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Blood, Water

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There was something going on in the house.

The most obvious answer was Seonghwa’s breakup, and his inescapable misery. He’d started leaving his room, at least, but that didn’t mean he was any happier. His mood was like a cloud, hanging around the entire house, getting in everywhere. No wonder Yeosang stayed out more and more. Mingi wished he could do the same.

But other games were afoot. For one, when Yeosang was home he was never with Wooyoung. This was a pretty big deal. Mingi always thought of them as a set, Wooyoung all loud and energetic, Yeosang quiet and soft. But when Mingi found Yeosang home he was either alone, or with Jongho.

And that was another thing. Whatever Yeosang and Jongho talked about was secret. They whispered and murmured, and stopped talking whenever Mingi entered the room. Usually Mingi would’ve been upset, being so obviously left out, but one time he saw Yeosang take Jongho’s hand and squeeze it, and Jongho let him. That meant something serious had gone down.

Whatever it was, Jongho needed support. Mingi wasn’t good at support, but he tried his best. He called Jongho to his room for video games, playing the ones Jongho enjoyed or was good at. He even asked once if anything happened, but Jongho waved the question off and changed the subject. That was fine. Yeosang and Seonghwa could deal with emotional burdens and heart-to-heart talks. Mingi was just there for distractions.

Still, the atmosphere in the house was not good. Mingi was actually glad when San came over.

He was stuck in his room, of course, but he pressed his ear to the wall and heard the door open in the room next to his. Seonghwa had left his room to go see San. That was good. Mingi relaxed, lay down on his bed and grabbed his phone.

Yunho picked up on the second ring. “Hey,” he said. “I was just gonna call you.”

“Well I called first so it’s your turn next time,” said Mingi, making Yunho laugh. “San’s here.”

“Oh, yeah, he said he was gonna meet up with Wooyoung after work,” said Yunho. He paused. “You’re okay with that?”

“Him and Wooyoung dating? Uh yeah,” said Mingi.

“No, him going there,” said Yunho.

“It is kinda annoying, ’cause I have to sit in my room,” admitted Mingi. “But I’m glad he came, I think it’s good for Seonghwa-hyung.”

Yunho hummed. “How is he?”

“Still super miserable,” said Mingi. “Hung up over his ex.”

“That sucks,” said Yunho. “Do you think they’ll get back together?”

“I dunno,” said Mingi. He’d never even met Seonghwa’s ex, he had no idea what kind of guy he was. “I hope so.”

“Me too, for his sake,” said Yunho. “Hongjoong-hyung is fighting with his boyfriend, and it’s not fun.”

Mingi thought of Yunho’s terrifying roommate and shuddered. “I’m sorry for his boyfriend.”

Yunho laughed. “Hyung isn’t that scary, Ming.”

“I’m still scared he’s gonna stake me,” said Mingi seriously, while Yunho laughed. “I mean it! That happens all the time in movies.”

“He is not going to stake you,” said Yunho, still laughing. “This is not a movie, for one. Also where would he get a stake?”

“He could get one if he wanted,” said Mingi. From what he’d heard of this guy, he could bend reality with the force of his will.

“Okay, if hyung does try to stake you, I promise I’ll stop him,” said Yunho. “That okay? I’ll even heroically throw myself in front of you.”

“Okay,” said Mingi, satisfied. He didn’t mind being the damsel in distress if Yunho was the dashing hero. 

They talked for some time, about pointless things that should’ve been boring but weren’t, because it was Yunho. Mingi got up and hovered by the window, enjoying the breeze as Yunho told him about the assignment he was slaving away on. Mingi loved the wind. He wondered if it was windy where Yunho was too.

“Oh,” he said, surprised. “Seonghwa-hyung.”

“Huh? What about him?”

“He’s coming back from somewhere,” said Mingi, watching as Seonghwa’s car pulled in. He hadn’t even known he’d left. “Probably went to get food for San. We don’t really keep any in the house unless he’s here.”

“Ming, can I ask you something?” asked Yunho.

“Yeah, sure,” said Mingi, resting against the frame of the window.

“Is it okay for you when San comes over?”

“I told you, it’s a little annoying,” said Mingi. “But it’s not that bad.”

“No, I mean…” He heard Yunho sigh over the line. “Is it okay for you? You don’t get… thirsty?”

“Oh.” Mingi didn’t know how to answer.

If he was being totally honest, it wasn’t okay. Opening his door just a crack let in the sweet, overpowering scent of San’s blood, calling to him. As long Mingi was upstairs, away, it was bearable, it didn’t turn him crazed or mindless. But it was so strong. It stuck in the edges of his head. He thought about it even after San left. 

But Mingi couldn’t be totally honest. He couldn’t be totally honest, otherwise Wooyoung would stop bringing San around, and Seonghwa would be crushed. If Mingi thought for a second he might hurt San he would’ve said so. But he knew Wooyoung wouldn’t take any risks with San, and neither would Seonghwa. Even just admitting Mingi craved his blood would be enough. 

And Mingi couldn’t be totally honest to Yunho. He couldn’t let him know just how scary, how messed up he was. Like a monster ready to break free.

“I… uh…” He stalled, trying to come up with a good midpoint. “Kind of? But not—not really. I mean, just a little. But I’ve never thought of—of attacking him.”

Because he didn’t need to think of it.

Mingi forced that thought down. He hated lying to Yunho.

“So it’s okay? That he’s in the same house as you?” asked Yunho 

Mingi grit his teeth, forced a smile into his words. “Yeah.”

There was a little pause on the line. “You know,” said Yunho, “San says his blood is extra good. Wooyoung said so.”

Oh, Mingi didn’t like this conversation at all anymore. “Yeah,” he said. “Can we, like, talk about something else? How was work?”

“This is important,” insisted Yunho. “So San’s blood is really good?”

“Yeah,” said Mingi.

“I got San to ask Wooyoung how I smelled,” said Yunho. “He said I was just normal.”

“Okay.” Mingi picked at the wooden frame of the window. He didn’t like where this was going.

“So if it’s okay for you to be in the same house as San,” said Yunho carefully, “then maybe, since I don’t smell anywhere near as good, we could…”

Mingi’s stomach dropped. “No.”

Yunho didn’t sound surprised at his reaction. “Come on,” he said. “You said it yourself, you’re okay when San comes over, right? So maybe one day I could—”

“No,” said Mingi. He swallowed, feeling nausea rise in his throat. “No, you can’t. No.”

“I’m not gonna be in any danger,” insisted Yunho. “If it’s safe for San it’s safe for me.”

“It’s—it’s—” Mingi couldn’t explain. He couldn’t believe Yunho didn’t understand. “No, you can’t.”

“Ming, please,” said Yunho. “When was the last time you were around a human? Like, right in front of you?”

“Five years ago,” said Mingi weakly.

“Five years ago,” said Yunho, like that supported his point. “You could’ve gotten better since then. You could be okay now. We could meet.”

“I am not going to use you as an experiment, Yunho!” cried Mingi. “I’m not—how could you say that?”

He was going to throw up. He felt sick, sick at the thought of hurting Yunho, of biting him like a crazed animal and leaving him weak and bloody or—or worse—

“I’m sorry,” said Yunho. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said it. I don’t wanna pressure you, Ming, I’m really sorry, okay? I’m sorry.”

He sounded panicked, and it took Mingi a moment to realize why. Mingi sounded panicked. He was breathing, hard, gulping down air he didn’t need. Yunho must’ve heard.

“No, it’s okay,” said Mingi. He took one last breath. “I’m… I’m okay.”

“I’m sorry for making you upset,” said Yunho. “I don’t wanna make you feel like you need to do anything you’re not okay with. I just… I really wanna see you.”

“I know, I wanna see you too,” said Mingi. “But I’m not… I won’t let you get hurt.”

“I’m not going to get hurt,” said Yunho softly. “Promise. But we don’t have to meet if you don’t want to.”

“I do want to,” said Mingi. “I do. I just…” 

I won’t let myself hurt anyone. Especially not you. He knew Yunho wouldn’t understand. Nobody would. Mingi was unique, he had no one that would really understand how he felt, how he lived.

Cut off. Scared. Unable to even meet the guy he liked.

“Can you take a picture of your hand?” 

Mingi came back to the conversation. “Huh?”

“Your hand,” said Yunho, and Mingi could hear the smile in his voice. “Send me a picture of your hand.”

“For what?” asked Mingi, perplexed.

“I wanna see it,” said Yunho. “Wait, let me send you mine.” 

Mingi blinked, confused, as the line went silent. The door opened, just a couple of inches, and Yeosang slipped into the room as Mingi’s phone dinged with a notification. Mingi raised an eyebrow at Yeosang, but the other just shook his head as he went and lay down on the bed. He didn’t want anything except to be in the same room as him. Mingi could do that.

He checked the notification and saw that Yunho really had just sent a photo of his hand. Mingi shrugged, sent one back.

“Thanks,” said Yunho. “Your hand’s pretty. I think mine’s a bit bigger though.”

He was trying to distract Mingi from his worries. “Thanks,” said Mingi. “Yeah, yours looks bigger.”

Yunho hummed. “Your hand would fit pretty nice in mine.”

“Yeah?” Mingi smiled to himself as he leaned against the wall by the window.

“Oh, totally,” said Yunho. He was smiling too, Mingi could hear it. “Your hands are cold, right?”

“Usually,” said Mingi.

“That’s cool, mine are always a little warm anyway,” said Yunho. “Your hands look really smooth too.”

“The most work I ever do is play video games,” said Mingi, with a little laugh. 

“Yeah, I know,” said Yunho. “Princess.”

Mingi smiled even wider.

“So how were your classes?” he asked.

“The worst thing happened,” said Yunho, groaning. “I got stuck with the biggest dead weights for my group project. I’m gonna have to spend the entire time doing their work too.”

“Aww, that sucks,” said Mingi. He turned and leaned against the windowsill, looking out into the yard. “Can’t you get them to do their work?”

“How?”

“I dunno, threaten them or something,” said Mingi, grinning. “No, you’re too cute, I guess it’s like having a little puppy barking at you.” He paused, enjoyed the sound of Yunho’s laughter. “Oh, hey, you could get your Hongjoong-hyung to scare them. That’d work.”

“Hyung? He’s not scary at all,” said Yunho, still laughing. 

“To you, maybe,” retorted Mingi, and Yunho laughed harder.

They talked for a little longer, about Yunho’s group and his project and what he’d be doing, until he had to leave.

“San’s here, he’s being all loud in the living room,” said Yunho. “I’ll call you again later, okay? It is my turn next time.”

“Okay,” said Mingi, smiling to himself.

“Okay,” repeated Yunho. “Bye, Ming.”

“Bye,” said Mingi sweetly.

He looked at his phone a moment after he ended the call. He didn’t know how, but Yunho was always able to make him feel like he was floating, buzzing with energy. Like he’d swallowed a gallon of happiness.

“Mingi.”

Mingi jumped, whirled around. Yeosang was sitting on his bed, looking at him. Mingi had completely forgotten he was even there.

“Oh, hey,” he said. “Sorry, forgot you were there.”

“That’s okay,” said Yeosang, with a gentle smile. “That was your—your boyfriend?”

“Uh,” said Mingi. He and Yunho hadn’t really talked about if they were officially boyfriends or not, but he couldn’t deny the little thrill he got from the thought of it. Yunho. His boyfriend.

“I guess,” he said finally.

“That’s nice,” said Yeosang.

Mingi hesitated. “Really?”

“Yeah, really,” said Yeosang. “I’m happy you’re talking to more people. But, Mingi, I wanted to ask you something.”

“Yeah, sure,” said Mingi, shrugging.

“I’m sorry for eavesdropping,” said Yeosang, “but who’s Hongjoong?”

“He’s—” Mingi stopped. How much did Yeosang know? Had Wooyoung told him San lived with a Hongjoong? He thought hard, trying to remember if Wooyoung had ever mentioned the name in front of them, but he couldn’t remember for sure.

“You mentioned a Hongjoong-hyung,” said Yeosang. “Is that someone your boyfriend knows or…?”

Oh, he definitely knew, otherwise he wouldn’t be asking. Mingi scrambled for an answer. “Oh, yeah, a friend,” he said with a horribly nervous chuckle. “I think a friend from class or something? I don’t know.”

Yeosang hummed. “Really? How did you and your boyfriend meet, anyway?”

“O—online.” It was the truth but Mingi was still freaking out. He wasn’t used to lying, especially not to Yeosang.

“Okay,” said Yeosang.

“Okay?” Mingi’s voice shook.

“Okay,” repeated Yeosang, calm as ever.

They looked at each other, five, ten seconds, and Mingi cracked.

“You can’t tell anyone,” he said. “Please, please, please. Not even Wooyoung. Especially not Wooyoung.”

“Alright, alright, I won’t tell Wooyoung,” said Yeosang, taken aback. “What is it?”

Mingi went round the bed and sat down next to Yeosang. “I’m kinda dating Yunho, one of the guys San lives with.”

Yeosang blinked at him, and then burst into laughter.

It was pure amusement, nothing mean, and he laughed hard, tipping back. Mingi squirmed, not seeing what was so funny.

“Oh, damn,” said Yeosang, as he finally calmed down. “They should’ve had another roommate, then Jongho could’ve gotten himself a human too.”

Mingi didn’t understand. “What?”

“Nothing,” said Yeosang, still grinning. He patted his cheeks to get them down. “So you’re dating Yunho. Alright.”

“Yeah,” said Mingi. “So, like, you won’t tell Wooyoung, right? Because he’d definitely tell San and Yunho doesn’t want that. And I know it’s hard because you’re all blood bonded and—”

Yeosang raised a hand, stopping him. “Why does Yunho not want San to know?”

“He thinks San might end up blurting it out to Hongjoong,” said Mingi.

“So?” There was a slightly sharp edge to Yeosang’s gaze now. 

“Hongjoong would totally freak out,” said Mingi. “And he’d probably, like, stake me and I really don’t wanna be staked so please don’t tell.”

Yeosang frowned. “You’re both hiding this for… your sake?”

“Yeah, I guess,” said Mingi. “Yunho said before he doesn’t care if anyone knows but—I don’t want Seonghwa-hyung to know yet either, you know how he is, he worries so much and now he’s been dumped and it sucks for him and I don’t wanna put this on his mind now too.”

“Put what?” asked Yeosang. “It’s your relationship.”

The thought that I’d ever leave the house. That I’d ever even think of meeting Yunho in person. “Just, you know he worries,” said Mingi. “And Hongjoong would make it really hard for Yunho too so please don’t tell anyone.”

Yeosang fell silent, thinking it over while Mingi watched anxiously. “Does he know?” he asked finally. “That you can’t meet him in person? Why you can’t meet him in person?”

Mingi nodded.

“And he doesn’t mind?” asked Yeosang. “He doesn’t think you’re a monster?”

Mingi shook his head.

Yeosang looked at him awhile, lost in thought. “Okay,” he said finally. “I won’t tell anyone.”

“Thank you,” cried Mingi, and he grabbed Yeosang and hugged him. Yeosang let him.

“Just be more careful, okay?” he said. “Especially around Seonghwa. You know he knows about Hongjoong too, right?”

“Right, yeah,” said Mingi. He took a deep breath, like he needed it. “Thanks, Yeosang.”

Yeosang smiled at him and nodded. 

 

✤✥✣✥✤

 

San walked in with a stack of boxes, all pink and pretty. Yunho picked up the one on top and inspected it. He squeaked when he saw the monogrammed logo on top. “This looks fancy.”

“And expensive,” said Hongjoong as he opened one. He took out a macaroon from inside and ate it.

Yunho opened the one he had, found it full of cookies. Even looking at them you could tell they were expensive. He thought of taking one, but decided against it when San offered him a chocolate cupcake from the box he’d opened. It was amazing.

“Where did you get all this?” he asked.

“A friend gave me,” answered San.

“What friend?” asked Hongjoong.

“A friend,” said San.

“A friend.” Hongjoong watched San with suspicious eyes.

“Wooyoung’s brother Seonghwa gave them to me,” said San, resigned.

Hongjoong’s expression immediately darkened. Yunho scrambled to keep the mood light. “Oh, that was nice of him,” he said loudly. “For any reason?”

“The bakery is his friend’s,” said San, pretending like he hadn’t noticed Hongjoong’s change of mood either. “So it’s kind of like free promotion? I think he just wanted to buy them, but no one in his house eats so…”

Mingi had spotted Seonghwa returning to the house. He’d gone out to get all this stuff, and all for San. “He seems like a great person,” said Yunho. “Is he okay?”

San looked at him with a trace of suspicion. “What do you mean, ‘okay’?” 

Yunho cursed mentally. He forgot he wasn’t supposed to know Seonghwa, or him getting dumped. “I mean, is he good?” he said quickly. “Is he doing well?”

“Oh,” said San with a sigh. “Not really. Woo says he’s been down. His boyfriend broke up with him and—”

He realized his mistake the exact moment Yunho did, and shut up. They chanced careful glances at Hongjoong. He’d become kind of touchy about relationships since he’d started arguing with his boyfriend. Hongjoong looked troubled, staring at nothing while he chewed on his lower lip, macaroon forgotten.

“I hope he feels better soon,” said Yunho, careful, when he realized how silent the room had gotten.

They stood around for some time, talking, finishing their cupcakes. Hongjoong went to his room, acting weird. Yunho and San went to theirs. 

They both sat on Yunho’s bed, San by the foot and facing him. He still looked bothered, probably because of Seonghwa. Yunho knew they were close, from what he’d heard from both San and Mingi. 

“Is anything up?” asked Yunho, when he noticed San wasn’t doing anything except sitting there, looking unhappy.

San hesitated, and then asked, “Do you think Hongjoong-hyung will ever be okay with me dating Wooyoung?”

“Yeah, probably,” said Yunho. He tried to sound positive. 

“You think?” asked San, raising an eyebrow. “Come on, you saw him. He didn’t even wanna eat anymore when he heard Seonghwa-hyung bought that stuff.”

“Maybe he just felt awkward eating something bought by someone he doesn’t know,” said Yunho, but even he knew that wasn’t it.

“I thought he was getting better,” said San. “In the middle it felt like he really did support me and Wooyoung. The three of us even met up once and it went okay. But now it’s like we’re right back where we started.”

“It’s probably because he’s arguing with his boyfriend,” said Yunho. “He’ll be okay when they make up, you’ll see. Now he hates everyone.” 

San grumbled, unconvinced. Yunho didn’t know if he was right. All he could do was pray he was.

Hongjoong was against Wooyoung, who walked San home and seemed like a normal human. How would he react when he found out about Mingi? Yunho knew Hongjoong would find out eventually, because Yunho had no intention of letting go of Mingi and they couldn’t keep things secret forever, but he didn’t know if he’d able to handle Hongjoong’s reaction. 

It was pretty late now and San yawned, stretched and reached out for his phone. He shook back his sleeves as he settled in.

Yunho darted forward. He grabbed San’s wrist, and San squawked but didn’t pull away. Yunho pulled up his sleeve and stared at his bare forearm.

There were marks on it.

He looked up and into San’s wide eyes, and San quickly snatched his arm free and pushed the sleeve back down. Yunho fell back onto his side of the bed. 

Two tiny dots, spaced over an inch apart. 

“Dude,” said Yunho slowly. “Is—are those bite marks?”

San watched him, wary almost, like he thought Yunho would get up right that second and tell on him to Hongjoong. But Yunho didn’t. He sat and watched San back, waiting even though he already knew the answer.

“Yeah,” said San finally, a hint of defiance in his tone. “They are.”

“I thought… I thought Wooyoung didn’t drink from you,” said Yunho. Now that he’d said it, though, he realized how dumb he’d been to believe that. San liked to brag about how his blood was so good, better than most humans’. How would that come up unless Wooyoung was feeding from him?

“He didn’t used to, at first,” said San. “And then when we started I just didn’t bother to correct you guys.”

You guys, meaning Yunho and Hongjoong. Then Mingi knew. But Yunho had never asked him, and Mingi had no idea Yunho didn’t know. He thought about it, turning the idea around in his mind, the thought of Wooyoung drinking blood from San.

“Does he do it often?” he asked.

“Pretty often, I guess,” said San. He looked more relaxed now that he realized Yunho wasn’t telling Hongjoong. “Not when we’re out, though.”

Yunho moved closer. “What’s it like?”

“The feeding?” asked San.

Yunho nodded.

“Like…” San tilted his head, trying to find the right words. “It feels like you’re floating. But you don’t think you’re floating. You don’t really think anything at all. If I try really hard I can make myself remember where I am and what I’m doing, but mostly I don’t bother. It’s like you let go of everything you were ever worried about.”

So that’s what it was like. Yunho’s never experienced it, but he’d heard stories before. He trusted San’s description the most.

“Aren’t you ever scared?” he asked, thoughts now on someone else, another vampire. “That he’ll, like, lose control?”

“Wooyoung? Never,” said San without a hint of hesitation. “He’d never hurt me.” 

Wooyoung would never hurt San. That was great, obviously, and Yunho was glad San was never in any danger. But why did he also feel so bitter?

“I heard it was addictive,” said Yunho, trying to push that thought out of his mind. “Getting bitten.”

“I’m fine,” said San, shrugging. “I’m used to it.”

“Used to it?” Yunho frowned.

Now San stopped. He looked pensive, and it was some time before he finally spoke. “If I tell you something,” he said slowly, “will you promise never to tell Hongjoong-hyung? Ever?”

“Yeah, of course,” said Yunho, serious.

“I’ve been bitten before,” said San. “A lot.”

“What do you mean, a lot?” asked Yunho, sitting up.

“You remember I used to work in that store like a year ago,” said San. “I had one of the last shifts, and I usually had to lock up. It was like a ten minute walk to the nearest bus stop from there.”

“Yeah, I remember,” said Yunho. He didn’t like where this was going.

“I got… ‘mugged’,” said San. “More than once.”

Yunho stared at San. He looked so casual, so unbothered, sitting there talking about getting attacked by vampires a year ago. “What?”

“It’s no big deal,” said San. “They never took any money, and I never really got hurt or anything—”

“It’s a huge deal!” cried Yunho. “Why didn’t you ever tell us?”

“Because, like I said, it wasn’t a big deal,” said San. “And I never got robbed or hurt. I just woke up feeling a little weak sometimes, and that was only sometimes. Most of them didn’t drink much.”

Yunho could only gape at him, stunned.

“I knew you guys would freak out,” said San, sighing. “And after I switched jobs it didn’t happen again, so I thought there was no point in bringing it up.”

“Is this why Wooyoung always comes right up to our front door?” asked Yunho. He was still having trouble processing everything.

“Yeah, he worries,” said San. A smile touched his lips. “He even got me all this silver jewelry to wear when I’m not with him. He really didn’t need to, though. Vampires can smell each other’s venom or whatever when they feed. If he bit me any time within the last couple of days, other vampires can tell and they leave me alone.”

“Damn,” said Yunho on an exhale. He had no idea. He’d heard San’s blood was alluring to vampires but this… he’d never even considered it. He felt horrible.

“I’m really sorry for not telling you,” said San, looking guilty. “I know we’re supposed to be best friends and tell each other everything but I just didn’t want you to worry. And I’m sorry for thinking you’d tell Hongjoong-hyung. I know you’d never do that.”

Yunho looked at San, at his eyes all big and full of guilt, and blurted out, “I have something to tell you.”

San blinked, distracted from his guilt. “What is it?”

Yunho hesitated. Should he? He shouldn’t, not without asking Mingi first. But San was sitting right there in front of him, and he’d told him a secret he’d kept only so that Yunho wouldn’t worry, and he even felt guilty over it and—

“You can’t tell Hongjoong-hyung,” said Yunho. “Or Wooyoung. Or anyone.”

San’s eyes went wide, and he nodded.

This was it. Yunho went for it in one swipe. “The guy I’m dating is a vampire.”

San screamed.

Yunho threw himself over him and clamped a hand on his mouth. “Shut up,” he hissed. “Hyung will hear.”

San wrenched Yunho’s palm off his mouth. “I can’t believe it,” he whispered, almost bouncing. “How? When? I mean, how did you meet? When did you find out? Did—” His voice dropped even lower. “Did he ever drink from you?”

“No, he—we’ve never met in person,” said Yunho. He took a deep breath. “We met in that game, like I said. And I… I figured it out.”

“Wow,” breathed out San. He gave Yunho a look. “Does he know Wooyoung? Woo has a lot of friends.”

Now Yunho laughed nervously. “Kinda.”

“Kinda?” San frowned. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“He… uh…” Yunho took the plunge. “You know Mingi?”

“Yeah, he lives with Woo,” said San. He stopped, looked at Yunho and his nervous face, and it clicked. Yunho saw the exact moment it happened, the little spark in his eye. 

He swallowed. “San—”

“Are you fucking crazy?” hissed San. “Do you—do you know—?”

“Yeah,” said Yunho quietly.

That shut San up. He looked away, deep in thought. “You know,” he said finally. “He can’t—I can’t even be on the same floor as him. You can’t even be on the same floor as him. You can’t ever meet.”

Yunho bristled. He couldn’t meet Mingi now. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t get better in the future. He might even be better now, but no one ever gave him a chance.

But he didn’t say any of that aloud. Instead he said, “I know.”

San didn’t say anything a long time, just sat where he was and chewed his lower lip, thinking hard. Yunho let him. He didn’t know how San would react. Would he tell Yunho to break up with Mingi? Yunho wasn’t doing that. He was prepared to sit through the whole speech, all the logical reasons, but he wasn’t going to listen.

And then, finally, San spoke. “Okay,” he said.

Yunho blinked. “Okay?”

“Okay,” repeated San. “You like each other. As long as you know, y’know, I can’t really say anything.” He smiled. “I hope you guys are happy together.”

Yunho didn’t know what to say in response. Fortunately he didn’t have to, because San understood and wrapped him up in a hug.

“Thank you,” he said, when he could.

“Of course,” said San, pulling away to beam at him. “Remember, I’m always on your side.” 

“And I’m on yours,” said Yunho. San nodded and hugged him again.

When San was done with his hugging and Yunho was okay, he decided he should do the thing he should’ve done before telling San. He called Mingi.

His gut twisted as it rang on the line. He regretted telling San before asking Mingi. He should’ve made sure it was okay with Mingi first, he should’ve—

“Yunho.”

“Hey,” said Yunho. He hesitated. “Are you okay? You sound… did something happen?”

“Uh, kind of,” said Mingi. He sounded nervous. 

“Something kind of happened here too,” said Yunho. He looked across to San, who was watching him excitedly. “I’m sorry, Ming. I told San about us.” San punctuated this with an excited shriek Mingi must’ve heard.

“Oh, shit,” said Mingi, and he sounded… relieved? “I told Yeosang.”

“Oh,” said Yunho, surprised. San shook him, wanting to know what was going on, and he said, “He told Yeosang.”

“Sorry,” said Mingi.

“No, it’s… it’s okay,” said Yunho. He laughed. “It’s fine. San isn’t telling hyung.”

“And I’m not telling anyone,” said a deep voice on the line. “Nice to talk to you again, Yunho-ssi.”

“Yeah, um, you too,” said Yunho. He caught San’s expression and explained, “I’m talking to Yeosang.”

San fell back, not that excited anymore.

“I wish you two the best,” said Yeosang. “And tell San I said hi.”

“Okay, thanks,” said Yunho. “He says hi,” he added to San. San stretched his mouth into a smile.

“So everything’s still okay, right?” asked Mingi. “We just added two people into the circle, but everything’s still fine.”

“Yeah, everything’s still fine,” said Yunho. “Oh, I guess since both Yeosang and San both know, we can tell Wooyoung too.”

“He won’t tell Seonghwa-hyung, right?” Mingi paused, obviously talking to Yeosang—Yunho could hear a bit of his deep voice. “Yeah, he won’t. So we can tell him.”

“We can tell Wooyoung too,” said Yunho to San.

“Yeosang-ssi will tell him then,” said San.

Yunho frowned, pulled the phone away from his mouth. “Hey, is everything okay?” San looked ticked.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” said San. He smiled. “Give me the phone, I wanna talk to Mingi.”

“Okay,” said Yunho. He brought the phone back and said, “Ming, San wants to talk to you.”

“Uh, okay,” said Mingi.

Yunho handed the phone over, and San immediately started squealing in excitement into it. Yunho just sat back and watched him. 

It was like he’d told Mingi. Everything was fine. For now, everything was fine.