“Can I borrow a pen?”
Seungcheol blinks as he pauses in his note-taking and looks up toward the whispered voice to find a very beautiful boy sitting to his left, biting his lip nervously as he looks at Seungcheol.
“Sorry, what?” Seungcheol whispers back. He heard him, but he’d like to watch the boy talk.
“I lost my pen,” he says, tucking a strand of hair behind his ear. “Can I borrow one?”
“Yeah,” Seungcheol mutters automatically, reaching in his backpack to procure one. His zipper sounds loud in the lecture hall, but the professor of the literature class drones on, seeming unbothered.
“Thanks,” the boy says with a little smile, and that’s pretty, too.
Seungcheol has been putting off this literature requirement for three years, enriched education be damned, and now in the summer before his last year of university, he’s finally gotten around to it. But it’s a big lecture, and it’s populated mostly by underclassmen, and he blames those factors for the fact that he hasn’t taken a moment in the two weeks of class to look around much at his classmates. If he had given even a cursory glance around the big hall, he’s sure he would have seen this boy’s face before.
He blinks as the boy looks back toward the front of the lecture hall, at their professor, who’s delivering a long monologue about symbolism in the book that Seungcheol keeps forgetting to read. He should almost certainly also be paying attention, but he’s distracted, looking from the boy’s long ponytail to his soft-looking t-shirt to the lavender backpack sitting at his feet. He has trouble paying attention for the last half-hour of class, his notes sadly abandoned, until the boy starts packing away his things and turns back to Seungcheol.
“Thanks,” he says with his same grin, almost a smirk. “I appreciate it.” He holds the pen back out to Seungcheol, who takes it with a nod, feeling dumb.
“You’re not a first-year,” the boy says, more of a statement than a question. “I’ve seen you at bars.”
“You have?” Seungcheol asks. Where the hell has he been looking instead of at this boy? Surely nothing else was as important as this.
“Just once, actually. You’re a bartender, right? At that place with the mismatched bar stools.”
Seungcheol nods again. He’s a very eloquent and mature person, he thinks, but it’s all seemingly gone to shit as he sits awestruck at his desk, feeling like he’s sixteen years old.
“The last time I was there I got too drunk and now I can’t drink blueberry soju anymore,” the boy sighs. He tucks his piece of hair behind his ear again, apparently a habit.
“No one should be drinking it in the first place,” Seungcheol says, making a face. The boy laughs, bright and surprised.
“I’m Jeonghan,” he says, holding a hand out, and they shake hands. Like real-live adults, which they are, in this room surrounded by eighteen-year-olds.
“Seungcheol,” he blurts out after a moment, realizing his timing’s off. “I’m Seungcheol.”
Jeonghan just smirks at him again, looking pleased at how flustered Seungcheol must obviously come off (because he is), before he slings his backpack over a shoulder and raises his hand in a little wave. “Good meeting you, Seungcheol. Thanks for the pen.”
He walks out of the room, looking back over his shoulder once to give Seungcheol another look at his cheshire grin, before meeting another boy at the door and walking off.
Seungcheol swears he can hear his heart hit the ground.
Jihoon just continues giving him a deadpan stare, sipping at his bottle of water. “It doesn’t sound serious.”
“It’s very serious.”
Jihoon stares at him. “You saw a pretty boy.” He stops speaking then, gesturing his hands as if to signal the end of the story with a grand fanfare.
“The way you tell it, it doesn’t sound very serious, but he was very pretty,” Seungcheol says with a sigh.
“Seungcheol,” Jihoon says, raising an eyebrow and lowering his chin to his hand, elbow propped on the table in front of him. “You just broke up with Nayoung two months ago, and you’ve already come to me in crisis about a beautiful person you met like four times.”
Seungcheol sighs again, rubbing his face with his hands. His last relationship ended, as most of his relationships do, on mutual, friendly terms. Nayoung was a nice girl, pretty and funny, but after a few months they didn’t click as well, and they both moved on without any animosity. His friends will never admit it, but they hate him, he can tell; the last time Wonwoo broke up with someone, he spent like four hours holding the guy while he cried. He and Nayoung just got brunch and kissed one last time, smiling outside the restaurant as they said goodbye. Actually, he can think of like five relationships he’s had that have ended over a friendly brunch.
“I don’t know how you have the energy for this, honestly,” Jihoon says with a sarcastic grin, but he looks a little sympathetic. “Seems like it would take a lot out of you, falling in love with everyone you see.”
“I don’t fall in love with them,” Seungcheol says with an eye-roll. He takes a bite of his lunch and lets them both sit in the quiet, knowing it’ll irritate Jihoon.
Jihoon gives in, sighing a little before asking, “What’s his name?”
Seungcheol sits up straighter with a grin. “Jeonghan.”
“Oh,” Jihoon says, blinking. “You’re right, he’s very pretty.”
“You know him?” Seungcheol asks through a mouthful of his lunch, surprised.
Jihoon narrows his eyes. “I know people.” He doesn’t elaborate, taking another sip from his water bottle and a bite of his food. Jerk.
He must be able to feel Seungcheol’s antsiness, because he rolls his eyes and explains. “I don’t actually know him, but he’s friends with a guy in one of my classes, and everyone else in the class is always saying his name like they all know him.” He takes another sip of his water before giving Seungcheol a considering look. “Anyway, he comes by after class sometimes, and you’re right. He’s very pretty.”
Seungcheol groans. “How am I supposed to deal with this?”
Jihoon sighs, long-suffering. “The same way you always deal with it. You’ll ask for his number, he’ll fall in love with you because you’re under some insane witch’s spell where every time you speak to someone you end up in a committed relationship, and then in six months you’ll break up but stay best friends.”
Seungcheol pouts, but doesn’t argue. “One of them will stick, one day.”
“I have no doubt,” Jihoon says with a small grin up at him. “You’re husband material.”
“You offering?” Seungcheol asks with a snort, and it makes Jihoon grimace, looking disgusted.
Seungcheol just laughs in response, and vows to sit next to Jeonghan again the next time he’s in his literature class.
He has no explanation for it. Every Tuesday and Thursday he sits next to Jeonghan in class, and they share a few words between them before and afterward. Seungcheol has recovered from his nerves at the sight of Jeonghan’s face, has reminded himself that he is an attractive and desirable adult (or at least has always proven to be, if his track record is anything to go by), and he’s been flirting admirably, he thinks. Nothing too crazy, just casual compliments and his one smile that he knows usually works pretty well. Jeonghan flirts back, too, or at least Seungcheol thinks he does; he always brushes his hair off his shoulder when he laughs in a way that looks practiced, and he’s always smirking over at Seungcheol in a way that makes his mouth go dry. The thing is, that’s where it’s ended. Jeonghan laughs at his jokes and smiles at him prettily and then class ends, and he meets his friend at the door and walks off. No numbers exchanged. No offers to study together. Nothing.
If he’s being honest, it’s a little baffling for him. Not that he’s arrogant — he’s certainly had crushes that haven’t panned out for him, had people reject him outright. But the signals Jeonghan’s throwing him are so mixed that he feels off-balance over it all.
“Seungcheol,” Jeonghan mutters next to him, eyes fixed ahead at the professor.
“Hm?” Seungcheol asks, pulled out of writing in his notebook. That’s the other thing: his crush on Jeonghan has really been interrupting his diligent note-taking.
“I fucking hate this book,” Jeonghan says quietly. He’s still facing front, a poker face on, but Seungcheol isn’t so skilled, and he coughs out a surprised laugh, attracting attention from the people a row ahead of him.
He masks it as a real cough, and as it peters out they turn away. Jeonghan looks pleased with himself though, an eyebrow raised and the corners of his lips upturned slightly.
“Have you started the essay yet?” Seungcheol asks under his breath, head tucked to the side and turned away from the professor. It’s rude maybe, and the kids in front of them turn around to glare for a moment, but Seungcheol’s finding it hard to care much.
Jeonghan almost laughs at that, but he keeps himself composed. “God, no,” he mutters, flashing Seungcheol a quick grin.
Seungcheol sees an opportunity, and he decides almost immediately to take it. “D’you wanna work on it together?” He asks, feeling ambitious.
Jeonghan looks at him like he’s considering the offer, but when he opens his mouth to speak, their professor clears his throat and sends them a pointed glance. Seungcheol turns back to his notebook, embarrassed, and Jeonghan doesn’t say anything else til the end of class.
“So,” he says, sliding his laptop into his same lavender backpack, the one Seungcheol finds endearing. “A study date?”
Seungcheol feels nervous despite himself. He’s an adult, he reminds himself, but it doesn’t help much. “Yeah. If you wanted.”
Jeonghan looks at him again, half a smirk on his lips. “Emphasis on study or date?”
Seungcheol finds it in himself to grin back, hoping he looks more confident than he feels. “Whichever you prefer.”
“Emphasis on study, for now,” Jeonghan says. He pushes his long hair back (no ponytail today) over his shoulder and tugs on his backpack smoothly (Seungcheol feels like everything Jeonghan does is smooth, maybe) before standing up next to his desk.
“For now,” Seungcheol repeats back, feeling pleased.
Jeonghan raises an eyebrow, looking amused, before he holds his phone out in Seungcheol’s direction. “Give me your number.”
It’s not a question, which is convenient since Seungcheol has no interest in not complying, and he feels just a little giddy as he saves his number in Jeonghan’s contacts.
“I’ll message you,” Jeonghan says as he readjusts his backpack and walks to meet the same guy he always meets at the entrance of the lecture hall. Seungcheol doesn’t know him, but he looks vaguely familiar, and also (Seungcheol finds it hard not to notice) kind of ethereally cute. At least from the distance Seungcheol always sees him at. “I promise,” Jeonghan finishes, pulling Seungcheol’s attention away from the figure in the doorway.
“Well, if you promise,” Seungcheol says with an easy grin that Jeonghan returns before walking out of the lecture hall. Seungcheol fights the urge to pump his fist in the air.
But he shoves his embarrassing train of thought to the side when Jeonghan catches sight of him sitting in the booth in the corner, and instead grins over at him. He’s cool. He’s collected. He’s a normal, functioning human who is not flustered over a boy’s cheekbones.
“I have had,” Jeonghan starts, sliding his backpack off his shoulders and letting it drop loudly onto the table, “such a day.”
“Oh?” Seungcheol asks, already interested in this much more candid version of Jeonghan. He seems less composed than usual, and it’s new and strange and intriguing.
“Just wanted to give an explanation for why I look like shit,” Jeonghan says with a sigh, like he’s disappointed himself. “And a heads-up that I’m kind of cranky.”
“You don’t look like shit,” Seungcheol says immediately, like a knee-jerk reaction. Jeonghan looks up from where he’s pulling his computer out of his bag.
“You have low standards, Seungcheol,” he says, but he’s grinning a little bit. Not quite embarrassed (Seungcheol wonders what it would take to get Jeonghan embarrassed) or flattered, but definitely tinged with something.
Seungcheol just grins back. “I have to disagree there.”
“I’m catsitting,” Jeonghan says as he sits down. It seems like a non-sequitur until Seungcheol remembers they were, in fact, talking about something besides how good Jeonghan always looks.
“Ah,” Seungcheol says with a nod.
“I hate cats,” Jeonghan continues darkly. “But my roommate’s a lot nicer than me.”
Seungcheol laughs, taking in how deeply and truly annoyed Jeonghan looks at even the thought. “That’s probably a good thing, right?”
“Oh, it’s great until my coworker’s stupid cat who I didn’t even want to watch in the first place throws up all over my clothes as soon as I get home from work,” Jeonghan deadpans. His expression is covered in the kind of reserved anger and exhaustion that Seungcheol associates with parents of crying children on airplanes.
“That’s rough,” Seungcheol chuckles. “That’s really rough.”
“It is. It’s really rough,” Jeonghan says with another sigh. “So, anyway. Sorry in advance for my bad attitude. I can’t wait to start brainstorming for this essay on a book I didn’t read.”
Seungcheol just grins at him, despite how much Jeonghan’s trying to convince him that he’s not in a mood to be grinned at, but then he opens his notebook properly and sighs in agreement. “I hate this class.”
“I hate stupid requirements that have nothing to do with me,” Jeonghan intones, rolling his eyes.
Seungcheol sighs. “Tell me about it. I’m a math major.”
Jeonghan wrinkles his nose. “That sounds terrible.”
“I get that a lot,” Seungcheol nods.
“I’m a psych major, so,” Jeonghan shrugs and Seungcheol wrinkles his nose back. “Yeah. Exactly.”
“Can you believe people major in literature? Like they just do this, for fun. They read a million books and then like, analyze them and shit,” Seungcheol says in a somewhat disgusted voice.
“Don’t think you’re in a position to pass judgment on majors,” Jeonghan says to him with his first smile of the afternoon.
“You’re one to talk, Freud,” Seungcheol shoots back.
Jeonghan just fixes him with an unimpressed glare. “Don’t insult me.”
Jeonghan is easy to talk to. Seungcheol knew this, kind of, from their conversations in class, but he becomes very familiar with the fact during their study date (emphasis on study.) He’s outgoing and funny in a biting, sarcastic way and every time he mentions some small detail about his life in passing Seungcheol wants to know everything about it.
They do actually get some work done, both of them unpracticed in writing essays on literature (“It’s been since high school,” Jeonghan whined petulantly very early on) and pooling their efforts as they searched for things online while trying to stay away from plagiarism. But after a couple hours their conversation seemed more important than their computers in front of them.
“Where do you work?” Seungcheol asks, remembering Jeonghan mentioning a job earlier.
“At the risk of sounding like a stereotype, I’m a barista at that coffee place on campus,” Jeonghan says, looking displeased with the answer.
“The really divey one or the really trendy one?” Seungcheol asks with a laugh.
“Guess,” Jeonghan says, pointing to himself like it should be obvious, and Seungcheol laughs again.
“Well, if I had known, I wouldn’t have said we should meet up here,” Seungcheol says, gesturing to the coffee shop around them. It’s a few neighborhoods over from the one Jeonghan works at, the one Seungcheol’s rarely set foot in because everything is a little too expensive and pretentious for his taste.
“It’s true, I’m not overly fond of the smell of coffee,” Jeonghan says with a grin. “It’s fine, though. I fucking hate my job. It’s thrilling to give money to the competition.”
“Why do you work there, then?” Seungcheol asks. He maybe should stop asking so many questions but unfortunately, he wants to know all the answers.
“Roommate’s fault again. He got me the job. I like working with him,” Jeonghan shrugs. He smiles again though, making his words ring truer.
“What’s the dumbest order you’ve ever gotten?”
“Oh, easily the time someone asked me to put a heart on the top of their drink so they could take a picture of it. It doesn’t sound bad, but it had whipped cream on top, and they wanted me to use the cocoa powder instead of the chocolate syrup.” Jeonghan looks annoyed just talking about it. “What about you? Drunk people have gotta be worse.”
“They’re a little less high-maintenance but a lot more stupid,” Seungcheol nods. “Everyone always loves ordering the drinks with sex names, they always do it like it’s the funniest joke on earth.”
“Oh, god,” Jeonghan says sympathetically.
“Yeah. The novelty kind of wears off around your tenth screaming orgasm, and then it’s just annoying.” Seungcheol says with a shrug.
“I have to disagree there,” Jeonghan says with a smirk.
“You’re better than that joke,” Seungcheol says with a snort.
Jeonghan just kept smirking. “How do you know? Maybe I’ve been one of those people. Maybe I’ve ordered a sex on the beach and laughed about it to the bartender.”
“You don’t even know me, Seungcheol. Maybe I’m the kind of person who would order — what’s another one, I can’t think of one,” Jeonghan prompts him.
“A blowjob,” Seungcheol offers immediately.
“Maybe I’m the kind of person who would order a blowjob, in public and everything,” Jeonghan finishes in a warning sort of tone. “Maybe I would do it just so the bartender had to say it out loud, and then I would laugh with all my friends.”
“I don’t believe you’re that kind of person, but if you are, I want you to know that I hate you,” Seungcheol says, straight-faced, and it makes Jeonghan laugh loudly.
“Nah, I only order vodka sodas,” Jeonghan informs him once he’s done laughing, loud and staccato.
“What about your blueberry soju incident?” Seungcheol asks with a smirk.
Jeonghan shrugs. “It was my birthday.”
Seungcheol gives an understanding nod.
“What’s your coffee order? I have opinions on coffee orders,” Jeonghan asks, sitting forward in his seat to lean further over the table toward Seungcheol.
“Boo, boring. Such a future salary worker,” Jeonghan teases.
“I seriously hope my coffee order comes up in a job interview one day so I can impress them all, then.”
Jeonghan boos him again.
They don’t make any more progress on their essays that afternoon.
Despite all that, he kept asking, because maybe he was content to just hang out with Jeonghan, even if none of them were dates, or even anything resembling dates.
“You’re fucked,” Jihoon tells him simply, sitting at the bar with Junhui early-ish on a Friday night in July.
“I’m not fucked,” Seungcheol says back, rolling his eyes.
“You’re massively fucked,” Juinhui says with a snort. “You’re in love with him.”
“I am not in love with him,” Seungcheol grumbles. He rolls his eyes again.
“It sure seems like you’re in love with him,” Jihoon agrees.
“What do you know, anyway?” Seungcheol asks. It would be mean if they didn’t know each other as well as they do, but they do, so Jihoon just shrugs.
“Maybe you can pull that card with Jihoon, but not with me. I know everything,” Junhui says with a smirk.
“You don’t know everything,” Jihoon quickly said with a snort, “But you are definitely super gross and gay.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Junhui says, raising an eyebrow and sipping his drink.
“It’s not one.”
“This isn’t about me,” Junhui snaps, and Jihoon snickers at getting a rise out of him.
“Where is Minghao, anyway?” Seungcheol asks.
“We’re not always together,” Junhui says, rolling his eyes.
“He’s in your apartment, though, right?” Jihoon asks innocently.
“I — his washing machine’s broken so he has to do his laundry in mine,” Junhui defends himself.
“Sounds super gross and gay,” Jihoon says with a nod.
“Your life is sad,” Junhui tells him with narrowed eyes. Jihoon just snickers again.
“Guys,” Seungcheol says, leaning on the bartop in front of him. The bar’s mostly empty this early, which is why he can afford to be discussing his (nonexistent) love life at work. “What am I supposed to do?”
“Just ask him out, idiot,” Jihoon says, giving him a look.
“I’m older than you,” Seungcheol reminds him.
“Just ask him out, hyung,” Jihoon repeats with an exaggerated eye-roll.
Seungcheol pouts at the answer. Junhui sips at his drink before giving him a confused look. “No offense, but don’t you usually live for this shit?”
“What shit?” Seungcheol asks, furrowing his eyebrows.
Junhui gestures at him vaguely. “Courtship. Your whole white knight thing.”
“I don’t have a white knight thing,” Seungcheol says defensively. “Just because I’m a nice person —”
“Wow, Jun’s right. You totally have a white knight thing,” Jihoon says with an impressed nod. “If you were alive like fifty years ago you’d really be in your element.”
“Besides the bisexuality,” Junhui reminds him.
Jihoon shrugs. “Well, yeah, besides the bisexuality.”
“I hate you guys,” Seungcheol complains.
“Jun’s right, though,” Jihoon says. Seungcheol groans. “No, not about that, about the fact that you usually like this.”
They’re right. Seungcheol likes dating people, and he likes the part that happens before they date as well. It’s fun, dancing around someone else, trying to make them laugh, flirting. This, though, feels different than that.
“He makes me nervous,” Seungcheol says quietly.
“That’s why you’re fucked,” Jihoon reminds him.
Seungcheol sighs, frustrated. “Alright, yeah, fine, I’m fucked. I’m not in love with him, but I’m fucked. I’m scared to ask him out because it’s been over a month and he...I don’t know, I feel like he doesn’t want me to ask him out.”
“You’re being a baby, Seungcheol-ah,” Jihoon tells him, but it’s without any heat, and maybe even a little sympathy. Seungcheol glares at him.
“Seungcheol-hyung,” Jihoon corrects with a smirk.
Junhui hums in thought. “The term ends in two weeks. So I mean, really, you don’t have to see each other ever again after that, right?”
“Right,” Seungcheol agrees, a little sad at the idea.
“So go for broke. Just do it. If he rejects you, then you have an awkward couple weeks and then you’ll both forget and you’ll probably, I don’t know, casually find some supermodel to date in the meantime and then when you see him again you can be all mature and shit and just be friends,” Jun says with a shrug. “If you wanted, I mean.”
“He’s not wrong,” Jihoon agrees.
“No,” Seungcheol says with a sigh. “He’s not wrong.”
The prospect makes him uncharacteristically antsy, but Junhui really isn’t wrong. It’s a good plan, maybe.
It’s the last thing that’s said on the subject before Seokmin and Soonyoung walk in the front doors of the bar, Seokmin laughing loudly at something Soonyoung is gesticulating, and Jihoon turns to listen to their conversation instead. Junhui gives him a meaningful look and a nod, grinning a little more softly, and Seungcheol nods back, maybe feeling thankful for the advice.
It’s a Saturday and Seungcheol thought, in all of his genius, that it would be a super cool, considerate lead-in to this whole asking Jeonghan out thing if he went and visited him at work. Just like super cool, considerate people do — people you would date.
It’s maybe the second time he’s been in the cafe since it opened a couple years ago, and it looks the same. The walls are still pristine white with fake polaroids and string lights all over them, like the dorm room of the kind of girl Seungcheol is intimidated by. There’s little decorative espresso cups everywhere, which seems impractical. More importantly, Seungcheol notices as he scans around the relatively small cafe, Jeonghan is not in sight.
Seungcheol kicks himself. He could have sworn Jeonghan always complains about how he’s scheduled every Saturday morning. But he’s nowhere to be seen; the only people wearing the cafe’s nondescript black aprons are a tall, pretty girl with long brown hair and — oh.
“Hi,” the boy in front of him says with a little smile. Seungcheol has found himself in front of the counter by accident, and the boy behind the register is Jeonghan’s friend, the one who always meets him after class. The cute one, Seungcheol thinks a little blankly as he spends too long staring at the boy’s face.
“Can I help you?” He prompts Seungcheol again, looking amused.
“Um,” Seungcheol mutters weakly, coming back to reality. “Sorry. Yeah, um. Just a small coffee, thanks.”
He figures it’d be rude to stand in front of the register staring and then not order anything, right? And he doesn’t like being rude, especially to boys who look like that. Damn.
He hands over money hastily, a little awkwardly, and the boy behind the register smiles at him again. “You’re Jeonghan’s friend.”
“What?” Seungcheol asks, surprised. Eloquent. Really great, Seungcheol.
“Sorry, was that weird?” The boy asks with a laugh. “I’m his roommate. I recognized you.”
“Oh,” Seungcheol says, pieces fitting together. The roommate Jeonghan works with, the one he talks about all the time. It’s good to put a face to the...title, anyway, since he still doesn’t know the boy’s name. And good to know that it’s the same face he’s been seeing all semester, just outside the door of his literature lecture hall. “Yeah. We’re...friends.”
The boy raises an amused eyebrow at the pause, but brushes past it and introduces himself instead with a quick, “I’m Jisoo.”
There’s someone behind him in line now, so Seungcheol takes his change and nods before moving down to the end of the bar, where the tall girl is handing him his coffee. He feels slightly disoriented by the whole experience, like a small rug got pulled out from under him. There’s no one waiting in line anymore, so Seungcheol decides to walk back over, feeling a little awkward.
“Sorry, uh, I’m guessing Jeonghan’s not working,” he says, and Jisoo smiles at him.
“No, he made me take his shift,” Jisoo says, looking gently annoyed but mostly a little fond. “I can pass on a message, though.”
“No, no, that’s okay,” Seungcheol says awkwardly, coughing into his hand. “I can just talk to him in class.”
“Sure,” Jisoo nods, and it’s off-putting how knowing he looks, like he can see through Seungcheol. Maybe he can — he looks vaguely magical; his eyes basically sparkle and his whole face looks a little ethereal. Or maybe he’s just not an idiot, since Seungcheol’s never been known for his subtlety. “It was good meeting you.”
“Yeah, you too,” Seungcheol says, and he means it.
So Seungcheol’s plan has gone off-course. For one, Jeonghan wasn’t even there, and for two, he finds himself thinking about the way Jisoo smiled at him for a solid hour after it happens.
For a moment, on his warm walk home, he contemplates asking his friends for advice again. But he would never hear the end of this, and anyway, he’s an adult, right? He’s a mature adult who can handle his own romantic life, even if it’s become...confusing. He sips at his coffee and notices for the first time that there’s a smiley face drawn next to his name on the side.
He groans quietly to himself. Where do these boys keep coming from and why do they want to hurt him? The plan, he decides, is postponed until further notice.
++ ++ ++
He knows the apology isn’t aimed at him, just at the door itself and the world in general, because it’s Jisoo, and Jisoo is always apologizing to the world in general.
He turns over in bed and finds himself face-to-face with the cat. He groans, annoyed, but reaches out to pet it anyway. Stupid cat. It wasn’t supposed to live here permanently, but then Sojung was begging them to just keep it a little longer, please.
And Jisoo has always been nicer than Jeonghan.
“I brought you tea,” Jisoo says, sticking his head into the bedroom. Case in point. He shoved Jisoo into taking his morning shift because he was hungover, and Jisoo still brought him tea afterward.
Jeonghan sighs happily, feeling a little warm and fuzzy over it. “You’re so nice.”
“I’m the nicest,” Jisoo calls back from the kitchen with a smile. Jeonghan can’t see him but he knows he’s smiling. “You don’t deserve me.”
“Alright, calm down,” Jeonghan calls back, rolling back over onto his stomach. Jisoo trails in a moment later, a branded cup from the cafe in his hand, and he puts it down on the nightstand closest to Jeonghan before sitting down on the bed next to him.
“It’s two in the afternoon,” Jisoo says mildly.
“That’s nice,” Jeonghan says, burying his head further in his pillow.
Jisoo reaches out and tugs at a strand of his hair, making him whine. “I take it back, you’re not nice.”
Jisoo laughs softly, leaning down and shoving Jeonghan’s shoulder so he rolls onto his back before pressing a soft kiss to his lips. It’s gentle, casual, like most things with Jisoo. “I’m the nicest.”
“Mm,” Jeonghan murmurs, not finding it in himself to disagree, leaning up and wrapping his arms around Jisoo’s narrow shoulders to pull him down onto the bed.
Jisoo just laughs softly again, pulling back after another few kisses and looking down at him with a grin. “Your breath is bad.”
“You smell like burnt coffee,” Jeonghan shoots back, but he sits up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and walking toward the bathroom.
“You had a visitor today,” Jisoo says over his shoulder as he unbuttons his uniform-standard white button-up and tosses it into their laundry hamper.
“Hm?” Jeonghan manages with his toothbrush in his mouth.
Jisoo sticks his head out of the bedroom door to smirk at him. “Your boy.”
Jeonghan spits toothpaste into the sink. “I don’t have a boy.”
“He looked like a lost puppy,” Jisoo says teasingly.
“He’s so cute,” Jeonghan sighs after he finishes brushing his teeth, walking back into the bedroom to flop down onto the bed and pick up the tea Jisoo brought him, finally taking a sip. “Why was he there?”
“He was looking for you,” Jisoo says with a shrug, pulling on a ratty old UCLA sweatshirt over his pants that Jeonghan maintains are basically leggings (Jisoo insists that they’re not and also insists on wearing them all the time around the house because they’re comfortable) and sitting down next to the cat, petting it between its ears.
Jeonghan quirked an eyebrow, considering. “Hm.”
“You’re gonna kill him,” Jisoo says in a warning voice, like Seungcheol’s death is a real concern.
“Please,” Jeonghan rolls his eyes. “I’m just trying to...I don’t know.”
“You’re waiting for the right time,” Jisoo reminds him helpfully, glancing upward with a smirk at Jeonghan.
Jeonghan nods. “Yes. That.”
It’s the truth, it really is. He likes Seungcheol but he’s slightly concerned that as an opening line, “I have a boyfriend, but don’t worry, it’s fine,” would be a little scary. They’re a little past opening lines now, a little more like friends, but still. Still.
“He’s so cute though, right?” Jeonghan repeats, wanting to hear Jisoo say it.
“He’s cute,” Jisoo tells him with a grin.
“He’d like you,” Jeonghan says, smiling at the thought.
The cat scampers off the bed, apparently tired of Jisoo paying attention to it, and Jisoo scoots closer to Jeonghan instead. “Maybe I’d like him too.”
“That’d be nice,” Jeonghan says with a content little hum. Jisoo scoots toward him and runs his fingers lightly over a bruise on his shin that he got a few days earlier.
They’re quiet for a minute, Jeonghan sipping on his tea and Jisoo scrolling through his phone, laughing occasionally. “How was work?” Jeonghan asks when he finishes, shifting so that his head is in Jisoo’s lap.
“Your shifts are always dead,” Jisoo tells him, hand finding Jeonghan’s hair automatically.
“Saturday opens are the worst,” Jeonghan agrees, his nose scrunched.
“You get to take my Sunday close, so have fun with that one,” Jisoo snorts, tugging on a lock of Jeonghan’s hair again just to annoy him.
“Ugh,” Jeonghan mutters, reaching up to flick Jisoo’s arm.
Jisoo just laughs at him again. “Your own fault. I told you you were gonna be hungover. How are you feeling, by the way?”
Jeonghan considers. “Decent. Hungry.” He looks up at Jisoo with sweet eyes, and Jisoo sighs.
“You’re so spoiled,” he says, but he can’t even pretend to be mad.
“You’re weak,” Jeonghan counters with a grin.
Jisoo doesn’t argue, but rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “Come help me make lunch. Least you can do, lazy.”
“So mean, Jisoo-yah,” Jeonghan says through a laugh, but he follows Jisoo into the kitchen, slipping a hand into Jisoo’s back pocket as they walk (and it’s a short walk, only one room over, but it’s worth it.)
Their professor is chronically late, so they have time to share greetings, generic questions about each other’s weekends.
Jeonghan knows an in when he sees one, so he smirks and says, “I heard you came to see me at work on Saturday.”
Seungcheol blushes, and it’s frustratingly adorable. His eyes go big and surprised, his cheeks pink, and he stutters, “Oh, I mean, I was just nearby, so.”
“Ah, is that all?” Jeonghan asks. He thinks about Jisoo telling him that he’ll kill Seungcheol, telling him that he’s so mean to boys he likes, but he can’t help it. Flirting like this, the way he knows will ruffle Seungcheol’s feathers, is fun for him. (Okay, so maybe he could help it, but he doesn’t want to, and that’s what’s important.)
Seungcheol looks like he might say something else, but their professor walks in, and Jeonghan opens his laptop instead of looking at Seungcheol. The summer term has been easier with Seungcheol to do homework with, but he still hates analyzing literature, and he’s even growing to resent reading novels, period, with the number of them he’s had to read in the past couple months. There’s only four classes left, but there’s a final essay, and he’s sad to be forced to think about it as he sits in class.
He thinks more about Jisoo’s accusation that he’s mean, and decides that maybe he owes Seungcheol for always forcing him to be the one to make a move. At the end of class, as he slips his laptop back into his backpack, he turns to Seungcheol and asks, “Do you wanna meet up next week to work on the last paper?”
Seungcheol looks a little bit like someone just gave him a gift, and Jeonghan restrains himself from laughing. It’s cute, how expressive Seungcheol is. “Yeah,” he says with a big smile (also cute), “that’d be cool.”
He catches sight of Jisoo waiting outside, looking through a notebook as he sits on the bench outside the classroom, and Jeonghan glances between him and Seungcheol, brain latching onto an idea. “Hey,” he starts innocently, brushing his hair back behind his ear.
“Yeah?” Seungcheol asks, looking up from where he’s reorganizing his pens before he puts them in his backpack.
“I’m actually about to go to lunch with my roommate, I think you met him on Saturday.” At this, Seungcheol blushes again, which is interesting. Jeonghan likes his idea even more. “Do you wanna come?”
“Oh,” Seungcheol says, looking...Jeonghan’s not sure what Seungcheol looks like. A little intimidated, maybe. “Um.”
“You don’t have to say yes,” Jeonghan comments, smiling in a way he hopes is reassuring.
“No, I want to. Yeah. I want to,” Seungcheol nods, sounding decisive.
Jeonghan keeps smiling at him. “Great.”
It is great. He personally feels very proud of himself for thinking of such a genius idea as he leads Seungcheol out to where Jisoo always waits for him during the 20 minutes between the end of their Tuesday and Thursday morning classes. Jisoo looks up from his notebook and smiles at Jeonghan before his eye catches the light grip Jeonghan has on Seungcheol’s arm, and then he looks vaguely amused.
“Well, hello,” he says politely, aiming an exasperated smirk at Jeonghan before looking at Seungcheol.
“Hi,” Seungcheol says, clearing his throat. “Hey.”
Jeonghan suppresses a laugh at that, how flustered Seungcheol sounds, and decides that he is the smartest person alive for this.
“Funny seeing you here,” Jisoo says with a smile, the kind that looks sweet but Jeonghan knows has an agenda.
“I invited him to lunch,” Jeonghan explains as Jisoo stands up, tucking his things back into his backpack.
Jisoo raises an eyebrow but smiles again. His fingers brush past Jeonghan’s for a moment before he says, “More the merrier.”
Jeonghan snorts, following behind Jisoo, and Seungcheol walks in step with them easily, making small talk with Jisoo and still sounding flustered.
Jeonghan thinks errantly that Seungcheol looks nice next to Jisoo, both of them near the same height but Seungcheol more broad and thick the places Jisoo is slim and narrow. And maybe Jeonghan is imagining it, but he swears he sees Seungcheol blush when his hand brushes against Jisoo’s on the table as they sit at lunch.
“What?” Jeonghan asks petulantly. He’s half-heartedly cleaning up their living room, mostly just shoving things over and making the clutter look more organized than it is.
Jisoo keeps looking at him. “You’re pushing it, don’t you think?”
“What exactly,” Jeonghan asks, blowing hair out of his face and leaning so that his hand is on his hip, “am I pushing?”
“It,” Jisoo repeats with a shrug. But he walks over and helps Jeonghan, dusting off their couch cushions and cleaning the cat’s litter box before Seungcheol gets there.
“I know you’re not lying to him,” Jisoo mutters, sitting down on the couch after he’s contributed enough to the cleaning effort, “but don’t you think you’re being a little…” He doesn’t finish the thought, making a face at Jeonghan instead.
Jeonghan sighs and leans his head against Jisoo’s shoulder. “Maybe. But we’re not even...I mean we’re just friends, anyway.”
Jisoo looks around their apartment. “How long d’you think it’ll take for him to realize we’re dating?”
“Guess we’re gonna find out,” Jeonghan says with a laugh. The cat stalks into the room, glaring at Jeonghan, who glares back at it. “We do have a damn cat now. That’s pretty serious.”
“Call him by his name,” Jisoo says, sounding amused.
Jeonghan glares at him as the buzzer sounds across their apartment,stands up to let Seungcheol into their building, but he looks back at Jisoo before he opens the door. “I am not calling the cat Tom.”
Seungcheol looks, as he usually does, cheerful and responsible. Jeonghan told Jisoo this once and Jisoo just rolled his eyes and argued that a person can’t look responsible, but Seungcheol does. He looks like he should model very soft sweaters, Jeonghan thinks to himself. Or cologne, in a photoshoot on a beach, with a dog following after him.
But he’s normal and very collected, so instead of openly swooning, he tucks his hair behind his ear and greets, “Hello.”
“Hi,” Seungcheol says with a grin, cheeks dimpling.
Normal, Jeonghan reminds himself. Normal and collected. He lets Seungcheol in and gestures to Jisoo, sitting on the couch with the cat in his lap.
“Jisoo, Seungcheol,” he says, pointing between them.
“Oh, hi to you too,” Seungcheol says to Jisoo, waving easily.
Jisoo nods with a soft grin, but it’s at odds with the way he says, “Hey, man.”
“You guys have a really nice place,” Seungcheol says, looking around, his grin still on his face.
Jeonghan snorts, kicking aside their giant pile of shoes next to the door. “Thanks.”
It’s mostly the same as all the other times they’ve worked on a paper together, Jeonghan mostly complaining while Seungcheol is productive, but this time he has Jisoo in the background, the two of them working together to tease Jeonghan. Teasing Jeonghan is, unfortunately, Jisoo’s main hobby, and he didn’t really need the help but he seems to be enjoying it.
The cat, Jeonghan learns, also loves Seungcheol, curling up in his lap almost immediately after he sat down on the floor, and Seungcheol looks pleased.
“I thought you were only cat-sitting temporarily,” Seungcheol says with an amused glance at Jeonghan, who probably looks as annoyed as he feels.
“Yeah, well, don’t offer to cat-sit for the only lesbians in the world who don’t want a cat, I guess,” Jeonghan says with a scowl.
Jisoo snorts from behind him. “That’s not even the story and also, probably borderline offensive.”
“It’s offensive how much vets cost, that’s what’s offensive, Shua,” Jeonghan aims behind him.
Jisoo groans, but it’s not his real offended groan. “Don’t call me that in front of people.”
Seungcheol looks between them, curious, and Jeonghan grins, pleased to explain (he likes embarrassing Jisoo.) “It’s short for his English name.”
“I’m American,” Jisoo explains with a shrug. “Sort of. I guess. I’ve lived here since I was a teenager, but. Joshua Hong,” he says without much more explanation.
“Shua,” Seungcheol tries with a smirk, and Jisoo rolls his eyes, looking amused.
“Americans shorten it to Josh, but Jeonghan got attached.”
“Shua’s nicer,” Jeonghan defends himself with a grin at Jisoo.
“How long have you guys known each other?” Seungcheol asks, resting his chin on his hand.
“Since I moved here,” Jisoo says with another shrug and a grin back at Jeonghan. “In high school, he showed me around my first day and stuff.”
“You looked so lost,” Jeonghan says with a laugh. “It was pity.”
“Mm,” Jisoo mutters, sounding disbelieving, before opening the book he was reading back up. It’s a lie, and Jisoo knows it; he did look lost on his first day but above that, he looked cute, and Jeonghan was (is) self-indulgent and an opportunist at heart.
“So the lesbians?” Seungcheol asks with a grin, sounding amused. The cat’s still in his lap, purring loud enough that Jeonghan can hear it.
“There’s this girl who works with us, Sojung,” Jeonghan says, pushing his hair back.
“Oh,” Seungcheol interrupts. “The girl with the legs.”
Jeonghan raises an eyebrow, amused, and Seungcheol looks a little embarrassed. “I read her nametag, when I was there,” he defends himself, coughing into his hand awkwardly.
“Well, yeah, the girl with the legs. She went out of town for a couple weeks but she came back with a girlfriend who’s allergic.”
“Ah,” Seungcheol says. He might be aiming for sympathetic but he sounds more amused than anything.
“Have you met Eunbi yet?” Jisoo asks, clearly aimed at Jeonghan, and he shakes his head. “She’s cute.”
“So cute that Sojung was willing to get rid of her cat for her, apparently,” Jeonghan says with a raised eyebrow.
Jisoo snorts. “Stop, you’re terrible. Believe in love, Jeonghan.”
“I believe in love! I’m a very big believer in love. Didn’t she love the cat?” Jeonghan asks innocently, making Jisoo laugh and shake his head again.
“I’m leaving. Good luck writing your essay,” he says, walking off to their bedroom, and Jeonghan gives him a big sarcastic wave goodbye. “Good seeing you, Seungcheol.” Jisoo says the last part much more sweetly, more earnest, and Seungcheol’s wave is genuine. Gross.
With Jisoo gone (a distraction, really), Seungcheol and Jeonghan do actually manage to get some work done, comparing the parts of the books that they’re going to cite and running ideas past each other. It’s a few hours later when Seungcheol sighs and leans back against the couch, a sign that Jeonghan’s come to recognize as Seungcheol being done.
“I do hate this class, but,” he says, glancing over at Jeonghan. “I’m gonna miss doing homework with you.”
“Well, maybe we should keep doing it, then,” Jeonghan suggests with a grin, and Seungcheol grins back.
Jisoo has it just as bad, projects already being assigned in his composition courses, and the two of them fall into their usual routine for the school year, kissing quickly during a glance away from a computer, eating dinner in the library. Mid-September, there’s a rare Saturday where neither of them are scheduled to work, and Jisoo wakes him up gently with a kiss to his neck, nothing rushing them out of bed. Jeonghan doesn’t have it in him to do much more than sigh contentedly, and it’s nice. He missed this, always misses Jisoo even though he’s right there, even though they live together and work together and exist together.
“C’mon,” Jisoo mutters into the soft parts of Jeonghan’s skin. “Let’s take a shower and make breakfast and be people.”
“I do love being a person,” Jeonghan mumbles, fingers coming up to card through Jisoo’s short hair.
“Let’s go on a date today,” Jisoo says. His fingers are splayed against Jeonghan’s ribcage in a way that’s so familiar it’s almost nostalgic.
“Okay,” Jeonghan says back, leaning into the warmth of Jisoo.
“C’mon,” Jisoo repeats before rolling off of Jeonghan and pulling at his wrist to get him out of bed. They’ve been together for years, known each other for longer, and it’s difficult for Jisoo to do things that aren’t inherently familiar to Jeonghan. This is no exception, his soft insistence turned to teasing, his undercurrent of impatience. Sometimes when he wants things he gets a little self-serving, a little irresponsible, and Jeonghan always likes it.
Today he doesn’t have to put up much of a fight, doesn’t have to do much convincing as Jeonghan follows behind him dutifully, as they kiss slow and soft in the shower before Jisoo accidentally gets shampoo in his mouth and they both laugh quietly in the stream of the water.
It’s one of those slow mornings where Jeonghan finds it hard to ignore the overwhelming fact of being in love, finds it hard to do much more than stare too fondly at the shape of Jisoo’s back as he makes scrambled eggs. It’s gross, it’s sappy, but it’s nice. Loving someone is nice.
“I saw Seungcheol yesterday,” Jisoo mentions as he slides a portion of eggs onto Jeonghan’s plate.
“Oh?” Jeonghan asks curiously.
“He’s friends with someone in my theory class. He seemed surprised to see me.” Jisoo grins at that.
“He has such a crush on you,” Jeonghan says with a smirk. “I miss him.”
Jisoo ignores the first part, rolling his eyes. “You should see him more, then.”
“I like him, you know,” Jeonghan offers. Jisoo does know, obviously, but Jeonghan doesn’t remember if he’s ever said it plainly.
“I know,” Jisoo nods with a smile. “I like him too.”
“Good,” Jeonghan grins back.
“You better get moving there, or a nice boy like that’s gonna find some other couple to date,” Jisoo says, putting on a very serious face, and Jeonghan chokes on his eggs laughing.
It starts sometime near October, Seungcheol’s visits to the stupid, pretentious cafe that Jeonghan and Jisoo work at. They’re short, at first, just him actually ordering coffee, but it’s nice. He says hi and asks how the semester is going, smiling his dimpled smile before leaving. But at some point he starts staying for longer, sitting at the bar while Jeonghan wipes down the counter and makes people drinks, working on his homework at the little cafe tables. Sometimes Jeonghan is working, sometimes Jisoo, sometimes both of them, and it’s nice to have someone to talk to during dead shifts. It’s nice to talk to Seungcheol again in general, something Jeonghan hadn’t gotten much opportunity to do since August.
It’s a Friday night this time, Jeonghan’s textbook open on the bar so he can read it between customers, and Seungcheol’s is next to his, doing the same. Jisoo’s on register, but they’re dead, and he’s making himself a drink out of boredom.
“Hey,” Seungcheol says, and both boys look at him. “I’m going to this party next week and wanted to know if you guys wanted to come.”
“Yes,” Jeonghan agrees instantly, before Jisoo can open his mouth. “Yes, we do.”
“Oh,” Seungcheol laughs. “That was quick.”
“I’m a man who knows what he wants,” Jeonghan says with a smirk. He can feel Jisoo rolling his eyes behind him.
“You’re a man who should go to the back and get more cups,” Jisoo intones, sounding unimpressed.
Jeonghan shrugs. “I can be both.”
But when Jeonghan comes back out, two sleeves of cups in his arms, he sees Jisoo leaned over the bar with his chin in his hand, biting his lip while he laughs (which he only does when he’s flirting), and he feels self-satisfied at the sight.
“Jisoo-yah,” Jeonghan calls. Jisoo turns to him, cheeks pink, like he got caught. “Here are your cups.” He throws a sleeve at Jisoo, who catches them, and busies himself with restocking.
Seungcheol just smiles at them, his same broad, sweet smile. This is going to be fun, Jeonghan thinks.
++ ++ ++
Tonight, at a crowded house party where Jeonghan keeps drinking and pushing his hair back like he always does when he feels particularly full of himself, Seungcheol’s overwhelmed puppy face in front of them, Jisoo feels out of his depth. It doesn’t help that he likes Seungcheol’s overwhelmed puppy face, his big expressive eyes and the way he keeps biting his lip nervously. It doesn’t help that Jisoo wishes they would get this show on the road already so he could kiss Seungcheol and appreciate just how overwhelmed Seungcheol can look sometimes. But, a voice in his head keeps reminding him (his most responsible voice), this isn’t a good idea tonight.
For one, Jeonghan and Seungcheol are both three drinks deep, and Jeonghan talked Jisoo into doing shots earlier, because he’s stubborn and obsessed with getting his way. For two, because Jeonghan’s obsessed with, whatever, like, seduction and mystique (or whatever other stupid shit he’s calling the dance he’s been doing around this boy for months), he still hasn’t even talked to Seungcheol about this.
Yet here he is, pressed close to Jeonghan because he keeps leaning into Jisoo’s side, facing a laughing Seungcheol who keeps glancing between them happily, but a little overwhelmed. And he’s smiling back, his most coy smile, the prettiest one he can muster, because this isn’t a good idea tonight but he’s only human.
When Jeonghan leans forward and rests an arm on Seungcheol’s bicep, Jisoo is caught between a sigh and a smirk; eventually, his most responsible voice loses out, and his desire to compete with Jeonghan wins. It’s not really competition, not when the end goal is to share, but over the years they’ve discovered they like the game. They don’t do this often, both latch onto someone out of curiosity and attraction and a little infatuation, but when they do, it’s fun.
“I like your shirt, Seungcheollie,” Jeonghan says sweetly, fingers rubbing at the material. Jisoo’s not sure when Jeonghan switched to the diminutive, but against his better judgment he decides it sounds cute. Jeonghan is so damn good at getting his way.
Seungcheol swallows thickly before giving another smile, leaning into Jeonghan’s touch. “Thanks.” He looks a little dazed for a minute before glacing down at Jeonghan’s cup. “You want another drink?”
“Okay,” Jeonghan agrees easily with a pretty smile, handing it over. Seungcheol keeps smiling back before looking at Jisoo.
“Do you want anything?” He asks, eyes big and earnest.
Jisoo smiles, bites his lip. “That’s okay, Seungcheollie.”
He sees Jeonghan roll his eyes but he ignores it, instead putting his energy into maintaining eye contact with Seungcheol. There’s that overwhelmed look again.
When Seungcheol walks away, Jeonghan leans in close next to Jisoo’s ear. “Can we take him home, Shua?” The familiarity of Jeonghan close against him doesn’t do anything to stop the shiver at how his voice sounds, and he clears his throat before pulling away slightly.
“It’s a bad idea,” he sighs. He pushes Jeonghan’s hair back where it’s falling in his face and he’s struck with such an urge to kiss him. It’s an urge he rarely gives into in public, and this isn’t an exception. Jeonghan must be able to tell, though, must catch the way Jisoo glances at his lips, because he leans in again and presses a ghost of a kiss to the spot just below Jisoo’s ear.
“It would be fun, though,” Jeonghan whines petulantly.
Jisoo sighs. “I know.” It’s all they have time for before Seungcheol winds back to them, holding out a drink for Jeonghan. He looks happy, cheeks pink from the liquor, and Jisoo wants to kiss him, too. Damn.
The night continues on in the same fashion; they briefly meet each other’s friends (Yuna’s been attached to one of Seungcheol’s friends all night, the tall handsome one, and they keep smiling at each other, both of them looking particularly sunshiney — it’s sweet.) Jeonghan keeps flirting and Jisoo keeps feeling compelled to out-flirt him (no easy task) and Seungcheol looks pleased about it, keeps filling Jeonghan’s cup along with his own. Their conversation is light, easy, maybe too much so for the tension that’s starting to build up around them.
It has to be getting late by the time that Jeonghan and Jisoo keep resting their hands on Seungcheol’s waist, once accidentally at the same time. He glances between them, confusion at the edge of his expression, but it’s masked by another one of his genuine smiles.
After the third time Jisoo rejects another drink, Seungcheol tilts his head. “Do you not drink?”
“Not really,” Jisoo says with a shrug.
“He’s a lightweight,” Jeonghan snickers, leaning on Jisoo’s shoulder easily.
“Someone has to keep him in line,” Jisoo says, ignoring Jeonghan except to nudge his shoulder into Jeonghan’s cheek.
Seungcheol smirks at that, a little bit like he understands, and Jisoo smirks back.
“No one has to keep me in line,” Jeonghan says, rubbing at his cheek and standing back up. “I am very well-behaved.”
Jisoo raises his eyebrows with a nod as he sips at the soda in his cup. Jeonghan pouts, turning away for effect. Jisoo leans into Seungcheol, close to his ear, and whispers, “He’s fun when he drinks, but if he gets drunk enough, he just ends up crying all night.”
Seungcheol giggles, his face so close to Jisoo’s, and Jisoo grins back easily. Jeonghan’s staring at them now, still pouting, looking jealous. Jisoo just smirks over at him.
Jisoo doesn’t remember there being a clear turning point to the night, but in retrospect he guesses it must have been when Jeonghan turned to Seungcheol, tucking his hair behind his ear, and said, “Seungcheol, let’s go out and get ramyeon.”
It’s weak, especially for Jeonghan, but Seungcheol doesn’t blink before he pulls on his jacket, waving goodbye to his friends and abandoning them easily. Jisoo considers that for a moment, considers the clueless front Seungcheol’s been putting on and wonders to himself about it.
“Where do you want to eat? There’s a convenience store nearby—” Seungcheol starts. The air around them is cool, a nice early autumn chill, and Jisoo shrugs his jacket on, watches Seungcheol’s fingers on the zipper of his own.
“Seungcheol,” Jeonghan interrupts him easily, stepping closer to him on the front porch of the house. There’s still music playing inside, the bass lying underneath Jeonghan’s words. “I don’t really want to get ramyeon.”
Seungcheol stills, his zipper only half-zipped. “Oh.”
Jisoo sighs quietly to himself, but the other two don’t notice. This shouldn’t happen like this. “How close is your apartment?” Jeonghan asks with a little smirk, and Seungcheol blushes visibly.
“Jeonghan,” Jisoo says in a warning voice.
Seungcheol turns to look at him then, dazed, like he forgot where he was. Jeonghan turns too, but he’s pouting. He doesn’t say anything, but they keep staring at each other, Jisoo raising his eyebrow pointedly.
“You’re not fun, Shua,” Jeonghan whines.
“What?” Seungcheol interjects, looking between them. “What’d I miss?”
“Jisoo won’t let me have fun until I do the boring stuff first,” Jeonghan says, rolling his eyes.
“What?” Seungcheol says again. He tilts his head like a confused dog.
“He likes you,” Jisoo blurts finally, and he feels the heavy weight of Seungcheol and Jeonghan’s eyes on him. “I like you. We like you.”
Seungcheol looks between them again. “Well, this is new.”
Jeonghan laughs, bright and loud, and Seungcheol smiles at him. “My apartment is close, by the way.”
Jisoo frowns. “That’s it?”
Seungcheol shrugs in response. “I like you too.” He starts walking down the sidewalk, presumably toward his apartment, and Jisoo follows him, grabbing Jeonghan’s hand to pull him along.
“No moral dilemma? No questions?”
“What’s there to have a dilemma over?” Seungcheol asks, looking back at Jisoo with a grin still on his face. “My dilemma’s over. I thought I had competing crushes on two people but it turns out that works in my favor.”
“I like him the best,” Jeonghan says with a dreamy little sigh.
“How drunk are you?” Jisoo asks him with a sidelong glance.
“Medium,” Jeonghan says decisively. Jisoo sighs.
“Choi Seungcheol!” Jisoo calls admonishingly at Seungcheol’s back, causing him to turn around with a laugh.
“Hong Jisoo,” he says, stopping and waiting for Jisoo to catch up with him. They stare at each other, Jisoo crossing his arms.
“What’s your plan here?” Jisoo asks him.
Seungcheol keeps grinning, and it’s a little infuriating. Jisoo feels off-balance. “I don’t know. Can I kiss you?”
Jisoo blushes, taken aback, and opens his mouth dumbly, trying to think of a response. Seungcheol just keeps grinning, and apparently taking his lack of response as approval, leans in slowly. He’s giving Jisoo an out, he realizes, a chance to pull away. But against literally all of his better judgment, he doesn’t pull away — he leans in instead, closing the distance between them fully.
Jisoo hears Jeonghan sigh happily next to him, their hands still clasped together, but he doesn’t hear much else; it’s hard for him to focus on things that aren’t the liquor-tinged slide of Seungcheol’s lips, his broad hand finding Jisoo’s waist over his jacket. When he pulls back, he looks pleased with himself, and Jisoo blinks rapidly.
“That was nice,” Seungcheol says. Jisoo just nods weakly. “We should keep doing that,” Seungcheol mutters with a little laugh.
“I want a turn,” Jeonghan whines, abandoning Jisoo’s hand in favor of stepping toward Seungcheol, throwing an arm around the back of his neck.
Jisoo knew they would look nice together, but his brain is having trouble putting together just now nice they look together. Seungcheol has a hand in Jeonghan’s hair before Jisoo can blink, and Jeonghan’s free hand is lying low on Seungcheol’s hip. They both start laughing somewhere in the middle of the kiss, and Jisoo finds his breath returning to him more evenly as they pull apart.
“Where’s your apartment again?” Jisoo asks, and the two of them laugh again.
“In a big way, yeah,” Jisoo affirms quietly with a grin, closing the door where Seungcheol and Jeonghan left it open.
“And this is okay?” Seungcheol asks. His voice sounds strained, Jisoo notes distantly.
“Is it okay with you?” Jisoo asks, voice turned serious. Jeonghan must be listening, focused on something other than Seungcheol’s neck (which is big of him), because he pauses and looks up, waiting for Seungcheol to answer.
“Yeah, I mean — yes,” Seungcheol stutters. He sounds significantly less confident now, with two sets of eyes on him, and something about that pleases Jisoo. “It’s not just for like...this isn’t just a sex thing, is it? I really, um, I really liked you both, and I didn’t know what to do, but.”
“No,” Jeonghan answers with a grin. “Not just a sex thing. That’s certainly a fun benefit, though.”
“Yeah, I can see how it has its charms,” Seungcheol mutters.
Jisoo wants to move forward, kiss Seungcheol again, feel him come apart under the two of them, but he stops himself. “You’re drunk.”
“A little,” Seungcheol agrees.
“So am I,” Jeonghan says with a happy smile.
“I know, Jeonghan,” Jisoo says patiently. He turns back to Seungcheol. “Is this a good idea?”
“I don’t know. I feel good about it,” Seungcheol says with a grin of his own.
Jisoo just raises an eyebrow.
“I’d tell you if it wasn’t okay,” Seungcheol says, a little more seriously. “I will tell you, if it’s not okay.”
“We should talk more,” Jisoo sighs, not fully convinced.
“Jisoo’s big on talking,” Jeonghan tells Seungcheol in a stage-whisper.
“We can talk tomorrow,” Seungcheol says, glancing with a grin at Jeonghan before looking at Jisoo. And there’s something reassuring in his face that Jisoo appreciates. “I’ll make breakfast. We’ll talk over breakfast.”
“You’re so nice,” Jeonghan sighs, leaning forward into Seungcheol’s neck and kissing him again, if Seungcheol’s shift in expression is anything to go by.
Jisoo looks at Seungcheol, considering, before he smirks. “Alright. I'll hold you to that.”
Seungcheol offers him a smile, but then Jeonghan must do something with his mouth, because he gasps instead, lips parting prettily. This is going to be good.
And it is. It is good. Seungcheol reacts to everything, looks so overwhelmed when Jisoo and Jeonghan press him against his bed, working together to make him stumble over his words and pant loudly underneath them, sharing little smirks between Jeonghan kissing down his stomach and Jisoo running his fingers across Seungcheol’s chest while they kiss, messy and a little urgent.
Seungcheol’s still wearing his jeans, ripped at the knees, but his shirt got tossed somewhere to the side of the bed and Jisoo’s enjoying the unusual feeling of someone so broad underneath him. His shoulders are wide, there’s muscle on his arms and chest, and even his hands are thicker than Jeonghan’s, the hands he’s used to being on his waist.
“Jisoo-yah,” Jeonghan sing-songs sweetly from further down the bed, and Jisoo pulls away from Seungcheol’s mouth to glance down at him, ignoring the wounded noise Seungcheol makes. Jeonghan’s hair is hanging dark around his face, but his eyes are darker as he bites his lip around a smirk. “Should I take his pants off?”
There are red hickeys marked across Seungcheol’s stomach, and Jisoo grins at the sight, at the way Seungcheol doesn’t seem to mind at all. But Seungcheol’s hips almost jump at the suggestion as he props himself up on his elbows to look down at Jeonghan desperately.
“Probably. You tease too much,” Jisoo says quietly, smirking back at Jeonghan, who grins despite the criticism.
“No such thing,” he says happily. Instead of moving his hand to unzip Seungcheol’s jeans, he cups at Seungcheol’s erection, moving the heel of his palm and making Seungcheol whimper.
“Please,” Seungcheol manages, looking up at Jisoo like he has some say in the matter. Jisoo just smiles back sympathetically.
“C’mon, don’t kill him,” Jisoo says with a chuckle at Jeonghan.
“Fine,” Jeonghan relents, unfastening Seungcheol’s jeans and pulling them down his thighs, revealing his tented plaid boxers underneath.
“Thank you,” Seungcheol breathes, sounding relieved, and Jisoo laughs softly.
“Good manners,” he comments with a wry grin before Seungcheol looks up and him and tugs him back down into a kiss.
Seungcheol kisses like he seems to do everything, earnest and focused. His hands rub little circles at Jisoo’s hips and the feeling is so nice, he’s startled when Seungcheol’s grip falters and digs into Jisoo’s skin. A glance down at Jeonghan explains it, the way he’s kissing up Seungcheol’s thighs, and Jisoo pulls away from Seungcheol.
“I can help,” Jisoo offers calmly, and Jeonghan looks pleased at the suggestion.
“I like when you help,” Jeonghan says happily and Jisoo smiles at him, slides down the bed to kiss him.
It’s so familiar after all this time, so easy, and Jisoo thinks that maybe kissing Jeonghan’s become so ingrained in him that he’ll always remember how to do it. It’s comforting and reassuring to both of them, and they share a little grin when they pull back.
“This is a lot,” Seungcheol comments. Jisoo looks up to see him propped up on his elbows again, eyes trained on them easily. “There’s a lot going on here.”
Jeonghan pulls away and laughs; Jeonghan never laughs in half-measures, it’s always his whole big laugh or nothing (and his whole big laugh is endearing in its awkward rhythm, one of the few awkward things about Jeonghan.) It’s not particularly sexy, but Jisoo knows Jeonghan doesn’t care.
“If you give us a few minutes, there’ll be a lot more going on,” he says with a too-innocent smile, looking pleased at the way Seungcheol’s eyes widen. He turns back to Jisoo, kissing him again softly before breaking away and smirking.
It’s an expression that Jisoo is good at recognizing, and it usually occurs right before Jeonghan drags them both into trouble. Tonight, he’s a little more receptive to it than usual, a little more willing to be dragged as Jeonghan slips his fingers under the waistband of Seungcheol’s boxers.
“It’s not fair that you both are still — wearing clothes,” Seungcheol gasps a little as Jisoo ghosts his fingers as lightly as possible over the sensitive skin on Seungcheol’s stomach.
“Hm,” Jeonghan murmurs, contemplating. “Alright.” He pulls his hands back from Seungcheol’s skin, and Seungcheol looks disappointed. Jisoo grins at him, teasing, but Jeonghan grabs Jisoo’s hand (and attention), pulling him up to stand.
“What?” Jisoo asks quietly. Jeonghan doesn’t respond, just steps closer to him and rucks his shirt up with his hand.
Jisoo feels himself blush, overly aware of Seungcheol’s eyes on them. Jeonghan smiles at him, a joke at his expense that he doesn’t have to say out loud for Jisoo to hear, and Jisoo rolls his eyes. He concedes though, slinging his arms around Jeonghan’s neck to give him easier access, leaning in and kissing him slowly. He feels awkward putting on a show, but he puts it out of his head easily enough with Jeonghan’s hands moving up his sides slowly.
Eventually he pushes Jisoo’s shirt up enough that it’s just a nuisance, and Jisoo pulls back to help him take it off. Jeonghan looks content, looking at Jisoo, and it’s nice. He pushes up Jeonghan’s shirt in return, no patience for Jeonghan’s slow game, and Jeonghan shrugs it off easily. They continue on, kissing slow and pushing at each other’s clothes until they don’t have any left and their hands are left to stroke over bare skin instead. Jisoo’s still aware of Seungcheol on the bed watching them, of his heavy breathing and the telltale sound of him touching himself, and it’s a weird powerful position to be in, Jisoo thinks.
“Don’t get too far ahead, there,” Jisoo tells Seungcheol with a grin, turning his full attention to the other boy. Jeonghan pulls back from where he was biting into Jisoo’s collarbone and turns, smirking in a delighted sort of way.
Seungcheol looks vaguely like he’s been caught, and he pulls back his hand from where it was inside his boxers sheepishly. “Sorry, I just…” He trails off, apparently lacking the words to complete that thought.
Jeonghan just keeps smirking, pulling Jisoo back to the bed. “If you were that desperate you should have said something.”
“I’m not desperate —” Seungcheol starts, but Jeonghan shuts him up when he flops onto the bed, splayed across Seungcheol and leaning up to kiss the argument out of him.
“You’re a little desperate,” Jeonghan says with another smirk when he pulls back, reaching down to cup at Seungcheol’s dick. Seungcheol doesn’t argue back at that, biting his lip in what looks like an effort not to moan.
“How are we...I mean like,” Seungcheol strings together awkwardly, looking between Jeonghan still on top of him and Jisoo perched on the corner of the bed. “How does this work?”
Jeonghan looks back at Jisoo, who shrugs. Jeonghan bites his lip around a grin before aiming at Jisoo, “I wanna see him fuck you.”
Seungcheol audibly chokes, on what Jisoo’s not sure, but Jisoo just snorts. “Of course you do.”
“Do you — I mean, is that okay?” Seungcheol asks, turning away from Jeonghan to look at Jisoo.
“Yeah,” Jisoo says with a soft laugh, leaning over and nudging Jeonghan out of the way so he can kiss Seungcheol, trying to reassure him. “It’s very much okay.”
Jeonghan makes a little happy sighing noise, and Jisoo laughs again.
“Seungcheol,” Jeonghan says as he rolls over to the other side of the bed, “where do you keep your sex stuff?”
“Condoms are in the top dresser drawer, lube is...um, in the shower, I think,” Seungcheol finishes, sounding embarrassed. “I haven’t needed it for company in a while.”
“Aw, are we company?” Jeonghan asks with an amused little smirk as he stands up and walks over to Seungcheol’s dresser.
Jisoo kisses Seungcheol again to stop their bantering, because Jeonghan doesn’t need to be encouraged and Jisoo kind of wants to get this show on the road.
“Alright, I get it,” Jeonghan says with a laugh, pinching Jisoo’s hip as he walks by. “Don’t let me miss anything too good.”
Jisoo pulls back and grins down at Seungcheol, who grins back eagerly. “You wanna fuck with him? He pouts really cute when he’s mad.”
Seungcheol just laughs. “Yeah, go for it.”
So Jisoo lowers himself down until he’s at eye level with Seungcheol’s navel, tugging at his boxers finally and pushing them down his thighs.
“Oh,” Seungcheol mutters weakly, a delayed reaction. Jisoo grins up at him before wrapping his hand around Seungcheol’s shaft without much warning, enjoying the way Seungcheol arches up instantly. “Didn't realize you meant…” He trails off weakly and Jisoo laughs at him a little, but it’s good-natured.
“Gonna blow you now,” Jisoo gives in warning and Seungcheol laughs weakly.
“Thanks for the heads-up,” he manages. Jisoo gives him one last amused grin before lowering down on the head of Seungcheol's dick, mouth quickly full.
He could tell Seungcheol was a little bigger than Jeonghan, but the feel of it was more than he expected. It’s been a while since Jisoo had anyone's dick in his mouth besides Jeonghan's and it's clearly going to take a little getting used to. Still, he takes as much as he can, spurred on by the low little sounds Seungcheol is making as he rolls his hips, probably not on purpose.
“Goddamn it,” Jeonghan swears, presumably standing in the doorway. Jisoo isn't sure because he doesn't pull off, keeps up his slow rhythm to annoy Jeonghan. “You jerk.”
The bed dips and Jisoo glances over at Jeonghan, who, as expected, is pouting prettily. “I didn't even get to see it. This isn't fair.”
Jisoo manages to shrug, and Jeonghan sighs dramatically, moving to position himself up near Seungcheol's head. He keeps his eye contact with Jisoo and Seungcheol blinks his eyes open, apparently just now noticing that Jeonghan's back.
“He's pretty, isn't he?” Jeonghan says in a low voice, loud enough for Jisoo to hear. He rolls his eyes but when he glances up at the head of the bed, it's overwhelming to see two pairs of eyes trained on him.
“Yeah,” Seungcheol agrees, looking a little slack-jawed. Jisoo isn't Jeonghan, he doesn't usually thrive on this kind of attention, but there's an odd pleased feeling in his stomach. He keeps going, a little more used to the feeling of Seungcheol now, a little more confident in his rhythm.
“He's better than I am,” Jeonghan says, sounding amused but casual, like this is a normal anecdote to be sharing.
Jisoo pulls off at that, finally, and Jeonghan looks pleased to have finally said something Jisoo felt the need to respond to. “Only because you're lazy and you get bored.”
“Excuse you,” Jeonghan snips back. “I'm very attentive.”
Seungcheol laughs, a low, desperate kind of thing, and Jisoo becomes aware of the situation again.
“You want some help?” Jeonghan asks, scooting down the bed.
Jisoo doesn't bother answering, just shifts over to make room for him in the space between Seungcheol's thighs. But god, it's been a long time since they'd done this, since they'd shared someone like this, and Jisoo forgot how fun it was. They tease Seungcheol easily, licking down his length together and getting distracted with each other every once in a while, losing themselves in a kiss until Seungcheol whines.
Jeonghan just laughs, pulling back from Jisoo and sitting up a little. “Get on your knees, will you?” He asks, leaning back to find the lube he abandoned on the other side of the bed.
Jisoo nods, catching his drift, and he pulls himself up onto his knees, scooting further up the bed so his elbows bracket Seungcheol's head. Seungcheol grins up at him, looking deeply content, and Jisoo grins back.
“You're cute,” Jisoo tells him quietly, leaning down to kiss him.
“Thanks,” Seungcheol breathes with a giggle that feels maybe slightly out of place for the situation. It's cute, though.
Jisoo can feel Jeonghan moving behind him, and then there are hands on the backs of his thighs. “You're getting too skinny, Shua,” Jeonghan says with a click of his tongue.
“Stop,” Jisoo complains with a whine.
Seungcheol laughs below Jisoo again and Jisoo drops lower on his elbows to lean down and kiss Seungcheol's neck. He makes a pleased sound at that, so Jisoo keeps it up, listening to their breathing and the sound of Jeonghan slicking his fingers up.
Jisoo gasps a little when Jeonghan first enters him, more surprised than uncomfortable. But Seungcheol still runs a hand down Jisoo's arm, comforting, which is sweet.
“C’mere,” he mutters, nudging underneath Jisoo's chin to urge him upward, til they're kissing again. It's nice, Seungcheol kissing him so sweetly while Jeonghan gets him ready. The prep goes quick (it helps that they just did this the night before) and it isn't long before Jeonghan's at three fingers, running his free hand up and down Jisoo's spine. It has Jisoo gasping into Seungcheol more than kissing him but Seungcheol doesn't seem to mind, hand still making soothing circles on Jisoo's skin. There are so many hands on him already, and Jisoo's a little overwhelmed by it.
“You good?” Jeonghan asks him, and Jisoo's so caught up kissing Seungcheol that it sounds distant. He pulls back to consider, eyes screwed closed when Jeonghan’s well-practiced fingers crook just right.
“Not sure,” he pants. “He's thicker than you.”
Jeonghan clicks his tongue again, annoyed, and Seungcheol chuckles.
“I think you're fine,” Jeonghan mutters, and Jisoo can practically hear his eye-roll.
“Need a condom,” Seungcheol says, reaching for the one on the bed, but Jeonghan scoots forward to grab it instead.
“I'll do it,” Jeonghan offers, giving Seungcheol's hand a little squeeze.
Jisoo raises an eyebrow, grinning over at him. “You're being so helpful.”
“Repay the favor later.” Jeonghan grins back at him.
“That's more like you.”
Jeonghan pinches at his hip again. “You're really giving me a bad reputation. All this slander.”
Jisoo chuckles as Jeonghan moves behind him again. He looks down at Seungcheol, who has a fond kind of grin, and Jisoo grins back.
“You look like you're enjoying yourself,” he says quietly. There's the sound of foil, Jeonghan swearing, but Jisoo ignores it.
“Hard not to,” Seungcheol says back with a smirk. His expression changes though, mouth opening in surprise, and Jisoo guesses that Jeonghan got the condom open after all. There's a slick sound as Jeonghan spreads lube on Seungcheol, and Seungcheol's eyes slip closed, biting his lip and rocking upward. Then he feels Jeonghan's slick hands on his hips, leading him down, and there's Seungcheol at his entrance.
Seungcheol looks up at him, like he's asking for permission, and when Jisoo nods hurriedly, Seungcheol doesn't waste any time, rolling his hips up slowly as he slips inside Jisoo.
“Oh,” Jisoo mutters softly. He really is thicker than Jeonghan, not by much but enough to feel...different. Fuller. He stays still and Seungcheol must catch on, because he doesn't move either, still shallow in Jisoo. Jeonghan wiggles his way up the bed and leans back against Seungcheol's pillows, looking pleased.
“You look so good together,” he says with a smirk, reaching forward to brush Jisoo's hair back where it's fallen in his face. Jisoo lets out a shaky breath, experimentally letting himself slip further down onto Seungcheol, and Seungcheol groans low in his throat.
Jisoo's arms are shaking from holding himself up for this long, and Seungcheol must notice, because he looks up at Jisoo with concern. “Here, let's —”
He doesn't finish his sentence, instead just pulling out without warning. Jisoo winces at the feeling and Seungcheol makes a face. “Sorry,” he says with an apologetic grin.
He pulls himself up and scoots back until he’s sitting with his back against his pillows and his headboard, he and Jeonghan sitting next to each other. Jisoo follows him, straddling his lap with his knees on the bed, and they line themselves up again. This time it's easier, and Jisoo rocks himself down til he's flush with Seungcheol's lap. His hands grip at Seungcheol's shoulders a little desperately at the feeling of all of him, and Seungcheol leans in to kiss lightly at the corner of his mouth, his cheek, just below his ear.
“You look so good together,” Jeonghan repeats, voice so much closer this time, and Jisoo can hear his arousal. He opens his eyes where they were screwed closed and turns his head to look Jeonghan up and down, take in his messy hair stuck to his neck with sweat, the way he's biting his lip and digging his hands into the bed, just how hard he is.
Jisoo moves one of his hands from Seungcheol's shoulder to stroke Jeonghan, who immediately lets out a sigh of relief at being touched. Jisoo moves on Seungcheol, trying to get a rhythm between his own movements and the way Seungcheol is rolling his hips, and he matches up his strokes to the same rhythm. Seungcheol's arms are wrapped around Jisoo's back, pressing them tight together, and the friction on his own dick is so good, he can't help his loud breathing, his quiet moans.
“Fuck,” Seungcheol mutters roughly into the crook of Jisoo's neck, and Jisoo manages a breathy laugh.
“Yeah,” he mutters back. It's almost drowned out by Jeonghan's whines, Jisoo's hand still moving on him, but not quite.
It's heady, having the two of them there at once, but it's fun. Seungcheol's falling apart a little underneath him, his pace getting reckless and irregular, and Jisoo lets him.
“Sorry, I'm — is this embarrassing, how little time this is taking?” Seungcheol asks with a little laugh, voice sounding rough.
“No judgment,” Jisoo says with a smirk.
“It's been a while,” Seungcheol mumbles, leaned back against his bed and gasping a little around the words.
Jisoo laughs again. “Well, this is quite a way to start things up again,”
“With a bang, even,” Jeonghan says with a laugh from next to Seungcheol, looking amused at his own joke.
The three of them laugh, weak and more air than real noise, but it's kind of cute. Then Seungcheol swears again and loses his ability to converse, instead snapping his hips up again and again, as hard as he can manage in this position. Jisoo tries to help him along, pulling himself up to help him get more friction, but at some point Seungcheol's hands move to still Jisoo's hips and thrusting into him rough and quick. Jeonghan’s turned to kiss at Seungcheol's neck, and Jisoo leans to kiss at the other side, his hand on Jeonghan stilled for now. It doesn't take much more for Seungcheol to stiffen, letting out a low moan as Jisoo feels his muscles contract.
“Fuck,” Seungcheol says again, this time in the middle of panting through his orgasm.
Jisoo moves up to kiss him properly, slow and focused, and Seungcheol kisses back as best he can.
“God,” Seungcheol says weakly when Jisoo pulls back. “That was good. That was so good.”
Jisoo laughs quietly and kisses him again, a soft peck. “Glad to hear it.”
“What about you two?” He asks, glancing between them.
“Hm,” Jisoo mutters, looking sidelong at Jeonghan. “You still want that favor repaid?”
“You know me,” Jeonghan smirks.
“Grab another condom, then,” Jisoo mutters, finally pulling himself off Seungcheol. Seungcheol ties off the condom before leaning off of the bed to throw it in the trash.
Jeonghan raises his eyebrows. “You don't have to —” he starts, but Jisoo waves his hand to cut him off.
“I know. I want to,” he says, laying down on his back on the bed next to Seungcheol's legs, cringing at the sore muscles in his arms and legs.
Jeonghan doesn't need much more encouragement than that, scampering off to Seungcheol's dresser again.
“Wow,” Seungcheol mutters, staring at him. He runs a hand over Jisoo's collarbone, down his chest. Jisoo doesn't know how to respond to that, doesn't really know what Seungcheol's wow-ing, but it's nice regardless so he grins up at him, feeling more tired now that he's laying down.
“Hurry up,” he complains at Jeonghan, who is only just stumbling back onto the bed.
“So needy,” Jeonghan teases. He gets this condom opened easier than the last one, and Seungcheol passes him the bottle of lube this time.
“For good reason,” Jisoo defends himself, shifting his hips desperately.
“Quiet, I know,” Jeonghan says with a grin. “It's been a busy night for you.” He slicks himself up quickly and leans down over Jisoo, pulling one of his legs up to make the angle easier.
“I'm gonna be sore tomorrow,” Jisoo says quietly. He can feel the discomfort already, the way his body’s already complaining about tonight.
Jeonghan makes a little sympathetic noise as he lines up. “I’ll take care of you.” He glances up and over at Seungcheol, who's looking at them with rapt attention. “We'll take care of you,” he tries, and it makes Seungcheol smile in earnest.
“Of course,” Seungcheol agrees, moving to lay on his side next to Jisoo, running a hand through his hair.
Jisoo nods, shifting his hips again; he can feel Jeonghan hovering close to his entrance and wishes he would hurry up. Jeonghan must be able to decipher his movement because he moves forward until he's pressed against Jisoo, sliding into him without much warning. It's so damn familiar, and it's good, it's perfect. Jisoo arches up, making a choked noise that he doesn't totally register coming out of his mouth. If there's one thing Jisoo and Jeonghan know it's each other, so overly aware of each other's bodies, what they want and when they want it. So Jeonghan fucks into him with purpose, at just the right angles, at just the right pace, and it's exactly what he wants. He lets out another moan, broken and desperate, and he feels Seungcheol's broad hand snake between their bodies and grab at his dick loosely. He arches into the touch immediately, whining, and Seungcheol leans over to kiss his temple.
It’s a lot. It's all a lot, and Jisoo feels vaguely like he's on fire. “Please,” he mutters, not sure what he's asking for, but both of them move quicker, harder.
“C’mon, Shua,” Jeonghan mutters close to his ear. “Want you to feel good.”
Jisoo wants that too, and he would say so except Jeonghan hits his prostate again and all he can do is moan, louder than he really intended.
“You sound so nice,” Seungcheol says quietly, pushing his Jisoo's back and letting his fingers trail down his face, rubbing gently at his jawline.
“Look so good,” Jeonghan chimes in with a grin. “So pretty.” He's embarrassed at the compliments, can feel himself blush under the weight of both their eyes, but it's still nice.
Jeonghan found the perfect angle, hitting Jisoo's prostate on every single thrust, and it only takes a few more pumps of Seungcheol's hand before Jisoo's trying to mumble out a warning but mostly just manages to moan unintelligibly, back arching and legs moving to wrap around Jeonghan's back. The force of it hits him hard, and he really sees stars for a moment. Seungcheol strokes him through his orgasm until he's feeling pleasantly limp, letting himself fall back on the bed and letting Jeonghan keep moving, picking up his pace now that he's only chasing his own release.
Jisoo runs his hand up and down Jeonghan's side, moving up to his neck and through his hair, which is a disaster. It's grown to just past his shoulders now and it's tangled where he was leaning back against the bed earlier but it's still pretty, hanging down to frame his face nicely. Jisoo tucks it behind his ear, moving it to one side of Jeonghan's face, and he studies his expression. It's drawn, bottom lip caught in his teeth, eyebrows furrowed, and Jisoo can tell he's close. He reaches down to rub at Jeonghan's hip, encouraging, and notices Seungcheol's hand running across Jeonghan's skin too.
“Hurry up, Jeonghannie,” Jisoo says with a sated grin. “I'm tired.”
Jeonghan grins weakly, huffing out a breath of laughter, before thrusting in hard again, groaning quietly. It happens quick after that, only a few moments later, and Jeonghan loses his strength and falls on top of Jisoo when his orgasm finally hits.
“Shit,” he moans through it, hips bucking desperately. He and Seungcheol keep their hands moving, trying to comfort him, and Jeonghan eventually stops moving, his breathing heavy. “Shit.”
“You were right,” he mumbles after a minute, lifting his head to look at Seungcheol. “That was really goddamn good.”
He stays slumped on top of Jisoo for a couple minutes, letting Jisoo and Seungcheol stroke his skin lightly, before he pulls out and rolls over, passing his condom off to Seungcheol.
“Really, really goddamn good,” Jisoo agrees, rolling over on his side to curl up close to Jeonghan, limbs thrown over him messily.
“Hong Jisoo,” Jeonghan starts weakly, “I love you to death. I'd do anything for you. But get off me so I can sleep.”
“Romance is dead,” Jisoo sighs, turning back over onto his back.
“C’mere,” Seungcheol offers from his other side, and Jisoo turns to him. “I like to cuddle.”
So Jisoo does, rolling over onto his other side and nestling into Seungcheol's side, nuzzling his face into Seungcheol's neck. “My hero.”
“You two have fun being sweaty and gross,” Jeonghan calls sleepily from the far side of the bed.
“We will,” Seungcheol calls back pleasantly. He runs a hand down Jisoo's back and it's comforting and nice.
“You alright?” Seungcheol asks. Which is kind of like, ludicrously sweet, and makes Jisoo grin.
“Yeah. I'm good.” He means it. He's sore but it was worth it.
“Two in one night,” Jeonghan calls over, sounding sleepy and amused. “A real champion. Your mother would be proud.”
“She raised a hard worker,” Jisoo says around a yawn.
“Not sure she intended for that meaning of hard,” Jeonghan snorts.
“Go to sleep, asshole,” Jisoo replies easily, making Seungcheol laugh his goofy laugh. He and Jeonghan both have such weird laughs, and he appreciates that, for whatever reason.
“I'm so glad this happened,” Seungcheol says quietly, happily.
“Mm,” Jisoo mumbles, shifting so that he's on his stomach, reaching down to hold Seungcheol's hand. “Me too.”
Seungcheol kisses his forehead softly, and Jisoo grins to himself before falling asleep fast and easy.
++ ++ ++
All in all, Seungcheol thinks, this is the best case scenario. The two boys he liked are dating, yes, but they want to date him too? Maybe? It's possible that he should have followed Jisoo's advice from the night before and waited to talk before doing anything, but considering the events of the rest of the night, he's finding it hard to have regrets. He doesn't even have a hangover, proof that there are higher powers in the world and that they look fondly on him.
As he’s contemplating a way to get out of bed without disturbing one of them, Jeonghan shifts in his sleep, rolling over and running into Seungcheol bodily.
“Sorry,” Jeonghan says in a quiet voice, rough from sleep. “Oh,” he murmurs, eyes blinking open to find the obstacle. He laughs a little when he sees Seungcheol. “Wow. I kind of forgot.”
“Rude,” Seungcheol snorts back without any heat.
Jeonghan yawns, pushing his hair back from where it's hanging over his neck, and leans into Seungcheol's side, his arm falling across Seungcheol's waist. “You're just not who I’m used to waking up to in the morning,” he says with another chuckle. “It's nice, though.”
Seungcheol swallows, hoping his face doesn't look too embarrassing. It is nice.
“Isn't it funny how Jisoo sleeps like that?” Jeonghan asks, picking himself up a little to look over at him. “All curled up like a stupid cat.”
“It's cute,” Seungcheol defends.
Jeonghan grins at Seungcheol, sinking back down to lean on the mattress. “Well, obviously it's cute.”
“I can hear you,” Jisoo mumbles, but he evidently doesn't care enough to move.
Jeonghan breathes a laugh into Seungcheol's shoulder, where his face is pressed against it. “Good morning, then.”
Jisoo just makes an incomprehensible noise into the pillow he's laying on before sighing and unfurling himself to stretch. Seungcheol watches, feeling...he doesn't know. Endeared.
“How are you doing?” Jeonghan asks, and Seungcheol turns to look at him. He furrows his eyebrows.
“What do you mean?”
“With all this,” Jeonghan gestures loosely between the three of them. “How are you feeling about it?”
“Oh,” Seungcheol says quietly. “Good? I think?”
Jeonghan doesn't seem to accept that as an answer, because he keeps looking at Seungcheol, who only withstands his gaze for about 30 seconds before he wilts a little. “I mean, I have some questions.”
“Good,” Jeonghan says decisively. He props himself up on an elbow to look over at Jisoo, who has turned onto his side facing away from them, the pale skin on his narrow back facing Seungcheol. “Jisoo,” he calls quietly.
“Mm?” Jisoo responds vaguely.
“We should talk,” Jeonghan says.
Jisoo makes another vague noise before rolling over onto his back, pulling more of the comforter over to cover him. “We should,” he agrees in a sleepy voice. “But maybe when we're not naked. Also, I was promised breakfast.” He gives Seungcheol a little smirk at that, or at least as much of a smirk as he can manage for having just woken up.
Seungcheol just nods with a grin. “You were.”
It's another half hour before any of them can really motivate themselves to get up. Jisoo and Jeonghan end up positioned on either side of his chest, their hands clasped somewhere near Seungcheol's hip, and it's so nice, is the thing. It's warm and comfortable and Seungcheol kind of a little bit would like to stay in bed forever. But at some point Jisoo yawns and stretches again before sighing and sitting up, looking down at Seungcheol. His hair is mussed and hanging over his forehead, in stark contrast with how Seungcheol's always seen it styled, pushed back neat, and he looks soft and sleepy.
“I need to shower,” he says quietly, scratching his shoulder and tilting his neck like he's trying to get rid of some stiffness.
“If that's an invitation, I'm declining,” Jeonghan says with a little sigh, his eyes still closed. For all his complaints the night before, he's tucked close into Seungcheol's side, and seemingly immovable.
Jisoo rolls his eyes and looks at Seungcheol. “He's picky about soap.”
“I just like using my own, is there something wrong with that?” Jeonghan snaps, opening his eyes to glare.
“He buys it at fancy skincare stores,” Jisoo says in mock-whisper, laughing at the look Jeonghan gives him. “It wasn't really an invitation, anyway, but I guess it can be.” He looks at Seungcheol again, head tilted.
“I mean, only if you want?” Seungcheol tries. He's not sure what the right answer is, if Jisoo really wants him to say yes — but he cuts off Seungcheol's thought process with a snort and a tug at Seungcheol's hand.
“C’mon,” he says, pulling him away from Jeonghan, who whines when Seungcheol gets out of bed.
“What're you complaining about? You have the whole bed to yourself now,” Jisoo says with a grin. Jeonghan gives a thoughtful noise, like he hadn't considered this, before turning onto his stomach and spreading out like a starfish.
Jisoo rolls his eyes again but he's grinning softly at Jeonghan tangled up in the sheets. “Lead the way,” he tells Seungcheol when he looks back at him.
“Right,” Seungcheol mutters. He kind of expected Jisoo to be more shy than this, meek instead of this quiet confidence he has, but then he supposes that shy and meek don't do particularly well in conjunction with Yoon Jeonghan. “How long have you two…?” Seungcheol asks, his curiosity finally winning out. He pauses in the hall to grab an extra towel from his closet.
“Been together?” Jisoo fills in. He takes the towel Seungcheol hands him before they file into the bathroom. Seungcheol nods. “I guess five years or so.”
“Wow,” Seungcheol mutters.
“Yeah,” Jisoo says with a sheepish grin.
“That's...intimidating,” Seungcheol says with a laugh. He reaches to turn his shower on, straightening the mess of bottles on his shower caddy. Truthfully, Seungcheol isn't sure his shower could even fit three people, and he's a little thankful that Jeonghan opted out.
“Hm,” Jisoo says, leaning against the wall. “Intimidating how?”
They're standing around waiting for the water to warm up, naked and half-asleep, and it's a little bit of a surreal setting for the conversation. But Seungcheol just shrugs. “I mean, you two are like…” He hesitates before he uses the word married because it's a little ridiculous, but it's not totally off-base. “You just know each other so well.”
“Yeah. We do.” Jisoo smiles at that. “We want to know you too, though.”
Seungcheol smiles back, biting his lip and looking down for a minute. There's a pause where neither of them say anything, and it feels a little vulnerable. But then Jisoo steps past him into the shower, a hand on Seungcheol's shoulder like reassurance, and it passes.
Showering with other people, Seungcheol has learned in the handful of times he has done it, is sometimes better in theory than in reality. For one, someone is always going to be a little cold. Seungcheol lets it be him this time, lets Jisoo stand under most of the stream of the showerhead first.
“I'm sorry,” Jisoo says after a minute. It makes Seungcheol look up from washing himself off. “I mean, if me and Jeonghan are kind of intense. We don't mean to be.”
Intense isn't exactly the word Seungcheol would use, but he gets it. He nods. “No, it's okay.”
“I have to ask, did you really not realize we were together?” Jisoo asks with a grin. He steps out of the water to grab shampoo, letting Seungcheol trade places with him.
Seungcheol blushes, but he hopes it's not visible in the steam. “I just thought you were close.”
“In fairness, we definitely are close,” Jisoo laughs.
“Why didn't he tell me?” Seungcheol asks, his brow furrowed.
Jisoo shrugs. “He didn't want to scare you off. Would he have?”
Seungcheol thinks about that. “I would have backed off, probably. I wouldn't want to upset anyone.” Jisoo flourishes his hand a little, like he's saying See?
They continue on quietly, Jisoo reaching over to wipe soap off of Seungcheol's forehead before it gets in his eye, Seungcheol leaning to kiss Jisoo's wet cheek in thanks.
“Your eyelashes are so long,” Jisoo mutters with a soft laugh when Seungcheol leans in close to him to reach for something.
“Thanks,” Seungcheol says back with an embarrassed sort of grin.
They look at each other for a moment, Jisoo’s face twisted in that half-grin he gets sometimes, the one that Seungcheol’s beginning to realize is less sweet than it looks, before Jisoo leans into him and kisses him, soft and slow. Only Jisoo’s back is under the water and Seungcheol is cold, but he finds it hard to pull away.
Except then there’s a knock on the door, followed by the sound of the door opening, and then Jeonghan’s voice calling, “Hey, not to disturb you two, but I’m fucking hungry.”
Jisoo is surprised into a laugh, and Seungcheol grins at him before calling back, “We’ll be out soon.”
“I feel left out,” Jeonghan whines. Seungcheol can tell without looking that he’s pouting. “It was boring laying in bed alone when I was already awake.”
“It’s your own fault,” Jisoo says with a snort.
“Yeah, well, whatever,” Jeonghan grumbles. “Seungcheollie, come cook me breakfast.”
The door shuts again and Jisoo is still laughing a little as he re-caps the bottle of conditioner he’s finished with. “He’s so…” He doesn’t finish the sentence, just shaking his head with a grin as he pulls back the shower curtain and steps out with a look back at Seungcheol.
“You know, if you let him push you around so easy, he’ll never give it up.”
Seungcheol shrugs as he steps into the water, finishes rinsing the conditioner out of his hair. “I don’t really mind being pushed around, I don’t think.”
“Yeah. I don’t really either,” Jisoo says with a grin as he walks over to his towel and runs it across his face and chest before wrapping it around his hips.
They’re quiet as Seungcheol finishes rinsing off and turns off the water, standing next to Jisoo in front of the steamed-up mirror to dry off.
“How are you feeling, by the way?” Seungcheol asks as he reaches for his toothbrush on the counter.
Jisoo blushes a little at that, looking down at the floor with a sheepish grin. “Fine, really. I’m so out of shape, my arms are sore.”
“You should come to the gym with me sometime,” Seungcheol suggests, really with good intentions. He likes working out, he likes Jisoo, he thinks he would like the two together. But when he looks at Jisoo’s face, it’s like he suggested that they should attend funerals together recreationally.
Jisoo just shakes his head sadly, the same miserable disgusted look on his face as he says sadly but clearly, like he wants Seungcheol to really understand, “I will never do that.”
Seungcheol nods slowly. “Alright. That’s fair.” Jisoo pats him on the shoulder like a consolation, nodding back, before heading out of the bathroom. Seungcheol blinks a few times before brushing his teeth.
“A little angsty for a Saturday morning,” he comments with a grin. Seungcheol stands up and walks over with his hand out.
It’s from Jihoon, which Seungcheol guesses he should have expected after Jeonghan used the word “angst.” Not that Jihoon’s usually like this, but he remembers seeing him with Soonyoung the night before, and that always leads to some vague emotionally removed texts the next day.
“Boy problems,” Seungcheol mutters in explanation, fingers typing out do u wanna talk about it??. All Jihoon had sent him was the message “everything is so fucking annoying,” and Seungcheol sighs when his reply is no. Expected, but not great.
Jeonghan grins. “You’re so cute.” Seungcheol looks up from his phone with a questioning glance. “What a good hyung,” he sing-songs, pulling his legs up on the counter to sit criss-cross and looking at Seungcheol with his chin in his hand.
Seungcheol pulls a face but it fades into an embarrassed grin. “I’m only trying to be a good friend.” He turns back to his cabinet, finally grabbing the rice from where it was hidden behind other containers.
“Mm,” Jeonghan mutters in agreement. When Seungcheol turns to him, he’s looking over with a soft kind of look on his face.
“Why’re you looking at me like that?” Seungcheol laughs. He walks over to stand in front of Jeonghan’s crossed legs, placing his hands light on Jeonghan’s kneecaps. The newness of it all, of everything, is making him tentative and maybe a little nervous.
Jeonghan, against all of Seungcheol’s expectations, goes a little pink at that. “I’m not looking at you like anything.”
“You are,” Seungcheol accuses, pleased to get a reaction. He’s never seen Jeonghan blush before, his sarcasm put to the side.
“Shut up,” Jeonghan mumbles, leaning forward to kiss Seungcheol a little roughly, like he’s trying to make up for that soft look on his face. But he’s wearing one of Seungcheol’s shirts, a worn out logo faded across the front, and the material brushing against his arm makes him pull back with a grin. “Shut up and cook,” Jeonghan says, shoving Seungcheol’s shoulder back, but he’s grinning back.
Seungcheol turns, follows a long-memorized fried rice recipe easily as he gathers ingredients on the counter next to his oven, not particularly distracted by Jeonghan watching him. At some point he slides off the kitchen counter and stands leaned up to the wall next to Seungcheol, eyes resting easy on him.
“Where’s Jisoo?” Seungcheol asks, reaching past him to grab something on the counter.
Jeonghan shrugs. “Might’ve gone back to sleep.”
Seungcheol switches the burner on, piling cold rice into the pan, and he doesn’t look up before he says, “Can I ask you something?”
Jeonghan murmurs an assent, stepping a few inches closer and resting his hand on Seungcheol’s bicep.
“How does this...work?” He asks. He chances a look up at Jeonghan, who’s looking at him without a smirk, without a joke in his expression, calm but serious.
“Short answer, however you want it to,” Jeonghan says in an even tone, eyes fixed on Seungcheol’s face.
“Long answer?” Seungcheol asks with a nervous kind of smile.
“Long answer. Alright. You want the whole story?” Jeonghan asks, face softening. He looks open, kind, and Seungcheol nods. He’s wanted the whole story since last night, really.
Jeonghan nods back with a smile. “Well, me and Jisoo have been...we’ve been together for a long time, right? Since high school, and we were just kids, really. We were all...you know how it is, right? The first time you’re in love with a boy and you’re all fucked up and weird?” Jeonghan asks with something like a laugh.
Seungcheol nods again. He does know how it is, how it was. That teenaged panic that settles in between you two, or at least settled in for him. “Yeah.”
Jeonghan grins at him, his hand finding Seungcheol’s arm again, not minding that it’s moving while Seungcheol cooks. “Yeah. So anyway, all this to say, we were each other’s first everything. And it was like, a lot. It’s a lot having one person be your everything when you’re sixteen. Or when you’re any age, really. But that’s what love’s supposed to be, right? You watch movies and stuff and it’s like, that’s how it’s supposed to be. One person’s your everything forever.” He pauses with another laugh. “So when you’re eighteen and you have a crush on this other boy you’re like oh my god, I’m a terrible person.”
Seungcheol turns to look at him, his first instinct concern, but Jeonghan’s grinning like it’s a distant memory, laughable now. He goes on, still grinning to himself. “I had this awful crush and I was just so guilty because I had Jisoo and we were like...we were about to move in together, and we had so much going on with our families. I felt like I was gonna fuck everything up just because of this cute boy.”
“So what’d you do?” Seungcheol asks around a bite of rice, checking if it’s seasoned enough. He has other questions, wants to know more about everything, but he holds back. He has time to ask them, he thinks.
“I finally felt so bad that I told him,” Jeonghan says around a huff of laughter. “I broke down, I had this whole tearful admission, I felt like complete shit. But Jisoo just looked at me and started laughing, so hard he started crying and told me he had a crush on the same boy. We’re sitting on the floor of his bedroom in tears, and we have this whole discussion about love and what that means and how young we are and how weird it is to think that we’ll be it for each other, forever.” Jeonghan looks at him, grinning kind of softly, and shakes his head. “I love him a lot. He’s so good, and we’ve grown into this whole great thing. He’s amazing. But there’s literally a whole world of people out there, and like, why would I think he’s the only one who could make me happy?”
Jeonghan’s quiet for a minute then, maybe recovering from how much he just said — the length of it and how personal it was. But he shakes his head again like he’s focusing himself and looks up at Seungcheol. “So. Short answer, this works however you want it to. We like you. We want to date you. I’m doing a lot of talking for Jisoo here but,” Jeonghan rolls his eyes with a vague hand gesture. “He’d be thrilled to know I’m communicating. What do you want?”
Seungcheol grins and looks back at Jeonghan, trying his best to look reassuring. “I like you too. Both of you. I...had a crush on you first, but when I met Jisoo, I didn’t know what to do. It was a lot to deal with, all at once,” he says with a chuckle. Jeonghan smiles back like he gets it. “I don’t really know how to date two people, though.”
“It’s like dating one, but more expensive,” Jeonghan jokes with a smirk. His face clears into something more sincere, though, when he continues. “It’s weird to get used to, at first. There’s a lot of like, anxiety that you’re leaving someone out. In my own experience, anyway. You need to talk a lot, about a lot of stuff, and make sure everyone’s on the same page.”
“I’m fine with talking,” Seungcheol offers with a grin.
Jeonghan nods back at him. “Good.” They look at each other for a minute, matching smiles, and they only look away when there’s a knock at Seungcheol’s door. He glances with furrowed eyebrows at the time displayed on his microwave — it’s just barely eleven in the morning, and he can’t imagine it’s anything real. Maybe some of his mail got delivered to his neighbor again.
“Can you grab that?” He asks Jeonghan, stirring around his pan of fried rice. Jeonghan gives a little salute and walks off. Seungcheol shakes the frying pan and thinks, thinks about the story Jeonghan told him and the way Jisoo kissed him so soft in the shower and the way Jeonghan looked at him across the kitchen. There isn’t much for him to consider, really — Seungcheol has never been one to shy away from new things, things he didn’t quite have a grasp on yet. He’s always been willing to learn as he goes.
“Who was it?” Seungcheol calls across the room to where he hasn’t heard anything from Jeonghan, still standing in the doorway.
Jeonghan just steps back inside and, Seungcheol is surprised to see, he’s followed by Jihoon. “Oh,” he mutters. Shit.
Jihoon has the nerve to smile and wave at him, clearly pleased with the situation at hand. Shit. “I left my laptop here yesterday,” he explains.
“You could have sent a message,” Seungcheol says, rolling his eyes but feeling defeated.
Jihoon gives a smirky little shrug and Seungcheol wants to roll his eyes again. He points Jihoon over to the coffee table where he left it. Jeonghan steps back over to Seungcheol, looking amused. “Is this the one with boy problems?” He asks quietly, tucking a piece of hair behind his ear.
“The one and only,” Seungcheol replies in a low voice. If Jihoon heard them he’d kill Seungcheol. But Jihoon doesn’t hear, and Seungcheol is really hoping that the rest of this interaction continues smoothly.
That is, of course, until Jisoo finally reappears, stepping out into the living room in his underwear, freezing when he sees Jihoon across the room. Of course. Of course. Jihoon looks mortified and Jisoo matches his expression easily, and Seungcheol remembers that they know each other, vaguely.
“I’m gonna go get dressed,” Jisoo announces awkwardly before turning on his heels and marching out of the room.
Jihoon finally grabs his laptop and gives Seungcheol a shell-shocked look; Seungcheol just looks up from where his head was in his hands. “Call first next time.”
“That is certainly a lesson I have learned,” Jihoon agrees with a nod before quickly making his own exit after a hasty goodbye.
When the door closes behind him, Seungcheol groans loudly, putting his face back in his hands and hoping that when he looks up, the earth will swallow him whole. Jeonghan just laughs.
“Yeah?” Jeonghan responds, blowing hair out of his face as he glances up.
“What ever happened, with that boy?” Seungcheol asks quietly.
Jeonghan’s face fades into a surprised look, and then a grin, slowly. “Oh. Not much, really. Jisoo tried to kiss him once and he got freaked out and...that was it, really.”
“Ah,” Seungcheol nods.
“Not very exciting, really,” Jeonghan laughs. “But I still think about him sometimes. He was cute.”
“Must have been,” Seungcheol says with a laugh, sitting down on his bare mattress. Jeonghan finishes pulling on his jeans (and really, Seungcheol doesn’t know how it doesn’t take him more effort, with how tight they are) and gives him a smirk.
“I mean, not as cute as you,” he says, stepping over and straddling his knees on either side of Seungcheol’s lap easily.
“You say that to all the boys, I bet,” Seungcheol says softly, looking up at Jeonghan’s face close to his own.
“Just the cute ones,” Jeonghan says with another smirk before leaning in and kissing him. It’s different from the way Jisoo kisses — Jeonghan’s more direct, not asking for anything but telling him exactly what he means. His hands grip in Seungcheol’s hair and Seungcheol grins into the kiss.
“Well, I would have appreciated an invite,” a voice says from the doorway, and they split apart to turn and look at Jisoo. His hair’s still unstyled, hanging over his forehead and even though he’s wearing last night’s clothes, he looks softer than he did the night before at the party.
“Figured you were still recovering,” Jeonghan says with a smirk. Jisoo grimaces.
“Don’t bring it up,” he whines, but he sits down on the bed next to Seungcheol, his hand resting on Jeonghan’s thigh. “We should go soon; your sister’s coming by this afternoon, isn’t she?”
Jeonghan sighs, slumping his full weight on Seungcheol’s lap. “Yeah, she is.” He turns back to Seungcheol with a little grin. “You should meet my sister sometime. She’s great.”
“Picture Jeonghan, but female, three years younger, and smarter,” Jisoo says, looking amused.
Seungcheol whistles low, rubs his hand where he’s resting on Jeonghan’s hip. “Sounds dangerous.”
“She’s the best,” Jeonghan says happily. “She’s also the worst, but.” He shrugs, like there’s nothing he can do about that. He leans forward to give Seungcheol a final peck, and then leans to the side to do the same to Jisoo, angling himself awkwardly to reach. “Let’s go, then.” He looks remorseful as he removes himself from Seungcheol and brushes his clothes off, like that’ll do something for the wrinkles.
“Hey,” Seungcheol says, looking between Jeonghan and Jisoo, “What’re you doing tomorrow?”
“Studying,” Jisoo says with an apologetic smile. “You wanna join?”
Seungcheol grins back at him easily. “Yeah. I do.”
Friday nights, when Seungcheol works, Jisoo and Jeonghan come distract him, sitting at the bar and commanding more of his attention than they really mean to. Jeonghan always gets quietly tipsy and leans over the bar with a smirk and Jisoo always has to pull him back into his seat, laughing.
Sunday afternoons, when Jeonghan and Jisoo are always scheduled for a shift together, Seungcheol finds himself sitting at the bar with his textbooks open in front of him, not getting much work done. Sometimes Sojung works with them, and then he’s joined by Eunbi, falling into the same steps as him. It’s nice, actually; Seungcheol likes the way her little face reminds him of a rabbit, the way she pouts at Sojung and Sojung gives in to it. Jeonghan tends to roll his eyes at them — he’s still putting on a public show about the cat, but Seungcheol knows he takes naps with it. He’s beginning to realize Jeonghan’s softer than he wants people to believe.
Jeonghan and Jisoo are Jeonghan and Jisoo — they live together, they work together, they can have entire conversations with some pointed glances. But Seungcheol finds that he doesn’t feel intrusive, placing himself in their orbit. He doesn’t feel jealous, just curious, just eager.
For a couple months, it’s almost like they put each other through an interview process with everyone in their lives. Seungcheol’s friends end up happening first, with Jeonghan and Jisoo entering the fray a little nervously but mostly naturally. Jeonghan and Jisoo’s friends come soon after, by sheer proximity, when he’s sitting in the cafe and Sojung asks Seungcheol if he wants to come along to her birthday party.
“We’re fun,” Sojung says with a grin. Jeonghan is working the register and doesn’t hear them talking, but Eunbi grins in agreement.
“We’re the most fun,” she insists with her cute little smile. He’s always had a soft spot for cute girls.
“The kids will love you,” Sojung continues, looking him over with a little bit of a smirk.
Seungcheol grins back but tilts his head. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Sojung shrugs. “You’re older, you’re handsome. They’ll oppa you to death.”
Jisoo appears from the back, carrying three bottles of syrup and shooting Sojung a look. “Stop flirting with my boyfriend.”
Sojung shrugs again with a grin. “I was inviting him to my birthday.”
“Oh,” Jisoo says, considering. “Yeah. Come if you want. Our friends are weird, but come. You’re friends with Yuna’s boyfriend anyway, aren’t you?”
“Am I?” Seungcheol asks, an eyebrow raised.
“Seokjin? Seokmin?” Jisoo asks, like he’s not quite sure.
Seungcheol almost chokes on his water. “Lee Seokmin? My Seokmin?”
Jisoo laughs at him. “Well, I didn’t know he was yours, but yeah, I think so. He was at Jihoon’s party, right? Tall, good face?” Lee Seokmin is indeed tall with a good face. Seungcheol nods, dazed.
And that’s how he finds himself a few days later at a bar much louder than his own and clear across campus, waiting to ambush his friend. He’s also there to watch Jeonghan get drunk and embarrass himself, which as Jisoo has informed him, happens at least once a month. And he’s there to meet the girls Jisoo and Jeonghan mention in passing so much, the group of friends they share with Sojung.
“You know, he probably has his reasons for not mentioning it,” Jisoo says for the hundredth time, nursing his first and probably only drink of the night.
Seungcheol just pouts in response. He knows his friends don’t have to tell him everything, but they usually do. He doesn’t know what about him makes people want to ask him advice, confide in him — maybe he just has a trustworthy face — but he feels a little stung that Seokmin’s kept this to himself.
Jeonghan’s nearby, laughing loudly at something Sojung is saying. Next to her is Eunbi, her short hair styled neatly, petite next to Sojung’s length, and another girl Seungcheol hasn’t met yet, who’s guffawing inelegantly before making an exaggerated pouting face. A girl with the baby face walks up to them with a smile.
“Jisoo-oppa, I passed my English exam,” she tells him happily, taking a sip from her drink.
Jisoo grins fondly at her, nodding. “Told you you would.”
“How come you’ll help her but you won’t help me!” The girl who was pulling faces next to Eunbi calls, walking over with a disgruntled look at Jisoo.
“Because I’m nicer than you,” the youngest-looking girl says with a smirk.
Instead of responding to either of them, Jisoo leans into Seungcheol, pointing at them respectively to say, “Kim Yewon, Hwang Eunbi.”
The newly-identified Hwang Eunbi glares at Yewon. “You’re not nicer, you just have that face. Anyone will do anything for you.” She reaches out and pinches at Yewon’s cheek, earning her a little glare from Yewon. They seem to kind of forget about Jisoo and Seungcheol as they bicker back and forth, which Jisoo looks pleased about.
Jisoo nudges him and motions toward the door. “Your Seokmin,” he says in a teasing voice. Seungcheol follows his eyeline and sees Seokmin there, holding hands with a girl nearly his height, both of them smiling like Seokmin always does (blindingly big.) Seungcheol nods purposefully, staying in his place at Jisoo’s side and waiting. It doesn’t take long; the girl (Yuna, Seungcheol remembers) pulls Seokmin over to where her friends are, and Seokmin’s eyes scan over to Seungcheol mostly by accident before going wide.
“Hi, hyung,” Seokmin tries, calling over to him with a nervous grin. Seungcheol just gives him a look, an eyebrow raised. That’s when Jisoo shakes his head with a laugh, patting Seungcheol on the shoulder before walking off toward Jeonghan and taking Yuna with him.
“Don’t be mad at me,” Seokmin says with a whine, looking apologetic. “I wasn’t trying to keep it a secret! Just…” He trails off with a shrug.
“You didn’t tell anybody?” Seungcheol asks, raising his eyebrows. Seokmin has never been known for under-sharing, and even if he hadn’t told Seungcheol, he figured that Soonyoung knew.
Seokmin shrugs again. “It just kind of...happened. Everyone else had other stuff going on.”
“Oh,” Seungcheol says, quieter. It’s not hard to fill in some blanks — Wonwoo had started dating Mingyu, Soonyoung and Jihoon, and then Seungcheol’s own newest life developments. Seungcheol feels bad for being annoyed, now. He looks over at where Jisoo and Yuna are talking, smiling easily at each other. “For the record, I still would have cared. Obviously.” He smiles at Seokmin, putting a hand on his shoulder reassuringly.
Seokmin smiles back. “Yeah, I know. It’s also, just…” He trails off again, looking down, and there’s pink in his cheeks. “I really like her? It’s still new. I don’t know.”
“Aw,” Seungcheol coos, drawing out the noise and reaching to pinch at Seokmin’s cheek. “Seokminnie loves a girl,” he sing-songs, but he keeps his voice down, out of anyone else’s earshot. Seokmin looks up at him with an unimpressed glare, but his cheeks are still flushed, embarrassed.
“Bring her around sometime, though,” Seungcheol tells him more seriously. “She seems nice.”
Seokmin nods, looking over at Yuna, who’s groaning as Yerin fixes her hair for her, with a grin. “Okay. I will.”
They’re quiet, looking out at the group they’re here for, who are gathered around each other on the edge of the dance floor of the bar. “Soonyoung’s gonna kill you for not telling him, you know,” Seungcheol mutters, and Seokmin groans.
“Jisoo,” Seungcheol says softly, thumb brushing against Jisoo’s shoulderblade.
Jisoo shifts, blinks his eyelashes against Seungcheol’s skin before looking up at him. “Yeah?”
“You guys don’t really talk about your families much,” Seungcheol says carefully. He’s not sure how much to probe, what to ask about, but it’s something he’s noticed. Besides his sister (who Seungcheol has met, now, and can attest to Jisoo’s summary of her character, and his own initial reaction — she is dangerous), Jeonghan hasn’t mentioned his family since their first morning after, and it was buried in passing, and they didn’t know each other well enough for him to ask. But he’s curious.
“Oh,” Jisoo mutters, moving so that he’s at eye level with Seungcheol. “I guess not, really.” He doesn’t say anything after that, and Seungcheol tries not to look too expectant. Jisoo hums, turning onto his back. “There are reasons. Wanna know them?”
Seungcheol wants to know everything about them. It’s just that he isn’t good at knowing when to ask. So he nods, leaning in close to Jisoo’s side.
“We moved here when I was fourteen, for family stuff,” Jisoo starts, then pauses for a moment. “It was my grandpa, actually. He was really sick, and my dad wanted to move him out to California but he wouldn’t leave Korea. We don’t have much other family here anymore, everyone immigrated, and my dad was the only one who would move back. It was kind of intense, actually,” Jisoo laughs quietly. Seungcheol nods, running a hand across the thin fabric of Jisoo’s t-shirt, hoping he’s reassuring. “So we moved here, and my dad took care of his dad while he was sick. And it was kind of like...it was sad, obviously. My dad was sad and my mom was sad because she had no one here, her parents were born in America, and I was barely fluent in Korean and didn’t know Hangul. So it was weird and sad.”
Jisoo hums again, and Seungcheol interrupts, “You don’t have to tell me this, if you don’t want to.”
But Jisoo just gives him a small smile, a little sad at the edges. “No, it’s okay. It’s nothing terrible, it’s just not a story I tell that often. Anyway, it got better. We got used to it, as a family, and it was okay. My Hangul got better, but my handwriting’s still terrible. I went to high school. I met Jeonghan. We were friends for a couple years then we kissed one time and,” Jisoo waves his hand dismissively. “Things escalated.”
“Clearly,” Seungcheol mutters.
Jisoo snorts. “That’s a whole other story,” he laughs quietly, before he goes on in a more sad voice. “My grandpa stayed sick and then when I was eighteen, he died.”
Seungcheol stops grinning and stills his hand on Jisoo’s stomach. “Oh. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Jisoo says, and he sounds like he means it. “We weren’t very close or anything. I didn’t really even get to know him while I was here. But it was sad, and then after, it kind of changed things. He’s the only reason we were here, and it was kind of like, alright let’s move back to California.”
“But you’re still here,” Seungcheol mutters uselessly.
Jisoo nods. “Yeah. I’m still here. I got into college here, and my parents told me I could stay, or go to school back home. So I stayed.” He says it simply, with a shrug, but it’s not that simple, Seungcheol knows.
“Wow,” Seungcheol mutters. There’s a lot unspoken there, and after I stayed, it’s hard for Seungcheol to not fill in the rest of the sentence. I stayed for Jeonghan.
“But since we’re being honest, I never applied to schools back home,” Jisoo says with a laugh. “Not a single one. I don’t regret it, but it was kind of stupid.” He pauses and laughs again, shaking his head. “So yeah. They live in California again and we don’t talk that much. I mean, I love them, it’s just harder. I message my mom a lot, though.”
Seungcheol nods. “Do they know about Jeonghan?” He asks softly.
“I think they figured it out more than anything. We’ve never talked about it, but they know we live together. My mom asks about him all the time, it’s nice,” Jisoo says with a grin. He turns back onto his side, facing Seungcheol, looking content, mostly. But his face shifts when he says, “They were really good to Jeonghan when we were in high school. It’s not really my story to tell, but. He doesn’t talk to his parents anymore.”
Seungcheol’s stomach drops. “Oh.”
Jisoo nods, not saying anything for a moment. “His sister’s not supposed to talk to him either, but she’s too good of a person. She’s too much like him.”
It’s quiet; Seungcheol has a pit in his stomach, and he’s not sure what to say. “Sorry for bringing it all up,” he lands on.
It makes Jisoo shake his head. “No, really, it’s okay. I don’t know if Jeonghan would want to talk about it if you asked, but. I’m fine. Like I said, it doesn’t come up much, so it’s weird to explain. We don’t talk about family much because…” Jisoo laughs a little. “It’s corny, but we’re kind of used to only having each other.”
Something clicks into place for Seungcheol at that, some explanation for the way Jisoo and Jeonghan care for each other, the way they trust each other. He doesn’t know what to say to Jisoo, so he leans into the crook of his neck instead, pressing a kiss there absentmindedly. He has more questions, he wants to hear every story, but he feels like he’ll get a chance to. Not now, but sometime.
“So what’s your story, then?” Jisoo asks him, twisting his head to grin at Seungcheol.
“I don’t have a story, really,” Seungcheol says with a chuckle.
Jisoo nudges him. “You do. You have a bunch, I bet. What about your parents?”
Seungcheol shrugs. “We’re pretty close. They’re good people. My older brother’s gay, which is a fun coincidence. He told them when I was still in middle school, so by the time I got around to kissing boys, it was old news.”
Jisoo smiles at that. “That’s nice, though. Are you guys close?”
“He lives in Daegu, but we talk a lot,” Seungcheol nods. They lie quietly for a while, Jisoo’s hands mussing through Seungcheol’s hair over and over again. It’s a nice kind of repetitive motion and it makes him feel sleepy again.
It’s just after eleven when Jeonghan comes home, and Seungcheol startles from a half-sleep at the sound of the door. He can hear Jeonghan humming something, his voice drifting in and out as he walks around the apartment before finally appearing in the doorway.
“Lazy,” he accuses with a little sigh, but he’s smiling at them, leaned in the doorframe.
Seungcheol snorts. “You’re one to talk.”
Jeonghan sticks his tongue out before walking in and unbuttoning his work shirt, which has a bright pink stain on the sleeve. “A bottle of raspberry syrup attacked me,” he explains with a grimace. He tosses his work clothes at the hamper and pulls his hair out of its ponytail before bouncing down onto the bed between them in his boxers.
“You smell like work,” Jisoo complains, scrunching his nose, but he repositions himself so he’s nestled against Jeonghan’s side.
“We need to go grocery shopping, Jisoo-yah,” Jeonghan says, but he leans further into the bed, like he’s trying to become one with it.
Jisoo groans quietly. “Later. I don’t want to get up yet.”
“Well good, I don’t want to get up ever again,” Jeonghan says quietly, reaching down to lace his fingers with Jisoo’s. Seungcheol’s watching them, warm at the sight, and it takes him by surprise when Jeonghan puts his other hand in Seungcheol’s. He’s overwhelmed for a moment by the sheer fact that he gets to be a part of something like them, something as good as they are.
He doesn’t know the right timing, the right circumstances to tell two people he loves them, so he chooses this moment, blurted out like it’s urgent as he glances between them. “I’m in love with you.” He blushes after he says it and Jisoo and Jeonghan are just staring at him, swallows loud.
But then Jeonghan swings a leg over Seungcheol, pressed against him, and he’s smiling down at him in the small, quiet way that he doesn’t do often. It feels special, and he’s buzzing with it.
“Love you too,” Jisoo says in his soft voice, so kind. He reaches to where Seungcheol and Jeonghan are still holding hands and places his on top, his thumb stroking softly.
Jeonghan turns to him with a pout. “Why’d you get to say it first? I wanted to.”
“Well, you should have, then. You were busy climbing him,” Jisoo teases quietly with a smirk aimed at Seungcheol.
“Rude. You’re so rude. I love you more than him, Seungcheol,” Jeonghan insists loudly, making a face at Jisoo.
“It’s not a competition,” Jisoo says with a laugh.
“If it was, I would win.”
“Stop,” Jisoo urges, but he’s laughing properly now, and it urges Jeonghan on.
“I would win in the boyfriend olympics.”
“What’s your event?” Seungcheol asks with a grin.
Jeonghan pauses, apparently thinking. “I don’t know. What do I bring to the table?” He looks between the two of them for an answer.
“Well, you can’t cook, you’re a slob, you’re mean and you’re lazy,” Jisoo recites off, looking amused. “You’re a good kisser though.”
“Great. I’ll get the gold in kissing, and you can get the gold for all the boring stuff, but my gold is worth way more than yours because it’s more fun, so overall —” Jeonghan is cut off by Jisoo pulling him off of Seungcheol roughly, fingers moving over the side of his ribcage and making Jeonghan wriggle.
“Shua, stop!” Jeonghan cries out through a loud, pained laugh. “This isn’t cute, tickling isn’t — cute —” He kicks without precision and manages to hit both Jisoo and Seungcheol at once. They share a simultaneous groan as Jeonghan looks over at Jisoo with a glare; Jisoo looks back unapologetic, smiling broadly.
“I can’t believe this, I can’t believe the kind of treatment I get,” Jeonghan grumbles, sounding like he’s at the start of a long bout of complaints. Seungcheol cuts him off before he gets too much steam, shifting himself over to kiss Jeonghan. He stops talking, then, and just grins when Seungcheol pulls away with a laugh. Jisoo’s laughing too, loud and happy, and looking between the two of them makes Seungcheol feel full in a good way, in the best way.
“C’mon, if you love us so much, come grocery shopping with us,” Jeonghan says, still smiling at Seungcheol.
“No, I don’t wanna get out of bed yet,” Jisoo whines, rolling over on top of Jeonghan.
“Well, grab the covers, then. We can take a nap,” Jeonghan suggests quietly next to Jisoo’s ear.
It’s easy for Seungcheol to pull the covers up around them and it’s easy for him to settle in against Jeonghan’s skin, Jisoo’s hand on his back. Seungcheol’s finding it easier and easier to be happy, these days.
They fall into a routine. Seungcheol falls in love, and Jeonghan and Jisoo catch him on his way down. This one, Seungcheol thinks, is going to stick.