"Why aren't you asleep?" Minhyuk asks.
It seems Changkyun is pretending not to hear him because there's no reply. So he clears his throat and the younger finally answers.
"I could ask you the same thing," comes a gravelly low voice from the other bed.
"I—uh." Yes, what is he doing awake at this hour? "—I'm thinking."
"Don't think. Go to bed."
The youngest shouldn't be giving him instructions. He turns over and stares at the ceiling again.
Frustrated. It's still a colorless void above their heads, where just the outline of a whale plushie suspended from the ceiling can be seen, twirling ever so slowly in the air from the fan across the room. Not even this is a comfort these days.
He used to stare at the ceiling as if it were a vast ocean of possibilities, and the whale could take him anywhere. His team too. All his friends. His head used to be filled with hope for all the places they could go and he would fall asleep with happy thoughts.
Now he sees a stuffed animal. Literally dead and alone, hung out to dry in the middle of nowhere. And tonight he's been wondering bitterly what it would be like to just pull all the stuffing out of it. If it's already dead, then it wouldn't hurt, right?
Changkyun lets out the type of breath that means he might finally speak. Minhyuk knows this because they've been rooming together for years. He knows all the members' ticks and quirks. So he waits again.
"Do you know how long it takes to tweet ten-million tweets?"
"No breaks. Just non-stop, day and night."
"About two years."
Minhyuk has no idea how to answer this. But he knows enough to know where Changkyun's mind is and it shouldn't be there.
"Wouldn't that person die from not breaking to eat or sleep that long?"
"It's a hypothetical."
Changkyun sighs. He wants to shut up at this point. Really, he does. But this has been on his mind all week and he can't fall asleep, so he did the math and he's still stressed.
So he finally says what he really wants to say: "They've already spent two years fighting for him."
And Minhyuk feels an anvil on his chest suddenly, crushing the heart trapped helplessly in his ribcage.
"Two years, Minhyuk."
"Don't say it—"
"—I want to fight. Even if it takes us two years also."
"Well, that's the best case scenario, isn't it?" Minhyuk scoffs.
"So? It's a scenario, isn't it? It's a possibility."
That word hurts... "It's a long shot and we won't even know where we are by that time."
"We spent two years training. Way more than that for you guys. We could do it again. Working towards something."
Minhyuk knows what the younger is saying, but it's hard to think that far ahead when these days he can barely walk past the home-gym without breaking into tears—it feels like time has been running slower. Like flailing uselessly in a tarpit... But at least Changkyun is talking. He's been talking so little since it happened.
So Minhyuk lifts a corner of his blanket and scoots over, waving to Changkyun to come over. The younger hesitates, wondering if it's worth leaving the comfort of his own bed, but then Minhyuk even pats the spot he's made, and Changkyun goes to crawl into it, curling around Minhyuk's body like an octopus and resting his face nearly in his brother's armpit. His favorite spot.
Changkyun's nose squirming into him tickles.
"Don't. I didn't get to shower today." Yeah, he traded it for more sleep; time that he's now spending oh-so usefully.
"Even better," Changkyun mumbles into his skin.
"Moron," Minhyuk teases gently, and settles in this way.
It feels good having Changkyun pressed against him. Flush and true, like it can never leave. But what does he know? He's just been proven wrong.
In revenge for this errant thought, Minhyuk pulls Changkyun closer until the younger male is forced to twine their legs, one knee between Minhyuk's thighs. He needs to hold him tighter. His chest gets tight, as he holds in a breath. Holding back tears too. And of course Changkyun can tell. Doesn't need to see Minhyuk's face to know.
To show he cares, he drops a quick kiss on Minhyuk's bicep and then settles his head back where it was on his chest. It seems to work because Minhyuk exhales deeply. But the next breath gets stuck in his throat again.
Minhyuk is petting his hair a little too nervously. Pulling it away from his forehead and rubbing his ears and neck. Scratching lightly over his scalp.
Minhyuk likes taking care of others because it calms him too. It gives him purpose and an outlet. But when Changkyun knows Minhyuk will burst into tears any moment, he doesn't want to see it. So he goes on autopilot and flips them suddenly. To take care of him instead.
So then Changkyun is under Minhyuk, looking up at his older brother whose bottom lip is still trembling. From shock, from worries, from near whiplash. And his hands reach up to cradle Minhyuk's face, thumbs across his cheeks, and then behind his head, and as he looks into his eyes he lowers him onto his chest instead. Here, Minhyuk nuzzles into Changkyun's neck as the younger holds him firmly across the shoulders and over his head, like shelter.
And then pulls the blanket higher over the both of them too. So it's warm. And perfect aside from the cloud of dread hanging over their lives.
What if they never get him back?
Just live with a missing piece of their hearts?
It's too much. Thoughts like this make Minhyuk squeeze Changkyun tighter as he sniffles into his neck. "I won't cry," Minhyuk whispers. It's doubtful. Minhyuk probably already is by the sound of his voice. When his lips land on Changkyun's skin they're unusually wet. Still shaking.
Changkyun pets up and down his back firmly.
It's not normal that their skinship happens this way. It's more often that Minhyuk is the one trying to soothe away Changkyun's depressive thoughts. He lets him bury his nose and just breathe as they cuddle and it calms the younger down. In those times, they fall asleep together often.
"And if it takes even longer?" Minhyuk breathes over his shoulder. Dare he even say such words that betray a strand of hope. Because even if it hurts to want to crawl out of this hole after being knocked down so hard, beneath the pain, Minhyuk knows he'll do everything he can... it can't just end like this. You don't just lie down and die.
"Then we still fight. Same like this, right now. Not letting you go."
Minhyuk's fingers go digging into whatever flesh of Changkyun's he has his hands on. It makes the younger groan slightly, and Minhyuk chuckles in reply because he likes when he can get a rise out of Changkyun. He repositions hands on his waist and teeth on his neck too this time, and squeezes tight as his teeth nip in only slightly. Changkyun always somehow gives him strength.
Changkyun shudders; his own fingers digging into Minhyuk. "Do it."
It's an odd request but probably not when it's coming from Changkyun. He bites him playfully again, not enough to hurt but enough to dig his teeth in. "—M-more," Changkyun stammers. And while this is odd too, Minhyuk does it anyway. He knows Changkyun has a thing for biting. Minhyuk opens wider and sinks down over his neck like a vampire, as Changkyun shudders beneath him, gripping tight and pulling Minhyuk impossibly closer because he needs an outlet for all the pain inside him.
So the elder shifts to get more leverage, a better angle, and Changkyun actually whimpers this time when Minhyuk bites. Sharp teeth in the flesh of his neck. Changkyun's whole body arches up from the assault, so Minhyuk does it again; knows it hurts but Changkyun is gripping his hair so tightly and pushing his face in tighter into himself. It makes Minhyuk shift again, to grab his whole head and turn it for more access, showing off the length of Changkyun's neck. He admires for a second how available Changkyun is in this moment, and then he licks a wide stripe up his jugular before clamping wide into the side and making the younger mewl and squirm. The more time Minhyuk spends here, the better it feels. A surge like electricity comes over him from having this power over Changkyun—the one beneath him is moaning and swearing and letting Minhyuk cover his neck and shoulder in bruises and teeth marks, as he digs in or pulls at his skin and the muscle beneath. Because it feels good for him too. It feels like letting go of that crippling hurt if he gets to feel it. If that pain turns into—
They're not thinking. Neither of them. Changkyun just knows he wants Minhyuk closer and Minhyuk is running out of available skin to bite, so he travels up, to Changkyun's jaw, mouthing more gently on him here because this won't get covered in a turtleneck.
"What are you restless for, hmm?" Minhyuk is teasing now. Just lightly.
Changkyun's reply is to rut up into Minhyuk's body as Minhyuk's hot breath washes over the damp skin of his neck. Hot and clammy and dark between them, under the blankets like this. It feels like a personal santuary. Minhyuk lets them play like this. So close to danger but not quite tipping over the edge. Just skirting right along the line. Like the teeth that drag over his jaw.
Minhyuk's thigh hikes further up between Changkyun's legs and Changkyun rocks into him, his eyes falling closed from the wave of pleasure.
The line is around here somewhere but he has no idea where. Minhyuk and he play this way too often. Not often, but sometimes. Enough to be familiar with hot breaths and firm hands on his body. And that's more than with anyone else for Changkyun. So to have pressure over his dick feels incredible. And not something he's about to let go of for the sake of propriety. In fact, he drags the hem of Minhyuk's shirt up, and grips him by the hips and rocks into him more obviously to get that healing he needs. His lip between his teeth now and with Minhyuk's breaths reverberating in his ears. There's a fever between them.
"M-yeah." The way he sounds in bliss and the way he's gripping onto Minhyuk, grinding into him, and how maybe they don't have enough clothes to hide what's really going on beneath makes Minhyuk suddenly feel like—damn. Maybe they left the line behind a while ago. He wants to say something, but has no idea what's right. He wants to whisper to Changkyun how beautiful he sounds. How he wants to give him pleasure if it's ok. If it's ok with him then it's ok with Minhyuk, but how do you say something like that? How do you say that it feels right to be more than brothers tonight? Does Changkyun feel this too?
He touches down Changkyun's neck, down his chest and down his torso. To his hip, which he pulls up to say it's ok.
Changkyun mewls so prettily that Minhyuk latches onto his ear, licking and biting along the shell to make the other squirm even more. To make him even more wild. So he'll want Minhyuk even more.
Are these thoughts he should be having?
"Baby—" The word falls out of his mouth and it makes Changkyun exhale like the wind has been punched out of his lungs. And then he goes still. Too still. Hot and scared. Too scared to let go and too scared of himself as well. Because—
He likes this. And he likes being called that word. Minhyuk says it to him sometimes, but... not like this.
It was a mistake that wakes him up. Minhyuk knows it before the word even finished. He wanted to say something else... something so much more. He has no idea what to say. And no idea how to move away either. Not when he's breathing in the scent of Changkyun's hair, touching such soft skin, and feels so comforted to be this close.
He breathes deep, past the guilty weight on his chest; but it's Changkyun who speaks first and answers his dilemma.
Minhyuk gulps. He wants to raise his head and at least look into Changkyun's eyes. But it might break this moment if he made even that small movement.
"I won't ever leave you, you know?" Changkyun says softly.
Where is that kind of confidence coming from? It floods Minhyuk's heart with love for this boy and he finds tears in his eyes before he can think further. A dam breaks, but it makes him brave enough to rise off the younger's chest and finally see his face.
Changkyun is just staring up at the ceiling, so Minhyuk tilts him down by the chin, says, "Hey," to make Changkyun look at him. "I'm not leaving you either." His heart feels like it's beating his lungs to a pulp, but no matter the consequences, he just needed to say that.
Being this close to Changkyun, whether it's right or wrong, makes him feel invincible suddenly. He sees forever in his eyes.
"Then will you fight?" Changkyun replies.
The answer is automatic. "Promise," he says, and seals it with a smushed kiss to Changkyun's lips which he felt in his soul—before Changkyun grabs him swiftly by the jaw to remove him. He looks into Minhyuk's bewildered eyes with an accusing glare. Maybe he didn't think Minhyuk would push this far.
"Fuck—your hot little body is messing with my brain!" Minhyuk complains, laughing away the awkwardness he feels.
"I can feel you." Changkyun deadpans. He's talking about Minhyuk's hard dick.
Changkyun stares for a moment with that gray-wolf look in his eyes, almost cold, and Minhyuk isn't sure what he's ruminating, but it makes him self-conscious and too aware. Then slowly Changkyun brings Minhyuk's face back down and meets him in a heart-fluttering kiss. It's soft and meaningful, almost to the point that it scares Minhyuk and he pulls away with a chuckle to cover up the butterflies he feels.
"Ugh. Don't do it on purpose now." The blur of their heartbreak has passed and reality is back. If they kiss now he can't blame it on runaway hurt that clouded his judgment.
Changkyun ignores this protest. He lets Minhyuk's hips fall between his thighs so they can feel each other's arousal and takes Minhyuk's waist intentionally to keep him here. When he gets like this—this mood of Changkyun's, Minhyuk recognizes it now—it's not frozen cold, it's steeled into an unshakable confidence against the world. He could move mountains right now, probably. That's how it feels to be resting against each other, so plainly inappropriate to seek each other's bodies for this kind of heat, yet it's the look in Changkyun's eyes that takes Minhyuk's breath away. Changkyun isn't hiding what he feels, but it's also not about sex. This is for comfort, to open a sanctuary where not only their bodies but lives are stuck together. Promised to each other.
He takes Minhyuk's cheek and brings him closer. Until the galaxies in his eyes turn into the softness of being cradled in the crook of his neck, with a hand on the back of his head to keep Minhyuk safe.
"Hold me," he says, and Minhyuk might laugh at the twisted way Changkyun always chooses words. He means to say, never let go.
Changkyun doesn't say these kinds of things out loud, not any farther than a millimeter away from Minhyuk's skin, but he's always been like this, hasn't he? Tough in public but heartbreakingly sincere in private, where only their team gets to glimpse under the surface where he's soft. Here, he lets Minhyuk curl up in his heart, with an ultimate trust that their bond is theirs, and special doesn't need rules.
He gives Changkyun's neck a soft kiss to show his gratitude. And to his surprise, Changkyun shoves his head in closer, so Minhyuk's mouth and nose smush into his skin and makes him chuckle—that's one way to ask to be kissed. So Minhyuk gives him a deeper sucking kiss that Changkyun moans from. So unashamed that Minhyuk rises to look in his eyes.
And that's when he knows—it doesn't have to make sense, he just needs to kiss Changkyun. When he plunges into the younger's mouth, he's not thinking again—or thinking too clearly. It's just that—need—he feels. An Earth-shaking need to make the same promise and no other way to show it than to let it burst like fireworks between them. Minhyuk isn't restless but resolute, to be joined, this way, any way where the space between them can disappear.
Changkyun holds him, and wants him too, so Minhyuk feels connected to every inch of his body, even the parts he can't reach. He feels Changkyun's breath and heartbeat and dives deeper into his mouth, kissing him fiercely. Again and again.
And again until it feels like the younger is vibrating. He licks at Minhyuk's tongue and it's still not enough. So Minhyuk captures his whole mouth again, thumb pressed into his cheek to open him up and drown here. So when they part from a kiss like this, they're panting together, like resurfacing from beneath water to draw first breath—they need to get some things clear.
"—It's only been a few days—"
"—Kihyun literally talked to him a few hours ago. He hasn't gone anywhere."
They're talking over each other, but they know they're on the same page now, with the same plan for their future.
"If they don't stop—hell, even if they do stop one day—we don't stop."
It's only been a week since Hoseok left. They have all the time in the world to bring him back.
Minhyuk kisses him again because he agrees. They have time. Two years is nothing when eternity belongs to them. Changkyun holds the back of his head, carding fingers through his hair so lovingly, and in the dim light of the moon he can see a mischievous smile curl up the corners of Changkyun's lips. They peck again, just to wrap this security blanket around them a little tighter. A calm warmth has settled into Minhyuk's heart.
He laughs when Changkyun gripes a few minutes later. "I'm not going back to my bed. Too far." Of course. He's too lazy and relaxed, and Minhyuk is too content to keep holding him.
"Too far. I agree," the elder nods.
They fall asleep with Changkyun looking up at Minhyuk's whale—twirling up there in the flow of time. And it's ok.
It's ok because he trusts in his members. Monsta X always starts and ends with seven of them.