Rating: Overall NC-17 (This section... possibly R?)
Hot chocolate and bunnies provided by: ranalore
Summary: Section Eight.
The beginning of a shifting relationship. Hot Korean boys. Sex. Dancing and some angry words. Not necessarily in that order. Not necessarily in each section.
Section One; Section Two; Section Three; Section Four; Section Five; Section Six; Section Seven
Crimson rose petal clouds hung on the edge of Seoul’s skyline, the winter sunset bleeding the steel grey away in preparation for the crispness of a cold night. The streets were empty, missing the hordes of people, bundled up warm against the biting wind whipping in between tall downtown buildings. Snow flakes clotted the breeze, shoring up against the sidewalk and turning to slush on the steaming vents pressured from a subway’s grates. A bell tolled low in the distance, a opulent ringing of tradition on cast pot metal.
Just outside the office window, a clearing of land curved around the river that cut through Seoul, the landscape dotted with small tributaries and gardens, perfect for families to gaze at the water and share an ice in the summer. The winter kiosks had just started opening, evenings filled hot mists rising from portable steamers and tea pots with merchants gathering at opportune spots to peddle their wares to chilled customers. A cluster of parking spaces lay empty along a pocket of yellowed grass, fallen leaves carpeting the ground in a blanket of burgundy and golden decay. In the freezing blanket of snow covering Seoul, Jae could barely make out the icy greyness of the water, crackling sheets of ice smashing against the ornamental rocks placed along the river’s edge.
Yunho had left him in the small room just off the dance studio, reasoning that the closer confines would warm better compared to a large empty space. They weren’t going to be going anywhere for a few hours, the main roads closed down as work crews struggled to clear the streets of melting piles of snow. A van sat up on the far side of the road, its tires resting against the sidewalk, fender crumpled from hitting the guard rail protecting the park grounds. The long streaks of rubber left by its careen on the iced over asphalt had been obscured by more snowflakes, its wake merely a memory.
While the office was definitely warmer than the studio, it lacked the clean aesthetics of the wooden floored expanse. Most of the furnishings were items leftover from various living rooms, cast-offs of others’ lives shored up against the walls that heard the panting breath of dreamers. A stack of mattresses served mostly as a couch, the thick-piled softness covered with a mish-mash of pillows, most of them with at least one passing nod to a spectrum of colours that should never have been paired together. Blankets and quilts, some faded grey from tears and time, covered most of the mattress edges, a lone end table crookedly holding up one corner in a vain attempt to provide the room with a forgotten elegance. The walls bore signs of quarrels and inspiration, long strings of Korean and Chinese cribbed into cramped lyrics, the pencil graphite faded on top of poems written in the heat of a passion since cooled.
With the heat dialed to high, Jae tasted the rank humidity of the stream on the recycled air, a pregnant green amid the crisp blueness of winter. He’d always disliked the cold, feeling the bite of it in the depths of his bones. Winter was good for roasting chestnuts and cracking open the soft hot shells, peeling back the paper-thin covering and popping the sweet meat into his mouth, but the studio’s office was getting too warm, his fingers reddened from the hot air. A flick of a switch kicked the vents back down to a normal flow, the air sweetening as Jae cracked open the window, trying to get the staleness out of his breath.
Jae bit back a grimace, rubbing at the soreness in his thigh. The torn muscle ached, more from the cold than anything else but the throbbing warmed his palm, a worrisome sign that he would need more than a day’s rest to heal the damage he’d done. Settling down against the mattress, he tried to work the leg of his pants up over his knee, worry at the fabric until it bunched up over his thigh. The sweat fleece, worn nearly thin through, gave easily under his strong hands, stretched out until he could see the purpling expanse of his thigh. Hissing at the sight of the injury, Jaejoong unscrewed the tiny jar of Tiger Balm liberated from Yunho’s backpack, the red-orange salve pungent and thick with cloves.
“Let me help you with that.” Yunho had rejoined him, carting two red paper cups, steaming and fragrant. Handing Jaejoong one, the young man placed his on the floor, not trusting the precariously balanced end table, its cock-eyed legs unevenly canted on the cement floor. “Drink some of the cocoa. It’s not great but it’s all I could find. It’ll keep you warm.”
Sighing, Jaejoong sniffed at the opening of the lid. The dark richness of hot chocolate greeted his sugar-starved body, mouth watering at the thought of it on his tongue. Grunting a reluctant thank you, he sipped slowly, the burning liquid searing his taste buds.
“Ah! Hot!” Panting, Jae inhaled sharply, already regretting the too-hasty decision to sip at the steaming liquid. A familiar rippling of bumps deadened the surface of his tongue, the sweet chocolate running down his throat. “Too hot.”
“Careful. It’s very hot.” Yunho smiled over the edge of his cup, watching Jaejoong’s lips purse as he panted to suck cold air over the tortured spot. “You are always too impatient. You never let things cool down first. How do you taste anything with your burnt tongue all the time?”
“Stop teasing me.” Jae growled, a throaty purr rumbling in his chest. “How was I supposed to know it was that hot? You could have warned me before I drank any.”
“Give me your leg.” Yunho sipped at his own cup before setting his cocoa back down, patting at his thigh. Jaejoong peered at him through a curtain of dark bangs, eyes suspicious with trepidation. “Trust me. I’m not going to hurt you. We’re going to be here a while. Stretch your leg out on mine and I’ll rub at that muscle. Maybe it will help the pain unknot.”
Kicking off his sneakers and wondering if he had a hole in his sock, Jaejoong placed his foot over the space between them, resting his heel against the inner curve of Yunho’s leg. The young man’s fingers easily found the tender area, still warm from overexertion. Slowly working into a circle, Yunho pressed down, watching Jae’s face for discomfort while he massaged at the area, hoping to ease the other’s distress. Dipping his fingers into the balm, Yunho carefully scraped at the surface, taking only enough to coat the pads with a thin layer.
Moving his hand over Jaejoong’s leg, he touched at the sensitive, tender skin. Yunho barely skimmed the surface of Jae’s inner thigh, finding the beginning of the muscle and working the salve into the ridge bunched up along his lean bones. Jaejoong nearly jumped at the touch, a mewling keen of pain followed by a feral narrowing of his dark eyes.
“I’m sorry.” Yunho felt his words fill with meaning, emotions that he couldn’t name amid the chaos of having his hands on the warmth of the young man near him. Clearing his throat, he tried to shove his disrupted heart back into its place, ignoring the heavy pounding cracking his chest wide open. “I’m not trying to hurt you.”
“I know.” Jae stared down into at the foamy peaks of his hot chocolate, visible through the peeled back drink opening of the lid. The words he wanted to hear from Yunho’s lips would never come, tender and open murmurings running hot along his ear. It was too much to be near the other, the splinters in Jae’s soul deepening into chasms he longed to fill with something…anything so as not to feel the pain of Yunho’s hands on his body.
“What are we going to do?” Yunho’s question hung pregnant between them, a ridge of bony silence edged sharp with past words flung in anger and hurt. Glancing up at Jaejoong, the leader’s face bore no trace of emotion, his thoughts hidden behind the cold mask he easily pulled over his features to protect himself. Jae often stared into that face, sometimes wishing he could tear the porcelain perfection from Yunho’s skin… searching for the man laying beneath it.
“I don’t know.” Jaejoong finally answered, his heart skipping in fear then stilling with dread. “Do you want me to leave the group?”
“No.” Yunho’s emphatic reply startled Jae, nearly enough to make him spill the cocoa he had left in his cup. “Joongie, you are a part of us. It would be… it wouldn’t be the same without you.”
“Then what are we going to do?” Jae wanted to wrap his fingers into Yunho’s shirt and pull him close, tugging the other man closer until they shared nothing but the thinnest of veiled air between them. He resisted, angry at the dichotomy of his emotions. No one could make him soar the reaches of his temper like Yunho…and at the same time, fill him with the darkest of wants.
“I don’t know why you never listen to me…” Yunho started.
“All I can do is listen. Every time you open your mouth you tell me this or tell me that.” Jae snorted in exasperation, his pretty face a mockery of Yunho’s stern commanding features. “Jaejoong, you’re breathing wrong. You’re stepping wrong. You sleep too hard. You slurp when you eat noodles.”
“I’m the leader of the group.” Yunho rounded back, his fingers stilling on Jaejoong’s thigh. “I’m responsible for everyone.”
“Responsible for the group, yes. Responsible for me, no.” Jae shook his head, slamming the paper cup down onto the floor. Leaning in, he bent nearly nose to nose with the startled Yunho. “You barely give me room to move and then criticize me when I do. You are driving me away from the group with your shouting. I want to run until I can’t hear your voice any more because all it does it hurt me.”
“That’s not…” Yunho’s anger flared, a familiar whiteness threatening to overpower him. “We can’t argue this out, Jaejoong. Neither one of us can go anywhere at the moment, not for a few hours at least. If we’re going to get out of this anger without killing each other, then we have to start someplace. Start talking at some point. No more yelling.”
Crossing his arms over his chest, Jaejoong leaned back against the wall, eyes fixed firm on the other man’s strong face. Yunho continued to spread another layer of balm over the muscle, working under the mass, hoping to loosen the bundle of nerves clenching Jae’s thigh.
The silence between them grew, uncomfortable at first then smoothing into a soft cadence, punctuated by the sounds of snow striking the window outside. Reaching over, Yunho closed the glass shut, muting the world and encasing them in a cocoon of warm solitude. Jae’s flesh was warm beneath his hands, fluid and giving until he met the steeled velvet lying beneath.
“What do you want to talk about?” Jae reluctantly broached the quiet. Yunho smiled to himself, hiding the grin behind the pretense of looking carefully at Jae’s thigh.
“Anything you want.” Yunho’s thumbs worked at the long shadow running up the inside of Jae’s leg, curving around his hip and up into the hollow just below the bunched up fabric of his sweats. “Yoochun says that I don’t know you…not the real you. So maybe I should find out what he’s talking about.”
“Chunnie-ah has a big mouth.” Jaejoong muttered accusingly. His breath was coming in short pants, an uncomfortable thickening stretching his control. Placing his hands over Yunho’s, he stopped the other singer from probing any further along his leg. “I’m good. Thanks. Your chocolate must be cold by now.”
“At least I won’t burn my tongue.” Yunho teased lightly. “Tell me one thing that I don’t know about you.”
There was a secret hovering just at the edge of Jae’s heart, a spilling of desires rushing into a foolhardy tide that would consume his life if he whispered his need to Yunho. Swallowing down the hopes of his soul, Jae tilted his thoughts back, hoping to find something harmless to speak on while they withstood each other’s company. There were so many things Jaejoong could share with the leader, from the wish that he would continue running his hands over Jae’s body, searching out each inch of skin and licking it clean of the shivering just beneath the flesh to the fact that he often stole things Yunho discarded and kept them, secretive stashes of obsession he pondered the sanity of.
“Tell me why you won’t toss out that hoodie. It has a broken zipper and the hem is ratty.” Yunho nodded at the sweat jacket Changmin washed after it came up from Yunho’s car. He couldn’t understand Jaejoong’s need to cling to things that had passed their prime, a tattered ragamuffin of memories knitted with unfurled yarn and shattered buttons.
“I like it.” Jaejoong glanced down at the garment, feeling at the ribbing on the sleeve.
He’d lifted it from the trash bag when they’d first gathered, an unthinking action Jaejoong should wonder if he should regret but never had. Something in the forlorn cast aside hoodie, worn nearly thin from Yunho’s body, called to Jaejoong and he folded it under his shirt, often moving it around in his dresser until he was sure the other young man had forgotten its existence. It had since become a beloved thing, worn when he wanted to feel the warmth of Yunho’s presence around him.
“It’s comfortable.” Jaejoong defended his jacket, tugging it close around him. “I don’t like throwing some things away. I never know when I’ll need something to keep me warm. Something that keeps me safe.”
“I know how that is.” Yunho nodded, remembering the times he’d spent trying to scrape together a living to shore up his family’s life. Things were easier for them now, his future mostly secured with a little hard work and perseverance. “You spent some time… alone. Very alone. I’m sorry for that.”
It was hard to speak of their troubles before the group was formed, Jaejoong most reluctant than any of them. Yunho guessed things were harder for the pretty faced singer, much harder than he had himself. Loud noises made the other flinch at times and any casual touching often led Jae to slowly drift away, distancing himself from the person. The cold face Jaejoong wore hid more than just a scattered, chaotic personality, it also protected something broken inside.
“Do you mind sharing a bathroom?” Yunho asked, trying to lighten the situation.
“I have many sisters.” Jaejoong made a face. “That I can even see the bathroom is a miracle.”
“True.” Yunho nodded, his hands returning to Jaejoong’s leg. The singer moved slightly, as if to pull away but remained still, letting the other run his palm over the rise of his muscle. A small soft velvet curve of skin drew Yunho’s attention, his tongue aching to just take a small lick or nip his teeth against the depression, perhaps even drawing a circle of moisture with a damp finger…just to see the reaction on Jae’s face.
“There’s something between us, Jaejoong. I don’t know what it is but it’s there.” Yunho said suddenly, examining the thoughts that now crowded his mind. “We push and pull at each other. Sometimes there is nothing that I want more than to strangle you until you choke and turn blue and then…sometimes…”
“Sometimes it’s hard not to put myself in your hands so you can choke me.” Jaejoong whispered, his fingers ghosting over Yunho’s wrist. “I don’t want to fight with you, Yunnie.”
“We have to get along, Joongie-ah.” Yunho sighed heavily, unsure of how much longer he had the strength to fight off the insanity invading his mind. “For the good of the group, we have to find some way to work things out between us.”
“Not just for the group,” Jaejoong’s voice brushed tendrils across Yunho’s soul. “There’s nothing more that I want than to be… with all of you. Nothing else that can make me complete. I’ll do anything…be anything to have that. I need to have that…need to have… you in my life. Even if it breaks me.”