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vivi runs off as soon as sehun unleashes him. there aren’t many people at the park since it’s ten am on a monday, so he lets him go and sets to find a tree he can sit to read against.

“try not to bring any dead thing this time,” he calls out before vivi disappears from his sight.

it’s cute that vivi brings stuff to him, but he doesn’t know what to do with all those dead bugs he keeps bringing. it was better when it was only sticks and the occasional stone.

now that he thinks about it, it’s not cute that even his dog seems to think he’s lonely and in need of some company. what kind of company is a dead dragonfly anyway?

he’s not lonely, though, he’s mostly bored of being alone. vivi is great company but there’s only so much he can talk about to his dog, and the pup is not very good at focusing his attention on sehun when the apartment’s floor is covered in toys. maybe he could clean the house and hide the toys and then vivi would be as bored as him and pay him attention.

maybe he is a bit lonely.

he’s been alone just for two weeks and lu han doesn’t spend a lot of time at home regularly anyways so it doesn’t make much sense but…

“hey, are you okay?” someone says, snapping sehun out of his own head.

he refocuses on his surroundings and finds a boy looking at him with a worried expression on his (very handsome) face, and vivi running around them with another (very adorable) dog.

“uhm,” he says, following the dogs with his eyes. “what?”

the boy repeats himself and it still takes sehun five seconds to be focused enough to reply.

“oh. sorry, yes, i’m okay just… distracted,” he makes a vague gesture with his hand and then runs his fingers through his hair absentmindedly. “who are you?”

the boy looks taken aback for a second and sehun facepalms himself mentally, hoping he didn’t come off as rude or anything. he really needs to start having more human interactions.

“jongin. i’m jongin,” he says, finally. “monggu’s owner. he’s monggu,” the boy -jongin- points at the dog now rolling around on the ground with vivi. “is he yours? i hope you don’t mind them playing together, i haven’t seen monggu wanting to interact with another dog in so long. he doesn’t usually like dogs, you know? he’s a loner or somethi- sorry, i’m. rambling.” he cuts himself and looks down at his feet sheepishly. it’s kinda adorable.

“it’s okay. i don’t mind,” sehun replies. “vivi and sehun. i’m sehun, he’s. vivi.”

they stay in an awkward silence for a minute or two, mostly looking at their pets. vivi looks really happy to have a new friend and sehun doesn’t have the heart to stand up and take him away, so even if it’s awkward, he tries to be nice and make jongin stay as well.

“so, uhm, do you want to sit here for a while?”

jongin only smiles and lets himself fall ungracefully to the ground.

 

***

 

they run into each other a week later.

monggu doesn’t usually get away from jongin, even unleashed, but they see a white ball of fur running past them and monggu sets off to run with it. not even two minutes later, jongin finds himself walking alongside sehun.

jongin is surprised, if he has to be honest. he’s usually very shy around new people, and it takes a while for him to warm up to them enough to feel comfortable, but with sehun all it took was half an hour talking about their dogs.

jongin firmly believes you can know a lot about someone by how they are with their pets. he discovered sehun tries very hard to look unimpressed and disinterested in everything, but as soon as vivi runs up to him, he gets all soft around the edges and treats him like a real baby. quite adorable.

“so, uhm, i should get going. i’ve been here for… two hours already,” sehun says, looking at the time on his phone screen, after a lull in their conversation (a conversation that flew easily and a lull that wasn’t as awkward as jongin would’ve expected).

“two hours? don’t you have anything better to do?” jongin asks, and scrunches up his nose expecting sehun to be offended, because he meant it like a joke but it’s probably way too soon to be making jokes like that.

“actually, yes, i do have a lot of stuff to do but procrastination is very important,” sehun replies instead, with a small smile on his lips. he calls vivi and waits until the dogs are back to keep on talking. “so, this may sound weird and it’s okay if you don’t want to and think i’m weird and avoid me from now on but. since our dogs like each other so much,” he says as he fastens vivi’s leash and straightens up, “would you like to have like, uhm, a playdate for them?”

“a playdate?” jongin repeats, raising an eyebrow. sehun and vivi are adorable together, but jongin hadn’t thought sehun was the type to do these kind of things. it’s nice, though. “yeah, it sounds cool.”

they arrange a day and a time, and then sehun and vivi are gone.

 

***

 

“vivi has a date?!” baekhyun so much as screams. sehun will never understand what he’s so damn loud for.

“yes,” he replies, running a hand through his hair and pulling at his fringe a bit. “what are you doing here again?” sehun asks, looking confusedly at baekhyun and then at jongdae through the arc on the wall that connects his kitchen and his living room.

“lu han sent us,” jongdae says from the kitchen. sehun thinks he might me cooking something but he can’t see clearly from his position on the couch.

“that’s not important now,” baekhyun interrupts. “i can’t believe vivi has a date. you haven’t had a date in months but your freaking dog has one. unbelievable. pathetically unbelievable.”

sehun rolls his eyes and throws one of vivi’s plushies at baekhyun’s face. “first of all, you have no idea what i’ve been doing with my dating life.” he hopes he sounds firm enough for baekhyun to not see he’s right. sehun hasn’t gone out with anyone in more time than he’d like to think about. “second, vivi needs an active social life too.”

“i like how you say ‘too’ as if your social life wasn’t dead,” baekhyun says and sehun glares at him.

“third,” he starts again, ignoring his friend altogether. “the only pathetic thing here is your face.”

“as a fan and close acquaintance of his face, i beg to disagree,” jongdae says, flopping down on the couch next to sehun.

baekhyun smiles at jongdae from the armchair, and jongdae smiles back at him and they look disgustingly in love, like they always do. “you two are disgusting. get out of my house,” sehun says at the same time he scoots closer to jongdae and leans his head on his shoulder. if he’s gonna have to watch them being them and endure baekhyun mocking him, the least he can get is some cuddles.

 

***

 

“you’re quiet today.”

“hm?” sehun turns around and finds jongin looking at him with raised eyebrows. he’s been saying something, but sehun can’t focus on anything today and hasn’t been listening. “yeah, it’s. i’m just a bit distracted, i guess.” he says, burying his hands on the pockets of his hoodie and looking around the park to see where vivi and monggu are.

“is everything okay, did something… did something happen?” jongin asks, sounding unsure, like he doesn’t know if he has the place to ask.

sehun looks back at jongin and notices there’s something like genuine concern on his face.

it’s weird, because even if they’ve seen each other at the park six times in the last two weeks they barely know each other and yet jongin is actually worried about him, and sehun realises he would tell jongin anything. sehun is surprised to find he’s not telling jongin about his life not because he doesn’t trust him or is somehow uncomfortable with him, but because he just doesn’t want to talk about it in general.

“i just. i don’t feel like talking about it right now,” he says, scrunching up his nose.

“oh. i’m so sorry, i didn’t mean to intrude or anything,” jongin starts, scratching the back of his neck. he looks like he’s about to apologise a lot so sehun nudges him with his elbow and smiles a little at him.

“it’s okay, don’t worry,” he reassures him. “i don’t mind you asking stuff, i just don’t want to talk about it and bore you to death. vivi likes monggu too much, it’d be a shame if that happens.”

sehun calls for vivi and monggu to come back to where they are, and holds jongin by the arm so he can drag them in the direction of the coffee shop a block away. “c’mon, let’s get some bubble tea and i’ll try to be better company. you can tell me about that new game you got because i didn’t listen the first time.”

 

***

 

it’s been raining for two whole days now and sehun is about to set something on fire. himself, probably, because lu han would murder him in a very creative and way more painful fashion if anything in the apartment got damaged.

vivi barks quietly from his corner, as if telling sehun to stop being so dramatic and sehun sighs. he’s barely left the apartment in the last week, has been alone practically the whole time. chanyeol stopped by two or three times to make sure he had enough food; he had a videogame night with baekhyun four days ago; and jongdae spent some time chilling around with him but he had to leave quite soon before the rain picked up and getting home became too troublesome. it wasn’t enough.

the worst part, though, is that he hasn’t been able to walk vivi to the park, which means he hasn’t seen jongin in a week.

it’s weird, how close they have grown in so little time. or maybe it’s not weird at all, considering jongin is cool and nice. good company. easy to talk to, even if sehun is not always the best at having conversations.

sehun eyes his phone on the coffee table from where he’s lying on the couch. he could send jongin a text. maybe invite him over with monggu. they could be bored inside all together. he’s not sure they are at that stage of their friendship yet, though. is it even that? friendship? they’ve been texting each other solely to set up details to meet at the park. would it be weird to invite him over?  

sehun

hey jongin

he presses send before convincing himself otherwise. the reply doesn’t take long.

jongin

hello sehun

what’s up

sehun

not much

i’m bored

vivi even more

jongin

yeah, same here

i think monggu is sad :((

sehun

hey was wondering

would u like to come over

bring monggu

i’ll show u that vgame we talked abt

jongin

sounds fun !!1

send me your details

be there asap

 

not an hour later, it stops raining and sehun is opening the door to jongin and monggu. sehun thinks for a second it might be awkward, but then jongin smiles and pushes a cup holder into his hands, he sees there’s bubble tea and any thought of awkwardness dissolves into a tiny smile of his own.

“bubble tea?”

“chocolate bubble tea,” jongin wiggles his eyebrows.

“that’s the correct password, yes, you can come in,” sehun chuckles and moves away to let jongin into the house.

the dogs seem very happy to be reunited and promptly forget about their humans, going to nap together on a corner.

“our dogs are the most adorable thing on the planet,” jongin says, lovingly looking at them, and sehun nods in agreement.

they look like two idiots standing in the middle of the living area staring at his dogs with whipped expressions on their faces, and sehun lets it go on for a minute then snaps out of it, lightly hitting jongin on the arm and gesturing for the couch with his head.

they make small talk while sehun sets everything up for gaming, sipping on their bubble teas, jongin looking around the place from the couch.

“is that your boyfriend?” jongin asks, taking the controller sehun is giving him and pointing at a picture on the shelves next to the tv.

sehun looks over at the picture and snorts. “no, that’s my roommate. friend. best friend?” he scratches the back of his neck. “don’t tell him i said he’s my best friend.” he sits next to jongin, who looks kind of confused by that last sentence. “he would look so smug . nevermind. lu han. he had to go back to china for a few months to do stuff and abandoned me. he even took his boyfriend with him and left me.”

“the audacity,” responds jongin, chuckling.

“right?” sehun says, dramatically.

he can feel jongin looking closely at him while he selects his character in the game. it makes sehun a bit nervous. guess he doesn’t sound as unaffected by being left alone as he would like.

“do you miss them?” jongin asks, turning to watch the tv and select his character too. sehun appreciates that he’s not looking directly at him anymore.

“sometimes,” he shrugs. “it’s stupid, because they haven’t been gone for that long, just like, a month and a half?” he runs a hand through his hair. “we talk on the phone and stuff but... i don’t know, i guess i’m used to having them around or something.”

sehun doesn’t know why he’s talking so much. it’s embarrassing and he’s starting to sound needy, but he doesn’t feel like jongin is judging him and he doesn’t look like he’s trying to not laugh so maybe it’s okay. there’s a part of sehun that wants to keep talking and admit he feels lonely without lu han and minseok around all the time, but he refrains. he needs to maintain an image, after all.

jongin playfully nudges sehun with his shoulder and smiles sweetly at him. “i’m going to kick your ass,” he says, getting more comfortable and starting the game.

sehun only has time to mutter an indignant “we’ll see” before he gets completely focused on the game to make sure that doesn’t happen.

 

***

 

after that, jongin finds himself spending a lot of time at sehun’s.

jongin works at an editorial and there’s no need to spend the entire time working from his office. his boss doesn’t mind where he works from as long as he has everything done on time. he only has to be there for a few hours in the morning and then he’s free to go, so he’s been taking advantage of that and showing up to grab lunch with sehun and make sure he actually sits and works.

sehun, jongin has learned recently, is a mess.

he’s working on his thesis to finish grad school, but he’s stuck. he has almost all the data he needs and has to sit and write everything down and make sense of the whole thing, but he has some sort of writer -scientist?- block, his advisor is working in europe for some months and communicating with them has been hard so he’s working practically alone. jongin would love to help him, but he doesn’t fully understand what the thesis is about. there’s chemistry and some bugs involved, that’s all he got from sehun’s explanation and, well, chemistry has never been a strong point of his and he’s so scared of bugs in general he doesn’t even want to ask about what kind of bugs they are talking about.

on top of that, he’s spending a lot of time alone at his apartment since his roommate and his boyfriend are gone, too, and not that sehun has said it like that, but jongin can sense he gets a bit sad when he’s alone for too long.

so jongin is doing his best to keep him company. it’s a win-win situation, really, because he works better from home but gets bored of being alone, and since kyungsoo, his roommate, has fixed working hours he has to stick to, their house is mostly empty during the day. now he can go to sehun’s and even bring monggu with him. it’s perfect.

it’s fun, being around sehun. he’s cool but a bit of a dork, so jongin feels comfortable with him. they have quite a lot in common, too, and he hopes they can get to be better friends. he’s overall glad vivi and monggu made them meet, even now, when his phone is blowing up with frantic texts from sehun asking, begging him to please get some black dye and get to his house as soon as possible before he dies or whatever equally dramatic synonym he’s using.

when jongin finally makes it to sehun’s apartment, he understands part of the freak out. sehun’s hair is no longer that nice shade of brown but a very vibrant orange.

“uhm,” he starts, tilting his head and averting his eyes. “hi.”

sehun doesn’t return the greeting, takes jongin by the arm and gets him into the house, quickly closing the door behind him. “did you get the dye?”

“yes, calm down,” jongin replies, shaking his head a bit while taking his shoes off.

he doesn’t understand what’s so terrible about the situation. sure, it’s a complicated color to suddenly have in your hair, but somehow sehun is pulling it off. it shouldn’t be surprising, though, since sehun has that face. jongin is pretty sure he could pull off any color.

“so, your hair is very orange,” he says, getting to the couch and sitting next to vivi, petting his head to say hi.

“believe me, i know,” sehun deadpans, because jongin gets distracted with the dog and forgets to complete what he was saying.

“i mean, how did that happen?”

sehun glares at him and then shrugs, “it just did. i was bored.”

“so you just… dyed your hair,” jongin states. ‘bored’ is not the word he would’ve used, but he’s letting it pass for sehun’s sake.

sehun nods noncommittally and sits next to jongin on the couch. he runs his hand through his hair and grimaces, like he suddenly remembered it's different, as if they haven't been talking about it all along.

“i like it,” jongin says.

sehun raises both eyebrows at him and jongin can swear there’s a light blush on his otherwise pale cheeks. “you do?” he asks, skeptically.

“yes! it looks really cool,” jongin replies easily. “you could keep it like that, for a few days maybe.”

sehun doesn’t look convinced in the least, but he’s not running to fix it either. he relaxes against the couch and leans his head on jongin’s shoulder, petting vivi between them.

“thanks,” he says after awhile in silence.

jongin hums and moves his shoulder slightly to shake sehun’s head. “so, when was the last time you left the house?”

sehun straightens up and takes a moment to think, which is all the answer jongin needs. “uhm. when was the last time you were here? two days ago?”

“three.” jongin stands up and goes to grab vivi’s leash. “get a beanie. we’re walking vivi and getting food, c’mon.”

sehun groans and complains all the way to his room and back, but does as he’s told. jongin tries to hide his fond smile, but fails.

 

***

 

“oh sehun, why aren’t you picking up your phone?”

“i was sleeping.” sehun glares, even if lu han clearly can’t see him, and lies down again, burying himself in the blanket nest he made on the couch.

“why? it’s like, the middle of the afternoon there.” lu han sounds concerned now and sehun truly prefers the slightly bratty, slightly annoyed one from three seconds ago. “are you okay?”

“yeah, i’m fine.”

“sehun,” lu han says, curtly.

sehun sighs deeply. “it’s just a headache.”

“and?” lu han presses. damn him and his stupid ability to read sehun so easily even over the phone.

“and i’ve spent the last five days on the same three sentences of my thesis, i’m pretty sure they aren’t even useful and my advisor hasn’t replied to any of my eight emails,” he says after a moment, because lying to lu han is pointless even if he’s in another country. stupid china. “but mostly i have a very strong headache, yeah.”

“okay, don’t hang up, i’m calling jongdae.”

“nooo, hyung, i’m fine, i just need to sleep,” sehun whines, but lu han’s already put him on hold. he hangs up, just to annoy the other one.

(he lets the phone ring the first time. picks up on the second.)

 

***

 

“lu-ge called. we have to go check on the baby,” jongdae says, entering the living room and pocketing his phone away.

“again?” baekhyun asks.

“what baby?” jongin asks at the same time.

he didn’t know jongdae nor baekhyun knew anyone with a baby. and why do they have to go check on them? the baby can’t be alone, right?

“he might not be feeling well?” jongdae replies to baekhyun, looking mildly worried. “i don’t know, lu han always make it sound like someone is dying, so i’m not sure how bad it is but we could go and see if hunnie needs anything and come back here. i can go alone if you want to stay.”

jongin doesn’t understand what’s going on. he suspects there’s no actual baby, but he can’t be sure. also, that name, lu han, sounds familiar but he can’t connect it to a face or a place or anything.

what he’s sure of, is that his friends are gathering their stuff and leaving. and he doesn’t want to get jealous, because apparently someone might be sick, but he can’t help it. they haven’t hung out in a while, he has missed them, and if you ask jongin, it’s quite rude that they are leaving like this.

“where are you going? why are you leaving me?” he pouts, and sits up from where he was lying on the floor, crossing his legs. he pulls off his best puppy eyes and deepens the pout for good measure, because he’s not above playing dirty.

“how did we end up surrounded by oversized babies?” baekhyun sighs, holding onto jongdae’s arm. he’s acting annoyed, but jongin can see the fond smile he’s trying to fight. “do you want to come with us?” he turns a bit and looks at jongdae, with a pout of his own. “can we get hot chocolate on the way back?”

jongdae stares at him, unimpressed. “children,” he rolls his eyes but holds baekhyun’s hand anyway. “are you coming? i know you don’t like new people all that much, but hunnie has a cute dog? and i can buy you hot chocolate to make it up to you,” he smiles at jongin.

it might be weird going to some stranger’s house, but jongin can’t say no to hot chocolate and cute dogs, so he grabs his phone, keys and a jacket and walks out of his apartment with his friends.

he wants to ask who this hunnie guy is, but jongdae and baekhyun are discussing something between them and jongin knows better than to try and get their attention when they are having a private conversation. he keeps quiet instead and follows them distractedly. the place is not too far from his own place, and jongin vaguely registers he’s been around here before. it only hits him when they walk out of the elevator into a hall he’s seen a lot lately.

“why are we at sehun’s?” he asks to no one in particular.  

baekhyun and jongdae stop and turn around to look at jongin with equally stunned expressions on their faces.

“you know sehun?” baekhyun asks, tilting his head to the side like a confused puppy.

you know sehun?” jongin asks back.

“we’ve known him since college,” jongdae replies, taking out his keychain and locating sehun’s key apparently. “i didn’t know you two knew each other too.”

jongdae opens the door and they enter the house. jongin only feels a bit weird getting inside without being invited by the owner, but he’s been here so much lately that the weirdness is barely there. and he figures if jongdae has a key, then it’s okay for them to do it.  

“we met at the park a while ago. our dogs are friends,” jongin comments, while they take their shoes off. there’s some rustling coming from the living room, and then vivi comes to greet them excitedly. “hi, baby boy” jongin coos, taking the dog in his arms.

“oh, you’re the puppy friend,” jongdae says, his lips curling into a happy smile.

“you’re the puppy friend!” baekhyun repeats, yelling.

 

***

 

sehun hears voices and the door opening and closing. he regrets giving keys to jongdae, then remembers he wasn’t the one giving them away in the first place. “your babysitters are here,” he deadpans into the phone, hopefully loud enough for the others to hear too.  

“fucking finally, what took them so long? i have things to do,” lu han says. sehun is about to give a snarky reply about him not needing lu han anyway, but the other keeps on talking. “i have to go, min is waiting. he says hi. i’ll call you later. bye, hunnie.”

sehun rolls his eyes, leaves the phone on the table and starts to get inside his blankets again, when he hears baekhyun yelling something about puppy friend. puppy friend? as in how his friends call jongin because all of them are idiots? jongin is here?

jongdae and baekhyun enter the living room then, with jongin following them holding vivi in his arms.

“uhm,” sehun sits up and looks back and forth between them.

“you didn’t tell us your puppy friend was jonginnie,” baekhyun says, plopping down on the couch, barely avoiding sehun’s legs.

“uhm,” sehun repeats. he’s missing something here, clearly. “i… didn’t know you knew each other?” he looks at all of them again, waiting for an answer. baekhyun seemingly lost track of the conversation because jongdae just sat on his lap, and jongin is too busy sitting on the armchair playing with vivi so he probably hasn’t been paying attention to anything happening around them.

“remember kyungsoo? from college?” jongdae asks sehun. “jongin is his roommate. i’m sure we’ve mentioned him before. i’m sure we’ve mentioned you and lu han to him, too, but he never registers anything, so.”

sehun remembers kyungsoo. he’s seen the guy just once before, but chanyeol won’t ever shut up about him, so it’s hard to forget him. he doesn’t remember anyone mentioning a jongin before, though, but he tends to not register things either so maybe they have.

“anyway,” jongdae says, nudging sehun’s side through three blankets with his toes. “what’s wrong? why did lu han call me saying you were hiding on the couch and probably dying?”

“you didn’t have to come,” sehun replies with a frown. “i’m fine. i’m not hiding, i was just taking a fucking nap. lu han is overreacting like he always does.”

“sure,” jongdae doesn’t say anything else, just looks at sehun with a patient smile. it’s the kind of smile that always makes sehun talk and he hates it.

fine ,” he starts after a moment and jongdae’s smile widens because he always wins. sehun always lets him win. “it’s just a headache. and nothing working out. but mostly a headache.”

sehun can feel three pairs of eyes on him and he wants to disappear into his blanket nest because he can’t deal with his friends feeling sorry for him. he usually likes having all the attention on himself, but this is the wrong kind of attention.

“have you eaten today?” baekhyun asks, already making jongdae stand up so he can do it himself too. sehun shakes his head silently. “do you even have food here?”

“yes. i went grocery shopping this morning like the responsible adult who can handle himself that i am, you know?” sehun replies, glaring at his friend.

baekhyun chuckles, jongdae rolls his eyes fondly, and both of them disappear into the kitchen to cook something, sehun assumes.

“that was cute,” jongin says, going to sit with sehun on the couch.

“what?” sehun asks, confused. he kind of forgot jongin was there.

“how they are with you. good to know i’m not the only one they treat like a child,” jongin smiles and scrunches up his nose.

sehun’s only reply is a snort and a roll of his eyes. he leans back on the couch, getting more comfortable and letting free space so jongin can get comfortable too.

as soon as he’s settled, jongin starts talking about something monggu did the other day. sehun is only half paying attention, but he’s glad jongin is here. he’s glad jongdae and baekhyun happened to be with him when lu han called and decided to bring him. it occurs to sehun that the universe or whatever is doing that lately, casually bringing jongin around when he’s feeling kinda lonely. he’s more than okay with it, jongin is good company.  

sehun has his hands over his knees, and jongin absentmindedly starts playing with his fingers as he gets more and more into telling his story. he makes a conscious effort to pay attention, focuses only on jongin’s voice and lets himself relax a bit.

(what sehun doesn’t pay attention to, is baekhyun and jongdae seeing them from the kitchen, sharing knowing smiles between them like they know something sehun and jongin don’t, yet.)

 

***

 

it’s saturday night and sehun is about to have a nervous breakdown. again. it would be the third of the day. he tugs at his own hair, takes a deep breath and tries to calm down. he can do this. he needs to do this. needs to hold on to this little spark of productivity he has going on before he loses it and everything goes back to blank again.

but even if he’s stressed, had to say no to baekhyun and jongdae’s invitation to go out and probably will spend the whole night awake, he prefers this to anything else because at least he’s doing something. stressed and working is way better than stressed and hiding under the covers on the couch.

“hey, let’s take a break and eat, yeah?” a hand lands on his shoulder and sehun looks up at jongin, ready to say that no, he can’t take a break now, but something in his friend’s face stops him and he nods silently instead.

he realises how hungry he is while checking everything he’s written today is saved and copied on multiple docs. then he remembers he didn’t have lunch or anything to eat at all since breakfast.  

“what do you want to eat?” sehun asks, standing up and stretching with his arms over his head. his back cracks with a satisfying sound.

“do you have anything to cook here? i feel like cooking,” jongin replies, going into the kitchen already.

sehun follows with a raised eyebrow. “we both suck at cooking. let’s just order some pizza.”

“let’s try and if it doesn’t work out at all we order something?”

“fine.” he’s sure he has noodles and probably some veggies, too. it’s not much, but that’s all he knows how to cook anyway so it’ll have to do.

sehun rummages around his kitchen getting everything they’ll need and a pack of snacks they can munch on while cooking. jongin takes the snacks and opens them eagerly. “so, did anything happen today or you just woke up and decided it was a good day to overwork yourself to death?” he asks casually at the same time he shoves a fistful of snacks into his mouth.

“hey, share!” sehun says, annoyed, grabbing some for himself. “my advisor finally replied to some of my emails, pointed out a very stupid mistake i was making with the graphics and sent me a bunch of new work to do,” he runs a hand through his hair and tugs again. he should stop doing that, probably. “i have to write part of an article to publish? i think it’s way more than i can handle and i’m sure i’ll fuck it up but i can’t say no anyway, so,” he shrugs and starts washing and cutting the veggies.  

“that sounds like a lot of nerve-wrecking work,” jongin says, getting to help sehun with the food, “but you’re very smart, you’ll get around it, you won’t fuck up. if your advisor thinks you can do it, it must be for something, right?”

sehun doesn’t know how he does it, but jongin has a way of saying certain things sometimes that make sehun feel almost instantly better. like he’s not on edge anymore, at least. he appreciates it.

they fall into comfortable silence for a while, only making comments about the food. sehun stops thinking about work eventually, concentrating in stirring noodles instead, and admits to himself that cooking themselves was a good decision after all.

“hey, jongin,” he calls out. jongin is now serving food for the dogs and only hums to indicate he’s listening. “uhm. thanks?” sehun says, scratching the back of his neck. “for coming here, i mean. you could’ve gone out with baek and jongdae or do whatever else but. i don’t know, you didn’t have to. but i- thanks.” he turns around a bit to side look at jongin, sees the small smile on his face and can’t help smiling a bit himself.

“it’s okay. i wanted to come. i told you already i have to finish some work for tuesday,” jongin shrugs and goes to feed the dogs. “besides, your couch is bigger and you always have chocolate around. i’m using you, sehun, can’t you see? now give me food,” he says seriously, entering the kitchen again, before bursting into laughter.

they have dinner, send some pictures to baekhyun and jongdae on their new group chat, laugh at the voice note baekhyun sends indignantly complaining about sehun never cooking for him but it’s okay, he has jongdae so he clearly wins at life anyway, suckers . jongin washes the dishes, sehun dries them.

they sit on the couch together to work, jongin with his book and sehun with his laptop. sehun tries to convince jongin to go home and sleep, jongin kicks him on the side.

time passes silently, and when sehun looks at the clock on his screen, it reads 2:19am. he’s been working non stop for hours without even realising. he looks up, blinks a few times to clear his vision, sees jongin laid down at some point and is suspiciously still now. sehun leaves his laptop on the coffee table and stands up so he can see the other over the book covering his face.

jongin is fast asleep, his mouth slightly open, his glasses too low on the bridge of his nose. he’s still holding the book firmly in front of his face, somehow. sehun chuckles quietly and takes the book out of jongin’s hands as softly as he can to not wake him up. he does the same with the glasses, folding them and leaving them on the coffee table next to the book.

jongin shifts, opens his eyes a little, not really waking up. “shh, keep sleeping,” sehun murmurs.

he stays crouched down next to jongin for a little longer, he doesn’t know why. doesn’t know why he’s staring. but he can’t take his eyes off of him. jongin looks peaceful like this, and soft. and, honestly? beautiful. sehun has known since they met that jongin is beautiful, but he’s never thought about it like this. this close.

jongin shifts again, some strands of hair falling onto his face, and sehun, without thinking, reaches out to brush them away. the movement surprises him, how soft he’s being surprises him.

it must tickle, because jongin scratches his nose and throws an arm over his eyes. sehun follows the movement and gets surprised again, when he finds himself pushing down the urge to kiss jongin’s nose.

he wants to kiss jongin’s nose.

he wants to kiss jongin?

sehun shakes his head and stands up. no, he doesn’t want to do that. he’s being silly and quite weird, to be honest. he’s just tired, and he always gets all mushy and weird when he’s tired. it’s just that. nothing else. it’s okay. he takes his laptop and goes to sit at his table-slash-desk. he still has a lot of work to do.

he doesn’t dare looking back at the couch.

 

***

 

the original plan is a quiet night hanging out. kyungsoo has a new recipe he wants to try, so he invites baekhyun and jongdae over for dinner. he casually suggests to jongin that he could invite sehun too, if he wants.

but then, baekhyun shows up with a disgusting amount of beer and soju, his friend chanyeol and a demand to celebrate that he’s finally been assigned that project he’s been trying to get for months, and quiet is no longer part of the plan.

jongin is not surprised to see chanyeol, who he’s seen maybe twice before, because he knows baekhyun and jongdae have been friends with him since college, kyungsoo knows him too, and it makes sense baek wants him there to celebrate. but it does surprise him when chanyeol enters the apartment and immediately lets himself fall onto sehun sitting on the couch upon seeing him.

“hello, darling,” chanyeol says, smiling widely.

“stop calling me darling, please,” sehun replies, covering the other’s face with his hand and pushing him off of him.

“okay, darling,” chanyeol says, kissing sehun’s cheek loudly before going into the kitchen.

“i can’t believe all of our friends are friends with each other and i had never seen you before,” jongin says, narrowing his eyes towards the kitchen where said four friends are being extremely loud already.

sehun’s only response is a shrug and a laugh. jongin suspects maybe he’s laughing at his face. “c’mon, i’ll show you the rest of the place,” he gestures with his head, standing up from the armchair.

it’s the first time sehun is at his house and he’s kinda excited about it, wants to show him everything that can be shown. he doesn’t know why he hasn’t invited him over before, but takes a mental note to do it more often from now on.

 

by the time they finish dinner, everyone is well on their way to drunk, thanks to baekhyun pausing everything to make toasts to himself every ten minutes. he deserves every toast, so everyone’s been complying happily and getting more and more tipsy.

jongin gets stuck in the kitchen with dishes duties. sehun offers to help, but kyungsoo insists jongin can do it alone and chanyeol takes advantage of that and clings to sehun’s arm to keep him next to him. when he makes it back to the living room, baekhyun shoves a beer bottle into his hand and makes him sit on the couch to join on their impromptu video game competition.

everyone is getting increasingly louder, and jongin would mind and worry about neighbors and stuff if he wasn’t getting increasingly drunk too. it’s the good kind of drunk though, the kind where everything gets a bit blurred around the edges and everything is funny and you laugh a lot.

he manages to beat baekhyun on their turn and he’s still laughing at the other’s offended pout when sehun returns from the bathroom and looks at the couch where jongin and chanyeol are sitting with a frown.

“hyung, move” he says to chanyeol. “i don’t want to sit on the floor again, c’mon, move,” he pouts and tries to move chanyeol, but it seems chanyeol is making himself heavier on purpose.

jongin moves without thinking. he circles his arms around sehun’s slim waist and pulls him onto his lap. “there, no more floor for you,” he says, and it doesn’t make sense, but he can feel sehun’s laugh rumbling against his chest and it doesn’t matter if he’s making sense or not anymore.

jongin smiles, pleased with himself, and ignores the funny look kyungsoo is giving them and how jongdae and baekhyun start giggling on the side. he’s glad he can eventually blame everything on the alcohol running through his veins. it’s not even an excuse, it’s just that. it’s all because he’s drunk. it has nothing to do with the little spark of jealousy he can feel whenever chanyeol clings to sehun or how giddy he feels when sehun relaxes and stays on his lap. nope. it’s just the alcohol.

“let’s make a toast!” baekhyun yells, giving everyone a shot of soju with a wide smile that makes jongin a bit wary. “to vivi and monggu for getting these two to meet because we suck at introducing new people,” he says, making both sehun and jongin roll their eyes. “and to me, for being amazing.” he finishes with a grin and downs his shot. jongdae yells an incoherent sound of approval, everyone else rolls their eyes again.

everything happens in a blur after that.

they keep drinking and finding excuses to make new toasts. everyone forgets about their competition halfway through it. chanyeol ends up on the floor, looking like a puppy strangely curled up against kyungsoo’s leg and seemingly very happy about it. sehun laughs a lot at that, stays on jongin’s lap for a while longer and eventually falls onto the couch but keeps really close to him anyway. baekhyun and jongdae have been on their own world for ages now, smiling into each others’ necks and kissing and laughing loudly at the rest of them. kyungsoo looks very much done with the world, but tries to move as little as possible and jongin knows him well enough to realise it’s to not bother chanyeol.

jongin smiles a lot, both because of the alcohol and because he’s overcome with how fond he is of everyone in the room, including chanyeol. he tries his best to not fall asleep and he succeeds for an hour, maybe two, but as everyone starts getting quieter, he finds it harder and harder to stay awake, and at some point he feels his head hit sehun’s shoulder, where he settles more comfortably, and then nothing else.

 

***

 

jongin wakes up in the morning because his pillow is moving. it takes him a minute to realise pillows don’t move. they don’t talk either, but this one is saying go back to sleep in a voice that sounds a lot like sehun’s, but deeper. sleepier. he opens one eye and looks around as best as he can. he slept on sehun’s shoulder, apparently. they are covered by a blanket. everyone slept in the living room, jongdae and baekhyun curled up together on the armchair and kyungsoo and chanyeol sharing a pillow on the floor. jongin thinks kyungsoo must have been out of his mind if he got blankets for everyone and slept on the floor with chanyeol .

sehun moves again, clearly trying to get more comfortable and jongin sits up a bit, still half asleep.

“sorry,” sehun whispers. “didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“‘s okay, didn’t mean to fall asleep on you.” jongin yawns, and then, “good morning,” he mumbles, against sehun’s shoulder, and kisses the mole on the side of sehun’s neck, soft and sleep warm and so soft . he would love to go back to sleep there.

he feels sehun freezing and a second later, his mind catches up, making him jump back, suddenly wide awake. he stares at sehun for a moment, but he doesn’t look angry or upset or anything like that, just maybe a little relieved his arm is now free, so jongin lets out the breath he was holding and stands up. he needs to start moving before his hangover catches up with him too.

“i’ll make coffee,” he says, turning around clumsily.

“you don’t like coffee,” sehun reminds him, wrapping the blanket around himself. he really doesn’t look upset. “i want tea,” he says around a yawn.

“yeah, okay,” jongin replies, nodding his head along.

“need any help with that?” a deep voice says, and jongin looks around to find chanyeol looking back at him from the floor, with a little knowing smile on his lips. jongin hasn’t even noticed he was awake.

“no, it’s okay. you’ll wake kyungsoo hyung if you move too much.”

at this, chanyeol turns his head to look at kyungsoo, still fast asleep next to him, and then back up to the ceiling, with a light blush on the high of his cheeks.

jongin is not awake enough to deal with any of this, so he sighs and goes into the kitchen to make coffee and tea for everyone.

 

***

 

“when you said three seconds ago that you were on your way i wasn’t expecting you to be on the elevator,” sehun says as a way of greeting when he opens the door to chanyeol. he’s still in his pajamas, he’s nowhere near ready to leave the house.

“i didn’t want to give you time to change your mind or, i don’t know, ditch me for jongin again,” chanyeol smiles, walking into the apartment already taking his shoes off.

sehun raises a brow at him, unimpressed. “i’ve never done that,” he says. maybe it’d sound more credible if he wasn’t stuttering a bit. but he hasn’t been doing that, has he?

“sure, dude, whatever you say,” chanyeol shrugs. he goes into the living room directly to vivi sitting on the couch. he drops to the floor and leans his head on the couch to look at the dog. “you still like me better, right? i’m still your favorite?”

vivi licks chanyeol’s fingers as in response and sehun wants to coo at how adorable they look, but doesn’t because he’s trying to be annoyed at chanyeol right now.

“let me steal your dog’s love in peace and go get ready to leave. we have a coffee date to attend, sehunnie, c’mon,” chanyeol hurries him. “wear something warm, it’s cold outside.”

“yes, mom,” sehun replies, rolling his eyes and walking into his room.

 

“so everything is working out,” chanyeol says, when they are finally sitting at their table on the coffee shop they usually visit. he’s been basically interrogating sehun on his progress with his thesis all the way to the place.

“kind of,” sehun shrugs, holding his cup of hot chocolate in his hands to warm them up. “i don’t know, at least i don’t feel at a dead end anymore?” he shrugs again, running a hand through his hair.

chanyeol nods, smiling. he takes a sip of his coffee and seemingly drops the subject there, for what sehun is grateful because even if everything is going well, he still gets a bit on edge if he has to talk too much about it. they spend a moment in comfortable silence, sipping on their drinks. after some time, chanyeol looks at sehun with a wide smile that makes sehun narrow his eyes because. something is coming.

“so how’s jongin?” chanyeol asks and his smile turns so smug sehun wants to punch him.

he knew this was coming. “fine, i guess. we haven’t talked much these days,” he replies, even if it’s not entirely true. they were together on sunday night but haven’t seen each other this week yet.

chanyeol wiggles his eyebrows at that and sehun has to kick him under the table for being an idiot. he can’t believe he’s friends with a fourteen-year-old.  

“i saw you with him last weekend!”

sehun does not blush. he doesn’t. “yeah, well, i saw you sleeping on the floor with kyungsoo hyung too but i’m not asking you about him, am i?” sehun retorts.

chanyeol kicks sehun this time, but it’s worth it just to see him get all flustered, wide eyes and deep blush included.

“sehunnie,” chanyeol looks at him and pouts. “we used to talk about everything and now i barely see you because you do replace me for jongin and work all the time. and i mean, work is fine because you have to do it, but you’ve known him for like a month,” he ignores sehun’s quiet three and keeps on talking. “we’ve known each other for five whole years! and you don’t want to talk to me anymore.”

“i can’t believe you’re guilt tripping me into talking to you, what kind of friend are you?” sehun exclaims, throwing a napkin at chanyeol.

“i just want to know if there’s something going on there,” chanyeol whines, nudging sehun’s leg with his knee. “c’mon, tell me. talk to me, oh sehun.”

“god, you’re so annoying,” sehun sighs. “there’s nothing going on. we’re just friends. happy?”

chanyeol raises his brows and stares at him like he’s trying to read his mind or something, which he probably can do to some extent. sehun can’t bring himself to make eye contact. he’s not lying, but he’s also a bit confused about his own life lately and maybe he’s not saying entirely the truth either.

“would you like it if there were something going on?” chanyeol asks.

sehun would love to go hide on his couch right now. he runs a hand through his hair and tugs. “maybe, i don’t know. yes? maybe,” he admits, finally. it’s the first time he says it outloud.

“i knew it!” chanyeol yells, fist pumping the air. he’s so loud and ridiculous. sehun is very fond of him, despite himself. “so you like him,” he says, leaning his head on his hand.

“i don’t know,” sehun starts. it’s hard, sometimes, putting everything into actual words he has to say outloud. “i think so? i mean, i’ve been thinking about it. been trying to figure out if i like like him or if i just… i don’t know.” he sips on his drink, making time to find the right words. “it’s just. i don’t know, i don’t think i feel any different really? it’s just that at some point i’ve realised i kinda want to kiss him a bit.” he sighs and looks at chanyeol with a little pout on his face. maybe if he looks pathetic enough chanyeol will give him the answer he doesn’t have himself.

“have you considered,” chanyeol says. “maybe you’ve liked him since forever but you’ve been too busy with work and being stupid and whatever else you do to notice before?”

sehun opens his mouth to say something back, but nothing comes out. stupid chanyeol, actually giving answers.

he hasn’t considered that until now. he takes a moment to really think about it. thinks back to that first time jongin was at his apartment, how nervous he was jongin would say no and how happy he got when he said yes. thinks back to that time jongin was the only one coming to mind when he needed help with his stupid orange hair. how jongin can make him feel better with just a few words. how jongin’s smile can make him feel a little bit more at ease. and maybe, maybe it makes sense. maybe he’s been so confused about this because he’s been trying to pinpoint the moment where his feelings changed, but maybe these feelings have been growing together with their friendship since the very beginning.

“you should see your face right now,” chanyeol says, snapping sehun out of his haze. “your eyes are literally shining. it’s disgusting,” he smiles, fondly.

“shut up, hyung, just. shush,” sehun replies, scrunching up his nose. “or better yet, buy me a muffin and tell me about kyungsoo.” now it’s his turn to wiggle his eyebrows.

chanyeol blushes again and chokes on his coffee. sehun laughs so hard he hits both of his knees on the table.

 

***

 

“i’m so, so sorry! sorry i’m late,” jongin blurts out as soon as sehun opens the door.

“it’s okay, don’t worry,” sehun says around a yawn.

jongin notices sehun looks like he just woke up, a weird line on his cheek, his giant hoodie all wrinkled. he looks very soft and jongin has to take a moment to kill the urge to hug him.

“are you going to stand there all night?” sehun asks over his shoulder, walking back to the living room.

jongin shakes his head and starts moving again, taking off his shoes and following sehun inside. “were you sleeping? do you want me to, i don’t know… i can leave, we can hang out tomorrow?” he offers, but it sounds like a question.

“no, no, i just. fell asleep on the couch. you took too long to get here,” sehun replies, pouting.

“i’m sorry, kyungsoo hyung wanted to talk to me. about a thing,” he says, flopping down on the couch next to sehun. “couldn’t say no.”

kyungsoo had walked into jongin’s room while he was getting ready to leave and had basically demanded to know what was going on between him and sehun. that led to jongin stuttering his way around his explanation that there was nothing, which led to kyungsoo looking suspicious and unimpressed and jongin having a little freak out. kyungsoo had sat very patiently waiting for jongin to calm down just to start asking questions again, this time much more softly.

somehow, kyungsoo finally got jongin to admit he does, in fact, have feelings for sehun. it wasn’t an epiphany for jongin or anything, he’s come to terms with it some time back, but admitting it outloud was something else. he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about it since the words left his mouth.

he keeps expecting things to turn awkward, for him to feel weird, but it never happens. everything is just as it always is. they cook together as they’ve been doing for some weeks on sunday nights, they eat, talk, joke, tease each other. they settle for a movie they’ve already watched with an unhealthy amount of candy around them. the only different thing is that he stares for a bit too long, catches himself looking back at sehun and smiling unconsciously one too many times.

it’s not entirely his fault, though. sehun looks particularly soft and smiley today, and jongin is only human. he tries his best, but he can only resist so much.  

“you look happy tonight,” jongin comments, looking up at sehun from where he’s resting his head on his lap. he’s not really sure when that happened. he has to start paying more attention to his own movements.

sehun shrugs noncommittally, but he’s looking down at jongin with a little smile on his lips and something else in his eyes that jongin can’t understand. it feels weird, because in these last months he has learnt to read sehun quite well, can tell when he’s too on edge to talk about certain things, when ‘bored’ actually means ‘sad’, when he’s genuinely enjoying something. he doesn’t like that he can’t read this look.

“everything’s been… better, lately. things are like finally working out so maybe i look better, too,” sehun says. “also i’ve been talking a lot with chanyeol, figuring some things out,” he shrugs again. “oh, right! i haven’t told you. lu han and minseok are coming back, too. in like, three weeks or something. they should be here for chanyeol’s birthday.”

sehun smiles properly now, the smile that makes his eyes turn into crescents, and something twists at the bottom of jongin’s stomach.

“that’s great, hun,” jongin says. he doesn’t miss the way sehun’s smile widens slightly when he uses the nickname, it makes him smile back even if he doesn’t feel one hundred percent like smiling right now.

he’s been trying to ignore the fact that lu han and minseok were meant to come back at some point. he feels awful about it, but he likes having sehun’s attention to himself. likes keeping him company and having him around most of the time. he doesn’t know if that will change when sehun gets his roommate back. he can only hope it won’t, but it seems unlikely. what if sehun doesn’t want him around anymore when he stops living alone?

“i think… you’ll love them when you finally meet them,” sehun says.

jongin just smiles in response, trying his best to shut down the pang of insecurity he’s feeling inside.

sehun poking his cheek with his finger helps a bit.

 

***

 

lu han comes back on a tuesday.

jongin is at sehun’s, reading on the armchair. sehun had to go out to buy something jongin is sure he mentioned but forgot as soon as sehun left.

he hears the door opening and some weird noises, but he’s too engrossed in his book to try and make sense of them. then, in accented english, a voice that isn’t sehun says, “honey, i’m home.”

jongin looks up and blinks, confused. before he can do anything, a guy he’s never seen before walks into the living room. at least he’s not the only confused one.

“uhm. you’re not sehun,” the guy says, in accented korean now.

“well, you aren’t either,” jongin replies, dumbly. vivi barking and running up to this stranger snaps him out of it and he looks at the pictures near the tv to check he’s not making a mistake. though now that he thinks about it, how could he when the guy opened the door with keys and walked in with a suitcase? “oh, you must be lu han.” lu han-ssi? should he bow?

“yes,” lu han says, still standing at the entrance of the room. “who are you and what are you doing alone in my house?”

jongin just stares at him for a moment. he wasn’t expecting lu han to look like this. pictures really don’t make him justice. lu han raises his brows at him and jongin stands up and hurries to introduce himself. god, why is he being so slow today. “right, sorry, i’m. so sorry. i’m jongin? kim jongin? sehun’s friend. he went to buy. a thing. i think? he has to be back in a moment.”

lu han visibly relaxes after that. “oh, so you’re jongin. i see.” his tone makes jongin even more confused and nervous than before. “please, you can sit down again. i’ll be right back, just going to leave this in my room,” he says, pointing at his luggage with his head.

jongin sits down again and thinks about calling sehun to tell him to hurry up. there’s something about lu han that unsettles him quite a bit and he doesn’t want to be alone with him for too long. before he can consider leaving for real and calling sehun later, lu han comes back and sits on the couch.

“so. i’ve heard a lot about you,” he says, smiling and staring at jongin. it feels like he’s staring right at his soul. jongin hasn’t been this intimidated by anyone since he started college.

it’s stupid, because lu han is definitely shorter than jongin and he doesn’t really look menacing or like he’s about to kick him out or anything of the like. but there’s something about how he carries himself. or maybe it’s just what he means in jongin’s life, he guesses. sehun won’t be alone all the time anymore so maybe he won’t need jongin around anymore either.

“yeah, uhm… me too,” he says, scratching a spot behind his ear.

jongin expects lu han to start asking questions or something, but he seems content with sitting there, alternating between staring at jongin and petting vivi.

not five minutes later, though, sehun finally comes back and jongin is surprised with himself because somehow he survives the eternity that sehun spends hugging and generally flailing around lu han.

 

***

 

“lu!” sehun exclaims when he sees lu han sitting on the couch and rushes to his side. he throws his arms around lu han’s shoulders and hide his face on his neck. “i’ve missed you,” he mumbles. he’s going to deny this reaction in an hour and be embarrassed that jongin is watching in a minute, but for now he’s going to cling to his friend because he really has missed him.

“missed you too, hunnie,” lu han says softly, holding him close.

“i thought you were coming back tomorrow,” sehun says, sitting up after a moment of just hugging. “and how’s minseok hyung? is he coming by later? did he miss me? why didn’t he come with you?” he asks, talking a mile a minute.

lu han laughs at him and ruffles his hair. “calm down, sehun. he wanted to go home and pick up his cat and maybe not be with me for a second,” he says, rolling his eyes. “he did miss you, though.”

sehun smiles. “poor minseok hyung, having to spend four whole months with you with nowhere to escape,” he shakes his head, sighing deeply.

“i’ve been back for less than five seconds and you’re already treating me like this! in front of other people, too. what a brat,” lu han says, offended, slapping sehun’s arm.

sehun curls away to put distance between them, but he’s still laughing. he can’t help it, he’s missed this. missed lu han. he’s very happy they are back and he’s very happy that absolutely nothing has changed between them. not that there would be a reason for that, but he would be lying if he said he hasn’t worried at all.

“okay, boys.” lu han stands up and stretches his arms over his head. “i’ll go take a nap. you’re treating your special guest awfully, sehun, and i didn’t raise you like this so make it up to him right now.” he points a finger at sehun while walking to his room and winks once he’s sure jongin can’t see him.

“oh my- shut up, hyung!” sehun shouts back.

“what did he mean by special guest?” jongin asks, looking confused.

“nothing,” sehun dismisses it quickly. he’s going to punch lu han later. he shouldn’t have talked to him about jongin. “come sit with me,” he says, patting the spot next to him, and smiles at jongin changing sits. “sorry i left you alone. and about,” he gestures around with his hand, “this. i wasn’t even expecting them today.”

jongin just shrugs in response. he looks very uncomfortable, sehun notices. he’s never been uncomfortable here before and sehun hates to see him like this. he knows jongin is shy around new people but he’s never seen it and, if he’s being honest, he’s never even considered what would happen when jongin and lu han met, how this thing between him and jongin would change now that there were going to be more people around this place.

“i think, uhm, i- i’ll go home,” jongin says, looking anywhere but sehun.

sehun was hoping nothing would change, but apparently it is.

“oh, i thought- i mean, if you have to,” he says, gnawing at his lip.

jongin nods his head but doesn’t move from the couch. he looks uncomfortable and like he’s thinking hard about something and sehun wants nothing more than to hold his hand and go back to two hours ago when they were playing video games and laughing at each other. when everything was okay. now things are definitely not okay and sehun is confused because he doesn’t understand what happened in the middle.

another moment passes and jongin is still not moving to go, so sehun figures he may not want to after all. he takes a deep breath and holds jongin’s hand, waiting a second to see if he pulls away, but he doesn’t. sehun tightens his grip and intertwines their fingers.

“you don't want to go.” jongin shakes his head. “then don't go. i don't want you to. we were going to hang out and. i don't know, whatever. i don't want you to go,” sehun says.

“i just thought, i don't know,” jongin shrugs, looking down at their joined hands. “i figured you may want some space. to be with lu han. i mean, i would,” he sighs and looks up at sehun. “i would understand if you- if you didn't want me around all the time now that you have your friends back.”

sehun's eyebrows shot up so high he's afraid they are one with his hair now. “what.” he says, disbelieving. “what are you talking about? why would i want that?”

he can't believe he's having this conversation. with jongin, out of all people. he can't believe this is what has him looking all sad and thoughtful. it's the most ridiculous thing sehun has heard in a long time. nothing could be furthest from his reality, not when he finds himself wanting to spend every moment with jongin.

“we started to hang out because you were alone, but now lu han and minseok are back and you won't be alone that much, so i th-”

“stop there,” sehun interrupts. “maybe we started to hang out because of that, but now it's not like that like, at all. it hasn't been for months. i spend time with you because i want to, because i like it. you’re my friend, not my babysitter, jongin.” sehun finishes, trying to not sound too upset but probably failing.

“i know. i’m sorry, i didn’t mean to upset you,” jongin says, squeezing sehun’s hand lightly.  

“you don’t have to say sorry,” sehun shrugs. “but… why would you think i don’t wanna have you around?” now he’s worried, because what if he’s making jongin feel like that, what if he’s doing something wrong? “was it something i did? because if so, you have to tell me. because i love having you around, i don’t want to ever stop having you around, so if i’m doing something to make you feel bad you have to tell me so i can fix it.”

he says everything so fast he doesn’t think jongin got half of what he said, and when he stops and thinks about what he just said, he hopes jongin really didn’t get it. judging by jongin’s face, though, sehun’s not that lucky.

“you… want me around, forever,” jongin says, slowly, looking at sehun with wide eyes.

sehun feels heat rising on his cheeks and he looks back at jongin with an equally stunned expression on his face. they stare at each other for a long moment, and it feels a bit like they are having a conversation without having to say the words. jongin doesn’t look sad or upset or confused anymore, he just looks… hopeful, maybe. sehun really hopes it’s not just his wishful thinking. but he’s quite sure it isn’t. he’s not blind, he’s seen the way jongin looks at him sometimes, and it’s the same way sehun looks at him. he doesn’t know why none of them has said anything until now, but this feels as good a time as any to finally let it out.

“i like you,” he blurts out and immediately wants to hide his face behind his hands, but jongin is still holding one of them.

“i like you, too,” jongin says after a beat, with such a soft smile that sehun’s insides kinda melt.

they look at each other some more, and sehun lets his eyes take every detail of jongin’s face, from his plush lips to his cute nose to his warm, soft eyes. and he’s not in love, not just yet, but he’s definitely on his way there.

“can i do something?” he asks, softly.

jongin nods and sehun leans forward, plants a kiss on jongin’s nose and leans back again, smiling brightly.

“oh my god, you’re such a sap,” jongin says, scrunching up his face. he looks very cute, sehun regrets nothing.

“like you’re one to talk. you kissed my neck good morning,” sehun deadpans.

jongin blushes and smirks at the same time, and it makes sehun dizzy. jongin is the one leaning forward now, and he stops inches away from sehun’s face to divert to his neck. he waits a second before biting lightly around the mole there, making sehun gasp in surprise.

“are you going to kiss me for real or not?” jongin asks when he pulls back.

the way he keeps smirking makes sehun fear for his sanity and at the same time gives him the idea that this is going to be fun . he looks at jongin’s lips, up to his eyes and back down. he places his free hand on jongin’s jaw and finally, finally brings their lips together.

there aren’t any fireworks or sparks flying, their lips just slot together perfectly, moving in sync, and it feels as natural and right as everything else between them since the moment they met.

they pull away enough to take a breath, and sehun can feel jongin’s smile against his own, his hand on the small of sehun’s back pulling his body closer. then jongin kisses him again, deeper, slower this time.

an hour ago sehun was afraid things would change between them. they did, and he couldn’t be happier.

things are finally working out.