romance, angst, college!AU, [attemptedhumor]
Joonmyun didn't know you could feel this far away from someone you're living with.
“Is this the last of the boxes?” Joonmyun asks once he’s put down the ones in his arms.
“Yeah, it is,” Jongin replies. He starts to unload the contents from a box, and Joonmyun does the same.
“It’s amazing that we can go to the same university together. I would have never imagined it, you know?”
Jongin hums in response, beginning to pack away his clothes in the dresser. In most cases, childhood friends separate after high school because of different colleges, but he and Joonmyun are lucky enough to have received admission into the same university.
Jongin used to be the type of person who liked to spend time on his own, rather than going out to kill time in the streets. Quiet and reserved, people would call him. He came into contact with Joonmyun the most because they had known each other since infancy.
“What are you doing?” Joonmyun would ask as he walked into Jongin’s room, and Jongin would answer him using five words or less. On rare occasions, he used ten.
Joonmyun was the opposite of Jongin. He knew people from every group in school, it seemed. One of his greatest talents was striking up a conversation and making it run smoothly without even one awkward pause, and this quality made him highly admired by boys and girls alike. Not only that, he always offered help to someone in need, and no one had ever seen him badmouth another person.
But that was an interesting point about Joonmyun. Besides Jongin, there was probably nobody that knew Joonmyun wore such a guarded mask. He was known for smiling in pretty much any situation, even during class, when other students were bored to death. In school, he rarely displayed his emotions, and kept his anger and sadness at bay when he grew temperamental. In front of Jongin though, a lot of those suppressed frustrations emerged. The difference between Joonmyun mask on and Joonmyun mask off was huge. He wasn’t perfect, that was certain. He complained a lot, cried some, and had bad days just like everyone else. Jongin knew much more about Joonmyun than the whole student body combined.
It was weird and hard to explain, but Jongin only had Joonmyun, and Joonmyun only had Jongin.
That’s why Joonmyun didn’t know what he should be feeling when Jongin started finding other friends and coming home past 1 AM in the morning, sometimes so drunk he simply passed out on the floor. Joonmyun thought Jongin would only stick to him, even though he knew it was a selfish desire.
“Explain to me why he’s acting this way,” Joonmyun wails to Chanyeol one day, face pressed against his journalism homework. He’s known Chanyeol since high school but they’ve become closer due to both of them studying in the same department.
Chanyeol’s glasses slide down his nose, and he pushes them back up before he speaks. “I don’t know, why don’t you ask him? It’d be better than you moping and trying to guess everything by yourself. Aren’t you childhood friends?”
“I don’t know. There’s like this suffocating distance between us that I can’t get over. Am I the only one who feels like this?”
“Has he been spending time with you at all?” Chanyeol flips the corner of his textbook pages, a habit of his when he tries to juggle studying and Joonmyun at the same time.
“He always eats breakfast with me, even if his classes don’t start until way later. I don’t get that! What’s the point of eating breakfast with someone if you’re just gonna disappear for the rest of the day? What was the point of us even being roommates?” Joonmyun sits up straight. There is a streak of graphite across his cheek, but Chanyeol doesn’t have the heart to tell him.
“Convenience? It would be awkward to live with someone you don’t even know.”
“What about him eating breakfast with me?”
“Maybe you make very good waffles?” Chanyeol throws out as a suggestion. He’s had firsthand experience on how heavenly Joonmyun’s breakfast goods are.
Joonmyun huffs in dissatisfaction and goes back to writing up his thesis.
Jongin’s home for once. Joonmyun takes the golden opportunity to ask him if he’s open to watching a movie.
“What movie?” Jongin asks.
“I don’t know. Whatever’s showing in the theaters right now?” Joonmyun doesn’t keep up with the latest titles. All he wanted was to revive this dying friendship by being with Jongin.
“Alright.” The agreement comes easier than Joonmyun thought it would be, but he also feels like the room’s gotten a little colder.
“Did you like it?” Joonmyun asks after they’ve made their way out of the dark, winding hallway from the movie theater.
“It was good,” Jongin smiles, a rare occurrence when he’s with Joonmyun recently (Joonmyun keeps tally marks of this in his planner but that’s a secret to anyone who asks).
“I thought it was great! The characterization of Holly could be worked on a little, but the plot was really good. You know, the director had this idea in his mind ever since he was fifteen? To think his idea from his teenage years would make it to a film twenty years later…” Joonmyun’s rambling again. He tends to do that a lot more with Jongin than anyone else. “Sorry, I’m talking too fast, aren’t I?”
“It’s okay,” Jongin says, zipping up his jacket as they step out into the cold, winter air. “I can understand you just fine.”
A step forward. Joonmyun’s cheeks flush a mild pink at his progress.
A week later, Joonmyun feels like he’s taken three steps back. The only time he ever sees Jongin is breakfast unless the other is too hungover to properly function. If that’s the case, then he’ll take some extra time to force water down Jongin’s throat until he’s able to listen to Joonmyun speak without groaning in pain.
Joonmyun comforts himself with the fact that Jongin hasn’t actually stayed over at anyone’s place for a full night. He’ll always come back to the dorm, whether it’s 11 at night or 4 in the morning.
“It’s almost as if he trusts only me to see the buzzed out side of him!” Joonmyun gushes to Minseok one day. “Like I’m the only one who can take care of him!”
Minseok gives him a pointed look, and says, “Okay, Joonmyun, whatever you say.”
And it’s time for another one of Chanyeol’s multitasking study sessions, because Joonmyun has turned to him again for advice, which is actually more along the lines of him ranting and wailing in despair.
“How do you tell someone that you want them to spend more time with you and that they shouldn’t hang out with other people so much?” Joonmyun’s eyebrows might just be permanently be stuck in that worried look if he doesn’t find a solution to his dilemma soon.
“You tell them, ‘Hey, please spend more time with me and stop hanging out with other people so much.’”
“Are you crazy! How could I just say that?!”
Chanyeol winces at Joonmyun’s shrieking. “Please quiet down. My ears are very precious to me. But Joonmyun, you and Jongin are childhood friends. He’s not your crush or anything, so you can be straightforward with him. Haven’t you always been?”
“Everything just got so awkward after college started,” Joonmyun says. “In high school, I could say whatever I want to him, and he wouldn’t respond but I knew he was listening. Now it’s like he doesn’t want to be there. I can feel the dislike, Chanyeol, I can feel it.”
“You’re overreacting. I’m pretty sure that nothing has changed and you’re just dramatizing every action he does. So what if he finds some new friends? That’s not necessarily going to change the way he thinks about you.”
“If you’re really worried, then just go and have a talk with him. No beating around the bush like your personality makes you prone to.”
“And that’s the most ironic thing I’ve heard come out of Kim Joonmyun’s mouth, of all people. Once you start speaking, the conversation will go along just fine. Don’t worry about it,” Chanyeol says, giving Joonmyun a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder.
Joonmyun hopes Chanyeol’s right.
Joonmyun does try very hard to talk to Jongin, but he can’t help it that every time he tries to speak, his throat closes up and sound can’t even make it past his lips. Nobody’s ever affected him like this, and Joonmyun is unsure how to solve the problem using a method that doesn’t involve pure confrontation.
It should be simple. All he has to do is open his mouth and tell Jongin that he wants them to spend more time together, like they did in the past. What’s the worst that could happen? Jongin’s not exactly the type that would say, “No, let’s not do that,” but Joonmyun’s afraid anyways.
“Dumb, I am useless. Useless!” Joonmyun mock sobs, pouring some orange juice in a decently clean cup for himself.
“Why are you calling yourself useless?” Jongin comes in. “Give me some too.” He points to the orange juice.
The entire carton nearly slips out of Joonmyun’s hand in his surprise. “Jongin! I didn’t know you were home.” He manages to regain his composure and start looking for another decently clean cup. They should really start washing the dishes on a more regular basis.
“Why, does it matter?” Jongin raises an eyebrow. “Were you going to bring your girlfriend over?”
“No, no, no,” Joonmyun laughs nervously. Girlfriend? Is that the reason Jongin has been out so much? He pours the orange juice shakily, barely managing to avoid a sticky spill on the counter. “Do you have a girlfriend, Jongin?”
“Yeah,” Jongin replies, voice monotone.
It’s not the answer Joonmyun expects so it’s a good thing he’s already put the orange juice away in the fridge. Nothing left for him to drop and spill. “Oh, how nice!” he forces on a smile. “When do I get to meet her?” Somehow, his own words feel like they’re cutting into his lips and leaving a burning sensation on his tongue. His throat feels dry.
Jongin chuckles in response, downing the orange juice with four loud gulps.
Well then. Joonmyun probably isn’t going to meet her any time soon.
“Why does he have a girlfriend?” Joonmyun whines after his fourth can of beer. “Chanyeol, do you understand the problem here? Do you?” He points rather rudely at Chanyeol in the way that drunks do, and falls over.
Chanyeol only sighs. “So you haven’t taken my advice but you’re back here to complain about Jongin…why?” He covers his forehead with his hand. “What’s the problem with him having a girlfriend?”
“I don’t know,” Joonmyun opens his eyes wide and blinks rapidly, as if doing so will help him figure out this ever growing dilemma in his mind. Why does he feel bad about Jongin dating someone? No
concrete answer exists, yet the mere thought makes his insides twist up even worse than when he was taking college entrance exams.
“You’re probably jealous that someone like Jongin could get a girlfriend before you,” Chanyeol offers his most logical explanation. “He’s always been hard to approach for most people, while you’re Mr. Handsome and Wonderful in Every Way Possible. Is that right?”
Joonmyun furrows his eyebrows. No, not really right…It looks like Chanyeol has grown six eyes and two bright yellow horns. Perhaps he should stop drinking so much.
He downs the rest of the can and throws it behind him. Ah, a satisfying action.
“Will you stop that?” Chanyeol says, picking the can up and dropping it into a plastic bag with the other three cans Joonmyun had thrown behind him just like this one. “Are you done crying about your stupid roommate?”
“I don’t feel jealous of him,” Joonmyun finally says, wagging a finger at his best friend. His line of vision is spiraling away from him. The entire room is flashing green and pink. “It just irks me. The fact that someone’s dating him.” He hiccups. “Very irritating.”
“Joonmyun…are you jealous of the girl?” Chanyeol asks.
Joonmyun blinks a few times before the question settles long enough in his brain for him to have processed and understood its meaning. “Jealous of the girl…yes. I am. She gets to talk to him all the time and I don’t?! I’m supposed to be his childhood friend. How can he do this to me?”
Chanyeol looks worried, but Joonmyun doesn’t catch it because of how knocked out he is. “Okay, okay, okay, let me get this straight. Are you jealous of her because she gets to talk to Jongin more or are you angry because you’re not the one dating Jongin?”
Chanyeol peers over the table. “Joonmyun? Hey, don’t just fall asleep on my floor you little shit!”
Joonmyun wakes up with a blanket over his torso and a slight headache. “Floor. I can’t sleep on the floor, I’m going to catch a cold.”
He sits up and looks around. This is not his place. This is someone else’s place. Chanyeol. Drinking. Wailing over Jongin. The memories of last night run through his mind as he tries to adjust to the sudden brightness of the room. “Too bright,” he covers his face with the blanket.
“It’s 9 in the morning, get your ass up and eat breakfast,” Chanyeol says. “What do you want to eat?”
“You want to eat my dorm? Are you alright, Joonmyun? I really would like it if you left my living space alone. I’ll get you anything else to eat though.”
“I need to get back to the dorm. My class is in thirty minutes, I’m going to die. Die. I don’t want to die, oh my god.” Joonmyun scrambles to get up, tripping over himself multiple times in the process.
Chanyeol is doubtful, but he makes no move to prevent Joonmyun from leaving. “You’re in no condition to attend classes. You’re just going to fall asleep anyways.”
“No I can do this! I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again,” Joonmyun insists. “I’ll see you later, Chanyeol. Thanks for dealing with me!”
Joonmyun stumbles into his own dorm, headache starting to hurt a little less and mind clearing a lot more. He wonders if Jongin’s awake.
He is. And waiting for Joonmyun on the couch, too. Joonmyun is a bit intimidated.
“Where have you been?” Jongin’s voice is even, but Joonmyun doesn’t think he’s seen Jongin this angry before.
“Friend’s,” Joonmyun’s voice disappears into the silent tension across the room. So sharp he could cut it.
“You could have notified me.”
“I was with Chanyeol. Nothing could happen,” Joonmyun argues. It’s not like he’s a girl. And why does Jongin care where Joonmyun’s been when he’s never home himself?
“I was worried,” Jongin says, the anger in his face falling away to reveal fear. “Something could have happened to you and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything. Bad things happen at night, Joonmyun.”
“There’s food on the counter if you’re hungry,” Jongin mumbles, and then he disappears into his room without another word.
Joonmyun can’t concentrate in World Cinema, too confused by Jongin’s sudden outburst to hear what the professor’s saying. It’s the most Jongin’s said to him in a while so Joonmyun must have really shaken him up. Joonmyun takes notes only a third of the time and ends up leaving his notebook with incoherent gaps in between half finished sentences.
“It doesn’t make sense if someone barely pays attention to you and then all of a sudden they want to know where you’ve been, right?” he asks Minseok as soon as the class period is over.
“How do you explain someone who doesn’t tell you where they are half the time, but if you don’t come home they get all mad at you?” Joonmyun repeats.
“Is this about Jongin again?” Minseok sighs. “Joonmyun, I’ve told you the same thing a hundred million times. Just talk to him and see what the problem is! If you can’t deal with him, then go live with someone else.”
“But it’s just – I, agh,” Joonmyun’s body is deciding whether to pass out or keep awake to finish this conversation. “Just tell me what it means if someone does that.”
“It probably means they’re worried about you,” Minseok says, wondering why Joonmyun can’t figure these things out for himself.
“Is there anything else? Do you think it means anything else?” Worried. Yes, that’s what Jongin had said he was. But Joonmyun needs to know if there’s something besides that.
The glare Minseok gives him prevents Joonmyun from prodding anymore, and he begins to pack away his stuff in his backpack.
Thanks to two huge reports he has to turn in this week, Joonmyun’s eyes have dark circles under them. He hasn’t gotten a lot of sleep and he feels like he’s come back from the deep depths of Hell.
It’s 2:05 in the morning. Joonmyun softly treads into the bedroom to see if Jongin’s sleeping.
Jongin’s kicked off part of his blankets, and his long limbs are spread out like a starfish. Joonmyun almost wants to laugh. Kicking blankets has been a bad habit of Jongin’s since elementary school, but Joonmyun’s surprised (and a little pleased) that the habit hasn’t left him. Some things never change.
“You’re going to get sick,” Joonmyun scolds, even though Jongin’s not awake to hear him. He pulls the blanket up to Jongin’s neck after tucking in the sleeping boy’s legs so they’re not dangling off the side of the bed.
“Joonmyun…” Jongin murmurs, crinkling his forehead.
Joonmyun’s hands immediately fly up to his face and he whacks himself with his knuckles from the impact. “I thought I was going to die, oh my god.” He breathes a sigh of relief when it sounds like Jongin’s snoring again.
As he presses his lips to Jongin’s forehead, Jongin’s wrinkles disappear instantly. Joonmyun shrinks back, waiting for any sign that Jongin’s awake but he receives none.
He did it out of impulse. It wasn’t planned, but a mistake.
“Goodnight,” he whispers, and goes in the bathroom to take a shower.
The next morning, Joonmyun watches Jongin closely for any hint of awkwardness towards him. So far he can find none. Jongin doesn’t avoid Joonmyun’s gaze, and he’s starting to become a little more talkative, like he was before college started.
“Did you stay up very late last night?” Jongin asks, teeth biting into a new slice of bread, jam spread liberally across it.
“Yeah, pretty late,” Joonmyun answers cautiously. Jongin doesn’t seem to know anything. Or is he just hiding it? “About 2 in the morning. I had reports to finish.”
“You look terrible. You did take a shower, right? I thought I heard you moving around in the middle of the night.” Jongin takes his plate and rinses it off in the sink.
Joonmyun nearly does a double take. If Jongin was awake to hear him moving around in the bathroom, then was he awake to feel Joonmyun’s kiss? Joonmyun itches to ask but he can’t, especially not if it’s something like this. “Y-yeah, I did,” he says, lips tugging into a smile of their own accord.
“Are you free tonight?”
Jongin clears his throat. “There was this restaurant I just found that I thought you might like. Do you want to eat dinner there? If you have time.”
“Yeah, I think I’m free.” Joonmyun tries to keep himself calm, but he’s shaking and there’s already butterflies in his stomach. This is the first time Jongin has initiated anything with Joonmyun; usually it’s Joonmyun who does the pulling in their relationship. “What’s with this sudden change, Jongin? I never thought you’d be the one to ask me out.”
Jongin grows flustered. “N-no reason!” he says defensively. “Isn’t it about time you leave for your classes?”
Joonmyun laughs and waves goodbye before leaving. He stores this memory of an unexpectedly cute Jongin in the back of his mind for future reference.
“Chanyeol!” Joonmyun slams his fists down heartily on the table along with his books. “I have things to tell you.”
“Jongin, I presume?” Chanyeol doesn’t even lift his eyes from his Macbook.
“Yup!” Joonmyun turns on his own laptop, searching for one of his spreadsheet files. “First, I have to tell you…this is kind of…but I think I like Jongin.”
Chanyeol nods, impressed. “So you figured that out.”
“What.” Did Chanyeol know before him?!
“I’m pretty sure anyone you talked to realized you liked Jongin before you. 90% of the time, it’s Jongin this, Jongin that, what am I going to do about Jongin if he doesn’t pay attention to me?” Chanyeol mimics Joonmyun’s voice, only it’s a higher and girlier version that Joonmyun thinks doesn’t represent him at all. “He’s the only thing you ever think about.”
“I don’t talk about him that much,” Joonmyun retorts childishly. After a moment of hesitation, he asks, “Was I really obvious?” Burying his face in his hands, he comforts himself with the fact he only complained about Jongin to Chanyeol and Minseok. Even so, it’s embarrassing. To be in love so blindly and have everyone be aware of that fact before you are.
“Are. You still are,” Chanyeol corrects his friend with a grin.
“But you don’t care at all? That I like a boy?” Joonmyun is surprised at how calmly Chanyeol’s taking this in. Chanyeol’s always been coolheaded when it comes to serious situations, but Joonmyun had at least expected a more exciting response.
“Why would it matter? Whether you like girls or boys or both, it doesn’t affect our friendship,” Chanyeol says, in a tone that makes Joonmyun feel stupid for asking. It’s funny how a few words can reassure him that everything’s going to be alright.
“Oh. Okay.” Joonmyun sits back in his chair, shoulders relaxing. He hadn’t noticed before, but it’s as if a heavy weight’s been lifted off of his shoulders after telling Chanyeol about his feelings towards Jongin.
They sit in silence for a while. There’s only the pleasant click clacking of Chanyeol’s keyboard and sounds of Joonmyun’s lead breaking every now and then.
“Well, the thing is, I did stuff to him when he was asleep–”
“You did what now?” Chanyeol interrupts.
“I didn’t do anything! I mean, I just kissed him on the forehead. That’s all. Don’t look at me like that,” Joonmyun tries furiously to get the right words out. His tongue has never felt this tangled up.
Chanyeol looks doubtful, but gestures for Joonmyun to go on.
“This morning, he said he heard me showering but I went to shower right after I kissed him so does that mean…?” Joonmyun takes a deep breath.
“He was probably awake when you kissed him…?” Chanyeol puts a hand to his chest, using the same dramatic tone as Joonmyun to tease him. Then he drops the tone when Joonmyun looks a little more hopeful and says, “You’re fucked.”
“Thanks for the encouragement,” Joonmyun answers, sullen. He receives an evil laugh in response. “But he confused me even more after that because for dinner he wants to take me to this place he just found recently, and he’s never, ever asked me out on his own will. It was always me who did that kinda thing.”
Chanyeol leans in real close towards Joonmyun. “He knows, Joonmyun, he knows.”
“I am going to fuck you up after this midterm is over,” Joonmyun says, smiling through his teeth.
“Okay, okay, okay, maybe he’s trying really hard to become close to you again. He probably cares about you.” It’s rare for Joonmyun to use threats and profanities so Chanyeol sobers up pretty fast.
“People are so confusing. And love’s confusing too. Why is it sought after so much?”
“You know, everything you say is so contradicting. I don’t understand how you could talk to everyone in high school, yet you still didn’t end up dating anybody,” Chanyeol says. If anything, Joonmyun would be voted #1 for being able to understand needs of others, but here he’s crying about how he can’t figure people out.
“I didn’t really like anyone in particular. To me, everyone was the same.”
“Except for Jongin.”
“Except for Jongin, but he was family,” Joonmyun points out. “A special case.”
Jongin had been a sort of rock for Joonmyun. Constant, never moving, never changing. Jongin had been someone Joonmyun could trust with all of his vulnerabilities. Joonmyun supposes that’s why he has such a hard time adjusting to the Jongin now.
“Are you going to confess to him, then?” Chanyeol asks. His screen’s gone into standby mode. He taps the space bar and it comes back to life.
Joonmyun doesn’t answer for a while. He knows for sure now that he likes Jongin, not in the way that he appreciates his friends, but in the way that makes him want to kiss Jongin and stay in bed together all day long. He wants to go places, like the amusement park (and win a big toy for Jongin) or the aquarium so he can watch Jongin get excited over the fish.
Joonmyun wants to love Jongin for a long time, grow old together maybe. But he can’t do that when Jongin’s clearly told him that he has a girlfriend. As much as he wants to be the number one person in Jongin’s life, he’s not going to ruin a relationship out of his own selfishness. “He’s not into boys.”
“Oh. His girlfriend, right?” Chanyeol had pretty much forgotten until Joonmyun’s reminder.
“Yeah,” Joonmyun closes his laptop. “Yeah.”
Back in high school, Joonmyun hadn’t been able to understand the pain of other people when they said they were experiencing unrequited love. He was generally open to dating anyone as long as they were kind, and didn’t have one specific person he was attached to.
Now he does.
It’s a little funny, he thinks. How long he and Jongin have been together, yet Joonmyun only fell for him now.
He feels a sharp tug of discomfort in his chest that evening, when Jongin smiles at him in the most wonderful way while slurping up a mouthful of noodles. Joonmyun knows he’s really in love because Jongin’s face sparkles, and no one’s face sparkles this beautifully while eating.
These feelings shouldn’t exist. Joonmyun has to suppress them, stomp them down like the bulky stacks of paper in the recycling bins behind the dorms. Jongin’s finally warmed up to him again, and Joonmyun’s not going to screw their friendship over by putting love in the picture.
To his dismay, the pain only gets worse as time passes. The familiar sensation returns on a daily basis, if Jongin decides to squeeze next to Joonmyun on the bed as he tries to study seven chapters at once, or laugh at Joonmyun’s lame jokes even though he used to hate them. It hurts. It really does.
“Too close,” he says in response to Jongin basically climbing on top of him and smushing his poor 173 cm body.
“Too close,” Joonmyun shoves Jongin off of him, but he pushes too hard and within the next second, Jongin’s on the floor.
Jongin’s shocked, either from the impact of the shove or the fact that Joonmyun shoved him at all. Maybe both. “Joonmyun?”
“Sorry, I just..” Joonmyun says. He feels like throwing up.
Jongin doesn’t move from where he’s landed on the floor, and Joonmyun gets off the bed to leave the dorm. He breaks into a run, pushing past people endlessly until he has no more energy left in him and he comes to a halt in front of the school gardens.
He sits on a rock after checking that it is indeed a sitting stone and not a precious exhibition he’s going to somehow damage with his rear end.
It’s not Jongin’s fault that Joonmyun likes him. It’s not his fault that every time he comes near Joonmyun, Joonmyun has this insatiable urge to kiss Jongin and tell him how great and amazing and unbelievably wonderful of a human he is.
For once, Joonmyun can’t control his anger or sadness, and it’s because of Kim Jongin. He’s plummeting down a spiraling hole that has no end and no return because his feelings are only growing stronger by the day, instead of fading like he thought they would. The fear of losing a cherished friend and love for that same friend should cancel each other out, but they don’t. Joonmyun is clouded with more emotions than he thinks is humane and he doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong anymore.
“I don’t wanna go back,” he buries his face in his hands. “I hope he goes out before I get there.”
Joonmyun listens to the sound of his own breathing as he tries to calm down and think rationally. Inhale. Exhale. He’s not really sure how he’s going to act towards Jongin after today. It’s hard to hide something as strong as attraction, especially if said subject of attraction likes to touch you and laugh at your jokes and smile at you with sunbeams coming from behind their head. And there should be a law against Kim Jongin smiling, because every time he does, Joonmyun feels like kissing him and crying at the same time.
Is it unrealistic of him to wish that Jongin might be looking for him right now? He laughs softly to himself.
He’s always been a wishful thinker.
Joonmyun slinks back into the dorm an hour later, head checking left and right of him to see if Jongin’s home.
“You’re back,” Jongin says as he comes out of the bathroom. He’s only wearing shorts, and Joonmyun almost cries at the fresh scent of soap lingering on Jongin’s body.
“I’ve been in a bad mood. Sorry I took it out on you.” Joonmyun fidgets with the drawstrings on his hoodie. Smooth it over. Smooth it over. Everything will be fine.
He knows it’ll be really hard pretending everything is fine when he sees that the expression on Jongin’s face is solemn. Jongin asks, “Is there something wrong? I probably can’t help you that much, but if you want to talk about it...” His voice is apprehensive, like Joonmyun’s water and Jongin’s afraid to have him slip through his fingers.
Joonmyun finds it ironic that Jongin has to ask him to reveal his vulnerable side right now, when he’s told Jongin everything going on in his life in the past without being asked. “It’s nothing important.”
If that means Joonmyun having to conceal his increasing love for the person he’s living with, then yeah, it’s nothing important.
It’s nothing having to watch Jongin every day and stay just friends. It’s nothing having to put his heart in someone who will never be able to take care of it, only drag it along on a path to ruin.
Jongin is careful not to brush against Joonmyun’s shoulder as he walks by, like he’s afraid he’ll get burned if they come into contact. Joonmyun hates it more than he admits, but he’s better off anyway with Jongin keeping a distance between them. “Your feelings are always important to me.” Eyes dark and serious, he glances over at Joonmyun.
Does he know something he shouldn’t? Joonmyun’s curious, but he’s too tired and afraid to ask.
Because Jongin cares so much, because he actually took the effort to ask Joonmyun what was wrong, Joonmyun falls a little harder in each second he spends with Jongin. He wishes he could give an honest answer, just so Jongin wouldn’t feel this guilty for making Joonmyun lash out at him.
But he can’t. At least, not now.
Perhaps there will come a time when Joonmyun can act like he used to around Jongin. If that time comes, he’ll tell him all about what was “wrong” in college, in a place where the sole existence of Kim Jongin doesn’t make Joonmyun fall apart anymore. In a place where Joonmyun can say that he’s no longer in love with his childhood friend and be telling the truth.
“Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.”
“You look like absolute shit.”
“I’m glad you think I’m beautiful,” Joonmyun says dryly.
His best friend’s face is a mixture of worry and horror, wrinkles set deep into his handsome features. “Have you been sleeping at all?”
Joonmyun is too fatigued to even blink when Chanyeol puts his hand on Joonmyun’s forehead. “No fever,” Chanyeol says.
“Nah, it’s just too much work. It’s not like Jongin causes insomnia for me or anything, he just disturbs my inner peace.”
“Which is basically causing you to lose sleep because you’re thinking about him when you should be focusing on studying,” Chanyeol translates. That about sums it up, Joonmyun thinks.
Joonmyun doesn’t even want to be here. He should be back in bed. Actually, he should be in bed for the next seventy two hours if he ever wants to feel normal again.
“Why don’t you live at my place for the time being?”
“They don’t let first years live outside of the dormitory.”
“It’s not like they even actually check.”
“Do you honestly think I want to be in the place where you and your girlfriend get it on? No thank you.” It’s not that Joonmyun really cares that much. He’s just making up excuses so he doesn’t have to bother Chanyeol more than he already does.
“I’m trying to help you here,” Chanyeol says, indignant. Joonmyun wants to tell him not to take it personally. “Your health is only going to steadily decline if you keep living with Jongin. Can’t you change roommates?”
“Not if it’s someone you specifically chose,” Joonmyun says, sighing. He remembers how excited he’d been that he didn’t have to share a dorm with a stranger. “I thought it would be fine ‘cause I hadn’t exactly planned on falling in love with Jongin, but life likes to screw you over, doesn’t it?”
“I don’t want to force you to do anything,” Chanyeol starts, and Joonmyun winces mentally because this is probably going to be a suggestion that he knows is wise but really doesn’t want to do. “But why don’t you confess?”
Joonmyun takes back everything he’s ever thought about Chanyeol being wise. It’s the last thing on Earth Joonmyun’s willing to do. “Are you serious right now?”
Chanyeol looks sheepish, but he says, “Tell me how you would like it if you had to watch your closest friend fall apart. Confessing to Jongin might hurt you but it’s a hundred times better than how you are right now. I mean, there’s a fifty/fifty chance if you confess, but if you don’t say anything you’re just accepting defeat.”
“He has a girlfriend.”
“Does he even mention her in conversation? To be honest, it doesn’t seem like they’re that close.”
“How would I know? Jongin doesn’t even talk to me about anything.”
“Hey, don’t be so down. Hasn’t he started warming up to you lately? You said he was staying home a lot more. Just try.” Chanyeol fixes a strand of Joonmyun’s hair. “Just try.”
“What do I do if it doesn’t work out? I’m not going to be able to switch dorms,” Joonmyun says, already half convinced into giving in. There’s so many things wrong with Chanyeol’s idea and yet he’s still going along with it.
“Figure it out after,” Chanyeol says, “there’s no need to think life through this hard. Just go with the flow.”
“Did you just…” Joonmyun drums his fingers on the table. “‘Go with the flow,’ really?”
Chanyeol clears his throat, interrupting Joonmyun’s train of speech. “Wasn’t there chemistry homework you needed help on?”
Joonmyun’s searching for the rest of his teabag supply in the cupboard that seems to loom above him mockingly. Even on his tiptoes he still can’t reach the highest shelf.
“Do you need help?” Jongin’s come into the kitchen for a glass of water. “What are you looking for?”
“My teabags. I ran out,” Joonmyun stiffens when Jongin moves behind him and places a hand on his hip. Jongin reaches over Joonmyun’s shoulder, easily grabbing the small box out of the cupboard and setting it on the counter.
“D-don’t touch me,” Joonmyun moves away from Jongin.
Even though the look on his face is one of hurt, Jongin says, “Sorry, I know you don’t like me getting so close.” He hands the box over. “Here.”
How does Joonmyun explain? That the reason he doesn’t want Jongin touching him is because he’ll want to make Jongin his and his only. That he stares when Jongin’s jeans fit comfortably tight around his thighs, and how he aches to kiss Jongin’s lips until he’s unfit to be seen in public.
“Will you hate me?” Joonmyun asks, quietly, cautiously.
Before Jongin can ask him what he means, Joonmyun kisses him. He’s a little confused because this is the first time he’s done anything like this but Jongin’s mouth feels nice on his. At the same time it hurts him to know that this feeling can’t last forever.
He pulls away (a little regretfully). “Jongin, I’m sorry.”
“Jongin?” Joonmyun thinks he can’t be hearing right, but then Jongin’s closing the space between them, hand on the back of Joonmyun’s neck, and their lips touch again.
“Jongin,” Joonmyun says after they’ve separated, breath heavy. Even though Jongin’s hand on his back is warm, he still shivers from the touch.
The other looks at him with a gaze that has Joonmyun wanting to dig a hole and hide in it out of embarrassment. “Joonmyun.” The hand pushes Joonmyun’s shirt up and drifts along the side of his torso.
“This isn’t…is it okay?” Joonmyun is distracted by Jongin’s fingers pressing into his skin. He thinks back to the day Jongin had told him he had a girlfriend. “Aren’t you dating someone?”
Although Jongin’s much taller than Joonmyun, he lowers his head until it’s resting against Joonmyun’s shoulder. “I lied. Joonmyun, I lied. Sorry, I did a bad thing.”
“You lied?” Why had Jongin lied about having a girlfriend? Joonmyun’s thoroughly puzzled.
“For you, I’ve always…” Jongin trails off as he bites his lip. He looks down. His face is flushed a dark pink.
Has…Jongin always liked Joonmyun? Joonmyun is afraid to believe his own conclusions, but he’s almost got enough evidence, from the way Jongin’s turning red to the way his fingers are shaking even while holding Joonmyun.
Joonmyun’s trembling too, through his three layers of shirt and jackets even, and he says, “Tell me clearly, Jongin. I don’t want to misunderstand you.”
He feels extremely small under Jongin’s steady eyes. His cheeks heat up at their close proximity, and Jongin, seeing Joonmyun’s fidgeting, comes even closer.
Jongin seems more comfortable using body language than voice. “Do I have to say it?” he asks with a smile.
“No,” Joonmyun laughs as Jongin kisses him on the cheek. “No you don’t.”
“What is this sickeningly sweet smile on your face?” Chanyeol is the first to notice Joonmyun’s 180 degree change in behavior. “Is it…omo, Jongin?”
Joonmyun grins all the wider, eyes disappearing into crescents in his happiness. “Mhmm.”
“No wonder,” Chanyeol mutters, shaking his head. “You look like someone just handed the whole world to you on a silver platter.”
Joonmyun doesn’t tell him that he’d rather have Jongin than the entire universe.
“It’s a nice change, though,” Chanyeol notes. “I haven’t seen you this happy in a long time.”
It’s only a month after they’ve started dating and Joonmyun’s already made Jongin angry. “Jongin, why are you mad?”
“I’m not mad,” Jongin says, even though he’s been ignoring Joonmyun all night and mumbling bad words that he thinks Joonmyun can’t hear.
Joonmyun sits down next to his boyfriend on the bed, beginning to trace soothing circles on Jongin’s stomach. “Don’t pout anymore and tell me what’s wrong.”
“Stop hanging out with Chanyeol so much,” Jongin mutters under his breath, but Joonmyun has keen hearing for things he wants to hear.
He climbs on top of Jongin and smothers Jongin’s face in light kisses. “Is someone jealous?”
Jongin tries to turn away from Joonmyun so he’ll stop being attacked. He grunts in surprise when Joonmyun’s affectionate kisses turn into Joonmyun wrapping cold fingers around his throat.
“If you keep on being angry I’m going to choke you and then you won’t be able to eat my delicious food!” Joonmyun says, slowly tightening his grip.
Jongin pries Joonmyun’s hands off frantically, then gives the other a glare when he realizes Joonmyun isn’t even trying. “You’re stupid.”
“If you call me stupid one more time I’m going to slap your sorry butt into another race!”
P.S. And Joonmyun does get to go on that aquarium date with Jongin. Just like he’d predicted, Jongin is fascinated by the colorful fish and spends most of the date getting as close to the glass as he can. Joonmyun has lots of photos from this day he stores in his “cutie!Jongin” folder on his computer.
“What’s this?” Jongin says when he’s messing around on Joonmyun’s laptop one afternoon. “Do you have a folder dedicated to me?”
“What what, who?” Joonmyun has run Jongin over and closed the folder in less than two seconds. He praises himself mentally for the nice save. “You saw nuthin’.”
“But I deserve to know what you have inside of it-” Jongin argues.
“Porn!” Joonmyun interrupts. “There’s porn, you wouldn’t wanna watch any of that stuff. You’ve got me!”
Jongin snorts. He’ll open the folder again when Joonmyun goes to take a shower.
a/n: this fic was meant to be a more silent type...kinda ironic since writing is about expressing yourself but i hope you guys can come to understand what i mean.
some notes that weren't emphasized in the story;
-jongin has been in love with joonmyun a lot longer than joonmyun has loved him (i'd say since ninth grade, somewhere around there). please note that his body language/what he doesn't say is much more important than what he does say in this fic.
-when jongin was off getting drunk, he was trying to move on from joonmyun. but by then joonmyun was suffering because of his recklessness so jongin stopped.
-joonmyun is the type of person that doesn't really get angry/emotional in front of others. yes he does talk about his feelings to chanyeol and minseok but he's never openly cried/had a tantrum that they've seen. however, in the past he has shown more vulnerable sides to jongin, who would attempt to comfort him in his own way. my beta reader was confused about this so i wanted to clarify it just in case anyone thought i was being contradicting.
i like the idea of portraying love through a very imperfect lens, because love is not always the smooth pick up lines or fast heartbeats we see in media. oftentimes, it is a complicated bunch of mistakes and attempts to communicate mutual feelings. i want to write all of my stories with this in mind.
thanks so much for reading! sorry my a/n dragged on.
comments are appreciated ^^