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When Jaemin goes to sleep as “Na Jaemin, 22, struggling business student addicted to coffee" and wakes up the next morning as “Na Jaemin, 22, stranded in a barren wasteland in the middle of a desert”, the first thought that runs through his mind is ’Damn, I was really looking forward to sleeping in on Sunday.’

Picking himself up off the dusty ground, Jaemin brushes off his clothes and looks around, assessing his situation.

Whilst it’s not exactly common for Jaemin to be waking up in strange alternate dimensions on a regular basis, this isn’t the first time this has happened to him and judging by the cursed Na blood running through his veins, it probably won’t be the last time either. 

It’s all part and parcel of being the descendent of a time-travelling alien whom had gotten themselves into a nasty feud with a witch really - sometimes you got to banish demons and play with magical stones, sometimes you woke up dazed and confused in random dimensions and timelines - it is what it is.

As Jaemin squints off into the bleak desert horizon, he notes that although there isn’t anyone nearby the area he woke up in, there does appear to be a city not too far off that’s hopefully within walking distance, and hopefully populated by people and not weird, alien creatures that enjoy snacking on human flesh. 

It’s unlikely but you never know with these types of things,’ Jaemin thinks, scrunching up his face in distaste as he begins the trek towards civilization. 

It’s frustrating, and Jaemin doesn’t know why he has been summoned to this world yet but there is always a reason and right now, that reason is very low on his priority list which consists of only two things at the moment;

Priority number one: Find coffee or whatever coffee-equivalent beverage that exists here.

Priority number two: Find Jeno.


.


The first time Jaemin had experienced this phenomenon was when he was 7 years old.

He’d gone to bed the night before, his favourite stuffed toy clutched tightly to his chest and blanket tucked snug around his small frame, and had woken up alone the next day in an unfamiliar playground and promptly started bawling. Shortly after, a 7-year-old Jeno had found him hiding underneath the slide and asked him why he was crying. 

“I don’t know where I am.” Jaemin had sniffled, tears beginning to slow now that he had found someone that he recognised. “I miss my mom!”

“You want your mom?” Jeno had asked sympathetically. When Jaemin had nodded, he’d slipped a chubby hand under the slide and dragged Jaemin to his feet, exclaiming cheerfully “It’s okay, I know where she is. She’s with my mom! Let’s go find them!” 

They had been reunited quickly with their parents and it was only after they had each been given a consolatory ice cream to soothe his previous outburst that Jaemin had noticed something odd. 

“Hey Jeno,” he’d asked around a mouthful of chocolate ice cream, “why do you have those ears?”

“What do you mean, Nana?” His best friend had made a confused noise as he looked up from his own vanilla cone, the questionable pair of fluffy ears on his head perking up at the question.

Jaemin’s eyes rounded as they tracked the movement and he shouted, pointing wildly and jumping urgently on the spot. “There, on your head! You have cat ears on your head!” 

“Ow, don’t be so loud!” whined Jeno, his ears drooping sadly as they folded into themselves. “What are you talking about? Everyone has ears.”

Jaemin looked around. “Our moms don’t have ears.”

“That’s because they’re adults, Nana.” Jeno patiently explained. “All kids haves ears and tails.” 

“T-T-Tails?” Jaemin had stuttered, belatedly noticing a black cat tail flopping around lazily behind Jeno that had matched the black ears on his best friend’s head.

“You have them too.” Jeno had helpfully pointed out.

“What?!” Jaemin had squawked as he whipped around and, sure enough, there had a been a fluffy orange thing of his own dangling behind him, swishing from side to side.

Glaring at Jeno’s shit-eating grin - it had looked innocent enough when paired with his signature eye smile but Jaemin knew a shit-eating grin when he saw one (it was, after all, one of Jaemin's own favourite expressions to make) - Jaemin had gingerly reached up into his hair with his sticky fingers and patted around until he had felt them, sitting innocuously in the middle of his head.

“Ew, gross!

Anyway, once Jaemin had gotten over the palpable trauma that came with the feeling of moving cat ears on his very own head, he and Jeno had spent the rest of the day enjoyably playing until eventually they had come across an even younger boy that had been squatting alone near the footpath, his mousey-brown tail laying limp on the ground as he sniffed loudly. 

“He looks like you from earlier.” Jeno had commented .

“Hey kid!” Jaemin had called out as he ignored his best friend’s input. “Are you lost? What’s your name?”

“I can’t find my parents.” the child had mumbled, staring at the ground as he sobbed softly. “I followed this guy who said he’d take me to them but I don’t know where they are.” 

“Do you want to come with us?” Jaemin had asked gently. “Our moms are over on the bench, you can wait with us until your parents come back for you.”

“D-Do you think they’re looking for-“ 

“There you are, kid.” gruffed a man as he brusquely walked over, “I told you I’d take you to your parents, didn’t I? Come along.”

“I d-d-don’t want.” the boy had whimpered softly and shuffled closer to them. 

The decision came easy.

“Thanks for finding my brother!” Jaemin had chirped loudly with a bright smile, as he positioned himself in front of the kid. Absently, he had noted that Jeno had quietly taken one of the kid’s tiny hands in his own. “I’ll be taking him back to our mom now.” 

With a slight bow, Jaemin had grabbed the boy’s other hand and lead him back towards the playground. 

“Our mom was worried sick, Jaesoo! Don’t run off like that again, okay?” he'd commented loudly and glanced over his shoulder as the man had watched them leave silently. 

Later on, the kid had introduced himself properly as Jisung and stayed with them and their moms until his own parents had shown up in a frenzied panic, thanking them profusely.


.


Fuck, you know it would be so much easier if you could just send me exactly where I needed to be.’ Jaemin mentally curses the universe as he kicks off his boots and shakes the sand out of them. 

It had taken him 20 minutes of desert walking before he’d finally reached the outskirts of the city and at this point, Jaemin is certain that at least 90% of the water he had lost through sweat has now been reabsorbed into his body as sand and he is now part-sand forever.

“You can whisk me out of my warm bed and into the desert but you can’t even give me a car or something?” Jaemin grumbles out loud this time. It feels like there’s sand in his eyeballs. “Hey universe, you really suck!"

He stumbles back into his boots and begins venturing into the city, although upon closer look, ‘city’ isn’t quite the right term for it. Everything is grey and bleak, strange decrepit buildings made from hunkering chunks of metal and hollowed out shelters that are barely anything more than their frames. Even the ground is marred by scattered pieces of debris and scrap metal.

Sweeping his gaze around, Jaemin trudges his way through the makeshift streets. There aren’t any people in this area - that he can see anyway, Jaemin hasn’t been able to shake the feeling of eyes watching him ever since he set foot within the city perimeter - but there are noises coming from a few streets over so he decides to head in that direction.

‘Coffee is starting to look less and less likely with every step.’ thinks Jaemin sadly.


.


Sometimes, the worlds that Jaemin wakes up in aren’t very different from his own; he goes to a different school, or his favourite tv show has a different actor, or one time he was even a trainee at an entertainment company. Other times, the world is very different, filled with magical creatures and foreign technology and Jaemin hardly recognises any of it, struggling to blend in.

“Dimension-hopping” is what Jaemin has taken to calling it. 

(His grandmother had referred to it as “the implementation of universe dimensionality“ when she had explained it to him, but it had seemed like too much of a mouthful and didn’t have the same ring to it in Jaemin’s opinion. Dimension-hopping sounded way cooler anyway.

“The universe will call upon you when the use of magic has caused a negative misalignment in another parallel universe, steering it off its intended path and causing an undesirable divergence in the timeline.” his grandmother had informed him patiently, sipping at her tea, her face shrouded behind wispy puffs of steam. 

“Sounds like a problem for the other Jaemin to deal with, to be honest.” Jaemin had shrugged, swirling his own teacup around and watching as the leaves displaced themselves idly.

“Some problems are worth solving, you will find.” she had replied sagely.)

Regardless, willing or not, Jaemin still has to deal with the universe playing tricks on his timeline like a cat with a string, and it’s always a relief to find a familiar face in an unfamiliar world. Most of the time, he’ll come across at least a couple of his friends in different dimensions and even if they don’t know who Jaemin is all of the time, it’s still interesting to see what has changed each time. 

Jisung and Renjun tend to show up often and although they don’t always recognise him at first, they generally warm up to Jaemin unusually fast, as though their subconscious knows that they are friends in another universe. Chenle is another character that appears a lot but frequently he is difficult for Jaemin to reach, hovering just outside of Jaemin’s spectrum. There was one instance in which Chenle was the president’s son and his smiling face was constantly plastered across every television screen however Jaemin was never successfully able to talk to him. Occasionally, Mark and Donghyuck will make an appearance too and when they do Mark is always helpful and kind, and Donghyuck is consistently interesting and a catalyst for greater things, and the two of them have assisted Jaemin out of sticky situations more times than he can count. 

Jaemin finds that it’s comforting when his friends already have a relationship with him and it’s easy for him to pick up where the other Jaemin left off, but it’s also refreshing when they don’t know who he is and navigating their varying new idiosyncrasies in a foreign world is always a fun challenge. However, throughout it all there is one constant. 

In every universe that Jaemin has ever known, like an irrefutable fact of life, Na Jaemin and Lee Jeno are inseparable. 

Usually they are best friends, sometimes verging on a little more, sometimes a little less, and in one particularly novel universe, Jaemin and Jeno had been step-brothers which had been especially weird due to certain unnamed feelings that Jaemin has kept mentally stored in a box cheerfully labelled ’things to be dealt with later, possibly never.’ 

The point is, there is never a Jaemin without a Jeno, and Jaemin has been conditioned to believe this as a Universe-Approved Fact™ with every fibre of his being for all his life.

Really, it’s the universe’s fault for instilling this unshakeable belief within him.


.


The marketplace, if it can be called that, is bustling with people that look like they could ”beat the shit of Jaemin if he looked at them the wrong way” to put it lightly, stone-faced people covered in grime and dirt, carrying oversized guns and wearing unusually spiky, armoured clothing. Although, thinks Jaemin as he looks down at himself, he actually fits in somewhat with his own awkwardly-styled desert gear. Surreptitiously, he begins patting down his sides and pockets and is shocked to feel the outline of what appears to be a gun of his own lying hidden on the right side of his belt.

‘Okay, this is unexpected but we can work with this.’

Turning, he finds a trader eyeballing him from behind a makeshift table of wares. Jaemin flashes him a wide smile and the man angles his head away, scoffing. From where he is standing, Jaemin takes the opportunity to peer at the items offered for sale but doesn’t see anything that he recognises. Like, at all. Usually the dimensions that Jaemin ends up in give him something to work with, but everything on that table looks either extremely futuristic or horrifically retro and Jaemin doesn’t know much about any of it.

‘What kind of weird-ass dystopian society is this?’ ponders Jaemin, shaking his head silently.

“Jaemin!” shouts a voice. Startling visibly, Jaemin turns around at the call of his name. “There you are! We were wondering when you’d make it out of the desert after that run-in with those raiders.”

It's Renjun, except that this Renjun looks like he could ”fuck shit up” if he wanted to and well, normal Renjun always looks like that too but this Renjun really means it. Jaemin tries to keep the surprise he is feeling from showing on his face but he’s not sure if he’s succeeded. He probably looks constipated.

“Yeah, well, you know how it is.” replies Jaemin, shrugging and gesturing a gloved hand vaguely.

Renjun smiles as he approaches Jaemin with another boy around the same height, Jaemin’s not sure if he’s supposed to know him or not.

“Yeah, I know.” says Renjun, nodding emphatically with a sigh as he pockets an actual knife into his bag.

‘I’m glad one of us knows because I sure as hell don’t.’ thinks Jaemin hysterically, the corners of his smile twitching from where it sits plastered to his face.

“You stocking up on supplies?” asks Renjun conversationally.

“Uh.” answers Jaemin intelligently. “I guess I was looking for coffee?”

“Coffee?” prompts Renjun’s companion in a soft voice.

“Like, something with caffeine in it?” attempts Jaemin, hoping he sounds normal. If the Jaemin of this world is anything like how Jaemin is usually then Renjun should probably be able to brush off a bit of eccentric behaviour. Maybe.

“Oh! I have some Nuka-Cola if you want.” says Renjun, reaching into his bag and offering Jaemin a bottle of black liquid.

“Thanks!” replies Jaemin, accepting the item. It sort of resembles a regular bottle of Coca-Cola if that bottle was about 50 years old and looked like it had survived a nuclear apocalypse. ‘Still, caffeine is caffeine.’ shrugs Jaemin and pops open the drink.

It tastes like death and Jaemin gleefully downs half the bottle at once.

“So do you plan on staying here for a bit or are you gonna head out again straight away?” questions Renjun, fiddling with a device attached to his forearm.

“I don’t know yet, I guess I’ll decide later.” answers Jaemin casually. Nodding, Renjun seems to accept this answer so Jaemin licks his lips apprehensively and continues. “Say, do you know where I can find Jeno?"

Renjun looks up from his arm-watch-thing abruptly. “You’re looking for Jeno? Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“What do you mean?” asks Jaemin dumbly. 

There’s a strange tension in the air, Renjun looks agitated and his friend is looking nervously between the two of them and Jaemin has literally no clue what’s going on. Jaemin kinda feels like he’s a character in a video game and has just picked the wrong dialogue option.

“What do you mean 'what do I mean’?” frowns Renjun, making a pinched expression. Normally when Renjun makes this face it means someone’s about to get caught in a chokehold and Jaemin hopes it isn’t him because he’d probably die if this Renjun tried anything on him.

The device on Renjun’s friend’s arm chooses this moment to start beeping loudly. 

“It’s Yangyang,” whispers the boy, furrowing his impressive-looking eyebrows and putting a hand on Renjun’s shoulder. “He’s calling for backup."

“Ah, sorry we gotta go.” apologizes Renjun, his friend nodding once at Jaemin before dashing off. “Hey, just think about it okay? Don’t do anything rash.” adds Renjun, turning to follow.

“When am I ever rash?” drawls Jaemin, waving Renjun off with a smile.

“Na Jaemin, you are the poster boy for reckless behaviour.” deadpans Renjun, walking backwards, but he’s smiling as he says it and waves before hurrying off.

Dropping his hand, Jaemin takes another swig of his death coke and sighs, swallowing morosely and grimacing at the aftertaste.

‘I could have been in bed right now.’


.


Jaemin walks until he finds a building labelled ‘Zhong General and Inn’, and raises an eyebrow before opening the door.

Inside, he spots Jisung dressed in a vintage-style western outfit, almost cowboy-esque in nature, manning the counter and the younger boy perks up once he notices Jaemin. “You’re back again?” the boy inquires in a surprised tone. “I thought you said you weren’t coming back until at least next month.”

“Things came up, change of plans.” offers Jaemin with a laugh and a genial shrug. He’s become a pro at navigating conversations that are out of his depth by now.

“Ah, okay. Do you want your usual room?” asks Jisung, plucking a key off the shelf behind him and spinning it around one of his fingers.

“Great, thanks.” replies Jaemin, making to reach for the key but aborting the motion halfway. “Uh, I’m not sure how much cash I have on me at the moment.”

“What?” squeaks Jisung, letting out a startled cough. “Are your jokes becoming less funny or did the radiation finally get to you?”

‘Oh shit, there’s radiation trying to kill me too here?’ thinks Jaemin morbidly.

“I’m hilarious.” says Jaemin, straight-faced.

“Right.” drawls Jisung, tossing over the key. “If you try that joke on Chenle he might actually start charging you and then I can use the money to buy more rare bobbleheads.”

Jaemin nods like he understands. 

“My jokes are lost on you.” quips Jaemin, accepting the key. “By the way, do you know if Jeno is around?”

“Who?” asks Jisung as he blinks in confusion, resembling a startled mouse.

“Lee Jeno? Around my height, really good-looking, terrible jokes?”

“Sounds like you’re describing yourself.” comments Jisung unhelpfully, tapping the counter with a long, bony finger.

“Nevermind. Thanks, Jisung.” says Jaemin, shaking his head and heading upstairs. He calls from the base of the stairs, “Nice to know that you think I’m really good-looking though!"

“Wait, was that supposed to be another joke?” shouts Jisung from the front, voice echoing through the floorboards. “Jaemin, your jokes aren’t funny at all!"


.


There are people in the main street of the town walking back and forth in front of what appears to be an actual nuclear bomb placed smack-dab in the centre of the city, calmly going about their business. 

’You’ve gotta be kidding me. That’s fake, right?’ Jaemin thinks, peering dubiously up at the structure.

Doesn’t seem to be fake, judging by the audible ticking noises once Jaemin gets closer.

He’s sizing up the gigantic bomb that’s sitting in front of him when something compels him to turn around, a little nagging feeling in the corner of his mind that urges Jaemin to look behind him right now.

There’s a flash of white in the periphery of his vision and that same urge is screaming at him to follow so Jaemin does. It pays to trust your instincts when you have no idea what’s going on, Jaemin’s discovered through experience.

He picks up speed, darting and weaving through the sparse crowd and rushing round the corner. 

And shit, there he is, standing out in the sea of desolate grey and it feels like Jaemin’s vision is going into slow motion like he’s some kind of movie protagonist seeing the love of his life after being separated for years and maybe there’s some truth in that comparison. 

Jaemin’s hands are shaking.

“Jeno!” he shouts desperately, drawn towards the other like a moth to a flame.

Jeno turns at the sound of his voice and ‘Fuck, Jeno’s hair is white, he looks beautiful, this isn’t fair’. Privately, Jaemin wonders if he’s gone delirious from radiation poisoning. 

Jaemin can pinpoint the exact moment Jeno notices him because his expression, once so blank and open, switches into an icy scowl that Jaemin’s never had the misfortune of seeing directed at him before. Actually, Jaemin can’t recall having ever seen Jeno look that coldly at anyone before because in what universe is there a Jeno that isn’t soft and smiling? 

‘This one, apparently.’ thinks Jaemin bitterly.

“Jeno! Wait!” exclaims Jaemin, calling out when the other boy shifts to leave. “Wait, where are you going? Don’t go!”

He finally catches up, getting a hand on Jeno’s arm before the other violently shrugs it off. 

“Don’t talk to me.” 

The look on Jeno’s face could freeze ice.

“What? Don’t be like that. I'm sorry Jeno, please!” begs Jaemin, clenching his empty hand into a fist where it had fallen.

“Now you’re sorry,” scoffs Jeno, turning around. The edges of his lips are downturned and the expression looks unnatural on him. “It’s too late for apologies, Na Jaemin.”

“But I am! Really, I mean it. I’ll make it up to you, just give me a chance Jeno.” pleads Jaemin desperately, resorting to grovelling.

Jeno looks at Jaemin, really looks at him properly, and Jaemin can see the sorrow evident in his eyes. The Jaemin of this world must have done something bad and whatever it was it had hurt Jeno deeply. 

’This Jaemin’s an idiot.’

“There’s nothing you can do that will make me want to speak to you.” states Jeno clearly, shattering an universal truth that Jaemin has always believed as fact, along with his heart too for good measure. “Don’t go looking for me again.”

Stunned, Jaemin stands rooted to the spot, immobile from the shock, and watches Jeno in silence as he walks away.

He’s finally found it, a world in which they’re simply Jaemin, and Jeno, and not “Jaemin and Jeno".

‘Okay wow, nevermind the imminent threat of death through radiation and the sand everywhere and that weird bomb ticking just meters away, this universe is now officially the worst one I've ever travelled to.’


.


When Jaemin was 16, he had ‘dimension-hopped’ into a world where he had lived by the lighthouse near the sea, on a quaint little island that stood untouched by time. 

There he had belonged to a family of fishermen that would set sail amongst the jagged rocks of the southern coastline everyday in hopes of encountering the ocean’s hidden mystical creatures - mermaids, selkies, sirens - and possibly even catching one (although officially, they had been venturing out to catch ordinary fish and well, catching and selling fish was what put food on the table so perhaps the lie wasn't entirely untrue.)

They had never found anything in the time that Jaemin was there, and personally Jaemin believes that there wasn't anything magical present in the waters to find in the first place, despite how strongly the locals of that world seemed to cling to the fact. The point though, is that the entire process of waking up at 4 in the morning everyday only to drag himself out of his nice warm bed and float around on a cold, wet boat in the darkness for hours on end held very little appeal to Jaemin (none in fact) and his only saving grace was the fact that blessedly Jeno had also been stuck in the same boat with him. 

It was gross and uncomfortable and ridiculously slimy of all things, but somehow having Jeno by his side had made the whole thing bearable - made it enjoyable. Even when he’d been saddled with the task of cleaning and gutting the caught fish whilst the boat was still moving, it had been fun. They’d bickered back and forth over how to remove the scales, screamed and gotten terrified by a dead and waterlogged rat that had shown up unexpectedly in the net, and eventually collapsed onto each other in a seasick pile of limbs by the end of the first day. 

When Jaemin had returned home to his original world, the nauseating smell of fish guts had clung to his nose afterwards for two straight weeks and yet overall he wouldn’t consider it to have been a bad experience.

’Solid 7 out of 10. Would dimension-hop again.’


.


Within a few days of being here, Jaemin had adapted surprisingly fast to life as a member of a post-apocalyptic society where nine out of ten things appear to be either mutated, radioactive, or at least glowing alarmingly. Also he’d fortunately discovered the wonder that was Nuka-Cola Quantum on his second day, which boasted twice the normal amount of caffeine in it and Jaemin had quickly become addicted, nevermind the strange side effects that came with consuming the drink. 

He’s lying on his bed in the inn, finishing the last dregs of his third bottle of the day when Jisung opens the door to his room, sticking his head through the crack in the doorway like some kind of adorable field mouse. 

“You asked about some guy named Jeno the other day, didn’t you?” says Jisung in lieu of a proper greeting. “Are you still looking for him?”

It’s been almost a week since Jaemin’s last disastrous encounter with Jeno when the other boy had told him to never go looking for him again. Following the incident, Jaemin hasn’t seen Jeno around town nor has he heard anything about him from the people he’s asked. 

“Yes!” screeches Jaemin, coke bottle flying to the floor with a thunk as he scrambles up from the bed. “Oh my god, Jisung! Have you found him?”

“You didn’t mention that he had white hair. Seems kinda important, ya know?” comments Jisung, his eyes slowly tracking the path of the bottle as it rolls to a stop near his feet.

“I didn’t? Probably didn’t know back then.” mumbles Jaemin to himself softly. Shrugging, he dives forward into Jisung’s space, urgency dripping from his words. “So do you know where he is? Tell me everything you know.”

“Okay, calm down. First of all, I don’t know that much.” placates Jisung in a rush, his large hands coming up to hover in the air uncertainly. “Chenle just mentioned to me that he’d heard Jeno had been spotted in Vision City.

’Vision City?’ Jaemin doesn’t know where that is but he supposes he’ll just have to consult his arm-watch-thing and figure out a way to get there. He’d manage, he had dealt with stranger things in the past.

Although I’d always had Jeno by my side previously, his traitorous mind supplies. 

’Shut up brain, you aren’t helping.’ Jaemin thinks back, louder.

(He’d fortuitously learned that the device currently attached to his arm was actually called a Pip-Boy, similar to an iWatch except clunky as hell, and Chenle had generously gifted him one when Jaemin had offhandedly mentioned losing his).

“Um, I don’t know how reliable that testimony is and he might move out of the area by the time you get there but I hope it helps.” offers Jisung, chewing the edge of his lip and drawing Jaemin back out of his thoughts.

“It’s better than nothing.” answers Jaemin, moving to pack up his small assortment of material things.

Jisung watches him with a contemplative gaze. “By the way Jaemin, why are you so desperate to find this guy? Did he steal something from you?”

Jaemin resists the need to say something stupidly cheesy like "he stole my heart" but dear god, the urge to make that dumb joke is strong.

“Not exactly. I’m actually the one trying to make amends with him.”

“Oh.” hums Jisung, cocking his head to the side inquisitively. “What did you do?”

Standing up, Jaemin sighs, raking a hand through his hair as he feels the weariness of a hundred lifetimes bearing down upon his 22-year-old body.

“That’s the problem. I don’t know.”


.


“I’m heading to Vision City with Xiaojun, Yangyang and Kunhang.” says Renjun, his voice coming through distorted from the Pip-Boy’s speaker. “We can stop by Neo City and meet you halfway if you want.” he offers.

“Great. The sooner the better.” responds Jaemin, thankful for any way that he could avoid another uncomfortable hike through the desert.

“It’s an odd choice though, travelling to Vision City at this time.” remarks Renjun pointedly. “I hope you aren’t planning on doing something stupid.”

“When have I ever?” tuts Jaemin, chuckling lightly. “Oh what little faith you have in me, Renjun."

Renjun laughs but doesn’t drop the subject. “I’ve heard the rumours too, you know. He’s there, isn’t he?"

“Perhaps,” Jaemin replies coyly, “or maybe a guy just wants to walk through a wasteland for a little bit, change of scenery and all that.”

“Don’t get smart with me, Jaemin. I’m just worried.” chides Renjun, sighing as Jaemin makes out the soft noises of background chatter coming through the call. “I don’t know what went down between you two, but I don’t want either of you getting hurt even more.”

’So Renjun doesn’t know what happened either.’ notes Jaemin, crossing that avenue of information off his list.

“I don’t know, I just want- I need to make up with him.” says Jaemin truthfully. “Do you have any sort of advice for me?”

Renjun pauses and the line goes silent except for the crackle of nearby static. “Be honest.” Renjun says finally, his voice tinny and metallic-sounding through the machine but his conviction in his words strong. “He’d be a fool to give up on you when you’re clearly still in love with him.”

Jaemin closes his mouth with an audible clack. He doesn’t know what to say in reply to that.


.


Once, there had been a time in the real world - Jaemin’s original world - where they had been alone in Jaemin’s tiny studio apartment, sitting side by side on Jaemin’s bed, watching a stupid comedy skit on Jaemin’s busted old laptop. 

He’d made a joke then, something silly like an over-the-top impersonation of one of the characters, and Jeno had laughed in the same way that he always did; his eyes crinkled shut in joy and curved upwards, long eyelashes fanning his cheek gently, and a beatific smile wide upon his rosy lips, and it wasn’t any different than normal but that was the moment that did it.

He remembers it clear as day. Jaemin had drank in the sight of his best friend with his overgrown fringe and oversized jumper, his glasses knocked askew from laughing, and Jaemin had wanted.

It would have been so easy to lean in close, catch Jeno by surprise and press his mouth against Jeno’s own, open and pliant in shock. He had wanted to take whatever Jeno would let him have, wanted to push him down onto Jaemin’s bed and keep Jeno under him, soft and warm and close. Keep him there forever.

It was an idle fantasy, fleeting but powerful and unexpected enough that it had hit Jaemin like a kick in the guts, world knocked off-kilter and too unprepared to act on it. 

So Jaemin hadn’t. Instead, he’d run a hand along the back of Jeno’s spine and shared a smile and the moment had simply passed.

He still thinks about it sometimes.


.


Vision City is smaller than Neo City but the buildings look more futuristic and everything has a faint neon glow to its edges. The streets are more compact and crowded, and it feels easier to fade into the background here because the background is so damn bright.

Jaemin squints his eyes in distaste. It doesn’t matter because he’s only here to find Jeno anyway.

It takes him a while because he doesn’t know where to start but once he gets his bearings, Jaemin finds himself actually making decent progress.

Most of the people that he asks have nothing useful to offer but he picks up little bits of information here and there and eventually it’s enough to piece together a rough idea of who Jeno is.

Here’s what Jaemin has so far:

Lee Jeno arrived in Vision City four days ago alone but has been spotted meeting with a tall companion on several occasions. Supposedly, Jeno works for the military but there are also whispers that he belongs to a raider camp or is secretly a mutant, and someone even told Jaemin secretively that Jeno was actually from a vault - whatever that means. Apparently, rumours say that he’s surprisingly good with a sword, the reason his hair turned white is due to a mysterious personal trauma and not radiation, and he’d once taken down ten Enclave members because they were bullying a kitten. 

It doesn’t matter, there isn’t much of a consensus and Jaemin doubts there’s much truth to these outlandish claims. He’s been here for less than a month and already he’s heard gossip that Jaemin himself is some kind of feared, wanted mercenary because he survived a raider attack and rode into the city with Renjun and his gang. However, Jaemin hasn’t been able to find any solid evidence to shed any light on his own personal connection to Jeno though, so that unknown continues to remain a glaring mystery. 

Also it seems that Jeno’s heard of Jaemin’s arrival in town because he’s gone into hiding again and Jaemin has had no luck in confronting the other boy, he’ll have to figure out a way to corner him and make Jeno listen to him properly.

Fortunately, Jeno’s “tall companion” is a lot easier to find - once Jaemin had realised that the assortment of different names that people had been giving him actually all referred to the same person - because thankfully, between his booming voice and his giant stature, the man’s head sticks out in a crowd like a beacon signal. 

Jaemin walks up to the bar counter, places an elbow on the surface and tosses out the name confidently. “Wong Yukhei?"

“Oh hi, that’s me!” exclaims the man, spinning around on his stool to face Jaemin with a jovial smile. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m looking for my friend.” explains Jaemin, ordering a Nuka-Cola Dark from the robot bartender and taking the empty seat beside Yukhei. “I hear you know him. Lee Jeno?”

“Ah, you know Jeno?” questions Yukhei, still smiling. “I'm meeting him later today. You can hang out with me until then, in that case.” Yukhei offers, picking up his glass and knocking back a shot of bright blue liquid.

The man allows his smile to drop and turns to scrutinize Jaemin, assessing him wordlessly. “Why exactly are you searching for him, if I may ask?”

“Why do you have so many names?” asks Jaemin challengingly. 

(In his mind, Renjun’s voice calls him “reckless" again.)

It is lucky that Yukhei takes his quip in good nature, barking out a laugh and leaning backwards, posture relaxing. “Fair enough. But really, what is it that you are after?"

“I just need to see him because I-“ Jaemin lets the sentence hang there.

‘Because what?’ he thinks to himself. ‘Because I love him? Because the possibility that there is a universe where Jaemin and Jeno fall apart and never get back together sits wrong with him, grating painfully on his soul like nails on a chalkboard?’

“Because I can’t leave knowing that things are like this.” finishes Jaemin weakly.

Something pitiful must show in his expression because Yukhei doesn’t push and orders Jaemin a drink of that same blue liquid, silently sliding it in front of him as he lifts his own matching glass. 

“He should be here in an hour."


.


There are times when Jeno gets a faraway look in his eyes and Jaemin wonders; times when he thinks that maybe Jeno looks at him like he’s in love with Jaemin too.

(Maybe that’s how Jaemin looks when he stares at Jeno.)

Sometimes he will turn around and catch Jeno staring when he thinks Jaemin isn’t watching, an unreadable expression etched upon his pretty face. Other times, they will be talking and Jeno’s gaze will dip down unconsciously, focusing on Jaemin’s mouth and Jaemin will stare at him until the other boy realizes, twisting away quickly with his ears flushing pink. 

On certain days, Jeno will act uncharacteristically cute and clingy, resting his head on Jaemin’s shoulder and placing his legs in Jaemin’s lap, entwining their long limbs together. 

It is shockingly easy for him to picture a future where Jeno is his and Jaemin is Jeno’s and really, don’t they belong to each other already?

A Jaemin and a Jeno in every universe.

So Jaemin wonders and hopes but he doesn’t allow himself to try.


.


Jaemin is effortlessly aware of Jeno’s arrival as soon as the other throws open the door to the bar, standing out with his white hair and striking features, appearing right on time and yet Jaemin is still caught offguard by his presence.

He takes one step into the building, locks eyes with Jaemin, and instantly bolts out the door again. Blinking off his stupor, Jaemin startles into action, leaping off his chair and stumbling out the bar in pursuit of him.

Jeno is fast but the two of them have always been evenly matched in terms of speed and strength so Jaemin knows he can catch up as long as he keeps at it persistently enough. He doesn’t bother with telling Jeno to stop, knowing now that it won’t make much of a difference, and saves his breath instead, running through the back alleyways in long, even strides.

Strategically, Jeno tries to dart into a vacant building, attempting a shortcut through to the main street where there are more people but he’s misjudged the situation, ending up trapped in a corner of the block with no exits unless he can make it past Jaemin.

“Jeno, relax.” commands Jaemin, holding his unarmed hands up like he’s trying to soothe a small animal. “I want to talk, that’s all.”

The other boy ignores him, glancing behind Jaemin and cataloguing his options.

“Jeno. Don't.” Jaemin says, warningly.

Jeno makes a break for it, trying to slip past Jaemin’s right side and rushing towards an opening in the wall. He makes it dangerously close to escaping before Jaemin catches him, wrapping both arms around Jeno’s waist and dragging him bodily backwards. The two get caught up in a skirmish, struggling and grappling with each other desperately with conflicting objectives until eventually Jaemin manages to pin Jeno to the brick wall by his shoulders, arms holding him in place to prevent Jeno from escaping again.

“Just talk to me, alright! I can’t fix it if I don’t know what’s wrong!” yells Jaemin, voice raspy with emotion.

“Talk to you? How can I talk to you when you’re pretending you don’t know why I’m upset?” Jeno screams back, pushing up against Jaemin’s hands and struggling like a wildcat, finally bothering to face Jaemin properly only to glare daggers at him.

“But I don’t! Please. Just let me know what I did wrong and I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” begs Jaemin, quieter and relaxing his hold on Jeno.

“You promise, huh?” scoffs Jeno bitterly, hanging his head and looking at the ground. “You promised the last time too but you still broke it. You abandoned me.”

“What?” Jaemin whispers shakily. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, for god’s sake Jaemin, you abandoned me!” yells Jeno, brushing Jaemin’s hands off his shoulders. “You abandoned me in the vault even though we said that we’d either leave together or stay there and die together, but you left me there alone!”

He reaches up, shoving at Jaemin’s chest and Jaemin’s too stunned to defend himself.

“You fed me all that bullshit about how “Jeno we’re one body, if we die, we die together” before leaving me to die alone and you have the audacity to ask me to trust you? Your promises don’t mean shit, Jaemin!” 

Jeno isn’t crying yet but his eyes are watery and Jaemin is thankful that he hasn’t, because Jaemin doesn’t know what he would do if Jeno started crying because of him, he’d probably die.

“Listen, I don’t-“ starts Jaemin, desperately clutching at straws, mind working furiously in an attempt to salvage whatever’s left of their relationship.

How can Jaemin fix what he doesn’t remember doing? He’s fighting a losing battle but he knows this much, it doesn’t matter what Jaemin remembers because he knows himself and Na Jaemin would never willingly abandon Lee Jeno unless there was a damned good reason for it.

Something else must have happened that day, rationalizes Jaemin, as he tries frantically to piece together the clues and form some kind of context to the situation. Somehow they had been staying together in a vault, and apparently Jaemin had left Jeno there and never returned.

“I didn’t mean to leave. It’s killing me but please, please don’t think that I would ever abandon you. I love you too much for that.” tries Jaemin. Renjun had told him to be honest so here he is, baring his soul. Everything about that statement is one hundred percent true, no matter what universe.

Maybe he’d been trying to protect Jeno, maybe he’d been kidnapped and taken against his will, maybe he’d gone out and gotten mauled by a bear if those were still around or some kind of nuka-bear that probably existed in this radioactive world. 

Something about his words causes Jeno’s expression to shutter and close off, and his face is carefully devoid of any emotion when he backs away from Jaemin’s hold as Jaemin lets him go, slipping past with a few quiet, parting words.

His voice is cruelly gentle.

“I can’t do this, Jaemin.”


.


Jaemin doesn’t try and confront Jeno again after that, but he has been quietly keeping tabs on the other’s whereabouts. He’d heard that Jeno had gone back to Neo City following their altercation and later on he’d moved around between Los Sonadores and City 127. The last he’d heard, Jeno was currently laying low in the old capitol. 

Jaemin himself had returned to Neo City to gather his wits and contemplate his next course of action. He’s avoiding Jeno for now, unconfident that another meetup would not worsen the situation between them more, and letting the other have his space. Hopefully, enough time apart will allow him to cool off a little before Jaemin can try again. 

He’s back in his usual room at Chenle’s inn, attempting to teach himself how to disassemble and clean his weaponry when his Pip-Boy rings with an incoming transmission from Renjun.

“Hey Jaemin, I’m just checking in on everyone at the moment.” informs Renjun, his tone casual but grave at the same time. “Where are you right now?” 

“Hi Renjun! I’m hanging out in Neo City, I thought I’d stay here for a bit first and bother adorable, little Jisung.” Jaemin tells him, flopping backwards onto his mattress. “What’s up? You planning a visit?”

“Ah, that’s good. Nah, I’m calling because Sicheng works with some of the atomic technicians and there is serious talk about the bomb in old Neo City getting close to exploding soon.” says Renjun, clicking his tongue.

“Isn’t that the one right here though? Shouldn’t I be worried?” asks Jaemin, sitting up from his bed, hair askew.

“The bomb in new Neo City is just a replica of the one at the old capitol, you don’t have to worry.” states Renjun calmly. “The old bomb is the only one that’s active and people always treat the detonation rumours as a joke, but I’m pretty sure this time it’s legit."

Every time Jaemin has to walk past the city central he feels kinda unnerved but it’s comforting to know now that the bomb on display here is just a glorified statue. 

“As long as you aren’t planning on travelling to the old capitol, you should be fine.” concludes Renjun, before mentioning that he has to make some other calls. “Don’t do anything reckless, Jaemin.”


.


The transmission rings twice but doesn’t connect through.

He’d managed to get his hands on Jeno’s contact information from Yukhei however the other boy is either ignoring his calls or has Jaemin blocked already.

‘Come on, come on.’ urges Jaemin, staring at the green screen blinking sadly.

Renjun had told him the countdown estimate was five days. The journey from Neo City to the old capitol takes four and a half days but Jaemin now has the added bonus of a motorcycle that he’d managed to acquire from completing several quests for the locals whilst he was idling in the city.

Jaemin’s got his Nuka-Cola Quantum and his nuclear-powered bike; sufficiently jacked up on caffeine, Jaemin feels like he's got this shit down

‘I can make it in four days,’ he thinks confidently, cracking his knuckles across the back of his jittery fingers.


.


The student library is quiet on the weekends.

“I wish you’d stop drinking so much coffee, Jaem. All that caffeine can’t be good for your health.” warns Jeno, sipping from his own cup of bubble milk tea (Gongcha, because Jeno’s a Gongcha-addict and a hypocrite) as he stares pointedly at the Starbucks cup clutched tightly in Jaemin’s hand.

Jaemin looks up from his coffee-powered studying to take the lid off his custom venti americano and immediately chugs half of it down, chokes on an ice cube, and then smiles politely at the librarian when she looks over at their table warily.

“Jeno, baby, sometimes you gotta live life on the wild side. Take calculated risks. assess the outcomes and please the highest-value stakeholder!” yells Jaemin with an outcry, slapping the desk with his free hand.

Well-versed in Jaemin’s eccentricities by now, Jeno blinks twice before asking calmly “Are you still struggling with your risk management portfolio?"

Jaemin slumps over onto his study notes like a listless marionette. “Yes, and it’s due in 2 days.” he mumbles into page 80 of his business textbook.

“C’mon, we’re going back to your's.” declares Jeno, standing up and packing up their things neatly. “When was the last time you ate something?”

“Bwuh?” blurts Jaemin uselessly, shifting his head and crinkling the pages further.

Jeno leans in with a sweet smile and says softly “We’re going to eat actual food, and then after that you’re going to take a nap because you probably haven’t slept in 48 hours.”

Jaemin looks down at his papers, frowning.

“You can go back to your assignment after you get some sleep, okay?”

Jaemin lets out a hum and then shrugs. “Alright.”

“Alright? I thought you were gonna put up more of a fight, actually.” confides Jeno, surprised. “You’re pretty stubborn when you want to be."

“Eh, I’m kinda sick of staring at figures and tables for today.” laughs Jaemin, getting up from his chair. Then he angles in real close to Jeno’s face, until he can feel Jeno’s fringe brushing softly against his forehead, and says greasily as he raises an eyebrow “Besides, you’re my highest-value stakeholder. I live solely to please you.”

There’s a pause as Jeno considers his words and Jaemin starts wriggling both his eyebrows before Jeno scrunches up his face and backs up, pushing Jaemin away with a light shove. “Ahh, why are you like this? We’re in public!”

“So private is fine then, huh? Noted.” counters Jaemin, smirking and skipping out of the library before Jeno can respond.

“At least take your death coffee with you!” whines Jeno, picking up both of their half-full cups and hurrying after him with a smile.


.


‘I can’t let things end with Jeno like this,’ muses Jaemin as he coasts along the dirt road. ‘This must have been what I was brought here to fix.’

He’s making good progress and there’s nothing much to look at in the way of scenery out here so Jaemin lets his mind wander.

There was once a time when Jaemin had been sent to an alternate dimension where everything was the same except for the fact that he could now see the red strings of fate that tied people together. At the time, he’d been so caught up in trying to fix the mess that had become of Donghyuck and Mark’s string (and it was an absolute nightmare, tangled and frayed, and had a bad habit of switching wildly between being pulled taut enough to snap and lying slack, hanging uselessly on the floor) that it was only after he’d returned home that Jaemin realised that although he hadn’t been able to see his own string, he’d never noticed that Jeno’s string was invisible to him as well. 

Pursing his lips in concentration, Jaemin reflects back if maybe he simply hadn’t paid enough attention and didn’t remember what Jeno’s string had looked like or if the lack of string meant something, before his brain derails itself getting distracted by the pretty angles of Jeno’s fingers, and then his motorbike promptly decides to take the chance to sputter and die. 

Cursing, he dismounts and circles around the bike, evaluating the scene. 

‘Oh.’

Apparently running on turbo uses a different set of gauges than normal and basically, Jaemin’s out of fuel. He checks his Pip-Boy, it’s possible for him to walk from here but the problem is that Jaemin doesn’t know if he’ll be able to make it in time. 

He’s thinking of calling Jeno yet again when a surprised voice pipes up from the other side of the road. 

“Jaemin? Is that you?”

Abandoning the call halfway, Jaemin turns around and sees Mark Lee hanging out of the window of an old car.

“Mark?” Jaemin blinks at the turn of events. “Fancy meeting you here."

“Are you alright, Jaemin? Do you need any help?” inquires Mark, unbuckling his seatbelt and hopping outside. 

“I’m out of gas.” sighs Jaemin, sounding despondent but feeling much better now that a friend has come along.

“Oh! I think we might have some extra-“ 

Whatever Mark is planning to say gets cut off by the sound of the passenger car door being slammed shut as Lee Donghyuck shuffles round the car, his vivid hair gleaming a fiery red under the harsh desert sun.

“Oh my god, what kind of idiot runs out of gas in the wastelands?” he complains loudly, cycling round to the back of the car and popping open the trunk, rifling around inside there. He drags out a yellow metal canister and comes back to the front. “Aren’t you lucky you ran into your oh-so-benevolent and well-prepared friends out here? Any later and you could’ve been picked apart by wild mongrels!” Donghyuck exclaims, passing over the fuel can with a flourish.

It’s been awhile and Jaemin had kind of forgotten what the Lee Donghyuck experience felt like.

“Thanks.” says Jaemin eventually, opting for a wide smile as he accepts the fuel. “I was almost ready to start running to old Neo City.”

“You’re going to the old capitol? In this economy? Why on earth would you do that?” questions Donghyuck, leaning an arm on Jaemin’s bike like he owns it.

Clearing his throat, Mark amends “We just came from there actually, it’s not safe there anymore. You can come with us to City 127 if you want?” he suggests, his innocently round eyes staring into Jaemin’s imploringly.

“That’s a tempting offer but I really can’t afford not to. There’s someone there that I have to go to.” Jaemin mentions calmly, with all the conviction in the world resting on his words.

“I doubt they’re still there.” comments Mark, biting his thumbnail. “Almost everyone’s fled already.”

“Only an idiot would stay there now.” confirms Donghyuck, frowning.

“I have to make sure. It’s important to me.” explains Jaemin, undeterred. He knows he won’t be swayed; he’s determined, loyal, stubborn. He adds on, softer. “He’s important to me.”

Donghyuck narrows his eyes in consideration. “What does your friend look like?"

“Well, he’s got white hair-“ begins Jaemin.

“White hair? And he’s about the same size as you?” questions Donghyuck, his volume increasing and tone incredulous. He continues as soon as he sees Jaemin nod. “Oh my god, yeah, that idiot is still there!”

“Really?” yelps Jaemin, surging forward in a frenzy.

“Yes! Go and save your friend!” urges Donghyuck, getting off Jaemin’s bike. “He doesn’t deserve to die just because he’s stupid!”

Jaemin leaps at them both, wrapping them up in a hug with each arm before he mounts his motorcycle again. “Wish me luck, I’ll see you around next time.” he says, revving the engine and feeling the bike start vibrating with energy.

“I hope you save your friend.” says Mark earnestly, stepping back to watch Jaemin go.

Conversely, Jaemin hears Donghyuck yelling over his shoulder once he’s already left. 

“Don’t die, dumbass!"


.


The city looks like a ghost town when Jaemin arrives. 

Abandoned possessions strewn around the streets like expired stage props and the buildings stand dark and empty, some boarded shut and others left with their doors wide open for people to pass freely in and out but nobody does.

Jaemin’s never been here before but he recognizes the layout from new Neo City and the city central with its real, actual ticking atomic bomb is easy to find.

He also finds something else he’s been looking for.

There he is, the human embodiment of Jaemin’s world, sitting at the base of the bomb like a lost child.

“Lee Jeno!”

Visibly startled, Jeno turns around at his name, locking eyes with Jaemin, but he’s not frowning this time. His big black eyes are round with surprise and his mouth is slackened, open with the faintest hint of a smile clinging to its corners. 

“You came back for me.” Jeno whispers softly, his voice breathy in awe.

“Do you have a death wish? What are you still doing here?” shouts Jaemin, charging forwards and kneeling before him, wrapping his arms around Jeno.

“You came back for me. Even though you knew the bomb was going to go off, you still came back.” breathes Jeno, staring at Jaemin’s face and blinking like he can’t believe his eyes.

“Exactly! I had heard that the bomb was going to explode so how could I not come back when I knew that there was even the slightest chance that you might still be here.” explains Jaemin, running his hands up and down Jeno’s sides restlessly.

“I was waiting for you.” confides Jeno, sniffing as tears start falling from his eyes. ‘Oh shit, Na Jaemin you’ve made him cry again, oh my god.’ Whilst Jaemin panics internally, Jeno continues “I was all packed up and ready to leave at first but then I saw your calls and I thought, I’ll wait. It was stupid but I decided to wait.”

“I’m supposed to be the reckless one in this relationship, aren’t I Jeno? Not you.” Jaemin quips lightly, his gaze fond as he presses their foreheads together.

“Don’t worry, I was prepared to leave if it seemed like you weren’t going to show up.” says Jeno, eyes darting around self-consciously. “I wasn’t- It wasn’t like I was trying to die or anything."

“You idiot, what if I was too late?” asks Jaemin, voice cracking from emotion.

Jeno peers up at him through his lashes wet with tears. “I decided to give you this one last chance, I just wanted to see if you’d actually come.” 

Pulling Jeno closer, Jaemin apologizes, pressing a kiss into his hair. “I’m sorry that it me took so long.”

“It’s okay, you’re here now.” smiles Jeno, standing up and gathering his bag up off the floor. “Let’s go, Jaemin."

Jeno offers out his hand and Jaemin reaches for it, lacing their fingers together. 

“Together. I'm not leaving you behind anymore."


.


Sleeping in late in his own fluffy bed without the imminent threat of death is a luxury that Jaemin will never take for granted again, he thinks, stretching out on his 300 thread count sheets blissfully.

Jaemin considers the thought of waking up, making breakfast and having actual honest-to-god coffee but he can’t be bothered yet.

It takes until the late afternoon for Jaemin to be up and fully functional, typing out the final draft of his report on his laptop because it’s due tomorrow and the university doesn’t cut him any extra slack even if he’s been off gallivanting in another dimension.

He’s triple-checking his references when there’s a familiar succession of knocks on his door that he knows belongs to Jeno. They’d given each other copies of their house keys long ago but somehow Jeno still refuses to use it to let himself in without permission unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

“Come in!” calls Jaemin, saving his document.

Letting himself in, Jeno toes off his shoes and makes his way inside, flopping down next to Jaemin on the sofa and pressing up comfortably against Jaemin’s side. He raises a hand to brush through his windswept hair - dark brown and lying shapeless over his forehead - and Jaemin can’t wait any longer. 

He snaps his laptop shut, tossing it onto a spare cushion and blurts out, without any finesse whatsoever, “I love you, Jeno.”

His best friend stares at him blankly, frozen with an arm up, hand still entangled in his fringe.

“No wait,” amends Jaemin, sitting up properly and twisting to face Jeno, taking the other boy’s hands in his, “I'm in love with you, Lee Jeno.”

Jeno stays frozen and when the pause stretches on for too long, Jaemin shakes both of their hands restlessly. “Is this okay? Say something.” pleads Jaemin, a desperate burn in his chest like his heart is lodged in his throat, like it’s clambering around and cutting off his air as it tries to escape his body.

Then Jeno smiles, gentle and soft and it feels like every wrong piece of Jaemin’s life has slotted into its right place. “I’m in love with you too.” 

“Really?” asks Jaemin, feeling lightheaded as he inhales sharply.

“Really.” Jeno confirms, reaching a hand up to trace the edge of Jaemin’s face with a delicate finger, his gaze open and loving. “I’ve been waiting for you to catch up.”

He’s impossible to resist, how could Jaemin ever hope to stay away. 

Jaemin leans in and stops short just before their lips can make contact, breaths mingling expectantly as Jeno unconsciously lets out a soft yearning sound, as he whispers “Sorry it took me so long.” 

Jaemin closes the gap and it feels like coming home.