cosipotente (cosipotente) wrote,

the heartlines of peculiar things (iii)

PG ; Minho/Jinki, Jinki/Taemin
summary: Minho and Jinki have been dating for three years. They’ve had their ups and downs like all couples do eventually but they've managed to come out on top every time. Taemin is a tea maker in the family owned palmistry shop. When Minho comes to work under Taemin’s dad as a palm reader his relationship with Jinki is put to the test and Taemin may be the catalyst that makes or breaks them. It’s the eventual and inevitable passing of a prediction Minho made at the beginning of his and Jinki’s relationship.
word count: 4,639 AU

The best thing about the party, if what he’d just endured could even be called that, is when it’s over. Taemin trudges out of the too cramped boat house and feels like he can finally breathe for the first time in hours. He sucks in a great mouthful of the briny evening air, tries not think about how he can still taste ash and smoke and too much alcohol, and releases it in a loud sigh.

Not for the first time since arriving, Taemin curses Jonghyun. The food, free or not, wasn’t worth the terrible music still ringing in his ears or the constant push-and-shove of bodies as people tried to get around.

Never mind the overwhelming taste of practically everyone in the house, Taemin thinks in annoyance.

He’d been using Kibum as a sort of anchor, focusing on his distinct Earl Grey and mint taste, but after an hour with the constant stream of people still coming into the house, Taemin’s senses were flooded. Everything tasted dull and ashen on his heavy tongue. It was a lot like the first time he snuck sip of whiskey; it left his mouth buzzing pleasantly but eventually had his stomach turning.

Taemin scrapes his hair back, wishing he could do the same with his tongue, and looks out across the sound. The setting sun sets fire to the water’s surface in muted orange and red. Wolmido winks bright and electric in the near distance. It’s too quiet and Taemin, in an instant, misses the sounds of the city, passing of cars, and even the stupid chimes above the tea shop’s door. He misses home with an ache deep enough to fill the depths of the bay.

“Here you are!” Kibum’s voice is as sudden and loud as a bomb going off and Taemin jumps. “We’re heading to the station, come on.”

Getting to Wolmido takes a fifteen minutes by monorail. The train will take them over the sleepy town and carry them right to the park gates. Taemin looks out at the sound one more time. Last train to nowhere then, he thinks.

Turning back to Kibum, Taemin gives him a shark grin. “You owe me big time,” he says as they walk, “you’re going on the rides, even if I have to throw you over my shoulder.”

“Nice try, tough guy, but you’ve got noodles for arms.” Kibum bites back, his own arm landing heavily across Taemin’s shoulder. “Besides, what did I do? The party was Jonghyun’s idea!”

Taemin laces their fingers together. “He’s not here though, is he?”

They follow behind a bigger group from the party and walk to the station. A few people smoke, the cherries of their cigarettes lighting up the fast falling darkness like ghostly eyes. A small chorus goes up at the front somewhere, voices harmonizing together in the quiet of the streets. They move as one; a march of modern faeries.

Kibum’s legs are all but liquid when he sinks, finally, down on a bench.

He is never, ever, going on rides again. His heart is still beating like a war drum and his stomach hasn't come down from the zero gravity drop of The Viking. Kibum takes several steadying breaths and swears once more that he's never riding another hulking piece of metal again. Taemin can say what he wants about their Man Code, but Kibum is done.

Absolute death traps, he thinks. Overhead, The Viking’s steel ship swings back with a great hiss and then forward like a nightmarish pendulum controlled by a sweet looking girl in a pastel pink uniform. The riders screech and scream as the ride reaches its forward apex and then suddenly tips upside down. It teeters in the air.

Kibum's stomach rolls sickly in remembrance of that moment of being suspended upside down. It was only seconds but for him it had stretched out to a short eternity until, at last, the ship came down again. He'd climbed off the platform like a man who'd never set foot on solid ground, weaving his way to an empty table.

He throws his hands out across the slightly sticky table top and rests his head on his arm. Kibum sits there and just breathes. He's still bringing himself down from the terror of The Viking when something damp and very, very cold pressed against his temple.

Kibum only just manages to bite off the squawk of fright as he whips his head up and finds mismatched eyes, bright with silent laughter, staring down at him.

Jonghyun puts the can of cola on the table at Kibum's elbow and hunkers down next to him on the bench.

“Still scared of heights?” He asks placidly, popping the tab on his own can.

“Drown anyone lately?” Kibum fires back. He even meets Jonghyun’s eyes when he says it.

The mirth falls off Jonghyun’s face. It leaves him looking too sharp, too other, under the neon lights around them. Kibum looks away not exactly out of guilt but something close enough. He opens his drink and washes down the bitter taste of his own words.

Around them, Wolmido is bustling with sound and laughter but the silence between them is a vacuum. A gulf of disquiet that, even after years of tangled, tentative friendship, will never be filled. Too many should-haves and shouldn't haves. Now what stretched between them was a graveyard of unopened doors that were nailed shut like coffin lids haunted by the ghosts of what they could have been.

Kibum thumbs the condensation on his can. There are days when they can be civil with each other, pretend they're the friends they always should have been. Then there are the times like tonight that come out of nowhere but spark like a flash fire. The two of them can only sit in silence as things burn down between them.

Jonghyun doesn't speak again until Kibum is draining the last of his cola from its can.

“Where's Taemin?” The question is an olive branch.

Kibum set his empty can down. “The ferris wheel.”

Jonghyun digs his cellphone out as he stands and Kibum peers up at him. The faint blue glow of the screen doesn't help him decipher the closed off look on Jonghyun’s face as he types out a message.

“Why?” Kibum asks when Jonghyun shoves his phone back in his pocket. “What are you doing?”

“Setting better things in motion.”

Vague bitch, Kibum thinks. But the mild annoyance is replaced by the guilt he should have felt earlier as Kibum reads between the lines. The albatross around Jonghyun’s neck, ever present, was shackled there the day he was born. Kibum knows he'll carry its weight until the sea takes him, or however it is that sirens die. It’s so fucking stupid, Kibum thinks, that Jonghyun makes himself carry it alone.

“You still think you're guilty, don't you?” Kibum asks softly. It's not the first time, and won't be the last, but he doesn't want to think about that.

Jonghyun is quiet, staring off into the middle distance. He tosses his own empty can into a bin and then pierces Kibum with his eyes.

“Why do you think we're so bitter?” He asks.

Kibum isn’t sure who he means, if it’s the two of them, sirens and the like, or all of the above. Either way, he can honestly admit that he doesn't know and says as much.

“We're raised by salt.” Jonghyun says simply, almost like a joke. Except he isn’t laughing.

Kibum isn't given the chance to respond as Jonghyun shoves his hands into his jean pockets and walks into Wolmido’s night crowd. He follows Jonghyun’s back until he loses him in the press of people.

It takes longer than it should for Jonghyun’s words to make any sort of sense in Kibum’s mind.

The salt of the sea; the salt of tears.

The ferris wheel looms like a massive neon eye above Taemin’s head. He stands for a moment to watch the buckets slowly go up. Several feet in the air, a child screams. Taemin isn’t sure whether it’s in terror or delight. Excitement blooms in his belly as the line inches forward.

“Single or double?” The attendant asks.

Taemin has ‘single’ ready and waiting on his tongue but he’s stopped by a voice from behind him. It makes his stomach drop and the reply dies a quick death behind his teeth.

“Double, please.”

Taemin doesn’t have to turn around to know it’s Jinki. He doesn’t have to look back to know there’s a set of dark brown eyes waiting to meet his. He doesn’t have to do either of these things but he wants to so he does.

It’s stupid how just looking at Jinki, someone he’s been trying not to think about for weeks, can make him almost breathless. He doesn’t even look all that different from the last time Taemin laid eyes on him, but here he is, staring at Jinki as if he’s seeing him for the first time.

“If you don’t mind riding with me, that is?” Jinki asks. He’s staring too, Taemin notices.

“Uh no,” Taemin replies lamely because it’s that kind of night. “I’ll ride you—with you!”

Jinki’s laugh cools the flames licking up Taemin’s face. God, he thinks, I’m an idiot.

The line attendant directs them to a separate waiting area. Taemin follows quietly behind Jinki, trying to quell his embarrassment. It doesn’t work very well because, of course, the double-rider line is full of couples. Face burning like a house on fire, Taemin doggedly ignores the kissing pair ahead of them.

“Thanks,” Jinki says. He leans back on his heels and stares up at the ferris wheel.

The bright neon lights wash over him and he suddenly looks different. Sharper. Attuned to the night.

Taemin shivers and asks, “for what?”

Jinki’s eyes, when they make the slow descent back to Taemin’s, are almost black.

“I heard what happened between you and Minho.” He says softly. “You could’ve told me to get lost, but you didn’t. So, thanks.”

Minho. Taemin’s jaw clenches at the thought of him. Of course, he’d talk to Jinki about it. For a second, Taemin let himself pretend Minho didn’t even exist. Stupid, he thinks.

Without sounding too polemic, Taemin says, “What’s it got to do with you and me? Him being—” he tries to think of something that isn’t an expletive, “—Minho, isn’t really going change how I see you. You’re nice.”

That gets Taemin a soft smile and it twists sharply in his guts. Being around Jinki is torture but Taemin doesn’t care, so long as Jinki kept looking at him like that; like he’s someone Jinki wants to be around.

“You’re nice too,” Jinki replies slowly as they inch forward, closer to the platform. “So is Minho, when he isn’t being a hothead.” He laughs to himself and spears Taemin with a glance. “We had a bit of an argument about it.”

That sends a cold chill down Taemin’s spine and he almost apologizes, the words ready in his mouth, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t have anything to be sorry for and the way Jinki is looking at him tells Taemin he isn’t expecting anything from him. So Taemin says nothing and they stare at one another under the neon haze of the ferris wheel; an all-seeing eye above them.

“Minho was completely out of line and he knows it.” Jinki says after a beat, like he too was entranced for a moment.

“Are you saying I should let him off the hook?”

“Make him work for it. Let him apologize first.” The soft look is back on his face but this time Jinki’s eyes rake Taemin from head to toe. “You’re worth that much, at the very least.”

Taemin’s skin stretches taut over his bones, equal parts hot and clammy, and he can’t find the words to say anything back. Not with the way Jinki stares at him. Even if he wanted to say something, he couldn’t as they’re promptly ushered into an empty bucket on the ferris wheel.

“Can I?” Jinki asks, nodding at the empty space beside Taemin.

Feeling shy, and stupidly giddy, for no good reason, Taemin ducks his head and scoots over a far as he can. Which isn't far. The bucket's seats are cramped and he ends up pressed between the cool metal of the door and the firm wall of warmth and muscle that is Jinki’s ample thigh.

Taemin is acutely aware of even the tiniest movement the older man makes, feels it from hip to mid-calf; the places they're pressed closest together.

On the heels of the shyness and giddiness is guilt, though. He shouldn't be this happy with someone else's boyfriend–Minho’s boyfriend. Taemin shouldn't want Jinki’s attention; he shouldn't feel special being the singular focus of the gentle smile pulling at Jinki’s lips. Taemin knows all of this but still, his eyes lift and find Jinki’s as the Ferris wheel shudders into motion.

Shit, he thinks, as they ascend slowly. He almost can't breathe under the weight of Jinki's gaze.

Jinki watches the tension leech out of Taemin slowly; feels it bleed into his own skin instead. Doing this is cheating, technically, and Jinki knows this. It's rule he created for himself when he was just a kid but if it helps to get the tight, caged look off Taemin’s face then he’d do it until he couldn't anymore.

“That's you, isn't it?” Taemin asks quiet and breathy and it's a sound that suits him perfectly.

“Yes,” Jinki admits without pride and guilt.

The shadows that'd been haunting Taemin’s eyes clear out like clouds on a bright day. He sits back in his seat, easier and freer, in his own skin than he was moments ago.

“Vampire,” he jokes. Jinki notes it's without malice, just like the first time he'd made it in the tea shop.

“Does it make you uncomfortable?” Jinki asks, and hopes it doesn't; it's the last thing he wants.

Taemin bites his lip, tugging it between his teeth, when he shakes his head. It’s shy and sweet and endearing almost to the point of absurdity. “Good,” Jinki says. He’s proud of his neutral tone. “I’m glad.”

Jinki looks out at the vast darkness of the sound and the distant blinking lights of houses and cell towers just to keep his eyes off Taemin. They aren’t quite at the top yet but it’s still a decent view. But it doesn’t compare to Taemin. Even in nothing more than an overly baggy sweater, dark skinny jeans, and worn boots, Taemin is a wonder unto himself. Jinki suddenly regrets sitting so close to him.

The pull between them is all too familiar, all too electric. It had drawn him to Minho when they first met, a gravitational pull unlike any other. And Jinki, through his extrasensory perception, knows Taemin feels it too.

In the back of his mind, Jinki hears Jonghyun’s voice. If he concentrates hard enough, he can even recall the cafe setting, the quiet background noise, and the steady look in Jonghyun’s eyes as he spoke.

“The instantaneous draw is a self-preservation instinct from the ancient days of dying gods trying in vain to keep pieces of themselves alive. It’s arrogance and survival.” Jonghyun takes a deep pull from his coffee cup before continuing. “Things like us—the blessed,” he says it in the same tone someone else would use to say damned, “we’re better equipped to love others like us. Normal people sense it on an instinctual level that we can’t love them like they need to be loved.”

Indulging Jonghyun’s philosophical moment, Jinki asks why, fascinated as usual by Jonghyun’s insight.

“We love too much, too intensely, and all at once. Because of this, we’re harder to love by others not like us. It’s an inescapable paradox; a game no one wins.”

“So, we shouldn’t fall in love with the so-called normal people?” Jinki turns his empty cup around in circles in his hands. “That seems a bit exclusionary.”

“It is,” Jonghyun agrees, “and, in the face of love, it’s absolute shit. Love is stupid. It has no rhyme or reason, which just compounds the issue.” He waves his hand dismissively, clearly ready to move on from the topic. “What I’m getting at is, that for things like us, it’s different. The months of agonizing guess work are gone. For a lot us, there’s no: does he like me? is she flirting with me? are they the one? All of that is just gone. The awkward stages are skipped, and to be completely puritanical, what’s left is two creatures that, in an instant, seemed to have already lived lifetimes together.”

“That’s an exaggeration,” Jinki says slowly, still trying to wrap his head around everything.

Jonghyun downs the last of his coffee and as he sets his mug back on the table, he spears Jinki with mismatched eyes. “Is it? When you met Minho, things clicked into place for you, no? Your worlds collided so perfectly, that now you can’t picture him not in your life. You two have shared your hearts and beds with other people, but none of them were blessed.”

It’s true and it felt like a punch to the gut to have Jonghyun point it out like that. Like what Jinki and Minho have is something cheap and somehow fake. That their relationship is nothing more than a predetermined outcome instead of the uniquely singular moments it was really made of. The late night talks over cup noodles and overcooked meat. The few serious fights they’ve had. Small moments, big moments. It was galvanizing to have his life with Minho seem transient and empty.

Gently, Jonghyun says, “it doesn’t lessen what you two have in any way. Your feelings for each other are still real, still valid. It’s just something that simply is; it’s how we’re wired.” He smiles, a soft and pretty turn of his lips. “Call it the heartlines of peculiar things.”

The ferris-wheel grinds to a halt as it reaches the top, metal whining with the effort. Jinki feels juttering down to his bones.

Sat beside Taemin now, everything Jonghyun said that day makes a bizarrely accurate kind of sense. Jinki mentally lets loose a few choice words at Jonghyun, wherever he is, for his uncanny insight and for laying it in Jinki’s lap; like some sort of burden of proof.

Jinki also curses himself for indulging Jonghyun at the time. He has to physically stop himself from rolling his eyes at past his past-self's stupidity.

Instead, he watches Taemin stare out at the expanse of darkness back-lit by artificial city lights below them. The little bit of breeze blowing through the bucket plays with strands of Taemin’s dark hair like an old friend. He cuts a picturesque if melancholic image.

Jinki struggles with how to bring up the subject of their peculiar heartlines, if he even should. It would be disingenuous not to, right? He licks his lips nervously but Taemin speaks first.

“Does it work on yourself?” His voice is quiet but Jinki still jerks at the sound of it.

“Does what work?”

Taemin turns to face him. There's an unsettling remoteness to his dark eyes that puts Jinki on edge.

“The vampire thing.” He blinks and for a moment Jinki isn't subject to the sadness clearly swimming in the depths of his eyes. The reprieve lasts less than a second and then Taemin’s gaze is on him. “If you didn't want to feel something could you just not? Can you make it go away?”

If he had a list of questions he expected people to ask about his gift, Taemin’s wouldn't make the top. Hell, it wouldn't even make the top one-hundred. Not to mention how heartbreaking it was to hear something like that come out of Taemin’s mouth in that small, sad voice.

“No,” Jinki says when he can finally force the words out of his throat. “I can't use it on myself.”

Taemin makes to look away, as if he's ashamed of his own question, and without much thought Jinki gently tilts Taemin’s face up with one finger pressed to his chin. Jinki pushes until Taemin looks at him. His skin is smooth and warm against the pad of Jinki’s finger and he tries not to focus on that.

“Besides, what I do doesn't take away feelings.” Jinki continues. “I can lessen them to something dull and undefinable but I make them disappear. I can also, to an extent, heighten and transfer emotions, but at the end of the day, I have no real control over them. Why?”

Taemin’s eyes slide to some point over Jinki’s shoulder. “Does it matter?”

“It seems to.”

The ferris-wheel groans to life once more as they make their descent. Jinki’s finger slides slowly away from Taemin’s chin, definitely doesn't twitch when Jinki thinks about dragging it over the bump of Taemin’s adam’s apple. He puts his hands in his lap and firmly keeps them to himself. They make the downward journey in a taut silence.

Dammit, Jinki thinks. This isn't how he wanted things to go. They're almost to the ground again when his tongue finally unsticks itself from the roof of his mouth.

“Taemin, look I—”

Jinki has the briefest warning, just the tiny shove of want pushing into his senses, before Taemin is sliding in close. His warm hand presses into Jinki’s thigh as his face draws nearer. It's tempting to kiss Taemin here and now, quick and deep, but Jinki gently pushes him away.

“I can't.” Jinki says.

And that's rejection sweeping up his leg and curling cold and nasty in his gut. Dammit.

“You don’t see me like that.” Taemin intones, flat except where disappointment makes his voice wave.

Taemin wrenches the little door on the bucket open and is off the ride before it fully stops. His boots thud on the metal platform as he stalks off. He ignores the shouts of the ride attendant and Jinki too. Idiot, he thinks numbly. He’s such an idiot.

He tastes Jinki before he feels the hand around his wrist. Even in the small crowd, he can taste nothing but Jinki and Taemin hates himself for that. He hates the way his mind flashes to being only inches away from Jinki’s lips, the ghost of his breath puffing against his own, and he hates how he still wants to kiss him.

Jinki pulls him back and they stare at one another under the neon lights.

“I do think of you that way.” He says. “It’s just—”

“You’re with Minho.” Taemin gets it. He had no right to even try it on with Jinki in the first place. What the hell had he been thinking?

“Yeah, there’s that, but there’s also more to this that needs explaining.”

Taemin wrenches his arm out of Jinki’s loosened grasp. “I can take the knock back, you know. You don’t have to treat me like some kid.”

“Taemin,” Jinki pulls him back again but rather than reaching for Taemin’s arm, he takes him by the hand.

As if outside of himself, Taemin feels barest hint of attraction and desire. His stomach tightens and for a moment, he’s embarrassed by his body.

“I do think of you like that.” Jinki says, voice quiet but breathy. It clicks in Taemin’s mind suddenly that this is Jinki; the warmth creeping up his arm and pooling low in his belly is Jinki. “But there things I should explain to you, and I want to, if you’d give me the chance.”

Jinki draws away and Taemin almost wants to lean into him again. He doesn’t. Instead, he wraps his arms around himself. “And Minho?” They’re always going to circle back to him.

“He’s a part of it, yes.” Jinki says. “We have an open relationship so long as we keep each other informed.”

Taemin’s eyes go wide. Of all the things he could say about Minho, Taemin wasn’t expecting Jinki to say that. He thinks back the angry, pit-viper mouthed Minho and still can’t picture him being okay with sharing Jinki.

“The other thing is the more complicated part.” Taemin can see the way Jinki struggles to get the words out, too make it less complicated for him. It’s in the way Jinki drags his hand through his hair in a rough, jerky motion. His mouth opens, closes with a harsh click of teeth.

They stare at each other for a moment and then Jinki laughs softly, shaking his head.

“What?” Taemin asks, feeling confused.

“It’s just—” Jinki looses an explosive sigh. “It’s the heartlines of peculiar things; it’s how we’re wired.”

Taemin frowned and an echo of the rowdy discussion Jonghyun and Kibum had last night in Kibum’s kitchen comes to mind. They’d been drunk on the rosé prosecco a client left for Kibum, lamenting love and all its troublesome baggage. Jonghyun, not as toasted as Kibum, launched into philosophical monologue of doomed relationships for anyone blessed. That ended with both Taemin and Kibum loudly shouting about how wrong Jonghyun was.

Jonghyun’s theory on love for people like them was complete and absolute bullshit and Taemin said as much last night. He says it again, now.

“You don’t believe in his bullshit, do you?” Taemin laughs as he asks. “I think he says stuff like that because he’s scared. He’s scared of what he is and what he could do to the people he loves.”

Watching the way Jonghyun interacted, and reacted, with Kibum last night drew on something inside of Taemin. It recognized the fear and hunger in Jonghyun’s eyes as they tracked Kibum wherever he went. The need to love and be loved. He’d tasted it in Jonghyun the first day they met, the bitterness of how alone he was, and it didn’t click until after their heated discussion about love.

Jinki looks at him in surprise. “You know about that?”

“I know he’s using it as an excuse, as something to hide behind.” Taemin cuts his eyes to Jinki. “I told you. I’m not some kid.”

“No,” Jinki’s mouth stretches into an attractive smirk, “no you’re not.” He steps closer to Taemin and kisses him, soft and warm.

Minho’s phone buzzes in his back pocket as he shrugs into his jacket on the way out of the shop. He’d stayed late to help close up. It was a more worthwhile endeavor than some party on the island, even if he and Jinki hadn’t had proper night out together given the state of the last few weeks between them. Throughout Minho’s shift, Jinki texted him pictures of how the night was progressing.

He opens the image file as Mr. Lee waves him out of the shop. Minho is expecting another vague, blurry shot of popcorn or beondegi. What he gets is a picture of Taemin’s smiling profile illuminated by neon lights. Minho stops under the shop’s awning and stares down at his phone. Around him, people brush past.

It’s a good picture with its soft, colorful lighting. It also helps that the subject of the photo is attractive, especially when he smiles the way he is. Not sharp or forced, but genuine and maybe a little shy.

Minho waits for the old anger to coil in his stomach. He waits for it to spill hot and molten through his veins. Instead, he pictures Jinki’s face and knows without a doubt there’d be a soft and gentle look there as he watched Taemin smile, maybe even laugh. Where he expected anger, Minho gets a small niggle of desire instead. He’d like to see Taemin smile that for himself; he’d like to be the one who makes Taemin smile like that.

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Notes: come follow me on tumblr: cosipotente!

big up to quellazaire for the beta and generally putting up with my shit!

six months later, i've brought the next installment of this piece of garbage! i cba to write the actual party scene. at first that was where the jinki/taemin moment was going to happen but then i liked the idea of the theme park scene better. but i think my favorite scene to write was definitely the kibum and jonghyun one. jjong's my favorite in this fic!

i'm sorry if the quality of this is subpar. :( i've got a 'deleted scene' to post and then i'll probably see you lot in the new year ha ha. also, let me know if you'd be interested in the link to the playlist i made for this on spotify!

started: 2013-09-13
Tags: *wip, fandom: shinee, length: chaptered, medium: kpop, pairing: jinki/minho, pairing: jinki/taemin, rating: pg
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