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Keep you warm in the cold

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“Are you still at the library?”

 

Ten puts the groceries in the refrigerator, his phone resting between his ears and shoulder. It’s a dangerous position for the device and he should probably stop putting it in that kind of situation but he can’t. It’s a bad habit he picked up from Johnny.

 

The state of his boyfriend’s phone should really be enough incentive for him to change his ways but if he’s one thing, it’s a rebel.

 

There are sounds of shuffling coming from the other side and then, whispering before the familiar slightly high but soft voice speaks.

 

“Yeah, hyung,” Ten hears Donghyuck say something to someone again and it’s easy for him to picture Donghyuck with wide eyes, frantically covering the mic of his phone and chiding someone, probably Mark, and planning world domination or fighting about how cyan is blue and not aqua or some weird shit like that.

 

“Is Mark with you, Hyuck?”

 

The frozen peas numb his fingers but what’s food without a bit of pain? You must get through this, he tells himself, imagining himself as Hercules in that weird glitchy game he used to play when he was like, eleven, and pretending to put two measly packets of peas in the refrigerator like he’s lifting Thor’s hammer and displacing it.

 

He’s just jittery and a little whiny, okay? His favourite people in the world are a few miles away from him. He has the right to be dramatic and whiny.

 

“Hyuck?” He calls out again, finally holding the phone properly, hissing and shushing sounds crackling through the phone.

 

“Yeah, Mark hyung... fuck.. stop trying to eat my neck,” Then he giggles and Ten quirks an eyebrow, a reflex, “Lee Donghyuck, you tell Mark Lee to keep his hands and his mouth off and answer me this instant or the next time I see your boyfriend I am castrating him.”

 

Ten knows that his deadpan voice is the one that gets the most reaction from him. He smirks when he hears Donghyuck mutter something in an annoyed tone to his boyfriend and finally, the shuffling stops.

 

“I am sorry, hyung. He was tickling me.” Sure, tickling. Ten remembers his fair share of "tickling" during college. However, to his shock, he doesn’t recall "tickling" Johnny in a library.

 

Kids these days. Maybe Ten is a teensy bit proud of Donghyuck.

 

“Sure,” He says, putting his best smug voice on, “It looks like it is gonna rain. Ask Mark to drop you home.”

 

Ten turns away from the fridge before going back again, opening the door, cold air hitting him in the face. Thunder crackles outside.

 

“He can’t. He has to pick Jisung from dance practice and he has to go to the cafe. Jeno is sick, remember?”

 

Ten throws a contemplating look to the kimchi as he hums before Donghyuck’s words register.

 

“He’s pulling a double shift again?” Ten jots down a mental reminder to smack Mark on the head next time he sees him.

 

“Yeah. He’s a moron.” Donghyuck scoffs and Ten hears an indignant whine, huffing out a laugh.

 

“Johnny’s not here though. How are you gonna get here? Should I come to pick you up?”

 

“Hyung, I’m not a child. I’m nineteen years old. I don’t need you to babysit me.” Donghyuck says, all fake stoic and composed. Ten laughs despite trying not to.

 

“That isn’t what you were saying last Friday when you woke me up at 3 in the morning for an ice-cream run.”

 

There’s silence on the line.

 

“That was one time.”

 

Ten breathes loudly, opening his mouth only to get interrupted by Donghyuck before he can utter another word.

 

“Oh my God! OKAY! Okay! Don’t pull the list on me.”

 

Ten clicks his tongue and grins. He can picture the annoyed frown on Donghyuck’s face as clear as day and he laughs again.

 

“You can study the rest at home not that I believe you were studying all this time,” Donghyuck protests with a whine again but Ten continues unfazed, “Come home, Hyuck-ah.”

 

He knows how easy it is to make Donghyuck leave everything and run back to the house with that one line. The other boy has never said it out loud to them but both Ten and Johnny know that Donghyuck considers their house his home. He becomes a soft, emotional mess whenever they use the term and in the beginning, it was amusing and touching.

 

Two years down the lane, it still is as amusing as it was back then.

 

Perhaps, a part of Ten, no, all of him thinks that the best decision he and Johnny ever made together was asking Donghyuck to move in after he finished high school. Obviously, there was some hesitation but Ten is glad that they went through with it because Donghyuck really doesn’t deserve to spend what is supposed to be the best time of his life locked up in a dorm with a bunk bed and boys with smelly feet.

 

The only reason Ten got through the experience was because the boy with the smelly feet was Johnny but his feet weren’t really smelly. You get it? And also because maybe the nights involved cuddles and some days, more.

 

“We’re walking to the bus stop now.”

 

Ten nods with a smile even if he knows that the other can’t see it.

 

“Kimchi fried rice?”

 

Ten is already taking the container with the rice when Donghyuck screeches out a jumbled string of affirmation. He can hear the noises of vehicles honking and fading engine sounds along with Donghyuck mumbling goodbye to Mark.

 

“Hyung, I’ll come over some other time. I gotta go pick up Jisung now.”

 

Mark’s voice comes through clearly and there’s an edge of hurry in it.

 

“Yeah, yeah, brat. Go get your dancer prodigy bro.”

 

Mark makes a disgruntled whine in the back of his throat and Ten really is proud of Donghyuck for choosing the Canadian boy because he can see the exact ways in which they fit. It’s heartwarming and Ten really cannot help but picture a ring on Donghyuck’s finger some years from now. Perhaps, it’s a little far-fetched but he is nothing if not ambitious.

 

And he needs to stop watching so many dramas. All the shows are really threatening his mental sanity not that imagining Donghyuck’s wedding is a sign of insanity.

 

He really needs to stop his thoughts from branching out so much.

 

“My bus is in, like... twenty minutes. Is Johnny hyung home yet?”

 

Donghyuck’s voice sounds a little distorted, like there’s heavy wind or something. Ten closes the fridge with finality and walks to the window, opening it fully. A gust of cool air smacks him in the face, the sky painted a grey-blue gradient.

 

“No, he is staying back to finish a presentation that’s due on Monday. He’ll be back late tonight.”

 

The wind messes with Donghyuck’s voice again. That coupled with the blackening sky makes Ten’s mom instincts want to lash out.

 

“Hyuck, get a taxi and come home. Don’t wait around for the bus.”

 

Donghyuck rejects the suggestion as soon as he hears it.

 

“No! I’m gonna hang up, hyung. My phone’s battery is at 4%. See you at home,” Ten smiles, half pleased, half worried at the kissy sounds that reach him through the phone.

 

“Geez, okay, brat! Get here fast!”

 

“Sure, mom!”

 

So maybe Donghyuck knows exactly what to say to silence him. The call disconnects with a click.

 

A few minutes later, it starts to rain, the water running down the sides of the window. Thunder growls loudly and the flashes of lightning illuminate the kitchen like the man upstairs is playing with a malfunctioning torchlight.

 

Ten turns on the flashlight on his phone and continues cooking because food is a priority and because he knows Donghyuck didn’t have lunch in the afternoon.

 

 

The power goes with another flash of the lightning and there goes his plan of making coffee. He’s so glad that he cancelled the classes for today because as much as he loves rain, it is a pain in the ass to commute to his studio when it does. Thank God for weather forecasts.

 

Ten stares at the rain through the window, ignoring his heart’s demands to open it up. If Donghyuck was here, the younger boy would have thrown the window open and Ten would have screamed his head off but would have let the water fall on the polished linoleum floor anyway.

 

The things he does for Donghyuck.

 

Fuck.

 

He feels quite stupid for letting the rain wash his common sense away even if for a few minutes. When he tries to call Donghyuck, it goes to voicemail and after a couple of tries, it eventually says that his phone is switched off and Ten just wants to pull said boy by the hair and smack him because how many times is his phone going to die and put Ten through a mid-twenties crisis?

 

So he does what he does every time this happens, this being Donghyuck landing himself in situations which make Ten’s dyed and dying hair all fall out.

 

One day, the sunshine boy is going to be the reason Ten goes bald.

 

And then, he calls Johnny.

 

He picks up on the second ring.

 

“Babe?”

 

Johnny sounds, for lack of better words, drained. Ten knows that his boyfriend hasn’t been sleeping well since he got his promotion because while the pay is good, the added work is too much for one person to bear. It doesn’t help that Johnny is a perfectionist so it’s stressful for both of them but calling the other out on it never works and Ten hates fighting. Also, Johnny loves his job so there’s nothing he can do about it except dance it off or something when he goes to his dance studio.

 

He almost hangs up the phone. He can go look for Donghyuck himself.

 

“Ten? Babe?”

 

“Yeah,” He pauses before deciding to say fuck it, “I’m sorry but Hyuck is out at the library and it’s raining so hard. He doesn’t have an umbrella with him and now he isn’t picking up the phone.”

 

Ten hears the tinkling sound of keys seconds later and Johnny yells at someone to mail him the presentation.

 

Has Ten talked about how much he loves Johnny?

 

Because he does. He loves him so damn much.

 

“Where was he again?” Johnny enquires.

 

Ten feels a smile curve his eyes up. He’s so fond of him.

 

“I love you.”

 

Johnny chuckles and Ten can imagine the exact way he shakes his head and God, he loves this man so much it physically hurts.

 

“I don’t recall there being a place that goes by the three magical words, babe. Now, where is he?”

 

Ten giggles, “Rude. He’s at the bus station near the library. He said there was a bus in twenty minutes but I’m not sure since it’s been almost an hour already. I’m worried, Johnny.”

 

Ten hears the tell-tale sounds of the storm and then Johnny closing the car’s door and he chuckles again.

 

“Ten, you do realize that he’s my brother right?”

 

Ten frowns.

 

“I do but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to worry, you selfish prick.”

 

Johnny’s laughter rings from the other side and perhaps, Ten likes it. A lot.

 

“I’ll call you when I pick him up. Love you.”

 

He tries listening to music to ward away the worry but the rain drills through the wall of sound and when it begins to give him a headache, he turns it off and rips the earphones away.

 

Waiting is terrible. He knows that it’s just rain and that Donghyuck is a grown ass boy but the last time the boy’s phone was switched off, he got his hand stuck in a vending machine and Mark was panicking on the phone. Ten had to call off the dance class and rush to the hospital. The time before that, Donghyuck fell from his skateboard and hit his head. The time before the concussion, both Mark and Donghyuck ended up getting locked in Mark’s dorm with both their phones dead and it was just a complete mess.

 

His worries are completely valid.

 

My one and only

06:48 PM

Found him.

 

Ten sighs in relief.

 

He is not relieved for long though because when he sees the door open and Donghyuck stumble in, said boy is drenched from head to toe, dripping water on the clean floor. He has a mischievous grin on his face but it fades just a little at the glare Ten levels him.

 

Ten cranes his neck and Johnny’s light blue button-up is wet, his hair clumpy but he looks realms better than Donghyuck.

 

“You big baby, did you play in the rain?” Ten walks forward, glare intensifying at the way Donghyuck’s teeth chatter.

 

Donghyuck’s gaze widens and he twists his neck to look at Johnny who shrugs at him.

 

“How dare you accuse me of such a crime? Playing in the rain, hyung? I could have just been attacked by the rain while I was walking home like the innocent boy I am. Your trust in me is non-existent.”

 

Ten shakes his head firmly, “Yes, it is, you brat! Now come on.” He drags the other away by his wrist and doesn’t catch Donghyuck sending puppy eyes to Johnny.

 

“I told you he’ll know.”

 

Ten nearly drops the act then but he is actually not happy with the situation.

 

Donghyuck changes into the clothes Ten throws him while Johnny does the same. Donghyuck sits down on the bed to make it easier for the dance instructor to towel-dry his hair.

 

“You’re gonna pull all my hair out if you keep doing this!”

 

Donghyuck whines loudly and Ten stops drying his hair, letting the towel rest against his shoulder.

 

“Touche, brat!”

 

Johnny huffs out a laugh, drying his hair with his towel before Ten makes him sit on the bed and dries his hair for him.

 

“That’s not fair. You were not that gentle with me.” Donghyuck grumbles, pouting at the couple.

 

Ten chortles, hugging Johnny’s head to his stomach with his hands and pokes his tongue out.

 

“He’s not acting like a brat and causing me heartache in this weather. One guess as to who is.”

 

Donghyuck huffs and walks out, holding the flashlight of Johnny’s phone in his right hand to navigate out of the room.

 

“He was sitting on the footpath and playing with a kitten inside a pipe. It was the cutest thing.”

 

Ten sighs before smiling. Of course. This kid.

 

Johnny smiles at him and gets up, putting his hands on his waist, pressing a kiss to his lips. Ten’s toes curl at the simple press of skin on skin. It’s almost like the first time Johnny kissed him at a truth or dare game five years ago.

 

It’s not any less magical but there’s so much more meaning behind it and he’s just so happy with life right now.

 

Johnny lights the scented candles his mom sent for his birthday and they eat dinner together, conversation flowing without any awkwardness, unlike in the beginning when Donghyuck used to scream bloody murder and hide out in his room, sneaking out in the middle of the night to grab a snack only to end up eating the food Ten kept in the casserole. Ten likes it best when Johnny and Donghyuck are relaxed(Well duh!), the younger helping him cook and his boyfriend watching them by sneaking glances, pretending to scroll down Facebook for God knows how much time they take to prepare the food.

 

A little later, when Mark calls on Ten’s phone, fretting about Donghyuck not picking up his, Ten teases him but lets him talk anyway, the rain still pitter-pattering on the roof.

 

“Do you think he realizes he’s in love?”

 

Johnny asks, lying on Ten’s lap in the candlelit living room, face a beautiful mess of yellowish-black shadows and prominent edges.

 

“Mark knows for sure. Donghyuck hasn’t hinted that he knows but you know your brother. He’s the smartest.”

 

Johnny makes a disgruntled sound, making Ten giggle.

 

“I was just kidding, you jealous giant!”

 

Johnny tickles him with his hands, his head hovering over Ten’s thighs at an angle before he straightens up completely, attacking full on. Ten screeches and giggles for a good few minutes before Johnny finally stops, staring at him with a twinkle in his eye.

 

“What?” Ten asks, squirming in his seat, one hand entwined with Johnny’s.

 

Johnny shakes his head, making Ten pinch him on his bicep and insist.

 

“Ow!” He cries out.

 

“Spill.”

 

“You’re gonna make fun of me like you always do,” Johnny says, but the smile on his face stays.

 

“Try me.” Ten says, crawling into his lap and putting his arms around the other’s neck.

 

“You’re so beautiful.” Johnny’s expression isn’t clear to Ten because his body blocks the light from the candle but he touches his face and leans in, lips on the shell of his ear.

 

“I know,” He whispers out.

 

“RUINED IT!” Donghyuck yells, cackling as he shines the light from the phone on them. He gags when Ten leans in and gives Johnny a long, deep kiss.

 

“MY EYES! I NEED HOLY WATER!” Donghyuck sputters and pretends to search for something by groping around in the dark, ever the mood maker.

 

Ten gets up from his seat and puckers his lips, beckoning him with a finger, “Come here, you little devil.”

 

Donghyuck pretends to back away in fear, making a cross with his finger, Johnny’s boisterous laugh blending with the sound of the rain, thunder making a return again, “Get away from me, Satan!”

 

Ten tickles him before pushing him on the couch, the younger boy landing half on his brother who groans loudly.

 

“I NEED ADULT SUPERVISION!”

 

Donghyuck demands loudly.

 

“That’s what we’re here for.” Ten says, smiling sickeningly sweet, his sharp canines showing.

 

“That’s the problem.” He grumbles, Johnny tackling and proceeding to tickle him, turning him into a wriggling mess.

 

“TRUCE!” He admits defeat finally, falling back against the couch. They lean on the backrest, chest rising and falling rapidly and uncoordinated.

 

“We should go sleep. It doesn’t look like the power is gonna come back anytime soon.”

 

Johnny suggests, ruffling Donghyuck’s hair.

 

“Yeah,” Ten hums, getting up and dragging a clingy Donghyuck to his room.

 

“You’re a grown boy. You can go to your room alone, Hyuck.” Ten says, when his limbs ache from almost carrying his boyfriend’s brother, said boyfriend throwing him a thumbs up from where he is lounging on the couch.

 

“That wasn’t what you said when we talked on the phone.”

 

Ten groans, glaring at Johnny for cackling and leaving him alone in this battle of wits.

 

“If you used half of this brain for your exams, you would get into Oxford.”  Donghyuck shrugs and finally takes his hand off, walking to his room, giving them a half-hearted wave, coughing a little as he closes the door.

 

Ten stares at the door in disappointment but then Donghyuck pokes his head out, “Good night, Ten hyung! Good night, Johnny hyung!” and slams the door shut.

 

“He’s so cute.” Johnny and Ten say in unison.

 

Johnny pokes on his phone, head resting on Ten’s lap and taps the other when his eyelids start to droop shut.

 

“Let’s go to bed.” Johnny loops his fingers with Ten’s and they walk to the room slowly, making sure not to stub their toes on any furniture on the way.

 

“I love you,” Ten whispers against Johnny’s lips, lying down on the bed facing each other. Johnny chases his lips and sighs in content, getting up and leaning down to delve deeper into Ten’s mouth, tongue licking at his plush lips for entrance. Ten moans loudly and arches up when Johnny bites his lip, his warm hand caressing the side of his face.

 

Johnny moves away immediately.

 

“I’m tired,” he says, face apologetic.

 

Ten looks at him with wide eyes before it dawns on him. He gets up and presses a soft kiss to his lips.

 

“You think I don’t know when you are tired after five years. You hurt me, Johnny.” Ten pouts, fluttering his eyelashes, even though he’s certain that the other won’t see.

 

“I just... you moaned...” Johnny stutters.

 

“I’m a sensitive bitch, you know that, don’t you?” Ten asks, running a finger down Johnny’s thin t-shirt.

 

Johnny nods, sighing and lying back on the mattress as Ten pushes him down with his palm pressed on his chest, resting his head on it.

 

“Goodnight, babe.” Ten whispers, fisting his hand on Johnny’s t-shirt as he feels Johnny’s arm pull him closer. The rain has lowered the temperature and his boyfriend is a literal bonfire, all warm and comforting.

 

“Goodnight, Ten.” Johnny presses a kiss to his hair, turning the light off and placing the phone on the bed-side table.

 

Ten wakes to the sound of coughing coming from the other room. Johnny’s arms around him are pretty much like a python squeezing his prey and Ten wriggles and twists his way out of the hold, Johnny making a sad noise in response, eyebrows furrowing cutely, eyes still closed. Ten pushes the other’s hair back and smiles before he hears Donghyuck cough again.

 

He gropes the table for the phone and shivers a little at the cold. Switching the light on, he trots to the other room, worried frown finding home on his face.

 

“Hyuck?” He calls out, seeing Donghyuck curled into a ball, even his head covered by the thick duvet.

 

“Sweetheart?” Ten calls out again, folding one knee under his other leg as he sits on the side of the bed. The boy coughs again and groans.

 

Ten slowly pulls the duvet off, finding a little resistance in the beginning before Donghyuck loosens his hold. His eyes are wet with tears and his teeth chatter whenever he opens his mouth and Ten’s entire being hurts for a whole minute.

 

“It’s—so—so cold, hyung.” He stutters out, voice scratchy from coughing, making Ten coo at him, the elder’s hand checking his temperature.

 

“Oh, you poor thing, you’re burning up. Must have been the rain.”

 

Ten wipes at the younger’s tears and slips out of the room quickly to grab some water and fever pills.

 

“Come on, eat this, you’ll feel better.”

 

Donghyuck doesn’t protest, getting up with a swollen face and swallowing down the pills like an obedient child. He even downs the cough syrup without complaints.

 

“It looks like your hyung woke up,” Ten says, hearing a crash from the other room.

 

Donghyuck whines, clinging to Ten for warmth by placing his head on his lap and hiding his face in the other’s stomach.

 

“What happened? Is everything okay?”

 

Johnny’s voice is groggy from exhaustion and sleep, hair a messed up tuft on top of his head, when he walks into the room. Ten shakes his head.

 

“He has a fever. I just gave him some medicine. We’ll let him sleep for now and if the fever doesn’t break by tomorrow, we’ll take him to the doctor.”

 

Johnny nods, tension easing off his shoulders. He seats himself on the other side of the bed and stares at Donghyuck for a good moment.

 

“Hyuck-ah?”

 

As soon as the name slips out of his mouth, Donghyuck gets up from Ten’s lap, movements slowed down by the fever and buries himself in Johnny’s chest.

 

“Wow! Now I know where your loyalties lie. Blood is indeed thicker than water,” Ten says, clutching his chest histrionically.

 

Donghyuck grumbles something against his brother’s chest.

 

Johnny leans down to hear what the other says.

 

“He says he loves both of us equally.”

 

Ten’s heart successfully expands in size. If he was Pluto before, he is now the Andromeda galaxy. Note this shit down, people, this is historic.

 

Johnny rocks back and forth with his sick brother tucked close to his chest. Ten lies down on the bed, staring at his favourite people, feeling his heart warm at the sight.

 

When the younger boy falls asleep after a few minutes, Johnny leans forward and gently lays him down. Ten giggles a little, finding his tall and broad boyfriend being soft for his brother amusing just like he always does.

 

They get up together, ready to go back to sleep but Donghyuck groans again, making the couple turn to him immediately.

 

“It’s so—co—cold, hyung.”

 

Ten throws a look at Johnny who tilts his head a bit and smiles, face full of concern and fondness. Ten lies down on the bed and gets under the cover, letting out a small bark of laughter at the younger’s content sigh.

 

“I’ll get our blankets.” Johnny shuffles out of the room, hand holding the phone to navigate himself, returning with a fluffy mass of blankets.

 

Donghyuck hides his face in Johnny’s chest like before, his backside pressing against Ten’s front. It would be quite sweaty if not for the weather but it’s not like this is the first time they have cuddled like this. Ten readjusts his arm around Donghyuck and squirms when Johnny rubs circles into the tender skin of his hip with his warm hand. He stops as he starts slipping back to dreamland.

 

Ten is starting to drift away too when Donghyuck whispers something.

 

“I’m sorry, Ten hyung.”

 

Ten smiles against the other’s t-shirt.

 

“What for?”

 

“For playing with the kitten,” he coughs softly, “in the rain.”

 

“It’s okay, kiddo. Go to sleep, okay? Don’t worry me like this again though,” Ten says, sleep blurring the corners of his vision.

 

Donghyuck shakes his head.

 

“I promise.”

 

Ten opens his eyes, feeling wide awake all of a sudden, the rain still pouring hard outside. He lifts his head and looks at Johnny.

 

The light from the candle casts a soft glow over the room and his boyfriend is smiling at the ceiling.