Hongki can’t decide if he likes the waltz or the tango more.
hongki/jonghun(/seunghyun); r; 2,018 words.
note: for graceful_mind for this years ftisland_ss. originally posted here.
This story begins on a snowy afternoon in January, when Hongki comes home, shaking snow out of his jacket, and finds Jonghun on the couch, feet propped up on the coffee table, acoustic guitar on his lap. His head is pillowed by the back of the couch and his eyes look closed as he fingers the notes of a song.
Hongki watches his fingers dance over the strings, watches the joints of his hands move beneath his skin. The light of the lamp catch on his fingers and play shadows across the wood of his guitar and the floor, the wall. Hongki’s breath catches in his throat. He toes off his shoes, throws his sweater on the back of the chair, and drops next to him on the couch.
“You should do that in the practice room,” he says, staring at his hands.
“Probably,” Jonghun gives a short little laugh, but keeps fingering the chords. Hongki reaches out a hand and lays it flat against the fretboard. The notes come out sharp and flat. Jonghun’s fingers still, frozen in time. Hongki glances down and memorizes the expression on Jonghun’s face, the slight pucker of his lips, the clarity in his eyes. The slight set to his jaw.
Hongki breathes in the scent of his cologne and breathes it back out, and gets up to take a shower. He steals Jonghun’s body wash, because he’s out, and only Seunghyun notices, with a surprised glance in his direction as they pass each other in the hallway. Hongki pays him no mind and escapes to his bedroom, Seunghyun goes to the couch.
Hongki lays with his feelings all night, until practice the next morning, where he belts them out with music. Jonghun’s song. Jonghun’s feelings. Heartbreak and hope, mingled together. Longing and loneliness. Darkness and light. Need and want. Hongki’s head spins, his voice shakes, wavers, falters. He leaves the practice room for a drink, and Jonghun doesn’t follow.
He bites his lip to keep it from spinning and plays with the yen coins in his pocket. Jonghun’s favorite drink is the peach one. His finger falters over it, goes down a row, hits the milk tea instead. It’s cold and soothing to his throat, and by the time he re-enters the room, his voice is strong enough. It doesn’t falter, or waver, or shake. It’s strong and powerful, and he can sing again.
In the morning, he walks into the bathroom while Jonghun is sleepily brushing his teeth, up and down, forward and backwards, left and right. Hongki’s heart skips a beat at the sight, drops out of the bottom of his stomach, and he realizes, with sickening realization, that he’s really, actually, in love with Jonghun.
“What are you looking at?” Jonghun asks, after spitting in the sink and rinsing. Hongki plays it cool and steps into the bathroom, leaning on the sink and running his thumb along the line of Jonghun’s jaw, feeling the rough stubble there.
“You really need to shave,” Hongki grimaces, and opens the medicine cabinet for his toothbrush.
At practice, Jonghun’s guitar volume was up so loud that Hongki thought his ears were going to burst. “Ugh, turn it down!” He shouted, stomping over to the amp and cranking it down until his ears stopped ringing. He settled it in the range of happy medium, and could actually hear the drum beat.
In the recording studio, it was Jonghun’s lyrics. “They’re awkward,” Hongki snapped, throwing the music sheets down in front of him and huffing, hands on his hips. Jonghun opened them to the part that he was having trouble with, glasses slipping down his nose and running a hand through his hair, brow creased in perplexity.
“Here, love isn’t like this,” he jabs his finger on the line. “It’s not ‘fluffy or easy or nice.’”
“Maybe not yours,” Seunghyun mutters under his breath. Hongki reaches across and punches him in the shoulder. Jaejin laughs. Jonghun scratches at the underside of his chin. Hongki’s suddenly acutely aware of the bags under his eyes and the warm cotton balls wadding up in his chest. He snatches the lyrics from his hands.
“It’s fine, whatever.” He heads back to the recording booth, ignores Jonghun’s dubious stare, and sings the lighthearted song as light as he can.
That night, he goes bowling with Kyujong and Junhyung and doesn’t come back in until late, stumbling because bowling is much more interesting when intoxicated. He leans against the wall, fingers slipping along the smooth paint until his shins hit the coffee table and he tumbles, face first, into the couch.
The couch moans in reply, grabs him around the shoulders and keeps him there. It fumbles for the chord to the lamp and snaps it on. The couch looks and smells a lot like Jonghun.
“Oh, hey,” Hongki grins up at him. Jonghun blinks at him, sleepily.
“We have to leave early tomorrow, you know.” Jonghun speaks in code. What he really means is, don’t cause trouble in the morning because you have a hangover.
“I know,” Hongki says, sitting up in his lap and holds himself there with an arm against the back of the couch, next to Jonghun’s head. Their faces end up so close that Hongki finds it easy to lean in and kiss him. It’s warm, and wet, and Jonghun’s frozen beneath him, like stone, or granite. “Wow,” he pulls back, quirking an eyebrow. “Is that really how you kiss?”
“And you’re not.” Hongki rolls his eyes, flops backwards until he’s resting against the armrest of the couch but still halfway in Jonghun’s lap. His legs flail on the other side of the couch and one foot slips off the edge. “Now that we’ve gotten the obvious out of the way,” he kisses him again, and this time, Jonghun makes a small noise in the back of his throat when Hongki grips the back of his neck and snares his fingers in his hair. This time, Jonghun slips his tongue inside of Hongki’s mouth and makes a moan slip from his lips. This time, when they pull away, Jonghun shoves him off his lap and runs away.
Hongki laughs to himself until he forces tears and he can’t breathe. He buries himself in the sweater Jonghun left on the back of the couch and falls asleep, curled up.
When he wakes up, he pretends he doesn’t remember. He pretends not to see Jonghun’s hurt look. When he buys Jonghun’s coffee at the practice studio, he accidentally gets the wrong kind.
Every story, or every good story, needs a dance scene. Sometimes, it’s a waltz, and sometimes it’s a tango. Sometimes it’s more modern, but sometimes it’s classic. Once in a while, there’ll be swing. Sometimes, it’ll be a ho down (the ring-your-partner-dosey-do kind). Hongki can’t figure out what kind of a dance their story is.
It’s a tango, the nights when Hongki comes in late. The nights when Jonghun pushes him up against the wall, kisses him slow, and sensual. The nights it’s not the alcohol that makes Hongki dizzy. These are the nights when Jonghun’s forward. When he’s a hard line between the dreams and reality. When he holds his hips in an iron grip and gets him off.
These are the nights Hongki only remembers when his hips are sore the next morning. But they’re too hot, they burn like vodka burns his throat. He forgets every time and so he’s always willing to try again.
Sometimes, Hongki isn’t drunk. Sometimes, Jonghun isn’t running away. They meet in the middle of the dance floor, get into position, one hand high in the air and fingers laced together. The other holding the small of his back. They meet in the middle and Jonghun leads. That’s the funny part - the strange part. Jonghun leads.
He’s the one, quiet presence, not running away, who’ll hand Hongki the sheet music, lean over him to explain his notes. The one with the cologne that drives Hongki mad. The one who helps Hongki with his ear-buds when they fall out. He’s the one that handles all the technical things during their shows. The one that tweaks their instruments. The leader.
Hongki breaks step when he catches himself falling into line. He steps back, slips his hand out of Jonghun’s grip, and runs away. He’s never liked dancing, anyway.
There are no repercussions. Things continue like they always have. Hongki sings, he jokes with the other members. He bullies Seunghyun, he drinks with Junhyung. He hangs out with Jungmo. Whatever Jonghun does, he doesn’t want to know. He doesn’t want to see the lonely tweets that are erased on twitter so conveniently by the time he looks at it again. He doesn’t see the cryptic lyrics or hear the haunting melodies. He tiptoes around Jonghun when he falls asleep on the couch. He moves on, Jonghun doesn’t.
Or that’s what he thinks, because this dance, this dosey-do they do - Hongki comes back around after spinning with a few other people for a few months. After flirting with girls and drinking with guys and sometimes visa versa, he falls back into the dorm, into Jonghun’s arms.
He just doesn’t expect Jonghun to bow out of the dance. Jonghun’s always liked dancing. Hongki’s the one that hates the dance. Not Jonghun.
“Where are you going?” He asks, narrowing his eyes at Jonghun and Seunghyun in the doorway.
“Out,” Jonghun shrugs his coat onto his shoulders and grabs his car keys. Seunghyun beams at him before he shuts the door on him. Hongki doesn’t miss the way his fingers slip into Jonghun’s back pocket to keep him there.
And this is more or less how it ends. The story. The dance, the vignette of this part of their lives. Hongki plays with a lighter and throws it out the window. He wakes up, he finds someone, he moves on, when they dance together, he steps on their toes or they pull too hard. No one is perfect because no one is Jonghun.
Nothing changes, but everything changes. He buys everyone drinks from the vending machine but Seunghyun’s already bought Jonghun one. He goes bowling, but Jonghun’s too busy to come along. He goes drinking, Jonghun isn’t there when he comes home. Jonghun’s giggling in the room with Seunghyun, because he’s one of those guys that giggles - like a girl. Hongki scoffs against the door, makes himself ramyun and falls asleep against the counter before it’s done.
There’s a blackhole in his chest and it’s dragging everything inside of him with it, his heart, his lungs, his stomach. He waits for it to consume him completely, but then Jonghun hands him another song, made by him but not about him.
He over sings it in the recording booth ten times before Jonghun comes in and offers him advice, tapping against the paper, jotting notes. “This isn’t working,” Hongki sighs, tugging at his hair in frustration.
Jonghun’s hand lightly touches his back. “You’ll get it, Hongki, you always do.” He smiles at him. Hongki finally gets it the next try, nuances perfect. Seunghyun gives him a high five on the other side of the doors. Minhwan pats him on the back. Jaejin laughs, cocky.
“I got it the first try,” Hongki tugs on his bleached hair and smacks Jonghun on the back.
“It’s a good song,” he nods at him. “Really, really perfect.”
“Thanks,” Jonghun ducks his head, modest. Hongki feels a loosening in his chest. It’s unexplainable, but the black hole disappears. He doesn’t feel the tug of regret when Jonghun’s lips quirk into a smile, when he taps him on the shoulder. “Come on, lets go eat.”
“If you pay,” Hongki starts, but then he changes his mind. “I’ll buy,” he loops his arm around Jonghun’s shoulders and snags Seunghyun along too. Minhwan and Jaejin follow, laughing, loud. Hongki feels warm, and he’s not sure what it is, but this is more or less, how it ends, on a warm day at the end of March.