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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.

 

Chapter Text

L.Joe only had time to get back to the dorm, shower and get presentable before they were shuffled off to a waiting room for a show. After getting his hair and makeup done, he had to wait for the others, and crashed into a couch next to Chunji. Chunji looked up from what he was reading. “Did you have a good time?”

“Yeah,” L.Joe said. “Exhausting, but, it was good.”

Chunji returned to reading. That was one of the nice things with him, as opposed to Niel and Ricky who would have been all over him. L.Joe closed his eyes and relaxed.

Someone pounced into the couch. “Hyung!”

“Yes,” he said without opening his eyes.

“Did you do Infinite?”

He glanced around, smiling at Niel's excitedness, but they could talk safely here as long as they kept it down. “Not all of them.”

“Ooooh.”

“Let him rest,” Chunji told Niel.

“Did you do Hoya?” Niel climbed onto L.Joe and lay there, breathing into his hair. “Did you? Did you?”

“What's with you and Hoya,” Chunji asked.

“I think he's gay,” Niel said. “I want evidence.”

“He's straight,” L.Joe said patiently. “So is the rest of Infinite. It's just L and Sungyeol.”

“Maybe he hasn't realized himself. Although how hard can it be.” Niel patted L.Joe's ass. “Hanging around this fine ass all day, I can confidently say that if I was into guys, I'd know.”

Chunji glanced up. “Did you do L?”

“Joon-hyung was there,” L.Joe said. “I like to keep my head attached to my body.”

“Sungyeol?” Niel asked. “But I thought you two...?”

“Not him either.”

Chunji frowned and put his reading away. “You blew one of the straight guys,” he said.

“Waa, they let you?” Niel asked.

“I'm good,” L.Joe said confidently. “Someone's always curious.”

“CAP-hyung!” Niel said. CAP had appeared in the door with a bottle of water and came wandering over. “Can we lift the ban on sex with members? I have to try out L.Joe-hyung's blowjobs. They're apparently the best.”

“Ew!” L.Joe groaned and shoved him out of the couch.

“There's no ban on sex with members,” CAP said.

“Huh? You said...”

“I said no messing around,” CAP said calmly.

L.Joe wondered why he looked everywhere else in the room but at him.

“Sex isn't messing around?” Niel asked.

“Not if you're serious about it,” CAP said.

“Well, that still counts Niel out,” Chunji said.

Niel snorted but didn't protest. Instead he climbed onto L.Joe again. “Hyung,” he said with honeyed voice, “be serious with me. Just for a day or so, but...” L.Joe tried to squirm away, laughing.

CAP walked over and, rather effortlessly, flopped Niel off of L.Joe and off the couch entirely. “Do you really want L.Joe to blow you?” he asked.

“No,” Niel admitted.

“Then that is messing around,” CAP said. “Quit it or get out.”

Niel stuck his tongue out, before scrambling out of CAP's reach and escaping the room.

“I have such mature members,” Chunji said to no one in particular.

Finally CAP looked L.Joe's way. Just for a second, with a wary look on his face like he'd found a wild animal and wasn't sure what to do with it. Then he turned and left.

L.Joe and Chunji's eyes met. Yeah.

 

So Sungyeol as well, had been thinking things about L.Joe's sex life. The more L.Joe thought about it, the more it felt like a betrayal. They had agreed to be unconditional friends, friends that never judged each other but tried to be on each others' side. Yet Sungyeol didn't believe L.Joe either. Just like Chunji, just like CAP. It was even worse, because Sungyeol had pretended to, while trying to influence him secretly.

He felt alone, for the first time since he'd met Sungyeol. There was only one person he thought he could trust with not judging him this way now. Baekhyun had given him his number that time.

Wanna talk? he sent.

Baekhyun called him. “Hey, it's great to hear from you,” he said immediately, L.Joe barely had time to say hello.

“Can you talk?”

“We're actually in China, but it's fine, I'm not doing anything right now,” Baekhyun said. “We're at a hotel, we just came back, I'm exhausted, this is perfect, I can just lie here and talk to you.” L.Joe actually heard him fall into bed. “How's Sungyeol-hyung?”

“Good. You haven't talked to him?”

“I'm waiting for him to call,” Baekhyun said. “I can't call him first. You know how it is.”

L.Joe didn't, really. He'd never had a reason to play those games. “Uhuh. But I think he'd be happy if you did.”

“Is this why you called? Did he tell you to?”

“God no. No, I just wanted to talk.”

“Talking is good too. Did you know, did you notice that Kai snuck out that day? When there was a dance battle, it was just Lay-hyung and Taemin, because Kai had 'gotten a call' according to Taemin. Gotten a call from his mystery lover, for sure.”

“You mean you don't know who it is?” L.Joe asked.

“No idea,” Baekhyun confessed. “He's keeping it secret. I think it's because this guy isn't comfortable. Or something. Kai is very up and down about it, it's messy somehow. I think there's a third person involved, but that's just the feeling I get.” Baekhyun sighed. “This is what happens when people try to be together all strict and monogamous.”

“I know at least one happy couple,” L.Joe said. Was L and Joon a happy couple? Even if Woohyun said they fought all the time, at least they seemed to be confident in the relationship.

“Yeah, but how many people do you know who aren't in one?”

Fair enough. This was why he'd called Baekhyun after all. He smiled. “So how did it go with Lay-hyung?”

“He's cool about it,” Baekhyun said. “I don't know why I freaked out so much.”

“What was that about anyway? He said you got super angry at him.”

There was a brief pause before Baekhyung said, “He lied,” and sounded very serious all of a sudden. “We've talked about stuff like this, sex, love, you know? This hyung, he's... we didn't think he lied, we all thought he was the most honest, most reliable one of us, but since he did that with you he lied to us that time. Lied really well. If you can't trust Lay-hyung, who can you trust? That's what I thought. So I yelled at him a bit. He's easy to yell at because he doesn't yell back like that. He just cried, so then I felt awful. Especially now I feel awful because he's been supportive and protected me from the other hyungs and stuff.”

“Sooner or later your hyungs will find out, they always do,” L.Joe said. “It's hard to keep secrets from members.”

“At least now I have Lay-hyung to protect me,” Baekhyun said. “But he wouldn't keep guard when I wanted to try to come on to a Chinese guy here. He said I wasn't serious enough. Pff. I'm always serious about stuff like that.”

L.Joe laughed.

They chatted about some other things. Baekhyun was rather easy to talk to, he wasn't afraid of any subject or of sharing of himself. He said some stuff that L.Joe would have been way too embarrassed to say to anyone at all, and Baekhyun was talking to someone he'd only met once. L.Joe reminded himself to be a little careful with what he said to him, because even if it didn't seem like Baekhyun shared other people's secrets too carelessly yet, you never knew.

“My members think I'm not serious enough either,” L.Joe said after a while. “CAP was on me about first times and stuff. You think that matters?”

“First time? Like there's some super special virginity you're supposed to save for your one true love?” Baekhyun laughed. “We're screwed, then. No true love for us.”

His own inexperience was certainly one of the things L.Joe would never share with anyone. “Mmm, shouldn't it be the other way around? You should get a lot of practice so the first time with someone special can be super great.”

“I like that idea,” Baekhyun said. “Sign me up for it. Speaking of practice, Sungyeol-hyung...”

“Sungyeol what?”

“Sungyeol-hyung hasn't had a lot of it, has he?”

L.Joe laughed and wondered how to escape the question. “Why?”

“Nevermind, I shouldn't ask you to tell on your friend. I notice you don't call him hyung, but I'm your hyung aren't I?”

“I told you we're unconditional friends.”

“I'm a little jealous,” Baekhyun admitted. “I mean I'm jealous of a lot of things in your life, but that too, to be so committed to a friend. I'm a little, hm, flakey? I'm a stubborn person in some ways, but with people, like that, a little flakey.”

“It's not a commitment like that,” L.Joe said.

“It isn't?”

Was it? He hadn't even thought about it when he made the agreement. They chatted a little more and hung up, and then he thought about it. Was Sungyeol right? He played this flakey, easy person, but in reality he was pretty commited wasn't he. He didn't have to be with the people he'd gone down on because they demanded nothing. But he was even protecting Kikwang out of some sense of loyalty. He had a feeling Baekhyun wouldn't protect anyone like that. He was truly commited to this friendship with Sungyeol, that's why he was so upset that Sungyeol had been false. He'd commited to Chunji too; not in the traditional sense, but one could see it as loyalty that he'd kept it up for so long and still didn't want Chunji to know what it had really been.

It wasn't like he absolutely didn't want a boyfriend, or thought it sounded bad or anything. The concept was just difficult to imagine. He was busy all the time, travelling, working, practicing, and that person would have to stand sneaking around and the fans and everything. It was useless in this business, simply, to wish for it. So he didn't. But if he didn't have this job, then sure. If he didn't have this job, maybe he'd have confessed to Chunji for better or worse, maybe would to Lay as well just in case, just for the tiny tiny possiblity, but since there simply was no possibility anyway there was no point.

That was it, wasn't it. However frightened he was of Lay tossing him aside, Lay unavoidably would in the end. However long it lasted, however many times he could get to touch him, eventually there would be no more. So what did he have to lose? He only had things to gain. Great sex, and, if he did it right, more than once. So.

He texted Gunwoo. When's your next get together?

 

They were sitting at an interview. CAP's hand accidentally brushed L.Joe's thigh, and CAP jerked away. It was just a little movement, but the cameras captured it, and no doubt the fans would start spinning stories. That wasn't a problem, but CAP was increasingly obvious, and eventually it would become a problem.

“Help me tonight,” L.Joe asked Chunji. “I have to talk to CAP-hyung.”

Chunji looked doubtful.

“Trust me,” L.Joe said. “Make sure the kids don't interrupt us. This can't continue.”

Chunji solved it by dragging the kids out to get food. He told them CAP was napping, don't wake him up, and L.Joe was watching a movie and didn't want to come. They fell for it, mostly distracted by the prospect of Chunji buying them stuff.

L.Joe headed over to CAP's room. He was indeed napping, so L.Joe woke him up. He never minded being woken up, as if he passed back and forth between 'asleep' and 'awake' so effortlessly that it didn't matter.

“We should talk,” L.Joe said awkwardly, sitting down with him. Ah, this was going to suck.

CAP eyed him warily. “Where's the kids?”

“Chunji took them out to get food, they won't be back for a while,” L.Joe said. “Hyung, you're being weird about me. Even in front of the cameras, now.”

CAP sighed and rubbed his forehead.

“Don't deny it.”

“I'm not,” CAP said.

“We're stuck together all the time, I can't leave you alone so you can get over it,” L.Joe said. “So I don't know what, but if there's something I can do...”

CAP was thinking about it. “I'm sorry, I'll hide it better,” he promised.

L.Joe wished there was some better solution. “Should I stop talking about it? I'm sorry if the kids bring it up all the time.”

“The kids know?” CAP looked worried.

“Not about you, I meant me. My... adventures.”

“That's fine,” CAP said dismissively. “Don't worry about it.”

“You're jealous at Niel all the time, but listening to them talking about me with other guys is fine?”

“It's not like that.” CAP scratched his neck. “Niel is different. I'm not jealous of... I'm not so good at... when I try to be close to any of you guys, it's just weird and awkward, and for some reason even more with you. Neil can climb right on top of you, and everyone just laughs, but if I did that...” he made a frustrated face.

This was difficult to believe. “You're not jealous when I'm with other guys?”

CAP shrugged. “It's not like that. I'm a little jealous, maybe, but that's not the point.”

“What's the point?”

“I want you to be happy. Apparently, this makes you happy. So that's good.”

L.Joe blinked, trying to comprehend. “So if I told you that I'm seeing the MYNAME hyungs in four days, because I want to, and it makes me happy...?”

“I don't believe you,” CAP said. “I didn't believe you last time either. Listen, you thought I was messing with you, or that I thought you were being... easy.” CAP didn't like saying the word, L.Joe could tell. “But that's not what I meant. Ah this, how do I say this... it felt like you didn't really want to do it with them, you just thought you had to. Because you thought you should want to.”

L.Joe wanted to resent that, but in the end, he hadn't gone through with it. “I didn't,” he confessed. The MYNAME hyungs had been very cool about it, and they'd gotten up to a lot of other fun things, so L.Joe figured he hadn't disappointed. CAP searched his face for the truth. “I really didn't. We did other stuff, but... you're right. I didn't really want to. So I didn't. But tomorrow... I'm really doing it.”

“Why?” CAP asked.

For so many reasons, some of which he really couldn't tell him, other that were really difficult to. So he went with the difficult one. “Because I like Lay-hyung, and I want to know how to do it, so I can be good for him.”

CAP watched him for a little bit. Then he nodded. “Lay-hyung is good for you,” he said.

L.Joe couldn't help but let out a disbelieving laugh.

“Will you listen to me if I tell you to not go to the MYNAME hyungs?”

“Why? If this is some bullshit about the magical specialness of virginity...”

CAP shook his head, annoyed. “The first time is something you carry with you for the rest of your life. No, it's not magical, but it's like your first love... you'll remember it in a different way. And it's more nervous, and more difficult. So you should make sure to make a good memory. If you really want to do it with Lay-hyung, why don't you just do it with Lay-hyung?”

“I just told you why.”

“It's not about being good or doing it right. If you really like each other, it'll be great.”

L.Joe chewed on his lip. He had no idea how CAP would react to that but, “Lay-hyung is straight.” CAP's mouth opened. “Don't!” L.Joe snapped, glaring at him. “Don't you fucking start with me!”

CAP shut up.

“And don't give me that romantic bullshit about great no matter what, that's not how it works. The first time I gave a blowjob it was bad, okay? And now, I'm fucking great at it.”

One of CAP's eyebrows was rising slowly.

“I would never have gotten to blow Lay-hyung a second time if the first time wasn't great. It's the same with this shit. I can't be some fumbling idiot, it has to be fucking fantastic, or he'll decide it's too weird and move on.”

“If he's straight, will he even do it?” CAP asked.

“I think so,” L.Joe said, nodding.

“What if he'd like being your first?”

“You're the only guy in the world who cares about that sentimental crap,” L.Joe accused him. “The only one, I swear. Are you sure you're not a girl?”

CAP calmly shook his head. “You hang out with the wrong people,” he said. “I think Lay-hyung cares about it. He seems nice.”

“Nice,” L.Joe echoed, disbelieving. “You like me. You're not denying it?” CAP shook his head. “You like me, and I'm telling you I want this guy to fuck me because I like him, and you say he's nice? You don't mind?”

“When you love someone you want them to be happy,” CAP said, slowly like L.Joe would understand better if he spoke clearly. “Lay-hyung makes you happy. I saw it. Not just the sex, but talking with him and playing the piano together, he made you happy. And that's nice, because he's not like the other guys you've been hooking up with, he's a good person, I think. Someone who would do his best to make you happy.”

L.Joe was trying to suppress the expression of disbelief that he knew was on his face. He got frustrated when Sungyeol didn't believe what he said about his own emotions, so who was he to judge how CAP's emotions worked. “Whatever. Okay. Wait. Did you just say love?”

“I love all my members,” CAP said calmly.

“That and this is different.”

“There is only one kind of love,” CAP said.

That was too weird to even begin to process. L.Joe decided to just move on. “You need to stop freaking out over me...”

“Will you misunderstand again if I offer to do it?”

“Seems like you'd have ulterior motives, doesn't it,” L.Joe said.

“If you're going to do it anyway, better you do it with someone who loves you, someone you love. Someone who cares about you the day after too.”

“The MYNAME hyungs...”

“I'm sure they're great,” CAP said dryly, “but do you really imagine they care about you, beyond having some fun together? More than I do?”

“If something goes to hell,” L.Joe said, “and you and I get weird and awkward, it threatens the team.”

“It won't be weird and awkward,” CAP promised.

“Like it isn't weird and awkward now?”

CAP sighed. “There's some time. Four days, did you say? I will stop being weird, and you will consider the offer seriously, okay? And we'll talk about it again before you go.”

That tone didn't leave L.Joe with much choice. “Fine,” he said.

That evening he called Baekhyun. Sungyeol wasn't picking up and he needed to talk to someone.

“Any more names to add to the list?” Baekhyun asked.

They shouldn't talk about this on the phone should they? “No,” L.Joe said. The list didn't include straight people, so Woohyun was out, and he wasn't going to tell anyone about CAP because what the hell was CAP anyway.

“Are you getting old?”

L.Joe laughed. “I've been busy.”

“Never stopped you before.”

“To be honest,” L.Joe said, “There's, well, there's someone. Someone I like. I don't mean I'll go monogamous and weird, don't worry about that. But I want a few more times with this person before it ends.”

“Waa, even the experts fall sometimes,” Baekhyun said.

“It's nice though,” L.Joe said. It was. It was settling with him, that he couldn't have Lay, it was turning into something that he could handle. He'd make a final effort, see if he could get Lay to fuck him, and then he'd bow out gracefully, pride intact. That was the new plan.

“Mmm,” Baekhyun said. “By the way, I did what you said.”

“What did I say?”

“I called Sungyeol. And that was nice, but now I'm worried I did too much. He's being a little weird. Could you talk to him, check that he's not... jumping ahead?”

“I told him you might want to switch Minho-hyung for him, if the two of you were compatible,” L.Joe said. “I mean, you said Minho-hyung and you weren't very compatible.”

“Hm,” Baekhyun said, as if the thought hadn't occurred to him. “That's not a terrible idea maybe, if he can handle it. I'll think about it. But if you talk to him, see if you can get him to, yknow, be a little more cool. At this rate he'll scare me off.”

L.Joe promised to try.

 

Autumn had been nice and warm, but that day it was raining. They usually fought through shooting in all kinds of weather, but this time it simply rained too much, they had to give up and go inside. Since they'd gone all the way out on the countryside for this location and therefore had to clear their schedule for the day, it was decided that they'd wait around for a while and see if the weather cleared up. The building was some kind of small recreational center with two floors, one big hall and many small rooms, even showers and a kitchen. Teen Top were given free reign of the place, but after briefly allowing them to stick their heads into some rooms the managers assigned them a room and told them to stay inside. They were used to waiting and scattered naturally all over the space; couches, chairs, tables.

CAP was holding up his end of the deal so far. Even when Niel was all over L.Joe, he stayed back the way he had before. L.Joe tried to relax, but every time he had nothing to do his brain was back to agonizing over the puzzle. MYNAME or CAP? Was he crazy for considering it? He wanted some air, so he told his members to call him if they needed him and braved the risk of being scolded, looking around. Avoiding staff so he wouldn't be sent back, he ended up on a second floor balcony overlooking the back of the house where the forest blocked the view. Even if anyone was crazy enough to go out in the rain, they couldn't see him on the balcony if he stayed near the wall, he figured, so he sat down there and listened to the rain hitting the roof. His mind refused to stop spinning so he messaged some people a photo of the rain and before too long Sungyeol called him.

"Can I talk?" Sungyeol said the moment he picked up.

"Go ahead."

"EXO aren't out among each other, right?"

"Seems that way," L.Joe said.

"Chanyeol is talking to me, and it feels weird to not be able to talk to him about Baekhyun," Sungyeol said. "They're friends, if anyone in EXO would know it should be him right?"

"Chanyeol-hyung is talking to me too," L.Joe said. "You think he's lonely?"

"It does seem lonely if his own members can't talk to each other about important things."

"We don't always either," L.Joe said, thinking about his own problems and how he couldn't bring himself to bring it up with any of the other guys. "Do you talk with your members?"

"Not all of them," Sungyeol said, "but everyone has someone they talk openly with, as far as I know."

"Do you talk to them about Baekhyun?" L.Joe asked.

Sungyeol sighed. "I can't, can I. If he's not even out... I mean, I... I was going to tell Myungsoo but then I remembered you said he can't be trusted. I trust him, he's my member, but you're probably right. There's things about him that I can't see because I care about him too much, and what if... if something happened to Baekhyunie because I talked to Myungsoo, that can't happen."

"Wow," L.Joe chuckled, "you're happy to risk my secrets but when it comes to Baekhyunie then you have to protect him?"

"Don't," Sungyeol said, sounding embarrassed.

"You've just started, don't get too far ahead," L.Joe warned.

Sungyeol was silent for a little bit, before he said, "I don't think I can control that."

"You'll scare him off. Just think about what would scare me off."

With a pained groan, Sungyeol sounded like he'd fallen over in bed or something. "This is the best worst thing ever. The worst best thing."

"Just don't latch onto him like an octopus and you'll be fine."

"Have you seen me?" Sungyeol said. "My arms and legs? I'm a born octopus."

L.Joe laughed. He got up and stretched some life into his body; his butt was cold.

"Everything seems fine though. Sometimes he looks at me like he's afraid I'm about to hug the life out of him so maybe there's that."

While Sungyeol talked L.Joe took a turn around the balcony. There was a pillar shielding him from view from the door, that was all glass, and when he came around it he realized other people were on the balcony. The noise of rain and wind must have masked their entrance.

”Shit I have to go,” he said reflexively, not willing to talk about this with other people so close nearby.

”What's happening?”

”Nothing, I'll call you later.”

"Did Baekhyun talk to you about me?"

”Later,” L.Joe said and hung up. Pocketing his phone he tried to find a spot where he could hear better.

There were two groups of people over there; a few idols that, from the heavily styled hair and exaggerated hip hop getups, were members of that rookie group that he'd heard had also been shooting nearby and been forced in by the rain. They looked like lost rabbits, shuffling around. The other group was three male staff, two that belonged to the venue and one photographer. They were talking about angles and light and weather, before the photographer shook his head in frustration and left.

The two men looked up and noticed him about at the same time as the idols did. L.Joe got some curious, polite nods and glances while the staff adressed him.

”Excuse me,” the younger of the two men said. ”The rain is really pressing us for time, these gentlemen needed the light from this direction but we're out of time. Would it be possible for you to talk to your managers about moving your shooting location closer to the tree line to make room for them?”

The idols were looking around at each other and the men like they weren't sure this conversation was necessary, and if it was, if they really necessarily had to be there for it.

”Our managers are downstairs,” L.Joe tried, as politely as he could, not sure himself why this conversation was taking place.

”We thought maybe that... you could approach them?”

So they'd talked to the managers and gotten a no already. ”I don't have any say,” he said.

”Maybe you could suddenly feel sick,” the older guy said, tall and fat, probably four times L.Joe's size. His voice was soft and friendly, but his presence alone was starting to make L.Joe feel uncomfortable. He was glad the rookies were there as wittnesses.

”We thought maybe we could reach an agreement?” the younger guy tried. His older friend turned around, which scattered the idols, who were trying to listen in, like leaves in a storm. They ended up on the other side of the balcony, much too far away for L.Joe's liking. ”I'm not, you know, unwilling to trade favors.” He looked L.Joe over expectantly.

Well, as much as L.Joe called it doing favors, he wasn't a shop, and he wasn't going to discuss this openly with random strangers. ”I don't know what kind of favors you're referring to,” he started, having a speech in mind, but was interrupted.

”I think everyone knows what kind.” The older guy looked down his nose at him like the whole thing was bad taste but necessary.

That was enough of that. L.Joe motioned to leave. ”I have to get back to my members, they're waiting for me.” But the big guy was in his path, and maybe he could squeeze between him and the wall, but that was a big maybe. He shifted from one foot to the other nervously.

”Hey, no need to get worked up,” the younger guy said, stepping in closer. He lifted a hand but L.Joe immediately avoided the touch.

”Don't touch me.”

”Hey we're hyungs here!” The older guy took another step forward, and this space was getting very small.

”I'm not touching, no touching,” the younger guy assured him, holding up his hands. ”Just, why don't you come along and we'll talk some more somewhere more private.” He glanced over at the rookies, still hiding by the other end of the balcony. ”I won't touch you! Just come...”

Please excuse me,” L.Joe said, louder, ”I have to get back to my members.” Punching the big guy would be like punching a horse. Unless he went all out he wouldn't accomplish a thing, but he couldn't just assault a person who hadn't even laid hand on him yet. His phone! He'd just call his manager- and just like that the phone slipped out of his hand. Before he knew what he was doing he'd bent down to rescue it, hoping it hadn't shattered against the stone floor, but now he was squatting with the two men looming over him and his chances were shot to hell. The big guy was already moving to take his shoulder.

”Hey!”

The two men looked over to see who had spoken, and L.Joe pushed up with all he had, slamming his shoulder into the younger guy's hip as he stood up, tipping him off balance, as if a total accident. A few steps through the space he'd made, and suddenly he was standing by the railing together with the idols, who had moved up, and the two guys had completely lost position.

”Ah excuse me, sorry,” L.Joe said, not bothering to make the accompanying fake facial expressions.

”Please don't bother our sunbaes over this, we'll talk to our managers, no problem,” a tall guy said, all arms and legs, giving the two a polite smile as if he wasn's nervous as hell. ”Why don't we go talk to them right now.” He started walking, and another handsome tall guy chatted at the two men, forcing them to come along with manners.

Left on the balcony was L.Joe and five more kids.

”Whoaaa, sunbae,” one of them said. His face was kind of interesting, all big features awkwardly set together but at the same time somehow handsome, and his voice was darker than most idols, especially his age. ”That was so cool!”

It earned him a slap on the arm by a short guy. ”Hello,” he said formally, ”I am BTS Jimin, and this is...”

”V!” the first guy exclaimed, striking a pose. Then he broke down into giggles while his friends cringed and rolled their eyes and giggled with him.

Shame, L.Joe thought. For a second there he'd been kinda sexy. There was something in his eyes, cute and vulnerable and dangerous all at once. ”And the rest of you?”

”Suga,” the shortest guy said, voice hardly above a creak, ”This is J-Hope.”

Jimin elbowed the youngest guy. A doe-eyed bow followed, along with, ”Hello, I am BTS's maknae Jungkook.” Like he was introducing himself on stage. He looked like he should be in a school uniform, not black eyeliner.

”That was so cool,” V interjected again, already having forgotten the scolding he'd received. ”Like you do martial arts, do you do martial arts?”

That was certainly the first time L.Joe had heard that. ”No,” he said. He really didn't.

”I can't belive those two ahjussis would be like that,” Jimin said thoughtfully. Worried, even. Maybe he saw problems in his own future. ”Are you okay, sunbaenim?”

”Can we call you hyung?” V asked, excited. Then he fidgeted in place a bit before continuing, against the advice of his friends' glances, ”Is it true?”

”Is what true,” L.Joe asked. He was starting to feel like these puppies were too excited and about to trample everything in their path.

”Mm, you know. That. That is, you, that you are...”

”The best at what you do?” J-Hope filled in, afraid perhaps of what would come out V's mouth. Jungkook watched him with big round eyes, too curious of the answer to be embarrassed.

”The best at being an idol?” L.Joe asked, amused.

”Ah, hyung, come on,” V said, coming closer, smiling disarmingly.

L.Joe backed up a step, but the railing of the balcony hit his back. This, this kid, everything he did was designed to be non-threatening, innocent smiles so he could work his way in. He suddenly felt even more trapped than with the two men. At least those two were assholes who knew what they were doing. He wanted to tell the kids not to touch him, but it would sound too harsh; weird. It wasn't like they had any interest in hurting him, they were just being curious. He took a deep breath and tried to steady his mind. ”What is it you think you know about me?”

”Nothing,” Jungkook said immediately.

”Nothing,” V agreed, ”that's why we're asking, right?”

”Don't worry you can trust us,” Jimin promised.

L.Joe's hands were up defensively, but despite that V came closer again. ”I have to go,” he said sharply, sliding away.

”Wait, hyung!”

A hand closed around his arm and the smell of champagne flooded his nose and he couldn't fucking breathe and he spun around, just had to get free, had to get these people away from himself, it didn't matter how, he just needed air dammit! When the pang of pain hit him, and he glanced down at his own hand in confusion, he first didn't understand what had happened. Then he looked up and saw V fade back, shock in his eyes, holding his mouth, his two friends taking defensive positions around him.

Shit shit shit shit he'd just punched an idol he'd just punched some innocent kid ”You're just like those guys!” he snapped at them, panicking, ”coming on to me, trying to scare me, what? What do you want?!”

The kids watched him silently while Jungkook helped V check if he was bleeding, but the short guy wouldn't have it. ”What the hell,” he said slowly, ”you didn't need to do that!”

”Fuck you,” L.Joe snapped.

If he hadn't been a sunbae, the grit of Suga's teeth said he would have gotten some choice words back, but instead he got ”What the fuck.”

”Stay away from me!” L.Joe ordered.

”Like we're trying to fucking molest you or whatever, we saved you didn't we!?” Suga demanded. ”Calm the fuck down, the kids are just being kids.”

Now L.Joe was starting to feel like punching them for entirely separate reasons.

The door to the balcony opened and the two tall guys came back, immediately looking concerned with the scene they found.

”He just punched Taehyung!” Jimin said, eyes burning holes in L.Joe's head.

L.Joe saw the change in their eyes as his presence shifted from respected sunbae to... what, exactly? What would his own members do if some random sunbae punched one of them? Punch back, maybe. Outnumbered and embarrassed, he fled, throwing one last glance back to catch V looking after him while his members fussed over him.

He found a bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror, despairing. The smell, the feeling, was fading at least, but the guilt for what he'd done was only growing. At the moment it had felt more justified; now as the panic gave way he understood he'd had no reason whatsoever. The kids had just been excited, they hadn't had any hint of malicious intent, too innocent to understand what they were asking. What if they told their managers? The last thing he needed after all the trouble he'd caused was a new scandal.

There were voices outside, he paused to listen because it sounded like those kids.

”I can't believe,” someone started, it felt like L.Joe had heard that sentence before.

”We have to fix this,” the leader said.

”Fix it? He punched Taehyung!” Suga protested, other voices agreeing with him.

”He's a sunbae, you did something didn't you? Who will people believe?”

”He's not gonna tell people,” J-Hope said, ”is he?”

”I'll talk to him,” V volunteered. There was a pause. Some members seemed to try to discourage him. ”No, hyung, I can do it,” V said. ”I messed up, I got punched, so I'll fix it.”

”Maybe you can get him to blow you in the process,” someone giggled, the others hushing him.

”Sure,” V said.

”That's not a bet, don't take that as a bet,” their leader commanded. ”Taehyung! No stupid shit. Just go in there and apologize.”

”I bet...”

”NO!” the rest interrupted whoever was speaking, and there was some commotion, and in the middle of it the door slammed open and V stumbled inside, half walking half pushed by his members.

L.Joe was turned towards the door listening, so now they stood there while the bathroom door slowly swung shut, looking at each other. Poor kid sent in to apologize, when he was the one wronged. It didn't seem to faze him though.

”Hi, sunbaenim,” V said, giving him a hopeful smile full of teeth.

”Hi,” L.Joe said. He felt all the remnants of aggression melt out of him at that smile. He'd gotten agitated by those men outside. This kid wasn't the enemy.

”Sorry we, um, right now I'm, I want to apologize because...”

”I'm sorry,” L.Joe said. V's lip was red and swollen. ”Shit, that's not going to look good on camera.”

”It's alright, I'm scolded for not staying still anyway,” V grinned.

L.Joe waved him forward to the mirror. V looked at it and grimaced; amused, worried. ”It doesn't, it hurts less than I thought, I've never fought, been in a fight, before.”

”I don't think it can be called a fight,” L.Joe said.

”Good because I promised to not get into fights,” V said, looking sincerely relieved. His eyes met L.Joe's in the mirror, and his face fell still.

He was full of energy and expressions but like this, face relaxed and eyes intense, he was actually quite handsome, L.Joe thought. He'd take good photos, once he learned to hold still for them. His red lips, already full but now a little swollen too, parted as he drew for breath.

”How old are you?” L.Joe asked. Not that he was going to, well, he just wanted to know.

”I'm 95,” V said.

Mhm. ”What's your real name?”

”Kim Taehyung.”

”That's nice. When's your birthday?”

”December thir...” V stopped, blanked out, bit his lip, winced.

”So not 18,” L.Joe stated. ”Lying to my face?”

”Sorry, hyung.” There was a moment of shame before he smiled his big happy hopeful smile again, like a puppy wagging its tail trying to be liked, but now he winced once more. ”Ouch.” He touched his lip.

L.Joe moved in on him. He folded instantly, hip against the sinks, allowing L.Joe to get into his space. He'd been punched but had no instinct to defend himself. Chunji would make minced meat of a kid like this, L.Joe thought briefly, before yanking him in to where their noses touched. ”I guess we're here and you're kinda handsome. Want me to suck you?”

The kid's eyes grew to little balls and some noise came out of him instead of an answer, something between a failed attempt at words and a nervous giggle.

”You wish,” L.Joe smirked. ”Come back when you've grown up.”

V shot forward, maybe sensing the window opportunity was closing, reaching L.Joe's lips with such force he took them both away from the sink, and then they were stumbling and kissing and struggling for balance in a little half circle until V's back hit the door. V wasn't just chastely pressing their lips together, his tongue, he teeth were immediately in play, trying to catch L.Joe's lips, tasting him like he was trying candy for the first time. If this was his first real kiss he was making a hell of a job of it. L.Joe escaped quickly, or he'd be tempted to stay.

”Cheeky kid!” he laughed.

V shot him a bright smile.

With a quick touch L.Joe wiped away the drop of blood that had broken out from V's damaged lip, abused again from the fumbling kiss. Maybe it could even be called a caress in apology. Then he ushered V away from the door and opened it.

Six rookies stood outside staring at him.

In a choir of happy exclamations some of them forgot themselves and started cheering for V, giggling and pushing each other. L.Joe needed to get out of there before they, like happy puppies, ran all over him and triggered whatever the hell it was that made him lash out at people like this. ”Alright, get lost.”

”Sunbae!” someone called, and V came out the door and they crowded him a little trying to get to V.

”Hey!” He tried to make space.

CAP came wandering down the corridor. One by one the kids noticed him and calmed down. V slipped out and mingled with his group quietly.

”This is how you treat a sunbae?” L.Joe demanded of them, now that they were in line. ”I know you made a bet on me, I could hear you.” They fell completely still, wary. ”I don't give a shit about that, but you discussed it out here, openly, so loud I could hear it inside? What if someone else heard you? Staff? What if I went to your manager right now and told him all of this?”

”Sorry,” V said.

”No, I don't give a fuck, that's your problem not mine,” L.Joe said. ”And kid, don't take bets like that. I do what I do because I want to. Don't let anyone push you to do anything, not even your own members – who should know better.”

Jimin was tearing up. L.Joe decided he was done and walked away. CAP joined him, walking side by side.

Hell,” L.Joe muttered.

CAP chuckled. “Those kids. You scared the shit out of them.”

“Hardly,” L.Joe said. He knew he wasn't very intimidating, maybe that was why he'd taken to swearing so much.

“When you mentioned the manager. The look on their faces.” CAP laughed again.

“You didn't have to come like some knight in fucking armor.”

“Hey, hey, that's not what I was doing,” CAP protested. “The rain stopped, the manager wanted to go fetch you, I said I'd do it.”

Oh. “Oh. Uh. Thanks.”

CAP rubbed his shoulder. “This was bound to happen, you know. Someday.”

“I got it coming?” L.Joe shrugged him off.

“No,” CAP said, sounding tired. “Why are you taking everything so personally? Shoot enough shots and eventually you miss once. That's all I meant.”

They reached Teen Top's room, and barely got the door closed before Niel bounced up. “Well? Well, did you? Who did you find him with?” he demanded of CAP. Then noticed L.Joe's dark expression. “Is something wrong?”

“BTS are...” L.Joe muttered and slumped into a chair. He hadn't even gotten any action out of it, just one kiss. Not terrible, he had to admit, but still.

“I guess not everyone can be as friendly as Teen Top,” Niel sighed dramatically. Ricky and Changjo backed him up by making what can you do-faces.

“They're just kids. We weren't terribly clever back when we started either,” CAP said. “This is why you should stay away from rookies. Back to work,” he added, waving at Chunji to get up.

Chunji sighed and eyed L.Joe. “Don't get up,” he said. “They're going to want to fix L.Joe's hair anyway.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Six – CAP

This couldn't go on. He couldn't freak out like this whenever someone grabbed him; he couldn't go around punching idols. What was going on with him anyway? Something had broken in his head, and he couldn't exactly go see a shink or anything without making headlines.

The kids were whining at Chunji to take them out for food again, having gotten a taste for it because he did it once. L.Joe told him that even if things seemed fine, he needed a word with CAP in private again. Very reluctantly, Chunji agreed.

Once they were gone and the dorm was quiet, L.Joe headed for CAP's room again. CAP was on the floor next to his bed, listning to music and doodling in a book. L.Joe sat on his bed.

“Hyung,” he said.

CAP pulled out the earplugs and looked up at him. He was drawing a complex pattern of flowers and severed body parts. No doubt there was some artsy incomprehensible reason for it too.

“I accept your offer,” L.Joe said.

CAP smiled all the time, but now his eyes widened in a smile that never got to his lips, and L.Joe had never seen him look like that. “Are you sure?” CAP asked, setting the book aside and getting up.

L.Joe fiddled with his bracelet. Not at all. “Yeah.”

“You'll really let me do it?” CAP walked over.

Right now? L.Joe stood up defensively, and CAP walked all the way into his personal space, forcing him to sit down again, and leaned over him, took his chin and tilted his head and kissed him.

CAP really knew how to kiss, and he was both tender and aggressive, taking possession of L.Joe's mouth in a way so that L.Joe didn't realize CAP had unbuttoned his clothes before he got a second's pause and looked down at himself. No time to react, because CAP was back, sucking on his lower lip and peeling his shirt off.

“This,” L.Joe said. “Mmm, maybe this is a really bad idea.” CAP tossed the shirt aside and started rolling his t-shirt up. “We're going to,” he was more or less forced to lift his arms up so CAP could pull the t-shirt over his head. “regret this.” And then he latched on to him, kissing his neck, holding on to him so hard L.Joe couldn't breathe. He tipped backwards and pulled CAP along, getting free, gasping for air. CAP worked his pants down over his hips and then pulled them off one leg at a time before getting onto the bed with him, undressing himself. L.Joe helped him get out of his shirt. CAP massaged his ass through his underwear and he bit his lip to not make embarrassing needy noises. “This is a terrible idea, we could break Teen Top, we really shouldn't...”

CAP grabbed a fistful of his hair and ground their hips together, and fuck, L.Joe kind of knew, but CAP was big. “Shut up,” CAP said.

“Hyung...”

“Do you actually want me to stop?” CAP demanded and took his arms.

A surge of panic shot through him, but not as strong as before. Just a whiff of champagne and he forced air into his lungs and concentrated on CAP, on CAP's familiar face and scent and the heat of their bodies together. That stuff was over and done with. He wasn't in any danger. CAP was the gentlest creature on Earth and everything was fine. “Kiss me,” he breathed.

Making out with CAP was pretty good. L.Joe hadn't really made out with anyone for a long time, he'd forgotten it could be this nice. Even if it should be weird – this was CAP he was kissing – it felt warm and comfortable instead. His skin hummed as if CAP's caress left happy trails over his body, soothing tired muscles. It was so nice, he almost forgot. Then his hand brushed over CAP's crotch and he felt it again. Holy shit, was he actually, would it hurt? Why had he picked someone with a cock like that to be his first?

CAP probably felt him tense up and broke the kiss. “You okay?”

“Are we doing this or what,” L.Joe asked, panting a little.

CAP smiled, and it was so familiar, the same face he made when one of the members were being stupid but he didn't mind. “Do you have...?”

Oh of course. “In my room. I'll fetch.” He scuttled over and picked the stuff up. He'd found a pack of one-time lube bottles disguised as lip balm, and condoms wrapped like candy. The latter wasn't perfect, because someone might get the idea to eat it, but he was hoping nobody would find the stuff at all. It was just an extra line of defense, in case.

When he returned, CAP was sitting on the side of the bed touching himself lazily. L.Joe slowed down. A little rough goings could be fun, but actual pain? Really not his thing. And CAP's cock was large enough that he was worried. But if he could do this, then it shouldn't be a problem with Lay right? He reached CAP and pushed the stuff into his hand.

CAP stood up and kissed him, gently, like you kissed a lover. It would be okay. CAP would never allow for him to get hurt; if anything, he'd be too careful and drive him crazy. CAP sat back, pulling L.Joe to sit on his lap, his hands cupping L.Joe's ass. Locking eyes with him, perhaps looking for signs that he was freaking out, CAP dug his fingers into the cleft of his ass, spreading him, finding the tight hard spot. L.Joe couldn't stare into CAP's eyes like this it was too unnerving, but if he turned away CAP might decide to stop. He closed his eyes instead and leaned his head back. Like he couldn't resist, CAP latched onto his neck. Hey, was he leaving marks?

CAP applied some pressure, one finger slipped inside. L.Joe had tried it himself, so it wasn't an entirely new feeling, but still very different to have someone else do it. A little weird. He shifted, CAP found the spot and he grunted. Needing a distraction he found CAP's cock and jacked them both, together. Man, with his fingers wrapped around it like this he could compare it to others more clearly. “Shit you're big.”

CAP's eyes narrowed, like he didn't like it. “I'll be careful,” he said.

“It's okay,” L.Joe said, but he maybe couldn't hide how nervous he was.

“Tell me if it hurts. We just need to go slowly.”

L.Joe nodded. CAP kissed him and switched to two fingers. Already the muscle was stretching a little, resisting. L.Joe licked CAP's teeth and tried to focus on that feeling, instead of what was going on below.

“This will be easier if you're on all four,” CAP said.

L.Joe groaned. So horribly embarrassing, with his ass in the air. But he didn't really have a choice. He got on his hands and knees and CAP's fingers returned, a little cold with the slippery lube. CAP spread his fingers a little, testing, working him carefully, and then three. This time he had to push a little harder to get in.

“Fuck,” L.Joe breathed, hanging his head.

“Is it okay?”

“Mm, yes, I just.” Scared, he was a little scared, but he'd rather die than admit it, and he was so turned on now, there was no going back.

CAP's other hand was roaming his skin, making it better. “Try to relax.”

Easy for him to say. L.Joe tried to spread his attention, focused on the feel of the sheets under his hands, CAP's warm palm against the backside of his thigh. He wanted to touch himself but he needed the support of both his arms. The feeling got a little better, he was getting used to the stretch and tug, he'd just started to enjoy it a little when CAP's fingers disappeared and he heard the wrapper of the condom.

Anticipation shot through him. God, oh god, okay. CAP was going to fuck him. It was really happening, he was going to have another guy's cock up his ass. He got one of those flash views of what he must look like right now, on his hands and knees, ass spead for CAP to take, and his insides cramped with greedy lust.

“Hurry up,” he snapped at CAP.

“Calm down,” CAP said, at his own pace as usual. His warmth returned, wrapping snugly against L.Joe's back, enveloping him. Reaching back to spread his ass, some of CAP's weight came down on him, and fuck, fuck, he fought back against it but it was as if fighting it just made it stronger. Suddenly the room was drenched in the smell, the stink of champagne and the weight over his back was unbearable, he had to get away from this heat. He dropped, but CAP followed him down, falling on top of him.

CAP grunted, surprised, but L.Joe was trapped now, and this was worse it was horrible he couldn't breathe and he could feel CAP's cock in the cleft of his ass I'll tear your ass apart he hit CAP's arm because he couldn't speak, didn't have enough breath to scream.

CAP got up off him. “Sorry, are you okay?” When he got no answer he turned L.Joe over. L.Joe didn't want him to see how distressed he was; it wasn't CAP's fault, and he'd just bash himself up over it. He sat up and wrapped his arms around CAP's shoulders and held on for life.

“Byunghun-ah,” CAP said, surprised. “Are you okay?”

L.Joe shook his head. Closed his eyes and hid his face in CAP's neck.

“What's wrong?”

He couldn't say it. But CAP quietly held on to him, arms around him, palms against his skin, and slowly, slowly, his cramping muscles relaxed and he could breathe again. He swallowed down a sniffle, enough returned to his senses to be embarrassed. “I keep remembering,” was the only thing he could force over his lips, squeezing his eyes shut.

CAP's fingers feathered his left lower rib, and the ugly, hateful scar. “This?”

L.Joe nodded into his shoulder.

“I have never in my life...” CAP said slowly. “You don't know how I felt, Byunghunie. To watch this happen to you and not be able to do anything, I've never felt so useless. I would have killed that man.”

L.Joe leaned back and looked at him. Not CAP the gentle giant. “No you wouldn't,” he said.

CAP looked pained. Closed his eyes and nodded and started over. “You don't have to do this.”

“I do. I can't freak out like this every time... I want to be able to do it with Lay-hyung. I really, really...”

“Byunghun-ah.” CAP hesitated, kissed his shoulder and gathered courage. “You never listen to me, but maybe you should stop pushing yourself?”

“What am I supposed to do,” L.Joe protested. “I'm running out of time.”

“I don't know anything about this stuff, but it sounds to me like... I mean, what happened to you was terrible, and people can be torn up over stuff like this for a long time. It's not something you solve overnight. Even if you forced yourself to have sex with me, it might not fix anything. I'm just worried that you're making it worse by pushing yourself. It hasn't been that long.”

“It's been months.”

“People can be messed up for years, for life. If you want to get better, maybe you have to give it time.”

L.Joe slid off him, pushed him away to physically get the ideas CAP brought up away from him. “Years?”

CAP nodded, his face grim.

“I don't have time for fucking years.” He felt tears bubble up at the frustration, and CAP's compassion felt like an insult. “I don't... I want...” dammit, he had to stop crying.

“Don't you think Lay-hyung would understand?”

“He's going to remember he's straight any day now,” L.Joe said, shaking his head, gathering himself. “It doesn't matter if he understands. Before he goes, before it's over, I have to...”

CAP nodded, reaching for him. “You love him. Lay.”

He let himself get pulled into another hug. He'd argued with Sungyeol, but CAP knew him too well, would see right through it. “Yeah.”

“I'm sorry.”

“It doesn't matter. I'm sorry, talking about this to you.”

“I told you,” CAP said calmly. “I think Lay-hyung is good for you. It's too bad that he's not... well, Byunghyun-ah, I think you should tell him, anyway.”

“What's the point.”

“Like you say,” CAP said. “Before it's over, before he goes, don't you want him to know? Even if he won't love you back the same way, it's a beautiful thing to be loved, and I'm sure he'd feel very priviliged to hear how you feel about him, and what you're willing to do for him.”

L.Joe suddenly wasn't sure what they were talking about. “Hyung...”

“Don't worry about it.”

“I do feel previliged.”

CAP smiled at him, genuinely, brimming with heart, and kissed him.

“But,” L.Joe added, “I don't need a knight in shining armor. I can take care of myself. If that guy needed to be killed, I would have done it. But I watch CSI. Nobody gets away with it. And then Niel would kill me for ruining his career.”

CAP chuckled.

“You're still hard.”

“It'll go away,” CAP said.

“I can...”

“You don't have to.”

L.Joe glanced down. Ah, that cock. “I want to. But um.”

“C'mere.” CAP pulled him in to sit straddling his lap. Never holding on to him too hard, he guided L.Joe closer, kissed his chest and rubbed his cock. “I never thought I'd get even this much,” he murmured, running his free hand up L.Joe's chest and petted his nipple with a look of fascination.

“Hyung, are you,” L.Joe said, trying to hold on to the thoughts while CAP shifted under him and brought their cocks together. It was a comparison he didn't feel like thinking about, so he looked at CAP's face instead. “Are you gay?”

CAP softly ground up against him. “No more talking,” he said, licked his lips and kissed him.

No more talking indeed. L.Joe sucked on his tongue, trying to give him a taste of what it would be like if he dared get on his dick, while CAP brought their cocks together and jacked them smoothly, his grip firm and steady.

His body had been jerked back and forth so much, L.Joe found himself skipping ahead to the best part. Gasping, he tried to hold back, wrapping both arms around CAP's shoulders. CAP grunted. “Already?”

“Shut up, shut up.”

“Go ahead.”

“No, no.” Not yet, he wanted to enjoy this a little more still, and he had some pride to protect dammit, he already didn't want to look down and see his own cock next to CAP's, but apparently he didn't have any say in how his body worked anymore. CAP worked him like an expert, and he buried his face in CAP's shoulder and came with a pathetic squeal that made him burn with shame down to his bones.

CAP grunted in his ear. “Let me look at you. Byunghunnie, let me look at you.” He managed to free himself from L.Joe's grip and pushed him back to look at him. L.Joe couldn't take it. He squirmed down from CAP's lap and swatted CAP's hand away and took over for him. Damn he was so large he wasn't sure... but there were other things he could do. He flicked his hair out of his eyes and leaned down and licked the head. CAP's moan was deep and dark and shook him, as CAP's fingers dug into his shoulder. Very carefully he slid down over the head, working hard to keep his teeth out of the way, and it worked but it was just too uncomfortable to do for any amount of time. Disappointed and amazed he slipped off again. Ah, this saltiness, it was his own cum smeared over CAP's cock that he tasted.

Working the tricks he could come up with, L.Joe sucked on CAP's balls and jacked him with both hands, watching drops of pre-cum get smeared over the darkening skin. Would he come a lot?

“Want to come on me?” L.Joe asked.

CAP shook his head. “I'm almost,” he groaned, “just, just, like that, uhn.” And with a sharp breath like he'd surprised himself, CAP came in thick, sticky spurts coating L.Joe's hands.

L.Joe felt it between his fingers and, when CAP's eyes opened, stuck his tongue out for a taste.

“Stop that,” CAP said.

“Why?”

CAP took his chin and looked him in the eyes. “This face is too beautiful for this bullshit. You don't have to put on a show for me. I love you, and I'm thankful that you're here with me at all.”

L.Joe smiled and snickered and shook off CAP's hand. “I thought Chunji was the pretty one.”

Already crawling out of bed, CAP paused and hesitated. Warily, he looked over. “You let these random punks you pick up come on your face?”

L.Joe shrugged. “Maybe.”

Shaking his head to himself, CAP left and returned with tissues and cleaned them both up lazily before tipping into bed next to him. L.Joe was relieved that he didn't seem to want to snuggle. Sex was one thing, but snuggling CAP, his member and leader, was a bit... weird. “Why?” CAP asked.

“Because I like it.” Okay he might have to elaborate, since it was CAP. “Because I like turning them on, and it's sexy.”

“I don't get you.”

“I don't get you either. Are you gay?”

CAP stuffed a pillow under L.Joe's head, then took the other pillow for himself. “I only have sex with people I love.”

People, L.Joe noted, not women. “When you said that you love all the members...?”

“Yes,” CAP admitted. “But they're not interested. So I look out for them and that's it.”

“Even Niel?”

“Even Niel,” CAP chuckled. Then turned to look at him. “Byunghun-ah, that time, when you tried to tell me about yourself in the bathroom. I freaked out. It changed the game, if any of the members suddenly weren't out of reach. So I said some stuff that came out too harsh.”

“It's alright,” L.Joe said. “We're past all that shit now.”

“Just wanted to say I'm sorry.”

“Apology accepted.”

This was comfortable, in a different way than sex had ever been before. CAP was almost family, after all. He closed his eyes and relaxed. A few long, languid moments passed.

A chuckle, and, “So do I pass?”

He opened one eye. “What?”

“Up to your standards? Think the MYNAME hyungs could do it better?”

“Don't be stupid,” he said, closing his eye again.

CAP moved next to him, and his hand came, exploring L.Joe's chest, drawing patterns on his skin. L.Joe opened the same eye again, watching him. CAP was looking at his own hand drawing circles around L.Joe's nipple as if it was the most interesting thing in the world.

“You're not going to be weird, are you?”

CAP chuckled. “No.” Then peered up at him. “Are you alright?”

“Do I look like I have complaints?” L.Joe demanded.

“Why do you never answer questions properly?”

What? Whatever. Fine. “I'm fine,” L.Joe muttered. It all seemed really strange and embarrassing now. Why did he freak out so much, so randomly?

“You'll be okay,” CAP said.

L.Joe wondered. His fingers played over the scar briefly, then CAP's hand caught his and CAP leaned down and kissed the scar.

“Aish, so cheesy, this hyung,” L.Joe said, feeling himself smile.

CAP smiled back happily. “Promise me you'll never do this with Niel.”

“What? Are you serious? Niel?” L.Joe didn't know how to express the outrage adequately, he felt like there wasn't enough time in the world to explain why that would never happen, and he was way too tired to even try. “That is... that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. And I talk to Lee Joon quite frequently.”

“You didn't answer that either.”

“Are you jealous of me, or of Niel?” L.Joe asked, suspecting.

CAP's eyes glittered. “Promise.”

“I promise,” L.Joe enounciated. “Even if the world ends and we're the only two people left, I promise. Aish, hyung, it's not like I would do this with the kids, and Chunji would just be terrible and awkward. It could only ever be you.”

CAP kissed his forehead. L.Joe cursed and wiped it away. Why did people do that? It make him feel like a little kid, which was really, really out of place.

“Are you happy?” CAP asked.

“What kind of question is that?”

“Just a question. Answer it.”

L.Joe looked into CAP's gleaming eyes. Fine. “Yes, I'm happy. No, I wouldn't have been happy if I went to the MYNAME hyungs.” How could this hyung be so simple-minded? It was fascinating, like a car crash. Who would believe him, anyway, who would believe someone who said 'I'm happy' just like that? “Are you happy?”

“Yup,” CAP said. And L.Joe noted that he actually believed that.

 

When Chunji and the kids came back, L.Joe was back in his room, tapping his phone, half asleep. Chunji came in while Changjo was in the bathrom.

“How did it go?” he asked, coming over to sit next to him.

“Mm,” L.Joe said neutrally. “Did you guys have fun?”

“Great food,” Chunji stated. “How did it go?”

“Good, I think. I'm not entirely sure, actually, but I think it's okay.”

“So what did he say?”

What had CAP actually said? L.Joe was still trying to comprehend. It turned out that the simplest man L.Joe had ever met was actually uncomparably complicated. It also didn't help that he barely said anything, so half of what L.Joe was thinking was just guesses. “He said he loves me, but he also said he loves all of us. And he said he was jealous at Niel for being allowed to touch me, not for anything else.”

“I don't get it,” Chunji said.

“Neither do I,” L.Joe agreed. “You talk to him if you want, he didn't seem shy about it. But for now, he's promised to stop punishing Niel as long as he has permission to touch me when we're not in public and the kids aren't directly nearby, and he's said he's not going to be weird and jealous of any of the guys I hook up with...”

“Wait, wait, he has permission to touch you?” Chunji looked confounded. “Is he gay or not?”

“He's something,” L.Joe said, shaking his head. “Look, honestly, I have no idea. But um. We.”

“You did not!” Chunji wailed.

Changjo stuck his head in. “Did what?”

“Nothing,” L.Joe said.

“L.Joe found out who the other member of EXO is,” Chunji said. “He's saying you and I should switch rooms again. You're back with Ricky.”

Changjo looked vaguely hurt. “I like this room.”

He did, L.Joe knew, and poor Changjo was being kicked this way and that because L.Joe was playing with fire and screwing his hyungs in secret. He felt guilty. “I can switch,” L.Joe offered. “I'll change with Ricky, so you stay here.”

“Okay,” Changjo said, seeming a little happier, but still confused. He left again.

“If you're going to be screwing CAP, it's better I room with you,” Chunji explained quietly.

“I'm not going to be screwing CAP,” L.Joe protested. “I said he could touch me, not...”

“Yeah, we'll see how long you can hold out,” Chunji said.

L.Joe rolled his eyes. No point in arguing, Chunji was stubborn like a donkey. “You're not upset, right? I know I said we shouldn't do it anymore because it might mess up the team, and then I...”

“It's more complicated than that, I know,” Chunji said dismissively. “But you really think CAP-hyung's going to be alright? I guess it's true he's never shown being jealous of your hook-ups, but on the other hand, I never noticed you being weird over me either.”

That was true, of course. “I don't know, but what can I do? He insists that this is how it should be.”

“We should stop talking about your conquests in front of him,” Chunji decided.

“What 'we',” L.Joe said. “I never talk about anyone with anyone, it's always you guys who bring it up, and talk behind my back. And don't call it 'conquests'.”

“Maybe you should stop having conquests, so we'd run out of things to talk about.”

“Yeah,” L.Joe said. “Which one seems more likely, that I'll stop, or that Niel'll stop talking about it?”

“Oh god,” Chunji said, digging his hands into his hair. “That's an impossible question! That's the hardest question I've ever been asked! My head will explode! What do I do?”

L.Joe glared at him and lifted his arm, and he ran off, laughing. L.Joe heard him kick Ricky out of the room, and then he came back and helped L.Joe move. CAP sat in the couch and watched them go back and forth. L.Joe looked over his shoulder and saw CAP eyeing his ass. Well. His life certainly never got boring.

 

Three days later CAP caught him in the bathroom while the others were asleep.

“Just because I had sex with you once,” L.Joe warned him.

CAP pouted like a child. “You said I could touch you when the kids weren't around.”

“Touch is one thing,” L.Joe said.

CAP kissed him.

Well, dammit.

 

He called Sungyeol.

“I am freaking out,” Sungyeol greeted him.

“Me too,” L.Joe said. “You first.”

“Baekhyun is too good. I'm too happy. It's too great! I'm freaking out. Something will go wrong, right now, probably already has. He'll find the love of his life, his plane will crash, a fan will kidnap him. EXO fans are scary, let me tell you.”

“I'll not argue that,” L.Joe said. “What's happened?”

“He said you told him to switch to me instead of Minho-sshi.”

“And?”

“And,” Sungyeol said, “he did. This is crazy!”

“Did you...?”

“YES!” Sungyeol exclaimed. Then started laughing. L.Joe heard someone say something in the distance. “Sorry,” Sungyeol told that person, then came back to the phone. “I'm being too loud, I have to... ah, what was your freak-out about?”

“Nevermind.”

“No, no, tell me. I'll go crazy if I'm left to roll around in my own happiness. You heard me go on about everything that can go wrong, I've already killed him several times in my head. So tell me.”

L.Joe tried to formulate it all. “Everyone thinks I blew BTS's V, and he's underage,” he started. “I had sex with CAP-hyung. And I have to do something about Lay-hyung before I go crazy.”

“What, wait, what. BTS's V, isn't that that weird kid with the weird voice?”

“Very cute, very sexy,” L.Joe said.

“Weren't you supposed to stay away from rookies?”

“Too cute, too sexy,” L.Joe laughed.

“Aish,” Sungyeol said, whatever that meant. “Did you just say CAP-hyung?”

“I did,” L.Joe said. “I, um, I wanted practice. Before Lay-hyung. And I haven't done it before. I lied about MYNAME, I never did it when them.”

“What... isn't that going to make a mess?”

“I don't think so. I hope not. It doesn't seem to, so far.”

“Your life is crazy,” Sungyeol said. “I envy you sometimes, but not right now.”

“You should,” L.Joe said. “Because I'm going to get fucked by Lay-hyung. I have to try to make it happen. So no matter what else, you should be very, very jealous.”

“I have my own EXO member,” Sungyeol said, and laughed. “We EXO fans are crazy.”

“We are,” L.Joe agreed, smiling.

 

Two days later, L.Joe was whining at Ricky for leaving his plate in the living room, and CAP intervened and allowed a relieved Ricky to escape.

“Hyung, I-” L.Joe started.

“EXO-M is back,” CAP said.

“What?” How did CAP even know that?

“It's time. You've been stingy, and the BTS thing didn't exactly improve your mood.”

He felt his stomach knot up. No, not yet, just...

“It's time,” CAP said again.

“I'm not ready, I don't know what... I don't even know if I want to.”

CAP shot him a disbelieving look and headed back into his room.

“What's time?” Niel asked.

“You have been stingy,” Chunji agreed.

“What's time?”

“I'm not stingy,” L.Joe muttered, but knew they were right. “Alright, fine.”

“What's time?”

“Oh?” Changjo came in. “You're going to see EXO?”

“What's time?”

“Please stop,” Chunji told Niel.

“I'll call Baekhyun and check,” L.Joe told Changjo.

“Good luck, hyung,” Changjo said.

Niel followed L.Joe into his room. “What's time?”

 

 

Chapter Text

The place was dark. L.Joe stuck the key in the lock, half expecting it not to turn, but it did. With an almost soundless click, the door jumped open half a centimeter. He pulled it open and stuck his head in. No one there. Looked around the staircase again, still no one there. He entered.

It was a tiny place, a single room, the only other door than the front leading into a bathroom that L.Joe barely fit into. Anyone larger than him would have trouble getting into the shower. There were barely any traces of someone living here; a little pink bag, two fashion magazines, and a hat and coat on the coat rack. The trash can was empty, the blinds were pulled, the pallet with a pile of fresh sheets sat in a corner. L.Joe rolled it out and got it prepared, fluffed the pillows and checked the blinds but they were flawless, you'd need x-ray vision to see into the place. Picked out the items from his pocket and hid them under the pillow. Then stared at the pillow and wiped his palms on his jeans. Everything was ready. All or nothing.

Kai had fixed the place. L.Joe didn't know, didn't care, whose it was or why Kai had the only key. Kai was going to get Lay over there. L.Joe didn't know how he was going to do that either, but Kai had promised to get it to work. He seemed to think this was an excellent idea. Considering how Baekhyun had reacted to the news the last time, L.Joe had decided not to tell him anything.

So Lay would arrive, but L.Joe didn't know under what pretense. He'd have to improvise. He'd brought some stuff, and the laptop, because he wasn't sure when Lay might show up, so he could watch movies while waiting, or he'd go crazy staring at the walls. He booted it up and looked around for his headphones; he'd unpacked his bag all over the place...

The doorbell rang. He stared at the door for a second, blanking out, before setting the laptop aside and going over, puzzled at how calm he felt. Checked, and yeah, it was Lay standing outside, a little impatient, looking around casually. Deep breath. L.Joe opened the door.

Lay's eyes widened with surprise. His lips parted as if for an exclamation, but no sound came out.

“Hi,” L.Joe said. “Come in.” Like this was his place, and sexy cute dancer idols came around all the time.

“Hi.” Lay entered, looking around curiously, before turning back to L.Joe. A brief bow, and then that look, the passive, slightly guarded one, waiting for cues.

“Um, surprise?” L.Joe said, walking past him further into the room.

Lay took a breath, like making a decision. “Anything it is, I will help you with it,” he promised.

“What?”

“You can trust me.” Lay walked up and patted his shoulder a little awkwardly.

L.Joe couldn't trust himself. Just being this close, just from that friendly touch, his body was rearing to go. “I'm not sure what Kai said to you,” he said.

“He said there was someone who needed my help, a friend.”

Of course that got Lay rushing over. L.Joe hesitated. Why hadn't Kai just told him what he was going to tell Lay, so L.Joe got a chance to come up with some way to handle it? He looked around. “Have you eaten?” he asked.

Lay thought about it. What was there to think about? “No,” he said. “Do you want to...”

“I have some food. I brought some food. In case...” L.Joe wasn't sure where that sentence was going. He gestured to the pallet and found a little table to place over it, so they could sit there and eat. Stacked up what he'd brought.

Lay started helping him putting things in place, opening packages, but then started studying the items like there was something about them. “This is Chinese,” he said finally, holding out a packet.

“Oh?” L.Joe said, like it surprised him.

“I eat this all the time.” Lay looked at it again. Frowned, and glanced up at L.Joe, suspicion growing. “Did you buy all this for me?”

L.Joe shook his head with his best innocent look. “I just thought I'd get hungry.”

“I see.” What, did he actually believe that? “Why are you here?”

Why indeed. “I needed some peace and quiet to compose,” he decided on. “I told Baekhyun-hyung and Kai about it and Kai said I could borrow this place.”

Lay nodded slowly. “You want to be alone?”

“No, no just to get away from the members.” He didn't want Lay to think he should leave.

L.Joe wasn't normally like this, but he felt like each tiny expression on Lay's face seemed to convey a thought passing through Lay's mind. Lay went from frustration to consideration to concern to friendly attention. He made a polite inquiry about how Teen Top was doing and they chatted a little while eating, joking and laughing, but most of the time was spent in silence. Silence felt okay, with Lay. Comfortable.

Once they'd finished the food, and put it away, L.Joe was thinking hard on how to progress.

“The song we played, at the hotel. Did you finish it?” Lay asked suddenly.

It had been a long abandoned project. L.Joe had poked at it a little since then, but not found the right feeling. He'd written it back when he'd been struggling with his emotions for Chunji, before he'd acted on them, and the person he'd been then felt so far away and difficult to understand. He shook his head. “I can't find the right feeling,” he said.

“Maybe I can help? Do you have it here?” Lay gestured to the laptop.

Maybe he could. L.Joe woke the laptop to life and found the tracks and played some of it. Lay hummed along, nodding his head. He seemed to not be able to be still when listening to music. L.Joe watched him out of the corner of his eye, wanting to caress his neck and feel the movements, feel the beat of the song through Lay's body.

“It's a, what did I say...”

“A prayer,” L.Joe remembered.

“Mm.” Lay nodded. “A prayer needs words, don't you think?”

“I'm not good at writing lyrics,” L.Joe said.

Lay reached over and started the music, listened, and turned it back and sang. Just two lines, but it flowed beautifully, in Chinese. After he stopped he was still listening, concentrating, but L.Joe couldn't stay quiet.

“Wha, that was good.”

Lay smiled with humble pride.

Agh that dimple. “What does it mean?” L.Joe asked.

Every day, no, every time you break my heart, I'm grateful,” Lay said, “Every time you make me cry, I'm grateful.”

Their eyes met. The moment was so intense, L.Joe lost his breath. He couldn't take it. “Ah, that's great,” he said. “You can even write lyrics, that's awesome.”

“Lyrics aren't that difficult,” Lay said. “You just listen to what your heart says.”

So cheesy. L.Joe laughed.

“Is it funny?” Lay asked.

“I'm not very good at listening to my heart,” L.Joe admitted. His smile died. “I think... I'd forgotten that I had one.” That was too close, too intimate to share. He couldn't do this, muddle the line, he was here for a reason and he had to stick to it. He cleared his throat and shifted closer to Lay, leaning into his space slightly. “Sing some more,” he said, trying to sound sexy. Almost dared to put his hand on Lay's thigh but decided against it at the last moment.

Lay thought about that. Took a breath, but let it out again in a I can't believe this, although what he couldn't believe, L.Joe didn't know. Then sang it again, the same two lines, and a new one. Translated it without L.Joe having to ask. “Every time you break my heart, I'm grateful. Every time you make me cry, I'm grateful. Every time you ask I will say yes.

L.Joe put his hand on Lay's thigh, pretending to lean over to stop the music. When he sat back, Lay's eyes had changed into something L.Joe couldn't read. He'd hoped for Lay to get interested in his body, being this close, but he'd provoked something else.

“L.Joe,” Lay said. “Why are you here?”

“Because I needed to get away from the members.”

Lay blinked patiently. “Okay. Why am I here?”

L.Joe tried to come up with something.

“Don't lie.” Lay took his hand from his thigh. It curled in on its own, savoring the memory of the touch, while L.Joe resisted the urge to put it somewhere else. “I said too much mystery with you,” Lay said. “No more. No more lying. You, Baekhyun, I won't do something terrible, believe in me. I want to help.” He was stumbling over the words, getting stuck, finding other words. L.Joe was frenetically trying to think of some way to do this, because this wasn't how he wanted it to go.

In the end, he just leaned into Lay's space again, hooking a finger in Lay's shirt. “If you want to help me, you can let me help you with something,” he said with a playful smile, looking into Lay's beautiful eyes.

Anger flashed through. L.Joe didn't think Lay got angry easily, not really, but this was so strong, he instinctively leaned away. Lay took his hand and pushed it off. “No more games,” he said, shifting his whole body away from L.Joe. “Truth. Or I leave.”

L.Joe wanted to kiss him and make him feel better. But he was caught, Lay wasn't going to play along, he'd already lost. No point in keeping secrets then. “I asked Kai to send you over,” he said.

“And you asked Kai what food I like,” Lay said.

L.Joe nodded. It had been pretty obvious, hadn't it. “Yeah.”

“Because you want to blow me again?”

“Because I want you to fuck me.” Oh god. It was fine saying it, but once it was said, those needles in his stomach was back, he couldn't breathe. Fuck he couldn't do this. He turned away and got up and took a few steps but there was nowhere to go, he couldn't run out like this, he couldn't run at all because there wasn't any air in his lungs. “I'm sorry, it was stupid,” he told the wall, squeezing his eyes shut.

Lay quietly got up too and hovered near him. “I'm flattered,” he said slowly.

“Don't!” L.Joe spun around. No more compassion, it would make him... “You're straight, I get it. It's fine. It's just sex.”

“It's not just,” Lay said.

“It doesn't matter. You obviously don't want to so,” L.Joe gestured pointlessly. So Lay should leave before it got more awkward, except L.Joe didn't want him to leave.

“It's not that I don't want to,” Lay said. “You're... you're a very good person, I...”

“I don't think I need any more explanation than 'I'm straight'. You don't have to make excuses. Just...” He couldn't say it. Just go. The words refused to come out. “I don't want pity. I'll find someone else.”

He saw Lay recoil in the corner of his eye. Saw him struggle with finding words. Just go, he thought. Stop making this worse, just leave already.

Lay licked his lips. “What does 'straight' mean?” he asked. “Not 'tall' because I,” he held his hand up to simulate his own height and smiled a little ironically.

Answering that felt like climbing a mountain but somehow L.Joe found the words. “Um, no, um, it's, you like girls, right, so that's why. I'm not straight, because I like guys.”

Lay blanked out again, processing that. L.Joe tried to wait patiently. Then suddenly Lay's eyes were suspiciously wet. He didn't cover his face, didn't turn away, but looked at him like he was trying, really, really, trying, to understand, while blinking away tears.

L.Joe had no idea what to do. It was really, really hard not to cry too, seeing Lay like this. It was heartbreaking. He took a step in his direction and reached out to pat Lay's shoulder, and remembered Lay didn't like being touched. His hand hovered miserably in the air. “Don't cry,” he said, feeling tears gather up in his eyes, blinking them away.

“I'm sorry,” Lay said, of course he was apologizing, managing to control himself at least partially. “Excuse me.” He wiped his eyes.

“Why are you crying,” L.Joe asked, feeling as confused as Lay looked.

Lay looked at him like nothing in his world made any sense. “Why would I do things with you if I liked girls?” he asked, somehow desperately, like the world was being fucking crazy and he was just trying to hold on, just trying to survive.

L.Joe lost his breath. “Some guys,” he said automatically, “some guys don't mind. It's just a blowjob, yeah?”

Lay sought his face. “Is that what you think? You thought I was like that?”

Those needles in L.Joe's stomach was back. “Yeah.”

Lay swallowed and nodded. His world was being slowly patched together. He closed his eyes and shook his head. “I'm not,” he said. Eyes opening again, finding L.Joe's, hesitant but with a new gleam.

L.Joe took a shaky breath. It felt like the first one in minutes; hours.

“You thought I didn't want you,” Lay said still looking at him like he was trying to find the answers to the universe in his face, “at the hotel, and at the party. You did it anyway.”

“It's just sex,” L.Joe said, and shrugged, but he knew he couldn't sell it. Lay's emotions were too strong, L.Joe couldn't keep up the casual, flippant tone, but was being dragged along. It was all he could do to hold back the raw emotion; to not cry.

Lay shook his head. Looked like he wanted to say something, but instead he started crying again, sniffiing desperately, this time actually turning away and wiping his eyes.

“I got you out here because I wanted more,” L.Joe said. “Usually I just blow people because I like doing it, but with you... why... why didn't you...?” If Lay wasn't straight, then, “Why wouldn't you do it? Now, I mean. Why didn't you just,” because he didn't want him, that was the only answer, except Lay had explicitly said it's not that I don't want to.

“Because,” Lay said, taking a shaky breath, “it's just sex for you.”

Implying, maybe, possibly, that it wasn't, for him. L.Joe's mouth twisted into a weird smile, but he couldn't help it. Short of the day he was supposed to get definitive answer if he was going to be in Teen Top or not, it was the most terrifying moment of his life. “It's not,” he breathed.

Lay shook his head.

“It's not. I thought you were straight, and I still chased after you. If it was just sex, I could have just, there's always other guys.”

“You like me?” Lay had stopped crying, was just staring at him. Maybe needed a clear statement, to overcome the language barrier.

“I like you,” L.Joe said. He'd thought it'd be hard, but it was the easiest thing he'd ever said.

A smile crept over Lay's lips. “If you knew, at the hotel, that I was not,” he tried to remember the word.

“I would have asked you to stay,” L.Joe said, thinking back. “Your members might not have noticed. You could have gone and pretended to sleep in your room and come back to me.”

Lay smiled, wide and bright, the remaining tears in his eyes sparkling. Then a brief shadow. “I wanted to,” he said. “Ah, I really... but you, you wouldn't touch me after.”

He'd been so worried about scaring Lay off. “You said you don't like being touched by guys,” L.Joe said.

Lay smiled like it was ridiculous, slowly hovering closer. “Guys, yes.”

“I'm a guy,” L.Joe pointed out.

Lay looked surprised, then reconsidered. “Ah, no. Hm. People.”

“I'm not a person?”

“Not like that. Other people.” Lay frowned, frustrated. “People I'm not... eyy, how could I have sex with someone and not like being touched by them? It's not possible. Can you have sex without touching?” Like a real question, like he was suddenly really considering it.

Shit. All the missed opportunities. L.Joe met Lay halfway, wanting to make up for lost time, but when they were actually there, in each other's space, they both turned shy.

Lay reached out, brushing L.Joe's hand before carefully linking their fingers together. “I like you,” he said. A statement. A fact beyond questioning. L.Joe smiled; he was smiling like a crazy person, but he was, so it made sense. Crazy was fine.

Every time you break my heart, I'm grateful. Every time you make me cry, I'm grateful. Every time you ask, I'll say yes.

“Can I...”

“Yes,” L.Joe said.

Lay kissed him.

L.Joe's eyes fell shut. He moaned unwillingly into the kiss, his knees wanting to give in, holding on to Lay's hands to stay up. Lay kissed just for the kissing, exploring his mouth, completely lost in the moment. His world had been reduced to L.Joe, and L.Joe's lips and teeth and tongue specifically, and he didn't seem to have any attention left to spare on anything else. So it was up to L.Joe to undress them. He fumbled open the buttons on Lay's shirt and tugged him out of it. Lay still didn't seem to pay any attention to it, was completely absorbed. When L.Joe broke the kiss to pull his own shirt over his head, Lay grunted in protest, eyes opening briefly to find out why L.Joe had gone away.

“This, this,” L.Joe said, pulling up Lay's t-shirt. Lay looked down at himself like he didn't understand what was going on. L.Joe finally got him out of it. Yesss. All that pretty, smooth skin. He let Lay latch onto his mouth again, while he ran his hands over Lay's waist. The way Lay lost himself in kissing, the way he seemed intent on tasting every nook and cranny of L.Joe's mouth, was very sexy, and sent waves of pleasure all the way down to L.Joe's toes, but L.Joe wanted more, wanted everything. He massaged Lay's crotch through his pants, feeling the fabric get strained, and Lay hummed happily into the kiss and ground his hips.

That, that was what L.Joe wanted. He got their pants open and enjoyed the feeling of peeling Lay's tight jeans down over his hips and thighs, while Lay dug his hands into his hair. L.Joe kissed his hard-on through his underwear before pushing it down too. Mmm, yes.

“L.Joe, L.Joe,” Lay said, dropping down to kneel with him.

“Byunghun,” L.Joe said, because it felt weird for Lay to not use his real name.

Lay blinked, before understanding eventually hit. “Byunghun-ah,” he said, and felt special and intimate the way he said it, slightly accented. “I will do it. You have already.”

“I like doing it,” L.Joe said, biting back a moan as Lay's hand found his fly.

“You will like this too,” Lay said, smiling a little, pulling at his pants.

L.Joe kicked his pants off. There was of course a compromise. He pulled Lay along down on the pallet and kissed his beautiful dimple and wriggled around under him to get in position. He'd barely turned around before he felt warm, slick wetness envelop his throbbing erection, and glanced down to see Lay sliding onto him. Oh fuck. He bit his lip, taking a new breath, trying to calm down a little. Lay could go at it a long time, how the fuck was he going to last. He looked back up at Lay's cock dangling over him, asking for attention. He had to last, they had to come together. Which meant he better get to work. He wrapped his hand around Lay's swelling hardness and sucked him in, and felt his body ripple as Lay moaned around his cock. Lay's thighs surrounded him, he held on just to feel the shape, the soft skin and steady muscle, but soon he was holding on for life, desperately trying to keep in place. He knew Lay could last for forever, he had to try to... he just had to... think of

Fuck, “Fuck,” fuck, he pushed at Lay's stomach trying to get him away, but Lay was apparently determined to embarrass him. “Slow down, I'm going to...!”

Lay moaned, a happy sound, sending velvet pleasure through L.Joe's body, and he came bucking up into Lay's mouth, cursing, mind going blank. When he came back a few seconds later, Lay had nuzzled in next to him, and was nipping at his ear, caressing his thighs and lower stomach.

“Fuck,” L.Joe sighed.

“Byunghun-ah,” Lay whispered in his ear.

L.Joe rubbed his face. He'd just come, yet Lay's lazy touching made his skin tingle. Ack, Lay, hadn't come, L.Joe had just stopped. He turned to look at Lay, and Lay was watching him with sparkling eyes.

Mine, Lay's eyes said.

L.Joe wanted to agree. Yours, yours, yours. But it was too embarrasing to say. Instead he glanced down at Lay's crotch, the cute patch of black hair, and Lay's hard-on still waiting patiently.

“You already,” Lay said. Thought back. “Two more.”

“Is it a competition?” L.Joe joked.

Lay shook his head, a tint of sadness came into his expression. “I wanted to, do it too. But you were so...” he frowned, “you said you didn't want me to.”

L.Joe closed his eyes and buried his face in Lay's shoulder. He'd assumed. He'd been so afraid of getting carried away, he'd assumed Lay was straight to protect himself, but he'd only managed to hurt them both.

“I'm sorry,” Lay said.

“Sorry?” L.Joe was the one who was sorry.

“I should have said,” Lay said, nodding in agreement with himself. “What was in my heart.”

L.Joe chuckled into his shoulder. This cheesy hyung. “Me too,” he said then.

“You thought I liked girls. You were very brave to do what you did.”

L.Joe wasn't sure Lay knew exactly what he had done, or tried to do. Lay might think L.Joe called him out to confess to him, which was pretty much as wrong as he could be. “Hyung,” he said, feeling his body slowly heat up again, excited by the closeness, by the knowledge of Lay's cock ready and waiting. “What we talked about before. Do you want to do it?” He kissed Lay's shoulder, breathing in his scent.

Yours yours yours.

“Mm,” Lay said, “isn't it, don't we need...?”

L.Joe rolled over and dug the supplies out from under the pillow. No need to hide them now. Lay laughed with surprised delight. “Byunghun-ah comes prepared,” he said, amused.

“But I want to, first,” L.Joe set the items aside and gestured at him. Leaned over him and kissed his chest, petting his hip.

“Ey, why.”

“You don't like it?” L.Joe asked, knowing it to be untrue, but wondering why Lay insisted on saying no.

“You already do so much.”

“I like doing it.” He did. His mouth was watering, thinking about it. He kissed his way down Lay's chest.

“Nobody likes doing it,” Lay said.

“Ya, you don't believe me?” L.Joe sat up, slapping Lay's side. “I said I like it, then I like it.”

Lay laughed, shielding himself.

“Am I a child? If I say I want to do it, I want to do it.”

“Yes, yes,” Lay said, still laughing happily.

“Do you hate it?”

“Of course not. Absolutely not. Byunghun-ah is the best.”

“Then shut up.” L.Joe slid down in between Lay's legs and kissed the base of his cock and settled in. Made camp, because Lay would last forever. His size, his shape already felt familiar, felt right and perfect and fit so well into his hand, into his mouth. He sucked and kissed and worked him carefully, meticulously, determined to make this his best blowjob ever, and Lay started moaning and twitching under him, whispering his name.

Hearing his name like that turned L.Joe on so badly. He was getting hard again, rolling his hips against the pallet to the same pace as he was sucking Lay. Lay cursed in Chinese, the first sign.

Why had he been worried about the first time? L.Joe glanced up through his lashes at Lay, who had his head tipped all the way back, his abs working hard to hold still. Long, beautiful neck. Strong, sexy abs. Why had he thought about practice and technique and other stupid things. Damned it but CAP was right, it didn't matter. He wanted the first time to be with Lay. Wished that, dozens of years from now, when looking back at this time of his life, he could think of Lay as his first. He let go of Lay and bit his lip and was just about to ask Lay to fuck him, hoping, wishing to every higher power there could possibly be that he would be able to go through with it, when Lay suddenly sat up and pushed something into his hand.

L.Joe stared dumbly at the little fake lip balm bottle. Eyes locked on him, breathing heavily, Lay laid back down and spread his legs.

Oh holy fucking shit. Lightning raced through him, Okay. Okay, he could do that. Lay would be his first. He took a deep breath and licked the head of Lay's cock into his mouth and popped the bottle open.

At the first touch from his slicked up finger, Lay moaned and spread his legs wider. L.Joe worked the one finger in, trying to keep up the blowjob at the same time, it was trickier than he'd thought. Two fingers. He could tell from Lay's breathing that he really liked it. His hips started moving, and L.Joe had to let go of his cock to work him, nudging his fingertips against that soft spot that made Lay make those sexy, sexy noises. Lay was pushing against the pallet, more or less fucking himself on L.Joe's fingers.

“Is it, should I,” L.Joe said, gently trying to pry another finger in there.

Lay's eyes opened, glazed over with pleasure. “Mm. You,” he said, reaching out for L.Joe. “I want you.” There was something extremely vulnerable in Lay. He wasn't scared exactly, rather, tethering on some kind of brink, wanting it too much. “Carefully,” he whispered, licking his lips nervously.

L.Joe leaned into his arms, remembering things he'd read and stuffed a pillow under Lay's hips. Lay's hands were trying to get a hold of him, pull him down. L.Joe fumbled the condom on and poured the last of the lube on his own aching hard-on, all of it to be sure, and got in position. Lay gave a tiny, measured nod. Again, looking so vulnerable, it made L.Joe feel like he was holding Lay's life in his hands.

“Carefully,” Lay said again, voice not quite steady.

When the head slid in, Lay's eyeslids fluttered shut. He groaned, his hips jerking of their own. L.Joe waited for a spell for him to settle down again before pushing in further.

“Ah, Byunghun-ah,” Lay whined. “Slow, slow, ah, please.”

L.Joe leaned over him. Finally Lay's hands found what they wanted, and pulled him down into a kiss. “Mmm,” L.Joe said into Lay's lips, feeling himself go deeper and deeper into Lay's tight, warm embrace, until he was all the way in.

“Fuck me,” Lay whispered. “Byunghun-ah, I want... but you have to, you have to, slowly.”

Fuck yeah, but Lay was so tight. L.Joe thrust very slowly a few times, Lay's insides shuddering around him, feeling Lay loosen up a little, enough that he could move. Lay was so responsive, and ready to go along with anything L.Joe did. When L.Joe went slow, Lay undulated under him like each thrust was just perfect, absolutely delicious, and when he picked up the pace, Lay braced against the floor and met him hungrily. The way Lay rolled his hips on stage didn't just carry promise, but fully followed through. L.Joe would never be able to see him perform again, knowing what his hips could do.

Dammit L.Joe had already come once, and he was closing in on the second time fast, and Lay had yet to, but seemed to be able to go forever still. “Touch yourself,” L.Joe said, “I want to see it.”

Lay moaned like the words themselves were stroking him, and took his own cock in his hand, jacking himself slowly at first, then more and more desperately, the Chinese pleading didn't sound like words anymore, just breathless, senseless noises.

“Hyung,” L.Joe panted, “hyung, I, I can't, I'm-” Lay's head was digging into the pallet, exposing his long neck, muscles straining. It beckoned L.Joe in, he couldn't resist but leaned over Lay, let his teeth scrape his neck slightly and sucked on his hot skin.

Lay's other hand dug into L.Joe's hair, and Lay cried out and convulsed under him, coming between their bodies. L.Joe felt the warm drops hit his skin, digging his fingers into the sheets as Lay's insides cramped around his cock. “Mmmm,” Lay moaned, “Byunghun-ah, ahhh, you,” random words mixed with Chinese exclamations, shuddering, fingers in L.Joe's hair twitching with each of L.Joe's thrusts.

Suddenly grabbing L.Joe's hair tightly, Lay pulled his head in close and whispered something in his ear.

“What,” L.Joe managed to say, so close to coming now he wasn't sure he could understand even if it was Korean.

“In me,” Lay whispered. “Do it.” And kissed him.

Lay's body still shook with each thrust like it hurt, and Lay moaned into the kiss, ovensensitive and sore, both their mixing sweat giving their kiss a salty taste. He'd held out, L.Joe thought, too tired to be proud, just relieved, relieved that Lay seemed happy, finally allowed himself to feel it, really take it in, Lay's insides massaging him, that unbelievable heat hugging him perfectly, Lay's suffering noises. All the pressure that had built up exploded in him, and he slammed home one last time before he blacked out.

Lay lifted L.Joe's arm, and light stung his eyes. “Mm?”

“Byunghun-ah,” Lay said, an amused smile on his lips. “Are you alive?”

He was on his back, his arm must have been over his eyes. He wasn't sure how he'd gotten there. Last thing he remembered... “Ah!” He sat up and almost collided with Lay.

Lay snickered. “Do you always pass out when you have sex?”

“I don't know,” L.Joe admitted. “That was, it was the first time, that I did that.”

A new emotion in Lay's face. Wonder? Not quite. Lay kissed him gently. “I'm very happy,” he said, as if that wasn't clear already.

“Do you want to shower?” L.Joe asked. Had he already? How long had L.Joe been out? From the way his body ached, not very long.

Lay tilted his head to the side. “When... Can we stay here?”

“How long?” Lay nodded; that's what he meant. “I have schedule tomorrow,” L.Joe said.

“Me too,” Lay said, but was sparkling happily. “Then here, tonight...?”

“Yeah,” L.Joe nodded, feeling a little shy. He'd never slept together with someone, only with his members but that was very different.

They showered. The shower was so tiny they had to enter one at a time, and there was barely space enough for them both in there, their bodies had to press together and they had to help each other wash because they couldn't reach. There was only one towel too, that they had to share, which meant they were still a bit damp when they finished. L.Joe got his clothes back on, Lay put on pants and seemed to consider himself done. Then he looked at the pallet as if it was on fire.

“What should we do?” he exclaimed, with excellently played shock. “There's only one! Where will we sleep?”

L.Joe snickered. “We'll make a scandal!”

“Oh my!” Lay glanced at him, aghast, eyes big round circles.

L.Joe started laughing. “Who taught you to say that! Who!”

Lay just smiled and gestured at the floor next to the pallet. “Will you sleep on the floor?”

“I'm the man?” L.Joe asked, unable to hide his surprise.

“Hm? You're not? I'm the man?” Lay adapted immediately, switching from big round eyes to a man's straight back and grim expression. “I'll sleep on the floor, you take the bed,” he recited, like a movie line.

Somehow the 'manly' face fit him worse, L.Joe thought, and snickered at that.

Lay seemed to think so himself too, though, and let his face soften. “It's too early to sleep,” he said. “Are you tired?”

“Hungry,” L.Joe said. “But there's not much food left.”

Lay scratched his head, thinking.

“I'll go buy something,” L.Joe decided.

“People will see you.”

“Nobody sees me. Without makeup, with the hood up, I'm just some scrawny guy nobody notices.” Sometimes that was sad, but it was actually so useful that it came out a positive, L.Joe thought. Niel could never sneak around like he did.

“I notice you,” Lay said.

L.Joe chuckled at the sulky tone. “Wait here,” he said.

“This, this!” Lay picked up an empty food pack. “More of this!”

“Yes, yes.”

He left, smiling to himself at Lay's cute pronounciations. More of this! There was a tiny store at the corner where he scoured the shelves and found something alike to what Lay wanted, and bought some random cheap food items. The cashier didn't look twice at him. When he returned, Lay was listening to the song on his laptop, scribbling on a piece of paper.

They ate and talked about the song. Lay wanted him to finish it, promised to write proper lyrics to it if he did.

“What do you usually do in the evening?” Lay asked when they'd cleaned the food away.

“Hm, watch stuff, movies,” L.Joe said.

“Ah, show me?” Lay stretched a little and gestured at the laptop.

They picked a movie together and watched it huddled together on the pallet. L.Joe watched Lay more than he watched the movie, trying to see when Lay didn't follow what was happening so he could explain. In the end, Lay didn't really get it anyway, but seemed content with the excuse to cuddle.

“I don't watch many movies,” Lay said. “Sometimes with the members.”

“Sorry, it wasn't really that good.”

“It was fun,” Lay said, like he actually thought so. “Good way to practice Korean.”

L.Joe rolled onto his back, and Lay leaned over and kissed him.

“What do you do in the evenings then?” L.Joe asked.

“Mostly practice. Dancing, guitar, piano,” Lay said. “Other times, compose, study Korean.”

“Now I feel lazy,” L.Joe said.

Lay smiled, carefree. “For me, it's not work, it's fun.”

“Studying Korean is fun?”

“Being able to talk to you is fun.”

“Maybe I should learn Chinese,” L.Joe muttered.

“You should,” Lay said, linking their fingers together. “There are some things you need to know.”

“Your name?”

“No, not like that. Because I forget, and say it in Chinese.” Lay's eyes sparkled. “Like, faster, or so good or do it in me.”

L.Joe laughed, embarassed.

“You will right? Learn it?”

“Okay, yeah, I will.” He tried to stop smiling, his cheeks hurt from smiling too much.

“Is it really true? First time?”

“Of course,” L.Joe said. He could tell from Lay's smile that CAP had been right; Lay did care about first times. “What about you?”

Lay grimaced. “Not first time,” he said. Held up two fingers. “Second.”

Really? Okay, so maybe L.Joe cared a tiny little bit too. “Only two?”

Lay glanced to the side. “I have... blood disease. It's not bad for you! But for me, if I get hurt, blood... does not stop. Doing it this way, sometimes, it can be dangerous.”

He'd heard about that, it was some kind of genetic thing. That vulnerability L.Joe had sensed, the way Lay had begged him to be careful, this must be the reason. “It's dangerous?” he asked. “Like, really bad for you?”

“It can be,” Lay said.

“We can do it the other way,” L.Joe said.

Lay shook his head. “I want to do what you like.”

“It's not one or the other, for me,” L.Joe said. “I like both ways. But if you want it this way...?”

“For me also, both,” Lay said. “Next time,” he decided, “we try the other way, and we'll see?”

L.Joe nodded. Even if this had been awesome, he didn't want to put Lay's health at risk, not when there was a safer way to have just as much fun. “This was very nice though. Most people assume I'm a bottom. Thank you for trusting me with it.”

“Bottom?”

“Girl,” L.Joe said ironically. “I'm the girl in the relationship.”

Lay laughed confusedly. “But Byunghun-ah is very manly.”

That was blatant flatterly, but L.Joe still smiled.

It was late. This had been weirdly domestic, hadn't it? Sex, shower, food, movie, cuddling... it was kind of what it would be like to have a boyfriend? L.Joe was half dozed off, so maybe he wasn't thinking clearly, but it was nice. Not bad at all. Then he felt something wet on his shoulder.

“Hyung?”

“I cry easily,” Lay sniffed.

“Is something wrong?”

“Today,” Lay said, rolling onto his back and looking up at the ceiling. “Today was perfect. Before, I... It has been difficult. I liked you, but I thought...” he bit his lip to not cry more.

L.Joe held his hand. “When can you come out again?”

Lay just shook his head.

“When are you going back to China?”

“Soon.” Lay closed his eyes. “I will miss you very much.”

“We can talk on the phone.” In truth, L.Joe was despairing over it as well, but Lay's sadness seemed so much more monumental than his own. He didn't want Lay to be sad. He'd gladly take all of the sadness himself, if he could. “As soon as you're coming here again, we'll find a way to meet.”

Lay nodded. L.Joe listened to his breaths slowing. He wanted to stay awake for a long as possible, just like this, feeling him sleep.

 

“Byunghun-ah.”

No.

“L.Joe.”

A weight on his chest, warmth along his body all the way from knees to shoulders, and his arms were... his eyes snapped open, he tried to reach out to touch but his hands were caught by the sides of his head, and the smell of champagne, it was just a dream, he had to fight it off, but he couldn't. Why, why was it here again, it should be gone, it should be fine now, but he couldn't get his arms free and he couldn't fucking breathe. He tried to scream but only this weird, breathless whine came out.

“Byunghun-ah?”

“Please,” he said, and he couldn't even hear his own voice, “please, let go of me, let go.”

His arms were freed. He curled up on his side, trying to will air into his lungs. Fuck, fuck fuck, fuck this.

Wordlessly, warmth curled around his back, warm breaths against his neck. No, no, no. He spun around, shoving it away, fingers digging into a warm chest.

“It's me.”

He saw the shape in the dark. “Hyung?” he whispered, feeling his whole body shake.

“It's me.” Lay reached out for him and pulled him close, and L.Joe crawled in against his chest and cried, quivering. “It's just a dream,” Lay said gently. Nothing more. Didn't prod or ask or get tired of comforting him, just held him, until the smell of champagne was overwritten with Lay's scent, and L.Joe breathed it in and drifted back to sleep.

 

His shirt was rolled up, the cold air made him shiver a little, but it wouldn't make him budge. Lay was... what... warm wetness traced up his stomach and circled his nipple and he opened his eyes just in time to see his nipple disappear between Lay's soft, pink lips. He moaned, was he still dreaming? Lay lifted his head and smiled at him. “Good morning.”

“Ahh,” L.Joe said, not finding the words. “Oh man.” He rubbed his face.

Lay snickered. Then lifted his eyebrows in mock surprise. “Is it not good?”

“It's fantastic,” L.Joe said, running his fingers through Lay's soft hair.

Lay looked happy, but then his eyes grew distant and he rested his head against L.Joe's chest and stared into the wall. L.Joe was too afraid to ask. He petted Lay's hair and waited, wishing he could stay here forever.

Lay's wandering hand found the scar. “What's this?” Lay asked, turning over to look at it.

What should he say, where should he start? “I was...” He was what? Attacked? Almost...? No, he wasn't a victim. “I donated my kidney to my twin brother,” he said, pointlessly.

Lay's eyes narrowed. Even when not understanding each word, he seemed to sense something was wrong.

“There was this crazy guy,” L.Joe said, sitting up. “He tried to blackmail me and when it didn't work, well.” He shrugged. “Before, did I wake you up?”

Lay considered that. “You dreamed,” he said. Paused and tapped the scar. “About this?”

L.Joe nodded. “I couldn't defend myself,” he said.

“People who have gone to war,” Lay said, “they dream, those who win and those who lose.”

That was oddly comforting. And they had won, hadn't they, in the end? “I was just lucky.”

“No such thing,” Lay stated. His arms came around L.Joe and pulled him back to lean against him. “Do you want to tell me about it?”

“Not right now,” L.Joe said. It wasn't that he didn't trust Lay, but he didn't want to ruin this first moment, these memories. He'd let that man taint enough of his life as it was. “You really think I'm manly?”

Lay kissed his shoulder. “Is it a surprise? I like men, don't I?”

L.Joe smiled smugly and leaned his head back against him. It seemed like a lifetime ago he'd been sitting in Infinite's couch being jealous of Joon and L and their casual intimacy. Sitting here with Lay already felt right.

“You were very manly,” Lay said, hand sliding up L.Joe's chest and up to his exposed throat, “when you were fucking me, Byunghun-ah. Very good.”

L.Joe groaned, feeling his adam's apple vibrate against Lay's fingers.

“And you will be very beautiful, very sexy,” Lay continued, his other hand starting at the same place on L.Joe's chest but sliding downwards instead, “when I'm fucking you.”

“We don't have time,” L.Joe moaned, whishing that wasn't true.

“Not now,” Lay said. “Later. But there is time, for something small, yes?” His hand slipped inside L.Joe's underwear and wrapped snugly around him. “Quickly.”

“It's never 'quickly' with you,” L.Joe said, smiling, turned on by Lay's touch, Lay's breaths against his skin, but most of all, by Lay wanting him this much, like he couldn't get enough.

“No, I guess not,” Lay said, kissing his ear, massaging him softly. “What a shame.”

 

Chapter Text

“Lee Byunghun!” Joon said. The phone connection wasn't the best, but L.Joe thought he sounded a little annoyed.

“Joon-hyung,” L.Joe greeted him back.

“You're making trouble!”

“Trouble? Me?” L.Joe laughed. “You'll have to be more specific.”

“We talked to Chen,” L's voice joined in.

“Did you make him an offer he couldn't refuse?” L.Joe snickered.

“He seemed intimidated,” L said. “We spent like an hour trying to be friendly so we could make an offer at all.”

“Not that he'll ever say yes,” Joon said.

"Have faith," L teased. “But in any case, he said Lay-sshi had been acting strange, having secret phone conversations and sometimes crying for no reason. He said, he thought he might have a secret friend. That it was weird because that hyung never kept secrets.” L laughed. “You had to choose the most innocent member of EXO to corrupt?”

“I'm not corrupting anyone,” L.Joe protested.

“Chen's going to be upset with us for not telling him, when he finds out how it is,” Joon said.

L broke in, "We'll lose all chances we never had. You're making trouble for the rest of us.”

“It's up to Lay-hyung when and if he comes out to his members,” L.Joe said.

“What about Baekhyun,” L said, sounding a little concerned. “He doesn't know how it is either, yet, does he? Sungyeol is worried about it too.”

“I'll talk to Lay-hyung about it,” L.Joe promised.

As soon as they hung up, he called Baekhyun.

“What do you think about secrets?" he asked. "You wouldn't be angry would you?"

"I love surprises," Baekhyun suggested, sounding a little wary. "Why?"

"We should talk someday, more than on the phone."

“Well,” Baekhyun said, “we're gonna have some time soon, maybe we could meet up? I've been talking to some other idols, maybe we could set up a little get-together, just us with similar... interests.”

“A hook-up club?”

“No, not like that,” Baekhyun laughed. “Although... but no. Just like friends, there's things everyone feel like they can't talk to their members about.”

“Are you sure that's a good idea? You realize I will have gotten it on with half the people there. You're gonna put them all in the same room?”

“It should be fine,” Baekhyun said. “You said yourself, you part with your conquests on good terms, so what's the harm?”

L.Joe disliked the term 'conquests', and he could think of plenty harm. Among many other things, Chunji would kill him if he found out. He could just imagine it. Taking risks like this... “Fine, whatever, okay.” On Baekhyun's head it was then.

“Don't worry, what could go wrong?” Baekhyun said cheerfully. “I'll be in touch then!”

What could possibly go wrong indeed.

 

Chapter Text

A few months ago:

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

L.Joe wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Save it for someone who cares.”

A laugh; happy, intrigued. “It doesn't bother you?”

“Does it bother you?” L.Joe countered, fishing out his phone and checking the time. Well, this had been quick. Hot and intense as hell, but quick. It maybe shouldn't surprise him, with this energetic kid.

A grin. “My manliness can handle it.” Then some fairly unmanly giggles.

“Does it bother you that Sungyeol is right outside keeping watch?” L.Joe asked, glancing up.

He looked surprised, but not in a bad way. “Ah, that's clever,” he said. Paused. “I guess it helps to have a wingman, huh.”

“You're too reckless,” L.Joe said. If he hadn't gotten Sungyeol in place, this foolish guy would have done it anyway, in a place that was everything but safe.

“It's been fine so far,” he said. “What? You're not the first one. I have poor judgment and impulse control. And I'm horny.” He smiled shamelessly.

“And loud,” L.Joe said. This hadn't exactly been a mistake, because hell, the sounds he'd been making alone could have gotten L.Joe off, but it had been a bit on the wild side, and L.Joe had caused enough problems for Teen Top for a lifetime.

“That's what people say,” the guy said.

L.Joe buttoned his shirt. Like some perv the guy had peeled it off him while he was blowing him, for some reason. An alarming sound – ka-tchick – made him stop and look up.

Grinning, the guy lowered his phone.

“Ya, don't take pictures,” L.Joe said, embarrassed and outraged but mostly worried.

“It's just you shirtless, lots of idols have to have embarrassing pictures like this of each other.” The guy ran his hand through his hair to make sure it was in place. “I'll leave first!”

“Go, go,” L.Joe muttered and turned his back, buttoning up. This kid reminded him of MYNAME's Seyong.

A rustle, then suddenly a soft touch on his shoulder, a feathered kiss on his temple. “Thank you.”

When he spun around, the guy was already gone. L.Joe rubbed his temple, ironically feeling violated. He hated when people muddled the line like that. The guy had been looking at him like he was an object; some extremely exotic, delicious fruit he just had to eat, and it had been fun to tease him. The look on his face when he'd realized it was really happening had been priceless, and L.Joe had felt like the sexiest creature on Earth.

Now he just felt cheap. Children and cute animals got kissed on the head. He sighed and brushed dust off his knees and went through the door. Leaning against the left side of the door, Sungyeol glanced up and saw him.

“Rating?” he asked.

L.Joe twitched his head to the side in a half-shrug.

“6 out of 10,” Sungyeol guessed. “7?”

“8 and a half for the dirty stuff,” L.Joe said. “But he's a little...hm.”

“Straight?”

“Loud. Straight too, but that doesn't necessarily bring down the marks.”

“Total closet case. If he's actually straight, I'm a flying monkey,” Sungyeol said, looking down the corridor where the guy'd presumably gone to return to his group.

“I think he is, he's just really easy. But a little too excited, don't you think,” L.Joe said.

They started walking back to the waiting rooms. Everyone were preparing for a midsummer event a few weeks away, which meant a random scattering of idol groups were present. Prime hunting grounds, although L.Joe had had to promise his members to stick to the estrablished groups. Who knew what kind of stupid ideas rookies could come up with. So he'd ended up with a straight guy. Maybe it was his fate. L.Joe licked his lips, feeling his taste still. He dug up his mint case and popped one into his mouth. That guy didn't count as a rookie, right? Which group had he belonged to? Ah, whatever, the members would never know.

“I feel like we've been invaded by SM,” Sungyeol said, looking over his shoulder at SHINee passing by. “Just between Super Junior and EXO there's so many members, they outnumber the rest of us together.”

“At least you're a seven-member group,” L.Joe said. “Imagine how the five-member ones feel.”

“They're so many,” Sungyeol said again, with a new tone to his voice. “There has to be some that are... like us?”

L.Joe lifted an eyebrow at him. “You want to go flirt with SuJu?” he asked, disbelief coloring his voice.

“What? Why not?”

“They're a bit... old, arent they?”

“Two words,” Sungyeol said. “Experience, and,” he rubbed his thumb and his finger together, “money.”

“I generally don't charge money,” L.Joe said dryly.

“We've already proven that having rich and powerful friends is a great thing,” Sungyeol said.

“So trading blowjobs for favors isn't the same as getting paid?”

“Cold hard cash is of course nice,” Sungyeol joked, “but c'mon, that's not what I mean. I mean, if you're gonna go hunting anyway, why not aim for the big fish?”

“Because they're old,” L.Joe repeated. “O. L. D.”

“Not all of them, not that old,” Sungyeol protested. “I'm pretty sure all the parts work. Have you seen Siwon-sshi's abs? Donghae, Leeteuk...”

L.Joe licked his lips. Okay, yes, but there was a second problem. SuJu were established, had nothing to fear. Going after them was in some ways just as dangerous as going after rookies.

Although, then again, he'd just gone after a rookie, hadn't he? Or who had that guy been, really?

He scratched his neck. “Whoever bags a SuJu member first wins,” he said. “Loser pays next time we go out.”

“Why would I play this game? How would I win?”

“You won't win if you don't try.”

“How about this. We divide members. I play wingman and keep watch, and you start working down the list, oldest to youngest. First one that gives a response, if he's on your list, you win, if he's on mine, I win.”

“While it's nice that you're cool about me being a slut, I don't know if I'm comfortable with having a pimp,” L.Joe said, narrowing his eyes at Sungyeol.

“It's a game, a game. I said response, not sex. Just flirting.”

“Alright, fine.” L.Joe pulled out his phone and started typing in SuJu members in age order, checking with lists on the web. They started dividing the list, one by one guessing. L.Joe was pretty sure he'd lose. He had no sense when it came to predicting who would be interested and not, after all. “I have to do them in age order?”

“Oldest to youngest.”

“Why?”

“Because your obsession with age is unhealthy,” Sungyeol said. “I'm pretty sure one of the older hyungs will bite the hook, and then we'll see if you think they're too old or not.”

“Sungmin,” L.Joe ticked off on his own list. “What's your next pick?”

“Leeteuk,” Sungyeol said.

“No way,” L.Joe said. “He's not gay.”

“It wasn't about who was gay, was it,” Sungyeol said, grinning. “It was about who took the bait. You're known to attract a straight guy or two, after all.”

“Shit, can I change my picks?”

“Nope,” Sungyeol said happily. Clearly had purposefully tricked him. “Heechul.”

L.Joe stared at the remaining names on the list with dismay. “I hate you.”

“It's only fair you pay for my drinks. I'm working hard to get you laid. And once you've bagged yourself a Super Junior, you can thank me for showing you mature doesn't mean old, and kids are more trouble than they're worth.”

“Mature means they'll probably want to get married,” L.Joe said. “Which means I should keep a respectful distance. Monogamy is not for me.”

“Such prejudice,” Sungyeol said cheerfully. “We'll see, friend, we'll see.”

 

Chapter Text

“Hyung!” Niel called. “L.Joe is doing it again!”

CAP reached over and slapped L.Joe's shoulder and went back to sleep.

“What?” L.Joe demanded of Niel, not bothering to turn to CAP.

“That creepy smile,” Niel said and shuddered. “It's like you're... actually happy, hyung.” Ricky and Changjo were nodding in agreement. Chunji glanced over and shrugged an apology, like he was sorry for it but he agreed too.

“I am happy,” L.Joe said. “I'm happy all the time.”

“Not like this,” Niel said and made a weird grimace, probably supposed to be an imitation of the smile. L.Joe flung a pillow at him.

“What are you thinking about?” Changjo asked.

“Do you have to ask?” Chunji asked tiredly. “Ooh Lay-hyung,” he started with a falsetto voice before laughing and running away when L.Joe lunged at him.

Eventually he was left alone in the living room next to the sleeping CAP.

Weeks. It had been more than a month already, autumn was almost over, and Lay was still in China; had been back briefly but only for an intense few days of filming before being shipped away again, no chance of sneaking away. EXO were doing well, and L.Joe was happy for his success, but he was also dying.

He sighed and leaned back in the couch and remembered that last time before they split up to go to their own schedules. L.Joe leaning back into Lay's chest, feeling him breathe. Lay's hand firmly around his cock, infuriatingly gentle, teasing, while his other hand kept L.Joe in place. L.Joe's cheeks burned remembering how desperate he'd gotten, pleading, begging to get to come, and Lay who had amusedly ignored him, tormented him until he thought he'd go crazy, played with his nipples and whispered the sweetest things in his ear in that horribly cute accent.

Ah, he was getting hard thinking about it. And then, after he'd finally come, almost afraid to at that point, like he'd been bursting at the seams and coming would tear him apart, Lay had gotten up and gotten dressed to leave. L.Joe had asked him to stay, to let L.Joe blow him one more time, and Lay had looked at him with eyes full of desire and said, “Let me leave like this, with this memory of you, Byunghun-ah, looking just like this.” And L.Joe had been lying dishreveled on the pallet, naked, sweaty, with his hair messed up and his own cum still on his skin, and he'd never felt so perfect, so full and warm and sexy, so seen.

His hand played with the button in his pants and he glanced at the doors, but the kids and Chunji were busy playing some game in Ricky's room. Maybe...

“Want some help with that?”

He jumped half a foot into the air and found CAP watching him, amused.

“Aish!” he said, for lack of better things to say, “Hyung, you scared me!”

CAP snickered.

Embarrassed, L.Joe got up. “No,” he said, to clarify, and went to his room.

CAP went back to sleep.

He wanted to stay faithful to Lay. He really, really did. He liked having a boyfriend; he liked being a boyfriend, but god damned it was hard. He was used to getting some action, and he kept getting turned on thinking about Lay. Not to mention that CAP was always there, always available, never pushy or jealous but very clearly interested. He tapped Lay's number in his phone, but didn't call. If he talked to Lay right now, he'd just feel even worse. Maybe tonight.

He called Baekhyun instead.

“How's your schedule? When do you want to meet up?” he asked once the greetings were out of the way.

“Soon,” Baekhyun said. He sounded a little stressed. “I can't talk long. But I've been in touch with some of the guys on our list, the ones that are in the country at the time, and a few of them might be interested in meeting up.”

“I'm still not sure about this,” L.Joe said. Half the people he'd blown, gathered up in the same room? Even if the hook-ups were very laid back, very unassuming, and the guys had seemed casual enough about it, he wasn't entirely convinced it would go without a hitch.

“What could go wrong,” Baekhyun said. That's what he always said when he didn't want to think about what could actually go wrong, L.Joe had noticed. “By the way, last time we were over, C-Clown were filming just next door, so I talked to Ray.”

“Who?”

“L.Joe! That's terrible!” Baekhyun laughed. “Ray! The kid that you...”

“I'm joking, joking.” Ray was one of the few people he'd hooked up with and hadn't blown, in fact. If he lacked reasons to remember him by. And he was the guy who had set L.Joe on the path to seducing Lay. He should thank the kid, really.

“He wants to meet you again,” Baekhyun said. “Not all sentimental-like, but like a friend. You had good advice, he said. I invited him to the gathering, is that okay?”

He'd already done it, so what did it matter now if L.Joe approved or not. “It's fine. It's good, actually, I should thank him for something.”

“Oooh,” Baekhyun said, but no more. “Have to go, talk to you soon! Feel free to invite people too, if you want!”

Baekhyun hung up before L.Joe could point out that it was difficult to invite people to something he still didn't know when it was going to take place.

 

A few days later Baekhyun messaged him a time and place for a week later. They met up at one of SM's training halls, where Baekhyun had convinced his members to help him smuggle in food and drinks. L.Joe arrived a little late, having to sneak out from under Chunji's nose or get a lesson about staying out late before early schedule.

Baekhyun was chatting with some tall guy... Ray? L.Joe waved at them, closing in, curious. “Hello.”

“Hi,” Baekhyun said cheerfully.

Ray bowed.

“I invited everyone on the list, since I figured most wouldn't be able to get away, so now I'm not entirely sure who's coming,” Baekhyun said. “Except the ones that are out of the country, of course. And Kai is just fetching some stuff.”

“Our list?” L.Joe asked. Who had he told... well, right, Kikwang wasn't on the list, and he had a vague memory of VIXX being in Japan, so it should be okay.

“Mm,” Baekhyun said. Took his arm and led him away from Ray a few steps. “Not CAP obviously, or do you think he would want to?”

What? “Why would he want to?”

“Well, he's one of us right?”

“Who told you that?”

Baekhyun paused. “Uh...”

“Sungyeol told you,” L.Joe realized.

“Ah, heh, there's no harm is there,” Baekhyun said with a disarming smile.

What the hell? Sungyeol was supposed to be his best friend, but the idiot couldn't keep his mouth shut! Apparently he was incapable of keeping secrets from people he crushed on; first telling L everything, and now Baekhyun? Baekhyun who chattered like a monkey about everything with anyone and everyone. Ah, Sungyeol had some serious explaining to do. Had he told Baekhyun about Lay as well?

“Whatever,” L.Joe said. “How's the members? M are still in China?”

“They were on some game show last night, it sounded like fun.”

“They're doing well?”

“Very.” Baekhyun leaned in conspiratorily. “Chen put Luhan-hyung on a mission to find out who Lay-hyung is talking to. Whoever the girl is, we'll find out.”

Ah, maybe L.Joe should have told Lay that his members were on to him, he'd forgotten. Whenever he spoke to Lay there was so many more important things to say, and so little time. Lay should really tell his members himself. At least Sungyeol hadn't leaked that part. Maybe didn't want to be the messenger and get shot for it.

The door opened and Kai came inside, chatting to someone. BTOB's Minhyuk, shyly trailing behind him, glancing at the others present.

“Jonghyun-hyung, CN BLUE's Jonghyun, can't get away, he says definitely next time,” Bakehyun said, checking his phone. “The MYNAME hyungs didn't answer. So it's probably just us this time.”

It was a bit awkward at first, but Minhyuk and Kai started doing flips and tricks, and forced Baekhyun to try, and soon they were laughing together, playing around, chatting about various things. Ray was a bit silent, maybe intimidated, but participated. L.Joe firmly stood his ground on not trying the flips, he'd probably break his neck and die, but was talked into teaching them some Teen Top choreography. After doing the Supa Luv chorus a few times together, L.Joe and Kai teasing Baekhyun incessantly, they sat down in a circle on the floor and ate. Ray talked a little more, maybe feeling more comfortable with the familiar situation of a practice room snack.

The converation turned over on subjects they couldn't discuss with others comfortably. They discussed when and how they'd known they liked guys, and how they dealt with their members. BTOB apparently didn't know about Minhyuk, and he intended to keep it that way; he was bisexual and figured he'd end up with a girl eventually because it was simpler. Kai seemed to take offense at that. Some of Ray's members knew but not all of them.

“So L.Joe is the only one here properly out among his members?” Baekhyun asked, looking around.

The others nodded.

“Any tips?”

L.Joe considered. “Thunder-hyung, MBLAQ's Thunder, gave me some advice when Teen Top found out and everything seemed to be going to hell,” he said and passed it on. No secrets. Talk about it. Make plans. Involve them against their will, if you had to, to show them that you were still the same guy as before.

“You're the sunbae in this area,” Baekhyun said, bowing mockingly, but smiling a friendly smile.

“Ah, yes,” Minhyuk said, nodding innocently, sitting at attention.

“Teach us,” Kai said playfully.

“You won't get any use of his teachings,” Baekhyun told Kai. “L.Joe doesn't do lovey dovey... oh, or well, didn't you say you had someone you liked?”

L.Joe smiled, squirming when everyone looked at him. “Nn,” he said reluctantly.

“Look at that smile,” Baekhyun teased. “Didn't you say it was nonsense, love?”

“Not nonsense,” L.Joe protested. “I just said sex isn't necessarily better just because you're in love. And I stand by that. It's different, not better exactly. Unless you happen to fall for the best lover in the world.” He grinned.

Kai grinned back.

“You're about to tell us it's your guy, aren't you,” Baekhyun sighed.

“Wah, the one and only L.Joe is off the market?” Minhyuk asked.

L.Joe laughed. It was weird to think of it like that.

“I ran into this one guy recently,” Ray said suddenly, speaking for the first time in a long time, “and it's weird, I thought he would be better, but he was just so-so. Maybe you know him? He likes to curse in Chinese,” Ray said, and that didn't mean anything, that could be anyone, but the way his eyes had locked onto L.Joe, burning... “And he can go for a long time, fuck, I don't think I know anyone who could outlast him. Recognize him yet? He whines when you suck on his lower lip, and he does this thing with his tongue when he sucks you, like...”

L.Joe had frozen, staring into the floor, he didn't want to hear any more, Ray had to shut up but he couldn't move.

“That's enough,” Kai broke in. “I don't want to hear.”

“Are you talking about EXO's Lay-hyung?” Minhyuk asked.

Ray was shaken out of his intense glare, and glanced over at Minhyuk, surprised. “You too?”

“Long ago,” Minhyuk said, gesturing that he didn't want to make a big deal of it. “Just in passing, before you guys debuted.” He nodded at Baekhyun and Kai.

“Not so fantastic as the dancing would make you think, yeah?”

Minhyuk shrugged. “We just, um, that is, we, I don't know, he was okay.” He halfway turned away, blushing.

“What...?” Baekhyun said, sounding like he had trouble getting the sounds out of his mouth.

“He wasn't bad,” Ray said calmly. “But nothing like you,” he added, looking back to L.Joe. “There's absolutely something special about you. Something it seems no one can resist. Nothing special about him, though.”

“You don't know what you're talking about,” L.Joe said, more confused than he was angry, but that was quickly changing.

“Really? Did he improve dramatically in the two weeks since we fucked?”

“That's bullshit.”

“You don't believe me?” Ray asked L.Joe flatly.

“I don't,” L.Joe said, equally blunt because why not. Lay wouldn't. Anyone else, maybe even CAP, but not him.

“Hey, maybe you should show L.Joe-hyung some respect,” Kai told Ray.

“Why would I pay respect to someone who doesn't respect anything,” Ray said calmly. Too calmly.

“What's your problem?” L.Joe demanded. “What did I do to you? Why are you...”

“Are you taking it personally? I'm just telling the truth,” Ray said. “Or are you upset because I fucked your boyfriend? Because he didn't seem to have any problem forgetting about you. I barely had to make an effort.”

L.Joe shook his head. This wasn't happening, what was going on? Baekhyun's eyes just followed whoever was speaking, his mouth forgotten open, like his brain had just quit on the whole thing.

“Ah, he's your boyfriend?” Minhyuk said, alarmed. “Ah, I-”

“A slut for a slut,” Ray said, and that was it. This little smug bastard, L.Joe didn't know what had happened or how Ray knew those things about Lay, but he wasn't going to let him talk about him like that. He flew up and lunged forward. Ray halfway ducked out of the punch and shoved him, and L.Joe grabbed a handful of his hair and yanked him back.

“Hey, hey!” Kai tried to get them apart, and the action finally breathed life back into Baekhyun who came up and helped. Minhyuk dared to drag Ray aside while Kai and Baekhyun got control of L.Joe.

“Let go of me!” L.Joe snarled.

“It's not worth it,” Kai said sharply. “Snap out of it! He's not worth it!”

Ray snorted. “It's pathetic, seeing this guy try to defend someone. Let him go, it's not as if he could beat me.”

L.Joe nearly lunged again, but Kai and Minhyuk blocked him, eyes begging him to let it go.

“Get out of here, you bastard, and don't come back,” Kai told Ray.

Ray's chin came up and he gave L.Joe one last, scalding look. “Not so much fun is it,” he said, “when other people touch what's yours.”

What. The. Fuck. L.Joe watched him leave. A gun, if he had a gun right now, or a knife, or fuck, a rock would do, he'd just throw it really hard and hope it crushed his skull...

Baekhyun backed away, looking like he didn't know where to be or what to touch. Minhyuk closed and locked the door behind Ray and hovered.

“Hyung,” Kai said, moving closer.

L.Joe kicked him. It wasn't planned, he didn't know why he did it, but he had to hurt something, someone, and Kai was the nearest one.

“Hyung!” Kai parried and jumped away.

L.Joe found the nearest object, a half-empty bottle of water, and threw it at the door. Minhyuk gracefully stepped out of the way as it exploded and spilled water across the floor. Next object was a plastic cup, then an unopened bag of cookies.

“Hyung.” Kai closed in, warily. “Calm down.”

“How the fuck did he know?” L.Joe asked. “How the fuck. Did he know?” His mind was spinning. This wasn't true, Ray must have lied, something else, something else had happened. He closed his eyes and turned away from the people, but that put him face to face with himself in the mirror. Fuck. He grabbed for another object and his fingers found something metal.

Before he could fling the spoon at the mirror, Minhyuk swiftly snatched it out of his hand. “Okay, that's enough,” he said and steered L.Joe away to sit on the bench by the side wall.

Baekhyun was watching them, frowning, mouth open, not saying anything.

“Don't let him get to you,” Kai said. “Don't jump to conclusions. You need to talk to Lay-hyung, and...”

“This is not over,” L.Joe vowed. “I'm going to destroy that piece of shit...”

“Think about this,” Minhyuk said. His voice wasn't loud, in fact L.Joe had to strain a little to hear him, but there was severity to what he said that made him listen. “You really want this to become a big deal? To spill out into your groups and into the news? He'll win then, even if it destroys him too. Because what does he want? Revenge, clearly. And revenge doesn't care if you go down with it.”

The senseless rage was subsiding. L.Joe felt his muscles relax, little by little. Instead he started feeling like crying, but he certainly wasn't going to.

“Baekhyun-hyung?” Kai said.

Baekhyun was still standing where he'd last been. “The one Lay-hyung is dating,” he said, frowning, “is you?”

“I'm sorry,” Kai said. “We wanted to let Lay-hyung tell you himself, I don't know why he hasn't, maybe he just hasn't thought about it, you've been so busy.”

“He's gay? Lay-hyung is...?”

“I'm sorry,” Kai said again.

“Did Sungyeol-hyung know that...?” Baekhyun started.

And the pieces fell into place. “You!” L.Joe flew to his feet. “You've been talking to Ray!” He stormed over, Minhyuk and Kai hurrying to intercept, but he pushed them out of the way and stopped a few steps away. “You told Ray I liked someone, didn't you? And Sungyeol told him who it was. He's talked to Sungyeol, hasn't he? TELL ME!” He reached out for Baekhyun, and Minhyuk swiftly pushed his hands down.

“So what! What does it matter, we didn't, why would we,” Baekhyun said, but it was a lie, it was so obvious on his face that L.Joe almost managed to pity him.

If L.Joe stayed here, he'd burst into tears just out of frustration. He shoved past Baekhyun and kicked the broken water bottle away and got out the door. Stalked through some corridors at random and found a quiet corner and sat down.

Minhyuk quietly sat down next to him. L.Joe hadn't even noticed that he'd followed.

“I'm sorry,” Minhyuk said. L.Joe scowled at him and he raised his hands defensively. “I don't mean... I wouldn't have talked about him like that, if I knew. If I'd known who he is to you, and what that guy was trying to do.”

L.Joe rested his elbows on his knees and bent his head down. “Whatever,” he said.

“Did you do what he thinks you've done?”

“I have no fucking clue what he's on about,” L.Joe said. “It could be anyone. If he's got some obsessive crazy crush on some random guy I've blown, it could be anyone.” He blew air through his nose. “This is what love does to people.”

When he lifted his head, Minhyuk was smiling a little.

“This looks funny to you?”

“No, no,” Minhyuk said quickly, giving way for L.Joe's attitude like he was used to stepping back for more aggressive personalities. “I'm sorry. I just remembered. There was a girl, that I liked, long ago. And even when everything was terrible, and we were so cruel to each other... even then... yes, this is what love does to people.”

Even then.

“Do you think Lay-hyung did what that guy said?” Minhyuk asked.

How would he have known these things otherwise? L.Joe hadn't told Sungyeol anything about it. Someone else could have told him, of course, but that meant that Lay had slept with someone else anyway. “That's not the problem,” L.Joe said.

“It isn't?”

“It's one problem,” L.Joe admitted. “But it's not...” He wasn't sure. He'd never been a possessive, jealous person, and he hadn't imagined himself being a boyfriend, in a long time if ever. So it had been nice, this dream of being boyfriends in the classic way, but had he honestly expected it to last? When his gaze kept dropping to CAP's waist every time he stretched, to look for that glimpse of skin when his shirt went up? How long would he have been able to stay monogamous?

Forever?

He'd never know now. “It's not that he did it,” L.Joe said. “It's that it's with that piece of shit guy. So tacky.”

“But,” Minhyuk pondered, “haven't you done it with that guy?”

L.Joe glared at him. Minhyuk glanced away. Very shy, Baekhyun had said about him. That didn't go well with the forward, confident, fearless Minhyuk that showed on TV. Shy? L.Joe wondered what that was about. It seemed like a nice distraction to think about. “Thanks for siding with me,” he said.

Minhyuk snorted. “Who wouldn't have?”

“Still. And for coming out now.”

Minhyuk eyed him. “What are you fishing for?”

L.Joe laughed disarmingly. Wow, he'd been found out quickly. It was kind of interesting, how Minhyuk acted soft, but was sharp enough to notice. “Come with me?” He got up and looked around. They'd chosen this place to start with because Baekhyun had said almost no one was using these rooms for a few days.

“Is this really what you should be doing right now?” Minhyuk asked. L.Joe took his hand and led the way, and like before, Minhyuk let him be in charge, not even a hint of resistance.

He tried a couple of doors and found a tiny room that looked promising. The door opened inwards but didn't lock, so L.Joe wedged a chair under the handle.

Minhyuk eyed the construction doubtfully.

“Don't worry, no one will come,” L.Joe told him.

Minhyuk licked his lips. When L.Joe moved towards him, he backed up until his hip hit the table in the middle of the room. L.Joe kept walking right in between his legs. Minhyuk leaned against the table and just breathed, watching him warily.

“You don't want to?” L.Joe asked, because he didn't want to bully Minhyuk into something against his will. Something weird was going on here.

Minhyuk searched his eyes. “What do you want me to say?” he asked carefully. Meaning it.

Hm? “The truth.”

“I want whatever you want.”

Really. L.Joe leaned in, hovering just by his lips, their bodies so close to touching that their heat was mingling. Minhyuk stayed still, quivering ever so slightly, his eyes locked on L.Joe's lips. L.Joe let his palm flow through the air along his torso, not touching, but fully in view for him. Minhyuk's chest heaved, but he stayed. Careful to not let any part of them touch, L.Joe leaned in and said in his ear, “I want you to undress.”

Minhyuk's hands came up and started unbuttoning his own shirt. L.Joe stepped back to give him the space to do it properly. Damned, it was a sexy sight. Minhyuk kept watching him, dark eyes fully focused on his face, on picking up any cues, while his hands kept working the buttons flawlessly. One by one. Minhyuk shrugged out of the shirt and pulled the tank top over his head, and without missing a beat kicked out of his shoes and got out of his pants. Still not taking his eyes off L.Joe. Dug his fingertips inside the waistband of his underwear, and there was just a hint of hesitation, just a fraction of a second, then the underwear went the same way as the rest of his clothes. Minhyuk paused a little, still looking for instructions in L.Joe's face, then his hands continued to the jewelry. Bracelet unclipped. Earrings out. Rings, one by one placed in a row on the table. Finally there was nothing more to remove.

L.Joe walked up to him again and felt his slender waist. He was small, but packed with slender muscle. Nothing but muscle and bone and sinew, smooth and hard. L.Joe could feel them move beneath his skin when he breathed.

“I'm going to suck your cock,” L.Joe said. Minhyuk shuddered under his hands. “Don't mess up my hair. Keep your hands on the table.” He took Minhyuk's wrists and showed him what he meant, set Minhyuk's palms against the table, fingers hooked around the edge. “Don't move them.”

Minhyuk licked his lips and nodded, just barely noticeably.

L.Joe nudged his legs apart a little and slid down Minhyuk's body onto his knees. Minhyuk's cock fit the rest of his body. Slender, eager. L.Joe licked up the underside, looking up at Minhyuk, and saw him swallow a groan and close his eyes for second, but couldn't keep them closed. Wanted to see. Let's give him something to see then, L.Joe thought. Sucked him in purposefully sloppily, lewdly. Minhyuk's chest was heaving, his breaths were dangerously close to moans, but he kept silent.

With a body like this Minhyuk must have decent stamina, but they didn't have all day. L.Joe picked up the pace, doing his best, and Minhyuk's body started rolling with him, unable to hold still. But his hands stayed in place, and he didn't come, not even as his skin got damp with sweat.

Oh, wait, right. L.Joe stood up, sliding his hands along the insides of his thighs and watched him suffer. “Come for me,” he said, slowly wrapping his hand around his dark, throbbing erection.

Minhyuk shook with it even before he came, just one more squeeze and he burst. “Aaahhh!” His knees gave in and he folded down, leaning forward awkwardly because he still held on to the table, knuckles going white. L.Joe kissed those knuckles as an apology and Minhyuk moaned like it hurt.

“It's okay,” L.Joe said, gently petting his fingers. “You can let go now.”

Minhyuk fell onto his knees, breathing heavily, and ran a hand through his hair. “Fuck,” he said.

Something had just happened. L.Joe hadn't thought about it when they entered, but he realized now that when they'd entered this room, something had happened to Minhyuk. Like he'd shut down or become another person. And now he was back to normal. He didn't know anything about kinky sex or whatever this was, maybe it worked like this.

“You're brutal,” Minhyuk said, wiping a pearl of sweat from his forehead.

L.Joe just smiled, not wanting to admit that it had been accidental.

“Was this right,” Minhyuk said, but seemed to be speaking to himself. “But you were so hot, charging Ray like that, fearlessly. Ahhh,” he groaned, “it turned me on so much.”

Shy, Baekhyun had said, but Minhyuk was in no hurry to get back into his clothes. He actually meticulously put on everything in the exact opposite order, L.Joe thought, first jewelry, then underwear, then everthing else. Maybe he was shy if he didn't get to do this... be this... person?

“How did Lay-hyung handle you?” L.Joe asked.

Minhyuk glanced up at him through his lashes. “Hm. Are you sure you want to...?”

“I asked, so tell me.”

“I think he liked it. We were younger, then. I didn't handle it so well myself, either. But I think he liked it.”

“He told you what to do?” It seemed so unlikely for Lay to put on this bossy merciless persona L.Joe had borrowed for this.

“His Korean was poor. But there's ways to tell someone what you want, without words.” Minhyuk smiled weakly. “I mean, you know what you're doing. We didn't, let's say. We made do.”

“Do you know if...” he shouldn't be asking Minhyuk this. “If Lay-hyung hooked up with a lot of people?”

“Sorry,” Minhyuk said, shaking his head.

What did that mean? Sorry, he didn't know? Sorry, Lay was a total slut? Sorry, that you're worried about these things? L.Joe walked away and unblocked the door. Served him right for asking questions he didn't want the answer to.

“I'm going home,” he said. “Are you stopping by Baekhyun-hyung and Kai?”

“Shouldn't you talk to Baekhyun? He seemed... well, he didn't know about any of this did he?”

“I don't give a fuck about him,” L.Joe said, a little more forcefully than he'd intended, but fuck it. “If he and Sungyeol could keep their fucking mouths shut, none of this would have happened!”

“That guy would have found some way to mess with you, you saw the determination in him,” Minhyuk said. “Your friends didn't mean any harm.”

“This isn't any of your business,” L.Joe said, but regretted it immediately. Minhyuk was just trying to be nice.

“Take my number,” Minhyuk said, gesturing for him to hand over his phone. “In case you need a hand with anything.”

“That's generous,” L.Joe said, wondering, handing it over.

Minhyuk smiled at the phone, tapping in his number and handing it back. “Favor for a favor,” he said shyly. “And yours was a good one. High trade value.”

L.Joe actually smiled.

This had been good, he thought, walking out to the car. Being in control like that, feeling like Minhyuk would do anything he asked, anything, it had made him feel better.

If only for a short time.

 

Chapter Text

Chunji sat next to him on the bed. “Hi.”

“Hi?” L.Joe said, looking up from the movie he was watching but not taking the earbuds out.

“Sungyeol-hyung called me,” Chunji said. “Seems something is going on?”

“Nothing,” L.Joe stated and turned back to the movie.

“There's been a distinct lack of happy smiles today,” Chunji said. “We've sort of gotten used to them now, it's a little weird.”

“Sungyeol fucked up,” L.Joe said.

“You can't forgive him? Considering what he's done for you...”

L.Joe stared at the screen. “I'm busy. This is a good movie. Go bother Changjo.”

Chunji shrugged. “Okay.”

 

Someone sat next to him on the bed again. On-screen, the two leads were having a confrontation, yelling at each other, crying. L.Joe both wanted to stop watching, and couldn't tear his eyes away. He chewed on his lip and fought down his own emotions, ignoring whoever had come.

“Byunghun-ah?”

That voice. Wasn't his members. Sounded like...? He looked up, and found Sungyeol. For some reason he wasn't entirely clear on himself, he slammed the laptop lid shut and picked out the earbuds.

“What are you doing here?”

“Checking that you're still alive,” Sungyeol said. “Three days and you haven't answered any messages or calls.” He poked L.Joe's leg. “But alive and charming as ever.”

“Don't touch me!” L.Joe said before he could stop himself.

Sungyeol froze up. “What do you mean don't touch you,” he snorted, eyes wide with surprise.

“I'm not talking to you.”

“Are you angry with me? What did I do?” Sungyeol looked bewildered and frustrated. “Did something go wrong at the meet-up? Your members said you've been mopey.”

“Fuck you,” L.Joe said. “Did something go wrong? You know what went wrong! You told Baekhyun about CAP! You fucking told that bitch Ray about who I was seeing! Turns out Lay-hyung wasn't so interested in being boyfriends. I guess I'm an idiot who assumed things. Lucky thing Ray was so well-informed and could set me straight. Should I thank you?”

Sungyeol was looking increasingly worried. “I... told... Ray?”

“Ray! C-Clown's Ray! Fucking hell...”

“What did he do?” Sungyeol asked. “What did he say?”

“He fucked Lay-hyung,” L.Joe said. It was funny how it was so easy to say something that felt so horrible.

“Ray?” Sungyeol looked like he couldn't believe it.

“Two weeks earlier.”

“He might have lied?”

“Two weeks earlier, Baekhyun told me C-Clown stayed next room over from EXO, because he talked to him then. And that's when you talked to him too, isn't it.”

Sungyeol thought back. “Yeah, but...”

“They were so busy,” L.Joe said. “Lay-hyung said he didn't have a chance to get away and see me. So I guess he picked up something closer by.” He resisted the urge to fling the laptop across the room. “Ray knew things he would only know if... Whatever. I'm not talking to you.” He opened the laptop again and felt around for wherever the earbuds had fallen.

“Did he talk about this in front of everyone?” Sungyeol asked.

“Everyone,” L.Joe confirmed. “I looked like a complete fool. But you know all this already, Baekhyun's probably told you, because neither of you can keep your fucking mouths shut!”

“I didn't know,” Sungyeol insisted. “It seemed harmless, Ray said he wanted to thank you for some advice you'd given him, so I said he could be nice to Lay because...”

L.Joe kicked him. Sungyeol slid off the bed and stood up, rubbing his hip. “Okay, I might have deserved that,” he admitted. “I'm sorry. I apologize. I won't tell anyone anything ever...”

“Like you didn't tell L anything more after you promised to not?”

Sungyeol bit his lip. “I'm sorry,” he said again. Hesitated. “Have you talked to Lay-hyung?”

“No.”

“Shouldn't you?”

“Why? What's there to say? I'm the idiot who assumed.”

“Maybe he should know that you're this upset.”

L.Joe found the earbuds, finally, and glared at Sungyeol. “Fuck. You. Why don't you tell Baekhyun, so he can tell Lay, you two seem to be good at that? Or why don't you go ahead and tell him I never want to see him again, like you did with Joon-hyung and L?”

“Whoa,” Sungyeol said quietly. He looked hurt for real. Good.

“Get out.”

“Byunghun-ah...”

“Who,” L.Joe shouted and pulled the pillow out from behind his back, “are you calling Byunghun-ah! Who are you? Get out!” He tossed the pillow at Sungyeol.

Sungyeol deflected the pillow like it was, well, a pillow. “I can't tell Baekhyun,” he said, “because he's not answering my calls and messages either.” L.Joe couldn't see his expression because he was staring at the paused video. “He found out that I didn't tell him about Lay-hyung, didn't he? Well, I guess at least I know the two of you aren't avoiding me because you hooked up with each other.”

L.Joe grit his teeth to not react. Poor Sungyeol. Woe woe. It was his own damned fault.

The door opened and closed. Sungyeol had left.

Good riddance.

He tried to watch the movie but he couldn't focus on what they were saying at all, and he was uncomfortable now without the pillow. Sighing, he closed the laptop again and just sat there for a bit, being uncomfortable.

Niel entered, face bleary, lips swollen, clearly having been asleep. Looked confused at finding his hyung staring into a wall.

“What?” L.Joe said.

“Did I hear shouting?” Niel asked.

“Where's the others?”

“I don't know. Gone. They probably went out for food without me, the selfish bastards, I said I'd only nap for half an hour.”

Maybe Sungyeol had made some kind of deal to be left alone with L.Joe.

“Who were you yelling at?”

“No one,” L.Joe said.

“Chunji-hyung?”

“No one,” L.Joe insisted.

“I heard the front door,” Niel said. “And you look like you're about to cry. Don't cry, hyung, it creeps me out even worse than that weird smile.”

L.Joe narrowed his eyes at him and Niel smiled and rubbed his eyes sleepily.

If you squinted like this, Niel was actually almost attractive. L.Joe set the laptop aside. “CAP's gone,” he said. “You ever serious about trying my blowjobs?”

Niel blinked a few times, either out of sleep or outrage. “Just tell me what's wrong, instead, hyung, I'm too tired to play games.”

Should he? Could he? Niel wasn't very high on the list of people he confided in, but on the other hand, the top spots on that list had just betrayed him. Maybe he needed to reevaluate his choices. “I think Lay-hyung cheated on me. So I cheated on him as revenge.” That sounded horrible, now that he'd said it. Niel would think he was some kind of idiot.

Niel stayed silent for a second, before saying, “Ah, hyung.” Like sighing over this foolish guy making the same old mistakes. “You need better outlets for your emotions.”

“What?”

“You got cheated on, so you cheated too. You're sad, so you offer me random sex. I think you need new ways to handle emotions.”

That was an unusually complex answer, coming from Niel. “Okay?”

“Okay? You're not angry? Alright, let's see... you never really just scream, do you?”

L.Joe grimaced. He could raise his voice, but just screaming? Not angry shouting, but screaming? No.

“Try it.”

“I'm not going to start screaming just like that.”

“It's nice. When everything is going to shit, it's nice to just, let it out.” Niel took a deep breath.

“No, what are you, no!”

But there was no stopping him. “AAAAAH!” Niel started.

“Stop, stop! People will hear you across the street!” L.Joe hit his arm.

“So what?” Niel cheered. “Who cares? Come on, you do it too. AAAAAAAH!”

L.Joe buried his face in his hands.

“Hyung, hyung,” Niel insisted. “Come on!”

“Aaaah,” he tried behind his hands, but it was just a pathetic little whine, there was just no way...

“You're angry!” Niel said, sounding like a work-out coach. “You're sad! You're pissed off at whatever made you sad! This'll show them!”

“I can't,” L.Joe said. He physically couldn't.

“AAAAAAH!”

“Please stop! Niel!”

The door slammed open and Ricky jumped in, playfully ready to fight. “What's going on?”

“We're learning new ways to handle emotions,” Niel said. “You do it too. Let all the anger out! AAAAH!”

“AAAAAH!” Changjo joined in, from behind Ricky.

L.Joe heard CAP ask what the hell was going on.

Chunji pushed Ricky out of the way, also joining in, laughing. He and Changjo started bouncing up and down, shouting at each other.

“Oh my god, you've all gone crazy,” Ricky said, trapped by the crazies on one side, and CAP trying to look in on the other.

“Come on, come on!” Niel cheered. “CAP-hyung!”

CAP at least was a safe, sane person right? L.Joe looked over, but then CAP, like a happy, smiling frog, opened his mouth. “AAAAAH!” Not terribly loud, but still.

Ricky gave up and started waving his hands to the same beat as Changjo and Chunji were bouncing.

“Hyung!” Niel cheered. Changjo joined in. “Hyung, hyung, hyung!” They came to drag him off the bed so he quickly got up and fetched the pillow from the floor.

“It's easy!” Niel said. “You just open your mouth...” he opened his mouth wide.

L.Joe hit him in the face with the pillow.

Ricky collapsed in laughter.

“That's right!” Niel said, coming back up, pretending to be unfazed, wiping dust off his mouth. “Angry! We're angry!”

L.Joe laughed too. Niel was too outrageous. But now the other guys were just having fun together, forgetting about him, so he tried it again. This time he couldn't hear himself at all, the others were just too loud. So he did it a little louder. And a little louder again, but still wasn't sure if he was hearing himself or them.

“Yes! Yes!” Niel bounced around him. “Go! From the toes!” And he took a deep breath and shrieked above everyone else.

L.Joe hit him in the stomach, not very hard, just enough to make him stop making that horrific noise. And screamed a little louder, and there it was, he could hear it now. Joining in with Changjo and Chunji's happy roaring, he screamed until he couldn't breathe, then laughed so hard he cried at CAP waddling around wagging his head cutely, making weird noises.

It felt like the whole evening had passed when they were all finally collapsed on the floor, exhausted, at the same time. In waves, someone had gotten tired but been chased back up by the others.

“Food,” Chunji whined, not inclined to move.

“Food,” L.Joe agreed.

“Was there an actual reason for this, or are you just all crazy?” Ricky asked.

“L.Joe-hyung is learning new ways to deal with emotions,” Niel said. “His two previous modes of 'punch' or 'have sex with' seemed a little lacking.”

L.Joe fondly slapped his leg.

“Especially since it's the punching that means 'I love you',” Niel added, lifting an eyebrow at L.Joe's hand.

L.Joe laughed.

“What about both?” Changjo asked.

Chunji groaned.

“At the same time?” Changjo asked, for some reason invigorated by Chunji's protest. “Hyung, have you ever, yknow... tried it? Do you like it? Would you try it?”

Chunji tried to hit him but didn't reach.

L.Joe shook his head at the entire series of questions, embarrassed.

“If Lay-hyung was into that stuff, would you do it for him? Which do you think he'd be?”

“Lay-hyung has some bleeding disorder, I don't think it'd be a good idea.”

“Then, he'd have to be the one doing the punching,” Changjo stated.

Chunji cursed and dragged himself off the floor and disappeared, and a moment later sounds were coming from the kitchen.

“Did you just creep Chunji-hyung out so he would make food?” Niel asked. When Changjo nodded, Ricky and Niel gave him high-fives and made awed exclamations celebrating his cleverness.

“As a bonus,” Changjo said, “we now know this hyung also isn't into weird kinky stuff.”

L.Joe thought back to Minhyuk and smiled to himself. Sweet Changjo. There were a lot of shades of kinky.

While Chunji made food and the other guys cleaned up, L.Joe and Niel lay on their stomachs on the bed and L.Joe told Niel the whole conversation with Sungyeol.

“Aaaish,” Niel said, wide-eyed. “Don't you think you were too hard on him, hyung?”

“This is all his fault.”

Niel clearly didn't think so. “How would he know? And of course he'd tell his crush everything. You haven't told Lay-hyung any secrets?”

“No,” L.Joe said, because he hadn't.

“Really? But a boyfriend is supposed to be someone you share everything with. Like how it's not betraying confidence if you tell stuff to your wife; because she's part of you.”

Thinking of Baekhyun as a wife – as a bride in white – was too amusing. L.Joe snickered.

“Hyung,” Niel said, poking him. “Don't laugh. Because you and Lay-hyung kept secrets, he got into trouble with Baekhyun-hyung too. You're both at fault.”

“Baekhyun-hyung would never have found out if Sungyeol hadn't told Ray things.”

“And there wouldn't have been a problem with what he told Ray if Ray hadn't gone psycho bitch. If it's anyone's fault, it's that guy.”

L.Joe turned his head away. It didn't matter if it made sense or not, he was angry with Sungyeol all the same.

“You're such a bad guy,” Niel accused him. “Playing cool and getting pissed off. I'm not saying, but one could say that if you didn't go around blowing everyone, Ray would never have had a reason to go after you. Or if you kept better track of the people you hook up with, you might know why he's so pissed off.” He raised his hands when L.Joe glared at him. “I'm not saying! I'm just saying, that theoretically, that could be said!”

That was just confusing. L.Joe hit him for safety, but not very hard, it was more of a shove.

Niel rotated a little, getting their heads closer together. “So what will you do now?” he asked.

L.Joe sighed, thinking about it. Maybe the truth was that if he focused on being angry at Sungyeol, he didn't have to think about everything else. Was Ray done with his revenge, or did he have more bullshit in store? What had actually happened with Lay? Was he still with Lay? Had he ever been Lay's boyfriend, or had he just made it up? Niel said boyfriends shared secrets, but there were no secrets. L.Joe didn't know anything about him, really. For all the talking they'd done, he didn't know anything. Nothing except that Lay claimed to really like him, and allegedly cried and said he was lonely.

“Talking to Lay-hyung on the phone seems... not perfect,” Niel mused by himself. “On the other hand, what are Lay-hyung and Baekhyun-hyung doing now? Like, what is Baekhyun-hyung going to say?”

Everything. Nothing. L.Joe didn't know. Baekhyun was all weird about Lay, had been from the start, freaking out so bad from finding out L.Joe had blown him, and now freaking out even more finding out he was actually gay.

Did Baekhyun like Lay?

L.Joe couldn't compete with that. A member of the same group, someone he knew well and worked with and saw all the time, and Baekhyun was strictly a bottom; Lay would never have to take the risk, what with bleeding disorder and whatnot. Why go through all the trouble and risk to have a relationship with L.Joe if he could have one inside his own group?

“Hyung,” Niel called his attention. “What's going on inside your head? You have to use your words. Here, let me help, first you open your mouth...”

L.Joe swatted his hand away. “I'm just...” could he? “We never talked about relationships. Me and Lay-hyung. We just... I just assumed.”

“But you talk all the time. It's not like some random hook-up.”

“It's crazy to have a relationship in this business,” L.Joe said. “It's risky and difficult and... impossible. Maybe we're just...” Dating? Having an arrangement? Although Lay had said he didn't want just sex. Maybe he hadn't meant monogamy, love and eventually marriage as much as a convenient arrangement as friends with benefits. Like Baekhyun and Minho?

“Doesn't it make more sense that he's taking the risk of seeing you because he likes you?”

“We're just talking on the phone right now. And it's safer to meet the same guy than pick up strangers. Which he also does so he's not afraid of that. His company would probably just cover for him anyway...”

“Don't get bitter; focus,” Niel helped.

“I'm the one who went around to see him.” He paused. He hadn't thought about that either before now. L.Joe had chased him around all the time but what had Lay done? Gone to a party with his group, and gone to an apartment because Kai told him someone needed his help? “Maybe I'm just convenient.” The one and only L.Joe, the Hook-Up Club had said, maybe Lay could brag to his friends that... okay that didn't quite sound like him.

“Convenient?” Niel asked. “Chunji-hyung!”

Chunji stopped by the door looking tired. “What?”

“Do you think L.Joe-hyung is low maintenance?”

“Oh my god,” Chunji said. “How many ways can I say no? What was it in Russian again?”

“But you think I'm easy,” L.Joe said.

“Very easy,” Chunji agreed. “What's the maximum effort anyone's gone through to get blown?”

Uhnn.

“Go away you're not helping,” Niel told him, then turned back to L.Joe. “Oh no, now what?”

He was just some easy piece of ass. People said, call me, but not to talk international politics exactly. Even the ones who had seemed interested in him, somehow, like Kikwang or Hyuk, all he did was tell them off once and they let go. That easily. He wasn't someone anyone chased around and purued and had relationships with... he was just good at sex.

“Byunghunie-hyung,” Niel called. “I like you better when you're creepily happy. This isn't good at all. Can you at least be angry instead? Man, you're so short!”

L.Joe didn't have the energy to hit him. He just shook his head tiredly.

“Did you just figure out your dick is small? Is that why you're looking like that?”

Okay, fuck that. L.Joe kicked his shin. “I've seen yours and you've got nothing to say!”

“Some people are growers, not showers,” Niel said calmly. “How many times do I have to say it? U-s-e w-o-r-”

L.Joe pushed him. “I don't want to talk about this anymore. I'm tired. I don't know, okay? I don't know what I'm thinking, I can't make any sense of anything, I probably just imagined all of it because I...” He cut himself off. Because. “This is what you get for liking someone,” he said bitterly. “I should've just stuck to favors.”

“Whoa, okay, whoa,” Niel said. “Slow down, there. Can I ask you a question? Without being punched?”

L.Joe raised an eyebrow.

Niel either felt reassured or decided he was a big boy who could take a punch. “Do you want to be his boyfriend?"

Did he want to...? L.Joe stared at him. Of course. So much of course that he hadn't even thought about it. If Lay had offered him a ring back in Kai's secret apartment, he probably would just have put it on without asking a single question. Which wasn't entirely sensible, looking back. It was hard to say, though, difficult to get the words out, difficult to meet Niel's eyes at all. He just nodded. Yes.

“Then you should just ask him. You could call him and ask him to be your boyfriend, like, officially. I mean, between the two of you officially, not like call up MBC and have an announcement on the morning news. Either he'll say yes of course Byunghunie-baby, I thought you'd never ask, or he'll say no and then you know.”

Swallowing down a chuckle at Byunghunie-baby and how Lay would never say that, L.Joe shook his head.

“You can't? Oh right you have difficulties with words. Gimme your phone.”

“No!”

Niel tried to reach past him and feel his pocket on the opposite side, and L.Joe elbowed him in the ribs but he was probably used to that and didn't react too much. They rolled across the bed fighting until Niel managed to trap him by the wall.

“I can ask him for you,” he panted, trying to find a way to let go of L.Joe's arms without being murdered.

“Don't you dare...!”

“My hyung wants to go steady. He's ready for the real thing. He's almost learned how to handle emotions and shit, you better buy a ring...”

“I will fucking kill you!”

Niel looked him in the eye. “Hyung. Stop being a pissy bitch and do something about it.”

Muttering to himself, L.Joe managed to wring his arms free and push Niel away, adding only one punishment pinch.

“What did you say?” Niel asked.

“Not over the phone,” L.Joe repeated.

“CAP-hyung!” Niel called.

CAP's head appeared. He didn't even seem to notice their crumbled clothes and messed up hair. “Come eat,” he said.

“Hyung, when are EXO-M coming back?”

“They're joining Chen and Xiumin at the end of the week.”

"Alright, then." Niel turned to L.Joe. "Now we almost have a plan! Progress has been made!"

“Why do you know their schedule?” L.Joe demanded.

CAP smiled. “I'm dedicated to your happiness,” he said, laughed, and left.

When L.Joe looked at Niel, Niel looked unimpressed. “We all forced him to memorize it because none of us wanted to,” he said. “We figured whenever they were here, you'd be trying to sneak off all the time, so we might as well know and try to arrange things and cover for you.”

It was endearing and creepy that they were all so involved. “I...”

“Don't thank me. I expect the same dedication to my happiness, should I ever find the perfect girl,” Niel warned him. “As do the other guys.”

That's what he was worried about. “I was going to ask why you don't tell me about all your plans involving me,” L.Joe said.

Niel shrugged. “It just seems easier not to. And more fun.” He grinned.

L.Joe punched him in the chest.

“Ow! What did I do now?”

“Hm?” L.Joe said, getting off the bed. “Didn't you say that's how I say it?”

Following Niel towards the beckoning food, L.Joe studied the familiar back ahead of him. Had he just had a sort of deep and meaningful conversation with Niel? Niel? And the world wasn't on fire, and there were no flying pigs?

Huh.

Chapter Text

The day EXO-M flew in, Teen Top were busy. L.Joe considered calling Lay, then started wondering why Lay wasn't calling him, then decided to forget about the whole thing and just focus on what he was doing, because this dance was brutal. In the afternoon they drove to the broadcasting station to drop off Niel who was going for a solo interview. Through the glass lobby doors, L.Joe spotted a figure he thought he recognized.

“I can hang around here for a bit and wait for Niel, right?” he asked.

The managers looked mystified, but accepted it. CAP glared at him.

“Not if he was the last guy in the world,” L.Joe reminded him, giving CAP's shoulder a reassuring pat while he climbed over Ricky to get out of the car.

“So, friend, what...” Niel started.

“Hyung,” L.Joe reminded him.

“So, hyung,” Niel said, not bothering to fake disappointment, “what drew your attention, or should I ask who?”

L.Joe nodded towards a corridor. “I saw someone I need to talk to.”

Niel glanced over and his eyes went wide. “Oh, no, don't. Hyung...”

“I need to talk to him sometime.”

“Hyung.” Niel grabbed his arm, in a way he generally never did because normally L.Joe would kill him for daring to. “Don't make it worse!”

L.Joe's target disappeared around the corner, he didn't have time to argue. “Go do your show,” L.Joe told Niel and wrenched his arm free, discreetly to not make a scene in the lobby. “I'll be careful.”

Niel lingered, looking like he worried the world was about to fall on his head, while L.Joe made his way across the lobby and followed Ray into the maze of corridors.

He turned half a dozen times and went up two floors, before he was unsure where Ray had gone. Why was this place so huge? Eventually he had to resort to random wandering, hoping that Ray would show up again. Then he heard music. Sounded like some guys singing. He didn't know C-Clowns songs, it could be them. He navigated that way and opened an unmarked door.

The singing stopped. Five guys looked up at him. No, six, that was twins, not a mirror. “Hi?”

“Hi, sorry, wrong room,” L.Joe said. Almost turned on the spot, then thought better. “I'm looking for C-Clown, you know where they are?”

The guys looked around between each other. “Sorry,” someone said.

Another guy got up and came over. “I think I saw them,” he said. He tried to explain the way, but L.Joe couldn't keep track.

“Sorry to bother you but, could you just show me the first few turns...?”

The guy visibly hesitated for a second, taken aback, then smiled. “Okay, sure.”

They started walking, leaving the room behind. “I'm L.Joe,” L.Joe introduced himself.

“Jeongmin,” the guy said. “Teen Top, right? We're Boyfriend.”

Oh, right, of course, twins. L.Joe briefly wondered what everyone's fascination with twins was.

“They're bi.”

“What?” L.Joe said, trying to remember what he'd said.

Jeongmin smiled at him. “They're bisexual. The twins. So go for it if you want.”

“Both of them?” Because that sounded unlikely, somehow.

Jeongmin nodded. “They each prefer one gender, but go with both. I think it's a twin thing; they want their own thing so they kind of divided their bisexuality between each other.” He smiled again. “See you then.”

“What?” L.Joe stopped, but Jeongmin had already started going back. He quickly turned back and caught up. “Wait, wait, aren't you going to show me the way?”

Jeongmin looked surprised, then amused. “You don't have to pretend.”

“Pretend what?” L.Joe was dangerously close to getting annoyed, and he could hear it in his own voice. Ray would get away. But that wasn't this guy's problem, was it.

“Oh? I thought you just made up an excuse to talk to one of us, test the waters? What do you want with C-Clown?” He said it as if no reasonable person could ever really be looking for C-Clown.

It made L.Joe chuckle. “I just need a word with one of them. You thought I was testing the waters, so you told me about the twins? What about yourself?”

Jeongmin shrugged. “It's them people are interested in, generally.”

There wasn't a hint of bitterness in there. Even if L.Joe loved his members, he did get jealous of them, all the time, especially when it came to popularity. This guy was getting more intriguing by the second. “I'm more interested in you,” L.Joe said.

Jeongmin looked entirely taken aback.Then blushed deeply, but his lips still curled in a tiny, happy smile. He shook his head slightly. “Sorry,” he said. His eyes sparkled.

“Sorry, not into guys, or sorry, not into me? Because I can make a good case for either.”

Jeongmin laughed, delighted. “Let's hear it then.”

“You've heard what people say about me? Either way, I know what I'm doing.” L.Joe licked his lips mischivously. This guy's smile was divine. He let his eyes do the drop. “I really know what I'm doing,” he said, letting his eyes climb up, wrapping the words in promise. “No one's ever had complaints, and neither will we.”

Jeongmin laughed again, squirming, but happy to be there all the same. “Which one was that the case for?”

“Both,” L.Joe said calmly. Even if Jeongmin's response was great in one way, he wasn't getting the right feeling back. Jeongmin was happy and amused and flattered – but L.Joe was starting to get convinced that he wasn't actually interested. Which meant he was wasting time, not looking for Ray. “So either punch the ticket or get off the bus.”

That hit something in Jeongmin. His expression became thoughtful. “I'm sorry, I'm holding you up, weren't you looking for someone,” he said.

“C-Clown,” L.Joe said.

“Right. This way.” Jeongmin took off ahead of him. L.Joe had to hurry up or be left behind. After a confusing amount of turns, Jeongmin gestured down a corridor. “That way.”

L.Joe thought he could see a door marked C-Clown over there. “Thanks,” he said.

“You'll find your way back?”

No way. But he'd ask someone. “I'll be fine.” He eyed Jeongmin. “Sorry if I freaked you out.”

“No, no!” Jeongmin smiled and waved his hands. “It's not like that. It was nice to meet you. Hope to see you again.”

L.Joe went the way he'd pointed. He thought Jeongmin was still standing back there when he opened C-Clown's door and went inside, but he wasn't sure.

They weren't there. The room was empty. There was just a scattering of possessions and clothes and makeup, like in every idol waiting room ever. L.Joe exited and almost hit Ray with the door. An ironic reversal of the way they'd first met.

“What are you doing here?” Ray demanded.

L.Joe had decided to be calm about this, but seeing Ray lit the fire again. He grit his teeth and the anger flushed away whatever he'd been planning to say.

“Did you go through our things?” Ray tried to push him out of the way to get into the room.

The physical contact was flame to gunpowder. L.Joe shoved him back recklessly, slammed him into the opposite wall of the corridor. The look on Ray's face, the indignant surprise, was infuriating. Just because he was taller, he thought L.Joe couldn't beat him? Well, L.Joe had a lot of experience punching up. So...

“Hi.”

L.Joe glared at Jeongmin before managing to reign it back in.

“Can you believe this guy?” Ray said. “Thinks he can bully us because he's a sunbae.”

Clever little fucking... memories flashed by of people scolding him, because he punched first, because he had to. If he didn't, the bigger guys won. And they always did this; turned the blame on him, made him the bad guy, why did he never learn...

“Oh? Because to me it looked like you shoved first,” Jeongmin said calmly. “L.Joe-sunbae, let's continue, he's obviously not here.”

Ray's eyes narrowed.

“There's another place we can check,” Jeongmin said, taking L.Joe's arm and leading him back through the corridor.

“I don't need your help,” were the first words that managed to pass over L.Joe's lips.

Jeongmin chuckled. “No, but that guy did. He thought he could fight you, and he was about to end up with some pretty painful bruises in the right places. I know that look. I know guys like you.”

L.Joe wondered what that meant.

“Pretty stupid of him to start something in a public place like that. But then C-Clown never had style or class.”

“You talk about all your colleagues like that?” L.Joe asked. He didn't think C-Clown deserved that, not the other guys who surely weren't in on whatever Ray's personal crusade was about.

Jeongmin smiled at him, unfazed. “Teen Top's not exactly classy either.”

Was he teasing? Or provoking? Or just this ballsy? L.Joe liked him. “But we got style.”

“I'll admit that. Seems to be working out fine for you,” Jeongmin said. “So what did that guy do to piss you off so much? I assume you were looking for him.”

L.Joe grimaced. “I was going to talk it out.”

“No use talking to barbarians,” Jeongmin said. “C'mon tell me what he did before I die of curiosity.”

It was a little difficult to explain to a stranger. “He thinks I did something that pissed him off, but I'm not sure what it is,” L.Joe said. “I was going to ask. He's dedicated a lot of time and effort to fuck up my life.”

Jeongmin laughed. “Really? An honest to god vendetta? In real life? You should be flattered.”

“Flattered,” L.Joe snorted. “Yeah, very.” Technically this might be his second vendetta, he considered, briefly running a finger over the scar on his left lower rib. It felt like his fingertip tingled with the memory. “I have a scar right here from the last one.”

“A scar? Seriously?”

L.Joe lifted his shirt unglamourously and let him see it.

“Wah,” Jeongmin said, even bending down to look at it closer. “You must be the most interesting guy I've ever met,” he said, standing up again. “In the,” he pretended to check a wristwatch he didn't have, “half hour since we met you've not only shown zero interest in the twins, you also tried to seduce me, got into a fight, told me you have a personal nemesis, and that your last nemesis stabbed you in the chest. Is this what they teach you in the States? What did you do to him, shoot him and dump him in the river?”

“I wasn't stabbed,” L.Joe said, smiling. “And I wish I could have shot him and dumped him in the river.”

“I hope you did something.”

Certainly not enough. He said nothing.

“I guess a guy like you would be able to wreck someone's life and have no idea,” Jeongmin said. “You probably screw a guy before lunch and have enough to do that by evening you don't rememeber him.”

“No, no,” L.Joe protested. “I remember.”

Jeongmin looked over at him, interested. “Every one? I assume there's been a number.”

“I remember,” L.Joe assured him. He still remembered their taste, the unique feel of each person, what turned them on and what didn't. “I like to remember.” Smiled, and got one in return.

“Hm, you're still young. In ten years you won't remember,” Jeongmin stated.

“I will,” L.Joe insisted.

“Tell me who was the best one?”

L.Joe grinned. “Me.”

Eyes glittering again, Jeongmin laughed. “Of course, of course. Aside from you.” When L.Joe opened his mouth, Jeongmin shot him a hard glare. “And don't you dare say some bullshit about not comparing. Of course you compare. Everyone compares.”

L.Joe licked his lips and reconsidered. The best one. “I'm not a reliable source,” he said. “I'm biased.”

“Shouldn't you be the most unbiased?”

“There's,” L.Joe bit his lower lip. Hm. What was Lay to him now? Did he love Lay? “Emotions. Involved.”

“No way, not you?” Jeongmin thought about it. “I don't think you'd be influenced. If someone like you says a person is the best, I'll believe it, emotions or no.”

Ray had said... but Ray was of course the very poster child of biased in the question. “He's not out among his members, so I don't know if I can tell you. But he's in EXO.”

“EXO?” Jeongmin looked impressed for some reason.

“We were... it's complicated, but we were, we are, kind of, together.”

“Together? You're boyfriends with an EXO?”

“Like I said, complicated.”

“Bound to be if he's not out.” Jeongmin eyed him, looking him over as if he saw him with new eyes. “Doesn't this kind of make you the rags to riches commoner who bags a crown prince?”

“What?” L.Joe said. Demanded. What?

“EXO are like the crown princes of Kpop.” Jeongmin lifted his hand, showing the height of his belly button. “Reguar idols.” Lifted his hand to chest level. “SM idols.” Finally held it over his head. “EXO popularity, lately. I mean, the exodus really happened to all other groups, when everyone emigrated and became EXO fans. SuJu and TVXQ are old gods, and SHINee the old kings but EXO must be the undoubted crown princes.”

L.Joe was staring at him through the whole rant. Not only was it all ridiculous, but also, “Why am I a commoner!?” he demanded.

Jeongmin laughed. “It was meant as a compliment. Isn't that person more likeable anyway, in movies? The common guy who gets ahead in the world on his skills and wits instead of being born with a title and having it all handed to him.”

That sounded like an excuse if L.Joe had ever heard one. Jeongmin was, well, saying things like that C-Clown had no class. “Whatever,” he decided.

“Hm but isn't it more like you're his secret mistress, since you can't actually...”

“Mistress?!?”

Jeongmin laughed happily. L.Joe punched his arm, then wondered if it was okay. “Ow,” Jeongmin said and looked vaguely hurt.

“Fine, I'm the crown prince's mistress,” L.Joe said, sticking his chin out, challenging. “You really want to fuck with me? Piss me off?”

Jeongmin rolled his eyes. “Already pulling rank,” he said. “You were probably a bully in school, weren't you.”

L.Joe wondered if Jeongmin had been. But Jeongmin was rubbing his arm grumpily. “You can't take one punch?”

“I don't like violence,” Jeongmin admitted.

“Really? 'Cause I would think you make people want to punch you all the time.”

“I do,” Jeongmin said, not missing a beat. “But they usually can't bring themselves to punch this pretty face.” He put a hand under his chin and made a pose.

L.Joe laughed and cringed and laughed again.

This guy was easy to talk to. They'd already walked a while, and now, when L.Joe looked around a little, suspicion suddenly rose. They weren't going back the same way. They might not be going back at all; rather, they were heading deeper into the maze. He glanced at Jeongmin, but Jeongmin had started talking about some movie he'd seen... oh wait, this movie. “Ah, that one, it wasn't great.”

“No, right? Everyone's so worked up over it, but it was so bad.”

“Did you see the other one? The one with...”

“Mm, that was much better. I can't believe more people went to see this, when that was so great. People have no taste.”

They chatted on before Jeongmin found a door and opened it, looking around as if he expected papparazzi around the corners. This wasn't Boyfriend's dressing room. L.Joe wasn't sure what it was, some kind of office or meeting room, with a few small tables surrounded by chairs. As soon as they were inside, Jeongmin turned and rested his back against the door, hand on the handle.

L.Joe raised his eyebrows in a question.

“So,” Jeongmin said. “I don't usually do this, but...” He considered. “You're the most interesting person I've ever met, and you're not like other idols. And all this talking made me curious how you managed to seduce an EXO. Those guys have a ton to lose. So,” he gestured, slightly nervous, “either I lock this door, or we leave and I take you back and we'll never speak of this again.”

“I don't think it's a good idea,” L.Joe said.

“Oh? What changed your mind? Or maybe you were never serious.” Jeongmin looked embarrassed.

“I was. But it's been fun talking. And I don't hook up with friends.”

Jeongmin's eyebrows went up and he came away from the door. “You worry it'll get messy,” he understood.

L.Joe nodded.

“You don't have to worry about me.” Jeongmin smiled. “I'm not the freaking out type. And you've already noticed I say what I think, so there'll be no playing games.”

Doing stuff like this was probably what had caused problems with Ray. Somehow. Although L.Joe still had no idea what or who it concerned. But this guy was intriguing, and comfortable, and all the things that made him a potential good friend also made L.Joe really want to blow him. Risks were part of life. “Just because I do this one time...”

“I'm not an idiot,” Jeongmin said, sounding insulted at being given the speech.

L.Joe laughed. “Alright.”

“So, how do I...?”

L.Joe gestured to a chair. “You want to sit down?”

Jeongmin looked relieved at getting instructions. He really didn't do this normally. L.Joe wondered briefly if 'this' meant casual sex, or guys, or other idols, or in a public place, or what. Then Jeongmin slumped into the chair, spreading his legs, picking at his sleeve nervously, and it was so cute to see this sharp-tongued friend cautiously expectant and vulnerable like this, L.Joe forgot all other concerns. Smiling, he kneeled between Jeongmin's legs and let his palms ride his hard, tight thighs, checking if Jeongmin was okay with this.

Getting no warning signals, L.Joe hooked his fingers in the waist and worked the button open. Licking his lips and flicking his hair to the side, L.Joe made a show of it, enjoying Jeongmin's hesitant gaze on him and feeling it warm up, the same way Jeongmin's body was heating up under his touch. Jeongmin's legs jumped a little when L.Joe's digging hand found his cock and squeezed gently.

“You can close your eyes and think about someone else,” L.Joe said, as he did with straight guys, since he wasn't sure what Jeongmin was.

Jeongmin quietly shook his head.

Jeongmin's cock fit comfortably into his hand, like the two were old friends. L.Joe wondered if it would fit the same way in his mouth. He felt up Jeongmin's leg again, that long, smooth leg right to his side, humming appreciatively. He liked this position best, for blowjobs, having the guy's legs around him like this, encircling him, half trapped and half safely surrounded. And it forced them into making an explicit choice; they could just close their legs and shove him out, but instead they had to spread and invite him, exposing themselves in every sense. If anyone ever had doubts that the person giving could be the one in control, this way made it even clearer.

“Ahh,” Jeongmin said, quickly biting his lip and glancing at the door. L.Joe didn't want him to have enough attention to worry about anything else. He leaned in hungrily and gulped Jeongmin's cock down in one quick go, holding his hip down to make sure he didn't buck up in surprise.

“Fuck,” Jeongmin breathed, “you, you look like a million dollars down there.”

L.Joe smiled at him, coming up to give him a patented glance through his lashes. “You don't look so bad either, from down here,” he murmured.

Jeongmin groaned when L.Joe licked him back into his mouth. “Why would anyone ever want to close their eyes,” he asked, as if it completely surpassed his comprehension.

L.Joe chuckled and went back to work.

“Ah, ah shit, you don't screw around do you...” Jeongmin moaned and laughed at the same times. “I guess that's what you do,” he corrected himself. “Oh, ah, again, that...”

When L.Joe picked up the pace, Jeongmin put a hand over his own mouth as if afraid he'd make too much noise. The response L.Joe was getting was amazing, and Jeongmin was closing fast. With one hand snuck under his shirt, feeling his abs work, L.Joe sucked harder and expected it. There it was. That delicious ripple. Groaning into his fist, Jeongmin came. L.Joe trapped most of the warm, sticky spurt in his hands, but a few drops still got on the floor.

Shit, L.Joe should start bringing tissues wherever he went. While Jeongmin's lanky body melted back to lean against the table, L.Joe looked around for something to clean up with. There were little tablecloths on the tables, just a few decimeters squared, there wasn't anything better. Suddenly Jeongmin's hand was pushing his hair aside.

L.Joe shot him a glance but couldn't swat him away, both his hands were dirty. “Don't mess up my hair.”

“Sassy.” Jeongmin's hand stayed. “I won't mess it up, just let me look at your for a second.”

L.Joe pulled the tablecloth off the table and stayed where he was, squatting between Jeongmin's legs. The way he was being watched, he could stay there all day. Jeongmin seemed to consider himself someone who knew style and class and whatever else he'd said, which only added to the gratification. He cleaned his hands and the floor and balled up the flimsy cloth and threw it in a corner. Someone else's problem now.

“Are you done?” he asked Jeongmin. They couldn't stay all day, someone might have seen them go this way, or someone might... wait, had he, “Did you lock the...?”

The door opened.

 

Chapter Text

L.Joe had prepared for this. He'd been behind enough locked doors doing things he shouldn't, to have thought long and hard about what to do if he got interrupted. All those thoughts went to hell though. He just froze up, and noticed Jeongmin's hand leaving his hair – he'd forgotten it was there – and stared at the door dumbly.

A person threw a quick glance into the room before turning their head outside and coming in, shoulder first, looking out into the corridor. That long, strong neck...

Lay closed the door behind him as he turned back into the room again, and L.Joe saw the change in his face. He was finally understanding what he was seeing. Jeongmin had buttoned up and was getting out of the chair, casually enough, and L.Joe slowly stood up with a feeling of being outside of himself, watching the scene from the side.

The longest second in the world passed, before Lay made a visible decision and bowed to Jeongmin, greeting him politely.

“I didn't know EXO was here?” Jeongmin said.

“No, no, only me,” Lay said. Glanced over at L.Joe. “Do you mind going outside? I would like to speak to L.Joe.”

“You can speak to me now,” L.Joe said. Why was he saying that? What was he saying?

Lay was studying the two of them, not so amused, a little crease forming between his eyebrows. “I came here to talk to you,” he said. “It is also about other people. If you can't talk now, maybe later?”

“You can say it in front of him,” L.Joe said. What was he doing? “This is my Boyfriend.”

Like expected, Jeongmin didn't freak out, only smiled, amused and a little surprised.

L.Joe hadn't known this about himself. He'd thought he was the type of guy who'd definitely not play games and be difficult, but the instant Lay had shown himself in the room, he'd turned grumpy like a moody, spoiled teenager. Especially that polite bow had pissed him off. Who bowed? Who found their boyfriend between the legs of another guy, and bowed?!? The answer was; someone who didn't think of that person as their boyfriend. L.Joe defiantly met Lay's eyes.

Lay made another decision, this one uncharacteristically fast. He walked over to Jeongmin. “Please wait outside,” he said calmly. Still extremely polite, but in a way that couldn't be refused.

Jeongmin licked his lips, no doubt tempted to answer, but chose to leave. L.Joe almost called him back, but at the door, Jeongmin turned and called Lay's attention. “Boyfriend,” he said, “as in the group, Boyfriend. Not boyfriend.” He smiled and left.

The scowl cleared from Lay's face. L.Joe's heart gave a weak thump, a little happy skip that whispered, 'people who don't think of a person as their boyfriend, don't care if they're boyfriends with someone else'. He fidgeted nervously when Lay turned towards him again. Dammit why did he have to be like this! He wiped his palms on his jeans, then his mouth with the back of his hand. Jeongmin's taste on his tongue felt like bitter black ink, but he couldn't dig up the mint case now, that would look terrible. Feel terrible.

Suddenly tears were burning behind his eyelids. How would he have felt if the situation was reversed, if L.Joe had walked in on Lay? What if Lay actually felt this way about him, had just made a mistake or Ray had lied or whatever! What if, what if that was how Lay felt now?

Lay came over. “Baekhyun has been very strange since he met you,” he said. “Angry at me, all the time. Do you know why?”

God, Baekhyun hadn't told him anything. If he'd only known to shut up before. But L.Joe was still grateful. At least he got to have this talk cleanly, without Baekhyun's input coloring Lay's thoughts.

“You want to talk about Baekhyun?” L.Joe asked.

Lay nodded. “And,” he added, somewhat hesitantly, “no messages,” he said. “Mm, sometimes we don't message for a long time, but, this was... very long.”

L.Joe shoved his hands in his pockets to stop fiddling.

“Are you also angry at me?”

Yes. No. Mostly angry at himself, but it leaked. Lay sat down on Jeongmin's chair, and L.Joe grabbed him and dragged him off it. Lay looked confused, and a little tired of the weirdness. “Last time you were back, did you... did you hook up with someone?” L.Joe asked, voice eerily casual.

Lay considered. Long enough that L.Joe thought he'd lie, or maybe Ray had been lying, but then he said, “Ah yes, this young new singer, he had the same name as me.” Then watched in helpless horror as L.Joe started crying. Looking like disaster had struck from nowhere, he came forward and pulled L.Joe into a hug and refused to let him go.

It took L.Joe a minute to gather himself and wipe his eyes. Meanwhile Lay guided him over to a different table so they could sit down.

“Should I not have hooked up,” Lay asked. Although it was more of a statement.

“I don't know,” L.Joe said. “Should you?”

“I don't mean... but you also,” Lay said and gestured behind himself, at the door Jeongmin had left through.

“I didn't,” L.Joe said. “Not before. When I found out that you... then I did. I don't know why, it was stupid, but...” he shrugged. It seemed really childish now. Pointless.

Suddenly Lay was smiling, making an awed, amazed little noise. “Really?” Smiled even more when L.Joe glared at him. “For me?” Then it seemed to dawn on him. “But I didn't. Ah. I... I didn't think that you... wanted to.”

“I said it wasn't just sex.”

“Of course not,” Lay said, simply.

“Was it just with Ray?”

Lay nodded. “Yes.”

“And that was okay? I thought you didn't do just.”

“Hm? Everyone seems to do, here, ever since I came.” He looked perplexed. “I didn't want just with you, that's what I meant. Or, I meant, I wanted more with you. Mmm, I explain poorly. I don't like being touched, I don't do just sex, these things you think, if I explained better...” he shook his head with frustration.

L.Joe wanted to kiss him, but he couldn't do it with Jeongmin's taste still in his mouth. He tried to dig up the mint case without Lay noticing. He knew exactly what to do now; it had seemed impossible when Niel had suggested it, but now it made perfect sense. Hyung?”

“Mm?”

“I want to be your boyfriend. I want... I want that when someone asks me, hey, you wanna go out sometime, I can say, sorry, I'm taken, I'm EXO Lay's boyfriend. And someone'll ask you, hey, who's that handsome guy, and you'll say, oh that's Teen Top's L.Joe, my boyfriend.” It was crazy. If he'd tried to say this to another person, he'd die of embarrassment, but this person made him feel like nothing was embarrassing. Although Lay seemed surprised. “You don't want to?” It had felt like Lay really liked him, there hadn't been a doubt in his mind, but this hesitation was sending prickles of fear over his skin.

Lay looked around while he thought about it, a little impatiently, like the ideas were already there but he was frustrated by the filter of language. “I do want to,” he said.

“But you want to screw other guys.” L.Joe bit his tongue. He didn't know why he sounded so angry, because he wasn't angry.

“Not if it makes you unhappy,” Lay said. Nodded, like he was agreeing with his statement after the fact. “But you...”

He still looked doubtful about something. L.Joe finally managed to get a mint out of the case and popped it into his mouth when he thought Lay wasn't looking. “But what?”

Lay opened his mouth, then closed it. Then closed his eyes briefly gathering himself, and suddenly L.Joe saw it. He wasn't frustrated, he was making that face because he was controlling himself, pushing back expressions.

He'd watched videos of Lay, before Baekhyun's little hook-up club meeting. Sometimes to get to know him, sometimes to miss him a little less, sometimes because he missed him too much. In most of them, unless dancing, Lay was quiet and guarded and gave small, handsome reactions, at the most laughing. That was the public version of Lay, the polite, hardworking, humble person. But in one or two he'd seen glimpses of something else. Bigger reactions, unguarded expressions, still polite but more curious, adventurous, spontaneous; joking and daring to take space and relax in it. Was this the private Lay that EXO got to see? L.Joe sure hadn't gotten any of it. Not even when stretched out next to each other that perfect day, talking about songs and hearts and sex, had Lay been that relaxed around him.

Why? L.Joe felt more like himself when he was with Lay than he did when alone. It left a huge gaping hole of despair in him to think that Lay didn't feel the same. He shyly took Lay's hand and it felt weird and awkward to do it, and they sat at an awkward distance so their hands ended up hanging in the air uncomfortably.

“Hyung,” L.Joe said. Squeezed his hand and smiled despite himself at the feeling of Lay squeezing back. Okay, he'd practiced this. “Zhang Yixing.” Lay's eyes widened slightly. “I like you a lot and I want you to be my boyfriend.” Oh god it was so easy to say. It just poured out.

For a moment he smiled at the feeling of saying it, because he'd thought it would be more difficult, or feel strange, or even hurt, but it didn't, it ran like clear cold water from a spring. Then he saw it in Lay's eyes.

“You don't believe me?”

Lay cast his eyes down, troubled.

L.Joe let go of his hand. “Why!?” he demanded. What had he done to earn mistrust? “I'm sorry about Jeongmin but you too... and we weren't really exclusive anyway were we, it was just something I imagined! Why, I haven't... what have I done?”

“Is it true?” Lay asked.

“Yes! Yes it's true! Why would I say it if I didn't...!”

“Last time, you said it was the first time,” Lay said slowly, sounding like he didn't really want to say it at all. “But CAP was your first time.”

“That is not...!” L.Joe flew up from the chair. Fuck Sungyeol and Baekhyun and their fucking inability to keep things to themselves, Lay must have heard that from them!

“Did they lie? Did you not say that?” Lay demanded, ready to fight once forced out of passivity.

“I never... you're my first! Screw those guys!” L.Joe shouted.

“They told me because they thought I should know.”

“They don't know anything! I told Sungyeol... fuck what I told Sungyeol, you believe Sungyeol or me?!”

Lay hesitated slightly. “Baekhyun...”

“Fuck Baekhyun!” L.Joe stomped his foot in frustration. “It's a misunderstanding!”

“Then what did you tell them?”

What the fuck does that matter, I...” Lay should believe him, that's what liking someone meant, right? Putting that person first, believing them over anyone else. L.Joe forced his fisted hands to uncurl and took a breath. Mature, he was a mature, responsible adult. “I told Sungyeol that CAP offered to do it and that I had sex with him. And I did, I had sex with CAP but not like that. Not like with you. You're my first. And it wasn't even, I had to, with CAP, it was because of you, I had to.”

“Had to?” Lay scowled, coming closer, reaching for him.

“No, no! Not like that. I had to... fix something. Something with me was broken and I thought CAP could fix it. But it was stupid, it didn't work... I don't know if I can be fixed.” He bit his lip. Putting words on that fear didn't make it smaller, like people said it would, it only made it bigger, threatening to overtake him, making his breath catch and scratch his throat.

“Fixed?” Lay finally reached him and took his elbows gently.

“I will tell you,” L.Joe promised. “But not here, not like this.”

“So CAP,” Lay said, “is not a boyfriend.”

L.Joe smiled. “No.”

“And this one?”

“Jeongmin? No. That was just a joke.” The worst joke in the world, no less.

“And all the ones before?”

“Absolutely not.”

“This is only you and I. Boyfriends.”

“Only us,” L.Joe promised.

“Okay.”

No, it wasn't okay. There was something going on. Something that made Lay's eyes seem like tears were hiding behind the beautiful surface. L.Joe kissed him, willing him to understand his emotions. ”I like you, only you,” he whispered against Lay's lips. Lay latched onto his mouth like the words hurt and only kissing would make it better.

Slowly, slowly, with each kiss, Lay's body relaxed, his kisses became less desperate and rushed. Finally they were just making out, Lay's hands on his body, L.Joe digging his fingers into Lay's back pockets to keep them from wandering.

“I really,” L.Joe said, “really, really, honestly, absolutely...” Lay was chuckling into his shoulder. “... very much, more than anyone else, like you.”

Lay gave up a tiny sigh, more like a whimper. “It's just words.” Breathlessly.

L.Joe froze.

Lay stared into his eyes, his own comically wide, as if he hadn't meant to say it, didn't know that he had. “Byunghun-ah...”

If he stayed here he would cry. He turned out of Lay's arms and headed for the door.

“Byunghun-ah!”

The tears fell before he got his hand on the handle. People often didn't believe him. They believed it when he made threats or offhand remarks, but not when he tried to be sincere. They just laughed at him or accused him of being cheesy or playing games, so he was used to being hurt whenever he tried to open up, it had become a habit somehow, but he'd thought it would be different with Lay. Stupid. Like they were somehow connected in some special way. Bullshit. His knuckles whitened around the door handle.

“Byunghun!” Lay caught up with him. “Wait. I...”

L.Joe shoved him away. “You want to know? The truth? This scar, it's, he tried to, he hit me to make me lie still after he tore my shirt, he was going to...” He couldn't say it. Couldn't. It would crush him. “I wanted to sleep with you but I kept remembering, I was freaking out, so I thought CAP could do it and I wouldn't be so fucking scared anymore.” Something new was entering Lay's eyes, something L.Joe had never seen before. “And now Ray? That fucking kid you fucked,” L.Joe sniffed and wiped his eyes carelessly with the sleeve of his sweater, “he came to our meeting. He was pissed off about something. He fucking seduced you to get to me. Do you understand? He slept with you to hurt me, and came there and told it to my face! This guy I met, he said,” L.Joe had to fight to keep his voice loud, the air was being pressed out of his lungs at the memory, “he curses in Chinese, and he can keep at it for a long time, and he whines when you suck on his lip, do you know him? That's what he said, in front of the other guys. And I just sat there and...” His air ran out. Stupid goddamned tears wouldn't stop.

Lay's eyes grew distant for a moment. Then, quiet, hard words in Chinese, and “He is here, I saw him, I know where he is.” Lay swept past him and went out the door.

Oh fuck.

Still crying, L.Joe tried to swallow down the tears and wiped his eyes repeatedly, increasingly stressed out as new ones just kept coming, until finally, it felt like an hour later, they stopped. It had probably only been a minute. He rushed out the door.

“Trouble?” Jeongmin asked, glancing around.

He was still there? “Where did Lay go?”

Jeongmin nodded in a direction. “Have you been crying?”

That was a fucking stupid question. L.Joe's face was red and puffy and his eyeliner smudged, he might as well have been wearing a sign. “Take me back to C-Clown's room.”

“I don't...”

“Now, please!”

Jeongmin took a step back. “Alright, okay, calm down. This way.”

They rushed through a series of corridors, all blurred together. Bumped into some people, L.Joe didn't register who. Then they were back there, at the door, and just in time to see Lay open it and go inside.

“Ooooh man,” Jeongmin said.

“Oh fuck,” L.Joe agreed.

They basically stopped by grabbing the door handle and opening it at the same time as they slid sideways, sneakers screaming against the floor. L.Joe got his head inside just as Lay stood up. Bowing, he'd been bowing, this stupid, polite hyung, how could he be bowing in a situation like this!

At the other end of the room, most of C-Clown were bunched up in a couch, looking like they'd been playing around, while a few others stood scattered around it, everyone staring at Lay with great surprise, some of them bowing back. Even more confusion arose from L.Joe and Jeongmin's chaotic arrival.

“Hyung,” L.Joe said, coming up to Lay. His hand froze in the air by Lay's elbow as his eyes scanned the room for Ray. “Oooooh,” he heard himself say stupidly, as everything clicked into place. Because another guy in the room looked awfully familiar.

Ray was at the bottom of the pile of people in the couch, his face stuck in a weird grimace, having been smiling and laughing a few seconds ago but now darkening with worry. He pushed at his members, trying to get up.

“Hello again?” Rome said to Lay, giving L.Joe and Jeongmin curious glances.

“Hello,” Lay said. “Did your performance go well?”

“Very well, thank you.”

L.Joe felt like he was on a movie set. The polite conversation was so normal, it felt surreal. The C-Clown guys had clearly met Lay before. Did they all know that he and Ray had...? His eyes met with the only member besides Ray that he knew, who smiled and gave him a concealed once-over. Suddenly L.Joe felt a little sorry for Ray.

“Kang Jun!”

Kang Jun glanced over at Ray, who had caught that look. “Hm?”

Now everyone were staring at Ray. Ray's hands curled into fists. Shooting Jun a murderous eye, he turned away and gathered himself.

Rome exchanged another few pleasantries with Lay. “I'm sorry to be the one to say this,” Lay said, “but I think I should tell you that one of your members have been... making problems.”

“My members?” Rome looked at the bunch of them, who all made innocent faces and looked around at the others. Only Ray stood where he was, and if this had really been a movie, this was where they'd add special effects to make darkness surround him like a black cloud. Rome looked torn between defending his dongsaengs or apologizing, probably sensing that something was wrong.

“Because he made others' secrets known, I will have to do the same to his,” Lay said.

Ray's gaze, drilling hateful holes in L.Joe's head, shifted at once into fear. If dark before, he paled now, staring at Lay like his eyes alone could stop him from speaking. Jun saw his expression and seemed to realize this revelation would involve him too. Smiling nervously he tried to fade away into the back.

“Who...” Rome looked at his members again, and realized he didn't need to ask that question. “Jun? Hyunil, what is he talking about? Guys?”

Ray shook his head.

“Come on, this isn't,” Jun started, then gave up, plopping down onto the couch.

“If you tell on me,” Ray said slowly, glaring at Lay, “everyone will know about you too.”

“This is my boyfriend,” Lay said, nodding at L.Joe. Not a second's hesitation. L.Joe blushed, from sheer surprise if nothing else. “That one,” he said, giving a somewhat apologetic nod at Ray, “tried to break us up by sleeping with me.”

C-Clown looked like a bomb had blown up in their faces. “You did what?” T.K. demanded.

Rome half laughed half coughed. “You're joking?” It was more a plea than a question.

Lay shook his head a little. “I know that you didn't know about him, because that is how he approached me. My members also don't know about me. We talked about that together. That it is difficult, not knowing what they will think.”

“You're going to pay for this!” Ray shouted at him, but Rome grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

“Haven't you done enough! What the hell... what...” Rome bit his lip, not wanting to freak out in front of his members, knowing he was the oldest and had to keep them together.

Rome pushing him put Ray right in front of Jun, who suddenly came out of the couch. “You slept with him?!” he demanded, hitting Ray's arm to make him face him.

“What's it to you!” Ray shouted back.

Jun looked completely thrown off by the outburst. “Nothing,” he said, trying to put on a careless face, but Ray burst into tears with a shocked, helpless gasp, and sat down. Jun looked miserable instead. “Not nothing,” he admitted reluctantly. “Hey, stop crying, I'm sorry.”

“The reason he didn't tell you,” Lay said calmly, carefully, like he was telling them for their own good, “is that he likes someone. And that someone was letting him do things, as long as he pretended not to like him.”

Everyone else's eyes moved to Jun, but L.Joe looked at Lay. This calm, peaceful creature, he was quite a merciless beast underneath, wasn't he. Some would have been satisfied with the revenge of outing Ray to his members, but Lay just kept kicking. Did people know, did his members know, about the wolf beneath the sheep's clothing?

“No, no, I...” Jun waved his hands defensively, desperately. “It's not like that! I didn't know... you like me?” he asked Ray. L.Joe believed him, his desperate face, the shocked tone of his voice.

Ray grit his teeth. “How many?” he asked.

“What?”

“How many people have you fucked,” he hissed through clenched teeth, “while I was...”

“What? It's not like...”

“Did you go from my mouth in the morning to his at lunch?” Ray gestured widely at L.Joe.

Finally Jun seemed to understand. “That wasn't...”

“I saw his picture on your phone!” Ray yelled, not crying anymore because he was too angry.

“Yes, yes, okay,” Jun said, glancing around nervously at the members once, “I'm a horny guy, you know that.” The members stepped in, separating them, roused from their confusion by a familiar situation of members fighting. “That's not, I'm not, I didn't know you liked me!”

“Would I have done the things we did if I didn't like you?!”

“How am I supposed to know that?” Jun shouted back. “I thought, maybe he just likes sex, it's not like I'm going to question getting off!”

“You're a fucking idiot!”

Did I ever say I wasn't?! I'm sorry! But you could have told me!”

“Shut up!” Rome pointed at each of them in turn. “Lower your voices! Do you want the entire building to know? We are going to talk about this back at the dorm. Sort it out. But for now, shut the fuck up.”

Ray collapsed into a nearby chair again, burrowing his head under his arms.

Rome opened his mouth to speak, at the same time as Lay, but Jun was faster than both.

“It's not like I can run around like that, it's not safe. It was just him, it was just for fun.”

“You always come back bragging about this girl or that girl,” Maru pointed out, getting nods from T.K. and Siwoo.

“It's just talk,” Jun said. Carefully closed in on Ray and squatted in front of him. “I didn't think you cared, you were always so flippant about it. But I don't have to, I'll stop.

“You're straight,” Ray told him, coldly, back in control of himself.

Jun made a face like he was apologizing for it. “I still love you,” he said.

Ray's head went down again.

“We will not have problems with your members again.” Lay told Rome.

Rome stared at him like he was some sort of alien. Maybe wondering, like L.Joe did, how Lay could be so calm and unaffected. L.Joe was feeling sorry for Ray, all the anger was gone. It was too close to his situation with Chunji; it hurt to see them circle each other like this, balancing precariously on the edge of friendship.

“You won't,” Rome assured Lay. Behind him, Siwoo was speaking softly to Ray while Maru dragged Jun aside to give Ray some space to breathe.

“Thank you,” Lay said. “Good luck in the future.” Bowed and left.

Jun came over to L.Joe, a little curled up, like a puppy seeking forgiveness. “I'm sorry,” he said. “I really shouldn't have taken that photo, huh.”

L.Joe hit his arm. “That's what you're thinking about?” Jun grinned and shrugged and L.Joe saw the insecurity behind the attitude. These guys had a difficult time ahead, figuring out how to live with all this information. “Take care of him,” he said, nodding at Ray.

“After what he did, you're telling me that?”

“Ya, you know I could just as well blame you for that, right? Not just taking the photo, but not making sure things are okay with your own members?”

“How am I supposed to know,” Jun complained. “He's very good at hiding things.”

“But from now on...”

“From now on I'll take care of him.” He looked everything but convinced by his own statement, but seemed honest in wanting to make an effort at least.

L.Joe bowed to Rome and the others and turned around. And realized Jeongmin was still there with him. They left together. Lay waited outside the door. Without being told, Jeongmin slipped away leaving them alone, to walk shoulder to shoulder away from C-Clown's room.

“What I did in there,” Lay said, shaking his head softly, “was not good.”

It wasn't. L.Joe was impressed, but probably shouldn't encourage it. “Very bad,” he agreed, but had to admit, “very sexy.” It was also crazy dangerous; what if Ray decided enough wasn't enough and to go down with the ship instead, outing Lay and L.Joe to the world? It seemed C-Clown would figure it out, but what if they didn't?

“If it was you, you would have hit him,” Lay said.

“Yes,” L.Joe agreed. He'd wanted to, so badly, but he didn't anymore. Ray was in enough pain.

“I'm not good at hitting,” Lay said. “And fighting... because of my blood...”

“It's dangerous, right? If you get hurt, it could be really dangerous.”

Lay nodded. “You'll have to fight alone. But I will protect you.”

Was that what this was about? “That's okay,” L.Joe said, smiling. “I'm the man in this relationship, after all.”

Lay laughed. Not like the other guys would laugh at him if he said something like that, not with that snort at the start like it was ridiculous, but like it honestly made him happy. L.Joe could say any kind of embarrassing things to this hyung, he'd never make him feel ashamed for them. So he laughed with Lay and for a moment, everything was okay.

Then he said, “Please believe me.” And Lay stopped and hugged him right there in the corridor. He patted Lay's back, glancing to the sides, then melted into his arms, forgetting anything outside the embrace. Breathed in Lay's smell. “I think I...”

“Stop. I believe you.”

“Then I can say it as much as I want.”

“Stop.” Lay separated them enough to look at his face. “Byunghun-ah, you don't have to do anything with me you don't want to. You don't have to evidence anything.”

L.Joe snickered. “I'm not evidencing,” he said. “I really l...”

“Stop!” Lay winced at the volume. “I'm sorry. It's not just words. It's very much not just words. It's like... it's like hemophilia. The blood disease. If you cut me, I will bleed and bleed and never stop. And if you make me care about you...” he stopped speaking, looking into L.Joe's eyes. There it was again. Real Lay, and that emotion he kept trying to control. Fear.

Had he been hurt before, to be this frightened? L.Joe wanted to protect him too. “Okay,” L.Joe said. “I understand. But are you afraid because it might happen, or because it's already too late?”

Lay's face twisted in a grimace, before he blinked away ghost tears and swallowed it all down, and L.Joe thought he already knew the answer to that question. It made him gleeful with joy, but also sad to see Lay so conflicted. “You really want to be my boyfriend?” Lay asked.

“I really do.”

“And you didn't sleep with someone else, before?”

“I really didn't,” L.Joe promised.

“This will be difficult,” he said. “Work, and China, and everything.”

“It already is,” L.Joe said.

Lay smiled and nodded, agreeing. “Will you tell me? About this,” he put his hand over the scar on L.Joe's chest, a warm, safe touch. “Later.”

L.Joe looked at the floor. “If you want to.”

“I want to.”

“Then will you be my boyfriend?”

Lay's eyes glittered. “I'll never stop.”

“HELLO!”

They both jumped, looking around. Further away, Jeongmin came backing around the corner, speaking to someone in front of him. “I'm so surprised to see you! Did you... ah, wait, aren't you...? Oh I'm so sorry, I thought you were someone else! Hehehe, apologies, I'll get out of your way.”

They quickly separated enough to seem like just two guys having a chat. L.Joe fished out his phone, pretending to show Lay something on it while a worker hurried by. Jeongmin waited until they caught up with him.

“Thank you,” Lay said.

“No worries.” Jeongmin smiled conspiratorily at Lay. “That was some badass shit. You're a black prince, aren't you.”

L.Joe pushed him. “Ya, what are you saying. Hey, give me your phone number.”

“What are you saying, in front of your boyfriend.” Jeongmin widened his eyes jokingly.

“Don't be weird.” L.Joe held out his hand. “Phone. Give it.” They exchanged phone numbers.

“I should head back to my members, we're probably about to go. Life is very interesting around you two though. We should meet again.” Jeongmin waved at them, eyes squinted into happy lines.

L.Joe waved back and, after a moment's hesitation, Lay did as well.

“What about you?” L.Joe asked. “How did you get here?”

“We came from China today,” Lay said. “Your members said you were here.”

Oh, he'd come here specifically looking for L.Joe? “Niel's show is probably done filming, I don't think I can stay here much longer.”

“This is not a good place anyway. I just wanted to ask what had happened to you and Baekhyun. Hm. I still don't understand why Backhyun is angry?”

L.Joe smiled at his confused face. “He's probably upset that we didn't tell him about us. He got really weird about it when Ray revealed it.”

“I will speak to him.”

“He and Sungyeol actually told... nevermind.” Better let Lay and Baekhyun figure it out without L.Joe interfering. “Why haven't you told your members? Do you think they won't be okay?”

Luhan-hyung and Xiumin-hyung will be weird,” Lay said, grimacing. Sighed. “But, we should tell them. Baekhyun will be found out soon. He's too excited.”

“He complained that you wouldn't stand guard for him,” L.Joe remembered.

“Someone should stand guard for you,” Lay said, bopping him gently on the forehead.

“Jeongmin forgot to lock the door.”

“Is that what you would have told the managers?”

“I know, I know,” L.Joe said, grumpily fixing his hair, feeling like a child being scolded.

“We must be extra careful from now on.”

“Why? You don't want me to drag you down?”

Lay frowned. “So nothing bad will ever happen to you.”

L.Joe felt stupid. CAP did say he was annoyingly defensive sometimes.

They reached the lobby again, where Niel immediately spotted them and attacked him.

“L.Joe hyung! Where have you been, we were supposed to leave forever ago, I...” he greeted Lay briefly, “I've been waiting forever, it's...” he paused, and looked at Lay again. “Hyung,” he said, “why is he here?”

“Excuse me? How are you talking to a hyung?” L.Joe demanded, mortified.

“I'm his sunbae! Okay, fine.” Niel made an annoyed face, like L.Joe was being difficult for no reason. “Hyung, what is this amazing, handsome hyung doing here? Did you assassinate that C-Clown guy?”

“Almost,” Lay said. He knew what assassinate meant?

“Everything is fine,” L.Joe told Niel. “Don't worry. It's all sorted now. Let's go home.”

“Is he coming? I mean, is this fantastic, sexy hyung coming?”

“I wish,” L.Joe smiled.

“I will see you soon,” Lay promised, touching his fingertips, shielding their hands from view with his body. It was so innocent, yet so full of promise.

“Be well, brother-in-law,” Niel said, bowing back to answer Lay's bow.

L.Joe laughed, as they left Lay and walked out to the car. “Who would bow to you,” he snickered.

“Everyone should bow to me,” Niel declared. “Brother-in-law has great sense.”

 

L.Joe chewed on his lips, eyes glued to the screen. Would she get there in time to save him, was he really going to die, this movie was...

His phone beeped. He paused the movie and checked. Lay.

I talked to Baekhyun. He is sorry, but angry too. He said a lot of things that Chen had to help me translate. He said, L.Joe will never be happy with one person, it would be like trying to stop the sea from making more than one wave.

He should take care of his own problems, L.Joe answered.

I think he meant to help. Byunghun-ah is such a force of nature. Everyone knows about him, Baekhyun said. Maybe it is wrong of me to keep him to myself? I want you to be happy.

I am happy.

And forever?

Forever, L.Joe promised. Screw Baekhyun, what did he know?

Suddenly something appeared in his view. A soda? He accepted the bottle, finding Chunji standing by his bed.

Kang Jun was kind of an asshole, wasn't he? But he'd said, how am I supposed to know, he's very good at hiding things, which was what Chunji had said too; that L.Joe was good at hiding things.

So that made Chunji kind of an asshole too. A little bit, at least.

“You're an asshole,” he told Chunji.

Chunji's eyebrows went up. “Okaaay... no soda for you.” He took the bottle back and left, L.Joe heard him give it to Ricky instead. He snickered, trying to get back into the movie. It was childish, but it had felt good to say it.

His phone beeped again. What now!

What about CAP, is he happy?

What? “What!?” L.Joe shouted at his phone. “What the hell is that... what? How is that any of your... why... agh!” He threw the phone away on the bed. What the fuck was everyone's problem, why couldn't he just get to be a normal boyfriend in a normal relationship!

Behind him, he heard Niel say, “Byunghun-hyung is going crazy,” and Changjo state, “You can't become something you already are.”