Fire in the fireplace: softly crackling, dancing on tiles. Classical violin on the stereo, a sad soliloquy sung in minor chords. She isn’t wailing, she is crying into her hands. Lacrimosa, but not Mozart’s. Perhaps it’s a Ghibli soundtrack. Changkyun can paint the concerto in the air with his hand, and he doubts Hyungwon can name the artists he puts on shuffle.
It’s grey outside, the middle of spring. Thick clouds, white glow on the stone-laid pavement in front of the mansion, and orange glow on paper of the book Hyungwon is reading on the couch by the fireplace. Black velvet, golden damask roses on the cushions, but the arms are leather. Soft carpet, also dark, and curtains swung to the side, black as the night. The piano flows into the violin’s cry when Changkyun enters the living room.
Hyungwon glances up at him, a gentle curl of a smile in the corners of his lips, and uncrosses his legs. Black suit pants, a blouse with a frilly collar, and black waves of hair lay on his shoulders. Changkyun feels anachronistic in his dwelling, listening to the stereo though Hyungwon hears live musicians in his head. A glass of red wine on the antique console table.
Changkyun settles between Hyungwon’s legs and lays his head on his knee. Fingers coiled around each other on his lap, he looks up with careful eyes, observes a puff of softness melt between Hyungwon’s lips. Changkyun’s face pales with the glow of the spring outside, and he lightly rubs it on Hyungwon’s leg for warmth.
“Have you been thinking about my show on Sunday?” Changkyun asks, anticipation for a positive answer sparkling like stars in his eyes.
Hyungwon smiles gently. There’s fondness about his every gesture that Changkyun yearns for with a hand wrapping around the lean muscle above his knee. “I have,” he says, his voice quiet like crackling fire. He takes a pause before he speaks again, admires Changkyun like his precious little thing. “I hope the weather will be good for me to drive.”
Miles and miles of a winding road through the forest, past mansions with courtyards like their own cities, past highways and gas stations where a Maybach stands out and an old Mercedes-Benz of 1980 simply won’t park, past towering concretes and blinding lights, and there his baby boy is working his heart out to tell Hyungwon about later, by the fireplace under the ornamental cornice. It’s a scenic drive, but rather exhausting for an old homebody, and the time wasted between silent commuting is full of heart-wrenching anguish.
Changkyun caresses Hyungwon’s knee with a thumb, angles his head just so to look up at Hyungwon through his lashes. Daylight on his skin, but in his eyes is a night-sky reflection of Hyungwon’s fatigue.
“Won’t you come, Daddy?” Changkyun murmurs, and the syllables of Hyungwon’s name reverberate lowly in his chest and rebound confidently against his teeth.
Hyungwon sets the book on his lap and puts his finger between the pages like a bookmark to close it and forget about it momentarily so he can weave his hand into Changkyun’s hair. “I will, baby,” he murmurs back, and his voice is thick with sentiments like a pillow is thick with cotton. His eyes draw into crescent as his cheeks puff, and he is mindless with his own admiration, not quite thinking about what Changkyun is asking him to do, but just thinking about Changkyun as he is.
Small between his legs, like the faint accompaniment of the piano on the quietened speakers. Careful eyes, not quite darkening with understanding, but rather putting some of the stars to sleep until they have the energy to shine with neediness again.
Wrapping the second hand around his thigh, Changkyun nuzzles closer, blinks slowly in tune to the tender fingertips on his scalp, sighs with every receding thought in Hyungwon’s head. He is firm on the floor, but he needs more grounding to bring him back to earth.
“I made a playlist of modern composers I thought you might like,” Changkyun says. “Do you like it, Daddy?”
Hyungwon’s smiles always ease and then stretch again when he is reacting to Changkyun, lips never firm in a narrow line. So he stretches another agreeing smile and nods. “I’m enjoying it, baby,” he says, voice now bubbling at the back of his throat with sleep. Perhaps he hasn’t noticed how long he’s been sitting there, the sun setting later now that it’s spring, and there is no bell ring anymore to notify him of the hour.
Changkyun closes his eyes and smiles, only lightly, skin folding around a little dimple in the corner of his mouth. He shifts to plant a kiss on Hyungwon’s clothed knee and lays his cheek back on the warmth his lips left there. Hyungwon’s hand slips from his hair.
“What are you reading?” Changkyun asks.
That slipped hand finds its place on the cover of an decrepit, archaic edition, his sedate fingers stroking the golden letters. “The Betrothed,” he answers a little belatedly, “Manzoni.”
“Italian,” Changkyun notes. Hyungwon hums. “How is it?”
“Fascinating. If only a little difficult to grasp the geographical concept of the time.”
Changkyun chuckles. His fingers start mindlessly pawing at Hyungwon’s leg. “I thought you were in your phrase of rereading Victorian classics.”
It’s Hyungwon’s turn to chuckle next, and his lips flatten around a smile, shy with endearment. “I guess I grew a little tired of English gentlemen in top hats and the altercations with what was then considered the New World.”
His voice is stuffy as is his nose, and Changkyun misses the sun and the greenery and the birds chirping early in the morning when he is practicing music scales by an opened window. It’s doubtful Hyungwon misses the summer, as he is much more fond of cozy evenings by the lit fireplace than grill dinners in his patio. Red wine to warm his frigid chest, white wine to soothe his heated head.
“I want to go to Italy,” Changkyun drawls, looking to the side at vining patterns on the dark wallpaper.
Hyungwon also looks to the side, gentle eyes misting as he searches for a memory to retell. “It’s beautiful,” he says. “Once we stayed in a little town on Lake Como for about a month. There is always fresh fish and ice cream parlours on every corner.” He then casts his eyes down on Changkyun, silently asking for an approval to tell a story if Changkyun so wishes, but instead loses his train of thought when he finds the distraction in the soft outline his baby’s face acquires when his sunken cheek squishes against his knee.
“What’s ice cream in Italian?”
“Gelato,” Hyungwon replies, and Changkyun earnestly laughs. He doesn’t explain it, only interlaces his fingers tighter on Hyungwon’s leg.
“Let’s go to Italy sometime, Daddy,” Changkyun asks as he straightens, leans in just a little closer to show Hyungwon the newfound stars in his eyes.
Hyungwon mellows out again, of course, and places a hand on the side of his face, draws the outline of his pretty ear with his thumb. “Alright, Changkyunnie,” he says softly. Changkyun rises on his knees so Hyungwon can leave a kiss on his lips.
Sweetness in his touches. Astringent wine and bitter lips, but his ever-present disbelief in Changkyun’s affection makes every touch impossibly sweet. Hyungwon has always been like this, pacing around instead of coming on strong, ducking his head instead of leaning forward, softly humming with resignation instead of scoffing pretentiously whenever Changkyun gets too much in his head.
Hyungwon doesn’t scold him for it. He takes that time of silence to admire Changkyun with all the tight corners of his little mouth and frigid edges of his dark eyes, and he lowers his own droopy gaze when Changkyun catches him staring. His tight corners slack into a grin, and his little tongue flicks between his square front teeth with another Daddy he drawls out to tease.
Those long pale fingers find a purpose. Find purchase. And Changkyun will turn himself liquid if it means Hyungwon can cup him in his hands.
He may fall right through his fingers, soak up his skin and dry out without a trace, but Hyungwon is oblivious to the fact that he doesn’t let Changkyun drift away. Hyungwon holds onto him like he doesn’t ever want to let go, and there shouldn’t even be a ‘like’ – he holds onto him because he doesn’t ever want to let go, and he grips his thighs and grips his wrists, and he probably doesn’t even realise he’s doing it because Changkyun’s eyes are misted with gratitude. Reverent, he arches into Hyungwon and only three exhales later processes the solitude in his request.
Those gentle hands caress his face and his hair and intertwine their fingers together. Hyungwon’s hands are delicate, things slip out of them as if his bones are so fragile he’s afraid to put too much pressure on them, but onto Changkyun he grasps with the strength of a man living to the last of his chronic heartbeat.
It used to be ill, his heartbeat. Hyungwon hovered. Brittle bones under pale skin that Changkyun had to squeeze to prove to him they were as strong as Changkyun’s. And when Hyungwon believed him, he grasped tight. A little victory it was to Changkyun. Eyes full of wonder, as if Hyungwon was a ghost who acquired a corporeal form after two hundred years of restless roaming, he grasped onto Changkyun and tasted his skin on his teeth.
It felt so grounding.
And now every time Changkyun whispers, “Daddy,” it grounds him to the silk sheets and velvet headboard and damask canopy. And it’s the deepest shade of rose, carnation pink and silver and gold, and everything is so down-saturated as if a winter filter permanently lays in Hyungwon’s Rococo chamber. Light pastels to ease his heavy soul.
The call of his name urges Hyungwon to raise his eyes from where he kept them gliding along the lines of Changkyun’s stomach. Awed. Full of wonder.
“Kiss me,” Changkyun exhales lowly, and Hyungwon bends down and kisses him on the navel, on his lower stomach, on his hip bone, on his thigh, on his knee. Curled between his legs, Hyungwon holds his hips, sucks a mark on the inside of his thigh, traces the bone of his knee with the tips of his fingertips. Changkyun throws his arms over his head out of habit, connects his wrists, arches towards the tall canopy – a pretty boy for his pretty daddy who loves him more than anything in the world.
When Hyungwon goes down on him, it’s as earnest as a man can be. He takes him in his mouth and doesn’t take him out, sucks down slowly as if Changkyun is made of sugar and spice and all the things nice, of cotton candy and marshmallows, and when Hyungwon looks up at him, timid eyes pleading for reaction, Changkyun melts into the sheets like a s’more.
Thumbs dig firmly into his hip bones, don’t let Changkyun push into Hyungwon’s mouth, and Changkyun doesn’t have to – wants to, but listens well to his daddy’s language – I’ll please you, and you lie down and moan pretty for me.
He tries very hard to listen well. He clutches his fingers into little fists above his head and listens: to his heart and the sounds at the back of Hyungwon’s throat. He listens to teeth on the soft pouch of his thighs and to the fingers inside him, fragile fingers that stroke him as if he is no bigger than a little kitten, puffy tummy and pink bean toes and downturned mouth and all.
So gentle that it settles heavy in Changkyun’s chest, tugs on the strings that are stretched taut from his heart to his head, strings that scrape on everything between them. He exhales impatiently, rolls his hips on Hyungwon’s three fingers and digs his heels into his back, and Hyungwon shushes him and swathes his dick in hot air.
Sometimes there are tunes playing in his head – not quite live musicians, but theories. Changkyun arches and imagines he reaches for something higher, something beyond the sheer canopy, but Hyungwon focuses on a little scab on the flesh of his ass that’s squished under his thighs and practices the politest offer to apply a cream on it himself. He kisses Changkyun there, and Changkyun’s face feels crooked.
“Daddy,” he breathes out, and Hyungwon unfurls himself between his legs.
Hands on Changkyun’s hips, Hyungwon slides inside him, doesn’t lean over him, but stares at the way his length disappears inside Changkyun with a slap of wet skin. His baby is so pretty that a scary thought comes to him – if Changkyun goes on another diet, Hyungwon would be able to poke the front of his rippled tummy with his dick.
And it makes him wonder, makes him fuck Changkyun even slower, so as to save his collapsing lungs and imprint the last of his baby’s body moving behind his eyelids. Changkyun writhes with a series of whines, though they are low and demanding in his throat, and all that’s collapsing is Hyungwon’s face with a smile.
Changkyun has to remind himself of that sometimes; that there is no skyfall, that nothing is crumbling. That there is just Hyungwon, his longing eyes and his mellow voice that draws out another pretty, pretty baby.
He lives in his own time, Hyungwon, he wanders through space as if he can afford to blink for several seconds at a time. And it makes Changkyun sniffle, reach for his daddy and call him onto him, beg him to fuck him harder because, god, Changkyun wants it so much, needs it so much, wants to come from Hyungwon’s hands and mouth and body so bad, and Hyungwon tames him with a kiss on his lips.
Puffy lips on that slick and open mouth, incompatible, but that’s only because Changkyun perceives his pleasure as fire, and Hyungwon – as water. In a kiss Hyungwon draws the pattern of ‘I love you’ against Changkyun’s lips.
“Please,” Changkyun passes to his mouth in reply, and in this whisper he gathers all his torment, all desperation that hasn’t subsided since the day they met. Acutely feeling everything in the moment of pleasure, Changkyun scratches down his back and urges, scared Hyungwon will disappear, scared the time will take Hyungwon away before he makes Changkyun come, but Hyungwon fucks him like he wants the moment to last for as long as possible.
Because he knows that won’t happen. Nothing can happen in the vacuum of their bedroom – not when the definition of it becomes plural.
When Changkyun orgasms, it’s in Hyungwon’s hand, and when Hyungwon does, it’s with Changkyun’s tongue smearing all their drool between their mouths.
That’s what’s so addicting, isn’t it, Changkyun thinks then. The emotional sex he’s never had the luxury to share before. Hyungwon makes him feel so good. Experienced hands, experienced mouth, and it makes him giggle a little as Hyungwon scoops him in his arms and pecks the crown of his head.
Quiet cuddles, listening to each other’s breathing, inhaling each other’s afterglow warmth. Changkyun turns chatty in those moments, when the dusk sways over the pale ceiling and bathes them in intimate shadows.
“I’ll tell you about a little dream of mine,” Changkyun murmurs into Hyungwon’s neck. His dream is a little obvious, at his age he isn’t dreaming of much, but Hyungwon heeds his every word even with a pillow muffling one of his ears.
“I want to open my own jazz club one day.”
He hears Hyungwon smile before he speaks. “I’ll buy you a jazz club.”
Changkyun chuckles and shuffles on the pillows to be with Hyungwon on the same level. His eyes are closed but they open slightly when he feels Changkyun look at him. “No, no. I have to do it myself. Earn for it myself. So it’s my own.”
Hyungwon closes his eyes again and melts with another smile, hugs Changkyun closer. “My Changkyunnie is so hardworking, so talented.” Changkyun laughs giddily at this. Hyungwon scatters his compliments everywhere, mindless mumblings that come from the depth of his whole heart. “My baby, the best there is.”
Slurred and sleepy, on the verge of dozing off. Quickly getting tired, Hyungwon’s fingers that Changkyun didn’t notice were clutching him around the waist, grow looser.
“Sleepy?” Changkyun asks.
Hyungwon hums in the reply. A swish of the canopy by the sides of the bed.
Changkyun makes a move to get up, to swing the curtains close and turn off the little light they have, but Hyungwon presses his fingers into his skin all of a sudden, thin arms unbudging over his body.
“Shh, stay,” he mumbles.
He mumbles and doesn’t say anything else, only speaks with the growing touch, and his closed eyes seem to close tighter, as if even in the dark he is trying to hide from something, surrounds himself in the darkness more pleasant than the one behind his eyelids.
“To turn off the lights.”
“Turn them off after I’m asleep,” Hyungwon whispers, and Changkyun listens. Can’t help but listen well, and he watches Hyungwon fall into a sightless dream and lets the sun set behind the window frames without moving an inch.
In moments like these Changkyun listens to jazz in his head, Armstrong and Sinatra, and the bed is welcoming him in echoes of Hyungwon’s name that grounds him to one place and eases the bass strings by the end of the melody.
But some moments are solemn.
Too heavy for the blues, that even the fire in the fireplace is no longer dancing. When Hyungwon sits by the window, shirt collar high on his neck and arms loosely wrapped around his knees, Changkyun stays not because it’s easy but because it’s hard.
Though Hyungwon doesn’t talk, Changkyun talks for him. Practices a solo on the piano in the living room, where he can see his daddy but his daddy can’t see him behind the open lid. It’s black and polished, painfully unused, and Changkyun presses his fingers down until they are sweaty.
Pale light lays on Hyungwon’s face, and his long hair lays on the sides of his face, too, that Changkyun only plays harder to stomp out the urge to walk up and tuck a strand of hair behind his ear.
Hyungwon wistfully gazes out of the window like some tragic figure of Romantic literature, merging with the walls of his mansion and yet so out of place everywhere else in the world. He is beautiful. Even drowned in melancholy and reminiscing for the time long gone by, he is beautiful beyond human understanding with all his strange curves and edges. He is so strange. A phantom in the modern times, and he makes Changkyun sad as much as he makes him happy.
Please ground me, Daddy, Changkyun wants to say, but doesn’t because holding onto Hyungwon’s fingers is not the same as Hyungwon’s fingers holding onto him. Changkyun muses as he plays, and now it’s the unfinished composition grounding him to his place because otherwise it’s too hard when it gets like this.
No, no, he knows. He knows Hyungwon is bound to him. His daddy would rather step over his own dead body than let his baby go, but it doesn’t stop Changkyun from being scared of this attachment because he’s scared Hyungwon will slip away.
He is so easy to lose between the fingers.
And not because he doesn’t love Changkyun enough, no – all the love he has in his fragile heart he wraps around Changkyun such that he is all he ever loves.