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that 'cake by the ocean' vibe

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“if you want something, then do something about it,” kibum says, and honestly, that is the best advice taemin has ever received.

except jinki’s advice about lotion and stripper poles.

that had been pretty useful, too.

taemin frowns as he thinks. he wants something -- someone. people aren’t things and jonghyun will kill him if he implies otherwise.

he picks a three step plan to follow, taemin’s favorite kind since they’re simple, and he’s already finished with step one -- want. the next step is take, and that’s where he’s stumped. he thought that being in love with his best friend would give him an advantage but no. it’s the exact opposite.

it’s like all the things he knows about jongin are useless. taemin is starting to feel stupid, and when he feels stupid, he does even stupider things like daring minho to eat whatever has been growing in the tupperware in back of their fridge since last round of promotions. he doesn’t know why it’s his fault. minho is the one that actually did it, but jonghyun had been very disappointed.


he likes it better when kibum shouts and threatens to pluck his leg hairs off one by one.

taemin is having a hard enough time without adding jonghyun’s disappointment, so he really needs to figure this out. he could give jongin a puppy. it’s a dog. jongin will accept it no questions asked, and then taemin can reinforce the idea that they’re the puppy’s parents, and they belong together for the sake of their tiny family.

it worked for jinki.

“it wouldn’t have worked for anyone else,” manager-hyung says sounding pained by having to explain the oddity of lee jinki to someone who really should know better. “jinki is, well, jinki.”

“jongin likes dogs more than kibum does,” taemin insists. “it could work.”

“kid, jinki’s been working on kibum for years before the puppy,” manager-hyung says still sound pained but this time because it’s probably not in his job description to explain the subtle art of brainwashing the object of your affection that jinki employed. “jinki’s always been about strategy.”

“oh,” taemin pouts.

he’s never going to achieve step two.

the normal stuff would never work. taemin and jongin already do all that. it’s why everything is very difficult. they’re practically dating already, except without the fun stuff. taemin really wants to get to the fun stuff already. he doesn’t want to shove his face in his pillow trying to smother the desire to fucking kiss someone until the emotion in his chest stops. not anymore. he wants to kiss someone, preferably jongin because jonghyun swore when there was trust and love kissing and sex were thousands of times better, and he’s not going to let something like being platonic boyfriends stop him.

taemin will unplatonic them, damn it.

it’s moonkyu that’s the most helpful.

>>>he’s really obvious, isn’t he? moonkyu messages.

wat <<<


and a click video for youtube pops up in messenger. taemin isn’t moping because he can’t think of a way to get jongin’s face on his. he’s staring at his phone because it’s fun and kibum gave it him after finding it behind the toilet.

>>>his crush on kyungsoo look at his face!!

taemin looks at the video moonkyu sent with interest. with moonkyu’s helpful guiding, taemin concludes jongin is as obvious as fuck. taemin spends five minutes berating himself for not noticing sooner.

“i really am as stupid as they say,” he groans.

“you’re finally catching up?” minho breezes by.

fuck him.


1 question<<<

why you watching kaisoo<<<


taemin doesn’t get a response. he’s pretty sure moonkyu is going to pretend he never received them, but that’s okay. taemin knows what he needs to do now. this is better than a puppy. much better.





“hey, where’s kyungsoo,” taemin asks/demands from a group he thinks might be in exo.

“don’t you mean jongin?” a guy asks.

taemin frowns. and they call him the slow one. maybe there was some truth to exo being overworked. their brains are fried.

“no, KYUNGSOO,” taemin says louder, drawing out kyungsoo’s name.

the little one blinks rapidly at taemin before replying. “i don’t think i want to tell you. too much evil in one place will upset the bala-- ouch!” the little one yelps and rubs his side where, thank god, joonmyun pinched.

finally, someone sane.

“joonmyun.” taemin prods. “where’s kyungsoo.”

“vocal training,” joonmyun says, easily. “why?”

“i know what i’m doing,” taemin says, neatly avoiding the question, and instead giving the older man the response he knows joonmyun will pass on to kibum. that should give him enough of a head start to get somewhere with his plan.

“taemin, just,” joonmyun rubs a hand on his face, which is terrible for his skin. joonmyun should know better than that. “don’t do anything mean.”

“why would i?” taemin asks, completely baffled. “i like kyungsoo. he hits the annoying one for me when i can’t.”

“the annoying one?” the little one repeats. “wait, do you mean this guy? chanyeol?”

“don’t tell him my name!”

taemin frowns while he looks at the dumb one, and yes, that’s the one that’s been making jongin insecure lately. he didn’t recognize him without that stupid smirk. the man takes a nervous step backwards and places his hands up, “no hard feelings, right?”

“sure, no hard feelings,” taemin agrees, and then rapidly punches the guy. the guy groans. “back off jongin. he’s already has to deal with my shit, and i called dibs.”

“what the hell!” the little one yelps.

“i told you your mouth was going to get you in trouble,” another member of exo says, inspecting his nails.

“you did kind of deserve that,” joonmyun agrees.

“fuck. what if him and kyungsoo join forces, then what?”

taemin walks away from the group because as important as it is to defend his best friend, he also wants to get into his best friend’s pants sometime this year. he heads towards the vocal training rooms. he hopes kyungsoo is still there. his chances are good, taemin figures. jinki and jonghyun spend a lot of time practicing, too, and they take their singing as seriously as jongin says kyungsoo takes his.

luck is finally on taemin’s side, and that’s how he knows god wants him to do this, because kyungsoo is just leaving a practice room. he looks good, even in a ratty jacket, messy hair, and new stubble, which taemin appreciates. he understands a little more what draws jongin in.

kyungsoo is cute.

“hey,” taemin calls.

kyungsoo blinks, startled, but he smiles easily enough when he sees who it is. taemin doesn’t smirk because nauen said it was unsettling when did that while walking toward her, like he was up to something and she should be running away. he doesn’t want kyungsoo to runaway. exo might not sell kyungsoo out so easily next time.

“taemin. how are-- what are you doing?”

stalking towards prey still looks threatening, smirk or no smirk, unfortunately.

“shh, just a second,” taemin says, and then he backs kyungsoo against the wall.

kyungsoo’s hands fly up to taemin’s shoulders, clutching taemin’s shirt, firm and ready to push taemin away if he needs to, and there’s better places to do this than in hall of their company’s building, but taemin is impatient and he wants to move to step three of his plan already which is have.

(it had been jinki’s idea a million years ago to give him a system that was easy to follow, and nothing was easier than:

  1. want
  2. take
  3. have

manager has been long suffering since then, either because of the simplicity of the plan or because it actually fucking worked for taemin. manager could be funny like that.)

taemin's taller than kyungsoo, and taemin is pleased with his life choices. jongin is taller than him, and taemin likes kissing people shorter than he is. less stress on his neck. he’s more than confident this is going to work.

he kisses kyungsoo, kind of. kyungsoo froze the same time his shoulder blades touched the wall, and he’s unresponsive. taemin isn’t a monster, despite what minho thinks. minho is a paranoid bastard.

the kiss is more lips brushing and taemin nuzzling, but yeah, taemin is very happy with his life choices. this is going to work on his end no problem. kyungsoo has a soft mouth made for kissing. he feels pleasantly buzzed, and he pulls back to gauge kyungsoo’s reaction.

the other man blinks slowly. his face is blank from shock like kyungsoo doesn’t know how to process having a friend and label mate randomly come up to him to kiss him against a wall. there’s a first time for everything in taemin’s opinion, and taemin is willing to give him multiple opportunities to figure it out. the hands at his shoulders loosen only to tighten and taemin only has a second to think about smirking when kyungsoo pulls him forward.

it’s not a clumsy kiss, and taemin feels a thrill race through him. wow. he places a hand on either side of kyungsoo, and kisses kyungsoo back. it’s hell to try keeping up, and damn, taemin should have been kissing kyungsoo recreationally years ago. kyungsoo’s hands release taemin, and he takes the chance to move away to breathe. his lips feel swollen and used. if he was buzzing before, he’s high now, and there’s really, really better places to be making out with another man than his label’s hallway.

“i--what was--taemin?” kyungsoo flounders when they pull away.

his eyes are confused like he didn't steal what rational thought taemin has left. ha. taemin is on to kyungsoo now. it won't happen a second time that's for sure.

“don’t worry about it,” taemin says, playing along. he can be crafty, too. ask anyone. “i know what i’m doing.”

he pecks Kyungsoo, half wanting the man to grab taemin again and ravage his mouth, before he pushes away from the wall, ready to go. he’s a little regretful. he should have planned this better, but he needs to meet jongin soon, and then his mom wants him to stop by for dinner.

“thanks. you’re really good at that,” he adds in case kyungsoo is one of those that needs praise. jonghyun did say taemin needed to be more thoughtful.


the key is persistence jinki said when taemin asked for advice a million years ago when long hair and perfume were his thing. taemin knows he can’t stop at one or two kisses. he has to keep at it until kyungsoo falls into his arms and then jongin will too. this is a lot more fun than getting a puppy. with a puppy comes responsibility, and he's already a dog dad. that's enough responsibility.

it’s a little harder to find kyungsoo alone. the man refuses to meet taemin’s eyes, and he’s always with someone. taemin is getting frustrated, but it amuses him, too, because kyungsoo picks jongin as his human shield more often than not. taemin would really prefer if kyungsoo was on his side before making a move on jongin, but he’s not picky. he’ll kiss them both and give them time to figure it out if he really needs to.

but minho is always going on and on about following through on goals.

taemin is trying to be a better him. that includes following through on things. and getting what he wants when he wants it. a better him!

(moonkyu had been horrified when taemin revealed his new year's resolutions.)

taemin tries to make more of an effort to find kyungsoo one on one, and when an opportunity still doesn’t appear, he makes one. when exo prepares for their comebacks, it always takes them longer to learn the new choreo. not because they’re bad at it, but because there’s so many of them. taemin’s listened to jongin grumble about it, especially after he learned it only takes taemin’s group three hours to get a new routine cold.

his group is pretty close to perfect in all honesty. it's hard to compete with perfection. taemin tried to stealth adopt jongin into shinee but manager noticed by the third day. so did exo’s. but he tried. that has to count for something.

taemin doesn’t live in the dance studios like people probably assume, but he is there enough to know where everything and everyone is and where they should be. it’s too easy to tell jinki and manager he’s going to work on new stuff the same time exo makes the attempt at a new dance. it’s even easier to come up behind kyungsoo after their practice releases them for lunch and grab him by the elbow and pulls him into a prop room.


“kyungsoo,” taemin mocks gently, and wow. scratch the cute. kyungsoo looks hot glaring at him.

this time it’s easier to convince kyungsoo to kiss him back. kyungsoo’s skin is hot from practice and damp with sweat. taemin doesn’t mind. his own matches. he had to do something to occupy his time, and now he’s technically not lying, and the prop room quickly heats up.

“wait!” kyungsoo says, and he starts pushing at taemin’s shoulders.

taemin jerks back in surprise, a whine coming unbidden from his throat. thank god no one else is around. moonkyu would never let him live it down that someone innocent looking like kyungsoo pulled that kind of noise from taemin who used to kiss models with bored detachment.

not that taemin thinks kyungsoo is innocent in the slightest. he only looks the part. much like taemin only looks like a sweet summer child. they probably will have a lot in common once they have a conversation. but first--

“what?” taemin asks.

and hey, maybe not being attached to kyungsoo’s mouth is a good thing? there’s so much other skin, like his jaw and his neck, and really, kyungsoo is full of good ideas. it should be gross, he thinks a little distantly, but kyungsoo’s skin is salty when he licks it. kyungsoo gasps. taemin moves from kyungsoo’s jaw to press open mouthed kisses against his neck, and taemin needs to suck on the skin there. maybe bite it a little bit, too. he’s thinking, ‘fuck it,’ he’s going to suck a hickey into existence and everyone can just be pissed at him, just as kyungsoo grabs him firmly by the hair and yanks him away.

“i can’t think when you do that!” kyungsoo scolds.

“not supposed to be thinking,” taemin rasps because huh, hair pulling is apparently his thing, okay. he can work with this.

he shuffles against kyungsoo to show him how much not think they should be doing.  for fun, he pulls his head away, and kyungsoo tightens automatically. taemin makes another noise, and he’s ready to abandon his cool. fuck that feels good.

kyungsoo maybe has the upper hand, but taemin will get back. after he asks his hyungs for advice. watch.

kyungsoo swallows and says, “oh.” experimentally, he pulls taemin’s hair again, and really, what else are they supposed to do with this new information except spend kyungsoo’s break exploring it?

“fuck! i have to--”

“yeah, i know, go,” taemin says, and it takes real effort to pull himself away and not rub against kyungsoo until he creams his pants. his hyungs would be really proud. he hasn’t had this much self control off camera in years.

they exit the prop room, and under the sterile lights, taemin preens. kyungsoo looks fucked up. the collar of his shirt is yanked out of shape, and he has red marks littering his throat and collarbone. his glassy eyes are also something taemin is immensely proud of.

“you look worse,” kyungsoo snarks.

taemin shrugs, and he’s about to say something when they’re interrupted by another man. taemin thinks this one might be exo, too. yunho-hyung had it right, there’s too many of the bastards to learn all their names. this one looks young and kind of bratty. taemin would put money on maknae. like recognizes like.

“hyung! where have you been--” the brat’s face pales as he takes in kyungsoo’s and taemin’s disheveled appearances. hesitance stops the man’s words, and he looks at taemin with fear which isn’t something taemin is accustomed to outside of his group. he kind of likes it. “we’re starting practice again, hyung, come on.”

the brat takes kyungsoo by the arm to drag him away, and whispering too loudly, “were you guys fighting? you can tell me. i’ll kick his ass for you.”

“you're not old enough to know,” kyungsoo says, voice dry.

taemin catches his reflection in the glass of a picture frame, and he snickers. his hair definitely looks like someone was pulling it. yeah, fighting. that's one word for it.


“joonmyun said you and kyungsoo are fighting,” jonghyun without preamble when he gets home that night.

taemin rolls his eyes and drops his bag by the front door. he should have known that brat would tattle. all the guys are probably gathered in the living room,and taemin expected kyungsoo to be on his side before his hyungs found out. damn it.

“that brat doesn’t know what he saw,” taemin pouts, and he enters the room proper.

like he expected everyone is in the living room. he feels like a naughty teenager getting caught sneaking out with them all sitting on the couch. it’s kibum that realizes something is amiss with the fighting theory first, and the man snorts. kibum always did have a sharp eye for details.

“i’ll say,” kibum says. “come here.”

taemin goes easily to kibum. the older man could be one of the more terrifying people in his life, but kibum also had a soft spot for him that he leaves wide open for taemin to exploit to his heart’s contentment. he hurries to kibum to plop in his head in the older’s lap and the man instantly starts finger combing his hair. jonghyun frowns next to kibum, arms crossed very paternally, and he shoves his face nearly into taemin’s to observe all the details like taemin’s blown pupils and red and bitten mouth. it’s a look jonghyun is the most familiar with, and he widens his eyes. taemin’s hyungs never could say no to him.


“what?” jinki and minho chorus.

“with kyungsoo?” jonghyun continues. “i could have sworn you wanted jongin.”

“i do,” taemin says, and kibum’s hands running through his hair feels really good. he should have guessed he had a hair kink. he wonders if kibum can give kyungsoo and jongin pointers. “but i like kyungsoo now, too.”

““too,” he says,” kibum grumbles.

“ah,” jinki says, understanding dawning.

“this is why everyone else thinks we’re weird,” minho sighs.

“you want out, you know where the door is,” kibum says.

“i’m just saying,” minho says with a glare. “this isn’t normal.”

“we aren’t normal--”

“we are a little more open minded than most people,” jonghyun interrupts. kibum gives jonghyun a look that even taemin can decipher. it make him giggle. it’s no secret kibum and jonghyun share everything, including gossip about sex. open minded must not cut it. “you might want to keep that in mind, taemin.”

“communication is important,” jinki agrees.

“and a lot of planning,” taemin nods.

the hand in his hair freezes.

“what do you mean?” kibum asks.

“i’m just doing what hyung did. he gave you a puppy, so you guys started dating,” and taemin turns his earnest gaze to jinki. “jongin likes kyungsoo, so if kyungsoo and i like each other, then jongin will want to date the both of us. i talked to manager about this. it’s my strategy.”

“"strategy?"” kibum echoes. “what does he mean, strategy, jinki?”

“right! so now we know taemin and kyungsoo aren’t fighting. good family meeting guys. who’s hungry? i’m paying,” jinki says loudly, standing up and clapping his hands.

“you picked him as your dating role model?” minho asks, bewildered, and a finger pointing at jinki.

“is everything always that easy in your world?” jonghyun asks with interest.

“why wouldn’t it be?” taemin asks. “it worked for hyung. kibum is hot.”

“i don’t think you can give a person another person,” minho adds. “pretty sure that’s illegal.”

“i’m not going to give him kyungsoo, just make it so jongin can’t say no,” taemin defends.

“babe,” jinki tries to pacify, and then he grins sheepishly. “it’s actually not a bad idea? they aren’t fighting, and there won’t be any fallout.”

“yeah,” taemin agrees, having never actually thought of it that way, but kibum is glaring at jinki. “i figured if someone like hyung can end up with someone like you, then if i did it, i’d have a chance. jongin isn’t as upti--”

“complicated,” jinki cuts in smoothly.

“no, uptight is right,” minho says.

“fuck you,” kibum says.

“we’re not dating, even if you nag like we are,” minho retorts.

taemin shares a long suffering look with jinki. he'll never understand kibum’s and minho’s need to be mean to each other, but he figures as long as the two men are having fun, it should be fine. kibum looks like he's thinking of a comeback, and minho is smiling smugly. it's a terrible look for him.

“like kibum would date your pathetic ass,” taemin huffs, proving why he’s kibum’s favorite.

kibum continues the hair petting as a reward, and the older man gloats at minho. minho rolls his eyes. jinki sighs while jonghyun pretends not to hear them. taemin smirks.

“stop encouraging them,” jinki scolds.

“and how is it working? your plan?” jonghyun asks.

“pretty well, hyung,” taemin says and he cranes his neck to smile at jonghyun.

“i guess all we can do is give you our approval,” jonghyun says, a tad uncertain. “which we do, because we love and accept you unconditionally. right, guys?”

“of course,” kibum says, sounding deeply insulted that anyone might think otherwise.

“i guess,” minho sighs. “but if he keeps being a dick, i want to trade him for his brother. that kid is sweet and respectful.”

kibum gasps. it's a familiar, over dramatic sound, and taemin prepares himself to be entertained. minho grins.

“you wouldn't dare.”

“we’re always on your side,” jinki smiles, comforting and warm, ignoring his boyfriend and bandmate. “and we're here to help you if you need it.”

“well, there’s one more thing you guys could do for me,” taemin hedges.

“what’s that?”

the dining hall feels empty without a majority of the exo boys in it. taemin approves. his hyungs are the best. all it took was the four of them to start yelling in japanese and pushing each other  for exo to hurry and separate them. there’s some necks craning to look at the large group departing, minho yelling something about bbq while jinki yells loudly about fried chicken. the guys of super junior look confused. some of them keep questioning each other on their japanese vocabulary. the women of f(x), especially amber, don’t look fooled for a second. no one else bats an eyelash. shinee yelling at each other in another language isn’t the weirdest thing they’ve done. that probably goes to the time they ran through the dining hall partially dressed with duct tape hanging off them while begging for help while jinki chased them with a roll of said duct tape with yells of, “it’s for the greater good!” in their defense, jaejoong hyung had dared them to do it.  

“hey,” taemin greets kyungsoo the next time they see each other like nothing exciting has ever happened, in the past or previous three minutes.

“hi?” kyungsoo says cautiously.

taemin so has the upper hand this time.

“taemin! do you know what that was about?” jongin asks.

“i think they were fighting about what's for dinner,” taemin says, recalling what the guys’ plan was. he has to buy dinner for everyone tonight, but a majority of kyungsoo’s human shields are gone, all except jongin and the giant dumb one, so he considers it a fair trade.

jongin shuffles to make room for taemin to sit on the bench, but taemin has this. he kicks the foot of the dumb one who flinches, stands up, and mumbles his excuses (“i should check on the others, bye.”) so taemin can sit next to jongin. he makes sure to sit as close as possible so jongin has no choice but to scoot towards kyungsoo. taemin eyes the distance but doesn’t think he can get away with any more scooting. he’s trying to be subtle like jinki.

brainwashing never hurt anyone that didn't eventually like it.

“what’s with chanyeol?” jongin frowns in question.

“who?” taemin says cheerfully.

“you know his name,” jongin scolds.

“no, i don’t,” taemin says.

jongin nudges his shoulder, and well, jongin did give taemin the opening. taemin nudges jongin back hard enough he falls against kyungsoo. both men grunt at the collision. taemin tries not to preen. he’s smoother than hell.

“sorry,” jongin apologizes, blushing.

kyungsoo murmurs something comforting with his eyes narrowed at taemin. intelligence is at work behind brown eyes. taemin blinks back with the head tilt that’s gotten him branded as the lost and confused child of k-pop. nothing to see here, except how taemin is winning at life. kyungsoo keeps staring, the intelligence giving life to suspicion.

kyungsoo opens his mouth and taemin needs a distraction.


“minho broke kyuhyun’s computer last night,” taemin announces.

“that’s too bad,” jongin hisses sympathetically. “did he accidentally drop it?”

“yeah,” taemin nods. “in a sink full of water.”

“that’s not an accident,” kyungsoo observes.

“hyung "accidentally" teased jonghyun about his choking thing,” taemin says. “so,” and taemin shrugs.

“shinee against the world,” jongin says. taemin hums in agreement. it was one of jinki’s favorite sayings. the guys can give each other shit but if an outsider does it then the outsider needs to be taught a lesson. “wait. jonghyun’s choking thing?”

“yeah,” taemin confirms. “you know,” and wraps his hand around his own throat to demonstrate. “choking.”

“is that a sex thing?” jongin asks.

his eyes are on taemin’s hand, and taemin squeezes slightly. jongin swallows, his adam’s apple bobbing. kyungsoo makes a soft sound, an inhale too sharp, not that jongin notices being distracted himself. taemin removes his hand. these two are too fucking easy.  

“maybe? i never asked. minho is the person you trust with that sort of thing. not me.”

“right,” kyungsoo says, voice faint. “don’t trust you with erotic asphyxiation. good to know.”

“yeah,” taemin nods. “you would probably be a better choice.”

kyungsoo’s eyes widen, and taemin can’t help his grin. jongin looks godsmacked, his mouth slack and eyes wide, too. taemin hopes it’s because he’s imagining it. as far as distractions go, taemin thinks he did well. plus, he got to flirt a little. he’s not sure if he’d like the kinky choking, but if one of them wants to try it, he’s down. jonghyun always did say it was better to keep an open mind.

“i’m going to get something to drink,” jongin flusters. “anyone want anything?”

taemin shakes his head while kyungsoo verbalizes his no. the two men watch jongin leave. the company dining hall is pretty full of people, and not even taemin is ballsy enough to kiss kyungsoo in front of so many witnesses and cell phones. kibum would probably kill him.

“what was that about?” kyungsoo hisses.

but jinki’s words about communication and persistence still ring in his head, so he does the next best thing.

“you liked pulling my hair,” taemin says easily. “maybe you’d like to choke me.”

“what the fuck, taemin, you can’t tell people that.”

“why not?” taemin asks. “besides, did you see jongin’s face? he was thinking about it.”

“jongin?” kyungsoo asks, and his eyebrows furrow. “are you--” exasperation takes over his features. “are you normal? at all?”

“normal is boring,” taemin says. he scoots into jongin’s vacant seat, and he congratulates himself when kyungsoo doesn’t inch away. “we should make out again,” taemin tells kyungsoo. “you’re good at it.”

kyungsoo does that controlled blink that means he’s disguising his emotions, and taemin wants to whine. of all the habits for kyungsoo to develop-- but he can’t hide the sudden redness of his cheeks, and taemin is mildly mollified.

“what?” kyungsoo asks, clearing his throat.

maybe he’s hoping if he plays dumb, taemin will backtrack. well. kyungsoo has another thing coming. he’s pretty shameless. kyungsoo is going to have to try harder than that to get away from taemin.

“i said i want to do things again,” taemin says. “last time was awesome. i liked it. didn’t you?”


“we’d have to wait for jongin before getting to the really good stuff, but we can keep kissing until then, right?”

“jongin?” kyungsoo repeats. “you want to kiss jongin, too?”

“well, yeah,” taemin nods. “don’t you?”

kyungsoo stares at him. taemin looks at him expectantly. his conversation with the guys still floating in his head. not everyone is like shinee. taemin forgets that sometimes. who wouldn’t want to kiss pretty people if they want to kiss you back? that should just be a rule somewhere.

“maybe?” kyungsoo says, baffled. “i haven’t really thought about it.”

“we can work with maybe,” taemin says. “god, now i really want to kiss you, but i won’t because people, and kibum will ream me if i cause a scandal this close to our comeback,” taemin adds. “but i really want to. your mouth is nice.”

kyungsoo does that blink again, like he wants to touch what has just been said, but he's concerned taemin is trying to distract him from his original questions. taemin is getting good at deciphering kyungsoo, or he's really good at guessing. either way, taemin thinks their relationship will be a solid one, and in time, they'll have a strong one like his current one with jongin.

“and jongin too?”

“well, yeah,” taemin rolls his eyes. they just covered this. god. it’s like he’s the smart one here. “i like him, he likes you, and i think you’re starting to like me, so yeah.”

“i’m really confused,” kyungsoo admits.

“that’s okay. i know what i’m doing,” taemin says again, aiming for comforting.

“i wish i knew what you were doing,” kyungsoo says.

taemin isn’t sure what’s so confusing about the situation, but he figures he has time before they tell jongin to help kyungsoo figure it out.

jongin comes back, a bottle of water in hand, looking a lot more calm. taemin holds an expectant hand out, and the other man grumbles, “i asked you, didn't i,” but he hands it over. taemin takes a quick sip, and he passes it to kyungsoo. he needs to start thinking about the both of them. he wants to be a good boyfriend, after all.

plus, jonghyun’s advice had been about balance.

“kyungsoo’s looking a little warm, right?” taemin says, glancing at jongin. he adds puppy eyes to his cause. the eyes never fail to make jongin crumble.

“are you feeling okay? you're not getting sick, are you?” jongin asks.

jongin presses a hand to kyungsoo’s forehead. kyungsoo glares at taemin. taemin smiles innocently.

“you don't feel warm, but you should drink some water, just in case!”

kyungsoo has no choice but to accept the water after that. jongin’s eyes full of concern, and really, taemin should have known about jongin’s crush earlier. he knows everything about jongin. how could this slip by him? taemin makes sure his fingers touch kyungsoo’s, and kyungsoo flinches.

“what were you guys talking about?”

“just offering to help kyungsoo out if he wants,” taemin says, casually.

“hyung! you should practice with us sometime,” jongin says. “it’ll be fun!”

“maybe,” kyungsoo says, blushing and looking away from taemin’s knowing gaze. “i’ll-- i’ll think about it.”

although it’s possible jongin didn’t know about his own crush. it looks like kyungsoo didn’t know it either. good thing they both have taemin.



the thing about patience is taemin doesn't have very much. not when he's been waiting for ever to begin with. jongin is literally close enough taemin can touch him everyday, and he's seen kyungsoo doing that thoughtful face and gently flirting with jongin. it has to be gentle because anything else turns jongin into a mess. taemin would know. he used to flirt with jongin when they were teenagers for shits and giggles, and jongin would always blush so red and clam up. it had been awesome. in hindsight though, it's probably that same exact reason why jongin is having problems receiving taemin's boyfriend signals now. but taemin is working on that.

he's even visiting the lion's den.

not that kyungsoo is a lion. taemin is the lion in this scenario, but the exo guys won't stop tattling. taemin isn't going to get anymore without jongin finding out if they don't start minding their own business.

so maybe it's not a lion's den, but a hyena den?

he'll ask jinki later.

“jongin isn't home,” the little exo member from before says. “and chanyeol is afraid of you. you can't come inside.”

“that’s what your mom said,” taemin smirks, and okay, maybe he's been hanging out with super junior too much. that joke belongs with the fossils.

the little one doesn't get get a chance to say anything back, although his eyes narrow, because another member taemin vaguely remembers from before says in passing, “he’s here for kyungsoo, baek, it's like you don't pay attention.”

“then he definitely can't come in,” the little one says, horrified. not that it's up to him. taemin’s unexpected help pushes the little one out of the way and invites taemin in with a wave of his arm. “goddamn it, jongdae.”

jongdae, because taemin remembers the names of people he likes, rolls his eyes and then tells taemin, “he’s in their room.”

“thanks, man. i owe you one,” taemin says.

“just keep doing what you're doing and we're even,” jongdae smirks.

“cool,” taemin smiles.

behind him--

“what the fuck did chanyeol and me ever do to you?”

exo’s dorm isn't as nice as the shinee one, but he thinks it might be because there’s so many guys crammed in one place. that and the shinee dorm has been staged for impromptu broadcasts for years, now. what the exo dorm lacks in sophistication it makes up by being cozy and homely. it reminds him of his mom’s house, a little.

taemin could find kyungsoo’s and jongin’s room in his sleep, and he doesn't bother knocking before entering the room and closing the door. kyungsoo looks up from his laptop. he looks fluffy and sleepy, recently woken from a nap, and his eyes are relaxed and pretty. taemin’s heart skips a beat, the damn thing, he knows already, and he takes off his jacket and crawls on the bed, the side closest to the wall, next to kyungsoo.

“that movie even out of theaters yet?” taemin asks.

“no,” kyungsoo says. “who let you in?”

“jongdae,” taemin supplies. “gimme a headphone.”

“what? no,” kyungsoo says.

taemin shrugs and leans on kyungsoo’s shoulder to watch the movie since there’s subtitles. kyungsoo sighs. taemin smirks and snuggles extra close in revenge. taemin’s been attending the kim kibum school of petty revenge since 2008. kyungsoo doesn’t even know.

he's starting to doze, the movie only sort of interesting, but he’s picked up on jinki’s dislike for movies, when kyungsoo begins to speak.

“you and jongin are a lot alike, you know. except you’re an asshole.”

“kibum says i’m spoiled,” taemin says. “but minho would probably agree with you.”

“i don't understand how you and jongin are friends. you're manipulative and jongin isn’t,” kyungsoo says.

“yes he is,” taemin scoffs. “you just haven’t been paying attention.” he moves away from kyungsoo’s side and pushes the laptop off the other man’s lap. he's got a point to prove. only kyungsoo’s quick reflexes prevents it from falling to the floor, and only kyungsoo’s distraction gets taemin in kyungsoo’s lap protest free. jongin not manipulative? no wonder people think taemin is a bully.

taemin makes sure to make his eyes look down with an embarrassed smile, and asks, voice shy and small, “hyung, can you please buy me dinner? i forgot my wallet.”

kyungsoo stops his attempts at pushing taemin off as soon as his act started.

“are you telling me--” kyungsoo clears his throat. “he does that on purpose?”

“yup,” taemin nods. “at least people see me coming. jongin is sneaky.”

“i’m not sure i want to be involved with the both of you, then. one of you sounds hard enough,” kyungsoo says.

“you should give me a chance to change your mind,” taemin says, and he shifts his knees on either side of kyungsoo’s thighs. automatically, kyungsoo’s hands go to taemin’s hips to make him stop moving. taemin responds by putting his hands on kyungsoo’s shoulders for once. let kyungsoo try pushing taemin around now.

“oh?” kyungsoo asks, eyebrows raising. daring.

“yeah,” taemin says. “you ever been with a dancer? all that,” taemin lifts himself and slowly swivels his hips, barely not touching, but the hands on his hips hurt kyungsoo is squeezing so tightly. “muscle control.” taemin leans in closer to whisper in kyungsoo’s ear. “and jongin knows how to listen really well. you like that, right?” he pulls back, triumphant.

a glaze is works over kyungsoo’s eyes and taemin grins. victory.

taemin moves his weight to his toes to kiss kyungsoo, maybe, he hasn’t decided yet, when kyungsoo hands decide to cup taemin’s ass, and fuck. what taemin intended to be all teasing and body rolls to make kyungsoo gurgle yes has taemin gasping. somehow kyungsoo stole the upper hand from taemin. damn it.

taemin pushes back in to the touch. damage is already done, he may as well enjoy it. it feels like kyungsoo is kneading him, and the desire to busy his mouth with more than half moans overwhelms him. he teases his way into kyungsoo’s mouth. he refuses to give all the power to kyungsoo. not without a fight. his hyungs would be so disappointed if he rolled over without a fight.

minho, at least, would never shut up. jonghyun would probably say something about it not being a competition.

although, he thinks jinki will be impressed taemin even got this far with kyungsoo. kyungsoo likes uncomplicated and simple, and taemin isn't either one of those things. he’s a jenga tower of confusion and impulses. what he’s tempting kyungsoo into might be proof taemin’s parents had his horns removed at birth. or that kibum taught him how to hide them better in his hair. there’s a huge reason him and kibum get along as well as they do.

taemin pushes his hands up kyungsoo’s shirt, desperate to feel warm skin under his hands while kyungsoo’s hands force taemin’s hips down to grind on him. he wants kyungsoo to feel as crazy as he does. he tweaks a nipple.

taemin can see the second kyungsoo has had enough of taemin’s shit. it’s all in his eyes. taemin blinks as innocently as he can. ‘what did i do?’

kyungsoo rolls taemin to the side, making them hit the wall, so taemin is on his back. taemin can’t bite back his smugness, not when kyungsoo presses himself tightly against taemin, frustrated growls coming from the normally composed man.

“you’re a tease,” he accuses.

“jongin isn’t,” taemin mentions, and he gasps.

kyungsoo teeth hurt. the coordinoonas are going to kick his ass for the next forever. kyungsoo seems intent on punishing taemin with biting, and taemin would groan it’s not fair, except maybe it’s not a hair pulling kink but a pain one.

he still wants his hair petted.

kyungsoo seems set on proving to taemin that he might not be a dancer, but he is an sm idol. he knows shit like rhythm. taemin grabs the back of kyungsoo’s shirt with a groan. kyungsoo is rutting against him with determination and focus that has taemin rethinking how much control of the situation he really has. he needs-- no -- they need jongin.

right now.

“we have to wait for jongin,” taemin pants against kyungsoo’s mouth. “won’t be fair otherwise.”

“you can’t be serious,” kyungsoo pants, eyes glaring down at taemin, fierce and dark.

taemin blinks back at him, completely serious, if turned on. he’s committed to this relationship. he’s so close to step three of his plan, he can smell sex in the air. literally, since him and kyungsoo have been at it for awhile. kyungsoo sees all he needs to. he drops his forehead to taemin’s collarbone, and feeling generous, taemin pets the fluffy blackness.

fine. you win. where’s my phone?”

the man scrambles for his phone, and he sends a message to jongin:


“you misspelled some words,” taemin says, helpfully.

“i’m going to wreck you,” kyungsoo promises, the threat heavy, as he throws his phone. it hits the wall, and it slides past the mattress edge to clatter on the floor.

“you can try,” taemin braves. “you aren’t doing so hot right-- fuck!”

“are you okay, kyungsoo? sehun swears you and taemin are fighting,” the bedroom door opens, and just as quickly, it slams shut. “what the fuck?” jongin croaks.

“your friend is an asshole,” kyungsoo explains.

taemin grins from under kyungsoo and waves at jongin. he wonders what they look like. taemin can feel the hickeys on his neck throbbing, they have to be an impressive color, and kyungsoo looks frazzled between taemin’s knees with his hair mussed and mouth puffy, his shirt hiked up to reveal smooth skin.

“but he had a good idea,” kyungsoo continues, grudgingly. “so come here.”

“to do what?” jongin asks, hesitancy obvious.

and maybe the sudden appearance of his crush looking five minutes away from sex with his best friend is a little too much for jongin. the younger man looks ready to bolt. taemin resists doing the gimme hands because his life choices are amazing, and kyungsoo is much better than a puppy in all ways.

“what’s it look like?” kyungsoo demands. “now get over here.”

“he’s bossy, isn’t he, jongin. you should come here and be on my side.”

“shut up,” and kyungsoo follows his order with a nip to taemin’s bottom lip.

jongin gurgles.

“jongin. take off your shirt and get over here already,” taemin suggests. “you can overthink everything to death later.”

jongin clenches and unclenches his hands by his side, staring at them intently. slowly, jongin’s cheeks become rosy, and he grabs the hem of his shirt. taemin smirks. he KNEW his plan would work. fucking finally.

jongin stumbles over to them, his skin blushing a pretty red that taemin really wants to get his hands, and even kyungsoo looks interested. he comes to the side of the bed, all shyness and awkwardness, and this is why jongin will always have taemin.

taemin wiggles and kyungsoo draws back enough for taemin to grab jongin by the chin, rougher than he intended, to kiss jongin with a softness he only reserves for his best friend. (although he guesses if jongin wants taemin to share it with kyungsoo from now on, he can.) kissing jongin is better than taemin imagined. not because jongin is particularly gifted in that department, kyungsoo could probably teach him a thing or two, but like jonghyun said, taemin fucking trusts and loves the poor bastard. jongin is one of a select few that mean more to taemin than his career. that makes the kiss sweeter and stomach twisting.

“hey,” kyungsoo reminds taemin with a pinch.

“you’ll get your turn,” taemin whines. “i’ve been waiting for months.”

“"months?"” jongin echoes.

“but that wouldn’t be fair,” kyungsoo says, tone completely innocent, and he grinds against taemin to remind him of what they were doing before taemin’s edict.

“"fair?"” jongin parrots, again.

jongin looks more relaxed, though, and more curious as well. taemin falls back on the bed, happily if slightly sulky. he isn’t ready to share yet, but he can’t deny being curious, too. he couldn’t see his first kiss with jongin, but he’s going to be able to see kyungsoo’s and jongin’s which feels intimate enough to taemin he feels included. is this how everything will feel together?

“why am i the last to know everything?” jongin whines.

“you can't track taemin’s insanity,” kyungsoo says. “i’ve been trying.”

“i’m right here,” taemin reminds, a little pouty. his idea was awesome and his plan was amazing. why is there any complaining? it's not his fault these two aren't on his level of genius.

“i noticed,” jongin says. he looks down at taemin, and taemin knows he looks fucking good. he knows kyungsoo looks fucking good. what's with the delay?

“someone better be kissing someone soon. just saying.”

kyungsoo sighs softly, like he’s releasing all his pent up sexual frustration due to taemin or the possible frustration he feels wanting to strangle taemin but is too invested to do so, and he leans in to kiss jongin with a perilous balance. jongin, steady and strong jongin, steadys kyungsoo with big hands that taemin’s been dreaming to have on skin for what feels like years. they look so undeniably gorgeous that taemin is aching. he hopes kyungsoo and him look half as good when the kiss.

“awesome,” taemin breathes.

“i don’t know how this is going to work,” jongin blushes. his eyes flit from kyungsoo to taemin over and over. there’s naked want in his eyes that taemin has been craving. finally. he's almost left his platonic boyfriend status in the past.

“we’ll figure it out,” kyungsoo says, eyeing taemin and jongin, and taemin really likes the look in kyungsoo’s eyes. “now get on the bed. i wanted to come twenty minutes ago, but our boyfriend didn't want you to feel left out.”


taemin leaves jongin and kyungsoo napping, his hair fucked up, and clothes askew. he tries running his fingers through his hair to tame it, but it’s hopeless. sweat and other things have made it knotty. his phone buzzes in his hand to remind him he has fifty-six missed calls and thirty-one voicemails. he winces. he missed a group dinner. it’s not that unusual. he kind of...forgot. he was busy coming, but now he’ll actual leave.

he takes a second to scroll through his group chat messages:

>>>myun called

>>>“fighting” w kyungsoo?

jinki messaged.

>>>manager’s looking for you. exo manager called. he said you were murdering kyungsoo?

comes from kibum.

>>>some exo kids are begging me to get taemin. do i have to?

jonghyun messaged.

>>>you want to tell manager where and what taemin is doing instead?

>>>i’ll trade you

jinki messaged.

>>>you should have seen myun’s face when we told him what you were doing

minho messaged.

>>>i don’t think he’ll ever be the same

jonghyun messaged.

>>>“fighting” w jongin now too?

jinki messaged.

>>>manager took care of exo manager. you’re welcome. he also said you owe him.

kibum messaged.

>>> he’s not. is he? damn. maknae moves fast.

jonghyun messaged.

>>>i could write a song about it.

>>>‘love triangle and there’s no losers’

>>>might have to sell it under another name tho

jonghyun messaged a few minutes later.


kibum messaged about the same time taemin started getting voicemails.

>>>you’re late for dinner.

jinki messaged.

>>>did you forget?

kibum messaged.

>>>you could make it if you run.

jonghyun messaged.

>>>you forgot. didn't you.

kibum messaged.


>>>you’re going to die

minho messaged

>>>i’d sleep in the dance studio tonight

jinki messaged.

>>>or stay at exo.

>>>manager’s afraid of seeing “things.” you’ll be safe.

jonghyun messaged.

>>>i hope the sex was worth it.

kibum messaged.

>>>bring booze home. manager might forgive you. he’s on a bender.

>>>keeps asking where he went wrong.

minho messaged last.


taemin grins at his phone and he checks his chat with manager.


>>>don’t forget dinner at 5.30. we’re going to that steak house, so don’t be late.

>>>tell me you aren’t going to be late taemin

>>>goddamn it

>>>you’re giving me white hair

>>>jjong had three exo kids begging on their knees. what are you doing?

>>>exo’s manager just spoke to me. why are you fighting with kyungsoo?! how long has this been going on?

>>>we don’t need this publicity!

>>>do you pay attention at all? your fans are already fighting with exo’s

>>>if you create a scandal i swear to god

>>>...tell me jinki’s kidding.




>>>the boys broke joonmyun. they were serious. you’re really fucking jongin and kyungsoo????


>>>you owe me. you owe me whatever i want. exo manager will stay away. he thinks you guys are practicing dance. OWE ME.


>>>answer your phone

>>>it’s 6.05



>>>IT’S FUCKING 8!!!!!!

>>>you’re grugruff

taemin snickers as he reads the messages.

“what did kyungsoo do? strangle you?” the brat asks, horrified.

joonmyun makes a noise of distress at the back of his throat. his eyes are wide and he’s pale. taemin beams innocently at him, and if anything, that makes joonmyun more distressed.

“are those hickies?” the dumb one demands, and maybe he’s a little smarter than taemin gave him credit for.

“told you guys they were all banging,” jongdae says. “you jerks owe me money.”

“please stop saying that,” joonmyun whimpers.

“we’re never going to be safe again,” the little one moans.

“what. kyungsoo gave him those hickies?!”

“or jongin. it’s not like i was watching them,” jongdae says, money smacking into his hand.

taemin watches this exchange with interest. these guys were fucking weird. from now on, they couldn’t call shinee on shit. it’s like they haven’t ever heard of polyamory or something.

“i have to run,” taemin says, voice raspy and gone. “later.”

“dead, so dead,” the little one groans.

“you? me,” the dumb one whines. “i was only teasing jongin. fuck.”

it’s only as he’s heading towards a discreet liquor store that he remembers his wallet is in his jacket in jongin’s and kyungsoo’s room, and well. taemin did promise he’d be back. is right now too soon?

jonghyun’s advice isn't bad either. taemin should listen to him more often. cheery, he turns right back around. jongdae will probably let him in again.