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A drop of sweat caught a flash of pulsating light as it trembled

By Lawrence Barnes,2014-04-27 23:31
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A drop of sweat caught a flash of pulsating light as it trembled

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So Much Mine

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    One

    A drop of sweat caught a flash of pulsating light as it trembled on the young Korean‟s curved jaw. The driving thump of a bass line vibrated the floor beneath his feet, shuddering the catwalk he‟d shimmied onto. Ripples of shadow marbled the

    laminated sign hanging from the velvet rope that barred the entrance to the walk, warning men that the steel grating was strictly for the female dancers. Jaejoong ignored the sign, curving his lithe body around the wide bouncer, tossing off a charming smile. The man‟s broad hand slipped under the rise of Jae‟s thighs, cupping at the warmth of the young man‟s ass for a brief moment before helping Jaejoong over the velvet rope.

Jae let the press of fingers slide along the inseam of his pants, ignoring the rise of sick in the back of his mouth. The lemon

    soju he‟d tossed back earlier still burned his tender throat, nearly raw from the hours he‟d spent practicing. Its potent sting

    did little to dull the ache beneath his breast bone, a curl of tender pain nothing seemed to ease. The faces around him swam into a paisley sea of pale adoration and sparkling fabrics. Hip hop beat out of the club‟s overhead speakers, drowning out any chance of Jae overhearing the murmur of voices around him. Throwing his face back, he inhaled deeply, drawing into his lungs what little cold air the vents were pushing out.

    Nothing mattered in the space of that breath, the music pounding through him, an abusive lover he‟d found lurking in the dark corners of a dance club. Jae‟s body was wound tight, taut muscles bunching beneath his thin white shirt, the cloth soaked transparent from his sweat. The primal drumbeat behind the music called to his blood, his lean body curving onto itself as he hooded his dark eyes, driving the crowd around him further back into the haze of alcohol and need that crawled beneath his skin.

    The woman dancing next to him edged closer, her hips twitching seductively as she circled around Jae‟s writhing body. Her hands were hot on his shoulders when she finally worked her way in, blood-red fingernails vibrant on Jae‟s pale skin. He

    twisted, face closed off as she tried again. Jaejoong debated for a moment, at war with the anguish in his heart and the deaden weight in his belly. It would be easy to fall into her moist heat, lost in the velvet of a woman‟s touch but the

    dancer‟s musky scent left him cold.. a flatness he could taste on the back of his tongue, mingled in with the fumes of the potent soju.

    His legs were beginning to ache, a familiar strain in his knee. Jae glanced down at the girl, drawn back in horror at the lust in her face, a scarlet painted mouth whispering his name in a soundless moan. The music shifted, something deeper in emotion rising from the depths of someone else‟s lost love.

    He caught the sob before it escaped from his full mouth, sharp white teeth digging into his lower lip. Jae swore that he wouldn‟t cry… that he wouldn‟t let the need he couldn‟t chase away with alcohol or exhaustion. The skin on his belly tingled, remembering Yunho‟s touch. Their practice session devolved into a shouting match when that touch… that single skimming of fingertips over the low-rise of Jae‟s jeans brought him to a standstill.

    Jaejoong‟s hands found that same spot, curling over the flesh and closing his eyes. Yunho‟s sharp words echoed, lost in a loop until all Jae could hear was the admonishment. Each drop of sound drowned out the world, pushing the club‟s ear-

    splitting raucous to the background. His overheated body responding to Yunho‟s touch feuded with the heart-sickening

    spitting disgust the group‟s leader shouted at him when he stumbled. Each time he failed, Yunho‟s eyes hardened and Jae drove himself further into the depths of his misery.

    Club NB staff had grown used to the singer sliding past the main door, a hooded sweatshirt pulled down over his too-pretty face. The bouncers had long waived the 15,000 won cover charge, whispering to the attractive woman that the lead singer of TVfxQ often fell into a dancing trance on the catwalks, stalking free of the steel panels with a thirst for alcohol. They 4

    giggled behind raised hands when he smiled at them, a bright plastic beacon of reassurance when he motioned to the pourers that his shot glass was empty.

    A hand reached through the haze, familiar and intimate. The females-only rule, broken only by the lithe, heartbroken male beauty who sought solace in the music, had been violated by another. Standing at the crux of two panels, Yunho stood against the light, a corona of red flaring behind him. The stage lights shifted, dousing black then rising into yellow bands rippling over the Korean man‟s coldly stern face.

    Fingers gripped tight on Jae‟s upper arm, digging deep into the tender flesh. With a yank, Yunho dragged at the young singer, ignoring the feminine yelps of outrage when he muscled through the catwalk two-deep in women. Stronger of the two, Yunho felt Jaejoong‟s initial resistance, pulling harder as the other singer dug his heels into the ridge of the catwalk‟s

    partitions.

    “I‟ve had enough of this, Kim Jaejoong.” Yunho kept walking, Jae‟s struggles barely noticeable in his ire. “Don‟t fight me, Jaejoong. We‟re going home.”

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    Two

    Jaejoong shook at the chill in the night air, a frost working across his battered soul. His arm had gone numb long before they reached the back door of Club NB, the smirking grin of one of the dance club‟s bouncers burning a hole between his shoulder blades. Shame blushed Jae‟s face, drenching his fairness in a hot rose, petals scorched with anger and fear. Yunho‟s

    cold face rivaled Seoul‟s winter breeze, glassy still and frozen over with menace.

    The leader‟s dark brown eyes held no warmth, marble passion hardened against Jae‟s soft cries of protest as he stumbled over the low steps leading to the alleyway behind the building. Yunho released the singer when his feet tangled, sending him sprawled onto the rough stone bricks lining the tight space between the club and a nearby restaurant. The sounds of the club muted, the heavy steel back door slammed behind them, shutting Jae from the solace he‟d meant to find in its

    pulsating depths.

    A snippet of glass, rounded edges worn smooth from rolling truck tires, dug into Jae‟s hand, working into the crease of his palm. Run-off from the gutters held the stink of the sky, a sewerage of human waste and cast off food. Staring down into a puddle of dirty water, Jae stared hard into the face he found reflected there, a phantom of a young man barely illuminated by the ambient street lights.

    “Don‟t say anything.” A voice whispered in his ear, a fragment of his heart that had broken off and lodged itself into the crook of his neck. It had drifted there when Yunho rested his chin on Jaejoong‟s shoulder, the young singer holding his breath tight when the photographer instructed the band leader to pull in tighter. Another touch cemented the emotional stile on Jae‟s body, a marker of regret placed when the air cooled away Yunho‟s warmth when he stepped away. His chest ached now, frozen more from Yunho‟s coldness than the air he fought to drag into his tortured lungs.

    The face mocked him with its imperfection, a nose too wide for his liking… a mouth that ran full across a thin face. The artfully draped shock of hair he‟d started off with now lay as a tangled mess across his cheekbones, matching the disheveled

    confusion in Jaejoong‟s mind. His words were muddied, more so than the water that marred his hoodie, the filth slowly creeping into the fabric, stiffening the cold against his bruised arms.

    Yunho‟s fingers left a stain on Jae‟s skin, the bitter soreness of bruises slowly forming, invisible beneath the thick fleece. Another shudder racked Jae‟s body, creasing his spine as he struggled to regain his footing, refusing to give Yunho the satisfaction of seeing him as fractured and ripped apart as he felt. Still they felt…welcome. The aching touch of the other

    man‟s hands on his arms were… like home tucked into a small sheltered crest. He wanted to rub Yunho‟s marks into his bones, pushing them down until they were etched into his marrow, wanting them to disappear only when they burned his body at his death.

    There were so many words Jaejoong wanted to say… things to shout and spit into the other man‟s face but as Jae tilted his chin up, his heart failed him, whispering nothing other than reminders of the laughter he sometimes shared and the sibilant touch of fingers on his thigh or chest. There was nothing of that playfulness in Yunho now, just a rigid statue of control, large fists tight against his thighs as he fought not to strike out at the young man struggling to stand in front of him.

    “What the hell do you think you‟re doing?” The slap of words didn‟t come as a surprise… Jaejoong had been expecting them. Nor was he shocked at the virulence in the broken heated anger barely held back in Yunho‟s shuttered voice. Jae expected

    this, if not more. They‟d been dancing around a fire too closely, one stoked by every step the singer took away from the rest

    of the band in the hopes of distancing himself from his attraction to Yunho.

    A nearby dumpster, its steel body battered with dents from garbage trucks traversing the narrow alleyway, provided Jaejoong some support, the soju finally creeping into the front of his throat. The sour of lemon gave him warning followed 6

    by the bile of his stomach rebelling against the trauma of emotion and too much alcohol. Swallowing, Jae turned, face hidden from Yunho‟s view as he fought to regain some composure before answering.

“What do you …?” The smoothness of Jae‟s voice was shattered as his belly finally gave a final push, upending itself into the

    puddles at his feet. Exhaustion claimed his balance and he reached out, trying to grab at anything before he tumbled into his own vomit. The dryness of his heaves were followed by the purge of soju, the clench of his stomach muscles tightening the skin around his ribs.

    The night swam around Jae, a sparkle of nothingness amid the lights. Yunho stood quiet and judgmental as the singer wiped at his full mouth, the sourness of his sick barely a whiff of bitter in the stench of the alleyway. Reaching out, the band leader grabbed at the other, wrenching him nearly off his feet. Twisting Jae around, Yunho slammed the smaller man into the building‟s back wall, a burst of flaking stucco showering Jae‟s dark hair.

    “I am sick of you doing this to yourself.” Yunho hissed, his fingers digging into Jae‟s forearms. They struggled for a moment, a cataclysmic battle of wills weakened by Jae‟s ebbing resolve at Yunho‟s nearness. All Jae could find in his throat was his own disgust and the trembling threat of his body finally giving way beneath him.

    Yunho pulled the other man up, slamming him up against the wall for a brief moment then shaking him hard. A solid meaty thunk echoed between them when Jae‟s head struck the siding, grains of white sand and cement trapped in his hair.

    Stars momentarily danced a seductive light show for the singer, then faded back into the cold of Yunho‟s angry face. All hint of discipline had been lost in that moment, a furious storm raged in the leader‟s eyes, his mouth twisted beyond nearly

    all recognition as he quietly leaned in.

    “Do you have any idea of how you affect the rest of us? Any at all?” Yunho‟s breath smelled sweet, plum jam scented with a hint of vanilla. Amid the tragedy of his life falling around him, Jae nearly giggled at the inanity of what his mind noticed amid the wreckage. The laughter was chased with fear as more bruises were made, Yunho‟s hands gripping tighter and the space between them became nearly nothing.

    The brush of Yunho‟s thighs on his hips brought madness, the thin fabric of Jae‟s shirt made hot from the other man‟s body. Sweat chilled from the night air became pearled salt, rolling into tiny grains in the crease of Jae‟s torn jeans. The air seared,

    trapped between the heavy jacket Yunho had worn to ward off the winter. Jae sucked in the welcome warmth, his body shivering from need more than the cold. Pressed up against the cold wall, the length of Yunho‟s chest and legs became a beacon, a light shimmering to capture the desirous moth Jae kept in his heart.

    “If you can‟t think of yourself…think of the others… think of me!” The words kept coming, a wave of temper pounding at Jae with rapid fists. “Everything you do affects us. Every time there are whispers of you stumbling drunk from a club or

    draped over some table letting strange hands roam over your body… you affect how we‟re seen!”

    “They call us, you know…the papers and magazines. They ask us when we‟re in interviews if the stories about you are true.” The young man continued, mindless of the anguish captured in Jae‟s face. “Every time I have to laugh off about how you spend hours out, flirting with others and drinking. How people talk behind our backs about your looseness and I have to tell them that it‟s not true, that you‟re just having a good time but always come home safe to us.”

    “Then tonight when I am finally sick of wondering how many times I can lie for you, I find you here where you shouldn‟t be, lost in yourself. I see the drunk on you and … people who touching you and leaving the stink of their sex on your skin.” Yunho shook him again, a violent aftershock rattling Jae‟s teeth.

“I didn‟t…”

“You didn‟t what?” Yunho spat back, his face pressed nearly into a mockery of a kiss with the young man. Jae‟s gaze faltered,

    finding the rise of Yunho‟s wrists rather than the other man‟s eyes. “Look at me, Jaejoong! You didn‟t what? Think? You

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    didn‟t think that how you act would affect how the world sees the rest of us? That you damage our reputation with your selfishness and your self-absorption?”

“I…” His words were lost, carried off by the wind that coursed into the alleyway.

    “I can‟t stand any more of this. You stumble during the easiest of routines. Everything that you fail at hangs on me as the leader.” Yunho hissed, his jaw clenched. “Do you think that makes it easy for me? When the others joke about you being my favourite…what they‟re really saying is; Yunho, why don‟t you hound Jaejoong like you do us? Why aren‟t you being as hard on him as you are when we make a mistake? They all work hard to strengthen what they are weakest in but you…

    you don‟t even put your heart into something that you should be thankful for…something you say you begged for.”

Jae‟s eyes glittered with pain, tears running the edge of razors along his long lashes. The heaviness in his chest beat slowly, a

    threatening ache leaving him breathless and wanting. Clearing his throat, his body shook with the effort of speaking, his mind screaming with denial as his soul cracked open, words frothing into a bubbling cascade of want.

    The whisper was so soft, a feather caught in the rising thermal of Yunho‟s anger. The young Korean singer could barely speak, lost in the misery of his pain. Looking up, Jae met Yunho‟s strong gaze with a wavering glance before speaking again.

“I put my heart into you. There is no one else I would beg more for.”

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    Three

    Specks of snow flurried on a gust of wind, dusting the length of Yunho‟s nose, tangling minute shards of ice in the curve of his lashes. Blinking furiously, the young man blew impatiently at the water clouding his sight, the evening fracturing into spans of icy crystals and a light-washed night sky. Far off in the distance, a rumble of traffic poured through Seoul‟s streets, streams of people passing by the end of the alleyway, uncaring of the drama unfolding in the darkened niche of the club‟s back door stoop.

    “Jaejoong…” Yunho‟s pleas curled softly in the shell of the singer‟s ears, unheard in the daze he‟d drunk himself into. More than his body ached, a strange thread of worry wound itself around his chest, tugging at a crack in his heart…something Yunho wanted no part of. Jae‟s broken-doll body seemed heavier than it should be, weighed down perhaps with the anger

    Yunho flung at him with uncaring ease. “What birds? What are you talking about? I don‟t understand what you‟re saying.”

    “Feel sick.” Jae heaved again, a sickened, rigid convulsion that shocked Yunho. Another bramble of words followed, Jae‟s provincial dialect losing their meaning to the wind. Staring up with wide eyes, Jae waved Yunho off, a look of disgust and something else darkening the young man‟s beauty. Jaejoong wavered again and finally gave into the slumber his body demanded, lost in the ache of his thoughts.

    Yunho‟s guts churned with regret and shame at the sight of the other‟s fallen body, the leader‟s hands burrowing under Jae‟s slender waist in a vain attempt to lift him free of the filth and water. Jaejoong felt too warm for Yunho‟s liking and the singer‟s mumbled Korean … a bare feathery whisper under his breath …made no sense. Jae‟s thickened Chungcheong accent slurred his words… a mumble of scented heat and pain poking at the tender rawness in Yunho‟s thoughts.

    The rattle of dance music and voices rose as the back door opened, dim lights from the rear passage of the club softly illuminating Jae‟s ashen face. Glancing up, Yunho barely had time to cover his friend‟s body with his own, a trio of argumentative young men being ousted into the street by one of the club‟s hefty bouncers threatened to overrun them,

    heavy boots stamping too close to Yunho‟s thighs. The man stood in the door frame, a silhouette of menace and shadow, the gleam of light behind him reflecting off his massive, shorn head. Leaning over, the bouncer stared down at the bundle of flesh and bone laying huddled at the end of the steps, narrowed eyes widening in surprise.

    “Hyung..” Yunho wasn‟t sure who‟d spoken first, the man blocking all of the light or himself. All he could feel was the fear rising from the base of his neck, working through the skin on his scalp and shivering back down his arms. Jaejoong‟s weight dragged at his arms, their bodies nearly matched in density despite the fragility of the other‟s appearance.

“I need … to call…someone, yes?” Yunho started, glancing down at Jae‟s slack form, his full mouth working a soft protest

    when the band leader tried to straighten him. The responsibility of being Dong Bang Shin Ki‟s leader once more hung on him. He‟d stood angry and violent as Jae fell in on himself. His innards twisted again, tightening until he could feel his

    abdomen muscles clench in protest.

    “He‟s just drunk. Too much soju.” The bouncer leaned forward, his palm nearly wide enough to cover Yunho‟s whole face. Reaching under Jae‟s torso, the man lifted the singer easily, shoulders bunching with the effort. He knew the club‟s owner wouldn‟t take kindly to finding one of his better patrons passed out in the alleyway… his job called for brute strength and discretion. Now was definitely time for discretion. “Come. We‟ll call you a cab…”

    “I brought a car.” Yunho gathered himself up, rising to his feet and worried at his upper lip, teeth caught in thought. “Are you sure? I can get him to a doctor.”

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