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i count every kiss 'til i'm finally sleeping

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Joo-won turned over again, restless, squirming until he’d tossed the last of the covers away from him. He blinked awake slowly at the sudden coolness, turning to check the time on the alarm clock on his bedside table. Not yet five in the morning, the sky outside the windows a dim grey seeping gently through the slatted blinds. Beside him, Dong-sik lay sleeping still. Faced away from Joo-won, the subtle rise and fall of breath moving slowly through the curve of his body. He had cast off his covers, too, the unseasonal heat of the spring night visible in the sheen of sweat rising across his brown skin, the beguiling extra twist to the curl of his dark hair. 

It had taken Joo-won years to get Dong-sik to sleep at all. More time than that to get him to sleep in comfort, after twenty years of sleep snatched in rare moments of unexpected freedom from consciousness while wearing whatever clothes happened to be on his back at the time. These days, Dong-sik slept in boxers in the warmer months, and tracksuit bottoms when it was cold. Joo-won slept beside him, fastidiously turned out in neat pyjama sets, always running a little colder than Dong-sik. Grateful for the added layers on his skin and the warmth of his partner to curl around. 

This hot spell, though, had seen them kick away from each other in the night for a few weeks now, too uncomfortable to touch and too tired for anything more. The weather was all anyone could talk about – the perfect subject of conversation for small town Manyang to turn around and around and argue over from every conceivable angle. Has there ever been a spring hotter than this? Surely not! What about that one May, what was it, thirty-seven years ago now? I bet it wasn’t this hot, though, and, that too, only in April. Joo-won, for the most part, enjoyed the heat. Could tolerate it even through the weight of his full-sleeved uniform shirt and jacket, though even he had started to feel a little sapped of energy in the last couple of days. Dong-sik found it unbearable, and had started going out for his run at earlier and earlier times to escape it.

It was rare for Joo-won to get a moment like this. Awake before his partner, with no pressing commitments to draw him away from bed. Turning slightly to face Dong-sik, he watched him sleep. The steady rhythm of Dong-sik’s breath almost lulled Joo-won back to sleep before he realised what was happening and snapped himself out of the moment. Sitting up slowly, he crept out of bed and slipped out of the bedroom. Heading towards the shower, Joo-won decided he might as well get ready in the comparative cool of the morning. He would even have time to cook them a decent breakfast, with no need to get to the substation before the afternoon for his shift today. 

Stepping out of the shower once he was done, Joo-won decided it was too early and already too warm for proper clothes. Putting on a fresh pair of boxer briefs, he slipped his black silk pyjama top back over his arms, buttoning it up loosely over his chest. Leaving the matching trousers behind him in the bathroom – neatly folded, he wasn’t some kind of maniac – Joo-won headed to the kitchen. 

Joo-won was leaning over the chopping board, focused on dicing vegetables for the rolled omelettes he was planning to make, when he heard Dong-sik come into the room behind him. He turned his head, body still bent over the kitchen counter, and smiled at Dong-sik. 

“Oh, you’re up?”

“Mmm, yes. Felt you leave the bed.” Dong-sik stood in the doorway for a moment, rubbing his eyes, and looking Joo-won up and down with a slight smile on his face. Joo-won was suddenly conscious of the fact that all he was wearing was a thin silk top that skimmed the top of his thighs, and tight white boxer briefs. And that it had been, well, weeks. Dong-sik was just in his blue boxers, but he didn’t seem to feel any of the self-consciousness that Joo-won felt about these things. Or anything, really. 

Joo-won turned abruptly back to the chopping board, dicing the carrots with a little more violence than was strictly necessary. His face felt a little hot. It was ridiculous, the impact Dong-sik could have on him with just one look, all these years on. He felt Dong-sik come up behind him, his hands reaching to cover Joo-won’s, drawing them away from the counter and the knife to meet around Joo-won’s stomach, their fingers entangled.

“What are you making?”, Dong-sik mumbled, still a little sleepy, into Joo-won’s shoulder blade. 

“Eggs”, said Joo-won, a little breathless already as he leant back into Dong-sik’s hold. Dong-sik trailed his hands up Joo-won’s chest, disentangling their fingers in order to start undoing Joo-won’s shirt buttons. Joo-won scrambled to help him, his fingers skating over Dong-sik’s, his shirt quickly falling open around his collarbone and chest. Dong-sik pulled the top of the shirt down over Joo-won’s shoulders, constraining his arms, pressing close and starting to kiss across from the point of one bony shoulder towards the golden length of Joo-won’s neck. Joo-won’s breath was coming harder and faster now. Dong-sik’s mouth dragged cool and dry against the flushing skin, still slightly moist from the earlier shower. He reached up quickly to nip at Joo-won’s ear, and Joo-won moaned, grinding his hips back directly into Dong-sik’s, rewarded with a grunt and the feeling of Dong-sik starting to harden behind him.

“Sounds tasty”, Dong-sik whispered, his left hand moving lightly back and forth over the waistband of Joo-won’s briefs until he felt Joo-won shiver at the touch. He used his right hand to pull down the fabric of Joo-won’s briefs, squeezing at his cheek. Joo-won moaned again, deeper this time, only dimly aware of where he was and what Dong-sik had just said. The kitchen – oh, god – 

The rest of Joo-won’s horrified thought was pushed out of his head by the feeling of Dong-sik reaching down into his briefs with his left hand, his fingers moving gently up and down over Joo-won’s cock, a visible wet patch starting to form where the head of Joo-won’s cock was pushing against the top of his briefs. Joo-won struggled to collect himself against the feeling of that light, too light, maddening touch.

“This is–”, fuck, he could feel Dong-sik behind him now, fully hard, grinding into him in time with the stroke of his fingers over Joo-won’s cock, “–really unhygienic, hyung, oh fuck–”. Joo-won was pinned between his lover’s hand and his cock, wriggling, and his legs were really starting to tremble.

“Call me that again”, Dong-sik whispered, voice husky.

Hyung hyung, please”, Joo-won groaned, his voice gone so deep it was barely audible, and he felt Dong-sik get even harder behind him, his cock grinding into the cleft of Joo-won’s arse through the cloth of his boxers. 

Joo-won only ever called him that at home, between them. Everywhere else, he was Lee Dong-sik-ssi. Joo-won knew it was an illogical mental rule. Nobody in Manyang could miss the relationship between them, especially not with Dong-sik’s stubborn insistence on holding Joo-won’s hand in public, and at gatherings with their friends. But something about the self-consciousness he felt permanently anyway and the difference in their ages made him want to shield away all the intimacy that he could, store it privately between the four walls of their home. A somewhat unintended consequence of this was the way Dong-sik got absolutely desperate whenever he deigned to use the honorific, which definitely wasn’t a fact Joo-won held in his head for reassurance when he was tempted to feel insecure over just how universally caring Dong-sik was towards every dongsaeng he’d ever had.

Dong-sik seemed to realise that Joo-won had drifted away a little internally, and brought him back to himself with a hard squeeze around his cock and a prolonged grind against his arse, so firm it bent Joo-won over the counter, his face coming dangerously close to the carrots he’d been chopping earlier. The omelettes, fuck – Joo-won had changed a lot for this man, but he drew the line at sex in his otherwise perfectly ordered kitchen. 

“S-standing up?”, he stuttered, gasping in a breath when Dong-sik reached down to cup his balls and stroke a finger down towards his hole. “Might be a little hard on your back, old man”, he teased with a smile in his voice. Dong-sik let out a bitten-off growl at that, bringing his hand back up to thumb roughly over the head of Joo-won’s cock, making Joo-won squeal. Joo-won brought his hand down over Dong-sik’s, trying to slow him down, and turned his head to face him. He kissed Dong-sik lightly, a little awkwardly at that angle, and then pulled back to look into his eyes. Dong-sik met his gaze, and then they both laughed, the heat of the moment cracking into something a little warmer, more gentle. 

Joo-won ran his eyes over Dong-sik, unable to resist lingering over the beauty of the laugh lines around his eyes, feeling a faint blush of pride at the way they had deepened over the years into familiar grooves, carving out the shape of a face dearer to Joo-won than his own. Dong-sik’s eyes were just as caught on him, he knew that, could feel the warming pressure of them always, whenever they were together. Dong-sik stepped away from him then, ever so slightly, giving Joo-won the room to push him back a little further. Joo-won put his hand on Dong-sik’s arm and pulled him out of the kitchen, towards the bedroom.

 


 

The first time that Joo-won had convinced Dong-sik to fuck him, it had been Dong-sik who had cried. Months of desperate, yearning, fumbling, happy lessons in learning how to satisfy each other had led up to that point. Nights of Dong-sik tenderly using his mouth on Joo-won, making him slowly shake apart into an uncontrollable, trembling mess, leading Joo-won to forget himself enough that he came, shaking, in Dong-sik’s mouth. Stolen away encounters in the middle of the day when they could snatch the time, hungry for each other in those early days past the point of reason or sense. Joo-won kissing Dong-sik, sucking his tongue into his mouth as he frantically brought him off with his hand, swallowing his groans. 

Dong-sik had been pretty persuasive on the idea that they didn’t need to do anything more than that to be happy with each other, that the last thing he wanted was for one of them to hurt the other ever again. It had only been the strength of Joo-won’s curiosity and Dong-sik’s complete weakness in the face of Joo-won’s pleas that had finally led them to try. It had been awkward. A little messy. Very messy, actually, since neither of them knew what to do with lube or any of the other aids to anal sex. Joo-won, whose experience prior to Dong-sik was limited to a few rushed mutual handjobs at boarding school, and the very occasional one night stand in adult life back in Seoul when the tension inside his head needed an outlet, had been completely unprepared for the intensity of physical feeling that came with being fucked, with Dong-sik actually being – inside of him. 

Dong-sik had been so slow and careful that there had been no pain, only at times a sharp twinge of discomfort, but Joo-won had felt more overwhelmed than he was able to put into words afterwards, like he was drowning in Dong-sik, being consumed by him. He had been breathing hard from the moment Dong-sik’s cock was a couple of inches inside him, and by the time Dong-sik actually began to thrust, Joo-won had started to hyperventilate. Dong-sik had pulled out straight away, so careful even when he had been starting to panic himself. Had calmed Joo-won down, and then laid down next to him, side by side, his hand stroking over Joo-won’s skin until he was completely still again. When Joo-won had collected himself enough to look up at Dong-sik’s face in front of him, to meet his lover’s eyes, they were raw and red from his distress. Joo-won had raised his own hand, a little breathless and shaky still, to wipe away Dong-sik’s tears.

They had tried again, after that. After the space of a few weeks to move on from that first attempt, Joo-won had known that if he waited any longer, he’d never try again, and he knew that wasn’t what he wanted, at least not without one more chance. Dong-sik had sighed at his doggedness; given in, again. They had taken it even more slowly, more carefully, and Joo-won had been more prepared for the peculiar intensity of feeling, of being utterly grounded in his own body and feeling every sensation over every inch of skin with a specificity he had never sought out or reached at any other time. Dong-sik had still cried, but this time it had been when he met Joo-won’s gaze while thrusting into him. Joo-won, mussed up hair stuck to his forehead with sweat and his eyes blown huge and dark, lashes fluttering down to cover them briefly at the force of each thrust of Dong-sik’s cock into his tight hole. He had smiled up at Dong-sik, a small, private curl of his kiss-swollen lips, and Dong-sik had lost control, thrusting unevenly into Joo-won and coming before either of them had fully realised it was happening. Afterwards, his cock softening inside Joo-won, his face hidden in the curve of Joo-won’s neck, Dong-sik had whispered into Joo-won’s ear, and Joo-won had felt the wetness of Dong-sik’s tears on his collarbone.

“I love you, I love you, I love you so–” was all he had managed to choke out before he had started sobbing, and Joo-won had brought his own hands up to Dong-sik’s hair by then, stroking through it with lightly trembling fingers.

“I love you, too, hyung. Love you so much. Love you”, he had got out, before Dong-sik leant up on his elbows and kissed him, open-mouthed and messy, kissing him until his cock finally slipped out of Joo-won’s wet hole and both of them had stopped crying.

After that, sex had become much easier between them, a level of trust and comfort and a depth of vulnerability that Joo-won would have found terrifying and impossible to achieve with anyone else. Had not thought he had the capacity for, before Dong-sik. Dong-sik had fucked Joo-won, and Joo-won had fucked Dong-sik. The latter a lot less often, because Dong-sik, if anything, found the intensity even harder to bear than Joo-won had at first. He found it impossible to come with Joo-won inside him, even though he found pleasure in the feeling of being fucked.

They did it very rarely, but Joo-won loved the feeling of Dong-sik opening up for him, clenching around his fingers and then his dick, putting his arms around Joo-won’s neck and letting Joo-won fuck him until he came. He loved it even more afterwards, when he pulled out of Dong-sik and made him come with Joo-won’s mouth around his dick and his fingers back inside Dong-sik, rubbing up against his prostate until he was overwhelmed and screaming, pulling his mouth off so Dong-sik could come on his face and against his own stomach and chest and look like the most gorgeous mess Joo-won had ever seen in his life.

More than that, though, Joo-won had come to love bottoming. The fullness and the pressure of it. The power of drawing Dong-sik into himself, enclosing him in his own body, more intimate than anyone else had been or ever would be with his hyung. These days, and on this particular day, too, there was an ease and a pleasure to it that Joo-won couldn’t get enough of, whenever Dong-sik hyung was in the mood to take him there. 

 


 

Once they were in the bedroom, Joo-won reached for the condoms and lube. Well-stocked and neatly packed in his bedside table, because he didn’t trust Dong-sik not to lose track of quantities and buy more before they had run out, and if there was one thing Joo-won hated – and he did understand the irony here, yes – it was mess and disorder. Handjobs and blowjobs were fine bare, because it was Dong-sik, but fucking without condoms pushed Joo-won past the limit of cleanliness he was able to bear. Dong-sik understood, of course, because when did he not. 

They had it down to a routine, and Joo-won loved it. Joo-won didn’t tell Dong-sik this, because he was pretty sure hyung would find the idea of routine insulting in this context, but there was nothing Joo-won loved more than establishing a pleasing order and process to things, never more so than when that order was achieved hand in hand with hyung and the process led to him being fucked into the mattress so well his voice was hoarse from screaming. 

Today, it was Dong-sik sitting back on the bed, his boxers off, a large, clean towel beneath him – Joo-won really loved his hyung – and beckoning Joo-won to join him. Ahh, Position Three, Sub-position B, the lap sit, Joo-won thought to himself with the tiniest of giggles, getting on the bed and crawling over to where Dong-sik sat. Dong-sik peeled his briefs off him, but caught Joo-won’s wrists in one of his own when he moved to try and take his shirt off, and that was interesting, to be filed away for future examination in Joo-won’s lifelong quest to drive his hyung out of his mind – the good kind of out of his mind, though, these days – but there was no more time to think about that because his hyung’s fingers, slick with lube, were circling his hole.

Joo-won settled himself more firmly in Dong-sik’s lap, sucking a sharp breath in through his teeth at the first press of two wet fingers into his hole. He looked into Dong-sik’s eyes as his hyung started to finger him. He absolutely loved the vulnerability of Dong-sik’s eyes when he was fingering Joo-won. The way they were so open and loving, tinged with the edge of fear that he might cause pain – a ridiculous fear when Dong-sik was the most gentle person Joo-won had ever met in his life. The way his hyung was always torn between looking up to meet Joo-won’s gaze and looking down to stare in fascination at his own fingers disappearing into the dark pink softness of Joo-won’s hole.

After a few minutes of Dong-sik’s fingers in him, opening him up, Joo-won stopped him, and Dong-sik slowly pulled out. Joo-won knelt up fully, grasping Dong-sik’s cock, adding the slickness of lube to its flushed red length and sitting back down as he pulled it inside of himself. Joo-won gasped at the initial burn, the way the head always felt impossibly full to take no matter how familiar his hole was with the feeling of being stretched out on Dong-sik’s cock. He brought his hands up to his lover’s chest, moving them restlessly over the compact firmness of it as he slid slowly down around the length of his cock. 

Joo-won’s hands moved down, one stroking lovingly over the permanent slight softness of Dong-sik’s stomach. The other down further still, fingertips tangling through the soft hair around the base of his lover’s cock, drawing a gasp out of himself when he traced up to the softness where their bodies were joined, the skin of his rim thin and wet around the cock inside him. His own cock, half-hard until then, started to draw up to its full length, the head purpling. Joo-won pulled a choked off breath out of Dong-sik when his hand stroked down to his balls. His fingers cupped and gently pulled and squeezed at them, getting them wet using the lube squelching out of his hole and down Dong-sik’s cock as he finally finished sinking down on it, moving his hand away as his hyung finally bottomed out.

“Sweetheart – that feels – so good. Please, move? Please?”, Dong-sik pleaded with him, his hands fisted in the sheets beneath him but his gaze searing into Joo-won, burning him up from the inside out, so unfair, when his cock was already doing that, too.

“Yes”, Joo-won gasped out, and then he leant back, gripping Dong-sik’s thighs under his hands for leverage, and started to slide up and down the slick length of his lover’s cock. They fucked like this for a while, slow and heavy, as the dawn light started to break through into the room. The warmth crept in from outside the house and a steady burn built in Joo-won’s stomach from the heft of Dong-sik’s cock inside him. The heat of it all brought sweat beading out all over Joo-won’s body. It slicked the grip of his hands on Dong-sik’s thighs until he had to dig his nails in for purchase, drawing a full-throated groan out of his hyung with the movement.

Dong-sik moved his hands up from the sheets to undo the last of the buttons on Joo-won’s nightshirt and pull it open. The uneven catch of his callouses gently abraded the smooth silk hanging loose around Joo-won’s frame, his hands cinching it in with a firm grip around Joo-won’s slim waist. Dong-sik leant forward then, opening his mouth around one of Joo-won’s small pink nipples, tonguing at it wetly and biting down gently when Joo-won started to moan at the sensation. He kissed his way over to the other nipple, dragging his mouth over the sweat of Joo-won’s skin, moving between them until Joo-won moaned continuously, his nipples turning puffy and red from the strain of Dong-sik sucking at them. Joo-won continued to fuck himself up and down on Dong-sik’s cock, his movements turning jerky as he started to feel overwhelmed, tears welling at the corners of his eyes.

“Enough, hyung – please”, Joo-won whispered, his voice raw and his thighs trembling with the strain as he tried to lift himself again and failed, sinking back down fully onto his lover’s cock all at once with a shocked groan.

“Of course, sweetheart – darling – tell me what you need”, Dong-sik hyung cupped Joo-won’s face in his hand, stroking gently at his cheek. Joo-won leant into the touch, turning his head to kiss the palm of his hyung’s hand.

“I can’t, anymore – can you – can you fuck me, please, hyung, touch me”, Joo-won moaned out the plea, keeping his face hidden in Dong-sik hyung’s hand, knowing he wouldn’t survive the look in his hyung’s eyes at those words.

“Darling–”, and that’s all Dong-sik hyung managed to get out before he moved his hands down to Joo-won’s hips, lifting him up and pulling him back down onto his cock, fucking him raw and unrelenting. The trembling in Joo-won’s thighs spread out to all of his limbs. He turned his face to look at hyung, and he’d been right, it was too much, the naked adoration that Joo-won knew he didn’t deserve, didn’t deserve from this man in particular. He bent down to kiss him, but at the same time his hyung grounded his feet more firmly on the bed and moved his hands on Joo-won’s hips to adjust the angle of his thrusts slightly and – oh, fuck – he was thrusting directly against Joo-won’s prostate –

Joo-won screamed.

Dong-sik hyung kept going, his cock dragging over that spot again and again on each thrust, the force with which he was fucking Joo-won not letting up, Joo-won’s hands displaced from his thighs by the strength of his thrusts –

Joo-won screamed again, and then he started to wail continuously, feeling like the breath was being pushed out of him on every push of Dong-sik hyung’s cock into his hole. He collapsed down onto his hyung’s chest, hands clinging around his neck.

Dong-sik hyung still wasn’t letting up, but Joo-won could tell he was close now. 

“Darling – Joo-won-ah – sweetheart –”, a muttered litany under his breath with his every thrust up, now starting to lose focus, the rhythm becoming uneven –

Joo-won shrieked as Dong-sik hyung finally moved to grasp Joo-won’s red cock, slick with precome, jerking his hand up and down the wet length of it for what felt like no time at all until –

“I’m coming, hyung, I’m coming”, Joo-won moaned, hoarse, coming all over Dong-sik hyung’s hand and his own stomach, his body continuing to shake through the aftershocks of it as Dong-sik hyung kept fucking him – 

“Joo-won-ah, darling, Joo-won-ah, I–”, and then Dong-sik hyung came, too, his thrusts starting to slow inside Joo-won only when Joo-won was visibly trembling on the edge of overstimulation, and then finally coming to a halt. 

Dong-sik hyung pulled out slowly, straining up to kiss softly at Joo-won’s mouth when he winced at the feeling. He started to move Joo-won off him gently so he could get off the bed and get rid of his condom, and that’s when Joo-won realised, in his waning post-orgasmic haze, just how stiff his thighs were. He let out a small scream of discomfort as he tipped sideways onto the bed, his right leg starting to cramp and his left leg too numb to move after being held in that position for so long. Dong-sik hyung turned straight around at the sound, running frantically back to the bed, half-tied condom dangling from one hand, only to be kicked away hard by one of Joo-won’s legs as he rolled back and forth on the bed, trying to ease the pain in his thighs.

“It’s a good thing we have no dignity left to save with each other, hyung ”, Joo-won said some minutes later, in the aftermath of the chaos. He was sitting on the bed now, Dong-sik next to him. Dong-sik looked up at Joo-won, hands still on his thighs, gently massaging the soreness out of them. Cupping a hand at the back of Joo-won’s neck, Dong-sik turned his head towards him, resting their foreheads together

“Joo-won-ah – the things you to do me –”

“Well, hyung, to be fair, I think it was you doing things to me this time round that –”

“Brat. Stop giggling.”

“Old man.”

“Snooty young master.”

“You love me for it.”

“I do, I love you –”

“I love you too, hyung. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”

One of the best things about this routine with hyung, in Joo-won’s view, was that he was so reliably struck dumb every time Joo-won expressed a sincere emotion for longer than a sentence at a time. This despite the fact that Joo-won did it every time, his tongue loosened in the afterglow. Joo-won watched the blush spread over Dong-sik’s face, caught the pleased crinkle of his eyes even though he turned his face down to stare intently at the movement of his hands, avoiding Joo-won’s gaze. Joo-won stared intently and felt his heart clench with a feeling of such intensity it was almost like pain. Beneath Dong-sik’s patient fingers, his muscles began to unwind, his lanky frame sprawled further and further out across their bed with each unwinding knot of tension. Joo-won would stay like this forever, if he could. He dozed off on that thought, safe under the warmth of Dong-sik’s hands.

Dong-sik woke him up a little later, helping him into the shower. They showered together under lukewarm water, both a little stiff and sore. Joo-won massaged shower gel into Dong-sik’s skin, paying special attention to his bad thigh, before moving up to lather his hair through with shampoo, giggling as he shaped Dong-sik’s hair into a fauxhawk under the water. Dong-sik affected a longsuffering posture as he patiently let Joo-won mess with him, but the shadow of a smile was never far from his face. Then it was Dong-sik’s turn. He carefully rinsed the dried stickiness of lube from Joo-won’s thighs, and then knelt down to check his softened hole for any tears or bleeding with two very gentle fingers. The openness of this reliably mortified Joo-won, turning his face beet-red. Dong-sik insisted upon it always in any case, and Joo-won definitely wouldn’t have been able to wriggle out of it after lovemaking as intense as this morning’s had been. 

When Dong-sik stood back up again, Joo-won covered his embarrassment with closeness, leaning in to kiss Dong-sik under the falling water, long and slow. Joo-won loved the way that Dong-sik kissed him after sex. Deep and open, because it was impossible to hide after the honesty with which they always fucked. Warm and unhurried, because Joo-won knew that Dong-sik never felt more secure than in these times in the fact that Joo-won was his – really his – really wanted him, and this, over any of the imagined glories of the life that Dong-sik thought Joo-won had found it difficult to leave for him. 

As if there was anything Joo-won wouldn’t leave behind in order to hold on to the best man he had ever met. Anything he wouldn’t do to make him happy, counting his dumb luck every day that what seemed to make him happiest of all was, for some reason, him: Han Joo-won. On the mellow warmness of that thought, Joo-won started to drift away from their kiss and into sleep again.

Joo-won opened his eyes. Dong-sik was pulling his pyjamas up over his legs and tucking him carefully into bed. The sheets felt very soft against his skin.

Joo-won blinked open again and looked directly into Dong-sik’s eyes. Dong-sik was watching him, a smile on his face. The smile that Joo-won knew Dong-sik saved for Joo-won alone, immeasurably precious.

“Go back to sleep again, Joo-won-ah. I’ll wake you before you have to start the day”, whispered Dong-sik, words weighted with a tenderness that sank deeply into Joo-won’s skin.

Joo-won reached out his hand blindly as his eyes closed again, groping for Dong-sik’s hand. Finding it, he entwined their fingers, rubbing the pad of his thumb over the smoothness of his partner’s wrist, in circles, in figures of eight, in circles again –

Joo-won slept.