summary: an anonymous note isn't quite so anonymous if you recognize the hand-writing.
a/n: surprise! not angst and no character death!
‘i love you.’
the words on the note tucked carefully into the set of piano scores he rarely uses are scrawled in suspiciously familiar handwriting.
ryeowook stares dumbly at the words and the handwriting, and his whirling mind stubbornly refuses to process what his hopeful heart tinkers into his subconscious.
love, he rationalizes to himself, has many different interpretations.
familial love; steady and uncondititonal, painted in black and white, in sure clear strokes of sometimes grudging affection and gentleness. the kind of love you don’t quite choose.
platonic love, rainbow coloured gusts of wind that blow in suddenly. tinged with careless laughter and sweetly whispered secrets. phone calls into the night, shedding unnecessary skins and armour.
romantic love, the closest to obsession and possession. defined by passion and lust, kisses under the rain and greedy touch. strong arms that protect you from the world, and silent chest to hide your tears.
he traces the words on the paper and wonders which love the writer means.
‘wook? we need to go for sukira. what are you –’
ryeowook gestures mutely at the note in between the scores and looks at sungmin, large brown eyes filling with a silent appeal for help.
‘oh,’ sungmin says.
and ‘oh’ is sungmin’s face, eyes and mouth rounded in that shape. although, there is a certain odd lacking in the surprise factor.
‘you do know – who that is – right?’ sungmin begins carefully, unsure and wary of this strange silent still ryeowook, eyes staring blankly, thin fingers reaching out slowly to grip the paper, watching creases spread across the words.
‘of course!’ ryeowook snaps, eyes never leaving the words.
there is a strained silence, while sungmin battles with himself and the many questions he wants to ask, while ryeowook hears nothing but thundering in his ears, tiny sparks of hope lighting inside of him despite himself.
he turns to face sungmin and stretches his mouth into a parody of a smile.
‘it must have been ages ago, right? and this might be a prank. i mean i haven’t looked at these scores for so long. it probably doesn’t mean anything, right?’
there is a desperate note of plea in his voice and sungmin isn’t sure what he is expected to say.
except what he does know.
‘that,’ sungmin points at the scribbled line, ‘will never change.’
‘i – don’t know what to do.’ ryeowook admits this honestly and plainly.
‘just don’t throw it away, okay?’
ryeowook isn’t sure whether sungmin means the note or the possibility. or both. but he nods anyway.
the next day dawns bright and ryeowook awakens with the awareness that the hope that had lighted has not been extinguished.
love, he muses, rolling the word on his tongue. love.
and there are three types of love, but he thinks for him, jongwoon is all three. for it is jongwoon, the handwriting achingly familiar to him; scribbles in the margins of their lyrics, carefully penned on cards, scraps of paper with notes for him when they were still sharing a room.
jongwoon is quiet affection and sure presence, a haven of simple acceptance, his keeper of secrets, his hyung. and although ryeowook has wanted more, he has forced himself to be content with his lot, not demanding or pushing. because how could he? he was afraid to destroy what they have; the easy camaraderie, the rarely articulated contented companionship.
he is still afraid.
the paint on the ceiling is peeling, his subconscious observes, as he runs through the day’s schedule in his mind, picking out a small pocket of time where he could ... maybe ... do something about that note. maybe.
when he pushes the door to mobit open later that day, he is met with shocked glances and he smiles a little to himself, still somewhat in awe at the strength of fan-love even after so many years.
his eyes lift to lock with jongwoon’s over the counter and the din of the cafe recedes into the distance. there is a softness in jongwoon’s gaze he has never seen anywhere else, and he wonders why he never noticed before.
he settles into his seat and wonders at his own motivations. what kind of conversation could they have here anyway? perhaps he chose this place and this time, with its noisy chatter and incessant flashes, its prying eyes and eavesdropping ears, simply because he doesn’t want to deal with it.
and yet, why come at all?
ryeowook doesn’t know how to explain himself.
jongwoon slips into the seat opposite ryeowook, sliding his cake over to him.
‘what brings you here?’
‘i can’t come by to visit my favourite hyung?’
‘sure you can, just, isn’t your schedule pretty packed today?’
it occurs to ryeowook that jongwoon has always kept himself informed about his schedule, sending occasional reminders to drink enough water and have enough rest.
‘i wanted to see you.’
the sentence that so easily escapes his mouth surprises ryeowook. its stark simplicity strange in the light of how easily he sometimes hides his emotions when it comes to jongwoon.
he looks up with slight trepidation to see the small smile on jongwoon face pull wider, a shiny wide smile that tugs at ryeowook’s heart.
‘i found something yesterday,’ he says conversationally, digging in his pockets.
and when jongwoon leans forward in interest, ryeowook drops the creased note next to his plate.
a myriad of emotions flit pass jongwoon’s face: shock, horror, guilt, fear, before he schools his expression into mild amusement and grins weakly at ryeowook.
‘i nearly forgot about that.’
ryeowook tilts his head to the side and waits.
‘you haven’t touched those scores in over a year, you know.’ jongwoon continues, ‘jungsu hyung told me i had to, even had heechul hyung call me and yell. something about ridiculous people and not being upfront.’
a wry smile lingers on his lips at the memory.
‘i’m not one for these kind of things. i think you know that, so this was my compromise with myself. i didn’t plan that far ahead about what to do when you did find it though.’
jongwoon’s eyes glide slowly back to ryeowook.
a long heavy silence presses on them, broken only by the clinking of plates and forks.
‘do you still ... ?’
ryeowook’s voice is wafer-thin and trembling.
‘i think i always will.’
ryeowook’s eyes are on the table, fixated on jongwoon’s hand, clenching and unclenching against the table-top. and even if the tone of his voice is still stable, it is that and the tightness around his eyes that give him away. ryeowook always knew how to understand jongwoon.
he watches his own hand drift forward and grip jongwoon’s fingers, firm and secure. jongwoon starts under the touch.
their eyes rise and meet, and like people who have known each other for a long time, words become unnecessary.
jongwoon turns his hand and entangles his fingers with ryeowook’s for an instant before pulling away, always aware of where exactly they are.
‘i need to go,’ ryeowook’s tiny pocket of time has turned minute at this point, ‘i’ll see you later?’
he raises hopeful arms and jongwoon pulls him in, nose to his hair. ryeowook presses a sneaky kiss at the bottom of jongwoon’s neck and smiles against the pale skin.