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Minseok is always kind to him. Jongin knows he's lucky for that, because there's no guarantee when you marry someone you've never met that they'll be anything good at all. Minseok is kind and gentle and caring, and if he's also distant, if their conversations never go beyond polite small talk, well, Jongin can't really complain.

It's just that Jongin came here from his village knowing no one, and he can't help wanting more than only kind. He'd hoped for a friend, at the very least, and his well-hidden romantic side had hoped that he might just maybe find love in time.

When he first met Minseok, a week before their wedding, that romantic side was disappointed. Whatever he had expected of his mysterious new husband, it wasn't someone smaller than him, looking younger even though he wasn't. But on the morning of their wedding, as Jongin tried to calm his racing heartbeat, Minseok smiled shyly and rubbed his shoulder and said, "Let's make this work," and everything changed.

He realized then that even if Minseok looked like a child, he was someone Jongin could look up to, someone he could get along with, someone who would look after him. And then he saw Minseok all dressed up for their wedding, his hair up and his eyes serious, no longer looking like a child, and it did something to him. It made him feel like this was someone he could not only respect but want, someone he might one day love.

And Minseok has lived up to that impression in all ways except one, which is that even as Jongin has slowly but surely fallen for him, Minseok has kept his distance. Jongin is almost sure he's in love by now, but he's equally sure that Minseok isn't interested in him like that, will probably never be interested, and that's hard to take.

It's not only the polite distance between them, which Jongin is also partly to blame for, that makes him convinced Minseok will never care for him that way. It's that Minseok seems to already have someone, a best friend who's been around since long before Jongin came into the picture.

He doesn't think there's anything concrete between Minseok and Lu Han, not yet and maybe not ever. Minseok is more honorable than that, or so Jongin would like to think. But Lu Han touches him so much when they're together, and while Minseok may not touch him as much in return, he almost always accepts the touches with smiles that are nothing like the ones he gives Jongin. They're so comfortable together and it hurts Jongin to think that he'll never have that with Minseok.

There's no use crying about it. Jongin is practical and he's not one for mooning over anyone. But he can't turn off his feelings, not his growing love for Minseok or the pain of not having it returned, and so he'll have to learn to bear it. Arranged marriages are about learning to live with whoever you're given. He's always known that. He just needs to be a little older, a little stronger, and then, he hopes, he'll be able to do it.

 

Lu Han comes over for dinner one night, as he often does. He's still single and he crashes their dinners quite often, even though Minseok rolls his eyes and teases him gently about being a third wheel. Jongin laughs, sometimes, because even if he doesn't want to like Lu Han, his reactions are hilarious, but he thinks if anyone's a third wheel, it's him.

Jongin doesn't talk much when Lu Han's there, instead noticing how much more talkative Minseok is when Lu Han's around. He knows Minseok is shy and not a big talker, something he can relate to, but Lu Han makes Minseok let his guard down, eyes sparkling as he laughs at the story Lu Han is telling, and Jongin wonders if he'll ever get that kind of reaction from Minseok.

He washes the dishes while Minseok and Lu Han talk, sitting too close together on the couch, and when he comes out of the kitchen, Minseok is leaning his head on Lu Han's shoulder as he laughs. When Minseok looks up and sees Jongin, he smiles, more restrained but with his eyes still twinkling a little, and tells Lu Han, "Time to go home, Mr. Third Wheel."

Lu Han elbows him and mutters something that makes Minseok laugh, too quiet for Jongin to hear, but then obediently gets to his feet. "Thanks for having me over," he says.

Minseok sees him out, and then comes back to where Jongin is sitting on the couch. "Sorry about Lu Han," Minseok says, sitting all the way at the other end of the couch. "He'll never admit it, but I think he gets lonely, eating by himself."

"It's fine." Jongin hopes that sounds less halfhearted than it feels. "I don't mind."

Minseok looks at him thoughtfully and Jongin tries not to squirm under his gaze as he tries to understand what it means. Finally, Minseok asks, "Do you not like Lu Han?"

"What? No, of course not." It would be easier if he could hate Lu Han, but he's kind to Jongin too, when he's not busy flirting with his husband.

"You're always so quiet when he's here," Minseok explains. "Even more quiet than usual. I thought maybe he made you uncomfortable."

"No, he just..." He trails off, not knowing what to say. He's not about to tell Minseok the truth and risk having him feel uncomfortable, or worse, pity him.

"Come on," Minseok presses. "I'm not a mind reader. If something's wrong, you have to tell me. If you don't want Lu Han around, say so and I'll make him understand."

He's always so kind, Jongin thinks. Maybe it would be easier if he wasn't. "He's your best friend, and like you said, he's lonely."

"But you're my husband. You come first." Minseok is so earnest and Jongin's heart wants it to mean more than it does.

"Do I?" The question escapes him before he can stop it, honest but ill advised.

Minseok frowns. "What do you mean?"

"Never mind," Jongin says, but it's clear Minseok isn't going to let it go, so he sighs and continues, "I know this marriage wasn't your choice. We haven't known each other long, and Lu Han is your best friend. It would make more sense if you..."

Minseok looks so cute when he's confused. It's awful. His brow furrows as he slowly connects the dots. "Wait, are you saying...? You don't think I... I don't like Lu Han. Not that way."

Now it's Jongin's turn to be confused. "But he's always touching you. And you're so comfortable with him and he makes you laugh..." Now that he's started talking about this, he can't stop. "You never smile at me like you do at him. You never touch me. It's like we're just roommates, and I...I mean, you don't have to like me that way, but I can't help it that I—"

Minseok is staring at him. Jongin's cheeks are suddenly on fire and he hopes it doesn't show. He just couldn't keep his mouth shut. Now everything will be awkward in a way it never was before. "Forget I said that. Forget it. We'll make it work. We don't have to—"

Then he breaks off again, not because he's thought better of what he's saying but because Minseok's mouth is covering his, effectively stopping his babbling. It's only for a few seconds, but when he pulls back, Jongin is too shocked to speak.

"I thought you weren't interested in me like that," Minseok tells him wryly. His smile is shy, but his voice is even and he steadily meets Jongin's eyes.

"But Lu Han..." Jongin's brain is still trying to catch up.

"Is my friend. And incredibly clingy, but it doesn't mean anything." Minseok's smile turns a little sheepish. "I'm sorry I haven't been more, you know...friendly. Talkative. It takes me a while to get comfortable, and it's hard when you're..."

"Shy?" Jongin offers when he doesn't finish.

"I was thinking more like 'hot.'" His cheeks are flushed and Jongin wants to kiss them, but he doesn't know if that's allowed now.

"You think I'm hot?" he asks instead, embarrassed but pleased.

Minseok laughs. "You're hot whether I think so or not. Have you seen yourself? But yes, I do."

Jongin's head is still spinning with the way things are changing, but he likes this. He likes Minseok's embarrassment and the way he's looking Jongin up and down with a confidence that belies his pink cheeks. He likes knowing that Minseok wants him too.

He doesn't say anything for a while, so Minseok adds, "Speaking of Lu Han, he's actually been asking why I haven't jumped you yet."

Jongin splutters at that, and Minseok grins, wider than Jongin is used to seeing directed at him. "What did you tell him?" The question comes out as a purr and Minseok's eyes go just a little wide.

"I told him you probably wouldn't want me to. But maybe I was wrong..."

"Maybe?" Jongin laughs, the kind of laugh his friends tell him sounds dumb, but then he leans into Minseok's personal space and it's clear he's not thinking about Jongin's stupid laugh.

"Well, now I know better..." Minseok's voice gets softer, almost losing the last word as Jongin leans in closer, and as soon as he stops talking, Jongin kisses him.

It's not like before, a simple, chaste kiss meant to make a point. It gets heated very quickly, Minseok's hands coming up to fist in Jongin's hair, and Jongin pulls Minseok into his lap, hands resting on Minseok hips. Jongin's not very good with words—neither of them are—but there's no need for words now, when want can be expressed in the press of tongues and hands on skin.

Jongin's seen Minseok without his shirt before, but it's different under these circumstances, when he can trace the lines of muscles Minseok doesn't look like he should have. For his part, Minseok dips his head to kiss a trail along Jongin's shoulder and down across his collarbones until Jongin shivers at the touch of his lips.

They don't speak again until they're both naked and Jongin takes in Minseok's body and swallows hard, knowing what he wants. "Can I...?" he starts, the words getting caught in his throat. Minseok watches and waits, eyes hooded. "Fuck me?" he finally manages.

"Can you fuck you?" Minseok teases, but his strained voice tells Jongin he wants it too.

"You know what I mean," Jongin grumbles.

"Yeah," Minseok agrees, and then, "Come on."

They go to the bedroom to get lube ("Wedding present," Minseok sheepishly explains), and Jongin lets Minseok stretch him open with nimble fingers. He tries to hold back at first, not wanting to sound too easy or desperate, but when he gives up and moans with abandon, Minseok only presses a kiss to his thigh and doesn't comment, kind in this too.

When he's finally ready, Minseok pulls his hand away, and Jongin sees when he turns over the hunger in Minseok's eyes, the tension in his body as he tries to be patient. It makes him even more sure of what he wants, so he puts a hand on Minseok's chest and pushes lightly so he lies back on the bed. Minseok seems confused until Jongin straddles his legs, and then he shivers with anticipation even without Jongin touching him.

He lowers himself slowly, Minseok offering his hands to steady him, and Jongin forces his eyes to stay open so he can take in the way Minseok's face contorts with pleasure as Jongin settles onto him. "You're..." he says when Jongin stops moving, his voice low and tight, but then he shakes his head and gives up on words. His eyes hold Jongin's, though, and that turns him on as much as the way Minseok feels inside of him.

Jongin's legs are strong and they let him rock steadily up and down, gasps and low moans escaping him as he moves. He expects Minseok to be quieter, but he moans enough to drown out Jongin when he picks up the pace. It's hot and it spurs Jongin on even more. His pace stutters when Minseok frees a hand to touch him, but soon they get a rhythm going, the press of Minseok's cock inside of him and his hand stroking Jongin making him feel amazing.

He knows when Minseok strokes him faster that he's getting close, but he holds on until Jongin comes with a wordless cry, jerking his hips up to fuck him through it and drag the tingling pleasure out as long as possible. Jongin is glad he waits, because that way he can bend down to swallow Minseok's moan as he comes, feeling the way his body shudders beneath and inside of him.

Only when it's over and Jongin has pulled off and sprawled on the bed beside Minseok, their breaths slowly evening out, does he feel strange. They're married so it's hardly scandalous, but it's a big jump from thinking Minseok didn't even want to be his friend to this. He hopes he hasn't messed it up by going too fast, even if Minseok was the one to kiss him first.

He closes his eyes, his thoughts starting to race, until he feels Minseok's mouth pressing into his shoulder, his arm stretching over Jongin's stomach. He looks over at Minseok draped against his side and feels more than sees the way he smiles against his skin. "Don't worry," he murmurs.

"I won't," Jongin lies.

Minseok props his head up on his hand so he can look at Jongin properly. "Hey. I mean it. Didn't I tell you we'd make this work?" His hair is falling in his eyes and he looks small and young and like Jongin should be taking care of him, but his voice is firm.

"You did." Jongin's worry isn't entirely gone, but he starts to smile.

Minseok's head falls to Jongin's shoulder, and Jongin shifts his arm to wrap around Minseok and pull him closer. "Good," Minseok says. "Don't forget it." Then he ruins it by yawning and they both laugh.

Jongin can't stop smiling after that, and as they both drift off, he thinks that this, definitely, is something he could learn to live with.