turns out, despite what most happy for lucky coming of age movies would have you think, chasing your dreams isn’t easy. it’s not even always pretty, or satisfying, sometimes it doesn’t even feel right .
it’s ugly, sometimes — running nonstop towards an always shifting goal post, seemingly just out of reach is exhausting, jonghoon struggling to even stand through the monsoon that was trying to breathe and live and figure out his place in life.
the alarm clock blinked back at him, angry red. you’re not going to sleep today and you know it, it seemed to say. 5:02 in the morning, it’s too late to do anything meaningful now . so jonghoon sat up despite the weight on his shoulders, the clouds spinning around his head. he shook his head, as if that did anything to clear it, tiptoeing his way out of bed — carefully; kevin always looked far too peaceful in his sleep.
as if nothing could hurt him. which jonghoon knew was stupid, but something was always so stable about kevin, so reliable; grounding. kevin would be there as long as the stars kept shining, gentle light bringing luminosity into his days and nights. kevin deserved the sleep he could get.
breakfast. what jonghoon needed was something in his stomach. he’d feel better then . hopefully . the sun had barely begun to shine through the windows, but he opened the curtain in his dingy kitchen just a bit anyway. his feet shuffled across the floor as quietly as possible — cheap wood cried with every step, metal clattering as he went for his favorite pan, sighing despite himself as he set it on the burner. they were out of bacon again, so eggs it was — maybe some toast if jonghoon felt like it. he knew he wouldn’t.
the silence was maddening in so many ways, eggshells cracking louder than they should, yet not loud enough; they did nothing to sweep jonghoon out of his thoughts. in the milk went, and the harshest, most gentle whisk as he beat them. quiet was necessary, quiet made jonghoon antsy; bubbling beneath the surface as though any one wrong thing would cause him to shout all his excess anger to the skies, thunder clapping in his brain.
or maybe it was just another pair of footsteps, jonghoon blearily blinking as kevin turned on the light. he opened his mouth to apologize, but sleep addled his ability to speak, because nothing came out. jonghoon grit his teeth.
always, always frustration.
“ baby ,” kevin said, and jonghoon swore he hated the nickname; this morning it was a rope pulling him from the depths, tethering him safely to the ground. “what are you doing awake?” kevin’s voice was gravelly from sleep, and jonghoon squeezed his eyes shut as if to guard himself against the wave of guilt, swallowing it down.
“haha,” jonghoon tried to play it cool, but even he didn’t think he’d ever heard a more fake laugh. “just couldn’t sleep, you know how it is.” he pushed the eggs in the pan around, as if he couldn’t smell them burning already. eh, he’d eat them, who cares . jonghoon didn’t get in these moods often; still, he felt everything so very deeply , the most minor things going sour when he felt himself sinking.
kevin sidled his way next to jonghoon regardless, though, a steady hand finding its way around his waist. jonghoon couldn’t help but bury his face in the sturdy shoulder next to him, quietly taking whatever comfort he could. help me?
“you know i’m usually up early anyway.” kevin laughed, and jonghoon knew it was a lie — they moved in together almost a year ago now, and kevin hardly ever woke up before he absolutely had to. still, it calmed the thunder just a tad. the sun was rising, and jonghoon could almost think again.
i’ve got you, always.
kevin was so reliable, always, jonghoon remarked. all kevin did was turn off the burner, but it’s not like jonghoon would have remembered that. somehow, it both comforted him and reminded him of his own incompetence. stupid, dramatic, pathetic. eyes squeezed shut when kevin’s other hand stroked messy hair gently, jonghoon breathing deeply, holding on, trying not to spiral.
like all of his emotions — strong, fleeting, consuming, trivial — this would be over so shortly, so why the fuck couldn’t he handle it? jonghoon felt kevin take his head into his hands; so gentle despite the roughness of his fingertips, as if jonghoon was fragile . jonghoon was never so thankful for something despite the implications, focusing on the soft warmth from the other, the barely-there stroking of his fingertips.
slowly, gradually, jonghoon opened his eyes. he almost regretted it, but not really. held in place like this, there was no avoiding the look in kevin’s eyes; jonghoon doesn’t know if he’s ever seen so much concern in his lover’s eyes, and it almost made jonghoon blush with the intimacy despite the gloom hanging in his chest. kevin stroked a hand through jonghoon’s hair again, pushing messy bangs out of his face, white eyelashes downcast.
he shouldn’t have dragged kevin of all people into this as well, leaning into him despite the remorse. surprisingly soft lips grazed his forehead, and then his nose, and finally, for a moment, met jonghoon’s much more rough ones. they’d shared kisses many, many times before, but this morning something felt more . more intense, far too full of tenderness for a fleeting few seconds.
you’ll be safe, i promise, kevin seemed to be telling him.
“do you want to talk about it?” kevin said, and that might have been one of jonghoon’s favorite things about the older. he was never forceful with him, ever, but he was always open in ways jonghoon hardly was — at least when they first met.
words pressed against jonghoon’s sealed lips in a jumble. mixed up, a whirlwind of finals and looming deadlines and aging and graduation and the band’s success and this and that and so much more it felt like. most of jonghoon knew this was stupid, knew that things were going to work out in some way or another, but anxiety and stress had a mean tendency of corrupting what you know with what you feel.
“nothing to talk about, really.” jonghoon said, sounding more defeated than he meant, but at least he was being honest. kevin didn’t seem very pleased with the answer, lips pressed into a thin line, but after a moment of uncomfortable, deafening silence, kevin smiled; it stopped jonghoon in his tracks.
“perhaps a distraction, then?” lithe fingers took jonghoon’s hand in his, the other one graceful but sturdy against the small of his back. a soft gasp fell from jonghoon’s mouth, a quiet oh! sunlight was finally starting to stream through their blinds, kevin giving his shorter boyfriend a little spin so that he could see a little better.
there was no rhythm to properly step to, but jonghoon followed kevin anyway — same as always, same as ever. kevin began to sing; soft enough to keep the peace, to settle jonghoon’s jolting nerves, but persistent enough to push through the clouds. jonghoon closed his eyes, feet stepping to kevin’s rhythm, to the syncopation of their heartbeats. like this, head practically resting against kevin’s chest, he swore he could hear it.
the weather cleared, the storm going to a drizzle, to the slightest pitter-patter. if jonghoon wanted to open his eyes, he thought he might see a rainbow; he didn’t, though, already warmer on the inside. kevin’s light enveloped him, and not for the first time he found himself so grateful for everything that kevin was for him. sometimes jonghoon felt as though he didn’t deserve it; jagged where kevin was smooth, impulsive where kevin was careful, emotional where kevin was grounding. usually, like now, jonghoon was just happy that opposites attract.
“thank you,” jonghoon said, and kevin may have missed it if he didn’t revolve around everything jonghoon was. finally looking up at him again, he pulled just a tad off of kevin’s chest. the smile kevin gave to him was blinding as the stars in the night sky — finally, jonghoon returned it, laughing like bells in the wind as kevin dipped him. kevin paused his sweet serenade, rubbing his nose against jonghoon’s. kevin’s love language was shockingly physical, but jonghoon could never complain about that either.
“for what? was i supposed to let you just suffer in your own head?” a kiss, then jonghoon wrapping his arms around kevin’s neck. they still swayed slightly, and kevin still had morning breath — jonghoon’s nose twitched just slightly — but it felt like something out of those movies kevin always wanted to watch with him. “when i could have my smiling dove with me instead?”
a hand, gently hitting kevin’s chest. “cheesy asshole.” jonghoon said, but his cheeks were a rosy pink, and he was smiling; before kevin could process it jonghoon was on his toes to give him a kiss. jonghoon was never the best with words, could never put his thoughts into ways others could see, so he hoped this would be enough — thank you for your patience, i love you to the moon and back, there was nothing luckier than that first night we spent together .
again, one of kevin’s hands was holding his cheek gently, holding jonghoon in place as if jonghoon could ever think about leaving. he smiled at the touch, about to laugh at the very implication, but really all he wanted was to kiss kevin oh until their heads were swimming, pulling away just enough to feel puffs of air against his face, little giggles filling the space in between.
all good things must come to an end, though, and jonghoon’s hand remained in kevin’s hair even as they pulled away.
“you need to brush your teeth.”
“jonghoon, it’s 6 am. you do too.” kevin had only rolled his eyes playfully, laughing at the dissonance between jonghoon’s words and his actions; jonghoon was still inches away, glued to his side.
“yeah, but you really do.” a nudge, the subtle glow of adoration in jonghoon’s eyes replaced by their usual energetic twinkles. kevin sighed, ruffling jonghoon’s hair in exasperation. they were quiet for a couple moments, and it was a nice kind of quiet — much more refreshing than the deafening silence of earlier that morning.
“only if you make me pancakes, babe.”
“you’re lucky i love you.”