008

Iris

The icy and thin air of winter is starting to relent to the semi-warm dews of spring as Jongin looks out the window at the twisted trees, still barren from their lack of green buds. The seasons will be changing soon and he presses his hand against the cool glass, watching as it makes a print on the surface with a layer of fog surrounding it.

He strides back to his desk and scrolls through his list of appointments on the hospital’s joined calendar system. Out of a weird sense of curiosity and the lingering offense he took last week, he opens Suho’s digital calendar to see what he’s doing today.

1:15 PM - 2:00 PM : Do Kyungsoo (#02176114) - Cell Reconfiguration (2)

Jongin’s heart flutters a bit when he sees the familiar name and he checks his own calendar again to see what he’s doing during that time period. He frowns when he sees that he has a surgery to attend to but then a more concerned wrinkle mars his forehead as he takes in what the rest of Suho’s day looks like.

It’s empty. And Jongin curses him under his breath.

“Was it okay? Did you properly look after yourself?” Suho inquires as he’s gliding his fingers over Kyungsoo’s abdomen again and depressing the flesh, feeling the muscles constricting. He notices the green-blue bruises blossoming on the alabaster skin and furrows his eyebrows, knowing that it’s a normal symptom but it looks terribly painful.

“It hurt a lot that night and my body was aching and sore the day after but I could walk again the next day,” Kyungsoo replies, shivering slightly from the cold sensation of the latex gloves. He remembers Suho’s concern last time and adds, “Jongin took care of me all night. He massaged my back for me and stayed by my side.”

“He did?” Suho’s surprised at this bit of information and thinks back to his poisonous confrontation with Jongin the day after he saw Kyungsoo. “Oh, well that’s good,” he manages, a pounding sensation welling up through his chest.

As Suho’s tugging off his gloves and washing his hands, Kyungsoo asks, “Do you have a spouse?”

Suho’s cheeks tangle into a lonely smile and his eyes aren’t shimmering as he contemplates the answer to this question. “...I used to but he passed away a few years ago.”

“Oh... I’m sorry to hear that... I apologize for asking,” Kyungsoo responds, his cheeks tinged pink from embarrassment and regret at having brought up the topic.

Suho notices that the atmosphere between them is awkward and heavy now so he tries to truly smile at Kyungsoo. “It’s really alright. It’s been four years since then so you don’t have to worry about hurting my feelings.”

Kyungsoo still feels the guilt vaguely slithering through his spine though as Suho starts the machine and the soft whirring of the circular tube fills his ears once more as it expels more waves into his body. It stings just the slightest bit this time and his face crinkles at the edges, knowing that it’ll definitely be amplified by a thousand-fold later tonight.

As he’s getting dressed, Kyungsoo is aptly aware of the grotesque bruises seeping brilliantly onto his skin like watercolors, tainting the flesh with a layer of broken blood vessels. And he makes sure to avoid the sore spots as he gathers his belongings to leave the room. Sleep has been escaping him lately, coming and going like a hurricane and leaving him wanting more but the barrier of pain is too much for him to sleep through the night, waking up every hour or so.  

This time, Kyungsoo barely makes it home before the pain ruthlessly rips into his body. The sharp and stinging smell of stomach acid is lacing the air around him and the nausea is suffocating him in a miasma of dizziness. His eyes burn with unshed tears as the gags rack his body and choke at his lungs. The tears rolling down his cheeks take with them the bitter taste of sweat and it’s hard to breath with splinters stuck in your lungs. His bones are aching as he’s here on the familiar bathroom floor, too exhausted to move from his spot.

As he’s vomiting, Suho prepares a cold hand towel for him and a glass of water, dabbing the sweat that has started to bead on Kyungsoo’s forehead. He stares at Suho with drowsy eyes as he’s resting his temple against the cool porcelain of the toilet bowl. “Thanks for looking after me,” he mumbles, his words jumbled slightly.

Suho shifts to sit cross-legged in front of him and continues to tenderly dab at his forehead while smiling. “Someone has to,” he replies half-playfully, still angry at Jongin.

Kyungsoo’s face breaks out in a gorgeous grin like stars erupting in the sky and Suho thinks that his long-damaged heart is beginning to love again.

 

-----


Jongin’s home in record time today because of the suspicion that has been scratching at his veins this entire day, flooding them with anger and something else. It’s a weird and itchy sensation that he’s never experienced before so he doesn’t know what it is but it’s the thought that Kyungsoo is together with someone else-- someone who is determined to tear their relationship apart. So when he enters the house and doesn’t hear the familiar footsteps, his first thought bounces to evil and crooked thoughts of illicit love affairs and unfaithful caresses underneath linen sheets.

Seeing the soft glow of light in the living room, he quickly strides down the hallway and enters the room to see Suho sitting comfortably on the armchair reading a book and Kyungsoo sleeping on the couch with a slight furrow in between his eyebrows. Suho closes the book upon seeing Jongin and the same poisonous glare is back, one that Jongin mimics.

“And here I thought you were going to opt to work a double shift on the day of your spouse’s cell reconfiguration,” Suho initiates.

Jongin takes a breath to launch his counterattack but he thinks better of causing a scene here with Kyungsoo sleeping so soundly. So he swallows his pride and takes the harassment that Suho dishes out at him. “...Thanks for taking care of him. You won’t have to again.”

“I’m not so sure that you can promise that,” Suho chimes brutally, walking passed Jongin and bumping his shoulder purposefully on his way out.

Once he’s gone, Jongin slides his frustrated hands through his hair, taking a deep breath to calm his surging rage before taking the few steps to stand in front of his husband. He massages his face with his hands and then peeks at Kyungsoo through his fingers. A strange and uncontrollable impulse pokes at him with its tempting claws and he lets the comfortable touch of body heat wash over him. And he doesn’t know it yet but he’s starting to trust people again slowly, the thought that he’s no longer alone in this world skipping around his heart.

Kyungsoo wakes up in the middle of the night from his spot on the couch to the warmth of Jongin’s chest pressed against his cheek with their limbs tangled together and all he can do is smile ear-to-ear as the love consumes him.

 

 

-----


The golden rays of sunlight are spewing beautifully over the cityscape with the air hiding the coming hues of spring. Suho’s in a dazzling mood today as he grips a bouquet of velvety red roses in his hands with sprigs of baby’s breath peeking in between the buds. He rings the doorbell that he’s grown so accustomed to after years of knowing the house’s owner and a gorgeous grin spreads itself onto his cheeks when he comes face-to-face with the person who has captured his heart.

“You’re here! Come in,” Kyungsoo ushers, stepping aside to let the doctor into his house.

“Thank you. These are for you,” Suho smiles brilliantly, offering him the exquisite roses.

Kyungsoo laughs a bit, a bouncing sound dotted with shyness, to diffuse his embarrassment and accepts them graciously. “Thank you so much! This was supposed to be a thank-you dinner from me to you though so you didn’t have to.”

Suho believes that it was the correct decision to buy the roses though because the happiness splashing onto Kyungsoo’s round cheeks as he arranges a vase for them is so incredibly precious. He sets the vase on the windowsill directly in front of the kitchen sink and, coupled with the luminous glow of light streaming in through the window, they glitter and sparkle.

A delicious aroma is engulfing the room and Suho can feel his mouth watering as Kyungsoo’s moving plates and silverware around. “Dinner is almost ready so you can have a seat at the table, Suho.”

“Let me help you with that,” Suho replies, assisting with the setup. As he’s doing so, he maintains an intimate distance between his body and Kyungsoo’s so that they’re almost touching. Kyungsoo takes note of this and finds it strange for Suho to be so close to him but he brushes it off, seeing no immediate harm in it.


The atmosphere is clouded in a lightness and misted with a certain happiness that Kyungsoo’s hasn’t felt in a while as they laugh and trade small talk. Kyungsoo finds himself smiling so much that his cheeks hurt and it’s a nice change of pace since he’s been having his meals alone since he moved in with Jongin. He thinks that it’s wonderful to be able to share a meal with someone else. Throughout the meal, Suho finds that his gaze is always glued to Kyungsoo’s adorable smile and a warm ticklish feeling is wrapping around him but he doesn’t mind.

When it comes time for dish-washing, Suho offers to help but Kyungsoo declines politely. So, instead, he lingers to his side and watches Kyungsoo’s lovely hands and listens to him humming melodiously. As his gaze slides over the silver band on Kyungsoo’s finger, his heart feels a slight jolt. The sky is casting the room with an evening hue now with purples and blues starting to seep in over the vibrant reds and oranges.

And Suho thinks that this is definitely what he wants. He wants to be able to giggle and smile with Kyungsoo as they’re having a homemade meal with love peeking in between the lines. He wants to continue to be with him so naturally like this and is sure that he can commit more time and care towards Kyungsoo than Jongin can. But how is it that even when Jongin treats him like this, Kyungsoo is still so devoted?

“What do you like about Jongin?” Suho suddenly blurts.

Kyungsoo dries his hands with distant eyes, carefully contemplating the question before finding the correct words to describe his complicated feelings. “Jongin always seems like he’s scared to open his heart to others. He is forever scared of injury and works hard to protect himself even if it comes off as cold. This Jongin... this Jongin who is lonely and always seems like he’s in pain... Even if his actions towards me are only out of pity, I want to stay by his side.”

There’s a terribly gripping shock wave of emotion that pulses through Suho at the tender and caring face Kyungsoo has as he’s talking about Jongin. He knows that he shouldn’t do this. He shouldn’t be trying to come in between a marriage, much less his friend’s marriage, but his heart is closed to these warning signals and he’s fallen too deeply to turn back. So his fingertips come up to hover over the small of Kyungsoo’s back, barely touching the fabric there, and Kyungsoo tenses.

Kyungsoo can sense the aura around them going electric with something dangerous and his body is still spewing confusion as Suho leans towards him. His eyes are still staring widely at the man in front of him when the soft lips press against his and his mind is absolutely blank. When Suho pulls away, Kyungsoo’s petrified eyes slide upwards to meet his and Suho knows that it was sly of him to attack Kyungsoo when he was off-guard.

“I’ll cherish you, Kyungsoo... I’ll definitely cherish you more than him. I’ll eat my meals with you, hold you as you’re sleeping, appreciate every sacrifice you make for me from the bottom of my heart. So... won’t you fall in love me instead?”

Kyungsoo’s like a fish floundering outside of water as he opens his mouth to say something-- anything-- but nothing comes out. Suho can see the overt perplexity on the other man’s face and he caresses his cheek, earning a surprised gasp. “I know that it’s sudden but could you think it over for a while and then give me an answer?”

After Suho leaves, Kyungsoo’s a clutter of chaos as he’s wobbling around the house trying to tidy and clean whatever he can in order to get his mind off of what just happened. What happened, anyway? He’s not even sure. So he crouches down into a ball with a dust rag knotting through his fingers and tries to will the cogs in his mind to move coherently.

Suho, he... he likes me... and he kissed me...

An abrupt torrent of blood comes storming onto his cheeks as he thinks about the kiss and it sends his heartstrings into a tangle of braids and spirals. He covers his face with his hands, trying to get himself to breathe evenly. His thoughts sprint back to the sensation of Suho’s lips against his but the image shatters and crumbles when Jongin’s face flashes through his mind.

Jongin.

Oh, no. What should he tell Jongin? Should he tell him at all? No, he definitely deserves to know. But wait, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

If he does find out, will he even be hurt?

 

-----


Papers and documents scattered haphazardly across his polished desk with pens and pencils rolling around in between manila-colored folders. As Jongin’s recording notes in some patient records, a knock at the door interrupts him. A pair of familiar bright eyes peek through the crack in the door as Luhan bounces into his office with Sehun in tow.

An unintentional smile graces Jongin’s facial features upon seeing them as he puts his work down and comes around the desk to greet them. “What are you two doing here?” he asks cheerfully.

“We had an appointment just now and decided to drop by to see you,” Luhan responds with a grin, a hand absently coming to rest on his abdomen. “We even brought a gift!”

Sehun holds up a small paper gift bag complete with a vibrant ribbon tied to the handles. “You probably already have some but we thought getting some more wouldn’t hurt.”

Confused, Jongin peers into the bag and reaches his hand inside to inspect the colorful bottle. He turns it around to see the label properly and his face twists into a deep frown as he recognizes what it is. “Lubricant? You guys bought me lubricant?”

A plethora of laughter erupts between Luhan and Sehun upon seeing Jongin’s expression. “You make it seem like you guys haven’t done it yet!” Luhan exclaims, still spewing giggles. As he continues to watch Jongin’s stern face, his laughter sputters and eventually dies out. Worry seeps into his voice instead. “Wait. You really haven’t done it yet?”

Sehun’s all-knowing eyes dart over to Jongin’s and they mentally wage war on each other. Telepathic waves of disapproval snake into Jongin and he sighs, knowing that he’s in for another round of scolding. Luhan’s face scrunches itself up with resentment and just as he’s taking a deep breath to unleash his fury, Sehun clamps a hand onto his shoulder and talks instead.

“Jongin, I know that this is your marriage and I don’t know what’s really going on so I won’t pry, but because this is a marriage and not just about yourself, be sure to think of Kyungsoo’s feelings too, okay?”

Sehun tugs on Luhan’s arm gently before the older man can get a word in and they leave the office with Luhan chucking indignant insults at Jongin’s stupidity and something about his lack of male anatomy. Jongin just looks at the lubricant again.

“...be sure to think of Kyungsoo’s feelings too...”

 

 

-----


After successfully punching in the security combination, Jongin inserts his metal key and pushes the heavy wooden door open, his gift bag crumpling slightly as he enters the house. The first thing he sees is a mass of hair and clothing on the floor. Upon closer inspection, he can see that it’s Kyungsoo sitting in a ball with his arms hugging his knees to his chest. He stands there for a moment, neither of them saying anything. This is weird... he thinks.

“What are you doing?” Jongin asks when Kyungsoo merely watches as he’s taking off his shoes with dead eyes, not budging an inch from his spot.

Kyungsoo’s body is a mass of screaming nerve-endings and messy thoughts, a darkness bubbling into his heart as he’s replaying his predicament with Suho again and again, those lips constantly coming back to kiss him. He’s disgusted with himself and some more possible conversations with Jongin pass through his head. He’s too scared to meet his spouse’s eyes right now lest they pierce his soul and read his thoughts. So, instead, he opts to mumble a quivering ‘welcome home’ before unwrapping himself and heading for the kitchen to look for some more things to do with his hands.

Jongin’s eyes darken with suspicion at his partner’s strange behavior and he follows him into the kitchen to see that he’s wiping the countertops which already look sparkling clean. He vaguely notices the bouquet of brilliant roses sitting on the windowsill but he doesn’t question it seeing as how Kyungsoo’s mood is more important right now.

“I’m spending the night at Baekhyun and Chanyeol’s house tomorrow night so they can take me to my reproductive implant surgery in the morning. Their phone number is on the refrigerator door. I’ll make your lunch ahead of time and put it in the fridge, okay?” Kyungsoo mumbles, unable to make eye contact.

Jongin’s mind brushes passed the words and, as he’s watching Kyungsoo’s expression, there’s an insatiable urge that flutters through him. He closes in on him, his body so close that Kyungsoo can feel the heat radiating into him from under his clothes. Kyungsoo gnaws at his bottom lip. He’s so incredibly terrified of telling him what happened but also torn between wanting him to know. His eyes brim with tears and Jongin hears him sniffle so he wraps his arms around him, gathering him into his chest lovingly.

Kyungsoo doesn’t want to cry. He can’t cry because surely Jongin will find out. So he takes a shaky breath to calm himself, taking a whiff of Jongin’s rich scent. He closes his eyes and absorbs the comfort of being in Jongin’s embrace, rationalizing this moment of greed through his sadness. Realizing that he shouldn’t get too comfortable, he loosens himself from Jongin’s hold and mutters, “I’m fine.”

And maybe it’s because of his high level of stress or maybe it’s something else but the chain of events happening around him lately contribute to Jongin’s unhesitant and husky invitation, “Why don’t you sleep with me tonight.”


 

 

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