Word count: 2.3k
Summary: Taekwoon goes back to rubbing Jaehwan’s neck, dragging the blunt of his nail over the edges of the inked roses he knows by heart. Hongbin encircles his arms around Jaehwan’s slim waist and pushes his face into the crook of Jaehwan’s neck where his soulmate tattoo burns just a little warmer.
Taekwoon pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose, squinting down at his textbook trying to make out the small print beneath a figure. The words are still blurring together beneath the picture of a graph, of which he doesn’t know what it’s trying to explain or what he’s been reading for the last twenty minutes. He thinks for a moment that it might be the prescription of his glasses wearing out until he finally makes out the time on his watch. It’s almost 3 AM and the only thing that’s been driving him to this point was the sheer panic for his Neuroscience final tomorrow afternoon. Or that afternoon, really.
He lifts up his glasses to rub at his tired eyes, sighing as the spots fade from his vision. He pulls up the hood of his sweatshirt and glances around at the mess of finals panic around him. The living room was awful between the papers and books strewn everywhere and the mess of blankets, pillows, and winter clothes thrown about the room. Taekwoon’s own room was a mess due to finals but Jaehwan’s was worse. Jaehwan, who had passed out on his lap after claiming that studying beneath the coffee table would be productive, hasn’t cleaned his room in the last week and Hongbin had refused to step foot in it. The floor had disappeared beneath his clothes and his art supplies splayed out everywhere. The pieces of his portfolio were tucked away in the safest corner, namely his bed because he’d fallen asleep nearly every night on the couch or in Taekwoon’s bed.
Hongbin had been quietly suffering through the mess in the apartment. The stress of his own Renaissance Europe course kept him busy and distracted enough to not clean the entire apartment, but Taekwoon always saw the signs of it when he was exceptionally stressed. Sometimes the mountain of dishes disappeared from the sink or all of their beds had been made, even if they all only climbed into Taekwoon’s bed every night. Taekwoon had stress baked at one point and Hongbin had happily cleaned up afterwards as an excuse to step away from studying.
Taekwoon glances over at Hongbin, who had sunk low into fold up plush chair and had his feet propped up on the lower rung of the coffee table. He was still clicking away on his laptop, writing one of his many final papers, but his head kept lolling off to the side and his eyes continued to flutter shut. His sweatshirt had ridden up on his left side, revealing the tattoo of moon phases beginning at the top of his hip and disappearing beneath his sweater where it ended at his top rib. A tattoo of the Canis Major constellation was just visible on his hip where it sank beneath the band of his sweatpants. Hongbin wakes up enough to look at him sleepily before glancing back at his laptop and delving back into his paper.
“You have that look on your face,” he murmurs, dark eyes peeking over the edge of his laptop. His bangs are a mess over his forehead and Taekwoon feels a familiar spark at the tips of his finger to comb it down into place.
Taekwoon shifts quietly, careful not to startle Jaehwan still peacefully asleep in his lap. “What look?”
Hongbin ducks behind his laptop, presses a few keys to save his paper, then looks back over the top. “That look you always get when you look at my soulmate tattoos.”
Careful not to move enough to wake Jaehwan, Taekwoon sinks back into the sofa supporting him and sighs fondly, unable to help the smile crossing his face as he looks up at Hongbin. His heart flutters for a moment, stuttering as Hongbin begins to flush. It feels like his heart’s in a knot when Hongbin’s cheeks burn red and he pulls up the sides of his hood to hide his face.
“Would you stop,” Hongbin murmurs, squirming in his seat. He wiggles as he tries to curl up on himself in such a small chair. Taekwoon feels the tattoo of blooming roses on the inside of his left wrist burn beneath the edge of his sleeve. Hongbin presses his hand to the inked moon phases on his side for a moment, likely until the heat subsides.
In the comfortable silence that envelops them again, Taekwoon looks down fondly at Jaehwan, pushing his fingertips through his rough, freshly colored blonde hair. He slides Jaehwan’s thick frames off his nose, folding them up neatly and putting them on Jaehwan’s art history textbook. Jaehwan is still sound asleep, plush pink lips pushed out and cheek pressed on Taekwoon’s thigh, hands clutching subtly at the leg of Taekwoon’s pants. His legs are splayed out like a child’s, his shorts have ridden up almost enough that they can see the moon phases wrapped around his upper right thigh. Jaehwan has slept the least out of all of them during finals. He usually sleeps the least regardless, being an architecture major, but Taekwoon always feels a little pang of sympathy when he wakes Jaehwan up in the morning and his dark circles seem to be getting even worse.
Hongbin sighs, squinting at his laptop screen as he tries to confirm the time. Taekwoon catches him glancing between the both of them. “It’s nearly three. We should just call it a night and go to bed.”
Taekwoon almost rejects because the surging panic of last minute cramming floods him, but he realizes that not even coffee could help any of them at this point.
He runs the pad of his thumb over Jaehwan’s neck, over the tattoo of blooming roses winding around his throat. He pinches the skin lightly until Jaehwan groans and his eyes flutter open.
“I’m studying, ‘swear it,” he mumbles, blearily blinking up at Taekwoon. He slaps his hand out on his textbook, nearly smashing his glasses. “Just gotta get through four more chapters.”
Hongbin chuckles, shutting his laptop and coming to lay down half atop Jaehwan. He encircles his arms around Jaehwan’s slim waist and pushes his face into the crook of Jaehwan’s neck where his soulmate tattoo burns just a little warmer. “It’s bedtime for all of us,” he says.
Jaehwan pouts, brows furrowed as he looks up at Taekwoon. “But I’m not done,” he whines, fingers sleepily clinging to Taekwoon’s thigh like he’s trying to grip the edges of his consciousness. Taekwoon smiles gently and pushes out the wrinkles in Jaehwan’s brow.
“Bed,” he whispers.
They lay like that lazily for a bit, long enough for Jaehwan to almost drift back to sleep and for Taekwoon to finish up the last of the chapter he’d been reading. Hongbin, laying on Jaehwan’s stomach, had stared in horror at his paper and the amount of gibberish he’d written in his half asleep state. His panic can be easily felt by all of them, the inked roses flaring hot every time Hongbin furiously rewrites something he’d written. It takes a painful hiss from Jaehwan to tug on Hongbin’s ears to get him to stop.
“Your paper is fine,” Jaehwan mumbles. “Quit it.”
Taekwoon goes back to rubbing Jaehwan’s neck, dragging the blunt of his nail over the edges of the roses he knows by heart. Hongbin looks back at them pathetically, biting down on his bottom lip. He drags his hand over the constellation on his hip and sighs. “Sorry.”
When they’ve all wrapped up what they can it’s nearly 3:30 and Taekwoon is sure his eyes are blinking a second off from each other. Jaehwan nearly smacks him in the face trying to take his glasses off with his eyes closed, but he manages somehow. Hongbin is the first to get up, setting his laptop on the table and stretching out his stiff limbs. His sweatpants slip off his hip a little, revealing even more of Jaehwan’s soulmate mark, dark on his pale skin. Jaehwan snickers, mouth tugging up into a smile eyes gleaming bright. Taekwoon flicks his forehead gently before rolling him off his lap and standing up himself.
“Why are you both so mean to me,” he murmurs, petulant like a child. He drags himself up and stumbles against Taekwoon, limbs still heavy with exhaustion. “I haven’t slept all week.”
Which is partially true. He’s probably slept two hours a night with paint on his cheek and fingers sticky with epoxy.
Hongbin steps closer, resting his hand on Jaehwan’s waist. “Love you too,” he whispers, running his thumb across the reddened edges of the ink on Jaehwan’s neck. He stands on the tips of his toes just to kiss him, fingers pressing into the skin of his hip. Jaehwan’s breath audibly catches and Taekwoon can feel his Canis Major tattoo flare on the inside of his right wrist.
“Stop that,” Jaehwan whines, leaning back more heavily against Taekwoon. “We’re supposed to go to bed.”
Hongbin nods, hair flopping over his eyes as he smiles gently. “I’m gonna go brush my teeth,” he says before shuffling off before them to the bathroom.
Jaehwan reaches behind him, wrapping his fingers around Taekwoon’s wrist and pulling him off to bed. The rough pads of his fingers press into the stars of the constellation and Taekwoon shivers, even beneath the warmth of his sweater. He lets Jaehwan pull him off to his bedroom without much resistance.
He climbs into bed first, curling up so he fits underneath the comforter and tugging his hood further over his head. Jaehwan climbs into bed on his right side, taking hold of his wrist and tracing the pattern of the constellation mindlessly. He leans up and kisses Taekwoon, heat flaring warm in his thigh and Taekwoon’s wrist. Taekwoon’s eyes are bright when he pulls away, looking down at him with an incredible fierceness.
Hongbin climbs into bed on Taekwoon’s left soon after, snuggling into Taekwoon’s side and taking hold of his left wrist. He traces the roses there before his fingers still suddenly. “Can you set your phone alarm early? I need to get up and finish my research paper in the morning.”
Taekwoon can’t help but pout, freeing his hand from Jaehwan to comb through Hongbin’s hair. “You’re still stressed out about that,” he murmurs, lips cool on the warm skin of Hongbin’s shoulder.
“It’s worth 40 percent of my grade,” he sighs, swallowing thickly. When their eyes meet, he suddenly looks so much smaller. “I just need to do well on it.”
Taekwoon nods, sneaking his hand beneath Hongbin’s sleep shirt and laying it flat on his side. Like this, Hongbin looks like the kid Taekwoon’s been in love with his whole life. They had grown up on the same street together, they’d been friends since Hongbin had scared away the dog that had bitten Taekwoon’s hand when he’d gotten too close to it at the park between their houses. Hongbin had looked up at him with the same dark eyes when Taekwoon turned 18 and they’d been curled up in his bed at night when three tattoos had appeared on his skin.
It had scared the both of them at that time because Hongbin still had three more years until he turned 18. Sometimes, it felt like Taekwoon was falling apart because the nights where he’d think about how long he and Hongbin would truly last if they weren’t soulmates felt like forever, and the presence of a third tattoo scared him even more. He wasn’t ready for the future, and looking back at Hongbin, he knew the younger wasn’t ready for it either.
Taekwoon presses a kiss to his forehead, heaving a sigh under his breath. He feels an arm snake around his waist and Jaehwan’s hand reaches out lazily and lands on Hongbin’s stomach.
“You’re a literary genius,” Jaehwan mumbles, pulled halfway back into the realm of sleep. “Even if you wrote your paper two hours before class about shitty Renaissance art you’d manage to ace the paper.”
At that, Hongbin cracks a smile. He rubs the back of Jaehwan’s hand in silent thanks.
They’d met Jaehwan under much different circumstances. Hongbin was already a sophomore in university and Jaehwan had been the teaching assistant for his introductory astronomy course. Jaehwan, as busy as he was as an architecture major, loved the stars and constellations and had no problem making time for students who wanted to talk with him about the class. Hongbin had never gone to Jaehwan until he’d been out sick for a few days. Jaehwan was sweet and his eyes were always bright, but he’d always wear a turtleneck sweater or a choker so that no one could make out the soulmate tattoo on his neck.
Hongbin had only realized it when Jaehwan pulled up his sleeves and revealed the tattoo of Canis Major on his right wrist, the one that had matched Taekwoon’s exactly. It had taken a lot more coaxing, both Taekwoon and Hongbin showing the Canis Major constellation on their bodies before Jaehwan had the courage to pull away the thick choker and reveal the blooming roses around his throat in the same design as on Hongbin’s shoulder and Taekwoon’s left wrist. They’d been living together since, and somehow Jaehwan had filled the space between them perfectly, truly fated for them.
Taekwoon exhales, laying flat on his back and trying to get comfortable after setting his alarm as Hongbin and Jaehwan curl up on each of his sides. The anxiety of his final tomorrow keeps him awake the longest, counting Hongbin’s every inhale and Jaehwan’s every exhale like an old clock ticking in perfect harmony. Taekwoon slips into the lull of his soulmates warming him through to his heart and pulling him back into sleep.
He falls asleep to the sound of Hongbin’s and Jaehwan’s heartbeats filling up the space around him.
Author's Notes: Just to be clear about the soulmate tattoos: Taekwoon's mark is the moon phases and it's located between his shoulder blades, Jaehwan's thigh, and Hongbin's ribs; Jaehwan's mark is the Canis Major constellation and it's located on his right wrist, Taekwoon's right wrist, and Hongbin's hip bone; Hongbin's mark is the blooming roses and it's located on his shoulder, Jaehwan's throat, and Taekwoon's left wrist ^~^.