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To be honest, Changbin has had insomnia days before, but it always was accompanied by a can somebody please smash me over my head with a plank so I will black out and fall asleep thought—he would be staring in the ceiling and think about everything, like some dumb shit he said five years ago thinking it was super funny, a shady as fuck comeback possibility missed, about the rapidly lowering number of the bees in the wild, or about how Jisung pierced his tongue just because Minho told him he can’t or—

Now it’s past 3AM and he’s on the couch in the living room, wide awake, sitting in front of the TV, watching a movie on these channels that usually play stuff all day long with no perception of time. He forgot the name of the movie—there’s Dicaprio and Elliot Page and he knows Jaebeom and Youngjae like this movie and he actually promised to see it once, but forgot about it the next day. Now he is sober enough to comprehend the plot, though he thinks it’s too confusing and stupid, but he finds himself being interested in what would happen next.

That’s not the main problem—it’s the fact this insomnia is different, he just simply doesn’t want to sleep in a “I took a 5 hour nap this afternoon” way, not because he simply can’t.

“Are you crazy?” he hears Jisung’s raspy voice, and then he plumps up on the couch next to him, putting his head on his shoulder. Ariadna on the screen bends the earth surface and puts the high-rise buildings on top of each other, roof to roof.

“Yeah,” Changbin moves a bit so Jisung feels more comfortable lying on him. “I don’t know. Can’t sleep.”

“You’re a monster. I woke up because I choked on my snot. I hate being sick.”

Changbin frees his hand and pats Jisung’s head—he makes an attempt to whine, but with his sore throat it sounds more like a wheeze. Ariadna builds an infinite hallway out of the mirrors.

 

***

 

The amount of respect Changbin has for Felix is immeasurable, and it includes even the most mundane things—like breathing (Sydney air has to be different from Seoul), taking a walk (he’s good at that, Australians walk on their heads and he learned to walk normally so fast), sitting (absolute madman). Felix can’t do anything bad. And if he does something bad, then it’s time to reconsider the laws and calibrate moral codexes.

So it’s concerning to him too why this cross earring makes him feel uneasy.

Jisung sneezes loudly and dramatically bends in half.

“Mate, you’ve been sick for a week,” Felix puts a hand on his shoulder and looks into his face. “Maybe you should ask Chan for some recipe?”

Felix leans even closer and the cross earring becomes even more visible. Changbin still stands outside the apartment, unsure if he can enter.

“Listen,” he suddenly blurts out because the uneasiness becomes unbearable. “Aren’t you tired of this earring? I never saw you wearing anything else.”

Felix and Jisung both stare at him in confusion with their identical deer-in-the-headlights eyes and he wants the ground to swallow him whole.

“...Why are you still outside? Come in,” Felix says instead. Changbin for some reason feels like a mountain has been taken off his shoulders and he finally steps over the porch. The cross is still unsettling.

Felix disappears in the depths of the dorm apartment, and Jisung immediately shoves him with his elbow and makes a scandalized expression.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? I’m gonna strap your mouth with tape next time you’re sleep deprived.”

Changbin wants to say something in his defense but he feels like it would only make his grave deeper and it would only make Jisung even more mad. And this can end with a fight. That’s a thing he would hate to happen the most. So he just silently fixes Jisung’s scarf that he’s wearing over his pajamas—he is so fucking ridiculous, he thinks fondly to himself—and then apologizes to Felix.

“We’re good, mate,” he laughs like an actual sunshine personification he is and pats his arm, “I already got used to Chan, so it’s okay.”

Changbin is too overjoyed over the fact nobody is mad at him to comprehend what he has just been told. Then Jisung drags him out and shoves to the exit direction so he can finally go and get the education for them both. Then he gets distracted and forgets.

 

***

 

Mina, speaking frankly, sort of always confused him—she’s quiet, stuck in her room most of the time and attends classes once per hundred years (usually together with Chan), unhealthy skinny, sick shade of pale and sleepy expression—but she never bothered him with any of the weird stuff she could’ve so he considered them being on good terms. After all, he’s dating Jisung and this is the worst curse that anyone can think of—she can’t come up with something worse than his April Fools pranks. Plus even though Chan is a complete buffon idiot, Changbin trusts him, therefore trusts his friends.

Up until the moment Mina grabs him by the shoulders in the dark staircase section and, stuttering frantically, says in a loud nearly-whisper: “I accidentally cursed you. I’m sorry.”

Yeah, that’s why they say you’re a freak, Changbin suddenly feels pissed off and thinks that impulsively. Even though he never believed people calling her a weirdo-slash-witch-slash-delusional, he still thinks that.

“I wanted to prank Chan,” she continues. “I failed a test because of him. So I wanted him to start catching rats in the basement out of bloodthirst. But it came out weirdly and you caught that hex. And it made you a vampire. I’m still bad at hexes—”

“Leave me alone,” Changbin interrupts her and breaks out of her grip. He’s literally almost home and this weird fantasy roleplayer started games with him.

“Wait,” Mina makes a step in his direction but he starts walking up the stairs twice faster. “You’re gonna regret it.”

“Uh-huh,” Changbin hums skeptically and starts practically running upstairs.

Instead of greeting him, Jisung gives out a series of loud sneezes from somewhere deep in the apartment. Changbin immediately feels something is out of its place, but he can’t quite point it out yet.

“Bless you,” he looks into Jisung’s room.

“I’m already blessed, I’m dating you!” Jisung announces from under a pile of blankets.

Changbin feels a lump in his throat and chokes. “Shut up,” he says, voice way too high. “What’s this smell?”

“Chan said Russians cure everything with vodka and garlic.” The pile of blankets rustles—Jisung probably turns around. “I didn’t find vodka in the fridge but found garlic.”

Now it’s clear—it was the garlic smell. So strong he can’t even breathe. So Changbin confidently walks to the window to open it. “Where did he learn that?”

“He said he knows some russian guy from London.” Jisung hears the noise and sits up on his bed. “What are you doing?”

“Opening the window so we won’t suffocate, dumbass,” he hisses. “You want me to die?”

“And you want me to freeze to death?”

“You’re under three blankets.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you lately,” Jisung groans and crawls under the blankets, turning away from the window.

I wish I knew too, Changbin sighs in his thoughts but keeps the window open. Then he sits on the bed and pats Jisung through the blankets—he lets out a muffled whine and huddles warmer.

 

***

 

Back to Jisung’s tongue piercing.

It was 11th grade, and on some day Minho said—nobody already remembers why—that Jisung is too pussy to pierce his tongue. They argued for a good half an hour, and next morning Jisung showed up at the school and instead of a greeting just showed Minho his swollen tongue with a medical steel needle going through it. Little did they both know this silly argument has ruined Changbin’s life. He couldn’t sleep or eat without thinking about this fucking piece of metal every day, every hour, every minute. He already liked Jisung without that piercing but he couldn’t gather his courage to confess, on top of that every corny joke only encouraged him to shove this crush as far as he could and get over. But now with the knowledge Jisung has a tongue piercing it started getting pretty hard. It had gotten serious until one day he couldn’t hold it in anymore—he missed his bus stop once again because he was thinking about it too intensely—and finally decided to confess.

And it was so fucking worth it.

He would sometimes even wonder about it—why the hell does kissing feel so good when your partner has a piece of metal in their tongue—but then he would start thinking that, rationally, neither kissing nor sex nor holding hands nor cuddling nor just being in love make sense and it would give him an existentional crisis so he would avoid rationalizing all of it. All in all, if the god once showed up and asked him something like “either Jisung takes out the piercing and heals it or I destroy the planet”, Changbin would look him straight in the eye and say without hesitation: “I don’t give a fuck, blow this piece of dirt up”.

So now he wishes he could slap himself in the face because something is bothering him again. This is a constant mood nowadays—the most mundane stuff is bothering him and he craves for something he couldn’t figure out. Was this the lack of physical closeness with Jisung in the sake of social distancing during the latter’s cold that got him mad on people putting the windows on the walls, he wasn’t sure now—because he had his thoughts occupied with the way Jisung was looking at him funnily and slowly approached, staring him up and down. Then he showed his tongue with a new, obviously silver, piercing.

Jisung puts his tongue back in his mouth and crawls up on his lap. “Don’t you fucking dare to say you don’t like it. I saved up three scholarships for this.”

“Of course I like it…” Changbin still feels too uneasy to get excited. No, if there wasn’t a valid reason, he’d be doing a verbal equivalent of crytyping—it’s been two weeks without making out with him, he’s about to die. There is a valid reason, he just doesn’t know what it is.

“But?” Jisung sings out, narrowing his eyes, as his hands start roaming across Changbin’s chest.

“But…” Changbin inhales and blurts out the first thing he thinks of. “I’m allergic to silver.”

Jisung pushes him so he falls on his back and pins him with both hands by the sides of his head. “Silver is literally hypoallergenic.”

“I’m serious, I once wore a silver ring and my entire hand was covered in blisters for a week.”

Jisung inhales in fury and gets off him. “You’re a fucking asshole, Seo Changbin. Literally fuck you.”

Then he goes to his room, slamming the door dramatically.

Changbin knows he never stays mad for a long time, he’ll sit here all pissed off for a half of an hour and then comes out talking like nothing happened. They’ve been through this billion times, they always argue over everything for fun.

This doesn’t work this time and Changbin starts panicking and blaming himself in three minutes. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with him? Does silver allergy actually exist? Idiot. Why is he always so rude? How the hell does everyone still talk to him?

Jisung comes back in 40 minutes and just sits on the couch next to him, and then turns the TV on.

“I googled and saw that silver allergy actually exists,” he finally admits, though not really enthusiastically. The TV stays on some trendy drama series channel. “I’m sorry.”

Changbin puts his hand over his thigh and strokes it with his thumb. “No, you’re right. I was acting like an asshole. I’m sorry too.”

Jisung puts a hand over his and sighs.

Would be nice to find out what's the reason for this second round of teenage angst and why everything makes him mad. If they actually have a real fight with Jisung and break up, this will stop being funny—it feels like he will die without him. There’s nothing in this world that is worth losing Han Jisung, even his damn pride.

Maybe Mina actually cursed him and turned into an evil motherfucker.

“You know I want something…” Changbin starts and then sighs because he hasn't figured out what he wants yet.

“Something tasty?” Jisung guesses for him, clicking remote buttons, uninterested.

“…Yes,” Changbin breathes it out and nods too enthusiastically. Like steak or, maybe, dumplings.

Jisung turns the TV off and gets up from the coach. “Would pizza do the trick?”

Changbin shrugs and nods.

 

There’s only one positive thing about the dorm being so far away from the university—the pizza place in the next building. But of course it was opened only this year, last year Changbin would be complaining that he hates it here and maybe should’ve stayed in Yongin—even though his parents’ place is twice farther away from the uni—and then it was opened. On top of that his roommate Jackson graduated and Jisung was able to move in. Not like he hated Jackson, he was just kind of annoying and very loud. Basically wait and Lord shall give, and all that.

“Yo, look who left his basement!” Jisung yells with a big smile. Changbin turns around and sees Chan entering the pizza place in a nonchalant step.

Every joke is half reality, and this wasn’t an exception—Chan’s room is on the first floor and the blinds are never being opened, so it really feels like entering the basement. And he leaves it once in a blue moon just like Mina—probably that’s why they became friends, stray cats also form packs in the apartment buildings’ basements. Or because they’re both fucking fantasy roleplayers, this dude also talks about vampires all the time.

“Bro, when I said I miss goth Changbin, I meant I missed the times when you flexed your unofficial The Used merch and put on the foundation two tones lighter,” Chan says and laughs.

Changbin almost gives him some shady as fuck comeback but Jisung suddenly looks into his face and gasps. “For real! It’s because you’re not sleeping!”

Jisung also tries to smack him, but Changbin dodges.

“Yeah, the times when I just got turned,” Chan sighs with nostalgia.

Changbin rolls his eyes—here he fucking goes witb his vampire shit. He had enough of these otherkins, does he even have normal friends? Chaeryeong likes witchcraft, Minho… is Minho, you can’t come up with anything worse, Hyunjin and Jisung once assigned everyone a fursona, Jeongin doesn’t like rap, Felix… Nevermind, Felix is the best person ever, he just still quotes outdated vines on a daily basis.

“Yeah, we also remember dinosaurs,” Jisung says to play along. To support him, Changbin awkwardly smiles.

“Does the mirror still work though?” Chan asks him and laughs again. Changbin gets so confused about it that he misses Chan sneaking in front of them in the queue, but immediately goes for a fight right in the middle of a restaurant.

Outside Changbin throws a quick glance in the glass door, like always—it’s a sin to not look at the most handsome man alive, he always does that when he notices a reflectable surface—here he goes to the storefront and expects to admire himself and think about how fucking lucky everyone is to see this artwork created by his parents on a daily basis, but—

The glass doesn’t reflect anything.

“You gonna stand there like a little feral man?” Jisung calls for him. Changbin turns around, waves away the snow flying into his face and sees the street light showing green—he has to run to him to catch up.