Jinyoung knew love. He had seen it's face, like the face of a friend who you haven't seen in years but can never forget. He had seen it's true colors illuminated across walls that had seen too much, but kept the secrets quiet.
Jinyoung had been in love.
He had been so deeply in love to the point where he was drowning but wasn't even aware of it, teaching himself to breathe bubbles instead of oxygen for the sake of keeping love alive. He was dying and didn't know, didn't care, as long as the sweet thrill of love lived on. He remembered everything. The way it felt to have life living within your heart, life beyond yourself. What it felt like to have a piece of someone else's heart, not only their body, but heart, being merged and melded into your own to become one. It hurt more than not, but the gentle caress of a hand could soothe it long enough to cover the reality of pain.
He remembered long days that went on for what felt like weeks, days where the stress came down on shoulders like bricks and weighed him down until he was on his knees. Sweat pouring down his skin like a warm shower, and when water poured down him from the shower head it felt like cool rain-- skin being warmed when the curtain would be pulled back to invite another body in. He remembered sleepless nights in bunks that rattled with each hit of a pothole in the pavement, and the nights where sleep didn't come easy in hotel rooms of a city he forgot the name of.
But he remembered Jaebum in each of those memories. He was always there.
In the shower, on the bus in the bunk underneath his, in hotel rooms they shared. Jinyoung remembered Jaebum when he was on his knees, looking up to see him. He was there when sweat dripped down his back, under bed sheets, on stage, running in the rain to get back on the bus after eating dinner at some shitty rest stop far too late at night. When he was tired, broken down, stressed, barely able to keep his eyes open-- Jaebum was there.
Jaebum's face was the face of love. Jaebum's voice was the sound of love. His touch was the feeling of love. And he remembered every second, every sound, every inch of it.
He saw the memory of it flash across his eyes every day, because he saw Jaebum every day. He saw the love that once lived each time he glanced at the other, seeing a ghost trailing right behind him. It startled him now and then, when he'd look up at Jaebum sitting there, right there, and see that flicker of the past flash right by him so fucking fast that it took his breath away.
Jaebum didn't love Jinyoung anymore. For all he knew, Jaebum never even loved him. But that would never change the fact that Jaebum was love to Jinyoung-- embodied it. He didn't want to think that way, wanted to forget, but how can you forget when all you can do is remember? He remembered the look in Jaebum's eyes when he'd look at Jinyoung-- on stage when Jinyoung sang his heart out while looking at his shoes, and he'd glance up to see Jaebum smiling, looking so proud. The look he got from him in the shower, eyes holding heavy bags that were still filled to the brim and dripping with fondness and love. And damn it if it wasn't ever love, call his whole life a lie and call him crazy, but it was the closest thing to love Jinyoung had ever seen. It glowed at him even brighter under sheets when they got a night away, tucked under cold hotel blankets that weren't soft at all but didn't matter. When their skin brushed against skin, every inch touched and not forgotten. How could that look that was burned into his brain be anything but love?
Maybe he was remembering wrong, he didn't know. He didn't know how Jaebum was so good at acting like none of it was real as he sat across from him on the bus. The same bus where it all began.
Jinyoung was sat at his usual spot, at the small table in the kitchen area with his legs pulled up and crossed, pen in hand that hovered over an empty sheet of paper. It was cold in the bus, it usually was, they liked keeping it cold because it was much easier to deal with. Throw on some layers, a hoodie like Jinyoung wore with sweats and heavy socks. He pulled his toes together and released, feeling if they were still there through the numbness. He glanced up for the first time in hours, looking at his surroundings. Mark had excused himself to bed about a half hour ago, Bambam and Yugyeom in the back lounge watching some B rated horror movie probably passed out, and Jaebum sat on the floor with his phone in hand. He didn't know where everyone else was, didn't even think twice about it.
Jinyoung hadn't been aware of how long they had been sitting in the same room together, but now that he was he couldn't focus on anything but that. He watched with heavy eyelids as Jaebum's thumbs worked quickly on the screen, somehow still finding enough stamina to lift his thumbs while Jinyoung could barely keep hold of the pen. He always had such strong concentration on his phone, and Jinyoung fucking hated it. Whenever he got sucked into his screen everyone knew to leave him alone like some silent contract they all signed saying 'no one is to speak to Jaebum when he's concentrating.' Jinyoung doesn't remember signing it and wouldn't have if asked.
It was always another excuse to not talk. While Jinyoung was left to remember everything, Jaebum let his phone, shitty TV shows, alcohol, cigarettes, loud music fill his brain to keep the memories out. Jinyoung squeezed the pen before setting it down. He didn't know how much longer he could go on this way. Neither of them had spoken in weeks and it was taking a toll on everyone-- except Jaebum, it seemed. The fans were starting to notice, too, while they blatantly ignored each other on stage and no longer even bothered to acknowledge that the other existed.
Now it was quiet, distant, and grey where color once shined.
Jinyoung blinked his eyes open before they fell shut for good for the night, and, before they fell into a fit of pins and needles, uncrossed his legs with a stretch. He exhaled and faintly wondered if he could see his own breath.
"'S cold in here." He spoke softly into the quiet air, scared to speak too loudly and startle the other and himself. His own voice sounded foreign to his ears. He hadn't said more than fifteen words all day, he was getting used to that. Jaebum didn't budge, making him wonder if he heard him at all.
Jinyoung stared at the back of the others head for a long time after that, not knowing what to say. That's the first word he's gotten out of him, aside from when he had to talk to him before shows while the group talked during sound check. Now, alone, it was different.
"Remember when," Jinyoung started, voice probably too low even in the silent room, "remember when we used to keep the bus hot when we first got it? When we were scared to use the air conditioner because we were scared of going poor?"
More silence. It made him self conscious, wondering if he had said the words out loud or not, or if he had whispered it. But again, Jaebum replied, "yeah, we were stupid."
Jinyoung slid the pen and paper away from him while stretching his arms, "yeah."
His fingers tapped a song that he didn't know the name of onto the table and looked away from the holes he was burning into the back of Jaebum's head. Jinyoung wondered if Jaebum thought everything they had done in the past was stupid.
"Remember when we didn't even have the bus yet?" Jinyoung kept going, trying for more.
Jaebum's fingers were moving slower. "That sucked, I'd rather not remember that."
A string in Jinyoung's heart was plucked. "You can't pick and choose what your memories are."
"You can try."
A string in Jinyoung's heart was wearing thin. But he kept strumming it for more, more noise, more words from the other's mouth.
"Remember," he swallowed thickly, "remember when me and you would share a bunk when we finally started using the air conditioner because we overdid it? When it would get so cold in here that we swore our toes would fall off?"
Jaebum didn't reply to that, his fingers freezing over the screen. Jinyoung couldn't stop, his heart pounding, hands shaking, eyes becoming unclear. "'Member when we'd share a bunk every night after that? And we'd share hotel rooms, too? And clothes and beds and showers? When we'd do everything together? Share secrets and, and shit-- " he wiped his eyes with his sleeves when the realization that his mouth was still running and his eyes were running like a leaky faucet with tears.
Jaebum had set the phone down on the couch next to him, staring at the screen that was now black. Jinyoung heard his own breathing loud in the room for the first time, his gasps for air when his chest stuttered from the tears. He hadn't realized he had started crying that hard, or that Jaebum turned off the thing he was so fucking invested in that Jinyoung wanted to smash into a million pieces across the floor. But Jaebum still wouldn't look at him. Maybe because he knew he was the reason for his tears.
"Don't you remember anything?" He asked, emotion coming through in the form of hurt and disbelief. He could make out the sight of Jaebum shaking his head slowly side to side, shoulders slumped and unmoving.
"No," he began, "I don't remember."
The string in Jinyoung's heart snapped.
"You're lying," the tears hit the table, "you're fucking lying."
Jaebum wouldn't turn around, he just sat there on the floor, back turned to Jinyoung like it always was, shutting him out like he always did. Jinyoung clenched his fists to stop himself from taking the pen and paper and throwing it at the back of his head, instead letting a sob escape his lips. He had held it in for too long.
"Fuck you, how can you just sit there and not even look at me for so long after everything? You remember, you do." His voice raised and he couldn't help it, shaky and loud probably echoing throughout the whole bus.
That's the only time Jaebum moved to stand up and turn in his direction, "you're gonna' wake up the whole damn bus."
Another string broke and snapped against his lungs, making him gasp at the words. "How can you not care about any of it? You do remember, you're a fucking liar-- "
Jaebum stepped back when Jinyoung stood, only to reach forward when Jinyoung stumbled from his legs being numb for sitting so long. He pushed Jaebum's hands away, wiping his eyes. He didn't want to feel his touch. "You can't look at me right now and tell me the only thing you care about is me waking everyone up. There's no way that you can look at me like this," he gestured to himself looking broken and tired, "and tell me you're not sorry."
"I never said I wasn't sorry, Jinyoung." His voice was low and Jinyoung couldn't decipher the way he said it, if it meant he was sorry for pushing him away, or if he was sorry any of it ever happened in the first place.
Jinyoung ran a hand through his tangled hair and let his eyes drop to the floor, "sorry won't ever change anything. You hurt me, and that'll never change."
He began to walk to the bunks when Jaebum suddenly stopped him with a hand on his arm, tugging him to turn around. Those words must have hit something. "Hurt you? Because I realized that what we were doing wasn't good for anyone? That what we were doing was going to split the group apart and ruin our lives?"
Jinyoung let his mouth fall open, eyebrows pulled together tightly. "What we were doing? Jaebum, I loved you. I wasn't just doing anything. Is that all we were to you is fucking?"
Jinyoung swore he saw a tear in Jaebum's eye but chose to ignore it. "If I have to lie and say yes to give you some closure, then fine."
Jinyoung felt his face twist up in pain from the way his insides twisted at the words being shot at him like bullets. The tears had never stopped, but now they rained down like heavy drops over a funeral. He didn't think twice when he unclenched his fists and pushed Jaebum's chest hard, enough to get him to stumble back. "I don't need your lies, fucking asshole. You love me, you loved me and you do now and you're a fucking coward."
His voice was far too loud now and he flinched at himself, knowing someone was bound to get up and intervene. Jaebum turned away from him now, and part of him wanted to turn him around and yell it right in his face but it was too late. A hand found its way to Jinyoung's shoulder, Mark's voice breaking into the room.
"What the hell's going on?"
Jaebum still didn't move, only his head shaking in response.
"How much longer until we get to the hotel?" Jinyoung couldn't look at Jaebum any longer, turning to Mark and blocking out everything.
"About half an hour," he spoke cautiously, a wary tone, "you can share a room with me, Jinyoung."
He said the last part quieter, but Jinyoung wanted the other to hear the conversation. "No, I'll room with Jaebum."
Mark looked between the two in pure confusion, "I don't know what's going on but you guys better work it out. If I hear any yelling from your hotel room you're gonna' be split apart and we're all going to have a talk."
Jinyoung looked back over his shoulder at Jaebum who was now walking past them to the bunks. Jinyoung glanced at Mark who was completely and utterly lost.
Jinyoung hated who he was on the bus. Because that version of him-- ugly, crying, loud, angry Jinyoung-- got him into this situation. The situation being him stood in the doorway of his and Jaebum's hotel room, while the other made his way to one of the beds to claim as his own. He couldn't get himself to step inside, or outside. He just floated in the doorway, feeling his back touch the hard, closed door.
He was watching flashbacks in the form of real life, seeing Jaebum in the way he used to while also seeing a different version of him in his head. He pictured him there, by the bed, smiling up at him with a quirky comment slipping off of his tongue to get him to laugh. He could hear it ring off the silent walls in his head. His eyes were met with harsh movements, bag thrown on the floor, hands scavenging through contents to pull out something else to change into after a shower.
He didn't know if he could handle this. Not with the tears that he felt boiling up again within himself. He felt that feeling you get before you know you're going to cry, when you can't hold it in any longer and it feels like you might scream. Like a cork trying to keep a bottle of vinegar and baking soda at bay after being shaken for hours. He took a step forward, because if he stood there any longer he might've exploded.
The hotel room even looked familiar, even though there was no way they had been there in that exact one before. He didn't know where they were at all, let alone what number room they were or had stayed in before. But he guessed all hotels looked similar, with their bland walls, stark white sheets, and basic layout. Two beds, a small table between them, and a bathroom across from them. Jaebum headed to the bathroom, already lifting his shirt over his head. Jinyoung forced himself to look away. He sat heavily onto the bed.
He listened to the sound of the shower as it came to life, and even though he knew it was fucking stupid to think about and it would never happen again, he thought of Jaebum popping his head around the door, hair a mess, shoulders bare, asking him to join him. His eyes traveled up to the closed door. It stayed closed. He tried to close off his memories but they had a mind of their own, always have. Piles of clothes on cold linoleum, bare feet on slippery porcelain, legs brushing, arms tangling, droplets of water merging, hands on skin, in hair, cheap hotel shampoo, soap in eyes, in mouths, and soft towels.
Jinyoung fell backwards, laying with eyes cast up towards the ceiling. It was hard to forget when he could hear, see, smell his memories. Not too long later the bathroom door opened, letting out a puff of steam like smoke from the end of a cigarette. Jaebum stepped out with a towel low on his waist, hair hanging over his forehead in strands. He didn't want to look, he knew it was a death wish to even send a glance in the direction of the other but it was inevitable. His eyes traveled down the walls that were pale beige like sand, and were met with Jaebum. Jaebum, all of him, all of his pale skin, his thin legs, arms, waist, the curve of his spine, the dip at the small of his back. He pulled up a pair of black boxers and threw the towel onto a chair across the room.
"The bathrooms open," Jaebum tried to pull him back into reality, "don't fall asleep like that, you'll get cold." Why would you care?
Jinyoung sat up, unmoving. He just watched the other. Couldn't help it. It was late, too late to bother getting a shower, too late to be awake.
"You don't have to lie. You don't have to lie anywhere, but especially not here." Jinyoung's voice was tired.
Jaebum didn't shake his head in disagreement, nor did he scoff. He looked up, their eyes met. "What do you want to hear from me, Jinyoung. You know how I feel, why do I need to say it." It was barely a question.
"Because I wanna' hear it," he shrugged, "I want to hear you say you still think of me, care about me, love me, want me--"
"I want you." Jaebum's voice sounded clear, but Jinyoung felt like he was hearing it through two plastic cups connected by string. He almost asked to have his words repeated.
"You have me, well, had. You let me go."
"I want you back." Jaebum walked around the bed he claimed and stood in front of Jinyoung, the closest they've been since earlier when Jinyoung had pushed him away. He knew this was only another death wish, that this, whatever came of this, would bite him in the ass later. Because Jaebum wanted him for the night, that's all, he wanted to relive what he once had for one more night because he could, because he knew Jinyoung was desperate and willing, laying there on a bed waiting for Jaebum to love him again. And Jaebum wasn't fucking stupid, he was going to take that opportunity. Jinyoung wouldn't say no.
They stared deeply at each other, like they hadn't seen each other in years-- they looked like strangers. Jaebum leaned in quickly, their lips meeting too harshly, but neither complained. Jaebum was moving feverishly, as if he had been waiting for this since it ended, and Jinyoung was moving that way because he wanted Jaebum to love him again. He laid back, pulling Jaebum on top of him by fingers digging into bare, damp shoulders. Their mouths never parted, lips brushing lips and tongues tangled in a mess that only got tied into more knots. Jaebum took control, like he always did, he liked to feel in charge of every situation. In bed, on stage, in relationships where he called the shots and called it off and called it whatever the fuck he wanted. Jinyoung was putty in his hands, was falling apart at the seams that Jaebum picked at until he was digging his fingers into Jaebum's back, spilling sounds into his mouth, moving against him. Jaebum took his time no matter how restless the other got.
Jaebum's lips moved to Jinyoung's neck, and if he had any sanity left within him he would've stopped him when he felt bites being left on exposed skin, sucking hard. He didn't want to have to face the marks in the morning, didn't want anyone to see. He didn't say a word of it, though, as he continued his way lower until he couldn't anymore. He tugged at the hem of his shirt, to which Jinyoung let him take it off. He let him take it all off, let him push him up the bed until his head was pressing back against plush pillows, fingers fluctuating between crisp white sheets and digging nails into the skin of Jaebum's shoulders, to tugging at his hair. Let him have his way with him, however he wanted him, wherever. His fingers scrambled for purchase, body overwhelmed, mind foggy like the mirror in the bathroom after a hot shower. All he could think was Jaebum; his lips dragging languidly across his neck, hips moving slowly, lazily, taking his time, his hands grabbing his hips too hard.
He tried to take himself back into his memories, something that was always far too easy to do now seemingly impossible. He thought having Jaebum this way again, on him, in him, around him, would feel like old times, like a breath of fresh air after holding his breath for so long-- but it felt like drowning. He held onto him like he would fall if he let go, arms wrapped around him, pulling their heaving chests flush, burying his face into the crook of the others neck to hide there. He couldn't hide, not while so bare for the others eyes, but he could close his eyes and pretend. He could pretend to be in love again and to be loved, he could pretend that Jaebum was making love to him like he used to, whispering in his ear. He could pretend that he didn't start to feel tears dripping from his eyes that rolled down the others skin along with his sweat. The shower he got was pointless at this point, he wondered if Jaebum would ask him to join him in the shower after this. Or if he would get up and leave, go smoke and never come back.
The thoughts overwhelmed him. He held on tighter and cried into his neck, hoping that the sound mixed with his moans well enough to go unnoticed. Jaebum loosened his grip on his hips and caressed a hand over his skin, the other moving to his hair to sift his fingers through. It was supposed to be soothing, and it was. It didn't make it not hurt, though. Jaebum picked up his pace, seeing that neither was willing enough to stop, but things were falling apart and needed to come to an end. The gentle hand in his hair tugged at the strands, pulling him from his hiding at the side of Jaebum's neck, lips connecting in a kiss of false love. Jinyoung tried his best to kiss back, but his lips mostly stayed open around cries that came from too many places within him to decipher. Jaebum kissed his lips, around his mouth, biting down on his jaw as he thrust a final time. Jinyoung breathed heavily through still parted lips, thanking god that he finished as well. He didn't want to have to deal with anything more, didn't want to bother Jaebum to have to touch him more than he has. He could tell Jaebum didn't want to, either.
He didn't hide the cringe on his face as Jaebum pulled out. He didn't watch as he got up, tying the condom and throwing in the trash next to the bed to be forgotten. He just lay there, aware at how bare he was but unable to care to cover up. Jaebum had seen him too many times to care, even if he felt like a stranger. He felt all movement in the room stop.
"You wanna' shower?" Jaebum's voice was deep and tired. Usually, he'd smoke a cigarette after sex, but he knew better than to light one while on the third floor of a nice hotel.
"No," his voice was shaky, "I'm too tired. 'Will in the morning."
He felt Jaebum staring at him. He could picture him nodding, silently debating which bed to get into. The light flickered off and Jinyoung felt a dip in the bed, his body gently being moved and placed under slightly scratchy sheets. His body felt too sensitive to everything, his mind and heart too vulnerable. Arms wrapped around him, chest to his back, eyelashes closing against the nape of his neck. As he stared into the dark room, eyelids falling closed, he knew this was the last time Jaebum would ever hold him. This was a memory he would look back on, he was living it. He let himself fall asleep in Jaebum's arms one last time, pretending everything was like it used to be.