Pairing: Jongin/Junmyeon (with side Xiuhan and Chanbaek)
Genre: mild angst, romance, drama, smut, catboy!au, bookshop!au
Length: Chapter 9 (complete): Forever, ~3.4k words
Summary: Bookstore owner Junmyeon hires catboy!Jongin as a live-in shop assistant. Junmyeon's wary of intimacy but Jongin is determined to get past his defenses.
Warnings: Tattoos and substandard smut
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”
― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
Jongin had always been the strong one since he'd moved into Junmyeon's apartment and into his life - the one who took care of him while Junmyeon leaned on him. So while he regretted the circumstances, Junmyeon did not regret having to be the one to look after Jongin for a change.
He'd been mostly quiet and broken after the visit to the cemetery and they'd spent the remains of the afternoon ensconced in their small but cosy room at the Sunshine B&B. Both Jongin and Junmyeon had shared a laugh over the ridiculously cheerful name when they'd checked in the day before, but today the name seemed neither silly nor funny - it just seemed inappropriate.
They'd lain in bed and talked about random things, things that had nothing to do with Jongin's parents and their tragic departure from his life. When Junmyeon had asked Jongin to just sleep and rest, he'd held him close so Jongin's head lay on his chest. Jongin hadn't made a single sound but a small, wet patch had formed in the fabric beneath his cheek anyway. And Junmyeon had just stroked his hair and let him cry - all the questions hovering on the tip of his tongue, unasked.
They'd had dinner at a restaurant nearby and Jongin had managed to force down only half of his food before pushing the plate away. Junmyeon flagged the waiter and grabbed a few more bites of roast beef before the bill arrived. Then they were stepping out into the summer night, the muted sounds of sporadic traffic and overheard conversations in the background.
"Let's take a walk." Junmyeon draped his arm around Jongin's waist. Clearwater was a small town but at the moment, Junmyeon didn't much care if people gawked - Jongin was his first priority.
"I'd rather go back to the room." Jongin said tiredly as his arm rested heavily on Junmyeon's shoulders.
"Show me where you used to hang out as a kid."
"As a teenager?"
"No, as a kid. As an elementary school kid."
"You're so weird," Jongin shook his head, but he looked a little less dejected and Junmyeon took that as a good sign.
"I'd forgotten how much I liked swings." Jongin planted his feet on the ground and launched himself up into the air, his legs held straight and his back at a 45 degree angle. As he soared through the air and watched the night sky rushing towards him and felt the wind whipping at his hair and face, his heart seemed to lift a little, the tendrils of sorrow releasing their grip a little. On the downswing, he saw a blurry flash of dark colors as Junmyeon glided past on his own swing.
Junmyeon. His chosen mate.
Jongin didn't know how he would have made it through today without him. He'd stopped coming back to visit 3 years ago because it had just gotten too much to bear after a while. But he'd needed this, he realized this now. Being so far from them all these years, the absence had been like a cut that wouldn't heal. One you couldn't see, but which opened up every now and then and flooded your heart and mind with pain.
Visiting the grave had released memories he'd locked away inside himself for long, long years, and he'd expected it to hurt. A lot. But oddly, being immersed in all those long repressed recollections had actually given him a sense of relief. Of catharsis. And it comforted Jongin to know that his parents, who had been mated in life, were together in death too.
The wind trilling gently in his ears, Jongin watched as Junmyeon soared past him again, but this time his face was turned towards Jongin, and Junmyeon was smiling at him.
Junmyeon. His chosen mate.
Jongin would wait as long as it took for Junmyeon to choose him too. He would wait his whole lifetime if he had to.
Later, as they walked across the playground with the swings they’d just vacated swaying behind them like pendulums, Junmyeon squeezed Jongin's hand and said, "Let's do this again, next year."
"You mean we'll come back here together next year?"
"I think we should come here every year, don't you think?" Junmyeon smiled at him indulgently.
"Every year," Jongin said in wonder and his heart felt like it might beat its way right out of his chest.
"Hey," Junmyeon dragged his hand over his heart, feeling the strong tattoo of Jongin's heartbeat, while his leg draped possessively over Jongin's right thigh. They'd been spooning like this for ten minutes but neither one of them was any closer to falling asleep now than they'd been ten minutes before. Jongin had seemed emotionally drained from from this afternoon's visit so Junmyeon had insisted they go to bed right after they'd showered.
"Hey." Jongin turned his body so he was lying on his side and facing Junmyeon.
"It's funny how I was asking you the same thing a few weeks ago, the day Baekhyun showed up." Jongin's smile had an air of wistfulness to it which worried Junmyeon.
"Are you okay?" Junmyeon's eyebrows were knitted together as he repeated his question,
"I've been better ... but yeah, I think I'm actually going to be okay. Having you around today helped a lot." Jongin reached out his hand and let his fingers linger on his jaw, making firefly trails on the pale skin.
"I'm glad," Junmyeon leaned forward, his lips tenderly brushing Jongin’s forehead. Then Jongin's arms were looping around his body and pulling him into his chest. Arm entwined around Jongin's waist, Junmyeon snuggled closer and they talked for a while about Jongin's parents and things they'd done together as a family, and it seemed to help Jongin to talk. So Junmyeon listened as the words poured out of Jongin in a flood at first, and then a trickle. The stories continued to flow and ebb until they drifted to sleep, cushioned in each other's arms.
The next day, Jongin was almost back to his usual self and they spent most of the day visiting his childhood and high school haunts. It had been a hot and sultry day with the wispiest of cloud cover and they'd retired to the air-conditioned comfort of their motel room by four in the evening, sapped from the punishing heat.
They'd showered together, kissing in the cool spray as they soaped each other's bodies. Jongin's hand had reached for Junmyeon's cock, his fingers slipping and gliding over taut, wet skin when Junmyeon stopped him, "Later, Jongin. Let's wait till later."
They hadn't made love the night before and Jongin was more than a little frustrated but he brought his impulses under control and closed his eyes as Junmyeon washed his hair with an unfamiliar shampoo that filled the air with the scent of lavender.
It was late evening and Chardonnay colored sunbeams shone through skinny cracks in the jade green drapes. Clean and very much naked, Jongin and Junmyeon were exchanging fervent kisses in bed - hands sliding over shoulders, flanks and hips, and cupping gently rounded buttocks.
"I missed touching you, Junmyeon," Jongin whispered as his tongue played with the other man's earlobe.
"I missed you too." Junmyeon's fingers ran through Jongin's silvery hair and tugged them at the roots, making Jongin inhale sharply. Then he began stroking his silky cat ears and Jongin moaned softly in response.
"Do you remember the first time I touched your ears?" Junmyeon asked as his fingers kneaded the pale pink, fur-covered skin, and Jongin's moans grew louder.
"Yes. We were reading Laura Esquivel and I was lying down with my head in your lap." Jongin's voice was strained, like he could barely get the words out as Junmyeon continued to touch and fondle his ears.
"You didn't stop me from touching them. And the next day, I did some internet research and found out that cats only let their chosen mates touch their ears." Junmyeon stopped playing with Jongin's ears as he eased his body closer to Jongin's, and kissed him - his tongue sweeping into Jongin's mouth, so achingly slow and familiar and seductive.
"Why did you let me touch your ears that first time?"
"I told you, I never allowed anyone else to touch them before you. Never. Because I never wanted anyone as a mate until you.
"But why me?" Junmyeon laced their fingers together, a pensive expression on his face.
"Because I'd never met anyone as beautiful as you. Because I liked the quiet way you spoke, and the quiet way you were, and how kind you were to me even though I was a complete stranger to you. I knew from the moment you told me that books were your home, that I would always be stuck on you, that no one else would ever do." Jongin's softly voiced words fell on Junmyeon's skin like light summer rain.
"Oh Jongin ... I don't know how you ended up in my store that day but I'm so glad you found me. You made me want to feel again. I'd cut myself off for years and you saved me, Jongin."
"Well, I think I needed you as much as you needed me. I needed a home and I found one that day. I hope you'll be my home for a long time to come." Jongin's lips moved tenderly over Junmyeon's.
"How about forever?"
"Do you mean that? I've told you before that once we make our choice, we commit for life. It's ... it's how cats are. But people don't quite work the same way."
"I know." Junmyeon nuzzled his neck, his tongue flicking over feverish skin. But unlike the first time he'd touched him, Junmyeon now knew that Jongin's skin was hot because of desire, not illness.
"But I want forever with you, anyway." Junmyeon said as he kissed Jongin, a kiss that tasted of promises and tender tomorrows. As their kiss became more heated, Junmyeon's right leg hooked behind Jongin's thighs, propelling him forward so his nipples brushed against Jongin's. A throbbing ache shot straight to Jongin's groin at the electric contact and the pleasure intensified when Junmyeon's tongue licked a maddening path across his thighs, then his hips, before lazily settling on the tip of his cock. Jongin was making soft mewling sounds at the flicks of tongue when Junmyeon's mouth suddenly slid down fast - the tight wet heat of his mouth surrounding Jongin.
"Please," Jongin moaned desperately as Junmyeon's mouth and tongue moved erotically over his aroused cock. He writhed as fingers breached his slick entrance and pushed in and out; everything felt so good - especially with Junmyeon's mouth still working his cock. Jongin protested as Junmyeon withdrew his fingers but the protest soon turned into a gasp and a moan as Junmyeon's cock slid in smoothly and filled him up again, filled him up completely. This felt better, so much better. And when Junmyeon began to move in that elegant way he had about him and rocked his hips at a slow but burning pace, Jongin felt like he might die from the ecstasy.
Their mouths met in a collision of sighs and breathy sounds and Junmyeon's lips traveled south towards his neck as he pushed himself into Jongin again and again. Junmyeon kissed Jongin's collarbones and teased his nipples with his tongue, and as his hips moved faster and faster, Junmyeon's hand slipped in between their bodies and reached for Jongin's cock, tugging it with a firm urgency. Jongin's hands gripped his backside and held on tight as Junmyeon rocked harder and harder into him. All it took was a few more thrusts before they were both free falling, and at the end of it all, Junmyeon collapsed on Jongin – his slim body trembling with exhaustion. Jongin's arms wrapped around him and they both sighed, sated with bliss.
"Wake up." The words danced on the edges of Jongin's consciousness as he fought against rousing.
"Want to sleep."
"There's something I have to tell you." Junmyeon's tone was insistent and it was so different from his usual, laid back way of speaking that Jongin reluctantly opened his eyes. Seeing an earnest looking Junmyeon, lips pouting slightly, Jongin couldn't resist stealing a kiss.
"I have something to tell you! Don't distract me," Junmyeon chuckled, to which Jongin responded by snatching yet another kiss.
"Okay, fine, I'll be good." Jongin lay on his side and watched Junmyeon, elbow bent and head resting on his palm.
"I didn't have anyone to ask and I didn't want to ask you so I'm not sure if I'll get things right but I tried, okay?" His expression was a curious mix of worried and anxious and hopeful.
"You're starting to scare me with all the smoke and mirrors." Jongin smiled, his finger tracing the edges of Junmyeon's lips which had taken on a soft peach hue in the warm gold light of the motel lamp.
"I'm not trying to scare you," Junmyeon said as he moved closer to Jongin and started kissing him. Jongin smiled as their lips met and he wondered why Junmyeon was all anxious when all he was doing was kissing him and possibly making love to him. What hasn't he told me? Jongin thought as Junmyeon left a trail of kisses over his Adam's apple and collarbones before settling on that sweet spot where his neck met his shoulder. Jongin loved it when Junmyeon paid that patch of skin special attention.
And that's when it happened.
There was a slight sting as his teeth grazed Jongin's skin and caught on it and bit down, making Jongin gasp in surprise and pleasure. Junmyeon had kissed him and sucked bruises into his skin countless times, but he had never once bitten him, had never once marked him in this way. He was still in shock when Junmyeon kissed his neck tenderly, licking the small nick he'd just made with his teeth. Then he carefully stroked both his ears, one after another, and now Jongin's heart was racing because this couldn't actually be happening. Junmyeon couldn't be thinking about ...
"I choose you to be my mate, Kim Jongin. I choose you." Junmyeon said in a clear, unwavering voice as he held Jongin's face in his hands.
"Junmyeon, are you sure?" As he asked the question, Jongin’s voice resonated with hope, elation … love. Because oh God, he loved Junmyeon so much.
"Don't you want me to be your mate anymore? Did I get it wrong?" Junmyeon asked, concerned by his hesitation and Jongin laughed as the bubble of tension in his chest burst. He'd estimated that it would take him at least six more months to convince Junmyeon to be his mate and instead, Junmyeon had done the unexpected and turned the tables on Jongin.
"I do, Junmyeon. I want you more than anything." Jongin placed his hands over Junmyeon's and took a deep breath before saying in a strong, clear voice with his heart in his eyes, "I choose you to be my mate, Kim Junmyeon. I choose you."
"I'll be your family now, Jongin. And I promise I'll never leave you," Junmyeon said just before he hugged him tightly. Kissing him with the desperation of a drowning man, Jongin told him he loved him over and over and clung to Junmyeon like he'd never let him go.
Two years later
"I've locked up. You sure you don't want to join us for dinner?" Xiumin gives him a worried look. Junmyeon tends to get a little carried away when he's working on his novella - forgetting to have meals on time, or surviving on cookies, energy bars and whatever fruit he can scrounge from the apartment if Jongin isn't around to make him eat.
"They're having half price Kilkenny's. I mean half-price, dude. You'll be really happy when we finally roll you home." Luhan sticks his head around Xiumin's shoulder. He still works for the Bakersville Herald, but he's the Sports Editor now and rarely has to cover live games - which means more time for R&R at night.
"Tempting ... But I'll have to pass. Jongin's getting Japanese."
"But half price Kilkenny's!" Xiumin and Luhan chorus enthusiastically, taunting him.
"Don't call me if you're too drunk to drive yourselves home," Junmyeon chuckles.
"Please! Not everyone gets drunk as easily as you, Kim Junmyeon, Do not insult Luhan and me. We have beer god status and will be walking out of Finnegan’s completely sober." Xiumin says scornfully. "Anyway, if you change your mind, just come on over - I mean all night half price Kilkenny's, for fuck's sake!"
"I heard you guys the first 27 times you said it,” Junmyeon laughs. “We'll join you if I feel like I'll expire from regret at not drinking half price Kilkenny's."
"I'm sure we'll see you before 9 pm then," Luhan announces confidently and Junmyeon snorts in reply as the two men leave in a tiny whirlwind of noise and good cheer.
A tall, rangy young man with blond hair and a spaced out expression stops at the door and Junmyeon smiles at him. “’Night, boss,” Sehun says quietly. They had hired him 18 months earlier when Jongin enrolled for a Comparative Literature degree at Bakersville University. Sehun is a steady worker, but he has a tendency to be slightly dreamy and distracted. He sometimes does things really slowly like he’s wading through molasses or stuck in some daydream, and that drives Xiumin up the wall because he’s used to getting things done quickly and efficiently. But the new guy is calm and isn’t at all intimidated by Xiumin and it is a great source of amusement to both Jongin and Junmyeon when Xiumin comes to them to grumble about how a three year old could stack books faster than Oh Sehun, or how he could swear it took Oh Sehun five fucking hours to vacuum the store in the morning. Despite all the blustering though, it’s obvious to everyone (except himself) that Xiumin is secretly very fond of the new shop assistant.
“’Night, Sehun.” Junmyeon waves as Sehun disappears from sight. He takes that as his cue to pack up his things and lock the office and head upstairs. But before he can leave his desk, his phone buzzes. It’s a text from Yixing: All night, half-price Kilkenny’s, hyung! You know you want it! See you soon XOXO.
He shakes his head at the way everyone’s been roped into the Great Beer Conspiracy – well, everyone except Sehun because he’s 20 and not quite legal yet. He could think of worse ways to spend an evening and watching Yixing hold court is always entertaining. He’s flourishing in his dance program and comes back to visit every few months. When he gets a little carried away with his stories about life as dance major and starts to show off a little about how his instructors dote on him, Xiumin will step in and cut his ego down to size, stuffing the pieces into an imaginary glass jar while the others try their hardest not to chuckle.
He suspects Jongin will be dragging him to Finnegan’s after dinner if the other guys have anything to say about it, and Junmyeon is perfectly okay with that because he isn’t quite the recluse he was before Jongin.
Junmyeon is doing dishes at the sink and the water is running and it’s loud, so he doesn’t hear the key turning in the lock, or the front door opening and shutting quietly.
He closes his eyes as Jongin’s chin rests on his shoulder, and strong, lean arms slip around his waist. “How was your day?” The deep, husky voice is like velvet and Junmyeon leans back against Jongin’s hard chest and smiles.
“It was good.” He turns so he can see Jongin’s face, his pewter gray hair and his sleepy eyes and his warm smile. Junmyeon doesn’t even know how it’s possible, but Jongin is even more beautiful to him now than he was the first time he’d walked into his office and into his life. “How was your day, Jongin?”
“I’ll tell you later,” he says as his hand fits around Junmyeon’s nape and draws him closer. "I missed you," Jongin says just before his lips cover Junmyeon's with a sigh.
"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you."
- A.A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh
A/N: This story is dedicated to tiny_estrella - never forget that your Annem loves you.