Yunho and Jaejoong
I needed to write a little bit of angst. Just to clear my head. Also, swallowtt was feeling a bit under the weather. Nothing cures an illness like angst.
The unexpected call came late, a chirping happy song penetrating the soju-stenched darkness. Jaejoong let the phone ring, rolling over onto his back to stare up at the shadowy ceiling. There’d been too many times when he picked up the call only to have tragedy pour into his heart. He didn’t know if he could take another tear to his soul. Not now. Not in the lonely deep black surrounding him.
Cheerily, the singing continued then hiccupped when the person hung up only to start over again, a redial as insistent as the whispering failures Jae tried to ignore in his own mind. Pursing his lips, he turned his head to the side, the soft pillow against his cheek and wished the person on the other end of the phone would give up.
“I’ve given up,” He murmured, blinking at the hot sting of tears forming along his lashes. “Why can’t you?”
Another hiccup. Then more singing. His night was shattered, driven to shreds by a phone he didn’t dare turn off.
The number was unrecognizable and for a moment, Jaejoong pressed the phone to his forehead, wondering if he should answer it. It could be anyone; a wrong number, a fan crossing the thin line of privacy he begged for time and time again or worse, tragic news being delivered from a stranger.
They’d had more than one of those kinds of phone calls in the past. He couldn’t risk missing one now. Not when all three of them were healthy and whole. Not when they’d come so far through all of the struggles put in front of them. It was ironic, Jae thought, that he was praying for a stalker fan, anything instead of more sorrow. Answering it would at least put an end to the ringing.
The phone ceased its singing but the deep, caramel-rich voice on the phone also stopped Jaejoong’s heart.
Jae was stumbling out of the bed before he knew it, his toes catching on the polished wood floor. A few steps forward and he stopped, unsure of where he was going in the lightless apartment.
He let the darkness absorb his tears. There was no one to see him cry, no one to hear him sob but the man on the other end of the line. God knew, he’d heard Jaejoong cry often enough. Hell, Jaejoong gritted his teeth against the truth of it, he’d made Jae cry often enough.
“Talk to me, Jaejoong-ah. You don’t know what it cost me to call you.”
When they’d met, Jae never would have guessed the man’s smooth voice could tangle barbed wire around his heart. Now it was all he could do not to bleed to death when he heard snippets of it playing in a shop or on the radio. Over the phone, the rumbling silken tones threatened to wring every last drop of his life out of him.
“Say something, damn it,” He growled through the phone. “At least let me hear you breathe.”
Jaejoong choked back a sob and fell to his knees. His elbows resonated with the shock of striking the floor but his mind didn’t have room for the needling pain running up and down his arms. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard that voice say his name. If he’d known then, he would have somehow captured the rolling tones and stored them someplace safe, somewhere he could listen to them over and over again so they wouldn’t stab him clean through when he heard them again.
The cold of the floor ate through the thin fabric of his pajama bottoms, biting at his strained knee. It was a welcome pain, a balm to his broken heart. Curled up over his stomach, Jaejoong rested his head on the wooden slats and let his tears fall, unhindered by shame or pride. The guttural sob that wrenched itself from his belly could have been easily been uttered by a dying, savage animal, its neck caught in a forgotten, rusting steel trap.
“Don’t, Jaejoong-ah,” The man pled in a hoarse whisper. “Don’t cry.”
A derisive snort broke through Jaejoong’s sorrow and he mumbled through his anguish, “All I’ve ever done since you left is cry. Why should I stop now?”
He rolled over onto his back, stretching his spine out on the cold floor. Covering his eyes with one arm, Jaejoong trapped his phone between his chin and hand, breathing in deeply to shake loose the terrors crawling through his chest.
“I never meant…I never meant to make you cry.”
“You couldn’t avoid it,” Jaejoong whispered. “You made your choice…”
“I made the choice I had to make,” He said. “My father…my family…”
“The family endures where the individual expires,” The singer murmured, echoing the mindset of their culture. “I know. I know.”
“I…miss you, Joongie-ah.” More caramel drizzles spat hot pain on Jae’s broken heart. “I… this is too hard. This is too much. I don’t know how I can be expected to smile and laugh without saying your name anymore. They want me to erase you from my life…from our lives. How can I do that when I sing words that your mouth knew? How can I be expected to ignore the empty space at my side?”
“You have to,” Jaejoong reminded him. “You chose to empty that space. You sing my words. You worry about your pain? What about mine? Have you thought of my pain when you cry or just how you feel?”
“I can’t argue with you about this again. Not any more.” He bit his lip, tasting blood. “You can’t do this to me anymore, Yunho-sshi. You lost the right to do this to me.”
“Don’t call me that,” Yunho snapped. “No matter how far apart we are, can you say that I’m never there? That I’m never with you?”
Anger coursed through Jae and he balled up his fist, slamming it into the floor. The sound of his flesh and bone hitting the wood echoed in the apartment and he cried out into the phone, his rage tearing through his pain. “Why can’t you leave me alone? Why do you do have to do this to me? Why call me? Why now?”
“Because no matter where I go, I find pieces of you waiting for me. I can’t take a sip of coffee without remembering drinking some from your mouth when we were walking along the river in the snow. Every time I see someone with a beanie on his heads, I wonder if it is you. I smell something good cooking in the building and my heart gets tired because it knows that it’s not your hands making me my dinner.” Yunho’s voice dropped to a whisper, curling promises around Jaejoong’s heated skin. “How can I walk forward without you next to me? Without taking some part of you with me? I can’t anymore, Jaejoong.”
“We can’t be together,” Jae reminded him. “We can’t even be seen near one another. Have you forgotten that? Have you forgotten how they’d break you if they found out you’re talking to me?”
“I don’t care,” Yunho said. “I was stupid to think I could live without you. Now, I think I won’t be able to survive myself without you. It’s too….empty inside of me, Jaejoong. There are places in my soul that withered away. I just need…to see you. To touch you even once. I need you to live. I need you to help me breathe again. Is that too much to ask?”
“Yes,” Jae whispered softly. “Because if you touch me, I will die. You are my Death, Yunho. If you kissed me, it would be like razors on my lips. It would feel bright and alive but when you draw back, I will bleed and choke on my cut tongue. I can’t survive that, Yunho. I can’t survive you.”
Despite himself, he worried. He knew of their handlers rough treatment first hand. It was different for Changmin and Yunho. Over the years, their family connections protected them more from the non-stop abuse but with the three singers taking flight, Jaejoong was loathe to admit he still worried for the two they’d left behind.
They listened to one another, a few shuddering breaths through a phone line then Jaejoong asked, “Are you okay? Are you alone?”
What he meant to say…what he asked in between his stumbling words was Are you safe?
“There’s no one here,” Yunho replied softly. “It’s dark and the hallway is empty. Luckily, you don’t have any neighbours who are up this late at night or there would be trouble.”
“Neighbours? Where are you?” Jaejoong pulled himself up, a throbbing, impassable pain heavy in his throat. He staggered to his feet, using a hand to steady himself against the wall. He took one step then another but his feet felt swollen under him, unable to do more than drag across the floor towards the front door. Staring down the length of the hall from his bedroom, he could barely see through the shadows to the foyer. “You’re here? Downstairs?”
“Outside. Right outside,” Yunho whispered, husky and laden with dark promise. “All you have to do is open your door, Jaejoong and I can step right inside. Where are you now? In the dark? Turn on a light and let me see your shadow under the door. Give me that much, Jaejoong.”
“You ask too much.”
“You give me too little,” Yunho murmured back. “One light. One shadow. If that’s all you will give me, can I have it?”
His fingers shook, nerveless and cold. He’d lived in the apartment for several years but he couldn’t locate the wall switch he used every day since he’d moved in. The slider gave easily under his touch, flaring the hallway lights to their full brightness and what he saw in his foyer took his breath away.
The scent was subtle, a hothouse fragrance not found in wild flowers. Coaxed to bloom under fragile conditions, the roses Yunho’d shorn were delicate with a faint, sweet perfume, not at all like the blooms Junsu’s mother grew in her backyard garden. A few tentative steps and his toes brushed the rose petals Yunho’d shoved under the crack of his front door, a blanket of peaches, yellows, pinks and reds.
They greeted the dawn with their whispers once when they’d crawled under the blankets in some long forgotten hotel room. At some point in the middle of the night, Jaejoong murmured he loved a rose named Peace the most, loving the deep rich red swirls curling around the darker apricot and blush petals.
From the spread of Peace and red rose petals near the door, Jaejoong realized Yunho’d committed every word he whispered to heart.
“What did you do?” Jaejoong whispered into the phone as he tread over the rose petals.
“I kept the thorns,” Yunho murmured back. “I wanted to give you only the sweet. None of the pain.”
The brightness in the foyer spilled out under the door, illuminating a sliver of hallway carpet outside and Jaejoong’s heart stuttered when he spotted a shadowy break in the light’s escape.
“What’s a rose without thorns?” Another step forward and suddenly his breath ghosted sweet with the perfume of a hundred torn blooms.
“True,” His former lover agreed. “Sometimes, the best thing about you was your thorns.”
It would have been easy to open the door and let Yunho tumble back into his life but the soft perfume of flowers under his feet wasn’t enough to wipe away the tears he’d shed. Another few steps took him to the front door and Jaejoong leaned his forehead against the painted wood, breathing in the same air as Yunho for the first time in countless months.
“Sit down, Joongie-ah,” Yunho ordered softly. “Let me feel through the wood. Put your hands on my shoulders or your back against mine. We can pretend we are out at the river, listening to the city around us.”
“I…” The anguish in him grew until it burst with sharp teeth and claws through his skin. “I don’t know if I… can hurt any more, Yunho-ah. Even the rose petals under my feet feel like thorns inside of my soul because you’re near me…and I can’t… I shouldn’t touch you.”
Nearly every nerve in Jaejoong’s body ached at the nearness of Yunho’s hands and mouth. His mouth remembered the touch of Yunho’s lips and tongue as they explored and teased him open. His center ached to be pulled apart and plunged into, his depths reached until he flew from the pleasure of being impaled on his lover’s sex. It’d been too long since the flesh on his throat burned from the nip of teeth in the middle of the night and even worse, the itch between his shoulder blades grew at the memory of Yunho’s hard bites when he reached his climax, binding them together in pleasure and pain.
“Sometimes I wish God would take you from me,” Jaejoong begged. “So missing you …so wanting you wouldn’t hurt because I couldn’t have you. Sometimes I wish He would take me so I wouldn’t feel this way any more.”
“Do you really feel like that? Do you really wish that?” Yunho’s voice caught and guilt flood Jaejoong.
“No.” He slid down the door, his nails catching on the wood grain beneath the white paint. The sharp bursts of small pains were enough to bring the air back into his lungs and Jaejoong sat down hard, his bones jostling beneath his skin. “I miss you on me. I…miss you in me.”
“I miss you too.” The velvet was back in Yunho’s voice, a sensual rake of promise on Jae’s soul. “I miss how I could almost taste spice when you spilled into my mouth. That sweet heat of you in my throat…it’s hard sometimes to wake up and realize that I’ll never have that again. I would do anything for just one more taste of you.”
“I couldn’t survive you tasting me one last time, Yunho-ah.” Jaejoong’s tears were back and he buried his face against his pulled up knees, soaking through the thin cotton of his pajamas.
“I would extinguish the sun if I could wake up with the taste of you in my mouth forever. I wished I never let you walk away from me.” His words dipped low, curling up under the perfume of rose petals and licking at the base of Jae’s sex. “If I had my way, I’d never let you go again. Not until the moon turns to sand in the sky.”
On the other side of the door, Yunho played with the thorn-studded stems he’d shorn. They still held a faint hint of cloying sweetness in their green skin but the memory of the petals were all they had left to them. He understood now the stillness and death of the empty long stems. They no longer had their beautiful, erotic softness to complete them. All that was left of their beauty was a harsh reminder of pain and blood. Everything that made them desirable were gone, torn free from their sticky green receptacles, they were lackluster promises of fragrance and exotic memories.
“Just like my life…” Yunho leaned his head back against the door, squeezing his eyes shut as he closed his hand over a bundle of thorny stems. They bit into his skin, digging deep into his palm but he welcomed the pain. It was all he had left of the beauty he’d carelessly torn from his life. He’d wear any scar openly if only to remind him of his loss.
Then, in the rose-scented darkness, he heard the click of a latch being turned and the door behind him opened.