"Heechul-hyung is coming over next week," Taemin shares through a mouthful of bulgogi. He feels a big drop of the kimchi's brine dripping down out the corners of his mouth, but the heat of the meat deeds him incapable of darting out his tongue to wipe it. At the same time, both of his hands are occupied, one busy with the chopsticks and the other holding the cup with kimchi. On top of that, he had just mopped the kitchen in the morning, and God damn him if anything was coming near it.
It wasn't a particularly expensive shirt, —nor a memory-ridden, significant one— but it almost physically hurt when he saw his shoulder inching closer to his chin and wiping the red substance off, leaving a dark stain.
The adrenaline that surged within him in just those seconds was exceptional, and it took him a pair of labored breaths to come down from it. "Holy shit, fuck." He swiftly lets the kimchi and chopsticks down and bends down to inspect the kitchen tiles. Neat. He washes his hands and resumes wrapping his food in lettuce. That's when Jongin erupts in laughter. It wasn't his usual laughter, it was worse. High-pitched guffaws were followed by squeals when he'd run out of air.
Taemin stares, dumbfounded, at Jongin's neck, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down almost unnaturally. "You know I could've dropped the kimchi, right?"
A squeezed out 'yes' comes out through fits of laughter as the younger nods his head at the statement.
"You know, I could've shattered the cup too." This time, Jongin snorts and slaps his own thigh, "And I could've gotten you dirty at the same time."
When Jongin doesn't stop laughing, Taemin's mouth parts slightly at the ludicrousness of the situation. He could've sworn it wasn't funny at all, but then again, Jongin was right in front of him hiding his face between hands, his shoulders bouncing up and down rapidly as no sound came out of his open mouth anymore.
Taemin purses his lips and waits for the other to stop laughing, or take a break from it, because he's certainly passed the stage where his stomach starts aching. He stares as he takes deep, full breaths and waits.
"Hyung, you should've seen yourself, I swear," Jongin mumbles, coughing a little bit and wiping a small tear from his eye. "It seemed like it happened in slow motion. Ah, you seemed like one of the characters from those weird TV shows for kids."
He smiles and scrunches his nose a little bit. "You're always laughing at all my mishaps," Jongin bows his head apologetically in an almost automatic manner, "No, I'm glad they happen so often, it's nice seeing you like this." Taemin clicks his tongue, he isn't liking the sound of this. "But if I'm going to keep being your personal clown, I'll need some salary." Taemin can't help but chuckle as he says that. The younger has brought his sense of humor down almost as much as he has improved it.
"No worries, hyungnim, I'll keep you happy and unlucky." He stands and does a 90° bow, before running over to the other side of the table and swinging his arms around Taemin's neck. He automatically rests his hands on top of Jongin's, caressing over the knuckles before tickling in between his fingers. He slaps both hands softly.
"I meant money, or food, or something serviceable." Jongin just hugs him tighter. He slaps his hands away again.
"Okay, go, go eat. I didn't pretend to make the food myself for nothing." He looks up to Jongin above him and smiles, then proceeding to give little pecks to the arms around him. Gestures like that are more intimate than they seem, Taemin knows that, though he isn't sure why they are so normal between the two. He recognizes that and leaves the fact alone, there's things about the two that don't require explanations.
Instead of going back to his place on the opposite side of the table, Jongin just flops down next to him. "Where'd you order this, hyung? It's good," He drags the 'ood' as he stares at the food with his eyes wide open, not blinking, looking like some sort of caricature. Taemin retrieves his chopsticks and grabs a longer piece of kimchi, shoving it swiftly into the other's mouth. The younger grimaces and shakes his head, wiping his mouth on his hand.
"Ow! That's strong, that's strong."
Jongin's eyes are squeezed shut as he reaches out for a napkin. Taemin realizes he should've just handed him one a second too late when he feels a fist twist his shirt and something damp landing on it. A dry sob scapes his throat as he stares down at his own shirt, pouting almost exaggeratedly.
If his day wasn't damned, in terms of cleanliness, it sure was now. Laugh echoes in the kitchen once again, followed by a very unconvincing 'I'm sorry'.
He sighs, for the umpteenth time, and removes his shirt fast, careful not to get any kimchi —or spit— on his face. He joins in on the laughter this time, though. "You owe me a shirt."
Jongin nods, still smiling, and gulps down some water. "You said Heechul-hyung is coming?" He's staring intently at the older, his head tilted and his gaze somewhere on his body. The latter isn't sure where, but he's better off not knowing. He evades a misunderstanding, disappointment and potential false hope that way.
"Oh, right. Right. Yes, he'll stay here for a few days to a week. He's going on vacation so he wanted to drop by beforehand." He folds a fat lettuce wrap and gets rid of it in one bite. Jongin mimics him. "You know how all of his friends live near us? Well, that's why."
"So, you're saying we'll only see him, what, 5 hours a day? That he'll disappear at midnight and come back at dawn?"
It's supposed to be a joke, he knows, but he can't deny it either. He smiles. "Probably."
Jongin scoots closer to him, holding a small plate with almost a dozen well-made lettuce wraps that Taemin didn't see him making. Just half of his back is in front Taemin when Jongin lays his head on the other's shoulder, not putting enough pressure to throw off his balance but more than sufficient to get his heart beating a tempo or two faster.
"You know, I wonder why Heechul-hyung's hookups don't let him stay the night," Jongin vocalizes, two and a half wraps inside his mouth.
Thinking back to the short-lived time Heechul and him were roommates, he realizes the first used to be much calmer, shyer. His conclusion is that it must've been a midlife crisis. "Surprisingly, it's not plural anymore."
The younger twists his head, still on Taemin's shoulder, staring up to the latter's face with widened eyes once more, questioning the truth of the statement. The position makes Jongin's lips be too close to the other's jaw. If he were to look to his right side, said lips would undoubtedly be in contact with the underside of his chin, if his calculations are correct. It tickles, the proximity, and it's hardly bearable when there's no movement, apart from his own chewing. It itches, the lack of intention of keeping a healthy distance between the two. He can only distinguish the details on his face through his peripheral vision, it's overwhelming. He moves his head, staring fixedly at the corner of the ceiling the farthest away from Jongin.
"Well, you met hyung at his worst. Or his best, I don't know. But he seemed calmer when we met, he was, in a way. Just slightly, though. He'd keep his activities to himself in his late twenties."
The other yawns, and, just like a cat would do, rubs the back of his head against Taemin's bony shoulder. "Isn't he a little too young for that to have been a midlife crisis?"
"Maybe he won't live past sixty."
"Ah– Hyung, don't joke like that." His whining and the soft slap he gave his thigh makes Taemin bite his tongue to suppress laughter. He fails.
"When he comes over, ask him how long he's living." He still remembers one of Heechul's main concerns before hitting thirty. His recklessness and carelessness made himself —and everyone around him— believe he would die both young and stupidly. Yet, all he worried about was becoming a regular customer in every bar and every shop in every gay district in the country. Not like there were many, he just didn't have that much free time. He still had a couple years to fulfill that wish, Taemin thought it was in single digits by now. "If it were for him, he'd say he's dead already."
Jongin cracks up at that, following the other, and seemingly recalling such an experience. "We'll have to ask him that, then."
"For sure," He adds, feasting on the last wrap and leaning his head on top of the other's. "Well, as I was saying, he's just going to stay here for a week and then he's going back to his place. Just, get ready to handle him and his... insanity." A soft chuckle reverberates on his shoulder and head, making the area feel all warmer.
Jongin sits straight and makes enough wraps to finally empty the bowl of bulgolgi. Taemin feels like the other's still there, his weight a ghost on his skin, his touch lingering. Except it isn't there, and he isn't certain that he'll experience anything similar soon. He detests to find out he was right when Jongin leaves a decent amount of space between both when he sits.
"I was actually very comfortable before." Staring at Jongin, he learns that his words caused him to blush. Slightly, but a reaction is a reaction. The latter licks his lips and presses them together before, once again, leaning on Taemin's torso.
He props his arms behind his own body to take the weight and closes his eyes. Jongin's hair tickles his neck. "Yeah, me too."
The rest of the wraps disappear in no time, mostly due to Jongin's habit of shoving several of them to his mouth at a time. Taemin would've normally asked for more kimchi in his wraps, more condiments, less meat, but he couldn't bother being picky with that. "Is it your turn to do the dishes?"
"Dunno," He answers, groaning as he plops down on Taemin's lap. He stares up at him, his head near Taemin's stomach, and pouts, "What day is it today?"
"Monday or Tuesday." Unsure, he narrows his eyes and stares at the calendar on the fridge, only to find out it's few months behind. "Seems like I really should go find a job again, I could at least know the dates then."
"Hyung, you've never worked a day since I came here and it's been over a year," Jongin points out, grinning at him.
The accusation takes him by surprise, but it makes him laugh. His smile takes up so much of his face that he can see his eyelashes. He moves his hand from its place on the floor and wipes it on his jeans, then proceeding to cup Jongin's cheek and caress it. "Well." He pauses to snicker and trace the other's jawline, "I haven't felt the need to until now."
"How rich is your family again?" Jongin mocks, earning another smile.
"Shut it. We'll just wash dishes later," He adds, still smiling. "Let's just take them to the sink for now."
The younger makes an X shape with his arms and shakes his head forcefully. "Not yet." He stretches and, suddenly, wraps his arms around Taemin abdomen, his cheek against his belly button. The hug is tight, warm, all around cozy— He knows he's being dumb not to properly retaliate, but ending up on his back with Jongin on top as a result of taking his other hand off the ground isn't that good of a prospect. So he does his best to show his appreciation by allowing the dumbest grin to be on his face.
"Okay, okay, stand," He demands, a little gone because of the overwhelming sensations. "Jongin-ah." He comes to find out that the more he protests, the tighter the hug gets. It's addictive, their closeness is almost perfect. He parts the arms around him and leaves Jongin in a sitting position. "Alright, Jongin, get up. Up," The last word is whispered into the area behind his ear before kissing it. The recipient shivers and propels himself up.
Taemin focuses on clearing the table while Jongin rummages through his cabinets, looking for a presentable shirt for the older to wear. "Is this one okay?" He yells before throwing the shirt in the very general direction of the kitchen, Taemin strides —for the life of his— and grabs the cloth midway, but the momentum was a little too much and his shoulder hits the wall. "Ouch."
"Why are you saying 'ouch' when I was the one who got hurt?" Taemin counters, laughing at his reaction as he brings his entire arm to his chest.
"It sounded like it hurt." Taemin rubs the area until Jongin's hand is placed on top of his. He can't bring himself to keep rubbing, so he just stares at their hands, almost pathetically. "I hope it feels better soon."
"Yeah, thanks. Let's, uh, let's go clean the guest's room for Heechul-hyung, okay?" Taemin turns his hand and squeezes the younger's, letting go almost right away. It was still early and he had more than humored himself when it came to physical contact. The more he got, the harder it was to deny and stop it. There'd be no going back if he touched him just once more. The knowledge was there in his head as a warning, or advice, when he grabs Jongin's hand again and intertwines their fingers. "Nobody has been there in forever."
The taller man relaxes his grip on the other's hand and lets himself be dragged towards the room. "How come I never slept there?"
"You're asking me that? It was you who always fell asleep on my bed or the couch," Taemin reminds him, smiling at him, and at the same time recalling their closeness having always been present.
"Well, yes. But," Taemin raises an eyebrow at him, knowing there'll be no decent excuse he could pull out. "Ah, why am I being honest? Well, the guest room is too far away from yours."
One of the few things Taemin wasn't exactly expecting was an actual reason why. It confuses him that said reason also involved him. Clenching his teeth, he tightens his grip on Jongin. "One would assume you wouldn't want to be near hyung when we had just met."
"Yeah, but it was different." Jongin's free hand cups their linked hands. "I was alone and scared, in a completely new territory. And not just geographically. You understood me, you were caring and sweet and comfortable to be around since the beginning... How could I not, uh, you know, want to be near you at all times?" As soon as the question is spoken, the hand falls back on Jongin's side. "On top of that, I had only heard wonders about you from Heechul-hyung and his close friends. The few times I met Kibum-hyung, he spoke the sweetest things about you, bu– But you turned out to be better. I guess I'm just rambling now. I should stop, shouldn't I?"
A slight blush taints Taemin's ears and cheeks, but it's way beyond his control at this point. "I– I," He rubs his face harshly, he was much taken aback by the sincerity, "It's okay. Just... Thank you." He certainly had lots to think about later. But later was the keyword. Even if he wasn't busy, he'd find something to do to postpone it. There was no way he was risking such vulnerability in front of its very cause.
"It's all true, hyung."
That night he turned down Jongin's offer to go on a walk. It was hard to do so, he knew they were both looking forward to going together after the day's occurrences. They aren't always that clingy, that confident. And now they wouldn't be anymore.
It hurt him to know that Jongin was out there alone when he could've simply asked for the stroll to be shorter. But the excuse was genuine, he did have to clean the guest room.
The bedding was on the washing machine, the floor was swept and he had gotten rid of some of the dust in the room. Just some. Heechul had to pay for the unexpected visit somehow, and he sure as hell was going to be ordered to dust by his donsaeng to make up for it.
His light steps on the wooden floor barely made any noise when he left the room, unlike Jongin's decisive, heavy steps that tended to closely follow his own. It's funny, considering his ballet background, how his steps tend to be so loud. It was one of his quirks. One of the things about him that didn't make sense, but made him all more charming.
He hated that so many things, and lack of things, reminded him of Jongin. Taemin isn't one to settle easily after changes, but he had adapted to Jongin to perfection in no time. Something was wrong with Taemin. He might have to have a deep conversation with his hyung next week. And that's not something he would ever look forward to.
"Well, fuck." Too much alone time did this to him. That being twenty minutes. Defeated, he pulls out his phone and dials Jongin. "Jonginnie, where are you? I'll go catch up with you, Heechul-hyung can take care of the room himself."
Unnecessarily enough, Jongin hangs up and texts him a selfie at a distinct location of the park unlike a normal person would do. He's about to get distracted by the picture when he remembers how phones work, he can look at it later.
He grabs a water bottle, puts on his running shoes and apologizes to himself for not exercising regularly. God wouldn't kill him while running a flew blocks for his lack of practice, right?