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call me friend but keep me closer

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Jaehyun was drunk.

 

Bravely, annoyingly, gorgeously drunk.

 

He was also wearing fewer clothes than he was supposed to – jacket lost to some dark corner of the house hours ago – but his body was burning inside, so the amount of skin exposed was actually welcome.

 

(Other people before were also welcoming the pretty boy that was showing his bare arms around. If Taeyong were still there, he would have tried to fight anyone who dared to stare at Jaehyun for two seconds too long. A lesson about over sexualization would make its way in the conversation, because one could only expect this kind of parental admonishing from Taeyong.)

 

He could feel the heat speeding through his body. The living room – whose house was it again? – was dark, plastic cups and empty bottles decorating the floor. There was a girl sitting on the sofa, next to Jaehyun, her head resting on his shoulder and swaying every now and then. It was almost in sync with the beat of the song that was playing much quieter now. Judging by the weird choice of 00s nu metal, whoever was still conscious (if anyone, at all) was not terribly concerned with the sound system.

 

Taeyong and Youngho had gone home hours earlier, and Jaehyun didn’t trust himself to walk back home alone with his own legs. He wriggled his body to reach his back pocket, fishing for his cellphone. In his drunken haze, he managed to hit the unknown girl twice. She didn’t even flinch.

 

-

 

Doyoung was asleep.

 

Just – quietly asleep.

 

His steady breaths were swallowed each time by his sober pillow case, dark hair splayed all over it. He had gone to bed early that night, looking forward to crawling under the sheets and being dead to world for the following fifteen hours.

 

Unfinished assignments were lying on his desk, and Yuta had asked earlier if everything was okay – Doyoung was nothing short of a perfectionist when it came to his post grad course. True to himself, he told Yuta to fuck off and proceeded to finish his noodles in silence.

 

Everything was great. Right? He was part of a program he had always dreamed of, in a fancy university people killed to get in. He was a good son who called his parents twice a week, a responsible adult who could do his own taxes, a reliable friend who did his best to keep in touch with people he liked.

 

Life was brilliant.

 

Right?

 

Doyoung phone started to ring on his bedside table. It took him three rings to wake up, stirring sleepily and reaching for the it without opening his eyes. He squinted at the screen – it was 3:04 am.

 

It was 03:04 am on a Saturday, and Jung Jaehyun was calling him.

 

-

 

Jaehyun combed his hand thorugh his own damp hair, waiting for Doyoung to pick up. He was not a heavy sleeper, so it shouldn’t take too long.

 

The girl beside him raised her head suddenly – two seconds ago, it was resting on Jaehyun’s lap – and stared at him intently. She didn’t look very sober, but got up instantly like he had burned her with hot iron. She tripped on a few things – bottles, clothes, maybe a pair of high heels, who even knows – before getting to the hallway that Jaehyun was almost sure led to the kitchen.

 

Watching her walk away, he wondered if they had made out earlier. She was pretty, probably closer to Yuta’s type, but he was not a man who refused beautiful people if they showed any interest. It was a burden, to be honest, having such a flighty heart as a compass. Jaehyun was too much of a people pleaser to deny them anything, and if they wanted him, well. He was happy to oblige. He giggled to himself, and suddenly realized he would prefer it much more if Doyoung did not pick up his call. The laughter died, stillborn in his mouth.

 

Jaehyun was too much of a people pleaser, and reality hit him hard with the awareness that Doyoung would throw him that specific brand of Doyoung judgmental stare if he got to see him like this: reeking of alcohol, sweat, weed, and other perfumes that were definitely not his own. They had gone through one too many encounters like these, when Doyoung would treat him to clipped answers and a week-long cold shoulder.

 

 “Jaehyun?”

 

Was this what people called the point of no return? It surely felt like it.

 

-

 

During the couple of seconds that took Doyoung to accept the call and place his cellphone close to the ear that wasn’t being crushed against the pillow, his mind raced by a dozen of terrible scenarios. Sick Jaehyun. Scared Jaehyun. Helpless Jaehyun. Wounded Jaehyun.

 

A tiny voice in his head told him it wasn’t any of it, and that he should know better by now.

 

When Jaehyun’s “hyung” reached his ear, the violent boiling in his stomach ceased, giving room to a much uglier feeling. His mouth was no longer bitter, but Doyoung was quickly made aware of all the prickly ways the sheets were touching his legs.

 

Running away was an option. Jaehyun would never hold it against him if Doyoung decided to hang up and go back to sleep. He wouldn’t spare it a second thought.

 

-

 

“Jaehyun?”

Hyung~.”

 

“You’re drunk.”

 

 “I am.” Jaehyun sighed, and it turned into a giggle.

 

“What do you need? Is Taeyong with you?”

 

“Left. He’s no fun around Youngho.”

 

“What do you need?”

 

Doyoung was already looking for a hoodie to wear over his pajamas. The car keys were glinting on the bedside table.

 

“Can you come get me?” Jaehyun whined.

 

He wished he could say Jaehyun was giving him an option, but Doyoung knew he was sold on the very moment he saw Jaehyun’s name flashing on his phone screen. It was always like that.

 

“Yeah. Just. Where are you?”

 

“Dunno.” Jaehyun looked around, spotting pretty lights filtering through the half closed glass windows. So that was where the cool wind was coming from.

 

“Honestly... Can anyone around you tell me an address?”

 

“Dunno hyung, everyone’s left. The last girl run away like I had the plague.”

 

“Are you all by yourself? At a stranger’s house?”

 

“This’ not Saw, stop freaking out.” Jaehyun laughed again. It was typical Doyoung fashion to freak out over the smallest thing. He could bet the other boy was making that thing with his eyebrows right know. He always looked adorable when he did.

 

“Text me your location. I’ll get there. Drink some water.”

 

“Loveyouhyung.”

 

Doyoung’s throat clenched painfully while he got in his car.

 

“Yeah. Alright. I’m on my way.”

 

-

 

The car was eerily silent. After going through the inevitable awkwardness of helping Jaehyun walk in a straight line to the car (as well as surviving the cooing noises he had made while complimenting Doyoung on his adorable sleepy face), Doyoung couldn’t feel the slightest will to lecture Jaehyun throughout the ride.

 

They had gone through the same conversation a handful of times: be responsible, don’t drink too much, please don’t smoke weed while drinking, think about what could have happened to you in any other scenario, please stop making me worried sick. Please don’t call me anymore.

 

(But if you need somebody, anybody, anything, please call me – and not anyone else.)

 

This was their dynamic however. Doyoung had the brilliant idea to blow up all his chances one year ago, with too earnest actions and straightforward conversations. For all the attention Jaehyun liked to receive, he surely didn’t knew how to handle beautiful, witty Kim Doyoung acting like the composed adult Jaehyun himself hopelessly aimed to be.

 

So what Jaehyun thinks he allowed them to have instead was early morning calls. Drunken conversations, endless nagging mixed with mutual headaches. Vomit all over Doyoung’s car once or twice.

 

(What he actually allowed Doyoung – as much as he avoided thinking about it at all costs, unless it was 3 in the morning and he was too wasted to think straight – was to be the only person important enough to be able to take care of him, the only person Jaehyun would trust with his own life. The only phone number he could type from the top of his head, while refusing to face what it meant to know it by heart.)

 

-

 

They stopped at a red light.

 

“Are you mad at me?”

 

Doyoung sighed. He felt like his lungs went out through his mouth, together with his breath.

 

“No, I’m not.” He let the silence stretch a little. It was going to be a good thirty minutes until they arrived at Jaehyun’s dorms. “Are you feeling better? Do you want me to buy more water?”

 

Jaehyun was nursing the tall water bottle Doyoung carried with him everywhere. He had sobered up some, the heat that was bothering him before had receded and it welcomed a funny wiggly tingle he was used to dealing with whenever Doyoung was around.

 

“I’m alright. Sleepy. No water needed.”

 

“Have you eaten?”

 

He hummed in lieu of a response, too tired to think if that cheap ramen five hours prior could be classified as a yes to the question. It probably couldn’t. As inconspicuously as he could manage, Jaehyun turned his head to face Doyoung, noticing his expressive eyebrows were pinched, bottom lip caught in his teeth.

 

“Hyung.”

 

A dog barked twice somewhere.

 

“Doyoung.” He hated, hated when Jaehyun did this.

 

“I worry. You know I do, and I won’t apologize for it, so. Let me be. I’m sure trying to do the same to you.”

 

“I don’t wanna worry you. You look lovely when you’re smiling, hyung. I don’t wanna take that away from you.” His honesty was too raw to go unnoticed.

 

Because his knuckles were turning white, Doyoung willed himself to apply less strength to the wheel. Driving with one hand for a moment, he rubbed his other palm to his pants to dry the sweat. Actual effort had to be made to avoid rubbing this hand all over his face.

 

“You can’t just tell me shit like that and then go back to your goddamn life like nothing happened, Jung Jaehyun. It’s really unfair.” He muttered, maybe more to himself, but Jaehyun wouldn’t be able to not hear it anyway.

 

And that seemed like a cue to drink more water.

 

-

 

Although he was still a student at the same university, it had been a while since Doyoung wandered through the dorms hallways. When they arrived at the entrance, Jaehyun was already asleep on his seat, so Doyoung unbuckled both of their seatbelts and carried on with the task of making the other boy wake up enough to walk to his own bedroom.

 

If he spent a couple of minutes carding his fingers through Jaehyun’s soft hair, he sure enough made a point of not acknowledging it.

 

(He did.)

 

They made it to the bedroom without a word being thrown in the open. Doyoung was so tired, and not even from being awake at an ungodly hour. Mark’s bed was empty, so he sued it as an excuse to stay and assist Jaehyun throughout the whole process of removing his shoes and jeans, brushing his teeth and drinking more water, helping himself to a glass after noticing a fresh purple spot on Jaehyun’s collarbones.

 

All of it felt terribly bittersweet.

 

Doyoung was allowing himself to entertain the thought of doing all of that, but being able to kiss Jaehyun goodnight, lying down next to him, and waking up to his swollen sleepy face in the morning. It was not something he usually did – self-pity was too humiliating to begin with – but sometimes he couldn’t help it.

 

-

 

After what it felt like a lifetime of barely suppressed groans and too many metaphorical butterflies in imaginary stomachs, Jaehyun was in his bed, safe and hydrated.

 

“I’m going now, ok? Text me when you wake up.” Doyoung reached for Jaehyun’s hair despite himself.

 

“Hmm. Thanks, hyung. Please don’t hate me. Can I call? Tomorrow?”

 

Doyoung’s fingers stopped for a beat.

 

“I don’t hate you. I could never- Jaehyun. I just want you to be safe. I want you to have the power to take care of yourself. Do you understand that? I don’t think it’s good to think you can be irresponsible just because someone else can take care of you.”

 

“But it’s the only thing you still let me do.”

 

Suddenly the bedroom seemed like it got rid of all its oxygen at once.

 

“Sorry?” Doyoung’s tone was impassive, regardless of his heartbeat ringing in his ears.

 

“You just let me in when I hurt myself and you in the process, hyung. I hate it.” It was the alcohol speaking for sure, because the words sounded foreign even to Jaehyun’s ears. Was he that self-centered?

 

Doyoung was staring at him with wide eyes, dim lights hitting his face and flattering his bone structure, beauty like nothing else. He removed his hand from Jaehyun’s hair, and ran it through his own, thinking how irrational it was to forget one of the reasons he fell for the other boy in the first place was the fact he was way smarter than he let on.

 

“Ok. Ok. I’m willing to have this conversation when you’re sober. And properly awake. For now, go to sleep. Please.”

 

That sounded like something sober Jaehyun would regret getting himself into. He nodded in response. It looked like a glimmer of hope nonetheless, be it to end it all for good or maybe – just. Maybe.

 

“Kiss me goodnight?” In for a penny, in for a pound. He didn’t think it would actually work, until Doyoung was lowering his head awkwardly and pressing dry lips against Jaehyun’s cheek. When he went back to his sitting position again, a bright pink was coloring his face and ears.

 

Doyoung’s flustered state allowed Jaehyun a couple of seconds to moon over his blush. He got up too soon, grabbing his keys on the bedside table and holding to them like an anchor. Exhaustion was weighing on his bones, his head was a chaotic mess, and there was proper evidence he was seconds away from hyperventilating.

 

“Goodnight, Jaehyun-ah.” Doyoung had almost closed the door behind him, but went back to whisper into the bedroom. “Call me tomorrow.”

 

“Goodnight.”

 

There were no ears to hear Jaehyun’s reply anymore. He shifted on the bed, turning his back to the wall and looking at the door. Sleep seemed like a distant concept, at the same time he felt it clouding his thoughts. Mark’s obnoxious neon clock read 04:46 am. Something brave crawled inside his chest, his mind replaying Doyoung’s “call me tomorrow” over and over and over.

 

Jaehyun would never be able to list all his knowledge on Kim Doyoung. He was sweet and kind despite his resting bitch face. He was so incredibly smart and hardworking, even though he always tried to downplay it. He hated cucumber in his sandwiches, and loved caramel flavored things with a passion. Although he owned a car, he would rather walk pretty much everywhere. He was never ashamed of what he wanted or liked. Watching Brave made him cry every time. He loved finding new English music to listen to and learn the lyrics.

 

And he despised phone calls. It made Yuta want to kill Doyoung one too many times, because his roommate would never, ever answer a phone call – or make one, for that matter.

 

Jaehyun closed his eyes and let himself fall asleep.

 

He had a phone call to make in the morning.