1900+ words; pg; jongin/sehun; alternate reality
The Sehun in front of him now is not the Sehun that Jongin would give the stars and the moon
and everything underneath for. This is not the Sehun that Jongin fell for, and knowing this fact
without knowing how to bring back the old Sehun drives Jongin absolutely mad.
In the practice room, it is Sehun that always catches Jongin's eyes.
He is tall, and Jongin thinks he looks best in just his sweats and his unstyled hair. He moves fluidly. Something Jongin had not expected from someone with such a lanky and awkward-looking body. His expression is mesmerizing, too. Always serious, always brooding. Sometimes he even catches Sehun looking furious, like he is just about ready to murder the person that misses a step.
Too often, it is him. And too often, it is Sehun that gets scolded by the choreographer.
“Ease up, Sehun-ah!”
The rest of the group would get a minute or so of rest, as Sehun apologizes to the choreographer and the music restarts.
During times like these, Jongin could see Sehun bite his lip. He furrows his brows together and he looks down at his feet. Jongin knows Sehun is scolding himself mentally. He's seen him do this a couple of other times (not that Jongin pays attention and takes mental notes so he can interpret Sehun's every move. No. That would be creepy.)
Times like these, Jongin wants to reach for Sehun, hold him, and tell him it's not his fault. That he was just tired like the rest of them are. That he would get the routine down, all he need is time, patience and practice. But Jongin is too far from him from the formation. And to move away from his formation is to willingly dig his own grave.
“Baekhyun-ah,” the choreographer's voice suddenly booms at them during their History practice for the showcase. The music stops, and the air in the practice room suddenly feels heavier. Their panting and the exhausted beating of his own heart is the only thing that Jongin hears until the choreographer speaks again. “Take Sehun's spot in the beginning instead.”
Immediately, Baekhyun's face dropped. He threw a quick glance at Sehun. Everyone did. Especially Jongin. He's had his eyes on Sehun the entire time the music has stopped, but hearing those words tore his gaze from Sehun, to the choreographer, and back.
“You can sing your part from there, too.” The choreographer continued to explain.
It made sense, in all honesty. To bring Baekhyun up front like that, but Sehun barely even had lines during the song. That part in the beginning was his spotlight. He worked hard for it, too.
Jongin cannot even begin to explain the feeling he has in his stomach, but he could almost be sure that it is pure dread. Dread at the fact that he could see Sehun smiling at Baekhyun like it is nothing. Dread at the fact that he could see Sehun's knees buckle as he moved to where Baekhyun stood. Dread at the fact that the night before, he saw Sehun practicing by himself. Muttering things to himself as he repeated his part over and over.
He wanted so badly to go to where Sehun is and console him. But he's too far from him now. He's in the front and Sehun was placed all the way to the end. Jongin saw Chanyeol give Sehun a pat on his shoulder, and Sehun smiled at him gratefully. Jongin is not sure whether he saw it right or not, but he could have sworn he saw tears welling up in his eyes.
The music starts agan, and all Jongin could focus on was Sehun.
After practice, when everyone is bowing and saying thank-you to one another, Jongin maneuvers his way to Sehun.
He wants to say something encouraging. Something that would ease the heavy feeling in his stomach, something that would make Sehun smile his usual casual, goofy smile. But he doesn't know how to. Jongin is absolutely terrible with things like this. He's not shy. He just cannot seem to think straight when Sehun is not being the usual Sehun.
Sehun stands there, equally quiet, equally awkward, until he breaks the silence by bowing and thanking Jongin for his hardwork. Jongin mutters something similar, and watches as Sehun moved past him, towel over his head.
He watches Baekhyun approach Sehun, nudging him on the arm and offering the water bottle he is holding. Jongin clutches his own as he watched the two enter a whispered conversation.
From the look on Baekhyun's face, Jongin could only guess that he was comforting Sehun. Jongin looks away when he sees the beginnings of a smile on Sehun's face.
That should have been me.
Back in the dormitory, Jongin finds it hard to sleep.
Mostly because the practice from earlier still plagued him, and partly because the lights are still on.
Kyungsoo is too occupied to talk to him though. Ever since practice ended, Kyungsoo had been dazed and in his own world. His lips moving to the lyrics of their songs. Jongin did not want to interrupt him when he gets serious like this. So he stands up from his bed.
His sudden movement must have disturbed Kyungsoo's trance because he asks Jongin where he was going.
“I'm just getting to get water,” he replies.
Kyungsoo nods, his lips slightly parted. Jongin stops to stare for a while, before he shakes his head and sneaks out of their room.
He runs into Sehun along the way and nearly dies of a heart attack because of it.
Sehun apologizes quickly. “Sorry. I was just going to get water.”
They stand there for a while, both waiting for the other to speak, both having nothing to say. Jongin breaks the awkwardness by walking to the kitchen and opening the fridge. He grabs two water bottles, the ones labeled with their own names.
He gives Sehun his before he uncaps his bottle and drinks. He watches as Sehun drinks as if he's been trapped in the Sahara without water. Jongin barely takes a sip from his bottle, but Sehun manages to drink almost half of it.
“Hyung?” Sehun asks, and Jongin shakes his head to snap him out of his trance.
He begins to state the obvious. “You drank a lot.”
“Oh?” Sehun looks at his bottle. He smiles sheepishly as he moved to the sink to refill it. He turns his back on Jongin as he opens the faucet. “I guess.”
“You've been practicing?”
Sehun nods, closing the faucet and placing the cap back on his bottle.
“By yourself? Junmyeon-hyung doesn't mind?”
“Junmyeon-hyung told me to stop and to go bed after I get some water.”
“Oh,” Jongin says.
Sehun stands there again, and he stares at Jongin as if waiting for him to say more. He always seemed to be waiting on Jongin. But Jongin keeps quiet. He always does. But it wasn't like he has nothing to say. He has a million and seventeen things he wants to tell Sehun, but he can't find the right words to phrase them in. So instead he tells him good night.
Sehun nods. “Good night, too, hyung.”
Jongin watches Sehun walk past him. Again. For the second time today, and for the hundredth time in this lifetime. Jongin suppresses a sigh.
His hand reaches out for Sehun's, and he manages to grab it. Sehun stops walking from the shock and turns to face Jongin.
Don't go. Jongin wants to say it. He wants to let his emotions lose and rampant on the earth, but at the same time he doesn't want to. He is too scared, too damn scared and to fragile to allow himself to be vulnerable and open like this. Especially not with Sehun.
His own frustration makes him sour, and Jongin scoffs at his own failure. His anger with himself overwhelms him to the point that it spilled over to Sehun.
“Hyung, my ass,” he scoffs again.
The Sehun he knows is the Sehun that talks to him casually. That dances around randomly and aegyos his way into suckering his hyungs to buying him everything from a cup of bubble tea to his daily meals. The Sehun he knows is the Sehun that sticks his tongue out when he makes a mistake, because that's how quickly this kid bounces back. That's how quickly he picks himself up after falling.
The Sehun in front of him now is not the Sehun that Jongin would give the stars and the moon and everything underneath for. This is not the Sehun that Jongin fell for, and knowing this fact without knowing how to bring back the old Sehun drives Jongin absolutely mad.
“You told me to call you hyung,” Sehun explains. His syllables come out strong. There is a certain emphasis on each one, like calculated anger he is trying to suppress. Sehun is pressed too. He has just let go of his shining moment in their group number, and Jongin was not making it any better.
But Jongin is equally pressed. “I told you that a million times, and you're only listening to me now?”
Sehun's stare is sharp, almost furious at Jongin. “Are you getting mad because I'm being obedient?” He scoffs. His face furrowing in frustration. “Hyung, that makes no sense.”
“You're not being obedient. You're sulking like a child.”
“Sulking?” Sehun scoffs again. “Hyung, how am I sulking?”
Jongin can't find the words to respond to him. Instead, he realizes he's only agitating Sehun all the more, when all he really wanted to do is to console him. He realizes he's only making things worse when all he really wanted to do is make it better. He is doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing, and he's afraid Sehun hates him for it.
Now he remembers why he doesn't speak to Sehun when he wants to. It's because he sucks at it. His own feelings are too big for him to handle that it spills over everywhere and hurts those he cares for.
He lets go of Sehun without another word. Sehun doesn't waste another moment with Jongin. He turns around to walk away.
Jongin was ready to let him go then and there. He was convinced that he's destroyed everything, that he can't possibly screw their relationship anymore than he already has. So he lets himself speak. He lets himself go, and he calls out to him.
“Sehun-ah,” Jongin says. Sehun turns again to face him, but Jongin's gaze is down at his feet. “Don't blame yourself.”
Sehun scoffs again. He tries to speak. He tries to say something with pure detest, but instead his scoff turns into the first whimpers of his cry. Jongin looks up and quickly envelops Sehun in his arms. Sehun buries his head in the space between Jongin's neck and shoulders, and his arms slowly find their way around Jongin's waist.
“Stupid,” Jongin breathes, his head leaning against Sehun's. “If you wanted to cry you should have just cried.”
Sehun is about to pull away to protest, lifting his head away from Jongin's shoulder, but Jongin only tightens his embrace.
He clicks his tongue. “Shut up already.”
Jongin places one hand on Sehun's head to guide it back to his shoulder, to where it was earlier, and to where Jongin is sure it belongs.
Sehun doesn't cry anymore after Jongin replaces his head on his shoulder. Sehun just stands there and leans against Jongin, and Jongin just stands there, supporting the weight of Sehun depending on him, and he can't help but think that this is how it is supposed to be. That this is how they were meant to be.
“Sehun-ah, you don't have to be strong all the time,” he says. He could feel Sehun stiffen a little at the comment, as if he wants to say something, but chose to listen instead. The thought of this made Jongin smile. “I'm here.”
Sehun tightens his embrace.
“I'll always be here.”