jaejoong/yoochun, hints of yoochun/changmin; g
AU; 1694 w.
Yoochun tries to forget, but things always come back to the ones you love.
To be honest I'd almost forgotten what it was like to write. Originally posted at 861262 - I won second place! :) Thank you so much to those who voted. ♥
1. Yoochun meets Changmin for the first time in a cafe in Paris. He's serving coffee, hands moving faster than Yoochun would've expected just from looking at him, and Yoochun asks for an espresso, watching him work through half-seeing eyes. Handsome boy, tall, with an expressive, clear face and the furrowing of concentration in his brows. Paris is just as beautiful as Yoochun had always imagined, all lamplight and champagne and street signs and life - the city of lights, of lovers, of everything he had ever wanted it to be. Even the people of it seem somehow different, although only he might see it that way.
He almost jerks when Changmin touches his arm tentatively over the counter, and half-smiles with a quiet, distracted murmur of thanks for the coffee. He doesn't see Changmin watching him as he walks away.
2. He is thinking about what to say to Jaejoong the next time he sees him, even though he's not sure when that will happen. Maybe he can say how are you, but he can imagine the response. Terse silence, or an awkward laugh, and he doesn't know which is worse: the fact that he knows Jaejoong through and through even now, or the fact that Jaejoong knows him just as well.
(Best friends, Yoochun-ah. He hears Jaejoong's words, Jaejoong's laugh. You and me.)
3. By the time Yoochun has been in Paris for three months and thirteen days, his days have found a certain routine. He spends the majority of them either a) holing up in his tiny rented apartment, b) trying to write music, c) going to listlessly spend his time at the coffee shop next to his aforementioned apartment, or d) a combination of any of the above options. He likes to pretend he is being productive when he spends the entire day sitting next to a window in the coffee shop, tapping his pen in odd rhythms, staring at different things at random, occasionally scribbling something down. It's harder to pretend when he's in the apartment, because loneliness sometimes slips into everything he does, and it happens more often when he's alone and trying not to think of anyone who he might miss. (Junsu and his horrible jokes, his laughter; Yunho, even if he doesn't want to, but who wouldn't miss Yunho?; and Jaejoong, always, most of all.)
They had planned to travel the world together, a long time ago. Yoochun was the one Jaejoong had gone to for everything, even when they were very young. It was easier then to not understand why his eyes followed Jaejoong everywhere; why he saw everything, even what was wordless - problems at home, broken hearts. And then, too late for him to stop to think of anything else: Jaejoong's smile, his cheekiness, the dips in his hands.
Yoochun had been sitting in a jazz club where Jaejoong was going to be performing. The digital watch on his wrist had stopped working half an hour ago, but he hadn't taken it off, anxious and nervous and excited for Jaejoong. I'm going to make it big, Yoochun-ah, Jaejoong had told him. This is the first step. And Yoochun believed it - not just the part of him that was hopelessly in love, but all of him, in the way that only best friends do.
Stage-Jaejoong was the same Jaejoong that Yoochun had always known, but there was a difference, as though the stage was where he had grown up and had been all his life. It was where he belonged. Jaejoong sang one of Yoochun's songs beautifully, and when he finished, there was loud applause. Jaejoong's cheeks were flushed with how fiercely he was smiling. To him, it could have been a standing ovation.
Afterwards, Jaejoong slipped outside where Yoochun was waiting, kicking at the sidewalk. He was still smiling. "Did you - did you see that?" Jaejoong's fingers touched Yoochun's thoughtlessly, and Yoochun's pulse was running too fast again.
"Of course I did. I was the one that clapped the loudest," Yoochun had said, his voice sounding odd to his own ears. Jaejoong hadn't seemed to notice.
"They loved your song." Yoochun's eyes automatically looked to the sidewalk when Jaejoong's smile became directed at him. He replied, completely honest: "They loved you." I -- He didn't complete the thought. It was unbidden but somehow not entirely unexpected, and yet still caught Yoochun like a blow to the stomach. He stared at the ground, trying to speak.
Jaejoong was too close, and when he laced his fingers through Yoochun's, Yoochun couldn't - couldn't even breathe. "Jaejoong," he said, miraculously, but why was he speaking? "Jaejoong, I -"
"Yeah?" Jaejoong looked at him through the corner of his eyes, his tiny elusive smile playful at his lips. "Are you going to ask me if you can write my songs when I'm famous? Because sure, Yoochun, of course you can."
"You're an asshole," Yoochun said. But a good friend. He weighed the chances, heart beating almost painfully against his ribs now, wondering, measuring. Friendship, or love? Jaejoong, or - or what? He'd seen the Jaejoong who was in love with the world, in love with girls, but his mind couldn't seem to turn off. He could say something and pretend it was a joke, or... or like it wasn't --
Yoochun spoke like it didn't matter, like his hands weren't shaking. "I love you."
Jaejoong looked at him, unreadable. Once he'd said it, Yoochun couldn't imagine in any way that he could pretend that it didn't matter or that it was one of those stupid things that came out of his mouth when he was tired. Jaejoong was quiet for a very long moment, and then he said, "Yoochun-ah." Another pause swallowed them. Then his fingers seemed to slacken around Yoochun's quivering ones almost imperceptibly. Yoochun wanted to die.
"Jaejoong," Yoochun said, voice rough, scared. He had known it, he had expected it, but it didn't hurt any less.
Jaejoong spoke again before he could say anything else. He didn't look at Yoochun. "I - I'm so sorry. I don't think... what I mean is. I love you, too, Yoochun-ah," and of course he does, Yoochun thought. He felt almost nothing, just a bare, aching emptiness as he watched Jaejoong's compassion speak for him. "But I -"
5. Paris is still lonely, even after the exploring and the bouts of inspired writing and the trying to make friends, which is not successful at all, to be honest, because Yoochun's French is pitiful at it's best. The table he always takes at the cafe seems to become his table, and Yoochun eventually learns the names of the other regulars, half due to his broken French and half due to his wild hand gestures. He doesn't call anyone in Korea once. (He thinks he is allowed at least this much, even though a small, guilty voice in his head says otherwise.)
The boy who had served him coffee the first time he had been here is named Changmin. He's still in college and works here part-time, and when Yoochun learns that he's Korean he can't help but be eager to speak in something he can understand. Changmin is awkward, almost painfully so, but when he eases up, he is funny and clever and he calls Yoochun hyung sometimes, quite sardonically. One day Yoochun ends up inviting him over to his apartment to let him listen to a song he is not done composing, and the one day turns into many days, with different invitations for different reasons. Changmin never says no. Yoochun isn't certain why, but something about Changmin makes him miss home less, even though he can never quite forget.
6. On a rainy day in September, Changmin confesses to Yoochun.
Later, Yoochun remembers the details of the cafe with startling clarity: soft light filtering through the window, the scent of coffee light in the air, the menu's green panels with foreign words on it. Changmin's face still seems very young, his heart lain out bare in the tense lines of his face.
Yoochun doesn't know what to do. What comes out is a murmur of apologies, and this is the part that is blurry in Yoochun's memory later, the part where Changmin excuses himself very quietly and walks out of the cafe, like he had never been there. Yoochun wonders if he'll ever see him again. He wonders if he should follow, if this was how Jaejoong felt, this strange ache that he thinks he shouldn't be feeling because it's just pity and sadness and Changmin deserves so much more than that. He wonders if this thing, this pain, ever stops.
7. Yoochun goes to New York, Tokyo, London, like he's trying to go in a certain direction even though he doesn't know where it leads. Changmin is braver than Yoochun in the way that he doesn't run away again, but it's hard to ignore the way he looks at Yoochun. He doesn't say anything again, and Yoochun wonders if maybe this should have been what he had done.
He still looks for Jaejoong in everything, even after many months pass. In Korea, Jaejoong finally makes it. He's a star, just like Yoochun had always expected, but not quite the same because Jaejoong-the-dream-star loved Yoochun more than this. And Yoochun's selfish, just like he's always been, because he wants everything for Jaejoong, of course he does, but this - he can't even put it into words. Jaejoong's living his dream, singing for thousands of people because this is it, the one thing he could live forever doing. And he's not alone, because he's got so many admirers already and most importantly his friends and family are so proud of him. But that's the part that always shoots something strange straight to the vicinity of Yoochun's lungs, because somehow, Yunho is the one standing next to Jaejoong, and Yoochun is the one who isn't. And Yoochun can't pretend he isn't being an asshole about this, or that it doesn't hurt. He just. He can't stop.