Once the music stopped, Taemin struck a finishing pose; both Key and Minho erupted in applause; as Taemin caught his breath he couldn’t help a little smirk. You’re putting it on just a little, aren’t you guys? He decided to humor them, and he bowed cheesily. Minho tossed him a towel to wipe the sweat from his brow. “That was so great, Taeminnie,” he grinned. “Watching you practice makes me so happy!” Minho wrapped a supportive arm around the maknae’s neck. Key nodded along, sipping a mango juice box and tugging gently on Minho’s shirt. He offered the rest to Taemin, who took it happily.
“Our maknae is so talented,” Key smiled brightly. “Where should we go for dinner?” he looked out the window at the waning daylight. “Taeminnie should choose, since he worked so hard.”
They all sat against the wall of the dance studio and helped Taemin pack his workout bag. Taemin hummed thoughtfully for a moment before finally deciding, “I feel like pizza,” he said at last, his voice Solomon-like in its surety.
“Pizza?” Minho and Key parroted back in unison. “That’s not like you,” Key scrunched his nose. “You hardly ever want to eat Western food,” he shook his head from side to side. “But if that’s what you want, then let’s go!” Key stood first, pulling up Taemin up from the floor. He pulled Minho up next and as the older boy steadied himself, Key surprised him with a kiss. “Let’s go,” Key smiled brightly.
Taemin’s eyes softened at the scene, but something tugged at his heart. He wondered if he would be able to see the moon through the cloudy sky later that night.
Dinner together with his brothers always made his heart full; but tonight, Taemin felt an overwhelming loneliness. Jinki had gone to the army five months prior, and he was only able to call or write sporadically. To ask any more of him would be seen as demanding special treatment, and that wouldn’t be well received by their fans or his superior officers. So, Taemin had grown used to – but still unsatisfied by – the rare contact he had with his beloved leader. In the quiet of his own apartment at last, he allowed himself a moment of weakness and cried quietly. Of course, it wasn’t only Jinki’s absence he was feeling; he walked over to his bedroom window and drew the curtain back, eyes searching for the familiar glow of the moon. “Hey, Jonghyunnie-hyung,” he whispered, drying his tears carelessly with the back of his hand. “Are you glad the weather is getting warmer?” he didn’t wait for an answer, but instead kept talking, eyes fixed on the glowing full moon. “It must be cold up there. It’s been a cold winter this year, again… but finally, spring has come. Has spring come for you, too?” he clutched the curtains in his fist, holding on to the fabric as if steadying himself. He managed a smile. “I miss you,” he said at last, nodding to himself. “I’m going to miss you forever, aren’t I?”
The moon did not reply.
Taemin tossed and turned in bed. Looking over at his phone, dangerously perched on the edge of his bedside table, he noted the time; 2.36am. Sighing, he rolled out of bed and went to the kitchen for a drink. His bare feet on the cool lacquered wood floor made a satisfying tch sound as he walked through the still apartment. He gulped down a tall glass of ice-cold water and closed his eyes against the bright moonlight. Somehow, the cool brightness made him feel warm; he gently set down his glass on the counter and sighed again.
Something in him told Taemin he would not get back to sleep easily; so, defeated by his own wakefulness, he took his laptop from its place on the kitchen table and flung himself theatrically onto his expansive couch. “Maybe I should organize my music,” he said aloud, voice raspy from sleep. His music library was notorious among the members for being so disorganized; artist’s names misspelled, sloppily-ripped YouTube files, countless doubles. He heard Jonghyun’s cheery voice in his head, a line he’d often repeated to the younger man. It’s like a bad joke! An idol singer who doesn’t know how to store music properly! You’ll damage our image if the fans ever found out! Won’t you fix it, at least for me? It’s painful! the memory made Taemin smile. “Alright, alright,” he replied to the thin air. “I’ll clean it up, once and for all.” He glanced at the moon from the corner of his eye. “For you, I’ll do it.”
Taemin methodically began the process of spell-checking and deleting; the activity almost soporific. He yawned comically loud, the noise splitting the night. By the time he got to the G’s, he was ready to stop – but a familiar name caught his eye. “Camui Gakuto… how long has it been since I listened to you ?” he asked his computer aloud. Pressing play, the well-loved and memorable notes of an old favorite song made him smile instantly, and he began to sing along, the lyrics comforting on his tongue.
The joy from the bottom of my heart at our sudden encounter says,
“Maybe it will end before I know it…”
Those feelings scare me
And then I gazed into your eyes
Without understanding anything
They’re not changing for good, so how many illusions,
Like memories and dreams, could you lock up
Even then I gazed at your eyes
Without changing anything
If I hold out my hand, that distant smile is fleeting
If I close my eyes, I want to hold
The vanishing you within my arms once more
Because I can’t forget that time and that place we met…
How could I have ever forgotten this song? He wondered.It was one of my favorites, once.Suddenly re-enamored, he decided to watch a few live performances. He was instantly taken back to his trainee days, making up his own dance choreography to favorite songs. Taemin smiled as he clicked through the various performance videos, and was blessed with a beloved memory.
“Hyung, you’ve got to listen to this!” Taemin threw his arms around Jonghyun’s neck and carefully put an earphone into his ear. “His voice is so pretty!” Jonghyun held tightly to his maknae’s arms around him and leaned into the younger boy’s embrace. His grin widened as he listened to the music in his ear.
“Who’s this?” he wondered aloud. “Japanese?” he realized, and began to bob his head to the beat. “What a voice!” his eyes sparkled. Taemin bounced around the older boy, happy to have surprised him.
“And look, he’s so handsome,” Taemin pulled Jonghyun toward the computer and searched through photos. “He’s a really, really big star, hyung.” Jonghyun scrolled through the gallery of photos, his free hand lacing fingers with Taemin. “Do you think we’ll ever be famous like him?”
Jonghyun smiled and kissed Taemin’s cheek. “Of course we will, Taeminnie,” he grinned against the young boy’s soft skin. “We’re going to be famous.”
Taemin leaned back on the couch, the memory as fresh in his mind as if it had just happened; but that fragment was over ten years old, now, and so many things had changed. He continued to organize his music library, Gackt’s deep, honey voice filling the apartment. After a time, Taemin thought he had an idea; he reached for his phone, about to text Jinki for some advice. Just as he opened his messages, though, he remembered that Jinki would not be able to answer. Remembering that left a bitter taste in his mouth. I’m so lonely without the both of you.
Setting his phone down, he sighed again. “I wonder if he would even be willing to try it,” Taemin wondered aloud. He lolled his head back against the smooth leather of the couch, and softly sang along to another of Gackt’s songs. He really does have a beautiful voice. It’s like yours, Jinki-hyung.