“I have a secret to tell you,” Dongmin said.
He stood in the doorway of the training room, expression very serious.
Bin, who’d been sitting in the middle of the floor stretching out with Minhyuk, looked up.
Minhyuk looked between Bin and Dongmin and promptly popped to his feet and hurried out of the practice room with a quick nod to Dongmin.
At school, Dongmin was his sunbae, but at the company, Dongmin was his hoobae, and the transition could be...awkward.
But then Minhyuk was gone and the door was closed and it was just Dongmin and Bin.
Bin would have been the first to admit that he’d been used to being the chief visual of the trainees before Dongmin showed up, and then Dongmin had arrived, and at least Bin was still a better dancer and singer, but they were the same age and classmates and the trainee manager had asked Bin to help Dongmin catch up, but -
But it had been Bin and Minhyuk against the world for so long, and it was still the two of them against the world, because that was easier, safer, and Dongmin was dangerous.
Bin said, “If you wanted to keep it a secret, maybe you shouldn’t have mentioned it in front of Minhyuk.”
“Minhyuk’s gone now,” Dongmin said. “So I’ll tell you, and I’ll go.”
He looked tense, but then after training he always looked tense, because the instructors always yelled at him for being too slow, too stiff, too awkward, in the wrong place, looking in the wrong direction.
Bin sat up straighter. He said, “I promise not to tell your secret.” Even if he and Dongmin weren’t friends, he wasn’t out to make the other boy’s life extra stressful.
Dongmin nodded and swallowed hard. He said, “I like you.”
Bin blinked. “Oh. Well. I - I don’t dislike you. Did you want to be friends? Since we’re the same age.”
A bright blush stained Dongmin’s cheeks. He cleared his throat. “I like you.”
It was Bin’s turn to blush. “O-oh.”
Dongmin bowed. “I’ll be going now, sunbae.” He headed for the door.
Bin leapt to his feet. “Wait. You can’t just say that and leave.”
Dongmin paused with his hand on the door handle. “I told you my secret. You promised to keep it. What more is there to say? Since you don’t like me back.”
Bin said, “I don’t dislike you.”
Dongmin blinked at him. “You already said that.”
Bin said, “Do you want to kiss me?”
“Of course I do.” Dongmin had a sour twist to his mouth. “Now you’re just making fun of me.” He wrenched the door open.
Bin pushed it closed. “I’m not. I’ll let you kiss me,” he said.
“Just once?” Dongmin laughed, the sound brittle and bitter. “No thanks.”
Bin looked at Dongmin, really looked at him, and saw how tired and stressed out he really was. He reached out, but Dongmin flinched away.
Bin said, “It doesn’t have to be just once.”
“You don’t like me, you just don’t dislike me, so why would you kiss me?” Dongmin crossed his arms over his chest.
“Maybe I have a secret too,” Bin said. “Maybe I’ve been jealous of you and how handsome you are. Maybe I just don’t want to admit how much I like you too.”
Dongmin studied him for a long time. Then he leaned in and closed his eyes.
Bin leaned in and closed his eyes too.
As far as first kisses went, it was a little clumsy. Their noses bumped, and their teeth scraped, but then they reached for each other, steadied each other, and it was like the stars had aligned, warmth and light unfurling between them.
When they parted, Dongmin murmured, “So I like you, and you like me, and now what?”
“Now we have a secret together,” Bin said, “and you can kiss me whenever you want.”
Dongmin smiled. “Whenever I want?”
Bin nodded and smiled back, and Dongmin leaned in to kiss him again.
Fifteen minutes later, breathless and giddy, they pulled open the door and went to fetch their book bags.
Minhyuk, Sanha, Myungjun, and Jinwoo were standing at the door, staring at them.
Minhyuk held out one hand.
Sanha, Myungjun, and Jinwoo handed him money.
“...the hell?” Bin asked.
Minhyuk said, “You have a kiss-bruise on your collarbone. Better cover that up before school tomorrow.” He winked, pocketed the money, and skipped up the stairs.