Rating: R (I put R for the warnings below, just in case, but apart from that it’s quite tame)
Length: ~11500 words
Side pairings: slight Sehun/Baekhyun, slight Kai/Baekhyun
Summary: Jongin has watched Sehun go through boyfriend after boyfriend, scumbag after scumbag, and it’s killing him. It’s hard enough to see it happen to your best friend, let alone the boy you’re in love with.
Warning(s): [Click]language, mentions of infidelity and domestic violence but nothing graphic
Notes: Dear capturedhear_t, I’ve really enjoyed writing this and I hope that you enjoy reading it! I admit I had to stop myself getting carried away with this prompt. I tried to make it not too cliché, but I’ll let you be the judge of that…
It’s still dark outside when Jongin wakes up. Groaning he rolls over and fumbles for his phone to check the time. 3:15. Fuck. Why is he awake? He only got to sleep three hours ago, admittedly thanks to him being a lazy bastard and putting off his history essay ‘til the last minute, but even so he would really, really like not to be awake right now.
There’s a sharp rap at the window, a stone tapping against the glass. Shit. Immediately he scrambles out of bed and lurches towards the window because there’s only one person he knows dickish enough to throw rocks at his window at stupid-o-clock in the morning and it’s never a good sign when it happens.
He pulls back the curtains and sure enough standing on his lawn, glowing amber-soft in the street lamps, is Sehun, looking like the poster child for desolation. He’s shivering in the thin t-shirt that stretches tight over his sharp bony shoulders. He looks as beautiful as ever, honeyed shadows cast over the sharp planes of his face, but his eyes are hollow and blank and Jongin is hit with a jolt of worry.
It’s bad this time, Jongin can tell. Really bad.
Jongin throws on a pair of sweatpants from his floor and tiptoes as fast as he can down to the front door, almost tripping over his own feet in his haste. He all but throws the door open. Sehun stands in the porch, head bowed, but it does nothing to hide the red mark that blossoms on his cheek.
“Hey.” Sehun whispers. His bottom lip trembles.
Wordlessly Jongin holds his arms open in invitation and Sehun flings himself into his embrace with a strangled sob. He buries his face into the crook of Jongin’s neck and they stand there like that for a while, Sehun wracked with the force of unvoiced cries and Jongin holding him, heart aching for his best friend.
“You wanna talk about it?” He whispers after Sehun’s stopped shaking.
He feels, more than hears, the ‘no’ murmured against his skin.
“Let’s sleep then, ‘kay?”
“’Kay.” Sehun mumbles.
He manhandles Sehun up the stairs. It’s difficult, because Sehun’s clingier than a baby octopus, as tall as Jongin and seemingly made entirely of sharp, pointy bones, but Jongin’s got years of practice on his side. Jongin is an expert Sehun-handler.
He sets Sehun down on his bed and goes to rifle through his drawers for a clean set of sweatpants. By the time he turns around, sweats in hand, Sehun has already shucked off his jeans and is lying face up on Jongin’s bed, arm thrown over his eyes. Jongin can’t help but let his eyes wander, taking in his impossibly long, lean legs. Underneath Sehun’s bony arm the mark on mark on stands out, red and angry, and Jongin grits his teeth in rage.
He throws the sweatpants at Sehun’s face before he can start to get too angry because he needs to focus on Sehun right now. That bastard can wait. Just before they’re set to reach their target Sehun’s hand shoots out to catch them and he turns his head to crack an eye open and glare at Jongin. Jongin just grins.
“You’re a dick.” Sehun says without force as he shimmies into Jonin’s sweats. Jongin idly thinks that he should be used to the way Sehun writhes his way into his clothes by now, but nope. He’s not. Not even close.
If Jongin’s face is doing something weird Sehun doesn’t seem to notice, simply worms his way under the blankets and pats what is unofficially Jongin’s side of the bed because Sehun has a tendency to fall out when not hemmed in on all sides and Jongin doesn’t care what side he’s on as long as he gets to sleep.
“You coming or what? I’m cold.” Sehun whines.
Jongin rolls his eyes, but slides in beside him. Immediately Sehun wraps himself round Jongin like poison ivy and Jongin has to force himself not to stiffen up because Sehun has once again buried his face in Jongin’s neck and he’s so close that his soft breaths skim across Jongin’s skin like pebbles across a still lake. He’s so close that Jongin can feel the brush of Sehun’s eyelashes against the underside of his jaw, gentle butterfly kisses.
“Comfy?” He says snippily, trying to distract himself from Sehun’s gentle assault on his senses. His voice sounds a little strained to him, but Sehun doesn’t seem to notice, just hums contentedly.
It doesn’t take Sehun long to get to sleep, it never does, but Jongin stays lying there for a long while, thoughts of rage and retribution swirling in his head.
The next day Jongin is woken up by Sehun jamming his finger into his belly button and yelling ‘wake up’ so loud Jongin thinks he might have broken Jongin’s ears.
“M’up.” Jongin mumbles, barely coherent.
“Make me breakfast.” Sehun whines in his ear.
“Dun wanna.” Sehun gives a particularly vicious jab to Jongin’s belly-button and Jongin silently says goodbye to the idea of any more sleep. He rolls over to look at his clock and groans. 9am. Why.
“Why, Sehun. Why.” He groans.
Sehun just giggles and starts dragging him bodily out of bed, ignoring Jongin’s half-hearted grumbling. He lets Sehun lead him downstairs to the kitchen and then wanders round picking up things to make breakfast. His culinary skills only extend to toast or cereal, so that’s what Sehun’s getting.
He plonks the rather pathetic-looking breakfast down in front of them – mm, dry toast (they don’t have anything to put on it) and coffee with no milk because there’s only his sister’s soy milk left.
“Mmm, breakfast of champions.” Sehun snarks. Jongin flips him the bird.
“It’s either this or air.”
Sehun pretends to contemplate it and Jongin reaches over the table to flick his forehead on instinct because he deserves it for being such a prick. Sehun can’t even make toast. As he draws back he notices how Sehun’s cheek has turned a nasty smudge of purple and Sehun notices him staring.
“It was my boyfriend.” Sehun says blithely, round a mouthful of toast.
“I hope he’s your ex-boyfriend.” Jongin shoots back just as nonchalantly. Inside, he’s ready to kill, but Sehun hates confrontation. He’s like a hermit crab. You have to coax him out.
“There wasn’t exactly much time.” Sehun stirs his coffee absentmindedly.
Jongin stares at him from across the table, waiting for him to elaborate but Sehun refuses to meet his eyes.
“It’s really not that bad.” Sehun says instead. “You know I bruise easily.”
“Don’t make excuses for him.”
“I wasn’t.” Sehun insists.
Sehun gets up to take his plate to the sink. Jongin follows him and helps Sehun wash up the dishes by wrapping his arms round Sehun’s waist and resting his chin on Sehun’s shoulder.
“So what happened?” Jongin asks cautiously.
Sehun doesn’t pause from washing the plates. “I found him with some other guy, got mad, called him some stuff and he punched me. End of story.” He intones monotonously.
Jongin is absolutely horrified. “No, not end of story, Sehun. ”
“I said, end of story, Jongin.” Sehun hisses. He places the plate particularly violently on the draining board. Jongin flinches.
“Sorry.” Sehun mutters. “I didn’t mean to make you jump, it’s just… Let’s not talk about it anymore. I already told you what happened.”
Jongin doesn’t really count a three-second-story as an explanation of what happened and Jongin definitely thinks they really should talk about it, because it’s not healthy to keep things bottled up (and he would know). However he can feel Sehun tensing up under his palms, coiling himself in, readying himself to bolt, and he decides to back down. His uncle always tells him he should pick his battles, and Jongin already sees that this is not one he can win – best to retreat for now, save his energy for another day.
“S’okay.” Jongin grins against Sehun’s shoulder. “You can make it up to me by coming to the store with me.”
“No. I look like shit.” Sehun refuses.
Sehun has finished stacking the plates on the side, but they continue standing at the sink, Jongin’s arms around Sehun’s waist and Sehun resting his over Jongin’s.
“C’mon,” Jongin wheedles, “my sister’s away for the weekend and I’m sure she’s got some pasty-ass concealer or something we can use. Then we’re going to buy popcorn and tubs of ice cream and sit at home and watch shitty movies all day, got it?”
Sehun laughs and punches him in the arm. “Pasty-ass?”
“Not my fault you look like you’re descended from vampires.” Jongin sniffs.
Sehun leans his head back against Jongin’s shoulder and squeezes the hands at his waist. “Thanks, Jonginnie.”
Jongin knows he’s not talking about the vampire comment, but he pretends Sehun is and doesn’t make a deal out of it. He has to pick his battles and today he’ll settle for making Sehun feel better.
Sehun is not perfect. He’s prickly and stubborn and self-critical, to start with. Then there’s the clinginess, the sulkiness, the way he lashes out when he gets defensive. The list isn’t short, by any means, but by far the worst thing about Sehun is how single-mindedly he throws himself into things. He has a tendency to be very all or nothing. The latter is not something his friends get to see very often, simply because Sehun doesn’t give a shit 99 percent of the time, but Jongin knows it’s there. He saw it when Sehun decided (aged 9) that he too needed dance lessons and he sees it now with Sehun’s boyfriends.
Sehun isn’t capable of half-heartedly doing anything. He gives everything or he gives nothing and Jongin would never want to change that about him because he loves Sehun – all of Sehun – even the bits that make him want to tear his hair out and scream with frustration.
However, he’d be lying if he didn’t say it hurts when Sehun gets a new boyfriend and gives them everything, leaving nothing for Jongin. They go from seeing each other every night to maybe once a week, always late at night, when Sehun has managed to sneak away from his newest beau, and it leaves him empty. He doesn’t mean to, Jongin knows. He just wants to please his boyfriends and because the guys Sehun goes for are insecure, controlling arseholes they go out of their way to make sure Sehun sees as little of his friends as possible. Especially Jongin.
Personally, Jongin finds this laughable because he’s so far from Sehun’s type it’s unreal and has absolutely no hope at getting Sehun’s attention like that, but Sehun’s boyfriends don’t see it that way. All they see is a guy really close to their boyfriend and that means he’s a threat.
Then, inevitably, the relationship ends and Sehun reappears back in his life like a daffodil blooming after the long winter – bright and loud – and they’re back to doing everything together. For a while, anyway. Sometimes Jongin dares to let himself hope that he gets to keep his best friend, that Sehun’s relationship hiatus might be a little more permanent this time, but it never is. A couple of weeks later Sehun will come to school with a stupid, dopey grin on his face and Jongin will feel his heart sink in his chest.
He knows what’s coming next. Sehun will start spending more and more time with them until he almost disappears. Jongin will only see him in school. Jongin will feel like half of him is missing. Then it will all start to go wrong. Then Sehun will appear on his lawn at stupid-o-clock in the morning broken and aching and Jongin will have to try to piece him back together while inside he’s just as broken himself. And then they’ll be back at the beginning again.
Rinse, wash, repeat.
The first time the pain Jongin felt was like a knife to the gut. Unbearable. Like he was being torn apart. At the time they were fifteen and Jongin hadn’t understood that he’d done wrong that his best friend would ditch him for some guy. He hadn’t realised he hadn’t done anything. He didn’t know that this was the only way Sehun knew how to love.
Those realisations came two or three cycles later.
After that the pain morphed into the dull ache of a thousand paper cuts laced across his skin – an ever-present throb that he can live with, but cannot ignore. Every time he moves, every time he breathes, the wounds reopen and weep until Sehun is back with him and giving Jongin his everything again.
His friends at school don’t notice. As far as they’re concerned as long as Jongin and Sehun are still stealing each other’s lunch and pushing Kyungsoo’s buttons and begging Joonmyeon to copy his homework everything must be okay. Sehun never really hangs out with them after school anyway because he has a boyfriend or he has Jongin. Jongin doesn’t either because he’s either frantically trying to make the most of his time with Sehun before he pulls his vanishing act or he’s busy trying to forget that Sehun has pulled his vanishing act and trying to catch up on all the things he’s put off doing to spend more time with Sehun.
It really is a fucked up cycle. Jongin only wishes he knew how to stop it.
The only one of Sehun’s boyfriends who wasn’t a complete dick was Baekhyun. And Jongin does mean the complete dick thing because as much as he likes Baekhyun, he is a dick. The dating-someone-while-still-in-love-with-s
Somehow though, he and Sehun had managed to stay friends. Baekhyun had wormed his way into their friendship group with his big grin and cheeky remarks and had been impossible to get rid of, no matter how much Kyungsoo tried and to be honest Kai doesn’t mind him so much, most of the time. He’d even felt sorry for him for all of ten seconds when he told them he’d broken up with his boyfriend before remembering that Baekhyun is a grade A douchebag.
The evidence is this: now that Baekhyun is single and lonely, he feels it very necessary to talk about his sex life and all the sex he’s not having and wishes he were having. Very loudly. In the cafeteria. Worse, he feels that he needs to involve all his friends too and seeing as Sehun is the only one with an active sex life, this mostly means Sehun. Sehun, being Sehun, is not particularly disposed to answer, but Baekhyun has this way of weaselling info out of people which means that Jongin ends up hearing more than he ever wanted to.
He’s mostly got over being jealous of Sehun’s boyfriends (it was step 3 of his failed ‘Get Over Sehun’ plan B) but he could really do without the mental images that talking about Sehun’s sex life brings. There’s only so many times he can excuse himself to the bathroom to let himself calm down before it starts looking like he has some sort of bowel condition, and knowing his friends (namely Baekhyun and Jongdae) they would take great pleasure announcing to the entire school that Jongin has the shits.
Jongin does not have the shits, okay. He has a best friend who’s too sexy for his own good. They’re not even vaguely the same thing, even if both of them do produce strange bubbly feelings in his tummy.
He thinks Baekhyun’s starting to catch on. He keeps sending Jongin calculating looks whenever Sehun starts talking about his latest dickbag and Jongin doesn’t like it. Being the object of Baek-hyung’s scrutiny is never a good thing especially now Baekhyun has time on his hands due to his single status. Just look at Chanyeol. Jongin’s pretty sure that Baekhyun has his balls held hostage in a jar somewhere in his room or something because he has never seen someone so whipped in his life without sex being involved. Never. (And he knows that there’s no sex involved because Chanyeol is painfully straight and Baekhyun tells them on a regular basis that he’d rather drink arsenic than kiss Chanyeol).
Baekhyun had explained it to them once. They were all drunk off their faces and lying on the trampoline in Joonmyeon’s back garden and Jongin had thought it a load of rubbish even despite being three sheets to the wind.
“You know how soulmates are two halves of a soul, right?” Baekhyun had slurred. “Like, someone just took a soul and ripped it in two? Well when they rip they don’t rip all the same way, see – usually you get more of one thing or another on one side and less on the other. ‘Cept me and Chanyeol. We’re not like that. We split pretty even so be can’t be together like that ‘cause we’re too similar, you know? It’d never work – we need someone to balance us out.”
“How about a psychiatrist.” Kyungsoo had muttered under his breath.
Baekhyun blatantly ignored him and just continued rambling drunkenly, “Chanyeol is my best friend and my soulmate and I want to spend of my life by his side but the thought of touching his dick makes me wanna puke and that’s not just the amount of alcohol I’ve consumed tonight.”
Jongin had snorted incredulously. Sehun had been playing with Jongin’s fingers with an intense look on his face and had been startled by the noise.
“Hey.” Jongin had whispered. “What’re you thinking about?”
Sehun had given him the softest, prettiest smile Jongin had ever seen from him and linked their fingers together.
“Chanyeollie-hyung.” He had said, and Jongin felt a momentary stab of jealousy that Sehun’s angel-smile had been for Chanyeol.
Jongin hadn’t shown it, though. Jongin just had smiled back. “He’s pretty pathetic, isn’t he?”
“Poor guy.” Sehun had snickered.
This tale also explains why Jongin does not want to be the next Chanyeol. One, he likes his balls where they are, and two, he’s pretty pathetic as it is (what with the ‘being in love with his hopelessly clueless best friend’ thing) without Baekhyun getting involved.
A week after Jongin thinks Baekhyun has caught on Jongin meets his doom. Jongin’s just minding his own business, casually taking a piss, when he hears the door to the bathroom slam in the background. Normally he wouldn’t think anything of it. It’s a bathroom. People need to do their business. Doors slam sometimes. Except he doesn’t hear any footsteps walking in, nor the tell-tale swish of a zip being pulled down and it’s then he realises that whoever this is has another reason for being in this bathroom. A cold chill runs down his spine.
Apprehensive he turns to look over his shoulder, hands frozen on his dick. Baekhyun leans against the wall, one foot propped up against the tiles.
“So.” Baekhyun drawls. “Sehun, huh? You don’t need to deny it.”
Baekhyun kicks off the wall and slinks towards Jongin like a panther advancing on its prey. Jongin hastily tucks himself back into his pants and zips himself up because if he has to have this conversation (and he’d really, really rather not but Baekhyun has the exit blocked, the bastard) he’s definitely not going to have it with his dick hanging out.
“Deny what?” He manages to squeak out.
Baekhyun shrugs. “Oh, just that you’re in love with him.”
Jongin pales. He’s said it before in his head but it doesn’t compare to how the words sound out loud, out in the open for everyone to hear. He feels slightly sick.
Baekhyun interprets his sudden lack of colour as fear and continues, “Don’t worry. You’ve been reasonably subtle about it which means that Sehun has absolutely no idea.”
“Don’t tell him.” Jongin blurts out, desperately. “Please, hyung. Don’t tell him.”
“Of course I won’t.” Baekhyun sniffs. “You should though.”
“What?” Jongin says, appalled. “No!”
Baekhyun sighs, as if Jongin is the unreasonable one, despite the fact that between the two of them Jongin is not the one cornering people in bathrooms.
“Let’s not discuss it here.” Baekhyun sniffs. “This place smells of piss and misery.”
This rather assumes that there will be a discussion.
“I’d rather not.” Jongin says, backing away slowly.
“I’ll treat you to that all-you-can-eat buffet down the road from school.”
Jongin really likes that buffet. Sehun, you traitor. He thinks viciously in his mind. Why’d you tell him my weakness?
“What about last period?” He tries. Jongin’s really desperate now. It’s not that he’s never skipped – he has, him and Sehun go up and have naps on the roof together all the time – but Baekhyun is very obviously not Sehun. And he wants to discuss Jongin’s feelings.
Baekhyun rolls his eyes. “You’re not getting out of this. Now wash your hands you cretin and let me buy you some chicken.”
The walk to the buffet place is oddly silent. Jongin has never seen this side of Baekhyun before – he always comes across as a bit of a troll, but Jongin likes this Baekhyun more – the one who hums as he walks and checks the road twice before he crosses. When Baekhyun’s like this, Jongin can almost see what Sehun saw in him.
When they get there Baekhyun silently leads him to a corner near the back and sets down his school stuff.
“Let’s get something to eat first.” He says. “I’m famished – Chanyeol wouldn’t share his lunch with me today.”
Jongin nods, still not sure what to say to this quiet Baekhyun, and begins to load up his plate until it looks like he’s been told he’s not going to eat for days. He’s always been a stress eater. Surprisingly, Baekhyun does the same and they wobble their way back to their table with laden plates. They start to eat in silence. It’s weird.
“Why are you so quiet?” Jongin blurts out round a mouthful of chicken. Bits of chicken fly out over the table but instead of being prissy about it like Jongin would have expected, Baekhyun just laughs and pretends to brush his food down like it has dust on it.
“I can be quiet when I want to be.” He grins.
“Then why aren’t you quiet at school?” Jongin asks, confused.
Baekhyun smirks. “Because I don’t want to be.”
“Ah, ah, ah!” Baekhyun tsks. “We aren’t here for me. Maybe after we talk about you I’ll answer that question.”
Jongin stuffs his face with more chicken to avoid answering. He was really hoping Baekhyun would forget about that.
“You should tell him.” Baekhyun starts. “You’d be good for him.”
“Hyung, please.” Jongin begs. “Sehun doesn’t want me like that. I don’t want to make things difficult for him – he doesn’t need that.”
“He doesn’t need to be going out with a bunch of douchebags either.” Baekhyun argues.
“I don’t like it either, but I can’t do anything about it.”
“But you can.” Baekhyun insists, eyes shining. “He’d go out with you if you asked him too, I know it. It’d be perfect – you’d get your guy and Sehun’d get a boyfriend who doesn’t treat him like crap and you’d live happily ever after. It’s a win-win situation.”
And for a minute there Jongin’d been fooled into thinking Baekhyun was a decent guy.
“What part of Sehun doesn’t like me like that don’t you get?” Jongin snaps. “I’m sure he’d go out with me too, but it wouldn’t be because he likes me. It’d be because he feels like he has to – like he’d lose me if he didn’t or something equally dumb – and that’d make me exactly the same as all the other bastard who took advantage of him and I won’t do it..”
Jongin stands up and throws his napkin down on the table in front of Baekhyun’s face.
“Thank you for the meal, hyung.” Jongin says. “But I don’t think we have anything more to discuss.”
He moves to storm out of the restaurant but Baekhyun scrambles out of his chair and grabs his arm. Jongin winces – his grips is surprisingly strong for someone so seemingly small and delicate.
“I’m sorry, Jongin.” He says, worrying his bottom lip. “I get a bit carried away sometimes. Chanyeol told me it was a bad idea, but I wouldn’t listen to him.”
He wants to say something snarky like ‘Chanyeol is capable of independent thought? He’s not just your mind-slave?’ but he doesn’t. Baekhyun really does look sorry, and Jongin does see where he’s coming from. He just wants Sehun to be happy, and not going through relationships with guys that don’t even deserve to kiss the ground he walks on. Jongin can relate.
“It’s okay.” Jongin sits back down and Baekhyun’s face is painted with relief. “But no more talk of my feelings, okay?” He says, mock sternly.
“Okay.” Baekhyun giggles. “You’re a really good guy, Jongin. I really wish he could’ve have fallen for you instead.”
Jongin smiles awkwardly. “I thought we said no talking more about feelings?”
“You’re right.” Baekhyun mimes zipping up his lips and throwing away the key. “I’ll say no more on the subject.”
Jongin feels his smile morph into something more natural.
“Good, you were starting to put me off my chicken.” He jokes.
Baekhyun laughs good-naturedly, nothing like his usual cackle at lunchtime and puts a hand over his heart. “Never let it be said that I came between a man and his chicken!” He booms overdramatically, waving around a wing like it were a sceptre, and Jongin finds himself attempting to laugh at Baekhyun round a mouthful of thigh and choking instead.
The meal continues in much the same way – Baekhyun being much quieter that his usual self (or perhaps this is his usual self) but still witty and funny. He occasionally makes smart comments about one of their classmates or teachers or tells stories about what he and Chanyeol got up to before they joined the group and Jongin joins in with stories of Sehun before Baekhyun knew him. It’s all really, really nice. Jongin thinks he could be friends with this Baekhyun.
“Hyung, why aren’t you like this all the time?” He asks on the way back to school, belly full and aching and sated. “You’re so different at lunch – I’d almost believe you had an evil twin or something.”
Baekhyun looks sheepish when Jongin brings it up. “I know.” He grins. “Channie and Sehun hate it when I pull my ‘Bitch-Baek’ act but I just can’t help it, it’s just too much fun.”
“What is?” Jongin asks, nose scrunched up in confusion. He doesn’t really see what’s so fun about making people think he’s an obnoxious dick and being treated like an annoyance.
“Kyungsoo’s angry face.” Baekhyun sighs. “Isn’t it the best thing ever?”
As soon as he finishes Baekhyun’s expression morphs into something positively demonic and Jongin suddenly feels very glad that Baekhyun has decided to be friends, not enemies.
Jongin starts hanging out with Baekhyun a lot more after that. When he’s away from Kyungsoo and Jongdae he’s actually pretty chill, especially if Chanyeol’s there to dress him down when he starts going too far. Actually Chanyeol’s pretty cool too, and has much more spine than Jongin had previously given him credit for, even if sometimes his jokes are so bad he’s pretty sure Chanyeol’s the only one laughing. Maybe Baek’s not the reason he doesn’t have a girlfriend after all.
He enjoys their company so much he’s taken to hanging out with them during his free periods, which means that, because he has last period free on the days he has dance class, Sehun actually has to come and find him on the roof to go to dance practice rather than him waiting for Sehun like he normally does.
Dance practice is Jongin’s favourite part of the week. It sometimes feels like it’s the only place he gets to be free, away from his parents’ critical eyes and the pressure of keeping his stupid feelings from his best friend. He also gets to see Sehun dancing. People always say that Jongin becomes a different person when he dances (they say he becomes sexy which he personally doesn’t understand, because is he not always sexy?) but Sehun takes it to a whole other level. Gone is the gangly, mischievous boy and in his place is a man, intense and powerful. Jongin finds he loves them both.
The choreography for the next show is frighteningly fast and devilishly complex. It’ll look amazing when they’ve got it all down, Jongin’s sure, but for now all it is is sore muscles and aching bones and pure frustration. There’s this one move that everyone’s struggling with, especially Sehun. Jongin knows that it takes a little bit longer for Sehun to pick things up than the rest so he likes to get the moves down as quick as possible so that they can practise together. This time he pushes himself a little too hard.
Kick, turn, step.
Step, step twist-
Pain fires up his side and all at once he’s falling to the ground like a slow-mo in an action film. He lands heavily on his hip and he grunts because it really fucking hurts. He grabs uselessly at his waist. He can feel himself start to panic because the pain is intense and he can barely breathe.
Sehun’s face fills his vision. He presses his hand over Jongin’s where it’s clutching at his side and just that simple touch is enough to start grounding him.
“Breathe, Jonginnie.” Sehun orders, voice calm. “Breathe for me, ‘kay?”
Jongin breathes. He closes his eyes and lets Sehun’s directions of ‘in’ and ‘out’ wash over him and slowly the pain starts to recede. His eyes flicker open and once again Sehun’s face swims into view. He’s lying on his side next to Jongin, arm pillowed on his head and eyes fixed on Jongin’s face, looking intently for signs of discomfort. Jongin realises that Sehun has been gently stroking his wrist with his thumb, soft circles that make him feel very calm.
“Do you think you can move?” Sehun whispers, thumbs never stopping its gentle caress. His expression is fixed in its usual poker face but Jongin can see the tension at the corner of Sehun’s eyes that belie what he’s really feeling. Sehun is worried.
Jongin nods, feeling a little overwhelmed by Sehun’s concern.
Sehun helps him roll over onto his back and then, when Jongin gives him the signal, up to sitting. Jongin is suddenly very aware that the other members of the group are watching them with barely concealed interest and he’s silently thankful that his tanned skin means that when he blushes it doesn’t show so much. Sehun, being Sehun, doesn’t pay them any attention at all, completely focussed on Jongin and keeping him upright.
“Think you can stand up?” He murmurs.
“Not by myself.” Jongin admits.
It’s only then that Sehun looks away to scan the room.
“Yixing.” He calls. “Come give us a hand?”
There’s some shuffling as Sehun positions himself on Jongin’s injured side and Yixing scurries to the other side. Together they raise Jongin to standing. Yixing lets him go. Sehun doesn’t, and his hand feels hot around Jongin’s waist.
“You ready to go?” He whispers in Jongin’s ear and then Jongin feels hot all over.
Jongin doesn’t entirely trust himself to give a coherent reply so he simply lays a hand over Sehun’s and squeezes. Sehun gets the message and slowly they start to make their way through their classmates and out of the studio. Yixing watches them go with curious eyes and Jongin realises that he’s probably never seen this side of Sehun before – the caring, gentle side he hides under a veil of indifference and sarcasm.
Irrationally, Jongin feels a little sad. This was a part of his Sehun – the one only he is privy to. He’s sure that none of Sehun’s boyfriends have seen Sehun like Jongin has, not even Baekhyun, and a tiny part of him mourns the loss of something that was theirs – his and Sehun’s – only.
At the same time he’s happy. Jongin doesn’t want to hide Sehun away like some of his arsehole boyfriends have done – they kept him under lock and key because they were afraid he’d run away – because Sehun deserves so much more than that. No, Jongin wants to show Sehun to the whole world. He wants to let everyone see how amazing Sehun is when he’s not trying to pretend he’s unbreakable – have them wonder at how beautiful he is, inside and out. He wants the world to fall in love with Sehun like he has.
But they aren’t boyfriends, and Jongin doesn’t have the right to share Sehun with the world because Sehun isn’t his to do so. He shouldn’t even be thinking about it. He should be trying to forget how much he loves Sehun. Sometimes he thinks he’s managed it, and then Sehun goes and does things like this and all the love comes rushing back in like a tsunami, filling him up until he can barely breathe with the painful intensity of it.
“Are you okay?” Sehun’s voice knocks Jongin out of his reverie. “You were breathing funny.”
Jongin gives him a smile that looks more like a grimace. “Fine.” You take my breath away, that’s all. Yeah, right, like he could ever tell Sehun that.
Sehun doesn’t look like he buys Jongin being ‘fine’ for a second, but he lets it go nonetheless. “Your sister should be here soon.”
When had Sehun called her? Had he really been so spaced out that he hadn’t heard Sehun make the call? It’s true he doesn’t really remember the walk out of the studio to the car park but surely he would have heard Sehun on the phone.
Sehun laughs. “The look on your face is priceless. I got Teach to call her while you were writhing about on the floor.”
Luckily Jongin is saved from having to respond by his sister’s battered car pulling up.
“Jongidiot!” She yells out the rolled down window. “What have you done to yourself this time? It better not be serious – I’ve got a date in half an hour!”
“Love you too, sis.” Jongin rolls his eyes. “It’s not bad, just pulled something my waist.”
Surprisingly the journey back to Jongin’s is quiet. Jongin’s sister hums along to the radio but seems to paying careful attention to her driving so as not to jostle Jongin’s waist, which Jongin appreciates. Now if only she could drive like this all the time…
Sehun’s leant forward and has his bony arms draped over the back of Jongin’s seat. Jongin absentmindedly plays with his fingers, twisting and twining them with his own while marvelling at Sehun’s skin – paper-thin and paper-white – stretched taught over bone.
The drive is short. When they arrive Sehun immediately jumps out to help Jongin out and together they amble up to the front door like a cumbersome four-legged beast.
“You okay to look after him, Sehunnie?” Jongin’s sister calls with concern from the car.
“Yep.” Sehun replies distractedly as he fishes Jongin’s keys out of his school bag and works on getting the door open with Jongin in one arm.
“Great.” She replies, a little too relieved for Jongin’s liking. “See you guys later!” And with that she drives off before Jongin can even muster a reply. Nice to see how much you care, sis.
“Guess it’s just us then.” Jongin says wryly.
Sehun manhandles Jongin to the sofa and then wanders off to the kitchen, by now knowing Jongin’s house almost as well as he knows his own. He returns with a pack of peas wrapped in a towel and takes great care with placing them on Jongin’s waist. He’s concentrating so hard his tongue has slipped out to wet his lips and Jongin smiles to himself because his dork of a best friend is just too cute.
Sehun sees him smiling and scowls. “What?”
“Nothing.” Jongin replies, still smiling. “Get me some orange juice?”
“And you couldn’t have asked when I was in the kitchen.” Sehun deadpans.
“Nope.” Jongin grins.
“I hate you.” Sehun huffs. But he stands and lazily makes his way to the kitchen nonetheless, flipping Jongin off as he goes for good measure.
As soon as he’s sure Sehun is out of the room Jongin lets his smile fall and presses his eyes closed against the pain stabbing in his chest. He knows Sehun doesn’t mean the words. It doesn’t make it hurt any less.
“I love you.” He whispers to the empty room.
The next few days are filled with Sehun and it’s nice, because unlike Jongin’s sisters he doesn’t treat Jongin like he’s an invalid – except for his concession to get all the snacks from the kitchen when they’re gaming.
This time it’s the latest GTA because Jongin’s mum has been feeling guilty that she has lots of meetings and can’t be at home to take care of him so she bought him it even though it’s not Christmas or his birthday. He invited Sehun over because Jongin knows he’s been dying to play it ever since it came out and lying around doing nothing all day is really boring.
Sehun has been there since lunch-time, and it’s now nearly five, and Jongin notices Sehun getting antsy.
“I’ve got to go soon.” Sehun says, glancing up at the clock. “I’ve got a date.”
“A new boyfriend? Already? You need to tell me what cologne you’re using.” Jongin tries to joke.
Sehun shifts uncomfortably. “Not… Exactly.”
It doesn’t take much to put two and two together.
“You’re still going out with him?” Jongin exclaims incredulously. “The guy who cheated on you? The guy who fucking hit you?”
“He said he was sorry.” Sehun stubbornly continues playing, even though it’s clear that Jongin has abandoned the game completely.
“Oh, that makes it all alright then.” Jongin says sarcastically.
Sehun says nothing.
“God, Sehun, you can’t keep doing this.” Jongin throws the controller to the floor, not caring whether it breaks or not. “Why do you go out with these guys?”
Sehun shrugs. “He says he loves me.”
“That guy doesn’t love you Sehun. You don’t deliberately hurt the people you love.”
“He says he does.” Sehun continues stubbornly.
“Then he’s fucking lying, okay!” Jongin shouts, frustrated.
Sehun rolls his eyes and randomly jabs the buttons on his controller angrily. “How would you know, Jongin? How many relationships have you had to make you the relationship expert?”
“Exactly – none, you patronising bastard, so how the fuck could you know anything about love?” Sehun spits out.
“Because I love you!” Jongin shouts back.
Everything then goes very silent.
“You love… me?” Sehun echoes.
Here, Jongin would normally lie. Say yes. Haha, fooled you, Oh Sehun – only joking. But he’s tired, so very tired of lying and waiting and hiding, so he says nothing. It’s as good as confirmation.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Sehun says, voice small and lost. “How long…?”
“A while.” Jongin shrugs, more nonchalantly than he feels. Inside he feels like crying. “And I’m not really your type, am I?”
Sehun bristles. “I don’t have a type.”
Jongin laughs at that, straight in Sehun’s face. It’s slightly hysterically.
“Seriously? So it’s just coincidence that all your boyfriends were older, shorter and pretty?” He’s not feeling vindictive enough to point out that Sehun’s type is also dickbag.
“I hadn’t noticed.” Sehun says sharply.
You never have. Is on the tip of Jongin’s tongue but he swallows it down because he doesn’t want to sound bitter.
“Yeah, well.” He says instead. “You do. And it’s not me.” Ah, shit. So much for not sounding bitter.
It’s then that he notices the way Sehun’s eyes skim over him. They’re judging, assessing, and Jongin feels a wave of dread coming over him because this is exactly what he wanted to avoid.
“It could be you.” Sehun muses. “Yeah, I could see that.”
“Sehun, no.” Jongin says, agast.
“Why not?” Sehun grins, that infernal, cheeky grin that Jongin loves and hates at the same time. “You’re hot, I’m hot. It could work.”
“I’m your best friend and I’m in love with you, Sehun.” Jongin snaps. “This isn’t a fucking joke. You don’t get to try me on like some new sweater to see whether I fit, okay?”
Sehun’s expression morphs from amused to pissed.
“Well I’m fucking sorry to offend you, your highness. In case you hadn’t noticed I just found out my best friend is in love with me” Sehun mocks, “and it’s come as a bit of a surprise. Forgive me if I don’t have the right things to say.”
Jongin can feel a wave of guilt coming on. He regrets snapping at Sehun. It’s not his fault. He’s trying his best – it has come out of the blue and really Jongin should be grateful he’s taking it as well as he is. All of a sudden he feels very tired.
“Look, you’re still my best friend and I’m yours – that doesn’t have to change, okay?” Jongin says.
“You promise?” Sehun looks wary, like Jongin is going to snatch the idea of still being friends right out from under his nose.
“Pinky promise?” Sehun holds out his little finger like it’s some kind of holy peace offering. Jongin rolls his eyes, because Sehun is literally a five year old, but takes Sehun’s finger in his own regardless.
“Deal.” Sehun smiles awkwardly and glances at the clock again. “I really have to go.” He says.
Jongin smiles just as awkwardly back. He watches as Sehun slips on his shoes – dirty, battered converses Jongin bought him for his last birthday – and heads to the door. He’s trying to think of anything that’ll make Sehun not go because that guy really isn’t good news – but if Jongin saying he loves Sehun isn’t enough to make Sehun stay, Jongin doesn’t know what will.
“Be careful.” Jongin calls desperately at Sehun’s back. Sehun stops, momentarily, but doesn’t turn around.
“Later, Jonginnie.” Sehun calls back over his shoulder.
The door slams behind him.
One | Two