Pairing: Kaisoo (side Xiuhan, side Taoris)
Genre: Romance, mild angst, fluff
Length: Chapter 8: Allegro (~4.3k)
Summary: Tattooed bad boy Jongin doesn’t care about anyone or anything, least of all himself, until he falls in love with clean-cut choirboy Kyungsoo.
Kyungsoo cleared his throat wearily and reached for his clear plastic drinking bottle. He'd been rehearsing for forty-five minutes and his mouth felt parched and his throat had begun to sting from the exertion. Before his fingers could curl around the bottle though, Kyungsoo felt strong arms settle snugly around his waist and firm lips graze his nape. And he sighed as he curled his fingers around Jongin's hands - the water bottle all but forgotten.
"Your voice is starting to break up and my fingers are tired. Time to rest." Jongin's husky voice and warm breath tickled at Kyungsoo's ear.
"When are you going to show me what you're working on anyway?" Kyungsoo asked curiously. But there was no answer as Jongin's slender fingers pried his collar away from his neck so his mouth could access the sensitive skin at the base of his neck. Kyungsoo gasped at the contact as Jongin's tongue licked a sensation filled path across his skin.
"Jongin," Kyungsoo tried to use a warning tone but Jongin's name only sounded like an ill-concealed hiss of pleasure.
"Yes?" Jongin asked lazily as his hands roamed the expanse of Kyungsoo's woolen sweater clad chest.
"Someone could come in and see us." Kyungsoo said half-heartedly because the last thing he actually wanted was for Jongin to stop. Jongin rotated his body slightly so they now faced each other. Intense, impassioned eyes stared into Kyungsoo's just before Jongin's mouth descended on his. When their lips met it was like coming home, and Jongin's tongue swept into Kyungsoo's mouth with all the desperation of a drowning man. This was belonging. Kissing Kyungsoo was a way of belonging to him, wasn't it? And Jongin wanted more than anything to belong to him.
"Fuck, I don't even care anymore if someone walks in," Kyungsoo said as he abandoned any resolution he'd flirted with to avoid Jongin's kisses. His arms hooked Jongin around the waist and wheeled him in, their chests and hips pressing close together as Kyungsoo deepened the kiss - their mouths and tongues clashing eagerly. In a sudden moment of craving, Kyungsoo's lips traveled across the angel's wings and sucked a pale purple mark onto the smooth tanned canvas of Jongin's skin, while Jongin moaned softly at the unexpected knot of pain and pleasure. It was barely visible among the inked lines but Kyungsoo and Jongin knew exactly where the mark of possession was and what it meant.
"Did you just give me a hickey?" Jongin asked when they finally separated after minutes of feverish kissing, his fingers touching the spot gingerly, as if it hurt a little.
"Yeah, I did." Kyungsoo's smile had a touch of defiance as he confirmed it.
"Why?" Jongin asked, his fingers drawing circles on Kyungsoo's nape and creating all kinds of sensory havoc.
"I don't know. Because I can't resist that tattoo and because I wanted to leave something of mine on you - even if it's just a bruise. Are you mad?"
"No." Jongin answered sincerely before kissing him.
"Does it hurt?" Kyungsoo touched the lilac colored mark gently.
"There was a twinge when you were sucking on my skin, that's all. But it felt good a lot more than it hurt." Jongin's almost smile made him look … young and nothing like the jaded, intimidating young man Kyungsoo had met at the bus stop that first time.
"You make it sound like it's the first time someone's given you a love bite." Kyungsoo chuckled.
"On my neck, it is. I've never let anyone else touch it, remember?" Jongin said before he pulled Kyungsoo close against his chest - effectively cutting off eye contact, like he'd revealed too much. Kyungsoo sank into his embrace and pressed his left cheek against his shoulder. As he inhaled the delectable scent of Jongin and Bvlgari Black, he whispered, "Thank you, Jongin, for letting me." And Jongin just held him tighter and neither boy brought up the fact that Kyungsoo hadn't just touched Jongin's neck - he'd marked it in a very clear act of possession.
"You sounded kinda sexy when you said the F word." Jongin chuckled after a few moments of silence had lapsed - the deep throaty sound doing all kinds of things to Kyungsoo's equilibrium.
"I wasn't trying to sound sexy!" Kyungsoo protested into Jongin's shoulder, even as he felt another laugh vibrate in Jongin's chest cavity.
"That's why it worked." Jongin's forehead touched Kyungsoo's - another gesture he'd seen in movies which seemed like something he wanted to do with Kyungsoo. Touching foreheads was nice, he thought, and he filed it away in his increasingly large mental folder of things he liked to do with Kyungsoo.
The laugh lines around his eyes still crinkled with mirth as he leaned in close, and Jongin's face was simply the most beautiful thing Kyungsoo had ever seen. He couldn't help but smile in return just before he reached up and caught Jongin's lips in his in the tenderest of kisses.
"That was a masterful use of misdirection and it succeeded in distracting me for almost six minutes, but I still want to know what you're working on." Kyungsoo said as he pulled away and Jongin chuckled again because Kyungsoo had such an irrepressible way of asking the most unpredictable things at the most unexpected times. He didn't think he would ever tire of it.
"I'll show it to you when it's done. Promise."
"Does it have angels in it?"
"Does it have angels in it? Because you drew me an angel the other day."
"Maybe. A ... couple or so. Maybe."
Kyungsoo's fingers skated along the the intricate dark lines etched into Jongin's neck. He would never get enough of the elegant angel wing tattoos that adorned his caramel colored skin. Jongin closed his eyes and absorbed the tantalizing movements of Kyungsoo's fingertips pressing lightly against his skin. Irresistibly, he found himself leaning into Kyungsoo's touch, where in the past, he had flinched away when others tried to go anywhere near his neck.
"What were you taking photographs of just now? When I was singing?" Kyungsoo's voice dispersed the sensation-fueled fog that had settled over Jongin and his eyelids flickered open slowly.
"The stained glass window." Jongin answered readily but there was a look of evasiveness in his eyes which made Kyungsoo suspicious.
"That's all? You only took pictures of the stained glass panels?"
"I … might have taken a few photographs of you." Jongin admitted reluctantly, his cheeks slightly tinged with red. He was ready to confess that he wanted images of Kyungsoo to keep but it wasn't yet time to reveal what else he needed the photographs for.
"Why would you do that?" Kyungsoo questioned mercilessly.
"Can I not answer that?"
"Because you're beautiful, ok? Because seeing your face makes life suck a little less. I'm sorry, I just ... fail at words." Jongin muttered, eyes to the ground in an endearing display of shyness.
"You don't fail at words." Kyungsoo shook his head and cupped his right cheek, "You don't fail at all. But it is getting late ... we should get back to work. I don't have a lot of time left to practice in a large, high-ceilinged room. The ambience and acoustics at home just aren't right." Nodding quietly, Jongin led him to the desk covered in neat stacks of music sheets and Kyungsoo's bottle of drinking water. Once Kyungsoo had gulped down the water he needed, he began to warm up his vocal chords again while Jongin watched and listened from his spot nearby. His art materials were spread out neatly, ready for use. But for just a little while, Jongin watched as Kyungsoo began enunciating the words,
Something always brings me back to you.
It never takes too long.
No matter what I say or do I'll still feel you here 'til the moment I'm gone.
If Kyungsoo had been mildly distracted by Jongin's hidden presence seven days earlier, he ironically found more focus today because of it. Maybe it was because he didn't have to pretend anymore that Jongin wasn't there or maybe it was because he was trying harder to be pitch perfect in an attempt to impress the other boy. Either way, having Jongin in the room seemed to work for Kyungsoo. The other boy, meanwhile, had sat at a cluster of desks nearby, and worked steadily on his pencil sketches throughout the first 45-minute session - absolutely silent except for the infrequent sounds of shutter clicks when he took photographs with his DSLR. They had both gotten plenty of work done and it had been nice doing it together - nice was a weak kind of word to describe the warmth and companionship that permeated his entire being but it was the only word Kyungsoo could come up with for now. Now that their break was over, they resumed their earlier momentum seamlessly, only stopping occasionally to take surreptitious looks at each other.
Impatiently, Kyungsoo looked at his watch. It was 6.15 and the world outside had been blanketed in a layer of darkness and cold for close to an hour now. He usually met Minseok and Luhan at 6.10 on Tuesdays. The meeting time differed with the day, but the place was always the same - the foyer of the Performing Arts Department. He'd texted both Minseok and Luhan to say he wouldn’t be leaving with them today but neither one of them seemed to be answering their phones. Where the hell were they? Finally, at 6.18, Luhan showed up alone.
"Hey! Sorry about the time - I had to pick up some books from the library. Group project. I hate those. There's always that one asshole who will screw it up for the rest of us."
"Well, that sucks. Hey Lu, I won't be needing a lift today. Actually, I might not need a lift for the rest of the week." Kyungsoo announced matter-of-factly before asking, "Where's Seok?"
"He's at home. Stomach flu or something. You know how anal he is about missing lectures - it's gotta be a pretty bad case if he takes a day off."
"I didn't know he was sick. Um ... Lu? Is he still really upset about me seeing Jongin?"
"Welllll, you know what a stubborn ass Kim Minseok is. Even it he's not actually upset about it anymore, he's going to pretend he is just so he won't have to admit he made a mistake."
"Does that mean he's getting used to the idea?"
"He's ... coming round. I think. He's stopped cursing the guy anyway."
"I kid, I kid! He might have said he was going to tear 'that tattooed boy' limb from limb if he hurt you. Like, he might have said it a couple of times a day. But he hasn't mentioned wanting to mutilate Jongin in two days. That's good, right?" Luhan gave Kyungsoo a slightly manic grin and he had to laugh at Luhan's astounding levels of hyperbole.
"That was a complete exaggeration." Kyungsoo shoved his shoulder.
"Well okay, maybe. Just a little. But Seok has honestly been a little too overexcited about you seeing this guy. I hope you know what you're doing, Soo." And for just a brief moment, a touch of anxiety tainted carefree Luhan's features.
"I know what I'm doing. I mean I think I do. Oh who am I trying to kid? I don't have a fucking clue what I'm doing. I just know I have to try ... with Jongin. I have to try, Lu. And for what it's worth, I don't think he'll hurt me - at least not on purpose anyway."
"Be careful?" Lu clasped Kyungsoo's shoulder.
"I will, Lu. And thanks."
"Hey," Jongin greeted Luhan with a half smile as he pushed open the glass doors and entered the foyer, two helmets in hand.
"My ride is here. Will you be seeing Seok later? Tell him I said take lots of fluids and go easy on the toilet paper."
"You can tell him that last bit yourself, dude. Do I look suicidal to you?" Luhan chuckled as he waved to them and headed out to the mostly deserted parking lot.
"Are you ready?" Jongin stood beside him, close enough that their shoulders made contact.
"Almost. I just need to do one more thing," Kyungsoo grinned as he took out his phone.
KS: Heard your ass is on fire today
MS: FUCK OFF!
KS: Don't forget to drink lots of fluids
KS: And be careful with the toilet paper because the burnnnnn
KS: Washing with water will help
MS: You are on my eternal shit list, Do Kyungsoo
KS: Love you too
"Okay, now I'm ready." Kyungsoo laughed as he took the helmet from Jongin. Two minutes later they were roaring into the frigid night, faces tingling from the cold and feeding off each other's body heat as Kyungsoo clung shamelessly to Jongin's strong, lean body.
They'd ended up at the Oriole Cafe where Jongin had taken him the second time they'd met. Kyungsoo's stomach was humming contentedly and his tongue was suffused with the piquant flavors of the linguine aglio olio he'd just finished. Now, he was enjoying his first sip of the frothy vanilla latte the waiter had just placed on the table. The waiters all wore pristine, long-sleeved white shirts with long, elegant, navy blue pinstriped aprons fastened around narrow, thin twentysomething hips clad in tailored black slacks. Both male and female staff moved around the café with a kind of crackling energy that was both quick and efficient and Kyungsoo loved watching them work. He also loved watching Jongin … but in an altogether different way. The other boy’s blond fringe was much longer now and practically covered his eyes. Kyungsoo thought the long hair made Jongin look really attractive but at the same time he didn’t like the way Jongin sometimes hid his captivating dark brown irises behind its golden length.
"You just had the chicken pie a few days ago, Jongin. Isn't there anything else on the menu you like?" Kyungsoo asked curiously.
"I'm not really into food, I guess. If I find something I like, I tend to stick with it because I already know what to expect. If I order something new, I might hate it." Jongin explained in his usual slightly awkward, yet oddly succinct way. As he articulated his reasons for Kyungsoo, he realized that he did prefer things in his life to be safe and predictable. Like the way he always ordered pot pie and espresso when he came here. The way he always had a Corona and a cigarette at Ace's on Thursday nights, even though he didn’t necessarily enjoy either. The way he smoked when he was upset because it was just something he'd done for years. The way he usually only got upset because one or both of his parents had said or done something to anger him. The way he never let people in because he didn't want to deal with the mess that emotion always involved. He wasn't even sure why he clung so obsessively to habit, but perhaps, he thought as he gazed at the dark-haired boy sitting across the table from him, perhaps it was time to loosen the vise and just take a few steps out of his comfort zone.
"Kyungsoo? Tell me a secret. You owe me so many." Jongin abruptly changed the subject as he took a sip of his espresso. Was it just his imagination or did his coffee seem more bitter tonight? He must have puckered his forehead when he was drinking it as Kyungsoo pushed his brass-caged glass at him.
"Try my latte? You might like it."
"No. I like my espresso just fine." Jongin said a little defensively but there wasn't a whole lot of conviction in his voice.
"Just one sip," Kyungsoo insisted and Jongin eventually caved. Holding the heavy glass to his mouth, he reluctantly swallowed a mouthful of milky sweet, vanilla laced coffee. It didn’t have the robust, earthy flavor of espresso, but Kyungsoo’s latte was comforting in a way Jongin couldn’t explain. As the subtle notes of vanilla flavoured his taste buds, he felt like perhaps one day, he might venture beyond his safety zone and order something other than espresso.
"Well?” Kyungsoo watched him expectantly.
“It’s basically espresso. With milk in it.” Jongin shrugged defiantly and Kyungsoo rolled his eyes disbelievingly as he took back his coffee, but didn’t probe any further.
“Secrets, Kyungsoo. You said you’d tell me secrets about yourself that you’ve never told a single soul.” Jongin reminded him.
"Well, I'm terrified of singing in front of an audience - which is like the worst possible thing when you're a vocal major. What was I even thinking to take this course? I just hope I can find a way to overcome my stage fright.”
“But you’re in a choir?”
“That’s different. In the choir, I’m just a faceless voice in a sea of voices so there’s no fear. It’s solo performances that freak me out. I’ve never told anyone that – not even Minseok. I’ve managed to mostly avoid singing solo over the years, but in two weeks’ time, I’ll have to sing Gravity in front of a room full of strangers. I hope I don’t freak out completely and just stand there, paralyzed while everyone stares.” Kyungsoo sounded and looked both worried and a little desperate as his palms lay flat on the beige, table clothed surface of the table.
“You won’t freeze, Kyungsoo. You won’t.” Jongin said quietly as his hand slowly covered the back of Kyungsoo’s palm - not caring at all that they were in a crowded restaurant. Warm fingers curled reassuringly around Kyungsoo’s smaller fingers and held on tight. With all Jongin’s past encounters it had all been about the physical, about getting that rush. There had been no space for, and no real need for emotional connection. But with Kyungsoo, just being with him - it was enough. Or maybe it wasn't. Jongin just knew he needed him nearby in every way that counted. And in a gesture that was mostly foreign to him, Jongin offered Kyungsoo words of comfort and reassurance.
Another week drifted past - making it 21 days since the day Jongin had first seen Kyungsoo in the stained glass practice room. The two boys spent almost every passing day together and even Minseok had stopped treating Jongin with utter contempt as he grudgingly acknowledged that Jongin seemed to genuinely want to be with Kyungsoo. He continued to remain aloof around Jongin though, in spite of Kyungsoo’s efforts to break the ice between them. Jongin wasn’t particularly inclined to meet him halfway either, so the two boys ignored each other almost completely, much to Kyungsoo’s unending chagrin and Luhan’s eternal amusement. Fortunately, the meeting between Kyungsoo and Tao and Kris had gone much better. Jongin had brought Kyungsoo over to meet them after Kyungsoo’s Thursday class at the Community Centre. Kris had declared that it was ridiculous that an adult male Kyungsoo’s age had never played a game of pool in his life and Tao and Kris had decided to right this terrible wrong. One pool lesson later, they’d discovered that (1) the angelic looking choirboy was no pushover, (2) he made Jongin smile and (3) he was a natural at pool. But it was the second fact that really sealed the deal for them.
Last but certainly not least, it had not escaped the notice of Kyungsoo’s eagle-eyed Umma that her son was seeing someone. He was singing around the house more often, he was visibly distracted when he went about his chores and the most telling detail: he rarely argued with her when she nagged him. The only times he’d been like this were at the outset of the two serious relationships he’d had since coming out, that she’d known about. After one week of watching her son moon around the house, she sat him down at the kitchen table.
“Bring him over for dinner on Friday night.”
“What? Did I miss something, Umma? Kinda confused here.”
“Your friend, the one who’s making you all lovestruck, bring him over for dinner on Friday. I want to meet him.” Kyungsoo’s umma was a tiny woman with a heart-shaped face and passionate eyes. But no one in the family was deceived by her diminutive size, if Umma said jump, you asked how high if you knew what was good for you.
“I. am. not. lovestruck.” Kyungsoo protested stubbornly.
“Pleeeeaaase.” Umma snorted loudly. “You’d better tone it down before your noonas notice or you’ll be getting shit about how lovestruck you are for the next two years.”
“I said I’m not –”
“7.30, Friday night. No buts, Do Kyungsoo.” Umma said just before she left the room.
“What the hell just happened?” Kyungsoo sat at the kitchen table, still in a daze.
Jongin was stressing over what to wear, which was not something he did. He chided himself because when had he ever cared a shit what other people thought about him. But it looked like he did care. When it came to Kyungsoo and his family he cared a lot. Rifling through his closet, he eventually pulled out two hangers draped with dark fabric that Minjung Ahjumma had pressed to smooth perfection. As he removed the first item of clothing from the wooden hanger, Jongin recalled how he used to like watching Minjung Ahjumma do the ironing. Jongin's parents had enrolled Jongin in an exclusive boys' boarding school in the year he turned ten. Sevenoaks Academy was situated in an isolated part of Vermont - its ivy-shrouded walls surrounded by a maple forest which burned with a muted green glow in summer and blazed with a red, green and gold light in autumn. Despite its stunning physical beauty, though, Sevenoaks was a cold and unfriendly place and Jongin hated it with all the fury his ten year old heart could hold. So when he was back for the summer, whenever he could, when he wasn’t packed away to some summer camp, Jongin liked to hang out in the warmth of the laundry room with Minjung Ahjumma.
"Jonginnie, why are you here? Don't you have anything better to do?" Minjung Ahjumma would tsk at him, her hands never stopping as she straightened the grey pinstriped fabric with her left hand and guided the steaming Tefal iron over the wrinkled landscape of his father's expensive business shirt with her right. Minjung Ahjumma always asked him why he liked to hang around when she was ironing and he never gave her a satisfactory answer - he wasn't even sure he had one, truth be told. He just knew that he found it comforting to watch the steam puff out from the sides of the iron, and linger briefly on the surface of the fabric before it drifted upward in an almost invisible mist. He found it comforting to watch Minjung Ahjumma's untiring and sure movements as she ironed item after item of clothing for the Kims. Her hair was always cut in a short, straight bob that swung softly around her kind face. It was nothing like the long, and ever changing elaborate hairstyles Jongin’s mother favored. Minjung Ahjumma’s round face and plain features were almost always makeup free – except for a touch of lipstick when she felt like it. He liked that she had an expressive face that smiled at him when she was pleased with him and became all fierce when he did naughty things like eating rice cakes without washing his hands, or tracking dirt all over the kitchen floor after he’d been playing out in the backyard.
He just liked Minjung Ahjumma, he liked her so much. His mother’s makeup was always impeccable and she always looked beautiful, but Jongin never knew what she was thinking or feeling. He didn't know if he liked her.
Shaking off the childhood memory, Jongin put on the black, cashmere knit turtleneck he usually wore for formal dinners, and tucked it into his black jeans. He moved to stand in front of the bathroom mirror and carefully removed the fine piece of metal from his lower lip. He didn’t want Kyungsoo’s Umma to hate him on sight so he'd decided it would be best if he tried to look as normal as possible. He examined himself in the mirror and did a double take - he was still unused to his reflection. It would have to do though, for now.
The doorbell rang at exactly 7.24 p.m. and Kyungsoo had practically run to the door because God forbid, one of his noonas should get there first and start interrogating Jongin in the most traumatizing way possible. His mind was whirling with all these mental images when he swung open the door so he was completely unprepared for the sight that met him. It was Jongin, and yet it wasn’t. He was beautiful in the same way Jongin was but his hair was a rich shade of dark mahogany. Kyungsoo was expecting blond Jongin, not this Jongin who was even more beautiful than blond Jongin if that was even humanly possible.
"Jongin what did you ...?!!"
"Your umma isn't crazy about dumb ass blond Asians and my dark roots have been showing for weeks. It was time."
“What did you do?!”