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Taeyong is ripped out of his dream by the sound of incessant knocking at his door, and a voice calling his name over, and over, and over again. 

He throws his pillow over his head, relieved by the temporary silence, only to groan when the knocking gets louder.

He was sleeping so well, too. 

With a sigh, Taeyong rolls over and stretches his limbs, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

He takes in the unfamiliar green comforter and TV in front of him and pauses as it takes him a minute to remember where he is, and it all comes rushing back to him: Mark’s mishap with the plane tickets, the blue jeep waiting outside of his apartment, seeing Yuta, what came after, and Johnny. 

He hears the knocking again, and, with a low groan, stumbles out of bed to answer the door. 

“Taeyong, open the fucking door,” he hears a deep voice rumble.

Shit, Johnny

He would recognize that voice anywhere. 

Taeyong picks up his pace, speed walking the last few steps between his bed and the door.

“Taeyong, I swear to G--” 

Before Johnny can finish the word, Taeyong makes quick work of the dead bolt, unlocking it in record time, and flings open the door between their rooms. 

Taeyong’s mouth runs dry. 

Johnny was standing in front of him, a hand paused in the air as if he had been about to knock on the door again when Taeyong opened the door. He was already dressed, wearing jeans that did sinful things for his thighs, a simple white t-shirt, and a leather jacket. A fucking leather jacket. 

To top it off, he had pushed his hair off his face, only a few black strands hanging over his forehead.

There is no way that he should be allowed to look like that right now.

God, Taeyong needs to get laid. 

That has to be the only reason he’s thirsting over a pair of pants this early in the morning, right? Right

Taeyong eyes travel back up to Johnny’s face, where he finds Johnny’s eyes lazily dragging up and down Taeyong’s body.

Taeyong gulps.

A brief but loaded look flickers through Johnny’s eyes. Taeyong has no idea what’s going on in Johnny’s head, but in his eyes, in his dark, intimidating brown eyes, there was something Taeyong had never seen before.

Something dangerous and alluring.

Something that made Taeyong’s heart thud in his chest.

Taeyong brings his hand up to rub at his arm and with wide eyes is suddenly very aware of the fact that in his haste to get to the door, he had forgotten to put on a shirt, and the only article of clothing on his body were his sweatpants, hung dangerously low on his hips. 

So much uncovered skin, no wonder Johnny’s eyes were taking in every inch. 

Taeyong gulps again. 

Taeyong's whole body had turned a violent shade of pink, blushing furiously, but he refuses to cross his arms over his chest, leaving his hands twitching at his side. Johnny had already seen too much, as it was.

“Hi,” Taeyong chokes out, his voice still low and scratchy from sleeping. He clears his throat and tries again, “What are you doing here so early?”

At that, Johnny finally meets his eyes, only to roll them. 

Taeyong,” Johnny chides. “We agreed to meet at 9:15,” He looks down at his watch, “and it’s exactly 10:11 now.” Taeyongs eyes widen at the statement, his jaw dropping open. “Look, I don’t know if this is some sort of payback for yesterday, or whatever, but we seriously need to eat and get out of here ASAP if we want to stay on schedule for the rest of the week.” 

Taeyong snaps his mouth shut.

How was it after ten? Taeyong had set multiple alarms starting at like 8:30….

Taeyong darts his eyes around the room, and sure enough, sees his phone resting face down on the floor, unplugged, his charger discarded less than a foot away. 

His phone had died sometime in the middle of the night. 

If Taeyong could blush any harder, he definitely was right about now. Taeyong curses himself silently for being a big, raging, idiot with worms for brains.

He runs a hand through his hair, realizing that he hasn’t looked in a mirror yet this morning, and the over-bleached blonde strands are probably sticking in all sorts of unflattering positions, and tries to flatten it frantically. Not to say that that helped, it probably didn’t. 

“My phone seems to have not made it to its charger last night…” Taeyong gestures towards the phone still laying on the floor, and the adjacent charger. 

“Seems to?” Johnny raises an eyebrow.

Taeyong winces.

“Okay, fine, I forgot to plug it in. Happy?” He wants to roll his eyes again, but refrains. Because it was his fault, really, and Taeyong couldn’t exactly be mad at Johnny for being frustrated at having to wait. Taeyong knew all too well what that was like. 

“No, I’m actually kind of pissed,” Johnny sighs, dragging his hand through his hair, “I’m hungry, and I want to leave this hotel like yesterday. The mattress was way too soft and the AC was so fucking loud I could barely sleep.” 

Taeyong takes back his previous statement. Maybe he could be a little mad, Johnny was kind of back to being an ass, afterall. 

Had Taeyong hallucinated Johnny being somewhat nice yesterday?

Or, Taeyong thinks, remembering the simply absurd amount of coffee he had seen Johnny intake the day prior, was he simply caffeine starved? 

And I haven’t had any coffee, Yong. I’m practically dying here,” Johnny whines, his tone pitching up like a kid's. 

Ah, the second theory, it was, then.

Johnny’s caffeine addiction was already predictable, and Taeyong had only discovered it yesterday. The comment has Taeyong thinking that Johnny would love the coffee from the cafe across the street from his apartment back in the city, but catches himself right before he says they should go there sometime, when he remembers that they probably won't see each other alone ever again after the trip. 

The thought leaves a bad taste in Taeyong's mouth, though he can't quite place why

He shakes off the thought. 

“I’m truly so sorry, Johnny, I really can't apologize enough. No coffee before ten? That’s like a cardinal sin,” Taeyong scoffs in mock solidarity, watching as Johnny seems to agree with the statement. Taeyong holds back a laugh.

“I’ll be ready in five, I promise,” Taeyong says, with an awkward wave of his hand down his body, “I need to like get dressed, and pack, and maybe brush my teeth or something,” 

“Fine, but make it quick.”

Johnny turns, backing into his own room to walk downstairs. 

“Okay, I’ll meet you downstairs for breakfast,” Taeyong calls at his back.

Taeyong shuts the door behind him and leans against it, closing his eyes as he groans at how dumb he probably just looked. And acted, for that matter. 

He peels himself off of the door, and turns back to pack his suitcase, only to stop dead in his tracks. 

Taeyong was face-to-face with his reflection, and boy, was it a hot mess.

His hair was sticking straight up in multiple directions, comparable to someone recently struck by lightning. Apparently, his manual flattening with his hands had not done the wonders he wanted it to. His face was not only beet red from blushing, but upon further inspection, he had lines curving into his skin from his pillow. There was even a thin line of drool from the corner of his mouth to his cheek that Taeyong viciously wipes away. 

And as if it couldn’t get any worse, Taeyong finally drags his gaze down to his sweatpants, and his eyes nearly pop out of his face. If you look close enough, hell, even if you don’t look close at all, there was the painfully obvious outline of his dick. The full outline, not an ounce left to anyone’s imagination. It was practically 3D and shaded in. 

Taeyong is going to die of embarrassment. 

No wonder Johnny practically couldn’t look away, Taeyong’s dick had been staring straight at him. 

Taeyong slaps his hands on his cheeks, considering making his sheets into a noose and ending it all. 

On the plus side, he won't have to look at Johnny ever again, knowing he's basically seen him naked.

Then, on the down side, he considers that Mark would have no best man, no one to support him, and probably never forgive him. And, Johnny would probably rejoice knowing Taeyong had met his end because of his own stupidity. 

Taeyong sighs, death shall not win today, it seems. 

Taeyong drags his hands over his face and turns towards the bathroom to get his shit together.  

After brushing his teeth, and getting his hair to lie relatively nicely on his head, he leaves the bathroom to get dressed and finish packing, before Johnny has any more reason to think he's dumb as rocks.

And maybe, just maybe, Taeyong puts on some concealer and a little lipgloss, one of his better outfits he had packed, and gives himself a pep talk on how to not be an idiot every waking hour of the day, before walking down to the hotel lobby and searching for a particularly well dressed giant. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Taeyong had found Johnny at a table in the corner of the room furthest from the buffet, sticking out like a sore thumb. Not because of his height, or his clothes, or even his annoyingly handsome face, but because he was holding a menu, while the rest of the people in the room had opted to eat from the free hotel breakfast buffet like normal humans. 

Taeyong had considered eating alone, just to save himself some embarassment. 

After a moment of hesitation once he’d filled up his plate, he sighed and made his way back to Johnny’s table, sitting down reluctantly. 

Johnny had barely moved, refusing to take his nose out of the menu even to greet Taeyong. 

Taeyong’s eyes now take in the two empty coffee cups on the table and he smiles a little, at least Johnny got his caffeine fix. Now, Johnny had no reason to be so grumpy and rude. Not that Johnny probably normally had a reason when he was rude to Taeyong, but still.

Taeyong puts his hand on the top of the menu, pushing it down so that Johnny would meet his eyes.

“The buffet is literally free, Johnny, there’s no need to waste money on breakfast from the menu,” Taeyong reminds him. 

“I can afford a seven dollar breakfast,” Johnny deadpans. 

Taeyong sighs, “I know you can, John, but if I have to hear about you being richer than God one more time , I’m gonna…”  

At that Johnny raises his eyebrow. Going to what? The look reads.

A challenge like that should never be accepted. It was a rhetorical taunt and anyone else would just laugh sarcastically and move on.

But Taeyong wasn't normal and he was painstakingly never able to back down from a challenge from Johnny, even when he should, so he responds, listening each thing on a finger, “Slit your tires, put glitter in your luggage, put hair dye in your shampoo, drug you with laxatives, I don’t know, something.” Taeyong’s eyes go wide when he realizes that he admitted to thinking of those thing out loud. His filter seems to just fly out of the room whenever Johnny is around.

At that, Johnny puts the menu down on the table, leaning forward with an incredulous look on his face, eyebrows raised, laughing in disbelief. 

“Laxatives in my food? Are you kidding me?”

Taeyong swallows, “well, you know, the thought’s only crossed my mind like once or twice.” It did yesterday, he doesn’t add. 

Johnny laughs again, picking back up his menu before waving down a waiter.

“You are literally the craziest person I’ve ever met, like certifiably insane,” Johnny comments. Taeyong can’t see his face from behind the menu but he can picture Johnny’s crooked smile just from his voice. 

Then, under his breath, Johnny adds, “he would’ve loved you…” the smile still in his voice, but his tone a little softer. Taeyong wasn't even sure Johnny knew he had said it out loud.

Before Taeyong can ask who Johnny means, the waiter comes and takes his order, and they sidetrack.

Once he orders, they go on a 20 minute argument of waffles versus pancakes. 

To say the least, Johnny had ordered pancakes, and Taeyong was largely disappointed. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

About an hour into the drive, Johnny and Taeyong stop outside of Dayton, Ohio, to fill up Tina. They apparently had a long day ahead of them, and Johnny wanted to get gas when he knew there would be a station around. 

They had been discussing movies, trying to make easy conversation to pass time, and they had stopped on a particularly polarizing topic. 

Animated movies. 

“Animated movies are made for children, Taeyong, not 25 year olds,” Johnny says with a shake of his head, pulling into the spot in front of the gas tank, and putting the car into park. 

Taeyong had literally never, in his life, heard a more wrong statement. There was no way that they made all of the princes that hot if they were marketed towards children.

Excuse me ? I know that you don’t know how to have any sort of fun, but you literally cannot look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t like Studio Ghibli movies.” Who doesn’t like Howl’s Moving Castle? That was probably Taeyong’s favorite movie. That, or the Lion King. 

Johnny unbuckles his seat belt and leans towards Taeyong, cupping his face with both hands. 

Taeyong fights the urge to flinch from the intimate touch. 

His heart picks up from being so close to Johnny, and he sends a silent prayer that his face is not turning red under his hands. It is sadly not answered, as he feels heat rising in his neck and cheeks.

Johnny makes sure Taeyong is making eye contact with him, before leaning impossibly close and whispering, “I. Don’t. Like. Studio. Ghibli,” before leaning back a little with a teasing smile. 

Taeyong shoves Johnny’s hands off his face and huffs, “well, then you obviously have bad taste. You probably wouldn't know a good movie if it bit you in the ass.” 

At that Johnny laughs, unlocking the doors and getting out to get gas. 

“Tell that to my film school education,” Johnny calls with a teasing lilt from outside the car. 

His what now?

Johnny’s teasing tone that screamed ‘stop talking, you sound dumb’ was going to be the death of Taeyong. Especially as he was hearing it far too often now.

But still, Taeyong couldn’t help but to ask, “I’m sorry, what? You went to film school ?”

Johnny quite literally had not stopped surprising Taeyong in 24 hours. It was becoming infuriating that he was always a step ahead.

“Shouldn’t you have done something like, I don’t know, economics, or finance?”

Johnny laughs again, “I did, graduated summa cum laude with a BA in finance.” Taeyong chooses to ignore the blatant bragging, and especially refrains from asking him from where. Even if he is a little curious...

“How the fuck did you major in finance at film school?” 

“I didn’t,” comes Johnny’s answer. Johnny was clearly enjoying himself.

“I can’t stand you,” Taeyong starts. He has to physically restrain himself from hitting something. It was like everything Johnny did made him feel homicidal these days.

“I know,” Johnny responds, not providing any other explanation. 

Taeyong gives him a very pointed look, as if reminding him of all the things he had threatened Johnny with this morning.

The gas clicks, signalling a full tank.

“I transferred out of film school about half way through my second year,” Johnny starts, pulling the fuel nozzle out of the car. “I decided on finance because I’m good at math, and then next thing you know, I landed a job at Goldman and Sachs right after graduation, and well, here we are.” Johnny even had the audacity to shrug, as if getting a six figure job straight out of graduation was no big deal.

Taeyong rolls his eyes. 

"Why film school?" Taeyong asks, genuinely curious. Wanting to be in the movie industry wasn't something Taeyong had ever even heard Johnny talk about, so hearing he had gone to film school for almost two years was something he could barely wrap his head around.

Johnny shrugs, "I wanted to make movies." The way he says it reminds Taeyong of when grandparents talk about their youth, full of quiet reminiscence, somehow sad and happy at the same time. 

"Okay, then why'd you leave?" Taeyong asks, brows furrowed.

Johnny's nose scrunches, as if the question had upset him, "well, a series of bad things kind of happened, kind of each thing right after another, and I just lost my passion for anything creative. I guess being in that industry stopped being a dream of mine," Johnny trails off. "It's really a long story, I'll tell u some other time."

Taeyong hums.

As if Johnny had noticed the drop in the mood, he is quick to add with a crooked smile, "Probably for the best, though, seeing that I apparently have terrible taste in movies, and, and I quote, wouldn't know a good movie if it bit me in the ass." 

Taeyong laughs.

“I hate you so much,” Taeyong says.

“Aw, but hate is a strong word, baby,” Johnny croons, still standing outside of the car, but resting his arms on the driver’s side seat, his weight shifted towards Taeyong. He knew that Johnny had called him baby just to get a rise out of him, and as much as Taeyong didn’t want to give in, Johnny knew all of the right buttons to push to piss him off.

Well, ” Taeyong practically spits the word, “what i’m feeling right now is very strong.” 

Johnny’s smile only grows at that, as if Taeyong had played perfectly into his trap. “Oh, that’s so cute,” Johnny drawls out the vowels, almost purring, “Yongie has feelings for me.” Johnny leans even further, batting his eyelashes up at Taeyong. 

Taeyong shoves his chest, “I’m gonna shiv you. You know that’s not what I meant, you moron.”

Johnny reaches into the middle console and takes his wallet out from where he had thrown it this morning, all while tsking at Taeyong, amusement laced in his every word.

“So, so violent,” Johnny’s smile reaches his eyes, making him look younger. 

“Don’t test me,” Taeyong warns, donning his most intimidating glare. 

“Or what?” Johnny prompts, his smile turning a dangerous direction towards a smirk.

Taeyong almost shivers at the taunting look. He was, quite frankly, still recovering from receiving a similar look this morning.

Deciding that he had already revealed too many of his well-thought-out revenge plans this morning, and that he didn't want to give Johnny any more reason to think he was mentally insane, Taeyong concedes, “I don’t know yet, but it’s not gonna be good. Watch your back, Suh.”

Johnny tilts his head as if he found that especially amusing. Like you would to a puppy who barked when it didn't get its way. “Ok, I’ll make sure to do that. You go ahead and stew on that plan of yours for a little, I’m gonna go inside and grab some snacks for later.”

At that, Taeyong’s ears perk up, and he drops the act, “Snacks?” Johnny sticks him with a pointed look. 

Taeyong feigns innocence, putting his best pout on his face, and holding his hands to his chest, "Please?"

Johnny sighs, “Fine, what do you want?”

Taeyong bites his lip, thinking of what he wanted, “Hmm get me some gummy worms,”  Taeyong says, then remembers the chocolate bar he had the other day from the grocery store, “Wait, no, get me one of those like strawberry flavored chocolate bars. You know the ones with the gooey shit in the middle? Get me one of those.”

“Anything else, your highness?” Johnny asks, annoyed at Taeyong's lack of decisiveness.

“Actually yes,” Taeyong starts, laughing at Johnny’s scowl deepening. “Get me one of those yogurt drinks if they have them.”

Johnny mutters, "shouldn't have asked," under his breath, which makes Taeyong smile.

He pulls out his phone to write it down, and Taeyong makes a noise and gestures to it, “And If they don’t have those then text me and I'll get something else.”

Johnny’s brows furrow at that, “I don’t think I have your number.” 

When Taeyong sees the opportunity, he takes it.

“Are you asking me for my number, John?” He teases, using his most flirtatious voice and wiggling his eyebrows. 

“Do you want the snacks or not,” Johnny deadpans, raising his eyebrows. No fun. 

Fine , here, give me your phone and I’ll make myself a contact,” Taeyong says, reaching for Johnny’s phone with grabby hands. 

Johnny unlocks it and tentatively passes his phone over, “don’t put anything weird as your name or I’m never going to find it, and you'll never get your chocolate,” Johnny warns.

Taeyong simply giggles, saying we'll see.

“Fine, then give me yours. I’ll add myself into your phone too,” Johnny says, reaching a hand out into the space between them.

Taeyong sends him a wary glance before unlocking his own phone and handing it over. 

Taeyong saves himself as “taeyongie” and searches for at least two minutes for the perfect emoji to put next to his name, settling on the cat emoji with the kissy face. 

He clicks on the empty photo spot, and tries to work with the limited car lighting to take a selfie. 

He settles on a scrunched up face with a peace sign, and hits save.

Taeyong glances up, expecting Johnny to be looking at him impatiently having finished typing “John Suh” or something equally boring, but instead sees Johnny, brows furrowed, his finger swiping quickly through something on Taeyong’s phone.

Taeyong’s eyes widen at the motion, knowing damn well that the scrolling motion couldn’t be used in making a new contact.

“Hello? What’s taking you so long? Are you snooping through my phone?” Taeyong asks, pitch rising in panic.

Johnny glances up momentarily before going back to scrolling.

“Why? Something I shouldn’t see?” Johnny teases, raising his brows.

Right as Taeyong is about to say no, of course not, he remembers the picture he sneakily took of Johnny the day before when they stopped to take pictures of the sunset.

Fuck.

If Johnny saw that, he would either think that Taeyong was creepy, or he would think that Taeyong had a secret crush on him. Both of the options were quite frankly humiliating. Not to mention, not true. Taeyong was no creeper.

He sees Johnny smile, and it looks like he clicks on something. Fuck, fuck, fuck. “Wait you’re not actually looking through my shit,  are you?  Johnny, are you in the fucking camera roll?” Taeyong asks, panic evident at the end of the question. 

At that, Johnny looks up,“No, should I be ? What are you afraid of me seeing?” Johnny asks, before his jaw drops and he laughs out loud, looking into Taeyong’s eyes as he says with a goofy smile, “It's nudes, isn't it?” 

Taeyong’s face flushes immediately and he has to look away. No, absolutely not.

Johnny, however, takes the blush as an admission of guilt, and he suddenly laughs even harder, probably the loudest laugh Taeyong has heard from him, “No fucking way . You actually thought I found your dick pics?” He laughs between words, the sound coming out mostly as air at how hard he’s laughing. If he had tears in his eyes, Taeyong wouldn’t be surprised.

Then, Johnny continues, “not that you really left a lot to the imagination this morning, but seriously, like, wow... ” Johnny trails off, shaking his head. 

If Taeyong could blush any harder, he was. Right when Taeyong had finally convinced himself that Johnny hadn’t been looking directly at his dick this morning, of course he had to bring it back up. 

Because he was Johnny Suh, and Taeyong was never going to win. He really hated him right now

“Johnny, seriously, shut the fuck up. ” Taeyong wants to curl up into a ball, or crawl under his seat. He can simply never look at him again. If he thought this morning that, thinking that Johnny had been looking at his dick was bad, knowing that he was was undeniably worse. 

Johnny clicks a few last buttons on Taeyong’s phone before turning it off. 

“How bad even are your nudes that you would be that embarrassed about me seeing them?” Johnny asks with an amused smirk, passing Taeyong back his phone.

As if that would be why Taeyong didn’t want Johnny to see pictures of his dick, because they were bad, not because they were literally pictures of his penis. Also, what the fuck was that supposed to mean? Does Taeyong look like he takes bad nudes?

“I’ll have you know that I take excellent, top tier, well-lit, perfectly posed nudes, thank you,” Taeyong responds, slapping his hand over his mouth as he realizes what he just said.

Johnny’s eyes darken momentarily, flicking down Taeyong’s body before meeting his eyes with a pointed stare and a smirk, “that’s great, Yong, really thank you so much for sharing, I’ll be sure to remember that. I’ll be back in a few,” he says, shutting the door as he walks towards the storefront. 

Taeyong is about three seconds from either hitchhiking the rest of the way to California, or spontaneously combusting. 

I’ll be sure to remember that?

What the fuck was that supposed to mean?

Had Taeyong really never noticed that Johnny was such a shameless flirt? Or was this a post-breakup thing?

It had to be the post-Seulgi effect that had Johnny acting so bold, and so especially annoying.

Taeyong isn’t sure whether to hug her for all of the changes he’s seeing in Johnny, or send her hate-mail.

When Johnny comes back with his yogurt drink, and two types of chocolate bar, Taeyong decides on option one with a smile. For today, Seulgi was safe.

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

As Johnny had told Taeyong over breakfast this morning, their day was going to be a long one. They had left Columbus around 11:30, which had put them at least an hour and a half behind schedule, and was admittedly entirely Taeyong’s fault. 

From Columbus to St. Louis, their next stop, the drive time was about six hours. That is, if traffic and other outside circumstances played in their favor. And, they so rarely did . 

After stopping in Dayton for gas and some food, they decided on a late lunch at a drive through off the interstate, instead of sitting down like they had the day prior. While Taeyong would’ve much preferred to get out and stretch his legs, he was in no position to be complaining about Johnny making decisions in order to make up for time that Taeyong had lost them. 

However, while Taeyong’s chocolate bar had lasted him at least another hour or so on the road, his stomach started to growl.

It had growled a few times, and both him and Johnny had chosen to ignore it, until a particularly loud one that they couldn't pretend like didn't happen. It sounded like a stampede was going on in Taeyong's stomach.

Johnny draws his eyes off the road at the loud noise, looking to Taeyong with tired eyes, “Someone’s hungry.”

An understatement. 

“Maybe,” Taeyong responds sheepishly, “but it's fine. We really don’t have to... well, we, um, we don’t have to stop for food or anything. I know it’s my fault we are off schedule.” 

Taeyong picks at the hem of his sweater, waiting for a response. It was like him to be embarrassed in front of Johnny - it was practically Johnny’s job to fluster him - but he was so rarely so stuttering and nervous.

Taeyong can feel a steady gaze burning holes in the side of his face when Johnny turns to look at him. 

Johnny hums, considering their options, and flicking his gaze towards Tina's clock. "Well, if you’re hungry, we can drive through somewhere. I think, uhm, we are about to pass through like a major city anyway, so I’ll pull off an exit soon, ‘kay?”

“We don’t have to stop just for me Johnny,” Taeyong says, pausing and biting his lip, “I don’t want to be any more burdensome than I already am, with like, already crashing on your driving and making you late and, like being annoying, and stuff,” he trails off, looking back out the window. Taeyong suddenly realizes that he should be a lot more grateful to Johnny for agreeing to drive him. Had Taeyong been given the choice before yesterday, he’s almost sure he would’ve found a way out of it. 

Taeyong frowns at the thought. 

“Oh, Taeyong, come on now,” Johnny says, his voice filled with quiet disbelief. 

“Hm?” Taeyong responds, still looking out of the window.

“Yong, you’re not a burden, okay? I’m sorry that I made you feel that way.” Johnny sighs, leaning forward to look at the road signs for the next exit, “I know in the past we haven’t exactly, um, how to say this, liked each other all that much?” Johnny pauses at that, glancing almost nervously back at Taeyong to see how he takes it. Taeyong smiles softly at the thought. Johnny wasn’t wrong. 

Johnny takes Taeyong’s lack of response as cue to continue, “But we are in this together no matter what, so... asking for us to stop because you need to eat, or go to the bathroom, or whatever, is normal, and I’m never gonna be mad about that.” 

Taeyong thinks Johnny is going to leave it at that, as he turns his signal on and exits the highway, but he continues, smiling now, “besides, it’s just for a week, Yong. We can be civil for a week. Then after this week is over then you can crawl back into whatever pit of hell you come from, and run your anti-johnny fan club, or whatever it is you do in your free time.”

Taeyong laughs out loud at that, the sound coming out almost mostly as air, his signature, quirky laugh. 

“Careful,” Johnny warns, smiling.

“Hmm?” Taeyong asks, his brows furrowed slightly, genuinely confused. 

Johnny takes a right, onto the next street, lined with fast food restaurants. 

“That laugh,”  Johnny starts, grinning, “I think your ‘i hate johnny’ facade is cracking.”

Taeyong gasps, holding a hand to his chest in fake disbelief, “Facade? Oh John, it’s no facade . How could I be the president of the anti-johnny fan club from hell if it was all just a facade?” Taeyong says in his most serious voice before breaking and laughing at his own joke.

Johnny just shakes his head instead of answering, but his own smile grows, small lines forming at the corners of his eyes

“How does chick-fil-a sound, Mr. Club President?” 

“Sounds perfect,” Taeyong says, still laughing, then quieter, “thank you for stopping.”

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

The rain starts just about an hour after their lunch break.

It was a quiet drizzle, and the calming pitter-patter of rain against the roof of Johnny’s car combined with Taeyong's near-comatose state after eating a chicken sandwich, fries, and a milkshake almost lulled Taeyong to sleep. 

The clock read that it was just a few minutes shy of three, meaning that they had about three and a half more hours left.

“The rain will pass,” Johnny had said, confident. 

Taeyong simply made the mistake of believing him.

Approximately thirty minutes later, it had reached a point that it was raining so hard that Johnny’s worn windshield wipers couldn’t beat fast enough to keep off the rain, making it virtually impossible to see anything out of the window. 

Johnny had still insisted that, fine, maybe the rain wasn’t going to pass immediately, but it was fine, and they probably shouldn’t stop. 

Again, Taeyong said that it was fine, Johnny was driving, he probably knew best. Also a mistake.

Not even ten minutes later, Taeyong could feel the car beginning to hydroplane and felt Johnny struggle to correct the slide, causing the car to swerve, and demanded that Johnny stop at the next rest station, before they got killed, in a panicked voice. 

At that, Johnny had vehemently agreed, the scare seeming to have shaken even him a little, as his hands were gripped impossibly hard on the steering wheel. 

Johnny had said that while Tina was perfect in most ways, she was not built to weather a storm, and it was probably best to wait out the rain a little. Taeyong wasn’t sure if he agreed with the first part, but the second part was undeniable. Tina was simply too old for torrential downpour.

Johnny turns on his signal to exit the highway, the ticking noise of the right arrow on the dash barely audible over the pounding of Taeyong’s heartbeat. 

As soon as Johnny pulled into a parking spot, Taeyong let out a shaky breath, finally letting go of his arm rests that he hadn’t even noticed he had in a white-knuckled grasp. 

Johnny had an equally freaked out look on his face, and once he put the car in park and turned it off, he sunk into his chair, pushing his hands through his hair. 

The once styled black strands now hung over his face, slightly mussed from all of the times Johnny had run his hands through it throughout the day. 

Johnny and Taeyong make eye contact and each let out a shaky laugh and a holy fuck. 

“I think I’m gonna like walk around for a bit. Yeah, I need to cool down and walk around, I’m still like jittery,” Johnny says, shaking his arms out with his head tilted towards Taeyong. 

“You’re gonna get soaked,” Taeyong comments, looking towards the rain that’s pouring even harder than it was a few minutes ago.

Johnny’s nose scrunches up.

“I know. Shit, I guess I’ll sprint. I’m gonna change though, I don’t want the leather to get fucked up,” Johnny says, peeling off his jacket.

He rummages around in the back seat for a while, until he returns holding a worn out Vetements sweatshirt with a satisfied grin. 

It was the most casual thing Taeyong had ever seen him in, and it was still designer.

Only Johnny , Taeyong thinks with a soft smile. 

Johnny throws his hood up and, as promised, sprints towards the main building, a black blur Taeyong can barely follow through the haze of the rain. 

Taeyong takes a few minutes to focus on calming down his breathing, closing his eyes and leaning against the cool glass of the window, listening to the sound of rain falling around him. 

When he has finally calmed down enough for his hands to stop shaking, he picks up his phone and scrolls through his notifications. He swipes through his emails, deleting the spam, and moves on to his texts. He smiles at a youtube video link that his work friend, Doyoung had sent him, making mental note to watch it later when they stop for the night. He responds to a few more messages from work people saying they miss him already, and sees at least 200 unread texts from the group chat for the wedding party; these he chooses to ignore, knowing that Mark, or even Johnny would just fill him in later. 

After flipping through Twitter and Instagram for a few minutes and still no sign of Johnny back from cooling down, Taeyong decides to call Mark.

The phone rings at least three times, and right as Taeyong is about to hang up and text him instead, Mark answers.

“Yong, hi!” Mark heaves, his words coming out between gasps of air.

“Markie, um, why do you sound out of breath? Please, God, tell me I didn’t interrupt anything,” Taeyong responds, mind already running through the worst of situations involving mental images he wishes he could erase. 

“Hahahaha, what? No. I was just in the other room doing some things for work when I heard the phone ring, I had to run to catch it before you hung up, I knew you wouldn’t wait for the answering machine to leave a message.”

Taeyong laughs at that. After living just the two of them for so long, they knew each other like the back of their hands. 

“You know me too well.”

“I do, which is why I have a feeling this isn’t a random check in. What’s on your mind, T?”

“Can’t your big brother just call for a chat?” Taeyong asks, voice weak. He isn’t even sure why he called Mark. It was like being around Johnny so much had put him off kilter and he needed the normalcy received from Mark’s calming voice.

Mark pauses, then says , “It’s Johnny, isn’t it?”

“What do you me-”

“What did he say to you?” Mark interrupts, his no-room-for-arguments voice on full force. 

Taeyong can’t even think of anything Johnny has done in the past few days that wasn’t warranted, or at least playful. But still, there was something...

Mark continues, “Did he insult your hair again? I know you’re still not over that.”

“Well, no.” Taeyong frowns, thinking.

“Um, did he make fun of your job? Did he, I don’t know, punt a small child? Kick a puppy? Be especially mean to you in literally any way?”

 Fuck. 

Taeyong realizes with a start what has been happening that has his system out of whack.

It wasn’t Johnny being mean, or being terrible, or rude, or snobbish. It was… 

“Worse, Markie…” Taeyong doesn’t even know if he can say it out loud.

“You can tell me, T, what did he do?”

“He was nice to me…” Taeyong whispers, horror creeping into his voice.  

“He was what? I’m sorry, did I just hear you wrong? Is this a fever dream? Have you been drugged? Being held captive?” Mark asks, laughing between each statement. 

“I don’t even know what’s going on anymore. It’s like, so we ran into Yuta, and Johnny, he defended me, Mark.”

“As he should’ve, Yuta treats you like shit -- ” Mark interjects.

“-- No, listen to me, Mark. He not only defended me against Yuta, but then he proceeded to make him look like a grade A moron. Like scared the shit out of him. And then afterwards was so nice to me that I fucking hugged him. Hugged him, Mark! I'm not even a touchy person with people I'm friends with! And then, today, I made us late because I accidentally slept in, which is a long story I don’t want to get into, and he was annoyed, of course, but he wasn’t even that mean. And then he, get this, Mark!” Taeyong pauses for dramatic effect, “He even apologized to me today for making me feel bad!”

Mark keeps laughing. 

“I think he’s gotta have some sort of plan, Mark. I feel on edge and my stomach hurts constantly, and I can’t like stop thinking about him, I know he’s up to something. 

“Taeyong I think I know what the problem is,” Mark says, a smile evident in his voice. Taeyong could practically picture his high cheekbones squished into a wide grin. 

“Oh, thank god, I thought I was losing it.”

“Yong, you have a crush on Johnny”

Time stopped. Taeyong felt the need to laugh out loud or cry, or maybe both at the same time. 

“Mark, I love you, but that is quite literally the most moronic statement I have ever heard. I can’t have a crush on Johnny, I hate him.” Taeyong responds, confident. 

A crush? On Johnny? The thought had never even crossed Taeyong’s mind. 

Sure, if he was drunk and didn’t know him, he may go home with him from a bar, but a crush? Taeyong can't even imagine it. 

“The uneasy feeling in your stomach is butterflies, T. And you can’t stop thinking about him, because... you like him. You’re spending all this time with him alone, which you’ve never done before. He’s funny, and you know it, but probably refuse to admit. He’s exactly your type, he’s successful, he has good taste in music. T, you definitely just have a crush on him,” Mark declares, ranting off each point of the list like he had it prepared.

Mark's points all made sense, sure, but Taeyong simply refused to admit the possibility. 

“That’s ridiculous, Mark. I - just, No. I don’t have a crush on Johnny, why would you even suggest that?” Taeyong asks, offended. 

“I can’t wait for the day I say I told you so, but sure, for now you can live in denial.”

“Ok, well that day is never going to come, so. On that note, I’m hanging up. Talk to you soon Markie.” Taeyong ends the call before Mark can say anything else that will make his brain feel boggled. 

He turns his phone off in his lap and stares out the window at the rain, Mark’s words replaying in his mind. 

A crush, a crush, a crush on Johnny.

The phone on his lap buzzes, a new text notification popping up. 

Taeyong is confused at first when he sees the sheer amount of emoji’s in the contact name, not remembering giving anyone that title, then realizes who it had to be. His lips turn up subconsciously when he reads the name. So that’s what he had spent so long doing this morning.

 

From: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

2:31 pm: You’re going to want to come inside and see this. 

 

Taeyong begins to re-pack his bag and finds a bucket hat to throw on so he doesn’t get but so soaked in the torrential downpour. It was so like Johnny to tell him to come inside and not give him a reason why.

Just as Taeyong is about to open the door and start to run, his phone buzzes again.

 

From: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

2:32 pm: Also, nice contact photo.

 

Taeyong bites his lip as he remembers the selfie he had taken that morning and saved as his contact picture on Johnny’s phone. He wouldn’t admit it out loud, but he had taken the picture a few times. It had to be silly, but not ugly, kind of cute, but not too try-hard. A hard task to say the least. 

He unlocks his phone to open his chat with Johnny, right when another text rolls in.

 

From: Johnny 🥰😏🥺😍🤧😳😘

2:33 pm: Cute.

 

Taeyong blushes, Mark’s words just repeating over and over and over in his head. 

A crush. A crush. A crush.

And then, as if it couldn’t get worse, Taeyong sees a bit of color at the top of the page and glances up up to look at Johnny’s contact at the top of the message chain. 

Sitting in Johnny’s contact photo was a little pink and purple monster, with endearing little orange stripes, and big eyes, with a snaggle tooth. 

Lanky Fucking Schmidt. 

Taeyong's heart warms up a little bit at the thought that Johnny had remembered what Taeyong had called him and decided to make it his contact. 

A character from monsters inc, an animated movie, which he had never seen and thought was childish by principle. 

Well played, Mr. Suh, well played. 

Johnny hadn’t been searching for emoji’s to use, he had been searching for the cartoon Taeyong had called him the day prior as a poorly done joke. 

It was cute, and endearing, and fuck if it didn’t make Taeyong’s poor, poor heart skip a goddamn beat. 

Taeyong was so screwed.