milena_1980: (jaejoong)
[personal profile] milena_1980
Title: Sleeping With Ghosts 21/?
Author: Pandora/[ profile] milena_1980
Rating: NC-17 overall
Pairing: JaeChun (main), YooSu, YooMin, JaeHo, HoMin, HyukSu
Genre: AU, Angst, Romance
Warning: Underage sex (17, but, just to be safe); suicidal feelings; references to substance abuse; self-harm
Summary: Soul mates never die
A/N: A series of connected drabbles/ficlets. Not always in chronological order! Title and lyrics from Sleeping With Ghosts by Placebo

Title: Sight

You'll get over it.

He's sitting alone again (what else is new?) writing, always writing. You're sitting alone, as well—it's lunch hour, but you're not hungry, and your friends, you don't want to be around them anymore. So you choose a quiet corner and rest until it's time to go back to class.

Today, by chance, you end up choosing a spot right across from one Kim Jaejoong.

You haven't spoken since that day you and your girlfriend broke up a couple of days ago, and, for some reason you can't understand, seeing him makes you angry. Otherwise, you haven't thought about him since then, you have ignored his existence, just like you did before then.

Today, however, he's sitting right in front of you. This time, you can't ignore him—you don't think you could walk away right now even if you wanted to.

You'll get over it, he told you that afternoon. You can still hear his voice, soft and almost dreamlike . . . Ah, you can't really explain it, there's no reason why you should, anyway. There he sits, far away from you, in his own world, a world he seems to hide in, where no one else exists. Has he ever let anyone in? You can't help but wonder. Surely, he must have had friends at one point. Maybe he does, and they go to a different school or something, that must be it.

Why are you thinking so hard about this, anyway?

You grab a textbook and start studying (you might as well do something worthwhile), forcing yourself to focus as best as you can. There are rumors about a surprise quiz today in Math, of all subjects. Why couldn't it be English? Or History? Or anything else that isn't Math?

God, how you hate school. You can't wait to graduate and escape this place, even home, if you're lucky. Your parents have your future all planned out: the university you'll go to, what you'll study there, the apartment you'll live in (it belongs to some relative, you're not sure). You're amazed they haven't chosen your future bride and decided on how many grandchildren you have to give them. The thought alone makes you angry and frustrated (because you know that, even if you leave this godforsaken place, you'll probably end up doing whatever they want).

You sigh, your spirits falling further still. No, no giving up, you can escape this. Somehow. You don't want to be here anymore, you want to be as far away as possible from your family (somewhere it doesn't hurt to remember that your family is only a shattered mess). Yes, you'll get away and find happiness on your own.

The ungrateful son, you think. Your parents are so proud of you and your brother, you're not sure why. All right, you have good grades, your teachers have nothing negative to say about you. That's it. How will they feel once you run away from them? Will they still love you? Will they choose to forget your existence? A part of you feels guilty that you hope they'll forget you. You want to be the son they never had.

You sigh, looking down at your textbook. Aren't you supposed to be studying?

I give up, you mutter to yourself, putting your book inside your backpack. Will you ever be able to get rid of this never ending depression?

You shake your head, choosing to forget everything that bothers you. Once you glance at your watch, you get up and walk toward your classroom, leaving your thoughts behind.

Title: Safe

Hey, Yoochun.

It's so early, too early. You're so tired and surely it isn’t time to go to work, yet?

Yoochun, come on! You'll be late!

You start awake, sitting up almost immediately. It's true, you've overslept, ten minutes you need for a quick shower and getting dressed and, damn, you won't have time for breakfast, and you need that meal! Lunch is such a hassle, it's easier to buy a snack bar or something and go on working until it's time to go home.

In all honesty, though, you just want to go back to sleep . . .



You wake up fully and find Jaejoong standing next to you, glaring. What the hell? He's awake before you are? It's almost unbelievable, he's awake—his hair is a bit mussed and he looks a bit sleepy, but who cares?—and standing there, right next to you! Next to the bed! He has never been here before! Or maybe he has been, you don't really remember . . . Or maybe this is a dream?

Please, get up, go shower, I made breakfast. What? He gives you a tired and annoyed look. Last time I'm doing this if you don't get up right now.

Another quick glance at the alarm clock and you've already forgotten all about it. You're already dressed some ten minutes before you need to leave, a miracle in itself, considering the time at which you got up.

When you go to the dining table, though, you have to stop again.

He's sitting there, playing with his breakfast, looking as though he's about to fall asleep right there. Weeks and weeks have passed and he has never been up this early. What in the world is going on? Should you be happy? Scared?

Are you going to eat or not? his voice, which sounds so sleepy and annoyed (not to mention wonderful after his constant silence not that long ago), wakes you from your thoughts and you hurry to your seat. You wish you could talk, if even five minutes, ask how he's feeling, is he less tired? Is he's feeling any better at all? The clock reminds you that you can't, though. you need to be out of there in less than five minutes.

As soon as you're done, you thank him, kissing his cheek, before grabbing your briefcase and hurrying to the elevator.

Once at the office, people stare even as they say good morning, their eyes wide and curious. You can't help it, though: you're so happy, too happy. He was awake at four thirty in the morning! He made breakfast for the both of you!

Most important of all: he's talking to you again.

Someone is in a good mood today, one of your coworkers remarks, stopping by your booth. You shrug.

I am. Why do you look so shocked?

He walks away after talking a couple more seconds. Then it's all about the job.

You call once during the afternoon and Jaejoong's nurse tells you that he has been in better spirits all day. He keeps writing and watching television, as per usual, but he offered to help with lunch today, engaged her in conversation far longer than usual, even took his medication without any fuss.

When the boss has finally left and you're on your way home, it occurs to you that this is all too good to be true.

True, he sat with you two nights ago, the first time in a long while, cuddled up to you. You can still feel how warm his body was against yours, how beautiful the sound of his voice. He kept talking about the TV show, but you weren't watching anymore; the second he sat next to you, there was nothing else. When it comes to him, there is nothing else.

Worry follows you all the way home. You're almost desperate to get there, to see if he's there, and all right, and, god, will this ever end?

you call out as soon as you close the front door. The place is so quiet, almost peaceful you think (save for the thoughts driving you crazy right now). You choose to just walk in. He's here, you know it, you're worrying over nothing.

You find him in the living room, asleep on the sofa. The TV is on, nearly inaudible. Just seeing him lying there, looking so peaceful . . . The pain in your chest finally subsides, you must sit down, you feel so exhausted all of a sudden. And you breathe.

It means nothing, you try to convince yourself, your voice strong in your head. A few changes in his behavior mean nothing, except that he's better. He won't leave again, he'll stay, here, with me. Like he promised.

You sit there and watch him, until you can't anymore.

Title: Whole

I don't know how the two of you do it.

You and Junsu had been sitting together in your living room just a few days ago, hanging out, while Jaejoong slept in the bedroom. You had hoped he would feel well enough to go out on your day off, but, no, he was too tired—that was evident the second he fell asleep against you while watching TV.

How we do what? you had asked in return, looking into his eyes.

Stand to be in the same room, for starters. He furrowed his brow. Changmin and you, how can you spend so much time together? Talk on the phone? Go out to lunch?

You had stared, then shrugged.

The same way you and I do.

But he shook his head as he put his glass of juice on the coffee table.

No. You and I, we didn't live together, we weren't partners for years, he stated. You stared at him as he spoke, dark eyes accusing and even angry. We didn't make a lifelong commitment to each other and our relationship didn't end like . . .

I get it, I get it!
And you did, every last word.

Junsu was right, of course (like he always is). You and Changmin parted because of a number of terrible and painful reasons, in good terms, yes, but . . . How can you still be friends? It seems so natural, so normal, to talk and spend time together, you've never seriously questioned it. You should, though, at least about Changmin. All logic says that he should have hated you, pushed you away and cut you from his life completely. Yet, he didn't. Hasn't.

Right now, in the living room (if it can be called that) of Changmin's (tiny) apartment, and sitting on a dining room chair that had once belonged to both of you, you can't but remember Junsu's words. And wonder yourself.

That day, standing under the rain, you can still remember how he looked at you and how your heart ached when he spoke, his voice laced with so much pain as he told you something you already knew (even if you refused to acknowledge it). You felt guilty, like pure scum (just like you did that first time Jaejoong kissed you after he came back with Yunho), and it hurt, god, it hurt so much to see him like that. As pathetic as it may sound, you had to hide in the bathroom as soon as you got back to the office, you couldn't stop crying. When you think about how you've made him cry so many times, even now, why does he still want you here?

You were sure things would be horribly awkward after that, but Changmin didn't change with you. No, instead, he called a few days later, as if nothing had happened, and asked if you could come over, that he was getting rid of things from your former apartment and maybe there was something you wanted to keep? As an afterthought, he added if you could also help him pack his things in boxes. To say you were surprised would be an understatement. Nevertheless, you said yes.

The fact that Yunho and Changmin talk about their former lovers like it's nothing bothers you still. Who the hell does that? It does make sense that they want to share stories and understand each other better, but the wounds are still open, obviously (yours are still bleeding).

Your thoughts change to Yunho. Does he feel the same way about Jaejoong? God, if he does, and they're spending so much time together, Yunho visits all the time . . . No, you tell yourself, shaking your head, stop torturing yourself!

Thankfully, Changmin returns from the bedroom with another box, so your attention shifts to him. The box falls on the floor with a thud—like the ones before it—and Changmin sits on his knees to open it.

This one is a bit heavy, he says, furrowing his brow in curiosity. I don't even remember it.

As soon as he opens it, though, neither of you can help but stare.

Oh. So, there they are, the CDs you thought you had lost in the middle of moving out. How you had regretted losing them, all the music you had bought. Well, that you had both bought. The two of you share the same taste in music, for the most part, and you got most of these together; they are his as much as they are yours. They're a symbol of your relationship, in a way, one of those things people do when they know they will share their lives and worldly belongings forever.

You should take them. His words take you by surprise. You look into his face at once, try to meet his gaze, but he looks away, beginning to close the box. You should put it in your pile.

It's only then that you finally react.

No, you should keep them. They're yours.

No. They're yours. You bought most of them . . .

They're ours.
He closes his eyes at your words. And I want you to keep them.

Some of those albums, your had listened to them together, quietly (All sweet and romantic. Saps, Hyukjae had teased you once). They were special, yours. Is that why he doesn't want them? They're a reminder?

Changmin finally meets your gaze and you see it. Will you ever stop causing him pain?

Please take them? he asks, almost imploringly. You sigh, nodding yes. He smiles slightly, looking somewhat relieved. He gets up and goes back to the bedroom; you put the box in your pile, with the few things he still had, like the posters. Ah, those silly posters. How old are they now?

Changmin returns, carrying some more books. Soon you'll get up and finish helping, but your back hurts from moving things around, including the furniture. You're sure Changmin must be tired, too, but he doesn't want to rest. No, he wants to be done by tonight, at least with the important things—he's living with Yunho already, but this will make it official. Understandable, isn't it?

He hands you most of the books, puts the rest on the chair next to you.

Explain to me again why the heck I have so many of your books? he asks, looking slightly annoyed. You can't help but be amused, grabbing a book.

Old textbook, you say before throwing it inside a garbage bag. A couple of fiction books, some on business. Oh, a book for learning guitar. You hand it to Changmin. This is yours.

He eyes it and gives it back.

No, it's not. Yours. It's yours? When did you buy this? You shrug it off, though, and continue working.

Some time later—a couple of hours, maybe?—you're sitting on the loveseat (again, another item from your former home), chugging down water like mad. You're both sweating after finally putting everything together to take over to Yunho's. Only the furniture is left (Yunho said he has a friend who will help with that).

He's sweating profusely—he sweats so easily, actually (you always thought it was incredibly attractive)—shirt stuck to his skin. He sounds breathless, too, chest heaving as he breathes through his mouth. You're doing your best not to stare, not to listen, but you can't help it, you keep sneaking glances over and over again; your brain supplies images and sounds from the past. You must close your eyes and breathe, remind yourself that you're with Jaejoong now. It has been so long since you and Jaejoong had sex, that's it, just that. This ridiculous urge to jump him will go away in no time (please).

This feels so unreal, he speaks, interrupting your thoughts (thank God). I'm getting ready to move in with my new partner. And my first partner is the one helping me move. He laughs softly (somewhat bitterly, maybe?), as he turns to look at you. Thanks for helping me out.

You nod, holding his gaze for a moment, but you look away. He doesn't, though—you can see him from the corner of your eye.

How are things with Jaejoong hyung? Changmin doesn't sound bitter anymore when saying his name. Random, you think, but so welcome; you need to think about something else, and your lover, what is better than that?

Better, you admit, unable to suppress a pleased smile. He's talking to me again, for one. Sleeping less, doing other things aside from writing and watching TV.

What is he always writing about, anyway? He seems obsessed.
You can only shrug at Changmin's question.

It used to be scribbles, nothing made sense, you admit. Now it reads as a story, sort of. It's still random. You keep wishing you knew what goes on in his head. Maybe we'll know some day?

He nods.


You sit in silence for a few minutes, when it occurs to you that you haven't asked about Yunho all afternoon. When you look at him, though, you realize he's still staring at you with that something in his eyes. You don't know what to make of it. Maybe you should ask? Does he have something he needs to talk about?

His cell phone rings, suddenly, startling you both. He holds your gaze for a moment, eyes filled with something like regret (and guilt?).

Changmin sighs, picking up the phone. He smiles, suddenly, looking down.

Hey, Yunho. Oh. You sigh, almost relieved that Yunho called when he did. Clearly, spending this much time with Changmin isn't healthy, at all. Yeah, he's here. We've only just finished, about five minutes ago. He pauses. Okay. We'll be here. He laughs, and you must watch him, he's such a beautiful sight.

You sigh, wondering how things are at home. Jaejoong has been by himself all day. Junsu said he would come visit and you hope that he did. The weight inside your left pocket reminds you that your cell phone is there. Yes, you should call home, find out how he is.

Yunho will be over in a bit. He's bringing us food. Changmin smiles and you have to smile back.

He doesn't sit next to you again, just grabs a box and looks inside it, muttering about something he saw earlier.

You grab your cell phone and call home.

4. Excuses

Can I invite you out for a drink? My treat.

The bar is quiet, nearly empty. You really like this place, it's so comfortable, you feel like you could spend hours here and think. Or not think.

I found it a couple of years ago, he told you the first time he invited you there. I like it. Kinda peaceful, isn't it?

Tonight, sitting here with him, you feel anything but peace. You feel strange, guilty, but, why? You haven't done anything to feel guilty about, not concerning Yunho, and yet, you can't stop feeling like you have wronged him somehow.

Thanks for helping with packing and stuff, he says, smiling, hand around his bottle of beer. You smile back, meeting his gaze. Changmin was really happy you agreed to do it. He said there was a lot of stuff from when you lived together and he didn't want to throw anything away without talking to you first.

You avert your gaze and look down. It was hard, being there with your former lover, throwing away things that reminded you of days now past, when you were happy and ghosts stopped haunting you for the first time in years.

He's always so happy when you're around. Yunho sighs, staring down at the table. So damn happy. You don't know what to do or say, so you just sit there, heart beating fast. I don't hate you, though. In a way, I should be thankful things happened the way they did. He snorts softly, but shakes his head. Sorry, I didn't invite you out here to talk about old stuff. Yunho smiles ruefully.

You sip your drink, still looking away. Things have been fine between you, Jaejoong the main link between you. You're friends, you talk on the phone, go out for drinks every once in a while, discuss more things than just Jaejoong. There's rarely any mention of Changmin, though, and you know why. In your opinion, that should never change.

Anyway, he clears his throat. He's all moved in with me. I thought he'd never say yes. He snorts, smiling.

Your persistence paid off, you say, smiling. He loves you, you know.

Yunho meets your gaze and nods.

He does. I know he does. He nods to himself, as if trying to convince himself that it's true. Yunho looks down again. Whether he still loves you or not, I know he does.

You exhale. God, will this never end?

Yunho . . .

But he shakes his head, looking up at you.

I knew he did, I know he does, and I still went after him. I have no right to complain. He shakes his head, snorting softly. I know. It must sound horrible, in a way, and selfish, but I love him, I want to . . . spend the rest of my life with him. And that's all there is to it. He holds his bottle of beer up. Cheers.

Glass clinks against glass and you drink. How is Jaejoong? You wonder, suddenly. He was going out with Junsu, going to the movies, or something like that.

Let him breathe, for God's sake! Junsu complained when you asked maybe five times. He said something quickly just as Jaejoong came into the living room, his jacket on. You gave him a hug and a kiss, and watched them leave, your heart beating a mile a minute. Worrying, like always.

Changmin was furious, you know, when I told Jaejoong about us. You look up, eyes widening in surprise. Have you ever even talked about this before? I told him the same night you . . . found out.

You clear your throat. You don't want to imagine just how angry Changmin must have been, not only because of his personality, but because of how upset he was over everything.

How did he react? Jaejoong? The question has never been answered; you have wondered for so long now. Yunho shrugs.

Like he always did. He was angry, so angry. He sighs, brow furrowing at the painful memory. He flew into a rage, yelled, screamed, threw everything he could get his hands on at me. I didn't stay quiet, of course. It was his fault as much as it was mine. He was unfaithful and I took it like an idiot, I said nothing. And I went to someone else instead of confronting him.

Yunho takes a deep breath and exhales, as if trying to remain calm.

We fought, got to punches, even. We'd never fought physically before, but we were so angry. He makes his hand into a tight fist. Then, he just stopped. He just stood there, like it hurt to breathe. He puts his hand over his heart automatically. He looked hurt, angry, crazy, because he was crazy then, already, just like when I met him. In a second, he was gone out the door, with nothing but the clothes on his back. Yunho sighs. I waited a while and willed myself to calm down. Once I did, I called him. That's when he said he would look for you and stay with you, a lie, obviously. He lies and we always believe him.

Like idiots
, you agree bitterly. You sip on your drink. I wasn't surprised that he disappeared, he always did. Escaping, always escaping. Forgetting that we loved him and would do anything for him.

He nods.

I hated you so much, for years, he says, snorting softly. The admission hurts, though you know it shouldn't—he has every right to. He loved you so much and wanted to be with you so much he was willing to leave everything behind. Yunho exhales, furrowing his brow. What I don't get is, why didn't he stay with you? he asks, meeting your gaze, as if he could find all the answers he needs there.

You shrug, remembering those days so long ago, when you were young, nearly children; that first time you finally found him outside that coffee shop near university; those days just before you met Changmin; the months before he decided life wasn't worth living anymore.

Your guess is as good as mine, you reply. You frown. I was happy for the two of you, you smile slightly, a bit guiltily. I was happy that he found someone who loved him, and someone he wanted to stay with. He smiles, as though your words mean something. I resented you like crazy, though, I won't deny it. He never wanted to stay with me, not until now. And there you were, some guy I'd never even met, holding his hand and kissing him, and receiving all the love and affection I craved so badly. You roll your eyes, annoyed at yourself. It's stupid and immature, and I really wish things had happened differently.

But they didn't. Yunho looks straight at you. It's not stupid or immature. The way he always talked about you . . . He sighs. He regretted leaving you when you were kids. Jaejoong says he felt he had no choice, but he wishes he had stopped and explained, at least. It still kills him to think about all the pain he caused you. He forgets that it wasn't always his fault.

You nod.

I wish I'd known. You sigh. It doesn't really matter anymore, does it? As long as he's here, with the people who love him.

Yunho nods in agreement. The two of you sit in silence, barely hearing the sounds around you, unintelligible conversations, music playing in the background.

Another round? he asks, finally breaking the silence. You nod. He gets up to go to the bar and you watch him walk away.

You sigh, looking around the nearly empty bar. Peaceful, Yunho called it once.

For the first time, you agree.

Title: Heal

He's never coming back.

How long has it been? Ten months? Almost a full year? You never marked that night on your calendar, what for? Why remember the date of the most painful day in your life?

He's gone, maybe dead somewhere, you think while sitting on your bed, knees pulled up close to your chest. You're staring at nothing, just thinking (like always) about the past. It's hard to forget, despite your best efforts; his image, his voice, his touch, you remember them so vividly, as if he had been here yesterday instead of nearly a year ago. Right now, at nearly two in the morning, you can't help but remember.

You were dreaming less than an hour ago, you were going up some stairs, climbing on each step. You couldn't reach the top, it was so far away, but you kept trying, nearly running, desperate to get there. But you never did. When you woke up, your heart racing—as if you had been running for real—you could only think one thing: At least the dream wasn't about him.

It's pathetic, you know it is. Why are you still thinking about him, anyway? You want to erase every memory you have of him: back at school, in the park; out in his car, driving up to the beach at two in the morning, the radio on, always the radio. You hate this room, this place where you spent countless days together, his voice so soft and beautiful as he spoke or sang or . . . No, you don't want to remember.

He's never coming back, you remind yourself once again, closing your eyes tight. It's the only thing you can do now (before, you thought life wasn't worth living if he wasn't in it; how you wished for everything to end), convince yourself that it's time you finally let go. No matter how much it hurts.

You grab a notebook and write, write and write, every feeling that has been haunting you for months, everything you haven't been able to say or express in any way—because you have no one, he was your only friend, your everything. What did you need anyone else for?—words and words appearing on paper, a mess of nothing and everything.

Four pages later, you stop. Four pages. You stare down at them, at your writing. Have you really just written all that? Why can't you remember anything you put there?

Unimportant, you decide, ripping the pages from the notebook. You glance at them once again, but you don't read. Instead, you fold them in half, then again, until you're holding a perfect square. You get up and grab the candle you keep in your room (in case there's a power outage, it doesn't hurt to be prepared) and grab your lighter (nicotine addiction, at least he left something for you to remember him by). It looks so pretty, you think, staring at the flame as you place the candle on the candle holder. The fire almost hypnotizes you, and you would welcome it, except you have something to do.

You glance at the folded pages again, the pain in your chest subsiding somewhat, and almost completely, when you hold them over the flame. Something makes you stop, though, you hold the pages close to your chest, it's so painful, you can't do it!

So pathetic, you think, angry with yourself even as tears slide down your face. Somehow, you muffle every sob, until the tears seem to run out, your chest heaving and aching.

I can do this, you tell yourself, your voice hoarse in the silence of your bedroom.

You take the folded pages and hold them over the flame. This time, you don't hesitate, you watch as the fire burns brighter, taking the edge first. You let the papers fall on the base of the candle holder, and you watch, your heart beating painfully in your chest.

This was supposed to help you heal, how many times haven't you read that? Right now, you wonder when and how.

You blow out the candle and place it back. Then, you go back to bed, holding on to your pillow.

Sunrise catches you staring up at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep.

Title: Box

. . . would like to invite you to the wedding of their daughter Kim Saemi to Park Yoohwan . . .

You stare at the delicate white and lilac wedding invitation, elegant black writing with silver accents jumping at you. It's beautiful, this card you're holding, so fitting for Kim Saemi—she seemed so pretty and delicate sitting next to your brother that night at dinner. You stare at it, and your heart aches, like it always does when you think of your brother.

What is that? You look up to find Jaejoong coming into the room. He sits next to you on the bed, glancing at the card curiously.

Invitation to my brother's wedding. You place it on the bed, next to you.

Oh. When is it? He reaches for it, dark eyes scanning the card.

In two months or so. It doesn't matter. I'm not going. You get up from bed, starting to take off your clothes (you only just got back from work to find the envelope waiting for you), not even bothering to toss them into the hamper.

What? Why not? Jaejoong sounds incredulous. He's your only sibling!

You shrug.

So? He snorts in disbelief.

So you fucking adore him! I remember, at school, you wouldn't shut up about him sometimes. You think he sounds just a tad jealous, though you choose to keep quiet. So? Yoochun? You are going, right?

You turn around and glare at him. He doesn't want me there! The thought brings tears to your eyes; you hate yourself for it. Whatever did you do to deserve his contempt?

Oh, come on, I doubt it. Jaejoong is so certain, but he doesn't know, he doesn't understand.

You weren't there the last time I saw him, Hyung. You sit on the bed, sighing. I can't pretend things aren't what they are.

He huffs, moving closer to hug you. You hug back, needing the reassurance. It's so wonderful to feel him like this, so warm and close, no distance of any kind between you. Holding on to him like this, you could almost pretend everything's all right with the world.

Yoochun . . . He sighs. Look, just show up. You can leave after that. That's what I did for my sisters' weddings, and they really didn't want me there. He snorts derisively. Think of your mother, though. Won't she be sad if you don't go?

You sigh, hating that he's right. Your mother will be so hurt and disappointed if you don't go.

You're right. Painfully so. Mom, she's reason enough.

He doesn't let go; neither do you. The room is so quiet, except for the sound of your breathing. How long has it been since you've been just like this, arms around each other, chest to chest? You can't get enough of his scent, of his warmth, how he feels in your arms. He's so thin, still, but he's better, stronger. And he's here, with you.

He sighs, starting to pull away


You let go and nod, your stomach growling at the mere thought of food. He smiles happily and gets up.

Shower, and then we can have dinner and watch TV or something! He looks so . . . happy. You stare, surprised. What the hell are you waiting for?

You note his incredulous tone, but then you focus on getting clean clothes out and grabbing your towel. He hums a song as he walks away, but you push it out of your thoughts. Jaejoong is happy, that's all it is.

He takes it upon himself to get your things ready for the wedding. He convinces Heeyoung to go out together and buy several things, among them a card for the wedding gift. You find yourself with a new suit, too elegant and expensive for you, you think—and all the while you keep wondering where the heck all this money is coming from. Jaejoong has no access to your accounts, he asked you to give him an allowance some time ago. Where did he get the money to pay for everything?

We saw some awesome shoes, too! We need to go to that store, soon. He sounds so much like his old self, adolescent Jaejoong who loved to go window shopping and drool over things he couldn't have. By the way, how much are you planning on giving them as a gift? I'm making a list of all the stuff you have or still need.

You shrug, trying to shake away every negative thought. There's a notepad on his lap filled with what look like scribbles (your eyes hurt from reading all day, it hurts to watch TV, even; no way you can read at this distance). The TV's on mute—is it a drama? Eh, you don't really watch anything specific lately—and you're sitting on the sofa together, your arm around his shoulders, struggling to stay awake.

Yoochun? He looks at you questioningly. A number? Your brother? Wedding?

Oh, right. Uh.
You think and end up suggesting a rather high amount of money. Jaejoong raises his brow in surprise.

Wow. I wish I had a brother as generous as you. He jots the number down and it's the last you talk about it. His comment only reminds you of your questions regarding his financial situation. Should you ask?

Hyung, how did you pay for the suit? He looks up abruptly, and looks down just as fast, pretending to be checking each item again. It was expensive. Wasn't it?

What does it matter?
He shrugs. I wanted to give you the suit, I bought it, it's there, all shiny and pretty. Jaejoong laughs, looking at you. Stop worrying. He goes on to the next item.

You nod, trying to smile in agreement. Inside, though, your heart is racing, you can barely breathe and you are filled with fear and dread.

It's nothing, you think to yourself. He's better, so he's . . . being like he is, his true personality. There's nothing wrong with that.

However, as you listen to him, at the sound of his voice, as you watch just how ridiculously happy he seems, you can't but wonder, over and over. You take a deep breath and force yourself to calm down.

Everything is fine. Everything . . .

tbc . . .

<<Part 20 | Part 22>>
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