It had been four days since they had left and like every morning now, Jonghyun found himself in the kitchen, making pancakes. He had never been much of a cook so he had to stick to what he knew best. Nonetheless, he still made sure to mix things up a little. He gave a quick look at the hour, feeling the pressure to go faster as he had fallen behind on his usual schedule. He wanted everything to be perfect. His espresso was already ready and laid out with a crown of whipped cream to give it a pretty finish. He smiled to himself as he envisioned the other's face lighting up with content. He was finally feeling a little more relaxed around him, thing he hadn't felt in quite a while. He knew it was little attentions like these that would slowly but surely get them right back on track.
He was finally down to his last pancake and when he felt like it had reached the perfect balance of crispiness and softness, he placed it right on top of the others. He had made a big pile, knowing how much the younger one appreciated it them. And so did he for that matter. He then reached into the refrigerator to take out strawberries and then into one of the cupboards to take out the syrup. His hands worked quickly and he was almost done adorning his masterpiece when he heard footsteps near him. He turned around and his face dropped as he saw the brunette walk in.
'What's that face for?' Kibum asked with a laugh.
'I wanted to bring it up to you... you know as a surprise,' Jonghyun explained with lingering disappointment.
'Aaaw, baby.' Kibum walked up to him swiftly, trapping him into a tight embrace, both his arms circled around his neck.
Jonghyun held him back, inhaling his always sweet scent, which this time held on to his nostrils longer as if he was discovering it for the first time. When he pulled back, he noticed the glimmer in the other's eyes. He could see he was already pleased and that was enough for him.
'You're so sweet,' Kibum noted softly.
'It's the least I can do for you,' he naturally replied.
Kibum then turned his attention to what he had made and as Jonghyun had expected, a huge smile stretched his features. He stepped closer to the counter and dipped a finger into the whipped cream, before picking up the cup. He took a sip and hummed his delight.
'I swear you make the best coffee I've ever tasted.' And he brought the cup to his lips again, avidly taking it in. The cream lined his upper lip and Jonghyun couldn't help but smile at the cute sight. He was tempted to reach and wipe it off for him, but he was already taking care of it.
'I made even more pancakes today,' Jonghyun pointed out as he gestured towards the plate.
'I can see that,' Kibum exclaimed. 'Do you want me to get fat?' he reprimanded jokingly.
Jonghyun rolled his eyes. 'I've seen you eat before, thank god you have a good metabolism,' he teased.
'Yah!' He immediately fell into laughter, knowing very well he had no great comeback to that. When his eyes finally took in all the details, his hand landed right in the middle of his chest. 'It looks so pretty, too bad it's going to disappear into our bellies,' he said cutely.
Jonghyun snickered. Indeed, it was almost too perfect to eat. Although it was nothing elaborate, the finely cut strawberries surrounding the pile of pancakes and the delicate drizzle of chocolate syrup descending along it made him feel proud.
'We should eat before it gets cold,' Jonghyun advised suddenly feeling his stomach grumble. He realized he had been up for quite a while and it was time he satiated his hunger. He picked up the plate as Kibum followed with their cups of coffee. They both set it on the dining table that was right next to where they were. Jonghyun ran back to take out some utensils and other plates and after handing them out to his boyfriend, he piqued into the pile and placed a bunch right in front of him. It was now his turn to hum as his tastes buds relished the sweetness of the treat. He took another bite and another, his eyes half-closed from pleasure. He didn't need much to be happy, only good food and good company. And right now, he had both. He could gladly say it now that he had gotten over himself. Not that some things didn't linger in his head anymore, but being away from everything had seemed to put the rest on pause and it was what he had needed to focus on them.
It had only been a week since he had agreed to give their couple another chance, but it felt like a lifetime had passed since then. He had been battling with himself for days, searching inside to figure out what was the right thing to do. The task had been made easier for him as he hadn't had to take the first step. Kibum had called him a few days after he had last seen his brother to ask him to come over. He hadn't been able to say no, but the awkward encounter that ensued brought on even more doubts. Another few days went by again before Jonghyun finally reached out to him in hopes of making things right. He didn't want to stay in the miserable state he had been in for so long and each time he'd think about the whole situation, one thing always came back to him... 'It must still be there, that spark that got you two together.'
He had convinced himself that there had to be some truth in that, that those years he had spent with Kibum would pursue beyond this hindrance that had interposed itself between them. It was what crossed his mind every day, and it did again in that moment as he watched him stuff his mouth with pancakes. He was glad he had agreed to his offer to come here. It was great to get out of all that crap and be in a peaceful and quiet environment.
'Bummie...' he called out gently.
The other lifted his head, munching on the bite he had just taken. 'Yeah,' he mumbled.
'I just... this feels really nice,' he uttered sincerely.
'Being here... with you,' he specified with a smile.
'Tsk...Don't start getting all fluffy with me,' the younger one dismissed defensively.
But Jonghyun knew it had had the effect he wanted. His reddened cheeks gave him all the answer he needed.
He went back to clearing out his plate and for a few minutes, they stayed in a shared silence just enjoying the simplicity of the moment.
'Oh god, I'm full,' Kibum declared as he laid back on his chair.
'I'm just honoured that you finally acknowledge my food,' he bantered, which caused the other to scoff.
'You can't blame me for not wanting to eat it before. Remember the first time you tried to make supper?' the brunette sniggered.
'That's not fair. It was the first time I was doing the recipe,' he threw back.
'Jjong, it was only a Spaghetti Bolognese,' he reminded flatly.
'If you hadn't banned me from cooking afterwards, I would've gotten better a lot faster,' the older one retorted.
'It would've been a crime to let you waste food on your failed attempts,' the other added to his mocking strikes.
'Okay, that's it. I'm not making you pancakes nor espresso anymore,' he announced in retaliation.
'No, no, no, I'm sorry,' Kibum instantly said with laughter still shaking his shoulders. 'You know I don't mean it,' he trailed in a childish tone.
'Apologize then and recognize that I'm good at cooking... some things,' he added, knowing well enough he lacked talent.
'Alright, alright,' Kibum complied. 'I've got to admit that you're very good at making pancakes and you already know what I think about any coffee you make.'
Jonghyun was pleased. He had won this battle, which was a rare event when you were dealing with someone as stubborn as Kim Kibum.
'So what now?' he asked after he downed his cup.
He wasn't granted an answer right away. He watched as the other got up from his chair and made his way to him, only to settle right into his lap. 'How about we go upstairs?' Kibum suggested intently as their eyes locked.
Jonghyun couldn't help but gulp down a sudden nervousness. He hadn't been able yet to get himself back to the point where he could feel the same excitement he had so easily felt before for the younger one.
'Um... don't you think we should digest all that food?' he observed as he eluded his stare.
'Oh my god, Jjong... What the ?' Kibum expressed indignantly. 'The Kim Jonghyun I know is always up for ,' he then noted.
'I know, but things aren't the same,' he reminded as he caressed his cheek. 'We need to take things slow,' he uttered already knowing what kind of response he would get.
Kibum couldn't hide his annoyance. 'Are you kidding?'
Jonghyun just looked down again.
'It's been four days since we're here and we haven't ed. I think we've taken things slow enough.'
Jonghyun could feel the other's body tense up against his. He knew Kibum wouldn't let it go this time.
'I didn't want to upset you, I just...' Jonghyun had never been good at lying. He couldn't come up with a clever way to save himself.
'I get it, Jjong,' Kibum cut in. 'I know you feel guilty and want to make things right, but we don't have to act like a new couple. We just have to grow from what happened.'
Jonghyun just blinked. There was no way he could divert from it now.
He nodded before going in for a kiss. The warmth of the other's mouth made him feel a little more at ease. He didn't know why he was so scared. He had made his choice and he could either accept it fully or turn his back on everything and exit.
He made his way through the door, letting out a big exhale as he was finally in. He had tossed and turned so long that he knew that something had to be done. He couldn't stay in that state any longer. Despite shaky hands and his heart thumping hard against his chest, he still felt like he had taken the right decision as he climbed the stairs. His legs felt heavy by the time he reached the right floor, but he kept going. He was now facing the door, eyes glued on the number that he had now seen numerous times. A moment passed like that, his body remaining still, as if he was hoping the door would open magically on its own. But he knew that'd never happen. This was the night he was taking action. This was the night he was making him his. He finally knocked, his heart picking up where it left off simultaneously. He had waited for this for so long and he was praying nothing would get in the way of what he wanted. He wouldn't let that happen. He knocked again, the seconds passing making him jittery. A sigh of relief left his lips when he heard sound on the other side.
The knob turned and the door opened wide. Their eyes met.
'What are you doing here?' the other asked, with surprise lodged in his hazel eyes.
He just walked inside, not giving him a chance to turn him down before he could speak his mind. When his coat fell off, he instantly reached for the other's waist only to bring him into a tight embrace. As he felt the warmth of the smaller body against his own, his mind fell into a lust-glazed mode, mode that felt unstoppable as he took hold of his lips on a sudden impulse. He pushed him against a wall, the thumping sound it created spiking up his desire. His right hand slid under his shirt, pushing his nerves to a pulse that threw him into bliss. The feel of his soft skin under his rough hands was somewhat of a pleasure he wasn't sure his mind would ever be able to describe. His fingers circled a only to give it a sharp pinch, making the younger one buck his hips in response. The teasing didn't last long as his impatience brought him to take off his shirt to get even more of the delightful sensation. He let go of his bruised lips and made way with his own first to his neck and then lower, giving a little attention to his chest until he was on his knees and eagerly pushing down the other's pants.
'Wait...' the latter said with what he could feel was some fear.
He looked up to him, offering him no words. There was none needed. He knew his gaze said it all. He wasn't playing anymore.
When he finally met the hardened flesh that was between his thighs, he showed no reserve. His mouth took him fully, the burning against his tongue and down his throat only...
Jinki groaned as he hit the keyboard. 'I can't do this,' he thought, defeated.
For the last few days, he had forced himself again and again to sit down for a few hours and write, but it always ended with him being frustrated and giving up. The worst part was that he kept writing the same thing over and over again, never being able to get past that certain point. He couldn't use it as an outlet anymore when he wasn't even sure what he wanted to express. When it had been about his previous relationships, it had been far more easy to get out all the anger and pain and resentment, knowing that things were over and that it was the only way he could move on. But now, it was different. Despite having drawn the line on the possibility of giving in to what they both wanted, he still didn't feel like it was over. There was always this lingering feeling nagging at him that kept him hungry with hope. He didn't like ambiguity. He wanted to be sure in his mind that he had made the right choice. And that's mainly what had haunted him since he had last seen the other one. He couldn't convince himself that he had indeed made the right choice.
He got off his chair and walked to the kitchen. Whether it was morning or very late at night, like it was presently, the one thing that comforted him a little was coffee. The other was cigarettes. Well it had been years back, but unfortunately, he had found himself falling back into that bad habit as his struggle had become relentless. So as the machine started its brewing process, he took out his pack that was already half-empty, and lit one. As he drew in his first puff, all his muscles relaxed and as an exhale pushed out the smoke, he felt a little at ease but only for a few seconds. Trying to reach for a prolonged relief, he went through it quickly and took out another one. By the time he was pouring his coffee into a cup, he was almost done with his third. As he realized that, he shook his head in disbelief as a little laugh escaped his lips.
'I guess we all have our vices.' And then his mind went to the first time they had drunk rum together, another memory making it hard for him to let go. The more he thought about all their encounters, the more he felt like they had something special. He hadn't been comfortable like that around someone in a very long time. It had just happened so naturally... and now it was exploding in his face. He had always had bad luck in love, mostly because he had made poor choices, but now that this one probably had everything he wanted, he couldn't have him.
'Dammit, Kibum...' he cursed as his thoughts wandered into what if's again.
What if he took his chance? What if this was meant to be? All those stupid questions were tiring him out. Despite being in need of sleep for days now, he'd always find himself laying in bed with his eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling as his mind games went on.
A loud sigh escaped him. He didn't know if he would be able to get through it again tonight. He knew he couldn't go on like this. It was not right.
He put his cup down, ready to pick up his phone. As his hand was about to grasp it, it suddenly rung making him jump from surprise. With his heart pumping inside his ears, he brought it up only to put it back down. He sighed again, this time from utter annoyance. He had thought the message would've been clear by now. He couldn't let Taemin in anymore. He didn't feel right using him as a distraction and he didn't feel right doing this any longer to Jonghyun. Not like at this point it would matter, but he couldn't help feeling guilty.
He knew the brat would keep bugging him for a reason he hadn't been able to figure out yet, but if there was something he was sure about was that things were over between them, this time for good.
He resumed his previous deed, his fingers finding the number he obviously knew by heart. He waited, rocking his body back and forth from nervousness. Disappointment crashed over him as he was directed to the voicemail, but he had resolve. He dialled again, waiting and praying for him to answer. When he didn't again, he felt helpless. He didn't know if he'd be able to find it in himself to do it again at another time. He searched through his mind, which was made difficult by all the turmoil he was experiencing, but a sudden flash had his eyes widen.
He looked through his contacts and smiled as he realized he had kept that number. Once selected, he waited, going through the same anticipation as before.
'Hello?' a hoarse voice answered.
Jinki suddenly realized he had probably waken the other.
'Um... it's me... Jinki,' he revealed uncomfortably.
'What the hell...' Minho expressed in confusion.
'I'm sorry to bother you at this hour, I just...' He hadn't really thought about what he would say. And now he definitely felt awkward.
'Well I sure know that you didn't call to ask about me, so just spill it,' Minho sharply directed.
Jinki suddenly felt stupid. Nonetheless, he had to finish what he'd started. 'Have you seen Jjong lately?...'
A few seconds passed in which he was answered with silence. And then he heard the other clear his throat. 'Why are you asking that?' Minho inquired defensively.
'Um... I just... I just want to know how he's doing,' Jinki partly admitted.
'Is that it?' Minho threw back knowingly. 'Well it doesn't really matter, because I don't know,' he immediately added in. 'All I know is that he's trying to make things right with his boyfriend,' he finished intently.
'Oh...' Jinki could feel the pain growing.
'I don't know what you had in mind when you called me, but you made your choice the last time you saw him. Don't get him all confused again,' the younger one indicated earnestly.
'I...' He gave up on his defense. There was nothing he could say. Minho was right, he couldn't go back on what he had said. He had lost his chance.
'I know,' he finally said. And that was that. He turned off his phone and took out another cigarette.
Jonghyun sighed of relief as he stepped into the heat. The humid warmth felt very welcome to his tense body that slowly relaxed as he sat down. He was happy to finally be able to enjoy the pleasures of the steam room on his own. Not that it hadn't been fun with Kibum, but he had been in great need of alone time after this week spent together. It had not been easy to keep a comfortable front when his thoughts were still a bundled up a mess. He knew this would've never been easy, but he was frustrated at himself for letting things reach that point. His hands fell to his sides as he closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. He didn't feel like this trip had really been beneficial. It had started out great when they were just being around each other and talking, but when it had come to their intimacy, Jonghyun felt like he had failed the test. He hadn't been able to find that spark that riled him up whenever the other would get close to him or touch him. The only way he had been able to save the illusion was by letting his mind stray. Despite trying to fight it the first time to stay in the moment, he had finally surrendered to prevent any more trouble from coming between them. But that fact only was a major problem. If he couldn't be intimate with his partner without having thoughts for another, what could be really done to save them? With this fear crawling inside him, his hope was withering more and more. He had to figure it out. He just had to...
He sighed and reopened his eyes again only to be met with a volute of steam enclosing around him. A smile stretched his lips as he suddenly heard Kibum's whining in his mind.
'How much longer are we going to stay in here? I feel like I'm about to melt.'
'It wouldn't be that bad, dying in here I mean. Maybe we'd just evaporate and make one with the steam,' he had exposed with a teasing smile.
'Tsk, you say the dumbest things sometimes,' the other said before breaking into laughter.
That made him laugh again. And then he thought that it wouldn't be such a bad idea to stay in here forever. He felt so relaxed and somewhat at peace, like he wasn't even part of this world anymore. This what he'd needed. A refuge that for once wasn't going to be alcohol. This was much better for himself, but this would be the last time he'd get to enjoy it. He hoped that when they got back home, he could keep himself in check and not fall back into his bad patterns. He was tired of feeling so pathetic. It always brought him back to a time he'd rather forget. A time that now seemed so far away, so foreign in his mind. What would never cease to be clear though was how he had gotten out of it.
'Kibum, he pronounced into the dense air.
He closed his eyes again and fell into a chapter he hadn't encountered in a long time.
'Here's your usual, a sugar-free vanilla caffe latte sprinkled with cinnamon,' he laid out proudly.
He had been seeing this man walk in every morning for the last few weeks with the same order crossing his lips and a smile widening them as he received it. He had been confident to see him again that morning so around the time he usually came, he had prepared his order nicely, even making nice swirl patterns into the cream.
'You prepared it in advance?,' the brunette exclaimed loudly. 'That's kind of creepy,' he added with a chuckle as he saw the other's face redden with embarrassment.
'But I am flattered,' he finally reassured. 'Although... I think I'm going to try something new today,' he revealed with a playful smile.
'Aaah...' Jonghyun let out as disappointment crashed over him. He retrieved the drink he had prepared, but a soft hand on his stopped him. He looked up and met the beautiful feline eyes of the taller one.
'I was just kidding.' Kibum laughed as he took it back. He looked at it and smiled. 'You really went all out,' as he noticed the swirls.
Jonghyun blushed again. 'I just... you're a regular costumer so...' He stopped as he realized how stupid he sounded.
Kibum laughed before taking a first sip. He instantly hummed his contentment. 'God... that always tastes so damn good.' He then handed out the money. 'Thank you.'
He flashed a wide smile and then his heels before walking out the door.
Jonghyun's eyes widened as he unfolded the papers. A little card had been placed on top of it. He brought it up closer to his face. 'Kim Kibum,' he uttered softly. This pretty much looked like a business card which made sense because of the classy attires he always showed up in. He couldn't help the grin that stretched his features as he realized what that meant. His heart fluttered and it took him everything not to start jumping around like a little kid. No matter what would happen that day, he promised himself to hold on to that happiness he was feeling right now.
His eyes opened again slowly. He felt like he had just awaken from a dream. The heat was starting to make his head swoon, but he didn't want to get up. It felt weird to have that memory pop up just now but he knew it was only in such setting that it could've happened. He realized he had put away all those memories, even before he met Jinki, and had just started taking their relationship for granted when it was the most precious thing he had had in his life. He owed him so much, yet he hadn't been able to give him the same.
The door slowly opened which startled him. Kibum's head appeared in the frame. 'I should've known you'd be here,' he bantered.
Jonghyun secured his towel with a hand. 'I left breakfast on the counter-'
'I know,' the younger one cut in. 'I already ate. I just wanted to tell you that we should start packing our stuff,' he explained.
'Oh yeah, right, I'll be out in a few,' he replied with a voice that came out feeble.
'Okay...' Kibum gave him a lasting look, but didn't add anything, instead closing the door.
Jonghyun gave himself a little push to get to the edge of the seat. But the weakness that had pierced through his voice had apparently spread through his body and he fell down to his knees, wincing from the impact. Without announce, his shoulders started shaking and the tears fell. He was confused at the cause of his sudden outburst, but didn't fight it, letting his head rest against the floor until he felt himself calm down.
As he stepped out of the room, he felt drained. He knew a good sleep would settle him right, but it would have to wait. They had to get back to the real world again.
Jonghyun turned at the other exit. They had just hit the road and it felt good as the sun outside had manage to lighten up his mood.
'Oh god... so many messages...' Kibum whined as he scrolled through them. 'I knew I was taking a risk leaving for a week, but dammit these people need to learn how to do things for themselves,' he vented.
Jonghyun laughed. 'You should be flattered. It shows that you're indispensable,' he pointed out.
'Well yeah, but...' He huffed, which only made the other laugh again.
'Why don't you put that down for now and take a nap before we arrive?' Jonghyun suggested attentively.
Kibum sighed before complying. 'You're right, I should get as much rest as I can before I fall back into all that craziness.' He buried his phone into his bag and let his head fall against the window.
It wasn't long before Jonghyun could hear the soft even breaths he made when he slept. He smiled to himself as he took in the endearing sight. This is what he wanted, to find happiness in the simple things.
He drove and drove, until an hour became two. He didn't mind it though, driving always had that soothing effect on him and now was no exception. He was just remembering that amongst the other things this trip had helped him reconnect with. Somehow along the way, he had lost part of himself and he was glad to have found it again. He was suddenly feeling more optimistic about things.
He changed lane to engage on the highway, but was displeased to see that there was heavy traffic. He silently cursed before letting himself relax against his seat. His focus now being able to shift elsewhere brought back in mind the existence of his best friend. He had promised to call him when they got back, and now was a great time to do so. He took out his own phone, glad to finally have reception. He noticed he had two missed calls and figured Minho must've have tried to contact him earlier, but when he clicked on the message box, his mind blanked for a few seconds. When he got back to himself, his heart rate instantly picked up and his hands turned sweaty. He let his phone drop between his thighs as he fixed right in front of him.
A million thoughts were running through his mind, but in the end one thing resonated louder.
He had to see him.