NOTE: I will not be updating on Thursday. I am in charge of cooking for Thanksgiving. Please plan accordingly. :::grins:::
Rating: Overall NC-17. This section has a few naughty words. No lemons.
Cotton candy and lavender bunnies provided by: ranalore
Summary: The beginning of a shifting relationship. Hot Korean boys. Sex. Dancing and some angry words. Not necessarily in that order. Not necessarily in each section.
Section One; Section Two; Section Three; Section Four; Section Five; Section Six;
Section Seven; Section Eight; Section Nine; Section Ten; Section Eleven; Section Twelve;
Section Thirteen; Section Fourteen; Section Fifteen; Section Sixteen
“Why is it when we’re fighting, there’s no one around...” Yunho stared at Changmin’s back, the young man standing in line to buy a skein of spun sugar. “But when we want to be alone, suddenly the three of them can’t live without us?”
A break in the heavy snow provided a welcome relief from the wintry deluge, the air a crisp chill, easily thwarted by a thick layer of clothes. Jaejoong tugged at the lapels of his purloined down jacket, debating if he should pull up the furred hood to cut out the wind sweeping down into the Jangchoong district of Namsan park. The press of a hand on the small of his back made the singer glance back, Yunho’s upswept eyes twinkling back at him.
When the leader suggested going to the Snow Flower Festival in the park, Jaejoong wondered if he would be able to survive the biting cold, the city frozen nearly to its root with ice. Morning broke through with a stunning warmth, cutting back the chill in the wind, trees bowed beneath the tremendous weight of icicles dragging down at their limbs. The promise of a carnival appealed to Jae, the ringing voices of hawkers calling out to a passerby to play games of chance or a mysterious fortune teller throwing stick rune forecasts on a bed of silks. They’d dressed warmly, bundling up to not only ward off the cold but to obscure their identities to any fans, hoping for just the day to pass without notice, lost in the illusion of privacy as they began their clandestine courtship.
Yunho had just sat down in the living room, trying to get his boots laced when Junsu popped his head in, peering out from around the hallway opening. The leader was caught unawares when the young man asked where he was going, Yunho working out a knot in his ties. A chance remark of the carnival made Junsu shout to the other three, yelling down the hall that they were all going out into the warming afternoon.
Jaejoong stood in the door of his bedroom, working the white-furred jacket over his shoulders as Changmin rushed in, sliding past the lithe singer to get ready to leave. From his vantage point from across the hall, a quirk of a smile hung on Yoochun’s mouth, wreathed in a knowing that they were going to intrude on the date set up between whispers at breakfast. Reluctant to shut the others out, Jaejoong sighed heavily, shrugging at his friend standing across the hall. Resigned, Jae plodded into the living room, throwing himself down on the chair near Yunho, shooting him hot glances beneath his drawn hood, the fluffy ice-white fur stark on the ink of his hair.
“What could I say?” Yunho asked, sighing heavily. The others were scrambling, hurriedly getting dressed, seemingly oblivious to the pair sitting on the couch, partially disgusted by the additional company. “Should I tell them they can’t come?”
“No. I couldn’t say that either.” Jaejoong muttered with dark intent, disgruntled and sulky. “Maybe they’ll fall into the river and we’ll have to share a cup of hot tea while the firemen rescue them.”
“One can only hope, Joongie-ah.” Yunho breathed a sigh of relief when Jaejoong rested against his arm, both of them resigned to the others joining them.
Yunho waited impatiently, calling a driver to take the five of them down to Namsan, wondering if he could somehow lose the other three in the crowd. While he enjoyed the camaraderie returning to the group, Yunho’s insidious mind begged to find a quiet, dark spot alone with the lead singer, perhaps even coaxing a butterfly kiss from Jae’s sensuous mouth. Instead, they stood near the food kiosks, Changmin hopping up and down from foot to foot, trying to keep the warmth in his long, slender legs as the other two pondered what to snack on during their stroll through the canopied attractions.
“Do you want some cotton candy?” Yunho whispered into the cup of Jaejoong’s ear, grinning when the young man’s ear lobe turned pink. The crowd around them was thick...too thick for Yunho to dab his tongue along the rosy bulb, biting it redder and leaving a mark. Clearing his throat, the group’s leader forced himself away from his thoughts. “Or do you want something else?”
“Cotton candy is too sweet.” Jae wrinkled his nose, his full mouth twisting playfully. “Do they have something else?”
“That one over there has hot chestnuts. You like those.” Yoochun pointed at a steaming cart, the vendor scooping a flow of the brown treats into a paper bag, adding closed packets of salt and chili sauce to the top.
A small line formed around the steamer, the rotund man’s beet red face sweating from the hot mists rising from the cart. At the next kiosk, Junsu called back to Yoochun after catching up with the youngest member standing in the long cotton candy queue, bumped into him with a rough shoulder. Micky waved back, waggling two fingers in the air, asking Junsu to grab him a treat as well.
“I like chestnuts better than anything sweet.” Jaejoong agreed. “They squeak when you eat them. You can hear them scream when you bite.”
“You are strange, Joongie-ah. Stay here. I’ll get some for you.” Yunho was off before Jaejoong could reply, the singer huddled inside the folds of his hood. His expressive eyes wide, he followed the leader’s progress down the small hill as Yunho dutifully trotted off through the snow, his hands dug down deep into the pockets of his fleece jacket.
Turning to Micky, Jaejoong ducked down further, a bit nonplussed at Yunho’s willingness to fetch him something to eat. Abashed, he said softly, “I could have gone myself.”
“It’s something small someone does that shows you that they care. Yunho wants to show you that he cares.” Micky said, wise to the leader’s eagerness to please their beautiful singer. “You look cold, Joongie-ah. Maybe we should get you out of the wind.”
Micky cast about, looking for someplace warmer to sit and discovered an empty wooden bench, its long wide planks partially covered by a open-walled tent displaying good luck charms. Pulling Jaejoong over the short distance, Yoochun sat down, patting the space next to him. Shivering from the brisk wind curving up from the river, Jaejoong gratefully sank down onto the bench, the wood warmed by the strong lights strung up to illuminate the canopy’s interior.
“I would like to say that I’m sorry for coming along with you but I’m not.” Micky huffed out his breath, watching a misty phoenix curve up from his throat. “We need to chaperone you two. He might have nefarious plans in store.”
Jaejoong couldn’t stop the flood of red across his cheeks, a fire that doused any chill in his bones. Covering his face with his bare hands, he hoped for the icy press of his fingers to chase away some of the blush before Yunho spotted it. Seeing the leader’s head turn towards him, Jaejoong’s mouth ran dry, his hand lifted up from his face when Yunho waved first, the cart still five people deep before he reached the chestnut seller. Balling his fist, Jaejoong struck at Micky’s hard shoulder, smacking the other singer with a resounding hit.
“What?” Yoochun’s innocent face mocked Jaejoong, a monkey expression flattening his nose. The smirk returned, curving Yoochun’s wide mouth. “You deny that you two were planning on sneaking out to the carnival without us?”
“Yes.” Jaejoong whispered, then decided to tell the truth when his friend slanted him a telling look. “No, I won’t deny it. Not now. But it doesn’t matter. You three are here and he’s down there, getting me chestnuts.”
“Like a good lover.” Micky said smugly, leaning back on his hands. Another fist glanced off Yoochun’s arm, a rejoinder to Micky’s boldness. “What? He’s certainly wanting to be more than a friend. I would have to be blind not to see that.”
“Do you think the others notice?” The singer wondered aloud, watching Yunho move along the line, his face hidden by the upturned collar of his jacket. “Changmin is… too young. Junsu would just tease.”
“I think Changmin notices more than you give him credit for.” Yoochun felt his own neck flush. “Probably way too much than he should notice. Junsu better not tease. I have a record of the shameful things that he’s done. We have blackmail material.”
A pair of young men glanced up towards where Jaejoong sat, his head resting now on Micky’s shoulder, the fraught of his emotions ebbed low from the week’s events. Yunho spoke quickly to the men, his head cocked in a slight challenge. Their heads bobbed, a meek apology then moved along, hurriedly losing themselves in the crowd. Yunho raised his head, his handsome face full to the sun and beamed up at Jaejoong, winking one eye at the singer before turning back to wait his turn.
“So you decided that he was worth the chance? And so soon.” Micky asked, casually watching people walk by. Entire families were out, taking advantage of the warmer weather, parents leading round balls of coated toddlers down the gravel path. Balloons bobbed through the crowd, brightly hued dollops of rainbow drops against the trees and pale steel sky. The mingled Korean dialects sang as everyone passed, cheery notes of conversation dropping small hints of a life outside of the tedium of the week.
“I woke up to flower petals in my bed yesterday.” Jaejoong pressed his palm together, his pocket filled with a cheesecloth bag of Yunho’s rose offerings. The scent clung to his hand when he removed it from the slitted downy jacket, a perfume of the night before caught in the kiss of its scent. “And food. Because I hadn’t eaten.”
“Very romantic.” Yoochun commented sagely, his mahogany tinted hair caught in the light breeze, ruffling a wave of curls over his forehead. “It sounds nice…if you like that thing.”
“I think I might. Maybe a little.” The singer toed at the ground with his sneaker, his innate shyness creeping out of the bravado he wore around him like a shield. “It made me feel…special…wanted. No one has ever made me feel like that before. I didn’t know what to do. Neither did he. We both agreed that it was nice and that he should spend the night on the couch. It would be better for blood pressures.”
“And if he hurts you? Did you talk about that?” The other man’s forehead furrowed, worry for his friend plain on his face. “I like Yunho but I would have to find someplace to hide his body. And I would have to ask Junsu to help me carry it down the stairs. Maybe Changmin…Junsu would be lazy and say to just dump him over the balcony and hope someone picks him up with the trash.”
“No! No talking like that.” Jae’s eyes burned, bright with censure. “If… if we can’t make this work and I can’t live with it, I’ll leave the group. I don’t want any of you to suffer because of a selfish decision I made.”
“Love isn’t selfish, Joongie-ah. And you are not leaving us. I won’t let you. Neither would Yunho.” Micky curved his arm around his friend’s waist, drawing the young man into his warmth. His mouth brushed a soft affection on Jae’s temple, leaving a small kiss. “If any of us deserve that love, it’s you, Jaejoong. I know that.”
Yunho stepped in behind two college students, their heavy sweatshirts boldly greened with their logo university. He paid them no attention, not much, his attention more on the coy, shy young man standing on the hill. Jaejoong’s slender body was nearly swallowed by the big white jacket he’d found, a cast off of Yoochun’s closet when Micky’s shoulders grew too broad for the jacket to fit comfortably. Jae gleefully claimed it as his own, walking around with the furred hood over his face, peering out of the quilted down like a little child playing peek-a-boo.
“How much do you think it costs to rent a pretty ci-pal like that?” Yunho looked up, hearing one of the young men snort through his nose. “Maybe it’s cheaper during the day time. He probably gets more business at night.”
“Wonder if he calls he calls the other one oppa? If you put a dress on him, I don’t think you’d know he was a boy except for…” The taller of the two chuckled, rubbing at his chest with cupped hands, a coarse laugh shared between them. Curious, Yunho followed the direction of their gaze, finding a sleepy Jaejoong at the end of their attention.
I’ll have to listen to this the rest of my life. Yunho thought, the realization of being with Jaejoong suddenly piercing the bubble of his afternoon. Being around the others… knowing that they were aware in some way of his attraction to the singer… made Yunho oblivious of the reality of loving Jae. He didn’t know if he was ready for the ostracization once he declared his love for the singer. My parents…my father won’t understand. He’ll say that Jae is just something to be ashamed of. I don’t want to hear my father say to me what his father said to him. I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t bear that disappointment.
My mother… she might… understand how I feel. Yunho’s heart touched briefly on the sweet, gentle face of the woman who guided him through his childhood, a benevolent maternal touchstone he never doubted. But the rest of the world… can I face that? Can he?
Another glance, under the cover of his bangs gave Yunho a clear view of the singer and his friend now sitting on a bench, warmed by the heat of a sales tent. Yoochun’s wide, open face braced for the cut of the wind, his hands moving as he spoke, gesturing widely to make a point. Jaejoong slid back into the mask of his persona, wearing the delicate visage of coldness he cultivated. The passion hidden behind that thin pale face, a concubine to others’ desires, his emotions culled from his mannerisms to present only what other people wanted to see, a puppet-like beauty easily manipulated into appealing poses and sweet-voiced phrases.
No one saw the delight in Jae’s face when Yunho’s chopsticks held up a bit of shrimp for him to eat, the simple joy of life filling the young singer’s features. The frustration and ambition of Jaejoong’s pounding fists on the floor when he faltered in his dance steps, resolute in his determination that he would conquer the obstacles of his own body…sometimes trilling a descant of notes to ensure his voice remained strong and clear. Yunho’s heart wept at the thought that he wouldn’t be able to share a kitchen with the slender singer, sweats riding just above the jutting bones of his hips, the flash of a knife slicing through slightly frozen meat as they prepared dinner together.
Yunho remembered the stolen kisses they shared, clandestine truffles of erotic sweetness and the heady promise of Jaejoong’s moist body wrapped around his own hardened shaft…those things didn’t just enter into his mind…they defined Yunho’s world. Just the sheer glut of Jae’s passionate embrace of life to fill his soul was enough for Yunho’s heart to overflow…anything else he could share was an unexpected sweetness. That was the gift that Jaejoong offered to him…that window into his heart, the brilliant chaotic sun of his laughter in the cold darkness of their troubles.
“Look at his mouth.” The smaller man, sharp faced and young, jerked his chin towards in Jaejoong’s direction. “With your eyes closed, you could imagine …”
“That is my boyfriend.” Yunho spoke suddenly, a dangerously low growl in his throat.
The declaration stilled any other thoughts he might have nursed in the doubts of his heart. Hearing the university students talk about Jaejoong as if he were nothing more than a piece of meat to be handled…to be maneuvered around until his body gave them pleasure sent a rage into Yunho’s bones.
Taller than either of them, Yunho lifted his chin, daring the other men to challenge him. His fists begged for an argument, a fury hardening them to an unyielding granite. He wasn’t sure where the words came from or if Jaejoong would even appreciate being claimed, but Yunho didn’t care. All he wanted to do was wipe the coarse taunting jibes from their mouths, smearing the vilifying slurs over their faces with one hard jab.
It ended too easily, a mumbled apology followed by another, the shove of Yunho’s shoulder against one of the young man’s chest. The anger remained, a fierceness curling around the centre of his belly. He wondered if others had said such things before, hoping that the Jaejoong who scraped by on the streets had never heard the mocking tones of a sexual advance whispered in his ear. Some dark part of Yunho’s mind told him that he was living in a dream if he though that was the case. Others had said such things… done worse to the delicate featured fey creature he’d fallen in love with.
The chestnut vendor paid no attention to the intense young man gruffly asking for a full bag, the seller holding out his hand for money and shoving a hot steaming bag of treats at Yunho, before moving along to the young couple behind him. The hill seemed to last forever, the wet gravel slipping beneath Yunho’s feet. Yoochun greeted him first, Jaejoong’s hand brushing over his lips, slender fingers hiding the grace of his mouth. The gesture was endearing, the shyness normally hidden, bloomed in front of Yunho, an elegant unfurling of Jae’s personality held out as a gift.
“You should go find Junsu.” Yunho nudged at Yoochun’s shin with his foot, his tone brooking no argument. Mickey glanced once at Jaejoong who nodded once, his face then buried in the softness of white fur. Yoochun stood, brushing up against Yunho’s shoulder in a slight warning to take care with the tender hearted singer’s soul, a subtle but firm hint that Yunho would have to answer to him if Jae’s tears were shed in the icy afternoon.
“Thank you for getting the chestnuts.” The singer patted his flat stomach. “I was hungry.”
“I was glad to. I didn’t know you liked them so much or I would have offered first, without Yoochun telling me to.” Yunho sat down next to Jaejoong, their thighs tight against one another. Jae shivered, the cold of Yunho’s bare hand on his arm, his jacket sleeve pulled back up past his wrists. “He’s protective of you…Chunnie.”
“Yoochun is… he means well.” Jaejoong said with a nod, picking at a chestnut at the top of the bag. “He watches out for me sometimes. I watch out for him.”
“It’s good to have friends like that. You’re a good friend.” Yunho commented, watching Jaejoong struggle to slide the chestnut free of its membrane. After a few aborted tries and a lost chestnut popping from the singer’s fingers, bouncing down the arc of the matted winter grassed knoll, Yunho took matters into his own hands, pushing Jaejoong’s hands away from the bag. “Let me. No wonder you’re so skinny. You can’t feed yourself.”
Yunho pushed at the star crosscut in the tip of the chestnut, working the thin brown membrane loose. A few rubs of his thumb lifted the dry, flaky pellicle free from the meat, a golden morsel roasted to a moist perfection. Cleaning the last remaining bits of skin from the nut’s folds, Yunho pinched a bit of salt on the treat, holding it up between his index finger and thumb, its tantalizing smell pulling at Jaejoong’s appetite.
The lead singer was about to take it from Yunho’s hand with his own but the leader grunted a no at him, gaping open his mouth in mimicry. Jae blushed, parting his lips slightly, letting the other slide the nut meat onto his tongue. A warm burn spread into Jaejoong’s mouth, his tongue lightly brushing on Yunho’s salt-sprinkled fingertips, the chestnut meat holding a small crunch when his teeth bit down.
Yunho dipped his head down, intent on following the morsel with his own tongue, needing to taste the salty-sweetness of Jaejoong’s mouth. The lead singer’s fingers pressed on the bow of Yunho’s lips, stopping the kiss from fulfillment. A spread of dew lifted on Jae’s lashes, a flicker of pain in the young singer’s soulful eyes. Regret sat heavy in his heart, the need for Yunho on him…in him… a terrible anguish churning in his belly.
“We can’t.” Jae whispered, his breath hot on Yunho’s face. “I want to but…”
“We can’t.” Yunho agreed softly, his forehead resting against Jaejoong’s temple, their sighs intermingled. “I just want to go home and… explore you. I want to hear you make that sound in your throat…the one you just made for that chestnut. I never thought I would be so jealous of a sweet nut before.”
“Open your mouth.” Jaejoong’s hushed low voice and wrapped fingers in Yunho’s shirt drew the other to the singer.
Parting his teeth, Yunho made an O with his lips, curious as to what the other intended. The cold in the air bite at the roof of his mouth, the sun slowly retreating beyond the far horizon, Seoul’s night flirting with a winter evening. Leaning closer, the softness of Jae’s lips scarcely bruised the lines of Yunho’s part, his eyes closed tight.
A huff of his breath spilled into Yunho’s open mouth, the affectionate heat hitting the back of the leader’s throat… an invisible kiss carried through the chill to warm at the root of Yunho’s tongue. The young man gulped, swallowing at the nothingness that carried everything of the singer leaning against him, the cup of his hood hiding inquisitive eyes from prying into their intimacy.
Sitting back, the young man dug out another chestnut, expertly peeling the membrane with a twist of his palm before dousing it with a dab of salt and chili sauce. Wickedly seductive, Jae popped the meat into his mouth, chewing around his words, the tilt of his tongue dabbing at a grain hovering in suspense on his lower lip.
“Hold that for me, please.” Jaejoong’s husky contralto purred, tightening a verbal noose around Yunho’s tortured, weeping sex. “I’ll want it back later.”