Author: wild_terrain (ie. fi_chan)
Banner (Made beautifully by love_cassiopeia):
Genre: AU [FLANGST, mystery, spirituality, romance]
Summary: Philophobia… The fear of falling in love or being in love. I didn’t know such a thing existed until I met him… Kim JaeJoong was my age—a youthful 25 years—and the owner of a popular café, yet he was already known around town as the mysterious hermit who had chosen to completely withdraw from the world. How on earth could someone so young be afraid of loving others to the point of secluding themselves from all human beings? What was he afraid of? What was he hiding? I just didn’t understand it. And by that stage, the need to understand it was all I could think about... In fact, he was all I could think about…
Jung Yunho… For all of my life I had grown up away from the limelight. I couldn’t stand being noticed by anybody, and for a long time I thankfully never was. But then you came and suddenly you were everywhere – waving to me as I swept the café after closing, saying hello to me as you cycled past the bench I was sitting on, helping me carry my groceries inside whilst talking non-stop to me as if we were actually friends… Why are you always around making my heart thump erratically? Why do you even care? The more you try to explore this town, the more I need to step up and protect you from your own curiosity, because I know It is out there and I know It wants to harm you…
Trailer: CLICK TO WATCH~~
Beta = moon1084 <3
A/N: Omgaaah, it's been so long that I've been able to do this that LJ even changed the icons on the posting page. I felt like such a newbie trying to figure out what image represented the old features lollls. I'm very sorry for the hiatus my mental block caused, but I'm back in the saddle now and I hope you guys enjoy the rest of the story. (Thanks also to my beta for making sure I don't lose the plot...unintended pun there lols) ^_^
LET'S REFRESH OUR MEMORIES:
I know it's been a while so just to refresh your memories, last chapter Yunho made it to the hospital to visit JaeJoong five days after the beach incident. There were lots of hugs and then some incriminating photos were taken of Yunho's elmo boxers... =P
Yoochun and Yunho took me home on Friday afternoon. I couldn’t say I was going to miss that place—distress and sadness had dominated my stay—yet I still had mixed feelings about leaving the safety of that limbo land. Back home would lead to responsibilities and tough decisions, but also a warm bed that was mine. I didn’t have a choice either way. So back home, I was led.
Like a bodyguard, Yunho stuck close and as the townspeople came up to me to welcome me back and make sure I was okay, I felt Yunho’s gaze on my face. At the slightest hint of discomfort from me from the attention I was receiving, Yunho would help steer me away until we made it up the stairs to my living quarters.
On the way over, both of us had avoided looking past the park where a part of our nightmares may have still lingered. It was strange being back here with him, with neither of us mentioning the elephant in the room. It had been this time last week, after all, that bad things had happened to both of us. Things didn’t quite feel the same anymore and it only made it worse that we were trying so hard to pretend that everything was normal.
Then small talk ran out and we were left sitting in silence. I unpacked my bag and Yunho looked out the window—or at me. It was always one or the other.
The day went by just like that. Silence. No shared eye contact. No meaningful conversations.
Every now and then I’d sneak a look at him as he sat on a chair by the window and gazed out of it. I felt strange but I couldn’t name why. I felt lonely but that didn’t make sense. Yunho was here. I told myself at the hospital that everything felt fine when Yunho was near but back here that meant nothing. There was nothing to talk about even though there was everything to talk about.
Why couldn’t we talk? Why couldn’t Yunho talk? For as long as I had known him, he had had a problem with knowing how to stop talking. The time I needed him to talk though, he was silent. At this point, I would have even welcomed those old ramblings he used to make about Cinderella and sewing machines. Anything to hear his voice.
I don’t know why I couldn’t talk. Because I was scared of what I’d say? If I opened my mouth, would I break up with him? I had told Yoochun I might if he ever came back here. If he left the safety of the city to come back, I promised myself I’d push him away.
Right now I couldn’t though. He looked so…wrong. If I were to make him leave now, it would just feel wrong. I couldn’t do it when he looked so sad.
I had not been mistaken in the hospital when I let out a part of my soul to Yoochun. Yunho really wasn’t right. And he hadn’t been for a long time. That bubbly, happy-go-lucky man who talked in my ear all day long and tried to make me laugh was gone. It had been such a slow process that I hadn’t noticed it quick enough. It was all around him. It stole his words and dulled his whole aura.
If I did break up with him and let him go back to the city, would it be enough to help him or was it too late now?
I looked away from him and down onto the bed sheet beneath my legs. Could I just run away from this place? Grab Yunho’s hand and just…run? Find some part of the world where it was quiet and sunny and we could just be? Somewhere It couldn’t find us? I just wanted to hold him and feel his warmth around me and kiss him and never let go.
But I didn’t. I sat in the silence and watched his silhouette still sitting by the window.
A few hours passed and a strong wind started battering the trees and rattling my windows. Yunho was sitting on the edge of my bed, crossed-legged and curled inwards as he stared down at the phone in his head. I wasn’t sure what he was reading but occasionally he pressed down on buttons and the phone would make a soft buzzing sound.
I stepped up to my window and drew my curtains to block out the sight of the dark clouds that were hovering out to sea. With clouds that dark and wind this strong, I was betting it wouldn’t be a pleasant night. The rain and potential storm cell would probably hit us by early night but under my blankets they would do no harm.
After the dinner I spent the evening carefully preparing whilst Yunho stared at his phone, we said goodnight to each other and both slipped into my bed. The first drops of rain hit the roof and the windows then. The wind was still strong and I had to get up to close the window and stop the wind from rushing through the crack and making creepy sounds.
Still, the music of the rain was far from the unpleasantness it represented. It was nice not to have the room so silent. We listened for a long time to the gentle pitter-patter of the melody as it danced around the bass of the waves rumbling against the shore. We both fell asleep listening to it.
Then a loud bang sounded and woke me up with a start. It didn’t sound like thunder though. The room was still quite dark and I felt the mattress shift beside me. A quick glance showed me Yunho slowly rising onto his elbows, squinting through one eye and looking as half asleep as I was.
“I think a bird hit the window…” I murmured once my brain started ticking fast enough to be of use.
“Ah,” Yunho nodded, rubbing at one of his eyes. “Kinda makes your head feel sore just imagining it…” He looked over at me and then down at my body. “Cover hog!” he exclaimed. His arms whipped out to tug the duvet over his side and I sheepishly let him. “Lordy, no wonder I was dreaming about shopping for meat.”
I let out a laugh at the absurdity of that statement and looked at him expectantly for a further explanation.
“Oh, you know,” he said with a smile, “the cold section at the supermarket. I couldn’t decide between steak and ribs and the indecision was freezing my bones.”
“Sorry,” I grinned.
“Yes,” he teased. “I don’t even like supermarkets.” Even though he was already safe back under the covers I’d kept warm for him, he kept on wriggling. Then I felt his arm press into mine. And then his torso.
“Come for a cuddle?” I guessed.
“Come to rid my hypothermia.”
“That’s a bit of an exaggeration…”
“I was at the meat section, JaeJoong. The meat section.”
I chuckled and put my arms around him as he lay his head near my shoulder.
“What time is it?” he yawned.
“My guess would be nearly dawn.”
I felt him nod and then give a kiss to my shoulder. I looked down at him in surprise. As I took in the sight of him with closed eyes, snuggling into me with the occasional gentle kiss, my breath paused. He was such a beautiful person.
I rolled onto my side and, in a whim, touched his face. His eyes had just started to slowly open when I bent down. We kissed slowly; the slightest of movement at first and then something more. I cupped his face and gently tried to lead him up to lie over me but he resisted. I paused for a second but his kisses were no less earnest than any other time so I soon forgot about his tension and settled for staying on my side to kiss him. His hands slipped down from my cheeks and disappeared under the covers to grab my sides and guide me on top of him instead.
My body shivered as his warm hands caressed my back over my long-sleeved nightshirt and then slipped under the old material to stroke me more intimately. My body shivered at his touch as it always did and suddenly the clothing covering my body began to irritate my skin. Before I could completely start to lose my mind, I reached behind me to start pulling my shirt up. Yunho felt my movement and arched up to pull it the rest of the way over my head.
There was enough light in the room to see the look he was giving me in that moment. There was a hell of a lot more shine in his face than there had been last night. He wanted me. And not physically. He wanted all of me. The parts that found it hard to voice feelings, the parts that were dark, the parts that loved him—he wanted all of it.
I bent down to extract the same from his lips. Nothing mattered anymore but him—his warmth, his shallow breathing, the slight stubble on his chin, the softness of his lips and the moisture that my kisses left on them. I suddenly wasn’t worried about anything. His heart still beat under my body and he still clearly loved me. The silence wasn’t important—this…this was what was important.
My thumb brushed the edge of his forehead and disappeared into his hair. It didn’t matter how short Yunho cut his hair, it would always feel soft beneath my fingers. I let the short strands run between the cracks of my fingers and felt the shiver it sent down his body. He kissed me harder and I groaned as his hands moved up from my shoulder blades and slid up my neck and over my nape. He collected most of the strands of my hair on his journey and setting off a similar shudder down my own body. I could feel the fire light up my nerves as it travelled all the way down my back.
His fingers continued to move through my thicker hair and brushed over my scalp. My hips bucked into him in response to his magic and I had to pull away from our kiss to gasp for a little bit of air. He left little kisses on the edge of my lips and across my jaw. I ducked my head again and captured his mouth again.
One of his hands had left my hair and was trailing beautiful lines down my back. The bare skin there tingled and I almost whimpered into his mouth. Such gentle hands… How had I survived the week without them?
I let my hands travel through his hair with one last stroke and then disappear below me to touch his stomach where part of his shirt had risen up. This time I felt him shudder harder as both of my hands ran up his chest in parallel synchronization below his clothing. He panted a little louder underneath me and the sounds were glorious.
The tips of my fingers curled over the slight rise of his nipples and I forced his shirt up with one hand until my tongue could run over the pebbled flesh. He wriggled beneath me with a set of breathy moans. As stimulated as he was, it was a fair bet that I was actually enjoying it even more. Yunho made me feel so alive. And when we were touching each other like this, I felt like the twenty-five year-old I would have been had I been a normal boy.
I continued to gently suck each of his nipples as I listened to the music of his shallow breathing. I ran my tongue over the delicious rise of skin in a tender swirl. I tried to be as gentle as I could so as not to hurt him even though my teeth were itching to graze the sensitive peaks and suck them harder until he was really arching underneath me.
My hand slipped easily into his pants whilst he was distracted by my tongue and I felt the hard flesh barely contained in there warm my palm. One touch of my fingertip against his erection and he was mine. I controlled his breath and his movement. My perch on top of him didn’t help my greed. I had him trapped below me and it felt wonderful.
He struggled to pull the rest of his shirt off whilst I played with the tip of his erection and I took a moment to kiss the bottom of his neck across to his collarbones. The slight shift of bodies had our bare chests touching and the heat of his skin almost startled me. I don’t know what I had been expecting but it hadn’t been that much heat. Was it still the final days of winter outside my window?
Our lips met again in a hurry and I realized how much easier it was to show him my feelings this way. Both of us were wounded right now in ways hard to talk about out loud and it made my heart hurt but it was also what made this so important. I needed the world gone so I could be with Yunho. And right now his skin—so tan and soft against my belly—was thrilling but also comforting.
A slight adjustment of bodies gave us enough room to wriggle out of our pants and for me to reach into my draw to pull out the tube of lubricant. I settled back onto him and pulled the cover over us again to keep in the warmth that had been born between us. I ran my hands up his bare arms and leaned down to kiss beneath his jaw. His hands found my back again and stroked me in gentle, loving caresses. It felt like we were even closer under the encompassing blankets that sheltered us.
“Please…” I murmured, rubbing my cheek against his and trying to settle down my shallow breathing. “Please let me feel you inside me.” I turned my head to kiss his cheek. “Please… Inside me… So I can…”
He stopped my words with a soft kiss. When he broke away he had the tube of lubricant in his hands and then slick fingers brushed between my cheeks and slid against the bundle of nerves hidden there. The ring of muscle twitched as one finger gently slid through and my head bowed in a silent moan. My eyes were closed when the second finger slid in beside the first. He gently stretched me and the movement teased my opening until I was fighting the urge to move with him. I couldn’t be greedy. His fingers were not the only thing I wanted. The third slipped in and I had to calm my breathing. My backside was already throbbing for him to completely slide into me but I didn’t want to rush his arousing finger work.
My ring quivered when everything slid out of me and left me empty. I waited for him to coat his member with more lubricant with my eyes closed. The throbbing only intensified in that wait.
His hands curled around my waist and my eyes slowly opened. I stared down at his face and the expression he wore as his fingers stroked my skin. I couldn’t look away. Then his hands slowly slid up my sides and I tried not to let my eyes slip shut as his he tickled all of the tiny hairs in his path under his palms. I leant forward so his hands could continue their journey over my shoulder blades until I could feel his breath close to my lips.
A moan slipped out into his kiss as I felt the teasing throb of my member as it rubbed against Yunho’s. I could feel him trembling ever so slightly at the contact and the mutual pleasure was comforting.
My Yunho felt so warm and tangible; I couldn’t stop my hips from moving and rubbing myself against him further.
“Yunho…” I whispered against his lips as my hips moved again.
His fingers stroked my back and I heard him murmur something inaudible into our kiss.
I debated for a short moment whether to prompt him to repeat himself but then one of his hands slid up my nape and into my messy hair again and my mind was wiped of any thoughts that were too complicated and not about pleasure. I didn’t even mind that he had prolonged the push of his erection into my body for the sake of more touching.
I listened to the sounds of our kisses and tried to keep breathing. It was getting progressively harder to control my breaths. My mind was so murky and distracted by contentment that I kept forgetting to breathe. My heart started racing at the feeling of air running out and I almost pushed him away as ocean filled my vision.
Yunho gave me one more kiss and then slowly moved away. “You okay?”
I stared down at him and his questioning eyes and felt a small smile appear. “Yeah,” I breathed, brushing my thumb over his cheek. “Bad memories. And memories I want instead…”
He stared up at me silently and I smiled a little more and gave him another quick kiss. “I want you.” My thumb ran over his cheek again. “I really want you.”
“I want you too,” he said softly. His hands loosened around my back as I pushed myself up again and moved forward, rearranging our bodies until I could feel the tip of his member teasing the ring of muscle that so desperately needed him.
Thick heat pushed into me and two worlds collided. It was sensory overload. I only half heard the cry that escaped me in that moment.
There was so much that remained unsaid between us but where words failed us our bodies took over. It was a relief that we still had this physical connection. His hard flesh was deliciously warm inside me and he brushed against the walls of my heart. Our connection was no longer just physical. Gateways reopened inside my stretched flesh and everything came rushing back. The wetness of the lube and our sweat were tears of the body, a detox for all the harmful things we had kept locked inside.
I felt like I could tell him anything in that moment. I could tell him how incredibly happy I had been before the foundation of everything I had tried so hard to rebuild had crumbled away beneath my feet and pulled me towards my brother’s grave.
I could tell him how terrified I had been…
At first I hadn’t understood what had been happening to me but then after a moment of struggling, I had just known that I might never see what was above the surface ever again. The invisible hands that had appeared around my feet had terrified me. I couldn’t fight against them. My instincts were to yell but I was punished by water flooding my lungs and choking me. The blind terror had kept me fighting for a moment. The only thought in my head then had been: I don’t want to die.
But I had been. Dying. It had been killing me and my body had hurt. My arms had burned and my lungs have burned even more. It all hurt so much my mind started switching on and off.
I don’t want to die.
Yunho’s hands brushed across my forehead and my body jerked forward with a second whimper. I hadn’t even noticed our bodies had stopped rocking until I realized the caress of Yunho’s fingers was the only contact I could feel. I opened my eyes and looked down at his sweaty face.
I felt a little stupid then. The memories I hadn’t let myself think about until now had been wrapped up so tightly with my terror, but now that they had sprung loose the terror felt stale. It had once been real but now… Now, I felt less and less of it, like being startled by a jack-in-the-box once and then calming down and understanding everything.
Time had stopped for me in the water and I had died. It sounded awful but it was the truth. I had died. But I was alive now. The man I had tried so hard to push away from my life had found my body and pulled me up to the surface where air slammed back into me under professional hands.
It had killed me—and failed. What exactly, I asked, could It do to me now? I had reached the worst-case scenario. The thing I had been so scared of happening had finally happened and I had stumbled through a loophole.
I felt a smile gracing my face as I looked down at Yunho. I gave a little shake of my head at his furrowed brows and concerned eyes and then rolled my body down over his hard member again. Oh god, that felt good.
I let my eyes close and my head fall back a little as I kept up the rhythm and waited for Yunho to adapt to it. When he did a new burst of something amazing shot through me and I cried out again. That spot was perfect. He was hitting it all right and I could feel it almost reverberating through my whole body.
I tried not to let all that stimulation distract me from the conclusion I had been so close to arriving at and used the rhythm of our bodies to give my mind a beat to focus on. Yes, I felt good. Sex had always been an infallible refuge for me but what I was feeling right now wasn’t limited to this brief escape. Yes, I was reaching that critical point of absolute bliss that would push me over the edge into my orgasm, but there was something else there that was coming with it.
Another kind of release.
A new freedom.
I wanted to shout out my victory over that curse that had personally chased me for more than half of my life. I wanted to yell with all of the air in my lungs that It had tried to steal and shove that very irony in Its face. You had your chance. But you failed. My smile widened. My boyfriend was too good for you. So you can just… I grinned until it hurt. You can just go and fuck off!
Yunho’s hips rolled with mine to create another little piece of heaven and my head fell back further in a louder moan.
Yes, fill me up, Yunho, I almost wanted to beg. Fill my body with more life, more power, more you, more everything.
Where water had once filled my lungs, I could now feel constant bursts of lovely air. Pants. Moans. Happiness. I felt so light—as light as the touches Yunho gave to my waist, his fingers skimming over the slippery, sweaty skin as our bodies rocked.
Our hips moved together faster and my pants filled my ears with each roll of our bodies. I cried out again as someone’s hand—Yunho’s—curled around my hard member. He started pumping it in time with our rocking and a whimper escaped at the sight of my pre-cum smearing over his fingers.
“Oh, god, Yunho, you—I… Oh god, yes. Please. Mm.”
He pushed into me fast and satisfyingly. My blood was racing and my breath was leaving me for all the right reasons. Then it came. I sung out with my new body as beautiful white surrounded me and my transformation was complete.
Yunho was trembling beneath me and I tried not to collapse onto him until he was ready for me. His head was thrown back into the pillows and for a moment his beautiful golden neck exposed all of itself to me. The bits of white haze that had clouded my vision lifted and I stared down at his shining skin in wonder. He looked so beautiful as his orgasm swept him up. His hair was all messed up from rubbing against the pillow and his eyes were clenched shut below furrowed brows. He almost looked like he was about to cry, but I knew it was all from joy.
Whilst this man, my Yunho, was in my body and I covered him with my warmth, we felt the same emotions. It’s how I knew without a doubt how much love brewed between us. The utter relief and joy warmed my body and the warmth only spread further as I gently lowered myself onto Yunho’s torso. He had stopped heaving now and his chest settled down into irregular but calm breaths.
I was so spent I could barely move anymore. I nestled my head against his neck and used the last of my energy to lay a soft kiss there. His arms came to life and curled ever so slightly across my back in a loose but possessive hug. I didn’t think the smile would ever leave my face.
How long had we spent making love together? I could hear the café door closing behind my manager already. It was time for the café to start coming to life. We really had lost track of time. I didn’t care at all. It felt like forever since we had napped in the early morning sunlight together. I sleepily nuzzled my nose against his neck one more time for effect.
It was a shame that I had drawn the curtains last night because a bit of morning light flooding the room would really have finished off the feeling that I was in heaven. I reveled drowsily in how light my body felt against Yunho and how soft the mattress was under my exhausted body before I let my mind finally switch off.
I woke up to gentle fingers stroking my hair. There were some subtle tingles as the tips of fingers touched my scalp and then slid down slowly with care and affection. The massage was a heavenly thing to wake up to but very counterproductive. It was making me drowsy all over again. After spending all those days confined to a hospital bed, the last thing I wanted was to remain lying down as the day played out around me… But it was Yunho. His touches were always glorious and when he played with my hair with such gentleness and open adoration I really couldn’t move.
So I indulged in this laziness. Whether he knew I was awake or not, he never stopped; never tired of caressing my hair and the side of my face.
Downstairs I could hear cutlery being used even. Creating that new role of café manager had turned out to be the best decision I had made. The man had proved trustworthy with the spare key to the café and proved responsible enough to open everything up before the rest of the staff arrived. He was happy with a lot more money and Café JaDe got all the care and attention it deserved whilst my fluctuating daily life disrupted my duties (code: I could have morning sex and not worry about losing business). This new arrangement meant relinquishing some of the tight control over the café but on days like today it was all worth it.
I smiled and tipped my head ever so slightly to lay a soft kiss on Yunho’s shoulder. Arms instantly wrapped around me. I was almost sorry I hadn’t given away that I was awake sooner—until I remembered his massage and how good it had felt. Nope, there were no regrets.
I smiled wider and opened my eyes just in time to see his face moving close to mine. I wasn’t sure if it was the laziness or some innate sense but as I kissed him, my lips moved as slowly as his fingers had through my hair. It seemed to be exactly what he wanted as well. Our mouths didn’t even open up until a good deal later. By then his hands were in my hair again and I feared I’d never make it out of bed at all today.
The muted sounds of cutlery being used downstairs must have stirred my subconscious into action because the more I kissed Yunho, the hungrier I suddenly became. Now that I was home, I’d be able to eat my own food and not that horrid sample of tasteless and barely edible stuff I’d had to eat all week in hospital. The thought of my own food was almost as exciting as it was having Yunho here with me all day.
“Mm…food,” I mumbled against Yunho’s jaw.
“Food?” he echoed softly. There was slight amusement there.
“Yup. Food. We need breakfast. Definitely. Good food.”
“Okay.” Yunho kissed my forehead and then pulled away from me.
I let my body have a well-deserved stretch and sat up, pushing my messed up hair away from my face. My eyes flashed to the kitchen but ended up back on the man lying in my bed. It was almost impossible to look away from him when he was looking so adorable lying against the pillow with his short locks flattened in one direction near the top of his head whilst the rest of his head was in disarray. I titled my head—I had to admire the handiwork of my fingers last night and this morning.
“I’ll go first then,” I mumbled, still distracted by his sex hair.
I smiled at how big and innocent his eyes looked at that moment. “The shower. I’ll go first and then get started on breakfast.”
“I want to help you.”
“You can. I’ll doubtlessly still be making it when you’re finished with yours.”
“I want to help for the whole thing,” he clarified, starting to sit up.
“That’s very sweet but I’m not letting you near food until you’ve showered.”
I smiled and held up my hand to stop his complaint. “If you really want to assist me that badly then you go shower first if you don’t trust I’ll start without you after my shower.”
He was silent for a moment and then, “We could…”
“Go together?” I tried not to laugh. “We’d never leave. I don’t fancy prune hands when I am chopping up vegetables.”
He looked a little disappointed and I had to bite the inside of my lip to stop the smile that wanted so badly to explode. I picked up his hand, stroked his palms for a moment and then lifted it to my lips for a quick kiss. “Off you go.”
He scrambled up out of bed and shuffled away towards the bathroom. I was really glad his back was turned because this time I couldn’t stop the grin on my face as I got a better look at the patch of his hair that was still ridiculously flattened.
As he walked further away, I tried not to stare too long at the tanned back that reached muscled buttocks. I had woken up in the Garden of Eden, for godsake.
I heard the splash of water and I hurriedly hopped out of bed to slip on some underwear. I sauntered over to my window with just a hint of pain between my legs and opened up the curtains. The weather didn’t look too bad considering the rain we’d had over night.
I leaned my hip against the windowsill and looked further out at the patches of sun warming the ocean. The waves weren’t quite sparkling out to sea but once more cloud broke away they doubtlessly would.
I slid part of the window open and let the cool breeze hit my face. It soothed me but I realised I already felt great. Aside from the bruises over my chest, I felt perfect. Still light. That dashed a line right through the concern that it had only been the sex that had made the weight disappear from me. Sex was a powerful thing—it was almost alarming how easy it was to lose control of yourself and your environment when in the middle of it. I didn’t know what sex was like with other people, but having it with Yunho was dangerous if you needed to maintain coherent though. Dangerous in a wonderful way though. In the past, I was wary of losing that control—I always needed to be on my guard in case It attacked. But now...
I grinned again into the open air. Now it was just wonderfully dangerous. I didn’t feel like I needed to be on my guard anymore. I felt much safer, more in control. How else could I explain this if not really being free from the danger of It? It seemed I really had outrun It with that marvelous loophole.
I couldn’t even remember the last time I felt so light, so confident, so unburdened. Never would I have thought I’d be able to outrun the curse. It had cost me my life as expected, but as horrifying as it had been to drown, at least I had a new life now. I was Its last victim, Its sole survivor. No one else would have to suffer like I had because no one had gone to that island for a very long time—and as long as Yoochun and I kept an eye out, no one would in the future either.
I wasn’t sure if it was my imagination, but the water connecting each island outside my window looked…almost brighter. Maybe now that It had taken Its revenge on me, It too had found peace and settled back down to the calm state It had been in before Damien and I had disrupted It. The islands looked so pretty now. I could look at them without any sick pangs plaguing my chest. This was fantastic.
I turned away from the window and surveyed my flat. My smile faded as I felt a strange twinge in my chest. Yes, things were fantastic, but…something wasn’t right. I leaned back against the wall by the window and glanced around the room. Something definitely didn’t feel right. It was a little messy and dusty, but no, that wasn’t it...
I eyed the bag I had brought back from the hospital. I had been there for a week. I been alive in my revived body for over a week but it had only been last night that I’d felt so free. That did not make sense. If ‘dying’ temporarily and then being reborn meant I had found a loophole with the curse, why hadn’t I felt instantly perfect like I did now?
Maybe it was a transition period. I’d been cursed for so many years that it took a while for me to disappear from Its radar. Or it could have been the depressing atmosphere at the hospital. Loneliness away from Yunho and concern about our future had a similar effect to feeling heavy and cursed. The shock of the drowning wouldn’t have helped either. I may have been reborn but I still had memories that were none too pleasant. Memories that I hadn’t let myself properly deal with until last night when I was protected by Yunho’s body. It had been accepting those memories of dying that had opened my eyes up to the loophole and pushed the last bits of the curse from my body (as much as It probably wished to remain there, the evil fucker).
It was no wonder then that it had taken my mind so long to catch up to reality—it had been so preoccupied with all the anxiety over Yunho’s absence. The mind was often the last one to know—and Yunho was a prime example of that. It had taken my mind forever to even admit that I was in love with Yunho even though the rest of me had already known it. When my mind caught up with the rest of my body, it would hopefully accept my freedom from the curse too.
I let out a long exhale and closed my eyes to rid myself of any lingering negative energy. My heart beat a little faster when a tiny bit still remained lodged in me. Even though the curse seemed to have left me alone, had it damaged me? After ten years of Its threat, I wouldn’t be surprised if It had.
The sound of a door opened and my eyes did the same. I watched a very wet and very naked Yunho wander back into the room with a blue towel flung across his shoulders. What a perfect distraction.
He caught me looking at him and smiled. “See anything you like?”
“I see a lot,” I grinned and pushed myself off the wall to join him by the bed.
“Good to know.”
I smirked and pulled the towel from his shoulders and dropped it onto the bed before sliding my arms around his shoulders instead. Our faces were nice and close and I took the chance to lean forward and plant a few kisses on his mouth. Our chests pressed together and I could feel how damp his still was. I craved that clean feeling too.
“I need that shower, gorgeous man,” I said. “Won’t be long.” He nodded and picked the towel back up to start drying his hair. I could feel him watching me until I blocked his view with the door. He’d been doing that a lot more lately. I wasn’t sure if I liked that or felt embarrassed.
I had my shower and slipped the fresh pair of underwear I’d been wearing back on. I gave my hair a quick ruffle with my towel but it was too thick to dry much. I gave up and let it sit as it was. I had more important things to do with my time.
Yunho turned around at the sound of the bathroom door opening. He looked over at me and then his whole body froze. He looked… Horrified. Petrified. Something else too that I couldn’t even name. Even the glass of orange juice he had helped himself to lay frozen in his hand.
I stared back at him, caught in his horror. He’d never looked at me like that before. I didn’t know what to do. I could only stare back at him. It was like he didn’t even recognize me. I questioned him silently over and over almost desperately but nothing in his face responded to me. I wish I could have looked away from him. My heart pounded at the thought of him being so repulsed by me.
His body came back to life and he spun around, taking quick, big steps away from me. He stopped in the kitchen and put his glass down. He took a breath and curled his hands around the edge of the counter and leaned into it. His head slumped forward and the muscles tensed all the way down his back.
Without thinking, I hurried over to him and flung my arms around his chest. I lay my head against his back and pulled him into me. I just needed to feel him… But as soon as my head touched him, he jerked away and my hands unhooked in surprise. I stared at his hard back and felt my breathing growing heavier. It felt like every step I tried to take his back would always be turned.
He stood for a moment saying nothing, and then, “Just give me a moment….” His voice was so quiet.
I took a step back and hugged my arms to my chest. It was suddenly very cold in the room. The warmth from the shower was beginning to fade into goose bumps.
“Sorry…” He didn’t offer any other explanation. Was that one word supposed to make me feel better? His hand lifted to touch his face; possibly the bridge of his nose or his forehead. “I’ll be fine in a second.”
And what exactly have I done to make you not feel fine? I wanted to ask, to plead.
When he turned around he gave me a small smile. Was that supposed to be reassuring? It didn’t quite hit the mark when accompanied with a gaze that looked at me without looking at me.
“JaeJoong, you should put some clothes on before you freeze.”
Was that supposed to be concern or another excuse to get me further away from him?
I took another step back. Then I took a deep breath and turned around to clothe my body. I tugged a light sweater over my head and hovered in the darkness for a little bit before pulling it down properly. This time arms came around me from behind and pulled me gently against him.
“I’m sorry if I scared you before,” he said by my ear.
I didn’t relax into him but I did touch his hands. “What happened?” Why did you look at me like that?
“I remembered something. Got confused for a second. Completely my fault. I’m sorry.”
“What did I do?”
“Nothing at all. Just forget about it.”
You can’t just forget something like that. How would you react if I looked at you like that…
He peeled my wet hair back and left a kiss on my neck. I still couldn’t relax in his arms but I did close my eyes when his mouth brushed my skin again.
“Are we still going to make breakfast together?”
“Hm…” I murmured. He left me enough room to turn around and I hugged him properly, letting my cheek rest by his neck. His hand cupped the back of my head to keep me close and I heard him whisper that he loved me. Then he whispered something else and I nodded.
“You are so important to me, Joongie. You know that, don’t you? I don’t ever want to lose you again.”
His breathing felt labored against me but he soon got himself under control. I pulled away a tiny bit to look at him and waited for our gaze to meet. When it did, I gave him a small smile. “Should I invest in a hairdryer then?” He stared at me for a second and then ignored my question entirely to move in for a proper kiss. I let him have it now that I’d caught on to what had scared him so badly before. I wondered what other bad memories he was keeping inside. It didn’t seem the right time to ask…
“So…” I sighed, finding my voice when we broke apart. “What do you want for breakfast?”
When our stomachs were filled, we sank back down onto the bed together, lying face to face. Now that that early scare was past us, I felt my energy coming back. I could have done anything. Maybe climb the top of the nearest mountain, or gone cycling with Yunho around the town and maybe even gone off the typical tracks too. But Yunho hadn’t wanted any of that. He hadn’t wanted to even leave the flat.
“You don’t want to even trek up to our spot in the trees?” I had asked him.
“No… I don’t really feel like doing that stuff.”
“What about our usual jog?”
“I just want to stay here…”
I had raised my brow but hadn’t questioned him further.
So it was back to lying together doing absolutely nothing again but at least the silence was comfortable this time. Half an hour went by like that and then my bedside table beeped. I looked over at the phone Yunho had given me and then back at him. He shrugged and I reached over for it.
“Multimedia message from JUNSU”, I read off the screen.
“Oh, sorry, I haven’t told him I’ve got my old phone back.”
“Do you want—”
“No, go ahead.”
I clicked a button that looked promising and the message opened.
‘I hope you are feeling alright. This news ought to excite you though… Are you ready for it? Yunho, I’M A DAD!’ the text read above a read arrow. I blinked at the image a few times and then slowly turned my head to look at Yunho. “I don’t get it. He gave birth to an arrow?”
“He sent a video. You need to click the arrow to play it.”
I moved to press the button I thought Yunho had been pointing at. An hourglass wobbled about and then the message completely vanished.
“Oh, you saved it into the video folder instead.” Yunho gave a small smile and found where the video went for me. The screen filled with Junsu’s shoe and then moved onto something furry and moving. There was a child-like squeal from behind the camera and then a finger reached out and stroked the cream and white fluff. Little ears appeared with a soft meowing. He was with a litter of tiny kittens.
“It was only a matter of time,” Yunho said from beside me. “He’s been dying for one for ages. Can’t say I blame him. They look so small and adorable.”
“How do you play it again?”
“One button down from your thumb. No, no, I meant on the right—”
I had already pressed the wrong one again and a different video started to play.
“Heyyy, JaeJoongie! Don’t kill me but I bought you a phone…”
“Oh, shit, no—” Yunho reached for the phone but I pulled it back just in time. I really wanted to see this one. It had Yunho in it. Yunho with longer hair that fell into his eyes a bit as he spoke into the camera with a slight flush to his cheeks and a smile that could rival the cuteness of the kittens. And he was addressing…me!
“No! Just—Ergh.” The real Yunho gave up his fight and buried his head into my pillow.
I ignored him and listened to his recorded message. I keenly concentrated on every word. His smile in this video was too distracting; I was worried I’d miss whatever it was he was saying. His smile lit up his whole face and it was a wonder that little phone could even contain it to just that tiny screen.
“I think this one is pretty perfect for you. You can do whatever you want with it—as long as you use it to call me.” A big grin from him. “You can use it as a paperweight, you can use it to throw at Yoochun, but you have to definitely call me. All the time. When you call my number, it won’t charge you any money, it’s totally free—because my love is free… Okay that sounded cooler in my head.” More laughing. “But yeah. I hope you like it. It wasn’t expensive so don’t worry. I love you so much. I can’t wait till you start using it. Bye, beautiful!”
The message ended and my heart thudded. That gorgeous smile… Where had it gone? I had seen Yunho smiling very occasionally the past few days but it was nothing compared to that tiny screen. I had almost forgotten that smile. His lips were beautiful when they curved but something within was still blocking that smile from lighting up his eyes. He was… My heart gave a pang as I thought about it—dull. The shine of the Jung Yunho I first met was missing.
“When did you record this?”
“A week or two ago when I first bought you the phone.”
That soon? No, no, this video was a fluke then. It felt like I hadn’t seen his true smile for quite some time. Even before I’d been in hospital.
“It didn’t seem so awkward and silly at the time…” he said.
“It’s not silly.” It was marvelous. This was better than any photo I had of him. This moved and talked and smiled and laughed. I had a pocket-sized shining Yunho that I could take with me wherever I went. I looked up at the real Yunho—the Yunho that couldn’t even reproduce a happier smile now—and felt my own smile fade a little. It was impossible not to notice a difference. The tired face and the darker eyes. The harder jaw line. And of course the shorter hair that showed it all.
Without thinking, I leant forward and gave him a kiss. He responded immediately and it turned sweeter and drew on for longer. At least his lips felt the same.
“You enjoyed the recording then?”
“Mm. Were you trying to hide it from me?”
”I completely forgot about it, to be honest.”
“If you had remembered, would you have shown me?”
He tilted his head slightly and a thoughtful sound escaped his lips—the kind of thoughtful sound that tended to accompany negative thoughts.
I couldn’t help but smile. He truly looked really adorable figuring out how to admit he’d embarrassed himself. He’d never had much shame in the past. He’d done a multitude of things that hadn’t made him feel anywhere near this self-conscious. Like the time he hijacked a children’s slippery dip and yelled and flailed about on the tiny drop down like someone half his age. I couldn’t see him attempting to do that now. He wouldn’t even leave my flat.
“What is it?” he asked.
Had my smile faded again? “It’s nothing. Honestly.” It wasn’t right to scare him with my theory of what was happening until I was absolutely certain. “But I can’t believe you’d try and hide such a funny video from me on my own phone. And what happened to the promise your two-week-old self made about helping me figure out the basics of this supposedly simple phone, hmm?”
He gave a small smile and wriggled closer until our shoulders were touching. “Anything in particular you want to learn first?”
“Yes. How do I access that video when my phone’s on that normal screen that displays the time?”
He let out a sigh and I felt my smile creep back.
A/N: I did it! I kicked some of the mental block away. Hazzzzah! And now we have awkward times as well as a bit of funfun times. As my beta said, ride that Ho, Jaejoong! LOL~~