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The exposé of Lee Taeyong

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Taeyong flopped down onto his bed and gazed up at the ceiling. He let himself drift into his memories as his eyes traced the spider web of cracks that cut through the paint. Not much had really changed in the last four months except for maybe the gentle acceptance that he had moved on. Turning over, Taeyong buried his head into the floral smelling pillows before turning his face to the side and taking in his spotless room.

The dorms were currently pretty empty as NCT had some free time and most of the boys had gone home already. Taeyong eyed his packed suitcases by the door and wondered again if it was too late to just go home and curl up in his sister’s arms.

Feeling restless he huffed and turned back towards the ceiling. He couldn’t help but remember how it had felt to watch his boyfriend of seven months, granted most of that time had been spent apart due to schedules, pulling on his skin tight jeans to go clubbing. Without him.

 


 

Taeyong lay in the bed naked and sweaty with heavy breaths still heaving in his lungs while the other boy all but ran out of the room.

“Don’t go.” Taeyong whined and reached out a shaking hand to hook a finger in the black denim belt loop.

"Let go. My taxi is already outside.”

“Then tell it to go and stay with me.”

“I’m not playing, Taeyong, let go.” HyunTae yanked Taeyong’s hand away and continued getting dressed.

“Come on we barely get to spend any time together but when I’m here you’re always out with friends.” Taeyong propped himself up on an elbow and watched HyunTae pull on a designer trainer.

“I have a life outside of you, Taeyong. You’re an idol so maybe you don’t get it but some of us have other friends.”

“Look I don’t want to fight but your cum hasn’t even cooled and you’re out the door.” Taeyong frowned and pulled the sheet up to cover his chest.

HyunTae sighed and walked back over to the bed and sat down beside Taeyong. He took Taeyong's chin between his fingers and tilted his face up until their gazes met.

“If you don’t want to fight; stop talking. Every time you open your mouth you ruin the pretty illusion.”

HyunTae patted Taeyong’s cheek heavily before grabbing his wallet and phone off the bedside table and leaving without a goodbye.

Taeyong collapsed back into the bed and grimaced as the slimy substance between his thighs made its presence known again. He pulled back the sheet and headed for the showers to freshen up before any of the other members decided they needed something and forgot to knock.

Standing under the warm spray he pondered on HyunTae's words. He had been told a few times that beyond his nice face and body he wasn’t anything special and could even get annoying at times. The members made it quite obvious when his cleaning habits frustrated them.

Sighing he scrubbed at his brittle and damaged hair but couldn’t stop thinking. He had first come across HyunTae, stage name Gun, when the other artist had appeared in his news feed when his debut song, 'Takin' names', had made one million views in 24 hours.

Taeyong had been impressed and genuinely enjoyed the song. He had been even more amazed by the other boy when he found out he was openly gay and an active spokesman in the LGBT+ community. So when he had revealed he followed NCT, and Taeyong was his bias, Taeyong had wanted to meet him desperately.

They had met a few weeks later and after a couple of hook ups started officially dating. Although to protect Taeyong they had kept it secret.

Taeyong huffed. HyunTae was probably right about leaving. All they did was have sex and go their separate ways. Thinking on it more deeply Taeyong was actually pretty convinced that if they were to go on conventional dates they would have broken up months ago.

Shutting off the water Taeyong wrapped himself in a fluffy towel and padded back to his bedroom.

He had probably over reacted. He knew that HyunTae had to work as well as make his music because there wasn’t enough money coming in to support his singing from sales. It would make sense that HyunTae would want to make the most of his day off and go clubbing instead of staying in with Taeyong.

Taeyong shook his head at his gloomy thoughts and changed into his soft pajamas before siting cross legged on his bed. He reached for his phone and noticed several missed calls from Jongin.

After glancing at the time and deciding it wasn’t too late he dialled the number and settled back against his pillows to wait. Once the call connected the sounds of deep bass music thundered through the phone. Taeyong pulled it away from his ear and wondered for a moment if he had dialled the wrong person. Seeing the caller ID read Jongin he put the phone back up to his ear.

“Hyung?”

Taeyongie is that you?” Jongin’s slightly slurred voice came over the line.

“Yes Hyung. You called me. I’m calling you back.”

Hang on. Give me a minute to get somewhere quieter.” Jongin then yelled away from the phone to someone so Taeyong couldn’t make out what the exchange was but the sound of the dance music quickly faded.

Taeyong waited in silence for Jongin to continue and fiddled with a loose thread on one of his cushions with a frown.

Taeyong you still there?

“Yeah, I’m here Hyung.”

Where are you?” Taeyong startled at the abrupt question and felt himself getting even more confused.

“At the NCT dorms. Why? What’s this about?”

You’re not here?” Jongin sounded even more puzzled.

“No… where is here exactly?”

“Okay shit… well your boyfriend, Gun, is here.”

“Oh well I knew that." Taeyong leaned back as he understood the situation. "He left about half an hour ago to go clubbing.” Taeyong shifted in the bed as he remembered what exactly they had been doing.

Oh, so you know?

“Yeah Hyung I know.” Taeyong confirmed and felt warmth flood through his veins at the concern his Hyung was showing.

O kay well as long as you know he’s in the club grinding on his music video dancer. Not something I thought you were in to but if you-”

“He’s what?” Taeyong felt his chest get tight and his breathing speed up.

He’s…. wait you said you knew.” Jongin hesitated on the phone.

“I knew he was at the club. I didn’t know he was there with someone.”

Well you could definitely say he’s ‘with’ someone.” Jongin said grimly.

“You’re kidding.” Taeyong felt himself drain of energy as the realisation of what was going on hit him.

I’m sorry Taeyong. I shouldn’t have told you like that… I- shit. I’m really sorry.”

Taeyong quickly rubbed at the tears that were threatening to fall and took a deep shuddering breath to calm down.

“It’s okay Hyung. Better I know… but are you sure?”

Yeah. I’m sure.” Jongin’s voice sounded resigned and pissed off.

“Okay.”

Do you want to talk about it?

“Not right now Hyung.” Taeyong confessed.

Do you want me to set him straight? Sehun, Kyungsoo, Chanyeol and Beakhyun are with me.”

“No, no you guys enjoy your night. I’ll deal with it.” Taeyong assured him but secretly wished he could take Jongin up on his offer. “Setting Kyungsoo Hyung on him might just end up in murder charges.”

I know, isn’t he just so cute?” Jongin laughed and continued after a moments pause. “Okay well take care of yourself okay? Call me if you need.”

“I will. See you later Hyung.”

Good night, Taeyong.”

After the call had ended Taeyong had to fight through his tears to find his boyfriend’s number and dialled it. It rang and rang and rang until Taeyong had to face facts that he wasn’t going to reach him. Tossing his phone to the side he curled up on his side and cried deep heaving sobs until he was so exhausted he fell asleep.

Waking up the next morning had been rough and Taeyong knew he looked like hell if the expressions on his members’ faces were anything to go by.

It wasn’t until after a long day of practise and interview training that Taeyong finally got the chance to actually talk to his boyfriend again.

What is it Taeyong?

Hi to you too.” Taeyong huffed and decided to head downstairs to a bench outside the dorms.

I’m tired, what do you want?

“I’m sure you are.” Taeyong said snidely.

Taeyong!” HyunTae was getting angry and Taeyong knew he had to get to the point or he would be hung up on.

“Someone saw you at the club last night.” Taeyong spoke clearly to keep his hurt hidden.

So? You knew I would be there.” HyunTae said after a slight hesitation.

“Yeah but you were also seen making out with your backup dancer. That’s something I think I would remember you telling me.” Taeyong couldn’t hold back the anger as he spoke the words and his voice shook pathetically.

Seriously Taeyong? That’s what this is about?"

Taeyong remained stubbornly silent and refused to dignify that with an answer.

Look, it didn’t mean anything. It was just a bit of fun.

“If it didn’t mean anything why did you do it?”

Don’t do this now Taeyong I’m tired.” HyunTae sighed and sounded completely bored of the conversation.

“No we are doing this now. Explain to me why or we’re breaking up.” Taeyong gripped the phone tightly and forced himself to breath once he put the ultimatum out there.

Excuse me ?” HyunTae choked out across the phone line.

“You heard me.”

Listen Taeyong,” HyunTae laughed once he had recovered from the shock. “You have a nice face and a hot body but that doesn’t make up for you being fucking stupid and irritating. If you think you can find someone to put up with you other than me, then go ahead. There aren’t that many gay idols around.

Taeyong was absolutely speechless as the words left his boyfriend’s- his ex-boyfriend’s- mouth. He couldn’t stop the gasp from escaping his lips and tears threatened at his eyes again.

Nothing to say huh?” HyunTae taunted. “You’re just a dime a dozen slut Taeyong. You think I can’t replace you in a second? You think I wasn’t thinking of countless others as I fucked you into the-

Taeyong hung up the phone as the tirade got too much to hear. It had hurt too much. To make matters worse Taeyong knew the other boy's words had a ring of truth to them that he couldn’t deny.

HyunTae was Gun, an openly gay and confident idol that had men falling at his feet all the time and Taeyong… Taeyong was just a fool that had been swept along. There wasn’t much chance of finding someone else in a company as tightly controlled as SM, especially out of NCT, and Taeyong sat there hoping he hadn’t just made a huge mistake.

 


 

“Youngie we need to go or we’ll miss the plane.”

Johnny’s voice pulled Taeyong from his memory. Taeyong blinked to clear the tears that had gathered there at the remembered words and slowly sat up.

“You okay?” Johnny paused where he had been about to leave the bedroom. His voice full of concern.

“Yeah Hyung.” Taeyong forced a smile and pushed himself up from the bed. “Just let me grab my suitcases.”

“I’ll grab the big one.” Johnny offered and effortlessly hoisted it into the air to descend the stairs.

Taeyong gaped in awe at how strong Johnny was as he was reminded yet again of the gentle giant’s capabilities. Taeyong grabbed his smaller carry on and followed Johnny out to the taxi waiting to take them to the airport.

“You got everything?” Johnny asked wiping his hands down the thighs of his jeans.

“Bit late for that isn’t it?” Taeyong joked.

“Maybe.” Johnny laughed. “We can always buy whatever we’ve forgotten once we get to the States.”

“What you’ve forgotten.” Taeyong muttered underneath his breath.

“Say that again.” Johnny growled playfully and picked Taeyong up from behind.

Taeyong laughed and struggled until Johnny put him down and nudged him towards the open door of the car.

“Such a gentleman.” Taeyong smiled as he climbed in and Johnny closed the door.

Taeyong found himself getting excited for the trip now that it was so close. It had been a while since Johnny had been back to the US and got to see some of his family out there. Taeyong was honoured that Johnny had invited him along.

Shaking his head to throw off the gloomy memories from earlier he focused on plugging in his phone to get a playlist going for the drive.

“Mum says she can pick us up once we get to Chicago.” Johnny informed him looking up from his phone.

“That’s good. You excited see her?” Taeyong asked.

“Yeah. It will be awesome to go home and see everyone.” Johnny had a wistful smile on his face as he remembered his mother and the countless childhood memories that accompanied her smile.

“I’m glad.” Taeyong found himself smiling back as Johnny’s bright eyes met his own.

“Plus I’m super stoked to show you everything. You’re gunna love it and my family will love you.”

Taeyong felt himself blush at the praise. It’s not like he was the boyfriend being introduced to the parents for the first time. He was just a friend, a colleague… yeah just a friend.

“Let’s just get there first.” Taeyong looked out of the window to hide his glowing cheeks from the older boy.

“Everything will be fine.” Johnny said confidently.

Around fifteen hours and one bumpy landing later Taeyong had to admit that Johnny’s laid back attitude was a balm while traveling. He hadn’t been allowed to stress about anything other than cleaning his little fold out tray when they had first sat down.

Johnny had taken care of the luggage and finding the gate with such ease that Taeyong had left him too it willingly. It was nice to have someone else run things for a while. Being a leader was rewarding but sometimes it was downright exhausting; this free time had come just on schedule for Taeyong.

They had gotten a few looks, both in Korea and in Chicago, that had Taeyong pulling his mask higher over his nose and lowering his hood but no one had approached them. Taeyong counted that as a definite win. He was fully ready to relax and enjoy the holiday to the fullest with his own personal tour guide.

Meeting Johnny’s mother was a surreal experience for Taeyong. On the one hand they were so similar with big smiling faces and soft, calming voices. On the other hand Johnny’s mother was absolutely tiny and seemed to bustle around her son checking him over.

Johnny had huffed but allowed the thorough exam with a fond smile on his face.

“Mum, this is Taeyongie.” Johnny stepped back and put his arm around Taeyong’s shoulders.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Taeyong bowed deeply in greeting.

“It’s good to finally meet you as well. Thank you for taking such great care of my son.” Johnny’s mother laughed.

“He takes care of me more than I take care of him. Your son is very thoughtful.” Taeyong confessed and saw happiness dance in the woman’s eyes.

“I knew I must have done something right with him.”

When Johnny’s mum had dropped them off at the hotel after making them promise to come by and visit for lunch sometime, Taeyong was ready to drop.

The room contained a single king size but Taeyong wasn’t even fazed. He had shared a room, and even a bed, with Johnny enough times to not be bothered by his sleeping habits anymore.

“I’m going to shower. You need anything?” Johnny called as he grabbed a towel off the bed.

Taeyong grunted from where he was lying on the bed and didn’t even open his eyes.

“Okay then. Don’t fall asleep yet. We should try and grab some food.” Johnny scolded him as he disappeared into the bathroom.

Taeyong lay still for a while as the water started running but knew if he stayed lying down for much longer he would, indeed, fall asleep. Forcing himself up he reached blindly for his phone.

He froze in shock as he saw a message displayed on the lock screen. The number was unknown but from the content of the message it could only be from one person.

Checking over his shoulder that Johnny was still in the bathroom he clicked on the message with baited breath.

 

Unknown.
I miss you. Let’s meet up some time. ;)

 

Taeyong felt his eyes widen as he read and reread the message to make sure he wasn’t imagining it. The message remained unchanged and Taeyong found himself getting angry.

After four months of silence. Of seeing HyunTae’s Instagram with countless men and the new music video. Taeyong was done. He was about to switch of the chat when a new message come through.

 

Unknown.
Come on Taeyong. u know u cn’t resist it. DDDD. I’m getting hard just thinking about u.

 

Fury surged through Taeyong and he felt the shame of being used by the other man resurface. There was no other way to think of their relationship. It had been sex with a glorified name and Taeyong was only annoyed he had wasted so much energy mourning the loss of it.

 

Taeyong.
I’m not interested. Don’t contact me again.

Unknown.
Bitch. u’ll regret that.

 

Taeyong sighed and turned his phone onto silent before flinging it away to collapse back against the sheets. HyunTae really did have impeccable timing to text now; when Taeyong had finally moved on and stopped his moping.

A weight dipping down onto the bed beside him pulled Taeyong out of his sulk but he stubbornly kept his arm over his eyes. Taeyong could hear the rasp of a towel as Johnny began to dry off his hair as he waited.

Once the silence became too much Taeyong finally huffed and sat up to glare at the other boy.

“You’re getting my side of the bed wet.”

“I didn’t realise we had sides.” Johnny chuckled and Taeyong pushed at him in annoyance.

“You know what I mean.”

“Sure, sure.”

Johnny continued drying himself off before getting up to hunt around for a change of clothes in his suitcase. Taeyong watched him moving out of the corner of his eye but couldn’t help glaring at his phone where it lay face down on the duvet.

“Did something happen?” Johnny asked casually.

“No, why would you say that?”

“Taeyong-a?” Johnny turned to face Taeyong with a raised eyebrow.

Taeyong gulped and picked up his phone to fiddle with the case and avoid looking up at his friend. Not only way it extremely unfair how observant Johnny was when it came to Taeyong’s mood, but it was also that fact Johnny was naked and wet during the argument.

“Fine, something happened but it’s not a big deal.”

“Alright then; if you’re sure.”

Johnny turned back to his suitcase and pulled out a few dress shirts before laying them out on the bed. Instead of getting dresses straight away, and covering up his firm chest, Johnny moved over to the large mirror to mess around with his hair. Taeyong knew of a fact Johnny was doing it on purpose, it was a technique he had used the entire time they had known each other, and it was working. Why did it still work?

Faced with the wonderful image of Johnny’s bare back Taeyong’s mouth watered and Taeyong felt guilty at keeping secrets from the other, well secrets other than his enormous crush, especially when it really wasn’t a big deal.

“HyunTae texted.” Taeyong whispered.

Taeyong almost hoped that Johnny hadn’t heard him but from the way the other boy froze after he spoke it was obvious he had. Johnny turned slowly before returning to sit beside Taeyong on the bed.

“Are you okay?” Johnny asked gently.

“Yeah.” Taeyong shrugged. “I just wasn’t expecting it.”

“What did he want?”

“To hook up, I think.” Taeyong sighed and unlocked his phone to show Johnny the messages.

Johnny took the phone from Taeyong’s outstretched hand and scrolled through the messages silently. Taeyong fiddled with his fingers as he waited and couldn’t help but feel slightly pleased at the angry look that over took Johnny’s face.

“Fuck him. You could always have done so much better.” Johnny snapped.

“You’re just saying that.”

“No, I’m not.” Johnny twisted around to face Taeyong. “I mean it, Yongie. I never liked him.”

Taeyong felt the smile fall of his face at Johnny’s words. He remembered Johnny’s objections to his relationship with HyunTae very well; the other hadn’t exactly been subtle. His displeasure must have shown on his face because Johnny sat forwards and grabbed Taeyong’s hands in his.

“It’s not like that. You’re very special to me, Yongie, but I respected that you wanted to stop hooking up. I was just… hurt that you wanted to date him when we only fooled around. I didn’t mean it make it more difficult for you.”

“I know, Hyung.” Taeyong swallowed painfully around his words and tried to stop the tears prickling in his eyes. “I know.”

Chapter Text

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.

 

Doyoung.

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.

 

Doyoung.

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.

"Were you?"

"Yes."

"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."

"You are."

"So what if I am. What's a little fun between friends?"

"Yong, you- nevermind." Johnny sighed and shook his head.

"I what?"

"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.

 


 

"Yongie?"

Johnny's questioning voice brought Taeyong out of his memories yet again.

"Yeah?"

"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."

"You sure?"

"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.

 

Unknown.

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.

 

Unknown.

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.

 

Unknown.

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."

Chapter Text

Taeyong clutched onto Johnny's arms as the taller man wrapped him tightly in his embrace. Taeyong's entire world felt like it was shattering and the splinters were raining down at his feet; hitting those around him that were most important. Taeyong had no idea exactly what HyunTae's threat meant, he wasn’t aware of anything blackmail worthy, other than something that would most likely involve outing him.

Taeyong dragged in shuddering breaths as he hid away from the world. If that happened he would most likely be kicked out of SM and the industry as a whole. A breach of contract and cultural taboo just wasn’t acceptable in such a high stakes world. He just hoped, when the time came, his members could forgive him and move on.

Worried voices began to buzz around him as they stood huddled in the street and Taeyong couldn't help but shove his face further into Johnny's chest as his sobs continued to force themselves out of his body. He hated how weak he was being, and in public nonetheless, but no matter how hard he tried, Taeyong couldn't stop shaking and crying.

A gentle voice spoke to them in English but it sounded much louder than the gathering clamour around them and Taeyong shied away as Johnny answered. The different language and his thundering heart beat meant that Taeyong has no clue what was exchanged, but he was suddenly being guided through a doorway and silence enveloped them.

Johnny exchanged a few more words with the other man present before they were left alone and Johnny pulled Taeyong even tighter against him. Comforting hands brushed their way up and down Taeyong’s back as they swayed in the quiet space for a few minutes.

"Just breathe for me, Yongie. Follow my rhythm and try to calm down."

Taeyong did just that as Johnny continued to sooth him and protect him from the cold numbness settling in Taeyong’s body. Despite the fact he was still shaking violently, Taeyong pulled away and wiped at his eyes; trying desperately to pull back his emotions and hold it together. Johnny’s hands followed him as he moved away but fell away easily when Taeyong shrugged them off.

“I’m sorry,” Taeyong mumbled, scared and too embarrassed to look up at the other man in front of him.

“What are you sorry for? What the hell happened?”

“I… I just-”

Before Taeyong could get any further one of the waiters slipped into the room with them and spoke with Johnny again. Johnny smiled and nodded, clearly thanking the man, before turning back to Taeyong.

“The restaurant called a taxi, are… are you okay to go back out there?”

“I’ll be fine.”

Taeyong turned to head out when the waiter stepped forward again and held out a smartphone. At first Taeyong just stared at the hated device but Johnny soon nudged him and Taeyong reached out to collect it from the man’s outstretched hand. It felt like his hand was moving in slow motion as he reached out to collect it; the notification banner displayed on the screen taunting him and driving the barbed words straight into his stomach. As soon as it was in his hand, Taeyong swiped the messages away and pressed the power button.

“You left it on the table.” Johnny reminded him as Taeyong gazed down at the screen, his eyes focused on his empty and numb expression reflected there.

“Right… tell him ‘thank you’ for me.”

Johnny turned to do just that and a sudden ping of a new notification filled the air. Taeyong looked down instinctively and felt his blood run cold.

 

Unknown.

Call me and beg bitch .

 

Letting out a shuddering breath, Taeyong shoved his phone into a pocket and reached up to pull at his hair anxiously. No more notification sounds followed the unanswered message and Taeyong knew that HyunTae was just waiting, the other man had the upper hand, he had to be totally confident Taeyong would call.

Everything was suddenly so out of control and his life was spiralling; his fingertips slipping on the edge of a slippery ledge as a dark, shadowed figure loomed above him. He could lose everything: his members, his family, his career. A true fall from grace. It could ruin everything but, HyunTae had to know it would be a bad move for the both of them just outing Taeyong. It didn't make sense, what else could the man mean by 'public' ?

Johnny was suddenly by his side again, hooking a mask over Taeyong's and carefully pulling up his hoodie; arranging it so it sat forward covering most of Taeyong's face. Looking up from beneath the hood and his fringe, Taeyong wondered how easy it would be to tell the other man; to get help and maybe stop the endless feeling of free fall that had sprung up in his stomach.

No matter how much Taeyong wanted to feel the warmth and support of Johnny's love and embrace, he knew he wouldn't say anything. It was a private matter, and Johnny had made it clear he didn't want to go back to that with Taeyong, if it did affect the group - Taeyong would just have to protect him like he would any other member.

Mind made up, Taeyong stuffed his hands into his pockets and hunched in on himself. He could make it to the hotel. He could make it to the taxi. He could hold it together a little longer.

"Ready?" Johnny asked, his face clouded with concern.

"Yeah. Let's go."

The waiter pushed open the door for them and Johnny pressed against Taeyong's side, a gentle arm laid unassumingly over his shoulders as he guided Taeyong towards the waiting taxi. As soon as they stepped outside a small crowd began to gather and a deep murmur surrounded them. 

"NCT-… Taeyong Oppa-… crying when we-… Johnny and-..." Fragments of sentences in another language rose and fell from Taeyong's awareness as he tried to fight his way through the growing crowd.

At first Taeyong didn't understand what was happening until piercing female voices reached his ears. Johnny's tugging became more intense as the crush of people, both fans and curious bystanders, grew to be unbearable.

"Oppa?!"

"It is! It is them!"

"Taeyong Oppa, Johnny Oppa-"

The squeals rose in volume and Taeyong tried to burrow further into Johnny solid mass beside him.

"Taeyong Oppa… it's okay, don't cry."

"Oppa!"

The thoughts of fans and strangers being around him sent Taeyong into a panic and all he wanted was to be home and away from everything. Reaching out, Taeyong hooked his fingers into the fabric of Johnny's jacket and held on with all the strength he had until they were finally seated in the back of the taxi.

As the vehicle sped away Taeyong felt a wave of numbness engulf him as if he had finally fallen from the ledge and plunged into the icy waters below, head fully submerged in darkness. The weight of his phone sitting in his pocket felt like a brand on his thigh and Taeyong was tempted to throw the damn thing out the window - to hell with it.

A large hand coming to rest on his elbow made Taeyong turn his head but the very sight of Johnny, so close but still obscured by the murky waters in his head, made everything tighten and prickle in Taeyong's chest. The muffled concern and care that emanated from the other man seemed to drip off of Taeyong - he wasn't worth it anyway.

"Yongie? You doing okay?" Taeyong blinked dumbly over at Johnny but found he couldn't hold his gaze and turned to look down at his lap instead.

"Please talk to me, Taeyong-a. Do you feel sick? You still look pale."

Still Taeyong couldn't answer, he didn't know what to say, and a massive weight seemed to settle on his chest; choking away his air for words. The stone of guilt and dread dragged him deeper into the waters of his mind and suddenly even the warmth of Johnny's touch was gone despite the hand still resting on his arm.

"I'm here for you. You can tell me anything; maybe I can help."

Taeyong's lips felt as though they were glued together as he listened to Johnny's endless and well-meaning words but nothing seemed to get through to his drowning mind. Swallowing down the knot of guilt and fear, Taeyong turned away from the other man to gaze out the window blankly; barely seeing the busy streets that were whizzing by.

Instead, his mind wandered to his members. He had let them down and the uncertainty of what might happen- of what HyunTae might do- had Taeyong’s hands shaking as he squeezed them between his legs. The bright swirls of light zipping through the dark window became blurred as Taeyong’s eyes focused on his own pale reflection. Looking at his highly praised features in the smeared surface all Taeyong could see was the scared soul underneath and doubt began to cloud his once bright eyes.

The thought of leaving, of losing the others and their amazing fanbase was one of the most painful things Taeyong could consider but, when it came down to it, he would leave the group in a heartbeat if it meant protecting them. It was his responsibility as a leader and Hyung. He could bare it so they wouldn’t have to.

As he thought about each of his special members and all the memories he had with them the reflected image in front of him shifted and weaved in the smooth surface. The face now looking back at him was no longer his own but Taeil. His oldest Hyung smiled at him with such a proud expression that it seemed to even manage to cut through Taeyong’s utter despair, his members were always such a great support and comfort in everything. Keeping his gaze glued to Taeil’s bright smile, Taeyong almost felt himself calming down and returning to his body but suddenly the other man’s image began to distort and change.

Suddenly the eyes looking back at him weren’t familiar or soft; instead they were closed off and angry. Taeil’s ever present smile was replaced with a set of pursed lips and a flexing, tensed jaw that seemed so out of place on his playful friend. The urge to be sick rose in Taeyong's throat and he scrubbed at his eyes vigorously before turning back to look at the window.

The image of Taeil was gone and only his own hollow cheeks and guilt-filled eyes remained. Watching his ghostly shape felt like tempting fate but Taeyong couldn't look away as the lines began to morph once again.

This time Doyoung stared back at him, a wide grin and merth filled eyes tugging at Taeyong's heart painfully. All it took was one blink and the accusing, hate filled look returned but on new and even more damning features. The vocalist glared at him sharply; making it clear whose fault it was that everything was ruined.

Before Taeyong could look away Mark appeared, sweet and innocent Mark, his adoring and wonder-filled face bringing only fear and dread to Taeyong's body. The younger man's face seemed to distort almost immediately; the tears and hurt appearing on the youth's image sending shards into Taeyong's skin.

Mark was quickly replaced and the cycle of happiness warping into an ugly restment continued endlessly. A reminder of exactly how precious everything he had was, playing over and over in front of his eyes, only to be ripped away with the knowledge of his mistakes. The faces of his members; his family rolled into one another - no one was missed or forgotten as Taeyong's mind played each reaction in vivid detail.

Love, hate. Joy, pain. Laughter, tears. Warmth, loneliness.

Over and over and over again.

Whirling and whirling and whirling and-

"Taeyong?"

Johnny .

Taeyong's eyes snapped round to see the other man leaning over the middle seat and gripping his hand in a death hold. The concern and fear was so tangible that Taeyong felt himself break all over again. He wanted that; he wanted to keep that, but he couldn't.

Taeyong reluctantly pulled his hand away and leaned back against the headrest with his eyes tightly screwed shut. He couldn't bear to look at Johnny, he couldn't cope with seeing the other's features change; knowing it was real and not some spectre of his mind.

He was so lost in his daze that Taeyong didn't even notice when they arrived at the hotel and he allowed Johnny to take charge again as he was guided out of the taxi and into the lift. Taeyong took a deep breath as he leaned heavily against Johnny and lifted his head just enough to take on his surrounds.

Standing in the small box with just his own and Johnny's breathing in his ears felt like a detached experience; Taeyong tried to avoid his reflection on every surface of the mirrored walls. As they rose the pressure in his lungs and throat increased tenfold to the point where Taeyong was sure he had actually fallen into thundering water below that precarious ledge and couldn't breathe.

Stepping out of the lift and into the long hallway to their room, Taeyong nearly lost his footing as dark spots began to dance in front of his eyes. Once again, Johnny's strong arms wrapped around his waist and guided him back to his feet. He could feel Johnny trying to move him back against the wall but Taeyong couldn't bear to be out in the open any longer. Too many people watching. Too many eyes.

Pulling away from Johnny, Taeyong staggered down the hallway with his eyes steadfastly glued to the carpet until he reached what he thought was their room. Johnny pressed up against his back to use the key card and suddenly Taeyong felt a wave of relief as he stepped into the dark and silent room. Making a bee like for the bed, Taeyong didn't even stop; kicking his shoes off as he climbed onto the thick mattress before he burrowed completely under the sheets.

A dip in the bed told him Johnny had followed him in and sat with him but the other man said nothing as Taeykgn hid away from the world. It felt secure as Taeyong stayed in the gloom of the sheets; the press of the weight on his chest and too hot air from his unsteady exhales weaving a lethargy into his racing mind.

Just as it felt the silence between then had been stretched too thin, a phone rang and Johnny jumped to answered it. The rustling and fumbling from outside of his fabric universe tickled Taeyong's ears as he listened. Johnny seemed to pause for a second before he cleared his throat and answered the ringing device.

"Doyoung-a, hi, yes hello."

Silence returned to the room as Johnny listened to Doyoung on the other end of the line. Taeyong felt ridiculous as he strained to hear the other's voice but he desperately wanted to hear the real Doyoung as the dark eyes from the car flashed through his vision.

"Yeah, we just got back to the hotel. The flight was fine but then- what?"

A pause again and Taeyong felt the tension in the room skyrocket as he waited.

"No it's fine, but actually- hold on just a moment I need to…"

Johnny's voice trailed off as he left the room and the door clicked shut behind him. Suddenly alone, and knowing full well what Johnny was discussing in 'private', Taeyong couldn't bear to be in the stuffy darkness. Sitting up and flinging the covers off his head, Taeyong looked around the bright room in a daze. The new position put pressure on the phone still hidden in his pocket and Taeyong blinked down at the rectangular outline.

Slipping it out of the tight pocket, Taeyong flipped the device in his hands nervously. The same notification still appeared on the screen, a few others had joined it from his members and friends but Taeyong didn't even process them.

Unlocking his phone, Taeyong's breath caught as he sat and stared. He had to know. He had to call. He had to be ready if it was going to the others. Whatever it would take, Taeyong would do.

Taking a deep breath, Taeyong opened his messages and his finger hovered the call button on the chat. The pounding in his chest grew insistent and the entire world seemed to jolt with each rapid pulse. Finally hitting the button, Taeyong blew out the breath and pressed the phone to his ear.

The sound of ringing was like a bolt of lightning through his body and each time the tone repeated Taeyong grew more and more afraid. When the voice message machine picked up the call Taeyong was about to lose his mind at HyunTae's game.

He didn't pick up.

He didn't need to pick up.

Taeyong would call again.

Pathetic.

Releasing another shuddering breath Taeyong pressed the call button again and waited. Biting his lip against the tense, Taeyong counted to rings as they came and went when, suddenly, the click of the call going through shattering through his hypnotic rhythm.

"Taeyong."

The voice was brusque and no nonsense. HyunTae had been waiting. Taeyong found he couldn't answer as the very sound of the other man's voice pushed him back into the last phone call they had had together.

"Finally learned to shut up?" HyunTae taunted.

"What- what do you want?" Taeyong finally stuttered out, his hand clutching the phone so hard he could hear the material creaking from the pressure.

"I was just giving you want you want Taeyong-a. A bit of attention." HyunTae drawled obscenely. "Is he better than me?"

"It's not like that. He's-"

" Oh really? So he doesn't fuck you like I did? Doesn't make you scream until you forget your own name, like I did? Doesn't clench around you so tightly on those rare occasions you want to take control? Tell me, Taeyong, who's better out of the two of us? Huh?"

"That's not-"

"Do you even care? Or do you just want attention? I bet you were fucking with him while we were together, right? You always looked at him differently."

"I wasn't the one that cheated." Taeyong argued, finally finding his voice as righteous anger burst through him. "That was you."

"That was harmless, drunk fun at the club; you were the one that blew it out of proportion and then dumped me. I thought we could move past it."

"You called me a 'slut'." Taeyong spat down the phone, hatred for how he had allowed himself to be treated boiling and thundering in his gut. "If I'm so easy to 'replace' why are you still bothering me now. What about the people all over your social media?"

"They're just business, baby, what we had was different. You know I care about you."

"No, you don't."

A heavy sigh came over the line rolling in static and fake airs. HyunTae chuckled to himself and suddenly all of the playfulness was gone.

"No, I don't. But I do care, however, about things that were once mine parading around with someone else. We never took a selca together or went public. That hurts, Taeyong. Not to mention it would have boosted my career and fanbase to be seen with NCT's Taeyong."

"You know why we never-"

"Don't shove that excuse down my throat again." HyunTae snapped. "We both know why."

"HyunTae, please-"

"It's too late for begging now, bitch. I just thought it was unfair that this guy got a picture with you when I never did. You can't blame me for posting pictures of my own, can you?"

"What are you talking about?" Taeyong felt his voice echo in his ears as a high pitched buzz began to sound and the room swayed.

"It's the least you could do, Taeyong. If I have to struggle and remain small time because of my sexuality, then I'd like to see how a hotshot idol like you will be able to survive being outed. It's only fair."

"Outed?" Taeyong repeated hollowly.

"Check your inbox."

The call cut off before Taeyong could even process the other's words and he pulled the phone away from his ear to stare dumbly at the 'call ended' screen. As he sat numbly three new notifications popped up from an unknown number and Taeyong felt his heart skip a beat.

Pressing on the message icon Taeyong's eyes nearly fell out of his skull as it took him to the first attachment. Staring at the screen, Taeyong felt a sick dread creeping out of his stomach and up into his throat. Swiping to the next one, the feeling grew and Taeyong felt tears threatening once again. Swiping one last time, Taeyong dropped the phone from shaky fingers and sprinted for the bathroom before dry heaving everything in his stomach into the toilet bowl.