Work in progress

Love House

Kyungsoo.

Kyungsoo sighs as he drags his suitcase inside the villa. It’s the same place as the last time, so he feels some sort of familiarity. Everything looks the same, from the magical front yard with the white bench, to the fairy forest in the backyard. He can almost see his past self talking to Jongin on the couch or hanging out in the hot tub. Everything was just as neat as the last time they were there.

And just like the last time, it feels awkward just walking in. This time for different reasons, of course.

Jongin hasn’t said a word since the producers picked them up and dropped them there, which means Kyungsoo hasn’t either. He’s not the one who has to apologize or explain anything, so he’s not the one breaking the silence. At least not yet. Part of him feels petty for this, but he’s still upset deep down, so he’ll allow himself some pettiness.

They naturally drift back into the rooms they picked last time and Kyungsoo sits on his bed for what feels like forever. They’re back at square one and he honestly has no energy to do anything. If they have to sit in silence the entire weekend, then that’s what they’ll do. No matter how much Kyungsoo wants to ask Jongin how his mother is doing or how he’s doing.

He was at the hospital with her that same day, after all. So, it’s only natural to be curious.

Kyungsoo hears a door closing, then footsteps dragging through the hallway, and then they pause in front of his door. He stares at it for a moment, waiting for a knock, if anything. However, the sound of footsteps resumes, and they disappear down the hall. He takes a deep breath.

This is going to be more complicated than he expected.

It isn’t until a while later that Kyungsoo finally steps out of his room. He walks into the living room, finding Jongin sitting on the couch, going through the channels on the TV. Their stares collide, making Kyungsoo’s brain disconnect. There’s no way this weekend is going to work if they’re going to be like this.

He doesn’t want to think they can drift apart and whatever it is they built during the past few weeks could crumble down.

But he’s thinking about it.

His mind went there and there’s no going back now. Kyungsoo quickly breaks eye contact, heading to the fully stocked kitchen, and he opens the fridge to find something easy he can make. He pulls out a few ingredients and decides on what to prepare.

He washes his hands, setting everything up to cook. With luck, that will take his mind off of things, for now.

“Need help?” Jongin’s voice is right in his left ear. Kyungsoo gasps, taking a step back. For someone who plays such a loud instrument, he can be so silent. Kyungsoo sighs, debating if he should take his offer or not. His petty side wants to say no. He’s still kind of upset, after all.

However, that tiny voice in his head reminds him that he promised himself to be an adult next time they had a chance to talk. So, he takes a deep breath and mumbles a ‘yeah sure’ that makes Jongin rush to wash his hands.

Kyungsoo closes his eyes.

You’re upset. Just ignore the cuteness.

Jongin gets to it right away, assigning himself a task. Kyungsoo tries to not be so painfully conscious of the way Jongin moves next to him, the way their arms brush against each other as he chops some vegetables, or just how much he missed his presence.

The way they adjust to each other.

He can also feel Jongin’s eyes on him every once in a while. He wants to say something. Kyungsoo can tell.

“Kyungsoo…”

“Not now.” He replies. He thought he would be, but he’s not ready. Maybe after they eat.

He’s not stalling, he just needs to clear his head from the alcohol he had that day.

He’s definitely not stalling.

Jongin falls silent again, going back to the task at hand. They finish cooking their dinner and sit on the couch to eat. Neither of them say a word as they eat. It’s probably such a stupid thing, he’s probably overreacting. He knows he tends to overthink things most of the time. However, how could he not?

When someone pushes you away so clearly, there must be a reason for it. Right?

Once he’s done, he sets his plate down on his lap and sighs. There’s not really an easy way to dive into the subject. He allows himself to look at Jongin for the first time in the past hour. Look at him for real. He looks the same, except for the slight bags under his eyes. He was probably having such a hard time, especially being his mother the one hospitalized.

“How’s your mother doing?” Kyungsoo asks. He notices the way Jongin holds his breath.

“She’s… doing a lot better.” Jongin sighs. “We took her home today and my sister is staying with her.”

“I’m glad.” Kyungsoo nods.

“I…” Jongin frowns, he glances down at his fidgeting hands. “I know what I did was wrong. I wanted to apologize for what I said.”

There it is.

The words Kyungsoo was waiting to hear. However, he just hums, not knowing what to say.

“I know it’s not really an excuse… and I can’t say I have a good reason, either.” Jongin shakes his head. “I just-”

“I wanted to be there for you. It might be silly, but…”

“It’s not silly!” Jongin turns towards him, eyes wide open. “It’s not! I would’ve wanted the same. To be there for you.”

“Then why didn’t you let me?” Kyungsoo’s voice comes out low. “You allowed everyone else to be there for you.”

“Because…” Jongin sighs again. He lets out a frustrated groan. “I don’t know. I just didn’t want to be a burden. Somehow your help meant more than anyone else’s. You mean more to me than anyone else. I didn’t want you to worry about me just as much as I wanted to lean on you. It made me feel vulnerable and I didn’t like that. Not in those circumstances.”

Kyungsoo lets him talk. Apparently, Jongin had a lot more to get out of his chest than Kyungsoo thought initially.

“I know everyone was trying to help, and I appreciated that too, but seeing you there,” he pauses. “It just made me feel like that. I went with my first instinct and then realized it was wrong. I thought it was going to be fine and I would only have to explain it to you and apologize, but then you were so upset.” He sighs. “Either way, I’m sorry.”

“I see.”

“I want to say I’m not always like this, but I would be lying. It’s hard for me to accept help from people I care about. I just want to make you happy and not be the reason you worry.” Jongin’s eyes are so intense, that Kyungsoo can barely stand to make eye contact. “I’m slow and stubborn and I don’t always know what to say. That’s why I told you, that time we talked, that there were many things I hate about myself.”

Kyungsoo gets the faint memory of a conversation that went along those lines.

“I said I wanted to be honest about my flaws…”

“And find someone who would take you even then.” Kyungsoo nods. He remembers.

There is silence between them as they both ponder on his words.

“That doesn’t mean you have to, but I want you to know that I want to work on that… with you. If you let me, of course.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t respond. What could he honestly say to that? Yes? No? Okay? I do? What’s an acceptable answer? He bites his bottom lip, unsure of how to proceed.

“You promise you won’t push me away then?”

“I promise you I’ll try not to.” Jongin chuckles, scratching the back of his head. “I’m a work in progress.”

Kyungsoo smiles. “A work in progress. I think that’s fair.”

They sit in silence again for a couple of minutes.

“So, you forgive me then?”

“Let’s say it’s a work in progress too… you’ll have to earn some points.” If he wants things to go back to normal, he’s going to have to work hard.

Jongin nods enthusiastically. “I will try my best.”

From there, they move on to safe topics. Catching up with what they’ve been doing for the past few days. Jongin tells him more about his mother and their hospital journey and Kyungsoo simply listens, making a few comments here and there. He can tell Jongin is worried still, but he tries his best to ease his concerns.

Kyungsoo then, tells him all about Baekhyun and his friends and the afternoon they had.

A few hours in, they decide it’s time to head to bed. Kyungsoo feels a lot lighter if he’s being honest with himself. Having talked about it was the best choice. He feels better.

He walks into his room, staring at the bed. Then he hears Jongin’s footsteps in the hallway once again. His brain doesn’t think too much about it, yet his body moves almost on its own. Opening the door, his eyes look for Jongin, who’s opening his own door.

“Jongin.”

The other man blinks, looking back at him. “Yes?”

“Would you mind…? I mean, do you think…?” Kyungsoo takes a deep breath. “Would you like to sleep here instead?”

Jongin’s eyes grow to the size of the moon. He mumbles a few things Kyungsoo can’t understand, but he then quickly closes the door. “In your room?”

Kyungsoo nods.

“On the same bed?”

Kyungsoo nods again.

“With you?”

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Jongin shakes his head. “It’s not that, it’s just… sudden.” He makes his way back to Kyungsoo. “I don’t mind.”

Kyungsoo smiles and opens the door to let him in. Jongin stays by the door as Kyungsoo heads back to the bed, crawling under the sheets. “Can you turn off the light then?”

Jongin nods, but he doesn’t move. “Are you sure?”

Kyungsoo chuckles. “Yes, I’m sure. You don’t have to.”

“I want to.” Jongin bolts to the other side of the bed. He turns off the lights and pulls back the sheets on that side. “Are you really sure?”

Kyungsoo wants to laugh. “Jongin…”

“Yes, I know. I just don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.”

“I was the one who asked you.”

“I know.”

“Then get in here.”

Jongin nods, even in the dark Kyungsoo can see his nervousness.

“Okay… here I go.”

“I’m waiting.”

“I’m really getting in.”

“I’m aware.”

A second goes by and eventually, Jongin takes the spot next to him. They’re not extremely close to each other since the bed is quite large. However, Jongin is tense and Kyungsoo can feel it. He sighs, reaching out to hold Jongin’s hand.

“Good night Jongin.”

Kyungsoo waits for his response and even though it doesn’t come right away, he feels Jongin’s body relaxing next to him. He holds his hand back.

“Good night, Kyungsoo.”

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