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tell me pretty lies

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Tell me pretty lies, look me in the face;

Tell me that you love me, even if it’s fake.


Junmyeon spends so much time simply watching.

He wakes up at six sharp and gets ready in record time and spends an hour and thirty-five minutes on public transit, watching. He lets his eyes linger on the sunrise he manages to catch on some winter mornings; he lets the moving landscape steal his attention through the moving window of the first bus he embarks; he observes the sleep-deprived middle-aged workers that come and go through the city’s various subway stations. He gets off and walks across campus and watches in passing as students mill around, laughing, or in silence, alone or with company. He takes note of distracted faces in class, or attentive ones, captivated, or bored.

He files away various scenes and emotions he encounters—from the bright-eyed, shy teenage girl who nods along and murmurs a smile through the lyrics of the songs playing from her earphones in the library, to the old man with the empty gaze that stares all around him in the subway car without really looking. Junmyeon observes and notes and watches, constantly.

Most of the time, he thinks very little of it all—those instances are but mere moments in his life that he happens to pay particular attention to; it’s just a game he plays with himself. He doesn’t feel compelled by any of it, doesn’t really put much thought into it. It’s just a thing he does.

He takes apart scenes and people and things with his eyes and a dull brain. It keeps him busy and makes him feel somewhat like he’s alive, in some weird, arrogant way.

But then, along the way, sometimes, he meets Baekhyun—whether it’s on campus or by chance in the subway, or some evening at a bar after not having seen each other for days. Junmyeon meets Baekhyun, and things change.

Junmyeon feels, wants, thrives under Baekhyun’s light. He doesn’t stick to simply watching Baekhyun smile, speak, laugh; he doesn’t simply stop to observe the way his entire body seems to express whatever he is saying, or thinking. Junmyeon cannot simply bring himself to just watch Baekhyun.

Maybe it’s because Baekhyun is engaging in a way no one else or nothing else could ever be. He tends to lean forward when talking, swaying when singing, eyes alight with challenge, and he touches to signify his presence, his attention—a hand on Junmyeon’s elbow, fingertips dancing across his skin, heat that seeps through the cotton of his clothes in a way that burns more than anything. Baekhyun laughs loudly and brightly and compels Junmyeon to do the same, albeit shyly—it’s worth the added spark to Baekhyun’s eyes, though, so he doesn’t mind. Baekhyun has a low humming tone to his voice that pushes Junmyeon to talk, to share, to do anything that will assure him Baekhyun’s undivided attention.

When Baekhyun shines so bright, when he has so much to give, it’s so hard—impossible, even—for Junmyeon to simply sit back and let it be. He’s drawn in despite himself, enamoured, desperate.

It is so, so dangerous, how much Junmyeon wants when Baekhyun is around. It’s terrifying.


“Hyung, you alright?”

Baekhyun is watching him with a half-amused, half-concerned face, eyebrows raised slightly enough to be both adorably worried yet somewhat enticing.

Junmyeon shakes his head of the thought, and looks back up at his friend with a smile. “Yeah, of course. Why?”

Letting out a snort, Baekhyun chuckles. “You just stared at me for a good, like, ten seconds. Eyes wide open, and all. Not that I was counting, but.”

“Weren’t you?” Junmyeon asks, playful smile sketching itself on his lips. He doesn’t even mean to smile. It just happens.

At that, Baekhyun tilts his head, bringing his straw back between his lips. His vanilla milkshake sits half-finished on the table in front of him. The blue tint of his glass leaves pale, almost unnoticeable cloudlike reflections across his slender palms, Junmyeon notices. “You wish, hyung,” Baekhyun murmurs, before taking a long sip of his drink.

Junmyeon supresses the thought that says, Yes, I do.

“You’re a menace,” he settles on saying, because it isn’t a lie, either.

It makes Baekhyun’s smile broaden, and Junmyeon’s body thrums with sudden warmth. “That’s just your way of saying I’m pretty,” Baekhyun retorts, eyes narrowing with audacity. “Tell me I’m pretty, hyung, and get it over with.”

Junmyeon’s heart jumps to his throat, lead fills his stomach, fear slows his thoughts. It’s not the first time, though, so he knows what to say, quickly. “Find yourself a pretty boy to do just that, Baekhyun. I’ll pass.” He says it with something that he hopes is nonchalance, but there’s a shift in the air, and Junmyeon knows what it is.

It happens, again, not unlike many times before—the way Baekhyun’s eyes go through that wave of fast-changing emotions, setting them on fire with something Junmyeon can’t understand, before they settle on determination and a mix of something that is too hard for him to decipher. It’s like Baekhyun puts up walls around himself, armed with challenge and something Junmyeon doesn’t want to even try to comprehend.

Then, Baekhyun leans back, and says, “Yeah, okay, sure. Are you free tomorrow?”

Junmyeon takes the bait, allows the change in subject. Tomorrow is Friday. He has one midday class and very little to do past two in the afternoon. Baekhyun knows, so it’s not like he stands a chance. “Will you let me say no?”

Baekhyun shakes his head. “Nope.”

Junmyeon rolls his eyes. His heart follows the motion, jolting in his ribcage. “So what’s your plan, then?”

“Chanyeol’s band is playing at this DIY venue in Hongdae,” Baekhyun lets out, tone low and almost rumbling. Junmyeon notices how Baekhyun’s eyelids also flutter slightly as his voice drops. “I know the place, and believe me, it’s gonna be great. Plus, Chanyeol has been practicing for this gig for like, weeks. You know how great they are. You in?”

Junmyeon would never say no. “Pick me up at eight?”

There’s a shark-like smirk that pulls at Baekhyun’s lips, but it’s not devoid of a certain touch of affection. Junmyeon relaxes under the sight, allows himself to let it mean just a little something more than it probably does. “Make it seven. Let’s grab dinner together, yeah?”

“Sure,” Junmyeon nods, and grabs his coffee milkshake for a sip to give him something to do. The taste is something between sweet and bitter, and Junmyeon lets it sit against his tongue before he swallows.

“Love you, hyung,” Baekhyun chirps, before taking a sip of his own drink, and Junmyeon’s heart sinks, just a little.


There’s something about the simple sight of a stage that sets Junmyeon ablaze, almost, with the way it leaves him apprehending for something better, greater. That’s the power music has on him, he supposes.

The setup takes up most of the space at the end of the room. It can hold about three hundred people, at most—then again, it’s not like the basement of a vintage record shop can hold much of an audience, but that’s the beauty about those places, or so Baekhyun says.

Baekhyun, who’s nursing a beer in a distracted hand, dirty blonde hair soft and framing his face in messy flocks, shining a glow of his own in the dimly lit room. Junmyeon cannot help but sit back and watch—the only reason why he isn’t propelled to interact with him, to have a taste of that attention, is because Baekhyun is smiling up at Jongin, and Junmyeon stays back. He only watches, because Baekhyun is gorgeous in a way that shouldn’t even be allowed, and Jongin isn’t so bad himself (far from it), and Baekhyun has his free hand on Jongin’s bicep and Junmyeon stares.

Low lights fill the space, tracing shadows across Baekhyun’s face. The band is tuning their instruments, strumming bits of melodies, and Baekhyun perks up, hums, nods along. The heat grows in the packet room, and Baekhyun removes his denim jacket, lets it hang over his forearm as he continues to give his attention to Jongin. Not Junmyeon.

Not that it matters, not that Junmyeon is that bothered nor surprised; that’s just the way things go.

He hates how, whenever Baekhyun is around, his thoughts still stem back to him, still draw him back to the alluring being he is, and how helpless he is faced to him. It’s not fair.

Junmyeon brings his own cheap beer to his lips. He promised Baekhyun to drive tonight; he won’t finish this bottle anyway. It tastes like warm piss and makes him want to throw up.

He still tastes the saffron on his tongue, the Indian food the pair of them got before the gig still leaving its taste behind, or maybe Junmyeon only remembers because of the low hums of appreciation Baekhyun kept on letting out.

Before his thoughts can get any more masochistic, however, there’s a booming voice that makes itself heard through the speakers set up at the front.

When Junmyeon looks, the stage is now full, all members of the band at their instruments, laidback but still holding some sort of stance that speaks of thrumming energy. Chanyeol stands at the front, his guitar slung carelessly over his shoulder. He has to bend down slightly to speak into the mic; if Junmyeon didn’t know better, he’d almost think it wasn’t done on purpose.

“Thanks to all of you for coming out today,” Chanyeol says after a simple greeting. “We’re soon releasing an EP, and we’ll be playing some of our new songs today. Hope you enjoy the show!”

Encouraging cheers erupt, and Junmyeon joins them heartily. He can still hear Baekhyun distinctly amongst the voices, though, loud and bolstering and not any less endearing. Junmyeon smiles despite himself.

The set kicks off with energy, and Chanyeol looks right in his element, at the forefront with his impeccable guitar skills and versatile voice. On the side, Yixing is nodding to the sound of his bass, and behind him, Jongdae sits behind his laptop and keyboard, in charge of beats and anything a bass and guitar can’t produce in terms of sound.

Sometime in the middle of the second song, there’s a familiar presence that appears at his side, and Junmyeon doesn’t even think twice before leaning into it. He feels the body relax as well, thin fingers enveloping his wrist. He suppresses a shiver.

“You’re missing all the fun all the way back here,” Baekhyun whines. His speech is slowed down, but not any less bright. He’s a bit tipsy, but not drunk just yet. “Come join me.”

Junmyeon doesn’t think of the way he notices how Baekhyun says me and not us, nor does he think of the way he seeks for Jongin, before he finds him sucking faces with Sehun near the door. He lets the relief wash through him nonetheless.

“I don’t mind, you know,” he says, because it’s the truth. “I like it, just to stay back and watch.”

Baekhyun isn’t having it, however, and Junmyeon laughs when the younger stomps his foot like a petulant child. “Hyung,” his voice drags out. “You came here with me. The least you could do is have fun with me.”

Junmyeon wants a lifetime with Baekhyun. The least he could do is give him another night, maybe; even if it’s not exactly the way he wants it to be. “I’m an awful dancer,” he says, but he’s already standing up from his stool, letting Baekhyun lead the way to the middle of the crowd.

When they stop, Baekhyun lets go of his hand, but still stays close, so close. Junmyeon could count Baekhyun’s moles this close, he could trace a pattern between them, he could lean forward and press his lips against the skin of Baekhyun’s sensitive neck. He doesn’t.

“You don’t need to dance, hyung,” Baekhyun says. It’s probably said loudly to be heard over the music, but Junmyeon hears it as a murmur, a whisper there only for him to catch. “Just follow my lead.”

Baekhyun’s moves are careless, the stares he gets not holding him back the slightest. His body is stepping left and right, forward and back, in a way that’s irregular yet still full of grace, measured in a way only Baekhyun can master. He often catches Junmyeon’s gaze, smile dazzling, even brighter than the lights reflecting themselves in his eyes, and it makes Junmyeon laugh. Letting himself have a taste of a happiness by Baekhyun’s side is far more enjoyable than the myriad of conflicting feelings that surge at the sight of his smile.

Junmyeon only follows him with his gaze, his own body gravitating around Baekhyun on its own accord. That’s the way they’ve always worked, the two of them, he thinks distractedly. Baekhyun is the sun and Junmyeon is the desperate moon that gyrates towards him.

“You’re a mess, Byun Baekhyun,” he says halfway through the fifth song, because it’s much easier to tease Baekhyun than to admit to the thoughts swarming his head.

At that, Baekhyun turns towards him fully, eyes just a tad bit glassy. He’s had a couple more beers since three songs ago, and his hair is sticking to his face with the sheer sheet of sweat that covers his forehead. Black roots turning into blonde strands are plastered to his skin, but he doesn’t lose an ounce of his beauty, Junmyeon thinks.

He watches, watches as Baekhyun approaches him, the music pulsing all around them. He watches as Baekhyun brings his arms up, crosses them around Junmyeon’s neck, pulling them unnecessarily closer. He watches as Baekhyun lets his head loll to the side, hips swaying, steps heavy.

He wants nothing more than to take what’s in his arms, now, his hands seemingly moving on their own towards Baekhyun’s waist. Junmyeon holds himself back, however; he can’t have this, he doesn’t think so, anyway.

Baekhyun seems oblivious to his hesitation, though. “Hyung,” he lets out, needy, breathy.

Junmyeon knows that tone.

It’s sudden, a violent rush, how Junmyeon almost loses his balance, how his knees almost buckle, how the overwhelming want submerges him instantly. His hands tighten around Baekhyun, who pulls them even closer, closer. He shouldn’t.

“Baekhyun,” he whispers. He could lean in and catch Baekhyun’s bottom lip between his teeth, he notices. “You’re too close.”

“I like it,” Baekhyun shudders slightly. “Don’t you like it, hyung?”

God, I do. Oh, I do. I can’t, though, I shouldn’t, we shouldn’t—

“You’re drunk, Baekhyun,” Junmyeon says, almost reluctantly, because it’s the truth and he cannot do that to Baekhyun, not Baekhyun doesn’t know what he wants, what Junmyeon wants—

“I know what I want,” Baekhyun cuts, determined even through the alcohol, and for a fleeting moment, Junmyeon wonders if he was thinking out loud without realizing. “I know you want that, too, hyung.”

Around them, the set leads off to its sixth song, slowing in rhythm, shifting the atmosphere. It’s so atrociously fitting, so much that Junmyeon hates it, because it’s making him hope for something he knows he cannot get, something he knows he doesn’t deserve.

Crooning guitars, prominent bass, brushed out beat. Eyes that shine too bright, directed straight at Junmyeon’s own, with lips blood red and cheeks pink.

“Baekhyun,” is all Junmyeon says, because there’s nothing else on his mind right now, and it’s terrifying.

Baekhyun, Baekhyun, only Baekhyun.

Baekhyun, who closes the distance between them, lips pushing against Junmyeon’s, a whine getting caught in his throat. Baekhyun’s kiss is insistent, pressing, and for a moment, Junmyeon stays immobile, not knowing what to do.

The touch burns and he’s stunned, simply.

There’s an onslaught of emotions that rip through him suddenly, and he finds himself responding in no time, not daring to sort through his thoughts. It eats him up, burning from the deepest of his guts, before the fire travels up to the tip of his fingers, scorching his heart, energizing. Junmyeon kisses Baekhyun passionately, desperately; there’s fear lodging itself at his throat reminding him that all of this is a lie, none of this makes sense, but he’ll swim in that fabricated moment of intimacy for as long as he can.

Baekhyun revels under his touch, pliant and demanding and keen under Junmyeon’s hands, Junmyeon’s lips. He lets out a melody of whines and pleading words, and Junmyeon half-listens, half-chastises himself for giving in.

They kiss for moments on end, and when they break apart, Baekhyun still has his eyes closed. Eyelashes leave shadows across his burning cheeks, lips slick and more red than they were before, if that’s even possible.

He’s gorgeous beyond words, and Junmyeon’s fear catches up to him.

He doesn’t loosen his hold on Baekhyun, but the words make it out of his mouth before he can think them through. “What the hell was that.”

It’s not a question, not exactly a statement; it’s just a thought, out there, fragile and terrifying.

Baekhyun opens his eyes, but they’re blurred out, hurt, clashing with the eagerness he had just displayed moments before. Junmyeon wants to take his words back, especially now that things make even less sense than ever. “Hyung, I lo—”

Junmyeon doesn’t let him finish, he can’t, he won’t. “You’re drunk, Baekhyun,” he repeats the same line as before, because that must be it, right? That must explain everything. “Let’s go.”

But Baekhyun suddenly pushes him—hard—eyes hard and confused but definitely angry. The motion is brusque and sends Junmyeon stumbling back a few steps. The back of his mind screams at him for seeing it coming, for acting so…

Baekhyun is breathing hard, burning with a fire much different than the one that filled them up both just moments prior. “I’m drunk, you’re right,” he lets out, but it’s said with an edge that changes the meaning of his words. Junmyeon doesn’t understand it. “I’ll let myself out, then.”

And just like that, Baekhyun is gone, disappearing through the mass of bodies that surround them. At the end of the room, Chanyeol’s voice is muted, Yixing’s bass pumps through Junmyeon’s body, but he doesn’t feel, doesn’t hear anything.

Junmyeon only watches, watches as Baekhyun leaves, watches.


Junmyeon and Baekhyun have known each other for over three years, now. Three years of which Junmyeon remembers a lot, and very little, at the same time.

He can recall moments and episodes, tons of them. He can recall first meeting Baekhyun, during his first year, through mutual friends on a September evening. Junmyeon remembers how the specialty beer he had ordered that night had a strange, sweet twist to it. Something light had filled up the air, he remembers.

He can recall the sound of Baekhyun’s laugh on impulse, how loud it is and how it shakes him up with invigorating energy and something like happiness. Or something more than that. He can recall the first meeting he had with Baekhyun, and Baekhyun alone, and how many times that laugh rang through Junmyeon’s ears.

Junmyeon would never forget the shape of Baekhyun’s body, the way it moves with easy grace, how his simple mannerisms shape up his habits. He would never; he has spent three years watching, drinking him in, getting caught up in it all. He has spent three years catching up on those little things and somehow making them part of his own life, too; Baekhyun slowly making his way through his own life and habits and seemingly there to stay.

Somewhere halfway, Junmyeon thinks back, maybe he was watching himself fall in love with Baekhyun, all along.


“I’m not gonna lie. You look fucking pathetic.”

Yixing’s words don’t bite—they’re said with a soft tone, not completely reproachful but not exempt of empathy, either. He has an arm around Junmyeon’s shoulders, legs under him. Junmyeon is hugging his knees on the couch, movie long forgotten.

It was Yixing’s idea. Junmyeon hasn’t been out, these past few days.

“I was aware,” Junmyeon says. “I probably smell pathetic, too.”

“Not really. You smell like fresh detergent and ramen,” Yixing chuckles.

Junmyeon doesn’t say anything to that. He looks at the TV screen facing them, but he can’t pay attention. Moving shapes and lowered volume that sounds like white noise reach him, but don’t leave an impression.

Nothing really has left an impression on him since Baekhyun had left him, literally and rather figuratively too, that evening a week ago. He still dreams of lights and music and bad decisions, sometimes.

“Is it Baekhyun?” Yixing says after a moment, and Junmyeon knows he’s only asking for added confirmation—not that he needs it, really. It’d be obvious for anyone to see.

He shrugs, not knowing what to say. Next to him, Yixing sighs, shaking Junmyeon’s shoulders as if to wake him up. Maybe Junmyeon’s dreaming, after all.

“You guys are going to be the death of me,” he murmurs, voice still soft and kind and so reassuring. It’s not the voice Junmyeon wants to hear. “The end of us, even. You’ve been skirting around each other for fucking years now, we all thought you’d end up—”

“He doesn’t—I mean,” Junmyeon starts, and stops. “He doesn’t feel the same.”

Yixing pulls away, incredulous. “Junmyeon, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

Junmyeon sighs, makes to get up, but Yixing pulls him back on the couch with a yank of his wrist.  

Another sigh, slightly affronted this time. “I don’t think you know what I mean. Baekhyun is, he’s…” Everything, too much, and I’m nothing. I could never be enough. “It wouldn’t work.”

“Baekhyun is head over heels for you,” Yixing retorts almost vehemently. His voice is still soft, but the kind edges are sharper, more determined. “He’s constantly raving about you, admiring you. Hell, it took him months just to gather the courage to kiss you, and while you’re just as enamoured—you rejected him, and now you’re both—”

“I did none of that,” Junmyeon says, but his voice is shaking, and Yixing has no right to say any of what’s coming out of his mouth. “You—you have no idea how I feel, what it is.” Baekhyun draws people in, everyone, and Junmyeon is just another victim. Junmyeon, who has nothing to compare; Junmyeon is just himself, sitting back and watching with no intent and empty from the inside and out.

Baekhyun deserves better, is better.

Junmyeon misses him so much.

“Junmyeon-ah,” Yixing says, his voice dripping with sad tones, and Junmyeon wants nothing more than to kick Yixing out, right now. “Have you ever thought about asking Baekhyun how he feels?”

It shouldn’t strike him as surprising, but it does. Junmyeon knows—or thinks he knows, anyway—how Baekhyun feels, because he’s spent so much time with him, so much time bathing in his light, learning him from the inside out, falling in love. He would know. Right? He would know… he would.

Still, he can’t bring himself to answer Yixing’s question, and it seems to be enough for Yixing to drop a sad, dimpled grin. “That’s what I thought,” is what Yixing says, and his kind voice is back, but Junmyeon doesn’t want it, because of what it means.

To his credit, Yixing drops the subject, pulling Junmyeon back under his arm, turning up the volume of the television. “Wouldn’t hurt to ask, you know,” are the last words he lets out, before purposely staring at the screen before them.

Junmyeon ignores them, or attempts to, anyway.


He doesn’t know how, doesn’t know why, but Junmyeon has just opened his front door to find Baekhyun staring back at him, with tired eyes, two rolls of kimbap, and a six-pack of beer.

“Hey,” Baekhyun says, and stops there. Instead of talking, he motions at his occupied hands in means of an explanation, a request to let himself in.

“Hey,” Junmyeon replies, stepping aside, leaving space for Baekhyun to cross the doorframe.

Baekhyun shuffles inside in silence, toeing off his shoes, moving to the living room to put down the food. He fits in seamlessly, Junmyeon notes, and it strikes him how quick he is at noticing things about Baekhyun again, even after not having a sight of him in days.

His heartbeat picks up, but he feels numb.

Baekhyun sits on the couch, picks at the end of his jacket sleeves. “Wanna talk?”

Junmyeon is still standing at the entrance of the room, immobile. If he’s honest, he doesn’t know the answer to Baekhyun’s question. He wants nothing more than spending his days by Baekhyun’s side again, and dreads nothing less than facing the turmoil of emotions in his head that have only amplified in the past week.

Nonetheless, he nods, moves to sit next to Baekhyun on the couch. He can’t refuse him.

The atmosphere is heavy and awkward and all sorts of awful. Junmyeon hugs his knees because it makes himself look smaller, and watches as Baekhyun picks up one of the kimbap rolls, tearing off the packaging, taking a bite. Rice falls on the couch.

“Don’t make a mess of my living room,” Junmyeon mumbles, and he wants to smile so badly, wants to blow off the awkward steam surrounding them both desperately. “I’m not cleaning up behind you.”

Although Junmyeon doesn’t smile, Baekhyun does, and that’s more than enough. “I’m a big boy, hyung,” he says, voice much softer than needed be, “don’t worry about it.”

There’s still something thick pressing above them both, but Junmyeon lets out a chuckle nonetheless, moving to grab himself a bottle of beer. It tastes a bit less like piss and more like beer. That’s always good.

“How have you been?” Junmyeon then inquires, because the question has been eating him up, and he hates how it suddenly makes the air shift around him. He needs to know, though.

Baekhyun’s honesty shouldn’t take him by surprise, but it does nonetheless. “Fucking terrible. I wasn’t sure if I hated you more than you hated me, before I realize it probably didn’t make sense at all. The question probably goes the other way around. But I wasn’t sure, anymore.”

Junmyeon doesn’t understand. “Do you hate me?”

Baekhyun rises an eyebrow, a shy smile playing on his mouth. Junmyeon is reminded of blood red bitten skin, fuller lips. “Would I be here at all if I did?”

Junmyeon shrugs, stays silent. Baekhyun heaves a loud sigh, and Junmyeon doesn’t blame him. “You drive me crazy, hyung, you know. Always assuming but never asking.”

“Didn’t I ask, just now?” Junmyeon says.

“Not the right question,” Baekhyun bites back, still smiling, but it’s slightly sad. Junmyeon wants it gone. “Have you ever thought that maybe I was in love with you?”

Junmyeon should have seen it coming, with Yixing’s presumptions, with all those accumulated moments and memories from the past three years. Junmyeon should have seen it coming if he was so sure of Baekhyun’s feelings, but he doesn’t, and he’s stunned into silence.

Baekhyun seems to catch up on whatever confusion is showing on Junmyeon’s face, because he laughs, and it sounds bittersweet. “Wow, okay, so I guess not. Right, it makes sense, I suppose.”

I wasn’t sure if I hated you more than you hated me, before I realize it probably didn’t make sense at all. The question probably goes the other way around. Baekhyun’s words make a little more sense, but they’re just as more confusing at the same time.

“You do this thing a lot, you know,” Baekhyun starts, and his tone is wondrous, his eyes looking up without really looking, lost in thought. “You’re constantly… noticing things. Pointing them out. It’s like there’s always so much more to what you see than most people do. It’s fascinating, hyung.”

No, it isn’t. Junmyeon is just too afraid to act upon things and settles on watching instead; it’s nothing to be celebrated, he believes.

But Baekhyun continues, unaware. “You pick out emotions from simple things. You put words on scenes and moments that otherwise I wouldn’t even think of. You’re fascinating, hyung.”


“I thought, maybe, you’d have noticed something about me, too,” Baekhyun laughs softly. “I’m not all that great at hiding feelings, so most of the time, I don’t even bother. And I thought you’d pick up pretty fast, too. But you never once said a word, so.”

Constant touches, more and more frequent. Honeysweet voice paired with kind words, honest confessions, but never quite right. They’re making up most of Junmyeon’s memories of Baekhyun, now that he truly takes the time to think. He hates to think of himself as blind, but he might have been, for the past three years or so.

“I had thought… maybe I needed to be more obvious,” Baekhyun muses out loud. It feels as though he’s only sorting through his thoughts, and Junmyeon happens to be a welcomed, treasured spectator. “But I was so afraid.”

“You’re not afraid, Baekhyun,” Junmyeon whispers. He hasn’t found back his voice, but the words escape his mouth nonetheless. “You’re never afraid. You’re brave and you… you’re fearless.” You draw people in with it, and it’s terrifying.

Baekhyun’s smile softens. “Maybe I am,” he says, like he would trust Junmyeon’s words about anything. “But not with you. You’re so… there’s just so much about you, hyung. And I’m barely enough.”

“No,” Junmyeon interrupts again.

“Oh, yes,” Baekhyun still presses. Junmyeon almost wants to believe him. “And I’ve always loved every bit of it, of you. And with the hope you felt the same, I guess… well. You know what happened.”

The kiss. Maybe Baekhyun hadn’t been so drunk, after all—or if he was, their shared kiss was only a result of his inhibitions, letting out something that must have been eating him up from the inside for so long.

Junmyeon isn’t sure how he catches on so quickly, all of a sudden, especially as he seemingly missed all of that for months on end; years, even.

But before he can say anything, Baekhyun beats him to it. “I just came to apologize, I guess. I was wrong about many things, and didn’t even bother asking. I acted selfishly, and got angry at you for no reason—”

Baekhyun was about to confess, that night. It suddenly hits Junmyeon like a punch to his gut, and he hates himself for it. Words he had thought were only lies, or a diluted reality of what he wanted; he had refused to hear it all to protect himself from hurting, while all along Baekhyun had been more honest with himself than he had.

Hyung, I love you. Those were the words Junmyeon was meant to hear that night, he realizes.

Baekhyun had every reason to be angry. Junmyeon is angry at himself, too.

“You love me,” Junmyeon breathes out, unbelieving, but hopeful. “You’re in love with me.”

Baekhyun stops in his words, looks up at Junmyeon with wide eyes. He’s so beautiful.

There’s a sheepish smile that pulls at Baekhyun’s lips. “Surprise, I guess?”

A laugh bubbles out of Junmyeon’s mouth, but that’s not exactly how he’s feeling right now, and he barely understands it. “Baekhyun, oh my God. Baekhyun, I’m an idiot.”

He laughs harder at that, a little hysterical, and Baekhyun joins him, unsure. “Uh, I don’t think so?”

Junmyeon stands up, sets his long-forgotten beer on the coffee table in front of them. “Oh, Baekhyun, you have no idea.”

It feels a little like he’s watching himself go through the motions, but it also feels strikingly real, how each of Junmyeon’s actions follow each other with purpose and certainty. He’s feeling and living through each second, from the moment he crosses the short distance between the two of them, straddling Baekhyun’s thighs, settling on his lap, to the moment he places a delicate hand on the younger’s cheek, revering.

Baekhyun freezes under him, breath heavy, and Junmyeon almost curses himself for not seeing, all this time. It isn’t a sight he wasn’t met with before; he’s seen that awed, breathless face aimed at him countless times before, but maybe was too busy admiring to understand the meaning of it.

“I love you too, you know,” Junmyeon breathes out. “So much that I was blinded by it.”

He hates how he sounds—hopelessly romantic, desperately so—but it’s the truth that rings through his words makes him forget about it momentarily. He continues, a sudden rush pushing the words out. His hand feels so soft against Baekhyun’s skin. “I couldn’t—I would have never thought someone like you—” he brushes his thumb across Baekhyun’s cheekbone, who flutters his eyes shut, lips parted, “would ever feel that way about me. Let alone—”

“I love you,” Baekhyun repeats, and Junmyeon wants to laugh at the ridiculous pair they must make.

But Baekhyun’s lips are suddenly on his own, and this time, Junmyeon kisses back immediately. There’s something to this kiss that’s different from the previous one—maybe the underlying promise of more, of better, that coats every press of their lips, every lick of their tongues. It makes Junmyeon smile into the kiss, gasping when Baekhyun catches his bottom lip between his teeth.

Junmyeon swallows every moan Baekhyun pushes out, and lets Baekhyun do the same to his own. They’re both giving as intently as they’re receiving, and it’s wonderfully dizzying to a point where Junmyeon wonders just why he has waited so long to let himself have a taste of it.

Letting Baekhyun’s light touch his skin, lick at his insides, pulse through him, is so much better than watching it from afar. Being the reason for it means so much more.

It’s still somewhat terrifying, how much Junmyeon wants when Baekhyun is around. But it’s far from dangerous—if anything, it feels like home.