“Don’t worry, he works nights, you’ll barely even see him, Jae. It’ll be like you have the whole place to yourself, but you’ll still only pay half the rent!”
It had been a month since Johnny had said that, when he’d found someone to sublet his room in the apartment they’d shared since Jaehyun had graduated college two years before. Jaehyun knew it was only for two months over the summer while Johnny was abroad for work, but he’d been unenthusiastic about sharing the place with a stranger. Not that he could afford to cover the rent himself. And Johnny had been right. He’d been living with the subletter, Taeyong, for two weeks now, and he could count on one hand the number of times he’d actually seen him. It really did feel like he had the place to himself. The arrangement should have been perfect.
The only problem was, the subletter was gorgeous. Ridiculously, unrealistically gorgeous, like he’d been born to meet the specifications of every fantasy Jaehyun had ever had. He felt like he hadn’t relaxed once since the guy had moved in. They almost never crossed paths, but just the knowledge that they could at any moment was enough to keep him on edge. He wasn’t sure if he wanted the summer to end so he could finally breathe again in his own home, or if he just wanted to see more of Taeyong. He had to admit it was probably the latter, but he was nothing if not considerate, so if he had to endure a summer tiptoeing through his own apartment so as not to wake the beautiful stranger sleeping down the hall, so be it.
Jaehyun yawned widely and tried to focus his eyes so he wouldn’t spill the coffee he was pouring. It was way too early for him to be awake, the sky barely lightening beyond the windows, but he had an early call with a client on the other side of the world so here he was, forcing himself to function and resenting it tremendously.
The sound of keys at the front door made Jaehyun turn around, just in time to see Taeyong come in. Jaehyun would have liked to pretend that the reason he couldn’t think of anything to say was because he was still half-asleep, but he knew that had nothing to do with it. Taeyong was dressed all in black, with ripped jeans that fit his slim legs perfectly, and a black button down that was half-untucked and seemed to float over his frame, showing one sharp collarbone. His dark hair was mussed, like he’d been sweating earlier but it had dried, and he had eyeliner and glitter smudged around his eyes. He was exquisite.
“Oh, you’re up?” Taeyong said, surprised.
“Early call,” Jaehyun managed. It occurred to him that this might be totally meaningless to Taeyong, but he was too tired to explain. Taeyong dropped his bag on a chair and went to get himself a glass of water, apparently oblivious to the way Jaehyun’s eyes tracked his every move. Jaehyun forced himself to take a sip of coffee. “Are you just getting home from… work?”
“Yeah,” Taeyong sat down at the table and smiled. Jaehyun thought he’d have wanted to sleep but he seemed perfectly awake. “I bartend at a gay club, Starlight,” he said, looking at Jaehyun like he was guaging his reaction. “The hours are rough but the money is good. People tip a lot.”
“Yeah, I’m sure for you they do,” Jaehyun said without really thinking, leaning back against the counter and taking another sip of coffee.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Jaehyun held Taeyong’s gaze for a moment, noticing the smirk that ticked up one side of his perfect lips. “I think you know,” he said, sounding more calm than he felt. Taeyong laughed brightly, pleased, and Jaehyun smiled, feeling like he’d passed some sort of test to see if he could have a coherent conversation with someone so pretty.
He glanced away and caught sight of the clock, and jumped, hurriedly putting his mug in the sink, grabbing his bag from the table, and rushing to the door. He glanced back at Taeyong as he put on his shoes. Taeyong was watching him, still smiling. “Have a good day at work, darling.” His voice lilted teasingly.
Jaehyun felt his ears heat up in spite of himself. “Thanks, uh, sleep well.” He yanked open the door and hurried down the hall, hoping he wouldn’t be late.
Taeyong’s voice followed him before the door closed. “I always do!”
Jaehyun didn’t see Taeyong again until the weekend, and when he did he almost dropped his phone at the shock of seeing him enter the living room during actual daylight hours. “Hi,” he managed, when he recovered. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you up at this hour.”
“I had last night off, so actually got to sleep before sunrise.” He looked so different from the last time Jaehyun had seen him that he almost couldn’t believe it was the same person. His hair was sticking up in a million different directions and he was still frowning sleepily. He had on shorts and a huge t-shirt, and Jaehyun tried to keep his gaze from trailing over Taeyong’s thighs as he continued speaking. “Where are you going?”
It took a moment for Jaehyun to remember that his hands were currently occupied by his wallet, phone, and keys, and that he had indeed been planning to go somewhere. “Oh, right, uh, grocery shopping. You want anything?”
“Oh!” Taeyong’s eyes widened and he shook himself more awake. “Can I come? I need a bunch of things. I’ll be like, 5 minutes.”
“Sure,” Jaehyun said. Taeyong was already hurrying away to his room, and when he came out a couple minutes later he was dressed, sporting a pair of wire-framed glasses, with his hair slightly more under control.
“I didn’t know you wore glasses,” Jaehyun said as they left the apartment.
“Well, I never do wear them. Not exactly a good look for a trendy bartender.”
They stepped into the elevator and Jaehyun looked over at him. “I think you look really good,” he said seriously.
Taeyong glanced up, and Jaehyun saw something like surprise flicker over his face before he settled his features into an easy smile. “Thanks.”
Jaehyun looked forwards and stared at their reflections in the elevator doors, feeling his ears grow warm again, which always seemed to happen when Taeyong was around. Maybe it was a good thing they didn’t cross paths often. He wasn’t sure he’d even be able to remember all the groceries he needed with Taeyong walking beside him. Losing it over his current roommate didn’t seem like a great idea. But he thought it might be too late to stop that from happening.
Jaehyun didn’t see Taeyong even once in the week that followed, and he couldn’t ignore how disappointed he was. He tried to tell himself it was for the best, that he shouldn’t be thirsting after the guy he was living with anyway, that having some distance was probably safest. But if he was honest, not seeing Taeyong didn’t make much difference to how much he thought about him anyway.
So when Saturday came around, Jaehyun found himself at his friend Jungwoo’s apartment, asking, “Have you ever been to a gay club?”
Jungwoo gave a surprised laugh. “Yeah, of course. Are you asking me as your token gay friend?”
“I have multiple gay friends, Woo, and I’m not even straight.”
“Fine, then are you asking me as your token friend who’s actually fun and has a life?”
“Yes, I am absolutely asking you because of that. So have you heard of Starlight?”
Jungwoo whistled. “Of course. I’ve never been, it’s super hard to get into.”
“You know the guy subletting Johnny’s room? He works there.”
“Oh my god, is he beautiful? I feel like that place only hires models and shit.”
“I mean, I don’t know if he’s a model, he’s not very tall, but yeah… he’s beautiful.”
Jungwoo actually squealed. “How am I only hearing about this now? Can he get us in?”
“I guess I can ask him.”
“You guess? This is not an opportunity we can miss, Jae.”
Jaehyun pulled out his phone and texted Taeyong, typing and retyping multiple times before Jungwoo exclaimed, “Just send it!” and Jaehyun sent, No pressure if this would be weird, but my friend and I were gonna go out tonight, and were wondering if we could get into Starlight?
He had just put his phone down when it buzzed and Taeyong’s reply popped up on the screen: omg ofc you can come, I’ll tell the bouncer, he’s rly chill just give him my name.
Jaehyun felt a flutter of nerves in his stomach but he was thankfully distracted by Jungwoo immediately launching them both into preparing to go out, even though they had hours to spare.
When Jaehyun and Jungwoo finally arrived at the club there was already a line stretching along the length of the building. Jaehyun felt self-conscious walking past everyone, but Jungwoo seemed thrilled and practically bounced the whole way. As promised, all they had to do was mention Taeyong’s name to get a warm smile from the bouncer, and then the door was opening and they were inside. It was dark and warm and the music was so loud Jaehyun could feel it in his chest. They made their way towards the bar, passing the packed bodies that moved together on the sunken dance floor a few steps below them.
They squeezed in against the bar and Jaehyun finally caught sight of Taeyong at the opposite end, mixing a drink and smiling at whoever he was serving it to. Probably on his way to another big tip, Jaehyun thought, his stomach fluttering again. Taeyong was dressed all in black again, as were the other two bartenders. His skin seemed to sparkle under the lights and Jaehyun couldn’t tell if it was glitter or sweat.
“Oh, he is beautiful.” Jungwoo’s voice broke Jaehyun out of his thoughts, his eyes following Jaehyun’s gaze.
“Yeah, I know,” Jaehyun mumbled, and felt Jungwoo glance at him.
Taeyong looked up at that moment and smiled widely as he edged towards them. “You made it!”
“Yeah,” Jaehyun felt himself smiling too. “This is my friend Jungwoo.”
They said hi, and then Taeyong leaned towards Jaehyun and said, half yelling over the noise, “I’m really glad you came. What do you want? It’s on me.”
“Oh, no, it’s fine…” Jaehyun said, trying to remember how to speak with Taeyong’s face only inches from his own. He thought he could feel the heat coming off his skin. Taeyong turned away and started preparing more drinks, and Jaehyun realized that Jungwoo had stepped in to order for them both.
“He likes you,” Jungwoo sang gleefully, sticking his elbow into Jaehyun’s side.
“Ow, no he doesn’t, we barely know each other. Calm down.”
Jungwoo laughed. “Fine, but still, he’d fuck you for sure.”
Jaehyun was glad he didn’t have a drink yet because he definitely would’ve choked on it. At that moment, Taeyong returned and slid two glasses of something colorful towards them. He eyed Jaehyun with concern. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Jaehyun managed. He didn’t risk a sip of his drink until Taeyong had given them both big smiles and rushed to attend to the many other people clamoring to order. When he glanced at Jungwoo he could tell he was trying not to laugh.
They didn’t see much of Taeyong for a while after that. He and Jungwoo drifted between the dance floor and the bar. Every time they got more drinks Jaehyun tried to catch Taeyong’s eye, but he was always busy and Jaehyun felt bad calling out to him. Jaehyun supposed he should have realized that Taeyong wouldn’t be able to socialize much while he worked, especially as the place got increasingly packed as the night went on. Even so, he was having a good time. The music was good and it was so loud it was hard to dwell on anything anyway. Jaehyun hadn’t been out like this in a while and he’d forgotten how intoxicating it all could be.
He extracted himself from the dance floor to cool off and found a place to sit on the bench that ran along the whole perimeter. He was joined a moment later by Jungwoo who, last Jaehyun had seen, had been dancing with a very tall guy who was now nowhere to be found. This didn’t seem to bother Jungwoo, who was grinning as he flopped down onto the bench.
“Honestly,” Jungwoo yelled over the noise, “I wasn’t expecting this place to live up to the hype but damn, it really has. Thank your roommate when you get a chance, seriously.” Jaehyun was nodding until Jungwoo continued, raising his eyebrows, “And I mean thank him.” Jaehyun rolled his eyes but smiled in spite of himself when Jungwoo laughed.
Suddenly a body pressed against Jaehyun’s other side, squeezing into what little space there was left on the bench. He turned, and saw Taeyong, sparkling as usual. “I’m on break for 20 minutes,” he said, before Jaehyun managed to speak.
Jaehyun tried to ignore the way Jungwoo had started elbowing him again. “Thanks again for getting us in, it’s been fun,” he yelled, and then wasn’t sure what else to say. It was too loud to really have a conversation but he still wished he could have thought of something.
He had just taken a sip of his drink when Taeyong leaned very close and said, “Wanna dance?”
Jaehyun managed to swallow and nod and then Taeyong was getting up and heading towards the dance floor. Jaehyun glanced back at Jungwoo, who looked thrilled and reached out to take Jaehyun’s drink before shooing him away.
Taeyong didn’t stop pushing through the bodies until they were almost in the middle of the floor, and then he turned and Jaehyun almost stopped breathing. Taeyong was unreal. The lights didn’t reach them so easily here, but every time they flickered over his face Jaehyun noticed something new, a bead of sweat sliding in front of his ear, the scar near his eye, the fullness of his lower lip. The music made Jaehyun’s teethe ache but it was impossible not to move to, and he started swaying, unthinking, his eyes glued to Taeyong because he had no interest in looking anywhere else.
He wasn’t sure if he moved closer or if Taeyong did, or if it was just the inevitable result of all the bodies pressing against them, but suddenly there wasn’t so much space between them, and then he was reaching out, and his hands were sliding over the slight curves of Taeyong’s waist and pulling him closer still. Taeyong was smiling, but there was something heavy in his gaze that Jaehyun could almost feel, like a touch.
Taeyong laid his hands over Jaehyun’s and turned around, and Jaehyun was distracted from his disappointment at no longer seeing his face by the way Taeyong’s body felt under his hands as he turned, and then by the feeling of Taeyong’s ass pressing back against him. He tried to swallow but his throat felt tight. He vaguely hoped that whatever this was wouldn’t make living together for the rest of the summer awkward, but he couldn’t make himself care very much. He just wanted.
He matched his movements to the sway of Taeyong’s body, dug his fingers into his narrow hips, felt the heat build under his skin. He knew if this went on much longer Taeyong would notice just how badly he wanted him but he wasn’t sure he cared. The music pumped through him, steadying his erratic heartbeat, drowning out his thoughts. He slid one hand to Taeyong’s stomach, feeling the smooth muscles flex under his shirt as he reached back and curled his fingers around Jaehyun’s nape. Their faces were right next to each other; Jaehyun’s jaw bumped lightly against Taeyong’s temple and came away sweaty. He had danced with plenty of people, but never so close, never so oblivious to his surroundings. He wanted to feel Taeyong’s bare skin against his so badly it made him dizzy, almost enough to forget himself and slide his hand under his shirt, but he held back.
And then Taeyong turned his face towards him, arching backwards even more, pressing against Jaehyun hard enough that his breath shuddered as he exhaled, and their lips touched. It was so surprsingly gentle in contrast to the firm press of their bodies that Jaehyun wondered if it might just be the heat coming off of Taeyong’s lips. But then Taeyong’s tongue darted out and slid, very quickly, over Jaehyun’s bottom lip. And then all the heat was gone, and Jaehyun found himself leaning into a body that was no longer there.
“My break’s over.” Jaehyun blinked and his eyes refocused. Taeyong was standing there, looking up at him. His amused smile was back in place but his cheeks were very flushed. Every part of Jaehyun’s body felt the space between them.
“Oh, right, of course.” Jaehyun managed a smile of his own.
“I don’t get to leave until 5 in the morning usually, so assuming you don’t last here that long I’ll see you at home.”
“Uh huh, yeah, see you then.” Jaehyun ran his hand through his hair. It felt like time had slowed for those few moments when he’d been holding Taeyong, but now it had resumed its normal speed and he was still trying to catch up.
“Well,” Taeyong tilted his head to one side. “You’ll probably be sleeping.” His eyes were fixed on Jaehyun’s and the heaviness in his gaze was still there. Heat rippled again over Jaehyun’s skin.
“So wake me up.”