Pairing(s): YooMin, hints of JaeHo
Word count: 11,200~
Genre: Romance/Angst, Road trip
“Yoochun hyung! Can you take a look at this? I fixed the lyrics of the song, now they should fit the melody better” Changmin yells excitedly, waving a music sheet in front of Yoochun’s half-asleep face.
Yoochun blinks, gives him an unfocused look and drags himself to the kitchen counter to pour himself a generous cup of coffee. Changmin waits impatiently for his hyung to regain his cognitive abilities, glancing at his sheet nervously.
After what seems forever, Yoochun puts his cup down and looks up at him, this time with a smile on his face. “What did you say?” he asks, and Changmin shoves the sheet in his hands, almost knocking the cup over in the process.
“I fixed it. I think it’s good, now” he says, and feels his heart beat faster in anticipation when Yoochun straightens the sheet and starts reading it.
‘Evergreen, like a fool, inexperienced / I lived without realizing the love you were giving me’ Yoochun sings softly, to see how the lyrics sound along with that music he knows so well.
‘Never again will I let you cry beside me / I’ll be the warmth that covers any sadness and embraces you’ Changmin joins him, equally softly, and they sing the rest of the song together, looking at each other with bright eyes and matching smiles.
“It’s perfect, Changmin” Yoochun says. Changmin sees a tear shimmer at the corner of his eye and feels his heart swell with satisfaction and pride. They’d spend every free moment working on it, stayed up at night to perfect the melody and lyrics even when they were so tired they could barely keep their eyes open. And now it was finally complete.
“What’s going on?” Junsu yawns, entering the kitchen with a sleepy face. “It’s still early and you’re making enough noise to wake up the whole house!”
“We finished it!” Yoochun says, holding the music sheet high like a trophy. “Look!”
Junsu’s face lights up immediately. “Oh, you finished your song? Let me see!”
This time both Yoochun and Changmin hold their breath as Junsu scans through the sheet with interest; and when he finally looks up they sigh in relief, recognizing the look on his face.
“I can’t wait to sing it” he says, and it’s the best praise he could’ve given them.
“What are you going to call it?”
“Evergreen” they say in unison. They look at each other, surprised, and burst out laughing.
Changmin woke up with a smile on his face, the memory of the dream still vivid in his mind. Unfortunately, the sweet moment was ruined when he became aware of two things: one, he needed to pee very badly, and two, he couldn't move because Yoochun was snuggled cozily against his chest, an arm thrown over Changmin's shoulders to keep him close. Which was weird, because Changmin was positive they'd lain down back-to-back the night before, but not entirely unpleasant.
Yoochun's body was warm and comforting and reminded Changmin of the past, bringing back memories of a closeness he hadn't experienced anymore, after their group's break-up, but that he discovered he was still longing for. He'd never really liked physical contact, before – much to Jaejoong's amusement, who loved to tease him and drape himself all over him, just because – but a part of him wanted to bury his face in the crook of Yoochun's neck and to breathe in the familiar smell of his cologne, to scoot closer and nestle against his body.
He almost thanked his protesting bladder for saving him from totally embarrassing himself.
He slid out of Yoochun's embrace quietly, trying not to move too abruptly. Yoochun let out a soft noise of protest, but didn't wake up; he just curled around the spot warmed by Changmin's body with a little frown, hugging the pillow instead, and the whole scene was so comically cute that Changmin just had to tiptoe to his camera and take a few shots. He told himself it was simply blackmailing material.
The bathroom was down the hall on the left, Changmin remembered, closing their room's door softly behind him. They were staying in a tiny inn, and they'd been lucky to find it because there weren't others for miles and miles, as the trucker who'd stopped to help them with their overheated engine had told them.
They had gotten there in the middle of the night and the only available room was a single one, so they had to share the narrow bed; Changmin thought they'd been lucky neither of them had fallen off it in their sleep.
When he returned to his room Yoochun was still asleep; a glance to his watch told Changmin it was almost nine in the morning, and the rumble of his stomach told him it was well past breakfast time. He wanted to wake the older man up, but he knew Yoochun was much more tired than he was, and he could join him for breakfast as soon as he got up.
The woman at the counter looked up and smiled kindly at him when he walked down the staircase that divided the rooms in the upper floor from the bar and dining room downstairs. The place looked old and a bit dusty but was surprisingly welcoming, with its wooden walls covered in paintings and pictures of local landscapes and colorful tablecloths. Changmin went to sit down at a table near a window, and the woman appeared at his side moments later.
“Hello” she said cheerfully “did you sleep well?”
Changmin smiled and nodded, ordering breakfast with his limited english. He should've probably waited for Yoochun, who was much better than him, but she seemed to understand his difficulties and waited patiently for him to make up his mind.
The scrambled eggs were delicious, soft and made tastier by bits of bacon, and Changmin devoured them in a flash; she laughed when he asked for more, and started chatting amiably to him while he sipped one of her shakes – sweet and mild and so thick it was almost hard to suck through the straw – replying with some hesitant words here and there.
A red striped cat crossed the room and jumped into Changmin's lap boldly, looking up with insolent amber eyes.
“Shoo, shoo” he said with irritation, “I have nothing for you.”
“Leave him alone, I think he likes you” a familiar voice said. Changmin looked up to see Yoochun coming down the stairs and smiling widely at him, and he couldn’t help but smile back. Yoochun’s smile was always hard to resist, and it made Changmin feel happy for no reason at all.
“Here” he told Yoochun when the other sat down beside him, dumping the cat in his lap with a mischievous smirk “you can have him.”
Yoochun laughed and started scratching the cat behind his ears. “Good morning yourself” he said, giving Changmin another amused smile, and Changmin decided he really liked the little crinkles at the corner of Yoochun’s eyes when he smiled like that.
It was going to be a nice day, he was sure of it.
They crossed and left the city of Flagstaff, stopping only to fill up before taking Interstate 40, driving towards the Painted Desert; it was one of the places Changmin remembered the best, and they were both eager to get there.
Gradually the houses and buildings along the road started to disappear, replaced by colorful cliffs polished by centuries of wind and rain; their eyes widened, again, when they entered the heart of the desert, an endless stretch of smooth, rounded hills of dazzling colors that gave the place its name. Anywhere they looked it was a rainbow of vermilion and coral and purple and scarlet, streaked by white and ochre and dotted by the silver gleam of sagebrush shrubs. The sight was breathtaking, almost moving in its beauty.
“Let’s go here” Changmin said suddenly, pointing at a spot on the map. It was a tiny lake, merely a blue dot among yellow, away from the interstate but near to one of the secondary roads that crossed the desert from north to south.
“Okay” Yoochun grinned, peering at the map “but it’s your responsibility if we get lost in the middle of the desert and die of thirst somewhere.”
“Unlike someone else, I can read a map” Changmin bantered “I was right the other time too, remember?”
Yoochun sighed dramatically. “Alright, alright, my life is in your hands!” he exclaimed, and Changmin gave him a playful shove.
They left the car by the roadside, venturing on foot through a nearly invisible track that snaked among the rocks and discovering very soon that it was harder and longer than what they had expected.
“Remind me not to agree to your suggestions anymore” panted Yoochun, slipping for the nth time on loose soil and creating a miniature avalanche of small rocks. “Now I understand why they call these places badlands, too.”
“Stop complaining and save your breath” Changmin grunted, “We just reached the lake.”
He waited for Yoochun to join him on top of a rocky dune; below them the land sloped gently downwards to form a small basin, and in the middle of it was the lake, nestled among the red dunes like a perfect little gem. The sun gleamed in golden flecks on the green and turquoise surface, as if beckoning them to go ahead.
“Last one to the lake is a rotten egg!” shouted Yoochun, flinging himself down the slope before Changmin had the time to process his words, and when Changmin did the other was already halfway to the lake.
“Wait, it’s not fair!” Changmin roared, setting off in Yoochun’s pursuit as fast as he could, while the wind carried the echo of the older man’s laughter back to him, and he realized he was laughing like a child too.
The distance between them kept shortening, until Changmin was close enough to take a leap and tackle Yoochun down, stopping him before he reached the water, and they both fell face first into the sandy shore.
“Got you!” Changmin said triumphantly, sitting down on Yoochun’s back. Yoochun raised his head and coughed out sand, trying to struggle free from under him.
“Damn you and your ridiculously long legs” he muttered, and Changmin slapped his ass playfully.
“You shouldn’t challenge me when you know you’re going to lose” he advised snidely. “Saves you a lot of embarrassment.”
“Next time I’ll ask for a bigger head start, then” Yoochun concluded. “And get off me, you’re heavy.”
Changmin pulled himself to his feet and held out his hand to help Yoochun up; they shook the sand off their clothes in silence, admiring the blue stretch of water in front of them.
“Why don’t we– ”
“I think we could– ”
They both stopped, knowing they were going to suggest the same thing.
“Why not? There’s nobody else around” Yoochun said, and Changmin nodded and started taking off his clothes. He couldn’t help but notice the subtle shift in the atmosphere from relaxed to awkward, though, and when he took off his underwear they both had their backs to each other. He remembered a time when they had no problem stripping in front of each other, but now there was something different than before, something that hung unspoken between them and made him feel confused and light-headed.
He turned around only when he felt the splash of Yoochun’s body hitting the water and jumped in too, swimming for a few meters; the water was cooler than he expected, and wrapped his body in a liquid caress.
“It’s nice, isn’t it?” Yoochun said, letting the water support his weight as he floated on the surface. “But how is it possible for such a small lake to resist in the desert?”
“I think there’s an underwater spring or something” Changmin replied. “It’s the only possible explanat– Aaaahh!!” he shrieked, just before a small wave of obviously unnatural origins crashed down on his head.
Yoochun had approached him in silence from behind, and now was bent over laughing at the sight of an indignant Changmin coughing and spluttering out water. Changmin was a little less amused, though.
“You. Are. Dead.” he said, slowly and menacingly, and Yoochun had almost no time to swim away before Changmin was on him, grabbing his shoulder and dunking his head underwater while the other struggled helplessly in his iron grip.
“Okay, okay, stop!” Yoochun yelled frantically, looking like a half-drowned rat. “You win!”
Changmin smirked and let him go. “This just proves what I said earlier, hyung” he said smugly, but he let Yoochun hold on to him to catch his breath with the magnanimity of the winner.
“Go to hell” the older man grumbled; his lips were already opening in a smile, though, and before they knew it they were clinging to each other and laughing like children, wet and breathless and happy.
As the laughter gradually faded into silence Changmin looked into Yoochun’s eyes, finding himself unable to look away. He suddenly felt aware of everything, Yoochun’s fingers sinking into the muscles of his arms, Yoochun’s warm breath on his face, Yoochun’s foot hooked behind his calf, and realized he wanted more of that. More of him.
“Changmin” Yoochun whispered, and it was neither a question nor an invitation; it just was, and Changmin figured it was permission enough. His hand found Yoochun’s face, tracing his chin and jaw with light fingers, up to the curve of his cheek; the older man smiled hesitantly, and Changmin couldn’t resist running the pads of his fingers across his mouth, following the soft bow of his bottom lip.
He kept exploring Yoochun’s face with his hands in a silence broken only by their breathing; it seemed as if the world itself was holding his breath in anticipation, not just them.
Yoochun’s hand curled around the nape of his neck, tugging him forward gently, and there was no doubt that was an invitation; they moved towards each other almost in sync, closing the distance between them until their lips met, shy as inexperienced teenagers.
They kissed with tentative little touches, at first, both eager to let themselves go but at the same time unwilling, confused and scared by what was happening. But there was no turning back from this, Changmin knew: they’d waited long enough. He bit down on Yoochun’s bottom lip delicately, drawing it inside his mouth, sucking gently on it until he felt Yoochun relax and start to respond with more passion, taking Changmin in as if he were the oxygen keeping him alive.
They kissed for what seemed forever, barely pausing to breathe, and even then their mouths kept brushing against each other in slow, open-mouthed kisses; it was languid and unhurried and wonderful, and Changmin was grateful they were standing in shallow water, because otherwise he was sure they would have both drowned, by now.
“I…I think I need to get out and sit down” Changmin said when they finally parted, feeling dizzy and not completely sure of his legs’ ability of taking him out of the lake.
He reached the shore without even looking at Yoochun and lay down on the first flat rock he found. It was smooth and warm against his back, and he just looked up for a while, his mind completely blank. A solitary hawk traced endless circles against a perfectly blue sky, so he followed his flight with his eyes until a dark, dripping shadow fell over him, raining little droplets on his drying skin.
Yoochun sat down beside him, searching his face with unsure but gentle eyes.
“Can I kiss you again?” he finally said, sweeping Changmin’s wet hair off his forehead tenderly.
“There’s no need to ask” Changmin smiled, and pulled him down for another kiss.
The Grand Canyon. Changmin still remembered the first time he'd seen it, so many years ago; he had jumped down their van with the others running after him, and they'd stopped at the very edge, looking at the landscape with bewildered eyes. No matter how many times they'd seen the Canyon in pictures and movies, nothing could compare to seeing it in front of their very eyes.
Like an ancient wound the abyss sank down, following the sinuous curves of the river that had created it with breathtaking vertical cliffs; it made him feel so young and small, but the stark, sweeping view gave him a sense of quiet, invincible power at the same time. It felt good, it felt like he could do everything and be everything he wanted.
Now he was standing in the same place as then, and even if he had only Yoochun at his side he thought he could feel the others' presence too, somehow, as if they were all connected in some mysterious way. He'd always laughed at that kind of thing, but until now he'd never realized how strong and deep the bond between them ran. He had tried to break it, uselessly, never realizing there was no reason to. He would always need it in a way or another, he finally knew.
“I wonder what the others are doing” said Yoochun, echoing his thoughts. He was staring at that picture of the five of them together again, but now his smile looked peaceful and unclouded.
“I'm sure they're doing fine” Changmin replied. Yoochun looked at the photograph one last time and then threw it over the cliff; it floated up towards the azure sky, carried by invisible currents, until it disappeared from their sight.
“Why did you do it?” Changmin asked, surprised. He thought that picture was very important to him.
“I don't need it anymore. It's stupid living on a memory when you can have the real thing, isn't it?”
“Yes, it is,” Changmin laughed, taking his hand and dragging him towards the car, “even if I'm afraid that after a week of Junsu’s terrible jokes we’ll want to run away again.”
They followed the southern edge of the Canyon for nearly the whole day, stopping only when it was too dark to see and they were starting to feel hungry. The area they reached was full of tourists, and in the air the smell of grilled fish and meat mingled with the chatter and laughs of the crowd and with the loud calls of the sellers.
Yoochun suggested dining at a small steak house away from the main road and therefore less crowded; they sat outside on the brick patio, decorated with colorful wooden chairs and strings of lights, and enjoyed their dinner surrounded by the soft music playing in the background.
Everything was perfect, and after his wedge of chocolate cream pie Changmin felt completely at peace with the whole world. He was caressing Yoochun’s calf idly with his naked foot under the table, watching him through half-lidded eyes; Yoochun’s gaze was on him, warm, dark and enticing, and he shivered in anticipation when the older man outstretched his arm and brushed his fingers across the back of Changmin’s hand lightly, almost teasingly.
“We should get going” Yoochun whispered in a low voice, husky enough to make his heart beat faster. He nodded and stood up from the table, feeling his heart race in an odd mix of excitement and apprehension.
Changmin leaned back against the hood of the car, moaning softly into Yoochun’s mouth as they pressed hard against each other and rocked their clothed bodies together; he’d been craving that kind of contact during all the short ride that had brought them to a more secluded place, away from people and prying eyes, and the warmth of Yoochun’s hand caressing his thigh as he drove surely hadn’t helped to quench his desire.
He hooked a leg around Yoochun’s waist, dragging him down on top of him, and the older man responded with a low moan of his own, rolling his hips against Changmin’s in a way that made the younger man see white; he was already so hard he was sure he was going to explode, if nobody did anything about it.
Yoochun’s tongue traced a wet path down the side of his neck, lapping at a patch of skin under his ear and then moving up to nibble on the soft lobe, playing with the silver stud that pierced through the tender flesh. All the younger man could do was throw his head back with a shaky moan and give Yoochun better access to explore him, to map out all his sensitive spots with his skilled tongue.
“God, Yoochun” he groaned, threading his fingers through the other man’s hair, angling his head so he could crash their mouths together again. He rained clumsy, open mouthed kisses on Yoochun’s mouth, jaw, throat, with a frenzy that he couldn’t explain himself; he just knew that he needed to touch, taste, explore, imprint in his mind the texture of Yoochun’s skin and the softness of his flesh.
The other man pulled away breathlessly, but his mouth lingered for a moment longer on the corner of Changmin’s mouth for a sweet kiss.
“Take it slow, Changminah, ” he purred, stroking Changmin’s neck tenderly “we have all the time we want.”
Changmin wanted to reply that no, they didn’t, that he wanted Yoochun and wanted him now, but something in his gentleness had the power to win him over every time; he watched Yoochun trail his fingers down the front of his shirt, unbutton it slowly and follow the growing expanse of exposed skin with his lips, and felt himself growing even harder.
He pushed the older man away just enough to tug at his shirt and take it off completely; his skin glowed smooth and pale in the moonlight, making Changmin ache to touch him. He slid his hand down the curve of his shoulder and the heaving expanse of his chest, brushing the tip of his fingers across a chocolate-colored nipple, small and dark against milky skin. Yoochun sucked in a startled gasp and arched against his palm, and Changmin felt the pebbled flesh harden under his touch; grinning a little he closed his mouth around the other one, scraping it gently with his teeth, sucked harder on it when Yoochun cried in pleasure and bucked his hips against Changmin's crotch. Such sensitive nipples, he thought, he had to remember that.
Yoochun looked at him appraisingly, sliding a hand down Changmin's side to stop at his belt; his fingers skimmed over quivering flesh, lingering teasingly along the hem of Changmin's pants.
“Take them off for me” he whispered into the younger man's ear, slowly and seductively sweet, making Changmin's cock twitch in anticipation inside its tight confines. He reached down to unfasten his belt and pants, trying to push them down with one hand while the other was smoothing up and down Yoochun's back. He felt the vibration of the older man's chuckle against the side of his neck as his fingers slid down his stomach to curl around the hem of his pants and briefs, helping him pull them down completely.
Changmin sighed in relief when his cock could finally spring free, the night air deliciously cool against his flushed skin and Yoochun's hand burning hot against the inside of his thigh. He caught Yoochun's eyes watching him intensely, full of wonder, lust and tenderness at the same time, and he felt his cheeks flush under his gaze. A small, small part of him was yelling at him to stop, felt embarrassed of being so naked and exposed under the eyes of someone that had been a friend and a brother, told him that he’d never had similar feelings for him before. But hadn’t he? Changmin wasn’t sure of it anymore.
“Changmin?” Yoochun asked, uncertainty clear in his voice. “Do you want to…stop?”
“No.” he growled, pushing aside his last doubts. He spread his legs wide and planted the soles of his feet firmly against the hood. “Don't make me think, now. Just touch me.”
Yoochun slid down from the hood smoothly to stand up in front of him, drinking in the sight of him with a look that turned Changmin on even more, if possible. He made a needy, impatient noise and arched his back, pushing his groin up towards the other man.
“Please,” he said, in a voice thick with desire, “just touch me.”
The feel of Yoochun’s warm mouth closing around his cock for the first time was mind blowing: it was as if every fiber of his being was focused on what Yoochun was doing, the pleasure heightened, multiplied. Yoochun’s tongue traced a wet path down the inside of his erection, circled his weeping head with hungry, wet licks, sucking away droplets of precome greedily.
Changmin didn’t even bother to hold back his moans anymore, his sweaty hands clawing at the smooth surface of the car and trying uselessly to hold on to something; and then Yoochun looked up at him, all hooded eyes and swollen red lips, and took him in as deep as he could, humming something around Changmin’s cock that made him lose the last shreds of control he had. He came into Yoochun’s mouth fast and hard, his hand finding Yoochun’s and gripping it tightly as the older man eased him through the last moments of his orgasm.
“You last less than a hormonal teenager, Changmin,” Yoochun said with amusement, wiping smudges of Changmin’s come away from his mouth, “I’m glad to see some things never change.”
Changmin snorted and nudged him with his foot. “But you should at least be glad I recover fast” he panted, still trying to get his breath back. He pushed himself up in a sitting position and drew Yoochun into him, kissing him deeply and languorously until he couldn’t tell their tastes apart anymore.
“We are not done here, yet,” he said, biting down on Yoochun's earlobe lightly and rubbing his thigh against the bulge in his pants, “and I want to do things properly.”
Yoochun stared at him, surprise written on his face.
“Are you sure? We don't have to, you know.”
“I want to.” Changmin replied, “I've waited long enough.”
“We should get a bit more comfortable, then.” Yoochun grinned, dragging him away from the hood. He climbed into the back seat first, and for the first time Changmin noticed something.
“Your tattoo” he said, unconsciously reaching out to follow the curve of the T with a curious finger.
Yoochun turned his head to glance at him. “What about it?”
“Nothing, it's just...I had almost forgotten how it looked like” he said fondly. He spelled the letters with the tip of his fingers, down until he reached the hem of Yoochun's jeans.
“And these need to come off” he concluded inconsequentially, reaching to the front to unzip them. He tugged pants and underwear down Yoochun's legs until the older man could kick them away and then climbed beside him on the seat. His sense of urgency of before had died down, replaced by a feeling of contentment that made him want to take things slowly and savor the moment, just like Yoochun wanted. Pressing closer to his warm body, he started kissing and nibbling on the nape of his neck and down his spine, counting each bump with his lips until he reached the tattoo again; he couldn't tell why he felt so fascinated by it, but the way those black gothic swirls bloomed on Yoochun's pale skin made him want to explore every inch of it with his tongue.
He ran his tongue along the T again, tasting salt and skin, and Yoochun moaned softly, looked back at him with hooded eyes.
“Do that again” he whispered, and Changmin flattened his tongue against his back again, tracing the intricate shape of the V obediently and getting another sigh of pleasure from Yoochun. The ink looked a bit faded, but it was still there, and he knew that no matter what the other man would carry their group's name engraved in his skin until the day he died. All of them would, even if not always in such an obvious way.
TVFXQ he spelled, pressing down hard with his tongue, making Yoochun arch his back to meet his kisses. TVFXQ.
He tasted the skin at the small of Yoochun’s back down to his tailbone, nipping at it gently. Yoochun made a soft keening noise and squirmed, rummaging under the seat until he found what he was looking for.
“Here” he said, passing him a tube of hand cream. “Sorry, it's all I have” he said apologetically, and Changmin would've laughed at the absurdity of the situation hadn't he been feeling rock hard again with Yoochun's ass right in front of his face.
The cream was cool on his fingers, and Yoochun hissed quietly when Changmin dragged a finger down the cleft of his ass and inside him, breaching him as gently as he could.
“How many… do you need?” he asked with some embarrassment. He'd slept with men only occasionally, and the last thing he wanted was to hurt Yoochun out of inexperience. They did look like clumsy teenagers during their first time, he thought with a hint of amusement.
“Three,” Yoochun replied with a little grimace, “it's been a while since the last time.”
“Mmh” Changmin nodded, pushing the second finger inside. He felt the other man’s muscles relax gradually, until he was sure he could add a third one.
“Is it okay?” he whispered, caressing Yoochun’s back with his lips to distract him from the uncomfortable feeling. Yoochun moaned and started pushing back against Changmin, lust and arousal getting the best of him as he tried to fuck himself on the younger man’s fingers.
“Just do it” he groaned through clenched teeth. Changmin slid his fingers out and lubed himself up quickly while Yoochun turned around to face him.
“I want to see you” he offered simply, in response to Changmin’s look. He looked beautiful, naked against dark red leather, open and hard for him, and he couldn’t resist stealing another fleeting kiss from his lips.
“Yoochun” he whispered against his mouth as he pushed inside him slowly, feeling Yoochun’s fingers tangle in his hair and his tight heat close around his cock in a way that made him moan and dig his fingers into the other man’s thighs.
He sunk deep into Yoochun’s body, down to his core, and their joined cries of pleasure resounded sweet in Changmin’s ears, oddly attuned to each other. He thrust inside his lover again, and again, letting his body take control and find a rhythm with Yoochun’s, trying to kiss and touch and feel him everywhere at once; his nails digging into Changmin’s shoulders, his mouth hot and impatient against his own, his body wrapped around his as they rocked the car together.
It was over all too fast, too soon; he came in a flash of blinding light that clouded his senses for a moment, if possible even harder than the first time, with Yoochun’s name on his lips and Yoochun’s moans in his ears.
He slumped against the older man’s chest, feeling so exhausted he couldn’t even move. Yoochun’s come was all over their stomachs, slick and wet, but right then he didn’t care, and he let the older man wrap his arms around him and hold him close in a sleepy, sated embrace. He thought he felt Yoochun kiss his sweaty forehead and whisper something sweet in his ear, but then exhaustion had the best of him and he closed his eyes, drifting into a peaceful sleep.
They said goodbye to Arizona and the Grand Canyon early that morning, driving towards Las Vegas where a flight for South Korea was waiting for them. Changmin watched the majestic landscape disappear gradually with every turn of the road, thanking it silently; that trip had given him much more than what he had hoped for.
“What are you thinking about?” Yoochun asked, peering curiously at his face. “You have a weird expression.”
Changmin stared at him. “How is it weird? And you better pay attention to the road, I wouldn’t appreciate it if we finished our lives here just because you can’t take your eyes off me.” he replied, raising an eyebrow at Yoochun. The older man laughed heartily and poked him in the ribs before turning his attention back to the road.
“You had an unusually tender expression, so I wondered what you were thinking about.”
“I was thinking about these days.” Changmin said in a softer voice, fiddling idly with the camera in his lap. “And about home.”
Yoochun smiled too. “We’ll be home soon.”
Incheon International Airport, 17.15
“Why do I have to carry your bag too?” Yoochun whined, struggling under the combined weight of his and Changmin’s luggage. Changmin kept walking ahead of him, searching for Jaejoong, Yunho or Junsu in the crowd, and ignored his protests.
“Because you slept with your head in my lap the whole time, so I couldn’t even go to the bathroom. And you drooled on my pants, so now I look like I pissed myself for real.” Changmin replied, marching ahead with his handbag strategically placed in front of him. “You need to make up for it.”
Yoochun looked at him like a kicked puppy but didn’t dare complain further, too busy trying to keep up with Changmin’s long strides; the crowd was thick, and there was no sign of their three former bandmates.
“Changmin! Yoochun! We’re here!” a familiar voice shouted, making more than one head turn in their direction. Changmin watched, transfixed, a grinning Jaejoong wave at him, exactly like he’d pictured him in his mind, with Junsu on his left and Yunho on his right, both smiling widely. He heard Yoochun’s bags hit the floor with a thud, and before he realized it they were all running towards each other, meeting halfway in a giant hug. He didn’t even know who he was holding anymore, but all that mattered was that wonderful sensation of having finally returned to something he belonged to.
“Hey, aren’t you forgetting someone?”
Changmin looked up from Junsu’s shoulder to see Yunho limping towards them on crutches, smiling even if his face looked pale and haggard, and he remembered about the car accident.
“Yunho hyung!!!” he and Yoochun cried at the same time, running to him and hugging the older man fiercely.
“How are you?” Yoochun asked. “We’ve heard of the accident.”
“I’m fine, my leg will heal in a few weeks.”
“How did it happen? I bet it was because Jaejoong hyung distracted you in some way” Changmin said slyly, but he wasn’t quick enough to dodge Jaejoong's hand, which collided none-too-gently with the back of his head.
“It wasn’t” Yunho laughed, putting himself in-between the bickering Jaejoong-Changmin pair subtly. Once their band leader, forever their band leader, Changmin thought with fond amusement.
Judging from his amused grin, Jaejoong was having similar thoughts too: his hand lingered on Yunho’s hip, and for a fleeting instant they exchanged a tender, knowing look. It was gone in an instant, but Changmin felt his heart ache and pressed closer to Yoochun, unconsciously brushing their hands together. When he looked up, Jaejoong eyes were on him. The former lead singer gave him a long, searching look, the I-want-to-know-the-details kind, but didn’t say anything.
“What are you going to do, tonight?” Junsu cut in. “We could go somewhere to celebrate, now that we’re all together!”
“It’s a great idea,” Jaejoong said, nudging Junsu teasingly, “so you can talk Yoochun and Changmin’s ears off about your baby boy, for a change.”
Junsu looked indignant. “I don’t talk about him all the time! But my KiHyeon is awesome, you should come and see him one of these days” he said, with all the pride of a young father.
“KiHyeon? We should’ve known” Changmin laughed. Trust Junsu to give his son the name of one of his soccer idols.
“It’s a wonderful name!” Junsu protested. “What’s wrong–”
“Boys, boys” Yunho cut in with his best leader voice, as if they still were bickering 18-years-old. It worked, though, because it made Junsu laugh and shut up.
“Where are you staying, Yoochun? I’ve still got the keys of your old apartment, but you can come and stay with me and Yunho, if you want” Jaejoong said, looking at Yoochun gently. Changmin saw Yoochun bite his lips and look down, unshed tears of relief and gratitude shining in his eyes.
Without thinking, he put an arm around Yoochun's waist, pulling him closer to his side.
“I think we could both stay in his old apartment,” he told Jaejoong “my place is much farther to yours and Junsu's than his is, after all, and I don't think he'll mind me being there.”
Jaejoong's grin was even wider, this time, and best thing of all, he looked genuinely happy to see them again. The older man ruffled Changmin's hair with a mischievous smirk, winking at him.
“We'll be going ahead to get the car, you take your bags and then join us, okay?” he said, flicking his head towards the pile of bags still lying in the middle of the floor.
“See you later!” Junsu grinned, and the three of them left towards the exit, Junsu and Jaejoong flanking Yunho and helping him walk. The last thing Changmin heard was Yunho protesting he wasn't a cripple - Yet Jaejoong replied, because if you keep whining I'm going to break your other leg myself - and the other two laughing his protest off.
“Shhh, it's okay” he whispered to Yoochun, stroking his back comfortingly. His shoulders were shaking, and his face, half-hidden under his hair, was streaked with tears.
Changmin led him to a more private place behind a pillar and held him close, rocking him in his arms while Yoochun cried silently on his shoulder.
“There's no need to cry,” he murmured in his ear “they welcomed us back.”
Yoochun looked up at him, and Changmin wiped away his tears clumsily, but as gently as he could.
“I don't want to leave anymore,” he hiccupped, “I’m staying here in Korea. Home.”
Changmin smiled, feeling relieved. He had been secretly fearing Yoochun would leave again, and the thought hurt him more than he wanted to admit.
“Did you find what you were looking for, then?” he asked. Yoochun laid his hand on his cheek, tucking a stray lock behind his ear, and leant in to kiss him lightly; Changmin tasted the salty bitterness of his tears, and behind them the sweetness of his smile.
“Yes, I think I have.”