It’s a curse.
Every time they tell him he’s cute, he wants to become even cuter.
It’s addicting to feel their fond gazes on him, seeing their lips widen into a smile and the skin around their eyes crinkle. Watching them coo over how sweet their youngest boyfriend is, almost tripping over each other to be the first to hug him.
He loves it.
But lately, he feels a slight tug in his stomach whenever they poke his cheeks, ruffle his hair or pull him into a hug and whisper little confessions of affection in his ear. Their sweet words get even stickier the more they repeat them. He’s scared he’s gonna get stuck in them one day, unable to move.
“Our cute youngest.” A curse, a blessing, all in one.
It used to give him a feeling of security, of belonging, it made him feel loved and cared for.
Until Felix shows up.
When Changbin brings him to their game night for the first time, Jeongin doesn’t mind it. He usually gets along well with strangers, and his boyfriend’s new co-worker is no exception to that, he actually turns out to be funny and easy to talk to.
So even as Felix’s visits to their apartments become more frequent, Jeongin still isn’t bothered. They all play video games together and Felix entertains them with anecdotes about his former workplace. It is a good time for all of them and Felix blends seamlessly into their little group.
It isn’t until Jeongin notices the looks Changbin is giving the freckled man that he feels a gnawing feeling in his gut. They are interested and longing looks, ones of affection and care. Not the ones you should give to your co-worker.
He then also notices the way Chan starts ruffling Felix’s hair and tapping the pad of his finger on his nose. Or how Felix quietly smiles and watches as Chan and Changbin playfully bicker back and forth, or when he squeals because he finally manages to win a round of their endless uno game and Changbin laughs out a fond ‘cute’ at the sight.
It sends a pang right to Jeongin’s chest and he helplessly watches as his two boyfriends fall for that freckled man with the raspy voice and sugary sweet laugh that rings in Jeongin’s ear, even though the man has long since gone home.
“You should just go and talk to them about it, you know that right,” Minho says as he runs his fingers through Jeongin’s hair.
They’re lying on Minho’s bed, Jeongin’s head on his boyfriend’s chest, and their legs intertwined. Jeongin pulls up the blanket a bit further until it covers most of his face, hiding the fact he scrunches up his nose at the suggestion.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” he pouts and snuggles even more into his boyfriend’s warm body. Minho sighs and puts his arm around the younger’s waist.
“You’re obviously upset about them spending so much time with Felix. And if that bothers you, you should just tell them. They’re not mindreaders, after all,” he points out, his voice gentle despite his stern words. “You’re in a relationship and they love you. You should be able to talk to each other about those things and it’s not like they didn’t do it when they noticed that you totally had the hots for me.”
With a disagreeing huff, Jeongin perks his head up and gives him a small nudge to his chest with his hand, eliciting an amused giggle from Minho.
“If I had the ‘hots’ for anyone, that would have been Jisung and not you. You’re just the rattail that goes with it,” he teases before resting his head back on Minho’s chest. He can feel the vibrations running through his boyfriend’s body from his quiet chuckle, and decides to tease him a little further by pinching the soft flesh of his stomach.
Minho jerks back and pushes Jeongin off of him, sitting up in one fluid motion. “That’s a no-no, baby, you know that. No more cuddles for you now.” He grins and stretches his legs out over Jeongin’s body, burying his hips under his thick thighs.
Jeongin rolls his eyes and drops onto his back, playfully pinching Minho’s legs again. “Not fair. I didn’t even do anything.”
“You just did it again. Time to bear the consequences of your doings and grow up.”
The younger pushes out his lower lip, ready to make a show of his sulking, but then decides differently. He props himself up on his elbows and just looks at Minho for a second, carefully sorting out his thoughts.
“Do you think they like him? I mean, like like him?” he whispers, eyes big with uneasiness.
Minho lets out another sigh and removes his legs from Jeongin’s body to fold them over and pull the younger man into his lap.
“I’m not sure, that’s why you should ask them," he replies softly, pressing a gentle kiss to the top of Jeongin’s head. “And if they do then you should have a proper conversation and express your feelings about it. Just like you did when you started dating Jisung and me.”
Jeongin just hums vaguely in a lack for something better to say. He can’t bring himself to tell Minho about the conflicting feelings that have been eating him up inside ever since he noticed the shift in his other boyfriends’ behavior towards Felix.
He’s not sure how to explain the jealousy he feels when he sees them with the other man. Surely, he wouldn’t feel the same way if it was anyone else. Back when Hyunjin brought up his developing feelings for Seungmin, he felt nothing but happiness and excitement for the other. Seeing someone he loves so giddy and blushy almost made his heart explode, and he couldn’t wait to see the person, that made Hyunjin’s eyes sparkle like that. It would have never crossed his mind that Hyunjin starting to also date someone else could change anything about their relationship.
But when he sees Changbin and Chan with Felix, he just wants to curl up somewhere far away from everyone. He doesn’t want to hear their laughter, see how their eyes twinkle at the sight of each other, witness how they coo over the cuteness of the small-framed man.
It makes him feel pushed to the side, discarded. Like an item losing its meaning because a newer, shinier version hit the market.
And he knows he shouldn’t feel that way. He should feel the same excitement he had felt for Hyunjin, but he just can’t bring himself to do it.
He pushes his face deeper into Minho’s chest.
“I know,” he mumbles into his shirt and loosely lets his hands lay on the side of his boyfriend’s body. Minho starts to trace down along Jeongin’s spine and dots several kisses on his hair.
“He’s cute, but he’s not you, babe. They love you,” he tries to reassure him.
He claws his fingers a little harder into Minho's skin.
“Babe? Can you come with me for a second?”
Jeongin’s head whips around at the sound of Chan’s voice and he immediately can tell that something is going on. “Sure, but why? Is something wrong?”
Chan gives him a small smile before he answers. “No, Changbin and I just want to talk to you about something.”
He waits for Jeongin to follow him out of the kitchen and into their living room and leads him straight to the couch where Changbin is already waiting. Chan plops himself down right in the corner of it, while Jeongin lets himself sink into the cushions next to him. He questioningly looks at Changbin who’s sitting to the other side of Chan and impatiently waits for them to start talking.
“So,” Chan begins, clapping his hands together. “I guess I should just jump right in and not beat around the bush, as people say.”
He shifts around so that he’s fully facing Jeongin now and gives him a warm look. Despite his firm voice, Jeongin can tell he’s nervous by the way he can’t keep his body still, legs bobbing up and down, and his fingers playing with the seams of the pillow he placed on his lap.
Led by a shaky laugh, he continues to talk. Slowly, as if he’s carefully weighing every single word before speaking it out loud.
“I just wanna front this by saying that we both love you a lot, and being with you makes us incredibly happy.”
Tiny little needles begin to prick across Jeongin’s heart. Part of him already knows where this conversation is going, while the other completely blanks out and doesn’t even want to know what Chan will say next.
“Lately we’ve been hanging out with Felix a lot, and Changbin and I get along with him really well. He’s really nice and sweet and it’s just always fun to spend time together. Of course, that was just as friends. But recently, Changbin and I have been talking and realized, that we both might feel a little more for Felix than we initially thought.
“So we wanted to talk to you and hear how you feel about us asking Felix out on a date. Would that be okay with you?”
Jeongin opens his mouth to answer and closes it, only to open it again for another attempt.
He wants to say no and cry, and ask if he's not good enough.
He wants to say yes and plaster a big smile on his face, telling them that he's okay with everything as long as his boyfriends are happy.
But he does none of that. He just sits there, mouth still open, eyes wide and wet, doing nothing but watching the realization begin to seep into Chan. And the look on Chan's face sends a pang to his heart, his eyes dark and hurt, but yet still understanding.
"If you don't feel comfortable with it that's fine, Jeongin," Chan whispers, his hand rubbing soothingly over Jeongin’s arm. “We’re not gonna do it if you’re not okay with it.”
Jeongin is still unable to say anything, the words lying on his tongue, but not coming out. He’s not even sure which words are fighting to seep from his mouth and which ones are clinging to his tongue.
He looks over to Changbin, who’s yet to add to their conversation, and tries to convey everything he’s unable to say with his eyes. ‘I’m sorry. Please understand.’
The older man returns his gaze for a few seconds before he breaks their eye contact and clears his throat, shifting in his seat to sit up a little straighter. He slowly licks over his lips, clearly contemplating what to say. Slightly hesitant, he reaches over to intertwine their fingers with each other.
“As Chan said, we’re not gonna do anything that you’re not comfortable with, love,” he starts, choosing his words carefully. “Can I just ask why? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but I’m just wondering why that could be.”
He looks up to lock his eyes with him again, and Jeongin could cry at what he sees in them: Pure softness and love, combined with small ounces of worry and heartache. The whirlwind of feelings in his boyfriend’s eyes makes Jeongin’s heart speed up its pace, threatening to jump right out of his chest.
‘They love me no matter what. Their love for Felix won’t change anything about it’ a part of him whispers. ‘But what if it does? What if they find Felix cuter, more adorable, and love him more? What if they forget him over the sweetness that is the freckled boy?’ counters the other, much darker part in him.
It feels like he’s getting ripped apart right in the middle, unable to make a decision, not sure of what to believe, what to want.
A tear spills over his lashes, running slowly down over his cheeks.
What if they compare us and like him better?
Another one, leaving a hot trail on his skin.
What if they regret staying with me instead of going for Felix?
Two, three, his tears become a stream.
What if they’ll hate me because I’m putting myself in between them and Felix?
“I…,” he stammers, and his voice breaks. Through the blurriness of his view, he can vaguely see how his boyfriends’ eyes widen at his reaction, and the touch of Chan’s hand on his arms gets a little tighter as his face falls.
“I just…,” he chokes out, but his throat feels like closing up, trapping in the words. His boyfriends quickly dart closer towards him. Changbin sits down on his knees right in front of him, his fingers still interlaced with Jeongin’s, and his other hand lays down on his thigh, giving it a gentle squeeze, while Chan leans down to his side and runs his finger through Jeongin’s hair.
“Babe, breathe, please. It’s okay,” Chan murmurs and that is all it takes to fully break the dam Jeongin tried so hard to keep together.
A loud sob leaves him as the tears now start to uncontrollably stream down his face. He wants to reach out to claw his hand into Changbin’s shirt and just throw himself into his arms to get held by him and told that everything’s gonna be fine. But he can’t bring himself to move, he just sits there loudly sobbing, body shaking, and letting his head drop.
“Hey, baby, breathe please,” Changbin repeats softly and goes to cup Jeongin’s face with his hands, thumbs gently stroking over his cheeks to wipe away the tears. “Just breathe and tell us what your feeling, I promise we won’t be mad, okay?”
Jeongin nods and wipes his sleeves over his eyes, his body still shaking as he gasps for air.
Chan and Changbin patiently wait for Jeongin to calm down, mumbling reassuring words, and rubbing soothing circles into his skin and his scalp. When his sobs start to fade into soft sniffles, Changbin hooks his finger under his chin to shift it up, catching his gaze.
“What is making you so upset?” he asks gently.
Chewing on his lower lip, Jeongin looks from Changbin to Chan, before taking a breath.
“I’m just… scared you’ll like him more than me,” he explains, little hiccups making it a bit difficult for him to talk.
Chan furrows his brows slightly and tilts his head to the side. “It’s completely okay to be scared of that, love, but how come you weren’t scared of it the other times?”
Jeongin winces. He knows it doesn’t make any sense for him to feel so negatively about his boyfriends seeing Felix when he didn’t have a problem with Hyunjin entering a relationship with Seungmin, or himself entering one with Jisung and Minho who had already been dating for two years at that point. It really doesn’t seem fair to not give his boyfriends the same opportunity.
He visibly deflates, mouth closing and opening without making a sound, completely at a loss of how to explain the chaos inside his head. Chan quickly picks up on his desperation and cups one of his cheeks with his hand.
“It’s okay if you feel different about it this time, babe. I’m just trying to understand,” he reassures him.
Jeongin answers with a small nod, trying to find the words to say what has been tormenting him for the past few weeks.
“It’s just... different with him. He’s so cute and pretty and nice and everyone loves him. So if you see him more, then maybe you’ll find him cuter than me, or better. And what if you don’t want me anymore then? What if you’ll love him more?” Tears start to well up in his eyes again. “I don’t want to lose you. But I also don’t want you to hate me because I don’t want you to date him and …-”
“Pshht, baby. Listen to me,” Changbin interrupts him softly. “Our feelings for you won’t just change because we’re seeing someone else too. We love you, because you are you , and no one can change that.”
Chan leans down to press a kiss to Jeongin’s temple before he kneels next to Changbin.
“Having Felix around doesn’t change the way we see you or love you. And you don’t have to feel guilty for being scared about adding someone into our life.” He places his hand over his two boyfriends’ intertwined fingers and squeezes them. “It’s nothing you have to agree to. It’s nothing you have to feel comfortable with. We love you and you’re important to us. We care about how you feel. So if us dating Felix makes you uncomfortable, we won’t be mad about it and we won’t do it.”
Changbin hums agreeingly and pats Jeongin’s head.
Just like that, the big weight that had pressed down on Jeongin’s chest for so long is gone. He takes a deep breath, his lungs finally not feeling restricted anymore, and gives in to his urge to let himself fall into his boyfriends’ arms. He tightly wraps his arms around them and nuzzles his head in between theirs.
“Thank you,” he whispers and closes his eyes. He just lets them hold him for a bit, breathing in their calming scents and feeling their hands brush over his back. After a few minutes, he slowly lets go of them and leans back into a sitting position, taking both their hands into his.
“Thank you for being so understanding. It really means a lot to me,” he says quietly with his voice now stable. “I really don’t know why I feel so sensitive when it comes to Felix. I trust and love both of you so much, and you two always try to do what’s best for me and makes me happy. So I think the least I can do is to try and give him a fair chance.”
Both his boyfriends’ eyes simultaneously widen at his words
“You don’t need to…-” they try to interrupt him, but Jeongin quickly shuts them down.
“I’m not comfortable with you dating him yet. And I’m really sorry for that. But I feel like I should at least get to know him a bit. I don’t know if that will change the way I feel about him, but I should give it a try, so if you could give me the time to do so, I would really appreciate it.”
Changbin and Chan both look deeply into his eyes, searching for something that could indicate that he’s forcing himself to say those things, that he is just trying to please them with his words. When they find nothing but openness and sincerity, they both exhale in relief and squeeze his hands a little tighter.
“But only if you feel okay with doing so, okay babe? If you don’t, you can always just tell us, and we’ll respect it,” Chan smiles with his dimples on display.
Jeongin easily meets him with his own one curling up his lips. “I know, and I love you for that.”
“Now you can add the cacao powder. It’s better to sift it first, though. Otherwise you’ll end up with little clumps, and they’re gonna be a pain to whisk out later,” Felix explains as he hands him the brown carton box.
Jeongin nods at his words, trying to take in every little detail of his explanation while following his instructions. With the tip of his tongue between his teeth, he dumps the powder into the fine-meshed sift and shakes it with small movements.
“Well done,” the older compliments him with a wide smile, and Jeongin has to snort a little at the sheer excitement in his voice. It’s really not that much of an accomplishment to just move the cacao from its box into a bowl, but he knows that Felix will applaud him for every single step of their baking process.
He picks up one of the eggs Felix has placed on the table and carefully cracks it into the mixture. This earns him a gentle pat on his head by the other man and a little giggle.
“Ah, you did this so good! I don’t see any shell,” he cheers and gives him a proud look. “But next time we should prepare the dry and the wet mix separate from each other before mixing them together. And we actually only need the egg yolks, so try to separate the next one before adding it in, okay?” He walks over to the stove to get the pan with the butter he had melted earlier, not realizing that Jeongin froze into place, his head turning towards the younger comedically slow.
“But… There’s already one egg white in now, isn’t it ruined?” Jeongin whines, a little upset with himself for making a mistake. To his relief, Felix smiles at him and waves him off.
“No, don’t worry. I think they’ll be fine anyway.”
He adds in the liquid butter and nods his head towards the whisk, which Jeongin eagerly picks up to stir in the new ingredient. Once they finish preparing the brownie mixture and transferred it to the baking pan, Jeongin pushes the pan into the oven and sets the attached timer on twenty minutes.
“Jeonginnie,” Felix sing-songs behind him with that squeaky voice he likes to use when playing around and holds his hand out for a high-five. Even though Jeongin rolls his eyes at him, he still complies and slaps his palm against the older’s.
They start cleaning up alongside each other and sing along to the song that is playing over the speakers of Felix’s phone. Just as they dramatically belt out the chorus of the all-time classic “Bet on it” by none other than the legend himself, Mr. Troy Bolton, Hyunjin and Seungmin enter the kitchen, their hands interlaced with each other and their faces clearly showing their amusement by the show in front of them.
“Hey cuties, are you gonna go on tour anytime soon?” Hyunjin teases as he walks up to Jeongin to place a soft kiss on his boyfriend’s lips. The younger instantly melts into it and throws his arms around his neck to pull him closer. To his dismay, Hyunjin laughs against his mouth before he wiggles himself out of his hold.
“Babe, you’re sweaty and you have chocolate all over you. I’m sorry, but you’re gonna have to take a shower before you come that close to me. I really like this outfit, Minnie just bought it for me,” he chuckles and ruffles Jeongin’s hair.
Jeongin responds with a pout. “That’s mean, Jinnie,” he whines and stomps his foot on the ground, just because he knows very well how much Hyunjin coos over it whenever he does it. “I worked really hard today. I deserve cuddles.”
Disappointingly, his little show doesn’t have the desired effect. All three other men just snicker at his act, and Hyunjin gives him a little poke to his cheek. “Not working, mister, but nice try!”
With a pointed glare at his uncooperative boyfriend, he folds his arms over his chest and pushes his lower lip out a bit further. “Mean,” he mumbles and kicks a small crumb off the floor with his foot.
“Oh, come here you little baby,” Felix coos and pulls the youngest tightly into his arms. Jeongin nearly purrs when he buries his face into the other man’s neck and rubs his nose against his skin and it earns him a fond giggle from Felix.
Feeling the hush of breath from the other man on the exposed skin of his nape sends a familiar shower of warmth all over Jeongin’s body. This seems to happen quite often lately, much to Jeongin’s surprise, but he doesn’t feel the need to complain about it.
He finds that he now enjoys spending time with him, listening to his stories about the anime he recently watched or the games he likes to play. Not even seeing him with Chan or Changbin stings anymore, instead, his heart flutters every time he witnesses the attempts of how Felix tries to take care of the two of them; be it by forcing Chan to lay down on the couch with his head on the younger's lap, so that he can catch some sleep, or by massaging Changbin’s shoulders after an exhausting workout.
It’s nice seeing them all happy, witnessing their friendship bloom into something even more beautiful.
Taken over by the desire to feel even closer to Felix, he wraps his arms around his waist and squeezes him gently.
“You really are the cutest person on this planet,” the freckled boy whispers into his ear and pulls him impossibly closer, his voice nearly dripping with sticky-sweet affection.
Tiny goosebumps start to bubble up on Jeongin’s skin and he can feel the butterflies rummaging in his stomach. He likes this. He really, really does.
Maybe he should ask Chan and Changbin how they think about going on a date, one with all four of them.