So, it had basically been all Doyoung’s fault. He should have been suspicious about it from the beginning, but he had to give it to Ten: he was smart.
Ten, Doyoung’s roommate and unfortunately, also the bane of his existence. Ten knew that asking Doyoung himself to be a part of a video project would have resulted in absolutely nothing but Doyoung’s ire. So he employed Jeno.
Sweet, incorruptible, wonderfully innocent Lee Jeno. All he’d had to do was look at Doyoung and say, “Hyung, can you be in a video project? I really need it, it’s for my internship,” And Doyoung felt his resolve melt like butter and his heart overflow with love.
“Of course, Jeno, I would do anything for you,” Doyoung cooed, pinching his cheeks.
But of course, Doyoung forgot that his internship was for Ten. At Buzzfeed.
That’s right. Buzzfeed.
Ten had fallen into that line of work not long after university. What does one really do with a major in video production, anyway? Doyoung had laughed in his face when he came home one day with the news that he’d been hired on as a producer for Buzzfeed. But Ten ended up making bank off that job, so Doyoung figured he should probably shut his mouth before Ten used his new financial stability for evil and abandoned him for a new roommate.
But just because Ten was a good producer of shitty viral videos didn’t mean Doyoung had any intention of getting involved in that line of work. He was completely fine remaining one hundred percent anonymous and out of the spotlight. Ten, however, had other ideas.
See, being a producer at Buzzfeed was a good gig, as long as you were creative as fuck. You had to produce it all from scratch. So Ten, suave businessman that he was, needed free actors, and who better to exploit than his dearest, most darling roommate?
(Plus, Doyoung was hot. Not that Ten would ever admit it, but Doyoung knew it was a driving factor of his constant appeals for Doyoung to be in a video.)
Doyoung had successfully evaded all of Ten’s previous attempts at getting him in a video, but using Jeno . That was a stroke of evil genius that not even Doyoung, with all his own tendencies towards evil, could have predicted.
And so, Doyoung, the unwitting fool that he was, found himself staring down Buzzfeed’s headquarters, a cup of Jeno’s favorite coffee in his hands, and a dawning realization that Ten had won.
“Jeno, I’m sorry, but there’s no way I can do this.”
“But hyung, you promised. ” Jeno’s voice over the phone sounded broken, full of sadness, like Doyoung had just killed a puppy in cold blood right in front of him.
And so Doyoung found himself on the third floor of the office building in a filming room, himself sitting alone at a table, at least six different cameras pointing at every angle of his face. Ten bounced into the room, Jeno on his heels.
“Doyoung!” He gushed, placing a hand over his heart, his eyes widening in exaggeration. “Fancy seeing you here!”
Doyoung grit his teeth and narrowed his eyes. “Suck a dick, Chittaphon.”
“I’d be delighted, though this isn’t really the time.” Ten cleared his throat, evidently remembering that this was his workplace, and gestured to another man in the room. “Doyoung, meet Lee Taeyong, camera director.”
The man in question inclined his head, looking amused.
“And his intern, Mark Lee.” From beside Taeyong, an entirely too enthusiastic teenager grinned at Doyoung and gave him the thumbs up.
Doyoung didn’t even bother addressing them. “Jeno, I trusted you,” he hissed. Jeno, the poor boy, had the decency to look ashamed, but Ten was already glaring at Doyoung.
“Don’t upset the child! He did it for the greater good.” Doyoung rolled his eyes. “No seriously! I think this video will be good for you.”
Ten sounded way too eager about this. Doyoung felt a tug of apprehension, deep in his core. Ten grinned, and it was almost feral. “Very good for you.”
The apprehension grew substantially.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean—” Doyoung was interrupted by the door creaking open, and he immediately got his answer.
“Hi, is this where the filming is happening? I was directed to this room number by the front counter, I’m sorry if—Doyoung?”
The man in the doorway paused, his mouth falling open. Doyoung, awash with horror, dragged his eyes up from the table. That voice. He would know it anywhere. His gaze was as familiar and heavy on him as it had ever been.
Doyoung had met Jung Jaehyun at a frat party that he should never have been anywhere near in his second year. He’d been drunk out of his mind and about to take another shot when Jaehyun had waltzed into that crowded kitchen and Doyoung had abandoned his shot in favor of basically throwing himself at the other man.
Jaehyun had become Doyoung’s everything: his best friend, his boyfriend, his partner in crime. Now all he was was the one that got away, and the one who shattered Doyoung’s heart into pieces that he had yet to put back together.
Jung Jaehyun had been the sun to Doyoung’s stormy skies, and Doyoung hadn’t thought he could hate a person as fiercely as he had come to hate Jung Jaehyun, with his dimples and goddamn pearly smiles.
When they’d broken up, Doyoung had cried himself to sleep for a straight month and refused to leave the apartment. So why the fuck Ten thought it was a good idea to put them back in the same room baffled Doyoung. All he felt for Jaehyun now was repressed resentment.
The tension in the room was palpable, and even Mark the Intern, with his seemingly endlessly sunny disposition, seemed uncomfortable.
“Ha ha! Jaehyun. So good to see you made it. Why don’t you take a seat?” Ten’s smile was forced; he gestured to the empty space next to Doyoung, who could only squeeze his eyes shut and try to pretend this was a dream. Usually he’d grind his teeth to relieve some of the tension, but his dentist had said it was starting to do some real damage, so he held himself back.
A moment passed and Jaehyun didn’t move a muscle. Doyoung felt a nerve jump in his neck. “For fuck’s sake, sit down Jung,” he snapped. A shadow passed across Jaehyun’s face, marring it for a moment before it passed and his expression became carefully neutral.
“Charming as ever, Doie,” he bit out, the words dripping with poisoned honey that made even Doyoung’s stone cold heart, flinch. But Doyoung’s outburst had done the trick, and moments later, Jaehyun was sinking down into the seat beside him.
“Don’t call me that,” he muttered. Jaehyun shrugged, like he was saying, how are you going to stop me? Doyoung felt sick to his stomach.
Doyoung could not believe he was sitting next to Jung motherfucking Jaehyun right now. He had to be hallucinating. Ten finally slipped some kind of drug in his morning coffee.
"Anyways, with both of you here and the cameras already rolling, I guess we can explain all of this to you.” Ten took a deep breath and put on a winning smile. “Welcome to Buzzfeed’s now iconic new series, started by yours truly of course, Handcuffed to my Ex for Twenty Four Hours!”
Silence fell over the room and Ten squirmed under two sets of eyes filled with utter disbelief.
“There is no amount of money you could pay me,” Doyoung said after a short pause, “That would convince me to do this.”
“Oh?” Ten raised his eyebrow and elbowed Jeno, who yelped.
“Ow, Ten hyung—” Ten glared at him and tilted his head meaningfully towards Doyoung.
“I’m literally right here, and I have eyes,” Doyoung deadpanned.
“Doyoung hyung,” Jeno continued on as if Doyoung hadn’t said anything at all. He turned his eyes towards Doyoung. “This is my first internship project. If it flops, I could lose the internship…” His eyes began to well up and fuck, fuck . Doyoung knew those were fake tears but Lee Jeno .
“Fucking fine! I’ll do it.” Doyoung said. Then, turning to Jaehyun with malice in his voice, “This isn’t about you. If this wasn’t Jeno’s debut project, I’d already be out the door.” His upper lip curled, but Jaehyun just met his obvious anger with mild detachment.
“Naturally, Doie .” Doyoung felt his stomach turn itself inside out in horror.
“Don’t call me that,” He snapped, shrinking back into himself, away from Jaehyun. Jaehyun just shrugged again, putting his hands up in surrender.
“Whatever you say, Doyoung. I’m only doing this because I have no choice.”
Twenty four hours was already starting to look like twenty four years .
“Haha! Anyway!” Ten looked a little nervous under Doyoung’s angry gaze (As he should, Doyoung thought maliciously) as he shuffled through his cue cards. “So we’re just gonna ask you guys some questions about your past, and then we’ll get you two handcuffed and start the clock!”
Doyoung rolled his eyes with truly impressive ferocity. No, he would not admit to himself or anyone else that his stomach was filled with apprehension at having to relive this mess.
“Okay, first off, state your names and ages please, for the camera.”
“Kim Doyoung, age twenty-three.”
“Jung Jaehyun, age twenty-two.”
“Alright. Now when did you two meet each other?”
“Oh, you are going to love this story.” The corners of Jaehyun’s mouth pulled themselves into a wicked smile and just for a moment, Doyoung was hurtled back in time to whenever they’d get this question, and Jaehyun would get the same look on his face before he told the same embarrassing story over and over again. And just for a moment, he let himself relax and enjoy hearing Jaehyun tell the story one last time.
Four Years Ago
“Holy fuck ,” Doyoung had said, drunk out of his mind and sitting on the kitchen counter in some random frat house where he knew nobody. “You are the finest, and I mean the finest man I have seen in a good goddamn minute.”
Jaehyun, paused in the doorway with a red solo cup in his hand, looked to Doyoung’s inebriated eyes like he had been carved out of marble.“Thanks? I think?”
“Shit, here’s my number. I know I’m hot.” Doyoung attempted a wink and Jaehyun had looked like he’d been trying to swallow back a laugh. Looking back on it, considering how drunk Doyoung had been the “wink” had likely looked more like a terrible face spasm, or the beginnings of a stroke. Anyway.
“Use it, baby,” Doyoung had grinned. He’d pressed the slip of paper into Jaehyun’s chest before hopping off the counter and stumbling away down the hallway and back to the party.
It was terribly embarrassing, and throughout their relationship Jaehyun had never failed to make fun of him for it. It was so outside of Doyoung’s style that it had been a story that shocked and amused their friends to no end—Doyoung had been certain that he’d never hear the end of it, that it would be told at him and Jaehyun’s wedding.
Shockingly, he’d written his number correctly despite his state of drunkenness, and even more shockingly, Jaehyun had actually called him, despite how badly he’d embarrassed himself.
“He always exposes me like this,” Doyoung wailed after Jaehyun had finished. He hid his face in his hands. “Why was drunk me so confident? Why did Jaehyun just have to call me?”
“Don’t worry sweetheart,” Jaehyun said, and his wicked grin became sharper, more brittle. “You’re not the only one who regrets that phone call.”
The room, which had been loosening up after Jaehyun’s spirited retelling of their first meeting, immediately tensed again, and an awkward silence hung between Doyoung and Jaehyun, who both did their best to avoid the other’s eyes.
“Moving very swiftly on,” Ten looked down and switched his cue card. “How long did you date?”
“Three years,” Doyoung said tersely. “Almost all of college, and a little after.” He saw Jaehyun nod out of the corner of his eye.
Ten looked to Jaehyun to see if he had anything to add before switching to the next cue card. “And why did you break up?”
Doyoung closed his eyes and took a deep breath through his nose. Here it comes.
“Doyoung and I have some pretty seriously clashing values that made a relationship impossible.”
Ten, who already knew exactly what Jaehyun was going to say, ventured gently, “Could you possibly… elaborate on that?”
“Sure. I believe that cheating is wrong. Evidently, Doyoung doesn’t share that belief.”
Doyoung knew it was coming, but it didn’t hurt any less. He let out a shuddering breath and blinked open his eyes, his vision slightly clouded by tears. He frowned and willed them away. He had promised himself he wouldn’t let Jung Jaehyun get to him like this anymore.
“You know, you never let me explain—”
“I don’t want your excuses.” Jaehyun’s voice was as cold as ice, and cut through the air like steel. Taeyong winced from behind the camera and Ten looked incredibly sorry he’d asked. Doyoung had trouble finding any sympathy for his discomfort. In fact, thank God Ten was uncomfortable. He deserved far worse, like forever languishing in the fiery pits of hell, but Doyoung would take mild discomfort for now.
He sighed. “That’s all the questions?” Ten nodded. “Good. Let’s get this aggressive bracelet on so I won’t be late for my class.” He held out his right wrist, and Jaehyun snorted and held out his left. Ten pulled out his phone and approached with the handcuffs.
“So, here’s the deal. Twenty four hours starts as soon as I clip these on, and ends at that exact time tomorrow. Mark,” Ten pointed to Mark, who waved to be helpful, “will have the keys to your handcuffs, and will be accompanying you on this adventure in case of emergency. Should an emergency occur and the handcuffs must be removed, you have to stay within 6 feet of each other.”
“Jesus Ten, we’ll follow the rules.” Doyoung grumbled, already beginning to feel tired and emotionally drained. To his left, he heard Jaehyun snicker under his breath.
Ten fixed Doyoung with a withering glare. “Mark and Jeno will be filming you, and maybe even Jisung, Chenle, or Renjun if they aren’t busy, but you’re expected to do some filming too,” he continued like he had never been interrupted. “You can decide where you want to stay, whose schedule to follow when, and all of that. I don’t care. I just strongly recommend staying at Jaehyun’s house to sleep.”
Doyoung rolled his eyes. “Yeah, okay. But if Jaehyun has a roommate too, then I’m voting we go to my place. It would be a pleasure to see you suffer along with me.”
“Um. It’s fine, I don’t have a roommate,” Jaehyun said, awkwardly inserting himself into Ten and Doyoung’s back and forth. The conversation paused and Doyoung considered his options.
“Yeah, okay then. That’s settled.”
Jaehyun nodded awkwardly. “Yeah… Er, shouldn’t we get these handcuffs on? Faster we start, the faster it’s over, I guess?”
Doyoung grimaced. “I hate to say it, but you’re right.”
“That’s the spirit!” Ten said, and clicked the cuffs onto Doyoung and Jaehyun’s wrists at exactly 11:23AM.
“Whoo hoo,” Doyoung deadpanned. “Twenty three hours and fifty nine minutes, fifty seven seconds left.”
“Let’s keep it simple. My afternoon, your evening, my night, your morning. Deal or no deal?” Doyoung asked bluntly as they wandered away from the Buzzfeed building towards Jaehyun’s car. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and Doyoung was already extremely drained.
“Sure,” Jaehyun said, as annoyingly easygoing as ever. In fact, this whole experience so far had been a lot easier than Doyoung had been expecting. Since leaving the interview room, he and Jaehyun had been nothing but civil. Sure, maybe they were avoiding eye contact like the plague, and maybe it was still pretty awkward, but the pointed comments and angry side-eyed glares had stopped completely.
Maybe Doyoung could do this without losing his mind.
Mark, who had volunteered for the first shift of filming them, trailed behind them, a little awkwardly. Doyoung couldn’t really blame him. Poor kid had been forced into filming two people who he didn’t know at all and who didn’t really want to be there. Plus, the kid was adorable, and looked a little bit like a puppy.
“Well, sounds like a plan then. We’d better get going soon, or we’ll be late,” Doyoung said, taking the keys from Jaehyun and unlocking the car.
“Oh, sure,” Jaehyun moved to go to the passenger seat, just as Doyoung moved to go to the driver’s side. Doyoung bit back an expletive as the metal cut into his flesh, halting their movement. Jaehyun fell backwards towards Doyoung, knocking Doyoung off balance as well.
“Ouch,” Doyoung muttered.
“Sorry, sorry!” To his credit, Jaehyun did look sorry as he pulled himself back upright, with a little help from Doyoung. “I kind of forgot.”
Doyoung raised an eyebrow. “Clearly.”
With both of them righted again, Doyoung was forced to acknowledge the problem at hand. Someone was going to have to climb across into the passenger seat. He looked at Jaehyun, who looked back for a moment before sighing. He turned to Mark, who continued to dutifully film. “We’ve encountered our first obstacle.” He looked at Doyoung out of the corner of his eye and seemed to make a split second decision. “Alright, I’ll climb in first. Just keep your hand as close to mine as possible, for the love of god.”
“Uh. Okay,” Doyoung said. Jaehyun nodded and turned to the car, awkwardly clambering across the armrest of the driver's seat before twisting his body around to land solidly in the passenger seat with a small huff of air. Doyoung slid into the driver’s seat after him, carefully keeping his arm stretched to its longest length in order to accommodate Jaehyun’s movements.
Both successfully seated, they looked at each other for a moment. Doyoung found himself becoming distracted. The morning light was illuminating Jaehyun’s eyes, and oh, he’d forgotten how they seemed to have flecks of gold in the right lighting. The slam of the backseat door after Mark snapped Doyoung out of it.
“Well, that was successful. Let’s go.” He pulled his keys out of his pocket awkwardly with his left hand and put them in the ignition. He could feel Jaehyun’s eyes on him as the car spluttered to life.
The ride was calm at first, Doyoung giving Jaehyun free reign of the radio, the awkward silence filled by old school Usher and Beyoncé. But naturally, the silence didn’t last for long, Mark needing them to actually talk to one another for content.
“So…” Mark’s voice was tentative, and he seemed to shrink even further when both Doyoung and Jaehyun’s eyes flashed to his in the rearview mirror. “How long has it been since you guys. You know. Hung out, or whatever.”
“I’m not really sure.” Jaehyun’s voice was a forced casual, a desperate attempt to hold on to the civility that they’d managed since the interview. “A year or two?”
“Oh. That’s a while. You guys never got to, um, sort things out?” Mark continued on, still quiet, but seemingly emboldened by Jaehyun’s response.
“Not really, no. There’s nothing to sort out.” Jaehyun said, that false casualness still in place. He gave Mark a smile that was so false it turned Doyoung’s stomach. His knuckles went white on the steering wheel.
“There really is,” Doyoung whispered, his stomach quietly shuddering, but Jaehyun’s eyes flashed a warning. Jaehyun was trying his absolute best not to blow up at Doyoung, so Doyoung forced himself to drop it. No matter how badly he wanted to explain everything to him, there was a time and place, and this was neither.
“No, there’s nothing to talk about.” Jaehyun says it around a forced smile, his eyes hard and leaving no further room for discussion.
Mark swallowed and turned the camera off.
Yuta’s face when they walked through the front door was absolutely priceless . His eyes nearly bugged out of his head, and his mouth dropped open. It was almost like Doyoung could see the thoughts whizzing through his mind, taking in Jaehyun, who was still being dragged around by the wrist, and Mark, who was carrying a massive camera in his hands.
Speaking of Mark, he’d been filming Yuta since the moment they walked into the studio. Doyoung was going to kill Ten if this didn’t make it into the final cut of the video.
Yuta laughed nervously. “What the fuck?”
“You come into my establishment. My humble abode. My good Christian suburbs—”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself. There's nothing Christian about you or your humble abode. I’ve seen your pole dancing class,” Doyoung hissed, his eyes narrowing.
“—with a whole man on your arm? Doyoung, I figured you were into some kinky shit, but BDSM? And maybe exhibitionism?” He gestured vaguely to Mark, horror in his eyes. “I’ll be honest, I suspected something more along the lines of the furry community, but I accept you for who you are.”
“YUTA. There are children around!” Doyoung’s face turned red. Jaehyun was absolutely losing it. The stupid handcuffs chafed against his skin as they shook from how hard Jaehyun was laughing.
“Please tell me you got that,” he asked Mark, breathlessly, between laughs. Mark just nodded, seemingly caught between wanting to laugh, and being mildly uncomfortable.
“Yuta, listen to me.” Doyoung started. Yuta nodded. “First. What the f- heck , I am not a furry . Why would you even think that? Secondly. Yuta, Jaehyun. Jaehyun, Yuta.”
“Okay, listen. Your Instagram user is @dobunny . What was I supposed to think?” Yuta rolled his eyes before turning to Jaehyun and sticking out his hand to shake. “Hey, Jaehyun. Sorry, but I have no idea who you are.”
Jaehyun took his outstretched hand, giving Yuta a genuine smile, dimples and all. Doyoung felt his blood boil just at the sight of it. “Hi Yuta. Not a problem. I’m Doyoung’s ex.”
Yuta’s eyebrows flew into his hairline. “Oh, really?” His eyes flickered downwards to the handcuffs between them. “Y’all sure you’re exes? Because I don’t know a single person who would allow themselves to remain handcuffed to their ex.”
“Ten,” Doyoung said. Understanding grew in Yuta’s eyes. “And it’s just twenty-four hours.”
“Oh, it’s some Buzzfeed stuff again? Explains you,” He says nodding to Mark, who had stopped recording now that things have taken a more boring explanatory route.
“Oh right, yeah. Yuta, Mark. Mark, Yuta,” Doyoung said, feeling a bit guilty for letting Mark just stand there awkwardly while they all talked. Yuta grinned and Mark grinned back, the disgusting extroverts, while they shook hands.
“Anyway, you should just be grateful that I’m not skipping work because of this mess,” Doyoung said. Yuta scoffed.
“You’re lucky you have the job you do, or skipping would be the only option.” Jaehyun looked a little confused, his nose scrunched up in a way that was just absolutely adorable.
No, Doyoung! Adorable? No way. It looked like he was having a stroke, the idiot.
“You look like you’re having a stroke,” Doyoung voiced, a little rushed, his cheeks turning pink. Jaehyun frowned and opened his mouth to retort, but Doyoung desperately moved on as fast as possible. “I teach a music and dance class to like, toddlers. Young kids. They ask a lot of questions but we can just say the Fairy King spelled us together for a day or something and they’ll accept it.”
“Kind of fitting. Ten is king of the fairies, in all senses of the word.” Yuta snickered. “Anyway, the class starts in like, fifteen minutes. Better head back to the staffroom and figure out how you’re going to change like that.” Yuta tossed him the keys to the back room and gave a saccharine smile, placing his elbows on the counter and placing his chin in his hands.
Doyoung shot him a look of pure, undiluted hatred. “I hope you die young.”
“Like fast, die young, bad girls do it well,” Yuta intoned back at him, the smile on his face not budging an inch. “Now go change. The children await,” he singsonged, tilting his head to the side. Doyoung huffed and marched down the hall, away from him, dragging Jaehyun along like he was dead weight.
“If Satan and Britney Spears had a child, it would be Yuta,” He said, and Jaehyun burst out laughing again. “Hear me out! All that chaotic energy but all that star quality, too. You’ll know what I mean if you get to see him dance.”
They got into the back room. The only person in there was Sicheng, who taught some really specific dance forms that Doyoung knew nothing about. He’d once walked into a practice room and seen Sicheng doing what appeared to be the combination of a roundhouse kick and a pirouette, and since that day, he’d both respected and feared him.
“Sicheng,” he’d asked. “What do you teach?”
“Capoeira, Aerial, Belly, Swing, Kabuki, Riverdance, Tinikling, Cossack, Yang Ge—” Evidently, Doyoung had started to look a little overwhelmed because Sicheng had stopped there. “Name a dance from anywhere, all over the world, I could probably teach it.”
Sicheng had just shrugged. “I had a lot of free time in college.”
Now, he looked between Doyoung and the handcuffs. He blinked. Mark had started filming again. Doyoung was so tired, and they’d only been at this for a few hours. He doesn’t know how many more shocked exclamations and questioning gazes he could take. Sicheng opened his mouth to speak and Doyoung braced himself to have to explain this bullshit yet again.
“You know what,” he said. “I barely slept three hours last night, and in all honesty, I’ve seen weirder shit. I don’t even want to know.” Doyoung let out a breath and sagged against the doorframe.
“Sicheng, I appreciate that more than you could possibly fathom.”
Sicheng shrugged. “All good. Gotta go. I’ve got a Classical Chinese Dance class waiting.” And with that, he slipped out the door, leaving Doyoung and Jaehyun to face their current situation.
“Okay, we have fifteen minutes and not enough brain cells between us to figure this out in time so Mark, it’s time to unlock us for the first time.” Jaehyun’s voice was resolute, and Mark nodded, already pulling the key out of his pocket with the hand that wasn’t holding the camera.
“Remember, six foot radius,” Mark said, giving the key to Jaehyun. Doyoung rolled his eyes but nodded as Jaehyun unlocked the cuffs.
He rubbed his wrist. After only two hours it was already red and irritated. Doyoung frowned slightly, enjoying the freedom from the harsh metal no longer a constant pain, digging into his skin every time he or Jaehyun moved.
As soon as Jaehyun was done slipping out of the handcuffs, Doyoung turned to unlock his locker, making sure Jaehyun followed so Mark wouldn’t flip. After a moment of rummaging around in his admittedly chaotic pile of workout gear, he tossed a shirt that was too large for him and a pair of gym shorts in Jaehyun’s direction.
“I hope those fit, because they’re the largest things I have here.” Doyoung reached back in for his own clothes.
“Are you calling me fat?” Jaehyun’s voice didn’t really sound upset, just amused, and Doyoung thanked whatever deity that might exist for that.
“Not really, but let’s not lie to ourselves.” Doyoung pulled his arms out of the locker and turned to survey Jaehyun’s physique, and any thought of even trying to make a joke about Jaehyun’s weight escaped him immediately.
In college, Doyoung remembered Jaehyun as being built, but pretty skinny. The Jaehyun in front of him right now was… bigger. He took up more space. He’d filled out. However you said it, any baby fat Jaehyun may have had had melted right off him, leaving him lean and toned. Doyoung could kind of see the line of his chest underneath his sweater.
He swallowed as his eyes trailed up and down Jaehyun’s (muscled, probably tanned) arms. In the back of his mind, Doyoung acknowledged that he should probably be pissed about the fact that Jung Jaehyun was looking hotter than ever, but the rest of his mind was too busy enjoying the view.
Mark cleared his throat and Doyoung blinked, snapped out of whatever trance he’d been in. Jaehyun also seemed a little bit flustered, if the redness at the tips of his ears was anything to go by.
“Ha! Ha. Anyway!” Doyoung slammed the locker shut. “I’m going to change. Kindly turn your back.”
Jaehyun raised an eyebrow. “Who says I was ever going to do that?”
Doyoung narrowed his eyes. Ah. It was a challenge. And Doyoung wasn’t going to lose, especially not to Jung motherfucking Jaehyun.
“Okay then, you do you, weirdo,” Doyoung said, raising an eyebrow at him. And he pulled his shirt over his head.
Jaehyun just watched, a small smile on his face as Doyoung stripped down. Doyoung pulled his shirt over his head and this shorts on afterwards as quickly as possible. He crossed his arms, not breaking eye contact with Jaehyun as he leaned back against the lockers. “Your turn.”
It was absolutely a challenge, tension thick in the air, and Jaehyun didn’t disappoint. He pulled off his sweater without wasting a single second, and Doyoung felt his mouth go a little bit dry. This was definitely not his Jaehyun. He had loved his Jaehyun, but his Jaehyun definitely didn’t have abs. This Jaehyun, on the other hand, did, and as much as he was still angry with him, Doyoung had no qualms enjoying the view, especially since Jaehyun started it.
Before Doyoung knew it, Jaehyun was pulling the new shirt on, and luckily, it fit, if a little snug around the arms and chest.
“Okay,” Doyoung said. “Let’s get them back on.”
They switched hands, partially for comfort since their other wrists were already kind of irritated, but mainly because Doyoung needed his dominant hand to teach.
“You know, you might be able to help me with the lesson. It’s a part music, part dance. We call it interactive music. Like the kids sing, but also move, you know?”
“Oh, yeah. Maybe we can do a duet, for old times sake.”
Whatever tension had been there just moments earlier had dissipated, and the atmosphere was almost warm, like the two of them were reliving some past happiness while they had the opportunity to pretend like everything was alright.
Jaehyun wrapped his right hand around Doyoung’s left. “It’ll probably prevent some of the chafing,” he said hastily at Doyoung’s shocked expression. “I don’t know about you, but my other wrist hurts way too much for only two hours.”
“Okay, yeah. Thanks, Jaehyun.” The last past was said quietly, almost inaudibly, but Jaehyun still heard it. There was a small smile on his face.
Mark banged his head against the wall. Jaehyun jumped at the sound, letting go of Doyoung’s wrist.
“Oh. Mark, I forgot you were here.”
“Yeah. I know,” Mark forced out, his cheeks burning. Jaehyun’s eyes widened and he, too, flushed scarlet. “Don’t you guys have some kids to teach?”
And that was that.
Hour Three, going on Four
“Nice going, Nayeon! Great groove!” Doyoung’s voice was bright, brighter than it would ever naturally be as he talked to the kids. Jaehyun snickered beside him.
“Groove?” He whispered.
“If you speak a single bad word against Nayeon’s groove I will kick your shin in, Jung Jaehyun, don’t think I’ll hesitate,” Doyoung whispered back through his teeth, a huge smile on his face. “Keep on swinging, Taehyun sweetie! Looking good!”
Through the course of this lesson, Jaehyun had swiftly learned it was easier if he just followed Doyoung’s lead and participated fully. At first, he’d just stood there while Doyoung hopped around and sang to the kids, encouraging them to join in. But that had started to derail the class, with all the kids constantly asking if he was okay, why the man the Fairy King attached to Doyoung was sad, was he hurt, on and on and on.
Doyoung had given him the most hateful side-eye he’d ever seen and hissed, “You’re worrying them. Come on, dance .”
What followed was a ridiculous skit where they got the kids to give Jaehyun a “shot” (aka just the kids punching his arm) that would cure his Sadness Sickness and give him the Dancing Fever instead. And so Jaehyun had been dancing along with Doyoung’s little dance routines ever since.
Right now Walking On Sunshine was playing and Jaehyun was grapevining as fast as he could, just trying to keep up with Doyoung’s moves. He’d gone over all of them before playing the song, and the idea was for the kids to follow his lead, but Jaehyun had no idea the order the moves were coming in, so more often than not he took just a second too long to figure it out and risked a major collision with Doyoung.
On the bright side, the kids found this all hilarious, and so they were muffling their giggles in their palms as Jaehyun stumbled around making an absolute fool of himself, Mark catching the entire thing on film.
Doyoung seemed to take it all in stride, just smiling and shaking his head at Jaehyun, too busy directing the dance to redirect his focus into teasing him.
When the dance ended, Jaehyun groaned in relief and fell dramatically onto the ground, grabbing Doyoung’s wrist and dragging him down with him. The kids burst into laughter and joined them falling onto the ground, almost like a final dance move.
“You know, usually I would be sad that I was just so rudely dragged onto the ground, but it kind of works for what’s next.” Doyoung pushed himself into a sitting position, leaving Jaehyun to gather himself for a moment more. “Alright kids, it’s cooling down time! Which means we get to learn a new song!” The kids cheered, although it was certainly more tired than earlier.
“Mark, could you open that closet over there and bring me the guitar case?” Jaehyun’s interest was piqued; he pushed himself up to sit next to Doyoung. Mark, balancing the camera in one hand, brought the guitar to Doyoung, and all the kids wanted to wave at the camera, so he let them before returning to his place at the back of the room.
“Okay, so this is going to be a little hard, thanks to the Fairy King,” Doyoung said, pulling the guitar out. “But maybe Mr. Jaehyun will be really super nice and help me if we all ask really politely!” Doyoung looked at Jaehyun and Jaehyun could see the warning in his eyes.
Say no and you will be going to hell for disappointing these children.
“Mr. Jaehyun please!” The kids all started yelling out please’s and Mr. Jaehyun’s and oh won’t you do it’s and even if Doyoung hadn’t warned him, he would never have had the heart to say no.
“Of course I will! The Fairy King bound Mr. Doyoung and I together to give you the best lesson ever! So I would never stop your singing time from happening!” He added a gasp at the end and a hand over his heart, just to increase the effect.
The kids cheered and thanked him, and Doyoung smiled, his eyes included. Good choice.
“So, I’m gonna need you to do the left hand. The chords. You were always better at it than me anyway. Just tell me what song, and I’ll use the strum pattern, no problem.” Doyoung’s voice was determined.
“You trust me to pick a song? What if you don’t know it?”
“Then you’ll have to teach me the lyrics along with the kids,” Doyoung responded. His gaze flickered up from where he was adjusting the guitar to Jaehyun’s face. They seemed to lose some of their harshness for a moment and he whispered, “And of course I trust you.”
Jaehyun swallowed and tried to ignore the fact that Doyoung clearly wasn’t just talking about the song choice.
“Oh. Okay.” He paused, thinking. “How about “Eternal Sunshine”?”
“Jhené Aiko?” Doyoung was a little surprised, he could tell.
“Yeah. Just the second verse and the chorus though. I think the first one’s a bit dark.”
“Okay, sure. Whenever you want. Sing through it once, then we’ll go back and teach the kids.”
Jaehyun nodded, and he placed his left hand on the guitar. Doyoung’s right was on the strings, ready to strum, and the kids were quieting down, realizing the song choice had been made and the lesson was about to start.
“Okay you guys. This week’s song is called “Eternal Sunshine,” okay?” Doyoung’s teacher smile was back. “It’s one of Mr. Jaehyun’s favorites, so he’ll teach it to you guys as a special treat!” The kids clapped and grinned and Jaehyun took a deep breath as silence began to fall over the practice room.
The hardwood floors stretched out in front of him, and he could feel the cool of the stark white walls against his back. A hug glass window extended over one side of the room and he could see the whole of Seoul, the cars driving around, the people walking on the streets, seeming small, like ants from the tenth floor where Yuta’s studio was. The full length mirror on the other side showed all their reflections: The kids, Mark on his stool with his camera in the back, and Jaehyun himself, poised to play, Doyoung by his side.
He could feel Doyoung’s warmth against his side, could almost feel his heartbeat - but he must be imagining it. Jaehyun closed his eyes and began to sing.
All of the good things, good things
All of the good things, good things
Only the good, the good, the good
Only the good
His voice echoed in the practice room, the kids swaying back and forth, Doyoung gently strumming a pattern to his chords.
Living on Sycamore street, and spend your weekends on the beach
We were free, to be everything we dreamed
Flying kites and water fights
Summer nights, we'd ride our bikes
On over hill, and dare our heights
Man I swear
The more that I see, the more that I know
I don't know anything, at all
Doyoung’s breath caught. Jaehyun was just close enough to hear it. Even Mark seemed transfixed, his focus on Jaehyun’s voice, the camera only upright because he’d placed it on the stool, slipping down to sit on the floor so he could be unburdened.
And the more that I breathe, and start to go slow
Oh, one of many things, I can only recall
All of the good things, good things
All of the good things, good things
Only the good, the good, the good
Only the good, the good, the good
Jaehyun’s voice trailed off, and the guitar’s last chord hummed out of the air. There was silence for a moment, the spell the song had cast delicately holding them all in place for a few final moments before the kids began to clap, and the moment was broken.
Doyoung looked stunned, or at the very least, at a loss. His eyes were shining suspiciously brightly, and he turned away from Jaehyun for a moment.
Concerned, Jaehyun reached out a tentative hand, but when Doyoung turned back around, his teacher smile was on his face, and so Jaehyun moved on, albeit reluctantly, and taught the kids the song.
Hour Four and a Half
When Doyoung found himself looking up at the massive SM entertainment building, the link between Jaehyun and Buzzfeed was thrown into shocking clarity.
This whole “handcuffed to my ex” thing was at least partially Doyoung’s fault for letting himself get dragged into it. Ten may be a trickster and Jeno not as innocent as he’d first seemed, but Doyoung had at least two braincells in his possession and they’d been pretty obvious about it.
For Jaehyun? This had been a fucking schedule.
Now Doyoung was mildly panicked. Was Jaehyun an actor? A singer? A dancer? A comedian?
Scratch that last one. It’s basically par for the course to find your significant other hilarious during the honeymoon phase, but Doyoung hadn’t even been able to laugh at Jaehyun’s dumb jokes back then.
“I can practically hear you thinking over there,” Jaehyun said, snapping Doyoung out of his reverie. He turned and Jaehyun was smirking, just a little bit. “I’m not an idol trainee or actor or anything like that at all. I just co-host a radio show.”
“Oh.” Doyoung blinked up at the monolith of steel and glass that was the SM entertainment industry. The sun glinted off one of the top floors. He froze. “ Please don’t tell me we’re going to be handcuffed on air.”
Jaehyun laughed. “Okay, I won’t tell you then.”
Doyoung groaned. “You can’t take a day off?” Jaehyun almost looked offended, and Doyoung sighed and slumped down a little bit. “I forgot about your workaholic tendencies. My mistake.”
“Not just that. I can’t leave Johnny hanging.” Jaehyun’s laughter was smooth as honey, and it flowed through Doyoung’s ears like fresh spring water. He blinked.
“Ha, ha. Right, Johnny.” Silence for a moment. “Who’s Johnny?”
“My co-host. He’s from Chicago, you’ll like him.” Jaehyun was already tugging Doyoung reluctantly towards the building. Mark trailed behind.
“Can he speak English?” Mark’s eyes were bright, curious. Doyoung noticed a slight accent on the end of his words, the way he seemed to skip over the vowels a little bit, less than what a native speaker would.
Jaehyun rolled his eyes. “Johnny speaks like, four languages, and yeah. English is definitely one of them.”
“Nice,” Mark muttered under his breath, in English. It was Doyoung’s turn to roll his eyes. Show off.
“Well, this is thrilling. I’m once again the only monolingual person in the room.”
“Jaehyun’s not monolingual?”
“No. I lived in America for four years, man.” Mark’s eyes widened.
“Connecticut. Learned pretty decent English.”
“Man, I don’t even know what’s in Connecticut.”
Jaehyun sighed. “I lived there, and I don’t really know either.”
The whole time they drew closer the front doors, and Doyoung was becoming more and more apprehensive. By the time they had made it through the front doors, past the expansive and intimidating foyer to the radio studios, Doyoung was truly on edge. Everyone here was gorgeous. They passed a group of idol trainees and one tall man who had to be an actor on the way, not to mention hundreds of employees, and even though Jaehyun was distracted talking to Mark, they all clearly knew him, and were incredibly intrigued by he and Doyoung’s… situation. The eyes bored into him, and Doyoung wanted nothing more than to curl into a ball, away from all the prying stares and unasked questions.
By the time they entered the adjacent meeting room to meet Johnny, Doyoung was having a bit of a hard time breathing. He shut his eyes, desperate for the irrational anxiety to go away, but he still felt what seemed to be a metal band pushing inwards against his chest. His heart was fluttering, beating desperately around his chest, trying to find a way out. His mind was screaming at him to run, but he couldn’t just slip out: he was attached to Jaehyun, who would be dead weight in the event of an attempted escape.
Jaehyun was already starting to sit down at the table, but Doyoung felt frozen in place. Jaehyun was saying something to Mark, but all Doyoung could hear was his own blood pumping against his skull, and his own thoughts.
They’re all looking at you. They know you’re weak, vulnerable. They’re just like him. You need to run, hide, why are you just standing there! You’re asking for it!
Doyoung blinked, his vision darkening. He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping the light would return when he opened his eyes. In the meantime he reached out blindly, calmly, for Jaehyun’s hand. Upon finding it, he clumsily grabbed it and squeezed gently.
“Jaehyun,” he breathed, eerily calm. “We need to go.”
“What? Listen, Doyoung, this is kind of an important meeting and we only have so long before we go live—” Jaehyun’s voice was nothing but white noise. He blinked his eyes open, and blearily he could make out Jaehyun, in front of his face, Mark with his camera to the left and someone else, new: a tall figure by Jaehyun’s side. Johnny? When did he arrive?
“Jaehyun, he’s panicking.” Things come back into focus shockingly quick at those words. Johnny’s face comes into view, and his words are grounding. Someone realized, Doyoung feels a distant jolt of relief.
“What?” Jaehyun looked shocked, and completely out of his element.
Johnny stood, ignoring Jaehyun entirely. “Doyoung, we’re gonna sit down, okay? Can you do that?”
Doyoung did, and he felt Jaehyun scrambling to do the same beside him, offering an arm of support. It registers somewhere in the back of Doyoung’s mind that he’s shaking. “Okay, good. Doyoung.” Johnny’s voice is incredibly soothing. Doyoung files a mental note to tell him so later. “Has this happened before?”
Doyoung struggles to nod.
“Okay.” Johnny’s expression is the only one that remains unchanged. Jaehyun looks stricken, and Mark is no longer recording. “Doyoung: what can I do to help you? Do you need space, water, physical comfort?”
Doyoung took a rattling breath. “Space, for now,” he breathed.
“Okay. Jaehyun, be careful. Don’t touch his hand.” Jaehyun carefully moved his fingers, curling them away from Doyoung’s as much as possible in their current situation. Mark, seemingly coming to grips with the situation, fumbled for the handcuff keys, and in a few moments, they were untethered, Jaehyun still only a few feet away, as per the rules.
“Doyoung. Things may seem scary right now, but everything is going to be fine.” Johnny’s voice was calm, reassuring. “Focus on my breathing if you want to. I promise that none of us are going anywhere if you don’t want us to.” Doyoung nodded shakily, breathing in and out.
“There were,” he drew in a deep bracing breath. “There were too many eyes.”
He saw Johnny nod understandingly from underneath his eyelashes. “It’s completely fine, Doyoung. The feelings of panic will pass.”
And they did begin to pass, even though they left Doyoung feeling exhausted, completely drained as he sat there on the floor.
“You feeling better?” Johnny hadn’t moved, true to his word.
Doyoung nodded, small. “A little.”
“Anything I can do for you?”
“Uh. I don’t...” Doyoung swallowed. “I don’t think so. It’s almost all passed. I’m just tired.”
Johnny nodded, appearing gratified and relieved. Why he would feel such a way, Doyoung wasn’t really sure. They only just met.
When he gathered the courage, he looked to his left and met Jaehyun’s eyes. He had gone white as a sheet, fear reflected in his pupils, looking like he wanted to both run, and grab Doyoung and hold him close and never let him go.
Doyoung swallowed and looked away as fast as he could. Jaehyun knew the truth now. He was weak, pathetic, vulnerable.
“How long?” Jaehyun’s voice was soft, tentative, almost as though he was scared of the answer. Maybe he is.
“Nearly a year.”
Jaehyun recoiled. Doyoung’s throat closed. He wanted to tell Jaehyun that it wasn’t his fault, that there was someone else responsible, but saying so would mean he’d have to explain it all, and Doyoung was pretty sure he can’t do that right now. So he just settled for looking away.
Johnny approached, and though he’d have to be blind to not see it, he ignored the tension brewing between Jaehyun and Doyoung. Doyoung could have kissed Johnny for being so wonderful.
“You must be feeling tired, right? My office is pretty close to here and I keep a mattress in there for when I stay overnight.”
“You think I’m a workaholic? You haven’t met Johnny.” Jaehyun snorted. Some of the tension dissipated. Johnny really was some kind of angel.
“What is the problem with tall, good-looking men? You’re all self-destructive.” Doyoung shook his head, finally gathering the strength to push up from the ground and settle into a chair instead.
Johnny laughed behind his hand as Jaehyun struggled to come up with a retort.
“Anyway, Doyoung,” Johnny slid in smoothly. “You could sleep during the show. It’s only about an hour.”
“We’d be breaking the rules of the challenge.”
Jaehyun rolled his eyes. “Screw the dumb fucking challenge. You need to recover, and Ten’s your best friend. He won’t hold it against you.” Doyoung can tell he’s still scared, still worried about what just happened and he doesn’t know quite what to make of it, but he’s trying his hardest to stay casual, and Doyoung could hug him for it.
Johnny led him to the office. He pulled out a mattress and spare blanket, helping Doyoung to spread them out in comfortable silence. Johnny never pushed for conversation, never made Doyoung feel awkward or unwelcome; he just seemed to roll with the punches.
“Listen, about the whole reason Jaehyun and I are handcuffed—” Johnny just smiled and held up a hand.
“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to, you know. I can get the full story from Jaehyun.” A small smile tugged at Doyoung’s lips. “You just don’t really seem eager to talk about it, and it seemed to be the trigger for you earlier, so Jaehyun can explain.”
Johnny scrambled to explain himself when Doyoung didn’t respond. “No, I mean, I’m here to listen if you want, I just wanted to let you know you don’t owe me an explanation or anything, you know?”
Doyoung let the smile take over his face, and he breathed out, “Thank you.”
Johnny smiled back at him. “Anytime, Doyoung. I know we just met but I’m always up for a chat, Jaehyun or no Jaehyun. I’ll leave you my number, we can hang out.”
Doyoung smiled wider. “Johnny, we literally just met fifteen minutes ago, max, but I’m convinced you’re an angel. Let’s definitely be friends.”
Johnny grinned, and stood to leave. “Get some sleep Doyoung. Jaehyun will come get you when it’s time to return home. I’ll ask him about what the heck is going on with you two.”
Doyoung’s smile dimmed. “Just remember there’s two sides to every story. I don’t want to lose my new friend so quickly.”
Johnny laughed, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Alright, Doyoung. I’ll remember.” He flicked the light out. “Sweet dreams!”
Doyoung, eyelids heavy from the emotional strain, fell asleep almost immediately.
(“Did you love him?”
Jaehyun had explained everything, so it shocked him when, just before the commercial break ended, Johnny dropped that one on him. “He cheated on me, Johnny.”
Johnny shrugged. “Doesn’t mean you didn’t love him.”
Jaehyun hunched over, just the slightest bit. “I couldn’t have loved a cheater.”
Johnny frowned. The look in his eyes was like he knew something Jaehyun didn’t. “I don’t know. Something isn’t adding up here, and you know it, Jung Jaehyun.”
Jaehyun opened his mouth to retort, but the commercial break was already ending, and they were back on air. Jaehyun avoided Johnny’s gaze for the rest of the show.)
Upon arriving home to Jaehyun’s apartment after the radio show for his evening plans, it quickly became clear that he had none other than maybe putting together a bookshelf he’d gotten from IKEA. Doyoung, an introvert at heart, was too tired from the SM incident to argue, plus he’d rather die than talk about what had happened, so he agreed to build the shelf with Jaehyun.
Mark had left about ten minutes after they got home, turning the responsibility of filming over to them until Jeno showed up.
“Listen, you guys are great; but if I spend another second in your company, I think I’m going to lose any brain cells I have left. Y’all are really frustrating, you know that?”
Jaehyun and Doyoung had only looked confused and Mark threw up his hands in protest. “I’m just grateful this is a paid internship. Anyway, I’m going to go home to my functional relationship. I hope you guys figure everything out.”
“You’re not even going to wait for Jeno to show up?” Doyoung asked.
“No.” Mark mumbled something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like, if I see you two get lost in one another’s eyes one more time I think I’m going to vomit. For real.
And then he left them to assemble the shelf. It turned out that trying to assemble an IKEA shelf with Jaehyun, whom he harbored primarily negative feelings for without a buffer like Mark to keep him from lashing out didn’t go very well. In fact, Doyoung found himself yelling at Jaehyun over the placement of a nail, when just moments ago he could’ve sworn they’d been having a perfectly pleasant conversation.
“The nail doesn’t fucking go there, Jaehyun.” There was no expression on his face, but his eyes were harsh, annoyed.“Are you blind? Can you not read the diagram?”
“I can read the diagram perfectly fine, Doyoung, god!” Jaehyun sat back on his heels, a sheen of sweat on his brow, his eyes flashing with anger. “But it clearly looks like it goes here! It’s the only place where it makes sense!”
“Yeah, well,” Doyoung was nearly yelling now. “Sometimes things don’t actually go where they seem to go at first glance! Not everything is exactly like it appears to be!”
Jaehyun didn’t respond, and it was only Doyoung’s heavy breathing that pierced the heavy silence between them. The GoPro, set up on top of a nearby table to replace Mark, blinked a steady red. Too late, Doyoung realized he may have let his emotions get to him more than he’d intended. He had said too much, gone too far. Jaehyun wasn’t ready to talk about it, and frankly, neither was he.
“We need a break.” Jaehyun pushed off the ground, helping Doyoung to his feet. “It’s already six hours, we’re starting to go stir crazy. We should take some me time. The shelf will still be here to be assembled, or whatever.”
“And just exactly how do you propose we take me time? We’re literally attached to each other.” He rattled the handcuffs, just for emphasis. Doyoung’s voice was still cutting, but he’d lowered the volume. Baby steps.
“I’ll play some video games on the TV. I can wear some headphones and you can do whatever activity you’d like, provided it doesn’t require a lot of movement. That way, we're still technically together, but there’s no obligation to talk or interact. It’ll be like we’re alone.”
Doyoung hesitated for only a moment. He sighed, and his shoulders slumped. “I have to give it to you, Jaehyun, that’s pretty smart.”
And so, with a quick joint explanation to the camera, they hurried to set up for me time. The camera was within reach, along with some snacks if they wanted them. Jaehyun pulled on a pair of headphones, started a game of FIFA, and that was it.
(Jaehyun vaguely noticed that Doyoung had grabbed a blanket, and saw that Doyoung had chosen to read something on his phone. He remembered from college that Doyoung was literally the only person in existence besides Jaehyun’s own mother who used the iBooks app, so he was probably enjoying some fine literature while Jaehyun let his brain waste away on video games.
After about two games, he looked up and found that Doyoung had fallen asleep, his phone abandoned on top of the blanket, held loosely in his free hand. He’d slipped down the couch’s armrest and was lying almost completely horizontally.
He appeared more relaxed in sleep than he had ever been while awake, and Jaehyun noticed that this Doyoung, a sleeping Doyoung, looked more like the Doyoung he’d known long ago. Lines of tension that Jaehyun hadn’t even registered while Doyoung was awake had melted off of him, leaving behind someone that Jaehyun was achingly familiar with.
No wonder this new Doyoung had seemed so different to Jaehyun, so much sharper, harsher, colder. He held stress in every part of his body, and Jaehyun couldn’t help but think back to just earlier that day, when Doyoung practically collapsed shaking into his arms, soothed only by space and Johnny’s levelheaded instructions and wonder, Who did this to you?
And even though it was Doyoung who had been kissing that other guy, even though it was Doyoung who made the mistake, his traitorous brain, without hesitation, answered him. You did.)
It was already past six when Jeno arrived, and he hadn’t even been able to get into the house.
Mark had texted him an ominous warning to bring plenty of patience, but he wasn’t expecting to get a text from Doyoung’s phone reading,
hey thats u outside right?? just come in i can’t get the door
uhhhh yeah its me but why not
oh shit this is jaehyun sorry >.<
Doyoung fell asleep and i took his phone to text u
i think waking him up would break me as a person
I'm starting to understand mark’s cryptic ass warnings
but okay I'm coming in
??? what did mark say
When he came in, Jaehyun was already starting to slowly wake Doyoung, regardless of what he’d said not even a minute prior. He was bent over Doyoung, softly rubbing his back and whispering something, so low that Jeno couldn’t hear.
Doyoung made a sniffling kind of sound and slowly began to move, turning over and stretching, pushing his face into Jaehyun’s arm to avoid the bright apartment lights. Jaehyun’s smile was sickeningly sweet, his eyes soft and warm as he watched Doyoung wake up.
Partially hidden behind the kitchen doorway, Jeno wasn’t eager to interrupt them while they played house, but it felt wrong to just watch them like some kind of stalker. So he reluctantly pushed further into the apartment.
“Hey guys, I’m here.”
Jeno sighed. Mark had been right all along. It was going to be a long night.
Hour Seven and a Half
Clearly, trying to make dinner was a mistake. They should have just ordered in, but no, Doyoung just had to have Jaehyun taste his food one last time, and now here they were.
They had decided to make pasta with one of Doyoung’s favorite simple sauces, assuming (incorrectly) that pasta couldn’t be too difficult. It was the patron dish of terrible cooks, and Doyoung was the furthest thing from a terrible cook. Maybe Jaehyun’s terrible cook energy was rubbing off on him.
Things had started out alright. They had gladly settled into making the pasta, starting off with a fantastic collaborative effort where Doyoung held the pot and Jaehyun operated the sink in order to get the water for the pasta started.
They’d gathered the ingredients with little trouble, and Doyoung had been starting in on the sauce when the water came to a boil, and that was the tipping point. Suddenly, he and Jaehyun lost their rhythm, each of them trying to do something different.
Jaehyun was tipping dry spaghetti into the boiling water while Doyoung carried a bowl with the mixed sauce ingredients. Unfortunately for Doyoung, Jaehyun really did have terrible cook energy, because he hadn’t carefully placed the spaghetti in the water: instead he decided to hold it over the pot and drop it in, making water splash over the sides and straight onto Doyoung’s trapped wrist.
He yelped in surprise and dropped the sauce, which splattered across the floor like a bloodstain, accompanied by Doyoung’s shrieks of horror.
Jeno, sitting on the counter, camera in his hand, was completely useless, willing to just document the chaos rather than circumvent it. In fact, his legs were swinging back and forth, and there was a smile on his lips, like the literal child he was. Doyoung could not believe this. He was going to have to disown his favorite son.
“Oh my god, Doyoung! Are you okay? I’m so sorry—” He rushed to go get a towel to put cold water on to treat Doyoung’s burn. His attempt to help only dug harsh metal into Doyoung’s sensitive and burned wrist, making him cry out in more pain.
“Oh fuck, oh shit.” Jaehyun stopped in his tracks and huddled closer to Doyoung, who swallowed back a curse, only refraining from anger because Jaehyun already looked terribly sorry and close to panic, and they couldn’t both be panicking.
Needless to say, Doyoung felt fairly pathetic, crouched on the floor of the kitchen, sauce spilled all around them, the pot of spaghetti probably boiling over. When the pain subsided enough to check, Doyoung turned just in time to see the pasta catch on fire, all the water burned off. Of course the flame had been too high.
The fire alarm went off, and that was the last straw for Jeno. He burst out laughing.
Doyoung sighed. “Order-in pizza is looking pretty good.”
Jaehyun observed the kitchen, the sauce against the floor, the pot on the stove now literally in flames. He nodded with subtle fear in his gaze. “Order-in pizza it is.”
Doyoung hadn’t intended to actually attend Gongmyung’s birthday party for a number of reasons. First of all, he was naturally introverted. Gongmyung, a natural extrovert, would no doubt have hundreds of people clogging up his rich person apartment, all getting drunk in celebration of his special day.
Reason number two, which was far more pressing, was Jaehyun. Should he turn up with Jaehyun hanging off his arm (literally), Gongmyung would never let him live it down. It would become a point of discussion at every subsequent family gathering, and Doyoung didn’t think he could take the headache of hearing about Jaehyun at every Sunday morning brunch for the rest of his life.
But then Gongmyung had called him in the middle of he and Jaehyun’s shared pizza dinner to confirm his attendance, and Doyoung couldn’t say no to his older brother without sounding like an asshole.
So under Jaehyun’s eyes, watching from beside him on the couch, he found himself saying yes.
“Why did I do that?” Doyoung stared down at the phone in terror. “We were so close to a relaxing night in. So close.”
Jaehyun snickered. “Better start getting ready.”
“So close,” Doyoung lamented, but he was already starting to get up.
Twenty minutes later, he found himself squashed in the back of a taxi with the handcuffs and Jaehyun’s wrist digging into his thigh, Jeno on the other side of them.
The whole situation had been uncomfortable. Doyoung had borrowed a shirt from Jaehyun, but Jaehyun was a lot larger than Doyoung, so the shirt dipped far lower than Doyoung would have liked. He felt exposed, his chest a lot more on display than he was used to. Jaehyun’s eyes had darkened as he’d pulled it on, and he hadn’t let go of Doyoung’s wrist since the handcuffs were reattached.
Jaehyun had snorted at first at his discomfort. “Lighten up, Doyoung, it’s a party. We all know how fond you are of those.” Doyoung had flinched, and Jaehyun’s derisive smirk fell away to a more concerned frown, his lips downturned at the edges. A silent apology, even though he still didn’t know what for.
Doyoung breathed deep. Now, in the taxicab, Jaehyun’s eye makeup sparkled under the passing streetlights. He looked like a model—like he always did, annoying bastard—and the air in the taxicab was too stuffy to breathe easily (though maybe it was just Jaehyun’s cologne).
Jaehyun, clearly sensing eyes on him, shifted, his own eyes coming to meet Doyoung’s. “Yeah?” He raised his eyebrows in question.
“Nothing, mind your business,” Doyoung snapped on instinct. Jaehyun flinched, barely noticeable, and his eyes drifted back to the passing city lights. Doyoung frowned and looked away, a little guilty, but not enough to draw even more attention to his blunder by apologizing.
Jeno took a deep breath and muttered something under his breath about stifling sexual tension. Doyoung elbowed him in the ribs. Jeno was looking less and less like his favorite son every single moment that this ridiculous facade continued. Was he going to have to promote Chenle? Dear god.
The lights were blurred as they drove down the highway, and before Doyoung had registered the time passing, they were outside Gongmyung’s apartment and Jaehyun was tipping the cab driver with an overly polite smile.
When Doyoung knocked on the door, he was already bracing himself for the worst (that is, his brother opening the door), but was pleasantly surprised when his brother’s girlfriend, Hyesung, opened the door. She had barely begun to register the situation before Doyoung pushed his way inside, desperately trying to get out of the hallway before anyone else saw them.
“Doyoung?” She said. “What’s…?”
“Hyesung, I’ve never been so happy to see you,” Doyoung said, a little out of breath. “Ten. Buzzfeed.” Realization dawned across her face and Hyesung winced.
“Ouch. Message received.” Doyoung would seriously kiss her if it wasn’t a violation of both the bro code and his own sexuality. She shook her head fondly at Jaehyun and Jeno. “Gongmyung’s already pretty drunk,” she said conspiratorially. “If you can convince him that you all are just close because he’s your date, he may not even notice. And Jeno’s… I don’t know, filming a documentary on high society.”
Doyoung blinked at her in shock. “Hyesung, if you weren’t already dating my brother, I’d be asking you to marry me right about now.”
Hyesung just sniggered and hit Doyoung on the shoulder. “You’re ridiculous. Feel free to help yourself to drinks, mingle, whatever.”
“Hyesung, you’re a goddess.” Doyoung led Jaehyun away by the wrist, Jeno trailing behind. “If my brother doesn’t pop the question soon, you should!”
Hyesung’s laughter echoed down the hall after them as they entered the main apartment, which Gongmyung had tastefully darkened. He had just added some flashing mood lighting in his living room and converted the sitting area into a dance floor. His couches are lined up against the wall instead of spread out as usual, and what can only be hundreds of guests mingled through the area. The perks of being a fairly famous actor.
They’ve only just entered when Gongmyung emerged from the crowd and Doyoung snapped Jaehyun to his side, hiding the handcuffs uncomfortably behind their backs.
“Doyoung!” Gongmyung sounded thrilled to see them as he yelled over the pulsing music. He was holding a beer bottle in one hand, his cheeks just the slightest shade of red. He stopped short, seemingly noticing the man pressed to Doyoung’s side, and a smirk broke out across his face. “Oh? Who’s this?”
“Shut up, Gongmyung.” Doyoung forced a laugh. “This is Jaehyun, my…”
He and Jaehyun made awkward eye contact. “…date,” Jaehyun finished, pearlescent smile turned all the way up. “Yep, I’m his date.” They both beamed at Gongmyung so painfully widely that it couldn’t possibly have looked like they were happy, but Gongmyung fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
“Oh, man, Jaehyun? Wasn’t that the name of your college boyfriend?” Gongmyung took another sip of his beer and Doyoung felt his blood run cold in his veins. “The asshole who broke up with you after—” Doyoung froze.
“Ha ha, yeah. I heard all about that,” Jaehyun cut in smoothly. “I’m a different one though! It’s lovely to meet you.” He extended the hand not shackled to Doyoung’s own and Doyoung felt begrudging sense of respect. Smooth motherfucker.
Thank god Gongmyung and Doyoung hadn’t seen a lot of one another while the latter was away at college, and that he’d never had the chance to meet Jaehyun. Gongmyung just grinned and shook his hand enthusiastically, god he is so tipsy, and says that he hopes they have fun.
“Happy birthday, Gongmyung,” Doyoung said. “We’ll see you around before we go home?”
“Of course!” Gongmyung said. “You two had better dance! It’s a dance party, after all!” and with that he melted back into the crowd as fast as he’d come.
“This is great,” Jeno said from behind them, a grin on his face. “I’m gonna have a celebrity cameo in my video!” Doyoung just sighed. It was going to be a long night.
Somewhere around three or four bottles of beer later, Doyoung noticed Jeno wasn’t as focused as he had been at the start when he recorded them drinking their first beers and dancing as best they could with their hands literally tied. (They quickly discovered that the only kind of dancing that worked was slow dancing and hell no, Doyoung was not here for that. He was not about to slow dance to Bust Down Tatianna in his brother’s apartment with his ex. He couldn’t let that be his life.)
They’d been at the party for hours, and from where Doyoung and Jaehyun were sitting on a couch, they could see Jeno, camera completely off inside his bag. He was leaning against one of Gongmyung’s kitchen counters and chatting with a boy his own age. He had pink hair and a bright smile, and he seemed to be hanging onto Jeno’s every word.
“Hey Jaehyun,” Doyoung said, and maybe it came out a little slurred. “Jeno’s made a friend.”
Jaehyun, who wasn’t exactly sober himself, snickered back. “Looks like a little more than that,” he said. Doyoung snickered with him and they collapsed into giggles, the alcohol blurring Doyoung’s mind and clouding his senses. He blinked up at Jaehyun and he was all out of focus, a sheen of sweat shining on his forehead and gosh, he was so pretty.
“Hey,” he whispered, titling a little forward, not entirely in control of his body. “We should go.” He bit his lip and looked up from under his eyelashes at Jaehyun.
Jaehyun sucked in a breath. “Sure, Doyoung… whatever you wanna do,” he said, and then Doyoung was dragging him up from the couch and down the hallway. Hyesung was still in the kitchen and her eyes widened.
“Doyoung! Where are you going?”
“Happy birthday,” Doyoung mumbled drunkenly. “Gonna go make out with Jaehyun.”
Jaehyun sucks in another breath and Hyesung stopped short, eyes wide.
“Well, okay, you guys have fun?”
“Oh, I will,” Doyoung said, and then he was out the door and slamming Jaehyun up against one of the walls in the hallway. It was a lot more public than Doyoung would usually go for, but he was drunk and if he didn’t get his hands on Jaehyun this instant, he would die. He slammed his mouth up against Jaehyun’s and pushed his fingers through his hair.
Jaehyun gasped and it was such a pretty sound, Doyoung wanted to hear it more —
“Doyoung, Doyoung, hold on, wait until we get back to mine,” Jaehyun was out of breath. His lips were already swollen red, his hair mussed and sweat visible on his brow. He looked wrecked, and damn if Doyoung didn’t find it beautiful.
Hour Eleven and a Half
They fell onto Jaehyun’s couch and picked up where they left off, Doyoung mouthing at Jaehyun’s neck. The couch was more expensive than Doyoung could ever afford, even with Ten’s contributions, and Jaehyun’s skin looked beautiful against the dark leather.
“God, Doyoung,” Jaehyun’s voice was deep and rough, and Doyoung was so, so drunk on it. He threw a leg over Jaehyun’s lap and adjusted himself to fit more carefully into Jaehyun’s arms, so that he could tip his head forward and slot their mouths together with a contented hum.
They stayed where they were, a tangle of limbs on the couch as they kissed and fell back into one another. They were too drunk to do anything more, but Doyoung felt like a man starved as he slid his hands around Jaehyun’s neck and moaned into his mouth. He had missed this, he’d missed Jaehyun. He’d missed them, together.
It came to Doyoung, with shocking clarity, that that’s the exact reason they need to stop. They had to talk about this. He jerked backwards, disconnecting their lips.
“Jaehyun,” he breathed, the words hanging between them. “Jaehyun, we need to talk… This is too fast, you have to let me tell you the truth, please…”
Jaehyun looked up at him, eyes lidded but the haze of alcohol beginning to clear and a multitude of emotions swirling in his irises. He sighed and sat back. “Okay,” he said. “Let’s talk. It’s long overdue.”
Doyoung breathed a sigh of relief.
Ten minutes later they were sitting across from one another on Jaehyun’s bed. Doyoung noticed with a pang that they were on the same sides that they used to take when they were still together.
“Doyoung…” Jaehyun said, like he’s scared of the answer. “What happened that night?”
Doyoung took a deep breath, and began to answer, voice quiet and shaking.
One Year Ago
The party was raging, and as fun as it was, Doyoung just missed Jaehyun. He was pretty sure he was drunk (no, he was drunk), and the last person saw was Ten, but that was ages ago. He’d stumbled around the main dance floor, searching for his friend for around ten minutes when he ran into Yejun from his Government Lecture.
“Yejun!” Doyoung yelled, trying to be heard above the music. “Have you seen Jaehyun?”
“What?” Yejun frowned, the music drowning him out. “I can’t hear you over the music!”
“How about Ten?” Yejun just shook his head, Doyoung’s words lost to the sounds of the party all around them. Yejun gestured for Doyoung to follow him, presumably to where they’d be able to hear better. Doyoung did.
That was his first mistake.
Jaehyun arrived to the party late, and he ran into Ten in the backyard.
“Hey, Ten, have you seen Doyoung around?”
Ten looked up from the fire where he’s sitting slumped in an old lawn chair. “Doyoung? Sorry, man, I haven’t seen him since the beginning of the night. We danced for a bit.”
One of the girls, Yerim or Yeri or something, piped up from the other side of the fire, “I saw him leaving to go to the kitchen with Lucas awhile ago, and I’m guessing he probably went back to dance after that, it seemed like they were just taking a quick break.”
Jaehyun smiled at her. “Thanks, dude.”
She grinned. “No problem, Jaehyun. Go get your man, he’s probably tired of this already and wanting to go home.”
Ten sighed. “Classic Doyoung. The minute things really start to get fun he wants to go home. Yeri’s right. Go do your boyfriend-y duty and get out of our single faces.”
Jaehyun laughed. “Alright, jeez, I’m going. I’ll text you when I find him.”
Ten waved him away, going back to nursing his beer and laughing with the campfire group, who seemed to be playing an ill-advised game of truth or dare. He rolled his eyes and turned back to the house, determined to find Doyoung.
Inside, the music was vibrating loud enough to make the floor shake, the lights flashing erratically. Jaehyun waded through the crowd but Doyoung was nowhere to be seen. He did run into Lucas, and after the exchange of some vague sign language, Jaehyun headed down the hallway to look for Doyoung in some of the other rooms.
It was a little quieter in the hallway, and there were a lot fewer people. Still, there were cups thrown about and empty pizza boxes piled up in the corner, all the signs of a good college party. In the first few rooms, he didn’t find anything, just a freshman couple and some guys passed out on one of the beds. But when he opens the third door, he was met face to face with Yejun, his arms around Doyoung, their lips touching.
Jaehyun froze in the doorway. Doyoung turned to him, panic on his face. “Jaehyun,” he said, and it was breathless, guilty, already pleading. Horrified, Jaehyun shut the door and fled down the hallway, Doyoung’s cries for him to stop unheard. He bolted through the party and out the front door, shooting off a text to Ten.
jaehyun (doyoung bf)
you need to go help doyoung
jaehyun (doyoung bf)
i just can’t ok
he needs someone tho he's rlly drunk
jaehyun we’re gonna have serious words about this
jaehyun (doyoung bf)
i caught him cheating ten
i’ll deal with it
jaehyun (doyoung bf)
But Jaehyun couldn’t escape, because Doyoung came bursting out of the front doors, tears streaming down his face. “Jaehyun, Jaehyun, baby, listen . Please listen, it’s not what it looks like I swear it isn’t—” He swayed on his feet, desperately holding onto the door frame for balance, his cheeks red and stained with tears. He grasped Jaehyun’s coat sleeve.
Jaehyun felt anger well up inside him. “Go away, Doyoung.”
“Jaehyun, no. Listen to me, please. I love you, only you—”
“Save it,” Jaehyun ripped his sleeve out of Doyoung’s grasp. Tears rolled down his own face, too, and Doyoung’s face was pale and wan in the moonlight, desperate for Jaehyun to stay. “You cheated on me, Doyoung. There’s no coming back from that. It’s over.”
“Jaehyun, I love you. Please —”
“Well, you should have thought of that before you stuck your tongue down Im Yejun’s throat,” Jaehyun said, and his voice cracked. He wiped his eyes and straightened up. “Don’t contact me again.” And Jaehyun left, walking away down the street, leaving Doyoung crying on the doorstep, weakly calling after him. He didn’t turn around.
20 minutes prior
“Doyoung, drink some water dude, you look smashed.” Yejun’s voice was filled with concern and he handed Doyoung a cup of water.
“What? Oh, thanks, Yejun,” Doyoung downed the whole cup. The room blurred. “I’m a lot drunker than I thought.”
“Whoa,” Yejun said, as Doyoung swayed on his feet. “Let’s get you lying down.” The room was spinning and Doyoung’s head felt like it was splitting in two.
“What?” He slurred, leaning onto Yejun, who just smiled down at him.
“You’re gonna be fine, Doyoung, you just need to lie down and sleep it off,” Yejun said reassuringly, patting his shoulder. He helped Doyoung down the hall and into an empty bedroom, where Doyoung collapsed head first onto the pillows. “Doyoung?”
Doyoung mumbled incoherently, his mind hazy and sluggish, the overhead lights searing into his vision. “Ow,” he muttered, and closed his eyes.
“Doyoung, come on,” Yejun muttered, and he sounded a little annoyed. “This is no fun, Doie. C’mon, sit up.”
“What'd you call me?” Doyoung swayed upright, and there were three Yejuns in front of him. They grinned and it wasn’t full of warmth like earlier, but sinister, predatory, and something at the back of Doyoung’s mind screamed at him to run.
He was on his feet, ready to obey, but his body just wouldn’t cooperate. His legs were jelly and he collapsed, Yejun catching him in his arms. He was lying limp against Yejun’s chest and he could feel more than hear him when he chuckled, a deep rumbling in his chest.
“Doie, I wouldn’t try that if I were you,” Yejun was practically purring now, stroking Doyoung’s hair back from his face. “You’re far too drunk for that.”
He wasn’t, though. So why were his limbs failing to respond? It struck him like a bolt of lightning.
Doyoung really began to struggle then, weakly pushing against Yejun’s chest and crying out. Yejun only laughed, Doyoung’s slaps too soft to really hurt him at all, and his cries too quiet to be heard.
“I don’t know why you’re so upset, Doie,” he said. “After all, you’ve been eyeing me up in Gov for months.”
Doyoung felt sick. “I have not. I have a boyfriend. Leave me alone Yejun! Let me go! ” Doyoung writhed in Yejun’s grip and it only tightens.
“Why would I do that, Doie? I haven’t even gotten started…” Yejun’s lips were hovering over Doyoung’s own and Doyoung could smell the alcohol on his breath. It made him want to gag, and he squirmed backwards as much as possible.
It’s not far enough, though, because Yejun’s lips were on his own and even though Doyoung was frozen, stock-still, Yejun was pushing his own tongue into Doyoung’s mouth. It was wrong, so horribly wrong, and Doyoung felt so violated, but he couldn’t seem to move. Whether that’s because of the shock or the drugs, he wasn’t sure.
But then the door flew open and Doyoung saw the hurt in Jaehyun’s eyes. He didn’t know if it was Yejun’s shock or Doyoung’s own determination that let him break free and run after Jaehyun, but he didn’t care.
Ten found him there on the doorstep, tears cascading down his face, unspeakable pain written on his features, and he didn’t ask any questions. He just took Doyoung home, gave him a glass of water, and put him in the shower.
The hot water ran over Doyoung’s body. He stayed there for a long, long time. He closed his eyes, and tried to let the roar of the water drown his thoughts, but still, all he could hear was Yejun’s disembodied voice whispering in the dark, the ghost of his fingers on his waist and his arm, his sinister smile saying, Doie… Let’s have some fun.
Doyoung shuddered and wished it would all go away. He told Ten later that night, voice hollow, and Ten just let him sink into his embrace and stay there for hours and hours as he cried and cried and cried.
Jaehyun’s eyes were wide as he looked over at Doyoung, whose gaze was fixed on the bed, his fingers playing with the duvet cover.
“Oh my god,” Jaehyun breathed, and he was already reaching out his handcuffed hand to hold Doyoung’s wrist, scooting himself closer across the bed. “Oh my god, Doyoung, I’m so sorry. I…”
Jaehyun trailed off, because there was nothing he could say that would make him forgive himself, or help Doyoung to forgive him. The mistake was too big to take back, so he just held Doyoung’s hand in his own and tried to hope for the best.
“For so long I hated you for leaving me on that doorstep.” Doyoung’s voice was thick and croaky He still refused to meet Jaehyun’s eyes. “Even when I saw you this morning the sight of you turned my stomach.” Jaehyun flinched, but he doesn’t let go of Doyoung. Doyoung breathes a deep, shuddering breath.
“But as the day went on, I’ve sort of realized that I forgave you for it long ago. I would have reacted the same, if not worse, than you did if I’d seen the exact same thing.” Doyoung finally looked up at Jaehyun, his eyes shining. “Plus, Ten told me about your texts.”
Jaehyun flushed, averting his eyes. For months after their breakup he’d asked Ten for updates on Doyoung, desperately wanting to hear good news, but all Ten ever reported was that Doyoung was alive. Not good, or even fine, but alive.
Despite his best wishes he found himself lying awake at night, wondering how Doyoung was feeling, whether he’d eaten, if he’d had a good day at work. And even though Jaehyun felt like he should be happy that he’d caught Doyoung cheating earlier rather than later, being without Doyoung still felt so fundamentally wrong.
Around the five month mark, Johnny had taken one look at Jaehyun’s apartment, pronounced him pathetic, and ordered him to stop checking up on Doyoung. It’s self-destructive, Johnny had said, no room for argument, and so Jaehyun had stopped focusing on Doyoung and tried to put his life back together, figuring out how to work around the Doyoung-shaped holes in his life.
“I felt the same way,” Doyoung said quietly, almost inaudibly. “Ten told me I should be moving on, why should I care about some guy who wouldn’t even listen to my side of the story?”
Doyoung pushed on, not letting Jaehyun interject, his tone rising in volume. “But I do care. And I can tell you care about me still, even if we both made mistakes.”
Jaehyun laughed hollowly. “I think we can agree that mine was more severe,” he said, shaking his head and taking both of Doyoung’s hands in his. His tone turned oddly serious and he looked Doyoung in the eyes. “You’re not the one at fault for his actions, Doyoung.”
Doyoung swallowed and looked away. “Well, yeah. But I could have been a lot smarter. I mean, I just took that water from him with no question, what was I thinking —”
“Doyoung, he’s the one who drugged the water and forced you to kiss him.” Jaehyun said severely. “I’d say anyone would agree that that’s his fault, not yours.”
“Well, maybe you’re right.” He looks uncomfortable with the conversation, so Jaehyun backed off, changing the topic.
“We’re forgiving each other,” Jaehyun said. “And of course I still care about you too. But…” Jaehyun paused. “This has all been a lot.”
Doyoung nodded, squeezing his eyes shut and opening his arms. Jaehyun laughed and pulled him into a hug. “I couldn’t agree more,” Doyoung mumbled against his chest, and Jaehyun hummed. “But for now, let’s sleep.”
So they curled up together under the blankets, their handcuffed hands linked to avoid uncomfortable jerking at night, and they drifted off to sleep.
Hour Twenty Three
Of course, they woke up late to Chenle banging on Jaehyun’s apartment door screaming for them to let him in so he could film their last few hours. As Doyoung slowly blinked awake to sunlight streaming into his eyes from the open window and a splitting headache from the alcohol he’d drunk the night before, he couldn’t believe he even considered promoting Chenle, even for a moment.
“JESUS, OKAY, WE’RE UP,” Jaehyun yelled, and he got up to let Chenle in. When Jaehyun returned, Chenle popped in through the bedroom doorway after him and grinned, camera in hand.
“Rise and shine, sleeping beauties!”
Doyoung groaned, dragging his face up off of the pillow. “Fuck off, Chenle.” Chenle pouted and wagged a finger in Doyoung’s direction.
“That’s not very nice, Doyoung.” Before Doyoung could retaliate, he was already gone, bouncing out the door to wait in the living room, humming a tune under his breath.
Doyoung collapsed back onto the pillow with a huff of air. “He’s such a rat,” he mumbled, facedown. Jaehyun just hummed in sympathy, but when Doyoung cracked an eye open and twisted to look at him, he’s struggling not to smile.
“Traitor,” Doyoung said, hitting him on the arm. Jaehyun laughed, eyes closing and a smile breaking across his face. Doyoung relaxed, smiling back.
“There’s no way we’re telling Ten the truth in the interview for the whole internet to see, right?” Jaehyun whispered.
Doyoung waited for a moment before answering, enjoying the way the light made Jaehyun’s hair glow a soft golden brown. He smirked. “Oh, hell no. Ten deserves it for all he’s put us through.”
Jaehyun smirked back. “Just checking that we’re on the same page.”
Hour Twenty Three and a Half
It’s only by Jaehyun’s encouragement that Doyoung managed to get here, fully dressed, teeth brushed, and hair styled in the Buzzfeed studio after the most taxing day of his life. Jaehyun sat beside him, but rather than putting Doyoung on edge as he did the last time they were in this position, Jaehyun was now an ally against the force of chaotic evil that was Ten.
“So,” Ten said, his grin all too knowing, eyebrows raised. “Jeno says you ditched him last night.” Ten wiggled his eyebrows, and Jaehyun turned red, trying to shrink backwards in his chair. Doyoung didn’t flinch. Any sign of weakness and Ten would devour them whole. He cannot allow Ten to win.
“I have no idea what you’re insinuating,” Doyoung sniffed. “Besides, Jeno is one to talk. He was talking to the pink-haired dancer all night long.”
“Jaemin,” Jeno blurted. They all turned to him in shock. He covered his mouth. Doyoung and Ten were united for a moment in their smugness, their eyes both fixed on Jeno in quiet victory. Jeno was turning bright red, and he turned around far too quickly to help Chenle fiddle with the camera equipment.
“Anyway…” Ten turned back to Jaehyun and Doyoung. “What have you learned from this experiment?”
Doyoung scoffed. “What do you mean what have we learned? This is a scenario constructed by a massive corporate entity designed to produce shitty viral video content. There is no moral to be found here.” Doyoung leaned forward towards the camera. “If you’re watching this for an epic love story, click away right now—”
“We learned that we’re very different people,” Jaehyun interjected soothingly, putting a hand over Doyoung’s in an attempt to calm him. “Maybe we got some closure from this whole experience.”
Ten’s eyes widened at that, eyes flickering between the two of them for some confirmation. “So are you guys…”
“The reason why we broke up was stupid, and it was mostly my fault,” Jaehyun said, tossing a fond look Doyoung’s direction. “But we’re not getting back together.”
Doyoung was gazing fondly back when Jaehyun stepped on his toe. “Yeah,” he said, starting, mustering up a fake scoff. “This isn’t a fairytale. It’s not like we’re still in love or something.”
He and Jaehyun made awkward eye contact and looked away as fast as possible.
Ten narrowed his eyes, but he couldn’t call them out without sounding crazy, so he doesn’t. “Is there anything you want to say to each other?”
Doyoung turned to look at Jaehyun seriously. “Jaehyun,” he said, letting his voice be filled with tenderness, a smile blooming across his features. Jaehyun smiled sappily back and behind the camera, Ten was nearly giddy with excitement, biting his lip in anticipation and leaning just the slightest bit forward.
Doyoung let the smile drop. “You’re a terrible cook and I like Johnny more than you.” He crossed his arms and shot Jaehyun a cutting look. Jaehyun choked back a laugh and Ten leaned back, disappointment obvious.
“Doyoung,” Jaehyun said dramatically, his free hand coming to his forehead. “You are the only man for me, I love you with all my heart and soul for all eternity, dearest one.”
Doyoung gasped theatrically, putting his own free hand over his heart. “Jaehyun, you make me swoon.”
Jaehyun snickered and dropped the act. “I’m just kidding. You’re a terrible driver and an overly harsh critic.” Doyoung nodded in approval.
“What the fuck,” Ten muttered, a crease appearing in his brow. “Either you two are up to something, or you’re on drugs.”
“I have no idea what you mean,” Doyoung said, and Jaehyun nodded along solemnly beside him. “Jaehyun and I have simply resolved our differences and are ready to part ways as friends.” It wouldn't even be a lie, but Jaehyun’s number was saved in his phone again, and he had plans to use it someday.
“Sounds fake, but okay.” Ten frowned as he fiddled with the settings on his camera. He paused and looked up at them. “Anything else to say?”
“Nope,” Jaehyun started to say, but Doyoung stopped him.
“Yes.” Silence fell in the room, and everyone’s eyes turned expectantly his direction. Ten hurriedly finished adjusting the camera settings and angled the camera back in their direction. Jeno was on tenterhooks, and Mark, who wandered in somewhere around the halfway point of the interview, was hanging onto his every word. Chenle looked giddy, like Christmas has come early.
Doyoung shoved their wrists forwards. “Get this shit off me,” he deadpanned. Jaehyun burst out laughing, nearly doubling over. Ten sighed, long suffering, and pulled out the key.
“I don’t know what I expected.” He shook his head and handed it over.
Hour Twenty Four
At exactly 11:23AM, Doyoung unlocked the cuffs. They fell to the table with a clang. Beside him, Jaehyun breathed a sigh of relief, rubbing his wrist. Doyoung’s own wrist was in a similar state, the skin raw and inflamed from the long night rubbing up against the metal.
“Thank god,” Doyoung breathed. Jaehyun nodded fervently.
“Amen to freedom.”
Ten turned off the camera, and turned to them, genuine curiosity and concern in his eyes. “Seriously. Did anything happen?”
Sincere Ten was a lot harder to deal with than Buzzfeed Producer Ten, so maybe Doyoung was too quick when he answered, “Nothing happened. Nothing at all.” Jaehyun nodded. Ten narrowed his eyes again, but sighed and gave up.
“I feel like you two are hiding something.” He pointed to his own eyes, and then pointed at Doyoung distrustfully. “Mark my words, Doyoung, I will find out what.”
Doyoung rolled his eyes. “Impossible, since nothing happened, Ten.”
Ten didn’t look convinced, but he gathered up all his papers, pulled the SD card from the camera, and turned to leave, calling Jeno and Chenle, who scrambled after him. “I’ve got too much footage to help Jeno sort to deal with this.” He dumped all the papers into Jeno’s waiting arms. “But I’ll get it eventually!” And with that, he turned on his heel and exited dramatically, Chenle and Jeno scurrying after him in his wake.
That left them alone in the room with Mark, who was holding a cup of coffee. He had clearly come straight here, his bag still slung over his shoulder and a pair of reading glasses askew on his nose. He smiled softly at them.
“I’m glad you sorted it out,” he said quietly, eyes shining with a special sort of knowledge, like he was in on their secret. “I have to get to my other work too, so I’ll follow Ten. I hope I’ll see you around again, you two!” And with a small smile, he turned and left through the same door as Ten, leaving them alone.
Jaehyun smiled softly at Doyoung. He leaned on one foot, his head tilting just slightly to the right as he said, “I’ll see you around again sometime soon?” It was a question, asking permission just one last time.
Doyoung nodded and smiled back. “Of course. Soon.”
Jaehyun grinned widely, and it’s like sunshine after a long storm. He walked to the door and gave Doyoung a small wave.
“Call me,” he said, just barely louder than a whisper, and then he was gone.
“I will,” Doyoung said, quietly, like he was making a promise to himself.
Three Months Later
It’s chilly outside, but in the cafe it’s warm, the windows fogging up and obscuring the soft snow on the sidewalks. Doyoung’s hands are circling a cup of coffee as he waits, watching the passersby through the window.
He considers drawing a little smiley face in the condensation on the window, but before he can do just that the coffee shop door jingles, and he hears his name.
Doyoung smiles and turns around in his seat.