Pairing: Suho/Kai, Chen/D.O, Luna/Sehun, Luhan/Xiumin
Word Count: 19988
Summary: “It starts with a song.”
Notes: Originally written and posted at cuddlybros
Love stories have so overworked the power of love’s gaze, that finally people agreed to discount it. We hardly dare, nowadays, to admit that two human beings loved one another because they looked at one another. Yet—love dawns thus, and only thus. The rest—comes afterwards. Nothing is more true, more real, that the primeval magnetic disturbances that two souls may communicate to one another, through the tiny sparks of a moment’s glance.
— Victor Hugo
Ideal Marriage by Van de Velde
Used to the cluttering, it was easy to ignore.
Climbing up the stairs to my old bedroom makes it seem as if it was a lifetime ago that I lived here, when it’s been less than a decade. Old pictures hanging against the walls; drawings, family photos, felt ridiculously nostalgic. I laughed quietly, feeling older than I noticed myself becoming.
Being in my bedroom made it feel all the more strange. My old posters, of space and galaxies and oceans, all seem much smaller and duller than I remember. My mom walked by, glancing in and laughed at my expression, and wore the same expression she did whenever I moved up a grade.
Really Jonginnie, what did you expect? For things to always stay the same? That would be a waste of a life. A soft smile, and a comforting hug. Always be open to change Jonginnie.
I am, I always thought, I just don’t like it. And even now, that hasn’t changed much.
Coming across an old storybook, I found myself smiling, lost in my own world again. A bit crookedly, he’d say with a soft smile, and I laughed, my voice filled with adoration.
Wiping some dust off the spine, and flipping through the pages, brought back happy memories. Slightly embarrassing ones too, where I acted out scenes in my head, imagining that’s how things will happen with my soul mate, when I meet him.
And sort of unavoidably, I thought of colder times. Closing my eyes, the not so pleasant memories arising unbidden, I breathed deeply. Memories are dangerous things, I learned from a young age. Scary how any feeling can return with just a simple scent, a song, a name. Mostly to tear you down, without prior notice.
And then, just like always, and just like many years before, that soft melody wrapped me in its arms, and held me close.
Soft lips kissing my cheek, and a loving, “Jongin?”
“Yeah?” I whispered on a breath, leaning into his smaller body, his warmth.
A soft laugh against my neck, “Nothing. I just wanted to hold you for just a tiny bit.” Hesitance.
(How could he still be hesitant? Didn’t he know I’d give him the world if I could?).
“... can I?”
I didn’t hesitate. “Do you want to?”
A quiet silence, the kind you can feel settling on your skin. Not unpleasant at all.
It starts with a song.
No words, really, not ones you can sing, anyway. It’s almost like a dream. You know it’s there, you just can’t remember it. And the words to your song, you can’t really hear them either. But the tune never leaves you. It plays softly, barely there. Just flitting through, a reminder of what you have somewhere out there.
From a young age I’ve been told stories of soul mates, meeting each other continents apart, meeting in the most incredible situations; like bedtime stories.
I was—how old was I? I only remember always having that tune, a whisper passing through my ears, tickling me on the inside. Mom would always tell me how when I was barely three, I started humming. Not any song they’ve ever played on the radio. Walking around like a bumblebee, humming, as if I was looking for something. Little bumblebee Jonginnie.
You probably were; is what she’d say as an afterthought.
As a kid, I didn’t really understand, at first. Whenever it flitted through my head, I’d try to catch it. It felt like I was playing a game. And sometimes, it felt like someone was playing with me.
When I was a bit older, I asked mom if I could write them a letter. Maybe a poem, like they do in movies. Mom laughed brightly, I’m sure they’d love that.
Really? I asked, all wide eyed and excited, my heart beating as fast as when Jongdae used to sneak up on me, or really, anything sudden, but this was much happier. I ran to my bedroom, eager to start my letter, just to stare at the paper, slightly offended that the words wouldn’t automatically appear. I frowned, and ran back downstairs, finding my mom still in the kitchen.
“Yes?” she asked, smiling at me.
“Um. What do I write? I can’t think of anything.” I said, annoyed.
She laughed, and then looked thoughtful for a bit, before she answered, “Well honey, I don’t think there is anything you really have to write. Write whatever you want. Whatever is important to you, or anything you want to share. A new toy. Or something that your brother did again.” She said with a laugh. I nodded, running back up to my room.
I could write forever about how Jongdae teases me. But staring at the paper just then, I didn’t want to. I wanted to tell them about me. And that I hope I meet them really soon, because I get kinda sad sometimes. But I’m not sure why.
I frowned, folding and unfolding a corner of the page, wondering where to start. How do you get to know someone? My first grade teacher asked, looking at us smilingly, on my first day of school. Where do you start? No one answered, but she smiled anyway. My name is Liyin; what’s yours?
My name is Jongin. What’s yours? I’m seven years old. I’m not very good at math, but I write really well. My teacher says that. Teacher Liyin, she’s really nice.
I wonder if you’ll be nice. I pressed my lips together, tapping my feet against the carpet.
Mom says I’ll meet you when the time is right. I hope I meet you soon, because I hope we’ll be really good friends. I don’t talk much though, Jongdae does. He talks a whole lot. Too much, mom says. Jongdae’s my brother. He’s two years older.
I really like looking at stars and watching ocean programs. It’s really pretty, even though it’s a bit scary, especially with the ocean, and all the animals in it. What do you like? I like reading too, but not many children in my class do. Jongdae too, he says it makes him sleepy.
“Boys, dinner!” I heard mom yell. I sighed.
I want to write to you some more, but mom’s calling for dinner. I’ll write you another letter soon.
Finishing up by folding it twice, and placing it in an old shoe box under my bed, I went down for dinner.
Maybe one day, I’ll show them to you.
I wrote many more letters after that, all along the same childish lines, though none I really regret. It helped me, in a strange way, made me feel closer to him, but made me get to know me, too.
“Need help?” he asked, regarding the mess I somehow managed to make in less than an hour. He raised an eyebrow, amused.
I laughed, embarrassed, and quickly tried to remember if there might be anything I wouldn’t want him to see. Oh, there was a lot, I thought with a wince. But none of them too embarrassing, so, I smiled up at him from the floor, packing out old shoes from the bottom of the closet, “Sure.”
He considered the mess again, wondering what he should tackle, and chose the desk. I laughed, earning a laugh in return as he ran his hand through his hair once, abashed, that he chose the easiest chore.
And we passed time packing the boxes and filling the rubbish bags, the room filled with muted cluttering.
And unable to stop myself, I drifted into my own world again. This quiet, this silence, this homey and comfortable feeling, I never really thought I’d ever get this. Even when I thought about what he’d be like, I never thought I’d actually get something I’ve always wanted. It seemed unlikely, especially when my parents, and many other couples, even Sehun, all their soul mates were almost the exact opposite of them. Meant to bring out the parts they keep hidden.
And I realized he already does that. He makes me... feel brave. Makes me want to act. And so many times, I needed just that. I needed to be brave with him. For him. And even if I wasn’t, even if I was my usual quiet and unresponsive self, he accepted me anyway, lovingly. As if I was something special. And I wanted to say something, to tell him how much he meant. But I never really told him, I never knew how to. I write and I listen, I don’t speak. But somehow he knew anyway. He smiled at me knowingly, and I couldn’t help asking how did you know?
He laughed, as if I asked something ridiculous, and maybe to him it was, as he smiled while wrapping his hand in mine.
Because you know? And an embarrassed laugh. You make me want to be brave, too, he said, smiling beautifully. And I’m really not special you know? No matter how much you would like to disagree. And he looked at me shyly, eyes peeking through his bangs, and sighed so softly, my breath caught. But the way you look at me sometimes, like I’m your whole world, that’s—that’s enough.
And I couldn’t breathe for a second when I caught his glance now, probably red in the face. He smiled, and leaning forward, pressed a kiss to the corner of my mouth, and went back to clearing the desk.
I turned back to my sorting, pouting in annoyance, and frustration. Always feeling frustrated at being unable to voice what I feel, even when I know I don’t need to. But it’d be nice at times, to feel as if I’m not only taking, but giving too. Absentmindedly, I look at him, only to see him already smiling at me, adoration and love clear in his eyes, all crinkled. I flushed, embarrassed and more pleased than I could ever admit.
Still sorting through years’ worth of clothes in my closet, the sound of something falling caught my attention. I looked up, to see him getting to his knees, hand reaching under the bed. A pen, I thought.
“Hey,” he called, and I looked up to see him climbing back up, a pen and a worn out shoe box in hand, “is this something you need to sort through?” He walked over, still turning the box over in hands, and suddenly his face brightened, eyes wide. “Is this some of your writing?” he asked, handing the box to me.
I opened it, eyes skimming the countless letters, nostalgic again, and sort of awed, that I wrote all these. And then I looked up at him again, his eyes filled with undisguised curiosity and excitement, and I laughed. He looked confused, adorable.
After all, he didn’t know, that every single letter was almost solely written for him.
I remember I was about eight, when I first heard it with such clarity, it silenced everything around me.
(It grows louder when you think about it, about the possibility of someone being on the other end. But when you think of your soul mate, really think about them, the person who holds the final cords, who unknowingly has those missing words, the tune grows crystal clear, mesmerizing and envelopes you in a blanket of warmth.)
“Mom,” Jongdae, my brother, whined, his mouth filled with chewed food, my dad rolling eyes, already used to dealing with him, “mom, when I am meeting her? This song is getting annoying.” He ended, dragging the annoying so it had a few extra syllables. I laughed.
“When the time is right.” My mom said in her Jongdae enough voice, because Jongdae already whined about this at breakfast (and even more times before that).
But Jongdae being Jongdae, “Yes, but mom, when? What if we’re supposed to meet in the mall, but I have to go to the bathroom and I miss her? What then?” he said, a deep frown crinkling his eyebrows in the way he practices in front of the mirror. Dad does it like this, he said, his eyebrows almost connecting, and mouth screwed all funny. A face only my ten year old brother could make. He just looks like he ate something bad though. Mom said I shouldn’t tell. He’d never let it go, and he’d steal my legos.
Mom didn’t even bother answering, stirring her tea instead. Jongdae went back to concentrating really hard on his thinking face, swishing some fries in ketchup, getting spots all over Hulk’s face. Suddenly he dropped the fry, and “Mom. What if we’re playing soccer—”
“You don’t play soccer Jongdae.”
“—and I accidentally kick her in the face and she never talks to me again?!” he said, completely horrified at the thought, even though my dad couldn’t pay him to touch a soccer ball.
Mom knew this. Everyone did. Jongdae did, too.
“Keep up the great job of never even looking at a soccer ball and I’m sure you’ll do great avoiding that.” Dad said as he stabbed his vegetables, not really paying any attention to the conversation.
I giggled into my plate, earning a wink from my dad.
It made me curious though, as I sat there. Tall, short. Loud like Jongdae, or quiet like me. Dark hair, long hair, no hair. Hopefully not no hair, I thought, pulling a face. But the possibility of soul mate is kind of... scary. In a good way, I guess.
“What if—” rang distantly, as Jongdae started again.
But that’s the last thing I heard. Instead, I heard—I’m not even sure how to describe it. I remember then, growing antsy, not knowing how to describe it. What I’ve always heard, but never that clear before.
(A soft melodious sound; unobtrusive and quiet, soft and just perfect.)
Oh. I remember thinking, feeling weightless. How strange. And they... they were thinking of me too, right then. How strange.
I wondered then; if I had said hello, if they’d hear me.
I felt as if I just couldn’t contain myself, and distantly, I wondered if this was how Jongdae felt. I wanted to run upstairs, grab my pencil and notebook, and just tell them that wow, I was thinking of you today. And you... you were thinking of me too, right?
I laughed softly, humming. When the time is right, mom said.
“I think it might be her.” Jongdae said, early Monday morning, still wearing his ‘dad’ frown, staring at a girl with ponytails. I rolled my eyes, walking away. The first day of a new school year, and I didn’t want to get caught with my creepy brother.
I sighed, annoyed. I could meet my soul mate today. And I don’t want to scare them away, being quiet and weird. And Jongdae’s not helping at all. I could probably tell him that I was secretly hoping I’d somehow meet them today, but I know teasing is all I’d really get.
“Jongin, wait up!” Jongdae said, dragging me back by my bag.
“Stop being weird.” I said, annoyed. He pouted.
“It could be her.”
“That’s what you said about the three girls before her.” I sighed, exasperated.
Another pout. “But—”
He huffed, all showy and pouty, and bumped into me, walking away. And then turned around when he remembered mom said he had to help me to my class.
It wasn’t hard to find my classroom. Jongdae saluted me, and went on his way, meeting up with one of his friends, Baekhyun, at the end of the hallway. And I sighed deeply. The first day of school is never fun. I mean, I wasn’t really expecting it to be, but my stomach was still all funny feeling.
“Name?” A tall lady, probably the teacher, asked me at the door.
“Kim Jongin.” I replied, all jittery.
She smiled and told me where to hang my bag and where I’m seated. Breathing a small sigh of relief, I went ahead to my seat after hanging my bag. Already sitting in the seat next to where I’m supposed to be was a small boy with really big eyes.
(Even though I would never admit it today, I was just slightly—very scared of him then.)
“Hi.” I said, rubbing my palms against my back, out of sight.
“Hi.” He replied, eyes wide.
W-what now? What do I say now? I felt myself freezing up. What would Jongdae say? He’d say something really weird but still make friends. Um... um, favourite superhero?
“What?” I said, horrified that I missed something someone said already.
He blinked, not bothered. “Are you gonna sit down?”
“Oh. Yeah.” I said, as I sat next to him.
“I’m Kyungsoo.” He said, shifting in his seat.
“Nice to meet you.” He said, and then turned his attention to the teacher in front. Miss Park, she introduced herself, and then there was no time to talk anymore. Not that I was upset about not being able to talk, but I felt silly for not being able to somehow make myself seem cooler than I really am in the conversation. And class continued on, with me already feeling weird.
As class went along, Miss Park seemed okay, but I guess I was still kinda bummed that Miss Liyin wasn’t going to be my class teacher again this year. I’ll write it in my letter later on. I sighed softly, catching a wide eyed expression from Kyungsoo. I froze slightly. Stop being weird Jongin, I thought, and watched the clock, breathing out softly.
With lunch approaching, I sort of figured I’d be sitting alone at a table, since I didn’t speak to anyone but Kyungsoo at the beginning. I feel kind of stupid too. I was secretly hoping that one of my classmates would turn out to be my soul mate. And that made me feel really stupid, somehow. Secretly hoping really made me feel silly. It could be that one of the older students is my soul mate but that felt too intimidating.
I sunk slowly in my seat, berating myself for being so hopeful, that I completely missed Kyungsoo standing opposite me, staring expectantly.
“Can I sit here?” He asked, lunch bag hanging in one hand, eyes still wide, but by now I figured that that was just his normal expression. I didn’t expect him to talk to me again, not about anything other than school work, since we’re table mates, but definitely not outside of the classroom. But he did.
I smiled slightly, “Sure.”
He grinned, his smile really cute, as he sat down. My smile widened.
Making small talk was surprisingly easy with him, once I got over how anxious and nervous I was at holding a conversation with someone I just met, or anyone really. We talked about classes and that weird student right at the front of the class, and superheroes. And somehow we even ended up in a debate of Steve Rogers VS Tony Stark.
“No way. Steve—”
“How does he even compare to Iron Man?” Kyungsoo said, flicking his straw at me.
“How does Iron Man even compare to Captain America?” I demanded, dragging it out for emphasis, “He’s—”
“Yo.” Jongdae said, interrupting me, and stealing a bite of my sandwich, as if he didn’t have his own already.
“Hey.” I snapped annoyed, debate effectively disrupted now, making a grab for him, he just laughed and bounced away. “My sandwich, come on.” I sighed.
And then Kyungsoo whacked him over the head. It was quiet for really long, until Baekhyun burst out laughing really hard, kneeling on the floor. I couldn’t help it either; the tears were already running down my face, especially after hearing Jongdae’s whiny why dragging out.
I grinned at Kyungsoo, hearing his soft huff of laughter.
And he grinned at me, eyes creasing. And that was that, really.
After getting home and rushing up to my bedroom, I immediately pulled out my notebook, and started scribbling excitedly.
I started a new school year today. I have a new teacher, Miss Park. I was hoping it’d be Miss Liyin again. I still really hate math. Jongdae was acting really weird, really early in the morning. But he’s always weird.
I pressed my lips against my fist that was resting on my notebook, wondering whether I should tell the truth or not.
I was secretly hoping I’d meet you today. I didn’t tell anyone. Jongdae would have just teased me. I would have told mom, but she would have told me to be patient and wait. I’ll meet you when I meet you. But I didn’t want to hear that. I really wanted to meet you today. And I didn’t, so I’m feeling a little sad. But I’m okay.
I made a friend today! Kyungsoo. He’s got really, really big eyes. And he’s slightly scary, but I like him. Jongdae stole my sandwich, and Kyungsoo whacked him over the head! I can’t wait to tell dad.
I laughed, remembering it. I reread the letter, and then put it away with the rest of the letters; in the box under my bed.
(Now when you don’t hear it anymore... that’s— that’s the worst.)
I remember waking up to screaming. Terrified screaming, the kind that froze you to the core. From Jongdae. He sounded so scared. And that scared me. He was always tough, all sharp edges and funny quirks. He was never scared. He’s Jongdae; he’s not supposed to be.
Hunched over, I wrapped my arms around my knees, blanket bundled all around me. The screams weren’t stopping, they grew shrill, raw and rough, as if he was choking on something. And I couldn’t make my hands move to cover my ears, just rocking back and forth. I felt myself shaking, praying over and over again stop stop please stop.
It didn’t stop for a long while, long after my parents had already run to his room. Long after I heard my mom’s tearful begging Jongdae, honey, what’s wrong? Long after I heard my dad stop pacing, just murmuring reassurances it’s okay, it’ll be okay. And Jongdae’s broken screams I don’t know.
I’m not sure how it happened, but I found myself standing at the Jongdae’s bedroom door, slightly ajar. I didn’t go in, I didn’t want to. I just peeked around the corner, and even that I wish I didn’t do.
As a kid, lots of things scare you; but his face. His face right then, is not something I’d ever forget. He didn’t look my brother, always holding the two years he has on me over my head, always acting so superior. But with the best heart I knew.
No one wants to see anyone break. Especially when growing up, they were always the strong ones. The unbreakable pillars. Seeing someone like that break is more frightening than anything. He looked so... so lost. Empty, and exhausted, as if he lost something and couldn’t ever find it. As if he lost something.
And in the same heartbeat, I knew what he lost. I felt like I couldn’t breathe for a second, like I was about to choke. My dad saw me, caught my eyes. He shook his head once, eyes curved downwards, filled with a bit of anger, and a lot of sadness. And I slowly tracked my way back to my room, closing the door softly.
The song stops playing. Not even a hum, and only the bare memory of it. Just-- just like a dream. The harder you try to remember, the further it gets away from you. But you know something was there. And you wonder how on earth it is that you could lose something you never got the chance to have.
And that’s scary, when I thought of Jongdae, wrapped in my dad’s arms, looking so broken.
There were stories like these, too, except they weren’t told as much. No one liked an unhappy ending. But they did exist. People losing their soul mates while getting to know them, or without ever getting the chance to meet them. Most of the time, it’s because they died.
But even scarier than losing them to death, is that chance that you met them, and you had no idea. There has to be that—that connection. Knowing the other is the other. Holding each other’s eyes, and recognizing that yes, I know you.
Differing from each person, so you never really know, never really recognize the signs or any tells. They say sometimes it’s as obvious as if there were fireworks in your chest. Sometimes a tickle, sometimes a laugh.
Some called it foolish, laughing at the thought of blaring alarms. No ‘hey, I know you’s’ from a distance, no love at first sight.
Though I always wondered; if it was different for each person, how could they know?
It’s like falling in love, almost, mom told me once. You know answers to questions you have yet to ask them. You know their moods, and their anxieties and fears without them telling you. Knowing them like you’ve had a lifetime together can happen in the span of a single day.
And then it just becomes natural, and obvious that; Hey, I know you. And then you know, more than sign or tell could ever let you know.
No one ever says if you feel anything when you lose them.
And staring at the ceiling, I didn’t understand how the day could go like this, when it started off just like any other day. It seemed like it was going to be a good day. So I wonder how it ended up so wrong.
He wasn’t the same after that. Soul mate became a distant, meaningless thing to him. Starting from I guess it just wasn’t meant to be (empty, trying to hide it, hide from it), to I barely even remember anything (distant, uninterested), until he never spoke about it again. Sometimes, when it was really late at night, I snuck out to his bedroom, laying my ear against his door. When was it, when was it?! I’d hear him snarl, sounding angry and hurt, and ashamed.
And after a while I realized what he meant; he had no idea when he stopped hearing it, too used to it just passing by every now and then, that he didn’t notice when it didn’t. I frowned, resting my head against the door, and wondered how it became this hopeless.
Once, unable to fall asleep, everyone was having sleepless nights for a while, I overheard my parents. I felt their anger and frustration, the pain of being unable to protect Jongdae, but all they really said was that maybe, maybe he was too young to know.
No one brought it up again. And I hid my storybooks where I hoped they would be forgotten.
I was fifteen when Jongdae started his last year in high school. Me, Sehun and Kyungsoo, we were too ‘young’ to hang out with the older kids. That was two years ago, and then we didn’t bother as we got older.
“Honestly,” Sehun said, voice prickly and annoyed, after Jongdae, along with his best friends Baekhyun and Chanyeol, snuck some ice cubes down his shirt (where they got them was a mystery), like the mature seventeen year olds they were “they’re supposed to be seniors. Who does this sort of thing anyway?”
“They’re so dumb.” Sehun sniffed, annoyed. I laughed.
Typical Sehun. Kyungsoo didn’t even bother to pretend to be interested, much less sympathetic, calling him a whiner under his breath.
“Oh, come on. Basketball; you and me. You know Jongdae.” I said, laughing a little. I guess I wasn’t too sympathetic either.
He pouted for a while, sniffed and then puffed out his chest. At least, I think that’s what he was trying to do. “Yeah. Who needs someone who looks like a cat?” Sehun said, a really mature insult, and I was agreeing all heartedly just to get all this over with, and even Kyungsoo seemed annoyed now.
“Yeah, cats are the hissy underlings of Satan, no matter how cute and harmless they appear to be. And he’s tiny, and whiny--” Kyungsoo continued, sounding grudgingly fond, and seemingly appeared to shoot himself in the foot. A few seconds of silence and a few more seconds of rambling and then he realized it, too.
“So,” he coughed, “basketball?”
Stopping at a cafe on the way to Sehun’s house (the only house with a basketball hoop), bumping and knocking into each other, to the point where Sehun had his life threatened by Kyungsoo, we passed Jongdae and three of his friends at a table. I groaned under my breath.
“Hey little brother.” Sigh.
“What.” I said, not stopping, and walking past all four of them. Baekhyun, whiny as usual, and sometimes he could give Jongdae a run for his money, and Chanyeol, both laughed loudly. I glanced at the other guy, only the back of his head visible, nose stuck in a book. Must be Jongdae’s ‘goody two shoes’ best friend, as he calls him. Joonmyun. Though I never met him before, from what my mom says, he seems to be the ‘good influence’ all parents want their kids to have. And a good friend, Jongdae would add begrudgingly afterwards.
But why he’s still sticking with Jongdae and his raucous friends is beyond me is what my mom added while Jongdae whined in the background.
“Hey!” Jongdae yelled, throwing his arm around my shoulder. “Manners, much?” he asked, showing off his annoying kitty smile. I snorted.
“What do you want, Jongdae?”
“Nothing,” another smile, “I just love messing with you.”
I rolled my eyes, used to this already.
“Hey noodle, Kyungsoo.” Jongdae said, smiling. Sehun huffed, still baring a grudge, while Kyungsoo gave a nonchalant nod, appearing deceptively uninterested.
I felt an achy twinge, as I did around these two. Kyungsoo lost his soul mate, though he wouldn’t tell me when. He never really spoke about it, but the one time he did, he sounded just as Jongdae looked back then; lost.
I don’t understand, he said, sounding hollow, how it can hurt this bad, I thought at first. I don’t even know what I’m feeling. I just know that... it was there, and the next moment... it wasn’t. It just... it disappeared. And I always took it for granted, so I didn’t notice right away. And that makes it feel so much worse. Did they die? Did I meet them? I don’t know which hurts more. He sounded much older than any ten year old had any right being. He never spoke about it again. I didn’t try to bring it up either.
A few years passed, and I’m not sure when or why, but I started catching him looking at Jongdae. Catching a fond smile here, an exasperated laugh there. And at first, I don’t think he even noticed any of it, until he caught me staring at him, more than once; flushing uncomfortably.
“It’s just a crush.” he said, sounding more annoyed with himself than with me.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“I know.” He said, exhaling noisily. A silence filled the air between us, sitting on the bed with our backs against the wall. The silence wasn’t suffocating, or even awkward. Just curious.
“Is it because of—” I said, breaking off before I could finish.
“Because of? Because of our soul mates?” he asked, folding his legs and resting his arms against them.
“I don’t know. I thought so, at first, when I noticed. Anything else seemed dumb. But now, I’m not sure it is,” he said, crinkling his brows, “I think it’s just a crush, without that mutual feeling there. Of loss, or like, or understanding. Nothing scary like that. I’m just a kid anyway. I just. I like his laugh. And his smile.” He finished, smile fond, ears slightly red.
“That’s cool.” I said, unable to think of anything better to say, but also genuinely wanting happiness for both my best friend and my brother.
“Thanks.” He said, giving me a small, sad smile. Not a single sign of hope hidden anywhere. I wondered if it would have made a difference to him, if I told him that Jongdae sometimes stared at him, too, wearing that same fond smile.
But then I thought of the anger displayed on his face when he caught himself doing that, and I know it would have done more harm than good.
That familiar ache.
“Grow up Jongdae.” A soft voice said, pulling me back. Chanyeol’s deep laughter echoed, followed by my brother’s pouty voice, “Joonmyun, why do you never side with me?” wrapping his arm around Joonmyun, and swinging him side from side, who was already walking in the opposite direction. Baekhyun let out an ugly snort, followed by a soft huffing laugh. I didn’t have to look at Kyungsoo to see the slight drop of his mouth, but I did anyway. He was already looking, already anticipating what I would do. A small smile; it’s okay.
“Come on, let’s go. Kyungsoo has to be home early.” I said, dragging him with an arm around his neck, Sehun still acting all huffy.
“Oh,” Jongdae said, trying to hide his disappointment, “okay.” Then suddenly pulled himself right, “I’ll see you at home then Jonginnie.” he said, blowing me a kiss, “later noodle, Kyungsoo.” He said, walking away, arm still wrapped around Joonmyun’s neck.
Kyungsoo sagged slightly against me, more heartbroken than anyone I’ve ever seen.
It’s annoying, he started saying after a while. When it wasn’t a simple crush anymore. Deeper feelings; deeper like, deeper hurt, deeper sadness. And sometimes, even though it hurt, all you can do is watch.
And Sehun; for all his whining and ridiculousness, easily cleared the atmosphere.
“Why am I a noodle?”
Long after we finished our game; mostly Sehun trying to score by kicking the ball and Kyungsoo trying to strategically deflect the ball towards Sehun (I wondered why I even thought we could play basketball, and why Sehun even had a hoop), we decided to head home.
Picking up my bag, I felt a twinge in my chest. Kind of like a thread hooking onto something jagged. I shifted slightly, pressing lightly against my chest, frowning.
“You okay?” Sehun said, bumping his bony shoulder into mine, earning a smack from Kyungsoo, along with a worried glance at me.
“You were sort of twitching throughout the game. Not the entire time, but a lot.” He said, frowning.
“I dunno. Just an itch, or something,” I said, still rubbing, “probably a cold. Jongdae had one last week. Chest inflammation.” I frowned. I just felt... wrong.
“What sort of idiot catches colds in summer?” Sehun said, rolling his eyes, pulling an ugly face. Though I knew secretly, Sehun hated showing how much he worried about us.
“You do. Every time. You know that, right?” Kyungsoo said, giving him a blank look, and hiding that knowing smile underneath. I laughed.
“I’ve got a weak immune system—”
“You’ve got a nonexistent brain you twig—”
“And you’ve got—”
“Okay, okay. Wanna grab something to eat before heading home?” I asked, slinging my bag over my shoulder. I didn’t really want to go then, I remember. Even though it didn’t really hurt, it was annoying. Kyungsoo read me easily.
“No, I’m going home. I don’t wanna be seen with this idiot, or catch your cold. Let me know when you get home. Later losers.” He said, walking away in the direction of his house, only a few streets over from Sehun’s.
“Miniature Satan.” Sehun mumbled, kicking a stone.
“You sure you want him to hear that?” I asked, laughing.
“It’s fine. He can’t even reach me.” Sehun answered with a dismissive wave.
“You sure about?” I asked with a snort. He rolled his eyes, snorting and mumbling under his breath.
“So,” I started, “how are things with Sunyoung?”
As I expected he would, he flinched. His soul mate, Sunyoung; he met her when he was nine, when he moved from his old neighbourhood. Their personalities are on the opposite spectrum from each other. Sunyoung sweet and kind and just generally a good person, and Sehun... well, Sehun.
Their relationship is a bit strange. Well, strange for soul mates anyway. They act just like neighbours, all polite and distant. And because their parents became close, they often have dinner together once a week, and proceed to tease the two of them. I bet they have these dumb dinners just to mess with me, Sehun always complained.
But when no one’s looking, they’re all blushing and weird. Nervous around each other, all tongue tied. I wondered what the point was for all of this, not saying anything and acting disinterested.
“So,” I continued, not even feeling the slightest bit sorry towards him and his red ears, “have you professed your undying love towards her, and the fact that you always stare at her when she’s not looking?”
“What?! No, I don’t! When have I—”
“Oh, look. Hey Sunyoung.” I said, waving.
He snapped his head around so fast, it was a wonder he didn’t snap his neck.
I snorted, as he turned back, holding his red, red ears while glaring at me.
“You’re so dumb.” I said, ruffling his dark hair, knowing it annoyed him even more.
“Shut up.” He said, smacking my hand away, rearranging his fringe. I laughed, earning another glare.
“I’m going to head home. Don’t forget to bring my game with tomorrow; you’ve had it for a full week now.” I said, walking the opposite way Kyungsoo left.
“Yeah, yeah.” He replied with a wave.
“Oh, and Jongin.”
“Yeah?” I said stopping, turning around.
“You don’t have to worry about Kyungsoo so much. He’ll be okay.”
I looked at him then, really looked at him. And then I laughed.
He laughed in return.
After getting home, and finishing up some homework, I showered. Coming out of the shower, I still felt that weird tugging. I frowned. Could be a muscle pain, maybe?
Grabbing a glass of water, I made my way to my bedroom, realizing I might have, kind of forgotten to message Kyungsoo when I got home. I grinned wryly, seeing the message light flickering on my phone.
Again, it said. I laughed.
Tell me something new, idiot.
I grinned, turning to my closet to dig out some clean sweats. Groaning as I dug through my closet, annoyed at the constant tugging in my chest. Exhaling noisily through my nose, I pulled hard at a pair of sweats, causing several tees to fall out of their neat piles on to the floor. I pursed my lips then, debating over picking them and letting just lay there to gather dust. And most likely getting scolded later. Not much of a decision really.
Sighing, I sat on my knees, picking up and refolding the tees that came loose. Hearing my message tone go off, I packed all the clothes back, sagging against my cushions.
You okay now? Kyungsoo. And Sehun’s, u ok?
Yeah. Still there. Will ask mom when she gets home.
Ok. Be careful.
Just laying on the bed, staring at the ceiling with the window slightly open, a soft breeze flowing through, I nodded off.
I almost forgot about the twitching, until after lunch break where it sort of came back with a fiery vengeance, nearly bringing me to my knees.
“Jongin!” Kyungsoo wrapped his arm around my waist, his hand against my forehead. “You’re burning up. Did you forget to ask your mom?” He asked, sounding exasperated, leading me to the nurse’s office.
“Sorry.” I answered, feeling sheepish.
“Idiot.” Sehun grumbled, following behind, glaring slightly.
The nurse said it wasn’t high enough to warrant any worry, but gave some meds anyway, and sent us on our way.
Classes passed in a blur, not really paying any attention, sort in and out of a daze. I tried snapping out of it, especially after catching Sehun and Kyungsoo’s worried glances, but I felt like I was drugged, in a bad way. The meds weren’t strong enough to do this much, but I was glad when classes came to an end.
Sehun and Kyungsoo walked me home, since arguing with them was useless since they chose to ignore everything I said, and even went as far as nearly tucking me into bed. I laughed, waving them off, and luckily Jongdae was home too, so they left after a while, only after making me promise to let them to keep them updated.
Jongdae saw them out, and by the time I heard him back in my room, I was already dozing off.