pairing(s)→ Joonmyun x Sehun, minor platonic!Joonmyun x Jongin, Joonmyun x Lu Han and OT6/12.
summary→ After EXO officially disbands, Joonmyun struggles to find a new road he can follow, but he’s not the only one.
# tbqh, this isn’t really as thought out as I wish it could be. It’s something of a push to myself to get back into writing, so don’t expect a masterpiece. I’m super rusty, creak. creak.
# bgm while writing: IU’s 느리게 하는 일 (Things I Do Slowly), which I highly recommend anyone reading this fic turn on as bgm too, and ayaka’s ブルーデイズ (Blue Days)
# not beta-ed, you’ve been warned! sorry for any mistakes or typos I missed.
|It doesn’t come as a surprise.|
Joonmyun’s seen it happen before them, so he’s had time to learn the pattern all too well. He knows the way the cracks start to form, long before the end, only if you know how to feel them out. He knows the way everything falls apart at an agonizingly slow rate, until all that’s left is the destroyed remnants of everything and anything you’ve worked for.
The thing is, Joonmyun belatedly realizes, seeing it happen doesn’t come close to actually having it happen to him.
Another thing Joonmyun belatedly realizes is that he’d thought watching everything fall apart would be the hardest stage.
He meets with Amber a week after EXO’s disbandment—a year and a half after f(x)’s—in their shared waiting room for a semi-popular quiz show. Amber doesn’t bother with greetings, only waves him over, hair bleached blonde and long. He idly wonders when the last time he’d gotten his hair dyed was as he takes a seat beside her.
“Here,” She says as she hands him her styrofoam cup of instant coffee. “You look like you need it more than me. Have you gotten over the initial denial yet? And don’t say you didn’t. Even Jinri went through it and she was the one who wanted out the most.”
Joonmyun accepts the cup gratefully and takes a sip of the lukewarm coffee. It tastes terrible and cheap, and he forces it down along with his urge to cry. He hadn’t admitted it to anyone, but he did want to deny that he wasn’t a leader anymore. There was no need to attach his name to a group that no longer existed, a group that had meant everything to him but didn’t any more. He was too old to go through the uncertainty of waiting again, he thinks as he downs the rest of the coffee in one shot, and sets the cup down softly on the table across from them. “I haven’t. Not yet.”
“You probably thought you’d gotten through the hardest part when you’d lived through all the scandals and lackluster title songs and dwindling fans, when you all ended up going your separate ways, but you’re not there yet,” Amber interrupts his thoughts, picking up the cup to press her nails against the rim, tiny, shallow dents appearing on the white styrofoam. “You’d think the fall from the top would be swift and fatal, so quick you wouldn’t have to feel the pain. But it isn’t, Joonmyun oppa, is it?”
Joonmyun doesn’t answer because he knows she’s not waiting for one. Amber had never been one to sugarcoat anything, and he’s always been thankful for that in an industry dipped in glue and glitter, but his head and maybe his heart hurts when he hears what he’s been living out loud. She’d been living it for a little over a year, but it’d only been a week for him, and he wasn’t used to the apartment after Kyungsoo had moved out. (Chanyeol and Baekhyun hadn’t bothered to wait for the official announcement, having moved out months prior to it.) Jongin’s attempt to cover up the calm of the apartment by flooding it with music was a pitiable one in Joonmyun’s opinion—not only had they gotten in trouble with the neighbors, there was no way to hide the absence of the other three members’ presence. Joonmyun would always turn off the music as soon as Jongin fell asleep, mostly because Sehun couldn’t sleep with noise and was too lazy to do it himself, but with the music turned off, silence was all that remained without Chanyeol and Baekhyun’s loud nightly bickering or the sounds of Kyungsoo messing around in the kitchen to fill it up.
The hardest part was not watching everything fall apart—Joonmyun knows it well enough now—but the terrifying calm after the dust has settled.
Jongin chooses to kill Kai in the third week after disbandment.
He wakes up to find a voicemail from Kris, five and a half weeks after disbandment.
(Jongin tells him every day that he should stop labeling everything in relation to disbandment, but Joonmyun doesn’t know how, nor is he quite ready to stop. Everyone seems to have moved on but him.)
Joonmyun rolls over and finds Sehun’s bed empty, so he turns the speaker of his cell phone on and plays the voicemail. Kris’ voice has always been a constant in his life, something he could rely on to be comforting in times when he needed it the most.
“Hey, Joonmyun-ah. It’s 4am and I only have a 10-minute break, so I’ll say what I want to say quickly. EXO doesn’t exist anymore, but Suho still does. I know how hard you’ve fought to get this far, so don’t stop. This is when you have to fight the hardest. Don’t let everything you’ve done go to waste, it’s not the end just yet. Well, unless you want it to be. Do you? Think about it. You have a lot of time to do that now. Oh, I’ve got to go. Hwaiting!”
The automated recording after the voicemail starts to play afterwards, but Joonmyun has stopped listening, Kris’ words replaying in his mind. He fumbles with the phone and shoves it underneath his pillow, then pulls his blanket over his head to hide his tears. He’s too old to cry, but he doesn’t know what else to do. He can’t talk with anyone – those before him only offer him advice that he doesn’t want and the rest of EXO is divided into the members who are too busy to talk about it or the members who don’t want to talk about it. Kris had been the first one to pinpoint exactly what Joonmyun was afraid of, and that was whether he wanted to let Suho live or fold him away where he’d be remembered fondly as part of a past that had no place in the present.
Joonmyun cries even harder when Sehun comes back into the room and pulls the blanket away curiously. They’ve long gotten used to each other’s tears to the point where it’s stopped being a source of worry, many long years of being roommates having made sure of that, so he lets Sehun climb in beside him and wrap thin arms around him, maintaining a steady rhythm of rocking until the after-effect of the tears has lulled Joonmyun into sleep once again.
Sehun’s fallen asleep beside him, half-laying on his stomach, when Joonmyun wakes up an hour later. Sehun’s arm is heavy on his stomach, but it’s a reassuring kind of heaviness, so Joonmyun doesn’t push it away. He shifts as lightly as he can to lay on his back, then stares at the ceiling, Kris’ voicemail and Sehun’s steady breaths blending together in his sleep-addled brain until all he can think about is how sad it is that both Suho and Joonmyun were stuck in a stalemate, not knowing exactly how to move forward when the map had been wiped clean and they had to find new roads to pursue.
He thinks of Kyuhyun, who had struggled with barely charting singles, half-hearted OSTs for small-time dramas and a year of hosting an unpopular radio show before SM let him go by not offering him a contract renewal, of Amber, who had promoted briefly with Victoria in China before taking a hiatus that had led to relying on SM to offer her as a package with their newest girl group to any shows and featuring for any artist that would take her, of Jinki, who had made use of his final year of contract to train and now lived solely off musicals, of all of his sunbaes who had fought tooth and nail after disbandment to stay alive in their own ways, and wonders if he can still collect enough strength to keep fighting for himself like they had for themselves.
∞There’s a line dividing Joonmyun and Suho; the only thing Joonmyun could claim as his own were those seven years of training, of waiting, that didn’t seem to matter in the grand scheme of his life. Everything else belonged to Suho, who had taken credit for Joonmyun’s long fight and twisted it so it became his own.
But neither Joonmyun nor Suho’s experience had prepared him for this—he’d always been given a plan, a goal, something he could see and fight for, and now, for the first time in years, he had absolutely nothing.
He spends the sixth week after disbandment eating everything the torturous diets had denied him, visiting friends he hadn’t (couldn’t) seen in years and sleeping away the long empty hours.
He wakes up at 3am one night and finds Sehun having coffee on the seventh week and joins him without waiting for an invitation. Sehun’s always made enough coffee for two, knowing Joonmyun would appreciate it—Jongin, on the other hand, hadn’t ever quite accepted the idea of giving up precious sleep for something as silly as coffee.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had coffee together,” Sehun murmurs softly, taking a sip of his coffee with eyes closed. Joonmyun looks at him closely for the first time in a while and feels an urge to reach out and trace the tiny wrinkles around Sehun’s eyes, the laugh lines that have only become more obvious with age. Sehun opens his eyes and blinks when he sees Joonmyun staring at him, then rolls his eyes and points at Joonmyun’s blue mug. “I know I’m handsome, no need to stare. Drink your coffee, hyung.”
Joonmyun laughs for the first time in days, sincerely, truthfully, and Sehun watches with a smile. Joonmyun remembers a time where they had been younger, a little bit happier, and he’d been the one to make Sehun coffee and tease him with a smile, but now they were older and wiser and they had less reasons to be happy and even less to laugh and mean it. Sehun’s drinking coffee at 3am for no reason at all other than that he could and Joonmyun laughs again, feeling both relieved and guilty that Sehun’s in the same position as him and he hadn’t noticed. “Everything’s really fallen apart, Sehun-ah. You’re making me coffee and laughing at me and we’re both stuck.”
Sehun’s smile falls into a frown and he lowers his eyes to the coffee, picking up his spoon and swirling it around. The silence is thick and oppressive, making Joonmyun wish he hadn’t said anything, but Sehun breaks it after a moment. “Stop talking about everything falling apart. Yes, it has. That doesn’t matter, what matters is what you do after it, hyung. Are you going to climb out and breathe in what you can, dust and dirt and all, or are you going to die under it? I want to climb out, so you have to climb out too.”
Joonmyun desperately wishes he could, but he can only find himself, not Suho, beneath the rubble, and he’s not sure he can continue to exist if Suho doesn’t.
Jongin tells Joonmyun and Sehun he’s sick of seeing their faces, so he kicks them out of the apartment at the start of the eighth week. The weather is sunny, blindingly so, warm and happy and everything Joonmyun is most definitely not feeling, but it’s somewhat easier to endure it with Sehun scowling at everything around them as if he’s blaming them for being happy. Joonmyun thinks of the days Sehun would have given up everything to have this kind of day to himself, but now he’d do the opposite. How ironic, Joonmyun thinks with a grin, watching Sehun kick a pebble towards a patch of flowers.
“Let’s get some ice cream,” Sehun suggests after ten minutes of sitting at the bus stop across their apartment building, watching cars, bicycles and people pass by. Joonmyun raises his hands to shield his eyes from the sunlight, turning his head to look at Sehun. The younger had his hands in his pockets, slouching against the back of the bench, long legs stretched out in front of him, looking for all the world like a sulking teenager, not someone who had just suggested getting ice cream. Sehun turns to glare at him when he laughs; Joonmyun can tell by the way Sehun’s pressing his lips together that he’s trying his hardest not to pout. “Hyung! Don’t laugh. Jongin won’t let us back in for at least the next three hours. I’m not sitting here and inhaling car smoke for three hours.”
They don’t go back to the apartment until midnight.
Joonmyun tastes freedom for the first time in a while, laughing as loud as he wants to without worrying about anyone recognizing him. They eat cheap ice-cream bars in the train to Garosugil, where Sehun coerces Joonmyun into buying him red bean fondue and tricks some ajummas into thinking he’s Lu Han in the 15-minute subway trip to Dongdaemun, reciting the Mandarin phrases he still remembers, before running off with Joonmyun when they ask for autographs, breathless with laughter.
Being lost doesn’t necessarily have to mean being miserable, Joonmyun thinks as he stuffs the last piece of mandu into Sehun’s mouth. They head back on the last train, donning matching bright pink baseball caps. Sehun dozes off, full of contentment and street food, on Joonmyun’s shoulder until they reach their stop. Jongin opens the door for them, half-asleep, and gives them a drowsy smile as he ushers them in.
∞In the middle of the ninth week, Joonmyun is woken up at 2am by Into Your World playing from Sehun’s iPad. He doesn’t turn from his position, back to Sehun’s side of the room, squeezing his eyes shut as he feels the heat of the spotlights, the sweat making it hard to keep a firm grasp on the microphone and the feel of the stage clothes against his skin.
The song ends and there’s a short pause before Run & Gun starts. Joonmyun rolls over and finds Sehun curled up on his side with his right arm held out, fingers against the side of the iPad to prop it up. It’d been so long since those times when adrenaline and cheers had been enough, when they genuinely meant every word they said and smiled with the belief that dreams really could come true, that Joonmyun empathizes with the need to relive those moments again. He remembers the extent of Sehun’s happiness back then, happiness that had always overlapped with his own.
He throws back the blanket, giving Sehun a pointed look as he pats the spot beside him. Sehun doesn’t hesitate before he scrambles over to Joonmyun’s bed, letting Joonmyun cover them both with the blanket.
They go through their 23 debut teasers, laughing at the absurd back-story for MAMA as they point out unfortunate haircuts, silly clothes and the abundance of Jongin’s hip thrusts, but Sehun is quiet when they watch the final teaser. Joonmyun looks at him through the corner of his eyes, watching Sehun watch with a sadness he hadn’t seen in the younger in a long time. Their logo and names appear on a black background, signaling the end of the video, but Sehun replays it. His voice is faint, drowned out in parts by Baekhyun’s voice. “Do you remember this? Do you remember we all waited and watched it together on Kris hyung’s laptop? We were worth something back then.”
Joonmyun keeps his eyes on the video, overwhelmed by Sehun’s unhappiness. He’s older, more sensible, but there’s nothing he can say to Sehun, or at least nothing he can say and mean. “You have to fight, Sehun-ah. We’re climbing out together, remember?”
“That’s when I thought there would be a way out,” Sehun replies, Kyungsoo and Baekhyun singing 네 편으로모두 다 등을 돌려도 sliding in between Sehun’s words. Joonmyun wants to laugh at the irony of the timing. He’d never fought anyone’s battles, only his own, and as much as he wanted to, he couldn’t protect Sehun from anything, much less everyone turning their backs on him. Sehun turns off the iPad when Kyungsoo’s voice fades out into the black background and the logo reappears, tossing it to the floor as he gets out of Joonmyun’s bed and heads back to his own. Joonmyun can’t help but note the slump of Sehun’s shoulders, almost as if the misery was physically weighing him down. “Good night, hyung.”
Joonmyun waits until Sehun has stopped tossing and turning before he picks up the iPad, turning it on to download both versions of Into Your World. He turns them on and sets them on repeat, then lays the iPad back down gently on the floor.
He falls asleep to their voices promising a kind of love and protection that exists only in song lyrics and dreams.
Joonmyun decides to fight in the tenth week, if only to prove to Sehun that they couldn’t wait for death calmly without a battle. He was sure that Suho was dead underneath the rubble, but Joonmyun couldn’t die, couldn’t be folded away like Suho had been—Joonmyun isn’t a part of him.
Joonmyun is him.
He starts heading to the company every day, comparing schedules and activities and taking any positions he can charm managers into giving to him. Time is something he has a lot of, experience even moreso, and he’d use it all to keep Joonmyun alive for as long as he could.
∞The eleventh week is unexpectedly hectic. Joonmyun spends more time being driven from place to place, stylists flitting around him and last-minute changes to scripts being whispered frantically at him, than he does at home.
He doesn’t think much of the random bad jokes and links to parody videos Sehun sends him, too busy to send any kind of reply.
∞On the twelfth week, Joonmyun comes home after being called in to take a MC position that hadn’t suited Chanyeol’s schedule, and finds Sehun sitting on the living room floor, a row of soju bottles and a shot glass in front of him.
He doesn’t say anything to the younger man who is pouring a shot for himself, but chooses to sit beside him silently. Sehun doesn’t flinch as he drinks the soju in one shot and puts it down, eyes narrowed as he swallows. “I’m tired, hyung. There’s really no way out.”
Joonmyun had been so swept up with himself that he had forgotten that Sehun was worse off than he was. They were both fighting to climb out of the very same debris, but he had left Sehun behind in his haste to draw in a breath. He had been taking small-time MC positions and featurings Kyungsoo and Lu Han were too busy to take, but he hadn’t noticed Sehun was always at home whenever he came back from the company, hadn’t noticed the real reason Jongin had kicked them out that day two weeks ago, hadn’t noticed he’d never been as good a hyung as he wanted to be. “Sehun, I…”
“What should I do, hyung? Is giving up when I’ve gotten this far supposed to be easy?” Sehun says, reaching for the bottle again. Joonmyun takes the glass away before Sehun can start to pour anything in it. “I’m dying, I’m going to die.”
Sehun’s laughter is harsh, nothing like the laughter Joonmyun knows so well. Joonmyun can feel a headache coming on, but he doesn’t have time to lecture before the younger turns to face him, leaning so close that Joonmyun is about to go cross-eyed trying to meet Sehun’s eyes. He can smell the soju on Sehun’s breath and it’s making him lightheaded, though Sehun makes no move to back away—instead, he leans even closer to kiss Joonmyun. Joonmyun doesn’t like it. He had imagined it so many times before, the way it’d go with him and Sehun, but drunk, hopeless and as some kind of last resort had not been one of the possibilities.
He pushes Sehun away and takes the bottle from Sehun’s hand, pouring a shot in Sehun’s glass and downing it quickly. He can’t handle this sober, not with Sehun looking at him with those eyes and that smirk. Sehun had always been able to read him, he’d been ridiculous to think Sehun wouldn’t know how much Joonmyun loves him.
“Waiting is the only thing you’re pretty good at, isn’t it, hyung? Waiting for debut, waiting for a way out, waiting for me?”
Joonmyun pours himself another shot in lieu of an answer.
∞Joonmyun doesn’t see Sehun for the thirteenth and fourteenth weeks, nor does Sehun accept any of his calls, but Sehun hadn’t been lying—Joonmyun’s good at singing and dancing, but the thing he excels at is waiting, so he goes to the company and watches Jongin and Yixing’s choreography sessions to pass the time when he’s not taking the odd j0bs everyone else is willing to give up.
∞Lu Han calls Joonmyun in the fifteenth week, asking to meet up, and Joonmyun finds himself in a Everysing noraebang booth, watching Lu Han sing Jongdae and Baekhyun’s newest OSTs and imitating their facial expressions. He’s not quite sure why Lu Han has called him out, but he claps along when Lu Han glares at him and waits.
He doesn’t have to wait long. Lu Han puts down the microphone after choosing Baby Don’t Cry – Joonmyun is surprised Everysing offers songs that old – and sits down beside Joonmyun, all hints of playfulness being replaced by solemnity. “Joonmyun-ah, you’re no stranger to fighting, right?”
Joonmyun instantly knows Lu Han’s talking about Sehun. It makes sense; Lu Han had come back to Seoul a couple of days before the soju incident, as Jongin had so aptly named it, and if Lu Han was in Seoul, Sehun wouldn’t go back to his parents’ place or any of the other members. He’s never resented Lu Han for the elder’s unrelenting success after EXO’s disbandment, but jealousy bubbles up when he knows Sehun was avoiding him by going to Lu Han. “What did Sehun tell you?”
“He didn’t mean anything bad. I know we’re all older, but Sehun’s still the youngest,” Lu Han says, reaching out to pat Joonmyun’s shoulder. “He’s not used to this uncertainty like us. He was young when he kept auditioning for SM, he would have still had a future even if he had given up back then. Being an idol was one option to him at that time, not the only option like it was to us. I’m not belittling our own efforts, but you have to see where Sehun’s coming from. He really doesn’t know what to do.”
Years of training, of learning how to think before each and every act and word, keeps Joonmyun from replying right away. He turns Lu Han’s words over in his head, recalling the way Sehun had drank shot after shot before falling asleep on Joonmyun’s legs, then sighs as the familiar feeling of regret tangles itself around his heart. He looks up at Lu Han, who’s smiling so kindly at him that Joonmyun feels like he might as well be twenty-one and asking Lu Han if he can mention his crush on him in the debut showcase all over again. “Hyung… what should I do then?”
“That’s not what you have to worry about. Sehun says that everyone’s turned their backs on him, but that’s not true,” Lu Han picks up Joonmyun’s juice as he speaks, then pauses to take a sip from it. He hums approvingly before smiling at Joonmyun again. “We’ve spent too long together to turn our backs on any one of us, Joonmyun-ah. Even if you can’t help him, there’s ten more of us who can try.”
There’s an indescribable emotion seizing his heart so forcefully that Joonmyun forgets how to breathe for a brief moment, watching Lu Han drink the rest of his juice. He’d been wrong to assume EXO had ceased to mean anything to the rest of the eleven members because of an inconsequential official announcement. They were no longer tied to each other professionally, but personally was a entirely different thing. The occasional Kakaotalk messages from Kyungsoo and Baekhyun, the Twitter mentions from Chanyeol and Jongdae, all of it hadn’t been as insincere as Joonmyun had assumed. Lu Han has finished the juice and was now watching Joonmyun intently.
“Do you understand now?”
Joonmyun understands now more than he ever has.
Lu Han spends most of the drive to his apartment exchanging lighthearted insults with Minseok, Bluetooth earphone hanging precariously on his ear. Joonmyun takes advantage of Lu Han’s distraction to take out his own cell phone, opening the Kakaotalk app to create a new group chat. He adds all of the twelve members’ accounts and names it ‘we are one’ – Kris replies with a dragon emoticon after a few minutes, followed instantly by Jongdae’s reply of ‘you still can’t fly, hyung’. Joonmyun laughs when Kris replies with a row of angry emoticons, interrupted by a single blank-faced emoticon from Yixing, three rows of ‘ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ’ from Chanyeol, a laughing emoticon from Zitao and a penguin emoticon from Jongin, who adds ‘^ Kyungsoo hyung’ after it.
Joonmyun uploads a screencap of the chat on Twitter, making sure to mention all of them.
∞Lu Han gives Joonmyun the key to his apartment and firm instructions to not leave until he’s going to take Sehun with him, driving away as soon as Joonmyun closes the passenger door—he can hear the start of Lu Han’s call with Yixing as the elder drives away.
He’s been to Lu Han’s apartment a few times, mainly because Minseok and Yixing like to pretend they live there too, even though they don’t, and regularly throw parties and send pictures of them to Lu Han whenever Lu Han has any activities in China in an attempt to annoy him. It generally fails because Lu Han posts said pictures on his Weibo with captions like ‘my dear friends are taking good care of my apartment!’ or ‘have a lot of fun!’ instead of actually getting angry. Thankfully, they move the parties to Baekhyun’s mother’s restaurant when Lu Han is in Seoul, so Joonmyun isn’t worried about finding anyone other than Sehun there.
As he had expected, Sehun is sprawled on the living room couch, watching a movie on Lu Han’s fancy 3D TV. He looks up when he hears the door close, then nearly falls off when he sees Joonmyun standing with his arms crossed, instead of Lu Han. “Hyung!”
“Is Lu Han hyung a better roommate than Jongin and me?” Joonmyun asks as he slips off his sneakers and slides his feet into Lu Han’s slippers, padding over to the TV and turning it off. “I know Jongin can’t cook that well, but I thought you at least liked my food…”
Sehun’s sitting up now, face schooled into a perfect blank expression as he avoids Joonmyun’s eyes, but Joonmyun can read Sehun just as well as Sehun can read him, so he sits beside Sehun even though he knows he won’t be getting an answer. Joonmyun knows silence is the best strategy to get Sehun to talk, because Sehun gets antsy when the silence begins to get uncomfortable and that leads to Sehun talking, so he waits.
After a few minutes, when the silence has passed uncomfortable and has reached a suffocating level, Sehun lets out a choked noise of frustration before turning to Joonmyun. “This isn’t fair, hyung. You know my weak points.”
“You know mine too,” Joonmyun reminds him softly.
After a beat of silence, Sehun lets out another noise and turns his eyes back to the turned off TV. “That’s really not fair, hyung. I was drunk, I didn’t mean—”
“I don’t care what you meant back then,” Joonmyun interrupts. Sehun looks back at him, taken aback. “I know you meant it. That’s okay, I’m not about to deny I’m good at waiting, because I am. I can wait for a very long time. What I care about is that you’re the one who’s not that good at waiting, right?”
Sehun stares, and Joonmyun has to keep himself from smiling in amusement, because he can almost hear the gears in Sehun’s mind whirring, trying to articulate a proper response. “I can help you with that, but only if you come back. Jongin’s having too much fun trying to learn how to work the laundry machine at the expense of your clothes, you know.”
Sehun bursts out into laughter, leaning forward slightly as he presses his hands against his knees. Joonmyun knows it’s for real this time, any harshness melting away into the sweet honesty that Sehun’s always had in his laughter. He supposes it comes with being a spoiled brat, Joonmyun thinks to himself as Sehun turns to look at him. He doesn’t resist the urge this time, reaching out to trace the edge of Sehun’s lips, his laugh lines and up to the soft creases around his eyes, even when Sehun’s laughter withers away into silence. “You knew I was waiting for you, Sehun-ah. I’m sorry for not having the courage to tell you, for burdening you with that knowledge, but I’m not sorry I’m still waiting. I’ll wait as long as I have to if it means I can stay by your side, even if it’s only as a friend.”
Joonmyun’s imagined his confession a lot of times, the way he wanted it to happen, down to the words he would say to Sehun and the way Sehun would look at him, but when Sehun inches closer and presses their foreheads together, imagination doesn’t come close to reality. “I think I’d like you to stop spouting drama scripts and try being more than a friend to me, hyung.”
It’s Joonmyun’s turn to burst into laughter he can’t keep in, relief flooding him. He’s shut up almost immediately by Sehun leaning forward to kiss him for the second time.
Lu Han sends him a message about taking good care of Sehun and Jongin stands at the doorway of their room, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively, until Sehun throws a shoe at him and locks the door before returning to where he had been curled up beside an amused Joonmyun.
Sehun’s breath is uncomfortably warm against his ear, and Sehun keeps slinging his leg over Joonmyun’s, but Joonmyun still sleeps soundly for the first time in three weeks that night.
∞At the end of the sixteenth week, Joonmyun is backstage, watching a girl group perform at a festival he’s MCing, when Sehun sends him a message.
They want me to join the audition staff.
Joonmyun barely manages to stop himself from pumping a fist into the air.
∞By the end of seventeenth week, Joonmyun has learned how to tune out Sehun’s rambles about the dozens of audition videos he has to watch every day. Sehun’s demonstrations of the hopeful auditioners’ off-key singing or awkward dancing becomes part of his routine as Joonmyun prepares dinner, stuffing whatever he can into Sehun’s mouth in an attempt to shut him up. Jongin very helpfully joins Sehun’s off-key singing and licks every spoon he finds, not bothering to ask whether Joonmyun is finished with it or not.
∞Jongdae sends Joonmyun a message at the end of the eighteenth week, informing him SM is looking for a vocal trainer and adding ‘but it’s top secret info I’m divulging to you because I’m the great Kim Jongdae’.
Their former manager, Sunghwan, sends him a message about the same position an hour later.
∞SM offers him a modified contract as a vocal trainer in the middle of the nineteenth week. Joonmyun signs the contract in the same meeting room he and the others had been told of the official disbandment, but he forgets to tell Sehun and Jongin about the irony when he steps out of the room and Jongin throws the ugliest bouquet on the planet in his face, Sehun clapping in delight beside him.
∞At the end of the twentieth week, Joonmyun comes home to Sehun, Jongin and Jongdae cutting up his calendar, marked with the disbandment date, into various shapes that bore a very vague resemblance to their MAMA symbols.
They look up at him with what he guesses are meant to be cute expressions, but Joonmyun thinks they might be a little old to pull them off effectively. “I think your aegyo has run dry, children. Why are you cutting up my calendar?”
Sehun looks offended, but Jongin and Jongdae concede by laughing. Jongdae picks up a haphazardly cut water drop when Joonmyun takes a seat beside him, grinning proudly at it. “For the sake of art, hyung. Also, Jongin said you use it to count the weeks since our disbandment, and that’s pretty sad, hyung, sorry.”
“You’re not sorry at all, don’t lie,” Joonmyun replies as he looks through the shapes. Jongdae shrugs, lips curling up into a smile as he takes out his phone to take a picture of the pile of cut-out shapes.
Sehun and Jongin’s phones buzz from their places on the floor less than a minute later. Joonmyun doesn’t have to look to know that Jongdae’s just uploaded the picture to Twitter and mentioned them with it.
∞If Joonmyun has to be completely honest, there’s no need for the calendar. He doesn’t need it to remind him of the exact day, the exact hour, of their disbandment; even if he forgets the date, the way fear had flowed in his veins, throbbing loudly in his ears, and squeezing tendrils around his lungs is something he can’t forget, not as long as he’s still alive. He hadn’t known what the future had held for him back then, and even what it held for him now, and the fear still runs in his veins, faintly throbbing, as if to remind him of the crippling anxiety he had lived those weeks before he had signed the modified contract. It keeps him on edge, unable to fall into the lull of his daily routine; he’s too scared of what will happen if it all falls apart and he’s not as lucky as he had been this time.
He tells this to Sehun one night as they watch a variety show Baekhyun’s a guest on, playing with Sehun’s hair distractedly. Sehun tilts his head back to stare up at Joonmyun, who is sitting on the couch behind Sehun’s place on the floor, with a perplexed look. “Is this why you’ve been sleeping so badly these past couple of weeks?”
Joonmyun presses a finger lightly against Sehun’s forehead, smoothing out the creases on the younger’s forehead as he nods. “It’s scary. When I got used to everything, it all fell apart. I don’t want the same thing to happen if I get used to everything now, I don’t want it to fall apart.”
Sehun reaches his arms up, taking hold of Joonmyun’s face with one hand on either side. “How about you deal with that if it comes? I’ll let you get drunk and cry in my arms if it does.”
“You’re so kind,” Joonmyun replies dryly, even as the fear subsides slightly, mixing with the easy contentment Joonmyun has learned to associate with Sehun. It hasn’t disappeared, and Joonmyun guesses it never will, but he doesn’t mind. He can live with that as long as Sehun is there to ease it. Baekhyun appears on the TV screen and Joonmyun pushes Sehun’s head to face the front again. “Watch your Baekhyun hyung be more successful than you will ever be, you brat.”
∞Sehun brings him a new calendar the next day, marked with only two dates – the day Sehun had joined the audition staff and the day Joonmyun had signed his contract.
Joonmyun hangs it in the place of his old one, surrounded by the cut-out symbols Sehun, Jongin and Jongdae had made. Sehun yells from the kitchen that Jongin is stealing from his share of fried chicken, so Joonmyun takes a last look at the calendar before he turns and heads out of the room.
He’ll deal with the uncertainty if it comes, Joonmyun thinks as he hits the back of Jongin’s head on his way to his seat beside Sehun, who bursts into laughter at the sight of Jongin’s displeased face. He’s earned this little bit of happiness until then.
notes: yeah guys sorry about that, I think you can probably tell where I started to drift off and make this sweet and fluffy, the complete opposite of the start. cries. I hope it was somewhat enjoyable anyway! thanks for reading, and please leave me comments on what you think ♥