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The tricky part of this whole thing is that it's easy. Too easy. When Jeno thinks about it, and by that he means really think about it, with his brain and not his dick, hunched over a cereal bowl as he contemplates the merits of mixing Gatorade into the milk, he feels like a lab rat pressing on the lever. Again, again, again. He never learns, always chasing the same high, always sticking it out only to give in at the last moment.

This time around, he’d thought he’d finally beat it.

Then again, when it comes to Donghyuck, he never seems to win. 

Jeno is a normal college student. And like any undergrad, he might not have a bachelor’s degree yet, but he sure as hell has a master’s in procrastination. By his second semester of university, it’s become almost like a game, seeing how many lectures he can sleep through before he’s knocking on his TA’s office with two double shot espressos and a lack of hesitation about getting on his knees.

Which is not to say that Jeno fails his classes because he doesn’t. According to Chenle, it’s “a fucking miracle, really” but Jeno is hard pressed to understand Chenle’s definition of miracles when Chenle himself hasn’t been to a single lecture since the third month of freshman year. 

Really, it’s not a miracle. What it is, is thriving under pressure , waiting for the dynamite stick to be lit under his ass before he cannonballs into a week long marathon of cramming, crying, and chugging Red Bull, only to emerge with his head (and GPA) still intact.

Nothing comes without a cost, of course.

The night after Jeno’s finished the last of his hell forged midterms, he decides to get properly smashed. He pre-gamed in Renjun’s apartment, chasing the Dixie cup shots of battery acid vodka with a bottle of peach soju, then drifted down a few blocks to the KSA house, where the Spotify playlist was decent and strangers turned friends were only too happy to pass him the blunt. Somewhere between the third Twice remix and the ringing aftermath of an EDC set, he found himself at the gate of Chenle’s frat, squinting at a wet die table as the bouncer (a beanpole boy with curious eyes) and Renjun conversed.

His name was Jisung, the bouncer, and he was kind enough to direct Jeno to the location of the conspicuous bathroom, confidential knowledge reserved for frat bros and friends. Upstairs, down the hall to your left, please knock before you open the door. The last part slipped Jeno’s mind, which is how he opened the door to a front row view of Donghyuck Lee with his tongue down the throat of the same girl who’d rolled his blunt at the KSA party. 

“Uh, sorry to interrupt but I kind of have to pee? I’ll be fast, I promise.”

To be fair, Jeno made quick work of his business. But by the time he stepped out, patting his wet hands on his jeans, only Donghyuck was left, sitting on the floor and tapping away at his phone. He looked up when Jeno cleared his throat, a wry grin on spreading on his lips.

“Jeno, right? Wow, that was fast. I was expecting you to knock out in there. It's happened before,” Donghyuck explains when Jeno’s brows knitted.

“For better or for worse, I’m not that shitfaced,” Jeno muttered. “She's gone?”

Donghyuck shrugged, placing his phone face on the carpet, and propped his chin on his knees, head tilting at an angle as if to take Jeno in. “Yeah, I don’t think she’s coming back, said something about going to smoke a bowl? I’m not too mad about it, if I had to be honest."

And the next part was the real kicker, the catalyst to all of Jeno’s problems. Because in that moment, the world wobbling gently like inside of a goldfish bowl and half a semester of sleep deprivation weighing on his brain cells, Jeno decided that there was nothing he wanted more than to rock the bowl off the table.

He blinked at Donghyuck’s slicked back hair, his flannel shirt, the open curiosity in his eyes as he stared back at Jeno, and he didn’t even stutter.

 “Want me to take her place?"

It’s not that Donghyuck is out of his league per se. 

Jeno has a good enough grasp on his self-confidence, ego, whatever you call it to understand that yeah, he’s physically attractive enough that the boys he’s shown interest in have generally reciprocated and his mother’s circle of friends call him handsome when he comes back to stay during breaks. Enough that he can hold a match to Donghyuck’s brand of sharp smiles and long legs.

The problem is the implications of Donghyuck himself. The implications of doing the walk of shame down the creaky frat house stairs and rousing Jisung from his dead man sprawl on the couch, his mouth dropping into a perfect O at Jeno’s dishevelled state. The implications of opening the front door to Chenle’s cheshire smile, beaming straight through the motley spots on his neck like a particularly vicious UV ray. 

It’s fucking horrifying because Jeno knows Donghyuck, in the way you know same circle acquaintances that you’ve bummed a smoke from and occassionally hear gossip about over the barbecue grill. And there are so many stories about Donghyuck. Donghyuck doing a two minute long wine bag, Donghyuck cannonballing off the frat house roof. Donghyuck, Donghyuck, Donghyuck, and everywhere he goes, a trail of broken hearts.

Donghyuck's reputation precedes him. If Jeno had any sense of self preservation, he should have known better. 

The bigger problem? If he could go back in time, he would still do it again. 

How could he not, when Donghyuck had licked so gently into his mouth as he pushed Jeno down on his comforters, his crooked fingers holding onto Jeno’s waist like the muscle memory of a slow waltz? 

It was jarring, that softness, that brief moment of clarity passing through Jeno as if he was peering through a transparent shard of sunlit sea, the world illuminated in a clear blue hue. 

Then the hurricane, the monsoon winds, Donghyuck’s fingers tugging off Jeno’s jeans and wrapping around his cock. Skip intro, fast forward to the car chase, Donghyuck’s hips picking up rhythm as he pinned Jeno against his Ikea sheets and fucked him like he had something to prove. Jeno’s focus narrowed down to Donghyuck’s gasping breaths and murmurs in Jeno’s ear. Screeching tires, smoke rising, then boom, the delicious crash, free falling over the edge, white sparking at the edge of Jeno’s blurred vision.

How could he not want that again?

So he sought Donghyuck out again. And again. And again. By the fifth time, with the clutches finals looming out of the corner of their eyes, Jeno had done away with the excuse of alcohol and the drugs, shamelessness dragging him by the bootstraps up the stairs and into Donghyuck’s bedroom.

Without the rushing feeling in his veins, Jeno has become aware of so many things. Like the glint in Donghyuck's eyes when he pulls away from Jeno's mouth to gasp for air, mischief blanking into want when Jeno runs his thumb across Donghyuck's puffy lips before he rushes forward again. The laughter that bubbles up between those same lips when Jeno struggles to unbuckle Donghyuck's stupid belt and lets out an exasperated growl.

"You're so cute, Jen," Donghyuck murmurs and Jeno hates the wrenching feeling in his guts, spooling in heat. Nearly busting a nut from being called cute by Donghyuck Lee? Now that's a new low.

Though still not enough to keep Jeno from forging on like the overachiever he is. If anything, it spurs him on, bracketing his thighs around Donghyuck's hip as he leans back to take off his shirt. He likes putting on a show, even when he can hear the sound of the crowd screaming to Mo Bamba trickling through the crack under Donghyuck's door. 

It doesn't matter. Everything's reduced to white noise, the world shifting to focus on Donghyuck's hungry gaze and roaming hands, a mix headier than the vat of jungle juice downstairs.

Jeno likes this version of Donghyuck so much more than the Donghyuck of legends. His version. Where before he'd only known Donghyuck through a rough Etch-A-Sketch of his Top 10 Public Moments, now Jeno's starting to fill in the whole picture, laying down the brushstrokes like an old master. It's enough to start compiling his own Top 10 List at this moment, in no particular order:

1. Donghyuck hooking his arm around Jeno's waist and flipping them in one surprisingly smooth movement, so that he's looking down at Jeno with mirth in his eyes as he slides his knee up between Jeno's legs. Jeno stares back at him with a dumbfounded expression.

"What? You're light as a feather."

2. His crooked fingers making quick work of Jeno's pants and underwear, lost in an instant to the mass of clean? dirty? laundry on Donghyuck's floor. (In the aftermath, Jeno will find his briefs resting on an open page of a chapter he had forgotten to read in his own textbook and mentally thank Donghyuck for his impeccable aim.)

3. The wet heat of his mouth enveloping Jeno's length, as his hand holds down Jeno's hips, digging into the flesh but not quite enough to bruise. Briefly, Jeno wishes that it did, but the thought is out of his head the second Donghyuck's tongue begins its ministration. For all the talking Donghyuck does, he's an ace at making Jeno see stars, fingers winding in Donghyuck's shaggy hair as he hollows his cheeks and swallows.

4. And after, Donghyuck peering down at him, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, a cheeky smile spreading on his lips. In a flash, Jeno sees it: the magnum opus. A snapshot of the boy in the center of an exhibit room, roped off from the awed crowd, the fuzzy edges of his shape painted golden by the lamp on Donghyuck's nightstand.

5. Donghyuck pressing a kiss to the corner of Jeno's lips, his last words before he drops all of his weight onto Jeno's side and begins to snore: "You make me go crazy, Jeno Lee." 

Okay, so Jeno is going to have to start all over again.

Which is all a long-winded way of getting to this: 

5 A.M., still in Donghyuck's bed, blinking away the dregs of sleep. The house has long gone quiet, no noises save for the occasional scuttle of footsteps in the hallway and the flushing of the toilet. Beside him, Donghyuck seems dead to the world, snoring softly against Jeno's shoulder. 

It's almost enough to make Jeno feel bad about what he's going to have to do, the guilt heavy in his stomach when he sees Donghyuck's serene face. Almost. 

Except, "Donghyuck, sorry, but you're gonna have to move. I literally can't feel my arm anymore."

Donghyuck's eyebrows furrow as he stirs from his sleep, eyes still shut. His voice comes out raspy, rough but molten in a way that makes Jeno want to hear the words over and over again. 

"If I move, will you finally go on a date with me?"

When it comes to Donghyuck, Jeno never seems to win. But maybe, Jeno thinks as he rests his head on Donghyuck's arm and curls his fingers on Donghyuck's hips, he's already had the victory in his hands all along.