San’s always slow to wake in the morning, gifted by a wonderfully horrible body clock that refuses to start ticking until at least half past ten, but on the night of their first show of their first tour, he found out that it was different for mornings right after a performance—when his body still ached from commanding a stage all night and his fingers still fought to fall back into position along the phantom neck of his guitar and his throat still felt heavy with all of the words he couldn’t sing.
Usually it fucked with his head enough to get him to drink for breakfast. Those were the only mornings he didn’t feel so slow, all keyed up and fidgeting for another distraction instead. Back then, there’d been no shortage of them around, but all that meant was that it dragged out the spiral until his body finally gave out and was forced into slowness.
Waking up with Wooyoung’s a little different: slow but not sluggish. Slow, but like he wants it to be.
Wooyoung had fallen asleep first, which isn’t unusual, and San had taken that moment to move them to his bed. He was only able to do the bare minimum clean up on the machine before he was afraid that Wooyoung would wake up without him there, but it wasn’t a difficult decision to leave it for the morning.
He wakes up first, though. That’s less usual. It’s not the time he wakes up, because there’s enough light fighting to get in through the curtains that he can feel it’s around the same time he usually wakes up, it’s the fact that Wooyoung’s still asleep this late.
Wooyoung’s always woken up before him—it’s been that way ever since the first night he accidentally spent over in San’s room and San woke up to an unexpectedly empty bed. On the rare mornings he was over at Wooyoung’s house instead, his parents out and the kitchen free for Wooyoung to make them breakfast, San had once commented, I don’t know how you have this much energy to do shit this early in the morning.
He remembers how Wooyoung had cocked his head a little, like he genuinely didn’t understand the question. I have to, he’d said.
San’s never had the language for it, but he thinks he’s always known what it is. Recognized it, maybe, that troubled furrow he always sees hanging over Wooyoung’s face, like Wooyoung’s constantly looking for something to do.
They’ve always been the same in that way, San thinks. They’ve wanted something that had the same name; they’d just been looking in different places for it.
God knows it’s taken him so long to realize the right place.
In his arms, Wooyoung shifts a little.
He looks the most peaceful when he’s asleep. Despite that slightest hint of tension between his eyebrows, the rest of his face has been softened by the light, and he looks good like this, half-sunken into the excessive number of sheets and pillows on San’s bed. Unable to help himself, San brushes a kiss over his brow.
Wooyoung makes a small sound, his eyebrows twitching. The furrow deepens a little—it’s how San knows he’s close to waking up. It never really goes away, not even when Wooyoung sleeps, just looks a little less severe. Too bad, San thinks, when peace looks so good on him.
A moment later, Wooyoung makes another sound again, this time closer to a full sigh. San tugs him the rest of the way into his arms, chuckling when Wooyoung mumbles something and tilts his face into San’s neck.
“Awake, baby?” San rubs at his waist. Wooyoung’s shirt, one of San’s big sweaters that he’d pulled onto him to fight off the autumn chill, is already loose on San, which means that on Wooyoung, it rucks up even easier when Wooyoung stretches like a cat. Wooyoung’s waist is soft under his palm, all morning warmth, and San follows their subtlest curve before sliding his hand over the small of Wooyoung’s back.
“Ew,” Wooyoung mutters into his neck. “Cold.” His voice is a little hoarse. He sounds good in the morning too.
San chuckles and presses a kiss into his forehead, then another to his mouth for good measure. “Good morning to you too. How’re you feeling?”
“Bearable.” Wooyoung sighs, sniffling. Is he coming down with something? “Bones still missing, I think.”
San hums, feeling out his own voice too. It’s always a little strange after he wakes up, too close to the feeling of being silent onstage for an entire night. But it’s bearable too, because he already feels better just talking to Wooyoung. “Better stay here until you find them again, right?”
“Might take a while,” Wooyoung says, and San hums again to let him know that that’s completely fine by his book. A moment later, Wooyoung shifts again, and he says, “I wasn’t wearing this shirt last night.”
“I put it on you.” San pats his warm back, proud. “Didn’t want you to be cold.”
“Uh huh. So why’s your cold hand up it?”
“It’s big enough for the both of us.”
“Take it if you’re cold.”
“No,” he complains. “Wear it.”
He feels Wooyoung huff against his neck, but he doesn’t make any movement to pull away for now, so maybe, hopefully, he’s feeling a slow morning too. “What time s’it?” he asks around a yawn.
“Dunno,” San says, honest enough. He has no qualms about lying to keep Wooyoung in his bed a little longer, though: “Really early, probably.”
It gets a small groan out of Wooyoung, who doesn’t sound like he trusts his judgment at all. “I feel like a bag of bricks,” Wooyoung says. “Maybe two.”
San gives him a sympathetic hum. “Wow, two entire bags of bricks?”
“Don’t make fun of me.” Wooyoung squirms, probably feeling how San’s grinning into his hair. “How come I feel like the only one who’s tired here?”
“I am tired,” San relents. “Just less tired since you’re here. Plus, I wasn’t the one who got railed last night. I’m only half-a-bag-of-bricks tired.”
“I can’t believe you really left in the middle to answer the door,” Wooyoung sniffles. “What’d Hongjoong-hyung even want?”
“I took his wallet home by accident. Don’t worry, he didn’t see anything.”
“Maybe not see,” Wooyoung says gloomily. “Who knows what he heard.”
“If he’s friends with Yunho and Seonghwa-hyung, I can tell you that he’s definitely seen and heard worse,” San says, teasing. “You looked like you were enjoying yourself while I was gone, though.”
“San, it was going so fast,” Wooyoung whines, looking so rumpled by this. “And hard. Like, really hard. I think I can still feel it in my ass.”
San noses mildly at him. “Baby, if you keep talking about it, you’re going to make something else hard.”
“Oh my god. We both know it’s your dick, so just say it’s your dick.”
“Don’t offend it,” San says, just to get a little peal of giggles out of Wooyoung. God, he can’t get enough of him.
“I’m sorry, sajangnim,” Wooyoung says, and then he fucking cups him, and it’s San’s turn to laugh, startled and somehow completely endeared even with Wooyoung’s hand on his morning wood.
“I don’t think you sound that sorry at all,” he tells him.
“I was apologizing to your dick, not you,” Wooyoung says primly. “I couldn’t call you sajangnim even if I closed my eyes.”
“Fine,” San says, running a hand up his side. “You can call me hyung instead.”
Instead of getting another laugh, San gets an armful of a very still Wooyoung, who looks distinctly more flustered by his words than he did when they were talking about him getting railed by the machine. San remembers him looking embarrassed the last time he tried to pull this, but now that there’s fewer distractions, he can see the plain extent of Wooyoung’s blush. Interesting.
“What’s wrong, baby?” He pauses on his hip, just resting his hand there.
“Nothing,” Wooyoung says, not sounding that convincing at all. “Just a small cramp.”
A cramp. He’s so cute. “Where?” San asks, all sympathetic eyes.
“My leg,” Wooyoung mutters.
“Oh.” San clicks his tongue, sliding his hand all the way down to Wooyoung’s bare thigh, sinking his fingers into soft skin and urging him to hike it over his hip. “C’mere, let hyung see.”
Wooyoung buries his face into his chest with a small whine, and fuck, okay, if San had known, this would’ve been a thing two jokes ago.
“There you go. So good for me,” he coos, gathering Wooyoung up tighter into his arms.
“San. I don’t think I can…”
“Why don’t you address me properly, baby?” San says lightly.
He practically feels the shiver that goes through Wooyoung. Patiently, he keeps rubbing at his hip, content to lie there for however long it would take Wooyoung to catch his breath, to either sink or surface.
Then, finally, soft as a breeze: “Hyung.”
He sounds so shy. San thinks he’s going to lose his mind. “Go ahead, baby.”
“I’m still too sore,” Wooyoung mumbles.
Ah. He might’ve been giving Wooyoung the wrong impression by running his hand appreciatively over his ass, although mindful not to move the plug around too much; he’s not sure how well he can convince Wooyoung that he just likes touching him. That, or his dick gave him away, half-hard against Wooyoung’s pelvis. “It’s okay,” he says soothingly. “We don’t have to do anything, I just wanted you close.”
Wooyoung squirms. “S’not that. I thought…” He purses his lips in that way that makes the mole on his bottom lip even more tempting to kiss. “I can use my mouth instead?”
San pulls back a little to get a good look at him: Wooyoung’s hazy-eyed, partly from sleep, partly from something else. San runs his tongue over his piercing contemplatively. He’s intimately familiar with many of the expressions Wooyoung wears, and this is one that he hasn’t seen often. Not since their first time, he thinks.
“Baby wants to use his mouth on hyung?” he murmurs. “Wanna make me feel good, Youngie?”
Wooyoung begins nodding first, and the “Yeah,” doesn’t come out of him until a beat later, delayed. “Yeah, Sannie, I want that.”
San squeezes his hip.
“Hyung,” Wooyoung says, throat bobbing with a swallow. “M’sorry.”
That’s the fastest he’s ever gotten a sincere-sounding apology from him too.
“It’s all right, baby,” San says, petting through his hair. “Go ahead then, but don’t push yourself, okay?” He gives the back of his neck a meaningful squeeze. “I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“Won’t get hurt,” Wooyoung promises, fitting both hands against his chest and nudging him backwards. It’s San’s turn to sink into the pillows now, Wooyoung astride him looking like a vision out of San’s dreams.
He’s really been so good for him, so San rests his hands easily on his knees and lets him do what he wants, and it turns out that what Wooyoung wants to do is lean down and give San a kiss on the neck. San mourns him not leaving a mark there, but not for long, because Wooyoung seems to find a different spot a little lower, somewhere along his collarbone. San sighs, basking in the sweet brush of his teeth over his skin. He’s stiffening against the swell of Wooyoung’s ass, but he can feel Wooyoung’s cock laying over his belly, warm and heavy too. Maybe Wooyoung’s just sore around the plug, and he’ll let San get a hand on him too.
Wooyoung presses another kiss to his clavicle before arriving at one of his nipples. San gasps a little at the first brush of his tongue, the barbell doing wonders for his sensitivity. He winds a hand into Wooyoung’s soft, thick hair and holds him there as Wooyoung laps and sucks at his nipple, dragging one last wet kiss over it before he moves onto the other.
San closes his eyes and feels it out. He likes getting his mouth on Wooyoung a lot more, but he understands why Wooyoung unravels so quickly when he’s the one under San’s mercy like this. Unlike him, though, Wooyoung seems happy to let him have it, no hint of teasing in his actions.
Wooyoung’s way too good to him.
“Does that feel good?” Wooyoung murmurs, propping himself up a little. He looks to San, searching for approval.
“More than good,” San says, brushing his thumb over his temple. “You’re perfect.”
“No I’m not,” Wooyoung says, and the only reason San doesn’t protest is because he rolls his hips purposely and grinds down right on San’s cock.
San groans, hips jerking upwards instinctively, and Wooyoung makes a small noise when he’s bounced a little in his lap. “I thought you were too sore,” San says breathlessly, using every bit of self control not to fuck up again and see how loud he can make Wooyoung mewl.
“I am,” Wooyoung says, sounding so dismayed about it. He rolls his hips down one more time, pretty mouth parting into a soundless gasp, and San’s so fucking grateful that he clambers down to nestle between San’s legs in the next moment without putting him through another test.
Wooyoung wraps a warm hand around him. His are bigger than San’s, rougher, always a faint surprise whenever San finds himself the one with his legs spread open, and San’s definitely seen him rougher too, throat fucked hoarse and still gasping for San to give it to him harder, but it looks like the haze makes him want to be soft today.
San makes the mistake of looking down at him. His eyes are half-lidded, his freckle looking especially pretty as he nuzzles into San’s length, suckling lightly at the base of it. It feels like an echo of the night before, but now there’s no table to block his view of Wooyoung panting softly against his aching cock.
“You look so pretty, baby,” he says, voice beginning to feel rough. “Why don’t you give hyung a kiss?”
Wooyoung’s cheeks flush delightfully red, but he does it, eyes fluttering shut the whole way as he presses a kiss to the underside of San’s dick. “Good, Wooyoungie,” San breathes. There’s no way Wooyoung didn’t feel how San twitched from that—San feels ready to snap already, and it’s like Wooyoung doesn’t even know, apparently happy to keep stroking and moaning softly right up against San’s cock.
“Feels good, hyungie?” Wooyoung whispers, and fuck, fuck.
San swallows hard. “Yeah, baby. Doing so well for me.”
Wooyoung smiles—not his usual smug, satisfied smiles, but one that looks earnestly happy with himself. “I’ll make you feel better,” he promises, before he takes San into the wet velvet heat of his mouth.
San lets his head fall back on the pillows with a moan. He curls and uncurls his fingers restlessly into Wooyoung’s hair as Wooyoung pauses just past the tip and pulls back again, setting a slow, shallow pace. Messy. San can feel him drooling around his cock, dripping down his length, and a moment later Wooyoung seems to notice it too because he pulls off with a gasp to lick it up. San’s going to pass out like this, he thinks.
“Mmh,” Wooyoung moans, replacing his mouth with his hand. He sucks and licks at the other side of his strokes, pinning San between two alarmingly perfect sensations. He’s getting spit and precum everywhere, but he doesn’t seem to care, just moving up to dip his tongue into San’s slit. San keens, his other hand twisting into the sheets so he doesn’t take it out on Wooyoung’s poor hair instead.
“You taste so good, hyung.” The air fills with the faint, wet sounds of Wooyoung stroking San’s cock. “You never let me have it last night, y’know.”
“What do you mean, sweetheart?” San pants, a little too gone to focus on anything except the brand of Wooyoung kissing his dick seared into the backs of his eyelids.
“I wanted you to cum on my face,” Wooyoung mumbles.
Oh. “Baby,” San says, shifting a little higher back up the headboard, “c’mere, pretty.”
Wooyoung shuffles up with him, and until San has a better reach on his hair. Wooyoung nuzzles into his inner thigh as San pets him, his hand loosening around San’s length. “You can pull harder,” he whispers.
San knows, but it’s sweet to hear from Wooyoung too. He tugs a handful of the soft, dark strands, and Wooyoung lets out a shaky little sigh by his cock, the tip of it nudging against his flushed bottom lip.
San wraps a hand around himself and squeezes so he doesn’t cum right there, even if Wooyoung looks like he wants it. “Open wide,” he murmurs, voice raw.
Wooyoung’s mouth falls open. San feeds his cock back in, and Wooyoung’s the one who moans louder, like this is somehow making him feel even better than San. He sinks down deeper this time, until San brushes the beginnings of his throat, and he starts sucking in earnest like that, moaning and whimpering every time he takes San in.
“Sound so gorgeous with your mouth full of hyung’s cock,” San praises breathlessly, using the grip on his hair to urge him faster. “Shit, you’re gonna make me cum.”
Wooyoung makes a slurred little noise of approval. He tilts his head so San’s cock bulges in his cheek with each thrust, heavy-lidded gaze fixed on San. The hand that isn’t rubbing at the base of San’s cock is curled languidly on San’s hip, fucking balled up into a— a sweater paw, and San loses it.
“I’m cumming,” he grits out, pulling Wooyoung off by the hair despite his plaintive moan. San strokes himself in place of his mouth, unwilling to wait any longer, feeling a little frenzied with how filthy Wooyoung looks panting against his cock. “Tell me where you want it, baby, fuck.”
“Cum on my mouth, hyung,” Wooyoung whines.
“Fuck—fuck!” San holds his head back tightly to keep him in place while he strips his cock the rest of the way there, focused on the pink loll of Wooyoung’s tongue, and then he’s cumming with a startling force, groaning roughly as pearly strings of white decorate Wooyoung’s parted lips. Wooyoung’s tongue darts out to lick at it, and San doesn’t have enough strength to stop him from surging forward and swallowing San down again, moaning around San’s cock as San spills the rest down his throat.
“Fuck, Wooyoungie,” he gasps, tugging him off as soon as his cock starts to protest. Wooyoung’s still licking his lips like a goddamn cat, slinking back up the length of San’s body to kiss him. San welcomes him readily with a filthy kiss, only to find that Wooyoung really swallowed it all.
“Can’t believe you sometimes,” he says, helping to adjust Wooyoung on his stomach until Wooyoung’s panting into his mouth, dragging his much-slicker cock over San’s stomach. San gets a hand over it, letting him fuck into his palm, and Wooyoung whimpers and buries his head into San’s neck. “How long’ve you been keeping that one from me, hm?”
“I didn’t know,” Wooyoung mewls, hips jerking adorably above him. “Please, please can I cum?”
San squeezes one cheek of his ass, then braces his fingers over the base of the plug and grinds it in. “Yeah, cum for me, baby.”
Wooyoung cums with a small gasp, muffled against San. It becomes more audible for a moment when San tugs him up, then lost again when San slots his mouth over his. Wooyoung’s cock twitches in his slick hand—it looks like he’s still spent from the night before, not as messy as he usually is. San feeds it to him anyway, the way he knows he likes, murmuring more praises as Wooyoung cleans his fingers off.
He’s even more pliant after that, not complaining when San rolls him back into the sheets. The room’s definitely too bright to pass off for morning now, but Wooyoung, under the blissful magic of an orgasm, doesn’t say anything about this. He even huffs when San coaxes him into letting him take out the plug and clean him off, all traces of that sweet politeness gone as he paws at San and tries to yank him back into bed.
Except by the time San does, he’s asleep again.
San’s too endeared to be offended. He’s never seen Wooyoung sleep in blatant daylight before, but he’s pretty sure Wooyoung’s also never had a night like the one before. He just slips on a fresh pair of sweatpants—regretfully, it’s too chilly to sleep naked now—and gets an even comfier pair on Wooyoung too, then joins him back under the covers. It might be rare for Wooyoung to laze around this much, but not for him.
He adjusts Wooyoung back to the position he’d been in when they first woke up, resting on his upper arm while San scrolls through his phone absently.
Wooyoung doesn’t sleep as long this time, regretfully. He snuffles awake maybe an hour later, looking bleary. “What time is it?” is the first thing he asks again. San isn’t surprised.
“Really early,” San says, wondering if he can convince Wooyoung that he slept a full twenty hours.
“That didn’t work the first time,” Wooyoung grouses.
San puts away the apartment listings as Wooyoung seeks him out under the covers. One of his hands eventually lands at the front of San’s shirt, not pushing or pulling, just curled there, and it’s not often that Wooyoung’s the clingy one in bed, so San takes what he can get. He drops his phone somewhere in the sheets and wiggles around, hiking his leg over Wooyoung’s.
“Let me up.” Wooyoung splays a listless hand over his cheek but does nothing to stop or slow San’s journey down to kiss his mouth. “I have to make breakfast.”
“It’s way too late for that,” San chides. “Let’s just stay here for a while.”
“Define ‘a while,’” Wooyoung says, but he tilts his face up with a sigh when San reaches his neck, and San hums at his indulgence before starting to leave kisses there too. He forgets to answer when he reaches the first of the marks he left him the night before, low on his collar. He knows there’s a matching one on his own neck, which just makes it more satisfying when he closes his mouth over it and works on leaving a fresher one.
Under him, Wooyoung sighs, always so responsive for him. It makes San feel heard. Felt. Like he’s touching the surface of water and watching it ripple out from beneath his fingertips, every ring a reminder that he’s something real, capable of touching and making real, beautiful things without hurting them.
There’s a lot he can’t do right, but this is one thing he knows he can.
“Wooyoung-ah?” He uncurls his leg from Wooyoung’s and rolls them over, propping himself up on the pillows by Wooyoung’s head. Wooyoung’s legs fall open by his hips, lax, one hand resting easily over his stomach and his other by his head, close to San’s.
Like this, San gets his first proper look at him all morning. He’s still a little soft-eyed, maybe from how deep he’d fallen before. There’s a lingering flush on one side of his cheek from being pressed against San’s arm, and San cups it, rubbing his thumb comfortingly over the pinkened skin. A small fringe of his hair lies askew over his forehead—it’s starting to grow past his ears these days, fanning more starkly over the white pillows, and there’s a new, subtle wave to them that’s only ever there in the mornings. San’s tempted to comb his fingers through them now, but the angle’s off, and he doesn’t want to crush Wooyoung when Wooyoung looks so relaxed.
He feels something brush over his stomach. “San-ah? What’s wrong?” Wooyoung’s looking up at him, that furrow back between his brows again.
San realizes he’s been staring. “Nothing, baby,” he promises, leaning down to kiss his forehead. He feels it pinch tighter for a moment, before it relaxes. “Just got distracted by how pretty you look.”
“Hm. Did you put eyeliner on me before I went to sleep too?” Wooyoung says.
Sometimes San isn’t sure if Wooyoung really thinks he only looks pretty when he has makeup, or if he thinks San’s just being glib. “Nah. Just pants,” San says, giving him a kiss.
Wooyoung squirms. “Trying to get your whole wardrobe on me in my sleep, huh?”
“If I say yes, will you spend more nights here and help me out?”
“You do always find the warmest shirts.” Wooyoung yawns. That’s not a no, so San remains hopeful. If he could, he’d have it so Wooyoung would forget what it ever meant to be cold. It’s all San wants to do sometimes—cup his hands around him and hold him close, the way he’d cup a hand around a candle to keep the wind from blowing it out.
Wooyoung taps him lightly on the cheek. “What were you going to say before?”
San pauses by his jaw. “Was gonna ask if you’d let me take care of you today,” he hums, mouthing at a fading mark.
He feels Wooyoung sigh at it, his fingers scritching lightly at San’s stomach in approval. “Didn’t we already do that?”
“Sort of,” he says. “I was thinking more in general.”
San isn’t sure how else to put it. “I want to take care of you,” he says, straightening up to look at Wooyoung.
Wooyoung tilts his head up at him, looking puzzled. “That’s still the same thing…?”
If San didn’t know him better, he would think that Wooyoung's just being stubborn like always, but the lingering fuzziness in his eyes tells him that Wooyoung's confusion is sincere. “I mean like that, yeah, if you still want it, but the stuff afterwards too?” There’s no single neat word for it, which is really starting to be inconvenient. Still, San does his best. “Like, a shower, for one. We really need to shower, unless you finally want to put that giant tub to use. I’ll wash your hair and stuff.”
Wooyoung doesn’t stop him, just blinks up at him like he might’ve expected to hear something else. San feels a little uneasy, but it doesn’t seem like a bad reaction, so he goes on.
“I can make us something after that. It’s definitely not breakfast anymore, so lunch or...brunch? And maybe dinner tonight, but I know my food’s not that great, so we could order something instead too. We can spend the whole day in here if you don’t have anything important to do,” he pauses, “or especially if you have something important to do. We can just lay around and watch a movie or something. Oh, or sleep some more.” He feels a little pink in the face himself once he finishes. “Anything you want, honestly.”
San isn’t sure if he’s seen this look on him before either. He seems thrown, like maybe San switched to an alien language halfway through. “I mean, we’ve done all of that before, right? So…” He stops. He frowns a little, and San finds himself mirroring it. “I’m not sure what you’re asking, I think.”
“I want to do things for you,” San says, slower this time. “Nice things. Like the things you usually do for me.”
“Well,” he says, pensive, “why do you do them for me?”
“Because—” Wooyoung gestures vaguely. He looks more and more flustered by the second, fidgeting with his hands when he’s not gesturing with them. “Because you can’t cook? And you said you like my food.”
“Okay, those are both true, and you know I’m always grateful whenever you do it,” San says agreeably, “but I also survived for more than half of my life without you doing it for me, so it’s not, like, a thing you need to do for me, right?”
“Just because you survived doesn’t mean you were eating well,” Wooyoung says mildly, until San pokes him in the side and he relents, “Okay, yeah, I get your point. I don’t get what that has to do with anything, though.”
“Why do you do it if you don’t need to do it?” San presses.
“Because I like to?” Wooyoung says slowly.
“There.” San flashes him a triumphant smile, relief breaking through his unease like sunshine after rain. “That’s the same reason I want to do them for you.”
“But it’s different,” Wooyoung insists. “I can cook for myself.”
“Baby, would you stop cooking for me if I suddenly learned how to?”
“Okay, see? You do it because you want to.”
“I do it to take care of you,” Wooyoung says in exasperation, and it looks like he didn’t mean to blurt that out because he seems to realize his mistake and quickly clamp his lips shut. “I didn’t— You know what I mean,” he mutters, and something about it feels—
The unease is beginning to creep back in.
“You do it to take care of me,” San repeats, agreeing. “It’s not embarrassing, baby, so don’t be embarrassed, okay? It’s sweet. You’re sweet.” Wooyoung looks ready to protest against the word choice, so before he can start, San says gently, “I just don’t know why you seem to think that I can’t want to take care of you, too?”
Wooyoung averts his gaze, but not quickly enough for San to miss the way his eyes suddenly look a little wet.
Does Wooyoung think—?
“Wooyoung-ah?” Maybe there’s a part of him that’s suspected it for a while, but knowing that he was right on this one thing he never wanted to be is another thing entirely. He ducks his head a little, trying to meet Wooyoung’s eyes again, but Wooyoung just lifts his hands over his face until all San can see is the tight twist of his mouth. “Wooyoung-ah,” he calls again, feeling his heart in his throat. There’s a vice around it, squeezing, squeezing. “Why wouldn’t I want that?”
“It’s not that,” Wooyoung says weakly. “I haven’t— It’s not like I’ve done anything to deserve it?”
San’s mouth goes dry at this word again. This fucking word. “Wooyoung, do you think that I don’t think you deserve it? That I don’t think you deserve someone to take care of you?”
“Sannie,” Wooyoung begs, reaching out blindly to tug at his shirt. “I don’t think that, okay? Please just drop it.”
“But you do. You deserve all of it and so much more, so fucking much more,” San says, the words clawing up his throat too viciously for him to stop. “But if you think that I still wouldn’t want to take care of you, even in some world where you didn’t deserve it?” Wooyoung makes a noise close to a whimper, and San feels— He grasps his hand, squeezing it tightly, and he tells him, not nearly fast enough, “Youngie, I care about you. I care about you so fucking much, and I want to look after you. I want to take care of you. I’ve wanted it for so long, and I want it now, and if you’d let me, I’d do it for the rest of my—”
“Stop.” Wooyoung’s voice shakes, and then it crumbles. His next exhale is a sob, the words tripping over themselves on their way out of his mouth: “Rain, rain, stop.”
San’s too stunned by the safeword that he can’t stop Wooyoung from suddenly twisting out of his arms and pitching himself to the far side of the bed, his breaths coming in short, wet gasps, his hands wiping furiously at his face.
He’s crying. The realization is muted. San feels like he’s watching it unfold from behind warped glass: he made Wooyoung cry, he made Wooyoung use the safeword—
“I’m sorry,” Wooyoung gasps out. “I’m sorry, I don’t— I’m—” God, he’s shaking, and there’s a voice in San’s mind shouting for him to fix it, fix this, you fucking idiot, make him stop crying, but his tongue is just heavy and useless like it always is, and his hands don’t know what to do when Wooyoung cries.
“Don’t leave,” Wooyoung hiccups. “Don’t leave, m’sorry, I just need a second—”
“Wooyoung,” San says, feeling so fucking faraway, dizzy with the idea of Wooyoung thinking he’d leave, “I’m not leaving, I won’t. I’m right here, I swear. I’m so fucking sorry, I shouldn’t have— Can- Can I touch you? Wooyoung?”
Wooyoung makes a sound like he’s trying to speak but has to choke something back halfway through, his frame racking stiffly with it, but San sees him nodding and that’s all he needs to finally push forward and wrap his arms around him.
There’s no other way to put it except that Wooyoung crumbles against him, like a sandcastle built softer than he ever thought, and he’s shaking so hard in San’s arms that San’s worried he’ll really slip through his fingers any second and wash back out to sea.
“Young-ah,” he pleads quietly, “can you focus on my voice? Can you do that for me? We’re going to breathe together.” He waits for Wooyoung’s quick, shaky nod against him. “Good, thank you, Youngie. In, one, two.”
Wooyoung shudders on an inhale, hands grasping for the front of his shirt.
“Out, three, four.”
“Why?” The question rushes out on Wooyoung’s exhale. “Why? Why do you do that, why are you so— so good? To me? I— I don’t—”
“Wooyoung-ah.” This is how heartbreak has to feel, San thinks. Or maybe it isn’t. Break doesn’t seem like the word for it, for this unfathomable, unbearable splinter in his chest. “Wooyoung-ah, please— please look at me?”
Wooyoung is still crying, but he lets San tilt his cheek up. It’s wet, his eyebrows furrowed and bottom lip bitten so tightly that it looks painful, and San just does his best to swipe away what tears he can catch.
“It’s okay,” San tells him, fighting to keep the trembling out of his own voice. He thinks he wants to cry too, that Wooyoung’s first instinct to receiving goodness is to ask why, and that Wooyoung seems more ready to choke himself on swallowing down his tears than let San hear them. San squeezes him, trying to tell him weakly, “It’s okay to cry, Youngie. You don’t have to hold it in.”
Wooyoung squeezes his eyes shut, but it’s like his body is beginning to give out too, exhaling with a shudder as a fresh wave of tears slip out of his eyes. “I just don’t get it,” he rasps. “You’re so good to me. Even before, you were always— I d- don’t understand.”
San brings his other hand up to the other side of his cheek, tracing gently over the freckle there and trying to ignore how he’s shaking too. “Because you’re someone who deserves good things,” he whispers. “Not just from me. I wish I could make you believe that, that you deserve to be taken care of, and you deserve love. You deserve so much love.”
He feels Wooyoung struggling to suck in another breath. Then, barely perceptible, Wooyoung shakes his head.
“Wooyoung-ah.” Despite his best efforts, his voice breaks. The words that have been beating at the beehive of his throat finally win out, and he’s not sure if there’s anything else he can say except this: “I wanted to do this right, or— or say it at a better time, because you don’t deserve anything less, but I can’t just let you keep thinking that I don’t or can’t feel these things for you when it’s always been— It’s always been like this, Wooyoung, and I’m a fucking idiot for letting you go so long without knowing that I l—”
Wooyoung whimpers, and there’s suddenly a hand over San’s mouth and his vision is filling with Wooyoung’s brown, brown eyes.
“Don’t,” Wooyoung pleads. He looks scared. “Don’t, Sannie.”
His grip isn’t firm enough to really stop San from speaking—less a demand, more a plea, but it’s compelling enough.
San takes in a breath. The vice squeezes tighter. San lets the breath out, and then he continues to breathe around it just like that, just like the way he’s come to learn.
“Not now,” Wooyoung whispers. “Do it like you said. At a better time.”
San reaches for his wrist gently and presses a light kiss to his fingertips. “When I say it doesn’t really matter,” he says, a little helplessly. “It’s going to be true, no matter when.”
“Then it can be true now.” Wooyoung’s voice wobbles, like he can’t believe he’s saying it. “And it can be true when you say it too, but...just say it when it’s better. When we’re both better. I don’t want you to remember it like this.”
How does San tell him that that doesn’t matter, either? That he’d love Wooyoung at his best and only harder at his worst, with his hands on his or his hands around his throat?
But he thinks he understands. He thinks that whatever voice that’s been in Wooyoung’s head, the one that’s convinced him to think all of these things about himself, wouldn’t let Wooyoung believe him if there was even the slightest room for him to convince himself that San would only say it to fix him.
“All right. When we’re both better,” he says then, thumbing away the slower streaks of tears running down Wooyoung’s cheeks. It takes a lot to relent— God knows that he’s gone too long without saying it already, that it might be the longest song he’s ever held in his throat, but he wants Wooyoung to hear it when there’s only his voice and his voice alone too. He understands. He does. He forces himself to exhale, leaning down to press a kiss to Wooyoung’s forehead. “As long as you know.”
“I do now.” Wooyoung trails his hand down, down. He rests it over San’s chest. He says San’s name, like he’s calling him, like San isn’t already looking. “As long as you know it too.”
It takes a moment, and only because San was never expecting anything in return. When he recognizes the softness on Wooyoung’s face, he goes still, gaze flickering uncertainly from Wooyoung’s mouth, where the words came, to Wooyoung eyes, where the truth sits.
“Now you look like you’re the one who doesn’t believe me,” Wooyoung says quietly.
“I do,” San promises. “I just… You make me feel so lucky. You should know that. I’m so lucky that I have you.”
“It wasn't luck, Sannie. I chose you myself.”
“Then I’m lucky for that,” San insists.
Wooyoung looks up at him. Slowly, like he’s giving San a chance to move away, he kisses him.
San doesn’t. It tastes faintly of salt and it doesn’t last long before Wooyoung pulls away to sniffle, but they try again after that, and that time he gets a little smile out of Wooyoung when he’s the one who has to pull back to wipe his nose.
Wooyoung tugs on his shirt in a quiet request to get him back down into the pillows, and San goes. He’s not sure who pulls the covers over them both but he doesn’t complain, taking the opportunity to slot his leg over Wooyoung’s again. Wooyoung lets him, and he lets him rest his head on his chest too, lets him splay a hand over Wooyoung’s stomach and rub him gently through his sweater. Eventually, Wooyoung’s hand comes down on his hair, stroking through it in half-time to some song only they can hear.
“I just don’t think I’m good at it,” Wooyoung says, tentatively. It sounds like a confession.
San tilts his head up to look at him, silently waiting for him to continue.
“Letting you…” Wooyoung seems to struggle with saying it. “Letting anyone take care of me. I feel like I’m so difficult for so many stupid reasons.”
“You are a little stubborn when I try to do things for you,” San smooths a kiss into his chest, “but I get why it can be hard. Nothing you do is stupid, baby.”
He thinks of Wooyoung, five years younger, standing in the limelights of those parties but looking so far away; Wooyoung, soaked and shivering in his car after San had to yank him off the streets during a storm; Wooyoung, even younger, biting his lip so hard to stop himself from making a sound that his lip was bleeding by the time San finally found him in the bathroom, lost and alone in a swarm of colors.
“Sometimes,” Wooyoung says faintly, “I feel like I really need to be held down for it. I don’t know how else to take it. I feel like I’ll just push it away.”
“I’m okay if you push,” San says, “as long as you’re okay with me pushing back.”
“I’m okay with that.” Wooyoung nibbles on his bottom lip. “It’s just. It’s a lot sometimes. Overwhelming.”
“I get that too,” San assures him softly. “And I’m glad you told me to stop when you did earlier. You should still do that if I ever push too hard, okay?”
“Of course I will. But…” Wooyoung hesitates. “I want to be better about it, too. Wanna be able to do and say these things without breaking down because someone’s being too nice to me.” He chuckles, like he’s trying to laugh at himself. “I sound so fucked up.”
“It’s okay if you are. I like you however you are.” San just reaches over to squeeze his hip. “And I’ll be with you the whole way,” he promises. “There’s no rush, Youngie. Go as slow as you need.”
Wooyoung’s hand slows in his hair for a moment. A second later, he resumes his pace, and this time he smooths it down all the way to San’s shoulderblades before starting the cycle over. “We could start with breakfast?” he says furtively.
San presses his lips together. “Yeah?”
“You’re not gonna like what I’m about to say next, though.”
With a small rustle, San perches his chin on Wooyoung’s chest again to look at him. “Try me.”
Wooyoung blinks at him. “We need to go out for groceries.”
“Oh. Yep.” San tilts his cheek back down onto Wooyoung’s tummy. “I hate it.”
“You’re such a baby,” Wooyoung says, sounding like he’s smiling—hesitantly, maybe, but smiling nonetheless. “You can’t make me breakfast, lunch, or dinner if all you have in your fridge is alcohol, you know.”
“Not with that attitude,” San says. “I could make you one of those fancy fish plates they marinate in wine.”
“Babe, we’d need fish for that, or you’d just be pouring me alcohol.”
San looks up again, curious. “You called me babe.”
Wooyoung’s mouth falls a little open. He shuts it. “You implied you were going to feed me wine in a bowl.”
“Those things don’t correlate.” San crawls his way back up over him after all, tangling the sheets hopelessly in his wake. He doesn’t care. He settles above Wooyoung, looking down at his pretty eyes. “Say it again.”
“Babe?” Wooyoung says, raising an eyebrow. “Baby.” The only pinch between his brows now is from him apparently trying to hold back a giggle, the way San likes it. His eyes are still faintly red-rimmed, but they’re crinkling from how hard he’s trying not to make another sound, and little by little San thinks he can smooth out that rasp in his voice. Make him smile again, make him happy.
“Baby,” San coos back, leaning down to nuzzle his neck. “Okay, we’ll go grocery shopping.”
“Oh. That’s been the key this whole time?” Wooyoung sounds arch about it until San blows a raspberry into his shoulder, and then he’s giggling in earnest, legs kicking out harmlessly in the sheets. “We’re gonna get distracted if you stay there, you know that, right? Didn’t you say you wanted to shower together too?”
“I wanted a lot of other things,” San says, just in case he forgot. There’s still so much time left in the day, and he wasn’t ambitious enough with his list; he’s going to have to think of more things for them to do.
And if Wooyoung doesn’t want them today, he can save them for the day Wooyoung finally feels like he can have them. They’re in no rush.
“Right, the other things.” Wooyoung pats him on the shoulders, until San pulls back to see him smiling, eyes bright. “Come on, then. You can remind me on the way.”