When Bin came out of the shower, the bedroom was empty. For a couple of moments, he was tempted to fling himself onto Jinwoo’s bed (but not with the wet towel, never the wet towel, because then Jinwoo would know) and let himself dry off under the fan, but he resisted. Instead he finished drying off his hair, and he dutifully put the used towel into the laundry hamper, and he padded out into the den.
Where Dongmin was sitting on the couch, poring over paperwork again. Was he studying? Was he reviewing proposals for another show? Sanha and Myungjun would be doing a variety show, just the two of them, later this year, and Jinwoo and Myungjun would be doing that traveling show. Minhyuk hadn’t managed to pick up any solo work, but he was working hard on songwriting and was also doing a lot helping their sister group with some choreography, so even though they were finished with their comeback and tour, they would all be quite busy.
And Bin would be busy, too. He was excited.
Bin sank down on the couch beside Dongmin and watched him work. The purse of his lips and the little crease between his brows while he studied, the way he nibbled on the end of his pen — studious Dongmin was downright adorable. There was a reason girls from other classes would come by their classroom to just look at him between classes when they were still in school. Because he’d study on breaks. Bin would always head down to the cafeteria to get snacks for them, because he’d been admittedly less studious. Maintaining good grades as a trainee was difficult, but Dongmin had always done his best, even when they showed up to school sleep-deprived and tired from early-morning dance training.
Bin tilted his head, studied the curve of Dongmin’s jaw and the line of his throat, the way he’d curl his fingers at his collar absently while he read.
Bin smiled to himself. Yes, Dongmin was beautiful. The airbrushed and carefully styled version of Dongmin who the fans saw — Cha Eunwoo — was something to behold, no lies. But this version of Dongmin, golden-skinned and blushing a little, comfy in a hoodie and worn jeans, nose scrunched up as he read something that was a little complex, was worlds beyond anything the fans ever saw. Bin had been seeing this Dongmin since they were teens.
This Dongmin had sat patiently beside him in the trainee dorms and in the classroom and spoken to him softly about algebra and trigonometry and calculus and musical theory and literature and history.
This Dongmin had been one of Bin’s best friends for years now. Yes, Bin had a special relationship with Chanwoo, who he’d known since he was a very young child, and with Minhyuk, who had been his comrade-in-arms since he was at the beginning of his training. But Dongmin had been his same-age friend, the two of them against the world, thrust into the spotlight in a way the others hadn’t been once they’d been selected for the iTeen program. The pretty ones, he’d heard people say in sneering tones. But also the ones in the middle, age-wise. Dongmin was the face of the group. Bin was the center. They had pressure on them in ways the others didn’t.
Dongmin started violently and almost dropped his notebook.
Bin reached out, caught it. “Hey.”
“You scared me!”
“You’re such a scaredy-cat,” Bin said, but he kept his tone gentle, handed the notebook back.
“How long have you been sitting there?” Dongmin asked, one hand pressed to his chest.
Bin knew if he pressed his hand there too, he’d feel Dongmin’s heart racing.
“An hour,” Bin said.
Dongmin shoved at Bin with his foot, a gesture he’d learned from Myungjun. “Yah, don’t lie.”
“A few minutes,” Bin said.
Dongmin eyed him. “You’ve been hanging around with Minhyuk for too long. That’s exactly something Minhyuk would have done.”
“I wasn’t trying to scare you. You were just concentrating really hard.” Bin wasn’t about to tell Dongmin that he had enjoyed just watching his friend for a moment, seeing Dongmin in his element. “What are you even doing?”
“Working on some English,” Dongmin said.
“You’re the best of us at English.”
“There’s always room for improvement,” Dongmin said. “And I’m looking at a proposal for a new drama.”
Bin nodded. He was already signed up for a new drama. He’d mentioned it to the others, and they knew the broad strokes, were excited for him, but they didn’t know the details.
Dongmin nodded. Then he blinked. “Your hair! It’s not pink anymore!”
Bin laughed. “You finally noticed?”
Dongmin reached out, carded his fingers through Bin’s hair, and Bin couldn’t help it — he leaned into the caress. He was probably acting like Roa, but he didn’t care, because Dongmin’s hand was gentle and warm.
“You’re probably relieved,” Dongmin said.
“I’ve missed your dark hair, but you actually looked really cute with the pink hair.”
Bin blinked. “Oh?”
“Yeah. You look good with pale hair. I think — I think I’m too uptight for really wild hair, you know?” Dongmin sat back, hands in his lap, and Bin immediately missed his warmth.
“That’s not true at all. Remember when we were trainees and you did that modeling for Shara Shara? Even though it was a wig and didn’t quite look natural, the pink was a good color for you,” Bin said.
Dongmin tilted his head. “You think so?”
Bin nodded. “Yeah. I know your scalp is really sensitive, but you’d look great with really different colors. I know it’s not really your image, and with you constantly doing dramas you need natural-colored hair, but if you wanted to, you could pull it off.”
Dongmin blushed. “Thanks. Coming from you, who looks good with all the wild concepts, it means a lot.”
Bin sat back. “You know I wouldn’t say that insincerely to you.”
“But hey, I’m getting ready to film my drama, so, natural-colored hair it is.”
Dongmin sat up straighter. “Oh? So soon?”
Bin nodded. “I might need your help, though.”
“Really? But you’ve worked so hard in your acting classes.”
“Well, in some ways the character is a lot like me, but in other ways he’s not,” Bin said, and bit his lip. How brave was he feeling?
“How so?” Dongmin asked.
“Well, according to the script he’s good at basketball,” Bin said.
Dongmin nodded. “Ah, well, I can give you some pointers. Do you have to shoot an actual basketball scene?”
“Yeah. Classic high school moment.”
“I’ll help you,” Dongmin said.
“In the audition they wanted someone athletic. I’m good at soccer but not basketball. There is also a soccer scene, though,” Bin said.
Dongmin smiled. “You’ll do fine.”
“I hope so.”
“I’m sure they picked you because you’re the best fit for the character,” Dongmin said.
Bin said, “I am, but they just don’t know it.”
Dongmin raised his eyebrows.
“It’s a twist, and most of the rest of the cast doesn’t know, and they won’t know till it’s revealed later on the show,” Bin said. “But — my character is gay.”
Dongmin sat up straighter. “Oh?”
Bin said, “I’m gay.”
“Even if I don’t get to be gay in real life, at least I get to play a gay boy on TV, right?” Bin looked away. He felt proud of himself for saying it without his voice shaking, but his heart was racing.
Dongmin reached out and covered Bin’s hand with his. “Thank you for telling me and trusting me with this.”
Bin looked at him, swallowed hard. “Thank you for being nice about it.”
“Why wouldn’t I be nice? You’re one of my best friends, Binnie. And we all know Jinwoo-hyung is bi.”
“I think Jinwoo-hyung being bi is just kind of theoretical to everyone because he has a girlfriend,” Bin said.
Dongmin squeezed his hand. “Am I the first person you’ve told?”
Dongmin squeezed his hand again. “I won’t tell anyone till you’re comfortable with it.”
Bin nodded tightly. “Thanks.”
“Is there someone you like?” Dongmin asked. “If you want to talk to me about it, you can. I’ll listen. Heaven knows Sanha’s always telling us about girls he likes.”
Before Bin could help himself, he said, “You. The person I like is you.” He went to pull away, because surely Dongmin’s friendship and kindness only went so far, but Dongmin curled his hand around Bin’s wrist, his gaze solemn.
“Years,” Bin said. “I’m not exactly sure when it started. I’ve always liked you as a friend, but over time it became something more. But it doesn’t matter, because you don’t even like boys.”
He went to pull away again.
Dongmin said, “When have I ever said I don’t like boys?”
Dongmin pushed aside his notebook and stack of paperwork and tugged. Bin allowed himself to be drawn in closer, helpless under Dongmin’s endlessly dark gaze.
“For years,” Dongmin said quietly, “I’ve liked you too.”
“But there was that girl that you texted in high school,” Bin protested.
“Like Jinwoo-hyung, I like both, but the person I like is you.”
They sat face to face, gazing into each other’s eyes. Bin’s heart thumped so loud he was sure Dongmin could hear it.
Dongmin reached out, curled his other hand around the side of Bin’s neck.
“Moon Bin, will you kiss me?”
Bin’s pulse roared in his ears, but he nodded and leaned in, closed his eyes.
Their first kiss was soft and slow and sweet.
When they pulled back, Bin opened his eyes, and Dongmin was smiling at him, one of those beaming bright smiles where his eyes crinkled up and he looked so adorable.
“Kiss me again?” Bin asked, and Dongmin leaned in, and this time Bin pinned Dongmin to the sofa and climbed on top of him, nipping at his mouth and trying to work his hands under Dongmin’s hoodie.
Dongmin’s mouth was hot and wet and slick, and Bin moaned against his mouth when Dongmin slid his hands under Bin’s shirt.
The front door banged open.
“We have chicken and beer!” Myungjun sang out.
Sanha yelped. “Ah! My eyes!”
Jinwoo said, “So I think maybe Dongmin and I should switch rooms.”
Minhyuk said, “You all owe me fifty-thousand won.”
The front door slammed shut, and Bin and Dongmin hurriedly separated and straightened their clothes, breathing hard.
“Congratulations,” Myungjun said. “Chicken and beer?”
“Sure,” Bin said. “Sounds delicious.”
“You mean Dongmin is delicious,” Minhyuk said, and Sanha smacked him on the arm.
Dongmin was blushing furiously.
“What do you mean they all owe you money?” Bin asked.
Jinwoo cleared off the table so they all had room to eat. “We’re happy as long as you two are happy. Of course, we’ll have to tell management. But for now, let’s eat.”
Bin and Dongmin settled down at the table beside their teammates, and they dug into their meal. Bin glanced at Dongmin, and they shared a smile.
“I miss your pink hair,” Myungjun said to Bin.
“Me too,” Sanha said.
“I’m excited for your drama though,” Minhyuk said.
Jinwoo patted Bin on the shoulder. “You’ll do great.”
“He will,” Dongmin said. “I’ll help him.”
“With what?” Sanha asked.
“His basketball scene,” Dongmin said.
Myungjun laughed. “Yeah, he’s gonna need help.”
Bin offered a half-hearted protest, but he really didn’t care, because he had Dongmin in all the ways that mattered most.