[jongkey] beyond benefits
Jonghyun/Key BFFery, PG-13, humor
summary: Jonghyun and Kibum are the last to know that they're exclusively dating.
Kibum notices that something is amiss when Taemin takes to staring intently at him whenever he walks into a room.
“He’s doing it again,” Kibum hisses in Jonghyun’s ear as the two of them start doing their pre-practice stretches.
“Who’s doing what again?” Jonghyun asks, loud enough for Taemin to hear, and Kibum promptly smacks him on the shoulder. “Ow!”
“Shut up, he’ll hear you.” Kibum waits until Jonghyun is sitting on the floor, legs stretched and reaching for his toes, before sneaking another glance at Taemin. When their eyes meet, Taemin quickly looks away. Kibum frowns as he places his palms flat against Jonghyun’s back and pushes. “I meant Taemin, you moron. He keeps staring at me without saying anything when I catch him looking, and it’s just weird.”
Jonghyun looks up at Kibum and then at Taemin, who has sidled up to Minho and is talking animatedly. “Are you sure? I’ve never seen him doing that.”
“How can you not? You’re with me half the time he does it!” Kibum pushes him a little too hard, and Jonghyun whines in protest as he feels the burn in his leg muscles. “It’s seriously starting to creep me out.”
“You know, there is this thing called confrontation, and I heard it works wonders for cases like these,” Jonghyun says sourly, scrambling up before Kibum could do any lasting damage. “Maybe he’s planning on confessing his feelings for you. I knew you’d been laying on that umma stuff a little too thick. Poor kid must’ve thought you were sending him mixed signals.”
“Bad joke, Jjong,” Kibum scoffs, unimpressed. “Your logic is so warped—” His eyes go wide and he grips Jonghyun’s wrist like a vice, muttering, “Oh great, now Minho’s doing it too. Quick, pretend you didn’t see anything.”
Jonghyun is about to tell Kibum that he is being completely ridiculous, but then he sees Minho at the corner of his eye, taking a swig from a water bottle and watching them in what he obviously thinks is a surreptitious way. “Uh. Okay, okay, I believe you now. Let go before you break my wrist, geez.”
“See?” Kibum says frantically, his grip tightening. “They must be plotting something against me because I tricked them into doing all my chores last week. How dare they, when I’ve covered for them countless times whenever they had shit to cram for school. Those conniving little ingrates.”
Jonghyun sighs with the weary air of one who is used to putting up with Kibum’s neurotic tendencies. “Kibum. Chill. Taemin is not a conniving little ingrate. He loves you to death and you adore him just as much and later you shall beat yourself with a stick for saying such a horrible thing about him. He and Minho are not hatching some evil plan against you, okay. They are eternally grateful for your benevolence and undisputable prowess at accomplishing domestic duties,” he reassures, rolling his eyes. “So this is what you do. You will not obsess over this for the next three hours. You will talk to Taemin after practice. And you will let go of me right now. Seriously, it fucking hurts.”
Kibum drops Jonghyun’s wrist, not looking apologetic at all. “God, I hate it when you sound smart. It makes me wonder if you really are gaining more IQ points or if I’m just getting dumber.”
Jonghyun mutters something about being underappreciated for his efforts to dispense sage advice and how it just isn’t worth the trouble and abuse putting up with a male best friend who has perpetual PMS anyway, but Jinki suddenly tells them to regroup and Kibum appears not to have heard him.
Kibum does not talk to Taemin after practice. He completely forgets about the weird stares and the conspiratorial whispering, and escapes with Jonghyun to a noraebang as soon as their manager proclaims that they are done with their activities for the day. When they get back to the dorm, the two of them squabble over who gets to use the bathroom first and shoot down Taemin’s innocent suggestion for them to just take a shower together and be done with it.
“You don’t know how dangerous that is, Taemin-ah. The last time we did, I almost cracked my head on the tiles because Kibum got all upset that I’d been using his girly vanilla-scented shampoo,” Jonghyun informs him, shooting a dirty look at Kibum.
“If you thought it was so girly then you shouldn’t have used it in the first place,” Kibum retorts. Neither notices the way Taemin’s eyes go wide as saucers.
“But I like vanilla,” Jonghyun sniffs, clearly still convinced that Kibum was the one at fault for bringing about a near-death experience. “Anyway, didn’t you have something to ask Taeminnie?” And he shoves Kibum unceremoniously onto the couch, making a beeline for the bathroom and ignoring the insults that Kibum shouts at his back.
“Do you really share the shower with Jonghyun-hyung sometimes?” Taemin asks him in a strange tone.
“Yeah, mostly during the winter because he always whines that I use up all the hot water before he gets his turn,” Kibum answers with a shrug. “But never mind that. What is up with all the staring?”
Taemin blinks in confusion. “Huh?”
Kibum raises an eyebrow. “You. Staring at me all the time. And don’t even think about denying it.”
“Oh,” Taemin says, his cheeks reddening. “I was just, um...” His gaze wanders to the closed bathroom door before returning to Kibum’s face. “…worried about you.”
It’s Kibum’s turn to look confused. “Why would you be?”
Taemin appears to be thinking hard for a moment, and then he flashes Kibum a bright smile. “Well, you know! You’ve been looking so tired these days. You’re always taking care of us and I just thought…at least, if you were happy despite all the stress…”
The only reason Kibum has been lacking sleep for a while is because he got roped into staying up with Jonghyun while everyone else is asleep so they can marathon all those romance dramas Jonghyun secretly loves to watch. Kibum hadn’t wanted to join him at first, but after witnessing Jonghyun bawling his eyes out during one tear-jerking episode, he decided to stick around for the free entertainment. And blackmailing purposes. But he will not tell Taemin that out of loyalty to Jonghyun (at least, until Jonghyun pisses him off and gives him reason to divulge the information). “My son is so thoughtful!” he says instead, wrapping Taemin into an obligatory hug.
“No cameras rolling here, hyung,” Taemin reminds him with practiced patience, but hugs him back anyway. He quickly pulls away when Jonghyun steps out of the bathroom and glances over at them.
“Your turn,” Jonghyun tells Kibum, and vaguely wonders why Taemin suddenly looks like a deer caught in headlights. “Are you okay, Taemin?”
“I was just hugging him because he was tired!” Taemin blurts out. “I’m…going to work on my homework now.” And he scurries past Jonghyun and into the bedroom’s open doorway.
“Huh. What was that all about?” Jonghyun asks.
Jinki has his serious leader face on, and Kibum just knows that he is in trouble for something. He hopes Jinki isn’t here to accuse him of stashing all those contraband chocolate bars he and Jonghyun smuggled into the dorm the other day.
“Kibum-ah, I’ll have you know that I support you two completely, but please promise me that you will never, ever get caught, especially by the management,” Jinki says. “Wait. Not even by the cleaning lady. Let’s just keep this secret among the members, all right?”
Kibum sags in relief. He can’t believe that Jinki is going to let them get away with it just like that. Maybe he wants a certain percentage of the goods. Yes, that must be it. “Sure thing. But if you want some, you have to trade it for something else. I’ll settle for half the meat on your dinner,” he says with a grin.
Jinki frowns. “What?”
Kibum raises an eyebrow. “Well, aren’t you a greedy one. Fine, I am willing to negotiate if the situation calls for it. But just so you know, we risked our necks just to get our hands on those chocolate bars.”
“What chocolate bars?” Jinki appears genuinely baffled.
Kibum stares at Jinki like he is being stupid on purpose and it is not amusing in the slightest. “Hyung. You’re supposed to act like you don’t know anything only when non-members are around, remember?”
Jinki blinks. “Kibum, what on earth are you talking about? I meant your relationship with Jonghyun.”
“What about it?”
Jinki sighs, massaging his temples as if Kibum is deliberately trying to give him a migraine. “Your romantic relationship,” he clarifies.
“Oh,” Kibum says, nodding in assent, before it sinks in and— “Wait, what?”
Jonghyun doesn’t think twice when Taemin beams at him. He chalks it up to Taemin shooting his own diet to hell and putting too much sugar in his hot chocolate again, but then Minho walks past, the tiniest trace of a smile on his usually expressionless face, and Jonghyun starts wondering why they are both so damn happy today. Minho even gives Jonghyun an unexpected hug. He doesn’t know what the hell is going on but he laps up the attention anyway, in a significantly more pleasant mood than is usual for him at ungodly hours of the morning.
He enters the deserted kitchen and settles down for an excellent breakfast. Normally the five of them eat together, but as of late he and Kibum are always sleeping in because of their late-night drama marathons, and end up eating breakfast later than the others. As if on cue, Kibum plops down on the seat beside him and picks up his chopsticks. “I just had this really fucked up conversation with Jinki-hyung,” Kibum tells him.
“Really? Sucks for you. Taeminnie and Minho are being extra nice to me today. I suppose it’s because I’m such a cool hyung, they just can’t help but express their overwhelming affection for me,” Jonghyun gloats.
Kibum just stares at him. “Taemin and Minho are…oh great. Just. Ugh.” He closes his eyes and lays his head on the tabletop, suddenly looking very tired.
Jonghyun pokes him on the shoulder with a chopstick, simultaneously grabbing his mug of now-cold coffee with his other hand. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Kibum opens his eyes. “Jonghyun, why are you such an idiot. I swear to god, I don’t deserve this.”
“Okay, I’ll bite. So what’s not good enough for the Almighty Key today?” Jonghyun rolls his eyes at Kibum’s early-morning dramatics and lifts the mug to his lips.
Kibum shoots him a withering glare. “Our friendship, according to Jinki-hyung. Apparently the two of us are madly in love with each other.” Jonghyun spits out most of his morning coffee and spends a good minute coughing and hacking the rest of it back up his windpipe.
“Oh yeah, Jjong, that’s really attractive,” Kibum scoffs, surveying the brown mess on the table with mild distaste. “You had better clean that up, or else. Oh, ew, you got it all over my food.”
Jonghyun personally thinks that spilled coffee and a ruined breakfast are the least of their worries. “Wait, what the fuck. Are you even going to explain to me what you just said?”
“Must I?” Kibum shudders. “Do you know how demeaning this is for me? I mean, I do have standards.”
“Gee, thanks,” Jonghyun says, feeling highly offended. “I am so cooler and more awesome than you. I should be the one mortified that people could even assume that we—that we’re in—” He stops, unable to bring himself to say it. “And this is probably all your fault. If you weren’t so proficient at girl group choreography—”
“You’re one to talk, when you cry so embarrassingly you put all girls to shame—”
“It’s called being completely honest about my feelings,” Jonghyun says defensively.
Kibum flips his fringe out of his eyes in irritation. “Well, if I were you, I would take my completely honest feelings about this stupid misunderstanding and shove it in Jinki-hyung’s face, and then threaten him to straighten this out before I act on the urge to disembowel him with a salad fork.”
Jonghyun cringes, inwardly feeling sorry for Jinki. Kibum stares at him expectantly.
“What are you waiting for? Go!”
Jinki is brushing his teeth in the bathroom when Jonghyun stalks up to him. “Hwai, Jpfnghyumph,” Jinki greets him, managing to smile around the toothbrush poking from between his lips. Jonghyun waits until he has rinsed out his mouth before saying anything.
“Hyung. Kibum and I are not in a relationship,” he says, straight to the point.
Jinki nods solemnly. “That’s what Kibum kept shouting in my ear a few minutes ago, actually,” he responds as he puts away his toothbrush.
Jonghyun lights up. “Great! So I don’t need to tell you just how ridiculous it is that you actually thought—”
“Jonghyun,” Jinki interrupts him with an encouraging smile. “It’s okay. You don’t have to hide it! I accept you. Taemin accepts you, and Minho does too. Don’t stress over it so much. This doesn’t change how we feel about the two of you.”
“But we aren’t—”
“And tell Kibum he doesn’t have to put up an act anymore either.”
“No, don’t worry about it. Really!”
“We’re behind you one hundred percent!”
Jonghyun resists the urge to sob tears of exasperation onto Jinki’s shoulder.
“I am not dating Kibum, okay,” Jonghyun tells Minho, his voice tinged with hysteria.
Minho just blinks back at him, and Jonghyun interprets this as his ‘sure, hyung, whatever you say’ look, which is also the look that he reserves for little kids on variety shows when he is humoring the nonsensical things they are saying.
“Minho! Don’t give me that look. I am your hyung! Respect me!” Jonghyun shakes him by the shoulders. “Are we clear on this? Kibum is my best friend, and I don’t have any romantic feelings for him because that is just gross. I mean, not because we’re both guys, but because he’s my best friend, and—do you understand what I’m saying?”
Minho nods, clearly indulging him. Jonghyun throws his hands up in defeat and storms off to harass Taemin instead.
“You’re not in love with Kibum-hyung,” Taemin repeats, his expression carefully neutral.
“Yes,” Jonghyun says, relieved that he is getting through to someone today. Taemin isn’t as cheerfully oblivious as Jinki or as much of a hopeless romantic as Minho. Surely Taemin will believe him.
Taemin’s moon-shaped eyes suddenly narrow into slits, his lips thinning into an unflattering line. “Hyung, how could you, when Kibum-hyung loves you so much?”
Jonghyun is rendered speechless for the first time in his life. It probably has something to do with the way Taemin is glaring at him like he is the scum of the earth, and he is overcome with the irrational impulse to plead forgiveness for all of his nonexistent sins. He makes a mental note to never, ever anger Taemin, because it is scary as fuck. “I, uh, I’m…I’m sorry?”
Taemin’s gaze is ruthless and cold. “If you hurt him, hyung, I will never forgive you.”
“O-okay,” Jonghyun squeaks. Taemin’s eerily disturbing resemblance to Kibum in one of his fouler moods is striking. Whatever happened to the adorable child who had looked up to him so much in the past? Kibum is such a horrible influence.
“You are such a horrible influence,” Jonghyun says to Kibum. They are hiding out at the rooftop of their apartment building, and he cringes when he thinks about the sort of speculations the other members are no doubt formulating with regards to their mysterious disappearance. “I am going to tell Jinki-hyung to put a restraining order on you so can never pass on your malevolent tendencies to Taemin ever again.”
“Genius,” Kibum says dryly. “And then Jinki-hyung will probably interpret that as you being jealous of Taemin or some other shit like that, and then we’ll be worse off than we are now.”
Jonghyun pales at the thought. “Nobody believes us,” he whines. “I don’t know why they’re so hell-bent on insisting that we’re together.”
Kibum sighs. “Maybe we should just pretend to break up or something.” He pauses, then exchanges a long, wide-eyed look with Jonghyun. “I get to dump you,” he says before Jonghyun even opens his mouth.
“No fair!” Jonghyun cries. “I’m older than you!”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Kibum scoffs.
Jonghyun tries another tack. “It’s more believable if I’m the one who ends it. Besides, Taemin thinks you’re head over heels for me and—”
“Do not finish that sentence,” Kibum says, appalled. “Fine. Whoever gets back to the dorm first can be the—Jjong, get back here, you cheater!”
Jonghyun gets to the front door first. Kibum complains that that is totally unfair, on account of how Jonghyun kicked him in the shin halfway down the corridor, and Jonghyun argues that he only did it because Kibum was pulling viciously at his hair. Then Jonghyun has the sense to point out that whoever gets into the dorm first wins, and manages to wrench the door open and literally fall into the doorway—first—with Kibum landing painfully on top of him in a tangle of flailing limbs right at Jinki’s feet.
Taemin and Minho are quick to run into the entryway to investigate, and before Jonghyun can vehemently proclaim that the situation is not what it looks like, Kibum bursts into tears. Even Jonghyun registers a look of shock as Jinki drags Kibum up and off him.
“K-kibum?” Jinki looks positively terrified when Kibum clings to him and sobs into his neck. “What happened?” He directs the question at Jonghyun, whose face has gone a few shades whiter.
“I—he,” Jonghyun stutters helpfully, and then catches the exasperated glare that Kibum throws at him from under his bangs. Oh.
“Hyung, J-jjong says he wants to break up with me,” Kibum gasps between sniffles. Three pairs of eyes turn to glower at Jonghyun, who throws up his hands defensively.
“Um. It wasn’t working out,” he explains, trying to sound as regretful as he can muster while racking his brains for something more convincing to say. “I mean. I think we’re better off as friends.”
Kibum snorts but expertly covers it up with a hiccup.
“Kibum, I’m sorry,” Jonghyun says, awkwardly reaching up to grip Kibum’s shoulder. Kibum jerks away from his touch and Jonghyun almost forgets himself, in utter awe of Kibum’s acting skills.
Jinki bites his lip, at a loss as to how to deal with the situation. “Taemin, could you…?”
Taemin immediately rushes forward and pries Kibum off of Jinki, giving Jonghyun a glare so fierce he suddenly wishes he had agreed to be the dumpee instead.
Jonghyun arranges an appropriately repentant expression on his face, but it takes only seconds for him to quail under the weight of Taemin’s stare. He feels infinitely relieved when Taemin and Minho steer Kibum into the bedroom, the door swinging shut with a reverberating slam.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Jinki finally asks after an uncomfortable silence.
Jonghyun, for lack of anything better to do, nods and follows Jinki into the kitchen, deciding to just wing it.
In the next few days, Jonghyun feels horribly shortchanged as everyone’s sympathy is directed at Kibum, the apparent victim of their fake breakup. Jonghyun is fed up with having to deal with Jinki’s blatant disappointment, Minho’s stony stares and Taemin’s severe bout of the cold shoulder.
Kibum finds the whole thing hilarious and has perfected the art of tearing up at will whenever Jonghyun gets within a five foot radius of him. The immediate effects of this include Jinki panicking and Taemin flocking to Kibum’s side like an overzealous mother hen. The irony is not lost on Jonghyun, and he is suspicious that Kibum is having too much fun being the center of all the other members’ attention and intends to milk the drama for all it is worth.
He manages to corner Kibum when Taemin and Minho are at school and Jinki is busy talking to their manager on the phone.
“This has got to stop,” Jonghyun says.
“Aw, do you miss me that much?” Kibum coos, fluttering his lashes mockingly.
Jonghyun glowers at him. “You try being on the receiving end of one of Taemin’s death glares, and then we’ll see how long you’ll last. I think he’s channeling all the resentment he’s banned from showing on TV onto me.”
Kibum flashes him a devilish grin. “Oh, that. Taemin knows exactly what’s going on now. He just decided that this was as good a time as any to practice his acting skills. I’ll make sure to tell him that you thought he was pretty convincing.”
Jonghyun’s jaw drops. “You mean I’ve been fearing for my life for the past three days for nothing?” He stares resentfully at Kibum, who is rude enough to dissolve into peals of laughter at his expense, and he feels a tic start to twitch near his right eyebrow. “Kibum, shut up or I swear to god I will, uh…” He struggles to come up with a threat horrible enough to encompass the gravity of Kibum’s crime.
“…disembowel me with a salad fork?” Kibum says with a smirk.
“No. If you do not promise me that you will fix this mess, I will kiss you.” Jonghyun smirks triumphantly back at him.
Kibum looks on in horror. “You wouldn’t,” he says.
“Oh yes I would,” Jonghyun tells him seriously, and proceeds to launch himself at Kibum with a vengeance. Kibum screams, realizing too late that this is a bad idea because Jonghyun chooses that moment to smash their mouths together in a violent not-quite kiss.
They last three seconds before giving each other a mutual shove.
“God, Jjong. Ever heard of breath mints?” Kibum asks with supreme disdain.
“Excuse me if I wasn’t overly prepared to impress you,” Jonghyun retorts sarcastically.
Kibum makes a face and spits to the side, wiping his mouth indelicately with the back of his hand. Jonghyun, for his part, is being no less insulting as he attempts to scrape off his taste buds on his sleeve.
“Ptht—pthh—remind me to never, ever do that again. Ever,” Jonghyun says fervently.
“I wasn’t the idiot who initiated it.”
“Oh, shut up already.”
Kibum grabs him by the scruff of his neck and tugs his head back. “Stop that this instant. It’s undignified and disgusting.”
Jonghyun sticks his now dry tongue out at Kibum. “Can we go back to normal now?”
“Stupid,” Kibum responds affectionately. “When were we ever weird with each other?”
Jonghyun grins and slings an arm around him.
It’s been a week since they cleared up the issue with the other members, and they’re sitting on the couch with Kibum’s head nestled on Jonghyun’s shoulder, sharing Jonghyun’s iPod between them while waiting for their manager to pick them up for work.
Jonghyun hits the pause button and glances down at Kibum. “What if you really fell in love with me?”
Kibum lifts his head and regards Jonghyun for a moment, then does that thing where he rolls his eyes in the supremely condescending way that only he can pull off, mouth partly open in a half amused, half exasperated exhale. “Please. You would fall in love with me first.”
There is a short pause, and Jonghyun coughs. “Um. Actually, I have something really important to tell you,” he says uncertainly, ducking his head. Kibum jerks back and gapes at him until he finally looks up with earnest eyes, and the look on Kibum’s face is terrified and confused. “Kibum, I…”
And then Jonghyun bursts out laughing. The horrified expression quickly wipes itself off of Kibum’s face and is promptly replaced with one of murderous intent. “Kim Jonghyun, you are a fucking douchebag.”
Jonghyun drapes himself across Kibum’s lap, shaking with uncontrollable laughter. “The look on your face,” he gasps between guffaws. “Oh god. Oh, I can’t breathe…”
Kibum shoves Jonghyun off his lap just as Jinki, Minho and Taemin walk out of the bedroom. Their gazes are immediately drawn to Jonghyun, who is now rolling on the floor, still convulsing in a fit of giggles.
“What did you do to him?” Taemin asks, crouching down and poking Jonghyun in the side.
Kibum glares down at Jonghyun and then kicks him for good measure. “Nothing,” he says darkly, ignoring Jinki’s aghast stare. “Can we just leave him here and go already?”
Minho sighs and hauls Jonghyun up by the armpits. “Hyung, come on.” Jonghyun lets Minho drag him into a standing position, smiling winningly at Kibum before ducking behind Jinki to avoid further injury.
“Kibum!” Jinki reproaches, keeping him at arm’s length. Kibum manages to take a swipe at Jonghyun’s ear before falling back and pulling Taemin to himself with an indignant sniffle.
“I hate you. Taemin’s my new best friend now,” he declares. Taemin just smiles and gently pries Kibum’s arms off.
Jonghyun stops laughing. “Okay, I’m sorry. I promise never to do it again,” he says in a placating tone, stepping forward and messing up Kibum’s hair. Kibum scowls deeply at him before grudgingly reaching up to tug the offending hand out of his hair, letting their linked hands fall back to their sides.
Jinki observes their intertwined fingers with great interest. “Are you guys sure you aren’t—”
“Of course not, hyung,” they say in perfect sync, twin eye rolls directed at their hopeless leader, and leave no further room for argument by flouncing away with an air of deliberate haughtiness.