pairing(s)→ exo-k/joonmyun, baekhyun x joonmyun.
summary→ EXO-K discovers there's only so much Joonmyun can take before he withdraws into himself.
# written as a fill for this prompt at exopromptmeme.
# this was written rather quickly, well, at least for me, so i'm not fully satisfied with it. but it was still pretty fun and i don't want to lose it, so it gets to stay here in all its amazing unpolished glory hahaha.
# not beta-ed, you've been warned! sorry for any mistakes or typos I missed.
They’re in the middle of a normal breakfast, Seunghwan hyung reading their schedule for the day, when it’s brought to Baekhyun’s attention that Joonmyun is acting weird. Jongin is half-asleep, his face dangerously close to the bowl of rice, and Sehun is snickering with Chanyeol while they take pictures of him with their phones. Baekhyun takes the chance to steal from Chanyeol’s portion of eggs, then turns his eyes to Joonmyun and Kyungsoo, who are the only ones actually listening to Seunghwan. Joonmyun’s mouth is wide open, holding his chopsticks with a piece of kimchi in front of it, eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he listens to Seunghwan, and it’s too funny to pass up. Baekhyun nudges Chanyeol beside him and nods his head towards Joonmyun, imitating the older boy’s expression with some exaggeration—just a tiny bit! Baekhyun would say if asked later, and both Chanyeol and Sehun catch on instantly, laughing loudly. Seunghwan pauses in his explanation to frown at them, but Joonmyun has already caught sight of Baekhyun’s face. He immediately shuts his mouth and puts down his chopsticks, smiling embarrassedly before he drags Seunghwan away, asking questions about the schedule.
“He didn’t try to stab you with his chopsticks this time,” Sehun points out, reaching over to grab Joonmyun’s bowl. Kyungsoo pulls Joonmyun’s bowl away and gives a pointed look at Baekhyun. “If you guys actually paid attention, you’d notice it’s been a while since Joonmyun hyung has reacted like usual to your teasing.”
“A week and a half,” Jongin murmurs sleepily, finally beginning to eat. All of them turn to stare at him and he looks up at them with puffy eyes. “When Baekhyun hyung imitated his dancing on that show and made Sehun join in? I overheard Joonmyun hyung asking Yongmin hyung if he could change some parts for our next shows.”
If he had to be completely truthful, Baekhyun honestly couldn’t have pinpointed that exact moment as the one where they had finally gone too far. Their leader had always been indulgent, smiling at their teasing and only retaliating with playful chops to the back of their necks, and if Kyungsoo and Jongin hadn’t brought it up, Baekhyun wouldn’t even have noticed Joonmyun’s lack of reaction. When he thought back to it, Joonmyun had laughed back then, hyperaware of the cameras and the amused MC, but Baekhyun hadn’t thought much of the way Joonmyun had pulled Jongin forward to demonstrate the new dance moves and drew the MC’s attention to the dancer instead. The shift in Joonmyun’s behavior was too subtle for Baekhyun to catch, not really enough for him to notice on his own, and it made Baekhyun feel even more guilty than he usually would. He steals some more eggs from Chanyeol’s bowl, chewing on them thoughtfully. “Well, it’s Joonmyun hyung. Let’s just treat him to a meal and he’ll be back to normal in no time.”
Their attempt to treat Joonmyun and win him back turns out to be a lot easier said than done. Sehun tries first, whining about being hungry and being sick of Kyungsoo’s food, but Joonmyun’s response is to tell Sehun to ask Seunghwan hyung instead. Chanyeol tries next, dragging Joonmyun to the empty fridge – which Chanyeol himself had emptied a few minutes earlier – and making aegyo faces even Zitao wouldn’t try. (He obviously doesn’t succeed.) Jongin and Kyungsoo try together, attempting to convince Joonmyun it’d been a while since they’d gone out together and it’d be fun, but like he had with Sehun, he offers to call Seunghwan hyung in their place. Baekhyun had expected at least Jongin to succeed, so he goes last, storming into the room with his face set. Joonmyun is sitting cross-legged on his bed, the blue light of the laptop screen lighting up his face, and for a second, Baekhyun pauses at seeing how tired Joonmyun really looks without make-up and stage lights washing any hint of unhappiness away. He doesn’t falter, however, and jumps onto the bed to shut the lid of the laptop. “Hyung~ we’re going out! How about you get ready instead of checking your fan sites?”
Joonmyun’s laugh is so dishonest, a poor attempt at acting normal, that Baekhyun wonders how he didn’t notice it before. “I’m fine, Baekhyun-ah. Don’t stay out too late and tell Sehun to wear a beanie.”
“Why don’t you want to go out with us?” Baekhyun asks, resisting the urge to frown. He can’t act angry with Joonmyun when he knows this is all their fault. “Hyung, you know, Chanyeol said he’d treat us…”
“Ah, really?” Joonmyun hums nonchalantly as he takes the laptop and places it on the floor, moving back to slide underneath his covers. “You guys should order a lot then. I’m too sleepy to go, maybe next time. Could you turn off the lights when you go out?”
Baekhyun gets off the bed when Joonmyun turns so his back is facing Baekhyun. It’s a blatant rejection that stings, but Baekhyun doesn’t lash back. He leaves the room, turning off the lights and leaving the door slightly ajar the way Joonmyun likes it.
Promises are too easy to break, Sehun thinks when he watches Joonmyun walk around the studio in a wide circle, avoiding everyone by focusing on the show script he’s reading. He’d made everyone promise not to fight, to talk everything through if they did have to fight or get angry, but Sehun’s attempts to talk to Joonmyun have all failed, because Joonmyun finds a way to bring everything back to what he’s deemed a ‘safe’ area, which meant only work-related. Joonmyun has paused in his walking and is rubbing his right knee with the tips of his fingers gingerly, the way Sehun has seen him do when they were still roommates or when he thinks nobody’s looking. Sehun knows he can’t push Joonmyun to forgive them, because it will only make it worse, and after all, they have nobody but themselves to blame for his behavior, but he can still show Joonmyun that their efforts aren’t going to stop. He runs to the van before everyone else when they’re leaving and saves the best seat for Joonmyun, pointing the other members to their seats, then takes the least comfortable seat just as Seunghwan and Joonmyun arrive. Joonmyun opens his mouth to protest, but Seunghwan places a hand on his back and pushes him lightly forward, and it’s enough to remind Joonmyun of the fans surrounding them. Sehun lowers his eyes to his phone when Joonmyun immediately looks at him after closing the door.
Chanyeol calls an urgent group meeting on their next day off when Joonmyun is out with Kyuhyun. Baekhyun is in the middle of a nap, but it doesn’t stop the rest of the members from taking over the room as a meeting place. He doesn’t budge when Chanyeol sits on his legs, attempting to go back to sleep until he hears Lu Han’s voice over the speakers of Sehun’s iPad. He engages Lu Han in a staring contest for thirty seconds before Kyungsoo breaks the silence and gets them back on topic – Lu Han’s only advice is for them to ease up on the teasing, which they’ve already done, while Jongdae laughs in the background and tells them Joonmyun doesn’t like them because they’re not him. Baekhyun makes a mental note to post a picture of Jongdae’s drawer of shoe lifts on the official homepage after his nap.
Joonmyun always sets a very clear line between Joonmyun and Suho, never showing any kind of negative reaction towards his members on camera, so they decide to take advantage of it whenever they can. It doesn’t seem to work, because as soon as Joonmyun sees that the red recording light has stopped blinking, he pulls his hand away from where Chanyeol or Sehun are holding it, or stands up to move away from Kyungsoo or Jongin’s hands on him, to go talk with any of the managers who are waiting behind the camera.
“He doesn’t even talk with the manager hyungs sometimes, he just pretends to,” Chanyeol says after a particularly stressful day, scrolling through pictures of the day’s performances. Baekhyun is already underneath the covers, back turned to Chanyeol, so he pretends not to hear. He doesn’t need Chanyeol to tell him what he already knows.
Jongin doesn’t tell the members about it, but he musters up the courage to ask Joonmyun one night—when Joonmyun is so tired that Jongin feels a little bad using his exhaustion to guarantee an honest answer—if he’ll forgive them. “Maybe when everyone looks at me as more than broadcast material or a prop to make fun of,” Joonmyun replies, voice muffled by his pillow and slurred by sleep. He’s asleep less than a minute later and Jongin is thankful, because he has no way of answering Joonmyun.
Baekhyun sits in front of the dorm’s door on the next time they finish practice early, preparing himself for Joonmyun’s stealthy escape. The others are scattered around the apartment, Kyungsoo cooking something for Sehun, who is messaging Zitao on his phone, Jongin taking a shower and Chanyeol playing guitar in the living room. Joonmyun quietly walks past the members, who all glance at him but choose to stare after him worriedly instead of saying anything, and is about to slide his feet into his shoes when he spots Baekhyun staring up at him from the floor. A flash of something Baekhyun wants to understand flickers in Joonmyun’s eyes before the older boy smiles. “Baekhyun-ah, there are better places to sit than here.”
“I wouldn’t be sitting here if you gave me any other choice,” Baekhyun says in a soft voice, determined to not let any of the others hear. He’s not blind to the way Joonmyun’s looks linger on him, as if he’s trying to tell Baekhyun something that Baekhyun can’t understand. The guilt spreads all the way to Baekhyun’s fingertips when Joonmyun looks away, both of them unable to meet on a middle ground. Baekhyun desperately wants to, though, and that’s why he’s sitting on the dirty floor, surrounded by dozens of shoes, just to talk to Joonmyun. “You can’t leave. You’re not allowed to until you talk to me.”
“Jonghyun is waiting for me…” Joonmyun says in reply, squatting down to fix his shoe. Baekhyun reaches out and grabs Joonmyun’s arm, tugging him down to the floor with him. Joonmyun lands on his knees with a loud bang and Baekhyun winces when he hears it, but Joonmyun only adjusts himself to sit properly, eyes meeting Baekhyun’s. “He really is waiting for me.”
“I’ve been waiting too,” Baekhyun answers. He shifts closer until their feet are pressed against each other, but doesn’t dare reach out to touch Joonmyun besides that. “Please don’t shut yourself off from us. I know we’re at fault, but why can’t you forgive us?”
“There’s only so much I can take without being given anything in return, Baekhyun-ah,” Joonmyun responds honestly, for the first time in what feels like too long, and Baekhyun hates hearing his name the way Joonmyun says it, too much disappointment laced with it. He stands up and Baekhyun stares at Joonmyun’s feet as Joonmyun puts on his shoes, a pair Baekhyun remembers he’s also worn before, before Joonmyun opens the door and slides out. The click of the door feels final, like all the ways to Joonmyun have been locked and nobody has any keys. Chanyeol’s playing a slow song Baekhyun doesn’t recognize, and for a moment, Baekhyun wants to take Chanyeol’s guitar and throw it out the window. He sighs and gets up, heading to the kitchen to steal some of Sehun’s food instead of dealing with the feelings Joonmyun leaves behind for him to fight with.
“Are you hungry, hyung? I can make you something to eat if you’d like,” Kyungsoo calls when he sees Joonmyun walk into the apartment, where Kyungsoo is watching a drama rerun. Joonmyun pauses, looking at Kyungsoo, and then at the kitchen, before he shakes his head and disappears down the corridor. Kyungsoo mutes the drama, waiting until he hears the soft greeting Jongin always gives when Joonmyun enters their shared room, then turns his attention back to the muted TV. He falls back onto the couch and drops the remote beside him, letting frustration eat away at him.
It only gets even worse after two more attempts to ‘subtly’ drag Joonmyun out with them and getting either rejected or not even getting a chance to because Joonmyun slips out or goes to sleep before they can even try. Even Jongdae and Zitao talk more with him and they’ve been in China ever since their newest round of promotions started, which is disheartening. “We live with him! We spend every waking minute together!” Sehun exclaims to Lu Han in the ninth Skype call that week alone.
Taemin is in their apartment when their failed third attempt happens, having been invited over by Jongin. He waves goodbye to Joonmyun with a bright smile, before he turns to glare at the members as soon as the door closes, in what he seems to think is a scary way. Jongin immediately informs him it isn’t, but Taemin chooses to ignore him. “I can’t believe all of you are really letting this go on. Does Joonmyun hyung even spend any time with you guys anymore if it’s not a schedule?”
Silence is his only answer. He rolls his eyes and takes the game controller from Sehun to win against a distracted Chanyeol. “I knew Joonmyun hyung should’ve been part of SHINee instead of with you idiots.”
Chanyeol doesn’t try to approach Joonmyun directly. He’s good with people, but it’s different when it’s Joonmyun, who’s always been so easy to deal with and suddenly isn’t. Joonmyun isn’t harsh when he pushes Chanyeol away, but he’s still pushing Chanyeol, all of them, away, and Chanyeol hates that he can’t fix that, even when he tries his hardest.
“Can’t you talk to him for us?” He asks Kris instead, swinging a toilet stall door back and forth during a break from practice. It’s a phone call, not a video call, but Chanyeol can imagine Kris’ expression without the video. “Hyung, don’t give me that face. I really need your help.”
“There are things you have to fix on your own without hyung’s help,” Kris says, laughing wryly. Chanyeol wishes this didn’t have to be one of them. “Go back to practice, Chanyeol-ah. This will pass, you’ll see, and Joonmyun will be alright with all of you soon.”
Chanyeol hums before he hangs up, pocketing his phone and giving the toilet stall a final powerful push so it hits roughly against the adjacent wall with a satisfying bang before swinging back. He catches it to stop it before he turns and leaves the bathroom, heading back towards the practice room.
“We have to ask Ahreum noona for help,” Jongin decides after another week of Joonmyun talking to them only about schedules, meals and occasionally show scripts. Baekhyun isn’t surprised that Jongin is the first to suggest it, because it must be even worse to deal with when he’s sharing a room with Joonmyun. “Joonmyun hyung is out with Donghae hyung today. Do you guys see a pattern? As soon as he finds out we have even two hours of free time, he’s out the door.”
“Ryeowook hyung told me he’s seen more of Joonmyun hyung in the past month than he has of Siwon hyung,” Kyungsoo says, glancing down at his phone screen before looking around at all of them. They’re in Kyungsoo and Sehun’s room this time, although they could hold the meeting in the living room and it wouldn’t matter because the subject of their meeting, Joonmyun, wouldn’t be around to find them anyway. “We really have to do something. Are we going to talk to him?”
“How are we going to do that?” Baekhyun asks, crossing his arms. He could already imagine how well that would go, especially with Chanyeol’s dramatics and Sehun’s unnecessary sugarcoating. “’Oh, hey, Joonmyun hyung, we noticed you’re not happy with us, do you think you could tell us what to do to fix that?’”
“At least Kyungsoo is suggesting something, I don’t see you being helpful,” Chanyeol replies after a moment of silence. They all stare forlornly at the floor before Jongin sighs and picks up his phone to dial a number, then sets it on speaker mode and places it back on the floor.
“Yes? Jongin-ah?” Ahreum’s voice is clear through the speakers of Jongin’s phone, but none of them speak. She sighs, loud enough for them to hear. “What’s wrong?”
“Joonmyun hyung is mad at us even though we tried everything to get him to forgive us, we don’t know what to do,” Jongin mumbles. Ahreum hums in acknowledgement before she speaks. “You haven’t tried apologizing to him directly, though. You all know you’re in the wrong for pushing Joonmyun too far, but you’re trying to make up for your mistake in ways Joonmyun doesn’t want. None of you would like it if someone tried to force affection on you when a simple apology is more than enough.”
They all digest the advice silently, then Kyungsoo pulls the phone closer to him. “Thank you, noona. We’ll apologize to Joonmyun hyung.”
“You’re good kids, and so is Joonmyun, he’ll accept your apology when he knows you’re all sincere,” Ahreum answers kindly. The members exchange looks, wondering how they could have ignored such a simple solution. “I have schedules to arrange, so I’m going to hang up. Good luck, boys.”
Their next day off comes less than a week later, although they have to beg Seunghwan and Yongmin to arrange it for them without letting Joonmyun know. Chanyeol tries to suggest cross-dressing as a disguise, but Jongin blatantly refuses and they argue while Sehun makes comments about how the both of them would make rather unconvincing girls. Kyungsoo shuts them up by telling them Seunghwan is driving them to their next supposed recording, which actually doesn’t exist, in the Apgujeong branch of Everysing. They have the biggest noraebang room to themselves and Seunghwan mutters about how thankful he is that the place is both owned by SM and soundproof when he drops them off.
“Alright, I hope everyone memorized the answers and the order because we’re—” Joonmyun instructs when they’re in the room, eyeing the lone camera set up in the corner. He stops talking when he notices the rest of the members are already comfortable on the seats, taking up all of one side and leaving the other completely empty. None of them miss the way Joonmyun’s face falls, his mask of Suho slipping so infinitesimally that they wouldn’t notice it if they didn’t know what they were looking for, but he puts it back up instantly and smiles before taking a seat on the opposite side. “I guess the PDnim isn’t here yet, let’s make use of the time to practice.”
“There’s no interview, hyung,” Kyungsoo says gently, smiling at Joonmyun. Joonmyun looks confused, staring at Kyungsoo for a moment before he looks back at the closed door. There is no commotion, no pre-interview preparation rush, no watchful managers and strict PDs; Joonmyun looks like he’s ready to sink into the couch and disappear when he looks back at the members staring at him expectantly. “We wanted to talk to you.”
“We… live together…” Joonmyun mumbles weakly. Baekhyun can tell from the look on Joonmyun’s face that it is just an excuse and it crumbles too easily in front of their expectant gazes. “Well… I guess… go ahead.”
“We know we were wrong. You’re more to us than you think, hyung,” Sehun begins, looking like he’s about to cry. Joonmyun’s expression softens, lets up just a little, because they can hear the way Sehun’s voice breaks at the end. Chanyeol continues in his place when Sehun looks down. “We’re all here to say we’re sorry, because we really are.”
“Do you all know what you’re apologizing for?” Joonmyun asks. There’s no anger in his voice, only resignation and hurt, gathered over too long of a period. He looks down at his feet before looking back up, staring at a point over Jongin’s head. “I’m not angry, not anymore. I’m just tired.”
“I’m—we’re sorry for hurting you, hyung,” Baekhyun decides to say when everyone else stays quiet, too guilty to speak, and it’s the right moment, because Joonmyun meets his eyes the same moment he says it. There’s silence in the big room, but Baekhyun doesn’t care when Joonmyun finally smiles at him. He can hear Jongin and Kyungsoo apologizing as well beside him, their voices clear and loud, and Joonmyun turns his smile to them, leaving Baekhyun with even more feelings he’s not sure he can sort through. Baekhyun hangs back when Joonmyun walks over to Sehun, taking their maknae in his arms, and the others crowd around him, almost as if trying to get used to the feel of Joonmyun’s walls letting them back in. He’s surprised when Joonmyun untangles one arm from around Sehun’s waist and holds out his hand to Baekhyun, face half-hidden by Sehun’s messy hair, but the look in his eyes is enough for Baekhyun to know that he’s also being let back in. Relief, happiness and a strange sort of calm replaces any anxiety or guilt Baekhyun felt when he takes Joonmyun’s hand, lacing his fingers with Joonmyun’s, and takes in as much of Joonmyun’s warmth as he can. Baekhyun doesn’t have to ask to know it’s not getting used to Joonmyun letting them back in that the members were feeling, but finally getting back what they had been missing for too long. He squeezes Joonmyun’s hand and smiles brightly when Joonmyun squeezes back.
I like Baekhyun a lot more than I like you, Baekhyun sends to Jongdae from Joonmyun’s phone a week later, when Joonmyun has helped him sort through his feelings much quicker than he had been on his own. He deletes the message so Joonmyun won’t see it, but Joonmyun shows him Jongdae’s reply of ‘you should keep a closer eye on your phone, hyung’ on their way home from the SM building. Baekhyun shrugs and smiles sweetly, enjoying the way Joonmyun’s frown melts into a flustered face before he turns back in his front passenger seat when Yongmin tells him to sit properly. Baekhyun turns his attention back to his phone and decides now is a good time to upload his picture of Jongdae’s shoe lift drawer.