Summary: Just one day more.
He groaned and shifted, feeling the comforter slip down his shoulders, exposing them to the chilly air. With a huff, he flipped onto his stomach and pulled his pillow over his head, not caring that the movement caused his legs to get tangled in the sheets. He cursed under his breath, pressing the pillow harder onto his head. He needed to do something, anything, to get rid of that annoying beeping that cut through the depths of his sleep.
“Shut up; just shut up! Five more minutes…” he whined into his mattress, feeling more awake by the second. Sleep was deserting his body rapidly, fighting a losing battle against that damned shrill beeping. Realising that he was never going to fall back asleep, he threw his pillow into the air in frustration, right arm extending to slam down hard on his alarm clock. It shut up with a last feeble beep.
Ahh… peace at last.
Lazily he sat up and stretched, arms above his head. The covers slid down and bunched at his waist, exposing his naked torso. Cracking his neck left and right, he stretched his back with a hum, arching elegantly like a feline. Sighing, he picked up his alarm clock from the nightstand and brought it before him. 9 am.
“Oh shit,” he cursed, feeling adrenaline course through his veins. He was so so so so late. Manager-hyung was so going to kill him. Damnit how did he even oversleep? When was the last time he actually woke up at bloody 9 am?
In one swift motion he swung his long legs off the bed and headed right to his wardrobe. An arm was already extended to pull open the doors except he found himself grasping onto air.
He frowned, staring at the empty space where his wardrobe should have been. In its place was just empty cream-coloured walls.
Panic started to rise up his throat and he spun around, spotting the familiar wardrobe at the other end of the room. It was his wardrobe and yet it was foreign. Wide eyes surveyed the room, taking in the familiar wall colour, the furniture, the clothes haphazardly thrown around… This was his room, and yet it had not been his room for the past four years.
Shuffling over to the lone window in his room, he threw back the curtains and blinked. The morning sun drenched the familiar scene of the street outside the dorm with a warm golden glow. What was unfamiliar however, was how empty the streets were. There was not even the usual annoying crow in the sky.
Against his better judgement of not opening windows in the dead of winter when one was half-naked, he unlocked the window and pushed. They remained jammed tight. He frowned. These windows were never stuck. He heaved harder, pressing all his weight onto the glass panes until he was panting, but still they refused to budge. He rested his sweaty forehead against the cold glass, eyes shut.
He was defeated by his own window. That did not make sense. None of these made sense.
When his breathing calmed, he pushed himself away from the damned glass and grabbed the nearest thing within reach. With all his strength he hurled it against the window.
What followed was not the satisfying clatter of glass breaking but instead, the sickening crunch of plastic shattering. He backed away from the window slowly, nearly tripping on the excess cloth that pooled at his ankles from sweatpants worn too low. At his feet lay the shattered remains of his trusty old hairdryer.
What the heck? That window was not even bulletproof glass, damn it. And his hairdryer… His poor poor hairdryer.
With slippery hands he snatched his phone up from the bedside table. It was not his Galaxy S4, but the simple black flip model he used to use. He flipped it open. It had buttons. He groaned.
Cursing, he fumbled through the interface he no longer remembered how to use. With shaky hands he dialled Yoochun’s number. There was no reception. He swore, then keyed in Junsu’s number from memory. Then manager-hyung’s. Then Yoochun’s again. All he got was the eerie drone of a dead line.
He made a frustrated sound and ran his hand through his hair twice. What was going on? He flipped his phone open, then shut it, then flipped it open again. Something on the display caught his eye and he brought it closer to his face. There was his face on the screen, an old selfie he had set as the wallpaper. And in big typography under it it said 9.12 am, 32 December 2009.
32 December 2009.
What? He froze, grip tightening on the small plastic device until it was trembling in his fist. With his face this close to the phone screen, he could see his stunned expression reflected in the glass.
His hair was not blonde; it was brunette.
He gave an unglamorous squeak and dropped the phone as though burned. It fell forlornly with a clatter beside the pieces of hairdryer. He rubbed his face with his shaky hand once, letting it rest over his mouth, then rubbed it again. This was either some bad joke, or he was still dreaming. A nightmare, more likely.
Something sprung into his mind and he shakily removed his hands from his face, stretching out his arms to examine them.
He blinked owlishly at his own appendages, turning them this way and that, but all he could see was a pale expanse of untainted skin where the ink should have been. He felt an odd prickling sensation at the back of his neck as goosebumps erupted all over his naked flesh; and it was not because of the cold.
His mouth fell open in a silent scream and before he could make sense of anything, his legs bolted out of the room, flinging the door open hard on its hinges. He ran down the familiar hallway, throwing open the door across his room. It was empty. He hurried down the hallway, tripping over his own feet and nearly landing on his face. Twice. The bathroom was also empty. He flung open the last door at the end of the hallway, mouth open and ready, but the scream died in his throat.
One bed was empty, but the other contained a figure sound asleep. Its occupant was snoring contently, peacefully unaware of the chaos that had erupted two doors down the hallway.
He padded slowly into the room and paused right in front of the occupied bed, hearing his heart pounding wildly in his chest. He blinked once, twice, then shut his eyes and counted to ten. This was a dream, he was sure of it. It had to be. He opened his eyes. The figure was still there, tanned skin and ajar mouth and perfect teeth and all.
He leaned over the sleeping figure and gingerly poked an exposed shoulder with one finger. It was solid flesh and muscle under the pad of his finger. He let out a breath he did not know he was holding; he could still hear the rushing of the blood in his ears. The figure was real. He felt himself starting to calm down. The figure’s brows furrowed in annoyance and flipped over to the other side, looking cross but still sound asleep. He felt a small smile tugging at his lips, his heart calming down to its usual beat.
Gently, he laid his head down against the other’s bicep, breathing deeply, letting their heartbeats synchronise. This was real. He was here, and so was he. He shut his eyes, listening to the familiar contented snores of the other, feeling the gentle rise and fall of his head on the solid muscle it lay on. He felt the tension ease away from his muscles, letting his body go slack and just enjoying this quiet, serene morning with no one but just the two of them. It honestly was a terrifying thought; just both of them left in the whole world, but the mere presence of the other calmed him.
He did not know how long he lay there, but finally he found the strength to peel himself off the sleeping figure. He cocked his head to the side, eyes bright and shiny, a small whimsical smile playing at his lips as he watched the other sleep. Then he pulled the rumpled sheets a little higher, fondly tucking in the sleeping man protectively before stepping out of the room and shutting the door quietly behind him.
The display of the digital clock on the desk read 32 December 2009, 10.04 am.
He was woken up by an embarrassingly loud growl from his stomach. He yawned and sat up on his bed, one hand lazily ruffling through his messy bedhead while the other scratched at an itch on his chest.
And then he smelt it.
Kimchi jjigae; he was sure of it. And was that potato jeon as well? Oh, mygawd. His stomach rumbled proudly in approval. Ohmigawd he knew this delicious aroma. It was the scent that promised mouthwatering dishes and a food-coma-inducing meal. It was the heavenly aroma that haunted his dreams and caused him to wake up with a very damp spot on his pillow. He kicked the sheets off with his long legs and slipped into room slippers. Eyelids still heavy with sleep, he shuffled down the hallway, led by his nose, and turned the corner.
“Changmin what are you-”
Every last coherent thought deserted his head. His eyes bulged, taking in the sight of the familiar back moving about the kitchen stove, the telltale sign of an apron knotted at the back of his waist. His heart started to ache, a dull throbbing pain.
He rubbed the remnants of sleep from his eyes and blinked rapidly. Convinced that he was dreaming, he pinched himself, hard. It hurt. Damn.
“What are you doing here?” he croaked out, throat still dry from sleep.
Jaejoong spun around, a steaming pan of goodness in hand. Yunho felt his heart die and rebirth a thousand times. “Well good afternoon to you too,” he poured its delicious gochujang-covered contents onto a waiting plate on the dining table, not even sparing Yunho a glance.
“What are you doing here? How did you get in?” Yunho repeated, sounding a little flustered. He looked longingly at the feast on the table - all his favourite comfort food ohmygawd - but seemed apprehensive about walking over to where Jaejoong was. Man, that boy looked exactly the same as when he last saw him. Hadn’t aged a single day.
Yunho’s stomach decided to make its agony known and Jaejoong cocked an amused eyebrow at him. “Go wash up and let’s eat. We can talk later.”
Yunho shook his head stubbornly. “Why are you here Jaejoong-”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“You moved out, right? At least that’s what the news reports said.”
Yunho stared at him for a moment, mouth open. He slowly looked around from his hiding spot by the edge of the wall, letting his mind register his surroundings and the current state of things. “Yeah, but I can always come back here. I’m still a member. Where is Changmin?”
Jaejoong felt a sting to his heart, but shrugged nonchalantly. He crossed his arms across his now-clothed torso, pan still in hand. “I don’t know.”
“He’s not here?”
A frustrated noise tore through Yunho’s throat. He was now very awake, but his mind still could not process the situation. What in the world was Kim Jaejoong doing in the dorm kitchen? “You need to leave, Jaejoong. You can’t be here.”
“Ouch, that hurt,” the elder of them looked genuinely wounded, lower lip protruding in a habitual pout.
Yunho pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling the beginnings of a pounding headache forming. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean it that way,” he applied more pressure onto his head. “It’s just that… imagine what would happen if someone found you here… How did you even get in by the way?”
Jaejoong shrugged again, “I went to bed in my own bed in my own room… and when I woke up I was here.”
Yunho’s lips drew into a thin line. “Ha ha ha very funny.”
Jaejoong rolled his eyes. “Honestly. Now can you please wash up so we can start eating? Food’s getting cold.”
Yunho scowled. “You need to leave, Jaejoong,” he insisted quietly.
The smaller man sighed, head bowed for a moment before staring back up at Yunho defiantly. “Make me.”
The leader looked positively pissed, marching over the length of the dining table to where Jaejoong stood and unceremoniously grabbed him by the wrist. Ignoring the older man’s yelp of protest, he proceeded to drag him towards the front door, Jaejoong looking bored the whole time. Yunho pressed down onto the doorknob with his free hand and lo and behold, the metal would not budge.
He frowned, jiggling the knob a few more times before growling in frustration and turning to Jaejoong. Aggravation caused his untamed hair to up its spikiness a few notches. “What did you do to the door-”
Did Jaejoong just whack his head with a frying pan?
Yunho blinked back tears, dropping Jaejoong’s hand in favour of rubbing the sore spot on his head. “Ow! What was that for-”
Again. With more vengeance this time.
“I did nothing to your goddamned door!” Jaejoong seethed, looking hurt and livid and tired and annoyed and upset. “Why is it that it’s always me when something goes wrong here, huh? I woke up here disoriented and scared and had the basic courtesy of letting you sleep instead of waking you up to freak out with me and then I made you lunch and you bloody bastard a thank you would have been nice but no you just keeping shooting me questions and giving me the stink eye and would you just quit asking me to leave it hurts okay and I didn’t touch your bloody door it was jammed when I tried to open it too okay now can you just go wash up Yunho so we can eat because I’m goddamn hungry.”
Yunho blinked. Jaejoong’s chest was rapidly rising and falling from his ranting tirade. He wanted to defend himself, but thought better against it and shut his mouth. Jaejoong was still holding the frying pan and boy can that kid whack. “Thank you,” he grunted instead.
Jaejoong took a deep breath, visibly cooling down. “You’re welcome. Now can you please go and wash up so we can start lunch? I promise we’ll talk later.”
Yunho grunted again, not quite wanting to agree with Jaejoong because – well, just because. He padded his way to the bathroom.
“Just try not to scream when you look into the mirror, okay?”
Yunho snorted. Seriously, that 28-year-old was going to insult his morning face after so many years? Childish. And to think they called him a man-child. Hah.
The bathroom door clicked shut and Jaejoong could not resist a smirk when a bloodcurdling scream came from behind the closed door.
He threw a glance at the wall clock near the dining table. 1.37 pm.
Oh boy, he really was hungry.
Jaejoong glared daggers at the clock. 2.40 pm.
He felt the heat lingering from a steamy shower even before he heard the bathroom door open. Familiar footsteps trudged down the hallway, and Jaejoong threw a well-aimed tea towel at the head of his owner. It found its target; Yunho had not even bothered to dodge, looking extremely shell-shocked.
“Hey you know I’m starving and waiting for you to start lunch and still you spent an hour in the bathroom!”
Yunho unglamorously dropped into his usual seat at the head of the table, Jaejoong already seated at his right. He stared straight ahead, seemingly not having heard the older man.
“Yunho…? Hey, are you alright?” Jaejoong’s tone was soft, concerned. He laid a comforting hand on Yunho’s right shoulder. The younger one slowly turned his head to look at him, zombie-like. He studied the shorter boy for a moment, then reached out and pulled down the neck of Jaejoong’s tee past his left nipple.
“Hey what are you doing?!”
Jaejoong swatted the hand away, feeling unnecessarily self-conscious, his cheeks burning. Yunho watched as the cotton fabric rode back up to Jaejoong’s collarbones, then he faced forward again. He clasped his hands before him and leaned into them, elbows resting on both sides of his plate.
There was one line of ink across Jaejoong’s heart, not two.
“What is this?” he asked quietly, severely.
“This,” Yunho confirmed, waving one hand vaguely in the air. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” Jaejoong shrugged, shovelling rice into his mouth, not bothering to wait for Yunho any longer. Boy was he starving.
“You don’t know?!”
Jaejoong swallowed, eyes narrowing as he turned away from his rice bowl to face Yunho. “Look, I told you; I happily went to bed last night in my room in my apartment and then I woke up here and very unhappily found out that somehow all the windows and the front door are jammed stuck locked whatever and my phone does not have reception nuh-uh not a single bar of it and no the landline’s not working either and neither my phone nor my laptop can get connected to the internet and the TV is showing nothing but white noise and there is not a single damn soul on the streets outside not even a damn mosquito and somehow we are both back to our 24-year-old selves and I don’t even know if someone has fed my cat.”
Yunho blinked stupidly at him. “How are you not freaking out?”
“Not freaking out? Not freaking out? I’ve freaked out hyperventilated gone hysterical and caused the death of one hairdryer for four hours before you decided to finally roll your lazy ass out of bed. I think I deserve to have my peace now. You can freak out if you want; I promise I won’t judge.”
“You were panicking so badly and you didn’t think it was important to wake me up to try to help figure this out?”
Jaejoong patted Yunho’s cheek affectionately, thumb tracing the dark eye-circle under an almond-shaped eye. “You looked like you could use more sleep.”
“Thank you,” Yunho mumbled, averting his eyes.
“Now eat,” Jaejoong picked up his chopsticks and gestured to the food between them. “Food’s gonna get cold again. I’ve heated it up twice already. If I have to put it over the flame again the pork’s gonna be as tough as Yoochun’s skin.”
Yunho picked up his own rice bowl and chopsticks and inhaled a piece of meat. He could not help an embarrassingly loud moan. Ohmygawd. The meat was perfect, tender and marinated to bring out its natural flavours, the sauce coating his tongue in pure bliss. Damn he had almost forgotten how good wonderful magical heavenly Jaejoong’s cooking was. His tongue was weeping with joy.
“It’s good?” Jaejoong asked shyly, looking extremely pleased with himself.
The younger man nodded a little too enthusiastically; he was almost bouncing in his seat. “Everything you cook is good, Jaejoongie.”
“You said the soup was bad.”
“Wha- That was years ago; can’t you just let it go?”
Yunho groaned, inhaling another mouthful of rice.
“Here, try this. I found this recipe on the internet…” Jaejoong piled some stir-fried vegetables onto Yunho’s plate and very soon the younger man was making food-orgasm sounds again.
Lunch had continued in that manner, quiet except for the clinking of utensils on plates and bare of conversation apart from the food (and Yunho’s moans). It was only after the table had been cleared and the dishes were clean and back in their cupboards did both men had to confront the awkward silence that really should not need to be there.
Yunho flopped himself down on the sofa bonelessly, long limbs sprawled out before him. Jaejoong stood at the edge of the living room, contemplating his options before walking over and settling himself at Yunho’s feet.
They sat in silence for a bit, looking this way and that and everywhere but at each other. Distracted, Jaejoong’s head landed on Yunho’s thighs, absentmindedly picking at the hem of his sweatpants. If the latter minded the warm weight on his lap, he made no mention of it, merely reaching out to stroke the soft brown locks instinctively.
“So…” he began, still not looking at Jaejoong. “You wanna run me through what happened again? The short version of it.”
Jaejoong sighed, his shoulders heaving, then took a deep breath. “So as I was saying, I fell asleep in my own bed and then I woke up here-”
“Jaejoong. The short version.”
Big liquid doe eyes stared up at him, annoyed. “You’re stuck in the dorm with me with absolutely no contact with the outside world.”
Yunho’s long, elegant fingers paused in their motion, thoughtful. “But why us? Why here? And why now? Why not with Yoochun, Junsu, or Changmin?”
Jaejoong sighed again, sounding more tired than he looked. “I don’t know-”
“What does this all mean? Are we supposed to do something?”
“Yunho,” Jaejoong snapped, “I don’t know.”
Their eyes met for a moment, speaking heaps and bounds where words failed. Then someone blinked, and the connection was lost. Both looked away again.
“Maybe we’re supposed to fix something; change something.”
“Fix what, Yunho?”
The taller man shrugged, eyes searching the corners of the ceiling, “I dunno. Us?”
Round endless pools of black met dark chocolate almonds again. This time, neither looked away.
“What is there to fix, Yunho?”
“Oh I don’t know; hmm how about the fact that we’ve not exactly been talking?”
“I fucking texted you, and then you go about telling the world it never happened-”
“I had to.”
“Hah. Had to what? Lie? Hurt me? Hurt us? Do you know how hard it was for me to tell you those things-”
“We’ve been through this already, Jaejoong-”
“Well you wanted to fix things!”
Yunho glared down at Jaejoong, and the elder one stared fiercely back up. Both of their chests were heaving, faces flushed, yet none was willing to back down. Yunho’s hand was still carded in Jaejoong’s hair. He could just clench his fist and yank and hurt if he wanted to. Still, Jaejoong’s head remained firmly on his lap, as though daring the other man to hurt him.
Yunho exhaled loudly through his nose and wearily rubbed his face with his other hand. “I don’t… I don’t know what to do, Jaejoong. I don’t know how to act around you. How should I treat you? As my friend? My enemy? Am I supposed to ignore you or do I smile and laugh and pretend that nothing ever happened? What do we talk about? Our past? Our future? Can we even talk about the present at all? What do I do, Jaejoong-ah?” The last words finished in a choked sob and Jaejoong was on his feet and had Yunho in his arms in a flash.
“It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you… I just don’t know how.”
Jaejoong did not shush him, nor told him not to cry. Neither did he try to comfort him with empty promises that everything was going to be better or told him to be strong. Instead, he just cradled the sobbing boy into his chest, letting his long-repressed tears flow. Yunho needed a good cry, and Jaejoong’s shoulder was there for him.
“I miss you, so much- You have no idea…”
“I miss you too, Yunho-ah,” Jaejoong breathed into the short brown hair, biting back his own tears. “We all miss you and Changmin-ah.”
“You say so much shit for the cameras-”
“Hey,” Jaejoong pulled away slightly and used one hand to guide Yunho’s chin to face him. “Hey, look at me. Hey.”
Red swollen accusing eyes looked back at him and Jaejoong felt his heart shatter into smithereens again.
He took a shaky breath, “I say a lot of things for the media, for our fans,” gently he cupped Yunho’s small face with one hand and smoothed it down the side of the tear-streaked face. “But when I say that I miss you, that we miss you both, know that it is for you and Changminnie only.”
Yunho blinked and dropped his eyes, Jaejoong still tenderly stroking his face like it was priceless fragile porcelain. “Not for the cameras, not for the fans; just for you and Changminnie only.”
“Okay?” Jaejoong prompted and Yunho nodded. “Okay?” he tried again, and Yunho nodded more firmly this time. The elder of them smiled; a smile through tears and broken in three places, but still every bit beautiful.
“You left us…” came the hurting accusation.
“You let us leave,” came the equally hurt reply.
They fell into silence again, foreheads pressed together, stealing each other’s breaths.
Yunho gave a bitter laugh. “How could I? How could I stop you when you’ve already made up your minds? How could I stand in the way of your dreams?”
“You could have come with us…”
“You know I can’t.”
Jaejoong grinned, broken and empty. “Then there’s nothing to fix, Yunho-ah.”
Yunho pulled away and blinked at him curiously.
Jaejoong’s smile widened. “Sooner or later, we’re going to want out. And you’ll never stop us from chasing our dreams. No one can. Even if it didn’t happen in July 2009, it will still happen someday.”
“So you’re saying,” Yunho swallowed, looking extremely childlike with his eyes wide and long legs folded under him, “that is in inevitable that I would lose you?”
“Yes,” the shorter man leaned forward and ruffled Yunho’s untamed hair affectionately. “There’s nothing for us to fix, Yunho-ah.” He stretched out both arms; an invitation.
Yunho paused for a moment, digesting the information. Then he fell forward, gathering the smaller man in his arms, practically squeezing the air out of the other. “I’d rather later than sooner,” he mumbled, voice muffled by the fabric of Jaejoong’s T-shirt. Jaejoong’s eyes fluttered shut, his body engulfed in the warmth of the embrace. It was like all the hugs they have ever shared put together in one massive, powerful action. And Jaejoong was drowning drowning drowning in the warmth and support and love. The hug said everything that they could not - I love you and I miss you and I’m sorry and I need you.
They did not know how long they remained like that, locked tight in each other’s arms as though to make up for all the lost time, the what if-s, the should have been-s.
The sun had dipped past the horizon by the time they pulled apart, pins and needles in their legs but weary smiles on their faces. There was awkward laughter as they reached for each other, trying to wipe away the dried tear tracks and scars invisible to the eye. They sat facing each other on the sofa, smiling stupidly at the other.
“The things Changmin said…” Jaejoong began, but Yunho cut him off.
“He doesn’t hate you.” He knew exactly what Jaejoong meant. Years of friendship and camaraderie had taught him to read his member like an open book.
Jaejoong nodded, looking relieved. The small smile on his face was an understatement of the happiness he felt inside.
“He’s hurt and angry, but he doesn’t hate any of you. He can’t.” Yunho looked at Jaejoong cautiously, “Are Yoochun and Junsu…?”
“You can’t hate family, Yunho-ah.”
The younger man nodded slowly in understanding. He shut his eyes and inhaled deeply, as though having found closure. “So I’m stuck with you in twilight zone with no way out?”
“More like we’re stuck in 32 December 2009.”
“Yeah. It’s crazy.”
“Go see every digital thing in the dorm that shows the date. Heck, even the printed calendar has this creepy date on it.”
Yunho swore and scampered to his feet, running into this room and that, cursing as he went. Jaejoong knelt on the sofa, resting his head on his folded hands on the leather backrest. He watched Yunho disappear and reappear in the hallway, poking at his white phone in frustration just as Jaejoong had been doing to its matching black counterpart earlier in the morning. Been there, done that. He could hear Yunho jiggling and rattling the windows as he went from room to room. “Told you they can’t be opened,” he called out, finding it hard to resist an amused smile.
Yunho finally finished his survey of the dorm, standing in front of Jaejoong panting and looking utterly bewildered. “No shit; it’s true. And all the windows are locked.”
“Told you so.”
“I know, but…”
Jaejoong caught the disbelief in his tone and smacked him hard on the arm. “Hey! I’m not weak, okay! I can bloody well operate windows, thank you very much. When I say they can’t be opened they really can’t be opened!”
“I know, I know, I’m sorry…” Yunho whined, rubbing his sore arm. If he had ever forgotten how strong Jaejoong was, he had been reminded more than enough times today. “So what are we going to do? We’re stuck in here; we have to get out.”
Jaejoong scoffed. “What do we need to get out for? There’s nothing out there anyway. I cook, you know; is it so bad to be stuck with me here?”
Yunho studied him for a moment. “No,” he decided, throwing himself down beside Jaejoong again, resting his head in the crook of Jaejoong’s neck.
Jaejoong smacked him again. “Did you seriously need to think for an answer?!”
Yunho laughed and gave him a trademark cheeky grin. “Well, what do we do now?”
Jaejoong exhaled audibly, snuggling closer to the warmth beside him. “I dunno; have a nice lazy day off? No schedules, no rehearsals, no media, no stalker-fans, no manager-hyungs…”
The taller man hummed in approval. “Let’s watch something.”
Jaejoong’s eyes brightened. “Like a movie?”
“I was thinking more of…” Yunho peeled himself off the sofa, padding over to the display unit that housed their TV set. Beneath the sleek black screen, he opened a cupboard and rummaged through the plastic CD cases. “…these!” he whipped out a couple of DVDs, unlabelled except for handwritten notes stuffed in the cases.
“What are those?” Jaejoong furrowed his brows, then his mouth formed an ‘O’, a bulb lit up in his head. “Our old offshot videos?” he broke into gleeful applause.
Yunho grinned broadly and popped one disc into the player, then hurried back to Jaejoong’s side as familiar faces came into focus on the big screen. “Should we get beer?”
“There isn’t any alcohol in the whole dorm. I’ve checked. Three times.”
“Ah, poor you,” Yunho patted the fluffy light brown head in mock sympathy and earned himself the wrath of Jaejoong’s arm muscle again. Together, they watched videos of old times, taken with shaky handheld devices, unprofessional and intimate. They went through moments of laughter from Japan, Bora Bora, Saipan… and all the countless places they had been together. These were private moments, unseen by the staff and fans; just moments of triumph and happiness and importance or pure unglamorous-ness and hilarity that the five boys wanted to record down. They laughed at memories of Changmin’s weirdness, of Yoochun being his usual troll self, of Junsu getting mercilessly bullied, of Jaejoong saying the most puzzling things, at Yunho degenerating into the kid he was… They sat on the sofa, barely a hair’s breadth between them, laughing and tearing until their sides ached and they ran out of DVDs and memories tears and breath.
“So what have you been doing this morning? Apart from freaking out…” Yunho asked, seven minutes after the screen had faded to black and they were just staring at their reflections in the glass and laughing at everything and nothing at all.
The more petite singer lazily traced patterns on Yunho’s thigh. “Hmm… well, I made kimchi, I cleaned, I vacuumed-”
“You vacuumed while I was sleeping?”
“What? It’s not even like you woke up. You slept like a log. A very noisy log.”
Yunho shoved him away playfully but Jaejoong quickly found his usual spot on Yunho’s shoulder. “And then I went through our stuff… you know? This house has so many memories… I just went through all the stuff in the rooms…”
“Found anything interesting?”
“Yeah. I found Changmin’s porn stash.”
“Ooh where was it???”
“In this box under his bed, hidden between two boxes of textbooks and school notes. He has good stuff man…”
“That selfish punk wouldn’t even share…”
“I know, right? And I found Yoochun’s personal stash too. I didn’t even know it existed! And tsk he calls me his Soulmate…”
“Don’t we all have our secret stashes?”
They lapsed into an awkward (comfortable?) silence again, each lost in his own thoughts, silly grins plastered on their faces.
“What else did you do? Four hours is an awfully long time…” Yunho broke the silence, fingers grasping for Jaejoong’s on their own accord.
“Hmm? After that? Oh I watched you sleep.”
Yunho blushed and gave an embarrassed chuckle. “And how was that?”
The insulted man grabbed a nearby cushion and proceeded to mercilessly clobber Jaejoong with it. The elder man fell off the sofa and ran away laughing, jumping into his personal sanctuary of the kitchen and demand that Yunho stop under the excuse of preparing dinner. The younger man threw a few more cushions before giving up his fight, collapsing onto the cool marble of the kitchen counter. He was too tired to continue anyway.
Dinner was a simple affair, considering that they were both still relatively full from the scrumptious, elaborate lunch. They ate in silence, unsaid words hiding behind the actions of piling each other’s plates with food and knowing smiles.
“Some wine would be good,” Jaejoong bemoaned, sighing dreamily.
Yunho spared him a knowing grin and ignored the statement. “So what are we having for breakfast tomorrow?”
“Breakfast? I cooked everything in the fridge.”
“You what?” Yunho put down his chopsticks. “Then what are we going to eat tomorrow?”
“Is there even a tomorrow?”
Yunho gaped at him. “And if there is? What then?”
Jaejoong shrugged, returning to his food. “We’ll just break down the door and raid a supermarket or something.”
Yunho shook his head disapprovingly and pushed his chair back. He stood up, retreating to his room, expression unreadable. Jaejoong followed him with his eyes, trying his best to ignore the pang in his heart.
The taller man returned shortly, both hands filled. Almost shyly, he set down two round red tea candles between himself and Jaejoong and lit them with an old lighter. He cleared his throat as he turned off the lights, Jaejoong watching him with excited eyes. “Well, I uh, saved these for… I dunno. But if this is going to be our last dinner, then let’s make it special.”
Yunho swore he heard Jaejoong squeal internally. Smiling, he sat back down and dinner resumed without a hitch. Words were no longer needed between them.
The wall clocked glowed in the dim light. 9.40pm.
Jaejoong sighed, letting the hot water run over his shoulders and down his lean body, easing tight muscles. He let his eyes fall shut, letting the images of the day run through his mind. What a day.
32 December 2009. What did it mean? What did it want from him? From Yunho?
Shaking his head, he turned off the shower and shivered as the cold night wind hit him. He towelled off and proceeded with his usual skincare routine, carefully examining his face in the mirror. Oh how he missed this face; younger and more naïve and carefree. And less wrinkles. So much less wrinkles. He was going to miss this face.
He tied the towel around his waist and exited the bathroom, nothing the light under Yunho’s closed room door. He stood in the hallway for a moment, watching a shadow move in that light, then went back into his room. Picking up a random pair of sweatpants from the floor, Jaejoong slipped under the covers and shut his eyes. He could hear Yunho stepping into the newly vacated bathroom and the shower running again.
After the dishes were done and cleared, Jaejoong had excused himself to retreat for the night, trying his best to ignore Yunho’s obvious disappointment. The day was ending and he was bad at goodbyes. He was not going to say goodbye to Yunho again. He could not.
He turned in his bed, wanting to let sleep consume him. He did not want to think of what fate waited for him when he next opened his eyes. Unable to clear his mind, he picked up his phone from the nightstand, squinting at the bright light when he flipped it open. 11.09 pm. Punching buttons, he finally found what he wanted. His photos folder. Ohgawd there were so many of them. He browsed through the photos he had taken; mostly selfies but also priceless photos of the other members, frozen forever in that small screen. Fingers playing with his lips, he chuckled to himself as he went through photo after photo, reliving the memories.
There was a knock on his door, then more followed; first hesitant, then urgent and demanding.
“Yes?” Jaejoong called out blearily. Had he fallen asleep? Damn he really had that many photos… He picked up his phone that had fallen forgotten from his hand and returned it to the nightstand. His head was still heavy with sleep as he sat up.
“Jaejoongie? Can I come in?”
Jaejoong nodded, then remembered that Yunho could not see him. He mentally smacked himself. “Yes,” he replied, and the door creaked open. “What’s wrong?”
Yunho stepped in, freshly showered and all ready for bed with a pillow tucked under his arm. “Can I sleep here tonight?”
“Yes,” the older man shifted to the side to make space for his lanky member and patted the empty space beside him. Yunho slipped in beside him easily, having done so countless times before.
They lay like that in silence, neither saying anything, just feeling the warmth of each other’s bodies and listening to each other’s breaths. Jaejoong was drifting off to sleep again, the heat beside him too comfortable, when he felt a warm hand on his shoulder. He opened his eyes and looked at the man beside him. The younger of them edged towards him slowly, giving him all the time he did not need should he want to pull away.
Finally, Yunho’s head made contact with Jaejoong’s bare shoulder, snuggling into the crook of his neck. Jaejoong turned his head and buried his face into Yunho’s soft wet hair, breathing in the familiar smell of Yunho’s shampoo. Silence reigned again as they just lay under Jaejoong’s covers, stealing each other’s breath. Without the usual noises of the night coming from the street, every exhale was amplified in the warm room.
Jaejoong inhaled deeply. He dreaded the answer, but he had to know. “What time is it, Yunho-ah?”
“I dunno, almost 12?”
Jaejoong hummed, and they lapsed into silence again.
“What’s going to happen to us, Jaejoongie?”
“I don’t know, Yunho-ah.”
He felt Yunho’s grip on his shoulder tighten, afraid.
“Will we go back to our lives, or will I wake up with you beside me?”
“I don’t know,” Jaejoong reached between them to give Yunho’s hand a comforting squeeze.
Silence returned, but was soon shattered as the clock outside began to chime.
Jaejoong felt Yunho squeezing his hand in a tight grip.
Oh God what was going to happen? Heart rates sped up and palms became clammy.
They both moved at the same time, pulling their bodies flush against each other, moulding two souls into one. Their arms wrapped tightly around the other, heads buried in each other’s shoulders, eyes squeezed tightly shut, just feeling. I love you I miss you I’m sorry I need you.
Their grips tightened, just a little tighter, just in case.
*master fic list
A/N: Just one last fic for 2013. I had planned to post this as my final fic, but ohwell.