Sat, Dec. 24th, 2011 05:00 pm
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[personal profile] allnostalgia

A few weeks are enough to make people think twice about other people, who used to be a constant presence in their lives. Friends. There's a point in that relationship that declares your closeness better than anyone else. But then, is there a sign that tells you it’s off?

Were you really all of what you thought of your friendship?

It was that kind of closeness that others did not need to know about. It was, to some extent, a rendezvous. You know things about each other that only you two know despite having best friends in the other person's form. There's that trust, that credibility, that loyalty that doesn't waver even if he's not your top priority.

It was confusing. For one, it's as if you were running around in secrets from each other but then, you would know. Another thing, that unexpected development that might just mess everything up in the long run.

It’s been six months since Jaejoong had begun working at Untitled, Ultd. Publishing and it’s been smooth sailing. There are a few individuals in this company's building that have a remarkable presence in his young life of twenty-three years.

Today, a twenty-five year old applicant by the name of Jung Yunho slinks into the HR Office, vying for a job as a layout artist-slash-graphic designer. He gets hired into Create.

Tomorrow, he will walk into that same building, climb up to the seventeenth floor while lightly tapping his thumbs on the straps of his backpack as he pulls it up snug onto his back as he listens to Lupe Fiasco on his iPod, step down after approximately forty-seven seconds and then quietly report to his new boss before sinking into his office seat.

Maybe, not so exactly.

“Bekah!” Jaejoong comes into the office, hair disheveled, clothes quite crumpled and wearing flip-flops. Said person snaps her eyes towards Jaejoong,

“Are you drunk?”

“No, not yet. I’m planning on doing a story on this woman,” he raises the photo in his hand.

“Okay, Jaejoong, we’ll talk about that later. I’m in the middle of something, you see. Yunho, that’s Jaejoong.” The man seated in front of Bekah’s desk waves a hand.

“Hi!” Jaejoong says and politely returns a smile before bowing an apology.

“Jaejoong, he’s our new layout artist, graphic designer, digital artist, what else? Anyway, get acquainted later, he needs to know what he signed up for so… I’ll take you out for coffee later, hm?”

“Yes, ma’am!” he mimics a salute before retreating to his desk and pulling out his laptop to continue working.

It takes at least two months before Jaejoong comfortably begins a conversation with the not-so-new member of the crew. He didn’t dislike him. In fact he was curious, and also intimidated. “Jaejoong,” he snaps out of his momentary conversation with his thoughts, “The earth has been calling for you to get back down for about ten, fifteen seconds now. What’s up?”

“Huh? I’m sleepy.” he replies as usual, it’s always that excuse, “Can you cover for me while I doze off?”

Yunho laughs, “No. That’s not in my job description, if I remember correctly.”

Five weeks later, they’re going out to lunch together every working day. According to Jaejoong, pizza has been declared a vegetable, so it’s healthy to eat that every day. Yunho thinks it’s genius. New Yorker’s on Mondays, Four Cheese on Tuesdays, Caesar Salad on Wednesdays, Pepperoni on Thursdays and a toss coin between All-meat and Mushrooms Galore on Fridays.

“That’s unfair! I don’t care if we had All-meat last Friday, a toss coin is a toss coin! It’s almost as sacred as The Pinky Swear.” This Friday, they agree that they’re virtually stuck in bodies of grown men when they obviously aren’t capable of being the same age, mentally.

Magazine Specials Season was around the bend. All-nighters and To Go packages from Starbucks are the season’s cash cows for these multimillion corporations. And the planner that comes in handy the following year was the only thing Jaejoong was looking forward to in the next few weeks.

“Come on! Give me that last sticker!” Yunho begs for the cashier to hear him out, “Come on, John, it’s a gift and its Christmas Eve…I don’t have time left.”

“It’s store policy. No. Not even Jaejoong’s pout will work on me so stop making me awkward with yours.” this John tells him, “You have to buy a Holiday Season Beverage if you want a sticker.”

“Fine. WAF, John, WAF.”


“What a friend, you moron who doesn’t know the meaning of Christmas.” Yunho childishly runs on a guilt-stirring spree which makes the cashier laugh heartily, “One hot Toffee Nut Latte. Grande. Name it John Lennon.”

The following morning Jaejoong wasn’t home. He’d stayed over at his sister’s house to celebrate Christmas with them and the kids he’d missed so much.

Yunho was alone, walking through Insadong while a bit disgruntled, “I guess it has to wait until the holidays are over.”

They all meet at the office at New Year’s Eve to celebrate together. Belated presents sat on their respective desks and each one of them try to deny that they’re itching to open such surprises at their age.

Yunho comes home to the warmth of his loft and lies on his back on the rug in the middle of the studio.

His phone vibrates and sends a low resonating sound through the floorboards. Jaejoong sent him a text saying, “Thanks for the present, Yunho! But you shouldn’t have, I’ve already gotten myself the planner, too. :( But then, Happy New Year! How’d you like my present? :)”

Yunho mumbles a string of curses under his breath but then, it wasn’t anybody’s fault, he lets it go. He tried. “Awww…I’m sorry. I love it, actually, I’m using it right now. I’ve been wanting to buy one since forever but don’t have enough bucks. Thank you!” He replies.

“So, are you, like, don’t get me wrong, Jae— are you two…” Changmin, he’s this clever guy whom everyone would hate to love but can’t do anything to resist it. Also, Jaejoong’s best friend forever.

Jaejoong laughs, quite awkwardly. “What. How’d you get the idea?” He knows how, he knows why, he knows it’ll be stupid to now know it himself that how they’re acting is pretty much misleading to that idea but he doesn’t want any of it to stop. He knows it can lead to something messy and hurtful but maybe, it’s worth the risk. He’s having fun, he’s too young to get serious and he’s too indecisive to settle. Maybe, he needs Changmin’s help on this, but he knows also that what his friend will say, he will not like to hear and follow.

It’s been a year since Yunho first stepped into Jaejoong’s life. They sleep in each other’s homes now, eat together, talk on the phone, become the comfort of homesickness and what else is there. It felt nice to fall back into such an easy comfort at the end of the day because all you can think of is that it will never go away.

Things come and go. So so. They get closer every little act of inappropriate sweetness and concern and it leads Jaejoong on to liking Yunho more than he should and planned. Human nature took its course and now he can’t look at the man in the eyes and tell him that things will be fine, will be better, will be grand in the end because he’ll be there to cheer him on. He keeps more thoughts to himself because his thoughts can only seem to revolve around the other man anymore. It was unhealthy and bordering on delusional.

June comes, Jaejoong’s birthday is the following Thursday and he feels the loneliness creep in. He wanted his family to be there. He didn’t want that same birthday last year which involved him, the telly, some DVDs and can after can after can of beer resting in his hand and filling his stomach. He’d only told Yunho about it because he knows he’ll just laugh it off, unlike other people who’d pity him.

“Jae, guess what?” Yunho sneaks up behind him.

“What?” he says, not expecting anything or anyone to remember what’s special about today.

“Come here! I think Bekah’s sending us abroad for work, isn’t that great? Come on! She called for us around ten minutes or so, but you weren’t here yet so I stalled.”

Yunho dragged Jaejoong past the others who seemed a little pissed at the ruckus he was causing, “Yunho, we can walk, we’re already late anyway.”

“No, you see, your cake’s going to melt if you don’t blow out the candles soon.” Yunho says as they enter Bekah’s office, revealing her with a cake in her hands. Cue everyone singing him a happy birthday. Then he makes a wish and blows out the little flames over twenty four candles.

“I didn’t know you guys could act.” he says shyly, “But thank you!”

“Oh trust me, I had nothing to do with it!” Bekah tactlessly says and Yunho glares at her.

Events after events happened through the months of the latter half of the year. And Yunho wasn’t lying when he told Jaejoong about the plan to send them off abroad to cover the different Art Bienale main events.

Jaejoong’s life turned around when they reached the peak of this trip. He had dreamt of coming to Paris all his life – what else for was his life as an artist if he doesn’t experience anything deeper than contemporary art?

He needed reality, clamored originality and found it not in the present art scene but always in the past – when art wasn’t a privilege, not overrated, not just a skill but a talent of gods because they create something out of nothing. He had been thinking highly of himself, yes, a god, because of what he can do but people don’t understand that. And then Yunho comes in and tells him the same thing he thinks in exactly the same way he would.

He thought and felt that he might have fallen in love. He doesn’t know if he was serious or not but he felt good, content.

Spring came around and left as quick. Jaejoong wished his feelings worked the same way, if he only knew how things would turn out.

In exactly fifteen days and thirteen hours, he will receive a note from the publishing house’s CEO. He will nervously walk to the elevator, senses afloat from the internal pseudo-depression he will get into two days before and push the button to the top floor. As the doors of the little box slide open, it will reveal Yunho and he wouldn’t know what to do because they’ve been scarcely seeing each other that week and he’s high on paranoia. He lets it go and acknowledges his presence before leaving and heading straight to the office of the man who’d summoned him.

Twenty-one minutes after the conversation between the CEO and him had started, he’s given the choice to transfer from another department or stay with his intimate circle of friends.

Another ten minutes later, he feels his shoulders slump heavier with more things to think about.

And when he gets back to his office, he will see Yunho packing up his own things into a corrugated box quickly.

He wanted to be sane and recall how he would’ve acted around him without the attachment he’d established with the other man but he couldn’t. He ignores the pang in his heart, the strings being pulled tight around the vessel and he’s about to explode.

“Yunho, where are they transferring you?” he sounded lethargic, stressed, and disoriented, what else? But no matter how many emotions fabricated his voice, the hurt was still evident.

“The music magazine,” the other man replies in almost a whisper, “I’ll still see you often, right?”

“I guess, if you still have time. I have staples with Changmin, you know, we have time for smokes and small talk.” Jaejoong dared to compare how his relationship with Yunho was of the same level as with Changmin, but it was farfetched. They were both important to him, but in very different ways.

“I’ll see you here, right?” Yunho wanted a chance at a lovely parting. He wouldn’t deny how much he’d loved being with Jaejoong and it saddens him to think that they might not be as stable as they thought they were.

“Depends. I’ll call you. Or you call me. We’ll figure it out.”

But when fall began, so did Jaejoong’s attempts at moving on.

Christmas wasn’t the same that year. His family spent the holidays in different parts of the world, leaving him there alone. Talk about bad timing.

To his dismay, his new assignment as the current events photographer of their weekly news magazine was taking too much of his time. He had only one wish for Christmas, and that was for everything everywhere to be peaceful. He didn’t want to be called up in the middle of sulking to get his job done. He and his flute of champagne make for the best he can come up with this time. He was exhausted, physically and emotionally.

His phone rings. In the next few minutes, Jaejoong feels healed. In the next few hours, he’s not lonely. And in the next day, he figures maybe if he talks about it with him, he’ll get by just fine.

Yunho arrives with a box of mango cake and a present.

Yunho stays and catches up with him. He takes note that Jaejoong hasn’t been looking well around the office. He also tells him to call him anytime he wants to go out to eat their pizza.

Yunho wakes up next to a still sleeping Jaejoong, a sinking feeling of uneasiness settles within him when the other man wraps his arm around his torso.

Maybe, the air should be cleared when they’re both sober.

The next few months were quick to pass, they never lingered, always in a hurry to change and not give enough time for people to love rationally. But maybe, that’s just how it is, naturally.

They meet in the hallways, hold elevator doors for each other, meet-up at the queue at the take-away counter of their pizza heaven or at the smoking area, on their way home at the bus stop and awkwardly sitting beside each other. Coincidences like these make him think that maybe, if his emotions weren’t in the way, their friendship would’ve proven meant to be forever, but something always has to ruin his what ifs.

Jaejoong had gathered enough courage to own up. Whether or not Yunho was ready to hear things from him, he wouldn’t care, he’d caved in far too long now and it wasn’t fair.

At three twenty-nine in the afternoon, tomorrow, a Friday, Jaejoong will come across Yunho at Starbucks. He will see him assisting a pretty little lady, she’s familiar to him, and then he snaps in the realization that she’s the girl Yunho had interviewed with him at the Korean Art Bienale many months back. Maybe, they’d clicked since the day they met, who knows? But Yunho wasn’t one to play around with people, he convinced himself, although he himself felt like he’d been a victim.

“Jae!” Yunho spots him, “Come here! Join us?” And then he’ll join them, the conversation easy and light, relaxing, in fact, but his heart isn’t steady enough to stay for long. He excuses himself and takes his Caramel Macchiato back to his desk on the eighth floor.

Oblivious and trusting, that’s what he thinks Yunho is. Jaejoong watches as he waltzed in with the lovely artist by his side at the company anniversary party.

By the end of the night, Jaejoong walks to a nearby bar and café to drown himself in legit alcohol with hopes that Yunho would see him, get him and then bring him home, take care of him even for only that one night.

He talks about Yunho with Changmin for the first time over lunch at his place. Changmin doesn’t know what to say except, “It’s been going on for too long, he has to know at some point so you can move on.”

He tried. Several times, even.

Weeks passed. He hadn’t seen any sign of the older man anywhere and he feels quite good about it. He’s getting back on that past track of his life where Yunho wasn’t in it yet, only a little different because it was all pretend.

He sees him again exactly thirty-six days after the party. Not that he’s counting but his planner said so. He can’t help but count from when he stumbles upon that note on the date of the third Friday of September in big bold letters “ANNIV PARTY WEAR A SUIT” to the date today, when every time he opens the leather-bound book, he remembers celebrating Christmas with Yunho at his own lovely pad and giving him this gift because he failed at making it useful the previous year.

Today, he presses the button of the elevator going down. He steps in hesitantly when he sees only Yunho was inside. “Hey,” Yunho breaks the silence aside from the elevator music.

“Hi.” Jaejoong answers. “How are you?”

“I’m okay, I guess. I’m getting bored. You?”

“Same, it’s never the same outside Create, isn’t it?”


“What do you say about pizza for lunch?” Yunho says. Half-heartedly, Jaejoong thinks.

“I have an event to cover right now, I’ll be back after, so…” Jaejoong tells him, honestly.

“You never called,” Yunho breathes out an unconfident sigh, “Never contacted me.”

“So did you,” Jaejoong hoped the elevator moved faster, “We’re both busy, it’s understandable, right? Besides, we still see each other around here.” It was supposed to be fine since they’re only officemates, anyway. Can be friends, yes, but it hurt to know that there’s something beautiful like that between them that he can ruin. The elevator dings and the doors slide open, “I’ll see you around, it’s a Friday. Don’t cheat on the coin toss.” Jaejoong says before heading for the car waiting for him at the façade.

He sees him almost everyday now, since then. And it’s ruined to the point where he pretends he doesn’t see him so he doesn’t have to talk to him.

He sees him and the more he does he breaks on the inside. Piece by piece, his reasons stuck to his heart as to why he should just keep everything to himself chip off one at a time.

“Jaejoong,” Yunho whispers near his ears.

“Oh, hey!” he says, probably from the script of “The Next Time You See Him” he continues, “What’s up?”

And the conversation doesn’t exactly go as it does in his head, as usual. Next Time You See Him… you confess and you better be ready for anything and everything.

There had been an awkward wrong thing that happened between the two of them the previous day. He thinks Yunho isn’t all too oblivious anymore, the way he reacted to his friends and it scared him. Today, they met at lunch for pizza again, finally, after they both got transferred to different departments.

Yunho seems normal. Seems. Jaejoong can’t take it. Bullshit gives him allergies, all the more from people whom he’d trusted already.

“Yunho, I’m sorry about yesterday.” Jaejoong began. “About my friends, you see, they’re quite obnoxious sometimes.”

“Oh, that. Never mind. I hope you’re doing fine with them passing you up like that around people.”

“That’s not the point. I know they can get that way. The point is-” Jaejoong stops when he realizes what his next words were. ‘that they think we’re in love with each other and I don’t want to know.’

“Is?” Yunho asks, puzzled, “What? I admit, they’re pretty annoying but why do you stick with them?”

“If I tell you, would you judge me?” Jaejoong asks, insecurity rising, and the ding of annoyance in Yunho’s voice doesn’t really help.

“I don’t know what you’re getting at but no, when did I ever judge you?”

“There’s a first to everything, you know that. And I’m-“ Jaejoong takes a deep sigh and clenches his fists on the table, “I think I’ve been in love with you for too long and I want you to give me an answer so I can just go on and have the right to say that I told you despite everything.” He doesn’t look Yunho in the eyes. He looks down as if the table is beautiful enough to be interesting. He holds his tears in and doesn’t speak or move.


Jaejoong slowly stands up and leaves.

It’s been exactly two years since Yunho was introduced in Jaejoong’s life. Two years since he’d felt the drastic changes he’d undergone because of the other man. And he proves to himself that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone for them to have a lasting impression of them in you.

In the future, interns will come and go. They will ask him of how he’d gone from just this to that. Will ask him if he knew a Jung Yunho, the famous graphic designer who had been transferred to an ad agency after resigning for personal reasons. He would tell them, he used to work with him back when Create was still running, way before he designed ads for Coca-Cola, for McDonald’s, or for Apple, and you can count how many of the new kids actually knew the magazine.

And then they’d ask about him. If Yunho had gone from being a late graduate to a top designer, why and how did Jaejoong end up being a Film Director from being a photojournalist?

He doesn’t know himself. It was stepping stone to another stepping stone. Doors opening left and right. Maybe it was the drive to be deserving of something that took him there, who knows? Maybe it was the thought that someday, when he’s not too busy living for someone else, life would just live itself for him and he’ll sit back and wait.

As cliché as it is, it doesn’t make it any less true, life will give you choices and it doesn’t matter if you choose the right one or not because it will lead you to something that would make you uniquely you. Maybe, in time, the things we wanted in the past will come. Maybe, in time, the people whom you’ve thought had gone awol on you would go back because they never really forgot you. Maybe, in time, you figure things out and know that if those things didn’t happen, it wouldn’t come to this happiness you’re enjoying.

In exactly six years after Yunho had walked out of Jaejoong’s life, they meet again. His heart doesn’t hurt, instead it flutters in the excitement of seeing him again with a smile on his face, instead of that indifferent expression that left a mark on his mind that day he confessed.

“Yunho?” Jaejoong says, unsure if he was doing the appropriate thing.

“Jaejoong!” The other man calls back but doesn’t walk towards him. He’s holding a little hand in his and a little two year old girl stood beside him.

“Oh my, is this your little angel?”

“Yeah, you can call her that.” Yunho smiles, “Say hi, baby, this is Uncle Jae.”

“What’s your name, hm?” Jaejoong sits on his heels to level with the little girl and lightly pinches her cheeks and she smiles.

“Hi!” She says and then hides behind her father’s legs.

“Anyway, I have a meeting to attend to, so… I’ll see you around.” Jaejoong can’t help the smile on his face, it was wonderful and it felt perfect to have finally known that he’s really moved on.

“Jae, can I have your number?” Yunho hesitantly blurts out, “If it’s fine with you, that is.”

“Oh, well,” Jaejoong pulls out a calling card from his wallet and hands it to the other man, “If you’re going to call, you’re gonna have to guess where I am first.”

Yunho laughs lightly, “I’ll see what I can do for a round of pizza and for this kid to get used to having you around.”

“Alright. I’ll see you around! Take good care of that angel!”

“Jae, one last question before you go, please?” Yunho pulled the little girl up to his shoulders and she held tight on his head, awkwardly placing her hands on his face.

“What is it?” It was Jaejoong’s turn to be oblivious.

“Aren’t you even wondering where this child’s mother is? Even the slightest?”

“Well, I assumed you went out without her.” He replied, shrugging.

“Ask me why, come on.”

“Okay. Why?” Jaejoong wanted to laugh, was this a joke?

“I adopted her.” Little by little the pieces are fitting around each other and the smile changed from fun to rekindling, “I remember having that conversation with you about marriage and having children, and…you see, when you told me you loved me, I was already on for signing a contract with another company. And, you changed numbers, moved away and never contacted me. You moved on without giving me a chance to tell you my side of the story.”

If this was the kind of twists in life that happen to people who wait, he would have waited.

“Do you think, maybe, you could give me a chance to make you fall in love with me all over again?”


A/N: Thanks, [ profile] kingheechul and [ profile] still_doll_15 for beta-reading this fic! :) On another note, Happy Holidays~ Get drunk, party if you must, be thankful for everything and learn from everything else you might not be thankful for. Oh well.
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