It’s a known fact in their group that Kyuhyun falls asleep easily whenever he reads a book.
Ryeowook, in particular, knows this very well.
The members are playful in nature. Due to Kyuhyun’s mischievous behavior, they naturally find ways to get revenge on the maknae. This includes things like taking pictures of Kyuhyun with his eyes shut and his mouth gaping open, legs splayed over the couch, hair mussed and face completely bare.
Ryeowook is Kyuhyun’s friend, so he takes it upon himself to protect Kyuhyun’s image the best he can.
Whenever D&E pounce on the opportunity to sneak up to Kyuhyun’s sleeping form and ready their phone cameras, Ryeowook is on high alert, feet already rising and arms reaching out to prevent Donghae from gleefully posting the embarrassing pictures on his SNS. With Eunhyuk, on the other hand, Ryeowook just summons every cute fiber from his being and distracts his hyung from playing the prank. This tactic usually has a 100% success rate because Eunhyuk is normally weak to Ryeowook and adores him a lot.
With Donghae, it’s also easy. It’s because Donghae is scared of Ryeowook.
Ryeowook may be their beloved maknae, but he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. Particularly some delicious blackmail material that he can cheerfully ‘threaten’ Donghae with.
With that, D&E are cleared — oh, and Yesung, too. Because Yesung is just too kind to embarrass Kyuhyun like that.
Ah, another person, too. Siwon. Siwon just adores Kyuhyun, and doesn’t want to do anything that may possibly upset him.
However, Leeteuk, Heechul, and Shindong are a different story.
So, Ryeowook tries a new tactic to keep them away.
Kyuhyun hasn’t been getting much sleep lately because of his hectic schedules. So, whenever they’re in the waiting room, he tries to get as much sleep as he can, like what Leeteuk normally does. Because of this, he carries his trusty book with him each day and falls asleep after the usual five or ten minutes of reading.
This time though, Ryeowook insists on sitting next to Kyuhyun every day.
He makes sure that he and Kyuhyun are styled at the same time, that he and Kyuhyun are dressed at the same time, and that he and Kyuhyun wait in the same room at the same time. That way, things will be easier.
This time, when Kyuhyun sits on the sofa, book in hand, Ryeowook is right there next to him, smiling innocently, either playing games on his phone or making casual talk with Kyuhyun or any of the staff. Kyuhyun is confused at first as to why Ryeowook is suddenly sticking next to him more than usual, but waves it off eventually as one of those “weird Super Junior things people don’t need to know about”.
This time, when Kyuhyun falls asleep, Ryeowook is there to catch him.
He gently lays Kyuhyun’s head on his shoulder, smiles in satisfaction, and then goes back to what he’s doing.
He does this every time they have a schedule and when they’re in the waiting room or in the van or anywhere else whenever they take a small break. Because of this, the members rarely disturb them, and there are no longer any new embarrassing and adorable sleeping Kyuhyun photos on their phones anymore.
One day, Heechul becomes desperate to update his gallery with sleeping Kyuhyun pics, but he stops in his tracks the moment he sees the maknae sleeping on Ryeowook’s shoulder. Ryeowook notices him at that moment and smiles and waves, but there’s a dangerous glint in his eyes when he sees Heechul’s hands on his phone, ready to take a picture.
Heechul doesn’t take long to back away from the scene, but not before cooing at the sight of the two youngest members of the group just being adorable together.
It also doesn’t take long for the nosy members to start pestering Ryeowook about this new ‘sleeping arrangement’.
“Is there something wrong with it?” Ryeowook asks nonchalantly.
“Aren’t you sticking to him too much these days?” Siwon asks curiously.
“Isn’t his head heavy?” Donghae adds.
“Doesn’t he snore too loudly?” Eunhyuk pipes in.
“Does Kyuhyun mind you doing that?” Yesung asks.
“What’s his reaction when he wakes up?” Leeteuk says excitedly.
“Yes I am, no, no, no, and…” Ryeowook takes a brief moment to recall the memory in his head. “Well, the first time he woke up and saw that he fell asleep on my shoulder, hmm… he didn’t really have any reaction...”
There’s a beat of silence, then it breaks by the sound of Siwon’s humorless chuckle.
“As expected, that kid didn’t show any emotion,” he remarks.
Ryeowook shrugs. It’s fine. He’s actually used to Kyuhyun being that way. Always calm, composed, and incredibly casual. He has rarely seen Kyuhyun show any sort of extreme emotion which is one of the things Ryeowook secretly admires about him. He wishes he can be like that too, because he often wears his heart on his sleeve and can be read like an open book most of the time.
Which is what Yesung points out next when the two of them are alone in the room minutes later.
“Isn’t it disappointing, though?”
Ryeowook looks at him, seeing the concern in Yesung’s eyes. He smiles. “It’s okay, hyung. I’ve already known and accepted it for years that Kyuhyun will never like me back.”
Perhaps, yes. It’s why he’s always so protective of Kyuhyun. Even though Kyuhyun honestly doesn’t mind the embarrassing pictures — besides, he can just get revenge on them later — Ryeowook is always the one worried for him, especially over the little things. To him, Kyuhyun is like a golden statue; composed and unmoved, proud and beautiful, but also unreachable, impenetrable.
But he also has his weaknesses. He’s fiercely independent, but Ryeowook just wants to take care of him nevertheless.
If Kyuhyun is the statue, then Ryeowook is the one who cleans and polishes him.
“Cheer up, Ryeonggu,” Yesung says sympathetically, patting the younger on the back soothingly.
When it comes to feelings, Ryeowook becomes weak-willed and obvious. It’s why Yesung and the others know about his feelings towards Kyuhyun.
On the other hand, Kyuhyun is like a snail living under a rock, because he does not have a single clue at all.
So for Ryeowook, the gentle expression on Kyuhyun’s face whenever they converse, the slow smile he gives whenever Ryeowook laughs, the soft voice he uses whenever Ryeowook is upset, and the attentive body gesture he shows whenever Ryeowook opens up to him are just all a part of Kyuhyun’s kind nature, a personality he often shows to the people he cares about. For Ryeowook, Kyuhyun would just behave the same way when it comes to the other members as well. There’s nothing special in the way Kyuhyun treats him like he treats his hyungs and close friends.
Ryeowook has spent years being content with this kind of situation and he has never allowed himself any expectations from their friendship.
At least, that way, he wouldn’t get disappointed. He wouldn’t get hurt.
It’s better this way…
“I’m sure there’s something, though,” Yesung begins to insist, his eyes shining with wonder and confusion. “There must be a reason why he only looks at you that way.”
Ryeowook turns to him, confused. “What do you mean?”
Yesung blinks. “I mean… that expression. You know? The kind of face he makes whenever you two are together.”
Ryeowook furrows his brow, puzzled. “What are you talking about, hyung? He looks at me the same way he does to the others. Like you.”
Yesung stifles a chuckle. “The only soft expression I can get from Kyuhyun is when he’s acting in order to play a prank on me,” he says, snickering.
Ryeowook can’t help but crack a smile at that.
Not soon after that though, the members shuffle inside the room, and their conversation comes to an end.
Ryeowook tries not to let Yesung’s words bother him, but they linger in his mind all day, taunting him, baiting him with futile hope.
“There must be a reason why he only looks at you that way.”
So, one day, he knocks on Kyuhyun’s hotel room door after washing up, hoping to find an answer of his own. They’re filming the new music video in a different city, so the timing is just right where nobody can see them, hear them, or interrupt them since they’re in the safety of their private space.
For a moment, Ryeowook rethinks his decision; his palms feel cold and clammy and there’s something funny going on in his stomach. He feels like he’s about to vomit.
Is this really a good idea…? is Ryeowook’s absent thought in his mind when Kyuhyun finally opens the door, looking like he just woke up from a nap.
“Oh, Ryeonggu?” he exclaims, all traces of sleepiness gone in an instant. “What are you doing here?”
Ryeowook swallows. His plan completely flies out the window the moment he sees Kyuhyun’s face. Suddenly he thinks that this is indeed not a good idea at all. He’s too much of a coward when it comes to things like this.
He should’ve just slept this dilemma away and gone back to acting like normal.
“A–Ah, I was just wondering if… if you…” Ryeowook stammers, mind blank.
Kyuhyun raises an eyebrow, concern and confusion all over his features. “If I… what… ?”
Ryeowook’s entire body tingles and he feels his flight response triggering him to act on it immediately. However, that won’t be fair to Kyuhyun, and he might suspect something if Ryeowook just turns on his heel and leaves without any explanation.
So he just says the first thing that comes to mind — a silly excuse. “I… I don’t want to be alone tonight… can I sleep here with you?”
That catches Kyuhyun off-guard. Ryeowook can see it from the way his eyes grow impossibly wide and his lips part open in surprise. Then, unexpectedly, Kyuhyun rubs the back of his head, presumably in embarrassment, and steps aside for Ryeowook to come in.
Ryeowook’s heart pounds in his chest when he enters the room, and his stomach does flips when he hears the click of the door closing behind him, sealing his fate.
“It’s funny…” Kyuhyun remarks as he makes himself comfortable on his bed, sitting up and leaning against the headboard. “I used to be the one going to your room…”
Ryeowook hesitantly sits on the edge of the bed, but smiles as he recalls the distant memory in his head. “That was when we were in the dorms as trainees. Because you didn’t have a bed of your own.”
“I used to visit your room sometimes too when we lived in the dorms, even when we weren’t trainees anymore,” Kyuhyun says, and his face lights up with a bright smile.
Ryeowook tries not to react to that smile, but his heart pounds just a little bit faster.
“You just visited me in those times because you wanted someone to drink with,” Ryeowook points out.
Kyuhyun laughs at that. “I can’t deny that, I guess.”
And Ryeowook’s heart just sinks a little bit.
But it’s fine, he thinks. It’s been like this for thirteen years already.
“What are you still sitting there for? Come over here,” Kyuhyun says, patting the empty space beside him. “Let’s watch a movie together.”
That catches Ryeowook’s attention and he perks up slightly. “A movie?”
Kyuhyun nods. “We can watch anything here,” he says as he grabs the remote and searches for something interesting to watch. “I have some wine here, too. Wanna drink?”
As expected, Kyuhyun who always brings his own wine everywhere, Ryeowook thinks to himself in amusement.
They spend the night drinking, laughing, and chatting, all the while watching TV. It reminds Ryeowook of the old days, when the two of them chilled in Ryeowook’s room, just talking about anything in particular while drinking wine. Like in those times back then, they usually get so immersed in conversation that they go on for a while without realizing how many sips they’ve taken.
Soon, the two movies end along with their loud chatter. After turning off the screen, Ryeowook feels Kyuhyun’s head drop to his shoulder, and for the first time ever since he started making the maknae sleep on him, his entire body tenses up and his skin prickles. He feels like his stomach has dropped to the ground.
He’s sweating. God, even his palms are sweating.
Maybe it’s because they’re alone, away from prying eyes, away from any possible attention.
Maybe it’s because they’re in the same bed.
Get a grip, Kim Ryeowook, he scolds himself internally and, as carefully as he can, lays his friend on the bed until he’s in a supine position. Ryeowook also curls under the warmth of the comforter, turning on his side so he can look at Kyuhyun closely.
Since he has only been letting Kyuhyun sleep on his shoulder, it’s been a while since Ryeowook saw the maknae’s face up close like this. And, as expected, Kyuhyun looks handsome; not devastatingly handsome like Siwon, not charmingly handsome like Yesung, not unbelievably pretty like Heechul, but the kind of handsome that’s so casual, so simple, so calm, and so down-to-earth.
Ryeowook’s eyes drift from the entirety of Kyuhyun’s face to every single one of the younger’s features. From the hair to the forehead, then the eyebrows, the closed lids, the nose, the cheeks...
Ryeowook feels his heart skip a beat.
Has it always looked that tempting? Ryeowook can’t remember. In order to hold himself back most of the time, he made it a habit to look at Kyuhyun’s entire face only in the years they’ve been together, or even just any part of his face with the exception of his lips.
Because mistakes are bound to happen — like that time thirteen years ago.
He’d been drunk and out of his mind. Actually, they both were. They’d been young and curious. Maybe they just wanted to try it out. Who knows? All Ryeowook can remember from that night is the taste of alcohol mixed with Kyuhyun’s tongue in his throat, and that only he can remember those blurry parts of his memory. Kyuhyun acted like nothing happened back then and did not even bat an eyelid when he saw Ryeowook the morning after. Instead, it was Ryeowook who became awkward and clumsy with him at that time.
And when he gathered his courage to ask Kyuhyun if he remembered anything, Kyuhyun responded that he blacked out after his fourth glass and could not recall a single thing.
That had been a relief — and shamefully, a disappointment as well.
Since then Ryeowook has sworn never to look at Kyuhyun’s lips again, because after that fateful night he found that it was oddly easy to lose control and give in to temptation.
Especially whenever Kyuhyun was sleeping and unaware.
It made Ryeowook feel like an absolute .
But this time, the alcohol is controlling him, making him unable to hold on to his sanity. Feeling light-headed, he leans closer, ever so slowly, all the while staring at Kyuhyun’s face, noting the latter’s long eyelashes and the deep rhythm of his breathing.
Isn’t this wrong...?
The sudden little voice in Ryeowook’s head serves as a small warning bell, causing him to stop his movements when he’s just centimeters away from Kyuhyun’s lips.
What... am I doing...?
Kyuhyun wouldn’t like this...
Ryeowook shakes his head slightly, trying to regain back the pieces of rationality that are missing from his brain.
At least not while he’s sleeping...
He doesn’t know how long he’s been frozen in this kind of position, just staring at those tempting lips, at that small parting where Kyuhyun quietly breathes in and out of. Blinking hard, Ryeowook forces his gaze upwards, and then he almost has a heart attack.
He finds Kyuhyun’s wide-open eyes locked on his own, and Ryeowook’s pulse begins to quicken in panic.
But for some reason, fear and alarm has frozen his limbs and made him stay put. Like a deer in the headlights, he can’t bring himself to blink and he unconsciously swallows the nervous lump in his throat, his mind becoming startlingly clear.
Kyuhyun, on the other hand, is just looking at him. There’s no emotion in his eyes whatsoever, not even the slightest crease on his features. It kind of feels like looking at a blank canvas, and it’s honestly unnerving.
“K—Kyuhyun-ah...” he whispers, filled with shame and embarrassment.
Thirteen years. He managed to pull himself together for thirteen years. But now his traitorous heart and mind decided to slip up and give him this kind of awkward situation that Ryeowook is 100% sure he won’t be able to fix so easily. Even though they’re good friends, surely Kyuhyun won’t forgive him so soon. Not when he is caught so shamefully in the middle of the act.
After what seems to be an eternity, Kyuhyun’s gaze shifts into that of curiosity. He hasn’t moved an inch either, and his expression now seems to be like a scientist examining his laboratory sample.
“Well?” Kyuhyun says, his voice low and deep, and it cuts Ryeowook’s sensitive heart.
‘Aren’t you going to apologize?’ Ryeowook can almost imagine him saying those words next.
“Aren’t you going to do it?” Kyuhyun interrupts, his tone completely unreadable.
Ryeowook shuts his eyes. “I... I am, I... I’m really sorry, Kyuhyun-ah—”
“What are you doing ?” Kyuhyun cuts in.
“I—I... I have no excuse, I don’t know why I did that either—”
“What’s with you?”
Hesitantly, Ryeowook opens his eyes, puzzled by the change of note in Kyuhyun’s voice. For some reason, it sounds lighter than he expected...?
His gaze meets Kyuhyun’s, and in that instant, something dances in the latter’s eyes. Amusement, maybe?
And... is that a smirk playing on his lips?
“...You’re kidding me, right?” Kyuhyun says, and his smile grows just a little bit wider.
Ryeowook blinks. “What? I... I was just apologizing l—like you wanted me to...”
“Since when did I ask you for an apology?” The tone in his voice is more casual now, bordering on amusement.
The confusion is muddling Ryeowook’s brain. “Uh... when you asked me... if I was gonna do it or not...?”
A light chuckle breaks the tense atmosphere.
“An apology isn’t what I asked for,” Kyuhyun explains patiently, lips curving even more, “but a kiss.”
Suddenly the room feels hot. Or is it just his skin that’s on fire?
Ryeowook can’t believe his ears. He must be hearing things already. He should not have drunk a lot of wine tonight.
“P—Pardon...?” he squeaks out.
Kyuhyun raises an eyebrow. “Oh? I didn’t think of you as the type to make people wait... and I’ve been waiting for that kiss the past ten minutes now, too.”
Ryeowook’s breath catches in his throat.
“So, for the last time, are you not going to do it?”
Yep. He’s definitely hearing things. There is no way — there is absolutely no way — that Kyuhyun is asking him for such an embarrassing thing like this. This only happens in his wildest dreams. It is not reality.
Ryeowook swears never to drink so much again.
Kyuhyun sighs, annoyed at the lack of response from his friend. “Well, fine, if you won’t do it, then I will.”
Before Ryeowook’s cloudy mind can fully comprehend the words, Kyuhyun has already leaned in, grabbed him by the neck, and closed the gap between their mouths.
It’s sudden, it’s explosive, it’s sweet, it’s fierce, and it’s slow at first and then demanding—
...Just like that night thirteen years ago.
That night, Ryeowook had been the one who initiated it — a slow, experimental kiss, just something to satiate the burning curiosity.
But the hesitant kissing flew out the window when Kyuhyun began to reciprocate, and before Ryeowook knew it, the younger already invaded his mouth, tasting every inch of him, fingers grabbing at his hair, twisting his shirt, pulling their bodies impossibly close.
Just like that night, Ryeowook finds himself being invaded once more, and his back is suddenly pressed against the bed and hands are cupping at his cheeks, legs are straddling his hips, and his mouth is being coaxed open by a demanding tongue. Like a ship drowning at sea, he desperately grabs at the mattress under him, clenching the material in his grip. He can’t hear anything except for the incessant pounding of his heartbeat, and it gives him such a dizzy, heady sensation that he feels like he’s floating in air.
When Kyuhyun parts their mouths to breathe, he gazes at the man under him with half-lidded eyes, fingers tracing the latter’s cheekbones.
“How long did you wait...?” Kyuhyun says, his warm breath fanning across Ryeowook’s face.
Cheeks flushed and mind uncomprehending, Ryeowook manages out, “...What?”
“How long have you liked me?” Kyuhyun repeats, never breaking eye-contact.
The deep flush spreads down Ryeowook’s neck in embarrassment. “Th—Thirteen years...” he admits, feeling trapped in the younger’s passionate gaze.
“Thirteen years...” The words roll off Kyuhyun’s tongue, and he smiles, eyes growing soft. “You’ve waited a long time.”
For some reason, tears gather in Ryeowook’s eyes. It’s like something inside him has been set free. “Y...Yeah... but...”
“Let me guess, it was that night?” Kyuhyun says casually as though he were talking about the weather.
Ryeowook’s eyes go wide. “Wait, you remember— ?”
“Of course I do. I never black out even when I drink too much.” Kyuhyun chuckles in amusement. “Was I a good actor...? Heh... It was shameful of me, though... I was scared back then to admit it, so...” He leans back a little and smiles softly, the sincerity shining in his eyes. “I’m sorry...”
“No need to be sorry,” Ryeowook says quickly. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I... I was just as scared as you were...”
Kyuhyun nods, still having that gentle expression on his face. “I made you wait so long, I’m still sorry...” He brings up his hand and starts Ryeowook’s cheek, the touch so gentle that Ryeowook feels his heart flutter in response. “If it makes you feel better though... I waited for you, too.”
Ryeowook can’t help but smile. “Thirteen years for you too, huh...?”
Kyuhyun grins, shaking his head. “Actually, for me, it’s been fifteen years already.”
Ryeowook’s mind goes blank. “Fif...teen years...?”
Kyuhyun laughs. “Call me cheesy, but it was love at first sight for me. But you only cared for me platonically back then. I started to think I could never have a chance with you at all.
“Until you kissed me first two years later that night. As expected, alcohol is the only one I trust,” Kyuhyun says dramatically.
Ryeowook blinks, then laughs outright. The sound of his laughter makes Kyuhyun’s smile grow bigger.
“We’re both idiots, aren’t we...?” Ryeowook sighs.
“You’re my idiot now,” Kyuhyun jokes, leaning down to steal another kiss.
“Isn’t it disappointing, though?”
“It’s okay, hyung. I’ve already known and accepted it for years that Kyuhyun will never like me back.”
Kyuhyun almost dropped the water container he was holding.
“Cheer up, Ryeonggu… I’m sure there’s something, though. There must be a reason why he only looks at you that way.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean… that expression. You know? The kind of face he makes whenever you two are together.”
Hiding himself behind the door, Kyuhyun strained to hear more of the conversation.
“What are you talking about, hyung? He looks at me the same way he does to the others. Like you.”
“The only soft expression I can get from Kyuhyun is when he’s acting to play a prank on me.”
And Kyuhyun chose that opportunity to walk into the room as casually as he could, pretending to be immersed in a game on his phone.
The conversation died after that, and Kyuhyun was left with a few thoughts that he wanted to mull over in his head.
‘When would be the right time?’
“Can I still keep sleeping on your shoulder?” Kyuhyun asks, lacing their fingers together as he leans in to kiss Ryeowook’s cheek.
Ryeowook sighs gently. “Of course you can. Everything can be just like normal even after this.”
“Except for this,” Kyuhyun emphasizes, lifting their intertwined hands.
Ryeowook laughs. “Yes, except for this.”
Kyuhyun smiles. “By the way, Ryeonggu…”
Kyuhyun leans toward his ear, breath tickling the skin.
“…Next time, kiss me while I’m sleeping.”