I've been watching for the signs
Took a trip to clear my mind
And now I'm even more lost
He loves to write. The pen fits perfectly between his fingertips, and he can taste the words and hear them before the pen touches the paper.
More specifically, he writes to Kyungsoo. He drags the pen across the paper in intricate cursive and fancy loops and dots of the ‘I’’s. He tries to translate just how much he misses him into the three (sometimes more) pages of thought out confessions and well worn out testimonies of “I’ll be home soon, love.”
It’s raining outside, and from where he’s seated on his bed, with the curtains drawn back from the window, he can see the Eiffel Tower. Standing in all her glory and fine carving.
A sight to see, they say.
He can hear his manager yelling into the phone through their jointed doors, and presses the pen harder to the paper. He wonders if Jonghyun is still with Kibum (they break up three times a month, usually) and how Jongin’s proposal to Soojung went (that is, if he grew a bigger set of balls to do it of course).
He supposes that’s why he writes, about Kyungsoo, to Kyungsoo. When he’s travel drained and his bones feel like jello, and his mind doesn’t know what the fuck time is. It’s grown so bad, loneliness is like an emotion to him now, like happy was (before he got discovered and named the best pianist in the entire world).
He stares at the Eiffel Tower a bit longer, wishes Kyungsoo and the baby were there with him; Vanilla shampoo staining the foreign pillows, and his snores cancelling out the rain.
He writes this down, and then signs it, like he always does.
I’ll be home soon, love. Tell Taesun that I love him, and don’t let Minho go through our drawers. You remember what happened last time?
Been having conversations about break-ups and separations
I'm not feeling like myself since the baby
Are we gonna even make it?
“Did I wake you?” Taemin speaks into the phone clearly, awake and mewling over his latest concert recital in his head. “I’m sorry.”
Kyungsoo breathes softly into the speaker, “No, you didn’t. It’s alright, Taesun’s gonna be up soon anyway, won’t get much rest, he never seems to sleep well unless you’re home.” Taemin hears the sound of sheets rustling before the creak of a door opening off in the distance and he knows Kyungsoo is making his way to Taesun’s room. He sighs quietly.
“How’s, y’know, everything?” Taemin curls his hand around the rooftops railing, looks down over the city. People are walking the streets, groceries in one hand, a child’s in the other.
Kyungsoo is quiet a moment. “Good. We’re missing you though,” he says it lightly, not wanting to make their phone call a distant and foreboding one.
A breeze lifts Taemin’s bangs off his face, and he shivers, using his free hand to wrap his jacket tighter around his shoulders. “Missing you guys too. But, I’ll be home soon, I promise.”
Kyungsoo can’t help himself this time. “You say that all the time.” Taemin sucks in a sharp breath.
“Yeah, but I mean it this time Soo. After this tour, I’m done. Gonna stay with you, and set up a home. Maybe have a few more kids, finally give Taseun the little brother or sister he’s been asking for. Be what we’ve always wanted to be. A family.”
Kyungsoo hmms softly. “Together?”
Taemin nods, though Kyungsoo can’t quite see him. “Yeah, together.”
On my mind, up past my bed time
No rest at the kingdom...
Alone in my place, my heart is away
All that I can think of is
We should get married, we should get married
Let's stop holding back on this and let's get carried away
It’s May when Taemin finds out the exact date he gets to go home. They’re in Italy, Rome to be exact, and the sunshine is painting the sidewalk in golds and yellows and Taemin’s licking on an ice cream cone while his manager, Joohyun, talks quietly to the phone that’s permanently attached to her ear.
His phone starts vibrating against his thigh, and when he checks the number, he sees JINX across the screen, answers it with a smile.
“I thought you forgot about me.” Jinki giggles, high and familiar, and he feels like someone kicked him in the stomach. It’s not as bad as when he hears Kyungsoo giggle down the phone line, but it’s still an ache that fills his whole chest cavity with a homesickness he didn’t even know could exist.
He thought he’d felt homesickness when he went to Summer Camp when he was 14 and had to leave for a full two weeks. Or when he and Jonghyun went to Boston to meet up with Kibum and Kyungsoo for a holiday:
(who were already there visiting Kibum’s parents, to which, Kibum had begged and pleaded Kyungsoo to accompany him with wide saucer eyes, using the “Jonghyun and I just broke up” card for the tenth time and “Jongin is with Soojung in Greece” which was a valid excuse, Taemin reminded himself)
and he’d missed his home and family so much and Kyungsoo was already 5 months along in his pregnancy, so he and Kyungsoo took a full three day earlier flight than the other two. Which worked out in the end because Kibum and Jonghyun came back engaged (and un-engaged three days later, so maybe that doesn’t count).
“Tae?” he brings himself out of his daydream at Jinki’s prodding voice, and clears his throat.
“Yeah, ‘m here, Jinx. How’s America?” The conversation is light and airy, always at the beginning it is.
He hears his nephew squeal in the background and smiles fondly at nothing and everything. Jinki shushes him quietly, “Jaemin-ah, it’s uncle Taemin, calm down. Mommy will call at six.”
Taemin exclaims loudly, anyway: “Hi Jaeminnie!” and then Jaemin is babbling down the phone about his new toy he got that his mom sent from China, and Taemin hums along, a dull ache beginning to form in his chest when the thinks about the last time he thought to send Taesun a new toy or bring him home a new souvenir.
After about five minutes, Jinki claims the phone again, “Alright, Tae, better go fix dinner. Come see me soon, yeah?”
Taemin nods, even though he knows the older man can’t see him, “Yeah, will do. Love you.” Jinki echoes the sentiment back to him, and he sighs.
Joohyun looks over at him, phone gone away from her ear, “That Kyungsoo?”
“Nah, Jinki. He’s in America, still. Sunyoung has been away to China for a meeting, so it’s just him and Jaemin at home.” Taemin replies easily, though he misses his nephew a great deal, and his brother as well. Ever since their mother died last year, they’ve tried to see each other as much as possible. But, with the older male living in America, and he the pianist for one of South Korea’s most famous band now, the contact dwindles each month.
“Well, we’re headed for Seoul tomorrow, Australia cancelled the concert, the Arena’s manager got killed, and they’re still battling what to do with it all.” Joohyun says it nonchalantly, though there’s a smile on her face.
Taemin grins widely, “So-we’re, going home?” He mentally tacks on the, for good, part in his head. He should be more concerned about said manager, but all he can think is ‘kyungsootaesunkyungsootaesun’.
“Yeah, we’re going home.”
Taemin starts smiling so much, Joohyun slaps him in the back of the head because he’s scaring the children.
The thing is, though. Taemin never thought to realize if Kyungsoo had changed. Or lost anything, like confidence, or the feeling of being loved.
(He shudders to think how his absence might have affected Taesun.)
When he tells him over the phone, Kyungsoo sounds happy.
Happy, but not ecstatic, like he’d hoped.
The phone call is short, nothing like Taemin thought it’d be. Taemin telling him his flight information, and Kyungsoo promising to meet him at the airport.
Fine, that’s the word. Just fine, Taemin thinks. It’s been months since he’s seen Kyungsoo and his little boy, his laptop breaking when he was in LA, never bothering to buy a new one, so Skype was out of the question.
He finds a piano room in the hotel, he sits and he plays for hours. It’s the last time, he promises himself, that he will ever touch a piano.
Plays until his fingers cramp, and his eyes go blurry.
I just wanna say you're mine, you're mine
I just wanna say you're mine, you're mine
Fuck what they heard you're mine, you're mine
All I'm really asking for is you
Kyungsoo meets him at the airport, alone. (Which puts Taemin at ease slightly because he knows how much big crowds make Taesun uncomfortable) Which is a relief. He went to bed thinking that Kyungsoo may not even show up. He promised, though. And unlike Taemin, Kyungsoo keeps his promises.
It’s late, his flight getting in at midnight and Kyungsoo is standing at the end of the terminal with sweatpants, beanie, sneakers, and one of Taemin’s hoodies, and a pair of reading glasses perched on his nose.
Taemin’s emptiness disappears as quickly as it can, and he drops his bag before walking as quickly and calmly as he quite possibly can towards Kyungsoo. Who is standing there, looking a bit lost, but there’s an emotion burning bright in his eyes that Taemin knows is reserved especially for him.
Kyungsoo opens his arms in invitation, and Taemin invites himself in, knocking into him with force.
“I missed you so much,” he whispers into Kyungsoo’s neck, burying his face there, smelling him, and kissing at the small exposed skin, shaking a bit with emotion.
Kyungsoo starts trembling, his façade melting, and he wraps his arms so tightly around Taemin he can touch his fingertips to the opposite elbow.
“Missed you too,” he mumbles, kissing Taemin’s ear, and stroking at his mussed hair that he hasn’t touched in so long. Felt foreign for a moment, then a familiarity as he carded it through his fingers, latching on and tugging.
Taemin leans forward willingly, and then they’re kissing. Mouths open, breath mingling, a desperate one that causes people to either look on in disgust, or in a happy, careful way.
Kyungsoo’s bottom lip trembles so embarrassingly much and he speaks in whispers against Taemin’s mouth, “You promised you won’t leave anymore, pleasepleaseplease tell me you weren’t lying for once. Please.”
Taemin’s eyebrows furrow in pain and he cups Kyungsoo’s face in his palms, touches his forehead to his, “’M staying, I promise. I’m done. It’s okay.”
And for a moment, it is.
As long as you know who you belong to
He breaks a promise to himself. He touches a piano again.
Feels the smooth keys under his fingertips, thinks of a time when he used to play for his boys, and Kyungsoo would sit on the bench next to him with Taseun cradled in his lap, “Play us something happy,” he’d whisper, trail his fingertips down Taemin’s bare arm.
The sheet would be wrapped around the three of them, and the room would be filled with melodic and sweet music.
He feels a dip in the bench, feels a familiar hand trace the knobs in his bare spine, then leave a kiss to his sticky with sweat shoulder.
Kyungsoo puts his nose underneath Taemin’s ear, “I’m not going to ask you to give it up.” His voice is soft, a hushed whisper.
Taemin never plays piano again.
All I'm really asking for is you
Jinki opens the door, and laughs delightedly.
“Didn’t expect you so soon. And you brought the boys with you, come in, come in, before you two catch a cold. Jaemin’s got a bit of one, he’s been upset that he’s sick while Taesun is here to play with him.”
Taemin doesn’t pull his hand away from Kyungsoo, but steps close to Jinki and wraps his free arm around his neck, and sighs.
Jinki freezes for a moment, then slowly wraps his arms around Taemin’s waist. Sniffling quietly, he buries his face in the younger boys collar bone. “Mom would be so proud of you, Tae.”
“She’d be proud of both of us, Jinx.”
And it’s not all that prominent, but he feels a light squeeze to his hand, and he squeezes back.
Let’s himself breathe, really breathe, for the first time in a year.