Chapter Fifteen - Understanding
JONGIN WATCHED AS Seo Kyung ran out the door after Do Hyun and he thought the tears would never stop. He had laid out his heart and soul for Seo Kyung and she brushed right past them. She barely even acknowledged them at all.
“If you walk out that door, you’ve lost me.”
The sentence had been out of his mouth for less than a second and Seo Kyung was gone. In less than a second, all of their years of friendship meant nothing. After everything they had been through together, it was all made irrelevant by one simple action.
Jongin stood, motionless, in her apartment for what could have been days. His eyes were fixated on a nondescript spot on the wall and his feet were frozen in place. Suddenly he couldn’t feel his fingers. Everything he had ever loved and waltzed right out the door without even thinking to pause and look back. He wasn’t sure if what was bubbling up from deep in his chest was anger, sadness, remorse, or grief but whatever it was made him want to scream.
Wordlessly, Jongin his heel and forced his heavy legs to carry him out of Seo Kyung’s apartment and back into his own. He walked right past his mother and sister who asked why he was home so early. It took him three tries to turn his bedroom door handle so he could enter the room but it didn’t take him long to strip out of his jeans and back into his pajama pants. He cracked his bedroom door open for a second only to tell his mother and sister: “Don’t open the door for Seo Kyung. I’m not in the mood.”
The two women exchanged looks when he closed the door, but followed his wishes when Seo Kyung came knocking about ten minutes later.
Jongin admitted that when he decided he was going to leave hickeys all over his best friend's body, he wasn’t in his right mind. She certainly wasn't in hers when she gave him red bite marks on his shoulder and neck as she reciprocated slightly. He bet she wouldn't even remember. She had a knack for forgetting things like that. He admitted that in that moment of weakness when she was above him, straddling him on the couch with her hair falling down her shoulders and her shirt partially undone, his mind was clouded with pure lust. The need for her. All he could think about was the taste of her skin and the soft cries of pleasure coming from Seo Kyung’s beautiful mouth. All Jongin really wanted to do was kiss her until he thought he was going to pass out, but he refrained from that.
Jongin knew, somehow even through his haze of lust, that Do Hyun was off somewhere worrying about Seo Kyung’s health. There was someone out there that got to kiss Seo Kyung whenever they wanted. Jealousy reared its ugly head and Jongin kissed her harder, eliciting a delicious moan from the girl under him. For years, Jongin thought that Seo Kyung was his and his alone and he hated the thought of some other boy kissing her and touching her. It was practically his mission to get her to completely forget Do Hyun’s existence that day. From the amount of times Seo Kyung muttered Jongin’s name along with “Don’t stop” or “Right there” he had succeeded.
Of course, when Jongin had... created an accident down there, he had given her one last kiss on the neck before hurrying out of her apartment to clean up. (“Oh... that’s what happened.” I blushed madly at the thought.) It had taken all of two minutes for the bliss to wear off and the guilt to settle in. Only moments ago, Jongin had convinced Seo Kyung to basically cheat. She had allowed him to kiss, and bite wherever he wanted. All while encouraging him to do so and even doing a little bit of kissing and biting herself. (Did I really do that?) Jongin was fairly certain she hadn’t been in her right mind either, but that didn’t make what happened any less wrong.
When Jongin left himself behind and became Kai on stage, he sometimes borrowed that feeling of lust to put in his performances, even if the guilt came back afterwards. More times than not, however, he thought of his love to help him get through performances. Guilt still bubbled up from time to time, especially when that lust got to be too overwhelming. Jongin never really stopped feeling guilty about that day but sometimes the feelings before were just too good to forget. He never just wanted to sleep with her, though, the thought had only crossed his mind the one time. He would rather show her his love through various other methods.
Jongin’s time away from Seo Kyung was too much at times and there were times he would almost crack. He would sit on his bed, his face tear-stained and sticky with his finger poised over her name in his phone. There were times he would dial the number and let it ring a couple of times before hanging up and tossing his phone across the room. She didn’t want to talk to him, that’s what she said at Christmas. (Did I really say that?) Don’t ruin that for her.
Each day was a struggle to get through without her but with the help of the 12... 11... 10... 9 other boys around him he got through. Jongin was certain that he annoyed the living hell out the rest of Exo, always talking about Seo Kyung and how much he loved and missed her. Suho and Kyungsoo were willing to listen the most. Jongin was always showing Suho the pictures of her on his phone, wanting the older boy to see how gorgeous she was. (So that's how he recognized me...)
When they finally saw each other again at the noraebang, Jongin had a lot of questions for her. Things like “Why did you kiss Baekhyun?” “How did you end up at a place like this?” “How many other people have you kissed?” “What the hell happened while I was gone?” but all of those questions completely escaped his mind when he saw her face. His questions were ridiculous compared to the things going on in Seo Kyung’s mind, so he decided not to ask them. Seo Kyung had the priority.
In her turquoise dress, she looked stunning. Those heels made her legs look a million miles long and her hair was pulled back, exposing the pale neck he remembered coating in purple as if it was yesterday. Her neck was like a canvas and Jongin yearned to paint again. He could almost feel her skin on his lips, he could almost taste her. Jongin wanted to touch her, to hold her against him, to run his fingers over the skin he had spent twelve years memorizing. Even before they fought he had always wanted to touch her, hold her, but it was even worse when he saw her again in that dress.
She was beautiful, he refused to use the word y quite yet. Somehow, if it was possible, she had gotten prettier since he saw her last. He had almost wanted to kiss her, but not out of romance. He wanted to pull her to him and pepper her face, lips, neck, shoulders, everywhere he could see with kisses of relief. She was right there, in front of him again.
When Jongin saw the first tear, that was it for him. He watched as it trailed down her cheek before he pushed it aside with his thumb. Jongin was going to take responsibility. Everything was his fault and he was going to own up to it. He would admit to anything just as long as she stopped crying. He’d always hated seeing her cry.
“DOES THAT ANSWER your questions?” Jongin inquired, looking at me over the plastic table at the convenience store. Just as he said, the store wasn’t far away and if I strained my ear, I could hear the sounds of the Han river not too far away.
“I think so...” Jongin hadn’t left much out, at least nothing that I could catch.
However much I wanted to hate him, to say that he had done something wrong, I couldn’t. I could always trust Jongin to tell me everything when I asked and he hadn’t failed to deliver. For years, I thought that I was the only one who was having a hard time and it was Jongin who was having a carefree, easy life as an idol. Well, as easy as an idol’s life could be. The thought that he would be missing me and having a difficult time hadn’t even crossed my mind.
“Jongin-ah...” I started, my hands reaching out to hold the can of beer my best friend bought for me as he told me his story.
“Mm?” Jongin took a careless sip from his can before setting it slightly aside.
“I’m sorry. Here I was thinking that you were entirely the one at fault and I had nothing to do with it.” I looked down at my hands. “I thought I was the only one having a hard time with losing you. I thought you never wanted to see me again and I spent most of the time you were gone preparing for that, trying to figure out a way to live without the one person who was there every single day. I didn’t even stop to think that you would would be feeling this way, too. Lost.”
“I’m lost without you, Kim Jongin.” I spoke a truth I hadn’t realized was a truth until the words formed on my tongue. “I’ve been lost, wandering in a dark maze-” he laughed at that for some reason.
“Me, too.” He muttered through giggles.
“But now that we’re together, I found the light at the center and I can find my way back now.” Jongin was still giggling, but it didn’t upset me. I knew he was listening.
“I’ll have to show you that video later.” Jongin chuckled, wiping away a tear from his eye. “Seo Kyung-ah, literally and metaphorically, it’s the same with me.”
I away from my hands and at my best friend again. He was grinning from ear to ear- did he always used to smile this much?- and a touch of humor danced in his eyes. Jongin moved his beer can aside and leaned forwards. He took my hands off of my can and held them, completely enveloping my small hands in his large ones. Gently, Jongin pressed his soft lips to the back of each hand reassuringly. He looked up at me with that softness I never got tired of.
“We were never meant to be apart, were we?” Jongin spoke the words as they entered my brain.
“No, we weren’t.” I agreed, taking this opportunity to lean down and press my lips to the back of his hands. “Let’s never let a silly misunderstanding like this come between us again, okay?”
“It wasn’t silly if it hurt you like that.”
“It kind of seems silly now. To think that we didn’t want to see each other for that long.”
“Well, I suppose I did mean it at the time.” Jongin mused. “But I didn’t mean it about two days later. I suppose I was too scared to face you. You were always so sincere.”
“I meant it at the time, too. At the time, it wasn’t a choice. I wanted to chase the safe love instead of pursuing the risky one. Now that I think about it, I suppose Do Hyun was never the safe love, was he?” I almost laughed at the thought.
“There is no such thing as a ‘safe love’ now, is there?” Jongin squeezed my hands and I watched as a picture opportunity slipped through my fingers once again. With twinkling lights behind him and a light in his eyes that was powered solely on affection. He had always been photogenic and I wished I could take a million pictures of him.
“I guess not.” I went to pull my hands away to take a drink, but Jongin’s grip tightened. I met his eyes and I supposed that I had some questions to answer as well. “I was drunk, tipsy at least, when I kissed Baekhyun. So was he. He was far more drunk than I was. It’s not like I was expecting you to notice.” There was a pause. “Are you jealous?”
“What?” Jongin’s eyes widened and he let go of my hands to pull his beer can closer as a form of protection. “No. Why would I be jealous of Baekhyun?” Jongin’s lip stuck out in a pout and all I could think of to do was to kiss it right off.
“Well...” I trailed off, deciding to figure out how far I could go. “He is pretty attractive and even drunk he had a pretty good voice. Is he a vocal in Exo?”
“Seo Kyung-” Jongin almost whined in protest but instead took the saddest drink of beer I’d ever seen.
“Do you think he’d be interested in seeing me again?” I asked the big question and Jongin’s eyes widened in alarm. “He was the one hanging all over me the whole time. I wonder if he’d even remember me. In any case, he’s totally my style!”
“No.” Jongin’s foot planted firmly on the ground under the table. “You’re not his style at all. He doesn’t like girls like you at all.”
“Then...” I put a finger to my lips, thinking. “Suho?”
“Yah- Seo Kyung-ah.” Jongin protested and his lip stuck out again. Yet another picture I wanted to take, but this one wouldn’t hang in a gallery. This picture would be the lock screen on my cellphone. I wanted to take a picture, but something was keeping me from reaching for my phone. Perhaps it was the fact that I left it at home, not really having a chance to grab it before Jongin pulled me out of the apartment.
“I won’t kiss other boys from now on, okay?” I offered him a smile. “I won’t look at them either.”
“What are you saying?” Jongin’s ears perked up and his pout vanished.
“At least just for tonight, I’ll only look at you.” I promised and that seemed to be enough to bring a satisfied smile onto his lips.
“Why not always?” A sly smirk rose onto Jongin’s lips and I sighed.
“Don’t you realize how corny that sounds?” I giggle fell from my throat without my permission.
“I’m only corny when I’m with you.” Jongin grinned.
“I don’t believe that for a second.”
“I won’t.” I took another drink from my can, but I only got droplets. “Ice cream?”
“Sure.” Jongin stood, taking our empty beer cans and heading towards the doors of the convenience store. “What do you want?”
“Something cold.” I mused.
“Your tastes haven’t changed at all.” He joked before disappearing inside.
Jongin had changed, I realized with a start. Of course there were those things that he carried with him from his childhood to now. Those little quirks that he carried from childhood, he kept into adulthood. His twinkling eyes, his nervous habit of twirling anything he could reach in his fingers, his airiness in every sense of the word, and how he was easily startled by any little thing. There was also the constant softness in his eyes, his tender gaze that never went away, no matter how upset he was.
When Kim Jongin told me that he loved me, I believed him. He hadn’t exactly told me that he loved me yet, aside from the two times eight years ago. He hadn’t said anything officially yet, but he did. Even an idiot could see it, but apparently I was something worse than an idiot if I couldn’t figure it out. Now, looking back and looking at him now, it was beyond obvious. Kim Jongin had been in love with me, just as he was now.
This man saw some parts of me that I hadn’t even shown my sisters. As soon as I was on my feet after my depression period, I liked to think that I hadn’t shown any weakness whatsoever. I liked to think that I put my head down and worked. However, just in the last 48 hours, Jongin had seen me break down. He had seen me drunk and stupid. He had seen me as I let out all of my rage and he just took it. Not once had Jongin told me to stop, or said I was overreacting, or tried to defend himself.
Jongin stepped out of the convenience store, drawing my attention. He turned to me with a grin, showing me the ice creams he bought excitedly. I stood to meet him and he offered me an ice cream. I took what was in his extended hand and opened it, not worried about what he’d gotten me. The cold hit my tongue first, then the creaminess, then the rush of strawberry. I grinned, pulling the pop out of my mouth to praise Jongin.
“Strawberry Mellona.” He spoke before I could open my mouth. “Your favorite.”
“I never forgot.” Jongin offered me his hand and this time, I took it.