“... I’m sorry, I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t drive when I’m tired—”
“No, I’m glad you made it out, Minho-yah. It’s not your fault, don’t be sorry.”
“But Changmin-hyung ... he was on the right ... he—”
“Please don’t tell him anything. I don’t want to scare him.”
The phone shrilled and the owner jerked awake.
He scrambled over with closed eyes, hand patting (slamming, to be exact) the coffee table in search of the shrieking artifact. If no one knew better, the sound he made could be depicted as someone hammering a stubborn nail that refused to stab a plank so that someone used universal energy force.
‘Again’ he reminded himself. He had been dreaming about the same scene since last winter—about Minho begging for forgiveness towards someone that’s forgiving enough to ascend as an angel or about Kyuhyun keeping a secret. He could only listen to them, nothing more, and that somewhat baffled him.
Not every time he slept he dreamed of the scene but every time he dreamed the scene made it way to the stage as an encore. Sometimes he dreamed the different part of their conversation but in the end it didn’t really help. He hadn’t told anyone (even his beloved daughter Buzzi) about that, he assumed Minho and Kyuhyun were talking to one of his family and that’s that.
The dream always ended abruptly and it sunk a blade to his skull as soon as his brain nerve recognized pain. It’s happening now so, “Where the hell is my phone.”
He eventually found the cursed tablet and grabbed it. He opened his eyes slowly, squinting from the piercing light (just who the fuck set his phone to a portable sun), before recognizing the face displayed on the screen.
He growled before picking the call, “Yah, Minho! I didn’t oversleep, okay? Tell Kyuhyun to calm his ass down, I’m not dead. Not before he does first, at least.”
“... Well, that’s good to know, Hyung,” the said Minho cackled, he could imagine his best friend’s eyes crinkling and he softened at the thought. “I just want to check if you had taken the pills or not. It’s been ... twenty-two minutes since the prescribed time.”
A heavy sigh, then a look at the digital clock on the counter top of his kitchen. “Ah.”
“You obviously overslept—”
“Minho,” he put pressure to his voice just to receive a laugh from the other side. He was grateful to have a friend like Minho, but right now his eyes blurred and his head hurt so Minho could save all the nagging for later (or never). “Thanks, that’s debt minus one.”
“My pleasure, Hyung,” and another jab to a specific spot on his head. He stifled a groan and leaned to the couch, closing his eyes to focus his mind to something else but the dizziness. “At this point you should start remembering things though.”
“I already remember everything, I’m pretty sure I do ...” he murmured, the rest of the sentence became one with the wind. His fingers massaged his temple and he scrunched his face in hope to fade the ache.
Minho just hummed in return, letting the silence enveloped them both. They stayed soundless for a little while before he stood up and made his way to the kitchen. There’s rustle when he rummaged through the cabinet for the said pills bottle, then a clatter of utensils clashing each other when he looked for a mug. He turned on the tap to get some water and downed his pills in one quick motion.
“How was your head, Hyung?” Minho asked after he settled down by the dining chair, admiring the busy streets of Seoul as the dawn broke beyond the window. He stilled momentarily, before groaning once more.
“Yeah, it’s attached to my spine,” he tried, but Minho didn’t laugh. If anything, Minho fell silent and he could feel his best friend’s sympathy from many countries away, miles apart. “I mean, I’m okay. It’s okay. Just occasional headache here and there, but nothing serious.”
Minho sighed but there’s no relief in it, “I see. Then Yun—"
“I told you he just moved here last year,” he grumbled while running a hand through his locks. “That should be enough explanation already.”
Another groan, “At this point I don’t know if you meant it or not.”
“I did, but not to you.”
Changmin saw him again, thrice today. One time when he bought some groceries at the convenience store down the street at six in the morning and one time in the lift of their office’s building during lunch break. Changmin engaged with the man directly that two times, but it’s most unlikely for the third time now.
He was few blocks away from the man, but somehow, he could sense him. He didn’t know why, it’s like there’s a radar in his system that automatically beeped noisily when that man was in the vicinity.
His crisp laugh when his companion threw a joke could reach even Jeju Island, too peculiar that no one dared to replicate it. His flowy ebony locks reflected back the moon ray when he shook his head. Some didn’t look good with long hair but the man proved it wrong, tucking loose strands behind his right ear.
So it’s completely understandable when Changmin couldn’t stop his own eyes from following the man until he was gone from his peripheral vision. He cursed himself for doing so (he didn’t forget to curse the man’s companion too), there was something about the man that he himself unable to figure out and he was mildly irritated by it.
If only the man didn’t bump into him when he was in fucking hurry to buy the limited LEGO set, he wouldn’t feel like this.
Jung Yunho. ‘I’m Yunho’. That’s what the center of Changmin’s attention for almost a year said. They met because Yunho apparently couldn’t use his eyes and spilled the scorching hot coffee of a six feet plus tall man who wasn’t blessed by luck.
Changmin, who at that time was in very urgent situation (and really, really considering how long he would be in jail if he just killed the man in front of him) could only smile and pushed the man kind of gently (he really tried to) out of his way while quietly saying “sorry”.
“Hey! Why the rush? Your arm is burned!” ‘Yunho, you don’t know how important this mission is!’ Changmin’s inner self screamed with agony, all bursting hellfire complete with its demons ready to maul, when Yunho caught his wrist and was this man secretly a God in his past life? Let Changmin go!
“Yes, okay, please let go,” Changmin replied through gritted teeth, he really used all of his remaining sanity he had not to commit murder. Seriously, this man was testing his rolling-eyes skill.
Changmin searched for an opening to escape, that’s when he noticed a traffic sign on his right. What if he tied Yunho there? Or just yank it out and swing it on his pretty head? Or—or—
“Oh no, your arm! It could be infected, come here!”
The next thing he knew, he was dragged across the pavement, opposite direction of where his beloved LEGO set was at. The thick snow didn’t even bother to lessen the impact of Yunho’s strides—it jumped sideway when Yunho’s boots basically mowed it down to oblivion, and Changmin was hopeless.
‘Damn it, Jung Yunho!’
That day the sun went to slumber gracefully, bidding farewell to every Earth’s citizen in Seoul, and Changmin went home with the remnants of his broken souls.
He caught a glimpse of the calendar when he took off his shoes, a messy scratch that read ‘Best Day! Limited LEGO ON SALE’ mocked his whole existence.
‘Yes, best day if Yunho used God’s blessings called eyes properly!’
Since that fateful day, Shim Changmin held personal grudge towards a certain Jung Yunho.
Changmin sighed so hard he might blow all newspapers and magazines that’s on sale in a small stall to his left away.
The old man, the owner of the stall, was surprised; asking him if he was okay with a bit of panic. Changmin also panicked when he heard him but he quickly composed himself and forced a smile, ducking his head a little in apologetic manners.
He heard to the old man saying “kids nowadays” and Changmin swore he could imagine him shaking his sweaty, bald-in-the-middle head while dabbing it with a towel.
Changmin cringed at the thought and quickly fasten his paces. Yunho this and Yunho that, he kept thinking about him that he didn’t realize he stopped midway.
How could Yunho live in his mind without paying any rent fees? And what’s more stupid was Changmin let all of that happened just like that.
When would Yunho stop living in his mind and start living with him already? If they’re together it was easier for Changmin to slap him every day. Even if he couldn’t slap, he wouldn’t mind seeing the man whenever he woke up in the morning. They could make a breakfast togeth—
Changmin shuddered at his own thoughts, his head was throbbing and drumming a whole carnival. For a few seconds he forgot who he was.
He tried to focus his blurred vision to the road; his destination was already around the corner. He dismissed all Yunhos inside his head, seemed like he needed to tell someone about this weird Yunho-Time syndrome (again; “Hyung that’s the fifth time you talked about him under 30 mins”— “Shut up, Minho. So Yunho was ...”). He was slowly but surely losing his mind.
When he shared this to Kyuhyun (again x2) later, accidental or not, he was pretty sure his best friend would laugh his ass off until his vocal cord decided to retire (again x3).
‘Shim Chwang? Thinking about someone that’s not himself?’ his voice echoed in his ears, Changmin almost turned back and went home.
Speaking of which, it’s been a while he didn’t see his best friends (even if they’re apparently also his most devoted haters). Changmin didn’t miss them, okay, no.
Well maybe a little tiny bitsy.
He just needed to talk and punch their faces in person, swearing through phone and video calls were not enough to express how much he wanted to abuse them. Sadly Minho was currently not in Korea so Kyuhyun alone would do the honor of catching his fist.
The bar where they agreed to rendezvous was not foreign, the location was quite secluded and only few knows where was it. There’s not many visitors and the place was not blasted with funky music. The alcohols they offered also suited Changmin’s taste well, so why not?
He sat on one of the barstools and ordered a wine to a bartender whom he had known since he moved to the district; Mr. Lee pat his shoulder and smiled to which Changmin returned with mismatched eyes.
10.13 pm his watch said, still a long way down from their appointed time. Especially Kyuhyun had a thing for being late. So Changmin had plenty of times to ... think about Yunho?
‘Shim! What the hell?’
But Changmin’s thoughts were already everywhere before he knew it.
This time he tried to remember the man’s face. A face of Yunho that he wanted to slap as hard as Kyuhyun did when he was drunk and told Kyuhyun to go home (when he was actually at Kyuhyun’s apartment—"What the fuck, Chwang.”).
Anyway, Yunho’s face was so small that one Changmin’s palm was enough to cover his whole face then slam his head to nearby wall. His slanted eyes sparked fireworks when he greeted every living thing that existed. Changmin wondered if the man was a feline in his past-life (“A Cat-God, maybe?”). Then there’s his cupid lips that could create a smile that beat the sun itself, even millions stars if he wanted.
He meant, how could someone was not blinded when he beamed? And the beauty mark on the corner of his mouth, was it even necessary to be there? Near his plump bottom lips that looked pillowy and so soft Changmin wondered how it felt when he bit it and—
Wait, when? ‘Shim Changmin! Remember your first intention to show him how much you hate him!’ Changmin shook his head with all his might, trying to shake the thoughts away, did he just think to fucking kiss a man he vowed to drag to Hell with him so bad? (“Really, brain? All the headaches just for that—really, brain?”)
‘Get it right, Shim. You have to teach him why he needs to stop bothering you.’
It was Rebate Day at his favorite book store and Changmin looked forward to that day. There were so many books he wanted to have but of course he was not a sugar daddy (not like he was now but yes), his LEGO collections were enough to put his life on the line, hence it’s normal if he decided to vigorously walked to the place.
All went well until a certain someone, again, came and destroyed everything.
He felt like he crashed into a three-layered brick walls by the name of Jung Yunho, even if the said man also stumbled back by the collision.
Nevermind, maybe Changmin was the three-layered brick walls since Yunho fell on his non-existent ass, dropping five boxes of strawberries he carried in the process. Some of the boxes were stomped by passersby and the ambience around them was painted by red, a clear sign of The Massacre of Innocent Strawberries.
Changmin was not naturally a kind person but come on! Did he have a heart to leave Yunho wailing the departure of his strawberries?
In the end Changmin helped him to pick them up (he had manners, okay?).
Only two boxes could be saved, shorter by few numbers than they should, that too because Yunho kept them close when Changmin rocket-walked at him. The other already rested in pieces.
He eyed at the mess around his and Yunho’s feet, grimacing.
Among all of the living things in Seoul, Jung Yunho and his strawberries were chosen to be his lucky victims.
Embarrassed? Yes, of course, Changmin could feel his ears burned and he struggled to weave proper words when the two of them stood up. His heartbeat was so loud in his own ears, just like the speaker at Kyuhyun’s Company’s Anniversary Banquet back then (Wait, why he had time to think about a speaker at Kyuhyun’s Company’s Anniversary Banquet? Jung Yunho!).
He then braced himself to look at Yunho.
A mistake had been made.
“Ch-Changmin-ah! Too many!” ‘huh who said that’. He didn’t care much and kept grabbing the boxes of strawberries that’s in his sight.
The male behind him babbling nonsense, saying the boxes were too many and did he even understand the definition of “too many”? Changmin was pretty sure the store had mountains of stocks in the warehouse, he was just helping the owner to get profits.
Few moments later, he turned around and placed the last box on Yunho’s hand, at the top of a dozen other boxes to be exact, and stared at his confused face (for a split second Yunho looked like a bowling ball; he bit back a wheeze).
Changmin stayed silent and his gaze lingered longer.
Maybe a bit too long than he should.
“Yes,” was all he needed to say before leaving Yunho to carry those enormous amount of strawberries to be checked out.
“What are you going to do with all of these strawberries?” the cashier asked with visible curiosity and Changmin had no idea what to say. The question startled him, his tongue froze, it’s just like when he was asked to answer an equation he didn’t understand back in school.
No thoughts head empty, the last thing that filled it was the need to get Yunho shitload boxes of strawberries. ASAP.
He was pretty certain that he looked like a fish out of water (or a deer caught in spotlight, his brain helpfully corrected) in front of the girl. It’s a sheer luck that he wasn’t mistaken as having asthma.
The cashier patiently waited for the respond that never came, burrowing her thick eyebrows and darting her bagged eyes at Changmin while checking out a fridge worth of strawberries boxes. Changmin wasn’t religious enough but he prayed that some random zombie apocalypse happened just so he could escape from the stare.
And then Yunho laughed.
Changmin (and the girl too, supposedly) was struck silent.
He didn’t remember much after that; he only remembered looking at Yunho’s side profile when the older man answered her instead and got them out of suspicious looks.
“Thank you so much, Changmin-ah, I wouldn’t run out of stock for the rest of the spring,” Yunho muttered when they came out of the store and why was he even smiling shyly like that? Changmin panicked because he didn’t know what the fuck to say.
And so he did something that his brain deemed as a perfectly normal reaction by picking half of their groceries and gave another half to Yunho without thinking much.
“You ... you think that’s all for yourself?” Changmin hesitated but there you go, Yunho, the response to your words.
Three seconds felt like three centuries. Changmin wished he could fly away to another world. He really considered coming to a train station and body-slam the wall.
“Oh, sorry, I was getting ahead of myself,” said Yunho sheepishly, while looking away at the other direction and rubbed his neck awkwardly.
Changmin’s brain lagged (‘how dare Yunho felt sheepish’) before he nodded slowly.
“Changmin-ah, how did you know this is the store I prefer my strawberries from?” asked Yunho, he shifted to get a better look of Changmin. He was slightly shorter but that still required him to bend his neck back due to the questionable close proximity.
“Well, you came here a lot last summer,” the almost automatic reply somehow made Yunho’s face lit up, something along the line of hopeful splattered across it.
“Last summer, you say?”
Before he could respond, he felt something similar to knife was impaled to his left skull. He immediately raised a hand to grip at his hair, trying to lessen the pain. He told himself to go home and sleep because that’s the highest possible reason why this happened.
Yunho placed a hand on his right cheek, concern and worry were evident on his visage. Changmin opened his eyes a little, wincing, then allowing himself to caught a glimpse of the older man. They stayed like that until Changmin got back to his senses, slapping Yunho away as reflex.
Yunho was opening his mouth again but Changmin hurriedly bid him farewell, proceeding to leave him because all he wanted that time was to get. The fuck. Away. From Jung Yunho.
Once he arrived, he stood dumbfounded in the hallway of his apartment. He just realized he went home, not to the book store like his initial plan was. He mustered up courage to take a glance at the clock.
He took an extremely deep breath.
“Damn it, Jung Yunho—!” he opened the eyes he didn’t know he closed and saw Kyuhyun almost touched his face, looked like he stopped in the middle of a slap.
Kyuhyun’s mouth was open, like he was about to say something, and that lips of his best friend slowly curled into an amused smile.
“Jung Yunho? Again? Aw, Chwang,” Kyuhyun chuckled and sat on the barstool on Changmin’s left. “You should consider a vacation though. You haven’t gone anywhere this year, you can take Yunho-hyung with you too.”
He kept smirking and flashing those teeth, forcing Changmin to fight the urge to drag him to the back alley then beat him there or strangle him to death then drown him in Han River. He could execute both.
His best friend was most likely aware of his murderous intention though, but Kyuhyun was not going to stop giving him that wicked grin. It’s either his jaws broke naturally or Changmin caused it unnaturally. Highly certain of the latter but alright.
“I. Hate. Yunho,” said Changmin, emphasizing every word and drank his wine in one go, slamming the glass with such force as soon as all liquid entered his throat. The action made Kyuhyun exploded with laughter.
“No, Chwang. You love him,” Kyuhyun quipped back easily while ordering another wine for his pining best friend (“I’m not pining!”).
The said best friend turned to look at him almost spontaneously, too fast that his spine kind of cracked in the action. If Changmin’s eyes could vomit laser beam, Kyuhyun would be only a name.
“Not funny, Kyu,” Changmin rolled his eyes and dismissed him.
Kyuhyun’s face tensed with a hint of something close to pity but he quickly extinguished it. “You think I’m kidding?”
“When you aren’t?” another hard eyeroll and yet another big gulp of the alcohol. He was a mess for someone other than himself, that’s already a problem.
His best friend gazed at him, giving uncertain small smile, before patting Changmin on the head. Changmin bat his hand away just as soon as the palm touched his hair, scooting away a bit and glared at Kyuhyun who was grinning like a maniac.
“Kyu what the fuck,” he uttered and sipped on his newly filled glass, still glaring daggers at his wingman from the corner of his eyes. The said wingman just chuckled, settling on patting his back rather than his head (he still wanted to live, yes).
“Why are you so wary of me I’m offended,” Kyuhyun placed a hand over his heart, wearing an exaggerated disappointed face (he looked constipated; Changmin gave him a point for at least trying) that only oblivious person would buy.
“Stop patting me, I’m your Hyung. And you’re not Yunho.”
Kyuhyun seemed hesitant, he looked like he wanted to point something out but an unseen held him back from doing so. In the end he carefully spit out the words one by one, slowly so Changmin wouldn’t misunderstand, with a half-hearted grin. “... You really love him, Chwang. I’m jealous.”
“Kyu, what the fuck."
“I don’t want to freak you out, I’m sorry.”
“What the fuck.”
Kyuhyun’s car disappeared at the junction of the main road and Changmin suddenly felt empty.
He was going to be alone from this second and he wouldn’t be able to change the fact that much. Kyuhyun would fly to Japan in an hour and he was going stay there for a year because his work demanded so. Not to mention Minho hadn’t returned from France, too.
He realized that the more they grew up, the more things got stolen by, well, work.
It’s not like Changmin was unhappy for their success, he might despise them heartily but he was grateful his best friends could make a living with proper jobs. He even got souvenirs when they came back to Korea, it proved further that there’s really no reason to go against them both.
It’s just he couldn’t help the loneliness that clawed his heart’s chamber every once in a while.
Just fifteen minutes ago he and Kyuhyun were laughing out loud, slapping and cussing each other passionately (someone almost called the police), exchanging stories and catching up (mostly about how much Changmin hated Yunho—Kyuhyun snorted hard he could spray soju through his nose), and now he was already feeling nothing.
He didn’t want to go home, not like this. He was not ready to face the empty space of his room alone while feeling this way.
His long legs brought him to a local park not far from his apartment building. The street was quiet but there were still people around, even if not as many as when it’s broad daylight.
‘Of course, Shim, what do you expect from one in the morning? One Jung Yunho?’
Changmin furrowed his brows, he thought about Yunho again. There must be system errors.
If he could order his brain to erase something specific, Jung Yunho for example, he would do it in a heartbeat from the day the man poured cold water over his burnt arm. But unfortunately, of course that’s impossible. He still didn’t understand how his head worked, asking Kyuhyun for an advice equal nothing solved, problem added. Kyuhyun’s statement really made him spinning almost literally.
He, Shim Changmin, loved Jung Yunho? The man he wanted to make suffer the most? Hah! Seemed like work also did some numbers on Kyuhyun’s IQ.
He examined the cobblestones he stepped on. The stones varied in size and they shone when they caught the light. Changmin’s sneakers made a steady and consistent tapping noise each time he took a stride, it’s somehow calming his chaotic mental turbulence.
Then he noticed a cracked stone along with familiar shards of glasses filling the gaps.
Earlier that day, he met up with Minho who recently returned from France for his summer break in their regular bar.
As always, he bought Changmin a wine, a high-quality one that’s it. It’s THAT brand where the cheapest one worth 6 million won and Changmin had to double-slap himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming (“Hyung, let me help!”; “No, thanks.”).
It’s just one bottle but damn if Changmin wasn’t the happiest man that day (he wasn’t). He was just so fucking happy he actually went home through the park, not around it like he usually did.
Changmin wished he could turn back time.
He was just chilling and looking at the nature around him, feeling delighted and unbothered. He couldn’t wait to add the wine to his collection and enjoy it. He thought what food he should cook today, he thought of braised pork ribs or just a simple bulgogi, and he smiled at the thoughts.
He was at the very same cobblestones path when a certain man greeted him.
Yes, Jung Yunho. Who else?
Yunho eyes shone bright and he beamed million watts. As usual. Changmin hated how dazzling he looked when did. As usual. They talked for a bit and he got curious of the package Changmin carried. Unusual. Changmin was in a good mood so he allowed Yunho to take a look while proudly explaining him what it was. Unusual, problem detected. Yunho not so gently handled the package of the wine, he was all smiley and ... cute. Unusual, abort mission.
‘Abort mission, Shim!’
There was a loud crash and if Changmin wasn’t born rich of self-control then he would be in prison (or asylum, he was not picky), rotten and forgotten and giggling over Yunho’s tragic story, for approximately ten years.
If he was lucky in the trial that’s it.
Or maybe no trial and only impromptu death sentence since he sent one of the prosecutors to Hell.
“Changmin-ah—” the sentence would never get its chance to finish because the one saying it was shoved hard on the chest, causing him to lose balance and connecting his left side with mother Earth.
Both of them was sure of the bruises. It’s obvious, the elbow’s section of his jumper was ripped and his palm was decorated in angry red marks in contrast of his milky skin.
Changmin death-glared at him, his clenched fists looked painful if they landed somewhere, and his gritted teeth seemed capable of ripping a whole stallion. The younger looked terrifying, hovering over Yunho with his entire six feet and one inch height.
Lost, Yunho stared back with shock from under him.
“Fuck you, Jung,” the taller man hissed with a snarl plastered on his face. His already large eyes widened even more, the phrase ‘hatred’ painted all over his brown irises.
“Can you please just start using your brain like a normal human being? Unless you don’t have one then at least do me a favor to fuck off.”
Hurt flashed on Yunho’s face for a good few seconds, enough to make Changmin slightly guilty but he stood his ground.
He tolerated the older man more than he needed to, he always stepped back and took care of the problems first while Yunho created another. What again this person wanted from him? A fight? Changmin was more than ready to oblige if that’s so.
At last, after a full minute of diving deep into each other’s eyes, Yunho got up. His breath was slightly erratic, his right hand clutched his left arm, and Changmin could see few nails clipped from its original place.
“Changmin-ah, I know I’m at fault but it doesn’t give you the rights to insult me,” Yunho finally replied firmly, no one would notice the shaky tone he tried to hide, but Changmin knew better.
Normally Changmin would immediately soften and apologized, or he just dragged him somewhere to buy him things. He could never stand those looks Yunho threw at him whenever he was hurting.
That time wasn’t normal.
The blade stuck on his skull decided it’s the best time to twist, so it did. It hurt so fucking much and wrathful Changmin would burst if not for the images of someone that look awfully familiar crying in the back of his mind.
His hand flew to his head once again, pulling the locks there and damaging the scalp. Yes it did hurt, but at least it lessen the burn inside his head. He cursed, he was sure he took the pills before meeting with Minho. Changmin made a note to himself to commence an investigation about the fraud drugs, no objections.
“Damn it, Jung Yunho!” he roared.
Yunho left without being told twice.
Changmin's gaze was fixated at the glasses, they twinkled from receiving the light.
Later that night he lied to Minho about how ecstatic he was of the taste and the smell while in fact he never tested it. He wasn’t new to lying but it’s against his belief, especially it’s Minho he was talking about, it felt worst (Minho knew he was lying; “It’s okay, Hyung. I will be back next month.”).
He was so angry he left the scene as soon as Yunho passed him. He remembered the gritty tip of his nails almost speared through his palm just so he wouldn’t lose control and hurt Yunho.
His fingers twitched in response, he felt like there’s a faint rush of electricity in his veins. Was he overreacting that day?
Changmin closed his eyes momentarily to shoo away the memory, then tightened his scarf and continued walking. It already happened, there’s no use regretting over it, besides Minho really gave him the same wine personally to his apartment next month after the incident.
He inhaled, took as many oxygen he could hold, before releasing a whole different gas through his mouth. What’s wrong with him? He kept thinking about the same man and it’s getting scarier rather than weirder. Don’t get him wrong, he swung both ways, but there’s no way he loved Yunho, right?
The entity of Yunho himself was quite something. The more he thought about the man, the more incapable he was at figuring out what’s inside the man’s head. There was something special about the man that made Changmin's ability to refuse dropped to zero (even minus).
He knew Yunho was from Gwangju, not too rural but he could see why Yunho was struggling for a while in his first months living in the city, saying he used to shovel snow and sleeping on bench to stay alive. He knew Yunho was a bit too young when he became a prosecutor, that might explain why he was so childish—his childhood was taken away from him and he was trying to fulfil it in the present. He knew Yunho had trauma of darkness and ... orange juice?
Changmin thought it’s something something orange juice infused with superglue.
Changmin unconsciously gripped his hands, forming fists. Those thing with the juice was straight up nasty and despicable, a good man like Yunho didn’t deserve it even in his next lives. The poor man even forgave the one who poisoned him! How people even had a heart to hurt an angel like him?
He was just doing his job; the murderer was imprisoned so why would his life still got threaten? So much of humanity.
Wait, how did he know of the facts again?
His surrounding was spinning and his eyes landed on a closed tteok-bokki stall before his legs gave up on him.
“It’s scary, Changminnie. I could hear voices. I was aware of my surrounding,” Yunho casted his eyes downward, deciding that the confetti-covered pavement where his sneakers rested was more enticing than thousands of lanterns hanging above their head.
He stirred the contents inside the cup absentmindedly like he was daydreaming. He whispered the words, as if phrasing sacred wonder of the world, careful not to let anyone other than Changmin found out.
“But I couldn’t do anything, so I just watched.”
The silence embraced both of them, shielding them from the crowd and the festive spirits. Changmin was at loss, he didn’t know what he should say, once again. He didn’t expect this “compensation date” included deep conversation—he wasn’t even sure if Yunho trusted him this much to tell him about his personal trauma.
He knew he had to say something or Yunho would take it as he wasn’t listening, but what could he do? He was used to be the one who tell, not the one who listen (‘Kyuhyun, you’re the real MVP’).
On his right, Yunho was still dipping and stirring the food with fishcake but never bringing it to his mouth.
Changmin just hummed in acknowledgement in the end, hoping it was enough confirmation for the older man, and craned his neck to look at Yunho who was still stabbing the poor gimbap until it’s coated completely in red.
“Don’t play with your foods,” he remarked and snatched the wooden stick from between Yunho’s fingers (gently, really).
Changmin set down his own cup on the bench and took Yunho’s, his fingers felt warm when they brushed with Yunho’s long digits. He lowkey wished he could intertwine them without being given a weird look and a slap as bonus.
“Open your mouth.”
Yunho was indeed shocked and blinked his long lashes twice.
He looked at Changmin whose eyes were bored into him unamusedly and encouraging at the same time. Then at the fragrant fishcake in front of his face, steaming hot and screaming delicious with the excessive sauce dripping to the cup under it, waiting for him to put it on his tastebud. And then he looked back at Changmin, still unamused, and blinked more; the lad rolled his eyes (he was worried they wouldn’t come back since Changmin did that for too many times under 4 hours).
“Yes, I’m feeding you, Hyung. Open up,” said Changmin, annoyance hinted in his tone, as he shifted on his seat so he was facing Yunho. Right hand holding the cup and settled at the top of the backrest, left hand ready to shove the food down Yunho’s throat.
He was seriously going to feed Yunho so please ‘just open your mouth, Jung!’.
Thanks the lack of light on the spot, no one could see Changmin’s ears cosplaying tomatoes.
Finally Yunho opened his mouth, slightly reluctant. He searched Changmin’s eyes for a hint of anything—he was glad he found nothing but sincerity, meanwhile Changmin watched and gulped when the lips parted (‘Shim Changmin, focus!’).
He then blew the fishcake to cool it off before feeding it to him. They locked their eyes while doing so, mindless of the flashing lamps and lotus lanterns, mindless of the packed market just few metres away from the bench, mindless of the world.
It’s just two of them.
As time passed, they got closer to each other somehow, both literal and metaphorical. Changmin could see the one inch difference between them and told himself that he liked it, curving his lips slightly upward as natural response.
He was drowned in the pool of black orbs that’s Yunho—he could even see himself in the reflection, behind him was the radiant colorful decoration lamps that were put up on the stalls to brighten up the celebration.
Changmin knew he was close when he could see the scars on Yunho’s left cheek and the corner of his eye, he could even feel the man’s breath on his lips and the way it quickened as seconds passed, he was so close until—
“Ch—argh,” then a grip on his wrist.
Yunho backed off and Changmin blinked few times before realizing what he had done.
“What kind of fuckery is this” was the best way to express the situation.
“Yunho!” he screeched and panicked he called the older man by name; his expression was priceless (Yunho called it “Minface”— “Hyung!”).
Yunho would laugh out loud until his whole body shook in tremor just from looking at him—if he wasn’t sounded like a banshee Changmin ever read in a random mythology book he found in the cloistered section of a local library.
Apparently Changmin was more concerned of his hyung to think about his pride, so he pounded Yunho’s back with his fist. Maybe he should keep the force a bit humane since Yunho looked like he was about to cough his insides out.
At last Yunho stopped.
Not long after, he laughed and threw his head back—Changmin placed a hand behind his head because he almost knocked himself out by banging his head to the backrest.
Seriously this man, if someday he died because he slipped on the soap he threw to the floor when he was having a tantrum in the bathroom, Changmin wouldn’t be surprised.
“Changminnie! It burns my tongue!” Yunho pointed out as his laughter died down and opened the canned beverage he bought earlier.
He gulped it down and Changmin wouldn’t admit he enjoyed the way his Adam’s apple bobbed when he swallowed. He stuck his tongue out as soon as he finished the drink. It’s bright red and ... and maybe the man was actually a cat because it did looks like one. His tongue looked rough from the burnt, pinkish white in the middle, and long.
Not to mention from this angle he could see that little dot on the corner of his upper lips.
Changmin looked away.
“Served you right.”
Yunho was astonished, so did Changmin (he didn’t show it).
“Then it’ll be my turn to burn you next time!” ‘Not everything is competition, Yunho!’ Changmin was on the verge of tears when Yunho exclaimed. Whether because of how clueless the man was or because of how adorable he was when he said it (it could be both and Changmin would really cry).
He took a breath so deep and so long he could slurp all the foods in the vicinity through his nostrils if gravity didn’t exist.
Yunho laughed again at his reaction.
Changmin wanted to kiss him so he could shut the fuck up.
“Changminnie?” he could hear the genuine worry in Yunho’s tone, yet he chose to cover his bottom face and looked away still.
He jumped a little when Yunho tapped his shoulder, resulting Yunho to also jump. At that point Changmin was 99% sure the older man was a cat, otherwise why was he so skittish?
“Sorry for ruining the festival, Changminnie. I know this day was special for Buddhist,” yes it’s kind of special since it’s Buddha’s Birthday. Though he preferred the solitude of the apartment but ‘you’re the one who insisted I should go with you!’.
He was very certain that the longer he spent the time with the man, the faster his hair turned grey (it would be cool though; “No.”).
By the way, “What part did you ruin? If anything, you make it better.”
Yunho was surprised for real hearing that, he could feel blood rushing to his face and he shyly hid his face with both of his hands, then he fucking giggled.
Changmin was surprised too, where did he get the audacity to blurt it out? He could feel his ears flared, again, for the umpteenth time that day (why they still existed despite the extreme heat remained a mystery). He then also chuckled because Yunho made funny strangled sounds that he defined as giggling.
Now they looked like fools.
A couple of minutes passed, they snickered a lot that their jaws sore. The people who saw them smiled at their behavior, “young lovebirds” they declared. Who wouldn’t think so when they noticed how they looked at each other?
“I see. I’m glad, Changminnie,” Yunho turned to him and smiled, his eyes arched to beautiful crescents. There was so much to see in those irises, and Changmin couldn’t help but return it, all uneven-sized eyes in display for Yunho and only Yunho to witness. “I’m a good tour guide, am I not?”
Changmin huffed, grinning amusedly, “Yeah you are, Hyung. Minus that one time you left me in the market.”
“Changminnie! You don’t have to rub it in on me,” Yunho whined and pouted at him. He then continued, beaming, “But thank you for coming with me, Changminnie!”
Changmin fell silent, his heart was too full and too warm and his stomach were too cramped with various papillons for him to talk.
Unlike their cold and abandoned cups of tteok-bokki.
He got up from previously leaning into the lamppost, then dusted off his clothes, and took a deep breath while pressing his own head with the base of his hand. The world finally stopped spinning at last and he released a sigh of relief.
That’s it. Something triggered in him.
Now he knew why he was always thinking of the older man. Now he knew why he hated this feeling like an itch he thought he could relieve only by slapping Yunho. Now he knew why his whole system just could feel Yunho’s presence from radius 500 metres. He knew why everything reminded him of Yunho—why he wanted to kiss the man.
Why Yunho was too fucking familiar.
And why his head spasmed when the man was around.
Kyuhyun didn’t lie, his best friend may be a hello-Devil-sent-me-straight-from-Hell creature but he most unlikely lied to him.
He, Shim Changmin, loved Jung Yunho. The man he vowed to drag to Heaven with him so badly (even if the angels highly doubt the possibilities of that— “Hey!”).
Changmin loved Yunho.
And he was not denying it, not anymore.
‘What a discovery!’ he could hear Kyuhyun taunted him from behind his head. He made a personal note to punch Kyuhyun in the gut as a thanks when he was back.
He was too overwhelmed by the realization and the next thing he knew was that he was already too deep into the park. Yeah, it’s okay, maybe he needs fresh air to clear his head from all of these ... revelation. This was too much to take for his lagging 1 am brain.
His steps kept getting further and halted when he saw a swing, someone he knew all too well was sitting there.
And shit tons of strawberries boxes.
Changmin swore his heart skipped too many beats he could die from insufficient pumping of blood. He didn’t want to die before kissing that man, alright? It’s his dream for now, for eternity. ‘Now beat, heart!’
Changmin stared at the back of the man head, enchanted, his mind was immediately filled with unanswered questions. Why was Yunho here? What was he doing at this hour? Would he throw those boxes to the trash later? (ignore the last, Changmin head couldn’t filters everything out, okay)
But Changmin’s fortune when Yunho was present was always capped at barely lucky (or extremely lucky), the man he was staring at started to bend his neck and now both of them made an eye contact.
Yunho’s eyes were black, there’s exhaustion at the back of that beaming smiles he threw every time, there’s forlornness Changmin was too familiar with, there were many emotions jutting out just from looking at his eyes. He never saw them, never that deep. It’s all different now that he recalled.
Before he realized, his limbs moved on their own accord. Closer to the older man, closer the better. He stood tall in front of him, blocking the lampposts’ lights from reaching the figure sitting on the swing, making sure Yunho could only see him.
When none of them made a sound, Changmin cleared his throat. He made sure his voice was not shaky as he started first, “Hyung.”
Yunho didn’t move much, he kept looking at Changmin from lower angle (Changmin only had so much of self-control). Few seconds later he blinked and decided that their shoes were more interesting than the man towering over him.
He just smiled, without looking at Changmin. What’s terrifying was that Changmin just knew he faked it.
“What are you doing here, Changmin-ah? Come sit,” was the only thing Yunho could say, still not looking at his interlocutors properly. Changmin snorted quietly and sat on the swing anyway.
“Hyung,” Changmin tried again after a silent couple of moments. He chuckled a little when looking at his too long legs on the swing. “You couldn’t sleep.”
“Ah, that obvious?” Yunho asked, rhetorical, not making any movement other than breathing. But what else possibly Yunho did around this hour, on a swing that’s too small for a man in his thirties with a height of six feet?
“I know you well, Hyung ... too well,” he whispered the last words aloud, he knew at least Yunho heard that. “Do you remember how we first met?”
Those statement successfully made Yunho raised his head and stared at him, once again. He paused before saying, “It’s ... it’s when I bumped into you.”
“Yes, you did, you spilled that drink for real,” Changmin added, returning the gaze the man directed at him. “I like the feeling of hot waxes on my skin, but not that hot. You misunderstood that fact, Hyung.”
Yunho widened his eyes, he was clearly surprised. He opened his mouth and closed it again, only to open it again. But no words came out, his tongue froze on him. This time Changmin would laugh if there’s no avions inside his churning insides.
“It’s a shame, I ordered the most expensive hot chocolate they offered,” Changmin huffed like he didn’t say anything wrong, on other hand Yunho still looking at him with wide eyes and mouth agape. Changmin realized that he looked like a bowling ball indeed.
“Changmin ... wasn’t it a coffee?”
Changmin smiled, “No, Hyung. It’s the drink with marshmallow flowers on top. They’re pretty and it was quite cold too, so I spoiled myself.”
The older looked at him like he just grew two heads, confused with furrowed brows and somewhat slightly anxious towards something surreal with a touch of curiosity. “Changmin, a-are you okay? Did I do something wrong?”
“Hyung,” then he wore a small smile over his face to throw at Yunho. A smile that froze Yunho in place and made him stay still for a few minutes before he croaked.
“Gwangju, New Year, three years ago.”
Those words successfully made Yunho stood up suddenly, the swing rattled out loud in the action, and he walked his way to the spot in front of Changmin. The one who sat on swing blinked few times and looked up at him, Yunho opened his mouth and forced his vocal to come out. “Changminnie ... “
“... What do I mean to you?”
Changmin snorted, he was smiling so hard right now, “You’re really giving your Changminnie an easy question and a hard time, huh, Hyung?”
Yunho looked hopeless, he stared at Changmin with eyes full of anticipation—and longing, like he just found something precious he lost for years and he wondered if it’s still his or not. Tremor showered his whole frame and he tried to hide it by tightening the grip of his hands.
The younger stared at him lovingly and pushed the older back a little, making a little space between the man and the swing for him to fit. Changmin then brought up his arms to wrap them around Yunho’s waist and pulled him close to his embrace.
“Like love and war.”
The words whispered like a mantra, for them and only them to chant. The words that they shared with no one other than each other. The words that make Yunho knees felt weak when they reached his ears and recognized by his brain.
He grasped the back of Changmin’s coat because he just needed something to hold onto or because he was simply scared Changmin would perish if he didn’t hold him right now. Maybe both.
“Changmin—Changminnie—“ he could hear Yunho cried, though barely audible. His cheek was wet from the tears that’s not his, though it soon would be stained with his very own. He bit his inner cheek to calm himself down, the anguish he felt right now didn’t match what Yunho had been through. Someone had to be a pillar and the older certainly couldn’t for now.
He pulled back and looked at Yunho's straight in the eyes. He placed one hand to cradle Yunho’s face, shushing him softly along the way. Yunho quietened and let Changmin brush away the tear around his right eye, his heart hurt so much when he saw the older pained look. He could feel Yunho’s second wave of tears threaten to fall again, burning the edge of his puffy eyes.
“It’s almost a year, Changminnie,” Yunho muttered shortly after, voice hoarse and few choked sobs in between. Hearing that, Changmin rubbed circle on the small of the man’s back in hope to soothe him, to chase away the pain. “I thought—I thought I lost you—”
Changmin hushed, cutting him off, thumb pressing the full bottom lips. “Thank you for not giving up on me, Yunho.”
He couldn’t hold it back longer, his own dam broke, lamenting silently. He put his own forehead on Yunho’s, permitting himself to swim around the other’s pair of obsidians. His hand on Yunho’s waist tightened, trying to bring them closer than they already were. He could feel Yunho’s warm palm on his cheek, returning the same gesture as his tears wiped clean. Their noses brushed each other, their breath mingled, and they could count each other eyelashes.
“I’m home,” was the last thing he whispered to Yunho’s trembling lips before he closed his eyes and leaned forward to capture them with his own.
They moved in tandem, lips slotting one another perfectly like two matching puzzle pieces. Hands holding each other face in place, another secured on the shorter's waist and the other snaked around the taller’s spine. It might seem normal, but no one could do that as majestic as the two. Anyone who saw would know they were a pairing made from the Heaven above.
Changmin trailed his thumb over Yunho’s wet skin, the skin he used to caress when the sun peeked from the horizon line. His long strands tickled his whole face like a feather, easing the ache inside his head. He could feel Yunho’s fingers at the back of his neck, demanding narrower space until their teeth clashed, and Changmin found it comforting. It’s healing, it’s a relief, it’s grand luxury, and he wished it wouldn’t end so soon.
He pulled back because he didn’t want to die from the lack of air. One second was enough to take Yunho’s breath away once more, an act of revenge since Yunho stole his for too many times. He made sure there was no gap between them, wouldn’t allow it even an inch, feeling their hearts beat in harmonious staccato.
A year worth of waiting for uncertainty, a year worth of skull-splitting headache. Every suffering they got through became bearable if it’s just for this one moment—a shared kiss under the moonlight. It felt right, it felt like coming home, and they couldn’t ask for more than being united one more time.
Yunho tugged Changmin’s hair gently and Changmin pulled away after nibbling his lower lips. They find each other forehead again and smile cheekily, chuckling at the other antics.