A/N: A series of unrelated tales inspired by Maroon 5's Daylight.
Summary: When the daylight comes I'll have to go, but tonight I need to hold you so close.
Even breathing was painful.
Everything was painful when you know it will all soon be memory.
Jaejoong sighed lazily, burying his face deeper into the comfort that was the warm pillow beneath him. He closed his eyes, listening to the familiar heartbeat of his pillow pressed against his face as the ache in his muscles relieved itself. He could not help but let a soft contented noise escape from his plush lips. Jaejoong was tired, so tired, but he could not let himself give in to sleep. He would not. He was going to treasure every moment before the sun rose.
He shut everything away, just counting the gentle and steady rise and fall of the pulse beneath his ear for a minute. Then he started over.
This was bliss. This was life. Just slowly savouring the warm heat, the gentle breaths, the welcoming softness of his personal pillow.
But this was also temporary; the calm before the storm; the lie before the tragedy. This was going to be nothing more than a memory. Just like everything else. And it hurt, hurt so much, to know that whatever he could memorise of the beautiful moments like these, even the most insignificant details, was going to be reduced to memories. Frail, fragile, malleable things they were. Damn memories; only serving to remind him that they were a shadow of the real thing – the beautiful wondrous real being Jaejoong could not take with him.
It was only when he felt the tender brush of a long slender finger across his cheek did Jaejoong realise he was crying. Again. He cracked open his eyes and lifted his head, smiling serenely at the man who was gazing at him so heartbrokenly. Yunho’s eyes were glassy, and Jaejoong could see his own tears reflected in those hazels. The way Yunho looked at him made Jaejoong feel he was the most precious being in the world. This, even despite Yunho, of all people, knew best all his imperfections and flaws. Jaejoong felt like he could soar under Yunho’s gaze. He felt strong, invincible. He wanted to etch this look of Yunho’s in his mind forever, burn it into the back of his eyelids. So that in the cold nights when he was feeling broken and tired and ugly and defeated, all he needed to do was close his eyes and he could feel whole again. And oh, he knew how many countless cruel nights he would have to endure from now on. He wanted to remember Yunho’s face; he needed to.
Still smiling, he clasped the hand on his face and slowly brought it to his lips, tasting his own salty tears on the calloused fingertips. Jaejoong entwined their fingers, nuzzling his cheek against their joint hands. His eyes fell shut again, letting his tactile sense busy itself with memorising every inch of how Yunho’s palm felt against his, how Yunho’s fingers felt against the back of his hand. He already knew this entire body as though it was his own, but what if one day he were to forget? What if he were to forget how Yunho felt, how his laughter sounded like, how he smelt like, how warm he always was, how he would look at Jaejoong, how his eyes expressed every emotion… What if Jaejoong one day forgot them all? He shuddered, feeling goosebumps break all over his alabaster skin. He could not bear even the thought of it; he hated it.
One arm reached around his torso and pulled him in even closer, experienced fingers running down his back to sooth him where words were fruitless.
“You look tired.”
“I am tired,” Jaejoong confirmed with a weary sigh. He had spent the past few months packing, up to the very last hour. Packing was so difficult, so exhausting. He had tried to pack in as much of Yunho and Changmin and this dorm of memories into his suitcases before he gave up. He had to take everything out again with the bitter realisation that it would just not be fair to take away a part of them just because he could not bear the leave them behind. He could not pack in Changmin’s laptop, where they had spent hours keysmashing over games; or the dining table, where all of them had bonded over the many conversations over meals. He could not take Bambi, which he would claim possession of when he shared late-night talks with Yunho in the leader’s room; or the couch in the living room, where numerous cushion fights and boisterous laughter had erupted. All he could take, Jaejoong realised sadly, were the memories of the past six years. The good, the bad; every single precious moment. And Jaejoong had long forged them into the photo album of his mind. Every smile, every tear; all of it.
“Get a quick nap then-”
“Hush and rest now. You had an exhausting day. I’ll wake you up when you have to- have to…” Yunho choked over his words, seemingly unable to voice out the impending cruel reality.
Jaejoong gave him a strong smile, much stronger than what he really felt inside. He reached out to pat Yunho’s head affectionately. He gave a quick glance at the clock on his bedside table, “It’s almost 5, Yunho-ah,” Jaejoong’s eyes absentmindedly darted to the ceiling, doing some quick calculations in his head, “I promised them I’ll be gone by the morning, so I still have about an-”
“Don’t say it,” Yunho hissed, each word coming out sharp and clear. His eyes fell south, heavy with desperation, “don’t say it. Don’t. Please.”
Jaejoong sighed, feeling a part of his heart shrivel and die. His impending departure had reduced their strong Leader-ssi to a child. Since the day all five of them had come to their decisions, they had both known this day would come. For months, they had discussed it, prepared for it, heck, they even had joked about it. But now as the minutes ticked by, Jaejoong could not help but wonder where all that time had gone to. How did those months fly by so fast? After all those months of preparation, he was still not ready to leave. Now, he had barely an hour left and there were still a million things he wanted to do.
Instead, Jaejoong just lay there on top of Yunho on his bed, cradling the sobbing man to his chest. He just wanted to savour these last few moments with his other half, where the whole world consisted of nothing but Yunho Yunho Yunho.
“Please don’t-” Yunho began, but let the words die in his throat. They were past all the pleading and begging and ugly fights and painful tears. They had long come to the quiet acceptance of what their respective decisions meant, for themselves, and for one another. But now that time was almost up, it was so hard to let go. Come daylight, they would no longer be whole, but splintered into two parts with jarring gaps that could never be filled again.
“Yunho-ah,” Jaejoong whispered tenderly, liking how the other man held him closer at every call of his name, “Yunho-ah…” he squeezed the younger man in his arms, mumbling soothing words of comfort only he knew how. “I want to take you with me,” he confessed, “you, and all our suitcases of memories… you know that, right? I’ll be so lost without you; but I’ll be strong. For Yoochun and Junsu, and for you and Changmin. I’ll miss you so much,” Jaejoong hated how badly his voice was shaking despite his best efforts to appear strong.
“I’ll never be far away, Jaejoong-ah,” Yunho pulled away slightly so he could look Jaejoong in the face. “I’m right here,” he uncurled one arm from around Jaejoong and pressed a finger gently at where Jaejoong’s heart resided under his sweater, feeling the beat pass from Jaejoong’s core into his own.
Jaejoong’s mouth fell ajar as fresh tears welled up in doe eyes. His heart swelled almost painfully where Yunho’s finger was, touching his very soul.
“And you are taking me with you… My heart, our memories… will always be with you, keeping you strong, keeping you safe.”
A pained cry left Jaejoong’s lips as he flung his arms around Yunho again; their two halves melding into each other; completing the gaps in each other’s souls. Their limbs wound tight around the other, unspoken promises sealed with their shared tears.
They cried and cried and cried until the sobs subsided, releasing all the pent up frustration and desperation they were once afraid to show. Hands grabbed at cloth and skin, wanting to remember every piece of the other as they held each other in a tight embrace. Jaejoong did not know how long he laid there in Yunho’s arms, but eventually the younger man’s sobs had dissolved into contented little snores. Despite the itch of the dried tear tracks on his cheeks, Jaejoong could not stop his lips from quirking up at the familiar noise. Yunho had earlier declared that he would not sleep tonight, but fatigue seemed to have overpowered his determination. After all, he had been helping Jaejoong pack all day.
A low drone of the first bus passed their street. Seoul was starting to stir as the last stars burned to their deaths in the brightening sky. With utmost care not to wake his sleeping pillow, Jaejoong slowly untangled his limbs from his safe harbour that was Yunho. A frown creased their leader’s forehead and instincts caused him to hold Jaejoong closer, but a gentle kiss planted to the top of his head and comforting words eased the leader back into his deep slumber, limbs finally relenting.
Jaejoong felt as though half his heart had been physically wrenched out of his chest as he pulled away from the body beneath him. The pain brought tears to his eyes but he hastily wiped them away, not wanting them to blur his vision. He wanted a crystal clear picture of Yunho’s sleeping face to commit to memory. His gaze soft, Jaejoong reached out to thumb away the tear stains on that small chiselled face, feeling the burn of Yunho’s pain under his fingerpads.
Mouth hanging open and eyelids pulled back to reveal nothing but whites… Jaejoong thought he was staring at the face of an angel.
A nostalgic smile on his tired features, Jaejoong stubbornly rubbed the last drops lingering in his swollen eyes. He still had some time left, but he needed to slip away now. Maybe it was because it would be even more painful for a conscious Yunho to have to see him leave; or maybe it was because Jaejoong knew he did not have the strength to face Yunho smiling through his pain and wishing him all the best; Jaejoong did not know for sure. Something in him told him he needed to go before Yunho woke up; he had to leave now.
He watched Yunho sleep for a few more minutes, enjoying the peaceful moment before tucking the blanket securely around the sleeping man – Jaejoong’s last attempt to keep Yunho safe. A hundred thousand images of the times they spent together flashed through his mind as he bent down to seal them all with a gentle kiss to Yunho’s temple. Knowing one last look would kill him, Jaejoong took a deep shuddering breath and resolutely turned away from the sleeping figure, padding out of the room and towards the front door with the last of his suitcases in his hand.
Changmin was seated on the couch, but promptly stood up when he saw Jaejoong walk past. He was so quiet, Jaejoong would have completely missed him if he had remained seated. The boy looked as though he had not slept a wink either, eyes bloodshot and hair dishevelled. Jaejoong’s heart broke for him. Their eyes met, both puffy and soft and pained.
There was so much Jaejoong wanted to tell his dear magnae. Take care of him; and take care of yourself; and eat well; and don’t worry; and I’ll look after Yoochun and Junsu for you; and be strong; and it’s going to be alright; and don’t forget us; and I love you.
Goodbye, he wanted to say, but the word was too difficult, too painful. Instead he gave Changmin a firm nod, and their tallest member returned one in a quiet understanding. No words needed to be exchanged, for whatever needed to be said they already felt in their hearts.
Setting his keys on the counter, Jaejoong pulled open the front door and turned around slightly, giving one last longing look around. He scanned the scene that was home, seeing the ghosts of all the laughter, the tears, the sweat, the hugs, the pain, the hope; all residing in every furniture and corner of the dorm that he could not take with him.
And with that last memory, Jaejoong slipped out and shut the door to his past behind him.
*master fic list
A/N: Daylight lyrics by Adam Levine, Max Martin, SAMM, and MdL.
I miss writing so much but I've forgotten how to write. I haven't written anything since two semesters ago... Please pardon all mistakes; I wrote this in school. Sleeping at 4/4.30am for 5 consecutive days is really no joke.
And happy Midautumn's Festival, everybody.