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Jooheon should be packing.

The group leaves for China at 6 AM tomorrow morning for their subsequent schedules—a few interviews, a concert performance, and a recording for a new dance competition show. Even if Jooheon isn’t thrilled about the plane trips to and from or the extra early mornings, he’s excited to perform and to see the city.

On the other side of the bedroom door Jooheon can hear the members rummaging around for their things, sifting through clothes, debating which toiletries they should bring with them. He hears Kihyun say something about his suitcase not closing, and Minhyuk suggesting Hyunwoo should sit on it for him, and Hoseok wondering out loud if he forgot anything important.

Jooheon should really be packing, but right now he’s distracted by Changkyun’s fingers slipping underneath the hem of his shirt, his breath against his neck, his lips tracing his jaw.  

Changkyun’s hands are so steady and sure Jooheon can barely remember how shy he was when they first started fooling around, blushing every time Jooheon kissed him, hesitant as he mapped Jooheon’s skin with with his fingers, never knowing what to ask for and when. Everyday he grows more confident, and right now his tongue is needy inside Jooheon’s mouth. Changkyun moves one of the hands that’s pressing against Jooheon’s chest to rub him through the front of his jeans. Heat pools in Jooheon’s stomach. He suppresses a curse that almost passes his lips and reluctantly grabs Changkyun’s wrist.

“We need to pack,” Jooheon says finally because he’s still Changkyun’s hyung in the end. Even if he doesn’t boss him around as much as Kihyun or Hyungwon, he needs to boss him around sometimes.

Changkyun frowns, his lips pink and kiss swollen. “Can’t packing wait?”

“Our flight leaves in, like,” Jooheon looks over at the clock—11:34 PM, “7 and a half hours. My dick can wait, okay?”

Jooheon can’t believe he’s turning down a hand job, but it makes Changkyun laugh, falling forward on his elbows. His head curls into the space between Jooheon’s neck and his shoulder. Jooheon’s breathing starts to even out again, even though he’s still half hard against Changkyun’s thigh.

“Are you sure it can wait?” Changkyun asks cheekily.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Jooheon kisses his temple and runs his fingers through his hair. “I’ll fight Hoseok for his shower time, or think about grandmas or something. Go pack, then get some sleep,” he says. “Okay, babe?”

That, however, never fails to make Changkyun blush. He kisses Jooheon one last time, rolls off of him, and plants his feet on the floor.

“Yes, sir.” Changkyun salutes before disappearing to find his suitcase.

Jooheon smiles to himself. He loves Changkyun in a lot of ways. He loves waking up to Changkyun’s body heat on the cold mornings he crawls into Jooheon’s bed, their legs tangled together underneath the sheets and Changkyun softly snoring in his ear. He loves writing lyrics with him past midnight at the company, debating this beat or that beat, which punchline is better. But he also loves pressing Changkyun into the mattress of his bunk, making him moan loud in his throat when the members aren’t around to hear, feeling his skin against his lips. Jooheon knows he loves him. He just doesn’t know in what way. Maybe he loves him in a teammate way or a friendship way, or a more-than-that kind of way. Or maybe he just likes sucking his dick. Truthfully, Jooheon doesn’t like to question it often.

The morning goes by in a blur. Jooheon remembers waking up at the ass crack of dawn, eating something, fumbling into his clothes, then into the van, then into the airport terminal. He sleepily waves at fans, makes hearts, and pulls the medical mask higher up on his nose when he remembers he didn’t bother putting makeup on. 

Jooheon sits between Hyunwoo and Changkyun on the plane. By the time they’re ready to take off and Jooheon has created a long enough playlist for the trip, Hyunwoo is already asleep. Changkyun reaches over to buckle his seatbelt, then settles back into his seat. Wordlessly, Jooheon offers him one of his earbuds and Changkyun takes it. Jooheon presses play and the music hums through, a smooth and slow drumbeat layered under soft, singsong rap. Changkyun bobs his head with the beat and Jooheon smiles at his approval. Sometimes this is all they really need from each other. Eventually Changkyun falls asleep, his mouth falling open slightly and his head tipped to the side, and Jooheon drifts off soon after.

It’s raining when they land in China. Still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Jooheon watches the sky outside of the window while streams of water run down the glass. Out of boredom, he bets which raindrop will reach the bottom first, pretending they’re racing against each other. The droplets pool against ledge of the window, sliding down the side of the plane and falling onto the ground below. A minute or two later the pilot comes on the intercom to announce that the plane is about to land, his voice staticky but otherwise cheerful. Jooheon wakes up Hyunwoo and Changkyun beside him. Hyunwoo grumbles lowly and rubs at his face, while Changkyun’s eyes gently flutter open. He sits up, confused, scanning around him like he’s not sure where he is.

“Wake up, sleeping beauty,” Jooheon teases, fixing the hairs that are standing up funny at the back of Changkyun’s head. He looks cute and sleepy and kissable like this, but Jooheon isn’t going to kiss him in front of fifty some odd strangers. “You can sleep more at the hotel, princess.”

Changkyun groans, stretching his legs out as much as the seat in front of him will allow. “These pet names are getting out of control,” he complains, too sleepy to blush this time.

There’s a group of fans waiting for them again at the terminal. After going through airport security, they greet them with smiling faces and get their pictures taken. The van is already waiting for them outside. It’s still raining, so they quickly stack their luggage in the back and pile in. When Jooheon and Changkyun settle into the backseat together, the members are already debating roommates. It’s usually decided by now—Hyungwon and Hoseok often room together, Kihyun with Minhyuk, Jooheon with Hyunwoo, and Changkyun sometimes with one of their managers—but there’s an extra hotel room up for grabs, meaning no one has to bunk with a manager. Someone can have a room to themselves.

“Dibs!” Minhyuk and Hyungwon call simultaneously. They pause to glare at each other.

“I’m the oldest,” Hyunwoo says. He usually doesn’t enforce his hyung status, but the prospect is too tempting.

“Age doesn’t apply to this,” Minhyuk insists, waving his hands in protest.

Hoseok raises an eyebrow. “Says who?”

Minhyuk opens his mouth to say something else when Kihyun, the voice of reason, suggests they rock, paper, scissors for it. Jooheon is barely listening at this point, distracted by the highway outside of the car window and whatever Mandarin song is playing on the radio. Changkyun nudges him in the shoulder to remind him to throw his pick. In the end it doesn’t matter, Hyunwoo wins anyways.

Hyunwoo claps for himself and Hyungwon rolls his eyes. “I guess Jooheon and Changkyun will room together instead.”

“Okay,” Jooheon says. He tries not to sound too satisfied with the outcome, even though he likes the idea of waking up beside Changkyun in a bed big enough for the two of them, whispering ‘good morning’ against his skin, the sun shining through the curtains, drinking coffee in their pyjamas, not having to force himself to keep too quiet when Changkyun’s lips are on his neck and his hands are pressing into the flesh of his hips. “Sounds fun.”

The hotel is one of the nicest ones they’ve been to in a while. There’s a crystal chandelier in the lobby, which they collectively ooh and ahh over, decoratively patterned carpets, red walls, and a wide staircase leading to the second floor. Their personal rooms are just as nice. They’re painted the same red colour, two double beds, a sparkling clean bathroom with a big shower and tub, and a nice view of the city from the window on the far wall.

Jooheon drags his luggage inside. “Right or left bed?” he asks.

“Left.” Changkyun points to the bed farthest from the window and Jooheon discards his backpack on the other, knowing they probably won’t use it. 

Changkyun flops down on the bed and curls into fetal position, hugging one of the pillows against his chest like a teddy bear. "Wake me up if I fall asleep," he mumbles.

Less than a minute later Changkyun’s breathing evens, his eyelids closing softly, and his face squished against the pillow. Jooheon closes the curtains so the light isn't shining so brightly on Changkyun’s face. He has about an hour to kill before they're supposed to meet everyone downstairs to eat. Afterwards, they’ll get ready for their first schedule of the day. Jooheon wonders if he should unpack, looking reluctantly at his pile of luggage. Then he looks at Changkyun, who’s warm and content amongst the covers, and decides he’ll have lots of time to do that later. Jooheon lies down next to him, careful not to shake the mattress too much and wake him. With a sleepy moan, Changkyun reaches out and throws an arm over Jooheon’s chest, cuddling closer. Soon Jooheon finds himself falling asleep too, calmed by the sound of Changkyun’s steady breath.

A knock on the door wakes him twenty minutes later. “Changkyun-ah? Jooheonie?” The voice belongs to Hoseok. “Did you remember to pack toothpaste?”

Their first rehearsal for the program goes well, as well as it can go at least. It’s a challenge to remember every hastily learned dance move and all of his lyrics, but Jooheon manages. Some fans are waiting outside to greet them when they get back to the hotel, holding their phones out if front of their faces. They wave, smile, then everyone scatters to their respective rooms, happy to return to big beds and televisions and room service.

Changkyun immediately collapses back onto his claimed side of the bed. Jooheon pushes his hair off his forehead. It’s still stiff with a coating of hairspray. His skin feels sticky and clogged from the mixture of thick makeup and dried sweat. He desperately needs shampoo and soap. “Do you need in the bathroom?” Jooheon asks Changkyun. “I’m gonna have a shower.”

Changkyun props himself up on the bed. “Am I not invited?”

A playful smile pulls at Jooheon’s lips. “I was going to offer, but you looked comfy.”

The bathroom mirror slowly fogs up as Jooheon turns on the water and waits for it to heat up. Jooheon pulls off his sweater, his t-shirt, and unties the drawstrings on his sweatpants. Changkyun finds his way into the bathroom, leaning against the doorway with his head resting against frame, a hint of a smile on his face. When Jooheon doesn’t say anything, Changkyun steps forward to wrap his arms around his middle. He rests his chin against his bare back, pressing his nose against Jooheon’s skin. Changkyun kisses the curve of his neck, the plane of his shoulder, the start of his jawline. Jooheon’s breath quickens. This kind of intimacy, nonsexual and teetering on the edge of seriousness, is still new to him. It’s new to Changkyun too. Changkyun hooks his thumbs inside of Jooheon’s boxers and gently pulls down. His fingers brush his exposed hipbones.

Soon enough Jooheon is pushing Changkyun up against the shower tiles, hot water running down his back in streams. This is familiar. There aren’t many places to get each other off except their room, which they share with Minhyuk, and the shower in their dorm. They’ve done this so many times Jooheon knows exactly how to angle their bodies so the water hits them equally. He knows how to lean against the shower wall and grip Changkyun’s waist so he won’t slip.

Changkyun’s lips are already parted when Jooheon kisses him, his tongue wet and hot. He gently tugs at his bottom lip with his teeth and sucks it into his mouth. Changkyun has one hand on the side of Jooheon’s face, his thumb underneath his chin, and the other against his ass. His nails bite into Jooheon’s skin, leaving crescent shaped marks.

“What do you want?” Jooheon asks as he breaks the kiss, gasping a little.

“Anything,” Changkyun pants.

It’s not a specific enough answer for Jooheon.

“Tell me what you want, Changkyun,” he presses further.

“Your mouth” Changkyun groans roughly. His voice sounds even deeper than usual, needy and demanding. “Please.”

Without another word Jooheon sinks to his knees, kissing down Changkyun’s chest as he goes. He kisses the skin underneath his navel, lets his teeth drag across his stomach, sucks a bruise onto his hip, the taste of water and skin on his tongue. Changkyun tugs the damp hair at the nape of Jooheon’s neck and moans, loud. Jooheon hopes the running water is noisy enough that no one in the room next door heard through the wall. Changkyun’s hips are pinned between the tiles and Jooheon’s hands, squirming up into his touch. When Jooheon finally gets his mouth on him, his head falls back against the wall of the shower. His Adam’s apple is prominent in his throat, little beads of water running down his neck.

“Fuck, ah, Jooheon—”

Changkyun comes like this, his mouth open, his jaw tilted and slack. Jooheon swallows around him until he’s sated, his breath fast and his eyes closed, coming down from his release. When he’s finished, Jooheon pulls away and rests his forehead against Changkyun’s thigh. The water is still warm and beating against his back like rain drops.

That’s a good thing about hotels, Jooheon thinks briefly, unlimited hot water.

Changkyun hasn’t found his voice again yet, so he tugs on Jooheon’s hair in a silent ‘come here’. Jooheon carefully stands and he pulls him closer. Changkyun kisses him hard, his hand immediately disappearing between their bodies to take Jooheon’s cock in his fist. His thumb drags over the head and Jooheon’s gone, moaning into the crook of his neck, bracing his hands against the shower wall. Jooheon’s come gets all over Changkyun’s hand, and some on his stomach, but the water quickly washes it down the drain.

Changkyun is smiling when Jooheon finally looks at him, goofy and wide and a little bit shy but not as shy as he used to be. He kisses Changkyun softer this time, grinning.

Everyone piles into Hyunwoo’s room to eat that night. They order room service—pizza and french fries, steak, burgers, chicken. They watch whatever soccer game is on TV. Minhyuk cheers every time someone scores, no matter which team, and Kihyun sits beside Hyunwoo at the table by the window, picking at each other’s plates. Jooheon realizes halfway through his meal, when Hoseok looks back and forth at him and Changkyun sitting together on the bed, that they’re probably not being very subtle about what just happened, or any of this for that matter. Changkyun’s hair is still wet and so is Jooheon’s. There’s a red flush blooming on Changkyun’s neck, underneath his Adam’s apple, where Jooheon nipped at his skin.

But truthfully Jooheon doesn’t care all that much. Even though they’ve never explicitly told anyone, all of the members know in some way what’s going on between them. It’s hard to miss when things like one unused bed in their hotel room, matching hickeys, or shared shower times make it obvious.

The only thing Jooheon doesn’t know is how serious they gage their relationship to be. Jooheon knows sometimes he jokes too much with Changkyun, always ready to tease him before things can turn too serious. Changkyun always plays along with it, poking fun right back at him, sometimes twice as hard. It’s always been their dynamic, cheeky and playful even if the moment is hinting at something entirely different.

Hyungwon falls asleep on Hyunwoo’s bed before the soccer game ends, right between Jooheon and Changkyun. He stirs, a lanky leg flying up to rest in Jooheon’s lap. It would have landed in Jooheon’s plate of food if he hadn’t moved it seconds before. Changkyun laughs as he tries to move him off, but Hyungwon’s leg is too long and adamant on staying there. Eventually their manager comes knocking on the hotel room door, ordering them to go to bed. Hyungwon finally wakes up, glasses skewed on his face, and rolls off of him, grumbling something about his own bed.

Jooheon slippers clap against the hallway floor as he follows Changkyun back to their room, taking the keycard out of his pocket and unlocking the door. Jooheon brushes his teeth and washes his face, takes off his t-shirt, then slips underneath the covers. Changkyun shifts closer to spoon him, his chest warm against Jooheon’s bare back, his arm draped across his middle, drawing circles on his stomach. Jooheon reaches over to the lamp on the bedside table.

“Goodnight, Changkyun.”

He shuts the lights off and settles back beside him.

“Goodnight, hyung.”

They wake up together the next morning, completely rearranged, Jooheon’s thigh between Changkyun’s legs, a hand on his hip close to the bruise he put there last night, and his nose pressed into his hair. It’s wavy and messy from falling asleep on it wet and still smells like shampoo. Changkyun shifts underneath the sheets and Jooheon realizes he’s already awake. He places a warm kiss on the back of his neck.

“Good morning,” Jooheon says.

Changkyun rolls over to look at him. The morning sun is warm against his face, his skin dyed golden and his brown eyes bright in the light. Changkyun slips a hand underneath the leg of Jooheon’s boxers to grip his thigh. He cuddles into his pillow, shifting closer.

“Good morning,” Changkyun says with a sleepy smile.

Something warm and affectionate swells in Jooheon’s chest. “You sleep okay, princess?”

Changkyun laughs at the use of the nickname. “Mhmm,” he hums. His hand moves slowly down Jooheon’s thigh, his nails dragging gently against his skin. “Did you?”

“Yes.” Sometimes it’s difficult sleeping for Jooheon to sleep in different places, hotel rooms he doesn’t recognize, beds that are too big or too hard or too soft, countries where the air feels different entirely. But truthfully he always sleeps better with Changkyun curled up against him. It’s something familiar amidst the unfamiliarity. “Do you know what time it is?”

Changkyun looks over at the alarm clock on the nightstand. “Almost 8:30,” he says. Jooheon groans, burying his head into Changkyun’s shoulder. “When are we supposed to be downstairs?”

Jooheon’s answer loses itself on his tongue when Changkyun rubs his cock through the front of his boxers. “Do you think we have enough time before the others wake up?” Changkyun asks. He sounds too innocent for what he’s asking, his eyes still half-lidded and blinking with sleep.

Jooheon is already hard. Changkyun continues to touch him through the fabric.

“I hope so.”

Changkyun doesn’t waste a minute more. He moves toward the edge of the mattress, letting his lips slowly brush down Jooheon’s thigh as he goes. He drops a kiss onto his knee and settles between his legs.

“Sorry I didn’t return the favour last night,” Changkyun murmurs against his skin.

Before Jooheon can reply Changkyun nibbles gently at the inside of his thigh. Jooheon cuts himself off with a gasp, his fingers digging into the sheets.

“Is this okay?” Changkyun asks, eyes travelling upwards to look at Jooheon.

Jooheon nods, briefly reminding himself not to wear shorts for the next few days. “Mhm, it’s okay.”

Changkyun continues nipping at Jooheon’s thighs, not too hard but hard enough to leave a mark, indents of his teeth over smooth, unblemished skin. He kisses over the bites to calm the red colour blushing through. Jooheon is almost squirming by the time Changkyun’s nose brushes his boxers. The others will be getting up soon, inevitably banging on their door to wake them, so he doesn’t waste anymore time teasing him and quickly pulls them off. Jooheon’s cock falls heavy against his stomach.

Jooheon pushes Changkyun’s bangs out of his eyes as he sucks the tip into his mouth. He feels flushed all over, hot from his head to his toes, and the feeling is almost enough to pull him apart. Changkyun doesn’t do this as often—Jooheon doesn’t mind getting on his knees for him more often than not—but Jooheon can’t deny how much he likes it, the pretty stretch of Changkyun’s lips, the little hums he makes at the back of his throat as he swallows around him. Jooheon guides him through it, his hand at the nape of his neck, his hips pressed firmly into the mattress, rolling ever so slightly with the bob of Changkyun’s head. Changkyun runs his tongue along the underside of Jooheon’s cock and Jooheon almost comes undone. His breathing becomes heavier, his muscles tensing and relaxing like he’s about to come.

“Hold on, Changkyun, please,” Jooheon says, his voice wavering. “Not yet. Let me touch you first.”

Jooheon’s cock slides from Changkyun’s mouth with an obscene pop. He plants a wet kiss on Jooheon’s hipbone before shifting back up the bed. With shaking fingers, Jooheon reaches into the side table drawer to grab the bottle of lube he put there last night. He pops the cap open and pours a generous amount onto the palm of his hand. Changkyun sits back on his heels, watching as Jooheon slicks his cock with a few strokes.

“Come here,” he says.

Changkyun hovers overtop of him as Jooheon pulls off his underwear and slicks his cock too. The lube is cold and wet on his skin. He moans from the soft touch of Jooheon’s fingers, pumping up and down. His shoulders begin to shake.

“Not yet, baby,” Jooheon hushes. “Don’t come yet.”

Changkyun nods. The pressure in the bottom of Jooheon’s stomach grows harder to ignore. He positions Changkyun’s hips so their cocks slide together and closes his fist around them, placing his other hand on Changkyun’s waist.

“Changkyun-ah, roll your hips for me,” Jooheon instructs.

Changkyun does as he’s told, propping himself up on his hands and slowly sliding forward. “Like this?” he asks, but he can barely speak.

“Yeah—fuck—like that.”

Jooheon keeps the pace almost achingly slow, guiding Changkyun along with the push of his hand at his hip, twisting the wrist of his other at the same time, pumping their cocks together. Changkyun’s knees wobble under his weight but Jooheon steadies him. He whispers encouragements, tells him how good he’s doing, how good he feels, how good he looks like this. Changkyun almost comes then, but Jooheon slows down the pace even more, teasing him, edging him.

“Jooheon, please,” Changkyun whines, desperate. “Please.

Without warning, Jooheon thrusts his hips forward faster, squeezing his cock against Changkyun’s, moving him along with him. He keeps increasing the rhythm until Changkyun’s breath is loud enough to hear and his head is falling forward against the pillows. Changkyun comes with a yelp, his body going slack, his arms falling out from under him as he collapses onto Jooheon’s chest. Jooheon’s hips jerk forward one last time as he kisses Changkyun roughly. His orgasm rips through him, hot and white, his come leaking warm onto his own fingers and dripping down between his thighs. Jooheon pulls Changkyun closer. He can feel his heart pounding inside his ribcage, beating with his own.

They stay like that for a for a while, trying to catch their breath and come back to themselves. Once he finds strength to move again, Changkyun absentmindedly kisses down Jooheon’s collarbone, his breastbone, runs his fingers across his ribs. Jooheon takes in a sharp breath when Changkyun’s hand brushes past his parted thighs to thumb at the marks he left there. They’re starting to bruise, turning a much darker red than Jooheon expected. Jooheon sucks air through his teeth when Changkyun curiously presses a finger into one of the bruises that’s forming. They aren’t painful, but they’re starting to feel sore, throbbing dully underneath his skin. Changkyun quickly pulls his hand away and nuzzles further into Jooheon’s chest.

“Does it hurt?” he asks apologetically.

“Yeah, a little.”

“I’m sorry, hyung.”

“Hey, it’s okay,” Jooheon reassures him. He kisses his temple, brushing away the sweaty hair on his forehead. “Don’t worry about it. They’ll go away in a few days.”

Changkyun nods and shifts on top of him. 

“We should clean up, I guess,” he suggests, then adds after a minute, “I’m starving.”

“I’ll buy you breakfast,” Jooheon says.

“Wow, free breakfast,” Changkyun muses, smiling. “Why are you so nice to me?”

“You’re a good lay,” he teases. Changkyun rolls his eyes and leans in to kiss him. Jooheon could get used to this.

The rest of their day includes hair and makeup, interviews, quickly gulped down meals, naps taken anywhere at anytime they can, and eventually their performance. When Jooheon changes into his stage outfit, he lets his eyes linger on the bruises Changkyun left on his skin, mottled purple and red. He smiles to himself and runs a hand over the marks before dressing to go on stage.

The audience is excited and energetic, waving banners and signs and light sticks. Everything goes as planned. Jooheon always feels happy performing on stage, doing what he loves and doing what he’s good at. They all feel that way, knowing this is what they’ve been working toward for years.

At the end of the show, after the other groups have performed, a barrage of fireworks go off onstage, confetti falling from somewhere Jooheon can’t see. People clap and cheer. The performers smile and dance, waving at their respective fans. Jooheon turns his head to look at the crowd only to be met with a face full of confetti. When the colourful paper falls away, Changkyun is standing there, laughing, another fistful in his other hand. He tries to get away but Jooheon slings his arm around him, hugging him to his side. At times like these, Jooheon wishes he could just forget about the audience for a moment and hold him closer.

After the concert, the managers take them out for dinner and to see some of the city’s nightlife. They eat hot pot in a cute little restaurant along one of the side streets, savoury meat with fresh vegetables and soup and dumplings. Jooheon almost chokes on his spoonful of rice when Changkyun unexpectedly slips a hand underneath the table and between his legs. He thumbs at the bruises he left there this morning.

“You okay?” Minhyuk asks, raising his eyebrows. “Need a napkin?”

“No.” Jooheon clears his throat. “I’m, uh, fine.”

Changkyun squeezes Jooheon’s thigh again, simultaneously picking at a piece of meat with his chopsticks, acting oblivious. He asks Hyungwon to pass the dipping sauce and doesn’t remove his hand from Jooheon’s leg even when Hyungwon slides it over to him. 

Trying to avoid an awkward situation for himself, Jooheon discreetly moves Changkyun’s hand off his thigh and sets it back in his lap. Changkyun looks at his plate of food, a smirk meant for Jooheon tugging at the corner of his mouth. Jooheon knocks his knee against Changkyun’s then goes back to his meal.

Afterwards they browse the markets and shops, talking about things that aren’t really important, joking around, laughing about how Hyunwoo spilled water on the floor during rehearsal and how Kihyun almost slipped in it. Hyungwon tests out his Mandarin and buys an assortment of chocolate and candy from one of the street vendors. They feel like tourists, curious about everything, overwhelmed by all the new sights and smells, and admittedly a little lost walking through the unfamiliar streets, but it’s good to get away from the spotlights and cameras for a few hours.

“The weather is nice,” Changkyun says, chewing on something sticky and sweet that Hyungwon gave him. His hand is resting on Jooheon’s leg again, but only as far as his knee now that there’s no table to hide it. His fingers splay out a few inches away from where the first bruise on Jooheon’s thigh starts. Changkyun gives him a knowing look, the beginnings of a smile on his lips, and teasingly pops another candy into his mouth.

Changkyun still tastes like sugar when Jooheon kisses him later, back in the comfort of their room, gentle and tender, trying to melt away some of the stress from their busy schedule. This is all their relationship was in the beginning. It began as a way to blow off steam, sweet and easy, something natural between them that they didn’t need to think too much about. When Jooheon kissed Changkyun for the first time, he hadn’t expected anything to come from it, but then Changkyun kissed him back.

A contented sigh leaves Changkyun when Jooheon’s lips trace his cheekbones, his jaw, then down the strip of his neck. He kisses at spots he knows Changkyun is especially sensitive, trying to tease him as much as he did earlier, but Changkyun still does one better and nudges his hand between Jooheon’s thighs again. He runs his fingers up and down the inner seam of Jooheon’s black, ripped jeans.

“Are the marks still there?” he asks.

Jooheon nods. It’s only been a day, but the marks have turned considerably darker and blotchier than when Changkyun first put them there, more purple than red now.

Changkyun looks up at Jooheon through his eyelashes, a little shy. “I want them too.”

“Huh?” Jooheon doesn’t catch what he says the first time, too distracted by the hand moving between his legs.

“Marks,” Changkyun says. His hand stops where he assumes the bruises are. “Make us even.”

Jooheon feels overwhelmed and turned on all at once, an intense feeling of affection filling his entire chest. Changkyun stares at him expectantly, almost too vulnerable, and Jooheon thinks his heart might really burst out of his ribcage. “Whatever you want, Changkyun.”

Changkyun moves the hand resting against Jooheon’s thigh to his collarbone. He tugs away his shirt to reveal a blank canvas of skin.

Jooheon shakes his head, remembering the fading bruise on Changkyun’s hipbone he put there in the shower. “Not there,” he says. “I don’t want anyone else to see. Only me.”

Jooheon pulls Changkyun down the mattress by his hips and hovers over him. He’s never gotten possessive of Changkyun, not even when the fans get touchy or the members coddle him to death, because he’s never felt like he was his. Now Changkyun is almost asking him to lay his claim. Jooheon doesn’t know what else to do but give him what he wants.

With quick fingers, Jooheon slips off Changkyun’s shirt and undoes the buttons on his pants. He’s half hard already, outlined by the fabric of his boxer shorts.

“You’re mine, yeah?” Jooheon asks before slipping them off.

“I’m yours.” Changkyun gasps as the air hits his bare skin.

Jooheon wonders if he really means it, or if it’s just part of the game they’re playing. Either way, Jooheon doesn’t think about it for too long. It’s hard to think about anything else when Changkyun is naked underneath him like this, all smooth, bare skin. Jooheon likes everything about him. He likes his soft parts and sharp parts, hidden moles and freckles, acne scars and birthmarks. It baffles Jooheon that Changkyun wants him to make marks of his own somewhere, even if they’ll only last a few days.

“You’re beautiful, Changkyun,” Jooheon says. “Hope you know that.”

He’s never told him so explicitly before. He’s said he’s handsome, and hot, and sexy, but never beautiful. Changkyun blushes red, his chest flushed, and tugs Jooheon down to kiss him, reminding him what he wants.

Jooheon wastes no more time and shifts back down the bed. He finds the bruise he left on Changkyun’s hip yesterday and sucks another one beside it, then another one on his opposite hipbone, and another one underneath his belly button. Jooheon doesn’t use his teeth, but the love bites are still bright and burning when he pulls his mouth away. 

Changkyun cards his fingers through Jooheon’s hair. “More,” he whimpers. 

Another one on his stomach, another on his left hip, another on his waist. Changkyun moans when Jooheon sucks a bruise high on the inside of his thigh, close to the spot where Changkyun left similar ones. He nibbles a bit at the skin this time, taking it experimentally between his teeth. Changkyun moans in approval, so Jooheon places a symmetrical bruise on his other thigh as well.

“Want me to keep going?” Jooheon asks.

Changkyun is fully hard now, and almost shivering, but he nods.

“Okay, turn around.”

Changkyun does as he’s told, flipping over onto his stomach so Jooheon can see the expanse of his back laid out in front of him amidst the sheets. Jooheon kisses slowly down his spine, nipping here and there. When he meets the two dimples in Changkyun’s lower back, he sucks more bruises onto his skin. Changkyun squirms, slipping downwards on the mattress, so Jooheon snakes an arm around his stomach to shift him back up. A choked off moan, almost sob-like, escapes Changkyun’s lips and Jooheon realizes he hasn’t touched himself this whole time. The friction of his cock against the sheets must be too much.

“Hold on,” Jooheon says, then sucks the last bruise into the back of Changkyun’s neck where his shoulders meet. He gently rolls Changkyun back over and hovers above him. “What do you want?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Changkyun says, breathy. “Just touch me.”

Too eager to ask him to elaborate, Jooheon reaches for Changkyun’s cock. As soon as he wraps his fingers around him, Changkyun melts under his touch, whimpering, hips bucking into Jooheon’s fist, eyelids fluttering closed. Jooheon can’t do much more before Changkyun is coming, throwing his head back, a low moan in his throat. Jooheon watches in awe, admiring the thin sheen of sweat across Changkyun’s forehead and the purposeful tilt of his jaw. Without tearing his eyes away, Jooheon pumps his hand until Changkyun’s cock has stopped pulsing in his fist. Changkyun whines at the overstimulation, grabbing Jooheon’s wrist. When Jooheon removes his hand, come drips across Changkyun’s stomach over the bites and kisses peppered there. Shakily, Changkyun reaches for Jooheon. His fingers catch the front of his t-shirt and his hand stills.

“Why the hell are you still wearing clothes?” he huffs.

Jooheon laughs into Changkyun’s shoulder and lets himself be undressed, his shirt and jeans thrown dramatically to the floor to join the rest of Changkyun’s clothes. Changkyun holds him close, tangling their legs together.

“Can I suck you off?” he asks bluntly, too sated and satisfied to skirt around it.

Jooheon smiles. “Whatever you want,” he teases and Changkyun pulls him into a bruising kiss.

Afterwards, they sit together on the bed, tangled in the sheets. Changkyun is nestled between Jooheon’s legs, the television turned to some sitcom Jooheon doesn’t know the name of. Jooheon lazily runs his hands up and down Changkyun’s sides while he leans against his chest, laughing periodically. The show is in English and subtitled in Cantonese, so Jooheon doesn't bother listening. Every now and then Changkyun attempts to explain a joke, but it doesn’t translate the same. Jooheon kisses the crown of his head and thanks him for trying anyways.

More than a few times he catches Changkyun thumbing at the marks on his waist, or his hand shifting underneath the sheets to touch the ones between his thighs. Changkyun seems almost proud of the marks, like they’re works of art painted against his skin.

“They don’t hurt or anything, do they?” Jooheon asks. He knows the bruises Changkyun left barely felt sore for more than an hour, but Changkyun must have twice as many on his skin than Jooheon does.

“Not really,” Changkyun says. He runs his index finger across one at his hip. 

Jooheon rests his chin on Changkyun’s shoulder, relieved. “Do you like it when I mark you up?” he asks. It’s not meant to sound teasing. Jooheon’s genuinely curious about it. He wants to know what Changkyun wants so he can give it to him next time, and the time after that. Even if they’ve learned each other’s bodies again and again, they’re still trying to figure that out about each other.

Changkyun looks back at him. His cheeks are a little pink, but he’s smirking. “Yeah,” he says, lying back against Jooheon’s chest. “But I like marking you up too.”

Jooheon grins, thinking about how their love bites probably match. “I always knew you were bitey,” he says, “but not that bitey.”

“Shut up, hyung,” Changkyun says, but his expression turns serious after a moment, a little hesitant. “Was it, um, was it okay? Was it okay for me to ask like that?”

“Of course, it was okay,” Jooheon says. “Whatever you want, Changkyun. Remember?”

Even though they’ve been together—in one way or another—for the last few months, Changkyun is still learning how to ask for what he wants. He and Jooheon have that in common. It’s the only thing that doesn’t come easy for him when he’s with Changkyun. They may share a bed some nights, or steal kisses when no one is looking, or get each other off when they can, sneakily given blow jobs and hand jobs, but that’s as far as it goes. Jooheon wants more than that. He’s always wanted more, but being that intimate requires time which they don’t have. It also requires privacy. They never have that either, except during overseas schedules like these. Jooheon doesn’t ask, partly because their situation might not allow it, and partly because Changkyun might not feel the same way. The last thing Jooheon wants to do is overcomplicate their relationship when everything else feels like second nature between them.

By the time the show is over, it’s nearing midnight. Jooheon slides out from underneath Changkyun to head to the bathroom, knowing they should get ready for bed soon. The sheets shift when he gets up, fabric falling down past Changkyun’s hips. Jooheon pauses, drinking in the image of Changkyun once again, his hair mussed up from sex, smiling at him, lit by the soft light of the television and a desk lamp across the room, and covered in Jooheon’s marks—purple and red.

Jooheon leans over to kiss him. “They look pretty on you.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Jooheon says. He brushes his lips down Changkyun’s chest to his stomach, finds a love bite near his navel and kisses it gently, soothing over the red. “You’re beautiful.”

“No, I’m not,” Changkyun says, hands running through Jooheon’s hair.

Jooheon purses his lips and blows a raspberry against Changkyun’s tummy. Changkyun can’t help but giggle as it tickles his skin. “Stop arguing with me,” Jooheon says. “Yes, you are.”

“Well, so are you.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Now look who’s arguing,” Changkyun says, rolling his eyes. “You are, Jooheon. Really.”

Changkyun cups his face and leans in to kiss him again. Sweet and easy, Jooheon reminds himself. He wants it to stay that way.

The sunlight is bright from behind Jooheon’s closed eyes when he wakes up the next morning. His body feels heavy and reluctant. He refuses to open his eyes at first, wanting to linger in the fantasy of sleeping in for a few more hours. Jooheon groans and reaches over to where Changkyun should be sleeping, but his hand only meets a cold pillow and rumpled sheets. Jooheon finally opens his eyes to see Changkyun isn’t there, but then he pauses, hearing someone puttering around in the bathroom.

“Changkyun?”

“No, it’s me.”

Jooheon looks across the room to see Hoseok rummaging around in their bathroom, the door wide open and the light turned on. Jooheon sits up, groggily rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“What are you doing, hyung?” he asks, visibly confused.

“I need to borrow your toothpaste.”

“Huh? Again? What? Where’s Changkyun?”

Hoseok looks over at the empty spot next to Jooheon. “He went with Hyungwon to get food,” Hoseok explains. “You looked pretty knocked out. He probably didn’t want to wake you.” He’s still rummaging around. “Where’s your toothpaste?”

Jooheon sighs, peeling the blankets off his legs. Thankfully he decided to change into shorts before falling asleep. He picks up a t-shirt of his from somewhere off the floor and pulls it on before sleepily shuffling into the bathroom.

“It’s probably in Changkyun’s bag or something,” Jooheon guesses. Changkyun was the last one in the bathroom last night. He doesn’t remember where he put it.

Changkyun’s toiletries bag is sitting on the counter, so Hoseok unzips and searches it too. Jooheon leans against the sink while Hoseok sorts through about five different face washes, lotions, and skin products until he finds a small travel sized tube of toothpaste.

“Found it. Thanks, I didn’t remember to—” Hoseok begins, but for some reason he stops mid sentence and smirks. Jooheon watches as he pushes a bottle of toner out of the way and pulls out something square and wrapped in plastic.

Jooheon’s brain is still hazy with sleep. At first he thinks it’s one of the candies Hyungwon gave Changkyun last night, the edge zigzagged like a candy wrapper, shiny and colourful, but Hoseok tells him otherwise.

“You might want to hide your condoms in a more discreet place,” Hoseok says, laughing, then tosses it at Jooheon’s chest. Jooheon catches the condom in his hand before it can fall to the ground, then Hoseok pulls another one out of Changkyun’s bag, then a whole package.

“Wait, this isn’t mine,” Jooheon says and then, once he realizes, a soft, “Oh.”

He can already feel the tips of his ears burning bright red. Hoseok looks over at him, his eyebrows knitting together in confusion, wondering what he’s done wrong. “Why do you look so surprised?” he asks.

Jooheon isn’t sure what to say. He didn’t think this was something Changkyun wanted. He never brought it up and neither did Jooheon. But Changkyun has condoms in his bag? That’s some indication, isn’t it? Why does Changkyun have them if Jooheon’s never mentioned it? Was Changkyun going to ask him?

Jooheon throws the condom on the counter and retreats back into the bedroom, collapsing onto the bed with a sigh. Hoseok follows after him, flicking the bathroom light off.

“What was that all about?” he says, concern in his voice. “You okay?”

A moment passes. The room is quiet. Jooheon silently works up the courage to explain himself. “Hyung, can I ask you something?”

Hoseok sits on the edge of the bed, folding his hands in his lap. “Sure, go ahead.”

“Okay.” Jooheon drags a hand through his hair and sits up to face him, willing himself not to get any more embarrassed. “How do you know when it’s a good time to, um…” Jooheon swallows. He’s too embarrassed to voice it so explicitly. “You know what I mean.”

Hoseok’s eyebrows unknit themselves, finally understanding. “You and Changkyun have never gone that far?” he asks.

Jooheon forces down the urge to laugh his embarrassment away and end the conversation at that. “Yeah, we’ve never…yeah,” he says. His cheeks are getting hot.

“Wait, really?” Hoseok says, still a little surprised, but he backtracks immediately. “I mean, not everyone does, or has to, or wants to for that matter.”

“I know that, but it seems like Changkyun does.”

Jooheon must sound worried because Hoseok says, “Jooheon, you don’t have to do anything you’re not comfortable with. If you don’t want to, Changkyun will understand.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to, hyung,” Jooheon explains, “I just never knew Changkyun wanted to.”

Jooheon tries to remember if Changkyun ever hinted at anything before. He doesn’t recall anything specific. Maybe he alluded to it and Jooheon just wasn’t paying enough attention.

Hoseok nods, smiling sympathetically. Jooheon’s embarrassment lessens slightly with Hoseok’s understanding, but his ears are still burning hot as if they’re threatening to melt off his head.

“You never talked about it at all?” Hoseok asks.

“We never had the chance to, I guess,” Jooheon says. “Changkyun’s shy about this stuff sometimes. He never said anything to me about it, so I didn’t think it was smart to ask.”

Hoseok squeezes Jooheon’s shoulder, the reassuring pressure melting away some of Jooheon’s apprehension. “Go talk to him about it. He might be glad you asked.”

They have a couple interviews lined up for the afternoon, then the recording for the new dance show. Jooheon keeps his focus on their performance. The uncertainty about what to say to Changkyun slips to the back of his mind. It’s replaced by the brightness of the stage lights, and the buzz of energy he receives from the cheers and applause, sweat dripping down the back of his neck and the beat of the music thumping in his ribcage.

On the way back to the hotel, Changkyun lets his head rest on Jooheon’s shoulder. He offers Jooheon the other earbud of his earphones. Jooheon pops it into his ear and a song—downtempo and sleepy, the kind of song you might listen to late at night to watch the streetlights outside your window—begins to play. Changkyun curls his hand around the hem of Jooheon’s t-shirt and sighs.

“You looked good out there,” he says quietly so only Jooheon will hear.

Jooheon smiles wide and briefly brushes his thumb across Changkyun’s knuckles.

“You too.”

“Why do I feel so sore today?” Changkyun asks when they get back to their room, rubbing at his shoulders and his legs.

“I guess the choreography was kinda intensive,” Jooheon says as he changes into more comfortable clothes. He pulls a t-shirt over his head. “You were off your feet for a while, you must not be used to it yet.”

Changkyun frowns. “Kiss it better?” he asks with a playfully exaggerated pout.

“Don’t be greasy,” Jooheon says but drops a kiss onto his shoulder anyways. “Go have a bath or something. It’ll help.”

Changkyun leaves the door to the bathroom open. Jooheon listens to the water roll into the tub until it’s full. It sloshes as Changkyun sinks into it, steam rising from the surface and fogging up the mirrors. Now is Jooheon’s chance to say something. He walks into the bathroom, his feet cold against the tiles, and sits on the edge of the tub. Jooheon dips his hand into the water, swirling it around then splashing some at Changkyun’s chest. Changkyun splashes back, the water wetting up to Jooheon’s elbow.

“Feel any better?” Jooheon asks.

Changkyun leans back against the end of the tub and sighs, warm and content. From underneath the water, Jooheon can see the spotting of bruises on Changkyun’s hips.

“Mhmm,” he hums. Changkyun links Jooheon’s fingers with his. “Too bad we don’t have a bathtub in our dorm.” Changkyun sways their hands back and forth in the water. The surface ripples. “You look like you’re thinking about something. What’s up?”

Jooheon bites the inside of his lip. Now would be a good time, he tells himself. “Changkyun,” Jooheon starts. “Do you remember what I said yesterday?”

Changkyun thinks for a second. “Not really,” he says. “You say I lot of things.”

“Whatever you want,” Jooheon repeats. “Changkyun, I just want you to know if you ever want something, you can tell me.”

Changkyun looks up at him, confused at what he might be hinting at, but then a blush spreads across his cheeks. “Oh.”

“I found a condom in your bag,” Jooheon says, explaining what Changkyun has already figured out. Well, Hoseok found it, but Changkyun doesn’t need to know. It'll only serve to embarrass him more, so Jooheon leaves that detail out. “If that’s, um, something you want, you don’t need to hide it from me. Whatever you want, you can just ask.”

Changkyun sits up, leaning against the edge of the tub, and rests his head on Jooheon’s leg. “I was going to tell you,” he begins, hesitant, “but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know if we should wait longer or if you wanted it too. I mean, I’m ready to, I want to, but I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even know if we’d have the chance.”

Jooheon understands what he means. They’re lucky to get any time between schedules, let alone privacy in the dorm. The only chance they have complete privacy is when they share a hotel room. Jooheon wonders if Changkyun planned for it, if he specifically brought the condoms thinking they might share a room together like they are now.

“I should have talked to you about it first,” Jooheon says. “But I thought the same thing as you. I didn’t think you wanted it because you didn’t ask, so I didn’t want to ask you either.”

“No, I should have asked you in the first place,” Changkyun disagrees. “I almost did last night. But I kept second guessing myself. I chickened out more than a few times.” Changkyun laughs. Jooheon can feel it against his knee. “Have you thought about it? Before now, I mean.”

Jooheon runs his hand through Changkyun’s hair. “Of course I have.”

“You’ve, um, done it before, right?” Changkyun sounds shy.

“Yeah, I had a few boyfriends while I was a trainee.”

“Anyone I’d know?”

Jooheon laughs and splashes Changkyun’s chest again. “No, I don’t think so. They weren’t very serious relationships.”

He pauses at his own words. Those weren’t very serious relationships, but this one is? Jooheon never set out any guidelines for his relationship with Changkyun. They naturally fell into whatever they are now. Changkyun isn't his boyfriend exactly, but Jooheon never said ‘no strings attached’ either. Now he’s beginning to think there are definitely some strings.

“Back in high school I had a boyfriend, but it didn’t last very long,” Changkyun says after a minute. He glances away, watching the water droplets roll off his skin. “There’s probably something else I should tell you.” He looks hesitant again. “I’ve never… well, you’ll, um, you’ll be my first.”

Jooheon isn’t sure whether he’s surprised or not. It would explain Changkyun’s shyness in the beginning, his inexperience with some things, and his hesitance to speak up about what he wants, but Jooheon doesn’t understand why Changkyun wouldn’t tell him earlier. Did he think he’d reject him?

“No pressure,” Jooheon says, half-joking, half-serious, and mostly to himself. Worry settles heavy inside his gut. Changkyun’s first time should be a good experience. It’s enough that he trusts him with this, Jooheon doesn’t want to fuck it up. He deserves that much.

“Don’t be nervous,” Changkyun teases, seeing Jooheon’s unsure expression, but he doesn’t look completely sure himself. He sits back into the tub, sinking down into the water until it comes up to his chin. “At least I won’t have anything to compare it to.”

That breaks the tension, snapping it like a rubber band. Jooheon splashes him again.

“Don’t stay in there too long,” he warns after the water has stopped sloshing around in the tub. He gets to his feet and leans over to kiss the top of Changkyun’s head. “You’ll turn into a fish.”

“Maybe I want to be a fish,” Changkyun says, waving his arms in the water. He sinks down far enough to submerge his mouth and blows a few bubbles. The water pops and splatters.

“I can’t fuck you if you’re a fish.”

Changkyun laughs, high-pitched and playful. He pulls Jooheon back in to kiss him.

“Goodnight, hyung.”

“Goodnight.”

They have no schedules planned for the rest of their trip, so their last day in China is a free one. Changkyun and Jooheon stay in bed most of the morning, kissing each other lazily, slow and sleepy. They fly back to Korea tomorrow and Jooheon wants to enjoy his time with Changkyun as much as he can.

Changkyun must have the same idea because he doesn’t leave Jooheon alone for more than a second all morning. Jooheon only has enough time to wet his hair when Changkyun steps into the shower with him, presses him against the tiles, then stoops to his knees.

Jooheon can’t help but smile when Changkyun sucks his cock into his mouth.

He could really get used to this. 

“I think you’ve given me more blow jobs in the past few days than you have in the entire time we’ve been doing this,” Jooheon says afterwards, out of breath, tugging Changkyun back up to kiss him.

Changkyun shrugs when the kiss breaks. “Not my fault you like sucking dick so much,” he quips, smirking cheekily. “I think you got come in my hair by the way.”

Jooheon laughs. “Fuck off,” he says, shoving Changkyun’s chest. “No, I didn’t.”

“I swear you did.”

“I don’t see anything.”

Changkyun is about to say something else when Jooheon grabs the bottle of shampoo and dumps a glob of it into Changkyun’s hair. He rakes his fingers through it until it lathers, pulling in different directions so his hair stands on end, reminiscent of the spiked updos of 90’s boybands. Bubbles slide down Changkyun’s forehead. Changkyun squints at him, trying to avoid getting soap in his eyes, but Jooheon wipes his forehead clean before the bubbles can drip down.

“Better?”

When they meet everyone downstairs for breakfast, Hoseok looks at Jooheon with eyebrows raised, likely wondering how his conversation with Changkyun went. Jooheon shrugs and sits down beside Hyunwoo. Over breakfast, the members discuss what they want to do with their free time. Jooheon pushes his food around on his plate and sips from his coffee.

"Where does everyone want to go?" Hyunwoo asks.

From the pocket of his hoodie, Changkyun pulls out a pamphlet and tosses it onto the table. It advertises multiple landmarks, tourist attractions, exhibits and museums to visit.

"Where'd you get this?" Minhyuk asks, leaning over the table to get a better look.

"Front desk."

Changkyun points to a picture on the front of the pamphlet—a building with antique looking traditional Chinese architecture, intricately carved pillars, murals, and statues out front. “This art museum is over 400 years old apparently.”

Hyungwon snatches the pamphlet off the table and squints at it from behind his glasses. “Looks fancy,” he says. “Wanna go?”

Changkyun agrees. Hyunwoo, Minhyuk, and Kihyun say something about going to the zoo, while Hoseok browses through the map at the back of the pamphlet.

“I want to go street shopping,” Hoseok says, leaning back in his chair. “Anyone want to come with me?” He shoots Jooheon a look. It probably translates to something like ‘can we talk?’. Jooheon nods.

“Okay, so… How about we split into groups, go wherever, then meet back at the hotel," Kihyun suggests before shoving a forkful of scrambled eggs into his mouth. “That way everyone can spend their free time where they want.”

With full stomachs, they head back up to their rooms to get ready. In the elevator, Changkyun leans his head against Jooheon’s shoulder. "You sure you don't want to come with me and Hyungwon hyung?” he asks.

"I already told Hoseok I'd go with him," Jooheon says apologetically. ”Maybe I can meet up with you later?"

"Okay, sounds good.”

It’s a nice day outside for street shopping. The weather is pleasantly warm, the sky painted baby blue. The sun shines past wispy clouds onto the vendor stalls and shoppers below. Jooheon follows Hoseok through the crowds, window shopping, browsing through markets stalls, and going in and out of clothing stores while their manager waits for them outside.

“Did you follow my advice?” Hoseok asks, stopping to look through a rack of clothing, probably planning out the outfit he’ll wear to the airport tomorrow.

Jooheon picks up a hat, looks at the price tag, then immediately puts it back down. “Yeah, I talked to him.”

“How’d that go?”

“Good, I guess.” Jooheon doesn’t know how much he should reveal to Hoseok about their conversation last night, or how unexpectedly nervous he is. It doesn’t help that tonight is their last night in China, the last chance they’ll have for a while. Changkyun didn’t explicitly say anything, but Jooheon assumes that tonight is the night. Otherwise, they might have to wait even longer for another chance. It’s not like they can suddenly kick everyone out of the dorm one day.

“How long have you and Changkyun been together? Or…” Hoseok trails off, unable to find the right word. He waves his hands around. “Doing whatever it is you’re doing. You know what I mean.”

“A few months maybe,” Jooheon says, trying to think back, doing the math in his head. “Two? Maybe three?”

“Really? That’s it?” Hoseok’s eyes go wide.

“Yeah, why?”

“I thought it’s been happening for, I don’t know, a year?”

“Jesus Christ, hyung, a year? Seriously?”

“What?” Hoseok says, raising his hands defensively. “You know what you’re like with him.” He turns around to sort through a display of t-shirts. He picks one up and shows it Jooheon. “What do you think about this?” Jooheon eyes the neon blue shirt. It has holes cut out of the sleeves, a floral pattern, and something in English written in bright pink font on the front. Jooheon crinkles his nose at it, so Hoseok tosses that one aside and grabs another. This one is more simple, black and dark green, still floral, but stylish. “What about this?”

“Yeah, that one’s alright.”

Hoseok tries it on in the dressing room while Jooheon waits outside the door on a bench. He comes out a minute later. “How does it look?”

“It looks good,” Jooheon says, then plays up the cuteness in his voice, “but you look good in everything, hyung.”

Hoseok laughs.

It convinces him enough to buy the shirt. Hoseok quickly pays and they leave the store soon after, meeting back up with their manager. He trails a few steps behind them. They’re walking down the street, weaving in and out between pedestrians, when Jooheon finally finds the courage to voice what he’s worried about the most.

“Hyung?”

“Mhm?” Hoseok looks back at him, swinging his shopping bag between them.

“I found out that Changkyun’s never, um,” Jooheon starts, needing advice or reassurance, still unsure whether he should tell Hoseok truthfully or not, but it’s too late. Hoseok already understands.

“Really?” he asks, not shocked or unimpressed with Changkyun, but more surprised that Jooheon only just found out. “You’ve been deflowering him this whole time?”

Hyung,” Jooheon whines. “I haven’t been ‘deflowering’ him.”

“I know, I know. I’m just kidding,” Hoseok says, laughing warmly, his eyes and nose crinkling in sync with his smile.

Jooheon sighs. “I don’t know why I’m so nervous.”

It sits in the pit of Jooheon’s stomach like a rock. A very heavy rock. A boulder. He hasn’t stopped thinking about it since last night.

“What was your first time like?” Hoseok asks.

Jooheon hesitates before realizing no one walking past will understand. He’s never been so happy that everyone within an earshot doesn’t speak the same language him, except for their manager, but he’s trailing far enough behind.

“Um, uncomfortable to say the least,” Jooheon says, cringing slightly at the memory. “He came too soon. Probably didn’t use enough lube either.”

Hoseok raises an eyebrow.

Jooheon smirks. “What? I’m versatile,” he says. “Anyways, I didn’t know him very well. He was a lot older than me. Just someone my friends set me up with.”

They stop at another vendor’s booth selling clothing. Hoseok picks up a studded faux leather jacket, inspects one of the sleeves, then puts it back on the rack. They start walking again. “Well, that explains it then.”

“Explains what?”

“Why you’re so nervous,” he reasons. “Your first time was shit, and you don’t want the same thing to happen with you and Changkyun.”

Jooheon hadn’t thought of it that way. “I guess so.”

“Everyone knows how much you care about him,” Hoseok says. “Even when we were trainees, I never saw you so careful with someone. At first I thought you two were just fucking around, but I don’t know. You must really, really like Changkyun. In one way or another.”

Jooheon nods. “Yeah, I do.”

The museum is only a twenty minute walk away. Jooheon thinks they’ll get lost in the winding streets, but they somehow find their way. They pass tourists and tour groups at the front of the museum, pay for their tickets, and shuffle inside. Their manager lets them go alone, saying he’ll meet them back at the hotel later.

“What time is it?” Hoseok asks when they enter the lobby, all tall ceilings and marble floors.

Jooheon looks at his watch. “Um, 3:49?”

“Hyungwon said something about meeting them near the oil paintings exhibit at four o’clock,” he recalls, then grabs Jooheon’s wrist. “Come on.”

Jooheon lets Hoseok lead the way, following the signs right and left, up a set of stairs, through long, confusing hallways. Jooheon watches the art as it passes by on the walls, some protected by glass, others in frames larger than Jooheon and Hoseok combined. There are sculptures too, white marble and grey stone, intricately engraved. Some are old and cracked in places, while others look like they were just carved yesterday, expertly polished and shining.

They climb another flight of stairs. As the steps above him fall out of view, Jooheon spots Changkyun and Hyungwon across the room, sitting on a bench in the middle of the floor, staring at the largest painting Jooheon has probably seen yet. It reaches from the ground to the ceiling and spans a quarter of the wall space. It’s a painting of mountains, tall and misty, their peaks hazy with snow and clouds.

Changkyun turns his head and smiles when he catches Jooheon’s eyes. Hyungwon waves them over and Jooheon sits beside Changkyun snugly on the bench, resting a hand on his shoulder and leaning into him.

“We’re gonna go to the gift shop,” Hyungwon says, standing up with Hoseok.

“Wanna come?” Hoseok asks.

“Maybe in a minute,” Changkyun says.

“Okay, meet us there?”

“Sure.”

They watch Hyungwon and Hoseok disappear down the stairs, then Changkyun turns back to the painting. “I really like this one,” he says, then gets to his feet. He holds out his hand.

Jooheon curls his fingers around Changkyun’s and stands up, dropping his hand back to his side before following him down the hall. Changkyun points out the paintings he likes the most as they go, some contemporary, some traditional, portraits of historic figures and paintings of landscapes, oils and watercolours and acrylics. Jooheon finds himself more enchanted by the way Changkyun looks at the artwork than any of the artwork itself. All of his anxiety about tonight melts away just by watching him. He seems happy, an excited glint in his eye every time he looks back at Jooheon.   

After he finishes showing Jooheon most of the paintings, Changkyun leads him to an empty, narrow hallway back behind one of the larger exhibits. No one is around but them. Changkyun kisses Jooheon in front of a painting of a red lotus flower, wading down a lazy, blue river.

Jooheon smiles shyly when Changkyun pulls away, his lips gone just as quickly as they came. “What was that for?” he asks.

“What? Am I not allowed to kiss my boyfriend?”

Boyfriend? The word catches Jooheon off-guard in the best way possible. His stomach flutters. Changkyun smiles at his surprise, knowing he’s never said it before, almost teasing him.

“Come on,” Changkyun says. He grabs Jooheon’s hand again. “Hyungwon and Hoseok hyung are probably waiting for us.”

They meet up with everyone again to eat. They have a light dinner, soup and vegetable dumplings. Jooheon notices Changkyun isn’t eating as much as he usually does, just soup. Eventually Changkyun excuses himself to the bathroom, and Hoseok shoots Jooheon a look. Throughout dinner, Hoseok shows off the clothes he bought while Minhyuk raves about the animals they saw at the zoo, saying they should all go together next time. By the time they’ve finished their food, their managers are already reminding them how early they have to wake up tomorrow morning to leave for the airport in time.

"Go to sleep early."

"Don't stay up!"

When they get back to the hotel, it’s barely past eight o’clock, but everyone grumbles and heads up to their respective rooms. Jooheon feels nervous again when the door to their room comes into sight. He fumbles with the keycard, the light on the lock flashing green, and the door clicks open. Jooheon flicks the lights on, shrugging off his jacket and throwing it onto the chair in the corner. He doesn’t say anything, and neither does Changkyun. Changkyun flops down on the bed and Jooheon silently lies beside him.

Half a minute passes before Changkyun turns on his side to look at him. He reaches out and traces Jooheon’s cheek, the side of his face, his jaw, then finally his lips. Jooheon kisses the pads of his fingers then smiles.

“Hi,” he says.

Changkyun grins back at him. “Hi.”

Jooheon’s nervousness is suddenly replaced by that swelling feeling of affection again, warm and consuming in his chest, in his stomach, all the way down to his toes and the tips of his fingers. Changkyun props himself up on his hands, sitting back on his knees, and swings a leg over Jooheon to straddle his lap. Jooheon sits up and rubs Changkyun’s back underneath his loose t-shirt, running his hands up and down the seam of his spine. Changkyun’s taller than him like this, looking down at him, cupping his face gently in his hands. Jooheon has never felt more his than he does right now, never more ready to give in to Changkyun in every way.

“Remember when you told me you were mine?” Jooheon asks, voice low. 

“Yes.” Changkyun sounds so sure of himself that Jooheon now realizes he was being genuine about what he said.

“Well, I’m yours too.”

Changkyun doesn’t hesitate to lean down and kiss him, slotting their mouths together, tongue pressing against Jooheon’s bottom lip, taking it between both of his.

“Can I take this off?” Changkyun asks against his mouth, his hand slipping underneath Jooheon’s shirt. Jooheon doesn’t know why he’s asking permission. It’s like the first time they touched each other all over again, nervous and fumbling with each other’s clothes, asking for approval with every touch, but excited and overwhelmed by the closeness.

“If you want to,” Jooheon teases.

Changkyun goes ahead and pulls it over his head, tossing it out of their way. With each inch of exposed skin, Jooheon feels almost bashful, like Changkyun is seeing him in a completely different light for the first time, staring right through him, turning him inside out with one look.

“Don’t be shy,” Changkyun says. He runs his hands over the bare expanse of Jooheon’s chest, mapping out his body with his fingers.

“I’m not shy,” Jooheon begins, but Changkyun’s thumb brushes over one of his nipples and elicits a moan from low in his throat.

Changkyun leans in and kisses patterns across Jooheon’s collarbone, then lower against his breastbone. His tongue darts out to taste his skin. Jooheon’s hands find their way into Changkyun’s hair as he rock his hips against him, slow and aching. They’ve hardly done anything yet, but Jooheon is already half hard. He can feel Changkyun through his jeans too. Jooheon catches the hem of Changkyun’s t-shirt and tugs it off to join his on the floor. He nips at Changkyun’s bottom lip, hard, then breaks the kiss.

“Do you want—” Jooheon doesn't have to finish his sentence.

“I want to, Jooheon.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Gently, Jooheon pushes Changkyun away and, with some fumbling, swaps their positions so Changkyun is on his back, his hair splayed out against the white pillows.

He kisses him again before unzipping his jeans and sliding them off his legs, then his underwear. At the same time Changkyun pushes Jooheon’s track pants off his hips. Jooheon kicks them off somewhere onto the floor along with his boxers.

Out of habit, Changkyun reaches for Jooheon’s cock, but before he can touch him Jooheon grabs his wrists and gently pins them above his head.

“Let me focus on you,” Jooheon says, leaning in to kiss along Changkyun’s neck.

Changkyun tips his head back, a smile on his lips. “Okay.”

Jooheon kisses everywhere he can, Changkyun’s sternum, his ribs, over every bruise and bite he left there. When he lets go of Changkyun’s wrists, his hands curl into his hair, searching for something to grab onto. Jooheon slips a hand past Changkyun’s thighs and between his cheeks, brushing his fingers against his hole. Changkyun writhes his hips, but Jooheon holds them down against the mattress. 

“Relax, baby,” he hushes. 

“Jooheon,” Changkyun begs, every barrier of shyness breaking down. "Please."

“Okay.” Jooheon reaches for one of the pillows against the headboard that Changkyun’s head isn’t against. “Lift your hips for me.” Changkyun does as he’s told and Jooheon slips the pillow underneath his lower back, elevating his hips just enough. He wants to make him as comfortable as possible. “It’ll make things easier.” 

Changkyun watches intently as Jooheon reaches over him to grab the bottle of lube in the nightstand drawer. He pours lube over his fingers and nudges his legs apart, petting at his thighs.

“Remember to breathe,” Jooheon says and kisses Changkyun one more time. “And try to relax. Okay?”

“Okay.”   

At his consent, Jooheon sinks his index finger into him, moves it slowly in and out. “Does it feel alright?”

Changkyun nods, so Jooheon slowly adds a second finger.

“Your—ah—your fingers feel different from mine,” Changkyun says breathily.

Jooheon’s cock twitches at the thought of Changkyun touching himself, working himself open. He must have wanted this for a long time if he went as far as stretching himself. Jooheon feels a little guilty making him wait so long.

When Jooheon adds a third finger, he feels Changkyun tense.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just kind of nervous.”

“Do you want me to stop?”

“No,” Changkyun says immediately, reaching for Jooheon. “Keep going.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable or—”

“Jooheon, I’m okay,” Changkyun says, laughing a little at his overprotectiveness. “I can handle it. Just keep going.”

Jooheon nods and continues to work him open, pushing his fingers inside of him, pulling back and forth. It’s easier once Changkyun’s body starts to go slack. He closes his eyes to focus on relaxing his muscles. After a couple minutes of loosening him up, Changkyun begins to roll his hips in time with the motion of Jooheon’s hand, squirming against his fingers, stuttering out gasps every now and then.

“Keep breathing,” Jooheon says. He watches the rise and fall of Changkyun’s chest, steady and sure, then quick whenever Jooheon hits the sensitive spot inside him that rips a moan through Changkyun’s throat. “That’s it, babe.”

When Jooheon pulls his fingers out to coat them with more lube, Changkyun whines at the loss, reaching for him again. “Jooheon,” he gasps.

“It’s okay. It’s okay,” Jooheon pours an even more generous amount of lube onto his fingers again, circling Changkyun’s hole with his knuckle before sinking his fingers in once again. Two fingers, then three. Changkyun feels prepared enough now, wet and tight but much more relaxed. Jooheon curls his fingers inside Changkyun and his cock jumps, leaking pre-come.

“Jooheon, I want you,” Changkyun stutters, moaning. He pulls Jooheon close, kisses him hard, desperate. “Fuck me already,” he says, in between messy, needy kisses, then another, “Please.”

Jooheon doesn’t need to be told twice.

He quickly coats his cock with lube. His fingers are wet and slippery as he rolls the condom on, but he manages, then dumps lube over his cock again, cool and slick. He wipes his hands off on the sheets and adjusts Changkyun’s hips on top of the pillow. Jooheon kisses him, tender, slow, but by the way Changkyun nips at his mouth he can tell he’s growing impatient. 

“This is what you want?” Jooheon asks again for good measure, hovering over Changkyun on his elbows.

“This is what I want.”

Jooheon guides Changkyun’s hand to his cock so he can position it at his entrance. He knocks their foreheads together, kissing Changkyun one last time before sinking the tip into him, then at least halfway.

Oh.” Changkyun’s eyes flutter closed, his lips parting slightly. “Fuck, Jooheon.”

It’s almost too much for Jooheon to watch, let alone feel. Changkyun is so tight and hot and wet around him. He can barely think straight and he hasn’t even moved yet.

“How do you feel?” Jooheon asks, trying to keep his voice steady.

“Full.”

“Uncomfortable?”

“I don’t know,” Changkyun says. He swallows. “It’s just… a lot.”

“I’m going to move now, okay?”

Changkyun nods. “Okay.”

Jooheon gradually thrusts forward. Changkyun whines, his back arching off the bed, arms around Jooheon’s neck, gripping at his shoulders, and his legs locked behind Jooheon’s thighs. A hand comes up to tug on Jooheon’s hair as Jooheon begins to work his hips, slow and steady. He watches Changkyun closely, listening to his breath quicken. His eyes close again, his head tipped back against the pillows.

“Look at me, Changkyun,” Jooheon says softly.

Changkyun lifts his head, his gaze dark and fervent. Unexpectedly, Changkyun’s hips rise ever so slightly to meet Jooheon’s next thrust. It sets off something burning hot in the bottom of Jooheon’s stomach. He groans. It feels like he’s being unraveled, thread by thread. Changkyun arches up into his touch and gasps against Jooheon’s mouth.

“It’s okay, Jooheon. You can—” Changkyun whimpers when Jooheon thrusts deeper this time, then again and again. He must change his mind about asking nicely because all he manages to say is, “more.

Jooheon snaps his hips forward a little faster, pulling Changkyun flush against him. He kisses every inch of skin he can find, tasting sweat against Changkyun’s collarbone, his jaw, his neck. Changkyun moans become more and more shameless with every thrust, skin slapping against skin. Jooheon can tell he’s close. Changkyun is clinging to him even more desperately now, digging his nails into his shoulders.

“You like marking me up?” Jooheon asks mid thrust, focusing on the bite of Changkyun’s nails against his skin. Changkyun nods helplessly against his shoulder. “Then mark me up.”

Without another word, Changkyun drags his nail across Jooheon’s shoulders, down his back and along his spine. It’s not enough to break skin or draw blood, but Jooheon can already imagine the red stripes that will cover his back. Jooheon kisses Changkyun hard.

“I’m close,” Changkyun says when the kiss breaks, trembling. 

Jooheon almost comes then, but holds on long enough to reach between them for Changkyun’s cock, mostly neglected until now. Changkyun’s hands still against his back when Jooheon pumps him in his fist.

“Are you gonna come for me?” Jooheon asks, driving his hips forward in time with the twist of his wrist. He rests his forehead against Changkyun’s again, then tilts his head to kiss him. Changkyun moans against his lips. “That’s it.”

He buries his head in Jooheon’s shoulder when he comes, a sob like whimper escaping his throat, come spurting across his stomach and Jooheon’s fingers. He clenches around Jooheon’s cock, thighs shaking, and Jooheon is coming soon after. He holds Changkyun tight as his release tears through him, curling hot in his stomach and underneath his ribs, stars appearing in front of his eyes. He can’t hold his body up any longer, so he shakily lowers himself onto Changkyun’s chest. Changkyun holds him, running the tips of his fingers up and down the scratches along his spine until Jooheon stops pulsing inside him, his groans fading out into heavy breaths.

Jooheon would stay like this if he could, plastered against Changkyun’s skin, but after a while he feels himself starting to go soft inside him and quickly pulls out. He kisses Changkyun’s neck, underneath the line of his jaw, the apex of his collarbone, then reluctantly sits up and leans over the side of the mattress to throw the condom into the waste basket.

“Jooheon?” Changkyun says weakly at the loss. He reaches for him, his hand closing tightly around his forearm.

“I’m right here, baby.”

When Jooheon returns and leans in to kiss Changkyun again, he feels tears against Changkyun’s cheeks, rolling slick and wet down the sides of his eyes and into his hair. Terror settles itself in Jooheon’s stomach.

“Fuck, Changkyun did I hurt—”

“No, no,” Changkyun says immediately. Before Jooheon can pull away he locks his arms tight around him, holding him against his chest, burying his nose in his hair. “Fuck, no. Please stay.”

Jooheon lets himself be held. Panic stirs in his gut, but he lies as still as he can, afraid that any movement might hurt him. Changkyun isn’t trembling anymore, but Jooheon listens to him sniff a few times before the tears seemingly slow.

Jooheon tries again after a few minutes pass. “Did I hurt you?” he asks, swallowing down the lump in his throat.

Changkyun shakes his head, eyes still glassy. “You didn’t hurt me. I promise.”

“Are you going to tell me what happened?”

Changkyun looks at the ceiling, ashamed maybe, or embarrassed. “I don’t know what happened,” he mumbles. “I guess I got overwhelmed.”

“But are you okay? What would—why would—why?” Jooheon stumbles over his words, talking a mile a minute. He's flustered, but more so he's worried it was something he did.

“I’ve just never felt so close to you like that before.” Changkyun laughs at himself a little, wiping at the wetness down the side of his face. “I’m sorry,” he continues. "This wasn't supposed to happen. I guess it just kind of came out.”

Jooheon’s chest feels tight. He knows sometimes this can happen, emotional release after physical release. He’s never experienced it with anyone before, let alone Changkyun. It feels almost out of character. Jooheon knows most of the time Changkyun tries to keep this sort of thing in, even with fans, even around the members. Jooheon remembers the first time he saw Changkyun cry, cooped up in that small room, cameras trained on them, forced to work together even though Jooheon wanted nothing to do with him. Jooheon might have been the first one to open up to him, but he still regrets everything about that situation. He hates thinking about how angry he was. It forced Changkyun’s guard up, and maybe only now parts of his self-made armour are falling away completely. Maybe he’s learning to let go a little more, allowing himself to feel what he feels—vulnerability and closeness—and want what he wants, even if it’s with Jooheon only.

Jooheon reaches over and brushes a damp strand of hair behind Changkyun’s ear, and then there’s that warm feeling beneath his ribs again, pressing against his heart, enveloping his entire chest.

“But you’re okay?” Jooheon asks.

“Yeah, I’m okay.”

“Good.” Jooheon sighs, relief washing over him. “You really scared me for a second.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, Changkyun,” he says. “As long as you’re okay, it’s okay.”

Jooheon shifts up the bed to kiss him, brushing his fingers through Changkyun’s sweat dampened hair. Now that he knows everything is fine, Jooheon lets himself smile into the kiss. He runs his hands up and down Changkyun’s chest, then playfully pokes him in the ribs.

“Are you gonna cry every time we have sex?” Jooheon teases once the air clears enough again for jokes. “I knew my dick was good but not that good.”

Changkyun throws his head back against the pillows, laughing.

“You wish,” he says.

Jooheon smirks. “Well, you seemed to like it a lot.”

Changkyun’s expression softens into something more serious, affectionate. “I did.”

Eventually Jooheon forces himself to his feet and grabs a towel from the bathroom, wets it with warm water, then climbs back onto the bed. He works at cleaning up Changkyun first, who’s much messier. Jooheon wipes the drying come off his stomach, between his thighs, then spreads his cheeks and wipes up what’s left of the sticky lube between them. Changkyun humphs in what’s probably discomfort.

“I’m sorry,” Jooheon says. He drops a kiss into Changkyun’s hair. “You might be sore tomorrow.”

“Whatever.” Changkyun shrugs. “It was worth it.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Jooheon quickly cleans himself off then lies back down next Changkyun, curling up against his side. “We might have to sleep in the other bed,” Jooheon says. “These sheets are wrecked.”

“I think we’ll need to leave an apology letter to the maid,” Changkyun adds, pulling Jooheon close again.

Jooheon can’t help but giggle, his laughter rumbling against Changkyun’s chest.

Before Jooheon is even fully awake the next morning, Changkyun is pushing him out of bed, tugging the blankets off his legs.

“Come on, we gotta go,” he says. He kisses Jooheon’s cheek, purposefully wet and slobbery, before turning to pack a few more things into his suitcase. “Our plane takes off at seven.”

Jooheon sits up, the sheets falling around him, and wipes his face with his sleeve. He glances towards the window. Light pours through, hazy and low between the curtains. It’s not completely daytime outside and he's still expected to get out of bed? Fuck that. With a groan, Jooheon collapses back onto the mattress, curling his knees into his chest, burying his face into the nearest pillow.

Changkyun tosses a balled up t-shirt at his head. “Get up.”

Jooheon tosses the t-shirt back, which Changkyun folds and packs back into his suitcase. “This is the repayment I get for last night?” Jooheon grumbles, rubbing sleep from his eyes and yawning.

“No, I brought you coffee.” Before Jooheon can react, Changkyun is shoving an iced Americano into his hand. “You’re welcome.”

Jooheon sits up again and peels the sheets from his legs. He takes a sip through the straw, a content sigh passing his lips. “So the truth comes to light. I’m sleeping with you for free coffee.”

Changkyun snorts, but they both know it's more than that. Eventually Changkyun abandons his packing to stand between Jooheon’s parted thighs at the edge of the mattress. He runs a hand through Jooheon’s messy hair, then kisses the top of his head. His thumb slips underneath Jooheon's t-shirt to brush one of the scratches down his back. It’s slightly pink, but compared to the yet to fade bruises on Jooheon’s thighs it’s almost invisible. Jooheon looks over his shoulder to assess the damage.

“I’m gonna have scars if we’re not careful,” he says, but he’s not really worried about it. Whatever Changkyun wants, Jooheon wants to give it to him.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be careful.”

Taking another sip from his coffee, Jooheon reaches around and cups Changkyun’s ass through his sweatpants. “Sore?” he asks apologetically.

“Not really,” Changkyun says. “Just kind of sensitive.”

“Are you going to be able to sit on a plane for two hours?”

“I’ll manage.”

“Can you walk properly?”

Changkyun rolls his eyes. “Don’t get cocky.”

“Why not? Lim Changkyun is my boyfriend,” Jooheon says with a smile. It sounds nice out loud, and it feels good to say after Changkyun said it to him yesterday. “I think my ego is allowed to inflate a little bit.”

Changkyun laughs. “You talk too much.”

“Yeah, I know.”

The problem solves itself when Changkyun kisses Jooheon, easily shutting him up.

The wheels of Jooheon’s luggage clack across the airport terminal floor as he drags it alongside him. Another car ride. Another check through airport security. Another flight. By the time they board the plane, Jooheon’s body is threatening to fall asleep on him again. Changkyun helps him get his carry-on up into the compartment above their seats. He lets Jooheon have the window seat, then sits beside him.

They’ve only been in China for four days, but he’ll miss being with Changkyun so intimately. Going back home means going back to his own individual schedules, weekly variety recordings, writing lyrics for his mixtape, working in the studio with Dongrim hyung, not to mention the group’s comeback preparations. Jooheon likes working, he likes being busy, but it was nice to be so close to Changkyun over these past few days.

“Tired?” Changkyun asks, turning to look at him.

Jooheon nods. “A little bit. You?”

“I’m okay.”

Changkyun pulls off his hoodie and lays it overtop of his lap. Jooheon takes it as an opportunity to sneak his hand underneath it and grip Changkyun’s thigh. Changkyun has the same idea and meets him there, squeezing his hand and folding their fingers together until a stewardess comes to check their seatbelts.

Jooheon lets his head fall against the headrest, feeling himself begin to drift off. After takeoff, Changkyun takes out his iPod. He untangles his earphones, sticks one into Jooheon’s ear and the other in his own. Connected to Changkyun by a pair of earphones like always, an acoustic love song playing between them, Jooheon falls asleep.

The first thing Jooheon does when they get back to the dorm is toss his backpack onto the mattress of his bunk. The second thing he does is toss himself beside it, face down into his pillow, feet hanging off the bed. Minhyuk comes in after him. He throws his bag down and says something about showering before walking back out. Jooheon watches Minhyuk pass by Changkyun as he leaves, patting Changkyun on the butt. The door creaks open when Changkyun shuffles into the bedroom with his luggage, and so does Jooheon’s bunk when he sits down beside him. He sighs and drapes himself overtop of Jooheon’s back, resting his chin on his shoulder.

Jooheon groans at the sudden weight squishing him against the mattress. The bunk is too small for the both of them, but most nights that doesn't stop Changkyun from slipping under the covers beside Jooheon. Waking up cramped against him or knocking an elbow against the wall while he’s sleeping is a small sacrifice for Jooheon to make in order to be near him.

Changkyun finally rolls off Jooheon and lies on his side, back pressed to the wall behind the bunk. Jooheon props himself up on his elbows and looks at him. They’re back to where they started half a week ago, but things have changed. Jooheon feels closer to Changkyun in more ways than one. He thinks he knows him better now, trust and understanding between them that wasn’t there before. Jooheon loves Changkyun in a lot of ways, in every way, but now he knows in which way he loves him the most.

Jooheon turns over, lying back against the pillows, resting his arm behind his head. Changkyun sits up to straddle his hips, keeping his head low so he doesn’t hit it against the top beam of the bunk.

“Thank you, hyung,” Changkyun says as he sits himself in Jooheon’s lap.

“What for?” Jooheon asks, raising his eyebrows.

“What, do you need a list?”

Just to tease him, Jooheon nods.

“Okay.” Changkyun bites the inside of his lip. “Thank you for—”

“Hold on, let me write this down. I need a pen.” Jooheon sits up, pretending he’s actually about to grab one, but Changkyun pins him back down against the mattress again, laughing. “Okay, sorry, go ahead.”

“I guess, um, thanks for taking care of me?” Changkyun begins, the laughter fading from his face into something more sincere, slightly nervous but not hesitant anymore. “And for encouraging me, listening to me, making me laugh, making feel good about myself, making me feel good in general, and… do I have to go on?”

“No, that’s enough,” Jooheon says.

If he hears any more his heart might actually implode.

Jooheon thinks about saying ‘you’re welcome’ but it doesn’t convey how he really feels about any of this. It’s too flat, meaningless. Instead, Jooheon tugs Changkyun down and presses their foreheads together. He feels too much affection for him he can’t properly put it into words. Jooheon hears a rumble through the wall as someone, probably Minhyuk, turns the shower on.

“How long do you think Minhyuk will be in there for?” Changkyun asks. He looks down at Jooheon and shifts his hips forward ever so slightly in Jooheon’s lap.

Jooheon smiles, his hands riding up Changkyun’s t-shirt, his skin hot and flush, and Changkyun bends over to kiss him.

Sweet and easy.