Pairing: Onew/Minho, with a side of Jonghyun/Taemin.
Summary: Trust Minho to get himself sent to a parallel universe the one day he has the dorm all to himself.
Status/length: Incomplete, 2,200 words.
Author's Note: This fic is kind of AU and kind of not. Dedicated to my angel Tana, my girl Aki, and my sunshine Lilith, because without them, I probably never would have written anything again. ♥
Previous Chapters: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05
"What kind of person is your leader?"
Minho choked. His eyes widened as he turned to look at Jinki, who was sitting innocently on top of the counter, his eyes turned up at the ceiling as if he were thinking about everything and nothing at the same time. Minho paused, chewing on his lower lip gently before shaking his head, taking another sip of his iced coffee.
"He's... an idiot. But he's also the smartest person I've ever met, and he has a way of making people happy without even realizing it. He puts everything he has into making sure the people around him are comfortable, sometimes at the sacrifice of his own happiness, and he never lets anything get him down. He has this way of charming an entire room with just one smile, even though a lot of them are just his way of covering his sadness. He's kind of stubborn, kind of clingy, and he's... one of the most amazing people I've ever met."
"Huh," Jinki muttered, swinging his legs a little so they banged lightly against the counter, "he sounds pretty cool."
"He is," Minho replied, a sad smile gracing his lips as he took another sip of his coffee, unable to quite tear his eyes away from the thoughtful expression on Jinki's face. It was times like these where Minho wondered if Jinki really had no idea that Minho was talking about him, or if he was just playing dumb. Minho had stopped avoiding questions about their leader, had stopped trying to hide the fact that he was in love with Jinki, but with no signals - good or bad - coming from Jinki, all he could do was sit and wonder what the hell he was going to do about this whole situation. He couldn't bring himself to reveal his feelings, out of fear of them being a burden to someone who always took care of him, but he also couldn't stand the idea of keeping it locked up inside of him anymore. Maybe if he'd been in his world, with Key and Jonghyun and Taemin and their managers and SME and variety shows the whole of SHINee's existence to distract him, he would have been able to ignore it. But in this world, where the only thing capable of occupying his thoughts was Jinki, he couldn't help but feel like he was standing on the edge of some cliff. The only question was: Should he stand there for the rest of eternity, or jump off of it and hope for the best?
"Wouldn't it be easier to just do this at my house?" Jinki asked, making Minho pause in his explanation of the hand movements to look at Jinki with curious eyes. His eyes glanced around the bookstore, where some customers were looking at them with confusion. They had the entire seating area torn apart to make space on the floor for their dancing. They couldn't put any kind of music on, and Minho had to admit that it felt slightly odd to be teaching Jinki the Love Like Oxygen dance to the sound of smooth jazz and trot, but he wasn't quite sure he wanted to be in Jinki's house while his feelings were still so jumbled up.
While going over the pros and cons of heading over to Jinki's house, Minho hadn't said a word, which Jinki seemed to take as a sign of confusion, snapping Minho from his thoughts when he continued talking, "I mean, if you don't want to it's fine. But... my room is in the basement so it's huge and the air is cooler and I have a really big mirror on one wall so it might help with the movements and I have the kind of chairs you were talking about and and and. Just. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up, right? It was stupid. You're right, the bookstore is fine, I mean it's perfect, we loosen up out muscles when we move all the furniture so we don't have to stretch and--"
"First, stop apologizing."
Minho sighed, running a hand through his hair and glancing up at Jinki, who was staring at his twiddling thumbs like a child who's just been dressed up in a pink frilly outfit and put on stage - all kinds of awkward and shy and unsure of what to do. Minho grinned, waving his hand around to get Jinki's attention. When Jinki looked up, Minho cocked his head to the side and smiled, letting out a small whoosh of air, "If it's okay with you and your folks, I wouldn't mind going over your place. It does sound like a better place to practice."
Jinki lit up like a Christmas tree, flouncing around excitedly before bolting into the back room to ask his dad if it was okay. Minho inwardly wondered what exactly he was getting himself into, but the second Jinki came out with a thumbs up and a grin that spread so wide you could see where his teeth ended, he couldn't help but smile back.
"Wait here," Jinki said, staring at Minho very seriously for a second before darting into his room and slamming the door shut, leaving Minho very, very confused. Before he even had time to process it though, Jinki was back in the doorway, looking slightly out of breath with a smile on his face, "I had to clean. Sort of. Just threw my laundry under my bed, really."
Minho blinked slowly, registered Jinki's rushed words, and smiled. Jinki seemed to visibly relax as he stepped aside, letting Minho into his own little world.
The first thing Minho noticed was the way everything seemed so crisp and fresh, like it had been bathed in white fluffy cotton, even though there wasn't that much white in the room - it was mostly powder blues and mint greens. The room seemed bright, despite the lack of actual sunlight, and Minho knew it wasn't only because of the overhead light or the tiny lamps lined up against one wall like soldiers blocking the outside world from their castle. No, it was obvious that this brightness, this feeling of warmth despite the slight chill on his skin, was because this was Jinki's room.
The second thing Minho noticed was the smell. It was that infuriating mix of pine and cotton and something that couldn't quite be explained, something that was purely Jinki. Minho sighed, wondering how he was going to survive this without falling even harder for Jinki, before noticing the strange look the other one was giving him. He smiled, shaking his head as if to say that it was nothing, before stepping further into the room and placing his school bag onto the floor. He stood straight where he was, closed his eyes, and breathed in deeply to steady himself before turning to look at Jinki, who was fiddling around nervously again. Minho smiled, waving his hand to get Jinki's attention, tilting his head to the side in a way that some people might call cute.
"Where's your stereo? We should find some music to inspire us or something, since you don't know the song."
"Oh, right!" Jinki exclaimed, running over to the stereo and turning it on. Minho briefly noted that it was the same stereo model that Jinki had bought for the dorm after their debut before getting distracted by the trot song Jinki seemed to be listening to. He tilted his head to the side, noticing that the rhythm was oddly similar to their song, deciding that this was good enough for now.
"Alright, let's do this," Minho said, finding it impossible to keep from smiling at the way Jinki seemed to light up all over again.
Another week passed, and Jinki had nearly perfected the Love Like Oxygen dance. Minho was actually pretty sure that the Jinki in this world was better at it than his Jinki, but that was also probably because there were a lot less distractions here. Back at home, Jinki was always getting distracted by the people or the music or the pretty colors of the other members' hair, but here it was just the two of them, and Minho couldn't help but feel a little bit tense.
Over the last week, Minho had noticed a change in Jinki's room, something that unnerved the hell out of him. The room no longer smelled of Jinki; instead, it smelled of both of them in a strange but sweet mix that made his head spin. It was a mixture of pine and cotton and vanilla and musk, of Jinki and of Minho, and it was driving Minho up a freaking wall. Almost literally, he thought wryly, since he was standing against one of the walls while they took a small break.
"Hey, Minho. What's this song about, anyway?" Jinki asked from where he was laying on his bed, eyes turned to Minho attentively. Minho bit his bottom lip and turned his eyes to the ground, his head swimming with thoughts that should not have been there.
"It's about being in love with someone who doesn't love you back, and how you can't fall out of love, despite how much pain it causes you," Minho said, a sad smile playing along his lips.
"Sing me some of it?"
Minho looked up, his heart clenching at the sight of Jinki just laying there, looking up at him with an unreadable expression on his face, no forced smile and no real smile, just simply... there.
"You know I'm not primarily a singer, right?"
"Of course," Jinki replied, rolling his eyes almost playfully. Minho blinked, realizing that he'd never seen Jinki roll his eyes before, even in his world, "I just want to hear you sing it."
Minho could have sworn that his heart stopped for a second, taking in the small smile that had taken place on Jinki's lips, and the way Jinki just seemed to relaxed, like he knew everything going on in Minho's heart and didn't mind in the slightest. Minho knew that was bullshit, but he also knew that the least he could do for Jinki was sing. He took in a shaky breath and closed his eyes, blocking everything out for just this moment.
"Love like ice, the anguish that was sweet
My sincerity like a wave
Jealousy like ice, the tears that were sweet
Beautifully, it takes me by death
You're like oxygen, when I drink you in
I can't breathe you out
Inside this intense agony
Can't you see I'm dying away like this"
Minho froze as he felt something on his cheek. Slowly, slowly, he opened his eyes, only to find a pair of dark brown eyes staring directly into his own. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, but found that words wouldn't come as Jinki wiped away the tears that fell. Again, Jinki was the one supporting and comforting him, and again Jinki was the one who would have to feel bad. Minho gritted his teeth, lowering his head away from Jinki, who took his hand back without a word, though he didn't move. No, he stayed crouched there for a long few moments until Minho had gathered his wits somehow, now feeling more angry at himself than anything else. Why was it that Jinki was always the one to comfort everyone else?
"Jinki. Why... why don't you ever let people take care of you? Why do you always take care of everyone else?"
Jinki smiled, a soft and sad smile filled with warmth, "Taking care of others helps me, too. I suck at cleaning, I'm horrible at cooking, and I couldn't go a week without breaking something if my life depended on it. But if I can give people comfort, I don't feel like such a failure."
Minho felt a single tear fall, his breath catching in his throat when Jinki moved to wipe it away again, only this time, his thumb didn't move. It stayed where it was, resting just on his cheekbone, and Minho was again caught by the way their scents had mixed in with each other in the room, and the way Jinki's eyes seemed to hold the secrets of the world while not letting any of it affect him. And again, Minho found himself completely struck by this man, this Jinki, who could light up an entire room with just one smile.
"Shit," Minho murmured, pressing his forehead against Jinki's collarbone, his hand coming up to hold onto the hand that still rested lightly on his face. Jinki didn't move, didn't speak, just stayed there and let Minho rest on him as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Minho looked up, gnawing cruelly on his bottom lip as he studied Jinki's face, the emotions bubbling to the surface as he whispered the one thing he never thought he would, asked the one question he'd always wanted to know, revealed the one desire that had always been pinned at the bottom of his heart like a dart on a board.
"Jinki... can I kiss you?"
TO BE CONTINUED...
A/N: The next chapter will be the last! I'm sure you all hate me for leaving it there, but.... *hides under the covers to escape the death threats that are sure to come*
Next Chapter: Chapter 07, FINAL!