The first time Junmyeon does aegyo for Minseok, it's completely unexpected and Minseok is the one who flushes, the tip of his ears burning red as the younger man continues to pull off some cute poses, charming Minseok into paying for the meal.
It's also how Minseok realizes that Junmyeon is finally close and comfortable with him. It’s both embarrassing and heartwarming.
Minseok covers the embarrassment with a shrug, giving in to pay for their meal already just so that Junmyeon would finally stop. But Minseok is also secretly weak to Junmyeon’s aegyo, especially when this time it's being directed to him. He would never admit it to the other though.
Part of the reason why Minseok also gives in is because the blinding smile that Junmyeon gives to Minseok as the latter pays for the meal is addictive and entrancing.
Minseok wants Junmyeon to smile like that at him more. He wants Junmyeon to smile like that because of Minseok more. And Junmyeon does.
He begins to hang out more with Minseok, sometimes draping himself over Minseok’s shoulders after practice, cutely pouting at the older for some attention and back rubs - that he'll return, of course - and Minseok can't resist it when Junmyeon does aegyo. He can't stop himself from giving into Junmyeon’s small wishes, he loves Junmyeon(’s smile) too much.
Minseok finds his eyes always going to Junmyeon, following the younger as he dances, watching the way his face cutely scrunches when he sings, and Minseok is aware - really, he is - of how he's in too deep.
Junmyeon, however though, is rather unaware of Minseok’s crush on him, and that's mainly because of two reasons. One is that Minseok never shows it outright, it's more in the little things he does for Junmyeon. And secondly, Junmyeon just soaks up all the love and attention he gets, charming his way through all the hyungs.
The thing with Minseok is, is that he doesn't exactly know how to translate his feelings into coherent words. He can't quite figure out how to let Junmyeon know exactly how he feels. It frustrates him because he can easily tease and seduce others, be coy and playful. Yet when it comes to Junmyeon, he gets tongue tied or just stays mum. It feels like he can't fully grasp himself whenever he's around the other.
So Minseok stays quiet.
He sets aside the love he feels and instead concentrates on the practices, trains his best so that, if possible, just somehow, he can debut in the same group as Junmyeon. And although they do end up debuting together and in one group, they're in different subgroups, so it’s…just not the same.
Minseok gets sent to China with Jongdae and Luhan and the others, and he's ok with it - really he is. He can rely on the other five, and they can rely on him. He feels comfortable around them. But his love for Junmyeon remains. It remains hidden in the box he pushed away into the attic of his mind, covered in dust but not forgotten, because at night, when Minseok’s alone and unable to sleep, he goes back and opens it up. He remembers the bright smiles and the cute, pink cheeks. He remembers the warmth of Junmyeon leaning into him after practices, and he wants it back.
Minseok is always the most excited whenever both subgroups reunite again but he keeps it cool. He always keeps it cool. And in his attempts to keep it cool, he becomes awkward around Junmyeon. The time apart doesn't help either.
So, instead, Minsoek stays with Luhan. He lets Luhan help him feel better and take his mind off of Junmyeon and his crush on the younger. Luhan is a calming presence, and he knows and understands minseok so well. Minseok doesn't even have to outright tell Luhan about his crush, Luhan just knows.
And without saying much, he keeps Minseok occupied when the jealousy emerges whenever Minseok sees Jongdae so easily cuddle up with the leader, getting and taking as much of Junmyeon’s attention as he can. Minseok knows that Jongdae doesn't love Junmyeon like he does, that Jongdae isn't in love with Junmyeon. Heck, even Jongdae knows about Minseok’s crush. Part of why he snuggles up with Junmyeon is to urge minseok to do something about the crush.
But Minseok remains awkward, and unknowingly - or perhaps not so unknowingly - distances himself from the younger male. He doesn't completely give up, though. He stills tries his best to help Junmyeon out with his leader burden, taking care of the others when Junmyeon’s too tired, the dark circles too prominent. And Minseok doesn't realize all the little ways he helps Junmyeon, but the latter does. But Junmyeon, instead of thinking much about it, just files it away for later, he doesn't have the time anyway.
Junmyeon looks back on those little moments, Minseok’s warm hand absentmindedly rubbing circles on his back, a small, quick shoulder massage before a flight, a small awkward smile sent his way as he tells the younger members to stop being so noisy, when he’s alone. He thinks about them and smiles to himself until the older memories resurface and he feels nostalgic. Their trainee days, although rough and seemingly endless, were fun and full of memories that Junmyeon wishes he could revisit someday.
Back then, him and Minseok were also closer.
Now, Minseok keeps his distance. He only looks at Junmyeon when he thinks that the latter isn’t looking, but Junmyeon has become more observant now. He had to, as a leader. Junmyeon’s not a natural leader, but the position makes the person, and even if he’s not a natural leader, Junmyeon is a natural learner, and he picks up things really easily. (That’s another thing that Minseok admires and loves about Junmyeon).
Somehow, even when the group starts promotions as twelve, Minseok is unable to lose the awkwardness completely with Junmyeon. He gets better, that he definitely does. But not completely.
When it’s twelve people living in a dorm together, it becomes necessary to learn to live with each other. And as the members mold themselves into a routine, into each other’s routines, Minseok and Junmyeon also find common ground. Junmyeon really only opens up his worries to Luhan and Minseok, and sometimes Yifan.
When he can’t meet up with his other friends, his other hyungs, he comes to Minseok and Luhan, and that is one thing that Minseok cherishes the most. The trust that Junmyeon has in him is… is something that Minseok cares for a lot, and he always tries his best to help the younger out with his burdens, offer a warm shoulder to lean on or an equally warm hug to feel better with.
The way Junmyeon fits into his arms, with his head fitting itself under Minseok’s chin and strong arms encircling his waist, is almost natural. Minseok presses a soft kiss on top of Junmyeon’s head at the end of every hug, it also becomes a part of their routine, a habit.
Minseok both loves and hates the promotions as twelve. He misses being in China, promoting as Exo-M, but he can’t deny the happiness he feels with being able to see Junmyeon everyday, losing the awkwardness little by little every time. But then, Minseok also hates his heart, where his love for the leader grows and grows and doesn’t seem to stop. It’s painful, especially when he knows that they’re not reciprocated.
At times, Minseok feels like that he’s getting somewhere, maybe. But then, he remembers that Junmyeon loves everyone. He cuddles with every member, hugs them all and listens to all their problems, takes care of each and every member. The supportive hand on his shoulder before performances, the reassuring smiles before they have to go record a variety show or go on a radio show is nothing especially only for Minseok. It is special, but it’s not…just for Minseok.
And it’s sad. It hurts. But Minseok wouldn’t trade this love for another.
It’s kind of unfortunate, that it takes another almost two years and three members leaving and numerous fights, for the group’s bond to become stronger. But it is better than nothing, especially when now, Junmyeon looks back at him, with that same twinkle of hope that Minseok knows he had when they were younger.
Luhan is also there, constantly texting him with different fansite pictures of Junmyeon’s face when he looks at Minseok, a plethora of winky and kissy face emojis following. Minseok hopes, he hopes that what he sees isn’t wrong. Luhan’s instincts are also pretty good. So it must be true right?
When Junmyeon pulls Minseok closer, his arm hanging around Minseok’s shoulders, during their The Star performance, and looks at him with a smirk pulling at the corner of his lips as he sings the lyrics, Minseok just knows. He knows that there’s something more in that smile. There’s a promise in that look, in that smile. There’s a reassurance that feels stronger, different from before, in Junmyeon’s hugs now, that last just a second too long.
And Minseok… Minseok feels a warmth bloom in his chest, his heart expand with all the love he feels and it’s better than everything else, as he holds Junmyeon’s hand in his, for a brief moment, their fingers intertwined and matching twin smiles on their faces as they perform their songs, always easily finding each other.