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[personal profile] kira9018
Nothing Last Forever (but we got each other)
Jongwoon/Ryeowook, Super Junior members
NC-17

Hmm, this 'idea' came during The Friends in Swiss, and looking at it now, of course this was different considering The Little Prince released first ^__^ On a side note, I'm not regretting this because the reason I wrote this is subtly in here. Hope, you folks can see that :)
Praise for that 1mil views, woo-hoo!


/ / / / / / 

     Turns out, Incheon is not somewhere far of a place. Ryeowook actually questions why Jongwoon thought his hometown is that far.

     “It’s far enough for me to travel back and forth from Seoul,” Jongwoon shrugs, nonchalant. He drives around until he stops in front of a high towering glass building.

     Jongwoon struts down the lobby straight to the elevator, leaving Ryeowook a little bit confused though he doesn’t increase his pace to catch up with the other man. They are in public, it is best to not expose himself or Jongwoon.

     As they both step inside the elevator, Jongwoon instantly grabs Ryeowook’s hand and holds it tight. Despite the amount of people keeps on coming in and out of the metal box, Jongwoon steadfastly holds Ryeowook’s hand behind his back. Ryeowook has to shift himself closer to Jongwoon’s side for his heart to stop thrumming like a crazy drum rolls.

     They exit on the highest floor of the building, Jongwoon being a lead of finding their room. It has Ryeowook gasps in surprised at the breathtaking scenery sight as soon as he ventures out the hotel room. Incheon bridge is facing them through the glass installs from the floor to the ceiling.

     “You’ll be broke once I get back from the service, sweetheart.” Ryeowook is totally so out of his mind at the wonderful sight in front of him that he doesn’t realize the endearment that escapes his throat.

     Jongwoon closes the door behind him and comes to stand behind Ryeowook. He blows an air to his lover’s ear, “What happened to dear?”

     “Hmm,” Ryeowook leans back to look at Jongwoon, relaxing against Jongwoon’s body frame.

     “You address me as sweetheart,” Jongwoon wiggles his eyebrow suggestively.

     “Well,” Ryeowook’s face flushing red, “you don’t like it?”

     “Even if you call me something like scumbag or bastard, that’s attractive enough for me. As long as you’re the one call me that, I’m thrilled.” Jongwoon curls his hand around Ryeowook, pecking him lightly on his lips.

     “I won’t be calling you that,” Ryeowook is adamantly beyond shocked at the words uttered by Jongwoon. “That’s terribly sick.”

     “I know, sweetheart.” Jongwoon returns, tugging at Ryeowook’s arm gently so to have a look at the sky that has turns to different shades of orange and red. “Would you mind if I fuck you on the glass mirror there?”

     Ryeowook lets out an embarrassing moan, “Would you always ruin the moment?”

     “So?” Jongwoon grins wickedly when Ryeowook squirming slightly in his hold. “But fear not, I’m going to go real slow tonight. And I kind of lie when I said I want to fuck you thousand times over yesterday.”

     Ryeowook visibly relaxes back, adjusting himself to fit into Jongwoon’s chest, and sighs. “I’m beginning to think of you as an uncanny predator. I don’t know how to handle you anymore.”

     Humming at Ryeowook’s admission, Jongwoon says nothing else. He has a guess of himself why he reacts more aggressive and possessive towards Ryeowook since he’s been back from his service, and wants to keep the thought to himself only. “Is that a bad thing?” Jongwoon instead asks.

     Ryeowook tilts his head slightly, gazing up at Jongwoon. “It caught me by surprise. The sex is amazing, if that’s what you’re wondering.”

     Jongwoon locks his eyes with Ryeowook’s, staring and leaning down slowly before capturing the other’s pink lips with his mouth. Their kiss is almost shy, like the first time Jongwoon admits to himself and Ryeowook that he’s falling in love with the other deep to the bottomless pit of ocean. But it’s nothing uncertain which has lingers after the first kiss they’ve shared. It’s full of passion and evokes desire in that soft, gentle kiss. It’s tender but hot at the same time.

     They both part away after a long moment, panting slightly with beaming smile on their faces. Jongwoon paces himself backwards and drags Ryeowook along with him towards the couch situated several feet behind them.

     “I’m gonna prepare the dinner and you would be decorating the bed,” Jongwoon starts, listing off the plan off his mind and to his lover.

     Right on the cues, their hotel room is being rung from the outside. Though Ryeowook is puzzled and that it certainly throws him off his guard when the room service attendant moves into their room to place a tray on a table, and he only voices out his concern after Jongwoon closes the door and thanks the attendant on his way out.

     “What would I use for the bed?” Ryeowook is panicking on the inside but he walks to where Jongwoon is to cast away his jitters. Reaching up to look what’s under the big and semi-round silver metal that covers the plate, he can see his hand tremble out of fright.

     Jongwoon stands between the tray that is on the table and him. “Baby, something’s wrong? You’re shaking,” says Jongwoon, his voice is soft like a lullaby.

     Ryeowook shakily smiles, fiddling with the hem of Jongwoon’s expensive shirt. “He knows me, doesn’t he? He knows I’m with you.”

     Jongwoon is honestly mortified because he doesn’t get what Ryeowook is trying to say to him, but the appalled look on Ryeowook’s face has his heart lurches wildly. “Love, hey. It’s okay, everything’s fine.”

     “No, you should warn me or something. I can’t- We can’t-“ Ryeowook is too agitated to speak properly, his mind goes frenzy. “We shouldn’t risk ourselves. We really shouldn’t.” Ryeowook has the words on repeat, like he’s expecting the older man to understand where he’s coming from.

     “Ryeowook, listen.” Jongwoon begins, capturing Ryeowook’s flailing limbs. “Baby, we’re not risking ourselves. We’re doing nothing wrong. He doesn’t get to see you, I’m blocking his sight.”

     Ryeowook tries to say that maybe the attendant recognizes the older man, but the words catch up in his throat upon seeing Jongwoon wearing a cap and a pair of shades. He doesn’t know whether he should feel relief at all. Instead he dashes across the room and disappears into the bathroom, tears prickling his eyes.

     Ryeowook feels so dumb for the undercurrent’s emotion inside him. He wills himself not to cry and ruin the day Jongwoon decides to mutually agree of letting him go the way he wants. That apparently doesn’t help much because he sheds tears, sobbing quietly at the thought of Jongwoon doing this against his will, sacrificing for his sake. He composes himself seconds after Jongwoon knocks the bathroom door.

     “Ryeowook, are you okay?” Jongwoon asks.

     “I’ve ruined my make-up,” replies Ryeowook, his voice thick from all the crying.

     “You’re not applying any back in my apartment.” Jongwoon says. “Come on, let me in.”

     Ryeowook unlocks the bathroom door, waiting for the older man to open it wide. Jongwoon steps into the bathroom only to find Ryeowook’s eyes, red around the edge, are staring up at him.

     “Sorry, hyung.” Ryeowook says, spilling yet another tear.

     Jongwoon seats himself on the toilet seat, pulling the sensitive man against him and sitting him on his laps, holding him gently in his arms. “You’re always going to be my baby if I catch you crying in front of me, Ryeonggu baby.”

     Ryeowook laughs, swiping away his tears with the back of his hand. “That’s one weird combination, Jongwoon.” He remembers of time Jongwoon actually dares to address him such endearment on his SNS and has restricted the older man to call him by his pet name, just because everyone else has been calling him with that.

     “Who cares? At least it makes you laugh now,” says Jongwoon, kissing Ryeowook’s temple lovingly. “Are you ready for dinner yet?”

     “Sure, let me freshen up first.” Ryeowook hops off Jongwoon’s laps. “Did you do the bed, too?” Ryeowook calls out from the sink since Jongwoon has walks out off the bathroom.

     “I want you to do the honor but you’re hiding away from me, and I am the ever so kind has to help you out,” says Jongwoon. “Baby, hurry up, I’m starving.”

     “I thought you’re on your diet,” Ryeowook dries his hands off on the fresh towel stores inside the small cupboard. Once he closes the bathroom door behind him, he looks at the bed and then Jongwoon, who stares off at the panoramic view out of the glass, perplexed. “What is that, Jongwoon?”

     “Hmm,” Jongwoon turns to look at Ryeowook. He realizes his lover is asking about the bed despite Ryeowook is looking straight up at him. “It’s the roses. Why, you want lilies, or lilacs?”

     Ryeowook blows air out of his nose in frustration, striding towards the table and positioning himself on a chair across from Jongwoon. “It looks cheesy. I’m not a female,” says Ryeowook.

     “I know you aren’t.” Jongwoon touches Ryeowook’s nose lightly. “I’m spoiling you, don’t you see? Open up the lid.”

     Obliging, Ryeowook is surprised to see the medium rare steak on his plate. “You don’t like steak,” says Ryeowook, frowning as he looks up at Jongwoon. The older male prefers Korean meat out of the food choices and absolutely picky when it comes to it.

     “What would you think I would have mine?” Jongwoon queries, extending his hand across the table and meeting Ryeowook’s halfway, grasping and caressing it lightly.

     “I know it would be rice, but not the condiments.” Ryeowook guesses.

     Jongwoon lifts off the lid of his plate and puts it down on the floor. “It’s the fried rice,” says Jongwoon, leaning up to plant a kiss on Ryeowook’s mouth, smiling, “10 points for you.”

     Jongwoon cuts the steak for Ryeowook using his knife before returning the plate back to Ryeowook as they both chat animatedly throughout the course meals, indulging the good food under the dimness of the room. Jongwoon at some point turns on music that is his solo album tracks.

     “Why not mine?” Ryeowook asks, munching slowly the food in his mouth.

     “I’m gonna fucking cry listening to your amazing voice serenading me while I’m trying to finish my food here,” Jongwoon says, sheepishly smiling after he realizes the choice of words he’s been using.

     Ryeowook hasn’t dare to broach further the topic of his solo, so he asks about Jongwoon’s ever-growing family-oriented business, admiring the older man’s silently because of how determine and serious Jongwoon is about his business ventures.

     Then, they talk about fun things like how Jongwoon wishes he gets to spend time with Ryeowook in amusement park and suggests the many rides they should try on if they get to go there. Of course Ryeowook actually shrieks when Jongwoon says they should try the roller coaster ride before he gets the chance to propose to him. Ryeowook laughs even louder at the thought Jongwoon might get his vomits all over him instead of his yes.

     Soon, they’re finishing up all the food on their plates, with Ryeowook forcefully asks Jongwoon to take on the last two bits of his steak. Only wine is left. Hence, Jongwoon proposes of them moving to the couch for cuddling session before the most anticipated event of the day ensues.

     Ryeowook hits Jongwoon by his chest when the older looks at him with his usual playful and wicked grin, laughing yet again. “What, Jongwoon? What?”

     Instantly, Jongwoon captures Ryeowook’s hand, laughing suit. “You know, sometimes I wonder why you didn’t call me anything but my name. You rather call me dear or sweetheart when you’re teasing me or either when you’re in bliss. Hyung is a just normalcy.”

     “What would you want me to call you then?” Ryeowook wonders himself. He, however, doesn’t give a room for Jongwoon to response when he adds hastily, his cheeks staining in pink. “I like Jongwoon- I mean your name, I like your name.”

     Jongwoon gazes down at Ryeowook, who has releases his hand of Jongwoon’s hold. “I don’t think you know how beautiful you are all flustered like that,” says Jongwoon, claiming Ryeowook’s lips with his own. “We shall speed things up.”

     Jongwoon doesn’t rush himself with Ryeowook though. As he wants to build the anticipation between them, like this all about their first night, gratifying and unforgettable. Back in 2011, Jongwoon needed all the courage in the world to take the leap out of faith, but now he convinces himself he just needs Ryeowook for him to stay rational and all confident despite he’s far from anything of the sort.

     Slowly, Jongwoon leans Ryeowook’s back to the couch, their mouths never separating. He hears the soft mewls of Ryeowook, who is sprawling against the couch, so fuckable and ready for him to manipulate. His pupils darken slightly, his lust threatening to overpower him and he struggles to not let himself loses of the last bit of his control.

     This night is not about him. It is all about Ryeowook, the precious human being that is his lover, who he is fortunate to snag before Hyungsik decides to make a move or anyone else ever.

     “Tell me what you want me to do,” whispers Jongwoon in Ryeowook’s ear, nibbling slightly.

     Ryeowook’s face flushed with needs. “Your fingers-” he moans softly when Jongwoon sucks at his throat.

     As Jongwoon’s busy nibbling and licking at every skin put on display in front of him, Jongwoon’s hands travel down to Ryeowook’s navel, past his waistband and to the front of Ryeowook tight dark washed jeans. Unfastening the button and unzipping the fly, all the articles including the underwear, are all off Ryeowook’s legs and to the floor, creating a pile in no time.

     Finding the tip of Ryeowook’s shaft slightly wet with pre-cum, Jongwoon lightly traces the length with his palm, massaging the muscle. His eyes never leave Ryeowook, who fights against Jongwoon’s restraint of him pressing down Ryeowook’s hips on the couch with his strong thighs.

     “Baby, strip me. Slowly,” says Jongwoon, trying to distract Ryeowook from bucking into his hand too much.

     Ryeowook is having a hard time following Jongwoon’s demand of him, his mind is all madness and he feels like fire is all over his body, blistering. Jongwoon’s hand on him is literally kerosene that has him explodes in bright flames, like the gas balloon floating high on the air with the help of helium. When Jongwoon kisses him lazily, gently coaxing, Ryeowook finally looks up.

     “Undress me slowly,” repeats Jongwoon.

     Ryeowook shakily brings both his hands at Jongwoon’s navel, loosening the belt a bit to pull out the dress shirt. He attempts to just rip the article apart into two but Jongwoon suddenly puts a pressure on his length that has him cries out. Breathing out heavily, Ryeowook spies at Jongwoon before resuming and unfastening the button of Jongwoon’s shirt.

     He succeeds of popping open two buttons in succession. When he cries another moan because Jongwoon has his nails scraping his length, he grips Jongwoon’s side tightly; the shirt bunches in his hand.

     “I can’t,” says Ryeowook, almost sobbing.

     “Look at me, focus on me.” Jongwoon says patiently, his hand that has been supporting his weight from crushing his precious lover feels pins and needles. “Try again.”

     Eventually Ryeowook manages to complete the task as he locks eyes with Jongwoon’s. He’s nearly weeping like a lost child who found his family at the thought Jongwoon is persistently holding out for him instead of having his wicked ways with him. Ryeowook starts to feel the familiar heat pooling low in his stomach, turning and flexing like a twisted spring coil inside of him as Jongwoon moves up and down rhythmically on his length.

     Ryeowook is close to his release, yet Jongwoon has steps back. Both Jongwoon’s hands that imprint hotly against his hips are scorching and scalding, preventing him to thrust back to Jongwoon’s. He means to whine but Jongwoon catches his complains in a searing kiss.

     “Hold out a little longer. It gets better,” says Jongwoon.

     Ryeowook has to breathe through his mouth as he reluctantly agrees to Jongwoon’s suggestion, prompting to keep him mind busy of something else like Jongwoon’s hand that has snakes up beneath his shirt. Ryeowook whimpers at the electrifying touch of Jongwoon’s palm on his nub, writhing beneath him for more friction.

     As Jongwoon positions Ryeowook so the younger man’s back is against the back of the couch, he lowers himself to the floor on his knees. He gently spreads Ryeowook’s legs apart and Jongwoon’s fingers move again, ghosting on Ryeowook’s lean calf, up to the inner thigh before stopping at the tight ring of muscle.

     Jongwoon coats his fingers with Ryeowook’s pre-cum, groaning a little when he presses a finger against Ryeowook’s entrance, trying his best to ease in without actually hurting Ryeowook. It’s impossibly tight no matter how many rounds they’ve done it the day before. Jongwoon’s other hand moves to rest on Ryeowook’s thigh, caressing, in effort to relax Ryeowook who grows stiff as Jongwoon slips another finger, stretching him.

     Jongwoon stretches Ryeowook wide and has the younger man crying out when the older man hits the bundle of nerves again and again inside of him. Ryeowook’s back is arching, head lolling at the edge of the couch and he feels like he might break if Jongwoon continues scissoring deep inside of him. A wave of pleasure courses through him once again, tightens at the coil in his stomach painfully, intensifying each time.

     “No, not yet.” Jongwoon whispers close to Ryeowook’s ear, noticing the quivering of Ryeowook’s body means the younger is close.

     Ryeowook whines pitifully as he is left empty, reaching for the older man’s face and kissing him out of frustration. He’s about to deepen their kiss but Jongwoon backs away from him again, and Ryeowook is left in his confounded state, a whimpering mess between panting or glaring at Jongwoon.

     Thankfully Jongwoon doesn’t have that feral grin on his face, thinks Ryeowook, attempting to calm himself down as he is being deny of his release once again. Lost and dazed, Ryeowook feels Jongwoon moves him to stand on his wobbly feet, strong hand supporting him on his back. Ryeowook simply sighs into Jongwoon’s chest, worn-out.

     “You can come now if you want,” breathes Jongwoon against his ear, deep and low. His hand travels down, grasping at Ryeowook’s angry red shaft and stroking it slowly.

     Ryeowook lost it. Thousand jolts of electricity run straight to his core, his hands scramble for a purchase on Jongwoon’s shoulder, gripping it tight, veins popping out on his arms. His legs tremble violently and he feels absolutely exposed at the thought of Jongwoon watching him laid bare open like that. Though he doesn’t do anything sort of escaping from Jongwoon’s safety net and the imaginary patterns on his skin.

     Before Ryeowook knows it, he is on the mattress and stark naked, breathing slowly, still winding down from all the wonderful exertion. Jongwoon, naked too, has his hand on his hair, caressing and petting him, cherishing. He reaches up to feel Jongwoon’s hand and smiles lazily as he feels the cool metal of band on the older male’s ring finger.

     “What’s next?” Ryeowook croaks out, gazing up at Jongwoon through his half-lidded eyes.

     Jongwoon is swelling with pride. “Get on your hands and knees, baby.”

     Soon, Ryeowook is planting his face on the soft padding, panting heavily as he bunches the sheet at Jongwoon’s deep thrust inside of him. He’s shrieking and convulsing and whimpering like he is not Ryeowook he used to be anymore because Ryeowook never lets himself to be used to such extent, vulnerable. He is someone else that is living on the clouds, floating and free.

     Jongwoon deftly flips Ryeowook onto his back. He enters Ryeowook back in one smooth thrust, his pace quickens. Stroking Ryeowook’s length in time with his thrust, he watches Ryeowook writhing beneath him, flushed and beautiful. Jongwoon’s low growl echoes throughout the room, the same time Ryeowook also screams out his name, filling Ryeowook’s wall with everything that is worth.

     Ryeowook tears up a bit when he reaches up to kiss Jongwoon, waiting patiently for Jongwoon to pull off him. He’s glad that Jongwoon just gathers him in a loose embrace, saying nothing. His kiss of conveying gratitude towards Jongwoon turns sloppy because he’s too much overdrive with emotions to not choking on his own spits. Jongwoon has to kiss Ryeowook’s temple and into Ryeowook’s hair several times for him not to drown along with Ryeowook.

 

     Jongwoon decides to forgo breakfast and skips to lunch when Ryeowook refuses to wake up to fill his hungry stomach – or rather Jongwoon’s insatiable of real food. It’s close to four when Ryeowook and he arrive at Ryeowook’s parent’s house, chatting up and teasing each other on their way.

     According to Jongwoon’s plan – and Ryeowook agrees with it whole-heartedly – soon after Jongwoon catches up with Ryeowook’s parents, he would head back to Seoul immediately. Give out excuses and whatsoever as an act of his perfect cover.

     “You’re not doing anything for the night, are you? Join us at dinner.” Mrs. Kim, standing at the front door, beams brightly, happy to see Jongwoon with his son.

     “Mother,” Ryeowook begins, linking his arm in through hers’ and spinning her around, “Did you pack my favorite sweater from you yet? I’ve left it on my wardrobe I think.”

     “I’ve packed everything you need, sweetheart.” His mother says, twirling slightly to catch Jongwoon has turns his back to leave. “Did you leave something in your car, Jongwoon? I’d make some cupcakes, dear. You should try them.”

     Jongwoon and Ryeowook exchange glances briefly over Mrs. Kim’s shoulder before the latter launches another question to his mother, propelling them towards the kitchen. However, Mrs. Kim innocently reminds Jongwoon yet again to stay for dinner before turning to the hall leads to the kitchen.

     Ryeowook is annoyed as he stares at her mother through the gap that separates the kitchen and the dining room. “Jongwoon’s busy, mum.”

     “Of course he is not. He’s been incredibly busy due to his solo work last month. Now he’s a bit free, a dinner is my way to treat someone who’s been working hard his entire life.”

     Ryeowook resists rolling his eyes at his mother’s smooth words. There is no way of Ryeowook to contradict with his mother’s shrewd point. “I’ll be upstairs.”

     Mrs. Kim gleefully comes back to the living room and drags the poor Jongwoon to the kitchen. Jongwoon doesn’t know if he should be secretly thankful at Ryeowook’s mother for he can feel that Mrs. Kim has already knows about his heartbreak and is helping him gets through it in her own way - the delectable dinner meals.

     Then again, Jongwoon couldn’t stop blaming himself for falling into the temptation. He feels his heart fills with deadly poison, weakening his system and the tingling inside his body are shooting through him painfully. If he hasn’t stop by and dine together with Ryeowook’s parents, he won’t need to stop his car – on his journey to Seoul - twice to cry his heart out in anguish.

 

/ / / / / /

 

     Exactly two days before Ryeowook will be officially signs up for the enlistment, Jungsoo asks everyone in their chat group for the get-together. Jongwoon is the second last to arrive at a restaurant near Incheon, unconcerned and nonchalant.

     As Jongwoon sits next to Heechul and starts to drown himself with the beer, everyone gets notification. Jongwoon doesn’t care what that is, he continues indulging himself with the intoxicated beverages. He doesn’t even care if he passes out right that second – well, he wishes he can.

     “Why won’t Ryeowook let us meet him?” Jungsoo blinks in confusion.

     “Did you guys fight then he decides to fucking throw us away?” Youngwoon asks angrily, directing a gaze at Jongwoon.

     “Hyung,” calls Kyuhyun quietly by Jongwoon’s ear. The youngest of them all attempts to say something but then Heechul explodes.

     “Just fucking let him live, would you?”

     They are all go silent at the sudden outburst, only for a full five minutes.

     “Have you known all of this then, Jongwoon?” Jungsoo starts, giving a silent warning at Heechul to stop interrupting him with all the cuss words. “Come on. Answer me, damn it.”

     Kyuhyun is beyond shocked to hear the cuss leaving the leader’s mouth instead, watching closely at Jungsoo who is seething, slowly rounds the table. He stops up short in front of Jongwoon, looming over the other.

     “What could you have done,” Jongwoon lifts his chin then, locking his eyes straight into Jungsoo’s, “if I am to know about it? Would you let him fucking live? Would you let me fucking live?”

     “I would leave you fucking dead if you’re talking to me with that tone again.” Narrowing his eyebrows at Jongwoon, Jungsoo barks off, dashing out of the room they rent exclusively.

     Jongwoon simply returns to his beer, gulping one after another expertly. He hasn’t remembered who brings him up to his apartment, probably Kyuhyun. In his muddled state, Jongwoon messily sobs out at Kyuhyun.

     “I’m sorry, kid. I really am.”

     “Did you do something wrong, or you’re apologizing on behalf of someone else?” Kyuhyun has given up dragging drunken Jongwoon to the bedroom. He sags against the couch and watches how wasted his band member is on the other side of the couch.

     “Doesn’t matter,” slurs Jongwoon. “Maybe he has something else stores for you, who knows, that sly fox. He... is one terrible- sly fox...” Jongwoon’s voice trail away as he dozes off.

     Kyuhyun isn’t too strung out to not digest Jongwoon’s rambling words though he knows the alcohol in his system has affects him some way or another. He might not know why Ryeowook chooses to let no one visits him while he is in service or during holiday breaks, but he knows it has everything to do with Ryeowook’s recently stint of solo album work.

     “He’s one sly fox,” agrees Kyuhyun, walking himself out from Jongwoon’s apartment with insistent headache rapping on his skull. He doesn’t know whether he should be envy at the personal audio message Jongwoon gets to hear when he is gifted with a letter worth one and a half pages of words.

 

     The first three months after Ryeowook begins his military service, Jongwoon is someone who is bordering to insanity any moment. One particular morning, Yongsun has to drag Jongwoon to the bathroom and dump cold water on his head to wake the hell out of Jongwoon.

     “Stop moping. He’s not dying yet,” says Yongsun mockingly.

     “Well, I am.” Jongwoon counters, shivering under the shower.

     “Of course, you are. Start stripping already.” Yongsun ignores the blank face Jongwoon directed at him, urging him on by turning the knob to much lower degrees. Once Jongwoon is left with only his boxers, Yongsun continues. “Use your head for once, Jongwoon. He has every reason why he thinks this is the absolute best way. Get everything sorted out right at this instant. I’ll assume you’re ready once you’re stepping out of your apartment.”

     Jongwoon chuckles dryly as his manager steps out, hands moving the knobs so the hot water streaming down his body, scalding. Staying under the shower until the hot water runs out, Jongwoon turns the water off only after he is done washing his body with body shampoo several times. His skin is red from all the harsh scrubbing he’s been inflicting upon himself.

     Taking all the time to dress himself, Jongwoon comes down to the parking lot inside his building apartment after an hour and half passes and goes straight to the familiar van, standing close to the passenger seat. Jongwoon remains in that position for quite some time.

     When Yongsun realizes, he lets out an undignified shriek of the looming presence at the other side the car, startled. Unlocking the van, he curses out. “Shit, you scared the hell out of me.”

     Jongwoon gives a soft smile before schooling his features back to nothingness. Instead he pops out, having not the slightest idea about anything or the schedules. That’s where the manager comes in, anyway. “Is it the group schedule?”

     “Not until later.”

     Yongsun has starts sketching out of the building parking lot and driving to the highways. If Jongwoon is momentarily confused at his manager, he simply stares out through the window, taking in everything and nothing all at once. Jongwoon hasn’t realize after a while they have arrive at their designated destination.

     Jongwoon looks around. “What are we doing here?” The place isn’t suited at all for any commercial purposes. It’s so dry and bland. It looks like it is strictly coming out from a movie where the soldiers are training hard and-

     Jongwoon snaps at his manager beside him. “What the hell are we doing here?” he repeats, his eyes widening slightly upon realization at the writing on the wooden board standing at the left corner.

     “We’re leaving in fifteen,” says Yongsun simply, stepping out of the humming van.

     Perplexed, Jongwoon merely blinks in confusion. He notices the visiting hours during the weekends and mentally memorizes all the curfew details. Jongwoon can hear his heart beating right at his ear, his blood rushes through his body and straight to his brain. He feels sick suddenly, dizzy.

     “Let’s get moving,” urges Jongwoon, beating Yongsun, who comes back a moment later with two cans of drink.

     “We’ve still have plenty of time.”

     “We’re wasting time,” counters Jongwoon. “It’s not weekend.”

     Yongsun glances at the singer. “I see you’ve started using your brain. That’s good to know this help.”

     “Yeah, yeah, thanks to someone for this brilliant idea of his.” Jongwoon dryly humors.

 

/ / / / / /

 

     A year has passes rather quickly and Jongwoon still hasn’t work out on his courage to visit Ryeowook. He isn’t sure whether he should feel relief at how fast time seems to fly by or berated at himself for surviving a year unscathed, physically and emotionally. There are many things that have happened along the course of twelve months, yet if he is to be given a diary and write down anything to summarize the year, he can only remember two: Ryeowook’s solo and the unfortunate enlistment.

     Overall, it’s all one giant meshed, blurry image.

     One moment Jongwoon suddenly realizes Kyuhyun has been in the service for four months already and the next moment, Shindong has completed his military service, too. Now he is about to celebrate Sungmin, who will be officially discharge tomorrow.

     Jongwoon hasn’t had a chance to talk about Ryeowook’s solo with him, figuring he should actually do something – anything – so to get rid of the awkwardness. He doesn’t know where the uneasiness comes from to begin with. For all he knows, Sungmin has already married with the love of his life and he should congratulate him or throwing a party, or something. He doesn’t have any idea how to approach Saeun either.

     It feels like he is confined in a familiar house but restricted due the strangers are all surrounding him.

     Thus the first thing Jongwoon does that morning is sending a text message to Sungmin. Then, he makes sure to call Heechul, asking the other if he wants to tag along with him to lunch at Sungmin’s house. Jongwoon gets a confirmation from Heechul fifteen minutes later, when he is about to buy presents for Sungmin.

     It is certainly delusive when Jongwoon says he doesn’t feel guilty for not congratulating his friend for his anniversaries, but he is one big coward to begin with. He’s like living in a mansion where maids and butlers settle everything for him, wishing nothing ever upsets his life and anything else will keep on flowing with time.

 

     “So, how’s life?” Heechul begins, snacking once in a while as they – save for Saeun - are all hanging around the living room with various packaged foods in the coffee table.

     Jongwoon is actually looking at the various trophies and tokens put on display inside a glass rack. While Sungmin stands close beside Jongwoon, entertaining everything the older man is about to ask of him, he knows for a fact that Heechul directs the question at him, obviously.

     Sungmin spins around briefly. “I’m well alive, thank you for asking.”

     “I’d just found out Kyuhyun got a letter, Jongwoon. Ryeowook is forever a secretive soul,” Heechul adds, chuckling slightly. “Have you listened to yours yet?”

     Sungmin freezes in his spot, looking confused and a little bit hurt. “Are you coming here because of what might Ryeowook said to me?”

     “Don’t be silly,” says Jongwoon.

     “Of course, we are-“

     “Heechul,” Jongwoon warns at his older friend.

     “What? There’s no use of faking it,” says Heechul, staring at both of the younger men in front of him. “Certainly we are being selfish if we coming here solely for that purpose. Do we look like we stoop so low?”

     Sungmin snorts, turning himself completely and walking towards the disc partitioned section at the left side of the stereo. He draws out the familiar album at the top of the disc rack; prompting to insert the round shape disk inside the portable CD player when Sungmin is stops mid-way by Jongwoon’s hand on his.

     “Min,” calls Jongwoon. “You don’t have to do this.”

     “Honestly Jongwoon, don’t tell me that crap of wanting to spend times with him and nothing more.” Heechul continues, “Just plays it already.”

     Jongwoon groans, looking at Sungmin straight in his eyes. “Don’t listen to him.” Jongwoon honestly wonders why he thinks if he invites Heechul together with him will make things less complicated. He, unexpectedly, snaps then.

     “Please just stop stabbing each other behind my back. I do want a lunch, all right, which is less than thirty minutes now. I don’t need to know what Ryeowook says to Sungmin or what letter did he wrote to Kyuhyun, I don’t give a damn about that anymore,”

     “Really? If I’d remember correctly you’re the one that is so pissed for he sent you an album not a week earlier. You’re suddenly fine with it now?” Heechul says, challenging.

     “I’m fucking tired thinking about those times, alright. It’s been a year.” Jongwoon grows pale, sinking himself on the soft couch. “It’s one bloody year and I still couldn’t understand why he chooses to do this.”

     Sungmin looks between those two friends, noticing how ragged Jongwoon looks and taking in the fine lines on Heechul’s forehead suggesting that the older man is also frustrated with whatever that is happening within their band group. Impulsively, Sungmin puts down the disk and starts playing it.

     “Did any other member ever realize this?” Sungmin prompts, his voice overlapping with Ryeowook’s.

     “It’s a miracle,” mulls Heechul, fluttering his eyes close at Ryeowook’s melodious and soothing vocal. It’s been freaking a year and no else suspects anything.

     They bask in Ryeowook’s heavenly voice, track after track, momentarily forgotten that they should satisfy their hunger. As Saeun comes to the front, about to call out to them for the lunch is ready, she halts in her track. She recognizes the song, memorizing every word that entails straight away after that.

”First, apologies. Second, congratulations. I’m sorry I couldn’t have done more than that. Really, I’m sorry. ...Lead a happy life, hyung. The one you once told me while we’re still DJ-ing together. Find whatever you think will make you content and live your life happily. Third... thanks for everything.”

     If Jongwoon is quivering with undercurrent emotions, Heechul is almost sobbing, his lips tremble slightly. They both stand up from the couch simultaneously, attempting to disappear into somewhere else.

     Meanwhile, as Sungmin tilts his head, he sees his wife behind them, her eyes fill with apprehension. “Come to have lunch whenever you’re ready,” he says softly to both of his older friends. “We’ll be waiting.”

     Jongwoon doesn’t think he responds to Sungmin, but then again he is too caught up with the whirlpool of his own emotions to give proper reaction. Ryeowook ever calm tone doesn’t suggest if he ever did cry whenever he records the message but Jongwoon couldn’t help himself from tearing up. The words cut through him, it’s startlingly painful.

     Nevertheless, they have their lunch forty-five minutes late than intended. It takes more than their own willpowers to not crumble again at the sight of composed Sungmin interacting with his wife lovingly. They part when they don’t think they could handle anymore overwhelming moments, though Sungmin is laughing at them for being so sensitive and emotional prat.

 

     Things haven’t gone completely worst by the end of the first half of the new year, though certainly it hasn’t turn less nonplussed. Not when Jungsoo accidentally plays on Ryeowook’s solo album in Heechul’s house during one of the few days the leader decides to check on his members unannounced.

     Heechul is downright perplexed when he heard Ryeowook’s voice blasted through his stereo from his kitchen, running back to his living room at top speed.

     “The hell?” Heechul yells, snatching Ryeowook’s album and photo book from Jungsoo’s. He is supposed to stop the stereo from keep on playing Ryeowook’s track lists, if only he can actually find the damned remote control. He’s too late though.

Chullie hyung! Sorry, Heechul hyung. Taking care of me always and be there for me, thanks a lot. I love you, hyung. Also, remember when we were all together in Strong Heart? You’re my favorite hyung, always. Take care of yourself. Bye;

     Jungsoo turns to Heechul, his jaw dropping low. “What is that?”

     “You’d think?”

     “Answer me, you dimwit.”

     Heechul glares at his friend. “It’s Ryeowook’s,” he replies simply, placing back down Ryeowook’s items in his hands on the coffee table.

     Jungsoo stares some more at Heechul, prodding the other to keep on going, or else. But Heechul’s stubbornness is a no match for him. As he sighs audibly, Jungsoo plunks down on Heechul’s soft couch, retrieving the photo book back.

     Jungsoo lazily moves his fingers pages after pages, scanning every now and then. He’s killing time as well as waiting up for Heechul to start speaking the hell up already. It’s increasingly becoming a competition when Heechul doesn’t easily back down. They tangle deep in the stretched silence. Thankfully, it’s not that far too long.

     “I don’t know how to start,” Heechul finally confesses, wringing his hands together. “I’m sure you didn’t have anything this personal on yours.”

     “Personal? Why is that?”

     “You’d think I know? For fuck sake, listen to what your brain is trying to tell you. He’s everything you wanted to call him as being so choosy and selfish, always playing favorites. That’s right; he’s everything on the list.” Heechul is panting hard.

     “What happened exactly?”

     Heechul groans, finding his resolve crumbling like the breadcrumbs falling off the moistened meat on the heated pan. “What do you want to know exactly?”

     “Everything,” says Jungsoo, quirking his eyebrow slightly.

     “Be specific, damnit!”

     Jungsoo narrows his eyes at Heechul’s sudden rage. “I’m merely asking you. Don’t getting all work up on me. It’s not that I’m not suspected anything. But confirming it with my own ears and eyes wounded me no less.”

     Heechul blows air through his nose, irritated. “It won’t make you feel any better, either way. But I don’t know why Ryeowook dumps this right straight on our feet. I can barely talk to him. That little shit just flat out ignored me.”

     “Jongwoon knows then?”

     “Don’t fucking care. Probably he is, probably he’s not.”

     “Heechul-“

     “Don’t fucking start with me,” says Heechul, clenching his teeth together in anger. “You should be upset but all I fucking see is you and your usual calm face, all collected. Shit, aren’t you supposed to be angry or cry right now? He chose me instead of you.”

     Jungsoo averts his eyes. “Maybe I will once I’m outside of your apartment.”

     Heechul realizes then what has hit them close to home. “Fuck, I’m sorry.”

     They both lapse into silence, each refusing to acknowledge the elephant in the room. They are drowning in the noise that is Ryeowook’s charismatic honeyed voice. Each absorbs in their own pressing thoughts. It’s as if they are waiting for the pin to drop.

     “There might be something’s wrong somewhere,” Jungsoo starts after many moments has pass. “I can’t blame him, or anyone. I don’t want to blame myself either. Though I know I want to find someone to put the blame on. Ugh, these stupid tears ruin my make-up.”

     “Let’s just try not to put the blame on anyone. Not me, not you, not him, or anyone else for that matter. Don’t ever do that. It’s a struggle for him, too. Besides, there’s nothing we could have done.”

     For having such a bipolar personality and being so random, Jungsoo for once agrees with Heechul.

     “Damn, that is wise.” Jungsoo dryly chuckles, wiping away roughly at tears running down his face. He would have laugh out loud if not for how freaking sad he is now. “What’s done is done, huh?”

 

     As Ryeowook’s birthday has ended two weeks ago, Jongwoon decides then he should stop belittle himself and go straight to the target. He won’t actually ask for Ryeowook to come out to see him, because he can always watch from afar, right? Of course, he’s only planning to just sit and lounge around at the camp site.

     Well, easier said than done. It’s increasingly difficult not to bolt out of his car and go straight to the guard, demanding the guard to call out Ryeowook’s name, notifying that he has a visitor and he should come out and visit him. Gripping tightly at the steering wheel, Jongwoon attempts to regulate his thundering heartbeats to normal pace.

     Beads of sweat form on his temple, and Jongwoon acutely aware that he’s still in his car, the air-conditioner on full blast. His gaze flicks onto his passenger seat, taking in the large box of red rose decorating with ribbon at the top left corner. So, he’s been lying when he said he would just watch from afar.

     The original plan is delivering the gift to the security guard and leaving it there then he’ll leave the site straight away. Problem is Jongwoon isn’t sure if he wants to leave the site anytime soon. If possible, he wants to stay there till the curfew begins, till the guard comes up to his car and asks him to leave.

     Jongwoon doesn’t know if luck is on his side, but he is brimming with happiness when out of the corner of his eyes, he catches the sight of Ryeowook’s beloved parents. All the irrelevant, worrisome thoughts coiling inside his head are all gone – Jongwoon has throws all the caution to the wind as he scrambles to get himself out from his car, running up to Mr. and Mrs. Kim.

     Upon seeing that, Mr. Kim widens his eyes slightly, stopping in his track, surprised. “Jongwoon, what a coincidence.” Ryeowook’s father moves forward and hugs the young man.

     “You’re getting all skinny again, dear.” Jongwoon hears the concern in Mrs. Kim’s voice, coursing through Jongwoon’s, spreading warmth all over him. He pulls back slowly as smile makes it way on Jongwoon’s features.

     “Come, let’s meet Ryeowook together.” Mr. Kim says, pulling the young man along with him. His wife is at the other side of Jongwoon, stroking his backside lovingly.

     Attempting to stop Ryeowook’s father from advancing further ahead, Jongwoon lightly pulls Mr. Kim by his hand to a halt. “I’m afraid, I need to go now.” Jongwoon says, with no preamble.

     “Are you sure, dear?” Mrs. Kim is looking at Jongwoon straight in his eyes. The singer can feel his gut twisted wildly inside of him.

     “I brought a present for him, but really I can’t stay here for long,” says Jongwoon. Both Ryeowook’s parents stare some more at him. Jongwoon resists himself to not squirm under such scrutiny. “Let me get the present.”

     A minute later, Jongwoon comes back and thankfully, Mr. Kim just smiles at him. In case of Mrs. Kim, she just doesn’t believe the lie Jongwoon wants her to believe. Her gaze is doing something to his stomach but Jongwoon the actor smiles even brighter to conceal his nervousness.

     “Look at how late today is,” Jongwoon starts, “I should come last week though. Can you two do me a favor, please?”

     Mrs. Kim sighs. “Sure, of course. I just miss you, dear. You never visit us since the last time. How long it has been, love?” She looks at her husband, trying to see if her husband might provide an answer. But then she replies before her husband could give one. “A year,” she exclaims, shocked.

     Jongwoon merely grins; a bit apologetic he can’t bring himself to visit Ryeowook’s parents. He doesn’t think he has it in him to visit them when he’s also struggling to continue his life like any normal human.

     “I’m sorry. I’ll try to come by sooner,” he says.

     “Don’t beat yourself up, son. I’m sure you’ve been extremely busy to visit us.” Mr. Kim pats the young man by his shoulder. “Take care of yourself. We shall coming in now, love.”

     “Right,” Mrs. Kim says, hugging Jongwoon one last time. “Don’t go on diet too much, dear. I’ll see you again, hopefully.”

     “Sure. Take care of yourself, too.” Jongwoon bends his body slightly, waving his hand at both of them, watching them disappear with his gift.

 

     Since then, Jongwoon gets lucky to meet Ryeowook’s parents at the military camp site. Each time also, he gets lucky when they just watch him leaves despite demanding him to visit Ryeowook together with them. He hasn’t dared himself to ask whether Ryeowook ever mentions about him, or if Ryeowook’s parents are that clueless they don’t suspect anything.

     Jongwoon can’t be bothered with that thought for so many nights though. Recently, he’s been too overjoyed to think about anything else because Donghae, his favorite member of the group will be out of his military enlistment. Provided Hyukjae has been out a few days earlier that week, he doesn’t even know why he is beyond cloud nine with Donghae’s news of his enlistment has come to completion.

     The older singer waits patiently in front of Donghae’s apartment since that morning, feeling quite sure the genius composer would be return to his apartment first before going back to his parent’s home or roaming somewhere else. It has been a long torturous wait no matter how many years Jongwoon has experienced it before.

     Fortunately, after nearly four hours, Donghae does remember his way back home.

     “Goodness, I’m starving!” Jongwoon exclaims, winding himself through Donghae’s entrance easily and plopping down his face first on the couch. He groans appreciatively at the soft padding beneath him.

     “Why you’d come here anyway? I can’t cook still, even after my two years training with the policemen,”

     “Didn’t expect to,” says Jongwoon. His voice muffles by the couch, but Donghae doesn’t make commentary regarding that so Jongwoon assumes the composer hears him. “How you’ve been doing?”

     “Hmm,” Donghae tilts his head slightly, hands stop rummaging all the fan letters and the gifts that come along with it. “I’ve been fine, as always.”

     Jongwoon nods comically, watching the younger man returns to the mountains of letters, gifts and whatnot. As comfortable silence dawns upon them, and Jongwoon hears himself talking.

     “I’d receive Ryeowook’s message through his album.”

     “Don’t we all?” Donghae says, his eyes still scanning the various handwritings and some other fan arts, all beautiful and detailed.

     “It’s a slight different from others.”

     “Of course, it is. We get directly and exclusively from him.”

     “Mine is exclusively different from everyone else.”

     “Sure-“ Donghae spins around then. His eyes brim with confusion. “Did you just say what I think you just said?”

     Jongwoon raises his shoulder in a shrug. “That Ryeowook records a different message for me; yeah I think you heard it correctly.”

    “No, really, what are you talking about?” Donghae drops everything in his hand, standing to his feet. He tries to remember where he puts Ryeowook’s solo album the last time he played it - right, in the bedroom. Dashing to his bedroom, Donghae emerges with a familiar album in his hand a beat later.

     He stood frozen in his stance, couldn’t understand suddenly where this has led them. With Jongwoon, who still looking at him with his usual hawk-like eyes, the composer doesn’t even know if he even wanted to know what he desperately wants to know.

     “... Why are you telling me this? A-After all this time?” Donghae doesn’t realize he stammers out, his heart sounding as if it might jump out of his throat.

     Everything around them seems to standstill, too. It is like time, out of its kindness, wants to tell Donghae of nothing would mean anything even after Jongwoon drops the hammer on him. Things will stay the way it always is, except Donghae knows time is not a soul. Time is never a living body; it never knows how to stop things from happening.

     Only human can prevent that.

     Meeting Jongwoon’s eyes, Donghae notices the older man is probably feeling guilty. Jongwoon’s eyes are all shaky and moist, shame is written on his face. But what’s with the guilt, Donghae dares himself to ask, but he swallows his curiosity because suddenly he knows why Jongwoon chooses to blurt out those thoughts first thing first since he has met him.

     Jongwoon might feel so conflicted, only can be freed of it when Donghae is finally out of the military service.

     “Hyung,” whispers Donghae.

     Jongwoon lets out a shaky smile, and for a moment Jongwoon maintains his gaze on Donghae’s before ducking his head finally, turning to his side to thumb his tears way. Jongwoon knows his throat has closes up on him, a huge lump in its passageway prohibiting him from saying anything.

     Donghae steps forward then, wrapping his hands around the older member. Jongwoon lets Donghae manhandles him, his energy is waning, enough to effectively stop his impressive façade. Tears involuntarily running down his face as Jongwoon hide his face at the crook of Donghae’s neck.

     “I’d miss him,” sobs Jongwoon. “I really, really miss him.”

     Jongwoon hasn’t wished Donghae would understand where he would be coming from, but he continues to ramble on nevertheless. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know why no one ever confides in me and demands answers from me. I’m so lost, and I feel bad.”

     “Why would you feel bad?”

     Jongwoon leans away slightly, chancing a look at Donghae, tears streaking his face. “Did you know the whole story?”

     “Course not,” Donghae answers, “but it doesn’t matter, does it?”

     Jongwoon chuckles softly, thumbing at the running tears off his face. He repositions himself beside Donghae, snuggling close to the composer. “Yeah, I’d guess it’s not.”

     “So what’s with the guilty look?”

     Jongwoon shrugs. “If I’ve known what has been troubling him, no one would end up with this mess. He won’t... ask us not to visit him, or he won’t prepare this hard...”

     “Did you?”

     “Huh?”

     Donghae rests his hand on Jongwoon’s shoulder. “Did you know what’s been troubling him? And even if you know, would it make things different from the way it is now?”

     Jongwoon sighs audibly. Truthfully, Ryeowook makes all those decisions long ago before Jongwoon even has a thought that perhaps this is his fault. “What would you do if you were me, and you know there’s something wrong?”

     “I won’t do anything. I don’t know. Those are his decision; it’s not really my place to say anything. I won’t judge him.”

     “I’m not judging him.” Jongwoon looks livid.

     “I didn’t say that, did I? We can’t do anything about it, you know. As long as he’s still Ryeowook we used to know, that’s more than enough.”

     “Sure you’d still feel fine after the hurt he caused you when you guys used to be fighting with each other?” Jongwoon asks, suddenly curious.

     Donghae glares at his fellow band member. “It’s one hellish memory of him that I can’t seem to bury it past me, knowing he’d got hurt, too, in the process. But, we don’t resent each other anymore.”

     “I don’t think anyone ever resent him. Silently, maybe. But that’s not enough to kill him for it.”

     “It wasn’t even worth it,” Donghae says, laughing lightly after a moment he has realizes where this conversation has been spiraled down. “Let’s stop, just, what are we even trying to say actually? This is funny.”

     “You’d start it first,” Jongwoon retorts.

     “No, it’s you. You’re asking for my opinion.”

     “But then you took trip down to memory lane. All I’m expecting is maybe you still feel bitter about that ancient incident.”

     “It’s not ancient,” Donghae raises in his voice a notch in an attempt to defend himself. “If you didn’t start crying then maybe we both will be free from this mess.”

     Jongwoon pushes Donghae by his chest. “It’s not my fault my dam just broke. Plus, you’re cozy. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

     “Yeah, glad to know I’m still a cozy place for you to utilize.”

     “Shut up, muscle man.” Jongwoon pushes Donghae again, lifting himself off the couch before disappearing to the bathroom. “Make me some food. I’m still starving,” he yells from the bathroom.

     Donghae merely shakes his head, laughing some more at the stupidity of them both. He then pulls out his phone from his jeans, dialing for take-out food restaurant and gets it delivers to his door.  

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