[personal profile] maayacolabackup


Plane flights to China have become almost frightening, but the hugs Wu Fan offers whenever they meet up, after considerable time apart, are always welcome.

Seunghwan half-heartedly chides Chanyeol for his impatience when they get to the hotel, but he just wants to curl up at the end of Wu Fan’s bed and talk until his voice goes hoarse. Wu Fan has always been a good listener, and things in the dorm have been stifling, and Chanyeol feels stiff down to his bones with the stress of having nowhere he can possibly relax.

As soon as the door closes, he tackles Wu Fan with the biggest brother-hug he can manage.

“Hey, aren’t I not supposed to hug you, now?” Wu Fan jokes. “I read on Weibo that our Chanyeol was deathly ill.”

“It’s everything from a debilitating flu to a contagious disease according to the fanbases,” Chanyeol agrees. “Little do they know it’s much more horrible than that.”

Wu Fan squeezes Chanyeol’s shoulder comfortingly, and Chanyeol leans into him. “It could be worse?”

“No,” Chanyeol replies, because he can feel honest with Wu Fan. With Baekhyun, too, but Baekhyun doesn’t feel older and wiser like Wu Fan does. “Not really.”

“You look terrible?” Wu Fan offers. “That’s probably why the fans think you’re dying.”

“Thanks. Really.” Chanyeol feels almost sick again, the snakes not just in his belly now, but crawling up his ribcage. “Jongin is… difficult.” Difficult is the best word, Chanyeol thinks, for the way Jongin’s started to dodge even accidental brushes between them. "He's... avoiding me."

Their dorm back home is a tight fit, six men living on top of each other. It’s amazing how Jongin manages to make the meter and a half between their beds feel like a kilometer with the hunch of his shoulders and a refusal to acknowledge Chanyeol’s existence.

"Why?" Wu Fan asks, and his free hand comes up to fuss with the bit of hair that falls into his face. It’s a testament to how upset Chanyeol is that he doesn’t mock him for the useless gesture, because they’re all going to shower and be styled soon, and it doesn’t matter what Wu Fan’s hair looks like.

"Because we slept together, probably," Chanyeol says absently, and Wu Fan's hand drops from his shoulder in shock. "Not like that!" Chanyeol says. "Like, actual sleep. Because the bond..." Because the bond is like a thirsty man in the desert, maybe, and Jongin is water; a reluctant oasis for Chanyeol when everything starts to throb with withdraw. “It makes us… need to touch. A lot.”

"Right, right," Wu Fan says. "So if it's just because of the bond, why is he avoiding you?"

"Because he hates me," Chanyeol says. "I guess." Jongin had seemed okay in the morning, but as the day had worn on, he'd become more and more anxious, and Chanyeol could feel that anxiousness bubbling in his gut.

That, combined with Chanyeol's own strange feelings, had brought back physical problems Chanyeol hadn't faced since before he and Jongin had ended up in the hospital. And with Jongin's avoidance, even from the most minimal touches, the bond is punishing them both. Chanyeol wishes he could fix it, but the only time he had reached out to grab Jongin's wrist, Jongin had flinched away so obviously that Baekhyun had raised an eyebrow and Sehun had made a comment about not wanting Chanyeol's contagious stupidity either. "Why Jongin? Why me and Jongin?"

"Soul bonds are not random," Wu Fan says. "They happen because there is something..." Wu Fan tilts his head and tries to find the right words in Korean. "It had to have happened for some reason."

"Baekhyun says Jongin is a square lid and I'm a circular container," Chanyeol says miserably. "That's why we don't fit."

Wu Fan laughs. "People aren't plastic containers, Chanyeol. People are constantly changing, and people have motives." He sounds confident, even if he looks ridiculous with fingers tangled in bangs that are too long, a look of displeasure on his face at his dry ends. He looks like a cartoon character, but Chanyeol isn’t one to talk. “Jongin probably has motives for avoiding you.”

Chanyeol sighs, and it aches. Everything aches, and the hissing of the snakes in his stomach is so loud he can barely hear himself think.

“You could talk to him?” Wu Fan suggests, and Chanyeol looks at him incredulously.

“Oh yes,” Chanyeol says. “Why hadn’t I thought of that.” Chanyeol could probably talk at Jongin. He’s been doing that for four years. But talking to Jongin is quite a separate proposition; far more unlikely.

“It was just an idea,” Wu Fan says. “You can deal with your lovers spat any way you like.”

“We’re not lovers,” Chanyeol hotly protests. “We’re not even friends.” That’s what Jongin had said, eyes hot like morning coffee. The sky is blue. Grass is green. Jongin and Chanyeol aren’t friends.

The word lovers is insidious, though, and Chanyeol has to forcibly reject it from his mind.

“But your souls are bonded together.” Wu Fan turns to look at Chanyeol, and all his teasing is gone. “Have you stopped to think about what that really means?” He’s staring intently into Chanyeol’s eyes now, and Chanyeol feels pinned by it, and by the words Wu Fan has left in the air between them. “Because, Chanyeol—“ Wu Fan doesn’t complete the thought, and that’s alright because Chanyeol wouldn’t have been able to hear the words over the wild, fearful beating of his heart.

The duvet on the bed is really tacky, Chanyeol thinks desperately, trying to ease the dread. “I’m trying my best not to,” Chanyeol says, after a silence that feels longer than the moments it actually is. “Because that’s far more scary than I’m ready to deal with.”

Wu Fan’s lips curl down in a sympathetic frown, and he pulls Chanyeol into another hug. Chanyeol makes sure to bury his face in Wu Fan’s hair, messing it up on purpose. Wu Fan laughs, and lets him. Wu Fan’s hair isn’t as soft as Jongin’s against his cheek, and Chanyeol isn’t sure what he hates more: that he notices, or that he can feel himself yearning for the press of Jongin’s cheek to his own.

“Don’t you think Jongin is scared too?” Wu Fan’s voice is quiet, like he’s trying not to frighten a stray kitten. Chanyeol thinks about Jongin’s words to Kyungsoo in the hospital. About never getting to fall in love. About never getting to choose. He wonders what Jongin sees when he looks at Chanyeol. Chanyeol, in Jongin, sees a band mate, and someone who is trapped with him, but maybe all Jongin sees is a pair of shackles he can’t escape. Chanyeol’s eyes burn now, too; almost as much as his chest and stomach.

Chanyeol is so tired, and a few hours from now, he’ll have to put on a suit and smile, because M is nominated for an award tonight. But for now, it seems okay to just rest his forehead on Wu Fan’s shoulder and feel sorry for himself. Just for a few minutes.

“Be careful,” Chanyeol says. “On my baidu bar, people think I’ll get you sick.”

“Leaders don’t get sick,” Wu Fan says, carding a hand through Chanyeol’s hair. “So relax.”

“It could have been you,” Chanyeol says. “Even the space between China and Korea would have been okay.”

“Every yin needs a yang.” Wu Fan is steady. “Light and shadow. Polar opposites, and yet interconnected in the natural world.”

“Is this some arcane Chinese way of talking about tupperware?” Chanyeol mumbles into Wu Fan’s expensive blouse. “Because the tupperware was easier to understand.”

Yin and yang are not… they’re opposites, but…” Wu Fan pulls away from Chanyeol to meet his eyes. “They’re complementary. They’re two halves that are something better together. That’s how it works. That’s how soul bonds are supposed to work.”

Chanyeol gets that, he really does. Only when he thinks about Jongin, he’s torn between wanting to pull him so close he sinks into Chanyeol’s skin, and wanting to shake him until he spills out all the reasons he won’t accept Chanyeol the way he is. Chanyeol doesn’t think that’s exactly helpful in forming a greater whole.


They’re tricked into sitting next to each other for most of the awards (Chanyeol suspects Baekhyun and Zitao have worked together to arrange it), and Jongin’s hair smells like lavender, and the snakes in Chanyeol’s stomach are furious at him for not reaching out and taking Jongin’s hand. Jongin leans over, maybe to say something, but in the end, for whatever reason he doesn’t, and Chanyeol keeps his eyes straight ahead and ignores the way his chest tightens so painfully he can’t breathe. He can feel Jongin’s discontent tickling at him, a constant burn in his arms and calves, but he doesn’t react to it.

Chanyeol focuses on Yixing’s teary face and the way Wu Fan tries his best, and laughably fails, not to cry, and it’s enough to keep him from digging his nails into Jongin’s thigh.

Jongin’s eyes are tired. Chanyeol sneaks a look at him, later, and he can see the shadows clinging more harshly than usual to the lines and angles of Jongin’s face. His full lips turn down, and Chanyeol’s heart squeezes in a new way when their eyes meet as they wait for the elevator in the lobby. It’s different than the snakes and the suffocating tightness in his chest, but Chanyeol doesn’t know what it means.

Lu Han drags Jongin off with him, murmuring in excited Korean, and Chanyeol makes an effort not to watch them walk away, Lu Han’s arm around Jongin’s waist.

He rooms with Baekhyun at the hotel that night, and Baekhyun doesn’t ask permission before he climbs into bed with Chanyeol and hugs him. “Can’t sleep?”

“No,” Chanyeol says, and Baekhyun sighs. “You know I can’t.”

“You guys will figure it out,” Baekhyun says, and Baekhyun uses the same brand of toothpaste as Chanyeol and he smells like nothing but soap. Chanyeol’s heart doesn’t speed up at touch of Baekhyun’s foot to his calf, and Chanyeol’s stomach doesn’t calm.

It’s only Jongin, Chanyeol thinks to himself. It’s only Jongin who can soothe him, and Jongin is happiest when Chanyeol is as far away as possible.

“No, Duizhang,” Chanyeol murmurs to himself, when he’s sure Baekhyun’s fallen asleep, “it really could not be worse.”

The next day, when an interviewer asks for a display of his and Jongin’s modeling talent, Chanyeol’s so dizzy that he makes a grab for Jongin’s hand, and it feels really nice when Jongin’s fingertips connect with his own. It is Jongin, though, not Chanyeol, who almost forgets to let go, and it is Jongin’s embarrassment that sinks low in Chanyeol’s belly as the interview continues.


“Sehun would like this one,” Chanyeol said, bending in half to peer through the glass. “The icing is his favorite color, and he doesn’t chew slow enough to taste the actual cake.” They were debuting in two weeks, and this might be the last normal birthday party for any of them. Sehun’s birthday would be after debut, but they all wanted to celebrate it before things got too busy.

“I guess,” Jongin replied, looking uncomfortable to be standing next to Chanyeol. “It’s his birthday, so he can eat like a hippo if he wants, really.” He hedged a bit closer. “And yeah, that’s his favorite color.”

“Of course it is.” Chanyeol pulled his hat lower, because the door to the Paris Baguette kept opening, letting the cool spring air into the shop. Plus, they’d released teasers now. Chanyeol knew they weren’t famous, not yet, but they were with SM. People might recognize their faces. Especially Jongin’s. “Sehun’s one of my best friends.”

“You’re not always very observant,” Jongin countered, and Chanyeol wasn’t sure Jongin was particularly entitled to have that opinion. Still, he didn’t rock the boat, because Jongin wasn’t someone Chanyeol could tease. That’s not how their truce worked. Chanyeol didn’t overstep his bounds and Jongin didn’t freeze him out.

It didn’t occur to Chanyeol until they were checking out that he’d known Jongin almost as long as he’d known Sehun. “I don’t even know your favorite color,” Chanyeol said, as he fumbled with his wallet, trying to shove it back in his pocket.

“It’s none of your business,” Jongin replied, and he’d taken the bag out of Chanyeol’s other hand. “Nothing about me is any of your business. We’re not friends.”


When Chanyeol was in middle school, he used to hook a rubber band on the very tip of his thumb and launch it across the classroom to hit his best friend on the back of the head. To get maximum distance, he’d had to pull the band as far back as he could, stretching it until it was almost at its breaking point. The key was always to launch it before it snapped.

Chanyeol, now, feels like a rubber band stretched beyond its limits. He feels, like at any moment, he might snap.

He raps twice on the door to Jongin’s hotel room at three am. He knows Jongin will be awake. It opens, and Jongin isn’t surprised to see him. Chanyeol knows Jongin can feel when Chanyeol is close, just like he can feel when Jongin is close. “What?”

Chanyeol wants to test him. Wants to see how far Jongin can stretch. Maybe if he reaches out and rubs his thumb along the dark circles under Jongin’s eyes, Jongin won’t cringe away.

Chanyeol thinks the curve of Jongin’s cheek would fit nicely into Chanyeol’s palm. It’s an errant thought that he shoves down, because Chanyeol already pushes Jongin’s buttons without trying; there’s no need to give in to urges he knows are mostly caused by the link between them.

“Jongin, can we talk?” He shifts. His hair is stiff, still, from the hairspray from the interview. His tennis shoes squeak despite the carpeted floor because they’re still new. He hadn’t bothered to tie them, and now he notices that the laces are dragging on the floor.

“No,” Jongin says. “I don’t want to hear your voice anymore today.” His tone isn’t cruel. It’s an excuse, and they both know it. Jongin’s reticence takes up residence in Chanyeol’s abdomen, and he tries to reign in his own emotions, and damp them down so Jongin won’t get them through the bond. It’s kind of like being on stage. Chanyeol is just forcing a smile on the inside, this time, instead of the outside. It’s Chanyeol’s self-assigned duty to do that, no matter how weary he is.

“Jongin, we have to-”

“Please,” Jongin says, and he stares at his knees, maybe, or the strange pattern of the carpet in front of the door. “Please let me pretend I have a choice about something.”

Maybe they’ll both snap.

“All right,” Chanyeol says, and he steps back so Jongin can shut the door. The bond twists in protest, already so dim from both of their stubbornness, and Chanyeol wonders if they starve it enough can they make it disappear.

“All right?” Jongin’s gaze flickers up, so briefly he might have imaged it, to meet Chanyeol’s.

“I’m trying to understand.” Wu Fan had said Jongin might have his own motivations. Chanyeol wonders if figuring those out is even possible. If Jongin even knows the answers to all the questions Chanyeol would like to ask.

“Why do you try so hard with me?” Jongin asks, but he closes the door before Chanyeol can answer, and Chanyeol guesses his answer doesn’t matter.


“Someday,” Chanyeol said, “he won’t hate me anymore.”

Kyungsoo laughed, as Baekhyun hid a smile behind his hand.

“He doesn’t hate you,” Sehun said. “You just work different.”

“Different isn’t bad,” Chanyeol said.

“Jongin is a lot less confident than you are, and he doesn’t like things he doesn’t understand.” Kyungsoo sighed. “Just give him space.”

“I do,” Chanyeol said. “I give him all the space he could possibly need.”


When they get back from China, bags abandoned at the front door as they pile into rooms and into the kitchen for water, Seunghwan pulls Jongin and Chanyeol aside.

“Fix it,” he says.

“There’s nothing to fix,” Jongin says, and he shoves his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. Chanyeol’s own jeans pockets are too tight for that, so he settles for fingering the hem of his sweater, the light blue yarn soft between his fingers. He watches Jongin’s nervous shift out of the corner of his eye, and Seunghwan makes an impatient noise.

“There obviously is, if you both look like you’re going to pass out. Do you not understand? You have to spend time together. The bond won’t ease up on you until it’s completely settled down.”

“I thought it was already settled,” Jongin says, and Chanyeol’s hand comes up to rest on his stomach as he feels Jongin’s spike of fear. On impulse, he leans closer to Jongin, the way he would toward anyone who seemed afraid, but Jongin flinches away.

“Didn’t you pay attention?” Seunghwan says, rubbing at his forehead, eyes crinkled with frustration. “No, it’s settled enough that you don’t need to touch all the time. The more settled it gets, the easier it will be for you to be apart. People can’t live attached at the hip!”

Chanyeol can feel himself sort of wilting as Seunghwan talks, longing for the sofa or for Baekhyun, or even Sehun, to lean on, and to close his eyes, even if he won’t be able to sleep. “I’m sorry,” Chanyeol says, even if he’s tired of apologizing for things he can’t change and that aren’t his fault. That’s just the way things are going to be with Jongin, he supposes. Chanyeol can just look forward to a lifetime of apologizing. “It’s my fault. Jongin hates me and I don’t know how to do anything about it.”

Seunghwan looks at him, and Chanyeol just stares back. He manages a small smile, and Jongin makes a noise in the back of his throat that would have made Chanyeol gawk at him if he weren’t resolutely keeping his eyes on their manager. He thinks he hears rustling behind him; probably Junmyeon standing in the doorway to the kitchen, listening like he always does when one of them gets in trouble in case they need a hug afterward.

Then Seunghwan turns to Jongin. “I don’t care. This is a professional problem, now. Whatever you’re doing currently isn’t working.” He starts to say something else, but whatever it is, he deems it unnecessary, and leaves them there in the hallway, retreating out the door and leaving an oppressive silence behind him.

Chanyeol steps backward, and then spins around, walking towards his bedroom. Their bedroom, he guesses, but Jongin will hopefully leave him alone.

He peels his sweater off and throws it on the bed, and then he hears the door shut, and the lock turn. “I don’t hate you,” says a quiet voice, and Chanyeol looks up to meet Jongin’s gaze. Jongin’s lips are white, pressed together, and his hands are now fists at his sides. The vein in his neck sticks out with the clench of his jaw, and Chanyeol, somehow, finds Jongin strangely beautiful as he stares into Chanyeol’s eyes.

“Okay,” Chanyeol says, shrugging. He only likes arguing with Baekhyun, about who left his glass on the nightstand or whose sleep noises are more annoying, when the stakes are low. Not with some guy on the internet whose girlfriend liked Sehun, and not with Junmyeon about staying up too late, and not with his parents about missing school for modeling contests. He doesn’t ever want to argue with Jongin, who is moody and unpredictable. “Fine.”

“I don’t hate you,” Jongin says, and he’s half-shouting, and Chanyeol’s sort of afraid that someone will walk in, even though Jongin’d locked the door and he’s still leaning against it. “I just…” Chanyeol doesn’t understand why Jongin suddenly looks so determined.

“Can’t stand me?” Chanyeol says, and he knows his voice sounds wrong, and Jongin flinches back again, this time kinda like Chanyeol’s hit him. “Wish I were in a different band so you wouldn’t have to see me every day? Wish you were stuck with Kyungsoo or Sehun or anyone but me-“

“Stop,” Jongin says. ”You don’t know anything. You never know anything.”

“You never let me ask,” Chanyeol replies, and he brings his hands up to his face because his eyes are stinging and this hurts.

Chanyeol should have given up on Jongin, everything about Jongin, a long time ago, because this just hurts.

“Nothing about me is any of your business.”

Jongin’s takes a quick gulp of air, and yes, Chanyeol’s forgotten that Jongin can feel his emotions now; that he can taste the misery that weighs in Chanyeol’s gut like stones. It must be that—the reality of how much his words cut Chanyeol, that makes him speak.

“I hate the way you make me feel.” Jongin is stepping closer, and Chanyeol’s heart stops beating. It starts again when Jongin stops edging nearer; when Jongin’s toes touch his own, and Chanyeol can feel Jongin’s angry breaths on his face. “I hate the way you’re big when you should be small and loud when you should be quiet, and the way you’re never embarrassed and the way you smile at me no matter how mean I am to you. I hate the way you try so hard and won’t leave me alone. I hate that I don’t know what you want.”

And now Chanyeol wonders, just a little, how much of the misery he’s feeling is his own, and how much of it is Jongin’s, mixed together with Jongin’s confusion and Jongin’s awkwardness as that leaks through the bond, too.

“I’m sorry,” Chanyeol says. He’s not sure what he’s apologizing for, exactly, but Jongin’s giving him that checklist frown and Chanyeol’s so very tired of being all wrong for Jongin when he’s all right for everyone else. “Jongin, I-“

The words are stalled with lips, and this is nothing like the press of lips more than a month ago, that Chanyeol still thinks about sometimes when he can’t stop himself. This, Chanyeol realizes, even as he’s already moving his lips back, is a real kiss.

Jongin kisses like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s too much teeth and too much tongue, but that’s all right, because Chanyeol doesn’t know what he’s doing either. Chaste kisses with his high school girlfriend back when he was a trainee hadn’t prepared him for this feeling of being swallowed alive, Jongin’s hot mouth sucking in Chanyeol’s lower lip as his hands fist in Chanyeol’s shirt, pulling them close enough together that Chanyeol loses track of where he ends and where Jongin begins.

The bond pulses between them, and it’s like the way liquor had felt shooting down his esophagus the one time Lu Han had teased him into trying it; stinging and sharp and leaving warmth in its wake. Chanyeol feels dizzy too, just like he had then, and it’s enough, Chanyeol thinks, to make the bond bright white behind his eyelids, and the creeping nausea that’s been haunting him to flee, replaced by tendrils of desire and need that ricochet between them.

Jongin’s tongue sneaks into Chanyeol’s mouth, and Chanyeol can’t help but moan, liking the way their tongues slide against each other. It works better than any other dance they’ve ever tried to do together, and Chanyeol can feel the hard lines of Jongin’s hips slanting against his own as he tilts his head to get a little more access.

He doesn’t know if he’s doing this right, but Chanyeol’s always willing to make a fool out of himself and this is no exception. One hand snakes around Jongin’s back to find the back of his neck, dark hair catching between his fingers, and pulls. Jongin makes a desperate whining sound, and pushes his hips against Chanyeol’s. Chanyeol can feel his hardness, there, and the thrumming beat of Jongin’s want is in perfect rhythm with Chanyeol’s heart.


“Shut up,” Jongin says, and he sounds frustrated and scared and angry and nervous all at once, and Chanyeol wants to pull him into a hug but he doesn’t know if Jongin would like that. “For once in your life, just shut up.” Chanyeol can feel each and every word on his spit-slick chin, and it sends shivers down his spine.

And Jongin’s hands are shaking, too, and so Chanyeol kisses him again. Jongin exhales into Chanyeol’s mouth, and he tastes like Chanyeol’s toothpaste.

“I’m sorry,” Chanyeol says, muffled by Jongin’s mouth, and maybe what he’s sorry about is this whole situation, and the fact that he’s always been more okay with it than Jongin, and that he’s selfishly a little glad that Jongin’s stuck with him and not anyone else because the way Jongin’s mouth fits against his own is better than any way they’ve fit before. Maybe Chanyeol is sorry because Jongin is jagged and rough and shy and Chanyeol is destined to push into Jongin’s personal space and knock down all the walls he tries to keep up and to crash into those sharp edges, and because Jongin will still be stuck with Chanyeol even when he bleeds.

And as Chanyeol whispers apologies into Jongin’s open mouth, Jongin seems to swallow them down. Chanyeol is unsure if he’s at the top of Sisyphus’s hill or at the bottom of a new one.
When they part, ragged and heaving pants filling the space between them, Chanyeol wonders if he’s supposed to fill this silence too.

“I hate that I have no idea what I’m feeling when I’m near you,” Jongin says, and Chanyeol can relate to that. “I hate that so much.”

Chanyeol doesn’t reply. He just licks at his swollen lips, and he can taste Jongin. He can feel his and Jongin’s emotions swirling around inside his head and inside his heart and it’s way too much for one person.

“But I don’t hate you,” Jongin says, and then he kisses Chanyeol again. The bond swells.


“I bought you a soda,” Chanyeol said, and Jongin looked up from

“I don’t like grape,” Jongin replied, and closed his eyes again.

Sehun claimed the extra soda, and Chanyeol watched Jongin from across the room. “I thought grape was his favorite,” Chanyeol said, and Sehun sighed.

“It wouldn’t matter what flavor the soda had been, Chanyeol.” Sehun’s bangs were sweaty, and curling a bit on his forehead. “He wouldn’t have taken it.” Sehun paused, tilting his head to the side and licking his lips. “He doesn’t understand why you bought it.”

“What do you know?” Chanyeol said, eyes tracing the lines between the tiles on the floor.

“I know Jongin,” Sehun answered, and Chanyeol figured that was true. “You give things without expecting something back. I think it…” Sehun pursed his lips, and his face fell into that expressionless mask he wore when he didn’t want people to know what he was thinking. “I think it confuses him.”


“Because no one does something for nothing.” Sehun shrugged. “And he can’t figure out the cost of your attention.”


It is Chanyeol, now, who is afraid.

He wakes up in the morning, and feels Jongin’s lips against the skin of his throat, and Jongin’s bare chest against his arm, and he panics. The snakes in his stomach are so quiet it’s as if they never existed, and in contrast, Jongin’s every exhale is so loud.

Chanyeol carefully extricates himself from the bed, falling sloppily onto the floor because the beds they sleep on aren’t really built for two—Jongin’s limbs are almost as long as Chanyeol’s, and it is only completely tangled that they fit at all.

Chanyeol’s skin is sticky with sweat, and his head is fuzzy, a mixture of drowsiness and content. The bond is thrumming so loud and pleased in his ears.

Jongin makes a tiny, mewling sound as he rolls onto his stomach, and Chanyeol almost… wants to get back into bed with him.

Instead, he takes a shower. As he stands in the spray, the hot water sluicing down his back, his other hand comes up to his mouth and fear slow-drips like honey along his spine.

It’s not supposed to be like this, Chanyeol thinks. It’s not supposed to feel like the places Jongin’s kissed are bruised, the touch searing through skin and lingering.

Dr. Bae had said the things the bond needed would change—the ways Jongin and Chanyeol needed to touch would change. Suddenly Baekhyun’s desire to switch rooms makes so much more sense, and Chanyeol feels stupid for not having seen this coming. He feels stupid, and terrified.

And yet, last night, Chanyeol had wanting nothing less than what Jongin was offering, taking it all as he tried to figure out why it was happening. Jongin had never felt so attainable, even if that’s not the way Chanyeol has ever imagined himself wanting him.

Chanyeol wraps his arms around himself and shivers.

When he gets back to the bedroom, it’s empty, and it’s only Chanyeol’s mussed sheets in contrast to Jongin’s unused ones that confirm that Jongin spent the night in Chanyeol’s bed at all.

Chanyeol dresses and walks out into the hallway. He can hear Baekhyun in the kitchen, loudly singing Gashik Girl as he bangs around with pots, probably making ramen for breakfast. But he can also hear muffled voices coming from Kyungsoo’s room.

Eavesdropping is wrong. Chanyeol knows that, but Chanyeol is also not a saint. He quietly moves closer to the open door, and presses his back to the cool hallway wall.

It’s Jongin in there with Kyungsoo. Of course it is. Chanyeol presses a hand to his stomach as the bond shudders. He hopes Jongin doesn’t notice.

“I kissed him,” Jongin says, and the silence is telling. The denim of Chanyeol’s jeans scrapes against his thighs.

“You what?” Kyungsoo’s voice cracks, and Chanyeol almost laughs because Kyungsoo’s reaction is pretty similar to Chanyeol’s own. “Excuse me, I think I misheard.”

“Shut up,” Jongin says, and he sounds, well, wretched, and Chanyeol feels guilty for listening, but if he moves now, he’ll never hear the rest. “I kissed him.”


“I don’t know?” Jongin says. Chanyeol can imagine Jongin’s fingers, clutching fistfuls of his hair, teeth digging into his lower lip. “I-“


“I don’t know what to do.” He can hear Kyungsoo shifting closer, maybe. “And Chanyeol is so upset, I can feel that he’s upset, and I don’t understand what he-“ Jongin’s exhale. “It didn’t mean anything.” On that, Chanyeol thinks, he sounds much more sure.

Chanyeol swallows, hard, and pushes away from the wall, quietly walking back towards he and Jongin’s room. Then he makes a lot of noise, and then walks out to the kitchen.

“Good morning,” Junmyeon says brightly, when he steps in. Sehun snorts and adds more sugar to his coffee. Junmyeon clicks his teeth and tries to snatch the cup away, because ‘Sehun’s too young to be addicted to coffee’, but Sehun dodges, and takes a giant, showy sip.

“Is it?” Chanyeol asks, but then he remembers he’s Chanyeol, and he smiles.

When Kyungsoo and Jongin join them later, Chanyeol does his best to pretend Jongin doesn’t exist. It’s just until he figures things out, he tells his stomach, when it starts hissing at him, but even with those reassurances, it’s hard to choke breakfast down.


“What does a kiss mean?”

Baekhyun looks up at Chanyeol for a moment, before letting his gaze drop back down to his clean laundry. He’s painstakingly folding it, and Chanyeol has never seen Baekhyun so careful with his underwear. “Did you make out with Jongin?”

Chanyeol’s so surprised he almost drops his glass of water. ”But—“

“Chanyeol, please.” Baekhyun moves all of his underwear off his lap and onto his neatly made bed. Chanyeol’s not sure if it’s his friend in front of him, or some bodysnatcher from another planet who sweeps the floor and triangle-folds his boxer-briefs. But then Baekhyun pats the bed next to him and Chanyeol pads deeper into the room to sit down. “It was only a matter of time.”

“You knew this might happen,” Chanyeol accuses, and Baekhyun scrunches his nose.

“Well, yeah,” Baekhyun says, and Chanyeol wants to shove him.

“He said he didn’t hate me.” Chanyeol’s fingers pick at the sleeves of his sweatshirt. “And then.”

Baekhyun laughs, and Chanyeol flushes. “You sound like a teenage girl.”

“I am a teenager,” Chanyeol fires back, and shoves at Baekhyun. All of the carefully stacked briefs fall to the floor, so Baekhyun shoves him back. The end up beating each other with Baekhyun’s pillows until they’re breathless, and Baekhyun falls backwards on the bed hugging one pillow to his chest. The bed is a mess now, and maybe this is still his friend after all.

“I told you he didn’t hate you.”

“Not hating me isn’t the same as-“ Chanyeol still can’t say it. He wonders if his voice would sound like Jongin’s had, where the word kiss came out as more like the croak of a dying bird than an admission of intimacy. “You know.”

“Swapping spit?” Baekhyun says, and Chanyeol hits him with a pillow again. “Hey! I am listening to your teenage girl woes. So stop hitting me.”

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel?” Chanyeol would be lying if he said he hadn’t liked it. Liked the slick, inexperienced movements of Jongin’s lips against his own, and the way Jongin’s tongue had explored his mouth so desperately. The fact that he had enjoyed it; that he wouldn’t mind doing it again, makes him feel guilty. And other things too. And it doesn’t help that every time Jongin looks at him he can feel a combination of regret and of longing coming from his band mate, and it’s making it harder for Chanyeol to figure out which feelings are his own.

What he does know is that the bond had loved it. Chanyeol had woken up feeling amazing for the first time in a long time. He’d felt energized, and like he could smile and be EXO-K’s Happy Virus with an ease he hasn’t had in a long while.

“You guys are soul bonded,” Baekhyun says, poking Chanyeol’s side. “The closer you get, the better? I guess? It seems like your bodies want you to be closer, anyway.”

“Yeah,” Chanyeol says, and closes his eyes to block out Baekhyun’s amusement.

“Did you like it?” Chanyeol’s hands drop the pillow to come up and touch his cheeks to see if they’re actually as hot as they feel.

“The bond liked it,” Chanyeol says. “Everything went white behind my eyes. And the snakes went away. And my fingertips tingled.”

“Are you sure you guys just made out?” Baekhyun cackles as Chanyeol falls back on the bed and spreads out in the messed up sheets like he’s making a snow angel.

“Yes,” Chanyeol hisses, and Baekhyun laughs and lies back with him, head resting on Chanyeol’s arm.

“But did you like it?”

“I already answered that.”

“No,” Baekhyun says, and rolls onto his side so he can look at Chanyeol directly. Chanyeol looks back, and doesn’t feel the jump in his stomach, or the need to drag Baekhyun closer. “You said the bond liked it. You are not the bond. Did you like it?”

Chanyeol considers. He thinks about Jongin’s hands pulling at his hair and Jongin’s fingers dragging down the back of his neck, and how Jongin’s lips were chapped. He thinks about the warmth, and about the way their teeth had clacked together, and the way Jongin’s thigh had fit between his own.


“For the record,” Baekhyun says, when it’s clear Chanyeol isn’t going to say anything else, “you’re not supposed to feel any particular way when you kiss someone. It only has to mean what you want it to mean.”

“So it can mean nothing?” Chanyeol asks, and remembers Jongin’s vehement statement to Kyungsoo that the kiss hadn’t meant anything at all. Even now, it makes his stomach fall. At least there aren’t any snakes.

“I don’t know about that,” Baekhyun says, and Chanyeol can taste Jongin’s mouth when he licks his lips.


Chanyeol has never been observant.

He’s so concerned with what he’s doing (is he being funny enough, is he putting enough power behind his smile, is he charming everyone enough with his image that they’ll like him?) that it’s hard for him to take a step back to watch other people. It’s not that he doesn’t care; it’s more that there’s more than a little bit of narcissism in him that makes him think that the way other people react to him has everything to do with him and nothing to do with them.

Only now, Chanyeol is looking at Jongin for the first time without trying to get his attention, and he’s seeing all sorts of things he’s never noticed.

The strangest thing is maybe the way Jongin looks at Chanyeol, eyes unsure unless they’re on stage, where he responds, now, to all of Chanyeol’s onstage antics, maybe like he’s hoping that it means Chanyeol will respond to his pleading looks when they’re off.

It’s always been Chanyeol looking at Jongin with hesitancy, and Chanyeol who has always wanted Jongin to like him, and Chanyeol who feels lost when Jongin doesn’t respond.

And maybe that’s what makes it easier for Chanyeol to see all sorts of other things, like how Jongin is quick to touch but shies away from being touched, or how Jongin doesn’t laugh easily but when he laughs it’s always honestly. Or like how Jongin’s terrible jokes are never funny but Sehun always laughs at them anyway because that moment before anyone responds Jongin looks so anxious. Jongin jumps at loud noises and shies away from claps, but he smirks when people think he’s sexy because he thinks he’s sexy too.

Chanyeol also notices Jongin’s mouth. A lot. And he thinks, hopes, that it’s the fault of a soul bond that neither of them chose.

It’s a week after Chanyeol starts being observant that he carefully holds out his hand to Jongin, when Jongin’s finished changing into his pajamas. He doesn’t touch him, but instead offers himself up to be touched.

Jongin stares at his hand for a moment, and then quickly searches Chanyeol’s eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Chanyeol says. “I didn’t know you didn’t like people to touch you.” His voice is still too loud. But maybe Jongin’s gotten used to it, and even if he hasn’t, Chanyeol’s not sure it’s even something he wants to be different about himself. He likes his voice. He likes the way it’s a surprise.

Jongin’s eyes widen. “It’s-“

“So if you want,” Chanyeol says, and scratches the back of his neck carefully with his other hand, “you can touch me.” Chanyeol laughs, even if it’s hard to do it around the bond, which surges and claws up Chanyeol’s sternum like it would be extending a hand too, if it could. Jongin’s distorted threads of emotion radiate through the bond, and Chanyeol cautiously lets them twist with his own.

Jongin doesn’t take his hand. “I keep hurting you.”

“I’m very stubborn,” Chanyeol replies. “And kind of stupid-“ Jongin’s hands push flat into his chest, and his mouth tastes just the same as it slants over Chanyeol’s. Just as soft. Just as much like cinnamon.

“You’re so stupid,” Jongin says, and then his tongue slides along the back of Chanyeol’s teeth. When he pulls away, lips swollen and shiny and eyes glittering, Chanyeol is almost mesmerized by the way his eyes “What do you want from me?”

There are hundreds of answers, and Chanyeol thinks any of them might be accurate at any given time. “What don’t I?” is all he responds, and then Jongin finally, finally, takes his hand.


"i think i’ve lost my mind" Chanyeol sends to Wu Fan later that night, as Jongin clutches sleepily at his shirt. It reminds Chanyeol of how they’d fit together in the hospital, only in reverse, Jongin’s face falling into the curve between his neck and shoulder.

Wu Fan writes back immediately, but all it says is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and Chanyeol wonders if that’s Wu Fan’s way of saying that ship had set sail long ago.


Jongin’s hand brushes Chanyeol’s as they both reach for the gochujang, and Jongin slides his fingers across the back of Chanyeol’s knuckles. The bond shivers with pleasure, and Chanyeol’s throat feels dry.

“Okay, that was weird,” Sehun says, and Baekhyun stifles a laugh behind his hand.

Jongin immediately flushes and hides both of his hands beneath the table as Junmyeon clears his throat. “Sehun, please.”

“That was totally weird, though,” Sehun says. “I’m trying to eat, not watch my best friends pet each other.”

“I was not-“ Jongin begins hotly, but then Kyungsoo is patting his arm and Baekhyun has dropped his head down into his arms. His shoulders are shaking, and Chanyeol can hear his barely muffled chuckles.

“We’re just… still not used to it,” Junmyeon says. “Since until recently it’s been like nothing has changed, even though we’ve known that you’re bonded. You know?”

“Nothing has changed,” Chanyeol says, forcing a wide smile onto his face.

Baekhyun’s shoulders start shaking harder, so Chanyeol kicks him under the table. It seems silly to pretend, when four out of the six people at the table are aware that Chanyeol and Jongin have made out at least once, but it makes Chanyeol feel better, and, judging by the loosening of tension in Chanyeol’s gut, it makes Jongin feel better too.

“Well,” Junmyeon says, combing out his bangs with his fingers to distract himself from the awkwardness of the situation. “If you say so.”

“Why would anything have changed?” Jongin asks. “Chanyeol still drives me up a wall.” Jongin stares down at his bibimbap. “He still doesn’t know my favorite color.”

“Do you know mine?” Chanyeol says, still smiling even as he feels his palms get sweaty.

“Boys,” Kyungsoo says, and Chanyeol is older than Kyungsoo, even if EXO isn’t a band that plays much into hierarchies.

“Yeah but now you guys are like, destined lovers, or something,” Sehun says. “Your souls were two halves of a whole. So obviously it’s hard to keep looking at you as frenemies.”

“Souls aren’t personalities,” Chanyeol says, and his cheeks are starting to hurt so he takes a bite of his food. There isn’t enough gochujang. He wonders if it’s safe to reach for it again. “Baekhyun says we’re like a circular container and a square lid.”

“Only Baekhyun would be dumb enough to compare you guys to containers-“ Baekhyun smacks Sehun on the back of his head. “Whatever, we can pretend as long as you like as long as the petting is kept to a minimum.”

Chanyeol thinks about Jongin’s tongue in his mouth and wonders what Sehun would have to say about that. The thought of it makes him flush, and it also… makes his stomach knot up, and that’s not something he wants Jongin to feel and so he has to make it go away.

Baekhyun’s still laughing as Chanyeol pushes his lunch away from him.

“I’m going to go take a shower.”

“At least finish your lunch,” Kyungsoo says, and Chanyeol just keeps smiling and doesn’t look at Jongin.

“No, I’m okay,” Chanyeol says. “Not much growing left to do.” He waves a hand at himself. “I’ll survive.” Sehun reaches across the table and proceeds to dump the contents of Chanyeol’s bowl into his own without comment, and Baekhyun has finally stopped laughing long enough to give Chanyeol a worried look. Chanyeol gives him a genuine smile, and excuses himself from the room.


The first time Chanyeol touched himself and thought about a guy instead of a girl, he had been sixteen, and the guy had been Kim Jongin. He hadn’t meant to, at all. He’d been thinking about a girl in his high school class. She had long hair and pretty eyes and a nice smile and great boobs, and Chanyeol had been thinking about what they might taste like when it happened. Chanyeol closed his eyes, and thought about her smile, and instead of her face, it had been Jongin’s, and Chanyeol had been so surprised he hadn’t slowed down as he got closer, and he’s ended up ejaculating all over his shirt and stomach and hand instead of into a tissue.

When he tried to analyze it, later, after the wave of nausea and stark hysteria had passed, he realized that Jongin looked an awful lot like the girl in his class, and that was most likely why his brain had made the connection. Jongin just looked like her, and he saw way too much of Jongin. That was all.

But when three days later, it happened again, only this time he thought about Jongin the whole time, spilling over his hand imagining those pretty lips around the head of his cock, Chanyeol had to admit to himself that it was probably more that she looked like Jongin, and not the other way around.

Chanyeol reassured himself that it was normal to think about someone you see all the time like that. After awhile, he started to believe it.


Chanyeol slides a hand under the elastic, and quietly sighs as his fingers slowly wrap around his erection. He can still hear Baekhyun’s light, cheerful voice entertaining everyone else over the sounds of metal spoons clanging against ceramic bowls, and he can hear Kyungsoo’s laughs mixing with Junmyeon’s.

He can’t hear Jongin, but maybe that’s for the best. Chanyeol closes his eyes, and thinks about Jongin’s kisses, instead.

Chanyeol doesn’t think the kisses are supposed to be so sexual to him. He and Jongin haven’t really talked about them, but Chanyeol knows they exist because of the bond. The bond pulls them together, and rewards their kisses with extended periods of distance, and more energy, and better sleep. That’s why Jongin does it, Chanyeol is sure, but Chanyeol would be lying if he said that was the only reason he let Jongin do it.

The truth is, Chanyeol finds the slippery heat of Jongin’s mouth addictive, and when Baekhyun had asked him if he liked it, kissing Jongin, and he’d thought about it, somehow the answer was overwhelmingly and obviously yes.

Chanyeol slides his thumb over the tip, collecting the tiny bit of moisture there, and then slides his hand back down the shaft with a shudder. Chanyeol can feel those stupid snakes again, coiling as tightly as the arousal does in his belly, but he tries to ignore them as he focuses on the pleasure of his own hand.

He works himself faster, and thinks about Jongin’s tongue on his neck, and Jongin’s teeth biting into his lower lip and the way Jongin makes these quiet, desperate sounds whenever Chanyeol pulls away for air. It’s easy, Chanyeol thinks, to imagine the noises Jongin would make, if Chanyeol could touch him like this.

And then the door is opening, and it is Jongin who steps inside.

“Why did you come in?” Chanyeol says, jerking his hand out of his briefs. It comes out strained and breathy. “You knew what I was doing.” Chanyeol tries not to feel embarrassed, but it is hard not to, with the way Jongin is staring at him, leaning against the closed door. “I know that you know what I was doing.”

Chanyeol knows when Jongin is taking care of himself, too. Jongin usually does it in the shower, and Chanyeol can feel the way pleasure builds itself up and spills through the bond, and sometimes even just the echo of it is enough to make Chanyeol hard.

“Yeah,” Jongin says. “I did.” His fingers are tapping nonsensical rhythms into the wood of the door, and Chanyeol’s cock is begging to be touched but Jongin is still just standing there, staring at him. Chanyeol wishes that didn’t make him harder.

“Then why-“

“You were…” Jongin stops, and his hair falls into his face, and he’s worrying at his lip. “You were thinking about me. While you-“ Jongin flushes. “I could feel you thinking about me.”

“Oh,” Chanyeol says, and he tries to think of a way to explain it, or deny it, but he comes up blank. All he does come up with is that weird trapped feeling he used to get around Jongin, before, where he felt like all his words and all his actions were the wrong ones.

Jongin, though, doesn’t seem to be waiting for any more words from Chanyeol.

“Can I-“ he starts, and Chanyeol tries to get rid of all the extra spit in his mouth as Jongin steps away from the door and closer to Chanyeol’s bed.

“Can you what?” Chanyeol asks, or would have asked, had Jongin not straddled him and claimed his mouth.

Oh, Chanyeol thinks, and then he’s surrendering to it, letting Jongin in. It’s become habit, already, to open beneath Jongin’s demanding mouth, and Chanyeol’s got lots of habits that get him into trouble but none as much as this one.

And then Jongin is pulling at his shirt, and Chanyeol raises his arms and lets Jongin drag it up and off. As an afterthought, he pulls his own off as well, and Chanyeol tentatively stretches his hands along the bare expanse of Jongin’s back. The skin isn’t smooth; Chanyeol can feel a few raised bumps as his hands rub wide exploratory circles, but Jongin’s skin is so warm and the bond seems to love the way it presses them bare chest to bare chest.

Of course the snakes go quiet, Chanyeol thinks, even as thinking becomes harder to do when Jongin roughly pushes him down. “I don’t know-“ And there’s a lick of rage, oh so familiar from the first time they’d fought in this room, and Chanyeol’s hazy with kisses and the bond and just the sheer unexpectedness of this entire situation, but he can’t ignore it.

“Do you hate me?” Chanyeol asks, and Jongin shakes his head in the negative, eyes falling to Chanyeol’s chest, eyes tracing lines down Chanyeol’s smooth, pale chest. Chanyeol has pretty skin, and no marks. He’d wanted to be famous too bad to play sports, so he hasn’t got any scars or marks along his skin except the ones earned by an everyday sort of clumsiness.

“I hate that I don’t have any control right now,” Jongin says, and Chanyeol takes short, panting breaths as Jongin shifts, brushing their clothed cocks together.

“You have a little,” Chanyeol admits. “Over me.”

Jongin swallows harshly at that, and rubs his hands down Chanyeol’s torso once, before coming up again and scratching lightly on the way back down. Chanyeol squirms, and Jongin kisses him again, slow. Lingering.

“You-“ he whispers against Chanyeol’s mouth, and Chanyeol waits for whatever condemnation Jongin will offer him, but none is forthcoming, and now Jongin’s nails are digging deep enough to burn. Chanyeol’s briefs and Jongin’s denim find their way to the floor, and this is both too fast and not fast enough. Chanyeol’s not sure if it is him or the bond that clamors for more skin-to-skin, but Chanyeol thinks Jongin craves it as much as Chanyeol does, if the whines that he’s making against Chanyeol’s cheek are any indication.

Jongin’s nails carve welts into Chanyeol’s skin. Chanyeol hisses, because it’s the thin line between pain and pleasure. It mirrors the way he feels when Jongin holds his hand; caught between falling and flying, bond there hold them tightly in place.

“I want-“

“Yeah,” Chanyeol says, and the bond is pulling them closer together, rewarding every press of Jongin’s lips to Chanyeol’s neck with tremors that rock through them both. Skin, dewy and warm, slides together as Chanyeol lifts his hips for friction, curling one hand around the back of Jongin’s neck and the other around Jongin’s hip. “Me too.”

Jongin bites down, and that stings, but Chanyeol welcomes it as easily as he welcomes Jongin’s hips grinding down. Closer, the bond seems to whisper, and Chanyeol can do nothing but heed the call, dragging his hand from Jongin’s neck down the bumps and ridges of his spine, until he finds the waistband of Jongin’s briefs.

There’s a spike of fear that isn’t his own that makes him pause, and he murmurs “may I?” into the hollow of Jongin’s throat.

Yes,” Jongin exhales, voice almost as low as Chanyeol’s own, and Chanyeol’s hands venture further, to the smooth skin of Jongin’s ass. The elastic digs into his wrists, and Jongin’s teeth dig in behind his ear.


“Where people can see,” Jongin finishes, and he soothes the bite with a lick, an unexpected bit of tenderness that makes Chanyeol’s heart jump. The bond feels strong, thrumming with energy. The snakes in Chanyeol’s stomach are nowhere to be found as Jongin’s clothed erection pushes into his abs. “Is this close enough?”

Chanyeol doesn’t answer, but he’s not entirely sure that Jongin is talking to him, anyway.

Then Jongin’s lips are fumbling for his, missing twice, thrice, before finally finding Chanyeol’s lower lip and pulling it between his own. Chanyeol opens his eyes, and Jongin’s face is too close for his eyes to focus, but he catches a glimpse of the wide bridge of Jongin’s nose, and Jongin’s eyelashes, maybe. His limbs are aflame with his desire, and Jongin’s, too, tangled in inextricable vines.

Chanyeol pushes down, and his hands drag at Jongin’s briefs. Jongin pulls away, pushing up and off of Chanyeol to slide them off and toss them aside. Chanyeol watches him, admiring the lean lines of Jongin’s thighs. Jongin’s body, to Chanyeol, always looks like a clock that’s been wound too tight, tension in his arms and belly.

Chanyeol’s body is too loose, and missing a few gears. Even in this, they are opposites.

“Don’t look at me like that.” Jongin is staring at Chanyeol’s chest; at the lines he’s left there, maybe. His cock is dark and flush against his belly. The snakes are back, so Chanyeol slides his hand slowly up Jongin’s calf to soothe them. Jongin shivers.

“Like what?” Chanyeol’s tongue feels heavy, like he’s sleepy, but he’s not. Chanyeol is wide awake, and he misses the weight of Jongin on top of him; falling into him.

“Like you like me.”

There’s nothing Chanyeol can do but smile. He’s not sure what kind of smile it is, but it stretches on his face wide and sure, revealing each and every white tooth. “I do like you,” Chanyeol says. “I’ve always liked-“

Jongin shuts him up with a kiss. Their teeth clack, because Chanyeol is still smiling, and Jongin still kisses a little too hard, but it’s enough to make them both burn white hot.

When their erections brush, Jongin whines into Chanyeol’s mouth, and Chanyeol wants to hear it again.

They both come like that, Jongin’s hands digging bruises into Jongin’s waist as Chanyeol pulls him down, closer, breathing into each other as their hips crush together, friction and desperation and an overwhelming need to touch.

When it’s over, and Chanyeol looks up at Jongin’s face, Jongin’s shaky arms barely supporting his weight, Chanyeol thinks Jongin is beautiful, and his heart inexplicably squeezes.

It’s an unsettling feeling that has nothing to do with the bond, Chanyeol thinks, and that might be Chanyeol’s scariest revelation yet.

part iv

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December 2012

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