Title: Coffee & Regrets ♥
Chapter: Se7enteen [R]
Overall Fic Rating: NC-17
Chapters: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
Enter the Lottery to Learn Ji's "Unobtainable's" Name
Summary: A pair of lovers, worn and faded by time, hope to recapture what they once had… or walk away after bittersweet goodbyes.
“He got a tattoo,” Se7en said, wiping the sweat from his torso with one of the studio towels. “A fucking tattoo.”
“Yeah, I know how that is,” Yunho replied, nodding knowingly. “It kind of takes you by surprise. I didn’t even know until you told me.”
“Shit,” The other singer swore under his breath. “Shit and I told you Jaejoong took him. Fuck.”
“It’s okay,” He smiled at Se7en, shrugging. “I’ve learned lately that I can’t control Jaejoong and I probably should never even try.”
“Good lesson to learn.” The man saluted Yunho with his water bottle, chugging down a mouthful to cool himself off. “Jae probably get pissy when you try.”
“Pissy doesn’t begin to cover it,” Yunho snorted, opening his own bottle to take a sip. “Raging pissed is a better term. So what did he tell you about it? Why did he do it?”
“Because he wanted to… express himself.” Se7en exhaled, his breath a harsh rasp. “He wanted it to mean something… something to remind him of me and that he should keep reaching for something that might be out of reach. Shichishoku.”
Yunho searched his knowledge of Japanese and came up empty. “What does that mean?”
“Seven prismatic colours formed by light coming from a prism.”
“Explain, idiot,” Yunho said, bending over to stretch his legs out.
“He was the white light, focused on only one thing… pure white.” Se7en dampened the towel then ran it over his face. “He met me, the prism, and his focus shifted and his world became vibrant, full of colours. Still intense but different. Beautiful. He met me and in his mind, I made him beautiful… feel smart… feel like he could do anything he wanted to do.”
“Shichishoku…” Yunho repeated. “He was always that. He’s always been beautiful and smart. He makes us feel stupid most of the time.”
“Yeah, but now he feels like he can see it.” He shrugged. “That I made him see it. I told him that he was silly… he was always those things but he told me to fuck off and let him make his own decisions about what he wants on his body.. or who he wants in his body.”
“Why do you share those things with me?” The man snapped at his friend. “I don’t want to think about Min… damn it. Why do you talk about that with me?”
“Give it up,” Se7en snorted. “The only reason you don’t want to hear it is because you have wet dreams of him and Jaejoong.”
“I swear, I’m going to drain the water out of this bottle and shove it down your throat.”
“Yeah, I love you too.”
“So where did you leave it?” Yunho asked.
“I bit the spot then sucked him off.” Se7en grinned and sprinted out of the dance studio, dodging Yunho’s water bottle as he went through the door.
Changmin was waiting for him when he got home.
Se7en leaned against one of the glass decorative walls separating the living room from the rest of the house, silently watching the young man sitting on the couch. Min’s ever-present headphones were on, sealing him off from the world. Min’s bare feet rested on the couch arm, his toes bobbing in time with the music.
It looked like the younger man stole some of Se7en’s clothes to wear, a white t-shirt two sizes too big for him and a pair of black cotton pants he rolled up at the hips to make them fit. Lithe and long, he easily fit into the curves of the couch, his shoulders and feet propped up on either end.
He never understood how Changmin believed he was plain and unremarkable. From where Se7en stood, he could clearly see why his breath was stolen from his body the moment he saw the younger man on the outside balcony.
Min’s hair was dark again, fringed around his face and cut up shorter in the back. The style made him look younger but elegant, accentuating the delicate bone structure of his face. The light shifted as the sun weakly shone through the clouds Changmin’s dark brown eyes changed, marbled with amber and sienna.
“I can hear you breathe, you know,” Min said, not looking up from the book he had in his lap.
“You have headphones on,” Se7en said, padding over to the couch and sliding over the arm to sit between Min’s feet. “How can you hear me breathe?”
“I can always hear you breathe. Even when you’re not around men,” Changmin replied, meeting Se7en’s amused gaze with a serious expression. “I’ll know the moment you die because my world will be plunged into silence and I’ll go mad with loss.”
“I never knew you were such a romantic.”
“I’m not,” Min said, turning the page and looking back down. “I am rationally plotting ahead for my care once that happens. I’ll have to have money set aside and find a good facility to take care of me. One with a rice cooker, of course.”
“I am going to pay for the rest of my life for that, aren’t I?” Se7en pulled on Min’s toes and stroking at the bottom of his feet. The other man didn’t react, visibly steeled against the tickling.
“Yes,” Changmin replied. “Especially since you killed the one I gave you. Murdered. That’s a better word. You murdered the one I gave you.”
“Murder is such a harsh word.” Se7en winced and he stilled his caress of Min’s feet. “It…fell.”
“Unless it walked out to the patio and somehow got up to the railing then pitched itself off to fall twenty stories,” Min said, eyeing the man from under his lashes. “Then I don’t think it could have supposedly fallen.”
“How about if we forget about the rice cooker and talk about your…tattoo?” He asked, changing the subject.
“How about if we talk about how my ex-then again-but soon to be ex-boyfriend saw my tattoo, pulled up my pants and then drove me here to sleep?” Min cocked an eyebrow. “In another room.”
“I needed to think.” Se7en explained. “I came to realize something.”
“Oh?” The eyebrow didn’t go down. In fact, it was joined by the other in a sarcastic expression of mock surprise.
“Hear me out,” He said, pulling Min’s feet up so he could sit on the couch between his lover’s bended knees. Changmin resisted for a second then allowed Se7en to settle in, his eyes wary and hooded. “Don’t look at me like that. You remind me of a praying mantis about to eat her mate.”
“Why would I eat you when I have a perfectly good balcony I could throw you off of.” Min said slyly. “Apparently its very existence drives perfectly rational appliances to toss themselves over so no one would question the demise of a clearly unhinged singer doing the same.”
“Look, I’ll buy you a damned cooker for every day of the week if you’ll just shut up and listen to me for a moment.”
“Shut up?” The eyebrows lowered, narrowing the distance between them.
“Minku,” Se7en rested his forehead against the other man’s shins. “Just let me talk.”
The young man set his book aside and leaned back against the arm of the couch. “Talk then.”
“The tattoo…” Se7en steepled his fingers over his mouth, thinking of how to say what he was thinking. “My first reaction was that you were too young…”
“I…” Min stiffened.
“Let me talk.” He held up his hand, cutting the younger man off. “Please.”
“Sorry,” Changmin mumbled, biting his lower lip between his teeth. “Go ahead.”
“Okay…and stop doing that because it’s distracting me,” Se7en said, reaching forward to touch the tip of his finger to Min’s moistened mouth. “I can think of a thousand other things for that mouth and those teeth to be doing besides chewing on yourself.”
“You’re supposed to be talking, remember?” Min nipped at Se7en’s fingers then kissed them. “Go on.”
“Our relationship... is odd,” He started. “When I first saw you…when we first got together you were kind of innocent. No matter how much you’d seen or knew, you were still naïve in a lot of ways. Then we fell together and our relationship… I don’t know…happened or developed, however you want to say it.”
“We were in our own bubble, with everything outside staying outside. I think in a lot of ways whenever we had to go our separate ways, we put everything between us on pause,” Se7en said. He hooked his hands under Min’s calves, keeping eye contact with the younger man. “But we… the world kept turning and we changed but our relationship didn’t change with us. You became older, more independent and I… took a beating to my ego.”
“What happened in America was fucked,” Min growled, resting his hand on Se7en’s face, stroking at the soft hair at his temple.
“Yeah it was,” Se7en agreed. “But when I came back, I wasn’t expecting who you’d become and I don’t think you were expecting me having to deal with my failures.”
“Those weren’t your failures, Shichi,” The singer said. “You did everything…worked for everything…”
“See, the young man I left would be more comforting,” He laughed, wrapping his fingers around Min’s wrist and pulling his hand down. Se7en kissed his lover’s palm, licking at the long line leading down his palm. “I’m not used to this fierceness. I don’t know what to do with this independent adult. I see you in him but there’s so much that’s changed.”
“Not all of it for the better,” Min said bitterly. “I hurt the people I loved because I was angry. The members… God, Shichi, the things I said to them…the things I said to you…”
“We agreed to go forward,” Se7en reminded him. “See, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. Last night when I saw the tattoo, I was infuriated because you did something like that without telling me… without consulting me, especially since it’s still healing, so I knew it was recent.”
Min stiffened again and tried to yank his hand free of Se7en’s grip but the older man held him fast. Growling menacingly, Changmin said, “Let go.”
“No, not yet,” Se7en kissed the fist he now held in his hand. “See, I was wrong, baby. I was wrong for thinking that because you’re not the little boy that needs to run to me for approval every time you want to do something. I think I was too used to you calling me… asking me if I think something you do is a good thing. I think in my eyes, you were still that lost little boy I found on the balcony. That date last night was lovely…romantic and special…”
“Yeah?” Min said, eyeing his lover with an intense suspicion. “It was like the one we had in Japan.”
“Yeah, that’s what’s wrong with it.” He said. “I was trying to recreate our beginning instead of starting new. I owe you new, Minku. Starting fresh shouldn’t mean starting from the beginning again. It should mean starting from who we are now.”
“I confused. So my tattoo made you stop because what? I’m different? I’m older?”
“Yeah, and I should learn to love the man who got the tattoo,” Se7en kissed Min’s clenched fingers. “Not admonish the boy I thought was there.”
Dinner was simple, pasta with butter and shrimp. Se7en kept to drinking wine, enamoured at watching Min sip his beer while cooking. The young man moved with an assured confidence, reading the recipe at each step and organizing his ingredients as he went along. He didn’t ask for help or advice and when Se7en stepped into the kitchen for more wine, Min slid around him without stopping to linger for a caress. The seriousness made Se7en smile but he couldn’t help but feel a little sad. The young singer appeared to have lost the wonder in his world. Things weren’t new anymore and life became something to go through, from Point A to Point B, without any stopping along the way.
“That’s my role in this,” Se7en thought. “It’s time for me to be the dreamer and teach him how to see rainbows again.”
He started by stealing a pea pod from the washed pile Min lay out to dry. Changmin frowned at the theft but didn’t say anything when Se7en bit into it then offered the rest to his lover. Hesitant, Min took a second before biting into the pod, chasing it down with a mouthful of Tsing Tao.
“It’s nice having you cook,” Se7en said as they sat down for dinner. “Something you’ve just started or have you been doing it for a while?”
“I’ve had some time to learn,” Min grinned ruefully. “And I’ve had some brilliant failures. I’m personally responsible for the burning death of at least three saucepans and one cookie sheet.”
“So are we even in kills because the cooker counts more or are you ahead?” He asked, teasing a wider smile out of Changmin.
“I don’t know if tossing an appliance from a great height is the same as immolating helpless cookware,” Min replied. “The rice cooker obviously insulted you and you had to avenge your honour.”
“It reminded me of you,” Se7en said quietly and the humour disappeared from Changmin’s lips. “No, don’t take away that smile. I earned it. I want it back.”
Saluting the other man with his beer bottle, Min smiled at Se7en’s teasing. “Sorry, it’s been…tough.”
“Smiling,” Min said. “It’s been hard to smile sometimes. It’s better now that I’ve talked things out with the other three.”
“Was it hard?” Se7en asked. “Working things out?”
“Yeah,” Min nodded. “But it was worth it. It’s not perfect but… I’m trying. It’s hard for me to let go of anger. I wish I could… I wish it were easier but it’s not.”
“It’s because you’re strong-willed,” He said. “That’s a double-edged sword sometimes. Great anger and great ambition. I get like that too.”
“You don’t snap people’s heads off,” The young man replied. “I said some pretty shitting things to Jaejoong.”
“Did you say the same things to Yoochun and Junsu?”
“Funny thing is,” Min said, poking at his pasta. “No, I didn’t. Just Jaejoong.”
“I think it’s because Jaejoong is…” Min stood and retrieved another beer, stopping long enough to refill Se7en’s glass with red wine. Sitting down, he untwisted the cap of his beer bottle. “When I was younger, I looked up at Jaejoong. I made him someone in my mind that I wanted to be. He was… is handsome and talented. I always felt like I wasn’t as good or as strong as he was.”
“You and Jaejoong are probably the most unlike people I’ve met.”
“Yeah, I know that now but back then, I thought I could be… Jaejoong,” He laughed. “What I didn’t realize was that I couldn’t be Jaejoong because he already was Jaejoong. I needed to be Changmin.”
“What made you discover that? The break between the two and three?”
“The break in the five,” Min corrected. “And it wasn’t really a break, it was… is a disagreement.”
“It was touchy there for a bit,” Se7en said.
“It still is sometimes but that’s more the company than us,” Changmin replied. “In the beginning of this, I was so angry at Jaejoong because I felt like he was betraying me… us… the company. SM was, in my mind, our father, sort of. It felt like they were being unfilial.”
“It’s a company, Changmin,” The older man said then stopped himself. “I’m sorry. I know your relationship with SME is different than mine with YG. We’ve… gone over that.”
“If you mean screamed at each other when you say ‘gone over’, then yes, we have.” Picking up his fork, Min speared a shrimp, chewing on the bright pink meat.
“I was being nice.” Se7en replied.
“I was being honest,” Changmin took another bite of shrimp. “I think I took my anger out on Jaejoong. He was… my parental figure in the group…”
Se7en cocked his head, “Not Yunho?”
“No. Yunho is…more like a mentor,” Min explained. “Jaejoong… I put him on a pedestal. He was my mother and father, my hyung and the man I wanted to be. Even as I got older, I think part of me left him up there.”
“That’s…” Se7en was unsure how to express his conflicting thoughts. “I don’t know what to say about that.”
“I do,” The younger man replied. “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have made Jaejoong … a symbol. He’s a man. I wasn’t betrayed or let down. He loves me as a brother but he doesn’t owe me anything more than that love. His choices have to be his… just like my choices have to be mine.”
“Like that tattoo?” Se7en asked.
“Exactly like that.” Min nodded. “I chose shichishoku because a prism is something tangible that white light, an intangible. passes through to become something else.”
“Shichi for me?” The older man used his thumb to wipe a drop of butter off of Min’s lips. He licked his thumb clean, tasting Min on his skin.
“Partially,” Changmin said. “But a prism has more than one side…usually three. I have a lot of influences in my life… you, the members and my friends. Shichishoku represents what comes out.. what has come out of those influences. I’m a stronger, more varied light than I was before you… and the others… joined my life. So you see, while I carry a part of you… your name… on me, what is there has been changed to represent me.”