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Falling In Love Is The Hardest Part

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The sun is already high in the sky overhead when Chanyeol wanders into his garage, key ring swinging jauntily around his index finger. He looks immaculate, hair neatly coiffed, like he just stepped out of the shower. Baekhyun, on the other hand, has been leaning against the body of Chanyeol's red Toyota for the better part of an hour and sweating through his t-shirt. Baekhyun looks at his watch, remembers who he's dealing with, and pastes on the cheesiest smile he can manage.

"Nice of you to show up."

Chanyeol grins and slings his overstuffed duffel bag in the open trunk of his car. Baekhyun swears he sees the car slink a little lower to the ground on its frame with the weight of Chanyeol's belongings. "You cleared everything with your parents?"

"It's all set." He doesn't say how long he spent on his knees, pleading with them. It was a little embarrassing to admit, especially since he'd just celebrated his 21st birthday a month ago. Living states away half the year for the past three years made asking permission for things a foreign concept, a true injustice that seemed to negate any benefits gained by eating Mom's cooking instead of instant ramen.

"Good." Chanyeol pulls his snapback down over his hair and swivels the brim around so it's facing backwards. "Sehun should be here any minute. I called him before I left the house."

"Mmm. Where are we going?" Baekhyun asks.

Chanyeol shrugs. "Wherever. We've got a whole summer to dick around, let's just—explore."

Baekhyun feels the same restless itch to get out there and see the world as Chanyeol does. He's heading into his last year of college and doesn't have a fucking clue what's over the horizon, doesn't know what he wants to do or who he wants to be. It's scary, adrift in this ocean of doubt and student loans. Somehow it just makes sense to surround themselves with like company and just… forget about it for a while.

It was supposed to just be Baekhyun and Chanyeol, Kyungsoo and Jongdae. They've been planning this in jest since freshman year, when they were housed together in the same suite, and fleshed it out more seriously in the past year. First: drive to Yellowstone National Park so Chanyeol can do his lame nature boy thing. Then to Chicago, to pick up Jongdae. Finally, over to Boston, to catch up with Kyungsoo, who's too busy working an internship to take the time off. They should be back by mid-July. Plenty of time to unwind and get ready for their last year.

Supposed to be. Sometime last semester, Chanyeol started fucking Sehun on a regular basis, and fucking turned to dating, and now Baekhyun's stuck third-wheeling it for the first part of this road trip. He's not really sure what the friendship rules say about having a relationship with mutual friends of former fucks, but Chanyeol's thing with Sehun feels like a fresh kind of torture.

Sehun comes wandering in a few minutes later. Baekhyun hears the slam of a car door, the whining noise of tires in reverse as Sehun's parents leave Chanyeol's driveway. And then, shadowing Sehun, like a ghost from Baekhyun's past: Jongin.

Baekhyun nearly swallows his tongue.

"Hi guys!" Chanyeol says brightly. "Put your shit in the trunk. Just need to do a last minute check and we're ready to go." He jerks his thumb towards the door. "Bathroom's in the house, go now. I don't want to stop right away."

"You didn't say he was coming," Baekhyun says hotly the minute they're out of earshot, pulling at the neck of Chanyeol's shirt. Chanyeol pries Baekhyun's fingers off one by one and offers him an apologetic smile.

"I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to bail."

"Chanyeol—"

"Come on, please." Chanyeol actually fucking pouts, lower lip huge and bouncing as he makes puppy eyes at Baekhyun. It's incredibly unsettling. If this is the kind of shit he pulls with Sehun, this entire trip is going to be nauseating.

"This was supposed to be us, and I was okay with Sehun, but—come on, Chanyeol. You couldn't have given me a heads-up that Sehun was bringing Jongin?"

"It's been a while for you guys, hasn't it? I didn't think it'd be that big of a deal," Chanyeol says, trying to sound nonchalant. Baekhyun's known him for years though and Chanyeol's not great at bluffing. If he really thought it wouldn't have caused a problem, Baekhyun would've known before Jongin came strolling into the garage.

Not that Jongin looks particularly happy about the arrangement either. He's looking back and forth between Sehun and Baekhyun, teeth worrying at his lower lip. Baekhyun wonders if Jongin's just as surprised—

No. Baekhyun does not wonder. Baekhyun doesn't wonder a damn thing.

"Chanyeol… what happened to this road trip being for us? Exploring the country before we're tied down with jobs and families. Our last hurrah, whatever."

Chanyeol smiles and nudges him with a heavy elbow. "It will be. I promise you're going to have a lot of fun. Jongdae'll be meeting up with us in Chicago and then you can make him sit with Jongin."

"I don't know if this is a good idea." He wants to say, I don't know if I can but he's not really comfortable admitting that kind of weakness in front of Chanyeol. He wants to say, It could be a year or a hundred years and I don't think I'd be ready to spend this much time with him but that sounds even worse in his head.

"Look, I'll make you a deal." Chanyeol offers a handshake. "If at any point you decide you can't take it, I will drive you to the nearest airport and pay for your ticket myself."

Baekhyun considers this (very generous) offer as he studies Jongin out of the corner of his eye. He looks good—but then again, Baekhyun thinks wryly, he always looks good.

Just do it, his conscience tells him. You've always wanted to see the country. This is your last chance. He takes one last look at the limp, dark curls around Jongin's ears and closes his eyes. "Fine," he mutters. "First class ticket, you fucker. For doing this to me."

"You got it," Chanyeol agrees, beaming. And then, to the group: "Alright guys, we're good to go."

Things go from bad to worse when Baekhyun goes to get in the front seat only to lose it to Sehun. Sehun grins up at him, eyes crinkling at the corners. "Sorry. Better luck next time."

Baekhyun sighs tiredly. "In the backseat," he commands. He feels the beginnings of a dull headache throbbing in his temples and wonders if it's too late to back out of the whole trip. Sehun pulls a face.

"I get motion sickness when I sit in the back."

Baekhyun rolls his eyes. "Don't lie. I don't want to sit behind you guys playing grab-ass for a thousand miles. Get in the back."

"Baekhyun, we're all going to take turns driving. Can't you just sit in the back for now?" Chanyeol pleads. "Besides, your legs are a lot shorter than Sehun's."

Baekhyun snorts indignantly. "Really? I outrank him in like, seven different ways—"

"Baekhyun."

Baekhyun climbs into the back seat and takes great care not to make eye contact with Jongin as he fastens his seat belt and leans back against the upholstered seat, warm from the morning sun. Chanyeol makes some cheesy flight-attendant style speech, complete with instructions on how to make a water-landing and then they're off, pulling into the street and away until Chanyeol's house is a tiny, yellow spot at the end of the cul-de-sac.

It's blissfully quiet after that, the wind whipping through Baekhyun's fingers when he sticks his hand out the window. Jongin's curled on the other side of the backseat, bare feet tucked underneath him. Baekhyun catches a glimpse of him out of the corner of his eye when he knows Jongin's asleep—sees the parted mouth, the soft pink of his tongue against the dark of his lips, and thinks the three feet between them could be miles.

 

--

 

When Baekhyun was twenty, he thought about loving Jongin. It was a long time ago but it still hits him sometimes, right at the worst moments. It snuck up on him—one day he was stretching out the elastic on the waistband of Jongin's sweatpants to bury his face in Jongin's crotch, and the next thing he knew he was holding his hand under the table. Making weekend plans. Waking up in bed next to him more often than not, usually with an arm wrapped around his waist.

But Jongin said the 'l' word first—Baekhyun still thinks it was too soon—and it became this huge thing. Scary. Suddenly everything was different, endowed with some special meaning Baekhyun wasn't sure he believed in. He was cusping on twenty, for fuck's sake—he'd barely begun to live at all. And while there was no denying that Jongin was beautiful lying in his bed, fucked out and half-asleep with hair falling in his eyes... he was still just a kid. Still nineteen, still talked about things he did in high school like it was a big deal. He still called home a couple times a week just to say hi to his mother. Still talked about his childhood friends like they were his entire world.

And like, what was that? How was Jongin so sure? He'd said it confidently, fingers keyed in the spaces between Baekhyun's ribs, pulling him under the covers to kiss the corner of his mouth.

"I love you," he'd said, orgasm still rolling through his body.

And everything stopped.

--

 

When they pull over for gas somewhere in Nevada (Baekhyun thinks, anyway—he's not looking at a map), Sehun gets out to stretch his legs and Baekhyun seizes the opportunity to slide into the passenger seat. Chanyeol side-eyes him, clearly struggling to keep the corners of his mouth from quirking upwards in an amused smile.

"How you doing, kiddo?"

Baekhyun snorts and pulls his hat over his eyes. "Are we there yet?" he deadpans, hand groping blindly for the radio dial.

"Long way to go." Chanyeol pulls up his GPS and squints at it. "I figure we'll take it easy, stop somewhere in Utah for the night before it gets dark."

"Utah?" Baekhyun scoffs. "People live there?" The radio clicks once, twice. Static. Baekhyun tries the next station. More static. "Goddamn. Where are we, anyway?"

Chanyeol ignores him.

In the backseat, Jongin stirs. Baekhyun watches him in the rearview mirror as he steals a glance at Baekhyun's vacated seat and looks around in confusion. Their eyes meet for a moment and Jongin almost smiles, but then Sehun's knocking on the window. Baekhyun rolls it down.

"Get in the back."

"Only if you want me to puke all over you," Sehun threatens. "Come on."

Chanyeol shoots Baekhyun a withering look. "It's a new car, man."

"It's a 2009. Hardly new."

"New to me," Chanyeol insists. "I want to keep it nice."

Baekhyun looks back in the rearview mirror. Jongin's head is turned away. His eyes keep darting towards the front seat. He's truly terrible at quashing his interest in other people's conversations.

"Why don't you drive for a while?" Chanyeol offers. "Just follow the GPS."

 

Baekhyun tries desperately to eavesdrop on the conversation in the back seat between Chanyeol and Jongin but finds he can't. They're all in an enclosed space, static on the radio humming quietly against the noise of the engine.

Sehun chimes in every now and then but it's mostly just Jongin and Chanyeol. There's this weird feeling that knots in Baekhyun's stomach when he realizes they've kept in touch this whole time. They've been talking. He realizes, belatedly, that it makes sense—Chanyeol's been dating Jongin's roommate, he's been spending time over there, of course they've seen each other. Baekhyun isn't sure if that's a fresh sting of betrayal he feels, or just an acute hunger pang, but either way, it doesn't feel all that great.

 

--

 

The motel Chanyeol picks is straight out of a horror flick. One old guy in the office who hands over the keys and leers through the bulletproof glass like he's sizing them up. Baekhyun punches Chanyeol in the kidney as soon as they're out of sight.

"You dick. Did you see the way he was looking at us?"

Chanyeol rolls his eyes. "You're so vain. Not everyone wants to fuck you, Baekhyun."

Walking a few paces ahead of them, Sehun snorts into his sleeve. Jongin's ears go red and he buries his hands deeper into his pockets.

"No," Baekhyun says slowly. "I don't think he wants to fuck me, I think he wants to wear my skin."

Chanyeol tips his head to the side and considers this for a moment. "I don't think you have to worry about that," he says finally. "If he's going to skin anyone, it's going to be Sehun. But I'll put the chain on the door tonight, just in case."

 

--

 

Baekhyun braces himself for an argument with Sehun over who gets to share the second room with Chanyeol, but Jongin pulls him away before Baekhyun ever gets the chance. So, that's decided.

Chanyeol sits cross-legged on the couch. "You're being kind of a dick, you know," he says after a minute. Baekhyun looks up from channel surfing through the television's five offerings (all in Spanish) and frowns.

"I offered you the bed. You said you didn't want it."

"No. Not that—to Jongin, I mean."

Baekhyun stiffens. "I'm not being anything to Jongin."

"That's kind of my point."

 

--

 

The thing about shitty motels is, they've got thin walls. Which is fine for Baekhyun—he's always been a decently heavy sleeper, and the place seems abandoned anyway. Still, he's holding a pillow over his ears at dawn, trying not to listen to Chanyeol and Sehun in the shower, whispering at each other to be quiet in between their labored breathing (which isn't quiet at all). He feels the stretch of his underwear, tight with early morning arousal and ready for action, except he's listening to his best friend get laid and he's feeling way too resentful to do anything about it right now.

I'm being punished, Baekhyun thinks miserably, wondering if this is payback for all the times he's forced his friends to listen to his sexual exploits, just as Chanyeol's low moan reverberates through the door.

 

--

 

Sehun starts whining about his bladder being too full and his stomach being too empty somewhere around mile two hundred. They've got another two hundred miles or so left to go today and the sun's been especially merciless on this stretch of the drive. Baekhyun isn't looking forward to camping out tonight, no matter how many times Chanyeol insists it'll be fun.

"Can't hurt," Chanyeol says to Baekhyun, whose eyes glaze over with annoyance at the way Chanyeol caters to Sehun's every whim. "Besides, it's almost lunch time anyway. Jongin?"

Jongin yawns and mumbles something into his forearm. It sounds like I could eat but Baekhyun isn't sure if that's just his memory filling in the gaps. It's what he always used to say.

 

--

 

They pull into the parking lot of some shitty rest stop that looks like a health code violation waiting to happen. There's a food court, though, which means the illusion of choice, and Chanyeol finds that kind of thing exciting, as though this particular rest stop is different from the dozen or so they'd passed that morning.

Baekhyun shoulders the bathroom door open and stands there as it swings wide, watching his reflection in the mirror over the red shoulders of his lost varsity jacket. The back of his eyelids prickle with a sudden shocked sort of sadness, chest wringing tight until he remembers how to breathe.

"So that's where that jacket went."

Jongin flicks the water off his hands with an irritated scrunch of his nose. "You left it at my place."

Baekhyun nods just a few too many times. "I—yeah. I figured that's probably what happened."

Jongin taps the hand dryer with a cocked elbow and stands, studying Baekhyun's face with detached interest. "Could've called."

"I didn't—it wasn't that important." Baekhyun turns towards the urinal and closes his eyes, trying to forget the last road trip they'd been on—spring break of Baekhyun's sophomore year, when getting Jongin alone in the bathroom meant an opportunity to stick his hand down Jongin's pants, a race to get him off before someone knocked on the stall door.

When he opens his eyes again he's alone, tap dripping staccato into the sink's basin.

 

--

 

Baekhyun's appetite is gone after that. He buys the largest size of coffee Starbucks offers and waits for the others in the car, eyes closed, reclined against the headrest with his knees propped up against the back of the driver's seat.

He opens his eyes when Sehun slides in next to him and punches his thigh. "Wake up," he says, a little too cheerfully. "We bought you a cheeseburger. Just in case you changed your mind."

Baekhyun shakes his head. Sehun pushes the bag across the seat anyway, the brown paper splotched dark with salt and grease. Baekhyun really kind of wants it, now, but he doesn't want to be an instant hypocrite, so he waits, hands wrapped around his kneecaps, as Chanyeol and Jongin return to the car.

"Here," Jongin says, tossing the varsity jacket into Baekhyun's lap. Baekhyun stares, confused.

"Oh," he says slowly. "You can—don't worry about it, I mean—"

"Nah. It's yours." Jongin shrugs. "I don't really want it anymore, anyway."

Baekhyun can feel Chanyeol's eyes on him in the rearview mirror and doesn't feel much like talking about it, so he pulls the jacket over his shoulders and keeps his eyes trained on his sneakers.

It's been a year but he still remembers—the faint, musky smell of Old Spice deodorant and sweat. The humid warmth of the locker room after the team's showers. Baekhyun hunches his shoulders and breathes slowly. It smells so much like Jongin.

 

--

 

Chanyeol picks a campground eight miles off the interstate, set back against a line of trees. They're not the only ones here, but they are the only college students. The families all have nice campers, though, with bathrooms and kitchens. Running water. Chanyeol's got two tents. One's kind of got a hole in it, but the weather forecast calls for a nice night. Chanyeol graciously offers to sleep in that one, and Baekhyun insists on a site as far away from shrieking children as possible.

It goes from bad to worse when they've finished setting up for the night. Sehun starts to shimmy into the damaged tent on his hands and knees. Baekhyun catches him by the belt loop of his shorts and pulls him back into the open, frowning.

"Wait a minute, no. Sehun, you're sleeping with Jongin—" He gestures over at the other tent. Jongin's already inside.

Sehun turns around to look at him, eyebrows raised. "You're kidding, right? What are you, my mother?" He disappears back in the tent, flaps billowing behind him.

Baekhyun stares for a moment in disbelief. The universe has been against him since this trip began, and this is the final nail in the coffin. "Chanyeol, no."

"Baekhyun, yes," Chanyeol says, mocking the pained tone of voice Baekhyun had used. "Look. Tents are for sleeping. You don't have to talk, just—lie down and sleep."

So Baekhyun lies there, listening to the shallow whoosh of Jongin's breathing for what feels like hours before he can't take it anymore. He leopard-crawls out of the tent on his forearms, sleeping bag still zipped up under his arms. It's cold outside even though it's early June. He shivers at the night air that wraps around his bare legs, pulling goosebumps to the surface of his skin.

The tent rustles wildly for a moment with the thrashing of Jongin's arms. Baekhyun holds his breath and waits. Nothing, just Jongin moving in his sleep. Baekhyun gathers his blankets and goes to sleep in the backseat of Chanyeol's car.

 

--

 

Chanyeol wakes him rudely in the morning. Baekhyun had fallen asleep in an uncomfortable huddle against the left passenger side door, sleeping bag pulled over his head to block out the light from early sunrise. Chanyeol pulls the door open and stands back while Baekhyun topples out onto the grass, moaning.

"Fuck you, Chanyeol," he says when he catches his breath, squinting up at Chanyeol's face, eyes nearly hidden by his tousled mop of bed head. He looks relatively cheerful despite the early hour. "You could've opened the other door."

"Sorry," Chanyeol says innocently. "Didn't see you there. We were wondering where you went, since you weren't in your tent this morning." He clears his throat. "Jongin was worried, I think."

"Good for Jongin." Baekhyun narrows his eyes. "Because it was so hard to figure out where I went."

"I don't know. Maybe you started walking to the airport. Maybe a bear came into the tent at night and dragged you away."

"A bear," Baekhyun says flatly.

"You missed one hell of a sunrise," Chanyeol says, flinging a hand at the blue sky. "It was gold and orange. Seriously incredible."

Baekhyun huffs, now supremely irritated. He can feel the bruises on his knees from falling out of the car and now he's missed the entire point of coming here in the first place. "You knew where I was, jackass. Could've gotten me."

"Yeah, well. Oops." Chanyeol smiles and offers him a hand. "Come on. Breakfast. We've got to get on the road if we're going to get to Jongdae's tonight."

 

--

 

Jongdae's waiting for them on the front porch when Chanyeol swings the car into the driveway, headlights slicing yellow across Jongdae's face, then the closed garage door, then dark.

"About time," he calls over the slamming of doors. "I was about to send a search party out for you." He crosses the lawn barefoot and meets Chanyeol at the trunk to help unload everyone's bags.

"Baekhyun drives like a grandmother," Sehun says. Baekhyun sinks his fist into Sehun's shoulder and recoils, seething, when he connects with the sharp protrusion of shoulder blade.

 

--

 

Jongdae's house, as it turns out, is massive. Between Jongdeok's old bedroom and the guest room, nearly everyone's got a bed to sleep in. Baekhyun doesn't mind being the one to take the air mattress on Jongdae's floor—he's grateful, really, for the break from everyone else. Jongdae even carries Baekhyun's things up the stairs for him, leaves them in his room while Baekhyun retreats into the bathroom to try and drown himself in the shower.

When he gets out, skin pink from the impressive water pressure, Jongdae's sprawled across his bed flipping through a comic book. "You look tired," he says.

"You try sleeping on the ground," Baekhyun says indignantly, even as he settles himself in on the air mattress. It's not much of an improvement from last night's tent (or the back seat of Chanyeol's car), but at least there's no Jongin snoring away within arm's reach.

"Ah. Is that all? You big baby. I figured there was another reason why you weren't getting enough sleep." Jongdae licks his fingertip slyly and flips to the next page.

Baekhyun looks up at Jongdae from the floor. "I don't follow."

"I just remember the last road trip we took—"

"—shut up—"

"—and the conditions are similar—"

"—they're not similar at all." Baekhyun falls back against the mattress and rubs at his eyes with his knuckles. "Come on, you know it's not like that anymore." He realizes something and sits up. "Wait."

"I'm waiting."

Baekhyun narrows his eyes. "You knew, didn't you?"

"Knew?" Jongdae's voice takes on an odd quality. He's far too frank to be good at lying.

"You knew Chanyeol was bringing Jongin, too."

"If you're implying they've got some sort of threesome thing—"

Baekhyun lifts his foot just high enough to plant it against Jongdae's ass. "Hey," he snaps. "Don't."

Jongdae shrugs. "Chanyeol said it wasn't going to be a big deal. I figured he told you." He flashes Baekhyun a smile, this one warm and friendly. Comforting. "Besides, you're here, aren't you? It's not that bad, is it?"

Baekhyun rubs at his temples. "Chanyeol thinks this is something that just... doesn't matter."

"Does it matter?" Jongdae asks curiously. "You said before that it was just sex."

It takes Baekhyun so long to answer that Jongdae's already turned off the lights and burrowed under the covers when he finally clears his throat to speak. "I thought it was," he admits finally.

The sheets rustle when Jongdae turns to blink down at him in the dark. "You know you were full of shit back then, right?"

Baekhyun chuckles softly. "Yeah," he says. "I know."

 

--

 

This is the first time Chanyeol's been east of the Rockies and he's treating it like a holiday abroad. Baekhyun wants to get on the road so they can make it to the hotel before it gets dark, but Chanyeol's got other plans.

"We've got to see the Sears Tower!" he insists, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the music on the radio. "And the Bean!"

Jongdae rubs his hand down his face. "It's the Willis Tower now."

"Still."

"You never cared about sight-seeing shit before."

"I'm an adult. Adults love that... what did you call it? Shit."

Baekhyun looks at Chanyeol in the reflection of the side mirror and laughs aloud at this assertion. He's got a pair of oversized sunglasses perched on his nose that look like he's trying to cosplay Holly Golightly. He looks—and Baekhyun's said it half a dozen times this morning already—like an idiot.

Idiot or not, it doesn't really matter. Chanyeol's in charge of the car.

So they spend the day in Chicago. Chanyeol drags them around until Baekhyun's feet ache—to the Willis Tower, the Navy Pier, the Cloud Gate.

Jongdae plays the role of intermediary between Jongin and Baekhyun. Sehun and Chanyeol, with their long legs, walk a few paces ahead, too absorbed in each other and the city around them to notice. Jongin scuffs his shoes against the pavement, one hand in his pocket, the other holding down the brim of his hat to shade his eyes from the sun.

Baekhyun slides his arm around Jongdae's waist and allows himself to be supported.

"Not that I don't appreciate the way you smell like a fresh Irish spring, but what's up with you?" Jongdae asks.

"Just tired."

"You looked pissed. Are you pissed?"

"That we're not getting Italian beef? Yeah, maybe a little. I hear you talk about it so much—"

"Baekhyun. Don't bullshit."

"Alright. I'm sorry. I really don't care about the Italian beef."

Jongdae shoves Baekhyun so hard he bounces off the railing and rebounds into a passing stranger. Jongin fails to hide his laughter and jogs ahead to Chanyeol and Sehun, just to avoid Baekhyun's murderous glare.

"Jongdae. What the fuck."

Jongdae lowers his voice enough to whisper, "It's because of him, isn't it?"

"No," Baekhyun whispers back fiercely. "I don't care about him. He's fine. I just want to get back on the road. Okay? That's all."

"Here's what I never understood about this whole situation," Jongdae says, ignoring Baekhyun's outburst. "If you were happy before, and now you're not... why did you make the change in the first place?"

Baekhyun elbows him in the ribs and is momentarily satisfied when Jongdae yelps and drops his phone.

The feeling doesn't last long, though.

 

--

 

It's too late. Jongdae's planted the seed in Baekhyun's head and it has taken root. He tries, valiantly, to distract himself. He inserts himself into Chanyeol and Sehun's conversation—debates the finer points of the Batman franchise with Jongdae—even offers to drive the full five hundred miles by himself when they finally get on the road. But it's no use.

Baekhyun can't stop thinking about it.

Jongdae's right.

 

--

 

They pull into the parking lot of another cheap motel somewhere just past the Pennsylvania border. It's late. Really late, long past check-in, but Chanyeol manages to finagle a couple of rooms out of the clerk who treats the whole thing like a major inconvenience rather than much-needed business.

Baekhyun clutches the hem of Jongin's hoodie and stops him from going inside.

"Wait," he manages, awkward like he hasn't been since puberty, maybe even before. Jongdae, who'd been lurking somewhere to Baekhyun's left, melts into the night and disappears. It's just the two of them now, Baekhyun and Jongin, the dull light of the open trunk throwing shadows across their faces. Jongin looks at him with muted curiosity, sleepy eyes half-closed with fatigue.

"Hm? What?" He yawns.

He's still handsome, Baekhyun thinks wryly. Even when it looks like his jaw's about to come unhinged from his face.

"What's wrong?"

Baekhyun flaps his mouth a few times. Now that he's got Jongin's eyes on him, he can't think of a single word to say.

Jongin raises his eyebrows. "Did you need something? I already told Jongdae you two could take the bed—"

"No, it's not that. I mean—thanks."

"Yeah." Jongin shrugs off his hand and turns to leave. "Don't mention it."

Baekhyun catches him by the elbow before he steps out of his arm's reach. "Wait," he says, voice strangled and cracking. "Jongin. I'm sorry."

Jongin blinks. Once, twice. "You're what?"

"I'm sorry," he repeats, wincing when his voice splits.

Jongin knuckles at his eyes a few times and squints through the darkness at Baekhyun, who suddenly feels very stupid. He debates a few escape options: making a run for it, screaming for help like he's just seen a ghost, punching Jongin in the face. All incredibly poor decisions, but his heart's hammering against his ribcage and his body's desperately trying to kick into flight mode.

No, he thinks. I did this. Time to undo it.

"I'm sorry about last year. For what I did to you. It was really shitty, and you deserved better than that."

"Why are you saying all this to me now?" Jongin asks, staring down at his clenched fingers. "It's a little late."

"I know," Baekhyun says desperately. "It's not meant to change anything—"

"—then why—"

"Shut up, alright?" He puts his hands up when Jongin's eyes pop open. "Sorry. Just let me—can I?" He stops and takes a deep breath, allows himself to regroup. "I was a shit, alright? I didn't. Think."

The corners of Jongin's lips quirk upwards. He's amused, but to his credit, he lets Baekhyun continue without interruption. It's an anomaly, Baekhyun apologizing to anyone, and especially Baekhyun apologizing to anyone about his behavior in a relationship. But Jongin's worth it. Jongin deserves at least this much.

"I was wrong."

"About?" Jongin prompts, voice soft. Somewhere across the parking lot, an owl hoots.

"You probably had a better idea of. You know," Baekhyun says vaguely. It's still hard to say the word out loud. He presses on. "And I was wrong to just... I was wrong. I'm sorry. Really. For everything," he finishes, cringing at how fucking lame he sounds, how inarticulate.

"Okay," Jongin says, after what feels like the longest silence of Baekhyun's life.

"Okay?" Baekhyun asks. He lets out a slow breath, feels a weird, woozy sort of calm settle over him, like he's impervious to anything now that he's laid all his cards on the table. Doesn't matter what Jongin says to him now. It's out of his hands. Maybe he'll sleep better tonight.

"Yeah. Okay." Jongin smiles, eyes crinkling tight at the corners. "Thanks, Baekhyun." He steps back and shoulders his bag. "Night."

Baekhyun waits for a while after Jongin goes in, pacing in tight circles and kicking at the loose gravel in the parking lot. He doesn't know what he was expecting to come from the conversation, but at least now it's over and Jongdae can get off his back. He can endure the rest of the trip, go back to school with a clear conscience.

He can close the book on Jongin for good and life can finally go on.

 

--

 

Jongin avoids Baekhyun the next morning. Baekhyun had thought maybe they'd be closer to normal—or at least, something bordering on friendly, but Jongin's as stoic as ever when he swings into the backseat next to Baekhyun and fishes around in his pocket for his iPod.

"It's going to be a long day. We've got a lot of ground to cover if we're going to make it to Kyungsoo's tonight," Chanyeol warns from the front seat. Sehun's playing with the contents of the center console, pawing through it like he's searching for buried treasure, or maybe just a pack of hand wipes. "So if you have to go to the bathroom, go now."

Jongdae notices Baekhyun staring at Jongin and smiles devilishly, eyes twinkling in such a way that Baekhyun knows he's doomed to be interrogated the minute they get a moment alone.

So he avoids him in the only way he can when they're trapped in this close proximity: he curls his knees up to his chest and falls asleep, cradled by the seat belt that keeps him from toppling over into Jongin's lap.

 

--

 

When Baekhyun opens his eyes again, they're still somewhere in Pennsylvania. He's uncomfortably warm. Jongdae's leaning against the window, fast asleep, chin to his chest and drooling. Chanyeol catches his gaze in the rearview mirror and smiles.

"Well, hey there, Sleeping Beauty."

"Hi," Baekhyun croaks. "Where are we?" He can't see anything beyond the road but trees and tall, slate walls cut into the hills. The sprawl of asphalt, lined white and yellow, in front of them. Every mile looks like the one before it.

"Middle of fucking nowhere," Chanyeol says. "Thank God you're awake. It was getting pretty boring trying to keep myself entertained while you assholes get to take a nap."

"You need me to drive for a while?"

"I'd take you up on that offer, but it looks like you're stuck where you are," Chanyeol says, smirking. As if on cue, a weight lifts from Baekhyun's shoulder. He realizes Jongin's been sleeping on him this whole time. On his shoulder, breath like a furnace against his neck. Jongin settles against the window, still asleep, and sighs heavily.

"Shut up," Baekhyun says, cheeks pink.

"Hey. I didn't say anything. Just looked like you two were getting pretty cozy back there." Chanyeol raises his hands in an exaggerated shrug. "I was getting some crazy deja vu."

"Hands on the wheel," Baekhyun commands. He waits until Chanyeol's eyes are back on the traffic before he dares to steal another look at Jongin. He adjusts Jongin's seat belt with trembling fingers so it's not cutting into his neck and sits back, hands folded in his lap, to watch the world outside speed by.

 

--

 

Kyungsoo lives just outside Cambridge on a little side street, in a brick house draped thick with blue-green ivy. His mother answers the door and Baekhyun recognizes the family resemblance immediately—same slight build, same wide eyes. She smiles a lot more than Kyungsoo ever does, though, her butterfly mouth stretched generously across her face as she ushers the weary travelers inside.

Kyungsoo's upstairs making beds. He looks up when Baekhyun traipses in, his busy hands still tucking the topsheet into perfect hospital corners.

"You made it," he says, shaking the folds out of a blanket. It swells away from his hands, blue and billowing.

"Don't sound so disappointed," Baekhyun teases. Kyungsoo rolls his eyes.

"I've been getting updates from Jongdae."

"Ah," Baekhyun says. "Well."

"And Chanyeol."

"I can only imagine." Baekhyun knows. Or at least, should have suspected as much. He's seen the pair of them, cellphones out, fingers flying, texting somebody. Of course it was Kyungsoo. Of course it was about the awkwardness between Baekhyun and Jongin. He quietly wishes for carpal tunnel in both their thumbs and pushes the annoyance out of his expression with a cheesy, shit-eating grin.

Kyungsoo smooths the last of the creases out of the sheets and looks up. "You can't fuck him in my mother's house," he warns. "I will kill you, Baekhyun."

"Jesus, Kyungsoo. I'm not going to fuck him." Baekhyun laughs until he sees the steely look on Kyungsoo's face and disguises it as a coughing fit.

 

--

 

Sometime in the middle of the night Baekhyun wakes up with a full bladder and picks his way across the sleeping bodies on the floor of Kyungsoo's bedroom to the bathroom at the end of the hall. On the way he passes the guest room and sees the light pooling through the crack under the door.

Jongin's in there. Alone. Kyungsoo'd graciously offered him a room of his own—he'd mentioned something about your back in passing and Baekhyun'd been curious, but not enough to ask at the dinner table in front of everyone else.

The light's still on when he emerges, hands still dripping wet because he can't bring himself to dry his hands on the decorative towels Kyungsoo's mom has hanging in there. He wipes his hands on his boxers and knocks, softly.

After a moment Jongin wrenches the door open and peers through a crack just wide enough to accommodate his face. His hair's a mess but his eyes are wide and alert. His expression scrunches with confusion when he sees it's Baekhyun.

"Hey," Baekhyun says, blinking at the sudden brightness. "I—uh. Saw the light was on."

"Uh-huh," Jongin says. He crosses his legs at the ankle and leans into the doorframe on his elbow and Baekhyun feels a little light-headed even though he knows Jongin's not doing it on purpose. He struggles to find his way back to the original reason for knocking on his door in the middle of the night.

"You—uh. You okay?"

Jongin wrinkles his nose and huffs out a quiet laugh. "I'm fine. Just couldn't sleep. Are you okay?"

"I—yeah." Baekhyun nods one too many times. And then: "Chanyeol snores, you know."

"I do, actually. He stays at our place sometimes. It's like a chainsaw," Jongin says. Baekhyun feels very cold—then warm and flustered—and then the heavy weight of realization smashing into his chest. Of course Chanyeol's been staying over there. Sehun. "You wanna come in or something?" Jongin asks, pulling the door wide. Baekhyun hesitates for a moment and then follows him inside.

Inside, the sheets are pulled back on the bed, headphones peeking out from underneath the pillows. Jongin sits back down on the bed. The mattress springs creak quietly.

"So," he says, crossing his legs, "what's up?"

"Nothing. Are you—uh—enjoying? The trip?"

Jongin lifts a shoulder to his ear. "Yeah, it's fine. I've never really been out of California before."

Baekhyun hums thoughtfully, not really paying attention to Jongin's answer. He's too busy thinking about other things. "Hey," he says suddenly. "Can we—I feel like we didn't. That yesterday, we... there were other things I should've said. To you."

Jongin shrugs again. "Yeah. Sure."

"I mean. I know it's late. Are you tired? I just wanted to—"

"Baekhyun," Jongin says smoothly, cutting him off, "I'm not tired." He leans back on his elbows and waits, watching as Baekhyun's mouth opens and closes, then opens again. "You wanted to talk. So... talk."

Baekhyun tries to speak and nothing happens, until he sees Jongin's eyebrows narrow into a confused frown and it all comes out at once, like the contents of a ketchup bottle. "You know. I never should have let you think that you were like the others." He clears his throat, remembering what Jongin had said at the time. "Baekhyun Byun. Kiss the boys and make them cry," he recites, the words burned into his memory. He's thought about that line every day since he called it off. "It really sucked to hear that."

"I'm sorry I upset you," Jongin murmurs, sitting on the edge of the bed, eyes lowered to the rug. "I was just really mad at you."

"That's understandable. I probably would've been mad at me, too." Baekhyun sighs and rakes his hand through his hair. "For what it's worth, you were different. You scared the hell out of me."

"Different?" Jongin challenges. "Scared? Of what?"

Baekhyun closes his eyes. He's sort of had this conversation half a dozen times—with his friends, always. But they're the ones that do the talking. He's never articulated any of these thoughts out loud, even if he's privately agreed with every assessment of himself that Chanyeol, Kyungsoo and Jongdae have offered.

He sees flashes of the few guys he'd tried to sleep with since Jongin. He can't even remember their names, just the heavy dread that settled into his stomach moments after he came. Sneaking out of their apartments, clothes on inside out and backwards. The shame of ducking behind a pillar at a bar to hide when he encountered them in public again.

Jongin's voice changes. It's softer this time. "Baekhyun?"

"You don't think you were being a little clingy?" Baekhyun asks, looking at Jongin. "I really liked you. A lot. And then you said the l-word way too soon, and it freaked me out."

"It was how I felt."

"You barely knew me. We—half the time we were together we were fucking, not talking. I don't even—Christ," Baekhyun laughs, "I don't even know your major."

"Dance," Jongin supplies. "How could you not know that one? It was pretty obvious."

"Whatever. It's not really the point—you know? And when I said—the minute I told you to back off, you said I was just like they said. Whoever they are." Baekhyun draws a slow breath between his molars and holds it there. "It feels like... you'd already made up your mind on who I was. And it was so easy for you to just. Believe this stuff and walk away. I guess it just felt like... you liked me so much."

"Yeah? I did. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?"

Baekhyun looks back towards the door, wishing he hadn't started this conversation.

"And why didn't you just say something?"

"I didn't want things to change."

And there it is. The thing Baekhyun's been wrestling with.

Jongin, for his part, looks startled. Baekhyun knows. He's heard the things people say about him—heartless shit and man eater—and he's accepted it's easier to be passive about his reputation, to let people think whatever they want to think about him, instead of fighting it. Instead of setting the record straight.

Jongin's weight dips the mattress, heavy and sudden. "I don't—understand. What would have changed? What would have changed if you were just honest with me?" He doesn't quite look triumphant, but there's some underlying gloat there, if you look carefully enough. "You liked me."

"Yeah." Baekhyun can barely hear himself speak over the ringing of blood in his ears, the wave of shame cresting over him. "I do—did. Do. Yes."

"Do?"

"Forget it. I'm not here to say anything other than I'm sorry."

Jongin fiddles with the bedspread for a long moment, fingers tracing the patchwork triangles down, like jagged teeth, a zig zag of blue stretched from one end of the bed to the other. "Okay," he mumbles finally, more to his own lap than to Baekhyun.

"Okay?"

"Yeah. Okay." Jongin doesn't say I forgive you, which is about what Baekhyun expected. He really couldn't have hoped for—well. He didn't even know what he was hoping for, but the way Jongin smiles at him when he looks up makes him feel better than he has in months. More like himself.

He takes a few shuffling steps backwards towards the door, toes curled into the carpet when he jerks his thumb behind him and says, "Well. Uh. I'm just going to—go back. Try and get some sleep, I guess."

"Hey. Don't go. Chanyeol, remember?" Jongin coaxes, charming as ever, eyes warm and mild. He's still smiling.

Baekhyun swallows heavily and looks around the room. There's not a lot of floor space, but enough. He could probably get away with crashing on the rug, he's that tired, but. It seems awkward. "I left my sleeping bag back in there, and I don't—"

"Just sleep here," Jongin says, patting the left side of the bed. "There's enough room. If we were able to cram into a twin XL back in the dorms, this should be easy."

Baekhyun balks. "I'm... not so sure that's a good idea."

"It would've been a terrible idea if you suggested it. But I said okay—and so it's okay." It sounds so reasonable. Jongin pulls the covers back with a dramatic flourish and tugs the lamp chain twice, plunging the room into relative darkness. "Come on," he says, voice so much louder when Baekhyun can't see his lips moving. "What are you waiting for?"

Baekhyun takes a few tentative steps forward, hands outstretched, reaching for the invisible bedpost in the dark. He meets Jongin's fingers before he hits bed. Allows Jongin to wrap his hands around his wrists and guide him up onto the mattress.

"Baekhyun," Jongin whispers, nuzzling Baekhyun's hairline. Baekhyun shakes his head. He can't tell if he's having a vivid flashback or that really is the familiar weight of Jongin's jaw cradled in his palm.

"I'm a jerk," he says.

"Yeah." He feels the rise of Jongin's mouth against the skin under his ear. "You are."

Baekhyun had forgotten what it was like to kiss Jongin—or maybe not forgotten so much as repressed the memory, because it hurt too much. But it's like no time has passed at all. He remembers the precise angle Jongin tilts his head when he's leaning in, the sound of his breathing, heavy through his nose, the firm slide of his lower lip when it catches between Baekhyun's teeth.

Except it's also completely different. Before, Jongin'd been—well, young, sure, but inexperienced. Too excitable, maybe. Kissed eagerly, earnestly. Like every time he did he was trying to send a message. He's more reserved now. He doesn't push quite as insistently. He sits back, hands braced against the nape of Baekhyun's neck, and waits for Baekhyun to come to him instead.

He pulls back a little when Baekhyun's hand migrates south, fingers curled around the waistband of his sweats.

"Nnn," he says, burying his face in the dip of Baekhyun's shoulder. Baekhyun feels his cheeks flush red with embarrassment and retracts his hand back into his own space.

"I'm sorry, I didn't—just forget I did that. Habit," he blusters, looking away. Jongin chuckles fondly into Baekhyun's neck.

"Sleep," he says. He doesn't sound annoyed, just drowsy. Baekhyun turns just in time for Jongin to bury his face in Baekhyun's pillow and sigh with contentment.

"We, uh." Baekhyun balls his fists in the sheets and steels himself to keep looking at Jongin, even though he'd rather roll onto the floor and under the bed than be here right now. "We should probably talk. About. You know."

Jongin grunts. "Not now."

Baekhyun purses his lips. "Why not?"

"Because it's four in the morning."

"But—"

"I'm tired," Jongin says firmly, putting an end to the conversation. "Go to sleep."

 

--

 

Baekhyun isn't sure if he's still dreaming or not when he feels a fingertip pull him out of sleep, tracing the arch of his brow, followed by the damp warmth of a kiss right across the bridge of his nose. The pins and needles in his arm fizzle uncomfortably.

Definitely not a dream.

"Your breath stinks," he murmurs after a moment. Jongin pauses, the heat of his mouth hovering very close to Baekhyun's eyelids.

"Mmm," he agrees, dropping featherlight kisses onto the round apple of Baekhyun's cheek. "Yours, too."

Baekhyun opens his eyes. Jongin's lying across the pillow, eyes wide but gentle.

"Hi," he says. Baekhyun looks up at the ceiling, exhales slowly.

"Shit."

Outside in the hallway, a door opens and closes again. Baekhyun sits bolt upright, eyes wide, clutching at the sheets in his lap. The household's just waking up. Pretty soon someone's going to notice that he's not curled in a sleeping bag next to Jongdae—if they haven't already noticed.

"Shit. I—they're going to wonder where I went. Kyungsoo's going to kill me if he finds me in here." He doesn't say the words 'with you' but they hang heavy in the air anyway.

"Nothing happened," Jongin says, thumbing at Baekhyun's chin. "Chanyeol's snoring was keeping you awake. You came in here and crashed on the floor."

Baekhyun's already up on his feet, pressing up against the door, listening. It's quiet.

Jongin watches him, forehead rutted with concern.

"I don't hear anything. I think the coast is clear. I'll just. I'll see you at breakfast," Baekhyun says, turning the door knob. The way Jongin's lips mirror that action, the way they twist—Baekhyun wants to crawl back into bed and kiss it away.

Down the hall, he hears a shower turn off, and realizes he's only got a few seconds before he'll be spotted leaving Jongin's room. He doesn't turn around to look at Jongin's face again.

 

--

 

"You're a chicken," Jongdae says later when he emerges from the City Convenience store, shopping bag full of ice cream bars swinging from his wrist.

Baekhyun opens his mouth to retort and finds that for once, he's got nothing to say. He accepts the ice cream Jongdae pushes at him easily enough, idle fingers twisting the paper wrap away from the cone, already sweaty with the oppressive heat.

Jongin's walking a few paces ahead with Sehun, but he keeps stealing glances back at Baekhyun, lower lip sucked pensively between his teeth.

"If he's dumb enough to think there's still something between the two of you, then what are you doing talking to me? Go hold his hand."

Baekhyun startles, fingers dripping with vanilla ice cream. "I—what?"

"What are we talking about?" Kyungsoo asks, falling into step on the other side of Baekhyun. "Baekhyun looks like he's going to shit." Jongdae passes off the bag to Kyungsoo, who rummages through it and pulls out a grape popsicle.

"I was just saying," Jongdae says, taking a bite out of his ice cream cone, "how well-rested Baekhyun seems. You know. After sleeping all night on the floor."

Kyungsoo stops dead. "Baekhyun. You didn't."

Baekhyun scoffs, hoping Kyungsoo doesn't notice the flush creeping up his neck. "I didn't—what? No, of course not."

The fist full of sharp knuckles that plants itself into Baekhyun's kidney doesn't seem to buy his story.

 

--

 

In the end, Baekhyun remains a coward.

Jongin comes looking for him, instead. Which is fitting, Baekhyun supposes, considering that's the way it's always been. Maybe the way it should be, except this time around Baekhyun wants to be waiting for him, wants to be exactly where Jongin can find him.

He's sitting in the back seat of Chanyeol's car, flipping his phone from hand to hand in his lap. He'd tried calling his parents, just to let them know he was alright and that they were leaving for home in the morning, but he'd forgotten the three hour time difference and had spoken to the answering machine instead.

Jongin slides in next to him and sits there, staring ahead. Waiting. Baekhyun clears his throat awkwardly, inhales, smells the evergreen curl of Jongin's deodorant, working hard against the summer heat and mostly failing.

"Hey," Baekhyun murmurs. He holds up the phone. "Trying to call—my parents aren't home, I guess."

Jongin shrugs. "It's still early there."

"Yeah."

Jongin lets his head come to rest against the bony jut of Baekhyun's collarbone. "You know they know, right."

"Know? What? That we're talking again? Yeah, I know."

"Chanyeol told me," Jongin says quietly, hand soothing the fine brown hair on Baekhyun's forearm. "That you've been missing me this whole time."

Baekhyun stiffens. "He—oh. Okay."

"I figured—you knew he was coming over. That he and Sehun have been seeing each other. I was always just surprised that you never came along, too."

"I really didn't think I was welcome."

"You're the one that broke things off, Baekhyun," Jongin points out, voice soft. "Not me. You've always been welcome." He nestles his head further into the notch of Baekhyun's shoulder.

"I didn't know," Baekhyun manages, voice croaking. He feels dizzy.

"Now you do, I guess." Jongin pauses. "Kyungsoo thinks you fucked me."

"You wouldn't let me," Baekhyun points out a little too quickly before he scooches a little further away from Jongin in embarrassment. "Not that I—I mean, it's fine, you didn't—"

"It was late," Jongin says reasonably, hand coming to rest on Baekhyun's thigh. He squeezes gently. "It's not four in the morning right now."

Oh. Baekhyun chokes on his own spit and sits there for a moment, hunched over, elbows on his knees, trying to breathe. Jongin pats him gently, laughing to himself like he's just told the funniest joke.

When Baekhyun's finally able to inhale again without it devolving into a coughing fit, he moves away again and looks at Jongin, then up at the front porch of Kyungsoo's house, then back at Jongin. "Shit," he says. "Don't joke around like that."

Jongin sits there in the dark, soft smile at the corners of his lips. "I'm not," he says simply. "We can. If you still want to." Baekhyun tries to shy away from his hand but Jongin persists and traces a fingertip down Baekhyun's cheek.

And that's all it takes. Baekhyun leans in—tentative, a little frightened, feels the warm press of Jongin's mouth against his and wants to pinch himself, because this is how all the dreams he's had of Jongin always start.

He always wakes up before the good part.

But not this time.

Baekhyun wasn't planning this, but suddenly Jongin's naked and spread out on the back seat of Chanyeol's car and Baekhyun can't think straight anymore. Jongin tugs half-heartedly at the hem of Baekhyun's shirt, eyes beseeching, and hangs an ankle around the headrest of the passenger seat. The way he's lying here, completely exposed, eyes dark and serious with want—it's such a difference from even just a week ago. From the boy who came into Chanyeol's garage and wouldn't look Baekhyun in the eye.

"Jesus," Baekhyun says. He's suddenly spooked at how fast they're moving. He rubs a hand down his face. "Jesus, I don't—I don't know what I'm doing."

"Baekhyun," Jongin says slowly, hand splayed across Baekhyun's bare chest. "Relax. Come here."

Baekhyun closes his eyes and lets Jongin kiss him calm, lips soft and plush, the give of his mouth so slow it feels like an eternity before Jongin lies back and smooths his palm down the side of Baekhyun's face.

Jongin presses his face into the curve of Baekhyun's neck and says, "I'm ready. Please." Baekhyun thinks back to the first time. The night after the showcase, back when Baekhyun'd barely known Jongin's name. It'd been frantic, then. Jongin'd been so unsure. Maybe not frightened, but. Not this confident.

"I don't have any—"

"Check my pockets," Jongin says, hooking an arm around Baekhyun's neck to kiss the side of his face, his ear, the hollow of his throat. "The front ones—yeah."

Baekhyun locates the condom easily enough—and the travel bottle of lube, already half gone. The bottle's tacky to the touch.

"Why do you have this?" he asks. "You just carry around this stuff to wank—"

Jongin beams. "It's Sehun's."

"Jesus Christ." Baekhyun lets it drop to the floor like it burns. Jongin laughs and rummages around until he finds it and holds it to the light.

"Hold out your hand," he commands, uncapping the bottle. "You big baby. Like you've never stolen anyone else's lube before."

Baekhyun tries not to think about it anymore. He focuses on the way Jongin responds to him—the way he relearns Jongin's body in no time at all, like they'd never stopped having sex. Jongin gets up on his hands and knees, cursing quietly about cars. Baekhyun thinks about Jongdae's car and the trip over spring break last year and laughs. They've had this conversation before, too—Jongin in much the same position, sticky lube fingerprints tracked over the window, the upholstery as he settles into place and waits.

Baekhyun stares in amazement at the way he disappears inside Jongin, bottomed out and panting into the sweaty hair at the nape of Jongin's neck. Jongin twists his fingers through Baekhyun's and moans. Baekhyun feels it more than he hears it, the way it thrums in his ribcage like a subwoofer.

Jongin chokes on a sob when Baekhyun pulls out and sits back to roll Jongin over and sit him in his lap. "Want to—" he murmurs, and then kisses Jongin, because he's too embarrassed to say it out loud. Want to see you. Want to kiss you. He's spent too much time not kissing Jongin over the past year. He doesn't want to waste any more.

Jongin laughs, jaw dropped low. "Okay, okay," he says. "Be quiet, they're going to wonder where we are and come looking for us," he warns. "Chanyeol's going to kill us."

"He owes me one," Baekhyun says menacingly, holding Jongin's ass cheeks open with gripping fingers, feeling the warm slide back into Jongin's body trigger a full-body shiver. He's already so fucking close and he hasn't even done anything yet.

He pushes up with his hips, hands exploring where their bodies have joined—the taut arousal of his balls, Jongin's sweat-slick skin that slaps against Baekhyun's thighs each time he lifts himself up only to slam back down, groaning, begging.

"God, I missed you," Baekhyun wheezes. Jongin seems too lost inside of himself to hear. He doesn't acknowledge it, just whimpers and rolls the stiffness out of his neck. His hands slip from Baekhyun's shoulders to his chest, his waist, then finally on his own dick. He keeps his eyes closed the whole way down, teeth sunk into his lower lip, pressed pale pink and bloodless.

Baekhyun pulls him closer, wraps his fist around Jongin's and sucks an angry purple kiss right under the line of Jongin's jaw. Jongin gasps.

"Shh," Baekhyun cautions, smothering Jongin's whimpers with his other palm. "Not so loud. They'll hear you."

Jongin nods, body flushed, and curls in on himself as he comes. He clenches so tightly around Baekhyun's dick that Baekhyun can't stifle his own cries, orgasm ripping through his body like he hasn't come in years.

 

--

 

In the morning, when they all pile into the car and wave goodbye to Kyungsoo, Chanyeol's angrier about the bottle of lube on his seat than he is about the lingering smell of sex. Baekhyun smiles with all of his teeth, unrepentant, and puts his earbuds in. On the other side of Jongdae, Jongin is already fast asleep against the car window, Baekhyun's red varsity jacket tucked over his lap, the corners of his mouth peaked into a contented smile.

I knew it, Jongdae texts Baekhyun. Don't fuck it up this time.

I won't, Baekhyun replies, eyes trained on the rise and fall of Jongin's chest. Promise.