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we're all stories in the end.
aching with tragedy and compassion and hope within the hopeless
Baggage CHAPTER 3 
31st-Jan-2016 07:01 pm
hyo look
Title: Baggage
Pairing(s): JB/JR, Markson, Yugbam, past Youngbam, past Markson
Rating: NC17
Warning(s): Drug abuse, major character death, smut, characters with HIV, homophobia, angst
Summary: Rent!AU - Jaebum and Youngjae have been living together in a shitty apartment on the wrong side of town for years, struggling to pay their rent and carrying the weight of their past mistakes. With the introduction of a new neighbour, a meeting with an old flame and the help of a stranger after a mugging, new relationships are built and their lives grow all the more complicated.



1 | 2 | 3 | 4


Jinyoung woke in a cold sweat, skin clammy and sheets clinging to his damp flesh. The sun wasn't up yet, the room still cast in darkness as Mark slept soundly beside him. As he lay there, the room spinning and the bed swallowing him whenever he closed his eyes, he couldn't remember getting into bed, or even into his apartment. His eyes were sore from crying and he was breathless, dizzy.

How had Mark ended up in his bed? Slipping out of the bed quietly, he shuffled around the room on weak legs in an attempt not to wake his sleeping friend, throwing on a robe and some slippers and padding out into the frigid living room. His slippers scuffed the worn laminate as he walked into the kitchen and made some coffee, teeth chattering and hands shaking. Lifting the mug to his lips, his hand trembled wildly, liquid spilling over the rim and scalding his hand suddenly.

'Fuck!' He hissed, flinching as the mug slipped from his fingers and crashed into the sink, flying to pieces. 'Shit.' He breathed, laying his palms on the counter and letting his head hang between his shoulders as he took shaky breaths, his world spinning as he tried to center himself. The coffee was a lost cause, and he waded through the fog of his mind before finally dropping down onto his couch, pressing his head into the crook of the arm and pulling his knees to his chest. His forehead was damp and his mouth was dry, tongue too heavy and thick in his mouth. He'd experienced this before, last time he'd tried to quit, but this didn't feel like withdrawal; it hadn't been long enough for it to be withdrawal. He thought dimly that he should eat, but he was too tired, too weak.

Licking his chapped lips, he hugged himself tightly, eyes burning every time he blinked. As he stared at the pattern on the arm rest, he thought of Mark, how happy he looked talking to Jackson. He was happy for him, truly, and it shocked him, the lack of jealousy or resentment he felt. He'd always have a place in Mark's heart, he knew that; having Jackson around was a comfort, a blockade to stop Mark and Jinyoung from making the same mistake they'd made before.

Mark deserved someone like Jackson - from what Jinyoung had seen of the guy - kind, upbeat, attentive. Jinyoung didn't want to drag Mark down again, to pull him into his own misery. He was scared to tell him how ill he felt; how the cold meant nothing to him because he was always cold no matter what, how sometimes it was exactly the opposite and it felt like there was fire in his veins burning him from the inside out.

He glanced toward the door at the sound of heavy footsteps pounding up the stairs and a deep, chesty cough echoing in the stairwell. The footsteps hesitated outside his door before ascending once again and fading, the sound of a closing door before the world was plunged into thick silence again. His chest tightened, knowing it was Jaebum, remembering his hand on his wrist as he traced his fingers over where his grip had burned him.

Picking apart the scene in his mind, he thought of how strained Jaebum had seemed, the regret in his eyes after he'd let Jinyoung's wrist go, how false his words sounded. Jaebum was hiding something, protecting himself from prying eyes and penetrating questions - Jinyoung knew, he was the master of it. He wondered just how destructive he'd become now, to be feeling a thrill at how strong Jaebum had been, to be thinking of how it would feel to be beneath his weight; strong muscles rippling above him and that stern, chiseled face torn apart in ecstasy.

It had been so long since he'd felt self-conscious, never facing rejection so bluntly even when he was frank about his disease. His thoughts kept lingering over how he must look, how haggard and pale he is, how fragile he'd feel beneath Jaebum's large hands. Being trapped inside his own bubble for so long, it was disorientating to be thrown into the real world again, knowing how much it was hurting Mark to see him this way. He curled in tighter on himself, pain in his chest and a sinking feeling in his stomach as tears stung his eyes. How could Jaebum want to kiss his cracked lips, want to run his hands over his sharp, jutting hips? He was sickening to look upon, diseased and addicted to poison; who was he to dream of love and affection anymore?

The tears started and didn't end, and he must have cried himself to sleep, because the next thing he knew there was light stinging his eyes and an ache in his neck, a confident knock on his door drawing him from his dreamless slumber. Getting to his feet, dizziness tried to pull him back down, but he fought through it and opened the door blearily to see Jackson's beaming face. The smile fell immediately, but to Jackson's credit he still attempted cheerfulness, his face barely showing his worry - but Jinyoung saw it anyway before his vision clouded again and strong arms were wrapped around him.

'Jinyoung, hey, you okay? Where's Mark?' Jinyoung found his feet again, but couldn't find the strength to shrug Jackson off, letting him guide him back to the sofa. 'Wait here, I'll get him.' He turned, but Jinyoung threw a heavy arm out from where he was slumped and caught Jackson desperately, eyes barely open as he shook his head no.
His voice startled him, rough and broken, 'Don't let him see me like this, please. I'll be fine.'

Jackson didn't look convinced, frowning down at him but making no moves to grab Mark. Instead he crashed down beside him, sofa creaking wearily at the additional weight. Jinyoung couldn't help but admire how comfortable Jackson looked, where anyone else would look incredibly awkward sat next to their love interests smack addict ex-boyfriend.

'Have you eaten, Jinyoung? I can make a mean ham sandwhich; bread, ham, all of that shit. I'm basically a chef.' He grinned eagerly, and Jinyoung chuckled, nodding even though he had no appetite. It was hard to say no to that face - he had kind eyes, eyes that made you feel worth something. Jackson smiled brightly, jumping up to rattle around in his kitchenette.

'Sorry about Jaebum, kid,' He chattered as he rummaged through his cupboards. 'He's in a bad place, hasn't been around people for a while. Actually, he's always been like that, but he's a good guy under the grumpiness. I can kick his ass for you if you want, though.'

Jinyoung smiled softly at Jackson's back, shifting to sit up as he ran a hand over his face as if it would clear the fog in his mind. 'It's okay, I get it. I know what it's like to want to be alone.'

'You don't really, though, do you?'

'Huh?'

Jackson turned with a knowing look on his face, a suspicious looking sandwich in his hand that didn't do anything to spur Jinyoung's appetite, but he took it anyway, watching questioningly as Jackson joined him on the sofa once again.

'You didn't really want to be alone, I mean, you probably needed to be alone for a little while but then you just got used to it, thought there wasn't a way for you to stop being lonely so it was easier to just push people away even though all you wanted was someone to push back. Jaebum's just... I've known him a little while. We were in rehab when he found out he had
AIDs and it just - it changed him. It's not your fault.'

Jinyoung actually found himself having to catch his breath, staring blankly back at Jackson as he pieced his words together. Jaebum had AIDs. Things were making sense. Jinyoung knew what that news did to you, how quickly you cut people off and decide being alone is easier than making them watch you die. 'I had no idea.'

Jackson snickered quietly, a low rumble before raising an eyebrow. 'He doesn't exactly let you get close enough to ask.'

Jinyoung nibbled at the sandwich Jackson had made him, trying not to let hope spark in his chest, but it was already catching fire and heating him thoroughly, all the way to his toes. Jackson was watching him without even trying to pretend he wasn't, and Jinyoung regarded him curiously. 'Something on my face?'

'Actually I was thinking about what's missing. I know a clinic, Jinyoung, it's free. Just say the words.'

Jinyoung looked at Jackson for a long moment, but his eyes fell to his food once again as he ate feebly, willing his hands not to shake. 'I don't need a clinic, I just need to rest.'

Jackson nodded slowly, and Jinyoung almost jumped at the touch of his warm hand on his back, shocked at being suddenly pressed to a broad chest as he held his sandwich aloft to protect it from being crushed. 'Mark needs you, you know. And honestly, I think Jaebum needs you too. And I think you're kinda cool, so stick around for a while, alright?' Jackson pulled away and ruffled Jinyoung's hair affectionately, and Jinyoung rolled his eyes, ignoring the tightness in his throat.

'You two look cosy.' A throaty voice rumbled, and the two of them looked to see Mark walking in sleepily. Jackson immediately perked up, the mood shifting at his will as he jumped to his feet and pulled Mark in for a quick peck on the lips and leaving Mark a bit stunned and bewildered; blinking back at Jackson as the older man started to chatter. Jinyoung had a sneaking suspicion it was to distract Mark from Jinyoung's dishevelment, and he couldn't help but feel warmed by how much of a gem this guy seemed to be. Jinyoung never thought he'd be so happy to see someone else kissing Mark.

'I'm taking you on a date tonight, and I'm taking you for breakfast right now. Get dressed.' Mark looked perplexed, and furrowed his brows.

'Date? Breakfast? How are you so awake, It's like 8am?'

'Life is short, Markie-pooh, gotta make the most of the hours.'

Mark scrunched his face up before he waddled back to his bedroom sleepily, muttering. 'Markie-pooh? Really?'

When Jackson turned back to Jinyoung, he couldn't supress his snort.

'What?'

'Markie-pooh? Where'd that come from?'

'It's Mark and Winnie the Pooh.'

'Yeah, I grasped that.' Jinyoung chuckled incredulously at Jackson's lack of embarrassment. It was hard to be glum around Jackson, it seemed, because Jinyoung's spirits had climbed a lot higher since his entrance.

'Anyway, that date I talked about, you're welcome to come - Youngjae from upstairs will be there. It's this protest thing, my friend Bambam is into all this performance art stuff and it'll be a
mess, but it'll be an experience.'

Jinyoung shrugged, nodded his head slightly. 'I'll try and make it.'

Jackson smirked, winking, 'I'll try and convince Jaebum to come.' Jinyoung scoffed, rolling his eyes. He'd only eaten half of the sandwich, but he was full, pushing himself to his feet to wash himself up and get his head straight. He sighed as he passed Jackson, pausing in front of him.

'Jackson.'

'Yes, Jinyoungie?' Jinyoung closed his eyes for a second at the nickname, letting the smile tugging at his lips spread to sit comfortably.

'Thank you.'

'Huh? For what?'

Jinyoung shook his head, continuing on his way to the bathroom. 'Being you. I think we all need it.'


-


Mark pressed his teeth together as the cold wind blew through his clothes, Jackson closing the door behind them as they stepped into the snow. When Mark shoved his hands in his pockets, Jackson didn't hesitate to link his arm, grinning down at him cheekily when Mark looked up at him in surprise. 'Alone at last.'

Mark laughed as they walked, Jackson solid beside him and warm, chatting nonsense all the way to the small café at the end of the street. Mark was never good at ignoring the looks people would give him and Jinyoung, always withering beneath their gazes, but Jackson caught onto his discomfort immediately, flashing him a big smile and sqeezing his hand before he sat at a table near the window, fogged from the heat inside. 'Order anything you want, I'll pay.'

Mark raised an eyebrow challengingly as a smirk spread over his lips, 'You'll regret saying that.'

Jackson's face was one of pure disbelief as Mark listed off his order to the tired looking waitress, and as she walked away he whistled softly in astonishment. 'Big appetite for such a skinny guy.'

'I haven't had anyone treat me for a while, and even before I was homeless I just never put on weight.' Mark shrugged.

'You're full of surprises, I like it. Exciting.' Jackson leaned his head on his palm, eyes tracing over Mark's face slowly with a lazy smile, making Mark's insides twist in all the right ways.

'What about you? Surprise me.' Mark giggled coyly, warming his hands on his coffee as his knee nudged Jackson's slightly under the table.

'Hm, like this?' Jackson asked, leaning across the table and taking Mark's chin in his hand, pressing their lips together firmly. His lips were soft and full, warm against Mark's own chapped ones, and it was over before it started, Jackson leaning back with a smirk and a twinkle in his eyes. Mark's cheeks were on fire, and it was embarrassing how hard it was to tear his eyes away from Jackson's lips.

Jackson traced his fingers over Mark's jaw thoughtfully before he pulled away completely, eyes scanning for a reaction. Mark just leaned on his elbows, trying to calm the butterflies in his stomach. 'Are we a thing?' He asked tentatively, hopefully.

'We're everything.' Jackson winked, 'If you wanna be. I wanna be.'

If Mark could have Jackson look at him the way he was looking at him then forever, he'd die happy. His eyes had a way of swallowing you whole, devouring you, as if Jackson couldn't see anything else and the world had shrunk to just the two of them. Mark didn't hear the grunts of disgust at their public display of affection, didn't notice the averted eyes or blatant stares; all he could see was Jackson looking at him as if he was his favourite piece of art, and found himself looking back much the same.

'I think you should kiss me again.' He breathed, eyes flickering between Jackson's dark eyes and full lips, and Jackson did just that, slow and sweet and heady, and when their food arrived, Mark found his appetite was already sated.


-


The place was packed, people funnelling in like ants on sugar, which was surprising because honestly Jaebum didn't get the whole thing Bambam tended to go for. It was all shock factor and loud noises, sheer nonsense. He pulled his scarf higher over his nose, shuffling along as Youngjae talked his ear off about Bambam's new boyfriend, Yugyeom or something, humming his agreement whenever he felt he needed to.

It had been a while since he'd been outside - Christmas was his hibernation period, and he was slightly resentful to have it interrupted so rudely by Jackson's persistent pursuasion. He didn't want to admit how much the possibility of bumping into Jinyoung had swayed him, but he felt horribly guilty for the way he'd acted last night. Jinyoung didn't deserve that, he'd just caught him at the wrong time.

His father had called him to wish him a Merry Christmas, reminded him of how much of a waste he was, of how happy their lives were without him - not in so many words, but that's what Jaebum had heard through his veiled sentiment. He'd walked halfway out of town last night, nose numb and toes forgotten as his mind churned away. He couldn't push Jinyoung from his mind, and in the end he'd given up - if Jinyoung wanted this, Jaebum wouldn't fight it anymore. He was tired of fighting, tired of hiding and hurting and hating. It was about time he got some love, in Jackson's words, and he just wanted Youngjae to stop looking at him like a kicked puppy.

People were pushing and shoving and Jaebum's face hurt from scowling; clutching his wallet and watching every person that moved too close to him. Where he'd once loved crowds, now he could really fucking do without ever being in one. As he glared around at the sea of faces illuminated by the powerful stage lighting, barely hearing Youngjae's monologue over the echoing voices bouncing off the walls of the warehouse, his eyes caught a familiar face lit up in laughter - natural, not forced or faked as Jaebum had seen it before.

'There he is,' Jaebum heard himself utter outloud unintentionally, and Youngjae seemed surprised, pausing in his one-sided conversation for a moment and looking around.

'Bambam?'

'No, Jinyoung.'

'Oh, yeah, I can see Jackson and Mark there too, lets push through.'

They nudged through the crowd, and Jaebum's heart picked up speed the closer they got. Jinyoung looked different when he wasn't submerged in shadow or backlit by moonlight, eyes bright and lips blushing as they formed quick words and tugged into wide smiles at whatever Mark was saying. Youngjae clapped Jackson on the shoulder when they finally reached them, and Jinyoung's eyes immediately found Jaebum, stunning him for a moment. Jinyoung smiled tentatively, and Jaebum had never felt like such an asshole - and he felt like an asshole a lot, so it was a pretty intense feeling.

'Hey.' He said weakly, feeling like an idiot.

'Hey.'

'I'm sorry.' He tried, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot, but Jinyoung frowned, leaning closer.

'What? I can't hear you.'

'I'm sorry, Jinyoung' Jaebum raised his voice slightly, leaning into Jinyoung and watching those eyes watching him. 'I'm sorry, for blowing up at you like that. I'm sorry for grabbing you.'
The words were leaving him in a rush, desperate to have Jinyoung hear them.

Jinyoung lowered his eyes, tone soft. 'It's ok, I should've left you alone.'

Jaebum shook his head furtively, though Jinyoung didn't see it, eyelashes fanning out over his pale cheeks, thick and dark from the angle, the light casting shadows and catching his features beautifully.

'I don't want to be alone anymore. Let me make it up to you.' Jinyoung met his eyes again, looking uncertain, but then he smirked softly, sincere rather than the sultry cat smile he'd worn before.

'How?' He asked flirtily, body swaying a little closer to Jaebum.

'How about I buy you a drink? You're coming out for food with us after this, right?'

'If you're there, I'll be there.' Jinyoung smiled up at him, and Jaebum couldn't help but return it - a little stiffly, but it was a smile nonetheless. He'd been off his game for too long, nervous
and creaky at the prospect of flirting, and he was thankful Jinyoung seemed to be ignoring his rigidity. He was also thankful the others were too wrapped up in conversation to watch and mock him - or at least he'd thought.

Mark said something to Jinyoung, and he returned to the conversation, still standing close to Jaebum, their fingertips knocking against eachother, and Jaebum died a little inside when he caught the sly wink Jackson threw him when their eyes met. 'Fuck you.' He mouthed back, and Jackson just grinned a toothy grin, wrapping an arm around Mark's waist.

'Who's this Bambam guy, anyway.' Jinyoung asked, and Jaebum and Jackson smirked in unison.

'Youngjae's ex.' Jaebum supplied, and Youngjae raised an eyebrow, knowing he was now a target for some teasing, as he always was when Bambam's name was mentioned.

'I'm over him.'

'Keep telling yourself that, kid.' Jackson chuckled, and Youngjae rolled his eyes, smiling anyway. The lights went out in the warehouse then, sending up sounds of confusion, before a spotlight shone on the stage and Bambam's voice echoed around suddenly. Jaebum rolled his eyes, used to the theatrics. Bambam had stayed at his place plenty of times when he and Youngjae were still a thing... and Youngjae would probably cry if he knew how much weird shit Jaebum had heard coming from that bedroom. Either Youngjae was into some crazy, kinky shit or he was just humouring this kid, because it sounded wild. Bambam was wild, and annoying as shit.

Honestly, Jaebum had been beyond happy when the two of them had broken up; he was sick of listening to his pretentious art-school nonsense and naive ideologies, the verbal diarrhea of a rich little boy trying to live with the common folk, smearing some dirt on his face and considering himself part of a downtrodden society. Jaebum was a rich kid, yeah, but at least he knew what he was rebelling against, and he had the scars to prove it.

Youngjae had his camcorder out, and eventually Bambam appeared, after a long monologue Jaebum hadn't listened to at all, too focused on how close Jinyoung was, how he looked when he was concentrating. He came down from the ceiling wearing some god awful headache inducing outfit, sitting on an awfully rendered crescent moon made of wire and paper maché or some shit. Jaebum switched off immediately, rolling his eyes so far back he almost gave himself a concussion. The crowd seemed to be enjoying it, though, laughing and shouting, and Jinyoung was engrossed, mouth slightly ajar and eyes twinkling.

He didn't see Jinyoung's face when he entwined their cold fingers and clasped his hand tightly, having fixed his eyes on the stage as his heart beat wildly in his chest.


-


Youngjae didn't hear the crowd becoming unruly, only barely noticing how he was being jostled more than before, how his camera was shaking all over the place and he couldn't get a good focus on Bambam no matter how hard he tried. Bambam was a force of nature, screaming for revolution and change and the crowd was screaming back - it was only when he ducked beneath a thrown glass bottle, hitting the floor and crashing to pieces that Youngjae knew something was wrong.

The crowd became a whirlpool and he was thrown into the depths, losing his friends in seconds as he fought to stay on his feet, camera catching the havoc as people shouted and screamed, punches being thrown and police sirens blaring in his ears. When he looked to the stage, Bambam was gone, and his heart was thudding in his chest.

Even as he fell to the floor, just one thought was on his mind - just keep filming.


-


'Where's Youngjae?' Jackson panted, Mark pressed close to his side as they regrouped outside a nearby café. Jinyoung was still confused and dishevelled, shaking slightly from the shock of it. One second he'd been engrossed in the performance, and the next he was pressed against Jaebum, hand clutched painfully tight as he dragged him through the crowd with

Jackson and Mark close behind. They'd ran through the chaos, only now having time the catch their breath.

He could see smoke rising from down the street, the sound of a crowd going wild as car windows were smashed and police cars raced down the road. He'd seen a riot before, but he'd never been part of one. Jaebum was still clutching his hand tight, too tight, and looking at him he was caught short by the look on his face, the intensity of his eyes upon him.

'Are you okay?'

'Yeah, I'm fine. You're holding too tight.' He grimaced, tried to flex his fingers, and Jaebum let go abruptly, apologising awkwardly as he turned back to Jackson. Jinyoung hadn't meant for him to let go completely, and he certainly hadn't wanted him to stop looking at him that way - posessive, protective. 'Let's go inside - he knows we were supposed to meet here, he'll make it.'

'Hey, hey!' Someone shouted from behind them, and Jinyoung turned to see the performer - Bambam - running towards them, red faced and breathless, dragging along another guy who looked completely shaken. 'Jackson! Jaebum! That was wild, huh?'

'That's one way to put it.' Jaebum muttered, opening the door to the cafe, and the rest of them followed inside quickly, happy to feel the heat hitting their frozen faces - it was fucking cold in that warehouse.

'Still a grumpy guts, huh?' Bambam snickered as they all shrugged off their coats, and Jaebum's face was a picture of misery. Cute. 'Where's Youngjae?'

'We lost him inside, he should catch up soon. Who's this?' Jackson asked, offering a palm to the stranger looking sheepish beside Bambam.

'I'm Yugyeom.' He offered softly, returning the handshake surprisingly firmly, and Jackson smiled at him warmly.

'Ah, you're Bambam's boyfriend? Poor kid.' He chuckled, and Bambam kicked at him half-heartedly before pulling him in for a hug. Yugyeom looked more frightened than amused, eyes wide like a deer caught in headlights.

'How've you been anyway? Are you gonna introduce me to your friends?' He had a baby-face, but his eyes were keen, looking Jinyoung and Mark up and down like they were for sale.

'This is Mark,' Mark waved politely, face going from awkward to terrified as Bambam threw his arms around him tightly, 'And this is Jinyoung.' Bambam released Mark, turning to drape himself on Jinyoung sloppily. It didn't last long, but glancing at Jaebum for help, the taller man just shrugged and chuckled. Bastard.

'I love meeting new people! Lets get a seat.' Bambam crowed shrilly, throwing his hands up excitedly. At that moment, Youngjae came rushing in, red faced and breathless.

'Guess what just happened!'

'You survived, then.' Jaebum smirked, and Youngjae beamed brightly.

'A local broadcasting company bought my tape of the riot!'

'Awesome!' Jackson patted Youngjae roughly on the back. 'Dinners on you!'

'No no no no.' A waiter came rushing up to them, hands waving wildly. 'Get out, get out.'

'What, why?' Youngjae frowned, pulling off his gloves.

'I don't want a scene in here again, I have important customers tonight.'

'We're not important?'

'You sit all night and never buy!'

Youngjae scoffed, shrugging off his coat. 'I came in for a tea yesterday!'

'You couldn't pay!'

'Oh. yeah...' Youngjae muttered thoughtfully, and Jinyoung chuckled softly before Youngjae pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket, waving it with a bubbly laugh. 'But I can today!
Grab a seat, guys.'

'Oh for God's sake.' Groaned the waiter, and Jinyoung grinned widely. There was something warm in his chest being around these guys, like being home. They pulled a few tables
together, much to the waiters frustration, and ordered a round of beers. Jinyoung was more than happy to have his knee pressed against Jaebum's, thighs warm against each other even if he was avoiding his eyes.

Mark was opposite him, laughing at something Jackson was saying. He looked happy, and it made Jinyoung happy, if not a little jealous that he had someone who looked at him like that and wasn't ashamed to do so. Yugyeom was looking out of place, awkward and a little wet-eyed beside them, so Jinyoung thought he'd alleviate his stress, seeing as Bambam was otherwise occupied flirting with a waitress.

'Hey, you okay?'

'Yeah, yeah, just a little shocked.' Yugyeom smiled, though it was more of a grimace.

'Never been around this part of town?'

'Is it that obvious?' He asked, laughing softly. Jinyoung just smiled, winking.

'I just have a keen eye. Your boyfriend seems... busy.' He looked towards where Bambam was leaning close to a waitress, telling a joke and making her blush, and Yugyeom followed his eyes, face crumpling at the sight. He turned back to Jinyoung with a cloudy, tired expression as he stood,

'Sorry.' He said softly, and Jinyoung could only look at him in sympathy as he moved to grab Bambam by the wrist, the smaller boy immediately smiling lasviciously and wrapping himself around Yugyeom flirtily. Poor kid. Jinyoung wasn't the only one looking at them, though, catching Youngjae beside him watching the scene too.

'He's your ex, right?' Jinyoung asked quietly, and Youngjae jumped in surprise before flashing a wide smile.

'Yeah. You can see why.' He laughed, and Jinyoung smiled sadly.

'Did it end badly?'

Youngjae thought for a moment, leaning back in his chair as he exhaled slowly. 'I was angry when I first noticed him doing stuff like that; talking to boys and girls, kissing boys and girls, sleeping with boys and girls, but he never apologised, always had some excuse. You realise there's no point being angry, you just get tired of arguing.' He shrugged, sighing as he took a large sip of his beer, and Jinyoung patted him on the shoulder comfortingly. Youngjae licked his lips, a smile tugging at them and making his eyes crinkle.

'So, you and Jaebum, huh?' He whispered conspiritorally, and Jinyoung rolled his eyes.

'Yeah, huh.'

'Cut him a little slack, he's been kinda stale on the whole dating thing for a long... long while. You might have to blow off the dust.' He cackled, and Jinyoung found himself cracking up just at the sound of it. To think such a bubbly, friendly guy had been so close to him this whole time was a real shame; he was eager to know more about Youngjae, to hear that laugh more often.

Jinyoung watched Yugyeom return to his seat, and Bambam fell into his lap, swigging his beer before slamming it on the table. 'Gyeomie~ you need to go back for my stuff.' He nuzzled at his neck, and Yugyeom didn't even hesitate to shift him as he stood up, running to his beck and call. 'Remember the vococorder! Thank you, baby.' Jinyoung tried to keep his eyebrows from raising, catching Mark's similar expression as unspoken words passed between them. 'What did you guys think of my performance?' Bambam grinned, leaning forward on his elbows and looking around the group eagerly.

'It was definitely a performance.' Jaebum muttered, the first words from his lips since they'd sat, and Bambam glared.

'Does nothing excite you, Jaebum?'

'The thought of you shutting up for thirty seconds really gets my blood pumping, actually.' Jaebum retorted bluntly over the rim of his beer, taking a slow sips as Jinyoung watched his adams apple bob torturously. Bambam scoffed, taking the bait.

'You're as bad as the people we're fighting against, you know. Where's your inspiration? Where's your need to express, communicate - your urge to go against the grain, the burning need to go insane!' Jackson was mimicking him from his blind spot, and Mark was cracking up, Jinyoung fighting to school his expression as he was in Bambam's line of sight. 'You should just work in an office or something with the rest of the unthinking population.'
Youngjae just looked like he'd heard it all before, smiling knowingly with folded arms. Jaebum seemed to enjoy getting on Bambam's nerves. 'You're starving for attention, clinging to any passing fad. So childish.'

Bambam looked incensed by the comment, foaming at the mouth, but his retort was cut short by Yugyeom's return. 'Is the equipment in a pyramid?'

'Yeah-'

'Did you put the mixer in the case? Don't give me that face.' Bambam pouted, and Yugyeom sighed, jumping slightly when Bambam smacked his ass as he turned to leave again. A guy at the bar cleared his throat, and Bambam leaned back with a smile. 'Hey mister, he's my brother.' They all laughed and jeered, the man glaring before returning to his business.

'You're playing that kid for a fool, Bambam.' Jaebum sighed, and Bambam rolled his eyes. A waiter stopped by, asking for their order, and Jinyoung didn't miss Bambam's eyes roaming over him eagerly.

'Miso soup.'

'Seaweed salad.'

'Soy burger.'

'Tofu platter.

'Pasta with meatless balls.'

Mark scrunched his nose up at Youngjae, looking genuinely offended by his request. 'Ugh!'

'It tastes the same!' Youngjae raised his hands defensively, and Jinyoung giggled.

'If you close your eyes.'

'And thirteen orders of fries.'

'And more beer!'


-


Yugyeom entered the warmth of the restaurant again, catching his breath, but stopped short at the sight of Bambam almost sitting in Youngjae's lap, playfully kissing his cheek. Fuck this, he'd had enough, storming back outside and deciding to walk it off so he could face him with a cool head, willing himself not to cry.
He always cried.


-


Jaebum was still attached to his beer, barely saying a word unless he was spoken to or if Bambam said something he disagreed with, which was almost everything. Jinyoung's patience had met its end, and he stood, patting Jaebum's shoulder before he walked towards the rear exit. Stopping before the door, he turned to see Jaebum following with a confused expression.

'Did I do something wrong? You invited me here but you've ignored me the whole night.'

Jaebum took a moment to speak, and Jinyoung felt like he was walking on a tightrope, heart thudding in his chest. 'Jinyoung, I've got baggage.'

'We all have baggage.'

'Mine is a lot heavier to carry than most.'

Jinyoung scoffed, rolling his eyes. 'Your life isn't a soap opera, Jaebum - if you look around, you might see that other people are suffering too.' Jinyoung sighed, exasperated as he pulled out his meds, watching Jaebum's expression change from perplexed to understanding, looking into his eyes with relief and fear. 'You have no more excuses.'

'You?'

'Me.'

He laughed softly, running his fingers through his copper hair and shaking his head. 'I've been a fucking idiot.'

'The biggest fucking idiot.'

'Who told you?'

'Jackson.'

'Shit.'

Jinyoung smiled softly, taking Jaebum's hand and leading him outside into the cold, brisk air, away from the commotion and prying eyes. His breath fogged, and he wrapped his arms around himself as his feet crunched in the snow, heat rising to his cheeks when Jaebum draped his jacket over his shoulders and walked him backwards until his back hit the wall, leaning over him with dark eyes.

'I'm scared.' He breathed, eyes roaming Jinyoung's face in the dim moonlight.

'That's good, I'm scared too. I guess it means we're still alive.'

'I'm a disaster.'

'That makes two of us.' Jinyoung tilted his head, watching Jaebum as he watched back. 'I didn't need a light that night, you know. I barely smoke. I heard your song.'

'I haven't been able to get you out of my head.' Jaebum's voice was rough, as if the words were being ripped from him.

'Then stop trying.' Jinyoung breathed, imploring, his heart feeling light and fragile in his chest. His breath caught as Jaebum leaned closer for a moment, and Jinyoung thought he would kiss him, but their lips never met.

'You're shaking.'

'It's cold.'

'Lets go back inside.' Jaebum said, moving away from where he had Jinyoung crowded against the wall, and disappoinment gripped him immediately, but it was replaced with the thrill of excitement, a spark of warmth as Jaebum's hand came to rest on his hip firmly, pulling him to his side with confidence. His eyes were dark slits as he smirked down at Jinyoung, causing a warmth to stir in his chest as he smiled back shyly. It had been a long time since anyone made Jinyoung feel shy.
Jaebum looked good when he smiled.

The warmth from the tightly packed restaurant was well welcomed as they re-entered, but it seemed they'd missed some drama. Yugyeom was red-faced and teary eyed, voice wobbling slightly as he stood at the table, the group completely silent as they listened to him, and the two of them slipped back into their seats, Jaebum still clasping his hand firmly beneath the table.


-


'Are we packed?' Bambam asked brightly, shifting from Youngjae's lap casually as Yugyeom rushed in from outside one again, and Yugyeom willed himself to be firm. His voice, however, betrayed him as it always did, breaking pathetically.

'Yes, and by next week you should be too.' He tried to ignore everyone's eyes on him, fighting the heat from flooding his cheeks.

'Gyeomie?' Bambam cooed, pulling a face, but Yugyeom drew his eyes away, focusing on anyone but him.

'By the way,' He adressed the group as Jinyoung and Jaebum came in from outside looking like they just told each other a secret. 'People are still rioting, it's a mess outside so be careful on your way home.'

'You've caused quite the stir, Bambam.' Jackson smirked, obviously trying to diffuse the palpable tension in the air while Mark just shovelled chips into his mouth with owlish eyes
When Yugyeom stormed out, he didn't know why he expected Bambam to follow.


-


By 2am they were all roaringly drunk, barely making it back to the apartment. They'd wrecked the restaurant and ended up getting thrown out after Bambam and Youngjae held an impromptu protest while dragging every one up to dance with them on the table. Jinyoung was just as guilty, having shown them all a few moves from the strip club atop the bar, while Jaebum watched with interest and Mark in sheer horror.

Bambam was hanging off Youngjae limply, slurring his words and trying to wrap as many skinny limbs around him as possible. Mark and Jackson were trading sweet kisses and nearly tripping over each other with every clumsy step. Jaebum only had eyes for Jinyoung; how he fit into the nook of his arm so perfectly, how dark his eyes looked in the night as he spoke about art and literature and a thousand other things Jaebum only cared about when they were coming from Jinyoung's lips.

The lot of them stumbled up the stairs, and they paused at Jinyoung's floor. Youngjae and Bambam continued upwards while Jackson went into Jinyoung's apartment with Mark, throwing Jaebum a wink (more of a drunken blink) before he closed the door slowly, eyebrows raised suggestively, leaving the two of them alone on the landing.

'Coming inside?' Jinyoung smirked, pulling on Jaebums jacket until he was pressing Jinyoung against the wall. Jaebum leaned his elbow above Jinyoung's head, towering over him and running his tongue over his dry lips.

'I don't think that's wise, you're drunk.' He rasped, even as he swayed closer to Jinyoung's eager red lips.

'I've done worse,' he caught his lip between his teeth, running his hands up Jaebum's chest and causing him to suck in a sharp breath. 'Don't you want me?'

'I want you. sober.' Jaebum breathed, clinging to his morality by a thread. Jinyoung had a voice like sin itself, eyes intoxicating, and all he wanted to do was press him against the wall and make him moan.

'Bah humbug,' he pouted, and Jaebum chuckled throatily, running a thumb over those full lips.

'You can have this for now,' Jaebum smirked teasingly as he leaned in, pressing his lips against Jinyoung's and drowning in them, sweet and slow and delicious - clumsy, sloppy, awkward, but unbelievably satisfying. Jinyoung's fingers were in his hair, on his neck, gripping at his back as Jaebum ran his own up and down Jinyoung's sides, fighting himself not to slide beneath his shirt and feel his skin like he was desperate to. Jinyoung was delicate, breakable, and Jaebum didn't trust himself to handle him as gently as he needed to be handled -
Jinyoung needed things to go slow, and Jaebum needed to remember how all of this worked; rushing into it now would ruin everything.

They broke apart for air, Jinyoung's teeth lingering on Jaebum's bottom lip as he gasped, pupils blown and lips reddened, looking all kinds of debauched and wanton. Jaebum pecked his lips once more, ran his thumb over his cheek with a lingering, fond look.

Jinyoung smiled lazily, drunk and giddy and looking like a schoolboy who'd just kissed his crush. Jaebum had never found it so difficult to walk away from someone as he did then.

'Goodnight, Jinyoung.'

'Goodnight Jaebum.'


-

Mark collapsed on his bed with a lazy smile, watching Jackson wobble his way around the room as he took off his clothes clumsily and eventually tripping over a canvas and falling flat on his face. Mark giggled, and Jackson feigned ignorance, doing some push ups as if he'd intended on falling to the floor. He grinned as he got to his feet, flexing his muscles idiotically and drawing another bout of laughter from Mark's lips before he climbed on top of him, kissing his smiling mouth slowly, indulgently.

Mark ran his hands over Jackson's hips, fingers dipping beneath his vest and trailing up his defined chest as he wrapped a leg around Jackson's thigh and pressed close enough to feel Jackson's heat. Jackson broke the kiss abruptly, and Mark was drunken and dazed, trying to follow his warm lips, but Jackson was already leaning on his elbow, hovering over him and watching him closely.

'Tell me what you want.' He breathed, and Mark trailed his hand down Jackson's thick bicep.

'You.'

'I've made a lot of mistakes in my life Mark, I don't want this to be another one.'

Mark just smiled softly, placing a palm against Jackson's worried face soothingly. 'If this is a mistake, it'll be the best one I've ever made.'

Jackson still looked hesitant, but Mark was certain, sure that he wanted nothing more than Jackson hot and heavy on top of him. He was ready for this, and he was well overdue it. He tugged at the front of Jackson's vest, pulling him down to kiss him once again, and Jackson returned it slowly, tentatively pulling Mark's body closer and stroking up his sides, making
Mark's skin tingle and his hips jump.

His hands were cold against Mark's skin, large and rough as they grazed his ribs and thumbed at his rigid nipples, making him gasp against Jackson's mouth. Jackson dipped his tongue inside at that, the two of them exchanging breaths as their tongues entwined hotly, the heady perfection of a kiss that was always more prominent when you were drunk, the heaviness and thickness of it swirling in your mind and pulling you in deeper.

He pulled on Jackson's vest impatiently, breaking the kiss to pull it over his head, and Jackson sat back on his knees, tugging at his belt while Mark did the same, the two of them kicking their jeans off clumsily as they laughed like children about to get caught. Sneaking wide-eyed glances at each other as more skin was revealed, they traded shy smiles, and at the sight of Jackson's tented underwear, Marks legs fell open wider subconsciously in anticipation. Jackson saw it, though, smirking cockily as he palmed at his own crotch, looking down at Mark hungrily, teasingly.

'Like what you see?'

'Size doesn't matter if you don't know how to use it.' Mark retorted cheekily, and Jackson raised an eyebrow, eagerly rising to the challenge.

'Oh, I know how to use it.' He slurred, tugging Mark behind the knees towards him until his backside was pressed to Jackson's thighs, leaning down to capture his lips again as he ground his hips down against Mark's, sweet friction overwhelming his touch-starved body. Jackson bit his lip, pressed wet kisses to his jaw and throat as Mark's back arched and his hips rolled wantonly, tightly wound and in need of release.

'Jackson, hurry up or I'll come.' He urged, and Jackson snickered.

'So romantic, Mark.' He sucked a bruise into Mark's neck before sitting up and pulling Mark's boxers off in one smooth motion. He was too drunk to feel shy, only feeling raw arousal when Jackson spread his legs wide and took in the sight of him slowly, hungrily, the unabashed appreciation making Mark's cock twitch where it lay heavy and wet against his abdomen.

Jackson dipped his head between Mark's thighs, pushing the backs of them up and making Mark groan deeply as his wet tongue dragged over his hole, causing short, sharp breaths to leave his lips with every twist and suck, nearly wailing when Jackson dipped the muscle inside filthily, cheeks spread apart by strong hands as Jackson's eyes watched him greedily.

Soon Jackson's tongue was replaced by thick fingers, drawing obscene noises from Mark's lips, and Jackson's eyes fought to stay open as Mark dipped a hand inside his boxers, thumbing the slit teasingly before he tugged the material down, Jackson's thick cock springing free. Mark's mouth ran dry, want surging in him at the sight and making him tighten around Jackson's fingers. When he tore his eyes away to meet Jackson's again, he was watching him intently, and Mark just smiled.

'I want you.'


-


Jinyoung crawled into his bed, heavy and sleepy and content, butterflies filling his stomach and a warmth lingering on his lips. Even drunk, Jaebum was a good kisser, and his walls came down so easily, the Jaebum he was hiding from the world suddenly coming to light and blossoming beneath Jinyoung's gaze.

It turned out he was a huge dork, honestly, witty and endlessly supplying bad jokes. This was why Jackson had told him to wait, because now Jinyoung was sure Jaebum was worth the fight.

As he fell into a heavy, drunken sleep, he dreamt of Jaebum's eyes upon him, and three husky words leaving his lips.


-

Youngjae dragged Bambam's clinging body up the stairs, groaning as he closed the door and pulled him over to the sofa, depositing him there heavily. The kid didn't weigh a thing, but he had a way of pulling you down when he was drunk. Most people would think he was unconscious, but Youngjae knew better, knew it was all an act for attention - attention Youngjae was tired of giving.

He placed a glass of water on the table with some painkillers, grabbed a spare duvet and a few blankets and threw them over where he was slumped dramatically.

'One night only, Bambam. Don't try and move in again.' He sighed, Bambam not replying even though Youngjae knew he'd heard him. As he washed up for bed, he wondered why he still felt anything for him at all when he knew every trick up his sleeve, the way his voice changed when he lied, how he thought good sex was the same as an apology.

He'd barely closed his eyes when he heard light footsteps padding into his room, the matress dipping beneath additional weight and Bambam's arm slipping over his waist.

'Get out.'

'Don't you miss me, even a bit? I miss you.' Bambam breathed, tickling the back of Youngjae's neck. He repressed the shiver it sent down his spine, Bambam's voice dripping sweetly like treacle. 'Yugyeom doesn't give me what you gave me-'

'Stop.'

'You've changed. You used to be so much fun.' Youngjae could hear the pout in his voice, glad he had his back turned on him. He always fell for the pout.

'I was blind to your lies back then, Bam. My eyes are open now.'

Bambam groaned, rolling onto his back with a huff. There was a long pause, and Youngjae was frozen in place, willing himself not to give in, not to fall under Bambam's spell again, but he was surprised by Bambam's next words. 'I did love you, you know. I love Yugyeom, I think.'

Youngjae raised an eyebrow, wondering where Bambam was going with this - he'd never heard the word love fall from his forked tongue before, and he wondered if this was another trap. 'I just get scared. I don't want to be trapped; I need freedom, choices. Yugyeom wouldn't understand, he doesn't understand. He's always crying and walking out on me.' Youngjae just listened silently, knowing Bambam would fall asleep eventually. 'Youngjae, there's something I always meant to tell you, you know.' Bambam slurred sleepily, and Youngjae still didn't reply, closing his eyes and wishing for sleep.

'I just- ugh, m'gonna be sick.'


-


Mark was beautiful, face lost in pleasure as his lips formed soft words and leaked breathy moans with every thrust of Jackson's hips. Jackson had always been a pleaser, giving more than he recieved, but with Mark the gift was in the giving - the way he trembled beneath Jackson, how tight he was around him, clenching around his cock as he raked his blunt nails down Jackson's broad back. It was slow and deep and filled with unspoken words, a promise of the flesh.

Jackson watched in awe as Mark came, pulling him along for the ride as his own orgasm crashed over him at the sight and sensation until they collapsed breathlessly, drunk and sated in the afterglow. Mark lay on his side, fingers dancing over Jackson's sweaty chest as his eyes watched him intently, a small smile on his blushing lips.

'I love you.' Jackson whispered, as if speaking any louder would make it a lie, and Mark went still.

'Do you love me, or do you love me right now because I'm naked and drunk?'

'I love you. I want you to know now, so I can tell you every day. I don't know when our time will run out, when it'll be too late to say it.'

His chest was tight, heavy as he watched Mark think. He watched his brown eyes grow wet, lips hesitating on unspoken words. 'I...'

'You don't have to say it. Just tell me how you feel right now, in this exact moment. That's all you need to do. That's all I need to hear.'

'I love you, too.'

Jackson leaned close for a slow, sweet kiss, tasting the words on Mark's lips before he pulled away with a sly grin.

'Can I ask you a question?'

'Ask me anything.' Mark breathed, eyelids heavy as he fought sleep.

'You and Jinyoung, who topped and who bottomed?'

Mark groaned, rolled his eyes and pinched Jackson's lips together tiredly. 'That's enough out of you tonight.'


-


Yugyeom unlocked the door to his apartment with numb fingers, throwing his coat on the sofa and kicking his shoes off roughly - different to his usual obsessive tidiness. Slamming the door behind himself, he ignored the flashing light of his answering machine and went straight to bed. He'd always been a crybaby; anger, disappointment, happiness all bringing him to tears. He'd broken up with Bambam so many times since they moved in together that the fact his infidelity still upset him was shocking.

He saw every lingering look, every subtle touch of hands, sultry smiles thrown at every passerby who took his fancy. It frustrated him, made him feel imperfect and unworthy.

They'd attended the same college, Bambam studying performance arts while Yugyeom studied law - like his parents wanted him to. He had no real passion for it, but he'd disappointed his parents in so many ways, he had to do well in something. He'd seen him with Youngjae, heard about his reputation, but he'd still fallen for him. He remembered the drunken night they'd shared at a party, how many embarrassing things he'd rambled about while Bambam sucked his cock. Of all the people he could've lost his virginity to, it had to be Bambam;

Yugyeom didn't have much confidence in the first place, and now he had none.

Bambam had sucked him dry, made him feel inferior, not good enough, second best. It hurt like a gaping wound and he muffled his sobs in his pillow. He'd sacrificed so much, put his degree on the line, outed himself to his parents unintentionally, and here he was lying alone in his double bed while Bambam was probably out fucking some beautiful stranger.

In the end, though, he knew he'd never stop loving him, and that was what hurt the most.

-
an: i can't stop making 'coming inside' jokes im a child
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