“Let go. It’s dangerous,” Yunho snapped, attempting to wrench his hand from the tight clasp of Jaejoong’s fingers so he could properly drive. Jaejoong, however, still singing the usual song of his characteristic stubbornness, was having none of it. “Jaejoong, I need to drive.”
Yunho could feel the boy’s fingers clamp down even tighter on his own. He could argue all he wanted, but after months of the same, he had begun to learn that there really was no use. “Jaejoong, you can hold onto my arm. Just let me use my hand,” he said with a sigh, finding himself more inclined to settle for a compromise than to continue fighting a battle he would so clearly lose.
And, as much as he protested against it, he couldn’t help but notice how comfortable his fingers felt fitted between Jaejoong’s own, how the younger boy’s touch simply melted him like warm water dripping down his wrist and seeping through his clothes.
Yes, he was comfortable. Too comfortable.
And that was somehow more unnerving than straight discomfort.
After a few moments of silence, Jaejoong reluctantly released his iron grip and instead placed his hand stiffly on Yunho’s arm. Although he was giving into his demands, he still wasn’t quite conceding. And it was incredibly clear that he wanted Yunho to know that he wasn’t.
Immovable, as always.
That night the lamplights seemed a bit more faded than the usual. Whatever it was, adrenaline or otherwise, they blew by Yunho in a blur that left him nearly dizzy, the star scattered sky passing overhead until the specks of light turned to lines that streaked across the ocean of black above.
This time, unlike the countless other times that Jaejoong had refused to speak, the boy had an excuse for his silence. He was shaken. Whether it was from the pain or from the utter shock of having Yunho of all people show up and whisk him out the door wasn’t clear, but regardless of the cause, even his silence was disturbed. There was not only the quiet, but also a persistent uneasiness that was prevalent in the air. And Yunho, not particularly interested in exacerbating the already tense situation, decided to just hold his tongue until they reached the comparatively safer walls of his apartment.
And Yunho would probably admit, if questioned enough, that some of the tension was caused in part by his own nerves. He couldn’t help but be unsettled by the tingling of a discovery on his fingertips. He felt jittery. He felt guilty. Though he was fully aware he had no reason to, he blamed himself for letting it go on as long as it had. Even though there was no way he could have knowingly intervened in the probable years prior that it had started, he still blamed himself.
And, just one more added unease to what was shortly becoming a list, it went without saying that the boy’s small hands fixed around his elbow were causing him to react far more than he should have.
“Come on, let’s go inside,” Yunho said, carefully keeping his eyes to the side to avoid contact with Jaejoong’s. He swung the door open and stepped up at the sidewalk, waiting patiently for Jaejoong to gather his things, and, lowering himself one final time to do something he knew would be inevitable with or without his compliance, extending his hand toward him. “Come on.”
Jaejoong blinked a few times, but not too long before reaching up and once again putting his hand back into Yunho’s, knowing full well that any hesitance on his part would end up with Yunho completely rescinding the already fleeting offer.
Jaejoong’s hands, small, yet strikingly warm, felt like silk between his fingers. It was a foreign sensation, and a sensation that he would be lying if he said wasn’t pleasant. His heat, his touch, his closeness – Yunho couldn’t bring himself to dislike it.
And for that, he was furious.
“It’s late,” Yunho remarked the moment he entered the apartment. It was a rather clear observation, the pitch-black sky making it plenty obvious, but enough to create an air of conversation without actually speaking about anything of importance. “You can shower if you want.”
Jaejoong shook his head. “I showered at home, it’s okay. I’ll just go to sleep.”
“Suit yourself,” Yunho said with a shrug, entering the bathroom on his own and letting the boy do whatever it was he wanted to do without him. Looking into the mirror he couldn’t help but notice a few frown lines pulling at his lips and what looked like a crease of worry forming between his eyebrows. He really was beginning to look as old as he felt.
With a sigh and a determination to just forget the matter entirely, he tossed his clothing in a pile in the corner, much too exhausted to put them in any sort of order or to even think of bringing them to the laundry. The warm water swam over him like a storm of pure relief, washing away the grimy feelings of guilt that had worked their way into the folds and pores of his skin. It felt wonderful. Just a few brief moments of solitude – moments that had become increasingly rare since the day he had met Jaejoong.
For a minute he allowed himself to drift off, to peruse through a library of hypotheticals that had just been waiting for a moment quiet enough allow themselves entertainment by a wandering brain.
What if, (and this was a rather large ‘what if’), he had the option to go back in time to that unknowingly dreadful day where they offered him the job in the first place? What if he could relive it start to finish with the knowledge he had gained now? Would he take it knowing the result, and, to be frank, the difficulties that would ensue from the acceptance? Or would he shrug his shoulders, politely decline, walk home to his apartment and wash his hands of the entire thing?
The formerly cleansing water had no use in assisting him this time around. As much as he tried to do so, he simply couldn’t come up with an answer. Or, at least, an answer that resided in either the absolute positive or negative.
His answer, if it could be called that, seemed to be lying in the middle of the two extremes, swimming about a sea of possibilities with no real concrete form. On one hand, his life would be infinitely easier without the added obstacle of the impossible Jaejoong and his gang of problems that seemed to follow his every turn. On the other hand – and as much as he didn’t want it to be true, it seemed like this reason was more powerful than the former – the weight of a guilty conscience simply wouldn’t allow him a flat out refusal, even in the midst of this outrageous hypothetical.
If he could go back in time knowing what he knew now, with the sound of Jaejoong’s cries and that nauseatingly dark purple that painted his cheeks stuck behind his eyes, would he really be able to look Junsu in the face and decline his offer and with nothing but a few false words and polite smiles?
It wasn’t possible. As unfeeling as Yunho pretended to be, usually a false front put on for the sake trying, and succeeding, to deceive Jaejoong, he couldn’t deceive himself. It just wouldn’t work that way. Did he hate Jaejoong? He didn’t. If he hated him, he wouldn’t want to help him as much as he did now.
If he hated him, the sight of his tears wouldn’t make him want to cry right along with him.
And for a moment, Yunho was thankful. Even though Jaejoong’s presence had caused problems, certainly, and a mass of emotion that Yunho could only brand as “confusion”, as inadequate as that word felt to describe it, he was somehow thankful that he had met him.
He wasn’t sure why, and he was even more unsure of what would come of it, if anything at all, but it was the truth.
He dried himself off quickly with one of the many towels that littered the floor. His laziness made him not all that interested in being tidy, and sometimes it had its conveniences.
The floorboards felt cold after the heat of a shower that had gone on far too long than it should have. He had become too lost in his thoughts to notice that that had flown faster than the water that had pooled around his feet and up to his ankles because of the clogged drain. He still felt a bit damp, now realizing he had rushed a bit and not properly dried himself before exiting.
And, surprisingly, he felt calm. Something about that long period of thought made him reconcile his emotions as if slightly. Although usually having the kid in his house made him a jittery mess of sheer rage, that day, he just felt numb.
But one step into his bedroom was all it took to absolutely crumble the short-lived air of stillness that had accumulated around him.
“No. No. Absolutely not.”
Jaejoong rolled over, letting the covers slink past his head to reveal two red and sleep-stained eyes. He rubbed them twice and blinked just a few times to get himself used to the sudden change in surroundings. “You said go to bed,” he finally grumbled, decisively flopping back over onto his stomach and returning his head to its position beneath the covers.
“I didn’t mean in here!” Yunho shouted, throwing his hands above his head and only directly afterward realizing that the boy couldn’t exactly see him doing so. “Out. Now.”
Jaejoong sat up straight and sent Yunho one of the most pathetic looks he had ever seen. And with the number of years he had for comparison, that was truly saying something.
“I don’t want to sleep alone tonight.”
“You’re not sleeping alone. You’re in my apartment. Isn’t that good enough?”
Yunho could see Jaejoong’s small hands clutch at the dark black blanket that covered his thin body. “Yunho…” He pleaded, his voice just a small whisper in a dead silent room, “Please.”
Yunho pinched his nose between two fingers and let a long, drawn out sigh fall from his tired lips. What was the point of arguing with him, anyway? As far as he could gather, there really wasn’t one. And although he had acknowledged this ages ago, it still didn’t stop the knee-jerk reaction he had to just immediately deny the boy anything he asked for.
“I have one condition,” he said with a sharp exhale.
Jaejoong shifted side to side before asking warily, “What is it?”
Yunho took a seat at the edge of the bed, back facing Jaejoong to avoid the certainly awkward air that would ensue with such a question.
“You… we… have to talk about some things,” he finally forced out. A lot had been hanging over Yunho’s head since the last time they had seen each other. And, even though he didn't even know where to begin, they had to be dealt with. “And… I mean really talk. Not that thing you do where you fucking lock down like a goddamn safe and refuse to say a word.”
Jaejoong muttered some sort of ‘yes’ from beneath the blankets, accompanied by a few grunts, as if protest against Yunho’s accusation.
Sliding into bed with Jaejoong felt as strange as it did the first time, if not stranger. He wasn’t used to it. This was a boy whose default was impossibly unmovable, the boy who usually remained silent as death around him, save the few times where he just had to complain about something, or demand something wholly inappropriate. Seeing him at his most vulnerable felt surreal. It felt wrong. It felt like he was glimpsing into a part of Jaejoong that was hidden from absolutely everything else. He felt like he was seeing something he just shouldn’t.
Yunho placed his hands in his lap and looked upward toward the ceiling, twiddling his thumbs in his lap as he thought of a way to place his questions more… delicately. He knew what he wanted to say, he just wasn’t quite sure how. But, ‘delicate’ had never been Yunho’s strong suit, so he threw out his former idea and decided to just stick with the comfortable and suitable direct.
“Who was that who answered the door?”
He felt Jaejoong shift at his side – such a small tremor, yet strong as an earthquake to the ever-perceptive Yunho, senses heightened by the sheer tenseness of having him at his side.
“Umm…” Jaejoong said, his reluctance so obvious it nearly dripped off the noise.
“Jaejoong, what was my one condition? Seriously. I will kick you the fuck out.”
“I’m sorry…” Jaejoong said, and Yunho instantly felt that creeping remorse find its way back into his chest. He didn’t want Jaejoong to be sorry. Jaejoong spent most of his life feeling sorry. He didn’t deserve it. Not here. “My mom’s boyfriend… or… fiancé, I guess.”
“I see,” Yunho said. He wasn’t surprised, merely disappointed. He had certainly suspected as much, but something inside of him was just praying that his suspicions had been false. “And… he did that to you. Right?”
Silence. A distinct buzzing sound. One of his alarm clocks, perhaps? Or maybe just the buzzing of his ears that always came with the deathlike silence of the night? He wasn’t sure.
“Jaejoong, why haven’t you told anyone?”
“Oh… I don’t know.”
“That’s a lie.”
Jaejoong rolled over until he was just inches away from Yunho, until Yunho swore he could smell the boy’s scent like a lavender wind brush against his nose. He tucked his hands beneath his chin and looked up at him with wide eyes that looked far too bright under the glow of the moon above them. “My mom. She loves him,” he admitted. “I’ve never seen her this happy before. Love is really strong, I guess…” Yunho swallowed harshly. He couldn’t help but suspect that Jaejoong wasn’t just talking about his mother. “What kind of son would I be if I took away the one thing that makes my mother happy?”
Now Yunho knew that the idea of a breaking heart was solely metaphor and nothing more, but he could have sworn that he heard the sound of something shattering in his chest like pieces of scattered glass.
It was delusional, yes, but it was selfless. And that was one quality he just never expected from the younger boy in a thousand years.
“Maybe you don’t want to do anything, but how am I supposed to just let this go on? How am I supposed to knowingly let him do this to you?”
“I can just stay here,” Jaejoong said, the slightest of smiles finding its way onto his blood red lips. Yunho frowned. Selflessness was unexpected, but manipulation definitely wasn’t. And Yunho wasn’t in a position to refuse. His guilt just wouldn’t allow it, and perhaps Jaejoong knew that.
Yunho nearly jumped out of his skin as he felt a sudden nudge at his upper arm and did everything in his power not to panic and swat it away simply out of reflex. “You smell nice,” Jaejoong muttered, pushing his slender nose into Yunho’s shoulder. The shards of glass in the hollow of his chest were now jumping, scratching his skin with every tremor and every bound. As unwelcome as such an action was, it did make for a perfect segue into his next conversation point.
“Why did you say what you said three days ago?”
“Hm? Say what?”
Yunho, resentful that the boy was making him say it, spent a few short moments just praying that he’d remember on his own. Although he wanted more than anything to skip the conversation altogether, the scene had been stuck in his head day after day since it had happened. That one request had sent his world into chaos. He spent hours thinking about it even if he didn’t know what he was supposed to think. Lost in confusion and drowning in the unknown, he didn’t have a clue what conclusion he was supposed to draw. All he knew was that it was dangerous. All he knew was that distance, a wall of some sort, had to be returned to the relationship that had become much closer than it should ever have.
“About… kissing me,” Yunho finally said after much pause and much self-loathing. He could feel his cheeks burn and a thin film of nervous sweat break out across his upper lip. “Why did you say that?”
“Why?” Jaejoong grumbled, rubbing his eye so casually Yunho thought maybe he had accidentally asked a question about the weather rather than the one he intended. “Because I wanted to kiss you,” he said plainly.
A lot of things could be said about Jaejoong. ‘Blunt’ was certainly one of them.
Whatever was left of Yunho’s heart was not just jumping, but leaping, dancing across his chest like it had simply become an empty expanse to be utilized at will by the chaotic pounding of his heart.
“You… you do understand why I can’t, right?” Yunho said, cursing himself for the stutters utter weakness of his voice. He was the adult in the situation, yet he had not a shred of maturity or forcefulness at his command.
And Jaejoong, to his complete surprise, only smiled before burying his nose even further into his shoulder. “Not ‘won’t’," he said with a laugh, voice muffled in the sleeve of Yunho’s shirt, "but ‘can’t,” Yunho hadn’t even noticed he had phrased it in such a way. He was so busy scrambling for an excuse that he hadn’t considered the implication of his words.
“It’s… it’s the same,” he said, fumbling for words that just weren’t there. “You do understand, right?”
“Yes, yes, I understand,” Jaejoong said quickly, his hot breath of a couple stray laughs making Yunho absolutely sure that he was lying.
“Just… just go to sleep,” Yunho muttered, covering his eyes with his hands in sheer exasperation. For whatever reason, his words seemed to be completely failing him at that moment, and he decided that sleep was a much safer option than continued rambling with the help of an unwilling tongue.
Jaejoong reached up, and in one final daring motion, placed his head delicately on his chest and draped his free arm loosely across his waist.
And Yunho just let him do it.
He had learned that arguing was pointless – but was that really true?
He could immediately excuse his compliance with the futility of argument, but even that didn’t feel accurate.
He had always pretended that there was no use in his protests, and maybe there was some truth to that. But not enough. There was no way he couldn’t overpower the rail thin boy that seemed to worm his way into acceptance with nothing but a few words and the batting of his eyes.
There were rules keeping him in place. Maybe not rules, but morals. Jaejoong was half his age. He was emotionally compromised. He was stuck in the midst of adolescence; years that Yunho could say from experience were the most confusing, hormone driven disaster he could name.
But rules shouldn’t have been the only thing keeping him in line.
Not ‘won’t’, but ‘can’t’.
And as he lay there, breathing in that lavender wind that wafted from the boy’s body and flooded his senses in a sweetened rush, he begged that it wasn’t just the latter that was holding him back.
A/N - This is late and I am tired...
I'll update soon, I promise! So exhausted...
My Yunjae feels were actin up today because of Yunjae day, so here ya go!
This chapter is dedicated to Kay_tea114 because... um... I can't remember why. How about because she's awesome? That works.
See ya soon!
P.S. Oops almost forgot. Could you guys send me a friend request? I won't think it's creepy, I really want you to. The reason is I occasionally blog about this story, or if I won't be updating for a while I'll make a post about it. I RARELY blog - about once or twice a month - so I WILL NOT spam you with useless shit. Trust me, I know how annoying that is.
So yeah. Friend me! \o/
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