Pairing: Jaejoong and Junsu
Rating: Overall NC-17
Summary: Junsu discovers an emptiness in his heart and is afraid the only person who can fill it is someone too broken...too afraid to be loved.
For Ree, Scarletpeonies, Calyto and Maria...and anyone else who wanted a JaeSu.
The smells and sounds of the city waking up crept into the coffee shop. Car horns blasted across the warming asphalt, the stink of black tar wafting into the air-conditioned shop’s interior whenever a customer opened the door. A thick humidity gripped the city, cloying and hot despite the promise of cooler weather lingering on the horizon. Junsu glanced up every time the chimes over the door rang but the faces walking in were all unfamiliar, leaving him with the unsettling feeling that he’d been abandoned over fear of retribution.
When Junsu arrived at the coffee shop, the kiyok-shaped café was relatively busy with foot traffic and the few people sitting in booths were in the main section. Ordering a latte, he’d slid into the corner booth, leaving him exposed enough to watch the door but tucked away enough to feel safe from prying eyes. After the minutes began to stretch to an hour, his worry gnawed at his nerves and Junsu slouched further and further into the soft booth seat.
“Hyukjae… wouldn’t abandon me. Not like this. Not when… I begged him to meet with me,” Junsu whispered, his voice broken with barely held in grief. “Is this what Jaejoong warned us about? That no one will meet our eyes? That no one will touch us because we are the diseased? Can I be strong enough to stand through this? Can I be the one strong enough to stand with him and Yoochun?”
The coffee was bitter on Junsu’s tongue despite the sugar and cream he’d poured into it. Making a face, he reached for a napkin to wipe at a drop trembling on his lower lip when the scrape of a chair startled him. Jerking his eyes up, Junsu breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of his oldest friend’s oddly angular face. Large sunglasses obscured Hyukjae’s expressive eyes and a shock of dark hair covered his forehead, the razor cut edges brushing over the rise of his cheekbones.
“Junsu-sshi... Junsu-ah,” Hyukjae stuttered, turning his face in remorse when the hurt in Junsu’s eyes became too much to bear. “I’m sorry. It’s been… hard…complicated.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” He stood to give his friend a quick tight embrace, patting the young man’s back to reassure him.
“Let me get some coffee. I’ll be right back.” Hykjae excused himself and wandered over to the counter to order. Junsu watched his friend, saddened by the tension between them. Checking his cell phone, Junsu reluctantly returned the device to his pocket. Jaejoong hadn’t called nor had he fumbled a part of their social lives out into the internet, something he’d been known to do when too drunk to care what the world would think of him.
“Just hold things together until I make some sense of this, hyung… Joongie-ah,” Junsu said, patting his phone. “Hyukjae will know what to do. He’s better at this kind of thing than I am.”
The man in question returned to the table, juggling two plates piled high with tiny pastries and a tall paper cup topped with a mountain of whipped cream. Smiling, he put the treats down in front of Junsu, turning the plate to expose the chocolate croissants Junsu loved.
“You still like these, yes?” He laughed, mollified by the gleeful delight on his oldest friend’s face at the pastries. The small square was in Junsu’s mouth before the laugh faded to a chuckle in HyukJae’s lips.
Leaning back, Junsu closed his eyes and let the sweetness of the pastry fill his senses. The light crispy butter dough melted in his mouth then the deep thrum of chocolate burst through, spreading down his throat with a heady trickle. Chewing slowly, he opened his eyes and frowned playfully at his friend.
“What?” Junsu mumbled through his full mouth. “I haven’t eaten.”
“You look like you haven’t slept,” Hyukjae said, sipping his coffee. Picking up another croissant, he held it out for Junsu to bite into. Bending forward, the singer sank his teeth into the pastry, folding the tiny square into his mouth with the tip of his tongue.
“I haven’t,” Junsu confessed as he chewed. “There’s…things on my mind. How are you?”
“Junsu-ah, you called me in the middle of the night sounding worried and stressed. I know how I am.” The man clasped his hand over his friend’s wrist, rubbing gently. “Tell me how you are. No matter how things are, Susu-ah, I love you. You will always be a brother to me.”
Junsu didn’t know where to start, not with Hyukjae…not with anyone if he could be honest with himself. In the space of a breath, the strained distance between them melted away, diaphanous mist under the heat of Hyukjae’s remorseful expression. Junsu’s eyes hurt suddenly, burning when he blinked and a hot tear rolled down his cheek. Startled, Hyukjae instinctively reached out and dragged his thumb pad over the tear, catching it before it trailed down to the edge of Junsu’s lip.
“Don’t cry, Junsu-ah,” Hyukjae whispered, stroking at his friend’s damp cheek. “Please…don’t cry.”
His words brought the rain to the sunshine sitting across him and Hyukjae murmured in shock when Junsu dropped his head down to his hands and silently let the anguish eating at him finally surface. It rose swiftly, a broken sound tearing through the angelic voice Hyukjae loved so much. Around them the world continued on its way, blind to the pain of the young man tucked into the corner of a Seoul coffee shop.
“Come on.” Hyukjae dropped his hand from Junsu’s face and tugged at the young man’s wrist, urging Junsu to stand up. The intimacy of their contact made him feel exposed and vulnerable. “I’ll… we’ll go somewhere no one can see us.”
“They’ll find out… the company,” Junsu entreated, resisting his friend’s pull. “They have people watching us. More on Jaejoong than me but still… someone might…see you. I can’t risk you, Hyukjae.”
“So they force me into the military.” He grinned, shrugging at the very-real possibility. “I’ll have to go at some point and unlike the three of you, they probably won’t waive me or put me in the public relation corps. I’m not pretty or famous enough. Come on. I’ll grab a bag for the pastries and meet you in the alley. We can sit in my car. The windows are tinted very dark and it’s early. No one will see inside.”
A side door made it easy for them to slip away, Junsu stumbling a few steps behind Hyukjae’s purposeful strides. The man waited for the tenor to catch up with him, gently steering Junsu with a nudge of his elbow. Tucked around the corner, at the back of the shop, Hyukjae’s sedan sat under an awning. It chirped open with a flick of its remote and Hyukjae nodded for Junsu to get in the back. Sniffing, the tenor complied, closing the car door behind him and settling into the soft leather back seat.
Hyukjae locked the doors behind them, shutting the world out. Hitting the dome switch brought up soft lights to illuminate the sedan’s interior, filling the curves of Junsu’s face with deep shadows. Troubled eyes broke with the innocence of Junsu’s expression, his white teeth worrying nervously at the rise of his upper lip. The singer brought his coffee cup up to his lips but didn’t drink, the desire for a sip forgotten in the tangle of his thoughts.
“Drink,” Hyukjae encouraged. “It’ll keep you warm. I know you don’t like the car heater to be on. The dry air is…”
“Bad for my voice.” Junsu smiled despite his leaden heart. “You remember.”
“How can I forget? You guard your voice like it’s the gold crown from Seobongchong.” HyukJae warded off Junsu’s deadly glare with a laugh. “Well you do but it is a treasure. Guard it as fiercely as you like, Susu-ah.”
“It’s all I have,” Junsu murmured, fitting his mouth against the cup’s rim. “It’s all I am.”
The tears fresh and hot, scalding Junsu’s lashes. Hiccupping, he curled in on himself, cradling his coffee to his belly as he wrenched out the sorrow lurking in his chest. He barely felt Hyukjae’s gentle hands as the young man removed the cup from Junsu’s grip. The weight of Hyukjae’s arms around his quaking shoulders were a burden Junsu was glad to bear, especially when his friend pulled him close until Junsu lay across the wide seat. His exhaustion hit hard, taking a toll on his emotional control and Junsu cracked under the his friend’s tenderness.
“You’re more than your voice, Junsu-ah,” Hyukjae admonished his friend. “Much more.”
“Then why doesn’t he see that? Why can’t he see me when I’m right in front of him…needing him to see me?” Junsu whispered, his words shattered and fragile between his cries. “Why does it hurt so much when he looks through me, Hyukjae? How can silence hurt so much?”
Choi Seunghyun wrung as much cool water as he could from the washcloth before wiping at the sheen on Jaejoong’s forehead. Dipping the cloth back into the wide bowl, he squeezed it out again, worried at the dappled sweat on his friend’s face. Gone was the cocky persona he wore out in public, now he was just a friend to a man torn apart by his heart and troubles.
“This would be easier if you were a girl,” He muttered as he wiped down Jae’s bare throat before moving the cloth down to the man’s chest. Catching himself staring at his friend’s long, pale torso, Seunghyun shook his head clear of the thoughts hitting the back of his brain. “Never mind. I don’t think I could handle it if you were a girl. I can barely handle looking at you now and I don’t even like guys.”
A sheet covered Jaejoong’s hips but the fine thread cotton lovingly followed the contours of the young man’s hard body. Months of inactivity drove Jaejoong to the three things he knew best; music, drink and working out. Composing drove his mind to dark places that whispered of loneliness and self-loathing. Those voices only seemed be drowned out with soju or whiskey and there was a never-ending number of people willing to go with Jaejoong on a drinking tour of Seoul. Working at weights was preferable in Seunghyun’s mind but he knew the dangers of Jaejoong’s mind, the activity was great for keeping the man’s body trim and fit but did little to ease his heart and mind of its worries.
Jae murmured, stirring slightly as he pulled at the sheets wrapped around him. Seunghyun grabbed at the linens before Jaejoong could toss them from his body, softly pleading with his friend to stay covered. “I’m pretty sure seeing you hard will make me hard then what am I going to do? Stay there, Joongie-ah.”
“Susu…” Jaejoong turned on the bed, the sheet catching on his hipbone. His sex pressed itself against the fabric, leaving a trail of wet spots behind. The scent of Jae’s arousal filled Seunghyun’s nostrils, a spicy sweet perfume he’d only found on himself before that moment.
“Ah, still the fallen angel looking up to the heavens.” Seunghyun sighed and rested his hand on the mattress. His weight pressed the bed in, pulling Jaejoong closer. “Is that where you were before I came looking for you because you missed breakfast with me?”
“Tabi-ah?” Jae’s eyes fluttered open and he gasped for air, coming up from a dream he couldn’t shake. “What? What happened?”
“We were supposed to eat this morning, remember?” Seunghyun grinned at his friend. “I have a key or did you forget that too?”
“No, I’m…” Jaejoong mumbled and tried to sit up but Seunghyun pressed him back into the mattress.
“Stay there,” He warned. “You’re not well. I think you caught a chill last night. Were you out?”
“I went to… the studio, I think.” Jae’s forehead pulled together and he struggled to remember what he could of the night before. “Junsu showed up. It was late.”
“Are you sure he showed up or crawled out of a soju bottle?”
“He was there.” Jae hissed when he moved too quickly. Pressing his palm to his temple, he gratefully took the bottle of water Seunghyun offered him. “I think he brought me home.”
“You think?” Seunghyun gasped in mock surprise. “Considering how much your clothes reeked, I’m surprised you had any soju in you.”
“I wasn’t that drunk. Just tired.” He grumbled as Seunghyun turned him over onto his stomach. “What are you doing?”
“Taking care of you. Someone has to since Junsu abandoned you.” Seunghyun rinsed the cloth again, rubbing it softly over his friend’s inked shoulder blades. Glancing at the names black and stark on Jaejoong’s back, he sighed, tapping first one side then the other. “What did he think when he saw this?”
“That I’m crazy,” Jae mumbled into the pillow. “He’s not wrong.”
“What did you say to explain his name on your skin? Did he think it was because…” Seunghyun couldn’t bring himself to name the broken-off pieces left of the group Jaejoong loved so deeply. “What did you say?”
“I told him I put the name of my heart on one side and my brother on the other.”
“Joongie-ah!” Whistling under his breath, Seunghyun was shocked at the bold admission of Jaejoong’s interest. “What did he say?”
“He told me I shouldn’t say anything to Yoochun because he doesn’t think Chunnie would love me like that.” Jaejoong’s words dripped with bitter hurt. “He thinks I’m in love with Yoochun, Tabi-ah. For all that I’ve given him… everything I could say or do, he doesn’t see me as anything more than a brother. I should be happy with that. I should be happy he sees me in his heart at all.”