ice.cream

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Living with her soulmate was an experience, or perhaps Rose should say living with her soulmate and his group members. With Chan, they got into a routine. It took a while to get used to sharing a bed. She even asked him if he was sure it was okay, offering to sleep on the sofa, but his reply was that if she wasn't comfortable then he would sleep on the floor. Since that wasn't the issue, the subject was dropped and not mentioned again.

The other three occupants of the flat were another matter though.

Rose and Changbin grew closer. The two would hang out whenever the rapper was free or if Chan had a meeting or somewhere he couldn't bring Rose along. Her soulmate still wouldn't let her out of his sight, and only seemed to trust leaving her with Changbin. If it went on for much longer, she knew she would have to say something because it was starting to get ridiculous.

Jisung being mad at her didn't last long. The first morning Rose made breakfast for everyone and as soon as the younger rapper entered the kitchen and saw her, he made a beeline for her and wrapped her in a tight hug. He made her promise not to disappear on him again.

A couple of nights later, they got to spend some time just the two of them and he told her everything that had happened while she was gone. How he hadn't felt as safe without her looking out for them, and he remembered to do the calming exercises she had taught him. In return, Rose told him her side of the story, or at least most of it, leaving out what Mr JYP himself had threatened.

After that Jisung tended to follow her around like a lost puppy, watching her while she cooked for them, trying to snag the seat next to her in the car, and constantly asking her opinion on things. It was cute and Rose really didn't mind, but between him, Changbin and her hovering soulmate, she barely had a second alone and it was starting to wear on her.

Hyunjin, however, hadn't changed his attitude towards her. He continued to ignore her, refusing to even speak to her. Every time he pretended that she wasn't there, she felt a pang in her chest. Every meal she cooked for them, she had to watch as he didn't eat what she had prepared. When he wouldn't eat the snacks - his favourite ones - during a rehearsal break just because she had bought them, it was the last straw for Chan.

"Rose, babe, could you go get some water, please? We've run out in here."

"Of course. Be back in a minute."

"I'll go with you."

Chan watched Changbin and Rose leave the room before he turned to Hyunjin.

"This has got to stop."

"What?"

"You know what."

"So? I don't want to eat the snacks. What's the big deal?"

The atmosphere in the dance studio was tense. The rest of the group froze as they looked between their leader and Hyunjin. The tone of the younger's voice had them on edge. Chan was generally easygoing, but this was verging towards disrespectful.

Minho stepped closer to the two, angling his body towards Hyunjin, showing that he was backing Chan up.

"Hyunjin..."

"You're angry. I get it. We all do, but I will not tolerate any more of this behaviour towards my soulmate. Rose has apologised and the rest of us have forgiven her or are in the process of doing so. Whatever the case, none of us are treating her harshly and you have no reason to do so either."

"But -"

"I'm not asking you to forgive her, or like her even, but you cannot pretend she doesn't exist. You need time, take it. You need to talk, to her, to me, come to us anytime and we will listen. But Rose is here to stay, so deal with it."

Hyunjin's fists clenched at his sides and his shoulders were shaking, but he didn't say another word. His head dropped as he stood there for a moment before suddenly, he rushed out of the room.

"Hyun-"

Seungmin placed a hand on Chan's arm.

"I'll go after him, Hyung."

The main vocalist left the room and spotted Hyunjin entering the stairwell. Following him, the found his slightly older groupmate sitting on a step with his head in his hands. Without a word, the singer sat next to him and waited.

After a minute, Hyunjin sat up a little and leaned into Seungmin, resting his head on the singer's shoulder.

"Minnie... if I tell you something, can you promise to keep it a secret?"

Hyunjin didn't really need an answer - he already knew that he could tell Seungmin anything - but the singer gave him one anyway.

"Of course."

"I think... I think I love Rose. I-I didn't realise it before. I enjoyed her company and of course, I thought she was pretty, and funny, and kind. But after she left... it hurt, so much, more than it should."

Hyunjin sat up and looked at Seungmin before continuing.

"Min, how could I fall in love with Chan-Hyung's soulmate? What kind of friend am I?"

"Those two things have no relation. That's why you've been treating her like this. You've been trying to keep your distance."

"I feel awful every time I see her. On one hand, I'm so happy that she's back, but on the other... I don't know how to act around her."

"Normally. Hyunjin, love comes in many forms. Just because you love her doesn't mean that you want to steal her away from Chan-Hyung."

"It doesn't?"

"You do want to steal her away from Hyung?"

"What? No! Those two are made to be together. Rose has been so good for Chan-Hyung. He's happier and less stressed and - oh, uh, right... but... what do I do?"

"First, apologise to Rose. Try spending some time with her, be her friend, and see how you feel. Okay?"

"Okay. Thanks, Minnie."

"Anytime. Come on, let's go back in."

Seungmin waited for Hyunjin to nod in agreement before standing up and heading back to the practice room.

When they entered the room, the rest of the group were sitting on the floor chatting while Felix was in front of the mirrors with Rose. Everyone tensed up a little as Hyunjin entered but tried to carry on as they were. Felix tried to distract Rose whose expression had dropped by returning her focus to the dance steps he was trying to teach her.

Hyunjin hovered by the door for a moment before heading to the table and picking up the snacks Rose had bought them. As he sat down with the rest of the group, he caught Rose's eye in the mirror and held up the snack with a thumbs up and a hesitant smile. Relief flooded through him as she smiled at him in return, obviously happy with his gesture.

As he looked away, desperately trying to hold back the blush he felt, he felt someone else's eyes on him. Hyunjin gulped as he locked eyes with Chan. The leader had watched the exchange between his group mate and his soulmate. He nodded at Hyunjin, and the younger Idol shuffled closer to him.

"I'm so sorry, Hyung."

Chan ruffled Hyunjin's hair in response and the younger relaxed.

As he started eating, Hyunjin tried not to think about what he had just confessed to Seungmin. He felt a bit better after having spoken to someone about the confusing feelings he had been dealing with for the past couple of months. For now, he would focus on treating Rose just like any other of the members of his Stray Kids family, because really there wasn't anything else he could do.

A couple of days later he showed Rose the painting he had been working on. He had been hesitant to invite her to spend time with him at first, as he worried that he wouldn't be able to cope. However, it wasn't weird like he thought it might be. He just felt happy.

Hyunjin felt relieved. Perhaps he had been stressing over nothing. He could do this. He could just be friends with Rose. That could be enough for him. This could be as much as he needed. After all, she was his Hyung's soulmate, and she would always be that to him.

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