"I should’ve believed you
When I heard you saying it:
The only time
That love is an easy game
Is when two other people
Are playing it."
- Oh, Marion, Paul Simon
Sungyeol is coming out of the bathroom as Woohyun’s going in, and Woohyun’s eyes are so dim and his face so set, just as they have been since practice, that the sight knots something up inside Sungyeol until he can’t keep the words from spilling out. “You’re pathetic, you know that?”
(This isn’t who Sungyeol wants to be; he doesn’t want to be cruel, but sometimes when it’s Woohyun he just can’t help it. Maybe it’s because sometimes when he looks at Woohyun the façade cracks and he sees all his own insecurities, and it’s the ugliest view he could ever imagine. Maybe that’s the reason, but he’s never going to examine that, so the thought stays firmly in the realm of the half-formed where he doesn’t have to actually look at it but it eats away at something he can’t name.)
For once Woohyun doesn’t even try to pretend that he doesn’t know what Sungyeol’s talking about. He probably knows just how obvious he was earlier, fighting for Sunggyu’s attention during practice (in all the worst ways: Woohyun knows his charm doesn’t work on the other members like it does on outsiders, and so his attempts to win the other guys over come across as criticism of their dancing and patronizing instructions on their singing and sometimes Sunggyu doesn’t stand for it) and his face going tight when their leader told him to back off. Probably all the other guys noticed, too: Hoya never pays attention to stuff like that, but even he looked a little embarrassed, and Myungsoo, who up until that moment had been totally absorbed in trying to master the new moves, had blinked and watched it all with quiet eyes. Dongwoo had looked troubled—no one hates tension amongst the members like Dongwoo—and Sungjong had rolled his eyes, and Sungyeol had felt sick to his stomach. He’s been angry since then, and he doesn’t know why, and it had only gotten worse watching the way that Woohyun had jerked back and fallen into taut silence for the rest of the practice.
Woohyun looks really, really tired (and yes, Sungyeol’s already regretting saying anything, but there’s nothing he can do it about it now). But Woohyun is still Woohyun, so he scowls and says, “You’re one to talk.” His gaze shoots over his shoulder and out into the living room, and Sungyeol can’t help but follow it to see Myungsoo with his back against the wall, pecking way at his laptop.
Sungyeol’s cheeks definitely don’t burn. “That’s different.” And it is. It is. Because he’s not in love with Myungsoo. Not the way that Woohyun is with Sunggyu. Sungyeol is not in love, he just misses his best friend.
There’s no reason, absolutely none that Sungyeol can put his finger on, that he should feel such a distance between himself and Myungsoo lately. It’s not like they’ve fought or anything like that, and on the surface, nothing at all has changed. Probably Myungsoo would still say that Sungyeol’s his best friend (actually, Sungyeol knows he does, because he’s read the interviews. It’s not he goes seeking them out, and it’s not like he puts much stock in anything any of them say to the public. But sometimes he finds himself reading the words and combing them for secret meanings, and Sungyeol really hates himself lately, even more than usual). But now he feels like Myungsoo is just so far away and he doesn’t know how to bridge that distance anymore. When he tries, all the ways he used to, teasing and kicks from his long legs and stealing his stuff, it feels awkward, like trying to force himself into clothes he’s outgrown.
He hasn’t said anything to anyone, of course. But Sungjong blinked owlishly at Myungsoo’s receding back one day at breakfast after another failed attempt on Sungyeol’s part to push his relationship with Myungsoo back onto familiar tracks and said, “Maybe you’ve outgrown the way you used to interact and haven’t found a new way yet.”
“Nobody asked you.” He meant it to come out harsh, but instead it just sounded kind of weary.
Sungjong, though, just snorted and rose with that strange, graceful dignity he can pull out sometimes, usually when it’s least expected. “Whatever, hyung.” Like Sungyeol wasn’t even worth the bother of getting offended by.
And Sungyeol definitely didn’t sit brooding at the table until Woohyun stuck his head into the room and told him to get his ass in gear before he made them all late.
Sungyeol’s been brooding a lot lately, and maybe that’s why he’s snapping at Woohyun now. Woohyun is usually the one he can count on for a good argument when he needs to lash out, especially now that Sungjong’s gotten all scary when he’s angry. Sungyeol can’t very well lash out at his leader, and Dongwoo’s far too good-natured to argue about nothing, and Hoya’s too laid back, and Myungsoo is Myungsoo. But Woohyun can keep up, can toss the words back as quickly as Sungyeol can serve them, and he’ll have forgotten all about it by tomorrow (or at least he acts like he does).
But Woohyun doesn’t take the bait this time. He narrows his eyes at Sungyeol’s flushed cheeks, then makes a sound that, coming from anyone else but Woohyun, would be a weary sigh. “Sure. Fine. Not the same at all. I’m the only pathetic one here.” And then he shoves past Sungyeol into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
Sungyeol stands awkwardly in the hall, cheeks hot and for some reason so angry. He battles the anger back eventually, and he walks to his room without glancing again at Myungsoo.
Sungyeol’s exhausted after his schedule the next night, all afternoon and evening filming some stupid variety show where they wanted him to act like a clown, and so he did (sometimes he thinks the only thing he’s good at is acting like an idiot on variety shows. He was training to be an MC at SM, not the serious actor he wanted to be, and years of Infinite can’t make him forget that). But where it used to be so easy when they first debuted—choding Sungyeol, with his animal impressions and his anything-but-graceful dancing—it just leaves him drained now, and he’s fighting a headache as he opens the door to the dorm and stumbles over the piles of shoes that always clog the entry hall, toeing off his own without bothering to untie the laces.
The lights aren’t on in the living room, but the ones in the kitchen are, reaching just far enough for Sungyeol to easily spot the empty soju bottles beside the new couch. There’s a head sticking up over the armrest, but Sungyeol doesn’t figure out who it is until he’s almost right on top of him.
“Where is everybody?” Sungyeol asks.
Woohyun blinks up at him blearily, hugging a half-empty green bottle close to his chest. It takes him a moment to answer. “Bed. Schedules.” He waves his free hand lazily before shutting his eyes.
The bedroom seems an awfully long way from here, though it isn’t at all, and Sungyeol can smell the alcohol a little too sharply, so he lets himself collapse onto Woohyun’s legs at the other end of the sofa. Woohyun makes a noise of protest, yanking his feet back until Sungyeol’s sitting only on couch cushion, then stretching his legs out again until his feet are in Sungyeol’s lap. It’s the kind of casual touching that they’re all used to after years of sharing too little space and too many fan expectations, but right now it feels good to have someone here beside him. Sungyeol isn’t as clingy as Myungsoo or as touchy as Dongwoo, but there are moments when he feels like the only thing that will keep him sane is the bump of Hoya’s arm against his own in the van or Sungjong leaning against him for a photo. It doesn’t matter who it is: just being reminded that there are actually people around him and not just plastic figures constructed for the benefit of ravenous, faceless audiences is enough.
There’s a hole in the toe of Woohyun’s sock, which isn’t like him. Sungyeol finds himself staring at the peep of skin as he reaches out and tugs the bottle away from Woohyun.
They don’t drink to excess very often, managers and CEO always ready to remind them that losing their inhibitions could mean losing everything they’ve worked for, and all of them know their limits (Sungyeol is more than willing to admit that he’s a lightweight, mostly because it’s always been hilarious to him that Myungsoo can hold his alcohol better than anyone). But right now, Woohyun looks like he’s made it past tipsy, and as Sungyeol takes his first swig, he thinks he might be up for joining him.
“How was it?” Woohyun asks after a moment where the droning of the air conditioner is the only sound in the room. God, Sungyeol loves this new dorm: loves the air conditioner. Not as much Myungsoo does, of course, but there’s nothing in the world like heading back from a long practice and knowing that the deliciously cool air of the dorm is waiting for them.
Sungyeol snorts. “The usual.”
“How big of an idiot did you look tonight?”
Sungyeol relishes the burn of the soju and the smoothness of the lip of the bottle before he answers. “Pretty big. No animal impressions, though.”
“Thank God for that.”
There’s a faint slur to his voice, just enough of one that Sungyeol can’t help but ask, “Is there any particular reason for your little impromptu pity-party?” Because he knows what happy drinking looks like, and bored drinking, and even angry drinking. But this, alone in the dark with too many bottles, is drown-your-sorrows drinking.
“The usual,” Woohyun says, and there’s nothing at all Sungyeol can say to that but, “Oh.”
He should let it go, he knows that, because they don’t talk about this. None of them talk about this, at least not in words (sometimes there are lifted eyebrows, pointed glances, choked-off laughs. But they don’t talk about it, not ever). But Woohyun just looks really pathetic in that ridiculous sleeveless white hoodie that’s always made him look a little bit like a kid playing astronaut, peeping out of his helmet. Sungyeol knows he’s not the height of fashion, and he mostly doesn’t care, sticking to cardigans and polos and jeans like he had before he became an idol. And Woohyun’s friends with Key-sunbae, so he probably knows at least something about what’s in style. But Sungyeol mostly thinks he looks like a fool when he dresses himself, and never more so than in that hoodie.
Besides, he’s going to finish this bottle of soju soon—it’s burning just right. So he says it.
“You know, you should probably get over him.”
Woohyun had been shifting a little to get comfortable, toes kneading at Sungyeol’s thighs, but he freezes at Sungyeol’s words.
“I mean,” Sungyeol says, taking another swig, “I used to think he’d come around—or that he already had, and you two just weren’t letting the rest of us know about it. You usually get what you want, after all.”
Woohyun’s breathing is ragged now, and he still hasn’t moved at all, but Sungyeol doesn’t notice. He knows, distantly, that he’s drinking too fast, especially on his empty stomach (when was the last time he ate?), and he also knows that he’s using that as an excuse—even he isn’t this much of a lightweight. But he’s felt so boxed in lately by all the things no one ever says. He would have thought he’d get used to that, after years of being Myungsoo’s best friend. And he’s pretty decent at reading between the lines when he wants to be (except when it comes to Myungsoo, apparently). But right now all he wants, more than he wants to just take a vacation and rest or to get cast in a decent drama or for Myungsoo to act like himself again, is for everyone to just say things. Sure, it’ll probably blow up in their faces, but it’s better than this. Anything’s better than this.
So he keeps talking. Talking back the silence. “But I think he’s been making it pretty clear lately that it’s only for the cameras.”
Sungyeol remembers then, something he hadn’t paid attention to earlier in the day: an appearance, and Sunggyu flung his arm around Woohyun, and Woohyun curled into his chest, and they whispered, their faces a little bit too close together, in that way that makes the fangirls scream. But when they’d all trampled off the stage and down the stairs, Sunggyu had shrugged Woohyun away and put as many members between them as he could. Woohyun’s face hadn’t changed at all, and Sungyeol hadn’t paid any attention to it—his attention was on Dongwoo’s arm around Myungsoo’s waist just ahead of him. But it’s no wonder Woohyun’s drinking in the dark now. It’s bad enough for Sungyeol when it’s just his best friend he can’t quite manage to connect with anymore. It’s got to be so much worse when it’s the person you’re crazy in love with who clings to you in front of the audience and shoves you aside as soon as the curtain drops.
“I think,” Woohyun says very carefully, in that way that only the intoxicated can manage, “That you should shut the fuck up.”
Sungyeol leans his head back, his neck resting on the top of the couch, the top of his head banging softly against the wall and takes another swig. “It’s probably for the best, anyway. What would we do if you two actually got together and then broke up? I’m pretty sure we’d implode with the force of your collapsed ego alone.”
“I said. Shut. The fuck. Up.”
Woohyun’s jerked himself upright, his movement ungraceful, and Sungyeol turns his head to look at him. Woohyun’s eyes are blazing, and it could be alcohol or anger or something else altogether, and Sungyeol knows--knows—he should back off. But there was that variety show, and there was Myungsoo and Dongwoo laughing together, and there’s the soju and he hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks (years?) and sometimes the earrings still irritate him and—
“Infinite is more important than your lonely heart,” he says, and the words aren’t even out of his mouth before Woohyun’s lurched forward and grabbed him by the collar, both hands fisting in the material. Sungyeol drops the soju bottle—just now empty; he’ll be thankful about that tomorrow—and it drops between his hip and the armrest of the couch, a too-hard lump against his hipbone. Not that he’s paying attention to it at all now.
Woohyun’s face is very close, fan-service close, but his eyes are narrowed and his breathing is too much, too hard, especially with the way he reeks of soju.
“You’re going to tell me what Infinite is more important than? You? When was the last time you actually tried in a performance? Knowing the moves isn’t enough, you know.” The slurring is gone now, but Sungyeol doesn’t think Woohyun is any more sober than he was before. “If you’re so over the whole idol thing, why don’t you leave? Even Myungsoo wouldn’t miss you anymore.”
Something explodes inside Sungyeol, and he isn’t sure whether it’s fury or hurt, because they both burn the same: so, so, so much hotter than the soju. He’s shaking with it, so even at this distance, his fist misses Woohyun’s smirking mouth, just grazing his cheekbone instead. Woohyn’s hands tighten in the fabric of his shirt, and Sungyeol tries to wrench himself free. Woohyun’s biceps are practically the size of Sungyeol’s thighs (which actually says more about the skinniness of Sungyeol’s legs than it does about Woohyun’s arms, because Woohyun’s pretty slender himself), but Sungyeol’s got more than a head’s height on him, and shouldn’t that count for something?
They struggle for a long moment, their breathing labored and the soju bottle shifting around with their movement to poke Sungyeol in the side again and again and again.
“You think you’re better than me?” Sungyeol grunts out. “Better than me with your voice and your abs and your aegyo?” He almost manages to get Woohyun into a headlock, but Woohyun slips away.
“Yeah,” Woohyun spits. “I am better than you. And everyone knows it, too.” He jerks his leg out, kicks, and his foot connects with Sungyeol’s thigh, just a few inches away from a more painful destination.
“Well, what does that matter? Sunggyu still doesn’t want you.”
Later, Sungyeol will wonder how they had the presence of mind not to be louder than they are, to hiss and fling insults in undertones. But in the moment, he isn’t aware he’s doing it, thinking only of his own pain and how to cause the most to Woohyun.
“You just can’t get that through your thick head, can you? Even after all these years.”
“Shut up shut up shut up.” Woohyun manages to get an arm free enough to slam an elbow into Sungyeol’s side, and Sungyeol digs his fingernails into Woohyun’s shoulder as hard as he can. It’s a chick move, but he doesn’t care. Anything to make him feel the way Sungyeol is feeling.
But Sungyeol couldn’t stop the words even if he tried. They force their way out, ugly and sharp and everything Sungyeol doesn’t want to be, everything he never was when he was just a kid back in Yongin who had the dream of one day being an actor. “He doesn’t want you, and he’ll never want you, and if the fans knew who you really were behind your grease, they wouldn’t want you either.”
A sound like a growl explodes out of Woohyun’s chest, and then he’s launching himself towards Sungyeol, and Sungyeol thinks he might actually be done for this time, but that’s in the split second before Woohyun’s lips attack his.
It’s not exactly good. It’s not exactly anything, except messy and too harsh and completely unlike anything else Sungyeol has ever experienced. Woohyun’s mouth is too hot and too wet and it takes like soju turned even more bitter, and Woohyun’s yanking on the collar of Sungyeol’s shirt so hard that the back of it is cutting into his neck.
But Sungyeol doesn’t pull away. Instead, he pushes back as much as he can, launching a war on Woohyun’s mouth. Maybe it’s because the last time he actually kissed someone was a peck with Jihyun back when he was filming the sitcom, a kiss so milquetoast it couldn’t possibly count by anyone’s standards, especially when an entire film crew was watching and the PD kept interrupting to shout directions. Maybe it’s the soju and the lack of sleep, though Sungyeol has been strung out on both before and he’s never done anything like this. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s been feeling more and more dispensable these days, like people look right past him (like Myungsoo looks right past him), like he almost isn’t there at all and now all of Woohyun’s attention is focused on him. Mostly, he thinks later, it’s nothing at all that makes any kind of sense.
The why, he’ll decide, really doesn’t matter.
He finally has jerk away to catch his breath, because he’s pretty sure if he doesn’t, Woohyun will keep on kissing him until one of them passes out. “What the fuck?” he manages to sputter as soon as he’s gulped in a huge breath. “What the—“
“Just shut the fuck up,” Woohyun commands, and then his lips are back and he’s shoved Sungyeol back against the couch and now the soju bottle is digging into the side of his neck, but he can’t untangle his fingers from Woohyun’s hair long enough to do anything about it, so he ignores it.
It’s really easy to ignore it, actually. Sungyeol has no idea what kind of a kisser Woohyun is, and this melding of mouths really isn’t giving him the opportunity to find out. It’s too harsh, too close, too much, and Woohyun smells like soju and sweat and that awful cologne he wears and he’s on top of Sunyeol and somehow one of Sungyeol’s hands is gripping his bare shoulder so hard he’s pretty sure he’s going to snap Woohyun’s collarbone right in half.
And that’s before Woohyun starts grinding on him.
Sungyeol just about chokes into the kiss and he would pull away, but Woohyn’s got his fingers tangled up in Sungyeol’s hair and uses the grip to keep him where he wants him. Sungyeol can’t even think about what Woohyun’s tongue feels like in his own mouth because Woohyun has somehow positioned himself so that one of Sungyeol’s thighs is in between his legs and he’s, well, riding it. It may be Sungyeol’s imagination, but he’s pretty sure he can feel the heat of Woohyn’s erection—getting harder by the minute—even through two layers of jeans, and it’s not a good thing to panic when someone else has their tongue in your mouth. Sungyeol thinks about just shoving Woohyun away (and afterwards he’ll never be sure why he didn’t), but somehow that thought never quite turns into a command to his body, and so it doesn’t happen.
Woohyun finally detaches himself from Sungyeol’s mouth, allowing him to gulp down air the way a thirsty man would water. But then he’s gasping again, breathless, because Woohyun’s mouth slides down to his neck, to his collarbones, and Sungyeol hears himself make a sound he’s pretty sure he’s never made before, some kind of moan. It turns into a whine, though, when he feels Woohyun’s hand sliding up under his shirt (his hands are almost as hot as his mouth, or at least that’s the way it feels, and is it even possible for a person to burn that hot?), and then a shriek a moment later when Woohyun grabs one of his nipples and tweaks. The shriek isn’t all that loud, because Sungyeol’s still trying to get enough breath into his lungs to ensure that he won’t pass out from oxygen deprivation, but it doesn’t sound manly at all, and if Sungyeol could pay any attention to anything other than Woohyun’s tongue and his hands and him humping Sungyeol’s leg, then he’d probably be ashamed, but needless to say, he can’t.
His jeans are too tight now, his shirt feels too rough against skin that’s suddenly hypersensitive, and Woohyun’s mouth is back against Sungyeol’s. But it doesn’t attach itself this time, just bumping up against Sungyeol’s for a moment, for a taste, as though Woohyun can’t concentrate enough on anything but his grinding for long enough to actually kiss. Woohyun yanks and yanks on Sungyeol’s too-long hair, and maybe it should hurt, but Sungyeol’s almost oblivious to it.
And then Woohyun makes this kind of strangled moaning sound that’s anything but sexy (which doesn’t explain why Sungyeol feels it in his toes and fingers), and Sungyeol knows, just knows that Woohyun just came in his pants.
And that’s—that’s too much. Too much.
He tries to jerk away, but he’s too tangled up in Woohyun (too tangled up in Woohyun?) to free himself, and so they both end up on the floor. Sungyeol gathers all his limbs back up, scrabbling away and to his knees, slipping more than once in his socks on that marble floor, and finally—finally—he can feel something that isn’t Woohyun’s skin and clothes, even if it’s just the air-conditioned-cold of the floor beneath his hands.
Woohyun scrambles up to his knees from where Sungyeol dumped him, and then he’s staring at Sungyeol, dead on, and his eyes aren’t bleary like they were earlier, or too bright, either. Sungyeol can’t read them at all, as they sit there panting and staring at each other and how on earth have they not woken anyone (even if Dongwoo and Myungsoo sleep like the dead, the others don’t) and then Sungyeol’s eyes drop to Woohyun’s pants and he can see a dark stain and—
He doesn’t even change out of his painfully tight jeans, and he definitely doesn’t try to take care of the reason they are so tight. Instead, he climbs into his bed as quickly as he can. Dongwoo is snoring, and Hyoan-hyung is, too, and Sungyeol doesn’t fall asleep for a long, long time.