Title: Coffee & Regrets ♥
Chapter: Eleven [R]
Overall Fic Rating: NC-17
Chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Summary: A pair of lovers, worn and faded by time, hope to recapture what they once had… or walk away after bittersweet goodbyes.
Seoul could have fallen in the silence between the two men and they would not have heard it. Changmin stood in the corner of the master bedroom, staring out the window at the city below, numb to anything other than the breathing of the man behind him. If he could take a few steps backwards, Min was certain he would be able to hear Se7en’s heartbeat.
Can half of a heart still beat? His gremlin whispered. If you hear it, will it be the other half of your own heartbeat? Will you then feel alive?
Changmin rested his forehead against the cool glass, listening to Se7en move around the room. Even after a year, he could see the older man in his mind, Se7en’s ruffled black hair swept back from his strong face. The creak of a spring and the shuffle of bare feet on a rug meant the singer was sitting down. In a few seconds, if they were still lovers, he’d lay back and pat the mattress, giving Min a wicked grin and a wink in the hopes the younger man would join him.
The singer didn’t know what hurt more; seeing Ji laying on Se7en’s long body or not hearing the pat-pat-pat of the man’s hand on the bed.
“Are we going to do this?” Se7en asked. “The view’s nice but you’ve seen it before. Even after a year, the city doesn’t change much from up here.”
“You’re angry.” Min tapped his head against the window.
Of course, he’s angry, his mind whispered. There are times when I want to move into someone else’s mind…someone intelligent..
“Great, now my own brain’s against me,” The younger man sighed to himself. Sliding around, he leaned until his shoulder blades hit the glass. The cold would bolster him, he thought, remind him that he wasn’t totally to blame for their parting although at the moment, he couldn’t remember what started the argument to begin with. Cocking his head at Se7en, the singer asked softly, “What started this? This argument?”
“What killed us?” Se7en looked down at the carpet, not seeing Min wince at the cut in his words. “You tell me. You walked out. Even after everything you said to me, I was still willing to work things out. You closed the door on us. You didn’t answer my phone calls and you were the one who changed his phone number.”
“The company gave us… new phones,” Min started to say. Even knowing he was telling the truth, it still sounded like a feeble excuse. “I… shouldn’t have let it go this long. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry would have cut it if it were only a few weeks, maybe a month,” The older man said, looking up. His eyes were cold, frigid amber against Min’s entreaties. “It’s been a year and the first time I see you, you’re almost undressed and bleeding from another man’s hands. What happened to you, Min? Who have you become since you left me?”
Ji pressed the ice pack against the side of his face, wondering if he shouldn’t pull over and wait for some of the swelling to go down before he continued driving. The night sky was beginning to darken, the evening’s stars lost behind the glow of the city’s lights and Seoul’s temperamental weather. His Audi was newly waxed, the gleaming black glossy paint swirling with neon from the billboards on the main strip and he hated to get spots on it.
“If I don’t crash because I can’t see,” He grumbled, hitting his phone link on the dashboard. Letting the GPS access, he let the system scroll through his list of friends, hoping to find someone home in the early evening. “Who do I know nearby? Hell, who won’t give me crap about Dong Bang’s baby hitting me in the face?”
Ji knew who was nearby. Every time he drove to Dong-Wook’s apartment, he couldn’t help but glance down the street, foolishly catching a glimpse of a certain balcony on a particular building. It was silly. It was as if he were one of the giggling girls in their school uniforms chatting over cakes and teas when a hot guy walked by.
“But he’s definitely a hot guy,” Ji murmured softly, rumbling with a longing moan.
He clenched his teeth, aroused at the thought of the man’s long-fingered, artistic hands and down-swept mouth exploring his body. Tapping his fist on the steering wheel, Ji admonished his self control. A quick drop of the ice pack between his legs didn’t help. His face still throbbed and his groin took up the beat.
Pulling over, he parked where he could see the building he always sought out. A foolish thought strayed into his mind, wondering if the older man was home or if he were busy. Finding the apartment was easy. He’d studied the floors so often he could identify the drapes and he thought he saw them flutter but couldn’t be sure. The ache in his heart lessened a bit at the thought of the older man looking for him among the crowd and he sighed, resting his chin on the wheel, hoping to catch a glimpse of his crush.
It hurt to see Se7en in pain. He loved Dong-Wook…as much in the present as he’d done in the past. Cocky and brash, the persona of Se7en hid a romantic, sleepy-voiced singer who’d run into more than a few rough patches in his life. The trip to America had been disastrous, and despite the talent and dedication Se7en brought to the studio, he’d been cast aside when the studio was done ‘trying on the Asian thing’. Nothing he had done seemed to matter, even working to smooth out his English only gained him derision from some of the management.
“No one wants to hear a failed ESL student sing love songs,” Se7en said after a few mouthfuls of whiskey. “He said that right to my face, like I wasn’t standing there. I guess he thought I couldn’t understand him. He kept bobbing his head and smiling while he insulted me. I wanted to punch his face in but I couldn’t. Everything I had was riding on whether or not he’d promote me.”
“You should have punched him before you left,” Ji said, patting his hyung on the shoulder. “And what’s an ESL student?”
“God I love you, Ji. It means English as a Second Language. Don’t feel bad. I had to look it up.”
Se7en’s bold laughter was nice to hear, especially after weeks of brooding. The America trip had been hard on his mentor but worse was the steeped anger and hurt Se7en wouldn’t speak about. Now knowing the other man was in love with Shim Changmin, everything made so much more sense.
The lean singer was everything Ji was not; somber, handsome, elegant… and tall. Wrinkling his nose, Ji made a monkey face at himself in the rear view mirror. Mostly, he thought in sheer disgust — Min was handsome and tall. He knew he was cute. Ji traded on it. He used his amiable features and flexible body to sell his music, often trading on his charisma to get him past doors that would normally be closed to him.
The industry viewed him as unthreatening and silly, sometimes shocking but not so much that he’d be shunned. He encouraged that image, hiding his proclivities in plain sight. No one expected the court jester to be anything but outrageous. He’d be famous before they realized he’d meant to push every button on purpose and stretch every rule he could.
Life isn’t worth living if you didn’t bend it until it breaks, Ji thought with a grin. He sobered thinking of the men he’d left in Se7en’s apartment. But that doesn’t work for hearts, Chil and I know now that you’ve bent your heart past breaking and you still love him.
“All I’ve got to say is; he better be worth it, hyung,” Ji nodded, reaching for the ice pack again. The cold leeched any feeling from his cheekbones and he was grateful for the numbness. It was becoming difficult to see out of his eye and he worried that Min had gotten him in the middle of his nose. He’d have two black eyes before midnight if that was the case. “Damn, I should get some aspirin. That’ll help.”
He took one last longing peek at the apartment above him, wondering if he’d ever see past the drapers. Pursing his lips, he stared at his phone, his fingers itching to reach out and tap out the number he’d stolen from TOP’s phone months ago.
“You’d tell any of the others to go for it, Ji,” The young man whispered, staring at the brightly-lit screen. “You’d cheer them on as they dialed and help them get dressed when they went on their date. But oh, I don’t even know if he likes… guys like that. Hell, I don’t even know if he’d like me like that.”
Only one way to find out. He thought. Call.
The phone was ringing before Ji even had the headset in and the soft growling voice on the other end gave his stomach the shivers. Under his t-shirt, his nipples peaked, roused only by the sound of the man’s gentle hello. Swallowing, Ji plunged in, puffing out his cheeks before speaking.
“Hey, gae!” Ji winced when the pain in his nose and cheek traveled across his face and into his teeth. “I’m glad you’re home. I kind of need a small favour.”
“I don’t know…what happened to me,” Min admitted. His lashes were wet with tears and he wanted to wipe them away, erasing any sign of weakness from existence. “Just everything… became so much. The members…”
“You can’t blame this all on the members, Changmin,” Se7en said quietly. “Jae and the others did what they felt they had to do in order to remain sane. You chose to react the way you did. You’re the one who said things in anger, not them.”
He rested back on his hands, crossing his ankles out in front of him. The older man was the picture of casual elegance; a beautiful face and a sculpted body clothed casually for a night in. Only the tenseness around his mouth betrayed the tenuous hold he had over his emotions and Min wanted nothing more than to wipe away the crease between the other man’s eye brows but he’d lost the right to do that long ago.
“I’m not…” Min closed his mouth, worrying at the necklace he wore. “Standing here in front of you right now is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
“Walking out that door…walking away from me should have been the hardest thing that you have ever done,” Se7en said, tilting his chin up to meet Min’s eyes.
There was a shimmer across his burnt amber gaze, tears swelling from heartfelt emotion. Unlike the young singer, Se7en never hid his emotions, even when they could be seen as unmanly. Not for the first time, Min found himself envious of the man’s confidence.
“I know I should have… been a better lover…”
“You should have been a better friend,” Se7en replied. “You should have let me be a better friend.”
“I just… everything was so…” Changmin explained. He paced, counting off the strides in the back of his head. He reached five and turned around, laughing that everything in his life seemed focused on that one number… that single number. “It felt like they were leaving me. Like they wanted to leave me. I hated Joongie-ah for turning me away. It felt so… good to be angry at him. And then you came back and I should have loved you better…held you tighter and I didn’t. I know that now. I didn’t… I didn’t know that a year ago. Things are different now. I’m different now.”
“I’m not so certain I like the different Min.” The other man said. “The man I fell in love with took care of the people he loved. Even if he was heavy-handed with it, he still…thought of people. He still thought of me even when the world was pushing in on him. My Min would have talked to me. Or at least reached out to me in some way. You…this Min…shoved me aside and to be honest, baby… I’d had enough of being shoved aside to last a lifetime by then. I needed you. I needed you to need me. I didn’t need you to tell me I was just a piece of shit on your shoe.”
“It’s so easy for you. Everything is just…” Changmin threw his hands up in the air, exasperated. “Haven’t you ever made a mistake? Haven’t you ever done anything that made you wonder if what you were doing was worth it?”
“Hell yeah,” Se7en laughed, a bitter hard sound, and said, “I fell in love with you, didn’t I?”