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Taeyong wakes up to pale sunlight seeping through the cracks in the window’s blinds, the soft beating of a steady heart under his ear, and the familiar smell of citrus and pine filling the air. Comfortable warmth surrounds him, a feeling of contentment deep in his stomach. 

Taeyong’s eyes flutter open, rapidly adjusting to the dimly lit room. The sun was still rising, a light pink tint from the sky splayed on the white walls next to the bed. It’s probably only around six thirty, Taeyong thinks. He yawns, going to lift a hand to rub the sleep out of his eyes, only to realize that his hand is stuck under a body. A heavy body. 

His head is resting not on a pillow, but a broad chest, rising and falling with each breath, his arms wrapped loosely around a waist, hands clutched into soft cotton, legs tangled in a jumble of limbs under the sheets. 

Last night comes rushing back in flashes. The power going out. Shivering. Making his bed on the floor. Shivering. Johnny, softly calling his name. More shivering. Johnny, asking him to come get in bed. Johnny, pulling him back into his chest. Johnny, making sure he’s warm. Johnny, cuddling him to sleep.

Johnny. 

Taeyong closes his eyes, turning his face to nestle into the crook of Johnny’s neck, his lips pressed against the warm skin. He doesn’t want to face the day, doesn’t want to think about how Johnny’s holding him, holding him so closely, as if he was protecting him from everything that could possibly hurt him. He doesn’t want to admit that he feels safer than he’s felt in months, right here, in Johnny’s arms. And most of all, he doesn’t want to have to wake up and go back to pretending like he still hates Johnny, when he knows that just isn’t true anymore. Taeyong hates how much he doesn’t hate him. 

So he closes his eyes and wills himself to fall back asleep, even if it’s just for a little bit. He chooses to be selfish, at least for a few more minutes, allowing himself to relish in Johnny’s warmth, in the comfort he finds in his embrace.  

And then Johnny’s hand moves, a lazy, calming sweep of fingers down Taeyong’s spine, making him go stiff as a board, realizing two things. First, Johnny is awake. Second, Johnny’s hand is under his shirt.  

And just like that, Taeyong has to face everything he so badly wishes he could put off forever. Because Johnny’s hand feels like fire on the bare skin of his back, and Johnny’s leg is jammed dangerously high between Taeyong’s thighs, and suddenly he’s overwhelmed, the feeling of Johnny encompassing his whole being. 

Johnny’s fingers trail back up the length of his spine and Taeyong catches himself from arching into the touch. Taeyong isn’t even sure if Johnny knows what he’s doing, or if it’s just a subconscious habit after sharing a bed with his long-time girlfriend for so many years. 

Oh god. In fact, what if… what if Johnny, in his semi conscious state, thought he actually was Seulgi. The thought makes Taeyong’s stomach turn with unease… 

Because, if he thought he was cuddling with Seulgi, and woke up to find Taeyong in his arms, instead…

Taeyong doesn’t even want to think about what would happen. All of the possibilities of Johnny being mad at him, or disgusted, or disappointed are raging in his mind, and cause his stomach to drop. 

Johnny’s hand stills on the small of Taeyong’s back, each finger that dips into the soft skin feeling like a brand. Taeyong feels goosebumps rise on his skin, his whole body trying to remain perfectly still. 

He realizes that he needs to move, and fast, before Johnny realizes what’s going on.

Taeyong shifts a little, trying to subtly take his head off of Johnny’s chest and move back onto the other side of the pillow without fully waking him up. 

However, at the subtle movement of Taeyong lifting his head off of Johnny’s chest, Johnny groans, tightening his arms around Taeyong’s waist, pulling him impossibly closer.

“Stop moving, babe,” Johnny whines, whispering into the top of Taeyong’s head, his voice thick with sleep. 

Babe?  

Okay, shit, he definitely thinks Taeyong is Seulgi..

Taeyong takes a deep breath and pulls lightly against Johnny’s arms again, desperately trying to escape yet another awkward situation that none other than himself is at fault for. 

He gets one arm out from under Johnny’s body, and moves on to the harder task of extracting Johnny’s leg from between his legs, only for Johnny to push his knee even further between Taeyong’s thighs, causing a light whimper to fall from Taeyong’s lips.

“Fucking hell, Taeyong, I said stop moving,” Johnny groans as he rolls onto his back, going as far as to pull Taeyong slightly on top of him.

Taeyong… he said Taeyong, right?

So he knew it was Taeyong who he was cuddling with? Not Seulgi? 

Taeyong’s heart clenches, beating erratically. His chest is now pressed directly onto Johnny’s, and Taeyong wonders if Johnny can feel just how fast his heart is beating. 

“Did you just call me babe? ” Taeyong whispers, a small smile making its way onto his face when he realizes that Johnny had definitely said that, knowing it was him. 

“Psh, what? Absolutely not,” Johnny teases, before adding with a big yawn, “go back to sleep, Yong.”

“I thought we had to make up a lot of time today, though,” Taeyong whispers, his words slightly jumbled from where his mouth is pressed to Johnny’s collarbones. Taeyong finds himself yawning back, Johnny’s own yawn having a contagious effect on him. 

“Maybe,” Johnny starts, his chest rising and falling under Taeyong with each word, “but it’s like the asscrack of dawn right now and, besides, this is the best I’ve slept in weeks,” Taeyong can feel the corners of his lips lifting into a soft smile at Johnny admitting he slept better with Taeyong in his bed. Johnny’s hand makes another calming sweep up Taeyong’s spine, before he adds, a smile evident in his voice, “I don’t want it to end just yet.”

Johnny,” Taeyong whispers against Johnny’s skin, “just admit I’m the best cuddler ever and you’re never going to sleep well again now that you know what you’re missing out on.”

“Taeyong Lee, I solemnly swear that I am never going to be able to sleep as well as I did last night unless you are here in my arms. Does that work? Can I go back to sleep now?” Johnny says, his voice thick with sleep and sarcasm. 

Taeyong’s stomach does a backflip at “unless you are here in my arms,” but he tries to calm himself down before saying, his voice teasing, “hmm, I don’t know.”

“Just a few more minutes, please. Let me relish in the Taeyongie cuddles before you go back to yelling at me,” Johnny whines, obviously trying to appeal to Taeyong’s weak spots. And, it works, of course. Because it’s Johnny , calling him Taeyongie, and being soft and sweet, and for fucks sake, he always gets what he wants. 

Taeyong laughs again, his hand coming up to rest on the pillow next to Johnny’s head, dangerously close to running his fingers through his hair. “Okay, you big baby. A few more minutes, it is,” Taeyong whispers. 

He feels himself slipping into sleep a few moments later,  Johnny’s calm breathing and soothing touches lulling him back to sleep, “a few minutes” turning into a whole nother hour of sleep before they decide to begrudgingly detangle and get ready for the day. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

July 28, 2018

Taeyong flipped down the car mirror, a small smile pulling at his lips as he took in his appearance. He had taken at least two hours to get ready, but fuck if it hadn’t been worth it. 

He had put his favorite silver earrings in, which stood out against his freshly dyed bright red hair, and he had thrown on his favorite structured white shirt that made his collar bones stand out, and some tight black jeans. His skin was shining, his foundation dewy and light but perfectly covering all of his blemishes. His eyes sparkled from the light gold eyeshadow he had applied, and he had lined his eyes in thick black kohl liner to make them stand out against his pale skin. His eyebrow had a recently re-done slash through it, making him look admittedly more badass than he was. And his lips, oh he had outdone himself with his lips. He was wearing the peachy lip gloss named “orgasm” from NARS, which had quickly become a favorite, as it made his lips look far plumper than they actually were. 

His roommate at the time, Ten, had told him that he looked “perfectly fuckable.” 

While Taeyong would probably never admit it, that may or may not have been exactly what he was going for. He wouldn’t let some suit look at him in his work clothes and unwashed hair after working a double shift and make their whole opinion of them in just a few minutes of one bad day.

No, absolutely not. Taeyong was going to make Johnny Suh rue the day he looked at Taeyong with something like disgust in his eyes. He had only met the man once, and in those five minutes he had managed to wake up some small demon inside of Taeyong that he didn’t even know existed. 

It had been over a month since they had first met, and yet, the thought of seeing Johnny again made his heart race. It was just because of how rude he had been, Taeyong told himself. You just want to prove to him that you are better than he made you feel. And maybe that you clean up nicely too. Not that it mattered. Taeyong could care less if Johnny thought he was ugly, but he doubted after his show today that Johnny would be thinking whatever it was that he thought when they first met. Whatever thought had crossed Johnny’s mind and made him look like he felt ill, Taeyong would be sure to replace it today. With what, he didn’t know, but he was going to find out soon enough. 

He shut the mirror with a satisfied smirk, and opened the car door to walk up to Mark and Donghyuck’s apartment. 

They were celebrating Mark’s birthday a weekend early, it being the only time that he who shall not be named and his girlfriend could come, something about a work event that he had to host that Taeyong thought sounded incredibly boring and definitely not impressive at all.

He opened the door to the apartment, Mark’s present in hand, at least five minutes early. He wasn’t making the mistake of being late ever again. Johnny had made him feel like a big stupid idiot, and not to mention, Mark had been mad at him for like two whole days. For anyone else that would be nothing, but for Taeyong, that was two days too many. 

Taeyong stepped into the apartment and could almost immediately feel the weight of everyone in the room’s gaze landing on him. He watched as the eyes of multiple boys and girls went dark at the sight of him in the doorway, blatant attraction written on many faces. Sure, Taeyong could be easy to fluster with heated words and smirks, but he flourished under the attention of a crowd. It wasn’t like Taeyong to be especially narcissistic, or even confident on a day to day basis, but it was like once he put on a mask, he was untouchable. And what a pretty mask he had put on that day. 

He made small talk with a few of Mark’s friends for about a half an hour, floating his way around the living room between people he hadn’t seen in a while, catching up. He saw Donghyuck in the corner of the room and excused himself from his conversation to see where Mark was. He needed to wish Mark a happy early birthday before he got too caught up in talking to everyone else that he forgot what he was actually there for. He and Donghyuck talked for a few minutes and eventually Taeyong had been pointed to the kitchen to find his brother. 

Taeyong set down Mark’s present on a table and walked through the door, immediately spotting Mark over near the fridge. He was standing with two other people, laughing about something with his head thrown back. The sight made Taeyong smile, but the smile dropped off his face when Taeyong looked closer, and realized who Mark was standing with. 

Taeyong could feel the exact moment that Johnny saw him. It was like all of the air in the room stopped, every atom suspended in the moment. He felt his heartbeat start to pick up from the sheer intensity in Johnny’s eyes. This was what Taeyong had wanted though, right? The look of surprise, the not-so-subtle up and down, the slow fire building in his gaze? So why did it make his heart drop out of his stomach and make his palms start to sweat? 

He continued to walk towards the group, refusing to break eye contact with Johnny. Just when Taeyong had felt about three seconds from catching flame, Mark followed Johnny’s gaze and spotted Taeyong, his face brightening up as he saw his brother walking towards him, holding his arms out for a hug and drawing Taeyong’s gaze away from Johnny. He snapped out of whatever trance Johnny had put him in, the sounds of the room rushing back in as he pulled Mark into his arms with a smile. 

After wishing Mark a happy birthday and talking for a little bit, Mark had left to go do a lap and greet the rest of the people who had come to wish him a happy birthday. 

Leaving him alone with Johnny, again. 

Or, not alone, Taeyong realized. 

He hadn’t so much as looked at the third person in the group, the woman he had seen standing with Mark and Johnny when he had entered the room. He had been so distracted by Johnny looking at him like he was going to eat him alive that he had completely forgotten she was even there. 

Once he turned fully towards her and looked in her eyes, he realized with a start that she was the woman he had seen at the housewarming party. 

Johnny’s girlfriend.

“Hi, I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself earlier. I’m Taeyong,” he had said, pointing at Mark’s retreating form, “Mark’s older brother.”

What had her name been? Solhee? Seoyeon? It had definitely started with an S. 

“Seulgi, and I know,” She had responded, giving him a look of contempt that gave Johnny’s a run for his money. It was a look that didn’t sit right in his stomach. 

Seulgi. At least he had been right about it starting with an S.

Taeyong still held out a hand for her to shake, only for her to stare at it with distaste and lean back into Johnny’s chest, his arms coming to her waist to steady her. Taeyong retracted his hand, trying not to bristle at the laugh he heard from Johnny at her poorly concealed disgust towards Taeyong. 

Taeyong set his jaw and took a step back, his gaze involuntarily darting towards where Johnny’s fingers were pressed into her thin hips. 

“Ah yes, I remember you from the party, it’s nice to meet you properly,” Taeyong forced himself to say, trying to recover. 

“Is it?” She had asked, venom lacing her words. 

Taeyong’s brows flicked up in surprise. 

What the fuck had Taeyong ever done to her? Had Johnny told her something bad about him? Was she extremely homophobic or something, and seeing him in makeup and excessive jewlery had set her off?

Whatever it was, Taeyong decided right then and there that maybe he hated her even more than he hated Johnny. And Johnny already wasn’t exactly his favorite person. 

Taeyong looked up to see Johnny fighting a laugh. 

Of course he thought it was funny, the asshole. 

Johnny moved his hand to the small of her back, pushing her towards the door, “Now, now, Princess, be nice. Let’s go see if we can find Hyuckie, we haven’t talked with him yet.”

Taeyong mentally gagged at the pet name, thinking of course he called her princess like she hung the moon, right after she just was rude to Taeyong. 

Taeyong just stared with his mouth agape, watching as her face transformed into a look of love as she pressed a big, unnecessarily long kiss on Johnny’s lips, leaning up and grabbing his face in a red-nailed grasp.

“Sure thing, Johnny-bear,” she responded, sickly sweet. 

Johnny-bear and Princess? What the fuck was going on? Did that actually just happen? 

Taeyong stood in disbelief as he watched Johnny usher her out the door, the sound of a high-pitched, incredibly forced “Hyuckie!” coming out of her mouth as soon as she made it back into the living room.

Johnny turned around right before following her out of the room, stopping at the doorstep to ogle Taeyong. 

“Always a pleasure, Terry,” Johnny drawled, giving Taeyong a long up and down, his tongue darting out to wet his lips. He saw the look of contempt in Taeyong’s eyes at the blatant use of the wrong name, and smirked, calling out a, “you look good, by the way. You forgot the apron though,” as he walked away, leaving Taeyong in the kitchen to fume to himself, wondering why Johnny could get under his skin easier than anyone else, and why Seulgi was Satan reincarnated in a 100 pound woman. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

To make up for the miles they lost the day before, today was a long drive. Like.... nine and a half hours long.  

They had taken their breakfast on the road in a desperate attempt to save some time, but all it meant was that they were already hungry at only two hours into the drive. Johnny was nothing if not vocal about it, annoying Taeyong by not shutting up about just how hungry he was. We get it, John. 

Taeyong had tried to distract them with small talk and easy conversation, even going as far as to google a list of questions from VOGUE’s 73 questions series. After getting through the first 20 or so, and deciding these questions were significantly more boring than their own from the day before, they gave up. Seriously, who cares about how you would describe yourself in a hashtag, or what your thoughts on koalas was? Definitely not Taeyong. 

The traffic seemed surprisingly thick for a wednesday morning in Indiana, but Taeyong also hadn’t been outside of New York in so long, he could barely remember what could be considered “normal” traffic in the first place. 

Despite the sheer amount of cars on the road, they were still making good time. Or at least they were making good time, according to Johnny. Taeyong thought it may have something to do with the sheer amount of speeding Johnny had been doing since they first got on the road. Taeyong sat nervously in the passenger seat for the first hour, scanning the road for undercover cops. 

He didn’t see any, of course, because while Taeyong would have been pulled over if he was going five miles over the speed limit (yes, that actually happened before), Johnny could go fifteen over and there was not a cop in sight. 

Lucky bastard. 

After what seemed like three years, but was only about four hours, Johnny finally puts them out of their misery and asks Taeyong to start to look for something to eat. Taeyong opens up maps, his stomach growling as if in agreement, and finds the closest food he can, which appears to be in the next town, Rolla, Missouri. 

Because it was already one pm, Taeyong’s stomach was making obscene growling noises, so he can’t even imagine how hungry Johnny had to be. Not to mention Johnny had to be tired from driving for four hours straight on only one cup of coffee. Taeyong had quickly learned that interacting with Johnny before his second cup of coffee was unpleasant.  

After a few minutes of bickering about where to eat, they decide to go sit down in a diner somewhere close to the road, giving them a chance to rest before driving the second chunk of the drive. All Taeyong wants is to stretch his legs. Well, and maybe a burger and fries. 

The diner is nearly full when they walk in, having hit the late lunch crowd. They are steered towards one of the booths towards the front, by a frazzled looking hostess, and sat in front of the large store-front windows. A small jukebox placed in the corner catches Taeyong’s eye, making him smile. He wasn’t sure if he had actually ever seen a jukebox in a restaurant, as it didn’t exactly fit the vibe of manhattan restaurants, but he had seen the movie 27 Dresses enough times to smile at the sight. 

Where was Taeyong’s James Marsden though, huh? 

He slides into his seat, softly humming the tune of Benny and the Jets, and smiling in thanks as the waitress hands him a menu. 

“Can I get you boys started with some coffee, or anything to drink?” The waitress asks with a tired smile, to which Johnny’s shoulders sag in relief and he sighs out a “Yes, please.”

Taeyong laughs softly at the desperation in his voice, ordering a strawberry lemonade for himself. The waitress jots it down and turns to make their drinks, leaving them to look at the menu for a little longer. She comes back a few minutes later, placing their drinks in front of them and jotting down their orders. She pockets her pen and takes their menus, leaving them to go give the kitchen their orders. 

Taeyong sits back in his seat, taking a second to just look at Johnny. Really look at him, like he hasn’t really allowed himself to before. 

Johnny has always been an attractive guy, Taeyong even noticed that when they first met, but now that Taeyong is really looking at him, he sees more than just any handsome face. 

He sees how Johnny’s eyes are more complex than the dark brown of his own eyes, leaning more towards amber with how many different shades of brown are mixed in. He sees how Johnny has small laugh lines by his eyes when he smiles, and cute lines cutting in his cheeks when he laughs. Taeyong traces the shape of Johnny’s lips with his eyes, lingering on how his bottom lip is fuller than the top, eventually moving his gaze to outline every feature of Johnny’s face, committing every inch to his memory. 

So Johnny has always been attractive, sure, but this Johnny, sitting in a blue flannel, his hair still messy from their rushed morning, a lazy smile playing at his lips, his hands wrapped around a warm coffee cup, was undoubtedly beautiful.  

Johnny catches him staring and tilts his head, a wordless question of what are you doing? being asked. 

Taeyong just shakes his head, smiling at the thought of Johnny not being able to read him like a book for once. It was refreshing to have a thought for himself. 

The silence stretches on for a few more comfortable moments, both of them just quietly enjoying the other’s company, the background noise of the busy diner making the atmosphere comfortable, despite their lack of conversation.

That is, until Johnny’s phone buzzes on the table, pulling them both out of their heads, and back into the present. 

Taeyong watches Johnny’s expression change from confusion to surprise as he turns his phone over and sees the text. Johnny appears to type out a short response, working his bottom lip between his teeth, as he focuses on the words, before turning his phone back over, his brows still slightly furrowed. 

Taeyong pulls his lemonade towards him, taking the straw into his mouth for a small sip, before letting his curiosity get the best of him. 

“I’ll bite. What’s that face for?” Taeyong asks, causing Johnny to raise his gaze to meet Taeyong’s eyes. 

“Oh, nothing, sorry,” Johnny starts with a shake of his head, before Taeyong levels him with a stare, and he elaborates, “It’s just, um, Seulgi texted me,” Johnny trails off, looking away.  

“Oh?” Taeyong asks, clearing his throat, trying not to let any emotion slip through his voice, “Oh, um, What did she want?” He tries to play the question off as casual, merely to further the conversation, but a little bit of confusion can be heard in his words. 

“She, um, she,” Johnny trails off, his brows furrowing again, as if he was trying to figure out how to tell Taeyong. He works a hand through his hair, his eyes anywhere but on Taeyong’s face. 

Taeyong’s heart drops at his next thought, taking another small sip as he asks quietly, “does she, um, did she ask to get back together, or something?” 

Taeyong can hear how small his voice sounds. He isn’t even sure why the thought upsets him as much as it does, but something about Johnny going back to her makes something small inside of him die a little. Surely, it was just because Seulgi was a terrible person, and not at the thought of Johnny having a girlfriend again. Surely, not. 

A few terribly silent seconds pass as Johnny registers what Taeyong had said. Taeyong can feel his heart leaping into his throat as he prepares himself for the worst. 

“Yeah, not a chance. I’m pretty sure she’s already got a new boyfriend,” Johnny says, before laughing and shaking his head, “Actually scratch that, I’m almost positive she has a new girlfriend, and I’m pretty sure they got together pretty soon after she pulled the plug on us.” 

Taeyong frowns at the thought of Seulgi moving on so fast, potentially hurting Johnny’s feelings, before he remembers that he shouldn’t care

Then he remembers that Johnny didn’t answer the question. 

“So, what did she want?” Taeyong asks, confused.

“Oh, she was just saying like hi and seeing how I’m doing, this week, and stuff,” Johnny says, his eyes darting around a little. Strange. If Taeyong didn’t know better, he would think he was lying, but it wasn’t really any of his business. 

“She was just saying hi?” Taeyong asks, brows raised. 

“Yeah, I was just surprised to see her name on my phone, is all. I don’t think I’ve actually texted her since we broke up, so it’s weird to see her name on my phone again.”

Taeyong hums, knowing that if Johnny is choosing to not elaborate, that it’s probably nothing. Probably. 

There is one thought playing in the back of Taeyong’s mind though, now that Seulgi has been brought up again. 

“Um, hey Johnny?” Taeyong asks, cringing at how awkward he sounds.

“Hmm?”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Shoot,” Johnny says, leaning forward, his forearms on the table between them.

“Why did she hate me so much? Seulgi, I mean. I just never got it. She was so rude the first time I ever met her, like shockingly rude, and I never even did anything to her, it was kind of weird,” Taeyong says, his brows furrowing as he remembers their first meeting, in the kitchen of Mark’s old apartment. 

As soon as Taeyong finishes his sentence, Johnny laughs out loud, leaning back into his seat and picking his coffee back up to take a sip. “Oh, you never stood a chance, ” Johnny remarks under his breath, smiling over his coffee cup. 

“What is that supposed to mean?” Taeyong asks, confused. 

“She hated you way before you guys actually met,” Johnny says, his cheeks dimpling a little at how hard he’s smiling, relishing in Taeyong’s confusion. 

“But, why,” Taeyong whines, “I never even did anything to her. It felt so out of pocket.”

Johnny just smiles, sipping his coffee, trying not to laugh at the pout Taeyong definitely has on his face. 

“What’s that look? Wait. Did you say something to her about me?” Taeyong asks accusatory, his voice getting higher in pitch towards the latter end of the sentence. “You did, didn’t you. You fuck. What did you say to her?” 

Taeyong crosses his arms, huffing. 

Johnny barely even knew him that point, how had he already talked shit about him after only one meeting?

Johnny laughs, reaching out to pat Taeyong’s arm, “I guarantee it’s not what you think.”

“Okay, by all means, explain, then,” Taeyong says, rolling his eyes. “Tell me what the fuck you could have said to her that made her hate me, that isn’t exactly what I’m thinking.”

“Are you sure you really want to know? I don’t think you’re ready,” Johnny says, leaning back in his booth. 

“Johnny, I’m going to fucking snipe you. Answer the goddamn question,” Taeyong says, his eyes going wide in rage. Johnny was being intentionally infuriating, and yet Taeyong couldn’t help but fall right into his trap and was getting increasingly more pissed off the more Johnny dilly-dallied. 

“I called you hot,” Johnny deadpans, causing the whole room to freeze. He leans back in his seat, taking another sip of his coffee. “Well, actually, I said you were like a walking wet dream, but semantics,” Johnny adds, murmuring under his breath.  

What the fuck? A walking what?

Did Taeyong hear him correctly? Johnny called him what? After only seeing him the first time… where Taeyong thought he had never looked worse… covered in flour and sweat… and wearing his server’s uniform… with no makeup … and two inch grown out roots. 

“You what?” Taeyong shrieks, feeling his cheeks go hot. 

A. Walking. Wet. Dream. 

His heart was about two seconds from beating out of his chest. Johnny thinks he’s hot. Johnny thinks he’s hot. Taeyong might scream. 

Johnny laughs, folding his hands in front of him and leaning forward with a smirk, causing Taeyong to flinch back into his seat. 

“Let’s see, um if I remember correctly, I mean it was a few years ago, but if I remember correctly, we were in a pretty heated argument a few days after we met you at Hyuck’s house party, and she kept talking about this guy at work,” Johnny pauses, rolling his eyes, “and I was getting jealous, which was stupid, because he was like five foot six and had terrible breath, and was a news anchor for fucks sake. I think his name was like Steven, or Mike, or something boring. Anywho, she was just riling me up because she was mad at me for something, I don’t even remember. But she just kept saying all of this bullshit about how nice he was and how he always called her beautiful and all of that, because she knew I was going to be mad,” Johnny pauses as if trying to remember the rest of the story. 

Taeyong finds himself nodding along, desperately trying to figure out how the fuck he is going to come into the story. 

“And then she finally said something about his hair being dyed this dark shade of red,” Johnny pauses, looking at Taeyong’s eyes before continuing after seeing the recognition in his eyes, “And so I said, and I quote, “Are you saying he’s sexy, then?” which I think threw her off guard, because that wasn’t a reaction that she thought she was going to get. And so I just kept digging my grave from there, knowing it was going to piss her off. And then,” Johnny laughs, looking at the table, “Then I said, “well if he looks anything like Mark’s brother then I bet he’s the hottest person in the office.”

You did not,” Taeyong whispers, his ears burning. Was he hallucinating, or was Johnny saying that he thought Taeyong was sexy? 

Was this some sort of fever dream? Is he getting sick?

Johnny ignores him, continuing, “Safe to say she was pretty fucking pissed, considering I had not only ruined her fun with taunting me with her coworker, but I also insinuated that I found you more attractive than her.”

Taeyong’s jaw is basically on the floor at this point, but Johnny just keeps going. 

“And, so, well, of course she fought back against that. She even went as far as to say something about you not being my type at all and how you were just a waiter, and some other bullshit,” Johnny says. 

Taeyong feels his ears burning, a mixture of shame and anger. 

“So, well, then I said that you were exactly my type, and that you’d look even better out of your uniform,” Johnny meets Taeyong’s eyes, darkening slightly at the suggestion, before looking away and continuing, “I think that’s when I said something about you being a walking wet dream, and some other shit I knew would make her mad. And then, a few weeks later, at Mark’s birthday, you showed up like that,” Johnny says slowly, letting Taeyong’s mind wander back to the day. 

Taeyong remembers trying on a bunch of different clothes with his roommate and trying to look as hot as physically possible, and lets out a small, “ Oh...”

“Yeah, oh. I’m sure you can imagine how furious she was when you walked into looking like you were straight out of a fucking anime, I mean seriously, Taeyong was the lipgloss necessary? I think every person in the apartment got hard just looking at you,” Johnny says.“I mean, she couldn’t even deny that you looked good, I think that’s what really put the nails in your coffin with her,” Johnny adds, as if he was just thinking out loud. 

Taeyong’s throat feels dry, distinctly remembering the look Johnny had given him when he had seen him. 

“I had to sleep on the couch the rest of the week she was so mad.” Johnny laughs, oblivious to Taeyong’s mental breakdown on the other side of the booth. 

Taeyong makes an unintelligible noise, something like a mixture of a squeak and a whine, opening and closing his mouth a few times as no words come out. 

What the fuck was he even supposed to say to that?

Luckily, their waitress comes up to the table before Taeyong has a chance to say anything stupid like “Did you say got hard looking at me? ” and puts their food on the table. 

She places burgers in front of both of them, making Taeyong’s mouth water, and immediately dive in, hunger getting the best of both of them. 

After a few minutes of silent eating, they start to talk again, the previous conversation seemingly forgotten by Johnny, even though it’s the only thing running through Taeyong’s mind. 

After they both finish their meals, Taeyong finds himself looking longingly at the dessert menu, frowning when he sees the prices. He had saved up some money from his jobs throughout the year, but the thought of spending six dollars on a piece of cake makes the frugal in him cry. 

Johnny sees what he’s eyeing and smiles, turning the dessert menu towards him so he can read what Taeyong is staring at with a pout. 

“Getting yourself some cake, Yong?” Johnny asks, handing the menu back to him. 

“I wish,” Taeyong grumbles, “It’s too expensive.” 

He puts the menu back and pouts, looking up at Johnny with his best puppy dog eyes. 

Johnny catches on laughing and shaking his hand, “No, don’t give me that look. I’m not buying you a piece of cake.” 

Taeyong reaches out and grabs his hands, “but Johnny,” he whines, “please?”

Johnny shakes his head but doesn’t remove his hands from Taeyong’s. He watches as Johnny’s eyes shift to look at their intertwined hands, watching as a glint of mischief passes through his eyes.

“I want to make a bet,” Johnny declares, looking back up to meet Taeyong’s eyes. 

“Does the bet involve me getting a piece of cake?” Taeyong asks, feeling his cheeks pull into a small smile. 

Johnny nods, a knowing smile on his lips as Taeyong urges him to elaborate. 

“I bet you that I can get you a piece of cake without having to pay for it,” Johnny says, smirking. 

Taeyong bites his lip, trying to figure out the trick behind Johnny’s words. 

He narrows his eyes, “and what are the stakes?”

Johnny grins, “If I win, we have to share a bed again tonight.” Taeyong feels his heart rate pick up, beating erratically at the suggestion that Johnny wants to sleep with him again, especially after revealing he thinks that Taeyong is hot. 

Taeyong swallows, “and if you lose?”

“If I lose, then I’ll buy you all the cake you want,” Johnny laughs.

Taeyong smiles, holding out a hand to shake, “deal.” 

Johnny smirks, a look in his eyes that says Taeyong is going to regret his decision. 

Johnny reaches his hand out towards Taeyong’s but instead of shaking it, pulls a silver ring off of Taeyong’s right hand, with a smile and steps out of the booth. 

Before Taeyong can ask him what he’s doing, he notices that Johnny is bee lining towards the jukebox. 

Wait. No.

What was Johnny doing?

Johnny looks back towards the table and winks, mouthing something like “go with it” to Taeyong, before pulling his wallet out of his back pocket and taking out some coins, pressing a few buttons on the jukebox. 

A few seconds of nerve-wracking silence pass before familiar notes start to pour out of the jukebox, making people’s heads turn at the sound of music playing. 

Oh, no. 

Why was Johnny playing Can’t buy me love, by the Beatles...

Taeyong can feel his ears beginning to burn in second hand embarrassment, his arms coming to wrap around his body, trying to hide from the people turning to look at him as Johnny points a hand to him. 

And just when Taeyong doesn’t think it can get worse… 

It gets worse. 

Johnny starts to sing. Starts to sing to Taeyong. 

I’ll give you all I’ve got to give if you say you love me too. 

If Taeyong had thought some people were looking before, everyone was definitely looking at him now. He can’t decide if he wants to crawl under the table and die, or run straight out of the building.

Tell me that you want the kind of things that money just can’t buy.

Taeyong doesn’t think he’s ever been more embarrassed than he is at this exact moment, but somehow, Johnny just keeps going, smiling and singing at the top of his lungs. 

Johnny finally gets to the last line, crooning out a Can’t buy me love, Oh, before stopping before their booth and kneeling. 

Taeyong, along with the rest of the restaurant gasps, everyone’s eyes on Johnny, and Johnny alone. The room is so silent, Taeyong can practically hear his heart beating out of his chest. 

Taeyong is frozen in his seat, a large smile plastered on his face, whispering a Johnny, what the fuck are you doing, get up, as quietly as humanly possible through his teeth, his eyes impossibly wide.

Johnny makes eye contact with him and winks again, pulling his hand out from behind his back, a flash of silver in his hand glinting in the sunlight. 

Oh, god. A flash of silver. Taeyong’s fucking ring. 

Johnny clears his throat, raising his voice so every. single. person. in the diner can hear him, looking into Taeyong’s eyes with a crooked smile, “Taeyong Lee, I fell in love with you the minute I first saw you, and I will forever be grateful for our brothers setting us up because they knew we would be perfect for each other,” Johnny starts, making Taeyong laugh at just how untrue the statement was, before continuing, “Even though you think waffles are better than pancakes, and you thrash in your sleep, and your taste in movies is questionable, I love you more than the moon loves the stars,” Johnny holds up the ring, smiling widely up at Taeyong, “Marry me, baby?” 

Taeyong’s breath catches in his throat, his eyes flitting around the room to see the glossy eyes of everyone staring at them, grandmas with their hands over their hearts, and murmurs of that’s beautiful, and ah, young love filling the air. 

Taeyong finds Johnny’s eyes again, and sighs, committing to his role. 

He slides out of his book and wipes fake tears from his eyes, before saying, quite literally as dramatically as possible, “Johnny, oh my god. Yes, yes yes, of course I’ll marry you!” and falls into Johnny’s arms as the room erupts into applause. 

Johnny stands up, twirling Taeyong around, laughing in his ear, before setting him down and putting the silver ring on his left hand. 

They sit back down a few moments later, after accepting fake congratulations from multiple old ladies, the room eventually settling and everyone going back to their own conversations. 

Johnny sits down and goes back to sipping his new cup of coffee, acting as if nothing had happened. Taeyong just sits, his heart still pounding in his chest, waiting for Johnny to explain to him what exactly just happened. 

“Care to explain what just happened?” Taeyong asks, only to see Johnny smiling at something from behind Taeyong’s head. 

“What just happened is I just won the bet,” Johnny says, a smug look plastered on his face. 

“What? The bet? No you did--” Taeyong starts to say, only to be interrupted with their waitress sliding a big piece of chocolate cake in front of them, two candles stuck into it, the word “Congratulations” written in chocolate on the plate. 

“Told you so,” Johnny smirks, sipping on his coffee, before adding “can’t wait to snuggle,” his most smug look on his face. 

Well played, Suh, very well played. 

 

☽☽☽☽☽☽ Johnny ☾☾☾☾☾☾

June 8, 2020

Johnny looked down at Taeyong’s small sleeping form, little snores coming out of the boy’s mouth and felt his heart clench. A small smile worked its way onto his face at the adorable sight. Taeyong truly was so small that Johnny sometimes forgot they were the same age. 

He had tried to let Taeyong sleep for as long as he could, feeling guilty that he had slept through his alarm that morning and been late to pick him up that morning, but once his stomach growled for the fourth time in the span of only a few minutes, he decided to make the executive decision find a place to stop for lunch. 

It wasn’t his fault that he was a big guy with the appetite of a small army. 

He took the next exit and drove to the first restaurant he saw on the green “food” sign, a small diner, pulling into the parking lot and reading a sign that said “Dr. Doolittle’s Roadside Café and Creamery.” The name had made him smile, reminding him of the old ice cream parlor he used to walk to after his weekend film seminars, freshman year of college, and all of the memories he had made there. Memories that he hadn’t thought about in years, nearly forgotten from pushing anything and everything from those two years of his life out of his mind. Memories of him that hurt to think about for too long. 

Johnny just shook his head, bringing himself back to the present. There was no point in making himself upset in front of Taeyong, especially when he knew the rest of the week was going to be hard, as it was. 

Johnny shifted the car into park and glanced back down at Taeyong’s sleeping form, his small body curled tightly into the corner of his seat, his head resting on the window, a small pout on his lips. He looked softer when he was sleeping, innocent, untouchable, beautiful. 

Johnny’s hand subconsciously shifted towards Taeyong’s face, his fingers aching to brush his blonde bangs off of his forehead and wake him up, when he heard his phone ring, jolting him away from the boy’s sleeping form.

Johnny’s furrowed brows smoothed out when he saw the contact name, accepting the call and bringing his phone up to his ear with a grin. 

“Hyuckie, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I was just checking in, seeing how the drive was so far,” Donghyuck had said, allowing the line to go quiet for a few moments, his breathing filling the empty space of the call. Donghyuck continues, “I just.. I still feel a little bad for sticking Taeyong on you for the whole week. Well, actually, Mark feels bad, I think it’s kind of funny that he hates you so much, but same thing, it was supposed to be a week to yourself and now we’ve forced you to spend time with the only person on this planet who actively wants to kill you.”

Johnny laughed, glancing back over at Taeyong, “I think we’re gonna be fine.”

“You better be, you can’t kill each other before my wedding. Who’s gonna embarrass Mark if his big brother isn’t there armed and ready for his best man’s speech, ” Donghyuck had responded, laughing. 

“I’ll be nothing but nice, I promise,” Johnny had said, thinking about how easy it would probably be, to be nice to Taeyong. But then again, he wouldn’t get to see how Taeyong’s hands twitch when he’s mad, or how his ears go red when he’s flustered, or how he stutters and looks at his feet when he’s nervous. So maybe he’d have to break that promise, at least a little bit. 

“So you’re getting along then? You’re on good terms, friends, the whole shabang already?” Donghyuck asked with a tone that Johnny could picture after hearing it so many times in person, eyebrows raised and hands on his hip. 

“With Taeyong? Funny,” Johnny had responded with a huff of breath. He thinks that if he and Taeyong had met any other day than when they had, that they actually could’ve been friends, on good terms, the “whole shabang” long ago. But, of course, it was that day, and Johnny had ruined yet another thing. 

“I know, I know, I’m kidding. You think he hates you, blah blah blah, I’ve heard it a million times,” Donghyuck said, boredom dripping from his tone. 

“I don’t just think he hates me, I know he does. I don’t think that’s ever going to change,” Johnny responded, his tone slightly disappointed at the thought.

“Well, I mean, it could change. In fact, you have the whole week to change his mind. But it’s like he sets you off like no one else does. I mean, Mark has told me some of the things you two have said to each other, and it’s not like you at all Johnny. What is it about him that makes you push him away like that? Are you scared to let him in just because of what happened?” Donghyuck’s voice was soft, as if he didn’t want to upset him, didn’t want to bring up what they both so desperately avoided talking about. 

Johnny didn’t like the suggestion behind his words, “Stop. You know I don’t know why.” He didn’t like the suggestion at all. Most of all, he didn’t like how it felt like it was a bit too on-the-nose.

Donghyuck just sighed, “Fine, but at least try to be nice, okay? He probably doesn’t want to be stuck in a car with you either,” Donghyuck paused, his voice lilted up as if he was smiling, “Besides, Markie and I need our big brothers to come in one piece. We love you both, a lot, don’t forget that.” 

“I know. Love you too, ‘kay? I’m excited to see you.”

After a “yeah, me too,” from Hyuck, Johnny ended the call, Donghyuck’s words repeating in his head. And maybe, maybe Donghyuck was exactly right.    

 

 ☽☽☽☽☽☽  ☾☾☾☾☾☾

 

Immediately after they had gotten back to the car, Taeyong reached over and punched Johnny’s shoulder, scolding him for being “a dramatic, embarassing fucking idiot,” before sitting back in his seat and laughing hysterically. 

Taeyong calms down enough from laughing to look over at Johnny with a crooked grin, “I mean, seriously, Johnny? You seranaded me with a fucking beatles song and proposed to me? For a bet. I can’t stand you.” 

“I told you I could get you free cake,” Johnny just shrugged, laughing at Taeyong’s expression. 

“I feel like we just conned them. Like Bonnie and Clyde, or some shit,” Taeyong said, mostly under his breath, but loud enough for Johnny to catch it. 

“Taeyong, Bonnie and Clyde were a straight couple who stole money in bank robberies, not chocolate cake,” with a laugh, before adding, “But fine, we can be Bonnie and Clyde. Only if I get to be Bonnie, though, she was way cooler.” 

Taeyong just smiled, muttering an endeared “ such a fucking idiot ” under his breath as Johnny put the car in drive and pulled back onto the main road.

They left the diner, around two, leaving them with over five hours to go before they reached their stop for the day. How Johnny drove the whole way, Taeyong didn’t know. His legs were sore just thinking about it. 

He had said as much to Johnny, only to receive “ they made cruise control for a reason, idiot,” in response. Which Taeyong probably deserved, but still scowled at.

He found himself twisting his silver ring. now relocated to his left ring finger, and smiling softly. The scene from the diner was playing over and over again, the memory of Johnny telling him he thought he was hot combined with Johnny’s wide smile when Taeyong had dramatically said “yes” to his fake proposal making him bite his lip to keep from grinning ear to ear. 

He wasn’t about to give Johnny the satisfaction of knowing he had done something that made Taeyong happy, so he tries to reign in how giggly he felt from the afternoon. 

In a shocking turn of events, Taeyong had finally beaten Johnny in rock paper scissors this morning (he threw scissors, Johnny threw paper), so he got to choose the music for the day. The victory combined with leftover serotonin from the diner had him buzzing with happiness, practically bouncing in his seat with new found energy that Johnny hadn’t really witnessed yet. 

With the lack of an aux cord, though, Taeyong had to settle on flipping through the radio stations, finally stopping on a classic rock station. 

The station had lasted for at least a few hours, but eventually they hit a patchy spot on the road where they lost radio, the station cutting in and out and leaving the car in dissapointed silence. 

Taeyong and Johnny both groan. 

“I liked that song,” Johnny whines, his hand now resting lamely on the steering wheel where he had been playing fake drums less than a minute earlier. 

“Fuck, same . Do you have any CD’s?” Taeyong asks, already reaching towards the glove box to see what Johnny has stored in there. 

“Wait, don’t op--” Johnny tries to interject, frantic. 

But it was too late, as Taeyong had already hit the jackpot. 

Taeyong picks up a CD, a goofy smile plastered on his face. “Johnny’s volleyball mix, 2010,” Taeyong reads, choking on a laugh as Johnny’s cheeks turn red as he realizes what CD he was holding. “Nice picture of you and your friends you printed for the cover, John. The emo bangs and black muscle tee are super sexy,” Taeyong jokes, his fingers running along the faded edges of the picture, shoved haphazardly into the CD cover. 

It had all of the signs of a well-loved CD and Taeyong couldn’t wait to see what was on it. 

“Oh, no. Fucking put that back. Please, Taeyong,” Johnny pleads, his eyes flitting rapidly between the road and Taeyong, whose eyes are glued to the old CD in his hands. 

“Not a chance, Mr. Suh,” Taeyong taunts, waving the CD in front of them, relishing in the embarrassment written across Johnny’s face. 

“Taeyong. Please, I’m begging you, put the CD back,” Johnny whines, his hands gripped impossibly tight on the steering wheel. His cheeks were the reddest Taeyong had ever seen, and it was a beautiful sight for Johnny to be the flustered one for once. 

“Please, if you were begging you’d be on your knees,” Taeyong taunts with his most satisfied smirk, causing Johnny to groan, dragging a free hand over his face in embarrassment. 

“Yeah, not a chance, John,” Taeyong says, opening up the case and popping the disk out. “Let’s see what fifteen year old Johnny was into,” Taeyong smiles, sliding the mix in and switching the audio settings from FM radio to CD. 

Taeyong leans back in his seat and closes his eyes, only to laugh as the first seconds of track one start to play, the unmistakable chords of Welcome to the Black Parade blasting through the speakers. 

“Oh, fuck yeah,” Taeyong laughs, his head already nodding to the familiar beat, "My Chemical Romance? Fifteen year old Taeyong would have definitely had a crush on fifteen year old Johnny..”

Johnny laughs back, the redness starting to fade from his ears,“Well, If you couldn’t tell from the hair, I was a big MCR guy, don’t you worry.”

They get through the first verse, each screaming the lyrics they know by heart, before breaking out into hysterics at each other’s shitty singing. 

Taeyong wipes the tears out of his eyes, still laughing as he turns his head to the left, facing Johnny, only to find him already looking at him.

“What?” Johnny murmurs softly, his eyes darting down to Taeyong’s smile before drifting back to the road. 

“What do you mean, what?” Taeyong asks, still grinning at Johnny’s profile.

“Why are u looking at me like that?” Johnny asks, his brows furrowing slightly as his eyes dart around Taeyong’s expression again. 

“Like what?” Taeyong whispers, knowing damn well how he’s looking at Johnny. 

Johnny licks his lips, before biting his bottom one, sucking it slightly into his mouth as he thinks, “looking at me like… I don’t know. Like you actually like me,” Johnny responds, his words still carrying their typical sarcastic bite, but a subtle hint of insecure hope lacing his tone. 

Like you? Please, John, you know that’s not true” Taeyong responds, biting the inside of his cheek. Oh but, it is. It is. It is. It is. 

Johnny clears his throat, his face falling slightly towards disappointment before he schools it into indifference, “Right.”

Taeyong doesn’t miss the fleeting look, however, he watches the look of disappointment flicker through Johnny’s eyes at Taeyong saying he doesn’t like him. 

But surely that couldn’t mean… 

If Johnny was disappointed, then did that mean that maybe, just maybe, he had been hoping for Taeyong to say that he liked him, because Johnny liked Taeyong?

Taeyong can feel butterflies starting to stir in his stomach, a feeling that was becoming way too common when he was around Johnny. 

Taeyong’s immediately drawn back to his phone call with Mark, not even for the first time today. 

“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…”

“Yong, you have a crush on Johnny”

Taeyong closes his eyes, and all he can see is Johnny’s bright smile, the feeling of his arms wrapped around him as they slept, Johnny pushing him behind himself when Yuta had been rude, defending him even though Taeyong had told him time and time again that he hated him. 

Suddenly it was as clear as day, and worse than Taeyong had ever imagined. 

No matter how hard Taeyong had tried to convince himself otherwise, it was the irrevocable, unforgivable, ugly truth. 

Taeyong has a crush on Johnny Suh.