Pairings: Yunjae (hehe...what else??)
Prompt: True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked - Erich Segal and I would like to add in "and get your heart checked"
Yunho first saw him leaning against the brick wall of the alley behind Trance, sloe-eyed and prettier than any of the men singing on stage decked out in sequins and makeup. For a moment under the watery moonlight, the young man looked as if he were carved from glacial ice, long lines of blue shadow playing over his porcelain face.
Tendrils of smoke wreathed the man’s head, curling up from his pursed lips as he exhaled a lungful of cigarette smoke. Misty dragons danced in the darkness, chasing one another before the light wind carried them off down the street. The scent of cloves reached Yunho’s nose, a musky sweetness that made him wonder… for the briefest of moments… what the young man’s mouth would taste like.
“Hyung! Come on, we’re leaving,” Junsu called out to Yunho, breaking him away from his staring. He nodded at the dancer and when he turned back, the clove-scented young man was gone, whispered away into the night.
They tangled, growling as they passed one another. Yunho pushed at the pretty-faced waif with the flats of his hands, shoving Jaejoong into the wall. Clumsy, the lanky young man stumbled as his long legs twisted under him and he fell, hitting the wooden floor with a heavy thump.
He was up before Yunho was ready for him, fists clenched and swinging. Gone was the sweet-voiced little boy with a shy giggle and hidden secretive smile. Teeth bared, Jaejoong struck with closed hands, violent and hard. One blow hit Yunho’s mouth, cutting Jae’s knuckles on the snaggle of his canine. He tasted blood, first his, metallic harsh on his tongue and then a sugary copper when his lips parted under the next blow and Jae’s cut skin slithered across his mouth.
They became an embroiled ball, Yunho flinging himself at the smaller man, flailing at Jae’s head, hoping to land at least one blow in between the windmill fury of the singer’s fists. Coming in close proved to be Yunho’s undoing when Jae’s teeth sank into the soft flesh above his collarbone. Shredded skin peeled off under the force of Jae’s bite, not deep enough to draw blood but ripping off enough layers to bead water up from the wound.
Gasping, Yunho pulled back and literally screamed. Jaejoong’s fist came up between his legs, slamming into his manhood. Yunho’s breath rushed out in a squeak and black waves. Light crystallized in his vision and the world spun. Panting, he pulled back, clutching at his side and hoping his stomach didn’t spill out onto the dance room’s wooden floor. Blood dripped from the cuts on his face and Yunho choked on it, bile hitting the back of his throat, a raw yellow film mingling with his spit.
He hit the floor hard, rolling over onto his back. Stars curved in and out around his head then cloves infused his air when Jaejoong leaned over him. The singer’s stiff index finger poked Yunho’s chest, stabbing him with a pinprick of pain.
“I’m not one of those little boys who think you’re hot shit just because you’ve rapped and danced for other singers.” “Jae’s full mouth was peeled back in a feral snarl. Hit me again like that and I’ll kill you.”
Jaejoong stepped over Yunho’s prone body, his bare toes skimming the back of the other’s hand. Heechul stood at the doorway, blocking the lithe singer’s exit. He thought twice about hemming Jaejoong in when Jae approached, his eyes a murderous glare that pierced Heechul’s guts. Bumping the other singer’s shoulder as he passed, Jae shoved his way out of the dance studio, stalking down the hall to the showers.
“We should catch him later and beat him,” Heechul grumbled as he helped Yunho to his feet.
“No, I started it,” Yunho said, shaking his head and immediately regretting the motion. Seafoam swam about in his brain, crashing from one side to the other with a soft shushing sound of waves. An aching headache split over his forehead, lodging between his eyes. It throbbed there, embedding itself with a fierceness that reminded Yunho of Jae’s defiant snarl. “Anyway, I’m the one who keeps pushing him. It was only time before he pushed back.”
It was a quiet sniffle that brought Yunho up the stairs, the sound carrying down from the rooftop access door that should have been closed that late in the night. Stumbling home from a night of clandestine drinking with the others, Yunho fumbled to find the key to the lodging he shared with some of the others, freezing when he first heard the sound.
At first, he thought someone smuggled in a kitten, its mewling softly hidden under his breathing but the echoing bounce sounded again… clearly a muffled sob choked back and hidden behind either cloth or a closed fist. A scritch of a lighter followed then the distinct scent of musky smoke wafted down the short stairwell, its spicy aroma tickling Yunho’s nose.
Seoul had already put herself to bed, the streets numbing under the cold of the new winter. Yunho’s breath frosted in the dank air as he reached the access door. It lay propped open with a broken piece of cinderblock, letting the cold in through a cracked sliver. The clove smell grew stronger and Yunho knew it could only be one person, the incompetent dancer he and Heechul were slotted to be grouped with.
They’d come to an uneasy truce, broken only when Yunho snapped at the young man for missing steps as they practiced. He couldn’t master the simplest of routines, and the wild flailing of his limbs lacked the basest of grace. Yunho tried to coach Jaejoong at first then finally resorted to bullying, grabbing at the young man’s too long sleeves, wanting to roll them up so he could see what the other’s arms were doing under all that fabric.
He found a clenched fist under his nose and another snarl, then Jaejoong walked away, taking himself to the far corner of the studio to practice alone.
“Aish,” Yunho hissed in the back of his throat. The young man sat on the air compressor, the vents kicking up slightly warm air as it pumped heat through the dormitory apartments. Jaejoong’s arms were bared, his shoulders hunched over under the thin tank top he wore over his slender body. Sharp bony juts poked the shirt into small tents on either side of his spine, the blades barely covered by skin and too little muscle.
The red tip of his kretek glowed for a moment as Jae took a drag on its end, pulling its acrid sweet smoke into his lungs. Jae exhaled upward, letting the wind catch his scented breath in its fist, carrying it towards Yunho. The breeze was stingy with its prize, letting the dancer catch only the smallest of aromas.
Gauze tape wrapped around both of Jae’s elbows, holding a bit of cotton in place on the inside of his arm. Yunho stepped forward, a frown creasing his forehead. Heechul whispered once into his ear that the country-born singer did drugs… as well as other disgusting things that normal people didn’t even think about. The bandages were proof of something but Yunho didn’t think drug users bound up their arms.
They’d made fun of Jaejoong’s nearly impenetrable accent earlier that evening, fueled by drink and Heechul’s mocking impersonations. Yunho’s cheeks ached afterwards, his stomach hurting from the pull of his muscles. His friend mimicked Jaejoong’s dreamy long-distance stare perfectly, overacting the startled wide-eyed look the young man got when he was startled out of his thoughts.
Now, staring at the young man’s curled over body, Yunho wondered what he’d found so funny.
Tears marbled the singer’s snow-pale skin with silver lines, his lashes clumped together from the silent crying. The tip of Jae’s nose was red, either from the cold or from shedding some of his sorrow. His fingers shook as he brought the cigarette up to his pursed mouth, and the shivers that racked his body were painful for Yunho to watch.
Yunho was at Jaejoong’s side before he knew it, shedding the top layer of his clothing and placing the thick jacket over Jae’s thin shoulders. The singer jerked back, frightened by the sudden appearance of the other man. Heartbreak and fear lay in his eyes and Jae’s mouth trembled with panic. Vulnerable and open, the singer’s carefully laid fierceness cracked under the cold, long veins of something dark rising up to eat away at the young man’s confidence. Yunho saw a little boy there, beaten until bruised and broken, cut loose from any ties to family and friends.
Jaejoong struggled to reassert the ferociousness that kept Yunho at bay but swaddled in the other’s thick parka, he looked more like a drowned kitten hissing at the dog that dragged him out of the river’s current. Climbing up onto the compressor, Yunho crossed his legs and pulled Jaejoong close, letting his warmth flow over the young singer.
They didn’t speak. Neither dared. Yunho feared breaking apart the meager control he had over his own tears and Jaejoong didn’t know what to say. Instead, they sat there together until the sun turned the horizon a bright crimson and chased the night away.
The four of them were slated to be a group then they got news of a fifth member joining them. Each reacted to the news with different perspectives, Junsu worrying if he was being replaced while Changmin shrugged off the inevitable, knowing his life was no longer his own. Their “best friends” would be chosen for them, their relationships plastic and false under the glare of the camera. Yunho overheard the American-chosen singer’s audition tape and scowled, hearing a deep thread in the young man’s voice. He was the low point singer, providing a foundation for the group to rest on.
Stalking down the hall, he searched through the cramped apartment to look for someone to either talk to or yell at; he’d not decided which.
Jaejoong was the only one home and the singer lay on his bed, propped up against the wall with a manhwa spread open in his hands. He barely glanced up when Yunho came into the room, burying his attention into the pages. Yunho sat down on Changmin’s bed, his knees hitting Jae’s mattress. Annoyed, Jae flicked his eyes up, staring at the singer through his lashes.
“What?” Jae snapped, his mouth coloured with a pretty sneer.
They’d fought earlier, Yunho yelling at him when Jae missed a turn while dancing. Only Changmin’s irritated hiss at Yunho’s tirade brought the fight to an end before it escalated into blows. They stalked away from one another, coming together a few minutes later when Jaejoong walked off his mad.
“I need someone to talk to,” Yunho said, cutting his words with a bite.
“Go find Junsu,” Jaejoong said, returning to his book. “Or Heechul. I’m sure he’d like to fall down onto his knees and open his mouth wide for you. Who knows? He might even hear something you say.”
“Junsu’s not here,” He mumbled. “And Heechul won’t… understand.”
“Okay.” Jaejoong softened, moving himself over until he was against the side wall, making room for Yunho to sit down. The dancer swung over, settling into the nest of pillows Jae hoarded at the head of his bed, grabbing at a soft feather square to hug against his stomach. “Talk.”
“The new one… I don’t think he’ll fit in,” Yunho started, resting his head back against the wall. His hair puffed up against his skull, bristling to stand up around his head. “We’re fine at four. Why do they have to bring in someone new?”
“Did you ever think that he’s going to be scared coming into a four that’s already been together?” Jae countered. “You’re going to be our leader, remember? If you’re going to lead, you have to think about he feels. Park Yoochun doesn’t have family here, not like you and the dongsaeng. His Korean’s probably not going to be good after spending all that time in America and he’ll miss his friends. You don’t think he’s going to be scared?”
“No,” Yunho murmured, drawing out the word until it hummed in his throat. He’d not given Yoochun a single thought, concerned only with the possibility that the velvet voiced singer would replace him. “You’re right. They told us he’s being brought in to balance us out. I should trust that.”
“Good, now go away. I want to finish reading this,” Jaejoong said, reaching for his manhwa. Yunho grabbed his wrist before he could grab the book, pinning Jaejoong’s arm against him. The singer’s surprise was soon replaced with annoyance, his eyebrows knitted together in a frown. “What?”
“Why don’t you want to be the leader?” Yunho asked, pressing on a subject he’d left for being too tender to discuss. “You’re the oldest of us.”
“Because I’m…you’re better with people than I am,” Jae admitted, dropping his eyes. “I’m not… good enough to speak to the interviewers and I still sound like I’m stupid… from the country. You speak better. They can understand you and sometimes, I have a hard time focusing on what people are talking about. We need someone who is focused. You’re focused, Yunho-ah. You want to drive all of us forward. I have just enough inside of me to drive myself. I can’t do it for anyone else. Now go away.”
“Okay, fine,” Grumbling, Yunho slid off of the bed, tossing the pillow at Jae’s head. He stood there, staring down at the lanky singer as Jaejoong rearranged his bed, moving the cushions about until they cradled his back and shoulders.
“Now what?” The exasperation in Jae’s voice was more playful than pissed and Yunho smiled.
“I wanted to say thank you.. for listening to me,” He said, ruffling Jae’s hair, hoping to annoy him like Yunho bothered his younger sister. His fingers twisted in the soft silky black, curling around the other’s long hair. Jae slapped at Yunho’s hand and he pulled away with a laugh, stepping back into the living room and back to the video game he’d left paused on the screen.
There, alone and in private, Yunho lifted his fingers to his mouth and tasted Jaejoong on them.
There was a cold going around. It lodged deep into a person’s chest and scraped their throat raw. Yunho was the first to catch it and it lingered there, unwilling to give up its prize. Min fled the room they shared, dousing himself liberally with tonics. Junsu took off to be with his parents, taking a very healthy Yoochun with him while Jaejoong remained behind, his family too far away and too estranged to be of any use.
Grumpy from being isolated, Yunho raged at the singer in between coughs, mumbling foul things under his breath as he fought the seductive sleep brought on by the cold medicine Jaejoong shoveled down his throat. Drowsy, he fought the singer on every turn, sometimes using up all of his energy to protest being bathed with a wash cloth like a baby.
“If I wasn’t scared they’d make me the leader, I’d let you choke on your snot,” Jae said, slapping Yunho’s flailing hand away from the wash basin. “And if you make me spill this, I’m going to feed the rest of it to you as soup.”
Sleep claimed Yunho before he could respond.
He opened his eyes hours later, rubbing at the sleep crusted on his lashes. His chest hurt, a dull ache that smelled strangely of… cloves and cinnamon. Lifting his shirt, he sniffed under the collar and reeled back from tiger balm on his chest. Eyes watering, he began coughing, falling into a long, hard fit. Hands were on his back before he could pass out from lack of air, rubbing at the soreness along his spine.
“Drink,” Jaejoong ordered, passing Yunho a cup of warm tea.
The steaming liquid scorched the leader’s tongue and he grumbled when his tastebuds went numb. “Too hot.”
“Too bad,” The singer replied, leaning over to sniff at Yunho’s chest, His breath rippled Yunho’s t-shirt, his full lips whispering over the leader’s nipple hardening under the fabric. Straightening, he nodded with satisfaction. “There’s enough ointment on you. How does your chest feel? Better? Can you breathe easier?”
“Better,” Yunho gulped, shifting on the bed. His body was doing strange things, reacting to the softness of Jae’s hair when the singer bent back down to fluff up the pillows behind Yunho’s back. There was a tenderness to the stern order for Yunho to sit up and the taste of the tea was sweet with the raw sugar Yunho liked, not with the honey that the others preferred.
Breathing cautiously, Yunho waited for his lungs to seize up but only a twinge echoed. Coughing at the spasm, he handed the tea to Jae to hold until it passed. The bed gave slightly when Jae sat on the edge of the mattress, reaching with his free hand to rub at Yunho’s heaving chest. The friction felt good… too good for Yunho’s liking and he coughed again, trying to pull up his knees before Jaejoong noticed the thickening between his legs.
“I’m okay… good,” Yunho muttered, reaching for the hot tea.
Cradling the mug, he sipped carefully, wondering if Jae could give him enough of the cough syrup to knock him unconscious until he came to his senses. He drained the tea, not caring when it boiled down his gullet and sloshed heat into his belly. The curious burbling in his stomach now matched the odd tightening prickles along his sex and Yunho sighed, leaning back into the soft pillows, wishing Kim Jaejoong to be anywhere in the apartment… anywhere but next to him.
“If you can go to the bathroom, go but come back,” Jae said, standing and brushing the back of his fingers against Yunho’s temple, drawing away the sweat-dampened hair from the leader’s face. “You need something in your stomach. I’ll get you something to eat.”
Yunho waited a few moments then climbed out of the bed, staggering to the bathroom. A splash of cold water on his face cooled the flush from his cheeks but the knots in his belly remained, curling up again when he re-entered the bedroom to find Jaejoong stripping the sheets from his bed.
“Sit down.” Jae gave him a hard look. “You don’t look good.”
“I’m tired,” Yunho admitted.
A covered bowl held the promise of some kind of soup and his traitorous stomach griped about its emptiness. He barely had enough energy to cross the room, nearly falling flat on his face when his toes struck the area rug. Jaejoong was there waiting for him, the singer’s strong hands catching at his arms before he tumbled to the floor. Easing Yunho into the newly made bed, Jae helped the other man lift his legs up, pulling the linens up over Yunho’s belly.
“Here, open your mouth,” Jae said, sat down and held the bowl up, filling the wide bodied spoon with soup. “I don’t trust you to hold it.”
“I can feed myself,” Yunho fretted, wincing when a cough shook his chest. Gasping for air, he leaned back, stretching himself out as far as he could to ease the ache. Jaejoong waited patiently, blowing on the spoon’s contents until Yunho sat back up.
“Open and swallow. That’s all you have to do,” The singer said.
The words, innocently erotic, were hotter than the tea that Yunho gulped earlier. Sipping at the soup, he drew back, chewing on the lengths of seaweed he’d slurped up. “You made me miyeok guk? With shrimp?”
“Yes. Now eat.” Jaejoong pressed another spoonful up to Yunho’s mouth, his lips pursed over the bowl to blow it cooler. “You like it better with seafood in it instead of the beef, right?”
“Yeah,” Yunho replied, swallowing another mouthful of the sesame seed infused soup. “I do.”
“Good,” The other man murmured, dropping his eyes as he refilled the spoon. “Because, that’s why it has shrimp in it.”
Yunho never heard that affection could be shrimp-flavoured but if anyone ever asked him, he would swear it were true.
Bora Bora was exotic to their Korean-born eyes. Long stretches of white sand and sparkling blue waters were as foreign to them as the wilds of Russia. Sunlight sparkled bright as they disembarked the plane and Jaejoong slid on the orange metallic-lens sunglasses he’d purchased in Yongsan. Yunho followed close behind, ducking his head to accept an island-crafted wreath around his neck. Working the strand over his hat, he kept in close step with the singer, snagging the pull on Jae’s sweatshirt to slow him down.
“What?” Jae tilted his head back, staring up at the cerulean space above them. Clouds frosted the edges of the horizon, brushing against the range of mountains in the distance. The air was fresh, slightly ripe with the promise of a light rain and he tugged up the hood of his jacket, covering his head in case it misted. “It smells like.. a river is in the air. Yes, Yunnie-ah?”
“Yeah, like a river,” Yunho smiled, pulling Jaejoong out of the way of the baggage cart trundling past them. “Come here, you’ll get run over.”
Cameras were there to greet them, focusing in on their movements and capturing everything they said. Jae distanced himself from the frenzy, easily slipping into the mysterious persona the record company constructed for him. The concept matched his outward icy features but Yunho knew there was a small prick of pain when Jae overheard the managers saying that he couldn’t be trusted to speak for the group. The singer swallowed the eavesdropping with a steely aplomb but Yunho knew better.
He’d come to recognize the unshed tears on Jaejoong’s sensitive soul.
“Hey, hey…” Yunho called out to Jae again, grabbing him close. Turning the singer around, he hooked one arm around Jaejoong’s waist, pulling him into a loose embrace.
A spot of water sparkled on Jae’s cheek, pristine and as salty-sour as the waters that surrounded the island. Concerned, Yunho tightened his hug, cradling Jae in close.
“Why are you crying, Boo?” It was a hated nickname, a teasing mockery of the dreaming that Jaejoong fell into when the world spun too fast around him. He suffered it from Yunho, hearing the affection in the word rather than the disdain others spat at him. He’d once told Yunho in the safe darkness of a backstage that the leader made the word sound as if he were special. Yunho made certain from that moment on, he would use it only when the two of them were together, a sign of affection between them.
“It’s so pretty here,” Jae whispered, looking up into the sky to follow the clouds. “It can’t be real. Or I can’t be real. Something here is wrong.” Yunho’s heart stopped when Jaejoong whispered again, his words barely loud enough to be heard over the wind. “I feel like I’m the something wrong here. It’s too pretty for me to be here.”
Yunho could barely begin to find the words to soothe the singer’s troubles when a woman’s voice intruded, asking them if they were good friends.
Turning, Yunho glanced over his shoulder at one of the interviewers scheduled to follow them lurking close by, her assistant fixing the camera’s lens on them. Jae’s quiet sob caught on the wind, carried off like the cigarette smoke Yunho had been entranced with not so long ago.
“What kind of relationship do you have?” She asked, motioning the cameraman in.
Rocking Jaejoong, Yunho covered the singer’s mouth, knowing that what he did next would shock Jae but he wanted to give the singer something to hold on to, something worth as much as Jae was worth.
“We have this type of relationship,” Yunho said, bending his head to the side and laying a kiss as gentle as Jae’s heart on his neck.
He barely heard the cameraman murmur his appreciation or even the interviewer’s response. All Yunho knew was that in that moment, he found Heaven in the taste of Jaejoong’s skin. Pulling away, he smiled and grabbed at Jaejoong’s hand, pulling the other man towards the van.
“Yunnie-ah,” Jaejoong’s soft protest faded when Yunho pushed him against the parked van, the airport’s high cement walls blocking them from anyone’s view. “You’re supposed to be the sane one, remember? Aish, they’re going to think I infected you with my craziness.”
“You did that a long time ago, Joongie-ah,” Yunho replied, cupping Jae’s face in his hands after removing the bug-eye glasses Jaejoong wore. Then, he took his full real taste of the other man, imprisoning the lips that enticed him with a delicate tenderness. The singer tasted of sesame seed oil and cloves… of a midnight Korean wind and the promise of rain in the air. Breathing into the curve of Jae’s mouth, Yunho slid his hands down until they rested on Jaejoong’s waist and he pulled the other man close, fitting his body into the curves of Jae’s torso and hips.
He took another kiss, first with a gentle press then harder, as if Jae’s exhaled breaths carried the nectar of forgotten gods. Jaejoong responded under him, a slither of a moan escaping from his throat and then being trapped between their joined mouths. It died there in a content heaven, unable to break away from its exquisite prison.
“I should have done this a long time ago, Boo,” He suckled at the edges of Jae’s kiss swollen mouth, licking at the dips and valleys he found there. “A very long time ago.”
“Yes,” Jae said, tilting his chin up, his mouth parted slightly in an unconscious beg for another kiss. “It was too long… we should have.”
“Don’t worry, baby,” Yunho captured Jae’s chin between his fingers, bending his head to get another taste of the stars blossoming in Jaejoong’s mouth. “I’ll make it up to you. In fact, I think I’ll take an eternity of kissing you. Because, BooJae, forever sounds just long enough for me to be tired of loving you.”