Title: Better (2/2)
Word Count: 2,000+
Summary: If I kiss you where it’s sore, will you feel better?
It’s sunny today.
Jongdae is relaxing in Chanyeol and Baekhyun’s tiny apartment, head hanging over the edge of the cushion and his legs were perched on the back pillows, feet hanging in mid air. A borrowed pair of basketball shorts hang down to reveal more of his small thighs. He’s not doing much of anything, other than listening to Baekhyun blow dry his hair and get ready for class, and then later on a date with his girlfriend Taeyeon.
“So what happened between you two anyway? If it’s okay for me to ask..” Baekhyun’s voice rings out and reaches out towards Jongdae from the small apartment’s bathroom. Jongdae opens his mouth to speak but decides to wait after being interrupted by Baekhyun blowdrying his hair. Sliding down the loveseat, the t-shirt he borrowed from Chanyeol rides up and reveals the smooth, tan skin of his back.
Jongdae grunts as he flips sloppily over onto his stomach and stands up, tiny feet padding over to Chanyeol and Baekhyun's small kitchenette. Pulling a bag of party mix potato chips out from the pantry, Jongdae strains to hear Baekhyun hum sarcastically and hiss when he burns himself a few seconds later. Jongdae smiles, the stubborn bruise on his cheekbone throbbing dully with the upward stretch of his cheeks. The sunlight from the curtainless window streams brightly through and floods the small room. It bounces off of the white walls and the pale wood cabinets and the small matching dining table with only three chairs, giving off a clean, tranquil feeling.
The sound of Baekhyun’s blow dryer on full blast halts.
Baekhyun walks out of the bathroom and over to Jongdae with the brush still in hand, eyes serious and delicate hands on his wide hips. The light flooding in from the window blindingly brightens Baekhyun’s oversized white t-shirt and his pale skin. Before Jongdae can hide the bag of potato chips behind his back and offer a sheepish grin, Baekhyun snatches it out from his hands and digs through the bag, the aluminum inside flashes and reflects light brilliantly, until he finds a chip that hasn't been crushed.
“You know, Jongdae.. It’s not ‘nothing’ if you refuse to go back home.”
Baekhyun obnoxiously, and distractingly, flourishes the hairbrush with each word that passed through his pouting lips. Jongdae looks down at his feet and wiggles his toes; he’s been wearing the same pair of pink Piglet socks since he first slept over three days ago. The colors have dulled, showing how dirty they've become in the short amount of time he's been staying with them.
Baekhyun’s voice is friendly and soft when Jongdae looks back up at him, eyes flicking between the bag of chips and Baekhyun’s eyes until the older feeds him a handful of the potato chips. “Besides, Yeol and I can’t keep doing your laundry or lending you our clothes if you’re going to stay with us for any longer. You can’t keep skipping class either, especially not over some dumb rich kid, okay? So go get some clothes and your books when you know he won’t be home, alright?”
Nodding, Jongdae wraps his thin arms around Baekhyun’s waist and chews loudly into the other’s ear. Baekhyun’s short black hair tickles Jongdae’s nose and the bruise on his cheekbone. Baekhyun pats his back and rubs it soothingly before stepping away and wiping his dirty hands on his t-shirt.
Jongdae watches Baekhyun roam back into the bathroom, and then stroll back out and into his bedroom, presumably to get dressed for the day. The unplugged blow dryer is in one hand and the hair brush in the other. Baekhyun shuts the door with his hip but misses and ends up slamming it closed with his butt.
It isn't long before Baekhyun walks back out of his bedroom, dressed in no doubt one of Chanyeol's sweatshirts and a pair of black jeans. Jongdae has once again resumed his position lounging upside down on the loveseat. When Jongdae opens his mouth to speak, Baekhyun is already halfway out of the door.
"I really, really like staying here with you and Chanyeol, Baek."
Almost instinctively Baekhyun rushes over to give Jongdae a small peck on the forehead. He smiles luminously at the upside down Jongdae, "We really really like having you here, too.", and steps toward the open door and out of the apartment. Jongdae stays frozen in his spot, still splayed upside down.
Fifteen minutes later, Jongdae flops over and onto his stomach. The dark rug is rough and scratches against his soft skin with Jongdae’s phone rings at the same time he bumps his head against the bottom of the loveseat. Gurgling loudly in the quiet freedom of the quaint apartment, Jongdae checks the caller ID. He answers immediately when he notices it’s Kyungsoo, excited to have someone new to whine to. However, when he slides his thumb across the screen and places his cell phone on the side of his head against his ear, he’s met with Kyungsoo’s deadpan voice.
“Hyung, go back home and tell Joonmyeon-hyung that he messed up and that you forgive him or whatever. I don’t know what’s going on or what happened but he’s been bothering me and making me hang out with him and Kwanghee and Kwanghee makes me uncomfortable. So do something about it.”
Jongdae twists his body so he faces the ceiling at an angle. The thought that Joonmyeon would leave his studies and go hang out with Kwanghee bother’s Jongdae more than he’d like to admit. He wants to whine loudly into the receiver and pout his way out of this conversation, but this is Do Kyungsoo, and Do Kyungsoo doesn’t fall for Jongdae’s antics, no matter how cute or annoying they may be. But he is patient as he waits for Jongdae to reply; he is patient as he listens to Jongdae shuffle and roll around the floor in his own way of quietly whining. Jongdae sighs, “But Soo.. I can’t.”
Kyungsoo hums. His voice is sweet, warm honey, thick and comforting in all the right ways. ”Not yet?”
Jongdae nods despite knowing Kyungsoo can’t see him do so. His voice is as small as he is when he replies, “Not yet.”
“You know, you can’t keep running away from this.”
“I know.” Jongdae nods once more, fingers toying with the small pieces of lint that blended in with the rug he was laying on.
Jongdae's voice remains small and slightly muted as Kyungsoo changes the topic and proceeds to talk about how boring his lecture today was and how Chanyeol would not stop throwing tiny paper balls at him or leave him alone. Even though Kyungsoo knows Jongdae's heart isn't in the conversation, he allows it when Jongdae tries hard to laugh and reply at all the right moments. Eventually Jongdae dozes off listening to Kyungsoo’s smooth voice as he begins ranting about whatever crosses his mind at the time.
The sound of Chanyeol's booming, laughing voice and jingling keys stir Jongdae from his cat nap. He lifts his head to watch the clumsy giant waddle through the door with a blush high on his cheeks, chattering loudly and gleefully into his cell phone. Chanyeol quiets down with a sheepish grin when he notices Jongdae’s cheeks flushed a pretty pink and caramel hair tousled from sleep. “Sorry Minseok-hyung, I have to go cook for Jongdae because he just woke up and probably hasn’t eaten all day. I’ll talk to you later though, right?”
Chanyeol’s widen when Minseok ignores his farewell and replies, asking why he has to cook for Jongdae. “Oh..uh, well, Jongdae’s staying over for a couple days so we can study for finals together!” The giant abruptly turns his gaze towards Jongdae, motioning wildly for him to help, when Minseok skeptically asks why Jongdae has to stay over with him and asks to speak to his brother. But Jongdae is still far too groggy and comfortable laying on the floor, one of Baekhyun’s softest blankets strewn over him haphazardly; the older must have put it on him before leaving for his date.
“Uh! Well, I think he fell asleep again- you know how he is-but I’ll tell him to call you back when he wakes up again. Okay, bye Minseok-hyung!” Chanyeol’s voice cracks and raises in pitch with every other word that comes out of his mouth, and although Minseok is one of the worst liars out of their group of friends, Chanyeol is being outstandingly obvious. Chanyeol chucked his cell phone onto the cushion of the loveseat after sliding his thumb across the screen to end the call, cutting Minseok off.
Satisfied with how he ended the call, Chanyeol plops onto the floor next to Jongdae. Petting and running long fingers through Jongdae’s tangled hair, Chanyeol doesn’t bother to speak for a while and just watches as Jongdae plays with the bottom hem of his borrowed shirt, continuously stretching it out as far as it can go and releasing it. Despite it being one of Chanyeol’s most expensive t-shirts he’d gotten when his favorite band went on tour, he doesn’t yell at Jongdae.
“How’re you doing?”
He meant for his voice to be hushed and soothing, but Chanyeol has always been far too loud for such things. Instead his voice comes out as a harsh whisper that wakes Jongdae up even further as he began drifting off once more, but Jongdae knows he means well and he knows that Chanyeol tries hard in everything he does. Jongdae shrugs and pulls himself up, placing his head onto Chanyeol’s lap.
“I’m okay I guess. ‘M feeling the same as yesterday.” Chanyeol hums in understanding before pulling himself up and replacing his lap with a pillow underneath Jongdae’s head. Shrugging off his jacket and his pullover sweater, Chanyeol looks down at Jongdae, who looked as comfortable as he could be after falling asleep on the floor.
“Do you want me to cook anything specific? Baek won’t be eating with us tonight, so we can have whatever.”
Burrowing deeper into the warm cocoon of the rather large blanket, only a small tuft of his hair peeks out through the top. Mumbling to Chanyeol that the giant can cook whatever he wants, Jongdae curls into a ball and shuts his eyes, ready to go back to sleep. A couple of minutes later Jongdae feels Chanyeol poke at his torso with his socked foot and pops his head out of the hole at the top most part of the blanket cocoon.
Chanyeol has a wooden spoon in one hand, grains of steaming brown rice stuck to the utensil, and waves it around wildly with every other word said. The other is resting on his hip. Jongdae isn’t sure how long he had dozed off, but it must have been enough for Chanyeol to switch into a pair of sweats and a black wifebeater. The scene reminds him of when Baekhyun had done the same earlier this morning.
“Baek told me that you’re not allowed to sleep anymore because you have to go get some stuff from your apartment while Joonmyeon-hyung is out, so hop to it, pissbaby.”
Jongdae prepares himself to mention that Joonmyeon’s probably home since all he has is one morning class on Wednesdays and that he’d go get his stuff tomorrow when Joonmyeon has an afternoon class or something, but before he can even start speaking, Chanyeol whips his phone out of his pocket and shows a text from Kyungsoo telling Chanyeol that Kwanghee had dragged him and Joonmyeon out to Times Square like some “dumb tourist.” Jongdae more or less throws a fit as he thrashes around on the flour and wiggles his legs into the air, voice high pitched and characteristically whiny. He gradually settles down as he notices Chanyeol’s grave expression, Jongdae feels shame and embarrassment bloom red across his cheeks and the tips of his ears.
“Jongdae you can’t keep acting like this, man. Stop being so immature. We’re not even asking you to talk to the dumb guy, just get whatever you need to get and come back. Kyungsoo said that they’re going out so it’s not like you’re gonna see him anyway.”
Sighing quietly, Jongdae wiggles his way out of the blanket cocoon and grabs onto Chanyeol’s wrist, slowly pulling himself up. Without a word, Jongdae picks up Chanyeol's keys from the round coffee table near the door, slips a pair of sneakers onto his feet and walks out of the door. The jingle of Chanyeol’s keys to the apartment as Jongdae locks the door is light and airy.
"You're not supposed to be here.."
Despite the fact that he's in the center of the room, Jongdae feels cornered, trapped, staring up at Joonmyeon’s silhouette in the doorway. He had been in the middle of stuffing as much as he could possibly fit into a duffle bag he had found in their coat closet. Belatedly, he realizes it was given to Joonmyeon as a gift from the man’s father when he feels the expensive leather on one of the straps. Joonmyeon’s father had hoped he’d get into golf during his free time instead of spending whatever free time he had with Jongdae.
Jongdae finds it funny how the duffle bag Joonmyeon had thrown far into the back of their coat closet in an act of rebellion towards his father’s distaste for Jongdae, is now serving to keep him as far away from Joonmyeon as possible for as long as it can.
Joonmyeon doesn’t answer Jongdae and instead rushes over to pull him into a tight embrace. Jongdae is sure Joonmyeon means for it to be a warm embrace, the kind that they used to share often, but all he feels is uncomfortable and scared. Joonmyeon whispers harsh apologies into the dips of Jongdae’s collarbones, into the curve of his jawline. He runs his hands rapidly over Jongdae’s body, caressing his shoulders and his back. But every touch feels like acid burning and bubbling at his skin, eating away as his resolve to leave, to stay away from Joonmyeon until he feels better about this whole mess.
But Jongdae’s not sure if any of this was a mess to begin with, he’s not sure if he’s just trying to run away from Joonmyeon just to do it. Or if he even has a reason behind doing so. He knows he forgave Joonmyeon the moment the elder had opened his mouth to apologize for hitting him, but he’d run out of their apartment despite the fact, had made Joonmyeon suffer and worry despite the fact. Had, for the first time in his life, run away from Joonmyeon instead of towards him.
Jongdae is stiff, feels even more uncomfortable, guilty, and at odds with himself as seconds tick by and Joonmyeon’s small hands grip tightly onto the dip of his waist and as he places tiny apologetic pecks on the smooth skin of his neck and collarbones. Jongdae keeps his sight trained on the light flooding through the doorway into his bedroom when Joonmyeon smiles sweetly up at him, eyes crinkling adorably into half moons. His small nose and smooth cheeks are flushed a pretty and delicate pink.
“I missed you.”
It takes no more than two minutes for Jongdae to turn into a blubbering mess, holding tightly onto Joonmyeon and hiding his face in the junction between his neck and shoulder. Jongdae tries to fit all of his remorse, regret, and guilt into two words but he’s sobbing so much that he’s not able to properly apologize for how he’d been acting, for making Joonmyeon worry, for annoying and irritating Joonmyeon when he should have been helping. Instead, he settles for clinging to the back of Joonmyeon’s pale pink pullover sweater and wiping his snot all over the soft material.