That night, Jongin was unable to fall asleep, twisting and turning in bed, willing himself to stop thinking. It was then, just as he thought, 'That's it, I'll never get to sleep!', that he was struck by a realization.
Perhaps, if he just became friends wih Taemin, all of his problems with being "attracted to him" would stop. Maybe he just wanted to be friends with him. It's not like it hadn't happened to him before; he thought he had a crush on his good friend Junmyeon for a while, but it turned out he was craving friendship. Once he actually let himself talk to Junmyeon and let him into his life, he'd realized that he was content having Junmyeon as a friend and only that. It was possible that it could be the same with Taemin.
And so, problem resolved, at least in his own mind, Jongin was finally able to drift off, content with his conclusion.
A little under a month had gone by since Jongin decided be friendly towards Taemin, and things weren't exactly going as planned. He was doing everything he could to resist the charms of the other boy, but it just wasn't working. Every day Jongin would find his eyes lingering on Taemin's smile just a little too long, or find himself unconsciously moving closer to him when they worked.
It wasn't like Jongin meant to do these things, they just sort of... happened. It was beyond his control, or at least, that was what he told himself late at night when guilt began to set in, leaving a sinking feeling of disappointment and shame in the pit of his stomach. He tried to reason that this time was probably just a little different, and that it would start working out soon.
But to his dismay, it never did.
Another thing about Taemin that Jongin couldn't help but to be amazed by was his absolute sincerity. He got along well with everyone he encountered, and he genuinely liked everyone. He had a cheerful attitude, and stayed positive about everything, knowing exactly how to cheer anyone up. Taemin had what was probably the best personality Jongin had ever seen, and it only made Jongin's problem worse.
Jongdae had a habit of talking about people behind their backs, mostly making fun of customers before opening or after closing, when nobody but the other employees would hear. This quickly stopped though, as it upset Taemin, who of course, everyone loved. Jongdae would begin to mock someone, and Taemin, wearing a sad expression, would go up to him and quietly ask him to stop, reminding him that it wasn't right to make fun of people. The first time Jongin saw this happen, he was left in shock, given that nobody had ever convinced Jongdae to do anything before.
Then there was the time Taemin came into work late, cradling something small in his arms. Leaving Jongdae and the others at the counter, Jongin followed Taemin into the staff room, ready to chide him for being late, only to find him stroking a scruffy gray kitten. It turned out that on his way to work, Taemin had heard a pitiful cry come from a side alley as he passed by, and when he investigated, he'd found a kitten trapped in a trash bin. Being the gentle, kind-hearted person he was, he rescued it, and having no other option, took it to work with him. He kept it in one of the old boxes they had left over from the last shipment of coffee grounds, and took it home with him at the end of the day. It was a simple act of kindness, rescuing that kitten, but Jongin still found it hard to believe there was someone that would actually do that, even risking getting into trouble with their employer. He knew for sure that if he heard a random noise as he walked past a side alley, he'd simply ignore it. Although, Jongin considered himself to be a bad person, so it made sense for him to do that.
Taemin was overall a sweet person, and it only made Jongin's affection towards him grow, and not in a platonic way, as much as he tried to deny it. But deny it he would, it was the only thing he knew how to do, there was no way he could face his feelings without feeling as though he were dishonoring Kyungsoo.
Just a few days after Taemin had rescued the kitten, Jongin awoke to a throbbing in his head. Rubbing his eyes, he tried to push aside the pain, curious as to why he'd gotten a headache. As he sat up, he remembered. It was his and Kyungsoo's anniversary. Of course, how could he forget?
Had he really been so preoccupied with thoughts of Taemin that he'd forgotten such an important date?
Full of self-loathing, he got out of bed before picking up his phone and dialing the coffee shop's number, looking at the clock and realizing he'd slept late.
The phone picked up after a few rings.
"Hey, it's Jongin." He blurted, wanting to speak before the person on the other end could say anything.
"Jongin, where are you? It's almost opening time." Taemin's voice floated through the phone, and Jongin would have liked nothing better than to smash his phone on the ground. Of course the one person he wanted to avoid today answered the phone.
"I'm not coming into work today. I- I, uh, yeah. I'm not feeling great."
Silence. Jongin was about to hang up when Taemin spoke again.
"Are you okay? It sounds like you're upset..." His voice was soft and carried a concerned tone. Jongin almost let himself fawn over how thoughtful the other boy was, but caught himself just in time.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm gonna go now, I'm tired." He hung up before Taemin could say anything else.
Placing his phone on his bed, Jongin lowered himself to the floor, placing his head in his hands. Tears pressed at the backs of his eyes, and he struggled to fight them off. Giving in, he thought,
I'm sorry, Kyungsoo, I'm so sorry. I don't know why I can't just ignore him. Please forgive me. I'm trying so hard, but it's not enough. I can't do anything more. I'm sorry, I love you. Only you, forever. I promise I'll forget about him, I just need a little time. I'm so sorry.
Eventually, Jongin found it in himself to get up and go about his day of mourning, heading out to visit his lover's grave.
Hi! My finals are over now, thank goodness, but I'm still publishing this so late...
I'm going to try to get on a better writing schedule now that my second semester has started, so hopefully soon you'll be able to expect updates every Friday :)
Also, I'm sorry if this chapter isn't great, it's unedited like the other two and I've been having a bit of writer's block this weekend, but I wanted to write it, so here it is. At some point I might go back and rewrite this... but then again, I'll see if I like it better later on.
It's about 2 in the morning though, and I have school tomorrow, so I should go to sleep, but I just wanted to publish this and also say a huge thanks to everyone who's subscribed and commented. The positive feedback is much appreciated!! :D
Thanks for reading!