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Jun. 20th, 2015

guitar

False Gods [part iii]

>>>see here for part ii<<<

Jongin was standing at Kyungsoo's door step, nervously fiddling with the plastic bag in his hands. The bag was printed with the flashy brand colours of the local speciality market for electronic devices and contained a spanking new set of loudspeakers. Jongin had purchased them earlier that day, in yet another attempt to regain Kyungsoo's goodwill.

During the last two weeks, Kyungsoo had ignored Jongin quite thoroughly, strictly refusing to even talk to the latter and only hanging out with Chanyeol after school. Jongin was sure that if he hadn't known that their tall friend was already head over heels for this Baekhyun guy, he would've probably gone crazy with jealousy. It was a strange feeling to suddenly be robbed of this absolute attention that Kyungsoo usually only reserved for him, but was now giving to Chanyeol instead. To be kept at such distance from Kyungsoo was new for Jongin and he barely had any idea on how to handle it. With every day that passed in this fashion, Jongin realised that he was missing his best friend more and more.

He knew that the reason for this silence had something to do with what had happened at the photo shoot. Jongin very soon afterwards had felt bad about how the situation had escalated. (It seemed that he even had made Kyungsoo cry!?) Guiltily, he had gone to the music shop to buy several CDs and give them to Kyungsoo to show that he was sorry. However, so far, Jongin had exasperatedly found all of them chucked back into his own mailbox, wrapping untouched and without even so much as a note. Jongin was stumped. He knew that Kyungsoo had wanted to own these records for a while, so why did he reject them? Jongin now found himself at his wits' end. Maybe the loudspeakers would finally change the older boy's mind and make him stop being so grouchy...

Suddenly, the door in front of him opened and Jongin was jerked out of his thoughts. As soon as Kyungsoo saw who was standing outside, he rolled his eyes and made to throw the door shut again without uttering a single word, but Jongin hastily placed his foot in the gap to stop the door from closing.

“Wait! Kyungsoo! I wanted to give you–”

“Not interested,” Kyungsoo cut him off. Angrily, he pressed against the wooden door, trying to shut it in spite of Jongin's foot still blocking it.

“No, listen, it's a brand new–” the younger boy started again, raising the colourful plastic bag in the air.

“I said I don't want it, Jongin.” His tone was even colder now. Kyungsoo frowned and heaved a big sigh as if what he was about to say wasn't an easy task. Finally, he looked Jongin straight in the eyes and his voice turned icy:

“When will you understand that I am not corruptible?

And with that, he kicked Jongin's foot away and swiftly shut the door right into his startled face.

~*~

The loud bass was thumping through the huge and luxuriously furnished mansion, animating the countless guests of the house party to move to the music on one of the several available spaces that served as makeshift dance floors. Not even the buzzing sound of the numerous conversations could drown it out and it was therefore still audible outside by the pool side, where Jongin was currently slumped on a beach chair, half-empty cocktail drink clutched in his hand. He wasn't sure if the rhythmic, painful thudding in his head came from the beat or from the alcohol coursing through his veins. Probably both.

Staring at the endless, starry sky above him, Jongin recapitulated how Luhan had persuaded him to join him and the others to one of these high-class house parties. Jongin didn't have a clue who this stately home even belonged to, but in lack of anything better to do, he had agreed to tag along. So Jongin had danced and drunk and danced some more, desperately trying to erase Kyungsoo's haunting cold eyes from his memory, but to no avail. On the contrary, when he had decided to go outside for a few gulps of fresh air, and sat down next to a few girls clad in barely more than bikinis, striking up a slightly slurred conversation with them, without intending to, he had started rambling incoherently about his best friend. At first, the girls had tried to be polite, listening to his spouting or at least pretending to. However, after he'd babbled random facts about Kyungsoo for over ten minutes non-stop, they had exchanged confused and annoyed looks. As soon as Jongin took a deep breath to tell yet another anecdote from his childhood with Kyungsoo, the girls hurriedly stood up, muttered a few excuses and fled.

Now Jongin was left alone again. He briefly considered beginning a search for his friends, but quickly discarded the idea again. He didn't quite feel like combing through the entire mansion and spacious garden at the moment.

He wondered what Kyungsoo was doing right now...

From the corner of his eye, Jongin saw a person sit down on one of the beach chairs next to his.

“Hey,” an unfamiliar voice greeted him.

Jongin turned his still aching head, squinting at the other. “Huh? Who...?”

The stranger smiled at him. “Me?” he said in a friendly tone and pointed at himself. “Well, have you heard of... SHINee?”

Jongin suddenly recognised the guy and his eyes widened in shock. He scrambled up into a more upright sitting position. “Wait, wait, wait, what?!” he stammered, baffled. “Are you really...?!”

The guy chuckled, “Yes, I'm Lee Taemin.” He winked. “Nice to meet you.”

Jongin gaped at him for a second, before he blurted the first thing that came to his mind: “Oh my god, my best friend is a huge SHINee fan.”

Taemin smirked. “Oh yeah? That's nice... and what about you?” While speaking, he extended his hand and grabbed Jongin's wrist. Standing up, Taemin pulled the other up to his feet as well.

“I guess I'm a fan, too... But Kyungsoo really loves your music, he bought all your records,” Jongin mumbled as Taemin guided him purposefully through the bustle by his wrist, towards the bar. He placed Jongin on one of the couches close by.

“Wait here for me, I'll get you something to drink,” Taemin said.

“But I still have...” Jongin started and weakly raised the glass in his other hand, but Taemin was already out of sight. He sighed and slumped down on the cushions, slurping the rest of the drink in his hands. When he finished, Jongin turned around to the group of party guests perched at the other end of the long couch. His vision was beginning to get a bit blurry again and for some reason he felt the strong urge to tell them about that time in middle school when Kyungsoo played the role of a chicken in drama class. He was so busy describing the ridiculous feathery costume Kyungsoo had had to wear back then in minute detail, that he didn't notice the looks of utter boredom on the faces of his audience. They were finally released when suddenly, Taemin reappeared behind him, carrying two impressively coloured drinks in his hands, thus averting Jongin's attention away from the other guests.

“Here, this is for you,” Taemin said and handed one of the drinks to Jongin.

“Ah, perfect, I'm parched!” Jongin exclaimed and immediately gulped down a few sips.

However, Taemin furrowed his eyebrows and quickly pulled Jongin's drink out of his hands again. “Don't drink everything now, stupid!” he said as he gave the cup back to him. It almost sounded as if he was scolding him.

Jongin pouted for a moment, before he recognised the song which had just started to play over the numerous speakers in the house. His eyes, even though already getting a bit unfocused, lit up. “That's it!” he cried out excitedly, unaware of the further confused looks he was receiving from the people around, as he ran towards the nearest dance floor. “Taemin! That's the song!” he called over to the stunned Taemin. “The one of which I taught Kyungsoo the dance back when we were like ten or something! Wait, I think it went like this...” He started to move, trying to remember the steps of the choreography. Jongin was so caught up in his drunken euphoria of being able to remember most of the dance, that he didn't even notice how the drink he'd just got from Taemin sloshed about. It caused the other guests on the dance floor besides him to widen the circle around him even more, wearing various expressions of disgust.

Before the song had even reached its second chorus, Taemin quickly grabbed Jongin by the arm again and pulled him away from the crowd. Taemin briefly threw a sullen glance back over his shoulder at the little puddles of the spilt drink on the dance floor, before they left the room into the hallway. Taemin walked up the stairs to the upper floor, the quietly babbling, inebriated Jongin in tow. He steered Jongin into the next empty guest room, followed him inside and slammed the door shut behind himself. With this banging sound, abrupt silence filled the grey darkness of the room. Just when one strained their ears, the faint thumping of the music downstairs could still be heard. The only source of light came from outside, from the flickering reflections of the pool's bright underwater illumination.

Jongin suddenly felt very dizzy. Clutching his head and groaning, he staggered towards one of the high windows. He reached for the window sill and held on to it in order to regain his faltering sense of balance.

“What's wrong?” he heard Taemin ask quietly from behind.

Jongin scrunched his nose. “I... I don't know... I suddenly feel... a bit dizzy...” He blinked several times to dispel the weird blots which suddenly impaired his vision.

“Oh, is that so?” Taemin said, an eerie calm to his voice. He gently took Jongin's wrist again and slowly pulled him the few steps over to the nearby bed. Still unsteady on his legs, Jongin flopped down on the edge of the bed. Sitting down like this, it made him immediately feel a bit better. The room around him stopped spinning, but the blots kept dancing before his eyes. Jongin started rubbing them with his fingertips. He could feel the mattress dip next to him as Taemin sat down on the bed, too. Jongin stopped rubbing his eyes but left them shut and sighed.

“Dude, I feel weird,” he muttered and furrowed his brows.

Taemin placed a hand on Jongin's shoulder and began to gently press down, nudging the younger boy to stretch out his back on the bed. “Lie down,” Taemin murmured close to Jongin's ear. “It'll help with the dizziness...”

Still with his eyes closed, Jongin just lay on his back, letting his befuddled mind wander a bit. Rustling sounds were audible from somewhere in the otherwise quiet room.

“You know,” Jongin started after a few minutes, putting his forearm over his closed eyes. If only the painful thumping in his skull would stop... “Kyungsoo won't believe me I met the real Taemin,” he went on, tongue a bit heavy. “I mean, the real Lee Taemin from SHINee. He'll be so envious... Hey, have I told you about my best friend Kyungsoo? He's very cute. Like, exceptionally cute... His eyes and his smile... But he can be very scary, too, if he wants to. Man, he's so cool and handsome... and sassy and smart... sometimes even sexy, though I'm not sure if he's always aware of it. But this makes him even more adorable, you know? And he can sing like an angel sent from heaven...” Jongin rambled before heaving a big sigh. “But we had a fight the other day... And can you believe that after just three days I already miss him so much,” he whined. Then he sighed again, defeated. “I think I might be really... in love with Kyungsoo,” Jongin concluded in a tiny voice.

“Okay, you know what, screw this!” he suddenly heard Taemin's annoyed voice from... above him?

Jongin quickly pulled his arm away and snapped his eyes open. He jumped in shock when he saw Taemin's face hovering only a few hand's widths above his own.

“What?!” Jongin hurriedly scrambled backwards to get away from the other, who was perched on the bed on all fours. “What's going on?!”

“I can't do this if you honestly won't shut up about this guy!” Taemin said with a profound scowl and leaned back again to sit on his heels.

“Can't do what?” Jongin was so confused.

Taemin gave him an incredulous look. “Well, what do you think?”

Jongin's eyes widened when he noticed with another flinch that Taemin was – apart from a pair of boxer shorts – not wearing clothes anymore.

“Wait, what... What are you trying to... Oh my god, don't tell me you were...” Jongin stammered as realisation began to dawn on him. He gasped and jumped to his feet. Thankfully his dizziness from before was gone... Wait, now it made sense!
“You tried to roofie me!” Jongin yelled, almost hysterical, pointing at Taemin accusingly.

However, the other just shrugged, unfazed. “Yeah, well, I tried. But then you decided to spill the damn drink.”

“But, but that's illegal!”

“And so is underage drinking?” Taemin just raised an eyebrow.

Jongin gaped at him in disbelief for a minute before he pulled himself together. “Anyway! I will not, I repeat, I will not do anything with you,” he yelled and shook his head vehemently. “Not here, not now. Not ever! Gosh, you're so gross...”

He had reached the door when Taemin called after him, “Oh yeah? You were the one who killed the mood anyway, Jonghyun!”

Jongin furiously ripped the door open, but stopped on its step to turn around to a sour looking Taemin once again. “My name is Jongin, you asshole,” he spat. “But it is Kai to you anyway!”

Then he turned around and dashed off.

~*~

The seventeenth pebble finally hit the glass of the window pane. Jongin was panting in the nightly darkness in front of Kyungsoo's house. The next street lamp shone roughly ten metres away down the silent street, spending just enough light for Jongin to be able to detect the tiny stones lying on the pavement which he could use as projectiles.

Despite it being summer, the air felt chilly on Jongin's heated skin as he stood there in front of the fence isolating him from the neatly kept front yard beyond. He'd run all the way from the nearest bigger night bus stop since the trains had stopped running already hours ago. Moreover, aiming correctly for the window which he knew to be the one of Kyungsoo's room (and only this window! He didn't want to think of what would happen if he roused Kyungsoo's parents from their sleep), had turned out to be quite more difficult than he had expected. He stared up at the window, waiting for a response. He winced when nothing stirred behind the drawn curtains even after five minutes. Sighing, Jongin bent down to pick up another pebble.

It took him a least another five or six throws until he managed to hit the glass once again. Unfortunately, this stone had been a slightly bigger one, as he had already run out of the tinier stones on the pavement, so the clanging noise resounded louder than he had intended. He prayed that he didn't actually damage the glass...

The curtains moved and Jongin saw one single eye peeking through the crack between them. Jongin waved his hand awkwardly. Kyungsoo recognised him and yanked the curtains abruptly to the sides, wearing an expression that looked like a mix of annoyance, curiosity, confusion and a bit of concern, too.

Jongin sent a sheepish smile and a shrug.

Kyungsoo shrugged as well, shaking his head and raising one eyebrow. What is it?

Jongin pointed first at himself and then at Kyungsoo, before awkwardly forming a snout with his fingers and opening and closing it repeatedly. We need to talk... He pointed at the entrance door. Can you come downstairs?

Kyungsoo rolled his eyes and Jongin feared he would get rejected once again. However, the older boy then nodded and signalled Jongin to come to the door step, before disappearing from the window. Unable to suppress a grin of relief, Jongin complied.

“Are you crazy? Do you have any idea how late it is?” were Kyungsoo's whispered greeting words when he opened the door.

Jongin made a guilty face. “I know, I'm sorry...” He took a deep breath of courage before he continued in a low voice, “But I realised what an idiot I've been ever since I started this modelling crap. And I came to tell you that I am through with it, starting right now.”

Kyungsoo just gaped at him incredulously, so Jongin reached for his pocket and pulled out his phone. He swiftly unlocked the screen and pressed a few buttons. Then, he held the screen up in front of Kyungsoo's face and the older boy had to squint at the sudden brightness.

“What–?”

Jongin chuckled at the cutely scrunched up expression of the other. He retrieved the device a bit. “Sorry... Look here, I just want to show you: I'm done. I'm officially deleting the scheduling app of the model agency,” he explained. And with a flourish, he pressed the last button that made the application vanish from his phone. Jongin beamed at the older boy proudly.

However, Kyungsoo still stared at him, puzzled and apparently speechless for a minute. “But– But I thought you had so much fun doing it?” he finally said.

Jongin smiled. “Well, nothing is much fun to me if I can't share it with you, Kyungsoo. What's the use of having thousands of friends, when they're all fake? What is all the fame in the world if I can't share it with my very best and most special friend?” The sincerity of his words coloured his own cheeks pink and Jongin was glad that the street lamp's light didn't quite reach them on the doorstep.

However, despite the darkness, he could make out the row of straight white teeth in front of him, indicating Kyungsoo's wide smile. “Took you long enough, Jongin,” he said cheekily, but the warmth in his tone was still evident.

During the following moment of silence, Jongin contemplated if he should reach out and take Kyungsoo's hand, but before he could even work up the courage, Kyungsoo spoke again.

“Hey, have you heard about how Chanyeol asked Baekhyun out in front of the entire school?”

“What?! No!” Jongin exclaimed in genuine surprise and Kyungsoo had to hastily gesticulate to him to keep his voice low. Quieter, the younger boy continued, “Woah, how brave of him! And what did Baekhyun reply? Did he accept?!”

Kyungsoo nodded but then he turned around, motioning for Jongin to follow him inside. “Come on in, I'll tell you everything,” he whispered. “So last week, Chanyeol brought his guitar to school and...”

As Jongin listened to his best friend's whispered account, he couldn't help the content feeling of being finally back where he belonged.

~*~

“Who's your favourite SHINee member again, Soo?”

“Jonghyun.”

“Ah, okay, good.”

“...Why?”

“Nothing.”

[end]

A/N:

- this fic was heavily inspired by two songs of simple plan: “freaking me out” & “loser of the year”; the first song is for kyungsoo's pov and the second for jongin's. (i highly recommend that u go and listen to them both, after all because they're simply brilliant songs hehe)
- i would like to cordially apologise to all kris-, luhan-, jessica-, tao- and taemin-stans!!!!!! pls don't take it personally that i made them the villainous bitch-squad... i'd like to assure u that i love all those idols irl; esp lulu is my babe T^T it pained me to write them in such a mean way...
- this fic is dedicated to my honeybun-sugarplum named yuku, in return for giving me that superstylish exo/chanyeol phone case for xmas! <3 sorry that ur gift comes six months late hahaha but you know me... orz also sry again for not using any of ur prompts besides “kaisoo pls” lmao... i hope u still liked it tho??
- further dedications as always to cedric and eva because I LOVE U BOTH WITH ALL MY KOKORO <33

- credit for the title also goes to cedric! he's a genius with them
- and if you, dear reader, have read this far, please leave a comment and tell me what you think about my story. i'm always happy about feedback ^_^ Thank you~

guitar

False Gods [part ii]

>>>see here for part i<<<

~*~ [PART II]

The next day after school, Kyungsoo anxiously sat on his bed in his room, unable to concentrate on the novel in his hands. On their way home, Jongin had told the older boy that he would go to his own house first to change, and then come over to Kyungsoo's. That had been about half an hour ago, so Jongin could arrive any minute now.

The door bell shrilled and Kyungsoo jumped to his feet as if stung by an adder. He rushed down the stairs, repeating his pre-fabricated words in his head like a mantra, and came to a sliding halt behind the front door. He took one last breath, before he opened the door with a flourish.

“Jongin, we need to talk.”

His best friend, looking a bit like a deer in headlights, gaped at him for a moment, fingers still poised over the phone in his hands; apparently he had been just about to send a text. There was a beat of silence and Kyungsoo took a step back, to indicate that Jongin could come in. The younger boy looked puzzled but nodded slowly. He switched off the screen of his phone and pushed the device into his pocket before he stepped inside the house. He looked at Kyungsoo curiously while he toed off his shoes, but the older boy didn't quite meet his eyes.

When Kyungsoo closed the door of his room behind them, Jongin finally spoke up. “Soo, before I forget to tell you, I–”

“No, let me get this off my chest first, please,” Kyungsoo interrupted him nervously.

Jongin gave another slightly confused look, but waited patiently for Kyungsoo to continue.

“I racked my brain about how to break this to you as gently as possible, but I came up with nothing so I decided to tell you what I think right away,” Kyungsoo said. He took another deep breath and finally looked up again into Jongin's face.

“I think your model friends are not real friends. In fact, I think they're assholes.”

“...Wha– ?” Jongin's dumbfounded expression looked almost comical. “Wait, are you talking about Luhan and the others? But why would you say something like this?”

“I overheard their conversation yesterday,” Kyungsoo explained hesitantly. “And they said some really mean things. About me. Although they don't even know me...” He sighed.

Jongin gave another blank look but then he seemed to remember. “Ahh, you mean in front of the school gates? But they were so nice to you, I don't recall...”

“No, it was before you turned up. I was only able to overhear it because they didn't seem to recognise me... Look, Jongin, I know that you value them a lot and it isn't nice to hear such a thing, but as your best friend who cares about you, I really think you should stop hanging out with them...”

“But I don't... I mean what did they even say?!”

“They made really mean comments about me being a nerd...”

“But I do that all the time, too? I don't get– Don't you know that's just a joke...?”

“They weren't joking!” Kyungsoo said, slightly louder now.

“Why are you so sensitive about this? I'm sure that whatever they said, they didn't mean it in a bad way,” Jongin retorted defensively.

“I know they meant it in a really insulting way!” Kyungsoo said heatedly.

“Kyungsoo, why are you mad now?!” Jongin said, in an equally loud voice now. He shook his head, “I still think this is a misunderstanding.”

“Believe me, I know what I heard, and it wasn't a misunderstanding,” Kyungsoo asserted, trying to keep the hurt out of his tone. He hadn't expected Jongin to react so defensive about the others.

“I don't get why, if you don't like people talking behind other's backs, you are the one who's now bitching about them?!” Jongin retorted, visibly upset.

“Jongin, I'm not bitching about anyone, I'm just trying to warn you–”

“Because they're actually alien monsters with claws and fangs or what?!” Jongin took a step back and crossed his arms. “Kyungsoo, can you imagine how ugly it is to bash the people a friend cares about right in front of him?!”

“Jongin, I am just worried about you!” Involuntarily, Kyungsoo could feel tears of exasperation form in the corners of his eyes and he was almost screaming now. “I'm worried that they will hurt you and talk about you or even right to you the way they talked about me. And I'm sorry about bashing those 'people you care about', but I'm not sorry that I care about you! And you can bloody believe me when I say that I certainly care more about you than they do...”

Jongin was silent for a moment and Kyungsoo used the pause to swiftly wipe over his eyes with the end of his sleeve. When the younger spoke again, his voice was calm again.

“I know I have been a bit distant lately... But you don't need to be jealous, Soo.” Something like a small, endearing smile played on his lips.

Kyungsoo sighed and buried his face in his hands. “No. I'm serious Jongin. I'm not making this up–”

But he got interrupted by a set of arms suddenly closing around his shoulders. The next thing he knew, the older boy found himself wrapped in Jongin's tight embrace. Kyungsoo had to quickly remind himself how to breathe.

“I appreciate your worrying,” Jongin said and Kyungsoo could feel the vibration of his voice through his chest. “But there is really no need for it. I'm fine. Everything's fine.”

Kyungsoo was about to retort something again, but then he changed his mind and just sighed deeply again. Maybe it wasn't so bad. Maybe Jongin was right and there really wasn't any danger of them hurting him because they genuinely liked him. And if so, then so what if they said mean things about Kyungsoo. The only thing which mattered was that they were friendly to Jongin, after all.

Kyungsoo felt his shoulders slowly relax beneath the warmth radiating from Jongin's body. As he was calming down and his own heartbeat decelerated, he could faintly hear a different, fast-drumming sound, but before he could pinpoint it, Jongin's phone vibrated in his pocket. Jongin took a step away from Kyungsoo again and pulled out his phone while the older boy silently wished the hug had lasted a bit longer.

“Shoot, I gotta go,” Jongin said as he looked at the screen.

“What? Why?” Kyungsoo was confused.

“That's right, I had wanted to tell you when I came here, but then I forgot,” Jongin said and gave Kyungsoo an apologetic smile. The older boy had a sudden sense of foreboding.

“I actually can't stay for video games tonight,” Jongin went on and Kyungsoo's heart plummeted. “I'm going out with... the others,” Jongin added hesitantly and cleared his throat a bit sheepishly.

“Going out? But... you're underage,” Kyungsoo said, still puzzled.

“Yeah but... you know, Luhan knows the right people...” Jongin trailed off with a slightly lopsided grin.

Kyungsoo didn't know what to say.

Jongin bent down and grabbed his (ridiculous designer-) bag and took a step back towards Kyungsoo. He raised his free hand and after a split-second of hesitation, ran the backs of his fingers gently over Kyungsoo's cheek. “Don't worry, Soo, I'm fine,” he said reassuringly with a warm voice. Kyungsoo looked up into Jongin's eyes, and what he saw made him almost lightheaded.

And without another word, Jongin turned on his heel and when Kyungsoo finally caught his breath again, his best friend had already left.

~*~

After letting it ring for about a dozen times, Chanyeol finally picked up the phone.

“Kyungsoo? What's up?”

“Hey... not that much,” Kyungsoo replied. “Are you busy? If yes, I don't want to bother you...”

“Are you kidding me? Of course I'm busy being on a romantic date with my sexy six-string in my room.”

Despite his mood, Kyungsoo had to grin at the joke and reflexively played along, “Sounds like a hot Friday night.”

“She really liked the candlelight dinner I prepared,” Chanyeol said and Kyungsoo chuckled. There was a pause before Chanyeol spoke again, tone more serious again. “Hey, is everything alright?”

Kyungsoo sighed deeply. “Actually... no.”

“What did Jongin do now?”

“How do you even know that it's...? Ugh, anyway. You know how I was never a particular fan of his modelling, right?” he began, telling Chanyeol about the events from the day before and from his fight with Jongin earlier this evening. “And can you even believe it?! Right now he's out and about with these people again!” he exclaimed as he finished and let out a frustrated growl.

“Aww, I'm sorry to hear that,” Chanyeol said, genuine empathy in his voice. “But look, Kyungsoo, you shouldn't take it personally. You know as well as me how naïve Jongin is. And if he truly believes in something or someone, you also know that it's practically impossible to break his gullibility. Jongin simply is this kind of nice person,” Chanyeol tried to console him. “I'm afraid that this is an experience which this dork has to make for himself. As much as you'd want to, you can't protect him forever, you know?”

Kyungsoo hung his head but nodded. “Yes... I guess you're right,” he admitted when he realised that Chanyeol couldn't see him. “And thank you, Chanyeol,” he mumbled a bit sheepishly.

But Chanyeol just laughed, “Yo, don't mention it! That's what friends are there for! Ah, which reminds me: I got great news because I'm friends with Baekhyun now!” His audible excitement made his deep voice rise a couple of octaves. “Well, almost, I guess,” Chanyeol added after a beat.

“Eh?! Really? Good boy!” Kyungsoo was indeed happy for him, but he also couldn't resist a bit of teasing. “Did he agree to throw sticks for you in the park?”

However, Chanyeol chose to ignore the comment. “We actually bonded over music the other day! He was sitting next to me in biology – again! – and he started to hum a song under his breath, so I scratched all my courage together and told him what a nice voice he has. And he was like 'Thanks' and smiled and oh my god his smile, but anyway! I then said something lame like 'Do you like music?' but he didn't mind the dumb question at all and said 'Yeah, I love singing, how about you?' and I told him that I play the guitar and then he said we should do a duet sometime!” Chanyeol rattled on and Kyungsoo absently wondered when he took the time to breathe.

“Wow, so you got a date?”

“Well, I mean, no, not yet,” Chanyeol admitted. “But soon! Actually, that's why I was thinking of learning how to play something really difficult, so I could maybe impress him? What do you think?”

“I think it's a good idea, but it probably doesn't have to be something that is particularly hard. Just choose a song that he likes,” Kyungsoo advised.

“What does he like?” Chanyeol asked curiously.

“How should I know?” Kyungsoo laughed. “But isn't this a great excuse to strike up another conversation with him?”

“Oh gosh, you're right! Kyungsoo, you're the best!” Chanyeol exclaimed and Kyungsoo chuckled, glad that he could help his friend.

There was a short pause before Chanyeol spoke again. “Hey, should I come over tonight? I'll bring my guitar and we can look on the internet for tutorials for potential songs to learn,” he suggested. Kyungsoo agreed.

About half an hour later, Chanyeol arrived on his doorstep, and the giant bucket of ice cream in the tall guy's hands confirmed Kyungsoo's suspicion that Chanyeol was still trying to comfort him. He truly appreciated his friend's effort, so he patiently listened to the other's continuous gushing about Baekhyun.

At first, the two diligently searched for guitar cover tutorials of pop songs, of which the sheet music was also available on the internet. However, after a while they got distracted, and before they knew it, Kyungsoo and Chanyeol spent the evening clicking through a wide range of various Youtube videos of 90ies pop hits; sometimes passionately singing along to them together.

~*~

After the weekend, Kyungsoo trudged through the doors of his classroom over to his desk. He flopped down his chair, dropping his backpack along next to it. The murderous expression he was wearing was not only due to the fact that it was Monday morning (though that was a significant part of it), but also that he hadn't talked to Jongin ever since they had their fight two days ago. Kyungsoo had been hoping to accompany him to school, but when the bus had arrived at their bus stop where they usually met up in the mornings, there had been no trace of his best friend. Upon gloomily checking his locker in the hallway, Kyungsoo did not find a note or anything pushed through the slits of his locker's door.

Slumping at his desk, Kyungsoo heaved a sigh and reached down to take out a folder and his pencil case. Bent down on his chair awkwardly like this, something colourful suddenly caught his eye. Surprised, he took a double-take, reaching into the small compartment underneath his desk to take it out. Retrieving his hand, he found himself holding a CD case.

It was the CD Jongin had been raving about; the one Junmyeon had let him listen to. Attached to the case was a sticky note which read in Jongin's messy scrawl: If you're not Do Kyungsoo, put this thing back under the table! If you are him though, please accept this as a conciliation gift. I'm sorry... KJI

Underneath, he had drawn another of his penguin doodles, but this one was wearing big headphones and apparently listening to music, indicated by a few notes scribbled around the animal.

Kyungsoo beamed. Although it was Monday morning, his day was already made.

Later, when he was on his way to the cafeteria for lunch, he passed Chanyeol laughing and talking animatedly with Baekhyun in the hallway. The tall boy was so engrossed in his conversation, that he didn't seem to notice Kyungsoo, but the latter didn't mind, simply smiling to himself.

Kyungsoo was blowing air on his ramyeon to cool them, when Jongin stepped up to his table, his own tray in his hands. He gave the older boy a somewhat shy smile, asking with his eyes for permission to sit down. Kyungsoo responded with an eager nod, and Jongin didn't lose another second before taking a seat across from his best friend.

“Guess who I just found in the hallway, speaking with each other as if they're already friends?!”

Kyungsoo giggled happily. “I know!”

~*~

The shutter sound of the camera clacked through the room as the flash light illuminated the elaborate photography equipment which was arranged professionally around a white, blank photo-backdrop. The light also bathed the scuttling people in the studio in a repetitive split-second of brightness, and Kyungsoo always had to blink a few times afterwards to get rid of the dancing spots behind his eyelids. Breathing in the warm and stuffy air around him and nervously shifting his weight from one foot to the other, he wondered for about the hundredth time, why he had agreed to accompany Jongin to his photo shoot this afternoon after school. He was standing in the dark area behind the cameras, leant against the wall, and peered through a tangle of wires and the thin metal poles of various tripods over to the well-lit spot in front of the backdrop where Jongin and his model friends tried out different poses. Not only were they all wearing quite dramatic make-up, but also clothes which Kyungsoo couldn't describe as anything other than ugly. After every third or fourth shot, a couple of make-up artists hurried over to the models to put yet another layer of powder on their faces. This cycle of pose, flash, shutter, powder, repeat had already been going on for at least one hour and Kyungsoo felt ready to die of boredom.

After another ten minutes or so, the photographer announced that they would proceed to do individual photo shoots of the models now and Kyungsoo couldn't suppress a relieved sigh. However, it transformed into an annoyed groan when the photographer declared Jongin to be the first in line. Luhan, Zitao, Kris and Jessica left the illuminated area and disappeared through a door into the adjacent room, where Kyungsoo remembered to be some sort of break room with a few couches.

Kyungsoo sighed again resignedly and watched as Jongin made all kinds of faces and poses at the camera, according to the photographer's short-clipped instructions. Despite the attire, Kyungsoo couldn't deny that his best friend had indeed a talent for moulding his own face into differing powerful expressions within seconds.

“Now do sexy,” ordered the photographer and Kyungsoo swallowed nervously when Jongin's lips parted slightly and his eyes became immediately dark and hooded, while he lifted his chin to seductively expose his neck. Although he was technically not able to see much in the shadows behind the blinding spot lights, Jongin's gaze seemed to somehow unerringly find Kyungsoo's eyes. Still wearing the same expression, Jongin added a confident smirk and the older boy's heart skipped a beat before racing away in his chest. Kyungsoo knew that this face of Jongin was just fake – nothing but a skilful act for the camera – but he still couldn't stop the blood from shooting up to his own cheeks and his breath from faltering. Jongin's eyes slid away from him and Kyungsoo discreetly cleared his throat. He really needed to splash some cold water in his face...

Shortly after arriving at the studio, Jongin had told Kyungsoo that the toilets were to be found in the hallway behind the break room, so Kyungsoo pushed himself off the wall of the corner where he had been hovering, and quickly walked over to the door.

The models were seated on the couch in the break room and Kyungsoo already mentally braced himself against their usual scrutinising looks. However, the four were huddled around the phone in Jessica's hands, so they didn't notice as Kyungsoo hurriedly passed by. He wouldn't complain about this lack of interaction.

A couple of minutes later, Kyungsoo had calmed himself down enough to emerge from the men's toilet, wiggling his hands a bit to shake off the remaining droplets of the tap water.

However, he had only taken a few steps before he stopped dead in his tracks again.

“Oh my god, Kai is such an annoying loser,” Zitao was just saying in a drawling voice.

“Such a tryhard,” Jessica agreed. “Doesn't he even realise how embarrassing he is?”

“And his dark skin is so gross... urgh,” Luhan said, making a sound of disgust.

“He's very helpful with the bills, though,” Kris said and the others laughed coldly.

“True! Let's make him buy some more ugly clothes for himself next time we go shopping,” Luhan said excitedly. “And Zitao can teach him a few more top-secret make-up knacks!” Kyungsoo was still rooted to the spot in the hallway around the corner, but he could practically hear Luhan do the quotation marks in the air with his fingers. Zitao cackled and Kris hooted.

Jessica snorted haughtily. “Remember his dumb face whenever we tell him that this or that thing looks apparently so good on him? Makes me always want to punch it!”

“I honestly hate this loser,” Luhan said with so much contempt in his voice that something snapped inside Kyungsoo.

He darted around the corner and grabbed Luhan's collar forcefully before anyone could even react, yanking him up. “What kind of bloody 'friend' are you even?!” he screamed.

Bewildered, Luhan stared at him for a second, before he furrowed his brows and shoved the shorter boy away from him. “What the hell is wrong with you?!” he spat. However, furious as he was, Kyungsoo quickly regained his footing and threw a fist against the model's jaw with so much force, that it sent him tumbling down onto the couch behind him again. In his rage, Kyungsoo didn't even notice the piercing pain jolting up his arm from his knuckles. Jessica squeaked, horrified, and Zitao jumped up with a gasp. Out of nowhere, Kris appeared behind Kyungsoo and quickly pinned the shorter boy's arms to his back, keeping him from lunging at Luhan once again. Kyungsoo's eyes were still spluttering with fury as he struggled to break free, but Kris held him in a vicelike grip.

“How can you be such assholes, when he adores you so much?!” Kyungsoo yelled at the top of his lungs, venting his anger.

Zitao's eyes flashed with pent-up hatred and he raised his hand to probably slap Kyungsoo across the face, but immediately halted in his action, when suddenly the door burst open, and Jongin spilled into the room, followed by several other crew members of the photo studio. They all wore a mixture of confusion and worry on their faces.

“What in the world is going on here?!” Jongin incredulously took in the scene. From his obviously furious best friend being held back by a stone-faced Kris, to Tao standing between the two and the couch, to Jessica perched on the edge of the couch while looking petrified, and over to Luhan cowering on the couch and holding his cheek, where a big bruise was just beginning to bloom. “What happened?!”

Kyungsoo took a breath to answer, but Luhan was faster: “He randomly lunged at me! Out of nowhere!”

“What?!”

“That's true!” Zitao chimed in, “We were just sitting here, peacefully taking a break, when suddenly this lunatic punched Luhan!”

“What– No! That's not–” Kyungsoo tried to say but Zitao cut him off again.

“He screamed something about 'revenge for our pretty faces', I guess he was just jealous of us being models... but that's not a reason to justify violence!” he cried dramatically. “And now look at Luhan's face! How is he supposed to do a photo shoot later?!” Luhan demonstrated his bruised cheek, making a face like a small, scared and utterly innocent child.

Jongin gaped and turned around to Kyungsoo, visibly shocked, “Did you really attack him?! Kyungsoo, how could you– ?!”

“No, Jongin, let me explain! They started to talk shit about you and–”

“He's lying!” Jessica screeched and jumped to her feet, pointing an accusing finger at Kyungsoo.

“No, I'm not! I swear, they started–”

“Kai, he's trying to make it look like we're the bad guys! That's outrageous!”

Jongin just stood there, helplessly looking from one face to the other, becoming increasingly confused. Finally, his wandering gaze came to rest on Kyungsoo.

“Kyungsoo, I know that you weren't quite a fan of my friends, but you shouldn't have started the fight. That's not okay,” he said reproachfully and the older boy could do nothing but gape at him in return.

Kyungsoo tried and failed to wrap his mind around the fact that Jongin believed them rather than him, his supposedly best friend. The feeling of betrayal rose in his throat like bile, rendering him unable to speak. He struggled once again to get away from Kris, but the tall model kept forcefully clutching his wrists until Jongin told him to let him go. Feeling tears well up in his eyes, Kyungsoo lowered his head and tried with all his might to suppress a sob. Sparing Jongin not even one single glance, he dashed off as fast as he could.

Jongin stared after Kyungsoo, with a somehow lingering sense of guilt. He didn't see the four models exchange winks and smug smirks behind his back.



>>>see here for part iii<<<

guitar

False Gods [part i]

Shären 240515 - 200615

Title: False Gods
Band: Exo
Pairing: main!KaiSoo (Jongin/Kyungsoo), minor!BaekYeol (Chanyeol/Baekhyun)
Genre: Romance, fluff, friendship, drama. Highschool!AU
Rating: PG-15 (for swearing?)

Warning: (highlight to see) Slight drug use, attempted sexual assault, underage drinking, bullying
Length: Oneshot in two parts, 13.1k words
Disclaimer: This is fanfiction. I own nothing but the plot and formulations.
Summary: Jongin falls under the spell of glitz and glamour, but Kyungsoo knows that not all that glitters is gold.

'Cause I'm nothing if I don't have you...

[PART I]

“Jongin, can you pass me the calculator,” Kyungsoo asked over his shoulder.

It was late in the afternoon on a day in early summer, and the two high school boys were in Kyungsoo's room, doing homework. Warm air came wafting in through the open window, and besides the trilling sounds of a handful of birds from outside, it was quiet and calm. Two school backpacks were discarded on the clean floor, next to Kyungsoo's school uniform jacket. Kyungsoo was sitting at his desk, hunched over his maths homework and absently fanning himself. He was still wearing the white dress shirt of the school uniform, and despite being able to wear only short sleeved shirts now that summer was approaching, the heat in Kyungsoo's room made him sweat a bit. A minute passed in silence and Kyungsoo sighed, throwing his pencil on his notebook. “Jongin?” he repeated his best friend's name.

Said boy didn't answer, so Kyungsoo spun around on his swivel armchair to face him. “I should've known,” he murmured when he saw why Jongin was ignoring him.

Jongin was lying on his belly, sprawled across Kyungsoo's bed with his ankles crossed in the air, his head nodding and his feet bobbing rhythmically. Kyungsoo listened closely and could faintly make out the beat of music over the birds' noises, coming from the earphones plucked into Jongin's ears. Instead of doing his homework, Jongin was busy doodling on the back of his worksheet. The piece of paper was already cluttered with sketches of mainly dogs and penguins. Unlike Kyungsoo, Jongin had doffed his school uniform's shirt and tossed it on the floor next to the backpacks, along with his socks. Barefooted and only dressed in his his uniform slacks and a grey tank top like this, Jongin was radiating comfortableness and relaxation.

Kyungsoo pulled his reluctant eyes away from the light bronze skin of Jongin's arms, sighed again and stood up to flop down on his bed next to Jongin. “Hey,” he said. “At least share.”

Jongin jumped a bit and turned around with wide, questioning eyes. Kyungsoo had to suppress a grin. Like a startled puppy...

“Huh?” Jongin said unintelligently.

Kyungsoo gestured towards the earphones, “I said, you could at least share the music.”

Jongin gave him an uncomprehending look, before pointing at his doodles. “This?” he said, his voice slightly too loud in the quiet room. “They're supposed to be us. Look, this is me and the penguin is you...” Now Kyungsoo couldn't help but smile. He shook his head and plucked one of the earphones out of Jongin's ear. “I said, share the music!” Kyungsoo called at the same loud volume which Jongin had used and chuckled when the other boy got startled again.

Jongin's cheeks turned a bit pink. “Ah... sorry, Soo,” he murmured. He picked up the fallen earphone and handed it over to Kyungsoo who proceeded to put it into his own right ear.

“Oh yes, SHINee, I see,” the older boy said and nudged Jongin to move over a bit, so he could lie down on his belly next to him. “Good choice,” he added and nodded while putting his left cheek down on his forearms in front of him. Still facing Jongin this way, Kyungsoo peered up at him. “What about your homework, though?”

Jongin groaned in annoyance and shrugged. “I can't be bothered... I'm too tired for this crap,” he answered and turned to his doodles again. Jongin propped his chin on his wrist and kept scribbling on the piece of paper next to Kyungsoo's head. Kyungsoo stole a few lingering glances up at Jongin's face but the comfortable calmness of the room in combination with the soft warmth radiating from Jongin's body next to him and the music playing in his ear made Kyungsoo increasingly sleepy...

When Kyungsoo woke up again, it was dark in his room. Still a bit disoriented, Kyungsoo blinked and raised his head and squinted around. Outside the window, dusk was just beginning to fall. He was still lying on his bed and he could feel Jongin breathe peacefully next to him. The earphones, still loosely stuck in their ears, were quiet. The album on Jongin's mp3-player must have stopped playing quite a while ago. Kyungsoo blinked at his wrist watch, trying to make out the positions of the hands in the faint light seeping in from the street lamps. His nap had lasted about two hours. Soon, his parents would call him down for dinner. He knew that they wouldn't mind letting Jongin eat with them. With their son's practically inseparable best friend just living down the street, Jongin had been a frequent visitor in their house for several years now.

While Jongin was fast asleep next to him, Kyungsoo grabbed the rare chance of being able to stare at Jongin's handsome face for a while, without fear of getting caught. Kyungsoo's gaze roamed over Jongin's nose, sharp jawline, forehead peeking through the gaps in his dark brown fringe, long eye lashes, full lips... Kyungsoo slowly raised his own fingers, inching them closer and closer towards Jongin's lips which were slightly parted in his sleep...

A knocking sound at the door and Kyungsoo quickly pulled back his hand.

“Honey? Dinner is ready,” the friendly voice of Kyungsoo's mother chimed through the closed door. “Is Jongin still with you? Tell him to come downstairs too, if he's hungry,” she added before Kyungsoo could hear her steps retreat downstairs again.

Next to him, Jongin began to move as he slowly rose from his slumber. Kyungsoo was glad that the darkness in the room hid his own burning cheeks.

“Wake up, Jongin,” Kyungsoo said and gently shook his best friend's shoulder. Irritated groaning was the answer. Kyungsoo chuckled, “Aren't you hungry at all?”

“Yeah, I am...” came the raspy voiced reply. Kyungsoo couldn't suppress the tiny shudder creep down his spine at the sound. He got up and switched on the ceiling light. Jongin rolled over and sat up, adorably blinking away the remnants of sleep in his eyes. Kyungsoo noticed the imprints of his sheets on Jongin's right cheek and smiled.

“Don't forget to pull on your shirt again,” he softly reminded Jongin and opened the door. Kyungsoo saw the other boy nod obediently and bend down to pick up the slightly crumpled-up shirt from the floor, before he left the room.

~*~

Kyungsoo threw the door of his locker shut with a metallic bang. “No!” he repeated with emphasis.

“Please, please, pleeeeaase Kyungsoo,” Jongin wailed and clasped his hands pleadingly. “You know how much I need to hand this homework in today or I'm screwed.” When Kyungsoo kept his eyebrows furrowed and his expression annoyed, Jongin grabbed the other boy's upper arm and shook it along with further whining noises. But to no avail.

“I don't care, Jongin. I can't always let you copy from me. You have to do your homework yourself, or you'll never learn anything,” Kyungsoo said sternly and shook his head.

“I know, but I suck at physics! Look, one more time, please?”

Kyungsoo heaved a sigh, leaned against his locker and was about to give another sermon, when their mutual friend Chanyeol appeared behind Jongin.

“Oy, guys what's up?” the tall boy greeted them before poking Jongin in the ribs to let him know that he was blocking Chanyeol's locker. Jongin hopped away and over to Kyungsoo's other side. “Soo is being a grouchy old nerd, who won't let me copy his homework,” he said.

Chanyeol smiled and nodded. “So, it's the usual,” he said while taking out his books from the locker. Kyungsoo gave Jongin another frown which was replied by a stuck out tongue. “You can copy from me instead, if you like,” Chanyeol offered.

“Nah, thanks, your answers are wrong anyway,” Jongin said. Kyungsoo chuckled.

“Hey!” Chanyeol exclaimed indignantly but before he could retort anything, his body went rigid and he stared at something behind Jongin. The reason for this sudden change of behaviour walked by just a couple of seconds later.

“Hello, Chanyeol,” a quite short boy (only roughly as tall as Kyungsoo) with a girly face said in passing to the frozen beanpole that was Park Chanyeol. The boy smiled brightly and gave the tall one a small wave with a hand that was even prettier than his face. However, despite his almost feminine beauty, the boy also had a surprisingly deep and pleasant voice.

“Hi, B-Baekhyun,” came Chanyeol's slightly croaked reply.

“See you later in art history?” the boy called over his shoulder before disappearing in the crowded hallway.

Chanyeol beamed and almost forgot to holler a “Yeah!” after him.

Kyungsoo and Jongin took in the sight of their friend being practically reduced to a tail-wagging, excited, giant puppy before exchanging a meaningful glance. Years of best friendship had taught them to read each other's minds with simply one look.

“Did you just... stutter, Park Chanyeol? Really?” Kyungsoo smirked and Jongin grinned cheekily behind him.

Chanyeol seemed to remember their presence and turned around. “Huh?” His slightly jutting ears grew suspiciously pink.

“I think he did,” Jongin, who was clearly enjoying this as much as Kyungsoo, confirmed. “Now, tell us more about this guy... Baekhyun was his name?”

“I– We– there's nothing to tell,” Chanyeol stammered and hurriedly closed his locker, slinging one strap of his backpack over his shoulder. “Man, I'm starving,” he declared in an obvious attempt to change the subject. “Are you both coming for lunch already or what?”

Jongin and Kyungsoo exchanged another look and snorted simultaneously, before following their tall friend's long strides towards the school's cafeteria.

~*~

“Do you remember how baek in the day, Chanyeol used to tell us everything?” Kyungsoo said a couple of minutes later to Jongin, who was waiting in line for lunch in front of him. Chanyeol, who was standing behind him, groaned.

“Oh yeah, he would tell us precisely what he'd done the day before, as soon as he came baek home from school...” Jongin replied.

Kyungsoo giggled. “He'd play in his baekyard all afternoon...”

“Guys, please...” Chanyeol said and rolled his eyes but the two ignored him.

But before Jongin could say anything more to tease Chanyeol, he had reached the window of the serving counter and the lunch lady gave him an impatient look. “Well?” she drawled.

Jongin quickly glanced over to Kyungsoo and then firmly said to her, “Do you have, by any chance, some bacon for me?” Jongin winked at his best friend proudly, but Kyungsoo just shook his head. “What the hell, Jongin. What kind of pun is this even,” he deadpanned.

Jongin pouted but when he saw the increasingly grumpy lunch lady's face, he hurriedly bowed his head in apology and ordered menu one.

“I thought it was funny,” Jongin grumbled when the three were on their way to their usual table at the back of the large refectory, all of them carrying trays with their food.

“But the word doesn't even sound like the kid's name,” Kyungsoo said.

“Yes it does! Don't you get it? Baekhyun? Bacon?

“I do get it, Jongin. But nope. Still not funny.”

“Okay whatever,” Jongin exclaimed with an defeated sigh. They put the trays on the table and settled in their seats. “Spill the beans, Yeol. What's up with you and this guy?”

Chanyeol almost choked on his ramyeon and coughed before swallowing the bite in his mouth. “Nothing,” he said and cleared his throat. But the others just looked at him so Chanyeol rolled his eyes again and sighed. “Fine, he was my lab partner in biology the other day. But that's it, I swear,” he added when Jongin wiggled his eyebrows. “I mean, yeah, I do think he's really pretty and all but...” he trailed off.

“But what?”

“But I know I'll never have a chance anyway so it doesn't matter,” Chanyeol mumbled miserably.

“Aww no, that's not true,” Jongin said and patted Chanyeol's head. “I'm sure he likes you, too!”

“Nah I think it's hopeless,” Kyungsoo said with a cheeky glimmer in his eyes. He received a reproachful look from Jongin. “Just kidding.”

Chanyeol gave Kyungsoo a dirty look before heaving another sigh. “I just. I always get so nervous around him and forget what I wanted to say... I feel like he's completely out of my league.”

“Don't worry,” Kyungsoo said with almost undetectable sarcasm. “As long as he's not a cat person, I'm sure this will be the begin of a wonderful puppy love.” Now Jongin tried to suppress a snort.

Chanyeol scoffed. “Oh please, if that is puppy love then what's this thing that you two have going on, huh? Marriage?”

That shut them up and Jongin and Kyungsoo instantly turned to their meals, carefully not looking at each other. Chanyeol smirked smugly and kept slurping his ramyeon. The silence became kind of awkward, until Kyungsoo suddenly bent down to his backpack and pulled out his folder.

“Anyway! Do you still want to copy my stuff, Jongin?”

~*~

The bell rang and Kyungsoo began to neatly put his text books, folders and pencil case inside his backpack. More than half of his classmates had already left the room to go home, when he finally zipped the bag shut and put it on his back. Contrasted by the sweltering sunshine outside, the inside of the slowly emptying classroom almost seemed dark and gloomy.

Kyungsoo dragged his tired feet over to the door that lead to the hallway, but he felt his energy return as a mop of dark brown hair popped into the room. Jongin's eyes met Kyungsoo's and the younger boy broke into a blinding smile that could easily compete with the brightness of the summer day outside the windows. Kyungsoo had been looking forward to the end of the school day ever since it even began in the morning. And it might or might not have been because of this guy.

Jongin walked down the hallway next to Kyungsoo, with only one strap of his backpack casually slung over his shoulder and his tie missing from his school uniform. He was walking backwards so he could face Kyungsoo, excitedly telling him about this new CD which Junmyeon let him listen to today during one of the breaks.

“... and while the bass suddenly hits you right in here,” Jongin bumped his fist against his own chest for emphasis, “the beat in the back just keeps going so it's like a buildup–”

“You're going to walk into a pole, Jongin.”

The younger boy ignored him and kept gushing and gesticulating wildly while stepping backwards, until he collided with one of their classmates who was standing underneath the arch of the school's main doors, blocking them a bit in the process.

“Told you.”

“That's not a pole, that's just Sehun,” Jongin retorted, receiving an irritated look by said boy who was his remote cousin. In their childhood, Jongin and Kyungsoo had often played with the thin, always a bit sickly looking boy during the holidays or whenever the three of them threatened to die of boredom at the occasional big family events. However, until Sehun had transferred to their school last semester, they hadn't really stayed in that much contact so they weren't as close as they were with Chanyeol, for instance.

“Same thing,” Kyungsoo said.

“What are you even talking about,” Sehun shook his head in lack of understanding, before shrugging it off and turning around again. He raised one arm and drew their attention to where, across the high school's courtyard, a remarkably big amount of pupils – mostly girls, but a few boys as well – were gathering around something that looked like a stall. The mere sound level coming from the excited crowd was quite unnerving.

“What the hell...?”

“It's the talent scout noonas,” Sehun explained and pointed to the three or four women standing behind the stall, who seemed to be quite busy trying to talk over the wildly chattering hoards of pupils or distributing flyers or handing out plastic bags filled with probably even more flyers. “They do this kind of open day over there once or twice a semester. They're sent by SM-entertainment, and they're looking for new goods to sell,” Sehun said and added, “rookie models, that is,” after seeing the confused looks on the other two's faces. “They are looking for new, handsome, young and fresh teenagers, who are determined to become rich and famous models,” Sehun said and began to gracefully descend the couple of stairs in front of the building's main doors. Upon reaching their end, he turned around once again, raised his thumb and forefinger to his chin and gave Jongin and Kyungsoo a smug smile along with a wink. “Like me.”

Sehun strutted off towards the clamour, confidently running his hand through his colourfully dyed hair and Jongin burst into laughter. It was contagious (as always) and Kyungsoo scoffed amusedly next to him.

But when they slowly passed the racket, Kyungsoo shook his head. “I can't believe this...”

“Can't believe what?” Jongin asked curiously.

“This whole craziness... I mean why would anyone even want to become a model, if they had the choice?”

“Are you serious, Soo? If you're successful enough, you can make a shitload of money with modelling.”

“Yeah but what if you're not?” Kyungsoo said heatedly. “If you don't make it, these people will abandon you faster than you can say 'disappointment', Jongin! All they think about is money and success and competition. They don't care about who gets hurt or lost in the process. Underneath their perfectly photoshopped masks, these people are nothing but cold and fake...” Kyungsoo wasn't quite sure where this sudden outburst came from, but he guessed it had something to do with the way those over-idealised faces of the already contracted models were beginning to be practically everywhere around them nowadays. They were on every advertising surface, on every screen... And each time Kyungsoo saw them, he couldn't help but wonder how much these 'perfect' people had had to sacrifice to get where they were now.

Jongin had stopped walking and gave his best friend a stunned look, “Wow, why are you so aggressive about this?”

“I'm not aggressive... more like... concerned,” Kyungsoo mumbled, suddenly feeling a bit sheepish about his outburst.

“Concerned? But Kyungsoo, this isn't like, organised prostitution. It's just... modelling,” Jongin said and chuckled.

“I know,” Kyungsoo murmured and looked away. “But it still makes me uncomfortable somehow...”

“I think it's not as bad as you're painting it out to be, but alright,” Jongin said diplomatically. They had reached the bus stop next to the school's main gates. Jongin threw one arm around Kyungsoo's neck and pulled the older boy towards the end of the small queue of people who were waiting for the approaching bus. Keeping his arm loosely draped around Kyungsoo's shoulders like this, Jongin smiled down on him. “Now, what's this,” the younger boy said quietly and raised one finger of his other hand to press it gently on the spot between Kyungsoo's eyebrows, until they relaxed and the furrow between them disappeared. “Come on, let's check out the music shop once more. Maybe we can even find the record Junmyeon showed me earlier? It really was so good, Soo, I bet you would love it, too! If it's expensive, you and me could chip in a bit...”

Kyungsoo felt his mood pick up again. Who needs to look at photoshopped faces, when they could revel in Kim Jongin's easygoing beauty every day?, Kyungsoo thought to himself as he looked up at his best friend, and his chest felt a little bit lighter.

~*~

Kyungsoo kicked Jongin's butt off of Rainbow Road for the approximately fifth time this lap. The younger boy retaliated by smacking his hand over Kyungsoo's eyes, causing him to fall off the colourful track as well. Kyungsoo cursed but Jongin just cackled.

They were sitting next to each other on Jongin's bed, leant against the wall, in his room after another day of school. It was Friday, so even Kyungsoo had agreed to chuck their backpacks into the corner as soon as they entered the room and forget about homework until Sunday.

Of course Kyungsoo won this lap again, but Jongin didn't seem to mind. He pulled his phone out of his pocket to check its screen, while Kyungsoo switched to the track selection, indecisively flipping through the stages.

“Should we do this one next, or the one with the desert?”

Jongin just hummed in reply and kept staring at his phone.

Kyungsoo turned around to him. “There's no track called hmm,” he smiled. Jongin started to type something in and Kyungsoo curiously leaned over to peer at the phone, too. “Hey, what's up?”

However, Jongin swiftly pressed the phone against his chest, so that Kyungsoo couldn't see the screen. The older boy pulled back and gave the other a surprised look.

“It's just Chanyeol,” Jongin said too quickly. “You know, just spamming like he always does...” His eyes darted around the room and it was obvious that he was lying.

Kyungsoo furrowed his eyebrows. “Stop it,” he just said, tone calm.

“Hm? Stop what? What do you mean?”

“Jongin, don't play dumb. You know that I know exactly when you're lying,” Kyungsoo said, trying to keep the hurt out of his voice. “And you are lying to me right now. The way you already did three times this week.” In a quieter voice he added, “What's wrong? I thought I was your best friend...” Kyungsoo mumbled and ignored the tiny stabbing pain inside his chest cavity.

Jongin seemed to deflate a bit before he nodded with a sigh. “I'm sorry,” he apologised. “The truth is, I just used this app. For scheduling my new mini job...”

“You have a mini job?”

“Yeah... And I just didn't tell you about it because... Because you were so against it...” he trailed off.

“Against what?”

“...Modelling. I. I started modelling,” Jongin said hesitantly and stared at his fumbling fingers in his lap.

Kyungsoo was stunned. “You... what?

“I can explain!” Jongin blurted. “The other day, you know, when you had to bring some books or something to Mr Lee after class, and I was waiting at the main gates with Sehun, one of those talent scout ladies from before came up to us and started talking about how she was looking for junior models and how fitting I would be for the upcoming collection of whatever and then she started listing how much money I could get with one of such deals and if it went well, how much more I could earn and all I could think about was how many CDs I could buy with all this money for y– for us, and she said that it was a really easy job with not much foreknowledge required,” he rambled on while Kyungsoo still only gaped at him.

“So I thought... why not try? And so far, it's actually fun,” Jongin concluded in a tiny voice.

Kyungsoo frowned again and bit his lip.

“Are... are you mad now?”

“No, I mean, yes! Because you lied to me,” Kyungsoo scolded. Jongin guiltily ducked his head. “But I'm not mad. I'm just... worried,” the older boy added, slightly frustrated. “Worried that you'll get hurt. Or... forget about me...” Kyungsoo lowered his gaze and fought down the small blush creeping up his cheeks.

After a heartbeat, Kyungsoo suddenly felt Jongin's hand on his head, ruffling through his hair affectionately. When he looked up, he saw Jongin smiling fondly at him.

“Don't worry, Soo,” he said, voice warm. “I won't get hurt. And I certainly won't forget about you, my bestest of best friends of all the best friends in the world!” Kyungsoo had to chuckle at this, but it also calmed him down.

“No more lying!”

“I won't, I promise.”

“Good,” Kyungsoo said and relaxed back against the wall next to Jongin. The younger boy's shoulder was touching his own and Kyungsoo felt the warmth radiate into his own body. With an air of finality, he picked up his controller again before handing Jongin's to him. “Now, which track?”

“I don't care. Just not the one with the ice.”

“Deal.”

After a while, when he was losing against Kyungsoo once again, Jongin remarked, “You should've seen Sehun's face when he realised that the noona was talking to me instead of him.”

Kyungsoo laughed. And promptly threw another banana peel.

~*~

“Sorry for being late,” Jongin said with an apologetic smile and placed his tray of food on the table in the cafeteria, next to where Kyungsoo and Chanyeol were already seated. Chanyeol's plate was already completely empty and Kyungsoo had also only half of his food left. He had intended to wait for Jongin to join them before beginning to eat, but after his best friend still hadn't shown up even after fifteen minutes, Kyungsoo's hunger had eventually got the best of him. However, Jongin didn't seem to mind that his friends had already started eating without him. Good-humouredly, he placed his backpack on the vacant seat next to him and picked up his spoon.

“Got a call about the photo shooting later today and had to discuss a few more details with my agent,” Jongin explained and began to stir his bowl of bibimbap.

“It's okay,” Kyungsoo said.

Chanyeol gave them a look. “Kyungsoo waited for you, Jongin. You could've told him before that he could start without you,” he said, tone slightly reproachful.

Jongin looked up in consternation, “Oh, I'm sorry! Next time, please just start eating if you're hungry!”

“I said that it's okay, don't worry,” Kyungsoo mumbled.

“Anyway, my agent says that if I can leave a good impression at the interview later, my next shooting might be together with a real celebrity,” Jongin told them with unmistakeable pride in his voice. He opened his backpack to put his wallet back inside again.

“Hey, wait a minute, is this a real MCM-bag?!” Chanyeol suddenly exclaimed incredulously, pointing at Jongin's bag.

Jongin beamed. “Yes! Isn't it pretty?”

“Well, yeah,” Chanyeol said, taken aback, “But... aren't those like, bloody expen–?”

“I got it from Luhan, as a gift! Isn't this so nice of him?” Jongin blurted excitedly.

“Luhan?”

“One of the more experienced seonbaes at my job, he has been modelling for years and he was really nice to me right from the start,” Jongin gushed and pulled out his wallet again in a flourish. “And look at this Louis Vuitton wallet I got from Zitao!” Jongin looked back and forth his both stunned friends, clearly hoping for some sign of approval.

Jongin's smile was just about to falter, when Kyungsoo quickly cleared his throat and said, “Yeah, uhm. Great. It looks great!” He received a wide grin from Jongin in return. Chanyeol was still staring at the brown-chequered wallet, tightly pressing his lips together.

But before any of them could say anything else, Jongin's phone started to vibrate, indicating an incoming message. He grabbed it reflexively and after glancing at the screen, began to wolf down his remaining lunch. After he was finished, he stood up. “Sorry guys, but I gotta call them back, it's for work and it looks like it's important,” he said as he hurriedly packed his things and picked up his tray. “See you tomorrow, Soo, Yeol, 'kay, bye!” And he ran off.

The two remaining boys just stared after him for a minute, before Chanyeol turned around to Kyungsoo again. “Tomorrow? Isn't he going home with you today?”

Kyungsoo lowered his gaze. “Nope,” he said simply.

Chanyeol gaped. “But... isn't this like, the third afternoon in a row now? The last time you guys hung out was... last week, then?”

“Yep,” Kyungsoo said, still staring at his plate and trying to ignore the pang in his chest.

Chanyeol was silent for a while before he quietly remarked, “That wallet was fugly as hell.”

“Awful,” Kyungsoo agreed.

~*~

Kyungsoo stepped out of the school building's main doors into the oppressive summer heat. He was on his own, as Jongin had already texted him earlier that he wouldn't be able to accompany Kyungsoo home again. The older boy had already been expecting it, but it still made him sad.

He crossed the courtyard and stopped when he reached the main gate, opening his backpack to take out his mp3-player and his earphones. Listening to music might make him feel less lonely on his way home. Of course, his earphones were all tangled up, and quietly cursing under his breath, Kyungsoo kept standing on the spot to untangle them.

Suddenly he heard a drawling voice to his right. “Ugh, look at this kindergarten... You don't think there's any use in asking them if they got a light, do you?”

“Nah, no chance... But we could make him buy one for you later.”

Kyungsoo looked up, surprised. Cigarettes were strictly prohibited in their school, and if any of the pupils got caught smoking, they had to suffer heavy consequences. But as Kyungsoo looked at the guys loitering next to the main gate (so technically outside of school's property), they didn't seem to be even going to this school. For instance, the three guys and one girl weren't wearing the school uniform, even though some of them looked young enough to be still pupils. One guy held an unlit cigarette in his fingers and was presumably the one who had called Kyungsoo's school a kindergarten. He had a doll-like face with big eyes and a button nose. To his right stood an exceptionally tall guy, who had impressive eyebrows and seemed to be busy surveying the street in front of him with a somewhat grouchy expression. On the left side of Doll-face stood another very tall guy, but this one was skinnier and had several rings and piercings in his ears. He seemed to have answered to Doll-face's complaint earlier. Next to him, the girl, also very thin and with long wavy hair, stood with her arms crossed and with big designer sunglasses covering half of her stony expression. The four did not only visually stand out of the crowd because they were not wearing school uniforms, but because they were actually all, without exception, dressed in fashionable, expensive-looking designer clothes. They also had meticulously styled hair and flawless make-up on their already remarkably good-looking faces.

Although he had never met any of them before, Kyungsoo immediately knew that these people were Jongin's new model friends.

Kyungsoo was wondering if he should introduce himself, but he froze when Doll-face spoke up again.

“What the heck is taking him so long?! Is he still busy making out with his pathetic little boyfriend or what? What was this guy's name again? Kwangsoo or something?”

“It's Kyungsoo, but how did you forget that, he literally babbles about this loser all the freaking time,” Ear-Piercings replied.

“Whatever, man... I bet he's a lame little nerd and ugly as hell,” Doll-face declared. Kyungsoo was still standing only about a metre next to them, frozen in shock. He panicked for a split-second, before he realised that they probably didn't know what he looked like and therefore hadn't recognised him.

“Yeah dude, can you guys picture him with his ugly little face sitting in his ugly little room with a controller in his ugly little hands, raising Pikachus to fight against goblins or whatever?” Ear-Piercings said, hunching up his shoulders and mimicking to play some video game with his hands, along with a nasty grimace. The girl laughed and it sounded ice-cold.

“Haha, what a loser! Imagine him wearing really hideous glasses, too!” Doll-face cackled and making an equally nasty face, aped a person holding a hand of cards. “Go Digimon! Send him to the shadow realm!” he cried in an exaggeratedly squeaky voice. Ear-Piercings guffawed, the girl gave another icy chuckle and even tall Bitch-face smirked coldly.

Kyungsoo was still standing there, gaping and unable to move. He couldn't believe what he just heard. They had never even met him, for heaven's sake! Just how could they be this mean?!

He had just decided that he had heard enough, when he suddenly felt a familiar arm snake around his neck. Oh no!

“Hey, Soo!” a happy Jongin exclaimed. “I thought you already went home, but great that I still caught you in time!” It was obvious that he hadn't heard what his 'friends' had said.

Kyungsoo choked out of shock and started coughing. The four models turned around to them. They didn't seem to be startled in the least.

“Hello Kai,” Doll-face singsonged, his expression completely innocent. “We were already waiting for you.”

Kyungsoo was about to panic again. Did they realise that he had overheard their conversation from before? Sending out a quick prayer that they didn't, Kyungsoo spluttered a bit before asking the first thing that came to his mind. “Err, Kai?”

Jongin grinned. “It's the name the agency gave me to use in the showbiz,” he explained. “And my friends here use it as my nickname. Ah, have I never introduced you guys to each other?” He turned and respectively pointed at the four models who were still leaning against the wall next to the gate.

“These are Kris, Luhan, Zitao and Jessica, my friends from modelling,” he said proudly, before pointing at Kyungsoo next to him. “And this is my very best friend, Kyungsoo!”

The four snickered and exchanged looks and Kyungsoo was sure that Jongin didn't see the contemptuous look in their eyes, but he did. It was obvious that they saw their prejudices against him confirmed.

“Oh, how nice to finally meet you, Kyungsoo!” Luhan said, his voice as sweet as sugar. Kyungsoo almost winced. “You aren't wearing any glasses! I always imagined you to have glasses, after all that Kai told us about you.”

“Oh... really?” came Kyungsoo's lame reply. He wished a hole would open up beneath him to swallow him.

“Oh yeah,” Zitao said and rolled his eyes. “He talks about you a lot. Like, non-stop, actually.”

Jongin's hand, which was still lying on Kyungsoo's shoulder, suddenly squeezed it as if in shock. “Uhm! Yes! Well, uh, sorry Soo, but we need to go!” Jongin said hurriedly. He took a step away from Kyungsoo and without thinking, the latter grabbed the younger boy's wrist to hold him back.

“Jongin, wait! I –” he started before his voice disappeared. Kyungsoo saw the others exchange looks again from the corner of his eye and he felt the blood rush to his face. But Jongin just gave him a surprised look, waiting patiently for him to speak on, so Kyungsoo gulped and pulled himself together.

“Are you coming over to my house tomorrow after school? For, uhm... you know, video games...” he only whispered the two last words and desperately tried to ignore the four silently jeering models behind Jongin's back. The younger boy seemed to be completely oblivious to it, though. Instead, the he gave Kyungsoo his usual warm smile and nodded.

“Yep, see you tomorrow,” he said and glanced down to his wrist. Reluctantly, Kyungsoo let him go. Jongin waved at him, before he turned around and walked down the street, with the other four in tow.

Kyungsoo was left standing there, shoulders slumped. He tried to tell himself that first impressions weren't that important after all, but it didn't work.


>>>see here for part ii<<<

Apr. 14th, 2015

guitar

Human iPod [part IV]

>look here for part III<


~*~

The next day, Jongin recieved a text from Kyungsoo, informing him that Kyungsoo had called Yixing and had accepted the company's offer. But this meant that he would have to quit his job as a waiter at EXO-café. So he asked Jongin to come to the café that day if he had time, so that Kyungsoo could serve him a drink of his choice on the house one more time. Jongin agreed to come in the late afternoon before his shift at the convinience store started.

On arriving at the café, Jongin found Kyungsoo nearly in tears, as he was apologising profusely to Luhan for having to quit, but the café owner just smiled in return and patted the smaller male's back. "Don't worry, Kyungsoo-ya," he said reassuringly while giving the other a big hug. "As long as you don't completely forget us when you're a star, we'll be fine. Just do a little special concert in here every now and then, and we're good, I promise!"

Kyungsoo gave a teary nod and turned around to greet Jongin with a smile that brightened up his face considerably. "Ah, Jongin! Good to see you. Which drink would you like?"

"A non-spilled latte macchiato, please," he replied with a cheeky grin.

Kyungsoo blushed a little at the memory of his mishap from their first meeting, but nodded again and went off to bring the beverage to Jongin. The latter had just decided on a seat, when he checked the clock and realised with a frown that he wouldn't have the time to sit down and have a relaxed drink before his shift started. Kyungsoo returned with the latte and upon hearing the news, agreed to change the beverage again into a cardboard cup, just like the last time.

He accompanied Jongin out the door. "I still have a bit of spare time until my meeting with Yixing starts over in the company building. If you like, I'll come with you to the convenience store?" he offered. Of course Jongin agreed.

They walked quietly next to each other and while Jongin was still busy contemplating whether or not he should dare to grab Kyungsoo's hand, the smaller male spoke up.

"I still feel guilty for leaving Luhan-hyung and Minseok-hyung alone with the café," he said and hung his head. "But at least now I might be able to make a lot of money. So I could try to repay them a bit for losing me as an employee," he added and lifted his head again with a hopeful smile.

He's so adorable, Jongin thought and decided not to mention the fact that Luhan and Minseok had probably gained so much more income simply from the couple of nights in which Kyungsoo had performed which had drawn a great amount of customers. But little, selfless Kyungsoo would only feel even guiltier about leaving, then.

"Ah! This reminds me," Kyungsoo suddenly exclaimed. "That also means that I will soon have enough money to repay for your broken iPod, Jongin!" He beamed.

"Why, so that you can finally get rid of me?" Jong said, trying to sound like he was joking, but being actually somewhat worried.

Kyungsoo's face fell and he frantically waved his hands around. "What? No! Not at all!" His eyes widened in their trademark cuteness and his cheeks turned pink.

"Really?" Jongin smirked, teasing the other to gloss over his own relief. "In that case, why did you buy the expensive webcam? If you need to save up money so bad?"

Now Kyungsoo blushed even harder and his eyes darted around. "Errr..."

Jongin's grin grew. "Ooh, don't tell me you bought it on purpose so that I would have to wait even long–"

"Look, we arrived at the shop!" Kyungsoo exclaimed and frantically pointed at the sign above the entrance.

"It's alright, I'm just messing with you," Jongin chuckled and ruffled the other's hair affectionately. "Make sure to rock the interview for me, yeah? Tell me later how it went."

Kyungsoo nodded like an obedient puppy, still flushed. Jongin gave him a last assuring smile and turned around to enter the shop.

~*~

The following time was hard. In the weeks before Christmas, the cold hit the city full on and several of Jongin's coworkers, including Sehun, fell ill due to a rampant flu epidemic. Jongin had to often take over their work shifts at the shop, consequently sometimes even working three or four shifts a day. Besides, the kids' music school was preparing for a staging of the Nutcracker on Christmas Eve, so the girls needed extra hours of practice.

Kyungsoo's schedule was packed immediately after signing up to the music company, leaving him less and less freetime to record his little exclusive song covers for Jongin via webcam, until he had to stop all together. In response to this music withdrawal, Jongin's hyperactivity increased again, too, only worsening his insomnia, despite the daily hard work at the shop and the dance studio.

Kyungsoo and him desperately tried to keep up communication via text messaging, but with them both being so busy all the time, it wasn't easy. Frequently, Jongin caught himself being jealous of Kyungsoo's manager Junmyeon, as he was often brought up in Kyungsoo's texts. Despite making him work so hard, Kyungsoo always spoke nothing but highly of Junmyeon, praising his manager's patience and general friendliness to everyone and how nice it was of him to constantly encourage Kyungsoo in his singing. It didn't help that when Jongin googled the guy, he turned out to be as pretty as an angel.

In combination with his sleep deprivation, his jealousy turned Jongin into a daily ball of grumpiness.

Shortly after Christmas, Kyungsoo's first single was released: Angel/Into Your World was its title and it became a hit song instantly.

Sehun and Jongin were watching one of the year-end music shows on TV on New Year's Eve, bundled up in several blankets and munching crackers and tangerines, when suddenly the show host announced Kyungsoo as the next one of his guests. Jongin almost choked on the slice of tangerine in his mouth. He let out an angry growl as right behind Kyungsoo (who was looking dashingly cute in his little tuxedo and his hair styled up like that), Junmyeon entered the stage. He shook hands with the host as well and then followed Kyungsoo over to the couches and sat down next to him. He was sporting an angelic smile and Jongin felt sick.

"There's no need for this asshole to sit so close to him," Jongin snarled.

Sehun turned around to him, "Huh? Who?"

"This guy. Junmyeon. Or whatever. Look at how fake he is."

Sehun gave him a surprised look but turned back to the TV. "What's wrong with him? I think he looks... nice?"

"He's dumb," Jongin said venomously. "I bet this ridiculous stage name, D.O, was also his dumb idea."

"What makes you so sure that it was his idea?" Sehun said, taken aback by Jongin's sudden aggressiveness.

"I don't know!" Jongin spat. "He's everywhere. He follows Kyungsoo around like a shadow."

"More like a mother hen, or like a good manager."

"Like a bloody stalker."

And with that, Jongin fiercely grabbed the remote and switched the channel right before Kyungsoo could begin to sing his song live on TV. Sehun was about to protest, but then only rolled his eyes and shook his head, saying nothing.

~*~

Two weeks later, Jongin woke up to sleety rain outside his window. It was Jongin's birthday, so Sehun had taken his best friend's morning shifts, and Jongin had been able to sleep in for the first time in weeks. Still groggy, he got up and trotted, slightly swaying, over to the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee. Sipping the hot beverage, Jongin felt his mind slowly boot up and he noticed the carton of deep-frozen chicken sitting on the kitchen table next to two small wrapped packages.

He smiled at the sloppy way in which one of the packages was wrapped. He recognised the cheap wrapping paper from the convenience store and even without looking at the little card attached to it, he knew that it was from Sehun. He frowned at the other package, confused. The wrapping looked more expensive and while Sehun's gift had a slightly-out-of-season Christmas pattern, this one was covered in artfully drawn music notes. It even had a pretty blue ribbon around it.

However, deciding to savour the anticipation some more, Jongin turned to Sehun's package first. His face fell when he pulled the wrapping off: It was Kyungsoo's new album, which had been released just two days before. He sighed deeply. He knew that Sehun had only meant well. But lately, being reminded of Kyungsoo also just reminded Jongin of how crazily much he missed him. So far, he had tried to avoid any news about Kyungsoo or his music on TV or on the radio. He even refused to listen to any of Kyungsoo's old recordings, which were still stored on Sehun's computer.

Ironically, this made the distance to Kyungsoo feel even longer. It was a vicious circle.

Jongin sighed again and put the CD aside. Hopefully, the other gift would lift his spirits again. And really, when he looked at the small pink card that was attached to the ribbon, Jongin felt his heart skip a beat. It was from Kyungsoo!

Suddenly very nervous, Jongin opened the pretty wrapping with slightly shaking hands.

It revealed a brandnew iPod, the latest model, even including a casing and Jongin felt his insides turn to ice.

That was it.

The last string that bound him and Kyungsoo together. The only connection that was left. The only reason to keep in even the remotest contact.

And now it was gone. The debt was payed. It was over.

Feeling tears well up in his eyes, he grabbed the iPod and the CD from Sehun and stormed out of the flat, down the staircase and over to where the refuse containers were located and was just about to violently chuck in both things, when he caught himself.

Jongin stared at the picture of Kyungsoo on the CD cover, even though the photoshop made him look a bit weird, it was still his Babysoo... Cowering down, silently sobbing, he realised that he simply couldn't throw Kyungsoo away.

~*~

A couple more frantic weeks passed, with Jongin immersing himself in his work. During the day, he usually managed to keep his mind too busy, but at night time, when his restless body forced him to stake awake, his thoughts of Kyungsoo frequently came rushing back to him.

On Lunar New Year, Sehun and Jongin were sitting in front of the TV again, watching mindless game shows and eating traditional New Year food. During a commercial break, Sehun took the remote and switched through different channels. He stopped at some sort of talk show. Jongin, busy slurping rice cake soup, didn't look up until he heard a painfully familiar voice answering one of the show host's questions, and his head shot up. Kyungsoo!

Jongin fidgeted and opened his mouth to ask Sehun to switch the channel again, but he just recieved a stern glance.

"Nope, forget it," he said as if he read Jongin's mind. "And calm down. His manager isn't even there, see?"

Jongin had to admit, that seeing Kyungsoo without this insufferably perfect Junmyeon person made it easier for him to watch and realising that he probably wouldn't win a fight with Sehun over the remote anyway, he slumped down on the couch again and stayed quiet.

"...what do you usually do in your free time, D.O-ssi?" the host, speaking with a slight Chinese accent, was just asking the petite guy sitting on the couch across from him. Kyungsoo was dressed in a simple midnight blue t-shirt, a thin jacket made out of smooth leather, and dark, skinny jeans with boots. His chocolate brown hair was styled messily and Jongin felt the longing inside himself like a fist clenched around his heart.

"Well, Tao-ssi, I actually have barely any free time anymore," Kyungsoo replied to the host on screen. "But back when I had some, before my debut, I liked to bake and sing."

"Oh, so you really started to work for your dream from very early on?"

"Not at all," Kyungsoo replied with a smile and shook his head. The host Tao gave him a questioning look so he went on, "Until very recently, in fact, I used to not believe in myself at all, when it came to singing. But a special person, who is very dear to me, suddenly started to believe in me, helped me defeat my insecurity and reach my dream. Without them, I wouldn't be here tonight," he added, voice firm.

"In this case, I guess we really have to thank this person," Tao exclaimed and started clapping along with the big audience in the studio. "Is this special person maybe here with us now, among the audience?" Tao asked as the applause abated and made a wide gesture with his arm.

"I doubt it, actually," Kyungsoo chuckled. "I haven't heard anything from them for quite a while now... and I miss them a lot," he admitted and lowered his head self-consciously.

"I'm sorry," Tao said with empathy. "I hope they are watching us tonight and maybe will give you a call later?" He winked and Kyungsoo gave a small, unconvinced smile in return.

"So, D.O-ssi, is it true that you're not presenting the promotion single of your album here tonight?" Tao abruptly changed the topic. "You're doing a cover version of Sunggyu's hit song instead?"

Kyungsoo nodded and followed Tao as he got from his seat.

"Well, ladies and gentleman, Tao's New Year Peach Club proudly presents D.O performing Kim Sunggyu's Because!" Tao cried and among resurging applause, Kyungsoo walked over to where the live band was located on the vast stage.

Kyungsoo positioned himself behind the microphone and Jongin started to fidget again. He would sing now! Jongin wasn't sure if his nerves could handle it.

On screen, Kyungsoo gave a serious gaze right into the camera and calmly said, "This is for Jongin." And before the surprised looking Tao could say anything, the song started.

Jongin had gone rigid in his seat on the couch. Frozen, he stared at the TV, listening how Kyungsoo visibly poured his soul into his voice, into the music. The lyrics pierced Jongin's heart and at some point, the screen got very blurry but Jongin didn't even realised the streaks of tears running down his cheeks.

The song ended and the bowl of rice cake soup in Jongin's lap was cold, forgotten. Sehun seemed to sense Jongin's pent-up tension and quick-thinking, he snatched Jongin's bowl away and put it on the coffee table. By doing so, he saved it from tumbling to the ground, because in this instant, something snapped inside Jongin. He jumped to his feet and without saying anything, stormed off to his room. Sehun just warily stared after him.

Jongin rushed to his wardrobe and began digging at its floor, frantically throwing clothes over his shoulder, until he had found what he'd been searching for: his birthday presents, the CD from Sehun and the iPod from Kyungsoo, both still unpacked.

Or were they? Upon further examination, Jongin noticed that the iPod's little box had actually been opened before. He must have missed it on his birthday! He put down the CD and curiously fished out the iPod from the box. A small note fluttered into his lap.

My dear Jongin!, it read in Kyungsoo's handwriting.

I'm so sorry for not being able to send you any more covers, lately. And I miss you like

crazy! I hope you're doing okay... Please don't think that this iPod is meant as a goodbye

gift! Although my debt is payed now, I really really really want to stay close to you, Jongin...

Do you want to stay close, too?

Anyway, hopefully this gift will help you with your music addiction. I put a few songs on it

already, I hope you'll like the little playlist I made for you...

Oh no, I gotta go now... HAPPY BIRTHDAY JONGIN!!! <3

PS. Make sure to listen to the full playlist at least once!

Jongin's entire body was trembling. Slowly, he put the earphones in his ears with shaking fingers, and started the small electronic device. And sure enough, there was already a single playlist installed on the iPod. It was just titled My Prince and Jongin clicked to start it, his heart racing at approximately a hundred miles per hour.

The playlist consisted of a compilation of all of Kyungsoo's personal covers. Every single one of the songs that Kyungsoo had sung for only Jongin to hear. From the very first one, even including Hyeya and Oh My Goddess... Jongin cowered on the floor in his room and felt his insides melt, the way only Kyungsoo's velvet voice had the power to.

And then Jongin got to the last audio file of the playlist, and he was surprised to find out that it wasn't a song but, in fact, only a voice recording of Kyungsoo talking.

"Hey Jongin... If you hear this, you have reached the end of my little personalised playlist for you. I hope you liked it?" He chuckled, but then got serious again. "Jongin... I want you to know that I will, always and forever, be thankful for everything that you have done for me. I will never forget the way you believed in me when my own insecurity was threatening to drown my dreams. Your support means the world to me. I wouldn't be the person I am today, if it weren't for you, Jongin. And... I also want you to know that... I don't want to be just your jukebox anymore, in fact, I..." He awkwardly cleared his throat before taking a big breath. After a few tensed seconds of silence, Kyungsoo continued in a slightly shaky voice.

"I want to be your boyfriend, Jongin. I'm afraid my feelings for you aren't mutual but still. I want to let you know that you are the most beloved person in the entire world to me."

There, the recording ended. Jongin tried to swallow several times around the big lump in his throat. What an idiot he had been! He wiped his, once again, moist eyes with his sleeve and got up on wobbly legs since they had fallen asleep in his former kneeling position. He stumbled towards the living room where Sehun was still watching Tao's show.

"Is this live?" Jongin blurted the second he dashed in.

"Wh-what?" Sehun turned around, startled.

"This show!" Jongin gesticulated wildly to the TV. "Is this a live broadcast?"

"I... I think so, yeah..."

"Where is it?"

"Uh, the studio? I think it's in the building of Kyungsoo's music company. This host, Tao, is under the same label so it's probably–"

"Thanks!" Jongin cut his best friend off and rushed out again.

Remembering in the last second to grab his things (purse, phone, keys, jacket!), Jongin stumbled into his shoes and stormed out the door.

Adrenaline pumping through his veins, Jongin practically flew to the company building.

Of course the front door was guarded with burly security men, so Jongin tried to get in through the back doors, but to no avail, as they were guarded as well. His desperate attempt of sneaking around them was quickly thwarted.

"Please! Let me through!" he screamed. "I need to get inside!"

"Get lost, kid!" the security guard only grunted in return and shoved Jongin away. He tried to get through again, but another man grabbed his arms from behind and held him up in the air.

"Let me go!" Jongin struggled with all his might but the guard held him in a vicelike grip. "I need to see him! I need to see Kyungsoo! Please! Let me go, it's important!"

"We told you to piss off, you insufferable fanboy!" The security guard dropped him off a couple metres away and shoved him again, so that Jongin fell down on the concrete of the pavement. With a last contemptuous look, the man walked back to his position near the back doors.

Jongin winced as he slowly sat up and rubbed his hurting arm. They took him for just another fanboy trying to stalk his idol! There had to be another way of contacting Kyungsoo... With a start, he remembered his phone and frantically, he tried to fish it out of his pocket. Thankfully, it didn't break when he fell to the floor. But still, his shaking hands nearly dropped it and so it took him a few seconds until he had finally managed to dial Kyungsoo's number.

It seemed to ring at least a million times and Jongin grew more and more frustrated until finally, the line was picked up.

"...Hello? J-Jongin?" He sounded hesitant but it was definitely Kyungsoo's voice.

"Kyungsoo!" Jongin breathed, relief washing over him. "Kyungsoo, I-- I saw your performance! On TV, I mean. And... I heard your song. And I listened to the playlist, too! Yes, only now, so late, I know and I'm so sorry! But-- Anyway... Now I really need to talk to you. Like, right now!" He spluttered, his tongue almost stumbling over the words.

Kyungsoo was silent for a seemingly endless moment, before he asked in a low voice, "Where are you now?"

"In front of your company's building! No wait, actually, I'm behind it, I mean–"

"Go to EXO-café. Wait there for me. I'll come as fast as I can, okay?"

"EXO-café? Do you think it's even still opened? It's quite late already..."

"Don't worry, did you forget that we're guests of honour there?" Kyungsoo said warmly and Jongin could hear his grin through the phone. But before Jongin could say anything more, Kyungsoo cursed, whispered a quick "Gotta go! See you there!" and hung up.

Feeling as if floating, Jongin darted off to the café.

~*~

Jongin jumped up from his seat next to the window where he had waited anxiously, and rushed up to Kyungsoo as he made the bells above the door chime. Luhan and Minseok disappeared quickly into the café's kitchen, smirking knowingly. Kyungsoo had been right: Although the café had been practically closed already, a suprised Luhan had willingly allowed Jongin to wait inside the deserted café, as soon as he had stammered something incoherent about meeting Kyungsoo here.

Now Kyungsoo stepped inside and pulled his hood down just as Jongin grabbed his shoulders. The smaller male looked up at Jongin with hope written all over his face and his big, round eyes reflected the dim lights of the room and the street lights outside. Jongin thought that Kyungsoo had never looked more adorable and for a second, he was awe-struck, before he took a big breath.

"Kyungsoo, you were wong," he said very seriously. Kyungsoo froze but Jongin quickly spoke on, "Your feelings are mutual. I am madly in love with you. Still. And I know I always will be."

Kyungsoo let out the breath he had been holding. "Gosh, Jongin! Why did you have to formulate it like th–"

But he never got to finish his sentence, as his lips were suddenly captured by Jongin's.

[end]

A/N: (watch out, it's long. But long fic needs long a/n. Yay for author's trivia!)


- IT'S FINALLY DONE OMFG this fanfic literally took me forever to finish. I started this thing in march 2013(!) when i wrote the first 13k but then the fluffy part was about to end and i couldn't bring myself to write the rest for TWO YEARS. But i never wanted to abandon it and now i'm so glad that i didn't. I know there's a lot wrong with this story (the pacing is off, some transitions are awkward and the very first few paragraphs still make me gag) but in my defense, when i started it, this was literally only my second try at writing fanfiction ever. So i guess this might explain a few things lol...

- i'd like to mention the fact that i don't even own an iPod myself since i'm not an apple-person. I just used the word iPod because it's easier to write and read than sony walkman or whatever haha.
- i am aware that if the "big music company" is presumably sm-ent, irl two blokes very probably wouldn't be able to afford a flat in gangnam but, eh.
- errr if anyone's interested, jongin is wearing this on their first date.
- i know it's sort of implied, but you could say that the lyrics of the mentioned songs rise in significance as the story progresses. /hinthint that means u should look them up/ ;3

- i think i need to do smth about my habit of always ending my stories with a kissing scene... hm.

- credit for this fic's original idea goes to rasha. ("hey sharon last night i dreamed i went on a date with my iPod lawl") also, funfact: baekyeol's two fangirls are supposed to be her and me lmao. (Happy belated birthday, gull!!!)

- i'd like to thank my lovely eva for beta reading and for being generally amazing.
- further dedications go to cedric as this fic is one of the reasons we even became bros and to yuku for being the supportive cutiepie that she is.
- as for stats, this is the longest piece of fiction i've written to this day. I know, not much in comparison to others but to me it's a little milestone c:
- if you've read this far pls let me know what you think in the comments cuz PEOPLE WHO GIVE FEEDBACK ARE SAINTS <3

guitar

Human iPod [part III]

>look here for part II<


~*~

Kyungsoo continued to sing Jongin to sleep over the phone every second night of the following week when he wasn't too exhausted from work. When Friday rolled around again, Jongin went straight from the convenience store to EXO café as soon as his afternoon shift ended around seven. Sehun tagged along, claiming he wanted to see the performers again. Of course Jongin knew who his best friend really wanted to see again, but he spared Sehun's dignity by not teasing him and just pretending to buy his excuse.

Jongin had, together with a bit of Sehun's help, dug around in their apartment until he found the little digital camcorder he had inherited from one of his older sisters for his last birthday. She had been too lazy to buy a new present for him, so she had just given him her old camera. Fortunately it worked, even though he had to blow the dust off the lens and it emitted a slightly unnerving whirring sound, so Jongin had put it carefully into his bag this morning.

When he arrived at the café together with Sehun, it was still empty enough for them to find two seats near the stage. Kyungsoo, who had been talking to a round faced waiter behind the counter, came hurried over to their table, as soon as he spotted them sitting down.

“Hey Jongin, hi Sehun,” he greeted them with a smile. “You're here again for the performances tonight?”

“Yes,” Jongin replied while returning the smile. “And you are singing tonight as well?” he added, noticing how Kyungsoo wasn't wearing the usual waiters' uniform. He was dressed in more comfortable, but still fashionable clothes. Kyungsoo grinned happily and nodded.

“They practically begged me to join their regular line-up.” He looked down and sheepishly scratched his cheek. “Though I still have to get used to the spotlights pointing at me.”

“Don't worry,” Jongin reassured him. “In the spotlights is where you belong.”

Kyungsoo's shoulders relaxed a bit. “Thank you.” His head snapped up. “Well, uhm... What do you guys want to drink? Though I'm not exactly a waiter today, I could still try to get some discount for you.”

Jongin and Sehun thanked him for the offer and ordered hot chocolate and vanilla milk.

When Kyungsoo scurried off again to bring their drinks, Jongin reached into his bag to pull out the camera. He was fiddling around with it, trying to adjust the zoom, but the device's feature seemed to be broken. Sehun just let his gaze wander through the café, watching as more and more people filled the room.

Kyungsoo reappeared and carefully placed the mugs in front of them.

“Why did you bring a camera, Jongin?” Kyungsoo asked curiously, when he straightened himself again.

“I will try to record your singing tonight,” Jongin answered lightly.

“So that he can listen to recordings of your voice at least at our PC, when you're too busy to sing for him at night,” Sehun blurted with a smirk. Jongin shot him a glare.

“Oh, that's actually a really nice idea!” Kyungsoo exclaimed while his eyes cutely widened again.

“You think so?” Jongin looked up excitedly.

“Yes. I had actually felt rather bad, when I hadn't been able to sing for you this week. I'm sorry for this, Jongin...” he mumbled with a guilty expression.

“Ah, no! It wasn't that much of a problem, don't feel bad!” Jongin said quickly and waved his hands in dismissal of Kyungsoo's apology.

They smiled at each other again and Sehun made a strange sound between gagging and coughing.

In this moment the waiter Kyungsoo had talked to earlier, stepped up to them. “Kyungsoo, please go to the others behind the stage since we're going to start the programme soon,” he told him.

Yes, I'll come in a second,” Kyungsoo said. The waiter nodded and walked away.

“That was Minseok, whom I told you about, Jongin,” Kyungsoo explained. “But I guess I really have to prepare to sing now. Look how crowded it became...” he trailed off and slightly blanched when he realised how many people had gathered by now. It seemed like there was an even larger audience since the week before.

Jongin noticed the tension in Kyungsoo's body and reached up to squeeze the shorter male's hand with his own. “Like I said, don't worry! You'll do just fine,” he encouraged him.

Minseok called again and so Kyungsoo only nodded and squeezed back lightly. He let go and hurried over to where Baekhyun and Chanyeol where already waiting beside the stage.

Luhan stepped on the stage and waited until the crowd quieted down a bit before announcing tonight's performances. There was a small applause as Luhan descended the stage again and as Kyungsoo and Chanyeol stepped up, the latter again with his guitar clutched in his hand. Stools were brought and microphones adjusted and Kyungsoo looked very nervous, but fortunately his knees weren't shaking as visibly as last time.

Jongin switched his camera on. With the grainy image quality and the broken zoom he didn't really get a good picture, but he hoped that he was at least able to record a rather decent audio.

Kyungsoo cleared his throat. “Good evening, my dear audience. Thank you for coming tonight to listen to our perfomances at EXO-café. I hope you will enjoy your time here. Let's start with the first song then. Accompanied by Chanyeol on the guitar, I will do an acoustic cover of Sweet Holiday by CN Blue.”

Jongin was again immediately entranced by Kyungsoo's voice and only after the song finished and Kyungsoo bowed and left the stage to be replaced by Baekhyun, Jongin noticed that he had filmed half a metre too far left from Kyungsoo's frame the whole time. He hadn't even noticed it, too occupied with Kyungsoo and the way the lovely lyrics of the song seemed strangely heartfelt. But he guessed it wasn't that bad, since he didn't really care about the visual quality of the recording anyway.

While Baekhyun sang and danced to another Girls' Generation song (apparently they were his speciality), Kyungsoo walked over to Jongin and Sehun's table. “Well? How did you like it?” he asked in a hushed, but excited voice.

“Well done!” Jongin said with a large grin and lightly clapped the shorter male on the shoulder while Sehun nodded appreciatively. “I'm so proud of you,” he told the beaming Kyungsoo in a more quiet voice so only the shorter male could hear him.

Luhan appeared beside their table and Jongin absentmindedly noticed Sehun turning rigid beside him. Kyungsoo opened his mouth but before he could say anthing, Luhan held up his hand to cut the other off. “No, I know you're about to offer to change into your uniform to help out serving but since we kind of owe at least half of our guests tonight to you, Kyungsoo, I insist on you enjoying your evening. Please be our guest as well.” When Kyungsoo started to protest, Luhan added, “Okay, fine, help with the cleaning up later after closing time. Then we have a deal, alright? And please get whatever drink you want for yourself, Kyungsoo. It's on the house of course.” Luhan winked at Kyungsoo and gave a short wave to the other two males before he disappeared into the crowd again.

Kyungsoo just stared after him. Then he turned around to Jongin with a helpless look on his face. Jongin just looked back blankly and shrugged. “You can sit with us, if you like,” he said. The words were already out of his mouth when he noticed that there weren't any chairs left for Kyungsoo to sit on. “Err... I mean,” he mumbled and scratched his head while looking around in search of a vacant seat but to no avail. He apologetically looked up at Kyungsoo again. “Well, if you don't mind, uhm... you can err... sit on my uhm, lap,” he stuttered, faintly gesturing to his thighs. He could feel his face heating up.

Kyungsoo's cheeks were also grazed by a blush, but he nodded timidly and carefully lowered himself on the tip of Jongin's knees. Jongin frowned. “Come closer.” He slung an arm around Kyungsoo's belly, pulled him closer to himself and peeked around Kyungsoo's shoulder to the stage, seemingly suddenly engrossed by happenings on there. His arm stayed around Kyungsoo's waist and he certainly not pressed his cheek against the shorter male's upper arm. Nope.

A few minutes later Kyungsoo remembered the camera which Jongin had put aside on the table. He pointed to it. “Let's record the others as well, so you'll have more musical input at home,” he said.

“Ah? Uhm... no, let's rather save the battery...” Jongin had already recorded the best and for him most important performance of the night anyway. Though there was an even better part, he thought absently as he risked a glance up to Kyungsoo's face, only to quickly look in the direction of the stage again when he met the shorter male's curious gaze on him.

Kyungsoo didn't say anything more after that and they sat there together in peaceful and comfortable silence until the last song of the night's performances ended.

Kyungsoo gingerly got up, and Jongin could feel the blood rushing back into his legs; they had gone to sleep without him noticing, so he didn't stand up right away.

“Are you okay?” Kyungsoo asked worriedly, when Jongin started to rub his thighs to turn them back to life faster. “I hope I wasn't too heavy, was I?”

“No, don't worry, I'm fine,” Jongin assured him quickly and smiled again for emphasis.

Luhan took this moment to approach their table again to remind them of their little deal and Kyungsoo hurriedly bowed to him and waved to Jongin and Sehun with a “Bye, Jongin! Thanks for coming tonight!” before scurrying off after Luhan to help him and Minseok with the clean up.

Jongin and Sehun were nearly the last guests to leave the café and they quickly made their way home, breaths forming faint clouds in the almost icy air.

“You know, Sehun, if you want to impress Luhan next time, you will have to do more than just gaping at him.”

“Shut up, you ignorant lovebird.”

~*~

The new week began and Jongin was giving his girls in the dance school a short break, when he noticed the blinking of his phone, showing that a message had arrived. It was from Kyungsoo and Jongin wondered, since they usually never texted during the day, as they were both too busy most of the time with their jobs until late afternoon.

from: Kyungsoo-ya

Hey Jongin, what's your email address?

Jongin was surprised because he had rather expected the message to tell him that Kyungsoo wouldn't have time that evening, too (it'd be the third night in a row with Kyungsoo being too busy to sing for him over the phone, not that Jongin was counting and not that he was already missing him, except that he was). But he replied nonetheless.

to: Kyungsoo-ya

shadow_walker_kai@hotmail.com, y? o.o

While he kneeled by his stuff on the floor, typing into his phone, Yoona walked up to him. She tried to peek over his shoulder, tiptoeing to get a glance at what he was writing, but Jongin sensed her and quickly turned around, so she couldn't see the phone's display anymore.

“Why so secretive, Jongin-oppa?” she asked him curiously. Then she broke out into a knowing grin. “Ah, I know, you're texting your girlfriend, right?”

“No,” Jongin raised one eyebrow.

Taeyeon hopped over to them in that moment. “Your boyfriend, then, Jongin-oppa?” she chirped cheekily.

“...”

Taeyeon and Yoona gasped and squeaked in delight and the other girls of his class also quickly ran over to them. The two girls told the others the excited news within seconds, and before he knew it, Jongin found himself surrounded by a bunch of giggling and squealing elementary school girls.

“Look, he's even blushing, so it's true!” Hyoyeon exclaimed and a new round of cooing rose up, despite Jongin's indignant squawking. He was about to stand up and chase the snickering girls when his phone vibrated in his hand to indicate Kyungsoo's reply.

from: Kyungsoo-ya

Hahaha are you serious? Is this really your email address?

Jongin huffed and sulkily typed back, glad that Kyungsoo couldn't see his even redder face.

to: Kyungsoo-ya

is today national let's-make-fun-of-jongin-day or what??? the girls from my dance class are also amusing themselves at my expense right now..... -.-°

from: Kyungsoo-ya

Why? Do they also know your ridiculous email address?

Hahaha, oh my, what does it even mean?

to: Kyungsoo-ya

I WAS 12 WHEN I MADE IT OK STAHP JUDGING ME Q_______Q

from: Kyungsoo-ya

Okay, I'm sorry, I didn't want to offend you. ^-^

But I promise I'll make it up to you later...

(Yes I can use emoticons as much as I want! ^^ :P)

Jongin wondered what Kyungsoo might have meant by this promise and desperately tried to not think of anything inappropriate because he knew that Kyungsoo hadn't meant it that way.

Still redfaced though, he put his phone back into his bag and stood up. He clapped his hands twice, hollering over to the playing and still giggling girls to continue his lesson.

~*~

Jongin's limbs were aching and he felt ready to pass out at any moment when he returned home that evening. On top of the dance training, he'd had to haul at least a dozen cartons filled with bottles of mayonaise around the convenience store, each carton weighing at least ten pounds.

Since Sehun's shift had ended earlier than Jongin's, he hoped that his flatmate had maybe been a saint, making some food for Jongin or at least leaving left-overs for him. But no, he should have known, Jongin told himself miserably. In fact, Sehun wasn't home and upon realising that he couldn't even bug his best friend to cook for him now, Jongin let out a quite unmanly whine.

Jongin was busy contemplating if he should take the risk of blowing up the house by trying to turn on the oven for a frozen pizza or rather opt for a safer cup of instant noodles, when he felt his phone vibrating inside his pocket, indicating that a text message had arrived. Jongin pulled out his phone and raised his eyebrows in surprise, as it was from Kyungsoo again.

from: Kyungsoo-ya

Check your email! ^//-//^

Suddenly very glad that Sehun wasn't there to make fun of his cheeks, which were flaring with excitement, Jongin strutted over to Sehun's PC in the living room and switched it on. He snorted momentarily at Sehun's silly user password (“'gonewiththewind'... As if I could never crack that.”) and then proceeded to log into his own email account.

Above all the shady junkmail clustering his inbox waited a new mail from

d-o-93@gmail.com”, it even had a video-file attached to it. Again trying to ban all inappropriate thoughts from his mind, Jongin clicked on the file with slightly shaking hands. The few minutes it took for the old PC to open and load the video felt like torture for him.

But then the video started and showed the slightly nervous-looking face of Kyungsoo peering into the camera while glancing repeatedly to somewhere next to the lens; probably checking on his own computer screen, whether the angle was right.

After a few seconds of adjusting, Kyungsoo cleared his throat and smiled brightly into the camera. Jongin's heart kind of melted.

“Hey, Jongin,” he began, “how are you? Um, I guess you're asking yourself now why I bought a webcam with an integrated microphone, right? Well, I liked the idea of recording myself singing for you so that you can listen to me at home and whenever you like and I really hope I'm not imposing on you here but you are my biggest fan, aren't you? Gosh, I'm rambling again... What I actually just wanted to tell you with this video was that I–” he stopped abruptly to inhale a big breath as if about to say something really important.

But when he opened his mouth to speak again the breath seemed to be stuck in his throat and Jongin could see a bright blush forming on the other male's cheeks. However, after a pause, Kyungsoo just shook his head while squeezing his eyes shut for a second, then faced the camera again. “That I really, really hope that you'll continue to like my singing and stay my biggest fan,” he finished his broken off sentence with a shy voice.

“Okay, to not make this the 28th failed try of recording because of too much rambling again, I'll better just start now! This cover of You're My Melody by TVXQ is exclusively for you, Jongin...”

Kyungsoo looked to his computer screen again and clicked a few times with his mouse and then an instrumental version of the song started playing.

As always, Jongin found himself mesmerised from the moment that Kyungsoo started to sing. The sweet lyrics of the song seemed to float on a special connection from Kyungsoo's heart directly to Jongin's, where they hit bull's eye. Jongin could just sit there, frozen and with shining eyes and a continuously swelling heart while listening to his precious Kyungsoo singing again for him only.

“Well, that's it for now, I hope you liked it... See you, Jongin-ah!” Kyungsoo half-giggled when the song eventually ended and after a moment of hesitation he swiftly raised his hands to form a heart shape before clicking the video to an end.

Jongin just sat there and stared for a few more seconds until he darted from his stool to do a very embarrassing little jig of glee around the room, venting his feelings of overwhelming joy.

As soon as he plopped down again in front of his screen, he pressed the replay-button again and it was only after he was done rewatching the video for the third time that he remembered that he still had to send Kyungsoo a text message back, thanking him a ton.

Jongin replayed the video over and over and over and over for the rest of the evening, until he knew the song inside out and could tell when Kyungsoo would inhale and when he'd close his eyes and when he'd open them again and basically until he knew every second of the video from A to Z and backwards.

Jongin also took the chance to shamelessly stare at Kyungsoo's cute little face without fear of being noticed and judged by the shorter male. Jongin felt himself falling for this adorable boy all over again.

He was still busy rewatching the video, when he heard the chinking of keys in the hall, indicating Sehun's return. Jongin wanted to close the video's window, but he was too late, Sehun had already entered the living room.

So he had no option but to put on a way too innocent expression and to awkwardly place himself in front of the screen, trying and failing to hide Kyungsoo's video with his own torso from Sehun's view.

Sehun just raised one eyebrow and gave him a look. “What the hell, Jongin. Since when do you feel embarrassed to watch porn in my presence?”

Jongin spluttered, “That's not porn!”

“What's it then?”

“N-none of your business. But not porn!”

“I know.”

Jongin was about to indignantly inquire why Sehun then asked in the first place, when he noticed the sardonic smirk on his flatmate's face. Realising that Sehun had made fun of him, Jongin scowled.

“But I'll let you get away with it this time because I'm in such a good mood tonight,” Sehun said and tousled Jongin's hair good-naturedly before turning to head to the bathroom.

“Finally got the balls to talk to Luhan?” Jongin called after him.

Sehun just slammed the bathroom-door shut extra hard in response.

~*~

A few weeks later, autumn had changed into winter and the first flakes of snow began to fall in the December nights which became continuously colder and colder. Kyungsoo was established as a regular part of the lineup of performers at EXO-café's weekly musical events now and lately, Luhan had to close admission to the café around half past seven, since otherwise the room would have become too packed with people.

The atmosphere was pleasant and an expectant murmur went around the audience, when Kyungsoo – by now upgraded to final act of the evening – walked up to the stage with Chanyeol and his guitar as his usual accompaniment. While Kyungsoo and Chanyeol were setting up, Jongin was already standing at his habitual position right in front of the stage. He was making sure that his camera was ready to record when he noticed two men weaving through the crowd only to come to a sudden halt next to him. He wouldn't have minded them, if it weren't for the conspicuously tall height and blonde hair of one of the two, much to the chagrin of the guests standing right behind him. However, even if he was blocking their view, they didn't protest louder than a few annoyed groans among themselves, which Jongin blamed on the intimidating, constant scowl on the giant's features. His more normal sized companion had, in contrast, a very peaceful looking face with dimples showing on his cheeks as he calmly observed the final arrangements made by the people on stage.

Kyungsoo cleared his throat shyly and the room's buzz lapsed into anticipating silence.

"Good evening, my dear guests," he began. "First of all, I'm very glad that so many of you are here tonight to listen to our performances. Since I am the last one of tonight's programme, I thought it would be nice to top it off with something a bit more special. That's why I would like to present to you my very first selfcomposed song..." An appreciative murmur went through the crowd as reponse. Jongin saw a quick smile flash in spite of the nervousness strained on Kyungsoo's face. "It's called What Is Love and..." His breath hitched but he quickly caught himself again. "Anyway, please enjoy!"

As usual, Kyungsoo's beautiful voice instantly filled the room with raw, heartfelt emotion until it was nearly palpable in the air. It was only after the last note faded and a roaring applause erupted from the audience, that Jongin felt himself snap out of the magic spell cast on him. Seeing Kyungsoo's little chest almost bursting with pride, a feeling as if floating rose up in his own.

Visibly overwhelmed, Kyungsoo kept bowing and stammering thanks into the microphone until several minutes later the last people (with Jongin among them) stopped wildly cheering and applauding. Kyungsoo descended the stage and while the crowd migrated slowly to the café's exit, he walked over to where Jongin was standing. However, before the latter was even able to say a word, the tall, blonde guy next to him suddenly stepped forward.

"Are you Mister Do Kyungsoo?" he asked in a deep voice, which surprisingly didn't sound as unfriendly as his face looked.

"Huh? Uhm, yeah, I am..." Kyungsoo said and turned around to him and a worried frown formed on his forehead. "W-why? Did I do something wrong?" he stuttered as the tall guy's gaze pierced through him.

"No, no, everything's fine," a gentle voice piped up from behind the giant and the bedimpled, shorter guy pushed his companion away. "I'm sorry if my collegue Wu Yifan here scared you. He has a tendency to do that, though he's really just like a harmless little kitten inside," he explained with an apologetic smile while said Wu Yifan spluttered at the comparison. Ignoring him, the shorter guy went on to introduce himself: "My name is Zhang Yixing, pleased to meet you. Yifan and I work as talent scouts for the big music company across the street. We heard about you and your talent for singing from several indie music internet forums and decided to give it a listen tonight for ourselves. And we found that the rumours about you, Kyungsoo-ssi, were not exaggerating. Now, can you already guess what I'm trying to say?" Yixing said and leaned in a bit, wiggling his eyebrows.

Jongin had a sinking feeling but Kyungsoo only shook his head, looking baffled. After waiting for Kyungsoo to catch up for another few seconds in vain, Yifan spoke up.

"We'd like to hire you for our company as a trainee for singing, Kyungsoo-ssi," he said, matter-of-factly.

"Congratulations!" Yixing exclaimed with a beaming smile.

Now Kyungsoo looked nothing short of flabbergasted, and even Jongin couldn't help but let out a quiet gasp. Jongin turned around to Kyungsoo, expecting him to mirror his own excitement, but Kyungsoo seemed to have gone rigid. "Wha-- I," he croaked and, finally catching his breath again, added: "I am floored, honestly... I-- I don't know what to say... But I'm, like, wow! Really happy! And so flattered! But... I err, would like to uhm, take counsel with my pillow first... if that's okay?"

Yixing nodded indulgently. "Of course! Just call this number once you've decided," he pushed a fancy looking business card into Kyungsoo's left hand and grabbed his right for a quick handshake. "Well, obviously we're hoping for a positive response, Kyungsoo-ssi. Your talent really deserves to be famous... Now, I think Yifan and I will take our leave, then. Have a good night!" And with that, they both turned around and walked over to the café's door through which the last guests were exiting. Kyungsoo called a slightly belated "Thank you!" after them and got a small wave of Yixing's hand in return before the bells above the door chimed again. The closing sound of the door and the tinkling of the bells were the only sounds for a few seconds, as the remaining people in the room – Luhan and Sehun near the bar, Minseok behind it, and Jongin and Kyungsoo still in front of the stage – just stood there, frozen and silent. After it had been so packed with people before, the café practically felt deserted now.

Then Jongin couldn't hold it in anymore, so he let out a whooping sound and before he knew it, his friskiness had made him grab Kyungsoo around the waist, spinning him around. The boy in his arms answered with an almost manly squeal which quickly transformed into larksome laughter as he circled his own arms around Jongin's neck and hugged him back. Still spinning, they painfully collided with a couple of chairs and small tables, so Jongin quickly let the other down, before they collected too many bruises or even seriously damaged something or themselves. Still grinning though, he looked down into Kyungsoo's beaming face.

"You made it!" Jongin cried out happily. "I told you, you would make it one day! Your voice is gonna become famous! You are gonna become famous!"

"Oh my god," Kyungsoo laughed. "I can't believe what just happened..."

Now also Luhan, Sehun und Minseok clapped Kyungsoo on the back, congratulating him on unexpectedly winning over the talent scouts. Jongin felt nothing but overwhelming pride and happiness, the latter mainly because Kyungsoo pressed a small peck on his cheek before he kept holding Jongin's hand.

>look here for part IV<

guitar

Human iPod [part II]

>look here for part I<

~*~

Two days later, on Saturday night, Jongin lay on the couch in his and Sehun's flat, listlessly watching TV. The younger had gone out half an hour earlier for some sort of social gathering. He had asked if Jongin wanted to join but he had claimed to be too tired, so Sehun had shrugged and gone alone.

Jongin had half lied when he said he was tired. Because his body was restless again, his overreacting nerves making him bounce lightly on the couch. Maybe a night out clubbing with Sehun would finally have a wearing effect on his muscles. But his brain actually was tired, sleep deprived from long exhausting work hours in the convenience store and the dance studio. And although Jongin certainly didn't regret his meeting with Kyungsoo, he'd barely slept four hours that night until he'd had to get up again for morning shift.

All he wished for was to be able to calm down enough to drift into a sleep that lasted all Sunday morning long; luckily he had evening shift on Sundays. If he still had his iPod, he would listen to its music until it lulled him to sleep, but after a whole working week without the electronic device he already felt the symptoms of serious withdrawal.

It didn't help that he kept remembering his experience of Kyungsoo's voice in the karaoke-booth over and over again, the feeling of being enchanted by the melody leaving him craving for music even more.

Jongin had contemplated several times whether he should call Kyungsoo again for another meeting at the karaoke-bar just to be able to hear the shorter male's voice sing again. But since he didn't have the nerve for any more of Sehun's teasing, he had not yet found the courage to call Kyungsoo.

But with Sehun out for the next couple of hours, Jongin ran out of excuses.

Hesitantly, Jongin pulled his mobile phone out of his pocket and with the speed of a snail he pushed the buttons to open the screen to Kyungsoo's contact. He surprised himself when he suddenly pressed the call button after just staring at the display for about five minutes. While he held the phone to his ear and listened to the monotone rings, he quietly wondered if Kyungsoo maybe was still working at EXO-café, then again it was already nearly midnight.

Jongin was just starting to panic at the thought of rousing an innocent little Kyungsoo from his sleep, when he heard the line being picked up.

A soft and sleepy voice answered, “...Hello?” It was Kyungsoo.

“Oh, uhm... Hi Kyungsoo! Err... it's me, Jongin,” Jongin stammered awkwardly.

There was a surprised pause but then Kyungsoo answered friendly, “Oh, hey Jongin! Why did you call?”

“Uhm, do I bother you? You weren't already sleeping, were you? If yes, then I'm really sorry... Well, err, I just called be-because as you know I uhm, really like your voice. And,” Jongin cleared his throat, “uhm... I don't know how to make this sound less weird, but... could you just... sing for me? Like... now?” Jongin burbled. He winced. Damn, he should've really overthought this before calling.

“What? Oh no, don't worry, I wasn't sleeping. I was just uhm... reading,” Kyungsoo hurriedly assured him, but there were rustling sounds, presumably from a blanket being crumpled up, audible from Kyungsoo's end of the line and Jongin felt a bit guilty. “But what did you say? I should... sing? Now? But why?” Kyungsoo asked confused.

“Well, uhm, you know how much I treasured my iPod, right?” Jongin tried to explain. “And that was because its music was the only thing able to calm me. I... I don't think you noticed but I actually suffer from slight hyperactivity. And well, since the iPod isn't available anymore, my limbs kept spazzing about for the last two days and it's really getting on my nerves... pun intended.”

Kyungsoo chuckled at the little joke and Jongin could feel part of the tension in his body dissolving at the sound.

“But Jongin... You know I don't like to sing,” Kyungsoo mumbled apologetically.

“Of course you like it, don't lie.”

“But I feel uncomfortable...”

“Even with me? I already listened to you once and you survived it, right? Come on, Kyungsoo, do it as some kind of therapy for me,” Jongin cajoled him.

Kyungsoo was quiet for a contemplative moment.

“Okay, since you're right and we both came kind of unscathed out of it the last time... And if it's the case that you really need it,” Kyungsoo finally said with another snicker, “I guess I have no other choice but to sing... As some kind of therapy.”

Jongin could hear his smile and it brought a smile to his lips as well.

“So, which song should I sing?” Kyungsoo asked cheerfully. “Any special requests?”

“Oh? No... I haven't thought about that, actually...” Jongin said. “Sing whatever song you want, I'm fine with everything. As long as it's music, the therapy works for me.”

“Hmm, let's see... Ah! Do you know Oh My Goddess by TRAX? How about that one?” Kyungsoo suggested.

“Great! I love this song!”

“Yes? Okay, then...” Kyungsoo cleared his throat and took a deep breath.

And then he began to sing, and even if it was a capella, Jongin couldn't suppress his toes tapping to the beat. Not in an uncontrolled, hyperactive way this time, but in an instinctive attempt to dance along. Even if it was already quite dark in the room around Jongin, he closed his eyes to also block out the moonlight streaming in from the window. He just lay on the couch, held his phone to his ear and listened to the angelic voice.

The song ended much too soon for Jongin's liking and he let out a wistful sigh.

“Wow,” he breathed. “Again so awesome, Kyungsoo!”

He heard Kyungsoo giggle. “I'm glad you liked it. Are you feeling better now?” Kyungsoo asked.

“Yes. Much better,” Jongin replied. And he really was, his limbs already beginning to feel like lead and his eyelids drooping. He finally felt completely relaxed. “I think now I'm gonna be able to sleep,” he said drowsily.

“Alright then good night, Jongin. Sleep well,” Kyungsoo said, his smile audible.

“Sleep well, too. And thank you, Kyungsoo,” Jongin mumbled, already drifting out of consciousness.

He heard a faint chuckle again, but by the time the line went dead and his mobile phone slipped out of his slack hand, Jongin was already fast asleep on the couch.

~*~

to: Kyungsoo-ya

sing for me again tonight pls?

from: Kyungsoo-ya

Again?! Jongin, I sang for you for the past consecutive 5 evenings.

You really are an addict. Maybe you should start seeing some doctor? :P

to: Kyungsoo-ya

i dont need a doctor i just need ur voice <3

(Message sending cancelled.)

to: Kyungsoo-ya

omg whats that? already getting cheeky O I C. hey im

the only1 whos allowed to use stupid emoticons :P :P :P

from: Kyungsoo-ya

You are such a brat.

to: Kyungsoo-ya

stop whining. whose fault is it after all that

i dont have my iPod anymore? :P

from: Kyungsoo-ya

Killer argument.

~*~

It was only after he had called Kyungsoo thrice in vain, and had got no response to any of his text messages all day long, when Jongin remembered that it was Friday night and Kyungsoo was most likely too busy at the moment to answer his phone, as he was still working at EXO-café because of the weekly performance-night.

Jongin stopped pacing in his bedroom and stood still for a moment, indecisive, until he suddenly got a brilliant idea. He inwardly congratulated himself, grabbed his jacket and purse, keys, phone and walked into the kitchen. Sehun was sitting at the kitchen table, slurping some instant noodles.

“I'm going to EXO-café,” Jongin told his flatmate when he looked up.

“Aww, are you so smitten with your Babysoo so you immediately have to see him in person?” Sehun teased with a barely visible smirk.

“Sh-shut up! It's not like that,” Jongin spluttered. “I'm going because I want to listen to the music performances they hold there every Friday night. And don't call him that,” he added with a frown.

Sehun just raised his eyebrows but turned to his noodles again. “Whatever. See you later, Jongin,” he said.

“...I was wondering, maybe you want to come with me?” Jongin asked casually after a pause.

Sehun let out a sigh but nodded and stood up to place the empty bowl into the sink while muttering “Great, now I even have to be his wingman or what,” under his breath.

Jongin ignored Sehun's glare and just flashed his best friend a grateful smile.

~*~

The café was bustling with people when the two arrived together fifteen minutes later. Every seat was occupied and there were even a few people sitting on the tables between the couches and armchairs or just leaning against the wall. Like Kyungsoo had said, there was a little stage in the back of the room, which was currently lit up by several spotlights. In the middle of the stage stood a microphone stand and a short, brown-haired young man with artfully applied eyeliner was performing some upbeat pop song while the audience cheered enthusiastically. The most conspicuous fans of the guy on stage were two squealing girls and a darkbrown haired, tall guy with a booming voice and whose eyes were almost as round as Kyungsoo's, as Jongin fleetingly noticed.

“Is he honestly singing some kind of male version of Girls' Generation's Gee?” Sehun mumbled incredulously while staring at the stage. Jongin just shrugged and began to search the crowd for Kyungsoo.

When he finally spotted the shorter male serving some drinks at a table, Jongin weaved through the people and pulled Sehun with him by the wrist.

“Hey, Kyungsoo,” Jongin greeted with an automatic smile.

Kyungsoo looked up and upon recognising the taller male, immediately smiled back. “Jongin! Why are you-- I didn't know you were going to--” He seemed pleasantly surprised.

“I'm here because you weren't answering your phone and then I remembered the performance nights you'd mentioned and I hadn't had my daily music-fix yet,” Jongin explained.

“Ah yes, sorry, I was so busy today, I didn't have the chance to even look at my phone all day, yet,” Kyungsoo apologised. “But look, you came just in the right moment to see Baekhyun perform,” he added excitedly and pointed over to the stage. “And while we're at it, the giant in the first row over there is Chanyeol, he also performs sometimes but I think not tonight. You'll have to come again another time to listen to him, I guess. And this girl with the brown curls next to him is this one fangirl of his, whom I told you about. You know, whose promotion campaign among her friends saved our café. And the girl next to her is her best friend. She's apparently Baekhyun's biggest fan,” Kyungsoo babbled while gesturing to the people he was talking about.

When he turned around to Jongin again, he finally noticed Sehun, who had been hovering a little awkwardly behind Jongin. “Oh hello, you are probably Jongin's flatmate?” he asked curiously.

“Hello, my name is Oh Sehun and yes, I'm this idiot's flatmate and best friend,” Sehun replied and winked, pointing at Jongin at his side.
Kyungsoo chuckled and while he introduced himself, Jongin glared at Sehun for the little skit.

“Nice to meet you, Kyungsoo-ssi. Jongin told me so much about you already,” Sehun said with a saccharine smile. Jongin glared some more.

“Really?” Kyungsoo replied and looked at Jongin with his eyes widening adorably again. But before Jongin could respond anything, someone at the tables behind him called out for Kyungsoo and the shorter boy excused himself for a moment with a sheepish smile before scurrying off to attend the table.

As soon as Kyungsoo was out of earshot, Jongin whirled around to Sehun. “What the hell was that, man,” he growled quietly. “I never told you 'so much' about him,” he said while using air quotes.

“Calm down, bro,” Sehun said and patted Jongin's shoulder. “I'm just doing my job as your wingman here.”

“Yeah, great, now he thinks I'm some sort of fanatic stalker.”

“Nonsense. He just thinks that you find him interesting. Which you do, there's no need to deny it,” Sehun deadpanned.

“There was also no need to flirt with him,” Jongin said teeth-gnashingly.

Sehun just gave him a look. “Oh please, Jongin. Already becoming possessive over the little guy? But don't worry, he's not really my type,” he reassured him. Jongin eyed him sceptically but Sehun just smirked and gave his head a pat in response.

Kyungsoo reappeared and Sehun declared that he saw someone he knew on the other side of the café and with a meaningful look at Jongin he strode off to leave him alone with Kyungsoo.

“Doesn't Sehun-ssi want something to drink?” Kyungsoo asked as he looked after Sehun's retreating back.

“Nah, don't worry about him, he'll come back if he needs anything,” Jongin told him. “Anyway, uhm... Who's this now?” Jongin hurriedly said and pointed to the stage in an attempt to pull Kyungsoo's attention away from his flatmate.

Baekhyun had just descended the stage and another young guy stepped on it. He had black hair and wasn't the tallest either. His face somehow resembled a cat. He adjusted the microphone and after tapping his foot four times to the beat, he began to sing some jazzy ballad.

“That's Jongdae,” Kyungsoo elaborated. “Even though he doesn't have as many fans as Baekhyun, he's just as talented. You can virtually grasp his passion whenever he is singing.”

Jongin hummed and nodded while he looked at Kyungsoo sideways. He didn't miss the fleeting look of longing on Kyungsoo's face when the shorter male's gaze flickered to the stage.

Coming to a decision, Jongin suddenly took Kyungsoo's wrist and pulled him away to a little less noisy corner of the café. When he stopped walking, he reluctantly let go of Kyungsoo's wrist and turned around to him to look at his slightly confused expression.

“Listen, I have to talk to you about something,” Jongin began hesitantly. “Kyungsoo... We both know that you also should be standing on this stage, singing. It's so obvious that you want to, so just do it,” he added when he saw Kyungsoo taking in a breath to probably deny his desire to perform as well.

Kyungsoo closed his mouth again and just shook his head. “You know I can't,” he said softly while avoiding Jongin's gaze.

“No, I know that you can,” Jongin retorted insistingly. “Believe me when I say this: I really think that there is nobody better suited for this job than you with your enormous talent,” he said firmly and looked Kyungsoo straight in the eye to emphasise his honesty.

Kyungsoo just stared back at Jongin's face with a torn expression for a moment but then lowered his gaze with a sigh and exasperatedly shook his head again. “No, Jongin. Thank you for your kind words but I don't think you understand... it's just too hard,” he said dejectedly.

Jongin quickly shook his head as well and grabbed Kyungsoo's shoulders to force him to look into Jongin's eyes again. “Kyungsoo, I'm serious. There is absolutely no need for you to hide your gifted voice. Even if you made a mistake while singing, I'm sure no one would even notice. Though I don't think you'd make one anyway. So don't worry about any heavy judgement form others. It's really actually not that hard, just sing like you sang for me and you'll be just fine. I know you can do it, I know you belong to the stage,” Jongin told him in a low, insistent voice.

He could see the conflict reflected in Kyungsoo's expression, so he gently shook the shorter male's shoulders for emphasis. “Believe in yourself, Kyungsoo, because I do. I believe in you,” Jongin assured him with utmost sincerity.

Kyungsoo almost looked like he was about to cry again, gratefulness swimming in his eyes. But he quickly blinked several times, swallowed hard and then nodded. Jongin smiled back softly when Kyungsoo finally showed a small hesitant smile.

Although his desire to hug Kyungsoo felt nearly overwhelming, Jongin restrained himself and reluctantly let go of the slim shorter male's shoulders. There was a tensed moment of silence where Kyungsoo seemed to want to say something but not knowing how. But when their eyes met they both chuckled sheepishly and averted their gaze again.

Jongin, suddenly feeling a bit awkward, cleared his throat. “Well then, look, this guy has just finished. That means it's showtime for you,” he declared and started to push a surprised Kyungsoo in the direction of the stage, which Jongdae had just descended amid applause.

A young man in the café's waiter-uniform with honey coloured, fluffy hair and a doll face appeared and went to take off the microphone stand, as it probably had been the last scheduled performance. But Jongin hurried over and when he told the waiter to leave the microphone since Kyungsoo was going to sing, his already ridiculously large eyes grew even wider. The waiter exchanged an astonished look with Kyungsoo but wordlessly put back the microphone stand when Kyungsoo confirmed Jongin's words with a meek nod.

The shorter male still needed a musical backup so the waiter waved Chanyeol over, who just had slung a guitar case over his shoulder. The tall guy walked over with a curious face and when Kyungsoo asked him to accompany his singing, he seemed even more surprised, but agreed immediately.

While Kyungsoo arranged with Chanyeol which song he wanted to perform, the waiter with the honey coloured hair positioned himself next to Jongin where he stood right in front of the stage.

Hello, my name is Luhan, headwaiter and owner of EXO-café,” he introduced himself. “And you are?”

“I'm Kim Jongin, a friend of Kyungsoo's,” Jongin replied. Luhan looked at him as if he was expecting some more elaboration, but Jongin stayed silent.

“So I guess we owe it to you? That this kid is finally going to sing in public again,” Luhan said quietly, so only Jongin could hear him.

Jongin nodded. “It wasn't easy to convince him, but I really think his talent mustn't go to waste,” he said intently while watching Chanyeol tuning his guitar and Kyungsoo adjusting the microphone on the stand so it fitted his height.

Luhan gave Jongin a short pensive look but then he smiled and turned around to face the stage again as well.

The audience seemed surprised as well when Kyungsoo appeared on the stage, not having expected a third performer for the night, especially not one dressed in the waiters' uniforms, and a murmur went through the room. People who had been in the middle of standing up from their seats or of slipping into their jackets and coats, sat down or took them off again, respectively. As Kyungsoo stood there with slightly trembling knees, squinting in the spotlight and clutching the microphone in his hands, every pair of eyes in the café watched him attentively, waiting for him to do or say something.

Kyungsoo nervously cleared his throat. “Good evening, dear guests of EXO,” he began hesitantly. “I know there were originally only two performances scheduled for tonight and I'm really sorry if some of you have to actually hurry home already, because you didn't plan on staying so long and I could totally understand you if you stood up now and walked out the café's door now,” Kyungsoo rambled. Luhan next to Jongin made a motion as if he'd had to resist an urge to facepalm, but in the audience just a few exchanged confused looks between each other. Otherwise everyone stayed where they were, waiting patiently for Kyungsoo to continue.

Kyungsoo licked his lips and took a deep breath. “Well, thank you for staying, I guess. I'd also like to apologise for my nervousness right now, it's just that it's the first time in years for me to be on stage and about to sing a song again in front of an audience. So please bear with me if I make any mistakes. Uhm, alright then... let's start. Here is my cover of A Day by Super Junior...”

Kyungsoo locked eyes with Jongin for a short moment. They smiled at each other and Jongin held up a fist and mouthed the word fighting!, Kyungsoo's eyes lighting up in response. He then turned around to give a nod to Chanyeol as a signal to start playing the intro.

Soon enough, Kyungsoo's velvet voice filled the room and apart from his singing and the soft music coming from Chanyeol's guitar nobody made a sound. Everyone just listened awestruck to the sweet, sweet melody. But around the second chorus Baekhyun started to clap his hands to the beat, the motion followed suit by Chanyeol, Jongdae, Luhan, Jongin of course and several other bystanders until at the end of the song the whole café was clapping to the rhythm. Everyone had smiles in various sizes on their faces.

But nobody's smile was as big and blinding as Kyungsoo's when thunderous applause surged up, the moment the song's last note faded away.

~*~ PART II

On their way home, Jongin and Sehun walked next to each other, the former with a light spring in his step.

Jongin had found Sehun standing a few steps behind him in the hustle as everyone had been getting ready to leave EXO-café to go their respective homes. Jongin had said goodbye to a beaming Kyungsoo, a contented looking Luhan and the overly excited others and though he would have loved to stay a bit longer in Kyungsoo's presence, he still had work early the next morning. Kyungsoo had waved back at him through the tangle of his friends' arms, under which he was being buried as soon as he stepped down from the stage, all his friends trying to hug him all at the same time.

It was only then on the nightly pavement that Jongin noticed that Sehun was being quieter than usual. In fact, his best friend hadn't said anything since he'd found him in the crowd. Jongin was getting worried that maybe Sehun hadn't had such a good time at EXO-café for whatever reason, and that he was being angry at Jongin for dragging him along to such non-entertainment.

“Hey, Sehun, what's up?” Jongin asked him, stopping his skipping to walk a bit slowlier next to Sehun. He bowed a bit in an attempt to peer at Sehun's downward expression. “Wasn't this fun for you for some reason?”

Sehun looked right past Jongin and just wordlessly shook his head.

“Hey hey, are you avoiding me here,” Jongin said slightly indignantly and took a step right in front of Sehun to force him to stop on the pavement. “Buddy, what is it? Is something wrong?” he inquired.

“Everything's fine,” Sehun mumbled and tried to sidestep around Jongin, but the latter moved so he kept standing in Sehun's way.

Sehun finally looked up into Jongin's eyes. “I'm fine, it's really not a big deal, okay?” he sighed. “I was just... thinking,” he said and tried again to walk around Jongin.

This time Jongin let him past and just followed him, frowning. “Thinking about what?”

Sehun gave Jongin an appraising sidewards glance. Then he sighed again and slowed his pace again, so that Jongin could walk beside him more comfortably again. “Okay, I'll tell you. It's one of the waiters at the café, which I found rather... interesting,” Sehun confessed hesitantly, a faint blush creeping on his pale cheeks.

“One of the waiters?” Jongin asked while trying to remember if he saw Sehun talking to any of them. Then his expression darkened. “You don't mean Kyungsoo, do you?”

“What? No! Jongin, calm down, I already told you that he's not my type! Don't worry, Romeo. I'll leave your little princess alone,” Sehun reassured his friend. “No, one of the other waiters... You know, the one with the doll's face, light brown hair...”

“Ah, you mean Luhan!” Jongin exclaimed.

“Uhm, yeah...” Sehun lowered his gaze to the pavement again.

“Do you have a crush on him?” Jongin asked excitedly.

“No! No... I just.... think he's... pretty. That's all...” Sehun muttered, again trying to hide his embarrassment by ducking his head.

“That's all, hmmm...” Jongin mused with a teasing smirk, but didn't pry any further. As long as his best friend wasn't a potential threat for his own little romance, he didn't care as much actually.

When he realised as what he'd just referred Kyungsoo to, Jongin nearly tripped over thin air, catching himself in the last moment before faceplanting right onto the pavement. Since Sehun seemed to be currently woolgathering anyway, he hadn't noticed Jongin's little slip-up. But Jongin still felt his cheeks heating up.


>look here for part III<

guitar

Human iPod [part I]

Shären 030313 - 120415

A/N: I AM SO SORRY FOR THE CRAPPY FORMATTING BUT LJ IS A BITCH. T-T

Title: Human iPod
Band: Exo
Pairing: main!KaiSoo (Jongin/Kyungsoo), minor!HunHan (Sehun/Luhan)
Genre: Romance, fluff, drama... y'know, the usual. AU
Rating: PG-13

Warning: None except for excessive Kyungsoo-feels and Sehun!snark.
Length: Oneshot, 18.3k words
Disclaimer: This is fanfiction. I own nothing but the plot and formulations. Credit to all the songs mentioned in this story goes to their respective owners.
Summary: As repayment for breaking his iPod, Kyungsoo becomes Jongin's little jukebox in human form.

Please don't stay in my heart once you're gone

I still want you

Don't dwell in my ears

Because I wanna listen, I wanna listen to your sound.

Kim Sunggyu - Because

PART I

Kim Jongin's most precious property was his iPod. It had taken several weeks of working long overtime hours at the convenience store and only eating instant noodles every second day, until he had finally scraped enough money together to buy the expensive electronic device. The convenience store where he jobbed was located just down the road of the flat he shared with his co-worker and best friend Oh Sehun. The two young men were struggling to pay for food and their monthly rent and tried to jazz up their income by giving dance classes to children in the dance studio at the local music school.

Music was the only way for Jongin to calm down his usual slight hyperactivity; whenever he wasn't dancing or listening to music, his knees just wouldn't stop bouncing and his foot wouldn't stop tapping the floor. It had driven everyone around him nearly mad and not only Jongin was happy, when he finally got an iPod he could absentmindedly listen to all the time and he was able to tone down his constant fidgeting to a minimum. This was why Jongin brought his iPod around everywhere he went and handled it with kid gloves. Even at work behind the till he always had at least one earplug in his ear.

~*~

It was a chilly late afternoon in October, with the sun sending a few last desperate rays of warmth, before it was about to set behind Seoul's rooftops, and the wind blew already coldly through the streets, when Jongin was on his way from the dance studio to the convenience store. It was one of the pupils' birthday and the little girl had invited the other kids to her birthday party, leaving with all of them half an hour before the usual end of the lesson. Otherwise they wouldn't be at the cinema in time when the movie they had planned to watch started. So Jongin had agreed to make an exception just for today and ended his class earlier than usual.

With the little bit of spare time at hand, Jongin decided to drink a coffee at the café, called EXO, which he always passed on his way from one workplace to the other but never had the chance to enter yet, though it looked rather cosy from the outside.

The small bell above the entrance tingled, when Jongin opened the door and he hadn't been wrong about his first impression. The café was indeed warm and elegantly decorated without being too tawdry and the pleasant scent of freshly baked muffins wafted through the shop. Jongin found a nice corner at the window and sat down on the comfortable armchair with a contented smile, glad that he took the chance to enter the café.

Being in a good mood, he offered the waiter who took his order a smile, but didn't notice that the young looking guy's already large eyes grew even slightly wider and his cheeks tinged a light pink.

When the waiter scurried off to bring his latte macchiato, Jongin took his iPod out of his jacket pocket and placed it on the table. He put the earplugs in and listened to the music while looking out of the window to his left at the people walking outside and the big building of a music company across the street. Maybe one day he could dance well enough to pass one of their biannual castings and then he'd become famous, popular and rich, the opposite of what he was now.

Jongin looked up when he sensed sudden movement to his right but when he finally realised that his latte macchiato wasn't supposed to fly into his face, it was already too late. The hot drink splattered all over his face and clothes and – the worst! – also over his precious iPod, still situated on the table in front of him. He gasped and hurriedly tried to pick up the iPod to clean off the coffee but the waiter, who was still trying to regain his balance from when he had tripped on his way to Jongin's table, instinctively reached out to the table's edge but missed it by only a few millimetres. Instead his fingers caught the iPod's wire and with a yelp and a crashing sound both the waiter and the iPod went tumbling down to the floor. To put the cherry on the cake, the empty glass from the latte macchiato rolled off of Jongin's lap and fell right onto the iPod, smashing its display so the coffee stain on it could seep through the cracks into the casing. With a nasty short sizzle the display first flickered a few times in several colours and then went completely black.

Frozen with shock, Jongin could only stare in disbelief at what had happened to his beloved iPod. The waiter stopped groaning and clutching his forehead where it had collided with the table's edge during his fall and sat up while desperately pressing the iPod's buttons and gently tapping against the display to make it come back to life. But to no avail, the iPod was broken.

“Oh my god, I'm so sorry! I'm so, so, so sorry! Oh my god, no. No, no, no, no, no. Please, don't be broken, oh my god, I'm so sorry! Oh god, no...” the waiter started to whine and apologise profusely. “This was very expensive, right? Oh damn it, I'll have to pay for it, oh no... Tell me, sir, how much did it cost?” he asked Jongin who had finally snapped out of his shocked state at the sound of the waiter's voice.

“Yes, it was indeed very expensive! Man, this can't be true... you don't imagine how much I had to save up just to buy it...” Jongin huffed with increasing frustration, as it dawned on him what exactly had happened. He gingerly took his dead baby in his hands and held it to his face, eyeing it closely, desperate to maybe find a way to repair it. He winced when he found none.

The waiter in front of him looked like a drowned rat. “Well, the thing is... I'm afraid I won't be able to pay for it, since I don't earn enough. At least I won't right away, but maybe if you wait a few... weeks? I don't know... Then I could save up some money to repay you...” he said miserably. “B-but let me at least treat you to food or something! As kind of a deposit! I'm so sorry that's all I can offer to you right now, but please, I definitely will make up for the damage in the end, I promise! Please, don't call the police, I don't want to go to jail, I'm sorry! I will repay you, I'm so sorry...” he began rambling with tears forming in his eyes when he saw Jongin looking angry at the thought of having to wait again for weeks until he would have a new iPod.

But seeing the poor little guy cowering desperately in front of him and nearly bursting into tears, Jongin couldn't bring himself to not feel pity for him. “Okay, fine!” he sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I'll accept the deposit. Just stop crying already. And stop exaggerating, as if you'd have to go to jail for this... So what's your name?” he asked the waiter, whose head had shot up, visibly relieved at Jongin's words.

“Thank you! And my name is Do Kyungsoo! Where and when you want to eat is up to you, since it's me treating you and all...” he said with a genuinely happy smile. It was so cute that Jongin felt a bit taken aback. Kyungsoo's eyes formed into little crescents and the teardrops in his eyes' corners rolled down his cheeks in tiny streaks.

“Yeah, alright... I'm Kim Jongin, by the way. I will think of a place and time and let you know about it when I decide, okay? And I said you should stop crying,” Jongin mumbled and looked away.

“Oh? Y-yes, of course,” Kyungsoo said while hurriedly wiping his cheeks with his sleeves and standing up. “I-I'll bring a piece of paper to write down my contact information, so you can just call me when you decided,” he said and scurried over to the café's counter to bring a pen and a paper.

Jongin realised then that his clothes were still covered in latte macchiato and with a sigh he picked up a few napkins from the table and began dabbing at the stains. But he reckoned he would have to jog home anyway to change because there was no way he could show up at work in dirty clothes. He would have to call Sehun to ask him to put his name on the shift's list for him so his tardiness wouldn't be too obvious later.

Kyungsoo returned to his table with the piece of paper and another glass of latte macchiato in his hand, saying this would be of course on the house. But when Jongin replied that he'd have to go anyway now to hurry home to change his clothes, he nodded and walked back to the counter to quickly transfer the beverage into a cardboard cup. Jongin pocketed the paper strip with Kyungsoo's name and phone number and took the cup from him. When he was at the door, Kyungsoo called “I'm sorry again! And thank you again!” from the counter. Jongin gave a short nod in reply, turned around and walked out of the door, his thoughts about wondering why things like that always seemed to happen to only him accompanied by the tinkling of the bell above the door.

~*~

When Jongin finally arrived at the convenience store, thankfully only fifteen minutes late since his flat was only down the road, Sehun looked up at him from where he was sitting on a folding stool, flipping in a gossip rag underneath the cashier's counter. They weren't allowed to touch the goods for sale but if nobody knows then nobody cares.

“Why exactly are you late again? All I could make out of your panting into the phone was that you were gonna be late somehow and that I should already enter your name on the list. That's what I did, but I didn't get why you made all the fuss. So what happened?” Sehun drawled. To people who didn't know him, Sehun often seemed constantly bored of his surrounding. Sometimes, when he was sleepy and his eyelids drooped, he even came off as annoyed or unfriendly. But as his best friend, Jongin was able to read him without misunderstanding his facial expressions and the calm posture in which Sehun was seated at the counter told Jongin that the other wasn't really angry at him, but rather concerned.

“My iPod got broken,” Jongin moaned and pulled out another folding stool from the closet behind the counter. Sehun looked up from the magazine in his hands with his eyes widened in surprise. “What?! But how?” he asked.

Jongin sighed again. “One of the waiters at EXO... you know, that little café across the street from the music company, accidently broke it. The café is actually very neat and I wanted to visit for quite a while now to drink a nice cup of tea or something, but never had had the time for it. But today it was Sunny's birthday and she wanted to watch some kind of 'Finding Nemo' rip-off or something with the other kids. So I let them out of class a little earlier than usual. That's why I walked into the café, right into the miserable end of my precious baby... And I was in such a good mood when I entered!” Jongin whined dramatically and slouched tiredly against Sehun's shoulder.

Sehun patted Jongin's hair sympathetically. “I'm sorry to hear that,” he said and pressed one hand on Jongin's already annoyingly wiggling knee.

“You're only sorry for yourself,” Jongin said teasingly and pouted.

“How could you say that?! I hereby give my deepest expressions of condolence to the next of kin. May Kim iPod rest in peace,” Sehun teased right back with mock hurt and a miniature smirk tugging on the corner of his mouth. “But really, didn't I tell you to buy a protective case?”

“Are you really gonna be so cruel and say 'I told you' now?”

“Yes. Because I told you.”

“You are cruel and I hate you.”

“I love you, too, my little bundle of joy.”

Jongin sighed again but the little bickering had already lifted his mood a bit. Quietl for a moment, he listened to the annoyingly loud buzzing sounds emitted by the chest freezer and the refridgerated shelves. The shop's speakers broke a couple of months ago, and ever since, Jongin's and Sehun's boss had promised to repair them. However, as of yet, these promises had turned out to be empty ones and so Jongin couldn't even relish in the music which usually played in convenience stores. He could try and bring a radio to work the next day, except that he currently wasn't sure about the radio's exact location in the flat... Damn.

“Well, anyway," Jongin said after the surrounding machines' whirring sounds breaking the silence became unbearable for him. "This guy said, because he apparently can't repay for the iPod right away, he would treat me to food instead. As some sort of deposit until he got the money. So he gave me his phone number and said I should call him when I decided when and where I want to eat.”

“Oh that's actually an original way to get someone's phone number, don't you think? This guy seems to be quite clever,” Sehun remarked casually. He had gone back to studying the paparazzi-shots of the latest minor celebrity scandal.

“Don't be ridiculous,” Jongin mumbled. “He was really on the brink of tears. You should have seen his face when he thought he'd have to go to jail for breaking my iPod...” Jongin chuckled quietly. “But do you think I should make him treat me to expensive food in a fancy restaurant or rather like fastfood?” he asked, still slumped on Sehun's shoulder.

Sehun glanced at Jongin. “And you're asking this the cruel person whom you hate? Are you sure?” Sehun deadpanned again, before dodging Jongin's finger attempting to poke into his side. “No, but seriously. It's up to you. It just depends on which kind of restaurant you want to hold your first date in, you know?”

“Oh shut up, will you?” Jongin grumbled. He gave a light shove to the smirking Sehun when he felt his cheeks warming up slightly and stood up to pick up one of the can-filled cartons lying on the floor, quickly walking into the aisle with instant meals. He pointedly ignored his best friend's giggles.

~*~

Three days later, Jongin was standing in front of the mirror in the tiny bathroom of his and Sehun's flat. He scrutinised his reflection while plucking irritatedly at his styled up hair-ends. He had already spent nearly an hour in front of the mirror, testing several hairstyles only to be dissatisfied with the result again and starting all over again. Frustrated, he stepped out of the bathroom and walked over to where Sehun was lounging on the couch, busy texting on his phone while commercials blared from the TV.

“What do think, is this okay?” Jongin consulted his flatmate. He was dressed in a blue jeans jacket over a dark gray t-shirt with cloth trousers in a slightly lighter tone. His hair was swept to the side but his endlessly restless hands kept fluffing it up every ten seconds.

Sehun stared up at him with his fingers still poised over his phone's keyboard and gave Jongin a long surveying look from head to toe. “Stop fiddling with your hair,” he said and shrugged. “You look dashing,” he added dryly before turning around to face the screen of his phone again.

While Jongin was still contemplating whether Sehun had been sarcastic or not, his glance swiped the clock on the wall and with a start he realised that he was already running late. He spun around, grabbed his purse, phone, keys and jacket, stumbled into his boots and ran out the door, hollering “See you later, Sehun!” over his shoulder on his way out.

He had to jog to get the bus but luckily he still caught it and sat inside, looking out the window at the city over which dusk was just beginning to fall.

Half a day before, Jongin had finally decided on a place to eat: a not too fancy, but still very decent Italian restaurant. So he had called Kyungsoo's number today during lunch break in the convenience store's small concreted backyard, where he kept kicking around the dirty cigarette stubs of his older co-workers. He had blamed his accelerated heartbeat on the fact that he generally didn't like phoning anyone for the very first time.

After what seemed like half an eternity (but was actually just about four or five rings) Kyungsoo had answered the phone. Jongin had to quickly remember why he was even calling in the first place but when he suggested meeting up at 7 pm that night in front of the restaurant, Kyungsoo eagerly agreed.

Unluckily for Jongin, Sehun had overheard his short conversation with Kyungsoo, and Jongin had spent the entire following shift with the younger male, repeating over and over that it was not a date to a smirking Sehun. Just to be told on their way home that his bratty best friend had just wanted to annoy him. Jongin had just huffed.

It was really not a date for Jongin. At least not in the romantic way whatsoever. Just because he thought that Kyungsoo was admittedly kind of cute and certainly not a bad person, it didn't mean that Jongin had any real interest in the other. He just tried to appreciate Kyungsoo's good manners and his intentions regarding the refund of Jongin's iPod, by agreeing to his offer. And besides, Jongin never said no to free food.

That was what was going through his mind when he descended the bus and walked the few metres to the restaurant's entrance.

Kyungsoo was already standing there, wearing a coat and a thick, red, woollen scarf and puffing warm air over his gloveless fingers while watching the passengers on the pavement. When he spotted Jongin approaching, he lowered his hands, smiled at him and as the taller male reached his side he cheerily greeted him despite clattering teeth.

Jongin stared for half a heartbeat before he mumbled a greeting back, swiftly pressing Kyungsoo through the restaurant's doors into the warmth.

After Kyungsoo told the waiter his name, they were lead to the reserved table and handed the menu cards.
“Just order whatever you want, since it's my treat and all,” Kyungsoo said and began flipping through his own menu card. Jongin shortly contemplated ordering the most expensive dish on purpose, but when he looked up at the good-humoured male sitting in front of him, he decided against it and just ordered some pasta with cheese sauce.

As soon as the waiter had finished taking their orders and disappeared, a slightly uncomfortable silence settled between them. Jongin hurriedly wracked his brain for a possible smalltalk-topic and after a few minutes he finally blurted out, “Well, Kyungsoo-ssi, tell me about... um, your job. Where do you work?”

Kyungsoo looked surprised at first but then replied with a smile, “I work at EXO, the café where we met, as a waiter.” Jongin mentally slapped himself because figures! “I usually also bake some of the cakes and muffins we sell there. So I'm kind of a baker as well, I guess,” Kyungsoo continued, sheepishly scratching his neck. “And what about you, Jongin-ssi?”

“I work before noon and in the evenings at a convenience store down the road where I live with my flatmate and in the afternoons I teach a bunch of little kids how to dance,” Jongin said.

“Really? So that means you are a dancer yourself, right?” Kyungsoo said with an interested expression.

“Yeah, well, it's still more of my hobby since I never got paid just to dance...yet,” Jongin added. When Kyungsoo looked at him questioningly, Jongin elaborated, “I plan on joining the big music company across the street from the café where you work one day by getting accepted as an official trainee through one of their castings. And then I'm gonna be rich and famous.” He sighed. “For now I'm managing my everyday life with my two little jobs... But maybe I'm just procrastinating.” He didn't know why he added that last part, so he shut up, looking away at the seams of the table cloth covering the neighbouring table.

“At least you still have a dream and are actually working for it to be fulfilled one day,” Kyungsoo quietly said to his hands in his lap.

Jongin looked up, “What's that supposed to mean?”

But Kyungsoo was dismissed of answering because just at this moment the waiter reappeared, carefully placing the plates with their food in front of them. Kyungsoo quickly used the distraction for a change of topic and began talking about his colleagues at EXO, Luhan and Minseok, and Jongin mostly just listened to Kyungsoo talking. The shorter male really had a pleasant voice, Jongin thought, and after his initial shyness had disappeared, Kyungsoo's animated manner of speaking made it nice to listen to even the most trivial anecdotes about his workplace.

“And did you know, we also have this little stage in the back of the café,” Kyungsoo chattered. “I'm not sure if you saw it last time because you sat just at the window, but anyways, since a few months ago we hold little musical live performances there. Amateur-singers, but nonetheless very talented people. Mostly friends of ours. They can use the opportunity to sing in front of an actual audience to gain stage experience, even if it's just in small format. Sometimes, when they're in a good mood, even Luhan and Minseok go on stage.

“At first nobody came to listen to the events and we almost cancelled the shows again after only three or four of them but then luckily a girl, who apparently became a fan of one of our performers almost since the start, told her friends about EXO. Since then more and more people came to listen, so we could even expand our programme by hiring more amateur-singers and hosting shows not only once a month anymore, but once every week! You should come sometime, too, Jongin-ssi! Every Friday evening, starting around six!” Kyungsoo told Jongin excitedly, when they were starting on their desserts.

“It's really cool,” Kyungsoo went on. “With the spotlights and the microphones and the whole atmosphere, almost like a real concert! Sometimes the singers even play the accompanying guitar or keyboard themselves! And when the performance is exceptionally well, it creates this special kind of magical moment between the performer and the audience! It's really amazing!”

Jongin didn't miss how Kyungsoo's round eyes visibly lit up at the last part. Curious, he asked, “Do you sing there as well?”

But Kyungsoo hurriedly shook his head. “No! No... I don't...” he trailed off.

“Why is that? It's so obvious that you'd like to,” Jongin said, wondering.

“It's just that I... I can't sing,” Kyungsoo said, hanging his head.

“Really? I would have sworn you were good at it! Your voice is so smooth and nice,” Jongin said, but before he could overthink whether he just made it awkward by making Kyungsoo too much of a compliment, Kyungsoo explained.

“I just can't sing in front of people. I tried once when I was in high school, but got overwhelmed by stage fright, so my voice cracked right at the beginning of the song. And since then, whenever I step on a stage with people anticipating me to sing, and to sing well, I just can't help but remember that incident until I go completely rigid or even start hyperventilating. Neither a pleasant feeling for me, nor a pleasant sight for them. I would like to sing to others than my shower head, too, but I guess... I just... can't...” Kyungsoo let his head hang again and stared sadly at his bowl, musingly swishing his already half-melted vanilla ice cream around with his spoon.

“So that was what you were referring to earlier? When you said that I'd at least still work for my dream,” Jongin said softly, remembering his cut-off question from earlier.

Kyungsoo nodded hesitantly and took a spoonful of ice cream, still without meeting Jongin's gaze.

They finished their desserts in silence until Jongin suddenly exclaimed, “Well, in this case I can't let this end here today!”

“Huh?” Kyungsoo's head shot up.

“You will sing for me. We're gonna go to karaoke. You and me, now. No! No back talk! I've hadn't had my daily fix of music today and it's your fault since you broke my iPod so you have to deal with the consequences as well!” Jongin reasoned and quickly stood up, taking the step over to a startled Kyungsoo and grabbed his hand to pull him up to his feet.

“C'mon, take your coat and come with me,” Jongin said with increasing enthusiasm, only listening to Kyungsoo's embarrassed struggling (“Jongin-ssi! Please let me go, the other guests are staring and they're getting the wrong idea, Jongin-ssi, please!”) and letting go of his hand when the shorter male whined about still having to pay for their dinner. Which Jongin couldn't deny.

Jongin agreed to wait outside for Kyungsoo.

When he finally stepped out of the restaurant, Jongin smiled at him and without much further thinking, took Kyungsoo's hand again and pulled him to the next underground station.

~*~

“I won't sing,” Kyungsoo said around twenty minutes later, when he unwrapped himself from his scarf and his coat inside the small karaoke-booth that Jongin had just paid for downstairs at the till.

“Yes you will,” Jongin replied from the floor in front of the karaoke-machine. He was currently crouching and squinting underneath it, in order to find the machine's remote. “Just go ahead and choose a song from the song list-book, Kyungsoo-ssi.”

Kyungsoo didn't move apart from frowning. “Jongin-ssi, I just told you that I can't sing with an audience,” he slowly said, as if talking to a six-year-old.

“Then just ignore me,” Jongin said off-handedly while standing up again, having found what he was searching for, and placed the remote on the table. He flopped down on the couch next to Kyungsoo. “Did you choose a song?”

Kyungsoo stared at him as if he was wondering whether Jongin's brain had some kind of malfunction. “I can't just 'ignore' you. I just said that I cannot sing in front of an aud–”

“Yes, I heard you. But I'm not an 'audience', simply think of me as 'just Jongin' and sing,” Jongin cut him off.

“Why don't you sing yourself, if you love it that much?”

“Oh no, you wouldn't want to listen to this. I honestly cannot sing. I can dance and all, but I can't strike a single right note, really.”

“I will sing if you do.”

“Then nobody would sing tonight.”

“I'm fine with that.”

“Oh come on, Kyungsoo-ya. Pretty please?” Jongin whined and pouted, not realising that he subconsciously had replaced the polite suffix with the informal one.


Kyungsoo gave him a doubtful look. “I also can't strike a right note,” he said defiantly.

“I don't believe you for a second.”

Kyungsoo glared at Jongin.

“Come on, Kyungsoo. I'm really curious about your voice,” Jongin said, suddenly much quieter and with a more serious expression. “I really won't laugh at you or anything, even if your voice breaks, though I doubt it will. But still, I promise. And besides, I wasn't lying when I said I was music deprived,” Jongin added with a shrug and a smile. He relaxedly leaned back on the couch, crossing his arms behind his head.

It took just one more encouraging smile until Kyungsoo threw his hands in the air and sighed exasperatedly. “Fine! I'll sing for you. Happy now?” Jongin gave a cheer in reply. “But only if you really promise not to laugh if I do a mistake,” Kyungsoo said irritatedly but with a tinge of insecurity.

Jongin promised again and together they bent over the song list-book to choose a song. Kyungsoo leaned in a bit over Jongin's side of the book in order to better read the small letters in the dim and flickering lights. So close up to the other, Jongin felt the karaoke-booth slightly warm up.

They decided on Hyeya, a solo-ballad by SHINee's Jonghyun.

After Jongin had punched the song's code number into the remote and the song started playing, Kyungsoo stood up on slightly wobbly knees, clutching the microphone nervously in both hands. Jongin remained seated and watched the shorter male attentively.

Jongin wasn't sure what exactly he had been expecting from Kyungsoo, probably a pleasant, strong voice singing down the lyrics which appeared on the screen. But he definitely wasn't prepared for this smooth audible velvet; the powerful notes vibrating through Jongin's bones, the gentle ones softly trickling down his ears. Kyungsoo sang with poignant emotion, making Jongin feel the music in his very core.

When the song eventually ended, Jongin found himself rendered speechless.

He only realised he had been gaping when Kyungsoo cleared his throat with a sheepish smile. “How... how was it? I think somewhere after the second verse I screwed up the breathing a bit. And I had to sing the bridge more softly than it's supposed to be because my throat suddenly started itching and–” Kyungsoo began rambling again, looking at his feet to hide the embarrassed blush creeping up his cheeks.

“It was amazing,” Jongin breathed out, an admiring smile stretching on his own face.

Kyungsoo's eyes immediately lit up. “Really?”

“Yes! God, Kyungsoo, you are immensely talented! How could you hide that from everyone for so long? The whole world should be able to listen to this voice of an angel!” Jongin called excitedly while he began gesticulating wildly.

Kyungsoo instead just stared at him through slightly watering eyes, looking completely overwhelmed by all the compliments. He bit his lower lip in an attempt to hide his growing smile. “Wow... Th-thank you,” he stammered. “I can't believe you liked it so much...?”

“How could I not love it? How could anyone not love it? This was truly amazing!” Jongin reassured him, still awestruck.

Now Kyungsoo didn't even try to hold back his blinding grin anymore. And Jongin couldn't help but smiling along those heart shaped lips.

~*~

Jongin and Kyungsoo stood next to each other, wrapped up in their respective jacket and coat, on the underground station's platform.

After the karaoke bar's employee had called to announce the approaching end of the paid time period, they had taken a look on the clock above the karaoke-booth's door. Realising that they both needed to hurry home as soon as possible, since they both got work early in the morning, they had quickly left and walked to the station.

The train arrived and without a second thought, Jongin followed Kyungsoo into the carriage.

“But Jongin-ah, don't you have to take the train in the other direction?” Kyungsoo asked surprised when they sat down on a bench together.

“I also live in this direction,” Jongin answered automatically.

“But I saw you coming from the bus station in front of the restaurant earlier, and this bus came from the direction we aren't currently going to,” Kyungsoo argued, his eyebrows scrunching up confused.

“I was coming from the convenience store.”

“Didn't you say the convenience store you work at is close to your flat?”

“Who said I was coming from my flat?” Jongin said quickly. “Now shut up and let me bring you home.”

Kyungsoo's eyes widened again but he didn't say anything anymore. Though he tried to conceal it with his thick scarf, the lightly pink tips of his ears gave his soft smile away.

Jongin pretended to stare ahead out the train's window but actually used the reflection caused by the dark tunnels outside to steal furtive glances at Kyungsoo next to him. Jongin thought about how he really had to admit that Kyungsoo was cute with his cute eyes and his cute lips and his generally cute face and his cute height and his especially cute smile and his amazing voice.

But Jongin knew that just because he might have a crush on the other, it didn't mean that the shorter male was interested in him as well. Hell, Jongin didn't even know if Kyungsoo was into men at all. So Jongin wanted to avoid getting his hopes up too high. Being friends wasn't so bad either, right?

They travelled the rest of the journey in tired silence but when they arrived at the door to Kyungsoo's block of flats, the shorter male turned around to Jongin. “Thank you for bringing me home,” he said with a smile.

“No problem. Thank you, too for the da-...y,” Jongin replied, catching himself only in the very last second before the word date would have slipped. Because it wasn't a date, at least not really.

Kyungsoo looked up at him shyly. “Thank you for taking me to karaoke... and for listening.”

“Thank you for singing.”

“Thank you for making me sing.”

They both grinned at each other stupidly, but then looked down and chuckled in embarrassment.

“Well, then...” Jongin said, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “Good night, Kyungsoo-ya.”

“Good night, Jongin-ah,” Kyungsoo said softly before he turned around and walked over to the front door through the small front yard. Jongin watched him fumble with his keys and returned Kyungsoo's final wave and smile before he disappeared inside the building.

On his way back home, sitting in the underground and bus, his knees involuntarily began twitching again. It was only then, that Jongin noticed that his body hadn't fidgeted for even a second the whole time he had spent with Kyungsoo.

Jan. 21st, 2015

guitar

Sunburn

Shären 200214-190115

Title: Sunburn
Band: Exo
Pairing: SuChen (Suho/Chen)
Genre: Romance/Fluff, Miyakojima!AU
Length: Oneshot, 7704 words
Rating: PG-13
Warning: This fic might make you want to visit Okinawa real bad.
Disclaimer: This is fanfiction. I own nothing but the plot and formulations.
Summary: Reuniting on the small Okinawan island for their older siblings' wedding brings old memories, unknown feelings and sunburned skin along the way.

絡み合う糸は君と俺を結ぶ赤い糸 / The tangled thread is a red thread binding us togetherCollapse )

Dec. 23rd, 2013

guitar

Amber Flames

Shären 060813

Title: Amber Flames (竜の少年 Ryû no Shônen Dragonboy)
Band: Exo
Pairing: Kranny (Kris/Anny)
Genre: Fluff, Highschool!au
Rating: PG-13 for cursing
Length: Oneshot, 8862 words
Warnings: Hetero-ship, “original“ character. Also, English is not my native language.
Disclaimer: This is a fanfiction. I only own the plot and formulations and, in a way, Anny and the other OCs.
Summary: Finding this boy in a dark street was like finding amber in the sand on the seashore. Unexpected, but beautiful.


“Well, if you don't like the nickname, what should I call you, then?” she asked him. He hesitated for a moment, before he replied. “...Kris. You can call me Kris.”Collapse )
Tags: , , , ,

Aug. 2nd, 2013

guitar

Your Brain Gets Smart But Your Head Gets Dumb

Title: Your Brain Gets Smart But Your Head Gets Dumb
Band: Exo
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Baekhyun/Chanyeol
Genre: fluff, angst; highschool!au
Length: Oneshot, 8371 words
Warning: English isn't my native language.
Disclaimer: This is fiction where I own nothing but the plot and formulations.
Summary: Studying doesn't always make you smarter because some life lessons cannot be learned from textbooks.

“I don't know what happened but let me tell you that pride being put in the wrong places is only an unnecessary obstacle built by yourself, Baekhyun.”Collapse )

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