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finely milled rumors

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The rumor starts when the campus sweetheart Mark Lee asks out Donghyuck and gets rejected.

It’s not that Mark Lee is shocked at being rejected, but that the entire campus is shocked for him. Mark, being good natured, is perhaps the only person within a ten mile radius who doesn’t think Donghyuck is crazy.

“He said he had a boyfriend,” Mark replies with a small laugh and red cheeks whenever someone asks. “I can’t, like, ask him to break up with someone for me, you know?”

Which is true, except that Donghyuck has never been spotted on campus with a boyfriend. Donghyuck has barely been spotted on campus with a boy, point blank period. He hangs out mostly with the vocal girls and the theater kids.

So when someone approaches him for the first time and asks, “Who is your boyfriend?” Donghyuck is a little surprised, 1) because he doesn’t know the person asking, and 2) because he doesn’t think it should matter to anyone.

“You wouldn’t know him,” Donghyuck responds, awkwardly trying to skirt around the person between library bookshelves. Abort mission, the music theory books can wait for another time. “He doesn’t go here.”

This answer, it seems, doesn’t satisfy anyone; it only spurs more digging. As a junior in university, Donghyuck is moderately well-known, as all charming and extroverted people tend to be. He’s hosted radio shows on and off campus, organized plenty of events on campus and participated loudly, and got the star role in the musical three semesters in a row. He isn’t on perfect terms with everyone but everyone has at least one thing to say about him. All in all, this makes it easy to follow the trail of Lee Donghyuck’s broken hearts.

Na Jaemin, student body representative, turned down.

Lee Jeno, soccer all-star, turned down.

Kim Doyoung, published master’s student, turned down.

Huang Renjun, local artist and legend, presumably turned down but refused to comment. (Actually, he laughed in the face of the person who asked him about Lee Donghyuck, said “Good luck, buddy,” and left.)

Then the question becomes the terrifying why? Why would someone turn down all of these picture-perfect people?

“He said he has a boyfriend,” is the only reply they can find.

“I don’t think the boyfriend is real,” Chenle tells Mark, patting his friend on the back while they eat ice cream in the face of Mark’s rejection.

“Yeah.” Mark sighs and smiles. “I don’t think so, either.”

And thus, the rumors.



“I don’t know why everyone is talking about my boyfriend recently,” Donghyuck says, sitting down at their table in the cafe. They’re meant to be working on a school project, and they’ve allotted an extra fifteen minutes on the front end just to get their general chit-chat out of the way, but at least five of those minutes were taken up by his barista interrogating him about why he turned down at least five of the most eligible bachelors on campus. “Like, it’s really fucking weird.” (The barista had also written his number down on Donghyuck’s napkin. Donghyuck is very politely pretending that he doesn’t see it. Somehow he doesn’t think his usual answers will get him very far.)

Yerim raises her eyebrows and takes a long sip of her drink. “Your boyfriend.” She laughs. “Sure.”

Ryujin looks up from writing in her notebook. “They’re talking about your lack of a boyfriend. Does that count?”

Donghyuck’s bagel is halfway to his mouth, hanging in the air as he gapes at them. “You don’t believe me?” He pouts, face twisting. “Not cool.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Chaeyoung idly flips through her textbook. “I definitely believe you have a 6’0, internationally recognized fashion model boyfriend who definitely bought you those flowers that you definitely didn’t buy yourself for your birthday and I also definitely have never seen before.”

Yerim claps gleefully.

“I’m…” Donghyuck puts a hand to his chest. He genuinely has not considered this issue. “You’ve seen him before. He picks me up from the dorm all the time.”

“Someone sits in a car and honks a horn. That literally could have been anyone,” Yerim says, checking her watch. “Also, our fifteen minutes chat time is over. Should we get started or do you want to keep complaining?”

The price for extending their talking time is buying everyone pizza. Donghyuck is poor, so he says, “We can get started.” He uses his most affronted voice, and it’s only partially a joke, because seriously, what the fuck? “Also, he isn’t 6’0,” he adds belatedly. “He’s only 5’11.”

Ryujin pats him on the back. “That’s much more believable.”

Donghyuck spends most of his day thinking about this problem. Or rather, the people around him will not allow him to stop thinking about it, considering that any time he interacts with any boy the entire room stops to stare. When he passes by the bulletin board someone has posted a wanted ad looking for Lee Donghyuck’s Boyfriend (I’m not gonna hurt you I just wanna talk).

Normally, Donghyuck is super into being the center of attention. Something about this situation is making his stomach churn. “I have a boyfriend and he’s totally real,” he tells his roommate.

“Uh-huh.” Felix is currently studying for an engineering exam and isn’t paying any attention. “That’s nice.”



Two weeks later, Lucas Wong approaches Donghyuck in the quad and asks him for his number. Lucas is very well known around town for being handsome, charming, and rich. Donghyuck gets the full brunt of it, sitting on his bench outside sweating through his t-shirt and looking up at a god.

“Um, sure,” Donghyuck says, texting away on his phone. “I don’t mind.” After all, Lucas is very charming and very rich. He’s also handsome, although that has little to do with Donghyuck personally. “I have a boyfriend, though.”

“A boyfriend,” Lucas says, smile dimming. “Right.” It sounds an awful lot like Yerim.

“I do!” Donghyuck insists.

Lucas holds up his hands in surrender. “It’s okay. Um, I believe you.” (He definitely doesn’t believe him.)

“It’s okay if you don’t want to go out with me,” Lucas says after an awkward silence. It’s mostly awkward because Donghyuck is sitting on his bench, fuming. “It’ don’t have to pretend—”

“I’ll show you!” Donghyuck is always swiping through his phone for pictures. His boyfriend doesn’t send him selfies often, at least not ones that actually show off how good-looking he is. They’re all cute and stupid, just the way Donghyuck likes them. Still, this is a matter of pride. “Look!” He shoves his phone in Lucas’s face. “His name is Jaehyun. He’s really great.”

Lucas looks cross-eyed at the screen. “Uh huh.”

Donghyuck groans. “Don’t say it like that.” He runs a hand down his face. “Just take my number and go!”

Lucas Wong leaves with Donghyuck’s number and a very casual plan for coffee someday later this week, as friends because I have a boyfriend and he’s 5’11 and that’s very believable, and Lucas just smiles and nods and is happy to have made it past a monumental first step.

“There’s no way his boyfriend is real,” Lucas tells Mark and Jaemin later. “I saw that guy in a magazine before. No way.”

Jung Jaehyun is easy enough to search online, and the number of photographs that pop up are innumerable. Up and coming runway model breaking into editorial, recently secured as the face of some big brand Lucas bought his mother for her birthday the year before. There’s a video of a plastic surgeon using his face as an example of perfect male beauty.

It’s ridiculous. This guy is unattainable.

To say that this sparks hope is both an overstatement and an understatement. If Donghyuck truly is catfishing an imaginary boyfriend to avoid dating in college, all of them agree that it’s his right.

Still. It is nice to know there’s a chance. A small chance.



Mark grabs Donghyuck’s number the very next day.

Donghyuck knows exactly why Mark suddenly asks for his number but likes Mark too much to give him a hard time about it. “He’s real,” is all he says, adding his contact into Mark’s phone.

“Uh huh,” Mark says, taking a photo for Donghyuck’s contact picture.



“Why does no one believe me?” Donghyuck asks Jaehyun that weekend. They’re cuddled up in Jaehyun’s bed. The fall is turning into winter and Donghyuck is an opportunist who will absolutely use that as an excuse to plaster himself on top of his boyfriend. He’s also a gremlin who refuses to wear socks even though his feet are freezing. He props his chin up on Jaehyun’s chest and pouts at him.

Jaehyun is swiping through his phone notifications, and his face is a bit red from his face wash and the cold. He smiles and his dimples show. If Donghyuck were a lesser man, perhaps he’d swoon. “Believe what?”

“That you’re my boyfriend?”

“Oh?” Jaehyun puts his phone down atop Donghyuck’s head with a laugh. “Is it because I’m too good to be true?”

Donghyuck gags playfully, but the reality is yes. That is exactly the issue. “I can’t help it that everyone wants to date me and thinks you’re imaginary. It’s not my fault.”

Jaehyun frowns. “What do you mean everyone wants to date you?”

“I told you people ask me out sometimes,” Donghyuck says with a sniff. “I’m very cute and I deserve it.”

Jaehyun nods, wrapping his arms around Donghyuck’s waist. “That’s true,” he says matter of factly. “Both of those things are true but, like, also? What do you mean everyone wants to date you?”

“They think I’m making you up,” Donghyuck whines. “That’s the real issue here. No one bothers me after I say I have a boyfriend but now they think I’m a liar. Even my friends have thought I’ve been lying this whole time! We cannot abide this.”

“I don’t know. It’s kind of funny.”

“I told a guy I’d be his friend and he thinks he’s got a chance,” Donghyuck says, fluttering his eyelashes. Lucas has already sent him at least three pictures of his dog. Donghyuck reaches up and flicks Jaehyun’s glasses. “You’re not jealous?”

Jaehyun hums, flicking Donghyuck on the forehead absently. “Why would I be?” He smiles again. Every time he smiles Donghyuck feels a bit like he’s falling in love again, which is mushy and gross. Jaehyun shifts, pulling Donghyuck closer and kissing his cheek. “Are you going to kiss him?”

“No.” Donghyuck wiggles until he’s sitting up. He can tell his cheeks are red. He steals Jaehyun’s glasses so there’s no proof. “I might flirt with him a little.”

Donghyuck flirts with everyone.

Jaehyun laughs. “You flirt with everyone.”

“Hmm.” Donghyuck puts Jaehyun’s glasses on and squints. “Caught me.”

“Yeah.” Hands on his thighs, warm despite the chill. Jaehyun rubs his thumbs back and forth over skin. “I did.”

Jaehyun is right about one thing; he really is too good to be true.



So when Donghyuck goes back to the dorms and Felix asks him, “Are you really catfishing a fake model boyfriend?” Donghyuck just sighs, nods, and takes a very long shower.

It doesn’t matter if anyone believes him or not. Jaehyun is his boyfriend either way.

(Although Donghyuck won’t say it doesn’t sting a little bit that no one seems to think he could have nabbed himself someone like Jaehyun. Jaehyun asked him out, not the other way around! All of these boys who like Donghyuck so much should know how much of a catch he is, anyway. It’s insulting.)



“Any progress?” Yerim asks him the next day.

“I’ve accepted that no one believes I’ve got a boyfriend,” Donghyuck tells her.

“I meant on the school project.”

“Oh.” He takes a big bite of his breakfast sandwich right as the professor walks in. “No.”

Life goes on.

It’s very unfortunately, actually, the turning of time, because with that comes the real winter. It gets brutally cold here, some years, when God is feeling particularly vengeful towards hipster coffee shops and art-hoe towns. The heater in Donghyuck’s room breaks twice, and then the boiler explodes and leaves Donghyuck standing outside of his dorm in 36 degrees at 4am, and then all of their classes are relegated to online lectures, and then Jaehyun calls him and says, “there’s no way I’m leaving you there.”

So Jaehyun drives over to the dorms in his little car, honks the horn, and Donghyuck lugs his little bag outside to leave for Jaehyun’s apartment.

“You should roll your window down so people know you exist,” Donghyuck says, climbing into the passenger’s side.

“Are you crazy?” Jaehyun shifts the car into gear and it’s very attractive, in Donghyuck’s humble opinion. “It’s fucking freezing. I’d rather I didn’t exist.”

With a sigh, Donghyuck resides himself to having Schrodinger’s boyfriend.

Living with Jaehyun is a dream. Donghyuck is over here most weekends anyway, but it’s nice to fall into domesticity together with the threat of a Monday morning hanging over their heads. They take turns cooking and Jaehyun makes pancakes for them to eat in bed and they watch terrible romantic comedies that Donghyuck enjoys unironically.

Most of Jaehyun’s local jobs are cancelled, but he has to fly out of town for a few days for a contract with a fashion house. “What’s mine is yours,” he says, as he’s packing up to go. He packs too many white t-shirts and no nice pants. He always says they’ll just dress him when he gets there, but it never stops Donghyuck from clicking his tongue.

“I know it’s mine,” Donghyuck says, folding Jaehyun’s things smoothly. “You could never tell me no, anyway.”

Jaehyun laughs, running his hands through his hair. “You should ask me to let you drive my car sometimes.”

“Can I drive your car?”


Donghyuck delicately runs his fingers over Jaehyun’s arm and looks up at him, face open and eyes wide. “Really?” He frowns, biting his lip.

Jaehyun stares.

Donghyuck laughs.

“I still said it,” Jaehyun defends.

“Uh huh.” Donghyuck sends Jaehyun off to the airport with a kiss and locks the door behind him.



The apartment is suddenly very empty.

“Hey, Hyuck!” Jaemin asks, when they’re all piling into their Zoom classroom. He’s the only one with his microphone on. “That’s not your dorm.”

well spotted. Donghyuck adjusts his camera so all they can see is the tasteful potted plants and photography and not the pile of laundry he still has to sort in the corner. i’m at my boyfriend’s house.

“Oh?” Jaemin’s eyebrows raise. The few other people in the room seem too invested. “Is he there?”

Donghyuck purses his lips and winces. No?

Jaemin laughs.

DONGL127: in a few days i don’t remember when
YERIK032: hyuck for real??????

Donghyuck turns on his microphone just to say, “He’s real! He is a real person who exists and is in love with me!”

“That’s very nice, Mr. Lee,” says the professor as Donghyuck sinks into his chair. “Perhaps that can be what our next lecture is on. However, let’s go ahead and get started with this one, shall we?”

At this point, Donghyuck doesn’t think anyone really deserves to see his boyfriend. If blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe, none of his friends and acquaintances are blessed. Everyone is going to Hell. Jaehyun is a god and thus can make it so.



“No one deserves you,” Donghyuck tells a very tired Jaehyun when he comes home late Thursday night.

“That’s nice, baby,” Jaehyun says, falling face first onto his mattress still wearing his travel clothes and falling asleep.

Donghyuck quietly gets up to turn the lights off even though he’s wide awake. When he shimmies under the covers Jaehyun is already pulling him in closer and kissing his cheek sleepily. “Goodnight,” he mumbles into Donghyuck’s neck. “Missed you.”

Donghyuck runs his hands through Jaehyun’s hair until his baby is asleep and everything is quiet.

The morning brings its own issues, as Donghyuck has a 9:30 lecture and Jaehyun is still dead to the world. He’s also an octopus, and even after the ring of Donghyuck’s alarm Jaehyun doesn’t move an inch. Donghyuck spends the better part of his time disentangling himself and making coffee. By the time he sits down for class he hasn’t even brushed his teeth.


YERIK032: hello hyuck who is at his “boyfriends” house
DONGL127: hello yerim who is no longer my friend and should never speak to me again
JAEMN228: goodmorning donghyuck! :)
DONGL127: good morning jaemin who also doesn't believe i have a boyfriend but is polite enough to not bring it up and thus still has rights


Around the time that the professor starts the lecture Donghyuck can hear the bedroom door open and close, and a moment later he’s distracted by the sound of the shower turning on. Donghyuck drinks his coffee with a grimace. Jaehyun is generally an earlier riser but Donghyuck hopes he didn’t wake him up with his moving around.

Donghyuck hates online lecture. He’s taken online classes over the summer and didn’t like those either; he’s a physical person, focused when he wants to be but easily distracted otherwise, and he feels his attention slipping the longer they talk. Honestly, if he remembers any of this when they are back in a classroom he’ll be shocked. Maybe he’ll reinstate Yerim as a friend just long enough to steal her notes.

He picks up his phone to text her — might as well ask early — when he sees her eyes widen on the little computer screen. He laughs. Why do you look like a frog? he texts her, and then notices Jaemin and several others are also paying way more attention to the lecturer than necessary. Is he missing something?


YERIK032: hyuck who is that


Donghyuck frowns, and then he hears the rustling. On the camera display, he sees himself and a mostly-naked body wandering around in the background.

Fuck. Jaehyun.

He rips his earbuds out of his ears and cranes around in his chair. “Jae, why are you in here?”

“‘M looking for the hairdryer,” Jaehyun mumbles, rubbing his eyes. There’s a towel wrapped around his waist and that’s it. His hair is wet and held back with a headband, and his face is flushed from the warmth of his shower. He looks…

Well. Donghyuck thinks he looks very cute but he also knows what Jaehyun’s body does to a person. Yerim is a lesbian and the look on her face is telling enough.

His mouth is dry. He hears the chat going off and tilts his computer as far the other way as he can so no one sees Jaehyun in all his glory. “My camera is on.” His voice comes out a little warbled.

Jaehyun makes a soft, questioning sound, digging through their laundry as though perhaps that’s where Donghyuck put the hair dryer. Jaehyun is not extremely comprehensive in the mornings. “But it’s early.”

“It’s for class.” Donghyuck’s professor just saw his boyfriend mostly naked. Fuck. Fuck.

“Oh?” Jaehyun straightens up, a t-shirt in his hands that he pulls over his head. His skin is still wet and his face is still flushed, but his eyes are more aware than they were a moment ago. “Anyone in there I should be worried about?”

“Uh.” Donghyuck bites his lip. It is very difficult to focus. It’s too early and Jaehyun just scrambled his brain by pulling Donghyuck’s shirt on and it’s way too tight. “No?”

Jaehyun comes over and puts his arms over Donghyuck’s shoulders. He presses his cheek to Donghyuck’s and casually turns the computer forward, both of them sliding into view. In the monitor Donghyuck can see that they look good together — he’s always thought so, but this soft Jaehyun is Donghyuck’s favorite.

Gently, Jaehyun reaches over and picks up one of Donghyuck’s headphones before delicately placing it in Donghyuck’s ear. “Don’t want you to miss your lecture,” Jaehyun says softly, mouth so close Donghyuck can feel that movement.

Donghyuck knows what this is. This is showing off, just a little. Jaehyun looks good on camera, smiles a little too brightly, and Donghyuck gives a knowing smile in return before scoffing and taking a long sip of his luke-warm coffee. His phone pings several times, all from Yerim.




There’s a screenshot included of Jaehyun whispering into Donghyuck’s ear, maximized on the screen.

Donghyuck snorts.


why yerim hello that would be my “boyfriend”

no. seriously.


Jaehyun very visibly picks up Donghyuck’s phone and sets it facedown on the desk. “Do you want me to be gross?”

Donghyuck is very glad that his microphone is off because he’s laughing, leaning in, like a loser. God, he’s such a loser. He grins. “I mean, they already saw you mostly naked.”

Jaehyun grins. “Lucky them,” he says, even after his flush travels down his neck and chest, before turning Donghyuck’s face slightly by the chin and kissing him quietly on the lips. “Have a good day at school.”

“I hope you find your hairdryer,” Donghyuck chirps, leaning out of Jaehyun’s grasp as Jaehyun saunters off back the way he’d come. “Maybe you should look in the bathroom drawer, where it’s supposed to be.”

“Maybe I know that it’s there and just wanted to say hi?”

Donghyuck hums. His cheeks are aching. Gross.

His phone beeps a few more times. It’s from Ryujin, and several from Yerim are buried underneath. Yerim says that your boyfriend is hot? And real? :O Donghyuck rolls his eyes and looks back at his lecture, firmly settling back into his headphones. The professor couldn’t care less about Donghyuck’s love life, which quite frankly is refreshing, but Jaemin is texting rapidly and Yerim’s jaw is still on the floor.

Off to the side, firmly out of view of the camera, Jaehyun looks Donghyuck in the eyes and drops his towel to the floor.

Donghyuck sighs dreamily. “You’re stupid.”

Jaehyun throws him a finger gun and wiggles his hips before closing the bathroom door.

They’ve been together for so long, Donghyuck knows that when Jaehyun goes into the bathroom he’s going to take too long to dry his hair and he’s going to take the shirt off immediately and walk around in his boxers until he absolutely has to go outside. He knows that Jaehyun is going to start singing absently at any moment and he knows whatever song it is will get hopelessly stuck in Donghyuck’s head for several hours.

He listens to the first few bars of something sweet before telling Jaehyun to shut up and putting his headphones back in.



Donghyuck is still singing La Vie en Rose when the winter storm finishes rolling through and he’s stuck back on campus.

“It’s horrible,” Donghyuck whines into his phone. He’s in the cafeteria picking at lukewarm dining hall food, having already devoured his pudding. “The food is bad and the bed isn’t as nice.”

Jaehyun hums on the other side. “How is the company?”

Donghyuck leans back in his chair. There’s no one around him, but he can see Mark very subtly staring at him with his mouth open across the hall. “Better,” he says, cartoonishly aloof.

It’s nice, just to hear Jaehyun laugh. “You weren’t saying that when you asked if we could move in together.”

“Maybe I’m just able to find good company wherever I go,” Donghyuck offers. “Maybe I’m not actually in love with you and only want you for your kimchi pancakes and your body heat.”

“Maybe I won’t take you up on your offer, then.”

“To move in together?” Donghyuck warms from the inside. “Oh, baby, like you’ve ever been able to say no to me.”

Jaehyun clears his throat. Donghyuck would pay to see the red of his ears. “That’s…” Jaehyun laughs. “That’s true. We’ll see.” A pause. “My lease is up around the end of your school year.”

“We’ll certainly see.” Donghyuck hums. “I would make a great trophy wife.”

“Now you want to get married?”

Donghyuck purses his lips. Whoops. “Never mind, bye. Going to go find something to eat that isn’t mush.” He huffs. “Have fun at work.” Although Jaehyun is probably finishing up by now. He’d left well before the sun rose, sending Donghyuck a picture in the back of a car that might as well have been taken in the middle of the night.

He’s halfway to the music building when he gets a text message.

baby 🍑

For real, you wanna be my wife??????? :O


i simply said i would make a great trophy wife i didn’t say whose trophy wife

I’m the model. Should I be the trophy wife?

you can hang off my arm and look pretty weekdays we’ll switch on the weekends

But you always look pretty?


Donghyuck is so focused on his phone that he nearly walks into a pillar outside his lecture hall. He slinks around last minute, through the door and into his seat, cheeks pink.



It’s a busy day, and time passes by quickly enough that when he has a moment to himself he realizes his stomach has been growling for at least an hour. He texts Felix about whether there’s food in the room and gets absolutely no answer. Useless. The people around him are useless.

He’s scrolling through a delivery application trying to find something dirt cheap when he nearly runs into another pillar, only this one has a heartbeat and very nervous eyes.

Donghyuck cranes up his neck. “Hello,” he says, blinking the sun out of his eyes. He has almost no idea who this kid is, just a tall person with big eyes who doesn’t know where to put his hands. When the person moves he recognizes him slightly — he’s a freshman in the music department, very handsome, and Donghyuck vaguely remembers hearing him barking in a practice room. Donghyuck has heard far stranger things happen in the practice rooms, so he just moves his hand to block the sun and says, “Sungchan?”

Sungchan raises his hand in an aborted wave before shoving it back in his pocket. “Hey, Donghyuck,” he says, and that at least comes out fairly smoothly. He smiles, even, and it’s enough to make Donghyuck’s heart melt. Okay, okay, so the barking isn’t that weird. It’s fine. He’s cute, so whatever.

“Sorry I almost ran into you,” Donghyuck says. He’s looking at tacos on his phone still.

“Oh, it’s okay.” Sungchan runs his hands through his hair.

(This is an attempt to be seductive, which fails miserably because Donghyuck is trying to decide whether it’s worth it to get shitty delivery or just walk to the corner store and thus isn’t paying Sungchan much attention at all.)

Sungchan takes a deep breath. “I was looking for you, actually.”

And here, Donghyuck starts to get suspicious. “Oh, really?” He opens his eyes wide, innocent. “Did you need help in a class?”

“No.” Sungchan rocks back on his heels. “I was just...I just wanted to know whether you...were Or something. Free to do something. Like dinner maybe.”

With a big sigh, Donghyuck tucks his phone into his pocket and puts his hands on his hips. “That’s very nice of you,” he says. “But I have a very real boyfriend who I am absolutely not making up.”

Sungchan blinks at Donghyuck. “Uh…”

“And he’s really great and I would like to marry him and that’s not weird because he’s not imaginary.” Donghyuck feels a little bad, because Sungchan is just staring at him uncomprehendingly and for all Donghyuck knows Sungchan is very nice. He scratches the back of his neck, a little lamely. “But like, thank you for offering.”

His stomach growls. Truly terrible timing.

“Are you sure you don’t wanna go to the caf and grab something really fast?” Sungchan bites his lip. “No pressure, you know! Just…”

Donghyuck’s stomach growls again.

“You seem hungry.”

Donghyuck clamps his hands over his stomach. Quiet, you, he thinks aggressively. Someone is walking around with something delicious. The smell is causing Donghyuck to be betrayed by his own body. “I’m not hungry,” he says. Pauses. “I mean I’m hungry but I—”


“What now?” Donghyuck whines, looking over his shoulder. He straightens immediately. “Jaehyun?”

There’s his boyfriend, walking down the valley with something greasy in a to-go bag. His hair is still styled, curly and stiff as a board, and he’s washed his makeup off because there’s some smudged under his eyes. He looks like a god.

The food in his hands smells godly.

“My hero!” Donghyuck says, setting his shock aside and reaching out. Jaehyun never comes onto campus. He’s not a big fan of crowds he can avoid.

“I would have gotten here sooner if you answered your phone,” Jaehyun chirps. His nose is red from the chill and his other hand is tucked into his jacket, but he takes it out to grab the hand Donghyuck is reaching towards his second lunch. “Say thank you, you gremlin.”

Donghyuck gives Jaehyun’s knuckles a quick kiss and pulls his closer. “Thank you,” he coos, sneaking the bag out of Jaehyun’s hand. It’s his favorite — no wonder his stomach growled. He’s too busy inspecting the bag to notice Jaehyun put his hand on his waist, and too hungry to notice Jaehyun’s eyes flick passed his shoulders.

“Hello,” says Jaehyun, flat.

This, Donghyuck does notice. He looks up in surprise. Jaehyun is normally much more polite. He sticks his hand in the bag, shoves some fries into his mouth, and says, “Oh, yeah. This is Sungchan.”

Sungchan, who is still standing there staring at Jaehyun like he’s seen the Second Coming.

Jaehyun holds out his hand.

It’s a little stiff of a greeting to offer a flustered college freshman, but Sungchan bows his head and takes the hand and says, “I’m so sorry,” before turning on his heels and walking briskly in the other direction.

Donghyuck whistles. “Wow,” he says through a mouthful of food. “It’s like you planned it.” He offers Jaehyun one of his fries. “Do you want to walk around campus really obviously so that everyone knows I’m taken?”

Jaehyun plucks the fry from Donghyuck’s fingers. “Why yes, how did you know?”

“Your extremely pointed appearance on campus, maybe?” Donghyuck leans into Jaehyun with a shit eating grin. Perhaps he sees Mark passing by out of the corner of his eye and wants to put Jaehyun in a position to be noticed, but perhaps not.

“I just happened to be passing by with a bag of your favorite disgusting food and figured, hey, why not?” Jaehyun is a good liar but he’s hardly trying.

Donghyuck threads his arm through Jaehyun’s elbow with a tut of his tongue. “Chivalry, is that you?” He snakes his greasy fingers to take Jaehyun’s pulse at the wrist. “I heard you were dead.”

Jaehyun picks up Donghyuck’s hand and — against, rather pointedly — threads their fingers together. “Let’s walk at a medium pace through the busiest part of campus on a nice afternoon.”

Someone in the distance takes a picture of them on the sidewalk. Donghyuck shoots her a peace sign.

“Have I ever told you you’re my perfect match?” Donghyuck coos, putting Jaehyun’s very cold hand in his own jacket pocket.

Jaehyun grins. “No,” he says, which is also a lie.

“Weird.” Donghyuck doesn’t have any classes for an hour and his dorm is in the opposite direction. He leads Jaehyun further into campus.

The rumor starts when the campus sweetheart Mark Lee asks out Donghyuck and gets rejected. They end rather abruptly when Jung Jaehyun kisses Donghyuck punch drunk in the quad before pretending to throw him into the lake.

Donghyuck — dry, well fed, and kissed silly — thinks things have turned out rather well.