Pairings: JaeMin, HoSu, JaeSu (past), YooMin bff
Genre: Romance, Angst, Drama
Summary: They both gave up on love, one thinking that he doesn’t deserve it and the other unable to let go of a painful past. As Changmin and Jaejoong slowly discover in the other something they weren’t aware they needed, they don’t know yet that their growing feelings will get tangled in a web of secrets. And that it may change everything in a merciless fight between truth and power.
XLII. Let time speak freely, let hours flow gently, let our hearts sing a different song and our lives dance their own dreams.
Changmin happily browses through his ‘To Read’ tower of books, the one he started building six months ago and that reached a threatening size the past weeks, since he never got a chance to open even only one of them starting from his first day in Kim Industries. It just kept growing, much to his despair, but now that he finally managed to get a quiet afternoon, Changmin promised himself that nothing would get in the way of his face-to-face with a good book and his comfy couch.
Yoochun is running everywhere these days, pulling all-nighters to get his current project done by the deadline next week. Jaejoong told him that he’d probably be busy until late evening because of tricky contract terms with one of their new partners, though he was supposed to finish early today.
That leaves Changmin with the whole afternoon to himself, and as much as he loves spending time with Yoochun or Jaejoong, he does like having a few moments alone when he can get them.
He doesn’t lose time picking a book and immediately walks to his couch, letting himself fall here on his stomach, elbows planted on one armrest and long legs dangling above the other. The couch is too small but Changmin likes it that way; that was his favorite position to read as a kid already, and the happy cloud floating lightly in his chest is also the same as before.
He’s fifteen pages into the novel when the screeching sound of his cell phone breaks the comfortable silence. Changmin groans, burying his head into cushions and wishing that he was still a kid indeed, and that all phone calls would be for his parents to answer. He reaches for his phone blindly, absentmindedly agreeing with Yoochun that he needs to change his current ringtone for something remotely listenable.
He glances at the screen, reading an unattributed number there and already cursing inwardly at the unlucky pollster who picked his name amongst their victims’ list today.
The voice is one of a young man, one that he never heard before. Probably a student. Changmin sighs quietly, thinking back of part-time jobs and difficult end-of-months and trying to erase annoyance from his tone.
“Yes. I’m sorry but if it’s for a poll or something I-“
“Ah! No, no it’s not something like that. Not at all.”
Changmin memorizes the page number before carefully closing his book and flopping on his back. He is a little hungry now, he’ll go grab something to eat as soon as he’s done with the phone call and then come back to his book.
“What is it about then?”, he answers, not in the mood to try and guess. Maybe he forgot something at the laundromat again, he’s more careful now but he still tends to leave stuff there from time to time.
“I… I’m sorry this is sudden…”, the guy’s voice trails off; he sounds nervous and Changmin feels slightly bad. He probably couldn’t hide his irritation as well as he thought earlier.
“Yes?”, he says in what he hopes is an encouraging tone.
“I… I’m Kim Junsu.”
“…Kim Junsu?”, Changmin repeats stupidly because he can think of nothing else to say.
Kim Junsu? The one who left for Japan and made a mess of Jaejoong’s life? That Kim Junsu?
Changmin is usually a rather forgiving person and it’s not like him to hold grudges, but this is not about him, not really.
He remembers all too well the first time Jaejoong talked to him about Junsu and the blank look in his eyes, not to mention that night in Tokyo. He isn’t worried about the two men’s past relationship, as he explained to Jaejoong already, but that doesn’t mean he can act completely detached and indifferent about the whole thing. He is rational enough to understand that Junsu is probably not the only one to blame, but it doesn’t change anything to the fact that the guy hurt Jaejoong, deeply, profoundly. Probably forever.
“Yes, it’s me, I… I mean, you heard about me right?”
“…Of course”, Changmin answers hesitantly, hearing the uncertainty in the other’s voice even through his phone, and unwilling to say too much before he knows the reason why he’s calling him.
Kim Junsu’s voice sounds more assured when he talks again, visibly more confident now that he confirmed that Changmin knew about him already. Maybe he expected him to hang up as soon as he heard his name, the young man thinks, paying full attention to what the other is saying.
“Again, I’m sorry this is sudden, but I’d like to meet you. If it’s okay with you, of course.”
“Meet me…?”, Changmin repeats cautiously, not quite believing what he’s hearing, “what for?”
“I-I want to talk to you, that’s all, nothing serious.”
Changmin can nearly see the nervous smile on the other’s face as he says that. He takes a few seconds before replying, carefully formulating his answer.
“Is it about Jaejoong?”
“It… well, partly, I guess. But that’s not the main reason.”
Changmin can’t help but feel a little suspicious. Maybe it’s the influence of Kim Industries staff’s twisted mentality, maybe it’s protectiveness towards Jaejoong, maybe it’s unconscious insecurity as far as Junsu is concerned, in spite of what he told the older man. Maybe it’s a bit of all three.
Junsu takes time to answer that, remaining silent long enough for Changmin to wonder if he’s still here. His voice is oddly soft when he speaks again, like if he wants to be sure that there will be no misunderstanding.
“If I tell you… Is it strange if I say that I want to know you, Changmin-sshi?”
He stays silent, turning the question in his head and trying to understand Junsu’s motives for such a weird request. He can hear in his voice that the other man is serious about this, and he doesn’t sound aggressive or upset either.
Changmin forces himself to put aside all his good reasons to tell Junsu that he wants nothing to do with him, trying to put himself in the young man’s shoes instead, but he still doesn’t get what the other could want by calling him.
“Why?”, he asks at last, as nice as he can to make Junsu understand that he’s ready to listen to whatever he wants to say. He can clearly hear the relief in his voice when the other answers.
“I know you have many reasons to hate me but-“
“I don’t hate you”, Changmin cuts him without thinking.
It’s true. He does feel resentful because of what Junsu did to Jaejoong, he felt angry and bitter at some point when he understood just how much the older man got hurt, how broken he was and how deeply the breakup changed him.
But Changmin also knows that it is never willingly that you harm the most precious people to you, he’s the perfect example of that himself. Call him naïve, but he doesn’t think that Junsu could have acted like he did without a good reason, and even less without feeling bad about it. It doesn’t excuse him, nor does it erase everything, but Changmin went through enough guilt and self-disgust to know that if you have a conscience, the worst punishment is the one you inflict to yourself. Besides, it’s not his role to blame Junsu or make him pay for whatever mistake he did in the past.
“I don’t hate you Junsu-sshi”, he repeats when the other stays silent, “I just don’t know why you’d want to see me.”
“Thank you”, he hears after a while, low enough for him to understand that Junsu heard the sincerity in his words, “this means a lot to me.”
Changmin nods, even though the other can’t see him, but he stays silent and waits for what the young man wants to tell him.
“I want to meet you, just that. You don’t have to see anything special in it, I… I want to know what kind of person you are. And I thought that maybe, you could have questions for me too, about… Jaejoong.”
He said that last word hesitantly, like he’s afraid that Changmin will feel angry hearing him say Jaejoong’s name.
“Does he know about this… about you calling me?”, Changmin asks instead of giving Junsu an answer, confused and still turning pros and cons inside his head.
“No. As I said, it’s not exactly about him.”
Changmin frowns, still not understanding why Junsu contacted him.
“I’m sorry Junsu-sshi, but I don’t get why you’d want to see me if it’s not about Jaejoong. We don’t have anything in common and-“
“I want to thank you.”
“I want to thank you, Changmin-sshi.”
That leaves him speechless, and he keeps silent as he hears the other chuckling nervously on the other side.
“Well, I want to know you too, but the truth is… I just really want to thank you, I guess.”
“Why?”, he manages to answers at last.
“I… Damn, it’s embarrassing… can’t I just meet you?”
Changmin smiles despite himself at the slight plea in the other man’s voice. He doesn’t sound as nervous as before, mostly embarrassed and a little hopeful.
“Alright. When are you free?”, he asks, standing to go find a calendar.
“… Is this afternoon okay, if you have nothing else to do of course?”
Changmin throws a resigned look in his book’s direction, mentally waving goodbye to his nice afternoon alone.
“It’s okay. Where are you now? I heard you just came back to Seoul, maybe it’ll be simpler if I go to see you.”
Only silence answers him at the other end of the line, and Changmin frowns again.
“I’m sorry Changmin-sshi!”, Junsu starts explaining precipitately, “I was just… I wanted to go directly to your place because I thought that you wouldn’t give me a chance to talk to you, but when I arrived here I thought it’d be better to call after all and… well.”
“Why do you have my address?? And how did you even get my phone number?!”, Changmin asks, taken aback and admittedly a little pissed. Maybe a tiny bit amused as well.
“I… That is…”
Seunghyun. Changmin scowls, immediately deciding that someone will have to explain themselves once he goes back to work on Monday.
The hopeful tone is still here in Junsu’s voice and Changmin sighs, knowing that he doesn’t really have a choice now that he already agreed to meet the other.
“Alright. Third floor, I’m waiting.”
Changmin hangs up the call, pushing the button to open the door downstairs and rapidly checking his living room. It’s not completely clean, but it’s tidy enough for an unexpected visitor.
He briefly thinks of calling Jaejoong, but soon dismisses the idea since the older man is supposed to be attending that meeting the whole afternoon. Besides, what would he tell him?
“Junsu is here. Don’t worry, see you later”?
Changmin shakes his head, smiling inwardly. Don’t worry. Right, as if Jaejoong would hear that and not run to his place the next second in full protective mode. He and Yoochun can be really alike at times, not that he doesn’t enjoy the attention, but Changmin is still a capable adult, whatever they both seem to be thinking. He’ll just tell Jaejoong about this when he’ll see him later.
The doorbell rings right at that moment, drawing him out of his thoughts, and he goes to the door a little more nervously than he’s willing to admit. He barely opened it that he knows for sure that Kim Junsu is way more nervous than him. From his nervous smile to his nervous fidgeting and the nervous way he’s wiping sweaty palms on his jeans. Changmin didn’t think that he could seem this frightening to someone.
He smiles, hoping to make the other more at ease but also increasingly intrigued, and motions for Kim Junsu to come inside. The other bows and quickly removes his shoes, which leaves a few seconds for Changmin to study him.
He knows that Junsu is older than him, but to him he looks surprisingly young. Maybe it’s because he’s visibly uneasy, or because of his casual clothes, or because of his slightly boyish face. Changmin can’t help but try to picture him with Jaejoong, but no matter how hard he tries it just doesn’t fit with the image he has of the older man.
He remembers that Jaejoong wasn’t a CEO yet when they were together though, and he knows three years are a very long time at this period of life. He is still curious, and probably a little envious as well. Junsu has known Jaejoong for nearly half of his life and that’s not a negligible amount of time, especially since they were so close.
Changmin realizes after some time that Junsu is studying him nearly as intently as him, and he averts his eyes with slight embarrassment at being caught staring.
“This way Junsu-sshi.”
He motions for the other to follow him inside, and they both stand awkwardly in his living room, quiet for a few seconds at they continue studying each other.
Junsu is the first to make a move to break the uneasy silence, shooting a hand forward with a tentative smile.
“It’s a little strange now but… it’s a pleasure meeting you Changmin-sshi.”
Changmin answers the greeting, shaking Junsu’s hand awkwardly and trying to think of something relevant to say.
The obvious and commonplace would be to apologize for his apartment not being exactly neat, or to speak about the weather, or to propose him a drink. He should probably ask Junsu if he wants to sit, or tell him something along the lines of “I’m busy so keep it short” because maybe that way they could quickly jump to what the other wants to say and be done with it.
Instead they are facing each other in silence and it’s the most uncomfortable situation Changmin has ever found himself into. He doesn’t feel like pretending that this is all normal to him by going for small talk, he isn’t good with that kind of things anyway. Junsu is staring in a way that reminds him terribly of someone, and he’s on the verge of asking if it was his and Jaejoong’s favorite hobby when they were still together.
Then Junsu speaks, and Changmin instantly regrets that he didn’t try to say anything before because it just increases the awkwardness tenfold.
“It feels… weird, seeing you.”
Changmin wants to facepalm and throw him out.
“You are the one who asked to see me!!”, he prevents himself from screaming, smiling instead and knowing that it must look awfully fake and forced.
“Ah…!”, Junsu’s eyes widen, and he suddenly looks apologetic, “I didn’t mean it like that, I’m sorry. It’s just… I have been thinking of meeting you for a while now and it’s just… well… weird.”
“It’s okay”, Changmin forces himself to answer, mentally praying that Junsu won’t say ‘weird’ once more speaking about him, before replaying the rest of what he just said.
“You’ve wanted to see me for a while?”, he asks hesitantly.
Junsu nods, looking slightly thoughtful. The uneasiness is already nearly gone from his expression and Changmin thinks that he might hate people who can feel at ease in the most awkward situations, even after ten seconds only.
“Since hy-Jaejoong came to Japan”, he answers.
Changmin notices the aborted attempt at ‘hyung’ that nearly left Junsu’s mouth, not sure of why the other didn’t want to say it in front of him, but deciding that he has enough questions without answers already without adding unnecessary ones.
“…since you saw Jaejoong in Japan, you mean?”, Changmin asks at last, waiting for confirmation and slightly regretful that he doesn’t have a special name for the older man.
He feels horribly possessive right now, he wants to find a way to make Junsu understand that Jaejoong is… well… his. Damn. He has never felt this embarrassed because of his own thoughts before.
“No, after that actually”, Junsu says after a small pause.
Junsu stays silent for a few seconds, suddenly looking a little bashful and uneasy again, and he averts his eyes as he answers him.
“I saw you and Jaejoong together at the hotel there”, he mutters at last.
Changmin can’t hide the disbelief in his voice, staring at the man before him not knowing if he should get angry or just laugh at the whole situation.
“You mean, you were following him or-“
“No!! I wanted to leave a letter for him at the hotel, but I saw him with you in the hall and…”
Junsu stops talking midsentence, sighing heavily and staring at his shoes with his face bright red.
“…I must sound like a freaking stalker…”, he lets out with a groan, and Changmin barely prevents himself from nodding vigorously in agreement.
Instead he struggles to put together what Junsu told him on phone and since he arrived, trying to make sense of it all.
“So… you saw me and Jaejoong in the hotel in Japan. And you came here to thank me?”, he asks slowly, unable to hide the hint of disbelief in his voice. Junsu should be glad that he managed to conceal the sarcasm at least.
The young man nods, obviously aware now of how the whole thing must sound to Changmin, and he shakes his head with slight frustration.
“I know it looks strange. Can I just try to explain?”
There’s that hopeful light in Junsu’s eyes again, and Changmin resigns himself to listening to him till the end, since they are both here and his tranquil afternoon is ruined already.
“Go ahead. You want to sit? Remove your jacket at least”, he proposes at last.
The other man denies the offer to sit down but he lets Changmin take his coat, staying silent for a few seconds more before looking straight at him. Junsu’s face is slightly red, like he feels embarrassed by what he’s going to say, but his eyes are honest and his voice doesn’t waver as he talks.
“I really didn’t mean to spy or something that day, really. I was just feeling bad after some things Jae told me a few days before…”
Changmin nods along, ignoring the slight uneasiness coming up in his heart with the use of that nickname here, but he doesn’t interrupt Junsu.
“…I had written a letter for him. Nothing much, mainly apologies. I knew Jae was in that particular hotel because that’s always where he stayed before when we… when he went to Japan.”
Junsu’s eyes don’t leave his face as he talks, and Changmin remains silent, wordlessly motioning for him to continue.
“As I told you, I didn’t intend to meet him here. But I saw him in the hall when I entered and he was with you.”
The young man stops speaking there, eyes intently searching his face like Changmin is supposed to talk at this point. He has no idea of what Junsu wants him to say though, they weren’t even together back then, they-
“I understood as soon as I saw him”, the other continues, interrupting that train of thoughts.
“What did you understand?”, Changmin asks cautiously, not sure of where this is going.
“That he loved you.”
Changmin’s heart jumps inside his chest without warning, and he can suddenly feel that unwelcomed heat on his cheeks again. Junsu remains silent after that, searching his eyes and visibly not intending to continue unless he answers something.
“I…”, Changmin manages to say at last, “that… is that how it looked like?”
Junsu nods, quiet for a few seconds before he seems to understand that Changmin won’t say anything more.
“I know Jae… I mean, I spent a lot of time with him, you know that already. I’m sure of what I saw that day.”
“And…”, Changmin replies hesitantly, not sure of where this is going, “this is why you came to see me today?”
“Not exactly”, Junsu answers after a while, “as I told you on phone, I came because I wanted to see you, and also to thank you.”
He looks embarrassed again as he says that, but Changmin is too confused to pay attention to that.
“I don’t get it”, he says while shaking his head slightly, “why do you want to thank me? I have nothing to do with you and Jaejoong, I-“
“But you love him, right?”
Changmin abruptly feels like disappearing, desperately wishing that the ground would swallow him right now, or maybe the old woman from above could start screaming murder for no reason at all again and he’d have an excuse for leaving, or something. Was he that obvious back then already? It’s all good that Junsu knows Jaejoong well and all that, but Changmin really hopes that he isn’t walking around with ‘I love Kim Jaejoong’ written in bold letters on his forehead.
“How…”, he asks, too hurriedly to his liking, “how do you know that?”
Junsu stares at him, his mouth a perfect ‘O’ for an instant before he answers.
Changmin doesn’t know if he’s incredibly relieved or if he’s on the verge of killing someone right now.
“Seunghyun… of course”, he mutters, grabbing a chair and letting himself fall here, head hanging low and trying to regain his composure.
Junsu makes a few steps in his direction, looking unsure of what to do.
“I… Is everything alright Changmin-sshi? I mean… I’m sorry if I’m mistaken or something but-“
“No you’re right”, Changmin groans, raising his head to face Junsu again, “I just didn’t think that Seunghyun would… never mind.”
The other man nods without asking, taking a chair as well and coming to sit in front of him.
“Seunghyun-sshi told me you and Jaejoong were together. I’m the one who asked him, I’m sorry if that upsets you. I guess that it probably doesn’t concern me now.”
Junsu stops speaking but Changmin heard the shadow of sadness in his voice, just as the other lowered his eyes for the first time since he started talking. He feels slightly bad for him again but he doesn’t know what to say, so he keeps silent and lets Junsu explain.
“When he told me that Jae was with someone…”, the young man raises his head, facing him again, “someone he loves, I mean… when I heard that, I felt incredibly happy, I can’t even explain it.”
“Happy?”, Changmin repeats, listening intently and starting to understand what Junsu wanted to tell him all along.
The young man nods, a small smile forming on his lips as he answers.
“Happy. Really, really happy. You see Changmin-sshi-“
“Changmin. Just ‘Changmin’ is okay.”
Junsu looks surprised but in a good way, and he nods in silent acquiescence.
“Changmin… I know I hurt Jae, and I can never forgive myself for that. I’m not going to… to give excuses, I can tell you about my reasons later if you want. I just didn’t have a choice back then.”
Junsu is still smiling but his voice trembles a little as he continues.
“Jae…he…”, he shakes his head, visibly not sure of how to continue.
“Junsu…”, Changmin says hesitantly, looking for confirmation in the other’s eyes, a little surprised at the vivid light of gratitude in them when he says his name.
“It’s not for me to judge whether what you did was right or wrong. Jaejoong explained a lot to me already, I’m not saying that I’m okay with everything that happened but I think it’s something between the two of you.”
He smiles in a way that he hopes is encouraging for the other man as he talks. He was wrong about several things about Junsu, he understands it now. Changmin can tell that he is genuinely sorry, but above all that he didn’t come here to claim back something that ended already. It’s enough for him, the rest will be for Jaejoong to decide.
Junsu looks taken aback by what he just said, and the way he smiles the next second takes Changmin by surprise. It’s pure happiness, without anything to alter it, bright and sincere in a way that leaves no place for doubt or rancor.
“I can see why he loves you.”
Changmin groans, not trying to hide it this time. What’s with people being all straightforward and embarrassingly direct those days?
“Whatever. That doesn’t tell me why you wanted to thank me.”
“You still don’t get it?”, Junsu looks genuinely surprised.
Changmin shakes his head, adding ‘people assuming that he knows what’s in their minds’, to the list of upsetting things appearing around him recently. Junsu’s bright smile is still in place when he answers, happiness turning to gratitude as he talks.
“I’m thankful because Jaejoong found someone. At some point I thought I… that he’d never be able to move on after what I…did. But I saw him that day, and with what Seunghyun told me… I think he’s happy again. Really happy. I want to thank you for that.”
Junsu stands up and Changmin stays frozen on his chair with increasing embarrassment as the other man bows in front of him. He wants to laugh loudly or do something stupid to break the awkwardness of that suddenly solemn atmosphere, but Junsu looks so deadly serious that he doesn’t dare to utter a word before the young man straightens up again.
“I think… Junsu… you don’t have to thank me for that”, he says precipitately at last, rising from his chair and walking to the other, “it’s not like I did it on purpose, it just happened you see, you don’t really plan those things and-“
Great, just great, he’s rambling now and he can feel blood rushing to his face again. Who the hell thank someone for falling in love with their ex?!
Junsu is still smiling, and it’s unnerving really, the way he stares and grins like he understands something that Changmin can’t see. It’s not funny at all, it’s his feelings, not some kind of trade or joke or whatever and he really wants Junsu to stop smiling like that and if he continues he’s going to say something rude like-
“Seriously what’s wrong with you?!!”
Something like that, right.
He holds his breath, waiting to see if Junsu will get mad or look vexed, but instead the other man lets out the strangest laugh he has ever heard.
“…What?”, Changmin asks, mortified at the way he just sounded like he was sulking. Sulking.
Yoochun sulks, not him, he is a mature person, not a freaking kid. He waits for Junsu’s answer, trying to find back logic in the mess of thoughts that’s his current state of mind.
“You are cute”, Junsu says out of the blue, and Changmin can feel his ego deflate instantly.
He is this close to wishing that he knew Junsu enough to be allowed to throw something at him, when he hears his door slamming open and the sound of rushed footsteps in the hallway.
Changmin turns on his heels, the other man doing the same next to him, and he feels suddenly very small. Not because it’s Jaejoong, not because he looks like he ran to come here, not because the worry on his face turns to anger as soon as he spots Junsu, but because it’s all three together and that’s definitely not a good thing.
“What the hell are you doing here?!!”
Note: Is that a cliffhanger...?! *hides* X'D Lol anyway, this was fun to write :p MinSu first meeting~~~ *celebrates* ^^/ (I'm sorry for no-JaeMin though... >.<)
I won't be able to update next week-end and probably the one after that too, so the next chapter will be posted later this week... Tuesday or Wednesday I think ^^
Thank you for reading/commenting everyone!!!~ ♪