Notes: This is me, wanting to get my word count over 100,000 this year... :|
Summary: No one believes Jaejoong, Yunho is too responsible for his own good, and five years is a long time.
“It never would’ve worked,” Yunho blurts out, and it’s so cliché, so fucking hackneyed that Jaejoong would’ve laughed at him for it had this situation been any other. Instead, he takes a drink from the water bottle he’s holding and thinks it’s funny that Yunho chose this moment (five years as DBSK and still counting, he thinks; hopefully another five, ten, twenty, forever more) to tell him. “I mean, it’s not working. I’m sorry I ever kissed you, I’m sorry I let it happen, I’m sorry I kept letting it happen, I didn’t –”
“Okay Yunho, stop,” Jaejoong cuts in because, no matter what, he doesn’t want to hear Yunho say he didn’t mean it. “You’re right, leader-sshi. Don’t worry about it, you know? I agree with you.” Jaejoong even smiles, and it turns the corners of his eyes up so convincingly that Yunho believes him.
“Thank God,” Yunho breathes, relief accidental and so sincere that Jaejoong can’t even begrudge him the feeling. “Jaejoong, thank you.”
“What are you thanking me for?” Jaejoong asks, curious, fingers curled tight so as to hide the shaking. The water bottle crinkles loudly, and he sets it down on the table behind him.
“For this,” Yunho says, and gestures between them. “For forgiving me. For not letting it destroy anything. Thank you.”
Jaejoong laughs at that, and if his laugh is a little forced, a little strained, neither of them says anything. “Yunho.” There is friendship before adoration in his tone, Dong bang shin ki before Kim Jaejoong. “Yunho, you don’t need to thank me like I did you a favor. I didn’t.” He untangles Yunho’s hands for him, having steadied his own, and holds them for a second. “After all, it’s not like I didn’t kiss you back.”
He lets go of Yunho’s hands and tucks his own into his pocket. “Thank you for being my friend,” Yunho says suddenly. “Thank you for being…you.”
“Oh Yunho,” Jaejoong breathes, and if it sounds like he is about to say something else, he transforms it into a smile. He walks away before he does anything that will embarrass himself, like look at Yunho for too long or ask him for something he won’t be getting.
“Where were you?” Hyejin, their stylist noona, asks, a little impatient. “We were looking for you, you know. If you don’t remove that makeup, it’ll get hard to remove later, and you don’t want to do anything that will hurt your complexion.”
“Just talking to Yunho about the future,” Jaejoong replies vaguely, shrugging. “Five years is a pretty long time, you know.”
“It is.” Hyejin dabs at Jaejoong’s skin with something milky and cold. “Congratulations, Jaejoong-sshi. I hope you have many more years to come.”
“Thank you.” Jaejoong smiles at her in thanks, like he has been doing all evening, and suddenly he is tired and just wants to go home.
“So you’re coming out tonight, right?” Yoochun pulls over a chair and sits down heavily, oblivious with his famous good timing, fingers tapping – because he needs a smoke or because he’s hearing a song no one else can, Jaejoong isn’t sure. With Yoochun, they are often the same thing.
“Am I?” Jaejoong asks in surprise. “Since when?”
“Since Seunghyun had the night off,” Yoochun answers promptly. “We’ll go out to eat or something. Get piss drunk in celebration. Or not at all. Whatever. Come on. We haven’t seen him in ages.”
Jaejoong groans and bangs his head against the table, slipping a thanks and a good night to Hyejin, who scolds him lightly. “Yeah, okay, I guess,” he finally concedes, making sure to stress his reluctance.
Yoochun laughs at the pout on Jaejoong’s face, and pats his head. “We deserve it, so don’t complain. I’ll get the car started. Come out when you’re ready.” Yoochun walks away, and Jaejoong leans heavily on the arm of the chair, thinking briefly and longingly of being eight years old again.
Jaejoong walks past Yunho on the way out, and taps him on the shoulder. “Good work today. See you tomorrow, Yunho-yah. Good night.”
“Tomorrow then,” Yunho says after the initial reaction of hesitation. Jaejoong is amused, wonders if he should be offended – amused that Yunho is surprised Jaejoong is doing just what he asked him to do, or offended that Yunho apparently didn’t think he could. “Night, Jae.”
Jaejoong stands in the doorway for a second and rolls the familiar nickname around in his mouth, trying to suck all the affection out of it. He jumps when Yoochun leans on his car horn outside and he hears Yunho’s soft, sudden laugh behind him. Jaejoong wants to stay behind and take the subway home with Yunho, hoods pulled up over their heads, like they did three years ago, and go home, maybe share a cup of tea. Jaejoong wants to turn around and ask Yunho to reconsider. Jaejoong wants – he doesn’t know what he wants anymore. He steps outside and waves his arms tiredly to get Yoochun to stop beeping.
“Where to, good sir?” Yoochun jokes when Jaejoong slips into the passenger seat, checking his phone for messages.
“Far away from here sounds fine.” Jaejoong shrugs. “You lead me, chauffeur. I trust your judgment.”
“Aye, aye, captain. I’ll try not to let you down.”
They drive in silence for a few minutes. “Yunho set me straight today.”
Yoochun doesn’t even look over. “Oh?”
“Yeah. He told me we should stop.”
“Will you?” Yoochun sneaks a peek at Jaejoong, who is looking disgruntled and weary and more than just a little upset.
A slightly incredulous laugh. “Well, I can’t exactly continue a one-sided affair, Yoochun-ah.”
“Technically you could, it would just be extremely lonely. But we’re used to that.”
“Maybe you are.”
A scowl, but no heat behind the twist of Yoochun’s mouth. “I don’t appreciate that.” A pause. “You know what I meant.”
Jaejoong slouches down in his seat. “I don’t know. I mean, I have to, don’t I?”
Yoochun sighs. “That doesn’t answer my question, Jaejoong,” he sing-songs.
“Shut up and drive,” Jaejoong grumbles. “No one cares about your questions.”
“Aish, touchy.” Yoochun drops the subject though, and taps his fingers on the steering wheel instead.
They drive in relative silence, punctuated only by Yoochun’s lazy humming. He segues from a ballad of theirs to a catchy Japanese tune to an original melody, and Jaejoong props his head on his hand, elbow on the window.
“Hey Yoochun? How’d you know?”
Yoochun stops his humming. “About you and Yunho? Didn’t you tell me, or something? Don’t remember, to be honest. Maybe I figured it out. Wait – no, I think you told me. That’s right, you told me twice, actually – once with Su, Changmin and Yunho, and once with Seunghyun and Hyunjoong. Why?”
“Eh, I was just trying to remember if you were okay with it when you found out.”
“I was, but Junsu wasn’t, remember?”
“Oh yeah,” Jaejoong muses, suddenly recalling Junsu’s uncomfortable, unhappy face upon hearing the news. “What about Changmin?”
“You know that kid,” Yoochun waves a hand. “All modern schooling and whatnot. He was fine.” He hesitates. “Actually, I think Yunho had seemed least okay, after Junsu.”
Jaejoong winces at that – it is undeniably true. “Well he ended it, didn’t he,” he replies glumly.
“Sorry Jae,” Yoochun says sympathetically, patting Jaejoong’s hand after he’s stopped the car. “I’ll buy you a drink tonight, how about that?”
“Alright, good.” Jaejoong brightens at that, walk suddenly more spirited. “Maybe Seunghyun will even treat us tonight.”
“I didn’t know you were the type to place your faith in miracles.” Seunghyun breaks in dryly, eyebrow cocked. He moves over to give the two of them room, and Jaejoong throws himself into the seat beside Seunghyun, sighing.
“Does our friendship mean nothing to you, Seunghyunnie?”
“Nope,” Seunghyun replies calmly. “Now order your food already, I’m hungry.”
“I’m so tired,” Jaejoong complains around a yawn, arm resting on Seunghyun’s shoulder. “Yoochun-ah, why couldn’t you just let me go home and sleep?”
“And what, mope?” Yoochun scoffs. “You should be glad I had you come out instead.”
“You didn’t even know until I told you in the car!”
“Eh. Soulmate connection.”
Seunghyun listens to the exchange amusedly. “Mope about what, Jaejoong?”
“I don’t mope,” Jaejoong replies automatically, at the same time that Yoochun says, “Yunho.” Jaejoong kicks Yoochun under the table and Seunghyun laughs.
“Just something stupid,” Jaejoong mumbles, at the same time that Yoochun says for him again, that bitch, “Because he broke up with him.” This time, Jaejoong shoots Yoochun a death glare.
“You guys were…dating…?” Seunghyun looks at Yoochun and Jaejoong for confirmation of his term usage, eyebrows raised.
“Ugh, of course not,” Jaejoong says, making a face. “How stupid, we’re – he’s – it wasn’t like that. It was just something stupid. You know.”
“Aish, you don’t believe me?” Jaejoong complains, dropping his head onto his arms. “Why do I even surround myself with you people.”
“Jaejoong, the thing is,” Seunghyun’s voice is suddenly very close to Jaejoong’s ear, soft and apologetic. “Jaejoong, the thing is that if you could have seen your face when you told us about it – if only you could’ve, you would have a hard time believing yourself too.”
When Jaejoong weaves his way out of the door, waving his arms, Yunho laughs and catches Hyejin in the middle of an eye roll and a slightly exasperated ‘how-old-is-he-again’ smile.
“Jaejoong-sshi hasn’t changed much, has he?” She asks, shaking her head and tilting Yunho’s chin up to dab at the liner under his eyes. “I still think he’s eighteen sometimes.”
“You and me both,” Yunho replies, lifting his shoulders. “It’s part of his charm, I guess.” It comes out bitterer than Yunho intended, and he smiles to lessen the sting.
“You two have been friends for a while, huh,” Hyejin murmurs, packing up her things. “It must be nice, no?” She smiles at Yunho in a kindly, older-sister fashion, and Yunho doesn’t have the heart to correct her.
“Yeah, we have. It is nice, most of the time.”
Yunho calls a taxi home, and spends most of the ride in a half-awake, half-dreaming state, wondering idly how Jaejoong’s personality will allow him to deal with this.
Home is a small comfort, and Yunho collapses on the couch when he walks in through the door, thinking about theoretically taking a shower or maybe even getting some water and actually doing neither. He’s still sprawled on the couch when Changmin walks out of the bathroom, rubbing at his hair with a towel. “Hi hyung.” Changmin nods at Yunho, sitting down at the other end of the couch. “Why are you home so late? Me and Junsu were out the moment everything ended.”
Yunho makes a noncommittal noise, sitting up. “I’m so tired, Changmin-ah,” he whines, and leans heavily on Changmin. They stay like that for a while, Yunho’s nose in an awkward position against Changmin’s hard shoulder, and the water from Changmin’s hair dripping into Yunho’s.
Changmin works an arm around Yunho’s shoulders, patting his arm affectionately. “You okay, hyung? Why so cuddly tonight?”
Yunho winds his arms around Changmin’s waist, and sighs. “Just need some comfort, Changmin-ah.”
“Everything okay?” There’s a moment’s hesitation, as if he’s unsure whether he should say it or not. “Did something happen with Jaejoong-hyung?”
“What could have happened?” Yunho mutters but he closes his eyes, pulling slightly away from Changmin. “…Depends on your idea of okay.”
“So something did happen then,” Changmin decides. “What did you do, hyung?”
“Why is it something I’ve done?” Yunho asks crossly. Changmin gives him a look like he’s about to say something, but Yunho is saved from answering possibly incriminating questions when Junsu stumbles out of his room, blinking and rubbing at his eyes.
“I fell asleep,” he offers though he isn’t asked, yawning. “For like, I don’t know, half an hour. Hey, are you guys cuddling? I want a cuddle too.” He pads across the room and worms his way in between them, snuggling up to Changmin who protests half-heartedly but lets him anyways. Yunho is glad for the momentary intrusion, and lets himself be swept up in Junsu’s warm, magnanimous affection.
“Hey, Su,” Changmin says, and leans in to whisper something in Junsu’s ear. Yunho hears ‘Jaejoong-hyung’ and ‘something wrong’ and tries to wriggle away, to no avail.
“Can we not talk about it?” He pleads, especially when Junsu turns to him with serious eyes. “Oh Junsu, please don’t look at me like that.”
“Yunho,” Junsu says quietly, and reaches up to pull Yunho closer. “Yunho, I know I said some things when you told us, but – but you know, I got used to it.” Changmin reaches across Junsu, and tangles his fingers in Yunho’s sleeve, and suddenly Yunho is tired – he is tired and he just wants to go back to when he was young and still dreaming of fame and to tell his younger self to just give it up for a normal life.
“Junsu, it’s not – I didn’t – Junsu,” Yunho lowers his eyes because he doesn’t want to see the gravity of the situation imprinted on both Junsu and Changmin’s faces. “Junsu, it wouldn’t have worked out, it wasn’t plausible, it wasn’t smart, it wasn’t sensible, it wasn’t proper. Junsu, Junsu, I just – I would never have given this up for my own selfish ideals of romance.”
“Oh Yunho-hyung,” Changmin breathes, and he leans over Junsu to brush a kiss to Yunho’s cheek. “Hyung, you’re so responsible.”
“You’re so stupid,” Junsu bursts out, mouth turned down in a pout. “Yunho, don’t you think I would’ve fought harder if I didn’t believe in you?”
Yunho smiles at this, and squeezes Changmin’s hand and Junsu round the middle. “Thank you, dongsaengs. Go to sleep early tonight, okay?”
He hears Junsu mutter about evading his question as he starts the shower, and Changmin’s dry reply of just drop it already. He thinks about it as he shampoos his hair, about the fear, the nervousness he felt the first time he kissed Jaejoong (as opposed to the first time Jaejoong kissed him and he didn’t reciprocate), the crushing weight of Dong bang shin ki combined with tradition combined with the one dream of being a father that he just can’t seem to shake and Yunho wonders – what made him brave enough to kiss Jaejoong the first time?
When Jaejoong and Yoochun come home, it is late and they probably have to be awake tomorrow and Jaejoong wonders why the hell he ever let Yoochun talk him into this.
“Night, Jaejoong.” Yoochun stumbles down the hallway after kicking off his shoes and Jaejoong watches him crawl into bed through the doorway, shaking his head at the way Yoochun doesn’t even bother changing his clothes.
Jaejoong sighs, and thinks about maybe stealing one of the cigarettes that Yoochun swears he doesn’t smoke, or maybe running himself a long bath. He even thinks fleetingly about stepping out again, though they usually leave the late night shenanigans to Yoochun.
Instead, he takes a quick, scalding shower, and changes into one of Junsu’s shirts, hoping some of Junsu’s perpetual cheeriness will hopefully rub off. He stops at Yunho’s door and debates knocking – in the middle of his internal argument, Yunho opens the door and Jaejoong almost screams.
“Jaejoong-ah?” Yunho looks at Jaejoong, who is holding all the jewelry he was wearing that night in his right hand and his cellphone in his left and looking inexplicably guilty.
“Oh, uh, I’m sorry Yunho-yah, did I wake you?” Jaejoong presses a hand to his beating heart, biting his lip.
“No, I just – I only came home about an hour ago anyways.”
“Oh, okay,” Jaejoong says softly, and shifts his cellphone to his right hand as well, metal clinking with the earring he wore. “Sorry for, you know, disturbing you. Good job tonight.” Jaejoong makes like he is going to walk into his room, too tired to muster up a smile.
“Yeah –” His reply comes out quicker and louder than Yunho intended it to be, and Jaejoong looks back curiously. “Five years, huh, Jaejoong-ah?” He asks lamely, searching Jaejoong’s face.
“A long time,” Jaejoong agrees, smiling bemusedly. “Good night, Yunho-yah.” He turns to walk away again and this time Yunho grabs Jaejoong’s wrist.
“Jaejoong, I. I’m not good with words, you know that.” Yunho looks at Jaejoong pleadingly, and barrels on. “Jaejoong, I’m not good with words and I’m not good with new things but Jaejoong-ah, if you’ll forgive me one more time and, well, five years is a long time Jaejoong-ah, and you never know, I mean, I never know and it’s just I’m – I’m sorry I’m like this sometimes but.” He stops, unsure if he’s making himself clear or just digging himself a deeper hole.
Jaejoong smiles, and pulls his wrist away. “Yunho-yah, it’s only been five years, yeah?” He presses a chaste kiss to Yunho’s cheek, pausing to breathe into his ear, “Here’s to another five more.”