The darkness was instant.
Jaejoong had been in the window with binoculars in hand, doing his best to spy on a make-out session that seemed to be going on in the flat of the crackhead whose widow was situated right opposite of Jaejoong’s. Just when the girl had finally started getting into it, lifting up the hem of her own top from what Jaejoong could see through the flimsy curtains, the power was cut off.
It was a rather beautiful sight, really. Standing in the window, looking over the city, he saw it black out in mere seconds, a few flickering lights trying to decide what to do until they reluctantly turned off as well. There was a line of lights in the horizon; apparently the blackout hadn’t affected the whole city, but only the parts near Jaejoong’s home. Regardless, they were too far to actually illuminate Jaejoong’s vicinity, just tiny little specks of glimmer far away.
The only lights left in their area were the headlights of cars, but it was late, and there were very few of them. After a few moments, small, floating lights started turning on inside nearby windows as people found their flashlights and candles.
It made Jaejoong strain his brain, but no matter how thoroughly he mentally rummaged through all his drawers, he couldn’t remember owning any. Jaejoong sighed, glancing upwards. Stars were visible in the darkness, the first time Jaejoong had seen them on the sky of the large city. A memory of the stars in his hometown entered his mind, but before he had enough time to become sentimental over them, he stepped away from the window. It was better to busy himself with trying to figure out an alternative source of light.
After a few moments of awkward fumbling in the dark, and a couple of newly formed bruises later, Jaejoong gave up. He tripped once over his low table but managed to remain upright despite the stumble, only to trip again right away; this time over a pile of books he’d left on the floor earlier the same day, as he had been studying for his exam on the following Monday. He landed on his face, but fortunately, right on top of his thin mattress and stack of blankets lying on the floor. He sat up, huffing, and rubbed his nose annoyingly. It was just his luck to have a power outage at such a crucial moment.
It was a Friday, and judging by the dead silence, almost everyone in the building seemed to be out and about, attending each their own social gatherings. The flat housed almost exclusively students, being situated right next to a rather large university, and usually it wasn’t too hard to keep track of which tenants were in and which were out. Quite in the contrary, Jaejoong could hardly miss them. Most of his neighbours were noisy by day only to become even noisier by night; but Jaejoong didn’t really mind. It made him feel like he really was living in a big city, in the middle of hustle and bustle even on the days he was unable to go out.
Now, however, it was silent; which meant Jaejoong wouldn’t have too many choices of people to borrow some candles or a flashlight from. Sighing loudly once again, he pushed himself up to start fumbling for the door. He might have to ring a few doorbells before anyone opened, and he really wished the blackout would either be over soon, or that one of his neighbours would have an extra flashlight to spare.
The ones on his right definitely owed him one. Despite his affection for spying on the neighbourhood with his binoculars, he could have very well survived without the constant sex noises, thank you very much.
He managed to find his way to the door of his flat without falling over again, with only a few minor trips—one of them over his own feet to his utmost embarrassment—but when he opened the door, he was greeted by an unexpected cry of pain.
He felt an impact in his hand resting on the handle, and then he heard a thump of someone landing on the floor right in front of his door. The person cursed loudly, grunting, and Jaejoong could just hear him grabbing the part of his body he had hurt.
“Oh my goodness,” Jaejoong gasped out horrified, still gripping the door handle, “oh my goodness, I hit you with the door, didn’t I? Are you all right? I am so sorry! Oh my goodness what to do, what to do—”
“It’s alright, just—” a strained voice answered him, “I’ll just sit here for a second if that’s okay with you.”
“Oh dear, did you get hurt?!” Jaejoong stepped forwards carefully until his toes nudged against something. He kneeled quickly, blindly reaching his hands forwards to touch the man sprawled on the corridor floor. “Where did you hurt yourself?”
“It was you who hurt me though,” the man answered with a half-amused voice. Jaejoong felt his cheeks heat up as he groped the man trying to figure out what was wrong of him, feeling grateful for the darkness for the first time since it had fallen upon them.
“I’m so sorry,” he apologised. “I didn’t meant to, I was just going to go ask my neighbours for some candles because of the blackout—”
“Oh that’s funny, I was just about to knock on your door asking for the same— Ouch!” the man groaned as Jaejoong’s hand hit something. “My nose!”
“Your nose? That was your nose?”
“No, it was the elbow of the hand I am holding my nose with,” the man half-chuckled, half-moaned.
“I just slammed the door on your face?” Jaejoong asked in a small voice, retracting his hands quickly.
“So it seems—shit!” the man cursed again, and Jaejoong could hear him shifting on the floor.
“Let me take a look—” he started, until he realised how absurd his suggestion was with the pitch-blackness surrounding them. He sighed, grabbing the man’s sleeve before determinedly standing up. “Come in, I’ll help you.”
“Huh?” the guy sounded surprised. “But you don’t have light either, do you?”
“No,” Jaejoong admitted, “but who knows what’s wrong—you might have broken it or something, I’ll help you in and then I’ll go ask for light—”
“I don’t think there are any other people on this floor besides us,” the guy still sitting on the floor interrupted him. “I already tried all the flats on the left, so unless the people on your right are home—”
“Oh…” Jaejoong realised the situation. “I don’t think they are. I saw them going out and stepping by the convenience store downstairs to buy some booze—”
Realising what he was doing, Jaejoong quickly cleared his throat, imagining the look on the anonymous guy’s face as he must have been full-blown staring right now. Not that he could see Jaejoong any more than Jaejoong could see the guy, but still. “I mean, I didn’t hear a sound from their flat in a few hours so I think they are out.”
There was a brief silence as Jaejoong nervously waited for an answer, until the sleeve within his grip was tugged as the man sighed.
“So, are you going to help me up or not?”
“Oh yeah, of course,” Jaejoong rushed to answer, stretching out his other hand too and hauling the man up. He was still holding his nose with his other hand, and Jaejoong was starting to get worried for real. He touched what the found to be an elbow, and took hold of it firmly when he felt the other sway slightly.
“Wow, okay, let’s take this slowly,” he rushed to scold the guy when he almost stumbled down on their way over his threshold.
“Sorry, your slam left me pretty dizzy,” the man groaned, and Jaejoong led him right onto his mattress, urging him to sit down.
“Sit there, I’ll bring something for your nose,” he promised, fumbling his way to the other side of his one-room flat after making sure the other had firmly planted his ass on the floor. He found his way to his small kitchenette, and when he bumped into his fridge, he realised the freezer department would be melting without power.
The man sitting on his mattress kept making a hissing sound, exhaling forcefully through his nose every now and then. Jaejoong quickly grabbed the tissues sitting on top of his fridge he had come looking for, before opening the freezer department to pull out some ice. His hand bumped into something cylindrical, and since it was going to melt anyway, he grabbed it as well.
Staggering back to the mattress through the room, he managed to butt into his table again, falling over, almost managing to crash into the guy he’d brought in for first aid under him. Fortunately, the guy had fast reflexes, and even in the darkness, he managed to avoid further damage by turning away from Jaejoong, an arm caught up underneath the clumsy man’s fallen body.
There was an awkward moment when Jaejoong forgot to clamber back up onto his feet, half-leaning against the other’s side, supported by the man’s arm curling around his chest. His own hands were forcefully gripping the things he’d brought, elbows resting against the mattress.
Then the man hissed painfully again, wriggling. Jaejoong hurried to sit up right, a string of profound apologies flowing from his lips once again.
“It’s just, I was born like this? You know, fuck, I’m so sorry, I’ve always been so clumsy—”
“Hey hey hey, wow, it’s okay—uh—What was your name again?” the man interrupted him between his own moans of pain.
“Kim Jaejoong,” Jaejoong muttered awkwardly, setting his load on the floor.
“Nice to meet you, Jaejoong-ssi. I’m Jung Yunho—Ouch!” Jaejoong had brought his hands up, feeling his way up from the man’s shoulders, but the moment he touched the other’s face, he happened to nod his head as if he was slightly bowing, his nose colliding with Jaejoong’s fingers.
“Oh god, this is not going so well,” Jaejoong groaned as he steadied the man that was hissing again, cupping his face. “Let me try your nose—I’ll see if it’s broken.”
The man pulled back his fingers and slowly, and Jaejoong brought his own down along the bridge, finding it straight—impeccably so.
“What are you, a doctor?” Yunho chuckled at Jaejoong’s seemingly serious examination.
“One in training,” Jaejoong answered curtly as he gently pressed down on the broken skin. It was chaffed, but the bone underneath seemed to have come out of the collision unscathed.
“For real? I mean, you go to med school?”
“Yeah,” Jaejoong hummed. “Your nose is fine, it just seems to have decided to bleed pretty stubbornly…”
His fingertips were resting underneath Yunho’s nose when the man’s tongue came out, swiping some of the blood trickling from his nose, grazing Jaejoong’s fingers as well. Jaejoong pulled his hands back immediately, looking for the ice he’d taken out from the melting freezer.
“Pinch your fingers together just at the root of your nose and lean forward,” he instructed, a little thrown off.
“Awesome man, med school, eh? You’re one of those brilliant people huh, not the same as we mere mortals,” Yunho started chatting amiably while Jaejoong grabbed the ice.
“Ah, stop babbling, I told you to pinch your nose,” Jaejoong huffed, taking hold of the man’s shoulder and tugging him forward.
“I’m pretty sure you’re the babbling one out of us two,” Yunho answered jovially while Jaejoong brushed his fingers over his face again, pressing down on the root of the perfectly straight nose. Jaejoong was about to retort but knowing the man was in his current state only because of him made him bit back the sassy reply.
“I have some ice, you could hold it against your nose to help with the pain and the swelling,” he explained. “But we need some fabric in between.”
Yunho took hold of Jaejoong’s wrist, pulling his hand off his nose, before wriggling around.
“What are you doing?” Jaejoong asked suspiciously.
“Stripping for your pleasure, babe,” Yunho answered him cheekily as he divested himself of his sweater and handed it to Jaejoong. “Wrap it up in this.”
“It’ll get wet, though,” Jaejoong remarked as he put the ice bag inside the sweater and dropped it back on Yunho’s lap. He could hear the man groaning in the darkness as he pressed the cold bundle against his nose.
“It might get cold,” Jaejoong reminded him. “The power’s off, the heating’s off.”
“Got a fluffy blanket underneath me and a warm body next to me, what more could a man want?”
Jaejoong opened his mouth to answer the quip, but immediately noticed he had nothing to say. Huffing, he reached for the tissues he’d brought and pulled one out.
“I’ll wipe your blood,” he said, once again reaching for Yunho’s face and steadying it with the other of his hands. He started dabbing the area under the other’s nose, applying a little more pressure than strictly necessary. Yunho kept inhaling sharply through his teeth, and instantly, Jaejoong felt sorry for the boy whose discomfort he had caused. Gently, the wiped of the rest, but when the bleeding didn’t seem to stop, he picked another tissue out of the box. Making a tight roll, he carefully stuck it inside Yunho’s nostril.
“I think the other one’s bleeding too,” Yunho groaned, and Jaejoong repeated the action, helping another bundle of paper up Yunho’s nose.
Jaejoong sat back, listening to Yunho’s constant sniffling, setting a pillow behind his back as he leant back against the wall.
There was a brief silence again, until Yunho broke it.
“So, here we are, alone at your place, lying on your bed, in the dark. Shouldn’t we make the best of this?”
“And do what?” Jaejoong asked suspiciously, wondering where the other was trying to get with his suggestions.
“I don’t know, we could…we could chitchat?”
Jaejoong couldn’t help the chuckle bubbling over his lips.
“You really love making sexual innuendo, don’t you,” he snorted. Yunho answered his laughter with good-hearted humming.
“I was born this way, baby, what can you do,” he stated, and Jaejoong could just imagine the jovial smile on his face. “If you met my folks, you’d know where this is coming from. Hell, the whole town is like that. What’s with that part of Korea anyway? You can imagine my shock when I first came to Seoul! How come everyone’s so proper and polite?”
“So where are you from then?” Jaejoong asked the faceless guy sitting on the mattress next to him. There was a brief silence.
“That’s boring,” Yunho finally said, and Jaejoong could hear the pondering in his voice. “Don’t you think it’s boring?”
“Here we are, alone at your place, lying on your bed, in the dark,” Yunho reiterated his earlier words. “Don’t you think we should just skip the ‘where are you from, what do you study, oh how nice, I have a cousin there’ part… It’s so…such a waste. We have a perfectly thrilling situation going on here, let’s go with the flow, shall we?”
Jaejoong stared towards the other man in the darkness, hardly even making out the outlines of the other person.
“I…I suppose,” he agreed hesitantly, not exactly sure where Yunho was coming from. “My life isn’t exactly very…exciting though,” he continued. “What should I talk about?”
He heard the man shift on the mattress, but he couldn’t see how. After a minute, his voice came from a lower level than before, and Jaejoong realised he had lain down.
“Night-time,” he said. “Confessions? Vomiting out all your secrets and inner feelings when you’re sleeping over at your best friend’s place?”
It sounded like he was playing some kind of weird association game. Jaejoong spaced out, wondering how his study night had ended up like this. He was still supposed to go through the questions of the previous year’s exam before he slept. He had started with the earliest exams he had been able to get his hands on, working his way up to the present day. Even though the last set he had done had only taken him two and a half hours, slowness was still his biggest stumbling block. He needed to work on his speed and time allocation if he wished to pass his exam.
“You’ve got any?” A voice startled him from his thoughts.
“Confessions, Kim Jaejoong-ssi, confessions!” Yunho’s voice was clearly amused with his dazed behaviour.
“Well, let me help you,” Yunho said patiently, as if talking to a child. “An awfully embarrassing habit you have? Or something you always wanted but are too afraid to say aloud…
Jaejoong hesitated for a moment, but decided to go with it. Who cared if one of his neighbours considered him a nut case? Whatever, it was Yunho’s idea anyway.
“…Well I, really—it’s just when I’m really bored! I spy on my neighbours with binoculars.”
There was a brief silence, before—against all Jaejoong’s expectations—Yunho spoke up in all seriousness.
“Dude, my mother does that.”
“I don’t know, man, she seemed to get such a kick out of it that I could never bring myself to feel sorry for that old Mrs Lee living opposite of us… Wait, have you ever spied on me?”
“…You live in the same building, on the same floor as me.”
Jaejoong shifted uncomfortably, waiting for Yunho to express his disapproval and compare him to a crazy cat lady who screams at playing children through her window.
“So, what have they been up to?”
Jaejoong was taken completely by surprise.
“The nutties of this neighbourhood, what have they been up to?”
“Well,” Jaejoong hesitated for a moment again, “there’s this long-haired guy who lives in the white building next to us… I think he’s two-timing.”
“You mean that crackhead, the one with the green scooter? Man, he once started a fight with me in the middle of the street for stumbling on the kerb next to his scooter. I didn’t even graze it!”
“That was you, the one he was fighting that day?!”
“Yeah… I mean, wow, you’ve spied on me after all.”
Jaejoong couldn’t repress the chuckle escaping his throat. There was a certain kind of warmness inside him, spreading slowly after he had realised Yunho truly wasn’t judging him at all.
“I guess so. Just know that I was totally rooting for you.”
“Thanks,” an amused voice answered him. “I don’t hit girls and junkies though.”
The exclamation made Jaejoong snort.
“No wonder you got out of it with a shiner and a busted lip…whereas the crackhead was still able to get it on with his girlfriend number one ten minutes later.”
“Oh god that guy is so infuriating!” Yunho groaned. “I wanted to smash his face in so bad but what can you do, mom taught me not to hit anyone weaker than me.”
Jaejoong let out another hearty laugh.
“No wonder then you took it on so tamely earlier,” he teased the man. “You must have felt awfully concerned for my poor, dainty door.”
“Ha-ha!” Yunho chortled. “If the thickness of the doors here is anything comparable to the walls, my fist would have gone straight through your poor, dainty door.”
“I know right!” Jaejoong huffed. “Seriously, my right-hand neighbours must have been bunnies in their previous life. You should hear the amount of sex they have—I swear one day they did it eight times, don’t you think that a bit of an exaggeration? I mean, who the hell has that kind of stamina—”
“Surely this isn’t the talk of a frustrated bachelor,” Yunho suggested, sounding highly amused by the other’s ramble. Jaejoong felt a flush wash over his face, thanking the darkness once again.
“No!” he denied quickly. “You’d say the same if you lived next to them, seriously.”
“Ha-ha, surely they aren’t the only ones having sex on this floor,” Yunho answered him. “I get plenty of noises of that league, thank you very much.”
They both fell silent again, Jaejoong brooding with the humiliation he felt. He had always been a target too easy, he guessed—at least, that’s what his sisters said. Blushing as if on cue and denying all playful accusations just a little bit too loudly; he was indeed a seasoned butt of all jokes.
“So do you have a girlfriend?” Yunho asked after a brief moment.
“What? No!” Jaejoong answered quickly, surprised by the sudden question.
“Alright, alright,” Yunho grinned, trying to placate him half-heartedly. “So my turn, I guess? Hmm, let’s see…”
Jaejoong could practically hear him stroking his chin.
“Well,” the young man started, “I am entirely incapable of putting caps back on bottles after I’ve taken a swig.”
Jaejoong’s mouth fell open as he stared to the direction of his obnoxious guest.
“Yah!” he exclaimed, incredulous. “That’s so lame!”
“I know right, my apartment is full of uncapped bottles and spare caps lying everywhere,” Yunho continued with fake seriousness, but Jaejoong could detect a timbre in his voice that indicated he was making fun of the other.
“You know that’s not what I meant!” he interrupted the other. “I just told you my most embarrassing habit ever and you tell me you suck at recapping your bottles?”
Yunho couldn’t take it anymore, bursting out into laughter.
“You are too funny,” he guffawed, “I bet you look real funny right now, all red and adorable!”
Jaejoong reached his hand outwards, feeling for Yunho’s shoulder before retracting his hand again and giving him a sounding smack.
“Ouch!” Yunho cried out, his laughter never ceasing though he curled up under Jaejoong’s hand. “I was still holding my nose, ouch, ouch, ouch!”
Despite Yunho’s continuous chuckling, Jaejoong couldn’t help but to feel slightly sorry for the man again.
“Wait, let me check,” he insisted, careful to keep his voice still annoyed. “Did you bump it again?”
Turning pliably underneath Jaejoong’s fingers, Yunho let the other man feel around and over his face again. There was nothing different; if his nose wasn’t broken before, it obviously wouldn’t break from a small collision with fingers.
“You’re really sweet, you know”, Yunho suddenly commented as Jaejoong’s fingers ghosted over the tip of his nose. “I just made majorly fun of you but you still wanted to check if my nose is alright.”
“Umm,” Jaejoong felt a bit flustered, masking it with sharpness. “Have to practice keeping my temper in check for all the assholes like you I’ll have as my patients one day.”
“I’d be a loyal asshole,” Yunho promised. “Never use any other doctor’s services but yours. What kind of a doctor are you going to become anyway? Maybe a plastic surgeon, you seem to know a lot about noses?”
Jaejoong wanted to pinch the other’s nose for suggesting such a thing but his kind nature got the better of him.
“Yep,” he answered with a deadpan voice. “Would be the perfect moment for you to get a discreet nose job, this little accident, by the way. I can give you a few recommendations to some good places I know. You would definitely benefit from some nip and tuck,” he lied with a straight face, his fingers still lingering on the most perfect nose he reckoned to have ever felt in his life.
Yunho chuckled, his head shaking under Jaejoong’s touch.
“Now, for real? What kind of a doctor?”
“A paediatrician,” Jaejoong answered, finally coming to the conclusion he had absolutely no excuse to keep touching the man’s perfect nose any longer.
“Mmhmm, I shall make good use of your services then. I want to have 25 children, you see.”
“25?!” Jaejoong exclaimed incredulously, his fingers stopping. Yunho instantly grabbed his hands, but Jaejoong pulled them free as quickly.
“Well,” the man amended, “give or take twenty?”
“Five kids, huh,” Jaejoong mulled over aloud. “Do you have a potential mother picked out, then?”
“See that’s the problem baby,” Yunho answered him in an entirely serious voice. “The team I play for has, for whatever reason, been denied functioning uteruses in the creation process.”
It took Jaejoong a whole two seconds to understand what the man was insinuating. When he did, he cracked up, throwing himself flat next to the man who he could feel watching him laugh through the darkness.
“What the,” he chortled, “that must be the weirdest euphemism for gay I have ever heard in my life.”
The grin was evident in Yunho’s voice.
“Thought you might be an expert on those,” he said casually, bumping his shoulder against Jaejoong’s.
“Quite frankly, I usually just say I am gay alright,” Jaejoong chuckled breathlessly.
“Ha!” Yunho exclaimed. “Gaydar 1, odds 0!”
Somehow, Yunho’s silly company was making Jaejoong relax altogether. Since the man already knew his most embarrassing secret, he might as well drop all pretences.
“Wow, you’ve got a powerful one, haven’t you,” he continued the friendly banter going on between them. “Through doors, in the darkness.”
“Hmm,” Yunho hummed noncommittally. “Maybe you’re not the only one with open eyes around this neighbourhood,” he said before quickly changing the subject. “So, does Kim-ssi have any dreams?”
“…Dreams, huh?” Jaejoong mused, amused at the other’s attempt to divert his attention. He might have been clumsy and a blabbermouth and a little bit awkward, but he was nobody’s fool. Besides, he was quite sure Yunho had totally meant for him to catch the small confession. “Well, last night I dreamt…” He thought about it for a short while before he suddenly remembered the weird dream he had had. “I dreamt that some family was keeping me trapped in a room, like a pet…”
“Wow, skip the light stuff baby, straight to the dark issues, theme of the day after all,” Yunho spluttered, taken by surprise by Jaejoong’s answer. “That wasn’t exactly the kind of dream I was talking about, but we’ll make do with what we’ve got, I guess?”
Even though it seemed to be the other guy’s usual way of talking, the endearment that seemed to slip so easily over the man’s lips didn’t settle right within Jaejoong. Already slightly embarrassed, it only increased the flush Jaejoong felt washing over himself.
“What about it,” he said sharply. “You asked for confessions. You’re getting some.”
“Oh-ohh, this one bites!” Yunho exclaimed dramatically. “Go ahead, Kim-ssi! Tell me about your life as a pet!”
Jaejoong bit his lip, feeling somewhat pensive. It wasn’t that he was regretting the random exposure he had offered his neighbour whose face he had never even seen up close. The situation was just too odd, and Jaejoong was quite sure he had already made himself look foolish enough in Yunho’s eyes. The man didn’t need to hear about his weird dreams.
He leaned forward, placing his hands on the low table as he searched for a different topic. His fingers grazed something, and he soon remembered what the cold object was.
“Oh!” he exclaimed, grabbing the tub immediately. “I forgot I brought us ice cream!”
“Oh baby, it takes a bit more than that to distract me,” Yunho chuckled, but indulged Jaejoong as he sat up straighter as well. “Spoon?”
Jaejoong fumbled about the table until he hit the chopstick box. He opened it, but even after half a minute of determined feeling around, he couldn’t a find a single spoon in the case.
“I think I only have chopsticks here, I have to get us some spoons from the kitchen,” he said, ready to stand up when he felt a hand on his knee. Yunho held him down.
“Come on, don’t get up just to trip again,” he coaxed the other, “didn’t I just suggest we’d make do with what we’ve got.”
“I’m pretty sure you were talking about my dream,” Jaejoong mumbled, but complied anyway. “You want to eat ice cream with chopsticks?”
“There’s a first time for everything, baby,” Yunho said, and the usual cheekiness was back in his voice. Jaejoong wouldn’t have described him as downright greasy—that questionable honour was reserved to a particular, unfortunate friend of Jaejoong’s—but Yunho seemed to be constantly treading the fine line of pleasantly flirtatious and a bit ridiculous.
Huffing, Jaejoong handed Yunho a pair of chopsticks before opening the ice cream tub. Even with the ice cream half-melted, he found it surprisingly easy to scoop a piece to his mouth with the chopsticks, as long as he kept the tub close enough to his mouth.
“Hey, Kim-sshi, share with me,” Yunho bumped his side in a friendly manner.
“I think I’ve already been over-sharing a bit,” Jaejoong muttered but handed the ice cream tub over anyway.
“Oh come on,” Yunho said between mouthfuls of ice cream, “tell me a bit more about your dream.”
Jaejoong hesitated, but when Yunho kept poking his side, he complied with a sigh.
“Well,” he faltered, “I was in this one room… I was kept in this small room like a pet, and I had been there ever since I was a little child. And they wouldn’t let me talk like a normal person, and they kept me blindfolded so that in the whole dream I could only ever see the floor and the edges of my toes when I looked down under the cloth.”
Jaejoong could feel Yunho shivering next to him.
“Wow,” the man said. “That’s really something.”
“And there was this little boy… Well, he was the son of the family. He would always write me letters, dozens and dozens of them, and he slipped them into my room through this small hatch in my door that was used for passing me my meals.”
Yunho made a noise indicating that he was still listening.
“But of course, you know… I could never read those letters, I was blindfolded. So I had piles and piles of unopened letters in my room.”
“And you know what the weirdest thing is? It wasn’t even a nightmare,” Jaejoong confessed. “It wasn’t scary, or distressing at all. Every single nightmare I’ve ever had was about my family dying, or my friends hurting, or once even about the whole human population of this world being poisoned…but I’m always left out. I’m always completely fine, watching from the sidelines—and that’s the agonising thing, when I can’t do anything but watch. But this dream wasn’t agonising at all… It was just weird.”
Yunho shifted next to him, sniffling a bit and sticking the paper in his nose a bit further in.
“You know,” he said, “I think people should more often talk about their dreams during first meetings. It can reveal quite a bit about a person.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, “just like that I am a complete weirdo.”
Yunho put the ice cream tub back onto Jaejoong’s lap, and Jaejoong felt him lay down on his back.
“I don’t think so,” he disagreed. “To me, you mostly sound a bit lonely.”
Jaejoong fumbled with the edge of the dampening ice cream tub, staring at where his hands would have been had he been able to see anything in the darkness. Then he sighed, placing the mostly empty box on the table before lying down as well. His head bumped into Yunho’s elbow, and he fussed a bit, trying to find a comfortable position.
“Well, mister Dream Interpreter, won’t you tell me about your dreams,” he demanded.
Yunho hummed, a rich vibrating voice, and suddenly Jaejoong noticed how warm he smelled.
“I dream of being a good father.”
Jaejoong was close to protesting that Yunho was finding the easy way out again, but he swallowed his words. After all, it was him who has started babbling about his previous night when Yunho had asked him about his dreams.
“To all your 25 kids?” Jaejoong teased him instead. Yunho chuckled.
“To every single one of them,” he said, “five sons and twenty daughters. A father who fills all the conditions of being a good father. You know, like playing with them often enough and never coming home drunk and telling really bad jokes.”
“Bad jokes?” Jaejoong enquired, closing his eyes.
“You know, the kind of really bad puns everyone’s fathers always tell. Like, what’s the purpose of reindeer?”
“It makes the grass grow, sweetie.”
“…Okay, that was really bad.”
“Or what about this one, why is Saudi Arabia free of mental illness?”
”There are nomad people there.”
Jaejoong shifted, turning over onto his side.
“You know, Yunho…”
“What’s up, baby?”
“I think you are fully qualified to be a good father already, at least in this aspect.”
The man let out a joyful chuckle.
“Why thank you, Kim-sshi,” he laughed. “I shall start pursuing this route immediately then.”
Jaejoong smiled with him, fidgeting a little. When Yunho’s sniggers died down, he rubbed his face, asking the question what he had been thinking about for a while.
“But you’re gay though?” he said carefully. Yunho quietened immediately.
“Yeah…” he affirmed. “It’s not the easiest equation, is it.”
For the first time, Jaejoong felt like he was seeing a more serious side of Yunho. The man he’d only just met sighed lightly and Jaejoong heard him wriggling around a bit.
There was a silent moment, before Jaejoong heard Yunho inhale, a sign he was going to say something more.
“You want to hear one more? A Chinese person, a Japanese person and a Korean went to—”
“Oh god,” Jaejoong groaned, tossing around to reach for the edge of his blanket and tugging it over his head. Yunho laughed next to him, his warm, shaking form brushing against Jaejoong’s every now and then.
“Okay okay, I get it,” he sniggered. Jaejoong kept the blanket pulled over his head, but Yunho didn’t say anything more.
It was like those moments in his childhood, the sleepovers Yunho had reminded him about. People poured their hearts out so easily in the dark, when they didn’t have to look at each other’s faces. And then, slowly, they would nod off, the conversation coming to a natural lull when one friend would start dozing off to the other’s voice. Jaejoong remembered he had sometimes continued talking for a good five minutes before he had realised his friend had fallen asleep in the middle of his speech.
Just like that, with the same comfortable silence he would experience with good friends, they lay next to each other. After a while, Jaejoong peeled the suffocating cover off his face, taking a more cosy position on top of the thin mattress. He wasn’t feeling sleepy at all; after all, he had planned to study late into the night before the sudden blackout had rendered his plans useless. Yunho’s breathing, on the other hand, was steady and silent, although Jaejoong couldn’t really tell if he had fallen asleep or not.
He soon got his confirmation, when suddenly something touched his hand. Quickly, Yunho’s fingers intertwined with his own.
Jaejoong’s breathing hitched, a shiver shooting up his spine, leaving his stomach unsettled and fluttering. Yunho didn’t say a word or move an inch, not indicating in any way that he was actually awake. Jaejoong tried to ease the butterflies in his stomach, attempting to decide whether to pull his hand back, just in case Yunho had gotten into some kind of ideas.
But no matter how long Jaejoong held his breath, nothing happened. The man next to him continued lying down quietly, holding his hand under the covers, fingers snugly fitted between his own.
After a moment Jaejoong braved to shift their hands just a little, but he still couldn’t gather up the courage to squeeze Yunho’s fingers let alone say something. So, he continued lying down, holding the man’s hand as if nothing out of ordinary was going on.
The lightness was just as instant as the darkness had been.
There was a slight buzzing and a click, and then the lights in Jaejoong’s one-room apartment flickered back on.
For a moment, Jaejoong stared at the bright lamp hanging down in the middle of his ceiling. His excuse was that he was trying get his eyes used to the reappeared light, but in reality, he might have been a bit scared to look to his right.
What if the moment was over, what if the magic disappeared and the chauffeur turned back into a mouse, and Yunho would look away and untangle their fingers and quickly draw his hand back with an awkward smile. Jaejoong would offer him an identical one and maybe say something stunted, and Yunho would quickly stand up and yawn as he walked out of Jaejoong’s door, scratching his stomach.
And he would turn around at the last moment and wish Jaejoong good night, because he was a gentleman like that. Then he would disappear, and Jaejoong would never see him again apart form the occasional spotting on the street through his binoculars, and after a year he wouldn’t even remember the night of the blackout.
Jaejoong counted his breaths, concentrating on his slowly raising and falling rib cage, anticipating a clearing of a throat or some kind of clumsy utterance.
But nothing came, until a noise that sounded suspiciously like a snore made Jaejoong finally snap his eyes on the man lying next to him on the thin mattress.
It was the first time Jaejoong got a good look at Yunho’s face, the face of the man he’d befriended, wounded, shared secrets and held hands with, all within barely an hour.
He looked absolutely ridiculous.
There were two wads of bloody paper up the man’s nose, one in each nostril, sticking out haphazardly. Yunho’s mouth was agape, the heavy breaths of a sleeping man hissing through his teeth, turning into slight snores every now and then. There was more blood on his philtrum and upper lip, some even smeared on his cheek. Even Yunho’s eyes weren’t clear of the absolute state of ridiculousness he was in; they were cracked open, showing half of his upturned, white eyeballs.
Jaejoong was stunned, he couldn’t even laugh. Then an exceptionally forceful exhalation made one of the bloody wads in Yunho’s nose shoot out of his nostril. Jaejoong followed the beautiful arc it made in the air before landing on the man’s stomach.
Yunho sniffled, rubbing his nose with his free hand before he turned over to face Jaejoong.
It was no use. Jaejoong chortled, carefully reaching out to tug the other bundle of paper off, as the nosebleed seemed to have ceased. He put both wads on the table before lying back down, staring at the other man’s face. It was still kind of ridiculous, drool starting to drip from the corner of his mouth.
Somehow, the ridiculous sight was in perfect contrast with the man’s earlier smooth, confident behaviour. But somehow, it also fit Yunho perfectly.
His face was beautiful.
Jaejoong continued memorising the man’s face in order to know it as well as he knew the other’s voice by then; and only when Yunho started burrowing his face into the pillow in order to escape the light, Jaejoong finally untangled their hands, slowly standing up before walking over to the switch and turning off the light. He then walked back, feeling around to see where Yunho was lying before carefully laying himself back down right next to the man.
He listened to the other’s peaceful breaths, inching closer until their noses were almost touching; and then he closed his eyes, sighing softly when Yunho’s already familiar, warm smell invaded his nose.
As far as meetings went, Jaejoong had a good feeling about this one.