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knots in your back (arrows in my heart)

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It is fairly known in their circle of friends Jihoon is not an overly touchy person. He shies away from the slightest brush of fingers when he walks beside Mingyu on their way to class. Jihoon had decided too late he intended on pursuing a minor in English so he’s fallen behind just a little in his preferred graduation plan. Mingyu can’t help but admit how ecstatic he is knowing he’ll have a number of shared classes with his boyfriend . Mingyu can’t help but admit how ecstatic he is Jihoon finally agreed to give their relationship a name.

“Why does it matter? I’m not seeing anyone else, you’re not seeing anyone else. Why put a label on something good?”

Which. Yes , Mingyu agrees, what we have is good. But that’s beside the point. He wants to introduce Jihoon as his boyfriend . He wants to tell his parents about him, to introduce them. He wants to tell his friends I’m sorry, I have plans with my boyfriend or Oh, can my boyfriend come with? when they invite him out. He knows Jihoon hasn’t really dated in a while. Maybe two years. Not since Seungcheol, anyway.

And dating Jihoon is fantastic. They’ve been official for over three months, spending most of their time at Mingyu’s apartment where Jihoon has all but moved in. Mingyu gets enough spam texts from Wonwoo asking where his roommate is every other day to know it’s A Lot.

The thing is. Mingyu has been friends with Jihoon for over a year. What started out as a schoolboy crush had since blown up into a full grown adult thing and he finally got his mouth on Jihoon seven months into their friendship. Two months of messing around and tiptoeing around mutual feelings and hiding things from their friends (for the most part).

The point being, Mingyu likes to think he knows Jihoon. Knows Jihoon can work himself into a slump, past the point of an actual human being and instead just a shell of nothing. He’ll spend hours in the music rooms, hammering on the piano keys and penning sheets upon sheets of music. Each one , in his own words, is worse than the last . Mingyu can’t fathom writing a blog post let alone an entire composition in another language.

So when, one day, Jihoon lets himself into Mingyu’s apartment with a particularly homely look on his entire body and then proceeds to roll himself into a small burrito of Mingyu’s favorite minky blanket, Mingyu knows something is Up. He’s working in his home office when he hears all of this go down, so after a few more minutes of sketching Mingyu manages to detach himself from work and attach himself to Jihoon. It’s a little uncomfortable, still in a button down t-shirt only unbuttoned at the top and tight pants hugging at his waist. Jihoon looks soft, is all. He’s not immune to tousling his hair, either.

There are small snorts coming from the blanket wrap and Mingyu almost just believes Jihoon has passed out completely until he speaks. “I scrapped everything, again.”

Mingyu wishes he could even pretend to be shocked, but it’s been like this every other week. Something happens and Jihoon finds passion in another melody, another set of words, and he’s re-writing everything for the fifth time. The full project is due in three months and without it, Jihoon can’t graduate. Mingyu hums, anyway.

“It was shit. I took Kihyun’s advice and it was shit.” If Mingyu remembers correctly, Kihyun is a TA. Not that it’s relevant. He just likes being able to keep up with Jihoon. “I have to stay late tomorrow, so I’ll sleep at my place.”

“Why not just take a break?” His hand scratches absentmindedly at Jihoon’s scalp still resting below him on the mattress.


“Why not take a break, hyung ?”

They’ve had this discussion multiple times. Jihoon spending a little less time in the studio when he doesn’t have to, letting his brain breathe. Mingyu fully believes in waiting until inspiration strikes instead of forcing it down one’s throat. Jihoon, unfortunately, does not believe in such ideals.

“You know I can’t do that.” There’s a shift and Jihoon has unraveled himself from the blanket, sitting upright to stare at Mingyu with a strange look on his face.

“And why not?”

“Because I’m here too much as it is. Every hour I have free, every second I waste doing nothing is valuable time I won’t get back. If I don’t finish this in time, I-”

It’s not particularly harsh, but the words come out of his mouth before Mingyu is able to stop them, “Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot the idea of spending time with me was so revolting.”   

Jihoon frowns, puffing his cheeks with an exasperated sigh before standing up. Mingyu pretends he isn’t paying attention but a sudden look of horror flashes across his face when Jihoon opens and then closes the bedroom door. Another door closes and Mingyu refuses to believe Jihoon would just up and leave, but soon after he hears the shower start and relief washes over him. And any other day he would probably jump in the shower with Jihoon. Any other day he would tumble after him under the spray of the hot water.

Any other day and he would probably grovel on his knees for forgiveness. But for now, he’ll risk overthinking every little part of their ‘argument’ and psychoanalyze what he did wrong. It’s for the best, anyway.

It’s nearly thirty minutes when the water finally stops. Mingyu is idle-mindedly playing rhythm games on his phone, anxiety chewing at the better half of him. It’s another ten minutes before the bathroom door opens, before there are steps padding across the apartment, before the bedroom door opens. To reveal a pink-skinned Jihoon completely drowning in Mingyu’s purposely oversized (even for him) university sweatshirt.

Jihoon’s eyes are red and Mingyu makes a mental note to not ask about that unless prompted. He watches, wordlessly, as Jihoon continues to root around the bedroom while simultaneously drying his hair. There are droplets landing everywhere, on papers and on Mingyu’s closed laptop and on the carpet.  

Mingyu pats the empty side of the mattress and waits for Jihoon to join him. It takes a minute, Jihoon’s nose scrunching up the way it does when he’s thinking too hard, before he crawls onto the bed. “I’m sorry,” Mingyu manages almost immediately.

Jihoon curls his back against Mingyu’s chest seeking warmth and Mingyu reaches his arm over to turn off the lamp, resting it over Jihoon’s stomach. There are a good five minutes or so before Jihoon’s voice fills the silence.

“I don’t find it revolting.”

Mingyu is careful, breathing steady. “I know.”

“I’m just stressed.”

Mingyu is content, eyes closing. “I know.”

“I-” I’m not in love with you but I’m getting there .

Mingyu is in love, heart full. “I know.”