Taeyong huffed and pulled his phone back out of Johnny’s grasp; locking it and throwing it down in his lap only to pick it up again a few moments later so he could pretend to check for messages and avoid looking at the other boy. Johnny, feeling the awkward tension, coughed to clear his throat and stood up to rifle through the hotel information documents on the desk.
“Have you looked at the hotel menu?” Johnny asked, his back still turned to Taeyong. “We can eat here or head out for food. What do you think?”
“I don’t care.” Taeyong sulked.
He knew he was being petty with Johnny and it really wasn’t fair; they were on holiday after all, and it had happened so long ago but the other’s words had hurt. It may have seemed like a few simple hook ups to Johnny, they had never really talked about what they were to each other at least, but to Taeyong it had been different.
Having known Johnny for a long time as a trainee, seeing him around SM with EXO and others, Taeyong had always felt an attraction to the other boy. At first it had been intrigue at the interesting English speaking boy but it had soon morphed into respect and a friendly affection. It had only been in the last few months before his debut that Taeyong had realised his true feelings and had the courage to deal with it.
Johnny had always been a source of support, professionally and personally, and Taeyong was immensely grateful. Even when they weren’t very close, Johnny had been a friendly face Taeyong saw in the halls that made him feel like the pressure of being leader would be bearable.
The short amount of time that they had spent together; when Taeyong could call Johnny his, no matter how selfish that may seem, had been some of the best memories Taeyong had. It had felt nice to have someone that was his person, a person he came first for; who he could be himself around.
Looking up at the muscular back of the other boy, Taeyong bit the inside of his cheek to keep from saying anything silly. It wouldn’t do anything to bring all of that up now; they had already dealt with the ending of that side of their relationship and then, a few months later, dealt with Johnny’s disapproval of HyunTae.
“Yong-a?” Johnny asked turning around.
Taeyong blinked slowly up at the other boy in confusion and awkwardly swallowed.
“I asked what you thought of an artisan burger restaurant two blocks away.” Johnny laughed, but Taeyong could tell the happiness was slightly forced.
“Oh, yeah, that sounds fine.”
“Do you want to check out the reviews?” Johnny had already chucked his phone onto the bed and turned back to look through the tourist leaflets before Taeyong could even think of a reply.
“Yeah… sure.” Taeyong muttered and picked up the device to scroll down.
The reviews were all in English and Taeyong wasn’t focused enough to try and decipher any meaning in them but he continued flicking through the posts to avoid talking a little while longer. He was about to give up and just agree to go to the place when the phone vibrated in his hands; looking down instinctually Taeyong froze in shock as he saw the notification.
Just ask them out!!! I don’t know why you keep messing around and…
Taeyong stared at the cut off message until it disappeared and then his gaze flicked up to Johnny, to make sure he hadn’t been caught snooping, pausing to watch the other boy.
Johnny was extremely attractive, he was both handsome and friendly; Taeyong found the combination straight up deadly. It was no surprise that Johnny would have someone he was interested in and it would probably be a safe bet to say that whoever he asked out would say 'yes'. Taeyong knew he would; in a heartbeat.
The phone in his hands vibrated again and Taeyong tried to keep himself from prying a second time but the voices in his head took over.
Trust me on this. They're interested. Just keep in mind how Tae...
Taeyong stared at the message again, he brain working a mile a minute. Who was Tae? Why was Johnny so unsure about asking them out? How long had he been interested?
As he observed Johnny pouring over the landmarks of the city, Taeyong couldn’t help but wonder who the person was, and why Johnny hadn’t told him when he had obviously told Doyoung. Was it someone they both knew? Was it someone in the group?
Taeyong felt his already low mood sour even further. He had known that Johnny had moved on from him, had done so a while ago, but Taeyong had never been faced with a situation in which he actually had to deal with the possibility of Johnny dating someone else.
The memory of a night a few days after Taeyong had broken up with HyunTae rose up in Taeyong’s mind without his permission and Taeyong dropped his gaze from the other in guilt.
Taeyong flopped down on the sofa of the dorms and began to pick at the label of the soju bottle he had snagged from the fridge. It wasn’t his first of the night and Taeyong didn’t really plan for it to be the last one either.
The phone call to his boyfriend- ex-boyfriend - had gone terribly and Taeyong couldn't escape the echoes of the other's words as they circled around his mind.
"You’re just a dime a dozen slut."
If he was anyone else, escaping the clearly toxic relationship would be cause for celebration but Taeyong couldn't help but mourn the loss and the sense of loneliness that was engulfing him.
Taking a sip straight from the bottle, Taeyong collapsed sideways and gazed dully at the blank television screen in front of him. A deep sigh seeped from his lungs and Taeyong discarded the bottle on the floor before turning over to stare up at the ceiling.
Losing himself in the blankness of the white paint and his mind, Taeyong didn't notice another presence entering the room and sitting down beside him.
A large hand began to rub up and down his exposed calf and Taeyong listlessly raised it so the person could move into a more comfortable position on the sofa. Placing his legs back down on the other boy's lap, Taeyong nudged them until they started up the soothing strokes again.
"Yong?" Johnny spoke gently as he continued tracing along Taeyong legs with soft fingers.
"What?" Taeyong groaned.
"Oh no, it's worse than I thought." Johnny cried dramatically. "Let me up for a second."
Taeyong reluctantly lifted his legs again and allowed Johnny to get up. Johnny patted Taeyong's shoulder as he passed and grabbed the bottle before Taeyong could complain.
Huffing and turning over so he faced the back of the sofa, Taeyong wrapped his arms around his middle and settled down. The sound of someone moving about in the kitchen drifted through the dorms but Taeyong didn't even have the energy to be curious about what the older boy was up to.
A while later, Johnny returned and brought with him a lovely aroma of Jasmine tea. Taeyong heard the clinking of cups being put down on the table but stubbornly refused to move.
"Come on, you can't mope forever." Johnny sighed and nudged Taeyong's shoulder gently.
"I can try."
"At least sit up; the younger members are starting to worry about you. Think about what would happen if they found you like this in the morning."
Taeyong remained unmoved, it wasn't much of a treat and they both knew it. Taeyong would drink, enough to forget but not to lose control, and then drag himself back to bed before the sun had a chance to appear around the curtains. It was a tried and tested pattern; one that Taeyong had thought no one had noticed. Obviously, they had.
"Yongie, please, I hate to see you doing this to yourself; especially because of him."
The desperation in the other's voice made Taeyong tense up. Johnny had every right to sit there and gloat that he had foreseen such an outcome but instead he was being thoughtful and kind. The sentiment brought tears to Taeyong's eyes and he slowly unravelled to sit up on the sofa.
Taeyong scrubbed at his eyes as he let himself sink back into the pillows and avoided looking at the other boy.
"Happy?" He muttered.
"No, but it's a start." Johnny smiled. "Here. Have some of the tea."
Taeyong reluctantly accepted the cup that Johnny nudged into his hands, only so the other wouldn't spill it all over them, and stared down at the brown liquid.
After a while of sitting in silence, Johnny sighed and sat back as well; jostling the sofa and bringing Taeyong back out of his daze. On autopilot, Taeyong raised the cup to his mouth and took a few sips of the tea. The warmth slid down his throat and did a little to ease the ache in his chest.
"When did we get Jasmine tea?" Taeyong asked dumbly.
"When Kun and Chanle when out for China's Children's day celebrations." Johnny replied gently. "How you feeling?"
"Fine. I'm fine."
"Don't be stubborn, Yong-a; talk to me." Johnny insisted and turned so he had one leg up on the sofa and was facing Taeyong.
Taeyong hummed noncommittally and took another mouthful of tea.
"What about you? Are you okay?" Taeyong asked eventually.
"Yeah, I'm fine, but Yong why do you-"
"What were you doing up at this time then?"
"Now is not the time for that talk. Put away the Leader-nim mask for now. I'm not here as a member that sneaked out, I'm here as your friend. Not everything is about NCT; you can be yourself too, you know."
No, Taeyong didn't know. Everything he did was for the group, HyunTae had been right in that regard, he didn't really have other friends outside of them. It only made him want to protect them more.
He was expected to work for them all day, every day and if someone higher up caught even a whiff that he wasn't giving it his all, they would come down on him like a tonne of bricks.
"Why were you sneaking out? Were you meeting someone?"
"Yong." Johnny spoke sternly.
"Was it a girl?"
"No." Johnny replied, bemused.
Taeyong mentally kicked himself, of course Johnny found this amusing, he was acting like a jealous lover. It didn't even matter if Johnny had met a boy or a girl because Taeyong knew full well the other was bisexual. Not that it mattered anyway since Taeyong wasn't jealous.
"Alright, I just hope you didn't get spotted. I don't want to get punished for your recklessness." Taeyong spoke roughly and drained the rest of the tea; finishing the conversation.
Johnny remained quiet for a little while, just staring at Taeyong in the dim light of the room. The warmth and… something else , that had been there since before they had started sleeping together, burning from his eyes and into Taeyong's skin.
"Does it bother you?"
"No, of course not." Taeyong muttered, just to stop Johnny staring at him like that.
Johnny raised a mocking eyebrow and followed Taeyong's lead by finishing his tea and putting the cup back down.
"If you've finished your tea, go to bed and get some rest. We can talk properly in the morning when you're not falling apart from exhaustion."
"I'm fine ." Taeyong insisted.
"Yeah, and I'm Beyonce." Johnny laughed. "Up you get."
Johnny reached over to grab Taeyong's hands and started to lift him from the sofa but Taeyong let his body flop forwards until he lay over the other boy's lap; staring up at him.
Johnny huffed and tried to keep pushing at Taeyong. Taeyong twisted his body around and dug his fingers in until he was latched to Johnny's front; straddling him.
"So, if you're not Leader-nim, you become a baby. Is that it?" Johnny laughed and let his fingers trace along Taeyong's back as they sat together.
"Yup." Taeyong agreed happily, giving into the soft fuzziness in his head and leaned down to nuzzle at Johnny's shoulder.
"You're unbelievable." Johnny murmured, so quiet Taeyong almost didn't hear the words.
"Unbelievably awesome ." Taeyong joked on reflex, despite not feeling that way in the slightest.
"Yeah." Johnny chuckled. "Yeah, you are."
They sat in silence for a few moments and Taeyong listened to the steady pounding of Johnny's heart as the other's fingers drew mindless patterns on his back. Sitting in the familiar arms, Taeyong couldn't help but think of all the times they had been like this in the past. First as friends; then as something more.
It made his chest ache even more and Taeyong wondered which relationship he was actually mourning. Despite having cut things off with Johnny himself, for the good of the group Taeyong reminded himself, he had felt the loss immensely. Johnny had felt like an extension of himself in the time they had been together and Taeyong realised he had never stopped missing that.
The relationship with HyunTae had been a distraction, plain and simple, a rebound. Now, there was nothing left to distract his mind from one of the stupidest decisions of his life and he was burdened with the new hurt of betrayal. It all sucked. A lot.
Johnny let out a deep sigh and Taeyong pulled back to take in his member's face. The earnest eyes that stared back made something break in Taeyong's chest and, without thinking, he raised his hand to gently trace Johnny's face.
Letting his fingers run softly over the other's high cheekbones and down around his jaw, Taeyong took in all the small details that he had missed since he had ended things. It wasn't the same being just members and Taeyong missed it.
Raising his eyes to meet Johnny's once again, Taeyong decided to go for it and leaned in to press their lips together. Johnny let out a surprised grunt but his lips soon began moving in tandem with Taeyong's.
Taeyong moaned into the kiss and pressed forward desperately. Johnny's hands fell to Taeyong's hips and gripped tightly as his tongue brushed over Taeyong's plump bottom lip; asking for entry. Tipping his head to the side, Taeyong gave in and dug his fingers into Johnny's shoulders as the kiss deepened.
Suddenly, Taeyong felt Johnny shove him away and stand up from the sofa. Taeyong lay sprawled on the cushions as he watched Johnny pace around the room; his fingers pressed to his puffy lips.
"Yongie… we can't…" Johnny said slowly, without turning around.
"Can't what?" Taeyong whined, fully feeling the effect of the alcohol in his system.
" This !" Johnny exploded, whirling around, before pressing his hands to his face. "You're drunk… and I can't…"
"I'm not drunk. I know what I'm doing."
"So what if I am. What's a little fun between friends?"
"Yong, you- nevermind." Johnny sighed and shook his head.
"You need to move on. We ended things and we have the group to focus on now. There's no point going after something that can't happen anymore… something I can't give you, not anymore."
Taeyong felt his eyes stinging and his throat closing up at the declaration. Sitting up stiffly, Taeyong bit his lip and looked up at the ceiling to gather himself.
"Is there someone else?"
"It doesn't matter if there is." Johnny murmured. "I can't go back to the way we were before."
"Okay." Taeyong nodded and stood.
" Yong -"
Taeyong brushed past Johnny before he had the chance to speak and ran to his room; slamming the door behind him.
Taeyong felt humiliated. Not only had HyunTae called him a slut, he had now proved him right by throwing himself at Johnny. Of course Johnny wouldn't want to go back to how things were, and he certainly wouldn't be interested in a relationship, not with the way Taeyong had just behaved.
Feeling his heart breaking, Taeyong slid down the closed door and let the gut wrenching sobs escape him. In the morning he would have to pretend everything was okay but, for the night, he could allow himself to fall apart.
Johnny's questioning voice brought Taeyong out of his memories yet again.
"Are you okay? You're not feeling sick or too tired after the travelling?" Johnny pressed his hand to Taeyong's forehead as he began to fuss.
"I'm fine. I was just thinking about the restaurant."
"Yes, stop worrying." Taeyong huffed and pushed Johnny's hand away.
A flash of hurt cut through the concern in Johnny's eyes but Taeyong decided to ignore that as he moved further away from where the other now sat.
"Okay, but we can just stay here for-"
"No. I want to go out. Just... let me change."
"If you're sure?" Johnny looked him over dubious and Taeyong nodded.
Taeyong handed back the other's phone before getting up to grab some clothes out of his suitcase. Heading into the bathroom, Taeyong let out a deep sigh and focused on getting ready. This was meant to be a nice relaxing trip with a friend; Taeyong wouldn't let such issues disrupt that.
Once he was ready, Johnny asked for directions from the reception and they headed out. The weather was pleasantly warm and Taeyong enjoyed the walk; Johnny pointed out landmarks as the walked and Taeyong insisted they stop for pictures at each. As they moved lazily through the streets they discussed what they wanted to do in the coming days.
A few buildings away from the restaurant, Taeyong spotted a large brick wall filled with intricate graffiti.
"Hyung, please can we stop and take pictures?" Taeyong pleased and pouted for extra begging power.
Johnny looked over at the place where Taeyong pointed and shrugged. Taeyong giggled happily and dragged Johnny across the road before handing his phone over to pose.
Johnny obediently snapped several pictures before bringing to phone over for Taeyong to inspect. Deciding they were all good enough, Taeyong turned the camera around and pulled Johnny in for a selfie. The other boy fixed his hair and causally rested his chin on Taeyong's shoulder as he back hugged him. The photo turned out great and Taeyong had uploaded it, and a few of the others, before he had even stopped to think about it.
The restaurant turned out to be very delicious and the atmosphere was pleasant as they chatted happily between the courses. The continuous pinging of Johnny's phone began to get on Taeyong's nerves a little bit but Johnny had quickly apologised.
Feeling it wasn't really his place to criticise how Johnny acted while they were on holiday, Taeyong let it slide and just enjoyed the meal. After a series of notifications came in close together, Taeyong felt it was probably safe to comment on.
"Someone's popular." Taeyong teased.
"Nah, it's just Doyoung." Johnny dismissed as he typed out a reply.
Taeyong felt his mouth go dry at the reply. Of course he was still talking with their band mate.
"Must be very important." Taeyong spoke carefully. "Doyoungie doesn't really text a lot."
"It is. He's helping me sort something out."
Taeyong nodded and picked at his fries as he tried to distract himself from the small smile slowly spreading on Johnny's face. Has he already asked out that person?
The vibration of his own phone, in his pocket, pulled Taeyong out of his mood and he scrambled to answer the message.
Shacked up with someone else have u? That was quick.
Taeyong stared down at the message and his heart plummeted as he realised HyunTae must have seen his new post with Johnny. As he sat staring, a new message arrived.
Ignoring me now? That's a dangerous game to play, Taeyong-a.
All of the sounds of the restaurant around him seemed to fade away as Taeyong read the words. Taeyong gulped and typed out a reply before decided against it and deleting it all. Another vibration went through his fingers as he clutched the device.
Trying to make me jealous? It doesn't matter now anyway. If you want to play the public slut, let's see just how public this thing can go.
The blood drained from Taeyong's face as he read the message and his phone slipped out of his shaking fingers. The clatter of dishes and couples laughter seemed to all flood in again at once and Taeyong knew he needed to get away.
Shoving his chair back, Taeyong muttered something in Johnny's direction and rushed out of the suddenly overheated space. He had gotten a few metres away from the restaurant before strong fingers wrapped around his wrist and swung him around to face his fellow member.
"Taeyong, what's going on?" Johnny asked desperately. "You suddenly looked sick back there."
"I… I- I-" Taeyong felt tears running down his face and his breathing was quickly running away from his control. "I fucked up, Hyung. I don't-"
"It's going to be okay." Johnny hushed him and pulled Taeyong into his embrace. "I've got you; everything's going to be okay."