VII : Bewitching Moment
"Are you a morning person or a night person?"
Youngjae's voice is soft, warm, and inviting—a perfect lullaby that beckons JB to surrender himself to slumber.
He does not want to, however, not with Youngjae lying next to him in bed. He wants to stare into the other's eyes from his side of the bed; that longing is stronger than the call of sleep. The lights from his bedside lamp are dim, but enough for him to clearly see the other.
JB hums, never having really given the question much thought before.
"I guess... I'm both and neither?"
A smile tugs at the corner of Youngjae's lips. "That's such a bad answer. It's like you didn't answer at all," he points out. JB chuckles and attempts to redeem himself.
"Well, I'm fine to wake up early when work calls; and I'm alright to stay up late when I need to get work done, too," he explains. "I like mornings: it's bright and fresh, you have tasks to get to, events are unfolding and people bustling around. It feels like everything is blooming and alive."
When Youngjae's lips part to speak, JB quickly signals that he is not done yet. The younger boy seems amused and suppresses a chuckle in response.
"The night, though. I like it because it's when I get left alone to do the things I really want to do—at least, most of the time anyway. I get a break from putting up with the expectations of others, I suppose I meant to say that I find solace, and it allows me to find myself and the things I really want in life."
This time, Youngjae hums, his fingers reaching to almost touch JB's.
Letting himself drift between the state of being awake and asleep, JB hazily recalls how they ended up like this.
Because JB had expected Youngjae to try excusing himself instead of staying at his place, he could not hide his surprise when the younger boy asked if he could shower and borrow another set of clothes. The request had caught JB off-guard, but it would be a lie to say he was not pleased with it.
Youngjae's voice is soft, almost a whisper, and JB thinks the other is probably like him—dancing at the fringe of sleep but trying to stay awake. He raises an eyebrow. "About you being a morning or night person, you mean?" The younger boy nods, and JB chuckles, finding the request adorable.
"Fine," the older boy gives in, beginning to realize that he can not say no to the other. "Which are you?"
Youngjae giggles, causing JB's breath to hitch and looks utterly satisfied that the older boy had decided to play along.
"I hate the night," Youngjae confesses, and JB is genuinely caught off-guard. Everything about the younger boy had led him to believe that Youngjae thrived at night. From his part-time jobs to him oversleeping and being late for class, one would think he preferred being awake at night than in the day.
When he voices his thoughts, Youngjae gives him a slight smile.
"I came to like it slightly more after I met you, though."
And just like that, JB is caught off-guard again: feeling tongue tied, feeling his cheeks warm up, feeling his heart clench in a unfamiliar yet pleasant way. The other tells him, slowly, hesitantly and very softly: "I was going through a rough time, was going to quit my part-time job the night I saw you, just wanted to stay home and sulk and... I don't know. But after that night, I just wanted to meet you again and that gave me more strength to get out of bed the next day."
JB wonders if Youngjae will continue, but the other's story ends just as abruptly as it began. He wants to, but knows better to not prod, so he settles on saying something more important instead.
"I'm glad, because I wanted to meet you again after that night, too."
The smile Youngjae gives him is a weak one, and Jaebum wonders yet again if he would ever know more of the story he just heard. There was still a huge mystery surrounding the other, but Jaebum did not want to pry it all at once and risk of crossing lines he should not.
"Do you think," Jaebum asks, wanting to at least satiate one of the many questions he had, "we could spend more time together?"
It is Youngjae's turn to be caught off-guard, and his lips part only to close again as he searches for an answer. "I hope we can," he finally answers after a stretch of silence. Jaebum tries not to dwell upon the tinge of hesitancy in Youngjae's voice, opting instead to gently lace his fingers between the other's.
There is no protest from Youngjae—the other smiles and shifts closer, taking away the distance between their bodies. As the younger boy nears him, Jaebum notes the adorable mole under Youngjae's eye and manages to catch himself before he leans forward to kiss the spot. He settles on a compliment instead, stating how adorable it is.
On the contrary, Youngjae does not hold himself back, fingers reaching to gently touch the the two moles above Jaebum's eye. "Yours are sexy," is Youngjae's reply to his compliment, and it makes Jaebum's insides knot together in a wonderful way.
Youngjae seems to notice the effect of his words, and lets out a soft giggle. Shifting himself even closer until he is entirely pressed against JB's chest, the younger boy lets out a sigh of satisfaction.
"What are you doing tomorrow?" Youngjae asks, gazing into JB's eyes.
The close proximity of the gaze has JB at a loss of words before he finally replies that he has some meetings in preparation for his client's exhibition next week, featuring his works.
Congratulating him, Youngjae wonders aloud about how it would look like.
"You should come," JB invites, hoping he does not sound too obvious.
"Am I allowed to?"
"I have a few tickets for friends."
Youngjae is silent for a moment, before saying that he will think about it.
They let a lull envelope them, JB hearing only Youngjae's breaths and feeling the slight thrum of the other's heartbeat. Many thoughts race through his mind but none stay long enough for him to register them, so he gives up trying to find words.
He does not have to, because Youngjae declares softly after awhile that it feels nice and bids JB goodnight as his eyes close.
"Night, Youngjae," JB whispers, not wanting to startle the sleepy boy. He, too, feels his eyelids getting heavier by the second. Yet when Young Jae's lips press themselves to the side of his lips—briefly but firmly—JB finds himself awake for at least an hour more.
He does not know when he finally surrenders to sleep, but he dreams of sunny fields and vivid flowers. Of pastel-coloured skies and fluffy clouds and sweetly-scented breeze. Of Young Jae and his gorgeously bright smile.
It then dissipates all too suddenly and he is left with barren ground.
Barren, sickly, and void.
A sea of people soon fill the place—but Young Jae is nowhere to be found.
JB has never felt so alone.
So angry at the loss of something, or someone.
He sits awake, the feeling of anger and loss still strongly present in his mind. Instinctively, he glances to the side in search of Youngjae, but the other is nowhere to be seen. His anger turns to panic, and his sense of loss is intensified. Before he realizes it, JB is calling out for the other, stumbling out of bed and checking the bathroom—that turns out to be empty—before heading to the living room.
As soon as he opens the door, he collides with someone—Youngjae. His arms move before he realizes it, wrapping around the other and pulling the other into a tight embrace. JB wonders if he is more surprised than Youngjae is with the situation, but the other mirrors his actions instead of pushing his arms away.
They stay in the abrupt embrace for as long as JB needs to calm himself. Youngjae's hand strokes his back in a silent rhythm in an effort to help—and it does. When his hold around the younger boy loosens, JB almost can't bring himself to look the other in the eye.
Youngjae does not question him, however, much to JB's relief. Instead, the younger boy moves his hands to either side of JB's face, thumbs smoothing over his cheeks before he tip toes to plant a kiss on JB's forehead.
As if the kiss was a spell, a smile tugs on JB's lips upon the gesture and he tries to return it—only to have Youngjae tip toe once again so that their lips meet. The younger boy giggles into the kiss at his successful trick, but the giggle soon dissolves into a satisfied moan and a more needy whimper after. Despite that, Youngjae breaks the kiss, tugging JB's hand and leading him over to the couch.
Taking a seat, Youngjae grabs a pillow, places it on his lap and turns to look at the older boy expectantly. "Let me guide you to peaceful slumber," the younger boy declares, earning himself a chuckle from JB.
Before lying down, JB moves the pillow away so that he can rest his head on Youngjae's thighs instead. The other does not comment, instead reaching to gently thread his fingers through JB's messy hair and humming a random tune. Sleep slithers back into JB's body, the panic from his nightmare long forgotten with Youngjae's touch in his hair.
He closes his eyes and listens to Youngjae's tune like a lullaby, but opens his eyes when Youngjae exclaims suddenly. "Do you want to see my completed song? Well, hear it, see it, anyway—I have it in my phone."
Reaching over to the table, the younger boy retrieves his phone. After finding his file, he shows it to JB. The older boy recognizes some of his lyrics and tunes in the song, but also many parts written by Youngjae—and some still empty. Despite it being a mixture of both their ideas, the lyrics melded together nicely. Reading the notes, JB sang in his mind and thought that the melody was great as well.
"I'm still trying to figure out the ending," Youngjae purses his lips, "not too sure how to go about it."
JB takes a look at where the lyrics—Youngjae's lyrics, end at:
You have to stay well, don't even get sick,
The way you smile, don't ever lose that.
Reading them, JB is reminded of his breakups, his exes, and confusingly—Youngjae.
"If it gets hard, you can come back to me," JB says softly. "And then," he types into the phone, "I am here, like always, for you."
A moment of nervous silence settles upon JB when he passes the phone back to Youngjae. The other pauses to look at the phone for a long time before whispering that it sounds great. He moves to add another line and turns the screen to show JB. It reads: I will never leave.
There should have been no reason to, but the older boy's heart clenches at the words and he has to refrain from pulling Youngjae into a hug—just to make sure that the other would really never leave.
With the sudden realization of possibly having finished his song, Youngjae looks excited. He states that he is looking forward for next lesson so that his song will be reviewed, and would make sure to tell JB what his lecturer thought of it.
"Why don't you sing a bit of it now? As thanks for my contribution," JB teases, but sincerely wants to hear it.
Youngjae's cheeks flush immediately at his words, and the younger boys gently declines, claiming that he isn't in a good condition to sing
JB does not push for it, but does tell the other that he loved his performance back at the pub. He waits, trying his luck, and his patience does not go unrewarded.
Exactly like how he remembered it, Youngjae's voice is bright and clear, warm and soothing—it reminds JB of the joy of having the sun's rays tickle his skin on a chilly day.
When Youngjae falters at a certain part, suddenly losing focus and forgetting the melody, JB hums to help him—eventually singing along with the other. As if they had already sang the song together before, the two finish their duet with amused smiles on their faces.
"Your voice is amazing," Youngjae confesses. JB does not miss the tinge of blush on the younger boy's cheek and it makes his heart swell with pride. "We should, well, I mean, if we could," JB has never heard Youngjae stammer and it finds it amazingly adorable, "we should record this song together, I think?"
"We should," JB insists, earning a grin from the other.
"But, on one condition."
Youngjae looks nervous when he nods, JB can't help but chuckle at the response. The younger's expression turns into one of mock anger and he hits JB's shoulder lightly, asking the other not to tease or laugh at him. JB apologizes and continues: "I'll record this with you only if you come to the exhibition."
"You want me there that much?" It is Youngjae's turn to have the upper hand, but JB does not deny it. "Very much so. I was advised to have a date with me, in fact."
The younger boy's face turns into a deeper shade of red and Youngjae looks away before stammering something about him not fitting for a date, that he would not even know what to wear, that he might probably embarrass the both of them, before JB moves to lightly hold his cheeks. Youngjae's gaze automatically moves back towards JB and the older boy lets his hands fall to hold the other's shoulders gently.
Smiling at the anxious yet undeniably happy look in the Youngjae's eyes, JB says: "I don't think I could ask for a better date at the moment, and you can borrow some of my clothes since I'm sure you'll fit. You can't possibly embarrass me—because I've thought it over a hundred times before deciding to invite you. So, Youngjae," his voice becomes softer, "I'd really like you to come."
For a moment, JB thinks that the tears collecting in Youngjae's eyes will fall down his cheek—but the other holds it in and takes a few deep breaths.
"Thank you," is his reply, "for the invite. And for thinking so highly of me." A soft smile appears on the younger boy's face as he continues. "I don't know if I'm really worth all your thoughts and care, but I'll really think about it, and let you know in a week's time."
"Promise?" JB feels silly for lifting his pinky finger, but Youngjae laughs and reaches to curl his own pinky around his.
"I promise," he says, before leaning in to give JB a quick kiss on the cheek. "Here, key in your phone number and make a call, you can call me up in case you don't see me."
So JB does, typing with shaking fingers after he snaps out of the daze Youngjae's chaste kiss had put him in.