Renjun thought there would have been a lot of ways this could have gone.
Imagine if he never asked Donghyuck to run to the nearest convenience store to grab a couple of coffee cans. Imagine if Renjun hadn't remained stubborn about sending Donghyuck on the errand, if he gave in to the younger boy's way of whining and trying to convince him to run over there instead. Maybe Donghyuck wouldn't have crossed paths with a particular tall boy with striking blond hair, carrying a guitar case on his way to a gig by the rising café down the street. Maybe Donghyuck wouldn't have begged a stranger to try out and audition, take over the empty spot of a guitarist in their band.
Renjun could only imagine how it would have been if he never sat down begrudgingly on a chair and listened to the skillful guitar playing by the stranger. He would still be searching for another one but he wouldn't mind it, as long as they're not anyone who's named Lee Jeno.
A struggling boy who's desperate for gigs, no matter how small they can be. He's been practicing playing the guitar for nearly ten years now and Renjun hates how heavenly the sound is every time Jeno expertly strums the strings of his guitar, humming along to the tune.
He still hates how he easily crumbled three months ago, desperate to actually fill up the spot by anyone who can match the skills of their previous guitarist, Mark. He shouldn't have let his guard down, should have pushed the male more to play and play until he's satisfied that he's fit enough for Renjun's band.
But desperate times call for desperate measures, isn't it?
"Jun?" Jaemin, their drummer and one of Renjun's closest friends, steps inside the studio. His eyebrows shoot up before they furrow, a streak of concern crossing his features. "Were you up all night in here?"
Renjun could barely lift his gaze from the papers laid out messily on the table. He nearly lets his head fall right on the surface but he catches himself in time, a sigh drawing itself past his lips. He didn't even realize that the exhaustion is running deep in his bones until he heard the worried tone edging in Jaemin's voice. An involuntary yawn falls from his lips as he leans against the back of his chair, throwing his head back. He can feel the start of a throbbing headache creeping in so he lets his eyes screw shut, allowing the impending darkness to cloud his vision.
"Yeah," He finally breathes out the word after a moment, nose scrunched up. "I was working on our new songs."
"Dumbass, we told you repeatedly not to stay in here and fall asleep." He can hear the low grumbling from Jaemin as the sound of footsteps echo within the lustrous studio. He can tell that Jaemin grabbed another pair of heavy set of boots due to the weighted steps resonating in the room.
"I couldn't stop. You know how I am when inspiration strikes me." He didn't hear the response that slips from Jaemin's lips as he lets one eye to flutter open. He peeks at the side and finds Jaemin bend over his drum set, his lightweight black jacket airily swaying at his sides. His eyes fall close again, grunting as he leans his cheek against the cool exterior of the table.
"Do you know when the others will come by?" Renjun drops his voice into an inaudible whisper, another yawn slipping past. Jaemin remains silent — the only sound that's presumably coming from him is the cymbals getting hit lightly.
"Don't know," Jaemin walks over to his side and Renjun almost jolts in surprise at the heat coming from the beverage. He raises his head too fast, knocking his forehead against Jaemin's knuckles and almost hitting the cup to the ground. Thankfully, only a few drops of the coffee drip down to the ground as Jaemin jerks away in surprise, a sheepish smile gracing his lips.
"Sorry, didn't mean to surprise you." Jaemin chooses to take the seat next to him, gingerly putting the container on the table a few inches away from the lyric sheets. Renjun mumbles an incoherent reply that sounds awfully like it's fine, at least I didn't burn before he cracks an embarrassed smile as Jaemin spares him a completely unamused glance.
"You're really horrible at making jokes these days. Did Jeno rub off his lameness on you?" Renjun pursues his lips into a thin line before they twitch into a frown, knitting his eyebrows.
He grumbles to himself, his fingers circling around the width of his pencil before tightening his grip on the wooden object. Jaemin discreetly elbows his side just as the sound of muffled boots hit the floor echo right outside the studio; the door swings open and Renjun is afraid to actually admit that his breath is stolen away at the sight of the boy in front of him.
Jeno has his striking blond hair styled up, showing off his forehead as he carries his guitar case right inside the studio. His leather jacket certainly fits his entire look — he pulls it off so easily that Renjun admits he's a little jealous of it. He's wearing black boots as well and the sound it makes whenever the soles hit the floor echoes too loudly.
It seems that anywhere Jeno goes, he can easily attract attention nearly everywhere. Honestly, Renjun is suspicious — surely someone like Jeno could smoothly earn enough gigs to last him for a lifetime. He's good-looking, talented, and he can be quite charming if the situation calls for it. Even someone like Renjun, who couldn't be swayed all that easily, found himself getting intrigued the moment Jeno stepped right into the studio the very first time they met.
Oh god, he should have known that Jeno is too perfect to be true.
"Jeno!" Jaemin cheerily greets him and Jeno fixates his gaze on him, his eyes crinkling as a smile graces his lips. He lets his guitar case rest on the floor near the other instruments, crossing the distance with large strides until he's standing right in front of the table. Renjun spares him an uninterested glance but he sees the certain glint of amusement and mischief lighting up in the brown specks of Jeno's eyes, he finds himself getting extremely flustered.
"Hey, Nana," Jeno replies with the same kind of enthusiasm before his stare finally drops on Renjun, gazing at him with a scrutinizing eyes. A playful smile quirks on his lips, making Renjun twist his mouth into a scowl.
The mentioned boy arches an eyebrow, making an attempt to hide his amusement as he tries to school his expression into an expression that resembles boredom. They hold each other's gazes for so long that Jaemin has to cut in, coughing obnoxiously to get their attention.
"Uh, hey?" He waves a hand in between their faces, cutting off their intense eye contact. "Hello? I'm still here?"
"What?" Renjun snaps back to reality, blinking rapidly at the pink-haired boy right beside him. Jaemin rolls his eyes, clicking his tongue with an air of annoyance around him.
"Of course you got distracted by Jeno," The younger boy's lips curve upwards into a knowing smirk, dropping his voice into a stage whisper. "Again."
"Oh, I didn't know that our little Renjun has a crush on me." Jeno adapts his voice into a singsong tone, clearly enjoying the way Renjun's cheeks burn in embarrassment. His eyes are shining with obvious mischief and trouble; it took everything in Renjun not to curl his fingers into a fist and slam it against his pretty face.
"Fuck off, Jeno."
"Aw, cute." Jeno turns his attention to Jaemin, who's sporting on the same amused grin that he always wears whenever he sees them bickering. "Renjun likes me. He didn't even deny it."
"I mean it, Lee. Fuck off."
"Tsk, you're no fun." Jeno isn't even ashamed to show that he's enjoying the way Renjun is getting more and more pissed off due to his words. He seems to take enjoyment in Renjun's sufferings and rage fits, even if the older boy will somehow end up taking it out on him.
"Oh, you know what?" Renjun abruptly stands from his chair, nearly knocking off the table and spilling the papers and coffee to the ground as he hastily tries to reach out to grasp Jeno's collar. He manages to get at least two of his fingers to curl around the collar, putting enough strength to pull him in and making the younger male stumble forward in surprise. Renjun snarls right at him, face dangerously close as his eyes glimmer with an insane amount of rage directed at the boy.
"You're such a fucking assho—"
"Hey!" A familiar voice cuts through their heated discussion as the door swings open. Donghyuck steps inside with a flourish, his brown, curly hair falling over his playful, bright eyes. He's only wearing a black hoodie with red letters randomly spewed across the front. His skin tight jeans hug his legs nicely and his white sneakers resound against the polished floor as he shuts the door right behind him with a wide smile.
He takes in the scene of Jaemin barely holding his laughter whilst Jeno and Renjun are practically face-to-face once again before Donghyuck ends up rolling his eyes right at them.
"Not to break the murder-y mood in here or something but it's literally only 7:30 in the morning," His brow raises at Jeno and Renjun, tilting his head as a bored expression writes itself across his features. "Sit down and get some caffeine in your systems, you idiots."
"Did you just—"
"Yes, Injun. I've called you an idiot for the past week already because you kids keep on getting into these ridiculous fights." Donghyuck nonchalantly replies, crossing the distance between the door up to the table where they're all hanging around. Renjun stares at him incredulously, watching as Donghyuck promptly takes a seat right in front of him with his usual unamused expression.
"We're the oldest in here." Renjun jabs his thumb right at Jeno's direction before he points to himself. "Exactly a month apart."
"And guess who gets into fights the most?" Donghyuck's voice is dripping with playfulness at the edge of it, his eyes bright with mischief. He clicks his tongue at the sight of the coffee and papers on the floor, bending down to pick up the papers that can be still be salvaged. Renjun can't help himself but roll his eyes in response, not bothering to come up with a witty and snarky remark as he lets go of Jeno's collar. He plops down on his chair, frowning deeply to himself whilst Jeno tugs on his collar with a grunt.
"Were you writing your lyrics here last night, Jun?" Donghyuck checks over the papers, squinting as he struggles to read through the scribbles bleeding out on the paper. Renjun emits a sigh of frustration, running his fingers through his dark hair before he lets the strands hang over his forehead.
"I was, but I think I was too distracted last night."
"Were you thinking of me again?" Jeno breaks through the conversation with a cheeky grin. Renjun throws a glare right at his direction and tosses a pen right at his direction but the boy easily ducks to avoid it. Jaemin snatches up the other pens set out on the table, directing a stern look right at Renjun; the older boy backs down with a scowl, obviously not pleased with the situation.
"Don't flatter yourself, Lee. The only time I'll be thinking about you is when you're getting your ass kicked by me."
"Which is, all the time." Renjun's cheeks turn flushed with embarrassment, hurriedly snapping his attention elsewhere as the frown deepens on the corners of his mouth. Jaemin barely hides the snicker from falling from his lips as he taps the surface of the table, catching the attention of the rest of the band.
"Come on, let's practice before these two end up killing each other again."
"No," Jeno stops his fingers from plucking at the strings of his guitar, frowning deeply at the music sheets set out in front of him. "These notes won't do well for our song."
"Shut up, Lee. We've been rehearsing this song for nearly a week now." Renjun hisses, putting down his bass guitar before his eyes narrow into an icy glare right at the blonde-haired boy. Jeno, instead of being naturally flirty and charming just to rile Renjun up, only twists his lips into a deep scowl. He looks troubled as his eyes scan through the notes, shaking his head to showcase his disapproval.
"I've always noticed there was something wrong." Jeno mumbles to himself, taking out a pen from his skinny jeans and uncaps it. His eyebrows furrow as he adds a few notes, changing up the sheet whilst Renjun stares at him in disbelief.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"Improving your song because obviously, you can't figure out simple notes like this." Jeno monotonously replies, eyes flickering from each note and quietly dissecting it. Renjun can feel his blood boiling beneath his skin; it would be an understatement to say that he's absolutely furious at the words that left the younger boy's lips.
What does he even know? He's only been in our band for three fucking months — why is he acting such a know-it-all?
"There," Jeno triumphantly presents the revised music sheets to the rest of the group, a proud grin curling on his lips. "I fixed it." Jaemin and Donghyuck curiously approach him and snatch up the music sheets, mulling over the changes before they murmur to themselves for a moment. Jaemin clears his throat, turning to Renjun with a knowing glint in the brown specks of his eyes.
"Injun, I think the song is better with these changes."
"Oh, I didn't know that this guy, who's only been in our band for a short moment, knows better than the rest of us." Renjun scoffs, clearly annoyed and Donghyuck arches a brow at his behavior, tilting his head to the side. A glint of curiosity glimmers in his dark eyes and Renjun swallows the lump that formed in his throat, clutching the hem of his jacket.
"I'm only looking out for the rest of the band." Jeno responds dryly, a flash of irritation appearing in his eyes before the emotion eventually fades away into nothingness. Donghyuck and Jaemin are quick to sense the growing tension right between them — the pink-haired boy is swift enough to let out a laugh that sounds too awkward as he swings an arm around Jeno's shoulder.
"Come on, Jen. Let's grab some snacks and take a break."
"Yeah! Injun and I will grab coffee for everyone." Renjun is about to part his lips to reject the idea but Donghyuck already has his fingers circled around his wrist, casting a stern glance right at him before he drags him right out of the studio. Renjun tries to shake free from his iron grip but Donghyuck remains stubborn as he wittingly pulls Renjun in the direction of the café nearby.
"Seriously, what's wrong with you?" Donghyuck speaks as soon as they step inside the familiar ambience of the café, wrapping them up in a homely kind of feeling. He doesn't even sound anywhere close to being annoyed or furious at his behavior — he sounds strangely worried. His eyebrows are knitted together with his lips pursued into a thin line, carefully watching the expression that crosses the older male's features. Renjun finally gets to yank his wrist away from his grip, wincing for a moment as he rubs the reddened skin before he emits a deep sigh, shaking his head.
"I don't know." He grumbles instead, sticking his cold hands in his pockets as they file up along the line that formed in front of the counter. "I just... lost it, okay?"
"We can all see that." Donghyuck dryly says, eyes slightly narrowing as he continues survey the other boy. He rubs his own hands, warming them up before he decidedly to slip them into the loose pockets of his jacket.
"Do you hate Jeno that much?" Renjun can't help but elicit a laugh at his question. The reaction that Donghyuck gouged right out of him is enough for him to arch an eyebrow, clearly stunned due to the unexpected.
"I do hate him," He drags out the word hate past his lips, finding the syllable bitter on the tip of his tongue before he crosses his arms over his chest. "I really do. I'm surprised that you only brought it up now."
Donghyuck stays silent for a stretched moment before one of the edges of his lips quirk up. "You don't. You don't hate him."
"You do not."
"Yes, I do!" Renjun unknowingly raises his voice before he clears his throat when he notices the gazes settling on him, bowing his head to apologize. He snarls right after, his cheeks burning due to the humiliating scene he had to endure just a few moments ago. Donghyuck wrinkles his nose, slipping one of his hands right out of his pocket before he swings an arm over Renjun's shoulder to pull him close to his side.
It's only a heartbeat of silence that echoes between them before Renjun speaks up, words laced with an unusual amount of anger and vexation. "You want to know why I hate him? It's obvious! He's an arrogant prick who acts as if he knows everything about us. He's always showing off and it's so annoying because—"
"Wait," Donghyuck holds out a hand, cutting Renjun's words off as they finally approach the counter. The younger boy recites their usual orders to the cashier up front with a charming smile, paying for it before he drags Renjun to the side as the next customer walks up to the front.
"I feel like that's not the real reason why you hate him." Renjun shoots him a look of disbelief, a frown contorting on the edges of his mouth to display his confusion. Donghyuck takes notice of the expression that painted itself on his features, making him heave a deep sigh as his fingers tap against the polished wooden counter.
"I feel like you don't hate Jeno."
"Why are you suddenly insisting that?" Renjun's voice dips into a whisper, avoiding his friend's intense gaze right at him. He's afraid that if he met Donghyuck's eyes, the younger boy will see every emotion that he's been desperately trying to hide for months now.
"Because all of those reasons," Donghyuck's fingers draw out a circle in the air before he waves it off dismissively with a shrug. "They're not enough for you to hate Jeno. They're not enough for you to hate anyone at all."
Renjun parts his lips, ready to throw a snarky remark but instead, he ends up sealing his mouth shut. He lets his stare fall on the ground, allowing the toes of his shoes dig against the flooring with an inaudible sigh escaping past his lips. He keeps his hands in his pockets, trying his best to avoid Donghyuck's gaze right at him — he knows that the other male is smart enough to pick out the lies that spill from his mouth.
"So, what are you saying?" Renjun replies, exasperated as he braves himself to meet Donghyuck's eyes. The curly haired boy shrugs his shoulders and slips his hand back into his pocket to warm it up with a soft hum.
"There's a deeper reason why you have all this... anger built up inside of you. It's not because of some baseless hate directed at Jeno's habits and personality because god knows that you can actually tolerate his ass even without trying."
Renjun stands there, stunned at the words that fell from the other boy's lips. He wants to be able to form some sort of comeback, a statement to deny what Donghyuck just expressed to him but he's too shocked to be able to do it. The words are having a hard time sinking in his mind so he shakes his head instead, an exasperated sigh falling from his mouth.
Donghyuck arches a brow at him, surveying him with an attentive gaze. He pursues his lips before he speaks in a quieter volume, "Is this because of M—"
"No," Renjun cuts in immediately, voice sounding a little strangled as he grits his teeth. He shakes his head, lowering it for a moment as he elicits a shaky sigh. "It's not him, I promise."
"Sorry, didn't mean to bring him up." Donghyuck glances at him with worried eyes once again, his brown eyes bright with guilt. Renjun steals a look at him before he gently pats the other boy on the shoulder with a slight quirk of his lips.
"It's okay. But hey, if it makes you happy, I think you're half right about that." Renjun notices that one of the baristas have been calling for his attention a few times already. He flashes an embarrassed smile right at her, mumbling a quiet apology as Donghyuck and him collect the cups of coffee, gripping them as securely as they could without crushing the material.
"And by that, you actually mean," Donghyuck clears his throat before he raises his voice a pitch higher as a form of poor imitation of Renjun's voice. "Oh, you're right, Hyuck! I wouldn't be here if you weren't here to save my idiotic ass!"
"Shut up, Hyuck, before I trip you."
"I love you too, Injun!" Donghyuck's voice turns into a singsong tone, walking away hurriedly with a bounce in his heels, obviously pleased at the furious look that Renjun is throwing right at him. He grumbles under his breath, not bothering to waste any more of his breath to argue with the curly haired boy because he knows that they'll have another never-ending argument again.
They bound right up the stairs with Donghyuck humming along to one of their newest songs. He's careful not to wave his arms too much so the coffee won't accidentally spill right on the steps. Renjun stays silent as he follows Donghyuck through the turns and corners until they finally arrive back in the studio, pushing the door open and exposing themselves to the brightly lit room.
Renjun doesn't want to admit it but when his gaze settles right on Jaemin and Jeno, his throat closes up uncomfortably. Jeno is busy jotting down some notes on some clean music sheets whilst Jaemin leans in close, eliciting a chuckle as he mumbles something. There's a light tug on the edge of Jeno's lips, curling upwards to form a half smile as he writes once again. Renjun doesn't understand why his stomach is churning at the sight of them together — it's almost as if he's jealous—
No, Renjun shakes his head abruptly, as if snapping out of his thoughts. That's ridiculous, I'm not jealous.
"We're here!" Donghyuck announces loudly, catching both of their attention in a snap. Jaemin snaps his head up, clasping his hands together in excitement when his line of vision lands on the cups of coffee secured tightly in their hold. He jumps right out of his seat and approaches Donghyuck, grabbing one of them with a bright smile playing on his lips.
"Thank you!" He leans in close and for a brief second, Renjun wonders if his eyes are tricking him when he sees the way Donghyuck leans over, as if he's about to press his lips against the pink-haired boy's. Jaemin seems to snap out of it, pulling back abruptly with his cheeks going flushed in embarrassment as he emits a nervous laugh. Donghyuck appears to be flustered as he clears his throat, avoiding the other boy's gaze right at him, hurriedly pulling away to set down the other cup on the table.
Renjun's eyes flicker over to Jeno and he sees a flash of confusion before an expression of amusement crosses his features. There's a knowing smirk on his lips and Renjun is caught off guard when Jeno's stare settles on him, their gazes locking on each other. Renjun quickly averts his attention elsewhere, ignoring the way the butterflies started fluttering very gently in his stomach.
"Oh, did you guys eat up all the snacks?" Donghyuck nonchalantly says, pointedly ignoring the obvious pile of snacks sitting at the other end of the table.
Renjun furrows his eyebrows at him, finally finding his way through the instruments before he plops down on a chair away from Jeno. "There's literally a mountain of snacks here—"
"Nonsense! Jaem and I will grab some more." He studies Donghyuck with a watchful gaze, seeing as Donghyuck walks over to Jaemin's side confidently and throws an arm around the younger boy's shoulder. Jaemin is thrown off guard just by the sight of his eyes widening in surprise and his cheeks burning once again, making him lower his head so the others won't notice.
"We'll be back!" Donghyuck eagerly leads Jaemin out of the studio and Renjun is so sure that Donghyuck dropped his arm around Jaemin's shoulder as soon as they step right out of the door, their fingers entwining instead. He sits there in disbelief, not believing the thought of Donghyuck and Jaemin being together — even if it does seem like an impossibility since they've been friends since forever, they've been acting a little suspicious. Always sneaking away during their breaks and coming back to the studio nonchalantly, acting as if they don't know each other.
"I can't believe they went out to buy some snacks when we obviously have more."
"Let them be," Jeno speaks up, voice monotonous. Renjun's eyes flicker over to him for a moment and he sees the slight smirk curved right across Jeno's lips. "Those two are just trying to keep their relationship under wraps though they're doing a horrible job at hiding it."
Renjun feels the urge to throw a snarky remark at the other boy but he settles with grumbling instead. He sneaks another look at Jeno, trying not to be too straightforward and obvious but Jeno seems to sense it easily, seeing how he catches Renjun's gaze with an amused smile.
"Like what you see?"
"No way." The answer comes out too hurried that Jeno's smile turn into a mischievous grin. Renjun can see the glint of delight lighting up in the brown specks of Jeno's eyes before he leans against the back of his chair.
"Whatever you say then."
The silence stretches between them uncomfortably as Jeno stares up at the blank ceiling with a contemplative look crossing his features. Renjun tries to dive back into his work, pursuing his lips into a thin line as he reviews the revised music sheet. He takes note of Jeno's changes and after a moment, an inaudible sigh falls from his lips. He has always hated whenever Jeno has tried to extend his help towards the other boy, always scowling right at him that Jeno finally backed down with his own frown curling on his mouth.
But he has to admit that Jeno is brilliant — the notes nicely fit in with the rest of the beat and the lyrics. There's no awkward pauses or any notes that are out of place; the flow is much better compared to the first draft that Renjun was previously working on. He hates that he lost his cool on the younger boy because Jeno, despite how annoying and flirty he can be, is surprisingly useful whenever Renjun struggles with songwriting at times.
His gaze lands on Jeno, seeing that the other boy is still staring upwards, humming to himself this time. Renjun hesitates visibly before he slides a cup of coffee right over to his side, the steam is rising over the top.
"Here." His tone is curt and short, effectively catching Jeno's attention. Jeno eyes the cup of coffee for a second before he arches a brow, his teeth catching onto his bottom lip to stop himself from smiling.
"Thanks." Renjun wasn't expecting the way Jeno finally pulled on the corners of his lips into a sweet, genuine smile. The kind of smile that makes Renjun's heart flutter wildly beneath his rib cage as he becomes lightheaded over the simple curve of his mouth. He knows that Jeno has acknowledged that kind of thing as Renjun's apology to him so he swiftly turns his head away, hiding his flushed cheeks and the smile that's starting to grow on his face.
The last thing he needs is Jeno teasing him all over again.
Renjun has his head hung low, tired lines running down his facial features. His fingers are aching from gripping the pencil, constantly sharpening it because he keeps jotting down new notes and changing up the course of the song. The continuous ping! coming from his phone breaks away the remnants of his concentration so he finally heaves a defeated sigh, dropping the pencil on the table.
He picks up his phone from the side, unlocking it easily as he brings up his messages, immediately seeing the first message that popped out.
Jaemin [23:36]: you better be at home now
Jaemin [23:36]: i don't want to walk into the studio and find you asleep there
Renjun rolls his eyes, an exhausted smile curled on his lips. Jaemin has always worried about his health since from the start of their friendship and it's both endearing and adorable. He's about to send a reply when another message comes rolling in, this time from someone else.
Donghyuck [23:38]: hey injun
Donghyuck [23:38]: i know you're going to lie and say that you're at home
Donghyuck [23:38]: i know you're still at the studio
Donghyuck [23:39]: make sure to go home now or else, i'll head over there and drag your ass back home
Renjun can't find a way to lie his way out of it — he knows that Donghyuck isn't joking when he says that he'll drag Renjun back home in the middle of the night. He hunches right over the desk, groaning as he drops his phone on the wooden surface before he ruffles his hair. His fingers sift through the dark strands as the throbbing headache starts to creep in, interrupting the flow of thoughts in his head. Maybe he should really head home, like how Jaemin and Donghyuck are demanding him to do; besides, it's been weeks since he last got a good night's rest.
Just when he's about to play with the idea of actually going back to his apartment, his thoughts break apart when he hears the familiar click of the door lock. His head snaps up, eyes wide as his throat closes up, watching carefully as the door pushes open gently. Jeno steps inside, messy hair falling over his eyes before he runs his fingers through it to make an attempt to fix it.
"What are you doing here?" Renjun doesn't beat around the bush anymore; he's too curious on why Jeno is around in the studio so late. The mentioned male raises his head and he sports on a sheepish smile, looking rather bashful before he ends up clearing his throat. He easily curls his lips into a flirtatious smile, completely erasing away the remnants of an embarrassed Jeno behind.
"Why, are you excited to see me?" Renjun can't stop himself from rolling his eyes in response.
"If you're here to disturb me then get out. I'm tired and pissed off." Renjun grunts, showcasing an annoyed frown right at the younger boy. Jeno doesn't seem fazed over the fact that Renjun is always so pissed off whenever they have any sort of interaction, shrugging off his words without a care in the world. He's carrying two cups of steaming hot coffee and Renjun arches a brow when Jeno easily crosses the distance between them, gingerly putting one of the beverages on the table.
"Why are you still here?"
"You never answered my question." Renjun points out with an edge of suspicion in his voice. Jeno simply raises an eyebrow at him, pocketing his hands in his jacket before he settles right on the chair next to Renjun.
Jeno mumbles something that sounds so awfully similar to I'm worried about you before blonde-haired boy's cheeks color themselves in deep red. The lights have been dimmed a little so it's already darker than usual but even then, Renjun can see the red tint painted across his cheeks — the sight alone is endearing.
"I'm fine, you don't have to stay here." Renjun tries to keep his voice dry and uninterested but the slight tug on the edges of his mouth says otherwise. He hangs his head low so he can hold himself back from breaking into a wide smile, attempting to calm down the erratic beating of his heart beneath his chest.
"But I want to."
Renjun stays still with the exception of his fingers twitching. His heart flies to his throat, beating out of control as he sneaks a peek at Jeno. The younger male is staring back at him and there's a flash of emotions running through his dark orbs that Renjun has a difficult time grasping on every single one of them. The reticence stretches long between them, several heartbeats too long before Renjun finally heaves a sigh. He slides over a few music sheets right to Jeno's direction, pushing a pencil right into his hands.
"Here, help me out in revising these drafts." Renjun drops his voice into a whisper, almost a little ashamed for asking help but he does need it. "You did well in revising one of our songs."
Even if Jeno didn't respond immediately, Renjun can sense the smile that started to play on the edges of Jeno's lips. There's a chuckle that floats in the air between them, followed by a soft okay before he feels Jeno shift away from him to concentrate on the sheets in front of him.
All Renjun heard that night is the sound of his heartbeat echoing in his rib cage, a steady and even rhythm of thump, thump, thump.
Renjun isn't sure if he likes the sound of it at all.
It's not like Renjun actually hates Jeno.
He has always thought that the word hate is too much for him — he has never truly slipped through the boundaries of having burning hatred for anyone he knows. He does dislike him though. Maybe that's something he can consider as a fact.
He dislikes the air of arrogance surrounding Jeno — the subtle knowing smirks whenever he realizes that he got Renjun completely flustered over his words alone. He dislikes the way he would push Renjun's buttons, knowing exactly what could rile him up and ruin his entire mood. He dislikes the way Jeno acts as if he knows every little thing about Renjun, as if the older boy is simply an open book for Jeno and that he could easily figure out the reactions that Renjun would pull out.
But one thing that he truly dislikes the most — he can even say that he actually hates this so much — is when Jeno would confuse the hell out of him.
One second, he torments Renjun and enjoys seeing him in pure misery whenever they argue in the middle of practice (or really, in any other place where they see each other face to face). But the next second, he'll drop by the studio in the middle of the night and slip him a cup of coffee; at times, he'll even help him out in writing lyrics for their new album. He's surprisingly sweet — with the sincere smile gracing his lips and his eyes crinkling so nicely whenever they stay up late at night together, coming up with witty lyrics.
He seems so genuine, so different from the usual way he presents himself in other times. Renjun often loosens his grip on his own protective walls and loses himself in the sound of the melodic laugh bouncing off every corner of the studio, his heart racing out of control. But as soon as he leaves the studio and comes back early, he'll change completely that Renjun is often dumbstruck; he wonders if that part of Jeno — the part of him that tells horrible jokes to Renjun and gets shockingly so comfortable with him that he'll sit right beside him and let their knees knock against each other whilst laughing — is well, real.
He can't keep letting himself get lost like this. He's too careless, he certainly doesn't want a repeat of what happened to him months ago. He already let his guard down once and he got fucked over, like he meant absolutely nothing so no way he would let Jeno do the same to him. If he has to crush Jeno first before the other boy can even start of having those kind of intentions towards him then so be it.
Besides, he doesn't want Jaemin and Donghyuck to find out that Jeno has such a sweet, angelic side that he only shows to Renjun at night.
Who knows what they could even say about it?
"God, you're an asshole."
"You know, as much as I like volunteering to pick out our snacks," Jeno runs a hand through his blonde hair, letting the strands tangle around his fingers. "I don't appreciate the name-calling."
Renjun only curves his lips into a mischievous grin, his eyes brightly lit to show off his playfulness as he pockets his hands inside his skin tight jeans. "Oh, please. We both know that the nickname I gave you fits you the best."
"Shut up, Huang." Jeno scowls right at him but Renjun childishly sticks out his tongue in response instead. The older boy has a bounce in his steps as he walks over to the nearest convenience store, pushing through the glass doors. The blast of cold air coming from the air conditioning unit is enough to send a shiver down Renjun's spine but that doesn't bother him at all. He only tightens his hold around his jacket, securing it around his thin figure as he slips through the aisles, letting Jeno trail behind him.
"We should get this, and this, oh and—"
"Calm down, we don't have that much money." Jeno snatches some of the bags of chips out of Renjun's growing pile in his arms. Renjun snarls right at him in response but Jeno doesn't seem at all fazed and he almost seems rather bored as he puts the snacks back.
"You're so annoying." Renjun complains under his breath, eyeing Jeno with disdain as he watches him put the extra snacks away. "Should have asked Nana or Hyuck to accompany me instead."
"Well, you could have done that," Jeno turns his voice into a singsong tone, his eyes glimmering with mischief. "What stopped you, hm?"
Renjun throws a glare right at his direction, reaching over to grab the snacks that Jeno stole from his stash. "Oh, fuck you. You know that it's already a shock for me to walk in the two of them making out." He can feel another shiver traveling through his veins, shuddering as the memory of what happened earlier played in his mind again.
He wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary — he arrived at the studio at around seven in the morning. Honestly, if he didn't fell asleep in the studio, he would arrive there the earliest out of everyone in the band. He adores the peace and quiet resounding within the place whenever it's late at night or early in the morning; his thoughts tend to flow more freely compared to working in the middle of the afternoon.
He had his head ducked down, typing out notes on his phone when he grabbed the silver handle of the door. He pushed the door open without glancing up from the screen but when he heard the sound of giggles floating in the air, he snapped his head up to stare at the intruder. It's odd to hear any sort of noise this early at morning so he got suspicious immediately. His breath got caught in his throat when his gaze landed on Jaemin and Donghyuck practically all over each other, losing themselves in kissing each other without giving a care if anyone would step inside.
Renjun hurriedly pulled the door shut, not caring if the sound reverberated within the studio as he walked away with burning cheeks. Jeno passed by him, hair tousled as he keeps his hands in his coat, warming them up from the cold weather outside. The older boy swiftly grabs hold of his coat, pulling him away from the studio, claiming that we need to buy snacks!
"Now that I think about it, maybe you were lying about seeing Hyuck and Nana together and you just wanted an excuse to go out with me."
"One more word from you and I'll break your jaw."
"Oh, how feisty." Jeno grins at him, teeth bared. Soon enough, he turns on his charming self, lips curving into the familiar flirtatious smile that he usually wears around Renjun. "Have I said how attractive that can be? Sadly, it's not a good look on you, Huang."
"Wow, thanks." Renjun replies, sarcasm dripping at the edge of his voice. He wanders into the drinks aisle, eyeing the cans of coffee for a moment, wondering if he's consuming too much caffeine lately — he does need it to stay awake and keep his head going through with the ideas.
"Hey, Lee, should we get some coffee?" Renjun says out loud, not taking his attention away from the cans. He's buried too deep in his thoughts that he didn't even realize that Jeno hasn't responded to him yet.
"Jen? Should we get some coffee? Or should we grab something else?" He repeats the question before he cringes, realizing that the nickname spilled from his lips unknowingly. Jaemin and Donghyuck use that nickname all too often that Renjun unconsciously adapted that name in his head for the longest stretch of time already. Even then, Jeno didn't reply to him at all so he turns on his heel, a frown written on his lips.
"Jun?" The mentioned male stands still, his heart falling right onto his feet. His breath gets stolen from his lungs and he's rendered speechless when his eyes settle on the one who called his name. It's incredibly difficult to say his name even though once in his life before, it was almost like a lullaby to let his name slip from his lips.
"Mark." He swallows the lump in his throat, feeling the slightest twitch in his nose. "Mark hyung."
The boy stands in front of him, brown strands falling over his eyes before he hastily runs his fingers through them. He shifts uneasily from one foot to another, unconsciously holding onto his basket tighter against his stomach. Renjun tries not to think too much about it as he diverts his attention, lips set into a grim line.
"Hey, Jun," Renjun's eyes fall shut out of habit, a whimper almost falling from his lips as he clutches the snacks against his chest. It hurts a little too much to hear his nickname spill from the older male's lips, as if it's something that's completely natural between them when in fact, they're anything but familiar. They're like strangers at this point and Renjun is desperate to keep it that way.
Mark seems to have noticed his instinct reaction, the sadness flickering on his features before he clears his throat. "Sorry, I meant to say Renjun."
"Whatever." Renjun mutters, his eyes flutter open, gazing back at the other boy with his darkened orbs. There's still an invisible lump in his throat but he swallows it, ignoring the nervousness pooling in his stomach.
The awkward silence stretches between them as they both contemplate on what to say next. Renjun isn't sure there's anything that he can say to him — he spent all his energy actively ignoring anything related to Mark. Every appearance on the television, every newspaper clipping, every mention of his name from anyone, Renjun has made sure not to get reminded by him. He doesn't want to think about how Mark left them abruptly to join his boyfriend's band and what's worse is that his new band has been steadily rising to the top since the start. They're actively popular, compared to his previous band so Renjun is bitter that they've been discarded like they're worth nothing.
"I, uh," Mark clears his throat and taps his fingers on his own basket, his expression turning into an anxious one. "How are you doing?"
"So much better without you." Renjun snaps, his voice is filled with an unusual amount of venom and anger. He unknowingly squeezes one of the bags of chips in his arms, crushing them beneath his hold. "I'm honestly glad that you left the band."
Mark winces at his words and Renjun, as much as he wants to take them back and say that he's been doing horrible without Mark, doesn't do anything to help soothe the pain the other is feeling. He can't deal with the fact that Mark is doing wonderfully while Renjun is still spending long hours in the studio, writing songs until his fingers are aching from holding onto the sheets and his pencil. It's unfair — he can't wrap his head around it at all.
"Jun— fuck, I'm sorry." Mark lets out a curse under his breath at his slip of tongue, cheeks burning as he hangs his head low with his lips pursued into a thin line. "I'm so sorry, Renjun."
"You don't mean that." The bitterness is evident in his voice, dripping right at the edge of his tone as Renjun twists his lips into a scowl that feels awfully familiar to him already. "You're having so much fun with your band, right? You guys are much more popular already so honestly, don't give me that bullshit that you're sorry for leaving us in the dust."
"Renjun—" Mark's voice sounds strangled, like he's holding back the anger and regret lacing his words. But Renjun is already backing away, shaking his head abruptly with tears brimming his eyes. He hates this — he never meant to bump into Mark and now that he's seen him again, his chest is constricting with so much pain.
"Hey, Huang, look! They have my favorite—" Jeno pops in, holding two more bags of chips in his arms. He looks pleasantly excited for the first time in a while but the expression falls from his face, replacing it with his eyebrows furrowing in worry. His gaze flickers from Renjun to Mark, quietly assessing the tense atmosphere between them before he hesitantly speaks again.
"Jeno, let's go." Jeno raises a brow at the way Renjun mentioned his name, obviously not used to it. He stays rooted in his spot, fleeting gaze settling on Renjun before he stares at Mark with a scrutinizing look etched on his features.
"Jeno, come on." Renjun throws a pleading look right at his direction, the desperation traveling through his veins. Jeno must have sensed it since he finally softened up before he gives a subtle nod, putting away the snacks in his arms. He picks off the snacks out of Renjun's hold and drags him over to the glass doors again, fingers grasping the other's frail thin arm.
They walk down the sidewalk, the silence echoing between them. Jeno pockets his hands back in his coat whilst Renjun hangs his head low, blinking rapidly as he tries to still the erratic beating of his heart. He's furious and upset, the emotions that he's been trying to avoid for the past months have finally exploded deep within his body. He hates that he has to cross paths with Mark again — it's as if all his efforts to avoid him were nothing but mundane.
Jeno spares him a glance just when they finally arrive at the building of their studio. He holds out an arm right before Renjun can slip inside the building, a serious expression written all over his visage.
"What happened there?"
"It's none of your business." Renjun keeps his tone clipped, cold but Jeno doesn't back down easily. He looks alarmed and disturbed, as if he doesn't want to drop the topic at all. Renjun is infuriated because he's exhausted, even if it's still early in the morning, and he doesn't want to deal with Jeno's mind games for today.
"Don't call me that." Jeno's face falls at the sound of his words and Renjun wants to take it back. He wants to take everything that he has ever said to him but he remains shut, lips sewn close as he withdraws his gaze away from him. He can hear his heartbeat resonating within the confines of his chest due to the heavy silence blanketing over their bodies.
"Fine," Jeno answers and this time, he struggles to keep the anger and disappointment away from his voice. "I really thought that we were starting to be friends now. Disappointing." He blinks hastily before he drops his arm, choosing to move away and leave a huge distance between them. Renjun feels oddly cold without the warmth that usually radiates from Jeno's body but he doesn't say anything, refusing to speak about his feelings at all.
Jeno throws him a forlorn look and Renjun is taken aback at the hurt that streaked itself across the younger boy's features. They've always fought and argued but Jeno has never looked so hurt, so beaten down by Renjun's words before. There's so many emotions flashing through his dark orbs before they eventually faded away into nothingness as his lips set themselves into a grim line. He turns away from Renjun and he hurries past the glass doors, refusing to gaze back at the older boy.
Renjun doesn't know why in the world it hurts so much when Jeno never spared him another glance.
"Jun?" Jaemin quietly says, lightly hitting the cymbals with his drumsticks. Renjun glances up from his guitar, brows knitting themselves slightly as a frown crosses his features. He's been having a hard time concentrating these days and he's worn out already from spending too many nights in the studio, falling asleep whilst strumming his guitar and writing notes. The songs that he's been working on for so long has been lacking and he can't find the inspiration in his head anymore.
Jaemin visibly hesitates before he tugs on his chair, standing up to cross the distance between them. He gingerly takes up the empty spot right next to the older boy, a flicker of worry buried in his dark brown orbs.
"The management is demanding the three songs that you've been working on for the past months." Jaemin heaves a sigh, hanging his head as his shoes scruff against the floor. "They're the last songs for the album and they said that if you don't hand them over soon, they're going to take over the production of the album."
Renjun stiffens up at the news handed to him, a sigh of frustration spilling from his lips. He nearly loses his secure grip on his guitar, letting it gently lay against its case before he casts a withering look at the drummer.
"They're going to ruin our sound if they do that."
"I know," Jaemin leans over to clasp his hand over Renjun's shaking fingers, gently grasping them in a comfortable grip. "I know you're having a hard time these days but if you need help, I'll be here, okay?"
Renjun manages a weak smile before it fades away completely, a frown replacing it afterwards. "Thanks but I'll be fine."
"You sure?" The older boy only shrugs his shoulders lightly, removing his hand away from Jaemin's warm hold before he slips his hands in the pockets of his dark jeans.
"Of course I am."
The conversation gets cut off when the door swings open. Donghyuck steps in, warming up his vocals whilst Jeno trails behind him, a scowl already imprinted on his features. Their gazes lock with each other's and Renjun finds the edges of his lips curling downwards to mirror the expression painted on his visage.
"The break has been over since ten minutes ago. Where did you two disappear to?"
Donghyuck halts his vocal exercises, his expression morphing to resemble shamefulness as he rubs the nape of his neck with his hand. "Sorry, we got lost."
"What?" Renjun questions out loud, brows furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean you got lost?"
Donghyuck casts a knowing glance at Jeno, who only frowns at him in response. The curly haired boy heaves a deep sigh, turning back to Renjun with his nose wrinkling just the slightest.
"We were just looking for the new café that Jen found on the internet."
"Oh, would you look at that?" The sarcasm drips from the corners of Renjun's voice, a snarl written on his lips. "I didn't know that practice is less important to you now, Lee Jeno."
"It's only 10 minutes. Stop acting as if we were gone for hours already." Jeno rolls his eyes and Renjun narrows his eyes at him in an icy glare. Renjun is about to rise from his chair, hands curled into fists when Jaemin tugs on his shirt, shaking his head with a stern glare directed at the older boy.
"No, don't." Renjun snatches his shirt away from Jaemin's grip, glaring straight at Jeno. He keeps his hands balled up into fists, barely able to hold himself back from screaming his head off at the other boy. "We can't let this asshole get away with everything he does! He's always acting as if we need to excuse him every single time because what, he's new? He knows how to play the electric guitar? Oh, for god's sake, we can get anyone else if that's the case!"
"Jesus Christ, Huang, you need to get a hold of yourself and control your damn emotions. You're always getting mad at me when I didn't even do anything wrong!" Jeno raises his voice, the rage is evident in his tone before he drops it into a harsh whisper. "Maybe this is why Mark left your band in the first place. Who would want to deal with such a controlling asshole like you?"
The quietude resounds too loudly that Jeno is stunned at the reactions he gouged right out of them. Donghyuck and Jaemin are both caught off guard at the words that left Jeno's lips, their eyes widening in shock as they exchange quick looks. Renjun stares at him in disbelief before he blinks rapidly, the pain briefly writing itself in his expression before his voice turns completely cold.
"Practice is over for today." He stands from his chair, nearly knocking over the table but he manages to avoid it narrowly. Donghyuck flashes a worried glance at him, reaching out to hold onto the sleeve of his shirt.
"Hey, Injun, come on."
"No," Renjun is obviously struggling to keep his voice intact and not break down in front of everyone. His fingers twitch slightly before he steps away, gaze fixating itself on the floor. "We're done for today. Go home."
He passes by Jeno on the way to the door and his heart falls out of control when he sees the guilt written on Jeno's features. But he ignores it, fleeting past him as he snatches up his guitar, the music sheets, and his pencil. He hurries out of the studio, pointedly ignoring the yells of his bandmates echoing right behind him.
He can't deal with this. He really can't.
The cold air wraps him up in a freezing embrace but even then, it's a refreshing change compared to the stuffy studio. He has always liked going to the rooftop of the building to stargaze, lose himself in the constellations dotting the night sky. Tonight is not an exception at all.
He leans against the railing, a wave of calmness crashing deep within his bones as he gazes down on the apartments and buildings dotting the street. The city is still alive late at night and the lights are breathtakingly beautiful, enough to make him drunk at the sight of them. He tears his stare away from them, glancing up at the star-drunk skies and his head spins, overwhelmed by the beauty.
It's been too long since he took a breather and a step back. His life has been falling apart and he doesn't know what to do anymore; the only thing that he could think of is climbing up the abandoned stairway and locking himself up here. The last time he was here, he was lying on his back, laughter spilling from his lips as Mark talked to him about his day. They used to be so close, almost inseparable, but everything gradually tore itself apart when Mark pulled him in the studio and quietly told him he was quitting. It hurt so much back then and it still hurts until now.
No, stop thinking about him. Renjun heaves a sigh, eyes falling shut as another blast of cold air slips him into an embrace. It's not worth it anymore.
He pursues his lips as his eyes slowly open, exposing himself to the night sky hanging over his head. It's oddly quiet and Renjun is grateful that Donghyuck and Jaemin aren't bombarding his phone with texts, asking him where he ended up at. They know that Renjun can handle himself fine and that he always comes back, no matter what — all he's asking for is enough space to breathe and think.
The sadness slips through Renjun's veins when the memory of the guilty expression written on Jeno's visage rings in his head. It's so clear in his mind — the crestfallen expression, the sadness etched in the brown specks of his orbs, the frown painted across his lips as he hung his head.
Renjun is also ashamed for losing his cool right in front of everyone. Ever since Mark left, Renjun willingly stepped up since he felt the responsibility rest on his shoulders; he felt like he needed to be someone that everyone will depend on since he's the oldest and he was the closest to Mark. He's been strict on himself for so long that seeing Jeno step up and break through his walls so easily like that, it frightened him.
He knew that he had always been a little too hard on Jeno, always getting mad at him for the smallest things. Maybe Donghyuck was right — maybe it's because he's been building up his anger for so long and Jeno is simply just there for him to criticize since he's new.
"What kind of leader am I?" Renjun whispers, voice rough at the edges as he rests his face in his palm. He's exhausted and he wants to tell anyone about this but he can't find in himself to vent — he doesn't want to bother his bandmates with his thoughts.
He's too busy drowning himself in his own words and thoughts that he fails to hear the gentle creak of the door. It's only the sound of the boots against the concrete floor that Renjun braves himself to raise his head, gaze flickering over to the intruder. He's caught breathless at the sight of Jeno standing right in front of the doorway; his hair is dyed back to black and his features made him look sharper than ever. He's breathtaking and even Renjun could never deny that.
"Hey." Jeno is wearing a leather jacket and he has one of his hands buried in the pocket of his ripped jeans. Renjun can't help but arch an eyebrow at his choice of outfit in this cold weather but he keeps his thoughts to himself nevertheless.
"Hey," Renjun stares at him for a heartbeat too long, speaking lowly afterwards. "What are you doing here?"
There's a slight tug on one of the corners of the younger male's lips, showcasing a half smile before he crosses the distance between them. Renjun eyes the chocolate bar in Jeno's hand, his mouth aching to get a taste of the sweet treat.
"Here." Jeno keeps his distance between them, reaching out to slide the chocolate over to Renjun. The older boy is reluctant in accepting it but he gives in, plucking it out of his hold before his eyes flicker over to the treat to read the details on the wrapper.
"Dark chocolate? I don't really like that." Renjun says out loud before he catches himself, cheeks turning flushed in embarrassment. Jeno, instead of getting offended, only snickers in reply, easily stepping close until there's only a few inches of space between them.
"You're welcome, Huang." Renjun couldn't help but burst into a quiet laughter, shaking his head before he casts a quick glance at Jeno. The younger boy is staring back at him with a fond smile drawn across his lips and Renjun hurriedly averts his attention elsewhere else, his cheeks dusted with pink tint.
The silence echoes between them as they enjoy the night view of the city below — it's surprisingly calming, considering how they were fighting hours ago. Renjun has never expected that Jeno would find out where he is, much less swing by to check out how he's doing but the thought of him doing that is enough to cause a wild fluttering in Renjun's chest.
"How did you find out where I am?"
Jeno falters, his teeth sinking right onto his plush bottom lip, contemplating on his words as he gazes right out at the cars crossing the streets below. "I saw you climbing up the stairway a while ago with your guitar."
Renjun only nods his head, accepting the explanation easily. The quietude resonates once again for a short moment before Jeno breaks it, his voice low and filled with regret and hesitation.
Renjun turns his attention to him and he sees Jeno has his gaze settled on the railing. His hands are gripping it tightly, so tightly that his knuckles are turning white already due to the hold. The older boy stays silent, waiting for him to continue speaking so Jeno takes it as a cue to talk again.
"I'm sorry for saying that a while ago. I know Mark," Jeno pauses and he cringes, face scrunching up to show his displeasure at his behavior before his stare switches to Renjun for a heartbeat. "His leave is a touchy subject for you. Well, not just for you but for everyone too, you know?" A sigh spills from his lips and he ends up loosening his grip on the metallic railing. "I would take back all of those words I said, if I could. I'm really sorry."
"Is the chocolate your peace offering?" Jeno can't stop himself from cracking a smile at the playful tone that Renjun adapted in his voice, a laugh falling from his lips.
"Well, apology not accepted." Renjun finds himself taking a step closer until their arms are pressed up against each other comfortably. Jeno catches his eyes and Renjun curls his lips into a mischievous smile right after. "Not until you buy me some milk chocolate instead."
The laugh that escapes Jeno's mouth is so melodious that Renjun can hear the way his heart fell out of control beneath his rib cage, beating wildly. He doesn't try to still the erratic beating of his heart this time nor stop the way his lips curve upwards into a familiar grin.
"Okay, that's a deal." Jeno mirrors the smile written on his features before the expression falls from his visage as a worried frown appears on his lips. "Can I ask you something?"
"Sure. What is it?"
Jeno wavers at that, his gaze fixating itself back on the railing as he speaks in a quieter tone again.
"What happened to you and Mark?"
Renjun halts at his words, barely able to conceal the surprise and the hurt writing themselves on his features. Jeno must have seen it because he reaches out fast, fingers grasping his sleeve as if to keep him close. They're both caught off guard and Jeno hurriedly pulls away, cheeks burning as he stares at the ledge, coughing to will away the blush. Renjun blinks rapidly, unable to stop the red tint from coloring itself on his cheeks.
"Sorry," Jeno finally responds after a moment, voice soft and filled with hesitation. "You don't have to tell me if you're uncomfortable about it."
"It's fine." Renjun pauses before he lets his fingers press up against Jeno's warm hand. He aches to slip them in between the empty spaces of Jeno's hand but he stops himself, greedily indulging himself in the comforting and familiar presence of the other boy.
"Mark has been around since we first formed this band. Even if he was close to all of us, I was the closest one to him. I often accompanied him here, writing songs and laughing over everything and nothing." A fond smile lingers on Renjun's lips as the memories smoothly play in his head, like a pretty film. If he could, his eyes would fall shut and he would be able to imagine everything, as if these memories only happened yesterday.
"We were... inseparable, you know? We spent so much time together and in between all those fights and laughs we shared," Renjun falters at that, teeth catching onto his bottom lip. He doesn't know how to say the words lying on the tip of his tongue but it seems that Jeno caught onto it easily.
"You fell for him." There's a quiet sadness hidden underneath the gentleness in Jeno's voice. Renjun isn't sure if he's only imagining it so he dismisses it without a second thought going through his head.
"I did." He emits a humorless laugh, heaving a shaky sigh. Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes and he scolds himself quietly, hurriedly wiping them before they decide to slide down the curves of his cheeks. "I fell pretty hard for him. But it didn't matter since I never confessed my feelings to him."
"Why didn't you confess?"
Renjun isn't used to anyone asking so many questions since he always found them too nosy. But Jeno is far from that — he's only genuinely curious about what happened to them. Besides, Jeno has become more of a familiar presence to him and for some reason, Renjun feels compelled to tell him everything.
"I was afraid that I might get rejected and ruin our friendship." Renjun waves his hand dismissively, the corners of his lips tugging into a saddened smile. "Doesn't matter now, anyway. He left to join 07:01 as their guitarist and coincidentally, his boyfriend and the band's drummer, Yukhei, is there too." His voice is dripping with bitterness once again as he turns to glance at Jeno with his dark eyes boring right onto him.
"I just thought that he would always be by my side, you know? We've been through so much and I thought it would be enough for him to keep us close." Renjun takes a deep breath and his eyes flutter shut, letting the darkness cloud his vision easily. "I'm such an idiot."
"If we were arguing senselessly, I would agree with you." They both crack a smile at Jeno's words. The younger boy lets his eyes flicker up to the night sky, admiring the stars trailing across the vastness of it. "But I don't think you're an idiot. It's natural to feel betrayed after what happened."
Jeno falls into a hushed tone before he starts talking again, gentle and soft. "No wonder you were so tough with me. Must be hard to see me around since I took Mark's spot, isn't it?"
"I'm sorry," Renjun responds instead, his eyes downcast before he peers at Jeno with a guilt-filled gaze directed right at him. "I know it isn't your fault. I just couldn't stop myself."
Jeno elicits a lighthearted laugh before he finally meets Renjun's eyes, letting his gaze drop to their hands pressed at the side. He allows his fingers to slip through the empty spaces of Renjun's hand, gently squeezing it in his hold. Renjun ignores the way his heart skips a beat at the skin contact between them.
"It's all right," Jeno's thumb grazes along his knuckles and for a moment, Renjun is sure that the breath is knocked right out his lungs. "I've always known that you're the one I needed to impress the most."
Jeno easily curves his lips into a flirtatious smirk, arching a brow at the older male. Renjun is caught off guard at how fast Jeno's expression changes, not giving him enough time to will down the blush on his cheeks. Jeno tilts his head, his fingers lightly squeezing Renjun's hand once again. "Why did you think that I kept trying to talk to you, flirting with you every second even if you were cursing at me?"
"You only did that to impress me?" Renjun's face falls and he doesn't know why in the world he can feel his heart crack just the slightest. Jeno gazes at him intently before his features eventually soften as he glances down at their entwined fingers.
"At first, yes. I wanted you to be cool with me joining the band. But I saw how hard you worked and how you helped everyone, I was impressed. I kept hanging around you and I don't know," Jeno shrugs his shoulders, a smile playing on his lips. "I wanted to be someone that you can depend on and someone that you can talk to whenever you want."
"If you weren't such an annoying asshole, maybe I wouldn't be cursing at you all the time." Renjun jokes, his voice light and even as a laugh spills from his lips. Jeno only crinkles his nose at him before he curves his lips into a familiar curve of a grin.
"You're the asshole."
"Shut up, Lee."
Jeno only bursts into a fit of chuckles in response to that, shaking his head. They fall into a comfortable silence, the echo of the cars crossing the streets and the busy nightlife going through below them feels almost like home to the both of them. Jeno shifts slightly until their bodies are comfortably pressed against each other and he tightens his grip on Renjun's hand.
"Can I ask you something?"
Renjun spares him a glance before he nods his head subtly. "Go ahead."
"Do you still like Mark?"
It doesn't even take Renjun another heartbeat before he shakes his head firmly. His lips are curled into a reassuring smile as Renjun meets his eyes, letting their gazes lock on each other.
"Not anymore. I mean, all I feel for him now is still that same bitterness of him leaving us and probably regret for speaking so harshly to him. But nothing else."
"Really?" Jeno appears skeptical and Renjun raises a brow at his suspicious behavior.
"Really." He confirms it with a nod of his head again before he squints his eyes right at his direction. "Why?"
Jeno stays speechless, only gazing right at the older boy. There's a flash of emotion that passes by too fast in the dark brown specks of his eyes and Renjun doesn't have time to decipher it. But he doesn't have to — he can see the way the corners of Jeno's lips curl up into a smile for a split second before he drops his stare to their hands once more.
"I'm a little jealous because I thought you were still giving that kind of attention to Mark, even if he's not around here anymore."
Renjun knits his eyebrows, bewildered and unsure before he murmurs in a low tone. "What do you mean? I'm giving you my attention now, aren't I?"
"Not the kind of attention that I want."
The reticence stretches long between them as Renjun's heart gets stuck in his throat. His breath is stolen away from his lungs and he can feel his chest constricting slightly. The realization dawns on the older boy and the blush rises to his cheeks, coloring them in deep red as he averts his eyes somewhere, anywhere else than on the hopeful expression on Jeno's visage. Even if he knows what the other boy means, he finds himself uttering the question, anyway.
"What kind of attention do you want?"
Renjun has always prided himself in being strong and steady. Even if at times when his emotions catch up to him, he has learned how to bury them deep within his chest, ignoring the way they would threaten to burst at any moment. But he's knocked out breathless with shaking knees when Jeno gently turns him around.
Jeno is gazing down at him with his dark orbs and somehow, as Renjun stares a little longer, he can see the stars hidden beneath them. There's a certain spark in his eyes that appears so mesmerizing for the older male — he doesn't know why but he feels drawn closer to him. Like, there's a string that's pulling him in and drowning him out in a endless stretch of thoughts.
"I want your attention on me." Jeno's fingers slip out of Renjun's grasp before he decidedly slides his arms around the other boy's lithe waist. Renjun can feel his heart going into a complete wreckage, ruining itself beneath his ribcage as his fingers naturally find themselves holding onto Jeno's shoulders for support.
"I want your eyes on me only. I want you to be able to look at me like how you used to look at Mark."
"What?" Renjun falters, voice slipping into a breathless whisper. He struggles to lift his gaze but when Jeno gently rests his forehead against his, he easily locks gazes with the taller male. A glint of amusement flashes through Jeno's eyes but even then, Renjun can clearly see the worry that he's trying too hard to bury deep within him. He feels the urge to chase away any worry that Jeno is feeling as of the moment between them.
"I wish you liked me back."
His throat closes up as the surprise seizes his entire body. His heart stills before it falls right out of his chest, flying straight down to his feet in a careless manner. He doesn't know what to think. He doesn't want to think about anything right now.
"We shouldn't do this." Renjun murmurs, eyes dropping to Jeno's rosy pair. There's a strong urge to push himself close to him and let their lips crash against each other but he holds himself back in time. Jeno snickers in reply, the edges of his lips curved upwards to form a knowing smirk.
"I know." He says with a sense of finality at first before he speaks again, eyes bright with mischief. "I thought you've always been the type to break the rules and do what your heart tells you to do."
"Then what's holding you back?"
Renjun parts his lips, ready to say I don't like you but he falls silent instead. He knows that isn't true at all — he has always been attracted to the other boy ever since Jeno stepped right into the studio, messy blond hair falling over his eyes and a bright smile gracing his lips. He was already attracted when Jeno expertly played the electric guitar, lithe fingers strumming the strings and he easily fits in the style of their band. He has always been attracted to him ever since Jeno introduced himself with a sweet smile, their eyes meeting easily.
Maybe he doesn't hate Jeno. Hell, he doesn't even dislike him anymore. Maybe he liked him ever since they first crossed paths months ago and he mistook it as a burning hatred for the other boy since he replaced Mark. Jeno is hard not to love, anyway — it's incredibly easy to like him and Renjun's attempts not to fall for the boy's charming self is futile.
He doesn't hate Jeno. Even if his feelings are tangled as of the moment, he thinks he might like Jeno.
"Nothing." He breathes out shakily and he wrap his arms around his neck securely. Jeno must have not expecting his reply because he can see the streak of surprise across his features before a smile curls on his lips, eyes crinkling. He feels a gentle squeeze around his waist and his heart flutters lightly at the contact.
"Can I," Jeno pauses, suddenly losing his grip on his confidence. He looks conflicted, as if he's afraid that Renjun might reject him. Even if he never got to finish the question, Renjun catches the end of it without taking another second to think.
Can I kiss you?
"If I say yes, are you going to kiss me?"
"Yes." The reply comes fast and Renjun can't stop himself from cracking a smile.
He doesn't speak anymore; he only gently runs his fingers down to cup the younger boy's cheeks as lightly as he could. He lets himself get lost in the way Jeno's lashes softly kisses his cheeks every time they fall gently along the curves. He lets the darkness cloud his vision as his eyes fall shut, his breath getting stolen away once more.
He leans in close and he loses himself completely after that.
His lips crash against Jeno's, kissing him slowly and sensually. Jeno takes his time in responding to the kiss and Renjun can feel his heart falling into a wreckage at the way Jeno savors every moment. Their lips brush against each other before Jeno drops fleeting kisses on his rosy pair, teeth playfully catching onto Renjun's lower lip. His teeth sinks right onto it, grazing along it before his tongue lightly flicks against the bottom lip.
Renjun whimpers right then and there and that's enough to fuel Jeno's desire to hold himself closer. Jeno's hands along his waist tighten their grip as he deepens the kiss. Renjun loses himself in the way their teeth clash against each other, tongues gently swirling around. His fingers eventually find purchase on Jeno's dark strands, tugging on them as he tries to keep up with the fast and rough pace of their lips pressed against each other.
The realization crashes somewhere deep inside Renjun and he breaks away abruptly, catching his breath. Both of their eyes flutter open and Renjun can feel the heat traveling to his face when he sees how flushed Jeno is. There's a flicker of confusion in Jeno's dark orbs when Renjun hastily backs away, his heart beating out of control within the confines of his chest.
"No, I," Renjun takes one last glance at him before he turns on his heel, hurriedly packing his guitar in his case, together with the music sheets and his pencil. He holds it against his chest, turning briefly to face the other boy, surveying the obvious puzzlement written on his expression.
"I'm sorry, we can't do this." Renjun shakes his head, letting his gaze fall to the ground instead. "I need to go."
Renjun didn't hear the rest of his words as he swiftly runs out of the door, careful not to trip down the dark staircase as he listens to the fast heartbeat resonating in his rib cage. He never stops running, weaving through the still busy sidewalks, mumbling apologies whenever he bumps against another person.
He hurries all the way to his apartment, legs aching so badly once he shuts the door of his bedroom. He falls right into his bed and he curls up on the sheets, eyes falling shut as he heaves a shaky sigh. He lays there like that until the world finally grants him the sleep that he thinks he deserves, his body shivering because of the cold air.
He messed up.
He fucking messed up again.
The vinyl record shop is empty with the exception of Renjun, Donghyuck, and a few other customers roaming around. The lights hang over them are brightly lit and Renjun tries not to stare too much at them, his eyes narrowing slightly. Donghyuck eagerly skips through the aisles of records, fingers brushing against the covers.
"Does your cousin still work here?" Donghyuck asks as soon as Renjun manages to catch up to him, his legs shaking slightly. Even when he rested after running all the way from the studio to his apartment, he can still feel the exhaustion burrowing itself through his bones. He doesn't bother to bring it up to Donghyuck and Jaemin about what happened — these are one of the few things that Renjun would gladly keep them in the dark from. Renjun can't see the reason why the two would need to know that Jeno and him made out on the rooftop.
For goodness' sake, even the thought of Jeno is enough to send shivers down his spine. The anxiety resides at the bottom of his stomach and he can't shake it off at all. He can't ignore the impending feeling that he made a serious mistake when he pulled back that night and ran away without another word spoken to the dark haired boy. He knows that he owes Jeno an explanation but he doesn't know what kind of explanation he should present.
"Hello, Injun? Are you still there?"
"Huh?" Renjun snaps out of his train of thoughts, gazing at Donghyuck with knitted brows. Donghyuck waves a hand in front of his face before he snaps his fingers, tongue clicking against the roof of his mouth in annoyance.
"I asked if Chenle still works here."
"Why would Lele work here? His parents own the place, you know."
"He did work here, together with his boyfriend Jisung, right?" Donghyuck says it gently, drawing them past his lips before he finally crosses his arms and drops the vinyl record back in the shelf. "What's wrong? You're distracted right now."
"I'm not." Renjun runs a hand down the side of his face, frowning deeply. "I swear, I'm fine."
"You're nowhere near fine, Injun. Stop giving me that same lame excuse." Donghyuck drags the word nowhere and Renjun can find his frown deepening, the emotion building up inside of him. He wants to deny it, drag out the lie even more but he knows that Donghyuck will drawl out the answer from him at the end of the day.
Why delay the inevitable when you can do it now?
Renjun pockets his hands in his dark jeans, ignoring Donghyuck's intense gaze on him as he stares down on the floor. "Jeno and I made out."
"What?" Donghyuck squeaks out. The disbelief is present underneath the layers of his voice as he grabs hold of Renjun's shoulders, giving them a squeeze. The older boy lets out a gasp and the heat floods his cheeks, painting them in a red tint.
"You did what?"
"I made out with Jeno, okay!" He struggles to push Donghyuck's fingers off his shoulder, hanging his head low to hide the way his face is turning flushed in embarrassment. Donghyuck gazes at him, blinking rapidly before he rubs his cheek with a loud sigh falling from his lips. His stare eventually fixates itself on Renjun, narrowing his eyes slightly.
"So you, Huang Renjun," He jabs a finger right on Renjun's chest, arching a brow right at him. "You really made out with the boy that you hate so much?"
"I," Renjun falters at that, averting his attention elsewhere as his teeth sinks onto his bottom lip, "I don't hate him."
"Are you serious?" Renjun finally lifts his gaze from the floor, staring at the other boy, unamused. Donghyuck hurriedly holds out his hands against his chest defensively, flashing a sheepish smile at his direction. "I mean, I knew that. I was just surprised since you finally admitted it."
"I don't know what to do." Renjun groans, burying his face in his hands. The frustration runs through his veins and courses through his entire body, his stomach churning uncomfortably. He's not used to experiencing these kind of feelings, much less confront them and actually talk about them. It makes him want to completely shut down and ignore the way his heart wrecks itself within his rib cage.
Donghyuck coos at him, reaching out to wrap an arm around his shoulder in a comforting grip. Renjun ends up with his head peacefully laying against the other boy's shoulder, a sigh spilling from his lips.
"Don't worry, I'm sure that you'll be able to figure this out." Donghyuck pauses, crinkling his nose before he rakes his fingers through Renjun's dark strands in a soothing manner. "But if it helps, I feel like you do like him."
"You think so?" Renjun murmurs, the pink dusting itself across the curves of his cheeks. Donghyuck takes notice of it, an echoing laugh falling from his lips as he ruffles Renjun's hair mischievously.
"I know so. I see the way you look at each other."
"Is it the same as how you and Nana look at each other?" Donghyuck splutters, face reddening. He looks beyond flustered and puzzled as Renjun arches a brow at him, a wide smile threatening to break out on his face.
"I—I don't know what you're talking about!"
"Sure, whatever you say." Renjun switches his voice into a singsong tone and he flashes a cheeky grin at the other boy. He hastily backs away, his laugh floating in the atmosphere as Donghyuck stares at him with flushed cheeks and his eyes wide in incredulity.
"Come back here, Huang Renjun!"
Renjun doesn't know how to talk to Jeno.
He spent too much of his energy avoiding the other boy for weeks now, his gaze flickering elsewhere whenever Jeno is in the same room as him. He takes the farthest seat away from him, head lowered so he doesn't have to see the confused and hurt glances that the dark haired boy is throwing right at him. Whenever practice is over, he's first one to run out of the studio, hauling up his things without glancing back at his bandmates — he can't simply risk being with him for too long.
But he should have known that Jeno is never the type to back down so easily.
"Hey, Injun. Remember that we'll be looking over the set list tomorrow for the concert two weeks from now. Can you believe they gave us nearly 30 minutes for our performance?" Jaemin cheerily greets him, distracting him from writing notes on his notebook. Renjun tousles his newly dyed hair — a shade of dark brown that he picked out. Donghyuck called him boring when he got it dyed at the salon hours ago but he only pushed him right out of the place, making the younger boy wait until he's done.
"Huh? Yeah," A yawn draws past Renjun's lips as he rubs the sleep out of his eyes with his fists. "I was shocked too. I thought we'll only get less than that."
"I know! I mean, we're already lucky that we got invited in one of the biggest band concerts for this year but holy shit, I could never imagine that we'd have that long."
Renjun can't help but crack a smile at the eagerness written all over Jaemin's visage and the lilt of excitement brightly lit in his voice. He knows that this is a huge deal for their careers — somehow, their management is acing their part of the deal of promoting them properly. Everyone is hyped up and anticipating their release and the thought of it is enough for Renjun to drown himself in the feelings of pure excitement and nervousness.
He knows they've worked hard but he's nervous for the public's response to their music overall. Still, he couldn't showcase his panic and the anxious thoughts residing in his head — he wants to be someone that his bandmates would be able to depend on and right now, they're all coming to him to be reassured. He's never been good at comforting them but being around them and saying over and over that it'll be all right, we got this is enough for them to loosen their grip on their own stress and uneasiness.
"We really got lucky now, yeah?" Jaemin emits a lighthearted laugh and reaches over to gently pat the older boy's shoulder.
"Sure, luck is great and all that but all of us worked hard, especially you. You've produced a lot of great songs for the album and I have no doubt that they'll enjoy it." Renjun flashes a grateful smile at his friend, the knots in his shoulders loosening as he finally relaxes. Even if he never says it out loud, he has always been thankful for his bandmates for being around to reassure him as well, even if he never shows that he needs it too.
"Thanks, Jaem. I'll see you tomorrow?"
Jaemin gives him a subtle nod of his head, a bright smile painted across his features as his eyes crinkle in happiness. They bid each other goodbye and as soon as the door of the studio clicks shut, the silence reverberates everywhere. Renjun drowns himself in his thoughts, jotting down more notes on his notebook before he hears the click of the door once again.
"Hey, Nana, I thought you were going home—"
"Hey, Huang." The familiarity of the younger boy's voice catches him off guard. His fingers still from writing, gaze settling on the words written out as he tries to concentrate on them but he loses his grip on his focus. He finally lifts his eyes and the breath is caught in his throat when he sees Jeno standing right by the door, dark hair styled up.
He's wearing a dark blue shirt with a minimalistic design of shapes strewn across the front. His black ripped pants hug his legs nicely and his sneakers knock against the polished floor as he walks over to Renjun's spot, crossing the distance easily with a few large strides. Renjun is rendered speechless when he sees the piercings decorating both of Jeno's ears. The light hits them and his piercings seem to glisten against his unblemished skin.
"What are you doing here?" Renjun struggles to keep his voice even and smooth as he tries not to focus on how attractive Jeno looks like with that infuriating smirk written across his lips.
"What are you doing here?" Jeno tilts his head, his fingers tapping against the desk. "Practice ended hours ago."
"I wanted time for myself." He throws the explanation with a defensive tone, eyes widening. He clears his throat as he grows self-conscious of the way Jeno is staring down right on him. "What about you?"
Renjun can see the way Jeno's features slowly soften and for a second, he looks much younger. He looks afraid, nervous and Renjun isn't all that used to witnessing the flicker of change of emotions drawn out on Jeno's face.
"You keep on avoiding me." Jeno's voice drops into a whisper as he locks his gaze with Renjun's, the sadness evident in his dark orbs. "Are we just going to ignore what happened to us weeks ago?"
Renjun is tempted to play dumb and act as if he forgot about it. Or even act as if he doesn't care about the fact that he made out with Jeno on the rooftop.
But it's difficult to do that when it's all he could think about — the way the stars hidden in Jeno's dark orbs seemed to light up in delight when they exchanged laughs that night. The way Jeno held him delicately, a shocking difference as compared to his rough exterior and behavior towards Renjun. The way Renjun easily loosened his grip on himself when their lips crashed in that breathtaking kiss; he knew that he could do that over and over again with Jeno, if he wasn't so terrified about his feelings for Jeno.
"I," Renjun grips the edge of the table so tightly that his knuckles turned white before he eventually loosens it with a sigh. "We should talk about it, don't we?"
Jeno offers an uncertain smile at him and Renjun lets his eyes rest on the empty chair right beside him. He gently pats it and the dark haired boy willingly takes it, moving around the table before he settles right on the chair. They fall into an awkward, uncomfortable silence — the words that were lying on the tip of their tongues a moment ago have long since left them.
Jeno heaves a frustrated sigh, turning his body to give his entire attention to Renjun. "I... don't know what to say."
"Me too." Renjun admits out loud, a little ashamed but mostly relieved. He really doesn't know how to talk about what happened to them; even the thought of being forced to confront his feelings is enough to make him feel lightheaded and dizzy. His fingers won't stop twitching, aching to hold onto something, anything so he reaches over to let his fingers entwine with Jeno's. The younger boy jolts in surprise at the warmth traveling through their hands but a smile easily takes over his features, cheeks flushed.
"So, does this mean," Jeno gently brushes his thumb against Renjun's knuckles again, a glint of playfulness in his eyes. "You don't hate me?"
"Why would I hate you?" Renjun arches a brow at him inquisitively, seemingly curious as he leans close and invades Jeno's personal space. Jeno holds himself back from allowing the corners of his lips into a smile, tightening his grip on Renjun's slender fingers.
"Because I thought you didn't like the kiss."
"I loved it!" Renjun squeaks out before he pauses, the heat traveling up to paint his cheeks in a red tint. "I, I mean, I liked it."
"You didn't hate it?" Jeno questions, a flash of amusement appearing his brown orbs as Renjun slowly shakes his head, unable to will down the blush painting itself across the curves of his cheeks.
"No, I really liked it." He draws the words past his lips, hanging his head low as his teeth grazes along his lower lip, trying not to break out into a smile. Jeno elicits a sweet laugh at his response and Renjun can no longer stop his heart from skyrocketing right out his chest, ruin itself into a complete wreckage. He doesn't mind it at all though.
"Good. Because I really liked kissing you too." Jeno leans in close and Renjun is caught breathless when he realizes how close they are — just a few more inches and he would relive that kiss all over again. Jeno lets his eyes flicker down to his rosy lips before a small smile curls right on his mouth.
"If I said that I wanted to kiss you again, would you let me do it again?"
"Yes." This time, his answer is instantaneous, as if he didn't need another second to think about it. He sounds so sure of it and that's enough for Jeno to break out into a wide smile, his cheeks heating up as a flustered expression settles on his visage. Jeno uses his free hand to gently cup Renjun's cheek, the pads of his fingers grazing along the curve of it very lightly.
"Do you know how hard it is not to kiss you every second of the day?" Jeno drops his voice into a barely inaudible whisper, his eyes easily meeting Renjun's in a snap. "It's even more difficult when we practice. Do you even know how attractive you are when you play the bass and when you sing?"
Renjun, as much as he's begging to search for a witty response to Jeno's words, finds himself speechless instead. The breath is stolen right away from his lungs and it takes everything in him not to lean in close and just capture Jeno's lips in a dizzyingly sweet kiss.
"You're flustered." Jeno says it as a matter of fact as he drops his hand from Renjun's cheek, a knowing smirk curved on his lips. "Cute."
"I'm not." Renjun grumbles, twisting his lips into a scowl but it falls right off his face when Jeno suddenly leans in, dropping a kiss on his forehead. His heartbeat echoes all too loudly in his chest and he can't find his voice anymore. He stares up at Jeno with his face heating up, incredibly flustered at the unexpected affectionate manner with a hint of a smile written on the edges of his mouth.
"What do you feel about me?" There it is again, the subtle fear passing through Jeno's expression. It only flickers for a second before it vanishes but the fact still remains after all — he's afraid of Renjun rejecting him even after everything they've talked about.
Renjun heaves a sigh and he leans in close, letting his head rest against the other boy's shoulder. The shirt Jeno is wearing is thin so he can feel his skin, the warmth radiating from it wraps him up in a comforting feeling. As much as he wants to lie through his teeth, he doesn't want to possibly bring up Jeno's hopes then mercilessly crush them a moment ago.
Oh god, Renjun wants to laugh out loud. He's gone all soft for Jeno when nearly a month ago, he was determined to crush him without a second thought. All because he doesn't want to let Jeno break down his walls.
"I really don't know," Renjun quietly admits, eyes fixating itself on their entwined hands resting against the wooden surface of the table. "I mean, I think I like you? But I need more time to think about it."
They both let the silence stretch between them for so long that Renjun is almost afraid to gaze at the dark haired boy again. Jeno sets his lips into a straight line before a sigh falls from his pair, nodding his head in understanding. He casts a quick glance at Renjun and his features soften as a smile curls on his mouth.
"I understand." He gives Renjun's fingers a small squeeze before he hesitantly pulls his hand away from his grip. Renjun tries to mask his hurt by plastering on a blank look but when Jeno flashes a smile at him, he couldn't help but mirror his expression after a moment.
"Well," Jeno rises up from his chair and faces Renjun with a tilt of his head, slipping his hands back in the pockets of his jeans. "Once you've made up your mind, you know where to find me, right?" With another curved smile writing itself across his features, he leaves his chair, rounding the table until he's right in front of the older boy again. Renjun leans against the table, eyeing Jeno for a long stretch of moment that the younger boy ends up shifting from one foot to another, clearly awkward.
"So, I guess we'll see—"
"What do you feel for me?" Renjun quietly cuts through his statement, rendering Jeno speechless. Jeno blinks rapidly, obviously taken aback by the question presented to him before a grin tugs on the corners of his lips; his smile is so wide that his eyes end up crinkling. He leans down until there's only a few inches of space between them and Renjun almost feels the instinct to back away. But he holds himself in place, his gaze piercing right through Jeno's own stare settling on him.
The moment the breath is taken away from his lungs, Jeno reaches forward to press his lips against his.
Renjun can feel his eyes flutter shut, letting the darkness surround his vision. His heart flutters gently beneath his ribcage and he can hear the soft echo of his heartbeat, a steady beat of thump, thump, thump. Jeno raises a hand, his fingers lightly caress the curve of his cheek before they sift through his brown strands, softly tugging on them. Renjun gasps at the contact as Jeno's teeth playfully sinks down onto his bottom lip, tugging on it gently before he pulls away with one last kiss pressed against his rosy pair.
"I think you have your answer now."
The smile that Jeno flashes right at his direction is absolutely breathtaking, so perfect that Renjun momentarily gets lost in the beauty that it holds. Jeno raises a hand again to give him another wave before he pockets it once more, turning on his heel. Renjun stares at his back, dazed, as he watches him walk straight out of the studio without sparing him another glance. As soon as he steps out and the click of the lock resonates within the room, Renjun ends up letting out a shaky exhale. He buries his burning face in his palms, the smile still lingering at the edges of his mouth.
For the rest of the night, all he hears is the echo of his heartbeat as his lips stay curved into a bright smile.
"Holy shit," Donghyuck tugs on his jacket, gazing around their waiting room. The room is large enough to fit the four of them — its sleek and modern style gives off a minimalistic and clean vibe. It's exactly the kind of style that fits with Renjun, seeing how he's been usually surrounded by the mess in the studio so seeing a place that's far from that pleases his eyes.
"I can't believe we're actually here." Jaemin marvels over the interior design, gripping his drum sticks before he ends up plopping right down on the black couch set up at the other end. Renjun runs his fingers through his brown strands before he hastily fixes them at the nearby mirror. He moves the fringe to the side, lips pursued before a smile finally tugs at the corners once he's satisfied with his own work. He unknowingly lets his fingers linger around the choker he's wearing, not entirely used to it but Jaemin and Donghyuck eagerly told him that it fits his entire look.
"It's so nice here." Jeno steps right inside the room, surveying the area with amazement lit up in his dark orbs. The familiar sight of his dark leather jacket and his faded white shirt is enough for Renjun to feel his heart will fall right to his feet. He ends up staring at Jeno for too long that Jaemin has to cough exaggeratedly, a mischievous smile painted across his lips when Renjun turns his attention to him with burning cheeks.
"Do you like what you see, Injun?"
"Shut up." He hisses through his teeth, obviously flustered due to being caught red-handed. Jeno's attention is directed right at them and Renjun is beyond embarrassed that the blush hasn't faded from the curves of his cheeks.
"You look cute when you're flustered." Jeno echoes his words from weeks ago and it still has the same effect on Renjun. He tries to twist his lips into a scowl but he ends up failing, choosing to bury his face in his hands with frustrated groan. Jeno elicits a laugh at his reaction and Renjun listens to the sound of the soles of Jeno's boots hit the floor before he feels a pair of familiar arms pull him in for a breathtaking embrace.
"Don't be embarrassed."
"You're so annoying, Lee." Renjun grunts, pulling away from the embrace with a deep frown as he puts his hands away. Jeno isn't fazed at all over the way Renjun is scowling right at his direction, shrugging his shoulders. He ends up with his arm wrapped around Renjun's lithe waist, making the older boy gasp when Jeno abruptly pulls him close.
"Oh man," Donghyuck speaks up as he settles right next to Jaemin, an arm thrown over his boyfriend's shoulder. "I never knew I would see Injun and Jeno together like this."
"We're not together!" Renjun squeaks out, flustered but Jeno only ends up cooing at him, trapping him in his embrace.
"Aw, don't be like that, babe."
"I will fucking stomp on your feet if you don't let me go now, Lee."
"Still feisty, I like it." Jeno's eyes glimmer with playfulness as he drops his arm around Renjun's waist, choosing to slip his fingers through the empty spaces of his hand instead. He gives them a gentle squeeze before he tugs on Renjun's hand lightly, eyeing the door.
"Hey, Renjun and I will head out to grab some drinks. We'll be back!"
"Who said I'm coming with—" The rest of the words fall from Renjun's lips but he stops when Jeno bids the other two boys goodbye, leading the bassist right out of the waiting room. He gives a gentle squeeze to his hand and Renjun tries his hardest to still the catastrophic mess within his chest. His heart beats wildly as Jeno turns his head to flash a heart-fluttering smile at his direction.
"I wanted to get some alone time with you before we head up the stage later." Jeno explains, his voice dipping into a softer tone. He looks shy, flustered and Renjun couldn't help but break out into a fit of chuckles at the sight of the dark haired boy's cheeks.
"I never knew that someone as flirty and shameless as you would be the type to get shy every now and then."
Jeno rolls his eyes in response, wrinkling his nose. "You must be enjoying this, aren't you?"
"Oh, definitely." Renjun's lips curl themselves into a bright smile, teeth bared. He lets go of Jeno's hand, in favor of approaching a nearby vending machine, marveling over the canned drinks inside.
"Do you have money with you?"
"Of course I have to pay again." Jeno lets out an exaggerated sigh, pretending to curve his lips into a disappointed frown. Renjun playfully pinches on his cheek, making the other boy whine and complain about how much it hurts.
"You were the one who suggested that we'll get some drinks!"
"Fine, fine. You could have just said please."
"Please?" Jeno spares him a glance, his lips almost twitching into a smile. He hurriedly averts his attention elsewhere, coughing to distract the other boy from seeing the blush coloring itself along the curves of his cheeks. He busies himself with the vending machine instead, avoiding Renjun's cheeky smile directed at him.
"You need to stop making me flustered, Huang." The cans stumble out of the machine and Jeno retrieves them, handing one of them to Renjun. "You're going to be the reason why my heart's beating so fast again." Renjun almost loses his grip on the can, making sure to tighten his hold around the metallic container as he clears his throat. His teeth sinks onto his bottom lip, preventing himself from breaking into a wide smile as he lowers his head.
"You're such a flirt."
"You like it though."
"Unfortunately." Renjun emits a groan and Jeno elicits a laugh, reaching out to gently sift his fingers through Renjun's hair to part the strands, moving the fringe away. His arm eventually ends up resting on Renjun's shoulder and the bassist ends up sighing, leaning in to indulge himself in the warmth radiating off from Jeno.
They start their walk back to the waiting room, exchanging a laugh in between. As Renjun's eyes flicker away from Jeno, his breath unknowingly hitches and his heart jumps to his throat. He halts his feet from moving, making Jeno cast a look of confusion at him, eyebrows furrowing. As Jeno parts his lips to ask a question, he hears the evident sound of someone clearing their throat right in front of them.
The mentioned male stiffens at the way his name slips past from Mark's lips. He averts his attention to the floor, wanting to feign ignorance and simply move past him but when Mark took a step forward, he flinches back. He ends up lifting his gaze from the ground and he finds Mark staring at him with so much conflicted emotions in his dark orbs; it's quite hard to avoid looking at him for too long.
"What is it?" His tone is clipped, cold and he keeps a blank expression drawn on his features. Mark uncomfortably shifts from one foot to another before he casts a quick glance at Jeno. He clears his throat before he meekly says, "Can we talk in private?"
Renjun can feel the way Jeno tenses up right beside him and he reaches out to grasp his jacket with his fingers. He hurriedly shakes his head right at Jeno's direction and slowly, he feels Jeno take a step back with his lips pursued into a grim line. The worry is hidden in the brown specks of his eyes so Renjun forces a smile to curl on his mouth, hoping to reassure the other boy.
Jeno appears conflicted for a moment before he surrenders at the end, giving a subtle nod at his direction. He moves past them, leaving Mark and Renjun basking in the awkward atmosphere between them. The silence echoes between them, despite the amount of people passing by them in hurried motions.
"So, how are you doing?"
Renjun is tempted to snap, send a harsh and rude reply but he holds himself back just in time. He heaves a deep sigh, slightly tightening his hold around the metallic can. "I'm fine, I guess."
"Oh, that's good." Mark falters for a moment before he softly says, "Congratulations, by the way. I heard you guys released a new album."
"Thanks. That... That means a lot." Renjun can feel the corners of his lips twitch slightly before he finally allows them to curve into a pleasant smile. He lowers his head, hiding the blush dusting along his cheeks as he scruffs his shoes against the flooring. Another stretch of silence falls over them before Renjun finally heaves a deep sigh, taking a step forward and shortening the distance between them.
"Listen, Mark hyung," He pauses, teeth grazing along his bottom lip. He contemplates on his next words, wondering if he should say them out loud or just leave but he really needs to let go of the anger and regret that's still lingering in his bones.
Mark is taken aback by the apology, eyes widening in shock as he stands there in stunned silence. After a heartbeat, he finds his voice but even then, the puzzled tone is hidden in it. "What for?"
"For being so harsh to you." Renjun looks defeated, exhausted. He's tired of constantly battling over his emotions and he just simply wants to put an end to it. "I'm still hurt that you left us but I realized that you seem really happier with your new band. I've never seen you light up so much until you finally joined them and I guess I felt jealous that they took you away from us."
Mark's features soften as soon as the words flow past Renjun's lips. "Renjun, I—"
"You're sorry, I know that." With another sigh, Renjun manages to muster up a genuine smile directed at the older boy. He lets their gazes lock with each other's and he can see the flash of emotions in his dark orbs; he doesn't bother to decipher each and every one of them. "And I think I forgive you."
"Really?" There's a lilt of happiness and surprise in Mark's tone and Renjun finds himself smiling wider, nodding his head.
Mark emits a chuckle at that and he steps forward, hesitantly circling his arms around Renjun's frame. The younger boy is clearly in shock at the sudden warmhearted gesture since as far as he knows, Mark isn't exactly affectionate. He stands still for a heartbeat before he lets his arms wrap around his waist, giving him a light squeeze. He breaks away and he finds his heart fluttering at the sight of the bright smile written across Mark's lips.
But it's not the same flutter he felt months ago — it's simply a fond feeling running through his veins. It's nowhere near the kind of heart fluttering reaction that he gets whenever Jeno holds his hand and kisses his forehead softly.
"Does this mean that we can be friends?" Renjun shrugs his shoulders lightly, a reassuring smile curved on his lips.
"I don't know. I don't think I can be friends with you now but maybe in the future." Mark sets his lips into a thin line before he nods his head understandingly. He parts his lips, the words ready to spill away when the conversation is cut off by three intruders.
"Mark, there you are! We've been trying to find you everywhere."
Renjun easily recognizes it as Yukhei's voice echoing in the hallway. His expression falls for a moment before he fixes it with a smile when the other boy finally approaches Mark, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. Taeyong and Jaehyun, 07:01's bassist and vocalist respectively, approaches them a few moments later, catching their breaths.
"We've been," Taeyong pauses to take a deep breath before he lets out a laugh, raking his fingers through his red hair to smoothen out the tangles. "Running around everywhere for twenty minutes since you kept disappearing."
Taeyong lets his gaze drift over to Renjun and he straightens his posture, arching a brow before he reaches a hand out with a grin. "Hey, aren't you the bassist player of Absolute Zero?" He wrinkles his nose as he glances up in thought before he snaps his fingers with a wide smile. "Renjun! Am I right?"
"Yeah, that's me." The blush colors itself on Renjun's cheeks as a bashful smile curls on his lips. Mark flashes a sheepish right at them as he steps closer to Yukhei's side.
"I don't think I ever introduced you guys properly before. Uh, Renjun, meet Taeyong hyung, Jaehyun hyung, and you know Yukhei."
"Nice to meet you, Renjun." Jaehyun cheerily replies, nodding his head at him in acknowledgment before he subtly wraps an arm around Taeyong's torso to keep him standing straight. The red haired male coughs, clearly embarrassed as the red tint dusts itself across his face before he manages to flash a grin.
Yukhei raises a hand to give Renjun a little wave, a friendly smile painted across his lips. "It's nice seeing you again, Renjun!"
"You too." Renjun nervously shifts from one foot to another, almost loosening his grip around the can and letting it clatter to the floor. He holds it against his chest before he takes a quick glance at the wall clock hanging nearby, swallowing the lump in his throat.
"I have to leave now since our band will be up soon."
"Oh, no worries. It was wonderful to meet you, Renjun." Taeyong waves his hand dismissively, his eyes bright as he curves the corners of his mouth into a friendly smile. "Good luck, by the way. I'm sure you guys will do great!"
"Thanks." Renjun lowers his head into a quick bow before he hurriedly leaves them behind, shaking his head as he rubs his cheek with his palm. He spares them another glance and his breath hitches when he sees Mark staring at him with a fond smile. He gives Renjun another wave before he lets his bandmates drag him away, chattering excitedly and letting their voices blend in with the rest of the noise. Renjun turns back to the direction of his own waiting room, a smile slowly curling on his lips.
At least they're all right now.
"Hey, we heard that you met Mark again." Donghyuck swiftly takes his place right beside Renjun on the black couch, eyebrows furrowed in worry. Jaemin ends up taking the space on the other side of Renjun, lips set into a straight line. There's a flicker of concern in his dark orbs and Renjun raises an eyebrow at him.
"Where did you hear this from?" The realization slams down on him as Jeno steps back inside the waiting room with an embarrassed smile drawn on his features. Renjun resists the urge to roll his eyes at him, holding himself from breaking into a wide smile.
"Sorry," Jeno approaches him and sets down his empty can on the nearby table. "They were worried when I came back and you weren't clinging to me."
"I—I don't cling to you!" Renjun's face burns in shame and embarrassment as he buries it his hands, covering up his reddened cheeks hastily. The others finally relaxed, a laugh falling from their lips as the worry leaves their veins, replacing it with a serene feeling.
There's a knock on the waiting room before the door slips open by a crack. One of the staff peeks inside and lets her gaze fall on them, gesturing to the direction of the stage.
"Guys, you have ten minutes before you head on stage."
"Thanks, we'll head out in a while." She flashes a thumbs up at them before she shuts the door, letting the sound reverberate within the room. Donghyuck jumps up from couch, hastily pulling on Jaemin's hand, as if out of instinct.
"Wow, I can't believe that your first reaction is to hold Jaemin's hand." Renjun comments off handedly before a smile tugs on the corners of his lips. Donghyuck crinkles his nose at him and jerks on Jaemin's hand, making the younger boy yelp as he gets pulled off the couch, almost hitting the vocalist with his shoulder.
"Sorry!" Donghyuck quickly cups his cheeks to land a kiss on his forehead before his fingers trail down to slip through the empty spaces of Jaemin's hand. Jaemin doesn't even have enough time to react before Donghyuck hastily drags right out of the room, carelessly throwing we'll see you guys on stage!
"They're so affectionate and adorable, it's disgusting." Renjun mutters under his breath as he stands up, brushing off the dust that gathered on his leather pants. Jeno loops an arm around his waist, making Renjun grunt when he accidentally steps elsewhere. He bumps right against Jeno and the guitarist elicits a laugh, brushing his fingers through his brown hair.
"We can be more disgustingly affectionate."
"No thanks." Renjun replies in a dry and uninterested tone before he pockets his hands, walking straight out of the room in a brisk pace. Jeno struggles to catch up to him until he finally falls into step with him, scrunching up his expression.
"You're such a romantic, aren't you?"
"I do pride myself as the most romantic person out there." Sarcasm drips from the edge of Renjun's tone, his teeth bared as he flashes a smile right at Jeno. The guitarist only rolls his eyes at him, dragging him in the direction of the stage. They settle on waiting by the sidelines, laying their backs against the wall as they listen to the people screaming right outside.
"Please don't drop a romantic confession right now because my heart's beating so fast. I'm so nervous and I don't think I'll be able to handle it if you say you love me or something."
"What?" Jeno arches a brow at him, staring at him incredulously. He blinks rapidly before he bursts out into a fit of loud laughter, shaking his head as he reaches close to pinch Renjun's cheek. The bassist only hangs his head low, letting out a frustrated sigh as he rubs his face with his fists.
"Sorry, I'm just really nervous."
"I can tell." Jeno emits another lighthearted chuckle, his fingers gently giving Renjun's hand a gentle squeeze. "You don't have to worry about that. I mean, I like you but I don't think I'll say those three words yet."
"Really?" Renjun eyes him suspiciously and Jeno only leans in to land a kiss on his forehead, teeth catching onto his lower lip to bite back the smile growing on his face.
"Really. If you do end up liking me, I want to take things slow." Jeno steals a glance at their entwined hands, raising them up before he drops a kiss right on Renjun's knuckles. The pink tint dusts itself across the curves of Renjun's cheeks as his breath hitches. Jeno meets his gaze afterwards and he's sporting on a soft smile, his eyes bright with happiness.
"You're special to me, Renjun. I mean that."
It's supposed to be familiar to him already — the echo of his name falling from someone's lips — but when Jeno says his name, it sounds like the sweetest melody alive. He says it with so much affection and adoration that Renjun couldn't help but melt inside as a smile curves on his lips. He leans closer to reach up, pressing a fleeting kiss right on Jeno's rosy pair, pulling away with the widest smile that he could ever muster.
"That's a good luck kiss."
Jeno tilts his head to the side, eliciting a chortle as he tugs Renjun close to him. "I never knew that you could be romantic and cliché too, huh?"
"I try my best." Renjun smiles up at him, burying his face on his shoulder to hide the way the blush grows on his cheeks.
"I hate to break this cute moment but we're up next, Injun." Donghyuck hurries towards them, looking a little nervous yet definitely excited at the same time. Renjun gives a subtle nod right at Jeno before he drags the two of them over to the stage, a little bounce in his steps as he lets go of Jeno's hand and grabs hold of his bass guitar, heaving a deep sigh.
The brightly lit stage sends a stream of emotions through his veins and the nervous jitters are clearly coursing throughout his body but he couldn't stop himself from smiling. There's a stretch of people right in front of them, cheering and yelling all at the same time — Renjun thinks he could get drunk simply on the adrenaline circling in every part of his body.
He lifts his gaze and for a second, he turns his head and catches Jeno's starry eyes. The corners of their lips tug upwards to show off a bright smile just as the announcer's voice cuts through the energetic atmosphere surrounding them.
"Here's one of the most anticipated bands of the year. Let's give it up for Absolute Zero!"
Renjun glances down his wristwatch, frowning deeply at the time displayed on the face. He shakes his wrist as he glances at the hotel in front of him, feeling the ache settle in his legs as he walks right up to the entrance, pushing through the glass doors. With a quick sweep of the lobby, he's caught off guard when he feels someone cling to his arm, nearly toppling him to the ground.
"Injun!" Donghyuck wraps his arms around his frame as tightly as he could, making Renjun gasp in surprise. He grabs on the nearby pillar so he won't fall to the ground with a thud; he doesn't need something like that, especially after their performance.
"I can't believe it, our performance was actually a success!" Donghyuck reaches down to circle his fingers around Renjun's wrist, tugging him in the direction of the venue of their after party. Renjun struggles to fall in step with him, his legs aching to find a place for him to take his seat and massage them. But Donghyuck doesn't seem to notice or he doesn't seem to care either, taking a few turns until they arrive at a set of tinted glass doors with gold handles. Donghyuck easily turns the handle and pulls Renjun inside, shutting the door behind them.
"Wow," Renjun marvels over the amount of people — it's not only their friends but also a few celebrities and other popular band members mingling around. Renjun is starstruck at first as he drinks in the sight of everything happening to him; even if he's in a band, he never once thought this kind of opportunity would come to them. The emotions explode deep within his body and he feels lightheaded, high on the adrenaline coursing through his veins once more.
"That's my exact reaction when I first arrived here," Donghyuck gestures to the entirety of the party before he turns to Renjun with a cheeky grin. "As much as I want to talk to other celebrities with you, I lost sight of my boyfriend so I need to find him."
"Boyfriend? Jaem is your boyfriend now?"
"He's been my boyfriend for nearly seven months already." Donghyuck rolls his eyes at him, shaking his head. Renjun shoots him an unamused glance, snickering lightly as he crosses his arms over his chest.
"And yet you acted as if you weren't dating this entire time when I first brought you two up."
"Shut up, Jun." Donghyuck juts out his lower lip to resemble a pout and Renjun scrunches up his expression, wrinkling his nose right at his direction. The vocalist heaves a sigh and he jabs a finger at Renjun's chest, flashing a cheeky smile at him. "I heard your cousin is around. Mind telling him that he should give me free vinyl records now that we're popular?"
"First of all, you have enough money to buy at least fifty vinyl records." Renjun twists his lips into a frown, his brows knitting together. "Also, Chenle isn't here—"
"Renjun ge!" Renjun almost trips when Chenle, his cousin, pops right away from the crowd and in front of him. His fingers are laced with his boyfriend, Jisung, dragging the taller boy close to him. Renjun blinks rapidly, running his fingers through his brown hair as he stares at them with disbelief.
"What are you two doing here?"
"Do you not want us here?" Chenle whines, releasing his hold on Jisung's hand, only to latch on to Renjun. The older boy snickers and puts him in a headlock, ruffling his hair until it's a complete mess. Chenle yelps, smacking his arm repeatedly in a failed attempt to get Renjun to stop his antics.
"That's for two years of disappearing on me without a word. I didn't even know that you're attending the same college that I went to!" Renjun releases the younger boy from his hold, leaving Chenle whimpering as he tries to fix his strands into at least a presentable look. The bassist turns to Jisung, a mischievous smile playing on his lips.
"As for you—"
"Oh, hell no." Jisung holds out his hands, backing away hurriedly as he shakes his head in a hurried motion. "I'm taller than you so you can't touch me."
"I could step on your foot and make you bend down to my height." Renjun mumbles in a dry tone before he curves his lips into a sickeningly sweet smile. Jisung throws an alarmed look at him before he casts a helpless glance at Chenle, who's too busy sifting his fingers through his blond hair to even notice his boyfriend.
"Come on, I didn't even do anything to you!"
Renjun curves his lips into a smirk, obviously satisfied with the reaction he gouged out from Jisung. He turns to Chenle, a laugh spilling from his rosy lips when he sees the strands sticking out on his head. He reaches out to smoothen them down as much as he can before Chenle can slap his hand away.
"You're like the devil." Jisung sniffles, clinging to Chenle by wrapping his arms around the older boy's torso.
"I know. He's been bullying me since we were kids."
"Oh, please. It wasn't that bad." Renjun averts his attention, a frown starting to tug right on the corners of his lips as he takes a swift glance around the place. No matter where his eyes land on, he can't pick out the familiar sight of a dark haired boy wearing a leather jacket. He unknowingly brushes his fingers against his choker before he brushes away the imaginary dirt on his faded white shirt with red letters written across it. He pockets his hands in his black pants, glancing around once again just to double check.
"I'll talk to you guys later." Renjun waves a hand at them dismissively, letting them head over to the refreshments table before he starts weaving through the crowd in search for the guitarist. He's easily flustered when some well-known celebrities approach him, complimenting their performance a while ago at the concert and he couldn't hide the smile crawling to his lips. His heart is beating fast, mostly due to the nervousness of talking to another celebrity and risking himself get into another starstruck moment.
When he turns to his right, he finds Jaemin smiling brightly at Donghyuck, his arms wrapped around his torso. He approaches them in hasty steps, tugging uncomfortably once again on his choker as he swallows the lump in his throat. He brushes his hair to the side, making sure to fix the strands as he walks up to them.
"Hey," Renjun casts them a worried look, lowering his voice into a whisper. "Have you seen Jeno?"
"Oh, he said that if you want to look for him and talk to him, you'll know where he's going to end up at." Renjun throws an incredulous look at Jaemin, brows knitting together in frustration and bewilderment.
"What does that fucker mean—"
Renjun takes a step back as he takes a quick glance around the room, realizing that the only exit is where the entrance is located at as well. He shoots a grateful smile right at the couple before he bolts straight to the tinted glass doors, his heart beating out of control but for an entirely new reason this time.
He finds himself walking to the empty elevator, anxiously stepping inside and pressing on the floor leading to the rooftop. He lets his back rest against the cool metal wall, the adrenaline finally dripping away from his veins as he lets the elevator lull him into a sense of calmness and relaxation. The euphoria from the concert has long since worn off and he can feel the exhaustion slowly crawling through his bones. Still, he can feel his heart fluttering at the excitement of getting to talk to Jeno again — he has so many unsaid words and he might burst if he doesn't end up saying them.
The elevator slows down into a halt and the familiar ping! echoes as the doors slide open. He steps right out and he walks down the hallway, taking a sharp left turn until he faces a set of glass doors. He pushes them open and almost immediately, the cold air bundles him up in a freezing hold. His teeth chatter as he wraps his own arms around his thin frame, glancing around until his eyes land on a lone figure leaning against the ledge.
He walks towards him calmly so he won't alarm Jeno. Each step he takes sends his heart into a wreckage, the cold air doesn't seem all that troubling anymore as he focuses on one person only. He's only a few steps away when he stops, a smile curled on his lips as he speaks.
The guitarist lifts his gaze from below, the surprise isn't written all over his features as a relaxed smile appears instead. He gestures Renjun to step closer and the older boy obeys him willingly, immediately moving as close as he can so he can receive the comforting warmth radiating off his body. Jeno must have noticed that he's shivering because he peels off his leather jacket, gently placing it around his thin shoulders. A sigh of relief falls from his lips as the warmth envelopes him, his head tilting to the side as he spares Jeno a smile.
"I didn't know that you liked stargazing."
Jeno shrugs his shoulders lightly, acting as if he doesn't care but the smile written on his lips says otherwise. "I only started doing that ever since you mentioned that you like stars."
"How come you're always shocked whenever I tell you something new?" Jeno squints his eyes at him playfully and Renjun emits an airy laugh, taking a step close to him. The guitarist loops an arm around his torso, pulling him as close as he can against his side.
"Just never thought you'd be the type to stargaze."
"What? Do you think I'm a bad boy or something?"
"Maybe?" Renjun turns his head with a sheepish smile. He lets his eyes rake down Jeno's form shamelessly, taking in his outfit before he meets his eyes with his smile growing wider. "You dress like one."
"I have three cats at home, Huang. I don't think I'll qualify as a bad boy."
Another laugh falls from their lips and the silence slowly descends over them, blanketing them in a stretch of heartbeats. Jeno lets his gaze drop to him with his expression softening as he removes his arm around his waist, moving it up so he can let the brown strands tangle around his fingers.
"I forgot to tell you," Jeno brushes away his fringe, taking his hand away as he leans his arms against the ledge with his head turned to properly look at Renjun. "You look pretty today."
"Pretty?" Renjun questions, brows furrowing just the slightest. Jeno nods his head and reaches out to allow the tips of his fingers linger against his choker before he pulls them back with another smile.
"Flattery will get you nowhere, Lee." Renjun snickers, hoping that Jeno will take his words back but the guitarist seems rather firm about it. He only shakes his head and he turns his body so they're facing each other properly.
"I'm saying the truth."
Renjun swallows the imaginary lump that formed in his throat, the tips of his ears turning red in embarrassment. He can feel the blush starting to crawl up to his cheeks so he lowers his head, wishing desperately that he could will it down. He tightens the jacket around his figure before he raises his gaze meekly, the color appearing on his cheeks.
"Jeno," He pauses for a moment, letting his name roll off his tongue. It's a little unfamiliar but it has a sweet sound to it — he thinks he can get used to it.
Renjun visibly hesitates, teeth once again momentarily grazing his bottom lip as he shifts from one foot to another. He's nervous and it's fairly obvious based on his actions; he keeps letting his gaze flicker from different places and his fingers won't stop twitching at all. He takes a deep breath as he finally lets their gazes lock with each other, his expression softening.
"I like you."
Jeno blinks rapidly, clearly taken aback. He parts his lips, ready to say something, anything at all but he ends up falling silent again. Renjun would have felt like his nervousness would hit the skies if it wasn't for the shy smile that graced along the edges of Jeno's mouth.
"You do? You really do?"
Renjun emits a laugh and he crosses the remaining distance between them. He grips Jeno's white shirt, fingers grasping the material as a grin breaks out on his face. He's smiling so widely that his eyes are crinkling in happiness.
"Yes, I do. I like you a lot." He wraps his arms around Jeno's torso and Renjun's heart falls out of control when he sees that Jeno couldn't even stop himself from smiling, his starry eyes brighter than usual. Jeno's fingers reach out to delicately hold his cheeks, caressing them in fleeting and light touches.
"Can I ask you a question?" Renjun murmurs, his voice dripping with shyness and curiosity. Jeno arches a brow before he musters up a reassuring smile on the corners of his lips.
Renjun draws in a deep breath, unable to keep the happiness from exploding deep within his chest as he speaks, "Will you do me the honour of writing song lyrics with me late at night in the studio and building blanket forts in my apartment before we fall asleep in each other's arms?"
"God, that is disgustingly sweet and domestic." Jeno comments before he bursts into a fit of echoing laughter, nodding his head quickly. "Yes, I'd love to do that with you and even more."
Renjun can no longer hold himself back from practically exploding in pure and genuine happiness. He reaches in to press a kiss right on the tip of his nose, eyes crinkling. Jeno tilts his head at him, his eyebrows shooting up. "So, does this mean that we're boyfriends?"
"Oh, I don't know, Jeno. Maybe that means that we're best friends now." Renjun sarcastically responds and Jeno wrinkles his nose at him, scrunching up his face.
"You're so mean."
"But you like it, don't you?"
"Only when it's not directed at me!" Jeno pulls on his cheeks and Renjun yelps, bottom lip jutting out to resemble a pout. Jeno coos at him, leaning close to land a kiss on his reddened cheeks before he noses them with another round of chuckles falling from his lips.
Renjun breaks away and he lets himself get lost in the happiness written all over Jeno's features. He looks absolutely beautiful when he's genuinely elated like this and Renjun thinks he could get used to falling asleep and waking up next to him. He reaches over to gently cup Jeno's cheeks instead, his thumbs brushing against the curves of his cheeks. Jeno catches his eyes and there's a stretch of silence between them before the younger boy gives him a subtle nod, eyes brightly lit again.
Renjun breaks out into a smile, leaning in close and capturing Jeno's lips in a slow and gentle kiss. He savors the feeling of their lips pressed against each other, a sigh of contentment escaping past his rosy pair as he holds Jeno as close as he can. He can feel Jeno gripping his waist and he easily melts right into his embrace, heart fluttering beneath his rib cage.
When Renjun pulls away, he rests his forehead against Jeno's, a satisfied smile curled on his lips. Jeno leans in to steal another kiss from his pair, a chuckle falling from his mouth.
"I love it when you say my name." Jeno murmurs as he gently lets his thumbs trace along Renjun's sides in a soothing manner. "Can you say it again?"
"Lee Jeno." Renjun whispers softly, his voice filled with nothing but pure adoration for the other boy. He reaches in close once again to press their lips together in a kiss, mumbling against his pair.
"Lee Jeno, I like you. I like you so much."
The laugh that leaves Jeno's lips is so heavenly, so melodious that Renjun could listen to it forevermore. He could never get exhausted of listening to it over and over again — he's sure his heart will always end up bursting into pieces in his chest.
Jeno presses another lingering kiss on his lips and the words that fall from his pair makes Renjun flutter just the slightest. He's awfully sure that he could get used to this kind of feeling for as long as fate will allow.
"Huang Renjun, I like you too."