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: Complete, 3,000 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, 06.
"No, you can't kiss me," Jinki said, leaning back and crossing his arms over his chest. Minho blinked, pulling at his thoughts until he remembered exactly what he'd just said, his heart freezing when he felt himself coming back to his senses. Shit, had he really just....?
"I'm sorry," Minho whispered quietly, bowing his head in apology, "I know you don't like men and I shouldn't have asked that. It was stupid of me to get caught up in the moment, and I'm sorry, it must feel bad, right? There's no rea--"
"Stop apologizing," Jinki murmered softly. Minho froze, his breath catching at the tone of Jinki's voice. He wasn't angry, or upset, or scared, or disturbed, or any of the things Minho had expected him to be. Instead, his voice sounded almost... happy. Minho took in a deep, shuddering breath, looking up slowly, slowly, until he saw an expression he'd never expected to see: affection. Suddenly, the world around him started blurring and he had to remind himself to just breathe, or else he would pass out and waste this moment, this second where he could see that expression on Jinki's face.
"Listen, Minho," Jinki started, licking his lips almost nervously, and Minho had to fight the urge to reach up and at least touch those lips, biting down on his own to keep himself grounded, "I like you well enough. You're amazing, you're funny, and easily one of the most attractive people I've seen in a long time. You... you were the first person to really notice me, despite how hard I tried to stay hidden. I do like you, I like you a lot, but... you don't like me. You're here because you're in love with your leader, right? So what good would it do either of us to kiss just because you got caught up in the moment?" Jinki shook his head, a sad smile gracing his lips as he stepped further away, arms hanging limp at his sides.
Minho closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall, biting down on his bottom lip so hard that he was beginning to taste the sweet, metallic flavor of blood. He felt his muscles tense, felt his chest tighten painfully, feeling as if he were standing on the edge of a cliff with a strong wind trying to blow him down into the abyss. His knees were locked, his arms were tied, and he could do nothing but stand there, wishing he'd just been honest about the whole damn thing from the beginning.
"I like you well enough... I do like you, I like you a lot."
Minho froze as he felt Jinki's words finally register in his mind, felt that one phrase pierce through his thoughts, past the rejection, past the pain, past the regrets. It swept past that cliff in his mind until it reached his consciousness, repeating in his head over and over, "I like you.."
"Jinki, wait," Minho muttered, reaching out and grabbing one of Jinki's arms, pulling him forward until they were standing so close, so very, very close. Jinki stared up at him with wide eyes, his mouth gaping open just slightly in the shape of an 'o'. Minho closed his eyes once again, took in a deep breath, and let himself fall off of that cliff, into the unknown, "I.... I like you."
Jinki breathed in, sharply and suddenly, in the way that a baby takes its' first breath. Minho felt the way Jinki's arm grew even more flaccid, saw the way he trembled just slightly, heard the way his hair moved in the wind as he shook his head from side to side vigorously.
"No. No, no no no no. You don't, Minho. You don't. You... you don't even know me that well, and--"
"I know more about you than you know, Jinki," Minho whispered, his eyes growing dark and serious, "I know that you're smarter than a lot of people think. I know that you're always putting other peoples' needs in front of your own, that you're not afraid to make a fool of yourself. I know that you're confident, despite the insecurities that sometimes hold you down. When you're stressed out, you could very easily eat an entire pencil from chewing on it too hard, and you once had to go to the emergency room in the hospital because you did exactly that."
"How do you--"
"I know that you get scared when you're alone at night, because you have nightmares about losing the ones you love. You're outgoing and always want to try new things, but you're often too scared to speak up because you're afraid that you'll get in the way of someone elses' happiness. I know that all it takes to calm you down, no matter what the situation is, is someone holding your hand or standing behind you with their hands on your arms. You wear your emotions on your sleeve, but keep your heart hidden away, locked up tight because it breaks so easily. I know so much about you, Jinki. So much more than you'll ever know."
"You...." Jinki trailed off, his eyes searching Minho's cautiously and desperately, as if he needed to see what was truly in Minho's heart, but was also afraid that what he found there wouldn't be what he was searching for. Minho held his ground, letting every emotion pour through his skin, through his mind, through his very being, letting Jinki see the one thing he'd never revealed to anyone else before. He let him see, let him feel, how deeply, stupidly, irrevocably in love he was with Jinki.
"But.... your leader...."
"Is you," Minho whispered, "Jinki, you're my leader, the one I'm in love with. It's you, Jinki. It's always been you."
Jinki froze, his knees collapsing under him as he fell to the ground. Minho knelt down, his heart squeezing painfully tight as he registered Jinki's expression of shock. Minho inhaled sharply, his hand shaking violently as he reached out to brush a lock of hair from Jinki's face, his heart catching in his throat as Jinki looked up at him.
"You can't be in love with me, Minho," Jinki whispered, his voice trembling as his eyes darted around Minho's face nervously, as if he wasn't sure of anything anymore, "You always talk about how amazing he is, about how his smile charms an entire room and how he makes everyone around him happy and.... that's not me, Minho. I'm not that amazing, or wonderful, or cool, or anything. I'm just.... not."
"Yes, you are, Jinki. You're all of that and more," Minho whispered, his forehead leaning lightly against Jinki's. He breathed in, his mind spinning from the intoxicating scents of pine and cotton and Jinki, until all he knew in that moment was Jinki. He had no idea where they were, how they got there, or what was going on around him; all he knew was that Jinki, his Jinki, was right there, so very close to him. He felt the way Jinki shifted nervously, felt the way they inched closer steadily, felt the way Jinki's heart was beating so very fast, but the moment their lips touched, all of that flew out the window.
The feel of Jinki's lips against his own was soft and sweet and slow, and so captivating that he barely managed to breathe. Minho pressed his lips against Jinki's just a touch more, just barely revealing how much he wanted him, and felt himself nearly faint when Jinki responded by tilting his head just to the side, deepening the kiss. They kept inching closer and closer, their kiss growing more and more intense by the second, the chilly basement turning warmer and warmer until they broke apart just slightly, both panting and out of breath and dazed and feeling like this was absolutely where they were supposed to be.
"Jinki," Minho whispered, his lips lightly brushing Jinki's as he spoke, since they both found it impossible to part even a centimeter more. Jinki made a soft humming noise somewhere in the back of his throat, urging Minho to continue speaking, "I love you."
Jinki nodded minutely, pressing his lips just barely against Minho's in a ghost of a kiss, a small smile working its way along his lips. Minho grinned, feeling as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulder as he pulled Jinki closer to him in a hug, chuckling softly. This was how things were supposed to be, this was how it was supposed to always be.
Suddenly, Minho felt a strange pressure grinding against his ears, felt his insides start to spin and churn as he opened his eyes, only to see the scene of him and Jinki huddled close together several feet below where he was. He panicked, looking around in every direction, only to see nothing but black surrounding him. The spinning sensation increased until he could no longer keep track of anything, the sight of him and Jinki drawing further and further away as he blacked out.
When Minho woke next, it took him a long couple of minutes to figure out exactly where he was. If it weren't for the sound of the ceiling fan and someone cursing as a glass broke, he probably wouldn't have recognized the way the mattress sunk just slightly, or the way the room smelled of many different people, or the way laying there simply felt like being home.
"You have got to be fucking kidding me," Minho muttered, gripping his long hair and tugging on it in frustration, his teeth grinding together painfully as his eyes squeezed shut, keeping every single tear that threatened to spill locked up tight. He'd finally gotten his Jinki, had finally revealed how he felt, had finally gotten the only thing he'd ever wanted, and now he was back in the fucking dorm, back in his world, without Jinki. Of course, Jinki was here too, but the Jinki in this world wasn't in love with him. The Jinki in this world just viewed him as a dongsaeng, nothing more. His bottom lip began to bleed from his teeth piercing the skin, but he barely noticed it. All he could feel right now was the way his stomach had fallen under him, the way his chest felt like it was caving in so tightly that he couldn't breathe, the way his entire body seemed to want to fold itself together to keep anything else from hurting him.
Someone screamed outside of the door, and Minho felt his entire body tense and tremble as he recognized it automatically: Jinki. Jinki was here.
Minho scrambled out of bed and ran to the door, pulling it open so hard it hit the wall behind him. Jinki screamed again, and Minho felt his heart sink as he noticed the fancy clothing, the electrocuted hair, the way his eyes recognized him instantly without any sense of being in love hidden in their depths.
"Minho! You scared me!," Jinki yelled, laughing as he patted Minho on the shoulder, reaching up to poke at the scratch on his face, the scratch on his face that was there because of Dream Team, not because of a dangerous game of poker in the middle of a bookstore. "You look bad, Minho. Is the cut infected?"
Minho shook his head, ignoring the way Jinki's eyes seemed to take everything in, even the way his lips were now bleeding from biting them far too hard earlier. Jinki opened his mouth to speak, but Minho cut him off, knowing he wouldn't be able to hear Jinki's voice much more before he lost it, "Hyung, tell the manager that I'm going to sleep in his room tonight. I need to be alone."
Jinki nodded slowly, and Minho felt his heart clench painfully at the worried expression on his face. He almost stopped, almost reached out and pulled Jinki close, almost told him that he loved him, almost said that he would never let him go again, almost did so many things, but instead he turned away, taking short, even strides until he reached the manager's room. He closed the door behind him, barely managing to lock it before he collapsed onto the bed, curling himself into a tight ball in hopes that everything would block itself out for hours, days, weeks, or years, until he was able to handle all of this once again.
"Yah, what the hell is his problem?!" Key shouted, making Minho wince as he stood in the manager's room, his eyes trained on the small soccer field just outside the window. "He's fine during schedule, fine during practice, fine during recording, but the second we get home he turns into a fucking debbie downer and goes off and hides himself in manager's room!"
"I think.... maybe he's going through something he can't tell us about," Jinki spoke, and Minho could practically hear him shifting around nervously, the way he always did when something was bothering one of the members, "Last week when I came back from schedule and he was still here, he looked... really bad. Like he wanted to cry or something--"
"Then why haven't you gone and dragged it out of him yet?!" Key shouted, earning a few 'now, now's from Jonghyun and a loud slurping noise from Taemin as he ate (what Minho guessed were) noodles. There were a few hushed whispers for a few moments, followed by the sound of Jinki yelping and the door behind him opening. Minho turned around, watching as Jinki entered the room, rubbing his butt which Minho assumed Key had kicked, literally.
Jinki closed the door behind him and stood there awkwardly, in the same way he had so many times back in the parallel world, and Minho felt himself tense as every memory he'd been blocking out rushed through his mind; calling out to Jinki only to have him run back into the bookstore, listening to Jinki explain about the parallel worlds, bringing Jinki to karaoke, teaching him the Love Like Oxygen dance, revealing his feelings, kissing Jinki, and the image of him and Jinki holding each other tightly, pulling far away as he was swept back into this world. He let out a whoosh of breath, which would have been well and good if he hadn't started choking the next second, the oxygen getting caught in the wrong pipe. Jinki panicked, running over to him and trying to pat him on the back, but Minho pushed him away, over and over until Jinki finally stood at the opposite end of the room and Minho finally felt himself become able to breathe again.
"So, it was something I did, after all..." Jinki whispered, and Minho winced as he heard the pain in that voice, knowing the exact expression that would be on Jinki's face when he looked up. And he was right, down to the last little detail, but it didn't make him feel any better to see Jinki with his eyes scrunched together, mouth pressed into a tight line and jaw clenched shut.
"It's not you," Minho whispered, his voice rough and hoarse from the choking fit, "it's me."
"BULLSHIT!" Jinki yelled. Minho's eyes went wide, as he felt himself fall completely silent, felt his entire body drain of energy as he realized exactly how much he'd hurt Jinki. Not the dream world Jinki, but the Jinki standing in front of him, eyes set into a hard line as a small tear made its' way down his cheek. Minho shook his head rapidly, violently, and when he looked back up to see if he was just imagining it, Jinki was still standing there, still hurt, and still crying.
"I swear, Jinki. It's not your fault."
"Then why, Minho?!" Jinki screeched, with such impact that Minho actually felt himself fall against the wall helplessly, "Why do you avoid me?! Even during schedule, you never look at me or talk to me more than the scripts say to! Why do you talk normally with Key and Jonghyun and Taemin and manager? Why is it so hard for you to look me in the eye? What... what did I do wrong?"
"You didn't do anything--"
"Then why, Minho?" Jinki whispered, hanging his head and staring at his feet, his toes curled into tight little balls of frustration and pain and anger. Minho sighed, covering his face with his hands, pressing fingers to his eyelids, his breath shaky, his head swimming, and his heart tearing itself into pieces.
"Do you really want to know?" Jinki nodded just slightly, "You want to know why I can be normal to Key and Jonghyun and Taemin and manager?" Jinki nodded again, this time more firmly.
Minho sighed, eyes falling to the floor, "The reason is because.... because it's Key and Taemin and Jonghyun and manager. It's just them. Because... I'm not in love with any of them, Jinki. I love them, but not like I love you. And I hate that I love you, because I know it will only be a burden on you. Even if you someday felt the same, even if we made something, it would always be a burden to you. Because you're the one who always takes the burden, even when people tell you not to. Because you're just... you. And I don't want you to be burdened anymore."
Silence. All Minho heard for a long, long moment was just that: silence. The room remained still, and he found it hard to even breathe. The air felt as if it would shatter with just one breath, as if everything would burst into flames with just a single word. Everything felt tight and tense and hard, until Jinki finally spoke, and everything that was suddenly broken fell back into place, landing exactly where it was supposed to be.
"And what if I want that burden, Minho?"
A/N: So, it's done! I'm sorry there wasn't much Jonghyun/Taemin in it (for those of you who read it for that XD) but I'll be making a side-story for this fic with them, because I had this whole storyline planned for them already but never got to write it. ^^;;
I hope you guys liked this story! ♥ And also:
I have spotted 7 of you (because there was 7 chapters XD), because your comments really mean so much to me, you have no idea. ♥ I wanted to spot more (chocolocco, weerainbow, volatileflame, intoxicatedbrat, eukyungkyung, and hikaritsubasa) but... that would be a little bit overkill, yes? XD Also, if you're spotted, and if there's something you want to see, feel free to make any kind of fic request. The first 3 people can request multi-chaptered fics, and the other 4 will most likely be a one-shot or two-shot. XD This is just my way of showing how much your encouraging words really mean to me. ♥