Actions

Work Header

All That Rises Must Converge

Chapter Text

It all starts with an off-handed comment from Jackson, like most terrible things in Jaebum’s life.

 

(He should’ve stopped being friends with Jackson since one of his 'kind comments' got them both detention for two weeks, but that’s another story.)

 

They’re hanging out in Mark’s apartment, obnoxiously large for a uni student thanks to Mark’s rich parents, and somewhere between Bambam losing in Mario Kart and Youngjae falling asleep on Yugyeom, Jackson drawls,”Jaebum-hyung, when are you bringing a girl over?”

 

“What.” Jaebum deadpans, eyes fixed on the television screen where he’s focusing on annihilating Yugyeom in Mario Kart. Yugyeom seems distracted by his boyfriend sleeping on him, mouth wide open and drooling, and Jaebum gains speed, cruising past giant doughnut rings and dripping candy canes.

 

Jaebum whoops as he passes the finish line in first place, and Yugyeom groans, rolling on the floor with Youngjae’s head still on his chest.

 

“Good job, hyung.” Jinyoung grins at him, and Jaebum hands him the controller, “If you lose to Mark you’re on dishwashing duty for the next two weeks.”

 

“You’re on,” Jinyoung laughs as he takes Jaebum’s place on the floor, and Jaebum doesn’t bother to tone down the wide grin on his face. He likes seeing Jinyoung fired up like this, eyes on the screen, pressing buttons determinedly, and Jaebum’s heart burns with fierce pride for his best friend.

 

Jaebum’s so focused on the match unfolding in front of him he doesn’t even hear what Jackson says.

 

“Sorry, what?” Jaebum leans closer to Jackson, he can barely hear himself over Bambam’s hollering. Honestly- he’s not even playing, yet he’s making so much noise. It’s a miracle how Youngjae is still asleep, snoring loudly on Yugyeom’s chest.

 

“I said,” Jackson takes a sip of his beer, “When are you bringing home a girlfriend?”

 

“You sound like my mum,” Jaebum replies dryly, turning his attention back to Jinyoung, who’s making racing car noises while Bambam eggs him on. Jinyoung’s in the lead, with 2 laps left, and Mark’s swearing a mile a minute, smashing buttons frantically.

 

“Aren’t you lonely? You look lonely sometimes.” Jackson burps, and Jaebum just gives him a weird look, ”Of course I’m not.”

 

Bambam screeches on the sidelines as Jinyoung wins the round by a hair, and Mark collapses, wailing like a banshee. Jinyoung sits down on the couch with Jaebum, smiling gently like he always does, “No kitchen duty.”

 

“Right,” Jaebum snorts. He was a fool to make a bet with Jinyoung in the first place. “I’ll do the dishes.”

 

Jinyoung hums, and the scene would be overwhelmingly domestic if they weren’t just roommates.

 

Jackson, of course, misses nothing.

 

“Do you like men, then?” He asks, and Jaebum feels himself tense up physically,”No.”

 

Jaebum feels Jinyoung stiffen, and he hurries to rephrase, “I mean, I’m not homophobic or anything, I respect gay people-”

 

“Thanks, hyung!” Yugyeom sniggers, and Jaebum throws an empty coke bottle at him.

 

“I just don’t like men that way,” Jaebum says, and Jackson nods, but he's looking at Jinyoung.

 

Jinyoung’s cold again, Jaebum can tell from the slight tremble of his lips and the telltale sign of his hands, clasping each other tightly. It’s easy, reading Jinyoung, and the other way round. They’re yin and yang, different yet so similar.

 

Jaebum reaches out for Jinyoung, and Jinyoung gets it, like he always does. Jackson makes a noise in the back of his throat, but Jaebum just prods his butt with his toes to tell him to move out of the way .

 

Jinyoung wraps his arms around Jaebum’s torso and puts his chin on Jaebum’s shoulder, and Jaebum accepts the affection without batting an eyelid. It’s normal for them to be physically close like this, they’ve been best friends since they could remember and they even joke about being the group’s parents: Jaebum’s the dad and Jinyoung’s the mum.

 

“Kinda gay,” Yugyeom notes, as Youngjae buries his head in his lap.

 

“Shut up,” Both Jinyoung and Jaebum say at the same time, and Bambam gives them a look.

 

“We get it, you’re soulmates.” Bambam peers at them above the lenses of his hipster glasses, and Jaebum fights the urge to throw something at him.

 

“You’re going to chase away all my future girlfriends,” Jaebum says, but none of the others laugh except for Jackson, who offers a snort.

 

Bambam shrugs, and Mark shoots Jinyoung another look Jaebum can’t exactly decipher. A flash of something akin to hurt appears on Jinyoung’s face, he thinks, but the look is gone before he can further dwell on the thought.

 

“Let’s go home, yeah?” Jaebum nudges Jinyoung, who nods. He’s not smiling, but Jabum knows his friend is just deep in thought. Or something.

 

-----

 

Jaebum lives with Jinyoung, in an apartment off campus but close enough to both the university they go to and the bookstore Jinyoung works part-time at. It’s kind of small, nothing compared to Mark’s lavish loft, but it’s home anyway.

 

Or so Jaebum thinks, as he picks up Jinyoung’s dirty socks on the coffee table for the third time in a week.

 

“Jinyoung,” Jaebum calls, setting down his duster as Jinyoung emerges from his bedroom drowsily, pajama shirt riding up as he yawns,”What is it, hyung?”

 

Jinyoung’s hair is a mess, strands sticking out in every direction, but he still looks good, lips pink and plush as he pouts,”I’m still tired, let me go back to bed.”

 

Jinyoung’s morning breath smells like a dead rat, and Jaebum tears his eyes away, cringing at the thought of Jinyoung being even remotely close to being pretty, because that’s his best friend, what the hell.

 

“Your socks,” Jaebum gestures at the offending sight, Jinyoung’s sailor moon socks lying on the floor in a disgruntled heap. Jinyoung blinks slowly, like he’s struggling to comprehend,”Oh?”

 

Jaebum can’t hold in a sigh,”Pick them up, Jinyoung-ah, and don’t talk to me until you’ve brushed your teeth, please.” Jinyoung blinks sluggishly still, and Jaebum would be fooled if he hadn’t known his friend for more than a decade.

 

“Stop it, I’m not picking them up for you.” Jaebum states plainly, and Jinyoung snaps out of it instantly, grumbling as he picks up the socks,”You’re no fun, hyung!”

 

“Yeah, well, you’re too lazy.”

 

“Remember when we were little, and you would actually do things I asked you to!” Jinyoung pouts again, but Jaebum remains steady in his resolve.

 

“That was at least twelve years ago, and I’m not your maid,” Jaebum explains patiently, like he’s talking to a four-year-old. But Jinyoung sticks his tongue out at him, finally shuffling towards their bathroom, so Jaebum counts that as a win anyway.

 

It takes at least an hour for Jinyoung to get ready- enough for Jaebum to dust every cleanable surface in the living room, make coffee for the two of them and read a chapter or two of The Crimson Labyrinth- but they eventually settle on the sofa, having coffee in companionable silence.

 

Jaebum gets a few pages further in his book, Jinyoung munches on a bagel, Nora -Jaebum’s cat, basically their housecat at this point- paddles out and settles down on Jinyoung’s feet, the little traitor. It takes another five minutes for them to speak, both absorbed in their own little worlds yet enjoying each other’s company.

 

“Hyung, have you seen my brown sweater?” Jinyoung asks, bending down to hoist Nora up to the sofa. Jaebum sets down his coffee,”I thought you just put it in the wash?”

 

“Ahhh, right,” Jinyoung winces, pulling Nora closer into his embrace despite her indignant meows. Jaebum can’t help but smile a little at Nora, squirming in Jinyoung’s arms,”What do you need it for? I’m sure Yugyeom will still laugh at you no matter what you wear.”

 

“As if he doesn’t laugh at you too,” Jinyoung nudges Jaebum’s foot with his own, and they both giggle at the mention of their beloved friend. “I’ll be a little late for dinner tonight, could you tell the guys?”

 

“Sure,” Jaebum answers right away, “We’ll have even more fun without you.”

 

“Oh, shut up,” Jinyoung shoves Jaebum lightly in the side as Nora pads on his chest lightly. His tone is exasperated and teasing, but Jaebum senses that Jinyoung’s worried about something.

 

“What is it?” Jaebum asks, softly now. Jinyoung shrugs, coaxing Nora to his arms again,”I’ve got a date tonight.”

 

“Oh.” Jaebum needs a moment to consider the idea.

 

While Jaebum has had his fair share of girlfriends and flings and even on-and-off hookups, Jinyoung had never expressed interest in anyone or even dating in general. In fact, forever alone Jinyoung has been a running joke in their friend group for quite a while now.

 

“I’m happy for you,” Jaebum pats Jinyoung on the shoulder encouragingly. “Enjoy yourself, don’t even bother coming to the dinner if you-”

 

“No,” Jinyoung releases Nora, who scurries away from Jinyoung’s evil clutches quickly. “I want to come, and it’s not that serious anyway. We’re just having tea, and just getting to know each other.”

 

The words getting to know each other put a sour taste in Jaebum’s mouth, but he quenches the unpleasant feeling, offering Jinyoung a reassuring smile instead,”Have fun, Jinyoungie.”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Jinyoung pretends to throw up at Jaebum’s affectionate tone, but grins back. “I’ll call you when I arrive.”

 

Jinyoung’s eyes are still uneasy, the corners of his lips tight like he’s hiding something, but Jaebum tells himself Jinyoung’s just worried about the date.

 

Everything will be fine.

 

-----

 

Jinyoung shows up at the restaurant only fifteen minutes late, right in the middle of a very loud debate over whether aliens were real between Yugyeom and Jackson.

 

“How would you explain all the UFO sightings, then?” Yugyeom squeaks with such force that the kimchi stew simmers a little more vigorously. “Hoaxes, all of them.” Jackson fires back without hesitation, and Mark rolls his eyes, not even bothering to look up from his phone,”Aren’t you guys being too loud?”

 

“Jinyoung says he can hear us all the way from the bus stop,” Youngjae worries, tapping at his phone.

 

“Yeah, shut up.” Jaebum comments, immersed in a conversation with Haejin, his ex slash hookup slash occasional cuddle buddy. They haven’t been doing much together lately, but Jaebum’s much more optimistic that they’ll get together soon, with a flirty text from Haejin.

 

The two pay no attention to Jaebum, and Jackson announces to the whole restaurant that aliens couldn’t possibly be real. Yugyeom leans across the table to snatch Jackson’s phone out of his hands, with Youngjae pulling at his boyfriend to no avail. Bambam, forever the troublemaker, eggs them on by joining Jackson’s side. Mark gives up, putting on his headphones and turning away from the scene.

 

Jaebum’s phone pings, and he exits his chat with Haejin to read a text from Jinyoung: was going to ask where you guys were but Jackson is too loud, omw

 

“Jinyoung says you’re too loud and he’s on his way,” Jaebum says lazily in the midst of their chaos, swiping back to his conversation with Haejin. She seems interested in meeting up, so Jaebum quickly lists out a few days he’s free, clicking the send button just as Jinyoung walks over.

 

“Hey,” Jinyoung greets as he slides into his designated seat next to Jaebum. He looks dashing in a simple sweater and a long pecan coat, and the kids pause their epic alien debate briefly to greet him.

 

“Jinyoungie, come support my case on how aliens are fake,” Jackson whines, shuffling closer to Jinyoung. “No, aliens are real!” Yugyeom retaliates, but softens once Jinyoung ruffles his hair.

 

“You’re too loud,” Jinyoung complains without any bite in his tone, and Bambam is quick to respond,”Jaebum hyung didn’t tell us off anyway, you’re no fun, hyung!”

 

“You’re a negligent parent,” Jinyoung tells Jaebum seriously, and Jaebum can’t help but laugh at how his friend takes his role as the mum friend so seriously. “Sorry,” Jaebum grins unapologetically, bringing over Jinyoung’s favourite beef bulgogi. “How was your date?”

 

“Well-” Jinyoung doesn’t even have time to complete his answer when their friends freak out. “You were on a date?” Youngjae nearly shouts before catching himself. Mark claps,”Our Jinyoungie’s all grown up, going on dates.”

 

“Who was it? Where did you go? Did you pay for the date?” Bambam fires off a series of questions rapidly, holding his hand in front of his face like he’s a news reporter.

 

“Hold on, hold on,” Jinyoung laughs, and Jaebum doesn’t miss the way his ears flush pink, the way they do when Jinyoung’s in a good mood. The date must’ve gone well.

 

“Tell us all about it, hyung!” Yugyeom pleads, puppy eyes on full blast as he nuzzles closer to Jinyoung like a large, clingy dog.

 

“Okay,” Jinyoung takes a few bites of bulgogi and rice, and they all eye him impatiently as he chews. “We went to this little cafe in Hongdae and it was really nice.”

 

“Details, Jinyoung!” Jackson presses on, prying for more information as Jinyoung takes a sip of his sikhye. Jinyoung’s ears are completely red now, and it takes Jaebum a few attempts to look away and focus back on his steaming serving of ramen.

 

“Well, it was just really nice. He was really nice, actually.” Jinyoung says, and Bambam snorts,”Who’s he? The waiter?”

 

“No,” Jinyoung looks down, suddenly awkward for some reason. “My date.”

 

There’s an uncomfortable pause at the table as they all try to take in the fact that Jinyoung’s date was a man. Jaebum never would’ve guessed that Jinyoung was into men even though he had nothing against homosexuality, since Jinyoung hadn’t said anything about it before.

 

Jackson is the first one to break the silence. “That’s great to hear, man!” He reaches out for a high-five, which Jinyoung halfheartedly returns. “Do we know the lucky guy?”

 

Jinyoung blinks,”Aren’t you guys bothered that I’m seeing a man?”

 

“Why would we be?” Mark laughs. “Not when at least 2/7 of us is gay, right, Jaebum?” Jaebum, not expecting to be spoken to, nearly chokes on ham,”Yeah.”

 

“Bring your boyfriend over soon, so we can kick Jaebum-hyung out of our squad and form a power couple alliance,” Yugyeom suggests, arm wrapped around Youngjae’s shoulders.  Jaebum flinches a little when his name is mentioned, and Youngjae is quick to divert the attention away, bless his soul. Youngjae grins widely at Jinyoung and squeezes his hand across the table,”Hyung, tell us more, he sounds lovely!”

 

“Well, Dongyoung’s from my translation theory class, he’s a literature student too, but we haven’t crossed paths much.” Jinyoung rambles about his date, cheeks flushed like some lovesick teenager, and the sight is so jarring that it makes Jaebum a little nauseous.

 

Jaebum looks down, focusing on his half-gone portion of stew, and tries not to throw up,

 

“Bring your boyfriend to meet us, Jinyoung,” Mark teases, and Jaebum chews a little faster.

 

Jinyoung probably wouldn’t appreciate you throwing up on him after a hot date, Jaebum begs himself, please hold it in. His inexplicable queasiness only gets worse as he eats, so he stops eating, uncharacteristically refusing a ladle of more stew from Youngjae.

 

“We’re not dating,” Jinyoung protests, blushing prettily as Jackson rolls his eyes,”Whatever you say, you lovesick idiot.”

 

“We’re just getting to know each other,” Jinyoung defends himself, but if the bright smile on his face is anything to go by, he must’ve really liked that Dogyeom guy. Jaebum pushes his bowl away- even the thought of eating makes him feel queasy.

 

“Do you have any pictures of him?” Bambam asks eagerly, and Jinyoung nods bashfully, long eyelashes fluttering as he clicks something and hands Bambam his phone. Bambam gasps once he catches a glimpse of whatever’s on Jinyoung’s phone,” He’s so cute, I can’t believe you?”

 

“Let me see!” Jackson leans over, grabbing at Jinyoung’s phone, desperate to get a proper look at Jinyoung’s cute date. The topic at hand doesn’t have anything to do with Jaebum, yet he finds himself cranning close to the phone, wanting to see the Dandruff guy as well.

 

“He’s handsome.” Youngjae concludes after taking a look, and Yugyeom whines, “What about me?”

 

“You’re the most handsome, of course,” Youngjae placates his boyfriend quickly with a kiss to his jaw. “But Dongyong’s still good-looking.”

 

Mark angles the phone slightly towards Jaebum’s direction, and he finally catches a good look of Dongyoung- he’s dashing enough, with handsome, clean features that make him look almost pretty. But what really catches Jaebum’s eyes is Jinyoung in the selfie. Jinyoung’s eyes are half-closed, looking blissful with a wide smile.

 

“He’s cute, isn’t he?” Jackson asks, dangling the phone in front of Jaebum’s eyes. “Sure,” Jaebum replies, eyes once again straying to Jinyoung’s face in the picture instead of the other guy.

 

“We’re just seeing if this works out,” Jinyoung explains as he snatches his phone from its dangerous position in Jackson’s hands. “I think he still has someone else on his mind at the moment.”

 

“Wow, what a player,” Yugyeom grumbles through a mouthful of chocolate pudding, “I say dump him, there’s other fish in the ocean.”

 

“Do all fish look like that fine specimen though?” Bambam questions, gesturing at Jinyoung’s phone. “Not to be gay but I’d smash that.”

 

Jaebum’s stomach lurches,”Don’t be gross.”

 

“Just get to know him, he might end up falling for you,” Mark says, forever the voice of reason. Jinyoung nods, and his phone lights up just as he’s about to get back to his meal. “Is it him?” Bambam crows as Jinyoung peers at his phone, smiling shyly.

 

“What did he say?” Jackson booms as Jinyoung types out a reply, blushing furiously.

 

“Spill the details, Jinyoung,” Mark joins in the teasing, and Jinyoung’s face turns so red it could drip blood at any moment,”He wanted to see if I was up for another date.”

 

To their collective embarrassment, Jackson actually whistles out loud,”He’s so into you, you guys might as well be married at the end of the year!”

 

“That’s not true,” Jinyoung protests weakly, but he’s still grinning with some sort of infatuated spark in his eyes. Jaebum laughs along, ruffling Jinyoung’s hair affectionately,”I’m best man to the wedding, right?”

 

Jinyoung’s face goes blank for a second, but that must be an illusion of Jaebum’s dulled mind, because he’s flustered again, telling Jaebum that they’re all banned from his future wedding.

 

They joke around and tease Jinyoung for some more, until there’s no food left on the table and Bambam dramatically announces that if he eats another piece of meat, he’ll die on the spot. Jaebum pays for them since Mark hosted their (sort of) house party last time, but he’s still feeling energetic when they pile onto the sidewalk, relishing in the cool night breeze.

 

Youngjae and Yugyeom leave first to get ice cream, with an unwilling Bambam in tow. “What do you guys need me for?” He mumbles as Youngjae intertwines his fingers with Yugyeom’s. “To watch you two make out and be cute?”

 

“Oh, shut up,” Youngjae laughs, reaching for Bambam’s hand good-naturedly. “You’ll complain if we don’t bring you along anyway.” Yugyeom waves at the rest of them as they walk away, Bambam whining as Youngjae giggles.

 

“Finally,” Mark sighs once the younger boys (Men, whatever. They’ll always be scrawny freshmen kids to Jaebum) are out of earshot. “Can’t believe those idiots are functioning adults.”

 

“Not sure about the functioning part, too.” Jaebum comments, raising his eyebrows as Jackson stumbles out of the restaurant’s bathroom missing one shoe.

 

“Where’s your shoe?” Jinyoung asks right away, and Jackson looks down, seemingly discovering for the first that he was, in fact, shoeless. “Where’s my shoe?” Jackson echoes, looking around blankly until he makes a mad dash for the bathroom.

 

The three of them sigh in unison as Jackson nearly trips on air, one step away from the bathroom entrance. “I thought he only drank 2 bottles of beer?” Mark frowns, looking at Jackson as he makes it into the bathroom with some difficulty. “I’ll walk him home before I go back, I guess.”

 

A loud crash comes from the bathroom, followed by a string of cursing in at least three different languages, and Jinyoung perks up, alarmed, “I’ll go check on him.”

 

Jinyoung heads to the bathroom, and Jaebum nudges Mark lightly,”Better add Jackson to the list of idiots.” ”Can’t believe I forgot,” Mark laughs, showing a mouthful of canine teeth, “The biggest idiot of all.”

 

“Jinyoung’s going to get him, don’t worry.” Jaebum replies, and Mark gives him a look that Jaebum doesn’t quite understand,” What?”

 

“Nothing, nothing,” Mark ducks his head, looking shifty, and Jaebum gives him a questioning look,”What about it?” “It’s just weird how Jinyoung’s seeing that Dongyong guy now-” Mark murmurs, looking like he’s talking to himself instead.

 

“Is he a stalker? A fuckboy?” Jaebum bristles at the mention of Jinyoung’s date -Doyoung? Donkyon?- for some unknown reason, and Mark shrugs, looking away,”It’s just, I always thought, well-”

 

“Just spit it out,” Jaebum tells Mark, but then Jackson and Jinyoung emerge from the men’s room- Jackson half-leaning on a very disgruntled Jinyoung and holding a suspiciously soggy shoe.

 

“Found it!” Jackson trills, cutting off whatever Mark was about to say. Jinyoung heaves Jackson off him with some difficulty. “His shoe was in the loo,” He explains, weariness evident in his voice.

 

“Right,” Mark offers a shoulder to a staggering Jackson, who leans on the elder instantly, “I think it’s time we went home.” Jackson’s bleary eyes snap wide open at the mention of home,”What? No, we were just getting to the good part, where Jinyoungie-”

 

Jaebum leans in closer, not really understanding Jackson’s slurred speech, but Jinyoung clamps a hand over Jackson’s mouth neatly, “Go home, Jackson, it’s late.”

 

“Yeah,” Mark shifts Jackson to a more comfortable position and nods. “Get home safe, you guys.”

 

“Text us when you’re home,” Jaebum calls as Mark and Jackson (Or rather, Mark dragging Jackson along) walk away, only turning around when Mark signs okay with his spare hand.

 

Jaebum and Jinyoung head back then, walking along the Han river to get back home. “What was Jackson about to say?” Jaebum asks Jinyoung as they wait for the traffic light to change. “You looked pretty panicked when you were stopping him.”

 

“I dunno,“ Jinyoung smiles, familiar eye folds crinkling but in a mysterious way, like he knows something Jaebum doesn’t know,”Maybe we’re planning your birthday party.”

 

“My birthday was two months ago,” Jaebum replies, giving Jinyoung an odd look as they cross the road. Jinyoung shrugs, ”Never hurts to be prepared, right?”

 

Jaebum gives Jinyoung an incredulous look before punching him lightly on the arm,”You’re not funny, tell me what’s going on?” Jinyoung only laughs at him, the brat, and he opens his mouth, probably about to say something just as cheeky when his phone pings.

 

“Hold on,” Jinyoung scrambles for his phone, blushing pink even under the dim streetlight once he sees the text. “Is it him?” Jaebum asks, frowning a little when Jinyoung nods.

 

It just irks Jaebum, how Jinyoung’s so taken with Donyeon when they’ve only gone on one date. Or maybe it’s the fact that Jinyoung hasn’t told him about his date before that rubs him the wrong way.

 

Either way, Jaebum decides, as Jinyoung texts back with a giddy smile, he doesn’t like Dimyang.

 

“Sorry,” Jinyoung tucks his phone back into his bag, glancing at Jaebum,”What were we talking about again?”

 

“Nothing,” Jaebum doesn’t want to further investigate anymore. “How was your date?” He asks instead, by way of conversation rather than out of personal interest. It’s not like Jaebum doesn’t care about his best friend’s love life, but he just feels a strange dislike towards this Dawon guy.

 

“We just talked, but it was interesting,” Jinyoung smiles as they walk along the river. “Dongyong’s a sweet guy, I had a pretty great time.” Who’s Dongyong, Jaebum nearly asks, but catches himself once he realises that Dongyong is Donyeon/Dawon.

“Oh,” He says instead, not knowing how exactly to respond. But Jinyoung looks at him expectantly, as if he’s waiting for an answer, and Jaebum’s never been one to let Jinyoung down.

 

“He sounds decent,” Jaebum settles for an answer eventually. “You really should bring him over for dinner, seriously- it’ll be a good chance for the rest of us to get to know him more.” “Should I really?” Jinyoung’s eyes light up, and Jaebum tries his best to ignore the bitter taste in his mouth,”Yeah, he’s your first love, after all.”

 

“Don’t put it like that.” Jinyoung says sharply, without warning. “I mean, we’re really just getting to know each other.” Jaebum doesn’t understand why Jinyoung reacts rather strongly to his choice of words- they’ve been teasing and jabbing at each other playfully since they could speak, but he gets the feeling that there’s something that he’s not supposed to question.

 

“Okay,” Jaebum says. They’re almost back home. “Sorry.”

 

“Don’t be,” Jinyoung takes a deep breath and smiles like nothing’s just happened. “It’s fine, I’m just a little tired.”

 

“Okay,” Jaebum says.

 

“Okay,” Jinyoung replies.

 

They walk for a while, down the lane to where their apartment is tucked neatly between a supermarket (very convenient) and a bakery (convenient except when it’s five in the morning and their cookies smell heavenly). None of them speak, but it’s not unfamiliar or uncomfortable, like it would be with any stranger.

 

That’s why they’ve been best friends for years, the way they make each other happy simply by being there, words not spoken but passed between the two of them with a simple glance. A friend, a brother, a teacher, home- that’s what Jinyoung is to Jaebum.

 

Jinyoung finally speaks as they draw closer to their apartment,”Hyung, would you mind if I brought Dongyoung over next week?” Jaebum nearly trips, shocked that Jinyoung’s already going so far in their relationship.

 

Jaebum shouldn’t be one to judge, honestly: he’s brought a number of girlfriends over, sometimes on dates, sometimes doing some… other things (occasionally and unfortunately exiling Jinyoung to Mark’s apartment, but Jinyoung doesn’t mind- or, Jaebum thinks he doesn’t), but it’s just weirdly shocking to Jaebum that Jinyoung, token single man, would be doing something so uncharacteristic and daring just after one date.

 

“Calm down,” Jinyoung sputters at Jaebum’s reaction. “We’re not going to do anything, we’re just going to talk about some coursework- he went to Japan for two weeks recently, so I wanted to help him catch up.”

 

“Why don’t you guys do it at the library?” Jaebum straightens himself with some difficulty. “Or like, Starbucks?”

 

“Dongyoung doesn’t really like coffee,” Jinyoung says, and Jaebum rolls his eyes. Doughnut was clearly not the one for Jinyoung, Mr, I-can’t-live-a-day-without-coffee, Jaebum thinks to himself.

 

“Plus, it’s almost exam season for the science majors, so the library is packed 24/7.” Jinyoung continues. “We could go to his place instead, if you don’t want him to come over.”

 

Jaebum takes a moment to consider Jinyoung’s proposal. Although he didn’t want Jinyoung to have a date at their shared apartment, for whatever selfish reason, he wasn’t keen on Jinyoung going to the guy’s apartment too. Donghyuck already didn’t like coffee, he probably had other psychopath tendencies that Jinyoung was too blindsided to notice.

 

“Fine,” Jaebum grumps. “He can come over, I’ll just be in my room.”

 

“Thanks, hyung,” Jinyoung grins at him victoriously. “I’ll be sure to introduce you both.”

 

They reach the apartment, and Jaebum hikes up the stairs in record speed, not wanting to further discuss the matter.

 

-----

 

Next week, as it turns out, comes by a lot faster if you try everything to not think about it, Jaebum thinks as he gets ready for bed right after Jinyoung drops a bomb on him.

 

“Hyung?” Jinyoung asks outside the bathroom as Jaebum shaves his jaw carefully. “Just wanted to remind you that Dongyoung’s coming over tomorrow morning!”

 

Jaebum nearly drops his razor, nicking himself on the chin. What kind of weirdo was Dongyoung? Studying in the morning?

 

“Hyung?” Jinyoung knocks. “Are you okay? Did you hear me?”

 

“Yeah, yeah.” Jaebum touches the cut tenderly, wincing a little. Tomorrow was going to be tough.

 

Jaebum spends too much time trying to fall asleep, thinking of Jinyoung and study dates and weird boys. At 3 am, he digs out his phone and decides to do a little… background research.

 

Dongyong , he types into his facebook search bar. Nothing comes up, but he finds someone called Kim Doyoung, with two mutual friends: Park Jinyoung and Kim Yugyeom.

 

(Jaebum makes a note to grill Yugyeom about this. Or kill Yugyeom. Or both.)

 

Kim Doyoung’s profile is nothing special, just pictures of him and friends traveling and having fun. His profile picture is of him reading a book next to a pool, simple but stylish.

 

Fuck, Jaebum squints. He seems exactly like what Jinyoung would go for.

 

He tosses his phone to the side and muffles his head in the pillow.

 

And that’s why when Jaebum wakes up, it’s already 11 o’clock, leaving him no time to wash up and eat breakfast before Doyoung comes over. He stays in bed for a moment, contemplating whether he should just stay in bed until the afternoon and avoid Kim Dongin. But then his stomach grumbles, and Jaebum decides, as a strong, independent man, he shouldn’t let Jinyoung’s date get in the way of him living out his life to the fullest.

 

(Or rather, surviving on minimum daily necessities, but that’s not the point.)

 

He gets up slowly- as if dragging out his body movement could cause Danyong to leave asap, but when he finally gets into the bathroom, he hears laughter from the living room- Jinyoung’s, and that of another guy.

 

Jaebum washes up as quickly as he can, not wanting to be trapped in the small space, but once he opens the bathroom door, he comes face to face with his worst nightmare.

 

Dark hair, big eyes, like a cute bunny. Dressed in slacks and a shirt, exactly what Jinyoung always nags him to wear instead of his usual band tee and ripped jeans.

 

To Jaebum’s horror, Kim Doyeon smiles, tidy teeth flashing neatly as he introduces himself,”Hi, I’m Dongyoung, Jinyoung’s friend. You must be the roommate?”

 

“Uhh,” Jaebum stares at Dongyeon’s extended hand. “Jaebum, I’d shake your hand but I just took a huge-”

 

“I see you’ve already met,” Jinyoung appears out of nowhere, the smile on his face angelic to everyone but Jaebum, who’s been around enough to know that he’s definitely up to no good.”Dongyoung, this is Jaebum. Jaebum, Dongyoung.”

 

Dayoung nods at Jaebum, peering curiously, and Jaebum offers a quick ‘hi’ before exiting the bathroom. Jinyoung’s date makes to walk into the bathroom, but Jaebum stops him- it’s well-intentioned, of course.

 

“It still, kind of, smells bad in there, so maybe-” Dayeon catches on quickly, bless him, and he walks back to the living room without another word.

 

Jinyoung just laughs at him.

 

Jaebum does try to welcome Doyoon, he puts on his headphones and tries to have breakfast at the dining table, but there he gets a full view of the study date. They both look happy, with Jinyoung flashing Donhyuck smiles here and there, and Daniel leaning into Jinyoung to see what’s on his laptop screen.

 

Jaebum doesn’t know why he feels so unsettled by this harmless, bunny-looking guy, but the coffee tastes like bile in his mouth, even more so as Dawon reaches out to clasp Jinyoung’s hand in his own.

 

Jaebum gets up and leaves.