Comments: Fully backwards chronological.
Shiwon is canting his head. The fluorescent lights in the bathroom ceiling above him that are trying to either blind him or induce a headache are managing to do both, and all he wants is to just properly put on the band aid before anyone walks in. His hips lean against the sink, his tongue peeking out in concentration and he frowns. The contact between hipbone and the sink’s porcelain is anything but pleasant but gladly only temporarily and he just really needs to finish this first. With a stiff neck from having walked around wearing a scarf all day and his arms at an awkward angle to stick a colourful patch carefully on a small welt on his skin just below the curve of his jaw, he thinks he’s nearly done, when the door opens.
“Shiwon! Hey.” It’s Kibum.
Shiwon nearly flails. He quickly finishes by messily pressing the other end of the band aid against his skin and then smiles into the mirror, being just a bit too eager to make it all look natural. As a result he ends up hitting the wrist bone of his left hand when he reaches for the faucet to wet his hands and freshen himself up, and he bites his lip to not make a scene of it. Fuck.
“Mosquito bite!” he says quickly, “If I put something on it I won’t scratch myself a scar!” After taking a look at Kibum - who doesn’t look like he believes it - he immediately adds “I mean, I’ve never tried it, but I’ve heard it’s supposed to work! Can’t hurt to try. Right?”
Shiwon would be really happy if Kibum would just nod and go away. Kibum’s a great guy, and Shiwon really does appreciate his best intentions, he does, but he just notices things too damn fast for his liking. Shiwon really doesn’t like being caught without anything to say in his defence, which is currently the case. Especially when Kibum gives him the look, closes the door, and sighs in that ‘You know you can tell me anything.’ way.
“Shiwon. How much longer are you planning to hide this?”
Shiwon points at the band aid innocently, question marks drawn on his face. No words or weapons that he can use stand a chance or are at hand, really, so he might as well choose for the lesser of two evils.
Kibum looks at him again. It’s scary how much he makes Shiwon think of a parent right now, and he knows, Shiwon can just tell that he does.
“Do you like him?”
Twenty to nine. Hankyung looks more awake than he usually is whenever Shiwon and Donghae are over, and apart from Kibum who is sitting next to him on one side of the off-white kitchen table he's the only one who doesn't look either asleep or alcohol drowsy. Bright as he always is in the mornings, he's currently trying to start up a conversation with Donghae. Shiwon thinks it's a waste of time; the boy looks and acts like he got run over by a monster truck rally. How he can still sit up relatively straight is a miracle.
Kibum's staring from across the table in the kitchen and pretending not to. Heechul who is leaning his head on Hankyung's shoulder is not, though he really just as well might, looking back and forth between Kibum and Shiwon to see what he's looking at and Shiwon knows that they are. It's making him feel uncomfortable.
"... What?" he asks at last, arching his eyebrow with his spoon still in his mouth and looks around himself to see if anything's wrong.
Kibum coughs. He scratches lightly at his own neck, trying to get the message through. Heechul's mind is too muddled and Donghae's is too busy picking at his breakfast and fiddling with his cup of caffeine-overdosed coffee which Kibum's been forcing them to drink to wake up. Neither pays attention to anything else.
Shiwon awkwardly mimics the hints. He tries hard to get whatever Kibum is attempting to communicate to him. Maybe the way he's leaning his chin on the palm of his hand and pretending to idly stir the black sugarless coffee in front of him won't give away that he's trying very hard. Whatever, it's Kibum's fault for not being more specific. Frustrated, he pulls a sulking face and shrugs like a kid who can't understand a thing and reasons that because of that it’s okay to assume that whatever he’s hearing isn’t directed at him. Shiwon feels inwardly relieved when he sees the exasperation on Kibum's face, although he frowns when he sees his younger friend look past him.
"What are you doing?" Jay asks unsteadily from the doorframe.
Shiwon instantly drops his spoon.
When they're ready to head out half an hour later, Kibum hands him his knitted black and white scarf. 'You should have brought one. It's cold in the morning', he explains. It really isn't.
Somehow it can all be blamed on alcohol, Shiwon thinks. He can't remember all of the previous night - and blames that more on occasional dozing off than on the drinks he’s had - staring up at the ceiling, as he waits for the others, or at least someone, to wake up, but despite the minor blank spots rippling his memory, he knows enough.
The kitchen clock suddenly sounds like an assault on his headache. It’s only because he started noticing the thing in the otherwise silent space of the room, nevertheless Shiwon wishes he could just shut the thing off before his eardrums tear or his head splits before he can reach the bottle of aspirins. That is, if he can figure out where they are first. The place is a mess and most of all, he doesn't live here, how is he supposed to know?
And the alarm clock that rings without warning proceeds to kill any chance of recovering before noon single-handedly within the tenth of a second.
Eight o'clock, the digits read. A hand hits the device, searches for the right button with the lack of precision that clearly reads sleep or an alcohol induction and manages to set the time an hour and five minutes ahead, switch on the snooze mode and - Shiwon wonders how on earth someone can be that scatterbrained - turn up the volume a few notches before turning it off at last.
"Moooooorning~", a familiar voice slurs, followed by an "...Ah fuck." Heechul looks like he's trying to will his headache away by pulling a face and rolling on the floor while he's tugging his shirt down after it assumingly crept up while he was asleep, when Shiwon turns his head and looks over the edge of the bed.
Shifting and shuffling indicate that the other two are waking up now too. By the looks of it Donghae's gotten himself even more trashed than Heechul, and that says a lot. Shiwon's glad all of a sudden that he hasn't had that much. He's also glad that he's the only one that slept on the bed. Heechul will probably be on his case all day for having a sore back but it's worth all that. Shiwon smiles and stretches, his headache forgotten.
"Morning," he says back.
"Morning," only Kibum returns. He sounds quite perky too. Heechul, meanwhile, is only trying to fall back asleep.
Shiwon wonders whatever the four of them - Heechul, Donghae, Kibum and himself - are doing inside Jay's room. And where Jay is. He falls back onto the bed and looks up once more, closing his eyes. Jay's bed. The thought brings back thoughts. Unfortunately his mind has decided to play a game of memory on him and he's still lacking knowledge of where most of the matching pictures fit in.
On the floor Donghae, back among the living, complains "I don't want to go to work today!"
The right one of a pair of curious eyes widens, iris automatically narrowing to try and adjust to the light, while the left's still pressed into the surface of what he thinks is a mattress. For a moment though the little light it catches only allows for a rough blurry sketch of the situation - a curve of what appears to be a shoulder. And another. And another. Shiwon doesn't need more than that to figure out that something's out of place here. Add to that the starting headache, telltale sign of an earlier inebriation, and momentarily his heart beats a doubled pace.
It would be a lie to state that millions of thoughts run through his head. He rolls onto his back, groans, and tries to rub his eyes into waking up. In fact, the only thing on Shiwon's mind apart from 'For god's sake, somebody make this headache stop,' is '...Oh shit.' The words repeat themselves in his head several times until that too is aggravating him and he breathes out. Only when he moves and nearly falls off whatever he's been sleeping on does he open his eyes again.
The light just off centre in the corner of his eye, Shiwon thinks, looks a lot like the light in one of the bedrooms.
Shiwon forgets how they ever made it here. There are wrinkled sheets under him and hands in his hair, the weight of a body on his own and it’s all lips and breathing, breathing, and allowing himself to forget. Clammy fingertips slide up on both sides of a waist, seeking urgently for patches of skin. No sooner do they settle on tugging up the shirt than the mouth on his own that’s kissing him is burrowing itself into the curve of his neck and Shiwon’s hands drop back onto the mattress, thinking he might just be going insane.
He vaguely remembers narrow hallways and doors opening and a body against his and it all happens quickly from there on, but he fails to explain how he managed to excuse himself from the rest to get to that hallway. Hankyung wasn’t there. Hankyung had gone to sleep earlier, probably after pretty logically assuming that Heechul and Donghae when they’re giggling while rolling on the floor are drunk enough to make him a possible new target - and the combination of the two of them is especially deadly - but Shiwon is too busy with other things to think about that now, and at the moment he just doesn’t care.
Ah, yes, he thinks he might have used the justification of having to go to the bathroom.
Then again, so had Jay, one minute earlier. And here they are.
Shut off from the rest of the house by a door that’s not even closed and a few walls that do nothing to mute the laughter from the living room, although neither particularly care. At least Shiwon knows he doesn’t. He only cares about this, wet clinging kisses pressed to his neck and the fleeting sensation of a tongue tracing the shell of his ear and about god, the friction. It’s making him stretch his body and press up against Jay, who responds immediately with more.
It’s so easy to slip in a smile between hitched breathing. The sound doesn’t carry far and it doesn’t communicate quite anything, but it feels natural to do so and the hands that had been combing through his hair and brushing over his neck slide down as if on cue and start pulling at the hem of his blouse.
There are six blissful seconds of warm hands on Shiwon’s sides that ask for more and are eager to give it before his breathing stills. No more sounds are coming from the living room, or the kitchen, or wherever Heechul, Donghae and Kibum might have gone, and then a dead weight stumbles down on top of him.
“Hi~!!!” Donghae slurs. Or at least, Shiwon guesses it’s Donghae by the sound of his voice. He doesn’t know what to do with the sudden change, still too busy trying to will himself to calm down, calm down, and what the hell just happened?
Also, where did Heechul and Kibum go? And shouldn’t he think about himself first? With Donghae still atop Jay, who’s still on top of him and has no choice but to not make a move and just awkwardly lie there, he tries to pull his shirt down and looks around with a rather defenceless expression.
Donghae looks like he’s amusing himself. “What are you do-ing?” he whines and moves his shoulders accordingly. From the floor - oh, so that’s where Heechul’s gone - sounds laughter. It sounds really not how Heechul laughs are supposed to sound and Shiwon can not blame Hankyung for leaving the party early all of a sudden. He groans. It doesn’t for a moment come to his mind that he needs to cover something up here and instead just lies there.
When the weight is finally lightened, he feels awkwardly flattened and just a little light-headed. Kibum frowns at him. Shiwon doesn’t like it. He’s used to pulling a puppy face and getting away with anything, but he doesn’t think that’ll work this time. He knows why his friend is giving him that look, he just doesn’t want to face it. There are reasons why people don’t want other people to see these kinds of things.
It’s quiet for a moment. Then Kibum pulls Jay up and mutters while dragging him out of the room “You’re sleeping in Hannie’s room tonight.”
Heechul doesn't ask if people want to drink with him. He just ignores everyone's requests for whatever drink they want in the second commercial break of watching a movie on TV - and oh, they could have guessed that he of all people offering to get everyone drinks was risky to begin with - and when Shiwon looks down at his glass he really doesn't know why he hadn't expected this.
"Nice alcoholic mutation of what I actually asked for," Jay, to Shiwon's far left, tries to make his point with an unusually monotonous and dry remark, eyebrow raised. He's the only one who dares question it.
Heechul looks at him and nods in that typical toothy I'm-not-sorry-for-this-at-all way. "It's all we had." Which makes it clear to everyone else that the while it took for Heechul to fetch them their drinks was spent emptying bottles in the sink. They're all silent.
Kibum is the first to move, turning to look back at the screen. He leaves his drink alone. He hadn't asked for anything and the fact that he's been handed a glass anyway doesn't make Heechul any more trustworthy. Besides, the clear chemical colour that only his drink has worries him.
Leaning idly against him, Donghae is visibly wondering if he should drink or not, though he usually ends up drinking most out of everyone anyway. He doesn't quite seem to care, he's already arranged that he can sleep over after all. With a schedule starting at nine the next morning, a rare luxury, he is practically cheering Heechul on without words for bringing up the idea and the first to accept the offer of alcohol with a big swallow. Shiwon likes how he can just read his patterns of thoughts by looking at his friend. Donghae has never been a closed book to anybody.
Hankyung on the contrary, whose room Donghae'll be sharing, gets up with every intention of checking up on the supply of what's in the house. Shiwon knows he doesn't mind alcohol, but Hankyung looks sleepy and that has never mixed well with him. Especially when Heechul's around. Nobody wants to wake up the next morning with a hangover and doodles on his face, and that's happened before.
When he returns from the kitchen, all that Hankyung can do is nod in defeat and sit down before Heechul can start his 'Yah, Hannie, don't be a spoilsport!' thing again.
Something must be going on in the far end of the dressing room. Shiwon looks at the people gathering around Heechul with an amused expression on his face, though he’s curious and he wants to get changed first, and Shiwon’s really just too lazy to get up and not ashamed to admit it. “What’s up with them?” he asks Yehsung who is sitting next to him, struggling into a shirt that stays rolled up at the back. He laughs at the sight.
Shiwon thinks he can hear Shindong call out “Hey, show me! I want to it see too!”
Yehsung looks up and turns to Shiwon, then to the group, and back to him again, like he’s planning on crossing the street. He pulls a face and faces his back to him. “Come on, help me out here,” he complains and while Shiwon is untangling the shirt Yehsung explains the situation with a striking simplicity.
“Heechul’s dating someone.”
Of course Heechul’s dating someone. He has been walking around being all lively and happy and buggy last couple of days. Heechul had told Shiwon the other day, and he can remember him carrying the broad smile clearly, because it’s Heechul and whenever Heechul is that content something’s up. It’s hard to have missed that. As a result, everyone already knows.
“I think he’s showing them a photo of her.”
Oh. Oh! Shiwon perks up. There are new developments! “When did he get her picture?”
Yehsung shrugs. “I don’t know. Just now, I think. Don’t you think he would have showed it around earlier if he could?” And yes, there’s no point arguing about that, they both know he’s right. Heechul not taking the chance to boast about something like that is like the world coming to an end. But while Shiwon’s happy for his friend, he’s uncomfortably quiet. Yehsung meanwhile returns to putting on his socks.
Just when the cluster of nosy people around Heechul disperses to finally get changed too, like they should have done five minutes ago, Yehsung turns to Shiwon again.
“So when are you going to make your move?”
Shiwon immediately freezes and he needs to control himself not to choke, staring at him with big eyes. What?
Yehsung laughs. “Oh come on Shiwon, it’s obvious. Donghae says you’re even acting all strange around TV kisses lately. Just tell her.”
A forced smile is all that he gets. Shiwon wonders if Yehsung would still be cheering him on that openly if he knew that the person in question isn’t a she. And the “You’ll do fine. Don’t worry about it,” that he gets when the other stands up when he’s done changing is something Shiwon’s not sure he’s happy hearing.
There is no way to avoid the contact despite their distance. Shiwon mutters an apology when Heechul, feet sprawled across the couch and with his head on Shiwon’s lap while he’s absently zapping through channels, reaches up to hit him on the head for zoning out while he’s being asked what he wants to watch, Jay looks away from opposite them, and Kibum laughs at their embarrassment.
He’s been coming over a lot lately. Hankyung had joked the other day that really, they should just get him his own key to the apartment because he’s over more than some of them that actually live here are, and the next day Shiwon finds it in a sealed envelope on his doorstep with a little note that says “If anyone asks, call it an early birthday present.”
So here he is, trying to appease Heechul by looking at what’s showing and randomly pointing out something that he thinks might be fun while it’s the last thing on his mind right now.
When the phone on the table suddenly goes off, the first thing that Shiwon thinks is that he’s happy he wasn’t leaning forward in any way, because Heechul jumps up, grabs for the device, and is off. That kind of thing would have gotten him a fractured nose. “What the hell?” he utters.
Kibum laughs and steals the remote before he can pick it up from the floor. “Girlfriend, remember?”
Shiwon catches Jay’s eyes and neither of them seem very happy at that moment.
“We need to be more careful.”
They shift, Shiwon leans up, and there’s a small shared kiss that blooms up between flushed lips. “I mean it,” Jay says while he rests his chin on where neck and collarbone meet and tries to take no notice of the effects that a clammy warm body that’s still trying to even its breathing and calm down has on his own, “We need to be careful. They can’t find out.”
The subject’s entirely too heavy for the type of situation. Although it needs to be discussed, both would have picked a different timing for it if the option had been available. Jay’s words are nothing new though but sound too definitive in Shiwon’s ears.
There’s only the sparse moments when they’re alone in the apartment or when everyone’s asleep and they should be too. It’s not enough, so not enough, and ‘going over to friends’, which is really ‘staying at a hotel’, feels like lying. They can’t keep this up. It’s all pretending that they’re just friends and that the physical contact that they share is purely platonic and sometimes, like tonight, they forget that there are rules. The one taking first position on the list states in bold print:
‘Nobody finds out.’
That’s exactly where the problem lies. Shiwon closes his eyes and lets his head fall back. He sighs. He can feel the nipping of lips and he smiles, even though they’re only trying to comfort, offering wordless apologies. “They won’t,” he whispers, “We’ll say it’s because of alcohol or something. I don’t know.” With the time that Kibum and Donghae nearly found out still fresh in his memory, he knows they’ll just have to stick to that.
“Do you think anyone suspects anything?” Jay asks.
Shiwon shakes his head. No, he doesn’t think that anyone does. But that doesn’t make this any easier.
It’s cold outside. Winter’s finally making its appearance and the remainder of Christmas lights that should have been removed already are still shining in trees and along fences. But Christmas is past and the towering tree in the park is out of date with New Year being the next big thing that everyone is looking forward to now. It’s also late and too cold for normal people to be out.
Shiwon breathes out and rubs his hands together, a puff of condensed air from his warm breath escaping into air. He can feel the tiny droplets on his face and hands and looks up from just outside the door of the apartment that Heechul, Kibum, Hankyung and Jay share. It looks like there will be rain.
He knows that he could have gone home to sleep much earlier if he hadn’t stayed up waiting. Hankyung’s the only one he has seen all night, and Hankyung is great company, but not whom he came to see. Shiwon stuffs his hands in his pockets. He should get going.
“Hey, what are you doing here?”
Jay frowns amusedly, looking up at him with the hood of his jacket pulled over his head. Shiwon can see him try to remember what time it was. In the end he says with an apologising laugh: “I didn’t know you were coming over. I mean, Heechul and Kibum aren’t home, right? Did Hankyung stay up? He said he was going to bed early today because he’s been really tired last couple of days.” He stops to breathe, and he’s normally not that talkative. “Either way, I would have tried to get home a little sooner if I knew you were dropping by!” he finishes.
“Hannie went to sleep around nine thirty,” Shiwon confirms for him with a smile of his own. But he doesn’t feel all that confident.
Jay blinks. It’s past midnight.
“Put two and two together,” Shiwon tells him, and he suddenly looks small and like it took a lot of courage for him to say it in the momentary silence that follows. Then he pulls his coat closer around himself before stepping back to signal going home, avoiding eye contact. “And let me know when you’ve got an answer.”
At a few minutes to five in the morning the most recent message on Shiwon’s phone, awkward in its own way, reads “Okay.”
Shiwon thinks at that point, barely awake but tingly and hot and cold and happy, that the hardest part is over.