After many months later, their relationship was working – not that smoothly, but it was going fine.
It was expected that it was not going to work so perfectly in such a short amount of time, considering how they were – Hyukjae still had his habit of keeping things to himself and accepting things without saying anything and Jongwoon still had his habit of choosing to ignore glaring signals and making himself unaware if someone is hurting or not. Those were things that they were trying to work on slowly, followed by working on many other things they used to do, so that their relationship could work. They were trying – even if it led to some tough or frustrating situations every once in a while.
With the many months that passed and how things between them were going, what had changed the most was how they were leading their lives now. While nothing much had changed for Jongwoon aside from him being able to organize himself better so he had enough time to spend with his friends and his boyfriend, for Hyukjae, things had changed not drastically, but enough to make an impactful difference. It started two weeks after they had started dating officially, when he finally stopped isolating himself and went back to hanging out with Donghee and Donghae and spending time with Leeteuk and Kyuhyun – he had felt embarrassed that it took so long, but they all reassured him that it was fine and they understood he needed his space. One thing that was new, though, was the fact he had actually tried to befriend Ryeowook, something that had been hard and it took even longer because of the spikes of jealousy that would catch up to him the more he saw how Ryeowook cared about Jongwoon just as much as him, but the younger had managed to grow on him as well after a few days – especially after it was clear that he cared about the others as much as he cared about Jongwoon, too.
And that sudden development was what caught their friends’ attention first.
You see, it made them happy that now, Hyukjae was almost back to his old self again. It had been weird to see him so closed off and silent ever since Ryeowook came around, but now, seeing how Hyukjae looked happier and was feeling better, it left them wondering what had changed after Jongwoon and him talked about in the last time they met – because even though some of them were nearly blackout drunk that night, a few of them still remembered the sour mood Jongwoon had been left with for the rest of the night and how Hyukjae had cried and left as if something terrible had happened. But with this sudden change, curiosity was slowly catching up with them, especially when they would observe their behavior every time they would meet – for a drink or to just hang out for a day.
It all started with things that seemed to be normal for Jongwoon and Hyukjae to do had started changing, like the way Hyukjae seemed to be more willing and open to Jongwoon’s affection now, not shying away from his hugs or kisses like he would before. There was also the fact that now, they would hug and kiss openly and neither of them would stutter and struggle with making excuses to explain the scene they just had seen. It got more obvious that something was different when, unlike before, Hyukjae was more clingy to Jongwoon now, holding his hand or just hugging him at random settings, sometimes going as far as to sitting on Jongwoon’s lap and resting his head on his shoulder, dozing off while the others talked about random topics. What solidified it, though, was the way Jongwoon seemed to be leaning to those affections as much as Hyukjae, sneaking a kiss here, a kiss there, a hug here and there, always choosing to stay close to Hyukjae so he could touch him – be it by leaving his hand resting on his lower back or be leaving his hand on his nape, caressing it as if it was something normal to do.
Clearly something had changed in their non existent relationship, it was just hard to pinpoint what and even harder to ask what had happened between them, considering their previous behavior whenever the question would pop up, be it by them or an acquaintance asking. They decided to wait until one of them said something – either to tell them to stop being so curious over something that had nothing to do with them or to admit that yes, they were finally dating after many months of this uncertainty. Curiosity was killing them and that was not surprising, but even though there was the urge to ask, there was also the hesitance when it came to asking if there was something finally going on between them – so the question would always hang in the air every time Jongwoon and Hyukjae did something that friends would not do.
The answer for their question came not that long after, though. During one time where they had met to catch up on a few things that happened in the weeks that passed, they eventually noticed that both Jongwoon and Hyukjae were wearing a new accessory in their hands – a ring, with similar design and pattern that seemed to complete each other if looked carefully and placed side by side. It took them some embarrassing long minutes for them to realize that small detail, but hey, at least they did. It also took them every cell in their body to not scream “fucking finally” in front of them when they realized that yes, it meant they were finally dating after so much pinning, but they screamed in their groupchat without the two of them. All in all, they were quietly supporting them in the only way they knew – by embarrassing them with teasing and making jokes about it, but that was expected, so Jongwoon and Hyukjae teased them just as much.
In the end, in Hyukjae’s view, things were much better between them now.
While there were still moments where they messed up and went back to their old habits, they were managing just fine – some fights would inevitably happen and sometimes it was just easier to ignore the issue and pretend everything is fine. What was important, though, is that he was growing more used to opening up to Jongwoon about his feelings and Jongwoon was getting more aware of his feelings, especially of the signals he would unconsciously show if he was upset or hurt by something. Of course, there was still a long way for them to go and more changes to come in the future, but the thought of it did not scare Hyukjae as much as it would in the past anymore – in fact, it had been a long time since he ever felt like hiding and isolating himself again, in fear of the future causing consequences that he was afraid of facing and dealing with. Jongwoon had been very helpful with that and Hyukjae realized he never thought about the future or feared it as long as his boyfriend was around, because Jongwoon always knew how to use his words to ease his worries.
If words were not enough, Jongwoon could kiss those worries away – it was turning common for them to kiss and make out whenever Hyukjae was feeling down because that way, it was easier for them to stop thinking for a second and just enjoy the moment and the pleasures it would bring when it eventually would lead to them retreating to the bedroom – most of the time it being Hyukjae's bedroom – and talk things out later, after the bad feeling had been shaken away and they could talk about it calmly.
But, in Jongwoon’s view, while things were okay, there was still a thin shade of doubt and fear haunting him – not enough for it to be obvious to anyone else, but enough to make him feel insecure and wonder things that had been clear and obvious for a long time already. Inside him there was the need to say, to ask something not really that necessary for him to ask but it was haunting him, yet there was also the fear and the thought of things going terribly wrong if he voiced it out – the scenario where Hyukjae could get hurt by his question, because that could mean he was questioning him and their relationship and he was afraid of what Hyukjae could think. It was a scary feeling, so in his fear he stayed quiet, watching as things developed in front of him while he stayed lagging behind, struggling to keep up as he was slowed down by his own insecurity that was slowly growing and taking advantage of the state of mind he was in. He would have kept it a secret to himself for a long time, adamant in dealing with it on his own, but it slipped from him accidentally one day, when they were curled up together in Hyukjae’s bed and resting after a draining day of work that left them desperate to just lie down and sleep for the rest of the week.
When the room got quiet – saved by the sound of their rapid breathing that was slowly going back to its normal pattern which indicated that they had done everything but rest – and after their bodies had cooled down and both had come down from their high, Jongwoon unconsciously broke the silence first once he caught his breath again, voice barely above a whisper when he asked, “Hyukkie, are you happy?” The curiosity in his tone was perfectly hiding the insecurity and fear he was feeling – though, once it hit that he had uttered those words accidentally, his breathing quickened and he had to close his eyes for a few seconds, feeling scared and nervous. That question had been plaguing his mind for a long time now, but never managed to gather enough courage to say it and knowing he had said it was making him feel nervous, because what if things went wrong and-
Unlike what he thought that would happen, Hyukjae merely stilled next to him, blinking a few times as he tried to think of the answer.
Was he happy?
Hyukjae’s mind went back to the past few months – they were filled with new experiences and he had never felt so content with his life, things were going well in his job and with his friends and unlike what he had feared, his relationship was completely fine and not even once Jongwoon had made him feel like ending things and going back to that dark space he had been. Things – not only between them – had changed and while it had been hard to adapt and accept it, they had happened for the best and Hyukjae was happy with the results so far. With so many new things happening he had been able to explore more of the hobbies he was interested in and enjoy things he felt afraid of doing, all while he had a loving boyfriend and best friend who cared about him and respected him by his side, always supporting him and his decisions. They both had their flaws but despite that, things were working and he liked how things were going between them because for him, it was perfect so far – he had never felt so content and complete.
So, was he..?
He hummed as he came to a conclusion. “Yeah, I am,” came his response minutes later. He shifted on Jongwoon’s hold just a little so he could get more comfortable, his head resting on Jongwoon’s chest and arm wrapping around his waist. “It’s pretty hard not to be happy after what we did not that long ago,” he teased and hissed when Jongwoon slapped his arm. “Ouch- hey, I was joking!” He whined and pouted after hearing Jongwoon’s chuckle. “You meanie. But fine, honestly, I’m very happy. Being with you makes me the happiest person in the world.”
“That is disgustingly sweet, but it’s nice to know that,” Jongwoon hummed, feeling just slightly pleased, and entwined their fingers once Hyukjae reached for his hand. “It makes me happy knowing you are happy.” The way he had said it so sweetly made Hyukjae’s heart skip a beat and flutter – he was lucky Jongwoon was not looking at him, or else he would have teased him because of the faint blush in his cheeks.
“Why did you ask?” Hyukjae pried. He was ready to whine when Jongwoon ignored his question to shift a little, but the complaint never came out of his mouth when Jongwoon started playing with the ring in his finger. “Hyung?” He frowned in concern, shifting so he could look at him better. The look on Jongwoon's face made him worried, though, if the way he was biting the inside of his cheeks and his eyes were turning red because of unshed tears was enough to feel concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, it’s just- I was thinking about it recently. I guess it slipped now but it wasn’t supposed to- so, just.. forget about it..” Jongwoon stopped before he could say more, whining when Hyukjae pulled his hand back and left his hold. The look in his eyes was enough to make Jongwoon sigh and give up in trying to hide the reason. “Fine, fine.. If I’m going to be completely honest, well.. I was thinking about it after we started dating. When you told me you were afraid of what could become of us if we ever broke up, I started wondering if I would ever be able to make you happy or what were the chances of me doing anything that could hurt you because.. I got afraid I could lose you as my friend if things went terribly wrong, too. Seeing the state you were in because of these thoughts.. I don’t know, it just started making me think about it more often and it left me a little scared. Even after it all passed and we were fine, even when I knew you were happy.. Like, I could see it in your eyes and in the way you were acting but at the same time, I had this doubt annoying me and making me wonder if you.. If you were going to just.. Leave at any time. If I was really part of the reason why you were so happy, because it honestly felt like you could just leave and things would be okay for you. I admit, it was stupid of me to even entertain that thought, so I thought, ‘ah, that’s nothing, maybe I’ll get over it soon ,’ but I guess I was enough. It was a haunting thought and it left me feeling bad about it for a while now.. Still, it’s nothing for you to be worried about, really.”
“You were thinking about this for almost four months and you never said anything?” Hyukjae’s eyes widened and Jongwoon shifted his gaze to look at somewhere else. The silence was enough of an answer. “You should have asked it earlier! You said it yourself that the most important thing is communicating your feelings so why the hell did you think it was okay for you to keep this to yourself knowing very well you were hurting?” Hyukjae shifted on the bed so that he was in a sitting position, holding Jongwoon’s hands in his. “If it will assure you, then I can repeat it. I’m happy, not only with everything that happened recently but with our relationship, too. You’ve been nothing but caring and nice and everything I didn’t know I needed ever since we started dating, hyung. And don’t you dare try to say otherwise!” He stopped Jongwoon before he could interrupt. “When I said that being with you makes me the happiest, I really mean it. Everyone saw how I’ve changed ever since we started dating and it’s all because of you. You made me happy, you brought the best in me. Don’t you ever, ever doubt that. I love you , hyung. I wouldn’t dare to leave you, because I wouldn’t be like this if I wasn’t with you.”
Jongwoon pouted, holding back the urge to cry at those words. It took him a few seconds to get himself back together, but once he did, he sat up and pulled Hyukjae to his arms.“I’m sorry for doubting that. I didn’t mean to, really.” He kissed his cheeks and wrapped his arms tightly around him. “It’s just.. A lot to take in, considering what we went through and- I don’t know why it happened- I didn’t mean to, really..” Hyukjae shifted so he was in a better position and pressed their lips together, successfully interrupting Jongwoon’s words – it was just a gentle, soft press of lips that lasted for a few seconds before he peppered kisses on Jongwoon’s lips and cheeks.
“Hey, it’s fine, no need to explain yourself this much. I just- I just want you to tell me if you feel like this again. Be honest with me too, or else we both will suffer because of this. Knowing you can be hurting and keeping it to yourself hurts me too, you know? I need to know that you trust me enough to tell me how you feel as much as I trust you. As much as I need assurance for many things, you need too.” Hyukjae pressed another kiss to his lips, this time a little longer. “Don’t hide your thoughts from me anymore, please. Let it be a one time thing.. Please, be more open with me if you aren’t happy with something – anything between us, so we can work on it.”
“I will, I promise. I just.. Didn’t want to ruin the progress we’ve made so far by bothering you with something so stupid.” Jongwoon pressed one last kiss to Hyukjae’s lips, shifting their positions so that they were lying again though this time Hyukjae was resting on top of him. “Now I understand it was a bad decision. I’m sorry.” His hold on Hyukjae tightened just slightly. “What a way for me to ruin the mood after such a pleasant night..”
“Well, I’m glad you ruined it, though I honestly don’t think you did.” Hyukjae hid his face on Jongwoon’s neck and pressed a kiss on the skin there, shivering when he felt his hands lowering on his body. “..And honestly, if it was in another time, I would have been really mad at you for keeping this for so long. You’re lucky that you unconsciously picked a good time to talk about it, I don’t have the energy to be mad at you.” He added later as an afterthought, biting on a random spot in Jongwoon’s neck. “But if you want, we can do it again, I really don’t mind..”
“While that sounds heavenly, do you really want to? We both have an early morning tomorrow and it’s already late, I’m sure the neighbors won’t like hearing your screams..” he chuckled, tilting his head back just slightly so Hyukjae had more access to his neck, a small hum escaping him when Hyukjae sucked on the skin and bit on it. “Besides, you said you don’t have the energy.”
“Oh well, I surely don’t want you to go to bed if you are feeling bad, it’s not good for you and we can’t have that, can we?” His teeth grazed against the skin, a small chuckle leaving him when Jongwoon tensed just a little, his body shivering. “And about the energy, who said I have to be the one doing the hard work this time?” Hyukjae leaned back and smirked, seeing that familiar look in Jongwoon’s eyes that got him trembling in expectation. “What do you say, hm?”
“Hm.. I’m feeling a little bad, indeed.. I guess you’re right this time.” Jongwoon shifted their positions so that Hyukjae was under him now, pressing their lips together in a quick, teasing kiss that had Hyukjae wanting more. “So it’s my turn this time, huh?” He smirked when he noticed the look in Hyukjae’s eyes, humming pleased when Hyukjae nodded in response. “I guess we are in for a little fun before going to bed, then.”
And for the remainder of the night, the room was filled with Hyukjae’s breathy moans again, along with his pleas for please, hyung, more in that sweet, whimpery voice of his.
By the time they had finished there was just two hours before the alarm would ring but neither seemed to mind, feeling awake enough although their past activities had left them even more tired.
It was when they were almost sleeping, though, that Jongwoon promised to himself that he would leave those thoughts behind for good – it could creep back to him later, if he ever let his guard down and fed his insecurities, but this time he would try to fight it as much as he could. There was no reason for him to feel that way and he would make sure not to, because Hyukjae was doing his best for him, so he wanted to do the same for him too.
And then he fell asleep with Hyukjae on his arms, arms tight around him in a tight hug.
It took a little longer for Hyukjae to fall asleep, though, as his mind was still full with thoughts despite him feeling sleepy and tired. He thought over everything that had happened in the last few hours, until his mind got stuck on the question Jongwoon had made. Despite the bad things still coming to mind sometimes, he left no space for him to overthink any of the good things that happened – the good memories always overshadowed those, and even though it sometimes hurt to be reminded of the bad things and the situations he had to deal with, he never felt the need to change how things went. It all happened for one reason, anyways, and those reasons were why he was with Jongwoon now. There was no need to regret anything.
He blinked sleepily and sighed tiredly, already feeling sleep start to pull him in. Yeah, looking back at how things went.. he thought to himself, before sleep could claim him completely. There was nothing I would change.. he completed, eyes falling closed.
In the end, he was happy with how things had turned out for him and Jongwoon. Really happy.