hyukjin shrugged. “That's what I heard.”

Jonghwan looked surprised. “I didn't...” he bit his lip.

“What's weird about SHINee?” Rokhyun asked. “We're talking about 'just friends' of L.Joe-sunbae's, right. He could be friends with SHINee.”

“I just,” Jonghwan said. “Well, L.Joe didn't mention...”

“He might not have seen all of them, if they were all there at once. So much people, and he was probably shaken,” Hyukjin said.

“Where did you hear it anyway?”

“I overheard Infinite H talking about that day,” Hyukjin said. “One of them said SHINee had been there and the other seemed surprised, so he hadn't noticed either.”

“They'd really be so careless as to discuss it in public?” Minwoo questioned. “They might have been talking about something else.”

“They really weren't,” Hyukjin insisted.

“Whatever,” Sanghoon said. “Continue!”

“There's not much more to say,” Jonghwan said. “They carried out the plan. The idols went up the stairs together, and L.Joe-sunbae went up the elevator and unlocked the door for them. They faced Mr. X all together, and as I said, one idol or one group could be bullied, but all of them was harder. Even if they don't hold that much power, if they start telling all the other idols to watch out for this guy, to try not to work with him, spread rumors, cause trouble for him, he'll get a hard time. With different groups from different labels with different styles and interests, it'll be hard to call it a personal attack. Anything they say will seem true. It was a long meeting, and CAP-sunbae got very very close to punching him, but in the end, Mr. X promised to back off, to leave L.Joe-sunbae alone.”

 

The others were crowding out, one group by another. The only two people in the room not moving were L.Joe and Mr.X. L.Joe dug out the pink diamond and held it in his hand.

He'd been this close. Completely prepared to do what had to be done. To finally, once and for all become that guy in the mirror. At times he'd wanted it, even.

The diamond sparkled in the light; his mirror image inside the stone although too small to see. And he put it down on the white table in front of the red painting and took a few steps backwards.

I told you to keep it.” Looking up he saw Mr. X, casually sipping from a glass of whiskey, his earlier rage suppressed into a look of modest disgust.

Something inside L.Joe yearned for that stone, for that mirror image, and whispered at him to stop, to pick it up again. What was the harm? It's who he was already , really. And it was so pretty.

He smiled at Mr. X. “I'll buy a bigger one,” he promised.

When he turned around, Teen Top were waiting by the door and closed up around him as he exited. They rode the elevator down together in silence, until Ricky exclaimed, “The look on his face! You are so badass.” Which made them all snicker together.

 

“There was no saving the contract however,” Jonghwan finished. “All that fell through. I don't know exactly what they said, I was too far in the back...”

“What?” Hyukjin snapped up.

“What?”

“What did you just say?”

Jonghwan sought back in memory. Oh shit. “Uh.”

“You were there?” Minwoo asked.

“Okay, yes, I was.”

“How? Why?”

“I heard, and I thought, well...” Jonghwan looked around. These guys would never stop until they dragged the truth out of him. Not the way he had wanted to let them know, but, “Sungyeol-sunbae contacted me too, and I didn't want to involve you guys in case it went to shit. I didn't think they needed us anyway, and we're pretty new, we don't really have much say in anything so we'd be no help, but I wanted to be there for L.Joe.”

“Suddenly no 'sunbae',” Sanghoon noted.

“You were there? Then you do know who Mr. X is!” Rokhyun exclaimed.

100% exploded with demands to know the name, but Jonghwan stood his ground. “It was part of the deal,” he said once he could get a full sentence in. “Mr. X would leave Teen Top alone, and everyone would forget that any of this happened. He wouldn't get his name ruined, and L.Joe could go on with his life. I'm not messing that up. Not taking any chances, not even with you guys.”

Some of them kept asking, but Minwoo eventually reigned them in.

“Doesn't that mean he can go on and do it to someone else?” Chanyong pondered.

“It wasn't ideal, we all agreed,” Jonghwan said, “but the negotiations locked down, we had to take it. The most important thing was to get L.Joe and Teen Top out of that situation.”

“Still no 'sunbae',” Sanghoon said.

“Fine, yes, fine!” Jonghwan rubbed his forehead and looked away. “I, uh, when we were doing Teen Top Rising 100%, L.Joe... I mean, it was just, a thing. That happened. Once.”

“Oh god,” Chanyong said, while Changbum and Hyukjin gaped with shocked faces.

“Or possibly twice,” Jonghwan said. Why was he still talking.

“Please don't tell us that story,” Hyukjin said.

Undaunted, Sanghoon asked, “Is he as good as they say?”

This kid had probably wanted to ask that the whole time. Jonghwan buried his face in his hands, as the kids started chattering, groaning and teasing. At least Minwoo patted his shoulder reassuringly, before starting on a monologue about flowers and bees and got them all doubling over with laughter.

 

Later that night when everyone had gone to bed, Rokhyun dragged him off into his room, where Sanghoon was waiting.

“I know what you want,” Jonghwan said, looking at them. “I'm not,” he pointed at Sanghoon. “Telling you.”

“What? Aw, c'mon. At least answer some questions.”

“What questions?”

“Like, are you gay or bi or straight with benefits?” Rokhyun asked.

“How is that any of your business?” Jonghwan crossed his arms.

Rokhyun patted the floor for him to sit down and create a little triangle with them. He demonstratively stayed standing.

“Hyung wants to know if you want to join our collective,” Sanghoon said, grinning.

“No, no, not like that,” Rokhyun waved dismissively.

Jonghwan looked from one to the other. No way. “You... You two are...?”

“Not boyfriends or anything,” Rokhyun said.

“Hyung is straight,” Sanghoon said, gesturing to Rokhyun.

“Ish,” Rokhyun said, laughing.

“Hyung is actually bi, but too nervous to admit it,” Sanghoon corrected.

“But you're...?”

“Not really interested in what you are, but pleeease tell me about L.Joe-sunbae. Please, please.”

“Sanghoon-ah has heard it being said that L.Joe-sunbae is, uh, the best at what he does?”

Jonghwan sat down with them. “Fine.”

“Yes?” Sanghoon beamed, sparkling with curiosity.

“Okay so... you know when we were supposed to practice gymnastics or whatever, the whole deal with building a human pyramid and stuff? I went to the bathroom at the same time as L.Joe. I don't know how to explain it but, it was like, our eyes met in the mirror, and he was all sweaty and I was warmed up and kind of... horny, that day, and it was like he knew. Our eyes met and he licked his lips, and I, kind of, accidentally, I looked down, and when I looked back up I knew that he knew. And it wasn't known then, there hadn't been any rumors or anything then, I was freaking out as fuck. But he just smiled and left.”

“Left?”

“Calm down we're getting there,” Jonghwan said, slapping Sanghoon's thigh. “So the actual day when the competition is going down, I can't take my eyes off him. He was wearing this thin white sweater, and sure he wore something else under it, but you could see right through it. Made me think of what it would be like if he wasn't wearing something under. And then the glasses. We're doing tumbling, and he's wearing glasses? I just... I know that isn't a reason to, but I just...” He licked his lips. “I wanted to go over there and take those glasses off him and tell him how fucking stupid he was for wearing them and... He hesitated, embarrassed.

Kiss the sweat off his face,” Sanghoon nodded, understanding, not even in the borderlands of embarrassed. Jonghwan smiled and nodded.

“You are so gay,” Rokhyun said.

“Ignore that hyung,” Sanghoon said. “Go on.”

“It's something about it, I mean, how he's a sunbae but he's younger and smaller. And then he was fighting so hard when they did all the stuff, the pyramids and other things, he was soaked, that sheer white shirt got soaked through and through, I thought he'd get hurt trying to support the middle like that, I wanted to go over and slap his hyungs and ask how they could put the smallest lightest guy in the middle. But he fought so hard.”

“You were totally crushing on him,” Sanghoon said.

“A bit,” Jonghwan admitted, smiling with embarrassment. “So they did it, and they won, and they were happy and all of us were upset, I was as pissed as everyone else. But afterwards I saw him go in the bathroom and I just, I thought, he'd worked so hard and I'd just been sitting there so, maybe I should,” a little nervous laugh escaped him, “maybe I should do a little work. So I followed him.”

The door opened. Jonghwan jumped half a foot into the air.

“Hyung,” Rokhyun said, which meant it was Minwoo.

Alarmed, Jonghwan turned around and saw Minwoo sneak in. He held his finger over his lips and closed the door carefully. Then waved his hand at them signaling 'go on'.

Jonghwan looked at the other two, raising his eyebrows.

Sanghoon was staring at Minwoo with surprise, Rokhyun shrugged. Minwoo sat down with them and they shifted, forming a square instead of a triangle.

“Where was I,” Jonghwan asked.

“You followed L.Joe-sunbae into the bathroom,” Rokhyun said.

Minwoo's eyes sparkled.

“Okay,” Jonghwan said, trying to swallow down the nervousity of talking about this in front of people, and in front of their leader. He'd never in a million years thought this would happen, any of it. Sanghoon and Rokhyun? And Sanghoon was the gay one? Never in a million years. “So I followed him inside, and when he saw me in the mirror, he gave me this smile,” he smiled automatically at the memory, “and I can't believe it now, but I just, I kind of just slid up into his personal space, and he let me. And then he grabbed my shirt and pulled me along backwards into a stall. Like it was so easy, like he'd done it a hundred times, reached past me and locked the stall door and dropped to his knees. Like, I wanted to do something for him, because he'd deserved it, but it was all so smooth, so flawless, I didn't have a chance. It was his show and I was just there as supporting cast. We hadn't even said a word to each other, and there he was, on his knees, about to...” He felt himself blush. “Agh, I can't, it's too embarrassing!”

“Aw come on,” Sanghoon said.

“Not everyone is a little freak like you,” Rokhyun told Sanghoon before turning back to Jonghwan. “It's okay, you don't have to tell us all the details like that. Just, something. Something to sate the little freak's curiosity.”

“He does this drop with his eyes,” Jonghwan said. “Like,” he tried to demonstrate on Sanghoon, but felt it didn't really pack the right punch. “I can't explain, I can't do it. But it's like... it says everything that you could ever need to say about what he can do. And man.” He shook his head. “Does he come through on that.”

“Come on, something more than that,” Sanghoon said.

“What was it like with him,” Rokhyun asked.

Jonghwan thought about it.

 

Sanghoon jogged around the corner and saw the elevator doors about to close. Damn it, he was already late, the manager was going to kill him. He rushed forward and caught sight of L.Joe, and L.Joe saw him and stopped the doors. Panting, Sanghoon slipped inside, bowing thanks as much as he could in the cramped space.

It wasn't just L.Joe in there, but two crew men, a manager and someone else that Sanghoon knew he'd seen but couldn't quite place right now. Sanghoon couldn't exactly turn around and check, that would just look weird and suspicious.

He'd met L.Joe a lot of times, but this was the first time since Jonghwan had talked about him. This little skinny guy, at the center of so much drama? Kicking up so much dust? What was so special about him anyway? Sanghoon glanced sideways but could only barely see L.Joe's profile at the edge of his field of vision. Jonghwan had been pretty clear with that something was special about him, at least, whatever it was. Sanghoon wondered...

“It's been a long time since I saw you here,” the manager said.

A soft, melodic voice just behind Sanghoon answered, “Ah, yes, too long.”

“Does this mean I'll see you here often again?”

“That would be nice,” the voice answered apologetically, “but I'm afraid it's just one-time business for now.”

“What a shame.” The elevator pinged and the doors opened. “I hope to see you soon,” the manager said and stepped out, along with the two crew men.

The doors closed again. Sanghoon fidgeted.

“Excuse me, but it's Teen Top's L.Joe, isn't it,” the man behind Sanghoon said.

Sanghoon wanted to turn around, but at least he could see L.Joe's fuzzy shape in the reflection in the polished metal doors. L.Joe turned in towards the speaker and bowed. “Ah? Yes.”

“This is the first time we meet. I'm Kim Jaejoong. You may not...”

Of course I know you, sunbaenim,” L.Joe said. “We all do.” His wrist flicked towards Sanghoon. Of course they did. Kim Jaejoong, previously of TVXQ, and one of the few to have broken contract with SM and gone off on his own.

Sanghoon heard Jaejoong smile. “Ah, yes. I don't have time to follow all the new groups, but I've heard of you; that Teen Top is doing well. It's a great privilige to get to do what you love, isn't it? We're all fortunate people. It takes hard work and determination, but sometimes, we all need a little luck or a guardian angel. Someone who quiets down mean voices, or sends a pizza delivery to the right door at the right time. Something like that?”

Sanghoon bit his lip to not draw sharply for air and give himself away. In the fuzzy reflection, he saw L.Joe freeze up with his mouth open.

The elevator pinged.

Gently, comfortably, Jaejoong continued, “I doubt we'll run into each other again, so, let me wish you the best of luck, in anything you do. I'll keep an eye out for Teen Top.”

The doors opened.

“Thank you, sunbaenim,” L.Joe said, sounding breathless, sounding like he meant it.

Jaejoong slid past them, turned back and said, “I admire your work.” A sparkle in his eye, a smile playing in the corner of his mouth. A courteous glance to Sanghoon before he wandered down the corridor.

The doors closed, the elevator continued up.

“Agh,” L.Joe said suddenly, making Sanghoon jump. “I was supposed to get off there.”

Sanghoon involuntarily looked over, and their eyes met. Sanghoon felt exposed, as if the fact that Jonghwan had told them the stupid story was written in his forehead. “Whaa so there really was a pizza delivery guy?” He bit his tongue, what was he saying.

L.Joe blinked. “How do you...! Ah, Jonghwan.” He shook his head.

Sanghoon should probably just shut up now. Although, “So the one who paid off the media was him? Not the guy, the guy who tried to...?”

L.Joe breathed out like he couldn't believe it. “It seems that way. I shouldn't be surprised he lied about it, should I. Don't tell anyone!” He pointed agressively at Sanghoon. “Not even your members. Obviously this sunbaenim doesn't want people to know. No one, understand?!”

“I promise,” Sanghoon assured him and turned away. He chewed on his lip and willed the elevator to move faster. In the fuzzy reflection he saw L.Joe looking at him for a little while, then facing forward and nodding slowly to himself.

The elevator pinged, the doors opened, L.Joe got off. Turned around and looked at Sanghoon through the open doors, licked his lips briefly, and Sanghoon suddenly remembered the parts of the story Jonghwan hadn't told in the main room, but later on in the privacy of Rokhyun's room.

What was it like with him? Rokhyun had asked.

And Jonghwan's face had slowly turned red as he thought about it, and the corner of his mouth tugged up as he tried and failed to repress a smile. Good, he'd said, paused and corrected; so good. Just three words but the tone, the expression, had sent shivers down Shanghoon's spine.

Sanghoon felt himself blush. L.Joe's eyes seemed to see right through him, see what he was thinking. He fisted his hands in his pockets to keep from fidgeting. In the last moment, L.Joe's eyes dropped down his body. It was just a look, just a second, but it sent those prickles up his spine, like electricity crackling, heating him up. Self-conscious, he wanted to tug at his pants and make sure they weren't tight enough for anything to show.

Eyes coming back up, gaze confidently meeting his, L.Joe smiled.

The doors closed.

 

Chapter Text

Teen Top ran into 100% all the time, randomly here and there or coming and going to practice and recording and all kinds of stuff. The first time after L.Joe had met Sanghoon in the elevator, and figured that Jonghwan had told them something, although he didn't know exactly what, he was a bit tense, wondering how it would go. They just passed each other in the corridor, going opposite directions. 100% stopped and made room for them. And then, as L.Joe passed, started looking at each other and whispering. L.Joe bent his head down and barely made it into the room before he collapsed into a chair, laughing quietly with embarrassment.

“What's up with you?” Niel asked.

“More like what's up with the muscle boys,” Ricky said. “Did you see how they looked at us?”

“Started whispering and giggling like school girls,” Chunji agreed, frowning and looking back at the closed door. “Did they forget how to respect their sunbaes,” he said, half serious.

“They probably heard,” CAP said, leaning against a chair and looking at L.Joe.

“Heard what? There's a lot to hear,” Ricky said.

L.Joe managed to control himself and tried to slip between them further into the room, but Changjo intercepted.

“What did you tell them, hyung?” Changjo asked.

“Me? Nothing.” L.Joe tossed his hair out of his eyes. “It must have been Jonghwan,” he admitted. “I have no idea what he might have said.”

Changjo got a thoughtful look on his face. “You know, hyung, if you were to date someone, wouldn't it be easiest with someone from our company?”

“Are you pimping 100% now?” L.Joe punched him. “Get out of my way.”

There was a light tap on the door. When Chunji opened, Jonghwan was outside, bowing and greeting, unusually polite.

“Um, could I ask you something?” he said, looking to L.Joe.

“Are you spreading rumors about us?” Niel asked, making a scary face, which made Ricky turn away and struggle against laughter.

Jonghwan looked like a deer in headlights. “What?”

“What do you want to ask,” L.Joe said, rescuing him, coming over.

“Um.” Jonghwan leaned close, glancing nervously at the rest of the room. “When, you know, at that time, somone said SHINee...?”

“SHINee?” L.Joe shook his head. “No.”

“Hyukjin-ah swears on his life he heard Infinite say something about SHINee.”

L.Joe frowned. There were several topics to consider in that sentence. Not only was Hyukjin, and therefore probably all of 100%, well informed, Infinite was apparently talking about things in public that they shouldn't. And... “I don't know, I didn't see...”

“You're too short to see, you mean.”

L.Joe whipped around and found Niel – of course – leaning in next to him. His hand lashed out and punched Niel out of habit before he had time to think, and Niel backed away.

“You shouldn't be talking about this anyway,” L.Joe scolded Jonghwan. “Or listening to it. You shouldn't have told your members either.”

“They wouldn't shut up about it before I did,” Jonghwan defended himself. “We won't talk about it in public, I swear. I made all of them swear too.”

“Things have a tendency to leak, when it comes to L.Joe-hyung,” Niel said.

L.Joe pushed him without looking at him, since his voice was far too close again.

“I'm sorry,” Jonghwan said, nodding. “I was just curious about SHINee.”

“I didn't see them,” L.Joe said. “Leave it at that.”

Jonghwan left. But his curiosity had spread like an infection. Niel wanted to know if SHINee had been there, and after asking the rest of Teen Top, no one had seen anything.

“Call your friend, your secret informant,” Niel said, urging L.Joe with both words and hands. “Infinite, Infinite.”

Since L.Joe was curious too, he did.

“I hear SHINee came, that time,” he told Sungyeol. “Did you see them?”

“I didn't, but Hoya-hyung says he saw Taemin-sshi,” Sungyeol said. “Sungjong says he did too, but if it was just him I don't know if I'd believe it. I didn't call any of them. I thought he came because he... was close with you. But then, if he came, he came of his own.”

Once L.Joe had relayed the information to Teen Top, Niel the bloodhound was hunting again. “Hyung, SHINee is here today, you should go talk to Taemin.”

“I should what?”

“Mm,” Chunji agreed. “If you really haven't... hung out with him lately...”

“I've never 'hung out with' any of SHINee, I've barely seen them!”

“Then why did he come?” Chunji asked.

“Maybe he didn't, maybe Hoya is full of shit.”

“But if he did,” Niel insisted, “you should find out why.”

L.Joe wanted to ask why that was of critical importance, but the others had already decided to go with him, and crowded him out the door. On the way there they got stuck in a corridor while a whole procession of other groups and staff passed by, everything turned into a chaotic mix of greetings and trying not to bump into anyone, and suddenly someone slid in next to L.Joe with a gentle smile and familiar, sparkling eyes.

“How are you doing these days?”

L.Joe smiled back at Kikwang. “Well,” he said. “Thank you for last time.”

“Anytime. Did everything work out?”

“Just fine,” L.Joe said. They couldn't really discuss the details like this.

“And this?” Kikwang's hand came up, two fingers pressed against L.Joe's left lower rib.

He looked away. How could Kikwang even remember exactly where it was. L.Joe had showed it to him briefly, he wasn't sure why now but at the time it had felt like he had to tell someone exactly how he'd gotten away. His members would get too upset; Sungyeol already carried so many of his burdens. Kikwang had been there, gentle and compassionate. “The scar won't go away,” he said. It hadn't been a deep scratch but for some reason it had left an ugly jagged line that just wouldn't go away. He hated it. Every time he saw it in the mirror he wanted to punch something, or someone.

“It will, let it take some time,” Kikwang said. “And even if it doesn't, scars are just handsome on a man.” He smiled softly and leaned in, and L.Joe looked around, worried. But Kikwang just hugged him, like friends.

He tried not to tense up but he felt awkward, doing this in the hallway. Kikwang refused to let go so eventually he had to relax into it. Then, alarmed, he noticed his own eyes tearing up and tore away and cleared his throat. “SHINee... did you see if SHINee was there, that day?”

Kikwang thought about it. If he saw L.Joe's expression he didn't react to it. “Taemin, I think?” he said then.

“We're apparently going there now to confirm it.”

“Oh? I just spoke to Key-hyung a minute ago.”

The kids will probably just crash into their room awkwardly and interrogate them.”

“I'll come with you,” Kikwang offered, looking left and right and waved at L.Joe to follow. L.Joe found Chunji's arm and dragged him along, and in a little stumbling train Teen Top trailed behind Kikwang.

They reached SHINee's changing room and Kikwang knocked, and chatted a little with Key who opened the door, before stepping aside for Teen Top to enter.

Teen Top filed in, while SHINee got up. Both teams exchanged slightly hesitant greetings, SHINee no doubt wondering what was going on. Kikwang kept talking to Key, L.Joe heard him make up some half-decent excuse for why they were there, something about a bet and taking selfies with people, and Ricky was shoved forward to take a picture with Onew. Meanwhile, CAP maneuvered L.Joe into position next to Taemin, and Niel shifted around and broke in between and cut Taemin off from his hyungs.

These guys. L.Joe hovered awkwardly. “Hi,” he said to Taemin.

Taemin, smiling and bowing politely, said hi and then nothing.

“I think we've met recently,” L.Joe said.

Taemin looked at the floor. “Mm, that. I'm glad it went well.”

“I wanted to thank you,” L.Joe said.

Taemin shook his head and glanced up. There was a determined look in his eyes. “You don't have to thank me. I didn't come for you, not really. I came instead of a friend, who really wanted to be there but couldn't. Someone from SM should be there. To show we're also not okay with something like that. That's why I came alone,” he glanced over at his hyungs, “I'm sure the hyungs would support you, but it wasn't their fight.”

Niel's head dove in. “What friend?”

L.Joe corrected his hair and wished Niel would mind his own business for once. “You don't have to tell us.”

“If it's SM, then it's EXO right?” Niel said.

L.Joe punched his shoulder lightly. “I said...”

“Yes.” Taemin licked his lips, eyes skipping between L.Joe and Niel. “There's no reason to hide it from you guys, is there. It is. It's EXO.”

 

Chapter Text

“You know I'm straight,” the guy said, tightening his tie.

“Whatever you have to tell yourself,” L.Joe said, digging around in his pockets for the mint case. Was it not here? Ah, there.

“How old are you anyway?”

That wasn't a question he got every day. “Old enough.”

“Just a kid, then.”

“Yes.” L.Joe checked his hair in the selfie camera of the phone. Mm, he always told guys to not mess up his hair, but more often than not it ended up better, he had to admit. The post-sex look suited him.

“Well, if you ever want to get serious?” The guy gave him a wide grin. A grin that said, let me get my cock up your ass.

L.Joe lifted one eyebrow in a fairly practiced look of moderate disinterest. “Straight, huh.”

The guy shrugged, unfazed. “Sex is sex.”

“Charming. I'll let you know if I get that desperate.” L.Joe pushed past him.

A hand snagged his wrist and yanked him back, the guy's other hand landing on his ass. “Hold on, I'm still your sunbae, some respect wouldn't...”

There was the slightest whiff of some familiar smell that he couldn't place, and suddenly his arm was moving on its own. The guy was quick though, ducked and managed to deflect L.Joe's weak start at a punch, but in the brief chaos L.Joe wrenched his wrist free, heart beating like he'd ran a thousand miles, breath catching in this throat; his body was in full fight-or-flight and he didn't know why but he had to get out.

“Heey, are you crazy?!,” the guy exclaimed, but L.Joe was already out the door.

Sungyeol fell into stride with him, giving him a puzzled look but not asking. “Rating?”

Eh. “6 of 10?” L.Joe guessed, smoothing his clothes, breathing, trying to understand what had just happened. Shit, that guy was said to have a bit of a temper too, hopefully he'd let it go. “A bit self-obsessed, that one. And a little... grabby.”

“Self-obsessed? That matters for blowjobs?”

“You,” L.Joe said, patting Sungyeol's shoulder, “have much to learn.”

“Shame. From looks, he's a 10 out of 10,” Sungyeol said, glancing back at the guy leaving the room.

“10?” L.Joe said. Then felt a little bad for how disbelieving he sounded. The guy hadn't been so bad, really, he'd overreacted, he still didn't know why. But anyway, in L.Joe's opinion he was more like 6, by looks. 7 on a good day. “8 tops.”

“You have weird taste.”

I have weird taste? That guy...” L.Joe didn't feel like talking about him anymore, he just wanted to get as far away from this door as possible. He sped up. “I have excellent taste. I have style.”

“And what is your style, exactly,” Sungyeol asked.

“Straight guys, apparently.”

“You don't even like that guy.” Sungyeol blew air through his nose. Then swung his arms a little, thinking. “Your ideal guy, what would he be like?”

“Ideal types are stupid. It never turns out like that anyway.” The one time he'd actually liked a guy, it certainly hadn't been someone who fit what he'd thought was his type at the time. For one he'd thought his ideal type had long hair and breasts and cute little dimples when she smiled, and she'd be shorter than him for sure. None of that even remotely applied on Chunji.

They wandered, out of safe distance from any other idols. A huge number of groups and stars were here rehearsing for a midsummer event a few weeks away. Prime hunting grounds. Although L.Joe had promised to lay low, this was the second guy since the rehersal week started. He should maybe slow down. But this guy had come on to him so hard, it had felt like something he just had to do to get rid of him. Not that he complained, exactly. But the guy wasn't his type at all. He considered if he had a type.

“Just humor me,” Sungyeol said. “Body.”

Easy. “Dancers,” L.Joe said. “Ah I wish I had Changjo's body.”

“No one would like you this much then.”

L.Joe stared a question at him. He figured he was getting attention despite his body, certainly not because of it.

“Look, everyone likes different things,” Sungyeol said. “Like, I'm tall, but L still gets all the attention, because more people like a pretty face than tallness, even if everyone says they like tall guys.”

L.Joe laughed at the example. “See? Ideal types are just bullshit.”

“What I was going to say,” Sungyeol said, ignoring him, “was that you're full of shit. You like looking at guys who look like Changjo (who you'd be all over if he wasn't a member), but I don't believe you'd want to look like that.”

“I don't?” he asked, challenging, but actually curious of what Sungyeol's reasoning was.

“This trashy image you put up. Eh, I don't mean trashy... The whole 'mischivous rapper' thing, chin up, the look you give them.” Sungyeol did something that was probably supposed to be an imitation, but L.Joe hoped he didn't look like that. “Like your eyes are telling them what they'll be missing if they don't come along to some dark, dirty store room. It works for you. It wouldn't, if you looked like Changjo. Straight guys wouldn't go for Changjo.”

“Are you saying I look like a girl?”

Sungyeol snorted. “I knew it would be impossible to explain this to you. This trashy image you got going, it's like you don't want...”

They had to pause as a couple of members of Big Bang passed them in the hallway. No G-Dragon though.

“So,” Sungyeol said once they could talk safely again. “Dancers. Tall, short, muscular, slender...?”

“It doesn't really matter,” L.Joe said. “It's not about the looks, really. They know how to move.”

“Oooh,” Sungyeol cooed.

L.Joe punched his side. They'd agreed to be unconditional friends, which meant Sungyeol forfeit his hyung previliges, which meant L.Joe could punch him as much as he wanted. Sungyeol for some reason never complained.

“Style,” Sungyeol continued.

“What do you mean?”

“Good boy, bad boy... clothes? Image? Like that.”

L.Joe thought about it. “I like different things. Cute, sexy, badass... cute and sexy maybe? Not too cute. But the clothes... when it comes down to it, it has to be what they are, not what people have hung on them.”

“You're so deep.” Sungyeol patted his shoulder. “You dress like that, and you don't care if the guy has a sense of fashion?”

“Clueless is cute,” L.Joe snickered. “And I don't want someone who dresses just like I do, that'd be weird. Maybe I could dress him?”

“Alright, fine. Personality?”

L.Joe smiled. “Someone who knows what he wants. Not too nervous and twitchy or someone who talks my ear off. Hm.” Maybe there was an ideal type now that he thought about it. “Music. Has to have a sense of music.”

“Isn't that everyone in this industry,” Sungyeol said.

“It really isn't,” L.Joe said, shaking his head. “I'm talking about... the feeling. Someone can be a great singer or dancer, but they don't have that... hm, that thing where music is... it's like in their bones.”

“This is why you never find someone,” Sungyeol realized. “That's an impossible demand. Who has that, that you know of now?”

“G-Dragon,” L.Joe smiled.

“I will disqualify that because you're a hopeless fanboy. Anyone else?”

Uh.

“Exactly,” Sungyeol said, after a few seconds of silence.

“VIXX's Ravi maybe?” L.Joe hesitated. Possibly. “Look, you wanted my ideal type,” L.Joe said. “Nobody exactly fits someone's ideal type. A guy doesn't have to be exactly the ideal type for someone to fall for him.”

“So far, you're very good at not falling for people,” Sungyeol said. “Okay, face.”

“Eyes,” L.Joe said. When he was down there and looking up at guys, and they looked down at him half-drunk on pleasure and loving the sight of him, the right set of eyes could really send chills down his spine and heat through his stomach.

“Eyes?” Sungyeol walked into him playfully. L.Joe had his mind elsewhere and stumbled into the wall before he could straighten up. “What are you doing.” Sungyeol pulled him up. “You can't say eyes, everyone says eyes.”

“It's too hard to explain,” L.Joe said. “There's the right type of eyes, and the wrong type.” The right type, it just sort of... sparkled.

“Which do I have?”

L.Joe punched him again. “Wrong.”

“Aw. But you have to give me something to work with.”

Well, there was something.

“What? Tell me!”

Sungyeol sometimes read his face too well. “It's embarrassing.”

“It's not! How could it be embarrassing? Come on, tell me.”

He'd never give up. Might as well answer. “Dimples,” L.Joe muttered, looking away. “They're cute.”

Sungyeol laughed and boxed his arm. “D'awwww really?” Then smiled dreamily. “They are.”

Right, L had dimples too. L.Joe shoved him, as revenge for his tone, and Sungyeol bumped into someone that came out of a side door.

“Ack, sorry,” he said.

Whoever it was wore the red EXO shirt. L.Joe couldn't keep track of their members and who was who.

They continued and the guy went the other way. Sungyeol paused and turned back and looked until he turned the corner. At L.Joe's questioning expression, he blushed a little and smiled. “There's my type,” he said dreamily. Sighed. "If only I had sex appeal."

L.Joe was still laughing when they reached Teen Top and Infinite, despite Sungyeol's wounded glares.

 

Chapter Text

“You're it!” Niel slapped his shoulder.

L.Joe looked back at him confusedly. “I'm what?”

“It,” Niel said, then repeated, slower, “It.”

L.Joe looked around for help, but the other members were busy playing around, spicing up the rehersal with random outbursts of dance or weird singing. He laughed at Niel, hoping that would appease him.

The song switched to Niel's part and Niel dragged L.Joe into a hug and sang the love song into his ear. L.Joe tried to wriggle free, willing CAP to turn around. CAP had been his rescuer from Niel's antics lately. Before, CAP usually just watched, but these days he was actually helping. Finally CAP turned, and Niel backed off by himself, knowing he'd be interrupted. The entire rehersal, Niel kept bothering L.Joe in more and more outrageous ways. He couldn't do more than laugh at it, but it was a little strange.

When Niel climbed in next to him in the car he groaned and rubbed his head. “What is this, why are you here?” It was Chunji's spot normally. Chunji, too tired to mind, sat in Changjo's seat.

“Sit in your own seat,” CAP told Niel in the tone of someone expecting to be ignored.

“You've been down lately,” Niel said, poking L.Joe's cheek. “Don't try to deny it. There's been some hard times right? I'm just trying to cheer you up.”

“I don't need cheering, I need some rest,” L.Joe said, patiently letting him poke.

“Would you stop?” CAP said, pushing Niel's hand away.

CAP's voice hadn't been loud, the push hadn't been hard, but it was such weird behavior that Niel paused.

“Aish are you two still like that?” Ricky sighed. “What's wrong with CAP-hyung lately?” he muttered.

“What?” CAP asked.

“Nothing,” Ricky said, pulling his hood up. When CAP leaned over, he waved his arms around. “Don't involve me! I don't want to get involved.”

“It's been a little awkward since MYNAME,” Niel admitted. “Did you two kiss and make up?”

L.Joe sighed and leaned against the car window. “It's not awkward. Can I please sleep?”

“Are you sad because CAP-hyung is bullying you?” Niel asked, leaning with him.

“I'm not doing anything,” CAP protested. “Nothing's awkward.”

“They're protesting way too much,” Chunji admitted, looking over.

There was no way to win this. L.Joe closed his eyes and waited for them to finish discussing it between themselves. When a discussion like this started, he and CAP were usually the ones to just wait it out.

“There was a time when there was only me in CAP-hyung's heart,” Niel started. “But lately...”

“Please stop, hyung,” Changjo said. “Can we just ride the car quietly?”

“But lately,” Niel went on undaunted, “I get the feeling he has someone else. He's being swayed by some sad person who wakes up his maternal instinct.”

CAP looked on in disgusted silence.

“I'm not sad,” L.Joe said. “And if I was, could it possibly be because of all the shit that went down this spring? The managers still look at me like I killed their children. I'm just tired. Leave me alone.” That contract they'd all thought he'd landed for himself and for Teen Top had been a dream come true, and as such, also turned out too good to be true. Although they had collectively decided not to tell the managers the real reason, since the matter had been sorted anyway.

He felt the members look at each other. Agh. This was why he usually just let them discuss it without him; if he denied something they decided it was proof it was true, if he assured them it was true they thought he was lying. He saw CAP's reflection in the car window, and that was true too. Things had been a little awkward between them. CAP tried to be casual about it, but it was definitely there, and he had no idea why. It was true it had been like this since MYNAME. CAP was a romantic at heart, the kind of guy who played the rock star but really just wanted to find true love, L.Joe thought. Did he think L.Joe was too loose? He glanced at CAP in reflection in the window. It was both worrying and kind of hurtful to think that he did. Chunji was being judgmental enough for all of them.

Chunji still tried to look out for him though. That evening Chunji told him he should go do something fun on their evening off. He said he wanted to get some extra rest, but Chunji told him the dorm would be empty, everyone else were going away or going out with other friends, so why didn't he invite some people and hang out with someone other than members for a bit?

It had been a while since he talked to Lee Joon. He got progress reports on him and L from Sungyeol, but he was supposed to be Joon's friend as well. So he called Joon, who said he'd bring L and come over. L.Joe couldn't really invite Sungyeol too, since he wasn't sure where they were standing now. It had been a while, but the subject was still sore with Sungyeol.

When Joon showed up, however, he had both L and Sungyeol in the car. L.Joe smiled as he let them in the front door. He and Sungyeol made food while Joon and L left again to buy snacks.

“So is everything good with you and those two?” L.Joe asked.

Sungyeol rinsed some vegetables. “It seems so,” he said. “Uh, I'm not really good at cooking...”

“Neither am I,” L.Joe said. “We'll just do something simple.”

“Don't rush,” Sungyeol said. “L will come take over if we look miserable. He convinced me to come along, I said he didn't have to invite me, I totally understand that you didn't by the way, but he wanted me to come. So I guess I'm forgiven.” He smiled to himself.

“Great!” L.Joe patted his back.

Joon and L returned, and Sungyeol made miserable faces, sighing and looking incompetent, and just like he'd said, L sent him out to Joon and took over for him.

“L.Joe,” L said, throwing a glance out towards the living room.

That made it seem like he wanted to talk secrets. “Mhm?”

“You met Kim Jaejoong-sshi?”

How in the hell...? “How do you know that?”

“Sungyeol tells me anything if I make the right face. I'm sorry. But it's so much fun hearing his stories about you.”

Oh god, how much did Sungyeol tell him? L.Joe bent his head down over the vegetables he was cutting, hiding.

“So what was he like?”

“I only talked to him for like ten seconds in an elevator,” L.Joe said.

“So you didn't... you know.”

L sounded weird. L.Joe looked up at him and found him watching him with big attentive eyes. “Are you fangirling over Kim Jaejoong-sshi?”

“No, no.” L glanced away.

“Joon-hyung!” L.Joe shouted.

“No! No!” L looked at him desperately, frozen.

Joon stuck his head in.

“L-hyung is asking me for Kim Jaejoong-sshi's information,” L.Joe said.

L shook his head, speechless.

“Kim Jaejoong?” Joon said. “This again? Ah, you really, you'd leave me for him in a second.”

“No, no, L.Joe is making stuff up, lies! It's lies!” L turned towards Joon but started laughing.

Joon gave him a don't you try that with me smile. “You'd turn him down? If he came on to you, and I wasn't anywhere nearby?”

It took L just a second too long to deny it. Joon shook his head and left. “Sungyeol! L-goon might need a new boyfriend, you up for it?”

“Uh, he's not serious, is he?” L.Joe asked.

L shook his head. “But I am so going to have to pay for this. Tonight.”

L.Joe snickered.

“You might think it's funny now, but I won't forget,” L warned him.

They turned some music on while they ate and talked. When an EXO song came on, Joon started tapping his fingers to the beat.

“They're not bad,” Sungyeol said, listening.

“Did you see the video?” L looked around. “Laptop?”

L.Joe fetched a laptop and they gathered around, first making fun of the intro to MAMA, then watching some music videos.

“One of them is,” L.Joe looked around. “Like us.” Sungyeol was a little undecided still, but L.Joe didn't think he'd mind. “I heard from a reliable source.”

“Source?”

“Taemin, of SHINee.”

“Then it's Kai,” L said. “They're friends.”

“It was someone else,” L.Joe said. Technically speaking Taemin had admitted to it being Kai, but said there was another person as well. L.Joe just didn't feel like outing Kai randomly.

“There's twelve of them, there should be at least one,” Sungyeol said.

“Let's take guesses,” L said. “And then we'll watch more videos and see if we want to change our minds.”

“There was this guy who could really sing,” Joon said. “Who was that?”

“Chen, I think,” L said, checking back with a list of members with pictures that he'd found.

“He's my pick,” Joon said.

“What, really?” Sungyeol asked. “I think it's that little guy. Him.”

“Xiumin,” L read from the list. “L.Joe, your guess?”

“I suck at this,” L.Joe said.

“It's the great irony that you do,” Sungyeol said. “Who?”

L.Joe looked at the list and tried to remember the music videos. This was impossible. “That one,” he pointed at one at random.

“Hmm, Lay.” Sungyeol read and snickered. “Lay? The jokes I could...”

“Please don't,” L said and turned to L.Joe. “I wouldn't bet on that one.”

“Maybe?” Joon said.

“Myungsoo-ah?” Sungyeol asked. “Your pick?”

L's finger hovered over Sehun but switched to Baekhyun. “That one.”

“Okay, all bets are in, let's watch some videos!”

They watched the MVs again, and then random videos. EXO at an interview, EXO doing random shit, the kind of videos of idols that were all over. They recognized mistakes, laughed at comments, giggled at the hilarious pairing videos some fans made with flower borders and selective cutting and awkward music.

L.Joe tried to study the guy he'd picked, but there wasn't a whole lot on him. He was a dancer, at least, so he'd chosen the right person to watch. He played the piano. Seemed quiet and unassuming but when he danced, it was like something woke up inside him, he turned into a different person. L.Joe watched a lot of dancers do a lot of things, and these weren't necessarily terribly difficult dances or anything, but the way this guy moved his hips... it was pure sex. He was starting to feel like he was watching soft porn, and so was his cock.

He tore his eyes away from the screen and cleared his throat. “So, anyone want to change their picks?” he asked. He hadn't paid much attention to the other eleven members, but he was pretty sure that Sungyeol's at least was wrong.

Sungyeol had realized too. “I'm switching,” he said. “L's pick is looking stronger, but I'm going to go with that guy. Tao.”

“Too obvious, it can't be him,” L said.

“Is Kai really not it?” Joon asked.

“We've excluded Kai,” Sungyeol said, glancing at L.Joe. “L.Joe, your horse is not a winner, so pick a new one.”

L.Joe was done with this game. He just wanted to take the laptop into his room and watch Lay dance some more. He looked at the list without managing to gather any enthusiasm for the game. “The guy who's always touching them... Luhan?” he suggested.

The others protested immediately. “No way,” L said. “That's the typical guy who is so straight he can't even imagine anyone being gay, so he's totally cool with climbing on everyone.”

“I told you I suck.”

“You're better at picking the straightest ones,” Sungyeol said. “Maybe that's why you end up with straight guys all the time.”

L.Joe laughed. “I told you that's my type.”

“Joon-hyung? Want to switch?”

Joon and L stood by their choices.

“Now we just need to find out,” Sungyeol said.

“How?” L asked, intrigued.

“Easy,” Sungyeol said. “We send in our bait. L.Joe, do you have any activities with EXO?”

L.Joe kicked his leg.

“With that bait you'll get only straight guys,” Joon laughed.

L.Joe wanted to kick him too, but Joon was a hyung, and as opposed to Sungyeol might also punch back. “We can use L as bait,” he suggested. “They won't know he's taken.”

“The bait that catches all fish,” Sungyeol said.

“Aish,” L said, smiling happily. “What about Sungyeol-hyung?”

“I don't catch any,” Sungyeol said. “Nobody likes me.”

They all laughed.

“I mean it,” Sungyeol said, sighing, accepting defeat. “I'll never get laid in my life.”

 

“We'll be sharing hotel with EXO next week,” Chunji thought aloud. They were scattered in the dorm, exhausted, too much so to move. After coming back from filming, Chunji and CAP had gotten into a stand-off about something to do with their room, L.Joe wasn't clear on what. Which meant Chunji bitched and CAP looked more and more desperate. Eventually Niel and Ricky joined to “mediate” which ended with all of them brawling on the floor. At least the discussion was forgotten now.

“Ooooh!” Niel jumped up. “Taemin-sshi, Taemin-sshi said there's another guy in EXO! We can find out. Teen Top mission! Find out who in EXO is into guys!”

“What do I get if I win?” Ricky asked.

“Hugs and kisses!” Niel declared.

“What about the right to pick your room,” Chunji said. “Whoever wins gets to switch room with whomever he wants.”

“I like my room,” Changjo said.

“Then you better win,” Chunji said, “or someone might kick you out of it.”

“Ahh.”

“L.Joe-hyung is going to win,” Ricky complained.

L.Joe perked up at his name being mentioned. His mind had wandered. Sharing hotel with EXO meant having the chance to see Lay up close. How close?

“What am I winning?” L.Joe asked.

“L.Joe-hyung is terrible at it,” Changjo said, ignoring L.Joe. “I'm going to win.”

“CAP-hyung is not going to win,” Niel said, smiling at CAP.

“Nope,” CAP agreed.

 

The weather was beautiful the day they got to the hotel. They got there fairly early, having an empty afternoon, and L.Joe and CAP hung around watching Changjo and Ricky dance and play around, while Niel and Chunji headed out to go shopping. The kids had found an open conference room on the same floor as their hotel rooms with enough space to dance in. The conference chairs and table had been pushed to the side.

There was a bustle as EXO arrived, splitting into rooms, getting their luggage in place. A few of them passed by and peeked into the room, greeting them briefly. After a little while a group of them came inside properly, having dropped off their stuff. Some joined in dancing, Kai and Lay and Luhan, and Ricky and Changjo tried to teach them the steps to Rocking. Three others sat with CAP and L.Joe. CAP looked asleep despite the noise, so they talked to L.Joe. Turned out it was EXO's leader Suho along with Baekhyun and Tao.

The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, and L.Joe was glad Niel was gone, or he'd surely launched into some investigation or other trying to figure out who was what, but he also wished CAP would wake up, because he couldn't watch Lay dance with these guys talking to him all the time. After a while, Chen and Chanyeol showed up and wanted to go out for food, but some others wanted to stay and eat later. L.Joe was left alone in the chairs with the sleeping CAP.

The dancing three remained, now teaching Ricky and Changjo the steps to MAMA. Suddenly they were talking about something and pointing at L.Joe, and then Lay came over, smiling and bowing and gesturing for him to join them. L.Joe tried not to be weird. He'd just been watching Lay skip and twist like each move came as naturally as breathing. Even when learning Rocking, he'd looked more like a pro than the Teen Top members. And the way he ground his hips, L.Joe could have watched him all day. All night. Turning down Lay's polite offer seemed impossible, so he reluctantly headed over. It was embarrassing because he was much slower at learning than Ricky and Changjo. And when Lay demonstrated the moves, standing in front of him, his eyes were too busy eating up the sight to register what he was doing.

Changjo elbowed him. “Hyung.”

“What?”

“You're staring,” Changjo whispered.

L.Joe cleared his throat. “One more time, please?” he asked Lay, biting his lip to not smile.

“Focus, hyung,” Changjo scolded.

He did his best to focus, and eventually, little by little, the steps started to make sense. Soon they were dancing together, six of them like one of EXO's subgroups, and managed to get an entire sequence right and fairly well-timed. Their cheers and high-fives woke CAP up.

“Let's eat something,” Ricky suggested.

“We should wait for Niel and Chunji,” L.Joe said, glancing at CAP.

CAP corrected his hat and waved his hand dismissively. “Let's eat.”

“Let's go together?” Lay said, his Korean was accented but decent.

They decided to order to their rooms. Teen Top was invited into Kai and Sehun's room. On the way there, L.Joe ended up in the back next to Lay, as if by accident. And tried to think of a way to open up conversation. He pretended to have forgotten Lay's name, and Lay introduced himslf as well as his members again. “You dance well.”

“I really don't,” L.Joe laughed, thinking he was teasing.

“No, no,” Lay said with a serious face. “Pff. You dance well. Better than some of us,” he smiled, probably thinking of a specific member. Oh god, that dimple in his right cheek, L.Joe's fingers twitched, wanting to touch it. “Good... hm,” Lay paused, struggling with the language. “Beautiful... lines. Like this.” He did a twist with his hips and swung his arm gracefully out to one side. “Very good,” he insisted, continuing to walk casually like that hadn't just been the sexiest thing, like L.Joe hadn't just wanted to drop to his knees on the spot.

L.Joe's eyes wanted to linger on his hips for a second, but he quickly tore them away. “Thanks,” he said, smiling, hoping his cheeks weren't heating up noticeably.

They ate. L.Joe was acutely aware of whatever Lay said or did. Whenever Lay listened, his eyes looked elsewhere but focused intensely, as if trying to solve the great mystery of the Korean language right there and then, giving it one hundred percent of his attention. Whenever he spoke, he had this little quirked smile in the corner of his mouth like he amused himself, which sometimes teased out the dimple. When idle, he looked relaxed and content, genuinely having a good time. L.Joe found himself gravitating that way, sitting next to him, leaning in when he spoke. He was just being polite, he told himself. Since Lay wasn't a native Korean he deserved a little extra attention.

The conversation flowed this way and that. Kai said something about Lay not having tried some Korean foods because he stuck to ordering the same things, and as example used the dish L.Joe had ordered. “Let him try some,” Kai said.

L.Joe smiled disarmingly, trying to get out of it, but now everyone were looking at him. He self-consciously picked up a piece. Lay, who was watching the scene a little confusedly, probably not having followed entirely, gestured me? before smiling and ducking down and taking the food in his mouth.

L.Joe had intended to just move it to his plate. Stunned, then laughing, he put the chopsticks away. Lay chewed happily, nodding and giving a thumbs up, then looked for Luhan to explain why Kai was dying of laughter. Luhan had no answer because he was starting to laugh too.

“L.Joe-hyung's face,” Kai said, which made everyone else start laughing too.

L.Joe didn't know what was so funny, so he let them laugh. He had a suspicion that he really had made a face though. Why was he letting this guy get to him so much? By now he should be skilled and suave, and either way, they weren't even flirting.

Kai's outburst had gotten the last formality out of their gathering, however, and they hung out like friends, chatted and shared food and exchanged phone numbers. Returning to the conference room they found Niel and Chunji hanging out with Suho and a few other EXO members; they had apprently run into each other on town and gone back together. Niel was being as charming as he could possibly be, trying, no doubt, to complete the mission.

CAP found his corner and zoned out, relaxing, happy with just observing the guys. L.Joe retired to sit next to him, feeling a little overwhelmed by all the people, a little sore like he'd concentrated so hard on Lay that he had no energy left to parry anything else. He wanted to go back to his room and get some peace and quiet, but he couldn't walk away from Lay. Lay had found two other Chinese-speaking members and was talking to them with something similar to excitement, except he somehow seemed so calm even when talking animatedly and laughing. L.Joe melted into the chair, full on good food, and chewed on his lip, watching him. He had pretty hands. Graceful. They probably felt amazing wrapped...

Kai sank into the chair on L.Joe's other side. “I hear you talked to Taemin,” he said softly.

“Mm,” L.Joe said, gathering himself. “Thank you.”

“I didn't do anything.” Kai shook his head. “We just talked about it a little, and Taemin thought someone from SM should be there. I couldn't, so he went. He's braver than me, really.” He gestured out towards the room. “I'm not even out, properly, among members.”

“He said there were more,” L.Joe wondered.

“One, that I know of,” Kai said. “But we don't talk about it. It's been sort of like don't ask don't tell, it's kind of the way SM does it.”

“It's, um, it's not Lay-hyung, is it?” L.Joe peered at Kai in the corner of his eye, too embarrassed to look directly at him.

Kai perked up, smiling. “You like him? He's a nice hyung. I didn't think someone could be so innocent and humble and hard-working in real life. Although, no, it's not him.” He thought about something for a second, and right there was extremely alike Taemin. Perhaps they hung out enough that they copied each other, L.Joe thought. “He's very talented. Even if he's also pretty funny, he's very serious about work and very skilled. He plays lots of instruments really well and he's, well, he's obviously the second best dancer in EXO because of me,” he smiled, half embarrassed modesty, half hungry pride.

L.Joe liked guys with good sense of music and rhythm. He watched Lay and Xiumin do some dance moves, cheered on by half of Teen Top and EXO, and to his inner eye contrasted those powerful dance moves to his graceful hands playing over piano keys, channeling emotion. “Mm,” he said, shaking his head, shaking away the image. “You're making me curious of who it is, though.”

Kai glanced at CAP. “Guess?” he suggested. Indicating that he'd let him know if he guessed right.

“I'm terrible at knowing who is and isn't,” L.Joe admitted. Not all of EXO were present, some where elsewhere or resting in their rooms, but he looked over the ones that were there. “Not Xiumin,” he decided. “Not Suho or Kris.” If Kai knew about it, it was more likely to be one in his own subgroup, or at least a native Korean, it seemed intuitive that the Chinese members would be more difficult to get close with. “Sehun?” he guessed.

“Nope.” Kai looked at his hyungs too. “I could get Chen-hyung to check with Lay-hyung,” he said. “I don't think that hyung would mind, and he certainly wouldn't cause trouble for you.”

“No, no,” L.Joe protested quickly. Then swallowed. Why was he refusing?

Luckily, some members were calling Kai over, wanting him to come look at something. Kai excused himself and left.

“You're turning guys down now?” CAP peered at him, curious. “You like him.”

“He might not be interested,” L.Joe said.

“Or he might,” CAP said.

“It's not a big deal. I'm not in the mood.”

CAP snorted. “Since when. You haven't had anything else on your mind since they came in here and started dancing. Heck, you haven't had anything else on your mind for days.” He sat up, waking up properly. “You're going to chicken out now that the guy isn't declaring himself to you first? Afraid to be the first one to risk it?”

L.Joe was offended at that. “I've come on to guys first,” he protested.

“Who,” CAP countered.

Well. Not Kikwang, not Hoon, not Hyuk, not really Insoo and Gunwoo. “Chunji,” he said, and bit his tongue. What the hell. What the fuck was he saying!?!

CAP's eyes narrowed. “Chunji?”

“Err, long ago,” L.Joe said. “I just, I thought, but well, he's straight.”

“How long ago?” CAP asked.

“Years,” L.Joe assured him.

“So you haven't made the first move in years,” CAP stated.

Damned. He'd walked right into that one.

“Chicken,” CAP said and got up. “Come on.”

“What?”

CAP urged him out of the chair. “Come on.” Not getting refused, he herded L.Joe over to the group at the other end of the room. Then talked to Niel about something. L.Joe felt a sucking panic creep into the bottom of his stomach. Who knew what those two would come up with. He looked through the little crowd and found Lay to the side along with Luhan and Tao who had joined in, looking tired. There was only one viable choice. Make a move, or at least look like he was making a move, before CAP and Niel got started. He subtly wandered around and ended up next to Lay.

“Hello,” Lay said.

“Hello,” L.Joe said, startled at being spoken to. He didn't have a step two to this plan. “Kai told me you play the piano really well.”

“Mm, yes,” Lay said. Just a statement.

Which got L.Joe to remember. “There's a piano in the lobby.”

“Oh?” a tiny smile appeared on Lay's lips. “You want to hear?”

He really did. “I do,” he said.

Lay touched Tao's shoulder and said something to him in Chinese, then gestured for L.Joe to lead the way. They took the elevator down. L.Joe didn't know what to talk about, but Lay made little polite conversation, just the kind of meaninless smalltalk that happened in elevators everywhere. He wanted desperately to keep it going but when Lay went quiet, L.Joe just froze up. Thankfully the ride was nearly over. It was getting late and the lobby was mostly empty, only the staff and a single person waiting to check in. The fans that had managed to find out where they were were kept outside. They headed for the piano and Lay sat immediately, looking straight ahead without seeing, setting his fingers in position, clearly searching through his mind for something. A song. Then he played.

It looked so easy. L.Joe played himself, he knew it wasn't easy, but the tones flowed flawlessly. He had to sit down, so he sat next to Lay watching his fingers work, just listening. Then glanced up at Lay's face, and he was lost in the melody, eyes only half present, following his hands softly, tiny expressions reacting to the rise and fall of the tones. L.Joe could watch him undisturbed, because Lay saw nothing else than the music.

When Lay's eyes shifted, returning to reality and focusing on L.Joe, L.Joe's heart beat hard against his chest, just once, but hard enough to make him jerk back and look away, smiling awkwardly, feeling his face heat up. “Uaa, you're very good,” he said to cover it up.

Lay smiled peacefully. “Do you play?” He gestured to the keys and scooted to the side to give L.Joe more space.

L.Joe couldn't follow that up. “No, no, I'm not very good,” he said.

“Yes.” Lay took his hands, intending to put them on the piano.

He tore his hands away, then saw what he'd done in Lay's expression. Fuck. He's been too tense, hadn't been prepared for the touch. It was the first skin to skin, his hands still hummed with it. “I'm sorry!” he said. Fuck fuck fuck. “Oh god.” He turned away, embarrassed out of his mind, not knowing how to fix it.

Lay studied him like he was a rare wild animal. “You don't like?” he asked. “It's okay, I don't really like skinship with guys too. Either.”

L.Joe did like it way, way too much. “It's not like that. I don't mind that.” He couldn't say it, it was too embarrassing. And now Lay said he didn't like being physical with guys. Not very encouraging. “My playing can't compare to yours,” he said.

“It's not a competition,” Lay said. “We don't win prizes. I just want to play together, it will be fun. Go, go.”

What could he do? L.Joe played the first thing he could think of, a piece of a thing he'd tried to compose long ago, he could get away with it being simple because it was unfinished. Lay watched and listened with full concentration. When L.Joe was done, Lay nodded and took a breath, readying. Waited. L.Joe played again. This time, Lay's fingers followed his, tagging along on the ride. He'd learned the sequence almost flawlessly, adjusting on the fly where it wasn't right. The third time L.Joe played it, Lay played a slightly adjusted version, making harmonies. Their hands came to rest at the same time, right next to each other.

“Wah, you're amazing,” L.Joe said, meaning it more than he'd ever before. Lay smiled and bowed at the praise.

“It's good,” Lay said. Nodded to the piano. “Is it your song? Teen Top?”

“No, it...” ah so embarrassing, why had he chosen his own composition! “It's um, it's just something I've written long ago, just a little... it's not finished.”

Lay was listening, eyes mostly zoned out in concentration but glancing down at his lips in between. “Written,” he repeated. “You've made it yourself? Composer?”

“Yes, heh, composer.” L.Joe felt his face heat up again. Not now, not like this, what was he, a teenager? He licked his lips and turned away. “Um, I, could show you,” he said. This was it. “I have some stuff on the laptop in my room.”

Lay took a moment to process it. Like he felt there was more to that than what he understood, but couldn't figure out what he was missing. L.Joe had to look over at him to see what he was doing. “Okay,” he said carefully. L.Joe couldn't read his expression.

“Okay?”

“Yes, okay,” Lay said, getting up from the piano.

Did he understand? Probably not. The elevator ride took place in silence again. This time L.Joe had trouble standing still. He checked his phone, looked at the walls, the mirror, the ceiling. Lay watched him curiously. L.Joe felt self-conscious. He checked his hair in the mirror and fixed it, and while he was doing that, leaned a little, letting his body make a better curve. Beautiful lines, Lay had said. He saw Lay watch him, but couldn't tell what he was thinking. Agh this was silly. He turned away from the mirror, deciding to stay still, but after a few seconds was checking his phone again.

He lead the way to his room. He could hear the others still going at it in the conference room. Changjo would be busy there for a while.

When the door closed behind them, L.Joe turned towards him, wanting nothing but to sneak his fingers under the waistband of those loose pants and kiss the corner of Lay's mouth and continue down his...

Lay walked past him and checked out the room. “Who sleeps here?” he asked, gesturing to the two beds.

“Changjo,” L.Joe said, pointing to the bed closer to the door. “Me.” Pointing to the other. He walked over to his own bed, but Lay continued to the window. “Come sit down,” he said, patting the bed.

Lay turned towards him, hesitating.

“Hyung?”

“Tell me what you're not saying?” Lay asked.

L.Joe licked his lips. Don't lose your nerve, he told himself. Just do it. “I want to blow you,” he said, resting one hand on his hip, letting his eyes drop down Lay's body. God, that body. He hadn't quite allowed himself to look before, and regretted doing it now because it was hellishly distracting; even if he knew he'd be rejected he wanted to give it his best shot. But damned.

Lay frowned.

That wasn't the best first reaction. Maybe he didn't know what the words meant; who would teach him those? “It means...”

“I know, I know,” Lay said dismissively. Which was a relief, that could have been very embarrassing.

“You can just say no,” L.Joe said when he didn't continue.

Lay's eyes were somewhere else, thinking about something. They were pretty eyes, L.Joe thought. The way both the inner and outer corner were turned. He wanted those eyes on him while he...

“I'm not saying no,” Lay said.

Which wasn't a yes either, but it was close enough. He reached out and took Lay's wrist. “I'm very good,” he promised. An amused spark came into Lay's eyes, a hint of a smile. L.Joe came closer, unsure of if he was welcome, even more so because Lay had said he didn't like skinship, until he could rub his hand over Lay's hips, nudging his shirt up, getting a glimpse of his stomach. When he looked up to make sure Lay wasn't freaking out or anything, he found a hunger he was very familiar with. Lay wanted him. The realization sent searing electricity crackling down his back with painful intensity.

He was staring at Lay's lips. Self-consciously lowering his gaze again, he tried to focus back on what he was here for. “Is this okay?” he asked, not liking having to ask, taking a hesitant little step back.

Lay slid around him, graceful like a cat, and sat on the bed. L.Joe sat next to him, wishing he could figure out the key to Lay's mystery, make him stay there. Lay watched the darkness outside the window, one finger tapping the bed to some inner beat.

This was turning into the trickiest project of L.Joe's life. He hadn't expected any success, yet gotten this far, and Lay clearly wanted it but didn't help one bit.

“Your members don't know about you,” L.Joe said. It was a clumsy attempt at making Lay give up information on his sexuality without asking outright.

“About me?” Lay asked, face blank.

It was funny somehow. He zoned out all the time in between. L.Joe laughed, managed to control himself, but then started laughing again seeing Lay's mildly bewildered expression, and doubled over which put his forehead on Lay's thigh.

“Hey, hey,” Lay said, his hand coming to the back of L.Joe's neck. Instead of pulling him away, Lay's fingers tread gently into L.Joe's hair. L.Joe stopped laughing.

Shivers of pleasure and excitement spread from his neck, vibrated through his whole body. Lay's fly was right there within sight. L.Joe slowly shifted, careful to not pull away from Lay's hand, slipping off the bed and forward in between Lay's legs. While Lay caressed his ear he slid his hands up Lay's thighs, feeling the hard muscles through the fabric, up to his waist. Lay pulled his shirt over his head.

Suddenly given access to all that smooth pale skin, L.Joe lost his breath. Everything about Lay was somehow so perfect. L.Joe wanted to kiss his shoulder and run his fingers over the smooth long muscles along his side and see if he... No, focus. Focus on what he could have. L.Joe's eyes followed the gentle lines of his muscles disappearing beneath his pants, and felt annoyed at the interruption. He reached for Lay's fly...

Lay's finger hooked in the arm of his shirt. “This,” Lay said. L.Joe didn't give him time to say anything more, just took the shirt off and tossed it away. It didn't mean anyting, some guys felt self-conscious being undressed alone. Chunji too had liked them to be at approximately the same level of nakedness. But Lay's beautiful eyes roaming his skin made him extremely self-conscious. Compared to the perfect, lean body in front of him he was just a skinny jumble of knees and elbows.

“You can close your eyes and think about someone else, that's okay,” he said.

Lay looked like he didn't understand, but L.Joe didn't have time to explain it. He undid Lay's fly and pushed his pants out of the way a bit and scooped out his cock. He was quite hard already, L.Joe appreciated that. His mouth was already watering. Lay gave up a breathy sigh and L.Joe hurried to suck him in, wanting to feel him grow and harden in his mouth. And while doing so he tried to imprint it all in his memory. The smell and taste of the salty musk, the exact shape against his tongue, how much of Lay's length remained for him to wrap his fingers around. The sensation of Lay's fingers weaving into his hair and curling along his nape.

“Sunbae,” Lay said softly, “you really are good at this.”

This was nothing, he'd barely gotten started. He supported himself on Lay's thighs and started moving, and Lay rolled his hips up against him in turn, adjusting to his rhythm. Soon Lay was panting, his movements a little less controlled. L.Joe came up for air and jacked him, looking up at him through his lashes. Lay's eyes were halfway closed, looking out the window, not seeing at all. “Mmmm,” he moaned as his eyes closed and his head fell back. L.Joe dove down again, settling in for a long run. As Lay was pushed further and further his moans got louder, more desperate. When his voice went up in pitch L.Joe figured he was getting close. L.Joe wrapped his arms around his hips and pulled him further forward, perched on the very edge of the bed, legs spread wide. Lay fell back on his elbows, eyes closed, gasping whenever L.Joe sucked harder. L.Joe picked up the pace as fast as he could and Lay's body rose up to meet him while Lay moaned things in Chinese that had to be curses. He put one hand on Lay's stomach, jacked him in time with the sucking with his other, and kept going hard until his body was screaming for oxygen. Lay's voice changed into begging, understandable in any language, before he suddenly went completely quiet, just drawing breath. His stomach rolled up under L.Joe's palm, and then he came.

L.Joe sat back, gasping for air, but not fast enough to get away completely. Lay's warm cum splattered on his chin and chest and then the hotel room floor. Sitting back on his heels, L.Joe watched Lay's hands dig into the sheets and petted his cock gently, milking him out and letting him come down.

“Nnnh,” Lay moaned, falling onto his back and taking a deep breath. Said something in Chinese and slowly sat back up like his body really resisted the movement.

L.Joe wiped his chin with the back of his hand and looked at the gleaming stain on his skin. Licked it off, just for the taste. Lay's cum was thick and slightly bitter, but with some kind of round, almost soft, feeling. Like eating velvet. It stroked heat into his body going down his throat, and he couldn't get enough. He drew his fingers through the streak on his chest and brought it up, but then Lay caught his hand.

Lay looked like something was going on that completely surpassed comprehension. Started saying something in Chinese, and remembered himself and stopped.

“You taste so good,” L.Joe whispered, his voice rough. His skin ached to be touched, he leaned forward into Lay's space, it didn't matter what Lay thought, all he wanted was to get more, more skin, more heat, more Lay.

Lay warily accepted him, slowly wrapping around him protectively, enclosing L.Joe in his space, his smell. L.Joe didn't even understand that he'd reached down and started touching himself before he was close to coming, so hard it was painful, needing it so bad he thought he'd fall apart. He'd almost gotten off sucking Lay's cock, now Lay's beautiful hands were on his back and he had to come now or lose his mind. He was smearing Lay's cum on his own cock, he thought, jacking himself, and the world exploded in white hot light, then faded to black.

He shouldn't have done that, was his first coherent thought. Blowing straight guys came with a few rules, rules like “don't let them see you get off” and “don't get all needy”. He worked himself out of Lay's arms and sat back on his heels.

“You like giving head?” Lay asked, watching him curiously.

How did Lay know the language for this stuff? Had his members taught it to him? L.Joe nodded, still a little dazed. He suddenly got an image of himself as he must look right now, on his knees on the floor, Lay's cum on his skin, lips red from the abuse, pants unbuttoned and spread, and a rush of heat flashed through his body. “I love it,” he said, smiling a little. He didn't have the sense to be embarrassed or worried right now. That had to be the best orgasm of his life. He could smell Lay on his own skin.

He looked down at Lay's body, his fly still undone and exposing him fully, flushed skin coated in a thin layer of sweat. God, what he would do for a moment more, for a night, for permission to kiss his chest and work him out of those pants properly and climb on top of him... But getting greedy would only make him unhappy. He licked his lips, one last admission, before getting up and walking over to the mirror, fixing the mess Lay had made of his hair.

Behind him in the mirror, Lay stayed seated on the side of the bed, elbows on his knees, watching him blankly, either staring at his back or zoning out, he couldn't tell. Since he didn't say anything or show any indication of moving, L.Joe went into the bathroom and cleaned up, brought out a towel. He felt Lay's eyes follow him as he went down on one knee at his feet and rubbed at the stain on the floor. Lay's cum had seeped into the carpet, but probably wouldn't leave a noticeable stain.

“Do you want to shower?” L.Joe asked.

Lay licked his lips. “Yes. Is it okay?” he said. Paused, but then got up without saying anything else and went into the bathroom. L.Joe heard the shower start. He changed clothes and checked his phone.

Good hunting? Changjo had messaged. I'll go hang out with the hyungs.

Lay came out of the bathroom in his pants, just a short while later. He seemed to be relaxed enough about this, so L.Joe let his eyes roam his damp skin while he dried his hair. When done, Lay pushed his hair to the side and hung the towel over the back of a chair. L.Joe laughed.

“You can't let it dry like that.”

“Hm?” Lay said, eyebrows coming up comically.

“You'll have the stupidest hair.” L.Joe walked over and shook out the front of his hair for him. When he stepped back to make sure it was okay, Lay was smiling.

“Ah, thank you,” Lay said.

L.Joe wanted to kiss his dimple while he ran his hand down his front, flicking his fingers over his nipple and tipping his head back to give him access to the sensitive skin on his throat.

“L.Joe?” Lay asked.

Caught out, L.Joe spun around. “Nothing,” he said, back turned, and walked over to the window. “I don't know when Changjo might come back,” he said, “we should get back to the others.”

“Yes, of course.” Lay looked around for his shirt, and L.Joe picked it up and tossed it to him.

They left the room together. L.Joe watched Lay's back in front of him and wondered. He'd been imagining sucking Lay's cock for days; weeks. Even looked up pictures of him, hadn't been able to resist. He'd figured that once he'd done it for real, the fascination would fade. Not like Lay would be less sexy, but this clenching feeling, this uncontrollable interest, would go away. It had with all the other guys. But right now, he was already itching to go again.

He reached out and caught Lay's arm.

“Mm?” Lay asked, turning to face him.

L.Joe glanced both ways but the corridor was empty. “Let's do this again, sometime,” he said, sliding his fingers along the inside of Lay's wrist.

Lay's expression was a mystery.

“Hyung, you're killing me, say something.”

Lay blinked and casually tread his hand into L.Joe's. “Sure,” he said, nodding. Then led the way towards the conference room.

Lay didn't seem shy, L.Joe thought, yet had strange reservations. Seemed casual enough about touching, but said he didn't like it. Didn't get embarrassed about what he or L.Joe said, but was passive and contemplative. So far, seducing him was the most difficult project of L.Joe's life, and the feedback was sparse and contradictary. Yet he smiled while walking. He'd never have dared to hold a guy's hand in semi-public like this; he'd never have done it if left to his own initiative. But Lay dared. Lay did it. So confusing, but somehow so great.

He was heating up again. They better get to the other guys. He needed a layer of protection against this person, the presence of witnessess to keep him safe, or he might, or it might...

The conference room was empty.

“Oh,” Lay said, going inside and looking around. “I guess they went to bed.”

Fuck. “I should also go to sleep,” L.Joe said.

Lay looked mildly surprised. “I see. It was nice meeting you,” he said and bowed. “Good night, sleep well.”

“You too,” L.Joe said, returning the bow.

L.Joe watched his back as he walked away. His legs were strong, his ass... L.Joe could imagine how it felt, smooth and soft yet hard and sturdy, perfectly shaped under his palms. Dancing like that, with a body like that, he'd have that grove along his spine in the small of his back, just where the lean line of his hips kissed the taut curve of his ass and L.Joe wanted to lick it. Wanted to take those skillful hands and guide them to his hair, feel the fingertips drag over his scalp when he kissed Lay's stomach. Wanted, more than anything else in the world, to make Lay feel like L.Joe had felt watching him play the piano. There was only really one thing that L.Joe had confidence in knowing how to touch as well as Lay knew how to touch the piano keys. Had he felt it? Had it been good enough?

He could just stroll after Lay, follow him to his room. Lay would turn around and give him that look of curious attention, waiting for a cue or an explanation. Mildly amused, patient, reducing his entire world to the issue in front of him until it was figured out. And L.Joe would look both ways in the corridor and lean in like he had some secret to share, and touch his face and whisper, “Can I kiss you?” And then, swept up with the feeling, Lay would unlock his door and they'd tumble inside, kissing, already eager to...

Did Lay share room? He probably did. L.Joe sighed, knocked out of his imagination, and walked back to his own room. Who did Lay share room with? Probably another of the Chinese members, so Tao or Luhan or... Kris? Did EXO have people they always roomed with, or did they split randomly, or take turns or have some other system? L.Joe wanted to ask. There were a lot of things he wanted to ask Lay. None of them were going to be asked though. Especially not the ones that mattered. This was just a favor for a straight boy, just another night in the adventurous life of L.Joe.

If they had set roommates, those who wanted to could arrange it so they always roomed with another with the same... interests. Say, if Lay and Tao were into guys, and always roomed, they could easily get off together without the other members knowing. It felt like Lay could keep a secret.

The faintest hint of a stab of jealousy reminded L.Joe that he still had a heart, and it was trying to get in the game. What would it be like to wake up with Lay every morning? He stopped and put a hand to his chest and hushed it, as if he could talk to his own heart. “Pointless,” he whispered. “Useless, it's useless to be like that in this business.” His heart obeyed and calmed down.

Outside his door, Changjo stood playing with his phone, and looked up when he came walking. They went inside. “Hyung, where have you been?” he asked. “You could have told me it was fine to come back.”

“There was a piano in the lobby, I played some with Lay-hyung,” L.Joe said.

“Mhm?” Changjo sat up and put the phone away. “And?”

“And nothing.” L.Joe kicked off his shoes and threw himself on the bed.

“Aren't you going to brush your teeth?”

Since the episode with Hyuk, Changjo had kept the question about brushing your teeth as a way to ask if L.Joe had been hooking up with someone. “I already did,” L.Joe said.

Changjo failed at suppressing a smile.

L.Joe washed his face again and shred some clothes and got into bed, but he felt tired and unsettled at once. After turning over three times, he heard Changjo sitting up again in the dark.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Fine,” L.Joe said. “Can't sleep.”

“We talked to EXO about eating breakfast with them tomorrow,” Changjo said. “They're not heading out until later either.”

The idea of facing Lay tomorrow, as if they were just two guys hanging out, was really depressing. What if he'd be weird and awkward? What if he'd told his members? What if he didn't want to be seen with L.Joe? What if he didn't give a rat's ass anymore now that he'd gotten off?

Ah, it didn't matter. It would be an unfamiliar situation because L.Joe had never had to hang out closely with anyone post-favor before, aside from Chunji, but it should be fine. Lay was a professional. He tried to trust in that and sleep, but scenarios kept spinning in his head half the night.

 

The breakfast buffét was a noisy place when L.Joe and Changjo got there. All of EXO were already there, talking and eating and spreading out. CAP waved from a table in the middle, sitting with Niel and a bunch of EXO guys. They fetched food and headed that way. When L.Joe got there, CAP got up and made him sit in his place. Right next to Lay.

L.Joe glared at CAP, who happily scuttled around the table to sit elsewhere. Why was he struck with these insane members.

“Good morning,” Lay said politely.

“Good morning,” L.Joe said. Chanyeol was on his other side, glancing over at him curiously after watching CAP embarrass himself. He could tell something was going on but Lay hadn't told him anything, L.Joe figured. “Good morning, hyung.”

Good morning,” Chanyeol answered. “What are you doing today?”

“We're just travelling on,” L.Joe said. “In an hour or two, I think. How about you?” he directed the question sort of generally, but Lay was the one who answered.

“We are a photo shoot. We have, sorry, I'm not really awake yet,” Lay chuckled and shook his head at himself, “We have a photo shoot,” he enounciated.

For posters and stuff,” Chanyeol added.

“Here?”

“By the sea,” Lay said.

L.Joe wanted to go with them to the sea. Feel the sand under his feet, breathe the fresh spring air and watch the wind play in Lay's hair. He'd wear beach clothes, shorts, maybe be shirtless. The sun would shine and L.Joe could flick glittering drops of water his way and watch them slide down his...

“Did you sleep well?” Chanyeol asked.

L.Joe cleared his throat. “I'd also like to go,” he said. “The sea in summer is nice.”

Lay nodded. “And across it, China.”

“Do you miss it?”

“Sometimes. But I've been here a lot now, it's starting to feel like home also.”

“That's nice. I was in the US a long time,” L.Joe said. “But it never felt like home. Maybe it wasn't long enough.”

“Hm, China is still... it's where I want to be,” Lay admitted. “Nothing wrong with Korea! But home is home. Although places are just places. It's the people that matter.”

L.Joe smiled. Cheesy, but so true.

“Sometimes, both places are home,” Lay said, his eyes getting lost in the distance, “Sometimes, nowhere.”

L.Joe knew that feeling exactly. He got an urge to console Lay, comfort him somehow, but he didn't know how. “Your Korean is really good,” he said.

“I study a lot,” Lay stated, back in the moment.

Don't brag, hyung,” Chanyeol scolded playfully, ”you're supposed to say, no, no, I'm not good enough yet.”

That's why I study a lot, because I'm not good enough,” Lay countered, making a childish face.

Chanyeol stuck out his tongue at him, and when L.Joe laughed, looked at L.Joe with happy sparkles in his eyes.

If L.Joe had worried that the breakfast would be awkward, he'd done so unnecessarily. They talked the whole breakfast through about their experiences going to live in new countries, and briefly about food and pets and random things, Chanyeol and Kai sliding in and out of the conversation but the two of them always staying a part of it.

“Do you have some time?” Lay asked when they were done.

“A little,” L.Joe said, looking for his members.

“Come.” Lay nudged him and waved at him to follow.

They returned out to the lobby. It was full of activity, people going this way or that or waiting for someone or something. Lay sat by the piano and L.Joe slid in next to him, looking around.

“Question? No. Hm. Can I ask you to play something?”

“Request?” L.Joe said automatically.

“Request,” Lay repeated. “I request the song from before, that you composed, is there more?”

“No, no.”

Lay laughed. “Why not?”

“I don't... with all these people...”

Lay's eyes went down, dark lashes against his cheeks. “I understand,” he said, nodding a little.

It was just playing the piano. L.Joe bit his lip, trying to understand why this person was climbing over all his defenses so easily, without even trying. Lay's disappointment, however well concealed, was unbearable. He wanted to leave, but he couldn't. So he played. His fingers were a little stiff but after a while he started to get into it. He played the whole thing, such as it was, and when he finished, Lay set his own fingers to the keys. They played it together. This time it was too long and Lay had to go back and do some parts over again to remember.

“There's an emotion, in a song,” Lay said. “What does it say?”

“What do you think it says?” L.Joe asked, curious.

Lay closed his eyes and replayed a few short segments, thinking for a long time. Then he said, “It's a, hm, prayer.”

It made L.Joe's heart swell with pride. “Yeah.”

Smiling, Lay looked over at him expectantly. They played it together again. Like before, Lay started improvising little adjustments that grew it into a harmony, splitting off and joining back in. At first beautiful and serious, then more and more silly, transforming it into trippy pop. They played around like that for a while, laughing and arguing, then L.Joe made him play something alone again. The pouring melody was like gentle showers of rain on a summer day.

Suddenly his members were there.

“Hyung!” Niel said. “There you are, why aren't you answering your phone, we have to go!”

“Go go go!” Chunji said, throwing something at him. His bag. Who had packed his things? And where was his phone? Ah right, he'd left it in the room.

Changjo came jogging. “Hyung why aren't you moving?” He handed him his phone and glasses. “I even packed your bags for you, come on, let's go.”

L.Joe sighed and picked up the bag. When he turned towards Lay, Lay looked a little lost. “I...” What was he supposed to say? “When are you leaving for China?”

“Two days,” Lay said.

So soon? “I guess we won't see each other for a while then.”

Lay nodded a little, eyes zoned out again.

“Good luck with your photo shoot.”

“Thank you,” Lay said and got up and bowed. “Work hard. Fighting!”

L.Joe laughed. God that was the cutest thing he'd ever seen. “Fighting,” he agreed, quietly so the members wouldn't hear him, and slipped away.

He sank into the car seat, feeling a little dizzy, and as they rode, more and more nauseous. He never got car sick, so he must have eaten something bad.

“Hyung, are you okay?” Changjo leaned over him. “You look...”

“Just feel a little sick,” L.Joe said, holding his throat.

“You know morning sickness doesn't usually come this fast,” Changjo said, stonefaced, “but maybe you should take a pregnancy test just in case.”

Niel and Chunji exploded in laughter. L.Joe punched him and Changjo doubled over and leaned away chuckling. Bastard. But he felt a little better already.

 

Chapter Text

It was late and the building was mostly empty. L.Joe wandered around looking for their manager so he could whine himself to a ride back to the dorm; Niel and Chunji were staying late and the others didn't feel like waiting for them, but the manager wasn't answering his phone. He should be somewhere here though. CAP and Ricky were checking the bottom floors and Changjo the middle, which put L.Joe on top. He didn't think he'd find anyone up there; the top floors were usually abandoned at this time. And so far into the maze of the top floor, he hadn't seen a person, hadn't heard a sound. It was almost spooky.

Then a voice, somewhere off to the right. “Hello?” L.Joe called. He didn't want to open any doors, so he hurried on and found a corridor going right. “Hyung? Hello?” He jogged forward.

There was a rustle, but the corridor echoed so he didn't hear from where, before a door opened right in front of him and he slammed into it, just barely getting his hands up in time.

“Oh!”

In the corner of his eye he saw a face, too young to be a manager, come around the door with surprised horror. “Oh, I'm sorry! Are you okay? Sorry sorry!”

L.Joe rubbed his hand, it hadn't been a terribly hard impact but his ring had somehow smashed against his other finger painfully. “It's okay, I'm okay. What are you doing opening doors so suddenly?”

The guy bowed and apologized some more. L.Joe asked if he'd seen anyone else.

“Actually, I'm lost,” the guy said. “My phone died when I was on my way here, and I can't find my members. Ah, C-Clown, I'm C-Clown's Ray.”

“Teen Top L.Joe,” L.Joe said, bowing in return. C-Clown, new and young, that was all he knew about them. They might have seen them at a distance, but he'd never interacted with them, and didn't think he'd recognize any members. “Do you know where you're supposed to be? This floor?”

“Probably not this floor,” Ray admitted, looking around. “It's empty. But I can't find my way back to the elevators.”

L.Joe offered to show him. They walked back and L.Joe explained why he was there. He hadn't opened any doors, thinking they would all be locked, but Ray suddenly tried a few. The third one actually opened. They looked at each other with surprise, but L.Joe saw the same mischivous glint in Ray's eyes. They slipped inside without saying a word.

Ray hit the lights. It was some kind of resting room or waiting room, with a couch, a bookshelf with some books, even two simple cots at the far back. The door wasn't locked because it didn't lock.

“If we never find the way out, we can sleep here,” Ray said, testing one of the cots.

L.Joe laid back on the other, heaving a happy sigh because his feet were so tired, and considered giving up on finding their manager and just nap here while Niel and Chunji worked. If only he'd brought the laptop, he could have watched a movie. It sucked watching stuff on the phone. Either way he needed to talk to the other guys first. He sat up again, and caught Ray's eyes snapping away from him. Ray licked his lips and rubbed his neck awkwardly and got up and walked over to the bookshelf, looking through it.

Maybe L.Joe didn't need a laptop to be entertained.

But first thing first. Experience had taught him a few things, by now. Ray called him sunbaenim, so C-Clown was newer than Teen Top, but that didn't really say anything. “How old are you?” L.Joe asked.

“I'm a -94,” Ray said, not looking away from the books.

“Then I'm the hyung,” L.Joe realized.

Ray glanced over. “Oh?”

“You don't have to sound so surprised.”

A nervous chuckle. “Oh I don't mean... eh. I meant I thought you knew that already.”

“Then why would I ask,” L.Joe muttered.

“Just...” Ray said with another nervous chuckle.

“Just?” That wasn't any way to talk to your sunbae and hyung. L.Joe didn't let kids get away with shit because they were handsome; in that case his members would have walked all over him by now.

“Ah, sorry, sorry, I forgot what I was saying,” Ray said, then a smile crept over his face. He looked younger when he smiled, L.Joe thought. “Hyung, tell me what I can do to make it up to you.”

Cheeky kid. L.Joe let his eyes drop, looking him over without hiding it. If Ray wasn't actually talking about what he thought he was, this should be enough to fluster him.

Ray's chin came out a tiny bit. “I mean it,” he said.

L.Joe lay back on the cot again, one foot on the floor. “Alright,” he said. “Get over here then.”

Ray followed orders. Cautious but eager, he walked up to the cot. He was manly, somehow, even with that cute face, which made him even cuter. L.Joe grabbed his shirt and pulled him down and kissed him. With a surprised moan, Ray climbed on top of him before he pulled away.

“I don't really kiss,” Ray said, wiping his lower lip with one knuckle.

“Sorry,” L.Joe said, feeling himself smirk. “Is your mouth off-limits for other stuff too then?”

Ray turned a little red, before he shook his head in a tiny but decisive no. A little shy, but already at a point where quitting simply wasn't an option. L.Joe let his gaze drag down Ray's chest and openly studied the forming bulge in his pants. He dug his hands under Ray's sweater and felt him shudder under his fingertips.

“Ah, I, can I just,” Ray said and escaped his touch by crawling down his body. He pushed up L.Joe's shirt just a little and kissed the centimeter of skin above the waist of his pants.

Oh god yes. It had been a long day and L.Joe was exhausted, and this was exactly what he needed; if someone had given him a single wish for anything in the world, he would have wished for this. A beautiful hoobae with slender, eager fingers fumbling open his pants, licking his lips, kissing his hip as he wrapped his hand around him.

L.Joe sighed with pleasure and Ray's lips parted in a satisfied smile before he latched onto the base of L.Joe's cock and licked slowly along his length like savoring a lollypop. L.Joe closed his eyes and dug his fingers into the thin mattress, while Ray hummed to himself quietly and slid over the head and sucked him into his mouth. Warm, wet happiness enveloped him, kindling need in the relaxed tinders, and Ray worked him slowly, gently urging the flames higher. L.Joe was used to rushing, getting up and on it and off in a searing blur. The slow burn rolled waves of pleasure through him, and he felt himself break into a sweat, rolling his hips, wanting to chase the high but also far too relaxed to do it. Instead he melted into Ray's touch and let him decide the pace. And Ray had all the patience in the world.

Eventually L.Joe was gripping the mattress, moaning, cursing. He wanted to stay here forever, but he also needed to get off, and the need had built so slowly, so carefully that it had gotten higher than usual. Ray had crafted this tower with great care and tonderness, but now it was reeling. L.Joe's whole world was reeling. He had to come, he had to, right now. He finally allowed himself to grab Ray's hair and Ray moaned suddenly, stuck with L.Joe's cock down his throat, struggled because of the surprise but gave up more or less instantly. L.Joe held his head in place and thrust up into his mouth, one, two, and he was crying out, wanting to come so bad he had to fight with every fiber to keep some semblance of control and not overdo it, three, four, and Ray was making desperate noises, five, and he let Ray go and jacked himself. Ray's hand slid down his hip and brushed his balls and slipped in between his legs, and he cursed and came.

Ray was smiling brightly at him when he managed to open his eyes again. Tiredness was pulling at his mind, trying to drag him down into the depths of sleep, but now wasn't the time. He sat up and gestured Ray closer. “Come here.”

He got Ray kneeling, straddling his lap, and dug him out of his pants. Ray shuddered; he'd been turned on for so long, every touch seemed to scathe him. L.Joe jacked him, gently at first, enjoying the way he squirmed, then picking up the pace quickly, harshly. The contrast made Ray buck up and moan.

“Ah, shit, ah,” Ray pleaded, curling forward against L.Joe, and L.Joe pushed his shirt up. When he kissed Ray's nipple, Ray whined and pushed him. “No, no, no.” Also no way to talk to your sunbae and hyung, so L.Joe let his teeth scrape his nipple, tugging at his cock urgingly. “Ah!” Ray's fingers clutched his shoulder, pushing and pulling at once, digging deep against his bones. It quite hurt, actually. L.Joe had to let go of Ray's shirt to pry his fingers loose. Still in some kind of tug of war, Ray finally groaned and convulsed in his hands and fell uncontrollably backwards.

L.Joe caught his shirt and held on. It took all his strength to pull Ray back up, or he'd fall off the cot and hit the back of his head on the bookshelf. Still not in control of himself, Ray tipped the other way instead, crashing down over him. L.Joe couldn't be bothered to push him away, he was too tired. Why did he hook up with kids younger than himself, they were too exhausting. So he stayed there, Ray's body crushing down on his lungs, and closed his eyes and tried to relax. Ray was very warm.

“Ya,” L.Joe said.

“Mmmm,” Ray hummed.

“Move.”

“Mmm,” Ray said again. Was he listening? L.Joe pinched his side, and Ray twitched and reluctantly rolled over. They ended up shoulder to shoulder on their backs.

“Was your chest off-limits?” L.Joe asked, remembering the insistent protests and the way Ray had dodged his touch.

“Um,” Ray said fidgeting a little. “It's just a little...weird.”

“Weird?” What was weird exactly, touching while getting off? “You're not straight.” It wasn't a question, because, well, it wasn't a question. L.Joe was bad at noticing, but not that bad.

“Ah, I just... I've never, uh, I've only done it with straight guys before. They don't really, I don't mean that it's weird, I'm just not used to it.”

L.Joe was finding the weirdest dongsaengs. “Don't tell me that was your first kiss.”

Ray laughed. “No, no. But uh, I guess it was the first one when, doing this.”

“Only straight guys? You sure they weren't just...?”

“I'm pretty sure,” Ray said. “It's not bad though.”

“No, I know, but it's kind of... do they get you off?”

Ray licked his lips. “Sometimes. You can actually get them to do quite a lot of stuff, if you go about it the right way.”

L.Joe sat up and buttoned his pants. Now he was curious. “What stuff?”

“This, for example,” Ray said, gesturing at the room in general. “Like what we did. It's not like they're gonna blow you, but, I hear some straight guys will even fuck you if the mood is right.”

“Don't get your hopes too high on that,” L.Joe said. “Even if, a straight guy made some offers this summer, but I don't think he'd go through with it.”

“You never know.” Ray sat up too and ran his hand through his hair and blushed. Embarrassed, but proud too, he said, “I, um, I didn't just hear it, I tried it. So. It's true.”

“No way.” No way! L.Joe eyed the kid trying to figure out if he was bragging or if it was really true.

Ray nodded, looking at his hands. “Straight or not, it was pretty good,” he said, grinning to himself. “The guy, who offered, who was he?”

“Super Junior,” L.Joe said.

“Which one?”

“I'm not telling you.”

“C'mon. If you're not going to pick him up, let me try.”

L.Joe considered that. He really wasn't interested, so why not toss the kid some scraps. “Kim Heechul,” he said.

Ray's eyes widened slightly, before he checked his expression. “Wow. Not bad.”

The kid was serious about trying? “Is it really a good idea?” L.Joe asked, checking his own and Ray's clothes for suspicious stains. Seemed they'd handled it pretty well, considering he'd been out of his mind. “I don't mind doing favors for straight guys, it's fun, but doesn't doing more mean you're... risking things.”

“I didn't plan to, just kind of the right opportunity came along, and I was lucky and said the right things. I worried that he'd be super awkward, and he was for a bit, but he got over it.”

Well, the straight guy might freak out yeah, but L.Joe had more been thinking of himself. Although perhaps that way of thinking was just CAP's ideas echoing in his head. Why would he get more attached to a guy doing that, than sucking his cock?

“It's a little hard,” Ray admitted suddenly. “This is someone I meet often. He won't do it again, and I, well, I wish he would. Like, all the time. But it is what it is.” He shrugged. “I don't regret it.”

“What was that right opportunity?” L.Joe asked. “How did you do it?”

“It's hard to explain,” Ray said.

“C'mon. Trade of information. Which would you rather want, some names of people you could go looking for, or some pointers on, hm, improvements on what you just did.”

“Improvements?” Ray said, cautiously.

L.Joe smiled at him. “It was good, you were very good, I just meant I know some things that you could learn to get even better. You do know what they say about me right?”

Ray relaxed a little again. “Yes, hm, okay.”

“So tell me.”

“So the way I was told, and the way I tried it,” Ray started, “it's best to test the waters first. Check if he's okay with seeing you get off, and okay with touching you. Those two. Then for a straight guy it's usually easier to be in charge, so you can't be pushy, gotta seduce like a girl.”

Well shit. “That is really not my strongest side,” L.Joe said, rubbing his temple.

“I didn't think I could do it, but, I lucked out and we like started play fighting and it was this whole scene like from a movie or comic book,” Ray said and giggled. “Accidental touching and then I landed on top of him, my ass on his crotch, and he was already a little drunk and horny. So I'm like, 'have you ever wanted to do a girl up the ass'.” Ray bit his lip. “It was, it was the moment, ah it's so weird to say it now. It worked though.”

They completed the deal. Ray told him some more details, and L.Joe gave him some tips and tricks. L.Joe got the feeling the straight guy he was talking about was someone he knew well. He wondered if that made it easier or harder.

L.Joe's phone rang. He talked to Changjo briefly; they'd found the manager.

“I gotta go,” he told Ray. “Come on, I'll take you to the elevator.”

Ray got off on a higher floor. Bowed respectfully at L.Joe. “I hope to meet again sometime,” Ray said. “I didn't get any demonstrations of the lessons you gave me.” He smiled. “Good hunting.”

“Good hunting,” L.Joe echoed back, lauging.

He joined the other guys at the ground floor and they got into the manager hyung's car. Since he was taking them extra, they had to come with him to pick up some stuff at a different station, but it'd only take fifteen minutes and a small detour.

“You're in a good mood,” Changjo remarked.

L.Joe tried an innocent smile, torn out of his own thoughts. “Hm?”

“You're smiling,” Ricky said. “For no reason, it's creepy.”

“I'm so tired I've lost my mind,” L.Joe said, leaning his head against the car window.

“Hyung,” Changjo said.

“Aish,” L.Joe said. “I can't wait to brush my teeth and go to bed.”

Changjo suppressed a laugh, with great difficulty, putting on his 'absolutely nothing is going on'-face, and stared out the window. Ricky started talking about how tired he was too. CAP looked like the cogwheels were turning but came up with nothing for now.

L.Joe leaned his head against the window and watched the world rush by. Eat one cookie, and you'd want the whole jar. It would be easier to try Ray's advice on someone he didn't have to meet again. A shallow acquaintance, that he'd at most have to run into at award ceremonies with cameras keeping watch to make sure nobody got ideas.

It was so dark and L.Joe was half asleep when the car came to a stop, and the manager jumped out. L.Joe climbed out as well. “Bathroom?” he asked and was waved along, leaving the other guys behind in the car. He followed the hyung's familiar shoulders through a door and some nondescript corridors and was shown a bathroom and told to wait for him outside it when he was done.

“Don't wander,” the manager told him and left.

L.Joe was too tired to wander. He did his business and left and

stood face to face with Lay.

Like the reflex was engrained into his spine, Lay bowed a greeting, staring like he was a ghost.

It was as if no time had passed. As if Lay's taste was still on his tongue and his knees wore the pattern of the hotel room rug. In a flash his body heated up, the tiredness ran off him like water off oil. “Weren't you leaving?” he heard himself ask. He sounded so normal.

“Tomorrow,” Lay said instantly.

Lay's face was impossible to read. Another guy, and L.Joe would have been confident in whether or not they were interested, but he had nothing to go on here. If he wanted something he had to risk it. Which would be terrifying, except he didn't have a choice. He shot forward, managed to slow down enough to not scare Lay, and took his hand. Locking their eyes together he backed up through the bathroom door, pulling Lay along.

Step one was very hesitant. Step two was critical; Lay looked like he might run away. But step three, Lay was pushing forward as much as L.Joe was pulling him. The door swung shut and the world disappeared, as the force of their desire took them all the way to the opposite wall, and L.Joe banged his shoulder and half slid half fell down on his knees, digging his fingers into Lay's hips.

“Ah, wait, wait,” Lay said, but there was no waiting, not possible. L.Joe fought his pants open, shoved his underwear out of the way, felt like his blood was pumping so hard he couldn't see, couldn't hear properly. “L.Joe,” Lay said desperately, “wait, I, ahhh,” he leaned forward, elbows against the wall, as L.Joe swallowed him down.

Like smooth, soothing, salty salve for his burning body.

“L.Joe,” Lay whined, and shuddered as L.Joe moaned around his cock. “Ah, I don't know, I don't know what you're doing to me, how can... how...”

No straight-guy breakdowns, not now, L.Joe wouldn't allow it. He fit his tongue around the underside of Lay's thick erection and licked up to the top, and bit his own lip and said, “You better be quiet or someone will hear us.”

“Ah?” Lay said and looked over his shoulder at the door.

“It's not locked,” L.Joe said.

Lay shifted.

L.Joe held his hips and slid onto him again, groaning darkly, closing his eyes. Lay rocked away, but then back forward, cursing and supporting himself against the wall again. “Ah, the door. L.Joe. Ah, please, please... please hurry.” Whispered, hurried, desperate words in Chinese. Fear, but not strong enough to take him away from L.Joe. Maybe the edge spurred him on, maybe L.Joe was just extra sexy today, but either way he came much faster than the first time. L.Joe leaned back and rested his head against the wall and let Lay push into him, coming down his throat with deep, dark, hushed gasps.

A light rap on the door, and Lay staggered back a few steps, still not quite returned to his senses. L.Joe got up and wiped his mouth and threw a glance in the mirror. He looked a little messed up, but he'd had weird hair going in already, having half-slept against the car window.

“Lee Byunghun!” the manager called. “Are you in there?”

“I'm coming!” L.Joe called back.

Lay was standing in the middle of the room. His hands were buttoning up his pants, but he didn't look like his mind was aware of it. Mouth open, eyes wide with a mix of emotions, he started at L.Joe speechlessly.

And there was a thousand things L.Joe wanted to say, yet at the same time, there was nothing to say at all. Their gazes had locked together though, and L.Joe bit his lip, desperately searching for words and coming up completely blank.

There was a sharp noise as the door handle was pressed down. L.Joe dove forward and grabbed it, opening just enough to slip out. The manager stepped back, looking puzzled.

“Hyung, are you coming into bathrooms without warning,” L.Joe said, rubbing his eyes. “I said I was coming.”

“You've been in there the whole time?”

“I fell asleep taking a shit,” L.Joe muttered, like it was embarrassing. “Let's just go.”

He had to resist the urge to look over his shoulder, or the manager hyung might look too, but he didn't hear the door open, so Lay must have stayed inside at least until they got out of range.

He got back in the car and closed his eyes and leaning his head against the window, and a vague sense of nausea rose up his throat. This had been absolute random chance, it would never happen again. He might never get Lay to himself ever again. He chewed on his lip and rubbed his fingers, remembering the feel of his nails digging into Lay's hips.

It was easier if it was someone you didn't have to meet again. A shallow acquaintance, that you'd at most have to run into at award ceremonies with cameras keeping watch to make sure you didn't get ideas. Even if he met Lay again, any day Lay would remember he was straight and that would be that. So L.Joe just had to take what he could get. Two things, Ray had said. Check if he's okay with seeing you get off, and okay with touching you. Lay was a yes for both of those. Lay might fuck him. If he played his cards right, Lay might fuck him.

He shifted, his body already heating up, and opened his eyes because he wasn't the slightest bit tired anymore. There were plans to make. How to make Lay fuck him. Lay was a little too passive. Step one was probably to get him drunk? But how?

 

The next morning he was leaning against a railing between CAP and a manically bored Ricky who kept trying to rile him up to things he didn't feel like doing. He leaned back and looked at the sky, wishing their manager could hurry up so he could get away from Ricky. His phone pinged. Chanyeol texting him again. They'd texted a bit, nothing special, since the hotel. Like always, Chanyeol was just prodding him with a ”What's up.” The guy seemed easily bored.

Waiting for managers, he sent back. You?

We just saw M off, they're flying out right now.

Which meant that Lay was somewhere in that sky that L.Joe was looking at. He closed his eyes and got an imaginary scene of it; EXO at the airport, Lay in sunglasses boarding the plane, leaning back in his seat as it lifted, talking to his members, boredly looking out the window, down at just this spot, this bridge, except it was just a tiny speck in his view.

“Ricky!” Niel's voice cut in and Ricky was shoved into his side.

He stumbled into CAP, who got him back on his feet.

“Are you okay?” CAP asked.

“Yeah,” L.Joe said, thinking he meant the shove. Although the way CAP's eyes followed him as he went around to stand in safety on CAP's other side, he got the feeling that wasn't it.

 

Chapter Text

Chunji kept pushing him to spend more time with friends, he maybe still seemed distracted, although that had more to do with his secret plans. CAP was being cutely and annoyingly awkward all the time, however, so L.Joe humored Chunji and spent more time with MBLAQ and Infinite. A few weeks down the line they all met again, to eat and watch TV with the MBLAQ members. They were just talking shit in the common room when L.Joe's phone pinged again.

Sunbae, check us out, we're on TV!

Chanyeol again. L.Joe dug out the remote from under some piles of leftover food and snacks and switched channel until he found the show. Who dressed you, you look twelve , he sent back.

You're this much shorter than a twelve-year-old? he got back, and answered with some carefully chosen emojis.

“So many damned members,” G.O. said at the TV, “how do they get anything done.”

L.Joe glanced up and saw EXO line up after a performance. His eyes found Lay immediately, near the middle, dressed simply in a white shirt and pants. He tended to wear boring clothes, L.Joe thought, he should let L.Joe dress him. And undress him... He cleared his throat and turned away, picking at his food.

“Have you picked your favorite yet?” Joon asked, like they were talking about candy flavors.

Everyone started pointing, L.Joe called out their names.

“How does L.Joe know all their names?” G.O. wondered.

“We shared hotel a while back,” L.Joe said. “I'm talking to Chany...”

“A hotel?”

Thunder elbowed G.O., who made innocent faces.

“Not that kind of hotel,” L.Joe said, laughing at them. “Not that kind of sharing.”

“Joonie?” Seungho asked. “Who do you pick.”

“I have to pick?”

“He wants all of them,” L said. Joon ruffled his hair.

“I like the one I picked before,” Joon said. “Him, he looks like someone who's fun drunk.”

Chen raised his arm cutely on screen, and said something that made everyone laugh, then came out and did a silly dance.

“Is that why you bet on him?” L asked.

They had to fill in the rest of MBLAQ on the bets and they immediately wanted in on it, even though there was no reward for picking the right one. Seungho called out Sehun, Mir and – reluctantly – Thunder bet on Tao.

“Wait, wait,” G.O. said. “We skipped L.Joe. Who's your favorite flavor of EXO?”

“Just from looks? I don't know... Sehun?” L.Joe said. Just because he used to tease Chanyeol that Sehun was the handsomest member, not him. In reality he wasn't sure; his own judgment seemed a bit... compromised.

L high-fived him, then immediately stabbed him in the back by saying, “Then there's someone that's not from looks?”

“That's not what I meant.”

The others started talking about other things, but L didn't look convinced. When L.Joe and him got stuck with doing dishes, the hyungs claiming they'd done their part by moving the dirty stuff from the living room to the sink, L slid in by his side and said, casually, “So when you hung out with EXO, did you find out who's what?”

“If I had would I still take bets?” L.Joe countered.

L smiled innocently. “Sungyeol wouldn't tell me which one you got together with.”

Damned Sungyeol and his damned weakness to L. “Because it's none of your business,” L.Joe said, rubbing the dirty plate with extra much strength. “He shouldn't have told you I got together with anyone.”

“We're all good at keeping secrets,” L said.

“Not Sungyeol, apparently.”

“Only to me,” L said.

“And you tell Joon-hyung everything,” L.Joe said. “So that's three, and Joon isn't terrific at keeping secrets, so the rest of MBLAQ usually figures stuff out, so that's seven, and suddenly I have a reputation, instead of a rumor.”

“A good one,” L said, accepting the cleaned plate and drying it.

There was no denying that. “EXO isn't out between members,” L.Joe said. “I really can't expose anyone, it could tear their team apart.”

“Tell me if it's M or K. It's K, right? You wouldn't get it on with a Chinese guy would you?”

L.Joe sighed.

“You would? You traitor. But then you are secretly American.”

“I'm not!” Although he didn't know why he protested that, he just felt like he had to protest something. “Why are you picking on Chinese people,” he muttered.

L smiled brightly. “It's one of them isn't it?”

Goddamned L and his tricks, why did L.Joe hang out with him again? “Joon-hyung!”

Joon peeked his head in. “Hm?”

“L says he wants a threesome with Chen.”

L's eyes widened comically. “What? No, no, I didn't say that!” He laughed, holding up his hands to Joon. “He's making things up! Don't get ideas!”

Joon smiled happily.

“You're getting ideas!” L put the towel away. “Sungyeol! Help!”

Sungyeol took his place while L and Joon had a loud discussion about threesomes, half joking, half serious, intentionally scandalizing Thunder and G.O. who tried to get away from it while Seungho and Mir watched with horrified fascination.

“What did you do,” Sungyeol accused L.Joe.

L.Joe couldn't stop laughing, he was doing dishes blindly because his eyes were tearing up from fun. “Nothing,” he assured Sungyeol.

“Did he pester you about EXO?”

“He did.” He tried to wipe his eyes with the back of his hand but only smudged his cheek.

Sungyeol came and wiped for him. “I'm sorry I told him, I didn't say anything specific.”

“You're really hopeless with him.”

“He usually doesn't use it against anyone.”

“You must be very naïve still to think that.”

Sungyeol laughed.

“EXO-M is back in Korea,” Thunder said, appearing in the kitchen.

“Oh?” L.Joe said, trying not to seem to interested. Clearly the new information had passed from L to Joon to MBLAQ in the half minute since L exited the kitchen. So much for keeping secrets.

“They were going out drinking with some people, I can get you in.”

L.Joe's heart did that thing where it beat once so hard against his ribs that he thought it would fly out of his chest. He tried very, very hard to not seem too eager.

“Get me in too,” Sungyeol said to Thunder. “Let's go together,” to L.Joe.

“Why would I go, I've already gotten what I wanted from them,” L.Joe said, staring down into the dirty water, frenetically rubbing a glass.

“But that wasn't the member was it,” Sungyeol said. “We have to cast the lure again. For the sake of the bets. Or do you think it will get messy?”

He meant did L.Joe think Lay would get upset if L.Joe went fishing for other members. L.Joe had no idea. He had trouble getting a grasp of Lay's personality, maybe because his brain lost most functions when in his company. “You're the one who says I don't take responsibility, now you want me to screw around with EXO, turning members against each other?”

“That's really not what I said,” Sungyeol protested.

“That sounds like fun, I'll get you in,” Thunder said and left.

 

On his way out the very evening it was going down, he was stopped by the front door by a team of dongsaengs who wanted to know where he was going.

“I'm going drinking with Sungyeol,” L.Joe said.

“Dressed like that?” Niel eyed him.

“You're meeting a guy,” Ricky accused him.

“Sungyeol's a guy,” he tried.

“Unless Sungyeol's about to have the best night of his life, you're meeting another guy,” Niel said.

“I'm not,” he said. He'd agonized over what to wear very sneakily, managing to hide alone in his room while Changjo was cleaning the living room, but somehow they saw the effort anyway. Maybe he was wearing too much jewelry. Was he overdressed? He checked himself out in the hallway mirror.

“Totally trying to get laid,” Chunji said, joining the mob.

“You say I look at myself in the mirror all the time,” L.Joe said.

“That earring? Those pants?” Chunji pointed. “You are definitely hunting.”

He wore these things all the time, how the hell did they know?

“Who is it?” Changjo asked.

Fine, just because Changjo actually asked like he was interested, instead of attacking him. “EXO is going to be there.”

“I thought you already,” Changjo said. “Is this a rare one-two punch?”

“There's a lot of members,” L.Joe said, trying on a grin.

The kids made scandalized faces at each other. Changjo in particular, going from calm and curious to outraged, bouncing around with Ricky. These kids, really.

“Is it like pokemon?” Niel asked. “Collect them all?”

L.Joe laughed.

“Don't do anything stupid,” CAP said.

“I never do,” L.Joe snapped at him, annoyed by his beseeching expression, and left.

Sungyeol met him on the way. “Lay won't be there, so you're free to play,” Sungyeol said.

“What? I thought EXO-M was back.”

“He stayed behind, is what I heard.”

Damned Thunder, and damned Sungyeol, and damned all of it, he'd gotten so worked up, trying to gather courage to say stupid things, getting all dressed up... he thought about kicking something, but he didn't want to show Sungyeol how upset he'd gotten. His plans were still something he wanted to keep private. It had seemed perfect, the venue was a safe place with lots of little rooms he could drag Lay away to, and they could stay as late as they wanted, he'd even prepared some stuff tucked into his pockets, disguised as other things. Now, it was all in vain.

Well, why waste all the effort looking awesome, he might as well see if he could fish out the mystery member that Kai knew about. Fuck Lay, he wasn't even that handsome anyway.

They arrived at the venue and a scattered gathering of EXO members were there along with Taemin and Key from SHINee and two guys L.Joe didn't recognize. Maybe some new group he wasn't familiar with or SM trainees? He didn't care, he wasn't here for them. He looked around, greeted everyone, and as Sungyeol had said, Lay wasn't there.

Sungyeol appeared again after his round of greetings and slapped his back. “Alright, let's get wasted!”

Absolutely. He lost Sungyeol halfway through and ended up trying Chinese drinking games with Luhan, Kris and Chen. Then the three of them were dragged away by other members for some reason L.Joe didn't catch and replaced with Chanyeol and Baekhyun who loudly bumbled into his booth falling over each other. They talked for a while until Chanyeol was dragged off by Kai. As soon as he was away, Baekhyun leaned forward, setting his elbows on the table, a happy gleam in his eye. L.Joe found himself leaning in too. “BTOB Minhyuk,” Baekhyun said.

L.Joe stared at him blankly for a second, but there was something about him, the way he was looking at him, like he was waiting for something. From across the dusky room, he saw Kai and Taemin looking their way. “U-Kiss Hoon,” he said.

Baekhyun split up into a wide smile. “SHINee Minho.”

“What really?” L.Joe felt his eyebrows go up.

Baekhyun gave him a I know right? and nodded.

What could he say? “MYNAME Insoo.” This seemed a bit dangerous.

“Oooh, nice one. CNBlue Jonghyun.”

Suddenly L.Joe was usure of what they were talking about. “Have you...?”

“Have you? Insoo?”

L.Joe licked his lips. “Yes.”

“Oooh!” Baekhyun looked around the room and leaned in closer. “He's got a good body, right? Is the rest of him as nice?”

This guy didn't dance around the subject. L.Joe should be embarrassed, but he loved Baekhyun's smile and his wide-eyed curiosity. “It is,” L.Joe said, smiling back. “But if you want nice, it's MYNAME's Gunwoo.”

“Both of them?” Baekhyun sparkled. “Niiiice. And for your question, Jonghyun-hyung and Minho-hyung, but not Minhyuk-hyung. He was really shy, would you believe it. I didn't have time to try harder.”

L.Joe laughed.

“Are there more? You've been around longer than me.”

Remembering Kikwang's shy smile and warm looks, and especially the way he'd looked disappointed but so, so brave that last moment before they parted that time before the Dynamic Black performance, L.Joe couldn't bring himself to out him, even to someone he should be able to trust. “VIXX Hyuk,” he said instead. If Hyuk didn't have luck with Ravi, he might need something new to distract him.

“Don't know VIXX very well,” Baekhyun said shaking his head. “Maybe I should?”

“Maybe,” L.Joe said. “There's also VIXX Ravi.”

“Four people in two teams?” Baekhyun pursed his lips, thinking about it. “I always wished there was someone more. To talk to, I mean, sex with members seems messy.”

“Isn't there...” L.Joe paused. Kai had said he knew about one more member, but what if it wasn't Baekhyun? Or what if he knew about Baekhyun but Baekhyun didn't know about him?

“Kai can't be spoken to about these things,” Baekhyun said. “And who else? They're my best friends, but I have no idea what they'd say... the M hyungs are so scary too, imagine coming out to Xiumin-hyung or Luhan-hyung.” He shook himself like a dog. “Brr.”

“But Lay-hyung and Chen-hyung would be okay?”

“Probably,” Baekhyun said. “They don't seem like hyungs that mind this sort of thing. Oh, oh, there's also,” he paused for a second, “One for one?” he said.

“I already told you two,” L.Joe said.

“That was in the past, this is now,” Baekhyun said, smiling impishly. L.Joe narrowed his eyes at him. “B.A.P. Jongup,” he offered. “Speaking of shy, he on the other hand really wasn't.”

L.Joe shook his head. Who did he have left? He wasn't going to tell anyone about Sungyeol, because Sungyeol was still undecided, and Joon and L deserved some privacy. There was Seyong, but he only had the MYNAME hyungs' word on that.

“Come on,” Baekhyun said.

“C-Clown Ray,” L.Joe smiled.

“C-Clown?” Baekhyun thought about it, like he didn't recognize the group. Maybe he didn't. “I don't know any more. I know there's someone in FT Island but I don't know who, does that count?”

“There's someone in BEAST,” L.Joe said. “But that's all I'll tell you for that.”

“Agh.” Baekhyun drank some and leaned back. “Have you... with all of these?”

“Not VIXX,” L.Joe said, because better keep the whole sordid incident with Hyuk under wraps.

“But the rest? And more?”

L.Joe smiled serenely.

“Ahhh, I'm so jealous. If only we'll have some activity with MYNAME.” Baekhyun tapped his finger on the table, thinking. “Are there more in Teen Top?”

“Not that I know,” L.Joe said. “Are there more in EXO?”

“Not that I know,” Baekhyun echoed, smiling. “Although Sehun sometimes has me confused, and Luhan keeps touching everyone, it drives me crazy.” Looked out at their friends. “Are you and Sungyeol a couple?”

L.Joe had to laugh. “No.”

“Just, you seem very close.”

“We've promised to always be on each others' side. That kind of friend.”

“That sounds really nice. Kai and I have an agreement, but it's nothing like that.”

“How did you find out about each other?”

“Oh I just knew.” Baekhyun laughed. “No, not at all. Kai walked in on me with Minho-hyung. I freaked out like fuck, like I have never before, I thought I'd have a heart attack. But then it turned out he was the same way.”

“Do you, uh, are you and Minho...?”

“Together?” Baekhyun thought about that. “We've hooked up a couple of times, but it's more like... friends with benefits, you know? We're not exclusive or anything. We're not compatible at all as people, but in bed...” He grinned like a shark. “I hear you don't do that. Steady parter stuff, I mean. It's bam, hit and run with you.”

L.Joe laughed embarrassedly. “I've never thought about it like that. It sounds a little...”

“It sounds fucking great. I wish I could.” Baekhyun sighed. “We're still new, our schedules are so strict, and I'm... well, I'm too nervous, I worry that someone will find out. Minho is just a convenient arrangement since Kai and Taemin are friends anyway. It means no one thinks twice if our two groups get together sometimes. B.A.P. was the first one, and I was so nervous after, that I threw up.”

“Wow. Well, I weathered the storm once, and I'm careful.”

“I envy you,” Baekhyun said without holding back. “Maybe we could talk sometime? Kai is such a bore, he's got this guy he likes and it's all true love and turtledoves for him. Although the relationship itself is pretty messy, far as I've understood. But the god of sex could come on to him, and he wouldn't look twice. I can't even really tell him anything, he just rolls his eyes and calls me easy.”

“Some of my members call me a slut,” L.Joe said with a crooked smile.

“Screw them,” Baekhyun said. “If you want something you go for it. That's what I think.” He scratched his head and drank some more. “Maybe I should come out to Lay-hyung. Xiumin-hyung would probably also call me easy, but that hyung wouldn't judge I think. He seems quiet, but deep down he's also the 100% all in type.”

Fuck Lay, L.Joe reminded himself. Not think about what could have been, what he wanted, what he'd hoped for for tonight. Being drunk made him emotional. No, fuck Lay. “Baekhyun-hyung,” he said. “You want to get off with me?”

Baekhyun smiled and twisted in his seat like he'd gotten giddy. “Really?”

“You should see what everyone's talking about for yourself, right?”

Baekhyun grinned happily. “Sure.”

L.Joe nodded in the direction of the bathrooms and got up. Whoa, a little unsteady. He leaned against the table and found his balance. Okay. Baekhyun followed him, not worried about being seen. There were so many people about, the noise was crazy loud, no one would care.

The bathroom stalls were not good, however. Flimsy and very open. L.Joe shook his head wordlessly at Baekhyun, who took one look and agreed. They went out again. The place was littered with tiny rooms, and they checked them all and found an unlocked door that led into a dark little back room. Good enough for something quick.

Baekhyun ran a hand through his hair. “You want to or should I?” he asked.

L.Joe stepped in and put his hands on Baekhyun's hips. “I could show you some techniques,” L.Joe said, slipping a finger inside Baekhyun's pants.

“That sounds nice,” Baekhyun said, then groaned and leaned his head forward. “Man, this is awkward.”

It was. There was no feeling. He leaned his forehead against Baekhyun's. “It's weird,” he agreed. But he wasn't even nervous. Maybe that was the problem?

“You're very sexy,” Baekhyun said. “I thought so in the booth anyway. But it's...”

“Maybe it's like... we're the same,” L.Joe said.

“Two sluts together?” Baekhyun pursed his lips again thinking about it. L.Joe looked at his lips and tried to imagine kissing him, but couldn't quite. There just wasn't any feeling. He snickered quietly instead over how seriously Baekhyun seemed to think it over. “I guess it's fine,” Baekhyun said finally, looking into L.Joe's eyes. “Who'd bottom anyway? We'd have to fight over it.”

L.Joe raised his eyebrows. Despite their faces being so close together, he didn't feel embarrassed or any tension. Looking into Baekhyun's eyes was like doing this with Ricky. No spark at all. “I'm not a bottom,” he said, slightly annoyed. “Not exclusively anyway. It's because I look like this that everyone thinks so, isn't it. I wish I had Changjo's body.”

“Minho-hyung complains that I'm too tall,” Baekhyun giggled, resting his arms on L.Joe's shoulders. “Me? Too tall?”

L.Joe laughed. Standing like this, it was silly, but also kind of comfortable. There was a friendly intimacy, and a relaxed feeling, simply because there was no tension at all. He could do this with his members but they would be embarrassed; Baekhyun wasn't even that.

The door opened. Baekhyun flew like a meter into the air and tumbled away. L.Joe tried not to fall over from Baekhyun bouncing off so suddenly, and turned to look.

His heart stopped. In the doorway, with the light behind him, Lay's shape froze. L.Joe couldn't see his expression. Because his heart had stopped, he couldn't move, couldn't speak. Lay bowed, all the way to 90 degrees for some incomprehensible reason. “Ah, I'm sorry, excuse me,” Lay said and left and closed the door behind him.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” Baekhyun said, freaking out, hands over his mouth.

“It's okay,” L.Joe said.

“Oh god, I didn't actually want to come out to Lay-hyung,” Baekhyun groaned. “What if he...? What am I...”

“I blew him. At the hotel, a while ago,” L.Joe said. Baekhyun's eyes widened to twice their regular size. “He was cool about it. I don't think he'll freak out about this.”

Baekhyun's mouth moved but no words came out.

“I'm not making it up, Kai knows about it,” L.Joe said.

“That hyung wouldn't do something like that,” Baekhyun protested. That's what he was protesting?

“Some straight guys...” L.Joe started.

“You really did it?” Baekhyun asked. His expression was caught somewhere between surprised, frightened and angry; he was trying to make sense of it, of any part of it to start with. “He really let you?”

L.Joe nodded. Was Baekhyun angry at him or Lay or the situation in general?

“You're lying.”

It wasn't even an accusation, or a topic of discussion; Baekhyun's tone of voice left no room for denials or appeals. L.Joe didn't know why it was impossible, but he still didn't like to be called a liar, and especially not this rudely. Yet he had to be a little forgiving because Baekhyun was so upset. “Whatever,” L.Joe said and headed for the door.

And bumped into it. It opened outwards, except something held it shut. L.Joe pushed harder, and fell out when whatever blocked it suddenly disappeared. He tumbled out and hit the floor and lost his breath at the sharp pain in his wrist.

“L.Joe?” Baekhyun's voice said worriedly.

A figure crouched down next to him, blocking the light.

“Are you hurt?”

Lay. Lay's face came into view and L.Joe turned to the floor, forehead against the cold wood, and tried to control himself. Damned alcohol making him all emotional. Damned Lay! Why was he here, he was supposed to be in China!

“L.Joe-yah,” Lay said. He sounded concerned. Steps closed and disappeared as Baekhyun fled the scene. “Are you crying?”

“No,” L.Joe said and pushed himself up on his elbows to show that he wasn't, got up on his knees but then had to pause and look at his wrist because it was stinging like fuck.

Lay pulled him up. “Are you hurt?” he asked again, briefly looking over his body.

His right knee was probably bruised, and his hand... he'd scraped the outside of his wrist and hand against something sharp on the floor; he was bleeding.

“Here.” Lay found a glass on a table nearby and sniffed it. “With this.” He poured a little on L.Joe's hand.

“Ow!” L.Joe snatched his hand away. “Fuck, ow!”

“Sorry,” Lay said. “But it cleans.”

It also burned like fire. L.Joe hid his hand away when Lay lifted the glass agan. “It's clean! It's clean!”

A brief smile flashed over Lay's face and he put the glass away.

“Were you outside the door that whole time?” It wasn't a thick door. Lay might have heard the whole conversation with Baekhyun.

Lay found some napkins and held out for him. L.Joe accepted them reluctantly and held them against the wound. It wasn't deep, it just hurt like hell for some reason. “I'm sorry, that I interrupted,” Lay said gently. “I better go talk to Baekhyun.”

Fine. If he had nothing to say, then neither did L.Joe.

Lay left.

L.Joe took a few moments to gather himself before heading back. The main room was filled with chatter and music. Baekhyun had hid in a corner with Kris and Suho, like a child running back to his parents. L.Joe found a chair and watched Lay approach, try to take Baekhyun to the side and fail. L.Joe could guess the conversation from their expressions.

Baekhyun-ah, come have a word.

No.

Fine, you want to talk here?

You wouldn't dare!

Try me.

No, no, no! I'm coming, I'm coming!

They went around a corner out of view. L.Joe turned around on his chair and found Sungyeol, Chanyeol and Key.

“Was that Lay-hyung?” Sungyeol asked.

“Mm,” Chanyeol said. “He came today, we didn't think he would come out because he'd be tired from the flight, he probably just arrived.”

“Wow, so he went from a flight from China directly here?” Sungyeol asked. “He must really have wanted to come.”

What was L.Joe doing sitting here? Lay was here. Lay had come. That meant everything else went out the window; his original plan could still be set into motion. He checked his pockets to make sure he still had everything. Yet couldn't quite find the courage to get up and go over there.

“Give me your drink,” L.Joe said, swiping it from Sungyeol's hands without waiting for permission, and drinking it all in one shot.

“Hey, hey,” Key said.

“Slow down,” Sungyeol warned.

L.Joe stood up. The world spun a little and he had to find his balance again.

“What did you do to your hand?” Sungyeol asked, frowning, sliding off his chair and coming around the table.

“Nothing, I just tripped,” L.Joe said, waving him away.

“Maybe you should sit down,” Chanyeol suggested.

L.Joe shook his head. “There's something I have to do.”

“Maybe not right now?” Sungyeol said.

Baekhyun came back around the corner alone, a little too quickly, heading away to the bar with determined steps. L.Joe took a deep breath and set off. He got across the room okay, and around the corner, and Lay was standing in a dark corner alone. When L.Joe got there he was wiping his eyes.

He was crying. He didn't make any particular effort to hide it either, seeing L.Joe come, just wiped his face and stood there, blinking. Determination ran off L.Joe. His body wanted to cry in sympathy, so he had to spend his energy on stopping it.

“Baekhyun went that way,” Lay said, gesturing.

“Why are you crying?” L.Joe asked.

“What?”

The room was loud, L.Joe had to step closer or shout. He tried one step, hesitated, took another right into Lay's personal space. “Why are you crying?” he repeated.

Lay shook his head like he didn't understand the question. Then he said, “Baekhyun got angry.” Like it puzzled him.

“He was scared of what you'd do, now that you know,” L.Joe said.

“But what would I do?” Lay asked, looking slightly bewildered. “If he likes you, he likes you. What bad thing does he think I will do?”

“Some people don't like... people like me,” L.Joe said. Lay just looked more confused. The language issue was probably worse here, where he couldn't hear well, and L.Joe wasn't in a state of great enounciation either. “Guys who like guys,” he said. “Some people hate it.”

Lay frowned. “But we're friends. Of course I wouldn't do something bad to him.”

Someone passed by and pushed L.Joe's back. He stumbled forward, unprepared, reflexes muddled by alcohol, and bumped into Lay. Lay caught him and gestured to a nearby empty table. L.Joe found a chair and Lay went around the table to sit diagonally with him, the table corner between them.

“Did Baekhyun really think I would? I'm not that kind of bad person, he should know,” Lay said. L.Joe's injured hand ended up on the table, and Lay started fussing over it like it was well within the boundries of their relationship, picking up more napkins from the table to change with the bloodied ones. The bleeding had pretty much stopped.

“It's still scary,” L.Joe said. Lay's honest concern at the idea that Baekhyun would be afraid of him was touching. Lay's gentle touches tending to his wound was maddening. “You told him though, right?”

“I said it was okay,” Lay said, nodding. Gestured. “He asked about the hotel, I didn't lie, I'm sorry.”

“What?” L.Joe tried to understand what he was saying. “You mean what we did? He knew. I told him.”

Lay was struggling, L.Joe thought. Not just with trying to understand the language, but to understand the situation and figure out an appropriate response. “Oh,” he said.

“I only told him because he was freaking out. Since you were okay with what we did, I thought you'd be okay with Baekhyun being that way too.”

Lay listened and nodded. “Of course it's okay,” he said dismissively. “I said to Baekhyun, it is okay. He was angry about what we did, maybe. I understand. Even if you are honest, it's... not difficult to be jealous.”

“No, no,” L.Joe said, several things clicking into place. “No, I, we, that's not it.”

“Hm?”

“We're not together. Not then, not now, not ever. You saw something and misunderstood. It never happened. Baekhyun's not jealous. I honestly don't know why he's angry. He's probably just worried that you'll tell the other members.”

“I don't understand,” Lay said. “You were kissing?”

“No. No, he doesn't want me. And I don't want him.”

“Then... what were you doing...?”

“That never happened,” L.Joe insisted. “It wasn't what it looked like. We just talked.”

Lay looked if possible even more confused. Then annoyed or disappointed or something along that line, staring into the wall, thinking hard. He took a breath as if to ask something, then paused and thought some more. L.Joe felt like he could see the cogwheels turning, like Lay was thinking so hard, focusing so hard on that spot on the wall that it should catch fire.

“Don't worry about Baekhyun, just let him calm down a little and try talking to him again,” L.Joe said. Lay's intense face was too handsome, it was reminding him of his original mission.

Lay nodded slowly. Dissatisfied but accepting it.

“So,” L.Joe said, leaning in, pretending to want to be heard better. Lay leaned in too to hear. “I'm sorry I had to rush away from the bathroom. I hope it wasn't too rushed?”

A little smile crept onto Lay's lips. Baekhyun was forgotten. L.Joe smiled back in victory. “It was very nice,” Lay said.

“Do you wanna...?” L.Joe said. Lay hesitated. Normally L.Joe would have taken his hand and tried to lead him over to the room where he'd gone with Baekhyun, but Ray had said you should let the straight guys be in charge. Seduce like a girl. What the fuck did that mean anyway? L.Joe tried to think about movies he'd seen. “Dance?” he finished his earlier sentence. “Do you wanna dance?”

Lay tried to keep up, nodding 'sure'. L.Joe hooked one finger in his fingers and pulled him out, walking ahead of him so Lay could watch his back. Then danced in front of him, swaying along with the beat randomly, wondering how close he dared get in public. Lay moved like a panther, god, he must have conscious control of every muscle in his body. Being this close to him when he moved like that, even though it was toned down, spread heat through L.Joe. How hard did he dare get in public, in these pants?

Then Lay spotted someone over L.Joe's shoulder and his hand came up, curling a finger telling the person to come join them. All that comfortable heat that L.Joe had built up lashed out in furious jealousy. He turned around, but it was Baekhyun that came, followed by a few more EXO members as well as Sungyeol and Taemin. Lay smiled, and Baekhyun nodded at him and started goofing about, and it seemed things would be okay between them. Which was good, except L.Joe hated them all fiercely for distracting.

Taemin danced comfortably, the rhythm throwing his body in waves. Suddenly everyone were calling for a dance-off, pulling back and giving Taemin and Lay the space. Taemin waved his hands; 'no, no' but was coerced. Lay didn't hesitate a second.

If L.Joe had thought Lay was moving nicely before... Every motion perfectly controlled, all the way to his fingertips, every thrust of his hips made L.Joe hum with anticipated pleasure, as Lay's feet seemed to float across the floor. His weight was never on his heels. L.Joe reached out, wanting to touch him, and Lay turned flawlessly into his hand like it was part of his choreography and got out of the way for Taemin's turn, L.Joe's palm against his shoulder blade. Like this was where he belonged.

L.Joe's heart ached. As did other things. He pulled at his own shirt, wishing it was a little longer. He couldn't be this hard in public, it would show, someone would notice. Lay nodded to the beat watching Taemin, and then turned and looked at L.Joe. And smiled, a little question in his eyes like L.Joe's face surprised him, a hint of dimple showing like a vague shadow in the dim light. Screw this. L.Joe let his hand run down Lay's arm and wove their fingers together. Fuck if someone noticed, fuck everyone and everything, he had to have Lay, tonight, right now, nothing else mattered. He leaned in and whispered in Lay's ear, lips against his skin, “Please,” and he'd never meant the word as much as he did right in that moment, “come with me.”

Lay glanced back at Taemin and the others, who were cheering Taemin on. L.Joe couldn't care less about Taemin. Fuck this 'seduce like a girl' bullshit, he grabbed Lay's chin and forced him to face him. Their eyes locked together and something flared in Lay, L.Joe felt it, like a rumble of the earth. Saw Lay focus in on him, forget everything else. L.Joe breathed fast, like he'd danced himself. He was the center of the universe right there, no fuck that, he was the universe. Lay's entire world, only him. He turned and pulled Lay along towards the room.

They got inside, Lay locked the door as soon as he was inside. Which was good, because L.Joe had forgotten all about being careful. He grabbed Lay's shirt, couldn't understand why it was still there, clawed pointlessly at it. Lay pulled it over his head and tossed it aside. Yes, yes, Lay's skin. L.Joe ran his hands over those glorious muscles, the ones Lay knew so well how to use. Still clothes between them, how, why, ah his own. He fought his own shirt off, somehow having forgotten how to undress. Lay helped him untangle the sleeves. L.Joe was so hard he had to get out of his pants or die, Lay hadn't seemed bothered by seeing him come, he'd be okay, it didn't matter because there wasn't a choice. L.Joe shoved his pants out of the way, then Lay's, no hesitation, no time to worry. Lay's fingers were feathering over his skin; his arms, his hips, wherever Lay could reach for now while L.Joe worked with undressing them. Each spot felt like burning brands. Lay's. Lay's arms, Lay's hips, everything was Lay's. If L.Joe could just be here, do this, Lay could have everything, whatever he wanted.

“Ah,” Lay moaned, almost whined, and his fingers dug into L.Joe's arm.

Oh fuck, that voice. L.Joe pulled him along backwards, having no idea what was behind them. His heels hit something and they came tumbling down.

Ow. His hand hurt again, but whatever, he'd done it, it had happened almost exactly as Ray had described, he'd landed on Lay. Sliding across Lay's soft, warm skin he straddled Lay's strong hips and ground his ass over Lay's cock, rock hard and straining against his underwear. Lay's head tipped back, he exhaled and dug his fingers into L.Joe's thighs. When his head came up again he was frowning, almost looking in pain. Maybe he was. L.Joe was so hard he felt like he'd burst.

Now, he should do it now. Lean down over Lay and say the words, whisper them sweetly in his ear. Have you ever wanted to fuck a girl up the ass? Ray's smile flashed across his mind. A corner of the condom wrapper dug into his hand, he was crushing it. He'd never wanted something so much in his life. Not even Teen Top. He took a deep breath. Just say it.

Lay's hand closed around his wrist, and suddenly the bottom of his stomach was crawling with panic. A smell of champagne, that couldn't be here, and a memory flashed by inside his mind, the sight of a man's hand around his wrist, the weight of him pressing down on his chest, making him unable to breathe. A whisper against his ear. I'll tear your ass apart. He wasn't getting any air. His body froze in place as he fought for each breath. He panted, biting his lip, trying to will himself to just do it, but the fear had sunk its claws into his flesh and locked him in place in an iron grip.

His eyes were tearing up for lack of oxygen. He looked fucking awesome, he'd prepared everything, that stuff was over and done with, there was nothing to be afraid of, Lay would never hurt him. Lay was a sweet person who tended to his bleeding hand and cried when Baekhyun was angry, it wouldn't be like that, it would be fucking awesome, he wanted it so bad, but his body wouldn't listen. He fought to keep the tears from falling. Fuck. Fuck!

L.Joe curled forward and fisted his hands against Lay's chest. God Lay's body was like nothing he'd ever... he wished he could stay here forever. Wished Lay would put his arms around him and hug him close. The fear would melt away, he knew it would, and he'd be able to breathe in Lay's smell, and kiss him, he really, really needed to kiss him, if only he could and everything would be okay.

“L.Joe?” Lay's hands came to his arms. “Are you okay?” his voice a little out of breath.

Help me, help me, save me, someone save me.

L.Joe grabbed his hair and kissed him, fast and hard, like he was the oxygen L.Joe's body couldn't live without. Lay moaned with surprise. The pressure over L.Joe's chest eased a little. He pulled Lay up, crawled backwards and found the wall he'd been looking for before, pushed Lay up on his knees. For a brief moment Lay fought him, wanting to know what was going on, then L.Joe took Lay's hands and put them up against the wall and wriggled down between his legs.

Lay sighed with relief and anticipation when L.Joe finally released his cock from the constraints of his underwear. L.Joe's own hard-on throbbing between his legs, he wrapped his tongue around Lay's cock, moaning into his skin making Lay shudder. Everything else forgotten, he just wanted to make Lay come. Wanted to feel that controlled strength tense against him to the limit, play it like a violin and listen to the sounds. He looked up, sucking the head of Lay's cock into his mouth, and saw Lay squeeze his eyes shut, a drop of sweat trailing down his cheek. Mmmmm, yes. He sucked gently and petted Lay's smooth, powerful thigh, waiting for signs that Lay was getting impatient.

Like the first time, it took a while. But eventually Lay's hips started meeting him of their own, Lay starting to lose control. L.Joe swallowed down another little bit, closed his eyes and relaxed his throat and slid all the way until his lips kissed the base.

“Ahhh!” one of Lay's hands dug into his hair. Fucking finally. “Ah, what,” Lay said before cursing in Chinese, thrusting carefully down L.Joe's throat. When L.Joe moaned, wishing he could stay but desperately needing to breathe, Lay let go of him like it took effort to unlock his fingers.

L.Joe jacked him, catching his breath.

“Mm, you, what about,” Lay said, glancing over his shoulder.

Lay was too nice. He shouldn't worry about someone else right now. L.Joe wanted him to forget everything else, forget L.Joe too, just get lost in it. Forget who was doing it to him. Forget it was a guy. He found a rhythm that Lay's hips seemed to want to go to, let his fingers brush Lay's balls. Lay's eyes closed again.

What did he see when he closed his eyes like that?

L.Joe sucked him in again, sucked hard so his cheeks hollowed, worked every trick he could remember how to. Lay's moans were honey-dripping desperation, his fingers were trying to dig into the wall, get some grip so he could thrust better. Their sweat was mixing, Lay's skin was damp, his body flushed a needy red. L.Joe wanted to talk to him, tell him to come, but a man's voice...? He shouldn't. He wasn't even touching himself, although it was killing him. They'd been going for how long? Forever. He could do this forever, but he was also dying.

A familiar tone came into Lay's little Chinese exclamations, just before his body tensed up and his hand came down to try to push L.Joe away. L.Joe swatted him off and swallowed him down and Lay's cum hit his tongue and coated the back of his throat, while Lay cursed again and banged his fist against the wall – once, twice, then his open palm. For a second, that was the only sound, before Lay's panting filled up the strange, surreal silence, punctuated by breathless groans. There came a point where things were so good they hurt, and Lay was swimming around in the borderlands, sliding to the floor.

In a sense, L.Joe was in that borderland all the time with this person.

He was intentionally not touching himself still, although it took just about every piece of self-control he could muster. The reward was to run his hands over Lay's damp skin.

“Too good,” Lay said, voice foggy and raw, “you're too good at this.”

L.Joe wanted to kiss him again, but he wouldn't get away with it now, after Lay had already gotten off, and he really couldn't with the taste of Lay's cum still on his tongue. Lay would find it disgusting. So he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, in a casual motion that was becoming somewhat of a signature move of his, and smiled. “I know.”

Lay's eyes swept past L.Joe's crotch. “You're...” he gestured, a little uncertain. “Let me.”

“You don't have to,” L.Joe said. He was impressed at how flippant he managed to sound.

“It's only fair,” Lay said.

Too nice, he was too nice. “I don't want you to,” L.Joe decided. It was easier this way, not muddling the line. Lay might be willing to go the extra mile because he was a nice guy but it didn't change anything. It would only get L.Joe confused.

Lay frowned at him, not understanding.

“Let's do this again sometime,” L.Joe said, searching Lay's face for a clue if it was possible. Had he used up all his chances yet? Lay would tire of him eventually, so how much could he get?

Still frowning slightly, eyes a little distant again, trying to figure it out, Lay just watched him. A hint of frustration crept through the confusion.

L.Joe had to look away, his nerves couldn't take it. His vision accidentally picked up something small on the floor... the condom. L.Joe had dropped it, it was right by Lay's ankle, he could notice it at any moment! How would L.Joe explain that, without revealing much more than he was comfortable with? All of it seemed so stupid now, this plan, it had been insane, why had he insisted on trying to carry it out? How had he not realized how stupid it was? He rolled onto his feet and snatched up the condom in passing and found his clothes.

Lay sat up, one leg straight out in front of him, one leg bent, resting his arm on his knee. “Don't run away,” he said.

“I'm not running away,” L.Joe said.

“You can't do this to me and then just run away.”

“Better leave some mystery, for next time.” With any luck, there would be a next time.

Lay shook his head and looked like he didn't know what to do with this. “Too much. It's too much mystery, with you.”

L.Joe forced a smile. “Then I guess you have to keep coming back until you figure it out,” he said, pulled on his shirt and headed for the door. It took every ounce of willpower left in him to tear his eyes away from Lay and exit. On slightly unsteady legs he made his way to the bathroom and jacked off hard and fast, his knees giving in, landing hard on the cold, dirty bathroom floor sending a shockwave of pain through his body.

Not crying, he couldn't cry, there was nothing to cry over. Shake it off and get up.

There was a sound from the other stall. He slid out and pushed the door open a tiny crack; it was locked, but these stalls sucked, the locks bent and allowed for enough of an opening to see clearly. The first thing he saw was Baekhyun's back. Baekhyun was kissing someone, sliding a hand under his shirt. This guy was tall. Baekhyun leaned to the side to suck on the guy's collarbone and... Sungyeol! It was Sungyeol, with his eyes closed, his fingertips slipping inside the back of Baekhyun's pants. Smiling to himself, L.Joe silently closed the stall again and settled in against the wall nearby to keep watch for them. Sungyeol had done the same for him, L.Joe's turn to play wingman was well overdue.

 

Chapter Text

Sunlight shone in through the window and stung L.Joe's eyes. He groaned and rolled over and looked around. Changjo was still asleep, the dorm was quiet. Something other than the sun had woken him up, he looked around for his phone and found a new message.

Tonight. Wanna tag along?

Gunwoo.

Teen Top had launched into a busy period of promoting and L.Joe hadn't had time to think too much, had barely had time to breathe. Everyone said he was too skinny, himself included, but how was he supposed to ever gain any weight when there wasn't time enough to eat? So all other worries had had to be put on hold, he hadn't even talked properly to Sungyeol since EXO's party, which he was dying to do. To manage, he'd shoved everything to the back of his mind and forgotten about it, filling up the few free moments with games or movies to make sure his mind didn't wander.

The message dragged it all out in the light again. He stared at the simple words, subconsciously his hand went to his mouth.

Yes, he typed, then erased it again and fell back into the pillow, sighing. He should. Even if Teen Top were busy tonight, which they might be he didn't remember, he should sneak away.

Was he really considering this seriously? Even if the second time with Lay had been fucking fantastic, it had also messed him up for days; this stressful time had actually arrived to save him, because he had been going out of his mind. He hadn't been able to look at the sky without getting that feeling of is Lay flying out to China today? like prickles of needles inside his stomach. So maybe he should give it up. Walk away and not subject himself to this again.

He punched the pillow. Let it go, let it go. Punched it again and pushed his face down into it until he had to come up for air. Let the MYNAME hyungs fuck him so he could get over this bullshit and know how to do it right for Lay, so he could return to his plans and let Lay do it, which would be so fucking great, and he'd be so fucking good that Lay... that Lay what? Turned gay? Let it go, he yelled at himself in his mind and punched the pillow once, twice, more.

“Hyung,” Changjo mumbled sleepily. “What did that pillow ever do to you?”

“Go to sleep,” L.Joe commanded.

“I was asleep,” Changjo said. Not quite an open accusation, but close enough.

L.Joe turned his back on Changjo and put the phone away. He'd answer later.

“Are you okay?” Changjo asked.

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

Now Changjo sounded annoyed. L.Joe closed his eyes but couldn't go back to sleep. Did Changjo sleep yet? “Jonghyun-ah?”

“What.”

“I blew Lay-hyung again at EXO's party.”

“Ew.” Said mostly as a joke. He heard rustling as Changjo moved about in his bed. “Why are you telling me that? Wait, was that the same hyung as at the hotel?”

“Yeah,” L.Joe confessed.

“Twice with the same person?”

Technically three times. “Ya,” L.Joe said. “I've done the same person more than once before.”

“Not in a while though right?”

“How do you know that?” L.Joe sat up. “How do any of you know this much about my sex life? How could you tell that I was hunting when I went to that party anyway?”

“Because we're your members,” Changjo said calmly. “We know you.”

Sometimes that kid was like a five-year-old imp, and sometimes, so cool and grown up. L.Joe sighed and fiddled with the covers. “Sometimes I wish you knew me a little less,” he muttered.

“No you don't,” Changjo said.

“Don't make me come over there!”

“Eeeew don't!” Bundling his blanket together as a wall between them, Changjo giggled and turned back into the dorky maknae. “Don't you get enough!”

“Don't flatter yourself,” L.Joe said, unable to resist smiling.

“Is something going on lately?” Changjo asked.

“Don't worry about it.” He couldn't burden the kid with this.

“Every time you say that, we just end up worrying more, you know.”

He wished he could, but he couldn't talk about this, it was too weird. What was he supposed to do, ask Changjo if he should have sex with the MYNAME hyungs or not? No. So. “Should I see him again?”

“Lay-hyung?” Changjo asked. “Why, why not?”

“He's straight.”

“Agh,” Changjo said. “Uh, why are you doing it with him then?”

L.Joe chewed on his lips and shrugged. Glanced over at Changjo and saw that he'd understood. They sat in silence for a bit. It felt nice. Even if Changjo didn't say anything there was an aura of 'this sucks and I'm sorry' going on. A companionable silence.

“Go back to sleep,” L.Joe said finally. “I can't sleep, I'll watch a movie.”

Changjo hesitated for a second, then he said, with his usual stone face, “Fuck him, he doesn't know what he's missing.” And added a decisive nod at the end, as if agreeing with himself, before lying down.

L.Joe kept smiling at that nod, at random points while watching the movie. When the movie ended, he messaged Gunwoo.

Too busy, can't get away, rain check?

 

A few days later they did rehersals for a performance. Niel played around, gravitating towards L.Joe, messing with him. Last time it had been to cheer him up, but this time L.Joe sensed he was provoking CAP. Things were still weird with CAP and Niel was perhaps getting tired of it. He'd always been CAP's focus, his best friend, and now CAP was siding against him, favoring L.Joe? L.Joe wished he could tell CAP off somehow but didn't know how to bring it up. So he let Niel poke him to his heart's content, feeling a little bit guilty although it wasn't really his fault.

Niel was distracted by Chunji. Suddenly CAP was there, punching his arm playfully. L.Joe glanced at him, evaluating the situation. Punched him back. CAP grinned and closed in again, and L.Joe backed away, trying to get out of it, but CAP continued undaunted, punching him again. They were in public and being filmed, so L.Joe couldn't do what he wanted, which was to tell CAP to stop being strange and go to hell. When he turned away, the others were eyeing them.

With the way things had gone with Teen Top, they would blame L.Joe for this. While Niel returned to poking him and CAP joined in jealously, he remained passive, not giving them any reason to point fingers at him. This sucked. Normally he had a lot of fun playing around with the guys, and even if Niel could be a damned bother, he also liked it, although he'd never admit that publicly. CAP's weirdness was ruining everything. This had to stop.

That night when they returned to the dorm, Ricky and Changjo played around and almost tripped over L.Joe. CAP stepped in and shielded him.

“Hyung,” L.Joe said, glaring at him.

“You are being so weird,” Niel agreed, joining from the kitchen.

“Those two are still awkward,” Ricky complained. “Today at rehersals? So cringey.”

Changjo nodded in agreement.

“Why are you being weird to L.Joe-hyung,” Niel asked CAP.

“I'm not doing anything,” CAP protested, offering a reconcilliary smile that looked awfully fake. “What?”

“Did anyone believe that?” Chunji asked, looking over from the couch.

L.Joe was glad to be backed up, but maybe he should talk to CAP privately. He backed up a little, not wanting to seem like he was trying to attack him.

“He's sad because Lay's in China,” CAP said. “I'm just being nice.”

L.Joe's head snapped up. “What?”

CAP looked like he didn't know why he'd said that, like he wasn't sure who had said it at all.

“Lay? EXO's Lay? Why does L.Joe-hyung care if... ooooh, at the hotel?” Niel looked around. “Really? Changjo, did they?”

Changjo made a noise that could mean anything, and Niel immediately took it as proof.

“I'm not sad,” L.Joe said waving his hand for emphasis. CAP had been weird much before Lay, but it seeemd CAP tried to gloss it over by shoving him in Lay's direction. He'd pushed him at Lay at the hotel too. Why? Did he feel sorry for him? L.Joe felt anger bubble up.

“At EXO's party too,” Changjo said.

“Ya, what, why are you telling them!” L.Joe snapped, taking out the frustration on him instead, since he couldn't really yell at CAP.

Changjo gestured like he didn't think it was a big deal.

“Do you all need to know what I'm doing all the time? If I'm going to see friends or who I blow, what the fuck is it to you? Stop interfering!”

“I'm sorry,” Changjo said.

“Hold on,” Niel protested. “We're interfering because you need it.”

“That's true,” Ricky interjected.

“What had happened if we hadn't interfered with that guy that we can't talk about.”

“That was Sungyeol's doing!” L.Joe forcibly lowered his voice. “That was all Sungyeol, you just joined in when he asked you to! And if you hadn't, it would've gone just as well!”

“That is really unfair,” Niel said, looking honestly injured.

“Calm down,” Chunji said, coming over. “Byunghun.” He took L.Joe's arm. “Come on, I want to show you something.”

L.Joe didn't want this fight, he'd already said stuff he regretted, so he let Chunji drag him into his and Changjo's room.

As soon as the door closed, Chunji sighed and said, “You're going to make Niel cry.”

“Niel never cries.”

“You never room with him, so you don't know,” Chunji said. “Look, this is going to sound crazy as hell, but uh, I think, I think CAP-hyung likes you.”

L.Joe frowned.

“I mean, likes you. He's crushing on you.”

“This has been going on for months. He got weird about the MYNAME stuff.”

“Yeah, because he's jealous. Okay so it's a long crush. Maybe he's even...”

Oh god no. “Wait, wait, wait, stop. No. That's impossible.”

“You know all that stuff he's said, about not just wanting any girl, he wants someone that he can love and protect and care for? He never actually expressedly said 'girl', did he.”

“He's the one who said no stuff between members!”

“As if people can control who they fall for. He probably didn't like you back then.” Chunji scratched the back of his head. “I don't know what to do about it though. If this was someone else, I'd say, just avoid this guy for a while and let him get over it. But we're together all the time.”

“We don't even talk to each other normally! How could he crush on me.” L.Joe rubbed his face. He felt very tired all of a sudden. “This is so stupid. Even if I liked you I never let it affect the team.”

Chunji paused.

Agh now he'd amitted to it, he couldn't take it back. “It was just a crush, and I must have been crazy,” he muttered.

Chunji slapped his arm. “Not everyone are as tough as you. You know CAP-hyung is a big bleeding baby heart behind that scary face.”

“So what should I do. I already don't encourage him, because we don't actually interact,” L.Joe said. “And telling Niel to back off works so well, doesn't it.”

“Maybe get away as much as you can, and I'll try to distract that hyung when you're here,” Chunji said. “Our schedule is calming down again, so you won't be stuck with us all the time. What's Sungyeol-hyung up to these days?”

It turned out that four days later, Infinite were aiming to get senselessly drunk to celebrate an award won earlier in the week, and L.Joe was cordially invited to the dorm to join them. Sungjong and Hoya did sexy dances, Dongwoo failed at playing cards in hilarious ways yet somehow won, Sunggyu complained loudly at them, only to declare his love later. L.Joe had a great time. Some of Infinite collapsed or retired to their rooms, but since L.Joe was supposed to sleep on the couch he was kept up by the ones that remained. Sungyeol held out a long time, but eventually caved. It was just Dongwoo and Woohyun left and L.Joe had come down to comfortably drunk when the front door opened and L came stumbling in, followed by a flustered Lee Joon.

“Ya, wait, hold on!” Joon called.

L continued into the living room.

“You wanted home, I took you home, you said you weren't angry, hey! I said, wait!” Joon rushed after him and grabbed his arm.

L tore his arm free. “I'm not angry. But I'm going to bed.” He headed for his room.

“You're totally angry! I'm- I- that is, we- hey!”

They both disappeared into the kitchen.

“Oh no,” Woohyun groaned. “Not again.”

“What's going on?” L.Joe asked.

“Same old,” Woohyun said, leaning back in the couch. “They fight all the time. Sometimes I think they fight more than they don't fight. I don't get what they're even doing together.”

“You know what they're doing together,” Dongwoo said, eyes glimmering mischivously. “You'll see,” he told L.Joe when L.Joe looked confused.

L came out of the kitchen with a drink and sat in the couch next to L.Joe. “You never slept with my boyfriend, did you?” kind of cutely, but with a dangerous glimmer in his eye.

“Ya, ya,” Joon intercepted, following. “I told you- I said, I never...”

L hushed him. “I'm asking L.Joe-hyung.”

“I'm not a hyung,” L.Joe said.

L studied him again. “Really? I'm your hyung? You're Sungjong's age? But you look so much older.”

L was drunk, L.Joe realized. Not a lot, but enough to notice. He laughed, because they were close and L was like this all the time. “You know I'm -93.”

“Then let's be friends.” L held out his hand.

Still laughing, L.Joe shook it. “We already are,” he pointed out.

“You're so drunk,” Joon said confidently, like he was somehow taking pride in that fact.

“And whose fault is that?” L shot him a burning glare. “What about you, can you still get it up, old man?”

Woohyun and Dongwoo groaned.

“We might as well get out before they get it on right here,” Woohyun said. “Whenever L is drunk he gets all...”

“Needy,” Dongwoo filled in.

“Jealous much?” L asked, tilting his head.

“Deadly,” Dongwoo said, flopping back on the floor. “I want a girlfriend,” he told the ceiling.

“Yes,” Woohyun agreed. Then, “I'd settle for a girl. At this point I'd settle for a blowjob.”

“I hear,” L said smiling impishly at L.Joe, “that this friend is very good at that.”

“I did not say that,” Joon pointed out.

L reached out and grabbed Joon's jaw. “Would you turn him down if he offered?”

“Of course,” Joon said without blinking. “All my blowjob needs are met.”

L.Joe laughed at them, trying not to get embarrassed.

“Although I'd understand if you wanted to try it...” Joon started.

L gave up a shocked laugh. Dongwoo groaned again and Woohyun wrapped his arm around L.Joe's shoulders and pulled him away from Joon and L.

“Don't do it,” Woohyun told L.Joe. “You really don't want to get in between those two. For any reason, even if invited. Just trust me on that one.”

“It's not really my thing,” L.Joe agreed.

“Threesomes?” Joon peered at him. “That's not what I hear.”

What? Hear what how now?

“Sungyeol told me,” L said smiling.

If L was like this, then all secrets were fair game. “I think you two might be going too hard for me,” L.Joe said. “If I came back with bruises, I'd never hear the end of it.”

Joon blushed a deep, deep red. L's eyes narrowed dangerously again. “Sungyeol, that little bitch,” he said.

L.Joe laughed. Joon had actually told him as well, but Sungyeol deserved getting L turned against him, leaking everything to L like this.

“You're risking your life,” Woohyun told him. “Myungsoo doesn't just get horny when drunk, he also gets... dangerous.”

Joon nodded, safely hidden from L's view.

“Pff,” L said, waving them off. “So you're not denying it? Threesome?”

It seemed like honest curiosity, not a trap. “Why are you asking, you already know,” L.Joe said.

“I just expected you to deny it,” L said.

“This friend doesn't deny anything,” Joon said. “He's a brave one.”

“Who with, who,” Woohyun asked.

“We're not telling you that,” L.Joe said. It seemed like L didn't know that, at least.

Dongwoo sat up. “This is so unfair. You can go around like this between idols? I wish I was gay too.” He ruffled his hair. “Aaagh, is it very different? Maybe I can do it with a guy...” he looked doubtfully at his hands.

Woohyun laughed, still attached to L.Joe's shoulder. “You? With a guy?”

“A mouth is a mouth,” Dongwoo theorized. “For blowjobs it should be fine right?”

Woohyun was curling around L.Joe with laughter, warm and friendly.

“I want a girlfriend though, not just random sex, so I guess it won't work,” Dongwoo concluded, smiling happily.

“There has to be a difference,” Woohyun said, recovering. “Gay, straight, if it was just 'a mouth is a mouth' then wouldn't more people do it?”

“If you close your eyes how would you know?” Dongwoo asked.

“I've blown straight guys,” L.Joe offered. “Some don't mind.”

“Then they're not straight,” Woohyun proposed.

“They probably are,” L said. “You know how some guys, well, they don't care what or who.”

Joon snaked an arm around L's waist and had his hand under L's shirt, but it seemed like intimacy rather than anything sexual. L was pointedly ignoring it. L.Joe shifted to sit more comfortably in Woohyun's arms, a little jealous of the comfortable touching.

“Some guys just want to get off. Like you,” Dongwoo said.

“Fair enough.” Woohyun frowned. “I'm pretty sure I could tell the difference though. I mean it's not like... I wouldn't want to get off with just anything. I do have some standards.”

It was Dongwoo's turn to laugh, and he did, loudly and happily.

“I do,” Woohyun said, sounding slightly hurt.

“Like what,” L challenged.

Woohyun held up his hand and counted on his fingers. “Female. Healthy. Um. Female.”

Everyone laughed.

“Evidence, we need evidence.” L turned to Joon. “You've had blowjobs from girls right?”

Joon eyed him. “If I say yes, will you kill me?”

“It was in the past,” Dongwoo said. “No one will kill you.”

“You never know,” Joon smiled. L flicked his forehead. “Ow.” Then L rubbed the spot for him to distract from the pain.

“Someone told me it's better from guys,” L said. “Because a guy will know how to touch a guy, you know, because they know what it's like.”

Joon shrugged. “I didn't notice any difference like that. Some people are better at it than others, but it's not like I've tried so many people that I can say it's only about if they're girls or guys.”

“We know someone's better at it than others.” L patted L.Joe's thigh, just within his reach.

L.Joe laughed.

“Oh! He's not denying that either,” Joon said, amused.

Woohyun let go of him and scooted away a little. “Don't tempt me,” he muttered.

“If you're so horny and so indiscriminate, you're telling us you would turn down a blowjob from someone with great skills, just because it's a guy?” L asked.

“Why do you hate men?” Dongwoo asked, faking an exaspirated face very well, but couldn't keep it up and instead collapsed in laughter on the floor.

“Would you blow him?” L asked L.Joe.

It wasn't like this conversation hadn't brought the question to mind, but Infinite was Sungyeol's team, they hadn't exactly talked about it but it felt like going behind Sungyeol's back. L.Joe laughed like the question was silly and hoped it'd be enough.

“You wouldn't?” This time it was Woohyun, and he sounded so sincerely hurt that Dongwoo collapsed again, crawling in under the table.

“Of course I would,” L.Joe said.

“Oh?” Joon exclaimed.

“He's a handsome hyung,” L.Joe said. “And sensible, he wouldn't get stupid about it or freak out.”

“You really would?” Woohyun asked.

L.Joe gave him a quirked smile. “I like doing it.”

“You do?” L asked. Smoothed Joon's collar. “I don't mean I don't like doing it, but not like that.” He nodded at L.Joe. “He's smiling like we're talking about free food.”

“Steak,” Joon giggled.

“I like doing it to women,” Dongwoo said from under the table. “It's not strange is it?”

“Smiling like that is strange,” Woohyun said, giving L.Joe a friendly shove.

L.Joe shrugged happily. He liked the control, he liked being wanted, he liked the vulnerability of the situation. How he made them feel, and how it made him feel.

“Give or receive, which is best?” L asked.

Everyone eyed each other.

“Receive,” Woohyun and Dongwoo said in unison. Joon agreed half a second later. Which left L.Joe, who knew the answer but felt embarrassed to give it with everyone looking expectantly at him. He laughed and bent his head down to hide behind his hair.

“Really?” L said, sounding disbelieving.

“What about you?” Woohyun asked.

“Isn't it obvious? Receive. Anyone would say that,” L said.

“You're just lazy,” Woohyun accused him.

“L.Joe still hasn't answered,” Joon teased.

“Give,” L.Joe told the couch. Obviously he liked having it done to him, but doing it himself was just a little extra. The best feeling.

“Uaa,” Woohyun said with disbelief.

“Still going to turn him down?” L asked.

“Maybe I shouldn't,” Woohyun said.

Dongwoo looked around. “I'm out,” he said, getting up, smiling and waving. “I'm out, I'm out.”

“I was just...”

“It's fine, it's fine, do what you want,” Dongwoo said. “I'm not judging, I just think it's time for me to go to bed. Good night!” He waved and escaped.

L snickered, as Woohyun groaned and rubbed his face. “Why did he do that? Now it's just awkward.” Woohyun looked like he was trying to make a decision. “You like doing it?” he asked.

“Mm,” L.Joe said.

“And you wouldn't mind doing it for me?”

L.Joe shrugged a little. “No.”

“And this won't be weird in the morning?”

“I won't be,” L.Joe promised. “I don't know about you.”

Woohyun licked his lips and tapped his foot nervously. Hesitated for a second, before he asked, “Do you want to blow me?”

L.Joe glanced over his shoulder at L and Joon, the first of which had his hand over his mouth dramatically and the second was watching them with big eyes. Well, Woohyun was an adult, and not terribly drunk at this point. “Sure,” he said.

“Just like that?” Woohyun asked.

“You want it in writing?”

“Absolutely not.”

L.Joe laughed and moved over, down on one knee on the floor and a hand on Woohyun's hip.

“Right here?” Woohyun said.

“Where else?” L.Joe asked. All the rooms had people in them, and he wasn't doing this on that hard, cold bathroom floor.

“Okay,” Woohyun said, sounding mostly on board now. He settled in a bit more on the couch, spreading his legs a little, and L.Joe's body responded to the movement, knowing what it meant. “Shit,” Woohyun cursed under his breath when L.Joe unzipped his pants.

“If you're freaking out, close your eyes and think of someone else,” L.Joe said.

Woohyun snorted. “You're unbeliev...” he cut himself off and twitched when L.Joe reached into his underwear and cupped him. Then closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the couch. L.Joe kept a close eye on him while he warmed him up, looking for signs of distress, but it seemed okay. Far as L.Joe knew, some straight guys really couldn't get it up when they knew it was a guy doing it, but Woohyun's body didn't seem to give a damned who had a hand down his pants. His cock swelled proudly under L.Joe's touch, big and thick and absolutely delicious. L.Joe bent down and flicked his tongue over the head.

“Oh god,” came a whisper from his left and he remembered Joon and L. He'd never done this with an audience before. Knowing their eyes were on them made his skin buzz. He was getting hard already, pushing against his jeans.

Woohyun's hands on the couch armrest curled into fists when L.Joe worked his cock into his mouth. He slid down purposefully slow, sucking in bit by bit, teasing with his tongue. Once he'd swallowed down as much as he could he let his free hand search out Woohyun's balls, playing around and testing the shape while he started moving. Woohyun let out a long, longing groan. When L.Joe glanced up at him, Woohyun's eyes opened briefly.

“Oh fuck,” Woohyun said, closing them again and turning away, a strange desperation in his voice. “Fuck! Fuck, what am I, ah, fuck that's good, you, ahhh...”

L.Joe hummed around his cock, using some of his best tricks, intervals of sucking and long, lushious licks. Woohyun forgot any reservations he'd been about to have and the random words and curses slowly went over into senseless groans. Woohyun's dark voice thickened, sweet and smooth like hot honey tea making L.Joe heat up from the inside.

There was a hushed, throaty sound from the left. He popped Woohyun out of his mouth and jacked him, glancing over. Joon was massaging L through his pants, kissing his neck, and L leaned back into him, body struggling against him, but his eyes still open and locked on the show. When their eyes met, L hummed and shivered in a way that sent electricity down L.Joe's spine.

“Ah, don't stop,” Woohyun said quietly, maybe a little embarrassed.

L.Joe's cock could sympathize. He needed to get out of his pants. He made sure Woohyun's eyes were still closed before he undid his fly, dove in and licked the base of Woohyun's erection as he curled his hand around his own. Straight guys could sometimes even live with seeing a guy down there, but a guy with his cock in his hand? Not really. L.Joe jacked himself descreetly to the same pace as he sucked Woohyun, moaning around him, hoping it would pass for part of the technique. Woohyun probably wasn't in a state to notice anyway. He was groaning senselessly again, almost painfully, holding down his voice to not be heard into the bedrooms. L.Joe was pretty sure he could be heard anyway. The thought made him smile, made his skin prickle with the idea that there may be more audience, listening. Let them listen. Let them hear how good he was.

“You're, you,” Woohyun said, fighting together actual words, “ah, you're making me, I'm going to, mmmm,” he writhed, trying to hold still, body about to disobey.

L.Joe used both hands, pushed him the last bit and tipped to the side. On his ass on the floor, shoulder against the couch, he let Woohyun shoot his load into the room with a long, suffering moan cut off when Woohyun slapped his own hand over his mouth.

Breathless noises came from the other couple's direction. L had leaned back fully, eyes closed, one hand digging into Joon's pants. L.Joe jacked himself to orgasm watching L come and convulse and whimper and push Joon's hand away, sore and oversensitive.

Woohyun's limp body slowly came back to life. “Oh god,” he said, but it sounded like a good thing, not a late freaking out. L.Joe felt drunk and tired and sated and leaned back into the couch, not bothering to tuck back in right then.

“Woohyun-ah,” Joon said and planted a kiss on L's shoulder, making L twitch slightly. “How was it? Much worse than a girl?” He smiled.

Woohyun threw his arm over his face. “Fuck,” he said softly.

Joon chuckled. L's eyes opened, drunk with pleasure, but still with some energy.

“Who did you think about, hyung?” L asked, like this was some topic of conversation they'd talked about before.

“No one,” Woohyun said. “Ah, my mind just went blank. Where am I, what's going on, who am I?” He laughed and sat up straight. “Fine, you win. There's no difference.” Then he found his own pants still being open with comical surprise and got up and waddled to the bathroom.

Joon was petting L's thigh. L gave him a long look. “Let's chase Dongwoo-hyung out of my room,” he proposed.

Joon smiled and helped L up and followed him away. L.Joe tried to not stare at the bulge in his pants, maybe it was rude, although after this it might not matter. Woohyun came back and handed him a tissue and dropped some on the floor on his own cum, like he was too embarrassed about it to crouch down and actually clean it up.

“They fight and they fuck,” Woohyun said, referring to Joon and L. “And the way L comes out of it, the fucking is fighting too. Then they're all lovey-dovey, like they're both apologizing to each other, for whatever short time it takes them to start fighting again. But somehow happy. Somehow they're both so happy.” He frowned. “I don't get it.”

“Don't look at me, love isn't my area.” L.Joe cleaned himself up and fixed his clothes. When he looked up again, Woohyun was eyeing him.

“I won't be weird if you won't,” L.Joe said.

“This doesn't feel fair somehow,” Woohyun said.

“I don't need you feeling sorry for me,” L.Joe warned him. “I think that falls under weird.”

Woohyun shrugged and hovered. There was a rustle from inside the room Joon and L had gone. “I kind of want to get out of here before Dongwoo comes,” Woohyun admitted. “I didn't mean I feel sorry for you, it just doesn't feel fair.”

“You want to compensate me for my services?” L.Joe asked, sliding across the floor to clean up the mess, since Woohyun wasn't doing it.

Woohyun grunted. “Wow. Now I feel like an asshole.”

“I'm sorry,” L.Joe said. “I just, I mean it when I say I like doing it. Don't get weird.”

“Alright.” Woohyun scratched his neck. “Will you take it the wrong way if I say thank you?”

L.Joe smiled at him and licked his lips. “Anytime.”

“I think one time was enough for me. Excuse me while I go have an existential crisis.” Woohyun smiled back and headed for his own room.

Just a moment after he closed the door, the other door opened and Dongwoo and Sungyeol stumbled out, Sungyeol looking utterly confused, and Dongwoo still asleep on his feet. L.Joe sat in the couch. After a few moments Sungyeol managed to comprehend where he was and that L.Joe was present and smiled weakly in his direction, coming over, then going back to guide Dongwoo to the couch.

“Myungsoo would never dare throw any of the other hyungs out of bed,” Sungyeol said and punched Dongwoo's shoulder. “You're such a pushover.”

“He didn't throw me,” Dongwoo said, rubbing his eyes. “They just started, and I don't like being in there when they're...” He tipped into the couch and fell asleep mid-sentence.

“I don't even know why I was in there,” Sungyeol muttered, sitting next to L.Joe. “I thought I went to sleep in my own bed, I don't know how I ended up in Myungsoo's.”

L.Joe leaned against his shoulder and closed his eyes. So tired.

Suddenly Sungyeol ruffled his hair. “Are you okay?”

The friendly concern and casual touch was so unexpected, L.Joe burst into tears. The more he tried to control himself – the sudden outburst bewildered him as much as it did Sungyeol – the worse it got. Sungyeol hugged him and let him finish.

“Did something happen?” Sungyeol asked.

L.Joe dried his tears, too embarrassed about the emotional collapse to be embarrassed about anything else. “I blew Woohyun-hyung,” he said.

“You did what?”

“I'm sorry. It just kind of happened.”

“Did the hyungs push you into something?”

Where Woohyun's concern had felt insulting, Sungyeol was his friend, unconditionally and without judgment. “No,” L.Joe said. “I wanted to.” Suddenly there were tears again and he wiped them away with his shirt. “I mean, obviously it's, I don't know what's wrong with me.”

Sungyeol settled in. “We haven't really talked in a while, what's been on your mind lately?”

Lay. Nothing but Lay. “CAP-hyung's been a bit weird,” he said. “I don't think I told you, but he offered to, uh, you know I went to see the MYNAME hyungs? He told me not to, that he'd do it instead.”

“Do what? You?” Sungyeol raised his eyebrows. “Why?”

“I don't know,” L.Joe said, frowning at the memory. “He seemed really serious about it too. At first it was all of that 'the first time should be special' crap, and then suddenly he offerend to do it.”

“The first time? Oh you mean, you hadn't... you did that with...?” Sungyeol processed quickly for a person just woken up in the middle of the night. “Okay, right, well, he's your hyung, if he honestly thinks the first time is super ultra special, then maybe he figured it was better with someone who loves you than someone you met a few days ago.”

L.Joe cried quietly again.

“Hey, I'm sure it's fine, he's probably just a little weirded out by himself,” Sungyeol said, rubbing his shoulder. “Maybe you should talk it over properly with him, so he knows there's no misunderstandings and stuff.”

“Chunji thinks he's crushing on me,” L.Joe said. Groaned and covered his face with his arm, leaning back in the couch. “This is such a mess.”

“I think you should talk to him.”

“Chunji said I should avoid him and let him get over it.”

“How long has it been? Months. He's not getting over it. It's better to talk it out. Look how well it went when I walked around not talking to L about how I felt? I freaked out and ruined his life. CAP is doing the same to you, isn't he, being weird, ruining the mood with the whole team.”

“Mm.” L.Joe sat up again. He'd decided. He'd talk to CAP. It might go to hell, but Sungyeol was right. “What about you? How was Baekhyun-hyung?” He grinned.

Sungyeol blinked. Glanced over at Dongwoo but Dongwoo was solidly asleep. “Good,” he said then, smiling, a little shy.

“Does this mean you've decided? I can count you in the club?”

“What club?”

“Me, Joon, L...”

“Oh you mean like that. Yeah, obviously. You thought I was still undecided? It's been a long time.” Sungyeol nodded to himself. “Remember that time we talked about ideal types?”

“Mm.” Oh, wait. “You bumped into someone and said he was your ideal type,” L.Joe remembered. Who had it been? At the time, EXO had just been an anonymous group of people.

“You don't remember who it was, do you,” Sungyeol accused him. “It was him. Baekhyun.”

“That's awesome! Congratulations,” L.Joe said, playfully punching his shoulder.

“I dunno how awesome it is,” Sungyeol said. “I got his number, but, he's... he's a bit like you, right? So I shouldn't get attached. On the other hand, what have I got to lose? Maybe I should just go for it. It's not like we could be boyfriends, I guess, but we could meet up... screw around, I guess. Would be more than I could hope for before.”

Oh god. L.Joe clamped his hand over his mouth to keep from starting to cry again. What he wouldn't give to get to sit like Sungyeol and theorize, make plans. Instead, he was making plans for how much he could get out of Lay before Lay remembered he was straight and tossed him aside. But this wasn't the time, he wanted to be happy for Sungyeol. He cleared his throat. “He had some kind of standing agreement with SHINee's Minho,” he said, “but he said they didn't really like each other, it was just out of convenience. If he likes you, I bet he'd rather have it with you.”

“Minho?” Sungyeol thought about it. “Then Baekhyun's a bottom?”

“Mm,” L.Joe said. He'd never get to think about that with Lay either. All he could do was hope Lay might fuck him if he played his cards right. Probably once and never again. “Fuck,” he said and cried again.

Sungyeol's rubbed his shoulder. “What's the matter? This isn't about CAP-hyung is it?”

“It's... I... Lay-hyung,” L.Joe said. His voice broke.

Sungyeol hugged him quietly.

“I can't say it, it's so stupid,” L.Joe mumbled. “So embarrassing.”

“Considering the stuff I've told you, I don't think there's any reason to hold secrets between each other,” Sungyeol said.

“You can't tell anyone this. Not L either.”

Sungyeol made a guilty grimace. “I'm sorry, he's my weak spot. Alright, I promise, no one. Not L, not my mother, not God himself.”

“Woohyun-hyung... was worried, about what we did, he said it didn't seem fair. And I don't need pity or anything but... Lay-hyung just left. That time. He didn't worry at all.” L.Joe chewed on his lip, refusing to cry anymore. “This is so stupid.”

“It's not stupid, it's how you feel,” Sungyeol encouraged him. “Go on.”

“I wanted to blow this hyung, I like doing it. You know I like doing it. But... I told Lay-hyung before to close his eyes and think about someone else if he wanted, and I said the same thing to Woohyun-hyung now and it made me... I just... because I meant it with Woohyun-hyung, it was fine if he wanted to think about a girl or something. But I said it to Lay-hyung and I really, really didn't want him to.” He barely managed to hold back, Sungyeol could probably hear the tears he didn't cry in his voice. “It was a little weird this last time with Lay, I freaked out because I...” he wasn't ready to admit what he'd been planning, and he couldn't tell Sungyeol why he'd freaked out anyway. “I don't know if he'll want to see me again. So now, Woohyun-hyung is the first since then, this is really silly but... it feels like it might be gone, yeah? His taste or whatever, it's been overwritten. It's gone, like it never happened.”

Sungyeol squeezed his shoulder. “You stupid kid,” he said softly.

The urge to cry was suddenly gone. L.Joe felt empty, exhausted. He slid out of Sungyeol's touch and curled up in the corner of the couch.

“You like him,” Sungyeol said slowly.

“It's fine,” L.Joe said. “It'll pass.”

“You really like him.”

“It's just a crush.” L.Joe shook his head. “It happens.”

“That day when we talked about ideal types?” Sungyeol asked.

“It was stupid,” L.Joe said.

“I remember what you said,” Sungyeol said. “You wanted someone who didn't just love but had a good sense of music. Someone who worked hard but wasn't afraid of being funny, who didn't talk too much or was too twitchy and nervous and needy. And I said you were being too specific, and what kind of body did you like, and you said dancers, and beautiful eyes. And I said that was way too general, and we fought about it, and finally,” Sungyeol looked at him urgingly. “What did you say?”

L.Joe didn't want to say it. He grit his teeth knowing Sungyeol wouldn't quit. “Dimples,” he muttered. “Dimples are cute.”

“And I told you all of that in one person was impossible.”

“Ideal types are stupid,” L.Joe said. “That's also what I said. How would anyone know what they want ahead of time?”

“It's not ahead of time anymore, is it,” Sungyeol said.

Cute and sexy, L.Joe had said at the time, and thought to himself that the combination sounded impossible. Yet Lay's Fighting! at the hotel piano had been the cutest thing, and Lay dancing was the sexiest. All his ideal type points were aligning, weren't they. Fuck.

“He's straight,” L.Joe said, and his voice broke again and he curled with his arms over his head to hide the tears. Oh god he couldn't do this not again, how stupid could one person be in such a short time. Had he learned nothing from Chunji? No, he'd insisted he was fine, crying himself to sleep, breaking his heart every day, until it was so broken and numb it didn't matter anymore. He hadn't gotten over Chunji, he'd killed himself. Dead men didn't fall in love. So he'd ignored the signs, and he'd repeated exactly the same fucking mistake. Close your eyes and think about someone else, he'd said.

Someone else. Who did Lay see when he closed his eyes?

He flew up and kicked the table. It jumped sideways and bottles, cups and plates fell over and scattered, some on the floor, luckily mostly empty. The rattle woke Dongwoo, who frowned at the scene, eyes barely open enough to see.

“I know this isn't the time,” Sungyeol said, “but I tried to tell you.”

“Tell me what,” L.Joe said, staring at the mess he'd made, and resisted the impulse to sit down and pick everything up.

Sungyeol scratched his neck. “We talked about that too, that day, with the ideal types. Trashy image, remember? I couldn't explain it so you understood. But, um, it takes a certain kind of guy to do what you do without ever getting your heart involved, and it's... you're not that guy. You're having so much fun playing the cool guy, playing untouchable whore, that you've gotten it into your head that you're invulnerable.”

All those questions if he didn't want someone special, or talking about ideal types, had that been Sungyeol's way of trying to push him? This time he resisted the impulse to kick the table again and stayed quiet, because he had nothing nice to say.

“I can't believe you had sex with Woohyun,” Sungyeol said, looking like he'd suddenly realized it had actually happened.

“What?” Dongwoo mumbled, blinking, trying to wake up.

“Nothing.”

“They really did it? You really did it?” Dongwoo turned to L.Joe.

“I did,” L.Joe said flippantly. “He fucking loved it.”

Dongwoo smirked appreciatively and fell back asleep.

“You seduced one of my members while I was in the other room!” Sungyeol said. L.Joe couldn't determine if he was shocked or angry or impressed, or all of the above. Instead of continuing with the outburst, he rubbed his face. “I'm too tired for this. I want to say something profound about love and whatever but my brain just keeps going back to Woohyun-hyung.”

L.Joe tried thinking back to Woohyun too. “He had a nice...”

“Stop! No! You know I'd kill for more details about the other guys on your list, but not a word about Woohyun-hyung, alright?” Sungyeol made a desperate face. “I just, I can't, okay? It's too weird. I live with him. I have to see him every day.”

“He'll probably suspect that I told you,” L.Joe said. “It's going to be awkward either way.”

“L.Joe!”

“You've seen it already, haven't you? So what's the big deal. Oh and his voice is...”

“Stop! Swear! Swear on Lay-sshi to never speak...” Sungyeol paused at L.Joe's expression. “I'm sorry,” he said gently, “that was going too far.”

L.Joe shook his head. He felt dizzy, it was probably tiredness and drunkenness and all the emotions bundling up. He sat back down. “I swear,” he said.

Sungyeol's eyes softened, and he gestured for L.Joe to lie down. “C'mere. Let's sleep,” he said.

Leaving Dongwoo to sleep sitting up, they curled up together in what was left. Sungyeol had to put his feet in Dongwoo's lap, but they did fit, just barely.

“It's just my luck isn't it,” Sungyeol muttered into L.Joe's ear. “I had to make friends with the finest slut in kpop, so he'll never get it on with me.”

Knowing Sungyeol was joking, L.Joe snickered into his shoulder.

“Love you,” Sungyeol said.

It was too embarrassing to say. He hoped Sungyeol knew.

He fell asleep listening to Sungyeol's heartbeat.

 

L.Joe was woken up by Sungyeol untangling them to the cheers and taunts of a few other members. When Sungyeol got tired of their remarks about the two of them sleeping together, he gave Woohyun a pointed glare, and Woohyun smoothly led attention away to other subjects.

“Woohyun-hyung is super awkward,” Sungyeol said, when he and L.Joe were left alone in Sungyeol's room after breakfast was over.

“He'll get over it,” L.Joe said.

“I have an endless source of blackmail, of course,” Sungyeol said, “but I can't get over that you actually... did that... to that hyung!”

“You know I'm a slut,” L.Joe said.

“You can be a slut without sleeping with your best friend's friends.”

“I'm running out of targets.” L.Joe felt his face twist into a bitter grin. “Maybe there's more in EXO since they don't know about each other.”

“Don't do this to yourself,” Sungyeol said.

“The worst thing I can do to myself is lie around wallowing over a guy I can never have. Then it's better to get on with life.”

“This is perhaps a controversial idea,” Sungyeol said, “But we just talked about how CAP is ruining Teen Top by not confessing to you, so have you considered confessing to Lay-ssi?”

“Why would I do that, he's straight, and nothing is going to be ruined if I don't because I'll never see him again anyway.” After getting some sleep, and not being drunk, L.Joe wasn't quite so prone to cry. It still hurt to think about though.

“Even if it doesn't change anything, confessing can make you feel better. Believe me. Did you ever confess to Chunji?”

“What would be the point? He'd just be awkward and unhappy. Why hurt both of us, when, I mean, it's useless, and it could have hurt Teen Top.”

“Why hurt both of you when you can just hurt yourself,” Sungyeol filled in.

L.Joe clenched his jaw and said nothing.

“You're my friend, and obviously you can live your life as you like, and I'll always support you, but this once, just try my advice. Will it kill you? I thought L would kill me, but look at us now. I couldn't let go of him until I did it, that's what I think.”

“What's the point,” L.Joe said, shaking his head at the floor.

“I think you'll never understand the point until you try it,” Sungyeol said.