Taemin sauntered down the dark road to his house. Every single cell of his body hurt, and Taemin kept his head down, afraid of anybody seeing him in the state of irredeemable mess. Not that keeping his head down would improve anything, his blood-smeared uniform shirt now had absolutely NO buttons hanging on, and strands of his hair were leaping in all different directions. In short, walking with his head down right now was like running around - and wearing a paper bag over his face.
The taste and the odor of rust filled Taemin’s mouth and nose, his hand burned excruciatingly, and his chest and stomach hurt every time he breathed. A familiar fence leading to a gate came into Taemin’s view and he looked up, glad to have finally reached home.
Taemin’s feet stopped in its tracks. A figure was sitting outside his front gates under the dim street light. Taemin could only tell it was a person from the vague darkness. It was impossible to see the person’s face, but Taemin didn’t have to try much to figure out who it was. He too saw Taemin, and stood up. He walked towards Taemin, and Jongin’s face illuminated under the dim yellow lights.
Without a word, he looked at Taemin. Taemin breathed heavily. Something hot was emerging from within his chest. Strangely though, Taemin felt sad rather than angry. The two boys looked at each other silently for a while. Taemin then paced quickly towards Jongin. Jongin just stood, unmoved by Taemin’s sudden movement and without a warning, Taemin threw a strong punch into Jongin’s sound face. A thick outburst of friction broke the calm stillness of the neighborhood and Jongin staggered to the asphalt floor.
Taemin voiced lowly, and Jongin got up to his feet as he wiped his mouth. And when Jongin’s gaze met his again, Taemin lashed Jongin on the other side of his face as hard as he could. Again, Jongin stumbled hard to the ground. Taemin didn’t think Jongin could be affected by his punch, but his rage must have been beyond the tolerable level than he had thought it to be. This time, Jongin stayed on the ground and looked up. A wave of resentment, guilt, sorrow, and unexplained emotions overwhelmed Taemin when he saw his friend’s face, and the hot lump in his chest emerged to his throat.
“You call youself a friend?!!! Huh?!!! And you call yourself a ing friend, you bastard!!!!...”
Taemin’s cry echoed the still road and Jongin got up to his feet without an answer. Trying his best to suppress the lump on the verge of bursting out of his throat, Taemin looked up at Jongin and spat out everything on his mind.
“…!… Fine, if this is what you really want, fine! Let’s just end this!! I won’t ever bother you ever again so just go ahead and around with Jung Soojung or Choi Sulli or whoever you want! Soojung kissed me before I could do anything and you just came in- …Shouldn’t you at least try to listen to me first? If you liked Soojung for eight years, …it’s, it’s been ten goddamn years with me, you jackass!! The least you could do is…”
Taemin lowered his head, unable to finish. He has never been this embarrassed in his life. Tears were streaming down his face and though Taemin wanted nothing more than it to stop, the continuous tears were out of his control.
Jongin’s voice was hoarse. Taemin looked up and saw blood covering the better half of Jongin’s good-looking face.
“…Forget it, . …Leave, I don’t need you, get lost..”
“What do you mean, just ‘end this’?!!!”
Taemin was about to push Jongin out of his way and go inside when Jongin suddenly yelled, stunning Taemin to a stop.
“Why are you ‘ending things’?!!" Jongin shouted. "Who are you to end it?! You have no right to end anything!!”
“Then YOU end this!!" Taemin retorted back. "Stop avoiding me like a pathetic little girl, just ing beat the crap out of me and walk away from me!!! You know what? Just forget everything, just get lost. You are an inconsiderate bastard, Kim Jongin…”
Taemin shot back and turned around, but Jongin grabbed his wrist and snatched him back. The grip was so strong that Taemin almost faltered into Jongin, but he managed to find balance on his own feet. He glared at Jongin, but was surprised to find Jongin’s face flustered in complication of confusion, anger, frustration and despair.
As if to restrain the sudden outbreak of emotions, Jongin bit his lip and and stared intently into Taemin’s eyes. He scanned Taemin’s face thoroughly from one side to the other, and cursed harshly through clenched teeth. Just when Taemin was about to retort back in irritation, Jongin roughly let go of Taemin’s wrist and shouted.
“Who did this to you?!!!”
Then he let out short and heavy breaths like he was suppressing himself.
With a bloody and ruined face, Taemin stared at Jongin in surprise.
“…You’re the bastard that left even though you saw me there!” Taemin replied.
“Why do you go around getting beaten up?!” Jongin yelled again.
“Funny how it’s coming from a traitor who just leaves his friend behind, pissed about a chick problem.” Taemin spat as he rubbed the bruise from Jongin’s firm grip.
After looking at Taemin with a hardened gaze, Jongin spoke up more softly.
“…What is it this time? What do you even do to get those ers so worked up to kick your -”
“It shouldn’t matter to you whatever I do-”
“I told you last time, it ing matters!!!”
Taemin flinched at the sudden hostility of Jongin again.
Taemin was as confused as ever, this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. If there should be any yelling and interrogating happening right now it should be him, not Jongin who just bailed on him when he needed him most… As Taemin stared at Jongin with a loss for words, Jongin paced back and forth as if to suppress and cool off some kind of frustration that was driving him nuts. All Taemin could catch between his incoherent mutters were some vulgur cursings from time to time.
Jongin then caught a glance of a garbage bin in front of the gates and braced himself for a nice refreshing kick. Witnessing all of this, Taemin contemplated about telling him that this particular garbage bin was as solid and heavy as steel… But decided not to.
After a second of curt friction echoing through the entire street, Jongin jumped up and down as he grabbed on to his throbbing foot next to the unmoved garbage bin. Taemin cringed, he had a slight idea of how visiting the entrance to the hellgates felt like. And as he watched Jongin continue to jump all over the street in agony, Taemin realized how ridiculous the entire situation was. He chortled out a laugh.
“Why are you laughing?" Jongin eyed Taemin in disapproval without letting go of his foot. "… I think I broke my toe..”
“Man, I should’ve had my camera out." Taemin snickered. "That would’ve been the winner on the next Korea’s Funniest Videos.”
Jongin glared, but it didn’t last as a smirk crossed his own face.
“Look who’s talking. Go look at yourself in the mirror, loser.”
The raw wound at Taemin’s mouth re-opened from the laughing, and a sharp stinging pain flashed his lips.
“Ouch… , I got hit in the same place you hit me last time…”
Taemin frowned as he cautiously dabbed the wound. Jongin walked over, stopped Taemin’s dabbing hands and studied the cut carefully. This was the first time after the kiss happening with Soojung that Jongin’s gaze along with his aura weren’t as icy, so Taemin didn’t say anything, afraid that it won’t last long.
“Does it hurt?” Jongin asked as he carefully examined Taemin's mouth.
“…This is all because of your precious Jung Soojung, you know that?!!” Taemin blurted.
“…What?” Jongin stopped.
“Forget it, I’m not even human if I bring her name up ever again.”
Taemin said as he turned around to go home, but was caught by Jongin grabbing his wrist again.
“What happened to your hand..?” He heard Jongin say.
Without turning his entire body, Taemin looked back. He replied to Jongin’s intent gaze staring into his own.
“…My hand hurts the most.”
“Don’t you know?”
Jongin continued to look at Taemin. Taemin freed himself out of Jongin’s grip.
“You did this Kim Jongin, you .” He said.
Leaving clueless Jongin outside, Taemin opened the gates to his house and closed the doors behind him.
“Stop glaring at me, you’re making me blush.” Soojung said and smiled, bending her eyes to two perfect crescents.
Taemin was ready to pour out all his rage onto her beaming face, but he pushed that for later for every portion of his body from head to toe throbbed and ached. He headed for the cafeteria and Soojung followed behind, pushing the line in Taemin’s now almost non-existent tolerance.
“Do you have a ed habit of hurting yourself or something?" Soojung continued. "Weird, you were fine until yesterday…”
Taemin started off coldly and to his surprise, Soojung staggered backwards. He didn’t blame her, his face no longer fit for the title ‘Flower boy Lee Taemin’ at the exact moment.
“If you’re going to date a guy from now on, date a normal human being." Taemin snapped. "Why the hell do I even have to be saying this to you looking like this, huh?!!”
“You would’ve been fine if you just liked me back.” Soojung replied nonchalantly.
“Are you ing out of your mind?!!” Taemin screamed.
“It really intrigues me, you’re so pretty yet you have such an ugly mouth…” Soojung continued talking, unshaken by Taemin's forced hostility and the discouraged boy just waved the girl off.
“Trust me, I’m NOTHING compared to you. So, just go.”
“C’mon, let’s eat. I didn’t even have breakfast-” Soojung tugged Taemin's arm.
“Does it look like I want to eat right now?! Just leav-”
“WHY THE ARE YOU TAKING YOUR -KICKED ANGER OUT ON ME?!!!!” Soojung hollered.
Taken aback by Soojung’s brazen-coated nerve, Taemin gawked at the girl. In a split of a second, Soojung transformed her vicious glare to a bright smile and clung to Taemin’s side again.
“This may sound y, but I like how you’re hurt." She piped. "Kind of makes me feel like you fought those guys in order to protect me or something, and…”
“Let go." He teethed. "Don’t see those boys planning to beat the crap out of me? I don’t need it anymore so-”
“Who cares? They’re not Jongin.”
Taemin pushed Soojung off violently at her last words. The girl stumbled back in surprise and Taemin shot angrily.
“I warned you already, Jung Soojung.”
“Stop torturing Jongin.”
“Give him a definite answer, yes or no, whether you don’t like him or not. You shake him up with false hope and it’s not cool.”
Soojung stared at Taemin blankly. Taemin didn’t know which part of the conversation affected her so much, but she looked stunned and failed to keep her usual pokerface. Having realized what he said sounded like a cheesy over-protective line over Jongin, Taemin felt his face flush and turned around. But before Taemin could leave the cafeteria, he heard Soojung’s voice behind his back.
“I changed my mind.”
Taemin looked back at the girl.
“I’m changing my mind.” She said again.
“What… are you talking about..”
“I’m going to ask him out.”
Taemin repeated stupidly as he watched Soojung’s pupils gain back focus. Taemin then realized that he was wrong about thinking that Soojung was the scariest when she smiled. It was even frightening, when Soojung looked dead serious.
During the short period of waiting for her answer, there was only one possibility that lingered on Taemin’s mind. And it came out of Soojung’s glossed lips again.
“I’m going to ask Jongin out.” Soojung declared.
Taemin stared at Soojung, unable to say anything.
After looking back at him coldly, Soojung recovered and her bright smile was back on her face. She continued, with her cutesy flirt switch on full blast.
“I’ll try to like him.”
“It can’t be that hard.”
“…You can’t be serious-” Taemin started, but Soojung cut him off.
“Lee Taemin, I didn’t notice before… But right now, you’re…”
She trailed off. Her smile faded and she fixed her gaze into Taemin’s eyes.
“You’re really pathetic. I feel sorry for you.”
Then she walked past him out of the cafeteria before Taemin could respond.
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