Scared.

Art-to-Heart

Jonghyun could already feel the petrifying arms of anxiety wrap around him again as he once more looked at the mid-annual exam week schedule. It seemed like yesterday since they had had to prepare for the first slew of exams and now, they were right back it.

What the blonde definitely didn’t understand was how time had flown by so fast. He would’ve usually been glad that half the year was already behind him, but now that the stakes were so high, he didn’t wish for the last leg of it to arrive so soon.

The thought of failing the oh so important college entrance exam had kept him up most nights and had kept haunting him throughout the day. Jonghyun had never slept that well, but the constant insomnia was taking its toll on him.

Despite his need to be comforted, he hadn’t bothered Jinki once after that one time many weeks ago. His pride had kept him from potentially coming off as too needy even though internally, he was craving for that closeness more and more every day.

That didn’t mean that Jonghyun didn’t take what he could get during the day. He had always been big on skinship, but with Jinki, he’d had to dial it down a bit. Fortunately, as the weeks had passed and the brunette had shown himself more comfortable and open, the blonde had taken more liberties in that regard, initiating a few touches here and there when it felt appropriate.

He especially loved holding his soft, warm hand when they’d have a more intimate conversation or squeeze his arm whenever he’d be in a teasing mood. He secretly wished for more hugs, but he knew that’d come more naturally at some point. What was most important to him was to have Jinki there.

It was still funny to him how things had turned out this way between them, but he didn’t want to have it any other way. He had found in Jinki an amazing guy with whom he shared so much with and that also seemed to bring out the best of him.

The idea of not sharing a room with him anymore was the other reason why he wasn’t so eager for the year to end. He could feel that they connected at a deeper level, but he didn’t know if that was just a result of their current living situation. He knew without a doubt that his friendship with Minho would remain beyond the confines of the school’s walls, but with Jinki, he couldn’t be so sure. Part of him couldn’t help but think that Jinki might be pitying him and just want to help him feel better for the time being.

Jonghyun couldn’t say he had ever really feared rejection and abandonment before, but those feelings had become more than a fleeting thing lately. He knew how loved he was by his peers and even his teachers, but in the end, he didn’t care for all of that. All he wanted right now was to know that the thing that was so precious to him wasn’t going to die in a few months.

That wasn’t something he wanted to address anytime soon, but it had definitely added to his current stress. After a while of staring mindlessly at the exam schedule he had gotten earlier, he decided that he needed some time to just turn his mind off.

It wasn’t long before he was making his way to the lounge room where his friends and many students usually gathered in the evening. It was a Thursday so Jonghyun knew he wouldn’t find Jinki in their room anyways since he usually went at the weekly movie night the school held.

The thought of it brought a smile to the blonde’s lips as he remembered that one time he had decided to go with him. He hadn’t followed much of the movie as fatigue had claimed him at that moment. He had ended up laying his head on the taller one’s shoulder before being pulled into Morpheus’ arms, apparently hugging the other’s arm really tight if what Jinki had told him after held any truth. 

Jonghyun would’ve gone again if that meant getting a bout of good sleep and being close to Jinki as a bonus, but he had also not wanted to infringe on the other’s leisure time. He had started realizing how dependent he was becoming and knew it would only be good for him to spend time with his own friends for which he hadn’t made adequate time for in a while.

That’s why he was more than happy to see them all grouped in a corner of the lounge room, laughing loudly as they always did.

‘’ Hey, guys, ‘’ he said as he sat on the arm of the couch half the gang was sitting on.

Jong Suk was the first to react. ‘’ Well, well, well, ‘’ he drawled. ‘’ Look who has decided to bless us with his presence. ‘’

‘’ Are you even sure that’s who we think it is? ‘’ Jaehwan asked him, a hint of derision spiking his tone.

‘’ Seriously? ‘’ Jonghyun let out, frowning.

‘’ We couldn’t be more serious, ‘’ Junki replied, gazing straight at him.

The others soon did the same, waiting on him to give them a satisfying explanation.

Jonghyun was normally quick to defend himself and justify his actions, but for once, guilt kept his mouth shut. He looked at his friends one after the other, silently apologizing for his absence. Even though he couldn’t open up to them the way he could with Minho and more recently with Jinki, they had still made up a big chunk of the good moments he had spent in this school.

‘’ It’s not enough to just look at us with puppy eyes, ‘’ Young Bae noted as he crossed his arms.

‘’ That’s not what I was doing, ‘’ Jonghyun rebutted. ‘’ But would a pout make it enough though? ‘’ he then suggested, lips curving into a crooked smile.

Jong Suk snorted. ‘’ Yah, we ain’t your boyfriend. ‘’

The blonde cocked an eyebrow at that. ‘’ My boyfriend? ‘’

‘’ Yeah, L-e-e J-i-n-k-i, ‘’ Young Bae spelled out in a childish tone that made the other three laugh.

‘’ Wouldn’t that be Taemin though? ‘’ Jaehwan then pointed out, rubbing his chin pensively.

Jonghyun shook his head in exasperation. ‘’ You guys are unbelievable. ‘’

‘’ No, but Jae makes a good point, ‘’ Jong Suk realized. ‘’ It doesn’t make sense that someone who is one year under us would be tutoring you. ‘’

The rest all nodded and hummed in agreement.

‘’ Believe it or not, but he really is tutoring me. That kid is just a genius, ‘’ Jonghyun casually replied.

‘’ Even if that were true, you aren’t going to make us believe that you haven’t had those luscious lips around your yet, ‘’ Junki shot back instantly.

There was a moment of silence as the others, including Jonghyun, all looked at each other, perplexed.

‘’ Those luscious lips? ‘’ Young Bae slowly echoed as he directed his gaze to the one who had last spoken.

Junki looked back at him and then at the others, confused in turn. ‘’ Are you guys seriously telling me you have never noticed before? ‘’

‘’ Well yeah, the boy got lips … ‘’ Jaehwan recognized. ‘’ But you sound a little too passionate about it… ‘’

‘’ Yeah, that’s kinda gay, man, ‘’ Jong Suk added, eyeing Junki with disgust.

‘’ Look, he has without a doubt the best lips in the school. Me saying that those lips would feel good around a isn’t gay, it’s just a fact, ‘’ the latter laid out with conviction. 

‘’ Nope, that’s gay, ‘’ Young Bae immediately countered before the other two backed that up with a ‘’ Totally. ‘’

At this point, Jonghyun was already tempted to leave to avoid hearing such stupidity, but he found it in himself not to just yet.

‘’ Doesn’t matter if it’s gay or not, Tae and I don’t have that kind of relationship, ‘’ he settled as he let his gaze sweep across the room for some much needed distraction.

He almost missed it the first time, but when he looked back again, he caught something he thought he’d never see.

‘’ Is that… ‘’ His state of shock swallowed up the rest of his words.

They all followed his gaze.

‘’ Yup, there is nothing wrong with your eyes, ‘’ Jaehwan confirmed.

'' How the did that happen? '' Jonghyun exclaimed, bewildered by the sight of his best friend having what seemed like a pleasurable conversation with his supposed sworn enemy.

'' If you had actually been paying attention, you would've known that they surprisingly started getting along while practicing for the play, '' Jong Suk filled in with a lingering tone of reproach.

Jonghyun's guilt managed to silence him again, forming a lump in his throat.

Have I really been that inconsiderate? Why didn't Minho tell me anything? Is he mad at me?

'' Looks like he might have replaced you, '' Junki observed, cutting his chain of thought.

The lump only grew bigger, almost choking him. Jonghyun couldn't even be mad at his friend for the jab. This was all his fault.

Watching Kibum laugh at something his best friend had just said was all it took for him to feel the tears coming.

The urgency to leave was that much more prominent when Minho's gaze finally moved away from Kibum and caught his. Without a word, he straightened up and almost ran out of the room.

The hallway was pretty much empty that late in the evening much to his relief. His only goal was to get back to his room so he could have one of his ‘crybaby episodes’ as like he liked to call them.

Unfortunately, he didn't even make it halfway before he was stopped by a strong grip on his arm. Surprised, he turned back, eyes wide.

'' It's really like that, huh? '' Minho spat, jaw tense and frown creasing his brow.

Jonghyun could only stare back at him, stuck between his sorrow and his confusion.

'' Say something, '' Minho pressed as he let go of his arm and crossed his  over his chest.

'' Why didn't you tell me about you and Kibum? '' was the first thing the blonde thought to say.

'' Seriously? '' Minho scoffed, shaking his head lightly.

'' You're unbelievable, Kim Jonghyun. ''

Jonghyun looked down, feeling like a kid being scolded for doing something wrong.

'' How the hell was I supposed to talk about anything with you when you've not been around for the past month? '' Minho lectured, his anger only being fueled with every word said.

Jonghyun looked up again, offended. '' That's not true. We still train together every week. ''

The brunette snorted. '' Yes, we train, '' he emphasized. '' And as soon as we’re done you rush out like a little puppy looking for his master. ''

The smaller one was frowning now too, starting to feel irritated. ‘’ What’s that supposed to mean? ‘’

‘’ You tell me, ‘’ Minho sharply threw back.

A long eye exchange ensued before Jonghyun became tired of being in showdown mode.

‘’ Is this about Jinki? ‘’ he sighed as the previous conversation he had with their friends came back to him.

‘’ I’d say it’s about your weird obsession with the guy, ‘’ Minho specified, still on edge.

‘’ I don’t have a weird obsession, or any kind of obsession for that matter, ‘’ Jonghyun refuted. ‘’ He’s just become a good friend. ‘’

‘’ Jjong, I don’t think I’m lying when I say that I know you more than I know myself, ‘’ the brunette pointed out. ‘’ So if anyone would know when something is up, it would be me. But the thing is that you’re so obvious that everyone can see it. ‘’

‘’ Can see what? ‘’ Jonghyun asked before the fear that suddenly grew inside him could stop him from doing so.

‘’ That you have a thing for the guy, ‘’ Minho wasted no time answering.

‘’ And don’t even try denying it, ‘’ he then added as he saw a shocked expression flash across his friend’s face.

‘’ I… I don’t… ‘’

‘’ It’s not like that, ‘’ the latter said again with more assurance.

‘’ It’s not because you haven’t done anything with him that it’s not like that, ‘’ Minho indicated knowingly.

Jonghyun froze, looking at a blank spot in front of him as his heart raced like crazy inside his chest.

‘’ I just don’t understand why him… like I could understand your interest in Taemin, but that guy-

‘’ Don’t you dare say anything bad about Jinki, ‘’ the blonde cut off, snarling.

Minho looked at him, a little taken aback before a smirk danced across his lips. ‘’ There it is. The protective boyfriend instinct. ‘’

‘’ If you actually knew him, you’d understand why I defend him. It has nothing to do with make-believe feelings I apparently have for him, ‘’ Jonghyun retorted before turning on his heel and walking away.

‘’ Yah! ‘’ Minho called out from his spot.

‘’ You’re not good at hiding your emotions, Jjong. Sooner or later, he’ll see it too, ‘’ he then said loudly when the other didn’t turn back.

Jonghyun bit his tongue to keep himself from saying something he’d regret. It wasn’t too long before he was back in their dorm. Unfortunately, he was once again stopped in his trajectory when he heard the door open behind him.

He instinctively turned back, the sight of Jinki making his heart leap in a way it never had before.

‘’ Why are you back so early? ‘’ he asked, a little panicked.

‘’ The movie wasn’t good so I figured I shouldn’t waste my time, ‘’ Jinki replied before extending the hand in which he held a folded bag of popcorn.

‘’ Want some? ‘’

Jonghyun looked at it for a moment, blinking. ‘’ No… I’m fine, thank you… ‘’

‘’ Is everything alright? ‘’ Jinki inquired, sensing the other’s discomfort. 

‘’ Yes, yes, I’m just, um, a little tired… ‘’ Jonghyun answered before forcing a yawn.

‘’ I’m going to try to get some sleep. See you later, ‘’ he then said.

He gave the other no chance to reply as he rushed to his room and shut the door. Back against it, he kept an ear open to make sure he had no more reason to worry. A sigh of relief finally left his lips as he heard the others room door being closed.

It wasn’t long before he was on his bed, head buried in his pillows with only one thing in mind.

Sooner or later, he’ll see it too.

***

Jinki had known from the beginning that being roommates with Jonghyun was a gift beyond any gift. Even if they had never gotten to speak to each other, just being that physically close to him would’ve still been the best thing to ever happen to him.

For some inexplicable reason, he had gotten even more and still had to pinch himself every day to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. If he hadn’t believed in miracles before, he truly believed this was one.

Never in his life would he have thought that he could actually have normal conversations with someone else and share so many personal things about himself. It hadn’t been a smooth ride, but he felt like the worst of his uneasiness and habitual defense mechanisms were behind him. He wasn’t the same Jinki around Jonghyun and he would forever be grateful to the latter for bringing out this new side of him.

Beyond his strong feelings for the blonde was the pure appreciation of their friendship. He didn’t mind that their relationship would never be what he truly wanted it to be as long as Jonghyun was in his life. He could only hope that leaving behind this phase of their life in a few months wouldn’t mean leaving behind their friendship too.

In any case, Jinki knew it was best to make the most out of every moment. The problem was that these moments had become rare lately. Jonghyun wasn’t initiating conversations anymore and when Jinki did, he wouldn’t say much. Jinki knew that with the upcoming exams, the blonde was probably feeling more stressed than ever, but he couldn’t help but feel hurt by the lack of closeness he had gotten used to.

But he didn’t let himself be defeated just yet. All week he had been thinking of a nice gesture that would help cheer him up. It finally came to him during one of his study sessions when the soft tune Jonghyun had played for him in their dorm room a week ago started playing in his head again. The whole conversation they had then was also quick to unfold.

‘’ What do you think? ‘’ Jonghyun asked as he put his guitar to rest against the side of the couch.

‘’ It’s beautiful… ‘’ Jinki immediately said. ‘’ It’s warm but also has that melancholic feel to it, ‘’ he then went on as the words came to him.

Jonghyun grinned, unknowingly making the brunette’s heart race from such a sight.

‘’ I’m glad you think so, ‘’ he started. ‘’ I have a few lyrics floating around in my mind, but I’ve been thinking… ‘’

Biting his lip, he looked down to his feet, mulling over what he was about to ask. It took him a few seconds to regain his confidence and face the other again.

‘’ I want you to write the lyrics for it, ‘’ he finally said, eyes digging into darker ones.

Those dark eyes widened in surprise. ‘’ What? ‘’

A soft laugh tumbled out of the blonde at his reaction. ‘’ Is that too crazy of a request? ‘’

‘’ No, but… You don’t need me, ‘’ Jinki explained. ‘’ You write beautiful lyrics on your own. ‘’

Jonghyun gave a slight nod of the head. ‘’ I might, but I’ve been wanting for our arts to meet for a long time now. ‘’

Jinki’s heart reacted first again, thumping so loudly in his chest he was afraid the other could hear it.

‘’ Jjong… I-I’d be more than honored to write lyrics for you, but… ‘’ He swallowed hard, feeling his throat tighten. ‘’ I’m not sure I can do your music justice. I wouldn’t want to disappoint you. ‘’

He immediately looked down, shameful.

‘’ Jinki, ‘’ Jonghyun called out.

His firm tone was enough to get the other’s gaze up again.

‘’ What did we say about you having more faith in yourself? ‘’ he reminded when he had his full attention.

‘’ You just told me that I should, but that doesn’t mean that I can, ‘’ Jinki replied, self-conscious.

‘’ You’ll just have to trust me then, ‘’ Jonghyun settled. ‘’ I have all the faith in you. That’s why I’m asking this of you and you only. ‘’

Jinki’s eyes stayed fixed on him, stuck in his state of disbelief.

‘’ Can I think about it? ‘’ he quietly asked when he finally realized that the other was serious.

‘’ Yes, sure, ‘’ Jonghyun reassured, smiling. He then plunged a hand into his sweatpants’ right pocket.

‘’ Here you go, ‘’ he said as he extended a hand towards the one facing him.

Jinki took the small device that was handed to him and looked at it, frowning. ‘’ A USB flash drive? ‘’

‘’ Yeah, I recorded the audio the other day and then made a copy so you could work with the music. ‘’

Glimpsing at the fear in the brunette’s eyes, he quickly added, ‘’ Not that this means that you have to do it. ‘’

He bit his lip again, trying to reel in his eagerness to make his desire come true.

‘’ I know, ‘’ Jinki said as he tried to keep his gaze from lingering too much on that frustrating habit the other had.

Fortunately, the blonde’s lips split into a wide smile again.

‘’ But seriously think about it, okay? Don’t just be like ‘’ Oh I’m not good enough boo-hoo. ‘’

The brunette’s glare made him laugh, but soon enough he found himself having to run away when the other took a pillow from the couch. He was lucky enough to get back into his room before getting hit.

As his lingering laughter pierced through his closed door, Jinki just stayed in place, a foolish smile gracing his lips.

He had put that whole thing behind him two days later once they had gotten their exam week schedule. He had thought it was the perfect excuse not to give the other any answer just yet, but now, he felt like there was no more time to lose.

He soon traded his math exercise books for a blank page and his study music for the audio he had been given. As soon as it started, he felt himself sink into it, reliving through closed eyes that moment when Jonghyun had played it for him. It was perfect as it was, but already his mind was coming up with a narrative that could be attached to it.

Without thinking much, he started writing, keeping his focus on the music and what came to him right this moment. Jinki had always been quite the intuitive writer and when he felt inspired, it was like his feel for words was beyond what he could explain to himself.

That’s why when he finally came out of his creative bubble almost two hours later, he found himself shocked by his own work. It wasn’t that he found it extraordinary, he was just surprised that the song had brought so much out of him in such a short period of time.

Deciding it was better not to linger on it too long, he got off his bed and walked to the other’s door. He knew he was probably studying too, but he couldn’t wait any longer to surprise him.

So he knocked.

There wasn’t any sounds for a few seconds but soon enough, he heard the bed creak and felt relieved.

‘’ Yes? ‘’ Jonghyun squarely asked as he opened the door.

Jinki’s relief immediately subsided and gave place to unease as he sensed the other’s displeasure. His mind came up blank for a moment until he remembered why he had bothered him in the first place.

‘’ Um… I’m sorry to bother you, it’s just… ‘’ Jinki rose his hand holding the paper. ‘’ I wanted to give you this… ‘’

Jonghyun looked at it, a deep frown creasing his brow. ‘’ What’s this? ‘’

‘’ I wrote the lyrics. ‘’

The blonde’s expression immediately softened as his mouth fell open and his eyes widened. ‘’ Oh… ‘’

He took the paper that was handed to him and gave it a quick glance, all the words dancing before his eyes making his pulse quicken with excitement.

‘’ It’ll surely need tweaking cause you know, I’m not a singer, but I think it’ll fit your song just fine, ‘’ Jinki indicated despite the pressure he could feel in the middle of chest.

Jonghyun kept looking at the paper in awe, torn between his previous resolve and his present feelings.

‘’ Thank you so much, Jinki, ‘’ he finally said as gratefulness overwhelmed everything else.

‘’ It’s my pleasure, ‘’ the brunette replied, somewhat proud. ‘’ I thought it might help cheer you up since you seem so stressed out lately. ‘’

He then tried a smile, but it immediately died on his lips when he saw the smaller one’s expression darken.

‘’ Are you okay, Jjong? ‘’ he instinctively asked, fearful.

Jonghyun only nodded, but that made for a poor answer when he knew how much his face was actually saying.

‘’ It’s just… ‘’ He looked down, feeling like there was nothing he could say.

‘’ You’ll do just fine on the exams, Jjong, ‘’ Jinki reassured when he gathered he wouldn’t get more from the other.

If he had been his regular self, Jonghyun would’ve snorted at that, but he just nodded again.

‘’ Yes, you’re right. ‘’

Jinki kept looking at him, waiting for him to crack a joke or smile, but none of that happened. Instead, he was faced with a troubled-looking Jonghyun who wasn’t spilling his heart out like he usually did.

‘’ Jjong, I… ‘’

He paused, feeling like any word he would say right now wouldn’t do much.

So instead, Jinki did something he wouldn’t normally do.

He thought he heard the blonde gasp, but that didn’t stop him from tightening the grip of his arms around him, hugging him tight just like he had a few times before, only this time initiating it. He felt a little panicked when Jonghyun didn’t return it at first, but a few more seconds of persistence on his part proved to do the trick.

Jonghyun hugged him back with eyes closed, unable to resist the warmth and sturdiness of the brunette’s body. His nose picked up his sweet but musky scent making his head swim. He knew this was dangerous, so dangerous right now, but he just wanted to stay like that forever.

He felt his heart sink when Jinki finally pulled away, keeping his need for more within him.

‘’ You know that I’m here for you, right? ‘’ the taller one said as they locked eyes.

‘’ I know, ‘’ Jonghyun said in a more relaxed tone.

‘’ Well, I’ll let you be now, ‘’ Jinki uttered, feeling awkward again.

Jonghyun’s lips stretched into a thin smile. ‘’ Okay. ‘’

Jinki took the cue and immediately turned around to walk back to his room.

‘’ Jinki. ‘’

The blonde’s voice stilled his body instantly.

‘’ Yeah? ‘’ he said, turning back.

‘’ Thanks again. ‘’

‘’ For? ‘’

‘’ For this, ‘’ the blonde answered as he held up the paper. ‘’ And for everything. ‘’

‘’ I would say that I should be the one thanking you, but you also told me that I should stop arguing all the time, so I’ll just say that it’s my pleasure, ‘’ Jinki replied, a lopsided smile cracking his lips.

Jonghyun laughed an honest laugh at that and that was enough to make Jinki feel happy again.

He knew it wasn’t good for him to feel so emotionally tied to the other, but at this point, he knew that there was no use fighting it.

 

***

 

‘’ Hyung! ‘’

The sharp tone snapped the blonde back to attention. ‘’ Eh? ‘’

‘’ You zoned out again, ‘’ the younger one said, pouting grumpily.

‘’ Ah, I’m sorry… I’m just… ‘’ Jonghyun paused, gathering his thoughts. ‘’ Tired, I guess, ‘’ he went on, giving the other an apologetic look.

The brunette frowned. ‘’ You don’t have to lie to me, hyung. ‘’

‘’ What? You don’t believe me? ‘’ Jonghyun exclaimed in his overdramatic tone.

‘’ As a matter of fact, I don’t, ‘’ Taemin answered before leaning back against his chair. ‘’ Clearly, something’s weighing on your mind. ‘’

‘’ Yes, ‘’ Jonghyun immediately admitted. ‘’ It’s those damn math exercises. I don’t think I’ll actually be able to solve them on my own during the exam. ‘’

‘’ You’ll be just fine, hyung. You’ve gotten most exercises right so far and we still have a few days to make sure you’re more than just fine. I really don’t think that’s the biggest problem you’ve got to solve right now. ‘’

Jonghyun was taken aback by the younger’s seriousness.

‘’ You seem to already have an idea in your mind so please share, ‘’ he encouraged despite himself.

A long sigh followed, giving way to a moment of brief silence during which the brunette’s gaze flicked downwards.

‘’ Did you have a fight with Jinki? ‘’ the latter finally asked as he looked up again.

Jonghyun’s eyes widened for a second before they narrowed under a deep frown. ‘’ What makes you think that? ‘’

‘’ You two were practically tied at the hip and now it’s like you’re never together anymore, ‘’ Taemin pointed out.

The blonde clicked his tongue, annoyed. ‘’ I don’t get why you’d think that means there is a problem. We’re just both busy studying and doing other stuff, that’s it. ‘’

Taemin leaned closer again to pick up the pencil he was holding previously. He looked at it before spinning it between his fingers. ‘’ I think that way, cause you look sad, hyung. ‘’

Jonghyun blinked a few times, speechless. His mouth opened to say something, anything, but no words came out.

‘’ You like him, don’t you? ‘’ Taemin squarely asked, bringing the pencil to a still.

Jonghyun felt his heart flip as every other muscle in his body froze. ‘’ Wha-what do you mean? ‘’

Taemin looked him dead in the eye. ‘’ You know what I mean. ‘’

‘’ We’re friends… good friends, yes… but that’s all… ‘’ Jonghyun countered unconvincingly.

‘’ But you want more, ‘’ Taemin persisted, gaze unwavering.

‘’ I don’t know how you picked up on that, but you’ve got the wrong idea… ‘’ the blonde fought back as the sense of dread that had started spreading through him got even stronger.

‘’ It’s the way you look at him, the way you laugh around him, the way you just are around him… ‘’ Taemin explained, thoughtful.

‘’ I’ve only been around you two a couple of times, but those few times were enough to see it, ‘’ he added, his voice quietening as he spoke.

Even with fear tightening his chest, Jonghyun wasn’t without noticing the sad expression on his friend’s face.

‘’ Taemin… ‘’

‘’ I guess I should come clean first, hyung, ‘’ the other interjected before taking a deep breath.

‘’ I wanted you to look at me that way. ‘’

Jonghyun felt a pang in his chest. ‘’ You mean… ‘’

‘’ I mean that this wasn’t just fun and games for me like it apparently was for you. ‘’

The blonde felt even worse at that. ‘’ I… ‘’ So much was going through his mind that finding words took him some time, but a few seconds later, he finally did. ‘’ You’re the only guy I’ve ever flirted with and yeah, maybe I didn’t think much of it, but I mean it didn’t just happen for no reason. ‘’

And right then, Jonghyun realized that he had just admitted that he wasn’t exactly straight.

‘’ So… are you saying you were attracted to me? ‘’ Taemin concluded, anticipation flashing in his eyes.

Jonghyun swallowed hard on his now dry throat, keeping himself from escaping the brunette’s intense gaze. ‘’ Y-yeah, I guess… ‘’

A noticeable blush colored the latter’s cheeks as he leaned back again. ‘’ Aish, that even more then, ‘’ he sulked. ‘’ I should’ve tried something before Jinki took your heart. ‘’

A frustrated sigh escaped the blonde’s lips. ‘’ This is really starting to get annoying, ‘’

‘’ What? ‘’

‘’ That everyone keeps telling me how I feel about Jinki. ‘’

Taemin blinked, confused. ‘’ Everyone? ‘’

‘’ Yeah, ‘’ Jonghyun replied. ‘’ Well, the guys were joking, but then Minho had a whole lot to say about that and now, you… it’s like, give me a break. ‘’

‘’ So we’re all wrong then? ‘’

Jonghyun fell silent again, cursing his friend for putting him in such a delicate spot. 

‘’ Why are you trying so hard to deny it? ‘’ Taemin inquired. ‘’ Are you ashamed? ‘’

The blonde pondered the thought briefly. ‘’ No… it’s just… ‘’

‘’ What is it then? ‘’

Jonghyun closed his eyes, inhaling and exhaling deeply to calm the turmoil that was wrecking him internally.

‘’ I’m scared. ‘’

His voice came out quiet, so much so that it was almost inaudible.

But Taemin still heard him loud and clear. ‘’ Scared of what? ‘’

Those three words were all it took for the dam that held his thoughts to break inside him.

‘’ Of whatever this is that I’m feeling, of ruining what we have right now, of just not having him anymore in my life, ‘’ he let out without restraint.

Taemin’s eyes widened with shock at the other’s admission, but he quickly put the feeling aside to stay present with him.

‘’ Is pushing him away going to help though? ‘’

It was a question that answered itself, but nonetheless, it hit the older one hard.

‘’ I don’t want to push him away, but if I don’t, he might see it… ‘’

‘’ See what? ‘’

‘’ See what everyone else sees. ‘’

‘’ And? ‘’

‘’ And he’ll be disgusted and never want to talk to me again. ‘’

‘’ Disgusted? ‘’ Taemin echoed, dumbfounded.

‘’ Yeah… ‘’ Jonghyun answered, confused in turn by the other’s surprise.

‘’ Wait… ‘’ the brunette realized, eyes widening. ‘’ Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed? ‘’

The blonde just stared at his friend, lost. ‘’ Eh? ‘’

Taemin shook his head in disbelief. ‘’ Wow, you’re so clueless, I’m… ‘’

‘’ He looks at you the same, hyung, ‘’ he informed, words ringing with obviousness. ‘’ You’re clearly not alone in this. ‘’

Jonghyun’s mouth fell open, stunned.

‘’ That’s impossible… ‘’ he thought out loud. ‘’ Jinki’s not… ‘’

He couldn’t even bring himself to say it.

‘’ Jinki likes you too. End of story, ‘’ Taemin settled, categoric.

Once again, Jonghyun was at a loss for words.

Fortunately, his younger friend always knew what to say.

‘’ So are you going to solve that problem or not? ‘’

 

***

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