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let me show you, cause talk is cheap

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An ex-boyfriend once told Jeonghan he was on the wrong career path, that he should’ve been an actor, not a model. That he’s done a good job, maybe too good of a job, of concealing his real feelings in favor of behaving the way everyone needed to. 

When the door had slammed in his face and he found himself curled on the couch, fingers tight around the neck of a bottle of soju, apartment glaringly empty, Jeonghan realized with a start, that there was truth to be found in the scathing insult. 

He’s put on an act for 22 years as the brave one, volatile sometimes, but brave: carrying as much of Seungcheol and Joshua’s burdens as he possibly could handle, being their set of shoulders in the middle to cry on. The glue, Junhui would joke, holding the string that ties the three of them together, putting all his energy into keeping it alive no matter how costly the effort may be. Like a fool in love, he figures, his true vulnerability buried so deep down Jeonghan himself hasn’t been able to reach it in years. 

He was the brave one when they were 13 and Seungcheol and Joshua had kissed for the first time in front of him in a game of spin the bottle and he had to pretend like he didn’t want to throw up every meal he’s ever consumed right then and there at the look of pure affection they both gave each other as they finally pulled away.

He was the brave one when they were 17 and Seungcheol had The Fight with his parents and showed up at Jeonghan’s doorstep with tears streaming down his face, backpack slung over his shoulder and Midi keyboard under his arm. 

He was the brave one when they were 21 and he woke up to a very naked Joshua and Seungcheol on either side of him, their limbs tangled together in some wonderfully intimate design, knowing what brought them together was something far beyond lust.

He was the brave one when they were 26 and Jaebeom proposed to Joshua and he had to spend the whole night caring for an inconsolable Seungcheol, who genuinely couldn’t explain why he was so upset. When he was consoling Joshua five months later, who genuinely couldn’t explain why he broke off his near perfect engagement. 

He was the brave one just a month ago, when the air between the three of them was thicker than it ever had been, brought about by a harmonic, overpowering feeling for someone they were most definitely not allowed to have said feeling for. When they faced what they were dancing around for two decades, and agreed there was more than enough room for one more. 

Every act must come to a close, Jeonghan figures, as he stares at the closed door like it’s personally wronged him in some way, resolve crumbling, trying to piece together the events of the last fifteen minutes. 

“Wh- why- I don’t-” Joshua tries, eyes trained on the same spot as Jeonghan. Seungcheol is still standing by the entrance, his lips still parted helplessly around Mingyu’s name. Eventually, he regains some composure, fixing Jeonghan the most devastating, confused look ever, already big eyes impossibly wider, tears threatening to fall. He looks years younger. 

“Why, why did he leave?” Seungcheol asks, so softly, so brokenly. 

He’s never had to be the brave one more than he does now, looking back and forth between the two of them who look like the universe has collapsed all around them and they were helpless to stop it. He wants to, he should , take them into his arms like he always has and tell them everything will work itself out, that they have nothing to worry about because we all have each other

Except, the words each other no longer feel like they apply to the three of them. Except, every act must come to a close and Jeonghan doesn’t think he can be brave for a second longer. It does feel like the world is ending, that the sun has exploded and he’s burning so slowly from the inside out. 

“Hannie?” Joshua asks, eyebrows furrowed in concern at Jeonghan’s protracted silence. 

“Isn’t it obvious?” Jeonghan croaks out, voice foreign to his own ears. “He doesn’t want us, clearly.” Jeonghan realizes how foolish it is that they hadn’t even considered the possibility. Fools in love. 

“Do you really think so?” Seungcheol asks, curling in on himself with insecurity. 

Jeonghan laughs incredulously, mirthlessly. “We try to tell him we love him and he runs out of here like we were going to throw him into a torture chamber, what do you think was the reason? I don’t know why we would just assume he was going to run into our arms with ease, are we forgetting why we met him in the first place? To pay his fucking rent! He’s twenty two years old with his entire future ahead of him, for gods’ sake. How could we be so stupid?” he rambles, mostly berating himself, but he sees the both of them wince out of the corner of his eye. 

“Jeonghan, you’re making it sound like he just saw us as a bank account,” Joshua says, quietly. Jeonghan scoffs.

And deep down, or maybe, not even so deep, Jeonghan knows it’s not true. Because Kim Mingyu, good, too good, kindhearted, bright Mingyu who fit so seamlessly in between the three of them, couldn’t possibly have a manipulative bone in his body. But it’s easier this way, childish as it may be, it’s always easier to be angry, to let its fire consume and take and grow. 

“Don’t be so naive, Shua, you know I’m right.”

“No, no, we don’t, and you don’t think so either,” Seungcheol says, taking a step forward, his expression turned stony with determination. “It doesn’t have to be like this, Jeonghan, this is fixable, we don’t know the whole story, and there’s no point in jumping to conclusions. Seungcheol lifts a hand to tuck a lock of Jeonghan’s freshly washed hair behind his ear, a soft, albeit still sad, smile creeping up on his face. “This- this isn’t over. Do you want it to be over?”

“No, I don’t,” Jeonghan says, with a deep sigh, resting his forehead on Seungcheol’s shoulder. “I just- what if it doesn’t work out?”

“Then it doesn’t work out, and we still have each other,” Seungcheol replies, reciting Jeonghan’s own words back to him just as Joshua walks over and wraps his arms around Jeonghan’s waist from behind.

“Love can’t always be as easy as it was with us,” Joshua says, sarcastically, and they all laugh together, shuffling their way to the couch, arms still wrapped tightly around each other.

Jeonghan pouts, intertwining his and Joshua’s fingers over his lap, head still resting on Seungcheol’s shoulder. “Boys are so silly, why did we fall for another one?”

“Because he’s as close to perfect as a boy can get, and makes us happier than we’ve been in, well, ever,” Seungcheol replies.

“Touché.”

——

Dejectedly setting his plate down at the table, Mingyu mutters a quiet good morning to his parents and his sister, slowly pulling out a chair to take his seat.

“Mingyu, don’t forget, we have that tour at the building for your internship on Thursday,” his dad says, instead of any sort of real greeting whatsoever. Mingyu just nods, shoveling some eggs into his mouth. 

“Eat slowly,” his mother scolds, tapping at his plate with her fork. Mingyu resists the urge to roll his eyes: the quicker he scarfs this down, the sooner he can meet Minghao and Seokmin at the park. 

He rushes out the door twenty minutes later, camera slung around his neck via the beaded strap Joshua made for him.

“You’re still doing the photo stuff?” his dad asks from the living room, eyes narrowed in suspicion, peering up from his newspaper. Mingyu goes silent, lips pursed in submission. “I suppose it’s good for you to have a hobby. Don’t let it distract you from the real work, though.” Mingyu just nods in response, running out the door and down the street, heart pounding with anxiety. 

Seokmin and Minghao are already there once Mingyu finally finishes the trek down to the creek. He lifts his camera up to take a shot of them laughing by one of the large willow trees before they notice him. They turn around when they hear the shutter go off, grinning widely once they register his presence.

“You’re such a creep,” Minghao says, with a laugh, shoving at Mingyu’s shoulder. Mingyu shrugs.

“Best pictures are always candid.”

When they come down here, by the water, surrounded by towering trees and scuttering wildlife, Mingyu can so easily pretend they’re 17 all over again. 17, the age romanticized in movies and song lyrics, and rightfully so. 17, when it didn’t matter that Mingyu didn’t know what the fuck he wanted to do with his life besides sit right here and capture his two favorite people in the world on film.  

He sits on a fallen branch, playing mindlessly with the strap of his camera, staring out at the creek to the other side. Minghao and Seokmin flank him a few moments later, Seokmin nudging at his shoulder with a small, questioning noise. 

“It’s like you’re putting your thoughts through a loudspeaker, Gyu-ah. What’s on your mind?” Seokmin asks, kindly. 

“Can’t you guess?” Minghao replies, with a snort. Seokmin glares at him.

Mingyu’s established a staunch We-Don’t-Talk-About-It policy. He came home that afternoon from Jeonghan’s with no other explanation other than a shake of his head and a three day self-imposed isolation that basically answered any and all of their questions. 

Looking down at his camera in embarrassment, and also to distract himself from the thoughts that threaten to come with Minghao’s reminder, Mingyu slowly flicks through all the photos he’s taken since the last time he downloaded the roll. Most of the ones at the beginning are from the past week he’s been home, of Seokmin and Minghao, a few of his sister, mostly candids, and he smiles softly at the bright faces of the people he loves so dearly. 

Then, not much later, he reaches the plethora of images he dreads to relive. When the first picture of a tipsy Seungcheol yelling at the Mario Kart game on the TV pops up, Mingyu knows the next three hundred pictures or so are sure to cause him irreparable heart damage. 

He doesn’t know why he keeps scrolling. 

There’s all the pictures from the beach: the ones of Jeonghan against the sunset, Seungcheol driving on the way there with the car’s top down, Joshua on the master bedroom balcony staring out at the cloudless sky. There’s one of his favorite shots: the picture of the three of them curled up on the couch, warmth exuding from the camera from how snugly they’re cuddled together. There’s the dozens of pictures from Tokyo, from Seungcheol’s living room, from San Francisco, from the playground by Mingyu’s apartment, from New York City, from Joshua’s car. 

Each one screams that it was taken by someone who is in love, undoubtedly so. It makes him sick. 

“Mingyu-yah,” Seokmin calls, softly, reaching a hand up to brush at Mingyu’s cheek, and Mingyu realizes only then that he’s started crying. 

Quite suddenly, Minghao snatches the camera out of his hand, causing the strap to pull at his neck, making Mingyu yelp in alarm. The younger aggressively presses the back button, flying through the pictures until he reaches the set from Tokyo, stopping on a photo of Joshua and Mingyu that Jeonghan took, one of the only ones Mingyu was actually in. 

“Look at this,” Minghao commands, putting the camera back in Mingyu’s hands. Mingyu furrows his eyebrows, looking at the image: the two of them sat on a park bench in front of a cherry blossom tree, except, in this one, Joshua isn’t looking at the camera, he’s looking up, and over, ever so slightly, at Mingyu, who’s grinning widely, a tiny smile on his face. 

Mingyu swallows, taking in Joshua’s expression, the fondness he’s come to recognize in the way he looks at his two now-boyfriends unmistakable all over it. He analyzes the way the photo was taken: aesthetically, the best approach would’ve been to focus on the cherry blossoms in the background, to take it a little farther away than Jeonghan had, the two of them closer to the bottom. Yet, the flowers are barely existent in this picture, them taking up the majority of the frame, the warmth behind the shot so palpable that Mingyu’s heart actually stutters in his chest. There’s something there, too much there, that Mingyu doesn’t think he can even put his finger on it.

“You always say people can express their emotions through a camera, so look at this, and tell me what you see,” Minghao says, sternly. 

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Minghao,” Mingyu replies, quietly. Minghao scoffs, standing up with a hand on his hip in exasperation. 

You are a coward,” Minghao says, finger jabbing into Mingyu’s chest. 

Minghao ,” Seokmin chides, squeezing at Mingyu’s hand, who flounders around his words, trying to develop an appropriate insult to shoot back with.

“Why are you so damn passive? You just take all the shit the world throws at you and ignore all chances of happiness that are right in fucking front of you!” Minghao takes the camera out of Mingyu’s hand again, screen still facing Mingyu, flicking back to the photo before: one of Mingyu’s personal favorite shots, Joshua and Jeonghan standing in the middle of a path in the park, the wind blowing a whole branchful of cherry blossom petals all around them. 

“You’re talented, Mingyu, and skilled, and,” he flips back to the picture of Mingyu and Joshua, “you are loved . This image is toothrottingly, disgustingly sweet, I can’t even look at it for more than two fucking seconds. You not being able to see that tells me that you don’t want to see it, which, I just don’t understand. You’re all of these things and yet you’ve been ghosting them for weeks and you’re starting a job in two months that’s basically the manifestation of all your worst nightmares.”

Mingyu doesn’t respond for a while, choosing to stare out at the creek and let Minghao’s harsh, but painfully truthful words wash over him. 

“It doesn’t make sense,” Mingyu eventually says, quietly, so quietly it makes Minghao freeze, eyes narrowed, lips parted around another rebuttal. “ Tell me how it makes sense to reject a stable, entry-level job that aligns with my degree that will have me set for life and go and pursue a precarious career in photography . Tell me how it makes sense that three thirty-two year old celebrities who’ve been in love with each other for longer than I’ve been alive would want me to just… join their relationship. Please, do enlighten me.” 

“It doesn’t have to make sense!” Seokmin cries, startling the both of them, Mingyu nearly falling off of the branch in alarm. “You will never be happy, you’ve never been happy, chasing stability, chasing what makes sense . What you have in front of you is a chance to have things that will make you happy, make you so, so very happy.”

Seokmin sighs, running a hand through his hair. “You’re thinking about the end. You’re thinking about the what ifs and the hardships and the concerns, but what if it all worked out, what if you found the permanence you want in the life you want? Have you considered that possibility? Because it very much is one.” 

“You are in love : with a career that loves you back, with three people, who unequivocally love you back. Love may not be stable but you’ll never need to chase it, because it’ll always latch itself onto you and take you where you need to be, where the joy is,” Minghao adds, sitting back down next to Mingyu. 

Bottom lip trembling, Mingyu curls in on himself, heart pounding as his stomach twists with regret and yearning. 

“I don’t want to do all this, I don’t want to leave them, and I don’t want this fucking job,” Mingyu admits, softly. Seokmin hums. 

“We know you don’t,” he replies, pressing a chaste kiss to the side of Mingyu’s head. “And you don’t have to.”

“I don’t know if I’m brave enough to not.”

“You are. You may not believe it, but we do. You are so brave, and you’ll always have us, no matter what,” Minghao says, head against Mingyu’s shoulder. And Mingyu has no choice, nothing else left to do, other than trust him. 

When the sun starts to set, the three of them head out of the park, and down to the diner they frequented as high schoolers. They giggle and bicker over breakfast-for-dinner before going to the convenience store next door, picking up two six packs of beer and three armfuls worth of snacks which they devour at the curb between Minghao and Seokmin’s houses. 

“I should probably go home, now, guys,” Mingyu says, with a nervous glance at his phone. “Um, have to help my sister with, um, chores.”

Seokmin rolls his eyes. “You’ve been checking your phone for the time for the past hour, and you so specifically try to head out at 11:45 on a Thursday evening. If there’s a Trauma release you want to listen to, just say so.” 

“It’s the mixtape, isn’t it?” Minghao asks, sluggishly slinging an arm around Seokmin’s shoulder, empty beer bottle clinking against the asphalt. 

“How-”

“You must realize by now that they’re still like half of what you ever talk about. It’s been that way since high school , even though one of them is your sugar daddy and the other has walked in on you showering twice which is two times too many,” Seokmin says.

“My god, imagine if we told 15 year old Mingyu that in seven years he’d be getting paid to fuck Choi Seungcheol,” Minghao interjects, throwing his head back in full-bodied laughter.

“I’m not getting paid to fu-”

“Probably would come in his pants on the spot.”

“Okay, fuck you guys, I’m going to miss the drop.” 

“It’s a compliment!” Seokmin calls.

“And you realize the album isn’t going to just disappear at 12:01, right?” Minghao adds.

Mingyu shakes his head in exasperation as he hurriedly continues in the other direction, down the street towards his house, offering nothing but his middle finger raised in the air in goodbye. 

He makes it back up to his room at exactly 11:59, changing into sweatpants and his Ideal Cut Finale t-shirt before crawling under his covers, excitedly shoving his headphones on and rapidly refreshing Seungcheol’s Twitter. 

Despite everything, despite literally having not spoken to him in weeks, Mingyu is beyond excited for the release of the mixtape. He’s gotten the privilege of seeing firsthand how hard Seungcheol has worked on this: how much energy, dedication, diligence, and heart he’s put into every single song. It’s not too difficult for Mingyu to put his personal feelings aside and put all of himself into appreciating Seungcheol’s artistry. 

Heart nearly jumping out of his chest, Mingyu fumbles to press play when the album finally loads, the intro promptly flowing into his ears. In accordance with the little snippets Seungcheol had given him all those months ago, the album is largely R&B, and more surprisingly, vocal heavy. 

It’s really all so romantic , the sounds, the lyrics, and if Mingyu were any other ordinary Trauma fan, if this were just a year ago, he would’ve been utterly taken aback. Except, he’s seen the real behind the scenes, all the moments Seungcheol must have derived inspiration from, and of course, it all makes sense. 

Mingyu can’t help but smile as he listens, closing his eyes, listening to the odes of Seungcheol’s love wash over him. And perhaps, he shouldn’t have to put his personal feelings aside, because, it makes him feel good : hearing affection so wholly authentic only serves to reignite the elation that used to come with the near overwhelming love he keeps so deep in his own heart. He lets himself pull it out of its hiding place, for the first time in forever, just for a little bit. It doesn’t feel so wrong, anymore. 

Seungcheol raps and sings mostly of the fear that comes with love, and of accepting it, instead of simply overcoming it. That love is forever terrifying, because of how expansive it is in nature, but what’s important, what signifies a true love is inventing your own space, your language, for you and the ones you love. Defying limitations, settling afloat, adrift like a cloud in an endless sky. It strikes something in Mingyu’s chest, everything twisting tight as he takes in the lyrics of each song. 

His heart nearly stops all together, however, when he reaches the interlude towards the end of the album. It starts off simply, a simple acoustic instrumental that betrays nothing out of the ordinary. Then the instrumental fades out, almost completely, and the sound of a phone crackling fades in. And nothing could prepare Mingyu for what he hears next.

Mm, that one is a butterfly. I think,” Mingyu’s own voice says, flowing through his headphones. “ See the wings and…” Pause. “ Fuck, it’s gone. ” 

Just like a real butterfly, I guess. Fragile ,” Seungcheol responds. 

Isn’t it sad? They’re so beautiful but they can break, just like that, between your fingers. You can look as much as you’d like but you can never touch .”

How did you manage to make cloud watching so deep? ” 

The Mingyu on the song then laughs loudly, his voice fading back into the instrumental, which transitions seamlessly into the next song. The Mingyu who is currently caught in a new level of shock swallows, turning his phone back on to nervously check the title, which is, sure enough, Butterfly.

And he’d have to be truly, wholly oblivious, to not realize this song is about him. It’s a direct reflection of all the turbulent emotions Mingyu’s held for the past few months, the fear that the relationship between him and the three of them was concretely temporary. The realization that an expiry date had been tagged on from the start, and the foolish desire to never let go, to stop time and let a hopeless dream become reality. 

Perhaps, it was never so foolish, never so hopeless after all. 

And once the final chorus finishes and the same instrumental plays again, Mingyu has another startling realization: that this was the exact same sentiment relayed in the picture Minghao had shoved in his face earlier that he had then failed to recognize, despite it being so terribly familiar. 

Perhaps, Mingyu’s made a terrible, terrible mistake. 

Mingyu pauses, waiting for the next song to start before eventually recognizing that was, in fact, the outro. And just on cue, the Do Not Disturb he had set for the hour turns off, a series of notifications flowing in. 

 

jeongguk

bro…. WTF????

fix it now before i do it for you

 

Trauma Updates (@traumaupdates) just Tweeted:

WHO TF WAS THAT ON THE INTERLUDE??????

 

cheollie hyung

did you listen? i hope you enjoyed it.

i guess when we were taking pictures at the beach, i had accidentally started to take a video. it ended up being like fifteen minutes long, but that was caught towards the end. i hope you don’t mind me using it.

i shouldn’t say this but i miss you. you’re the only thing i can think about right now

take your time, we’re not going anywhere, yeah?

 

He knows. Mingyu knows they’re not.

——

Mingyu’s second meeting with Soonyoung goes arguably better than the first. 

“Um, need help, Soonyoung-ssi?” Mingyu asks, him and Seokmin having their necks craned to see Soonyoung fumbling with five flower bouquets as he stumbles through the double glass doors of the building.

“Hyung is fine!” Soonyoung calls back. Mingyu and Seokmin exchange a glance before hurrying over to take two bouquets each out of Soonyoung’s hands alongside the ones they bought themselves. Soonyoung gives them a shy, grateful smile in response. 

Tonight is Minghao’s senior dance showcase, the day he’s been tirelessly preparing for for months, and months, and months . Mingyu and Seokmin have spent the last three weeks forcibly picking him up from the studio at 3 am, shoving actual food down his throat a few times a day, and trying to get him to sleep for more than two hours a night. It’s the culmination of everything he’s worked for, all the practice he’s put in since he was just a kid, and Mingyu couldn’t be more proud. 

They make small talk with Soonyoung (they being Seokmin, mostly) as they hand their tickets up at the booth, and retrieve a program from the side table. Once they reach the doors of the theater itself, however, Soonyoung places a hand on Mingyu’s shoulder, prompting the younger to turn around.

Soonyoung’s quite literally sweating bullets, whole expression twisted in anxiety. “Do you, fuck , do you think they’re going to like me?” 

Mingyu furrows his eyebrows in confusion before eventually, finally registering the context behind Soonyoung’s question, eyes widening against his own accord. He had completely forgotten until then that this would also be the first meeting for Soonyoung and Minghao’s parents. Minghao had mentioned it a few times in passing, but he was so concerned with the dancing that it was never an imminent concern to him, which just shows how important this showcase really is. 

Fixing Soonyoung the most reassuring smile he can muster, Mingyu reaches a hand up to place it on top of his, squeezing it a little. “Hyung, I am sure they’ll love you. They take a liking to most people, you’d have to do something pretty terrible to get on their bad side.”

“Like telling them I’m their son’s boyfriend who’s nearly 8 years older than him?” 

“Maybe you could warm up to that.”

Following the usher, they make their way to the second row, where Minghao’s parents are already seated, just beside the three seats reserved for them. With the way Soonyoung is practically cowering behind him, Mingyu could never had guessed that he was a world class dancer with more recognitions and awards than he could count. 

Minghao’s parents light up when they see Mingyu and Seokmin, immediately standing up to envelop them in warmth with the kind of hug that only a parent can give. Mingyu can’t deny he’s missed that kind of incomparable gentleness. 

“Oh, who’s this?” Minghao’s mother asks, smiling warmly at Soonyoung, whose eyes widen in alarm. Mingyu decides he might need a helping hand. 

“Ah, this is Soonyoung, Minghao’s, um…” 

“Friend,” Soonyoung finishes, holding a hand out to Minghao’s father, politely bowing his head. Mingyu feels a pang of pity for him. 

“Kwon Soonyoung! You were Minghao’s phone background when he was in high school! How did you two meet?” Minghao’s father asks, eagerly clasping Soonyoung’s hand. 

Soonyoung flushes a deep red, spluttering for an answer, because, really, how does he say through Mingyu’s sugar daddy. One of three . But Minghao’s mom merely tuts at her husband, stepping in front of Seokmin to rest her hand on Soonyoung’s shoulder. “Oh, don’t interrogate him. Any friend of Minghao’s gets a hug from me,” she says, proceeding to pull Soonyoung into her arms. Soonyoung looks over her shoulder at Mingyu and Seokmin in bewilderment, and Mingyu just shoots him back a look that says I told you so

The lights dim before Minghao’s parents have the chance to ask Soonyoung any further questions that would surely have some incriminating answers. Minghao’s one of the last ones to go on, so Mingyu spends most of his show holding his breath, waiting to watch his best friend do what he loves the most. 

Mingyu has to literally hold back Seokmin from screaming his ass off when Minghao finally takes the stage, the older pouting at him for a fraction of a second before looking back over at the stage. The music then fades in, a drum heavy instrumental that’s quite intense, slightly unnerving. 

There’s no coherent way, Mingyu thinks, to describe the way Minghao dances. His movements are clearly so carefully calculated, but they connect together so naturally that it looks like he’s not even trying while also clearly putting all of his heart and soul into every single movement. Mingyu’s heart soars with pride and awe, and, mostly, admiration. 

The performance ends before he knows it, and Mingyu’s first instinct, after getting to his feet and clapping so hard his hands turn red, is to glance over at Soonyoung, who, to Mingyu’s surprise actually has tears in his eyes, face shining with something Mingyu knows all too well. Mingyu smiles to himself, biting his lip to keep it down. 

Only one person goes on after Minghao, and as soon as they’re done, the five of them run closer to the front of the stage, near where Minghao emerges a few minutes later. Seokmin and Mingyu let Minghao’s parents go first before nearly knocking him down to the floor with the force of their own bear hug, hearing Soonyoung and Minghao’s parents laugh behind them. 

“You’re the greatest,” Mingyu says. 

“Ever!” Seokmin adds.

“We’re so proud of you.”

“More than you could know!” 

Minghao’s lip trembles, burying his face in Mingyu’s neck, who just laughs, going to pet his hair. “There’s someone else here to see you,” Mingyu whispers to him. Minghao’s head jolts up in response, looking over Mingyu’s shoulder to see Soonyoung, his five bouquets in his arms, smiling shyly over at him. 

“Hyung,” Minghao breathes out. 

He peels himself off of Mingyu’s body, feet picking up into a run, throws his arms around Soonyoung’s neck and eagerly presses their lips together. 

The silence that follows is far from dramatic, as Soonyoung and Minghao part, a bright smile on Minghao’s face and a disoriented, dopey one on Soonyoung’s. Mingyu then looks over at Minghao’s parents, who don’t look surprised in the slightest and instead, exchange a knowing, and fond smile. 

He finally skews his gaze over to Seokmin, who meets his eyes instantly, and the joy they both clearly share fills his heart with warmth. He walks over to sling an arm around Seokmin’s shoulder, resting his head on the other one. 

Reality then, inevitably, hits Minghao, as he looks over at his parents with his eyes wide, hesitantly pulling away from Soonyoung, lip worrying under his teeth. “Um, Mom, Dad, I-” 

Minghao’s mother shakes her head in amusement, turning to Soonyoung. “His friend ? Sweetheart, you didn’t have to say all that. We’re his parents, didn’t you think we would find out eventually?” she asks, with a wink. 

Despite Minghao’s insistence otherwise, Mingyu and Seokmin decide to forgo the dinner plans to give Soonyoung, Minghao, and Minghao’s parents some privacy for the evening. 

Staring out the car window, Mingyu replays Minghao’s performance in his head over, and over, and over, recalling the small smile that crept up on Minghao’s face just before the stage went black. The way he glowed from the inside out, his satisfaction so palpable, written all over his face. And, as happy as it makes Mingyu feel, he can’t help but let some envy seep in behind it. 

Mingyu can’t even fathom the type of genuine gratification that comes with excelling, or finding success, in something you so wholly love. He longs for it, suddenly, he longs for it with such fervor that if he closes his eyes, he thinks he can feels his blood thrumming through his veins at the thought of it all.

It’s that sudden desire, sparked by just enough jealousy, that overwhelms him to the point where, the second he gets home, Mingyu opens his laptop and goes straight to the application he has bookmarked. The nearly complete application, the only thing left being to submit the portfolio. The application for the renowned magazine Mingyu’s admired for as long as he can remember. The position that his photography professor, the one class Mingyu allowed himself to indulge in throughout his mission for stability, personally recommended him for. 

It’s that desire that’s starting to not feel all so sudden, quite familiar, really, that causes him to pull up the folder of all the downloaded pictures from his camera that he truly considers his best work and drag it into the submission box. 

It’s that deep, aged yearning for a future he knows he has the chance to conceive that allows him to hit submit without a second thought. He pushes the laptop back on the desk, staring at the confirmation page with wide eyes, and yet, he feels not even a trace of regret, a newfound anticipation being the only thing he allows himself to focus on. 

A few minutes later, or perhaps, even a few hours, Mingyu truthfully could not say, his phone goes off. He glances down at it, the caller ID reading shua hyung back to him, Joshua smiling up at him from the screen, and for the first time in weeks, he has half a mind to pick it up. 

He stares at it for too long though, because the ringtone cuts out and his phone fades back to black, and Mingyu is left staring at his own reflection, turbulence clear in his eyes. 

One step at a time. 

——

It’s not until halfway through getting ready for the tour that Mingyu finally forces himself to take another step. Applying is one thing, but he hasn’t told anyone except for Seokmin and Minghao, and he still has his father convinced that he’s taking the internship in the fall. 

It’s now or never , he’s been telling himself for the past four days. Now, it’s officially almost never. 

Minseo, his sister, hums to herself as she musses his hair into place, and then helps him with his tie. He glances down at her fingers, tips of them callused from hours of practicing the violin in the sanctuary of her bedroom for as long as she can, before she’s inevitably scolded by their mother for not devoting that time to SAT prep instead. Something that she has absolutely no interest in, Mingyu knows, because he was the one who found the acceptance letter offering her a full ride to her dream conservatory while sifting through the mail, only to have it snatched out of his hands by a tearful Minseo who begged him not to say anything. 

“I applied to be a photographer’s assistant at Serenity. The magazine,” he blurts out. Minseo stops her movements, looking up at him in shock. 

“You- you did? Mingyu, that’s amazing!” she exclaims, but her excitement dissolves once she registers his reluctance. “That… is amazing, right?” 

“I haven’t told Mom and Dad yet.”

“Well, obviously. You’re going to have to, like, now.”

“I don’t know if I should. I don’t even know if I’m going to get the job, and is it even worth pissing Dad off for life?” 

“Yes, because you and I both know very well that you could do everything right and he’d still find something to be pissed over. And, if you don’t get the job, you find another one. This isn’t the only opportunity in the world,” she reasons. 

Mingyu smiles fondly down at her, ruffling her short brown hair. “When’d you get so smart?” 

“Always have been. You’re just too dumb to notice.” He snorts back, proceeding to flick her forehead in rebuttal. 

A soft knock comes on his door, swinging open before he can even open his mouth to respond. “Son, we’ll be leaving in five minutes,” his dad says, adjusting his own tie. Mingyu and Minseo exchange a glance, reassurement in her eyes, before she excuses herself out of Mingyu’s room. 

“Dad, um,” he starts, before shaking his head to himself, in attempts to eliminate all anxiety to the best of his ability. “I’m not going. To the tour. And I’m not going to take the internship either. I’m sorry for telling you now.” 

Mingyu’s father doesn’t even look angry, just stands in front of him in absolute disbelief. “Excuse me?” he finally croaks out. 

“It’s not the job I want, Dad,” Mingyu says, with a deep sigh. “Or the life I want.” 

“The job you want ? Have you lost it? It’s not about what you want , it’s about what will keep a roof over your head! Be in the car in five minutes, I don’t want to hear anything like this once we reach the office,” he says, sternly. 

“Dad, I’m not -” He’s interrupted by another knock on the door, his mother’s timid face poking in through the frame. 

She forces a shaky smile, hesitantly looking back and forth between her equally incensed husband and son. “Mingyu, sweetheart, there’s a few people here to see you.” Mingyu furrows his eyebrows in confusion, but nods to her anyway.

“Tell them to come back later, we have to leave, now,” Mingyu’s dad snaps back, without so much as a glance over at his wife. Mingyu shakes his head. 

“No, I’ll be right down, Mom,” he says, stepping past his father to leave his room, and head down the stairs, drowning out the loud complaints of his father behind him as he yells about Mingyu’s ungratefulness to his helpless mother. 

And, as if things couldn’t possibly get anymore complicated, Mingyu heads down to the foyer to see Seungcheol, Jeonghan, and Joshua standing anxiously in the doorway of his childhood home. 

Despite the obvious bags underneath their eyes, the clear absence of the usual brightness to their faces, they still look beautiful, so good that Mingyu nearly feels compelled to hold his hands out in front of him to catch his heart that’s sure to fall out of his chest any minute now. His lips part around a sentence that could range anywhere from a hurried goodbye followed by the slamming of the door in their faces to a long overdue love confession followed by him launching himself into their arms. 

“Hey,” Seungcheol says, plainly, accompanied by a soft smile that makes him look ten years younger. 

And another step. 

“There’s a park down the street. You can’t miss it. Can I meet you there in 30 minutes?” Mingyu asks, abruptly, in lieu of greeting. 

They all blink rapidly, before nodding slowly in agreement, and Mingyu lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “Of course. Is everything okay?” Jeonghan asks. 

Mingyu looks over his shoulder over to the staircase, where his father has started to angrily descend, heart picking up in pace. “No. But it will be, I think.”

The confrontation, predictably, does not go well. Mingyu can admit it’s mostly him and his father forgoing any sort of attempt at a mutual understanding to scream at each other, knowing compromise was a far off dream. He doesn’t cry, truthfully, he doesn’t even feel that angry, he’s just done: reached and crossed his breaking point. 

Mingyu’s father doesn’t even have to command him to leave, because eventually Mingyu just throws his hands up in exasperation and turns on his heel, storms up the stairs to his bedroom. He throws as much of his belongings that he can fit into the suitcase he brought while his mother stands in the doorway, silently crying to herself. 

“He just wants what’s best for you,” she croaks, when he moves to exit the room. “I know now, that, that this wasn’t it. I just want you to be happy, promise me you’ll be happy.” 

He looks at her, holds her eye contact for a significant moment, hoping the shine of hope in his eyes is more of a promise than his words. “You’re stronger than you think you are, Mom,” is what he replies with verbally instead, softly, brushing a stray strand of her hair away from her face. Her voice breaks on another sob when he squeezes past her into the hallway. 

Minseo is standing by the stairs, stoic expression on her face, but her melancholy is betrayed by the unmistakable tears that have welled up in her eyes.

“My door’s open for you anytime, you know that, right?” he says. 

She laughs, wetly, swatting him on the shoulder. “You say that like I won’t be at your apartment eating your ramen this time next week. Don’t be so dramatic, I’ll see you soon.” Mingyu rolls his eyes, but pulls her into a hug anyway, hooking his chin over her shoulder.

“Go to the conservatory, Minseo-ah.” She nods when they part, small smile on her face telling him she really means it. 

Mingyu looks back over his shoulder at his mother, who’s still longingly staring into his bedroom from the doorway, before heading down the stairs and straight out the door. 

Seungcheol, Jeonghan, and Joshua are seated next to each other on a swinging bench by the playground when Mingyu pulls into the parking lot of the park. He approaches them with confidence, and they look at up at him with matching smiles once he reaches them. 

“How’d everything go?” Joshua asks, nervously. Mingyu shrugs. 

“Let’s just say I have a fully packed suitcase in my trunk and my name’s probably been burnt off of the family tree. Don’t sweat it, though,” Mingyu replies, earnestly. 

Seungcheol’s expression twists in worry. “Mingyu, that’s a pretty big deal. Would you like us to take you back to your apartment? Or to Seokmin or Minghao’s, maybe? We can always do this later.” 

“No, no, hyung. They’re, he’s my family, it’ll come around in the end, I- I actually feel quite free, for the first time in, ever, I think. And if I don’t do this now, I don’t know if I ever will. Actually, can you- can I take you somewhere else? It’s not far from here, just a little bit down the trail.”

When they all agree, Mingyu leads them through the park and down into the forest, stopping right at the clearing by the creek where he’d been with Seokmin and Minghao a few days prior. “I used to come down here all the time with Seokmin and Minghao, when we were in high school. Fuck around, drink cheap alcohol, catch frogs that would always piss in our hands. Take pictures. It’s just… tranquil, a little pocket of space for the three of us,” Mingyu explains, facing away from them to look out at the creek.

“It’s beautiful,” Joshua agrees, looking up at the trees. “Reminds me more of where we grew up.” 

“I want to share it with you. I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else,” Mingyu starts, taking a deep breath before he continues. “I think I’ve done too much talking and not enough listening, but, fuck, sorry, I need to do some more talking.” 

His hands tremble, gaze trained to the grass beneath him, his body begging him to run far away from the precarious tension he’s found himself in, but his heart implores him to stay. For once, Mingyu thinks, he’ll listen to it. 

“I don’t know what you wanted to say to me that day, but I don’t- I don’t think it was what I thought you were trying to say. I think, actually, maybe , I have some idea. I might have known for a really long time, but I didn’t want to mess things up, or just make a fool out of myself. I may be doing that now, but, I realized I needed to be brave and be honest with myself, be honest with you. I need to say it, I might explode, I can’t, fuck , I-” 

“I’m in love with you. All three of you. For the longest time now, and if I’m wrong about every assumption I’ve been making, then I know how fucked up this is to say to three people who’re in a relationship with each other, who I wasn’t supposed to love. If that’s the case, then you can forget about everything, and we can just part ways, and I won’t take it personally. I know I’m immature, I’m sorry for ghosting you for so long, but I just love you so much. I didn’t know what to do with myself and I didn’t know if you’d want me, I’m so sorry.”

Someone then takes a step forward, a leaf crinkling underneath his foot, stopping right in front of Mingyu, who hates that he can tell it’s Seungcheol just by the shoes he’s wearing. “ Baby , will you look at me?” Mingyu shakes his head, lips down turned in a pout, embarrassed by the tears profusely streaming down his cheeks. 

“Mm, can I tell you what we were going to tell you that day, then?” he asks, carding his fingers through Mingyu’s bangs. Mingyu nods slowly at that, stomach twisting in anxiety.

“We wanted to tell you,” Jeonghan starts, walking over to Mingyu’s other side. “That we talked more, then, after we decided to try things. And we realized, that there was plenty of room in between us for one more. For someone we all have quite strong, strong feelings for,” he says, brushing a tear away from Mingyu’s cheek with a knuckle, before going to encircle Mingyu’s wrist with his fingers. 

“Wonwoo hyung?” Mingyu jokes, smiling wetly, finally looking up from the ground at Seungcheol, who rolls his eyes. 

“You’re so silly,” Joshua says, tears pricking at the corners of his own eyes. “How could you ever think we wouldn’t want you when you’re just so impossibly loveable? It’s like you have no idea, the effect you have on everyone around you. It was almost too easy, falling in love with you.”

“L-love? You love me, too?” Jeonghan laughs good-naturedly, caressing the underside of Mingyu’s jaw. 

“Silly boy. Of course, of course we love you. A little too much, maybe,” he says, fondly. Mingyu looks over to Seungcheol, who’s still smiling, hand squeezing at the nape of Mingyu’s neck. They’re all over him, all around him, their touches, their words, and now, their love . And he does feel quite silly, that he couldn’t perceive it before. 

Bottom lip quivering, Mingyu breathes out a soft Hyung , before practically falling into Seungcheol’s arms, the older catching him with a little oof and a small laugh. He presses a kiss to the side of Mingyu’s head and rubs soothingly at his back as Mingyu sniffs into his shoulder. 

“Missed you, hyungs,” he says, softly, against Seungcheol’s neck. Jeonghan coos.

“We missed you more, baby. Thought I was going to explode,” Seungcheol responds, with another kiss to Mingyu’s neck. 

He allows himself to bask in the warmth for a few moments longer, nuzzling into Seungcheol’s shoulder blade as the older continues his ministrations. Knowing that the conversation wasn’t quite over just yet, Mingyu eventually peels himself off, turning to face all three of them, bottom lip worried under his teeth.

“So, um, what now?” Mingyu asks, curling in on himself. 

“Well,” Jeonghan replies, thumb rubbing against Mingyu’s cheek. They really are touchy, almost as if it pains them to keep their hands off of him for more than a breath. “What do you want, baby?”

Mingyu doesn’t even need a second to think about it. “You, I want you. I want to be yours, please.”

“Since you asked so nicely,” Joshua says, softly, closing the gap to, finally, meet Mingyu halfway. 

The kiss is unhurried, unlike the ones before it, merely a stepping stone to something else. This kiss takes its time, warmth continuously seeping in with every next moment it lasts. It’s been waiting for them: sending Mingyu afloat, the door opening for him to begin to search for a space in the expanse of love. Joshua’s body exudes light and warmth, and Mingyu takes, and takes, and takes, every kiss reminding him that yes, this is real

He kisses him the way he’s wanted to all along, the way he wanted to at the light festival, in the car in Tokyo, sitting on the sand at the beach, sitting across from him at Jeonghan’s before everything fell apart around them. He wants, he yearns, he has

“Us too,” Seungcheol whines, and Mingyu giggles as he and Jeonghan step forward to press loud smacking kisses to Mingyu’s cheeks. Seungcheol turns Mingyu’s cheek towards him with a knuckle before Jeonghan can beat him to it, pulling Mingyu into a kiss for himself. 

Jeonghan dramatically huffs, impatiently tapping his feet against the ground until Mingyu pulls away from Seungcheol to turn to him with a laugh. 

“I’ll get you back for that,” Seungcheol calls, but Jeonghan merely smiles into the kiss. 

Once they deem Mingyu sufficiently kissed, they walk hand in hand (they being Joshua, Mingyu, and Seungcheol, Jeonghan pouting as he trudges behind them) back down the trail and to the parking lot. 

“It’s been a pretty tough day for you, baby, why don’t you go back home and take some rest? We’ll call you later,” Jeonghan says, softly, once they’ve reached Mingyu’s car. 

“Or maybe you can stay with Seokmin or Minghao? Don’t really want you to be alone tonight,” Joshua suggests. 

Mingyu hums, he definitely doesn’t want to be alone right now, and the thought of leaving their side for longer than a second today makes his stomach ache. “Actually, can I come back with you? If you’re not busy,” he asks, shyly. 

Seungcheol smiles, so, so fond and Mingyu’s never felt so loved. “Nope, all free. We’re all yours, babe.” 

And they are, it’s almost impossible to believe.

Almost, because Mingyu spends the remainder of the evening practically drowning in kisses and soft touches, always so gentle, so full of affection, that he isn’t given a second to consider otherwise. 

With his head in Joshua’s lap, torso in Seungcheol’s, and legs in Jeonghan’s, blanket draped over his lower body, Mingyu smiles to himself in contentment, closing his eyes to relish the pure, incomparable comfort. Seungcheol and Jeonghan have their fingers intertwined over Mingyu’s hip, and Joshua’s head rests on Seungcheol’s shoulder as Cars 2 plays in the background for the fifth time in the past two months. Not that they could ever get tired of it. 

“Hyungs?” Mingyu asks, softly. They all hum in response, encouraging him to continue. “When did you, um, when did you know?” He flushes, aware of the vagueness of his words but far too shy to elaborate. 

Joshua coos, leaning down to press a kiss into Mingyu’s hair. “Know what, baby? That we loved you?” Mingyu whines, burying his head in Joshua’s lap.

“I don’t think there was a definable moment,” Jeonghan answers. “When you know already what genuine love looks like, it’s not too difficult to recognize it. One day it’s just there and you wonder if perhaps it’s existed all along.”

He hums, before continuing. “Think I’ve loved you since you accused us of being a catfish. Or when you gave us a list of all the sex things you’d be willing to try, which, we still haven’t gotten through. How long did it take you to make that?”

“An embarrassingly short amount of time,” Mingyu responds. “You guys do wonders for my imagination. There’s probably a lot more things I need to add.”

“We have all the time in the world,” Seungcheol says, softly. A little too soft in when he’s talking about tackling a Sex List, but, Mingyu’s chest swells with warmth nonetheless. 

Jeonghan’s bed is enormous, but even then, it’s a tight fit for four grown men. They make it work by curling up quite close together, but Mingyu doesn’t think any of them mind. Seungcheol has his arms wrapped around Jeonghan’s waist, Joshua’s around Mingyu’s, and Mingyu’s head is buried under Jeonghan’s neck, the older’s hands in hair and on the side of the neck. It’s maybe a little too warm, especially in the heat of July.

Mingyu wouldn’t want it any other way.

Once they’ve all fallen silent, breathing slowed, hands stilled, Mingyu cracks an eye open to look up at Jeonghan’s sleeping face, a certain youthfulness in the soft lines. He’s hit with a swift rush of awe, because, at least for quite a long time, forever if it were solely up to him, he gets to fall asleep and wake up to that breathtaking face belonging to someone with an equally golden personality, alongside two other people who are just the same. 

They had each other and still , their hearts were big enough for one more. Mingyu has the pleasure, the absolute privilege of being the one more. They loved him, they waited for him, and they have him. He hopes they know they have his entire heart: still beating and whole, just for them.

Nothing matters anymore, and everything feels possible. Nothing is daunting, and everything is bright. He smiles, again, just to himself, letting his eyes flutter shut again as Joshua leaves a chaste kiss to the back of his neck, tightening his grip around Mingyu’s waist ever so slightly, the warmth growing steadily by the minute. 

——

The call comes late on a Thursday afternoon.

Mingyu, Minghao and Seokmin have abruptly decided to redecorate their living room after a week long HGTV binge together that left them all sorts of discontent with how their apartment looks. 

(“This trash dump looks like college kids lived here, we have to up our game!” Minghao cries, staring with disgust at the pile of pizza boxes that is currently serving as their end table.

“To be fair, Hao, up until four weeks ago, college kids did live here,” Seokmin responds.)

Just as him and Seokmin are pushing the couch back into place (for the third time), his phone goes off from the kitchen counter. He glances up at Minghao  lounging comfortably on the loveseat), who just nods, walking over to pick it up.

“Hello? Um, no, he’s, um, a little occupied, but I can- what? Seriously? Fu- hold on, just a second, please!” Minghao runs over with his hand out stretched, eyes wide as he holds it out to Mingyu, practically bouncing on his toes. “Serenity! Mingyu, it’s Serenity!”

Mingyu nearly drops the couch on Seokmin’s feet, ignoring the way it hits the ground with a large thud, yanking the phone out of Minghao’s hand and fumbling it up to his ear. “Hello?” 

Once the initial congratulations is delivered, Mingyu goes through the rest of the call in a legitimate daze. He nods when he needs to, hums in response, tries his best to remember any key information, but mostly, just stares at the wall and resists the urge to pinch himself. “Thank you so much, yes, yes, I’ll be sure to check my email. Thank you, thank you .” 

He sets the phone on the stack of pizza boxes, letting out a deep, shaky breath. “I got the job.”

He got the job

Mingyu lets himself be hugged, giggles along as they scream choruses of We told you and Of course you did! He wants to cry, he wants to scream, he wants to go back in time and tell his sixteen year old self that everything is worth it and he’s good enough to be who he wants, to do what he wants. Everything is worth is and he wants to be just one place right now, and he doesn’t think he’ll be able to catch his breath until he’s there. 

 

mingyu

WHERE AREYOU

ALL

cheollie hyung

shuas !! ^^

hannie hyung

Is everything okay??

shua hyung

where r u do you need us to come get you

mingyu

IMCOMING RN

Mingyu’s breathless by the time he reaches Joshua’s place, forgoing the elevator in favor for the stairs. He insistently rings the doorbell, too excited to trust himself to be able to successfully unlock the door with his own key.  

Seungcheol opens the door with a bewildered half smile, and Mingyu immediately falls into his arms, wrapping his own arms around the older’s waist to lift him right off the ground and spin him in about ten consecutive circles. Seungcheol just squeaks in surprise, and finally swats at Mingyu’s shoulder to make him let him down. 

“What happened?” Joshua asks, excitedly, amusement in his eyes at seeing Seungcheol’s stunned state. Mingyu doesn’t even know what to do, where to go, so he just stands there, hand squeezing Seungcheol’s, eyes light with pure, unbridled joy, looking down at the way their fingers fit so perfectly together.

“I love you,” Mingyu blurts out, and wait, no, that wasn’t it.

Jeonghan giggles, going to brush Mingyu’s sweat matted bangs away from his face. “And you came all this way acting like you’ve just guzzled a gallon of coffee just to tell us that, huh?” 

No , well, I would definitely do that, but no, I- I got a call, from Serenity, and fuck , I got the job! The job!” Mingyu exclaims, and it feels that much more real now that he’s telling the three most important people to him. The reality of it all, the pipe dream turned tangible. 

Once again, Mingyu lets himself be hugged, lets himself get slathered with praises like it’s the only thing the three of them know how to do. They kiss every single part of his face, squeeze at his arms, his neck, hug him over and over and tell him how proud they are of him. 

Every day Mingyu doesn’t think it’s possible for him to ever feel more loved than he does now, and they always manage to prove him wrong the very next day. Except, this time he really doesn’t think it could get any better than this, it’s pure euphoria. 

“What do you want for dinner? Anything your talented little heart desires,” Seungcheol says, poking at his chest, guiding Mingyu with Joshua to the couch while Jeonghan disappears somewhere down the hallway. 

Mingyu pretends to think about it for no more than a second. “Pizza,” he says, decisively, with a smug little smile because he knows his answer pisses them off. 

Before either of them can scold him for his choice, Jeonghan emerges again with a box in his hands that just looks expensive: matte white exterior with a light pastel purple, silky ribbon tied around it. He places it on the coffee table in front of Mingyu with a soft smile. 

“This is for you. A little congratulatory gift,” Jeonghan explains. Mingyu furrows his eyebrows in confusion, looking back and forth between the box and Jeonghan’s kind face.

“When did you buy this? You just found out. I don’t- I don’t understand,” Mingyu says, voice tapering off into a whisper. 

“Just a few weeks ago,” Joshua answers, tucking a lock of Mingyu’s hair behind his ear. “We had no doubt that you’d get the job, love.” 

Mingyu absolutely refuses to look at any of their faces, still staring down at this box that for sure has something obscenely expensive in it that they bought for him in advance for a job he hadn’t even gotten yet . He wills down the embarrassing tears, reaching out to pull the box slowly towards him. 

He sniffs a little, toying with the bow on top, loop slipping through his index finger. “You believe in me that much?” he asks, softly. 

“‘Course we do,” Seungcheol responds, pulling Mingyu’s head towards him with one hand to kiss at his temple. Just as Mingyu begins to undo the ribbon, Seungcheol rests a hand on top of his. “You can open it now, if you’d like, or later in the evening, or even another day,” he says, with a small twinkle in his eyes. Mingyu swallows, but nods, implication understood, something swirling in his gut at merely the thought of what could lie within the packaging. 

“Um, can we have dinner first?” Mingyu asks, shyly. 

“We ordered the pizza when you texted you were coming over,” Jeonghan says, stepping around the coffee table to press a kiss to the top of Mingyu’s nose. 

“I love you. More than you could ever know,” Mingyu says, so seriously that it makes them laugh. 

After showering quickly in Joshua’s room, Mingyu nearly devours half the pizza by himself, driven by adrenaline, exhaustion from lifting furniture for three days straight, and the knowledge that he’s most likely going to need a lot of energy for whatever’s in store for him tonight. 

He’s genuinely surprised he can stay focused enough to eat at all, what, with all the stray, purposeful, so calculated touches each one of them practically drowns him in throughout dinner on the couch. Little brushes against his hips turn into fingers teasing at the hem of his shirt to actually slipping under his shirt and kneading at the skin right at his waist. Little brushes against his thigh turn into a hand snaking its way closer, and closer, and closer to the inner portion of his leg, moving back and forth with significant pressure. Little brushes of lips against his cheek turn into much more insistent kisses trailing down his jaw, behind his ear, down his neck, accompanied by small nips and bites that sure serve their purpose to rile him up.

“I think you’re ready now, baby,” Jeonghan whispers against the shell of Mingyu’s ear, taking the long empty plate out of his hands and setting it on the coffee table. 

Joshua picks the box up, setting it in Mingyu’s lap. “Why don’t you go open your gift in my room and we’ll meet you there in fifteen minutes, or so?” Mingyu nods, dumbly, wondering why it would take him fifteen minutes to open a gift. But he relents, getting up off the couch and moving down the hallway to Joshua’s bedroom, not taking his eyes off the box held tightly in his hands. 

He sets it down on the bed with a gulp, lightly undoing the ribbon and setting it slowly on the bedside table. Lifting the top off, Mingyu squints, as if a blinding light is going to emerge or perhaps a dozen bats. Thankfully, it’s neither, just some neatly folded tissue paper, which is worse, to Mingyu, because he just wants to know

With the utmost hesitance, Mingyu lifts the tissue paper, to be met with a few, equally neatly, folded garments, in the same exact lavender, silk fabric as the ribbon. It isn’t until Mingyu actually takes them out of the box, does he realize, eyes wide, what they are , and why he was given so much time to unwrap the gift in the first place. 

He remembers, then, what Jeonghan had said to him the very first night, only to never bring it up again. Looks like he hadn’t forgotten entirely. 

You’d look very good in some lingerie.

The gift, which is more of a gift for them , Mingyu thinks, is a set of lingerie, which he mindlessly throws on, gulping as he takes stock of himself in the floor length mirror of Joshua’s bathroom, a little awe-struck at how well everything fits him. 

The bottoms are nearly entirely mesh, a delicate lacy design on the front, frills all around the waistline, with just the lining and the tie ribbons to the side being the silk. It hangs low on his waist, dipping down to expose the greater part of his v-line. The matching babydoll is also mesh and ties in the front with the silk ribbon. It’s quite short on him, which is expected, and has the same lacy design stitched near the bottom hem. Finally, the stockings are sheer, lined by the silk, and hug his built calves snugly, but comfortably enough. 

This is definitely quite new for him, considering the most lingerie he’s ever worn was a cheap, black lacy pair of underwear his ex boyfriend bought for him years ago. But, he doesn’t hate it, feels the opposite, actually. It makes him feel dainty, something he seldom considers himself to be. 

More than that, though, he feels pretty : pretty for himself, pretty for his hyungs. He hopes they think the same. 

Making his way back to the bed, Mingyu lifts the box to set it in the corner of them room, out of the way, when he notices a slight glint towards the bottom. He reaches back into the box, fumbling around, before his fingers graze against something metal, pulling out a long, silver chain.

Upon inspection, Mingyu deems it too long to be a bracelet, an anklet, or a necklace. Merely acting on a hunch, he walks back over to the mirror, wrapping it around his bare stomach, eyes widening when he easily, perfectly, clasps it into place. 

There’s a small plate attached onto it that rests on his back, but, before he can take a look at it, he hears footsteps heading down the hallway. He yelps, hurrying away from the mirror to launch himself on the bed, unsure how he’s supposed to position himself, settling on kneeling, facing the door, hands on his thighs with his fingers brushing against the tops of the stockings. With his head tilted to the side, eyes wide, Mingyu puts on the most demure expression he can muster. 

Something works, because, it’s really almost comical the way they walk in, expressions startlingly similar: jaws grazing the floor, eyes impossibly wide. He wants, needs , them to say something, needs the praise to fill him and give him that final gratification he’s desperately seeking. 

Jeonghan breaks first, breathing out a soft baby , before walking towards him, hands already outstretched, ready to cup Mingyu’s cheeks. “You’re perfect, baby, look so good. Knew you’d look amazing like this,” he says, softly, lifting Mingyu’s head up to pull him into a deep kiss. Mingyu whines into it, satisfaction blooming through his chest. 

“C’mere,” Jeonghan whispers, against his lips, sitting down on the sheets and pulling Mingyu on top of him, toying with the chain as he leans back into press their lips together again. 

Moments later, there’s another set of hands on his waist, one of them on top of Jeonghan’s, and Mingyu can immediately tell it’s Seungcheol by the cold rings pressed into his warm skin. “Mm, the prettiest, my pretty baby. Will you let us show you how pretty we think you are?” he asks. And all Mingyu can do is whine, and nod. 

Just as Mingyu begins to wonder where he went, Joshua appears next to Jeonghan; lube, condoms, and, strangely enough, the silk ribbon from the box in hand. He hands the ribbon over to Seungcheol, who runs his hands slowly down Mingyu’s arms. 

“Baby, how would you feel if we tied you up a little? Just your wrists behind your back,” Joshua asks. Mingyu nods, eagerly, accepting without even really thinking about. It’s something he’s wanted since Jeonghan brought it up the night in Tokyo. He wonders what other suggestions from that night will come to fruition today. 

“Words, baby,” Jeonghan reminds him, pushing Mingyu’s bangs away from his face. 

“Yes, please, hyung, I’d like that,” Mingyu replies, blushing a little. Jeonghan presses a kiss to his cheek in reward. “And, um, would-” He cuts off his own request, suddenly feeling quite shy, tucking his chin into his neck. 

“Go on, honey, don’t be shy,” Seungcheol encourages. Mingyu bites his lip. 

“Would you be a little… um, mean , maybe? Not too much, you know, just-” 

Joshua nods, kissing Mingyu’s shoulder. “Of course, baby, we got you. Whatever you want.” 

“You’ve just given him something dangerous,” Jeonghan says, lightly, with a little laugh. 

“And, um… I’m clean,” Mingyu says, slowly. “And I haven’t slept with anyone else since we met.” 

Everything goes silent: Seungcheol freezes behind him, and Joshua and Jeonghan glance at each other, and then over at Mingyu with wide eyes. Mingyu feels like recoiling, wants to retract himself, feeling as if he’s proposed something far too intimate. And this is always the reality, isn’t it? He always wants more, always loves more, always-

“Us too, baby, but, are you sure? Please don’t feel like you have to do something you’re not comfortable with,” Joshua says, softly. 

Mingyu should’ve realized by now that they are forever the exception to the always

“I’m sure, I’m so sure.” 

Seungcheol makes quick work of pulling Mingyu’s arms gently behind his back, tying his wrists together with the ribbon, not too tight, but just tight enough where he can’t quite break free. “Let us know if it’s too tight, or if you want us to untie you at any point. We won’t be mad, or upset with you, okay?” 

“Got it,” Mingyu says, looking over his shoulder at Seungcheol with a reassuring smile, who takes the opportunity to lean down and steal a kiss. 

Joshua walks around to the foot of the bed as Seungcheol crawls on it, which Jeonghan takes as his cue to gently lift Mingyu off his lap, guiding him to kneel right in front of where Joshua is standing, back facing Jeonghan who kneels right behind him.

“Go on then, baby, you know what to do,” Joshua says, running his fingers through the strands of hair at the top of Mingyu’s head. Mingyu resists the urge to whine at the humiliation of not even being asked , just expected to serve . And he’d be lying if he said his body didn’t heat up at the thought. 

Mingyu leans in ever so slightly, waiting for Joshua to undo his sweatpants since Mingyu is clearly unable to, but the older makes no movement whatsoever, just looks down at Mingyu expectantly, huffs when Mingyu looks back cluelessly. “You have a mouth, don’t you, sweetheart?” Seungcheol asks, mockingly. 

Mingyu nods, utterly humiliated, but still manages to undo the drawstring of Joshua’s sweatpants with just his teeth. His problem, however, comes in pulling them down. After a few minutes of significant effort, Joshua pushes his head away and pulls down his sweatpants himself with an eye roll that makes Mingyu pout. 

Surprisingly, or, maybe not at all, Joshua’s not wearing anything under his sweats, already half hard cock popping out. Mingyu doesn’t waste any time, too eager to tease, sucking at the tip for a moment before swallowing him down as far as he can go. 

Just as he begins to set a decent pace, Mingyu feels a hand, Jeonghan’s, rub at his lower back, just under where his hands are tied, in warning, and he reflexively rocks back against it in response. As expected, a moment later, his panties are being pushed to the side, and there’s a lube slicked finger teasing at his rim. Jeonghan pushes it in slowly, causing Mingyu to moan, sound muffled around the cock in his mouth.

Jeonghan gets three fingers snug inside of him rather quickly, pads of his fingers teasingly brushing against his prostate ever so often. Joshua’s given up on relying on Mingyu’s distracted ministrations and has the younger’s cheeks between his palms, earnestly fucking Mingyu’s throat. 

And if that weren’t enough, Seungcheol has his body pressed to Mingyu’s side, running his hands all down Mingyu’s exposed torso under the babydoll, whispering absolutely filthy things right into his ear. 

“Don’t you feel dirty like this, love? Getting fucked from both sides? Mm, take it so well though,” he croons, hand dragging up Mingyu’s chest, right up to his throat, squeezing lightly where Joshua’s cock pushes in, just as Jeonghan slips in his pinky alongside his three other fingers. It really is absolutely dirty. Mingyu just moans again in response. 

Joshua’s moans start to get increasingly louder, his thrusts more, and more erratic, and Mingyu knows he’s close. He lets his eyes, which are surely glistening with tears, flutter open, looking up at the older, who soon meets his gaze. Joshua then pulls out, jerking himself off with fervor, and Mingyu lets his mouth loll open simply on reflex, just in time for the older to spill all over his tongue. It’s so much that it spills out, down his bottom lip, down his chin, even trailing down his throat. And damn, if things weren’t dirty enough before. 

Finger on his jaw, Seungcheol turns Mingyu’s hand to the side, swiping the come on his skin up with the same finger, then pushing it, along with another one, into his mouth to scoop up the pool in his tongue. He then reaches behind Mingyu and suddenly pushes the two fingers inside alongside Jeonghan’s, fucking them deeply to push Joshua’s come inside. Mingyu moans, unable to form a coherent sentence, or a thought, really, to explain how that makes him feel. 

“Filthy, Cheol-ah,” Joshua admonishes with a laugh. Seungcheol grins back up at him with a shrug. 

Jeonghan then leans forward to place a gentle kiss right between Mingyu’s shoulder blades, fingers slowing their movements. “Ready, honey?” he asks, softly. Mingyu nods, resisting the urge to keen back into the vestiges of the kiss. 

They all move in sync, almost in a practiced way as they maneuver around each other with ease. Seungcheol and Jeonghan switch places, Seungcheol manhandling Mingyu to pull him back a little, so Joshua can kneel in front of him. 

Except, they don’t do anything. At least, not really, to him. Seungcheol just kneels behind him, sitting back on his heels, runs his hands slowly down Mingyu’s back as if he’s just ogling his figure, which makes Mingyu feel that much more debauched. And Joshua and Jeonghan take the opportunity to lean forward and messily make out right in front of Mingyu, who’s starting to get increasingly impatient, whining a little as he writhes under Seungcheol’s chaste ministrations. 

“Did you need something?” Seungcheol asks, against the back of Mingyu’s shoulder, and Mingyu can literally feel him grinning on his skin. Mingyu looks over his shoulder at that, wants to reach a hand out to hold Seungcheol’s wrist, whines a little when he realizes he can’t. 

Seungcheol leans in to press gentle kisses all over the expanse of Mingyu’s back. Mingyu presses into his hold, pushing back against Seungcheol’s hold, giving the older the opportunity to kiss at the side of his neck, to the underside of his jaw, hard cock insistently pressed against his back. He then begins to grinds ever so slowly into the cleft of Mingyu’s ass, eliciting soft, needy whines from the younger as he tries to fuck back. 

Joshua groans a little, scooting forward closer to Mingyu. He cups his cheeks in his palms, same way as before, except with much more tenderness, and the contrast makes Mingyu blush. “You’re so hot, baby, look the best like this. Shame you’re going to be behind the camera, with your pretty face,” he says, against Mingyu’s lips, just a hair away from his own. 

Jeonghan hums in assent, continuing to play with the chain, as if he’s mesmerized with the way it looks. “Isn’t it? Feels like a dream. Pretty thing like you is all ours.” He then pulls at the chain, moving it around his waist so that the plate rests right above his navel.

“Did you read it?” Jeonghan asks, the plate on his index and middle fingers, held forward so Mingyu can lean down easily and finally get a good look at it. 

Inscripted in small font towards the middle of the bottom is Seungcheol, Jeonghan, and Joshua’s names in Hangul, and it’s something of a symbol, a definition. Mingyu swallows, blush traveling down his entire body at the implications, the intimacy laced in between the filthiness of it all. He loves it. 

“I’m all yours,” Mingyu agrees, falling readily into the kiss Joshua pulls him into, eagerly arches his back the way Seungcheol’s hand guides him to, tilting his head into Jeonghan’s hand that runs through his hair.

Mingyu lets out an involuntary gasp when he finally feels the tip of Seungcheol’s cock graze against his hole, reflexively pushing back into it until he’s stopped by a hand right above his ass. Seungcheol kisses his shoulder again, then pushes in, just the tip, then stops, holding himself there as he continues the ministrations of his hands against Mingyu’s waist. 

He doesn’t mind the wait, content with spending some time putting him all of himself into kissing and letting himself be kissed. It’s really more of the latter, Joshua seemingly having an intent to consume and devour , every kiss filthy and passionate. One of Joshua’s hands is flat on his bare chest, under the babydoll, the other in his hair, tugging hard at the strands the way he knows Mingyu likes. It’s easy to get lost in the kissing, until, it isn’t, the weight of just the tip of Seungcheol’s cock inside of him becoming unbearable.

Hyung ,” Mingyu whines, against Joshua’s lips, knowing better than to sink down onto Seungcheol’s cock himself, but desperately needing to be filled. Seungcheol hums in question. 

“Ask for it,” Jeonghan commands, so low that Mingyu feels the vibrations of his voice against his neck, causing a shiver to travel from head to toe. “Be good, and ask for what you want.” 

Every ounce of Mingyu’s decency and dignity was thrown far out the window quite a long time ago, which is why it’s not too difficult for him to whine, more like beg : “Please fuck me, please , please . I want it, I need it, please, please, please .”

Seungcheol snorts, mockingly, and leans forward to kiss behind Mingyu’s ear. “Cockslut,” he whispers, and then bottoms out, first thrust hard .

Mingyu yelps at the intrusion, probably would lose his balance if it weren’t for Seungcheol’s arm snaking around his body to hold tightly onto his waist. Seungcheol wastes no more time after that, groaning right into Mingyu’s ear as he fucks into him with the same vigor put into each movement of his hips, hitting Mingyu’s prostate dead on every time. 

Eventually, Seungcheol’s grip loosens and Mingyu finds himself falling into the mattress, cheek helplessly pressed into the cheeks as he can quite literally do nothing else other than take it. He whines at the sight next to him, Joshua and Jeonghan making out again , Joshua’s hand tight around Jeonghan’s leaking cock, and Mingyu genuinely resists the urge to part his lips in invitation. Maybe Seungcheol was right. 

He then feels a ring adorned hand on the back of his neck, pushing his head further into the mattress, and Mingyu lets out a loud moan at the feeling of being literally held down, bound, and fucked into like a toy. Owned , is probably the right word for it. He feels owned; the engravings of their names pressed into his skin by Seungcheol’s hand right above the plate. He really, really loves it. 

Pulling apart, Jeonghan then coos derisively, playing with Mingyu’s hair as Joshua reaches out to pinch at his cheek. “Bet the three of us aren’t even enough for you, baby, you’re desperate for it,” Jeonghan chides. 

“So pretty on Cheollie’s cock, honey. Do you feel good?” Joshua asks. Mingyu, as always, just moans, blushing when he feels some drool slip down his chin. 

“Have you been fucked dumb, baby? Can’t even speak?” Seungcheol asks, more like growls

Without giving Mingyu any time to answer (not that he’d be able to,) the oldest curls his hand around Mingyu’s neck to grip at his throat, pulling him back up flush to his chest just like that. The display of pure strength has Mingyu dissolving into moans, more so when Seungcheol’s other hand goes down to his cock, tugging at it in time with his thrusts, tightening his grip on each upstroke. 

“Gonna come soon,” Seungcheol warns, and Mingyu can tell, just from the way his pace increases and his breaths get more raspy. “Come with me, yeah? Come for us as I fill you up all nice, just the way you asked for.” 

That seals the deal for Mingyu, who can barely hold back anymore, purposefully clenching around Seungcheol who squeaks in surprise before coming with a deep groan. Mingyu follows suit, spilling all over Seungcheol’s hand and wrist with a series of embarrassingly high pitched whines. Seungcheol fucks them both through their orgasms, still kissing at Mingyu’s neck as Joshua leans in to kiss all over his face and whisper soft praises to him. 

“Clean up your mess, love,” Seungcheol says, cock still deep inside Mingyu. He lifts his hand off of Mingyu’s cock up to the younger’s mouth, and Mingyu promptly leans in without further elaboration, coyly licking up his own come and letting it gather on his tongue. 

Once he’s done, Jeonghan uses a finger to guide Mingyu’s face towards him, pulling him into a kiss, more tongue than anything, licking into his mouth, sucking at the cum on his tongue. “Good boy,” Jeonghan says, once they part, a little drool at the corner of his mouth. “Let’s get you untied now, yeah?”

Mingyu tilts his head to the side in confusion, and the only two things he can really think of are Jeonghan and dick . “But, hyung?” he asks, plainly. Jeonghan just laughs, chastely kissing Mingyu’s cheek. 

“You’re too cute. Don’t worry, baby, I’ll get my turn. Just want to switch things up a little,” he explains, reaching around to tug at the knot, pulling the ribbon free and letting it fall to the bed. Mingyu takes the opportunity of newfound freedom to cup Jeonghan’s cheeks and pull him into a fervent kiss, which the olr returns with a cute, little giggle. 

They reposition themselves once more. Mingyu whimpers when Seungcheol finally pulls out, his come slowly beginning to spill out, the loss seeming devastating. But Jeonghan quickly pushes two fingers back into his hole, plugging it up as he pulls Mingyu onto his lap, hard cock digging into the younger’s thigh. 

“How are you feeling, sweetheart? Good for one more?” Jeonghan asks, brushing at Mingyu’s sweat matted bangs with a fond smile. 

Mingyu nods, hooking his arms around Jeonghan’s neck and settling into his lap, Jeonghan’s cock now nestled under his ass. “‘M good, hyung, want more.”

“I know you do, baby. Why don’t you ride me a little, hm? Put those soccer thighs to use,” Jeonghan suggests, punctuating his sentence with a pointed squeeze to Mingyu’s bare thighs.

Reaching behind himself, Mingyu fumbles a little before eventually grabbing ahold of Jeonghan’s cock, teasingly rubbing it against his hole. Jeonghan tuts, and his slight brattiness is immediately replaced with an urge to be good. He slips Jeonghan’s cock inside of him, Seungcheol’s come slicking up the slide, with one smooth motion and a deep, prolonged moan. 

Contrary to how they usually are in bed, neither Jeonghan nor Mingyu does much talking, or makes very many noises, too completely wrapped up in insistently pressing their lips together in ardent kiss after kiss. 

It’s a culmination point, of sorts, an exposure of the stark difference between then and now. Then being the first night in the hotel, when everything was beyond uncertain and every genuine feeling having to be concealed, deemed forbidden and assumed to be unreciprocated. Now, everything is whole , everything is right: the bright, promising warmth of summer after a fragile, ephemeral spring. 

Mingyu quite easily lifts himself up and down Jeonghan’s cock, swivels his hips and clenches ever so often. Jeonghan joins him in motion, meeting his movements with slow thrusts of his own, arms tight around Mingyu’s waist. Quiet moans escape the both of them periodically, but they’re usually swallowed up by the other, followed by the sucking of a bottom lip, or the graze of lips against a neck. 

Soon enough, there’s another set of hands on his sides, rubbing slowly, appreciatively. Then, another, in his hair, cupping his jaw. He feels absolutely adored, taken care of, loved, and so safe

“I love you,” Mingyu says, against Jeonghan’s lips, but the confession is addressed to all of them, and he’s sure they know it. There’s a kiss to his hair, one to his shoulder, and another to his lips, and he knows they know it. 

Jeonghan responds by thrusting up in earnest, setting a consistent pace as he looks up at Mingyu, who throws his head back, eyes fluttering shut, lips parted in a silent moan. “You’re gorgeous,” Jeonghan says, almost incredulously, so quiet that Mingyu almost misses it. Mingyu swallows, praise going straight to his gut. 

“Sweetheart. Sweet baby,” Jeonghan adds, punctuating each endearment with a kiss to Mingyu’s cheek and a languid roll of his hips upwards. 

Biting his lip, Mingyu looks down to meet his eyes, resisting the urge to burst into tears upon seeing the look of pure adoration he finds there. Loved might’ve been an understatement: perhaps there’s no word that can fully encapsulate the way they’re making him feel right now.

“Come on, Hannie-yah,” Seungcheol starts, crawling around the bed to kneel behind Jeonghan and kiss at his neck, nipping at his milky skin, “Make baby come, don’t you think he deserves it? Looking so pretty in the color you picked out.” 

Joshua hums in assent, pressing his chest to Mingyu’s back and reaching around in between Jeonghan and Mingyu’s bodies to get a hand on Mingyu’s cock, letting Mingyu fuck slowly into his fist as he pushes back on Jeonghan’s cock in tandem. His other hand travels up Mingyu’s chest, squeezing at his sides in reassurance. 

In response to Seungcheol’s goading, Jeonghan grits his teeth and picks up his pace, hands tight on Mingyu’s waist, leaning forward to rest his forehead on Mingyu’s shoulder. Mingyu moans a little to himself at the quiet sound of Jeonghan’s heavy breaths, the grunts he lets out in between every few. 

Closing his eyes, Mingyu loses himself in the sensations: Joshua’s lithe fingers now earnestly jerking him off, Jeonghan’s cock grazing at his prostate with each thrust, Seungcheol’s deep voice whispering the filthiest of words to the both of them. 

“Look at you two,” he croons, “so good, so hot together, you have no idea. This would make an excellent home photoshoot.”

“Another time,” Joshua replies, with a grin, against the nape of Mingyu’s neck. 

And it’s that thought — the debauched thought of being on display like this, all fucked out and desperate, not only for the three of them, but for a camera — that pushes Mingyu over the edge, coming hard in between his and Jeonghan’s bodies with a loud, high pitched cry. It’s all quite intense, continuing to hit him in waves, Joshua and Seungcheol whispering soft words of reassurance and praise as he slowly starts to come down. 

Mingyu eventually, finally , slumps forward into Jeonghan’s chest, letting out a quiet breath, and is met with a gentle hand in his hair and a kiss to his neck. “Good boy, so good,” Jeonghan whispers, holding Mingyu tighter as he chases his own release. 

Resting his cheek against Jeonghan’s shoulder, Mingyu whines at the pleasurable overstimulation, doing his best to rock back to help Jeonghan along. “Come, please, hyung. Come for me, fill me up, I wan- ah -”

He’s cut off by a groan from Jeonghan, who bottoms out completely and comes inside Mingyu with a few more grunts, hips stuttering as he fucks his come alongside Seungcheol and Joshua’s. 

The second Jeonghan pulls out, Mingyu collapses completely into his chest, barely caught by the older who then holds him tightly, guiding him backward to rest on the bed. Mingyu then merely lays there as the three of them gently pull the lingerie off of him, cleaning him up before helping him into a pair of basketball shorts because they know how much he hates to sleep naked. 

“Love you, hyungs,” Mingyu slurs out, curling into the warmth of the blanket that’s being draped over him. Joshua coos, brushing his hair aside to press a kiss to his forehead, continuing to card his fingers through Mingyu’s hair once he pulls away. 

“Love you more. So proud of you, sweetheart, for everything,” he says, softly, sidling next to Mingyu. 

Behind them, Seungcheol makes a noise of disgust, tugging at the sheets. “Fuck, we have to wash these, like now .”

“Who’s this we ? You’re the only one still standing,” Jeonghan says, just as he crawls under the comforter and wraps his arms around Mingyu’s waist. 

“So, you’re going to make me do the labor and sleep on the end? I fucking hate this household,” Seungcheol grumbles, giving up his cleaning pursuit once he realizes none of them are even going to get up for long enough to allow him to actually pull the sheet off the bed. 

“After we just gave you the best sex of your life?” Joshua chides. “Ungrateful.” 

Mingyu giggles at their bickering, nuzzling into the hand in his hair and resting his own hand on Seungcheol’s that’s traveled over Jeonghan’s waist to rest lightly at his hip. Utterly sated and beyond satisfied, he falls asleep just like that, the three of them all around him, occupying every corner of his heart, rightfully so. 

——

one year later

“And that’s a wrap!” the director calls. 

Mingyu puts his camera down with a grin, glancing over at the monitor to survey the shots he’s just gotten, nodding in satisfaction as each one flicks by. 

“Looks great, sweetheart,” Jeonghan says, padding out from the set with Joshua right behind him. “Or, should I say, lead photographer Kim.”

“I had great material to work with,” Mingyu replies, eyeing the one shot of the two of them facing each other, heads turned toward the camera, Jeonghan’s arm thrown over Joshua’s shoulder, their faces not even a hair away. And only a careful eye can tell that neither of them are looking directly at the camera, but rather just above, right into the photographer’s, Mingyu’s , eyes. 

He’ll get them back for that one. 

Joshua pats at his ass before they both turn back to the dressing rooms to get changed. Mingyu takes the opportunity to sit back in his chair and thoroughly look through his camera, chest swelling with pride as he takes in his hard work. It’s a feat, to be promoted to lead photographer on a shoot only a year after joining the magazine. He put a lot of work into the concept, the styling, the everything , and is immensely pleased with the results. 

He pulls out his phone to snap some of the previews to show Seungcheol later, and to send to Minghao and Seokmin. 

mingyu

[Attachment: 5 images]

all done!!!!!

seokmin

they look like they wanna fuck u 

mingyu

that’s their Job

minghao

disgusting we didn’t need to hear that

mingyu

that’s not what i meant and u know that asshole

you know what /i/ didn't have to hear? what you sound like when you’re getting your dick sucked

and guess what happened exactly five miserable days ago 

so fuck you

seokmin

the man makes a point, minghao

anyway the pictures look so good gyu-ah!!! i’m just teasing you ^^ couldn’t b more proud <3 

mingyu

ily you’re the only real friend i have left

minghao

he’s only saying all that because he just spilled orange juice all over your laptop

seokmin

you actually do fucking suck 

 

“Hey there, superstar.” Mingyu looks up from his phone to see Seungcheol walking towards him, a few takeout bags in hand, and a wide grin on his face, which Mingyu readily returns. He hops up from his chair and practically runs to envelop Seungcheol in a tight hug, hooking his chin over the older’s shoulder with a sigh. 

Seungcheol kisses behind his ear, returning the hug, before suddenly cursing under his breath. Mingyu pulls away with his eyebrows furrowed in confusion, following Seungcheol’s line of vision, realizing he’s looking dazedly over at the monitor where the one picture Mingyu was looking at before is still on display. 

“This looks… amazing,” he says, breathlessly. “You did so well, love.” Mingyu bites his lip, blushing upon receiving the praise he craved. 

“Thank you, hyung. I’m so glad you think so,” Mingyu replies, earnestly, with a shy smile. 

Jeonghan and Joshua emerge moments later, faces lighting up when they see Seungcheol standing beside Mingyu. “What’d you think, Cheollie?” Joshua asks. 

“You both look gorgeous, per usual,” Seungcheol replies, leaning in to allow Jeonghan to kiss him on the cheek in greeting. “I brought Chinese, if you guys were hungry.”

Joshua nods. “Very. Should we eat at home?”

Home is now officially Jeonghan’s place, the two of them moving in with him just a few weeks after they all got together. Mingyu still does live with Seokmin and Minghao, but he sees that changing soon, with Minghao and Soonyoung inching towards that milestone themselves, and Seokmin slowly getting serious with Seungkwan (finally, after years of dancing around each other). 

“Yeah, home,” Mingyu agrees, intertwining his fingers with Joshua’s, allowing the warmth to guide him there.