“Oh, hey,” Lu Han gestures away from the kitchen counter with his shot glass. “That guy’s been staring at you all night, Jongin?”
“Which guy?” Chanyeol leans closer to Lu Han, half spilling his shot all over his tennis shoes. He doesn’t notice.
“That one.” Lu Han points to a person standing in the living room, nursing a red drinking cup. He’s standing a little away from the crowded dance floor and sweeps his eyes all over everyone, as if trying to pick someone out, as they watch.
Jongin, blood buzzing pleasantly under his skin, smiles and accepts the shot Chanyeol presses into his hand. “All night?” He likes to do his research.
Lu Han laughs and clinks their glasses together. His collarbones are bright and sticky with sweat. “All night. Don’t make this one cry, okay? He seems a little shy.”
Jongin snorts, “I don’t make anyone cry.” One step, and he’s wobbling against the counter, doing a rather impressive imitation of a flamingo treading through muddy water.
Chanyeol puts his snapback on Jongin’s head and says, “Go get ‘em, tiger.” His breath, on Jongin’s cheek, stings and burns. Almost flammable.
“Nothing’s going to happen, guys,” Jongin pats Chanyeol’s arm a little too hard. More alcohol pops out the second shot glass Chanyeol picks up.
“Asshole, who do you think paid for all of this shit?” Chanyeol growls.
Jongin grins, tugging on the hem of his tank top to unstick it from his chest, and then winks. “I’ll be back.”
He doesn’t come back.
Jongin careens into the wall next to the lonely stranger. Having left his coordination at the bottom of his last two shots, he bumps his head and his left knee in quick succession, and tries to cover it all up with a loud, “Hi.” He giggles. Fuck.
But the man, dressed quite nicely in a white button down tucked into tight dark blue jeans, smiles, tight lipped, and responds with a quiet, “Hey.” His lips are petal pink, and look soft.
Jongin’s hard mouth wants a taste, only a small one. Maybe to buffer the harsh tang of alcohol still clinging to the back of his teeth, maybe because the man’s eyes caress down Jongin’s body in a casual look over and he smiles wider, pinker. Pleased.
“What’s your name?” Jongin half screams over the music.
“What?” The man leans in, his ear to Jongin’s mouth. His neck, much like Lu Han’s had been, is flushed and covered in a light sheen of sweat. His cologne is spicy, deep. It reminds Jongin of body shots, of wet, fiery, trembling skin under his tongue and happy, self satisfied grunts in his ears.
“I asked,” Jongin tries again. “For your name. Do you have one? If you don’t, I’ll have to give you a nickname for the rest of the night.”
“What makes you think we’re going to be together for the rest of the night?” The man, still smiling, half leans against Jongin’s shoulder.
Jongin smiles up at him, tipsy. His cheeks burn -- more from the alcohol than anything else -- and he says, “I can see into the future. I’m in your future.”
The man’s laugh is a soft snort. “Okay,” he concedes. “But doesn’t that also mean I’m in your future too?”
Jongin nods slowly, “That’s usually how these things work, yes.”
They laugh. The man’s entire right side brushes against Jongin’s left, and he leans over to tell Jongin his name. Sehun. Oh Sehun.
“At least you didn’t say something corny like, ‘You’re going to be screaming this name later,’” says Jongin.
Sehun’s fingers dig into Jongin’s wrist. “If I had thought of that two seconds ago, I would’ve said it. Believe me.”
“Get the hell out of here! Oh my God!” Chanyeol whines. “On my bed?”
“We weren’t doing anything!” Jongin half stumbles into Sehun, who catches him with an arm around his waist and promptly goes back to sucking a hickey on the back of Jongin’s neck. “We weren’t! Tell him, Sehun!”
“What, what?” Sehun looks up. His quick lip licks sounds obscene so close to Jongin’s ear. The arm he has around Jongin is warm and grounding, and because of it, Jongin doesn’t even care that Chanyeol looks like he’s going to cry. “We both had our pants on, if it matters,” says Sehun matter of factly.
Chanyeol yells, “Get the fuck out of here,” and hits them with a well placed pillow throw.
Laughing, Jongin pulls up his shirt and grabs Sehun’s hand. “Later, fuckface. Nice party, by the way.”
Jongin’s phone reads, among twenty other text messages from Lu Han wishing him a good time and praying for him to use protection, 3:04AM.
“Where do you live?” asks Jongin. They’re walking away from Chanyeol’s house toward the main road.
“Junior Apartments,” says Sehun. Their hands are still clasped together. “You?”
“Me too,” Jongin stops walking. “I’ve never… seen you before, though.”
“I don’t go out much,” Sehun shrugs. The night is cool, but under the street lamps, his skin is still pink and now dotted by freshly planted kiss marks. They’ll be in full bloom by morning. “This… is the most exciting night I’ve had in a while. As pathetic as it sounds.”
Jongin smiles good naturedly and squeezes his hand. “Nah, it’s okay. I was about to leave the party and go play LoL, and yell at thirteen year olds a minute before my friend noticed you staring at me.”
“I wasn’t staring at you,” says Sehun. “You were laughing really hard and I wanted to know what was so funny.”
“You heard me laughing over the music?” Jongin squints at him in disbelief. “Liar.”
Sehun smiles and ducks his head. When he speaks, his voice is low and secretive. “Alright. Fine. I was staring at you. You didn’t seem to have a problem with it.”
Jongin looks down at their hands and up to the dark mark purpling against Sehun’s pretty collarbones. “Still don’t.”
“Don’t take this in a, um, weird way or anything,” Jongin whispers against the curve of Sehun’s neck. “But I wish you had been my first.”
Sheets rustle as Sehun turns over. He finds Jongin’s face in the dark and kisses him sweetly. “What makes you say that?”
“I don’t know,” replies Jongin. But he does. He does know. “That’s… that’s just how I feel. That’s just…” He smooths his hands against Sehun’s belly under the sheets and presses him onto his back, kissing the side of his mouth. “I…”
If I knew you had been out there, I would have waited for you, for this.
Jongin closes his eyes, Sehun’s heart beats under his cheek.
Sehun trips over Jongin’s dirty laundry. Jongin catches him, giggling, and says, “Sorry, sorry,” into their kiss. They stumble back onto his bed, but all they do is kiss. Jongin feels him, hard against his thigh, but Sehun’s hands stay on his hips, over his pants, and they kiss until Jongin is so dizzy he thinks he’s going to puke all over him.
“Are you okay?” Sehun holds Jongin’s hair back.
Jongin, head in the toilet, gasps. “Breathing. I should… do that more often."
Sehun fondly rolls his eyes and sighs. “Yeah, wow, people need to breathe. Who knew.”
“Shut up,” Jongin reaches over to smack his leg, misses, and goes back to hugging the toilet.
Embarrassingly enough, he does end up losing his dinner in full view of Sehun, and Sehun is still there half an hour later, helping Jongin brush his teeth and tucking him back into bed. “Oh God,” Jongin moans at the ceiling, hands over his face. “I’m so sorry you had to see that. Puke is so hot, right?” Oh fuck, why did I say that. He groans again. “God.”
“It’s alright,” Sehun sits on the edge of Jongin’s bed. “At least you feel better, right? On the bright side, you didn’t upchuck on me. That would have instantly ruined this relationship.”
“We have a relationship?” Jongin spreads his fingers to look at Sehun.
Sehun has the look on his face of someone who had not meant to say a thought aloud. “Hm,” he hums, and squints down at Jongin. “Ha… y-yeah?” He chuckles awkwardly. “I might be… too sober for this but you… you know, you’re…” He clears his throat. His cheeks look brighter than ever.
Jongin presses his hands harder into his face. Partially to cover up his smile, partially because he wants to kiss Sehun again and he’s trying to hold himself down.
Poor Sehun, he’s still trying to truck on through. He gives up soon enough and hangs his head. “I’m usually more… good at sentences?” He winces and shakes his head. “I mean, I’m not this… awkward in real life.”
“You’re not awkward,” says Jongin. His voice breaks on the ‘awkward’ and he shuts his mouth with a clang of his teeth.
Sehun snorts, already over his short-lived embarrassment. “Wow.”
Jongin closes his eyes, smiling. “Shut up.”
In the morning, Sehun texts Jongin his phone number. They make plans to hang out in the upcoming week.
“Why are you so nervous?” Lu Han frowns and looks at Jongin over the top of his glasses.
“Me?” Jongin sets his cellphone down on his thigh. “I’m not nervous. I’m calm. Aren’t I calm, Minseok hyung?”
On the other side of the living room, Minseok snorts and turns a page in his lab notes.
“That’s a yes,” Jongin clarifies, looking at Lu Han very seriously.
“Okay,” Lu Han says slowly. “If you aren’t nervous, why are you even here? Shouldn’t you be getting ready for your date with that guy from the party?”
“It’s not a date,” says Jongin. “You don’t go on ‘dates’ with people you’ve hooked up with, hyung.”
Minseok snorts again and looks up from his lab book long enough to give Jongin a confused look. “Okay. Let’s assume this a rule people observe. What are you even wearing?”
“What?” Jongin looks down at his basketball shorts and clean muscle tee. “What? I’m wearing something over this.”
“Are you wearing a different outfit over that? Because that’s what I recommend,” says Minseok, using his “I’m a senior, please listen to me, you insolent child” voice.
“He looks fine,” cuts in Lu Han. “As Jongin said, this isn’t a date. Remember when he was going on a not-date with that senior and went in sweatpants?”
Minseok cringes and pats down the goosebumps on his arms.
“Assholes,” Jongin mumbles and turns over his phone. Sehun has finally replied. Meet you there in 10? Smiling, he stands up off the couch. “Bye, losers. Have fun studying.”
“Get out of my house,” says Minseok, not looking up from his work.
“Fuck,” Sehun gasps, holding onto his hip. “You could’ve have given me a warning before you kicked my ass?”
Jongin grins, happy, sweaty, invigorated. “What’s the fun in that?” He pushes his wet hair out of his eyes, pulls up his shirt to take it off and there, right there, he catches the look Sehun throws at his stomach.
They’re alone in the locker room.
“Hey,” says Jongin slowly. “Do you wanna…?” He flushes at the confused look Sehun throws him.
“Want to what?” Sehun pulls off his own shirt and.
Jongin gulps, “Nothing.”
Sehun pauses, “Were… you about to ask me to makeout right now? In the locker room?”
“Haha,” Jongin forces, turning his head to look down at his hands. “Of course not--”
“You watch too much porn, Jongin,” says Sehun, wiping his forehead with his discarded t-shirt. “At least… I don’t know, ask me in the shower to ‘help you out’ or something.”
Jongin’s jaw drops and he whips his head up. He’s perfect.“That’s even more porn worthy than asking you to only makeout.”
Sehun’s ears burn a pretty pink and he slams his shirt into his gym bag. Still, his gaze defiant. “Do you want to do it or not?”
Blood rushes in up to Jongin’s face, and away from Jongin’s face, and absolutely none of it goes to his brain. “Hell yes, I do!” His enthusiastic response is marked by the accidental slamming of a locker. He jumps.
Sehun sounds like he’s choking on his tongue.
Jongin lightly hits his forehead against the still open locker door. Sehun, having regained his composure, laughs and then quietly calls Jongin over.
Contrary to what he’d like Jongin to believe, Sehun isn’t an eloquent speaker. He stutters when he’s repeating his order to the woman behind the counter on their non-date; a question from Jongin about his hobbies makes him tongue-tied and a bit red-faced. His mumbling is unintelligible and he prefers to stare at his side dishes rather than look at Jongin in the eyes.
Jongin notices all of this, of course, because he hasn’t stopped staring at Sehun since they’ve arrived at this campus eatery. It’s in the style of a diner and it zaps away a chunk of Jongin’s meal plan every time he comes here, it’s Sehun’s favorite place to eat that doesn’t double as a study hall.
Two televisions replay the campus sporting events of the day, but Jongin is more interested in the piece of pasta sticking quite handsomely to the corner of Sehun’s mouth.
Hair pushed back, again in one of his polos, Sehun is neat and tidy, quiet and warm, except for the bit of noodle unknowingly plastered to his face. It softens his entire look, humanizing him, and Jongin is content with never telling him he looks like a toddler who is only now discovering the joys of solid food.
“What are you looking at?”
Jongin quickly averts his eyes to the television behind Sehun’s head. “Oh, the. Um. Sports. I love that shit.”
Sehun snorts, “Okay.” But upon wiping his mouth with his spare napkin, he takes with him that small noodle piece and he’s back to being the infallible man Jongin had flirted with only two nights ago.
Jongin has known Sehun for less than two days, and they’re already eating a meal together. Friendly, Jongin forces himself to think. They’re friendly. Friends eat meals, friends look at each other, or else how would friends speak to each other? Friends.
Besides. People don’t get into relationships with their hookups. That’s not how this whole thing is supposed to work. It’s not how this is going to go.
“Are sports really your ‘shit’ because you don’t seem to interested,” says Sehun.
Jongin looks back to the table; Sehun’s eyes are on him.
“You caught me,” says Jongin, smiling a bit. “I don’t really watch sports. I’d rather go out and play them. Do you play?” Maybe we could play together sometime.
“Oh hey,” Jongin grins, his hands on Sehun’s hips. “Fancy meeting you here.” More people spill into the room behind Sehun, and Jongin pulls him closer to Sehun can speak into his ear.
“You invited me to this party,” says Sehun. His nose bumps against Jongin’s cheek. “We’ve been texting for three hours.”
Jongin sighs, “You’re terrible at this game.” This flirting game.“Almost as terrible as you are at League of Legends.”
“You beat me once,” Sehun sneers. “Don’t get a big head, nerd.”
“Oh, I’m the nerd, Mr. My-Pokemon-Has-Imperfect-IVs-Must-Lose-Sleep-to-Fix? Did you even go to your all your classes yesterday?”
“No,” Sehun shrugs. “It doesn’t even matter. My Goodra is now perfect.” The collar of his Polo is already rumpled. Jongin reaches his hands up to fix it.
“Nerd,” he hisses, and Sehun shuts him up with a quick kiss, that turns into a longer kiss, that turns into Lu Han drunkenly yelling, “Get a fucking room,” followed by Chanyeol’s, “But not my room again, Oh my God.”
“Your friends are loud,” whispers Sehun. “Also, they’re cheering. I don’t know how I feel about that.”
“Ignore them,” says Jongin. “Are you up for another one on one soccer match?”
“Another one?” Sehun’s nose scrunches. “We had one yesterday. Are you going to rub your win in my face again?”
“I’ll go easy on you this time,” Jongin presses his smile against Sehun’s cheek. “If you win, I’ll do anything you want me to do.”
“Anything?” Sehun repeats. His cool fingers brush against Jongin’s belly button under his shirt.
Jongin wriggles, “Anything.”
There have been others. In his first year, Jongin fell for one of his intro TAs. After being so one-sided for so long, in the dark corner of a party, the TA admitted to wanting Jongin too. It had been the first of what Jongin would call his “adult relationships.” They had nights out on the town, they slept over each other’s rooms.
On blue moons, they managed to stumble into class at the same time and sit on opposite ends of the lecture hall with their phones in their labs. Jongin doesn’t remember much from Intro Physics, but he does remember laying his head on the table and quietly replying to Yixing’s “Hi there” and “You look sleepy” messages.
But then, something changed. To this day, Jongin knows it’s his fault. Sweet Yixing had never changed. Two days or two weeks, two months after they had first hooked up, he still wanted to meet with Jongin, have meals with him, binge watch hours of mindless sitcoms. Fall asleep in his bed and wake up with Jongin’s arms around his waist.
Jongin, still a foolish first year, had grown. Bored.
He had a beautiful, kind, intelligent man in his bed almost three nights a week and he got bored. As much as he would like to ignore his feelings, the crush had been more satisfying than the actual relationship. The chase, the anticipation, he had wanted all of those things more than he had wanted Yixing and his feelings.
The idea of Yixing trumped Yixing himself, and Jongin has tried to be careful and tread lightly ever since.
Yixing has long since admitted he forgives Jongin and he would like them to be friends again one day.
Shameful Jongin, immature Jongin who had stayed up nights wondering how he could do this to someone as mild and kind hearted as Yixing, never replied to his message.
Right from the get go, he wants Sehun to be different. He knows Sehun is different. Because he didn’t have time to build Sehun up in his mind. He had known Sehun a few minutes before he was kissing him; they had only hung out a few times before they took to Sehun’s bed once, twice in one day and stayed there for what seemed like an entire weekend, watching movies on his laptop and kissing crumbs away from each other’s lips.
Jongin forces himself to not ask to have every meal with Sehun. For the majority of the week, he eats at home with his housemates, Ilhoon and Namjoon, and laughs along with their daily stories. He drinks with them, he watches television with them. He goes with Ilhoon to the market for dinner supplies and hits the gym with Namjoon after his Thursday class. But then when they’re off to do their own things, and Jongin is left alone, Jongin exhales and texts Sehun. This is a message. Then: This is another message.
This is a reply to your message and This is a reply to your other message come instantly, followed by, Where are you?
Then Jongin has to take a step back. Sometimes, he physically steps back from his phone, bumps into the doorway, and falls backwards through it. He wants to see Sehun, and Sehun wants to see him too. This, whatever it is, is mutual, and so sweet tasting, so intoxicating Jongin doesn’t need to get drunk to speak to anyone anymore, because the only person he wants to speak to is already hanging on his every word.
This doesn’t have a name yet. But Jongin hasn’t thought about kissing anyone else since Sehun and he’s. He’s never thought about if Sehun has kissed other people, or thinks about kissing other people.
“No,” Jongin shakes his head and grabs his phone again. “Don’t go down that route.”
“You don’t want to go out tonight?” Jongin closes the door and leans it against it.
On his bed, texting on his phone, Sehun shakes his head. “It’s cold. Besides, I have to be up early tomorrow for a project meeting. Noona says hi, by the way.”
“Tell your noona I think she’s a cutie,” says Jongin, wiggling his brows.
Sehun looks up from his phone, deadpanned. “Don’t flirt with my sister, I’ll cut your face off.”
“Cut my face off? That’s a new one.”
“Cut it off your skull,” clarifies Sehun, making a quit, slashing motion with his phone. His shirt has ridden up, exposing his well hidden belly ring. According to him, only Jongin knows it’s there.
“Jealous?” Jongin walks around to sit on the bed next to Sehun’s feet. He picks up his laptop and starts scrolling through his movie streaming account.
“Of you and my sister?” Sehun lightly kicks his thigh. “She’s married and completely out of your league.”
“Hey,” says Jongin, pinching one of Sehun’s socked toes. “I’m a very handsome man, if you haven’t noticed.”
“I haven’t noticed,” drones Sehun and kicks Jongin again, no doubt for the hell of it. “Where are your housemates?”
Jongin shrugs. “Ilhoon’s out at a pregame, I think. I have no idea where Namjoon is. I haven’t seen him all day. Hopefully he’s not lying dead in a ditch somewhere.”
“Morbid,” Sehun nods. His phone buzzes on his chest and scoops it up again. Jongin looks over, interest caught. He sees Sehun narrow his eyes and grumble, “I’m not telling him that.”
Jongin bites his bottom lip, trying not to smile, “Tell me what?”
“Nothing,” Sehun says quickly. And then, “Whatever. My noona wants to know if you want to have lunch with us next week. She say she wants to evaluate my friends.”
“Your friends,” Jongin repeats. Friends. It scrapes the roof of his mouth. He presses his tongue to the back of his teeth and says nothing.
Sehun’s eyes are soft. “You’re not… getting all weird on me, right? I mean, my noona knows about… she knows that I…” He sighs. “It’s easier to introduce you as my friend and not that guy I’m… kind of sleeping with.”
Kind of sleeping with.“Friends with benefits,” Jongin nods. “That’s… that’s what we are, right?”
Sehun opens his mouth, closes it. He opens it again. “I… I don’t know what we are. It’s nice, though, isn’t it? Whatever this is. It’s nice.”
They’re not even friends with benefits? Jongin hears a car screech. His fingers still over his keyboard. “Oh God,” he mumbles. “Do we not even know what we are? Are we dating? Do you… do you want us to date?”
Sehun’s careful “no” hits like a kick to the stomach.
Jongin is lucky he has a tight hold on his laptop or he would’ve dropped it. “No?”
“I… I don’t want to date anyone right now.” Sehun looks down at his phone again, mumbling through his lips. “I’m going abroad next semester.”
“You are?” Jongin swallows hard. “That’s… that’s right. I hope you have a good time. Where do you plan on going?”
There’s a tense beat of silence. “Australia. I didn’t tell you that, did I? That I was going abroad.”
Jongin silently shakes his head. In a way, he can see how that would… escape Sehun’s mind. He didn’t want Jongin to get all “weird” like he is now, thinking about the little time they have left, of all the things they haven’t done, all the things he hasn’t said. Things he might never get to say.
Despite the screaming in his head and how irrelevant their movie streaming has become, Jongin looks at Sehun and sees the tight grip he has around his phone, the way his mouth looks pinched and white. “It’s… it’s okay,” Jongin says finally.
Sehun looks at him; Jongin smiles nervously. “It’s okay. You’re going to have the time of your life abroad. Everyone always does. We can just… if you want to, we can just keep doing what we’re doing. It doesn’t… have to be named. We can… chill and talk and have sex and it’ll be… nice.” Desperate. So desperate to squeeze himself into the smallest possible portion of Sehun’s life, to not be forgotten, to satiate his craving for Sehun’s attention, for Sehun’s sleepily arm curled around him at four in the morning, Sehun’s mouth on the back of his neck. “That’s… that’s okay too, right?”
Sehun sighs deeply, but his voice is so small, faraway, when he speaks. “That’s all I wanted. I should’ve told you sooner, that’s… I’m sorry but I thought you would… I thought you would leave. No one likes expiration dates.” He meets Jongin’s eyes. “No one.”
Jongin doesn’t sleep. He sits at his desk staring at his phone’s calendar app. On the other side of the room, Sehun snores lightly in his bed.
There is an end. There is an end and it’s coming.
Sehun’s hair presses wetly against his forehead. He has soaked completely through his muscle tee and his knees are scraped and swollen, but he woots loudly and drops himself back on the grass with a wild bark of laughter. Then, as quickly as it had begun, his laughter stops. He looks up at Jongin. “You let me win, didn’t you?”
Jongin, taken by the flush spread across his cheeks and chest, shrugs. “I don’t know, did I? You tell me.” He’s not breathing quite as heavily. The combination of Jongin downplaying his abilities and Sehun upping his speed resulted in victory for Team Oh. “Now that you’ve beaten me--”
Sehun smiles, pleased, and Jongin momentarily swallows his words in an awkward stutter. He clears his throat and starts again, this time resting his eyes on a more neutral portion of Sehun’s body. Like his knees. “I’ll do whatever you want me to. That was our bet, right?”
Of course, it was. Jongin had lost for this exact purpose. Could Sehun beat him at soccer in any given day of the week? No. Does Jongin want to know what Sehun has planned for him? Hell yes. He hopes it involves some hair pulling because it’s been three days since Jongin’s been pressed against some wall and grinded on and he’s starting to miss it.
“Oh, I know exactly what I want you to do,” says Sehun, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand.
Jongin perks up, “Yeah? What is it?”
It’s doing his homework in the nude.
“Come on,” Jongin pouts. “This is what you want? You don’t want me to, I don’t know, do something more--” Sexual. “Something more… hot?”
“This is hot,” Sehun insists, slowly working his eyes from Jongin’s dark hair to his pecs to his abs down to his flaccid penis which isn’t very hot, okay, Oh Sehun. “I just want to look at you, how bad is that?”
“You can look at me all the time,” says Jongin. “We see each other every day. You look at me then. You look at me when we’re naked in bed doing things. I could be sucking your dick right now, man--”
“Is sex all you think about?” Smiling, Sehun gives Jongin a look.
“Do you know me?” Jongin counters. “Have you met me? Because I’m starting to feel as if you haven’t.”
“God,” Sehun scoffs. “You’re like a dog without a bone. Come here.”
“I resent that,” Jongin huffs, but he obediently walks over to Sehun, careful not to trip on his own discarded pants.
Sehun cups Jongin’s face in his hands and pulls him down for a kiss, his thumbs brushing along Jongin’s sideburns. Jongin’s stomach jumps and he swallows nervously, chasing Sehun’s tongue back into his own mouth. They don’t kiss like this often. It’s nice and soft, wet enough for Jongin’s lips and tongue to glide but also slightly chaste in its sweetness. Jongin has only kissed one other person like this, but nerves threaten to smother him this time around. His cheeks flush under Sehun’s fingers and. Jongin feels like he’s missing something.
“Oh,” he says when Sehun pulls away.
“What ‘oh’?” Sehun teases, licking his lips in full view of Jongin’s eyes.
“I thought you wanted to look at me,” says Jongin.
“I’m looking at you right now.” Sehun, hands still on Jongin’s face, pulls him back in. “I can see myself in your eyes.”
“Of course you can,” whispers Jongin. You’re all I see.
“So that guy,” starts Ilhoon.
“Here we go,” chimes in Namjoon.
Ilhoon gives him a look, “What are you talking about--”
“You’re going to interrogate Kim Jongin about his life choices,” says Namjoon. “Here’s the thing, Ilhoon. You don’t need to do that. Jongin knows exactly what he’s doing, right, Jongin?”
Jongin, who had been listening to the conversation, startles and spits out, “Huh?” His phone flies out of his hand and he catches it before it smashes against their kitchen floor.
Namjoon sighs and Ilhoon looks less than impressed.
“Jongin,” Ilhoon says slowly. “I’m only saying this because I care--”
“--also because he wants to know--”
“Also because I want to know,” Ilhoon nods. “But that guy you brought home… who is he? You never bring people home.”
“His name is, um,” Jongin looks at his phone screen. He has a new message. “Sehun. He’s our year, he’s an engineering major, he--”
“Does he like long walks on the beach?” asks Namjoon. “How does he feel about sex on the first date? What are his political views?”
“Shut up, OkCupid,” Ilhoon snarls and whacks Namjoon’s arm with the back of his hand.
Namjoon snarls and pretends to be fatally wounded. He tells Jongin, “Tell my mom I love her--”
Jongin laughs, “Guys--”
“As long as he’s not creepy,” says Ilhoon. “I want to meet him. We should know someone who is going to be spending time in our house, right?“
“Who says he’s going to be over all the time?” Jongin doesn’t even believe his own question. He’s hyper aware of the message he has yet to open. Sehun had asked him if he wanted to accompany him to a movie in town later in the week and Jongin had been quick to recommend the latest Marvel masterpiece. Sehun’s much anticipated response are probably ellipses followed by a long suffering emoji face followed by “fine, but you’re paying.”
Namjoon claps a hand on Jongin’s shoulder, “Really? You’ve been stuck to your phone for an entire week. Either you have a crush or you’re as obsessed with checking your email as Ilhoon is.”
Ilhoon looks up from the phone at his side and grumbles, “Oh fuck, I did it again.”
“I am the only one with any sense in this house,” Namjoon nods. “I want to meet your new friend, Jongin. I want to judge him.”
“It’s not…” Jongin sighs. “Please don’t say anything embarrassing. You guys are like my parents.”
“I hope I’m the mom,” Namjoon says to himself. “I think I’d be a cool mom. I’m hip hopping, I’m down with all those funky things the kids say.”
Ilhoon squints at him, opens his mouth, and then seems decides against saying anything. He turns back to Jongin. “So it’s settled then. You’ll bring him over for dinner tomorrow.”
“Wait, tomorrow?” Jongin balks. “Guys--”
“Tomorrow,” Namjoon nods.
Sehun gets through an impromptu dinner with Jongin’s housemates surprisingly well. Kim Namjoon, easy going and friendly, dimples at Sehun’s terrible, terrible jokes. “That’s…” He nods. “I like you, Sehun. That was a good one.”
It really wasn’t -- and Jongin is going to have second degree embarrassment burns for weeks -- but at least Namjoon is trying.
Sitting across from Jongin at their small table, Sehun has one foot on top of Jongin’s under the table. ”For support,” says the quick message that appears on Jongin’s screen.
Predictably, Jung Ilhoon is a harder nut to crack. He stares Sehun as if he were one of those lab blood slides a teacher has forced him to identify and asks the appropriate -- very parent-like -- questions. What’s your major? What classes are you taking? Are you on any teams? Clubs? What are your intentions with my Jongin?
At that, Jongin whips his head around. “Ilhoon--”
Namjoon howls into his rice, “Got a little too into the role, huh?”
Ilhoon clears his throat, flushed, and tells them all to put a sock in it. Sehun laughs for the first time all night, but he doesn’t answer Ilhoon’s question.
Jongin is thinking about it later -- when both Namjoon and Ilhoon have left them to do the dishes -- and asks, voice low, “So. What are your intentions with me? You know.” He shrugs, forcing himself to act casual about all of this. “Just. Wanting to know, is all.”
“We hang out a lot, right?” Sehun passes Jongin a wet plate to dry. “I think… we should keep doing that, if that’s okay with you.”
“That’s… yeah, that’s more than okay with me.” Jongin coughs.
Facing down into the sink, Sehun’s smile is soft, cute. Jongin wants to kiss him, so he does, right on his cheek.
“D-Don’t look at me,” he then spits out. “Pay attention to the dishes you’re washing, they need you.”
“I can multitask.” Sehun holds a plate out for Jongin to take, but he doesn’t let go after Jongin’s taken hold of it. With it, he pulls Jongin closer and Jongin ducks his head, smiling, flushing, unable to believe he’s this old and still bashful over kisses like this. Sehun tastes like the stew they had for dinner and his lip balm, and Jongin floats all night long.
“Why are you still up? Are you even doing work?” Jongin asks Sehun over video chat.
Sehun, looking deliciously disheveled with his glasses perched on the edge of his nose, sighs, “No, I’m not doing any work.”
“Go to sleep,” Jongin mumbles. He yawns into the palm of his hand and checks the time on his computer. 4:23AM. Seriously. “Don’t you have a nine AM class in a few hours?”
“Forget about that,” Sehun runs a hand through his hair and sits up. He angles his screen upward and leans closer. “What are you doing?”
Jongin looks at the film reading PDF taking up half of his screen. Then he slides his eyes to the left where he’s opened a video game forum and is skulking through the walkthroughs of a new computer game he’s been itching to buy. At this time of night, neither of those screens can hold his attention. Tiny Sehun, squared off and pale by the light of his desk lamp, is the only thing keeping Jongin up. “Absolutely nothing.” He sighs and drops his head against his arm.
“I can’t see you,” says Sehun.
Jongin politely tilts his screen forward and blinks sleepily up at his webcam. “Sehun. It’s almost five in the morning. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Sehun nods. He runs his hand through his hair again and then fiddles with the end of his glasses.
“You know, you look really good in those,” says Jongin. “I don’t know why you won’t wear them in public.”
Sehun snorts and says nothing.
This is fucking weird, that’s what this is. Sehun isn’t even typing. Unless he’s watching a movie in the corner of his screen, Jongin has no idea what he’s doing or why he’s up at this hour. Jongin himself could have gone to sleep hours ago, but it’s been a few days since he and Sehun have had time to talk.
“Sehun,” Jongin breathes. This isn’t going to work. He clears his throat and tries again, “You’re… you’re leaving soon, right?”
Sehun nods, “Yeah. My flight’s… right after my last final.”
A few hours then. “Ah,” Jongin nods. “Are you… are you excited? Australia and all that. Sounds fun. Kangaroos and, um, koalas. Giant insects. Beaches for days--”
“Jongin,” Sehun cuts him off.
Jongin swallows and licks his dry lips, “Yeah?”
One step. Two steps. Three. Four, five. Sehun stands in front of Jongin, already bundled in his coat and large scarf. His eyes jump from Jongin’s eyes to his mouth, back down to the floor, to his feet, to where they are now, suspending between Jongin’s desk and Jongin’s face. “I’m… I’m sorry.”
“No, hey,” Jongin smiles. “Don’t be sorry. It’s… we’ve had a lot of good times, you know? It’s.. I don’t regret any of it.” Any of it.
“Sehun, I’m going to sleep--”
“Wait!” Sehun abruptly jumps up in his seat. “Wait, don’t. Don’t go. Let me--”
“What?” Jongin scoots his chair closer to his desk. “What is it? What’s wrong? Why are you being so weird?”
Sehun turns his face away, clearing his throat. A muscle jumps in his jaw. “Sorry,” he whispers. “‘l… I’ll see you tomorrow, right? I mean, today. Can you come over?”
“Yeah, of course, man,” Jongin nods heavily. “Of course. You know me. Try to get some sleep, okay? I’ll see you at lunch.” He smiles and waves, “Bye.”
“Bye,” Sehun’s voice cracks.
Jongin’s screen goes black.
Sehun hugs him. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry,” Sehun repeats. “I should’ve… we… have you ever liked someone so much it terrified you?”
Jongin understands -- oh how he understands -- but he still asks, “Why would it terrify you?”
“Because they can leave,” whispers Sehun. “People always leave, that’s how it goes.”
“Isn’t it…” Jongin presses his eyes closed and then opens them again. “Isn’t it funny, then, that you’re the one leaving now?”
A flash attacks Jongin’s eyes again. “I know I said ‘take a picture, it’ll last longer,’ but does it have to be while I’m trying to pass philosophy?” He gestures to the PDF opened on his screen.
Sehun takes a picture of that too. He’s been on a non-stop picture parade since Jongin had walked through the door a couple of hours ago. He whipped out his phone while they were in the middle of kissing, of all things, but he had declined to answer Jongin’s, “I would have liked to know ahead of time if we are making a porno.”
“How many pictures of me do you actually need?” says Jongin, rubbing his eyes.
“What? You’re hot, I want to take pictures of you. There’s nothing weird about that, so quit your whining.” He takes another pictures at Jongin is opening his mouth to respond and then snorts at the no doubt hilarious image that has plastered itself all over his screen.
Jongin turns back to his computer, “This is your looking thing all over again.”
“My looking thing? What’s that?” Sehun leans heavily against Jongin’s side, squinting to read the tiny font of his PDF.
“You stare a lot,” says Jongin matter of factly. “It’s not creepy or anything, you just… do it a lot. Like this morning? I don’t know if you think I’m going to disappear or what, but I’m not. You can’t get rid of me so easily, I promise. Believe it!” Admittedly, Jongin’s Naruto dub voice needs some work.
Sehun is silent.
“I’m sorry,” Sehun repeats for the third time. “I knew I should’ve have… I shouldn’t have done this to you. It’s not fair.”
It’s not fair. “But it happened,” Jongin holds him tightly, pressing their heads together. “It happened, and you’re going to have so much fun in Australia. Who knows, maybe you’ll even meet someone you like more than me--”
Jongin looks up.
Sehun kisses him, “Don’t disappear.”
Smiling, Jongin curls a hand under Sehun’s jaw and nuzzles his cheek. “I’m not a magician, Sehun, I only play one on tv.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Sehun hisses. “Just stop-- Stop fucking talking--”
Jongin closes his eyes, “I’m sorry--”
“Are you checking yourself out in my eyes?” Jongin pinches Sehun under his shirt, laughing. “Sehun, you vain little shit--”
“That’s not what I’m doing!” Sehun huffs. “But now that you’ve brought it up, I do look good, both in your eyes and in mirrors.”
“I think you look way better in my eyes than in any mirror,” Jongin jokes, kissing the side of Sehun’s warm mouth.
Sehun nods with uncharacteristic shyness and sinks his fingers into the collar of Jongin’s shirt. “I do too.”
“Hmmm,” Jongin taps his fingers against his lips. “Paris, I guess. Seems like a nice place to be. I’m cheesy enough to dig it for the romance. What about you?”
“Australia,” Sehun flips a page in his notes. “I’ve always wanted to go there.”
“Oh, cool,” says Jongin. He bumps his elbow against Sehun’s. “I hope you get there one day, Sehun.”
Sehun hums, his eyes on the side of Jongin’s face, and says nothing.
There are traces of Sehun’s hair, lighter and straighter than Jongin’s, all over Jongin’s ugly, wool sweaters. He even left his favorite dark blue sweater in Jongin’s room.
Sehun’s the most recent contact in Jongin’s phone, video chat account, Jongin’s most recent Facebook message, and when Jongin closes his eyes, it’s Sehun he sees leaning over him. It’s Sehun he feels brushing his hair away from his forehead and telling him to get up or he’ll be late for their dinner. He had even given Sehun his favorite scarf -- “Don’t be cold on the plane” -- but he had wanted to shout, “Remember me, remember me, tell me I matter, tell me that I’m as important to you as you are to me.”
But, as always, the most important words are the most difficult to say. Outside of melodramas, airport terminals aren’t meant for “I love yous” because who else but a fictional character would be too cowardly to admit that until it was too late?
Alone in his room, huddled under too many layers of blankets, trying to replicate someone else’s body heat, Jongin lies in the midst of rubble. Where there once stood a house, there are now only splinters of wood, broken glass, and Jongin bleeds as he tries to pick himself off the ground.
“I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible,
and when I leave you will finally understand
why storms are named after people.”