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if he's honest with himself

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he’s late, today. seunghoon would already have been up and out of bed.

seungyoon opens the front door to his and seunghoon’s apartment quietly, wincing at the too-loud chime of the electronic lock. seunghoon is sitting on the couch, fully dressed and haute curled at his side, with that look in his eye.

“uh… morning,” seungyoon mutters.

“out of bed last night again, i see,” seunghoon says, sounding remarkably like filch. “went to sleep with mino again?”

seungyoon hesitates.

“their cats got your tongue? what’s you and mino’s deal, anyway?”

“what deal? there’s no deal,” seungyoon says.

“nonsense,” seunghoon says, rolling his eyes. “don’t lie to yourself. look me in the eye and repeat that.”

“you’re ridiculous,” seungyoon says weakly, jabbing seunghoon off the sofa with his foot. “weren’t you headed to the gym before practice later? it’s past eleven, manager hyung should already be coming down with the car soon.”

“there’s nothing to hide,” seunghoon shakes his head at him in parting, grabbing his phone off the coffee table and stuffing his feet into his shoes. “no need to look so on edge every time you sneak back in.”

“i’m not hiding anything,” seungyoon says, but his protests sound weak even to his own ears.

“think about it,” seunghoon says. “the first step is being honest with yourself.”

seungyoon thinks about it later that night, alone in bed. he thinks about it for the next two weeks.

(he’s been thinking about it longer than he’d like.)


if he’s honest with himself, he can’t take his eyes off mino onstage

even as trainees, when they’d all watched mino rap for the first time he was blown away. so much talent, so much potential, and in that dingy basement training room he shone and seungyoon couldn’t take his eyes off of him.

having performed solo himself he knows how hard it can be to fill a whole stage, on your own. it takes stage presence and courage and power and charisma and years and years of work because the stage is large and gaping and you are but one small person, just another human, staring back at the multitudes of humans before you. the trainers don’t speak specifically of it, but he knows firsthand the unspoken pressure to fill the gaping expectation the audience has of the stage and of the people who stand on it, and as just one person the weight of their gazes falls solely on your shoulders, makes it harder, at times, to stand up straighter, to let your presence overwhelm the stage, push past the edges into the audience.

mino does it, through, and he knows how much work goes behind it, and also how much work goes into making performances look as effortless as they do. the ease. he keeps up with his performances, even watches fancams.

“you watched my fancams for body?” mino is excited, his eyes shining, almost like an overeager child, and seungyoon thinks about how the tall dark handsome man performing on stage and this man-child in front of him are one and the same.

“yeah, gotta keep up them quality checks,” seungyoon teases, pushes his shoulder into mino’s arm.

“i don’t know what i was thinking when i lifted my shirt,” mino laughs, a bubbling mixture of amusement and shyness, sitting back into the couch and playfully swatting sweater paws against seungyoon’s lap. “might have been the couple of beers i had before the show. i didn’t even work out the night before or anything.”

“you worked out earlier today, show me,” seungyoon says, yanking up mino’s sweater high enough to reveal his oxygen and crown tattoos, and mino squawks in surprise and falls into him laughing.


if he’s honest with himself, he likes the offstage mino even more.

late nights and wee mornings blend into each other, becoming one and the same when they’re sitting together in mino’s studio, working quietly on music, and sometimes seungyoon stops his work to just watch mino for a few moments. mino’s nose scrunches a little when he’s concentrating and when a tuft of wayward hair escapes mino’s headband seungyoon lets himself reach out, his fingers sifting through the dry, rough strands of bleached yellow hair to push it back behind his ear.

“thanks,” mino murmurs absentmindedly, eyes never leaving the computer screen. “don’t know what i’d do without you next to me to push my hair back.”

seungyoon’s traitorous heart skips a beat, but he goes for flippant and tugs playfully at a lock of mino’s painfully dry hair. “you need me to push your hair back more than you need me here to work on this song with you?”

“doesn’t really matter what you do, i just need you with me.” mino finally turns away from the screen to roughly tousle seungyoon’s hair. his hands are so large and warm as they move down to seungyoon’s face, and he cups seungyoon’s cheek briefly.

“what are you saying, aren’t i always,” seungyoon says without thinking, the warmth of mino’s touch still lingering on his cheek, as mino turns back towards the computer.

“doesn’t mean i should take that for granted,” mino nods.

seungyoon scrunches up his nose. “i just like your studio more because you always have food somewhere. and sweets. i want a lollipop.”

“they’re in the shelf next to the record cabinet,” mino says, without even looking up from the computer screen.

seungyoon sucks on his candy for awhile, watching the movement of mino’s fingers, quick over the mouse, sharp on the keyboard.

“i’m not here just for the food,” he finally says.

“i know,” mino nods.

“yeah.” seungyoon says. “as long as you know that.”

mino nods again, almost absentmindedly.


if he’s honest with himself, he likes the way the corner of mino’s eyes crinkle and crease when he full-out laughs

“this is a really pretty street,” mino begins, and seungyoon is already taking the lens cap off his camera and shoving at his shoulder.

“go stand there, right next to that window.”

mino laughs, soft and warm and full-bellied and his eyes crinkle so beautifully at the corners as their eyes meet, and seungyoon’s stomach does a suspicious somersault. “you know me best.”

“to the left a little more,” seungyoon screeches in response, because he doesn’t know what else to say.

later that night jinwoo sends him photos he’d taken from where he’d been watching them on the other side of the street—“stalkerish paparazzi photos!!!” seungyoon insists, but saves them all anyway—and in one of those shots there’s mino, laughing, eyes little crescent moons, and there’s seungyoon looking back at mino, eyes incredibly soft and bright and happy.

“you look really good when you laugh like that,” he tells mino, and he gets the crinkle eyes in return.

“my mum says i’ll get crow’s feet. asked if i was using eye cream,” mino says.

“there’s no saving your wrinkles,” seungyoon says. “just as there’s no saving your hair.”

“hey,” mino says, but there’s no bite to it, and he pats at his own hair, as seungyoon snaps away. “at least now i’m not using cat shampoo.”



if he’s honest with himself, mino keeps him sane

he tells mino so, one day.

they're in the makeshift darkroom mino has cobbled together in the bathroom of his studio, and mino looks up from his film, eyes bright in the dimness.

"i would know," he says. "i am trying to keep you sane."

seungyoon blinks. "have you?"

"it's like drawing you a line in the sand. the storms come, the line gets washed away, but we just have to keep redrawing the line in the sand, and keep doing things that keep us on this side of the line, because without the line sometimes the darkness in the distance gets too much of your attention and you wander far too deep into the sea." mino pauses. "people drown, like that. wandering too far out into the sea."

"it's cold and dark out there," seungyoon says. "the water gets right over your head and you're struggling to breathe."

they catch eyes, and even in the undulating dimness of the room seungyoon sees recognition in mino's eyes, knows he too, is familiar with how it feels like to be drowning.

"friends keep each other on the safe side of the beach," mino murmurs, turning his attention back to his clothesline of dripping film. 

when seungyoon had been first starting out, he’d been trained for the mental exhaustion that came with this. they had therapy sessions, mental health booklets. in this career where he lived off receiving love, acceptance, recognition from the public—it would be hard to draw the line between what you receive, they said, and along with that would come unwonted hate, negativity, pressure.

he thinks no amount of training would have prepared him for the actual weight of what was to come—the constant stress tugging at the edges of your mind, the weight of public pressure, later the responsibility on his shoulders for an entire group of boys. at one point of time things almost fall apart, and he thinks if it weren’t for mino he might have gone with the flow, right past the safe line and out into sea. 



if he’s honest with himself, maybe he sleeps best pressed up against mino.

“sleeping with someone else is overrated,” someone had told him once. “you wake when they elbow you in their sleep, and if you let them have your arm overnight it cramps terribly the next morning. and you gotta fight to keep your blankets.”

seungyoon had considered those points, briefly, and mino did really tend to be a duvet thief at times. but nothing compared to being able to press himself up against mino’s body in bed, warm and strong against his own. mino would wrap his arms about him, press his lips to the top of his head and tell him to sleep well.

sometimes he wakes to mino’s elbow in his cheek, but then again sometimes he wakes to himself drooling over mino’s bare chest, so maybe it’s fair game after all.

“do i interrupt your sleep?” seungyoon asks one night after he’s sneaked into mino’s room and warm bed, and mino cracks a bleary eye open and peers down at him hazily.

“yeah, but it’s worth it,” he yawns. “you’re a very bony bolster but i like having you here.”

“you’re not very squishy yourself, anymore,” seungyoon mumbles, squirms even closer.

“but i’m warm.”

but you’re you, seungyoon thinks, but he’s half-asleep and maybe he says that aloud.


in the present—if he’s honest with himself, maybe he just really likes mino.

the press of mino’s mouth is soft and warm against his, and seungyoon’s brain is short-circuiting, little electric jolts sparking through his system, the tips of his fingers numb and he can’t move, can only feel—

mino’s hand comes up to slide through his hair, down his cheek to cup his jaw, and seungyoon’s lungs finally jerk back into action and he kisses back with an almost desperate gasp.

he’s kissed his fair share of people, but he doesn’t seem to remember it feeling like this—doesn’t seem to remember it feeling like he’s on fire and he chases the burn, lets mino’s tongue into his mouth, lets mino swallow his whimpers, loses himself in the inferno that is mino’s mouth, rough and hot and insistent against his own.

mino’s hands slide down to his hips, fingers brushing deliberately at the bare skin at the waistband of seungyoon’s sweatpants, and seungyoon presses even closer, closer until he can feel mino hard again his own thigh. mino releases a choked moan into seungyoon’s mouth, kisses him harder, and seungyoon just loses himself in the heat and the desire and in the pull of mino’s mouth against his own, in the messy rhythm of their hips moving against each other.

he can barely think, the pleasure almost like a cloud pulled over his brain, but mino somehow finds the presence of mind to pull back, pressing their foreheads together briefly before moving to wrap his mouth around the shell of seungyoon’s ear.

“okay?” he murmurs, and the very tenor of his voice sends a whisper of arousal snaking down seungyoon’s spine, and seungyoon shudders. he can’t find his voice, so he nods, almost frantically, and he can feel the laugh into his neck as mino buries his face into the hollow of his collarbones. if he could think straight he’d have made an attempt at a snippy rejoinder, but all thoughts are lost to the wind again when mino slides a hand down the front of his sweatpants.

it takes him an embarrassingly short time for him to spill, hot and hard, into mino’s fist, but he pushes mino down against the wall of the studio, lets mino grind down into him, closing his eyes to the feeling of mino’s hips stuttering, his breathing short and sharp against his own cheek—reaches up and kisses him through his orgasm, swallowing mino’s little groans as he rides it out.

they’re quiet for a while, spread out hot and damp and sticky across the floor of mino’s studio. the floorboards aren’t forgiving to his tired bones, but seungyoon closes his eyes in contentment as mino wraps warm arms about him.

“should we have talked about this?” seungyoon asks, trying but failing to muffle a yawn.

“i already told you i was crazy about you,” mino murmurs. his post-coital voice is lazy, almost a drawl, and it sends warm tingles down seungyoon’s spine.

“i thought you were crazy,” seungyoon says, and mino chuckles, nosing at seungyoon’s cheek.

“i’ve always been honest with you,” he says, fingers warm against seungyoon’s jaw, tilting his face up. his eyes are so clear, seungyoon thinks. “everything i said, i meant it.”

“i like you, too,” seungyoon says honestly, because he doesn’t know what else to say, and because he means it, too.

mino smiles, bends to press his lips to seungyoon’s in a soft kiss. “then we’re all good.”