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To: Taeminnie

Hi! I thought I would start writing back to all of your letters. They won’t be as long as yours because I’m super busy and not that great with written words unless they’re in a song, hehe.

Thanks for coming to my fansign! I’m glad I got to finally meet you. I read your letter and laughed because we both had things we didn’t get to say that day. I wanted to thank you for telling me about my cisseixm in your last letter, and, well, every other thing you’ve corrected me on in your writings. It’s important to me that I always keep learning and becoming better so I’m glad that you’re brave enough to tell me when I mess up. I’m working on it, I promise!

Yours, Jonghyun ✨

To: Taeminnie

Hi! I thought I would start writing back to all of your letters. They won’t be as long as yours because I’m super busy and not that great with written words unless they’re in a song, hehe.

Thanks for coming to my fansign! I’m glad I got to finally meet you. I read your letter and laughed because we both had things we didn’t get to say that day. I wanted to thank you for telling me about my cisseixm in your last letter, and, well, every other thing you’ve corrected me on in your writings. It’s important to me that I always keep learning and becoming better so I’m glad that you’re brave enough to tell me when I mess up. I’m working on it, I promise!

Yours, Jonghyun ✨

To: Taeminnie

Hi! I thought I would start writing back to all of your letters. They won’t be as long as yours because I’m super busy and not--

Taemin is interrupted in what’s probably the hundredth time he’s reread this letter by the ding of his dryer next to him. He starts in his little bundle of cooling clothes. Frick. Reaching up to gently place the letter on top of his dryer, he picks up all of the clothes he dumped on himself from the last load and lays them nicely into his basket on top of the ones already in there. Then he opens up the dryer and takes all of the freshly warm clothes out and lays them over himself again, sighing contentedly at their warmth and smelling their clean smell. Once he closes the door, he reaches back up for the letter to reread it another fifty times. The folding part of the laundry can wait.

He still isn’t sure it’s real, to be honest. The wide ruled binder paper, the plain envelope with a puppy sticker holding it closed, the messiness of Jonghyun’s casual handwriting, the faint, faint, faint impression of an autograph underneath it, like Jonghyun signed something on the paper on top of it before he went on to write the letter. The way the holes on the side of the paper are broken like Jonghyun ripped it out of the binder instead of taking it out the slow way. How the little sparkle after his name is hand-drawn in yellow glitter pen with one tiny smudge out of line. How he doesn’t pick the pen all the way up when he dots his i’s and crosses his t’s so there’s the faintest trail of ink between the strokes. Taeminnie.

Taemin thinks he’s studied every single detail of this piece of paper in his hands, but every time he looks at it he finds something new. And every time he looks at it, he feels his heart thud longingly in his chest. He’s so in love. That Jonghyun reads his letters, that’s he’s read them all this whole time, that he listens to Taemin, that just meeting him once for less than a minute was enough for him to want to write back…. Taemin lowers the letter gently before he lifts his hands to run his fingers through his hair for the millionth time. He thinks he wants to get this framed.

He should probably send a reply first, though, and to do that he has to finish this laundry. He picks up the letter again and tugs a hand towel up to tuck under his chin instead. A few more reads won’t hurt.

~

To: Taeminnie

Hi! First, I wanted to thank you for telling me that word I used on Star King last week was wrong. As soon as the episode came out I found out from everyone else ever online, but you taking the time to tell me still means a lot. I’m sorry to have disappointed you and I’m working on getting it out of my vocabulary as soon as possible.

Second, that was you I saw in the audience for Hello Counselor yesterday, right? In the third row, with that blue headband right next to one of the guests. You looked very cute. Thanks for coming to see me again for my repackage! I know you said you didn’t like crowds, but I’m glad you got the chance to see me again after the fansign a few months ago.

Third, I wanted to apologize again. Every week you thank me for existing for you to love, but…. I’m sorry for being the demi to your aro. You’re a really good person, and I wish you could have what you want, but we both know that it would be wrong for me as a celebrity to let you. I have too much power, you idolize me too much… it wouldn’t be right. I know you know this already, and have never realistically wanted it to happen, but I still feel like I should apologize. You deserve to have your dreams come true and I’m sorry that I’m a dream that can’t.

If you haven’t already bought one, I can send you one of my albums for free, if you’d like.

Yours, Jonghyun✨

Taemin isn’t really reading this letter as it rests over his face. He already read it enough times. He’s just thinking about it as he lies on his living room floor, the words right in front of his eyes blurry and out of focus. He sighs every so often, so that the bottom of the letter flutters over his mouth. He really shouldn’t have dropped it on top of him like this. The bottom is probably getting all moist from his breath.

He’s not… disappointed, necessarily, by what Jonghyun has told him. Not sad, not regretful. Jonghyun is right. His celebrity status does throw whatever consent Taemin would give into questionable light at best, and Taemin does have him up on too high of a pedestal, despite how he tries to humanize him as much as possible in his brain. And Taemin did already know all of this. There’s nothing to really be upset about, and yet, here he is, feeling upset about something.

Blowing lightly until the letter flutters off of his face, Taemin turns to curl up on his side. He’s feeling some kind of way that he doesn’t know how to describe. He picks up the letter again and scans it; the apology, the thanks, the second apology, the album offer. It’s all so simple. So straightforward. So professional. So just like all of his other letters over the passed few months.

The apology for using that slur the other day is golden. No trying to push blame away, no trying to explain that he didn’t mean it, just an acknowledgement and a promise to do better. That’s so good. So wonderful. So sweet. So perfect. So--decent, Taemin tells himself. Not using slurs is a basic and decent standard and he can’t praise Jonghyun for doing what he should be doing. He doesn’t get a cookie for not being trash.

Taemin quirks a smile when he rereads the second paragraph. That was him in the audience, third row, with his blue headband, looking very cute. He got the ticket from a giveaway by someone who had to suddenly leave town on short notice. The crowds did make him feel cramped and stuffy, but it was worth it for the few seconds that Jonghyun took to absentmindedly scan the crowd, do a doubletake, and smile softly in his direction. His heart flutters just remembering it. He’s so in love.

Which brings him back to the third part, and also back to a heavy sigh. Jonghyun shouldn’t have to apologize. Taemin shouldn’t have made him feel like he had to apologize. Maybe he was a little heavy with the “I love you”s. He was never doing them to make Jonghyun feel guilty about it, or in the hopes of getting one back, but obviously that’s what happened anyway. Apparently they’re both having the same problem because now he wants to apologize for making Jonghyun apologize. He groans quietly and rolls over to his stomach. He bets he wouldn’t feel half as gross about this if he wasn’t going to start his period soon. He wishes it just made him feel sleepy instead of emotional like it did back in high school.

He’s groaning some more, just to be extra dramatic because he finds that that helps him out with shit like this, when soft little clatters against his kitchen tile reach his ears. He frowns, confused, and then hisses, understanding, when Key’s two little dogs come pattering over to him on the carpet. Frick. He forgot they were napping in there. He lifts the arm with the letter immediately, just in time before they come nuzzling all over him and sniffling at his hand. He can’t stop the soft chuckle that escapes his lips as he wiggles closer to the couch to place the letter on the arm of it and they rise like they want to get up and then drop back down. This is probably the first time he’s appreciated Key’s no-dogs-on-the-furniture rule.

He flops to his back once the letter is safe and lets them climb all over him, fluffing them up and pushing them away gently when they try to lick at his face. Key should be back in another hour or so, he thinks, and they definitely won’t stand for Taemin lying on the floor and feeling sorry for himself. With a last heavy sigh, he pushes himself off of the floor and lets the dogs follow him into the backyard. He’ll figure out what to write back to Jonghyun later.

~

To: Taeminnie

Ahh, I didn’t mean to make you apologize too! I want to apologize again, but I think that would start a cycle that neither of us would ever finish, so I won’t. I’m just glad we both understand each other.

Thank you for the new pictures of your friend’s dogs! I’ll never get tired of them. They’re the cutest little beans!

I know you already have an album, and probably didn’t mean for me to do this when you told me your friend didn’t, but I signed one and sent it with this letter anyway for you to give to them. Hopefully they’ll like at least one song or maybe even become my fan, hehe.

Also--you know my Agit concerts are coming up soon, right? Would you want a vip backstage pass to the second one? I usually get them for my mother and sister, but they’re both out of town that week. I would gladly let you come instead so we could talk more face-to-face, if you’re comfortable with that. If you’re not comfortable with coming alone, you can bring your friend Key also. And if you don’t want to at all, that’s fine. My fansite presidents already have tickets so I just thought I would offer.

Yours, Jonghyun✨

“Mmm… Key?” Taemin pouts, squeezing Key’s arm closer as he peeps around the crowded waiting room they’re in. Jonghyun is up on stage, up on the monitor in the corner, his actions on the screen a few seconds behind his voice floating in from outside. “Keyttyyy,” he whines, using his friend’s two-syllable nickname to really draw it out because they didn’t answer the first time. They’re absorbed in their phone, effortlessly ignoring the bustle of the other people filling the room. Taemin is really struggling to do that, even with Jonghyun’s gorgeous smile in front of him on the tv. He puts his chin on Key’s shoulder and opens his mouth to whine a third time when Key finally lowers their phone to look at him.

“What?” they ask, first reaching to fix Taemin’s bangs and then brush their own rainbow hair out of their face. Turned to him like this, they’re super close, so Taemin gives them the tiniest little friend kissie on the corner of their mouth before he goes back to his pouting.

“Can we go hide in his dressing room?” he asks, tugging lightly on Key’s sleeve. Key tsks, sighs, pats his cheek.

“Too many people?” they ask gently, and Taemin nods. He keeps catching people glancing at him. Or, more likely, glancing at Key’s colorful ass and not even noticing him, and it is better than when they were peeping at Jonghyun from the side of the stage, but still. He doesn’t like it.

“Jonghyun said we could, remember,” he says, pulling out his phone to quadruple check that the private twitter conversation him and his fave have had for the past few days does still have that message. It does: a short, “Glad you made it! Don’t worry about being late. I’ll just talk to you after. You and your friend can stay in my dressing room if you want. Security will know who you are.” He holds his phone up to show Key. “See?” he asks. Key glances at it.

“The text he sent you in the middle of his concert, yes,” they say, shaking their head as they stand up. “Super professional.”

“Okay, he was only on his phone for like, three seconds,” Taemin says. He knows. He was right here, on this couch, watching Jonghyun finishing up “Playboy” and introducing “Breathe.” Taemin sent the text, Jonghyun checked his phone, and a few seconds later he had that neat little reply. “He had it ready to go,” he says as he lets Key pull him up. “Because he knew he wouldn’t be able to take the time to type it out when we actually arrived. Which was clever. And sweet, and thoughtful, and--”

“And you are so far up his ass,” Key mutters. Taemin pouts as he fixes his jacket and avoids the gazes of the people that are looking at them now for standing up.

“Rude,” he mumbles. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. It gets him free albums and concert tickets and someone to love. Even if it does also make him go on dreamy monologues about how good and pure his fave is. He’s had three so far in the thirty minutes they’ve been there. They were all very fun, and also all gently stopped by Key. But still. “Maybe I like being up there,” he snoots.

“Up his ass?” Key snoots back, and Taemin blinks. Fuck. Wait. No. That’s not--Key is smirking at him. He huffs, grabs Key’s hand, and tugs them just far enough until they reach the hallway. Then he lets them lead, because he has no idea where to go and his take-charge skills are virtually nonexistent anyway. “He doesn’t even have an ass, to be honest,” Key says as they tug Taemin two doors down and to the one with a security guard just kind of hanging out in front of it. They share a quick exchange, Taemin keeping his eyes down and only shyly looking up to show the guard his vip card, before they’re let in with the door closed behind them.

“His butt is cute,” Taemin sighs as he flops down on the little couch by the door. He mouths Key’s “his butt is nonexistent” to himself as Key says it out loud. They’ve had this conversation before. He wiggles himself comfortable on Jonghyun’s couch, pulling out his phone so he can first let Jonghyun know that they’ve migrated and then to try to stream the concert since there’s no tv in here. It’s quiet for a little bit as Taemin struggles to get service; when his phone denies him, he sighs and resolves to just listen to Jonghyun’s sweet voice through the walls instead.

“I knew he’d be a soft blanket kind of dude,” Key mutters after a minute. Taemin frowns at the ceiling.

“What?” he asks, turning to look at Key, and then, “Stop touching his shit, hey.” He wiggles off of the couch to scuttle over to Key and frown at them. Key huffs, but puts the scented candle back on the vanity anyway.

“You’re only not doing it because you already know exactly what he has anyway,” he says. Taemin blushes a faint pink and doesn’t protest. So maybe he’s watched that one “what’s in this celeb’s bag” cut with Jonghyun twenty times. So maybe he pauses videos sometimes just so he can squint at and analyze the shit in the background of Jonghyun’s room. That doesn’t mean he’s not curious. His hand twitches towards the second pocket of Jonghyun’s bag, curious as to whether or not he really always keeps some gum in there, but he snatches his hand away after half of a second.

“I’m not doing it because I’m not rude and nosy,” he says, shooing Key away from the desk. Key humphs haughtily at him but tugs him to the couch, pushing and pulling him to resume their earlier comfortable position. Taemin lets out a slow, contented sigh. This is good. Now all he has to do it sit here with his best friend, listening to Jonghyun’s wonderful voice and smelling the lingering scent of his perfume in the air. He gets to wait here in this wonderful comfort until his love returns from the stage.

And return he does; a little over twenty minutes later and Taemin is grinning wide even as Jonghyun is saying his goodbyes to the crowd. What a great fucking mini concert. Chill, soft, fun, gorgeous with his voice. Taemin is extremely jealous that he couldn’t be in the crowd to see him in person, but only for a little bit before he remembers that he’s going to see him even closer and even more in person very soon. They’re even going to get a quick bite to eat with him after. His jealousy tones down a bit but still hovers around a mild amount because he does still wish he was able to experience Jonghyun in as many ways as possible.

The noise through the walls shifts from cheers and the murmurs of a faraway crowd to chatter and conversations of people just nearby. The thought that he should probably be at least sitting up straight when Jonghyun comes in enters Taemin’s head when he hears some people walking right passed the door to the room.

Almost immediately after, when he’s barely started to push himself up off of Key, the door opens with such suddenness that Taemin’s jump makes his friend almost drop their phone.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll see you there,” Jonghyun is saying, a wide grin on his face as he backs into the room. “Wednesday, right? Okay, yeah. Bye.” He pushes the door to just a crack open, turns with a heavy, elated breath, and grips the hem of his fuzzy sweater with a little giggle. He’s so fucking adorable.

Then he turns a fraction more, sees Taemin and Key on his couch, and jumps, startled.

“Oh,” he exclaims, and then laughs, bringing a hand to rub the back of his neck. “Gosh, sorry, I forgot--I forgot to knock,” he says, gesturing at the door. “Um. Hi. Key, right?” He smiles wide and bows his head, stepping forward to take the hand Key offers to shake. Taemin offers just a wave instead; a wave and a smile that his brain provides for him because the presence of Jonghyun right in front of him has robbed him of his speaking ability again. He’s so… gorgeous. His fuzzy white sweater, his ripped jeans, his brown boots, his stud earrings, his styled blonde hair under an adorable burgundy hat, the gentleness of his face, of his smile… Taemin squeezes Key’s arm tightly. Holy shit.

“Hey,” Key says pleasantly when Taemin doesn’t say anything. “You sounded really good out there.” They nudge Taemin’s side gently. “He thought so too.”

“Yeah,” Taemin breathes. He’s glad his brain is focusing more on carrying him through the basics of functioning than on being embarrassed. Jonghyun’s smile grows flattered and he turns to sit at his vanity.

“Thanks,” he says, turning the chair to face them. He takes off his hat and puts it on top of his bag. “I had fun.” He half turns back to his mirror, glances back, shrugs a little sheepishly. “You don’t mind if I take off some of my makeup, right?” he asks. “Eyeliner always really bugs me when it’s hot.”

“Go for it,” Key shrugs, Taemin shaking his head next to them. He doesn’t want Jonghyun to be uncomfortable. Jonghyun gives them both a thumbs up. When he turns back around, he moves his chair so he can keep looking at them in the mirror.

“I love your dogs, by the way,” he tells Key. “I don’t know if Taeminnie’s told you.” For the first time, Taemin sees Key’s smile go from politely uninterested to genuinely pleased. They and Taemin speak at the same time: a “he has” from Key and a tiny “I have” from Taemin. They glance at each other while Jonghyun looks between the two of them in the mirror, and then all three of them are chuckling softly.

“I have more pictures of them if you wanna see,” Key says, pulling out their phone. Taemin groans. Ugh. Here they go.

“Yes,” Jonghyun hisses immediately, eyes widening under his makeup remover. Taemin sighs and falls dramatically to the side when Key gets up eagerly to grab a spare seat next to Jonghyun. A little later, he pulls himself up to stand behind Key and drape himself over their shoulders as they swipe through pictures.

“That’s,” he says, and then clears his throat when Jonghyun turns those gorgeous eyes on him. “That’s one of the ones I sent you, remember?” he asks softly. His voice isn’t back to it’s usual confidence yet but at least he can say full sentences now. He knows that’s part of the reason why Key decided to distract Jonghyun for a few minutes anyway and he’s thankful. Jonghyun nods, looking back at the phone fondly.

“When they were listening to 2:34?” he asks, and Taemin nods. He remembers.

“Did I tell you about how the next time I babysat them I let them listen to the whole album?”

“You what?” Key asks, frowning up at him. Taemin looks away guiltily. Shit. He forgot to tell Key that he’s been trying to convert their dogs from punky pop to Jonghyun’s stuff.

“Look at this next picture, wow,” he says quickly, reaching to tap Key’s phone himself. Key shakes their head with a slow sigh, Jonghyun laughs softly as he reblends his foundation around his eyes, and Taemin smiles at both of them.

After three more dog pictures, there’s a knock on Jonghyun’s door; Jonghyun leans back and calls out a “yeah” while Taemin stands up straight.

“Hey, nerd, are you ready yet?” a voice says as the door pushes open. When Taemin sees who it is, he blinks in surprise. That’s Amber. Like, the Amber. Huh. Cool. He waves slightly and she notices him and Key, blinking in surprise as well. “Oh,” she says, a friendly smile coming up on her lips. “Hey.” She turns back to Jonghyun. “Are those two the ones you said you invited to smoothies with us?” she asks. Jonghyun nods, giving them a quick glance too.

“Yeah,” he says. “We’ll be out soon, sorry, we got kind of… distracted,” he says, fluffing the hair at the back of his head awkwardly. Taemin snorts. Distracted. Sure. “We’ll meet you at the cafe?” Jonghyun offers. Amber shrugs, nods, waves at all three of them and leaves. Taemin watches her close the door behind her fondly. She's shorter than he’d thought. “Sorry,” Jonghyun says then, and Taemin looks back to him. “Dogs are my weakness,” he shrugs, and stands up out of his chair. He grabs his hat, grabs his bag, stretches towards the ceiling for a second, and exhales happily. “Ready?” he asks, and Taemin nods, and then looks down at Key.

Key is still sitting in their chair, staring at the closed door, mouth hanging slightly open. Taemin frowns.

“Uh. Babe?” he asks, poking Key’s cheek. Key blinks slowly, swallows, looks up at him.

“That was Amber,” they whisper. Taemin nods.

“Um,” he says, and then he remembers. “Oh,” he says. “Oh, frick.” He brings his hand up to muffle giggles as Key continues to look like their soul has left their body. At least now he can stop wondering how he looks around Jonghyun. “I mean,” he says. “I told you we were going to get snacks with some of his friends.”

“Yeah, but--” Key hisses, and then takes a deep breath. They stand up, sit back down, rummage in their bag for their little compact and flip the mirror open. “Oh my fucking god,” they hiss. “That’s not--why didn’t you tell me your fave was friends with my fave, oh my fucking god, I don’t even have--my fucking glittery eyeliner, fuck--”

“I thought you knew,” Taemin says, shrugging wildly. How could they have not known, with the pair of them posting pictures with each other all the time? Key just whines at him and rummages in their bag for any kind of eyeliner pencil. Taemin sighs and pets their hair gently. Looking up at Jonghyun, he grins at his amused little smile. “And they give me crap for being in love with you,” he says. Jonghyun’s laughter at his joke makes his heart soar.

~

Jonghyun,

Hey!! Taemin again. I’m in my backyard writing this today!! It rained a little bit earlier, but it’s cleared up so now I’m out here enjoying how everything smells. The neighbor’s cat is sitting on the fence and looking at me. I like their cat. She doesn’t make me feel judged like a lot of other cats do. She just looks tired all the time, which I can relate to.

Anyway, thank you so much for letting us come to your show!! I had a wonderful time. I hope I didn’t seem too nervous the whole time. You’re gonna say I’m not, but for you to let someone that’s just a fan hang out with your friend group for even only twenty minutes is something that I’ll never forget. Thank you for being so generous, and again, thank you for letting me love you.

Key still hasn’t forgiven me for somehow not knowing that they didn’t know who their fave’s friends were, but they will soon, when they get bored of being mad. They wanted me to tell you thank you for paying for their muffin and saving them from dropping even more stuff out of their bag in front of Amber. They’ve given me a whole two dollars to mail to you with this, which I think might actually be illegal, but they’ll never let me rest until they know that they’ve paid you back, so. Here you go.

I was listening to Blue Night yesterday too, by the way, and I really related to the the song you released. “Warm Winter.” It felt like a lot of people I’ve known in the past, and even a little bit like Key now. And I loved how simple and calm it was, and the tune was really nice. Thanks for sharing!!

I forgot the exact date, but I know you have a variety show filming soon, so good luck on that!!

Love, Lee Taemin ❤

Taemin has a problem.

According to his revision history, this is his eighty-seventh edit of this letter and it’s the most obviously fake piece of shit he has ever read. Including those posts about how Ruby and Sapphire are “just friends.” He groans as he reads it over, one hand threaded through his hair and messing up the cute airbrushed style he spent ten minutes on earlier. He doesn’t know how his life has come to this.

“Something I’ll never forget,” he mumbles to himself. “Thank you for letting me love you.” He scoffs. What a fucking understatement. More like “being able to spend that time with you in a casual way let me have a glimpse of what it would be like to know you, really know you, to be with you on a regular basis and have you smile at me like you smiled at your real friends, and now that it’s over I feel even more empty and fucking desperate to be with you, so much that it feels like it hurts, so much that I literally lied in bed and cried for a good hour yesterday because I know it will never happen, and that was never a problem before but now it fucking is and I feel like even more trash because of that because it’s wrong for me to expect anything out of you and because I know I’m still just in love with an inflaed idea of you. It’s unfair to you and it’s unfair to me and please, please, just let me love you, please love me back, please let me be with you, please--”

Taemin groans in disgust and slaps his laptop shut. He can’t keep fucking doing this. He never should have gone to the show. He definitely never should have agreed to stop for snacks in the company’s little café with Jonghyun’s friends. He and Key could have just waited outside the building for the twenty minutes it took the bus to show up instead of spending that time laughing with Jonghyun over expensive cookies and fruity smoothies. They should have just left after those few minutes in the dressing room. It should’ve stayed as just a cool, quick little moment with his fave.

He would have left giddy and excited, wanting more but still satisfied with the time he got. With the extra time he spent talking with Jonghyun in the café, it let him relax from his initial high of meeting him face to face again and let him get used to being with him. It let him imagine, just for a short while, what it would be like to have that all the time, and when he had to leave, it was so much worse. He never thought he could have gotten more attached than he already was.

He keeps replaying the way Jonghyun looked at him, the wide smiles, the genuine conversation, the way he nudged Taemin’s arm when he reached across the table to playfully shove one of his friends. There was literally no romantic intent, no platonic intent, nothing more than a celebrity being nice for his fan, but Taemin can’t make his brain stop envisioning warm scenarios where Jonghyun holds his hand and hums him to sleep. Admittedly, they’re the same as the ones he’s thought of before, but this time, they have something deeper in them. Expressions taken from eyes right in front of him instead of eyes directed into a camera. A voice clear and unfiltered, straight from his mouth, pure and free from editing and mic static. Gestures and movements confirmed by direct, clear line of sight instead of half cut off by a camera shot.

Taemin sighs, lowering his head onto his laptop. It’s still warm and he rubs his cheek against it gently, closing his eyes and just listening to the sounds of his backyard. The wind rustling the leaves, the faint cars in the background, the soft pitter-patter of new rain starting to fall from the sky. After another few minutes, he sits back up and picks up his laptop. If it’s gonna rain again he shouldn’t be out here.

He opens his laptop back up once he’s at his kitchen table instead. He reads over what he has: the bit about his backyard and the cat, placed first to make it look like he wasn’t too eager to talk about the concert day. The fakest thanks he’s ever written in his life. The bit about Key that he blabbed for too long about to stop himself from gushing even more about how in love he is. The bit about the fucking song, the song that Taemin knows isn’t about him but feels in his soul like it is because he’s tricked himself into thinking his love for Jonghyun is in any way reciprocated. The note about Jonghyun’s next recording schedule, a complete fucking lie because Taemin knows exactly when and where and was desperately trying to get tickets. “Love, Taemin,” with a heart that he wishes could take up the whole page.

Next he glances through his revision history. Countless edits. Long explanations. Detailed reveals of his heart. An angry, half caps, largely typoed, aggressive rant about how this is all Jonghyun’s fault for leading Taemin on and allowing him to get close and overstepping his line as a celebrity and doing all of this shit when he knew it would just fuck Taemin up more. That one he wrote when he was feeling particularly emotional at two in the morning. He deleted it because he knows it’s not as simple as that, and also because he felt like it was a little mean.

After that he goes back to what his current letter is. After a sigh, he gets up and shuffles to his fridge. He has a whole pack of chocolates left over from his birthday presents a while ago. He’ll curl up on the couch with them and watch bad daytime television, and then write out the letter of lies when he’s done.

~

Jonghyun

I’m sorry, I’m so sorry--please, please don’t read the other letter!! This will be priority mail and I really hope this got to you first.

I didn’t mean to send the other letter. I wrote out two, the first one when I was a little tipsy on rum-filled chocolates and the second when I’d sobered up the next morning. I didn’t realize that I’d sent the wrong one until an hour after I got home from the store.

This isn’t the right one either. I threw that one away because this whole fuckup has made me realize that I can’t keep up this contact with you. Not now, not for a while. I don’t know how long, but I can’t. I don’t want to make you feel guilty, but that concert was a bad idea. It really fucked me up. I wasn’t going to tell you but I have to. I’m sorry. It’s more me than you.

I’ll send you another letter once I feel like I can handle it.

Taemin ❤

Taemin’s handwriting is considerably shittier than usual as he hunches over the counter at the post office and scribbles his return address on the envelope. He’s fucked, he’s so fucking fucked--he can’t believe that he sent the wrong fucking letter. He can barely believe he wrote it. He knew he should’ve stopped eating the chocolates once he realized they were actually liquor candies. That was the opposite of what he needed, to get half drunk on a Wednesday afternoon like his life wasn’t already fucked up enough already.

Someone else enters the little building and stands in the line behind him; he glances quickly at them and moves to the side so they can talk to the person behind the counter.

“Sorry,” he mumbles, keeping his eyes down. He hates this. He hates that he’s here, paying seven dollars for a fancy envelope, with his hair a mess, his car parked outside shittier than when he was learning to drive, not wearing a fucking binder, and not even sure if he’s writing his own name correctly because the anxiety burn behind his eyes is making everything kind of blurry, all because he spilled his entire fucking drunken heart out onto a piece of paper and dumped it into his mailbox by accident.

He finishes his address, then checks and double checks and triple checks Jonghyun’s address to the one he has saved on his phone. Then he takes his strawberry-scented envelope and opens it, takes out the letter he just wrote before he shot out of his house fifteen minutes ago, and makes sure that it’s the right one. He knows that it is; there is literally no other letter. Still, his shaky hands press the letter down flat so he can read and reread it just to make sure that it’s the right letter that he’s going to send.

When he stuffs it as carefully as his anxiety will allow back into the envelope, he immediately wants to rip it out again to check. He forces himself not to and instead grabs the priority envelope to check that that is the right one and didn’t somehow get switched to one with someone else’s address while he wasn’t looking. He doesn’t even lick the small envelope closed before he slips it into the cardboard one. He’d probably wind up cutting his tongue. Closing the big envelope, he looks up to see the person from before still speaking to the person behind the counter. Ugh.

He rocks on toes, taps his fingers on his envelope as quietly as possible, struggles to fix his hair from a blonde windblown mess to something actually manageable. It doesn’t work, but he does snap a plastic hair clip in the process from pulling it open too roughly. He sighs as he stuffs it into his pocket and pulls his phone out instead. His calming plant apps do nothing to soothe him and when the person finally leaves the counter he is in their place in less than a second.

“Hi, again, hi,” he says to the worker. “I’m finished.” He holds up his envelope and then tries not to jam it in their face when they hold out their hand for it. He opens his mouth to ask if they’re sure that it’ll get to Jonghyun before the one he sent this morning, but stops himself. They already told him it would. He shouldn’t be a bother. And he doesn’t think he can make his voice say that many words in a row right now anyway. “Thank you, very much,” he says instead. He can’t even tell if his face is defaulting to a smile or not. He is so fucked up. “Sorry if I’m rushing you,” he adds, the guilt that always lingers inside of him pushing him to apologize for making someone do their job.

“Don’t worry about it,” the worker smiles at him. Taemin continues to worry about it. “It should get to its destination in one to three days.” One to three. That is less than a week. That is good. Taemin breathlessly thanks them again and leaves the office, fumbling for his car door handle and missing twice before he finally gets himself inside. There, he slouches in the seat and rubs his hands over his face. It’s going to be put in the express today. And then it’ll get to Jonghyun. And then Jonghyun will read it. And that will be the end.

Unless someone loses it. Or--the priority mail envelope is surrounding his strawberry-scented one. Maybe Jonghyun won’t notice that it’s from him until it’s too late. Or maybe he’ll read the original one anyway out of curiosity. Or maybe--maybe Taemin didn’t even put the right address even though he checked a hundred times--or--did he check? He doesn’t fucking remember. He groans, sliding even more down in his seat. He can’t live like this. He needs to stress eat. He wants mcnuggets.

He can’t drive, though; not when he’s so shaky like this. He sighs out a heavy breath and starts his car anyway. He’ll park further in the middle of the big lot of this little shopping center so he’s not in the way of anyone and call Key. They’re just staying at home today, he thinks. They can meet him here and bring food. They’ll sit with him in his car for an hour and listen to him worry. Yeah. Good. Okay.

It takes three tries to call Key because his fingers are shaking so badly.