Jaemin laughs, phone pressed to his ear. “So what?”
“So, how is it?”
“The walls are peeling,” Jaemin says dramatically, flopping onto the couch. “The carpet just came apart under my feet and I had to kill a cockroach that scurried out. It’s a mess in here.”
“Liar,” Jeno says, and Jaemin can hear the grin in his voice. “You love it, don’t you?”
Jaemin smiles into the phone. “Okay, fine,” he says. “Yeah, I really do. I just unpacked all my stuff into our bedroom, and I may or may not have had to move some of your clothes to the bottom drawers. No complaining when you get back, Mr. Supermodel. You have way too many clothes anyway.”
“No complaints,” Jeno replies, amused. “I’ll just wear your clothes if I can’t find mine.”
“I can already hear you planning on stealing my hoodies,” Jaemin says, kicking his feet up and sighing exaggeratedly. “Hey Siri, what are you supposed to do when your boyfriend keeps taking your clothes?”
“Okay, I found this on the web for: ‘What are you supposed to do when your boyfriend keeps taking your clothes’,” Siri recites dutifully, and Jeno laughs, startled.
“Why does my boyfriend keep my clothes on during sex?” Jaemin reads incredulously. “Is he turned off by my body?”
There’s a muffled sound, and then a distinct thud, before Jeno starts coughing on the other end.
“...why,” Jeno croaks.
“Who knows what goes on in her mind,” Jaemin says, cheeks warm. “Just so you know, I like you with and without clothes on. Or anywhere in between.”
“Noted,” Jeno says. His cheeks hurt, a little, from smiling so many times, but he can’t stop his lips from curling up again. “Good to know my boyfriend isn’t turned off by my body.”
“Like anyone would be,” Jaemin says petulantly. “Lee-international-model-Jeno.”
There’s a shuffle on the other side, and then someone says something in the background that Jaemin doesn’t understand.
“Baby,” Jeno says, a second later. “Um, I gotta go.”
“Break’s over?” Jaemin asks, pouting. “I’ll let you go then. You’re going straight to the airport afterwards?”
“Yeah,” Jeno says, sighing wistfully. “I can’t wait. This year’s been awful without you.”
“One more day,” Jaemin muses. “Stay safe, okay? Call me when you’re on your way.”
He pauses, giggling slightly. “Maybe when you get back, I’ll show you just how much I like your body.”
“Nana,” Jeno groans. “I have to work. You can’t just say things like that.”
“Yep, okay, love you,” Jaemin says, beaming. “Work hard!”
“Love you too,” Jeno says, rolling his eyes. “Make some friends, okay? Go explore the campus.”
“Mhm,” Jaemin says, smacking his lips together near the phone. “Bye-bye.”
“Bye,” Jeno says, fondly, before the line cuts out.
Jaemin’s phone dings twice.
from: jen~ 💘
activities fair at 4!!!
main quad...u should go ❤️❤️❤️
Jaemin huffs, standing from the couch and stretching.
i’m going i’m going, he texts back, a smile lifting the corner of his mouth. focus on ur shoot!!
The main quad is packed.
Even from a couple hundred meters away, Jaemin can see at least thirty or forty booths, each with a small table and plastic chairs of their own. His eyes drift past posters ranging from swing dancing to sudoku, and he blinks, overwhelmed.
Taking a map, he decides to work his way in from the outside booths. There’s a bicycling club that he puts his name and email down for, and an event-planning one that he steals candy from, nodding along as they talk him into putting their first meeting onto his calendar.
He’s walking past the pre-med section when someone taps him on the shoulder.
“Hey!” A boy says when he turns around, offering him a flyer. “Are you interested in joining the beekeeping society?”
He’s cute, with his bee happy shirt and dip-dyed hair shining under the bright summer sun. Jaemin takes one look at his booth — bubbly letters, sunflower cutouts, shimmering gold glitter — and shrugs, taking the flyer. “Sure, why not?”
“Oh,” the boy says, pausing and blinking in surprise. “Seriously?”
“I mean, yeah?” Jaemin says, tilting his head curiously. “Sounds cool. Where should I put my email down?”
“Oh my god — yes — email,” the boy says, whirling around. “Okay, I didn’t bring my computer because I didn’t actually think we were going to get anyone today? But if you’re down I can give you my number and let you know when the next meeting is?”
“Okay, yeah, I’m down,” Jaemin says, laughing. He pulls his phone out. “What’s your number?”
The boy — Donghyuck, Jaemin finds out, as he gives Donghyuck his own name — rattles off his number, and Jaemin texts him afterwards.
“There,” he says. “Now we have each other’s numbers.”
“Awesome,” Donghyuck says, looking up after checking his messages. “I’ll text the details to you later today! Sorry about that, by the way. Are you new here?”
“Yeah,” Jaemin says, looking up. “Not a freshman though. I just transferred.”
“Oh, no way,” Donghyuck says. “Sophomore?” When Jaemin nods, he lights up, smile widening. “Me too! What major?”
“Visual arts, photography,” Jaemin says, smiling back. “You?”
“Music,” Donghyuck says cheerily. “But I’m taking an intro photography class this semester! I’ll have to hit you up for help once we start.”
Jaemin laughs. “Yeah, for sure,” he says, looking down to check the time. “Text me whenever.”
When he looks back up, Donghyuck’s staring at his lock screen, frozen.
“Wait,” Donghyuck says, and before Jaemin can respond — “you’re a fan too?”
Jaemin blinks. “Sorry?”
“You know,” Donghyuck blushes, pointing at his phone. “That’s. Lee Jeno.”
“Oh,” Jaemin says. “Yeah, it...is?” He hesitates. “You know him?”
Donghyuck laughs nervously. “Uh, is the sky blue?” At Jaemin’s blank stare, he continues hurriedly. “Sorry. I mean, everyone knows him here. He’s like, the star of the campus. You’ll definitely hear about him if you haven’t already.”
“Wait,” Jaemin says, still trying to process his words. “Jeno? Like, this Jeno?”
He clicks his phone back on, angling it towards Donghyuck. Jeno smiles back at them from his phone, soft and pretty, hair unstyled. It’s one of Jaemin’s favorite photos — he’s always been weak for Jeno with glasses on.
“This Jeno,” he repeats, voice climbing a little higher. “My boyfriend? Lee Jeno?”
“Oh my god, you really are a fan,” Donghyuck says, eyes wide.
Jaemin reels. “I — what?”
Donghyuck steps closer. “That’s okay, me too. Jeno is such boyfriend material, isn’t he?” He leans in closer. “I’ve never seen that picture of him before. It’s so cute! Where’d you get it from?”
Jaemin stares in shock. It’s a lot to take in — Donghyuck’s excitement — and he swallows dryly, resisting the urge to just lock his phone. “It’s from high school,” he says slowly, looking at his phone. “I took it.”
Donghyuck winks. “Okay, I get it,” he says teasingly. “Keep your secrets. Just make sure none of the other fanclub members catch you with an unreleased photo.”
Donghyuck doesn’t believe him, Jaemin realizes with a start, and his lips twitch slightly, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.
Then his words sink in.
“Wait,” Jaemin says. “Did you say fanclub?”
“Yep!” Donghyuck says. “I’m in it, actually.” He lowers his voice, whispering conspiratorially. “There actually aren’t too many guys in it, since he’s straight, but a boy can dream, right? You know how it is.”
Jaemin’s eyebrows fly up. “Did you just say he’s straight?” He laughs disbelievingly. “He — oh my god. He’s literally not though?”
“Straight and taken,” Donghyuck says, nodding sagely. “I didn’t believe it at first either, but then his girlfriend came to visit him last year.”
Jaemin’s stomach twists funnily. “Girlfriend,” he repeats.
“Yeah,” Donghyuck shrugs. “Visited for around two days around spring break, I think? He was all over her. You can’t blame him, I guess. She was super pretty too.”
Jaemin’s heart stutters. Suddenly, he remembers a conversation that they’d had right before spring break, where Jeno had insisted that he didn’t need to come. He hadn’t found it weird at the time, but...
Shaking his head, he breathes out slowly. Jeno wouldn’t. There had to be some sort of logical explanation.
Jaemin startles at Donghyuck’s hand on his shoulder.
“It’ll be okay!” Donghyuck says, patting him comfortingly. “I felt the same way when I found out. The whole club mourned.”
“Right,” Jaemin says, smiling weakly. “Club. I forgot.”
Donghyuck brightens. “Are you interested? I can take you there right now!”
“Um,” Jaemin says, and Donghyuck laughs.
“Come on, let’s go!” He says, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “It’ll be the perfect distraction. I think you’ll like it a lot!”
to: jen~ 💘
can we talk later
“So,” Jaemin pants, Donghyuck tugging him forward insistently, “how big is this club, anyway?”
“Only one of the biggest clubs on campus,” Donghyuck says, taking a right. He strides forward determinedly, ducking as they pass under an awning set up by another club. “It was established last year. They do charity events every once in a while and sometimes he shows up to say hi.”
Donghyuck pouts. “Every year we try to get him to let us auction him off for a friends-date or something, but he always says no. It’s such a shame.”
Huh, Jaemin thinks, and tries to ignore how that makes him feel marginally better.
Just then, Donghyuck’s steps slow, and he tugs at Jaemin. “We’re here.”
“Holy fuck,” Jaemin breathes, jaw dropping open. Jeno’s face is everywhere — hand drawn hearts framing his magazine spreads and Instagram photos. There’s a blown-up, life-size standee of Jeno and his sister, but instead of her face, there’s a blank cutout and the words “this could be you!” written above it in pink sharpie. Jaemin realizes a half-second later, to his horror, that the crowd of girls surrounding the booth are all in line for a photo opportunity with the standee.
“Oh my god. This is a cult.”
A girl pops up behind them. “Definitely not a cult!” She reassures them cheerily, and Jaemin jumps, startled. Donghyuck snorts, and she smacks him on the shoulder. “Shut up, Hyuck.”
She turns her megawatt smile back to Jaemin. “Are you new here?”
“Yeah,” Jaemin says, eyeing her shirt suspiciously. We love Jeno, the shirt says, with a photo of Jeno pouting. It’s disorienting, honestly, to see so many photos of his boyfriend, and he blinks twice, shaking his head. “I’m Na Jaemin.”
“Awesome,” she says, holding her hand out. They shake hands. “I’m Kim Yerim, but you can just call me Yeri! I’m one of the leaders of the Lee Jeno fanclub. Are you interested?”
“Yeri’s one of the good ones,” Donghyuck mutters helpfully to his side, and she shoots him a death glare. “What? I’m literally bringing you a Jeno fan — look at how cute he is, by the way, everyone’s gonna eat him up — and this is how you repay me? Disappointed but not surprised.”
“You’re a fan?” Yeri says excitedly, eyeing Jaemin up and down. “Wow. I can kinda see it.”
“He literally told me Jeno was his boyfriend,” Donghyuck says, raising an eyebrow. “What do you think?”
“No, wait —” Jaemin protests. “Like, I know that’s what people say and all, but he’s actually my boyfriend. We’ve been dating for almost three...”
He trails off at Yeri’s expression of pity, sighing in annoyance. “I’m serious,” he complains, but it sounds weak even to his own ears.
“Yeah, you and everyone else here,” Donghyuck says, waving towards the crowd. “It’s okay to joke around and all, but you don’t have to be like that around us. We get you.”
“I’m not like — god, I’m not some delusional fan or something,” Jaemin says, frustrated. “No offense. Like, yes, Jeno’s great, and I love him, but I swear we’re actually together.”
“Okay, sure,” Yeri says comfortingly, patting him on the shoulder. “There’s enough Jeno to go around for everyone. It’s fine to imagine as long as we remember he’s not actually single in real life.”
“I’m not imagining anything because it’s literally me,” Jaemin insists, but he looks again at the Jeno standee and gives up, sighing. “Never mind.”
He catches the concerned glance Donghyuck gives Yeri, and groans. “Seriously, just forget it.”
Yeri looks between them dubiously, before giving them a half-smile.
“I’m gonna go hand out some more flyers,” she says hesitantly. “But we can go ahead and add you to the group chat if you still want to join! Text me whenever — Hyuck has my number.”
She steps back and waves, before disappearing in the crowd of girls wearing identical We love Jeno shirts. There’s an awkward silence, before Donghyuck clears his throat.
“It’s almost six,” Donghyuck says sheepishly, waving his phone. “Want to help me pack up the beekeeping booth and go get dinner together?”
Jaemin grunts, hoisting the table up the last few steps of the stairs.
“Finally,” he says, setting the table down with a thud and collapsing onto the bench outside of student services. “My back is killing me.”
“Sorry!” Donghyuck calls from the bottom of the stairs, shoving the chairs into the storage closet. “Give me a second.”
There’s a crash, and then a door slams, before Donghyuck is bounding back upstairs. Jaemin looks at him suspiciously. “That did not sound good.”
“Everything’s fine,” Donghyuck says, smile only a little forced. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
“Before someone comes and realizes you broke the chairs, maybe,” Jaemin laughs, but he lets Donghyuck pull himself up. “You’re definitely paying for dinner.”
“Uh, me,” Jaemin says, raising an eyebrow. “And the table I just helped you put back?”
“Plus,” he adds, pouting, “you’re older.”
“By like two months,” Donghyuck grumbles, but he acquiesces, rolling his eyes. “Fine.”
“Amazing,” Jaemin says, pushing the door open. “Lead the way!”
Donghyuck takes him to a cute, hole-in-the-wall restaurant tucked away behind a small cluster of university buildings. It’s cozy, with its handwritten menus and slightly worn-out booths, in a way that instantly tells Jaemin the food’s going to be good.
They slide into a booth near the door and Donghyuck orders for both of them — “trust me, you’ll love it, I come here all the time with my friends” — before turning to Jaemin mischievously.
“So,” he says, wiggling his eyebrows. “Tell me what it’s like dating the great Lee Jeno.”
“I know you don’t believe me,” Jaemin says, rolling his eyes. He puts his phone down. “What do you want to hear? My boyfriend’s great. No complaints.”
“How’d you meet?” Donghyuck teases. “Childhood friends to lovers?”
Might as well go with it, Jaemin thinks. “Actually, yeah. First loves, high-school sweethearts, the whole nine yards.” He shrugs. “You know how it is.”
“Right,” Donghyuck says, playing along. “And now you’ve transferred for him too, I guess.”
“Believe it or not, I actually transferred because of the arts department here,” Jaemin says, raising an eyebrow. “I can’t say he didn’t play a role though.”
“Well, I’m happy for you,” Donghyuck says, laughing. “Next time I see him on campus I’ll be sure to ask about you.”
“Sure,” Jaemin says, snorting at the expression on Donghyuck’s face. “Give him my love.”
Donghyuck looks up, raising his hand. “That’s us!”
A waiter comes their way, balancing a tray. He smiles at them after unloading their food. “Enjoy!”
Donghyuck pushes the plates in Jaemin’s direction.
“Try some,” he says, and Jaemin obliges, picking up his chopsticks.
“Wow,” Jaemin says, chewing and swallowing. “This is good.”
Donghyuck beams, pleased. “Told you so.”
Jaemin hums, taking some more.
“God, I’m starving,” he mumbles around a mouthful of food. “I haven’t eaten since lunch on the plane.”
“You moved in today?”
“Yeah.” Jaemin nods. “And our apartment’s basically empty, since Jeno can’t cook to save his life. I think we might have some ramen stashed away somewhere, but that’s probably it.”
“Really,” Donghyuck says, whistling. “The great Lee Jeno can’t cook? Wait until the group chat hears about this.”
“Breaking news,” Donghyuck says out loud, thumbs flying across his phone as he types. “I have it from an unverified source that Lee Jeno can’t cook. Thoughts?”
He hits the send button with a flourish, and seconds later, his phone buzzes.
“Yeri says that’s hot,” Donghyuck reads, laughing. “We love a man who’s a disaster in the kitchen.”
“Okay, look, he’s not that bad,” Jaemin says weakly. “He’s really good at...washing the dishes.”
“The dishes,” Donghyuck says dryly, raising his eyebrows at Jaemin. “Really?”
“It’s true,” Jaemin protests, but he gives up, going in for another helping of food. It really is good, he thinks, and he makes a mental note to come back sometime.
“Someone said he posted a picture of dinner with chef emoji last year,” Donghyuck says contemplatively. “And then they said, ‘so that’s definitely not true, don’t know who your source was.’ Kind of rude, but okay?”
Donghyuck huffs, and Jaemin looks up.
“Yeah, they’re really going off,” Donghyuck says. “Jeez. Listen to this. ‘You’re crazy if you think you can do something about it…everyone knows he likes girls better anyway?’
Jaemin wrinkles his nose. “First of all, gross,” he says. “As if they have a real chance. Second of all, how did they even get there?”
“Right?” Donghyuck asks, rolling his eyes. “Like I said, some of these girls are capital-C crazy. Okay, Yeeun just muted them. She’s the best, I swear.”
Jaemin’s phone dings, and he wipes his hands on a napkin, taking his phone out.
from: jen~ 💘
i just finished is everything ok
“Ooh,” Donghyuck says, seeing his expression. “Trouble in paradise?”
“Not exactly,” Jaemin says, locking his screen and frowning. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Wait, actually?” Donghyuck asks, surprised. “I really thought you were joking about having a boyfriend.”
Jaemin levels a deadpan stare at him.
“Okay, okay, I believe you,” Donghyuck says hurriedly, holding his hands up. “My bad. Introduce him to me next time.”
“If you promise not to freak out,” Jaemin says wryly, taking another bite of his food.
His phone buzzes again. He ignores it.
“Please,” Donghyuck says, waving his chopsticks in the air. “You could put Lee Jeno in front of me and I wouldn’t even blink. I can definitely handle meeting your boyfriend, whoever he is.”
Jaemin snorts in lieu of a response, mouth full of food. He swallows.
“I’ll believe you when you can — what was his name again? Oh right, Renjun. When you can talk to Renjun without blushing.”
“I told you that in confidence,” Donghyuck hisses, looking around the restaurant frantically and relaxing once he finds that it’s mostly empty. “And that’s different, okay? It’s not like I haven’t tried.”
Jaemin’s phone rings. He looks down, biting his lip when he sees that Jeno’s calling.
“I should take this,” he says hesitantly, and Donghyuck nods.
Jaemin swipes across the phone, bringing it up to his ear. “Hey.”
Jeno huffs, the sound crackling over the line. “Finally. What’s wrong?”
Jaemin hesitates, eyeing Donghyuck. “Nothing.”
“Nana,” Jeno says, tone reproachful. “I saw your texts. Come on, talk to me. Did something happen?”
Fine, Jaemin thinks, frowning.
“...did you know that there’s a Lee Jeno fanclub?”
Donghyuck perks up, and Jaemin rolls his eyes.
Don’t even start, he mouths.
“Oh,” Jeno says, after a pause. His tone gentles. “I think I get it now. Did you run into them at the activities fair?”
“Maybe,” Jaemin says sulkily. “Tell me why they’re all so convinced this Lee Jeno has a girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend?” Jeno repeats incredulously, and Jaemin’s mouth curves up against his own will. “What the — no? Who?”
“I don’t know,” Jaemin mumbles, playing with his napkin. “This girl that was here last spring break or something.”
“Oh my god,” Jeno says, horrified. “My sister. I was looking for an apartment to surprise you with, remember? I told you not to come? She was helping me look at places.”
Understanding dawns on Jaemin, and he sags in relief, sighing shakily into the phone. “You did tell me,” he groans, squeezing his eyes shut. “I totally forgot. Sorry for overreacting.”
Jeno laughs. “I should’ve warned you about the fanclub too. Some of them are sweet, but — you know. I’m sure you saw some of it for yourself today.”
“Stop, this is literally so embarrassing,” Jaemin whines. “I can’t believe I actually got jealous.”
“I love you,” Jeno says suddenly, sounding so fond that Jaemin has to swallow past the sudden lump in his throat. “Only you. You know that, right? I wouldn’t — you know. I can’t wait to get back so I can show everyone that I have the world’s best boyfriend, okay?”
“Sap,” Jaemin says, but he lowers his eyes, smile tugging at his lips. “Love you too. Have you packed?”
“Not yet,” Jeno says. “We’re going back to the hotel now though, so I should be on my way in a few hours.” He pauses. “How was your day? Sounds like you had...an interesting one?”
“It was okay,” Jaemin says, sighing. “Better now that I’m talking to you.”
“Now who’s being sappy,” Jeno teases. “Me too though. I’ve been thinking about you all day.”
“Even when you were supposed to be working?” Jaemin asks, but he smiles, pleased. “That’s not very professional of you.”
“Professional?” Donghyuck repeats, and Jaemin swats at him playfully.
Stop eavesdropping, he mouths, and Donghyuck huffs, scooting back and taking a bite out of his food.
In his ear, Jeno continues. “Especially then,” he groans. “I kept thinking about the last thing you said. I can’t wait to be on this plane.”
“Wait,” Jaemin says, brain spinning. “What was the last thing I said?”
“You said you’d show me how much you like my body after I got back,” Jeno says dryly. “You try keeping it together after your boyfriend implies he’s going to do...things.”
Jaemin’s eyes light up. “Mmm, right,” he says mischievously. “I don’t know what kind of things you were imagining. Maybe I was just planning on holding your hand and kissing your cheek.”
Donghyuck chokes on his food.
“Na Jaemin,” Jeno says, voice low. “If you think I’m letting you out of bed at all after I get back, you are seriously mistaken. I’ll be surprised if you can walk normally the next day.”
Jaemin makes an aborted sound, embarrassed. “I’m in public,” he squeaks, ears turning red. “Don’t say things like that.”
“I don’t like where this conversation is going,” Donghyuck mutters. “I really, really don’t like where this is going.”
“It’s not going anywhere,” Jaemin says, cheeks flushed, “because I’m ending it right now. I love you, text me before you leave, stay safe. Bye!”
Jeno’s laugh filters through the phone, bright and happy.
“Love you too,” he says, smiling. “Will do. See you in less than a day.”
“Oh,” Jeno adds, right before he hangs up. “Jaemin.”
“Did you join the fanclub?”
Jaemin blinks. “Not yet...?”
“Maybe you should, considering what I just posted,” Jeno says, eyes curved into crescents. “That’s all. See you soon!”
Then he hangs up.
“Jaemin,” Donghyuck hisses. “Na Jaemin.”
Jaemin looks up from his phone. “Huh?”
“Jeno just posted for the first time in months,” Donghyuck says, eyes wide and shoving his phone at Jaemin. “Look.”
@leejno 2 minutes ago
p.s. i love my bf vv much ok so pls stop saying i have a girlfriend 😭😭
@leejno 3 minutes ago
can’t wait to go home & see my no. 1 fan!!
“So please stop saying I have a girlfriend,” Donghyuck says with wonder, reading the posts out loud. “Oh my god, he’s dating a boy. He has a boyfriend.”
Jaemin hides his smile, feeling warmth bubble up in his chest. Jeno’s so adorable.
“Still don’t believe I’m dating him?”
“Honestly? Don’t get me wrong — hypothetically, if I did, I would believe you a lot more than I did earlier — but no,” Donghyuck says. “I still support you and your mysterious boyfriend though. That was a cute call.”
Jaemin hums, leaning in to look at Donghyuck’s screen. Messages are flying by, with a lot of crying emojis and screenshots of the posts.
“Okay,” he says, shrugging easily. “He’ll be here tomorrow, by the way. Want to meet us for dinner?”
“Sure,” Donghyuck says. “The activities fair is tomorrow too, but I’m free after that. Where do you wanna meet?”
“I’ll swing by at the end,” Jaemin says. “Text me a little before you’re done?”
Donghyuck nods distractedly. “Sounds good.”
from: jen~ 💘
boarding! i hope ur sleeping
can’t wait to see u 🥺🥺
The next day dawns, and Jaemin wakes up bright and early, feeling restless. He grabs his phone, texting Jeno back — i’ll be waiting 🥰🥰 — before groaning and getting up, making a mental list of things he has to do before Jeno arrives.
Shower. Clean. Groceries. Cook.
Dragging himself into the bathroom, he brushes his teeth, looking at himself carefully in the mirror. He’d dyed his hair back to brown at the end of the summer, a few weeks after Jeno had left for Paris at the beginning in June. That had also been the last time they’d video-called, finally both done with their respective exams and projects.
Jaemin wonders, irrationally, if Jeno would still recognize him.
He spits and rinses. What am I thinking, he thinks amusedly, turning away and wiping his hands on the towel. Of course he will.
Still, the nerves don’t go away, and he cleans the entire apartment twice after getting groceries. He’s eyeing the vacuum again, seriously considering a third go, when his phone rings.
Jaemin pounces on his phone, sliding across the screen without even looking at the caller.
“Hello?” He says breathlessly.
“Wow,” Donghyuck’s voice travels through from the phone, and Jaemin groans. “You sound happy.”
“It’s you,” Jaemin says, rolling his eyes and ignoring Donghyuck’s protests. “What’s up?”
“Not much,” Donghyuck replies. “But I might’ve forgotten that I was supposed to get dinner with Yeri today? Do you mind if she comes with us?”
“Yeri from the Lee Jeno fanclub?” Jaemin asks skeptically.
“Yeah, but she’s actually really nice, I swear,” Donghyuck says, laughing. “And I promise we won’t even talk about how we met in front of your actual boyfriend.”
“He already knows,” Jaemin says, lips twitching upwards. “Yeah, she can come. I don’t mind.”
“Perfect,” Donghyuck says. “Okay, I gotta run, but I’ll see you later!”
“Bye,” Jaemin says amusedly, hanging up.
Yeri too, Jaemin thinks to himself, smiling. Dinner’s getting more and more interesting by the second.
He checks the time again. 11:30 am. Late enough to start making lunch, he thinks, making his way to the kitchen.
Jaemin’s sliding the last dish into the oven to keep warm when his phone rings again.
He turns, sliding his oven mitts off and hip-checking the oven door closed, before hurrying to his phone on the counter. This time, he checks the caller ID before picking up, swiping quickly when he sees the ever-so familiar nickname.
The call takes what feels like forever to connect, and Jaemin drums his fingers on the countertop absentmindedly while his heart does somersaults in his chest.
Jaemin releases the breath he was holding. “Jen. How was your flight? Did you land?”
“Um,” Jeno says. “About that.”
Jaemin frowns. “You did get in safe, right? Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Jeno says brightly. He pauses, and Jaemin hears a faint ding! in the background. “We actually landed half an hour earlier.”
“Half an hour earlier,” Jaemin repeats faintly. He pulls his phone away from his ear, looking at the time. “But that means…”
Jeno hums happily. “Yeah?”
The sound of a key turning in a lock travels to Jaemin twofold, from the living room and through the phone, and his head jerks up.
“No way,” he breathes, watching the doorknob turn.
The call beeps, disconnected.
“Surprise,” Jeno says shyly, peeking through the door.
Jaemin blinks — once, twice — and Jeno is still there, hair flopping adorably over his eyes as the door clicks behind him. He has no business looking so good after an eleven-hour flight, Jaemin thinks, and he opens his mouth when his brain starts working again.
“Get over here,” he says, swallowing roughly, and Jeno shuffles over obediently, throwing his arms around Jaemin.
“You dyed your hair,” he mumbles, squeezing Jaemin’s waist. “It looks good.”
Jaemin squeezes back harder, relaxing into the hug. Jeno is soft and warm and real, a comforting weight around him instead of a voice over the phone, and he closes his eyes, letting himself soak in the familiar embrace.
“I missed you,” he whispers.
“I missed you too.” Jeno pulls back, pouting. “Last year was so weird. I know I already told you a million times, but you have no idea how happy I am that you’re actually here. They’d keep asking me to do these dates? Or something? So I told them I couldn’t because I’m not single, right? I thought they’d stop after that, but I don’t even think anyone really believed me because they just said it could be a friends-date — like, what even is a friends-date? So anyway, this was all until my sister came, and even then I guess they thought she was my girlfriend...”
Jaemin watches him ramble fondly, and when Jeno notices, he blushes, stopping mid-sentence. “What?”
“Nothing,” Jaemin says, smiling softly. “I just…”
He trails off, shaking his head. “I love you,” he says, and Jeno goes soft, eyes warm and tender.
“I love you too,” he says quietly, leaning in and pressing a kiss to the corner of Jaemin’s lips before he pauses, splitting into a wide smile. “Now I can kiss you whenever I want.”
“Whenever you want,” Jaemin repeats, smiling mischievously. “Only kisses though?”
Jeno blinks, taken aback.
“You — want to — right now?” He manages, casting a disbelieving look at the clock. “Didn’t you make lunch? Won’t the food get...cold…”
He shrinks at the look in Jaemin’s eyes.
“I put the food in the oven,” Jaemin says, smile sharpening. “It can wait. You, on the other hand, have a promise to live up to.”
Jeno’s stomach swoops.
“Fuck, okay,” he swears, exhaling sharply. His hands slide down to rest at Jaemin’s hips, and he raises an eyebrow, pulling Jaemin in closer. “You made a promise too, didn’t you?”
Jaemin tilts his head. “Why don’t you take me to bed,” he says, eyes glinting, “and find out just how much I remember?”
“I still can’t believe you have a fanclub.”
Jeno snorts, ducking his head into Jaemin’s neck. “Stop, I know. I can’t wait to introduce you to them.”
“Well,” Jaemin frowns. “I kind of already tried.”
Jeno looks up. Jaemin’s reclining against the pillow, a sour expression on his face, and he bites down a smile, drawing the sheets in as he inches closer. “You did?”
“Yeah,” Jaemin huffs, a puff of air against Jeno’s cheek. “I said we’ve been dating for almost three years and Donghyuck and Yeri basically said aw, that’s cute, just remember he’s not single in real life!”
Jeno chokes on a laugh, and Jaemin glares at him, crossing his arms.
“Poor baby,” Jeno croons, eyes disappearing into his smile. He squishes Jaemin’s cheeks. “Let me guess. They still don’t believe you?”
“No,” Jaemin says, pouting. He pokes Jeno’s chest. “This is all your fault. Now everyone that heard me that day thinks I’m some sort of…”
He scrunches his face together, wrinkling his eyebrows. “Some...fan.”
“My favorite fan though,” Jeno says, giggling. “You said Donghyuck? Is that who we’re having dinner with today?”
“And Yeri, but yeah,” Jaemin huffs. “We met at the beekeeping booth yesterday. He saw my lock screen and assumed I was a fan.”
Jeno lights up, an idea coming into his head. “You said he saw your phone?”
“Yeah,” Jaemin says grumpily. “Why?”
“I have a plan,” Jeno says, grinning widely. “Wanna hear it?”
from: hyuck 🌻
i think we’re gonna call it a day soon lol
meet by student services in 15 min?
“Okay, okay,” Jeno says, bouncing excitedly as they near the familiar brick building with STUDENT SERVICES emblazoned on the front. “Go time.”
They pause before turning the corner.
“I go first,” Jaemin says, repeating the steps of their plan. “Then I say I have to use the bathroom.”
“Yep,” Jeno nods. “And then I’ll go. Wait like, two minutes? Then come back out.”
“Okay,” Jaemin says, letting out a breath. He peeks around the corner, ducking back when he sees Donghyuck standing near the door. “Wish me luck.”
Jeno hums, leaning in and pecking Jaemin sweetly. “Good luck.”
Jaemin bites his lip, tugging Jeno closer and kissing him again. When he pulls back, his lips are shiny and red, and he smiles victoriously.
“Perfect,” he says. “See you soon!”
He waves cutely, wiggling his fingers in Jeno’s direction before turning the corner and disappearing from view.
“Wow,” Yeri says, as Jaemin comes up to the entrance. “You look like you’ve been...busy.”
Jaemin’s lips curl upwards slightly. “My boyfriend just got back today,” he says in place of an explanation, tugging at his collar. “He’s on his way. I left my phone at the apartment, so he went back to go get it.”
“Right, right, your boyfriend,” Donghyuck says, whistling. “Good in bed and willing to jog back to get your stuff? He’s really giving Jeno a run for his money, huh?”
Jaemin rolls his eyes, still smiling faintly. “As if,” he says. “I’m gonna run in and use the bathroom real quick? Be right back.”
“Sure,” Donghyuck says easily, leaning back against the brick wall. “We can go when you’re done.”
Jeno waits a few seconds after hearing the glass doors close behind Jaemin with a thud, and then another half-minute to make sure that Jaemin’s gone from sight from the outside of the building. He pats his pockets, making sure Jaemin’s phone is still in there, before turning the corner and strolling towards the entrance.
Yeri sees him first.
She yelps, shooting up from her position on the benches, and Donghyuck looks over curiously, almost dropping his phone when he sees him.
“Jeno!” Yeri says eagerly. “I didn’t know you were back on campus already!”
“Oh, hi Yeri,” Jeno says, smiling. “I just moved back recently.”
By her side, Donghyuck is frozen, mouth opening and closing uselessly. “Hi,” he stammers eventually. “Jeno.”
“Donghyuck, right?” Jeno beams. “It’s nice to meet you.”
Donghyuck’s eyes widen. “You…know my name?”
Jeno nods, smiling at Donghyuck’s bewildered face. It’s time to put their plan into action, he thinks.
“Oh, wait.” He makes a show of digging Jaemin’s phone out of his pocket, and then clicking it open to look at the time. “Do you guys know someone named Jaemin? That was here, maybe?”
Donghyuck’s eyebrows shoot upwards, eyes darting between the inside of the student services building and the phone in Jeno’s hands. “Jaemin?”
“Yeah,” Jeno says. He laughs nervously. “Like, about this tall? Brown hair? Really...um, really cute?”
“Did you just call him cute?” Donghyuck squeaks.
“Is that his phone?” Yeri asks. She turns to Donghyuck, shaking his arm. “That’s his phone, isn’t it?”
“That’s definitely his phone,” Donghyuck says faintly. “Oh my god. I think I need to sit down.”
The glass doors open, and all three of them turn to look at Jaemin.
Jaemin takes one look at them — Donghyuck and Yeri both frozen in shock, Jeno trying his best not to give anything away — and bursts out laughing.
“Your faces,” he says, words dissolving into laughter. “Oh my god.”
He turns to Jeno, taking his phone and sliding it into his pockets. “Thanks, babe.”
Donghyuck makes a choked noise. “Babe,” he repeats.
“Surprise,” Jaemin says, turning to him and smiling brilliantly. “I forgot to introduce you guys! This is my boyfriend. His name’s Jeno.”
Jeno smiles, waving.
“No fucking way,” Donghyuck says, shaking his head. “You are not telling me that Lee Jeno is your actual boyfriend. This cannot be real.”
“I’m dreaming,” Yeri mumbles. “Pinch me.”
Donghyuck pinches her.
“Ow,” Yeri winces. “Okay, maybe I’m not dreaming.”
“I did try to tell you,” Jaemin says, shrugging. “Multiple times.”
“You — he —” Donghyuck gives up on his sentence, pointing to Jeno instead. “Are you really...?”
“Dating Jaemin?” Jeno smiles, eyes crinkling. “Of course. He’s stuck with me forever, unfortunately.”
Jaemin bites his lip, smiling happily, and Jeno melts at his expression, reaching out to interlace their fingers together.
“Everything I know is a lie,” Donghyuck moans, looking at their joined hands. “I take back everything I said yesterday.”
Jaemin rolls his eyes. “It’s fine,” he says, tugging at Jeno to follow him as he starts making his way down the street. “Come on, let’s go eat dinner.”
“...so can you really not cook?” Yeri asks, pushing more food towards Jeno.
Jeno snorts, coughing and swallowing his water. He turns his wide eyes to Jaemin.
“Nana,” he whines. “What did you even say yesterday?”
“Aww,” Jaemin says, putting his chopsticks down and patting Jeno’s cheek. “You’re so cute when you’re embarrassed.”
Jeno pouts. “I’m not even that bad at cooking.”
“Right, my bad,” Jaemin says, eyes sparkling. “You do just fine with those just-add-water mixes.”
“Oh, come on,” Jeno laughs, leaning back into the booth. He raises a hand to his mouth, hiding his smile. “I’m a lot better than I was in high school!”
“If you say so,” Jaemin says, smiling back at him. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
On the other side of the table, Donghyuck and Yeri watch them bicker in amazement.
“Do you think they’re like this every day?” Donghyuck asks.
Yeri shudders. “Probably. Don’t they live together?”
“Wow,” Donghyuck says, pulling his phone out and snapping a picture. It’s a cute photo, both of them smiling softly at each other, and Donghyuck taps open his account, selecting it from his recents.
honestly idk who im more jealous of, he captions, posting it inside of their school’s group.
It’s the most popular post for months afterwards.