gen, slight chansung/junho
He places his palms flat against this cool wall, searches for an opening, a loophole, but knows this is not his heart to heal.
written before all that shit happened :|
let me hear your voice, i’ll always be beside you
don’t stop, don’t stop, these feelings i’ll always believe in
- happiness (arashi)
It first starts when Wooyoung trips in the middle of dance practice and falls to the ground clutching his ankle. They all freeze, watching as Wooyoung bites his lower lip until it turns pale, and Junho is the first to move over and drop to his knees beside Wooyoung.
"I think I sprained my ankle," Wooyoung manages in between gasps, and Junho cannot tell if the moisture sliding down Wooyoung's cheeks is sweat or tears.
Junho reaches out a hand, unfurls his five fingers against the crook of Wooyoung's arm. "Does it hurt a lot?" He asks, and then automatically squeezes his eyes shut as a wave of vertigo hits him. He sways, then crumples onto the ground.
"Junho?" Chansung is asking worriedly, hovering over the two of them. "Are you okay? The others have gone to get help or an ice pack or water, I forgot who was doing what."
There is a sick feeling unfurling inside Junho's stomach, and he holds his breath, suddenly nauseous. His head is throbbing and his heart is clenching painfully, but Junho manages a tiny tilt of his lips and a small jerk of his head.
"You look awful," Wooyoung says, his voice steadier as he regards Junho. "Are you sure you're fine?"
The door is flung open and Junsu comes in with a glass of water, brushing Junho's hand away and pressing the glass into Wooyoung's hands. "It's warm," he adds.
Wooyoung takes a sip, the color returning to his face. "I feel fine now," he says, looking mildly surprised. "Really, it doesn't hurt now."
Junho subtly presses a thumb against his temple; the ache is still there, even though it has lessened after the loss of contact with Wooyoung.
"Don't pretend to be strong," Junsu chides. "I sprained my ankle before, I know it hurts like hell."
Wooyoung shakes his head. "Seriously, hyung," he insists. "It doesn't hurt that bad now, it feels like I just twisted it or something. I can even stand, I think -"
"Don't try!" Junsu yelps, but Wooyoung is already pushing himself up to stand - a little wobbly, but still - on his feet.
"See?" Wooyoung says, a grin lightening his face up. "I'm perfectly fine." He turns his gaze towards Junho, who is still sitting unglamorously on the floor. He sticks out a hand, laughter dancing in his eyes. "You look like you need some help."
Junho glares back at him, then stands up, wincing as his head spins a little. "You are such a jerk," he mutters under his breath, and Wooyoung mouths weak at him.
When the other members get back, they are all stunned to see Wooyoung back up on his feet trying out the new dance steps ("Is this some kind of lame secret camera thing?" Jaebum wants to know, scowling. "Making us all flustered for nothing?").
Junsu has his moodswings at times, but those usually last for only a day or two. He's been moody and quiet for more than a week now, and Junho has caught him staring into the mirror blankly at least five times. When Chansung voices out his concern, Jaebum simply brushes it off as Junsu's "artistic mood", but Junho sees the worry in Jaebum's eyes and knows he is equally anxious.
Jaebum calls a group meeting one night when the Days Junsu Has Been Acting Weird counter has hit fifteen. "Look," Jaebum says. "You know you can tell us anything, right?"
Junsu glances up, offers a small smile. "Yeah," he answers.
Taecyeon sighs. "Then tell us what's wrong."
"There's nothing wrong," Junsu argues automatically, but his eyes betray what his lips don't. They are all staring at him, a mixture of expectancy and slight fear, so he drags a hand through his hair and breathes out through his mouth. "Okay, okay," he says. "It's just... I've been thinking about getting. You know."
Wooyoung raises an eyebrow. "Speak Korean, hyung."
Junsu presses his lips together, then lifts up his hands and gestures around his face. Junho feels his heart thump a beat too painfully, and he meets Chansung's equally horrified gaze.
"You want to do plastic surgery?" Nichkhun says flatly.
Junsu sighs, then nods. "It's nothing big, okay?" He says lightly. "Everyone does it."
Not us, Junho wants to say. Remember what we've said from the start - believe in ourselves, believe that we can make it big by being us and not someone we are not? But he knows that Junsu will always carry out what he wants, and this, this is what he wants.
"It's your decision," Jaebum says. "We'll respect whatever choice you make."
Junsu grins his gummy smile, and Junho glances away, biting his lower lip. Taecyeon breaks the awkward silence by saying he's going off to sleep, and they all trail out, leaving Junho alone with Junsu.
"Don't," Junsu says (don't say it, because I know it too, I know what I said before but times have changed, Junho, I am not who I was before).
Junho reaches over and gives Junsu a one-armed hug, closing his eyes as Junsu's emotions filter into him. He's starting to get used to this feeling of nausea and giddiness already, so he pats Junsu's back and mouths it'll be alright, even though Junsu cannot see it.
When Jaebum stumbles into their bedroom a little past four in the morning, Junho is still wide awake and blinking up at the ceiling, so he swings his legs off his bed and grabs for Jaebum's silhouette.
He manages to clutch onto Jaebum's wrist, and nearly lets go when he feels the sick, nauseous feeling spread throughout his body again. Stop it, he tells himself, because this is not the time to be weak, this is the time he has to be strong for his leader.
"Hyung," he says. "How did it go?"
Jaebum shakes Junho's hand away, retreating to his own bed. "Nothing," he says coolly. "Just go to sleep."
Junho watches as Jaebum bundles himself under the covers. Half an hour later, he still hasn't been able to fall asleep, and he knows Jaebum hasn't either, because he can hear his jagged breathing and tiniest of sobs.
"Would you just tell me already," Junho snaps in the dark. "What happened to being friends?"
Jaebum is deathly silent, so Junho gives a frustrated sigh and clambers over to Jaebum's bed, sitting beside the lump that is Jaebum's body. He places a hand over Jaebum's blanketed figure. "I'll find out sooner or later, anyway."
"I'm leaving, okay?" Jaebum bites back, but his voice is shakier than it should be. "Just leave me alone."
Junho stares until he finds Jaebum's face in the dark, then reaches out to place a hand on Jaebum's damp cheek. "It'll be okay," Junho says, even when he knows it won't. He fights the urge to throw up, telling himself that this sick feeling doesn't matter when he is taking away Jaebum's pain.
"Go to sleep, Junho," Jaebum says, turning away from him, and Junho can feel the invisible wall being driven in between the two of them. He places his palms flat against this cool wall, searches for an opening, a loophole, but knows this is not his heart to heal. This is not his problem to solve; he cannot do anything except pretend he cannot hear Jaebum crying himself to sleep.
"Sorry," Jaebum is saying, but Junho is sick of his apologies already. Taecyeon has his arms crossed against his chest, his eyes steely, and Chansung is on the verge of tears. Junho wants to tell Jaebum that an apology is not enough to fix this mess, but he sees the look of desperation in Jaebum's eyes and knows that right now, Jaebum is hurting more than the rest of them.
Nichkhun is the calmest of them all. He looks Jaebum in the eye, then says, "At least give us a proper explanation."
Jaebum squeezes his eyes shut for a moment, then opens them again. He places a hand on the doorknob, the handle of his suitcase clutched tightly in his other hand. "I can't," he says, voice low, eyes bright. "Khun, just. I have to go."
Nichkhun is silent for a while, unmoving, but then he strides over and brushes Jaebum's hand away, opening the door. Nichkhun isn't the type to slam doors or yell, but all of them can read the silent frustration that is threading under Nichkhun's skin, the frustration that Nichkhun would never allow himself to let out. "Go, then," Nichkhun says, and his voice is so calm it is unnerving. "It's what you want to do, right?"
Nichkhun, Jaebum is mouthing, but Nichkhun dodges his gaze and steps away, placing his arms around Wooyoung's trembling shoulders. Jaebum leaves, and the door clicks shut behind him with an odd tone of finality.
Later, after Nichkhun has tried his best to staunch the bleeding of Wooyoung's heart, he comes out of his bedroom and looks at Junho with a slight tilt of his head.
"Are you okay?" Nichkhun asks, and Junho nods. Nichkhun doesn't look like he believes him though, but it's not like Junho believes himself - who would, who could be okay at a time like this?
Junho lets his fingers wrap around Nichkhun's wrist, meets Nichkhun's gaze as he feels the tendrils of hurt and pain coil around his heart. "You're not okay," Junho says.
Nichkhun shrugs his shoulders a little, Junho still clutching tightly onto Nichkhun's wrist. "I'm okay now," he says, and smiles.
They all yell at Taecyeon for being the dumbest idiot in the entire universe - even Jaebum makes a long distance phone call to shriek at him. After that they see the desperation in the set of Taecyeon's mouth and offer encouragement instead, a hug or a white lie about how they're positive it'll work out fine.
This is the first time Junho has witnessed Taecyeon being heartbroken; his sadness after his elimination from Superstar Survival was a million times better than how Taecyeon is now. His smiles don't reach his eyes and he stops cracking lame jokes, Junho often catches Taecyeon staring off into space, his phone clutched tightly in his hand as he waits for a phone call or a text message that will never come.
Junho corners him one day, demands for an explanation on what exactly is going on. "Why the hell would you break up with her when you clearly still love her, hyung?" Junho wants to know, exasperated.
Taecyeon sighs. "You don't understand," he says, then turns to leave, but Junho's hand flies out to grip his shoulder and turn him back.
"Don't give me the crap about how I'm too young," Junho says. "I'm an adult now and you know it." He shudders a little as the pain from Taecyeon makes its way into his own body, curling up at the base of his stomach and worming its way into his head.
The look in Taecyeon's eyes softens. "Sorry," he says, running his hands through his hair. "It's just that, I couldn't let it go on any longer."
Taecyeon slants his mouth upwards. "She likes someone else," he says, so softly it is heartbreaking. "It was so obvious, but she didn't want to hurt me, so I just..." He doesn't finish the sentence, just looks away and blinks a few times.
"Do you," Junho says haltingly. "Do you know who?"
"It doesn't matter, does it?" Taecyeon answers. "All that matters is that it's not me."
Junho tightens his grip on Taecyeon's shoulder, afraid that Taecyeon will fall apart, afraid that Taecyeon will dissolve within his pain, afraid that his ability is not strong enough to heal Taecyeon's heart. "We love you, hyung," he says, even though he knows this is not the love that Taeecyeon wants the most.
Taecyeon laughs a little. "Love you, too," he says, ruffling Junho's hair. "Thanks for making me feel better."
Junho smiles back up at him.
"I know," Chansung says. The two of them are alone in the practice room; Junho had decided to stay to train for a bit more, and Chansung had volunteered to stay with him. Chansung is sitting on the floor, long legs stretched out in front of him.
Chansung flips his fringe away from his eyes. "What you can do," he says, smiling. "You take away people's pain, don't you?"
Junho gives him a weird look, laughs. "What are you talking about, Chansung?"
Chansung shrugs. "I don't know how you do it, exactly," he says. "But I know you do."
"I don't know what you're saying," Junho says, meeting Chansung's gaze.
"You do," Chansung corrects, smiling a shit-eating grin. "And don't worry, I'm not going to tell the other members."
Junho threads his fingers together, stretches his legs. "What's your point, Chansung?"
Chansung slides closer to him, swinging his legs over Junho's. Junho winces, shifting away, and Chansung giggles in that high-pitched way of his and pokes Junho's ribs. Junho slaps his hands away, and Chansung is suddenly serious.
"Doesn't it feel awful?" Chansung asks. "To take away people's pain and make it yours?"
Junho makes a face. "I guess," he says, knowing there is nothing left to hide. "But it's worth it."
Chansung tilts his head, his fringe flopping back into his eyes. This time he doesn't brush them away. "As long as you're happy," he relents.
Junho hops up, extends a hand towards Chansung. "Let's get back to practice," Junho says.
Chansung grabs Junho's hand, and Junho tugs him upwards. For once there is no dizziness or nausea coming from another member's touch, and Chansung grins back at Junho. This is happiness, Junho realizes. Everything is worth it.