No matter how others perceived him, Jaejoong knew what he was – a coward. He’d allowed himself to be bound by the shackles of imposed ‘duty’ and he’d surrendered himself to a fate he’d never wanted.o-o-o
Once again, he was in a party he didn’t want to be at, in a place he didn’t want to be in, surrounded by people he didn’t want to be with.
He’d never felt so suffocated before, and it was unbearable.
Jaejoong took a glass of wine from a waiter and downed half of it as he tried to escape the lavish ballroom so that he could take refuge in the hotel room he’d paid for without his fiancée’s knowledge or consent.
He turned around and didn’t even bother hiding the irritation on his face as he approached his fiancée. She smiled and leaned against him like nothing was wrong and even placed a kiss on his cheek.
“Honey, this is art dealer I was talking to you about.” Seol said as she turned and gestured toward the much older man, “He has a few things that you might want to see tomorrow. I’d love to have some of his art displayed in our home.”
Jaejoong held a hand out, “I’ll take your business card then, seeing as I probably have the time to fit you into my schedule tomorrow.”
“I’ll make sure everything’s ready then.” The man replied, and as soon as there was a brief lull in conversation, Jaejoong made his escape.
He slipped past the men in equally expensive suits, the women in lavish dresses, and the overwhelming aura of snobbery in the room. As soon as he was in the lobby, Jaejoong quickened his steps and hurried to the closest elevator.
The trip to his room was short and solitary, and it was the first thing he actually approved of in the entire evening. He let out a small sigh of relief as he loosened his tie in the corridor as he made his way to his suit.
After a quick slide of his door key, he was finally inside his temporary five star refuge.
He deposited his coat and tie onto the floor as he made his way to the bed and lied down. Once again, silence fell upon the room and he was forced to rethink, recall, remember and agonize over a decision made months ago.
It wasn’t like it’d been easy to hold back everything – to restrain, to suppress his feelings until he was left bitter, hollow and even more disillusioned with the snow globe life he’d been trapped in since birth.
Jaejoong shifted, his mind drifting between bitter consciousness and the brief reprieve of dreamless sleep. He pulled a pillow out from the neatly stacked pile, but just as he was about to place it underneath his head, there was a knock at the door.
For a second, he briefly considered ignoring it, yet as soon as the second was over, he left the bed and walked to the door. Without bothering to see who the guest was, he swung the door open.
Seol. “You left.” She said dully before she slipped past him and entered the room. She looked around and turned around after Jaejoong had shut the door. “I was wondering if you’d snuck out with some girl.”
“I wouldn’t do that to you.” Jaejoong replied as he walked by her and sat down on the lone bed in the room. He looked at her coolly, “So, what do you want?”
Seol tucked back her hair and sighed, “You and I are meeting for lunch tomorrow, and then you’ll come with me to the atelier in order to look at my wedding dress.”
“If you want, go to the art gallery first. I want a few pieces for the home we’re going to be moving into after we’re married. Jinyoung is known to have a good collection, and I trust your taste. Pick out some pieces.”
Jaejoong stood up, “I’ll do that then.” He stuck his hands into his pockets and glanced at the door, “You don’t plan on staying here tonight, do you?”
His pretty fiancée shook her head, “I wouldn’t dare.” She began to walk to the door, and as soon as her hand was around the doorknob, she turned her head and looked back at him.
“Whenever you look at me, I feel like your gaze is miles away.” Seol said softly as she watched him carefully for a reaction. “I don’t expect you to love me, and I know you don’t expect that from me either – but, I need you to respect me.”
“I do, and you know that.” Jaejoong answered, “I’ve never once –“
“I know.” She interrupted, “I just wanted to remind you.” Seol sighed and forced a smile at him, “Jaejoong...you can’t look beyond this. This is what we have both have in store for ourselves – and we can’t fight it. You’ll just have to settle. This is enough, don’t ask for anything more.”
Before Jaejoong could reply, she had already opened the door and walked out. The door shut with a sense of finality, and once again, he was lonely and the overwhelming taste of bitterness flooded him.
Was it selfish for him to long for love?
Jaejoong parked his car in front of the art gallery and stared at it from within the confines of his car. It was clearly one of the more pricey galleries due to its sparkling display and aura of respectability – in fact, he was unsure as to why he’d never heard of it before.o-o-o
He left his car, locked it, and pushed the door to the gallery open.
There wasn’t anyone in the gallery – and he attributed that to the fact that it was eight in the morning. The only reason he was present so early was because he’d called Jinyoung the night before to open the gallery earlier than its usual hours.
It was a two storey building, so Jaejoong walked up the stairs in search for Jinyoung. As he walked up, he passed by paintings and photographs – some to his taste, some lacking in quality, and some just plain boring.
Yet as he neared Jinyoung’s office, he froze in his tracks and diverged from the way to the office. As if possessed, Jaejoong crossed the room in a daze and didn’t realize where his feet had led him until he was in front of the photograph that had caught his attention from the other end of the room.
The text underneath the framed photograph was enough of an answer to the question of why he’d acted in such a way.
Jung Yunho – Understanding It was a black and white photograph of a two people standing in front of each other, their hands clasped together and their foreheads pressed against the other’s, their stillness a contrast to the busy crowd behind them.
Jaejoong’s breath was caught in his throat, and his heart clenched in his chest. It was the same photograph, the same one that had led him to Yunho and a chance to change his life forever.
He didn’t have a clue as to why the photograph had such a profound effect on him, how it had set him on the path to Yunho months ago, and now once again; it was affecting him more than any other art he’d seen before.
More than any painting in the Louvre or photograph in New York galleries, it moved something within him and brought back the emotions he’d tried so hard to suppress in the days since their separation.
“Jaejoong! You’re here.”
Jaejoong tore his eyes away from the photograph, and from the way Jinyoung’s expression changed, he was fairly sure that he had the look of a man who’d realized how ruined he’d allowed his life to become.
His throat was dry, but Jaejoong forced the words out anyway. “This photograph, how much is it?” he asked as he tried to rein in his feelings and place them back within his containment of normality and suppression.
Jinyoung glanced at it and back at Jaejoong. “Well, I’ve guaranteed it to a client of mine, I don’t know if –“
“Whatever he or she has offered for it, I’ll double it – no, triple it.” Jaejoong interrupted as he glanced back at the photograph, then the caption underneath it. “I want it.”
The man was visibly startled by Jaejoong’s behaviour. He blinked twice before he reacted. “Oh, well...I’ll just make a call now. Please do excuse me.” He stuttered before he walked off.
Jaejoong turned back to the photograph, but just as he was about to touch it, his phone began to buzz in his pocket. He answered it and didn’t bother to check the caller, his eyes still fixated on the black and white picture.
“Jaejoong, you’re late.” Seol scolded on the other end of the line, “I’ve been here for five minutes now. I told you last night that I moved our appointment to breakfast. Why aren’t you here yet?”
The sound of his fiancée’s voice immediately doused the spark of passion that had been ignited moments earlier. Jaejoong clutched his phone even tighter as he tried to understand his spontaneous desire to buy the photograph.
He was snapped out of his thoughts by Seol, who repeated her question again – this time more irritably.
“I’m sorry. I’m leaving the gallery now.” Jaejoong replied before he hung up without any hesitation. He glanced in the direction of the art dealer’s office before he walked away and began to make his way out.
Just as he reached the door, he heard Jinyoung shout out his name. Jaejoong whirled around and looked up – the older man looking down at him, breathless and slightly stressed.
“Are you still interested in the photograph?” Jinyoung asked, “If you –“
“I want it.” Jaejoong replied before he turned away again and walked out of the gallery.
He showed up to the restaurant and was immediately ushered to where his irritated fiancée was seated. She glanced at him and her red lips formed a tense smile as she gestured to the food she’d ordered for him.o-o-o
“I’m happy you finally showed up.” Seol said crossly as she folded her napkin repeatedly, “I was starting to think that you were boarding a plane and heading off somewhere.”
Jaejoong stared at her, fully taking in her features and seeing her as another person.
Ever since he’d found out he was to be married to her, he’d only considered her as a hindrance, a pretty thing to add to his facade of perfection, a burden, and a fellow victim in their society’s need to trap people into arranged marriages that broke hearts and spread bitterness.
Today, everything was different.
He finally realized, she wasn’ a victim – she couldn’t understand how he felt, she didn’t feel the pressure, she was willing to be a puppet in their parents’ games, and she saw life exactly how their rich, snobbish, elitist parents wanted them to see it.
“What do you want from me?” he asked as soon as she’d begun to eat.
She stared at him, her hazel eyes clouded with confusion. Her delicate brow furrowed, and her lipstick coated lips formed a frown. “I don’t understand.” Seol placed the utensils down and studied him. “I just thought it’d be better if we –“
“You don’t care?” Jaejoong asked, “You don’t care that we don’t love each other, that I will never love you? You don’t care if we end up growing old together, loveless and alone even though we reside in the same house?”
Seol looked around before she turned her attention to Jaejoong, “I don’t know what happened to you – what’s making you act this way, but you have to stop. This isn’t the place to –“
“And where is the place where I can speak the truth?” Jaejoong questioned as he pushed away his untouched place of food. He shook his head, “I can’t marry you. I don’t love you, and I don’t want to.”
“Why are you acting like this?” she questioned, her voice shaking as she tried to comprehend his actions. He’d never been so difficult before, and it was hard for her to understand.
“I can’t suppress myself any longer.” Jaejoong replied, his voice low but resilient as he stared at her with an expression that she couldn’t recognize. It was halfway between a look of victory and a look of defeat – the look of a winner who had only begun to realize the price of his triumph.
The price of his epiphany had been Yunho’s love, but she didn’t know that and he had only just realized it.
Jaejoong shook his head and threw his napkin onto the table, “I can’t do this anymore with you. I won’t allow myself to restrain myself any longer.” He stared at her, and tried to understand her confusion while at the same time wishing that she would see that there was more to life than parental restrictions.
“And what do you want?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper as she voiced out her last attempt to understand the man who was supposed to become her husband.
He looked at her, his handsome face unreadable as always – a talent he’d learned after years of practice.
“A life of my own.” Jaejoong replied before he turned away, and made his way out of the restaurant – he was once again turning away from someone – the second time in less than an hour, but he was finally facing a path he wanted to take.
Which he could only painfully hope, would lead to the person he wanted to be with.
Money was not something Jaejoong worried about at all as his plane touched down safely in Narita airport.o-o-o
He had money – more than he needed, and if his parents ever decided to cut him off the family money, he would have more than enough to live comfortably without their financial assistance. It was the benefit of prudent planning – of effort he’d put into building a future he’d once thought he’d never be able to achieve.
Yet here he was, in Tokyo, alone and completely lost – searching for a man who could’ve long moved on from a romance that had never really gotten past its infancy stages.
The idea of Yunho moving on, of leaving him and their ill-fated romance in the past, was more terrifying and chilling than anything his parents could ever do to him. To know that he’d lost possibly the most significant person he’d ever met, all because of cowardice would be something he would never stop regretting.
Jaejoong shook his head and got into a taxi. The expensive tutoring his parents had paid for had its benefits, and he was grateful for that. He rattled off a hotel name and pressed himself against the backseat as he looked out the window and watched the city pass by him.
To be honest, he knew where to start. Despite his reluctance, his complete withdrawal from Yunho’s life, it hadn’t meant things had ever truly ended on his part. It was to his shame and guilt in which he followed the path of Yunho’s career and knew where the other man was.
He knew Yunho was working for a different magazine, and that was it – that was all he’d allowed himself to learn. No matter what, Jaejoong had refused to probe any further into Yunho’s life – just reading every article and looking through every photograph had been shameful enough, to look any further would’ve be a complete invasion of privacy.
The taxi stopped at the hotel, and Jaejoong paid the fare before he exited. He didn’t have any baggage – the only clothes he had were the ones on his back. He hadn’t spared any time in leaving Seoul, and he hadn’t wanted to give his parents any chance to stop him from leaving.
It was a rash decision, and he had no idea if he would receive any reward, or if he would return to Seoul bitter and regretfully alone.
Yunho had left because of his inaction, his inability to let go and his lack of response. As Jaejoong stood alone in the hotel elevator, he felt a chill run up his spine.
Now he was in a different country, chasing after a lost love. He’d left behind and broken an engagement he didn’t want, he’d allowed his feelings to surface and he’d finally let himself act on his feelings rather than suppress them.
It was odd how much he’d changed in the span of a few hours – how just one person had allowed all that change to occur.
After he’d stumbled into his room, barely managing to close the door before he rushed to the bed and lied down on it. His eyes immediately drifted shut, and despite it being hardly late in the day, he was tired.
It was like the rush of emotions had finally worn off, and fear was beginning to gnaw at him in the corner of his mind, feeding a doubt that was starting to grow.
He was alone, and while he’d constantly felt alone throughout his life, there was a different sense to this feeling of solitude. He had the support of no one at this point, his parents had no clue where he was, and anyone who’d known him were in the dark as well.
For the first time, he was entirely alone.
Jaejoong sat up and stared out the large window in his hotel room, the view offering a majestic view of Tokyo’s skyline. His heart thudded in his chest as he stared out and wondered where Yunho was amongst the millions that resided in the city.
He was scared, that was for sure. It was an emotion he knew well, but it wasn’t the only thing he felt. Deep down, there was a persistent feeling of hope.
That hope had brought him on a plane to Tokyo, and he would not allow himself to abandon it just like he’d abandoned Yunho months ago.
When he woke up, it was night.o-o-o
Jaejoong checked his watch and shrugged off sleep as he stood up and made his way out of the hotel room. He needed to buy clothes.
He walked into the cold bathroom and stared at his reflection in the mirror. His dark hair was mussed and terrible looking and he smelled slightly. Jaejoong sighed and reached for the complimentary toothbrush on the bathroom counter.
After he’d brushed his teeth and fixed his hair, he left his room. He needed to buy clothes before he took a shower.
As soon as he exited his hotel, he felt slightly dazed and panicked. People pushed past him, and he had no idea where to go. He was lost, and in the confusion, he could feel his heart quicken in pace slightly.
He swallowed hard and decided to turn right. After minutes of wandering, he found himself inside a mall. It didn’t take much longer to find a store that sold clothes to his taste.
Money was of no object to him, so he bought as much as he wanted and even bought a bottle of cologne as well.
With his bags of newly purchased items, he returned to his hotel room and quickly stripped his clothes to take a shower.
The moment the warm drops of water hit his body, his eyes closed shut. He stood underneath the stream of water for a few minutes, simply allowing the beads of water to roll down his body.
It calmed his heart and his nerves, so he stood still for a bit longer. After awhile, he eventually began to wash himself slowly. Every movement was slow, and he showered much longer than he usually did – his mind was too busy, too focused on the task at hand which was to find Yunho.
Jaejoong changed into his new clothes, he was now clean, but he was still intolerably hungry. He glanced at his watch, and he knew why. It’d been more than twelve hours since he’d last eaten.
For the second time that night, he left his hotel room. He didn’t want to bother with room service. Being sheltered in the extravagant room would only give his mind the opportunity to wander and foster even more doubt, he needed to be distracted.
He was calmer as he wandered out of his hotel for the second time. As he passed by people and looked at stores, Jaejoong finally let go a bit. He wasn’t in Seoul, he wasn’t bound by any restrictions – he was free to do what he pleased.
His spirits lifted, and the entire event of wandering around the city became more enjoyable for him. He freely admired the bright lights, the people who walked past him, and the life that radiated from every corner.
It was like his feeling of hunger was forgotten as his steps brought him nowhere to particular. All he wanted was to keep going, to keep wandering until he’d explored every corner, every inch of Tokyo.
Jaejoong smiled happily to himself and let his wanderlust consume him. It took him across the city, and he felt no tiredness whatsoever as he walked to nowhere in particular and just took in everything.
He didn’t feel lost, even though nothing was familiar and everything was different from what he was used to. The joy of being free from his past restrictions was overwhelming, and it was like for awhile, everything was falling in place for him.
Jaejoong walked into the closest convenience store and bought a packet of cigarettes and a lighter. He walked out, found a park bench and sat down to take a break. He lit a cigarette and mused quietly as people walked past.
It was late, but his body was running off the thrill of finally being free.
Jaejoong closed his eyes and leaned back into the bench. He listened to the sounds of people’s footsteps and the blowing of the wind, all the while continuing to smoke his cigarette.
After a few minutes of continued meditation, he opened his eyes and chuckled quietly to himself. He was wasting time, and he didn’t care – not a single bit. He would indulge his slothful side for a bit longer as he evaded the real reason for choosing Tokyo as his refuge from his life in Seoul.
Jaejoong left the bench and resumed his search for something to eat. He looked down at the ground as he walked, and as soon as he lifted his eyes off the ground, he froze in his tracks.
Right there, less than two meters away from him, was Yunho.
They stared at each other, and Jaejoong’s heart pounded in his chest. All his previous confidence was lost as he felt Yunho’s judgmental gaze.
There was no time to explain himself, no time to think of a proper way to re-introduce himself back into Yunho’s life. Time was of the essence, and as he scrambled to think of some way to salvage whatever feelings Yunho had left for him, Jaejoong could also feel that time was slipping away.
He panicked, and as he approached Yunho warily, he prayed that the nervousness was not evident on his face. Along the way, he’d dropped his cigarette and he didn’t bother to pick it up – he had to hold Yunho’s gaze.
As soon as Jaejoong was in front of the taller man, he let out a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding.
Although it hadn’t been long, Yunho had changed somewhat in appearance. His hair was slightly longer, and the formal clothing had been ditched in favour of something more casual – and it suited him better. While Jaejoong had always admired the way Yunho had looked in formal clothes, there was always a particular stiffness in the way he carried it.
Yunho looked better now, relaxed and youthful – in short, he looked happy. And despite how much Jaejoong wanted to be happy for Yunho, he was scared as well, so scared that in four months, he’d been forgotten, or even worse, replaced.
It was a start, but Jaejoong knew it wasn’t enough. He shook his head, and when he looked back at Yunho, the other man’s gaze was cold and indifferent. Jaejoong took a step forward, but Yunho instantly took a step back.
“Why are you here?” Yunho asked as he watched Jaejoong carefully, “What are you doing here?” his gaze lowered down, and he stared long at something away from Jaejoong’s face.
Jaejoong looked at Yunho in confusion before he followed the latter’s gaze. He looked down and realized what Yunho was looking at.
His engagement ring.
Realizing how stupid he’d been not to have taken it off earlier, Jaejoong muttered a curse. He shook his head and sighed, “This is really, not how it looks.” He slid the ring off his finger, “Don’t –“
“I’m not a fucking toy Jaejoong.” Yunho snapped harshly as hurt made its way across his handsome face. “If you’re hiding a wedding ring somewhere too, I won’t hesitate in punching you in the face –“
“I’m not married to her.”
“And how am I supposed to believe you? Why should –“
“Because...because I made a mistake, and I want to make things right.” Jaejoong interrupted. “I don’t deserve a second chance, but please, Yunho – if there’s anything left of what...of what you feel, please take the time to listen to me.”
Jaejoong’s heart clenched in his chest as he felt the severity of Yunho’s gaze on his face searching for something unknown. It was like time had slowed down because each second felt like an eternity as he waited for Yunho’s decision.
He took a step closer, and his heart soared with hope when he noticed that Yunho hadn’t taken a step back.
“Please, listen to me, even if only for thirty minutes.” Jaejoong pleaded, the desperation in his voice more obvious the second time around. “It won’t fix everything – all the mistakes I’ve made and the hurt I’ve caused you. It’s a chance for us to start again Yunho.”
Yunho’s gaze was searching and unwavering, and Jaejoong did nothing but stare back at him, waiting for his response.
His response came in the form of Yunho stepping forward slowly, “Your fiancée?” he asked quietly as he held Jaejoong’s gaze.
“She’s not my fiancée anymore.” Jaejoong replied as he reached forward to hold Yunho’s hand.
Yunho pulled away his hand away, and although Jaejoong was hurt, he knew that he deserved it. The taller man turned, “And what are we going to do now?” he asked, as he glanced at Jaejoong.
“Could we eat?” Jaejoong asked. “I just got here.”
Jaejoong checked his watch, “A few hours ago.” He replied, and when he looked back up, Yunho was once again inspecting him closely. “It’s a long story, really.”
“And you want me to hear all of it?” Yunho asked.
“You’ll have to pay for my food.” Yunho replied before he walked off.
Jaejoong followed a few steps behind, deciding to place distance between him and Yunho. He didn’t dare to force closeness, to rush the fixing of their relationship. He was well aware it would have to be a gradual process.
And he would wait for as long as it took until Yunho loved him again.
They settled inside one of the many restaurants that lined Tokyo’s streets, and Yunho chose a table farthest away from the door. Jaejoong noticed a group of drunk businessman that were singing loudly off on the opposite end of the small room, an orange haired student and his girlfriend, and other faces that were foreign to him.o-o-o
He sat down across Yunho, and the latter ordered for the two of them. The waitress left quickly, and they were left to their awkward and tense reunion.
Jaejoong had no idea of where to start, and he didn’t even know if Yunho really wanted to listen. As he took in the sight of Yunho once more, his eyes raking appreciatively over the man’s body, he noticed the looseness of his shirt.
Perhaps it wasn’t his? Perhaps it belonged to his lover – the lover that was waiting for him back at their shared apartment.
“You had something to say.” Yunho spoke, his clear words tearing Jaejoong away from his thoughts.
Jaejoong nodded, “I know what I want now.” He began as he tried to connect the numerous thoughts that were floating in his mind. Unfortunately, he was never as articulate around Yunho as he wanted to be, so silence fell between them.
After a minute that felt like an eternity for both parties, Jaejoong voiced out the words that he’d left unspoken months ago.
“I want to be free of all my restrictions, of the responsibilities that I’d never wanted, and of the expectations that were never mine.” He let out a deep breath and met Yunho’s gaze, “And I want to be with you.”
It was out there – and although Jaejoong was proud of himself for finally saying the words he’d wanted to say long ago, there was still more work to be done. Things weren’t over yet.
He would have to wait for Yunho’s reply.
Their waitress came back and placed down two cans of beer in front of them before she wandered away again. Jaejoong nervously reached for his can and drew it closer, his hands grasping the aluminium tightly.
“I waited.” Yunho said quietly, “I hoped you would break up with her and leave with me.” He fell silent again, and Jaejoong waited for Yunho to continue.
“And you know what happened.” Yunho murmured. He reached out for his own can of beer and drew it close, “You didn’t break up with her, and now I see you again, months later, and you’re still wearing your engagement ring.”
Jaejoong knew not to argue and kept his silence. Every single fiber of his being wanted to reach out, to take Yunho’s hands in his and dispel every insecurity and misgiving the man had about their relationship.
But he didn’t – because Yunho had to be the one to reach out. Jaejoong had already made his move, and he’d finally initiated action. It was his turn to wait for Yunho to meet him halfway.
And he could only hope that Yunho would.
“I didn’t forget you.” Yunho said as he leaned back into his chair and lowered his gaze, focusing instead on his can of beer. “Then again, you’ve never been the forgettable type for anyone. I told you not to run away, yet here you are, and I’ve so easily accepted the fact that you ran away for me.”
Yunho shook his head and looked away, his face pained. Jaejoong’s hands instinctively reached forward, gradually moving across the table’s surface and crossing the short distance that was between his hands and Yunho’s.
“I can’t do this, not again.” Yunho said finally, although he sounded more like he was trying to convince himself rather than sounding that he was convinced of his decision.
Jaejoong was interrupted by the waitress placing their food down in front of them. Yunho thanked the girl before she left, and as soon as she was gone, their silence resumed.
“I’m not going back.” Jaejoong replied before he picked up his chopsticks and began to eat, “Or at least, I’m not going back without you.”
Yunho was quiet, and Jaejoong continued to eat, finally realizing that he was incredibly hungry. For a brief moment, he completely forgot about the issue he was trying to fix and focused on satisfying his basic need to eat.
After he’d finished eating, he noticed that Yunho had barely touched his food at all.
It didn’t seem like Yunho would continue eating, so he paid for the food and they left the restaurant together. Once again, Jaejoong fell behind Yunho and followed him a few steps from behind. He didn’t know where he was being led to, but he didn’t dare to ask any questions.
They reached an apartment building, and Yunho turned around.
“I live here.” he said in explanation.
Jaejoong glanced at the building, “Oh.” He looked back at Yunho and tried to think of something to say. “Are you inviting me in?” he asked finally, breaking the silence that had once again fallen between them.
Yunho shook his head, “No.” He turned away from Jaejoong and began to walk away from him, but he paused before he entered the building.
“But someday, I will.” Yunho said, his voice so quiet that Jaejoong almost hadn’t heard him at all.
Jaejoong watched Yunho enter, and his heart thudded in his chest.
It was a start.
After that, Jaejoong began to show up at Yunho’s workplace. Yunho didn’t ask any questions, and they walked together, ate together, stayed together.
Yunho would never say much, never asked anything, he just allowed Jaejoong to pick him up every afternoon and show up every evening. Jaejoong didn’t ask Yunho for anything more than lunch and dinner. He didn’t force Yunho to open up, to talk more or to do anything more than he already did.
He would wait for whenever Yunho was ready.
In a way, it reminded him of a book he’d read sometime in his high school years – The Little Prince.
He supposed that it was something akin to the taming of the fox. Meeting Yunho everyday and trying to be closer to him, not talking too much because words were the source of misunderstandings – although he waited not because he wanted to tame Yunho, but because he loved Yunho and wanted to fix everything that he’d broken.
It would be a gradual thing. Every day was progress, and Jaejoong could feel himself bridging the distance that he’d placed between the two of them in the first place.
Yunho finally picked out the book he wanted and looked at Jaejoong, who only then realized that Yunho was done. Jaejoong smiled, “Did you find what you were looking for?”
“I did.” Yunho replied. He looked at Jaejoong, “I’ll pay for it, and then we can go for dinner.”
“Alright.” Jaejoong said as he stuck his hands into the pockets of his jacket. He followed Yunho to the cashier and watched silently as Yunho paid for his book. They walked out of the store together, and once again, Yunho led the way because Jaejoong was still terrible at finding his way around the city.
Although, Jaejoong knew that he didn’t bother to learn his way around because being lost with Yunho gave him more time with Yunho. It was his little secret, but he had a feeling Yunho already knew about it.
“Let’s eat here.” Yunho replied as he turned right and led Jaejoong inside a small, cramped and noisy restaurant.
It was hardly a romantic dinner, but Jaejoong didn’t care. He followed Yunho into a booth close to a group of noticeably drunk students who kept complaining about exam results. He slid next to Yunho, deciding that he was tired of sitting across from the latter.
Yunho didn’t complain about their closeness, and Jaejoong felt his heart twinge with happiness at that fact.
They ordered their food from a man that looked noticeably harassed due to the activity of the establishment, and because of the noise, they both had to repeat their orders twice.
As soon as the man left, Jaejoong turned his head and smiled at Yunho.
“How did work go today?” he asked as he moved and propped his elbow up against the table so that he could look at Yunho better. “Did you write anything particularly interesting?”
It was odd, how he’d suddenly become the talkative one, the one asking all the questions, the one holding the conversation – but for some reason, Jaejoong found himself suiting the role much better than the one he’d held previously.
Instinctively, he felt somewhat like Yunho felt the same about his change in character.
“No, not really.” Yunho replied with a smile that sent Jaejoong’s heart aflutter. It was a small one, but it was genuine, real and beautiful.
All the money in the world couldn’t buy such a beautiful smile.
Jaejoong continued to talk, about himself, about the restaurant, about the hotel he stayed in, about Tokyo, about other places he wanted to visit, and about the things he wanted to do in the future.
It was only when he was in the middle of a rant about how much he disliked the overuse of television characters that always pined after the protagonist despite the total lack of any romantic interest shown towards them, that he realized something.
His gaze suddenly lowered away from Yunho’s face and to the table’s surface. Jaejoong looked down, and his heart caught in his chest as a blush rose to his cheeks. It was stupid, how he hadn’t noticed earlier, how he’d been so caught up talking about something so ridiculous that he hadn’t noticed that Yunho had placed his hand over Jaejoong’s own.
Jaejoong could barely think, and he’d lost any sort of vocal ability. His mind shut down, and he could think of nothing except the warmth coming from Yunho’s hand and the fact that Yunho had begun to trace spirals on the back of his hand with his index finger.
Before he could get another word out, he froze as Yunho’s face inched closer to his. His eyes fluttered shut instinctively, and before he knew it, he felt the soft pressure of Yunho’s lips against his.
It was chaste, quick, and over before Jaejoong wanted it to be. His eyes snapped open as soon as the pressure was gone, and Yunho was already looking away innocently like nothing had happened.
Jaejoong opened his mouth to say something, but he couldn’t bring himself to say anything. He was saved from awkwardness by the arrival of their food, their bowls being placed down in front of them.
He said nothing throughout the meal, the kiss effectively silencing him, but not the loud beating of his heart that rang in his ears. The only thing he could do right was steal glances of Yunho, but from the way an amused smile had graced the other man’s lips, Jaejoong knew he wasn’t stealing them secretly.
In fact, he was fairly sure that he was just plain staring at that point.
Dinner finished much more quickly than the others, and once again, Yunho led him out of the place. Yet, something was different. They were holding each other’s hands and there was hardly any distance between them.
Their arms brushed against each other as they walked on the busy Tokyo streets, and Jaejoong felt a thrill of exhilaration run up his spine as he recognized the buildings they were walking past and that they were going to Yunho’s building.
They stopped in front of it and faced each other quietly. Once again, their mouths met, but the kiss was more passionate and searching than the last – it was searching, fervent and desperate, like they had no more time left in the world and wanted nothing more in the world than to remember their passion.
As soon as they parted, Yunho pressed his forehead against Jaejoong’s.
“You’re not with her anymore, right?” he asked, and Jaejoong could hear the worry in his voice.
Jaejoong kissed Yunho, “I’m here with you, aren’t I?” he murmured before he allowed Yunho to selfishly take him into his arms again and kiss him passionately in the middle of the street, for all to see.
They broke apart, and Yunho took hold of his wrist to lead him inside the building. The elevator ride was short and frenzied, they were never not teaching each other throughout the trip. Before Jaejoong knew it, he was pressed against a door, breathless and wanting.
“You have to move.” Yunho murmured before he captured Jaejoong’s lips again in a passionate kiss that left him weak in the knees and incoherent. “I won’t be able to open the door, or you’ll fall.” He tried in terms of explanation, but Jaejoong refused to listen and only leaned his forehead against Yunho’s shoulder.
“I can’t move,” Jaejoong replied jokingly before he slung his arms around Yunho’s neck and wrapped his legs around Yunho’s waist, making sure to grind their lower bodies together as he did so. “You’ll have to carry me.”
Yunho groaned, “So demanding.” He muttered before he fumbled with Jaejoong in his arms and kicked the door open.
They stumbled into the room, nothing smooth at all about their joint entrance. Yunho kicked the door shut behind them, and throughout the whole time, Jaejoong refused to let go of him.
Fumbling in the dark, Yunho tried to find his bedroom, but Jaejoong was only making it more difficult by being sinful, grinding his hips against him, and making absolutely lewd noises in the process.
Jaejoong let out a breath as Yunho laid him down onto the bed, and he had no time to gain it back because Yunho quickly attacked his mouth, unrelenting and frustrated, while his hands quickly pulled at the fabric of Jaejoong’s clothes.
It was hardly a slow, delicate process. Everything was frenzied, and Jaejoong couldn’t find anything to complain about as Yunho removed the last of anything that would prevent their bodies from getting completely acquainted.
And as he gripped onto Yunho, his nails sinking into skin and his throat completely hoarse from the act of it all, he could think of nothing more aside from the pleasure of how complete he felt.
Like perfection in motion, Jaejoong clung harder, moaned louder as Yunho continued to complete him, to bring him even closer to the point of pleasure they were both working so hard to achieve. The moment they reached it, Jaejoong knew nothing but Yunho. He couldn’t imagine himself anywhere else, doing this with anyone else. He clung so tightly to Yunho that it wouldn’t have been surprised to see the red marks on the tanned expanse of Yunho’s skin.
Yunho panted above him and continued to place gentle kisses all over his face, but it was Jaejoong who voiced out the unspoken words that had hung in the air ever since they’d met each other that first fateful night weeks ago.
“I love you.”
Jaejoong watched as Yunho paused and gently pulled away from Jaejoong’s neck, the soft skin of his cheek brushing against Jaejoong’s. Yunho stared at him, dark eyes studying his face in the darkness of the room.
Is this enough? Jaejoong wondered, his question unvoiced and resting completely in the light of his eyes. Had he finally dispelled Yunho’s fears, and eased away the pain that he’d caused?
A soft kiss later, and Yunho voiced out his reply. “I love you too.” He replied, his voice low, and Jaejoong didn’t have to ask to know how meant Yunho’s words were.
He reached upwards and kissed Yunho, reigniting the passion that had momentarily subsided in the afterglow of their act.
And for the rest of the night, they reminded each other again and again of the love that they were finally free to act on, unrestrained and unsuppressed.