“I feel disgusting,” Kyungsoo sobbed, his face buried in Baekhyun’s shirt. Baekhyun rubbed circles on Kyungsoo’s back, resting his cheek on Kyungsoo’s head. They’d spent the better part of the morning like this, Kyungsoo calling out sick and curling up on the sofa where Baekhyun found him an hour later, sniffling into the cushions. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“You know I love you brah, but sometimes you so lolo you amaze me,” Baekhyun said softly, smiling at the hiccuped laugh that rattled Kyungsoo’s ribs.
“You don’t even know what I did,” Kyungsoo mumbled miserably, sitting up and wiping the tears with his shirt.
“I don’t needa know what you did. No, no- don’t give me no stink eye, you know it’s true,” Baekhyun gave Kyungsoo a knowing look, raising an eyebrow when Kyungsoo melted into the corner of the couch.
“I met up with Hyunsik for some drinks and then we went over to his place,” said Kyungsoo, avoiding Baekhyun’s eyes.
“And?” Kyungsoo glared at him.
“What you mean and?”
“Stop givin’ me dat stink eye. You ain’t miserable over no drinks,” Baekhyun set his jaw, staring down Kyungsoo until he looked down at his hands.
“We almost had sex,”
“How you ‘almost’ oof?” Baekhyun asked. Kyungsoo gave him a dirty look.
“We were making out, we did some touching and he got almost naked,”
“But not you?” Kyungsoo shook his head. “Boy, you really did him dirty- okay, okay- ow! I’ll stop!” Kyungsoo smacked Baekhyun with the cushion one last time, for good measure, before burrowing into the corner of the couch again.
“I couldn’t do it. I was- I wanted to forget Jongin just for one night. To move on, but I just felt-“ Kyungsoo took a shaky breath, “disgusted. I thought I could just fuck and forget but I couldn’t.” He hid behind the cushion, muffling his hiccuped sobs.
“You real lolo, you know,” Kyungsoo’s teary eyes glared at him from above the cushion. “You can’t jus’ forget someone who was part of your life fo’ so many years, brah.”
“But I want to,” Kyungsoo whispered.
“No, you don’t,” Kyungsoo whimpered, curling up around the cushion. “I know you still love Jongin. And he still loves you.”
Baekhyun hopped around the sofa, grabbing the mugs of tea that had been left on the counter to cool. They were lukewarm now, but Baekhyun brought them over anyway, shoving a mug into Kyungsoo’s hands.
“I’ma go see Jongin later, kay? See how he’s feelin’, cause you two need to work this out,” Kyungsoo choked on his tea.
“No! No, don’t. He doesn’t want to see me or be with me and I understand, because I fucked up. It’s just better if we-“ Baekhyun waited, sipping his tea, “if we move on.”
“Mm, okay,” Baekhyun propped his feet on Kyungsoo’s lap. Kyungsoo narrowed his eyes at Baekhyun.
“What do you mean ‘mm, okay’?” Kyungsoo asked. Baekhyun peeped at Kyungsoo over the rim of his mug.
“It means okay. You don’t want me to talk to Jongin? Shoots, I won’t talk to Jongin,” Kyungsoo sniffed, still giving Baekhyun a wary look. “Yah, stop bein’ all mopey, brah, let’s watch some movies or somethin’,” Baekhyun grabbed the remote, throwing himself on top of Kyungsoo as he searched for options; halfway through the movie, Kyungsoo’s head lolled, finally resting on Baekhyun’s head.
He was trapped again, just as he feared, in the cycle of sleepless nights. New York had been three sleep-deprived years, a nightmare of tossing and turning and kicking off sheets at three in the morning, staring at the the darkest corner of the rooms. He’d thought, foolishly, when he and Jongin had moved into their first apartment near Manoa, that he’d never sleep well again; the hot, humid nights without an ac in the cramped bed, Jongin’s arm thrown around his sweaty back, the beads of sweat on Jongin’s forehead and the small of his back glimmering in the morning was what defined their first home. But in time, they grew used to it, though once Kyungsoo nearly shoved Jongin off the bed when Jongin tried to cuddle.
The apartment had been tiny, a one bedroom with a minuscule bathroom with shoddy tile work on the floor and walls, a leak under the kitchen sink, and a fridge that shuddered loudly at the quietest hours, but it was theirs, a space they could be in without the ever-present anxiety of Kyungsoo’s mother walking in on them, or without neighboring aunties spying on them when they sat on the balcony, reporting every movement to Kyungsoo’s mother in hushed whispers. The balcony, which only fit one chair, was the only reprieve of fresh air, where they often spent their afternoons, sometimes with Jongin insisting he fit on Kyungsoo’s lap, sometimes forgoing chairs altogether and sitting on the floor, their legs entwined.
But those nights, even at their worst (usually in august, and usually after sex, sleeping fitfully, sticky with sweat even after cold showers), were not as bad as the nights in New York; the twin bed was uncomfortable, but he refused to get a bigger bed, not when it would make the absence of Jongin’s warmth more noticeable. He has resigned himself to permanent sleep deprivation, surviving on all the naps he could fit into his day.
The first night Kyungsoo had slept over at Jongin’s place, sex sated and pressed against Jongin’s warm back, he slept well, so well, in fact, he woke up late, something unusual for him, feeling well rested, his body pliant.
Sleeping in Jongin’s bed had become an addiction, the scent of Jongin enveloping him, the glow of Jongin’s skin peeking through the mint green the first thing he saw each morning. He looked forward to these mornings, watching the sunlight kiss Jongin’s skin, drinking in the almost feverish warmth of the square of sunlight on Jongin’s shoulder. Jongin’s face was peaceful, half buried in the pillow, unbothered by Kyungsoo’s soft touches. Kyungsoo would indulge in caresses, resting his cheek on the square of sunlight on Jongin’s shoulder, pressing his lips to the small of Jongin’s back, lost in the golden glow of the expanse of Jongin’s back.
But now, forced to sleep in his own bed, the haunting loneliness of the sleepless nights of New York sat on his chest, smothering him so that all he could do was lay in bed, staring at the ceiling fan, hot tears burning tracks until the pale gray of morning filtered into the room. Class forced him out of bed, and it took the last of his energy to stand in front of the room and listen to the students butcher Korean. He would collapse on the sofa when he got home, often falling asleep until Baekhyun’s arrival jolted him out of the nap, shifting to make room for Baekhyun’s vibrancy.
Baekhyun’s cheer had been nauseating, the usual chirpiness in Baekhyun’s voice grating on Kyungsoo’s nerves, but he welcomed it, knowing that Baekhyun would hold him as he hiccuped through heart-wrenching dramas; he had even, at Kyungsoo’s timid request, started sleeping in Kyungsoo’s bed, burrowed in Kyungsoo’s side.
“I talked to Jongin,” said Baekhyun one afternoon, his feet buried under Kyungsoo’s thighs. Kyungsoo’s pencil point snapped but he didn’t notice, staring at Baekhyun in horror. “He’s miserable.”
“I know that, you didn’t need to tell me,”
“He’s miserable because he wants ta be with ya but you two have stuff to work through,” Baekhyun wiggled his toes, laughing when Kyungsoo smacked his feet away.
“He’s miserable because I hurt him and I want something I have no right to ask for,” Kyungsoo said through gritted teeth, clicking the eraser until the new point peeked through.
“He’s miserable because he cares about you, brah. It’s gonna hurt but you gotta talk to him, Kyungsoo,” Baekhyun raised his eyebrows when Kyungsoo huffed.
Junmyeon, who was in the kitchen peeling a mango, put down the knife.
“Listen, he’s been pining over you since you left,” he waited for Kyungsoo to turn around, but Kyungsoo stared at the tv instead. “The day he saw you he spoke to me for like four hours and it was all about you. Do you know how many times I had to hear him sob about not planting the starfruit or whatever-“
“Wait what?” Kyungsoo whipped around to face him. Junmyeon and Baekhyun looked at each other, then back at Kyungsoo.
“Where did I lose you?” Junmyeon asked, leaning on the counter.
“He- he said something about planting starfruit?” Kyungsoo’s voice trembled, a glint of hope in his wide eyes.
“Yeah only about a million times,” Junmyeon chuckled, offering the mango pit to Baekhyun, who squealed in horror when it nearly slipped through his fingers. Kyungsoo looked back at the tv, blinking stupidly. “Did I miss something?” Junmyeon whispered. Baekhyun shrugged, picking at a strand of mango that had lodged itself between his teeth.
“I can’t just go and talk to him though,” said Kyungsoo, walking towards the island and staring at the mango juice that was running down Baekhyun’s hands. He leaned against the cool marble, resting his chin on his hand.
“Why not?” Baekhyun asked, making a face when Junmyeon tried to clean his chin.
“Stay still, babo,” Junmyeon hissed, scowling when Baekhyun pulled away.
“Because it’s not right. I’m the one who messed up, I can’t be the one demanding things from him,” Kyungsoo trailed off, sighing.
“I could tell him to talk to you-“
“Oh..kay,” Junmyeon and Baekhyun looked at each other and Baekhyun tilted his head, quirking an eyebrow. Junmyeon raised his eyebrows too, humming in agreement when Baekhyun nodded; Kyungsoo, too busy still staring at the mango juice on Baekhyun’s hands, didn’t notice. Baekhyun winked, whining when Junmyeon rejected his mango-covered kiss.
They’d gotten rid of the worst of the boxes that crowded what little space there was in the living room, their clothes neatly put away, Jongin’s books organized meticulously (by Jongin, who had shooed Kyungsoo away when Kyungsoo offered to help); the pots and pans were in the kitchen, what little furniture they could fit had been set up, sheets and towels in the closet, and the small touches (paintings, candles, the wind chime on the balcony, all courtesy of Kyungsoo’s mother) had found their place.
The heat had kicked in, the open windows offering no relief from the muggy afternoon air. The sofa proved too suffocating, especially after their messy first attempt at couch sex (Jongin’s idea, who wanted the thrill of fucking in every room of the apartment, beginning with the living room).
They had moved to the balcony, sprawled on the floor under the soothing tinkle of the wind chime, the occasional hot breeze ruffling their hair. The sweat pooled above Jongin’s lip, running down his back and forehead; he scrunched his nose, leaning against the wall.
“I really miss the AC in Eomma’s place,” he groaned, nudging Kyungsoo’s leg with his foot.
“Me too,” said Kyungsoo, peeling his shirt off. It was after he’d finished balling up the shirt and throwing it inside that he noticed Jongin’s stare. “What?”
“I love you,” he said softly, smiling at the blush on Kyungsoo’s cheeks.
“I love you, too,” said Kyungsoo, brushing sweaty strands away from Jongin’s eyes.
“This is the first step, ya know,” said Jongin, ducking his head bashfully when Kyungsoo gave him a puzzled look. “To planting our starfruit.”
“Planting our starfruit?”
“I mean, first apartment, right? Then good jobs, a nicer apartment, then better jobs, a house with a big ole yard so we can plant starfruit trees, an’ who knows, maybe even a keiki or two runnin’ around,” Kyungsoo was quiet, which made Jongin blush furiously. “I just meant- I’m just daydreaming, ya know, nothin’ serious.”
“Oh, Jongin,” Kyungsoo chuckled, twining his fingers with Jongin’s. “It sounds beautiful, kangaji.” Jongin looked up at him, still flushed. “Hang on,” Kyungsoo stood up, giving Jongin a teasing grin when Jongin looked at his ass, pouring them glasses of water and washing a starfruit, slicing it thinly. Each glass had three stars poised on the rim, pale yellow with a slight tinge of green. He settled on the floor of the balcony again, handing Jongin a glass. “To planting our starfruit,” said Kyungsoo, holding up the glass. Jongin gently clinked their glasses, his smile to brilliant it was nearly blinding.
“To planting our starfruit.”