"Jackson is back."
That's the first sentence Jaebum heard spoken to him all day.
He looked up to see Mark walking away from where he had stuck his head in the doorway, leaving an empty, open space in his absence. Jaebum was sat on his bed, laptop on his lap that was clad in sweatpants he hadn't changed out of in two days, same as his black hoodie with the hood up and stings pulled to fit around his face. He stared at the open door for a moment before closing the laptop and setting it aside. His eyes burned at the lack of brightness, blinking away the LED lights that remain there.
Jackson was back.
He got up and stretched, back popping and legs feeling like jelly as they tried to hold him up and walk him from his cave, investigating the situation. He wasn't expecting much, maybe to see Mark, his roommate, in the kitchen with Jackson there, maybe Jinyoung too like old times. He felt a faint memory burn in his chest that he scratched away, rounding the corner to see empty rooms. No voices rang in the halls like he remembered from a distant life-- just silence and the sound of someone by the front door. Jaebum walked to see Mark bending down to tie his shoes before straightening up at the presence of Jaebum.
"Where are you going?" Jaebum loosened the strings of his hoodie to let his head free from the warm restraint. It was too warm, leaving him feeling like he was coming down with a fever. Mark ran fingers through his own hair to fix it, looking in the reflection of his phone at his appearance. He looked up at Jaebum like he was stupid.
"To see Jackson, don't you remember? We're having a party for him down at Lucky's."
Jaebum hadn't remembered. He left a lot of memories of the younger man out of his mind a while ago, throwing it out his head like luggage that was too heavy for the load. It weighed him down. "No, guess I forgot."
Mark let his eyes burn into his roommate, looking disappointed. Jaebum was used to that look, but couldn't get used to the way it still made him feel dirty. "He'd be happy to see you, Jaebum. You should really think about coming down."
Jaebum couldn't believe that. But he agreed to make the situation proceed, to make Mark leave and go have fun without him. "I'll see what I can do."
Mark rolled his eyes and sighed, turning to the door, "you'd think after everything you two have done, the least you could do is go down to say hello."
He left Jaebum standing in the dark hallway. He took off his hoodie and went to the bathroom to turn the shower on.
Jaebum felt his heart pounding in his throat as he walked down the familiar street, the streetlights glowing in warm tints that made his head feel fuzzy. He couldn't believe himself, after three days of not leaving his room, and months of that kind of behavior-- there he was, walking down that road. That damn road that led to that damn place that Jaebum hadn't gone to since that night. That night right before Jackson had left the last time.
The feeling of seeing it come into view for the first time in a year made Jaebum swallow hard on nothing, just dry, empty feelings that arose in his mouth. His tongue felt too dry-- maybe he could use a drink. He used that thought to push him closer, to push him into the doorway filled with too many bodies, people laughing and drinking and smoking outside on the curb. Jaebum always hated how small the joint was, pushing his way through like a square peg into a hole. He should've taken a deep breath before he stepped foot in, because the space offered no air.
His breath completely left his body when he finally saw them-- his friends sat around the table in the corner like old times. There was Mark, Jinyoung, Yugyeom and Bambam walking to the dance floor, Youngjae laughing which could be heard from a mile away-- and then there was Jackson. And all Jaebum could see was Jackson. He was sat there, in the same spot he had sat a year ago, almost like he never left, like time hadn't passed or a single beat of his heart had pounded in his chest. Jaebum felt sick, memories flooding in his skull like a dam break, feeling excitement and light on his feet like he felt the first time, but heavy and overwhelmed like the last.
He found himself moving only when a voice had said 'excuse me' just behind him, to which he stepped forward. Heads turned to see him, and that was all it took. There was no turning back.
Mark saw him and offered a smile that looked proud, and while Jaebum wanted to feel special for that, he couldn't. Jinyoung waved him over, Youngjae looking up with those bright eyes, hand pulling him in from afar. Time slowed as he waited for Jackson to turn around, trying to prepare for those eyes, but he knew he was done for. There was no preparing for Jackson Wang's stare, he held too much power in those big brown eyes. Which is why when he turned in his seat to catch glimpse at Jaebum, those eyes meeting his, he felt his entire body alight in a burning flame. He needed a drink, he needed air-- he was being pulled to the table by Yugyeom and Bambam.
"Look who the cat dragged in!" Bambam yelled, laughing with the others as they pulled a chair out for him. It was a few seats away from Jackson, but still close.
"More like look who I dragged away from his cats." Mark poked fun, handing him a beer that he popped open. He took it with thanks as he lifted it to his lips with an all too noticeably shaky hand. He felt eyes on him, but didn't look up to see who they belonged to. Thankfully, no one noticed how unsteady he was, and Yugyeom and Bam made their way back to the dance floor-- Mark, Jinyoung, and Youngjae all sitting around the table with him. Jinyoung took the seat between him and Jackson, to which he was beyond grateful for.
Things felt okay, almost like normal. Normal as in how it used to be. This wasn't in their vocabulary for normal these days, it had outdated itself after Jackson left. But now, looking at his friends around him in the familiar space of the club, things felt okay. That is, until the night proceeded, more drinks were emptied past lips, and self consciousness was left at the door.
Most of the guys were drinking at the bar, taking shots and getting cheered on, or dancing like fools amongst the crowded floor. Jaebum found himself in a spot he had used to find himself, alone at the table nursing another beer. He watched as if he wasn't really there at all, trying to live in the moment and take it all in.
He let his mind slip to a memory he thought he had killed; the one of Jackson seeing him sat at the table in the corner alone, going up to him with that damn smile, those beautiful eyes that were coated in honey, voice like sugar as he asked him to dance. It had been a calm night, much different than the one they found themselves in now, and the dance floor had been nearly empty.
Jaebum remembered the way he took the younger mans hand that was so soft, so warm, and let himself be pulled to the floor. He remembered the way he felt embarrassed in front of people who sat at tables with their friends, but let that go when he saw Jackson, how he exuded confidence and didn't give a single damn about anyone else in that room besides Jaebum. He let himself remember how he danced with a smile so big on his face, how he pressed close to Jackson, how stupid they looked and how they didn't care.
He was pulled out of that world when a body stood blocking his view. He looked up to see Jackson.
He swallowed hard, finally taking in the other. He looked grown, much older than he had once looked even if it was only a year in the past. His hair was styled neatly, unlike how he used to wear it hanging over his forehead. His face was chiselled yet still so soft-- he was absolutely a very handsome man. He wore a black shirt with black pants, something that stayed true to him, yet Jaebum taking note of the diamond necklace that now hung around his neck. It looked heavy and shone in the dull lighting. Even with these differences, he looked just like Jackson.
"Come with me?" He heard him speak over the noise. He said it too softly for the atmosphere, but Jaebum heard. He nodded, setting his drink down to follow. Jackson didn't lead him to the dance floor, but to the back exit where not many people crowded at.
The night air was like a bucket of ice water to the face, a wake up call, yet it didn't really work, not when Jaebum was borderline drunk. Although it did make him aware of the fact that he was with Jackson, alone.
"Hey," Jackson spoke into the night air after awhile of silence, the door had been closed to block out the chaos inside.
Jaebum spoke through an exhale, "hey."
Jackson licked his lips, eyes trailing away to anything but the older at that moment, which was a very un-Jackson thing to do. It made Jaebum want to say something else, but he failed.
"So," Jackson broke the silence instead, a long, painful pause, "a whole year."
Jaebum nodded as he shoved his hands into his pockets.
Jackson must have been drunk, Jaebum decided. Because the thing Jackson said next couldn't have been sprouted from a sober mind. But then again, this was Jackson, and the Jackson he knew was shameless. He was unafraid, didn't back down from fear or silence.
"Did you miss me?"
And what a stupid question. Jaebum wanted to laugh in his face, to tip his head back and belt out a howl of a laugh. He didn't, because in reality, it hurt. "Of course I did."
He said it like it hurt.
Jackson picked up on that tone dripping from the words, wincing at it. He looked away, at the ground, the building, the sky. Jackson Wang was at a loss of words.
"Of course I missed you, Jackson," he scoffed again, "how could you even doubt that I did?"
"You did. But you know how much this ate away at me, even if you can't accept that. This killed me, Seunie. This fucking killed me, all of it-- you leaving, you never replying to me--"
"--you disappearing from my life like you never existed. And this, me coming here tonight just to be reminded of everything."
Jackson turned away fully for awhile, and Jaebum knew it was because he was willing himself not to cry.
"You know I didn't ignore you, you know it was because they took my phone. You know that I thought about you every day, every single day. You think I didn't hurt, too?"
"It was your decision." Jaebum reminded him.
Jackson turned back to him, a flash of hurt and anger on his beautiful features. He pushed Jaebum's chest with his open palms, hard, but not with intention to hurt. "It wasn't a decision of whether to hurt you or not, you know I wouldn't choose to hurt you, to hurt myself. I did what I had to do."
Jaebum felt the flicker of flames and anger die within him, seeing Jackson's wet eyes shine under the streetlight. The warm glow didn't make him feel hot, it made him feel fuzzy with equal warmth. He reached a hand out to touch the other for the first time, just a simple brush of fingers against his jaw down to his shoulder. Just to make sure he was real.
"Remember that night," Jaebum couldn't believe the words leaving his mouth, "when you pulled me to the dance floor?"
Jackson smiled, wiping his eyes, "the empty dance floor. We were the only ones making fools of ourselves."
They laughed softly to themselves. It was only them again, just like that night.
Jaebum pulled the younger in close, chasing the memory, trying to get it back. And he did, with Jackson there in his arms, swaying back and forth in the alley-- just the two of them.
They stayed there for a long time, yet not long enough considering how long they've been apart, dancing to silent songs under the night sky. Neither spoke in fear of breaking this moment, only holding each other close; running hands over clothed skin, fingers through hair, fingers squeezing arms, brushing over exposed skin. Jaebum felt Jackson's nose at the side of his neck, finding home at the crook where he inhaled deeply. He wore the cologne Jackson always told him he loved. He felt Jackson smile against his skin.
"Where are you staying these days?" There he was, the bold Jackson. Jaebum smiled to himself nearly shaking his head at the question. He wasn't sure which way the other meant it, though. He knew Jackson well, but maybe he had changed in that time. Maybe he just wanted to make small talk.
"Still with Mark, sadly. I'm trying to find my own place now that I've saved up enough money. It's just a matter of finding somewhere."
Jackson hummed and it vibrated against Jaebum's skin.
"Where are you staying?" Jaebum realized he should be the one asking. He nearly added 'and how long?' but decided he didn't want to know. Not tonight.
He felt the youngers lips on his neck as he replied, "hotel for now, Mark said he'd let me stay at your guys' place but I wanted this first night to myself."
"So you already knew where I'm staying, huh?" Jaebum shook his head this time, "and why's that?"
"To take it all in, I knew it'd overwhelming coming back. Plus, I didn't know how it'd go with you, if you would want me around or out of your sight."
"Does it look like I want you out of my sight?"
"No," Jackson's voice grew softer, "so will you stay with me tonight?"
Jaebum found those words so familiar. He couldn't say no.
"How's the music going?"
Jaebum asked in the elevator of the hotel. Jackson twirled the room key around his finger, leaning against Jaebum and watching the floor number go up and up.
"Barely going at all. I put out a few singles but they're nothing major."
Jaebum acted as if he hadn't been keeping up with everything Jackson's been putting out. He turned to pick up the heavy diamond necklace around the others neck, "this says otherwise."
Jackson looked down and took it from his hold, their fingers brushing. "This is nothing, just a gift from a friend."
"A friend, huh?" Jaebum didn't know why it came out sounding the way it did. Jackson seemed to ignore the comment as the door slid open, floor seven. Jaebum followed.
"Yes, a friend."
A few moments later they stood in the suite, door closed and locked behind them, closing them into the quiet, private room. Jaebum was painfully aware of the fact that they were now completely alone. He watched in silence as Jackson went to his bags that he had already brought up earlier in the day, pulling out some clothes to change into. He lifted the necklace off of his body, holding it up to sparkle in the light. Hanging from it was a charm in the shape of a Chinese symbol.
"It means 'remember'."
"What are you remembering?" Jaebum swallowed, mouth dry again. He already knew.
Jackson's eyes left the pretty jewels and fell onto Jaebum, "you."
Jaebum wanted to be close in that moment, so close, nothing in the way of him and the man stood before him. It all felt real-- it hurt, it stung, it felt like he needed to throw himself to the other before he was ripped away again. The cuts still bled, the wound still open, but the more he stared at Jackson, the more they healed.
He closed the distance, the jewelry falling from Jackson's fingers to the floor with a chime of expensive metal. Jackson didn't care about it, he didn't need to be reminded to remember anymore. He was remembering as his lips met Jaebum's. The kiss was desperate, not in a rushed way, but the kind of way that screamed I need you, I need you like air.
Jaebum's hands found purchase at the back of the man's head, one just under his jaw, pulling him closer. Jackson's fell at the olders waist, gripping over layers of clothes. Lips moving slowly, then quick, then slow again as they tried to savor the feeling of each others skin. It was easy to get carried away with how good it felt to be that close again, wanting nothing more than to devour the other.
Jackson let out a soft whine as Jaebum's tongue dipped into his mouth, the warm, wet muscle connecting with his own. Jaebum swallowed up every beautiful sound from the others lips, feeding on it like a lifeline. Jackson was all he could see, all he could feel and all he ever wanted to.
Jackson moved his lips down the side of Jaebum's face to his jaw, nipping as gently as he could in the feverish actions, breaths heavy against his pulse. Jaebum tilted his head to the ceiling, a deep whisper, "missed you so much, god Jackson, I missed you."
Jackson replied with a hum that sounded desperate and lost and needing of more. He wanted Jaebum and he didn't know how, didn't care how. It was overwhelming to have been apart for so long without any words exchanged, touches eliminated completely, leaving him craving it more with each passing moment. They needed each other. Breathing each others air to stay alive.
The longer they touched, the more it seemed like they had never been apart, the less time had passed. It felt familiar as their fingers worked off clothes, as they ran over the newly bare skin. It felt right, more right than anything had felt in the insanely long year that had passed.
"I always think about you," Jackson whispered once they were on the bed, bodies bare and writhing in a slow grind, "always think of you when I, fuck--"
Jaebum's lips were everywhere they could be, all at once trying to taste Jackson's skin and savor it. He tasted like he remembered, sweet like honey, savory where a faint layer of sweat glistened along his collarbone. He sucked rosy bruises into his tanned skin, licking over his artwork after each gentle nip of skin between his teeth. Jackson pulled him up by his hair, slotting their open mouths together again, tongues diving past open lips.
Flashbacks arose quickly, memories where they found themselves in similar situations; Jaebum over Jackson, lips locked, hips slotted between open legs, rocking together like steady waves. Memories of holding each other so close, savoring kisses like expensive gold. Nothing was more precious to them, not even gold, not even the diamonds that lay on the floor.
"I need you Jaebum, please, I need you so bad." Jackson's string began to break off, his desperation coming through as he gripped his shoulders hard. There was a crease between his eyebrows, a glisten in his eyes, pupils blown.
He missed those words.
Jaebum took his time in stretching the younger, feeling him out with gentle fingers, not knowing how many times he's done this to himself over the time away. He found himself wondering if Jackson had touched himself often with the thought of Jaebum on his mind, wondered how many times he stuffed himself so deep with his name on his tongue. His mind steered to wondering if Jackson had seen someone else in that time away, but quickly shut that out.
He was still so tight like Jaebum remembered, seemingly sucking his fingers deeper at each pull out. Jaebum would never get used to it, the wonder of the youngers beautiful body. He was a wonder of the world, so ethereal without even trying as he writhed upon the sheets. He opened his eyes to stare at Jaebum deeply, letting him know he was ready.
The first push in had Jaebum seeing the whole galaxy through closed eyes. He had to steady himself, hands gripping sheets so tightly his knuckles turned white, jaw clenched tightly. Jackson was panting against his adams apple, lips kissing at it, licking, sucking. It was so much, all of it-- Jackson's lips, his hands that trailed down to his ass to hold him in, the way his muscles fluttered beautifully around his length, so, so tight.
It was overwhelming, and he knew he'd cry if he didn't get it together. But he didn't quite care when he finally opened his eyes to see tears in Jackson's eyes.
He took a deep breath, let go of his vice grip on sheets and ran his hand through the youngers hair. Their lips met softly. Jaebum pulled out before thrusting in, as steady as he could.
The sounds that arose from that one move rang through the walls, Jaebum faintly thinking they would get a noise complaint but not finding it in himself to care. Jackson's nails were scratching down his back, spreading his legs wider, begging for more. Jaebum gave him more, he would give him whatever he wanted.
The thrusts became steadier, deeper, and quicker. Jackson pulling him deeper, his hands moving down to Jaebum's ass that he squeezed, pulling him closer. Jaebum let out a low growl of a moan, face burying into his neck that he gently bit. He wanted this to last forever to make up for all those nights apart, all of those nights where he found himself fucking into his hand at the thought of this. But he knew it wouldn't last at this rate, both so wrecked and growing more desperate for release.
Jackson let out the most desperate whine he's ever heard, taking that as a sign to push his legs up higher, one finding its way over his shoulder as he fucked into him deeper. Jackson's nails scratched his back harder, probably enough to draw blood, but all Jaebum could process was the shiver it sent down his spine, making his hips rut forward harder. He knew that look on the youngers face-- eyes screwed shut, eyebrows furrowed, lips open and glistening in spit that nearly fell down the corner of his mouth to his chin. He was hitting that spot deep within him, the spot that belonged to Jaebum, the spot that only he could touch.
He felt an overwhelming feeling of possessiveness, mind blank besides Jackson is mine, he's only mine. It was as if his life's meaning was to make him feel good in that moment, to give him everything he's ever had just to hear those sounds, see that face, feel him pulling him in deeper.
"Jaebum," he repeated to himself like a mantra, "so deep, so fucking deep."
His voice was broken, a tear spilling down his cheek, then another. Jaebum kissed them away.
Jackson kept going on, always one to voice out in bed, "thought about you, fuck, so much, every night."
"Did you touch yourself, huh? Make yourself feel this good?" Jaebum's voice was all Jackson could hear deep in his ear. His head shook feverishly.
"No, never, can't replace this."
"Replace what, Seun-ah?" Jackson mewled at the nickname.
"You, your cock, god Jaebum--" he went limp, unable to grip onto Jaebum any longer, arms falling to his sides as he completely let the older take control. Jaebum fucked into him like they needed, deep, fast, steady. It was only moments before it all built up, all spilled over and came to an end.
Jackson's tears continued to fall, hands finding an ounce of strength to grip onto Jaebum as they hit their climax, holding him close as he shook, legs shaking heavily as he wrapped them around his waist to keep him inside. He came between their stomachs, their chests. It smeared together when Jaebum leaned to kiss him deeply, filling the condom deep inside of the younger.
Jackson was shaking, crying, holding Jaebum so tight that it hurt. His legs were locked around his hips, keeping him there, deep within him where he belonged. Jaebum petted his hair softly, wiped his tears, kissed his cheeks, whispering to him. He felt him loosen up, legs falling away from their hold, body relaxing into the sheets. Jaebum gave him a gentle kiss as he pulled out, heart keening fondly at the whimper Jackson let out as he did.
He cleaned them up languidly, returning to the younger who looked so sated and relaxed. Jaebum smiled to himself, pulling him into his arms. This is where they were supposed to be. Right there and nowhere else.
He had three words dancing on the tip of his tongue, and maybe it wasn't the right time to say it aloud, maybe it was too soon, or too sudden-- even with all that time apart. Regardless, Jaebum said them in his mind over, and over.
I love you, I love you, I love you.
Jaebum's phone was blowing up the next morning. Annoying texts of suggestive emojis from the youngest two, calls from Mark. He opened the unread texts from Mark, seeing that he was the only mature one of the bunch.
"Let me know you're safe when you get a chance, saw you leave with Jackson."
"Help him bring his bags here in the morning, he'll be staying with us."
Jaebum felt his heart pick up a pace at that, looking over at the sleeping beauty next to him. Bare, unashamed skin breathing evenly. All Jaebum's again. His soft hair, his long eyelashes, button nose, rosy lips. His wide eyes, blinding smile, his laugh that lit up an entire fucking room. It all made his way back to Jaebum again. He never thought it would all come home.
He sent a simple reply,
"All good, we'll be home soon."
Jaebum woke up to the sound of someone at his door.
He had barely been asleep, teetering between that odd state of dreaming and reality. He looked up, eyes adjusting to the darkness that greeted them, seeing Jackson there, entering through the half opened door. His hair looked damp, body bare besides a pair of boxers. He had just gotten a shower. Jaebum smiled to himself.
He instantly made room for the other, pulling the sheets back to let him in, sighing as their bodies found their way back to each other like they seemed to do so well. Jackson was warm and smelled of Jaebum's soap, making him smile bigger.
It all felt right, Jaebum's arms around Jackson, Jackson's head tucked beneath his chin, placing soft kisses to any bare skin he could find.
The air in the room felt new as it entered his lungs. It was time to ask.
"How long are you staying?"
An exhale, "six months. It's six months here, six months China."
Jaebum let it settle in. He put on a strong face, even when the room was dark and the other couldn't see. He could live with that.
"I'm not mad at you for your decision, Jackson. I'm proud of you, so proud."
Jackson nuzzled deeper into his arms, "thank you."
Jaebum placed a soft kiss on the top of his head, inhaling the sweet scent of his hair.
"I love you, Jackson."
There wasn't a hesitation,
"I love you, Jaebum."