Something different.

Art-to-Heart

If I tell you everything that is in my heart, how would you respond?

Would you even try to understand or would you act like nothing had been said?

Was there ever a time when our two hearts came together to beat at the same time?

Was there even a chance that the ink on my paper went further than my mind’s fever?

Those are the questions I ask myself when I look at those flowers you like so much.

The ones that close up during the day but find space to grow and come alive during the night.

I wish I were them so I could just be and get your love, but I’m human and being is never quite enough.

Will I ever tell you everything that is in my heart?

I don’t think so, but maybe one night when we look at the flowers together, I’ll tell you how nice it is

To just have our hearts beating besides one another.  

Jonghyun didn’t know how much time he spent staring at the last line, but when he looked up again, it felt like his mind had just come out of a dream. It took him a while to shake himself out of it and get back to reality, only then noticing that he was the only student left in the library.

His eyes went to the big clock on the wall a few meters away before widening as soon as he saw the time. It was almost time for dinner which meant he had spent the last two hours reading without even realizing it. What he had read had definitely pulled him in and now left him with a myriad of emotions to deal with. 

Giving a last look to the page he had been reading, he closed the booklet and stacked it on the other ones he had brought. He finally started walking, his pace slow and a little awkward as his mind was still being pulled back to the words the other had so beautifully woven together.

It was only when he found himself in the main hallway again, suddenly surrounded by a horde of students making their way to the cafeteria, that he had no choice but to remember that he was Kim Jonghyun and not just a chain of thoughts. All along the way, his peers greeted him, forcing him to be polite and return those useless bouts of talking.

He was just about to finally make his way out of the human jungle when he was stopped in his tracks by someone suddenly hugging him from the back. A quick look down towards the person’s hands erased all the grumpiness that had been building up inside him.

‘’ Tae, ‘’ he warmly greeted as he turned around to face him.

‘’ Hyung, ‘’ the younger one echoed with a smile as a bright as the sun.

‘’ I haven’t seen you around much. Where were you hiding? ‘’ he then asked.

‘’ Aaah… nowhere, ‘’ Jonghyun answered, a little embarrassed. ‘’ I guess I’ve just been staying in my room more… ‘’

‘’ Are you working on new songs? ‘’ Taemin inquired excitedly.

‘’ Um…. Yeah… ‘’ Jonghyun answered right away to save face.

It wasn’t a complete lie, he had been trying to write new songs, but it hadn’t worked out so well the few times he had tried. It seemed like he had too much on his mind these days for it to leave space for him to create.

‘’ I can’t wait to hear them, ‘’ the brunette exclaimed, beaming. ‘’ I’d really like to dance to one of your songs someday. ‘’

Jonghyun smiled. ‘’ It would be my honor, really. ‘’

The younger one returned the smile, the light blush painting his cheeks betraying the effect of the other’s words on him.

‘’ Are you heading down to the cafeteria? ‘’ Taemin asked .

‘’ Yeah, I just have to put these back in my room, ‘’ the blonde indicated as he pointed towards the booklets.

‘’ I can wait here for you, so we can walk together, ‘’ he offered.

‘’ Yeah sure, I’ll be right back, ‘’ Jonghyun said before turning on his heel.

It was only a few seconds before he was finally in the dorm, heading straight to his room to hide what he had in hand. He almost felt like a criminal trying to smuggle some drugs as he tried to move without making a sound and looked around a few times before he finally disposed his hand’s contents in the second shelf of his nightstand.

He made his way back out with relief, closing the door behind him right after. Apart from the sound of his own movements, no other sound could be caught by his ear, making him think that the other had probably already left to go eat.

A frown drew itself over his eyes as he suddenly realized he had never actually seen him in the cafeteria either. Deciding that he would try to locate him amidst the mass of students this time, he started walking towards the front door, but a loud thump and a groaning sound stilled him in his tracks.

He kept an ear open to catch the sounds that would follow but heard nothing. When that silence dragged further on, his instincts kicked in, pumping adrenaline through his veins. He rushed to the other’s room and immediately knocked.

‘’ Jinki? ‘’ he almost yelled, panicked.                                                                                

‘’ Um… yeah… give me a sec, ‘’ the other answered after a few more seconds.

Jonghyun was tempted to try to push the door open, but he knew invading the other’s space was a) disrespectful and b) would do no good to build up their roommate relationship.

It felt like an eternity before the other finally opened the door.

‘’ What? ‘’ Jinki asked breathily as he faced him, hand still on the knob.

‘’ What do you mean what? It sounded like you hurt yourself, so I came to check up on you, ‘’ Jonghyun explained, not failing to notice the other’s dishevelled look.

‘’ Are you okay? ‘’ he inquired, voice ringing with worry.

‘’ Yeah, I’m fine. I just dropped something on my foot that’s all, ‘’ the brunette reassured nonchalantly.

‘’ Ah… okay, ‘’ Jonghyun acknowledged. Something in the other’s demeanour made him think that there was more to that story, but he decided to drop it for now.

‘’ Aren’t you going to eat? ‘’ he went on inquisitively.

‘’ Um... no… not now. ‘’

The unease that weighed these words left Jonghyun perplexed. ‘’ But you are going to eat right? ‘’

‘’ Yes, I always do. ‘’

That answer brought Jonghyun back to his earlier realization, making him frown again.

‘’ So how come I’ve never seen you in the cafeteria, yet? ‘’

‘’ Maybe cause you’re busy talking with your friends, ‘’ Jinki squarely pointed out.

But that didn’t faze Jonghyun. ‘’ Is that really it though? ‘’

The blonde stopped himself from smirking as he noticed the flash of discomfort on the taller one’s face. He didn’t know why he was so hellbent on breaking the other’s walls, but there was definitely something satisfying in seeing through the cracks.

‘’ No, ‘’ Jinki sighed. ‘’ I just go to eat a little later when there are less people around, ‘’ he admitted, eyes avoiding the smaller one’s.

‘’ Oh, ‘’ Jonghyun let out quietly as the information sunk in. It brought him back to the conversation they had had in the brunette’s room and he suddenly felt himself invested with the need to help the latter.

‘’ Why don’t you come with me? ‘’ he proposed without further thought, making the other’s eyes double in size.

‘’ What? ‘’

‘’ You heard me, ‘’ Jonghyun replied. ‘’ I’d love to have you at our table. ‘’

Jinki’s mouth opened slightly, but no one words came out. His mind was screaming for him to say no, but everything else inside him was aching for him to say yes.

‘’ O-okay… ‘’ he finally answered after letting his inner battle run its course.

‘’ I just have to wash up a bit and I’ll be right there, ‘’ he indicated with more assurance to his voice.

‘’ Sure. No prob, ‘’ Jonghyun uttered with a smile.

The brunette didn’t return it, opting instead to quickly disappear inside the bathroom. Jonghyun shook his head at that, smile still dancing on his lips as he found himself amused by the other’s unusual behaviour.

He was actually really glad Jinki had accepted to tag along. For some reason, he had started getting bored of the usual dynamics of his group and had been in dire need of something different. And Jinki was definitely something different.

Before he could start getting impatient, Jinki reappeared before him, his hair in place like it usually was.

‘’ Let’s go, ‘’ the latter said despite the nervousness that spread through him.

Jonghyun grinned before leading the way. They soon were back in the hallway, the blonde’s eyes lighting with surprise as soon they fell on Taemin again. He had completely forgotten that the latter had been waiting for him. He could see the confused expression on the brunette’s face as they approached him, but he just smiled.

‘’ Hey Tae, this is my roommate, Jinki, ‘’ Jonghyun introduced as soon they stopped before him.

‘’ And Jinki, this is Taemin, a friend, ‘’ he went on immediately, gaze travelling between the two of them.

The younger one bowed first. ‘’ Nice to meet you, ‘’ he politely uttered.

‘’ Nice to meet you too, ‘’ Jinki echoed with a bow of his own.

As soon as they both straightened up, Jonghyun gestured for them to start moving, the hollowness in his stomach suddenly making him impatient. Taemin was soon beside him while Jinki stayed close behind. Jonghyun was tempted to turn around and ask him to keep up with their pace, but he knew it was good enough that Jinki was actually following.

‘’ Hyung. ‘’

Jonghyun turned his head to give his attention to the voice’s owner. ‘’ Hmm? ‘’

‘’ First-term exams are coming up so I figured that you’d need my help soon, ‘’ Taemin brought up, voice smooth and slow.

‘’ Oh right, ‘’ Jonghyun suddenly realized, chest tightening at the thought. He lost himself for a while in it before the younger one snapped him back to attention.

‘’ Does that mean yes? ‘’

‘’ Uh yeah sure, ‘’ Jonghyun answered as he pulled himself back together.

‘’ You know I can’t do it without you, ‘’ he went on with the suave tone that always coated his words whenever the other was around.  

Taemin simpered before biting his lip, looking downwards to escape the blonde’s gaze. The latter used that break in conversation to give a quick look behind. He felt relieved when he saw Jinki still there but couldn’t help but frown as he noticed his tense demeanour.

Shoulders drawn up almost to his ears and eyes to the ground, he looked like he was trying to shield himself from some kind of danger. Jonghyun knew too well what that danger was. It was all around them, making noise and filling up the space. He wasn’t much of a fan of crowds so he couldn’t even imagine how the other felt right at this moment.

He looked ahead again, silently giving the brunette some encouraging words in his mind. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before they were walking into their cafeteria and getting in line to get their food. During that time, Taemin proceeded to tell Jonghyun how much he hated one of his dance teachers and how the thought of burning his brittle hair had invaded his mind too many times already.

That whole rant had Jonghyun bent over with laughter, not minding the attention he was attracting on himself.

‘’ Please don’t do it, ‘’ he playfully reasoned, the relents of his laughter vibrating through his words.

‘’ I can’t promise that, hyung, ‘’ Taemin replied, chortling.

Their bantering exchange went on until they had their trays of food in hand and Taemin had to leave them to join his own group of friends. Jonghyun watched in amusement as the brunette almost ran towards them before he moved his gaze back towards the one that was now by his side.

‘’ Are you okay, Jinki? ‘’ he verified as he remembered how scared the other had looked a few moments earlier.

‘’ Yeah… ‘’

The answer was far from convincing and the unease he glimpsed at in the other’s eyes said everything, but there was no turning back now. 

‘’ Come, ‘’ Jonghyun simply said before he started walking again.

The table he usually sat at with his friends wasn’t too far, but as they made their way towards it, he couldn’t help but notice the weird looks some of their peers were giving them. He knew exactly why, but it didn’t faze him one bit. He did look at Jinki again just to make sure he still had it under control, and he was pleased to see him looking ahead as if no one else was around them.

It was only a few more seconds before they finally reached their destination, Jonghyun immediately gesturing to his friends to make some space as they stood before them. They did, but not without exchanging confused glances among themselves first.

Seeing that, the blonde was tempted to just have Jinki there without making introductions, but he didn’t want to make the other even more uncomfortable. He put his tray down and sat, waiting for Jinki to do the same before he spoke.

Once the brunette had taken seat to his left, he proceeded.

‘’ Guys, this is Jinki, my roommate, ‘’ he filled in as he looked them square in the eye.

‘’ Nice to meet you, Jinki, ‘’ they said, their voices almost falling in sync. He saw that Minho’s lips hadn’t moved but decided not to linger on it. 

‘’ And Jinki, this is Young Bae, Junki, Jong Suk, Jaehwan and Minho. ‘’ The emphasis he put on his best friend’s name didn’t go unnoticed by the latter, a frown darkening his features as their eyes met.

‘’ Nice to meet you all, ‘’ Jinki quietly said, bowing his head.

With the introductions behind them, the boys went back to their meals and to the previous conversation they were having right before.

‘’ So Minho… Are you and Kibum going to practice tonight? ‘’ Jong Suk teased, bringing all the boys around the table to burst out laughing.

‘’ The only thing I’ll be practicing is my right hook on your face if you don’t stop, ‘’ Minho retorted as his eyes threw daggers at the one who had just spoken.

Jonghyun cocked an eyebrow as the other boys snickered. ‘’ What’s that about? ‘’

‘’ You’re about to hear a really good one, Jjong, ‘’ Young Bae indicated, his eyes bright with amusement.

‘’ Shall we tell him or…? ‘’ he then asked the disgruntled brunette.

‘’ Whatever, man, ‘’ Minho muttered through a mouthful of meat and rice.

‘’ Can y’all just tell me what’s going on? ‘’ Jonghyun pressed, frowning.

‘’ Okay, okay, ‘’ Jong Suk complied all too enthusiastically. ‘’ So, you know this year’s big play in our program is Romeo and Juliette, right? ‘’

‘’ Yeah… ‘’

‘’ Well, our charming prince Minho here got cast as Romeo, ‘’ he informed with an exhilarated expression as the others were nearly bent in half over the table, still laughing.

‘’ Yaaah, ‘’ Jonghyun whined as he watched his friends. ‘’ What’s so funny? Shouldn’t we be happy for Ming? ‘’

‘’ Oh, we are, ‘’ Jaehwan uttered mischievously before cracking up again, using Junki’s shoulder for support.

Despite his own laughing fit, the latter managed to deliver the most important part of the story.

‘’ And Kibum got cast as Juliette. ‘’

Jonghyun’s eyes doubled size as an explosion of rowdy laughter took over the table.

‘’ The ? ‘’ he let out as he stared at his best friend. ‘’ Are they for real? ‘’ he asked as his eyes searched his tense face.

‘’ Unfortunately, yes, ‘’ the brunette sighed heavily. ‘’ I can’t believe we’re even in this situation… ‘’

‘’ Yeah, it’s-

‘’ How the can Kibum be cast in a female role? ‘’ he sharply interjected as the fire inside him grew stronger.

‘’ Well that has happened a lot of times before in theater. ‘’

The table suddenly fell silent as they all looked at the one who had just spoken.

‘’ Excuse me? ‘’ Minho said, scowling.

Jinki froze once he noticed all the attention was on him.

‘’ A-all I was saying is that it’s no so weird for a man to be cast in a female role, ‘’ he finally managed to answer by focusing his gaze on his plate of food.

‘’ Hmm, it’s funny cause I don’t remember you being in the theater program, ‘’ Minho pointed out, voice dripping with derision.

Jinki lowered his head even more, the crushing sense of humiliation that was spreading through him making him want to disappear.

‘’ He doesn’t need to be in the theater program to have knowledge about theater, you , ‘’ Jonghyun replied in his stead.

Jinki gave a quick glance his way at the sound of his blunt tone, noticing the clench in his jaw. Before he could fear what would happen next, one of the other boys stepped in.

‘’ Well whether it’s happened before or not really doesn’t matter, ‘’ Jong Suk said. ‘’ I’m just happy we’ll get to witness Minho being all romantic to Kibum. ‘’

‘’ That’s not going to happen. I will go talk to Mr. Park again and tell him to change Kibum’s role, ‘’ Minho stated categorically.

Jonghyun rolled his eyes as the others went on cracking jokes to infuriate their friend even more. He used that moment to look at Jinki again, embarrassed by what had just happened.

He felt his chest tighten as he saw that the other had completely recoiled upon himself. Without thinking about it, he extended a hand and put it on his thigh.

He felt Jinki jump slightly at his touch before the latter looked up to meet his eyes.

‘’ Are you okay? ‘’ Jonghyun quietly asked.

‘’ Y-yeah… ‘’ Jinki stuttered as his gaze moved to zero in on the blonde’s hand.

‘’ I think I should go now, ‘’ he quickly added.

Not letting the other any time to react, he stood, picked up his tray full of food and walked away.

Jonghyun stayed there, gawking, following him with his eyes until he couldn’t anymore. When he turned back again, all eyes were on him.

‘’ Why did he leave? ‘’ Jaehwan inquired with surprise.

‘’ Cause someone at this table is a ing jackass, ‘’ he snarled as anger overthrew everything else.

All four other boys instantly looked at Minho.

The latter cocked an eyebrow in response. ‘’ I hope you are not serious right now. ‘’

‘’ Oh, I’m more than serious, ‘’ the blonde threw back, voice as sharp as a knife.

‘’ I don’t need to feel bad for anything, ‘’ Minho established right off the bat. ‘’ The real issue here is that you brought this nerd to our table. ‘’

Their friends’ eyes travelled back to Jonghyun, waiting in anticipation and fear for how he was going to respond.

But nothing came. All they saw were the daggers his eyes shot at the brunette.

‘’ What’s that about, huh? ‘’ Minho went on nonetheless. ‘’ I don’t want to believe you want to be friends with that guy so is this some charity work? ‘’

The taunting tone only added fuel to Jonghyun’s internal fire, making his fist itch to put his best friend in his place.

‘’ Come on, Ming… ‘’ Young Bae intervened, wishing to temper the tension that was presently holding them in a chokehold.

‘’ Don’t act like you don’t all agree with me, ‘’ Minho persisted anyways.

That was enough for Jonghyun. He did just like his roommate had done a few minutes before and left the table without another word.

Once he had gotten rid of his tray, he found himself rushing back to their room, his body now animated with something else than anger.

As soon as he was back in, he went straight to the other’s door and knocked, desperately hoping that he was there.

It was a few seconds before he heard movement from inside and the sound of footsteps. The door finally opened and Jonghyun found himself sighing of relief once Jinki came into his sight.

But that feeling was short-lived. The sorrow that painted the brunette’s features brought back up all the guilt he had previously experienced.

‘’ Jinki… I… ‘’

The rest of his words died in his throat as the other turned around and walked back to his bed, leaving him alone in front of the doorframe. He stared at him for a few seconds, unsure what to do before he found the courage to get closer.

Soon, he was sitting right beside him again, this time at the edge of his mattress.

‘’ I’m so sorry, Jinki, ‘’ he instantly apologized. ‘’ I would’ve never asked you to join us if I knew Minho was going to be such a jerk. ‘’

‘’ No need to apologize. I should’ve just been content with being there, but I just had to open my mouth and ruin things again. ‘’

‘’ You didn’t ruin anything, ‘’ Jonghyun immediately countered, not suffering the other’s reaction.

‘’ Minho’s the one who did with his foul mood. ‘’

Jinki looked up at him, his expression softer than before. ‘’ Is he… always like that? ‘’ he inquired.

‘’ No, he isn’t or else I wouldn’t call him my best friend, ‘’ Jonghyun replied. ‘’ It’s just that whenever something involves Kibum, he becomes a totally different person. ‘’

‘’ Why? ‘’ Jinki asked, curious.

Jonghyun snorted. ‘’ Well if you ask him, he’ll tell you that the guy is insufferable and does everything to make his life a living hell, but if you ask me, I’ll tell you that I think he actually likes Kibum. A lot. ‘’

Jinki tilted his head a bit, confused. ‘’ You mean like as… ‘’

‘’ Like as in gay like, ‘’ Jonghyun clarified.

‘’ Oh… ‘’ the brunette let out as heat rushed to his cheeks.

‘’ I just wish he could admit it to himself, so he’d stop being so hateful every 3 seconds, ‘’ the blonde sighed, irritated.

‘’ You… you wouldn’t mind? ‘’ Jinki asked, tone careful.

The other frowned. ‘’ Mind what? ‘’

‘’ That your best friend could be gay… ‘’

‘’ Of course not, ‘’ Jonghyun settled on the spot. ‘’ He can like whoever he wants. ‘’

Jinki couldn’t help but stare at him in awe. ‘’ It’s nice to hear someone being so open. ‘’

‘’ I know we live in a world full of hate, so I don’t want to add to that. I just want to live and let live. ‘’

Silence nestled between them right after, giving Jonghyun time to soak in the fact that Jinki seemed just a bit more at ease in this instant.  

‘’ Thank you, Jonghyun, ‘’ Jinki said after a while, eyes finding his again.

‘’ For? ‘’

‘’ For asking me to tag along, ‘’ he specified. ‘’ But I don’t want you take pity on me, I’m used to being on my own, it’s fine. ‘’

‘’ I wasn’t taking pity on you, ‘’ Jonghyun refuted right away before realizing it wasn’t totally true.

‘’ Well, okay, I did want to help you… have more social interactions, ‘’ he clumsily explained. ‘’ But only because I think you are great, and that people should get to know you. ‘’

A glint of surprise sparked the brunette’s gaze before a frown darkened his face. ‘’ Because I’m great? ‘’

‘’ Yes, you are. ‘’

‘’ We barely know each other. How can you say that? ‘’

Jonghyun returned the frown, hurt by the other’s words. ‘’ Well I guess I don’t know you like that, but I don’t open up to many people. Actually, I only do with one person, so that means that you’re not like everyone else. ‘’

Jinki’s brow cocked. ‘’ So, I’m great cause you can confide in me? ‘’

‘’ Yah, you’re making it sound bad, ‘’ Jonghyun complained before going on. ‘’ What I mean is that something about you can make others feel comfortable and at ease. ‘’

‘’ I don’t think anyone else would agree with that, but if that’s what you think then… I’m grateful, ‘’ Jinki voiced honestly.

‘’ Well I did have to be persistent to even have conversations with you that’s for sure, ‘’ Jonghyun half-stated, half-teased.

‘’ I don’t know why you are so persistent actually… ‘’

‘’ Hm, ‘’ Jonghyun pondered. ‘’ I’m not sure myself, but I just really wanted us to get along since you’re my roommate and all. ‘’

‘’ I think we could say it’s working out well, no? ‘’ he then added with a knowing smile as he gave the other a light nudge with his elbow.

A gentle smile crept across Jinki’s face.

‘’ I guess so. ‘’

 ***

 

Jinki didn’t know what to think or do anymore. The past few weeks had been filled with instances during which Jonghyun would spend time with him and not just in their room, but also in the hallways while they were each making their way to classes or in the cafeteria whenever Jonghyun decided that he wanted them to eat together. The latter hadn’t tried to bring him back to his friends’ table ever since the incident, even though he had gotten apologies from Minho himself a week later (which he of course knew was Jonghyun’s doing). Jinki was actually happy to instead have the blonde all to himself a few times a week during eating hours. During those times, Jinki found himself becoming more comfortable despite all the students around them. He could see the looks some gave them every time, but he slowly started not caring about that.

Not when the most attractive, interesting and talented person in the school was sitting across from him and talking about anything and everything with him. He had gotten to learn quite a lot about him through these conversations, notably that his childhood dream had actually been to be a writer and that he still enjoyed reading a lot and writing, but mostly song writing. Jinki had been pleased to know that they shared some favorite authors such as Allen Poe and Murakami. He was also grateful to learn little details about him like his love for rainy days, candles and puppies.

He loved that he knew so much about the young man he liked so much, but he was also utterly terrified that this was just some big joke or that if it wasn’t, that the other would lose interest and not talk to him anymore. Jinki had always felt quite uninteresting and being around someone who was so colorful in every sense of the way made him feel that much more inadequate.

Despite his always present insecurities, he didn’t want to let go of what they had. The other’s presence in his life was the highlight of his days. It made him feel lighter, safer but also happier. It was the best gift he could’ve ever had and even if it was taken from him some day, he would enjoy it to the fullest while it lasted.

That is why he didn’t mind when he heard a knock at his door past midnight that night. He had gotten to know during one of their conversations that Jonghyun had trouble sleeping often and upon feeling his distress, had offered to keep him company if he ever felt like he needed it. The other had dismissed it with a laugh and a ‘’ It’s fine, really, ‘’ but Jinki hadn’t bought it.

And the sudden interruption in his sleeping time was confirmation of that. Rubbing some sleep out of his eyes, Jinki straightened up to his feet, slowly walked to his door and opened it before going back to his bed to settle his sleepy self on his mattress. He fought with the urge to lie down and instead pushed himself up so that his back was resting on the headboard to at least have some support.

By the time he made himself comfortable, Jonghyun was on his bed too, cross-legged across him as he once had been a few weeks back.

Jinki waited for Jonghyun to say something, but all he did was pick at a loose thread of his top sheet. The darkness of the room didn’t help him read the other’s expression, but he could sense his anguish. He couldn’t not feel it when he knew that feeling so well.

‘’ What’s going on, Jjong? ‘’ he asked, worried.

It was a while again before anything else was said until the blonde sighed.

‘’ I’m really sorry to bother you, but… I… can’t sleep… ‘’

Jinki could feel the heaviness in his tone and suddenly felt scared to ask more, but he knew Jonghyun had come here for a reason.

‘’ What’s keeping you up this time? ‘’

Another sigh left the blonde’s mouth.

‘’ I don’t know… it’s just… ‘’ He ruffled his hair in frustration. ‘’ It’s been worse lately… ‘’

Jinki pondered his words as he kept looking at him with worry. ‘’ Is it because of classes or something? ‘’ he tried, unsure.

Jonghyun finally looked up, gaze still. ‘’ Maybe… ‘’ he started. ‘’ I guess I’ve been thinking about my grades a lot lately. ‘’

‘’ Weren’t you studying a lot with that friend of yours? ‘’

‘’ Yeah and it did help, but I don’t know what happened during exam week… ‘’ Jonghyun paused, eyes dropping to the bed again. ‘’ It was like I was too overwhelmed… ‘’

‘’ Oh, ‘’ Jinki let out, both surprised and pained. ‘’ Did you fail any exams? ‘’

‘’ No, I didn’t, but still my grades aren’t that great… ‘’

‘’ Well I mean it’s good that you didn’t fail, ‘’ Jinki pointed out.

‘’ It’d be good if I wasn’t considering going to uni now… ‘’ Jonghyun shared, voice almost down to a whisper.

Jinki’s eyes widened. ‘’ You want to go? ‘’ he exclaimed in the quiet of the room.

‘’ I think so yeah… ‘’

‘’ What changed your mind? ‘’ the brunette asked, curious.

‘’ Well after talking about it with you back then, I realized that things wouldn’t be that easy if I just stopped going to school. Like it would take a while for me to get my career going and that would either mean living at home during that whole process and if not, it would mean that I’d have to work like crazy to afford my own place and then I wouldn’t have so much time to create… ‘’

‘’ Why can't you just stay at home while you're figuring things out? ‘’

Jonghyun snorted. '' Cause my mom is insufferable most of the time. And with her new boyfriend, things are just even worse now. When they wouldn’t be too busy being in their own world, they'd pester me about doing something valuable with my life. ''

‘’ Music is something valuable, ‘’ Jinki immediately countered.

‘’ Well they don’t share that opinion, ‘’ Jonghyun informed. ‘’ I had to fight with all my might so that my mom would let me go here. She's still hoping I can go to a law school or a medical school for uni. ‘’ Snorting, he added, ‘’ As if that could ever happen… ‘’

‘’ Oh damn... That , ‘’ Jinki said. ‘’ I mean that your mom’s not supportive of your passion, ‘’ he quickly went on to avoid any misunderstandings.

‘’ Yeah, well it’s nothing new… ‘’ Jonghyun replied, tone resigned.

‘’ Your family's not like that? ‘’ he then asked as he locked eyes with the other.

‘’ Nope. They're the opposite actually... ‘’

‘’ Waah... That must be so nice. ‘’

‘’ Well, yeah, I guess it is... ‘’

‘’ But? ‘’ Jonghyun sensed as the other’s gaze dropped.

Jinki sighed. ‘’ But it's also hard living in their shadow. ‘’

‘’ Eh? ‘’ Jonghyun let out, confused.

‘’ They are writers too. Successful writers. ‘’

‘’ Oh damn. Who are they? ‘’

‘’ Lee Jinsun and Lee Eunsook, ‘’ Jinki almost muttered, shy.

 Jonghyun’s eyes doubled in size instantly. ‘’ Your mother wrote Crimson?? ‘’

The brunette’s expression then also brightened with surprise. ‘’ You read that? ‘’

‘’ Don’t look so shocked. I told you I read a lot, ‘’ Jonghyun said, a little offended. ‘’ And yes. I love that book. ‘’

‘’ So do I, ‘’ Jinki echoed. ‘’ Everything they write is brilliant. ‘’

His sullen tone had Jonghyun quiet for a second.

‘’ Their success doesn't have to undermine yours, ‘’ the latter said all too seriously.

‘’ I know, but it just feels like I'll never be as talented as them. ‘’

Before Jonghyun could reassure him again, he went on. ‘’ I’ve loved reading and writing since I was young and they always encouraged me to nurture that passion which is why they pretty much insisted I go to this school, but I just feel like I'll disappoint them at some point. ‘’

‘’ Well, if it means anything, ‘’ the blonde slowly started. ‘’ I don't see any reason for you to worry. ‘’

‘’ You're just saying that, ‘’ Jinki immediately dismissed.

‘’ No, ‘’ Jonghyun countered before stopping himself, quietly weighing the pros and the cons of going through with what he had wanted to say for a long while now.

‘’ So how can you know? ‘’ Jinki asked, frowning.

‘’ Because, ‘’ Jonghyun began once more, feeling his body tense with apprehension. ‘’ I’ve read your stuff, ‘’ he finally shared.

‘’ What? ‘’ Jinki all but yelled, eyes wide.

‘’ I was curious so I searched and found out that your program published a booklet every year with some of the students’ works, ‘’ Jonghyun explained.

‘’I was more than happy to see that you were in it for every edition, ‘’ he then said, the ghost of a smile dancing on lips.

The room fell silent right after as a dumbfounded Jinki tried to process the information he had just been given. His main instinct was to drop to the floor and hide under the bed, but then again, he was too stunned to even move a finger.

‘’ Jinki, ‘’ Jonghyun softly called out, concerned.

When the brunette didn’t show any sign of life, he extended a hand and put it over his. He felt a slight twitch at his touch, but didn’t break contact.

‘’ I was confident you were very talented and I wasn’t disappointed, ‘’ Jonghyun said. ‘’ In fact, I’ve been haunted by some of your lines for weeks now. ‘’

Jinki couldn’t help but move his gaze to his again at that. ‘’ Really? ‘’

‘’ Yes, ‘’ Jonghyun assured with a full smile. ‘’ It even helped me get inspired for my composition test, so thank you for helping me keep one of my only excellent grades, ‘’ he continued with a soft laugh.

The brunette still was at a loss for words.

‘’ Yah, Jinki! ‘’ the blonde uttered more loudly. ‘’ Say something, please. If you’re mad, I unders-

‘’ I’m not mad, ‘’ Jinki interjected, finally getting a grip over himself.

The other’s shoulders slumped down in relief. ‘’ I’m glad. I was scared that you would be, that’s why I didn’t tell you. ‘’

‘’ Well, I mean, our booklets are made available for everyone to read so you had every right to, I just didn’t think you’d be so interested to actually seek out my writings, ‘’ Jinki voiced bashfully.

Jonghyun squeezed his hand. ‘’ You need to have a little more faith in yourself. ‘’

‘’ I guess… ‘’

The blonde shook his head at the other’s lack of self-confidence before pulling back a bit.

‘’ I would’ve never guessed you were such a romantic though, ‘’ he then teased to lighten the mood.

‘’ What? ‘’

‘’ Your poems, ‘’ Jonghyun answered. ‘’ They’re mainly about longing and love. ‘’

‘’ Has anyone stolen your heart, Lee Jinki? ‘’ he followed up, wiggling his brows suggestively.

‘’ No, ‘’ Jinki immediately replied as his heart jumped inside his chest.

‘’ Aaah, that’s too bad, ‘’ Jonghyun grumbled playfully.

‘’ I’d be very curious to know what kind of person can make your heart flutter, ‘’ he added with a sly smile.

Jinki answered with silence again, petrified beyond words.

‘’ It’s fine, you don’t have to tell me now, ‘’ the blonde reassured, chuckling.

‘’ Anyways, thank you so much for being there for me, Jinki. It means a lot, ‘’ the latter uttered earnestly before moving on the bed and wrapping his arms tightly around the other.

Jinki tensed up, not moving an inch for a few seconds before the blonde’s warmth melted his frozen state. He hugged him back just as tight, relishing that closeness that he had so long ached for.

Jonghyun pulled away first, smiling. ‘’ You’re a good hugger. ‘’

Jinki was thankful for the lack of light at this moment because he could feel his cheeks burning.

‘’ You too, ‘’ he quietly returned.

Jonghyun smiled again before getting off the bed. ‘’ Goodnight, Jinki. ‘’

‘’ Goodnight, Jjong. ‘’

The blonde then left his room, closing the door shut behind him.

Jinki exhaled in relief before pushing himself back down to lie flat on his mattress. He knew that gesture was futile though because there was no way he’d be able to fall asleep now.

 

***

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