Title: Leaving is not enough; you must stay gone.
Word Count: 6,900
"I think it'll be good for you," Joonmyun insisted for the three hundredth time and Jongin decided he really, really didn't want to hear it again.
"How do you know him again?"
Joonmyun smiled victoriously and was all too happy to relay the story. "He's a friend of my cousin's. He just moved here, doesn't know a thing about the city, but could really use a tour guide. Preferably a cute one." He winked; Jongin rolled his eyes.
"And what's in it for me?"
"Who says he wouldn't be enough of a prize?"
"I'll judge that for myself. For now, what's in it for me?"
Joonmyun sighed and reached for his wallet. It was his turn to pay for coffee anyway, but Jongin didn't mention that. He simply watched with a look of near-indifference as Joonmyun counted out far more than he needed to cover the bill. He held the last twenty out to Jongin, who smirked and took it without an iota of hesitation. "Try not to spend it all in one place."
"Trust me, if we're going out to dinner, it'll be his treat first," Jongin said, folding the bill and slipping it into the back pocket of his jeans. "So what should I do to prep for stilted conversation? What are his hobbies?"
"He's a journalist. Did restaurant reviews back home and had a few columns published in foodie magazines, too."
"Ooh, then maybe I'll convince him to cook for me instead and save on cab fare, too."
This time it was Joonmyun who rolled his eyes. "You know what, give me back the twenty and I'll just buy you a book with it instead. You don't even have to read it. Just carry it around like a prop to make him think you can read."
"I resent that. I made it through three of the five Harry Potter books."
"There were seven."
Joonmyun sighed and Jongin could tell his plan was working. As long as he kept up the act, he'd be able to slip out of playing tour guide to yet another of Joonmyun's cousins' friends. How many cousins could one guy possibly have anyway?
"Look, I already told her you'd do it. Asking you was just a formality."
Jongin scoffed, staring at Joonmyun with wide, incredulous eyes and mouth agape. "Are you kidding me?"
"No. Because I knew you'd say no and I knew you'd be better off saying yes so I didn't want to give you the option."
"Well, unfortunately for you, your cousin and Mr Phantom Gourmet, I'm busy."
"No, you're not."
"Excuse me, but I have a dance competition coming up. So, yes, I am busy. I'm busy all this week practising for it, then busy Friday night travelling. Busy Saturday perform–"
"No, Jongin. You're not. Didn't you get Sehun's message?"
"I haven't listened to it yet. Why?"
"He called you at ten this morning—six hours ago—from the hospital."
"...Oh, my God. What happened?"
"Pulled a muscle in his back at work."
"That son of bitch. This was a huge opportunity for us!"
"I'll make sure to let him know you were too broken up to call him back."
"Don't bother," Jongin said, already standing and grabbing his coat.
"Where are you going?"
"To make his hospital stay count." Joonmyun was quicker than Jongin remembered because suddenly his hand was clamped around his wrist, holding him back. "What?"
"He's already been discharged. And he's probably sleeping, so leave him be. You can wring his neck tomorrow." Then, with a wide, toothy smile, he continued, "Besides, you have a date tonight."
Joonmyun had told him not to wear sunglasses, but Jongin did anyway, naturally. The first few seconds before an introduction could make all the difference, and he wanted to make sure he had the advantage. He wanted to be able to size Kyungsoo up before he even knew what was coming. What he foolishly hadn't counted on, however, was Joonmyun figuring he would do exactly the opposite of what he was told.
"Excuse me," a soft voice called from behind him.
Jongin turned a bit too quickly, frowning but glad the dark lenses hid his surprised eyes. Before him stood a boy—it was hardly fair to call him a man—a full head shorter than him with eyes like dinner plates. He didn't look nearly as much like a "foodie" as he'd been expecting, though; he was a little chubby, but in just the right places, and Jongin couldn't help privately admitting that it was actually kind of cute on him. Two pale, doughy cheeks and sweet rounded hips and a pair of lips just begging for—
"Are you Jongin? I was told to look for a guy with sunglasses and bed head."
Jongin made a mental note to give Joonmyun a lesson in style later. For now, he took the few moments he really no longer had to size the boy up. He figured he was probably around his own age, but the way he curled himself up in his nervousness made him look younger. And, Jongin reluctantly admitted, cuter. "Yeah," he said noncommittally.
A wide smile blossomed on the kid's face and he let out a loud sigh of relief. "I'm Kyungsoo." He extended his hand and Jongin paused momentarily before lamely offering his own. He couldn't remember the last time he'd shaken hands with anyone, but he was pretty sure he'd never felt smoother skin in his life. For a fleeting moment he became self-conscious of his calluses, the necessary and useful result of too many falls on too much asphalt. Kyungsoo let go of Jongin's hand and Jongin was quick to slip his into his hoodie pocket, wrapping it around his phone just to feel something familiar.
"How long have you been here?"
"About twenty minutes. I thought we were meeting at four?"
Jongin pulled out his phone to check the time, frowning again as he realised he must have lost track of time after all. Next time, Joonmyun should bribe him with a picture instead of cash. "My bad," he said, pocketing it again. "So, welcome to New York. Which of the landmarks do you want to visit first?"
"Well, I've already been here about a week or so," Kyungsoo said carefully, almost like he was worried about offending Jongin by admitting he'd already been to all of the tourist hot spots. Jongin actually smiled, though only in relief. The sight of it seemed to unnerve Kyungsoo, who quickly dropped his gaze to his shoes. "I've already hit up most of the 'usual' sights, I suppose."
"They set you up, too." Jongin's smile turned into the soft laughter of realisation.
"Joonmyun's really asking for it."
"Are you seeing anybody?"
Kyungsoo's eyes filled with panic and Jongin's chuckling erupted. There was an awful lot of spluttering before Kyungsoo finally managed, "I didn't—I wasn't told this was going to be a...a date." He practically mouthed the word.
"Joonmyun likes to leave out small details like that, yeah." Finally, Jongin lifted his sunglasses, sliding them up onto his head to hold back his bangs. He squinted through the brightness of the sun for a few moments until his eyes readjusted, and he could look at Kyungsoo properly—and Kyungsoo him. "So what's the deal? Is there anybody waiting for you back home or what?"
Kyungsoo swallowed, the bobbing of his adam's apple pulling Jongin's smirk just a bit wider. "No. There's no one back home or here."
"Excellent. I hate being the other woman." Jongin gave a quick jerk of his head to indicate for Kyungsoo to follow him before heading off towards the nearest subway station. "So what kind of food do you like? I hear you're a bit of a gourmet." Jongin threw Kyungsoo a polite look and was caught a bit off guard by the flustered look he had on his face.
"Gourmet is probably overstating it a little," Kyungsoo said shyly. Jongin wondered if Joonmyun told him to act this way because it simply wasn't possible for someone to be this genuinely adorable without trying.
After hours of aimless wandering and a dinner that Jongin hadn't even needed to ask Kyungsoo to pay for, he decided the least he could do was offer a trade. Kyungsoo's eyes went wide the moment Jongin pulled out his phone, and Jongin had to laugh. "I had a better time than I expected," he said, pulling up a fresh contact page. Kyungsoo did the same and they swapped cell phones, Jongin's thumb easily gliding over the numbers while Kyungsoo's hands shook so badly he ended up with two extra digits, which Jongin had to wedge back out before saving.
"Me, too," Kyungsoo said dumbly, and somehow his eyes went even wider. "Not that I was anticipating a bad time! It's just..." He huffed a sigh and Jongin patiently propped his elbow on the table and his chin on his hand. The half-lidded look of amusement he gave Kyungsoo probably didn't help his nerves, and he was secretly glad of that. "I don't always hit it off well with..."
"Dates?" Jongin offered.
Jongin scoffed in genuine disbelief, straightening up again. "With a face like yours, I'm surprised you have to try."
"What do you mean by that?" The soft uncertainty of Kyungsoo's voice almost made Jongin a little weak at the knees. Thank God he was already seated.
"I mean we should do this again sometime."
Etiquette (Joonmyun) determined that there should be a three-day grace period before either of them contacted each other. ("Any sooner than that and you look desperate. Any later, and you're uninterested.") Apparently Joonmyun forgot to explain that to Kyungsoo, though, because by the time Jongin got home, there were already three texts in his inbox:
Wed, Sept. 30 9:56pm
I realized I forgot to thank you for a
wonderful time today! Thank you!
Wed, Sept. 30 10:00pm
I just realized maybe I shouldn't have
texted you already. I'm sorry!
Wed, Sept. 30 10:03pm
Please don't think badly of me...
Jongin laughs, but takes his time settling in at home, changing into pyjamas and finding a comfortable spot in bed before replying.
Sun, Sept. 30 10:21pm
no worries. thx for treating me
Sun, Sept. 30 10:24pm
You're welcome! Feel free to let me in
on any other gems like that place haha
Sun, Sept. 30 10:30pm
I'll even pay again.
Sun, Sept. 30 10:33pm
nah its my turn
Sun, Sept. 30 10:35pm
I insist! Just let me know.
Sun, Sept. 30 10:39pm
Even if it's a greasy diner somewhere.
Sun, Sept. 30 10:42pm
Am I bothering you?
Sun, Sept. 30 10:47pm
your fine. getin ready 4 bed.
Sun, Sept. 30 10:50pm
I'm sorry! Do you work early?
Sun, Sept. 30 10:53pm
Is it too soon to ask what you do? It
didn't come up over dinner.
Sun, Sept. 30 10:55pm
I'm sorry. I'm probably being so
Sun, Sept. 30 11:02pm
relax hahaa. i dont work early but i
have to visit my friend b4 work.
Sun, Sept. 30 11:04pm
Ohh. I'll let you get some sleep, then.
Sun, Sept. 30 11:17pm
In one week, Jongin received more texts from Kyungsoo than from the rest of his friends combined. He chalked it up to Kyungsoo having only so many people he could talk to in the city, although he was starting to feel a bit guilty for having to turn down all of his offers for a second date. Even with Sehun laid up in bed, the rest of the group had been getting together to tighten their routine, and at Sehun's insistence no less. Although they'd dropped out of the upcoming weekend's competition, they decided to stay committed to their weekly public performances—mostly because they could all use the extra cash.
"What?" Jongin's voice came muffled from behind his towel, but he quickly draped it around his shoulders to look up at Yixing.
"You have a visitor. I thought we agreed no girlfriends in the practice space, man."
"Since when does Jongin have a girlfriend?" Taemin laughed, earning himself a sharp elbow to the ribs from Jongin.
"Since never," he said, pulling himself to his feet. He figured it was Joonmyun come to bother him for disappointing Kyungsoo all week, probably sick of Kyungsoo's whining. Jongin took mild pleasure in the thought of someone else being on the receiving end of Kyungsoo's endless apologies until he got to the door and wasn't met with Joonmyun at all. "Oh. Hi."
"Hi," Kyungsoo said. He looked more put-out than upset, which Jongin found strangely worse. "I guess you weren't kidding."
"About practice? Why would I kid about something like that?" He tried to keep a laugh in his voice, to play things off like he didn't suddenly feel like he'd been caught cheating. Because that was ridiculous.
"Well, you didn't mention anything about dancing when–"
"My bad, my bad. Let's get going. I want to get home and shower."
"Can I finish?" Jongin blinked, instinctively leaning away from Kyungsoo a little after such an outburst. His stunned silence seemed to mollify Kyungsoo, though, and his shoulders slumped, his face falling further. "I'm sorry..."
Jongin waited an extra beat before replying. "No worries. Come on." He was so concerned with taking Kyungsoo by the arm and leading him back down the stairs that he didn't realise he never said goodbye to his friends until he was already on the train.
"I'm in a dance crew."
"What kind of dance?"
"I guess it's easiest to call it hip hop? We incorporate a lot of different stuff, though." Jongin was staring at his hands, watching them wrestle with each other. He could still feel Kyungsoo boring holes into his skull, though.
"So, you do competitions and things?"
Jongin nodded, sneaking a glance at Kyungsoo from the corner of his eye. The curiosity in his voice didn't show as well on his face; he mostly just seemed concerned, perhaps that Jongin wasn't looking at him. The expression didn't really make him want to try any harder, but he did anyway. "Yeah. Competitions, public performances. We were on TV once, too, but it didn't end up going anywhere."
"I'm sorry," Kyungsoo said, and he seemed to mean it. It embarrassed Jongin a little and he looked away again.
"We weren't ready, even though we thought we were."
"I'm sure everyone else just wasn't ready for you." Jongin laughed at how serious Kyungsoo sounded.
"Maybe," he said. "We're going to try again next year."
"Good." Finally, Kyungsoo smiled and Jongin was more than relieved. The crinkling of his eyes lessened their intensity and he actually felt like he could look at him again without that churning feeling in his stomach.
Jongin thought carefully before asking his next question, kept his voice light in the hopes that Kyungsoo wouldn't take it the wrong way. "How did you find our practice space anyway?"
"Joonmyun told me. He...thought you were avoiding me already."
"...Figures it would be him." Except Jongin was pretty sure Joonmyun would know better than to give out the address, especially to someone they both barely knew. He kept that to himself, though, not wanting to wipe the embarrassment from Kyungsoo's face just yet. It made it all too easy to forget unimportant things like nervous outbursts and unexpected visits. "I didn't mean to make you worry. I never lie about having practice, but I have it four or five days a week."
"You must be exhausted by the weekend."
"Sometimes," Jongin laughed. "Usually only when there's a competition coming up."
"Is there one this weekend?"
"There was. But one of ours was an idiot so we had to drop out. Too late to recoup any of the money we poured into it."
"That's too bad."
"Tell me about it. We already told him we're working it out of him as soon as he's better."
"If you're down a person, though, why are you all still practising so much?"
"He wants us to keep up with our street performances. And he's right, I guess. We reworked the routine for this week to work without him."
Kyungsoo's embarrassment multiplied then, and Jongin felt a certain sense of relief when his pretty eyes dropped to his own hands. "Would it be all right if I came to watch?"
"I expect at least a ten dollar donation if you do." Jongin smirked, but Kyungsoo didn't notice until Jongin laid a hand on his arm to get him to look up. His flush brought a matching one out of Jongin, though he wasn't quite sure why.
"How about I just treat you to dinner again instead?"
"I think I can live with that."
"It's already pretty late..."
"Please? I still feel really awful about crashing your dance practice."
"I don't know."
Jongin still wanted to say no; something about the situation felt a little off. But he also still felt pretty bad about ditching Kyungsoo all week, and even about how he was even now considering making another excuse. He was being unfair; Kyungsoo didn't know anyone else, so of course he'd cling to those he did. "All right," he relented, and any further reluctance melted away beneath the brightness of Kyungsoo's expression. "But I draw the line at sleepovers."
"Wow. This is...really...tidy."
Kyungsoo gave another sheepish look to the floor as he shut and locked the door. "I just moved in."
"I lived out of boxes for a month when I first got my own place."
"Well, I mean," Kyungsoo said, licking his lips—and making Jongin lick his own as if in response, "not everything is organised, yet."
"Your sock drawer doesn't count." Kyungsoo laughed and turned his flush away from Jongin's smirk.
"Make yourself at home," he said. "Just don't touch anything."
Jongin wasn't sure if that was supposed to be a joke or not, but his laughter was met with another one of those smiles that made his stomach somersault. As Kyungsoo wandered off, presumably into the kitchen to start cooking, Jongin took him at his word and began exploring. He didn't touch anything, not at first, simply taking in the surroundings: perfectly square frames in perfectly straight lines along the longer stretches of wall; perfectly centred rectangular pieces on the smaller ones. The smaller frames seemed to hold articles instead of artwork, and Jongin approached the nearest and began reading what sounded like something like an ode to potatoes. He snorted and moved along the line, finding more of the same in various shades of boring. Kyungsoo sure was lucky he was so cute, and Jongin was glad most of their conversations revolved around him, and none of this kind of stuff.
"Those are all things of mine that were published in different magazines," Kyungsoo said, startling Jongin too much for him to hide it. Kyungsoo apparently found it endearing or something because his smile softened as he leaned against the wall.
"I wouldn't've pegged you for such a narcissist."
The smile faded into dejection, his voice coming in an unflattering tone of petulance. "I worked hard on those articles. Why shouldn't I be proud of them?"
"I'm only teasing." Jongin surprised himself with how unsteady his own voice was in his reply. "They're...interesting. It's not really my thing, of course, but sometimes it's nice to step outside the box."
"Yeah. Well. Dinner will be about a half hour." The flatness of Kyungsoo's tone, along with his immediate departure back into the kitchen, stung in a way Jongin didn't expect. He blamed that for the way he followed him, not even hesitating in the archway before moving up behind Kyungsoo to pin him against the counter.
"So what's on the menu?" He reached one arm up to help take down the plates Kyungsoo was after, while the hand of the other rested against Kyungsoo's hip. Oh, yes, the curves there were perfection.
"Can you give me a little more space, please? I need to work."
"Let me help."
"Come on," Jongin said, only moving in even closer, pressing his cheek to Kyungsoo's hair so he could breathe his words across his ear. "It'll be more fun this way." Kyungsoo tensed in an instant, and Jongin could even feel the way he clenched his jaw. "Come on, Chef. I'll make the best apprentice. I won't question anything and I'll do all the chopping. Even the onions." He started working his thumb in small, languid circles over Kyungsoo's love handle in the hopes of distracting him enough to be able to slide just that little bit closer. "Maybe I'll even agree to a sleepover after all."
It was only just when Jongin thought he'd finally crossed that last line that Kyungsoo replied, "And risk you drooling all over my brand new couch? I don't think so." Then he flashed a small, reluctant smile over his shoulder and nudged at Jongin with his hip, telling him to grab the largest mixing bowl from the bottom cabinet.
All morning Jongin tried to figure out why he was so nervous about today's performance. They could all do the routine in their sleep. Even the run-through that morning had gone flawlessly, Minseok sticking every one of the landings he'd been fumbling over all week. Despite everything, though, there was a knot in his stomach that yielded to nothing. "Do you want to go throw up?" Minseok asked.
"I'm cool. It's just nerves. This always happens."
"You never get this ashy."
"I said I'm fine, Min."
"Cool it," Yixing cut in, directing a stern look at Minseok and a slightly more worried one at Jongin. "Taemin and I can split up your parts fine, if you need to—"
"Fuck, get off my case."
No one said anything more after that, and a few of the early spectators actually left. Jongin swore again but quietly this time and went about finishing his warm-up.
The knot tightened almost painfully, but he greeted Kyungsoo with a smile anyway. "You came."
"Of course I did. Is it all right if I film it?" He brandished a small camcorder.
Jongin laughed but it came out as more of a wheeze. "Joonmyun takes official video of us, but I guess you're welcome to make your own if you want."
"Non-commercial use only," Yixing said, fitting his gloves over his hands.
"Who would I sell it to anyway?" Jongin thought he heard a note of contempt in Kyungsoo's voice, but brushed it off.
"Just don't stand any closer than Joonmyun," Jongin warned with a sly grin. "Gotta watch out for that pretty face of yours."
The knot disappeared the moment the music started, Jongin's head slipping easily into that favourite place of his, in between the beats. He knew it was just nerves, nothing more. Then his adrenaline kicked in, and he was gone.
The entire crew was on point, and Jongin told himself to remember to kiss Minseok later. They were coming up to the last part of the routine: Sehun's grand finale. Somehow it had been relegated to him instead of Taemin, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't get off on the pressure.
Two flips (executed not quite as smoothly as Sehun would have, but definitely with more style) into a handstand cut short by a bit of overcompensation that hurtled Jongin into the pavement with a scream.
Oh, God, it hurts. Don't fucking touch it, don't touch me. Yixing I said get the fuck away from me. I don't need an ambulance. I need everyone to back off. Kyungsoo, I'm fine, relax. No, Minseok, don't call my parents. I'm not four—fuck, Taemin, what don't you understand about don't touch me?
In the end, he went to the hospital, Joonmyun riding alongside him in the back of the ambulance chatting up the EMT. He'd stopped swearing by the time they got him on the stretcher, the pain of what later turned out to be a fracture rib and collarbone keeping him too nauseated to keep shouting. The last thing he saw were those wide eyes of Kyungsoo's, and the guilt brought on by the fear in them weighed heavily until he could get Joonmyun to let him know where they were.
"While it's still just us," Joonmyun began, helping himself to a seat at the edge of the bed. Jongin still felt a little too sick to swat him away. "Yixing told me Kyungsoo showed up at practice the other day."
"He said you told him where the space was."
Jongin stared mildly at Joonmyun, quietly sizing him up. He decided he wasn't lying. "Then how did he find it."
"I talked to my cousin."
"I know she doesn't know where it is."
"No, but apparently a few of your fans do."
"...I fucking hate the Internet."
"I'm more concerned about how he lied about it."
"He probably just figured it was easier to blame you," Jongin said. "Didn't want to sound like a weirdo in front of strangers. I get it."
"Yixing said he's met you outside the studio every night this week."
"Didn't you want us to start dating?"
"Since when do you listen to me, Jongin?"
Jongin laughed, then winced and hissed in pain. Apparently he was due for another round of pain killers. "Have you seen that ass, Joon? And those hips. He just screams fu—"
"All right, all right," Joonmyun interrupted, waving his hand around as if trying to clear the air of Jongin's suggestive commentary. "Have you?"
"Have I what?"
"Have you had sex with him?" Jongin scoffed and looked away. Joonmyun grinned wide and patted his leg. "He'll come around. Maybe you're just coming on too strongly. He's probably a virgin, you know."
"Well, I've got four to six weeks to teach him how it's done."
"Oh, my God." Joonmyun's laughter was as genuine as his expression was horrified. "Why...why..."
"Because my filthy mouth is as close to a sex life as you're ever gonna get."
Jongin could tell Joonmyun was seriously considering tapping his shoulder in revenge; he was silently grateful when he chose not to. "Look, just don't get in over your head. He's not like your flings. He's actually got emotions."
"Shouldn't you be warning him not to get in too deep with me, then?"
"Oh, I have. He's got nothing but good things to say about you, though. Just be careful with him. I don't think he knows how to pace himself, yet."
"He's done a great job of blue balling me so far."
Joonmyun rolled his eyes, patted Jongin's shoulder twice, and left him there to die a slow and excruciatingly painful death.
"I can stay over for a few nights, if you want," Kyungsoo offered, serving as a patient brace while simultaneously stacking pillows behind Jongin to keep him upright in bed. "To help you get settled, find a new routine."
"That's okay." Jongin didn't have any better ideas, but Kyungsoo didn't need to know that. He certainly wasn't going to call in his parents or sisters, and the only other person with enough free-time to play nurse was Joonmyun—and that was an even less likely possibility than his family.
"Please? I'll worry so much less, and I can just bring my laptop over and work from here."
"Really, it's fine." Jongin tried to muster a laugh, but it hurt too much and he merely grunted instead. "The guys can stop in after work and stuff."
"Can they cook?"
"Then it's settled."
Jongin found it exceedingly difficult to argue with Kyungsoo with all that bright hopefulness all over his face. "Fine. Three days, max. Then you're back to your own place." He'd wanted to be firmer, wanted to lay down a few more ground rules and make a few more points, but what were rules compared to the pillow-soft lips pressed up against his own? Still, they were gone too quickly and took all of his sense with them.
"Three days. But you've got to let me do it my way. I know a thing or two about this. I had to help my mom out a few years back with a similar injury." Kyungsoo was already fussing with his cushions again, making sure he was completely boxed in on three sides so that he wouldn't slump over in his sleep. "You've got to take it easy. Stay away from too much excitement and drama..." He quietly lifted Jongin's phone from the bedside table. "Are you sure you can handle my rules?"
Jongin wasn't really sure, actually, but that little half-smirk convinced him otherwise. Maybe a vacation from everyone's nagging would be a nice change of pace. "Three days," he said again returning Kyungsoo's smirk with his own. "Let me send them a text to let them know I'm under house arrest."
"Oh, don't worry about it," Kyungsoo said breezily, moving Jongin's phone just out of his reach in a way that almost looked deliberate. "You try to fall asleep before the Tylenol wears off. I'll let everyone know."
"Shh. My rules, remember?"
Kyungsoo slipped him another kiss before he could muster any more protests. If Jongin had known that all it would take to get a little action were some broken bones, he would've thrown himself down the subway stairs a week ago.
Three days had somehow turned into two weeks before Jongin really took notice. He blamed it on the way Kyungsoo always kept the shades down, so he never really knew whether it was ten a.m. or p.m. He blamed it on the way his visits with friends were half-supervised—he thought it was hilarious how jealous Kyungsoo got, but no one else really seemed in on the joke. They just didn't spend as much time around him as Jongin did; they didn't understand his brand of humour.
"Nurse Kyungsoo's just afraid you'll mess with my doses. He keeps me on a tight schedule." Kyungsoo's pursed lips told Jongin that he didn't really appreciate the jokes either, and so Jongin blamed the cabin fever for his giddiness. While he missed going out—and, God, did he miss dance—living with Kyungsoo had come with its own benefits. Like how he'd been right all along about those lips of his (and he was very glad that Kyungsoo was such a fast and eager student). Still, two weeks was a long time in bed, and Jongin thought it might be a good idea to stretch his legs a bit. He decided the best time to broach the subject was over dinner, with Kyungsoo reclined in bed beside him.
"So our anniversary is coming up," Jongin began, mouth full of food. Kyungsoo's face lit up like Christmas before Jongin realised how that had sounded, and he chewed and swallowed quickly before continuing. "The crew's, I mean." And he kept going, talking mostly to his food so he didn't have to look at the devastation his clarification had caused. "When he was over the other day, Sehun said everyone's getting together for it on Sunday."
He told himself he didn't need to ask permission, that his boyfriend had no say in whether he could hang out with his friends or not. Granted, he'd have to ask Kyungsoo for help getting dressed for the event, so maybe he had some say, but he could always just call Joonmyun over or something. He couldn't understand, then, why he felt a bit like he was betraying Kyungsoo by wanting to go out for a few hours.
He blamed it on the way Kyungsoo had been single-handedly taking care of him all this time, at the expense of his own free time.
"Of course you can go, dummy," Kyungsoo said, his tone more playful than his face. Jongin beamed anyway, mostly in relief.
Friday came and Jongin started it off just the right way with a nice, slow blow job, followed by a nap. Kyungsoo had teased him for already wanting to go back to sleep, but Jongin had just pulled him in with his good arm for a long kiss to shut him up. He could justify the extra sleep for how late he would probably be out tonight. (He'd have to make sure not to drink too much, though that really took all the fun out of it.) The rest of the day was spent the same as any other, with Kyungsoo helping him to shower and stretch and making sure he took his doses on time. They watched a few horror movies—a bad sequel, followed by its own, even more awful sequel—with Kyungsoo clinging to him all the while. Jongin was pretty sure he was faking it, and was pretty sure that he didn't mind a bit, although he'd never been one for cuddling.
The sequels became genuine horror films, which Kyungsoo decided he really couldn't handle, and Jongin was left on his own to watch. It wasn't until the sound and smell of sizzling bacon wafted its way into the living room that Jongin realised how hungry he was—and that he was probably running late. "Kyungsoo!"
He stood, padding his way into the kitchen where he had to stop and smile. "What are you doing? This is way too much for just you."
"Duh," Kyungsoo said with a laugh. "There's two of us here."
"...Kyungsoo, I'm going out tonight, remember? With the guys."
Kyungsoo's face fell, eyes huge, and he began to wring his hands. "I...I completely forgot." Kyungsoo threw a nervous look over his shoulder at the bacon in the pan. Jongin turned his gaze to the sink, piled high with cookware and dirtied bowls. He noted the single bowl on the counter, probably full of pancake batter, before looking back to Kyungsoo. "You were so into the movie and the timing was so perfect..." He bit his lip. "I'd been planning this all day."
"But you knew I was going out. I told you days ago."
"Can you go another night?"
Jongin let out a laugh, though he didn't really find anything very funny at the moment. "No, Kyungsoo. Everyone's meeting tonight. Our anniversary is today."
"Well, so is ours." Jongin blinks, incredulous. "It's been a month."
"That's not an anniversary." He couldn't believe they'd met a month ago. He couldn't believe he'd already been more or less living with Kyungsoo for two weeks, and that they'd only known each other a month total.
Kyungsoo swallowed, let out a shaky laugh, and turned to the pan of bacon on the stove. "Fine. Go out." He lifted it, turned off the heat, and brought it over to the trash bin.
"That's not...look, I wish you would've told me—"
"I said it's fine, Jongin," he said, tipping the contents into the garbage. "Let me throw all this out and I'll—"
"Don't waste it." Jongin reached forward to grab at Kyungsoo's wrist and missed, Kyungsoo already having turned to start emptying the oven. For the briefest of moments, all Jongin could think about was saving the hash browns, always his favourite part of Kyungsoo's breakfast dinners. "Finish cooking and we'll put it aside for—"
"Go to the bedroom. I'll come help you get dressed in a minute." Kyungsoo brought the potatoes over to the trash, and Jongin watched in silence as Kyungsoo tipped the saucepan up. Then Kyungsoo looked over, just shy of actually dumping them, and scoffed. "You really don't care at all, do you?" He set the saucepan on the stove and put his hands on his hips, glaring at him and not at all in that cute way Jongin was already accustomed to wriggling out from under.
"Of course I care."
"About your crew."
"Today's a big deal. It's been three years, Kyungsoo."
"Well today's a big deal for me. Maybe you go through guys like tissues, but I don't."
"Have you been talking to Joon—"
"At the risk of giving you some sick sense of pride out of it, I'll have you know you're my first boyfriend."
"I-I'm flattered, Kyungsoo. But this isn't about—"
"This isn't about you and your frigging dancing buddies!" Jongin took a step back. "Where have they been all this time? Where have they been when you wake up in the middle of the night sobbing because you're in so much pain? Who's dressed you and showered you every day for the past two weeks? Who's rearranged their life to fit yours? And have I complained about it? Have I ever once griped to you about how much of a pain in the neck it is to get your Royal Laziness up in the morning just so you can ask me to...to..."—Kyungsoo gestures wildly, failing to find an appropriate euphemism—"before you even say good morning? Have I ever said a word when you've complained about the food I work so hard to prepare for you every day? Have—"
"You," Jongin interrupted, more terrified than angry. "You invited yourself into my life. You stalked out my practice space. You texted me four hundred thousand times a day. You wouldn't take no for an answer and fucking just made yourself right at home here to take care of me and now you're yelling at me for it? Like I fucking asked you to?"
"You're a cocksure, no-good, ingrate."
"And you're a fucking lunatic!"
Jongin had no idea who or what to thank as the pot of hash browns slammed into the wall just beside him instead of his face. He didn't have time to even spare it a thought. He simply ran out of that kitchen, out of that apartment, as fast as his legs could carry him. It didn't matter that he was in his boxers and a t-shirt at the end of October or that he hadn't bothered to grab his phone or his wallet.
But it mattered a hell of a lot that he had, apparently, been running very late, and Sehun had thought to come get him.
"What the hell are you doing running around in your underwear, Jongin?"
"Go. Turn around. Go. Hail a cab. We're leaving. Your place. He knows where Joonmyun lives. Fuck, he probably knows where everyone lives."
"All right! I'm going. Let's stop by Joon's anyway and get you some friggin' pants, though."
"What have we learned?" Taemin drawled and Jongin wanted to punch him, but his shoulder was still a bit weak. His recovery time was apparently leaning more toward the six weeks than the four weeks. He blamed it on the stress.
"I think nearly dying by saucepan is lesson enough," Minseok said with a grin that held no real sympathy.
"You guys should be taking this more seriously."
"You're just upset you introduced them, Joon," said Sehun.
"Of course I'm upset about that. But I'm upset for Kyungsoo, too, that he's so... so..."
"Crazy?" Minseok offered.
"He's lonely," Jongin said. He was uncomfortable that everyone could already talk about the situation like it was some kind of a joke, but maybe that was just because they hadn't been there. Sehun, at least, seemed to take it somewhat more seriously, maybe because he'd been something of a first responder. The only one who really seemed to understand, though, was Joonmyun, and Jongin was pretty sure that was all simply residual guilt.
"You still did the right thing," said Joonmyun, laying a hand over Jongin's arm. He shrugged it off immediately.
"Have you heard from your cousin?"
"How do you even still give a shit, Jongin? Seriously."
"Because Kyungsoo made a lot of good points, Sehun. Yeah, okay, the way he went about it was pretty fucked up, but he did take care of me. And clearly all of you were worried out of your minds about leaving me in his care, visiting me twice a week."
"He was screening your calls and texts."
"And after more than a day of that you don't think 'oh, hm, maybe something's wrong with this'?"
"And after he confiscated your phone and hid it, all you could do was laugh it off like it was some stupid game?"
"Look, a lot of really big mistakes were made," Joonmyun interrupted.
"Starting with you," Yixing said, pointing. "From now on, no more playing match-maker."
Jongin felt his phone vibrate, and sneaked a peek at the screen while the others argued.
Mon, Nov. 12 12:11pm
Don't forget to do your stretches.
Mon, Nov. 12 12:12pm
Jongin kept promising to get a new number. Maybe one day he'd follow through with it.