Jonghyun looked at his phone again, disappointment crushing down on him as he saw he had no missed calls.
‘I can’t believe you went,’ Minho suddenly uttered in a frustrated tone.
The older one sighed. ‘What did you expect? Did you really think I would ignore her message?’
‘Of course that’s what I would’ve expected,’ he fumed. ‘After all they’ve done to you, why would you even go?’
‘I thought that-’
‘You thought they could change?’ the younger one cut in. ‘Well people don’t change, Jjong.’ He crossed his arms as a frown crept up his face.
‘They’re still my parents, Minho,’ Jonghyun reasoned.
‘Yeah, ty parents,’ the brunette scoffed.
Jonghyun couldn’t help but glare at him. ‘Can’t you put yourself in my place for just one second and understand why the sound of my mother’s voice that, by the way, I haven’t heard in almost eight years could’ve made me falter? Is that too hard to ing understand?’ he snarled.
Minho blinked a few times, sign that he was at a loss of words.
‘I... I get it, Jjong,’ he finally said. ‘I just wish you hadn’t made yourself go through that. I’ve seen you lose it before and I don’t want it to happen again,’ he continued with a voice laced with concern.
‘I’ve had a rough patch, but I’m feeling a little better now,’ the older one explained as his eyes stopped on his phone’s screen once again.
‘That’s good but.... why didn’t you call me as soon as you heard that message?’
‘Because I knew that would be your reaction. You would’ve told me not to go.’
‘And how is that bad advice?’
‘It’s not. It’s just that... I needed someone to listen and help me sort out things.’
‘I’m surprised Kibum was such a good listener,’ Minho sneered.
‘He wasn’t the one who helped me...’ Jonghyun admitted with sudden embarrassment.
‘Who did then?’
‘Wow, that Jinki guy seems to be a big part of your life now,’ Minho observed with a tone that betrayed some annoyance.
‘He isn’t. We don’t even know each other that much,’ Jonghyun rectified.
‘It always starts like that, Jjong,’ the younger one pointed out.
Confusion splattered the older one’s face as a sounded ‘What?’ left his lips.
‘Never mind,’ Minho retorted. He got up swiftly before saying, ‘I’m tired of staying here. We should go out.’
‘I’m starting to get hungry. Why not go to a restaurant?’
‘Perfect. Any ideas where we could go?’ Minho asked with a pang of excitement.
‘Yeah. I have a restaurant in mind...’
The place was packed as usual, but there were still a few vacant seats. They both sat down in a booth, taking in the wonderful aroma of the other tables’ food.
‘Well that’s a nice place,’ Minho voiced as he looked around.
‘Yeah, I’ve only been here once, but I really liked it,’ Jonghyun said as he took a menu.
Minho did the same and they both fell silent as their eyes travelled down the pages.
That concentration was suddenly lost as a familiar voice caught Jonghyun’s ear. He lifted his head up only to be met with an unexpected sight. His eyes widened as a smile cracked the blonde’s lips.
‘I knew it was you,’ Jinki said with a little laugh.
Jonghyun just stared at him, completely disoriented.
‘Um, Jjong... care to introduce us?’ Minho reminded.
That took him out a little of his dazed state. ‘Yeah... Jinki this is Minho and Minho this is Jinki.’
‘Oh so you’re Jinki... I’ve heard so much about you,’ Minho said with self-satisfied smile.
Jonghyun felt his cheeks heat up, both of anger and embarrassment. He turned back to the blonde, but then his eyes caught someone else. Jinki wasn’t alone.
‘And who is this?’ he asked, looking at the beautiful young man to his right.
‘I’m Taemin,’ the brunette said with a bright smile.
Jonghyun looked him up and down, disturbed by his presence.
‘Why don’t you guys join us?’ Minho suddenly suggested.
‘Oh I don’t know if-‘
‘Gladly,’ Taemin settled, cutting whatever Jinki had been about to say. He took place beside Minho and the older one had no more choice but to sit down too.
Jonghyun gave Minho a quick glare, before going back to his menu. He was already feeling uncomfortable.
Realizing the other two didn’t have one, Minho called up the waiter and made him bring two others, which he did, putting them all soon into a collective silence as they figured out what they were going to eat.
Having already made his choice for a while now, Jonghyun allowed himself to steal glances to his left, noticing how Jinki furrowed his brows as he concentrated on the list.
A few more minutes went by before they all made their choice. Soon after, the waiter took their orders and left.
‘So Jinki, where do you two know each other from?’ Taemin suddenly asked as his eyes set on Jonghyun’s face.
‘He’s Kibum’s boyfriend,’ Jinki simply replied.
A shrill laugh left the other one’s lips. ‘Really?’ Taemin exclaimed. ‘I never understood how someone could endure that guy,’ he then added as he started playing with his fork.
‘Don’t start,’ Jinki intoned sharply.
‘I have to agree with- Ow,’ Minho suddenly yelled as a sharp pain ran through his leg. He gave his best friend a deadly stare as he rubbed it.
‘How do you two know each other?’ Jonghyun asked back as to divert the attention from the other one’s pained expression.
‘We used to be together,’ Taemin immediately answered with another bright smile.
Jonghyun felt a sudden weight on his chest. ‘Oh,’ was the only reply he could render.
‘It was a long time ago,’ Jinki specified as his eyes stopped on him.
But Jonghyun didn’t look back. He looked down to the table instead, trying to keep his composure. That unpleasant sensation that was taking hold of his body left him confused. Why was he feeling this way?
Fortunately, the plates finally arrived, putting everyone’s attention on their food. He dug in avidly, suddenly remembering how hungry he was. He could feel Minho’s intent gaze on him, but didn’t look up.
Silence trailed until their plates were clear from food. Unable to bear with the awkwardness of it all, Jonghyun waited for the waiter to come back and then asked for a beer. Alcohol always made things a little more endurable.
‘Are you sure you should’ve ordered that?’ Jinki asked after the man walked away.
‘Why not?’ Jonghyun retorted.
‘You know why.’
‘One beer isn’t going to hurt me,’ he muttered.
‘I’m just looking out for you,’ the blonde said as he tried to ignore the other two’s confused expressions.
‘Like you care... I haven’t heard from you this whole week,’ Jonghyun scoffed.
‘Jjong... what’s going on?’ Minho inquired.
‘Yeah, what’s going on?’ Taemin echoed with amusement.
‘Stay out of it, Tae,’ Jinki advised.
‘You know what? I think I’m going to follow your advice and not take that beer,’ Jonghyun said as he got up. ‘I’m leaving.’
‘Jonghyun, wait.’ Jinki grabbed his arm. ‘I’m sorry,’ he expressed with a look of guilt.
But the younger one wasn’t in the mood to be reasonable and made him move out of his way so he could step out of the booth. Minho followed behind as he made his way to the front.
After having paid for their meals, they stepped out into the cool afternoon air.
‘What was that about?’ Minho wasted no time to ask.
Jonghyun didn’t even bother to look his way. ‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean what’s going on between you two?’ Minho reiterated.
‘Nothing’s going on. Drop it.’
‘No, Jjong. This was the most tense dinner I’ve ever had to go through. So tell me what’s going on,’ Minho ordered, anger visible on his face.
‘Nothing,’ Jonghyun repeated firmly.
‘Jjong... talk to me,’ the younger one pleaded.
‘I just overreacted, okay? That’s all. Now can we just go back to your house and forget about all this?’
Jonghyun didn’t wait for an answer. He just started walking, fighting hard with himself not to cry.
‘Jjong, don’t you think you should stop now?’
‘I... I’m not done yet,’ he breathed.
‘You only exercise that long when something’s upsetting you,’ Key pointed out.
‘Well... everything’s fine,’ he replied shakily as he put down his weights.
‘Remember that little talk we had? You promised you wouldn’t keep things from me anymore,’ the brunette reminded.
Jonghyun sighed of annoyance. He didn’t want to get into another fight, but at the same time, he didn’t really know why he was upset.
‘Does the name Taemin ring a bell?’ he finally said.
A disgusted look crawled up his boyfriend’s face. ‘Taemin as in‘selfish little brat that used to go out with my brother’?
‘How do you know about him?’
‘I met him today at that restaurant we went to the other day,’ Jonghyun explained as the whole scene unfolded in his head.
Key frowned in confusion. ‘What?’
‘We met by accident. Jinki was taking him out to eat,’ he specified.
‘I can’t believe my brother is seeing him again. I hate that little ,’ the younger one scowled.
‘He doesn’t seem to like you very much either.’
‘Of course he doesn’t. If it weren’t for me, Jinki would probably still be with him.’
‘So Taemin didn’t break up with him?’ Jonghyun asked.
‘No, Jinki did after months of me nagging him to do so. He tried not to face the truth, but at some point he had no choice. Taemin manipulated him into doing everything he asked for while he went out with other guys,’ Key explained with anger.
Jonghyun couldn’t believe it. Why would Jinki want to see him again?
‘Wow... that’s messed up.’
‘Yeah, and the saddest part was that for the longest time he didn’t believe me. Even though I swore that I had seen Taemin on dates with other men, he just shrugged it off...’
Key sighed. ‘I won’t let it happen again. I don’t know why he’s decided to reappear in his life all of a sudden, but I’m sure it means nothing good.’
‘How long were they together?’
That was a question that had been running through his mind ever since he had gotten back home. He just had to know.
‘3 years, unfortunately,’ his boyfriend answered.
‘Was that a long time ago or...?’
‘It’s been a year I think.’
‘I see...’ he uttered softly.
He probably still loves him, he thought as he felt the heavy weight on his chest again.