it's an ordinary monday afternoon when shit goes down. that’s how jeno would describe it.
jeno likes studying. he has always liked it, but the lunch break is still the only thing he looks forward to at school. that's what he thought, anyway. he's sitting in the school cafeteria with mark and donghyuck, sipping from his coffee and scrolling through his social media accounts when donghyuck decides to speak up and put jeno in a very uncomfortable situation. jeno would lie if he said that he didn’t feel it coming though – donghyuck and mark have exchanged glances and weird expressions way too long now for it to be subtle anymore, it was like they were having a heated discussion through their gazes. jeno tried to pay no attention to it, but deep down he assumed it probably had something to do with him.
“so jeno, are you going to tell us the story behind that hickey or not?” donghyuck suddenly asks, so casually that jeno would have ignored it if they hadn't been acting so suspicious just a moment ago.
whatever jeno had been expecting earlier, it definitely wasn’t this.
he lifts his head so quick that he almost feels something cracking in his neck, and watches the younger with a horrified look. mark nearly chokes on his salad trying to prevent a laugh, while donghyuck is just munching on his sandwich and watching jeno with what has to be his "innocent" smile.
“what the hell?” he asks, full on panicking as his other hand unconsciously lets go of his phone to go over his now flushed neck. donghyuck arches a brow, successfully making jeno feel just stupid – he's very aware that there might be a hickey or two decorating his neck, but he thought that they were faint and that he managed to cover them up by keeping the hood of his hoodie over his head and wearing a turtleneck under it. turns out he hasn't been quite as successful with his hiding attempts as he had thought when he left for school that morning.
“oh sorry, i thought you were aware of your obviousness, mister obvious,” donghyuck says, shrugging. “no offence, but your outfit choice is doing absolutely nothing to hide those,” he continues, taking another bite of his sandwich.
“i-i wasn’t trying to –“ jeno starts, but decides right after that he's just making the situation worse by trying to deny donghyuck. he's shit at lying anyway, so he can't possibly do anything that could actually helping him out, so he just stares at donghyuck and feels his cheeks burning.
he turns to mark next, expecting the older to defend him because this isn't fair at all and as the oldest mark is obligated to help him. mark looks just amused as donghyuck though, and before jeno gets to say anything, he's already beating him for it. “it pains me to say this, but for once he’s awfully right,” he says, nodding towards donghyuck. jeno has never felt more betrayed.
“i thought we were friends,” jeno mumbles, shrinking into his seat. he's still watching donghyuck and mark and he's sure that his face is currently the reddest it has ever been. his hands are sweating and an awkward silence surrounds the table. jeno bets it's only him finding the situation awkward, for donghyuck looks like he's having the time of his life. jeno scowls at the younger, his hand still securely glued against his neck. he has to come up with something – anything to save his ass from this mortification and make donghyuck get rid of that shit-eating grin of his.
donghyuck leans his chin against his palm, leaning closer. “lee jeno, i can’t believe you’re dating someone behind your best friends’ backs,” he says, the smug smirk never leaving his lips. “i am betrayed, heartbroken and genuinely disappointed in you.”
jeno just sits put, not bothering to open his mouth since he's pretty sure there isn't anything to say. how is he going to deny his friends’ suspicions when there clearly are hickeys on his neck? by claiming that they are mosquito bites? maybe not. his eyes drift away from his friends, and suddenly the white walls of the cafeteria seem oddly interesting as donghyuck continues by telling that he would have never imagined to see such a sight on jeno either. jeno truly wants the ground to swallow him right now so he could take his time and have a mental breakdown in peace. he also wants to get up and bolt, but that would be just pathetic and the wouldn’t be able to find the guts to face any of his friends ever again. so he passes that option.
“come on, spit it out,” mark says then, watching the younger with a smile, which jeno finds more intimidating than reassuring. “unless you want us to guess.”
donghyuck snorts a laugh and starts to peer around in attempt to spot the guilty one who would somehow match with jeno. “jeno’s type, let me think…” he mutters, squinting. he turns his head around, looking every passing student from head to toe, probably imagining them in a heated, cinematic kissing scene with his friend. jeno rubs his face and feels his stomach twisting painfully in anticipation when donghyuck realizes to put two and two together and scream the truth to the full cafeteria. it doesn't take longer than ten seconds at most before donghyuck blurts out, “honestly, no one really seems to fit you well enough to be in love with you." jeno nearly allows himself to sigh in relief.
jeno squeezes his eyes shut briefly, but covers up his dread by arching his brow. donghyuck turns back to him with a frown and eyes him, humming. “except that girl you always talk with after math,” donghyuck says, then turning towards mark. “you know, the one with the bob cut?”
"oh shit, you're right!" mark gasps, nodding vigorously while jeno just stares at the two with an unimpressed look. if he's being honest, he can't really recall himself talking with anyone after math, besides donghyuck, renjun or jaemin who are taking the same course.
“mark, you’re not even taking the course, how the hell would you know?” jeno asks, then turning to donghyuck again with a scowl on his face. “i literally have no idea who you’re talking about,” he continues, causing donghyuck to shake his head disapprovingly.
“that’s so classic, jeno. of course you don’t know who we’re talking about,” the younger says, then taking his phone from his pocket. “what was her name again?”
jeno sighs loudly, frustrated. “guys, i’m really not dating anyone from our... math class, god,” he retorts, turning his head when he hears footsteps nearing their table. renjun. great. as if the situation isn't already pressuring enough. donghyuck and mark are busy laughing, both pointing fingers at jeno. "you hesitated!"
“hey guys,” renjun says, sitting next to donghyuck on the other side of the table. “what’s going on? i could sense jeno's rage to the other end of the building.”
jeno watches donghyuck and mark with a warning look, but before he could even try to stop the two, especially donghyuck from opening the big mouth of his, he does just that. “did you know that jeno has been dating the girl from our math course?” the boy asks. jeno prepares for another round of merciless teasing when renjun lets out a surprised sound. his head whips to jeno, and he watches him with comically wide eyes, a smirk spreading on his face on instant. there they go again.
“wait what? what, what, what? you?” he asks and bursts in laugh. “you? are you sure? how?”
jeno rolls his eyes, just mildly offended. “i'm not dating her, now can we drop this?” he asks, sounding almost desperate as he waits for his so-called friends to stop laughing. he never knew he had such a loser’s reputation in their group of friends, until now. as if it's very, very unlikely for him to be dating someone.
“obviously not. not before you admit that you are in a secret relationship with the girl from math who even gave you a hickey,” donghyuck says, earning a frustrated groan from jeno.
“he has a whole ass hickey?!” renjun asks loudly, getting up to take a closer look from the other side of the table. “shut up!” jeno whines, but gets ignored.
“he was trying to cover it with his outfit, cute,” mark coos, reaching over to pinch jeno’s cheek, which jeno skillfully dodges by pushing the older’s hand away. “for the love of god, guys, will you drop it?”
“i literally can’t wait for jisung, chenle and jaemin to hear about your secret love life jeno!” renjun squeals, ignoring jeno once more. jeno officially wants to die. if jisung and chenle heard about this, then the whole school would, and jeno wouldn't have that. he’s just about to open his mouth to protest, but gets cut off by someone else.
“you have a secret love life? damn.”
jeno turns his head slowly and sees jaemin walking over and sitting down next to him. he drops his backpack on the table and unmistakably has the most amused look on his face jeno has ever seen. he looks like he knows exactly what's going on and even he has the audacity to tease jeno.
“jaemin, can you believe jeno is dating some –“ donghyuck starts, ready to spill the tea once more, but he falls silent before he gets to finish. mark and renjun also freeze, and yet another awkward silence followes. jeno squeezes his eyes shut, as every pair of eyes straight out gape jaemin, more specifically his neck. the blooming purple mark on his neck, which he isn't seemingly even trying to cover. then the eyes are on jeno again, and then back on jaemin. jeno swears he can hear the exact moment when it all suddenly clicks in their friends’ heads.
“wait,” donghyuck says, a weak finger pointing at jaemin. “wait a second, is that a hickey?”
“dude,” mark breathes out, letting out a confused sound that sounded almost like a laugh. jeno isn’t sure if the older understood what’s happening though. renjun in the other hand looks like he's about to lose it completely and for real. “i fucking knew it wasn’t a girl!” he exclaimed, slamming his palms against the table.
mark chokes for the second time today, this time on his own spit. ”you two are dating!?”
jaemin watches his friends with a look that was almost smug, before he glances at jeno who looks like he’s about to explode any second. from despair or embarrassment, jaemin doesn’t know. jeno is watching him with a look so done that the other can’t really help but laugh at him. "so, about that secret love life of yours... a girl?" jaemin starts, snickering. jeno just buries his face into his hands with a sigh.
“oh my god, oh. my. god,” renjun wheezes, before he’s again watching the two. “i always knew you were hiding something! i fucking knew!”
“i can’t believe you have been dating without letting us know! i mean what the hell?” now mark is almost screaming too. “how exactly do you think you can explain? how long have you even been dating?”
jaemin rolls his eyes and smirks. “uhh… what do you mean dating?” he asks, wrapping his arm around jeno’s shoulder, who’s still busy trying to figure out how to deal with these overdramatic people. “that's so gay,” jaemin continues, threading his fingers through jeno’s raven hair.
renjun gets up from where he’s sitting, and then points a finger towards the two. “shut the fuck up and quit the grossness! how long?” he asks, watching them with squinted eyes. donghyuck is still gaping at them with wide eyes, still not quite believing what he just heard and is currently witnessing.
jaemin clears his throat, leaning back on his seat, his other arm staying put around jeno. “chill, dude, four months,” he replies, shrugging. “roughly.”
“four months?!” donghyuck, mark and renjun yelp in unison. jeno almost winces and the whole cafeteria turn their attentions towards them, as if they don’t already have enough audience from renjun’s screaming. jaemin cringes and jeno sighs for the nth time, as he lifts his head from his hands.
"why is this happening," he asks from no one in particular, wishing they were sitting anywhere else but in the middle of a busy cafeteria right now.
“were you ever going to tell us?” donghyuck asks, watching jeno and jaemin in disbelief. “you have been dating for almost half a year without letting us know? just how?”
jeno and jaemin exchange looks, shrugging. “we thought you would notice in a week or so,” jeno mutters, as jaemin pulls him right against his side with his arm. jaemin nods, laughing. “we didn’t feel like it would have made a difference if we told you because you were going to find out sooner or later anyway,” he explained, “so, you know, what better idea than to decide that since you’re so blind, we could as well keep being quiet about it and let you figure it out by yourselves.” donghyuck, renjun and mark are just gaping.
“well, jeno, now i can definitely say that we thought you were friends,” donghyuck says, watching jeno with an accusing look. ”but oh no, you two suck faces without us knowing!”
“we hang out literally all the time and you could have been fucking behind any corner! i mean, i no longer wonder why you always insisted to share beds when we stayed over at someone,” the boy continues, watching mark and renjun. “everything makes perfect sense now!”
“alright, i guess we’re leaving now,” jaemin says, grabbing jeno’s hand and pulling him up from his seat. jeno agrees gladly – all he has been waiting for this whole time has been leaving. “we have a study date,” jaemin continues with a smirk, after they got up.
“wait, which one of you tops?”
renjun groans. “oh my god, hyuck.”
the abandoned trio watch how jaemin and jeno exit the cafeteria hand in hand, jeno almost dragging jaemin after him. jeno is pushing the door open to leave the school, which is mostly why he’s unaware of jaemin turning towards their friends with a stupid grin, pointing at himself while mouthing “i do”.