Hyunjin’s always been a little touchy, that’s just how he is. He clings to Chan’s back when the older boy cooks and flings his too-large self into Woojin’s lap when the nine of them watch tv together. It’s normal, constant, like the ebb and flow of the tide or the world spinning round on its axis. Just like the fact that Jeongin is Hyunjin’s favourite is normal and constant, too. Everyone knows it and no one tries to argue with it because it simply won’t change. Kind of like the laws of physics. It just is. Jeongin doesn’t mind it at all, he’s grown used to Hyunjin draping himself over him during vlives, pushing him against the mirrors in the practice room and leaning in until there’s practically an inch between them before pulling away with a laugh and a grin and a ‘just kidding, maknae!’. His heart maintains a steady pace, and his face maintains an easy grin because this is just how he is and this is just how Jeongin is, easy and young enough to be pushed around into being Hyunjin’s personal teddy bear. Some friendships are just like this, jokingly flirty and harmless banter but Jeongin knows that he and Hyunjin care about each other the same amount as they care about the others, they just show it in a different way. He remembers the first time Hyunjin shoved him up against the mirror when he was fifteen and just growing into his new voice, when Hyunjin’s handsome smirk both excited and frightened him. He had two ideas of what could happen - Hyunjin could either punch him or kiss him and he remembers not being able to figure out which one was worse and which one was better. In the end, Hyunjin had done neither, had pulled his weight off of Jeongin, ruffled his too long hair and giggled out ‘you’re too easy, baby’, the final word muttered mockingly in English. Jeongin had just taken it, because he didn’t mind it and he was the maknae anyway. Hyunjin was his hyung and he was damned if he thought he was going to complain against the older kids whilst he was by far the youngest and had no one to back him up. It’s routine. That’s just how they are and things don’t change for a long time after that. Even after Stray Kids form and they grow closer and closer to the others and face hardship after hardship together, Hyunjin still crawls into his bed in the fragile moments of the morning when he can’t sleep, Jeongin is still the first person he turns to when there’s something bothering him. In the whirlwind leading up to debut, one of the only constant and comforting things about their idol life is this: Jeongin is and always will be Hyunjin’s favourite.
It’s a few weeks before debut when Jeongin starts to feel it. They’re doing another one of their Vlives, cramped up onto one sofa. Changbin is taunting Felix from opposite ends, murmuring something about how he’s taking a liking to Jeongin recently, actually, and Felix makes a play of it, standing up in his seat in mock-anguish even though they all know that Changbin has a soft spot for Felix and no one else. Jeongin laughs along, wrapping a loose arm around Changbin’s neck. He can feel another hand plant itself on his wrist, tugging his arm away gently until it falls pliant against his side. He knows it’s Hyunjin without even having to look, countless nights spent falling asleep with Hyunjin’s hands on him allowing him to identify them from touch alone. He feels those said arms wrap around his shoulders, pulling him backwards to rest in between Hyunjin’s legs. For some reason, the action makes his heart speed up a little faster than normal. It’s barely enough for him to feel, but it’s there and Jeongin immediately feels a strange sort of feeling pang in his stomach, a foreign one but not entirely. Distant, maybe. Then, Hyunjin’s voice is next to his ear, not really loud enough to break the conversation going on around them but loud enough to be heard over the camera and definitely loud enough for Jeongin to hear.
“Jeongin-ie is mine!” he exclaims, squeezing onto the younger boy tighter and usually, under any other circumstance he’d be laughing it off, shaking Hyunjin’s arms off of his shoulders with crinkled eyes and a gentle pat to the hand but this time his breath catches delicately in his throat. Dread settles inside of him as he feels the telltale sign of a blush rushing to his cheeks and he can only hope that the cameras can’t pick it up. He wonders if he’s coming down with something, if he’s got a fever and maybe that’s why he’s acting in this strange manner so he turns around and quietly asks Hyunjin to check if he has a temperature. The older boys playful smile immediately melts into a face of worry, and Jeongin feels guilty straight away for making him worry. He worries enough anyway.
“Why?” the older boy murmurs, absentmindedly angling Jeongin’s head towards him to hide his own anxious gaze from the cameras. The gentle touch of Hyunjin’s hand against his bare cheek sparks like an electric shock and it takes all of the self control he has not to flinch away, “You not feeling good?”
Hyunjin’s spare hand has floated down to settle comfortingly on his shoulder, but it just burns underneath the thick fabric of his hoodie instead and Jeongin’s starting to get a little anxious. He doesn’t feel unwell exactly, but he feels too hot all of a sudden and his stomach keeps making this strange swooping motion, like he’s on a rollercoaster. He shrugs sheepishly and Hyunjin clicks his tongue like a mother hen, hand coming up to tenderly brush away his fringe and settle on his forehead. Jeongin hates how he feels the same electric experience, half feeling like this is a sign they’re not supposed to be touching and half feeling like he wants to push Hyunjin’s hand closer against his skin, let the electricity consume him.
“You don’t feel too hot,” Hyunjin says, eyes raking over his face. The older boy sucks his bottom lip into his mouth as his hands smooth down Jeongin’s face to hold the swell of his cheeks, “Your cheeks are kind of hot though, baby.”
Damn you, Hyunjin, Jeongin thinks as the pet name slips out of Hyunjin’s mouth without a second thought. It had become sort of an inside joke between them since their pre-debut days but he’s never had this kind of reaction before as more blood rushes to his cheeks and suddenly Hyunjin has this horrifically handsome shit-eating grin on his face. Jeongin scrambles to push his hands from his cheeks but the other keeps holding on even as Jeongin struggles to squirm out of his grip.
“Are you blushing?” the older asks him incredulously. He seems more excited about this fact than he should be and Jeongin can’t even look at him, still helplessly attempting to escape his grasp, suddenly painstakingly shy. He can’t even begin to imagine what this must look like to the viewers. Some sort of lovers spat? The thought alone, inexplicably, makes his stomach swoop again.
He can tell Hyunjin’s close to laughing and he lets out a frustrated whine, cheeks still flushed.
“What is it?” the other asks him, still smirking, “It it the name? Baby? Is that what gets you all worked up?”
Against his own will, Jeongin’s cheeks flush further and he can feel the heat in his face now - he must be as red as a tomato.
“Stop,” he whines, finally managing to pull Hyunjin’s hands away. He doesn’t think he’s ever been this embarrassed.
“It is, isn’t it!” Hyunjin exclaims, “You get embarrassed when I call you baby!” His voice is a little too loud and it draws a couple of the other’s gazes to their little argument. Chan gives them his special shut up or pay the price look whilst still maintaining a neutral leader-like smile for the viewers and Jeongin turns around immediately, adjusting his hoodie where it’s become bunched up during his struggle to escape Hyunjin’s deadly grasp. He can feel his face practically radiating heat and he can’t hope anymore that the viewers haven’t noticed. He experiences a blissful minute of time to cool down and he’s extremely relieved to feel all of the heat and colour slowly draining out of his face. Just before he thinks he’s made it out of the danger zone, they’re about to end the vlive when he feels Hyunjin lean down again, warm breath brushing the shell of his ear. Colour readily rushes to his cheeks.
“You can’t get away from me that easily, baby,” the older boy whispers and Jeongin feels goosebumps rise against the skin of his neck. He doesn’t reply this time, too busy focusing on keeping his cheeks a normal temperature.
After the vlive, Jeongin is attempting to recover whilst they walk home from the JYP building, keeping his distance from Hyunjin for a little while to cool off. He’s busy dwelling over what the hell just happened in there when Chan tugs at the sleeve of his hoodie, breaking him out of his thought process.
“What went on with you and Hyunjin during the V?” he questions. He has this way of asking questions completely void of emotion or bias, of asking them even if he thinks he might know the answer - it’s one of the many things Jeongin likes most about him. The younger takes a few moments to gather his thoughts.
“He was just…teasing me,” he replies carefully, eyes trained on the cracks between the tiles on the pavement.
“You sure?” Chan presses, and when Jeongin looks at him, there’s a shadow of a grin on his face, “You looked a little flustered over there, buddy.”
Embarrassment creeps in again but it’s not the same kind of embarrassment he felt when Hyunjin was doing it. Chan’s only participating in the same kind of teasing Hyunjin was participating in - harmless - and yet he doesn’t have the same reaction as he did to the other boy. He’s left feeling a little lost - maybe it’s just Hyunjin? He doesn’t realise he hasn’t answered Chan until the other boy clears his throat.
“It’s fine,” Jeongin says dismissively, and then decides maybe it’s a good idea if he tells Chan about it, maybe to just get a second opinion, “It’s just…”
“Just…” the other pushes gently, eyes trained on the side of Jeongin’s face where he’s looking down.
“Just that, God, it sounds really stupid.”
“No it doesn’t,” Chan replies immediately, “Take your time, Jeongin-ah, Hyung will wait.”
“He kept…he kept calling me baby and,” he shakes his head, “I don’t know. I suppose it just got me flustered.”
Chan makes a confused noise in the back of his throat and when Jeongin turns to look at him, his eyebrows are furrowed.
“Baby?” he asks, “But doesn’t he always call you that? It’s never flustered you before though, right?”
Jeongin shakes his head, shrugging.
“No,” he says, “I don’t know. Maybe it’s just today.”
Chan hums again.
“Maybe,” he sounds unconvinced, “Listen. If you ever need to talk to anyone, I’m here, alright? And don’t let Hyunjin tease you if it makes you uncomfortable, okay? You hear me maknae?”
Jeongin nods absentmindedly and by the time he’s thought through what Chan has said, the older has skipped away to link his arm through Woojin’s.
“Talk to anyone… about what?” Jeongin murmurs, but it’s only to the night air.
It happens again back at their dorm. After the vlive, it’s too early to sleep but too late to start practice unless they want to get literally no sleep at all, so the nine of them decide on a ‘group bonding’ session instead. Essentially, they all pile up onto their tiny sofa and subsequently end up sprawled on the floor around it, put on some trashy English movie and most likely end up falling asleep a few minutes in. As the maknae, Jeongin’s forced to leave his spot on the sofa to pop popcorn and by the time he gets back, a smirking Hyunjin is in his place. The look on his face, mouth pulled up a little to the left, eyes dancing merrily, makes Jeongin’s heart drop in his chest, whether from nerves or something else, he doesn’t know. All he does know is that Hyunjin is attractive, like a magnet, drawing Jeongin slowly towards him in dizzying circles. The younger boy places the snacks down on the table and moves to stand in front of the other, blocking his view of the tv. Hyunjin looks up at him, that smirk having disappeared but his eyes still mischievous.
“What’s up, baby?” he asks. Jeongin can feel Chan’s eyes on him from where he’s stuck, half under Woojin and Jisung. He can feel the telltale rush of heat and colour to his face again, but he fights it back in favour of confronting Hyunjin about stealing his seat.
“You’re in my seat,” he manages out, but his brain is too scattered to make it come out anything but soft and hesitant and Hyunjin immediately softens. Before Jeongin can even react, the older boy’s hands are coming up to wrap around his waist and pull him forward until Jeongin has no other choice than to fall into his lap. He decides there’s no point in him struggling to escape, he’ll just end up amusing Hyunjin more so he allows himself to be manhandled around until he’s stuck between Hyunjin’s legs, chest to back. Hyunjin keeps one hand tight around his waist and brings the other hand to fiddle absentmindedly with Jeongin’s fingers. His brain feels like it’s turned to mush, and his stomach is no longer swooping, it just feels like it’s in a constant state of unrest. Despite all this, though, he finds he doesn’t really want to shy away from the sensation and he instead finds himself scooting backwards further into Hyunjin, hoping Hyunjin can’t spot the colour on his cheeks from this angle. Throughout the movie, Jeongin eventually drifts off to the background drone of Ironman 3 in the background and Hyunjin’s hand stroking at the bare skin of his waist.
Things only go downhill from there, really. Hyunjin keeps getting closer and closer and Jeongin lets him even if it makes him feel like he’s going to combust. Most of the members don’t even bat an eyelid at their antics, simply used to them already but he’s felt Chan’s watchful eyes on him once or twice. He doesn’t know what the leader thinks about them but he’s been struggling with this strange feeling for a little too long now and decides that maybe it would be good to get a second opinion. It’s three AM and he’s lying on his back in his bed, Hyunjin’s arm thrown over his waist and their legs hooked together when he realises he needs to go and find their leader. He removes Hyunjin’s arm and carefully extracts himself from their tangle of limbs, cautious not to wake the older boy. When he’s upright with both feet touching the wooden floor, he finds he can’t hide a smile when he sees the oddly domestic image of Hyunjin curled up in his bed, looking much younger than he ever does when he’s awake. In fact, it’s such a nice sight that Jeongin has trouble pulling his eyes away, especially from the strip of pale collarbone exposed where Hyunjin’s shirt collar has slipped down. Chan’s room is opposite to theirs and so it only takes a couple of creaky floorboards for him to get over there. He isn’t surprised to see light leaking out from under the door, Chan being notoriously known for working himself too hard at odd hours of the morning. Jeongin inexplicably discovers that he’s a little nervous, although he has absolutely no idea why. He forgoes knocking on the door for just pushing it open and hoping Chan doesn’t have his headphones in. Luckily, he doesn’t and their leader whips his head around the moment he hears his door creak open. His face softens when he sees their youngest and he immediately pauses the mellow beat leaking out of the speakers, beckoning for him to come in with a gentle smile.
"Couldn't sleep, maknae?” he asks, voice quiet so as not to wake Woojin snoring in the bed opposite them.
Jeongin finds himself shaking his head, crossing the room so he can perch on the end of Chan’s bed, hands gripping the bed frame.
“I…have to talk to you about something.”
Chan hums, slowly turning his body in the chair he’s sitting in to face Jeongin fully.
“Is this about Hyunjin?” the older boy asks quietly. Jeongin looks up at him, surprise colouring his facial expression.
“How’d you know?”
“I watch you guys, sometimes. I think something’s changed between you recently.”
“You do?” Jeongin asks but Chan just nods, not giving him a proper answer as to what exactly he thinks has changed between them. Jeongin takes the other boy’s silence as a sign to continue speaking.
“I suppose…you might be right,” he begins, attempting to sift through all of the thoughts in his brain, “I don’t know. Recently I suppose I’ve just been feeling kind of flustered by him? Like he’s always been touchy and stuff but lately it’s been - it’s been making me feel kind of weird.”
Chan has his faced schooled carefully neutral.
“Weird?” he questions, “Weird how?”
Jeongin wrings his hands, shrugging.
“I don’t know! Just like, I blush a lot and my stomach feels all wobbly and my heart beats too fast and - oh.”
Chan has the cheek to look amused at poor Jeongin’s struggles.
“Oh?” he prompts.
“Chan hyung,” Jeongin gasps out and there’s fear rising in his chest, thick and fast, “What does this mean?”
Chan’s face turns worried at Jeongin’s sudden change in emotion, his eyebrows furrowing downwards as Jeongin’s breathing picks up pace.
“I think, maybe,” he begins but cuts himself off again, “What do you think it means?”
“I don’t know!” Jeongin exclaims.
Chan reaches out a hand to settle against Jeongin’s arm and it distresses him even more that his heart rate doesn’t spike like it does when Hyunjin touches him.
“Jeongin, darling,” he begins, “I think you like Hyunjin.”
He says it clear as day, devoid of judgement and prejudice and yet the statement makes him want to cover his ears. It all makes sense, and Jeongin feels like a complete idiot for missing it because that weird feeling in his stomach is butterflies and he’s so frickin’ stupid and to make matters a whole lot worse, he can feel hot tears pricking at the corner of his eyes, threatening to spill down his cheeks.
“No, hyung,” he says slowly, shaking his head even though he knows with every fibre of his being that he likes Hyunjin, likes him a lot more than he probably should.
Chan keeps his hand steady on his arm, grounding but Jeongin still feels like he’s drowning, pure panic replacing all the blood in his veins.
“Hyung, I can’t.”
Chan quickly gets up from his seat and moves to sit next to Jeongin instead, an arm draped over his shoulders.
“Why not, Jeongin-ie?” he asks, voice soothing, “It’s not wrong.”
“No, I know it’s not wrong,” the younger says, shaking his head adamantly, “It’s just, just not me, I can’t like Hyunjin! He’s my best friend. We’re in the same band! I can’t, Chan hyung."
“Who says, huh? You can like him, and you do like him.”
The tears finally fall at this point, coming thick and fast against his cheeks until he’s full on sobbing.
“I’m scared, hyung,” he says and he is, he’s terrified because he’s never felt this way, this strongly, towards anyone at all and the fact that it’s Hyunjin, of all people, just scares him even more.
Chan pulls him against his chest and suddenly Woojin is at his side, as well, groggy from sleep but already whispering soothing words. Jeongin watches him and Chan exchange a look above his head, communicating in a way that only the two of them can and Jeongin wishes he and Hyunjin could be like that instead, full of silent understanding and meaningful stares instead of hurtling towards something together without even knowing what it is.
“I know, Jeongin-ah, but we’ve got you, alright?”
He ends up falling asleep between their two oldest that night, exhausted from crying.
The next few days are Hell for him, he absorbs himself with practice, spending unhealthy amounts of time cooped up in the vocal practice room where he knows Hyunjin has no reason to be and at night, he pads into Chan’s room before Hyunjin can even attempt to come to him and ends up falling asleep feeling cold despite Chan’s warmth radiating next to him. They don’t talk for weeks, Jeongin making weak excuses to get away whenever Hyunjin tries to join into a conversation he’s in or strike one up with him alone and flinching away whenever Hyunjin attempts to touch him. After about a week, the older boy stops trying to talk to him all together and just stays away from him too and the annoying thing is, staying away from him isn’t even working. Jeongin thought that maybe keeping his distance from Hyunjin, completely cutting him off, would subsequently cut his feelings off too and make them normal again, allow Jeongin to not feel like his hearts about to combust every time they even look at each other. Instead, it’s only made him lonely and sad and only made him want Hyunjin more, want his smile and his words and his hands on him. It’s not like it’s just affecting him either, Hyunjin is visibly down, even to the point where he talks less to others as well, eyes a little less bright than they used to be. Chan and Woojin constantly look at the both of them with pity as the gap between them grows larger and larger.
It gets to the point where even Jisung, who’s mildly oblivious on a good day, clocks that there’s something wrong. He corners Jeongin when he’s attempting to refill his water bottle.
“What’s going on with you and Hyunjin?” he asks and even the mention of his name makes Jeongin’s stomach feel weird.
“What do you mean?” he asks, attempting to feign nonchalance.
Jisung has one hand on the water cooler and the other on the wall, cornering Jeongin in. His brows furrow.
“Don’t bullshit me, maknae. What’s going on?”
Jeongin winces and decides evading won’t work anymore so he chooses to just stay silent, eyes trained downwards. Jisung’s face softens a little.
“He’s so sad without you, Jeongin-ie,” he says quietly, soberly, “He misses you. He doesn’t even know what he’s done, he keeps asking around.”
The guilt that he’s managed to keep relatively at bay suddenly rises in his stomach, making him feel nauseous.
“I know,” he sighs out, “I just…I can’t be with him right now.”
“But why?” Jisung pushes and when he gets no reply, he continues, “It’s obviously hurting you both! He’s always looking out for you, even when you’re ignoring him! And we keep finding him sleeping in your bed without you now that you sleep with Chan-hyung.”
The knowledge of Hyunjin alone in his bed, without someone to cuddle up with makes his chest ache and his resolve almost crumbles right there, the urge to run back to Hyunjin’s arms overwhelming but he knows he’ll only hurt himself and possibly Hyunjin in the process. The only thing keeping him from blurting out his confession is the knowledge that it will ruin whatever little bit of their friendship there is left to salvage. He just needs to get over his crush and then everything can go back to normal.
“I can’t, Jisung-hyung,” he says quietly, fiddling with the cap on his bottle. Jisung looks at him for a second, really looks at him and then realisation dawns slowly on his face.
“You caught feelings, didn’t you?” he asks, shock still colouring his voice, “You’re staying away from him to protect him.”
When Jeongin doesn’t answer, keeps his head down in something that looks a little too much like shame and nods a little, Jisung grabs him by the shoulders and pulls him forward into a tight hug.
“Things are gonna be fine,” the older boy murmurs, squeezing him one last time, “You should talk to him. You’d be surprised at some things, I think.”
They practice for hours, until Jeongin’s throat and lungs burn and he feels inches away from exhaustion. It’s around 2am when they finally finish for the day but there’s this one move that Jeongin just can’t stick so he tells Felix quietly that he’s going to stay a while, and that he’ll see them at home. He can see Hyunjin’s head pop up to look at them in his peripherals and has to try his absolute hardest to ignore it. Felix looks a little hesitant to leave him alone this late at night but when Jeongin reassures him he’s simply going to complete this move and then leave, he seems a little more satisfied (and Changbin’s persistent hand on his waist, pulling him slowly towards the door, seems to convince him a little more, too). The other eight of them file out of the room, Hyunjin last. Jeongin can’t help but watch him go, the ache in his chest raw and painful in the early hours of the morning. It’s hard to watch him turn his back on him, even if it’s his own fault. He watches the door fall shut in the mirrors and then drags his feat over to the speaker, rewinding the music to the right point and then letting it take him. He’s so absorbed in the music and that certain part of the dance that he doesn’t even notice the door falling open, doesn’t hear those telltale footsteps that he’s had memorised since he was fifteen. It’s only when the music stops and Jeongin opens his eyes does he notice Hyunjin standing behind him. Their eyes meet in the mirrors and Jeongin aches. He wants so badly to turn around and wrap his arms around Hyunjin’s neck and his resolve is wavering because the boy simply looks so beautiful even though the bags under his eyes are personified under this shitty lighting and it’s times like these when Jeongin is reminded of just how young they are.
“Hyunjin-” Jeongin begins, starting to move away but the taller boy simply moves closer, so close that Jeongin’s back is pressed against his chest. Hyunjin’s hands come up to settle loosely on his waist and Jeongin knows he should pull away, should walk away, grab his stuff and leave but he’s weak and he hasn’t felt Hyunjin this close in too long. In the mirror, it looks too intimate, too romantic, so much so that Jeongin has to close his eyes.
“Your balance is off,” Hyunjin murmurs suddenly, and it takes Jeongin a second to realise what he’s talking about. Before he can reply, Hyunjin’s hands are manoeuvring him slowly into the correct position for the move, feet a little further apart, hips twisted a couple degrees to the left.
Right when he thinks Hyunjin’s going to let him go, leave him to it, the other boy steps closer still, until Jeongin looks in the mirror and can’t even tell where he ends and where Hyunjin begins.
“Why have you been avoiding me, Jeongin-ie?” Hyunjin asks him lowly and Jeongin’s missed the feeling of goosebumps rising where Hyunjin’s breathing against the skin of his neck, the familiar feeling of heat crawling up his face. He tries to move, to put distance between them before he does something he’s going to regret, hands going down to cover Hyunjin’s own in an attempt to remove them from his waist. Instead, Hyunjin simply laces their fingers together and Jeongin’s breath audibly catches.
“Stop running away from me,” the older whispers and Jeongin squeezes his eyes shut again. There’s hurt tinging the edges of his voice, and it only leaks further in. “Why do you keep running?”
Jeongin can’t think of a worded answer, everything he thinks of sounds stupid or overly complicated. He stays silent for a second, focuses on the darkness behind his eyelids and the heaving of Hyunjin’s chest against his back before he decides there’s really only one way to do this. He takes a deep breath and without opening his eyes, turns around in Hyunjin’s arms and seals their lips together.
It’s quick and urgent, a press of lips before Jeongin pulls away, heart pounding in his chest. Hyunjin’s eyes are frozen open, and his hands are finally relaxed enough for Jeongin to escape from his grip but he doesn’t want to just yet, wants to soak in the memory of being held like this because he has no doubt that this is the last time. The taller boy blinks and Jeongin watches him swallow. Jeongin has an awful urge to kiss him again but settles for letting their eyes meet.
“That’s why,” he murmurs quietly, “That’s why I keep running.”
Before he can tell himself it’s a bad idea, he leans forward and wraps his arms fully around Hyunjin’s neck, pulling him into a hug. He expects Hyunjin to push him away but he feels his heart start up in his chest again when he feels Hyunjin’s arms come up to wrap around his waist. He thinks he might be dreaming when he feels a press of lips against the side of his temple.
“There’s no need,” Hyunjin says, “You can stay right here.”
Jeongin pulls back in surprise and confusion and as soon as he and Hyunjin turn face to face, he practically melts. Hyunjin is smiling, and not his ‘camera’ smile, or his ‘ that’s kind of funny’ smile, it’s his full on ‘i’m so fond of you’ smile, eyes crinkling at the corners and seeing it this close up is so overwhelming Jeongin can barely handle it. Hyunjin leans forward and seals their lips gently together. Jeongin is so shocked that he forgets to respond and Hyunjin laughs at him when he pulls away.
“You alright there, baby?” Hyunjin asks him, grinning when Jeongin squirms in his arms.
“Y- you just kissed me,” Jeongin stutters out, completely and utterly shellshocked. Hyunjin nods.
“And you forgot to kiss back,” he says, to which Jeongin bats him weakly on the shoulder.
“You like me?” the younger boy asks as if it’s the most incredulous thing in the world. Hyunjin nods a confirmation.
“I’m surprised it took you this long to realise,” he says, “I mean, I’ve been dropping some pretty heavy hints.”
“I thought that was just - that that was just you!” Jeongin exclaims, mentally kicking himself and Hyunjin laughs again, leaning forward to drop a kiss between his eyes and Jeongin clings to him like he never wants to let go (unsurprisingly, he doesn’t).
“Maybe you should kiss me back this time,” Hyunjin says, “Just to make up for it.”
Jeongin laughs and then nods.
And Hyunjin does. He leans forward and presses their lips together and it’s a lot less tentative than the last time when Hyunjin walks him backwards to press Jeongin’s back against the mirrors. Jeongin’s hands move up to wind into the hair at the back of Hyunjin’s head and the older tilts his face, kissing him deeper and messier until Jeongin’s mouth falls open on it’s own accord, this horrifically embarrassing whine escaping his throat that he can’t bring himself to care too much about at this moment in time. Jeongin’s breathing heavily when they pull away, flushed all the way down to his collarbones with his hands bunched up in Hyunjin’s shirt and Hyunjin literally coos at him, pulling him forward into his chest.
“You’re so cute, my baby,” he laughs out and Jeongin has to hide his face in Hyunjin’s neck, abashed at the attention.
Later, when they return home with their hands clasped together, they fall into Jeongin’s bed, giggling the whole time and Jeongin absentmindedly hopes that Chan isn’t too lonely without him (although it’s likely he’s got Woojin to keep him company, anyway). Hyunjin’s always been a little touchy with the stray kids members but one thing remains constant and true, like the ebb and flow of the tide or the world spinning round on its axis. Jeongin is, and always will be, Hyunjin’s favourite.