It’s not fair that Youngjae looks cute in a hazmat suit. Really, who allowed this? That’s supposed to be impossible. Jinyoung smirked across the lab, as if able to read his thoughts. Fucker probably could, honestly. That would certainly explain how it was so easy for his delightful best friend to push every single one of his buttons.
“Jealous?” He mouthed, and then proceeded to linger behind Youngjae, intently studying the sample the younger had in his hands. Jinyoung rested his chin on Youngjae’s shoulder, his slight height advantage making him lean over and more into the younger man’s back. Youngjae only laughed, shifting so his partner could see him better.
“What do you think hyung?” The conversation devolved into yeast talk that Jaebum quickly tuned out, as there was nothing more distracting than his crush’s voice when he had bacteria to take care of. Speaking of which… Jaebum looked behind him, finding Jackson and Bambam suspiciously silent. They sported matching shit eating grins, and Jaebum mentally prepared himself for the bullshit that was about to occur.
“Hyung, are we collaborating with Jinyoung-hyung and Youngjae-hyung’s lab?” Jaebum cocked his brow at Jackson’s remark. Both him and Bam were smart boys, and despite the fact they acted like idiots he knew they were far from the fact. And from their constant griping with Yugyeom over lunch over how mean (or angelic, in Youngjae’s case. There was a very different hyung-dongsaeng relationship between Jinyoung and Yugyeom as opposed to Youngjae and Yugyeom.) their respective graduate student hyungs were that their laboratories were working on very different, unrelated projects. Jaebum’s face must have shown some of his confusion.
“It’s just that you seem so interested in what’s happening over there, we figured you might be.” Bambam’s cheeky grin was going to be the death of him. And by that, he meant he was going to poison the undergrad and make Jinyoung deal with the body.
“Yah, if you keep this up I’m gonna make you guys come in on Friday nights.” He was stopped by a hand on his shoulder.
“No he won’t, that’s his special time that only him and Youngjae are working. Speaking of, you should probably finish up so you can conveniently eat lunch at the same time like you always do.” Jaebum glared at his best friend. God, he was glad Jinyoung had preferred yeast over bacteria and split their partnership they’d had going during undergrad. It was good to have him near, yes, because for all the savagery Jinyoung still took care of him, and it was incredibly lucky that they happened to share a laboratory room. But. The butting heads with childishly ‘ooh’ing undergraduates (he could have sworn he heard Yugyeom yell ‘sick burn hyung!’, but it honestly could have come from any of the undergraduates at this point) would have probably made their partnership a much less productive one. Much less about a silly crush that Jaebum wasn’t even going to act on because there was no possible way Youngjae reciprocated his feelings. “Not that either of you two are off the hook however. Finish up what he was doing so he can go on his little date.” Jaebum wanted to protest something about, Jinyoung, you aren’t allowed to give orders in my lab, but the resounding groans from behind him were more than satisfying enough to make up for it. Ah, that was why they were best friends. Jaebum knew there was a reason.
“Relax, it’s not that much. Just do the streakouts I’m going to need for tomorrow and you can go home.” They were only supposed to stay until one anyway, and it’s not like he needed them for the extra hour. Or at least that’s how he tried to rationalize it to himself. Jaebum was satisfied to see Jackson and Bambam quickly divide up the work. He knew there was a reason he let those two work under him, and for all the little annoyances their personalities brought, they were hard workers at the core of it. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” The thought of Youngjae waiting for him sped up his steps to the break room before realizing he probably shouldn’t look so desperate. But it was worth it to see Youngjae’s face light up and hear his cheerful greeting.
“Hello hyung!” Jaebum felt his shoulders unbunch from their stress as he slid into the seat across from Youngjae.
“Sorry I’m late. You know how Jackson and Bam can be.” The younger man let out a sympathetic hum, but it was no secret Youngjae found their antics to be funny. He’d been delighted to be welcomed so fondly into the lab as Jinyoung’s new partner, because as a new graduate student he’d faced some problems. He’d moved through the ranks quickly with his work ethic and good ideas, enough to earn a spot leading his own project, but for some reason people looked down on him for his cheerfulness and youthful nature. Jinyoung had happily agreed to share the project with him, using his third year status to successfully petition the idea. If anyone, Youngjae was the hyung the undergraduates respected the most, and both his hyungs and dongsaengs doted on him. “Did you stay up late playing video games again last night?” He’d asked, noticing Youngjae’s slump in his posture.
“No!” Youngjae looked off to the side. “Okay, maybe a little. But with Mark being in LA and all we can’t really play unless I stay up.” Jaebum didn’t realize understand what the appeal was with Overwatch. He’d asked Youngjae to teach him once if just to see the younger boy’s eyes light up like he always did when he talked about something he enjoyed. Plus he was genuinely interested in learning about the younger boy’s interests. Jackson had walked in on them without the older two noticing, and proceeded to take a thousand pictures of the scene of Youngjae’s hands on his as he went over the finer points of the functions of functionality of a gaming mouse. And if that wasn’t enough, Jackson proceeded to make it his lock screen and so kindly share the pictures with Bambam, Yugyeom, and Jinyoung. Really, his life wasn’t fair.
“You know you need to take care of yourself now that you’re getting all these extra projects.” Jaebum clucked at him like a mother hen and Youngjae had to hide his smile. For someone with such harsh reprimands of his lab workers and more leather clothing than Jackson’s entire party wardrobe, he really was such a softie.
“Yes, yes eomma.” Youngjae’s smile went wicked, and Jaebum’s protests caught in his throat. The younger was probably spending too much time with Jinyoung if he was making a face like that. “Or would you prefer daddy?” Jaebum choked. Yes, this was how he was going to die. Youngjae was going to have a fun time explaining that one to the others. “Ah, Jinyoung-hyung is so weird. He told me to call you that the next time you worried too much about me.”
“Did he?” Youngjae giggled and Jaebum lost his breath for a different reason this time, and no, he wasn’t whipped, thank you very much. Really, this wouldn’t do. Without any oxygen circulating to his brain, he couldn’t plan his best friend’s death. “I’m more concerned with the fact a smart boy like you is accepting advice from Jinyoung.”
“Aw hyung, don’t be mean!” Youngjae wiggled a little in his seat, clearly overplaying his distress. Jaebum laughed at his pouting lip and returned to his noodles.
“Yeah, come on hyung~” Bambam’s lilting voice and forced aegyo was cacophony compared to Youngjae’s sweet voice.
“Yah, I thought I told you two to go home.” Jaebum’s words were harsh but there was a smile in his voice. Judging by the amused looks of everyone in the room, he hadn’t done a particularly good job masking it.
“Jinyoung-hyung needed me to get something from his bag.” So Jinyoung had sent Bambam in to spy, essentially. Not that Bambam had probably needed that much convincing. Jaebum realized he’d been leaning into the table, closer to Youngjae, and abruptly straightened himself.
“I’ve probably been hanging out in the lunch room for too long. I’ll see you two later!” Youngjae walked off with a wave, and Bambam had the appropriate shame to look sheepish.
Youngjae… sings to his yeast. It’s an absent minded thing, a silly little song, and he probably doesn’t even realize he’s doing it and yet it’s still music to Jaebum’s ears. They’re alone in the lab on a Friday night, and Jaebum is loathe to admit that he’s thankful to Jinyoung for convincing him to send Bam and Jackson home early. Not that he would’ve kept them this late, no, but the sheer force of sunshine behind Youngjae’s greeting being directed only at him just a few hours ago had made his heart melt a bit. And he’d sooner hurl himself off a cliff than let his pesky undergrads, let alone Jinyoung, see his cold exterior melt so easily at such a simple gesture.
The sound of glass shattering ripped Jaebum out of his trance.
“Are you okay Youngjae?” Jaebum’s eyes flicked over to the other station, widening at what he saw. Holy shit. He’d seen Youngjae in a hazmat suit (and absentmindedly heard Jinyoung ramble when writing grant applications) enough to know anything on that side of the lab was not safe for skin contact. And certainly not when an entire container’s contents were splattered over the front of his shirt, covering his arms and glass shattering in his hands.
“Jaebum-hyung, I’m-” Youngjae’s eyes were wide, but the beginnings of his protests were silenced by Jaebum quickly crossing the room, grabbing the younger, and pulling him in the direction of the safety shower. Shock was written all over the younger’s face, and waiting long enough for him to direct himself would easily be enough time to inhale a dangerous level of the fumes.
“You’re going to be fine Youngjae-yah. I’m going to turn the water on, okay?” He didn’t wait for confirmation before pulling Youngjae’s shirt off and starting the shower. The cold water seemed to shock the younger man out of his stillness, and he began to rinse off the chemical residue on his skin. Satisfied by the younger’s actions, Jaebum retrieved the medical kit and swept up the spill, carefully depositing the shards in the trash bin. Now that the danger was safely dealt with, Jaebum’s hands were itching with the desire to keep his hands busy to keep the thoughts of a shirtless, wet Youngjae at bay. Shirtless Youngjae looking up at him with that needy expression… he felt sick for wishing to see that expression in another context, far away from the lab. Especially during this time where Youngjae could have been seriously hurt, it wouldn’t be right to be thinking of anything except the younger’s health.
“I can wrap my cuts up hyung.” Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t even realize the younger man had approached him.
“Not a chance.” Youngjae’s heart stuttered for what must have been the thousandth time this evening when Jaebum took his hands in his own. God, his hands were so big, and Youngjae couldn’t contain his shiver. Jaebum’s eyes widened in realization, and the leadership aura he’d been commanding stuttered a little. “You’re cold?”
“It’s nothing, really.” Youngjae wasn’t sure why Jaebum looked so nervous, the older’s gaze firmly affixed on the cuts on his hands. Surely he’d just pull a towel or a sweatshirt out of his bag right?
“Here, wear this.” Oh my god. He was removing his shirt and Youngjae was pretty sure he was dreaming. Or dead. Scratch that, he was definitely dead, because one peek of those abs had his soul leaving his body. Jaebum returned to the task at hand, cleaning the scratches, and his little lip bites at the sting of the alcohol were far from unnoticed by the older man. “Eyes on hyung, Youngjae-yah, it’ll be over soon.” And Youngjae could have laughed, really. Because he could barely peel his eyes of the sight in front of him, and the open invitation to stare was a little too much for his heart. Let alone the fact his traitorous brain was very much enjoying the current state of affairs, and the knowledge it would be over soon was not comforting. That was kind of pitiful wasn’t it? Youngjae mentally scheduled a self hatred pity party for tonight so he could mercilessly make fun of himself for being this way, but even those overwhelming intrusive thoughts could not take an iota of his attention away from his current view. Still, the task was long since over but Jaebum’s hands lingered, staring deeply into Youngjae’s hands as if hidden scratches would appear there.
“Hyung?” Youngjae questioned, curious about the odd behavior. He doesn’t realize how tantalizing he looks, Jaebum realizes. Jaebum’s shirt is laughably big on him, and it only emphasizes his soft features and the slightness of his shoulders and the rivulets of water still dripping down his neck from his hair. Meanwhile, Youngjae is slowly becoming more and more flustered by the prospect of his very handsome and very shirtless crush staring at him like a man starved. It’s slow but it feels like it’s all at once and a hand trails up his arm to rest slightly on his neck, giving the suggestion Youngjae readily accepts to tilt his head up. A thumb drags across his lips in a mock imitation of a kiss, and Youngjae is so frustrated he could scream. Jaebum’s cool facade almost breaks as he watches the younger’s eyes shift from cloudy to hungry, but he never gets a chance to break because Youngjae is kissing him. Youngjae is kissing him and grasping the older’s biceps as if that would ground him somehow and Jaebum’s soul hadn’t left his body and floated off to the clouds. Youngjae’s lips are soft, somehow softer than he’d ever imagined, and the keening noise he makes when Jaebum pulls away almost breaks his heart.
“Wait, shouldn’t we talk about this first?” Youngjae would have killed him if he wasn’t so cute.
“Hyung. I have a crush on you. We should date. Now let me kiss you.” And Jaebum was not responsible for the resulting moan when Youngjae spoke in such plain terms about he wanted and then followed it up by pressing kisses deep in the column of his throat, pausing only to suck a small hickey into his jaw. Jaebum had finally, finally realized Youngjae wasn’t going to push him off, and his hands found purchase in Youngjae’s hips before squeezing gently, pushing their heads together so they were talking forehead to forehead.
“Youngjae-yah, I have a crush on you too. So you should probably stop kissing me like that unless you want to give a hands on demonstration of the birds and the bees to my bacteria.” The joke worked as intended. The hungry look had subsided into amusement, and Youngjae laid his head against the older’s chest, placing his hand over Jaebum’s wildly racing heart.
“Ah, your babies, of course. What could I possibly have been thinking?” Jaebum could hear the smile in his voice.
“Nope, my only baby is you, Youngjae-yah.” For a split second, Jaebum worried that he’d gone too far, but the smack on his chest reassured him.
“Hyung that was so greasy!” Jaebum smiled helplessly, his emotions painted all over his face. “But, uh. We have a tiny problem. There’s one shirt and two of us.” Jaebum paled.
“How are we gonna explain this one to Jinyoung?” His best friend would kill him for jumping Youngjae. Even if it was in the name of chemical safety.
“Hyung, if he kills you, I want you to know that I’ll miss you.” Youngjae’s serious voice was so earnest that Jaebum couldn’t help his soft laugh. “But I’ll probably miss your abs more.” And honestly, it was worth it to feel Youngjae in his arms while Jinyoung screeched his left ear out about ‘tarnishing his precious son’s virginity’ and ‘invoking the name of chemical safety to leer at his son’s body’.