Overall, hiding a wanted criminal (and possible threat to national security) in a tiny studio apartment isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Admittedly, Jaemin should probably be more careful about locking his front door, but if he’d paid any attention to personal safety then he wouldn’t be in this position now, would he? Jeno, ever the protective best friend, would argue that’s the whole point, but Jaemin likes his current living situation, thank you very much. It’s definitely an improvement to the lonely nights he used to suffer through.
So yeah, he’s alright with a boy with lightning in his hair and fire in his eyes barging into his living room moments after cutting the power to the whole block and announcing himself as Donghyuck Lee, nationally wanted convict. Sounds weird, and counter-intuitive, but the way Donghyuck says, “You have to let me hide here,” leaves no room for argument. Plus, Donghyuck is gorgeous, and Jaemin is a weak, weak man. Also, Donghyuck offers to hack Jaemin into the neighbor’s wifi without the password, and Jaemin is in no position to decline free internet, poor college student that he is.
Power restored, wifi secured, hot roommate acquired, Jaemin finally gets the chance to sit down and research this mystery man he suddenly has the (arguably) good fortune of living with. It doesn’t take much; he turns on the news, and Donghyuck’s face is plastered all over the screen, exorbitant reward offers for any information on his whereabouts in big, red writing. Jaemin thinks about calling for all of half a second, but then Donghyuck is done in the shower and walks back into the room, wet hair sparking as he drags a towel over it.
“You’re on TV,” he says as he gestures with the remote, like Donghyuck can’t see that himself.
Donghyuck lights up anyway. “Oh my god, again?” Jaemin considers addressing exactly how many times Donghyuck has been through this, but then Donghyuck is running up to kneel in front of the TV and promptly short circuiting it in his excitement, so Jaemin’s attention is redirected elsewhere. At least Donghyuck has the decency to feel bad about it, gushing out a string of about a billion apologies in the span of two minutes.
Jaemin obviously forgives him, and Donghyuck’s powers have practical uses anyway, as they soon learn. Like when Jaemin’s shitty old car won’t start and he’s late to class and he doesn’t have time to call Jeno for a ride, and Donghyuck is there, coming to the rescue with jumper cables and his bare hands. Or the time Jaemin’s paycheck hasn’t gone through in time for rent, and Donghyuck shoots the wifi for a couple days so Jaemin can blame his late payment on that when his landlord inevitably asks what the deal is. Or the week of midterms, when the upstairs neighbours decide to throw a particularly wild party the night before Jaemin’s hardest test, so Donghyuck cuts the lights until all the guests have left (and keeps their A/C off for the rest of the night, just to be petty). And in turn, Jaemin doesn’t hand Donghyuck over to the FBI. It’s what Jaemin’s biology professor would call mutualistic symbiosis. It’s what Jeno calls codependency.
Jeno meets Donghyuck, a couple months after he invades Jaemin’s life in the most unbelievable way possible. Jaemin sits his best friend down at the tiny kitchen table while Donghyuck is off playing with his latest preferred form of entertainment: a hair dryer in the bathtub. He hadn’t believed Jaemin when he told him he couldn’t electrocute himself like that, and now Donghyuck is determined to make it happen. So far, it hasn’t.
But with Donghyuck temporarily preoccupied, Jeno gets a moment alone with Jaemin, which he uses to question Jaemin’s life choices, naturally. “He’s literally an enemy of the state, Nana,” he says over his cup of coffee.
Jaemin just squints at him. “You make it sound so dramatic.”
“It is dramatic, you dumbass,” Jeno says incredulously as Jaemin takes a sip of his own cup of tar. “You’re gonna go to prison for like, forever.”
“Only if we get caught!” Donghyuck chirps helpfully as he walks into the room, soaking wet in his boxers, a towel draped over his shoulders. Jeno scowls at him.
“You’re gonna get caught,” is all he says to that, not deeming it worth arguing the point. They all know he’s probably right, anyway. Jaemin’s never been as practical as his best friend, though.
“We’ll be okay, Jen.” Jaemin tries to reassure him, but it’s pretty obvious he’s not convinced.
Jeno just looks at him and sighs, eyeing Donghyuck digging around in the fridge for a snack. “Okay. But if I have to visit you in federal prison for the rest of our lives, I’m gonna kill you.” Jaemin pinky promises he won’t have to.
Donghyuck comes up to stick a crooked pinky out at Jeno’s still outstretched hand. “I promise, too.” Something changes in his expression, the slightest flicker in his eyes. “I won’t let anything happen to him.” Jeno nods, intertwining their fingers, then Donghyuck drops his hand and takes a sip of Jaemin’s coffee, grimacing before traipsing off to put on some proper clothes. Jeno eyes him, but Jaemin doesn’t say anything.
Maybe subconsciously, Jaemin was waiting for his best friend’s approval, because after Jeno’s (albeit reluctant) acceptance of Donghyuck, Jaemin truly lets his guard down. It’s not anything monumental; just a secret here, a quirk or two there. And whether it’s intentional or not, Donghyuck returns the favour.
“You never asked what they want me for,” he says one day over dinner, which consists entirely of instant ramen because it’s Donghyuck’s turn to cook. He nearly blew up the microwave pressing the buttons with his charged fingers, but it’s fine. He got through it unscathed, and so did the kitchen at large.
“Who?” Jaemin asks around a mouthful of noodles.
Donghyuck levels him with a look. “The FBI, or CIA, or whatever. Y’know, the government.”
Jaemin feigns surprise. “Oh shit, they’re still after you? I thought they’d give up by now.”
Donghyuck rolls his eyes, taking a sip from his water bottle. Over the months they’ve lived together, Jaemin has learned that Donghyuck prefers to drink water over anything else because it’s the most conductive and somehow that amplifies his powers. Jaemin can’t really follow the logic behind it, but he’s started stocking the apartment with bottled water, anyway. “Do you wanna know what I did, or not?”
“If you wanna tell me,” Jaemin says with a shrug. Truthfully, he’s curious, and he’s even resorted to binging the news some nights after Donghyuck’s gone to bed. Unfortunately, none of the news channels have offered any concrete answers, which makes Jaemin think whatever Donghyuck did requires some pretty high clearance.
He’s not wrong, exactly. Donghyuck leans closer across the table and whispers into the air between them, “I shut down the White House’s security for an entire day.” When he leans back, he has the most shit eating grin Jaemin’s ever seen on his face. “They thought I was trying to assassinate the president,” he says like he’s telling Jaemin somebody got his Starbucks order wrong. A minor miscommunication.
Jaemin doesn’t think he’s up for unpacking all of that, but he does have one burning question. “Well, were you?” Donghyuck tilts his head. “Trying to assassinate the president?” Jaemin clarifies.
Donghyuck shakes his head and takes another sip of water. “No way. My friend Chenle dared me to - said I couldn’t do it. So I was just proving a point.” Jaemin just blinks at Donghyuck, and his stunned silence prompts a long rant about the ongoing competition between Donghyuck and his best friend to see who can pull off the most elaborate pranks. Apparently, Chenle is very confident in his hydrokinesis, and they'd both gotten into plenty of trouble before the national government finally caught on. The two of them are formidable forces on their own, but together they'd been nearly unstoppable.
But the fun had to end at some point, and after the stunt at the White House they’d decided to split up, because logistically that made the most sense, and Jaemin can’t really argue there. Donghyuck hasn’t heard from Chenle in months, has no idea where he is, and that’s part of the reason he’s so grateful to Jaemin.
He says it one night in Jaemin’s bed, because after living together for six months he’s comfortable enough to admit he has panic attacks every time he hears sirens in the distance, and Jaemin’s made it clear he’s always here to help. Donghyuck is snuggled up against his side, head on Jaemin’s chest as Jaemin cards a gentle hand through his hair like he knows Donghyuck likes. Donghyuck doesn’t even look up when he says it; he closes his eyes and leans into Jaemin’s touch as he murmurs, “I used to hate my powers. I never felt like I fit anywhere, y’know? Then I met Chenle, and he was all I had; and then I lost him, too.” Jaemin just nods, resting his chin on the crown of Donghyuck’s head. “But you gave me a home, made me feel like I belong here. Thank you for that.” Donghyuck pushes up onto his elbow, looking down to meet Jaemin’s eyes. “If they find me, I won’t let anything happen to you, I swear.”
Donghyuck’s eyes are ablaze, sparks like Jaemin’s never seen ignited in them. It would be terrifying, if Jaemin didn’t know the meaning behind it. “I won’t let anything happen to you either, Hyuckie,” he says, and he means it.
Donghyuck can tell. There’s a pause; an excruciating few moments where they both lock eyes and wait for the other to move. Jaemin feels like Donghyuck can see into his soul. Maybe he can, because it’s Donghyuck who closes the distance between them.
Jaemin slips a hand over Donghyuck’s throat, thumb brushing against his jaw as their lips slot together. And maybe it’s just his imagination, but Jaemin swears he feels fireworks in that kiss.
When Donghyuck pulls away minutes later, his lips are still glimmering.
Yeah, hiding a wanted criminal (and possible threat to national security) in a tiny studio apartment isn’t as bad as it sounds. Actually, Jaemin wouldn’t have it any other way. He pulls Donghyuck in for another kiss and this time, he sees sparks fly.