Shaky ground.

The Selfishness of Our Hearts.

His boots crunched through the snow as he walked deeper into the night. The sky was dark as ink, making the remaining spots of clouds look almost surreal. He'd look up every few steps to take in its beauty as it was the only distraction left around. No one else was in the streets at this hour. He was all alone, and for the first time in a few weeks, he didn't mind. It was almost relieving to be in touch with himself again, without trying to forget. He had awakened just in time to realize the path he had taken wasn't one he could go on any further. He couldn't keep avoiding his thoughts nor his feelings in the hopes that they would eventually go away. Nonetheless, accepting them was terrifying. It didn't help him figure out what to do. He searched through his pocket and found the packet of cigarettes he had surprisingly left alone for the while he had been walking. He took one out, but something made him stop from bringing it to his lips. He wasn't just aware of having been a coward, he was now also aware of how much damage he had caused himself. He was mentally and physically drained despite having made no real effort these past few weeks. Just existing had been exhausting. He threw the cigarette he was holding in the snow, turning it into mush with his heel. This wouldn't fix anything. What he was craving right now was something he hadn't had for a long time; some sleep. He finally felt like it would be possible, like he had finally reached the point to where his mind and body had won against him and wouldn't let him resist anymore. Or maybe he was the one who had surrendered. In any case, he felt relieved just by the thought of waking up the next day feeling just a little better.

He instinctively turned at the next corner, recognizing some of the bars Gi had shown him earlier. His joyful face came back to him. He couldn't help but smile at the image and feel extremely sad too. He had turned his back on yet another person. Although, this time he had no doubt it was for the best. He hadn't been able to fool himself that much. Chocolate eyes had turned hazel and soon he hadn't been looking at the same face anymore. His lips had met much plumper lips and the chest he had just began touching became much more defined than the soft one he had just seen. He hadn't needed more to know that it was over. The exhilarating feeling of trespassing his own boundaries had evaporated and given place to sheer disgust. Not for the other one, but for himself. He had moved too fast. He had made a mistake. He knew it now. The letter, the abrupt departure; adding craven to his traits was never something he thought would've happened, but it was inevitably true now. It didn't matter that he tried to remind himself that at the time it had felt like the best thing to do; his mind kept counterattacking, disqualifying his excuses. He felt his chest squeeze as his lips were met with the taste of salt. He closed his eyes, feeling more of his tears roll down his cheeks. He suddenly felt so awful, so sorry... He saw Jonghyun's desperate face, an image he had been blessed to glance upon a few times, but which made the hurt that much worse as he thought he was probably the cause of it now. And then the pain became anger and suddenly his legs were moving faster as his body rose from its apathy. Without realizing it, his steps picked up speed until he was running as fast as he could, not minding his surroundings. He kept at it for what felt like the longest time, until his body couldn't keep up anymore. His knees dug holes into the snow adorning the sidewalk as his head almost reached the ground. His chest heaved, loud pants leaving his lips. His heart was beating like crazy as the blood flowed through his nerves, heightening his every sensation. He could suddenly feel the cold bite at his skin whilst a painful warmth burned his lungs. It felt like forever before his whole system evened out, but when he got up, he felt lighter. He also realized there wasn't much distance left before he'd reach his place. He worked against his tiredness, almost dragging his feet up the stairs as he passed the front door a few minutes later.

He sighed as he let himself drop on the couch nearby. He instantly regretted it; he wasn't sure he'd be able to move again. His head rolled to a side and his eyes caught a box he still hadn't touched. His eyes stayed on it for a while. He wasn't sure why, but he felt like it needed to be opened. With the outmost effort, he pushed himself to the other end of the couch and bent to pick it up. He didn't let himself get discouraged by the duct tape he had used to seal it. He started scratching at it with his nails and realizing how ineffective that was he glanced around to see if anything sharp was laying around. When he saw that there wasn't, he pushed himself up not missing the opportunity to let out a groan, and walked up to his desk. There he found scissors and then it was a matter of seconds before he was peering into the box. His heart skipped as the first thing it contained came into his sight. His hand reached into it and he took out his phone. He had at least managed to forget about it. He had wanted to throw it away as soon as he had left town, but he hadn't been able to. Instead, he'd just turned it off and put it away. And now it was available for him to use again. He shivered. He was afraid to open it and fall on things he wasn't ready to deal with. The curiosity was although too overwhelming to stop him. He clicked on the button on its side and waited. The notifications flashed in the center of the screen. So many voicemails that had found no ear all that time... He found the courage to go on. What he got was not what he'd expected, even though that's exactly what he should've expected. He listened to every message his brother had left for him, leaving him in the end with unbearable sorrow. He felt relieved to hear another voice, although not the one he had hoped for. Taemin's worry soothed him just a little. He knew he had been unfair to him too. He pushed the phone back down, selecting his number. He relaxed as it rung.

'Hello?' a sleepy voice answered.

'Tae?' he verified, suddenly feeling a little nervous.

'Oh my god... Jinki? Is that you?' he expressed with disbelief.

Jinki smiled. 'Yes, Tae. It's me,' he replied warmly.

'Where are you?' he exclaimed as he regained full consciousness.

'It doesn't matter where I am,' Jinki dismissed rapidly. 'I just wanted to hear your voice.'

'Are you okay?' Taemin checked urgently.

'Yes, I'm fine,' Jinki reassured with a laugh.

'Are you sure? I mean, it's like 3 in the morning,' Taemin pointed out.

'Oh yeah...' Jinki looked down. 'I'm sorry. I didn't really think before calling you...'

Taemin sniggered. 'Are you drinking?' he teased.

'No, I'm not. I'm just... I was just thinking.'

'Can you come over?' the younger one asked.

'No, I can't... I'm not in town,' he revealed. 'And even if I was, I wouldn't... I...' He stopped. He didn't want to sound harsh.

'I wasn't asking you to come here so we could , Jinki. You just sound... I don't know, I just know when something's not right with you,' Taemin explained.

Jinki pondered on his words. Indeed, nothing was right with him. 'I almost slept with someone I barely knew tonight,' he confessed as the images came back to him.

'What?' the younger one shout.

The corner of his lips rose lightly. 'But I couldn't do it...'

Taemin sighed. 'Of course you couldn't...'

'What do you mean?' Jinki inquired as his brows furrowed.

'Do I really have to answer?' Taemin scoffed. 'Jinki... we both know why you couldn't do it.'

The older one bit down on his lip. 'I'm not sure I know...' he feigned.

'So you're just going to pretend that Jonghyun isn't on your mind 24/7?' Taemin shot at him instantly.

Jinki winced. That's what he'd been looking for; a smack in the face.

'Did you really think leaving was going to solve everything?' he continued. 'I know you, Jinki. You just love so intensely. Like, you wouldn't let me go for the longest time, and I was an ...' he reminded earnestly.

'So why did you let him go?' he then asked.

Jinki felt a pang seize his heart. 'It's not the same thing. I could let myself hold on to you, because we were together. You were my boyfriend, not someone else's...'

'Did it matter in the end?' he observed. 'Think about it. You kept giving me chances because you had hope it would set things right. But it never did. As much as I regret saying this, we weren't meant to be. I couldn't give you the kind of love you needed from me...' He paused. 'The same happened to them. People fall out of love, Jinki. Once that process starts, there's no saving it. Don't put all the blame on yourself.'

'But it's my fault. I ruined their relationship,' he countered sharply. His chest squeezed like before, making it hard for him to breathe. 'I remember looking at them and thinking that they looked so happy together...' His vision blurred; he was silenced by his hurt.

'Jinki...' Taemin called out softly. 'They'll be happy again. Kibum will be happy again,' he emphasized.

A sudden chuckle shook his shoulders. 'It's so weird...' he breathed.

'What is?'

'You being so grounded,' he answered honestly.

Taemin snickered, but his voice came out grave. 'I know how much pain I've caused you in the past and I'm truly sorry about that. I wanted you back into my life because no one has ever treated me the way you have. You're so loving and good.... and... and I thought I could bring you the happiness you deserve, but I realize that I can't. Right now, Jonghyun's the only one that can do that for you,' he laid out.

Jinki wiped the moistness around his eyes. 'It's too late for that... He probably hates me.'

'He's bitter, but not indifferent. It would only be over if he was,' Taemin noted.

Jinki frowned. 'How can you know that?'

'I talked to him not long ago to check up on you,' the younger one admitted.

Jinki felt his heart pound. 'Oh, is he... how...' He didn't know what to ask.

'He needs you,' Taemin affirmed. 'He didn't flat out say it, but I could hear it in his voice.'

The older one closed his eyes. He needed him too.

'You need to go see him.'

Jinki knew that wasn't a suggestion.

'Goodnight, Jinki,' the younger one suddenly said.

And then he was back to himself again, unable to escape.


Jonghyun's steps traced a way through the snow as the sun beamed over his head. Every breath he let out formed swirls in the air as its crispness froze them over. He dragged his feet for the last few miles, a silent sigh crossing his lips as he stepped in the warmth of the coffee shop. He had come bright and early to open, which he was always glad to do. Being alone before the exterior world invaded his surroundings made things a little more bearable. He turned every light on, before walking in to change himself. When his full attire was on, he walked back to the front and cleaned up some of the dust that had found its way on the counter. He looked up at the clock. He had a few more minutes. Awakening every machine as he moved along, he then allowed himself the luxury to look at his phone. Nothing new. He closed his eyes to soothe himself from the disappointment that never failed to engulf him at those times. After almost two months, he still couldn't let go. More so that worry was still mixed to his trail of thoughts. He just wanted to know where he was, but as much as he wanted to know, he couldn't bring himself to call him. He felt like he would lose if he took the first step. He didn't want him to know that he still hadn't moved on.

The front door opened, revealing one of his colleagues. The young boy with bleached hair walked up to him with a smile. 'Hey,' he quickly greeted before running to the back.

'Hey,' he barely had time to answer, the corner of his lips descending as soon as he disappeared. His moment of peace was now over. He forced another smile as other employees walked in one after the other. And then the clients started coming in and by lunch time, he couldn't feel his cheeks anymore.

'What will you take?' he asked for the millionth time.

'I'll take a vanilla latte with some cinnamon on top,' the young man uttered swiftly.

Jonghyun blinked as Kibum's voice echoed similar words in his mind. He who barely looked at the people that walked in, let his gaze roam over that person's face. He looked like a kid; his face was round, his expression naive and his glasses sat at the tip of his nose. He was no Kibum.

'Sugar-free?' he asked nonetheless.

The other's eyebrow cocked. 'Um... no, put two sugars in it please,' he specified as he pushed his glasses back up.

Jonghyun felt a sudden wave of sadness unravel inside him. He wished all the hurt he had caused him could be erased so that he could see him. Kibum had been more than just a lover to him, he had been a life saver, and he missed that strength the other had so easily been able to provide him. The only strength he had now was his own and that wasn't much of a reliable source. He poured the beverage into a paper cup and turned around to give it to its owner. Feeling his legs weaken, he held on to the edge of the counter just in time to not spill the drink all over the register. His eyes widened in shock at his sudden unbalance, but he lost no time to regain his composure. He took in the money the other handed him and concluded the transaction, before someone else stepped right before him. Repeating to himself the newly received order, he walked over to where the croissants were displayed and took one out. As he straightened up again, everything started moving a little too fast, making it hard for his vision to grasp them. Even so, he kept moving, making his way back to his spot. His hand shook as he handed the girl her croissant and then his whole body trembled when he went for the coffee. And then, it all turned black. He felt the impact of the floor, without really feeling it, abandoning himself to his system's lapse. Arms suddenly wrapped around his waist and he could now feel his back press against a solid surface. Voices tried to reach him, but they all got lost to his unresponsive state. But he was still there; in his mind, in his body, but simultaneously cut from the world. He felt relieved to finally get a break, thing he would've never consciously allowed himself to take, but that his body had inevitably claimed for him. Unfortunately, that break was short-lived as he opened his eyes again. He saw a few familiar faces peering at him and felt repulsed. Not at them, but at himself. He didn't feel relief anymore; he wasn't alone in a safe place anymore. He tried to get up, but his muscles wouldn't let him. Indeed, his strength was definitely not a reliable source. He cursed under his breath, wishing he could subtract himself from the stares that kept lingering.

'Jjong, don't move,' one voice filled with panic said. He couldn't even figure out who it was. All he knew was that he had to keep going. If he let himself go, it was officially over for him. He tried to move despite the other's advice. A groan of frustration left his mouth as he realized he couldn't do it. He tensed up as a hand squeezed his shoulder.

'Do you have your phone on you?' another voice asked.

He nodded, which felt surprisingly hard to do. He didn't understand. He had been holding up so well... He suddenly wanted to laugh, but didn't have the energy to. It had been nice to be able to play the game while he could, but he had obviously lost the match. He reached into his pocket and let the device slide on the ceramic floor. Ever since Taemin had called him, he didn't leave it in the back room anymore. He kept it close at all times, just in case. Just to be safe.

It disappeared into a large hand. 'I'll call someone to come pick you up,' the other informed. 'Who do you want me to call?' he then inquired.

His head lolled to the side as his eyes set on another spot on the floor. An instant answer formed in his mind, but even now that his consciousness was playing hide and seek, he knew it was out of question. His only option was to step on his pride and welcome back the only constant that had graced his life.

'Minho,' he breathed softly, before he closed his eyes again. The last thing he felt was his body being lifted before the cold slapped him in the face again. A hand took hold of his and his eyes met darker ones. It was just a fleeting moment before he couldn't bear to hold his gaze anymore. He didn't know how, but he started walking faster, his feet picking up their pace more and more until he was running, not minding his surroundings. He didn't care where he would end, he'd just keep at it until he couldn't anymore. Which didn't take time; his lungs burned as his chest heaved to let in as much air as it could receive. His pants came out loud as he felt his eyes water. He couldn't deal with it anymore. He looked back and as expected, the younger one was there. His eyes were wide with worry and confusion, but he didn't translate those with words. Instead, his arms circled his smaller frame. He welcomed the warmth of his embrace as he buried his face into his coat. He felt beyond pathetic and that feeling just made him cry harder. People moved around them, but the taller one never let go of him. They just stayed like that for what felt like the longest time, before he felt it was okay to pull back. He met his eyes again, but this time he didn't shy away. If there was one person who could see him like this, it was surely Minho.

Between the car ride and the moment he found himself looking up to his ceiling, he couldn't figure out what had happened. Probably nothing. Probably just more tears. He rolled to his side, wrapping himself even more in his covers. He felt a little better now that he had gotten some real rest. Which he was surprised he had been able to get. It had been so long since he had last shut his eyes and not been submerged with haunting thoughts and unsettling feelings. Although now that he was awake, they didn't wait to make it back to him. He closed his eyes again to clearly see his face. He wasn't going to fight it; he needed it. But what he needed more was his warmth, his love... if there had ever been any. He had held on to the fact that there had been, but as more days went by, the more the doubts became relentless. Maybe it had all been in his head. Maybe the looks he had given him, the caresses he had claimed him with, the  words he had told him... Maybe that all meant nothing. Otherwise, he couldn't accept it. If he too had those feelings for him, he had to take responsibility.

'You have to come back...' he painfully thought. His hand instinctively reached to his right, not realizing his phone wouldn't be at its usually place. He sighed as he felt the empty spot on his nightstand. He needed to find it. He winced as he started moving, his muscles aching at the sudden effort. Nonetheless, he pushed through the stiffness until his legs were dangling over the edge. With a last impulse, he got himself up and started walking. He froze as he stepped into the living room. A pleasant but overwhelming scent filled his nostrils. He lost no time to find its source, his eyes taking in the lit candles that were set on the table at the other end of the room. Room that was unusually dark except from the light created by them. His gaze stayed fixed on them as if he had been put in a trance. It was a weird feeling he was experiencing; he felt like he had just been taken a few years back. The blinds were completely pulled down under a black drape hovering over the windows. Even though those were his, he was only remembering their purpose now. Never had he lit scented candles nor engulfed himself in such darkness in a very long time.

'Brings you back, huh?' Minho suddenly noted, making the other jump at the sound of his voice.

Jonghyun took in his warm smile as his gaze shifted to him. 'You used to hate how dark I used to keep my room,' he remembered with an unconscious smile of his own. He moved closer before sitting down as swiftly as he could, letting his back rest against the couch. He was now merely comfortably set in front of the other one. 

'I got used to it in time,' Minho laughed off. 'I just always felt like I was in a Buddhist temple whenever I stepped in there,' he kept on.

'That's probably what I was going for,' he joked in turn. 'It really did help me... I mean I could really relax and not think for a while,' he then earnestly observed.

'I know,' Minho acknowledged. 'That's why I accepted the fact that my clothes smelled like vanilla and strawberries most of the time,' he teased with yet another wide smile.

Jonghyun chuckled at that. 'I never had that luxury when I was at my parents' house. I had always kept plenty of candles in my room and lit them when I got back from school, but at some point, my father threw them away saying that it made me smell too much like a girl,' he reminisced with a trace of bitterness still latched to that memory. 'I never dared to buy more after that.'

'That's why it was so great to live together. We could do whatever we wanted,' Minho brought back. 'I really think it was the best years of my life,' he went on, tone suddenly heavy with emotion.

Jonghyun nodded. Those years had been amazing. For the first time, they had had control on their lives. It was far from being true for him now.

'Jjong...' Minho started gravely.

The older one knew what that meant. He wrapped his arms around himself.

'I'm sorry,' the other said which caused his eyes to widen.

He had expected everything but that. 'What?' he let out, confused.

'I'm sorry,' Minho repeated strongly. 'I should've listened to my instincts. I should've come see you sooner...' He stopped as he looked down.

'Minho please... Don't do this to yourself. It's not like I made it easy for you to want to stay around me,' Jonghyun pointed out.

'That wasn't the reason,' Minho objected as he gave him a sharp look. 'I would've never gotten tired of you... On the contrary, I wanted to be there for you, but I thought that you needed some space, that I should leave you alone for a while so that you could sort things out...'

'But that was so wrong of me,' he instantly pursued. 'I got the scare of my life when they called earlier, for a moment I thought, I...' He looked away.

'You thought what?' Jonghyun pressed.

A few seconds passed without a sound being made.

'Look, I just fainted... I guess I overworked myself and that was my body's way to make me realize it,' he reasoned nonchalantly.

'I've seen you work unimaginable shifts and you still managed to function,' Minho countered. 'You were always incredibly strong because you kept it together up there,' he finished as he pointed his temple.

'Well I can't anymore,' Jonghyun admitted. 'I'm just so tired...' He buried his face into his hands, the confession triggering his always lingering burst of emotion.

He heard movement and soon, he was surrounded by warmth again. He let himself be held for the second time that day.

'Jjong...' Minho uttered softly. 'You can't give up on yourself. Especially not because of another man.'

The older one stirred against him. 'I know that. Every day I just wish I could forget and move on, but I can't...' He swallowed down a lump that had formed in his throat. 'I just want him to come back...'

'And what if he doesn't?' Minho threw back. 'You can't put your life on standby in the hopes that his return will make it all better.'

'I'm not... I'm trying, I'm...' He bit at the other's shirt as his shoulders shook. He was truly pathetic.

Minho held him tighter. 'He left you, Jjong...' he reminded. 'Even if he did come back, I don't think it would be a good thing to let him in your life again.'

Jonghyun looked up at him. 'But I can't help but want that,' he shared. 'I think all along it's been that fantasy that's kept me going,' he realized. 'As much as I want to hate him, I just...'

'You love him, I know,' Minho completed. 'But nurturing that hope will drive you crazy, Jjong.'

Jonghyun wiped his face with the back of his hand. 'But that's the only way I can really get through this. I've never shied away from my emotions. If I don't go to the full extent of what I'm feeling-'

'And what if that brings you too far?' Minho cut in.

Jonghyun locked eyes with him, bringing a hand up to caress his cheek. 'You'll bring me back.'


Jinki didn't know what to do anymore. He kept going over and over the same few paragraphs he had added and the more he did, the more they didn't make sense. The worst part of not connecting with his writing was that he knew what he wanted to convey. Every part of the story had already happened but they didn't seem to want to be let out. He was trapped with unidentifiable words, overwhelmed with crippling feelings. In his desperation, he had even called Taemin a few times earlier, but the latter hadn't answered any of his calls. It probably was for the best. He couldn't guarantee he'd have remained rational in any sense. Then, of course, he had thought of calling a certain someone, but even in his messed up state of mind, he knew it was out of the question. He couldn't do it, not now at least. He sighed again as he pulled down his laptop's lid. The sudden urge to get out grasped him, but he didn't move. There was nowhere he could go. The magic of just walking around and falling on a cozy café didn't appeal to him anymore. He had done that and it had not helped him in the end. Nor would smoking in that moment. His hand had just pulled one out and he had found himself laughing at his ridiculousness. And then the laughter turned into a grave silence in which he wondered why none of his coping mechanisms worked anymore. This was the first time this was happening to him. He could've always counted on one of those, especially his words, to get him through. But that wasn't the actual core of it he instantly realized. His brother had been the shelter that had given him the space to let it all out, without completely losing himself. Now that his shelter was gone, he was left with naught. And with that fact repeating in his mind, every second passing by felt excruciatingly real as if time had slowed down to further his torture.

He sprung out of his chair before his mind could tear him down even more. If he couldn't get his mind right to write, he'd get his body right to where he should've gone a long time ago. He pushed his chair away and walked over to the sofa where he had lain most of his clothes, not having taken time to get everything in their right place. He still hadn't gotten accustomed to his new place, which fortunately, wasn't totally unfamiliar. In fact, he had been lucky to have come back to his old building and to have found another apartment there. He was sad to have lost his previous home, but at least, this place looked quite similar. Except, he hadn't made it his own yet. He still felt like he was on shaky ground and that at any time, he'd have to disappear again. He tried not to give into his fear, but the feeling was poignant and so was his apprehension as he stepped out for the first time in a few days. He knew exactly where he was going this time, but had no idea of what he'd find there. Maybe it would be a relieving experience or maybe it would be lethal. The dramatics never failed to tinge his thoughts and now was no exception. He took the wheel with trembling hands and practically forced himself to start driving. He'd be crossing off coward from his list today. Well partly. He some music to calm his nerves, but that didn't do much. His heart was beating like crazy by the time he stopped in front of his house. The car he had visualized was still there. He was scarcely relieved to know that he wouldn't be facing a ghost.

Stepping out in the cold air, he shut the door close behind him before walking up to the entrance. As his feet stopped on the welcome mat, he took a deep breath. It took him a few seconds before he found it in himself to press the doorbell. He waited. The seconds turned into worrisome minutes in which he rocked his body back and forth to ease up. After another few passed, he was ready to abandon. With some reluctance, he started taking a few steps back, his eyes never leaving the door. If he was in, that meant that he had been shut off completely. He'd never find his way back in. It was too late. An overwhelming sorrow seized him as he finally looked away and went down the stairs. But the creaky sound of a door opening had him stop dead in his tracks. He was too scared to look back again, but he could see him in his mind.

'What are you doing here?' the other yelled, tone filled with scorn.

He gulped down his nervousness. His body slowly turned towards him, finally allowing himself to get him in full view. As expected, he had on yet another impeccable attire, the only signs of distraught somewhat showing on his face. Jinki could see he had lost some weight from the gauntness of his cheeks and that he had assuredly lost many nights of sleep, from the dark circles even makeup couldn't hide.

'I came to see you,' he replied frankly.

Kibum snorted. 'Okay, let me try that again. Why are you here?' he reiterated sharply.

Jinki rubbed the back of his neck. 'I thought that...' He hadn't prepared himself for any conversation, really. What could he say now that wouldn't be dismissed with total anger? '... we could talk...,' he finished with his heart in his throat.

The younger one reacted instantly with a shrill laugh, which caused the other to shiver. 'Talk?' he echoed derisively. 'I doubt there's anything we can talk about.'

His stare dug into him like a knife. There was nothing he could say.

'What made you think that you had the right to come back here?' Kibum snapped.

Jinki looked down to his feet, feeling like this would be the best time to be pulled down under ground. 'Nothing, I just... I wasn't expecting anything I guess.... It just felt like I should come see you,' he managed to utter.

'Well don't ever get that idea again,' Kibum retorted.

Jinki felt his chest squeeze, restricting his respiration in the process. The surroundings were getting blurry, but his body didn't give out. He had to keep it together. 'Kibum...,' he started softly. 'I know what I did is unforgiveable, trust me I'll never forgive myself for it, but-'

'Don't ask me to forgive you,' Kibum interjected brusquely. 'Have you even listened to my messages?' he then inquired with the same irritation in his voice.

'Yes, I have... A few days ago,' he revealed, defeated.

'Of course, I should've known. Too busy ing my ex to listen to them before, right?' he accused, tone rising with more anger.

Jinki looked around, but no one was in the streets. 'That's not it, Kibum. I haven't seen him in two months,' he admitted defensively.

He could see that had unsettled the other. His eyes had widened and his body had stilled, but that didn't last long. 'What have you been doing then?' the younger one couldn't stop from asking.

'I was just out of town. I couldn't stay here,' he briefly explained.

'Wow, that's a first,' Kibum scoffed. 'You never gave up that easily on someone before.'

Jinki cringed. Taemin's voice came back to him with similar words. 'Well they were never with someone else... especially not with my brother,' he added with shame.

'It's so funny how life goes sometimes... Who would've thought that you'd ruin my life someday?' Kibum piqued with full sarcasm.

Jinki's fingers curled into fists as his body tensed up. He had to keep it together. 'That was never my intention, Bummie...'

'Don't call me that,' Kibum instantly turned down. 'And that really doesn't matter. In the end, you took him away from me,' he rasped.

A sigh left the older one's lips as his shoulders fell. 'You're right.'

'I know what I've done and that's why I can't see him,' he found himself saying out loud.

Kibum snorted. 'That's only for now. You'll go find him sooner or later.'

Jinki looked him straight in the eye, but remained silent.

'I'm leaving, Jinki,' the other suddenly announced. His voice had turned softer, almost sad.

Jinki frowned. 'What?'

'I'm moving to London in a few days. I got an opportunity there and since nothing's keeping me here, I accepted,' he laid out.

Jinki felt a sharp pang in his stomach. He could already feel like a part of him was missing. 'Oh...' he let out through a suddenly sore throat.

'The house's been bought not long ago... Soon, I'll be really gone,' Kibum emphasized.

'I...' He felt his eyes sting. 'Kibum, I...' The words failed him. That just made him feel more miserable. The tears rolled down his cheeks as he closed his eyes. He stayed like that for a while, too afraid to open them again. Too afraid he'd already be gone.

'Maybe when I come back... well if I do... Maybe then we can talk.'

Jinki instantly looked at him. All trace of anger had left his face. He could finally see his brother.

He knew words would just ruin it at this point, so instead, he nodded. The walk back to his car didn't feel real, neither did the drive back to his place. Nothing felt real, except for the certain calm that spread within him and followed through the next morning. He had taken a step in the right direction, now he had to take another.


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