Jaejoong/Changmin, Yunho/everyone, Yoochun/Junsu, etcetera; rated PG for now; drama, romance, angst, general. ghost!universe! \o/
He thinks, in his most secret thoughts that he will never mention out loud or admit that he is having - he thinks it might be a ghost that's in his apartment, a ghost that's haunting him.
For trolleys. :DD beta'd by my buddy kayjayloves! mwuah, I love you both. ♥
important: what this is going to be is a series of one-shots that may or may not be related to each other, each set in the ghost!universe. :'D not really sure about the future of this thing, but I'll try my best with it. I just have vague ideas for it, currently.
It's been two months since Changmin moved into his new apartment. It's not really that new, actually, but the rent is cheap and it's close to his university. He's not sure whether he likes it there; it gets chilly at night and Changmin wouldn't mind if there was more space, but it's not as bad as it could be, and Changmin's looking for convenience, not something that fits his tastes.
Changmin tries not to think about the other reason that makes him uncertain about whether or not he likes his apartment. Sometimes, he wakes up in the middle of the night, and his bedroom door is just a little ajar. (Enough for someone to glance in through, Changmin finds himself thinking, and he pushes the thought away just as quickly.) He always makes it a point to close it before he goes to bed, but it's not just that - sometimes his bathroom light is left on, or the lamp on his desk has been knocked over, or the window of his bedroom is open. Changmin sees light filtering underneath his eyelids when he is in his bed, hears the noise his lamp makes as it falls over swiftly, feels cool air and imagines his pale curtains fluttering in the moonlight. He comes up with a few scenarios; robbers in the middle of the night, someone playing pranks on him, anything but what it really is. But Changmin's smart and Changmin knows – what sort of robber would come again and again to take nothing and who would go to lengths to do these things repeatedly?
Eventually, he stops fixing the little things, stops picking up the lamp and closing the window and the door and turning out the lights, and instead he tries to ignore it, because he's just imagining this. It's not possible that there's something else in his apartment, something that he thinks he hears singing when he's in the shower and something that leaves the smell of kimchi and an almost imperceptible sense of decay wherever it drifts, faded but there like the glow of city lights from a building so far you can barely see them. Changmin clenches his eyes against it and tries to bury himself under his covers, but he's not hiding; he's waiting for it to leave, because he can't see it, can't fight it, so the only thing he can do it wait. He's admitted it to himself, now, that even if it's not possible, it's happening, anyway - there is something there, and Changmin knows it with the certainty in that he knows that he is not the one that leaves windows and doors open, with the same certainty in that he knows that this isn't normal.
Changmin cannot sleep because of the smell of kimchi and the whispers of song, and when he does sleep, he dreams of nightingales and white, and then of shadows and fog; he dreams that he's stuck in the middle, trying to get to one or the other, but he can't move because he's been chained to the center. He dreams and he sees a road that's familiar but different, and it's the road that's outside his apartment, Changmin realizes, but it ends somewhere beyond where Changmin's eyes can see it go. He sees a young man in the middle of the road, with ash-black hair and bright eyes and smiling lips, but then the man is transformed into a little boy and he's crying, fading away into the air like he was never there at all.
Changmin wakes up screaming even though there was nothing gruesome about the dream, but he thinks that there was something painful about it, even though now the memory of it is escaping him faster than the carbon dioxide from his body. He shivers and tries to go back to sleep, gives up on holding the remnants of the dream because now all he can remember is white and black, nightingales and shadows.
He thinks, in his most secret thoughts that he will never mention out loud or admit that he is having - he thinks it might be a ghost that's in his apartment, a ghost that's haunting him. Changmin wants to ask, why this apartment? Why him? It's making him forget how to sleep, forget how to learn (because Changmin's forgetting in class, too, when he's thinking about whether or not his window will be open when he gets home). So why him.
Changmin sees his neighbor, Yunho, look at him with unreadable eyes because there’s something about Changmin that has changed, but Yunho doesn't question and Changmin doesn't answer. They've never really talked, anyway, except for in passing, even in the days that Changmin felt there might've been something different between them. That is why it surprises him when one day, Yunho asks Changmin to come over to his apartment; Yoochun and Junsu are coming over, Changmin knows them, right? Yes, he knows them, no, he won't come over, thank you for offering, but university keeps him busy. Yunho doesn't argue, smiles like a gentleman, and Changmin tries to replicate the look but he's forgotten how to do that, too.
Somehow, he ends up going, anyway. Changmin enters the apartment politely, takes his shoes off like a good guest and puts them neatly next to Yunho's, even though there are two pairs already setting an example, thrown around haphazardly, not quite fitting in with the rest of Yunho's clean home. He walks into the living room with Yunho and sees Yoochun and Junsu on the floor, eyes glued to the television and hands glued to their remote controls, shouting occasionally that no, don’t go down that path, stupid Mario had to get in the way –
Changmin is startled that he feels like it’s been months since he’s seen them even though it’s been perhaps two weeks. He is startled that they look so young, and it makes him realize that he’s begun to feel tired, old. He is startled that he barely knows them now, when before they were almost friends. He is the most startled of all when his eyes catch sight of a picture on the wall that has Yunho, Yoochun and Junsu in it, all laughing and happy and vulnerable, and shoved in between them is a boy with ash-black hair and bright eyes that Changmin thinks he’s seen before. He feels very sick, all of a sudden, so sick that he is almost sent to his knees from the shudder of something unnamable that runs through his body. He tells Yunho that he has to get home, he isn’t feeling very well. Yoochun and Junsu hover over him in concern and (they still think they’re friends) it only makes Changmin want to get out of there sooner. Yunho lets him go in return for promises that he’ll take Advil, go to sleep, feel better. Changmin feels so sick that he doesn’t feel Yunho’s eyes boring into his back as he leaves.
He nearly falls through the doorway of his apartment after fumbling for five minutes with the keys, and then he goes straight to the bathroom rather than to the medicine cabinet like he’d said he would to Yunho, but that’s the furthest thing on his mind at the moment. His breathing is harsh and ragged – for a few minutes, he hovers over the sink, wondering if he’ll throw up, but when he doesn’t, he puts his forehead against the cool mirror for a while, trying to ward off the sudden spell of dizziness. Every part of him is on fire and Changmin is thinking that maybe he should have gone to the medicine cabinet after all, but he goes under the shower instead, turns it on to cold and tries to watch his fear go down the drain. He strips slowly and when he’s beginning to feel human again, when he’s starting to feel the cold settle into his bones, he turns the water to as hot as it will go without scorching him. (He wonders what it is that he’s trying to clean himself of.)
The bathroom is warm and wet and full of steam when Changmin gets out at last, and he towels off slowly but rubs as hard as he can, leaving patches of skin glowing red as he goes. He’s pulled on a pair of boxers and sweatpants by the time some of the steam has disappeared off the mirror, but he’s still a little surprised when he sees his reflection, when he sees that he looks different. He moves closer to the mirror and leaves fingerprints in what’s left of the steam, then watches them fade as though they never existed with a calmness that has appeared as suddenly as the sick feeling disappeared. He leaves the bathroom and goes into his bedroom.
There is a young man with ash-black hair and bright eyes that are hidden under heavy eyelids lying on Changmin’s bed. He is reading a book – Changmin’s philosophy book, the same book that Changmin can see is lying on his nightstand. He doesn’t look up. Changmin still feels calm, and something inside him tells him that this means he will not be very calm soon.
He says, politely, “Hello, I’m Shim Changmin. Are you the ghost who’s been haunting my apartment?”
The ghost looks at Changmin and drops the book onto his stomach. It disappears into thin air. Changmin guesses that this means that he is the ghost that has been haunting Changmin’s apartment, after all.