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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 :)
Apologies for the lateness of this last part >,<



/ / / / / /

       Finally, Siwon the dorkiest human in their group returns after nearly two years in the police force, alongside with Changmin and Donghae. Despite Siwon the busiest member out of them and he still is, considering everyone lines up to interview him and offers him projects, they fit themselves with an impromptu reunion.

       Hosting at Siwon’s family residence, Jongwoon is definitely surprised to see the other artists of their same company come along. He bumps to Joonmyun and Baekhyun at the front, just after he slips himself out of his car.

       “Oh, hey, guys.” Jongwoon greets them rather cheerily, masking the unnerving feeling inside of him. He wants to ask how they know about the dinner arrangement, but his mouth has stop working again. “Glad to meet you here.”

       “Our apologies if you find us a nuisance. Just, Changmin-hyung on behalf of Siwon-hyung extends the invitation to everyone in the agency.” Joonmyun explains upon seeing the confusion brews in Jongwoon’s eyes. He already feels bad for some of Super Junior’s members don’t know anything about it.

       Jongwoon smiles, shaking all the negative thoughts out of his head and pulling himself up to Joonmyun’s side, “Nah, the more is the merrier, doesn’t it? Come on, let’s get inside. It’s cold out here.”

       They stroll down the garden leads to the patio at the right side of the residence. The pool shimmers invitingly and from afar, Jongwoon could discern which one are his band members and which aren’t. Apparently, tonight is boys’ night.

       As Jongwoon realizes he is the last one of his group to arrive, Shindong and Hyukjae both catcall at him once they spotting him. Baekhyun and Joonmyun, who stand beside him, decide to run forward, abandoning him. Jongwoon continues pacing towards Sungmin instead, insistently ignoring the rappers’ mocking whistles.

       “Where’s your wife?” Jongwoon inquires.

       “She’s at the kitchen, helping our mothers out.”

       “This is quite a feast,” Jongwoon says, noticing everyone around the pool is merely the children. Their fathers’ are probably at the living room judging from how the noise coming from that part of the house echoing through. “Are we dining here?”

       “I’m not really sure. The table there is not enough for everyone. Jungsoo-hyung suggested serving in buffets,” says Sungmin.

       Out of the corner of his eyes, Jongwoon catches the sight of Yunho and Changmin lightly bantering with each other as they walk towards them. “I’m going to head inside. Wanna come along?”

       “Sure.”

       Turns out, there are several others in Siwon’s lounge area. Jinki, Jongdae and Kyungsoo are all engaging in a conversation while Heechul and Taemin are in a heated battle as they play car-race game on PSP. Henry, Jonghyun and Sehun merely cheer on the two players.

       “Finally, Jongwoon,” Heechul begins, his eyes still on the big screen in front of him, “took you thousand years to come here.”

       Jongwoon snorts. “As if you miss me.”

       Jongwoon walks past the bunch of people there, leaving Sungmin behind and marching to the kitchen. Once his eyes meet Ryeowook’s mother’s’, each one of the mother take turn to hug him and pat him in the back. He passes a smile at Saeun, who stood far at the back of the kitchen, watching over a big pot, probably the soup.

       Jongwoon stands close to his mother. “Did Jongjin drive both you and dad here?”

       “No,” Mrs. Kim counters, “Ryeowook parents insist to pick us up.”

       “I’ll drive you both back later on. Is everything here nearly done?”

       Mrs. Kim glances at the many meals on the kitchen countertop. “Maybe you can carry some of them out. Ask Heechul’s mom, she’s in charge.”

       Jongwoon notices every dish was in pair as he walks out of the kitchen and stands at the other side of the countertop.

       As Heechul’s mother glances up at Jongwoon, she waves her hand at him. “Honey, take them first to the lounge area. Once everything settles, please ask the fathers to eat okay?”

       By the time everyone has satisfied their hunger, one by one leaves, which eventually it reduces to only Super Junior’s members and their families. Of course it is profound with the lack of the other two youngest members in the house, but both Ryeowook and Kyuhyun’s parents are somehow filling up the void.

       Suggesting earlier to his mother that Ryeowook’s parents should spend the night at their home, Jongwoon only hopes his mother did relay the message. The night has deepens and it’s a matter of politeness for him to offer such convenience. Fortunately, when the time everyone finally agrees to start moving and heading back to their own home, Ryeowook’s father walks beside Jongwoon.

       “Would it be fine to have me and my wife back in your car as well, son? I’m afraid I can’t trust my night vision that much,” says Mr. Kim.

       Jongwoon turns him head slightly, smiling. “Sure, of course. I’ll fetch your car tomorrow with Jongjin. By the way, thanks for driving my parents here earlier.”

       Mr. Kim smiles back. “No worries, I’m just happened to be there. Your mother said Jongjin was busy with the café. Besides, we’re family. It shouldn’t be such thing as burden when a member of your family needs a help, does it?” Mr. Kim pats Jongwoon’s shoulder, “I’ll wait outside with your father.”

       Watching Ryeowook’s father marches past him and through the entrance, Jongwoon merely stands in the living room for full one minute. Only the clanking pots in the kitchen shake Jongwoon out from his reverie. He paces back to the kitchen and helps put everything back in order. In fact, everyone is there, except the fathers.

       After thirty-minute, the members begin ushering themselves to the front, and one by one slipping past the mahogany door. As Jongwoon is stuck in between Donghae and Hyukjae, listening listlessly the light banter between the younger two, he finds himself drifting to one of memory where they are last gathered with their parents along.

       Unbeknownst to him, Hyukjae is asking something of him. Jongwoon manages to save his face though he fails miserably nevertheless when Hyukjae unceremoniously jabs at his stomach lightly. He whips his head and vaguely registers the slight fear in Donghae’s eyes.

       “What?” Jongwoon realizes he is faltering.

       “Please, stop daydreaming. It’s not daytimes yet. Anyway, have you met Ryeowook while he’s in the army yet?” Hyukjae asks.

       Jongwoon wets his dry lips. “Why do you ask?”

       “I miss him. That brat hasn’t come to see me, not even once. I’m going to make his life living hell when I visit him next time.” Hyukjae takes a step forward, leaving the two other men lagging behind. It is apparent to Jongwoon that Hyukjae is slightly irritated.

       Chancing a side-glance at Donghae, Jongwoon tries to remember how to speak. “I can’t believe you’d miss him.”

       “Yeah, it’s weird, I know.” Hyukjae turns himself around then. “When are you free? Let’s visit him sometimes this weekend. You can join us, too, Hae.”

       Donghae is actually frozen in his track. “Uh, I’m not really sure.”

       “Which one you’re not sure about? Joining us or sparing sometimes this weekend?” Hyukjae narrows his eyes at his best friend.

       “Well,” Donghae spies at Jongwoon’s reaction, “both, I guess?”

       Hyukjae catches the not-so subtle gesture and flicks his gaze at Jongwoon, before darting his eyes back and forth between the two adults. “Am I missing something here? Why you looked so pale, hyung?”

       Jongwoon snaps his head at Hyukjae’s unexpected revelation. “Am I? Sorry, I don’t-“ he breaks off when Donghae resting his hand on Jongwoon’s upper arm.

       Gulping nervously, Jongwoon marches to Hyukjae and half-drags the unsuspected man into somewhere people won’t overhear them. Donghae follows closely behind them and stops up short the second Jongwoon releases Hyukjae, just at the start of the path leading to the pool at the back.

       “What this is all about?” Hyukjae, confused as ever, staring up past Jongwoon’s shoulder, wanting to have a look at Donghae. The composer seems to be not as surprised as him though. “Did you know something you failed to tell me, Hae?”

       “I’m sorry,” admits Donghae.

       “What-“

       “I haven’t be able to see him. We are all haven’t, not even once.” Jongwoon starts, so soft it feels like the night breeze might as well carry it away but loud enough Hyukjae widens his eyes at Jongwoon’s admission.

       “You can’t be freaking serious, are you?” Hyukjae whispers. His shaking tone betrays his composure.

       Jongwoon drops his gaze on the flowery path below him. It isn’t the fact that everything concerning Ryeowook is serious instead it is the surreality of everything revolving them. “It’s mutually agreed...after a long discussion. We’re going to need to respect that.”

       “You and the hyungs?” Hyukjae’s tone has incredulous quality in it.

       Jongwoon nods rather reluctantly. “I’m sorry.”

       “What are you apologizing for? It’s not like I couldn’t visit him once you guys have decided not to. I’ll find his address through my mom. Don’t worry.” Hyukjae walks away angrily from them soon after.

       As Donghae watches his friend stalking off, Jongwoon has already turns himself around. “I’d better get going. Drive back carefully, hmm?” Jongwoon disappears from Donghae’s view rather fast.

 

       Back in EXO’s dormitory building, specifically in Jongdae’s room, Kyungsoo is lazed around on Jongdae’s bed. They don’t talk to each other per se because both are occupied with their own thoughts while Jongdae runs around his shared room with Yixing, sorting it neat and clean. Kyungsoo merely watches, noticing then the familiar CD gifted by Ryeowook on the desk.

       “Is it okay to let it lays out in the open like that?” Kyungsoo wonders.

       “Hmm,” Jongdae leans himself slightly away from his wardrobe and looks over his shoulder. Kyungsoo is pointing his finger on the desk. “Oh, I’ll keep it hidden later. Let me sort everything in here, first.”

       “Don’t say I didn’t remind you.”

       Jongdae just goes back to his task at hand, not minding much with Kyungsoo’s warning. “Did you remember what Jinki-hyung said earlier?”

       “The one he almost slipped himself out?”

       Jongdae shakes his head in amusement, chuckling lightly “Then, he smoothly covered himself up like there was nothing happened, yeah, that one.”

       “You’re suspecting he got one from Ryeowook-hyung, don’t you?”

       Jongdae closes the door to his wardrobe. “Like you aren’t. Just, sometimes I wonder who else gets the special album like us.”

       “Who knows?” Kyungsoo stares up at the high ceiling. “We’ve been hiding this for as long as we could. Who knows if one second we couldn’t?”

       “If you want to jinx yourself, by any means, please do so. But don’t you dare to involve me, too. I need to live, okay.”

       “You’d think I don’t need to? Pfttt,” Kyungsoo huffs in annoyance.

       “Well then, stop jinx at yourself, or me. I don’t need-“

       “Guys,” Joonmyun’s voice outside the door has Jongdae springs up in action.

       Moving fast towards his desk, Jongdae lightly grasp at the CD, slowly turning himself so his back shielding the album, just in time when Joonmyun finally appears at the doorstep of Jongdae’s room. Kyungsoo has straightens his back, stiff in his stance, smiling at the leader.

       “Yes?” Kyungsoo offers.

       “Oh,” Joonmyun says awkwardly, “I thought Yixing is here.”

       “You want to talk to him? He’s with Baekhyun down at your dorm. You don’t see him?” Jongdae feels his words leaving him a mile a minute. But when Joonmyun responds with no suspicion whatsoever, Jongdae assumes his words are all normal.

       “I want to talk with both of you, actually.” Joonmyun shyly rubs his nape. “That’s fine. I’ll talk with you guys later then.”

       “If you’re so sure,” says Jongdae, smiling softly. “I’ll let you know once he’d get back here.”

       Joonmyun returns the smile, attempting to walk away when suddenly he pokes his head back, startling the hell out of the two singers.

       “On a second thought, maybe-” Joonmyun notices the muscle locking Jongdae’s jaws is strained tight and the startling look from Kyungsoo, “you two looked sort of conflicted. What is it?” Wondering, Joonmyun steps back inside the room, advancing a few steps further, and Kyungsoo grows stiff.

       “Uh, we’re fine?” Jongdae averts his eyes to everywhere past Joonmyun’s shoulders.

       Then, Joonmyun puts himself to a halt, a fair amount of distance between him and Jongdae. “Why, -I don’t think so.” He moves his body slightly to his side, taking in Kyungsoo, who just stares up back at him. “Is this the part where I’m going to respect you both because you can’t tell me anything?”

       For a briefest moment, Kyungsoo and Jongdae can’t seem to find the appropriate, non-offended answer as a response. Joonmyun has to admit then, that there is definitely something going on between the two boys. Unconsciously, Joonmyun sighs, loud. He’s disappointed, to be frank.

       “I’ll meet you and Yixing tomorrow morning at nine. Do inform him. Night,” offers Joonmyun, leaving the two singers behind him confounded.

 

/ / / / / /

 

       So Ryeowook has been informed - by his mother of course – that his hyungs are all completed their service, and he doesn’t expect anyone from those five bunch of men to come visit him. Like, Ryeowook never suspects if the guard on the facility centre calls him and says he gets visitor, it would be them. Not after a year he’s been in this place, and no one ever dares to come.

       It goes beyond words on how to express exactly the surprise that mars Ryeowook’s face upon seeing Hyukjae sitting on a bench, near the window. He stands at the doorway separating the visiting area and his so-called second home, momentarily trying to think if he should just turn himself back and leave for his dormitory room.

       However, Hyukjae has already looking at his way, waving enthusiastically in a manner he wants Ryeowook to walk hurriedly to him. Ryeowook breaks out a smile, hoping it’s huge enough as if he’s delighted to see the other, when in reality he wishes he can simply ask Hyukjae to leave him alone with no further fuss down the hall.

       Ryeowook rounds the many table around him ever slowly, wanting to delay whatever Hyukjae might throw at him later. Hyukjae, waiting so patiently, watches Ryeowook moves with twinkling eyes, smile adorning his features.

       Hyukjae isn’t wasting time when Ryeowook finally sits down across from him, his face is still smiling. “What are you playing at, my dear Ryeowook?”

       Flicking his gaze at the older man in front of him, Ryeowook visibly cringe at Hyukjae’s words and pretends he doesn’t understand the question. Though he just remains silent because he suddenly runs out of anything relevant to say. He hasn’t bothered himself before, when after the first three months he’s been enlisted, everyone obliges to his rule. Ryeowook has stop bothering since then.

       “I’m not playing anything,” Ryeowook finally settles on.

       “Okay,” says Hyukjae. “You’re doing well here, I guess?”

       Ryeowook raises his shoulder in a little shrug. “I survive.”

       “Good. Great to know.”

       Silence befalls unto them, forcing Ryeowook to quietly sit still despite the Hyukjae’s unspoken words threatening to strangle him to death. But, he’s not going to do any stupid thing; he can endure the older man just like how he can endure anything precariously dangerous thrown off at him.

       “Speak to me, Ryeowook. Did you achieve anything by playing this game?”

       “I’m not playing anything.”

       “Alright, you’re being serious then.” Hyukjae states as matter-of-factly, “and did you achieve anything you’d wish?”

       Ryeowook is not saying anything again.

       “Look, I know I miss something here, I mean, like one-year worth memory missing. That’s pretty massive, don’t you think? Come on, fill me in. I’m the closest you’d get if you push Jongwoon, Kyuhyun and Heechul away.”

       “It’s nothing,” Ryeowook mutters out, relenting.

       “You know I think that’s all crap, don’t you?”

       Ryeowook glares slightly before shifting his eyes towards the window. There’s a large tree trunk far at the back of the field and he focuses his eyes on the sturdy tree and its fallen leaves on the ground.

       “It doesn’t have anything to do with anyone. I’m not doing this for myself either. Perhaps I just want a peace of mind?”

       “How so?”

       Shrugging, Ryeowook falls back into silent.

       “It’s alright then. I shall leave now. Thanks for coming to see me up here. I really miss you, brat.”

       Watching Hyukjae walks away from him out of the corner of his eyes hits Ryeowook with a pang of guilt, and he has to breathe deeply to wash away the terrible feeling. Hopefully, the other man will not be so persistent and start bugging him to no end by visiting him still.

 

       The following week, Ryeowook is grateful for his parents come down instead of Hyukjae. He’s literally all smiling, his parents close to having a panic attack. He’s being clingier than usual, playing and doing sort of cute things to them.

       “Sweetheart, whoever gets you so giddy?” Mrs. Kim studies her son, “Is it Jongwoon?”

       Ryeowook makes a weird face. “Why you’d always come up with his name? No one ever comes here, mom.”

       “Dear, I notice that.” Mrs. Kim says, suddenly turning all serious and her husband looks as shocked as her son.

       Ryeowook blinks, a bit nervous. “What are you saying?”

       “Oh, nothing. Just wondering whether those boys really busy all the time,” says Mrs. Kim.

       “Honey,” says Mr. Kim, placing his hand over his wife’s gently.

       Mrs. Kim flashes a wry smile, bringing her other free hand and reaching over Ryeowook’s. “Really, dear, I’m just curious. Every time we met Jongwoon outside, he won’t come in along with us. Is something perhaps happened between you two?”

       “Mom,” Ryeowook whines under his breath, squeezing his mother’s hand.

       “No, don’t use that puppy eyes on me. Is there anything wrong at all? Please, dear, I feel so restless every time you avoiding my question.”

       “Nothing is wrong...at least I think nothing is wrong,” Ryeowook says softly.

       “Oh, sweetheart.” Mrs. Kim cries out in a voice that Ryeowook doesn’t like to listen to it. It’s a voice full of pity directed at him and he doesn’t need that pity.

       “Mother, I’m fine.” Ryeowook tries to reassure her.

       “You’re not, darling. You’re just pretending to be fine.”

       “Why would I pretend?”

       “I don’t have any idea, dear. I don’t have any idea.” Tears make its way down Mrs. Kim’s haggard face.

       “Mother,” Ryeowook’s voice raises a notch, panicking in the inside, “why are you crying now? Listen to your son, I’m fine. Nothing is wrong with me, nothing is wrong with everyone else. We are all just fine.”

       Ryeowook chances a glance at his father, urging him to console his wife as well. Though, it takes three beats before Mr. Kim turns to his wife and comforts her by stroking her back gently in circles. Caressing his mother’s hand in his, Ryeowook focuses on his mother’s breathing.

       Ryeowook doesn’t say anything else after that, only continues reassuring his mother with his ministration. Partly because no amount of words can actually convince him as well as his mother that everything will be fine; the other part is his mother will never believe him anyway. She knows her son is not quite fine as he always insists on.

 

       It never means to be any drama, well Jongwoon likes to think there isn’t, when Mrs. Kim unexpectedly calls him while he’s in the van, and Yongsun is driving him to his apartment. He practically sprints down to the parking lot once he ends the phone call and slips out from the van, fumbling with his car key inside his jeans pocket. Slotting the key in ignition, Jongwoon speeds off his car out of the building.

       Jongwoon arrives approximately forty-five minute later. He hurriedly runs to both Mr. and Mrs. Kim, apologizing profusely.

       “I’m so sorry for keeping you wait,” Jongwoon says breathlessly, raking his eyes across the space in front of him and noticing Mr. Kim’s car is nowhere to be found.

       Mrs. Kim strokes Jongwoon’s back, apologetic as well. “We’re the one should be sorry for asking you to come here and fetch us.”

       “Let’s get inside the car first,” Jongwoon says, leading both Ryeowook’s parent towards his car. Once, they’re in, and Jongwoon gets his oxygen again, he asks. “What happens to the car?”

       “I’ve call some help. He’s already brought the car back to his shop,” says Mr. Kim.

       “Where is the shop? Is it somewhere around here?”

       “The one coming earlier, he would gladly transfer the car at their Incheon branch.”

       “Oh, thank goodness.” Jongwoon sighs in relief, his body sagging against the seat behind him. “Was the water in the car is not enough?”

       Mrs. Kim laughs then. “It’s just flat tires, dear. Nothing’s much to be worried about. Don’t know why it happens right at this instant though.”

       “Oh,” Jongwoon replies dumbly.

       Jongwoon then sketches out from the parking lot, momentarily dazed with all the adrenaline rush inside him, still running through his bloodstream. Occasionally, both Ryeowook’s parents talk with each other or hum along to the songs on radio. Jongwoon laughs every now and then at their fun antics.

       Jongwoon makes a mistake when he almost passes the exit to Incheon, forgetting they’re not living in Seoul. He sheepishly grins in embarrassment when Mrs. Kim teases him.

       “Who’s the one occupying your head right now, dear?” Mrs. Kim, sitting at the back, moves forward slightly and pats Jongwoon by his thigh. “By the way, Ryeowook wishes happy birthday to you.”

       Surprised, Jongwoon nearly makes a second mistake, when he attempts to look at Mrs. Kim and confirms his suspicion. Luckily, Mr. Kim at the passenger side manages to swerve the car back into the right lane.

       “Sorry,” Jongwoon says, gripping tight at the steering wheel. His heart lurches and his heartbeats almost drown the white noises around him but his own.

       “Oh, boy, you’re excited.” Jongwoon hears faintly Mrs. Kim says. Her laughter is echoing all over the car. “He definitely says that, though it is already passed two months now, doesn’t it?”

       “Yeah,” Jongwoon croaks out, barely managing.

       Jongwoon’s mind is racing as thousand scenarios play in front of his eyes. But he can’t afford to make the third mistake or any mistake ever if he wants Ryeowook’s parents to be up and alive. Briefly shutting his thoughts off, Jongwoon attempts conversation with Mr. Kim, asking whether they have eaten, or if they simply wanting to stop by somewhere.

       They do stop at rest area due to the fact Mrs. Kim fearing Jongwoon might feel tired and need a breather before continuing their journey. When they are ready to move again, Jongwoon is momentarily surprised at the sight Mrs. Kim on his passenger seat.

       Jongwoon swivels around. “Are you okay at the back there, sir?”

       “Of course,” says Mr. Kim, smiling. “I can finally shut my eyes. Hope you don’t mind.”

       “Please do, you two must be tired after everything.”

       The journey back is much calmer. Jongwoon gets to think about many things and creates as many as possible possibilities about how Ryeowook suddenly dares to talk about him with his parents. Jongwoon is too occupied with his bubbles of thought inside his head, to actually realize Mrs. Kim has woken up from her nap. By default, he misses out how Mrs. Kim reaches over his glove compartment and takes out the artistic album of Ryeowook’s beautiful face.

       Jongwoon is still in his own world when Mrs. Kim inserts the disk in the CD player. The singer behind the wheel only belatedly realizes Ryeowook’s voice is singing to him as Mrs. Kim mutters to herself, and Jongwoon can hear her just fine.

       “I can hardly believe myself that I gave birth to this wonderful boy,” says Mrs. Kim. Her tone holds no amazement or pride. “Since child, he couldn’t get what he wants until later.”

       Torn apart between responding to Mrs. Kim’s admission and preparing himself for the inevitable question later on, Jongwoon keeps on driving, opting to immerse himself in Ryeowook’s delicate but powerful voice. Though when the time comes, Jongwoon finds of himself unable to articulate anything.

       Mrs. Kim directs her puzzlement at Jongwoon as a message plays out, and also when a hidden track of Ryeowook’s serenading him acoustically. Sweats start to form at the back of his nape, chills threatening to consume him. He feels Mr. Kim at the back also gazes at him curiously.

       Jongwoon hasn’t said anything and neither both of Ryeowook’s parents. The track repeats itself to another one, and another one, then the message and then another track. Once the disk nears its finish, and before it goes repeating for the second time, Jongwoon opens his mouth.

       “I’m not sure on Ryeowook’s intention, but I do get this custom-made solely for me. But not just me. Heechul and Kyuhyun both have one directly directed at them. ...I’m not sure either if the other members know about it.”

       Jongwoon can’t tell actually because he’s too busy comforting himself and that he still is in his grief state to acknowledge if his band members have starting to know about it, too. He’s too upset to detect anything or something.

       They arrive home, just when Ryeowook’s voice tells Jongwoon to have his back like he would with Jongwoon’s. After that, it’s all blurry. Jongwoon hasn’t dare to look at either Ryeowook’s parents but he thinks Mr. Kim opens the door slowly and it stays that way for a moment.

       It’s Mrs. Kim who succeeds in slipping herself first out of Jongwoon’s car. Tears staining her face and she trudges heavily inside her house, with her head down. Mr. Kim follows suit after her in a beat.

       Jongwoon isn’t sure himself if he sheds tears, too. He’s lost on time orientation as well, as all he can see is Ryeowook and his amazing voice singing at him, over and over again. After quite some time pass, Jongwoon eventually pulls out the disk out of the player, placing the disk safely back in its case and into the glove compartment and lastly drawing the car key out of ignition.

       As Jongwoon nears the entrance, Mrs. Kim’s subdued cry envelops him in another emotional level, and this time Jongwoon is sure he can’t easily escape. The moment he steps his foot inside the house, Mrs. Kim stops herself. Jongwoon instantly feels bad, so he walks towards her, sitting beside her on the couch and winding his hands slowly around the wonderful woman.

       “I’m sorry,” Jongwoon whispers on her back.

       That makes everything worse apparently; Mrs. Kim cries another batch of fresh tears and it’s absolutely breaking Jongwoon’s heart into pieces. He never know if Mrs. Kim mad at him for keeping this as a secret as long as he can, or if she’s actually disappointed that she gets to know something this important now.

       Either way, Jongwoon doesn’t have any idea why he apologizing to her in the first place. And he certainly has no clue whatsoever when he keeps throwing the words out of his throat.

       “Ryeowook doesn’t mean anything by that, just so you know. Probably he has a bad day, is all. You know how he is, he’s your son.” Jongwoon tries to smile but fails miserably.

       “Because I know him the best, it breaks my heart dear.”

       “I’m sorry,” repeats Jongwoon.

       Mrs. Kim leans back slightly. “It’s not your fault. Stop saying sorry. It’s not like I’m mad at him, or you. I’m just taken aback a little. I’m surprised, dear, because he’s my son. And his wonderful voice in that message is all I remember now. I can’t- I’m sorry.” Mrs. Kim rises to her feet, disappearing to the kitchen.

       A moment later, Mr. Kim climbs down the stairs and occupies the seat across from Jongwoon. They don’t engage themselves in a conversation, no nothing still even after Mrs. Kim comes back to the living room with a tray of a plate of cookies, a jug of orange juice and three glasses.

       Jongwoon watches Mrs. Kim in confusion.

       “Fill your stomach with this first, and might as well wait for dinner. You can rest upstairs in Ryeowook’s room by the mean time,” Mrs. Kim says, chuckling lightly when Jongwoon just nods dumbly at her words.

       Tempting with the good food in front of him, Jongwoon pops one inside his mouth. Then another, and another, and another, and another. All the while, he hasn’t realizes both Mr. and Mrs. Kim have already retreat from the living room area. Though he is surprised nevertheless when he’s all alone, he eyes the last two cookies on the plate. At least he knows he shouldn’t waste such yummy food, so he consumes them all.

       Soon after he downs the juice in his glass, he brings the tray back to the kitchen. Again, he’s surprised when the elderly couple isn’t in there. Jongwoon puts the jug in the fridge while the rest in the sink. He washes and rinses them before heading upstairs to rest.

       Despite Jongwoon only takes about forty-five minute nap, he feels refresh already. Thus, he tidies back Ryeowook’s bed and leaves the room, climbing down the stairs and going for the kitchen.

       “Are you sure you’re okay, honey? You look pale though. Maybe you should sleep some more,” Mrs. Kim says, insisting while she’s rummaging through the cabinet for some spice or sort.

       “I am fine. Perhaps, I’m a bit hungry.” Jongwoon lets out an embarrassing laugh when his stomach makes some noise. He hopes she doesn’t hear that.

       “Poor boy,” Mrs. Kim coos, handing him a glass of juice from before. “Have this; the bean sprout soup will be done some time soon.”

       It might because the casual ambiance around the kitchen that prompts Jongwoon to confess, or maybe the fact that Mrs. Kim still attending the soup on the stove, unable her to keep on eye contact with him.

       “I admit that I’m pretty jealous when I know Heechul-hyung gets to have Ryeowook’s album a week earlier before he sent one to me. I was this close to punch the poor guy. But the same night I opened the album, Yongsun called me. He said Ryeowook was going to sleep in a hotel. So, I went there.”

       Jongwoon plays with the rim of the glass as he continues. “Maybe I’m the one that has let him down. I’ve been doing that quite a lot actually, in the earlier days after my military discharge. It comes haunting me sometimes.”

       “What could possibly be of you thinking you’re letting my son down?”

       Jongwoon cuts a glance up at the mother across from him. She’s standing near the stove, though she has already turns off the gas. “For one, I’m playing with my phone during his play. Also, when I playfully makes him kisses Kyuhyun on the mouth. I think he didn’t like it that I got him so caught off guard. I don’t know, overall I just feel bad.”

       “Do they still haunt you now?”

       Jongwoon takes his time before shaking his head side by side. “Somehow, they’re just gone. After I met you the first time at the camp site.”

       “Was it the first time you’d ever come there, too?”

       Jongwoon is caught off guard, eyes widens in surprise upon realizing the words that have been leaving him. He means to apologize to the woman who’s been petrified at the thought her son is hiding something from her, but all his words never make their way past his mouth. They’re all stuck somewhere in his throat.

       “We’ve put two and two together, dear. Don’t worry.” Mrs. Kim flashes a small smile when Jongwoon looks up at her again. “I said earlier it’s not your fault. And I say this again now, you’re not doing anything wrong. Jongwoon, I can’t imagine what you and the others have been gone through, but we as Ryeowook’s parents, glad that you’ll always have each other’s back despite everything.”

       Gripping the glass before his eyes, Jongwoon forces his words to come out. “How long you’ve- Did you mad at all? Mr. Kim?”

       Mrs. Kim laughs dryly. “In the beginning, they’re just all suspicions on our own. It doesn’t matter, anyway. Considering everything is fine they way they’ll always are... I can’t ask for anything else.”

       “Although,” Mr. Kim suddenly appears at the kitchen doorstep, “we might never know what had gone wrong, and you guys won’t tell us anything I’m sure, it still left an impression on us. Everything keeps on surprising us.”

       Instantly, Jongwoon rises to his feet. However, Mrs. Kim is faster, holding the young singer in her arms, hugging him. “Do not ever feel guilty about anything. Don’t blame yourself for whatever that is.”

       “Mrs. Kim-“

       “Let the past be the past, Jongwoon. Eventually, we’re going to be okay. Just, it takes time of course. But, we’ll get better. And you’ll be, too.”

       “Still, I’m terribly sorry.” Jongwoon whispers.

       “I know. We’re terribly sorry, too on Ryeowook’s behalf,” says Mrs. Kim.

       “No, don’t do that. He’s got nothing to seek apology from me. Even if he is, you shouldn’t take on his side even though he’s your only biological child. It’s not fair. I’m your other child, too.”

       Mrs. Kim laughs. “Right, of course, you’re my other child. Come on, let’s start having dinner.” She pulls away from Jongwoon, turning herself around and wiping her tear-stricken face clean. “All this dramas starve me to death.”

 

       Since that encounter, Jongwoon always finds himself traveling to Incheon, sometimes he stops for hours at the same hotel building Ryeowook and he have been spending their last time together, before he drives to Ryeowook’s parents’ home. Occasionally, when he’s a bit free from his schedule, he will stay the night in Ryeowook’s room.

       Jongwoon dares to show the tape where he keeps the various Ryeowook-message, which he obtains from other artists that he knows of Ryeowook sending them one and gets both elderly couple to listen to them. Surprisingly, Mr. and Mrs. Kim only giggle softly and whisper to each other, every single word seems to be funny to them.

       “Do you remember when Ryeowook tells you about that wide-eyed boy? He’s so excited. I can’t believe he keeps you up all night just for that.” Mr. Kim shakes his head; already feeling like it’s just yesterday Ryeowook comes home and talks to them about the newbie trainee.

       “He actually complains when Sungmin gets to marry first instead of the other older members,” Mrs. Kim supplies. “I wish I could tell him to just marry someone already, so to stop his ranting.”

       “You should start planning on your proposal, son.” Mr. Kim adds, nudging Jongwoon out from his reverie, when the old man pats him on the shoulder.

       “Huh?” is all Jongwoon manages to reply, unintelligently.

       Mrs. Kim advertently agrees with her husband. “Don’t waste any more years.” She then pulls at her husband’s hand, “The day when Hangeng makes decision to leave them, do you remember he didn’t come down for food for three days straight. That brat is super stubborn like a bull.”

       As Mr. Kim and his wife keep on talking to no end, Jongwoon is left in confusion. He can merely watch the elderly couple across from him, all calm and sweet and romantic.

 / / / / / /


       Another year has passes, Jongwoon and his family members celebrate Lunar New Year together with Ryeowook’s parents in Incheon. Then, they go for vacation in Jeju Island, almost extending the stay for three days. It’s Yongsun, who reminds Jongwoon that he should come back to Seoul to record a soundtrack for drama series, which luckily stops them from spoiling their fortune on their vacation too much.

       Jongwoon realizes then, nothing gets easier the first time you’re experiencing with something unfamiliar to you, but it is sure bounds to be less tough the more you get accustomed to it. Therefore, when finally Ryeowook is due to return home, Jongwoon is undeniably happy but that’s it.

       He can’t get himself excited like the kid who gets free candy in a store, nor he is overjoyed like he could have shed tears like when his second mini album rewards him triple crown in M!Countdown music show. He’s everything but freaking giddy. Instead, he’s nervous, and anxious, and scared.

       One minute he’s lying on the bed, then the next he sits behind the desk near the window. Now, he’s pacing on the hallway outside of the room. His heart might jump out of his chest any minute. Thunderous heartbeats deafen his ear and he can’t pump his oxygen properly to his brain.

       Just when the door downstairs squeaks open in soft faint, Jongwoon scurries back to the room. His heart rhythm picks up speed, thudding so loud against his ribcage. Jongwoon hopes it isn’t enough to cause him any cardiac arrest.

       “Mom, I’ll be in my room for a moment. I’ll come down after I change myself,” says a delicate-tone boy.

       “Take all the time you need, sweetheart,” a woman says.

       “Hmmm,” is all the boy from before replies. His light steps are booming all over Jongwoon’s and upsetting his stomach.

       Jongwoon momentarily tries to remember to inhale oxygen so to not suffocate himself or worse be sent to the hospital for mild panic attack. He can’t fill his lungs properly anyway when the door to the room is open wide. He stays frozen beside the bedstead, his breath caught as his eyes rake everywhere on the figure in front of him. Finally when Jongwoon’s eyes stop at the latter face, he feels his chest tightens painfully, like there is balloon inside his chest and it threatens to burst.

       Self-conscious starts to engulf Jongwoon when the man at the door just stares back at him. Should Jongwoon be the one to say or greet the other, he doesn’t think he will be able to. His memorized words are all out of the window, nowhere to be found. He doesn’t think he wants to find them, if it means he will be leaving this beautiful human in front of him out of his sight.

       Jongwoon can’t afford that, not after the torturous two years and all the trouble that has comes along with it.

       “Hi,” says the trimly-haired man.

       “H-hi,” stammers Jongwoon. “You look good.”

       “In this soldier uniform?”

       “Ah, I-I mean, you’d look good despite the uniform.” Jongwoon raises his shoulder in a shrug. “You’d always look good no matter what though.”

       “Right,” the man walks to the wardrobe and paces for the bathroom outside.

       When the same man in soldier outfit comes back to the room in grey t-shirt, and the door is close behind him, Jongwoon shortens the distance between them in just three long strides. Jongwoon traps the man in between him and the door.

       “Ryeowook,” he whispers, “please let me do this just once.” Jongwoon is a man with no patience after all, when he wraps his hands around Ryeowook’s waist, sniffing the lemon shampoo on the younger man’s hair. “God, I miss this. I miss everything that reminds me of you.”

       “Do you ever feel relief when you’d realize I’m not out there with you guys?”

       “Nonsense.” Jongwoon fastens his hold against the petite man.

       “I did for couple of months. Though the moment when I need to overtake your parts during concert, I wish you would return already.”

       “I admit that I’m surprised you ever felt that way back then. But, no, I don’t feel relief at all. Every single day is like a battlefield for me. I wish I could have fought the demon inside of me, but each time I lost. Anyways, welcome home.”

       “Thanks,” Jongwoon rather feels Ryeowook than hears as the younger man buries his face further on Jongwoon’s chest. “You’d still wear that same expensive perfume from Japan, don’t you?”

       “How’d you know? I’m just starting to use it two years ago.”

       “And has been using it since we’d come back from the Japan tour. It’s uniquely you and it’s too spicy and strong for my personal preference.”

       Jongwoon pulls back slightly, holding Ryeowook at arm’s length, “You don’t like it?”

       “Don’t be such an idiot.” Ryeowook tugs Jongwoon close, forcing the other to wind his hands back against Ryeowook’s back.

       “That doesn’t seem to indicate you like it either.”

       “Jongwoon, really. I wouldn’t have put up with that insanely powerful perfume if I’m not willingly hugging you right now.”

       “Oh, it’s good then. Can I kiss you now?”

       “You need to stop hogging over me first.”

       Jongwoon sets his mouth in a big grin. “Of course, sir,” he says, releasing Ryeowook slowly. He stares down at Ryeowook, just really looking and as Ryeowook grows confused with Jongwoon’s weird look, the younger focuses his sight on Jongwoon’s forehead and his light dyed blonde hair.

       Jongwoon grins appreciatively, amused as he watches Ryeowook getting quite uncomfortable, as he continue locking his gaze lovingly on Ryeowook’s features. Dipping his head, he simply rests his mouth against Ryeowook’s soft one. “You’d taste the same still,” he breathes out.

       While Jongwoon kisses the younger languidly and lazy, he moves his mouth ever slowly, gently running his tongue over Ryeowook’s delicious lips. Trailing kisses along the sharp jaw, Jongwoon moves down to Ryeowook’s neck, and then up again. He stays in that pattern for quite sometimes.

       When Jongwoon’s lips eventually seek Ryeowook’s, he sighs softly into Ryeowook’s mouth, humming at the back of his throat at the pleasantly pleasure courses throughout his body. He acutely aware of Ryeowook’s hand tangle up messily on his hair, tugging at the root every now and then.

       “Are you that hungry?” Jongwoon begins, his mouth now nibbling lightly at Ryeowook’s ear.

       “Not really,” replies Ryeowook.

       “Good. I shall not wait any longer-“

       “My parents are expecting me downstairs.”

       “No,” Jongwoon counters, “she said you could take all the time you need.”

       “That she did,” Ryeowook sighs softly, his hand runs down to Jongwoon’s nape. “We shall not be doing this knowing she should gush at me first before you can.”

       Jongwoon pulls away, his eyes glistening with unspoken resignation. “Let’s head down then.” He steps aside, bringing his hand towards the door knob, just in time when Ryeowook places his hand over his, gently.

       Ryeowook looks up, tugging at Jongwoon’s sleeve using his other hand. Instinctively, Jongwoon bends his body down slightly and that’s all Ryeowook needs as he plants kisses over Jongwoon’s forehead, his two eyes and his nose.

       “I’m not running anymore,” Ryeowook says, gazing up at Jongwoon. “Well, I’m sure you won’t let or want me to. I’m here with you, bound to you. So, stop frowning, dear. I miss my parents as much as I miss you.”

       Jongwoon intertwines his hand with Ryeowook’s while his free one opens the door open. As they climb down the stairs, Jongwoon retorts. “You’ve been seeing them on daily basis, though.”

       “I can totally get the hint that you are now sulking because of that rule I’ve established years ago. I can’t do anything about it. You didn’t have enough courage to actually come by and meet me face to face.”

       “Like I actually dare to risk myself. It’s upsetting you if I decided to pop up any minute. I hate seeing you upset. Your eyes get so sad, it upsets me, too.”

       Ryeowook opts saying nothing, momentarily lost for words. His eyes catch the sight of his father exiting from his room. “Father, do you feel a bit better now?”

       Pacing quickly towards his father, Ryeowook unceremoniously drags Jongwoon along. He’s about to run his hand and check upon his father’s temperature by the forehead and neck, then realizing Jongwoon’s hand in his. Instead, Ryeowook brings his other hand and flips the back of his hand over his father’s forehead.

       “A bit feverish,” Ryeowook mutters to himself. He turns to Jongwoon. “Would you mind getting the medicine- Never mind. Father, please take a seat. I’ll come back with a glass of water and the medicines.”

       Once again, Ryeowook tugs Jongwoon along with him, fetching the medicine inside the medicine cabinet and pouring a glass of water before proceeding back to the living room. After making sure his father is all right, Ryeowook releases Jongwoon’s hand and stands up to his feet.

       “I’ll be in the kitchen,” says Ryeowook.

       Jongwoon sets his lip in a small soft smile when Ryeowook looks at him with his little adorable eyes. “I’ll be right here.”

       Instantly, right at that exact moment, thinks Jongwoon, things couldn’t get any better than it already is. Things will continue to move forward and keeps on moving, and surely he and Ryeowook will make it through, too.

       Ryeowook and he will be all fine, he makes sure of that.


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August 2016

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