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falling is never easy

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Kyungsoo glances at his left just as he inserts the key to the door of his place, eyes taking a few seconds longer than normal when he sees a light at one of the windows.

The door clicks open and he pushes it a few more inches wider just before he’s distracted by the shrill ringing of his phone.

“Baek?”

“Sehun made some of those fruit salad things you love and I dropped by earlier at your place to leave you some.” A pause. “It’s in the fridge, I didn’t forget.”

Kyungsoo chuckles softly, momentarily distracted when the door of the house he’s staring at opens, light filtering from inside before a figure steps out and closes the door behind them.

“Thanks, Baek.” He whispers into his phone before the line goes dead and he’s left to focus on the figure slowly walking closer to where he is.

“You’re early tonight.” The figure – a male – says when he’s close to hearing range.

“Good evening to you, too, Jongin.” Kyungsoo smiles tiredly, shrugging his shoulder and lifting a small bag of groceries. “I missed eating home cooked meals so I figured, why not?”

Jongin smiles widely at this, lifting a hand to flash him a thumbs up.

“Do you,” Kyungsoo starts, swallowing the lump of disappointment in his throat. “Do you want to come inside?”

At this, Jongin’s smile softens into an apologetic one as he stuffs both his hands inside the pocket of his coat.

“Right.” Kyungsoo nods, backing a step away towards the door. “Right, sorry.”

Jongin opens his mouth, brows knitting in what seems to be desperation before he sighs in defeat. “Maybe next time.”

Kyungsoo only nods, smiling thinly at the male in front of him.

“Goodnight, Kyungsoo.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jongin goes home with bruises more often than Kyungsoo stays behind to study in the university library which is more than half the week.

The first time Kyungsoo sees Jongin was when he first moved in, almost tripping on his own shoelace when he sees the male wrestling with three small dogs out his yard.

He’s been caught staring during that time, almost dropping the box he’s holding when the stranger manages to stand up and wave at him.

“You must be the new neighbor.” The stranger says after jogging in to where Kyungsoo is still stuck standing. “I’m Kim Jongin. It’s nice to meet you-?”

“Kyungsoo.” His voice cracks and he clears his throat, “Do Kyungsoo. It’s nice to meet you, too.”

Jongin grins brightly at him before being tackled by his three dogs.

Kyungsoo laughs in return, choosing to ignore the tinge of yellow on the other’s exposed arm.

The next time he sees Jongin, he’s about to dump his trash late in the evening when a hobbling figure catches his attention.
Squinting his eyes, he ignores the strike of fear and focuses on the lone figure slowly coming closer.

A car passes by, the headlights illuminating the quiet street and Kyungsoo lets his shoulders sag down when he catches sight of the figures face.

“Jongin?”

The male looks up and the both of them flinches; Jongin from the way he favors his other foot and Kyungsoo from seeing the nasty bruise on the side of Jongin’s face.

Jongin must have noticed his staring because he smiles slightly, flinching once more at the effort.

That was not the last time Kyungsoo sees Jongin like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So you’re saying your neighbor is some sort of gangster?”

Kyungsoo rolls his eyes, watching Sehun stuff his face with more pancakes while waiting for an answer.

“No, he’s not a gangster.”

Sehun stays quiet, chewing thoughtfully. “Then what is he?”

“I don’t know.” Kyungsoo answers softly, lifting the cup of coffee to his mouth and blowing on it. He glances at Jongin’s house from the kitchen window. “I don’t know.”

He takes a sip of the coffee, glancing at Sehun who has stopped eating and is staring at him.

“What?”

A teasing grin slowly comes up Sehun’s face. “Is he hot?”

Kyungsoo resists the urge to throw his cup of coffee at his friend, instead raising it up to cover the tinge of pink on his cheeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hi.”

Jongin startles at the image of Kyungsoo in front of his door, a small pot held in between his hands as he smiles shyly up at him.

“Kyungsoo, hey.” He greets back, finally mustering up a smile. He hears the soft thuds of feet followed by his three dogs all ganging up beside him in front of Kyungsoo.

“Hey, guys.” Kyungsoo greets, making a face at the dogs since he’s unable to pet them.

Jongin thinks Kyungsoo’s face is cute.

“Right,” Jongin starts, clearing his throat and stepping sideways to let Kyungsoo in. “Come in. You must be freezing.”

Jongin quickly takes the pot from Kyungsoo’s hand, the latter mumbling a small thank you before bending down to finally pet the fur balls circling around his feet.

“I figured,” Kyungsoo starts softly when they’re both sitting down. “We could have that dinner now.”

Jongin pauses at this, quelling down the smile on his face to a proper one. “You’re right.”

Kyungsoo lifts his head and smiles, praying to anyone that his face does not turn to any shade of pink anytime soon.

They stay quiet when eating, Jongin mumbling how long it has been since he’s enjoyed a good chicken stew.

Kyungsoo could only nod, not wanting to seem creepy if he smiles too broadly at the compliment.

He steals a few glances at Jongin, feeling relieved when he sees no visible trace of bruising on the other male.

Jongin catches his gaze and, seeming to understand, tilts his head from side to side and then smiles. “Nothing.”

Kyungsoo knows he’s blushing as he nods, busying himself with stuffing more food into his mouth than he can handle.

He chokes.

Jongin’s laughter rights bright and clear inside the small space and Kyungsoo think this isn’t half as bad as a way to go if he gets to hear that.

“Did I startle you that much?” Jongin asks softly after Kyungsoo’s taken a huge gulp of water.

Kyungsoo exhales and then shakes his head.

“No,” he glances at Jongin. “Maybe, a-a bit.”

Jongin just grins in some sort of apologetic way. “Sorry.”

They continue eating like nothing happened, Jongin chattering the night away with random stuff and Kyungsoo does not ask anything related to the bruises from the past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next night is filled with bruises once again.

Jongin flashes Kyungsoo a glance, too quick and almost as if ashamed.

Kyungsoo does not look away, eyeing the blooming purples and yellows on Jongin’s jaw and the cut on his right cheek. He eyes the way Jongin winces after pressing a thumb on the corner of his mouth, exhaling loudly.

Kyungsoo watches until Jongin steps inside his house.

Ten minutes later, Jongin opens the door to Kyungsoo’s incessant knocking.

“Kyungsoo?”

The shorter of the two does not reply, simply staring at Jongin until the latter moves away from the door, letting Kyungsoo enter.

Jongin closes the door and silently follows Kyungsoo towards the living room where the latter sits down on the couch and pointedly stares at Jongin.

Not knowing what else to do or say, Jongin hesitantly sits beside Kyungsoo, trying to title his face away from Kyungsoo’s staring.

“Look at me.”

Jongin sighs but does what he’s asked, finally looking at Kyungsoo and relieved to see that the male is not looking at him but seems to be busy with the box in his hand.

Jongin flinches when Kyungsoo places his finger on his jaw, gently urging his face to tile a little more to the left. He feels the cold press of something on his skin before he hisses softly at the sting on his cut.

“Don’t be such a baby.” He hears Kyungsoo say as he continues his ministrations, pressing the cotton around the cut gently. It last for almost a full minute, probably two, before Kyungsoo pulls away again to rummage inside his box.

“Have you had dinner?”

Jongin blinks at the sudden question and he’s caught completely off guard when Kyungsoo places a gauze over his cut.

“So,” Kyungsoo closes the box and looks at him. “Have you?”

Jongin shakes his head and Kyungsoo sighs. “Can you get me a clean towel, please?”

A nod and then Jongin pads towards his room upstairs, cursing when he stubs his toe on the corner of the closet. The lights are off and Jongin does not bother turning them on, choosing to rummage inside one of the drawers blindly searching for a small towel.

Once he gets down, Kyungsoo’s no longer sitting on the couch but there’s noise coming from the kitchen so he walks there next.

“Here.” He says softly, waiting for Kyungsoo to take the towel in his hand.
Kyungsoo hums in acknowledgement as he opens the fridge, grabbing a few ice cubes and then closing it, turning back to Jongin and taking the towel.

This time, Jongin does not wait for instructions as he sits down on the chair and watches Kyungsoo grab one, sliding it in front of him.

It’s quiet as Jongin watches Kyungsoo wrap the ice cubes with the towel, making sure it’s snug before leaning closer and pressing it gently against his left jaw.

Jongin does not know how many seconds (minutes?) has passed in silence, choosing to close his eyes and focus on the coldness on his cheek.

In front of him, Kyungsoo debates whether to pull away and just press the ice on his face to get rid of his blush or to smack Jongin with it so he won’t have to stare at his pretty face anymore.

Muffling a dreamy sigh, he forgets his worries for a second as he takes the time to study Jongin’s face closely.

‘So handsome.’

His shoulders sag, unable to stop the soft smile on his face as he silently watches the male in front of him.

The calm is shattered though when Jongin opens his eyes all of a sudden, catching Kyungsoo’s soft gaze on him.

“Fuck.”

Kyungsoo mumbles his apologies repeatedly, finally urging Jongin to hold the ice down on his cheek himself as the former panics even more.

“Hey, Kyungsoo,” he starts softly, wishing Kyungsoo would hear him over his own panic. “Thank you.”

Kyungsoo does hear him because he stops, breathing in and out a few times before nodding and finally relaxing on his teeth.

“I have some fried chicken.” Kyungsoo says instead, picking on his fingers and looking at the side. “Want to eat them together?”

Jongin grins, winces and nods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyungsoo does not ask about anything and neither does Jongin say anything.
It starts to become a habit: Jongin or Kyungsoo coming over for dinner and Kyungsoo barging in on Jongin’s house with a first aid kit.

“Why are you not boyfriends, yet?” Baekhyun asks one day, nonchalant and indifferent. Kyungsoo blames Sehun for corrupting his own boyfriend.

“Sehun, stay away from Baekhyun.”

“He’s my boyfriend!” Sehun yells from where he’s watching Animal Planet on the living room.

“No, seriously.” Baekhyun starts again, tapping his fingers on the counter and staring expectantly at Kyungsoo. “Why?”

“We’re friends.” Kyungsoo says simply, placing his pen down on the table and turning to look at Baekhyun.

“Yeah, but,” Baekhyun starts again, wiggling his fingers mysteriously. “You do boyfriend stuffs – a lot. Why not just go ahead and be a legit one?”

Kyungsoo pretends he’s not blushing as he makes a face at Baekhyun, his attention quickly stolen when he sees Jongin from the kitchen’s window go out to throw some trash.

“I saw that!”

Kyungsoo groans loudly and turns his back on his best friend, ripping the note he was writing in earlier and throwing it at Baekhyun’s laughing face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Do you like pancakes?”

Jongin opens one eyes, staring down at Kyungsoo who’s busy cleaning the cuts on his knuckles. He could feel how soft Kyungsoo’s hand is and he’s momentarily distracted by the feel of it because next second, Kyungsoo’s looking up at him.

‘Is he blushing?’

“Pancakes?” Kyungsoo mumbles, bringing his gaze down to Jongin’s knuckles once more.

“Oh, yeah.” Jongin nods, clearing his throat and the nodding once more. “Yeah, I love pancakes.”

Kyungsoo looks up at this, beaming at Jongin before putting a gauze on his knuckle and sitting up straight.

“Drop by tomorrow for breakfast.”

Jongin hums in approval, following Kyungsoo’s movement as he prepares to leave.

“Why don’t you even ask me anything?” Jongin asks, biting on his bottom lip and wincing immediately after.

Kyungsoo catches the movement and he hesitantly leans forward, unable to catch himself as he thumbs the cut on Jongin’s bottom lip.

Their gazes meet once more and Kyungsoo quickly pulls back, hiding his hand behind his back and then sighing.

“I figured you’ll tell me if you’re ready.” He whispers, slouching on his seat in defeat.

“Did it ever crossed your mind that I might be a gangster?” Jongin asks, furrowing his brow in irritation at the image of Kyungsoo being too trusting. “Or that I might be a criminal?”

Kyungsoo looks so guilty and sad and it effectively makes Jongin deflate. “Sorry.”

“Sorry, I–“ Jongin starts again, running a hand through his hair and sighing. “This is a very poor way of saying my gratitude.”

Kyungsoo does not say anything, eyes trained heavily on the box on his lap.

“I’m a cage fighter.” Jongin says simply, looking away from Kyungsoo who has lifted his head to stare wide-eyed at him. “I fight… underground.”

It’s Kyungsoo’s turn to bite his lip this time, staring at Jongin’s pained face. The word ‘why’ threatens to bubble and come out his mouth but he swallows it down.

“When my parents died,” Jongin says softly, eyes staring straight at the lone frame on the table. “they left a huge debt as well.”

Kyungsoo lowers his gaze down to Jongin’s shirt, feeling apologetic for the male in front of him.

“They used the house as collateral to pay for my studies.” Jongin continues and Kyungsoo could clearly see the way his fists clenches. “When they died, those people came to take the house away.”

“I couldn’t let them take away the place where my parents’ memory were.” Jongin says, much much softer. “So this happened.”

Kyungsoo stays quiet as Jongin turns to him with a small smile.

“Thank you.” He finally manages, mustering up a small smile and even raising a fist for support.

Jongin laughs at this and Kyungsoo smiles wider.

A few minutes later, Jongin walks him to his door and bids him goodnight with a kiss on the cheek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyungsoo is getting paranoid.

He stares at the plates – two plates – of pancake on his table and blanches.

“What am I doing?”

The usual dinner together has morphed into having breakfasts together in Kyungsoo’s house as well. The routine happening for over a month now which Baekhyun kindly pointed out earlier when he called Kyungsoo.

A knock on the door makes Kyungsoo jump, his heart beating irregularly fast when he opens the door to Jongin’s smiling face.

“Good morning, Kyungsoo.”

Kyungsoo could only nod, stepping aside and letting Jongin in who quickly goes straight to the kitchen.

“You only befriended me because of food.” He grumbles, forgetting his earlier dilemma as he looks at the now familiar image of Jongin sitting inside his kitchen.

“Yeah.” Jongin agrees, grinning dumbly at him.

Kyungsoo makes a face in return and sits down in front of Jongin, leaning closer towards the other male when he sees the bruises fading away.

“Oh look,” he says, “Your face is starting to look like a human’s.”

Jongin flicks him on the forehead and he laughs out loud.

“Good morning to you, too, Jongin.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Can I take you out on a date?”

Kyungsoo freezes, hand suspended in between them and any thought of treating the bruise on Jongin’s cheek diminishing.

“I–“ Kyungsoo starts, unable to form anything else especially when Jongin catches his hand in between them.

“I like you.” Jongin mumbles, eyes lowered down to gaze at the Kyungsoo’s hand he’s loosely holding. “And I want to take you out on a date.”

Silence.

“I don’t want us to just,” Jongin continues, a bit of frustration in his voice. “I don’t want us to just stay inside the house every time. I want to t-take you to dinner outside. I want to hold your hand and fetch you at your university. I w-want to show you off to my friends.”

Kyungsoo stares.

“I w-want to kiss you.”

Kyungsoo continues staring.

“If it’s okay.” Jongin ends, sighing and letting go of Kyungsoo’s hand when the latter says nothing.

“Okay.” Kyungsoo mumbles, fingers twitching before he braves the distance and pokes Jongin’s hand with his. “I want t-that, too.”

The both of them stay silent, too tense to say anything else until Jongin turns his hand to lace with Kyungsoo’s.

“But,” Kyungsoo says all too sudden and Jongin’s heart misses a beat. “You’re not allowed to spend too much money.”

Jongin blinks once before he clutches his stomach with his free hand, laughing loudly and ignoring how red Kyungsoo’s face is.

“Kyungsoo.” Jongin says once he’s calmed down enough, “Kyungsoo.”

Kyungsoo keeps his frown. “What?”

“It’s nearly done.” Jongin beams, squeezing Kyungsoo’s hand in his. “I’m almost there.”

The frown disappears from Kyungsoo’s face, a relieved smile replacing it as he imagines a healthy Jongin running around with his dogs.

His heart feels absolutely relieved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’ve gone out on a few dates and Kyungsoo can honestly say he’s feeling a whole lot less worried about Jongin.

The gap between the nights where Jongin comes home with a limp or a bruise is getting longer and Kyungsoo looks forward to never seeing them again.

“Stop texting Baekhyun.” Jongin mumbles, prying the phone away from Kyungsoo’s fingers. “Kyungsoo, please.”

Kyungsoo quickly sends the message and places his phone down, finally looking down at Jongin who’s pouting up at him.

“What are you pouting for?” he asks, running his hand through the tallers hair.

“Give me some attention, please.”

Kyungsoo snorts. “Is that why you’re head is in my lap?”

Jongin nods and Kyungsoo chuckles, sliding his hand down to Jongin’s cheek and thumbing the fading bruise on the corner of Jongin’s mouth.

Jongin watches him silently before tilting his head to the side and kissing Kyungsoo’s thumb.

This effectively makes the smaller blush and Jongin feels his heart swell with even more affection for the smaller man.

“I really like you.” Jongin whispers and Kyungsoo purses his lips to fight off the smile threatening to break out of his face.

“I really like you, too.” he mumbles instead, looking away.

There's a rustle and Kyungsoo feels the weight lifted off his lap so he turns to look at Jongin only to be met with a pair of lips on his own.

Jongin has his eyes closed, pressing his lips against Kyungsoo’s for a brief second before pulling away.

“Kyungsoo?”Jongin asks in a small voice, fear slowly eating him from the inside as Kyungsoo remains frozen on his place.

“Kyungsoo, I’m sorry.” he apologizes, panic starting to settle if not for Kyungsoo suddenly shaking his head.

The red slowly starts appearing on Kyungsoo's face, cheeks almost like apples as he bumps his forehead against Jongin’s.

No words were said as Jongin slowly closes the gap between their mouth once more, pausing the tiniest distant possible and waiting for any sign of discomfort.

This time, Kyungsoo bridges the gap.

Both their eyes close, simply feeling the press of their lips against one another before Jongin takes the leap and pushes harder.

Jongin feels Kyungsoo's breath hitch and he smiles against the kiss, parting his lips the slightest bit and kissing just a tad harder, willing Kyungsoo to return the action.

Kyungsoo does.

Jongin feels like he's going crazy, mouth open as he sucks Kyungsoo's bottom lip between his own. He feels his heart pound painfully against his chest when Kyungsoo parts his own mouth open and kisses him - hard.

Time seems to slow down as Kyungsoo feels himself fall down on his back, Jongin towering over him as they continue kissing. He’s suffocating, gasping for air as Jongin's tongue meets his own.

Air rushes down his lungs when Jongin pulls away, dragging his mouth to his cheek and pressing wet kisses there.

Kyungsoo takes this time to open his eyes, meeting Jongin's half lidded gaze as he continues kissing down until he feels a wet kiss press down against his ear.

“I really, really like you.”

Kyungsoo swallows and nods, hooking his arms around Jongin’s neck.

He feels Jongin smiles before the taller male hides his face against his neck, pressing a few lazy kisses there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This is the last one.”

Kyungsoo looks up from where he’s silently studying for the coming exams, eyes taking in the small smile on Jongin’s face.

“Do you mean-”

“Yes.” Jongin cuts him off, turning Kyungsoo on his seat and hugging him. “It’ll all be over soon.”

Kyungsoo feels the air knock out of him as he smiles against Jongin’s shirt, feeling boneless and relieved at the image of his future with Jongin, safe and sound with him.

“When?” he asks, words muffled and almost undecipherable as he presses his face deeper against Jongin’s chest.

Jongin does not answer immediately, choosing to rock the both of them softly to a music he alone could hear and pressing a kiss against Kyungsoo’s temple.

“This Sunday.” the taller of the two whispers softly, nuzzling against the tufts of Kyungsoo’s hair.

There’s fear looming at the back of his mind, one that Kyungsoo does not voice out, along with every other day he stays awake at night wondering if Jongin could sleep well from all the bruises and cuts he has.

“You better win it. Quickly.” he mumbles, snaking his arms around Jongin’s middle and hugging the taller male tight.

He feels the vibration of Jongin’s chuckle and something warm blooms rapidly inside his chest, filling him and suffocating him with affection for the man in his arms.

“Don’t get hurt too much.” Kyungsoo adds, so soft Jongin could feel the other’s pain in him.

“Yes, sir.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The days roll by quickly and when Sunday comes, Kyungsoo chooses to forego meeting Jongin.

Jongin does not complain, content with exchanging text messages with the shorter male as he focuses on the moves he has been practicing.

Night comes fast and Kyungsoo takes a quick glance at Jongin’s house, only waiting for a few minutes before the owner comes out all bundled up in his beige sweater and brown coat.

He feels his chest swell with affection, watching as Jongin stops in front of his house and makes to knock but stops himself at the last minute.

Kyungsoo watches Jongin walk away, clutching his chest and releasing a heavy sigh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyungsoo wakes up to a knock at his door.

His eyes blearily focus on the clock situated on the wall in front of him, attention escaping his grasp until a knock comes again and he feels the weight of something on his lap.

He catches sight of the familiar box and he quickly scrambles up, barely remembering falling asleep on the couch - waiting.

Any thoughts of asking who’s at the other side of the door vanishes as he throws the piece of wood open and takes in Jongin’s figure.

“Jongin.”

A gasp - so sweet and so relieved.

Jongin returns it by swooping forward, claiming Kyungsoo's lips with his and pushing them forward until the door closes behind them.

“Jongin.” A kiss. “Jongin. Jongin!”

Jongin pulls away, reluctance evident as he keeps pressing feather light kisses against Kyungsoo's cheek.

Kyungsoo takes a deep breath and a step backward, tracing Jongin's cheek with his thumb and asking that one question that matters with his eyes.

Jongin meets his gaze head on.

And smiles.

Kyungsoo is given no time to even bask in the beauty of Jongin's smile because the next second, Jongin's kissing him again.

He could feel the smile against his lips and he couldn't help but mimic the other male, responding to the kiss enthusiastically and moaning rather loudly when Jongin brings a hand to the back of his neck, pressing a searing kiss on his mouth.

It’s intoxicating, the way Jongin sucks in all his attention and energy as they dance and finally fall against the soft sheets of Kyungsoo's bed.

Another moan is ripped out, this one from Jongin, as their clothes come off one by one until everything lies down to form a puddle of intimacy on the bedroom floor.

Jongin rolls his tongue against Kyungsoo's nipple, grinning when he hears Kyungsoo groan loudly, fingers coming down to tangle at his hair.

“You- ah!”

Jongin surges forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks later, Kyungsoo finally returns the first aid kit back to his cabinet.

He meets Jongin's questioning gaze and he only smiles, walking closer and hooking his arms on the taller’s shoulders.

“You look so handsome.”

Jongin's cheek flushes a pretty shade of pink and Kyungsoo feels proud of himself, a feeling that does not last long when he feels hands slip past his shirt and settle on his bare waist.

“I know.”

“Cocky bastard.”

Jongin grins at this, sliding one hand lower and lower-

“Jongin!”

Jongin guffaws at this, pulling his hand back and hugging Kyungsoo close to him.

“Have I told you that I love you?” Jongin asks softly, cheek pressing snugly against the side of Kyungsoo's head.

Kyungsoo feels his heart pound rather painfully, heart rapidly swelling with love for the man hugging him.

“I don't think so.” he jokes, pressing a kiss against Jongin's chin. “But just so you know, I love you too.”

“Damn right you do.”