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Domestic Squabbles

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Just stepping into the little café makes Taemin’s shoulders relax down with a contented sigh. It’s warm, quiet, not too crowded, smells like bread and coffee… and Jonghyun will be meeting up with him soon, once the bus drops him off down the street. He’d left work feeling grumpy and annoyed. He doesn’t care what kind of favors Kibum thinks Taemin owes him; next time he’s shutting the door in his face when he begs Taemin to cover for him during his free period. It was nothing but whiny, ungrateful, disrespectful students that thought they could take advantage of him because he wasn’t their regular teacher. A rude little reminder as to why he hates teaching freshmen. And then there was the hour and a half of traffic he got stuck in on the way home, since he had to stay later than usual.

He’s tired and disgruntled and stressed, but this cozy little coffee date with Jonghyun is going to make up for it soon enough. Kisses and snuggles and hand holding and all kinds of cheesy romantic bullshit. It’s going to be great. Fixing his scarf around his neck, Taemin shuffles happily up to the barista, ordering a comforting cup of coffee with strawberry syrup. He picks a little booth against a window and squishes himself into the corner, bringing his coffee to his lips and letting it soothe him from the inside. Jonghyun should be here in around ten minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, Taemin thinks maybe the bus is just running a little late.

Ten minutes after that, he sends Jonghyun a text asking him where he is.

Another five minutes and he goes to get a refill of his coffee, and then politely turns down a girl that asks for his number, telling her that he’s already waiting for someone.

Three quarters of an hour in, he switches from mildly worried to extremely annoyed because his phone is telling him that Jonghyun saw his text a few minutes ago but hasn’t replied.

And fifty-seven and a half minutes after he first arrived, after he finally sees Jonghyun waltzing casually passed the window, hands in his pockets like nothing is wrong, Taemin is fucking pissed. Jonghyun strolls into the café with his usual cocky grin, looking around and finding Taemin fuming in his little booth quickly. He doesn’t even notice that Taemin is less than elated to see him. He smiles wide as he slips himself into the seat on the other side of the table.

“Bae, hey, how was--”

“Where were you?”

Jonghyun’s cheery attitude doesn’t falter; he wasn’t even looking at Taemin. He was looking at the coffee menus. He hums in question, turning back to face Taemin after a few seconds.

“What?”

“I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour,” Taemin says quietly. Jonghyun’s smile falls just a tiny bit; there it is, Taemin thinks. There’s his brain catching the fuck up. “Where were you?” he repeats. He’s folded his arms, crossed his legs, wrapped himself up angrily as he waits for Jonghyun to come up with an explanation. By the way Jonghyun’s smile is twitching weakly, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a good one.

“I was, um… there were… new puppies at the… pet store,” he mumbles. His hand twitches like it wants to reach across the table. It stops before it even tries, which is probably a good thing, because Taemin wouldn’t be able to guarantee that it would come back still attached. He breathes a deep breath through his nose.

“Incredible.”

“Taemin--”

“Fucking incredible.” Taemin stands up, fixing his scarf around his neck. How fucking wonderful to know that he’s less important to Jonghyun than a couple of fucking dogs. Jonghyun looks up at him, big, pleading eyes that do nothing to make Taemin want to forgive him. He doesn’t even let Jonghyun start whatever bullshit it is that he’s opening his mouth to say. “I’m going home,” he mutters, grabbing his jacket and stomping out of the café, leaving his half finished coffee there for Jonghyun to take care of.

~

“You left me.”

Jonghyun’s presence announces itself with a slammed door and pissy, heavy steps through the house. Taemin scoffs, lifting his book higher and settling back more against his pillows. Yeah. That’s a great entrance to make him less pissed. Jonghyun stomps down the hallway until he reaches the bedroom, where Taemin’s wrapped himself up to read after his stunning dinner of toast and a Reese’s cup.

“You took the fucking car and you left me there, Taemin,” Jonghyun growls from the doorway. Taemin ignores him; the only thing that would signal that he heard Jonghyun is the way his eyebrows twitched down into more of a furrow. Jonghyun couldn’t see that anyway, because Taemin’s book is blocking his face.

“What? You don’t have anything to say to me?” Jonghyun asks, voice growing steadily louder. No. No Taemin does not have anything to say to Jonghyun. He knows that he fucked up and Taemin isn’t going to apologize for causing Jonghyun the inconvenience of seventy-five cents and an extra twenty minutes on the bus. He is not the one at fault here, and he is not saying jack shit to Jonghyun until he understands the real problem. At his silence, Jonghyun scoffs, throwing his hands in the air and letting them slap back down against his legs.

“Fine. Fuck you too,” he snaps. He turns and stomps back down the hallway; Taemin glares quickly at his back for a moment before focusing back on the words on his page. He doesn’t remember where he was before Jonghyun barged in. And he’s on his favorite chapter, too. He’s flipping back a few pages so he can reread the whole scene over when he hears Jonghyun coming back. This time, his footsteps are lighter, more like soft shuffles, and he peeps slowly into the room.

“Bae, I didn’t… I didn’t mean it,” he says quietly. There’s a pout in his voice. Incredible. Taemin flicks him a quick, icy glare over his book; Jonghyun shrivels a little bit, but steps forward anyway. “I didn’t…,” he starts again. “You know I was looking forward to our date too, Taemin,” he whines. “You know how shit my attention span gets when I see puppies. You know that I didn’t mean to leave you there for an hour.” He’s slipped all the way up to the bed, wiggled himself under the covers, and wrapped himself halfway around Taemin’s body, pouting hard against his shoulder.

Taemin effortlessly continues to ignore him. He does know that Jonghyun didn’t mean to stand him up. That’s not the point. Jonghyun wiggles, pressing little kisses to Taemin’s shoulder.

“Bae?” he asks, voice tiny.

Taemin is tired.

He closes his book, puts it on his bedside table, and reaches for his lamp, shutting the light off. Jonghyun doesn’t try to say anything else as he curls into a little ball to get comfortable, but he does slip his arm around Taemin’s waist.

Taemin ignores that, too.

~

He wakes up in the morning flopped over Jonghyun and nuzzled into his chest, a warm hand gently sifting through his hair.

Ugh. He’s trying to be pissed here. He rolls away, sitting up groggily and rubbing his eyes. A shower. A shower is what he needs, because he didn’t take one last night or the day before and he feels kind of gross. He pulls himself up and into the bathroom, not even glancing back at Jonghyun still in bed.

When he gets out of the shower--feeling considerably better and more awake--he’s met with the smells of bacon and… waffles, coming from the kitchen. Jonghyun actually went to the trouble of pulling out the waffle iron. He knows he’s been thinking this a lot lately, but--incredible. He sighs as he towels his hair dry, wondering how Jonghyun could be missing the point so badly.

He greets Jonghyun with a cold glare when he gets to the kitchen, noticing his hopeful smile falter as quickly as it came up.

“Taemin…,” Jonghyun starts as Taemin picks up the plate left for him on the counter. He rubs his hand over his face. “I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry that I got distracted by puppies and left you there alone for an hour. Just--say something to me. Please.”

Taemin sighs, sitting down with his food and rubbing his hands over his face. He can’t just completely disregard that.

“I don't want apologies, Jonghyun,” he says, letting his hands fall to the table and making eye contact with Jonghyun for the first time since yesterday. “I don’t want all of this.” He gestures it his breakfast, at the strawberries and powdered sugar laid out on the table, at Jonghyun still standing by the sink. He doesn’t need pampering and flattery and ass kissing in a completely see-through attempt at making him forget that he’s mad. “I want you to fucking--care.”

“I do ca--”

“I want you to act like it,” Taemin says, louder than Jonghyun’s own indignant reply. “Leaving me alone in a coffee shop for a fucking hour isn’t acting like you care about me.” He’s folded his arms up, just like yesterday, as he frowns at Jonghyun over the table. Jonghyun’s pout is returning, this time accompanied by round eyes and twiddling thumbs.

“I didn’t mean--”

“But you still did!” If Jonghyun says that he didn’t mean to one more time, Taemin is going to rip his own fucking hair out. Jonghyun jumps at the sudden harshness at his voice; Taemin keeps talking anyway. “Stop saying you didn’t mean to like that excuses you, Jonghyun. It doesn’t. Don’t tell me that you’re so fucking weak that you couldn’t pull yourself away from some dogs after a couple of minutes to have a cup of fucking coffee with me.” It’s like Jonghyun is trying to argue that he’s a bigger piece of shit than Taemin is. He refuses to let Jonghyun waive all responsibility for his own choice.

Especially if he’s trying to pass it off onto some innocent little puppies.

Jonghyun stays silent, looks at the floor, sighs as Taemin gives him time to think of a reply. He wants him to hurry the fuck up; his waffles are getting cold.

“I don’t….” Jonghyun starts quietly after a moment. “You don’t want me to apologize, or try to make it up to you, or… I don’t know what you want me to do,” he says. He looks up at Taemin finally; there’s only a tiny hint of a whine in his voice and his eyes are only a little bit shiny; Taemin appreciates how he’s at least trying to look responsible instead of small and blameless. He groans quietly, slouching down in his chair. He does want Jonghyun to make it up to him, but it’s just… breakfast and meaningless apologies aren’t the way to do it.

“I want you… to promise me, Jonghyun.” As soon as he says it, Jonghyun perks up, hope in his eyes again. Taemin sighs, pushing his hair out of his face. “I want you to promise me that the next time we’re supposed to meet and you get distracted by whatever it is that catches your attention--” because he knows that Jonghyun can’t help getting interested in things sometimes--“you won’t forget about me.” It’s fine if Jonghyun wants to stop by the pet store for a few minutes to coo at the animals, if he stops and watches a street performer for a little bit, if he gets into a conversation with the guy behind the counter at the 7-11. That was never the point. Taemin doesn't give a shit if he's only a few minutes late. “I want you to promise me that you’ll at least let me know where you are," he continues. "Text me. Call me. Do something to let me know that I’m fucking important to you.”

He doesn’t want apologies; he wants Jonghyun to try to make it better.

Almost immediately, Jonghyun is nodding, Jonghyun is stepping forward, Jonghyun is opening his mouth to speak.

“Yes--yes, I promise,” he says. Like it’s just that fucking easy. If it was, he would’ve been doing it already. “I promise, Taemin, I really do.” He reaches for Taemin’s hands, and Taemin reluctantly allows him to hold them, squeeze them gently. “I’ll try.”

“You will,” Taemin corrects him pointedly. He’s not pushing for an attempt.

“I will, yes, I will,” Jonghyun agrees. Without any hesitation. Taemin huffs. He’ll believe it when he sees it.

“I want to eat,” he says quietly, taking his hands from Jonghyun’s and getting up to stick his plate in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it back up. When he turns back around with his food, he finds Jonghyun already sitting on the other end of the table, drowning his waffles in syrup like usual. Well, good. For all of the times Jonghyun has fucked up since they’ve been together, at least he’s figured out how to tell when Taemin doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.

He sits back down, rearranging his bacon on his plate, tugging his strawberries and and powdered sugar and milk closer. He rubs the final remnants of sleep out of his eyes. For a breakfast that was made just to shift his focus off of his anger and avoid any real confrontation… it is his favorite. Jonghyun put a lot of thought into it. He takes his first bite of waffle, swallows, pokes his next around his plate for a moment.

“Thanks for making breakfast,” he mumbles. When he glances up, he sees a huge smile curving up Jonghyun’s lips. He humphs and looks back down at his food. Of course.

“Hey, um,” Jonghyun says. Taemin can hear the grin in his voice. He’s just so happy to have made that tiny bit of progress. If Taemin wasn’t still mad, he would think it was cute. “Do you, maybe, wanna go to the pet store? Later? To see the puppies?”

He can’t be serious. Taemin drops a piece bacon halfway to his mouth, looks up at Jonghyun with cold eyes.

He’s serious. Excited eyes, eager anticipation in the way he bites his lip. Of course he’s serious.

“No,” he says. Normally he would, but right now, fuck no. Jonghyun’s grin doesn’t even falter.

“Are you sure?” he asks. “There was a really lazy golden lab,” he singsongs. “And kittens.” He wiggles his eyebrows; Taemin looks back down at his waffles. Fuck.

“Maybe,” he mutters quickly.

~

“I’m still mad at you,” Taemin grins lazily, turning his head just slightly so he can nuzzle the kitten that’s nuzzling against his hair back.

“Are you really?” Jonghyun asks. Taemin cracks an eye open to peer at him. He’s still playing with the three other puppies, letting them all flop around in his lap, chase after his hands, grin practically splitting open his face. He closes his eyes again, lifting his hand to gently nudge the one kitten to curl up against his neck. He’s got another napping on his chest, a third pressed up against his side, a fourth nudging his free hand for pets, and the golden lab puppy resting her head on top of his hip. He’s surrounded by warm fur and soft, quiet purring fills his ears, making his insides all tingly. He sighs happily.

“Absolutely furious,” he tells Jonghyun. “Buy me ice cream later.”

Jonghyun’s soft chuckle really only makes him less angry.

“Okay.”