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08 March 2011 @ 10:28 am
Walkie Talkie  
Title: Walkie Talkie
Pairing: Jonghyun/Taemin
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Jonghyun's new neighbor is a sickly boy that can't leave his house. In order to start a friendship with him, Jonghyun buys a set of walkie talkies, and they get into the habit of talking to each other all the time, every day. But Taemin is really sick, and Jonghyun is really attached; he isn't prepared to let Taemin slip out of his fingers when he doesn't even really have a grip on him, in the first place.

--

When the new family moved in next door, Jonghyun didn’t know they had a son. He had seen the young, happy couple move in, settle in, his mother had even brought over her special recipe yellow cake for them, and he really thought nothing was out of the ordinary.

Two weeks after they moved in, though, Jonghyun had been passing by his bedroom window and when his head turned to watch a bird swoop out of a tree, he saw him.

The kid looked younger than Jonghyun, with round cheeks and bright eyes, his bony elbows resting on the sill of his open window as he too watched the bird swoop. His hair was a soft blond color, dyed obviously, and his smile was sweeter than candy as the bird managed to pluck a worm from the soft spring ground.

Jonghyun’s breath had been stolen away.

--

The next day, Jonghyun saw the kid again, and wasted no time in sliding up his window and calling out. The distance between their houses was maybe twenty feet and they were both on the second story, so he didn’t have to shout particularly loud to get his attention.

The boy didn’t even really seem surprised, his attention drawn from the tree.

“Hey,” Jonghyun said, dragging his computer chair over by his sill. “I’m Jonghyun.”

The boy smiled softly and shifted; Jonghyun saw a flash of a pale, skinny leg and deduced that the blond’s bed was underneath his window.

“Hello,” his voice was sugary syrup, “I’m Taemin.”

“Why don’t you ever leave the house?” Jonghyun asked, ruffling his dark hair before scratching the side of his nose idly, trying not to seem terribly curious.

Taemin shrugged, “Why do you leave the house?”

Jonghyun frowned, “School. Friends.”

“I don’t go to school,” Taemin said, and it shouldn’t be possible to smile like he was. “And I don’t have any friends.”

Feeling his gut sink a bit, Jonghyun cleared his throat and tried to ignore his achy heart.

“Well, Taemin,” Jonghyun stood up and stretched, before sending the boy a wink. “I’ll be your friend.”

That smile brightened to a hundred watts and Jonghyun bid Taemin good bye before shutting his window and heading downstairs for dinner.

--

As days passed, Taemin and Jonghyun made it routine to talk to each other each night before bed. Spring was warm as it caressed their cheeks and tousled their hair, each of them smiling and laughing as they relayed their days; Jonghyun’s full of easy girls and rude teachers, Taemin’s full of stories from when he used to go to school.

After about three weeks, Jonghyun’s voice cracked during choir practice. It was a bit straining, to be talking loudly in order to let his voice carry over to Taemin’s window; that day after school the senior went to the local electronics store and purchased a pair of walkie talkies.

He put one in a small box, blue with a white ribbon, wrote Taemin’s name on it and left it on the boy’s door step. That night while he was doing homework, he heard the crackle of his walkie talkie from inside his pocket and grinned, pulling it out and turning it on.

“My choir teacher will kill me if my voice cracks at the concert tomorrow,” he explained, glancing out his window to see Taemin lounging in the window sill anyway, catching the last warm rays of sunshine before the sun disappeared behind the horizon.

“That’s fine,” Taemin said, his sweet voice sounding even better now that he wasn’t yelling. “This feels more personal.”

Jonghyun chuckled, tapping his pen on his notebook paper. Silence fell over them as he finished doing his math problems, and as soon as he was done he reclined in his chair, bringing the walkie talkie to his mouth and speaking softly so he didn’t alarm Taemin, who looked like he was slumbering lightly on the sill with his cheek pillowed on his folded arms.

“Hey…”

He saw Taemin’s eyes open, and knew he was listening.

“Do you want to come to my concert tomorrow? Get out of the house for an hour?”

It was a bold request; Taemin never mentioned leaving the house, Jonghyun never saw Taemin leave the house and it was just sort of an unspoken thing that Taemin stayed isolated.

The sad smile that stretched over plump lips was enough of an answer for Jonghyun, but Taemin vocalized anyway.

“I’m sorry, hyung,” he said. “I have something I need to do tomorrow.”

Jonghyun offered the easiest smile he could, even though his brain was wondering just what Taemin had to do tomorrow.

“I’ll bring home a recording,” he decided on instead, standing up and shutting his window and curtains, getting undressed for bed. “Goodnight, Taemin.”

“Sleep well, hyung.”

--

The next night at Jonghyun’s concert, from his spot with the tenors on the bottom riser, he found his parents in the crowd and gave a small smile. Next to his parents were some familiar faces, he couldn’t figure out where he knew them from, but when his eyes wandered further he saw Taemin sitting in a seat, looking smaller than ever in a hoodie and a beanie on his head.

Jonghyun’s heart skipped a beat and his grin multiplied by a hundred, and Taemin grinned back as he gave a small wave.

The concert went off without a hitch; Jonghyun’s voice had been rested and his solo was executed perfectly, his eyes occasionally drifting from the director to Taemin, watching the boy’s features light up in awe and excitement with every song. When the last note was sung the curtains were drawn and Jonghyun took off his robes, hanging them up on the rack and smoothing out his button-down shirt before heading out to meet the attendees.

Taemin and his parents had left, but Jonghyun could still feel his heart soaring.

--

That night Taemin wasn’t in his window sill. Jonghyun sat at his, elbows chafing on the chipping paint of the wood, chin in his hands as he called out softly for Taemin every five minutes with his walkie talkie. Figuring that Taemin was either asleep or not home, Jonghyun pushed away from his window and frowned softly, taking his shirt off and climbing onto his bed.

Just as he was lying down, his walkie talkie crackled.

“Hyung?”

Taemin’s voice was quiet, as if he was unsure if he was disturbing Jonghyun. Jonghyun immediately replied, asking where Taemin had been, to which the younger offered a small giggle, followed by a cough.

“I had to see the doctor,” the boy explained. Jonghyun frowned. “I’m glad I got to see your concert tonight.”

His frown twitched a bit and he couldn’t help but smile, “Thank you for coming.”

They bid goodnight and Jonghyun still felt a bit uneasy, but he let it pass as exhaustion from the day took over and carried him away.

--

Well into summer the two boys talked to each other whenever they could, whether it was good morning greetings or good night farewells, whenever Jonghyun was home and doing something he usually had the walkie talkie close to his face. His mom thought it was cute, sweet that he was looking out for Taemin like that, accepting him and being his friend and Jonghyun shrugged, saying that he hoped someone would do the same for him.

In Jonghyun’s mind, no kid should have to suffer with being trapped at home all of the time. Jonghyun was constantly out with friends, doing some sort of school activity, keeping himself occupied. It was almost like Taemin wasn’t allowed to leave his house, for whatever reason, and Jonghyun hated that. But it wasn’t like he could just waltz up to Mr. and Mrs. Lee and give them a piece of his mind while simultaneously asking if Taemin could come outside to play.

Just once, though…

Jonghyun wanted to know what it was like to run his fingers through those blond locks.

--

“Tomorrow is my birthday,” Taemin said, as he worked on folding a paper crane on his sill.

Jonghyun looked up from his guitar, stopping his strumming. “Really?”

Taemin chuckled softly and nodded, glancing up briefly to meet Jonghyun’s eyes.

“How old will you be?” Jonghyun thought it was a bit dumb to ask Taemin’s age now of all times, considering they’d been talking for over six months.

“Fifteen.”

Jonghyun blinked, and then almost punched himself in the jaw. Fifteen!? Jonghyun had just turned eighteen a few months ago, no wonder Taemin’s parents didn’t want them hanging around together. That was just bad news waiting to happen.

“Hyung?”

Shaking his head, Jonghyun let out a breath and gave a small smile, “I thought you were older…”

Taemin shrugged and laughed, “Most people think I’m younger.”

Jonghyun thought about it, and one look at Taemin’s innocent features and tiny body made him agree.

“Does it bother you?” Taemin asked softly, finishing his paper crane and holding it in his palm, looking it over.

Did it bother him?

Licking his lips, Jonghyun’s thumb tapped on his D string a few times in thought, before he let out a breath and shook his head, smiling.

“No, Taemin. Not at all.”

--

Jonghyun came home from hanging out at a friend’s house, a song fresh in his mind that he had finally composed and managed to record. He was excited – he wanted to share with Taemin, he wanted to play a song for the boy and as he sat down at his window sill and picked up his walkie talkie, his excited motions slowed to a halt as he took in the scene unfolding in Taemin’s bedroom.

A man in a white coat, most likely a doctor, was bending over Taemin’s bed. There was an IV stand next to Taemin’s bed and he saw a flash of Taemin’s leg lifting for the doctor to check reflexes, Mr. and Mrs. Lee hovering in the door way and looking worried.

Jonghyun’s finger froze, hovering over the ‘talk’ button as he watched the doctor press a few buttons on some complicated looking machine that was next to the IV drip. He could hear the beep of the heart monitor all the way in his bedroom and his own heart nearly stopped, as the doctor shook his head and gave a rather grim look towards Taemin’s parents.

After the doctor left, Jonghyun stayed slumped in his window sill, the walkie talkie hanging limply in his hand as he watched the green line of Taemin’s heart spike and jump and beep.

--

Days went by like this, Jonghyun waking up from fitful sleep and then hanging out in his window sill, watching Taemin sleep away on his bed. The blond had shifted enough for Jonghyun to see the mask covering his pretty features and Jonghyun’s heart clenched every time he heard the beep of the monitor, feeling masochistic in the fact that he couldn’t tear himself away.

He wanted Taemin to wake up.

He wanted to be there when Taemin woke up.

--

Weeks went by and Taemin still hadn’t stirred from his slumber. Jonghyun’s parents hounded him for staying holed up in his room all of the time and demanded he get a job for the summer to help out with the bills that were slowly starting to accumulate. He got a gig working in the local music shop where he had been a loyal customer, and it just so happened that the manager happened to have a bit of a crush on him.

It worked well as a distraction and it lifted his depression, and within days he was smiling and laughing again. But at night when he went to bed and at morning when he woke up, he was still looking over at Taemin’s window to see if there was any change.

There wasn’t.

--

He didn’t know what time it was when his walkie talkie crackled, but his body responded automatically and picked up the device from under his pillow, pressing the button as he croaked out a ‘hello’, his mind still fogged with sleep.

“Hyung,” an equally weak voice responded, and Jonghyun sat up immediately, kicking the covers off of him and nearly tripping over his guitar as he sprang over to the window, ripping the curtains aside and hefting it up to look into Taemin’s room.

Taemin was sitting up, the only thing illuminating his face the pale light of the moon as Jonghyun was greeted with the smile he’d missed for over a month.

“Good morning,” Taemin greeted, his voice weak from no use, but cheery as ever.

Jonghyun felt his heart fluttering in relief as a goofy smile spread over his face and he pressed his forehead to the glass of his window pane, letting out a sound between a laugh and a sob.

“Good morning.”

He never thought he’d be able to say that to Taemin again.

--

Over the days Taemin grew stronger and stronger, and soon the machines were brought out of his room and he was walking with the help of a cane, managing few trips to the bathroom or to get a glass of water. Jonghyun wanted to quit his job just so he could stay home and watch over Taemin but he knew that wasn’t reasonable at all, so he suffered through work (even though he normally loved his job) in order to return home and sing Taemin songs until the blond fell asleep.

And yet Jonghyun never asked Taemin exactly what happened; why was he sick, what was he sick with. He didn’t want to pry into the boy’s business and Taemin never brought it up himself, so Jonghyun assumed it just wasn’t an option of conversation. Which was alright… most days.

On the days where Taemin couldn’t get out of bed and had to use his arms to pull himself up onto the window sill, on the days where he had to ring a bell to get his parents to bring him water or help him to the bathroom, those were the days Jonghyun wanted to ask Taemin what was wrong with him and, more importantly, how he could help.

But he bit his tongue and watched on helplessly as Taemin suffered through his battle, Jonghyun useless in his house, in his bedroom, on his window sill.

--

“What are you doing?” Taemin asked, as Jonghyun strung together a NERF archery set.

Jonghyun grunted in response. Taemin giggled, and asked again.

“Helping you,” Jonghyun finally replied, as he finished setting up the child’s toy and grinned in self satisfaction.

Taemin tilted his head and folded his arms on the window sill, a small smile teasing his lips.

Jonghyun had made sure to get the heavy-duty suction cups on the end of his darts, testing one against the pane of his window. When it wouldn’t come off from the force of Jonghyun’s tugs and needed to be removed with a paperclip and some water, he was satisfied.

He tied a durable fishing line to the end of the dart, making sure to knot it expertly before he raised the crossbow and aimed at Taemin’s window sill. The blond sat up, slightly alarmed, and when Jonghyun fired the shot Taemin squeaked and ducked, the ‘pling’ of the dart sticking to the glass of Taemin’s open window echoing between their houses.

Letting out a soft victory whoop, Jonghyun worked on tying the end of the fishing lure to a dart he stuck to his own window, attached to a simple pulley system that hung on the side of the house. Taemin peeked out of his window and flicked the dart, giggling at the noise it made before he asked Jonghyun what he was doing.

“Hold on,” Jonghyun said, holding up a finger before slipping out of his room and grabbing a baggy from the kitchen along with one of the cupcakes his mother baked the previous day, sealing it up nicely so the frosting didn’t ruin before he moved back upstairs, attaching it to a small fishing hook on the string.

Taemin’s smile brightened, “Hyung!”

“Hungry?” the older boy asked, voice full of smug satisfaction as he worked the pulley system to transfer the cupcake, mid-air, over to Taemin’s window sill.

The boy laughed and took the cupcake, opening up the baggy and inhaling before swiping some of the frosting off with his finger, laughing and licking it off.

“Your mom bakes delicious treats,” Taemin complimented, once he had devoured the snack.

Jonghyun huffed, “Who said she made it?”

Taemin rolled his eyes, “Don’t try to pass this off as yours, hyung.” He stuck out his tongue, before licking his lips clean.

Jonghyun shrugged and chuckled, “Can’t blame me for trying.”

--

When fall came around, Jonghyun decided that he wasn’t going to continue his education. He dropped out of high school, and while his parents were initially surprised and angry, they soon relented when Jonghyun explained they needed help with bills more than he needed an education. They accepted his help and he got his diploma the quick and easy way, paying the city to take the tests and pass them, and he was home-free to work forty hours a week in order to help his parents out.

Working so much hindered time spent with Taemin, but the boy was still awake even when Jonghyun came home late, smiling and asking how his day went, before saying goodnight and falling asleep, only to wake up and wish Jonghyun gentle good morning’s and have a great day’s.

Jonghyun eventually saved up enough to buy his own car and still manage to help pay bills, but after another six months and spring rolled around again, his parents dropped a bombshell.

“We can’t move!” Jonghyun shook his head, standing in the middle of the kitchen with his parents.

“Jonghyun, honey, this house is too expensive and we’ve already found another affordable place on the other side of town,” his mother explained, looking rather upset herself.

His father was pretty emotionless, which just enraged Jonghyun.

“How can you not afford this house when I give you nearly the entirety of my paycheck? What is so God damn expensive that we have to move to the other side of town!”

“Honey, please don’t be upset, this will be better for all of us,” his mother tried again, and Jonghyun took a step back, shaking his head some more.

“This is ridiculous, I don’t want-”

“You don’t want to leave that boy?” his father finally spoke up, his voice quiet but venom laced in his words.

Jonghyun tensed.

“I won’t have some boy swaying your adult responsibilities,” his father said, looking over at Jonghyun with stern, cold eyes. “An underage one, nonetheless.” The disgust in his voice was evident without him actually saying anything.

Jonghyun’s mother deflated. “Jonghyun…”

“Are you seriously holding that against me?” Jonghyun asked, his voice low and his chin tucked to his chest, eyes down on the floor as he tried to contain the anger that was steadily rising within him. “My friendship with the sick kid next door?”

“While you two are up late at night exchanging sweet nothings your mother and I are trying to decide how to pay the next bill,” his father snapped.

Jonghyun couldn’t say anything, too shocked to hear these things coming from his dad’s mouth. His mother stayed silent, and Jonghyun brought his head up, his eyes brimming with unshed tears, torn between wanting to punch his father and shaking his mother violently.

He walked away, instead.

--

“Taemin…”

That night, Jonghyun sat on the edge of his bed, holding the walkie talkie loosely.

“Yeah?” Taemin replied almost immediately, his voice sweet as ever.

“How are you feeling today?” Jonghyun asked, trying to force a smile at least into the sound of his voice.

“A bit better. The tea you gave me is really tasty,” the younger said softly, and if Jonghyun didn’t know any better, he would say Taemin was preparing himself for the blow that the older boy was about to deliver.

“Good,” Jonghyun said. And then softer, “Good.”

A moment of silence stretched between them, and the walkie talkie crackled as Taemin prepared to talk, but Jonghyun cut him off.

“I’m moving away.”

He couldn’t even bring his head up to look out of his window to see Taemin, not wanting to have to see what kind of expression the kid would have.

“… When?” Taemin’s voice was tinier than ever.

“Next week,” Jonghyun’s tone was heavy as he ran a hand through his hair. “We can’t afford to live here anymore.”

Silence met Jonghyun’s words and he buried his face in his hands, the walkie talkie dropping to the floor. Taemin had become a part of his life, a daily habit that Jonghyun didn’t want to kick at all – his pick-me-up in the morning and his relaxant at night. He would probably never see Taemin again and Taemin was sick, he was so sick even though he assured Jonghyun that he was alright and Jonghyun…

He wanted to be there for the day that Taemin got better.

Something knocked against Jonghyun’s window and he glanced up to see a piggy bank hanging from the fishing wire, swaying a bit in the breeze. He chuckled softly and stood up, opening his window and taking the piggy bank off of the line, shaking it to hear the change that had been collected in it.

Taemin was draped over his window sill, a smile that a sixteen year old should never know plastered on his lips.

“Save up, and then come visit me,” the blond said, speaking loudly without the aid of his walkie talkie.

Jonghyun turned the piggy bank over in his hands a few times, catching sight of the address that was written in sloppy handwriting on the underside. He smiled and glanced up to assure Taemin that he would visit, but the boy was sound asleep with his head pillowed on his arms, the setting sun kissing his round cheeks.

“I wish I didn’t have to leave.”

--

Jonghyun’s dad had thrown out his walkie talkie, saying that he didn’t want Jonghyun to be distracted while packing. The teen had pitched a fit, yelled at his dad, and he was being a bit immature about the whole thing but his dad had managed to throw the walkie talkie against the wall and break it into pieces, rendering it useless.

Jonghyun had no choice but to focus on packing up his room, leaving his window open just in case Taemin decided to call out to him.

But he heard nothing from Taemin, and on the day that Jonghyun and his family were going to leave the house for good he moved to his window and opened it one last time, leaning out and calling towards Taemin’s house.

The blond head poked up slowly and Taemin blinked, looking like he had been roused from slumber. He’d been sleeping a lot lately, only waking late in the night for twenty minutes at a time. Jonghyun tried not to be worried.

“We’re leaving,” Jonghyun said, and Taemin rubbed his eyes and sat up a bit straighter, a frown marring his cute features. Jonghyun offered a small smile, “Hey now, no frowny faces. I’ll be back to visit.”

Taemin giggled softly and nodded, “I know.”

They smiled at each other for a few moments, until Jonghyun’s dad called up the stairs for him to come down so they could leave.

“Hey…” Jonghyun leaned forward a bit more, keeping his voice down but loud enough for Taemin to hear. “Take care of yourself, ok?”

Taemin’s smile was cheeky, “You’re the one who will need to wake up with an actual alarm clock, now.”

Jonghyun bristled a bit, “I can wake up fine on my own, thanks.”

The blond shook his head and laughed, resting his cheek in his hand. “If you say so, hyung.”

“Jonghyun! Get down here, the moving van is leaving!”

Jonghyun licked his lips and opened his mouth to speak – Taemin put a finger over his lips and shook his head, still smiling, preventing Jonghyun from saying anything at all.

“I know,” Taemin said softly, before giving a small wave and disappearing back into his room, shutting his window and drawing the curtains.

Jonghyun frowned and wondered what it was that Taemin knew, because Jonghyun surely didn’t know.

--

A year later Jonghyun had been promoted to assistant manager at his job, and things had been flowing evenly for his family. They lived in an apartment, now, and Jonghyun knew that his dad was secretly satisfied in the fact that Jonghyun couldn’t hang out his window and chat with a neighbor kid. His parents never said anything out loud, though; his mother occasionally asked him why he never brought home any girls, and then his dad would chime in and ask about boys, and Jonghyun would just ignore them.

Six months after that, Jonghyun moved out on his own. He found an affordable apartment closer to his work and his mother agreed to co-sign, though his father was pretty offended that Jonghyun would no longer be helping with the bills.

He didn’t have many possessions; he brought his bed, his dresser, his desk and computer but other than that he had no furniture for the living room, and scarce dishes for his kitchen. He wasn’t bothered by it, though, he could live off of take out for a while and save up to go to the thrift store and finish furnishing his place.

On a Saturday morning he picked up the piggy bank Taemin had given him, shaking it and finding it almost full. He turned it over and looked at the address, writing it down on a piece of scrap paper and grabbing his keys, heading out to his car. The address was for a building downtown, he knew that much, and as he cruised around the streets looking for it, he felt his heart hammering as he pulled into the hospital parking lot, the building tall and looming above him.

Taemin was here?

At twenty-one years old Jonghyun had never felt such a fear grip his chest. He wasn’t sure if he was ready to see Taemin – not like this, anyway. But he pushed that fear aside, shoved it deep down inside as he got out of his car and headed into the lobby, asking the receptionist if there was a Lee Taemin residing in the hospital.

She smiled and gave Jonghyun a room number and directions, his feet following the instructions on auto-pilot, as the elevator carried him up, up, up, while his gut sank down, down, down.

He had a brief stupid thought of ‘I should have brought flowers or a card’ but he squashed that thought as he moved to the correct door, which was propped open. Sunlight was spilling into the room and Jonghyun squinted for a second, before he stepped inside and the rays of light revealed Taemin lying on the hospital bed, a mask over his face and an IV hooked up to his arm.

Taemin’s hair was still that magnificent, honey blond, though it was much longer now. It looked a bit thinner but it still had that lovely sheen about it as it fanned over the pillow. His cheeks weren’t as round anymore, in fact they looked a bit sunken in, and overall, in seeing Taemin in person for the first time, Jonghyun had to wonder if he had always been this frail looking.

Pulling up a chair next to the bed, Jonghyun sat down cautiously and slowly reached out to touch the hand that wasn’t hooked up to a machine. Taemin’s skin was warm and soft beneath his finger tips, and Jonghyun felt his heart ache as he finally got to experience something so personal with Taemin, something that wasn’t aided by a walkie talkie, something that wasn’t twenty feet away from him and suspended in mid-air.

His other hand reached out to gently brush some hair out of Taemin’s face, his fingers lingering on the skin, brushing over rosy cheek bones, the same cheeks that he remembered being so full as features brightened with a perfect smile. Taemin was unresponsive and Jonghyun’s chest tightened, his eyes stinging in the corners; Jonghyun’s cheek rested lightly on Taemin’s chest and he listened to the weak heartbeat, lids falling shut as tears streamed down his cheeks.

“I’m sorry I had to leave,” Jonghyun whispered, his voice thick from tears in the back of his throat. His fingers laced with Taemin’s thin ones, holding on as tight as he dared. “I’m sorry I couldn’t hug you good bye, I’m sorry I couldn’t hold your hand or kiss your cheek or tell you that you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever met…” he shook his head softly, sniffing. “I’m sorry that you’re so alone…”

Taemin’s chest was rising and falling evenly with measured breaths that were aided by the humming machines, and when Jonghyun heard his heart skip a beat the older boy lifted his head and furrowed his brows, wiping his tears with his hand. He stared at Taemin’s chest, watching as the blankets’ shifting increased with each passing second, and when Jonghyun glanced up to Taemin’s face, he saw the blond’s pretty eyes fluttering open, looking slightly confused.

“Hyung…?” Taemin croaked, his voice muffled by the mask.

“Taemin,” Jonghyun sat up and gave Taemin’s hand a soft squeeze, reaching up with his other to gently pet his head, a smile breaking out on his features. “Hey, kiddo.”

Taemin smiled, turning his head into the touch. “You’re so warm…”

Jonghyun sniffed a bit and nodded, chuckling softly and continuing to pet Taemin. “It’s my burning good looks, you know.”

The blond smiled and unlaced their fingers, reaching up with his hand to let his finger tips trace over Jonghyun’s cheek bones, over his lips and his jaw, up to his eyebrows, to the tip of his nose. He tucked some unruly hairs behind Jonghyun’s ear before ruffling them up again, his movements measured and slow, his eyes following them.

“I knew you’d come,” Taemin whispered.

Jonghyun thought about the last words Taemin said to him, and he laughed softly as he nodded, leaning down to press his forehead against Taemin’s.

“Yeah,” the older boy said softly. “I know you did.”

--

Since Jonghyun’s visit, Taemin made a rapid recovery. The doctors were shocked – Taemin had been on his death bed, and all of a sudden he was eating more, he was regaining his strength, and his symptoms were going away. It was a miracle, they all said as they watched Taemin walk around in the garden, his tiny hands holding onto Jonghyun’s arm for support.

An act of God.

On Taemin’s eighteenth birthday he was declared healthy enough to go home, this time without the machines, without the medication, and without the worry that he was going to come back. He was completely healed and while the doctors were baffled, they were happy – Jonghyun knew that none of them wanted to see Taemin die, either.

Jonghyun invited Taemin to come stay with him for a while. Taemin agreed and his parents were a bit unsure at first, but everyone had some small belief that it was Jonghyun that cured Taemin, not God – and so they relented and allowed it, not without Mrs. Lee kissing Jonghyun’s cheek and hugging him tight, telling him that he would always be welcome as a part of the family, her and her husband thanking him over and over again.

So Taemin was packed up and put in the passenger seat of Jonghyun’s car, both of them waving to the blond’s parents before heading off towards Jonghyun’s apartment downtown, Taemin singing along to the songs on the radio at the top of his lungs with the window rolled down, the sun kissing his hair and warming his cheeks.

--

“Hyung,” Taemin said, while looking through Jonghyun’s cupboards that afternoon. “Do you really live off of ramen and beer?”

Jonghyun finished putting Taemin’s bags in the bedroom and came out, rubbing the back of his head abashedly. “Well… you know. Bachelor pad.”

Taemin laughed, “That’s no excuse to eat like crap.”

It didn’t take much for Taemin to convince Jonghyun to go to the grocery store; Jonghyun didn’t eat like crap because he couldn’t afford any better, he ate like that because it was just him and he didn’t have to worry about a growing teen. The trip consisted of Taemin sitting inside the basket of the cart while Jonghyun pushed, the blond reaching up and grabbing things that suited his fancy – and they were all surprisingly healthy, adult picks – slowly building up piles around himself. People were giving them odd stares, especially when Jonghyun careened around a corner particularly fast and almost tipped the cart over, Taemin shrieking and laughing and holding on for dear life.

The check-out line was simple enough, as Jonghyun unloaded the items around Taemin onto the conveyor belt, but when Jonghyun picked Taemin up and put him on the conveyor belt as well, a few people chuckled and a few people looked on scornfully, the cashier laughing and shaking her head, saying she couldn’t find a price tag.

Once home, Taemin declared that even though they had bought all of these groceries that he knew a special secret recipe for ramen, and Jonghyun was forced to sit at the table while Taemin slaved over the stove. Jonghyun watched curiously, and then drew the line when Taemin grabbed the milk and honey, standing up and protesting loudly. It ended up in a squabble, Taemin holding the honey out of Jonghyun’s reach (the kid was skinny, but over the years he was about two inches taller than Jonghyun), the older boy resorting to tickles in order to win.

“Not – fair!” Taemin gasped out, slumping against the counter as Jonghyun smirked and whistled, putting the honey away.

“I don’t want you putting strange things in my ramen,” Jonghyun said.

“But it tastes good!” Taemin pouted, folding his arms over his chest. “And I haven’t eaten it in years.”

It was just a fact to be stated but Jonghyun turned around, trying to gauge when Taemin was last in charge of what he could eat. He had been sick for so long, he probably ate what was given to him as well as the few treats that Jonghyun managed to sneak over to his house. In the end Jonghyun relented and tossed Taemin the honey, trying not to smile at the excited laugh that left the blond’s lips as he finished cooking up the ramen.

And it really didn’t taste so bad, Jonghyun decided as they sat down and ate in silence, the only sounds being the slurping of the noodles.

Jonghyun figured everything tasted better when you had someone to share it with.

--

Despite the fact they had known each other for so long without touching or seeing each other in person, Jonghyun and Taemin didn’t let their touches linger too much. They sat close on the couch with their shoulders barely brushing, when they slept in the bed they were on the opposite sides. Jonghyun had spent so much time wishing, yearning and needing to touch Taemin that he didn’t know how to go about it, now that he had the boy within arm’s reach. Taemin didn’t seem to mind, initiating skinship without thinking about it, like when they fought over the remote and the blond sprawled in Jonghyun’s lap while whining, or even smacking Jonghyun’s shoulder when they were out and about and the older boy’s eyes lingered on specific parts of female anatomy as it passed.

But right now with Taemin straddling Jonghyun’s lap, squirming and wiggling and trying to reach for the remote that Jonghyun held above his head with one hand while the other hand kept Taemin’s hips in place, Jonghyun was starting to realize that he couldn’t really view Taemin as the cute little kid next door, anymore.

Over the weeks with Taemin’s full recovery he had gained some weight, though he was naturally thin anyway, his arms filling out and his thighs getting a bit thicker. He was solid and sturdy, no longer frail and looking like he could break in half if the wind blew too hard.

Jonghyun noticed.

He really noticed.

Especially now as Taemin huffed and wriggled and stretched, his chest rubbing against Jonghyun’s as his arm stretched out and his fingers tried to find purchase on the remote. Jonghyun sucked in a breath and then allowed Taemin to win, practically handing the remote to him before picking up the sleight boy and setting him aside. Taemin looked a bit confused as to why Jonghyun relented so easily, but shrugged and changed the channel from a stupid war movie (his words, not Jonghyun’s) to the comedy channel.

Evil was Taemin’s middle name, apparently, as he snuggled into Jonghyun’s side and rested his cheek on the older man’s shoulder, his eyes drooping a bit as the television played a re-run of a gag show. Instead of shying away like he normally did, Jonghyun wrapped an arm around Taemin’s shoulders and kept him close, resting his cheek atop the blond locks.

He didn’t even mind that they fell asleep tangled up in each other.

--

“I should get a job,” Taemin said as he stared at his cereal while sitting across from Jonghyun at the table.

Jonghyun made an interested sound as he shoved his face full of egg.

“Shouldn’t I?” Taemin asked, raising his gaze to Jonghyun.

The man blinked and chewed, swallowing his mouthful as he thought about Taemin’s words. His tone of voice made it seem like he had thought about this before, but the idea sounded foreign, like someone else planted it there.

“Are your parents saying you should?” Jonghyun asked, taking a drink of milk.

“They suggested it,” the younger said, poking at his cereal. “Since I was cooped up for so long… they say I should socialize.”

“So then you should go to school, not get a job,” Jonghyun said with a shrug.

“Do you think I could?” Taemin asked, wide-eyed and looking a bit eager.

Jonghyun grinned, “I’m sure you could.”

They spent the day checking out the local college and figuring out how to get Taemin enrolled in the system, after his parents agreed it was a good idea.

--

“Hyung~”

Jonghyun groaned and rolled over.

“Hyuuuung~~”

Jonghyun waved a dismissive hand and grunted.

One hundred and twenty pounds of teenager landed on top of him and Jonghyun howled in surprise, trying to kick Taemin off of him, but to no avail. Taemin wrapped his arms around Jonghyun’s broad shoulders and held on for dear life, a death grip as Jonghyun started to roll around in the bed to try and get Taemin off of him.

“Hyung!!”

“What?!”

The struggling paused and Jonghyun fumed, looking up at Taemin who looked absolutely earnest and like he had something important to say – Taemin smiled brightly, his voice chirping and pleasant.

“Good morning~”

“I will hide your body where no one can find it.”

But Jonghyun ended up just tickling Taemin, the boy submitting in a fit of giggles and flailing limbs as Jonghyun rolled atop the blond and was relentless in his attack. Gasping for air, cheeks flushed and eyes bright with his hair fanned out over the pillow, Jonghyun’s fingers slowed to a stop and Taemin’s chest heaved to catch his breath as he smiled up at the older man, stray giggles leaving those plump lips as Jonghyun took in Taemin’s features for what felt like the first time.

The silence was warm and inviting, as Jonghyun leaned down and closed the distance between their lips, his eyes sliding shut. Taemin’s arms lifted and draped over his shoulders, the kiss sensual and every kind of lazy as they indulged in the feel of each other, the taste of each other.

When Jonghyun pulled away Taemin was still smiling and his eyes were brighter than ever, the brunet chuckling and pressing their foreheads together before pulling away and declaring they needed to go shopping so Taemin could look nice on his first day of school.

For the rest of the day their fingers were loosely linked together as they wandered around town, furtive glances and shy smiles exchanged until they fell asleep in each other’s arms that night.

--

Taemin’s stay at Jonghyun’s was going to expire soon, and he would have to return home to his parent’s house. He visited them often, along with Jonghyun, and sometimes Taemin asked if he could meet Jonghyun’s parents but the older boy merely shook his head and said his parents were busy, and that maybe next time they could stop by.

They never did.

On the last night of Taemin’s stay, the pair was huddled on the couch watching a zombie movie marathon, cuddled under the blankets and resting their heads on each other. As the movie panned out Jonghyun’s mind started to wander, and he pulled away to look down at Taemin, his brows furrowed slightly.

“Taemin…”

“Hm?” Taemin glanced up, his chin on Jonghyun’s shoulder and big eyes blinking.

“What were you sick with?” He had been thinking about it for a long time, he had even searched the internet to try and relate the symptoms to something but nothing ever came up. No cancer, no lung infections, no brain tumors.

Taemin fell quiet and his lashes lowered a bit as he looked to the side, chewing his lower lip in thought.

“No one knew,” he said softly, his fingers finding Jonghyun’s under the blanket. “My body was just failing me. The doctors tried everything they could – experimented with all sorts of treatments to see if something, anything could work. Nothing did.” His voice fell even quieter, his free hand picking at the edge of the blanket. “I was supposed to die.”

“Was?” Jonghyun repeated, his voice cracking a bit as he digested the information.

Taemin nodded, “But then one day my body fixed itself. I was healed completely and it was like I was never sick, it was like the past ten years of my life never happened.”

Jonghyun rested his cheek on Taemin’s head, staring at the television but not paying attention to the zombies that were coming up out of the ground, not paying attention to the screams of terror that were filling the room. Taemin had been sick since he was seven years old, and out of nowhere he was miraculously healed?

“Thank God…” Jonghyun whispered, wrapping his arms around Taemin’s body tightly.

“No,” Taemin smiled, the curl of his lips felt against Jonghyun’s neck. “Thank you.”

--

They would never find out what Taemin was sick with, and they would never find out what exactly cured Taemin. But as time passed and Taemin spent more days at Jonghyun’s house than his own, the questions were soon tucked away to be thought about later, to be forgotten about because Taemin was fine, he was living his life the way he was meant to live, and no one wanted to linger on what he had to go through to get to where he was.

A year after Jonghyun and Taemin had officially gotten together, Taemin was lazing on the couch reading a book for an assignment, waiting for Jonghyun to come home from work. At twenty-three minutes past ten in the evening the door to the apartment opened and Taemin put his book down on his chest, calling out a soft greeting.

“Hey,” Jonghyun grinned and shrugged off his jacket, hanging it on a chair in the kitchen before bringing a box out to Taemin, knocking the younger man’s legs off of the couch so he could sit, the blond only giving a short protest before he realized he was about to receive a gift.

“Our anniversary isn’t until next week,” Taemin said, taking the blue box that was handed to him.

“Yeah,” Jonghyun rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, “but I found this on my lunch break and I couldn’t resist.”

Taemin’s fingers ran over the white ribbon that decorated the box and déjà vu hit him briefly before he opened up the box and laughed, picking up the walkie talkie and looking it over.

“You’re such a sap,” Taemin said, picking up the other walkie talkie and handing it over to Jonghyun.

The radios crackled as Jonghyun responded, “You love it.”

Taemin shoved Jonghyun’s shoulder and laughed, before talking into his own walkie talkie. “Does your alarm not work in the mornings anymore?”

“I’d much rather wake up to your kisses.”

Taemin squealed and used his feet to shove Jonghyun off of the couch, laughing loudly. “Get out!”

No one knew what Taemin had been sick with for all those years, but as the couple chased each other around the apartment, Taemin had a pretty good idea as to what had healed him.
 
 
 
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( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
g_odalisque13g_odalisque13 on March 8th, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC)
spot!
g_odalisque13: taemin glassesg_odalisque13 on March 8th, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC)
oh my god jillian!
i am speechless. speechless.
this was just so sweet and beautiful and romantic and i kind of feel like i want to cry from happiness.
i was so worried that taemin was going to die. but he didn't!
and everything was just so sweet- the walkie talkies, the pulley system, all of jonghyun's gestures. god.
i don't even know what to say to you except that you're brilliant.
this was just beautiful and i loved it ♥
emmiwishemmiwish on March 8th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
OMFG ITS SO SWEET AND CUTE ADlcsj;afkdsg
i dont even know what to say
ive always loved other pairings but ugh ill go ship jongtae now, its just so adorableeeeeeeeee ;A;<33
sashitaesashitae on March 8th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
THIS IS PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL!!!!
I was so sad when Jonghyun visited Taemin at the hospital after he moved out from his parent's house, i was crying thinking that he'd die in the end.
Thank you so much for keeping him alive and happy together with Jonghyun!!!
This is totally one of the best JongTae fic i've ever read...
I really hope that you will write more, hehe... ~<3
fantasydesirefantasydesire on March 8th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
I LOVE THIS SO MUCH IT ALMOST MAKE ME CRY!!!

THE ENDING IS PERFECT!!!
^^


While the rest made me teared-up and sad... this made me smile like a fool :

"The check-out line was simple enough, as Jonghyun unloaded the items around Taemin onto the conveyor belt, but when Jonghyun picked Taemin up and put him on the conveyor belt as well, a few people chuckled and a few people looked on scornfully, the cashier laughing and shaking her head, saying she couldn’t find a price tag."
XD
kaybee38kaybee38 on March 8th, 2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
Damn you for making me tear up at my desk. Damn you! This was so sweet.
sunsetdriveonsunsetdriveon on March 8th, 2011 07:41 pm (UTC)
kfjdsfjadkjfdshfkjh dfas
THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL OH MY GOODNESS!
The way you described Taemin. Just... gorgeous, but that's because you have amazing diction anyway ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ
fugunefugune on March 8th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Oh my god. I want to cry, this was so damn beautiful ;__;
And coz JongTae is one of my OTPs, this fic is just pure perfection.
+ I've never, srsly never, read any fanfic which would have been written as beautifully and romantically as this was
And the plot is just way too adorable

Thank you so much for writing this^^
iswimsarah on March 8th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
I seriously thought you were going to kill Taemin off, so I almost started crying. ;.;

But then he lived, and I cheered! Haha
I really loved this story a lot. :]
ubombkibbumie on March 8th, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC)
I– oh my god. how are you able to write such cute, adorable, romantic, perfect fics?
this made me tear up askdldsk i was just imagining taemin in his bed, idk, so sad. and then jonghyun and his greatest idea ever asdklas
i just cant ;~; I HAVE NO OTHER WORDS. I loved it ;~;
13believe_miki13believe_miki on March 8th, 2011 10:19 pm (UTC)
Awwww~ Super sweet~ >3< Hihihi. From TaeTae's unknown sickness amd Jong moving away~ And Rawr~ This was so pretty~! <3 Thank you for sharing chingu~
SiouxsieSiouxxxtoxic_dollie131 on March 8th, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
oh my god. this is so amazing. it definitely made my day brighter : D
☆ mollow ☆taemin_knees on March 9th, 2011 12:29 am (UTC)
Oh my god.


This was just perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect.
It made my heart clench, made me smile the doofiest smile, made me coo and made me instantly mem this.


My heart totally goes out to Taemin though. I've feeling extremely sick lately and I have to wait for my doctor's appointment to find out what it is. T-T



/////loves forever
LuciferGirl97elfrulezforever on March 9th, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
i'm so speechless~~~
this is so sweet and beautiful~~~
glad that taemin didn't die...
haha and i thought this will be some kind of angst fic where the ending will be sad~~~
gosh jongtae is love again~
sakiikumisakiikumi on March 9th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
Best thing youve ever written :) made my day
Rielle / 리 희 림angelrielle on March 9th, 2011 03:14 am (UTC)
I am so going to mem this. This is soooo great! Thank you for sharing this one.
mimi_olyjinkibumiminho on March 9th, 2011 04:11 am (UTC)
Beautifully sweet without being fluffy, and being familiar with your work, I was open to where this might be heading.
The attachment that lead to love was charming, as was the first kiss -- a smut-less love story.
Lovely.
strawberry: jongieteenageisland on March 9th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
omg i'm giggling and crying like a total sap
kpop has turned me into such a girl ; u ;

but yes grabby hands at every part of this fic i honestly wish i could knit a sweater out of it and wear it on even the hottest of summer days :)
shiihx on March 9th, 2011 07:18 am (UTC)
i actually teared up so bad at this. D: omg. it was just .. so fluffy and cute and romantic.. D: i thought taem was gunna die. BUT OMG. <3
SUNSHINER_krys: smile!chulsunshiner_krys on March 9th, 2011 07:41 am (UTC)
This is beautiful.

Normally, I would quote my favorite lines and such, but I would end up quoting this whole thing and I don't think you would like that very much.

But this is going into my memories. Just because I love JongTae and this is a whole wonderful mix of fluff, romantics, sweetness, and just plan beautifulness. <3
xiola_azuthra: SHINee - Jjong // perfect smilexiola_azuthra on March 9th, 2011 08:25 am (UTC)
oh my god this is so cute and sweet and aaghghh *squeeing and flailing inside my head rn*

D: I don't even like this pairing hehehe.
Caramel: jooniebopeep_achu on March 9th, 2011 11:46 am (UTC)
so freaking ukdsfyhkjsfkdjlkfjlskf BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!
lost of words right now..
def; memming
gyustinegyustine on March 9th, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC)
Its a perfect combination, with sad and happy story..
I like the way jjong give taemin happiness..
I'm glad taemin got recovery, first i wondered that taemin will die.
Nice fic...
Pattiminiecheesze on March 9th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
Loveeeeeee this!! So sweet!! Thank you for bringing jongtae back!! :)
SpiderLilyamore91 on March 9th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
This is one of the best JongTae I've ever read (and I've read many)..and from now on it will always be one of my favourites.

It's so perfect that I'm about to cry ç.ç

Your writing is awesome,I've always thought that,but this..this..this is wonderful.

The plot is really original and made me feel bad for half of the time but when there was that change in Taemin's health my heart was nearly exploding with joy *_*

I hope that you'll write another beautiful JongTae soon even if all of your fanfictions about this couple are amazing..expecially the NC-17 rated ones kkkkkkkkkkk

Good job <3
stuporsteam: jongtaestuporsteam on March 9th, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC)
this is so damn perfect!! it was so sweet, but then sad cos they had to part, and i almost cried when jjong quarrelled with his parents, and then taem just miraculously healed and then boom! A HAPPY ENDING!!!! :DDD
and really, i almost cried! first time reading a fic with so much emotions~~
and the ending is just so damn cute and sweet and perfect i love it so freaking much!! the scene of 2 adults aka a cute couple running abt in the house, just reminds me of how sweet and strong their relationship is and their memories, the walkie talkie, and taem's gesture to kick jjong off the couch was just too cute!! keke i love it so so much!!!
thanks for this great work :)))
( 60 comments — Leave a comment )
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