Welcome to Bermuda Jonghyun/Onew, Jonghyun/Key; NC-17 ; 9600 wds. Jinki shrieks, and in the mirror, Kibum's reflection shrieks at the same time, staring back at him with an aghast, horrified expression.
Jinki has never experienced a stranger Friday in his life.
The day starts off similar to any other, with beeping alarms and tissue-thin sunshine and a whole-body ache that means he's just barely slept. What's different about this particular Friday, is that when Jinki groans and rolls over to burrow his head under a pillow, he rolls right off the edge of the bed and falls about four feet down.
And when he lands, he lands on top of a blanket-cocooned lump that cusses like a sailor, then proceeds to flail out from underneath him and the covers, managing to jab an elbow into Jinki's solar plexus in the process. Then this person finally emerges, hair sticking up in twenty directions, looking both groggy and irate.
And this cranky landed-on person looks exactly like Jinki.
Jinki draws in a breath — though it's tough, with the wind having mostly been knocked out of his lungs — and he screams.
The Jinki-Who-Isn't opens his sleep-squinted eyes as wide as saucers, staring up at the real Jinki in horror, and starts screaming back.
Approximately fifteen seconds later, Jinki's freak clone or evil twin or whatever he is has dragged him out of the bed and into the bathroom, locking the door behind them both. Then the clone-twin grabs Jinki by the shoulders — he's still sort of panicking and hyperventilating — and forces him to turn towards the mirror.
Jinki shrieks, and in the mirror, Kibum's reflection shrieks at the same time, staring back at him with an aghast, horrified expression.
It's — he's in — their bodies have —
"Kibum?" Jinki whispers, and Kibum's voice comes out of his throat, hoarse and uncertain.
In the mirror, Jinki's reflection nods a slow confirmation, then says, "Jinki-hyung?"
"Yeah... yeah, it's me," Jinki says, even though this whole thing feels surreal, like maybe he's still asleep and dreaming somehow. Just to check, he pinches himself on the arm and then yelps because ow that stings. Kibum's arms are a lot skinnier than what Jinki's used to. Anyway, this must mean he's awake, for real.
"Hyung," Kibum-inside-Jinki says, mouth contorting into a scowl that looks bizarre on Jinki's face. "Hyung, what the freaking fuck happened to us?"
"Well," Jinki says, wetting his lips. In the mirror, Kibum's tongue darts out of his mouth to echo it, and that is just. That's so weird. "I think we, uh — I think we switched bodies."
"Yeah, no shit," Kibum snorts, then gestures broadly and Jinki has to dodge so that his own hand doesn't smack him in his — wait, Kibum's — head. "But we need to figure out why; and, more importantly, how we switch back. Like, right now."
"Okay," Jinki says, nodding, the wheels in his mind already turning overtime. "Okay, well, we could have been cursed? By, you know, a witch doctor. Or an evil wizard, or something."
Jinki's own brown eyes stare back at him for a few seconds, creepy and blank, and then Kibum is saying, "Were you really second in your class, hyung? No, seriously, were you?"
Before Jinki can speak up to defend himself, Kibum waves the question off, saying, "Whatever. Let's just skip the 'why' part, and go straight to the 'how the hell do we fix this' part."
"Right," Jinki agrees, and then wishes he hadn't, because now Kibum is giving him a very strange look. Jinki can't recognize the look because he's never seen it on himself before, but it's actually sort of terrifying, if he's being honest.
"So, I have an idea," Kibum says, slowly, and takes a few steps closer. He reaches out and grasps Jinki's shoulders, and Jinki's stomach does a weird, trembling sort of flutter, like a bird trapped in the claws of a feline. Kibum is still wearing the strangest look on Jinki's face, only it keeps getting closer, and closer, because Kibum is bringing their faces together, and when they're only an inch apart he growls, "Don't you dare move," and then there's no space left at all because they're kissing.
A tiny, incoherent part of Jinki's brain is shrieking at him that this is so messed up, because technically he's being kissed by himself, and that's just a whole universe of weird and wrong. But then that tiny part of his brain burns up like a dried leaf in a candle flame when Kibum's lips — my lips — pry his apart, and then Kibum's tongue — my tongue — is in his mouth, and white-hot shivers race through Jinki from head to toe, and he finds that his brain has shut down in what can only be a desperate effort to preserve his sanity.
"Shit," Kibum curses an indefinite amount of seconds later, pulling back. He looks chagrined, and that's one expression Jinki is pretty familiar with. "Well, that didn't work," he mutters. Jinki can only blink at him, speechless, and after a moment of this the other boy turns red, snapping, "Stop staring at me like that; it was worth a shot, alright?"
Even though Jinki fails to see the logic in this, he nods, because usually it's just easier to agree with Kibum; also because he's still sort of dazed. "So what do we try next?" he asks, when he realizes he has zero ideas of his own.
"Nothing," the other boy says, fingers tugging in frustration at Jinki's sleep-tousled hair. "We don't have time. We're just going to have to go through the day stuck like this, and hope nobody figures out what happened to us."
"I don't know," Jinki says, doubtful. "You really think we can pull that off?"
"No, hyung, of course I don't," Kibum scowls. "But it's not like we can just tell everyone; they'll freak out and lock us in a science lab or something."
"Oh, oh no," Jinki says, fretting. "What if body-switching is against our contract? What if they kick us out of the group?"
Dropping his head into his hands, Kibum's next words come out muffled through Jinki's fingers. "Hyung. Please. Please try not to say stuff like that when you're being me, okay?"
"I. Um. I'll try," Jinki agrees, but while still wringing his hands, because it's a perfectly valid question, isn't it? And he wants to ask Kibum if he could maybe, possibly, try to be a tiny bit nicer — because, you know, Onew — but when the other boy looks up at him again, Jinki's eyes are black like two sunken holes in his face. Jinki thinks it might be Kibum's dangerous Heads-Will-Roll expression. So Jinki just keeps his mouth shut, because he would like all his appendages to stay where they are.
Although, Jinki reasons, this might be his one and only chance to speak his mind around the other boy — because Kibum is hardly likely to cause bodily harm to his own body, right?
Summoning his mental list of Things He'd Tell People if He Had the Guts, Jinki flashes past his thousands of entries for Jonghyun and skips to Kibum, and is just opening his mouth to let loose a torrent of Kibum sometimes you're so selfish immature crazy hilarious awesome confusing, please make up your mind — then the other boy glances back and Jinki knows that face well enough to catch a glimpse of how scared Kibum is, too, and the words die unspoken.
"It's going to be okay, don't worry," Jinki finds himself saying instead, though he doesn't know if even he believes this; still, the lie is worth it for the tentative smile Kibum flashes at him, face lighting up for a second with hope before darkening again.
In the privacy of his own thoughts, Jinki prays this is just some kind of weird twenty-four hour sickness, like a stomach flu or whatever, because he has no idea how the two of them are going to survive just one day as each other, let alone anything longer.
Needless to say, their usual morning routine is completely blown by the time they emerge from the bathroom to face the puzzled looks of their fellow members. Jinki has to spend five minutes in a spare room calming himself down after he goes pee in Kibum's body, which had to have been the single most embarrassing moment of his life, and not to mention his aim had been off because he'd had his eyes squeezed shut the whole time.
Later, when he finally manages to sort through Kibum's side of the closet to find clean clothes, he gets shrieked at for having on what apparently equates to a fashion apocalypse, which Kibum won't let himself get caught dead in. After that he has to endure twenty minutes of Kibum dressing up his own body like a mannequin, and okay it's kind of fun in a weird way. But all and all, by they time they head to the kitchen — switching places at the last second to sit in each other's usual chairs — they are very much behind schedule.
Breakfast that morning is an awkward affair. Jinki and Kibum use the strategy of keeping their faces stuffed with food as much as possible in order to avoid speaking and potentially giving themselves away. This strategy also has the added benefit of allowing them to dodge questions from Jonghyun and Taemin and Minho, who are all insisting to know why Kibum and Jinki had woken up screaming and locking themselves in the bathroom.
"Spider," Kibum mutters around a large glob of rice. Luckily, the manager comes in then and saves them.
Taking off to go to practice is a relief, but also causes a tight ball of dread to settle in the pit of Jinki's stomach as he contemplates trying to be Kibum in the dance room instead of his normal, stumbling self. Actually, just thinking about being Kibum in general causes Jinki to break out in a sweat, and he is so lost in his thoughts that when Jonghyun leans into him Jinki very nearly leaps out of his skin. Or Kibum's skin. Whatever.
They are downstairs on the street and waiting for the van, and Jonghyun is slipping his hand into Jinki's hand in the same way Jinki has watched Jonghyun and Kibum do just about every single day that he's known them.
Jinki stiffens up, standing there like a stone statue and resisting the automatic urge to lace his cold fingers with Jonghyun's warm ones. But then he wonders if holding back seems suspicious, and remains frozen between weird giddiness and oh-god-does-my-palm-feel-clammy, swaying side to side until Jonghyun turns to him with a look that is part amusement, part irritation, and part something else. Jinki's breath catches in his throat, his heart starts beating just a little bit quicker.
That's when Jonghyun says, "So, you're really not gonna tell me what you and hyung were doing in the bathroom, huh?"
Jinki bites back a reflexive apology, instead wracking his brains for words Kibum might say in such a situation. "Why, are you jealous?" he says and forces a laugh, but his tone ends up sounding more anxious than teasing, and maybe that's the reason Jonghyun fixes him with a strange, sideways look.
"Are you trying to be funny?" Jonghyun frowns, pulling his hand away.
"Er," Jinki says, because yeah, he was — that hadn't worked out though, obviously.
But before Jonghyun can reply, Jinki feels his shoulder being yanked on, pulling him backwards and flailing away from Jonghyun, over towards the van that has just pulled up, and suddenly it's Kibum's arm wrapping around his neck like a vise, and the other boy is using Jinki's overbright, too-cheerful voice to say, "Ride with me today, Kibummie, you never sit with me anymore."
And then Jinki is being bundled into the last row of seats with Kibum shoving in beside him, hissing, "We need to talk," into Jinki's ear. The door slams shut once everyone else is in, and the van pulls away from the curb, beginning to weave its way through the noisy city traffic.
"Talk about what?" Jinki whispers back, baffled by the other boy's furtive behavior.
Kibum suddenly becomes very preoccupied with messing with Jinki's hairstyle and cursing Jinki's overlong bangs, brushing them out of his eyes only to have them fall back into place. "Ugh. How do you even see through all this shit, I swear to god —"
"Kibum," Jinki says, with an edge of whine in his tone — there, he's starting to sound like the other boy already.
"Okay, fine," Kibum huffs, and then bends his head closer to Jinki's, lowering his voice again. "I just — hyung, you know about me and Jonghyun, right?"
Jinki's blood runs hot, then cold, because that isn't what he was expecting to hear at all, and it hits him like a sucker-punch to the stomach. But, yeah. He does know. Maybe he could be kind of clueless sometimes, but Jinki'd have to have been dead to not notice that two of his closest friends are sleeping together on a semi-regular basis.
"I... yes," Jinki answers, after a long moment of hesitation.
"Good," Kibum says, watching him, gaze intent. "So you understand why Jonghyun, out of everybody, can't know about what happened to us."
Enlightenment dawns then, and Jinki whips back, adamantly shaking his head. "No. Oh, no. I can't — we can't — just, no way. Not happening." But in spite of his refusal, Jinki's treacherous imagination is already conjuring pictures of him and Jonghyun, doing things, things like Jonghyun and Kibum must do. He can't help it: a tremor races down his spine like the brush of a fingertip.
"Keep your voice down," Kibum hisses, grabbing Jinki's collar and dragging him close again. "And yes, you can. You have to."
"B-but what if he, you know," here Jinki has to pause, swallowing, "What if he pounces on me? Kibum, he's your —"
"He's my friend, that's all. It's not like we're dating or anything." The other boy is shrugging, acting nonchalant, but he's looking out the window now, then picking non-existent lint specks off Jinki's t-shirt, and not meeting Jinki's eyes anymore.
"It's no big deal," Kibum insists almost angrily, when Jinki doesn't speak. "Geez, don't be such a prissy little girl, hyung; I know you're not a virgin."
Feeling his cheeks start to burn, Jinki puts away the urge to ask the other boy how he could possibly know that, focusing on the more important matter at hand. "Wait. You're saying if Jonghyun... if he kisses me, I'm just supposed to — supposed to —"
"You're supposed to be me, alright?" Kibum says, voice like steel, and damn but Jinki needs to learn how to sound like that for himself. "At least until we get this shit sorted out."
Jinki tries to imagine himself kissing Jonghyun, and it's surprisingly easy, for all that he's spent the past few years practicing how not to imagine just that — and then he tries to think about going back to normal afterward, and going back to watching Kibum and Jonghyun be together, every day, and going back to ripping himself apart inside for wanting things he shouldn't want and can't ever have.
"Kibum," he starts, dragging the word out slowly, reluctantly, because even for all that he know it's going to hurt, he can't help wanting to cling to this free pass that's been given to him for whatever mysterious and ineffable reason. Still, Jinki knows he has to turn it down. Because doing anything else would be wrong.
"It's just for a day or two," Kibum's voice has taken on a coaxing tone now, the way it does whenever he realizes he can't get his way just by bullying — except he's using Jinki's voice, of course, and the effect doesn't quite come across as silky as it normally would. "You won't mind, I promise. I mean, Jjong's a good kisser. Like, really good."
At that point Jinki's brain begins to short-circuit, his train of thought derailing in a fiery, explosive wreck, and his reasonable, rational argument against all this madness emerges from his mouth as, "I... yeah. Okay."
Then they arrive at their destination, the van is pulling up in the alley behind the company building, and they are too busy dodging the usual crowd of fans and cameras and getting inside for Jinki to immediately rethink and take back his foolhardy agreement.
In the main hallway, Jinki is still distracted and habit takes over, his feet moving in the same direction they always go, and he doesn't even realize his mistake until Jonghyun laughs at his side, nudging him with an elbow and saying, "You lost or something?"
Jinki looks up and sees that on default he's been heading to vocal lessons, which would have been fine, except today he is in Kibum's body and not his own.
"Oh gosh, Key," Kibum says, eyes bugging out and mouth stretched wide, making Jinki feel a little insulted by how stupid he looks — he doesn't really look that vacant, does he? — "Has some of my Condition rubbed off on you?" The other boy grabs Jinki by the elbow, whirling him in a u-turn and giving him a none-too-gentle shove in Minho and Taemin's direction, back towards the dance studio.
"Right, yes, dancing," Jinki says, stumbling and awkward, while all the other members stare at two of them. "Of course, I knew that." Belatedly, he manages a half-hearted sneer, adding, "Um, duh."
Kibum rolls his eyes to convey his opinion of such a lame impression of himself, but only so that Jinki can see, and turns around. When he takes Jinki's place walking at Jonghyun's side, the other boy slings an arm around his shoulders, whispering something into the person who he thinks is Jinki's ear. Jinki watches them for a second and thinks Kibum's smile is coming out all wrong, and his laugh sounds more miserable than amused.
They're both going to have to try a lot harder if they want to have a chance of fooling anybody.
Jinki's prayers that Kibum's arms and legs will have some kind of muscle memory and perform Kibum's dance movements by themselves go unanswered, and he turns at the wrong cue every time, sometimes even crashing into Taemin and Minho while he's at it. To make matters worse he can't seem to focus — his thoughts keep turning to Jonghyun and Kibum like a needle to the North, and after just twenty minutes of repeated disasters the dance instructor gets fed up, making Jinki sit out of the routine for a while.
Slouching off with mixed feelings of guilt and relief, Jinki slides down against the wall, leaning forward with his head to his knees, eyes closed. Sometime later the music cuts off, practice breaking, and a warm presence settles at Jinki's side and calls Kibum's name. After a beat Jinki remembers to answer to it, and lifts his head to meet Minho's stoic gaze.
"I know we don't talk much," Minho says, his words coming out slow and with a conservation of speech like he never uses around Jinki anymore, but then the two of them talk all the time. "But if there's something you can't tell Jinki or Jonghyun-hyung..." the younger boy trails off at the end, and his eyebrows furrow in that way that Jinki doesn't like, because it always makes the other boy seem decades older than him.
Instinct takes over, and Jinki finds himself reassuring his dongsaeng, "I'm okay, really. Just — having a weird day. Really... weird."
Then Jonghyun and Kibum-as-Jinki walk through the doors, joining the dance practice earlier than the schedule normally demands. Minho gives Jinki-who-he-thinks-is-Kibum one last look, then goes over to greet the other two.
Jinki notices that Kibum is wearing a smile on Jinki's face that's even more dejected than the one he'd walked off with earlier. Jonghyun murmurs something about a 'bad cold' to Minho and Taemin, all of them glancing towards Kibum, and Jinki realizes things probably haven't gone so smoothly during vocal training, either.
"Rough practice?" Kibum mutters, sidling up to where Jinki is still sitting against the wall.
"Yeah," Jinki chuckles, rueful, and runs fingers through Kibum's short shock of yellow hair, tugging in frustration. "You too?"
The other boy makes a low, exasperated sound. "Apparently I don't know how your voice works, even though I've heard it a million times."
"Same here. I mean, with your legs and stuff."
They stay in silence for a minute, then after a beat Jinki says, with no inflection: "We're completely doomed, aren't we?"
Sighing, Kibum reaches down and pulls Jinki to his feet, as the instructor calls them to come rejoin the group, practice starting up again. Jinki wonders if he can fake being abducted by aliens to get out of it, then makes a mental note to do research later and see if aliens are known to cause body-switching among teenage Korean boys. He might be on to something.
"Yeah, pretty much," Kibum agrees, just as the music kicks on, and it's too bad that the years of being Onew and Key haven't furnished the two of them with the skills necessary to pull off a ruse like this.
Dinner is yet another catastrophe, and Jinki putters around the kitchen trying to look at least semi-competent while not burning anything, and Kibum is out in the living room struggling to help Minho and Taemin with their math homework so he can't cover for Jinki's lack of cooking skills at all.
Jinki is staring down at the stove, wondering if calling out to order pizza would look too suspicious, when arms slip around his waist from behind, Jonghyun pressing up against his back with a cheerful, "What're you fixing?"
The two spatulas he'd been holding clatter to the floor as Jinki simultaneously flinches and shrieks in surprise. "Oh my god, make a little noise next time," he says, and twists out of the other boy's hold to pick up the fallen utensils, trying to ignore the way his heart is now pounding loudly in his ears.
"I called your name twice, didn't you hear me?" Jonghyun pouts. Jinki heads to the sink, rinsing the spatulas. He makes a noncommittal grunt.
"No. Don't mumble so much," Jinki mumbles, knowing he hadn't heard Jonghyun calling Kibum's name because he still isn't used to answering to it.
Unfazed, Jonghyun creeps up on Jinki again, and this time one of his hands seems to magically find its way up Jinki's — technically, Kibum's — shirt, causing an immediate short-circuit to his brain.
Oh god oh god oh god —
"So later on, I was thinking, maybe..." Jonghyun murmurs, breath hot against the back of Jinki's neck.
oh god oh god
"You and me can...?" and the other boy's voice dips suggestively, along with his fingers.
Jinki falls to the floor, because it seems the most efficient way to escape, and also because his knees aren't feeling all that strong, anyway. "O-ow," he says, after a beat, and clutches at his foot. "My ankle."
And before Jonghyun has done more than stare down and gape at him, Jinki crawls to the border of the kitchen and leaps up again, babbling, "So, yeah, I should go wrap my ankle. It's very important. I, um. I use it for... for dancing."
Then he flees for the bedroom — he probably should have limped a bit more, but oh well — and flings himself face-first onto his bed, after slamming the door shut and turning off the lights. He lays there in the soft-gray darkness, listening to his heart race, and ponders what bad thing he could have possibly done in a past life to deserve this.
But apparently his fellows members can't read the clear Do Not Disturb signals, because a few minutes later he can hear muffled talking outside the door: his own voice (that will never stop being weird) and Jonghyun's.
"Maybe I should be the one to talk to him," Kibum-as-Onew says, but Jonghyun counters with,
"Hyung, you know how Kibum can get when he's in a mood. I'll handle him."
And with the sound of Kibum's indignant huffing accompanying the opening door, Jinki has barely enough time to turn over and realize he's made the mistake of flopping onto his own bed, before Jonghyun slips inside and comes to sit down on the edge of the mattress.
"Ankle too painful to climb up to your bunk, huh?" Jonghyun says, lightly, and even in the dim light it's easy enough to guess what his expression would show.
This is bad, Jinki thinks, frozen in place. Oh, this is very bad. Because they are alone, in a dark room, and there are beds. And everything that Jinki has been desperately trying not to think about all day long floods into his mind, and he clutches at the bedsheets in mild desperation. He's not sure if he's nervous, or holding himself back.
He has to make Jonghyun go away. Right now. Otherwise they might — they might —
"I hate you," Jinki blurts. It's a poor insult by Kibum standards, but the best he can do on such short notice.
"Sure you do," Jonghyun says, laughing it off. Jinki's plan is a spectacular failure.
"So, you want to tell me what that was all about, before?" Jonghyun goes on, and lays down next to Jinki, pillowing his head on his arm and fixing dark eyes on Jinki's — no, Kibum's — face.
"What was what about?" Jinki stalls, and tries to scooch away from the other boy as discreetly as possible.
"That meltdown in the kitchen just now," Jonghyun says, moving forward for every inch Jinki moves back. "Actually, you've been acting kind of off since breakfast; do you feel sick, or something?"
And because he is an idiot and incapable of causing worry to others, Jinki waves his hands, saying, "Oh, no, I'm fine. Perfectly healthy."
Of course, he realizes as soon as the words are out of his mouth that he should have lied, should have claimed plague, or Ebola virus — because now Jonghyun is leaning in even more, with a look in his eyes that causes a heated rush to flood low in Jinki's belly.
"No germs?" Jonghyun says, grinning. "Good, because I've been wanting to do this all day." And with a hand on Jinki's neck to guide him in, Jonghyun sews up the last bit of distance and kisses him.
It's shameful, really, how easily Jinki falls into it, his mouth opening under the coaxing of Jonghyun's tongue, and within a few seconds he is not only being kissed but kissing back, and desperately so.
It isn't right, and it isn't fair, and it's a lie; Jinki doesn't care anymore. Because he's wanted this boy for so, so long, maybe since forever, that the part of his brain still yelling at him to stop is feeble and easy to ignore.
They kiss slowly, like they have all the time in the world, and Jinki sighs happily into Jonghyun's mouth, tangling their legs and curling an arm around his shoulders to hold him close.
Jonghyun is the first to pull back, giving him an odd look. "Hey, are you sure you feel okay?"
Jinki has to fight through the haze that's taken over just to focus on the other boy's face. "Hmm? Why wouldn't I be?" Jinki answers, already reaching to pull Jonghyun back again.
"I don't know, you're being so, uh, tame? I mean, no fingernails down my back? No ripping my clothes off? No giant hickeys?"
And just like that, Jinki is brought crashing back to reality. He remembers that the body he's wearing isn't his own, that Jonghyun thinks he's kissing somebody else, and that all this is a lie, lie, lie.
Part of him wants to crawl away and die, but the other part — the part that has fingers curled into Jonghyun's shirt-sleeve with no intention of letting go — wins, and stammers out a stupid excuse. "I'm just... y-you know. Savoring the moment?"
He cringes inwardly at the amount of lame he's just exhibited, and Jonghyun's eyebrows furrow together, turning even more suspicious. Jinki tries on a Kibum-style leer, and adds, "Because we've never done it... um. Right here. Before." at the same time praying to God that Jonghyun and Kibum have never actually had sex on his bed; because if they have, he is so sleeping on the couch for the rest of his life.
The excuse works, or it's dark enough that Jonghyun can't see him well. Jonghyun laughs again, but quietly, and rolls himself on top of Jinki, hands braced on either side of the pillow.
"Yeah, okay," Jonghyun whispers, and then he grinds his hips down, making Jinki gasp, instinctively arching into it and eyes fluttering closed. Jonghyun's mouth finds the hollow of Jinki's throat, warm and wet, murmuring against his skin, "We can fuck right here, if you want."
Jinki shudders down to his toes, and writhes as their lower bodies brush again, and suddenly there are hands everywhere, and a flurry of movement, both of them yanking off whatever piece of clothing they touch. Jinki winces as Jonghyun pops buttons on Kibum's second-favorite shirt, forgetting to care a second later when the other boy's mouth moves open and hot down his torso.
They kiss again, and again, with much more urgency than before. Jonghyun's fingertips skitter in random patterns down Jinki's ribcage, across his stomach, along the lines of his hipbones. It is impossible to remember that all this anatomy isn't his, when every nerve ending is starting to sing, fibers of heat twisting tight and low and real.
And so Jinki breathes out, and lets himself forget what he shouldn't. He puts hands on Jonghyun, mirroring every move, and tells himself that for just this once, he can be selfish, he can have this.
After a little while Jonghyun detaches from Jinki's mouth and sits up, rummaging around under his mattress and emerging with a slender silver tube. "You want to do yourself, or you want me to do it for you?" the other boy asks, smirking, and Jinki might not have any experience with sex between guys, but he knows then exactly where they're going.
And he definitely wants to go there, the flush of heat in his stomach can't be denied — but he probably doesn't want it quite the way Jonghyun is expecting.
Jinki reaches out, taking hold of the other boy's wrist. "I — that is, can I —" it's difficult to make himself say the words, and his face is burning up with embarrassment; but if this is his one and only chance, then Jinki is going to have it the way he's imagined.
He takes a breath, tries again. "You, I w-want to, um. Be the one. And... and you — " oh god, he can't believe he's saying this, but, " — Jonghyun, I want to f-fuck you. Um. If that's okay."
The other boy's eyebrows shoot up nearly to his hairline. "You want to what?" he gapes, and oh no, there's no way in hell Jinki is going to repeat himself. He makes vague flapping gestures with his hands, and sits up.
"You know... can we just, like, switch? For tonight?" Inwardly, Jinki cringes at his word choice. Oh, the irony.
But the other boy is scratching his neck, hesitating — and apparently Jinki's patented pleading eyes are effective even using Kibum's eyes, because finally Jonghyun exhales on a laugh, and nods. "Okay," he says, "Okay, sure, why not," and Jinki pulls him into another lingering kiss, thrilled and relieved.
Jonghyun flops backward onto the bed, holding out the tube to Jinki with an expression that is both anxious and amused, and Jinki wants to reassure him, but it's hard to disguise his own nervousness with the way his hands tremble just getting the cap open. But he manages, slicking some of the lube on his fingers and holding his breath as he reaches down between the other boy's legs, pushing into him.
Jinki follows what he's learned from the few porno films he's seen — all in stolen moments with Kibum's laptop, pulling himself off alone in a dark room, volume turned low and cheeks burning with shame. But, of course, experiencing this in real life is much, much different.
Jinki's stand-by fantasies have absolutely nothing over the reality: how incredibly tight the other boy feels around his fingers, how fever-hot. Nor could Jinki ever have pictured the exact way Jonghyun looks as he turns his face into the pillow, the back of his hand gripped in his teeth to muffle the short, quick gasps he's making.
Jinki smooths one hand up the back of the other boy's thigh, murmuring for him to relax. Eventually it works, and Jonghyun's muscles unwind, no longer tensing up at every movement of Jinki's fingers. "Ready?" Jinki whispers, and Jonghyun nods, looking up at him with eyes gone hooded and dark.
Jinki settles between the other boy's legs, heart already taken off at a run, and then he bends and kisses Jonghyun, their eyes open and mouths breathing into each other as Jinki slowly pushes his way inside.
Jonghyun hisses out from between clenched teeth, and Jinki stops, anxious, barely even daring to breathe. "Are you okay? Am I hurting you too much?"
"Sh-shit. Just... just gimme a second," Jonghyun gasps, and Jinki can see the sheen of sweat standing out on his face, running in trails down his neck.
Attempting to distract him, Jinki fumbles between their bodies, taking hold of the other boy's length and fisting him in careful, deliberate strokes. He's rewarded when Jonghyun curses again, beginning to pant, and as the other boy's back arches off the bed Jinki starts moving his hips, sliding in and out, clumsily matching the rhythm of his hand.
It's nothing like the couple of times Jinki has had sex with a girl — awkward, rushed encounters that left him feeling embarrassed for days — because the boy underneath him has nothing of feminine softness. He is all sharp lines and angles, breathing harsh and spitting cuss words, the hair on his legs ticklish against Jinki's sides.
And most of all he's Jonghyun, and this actually matters, and Jinki is so overwhelmed, so terrified of screwing this up that he's shaking, and then it's Jonghyun's who's sitting forward, wrapping wiry arms tight, tight around Jinki's back and gasping low nonsense words of comfort into Jinki's ear, their bodies still rocking in tandem. Jinki holds on to the other boy's hips, fingers sinking in deep enough to leave marks, then closes his eyes and surrenders to the flashfire pleasure spreading out through his limbs, turning the world hazy and unfocused and beautiful.
"God, fuck, Kibum — " Jonghyun pants, and falls back against the mattress, moaning loud and long as Jinki starts to move faster. The sound of someone else's name jars against Jinki's ears, stuttering his rhythm. "Kibum, harder, faster, come on," the other boy urges, but Jinki can't bear this, everything's gone all wrong again.
"Don't," Jinki says, words blurting out before he can stop them. "Don't call me that."
"Wh-what?" Jonghyun levers himself up on one elbow, raking sweaty hair off his forehead and looking at Jinki weirdly again. "Don't call you what?"
"Not... not Kibum," Jinki says, voice gone hoarse with need, and he's not above begging for this if he has to. "Call me Jinki, okay? Just — just close your eyes and pretend."
"Kibum, what the fuck — "
"Please," Jinki gasps, rocking his hips forward in the same breath, barely aware of what he's saying anymore. "I need you to, please, for me — "
"God, god," Jonghyun groans, and throws his head back into the pillows, his body curving like a bow. His hips snap up to meet each of Jinki's thrusts, and then he's squeezing his eyes shut, whimpering low and breathing out "hyung," over and over.
"Yeah, just like that," Jinki tells him, shuddering relief, and god, he's so close now. "Just like that, Jonghyunnie, like that — "
"God, hyung, please. Jinki-hyung," Jonghyun begs, and Jinki can feel sweat trickling down his spine in thin rivulets, and the musky smell of sex is in his mouth as he breathes, thick enough to taste. Static waves of heat are pooling in his groin, but he fights back against the tide, holding on for a few more seconds.
He lowers his head, every muscle in his arms trembling with exertion, and angles his thrusts even deeper. Suddenly Jonghyun goes out of control, moaning and sobbing by turns, clinging to Jinki with arms and legs, mouth open and panting damp into Jinki's neck, saying things like, "Jinki, please, please, I want you so much," and "Don't stop, god, I love you — " and a heartbeat later Jonghyun is coming, shaking apart, Jinki's name hanging on his lips like a song. Jinki follows just after, finally letting himself go, the world buzzing white behind his eyelids as he comes.
Spent and utterly boneless, Jinki doesn't roll off the other boy so much as topple to the side, and they lie together in silence for a minute, blinking up into the darkness and listening to their heart rates slow back down.
Except that the harsh sounds of Jonghyun sobbing for breath don't stop, and when Jinki puts a tentative hand on the other boy's shoulder he's still shaking. "Don't," Jonghyun jerks away, and his voice comes out choked, raw and furious. "Don't you even touch me."
"Jonghyun?" Jinki sits up, leaning over and trying to see his face. "What's wrong?"
"You fucking bastard," the other boy hisses, sitting up so suddenly that Jinki is startled, falling back on his hands. Jonghyun's face is streaked with sweat and tears, and his mouth is twisted in a way that causes cold dread to lump in Jinki's throat.
"I asked you, Kibum," Jonghyun all but shouts, nearly sobbing, and Jinki wants to reach out to him so badly, but doesn't dare. "I asked you a hundred times if you were okay with it. And you said yes, and I believed you. So why the fuck would you do something like that?"
"I don't... I don't understand," Jinki says, feeling frozen and small and afraid.
"About Jinki-hyung, okay? That stunt you just pulled — I just." Jonghyun cuts himself off, sliding off the bed and starting to pull on his clothes with jerky, stiff movements. "I never lied to you, Kibum, I told you from the start how I felt. And you said you didn't care, it didn't matter."
Jinki can only lie there and watch him, stunned. His mind is completely blank, and he has no idea what to say, so his mouth works for him on default, whispering, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, I'm so sorry."
"You're never sorry for anything," Jonghyun grates out, and then the door is opening and he's walking out, slamming it shut behind him, leaving Jinki alone to wonder what the hell had just happened.
An unknown amount of time passes before Jinki can make himself move again, and when he does he's flying on autopilot, not thinking about anything at all. He gets dressed, then strips his mattress bare, shoving the old linens into the hamper and pulling clean ones from the cabinet, making his bed fresh for Kibum to sleep in tonight.
Then he goes to the bathroom and showers, and afterward he stands in front of the steamed-up mirror, spending several long minutes going over Kibum's body inch-by-inch. He's looking for seams, for zippers — anything at all to help him climb out of this messed-up dream and back to reality, back into his own skin where he belongs.
It is an indeterminate amount of time later when Kibum knocks and opens the bathroom door, finding Jinki leaning mostly naked against the cool porcelain of the sink, drawing faces in the condensation and trying very hard not to think about anything.
There is an awkward pause, and then Kibum finally mutters, "Your dinner is getting cold," and Jinki has no idea if that's what Kibum had originally come to tell him or not, because the other boy is staring at Jinki with eyes set deep in his face, while the tense line of his hands and the way he's holding Jinki's shoulders too straight radiates something that is either anger or despair. Jinki isn't sure which, and it scares him.
Before he can answer, Kibum turns around and leaves. Jinki stands there a minute longer, then pulls on Kibum's favorite pajamas and goes out to the kitchen to pretend like the world hasn't really slipped off its axis, isn't spinning crazily off into space. Because that's what a leader is supposed to do.
"Something's weird with the hyungs this morning," Taemin stage-whispers to Minho.
It's Saturday, and they're all sitting around the table eating breakfast, or pretending to. When Jinki had woken up still in someone else's body and with the memory of Jonghyun's skin tingling in his fingertips, he'd pretty much lost his appetite.
Jonghyun has his attention focused on his plate, earphones in and music from his ipod blaring, resolutely ignoring everything around him. He had crept back in to the apartment very late last night, walking right past Jinki without saying a word, though he had been sitting on the couch for hours, waiting and worrying and tearing himself to pieces with guilt and shame.
Kibum shoots Jinki yet another furious glance over the rim of his rice bowl after Jinki fails to acknowledge Taemin's remark. Jinki opens his mouth, then changes his mind, shoveling in a huge bite of food so he doesn't have to speak. It tastes like ashes on his tongue.
"Did something happen?" Minho asks, voice rumbling deep with concern as he looks over at the three of them.
"Just eat your breakfast," Kibum snaps, harsh and abrasive in the way that Jinki never, ever is, and every eye at the table whips over to him, bugging out in shock. Jinki might have thought it was funny, if he weren't so busy trying to sink through the floor and die.
Under the table, Jinki delivers a kick to the Kibum's shin, not caring if it leaves a bruise, and pantomimes a silent reprimand with chopsticks and furrowed eyebrows.
"I mean, uh — growing boys need their strength," Kibum-as-Jinki corrects himself, giving a fake laugh and a smile that is obviously strained. Minho, Taemin, and Jonghyun continue to stare.
Turning back to his food, Jinki squeezes his eyes shut, praying for their manager to walk through the door the way he'd done yesterday and save them from the awkward and uncomfortable atmosphere.
"Ready to go?" their manager calls, walking in through the living room. Jinki blinks a little, then closes his eyes again and wishes to get teleported back in to his own body, just in case God is actually listening to prayers right now; he also tacks on a world peace caveat for good measure.
Nothing happens, of course, and then they're all herded off towards their respective schedules: Taemin has a load of testing to catch up on at his school, and Jonghyun and Minho head off to a variety show recording. Jinki and Kibum are dumped at the company building and pretty much left to their own devices, ostensibly to get in whatever kind of practice or work they feel like doing.
They go through the motions for an hour or so, and then somehow the two of them end up in the break room with the karaoke machine, bouncing around and caterwauling like stray cats to every big hit the label has, because they still don't know how to sing like each other, and for a while they pretend as hard as they can that the real world and everything that's wrong with them doesn't exist.
It doesn't last forever, though. When they finally get tired and hoarse, they hitch a ride back to the apartment, and once they're alone Kibum drags out a bundle of papers he'd printed out from the internet last night, detailing various curses and magical remedies for their mysterious affliction. Jinki picks up the top page, wrinkling his nose in distaste as he reads it over.
"Um. We have to slather chocolate pudding where?"
"That's not — " Kibum runs over and snatches that page out of Jinki's fingers, looking annoyed, insofar as Jinki's face is even capable of projecting annoyance. "That's for something else, here, look at this." He replaces the paper with a different one.
The suggestions for curing body-switches aren't much better to Jinki's mind. "Hop backwards twenty times under a full moon's light," he reads aloud, then shoots the other boy a skeptical look. "You really think I can hop backwards that far?" His sense of coordination is hardly stellar when just moving forward.
"It's either that, or we shave our heads bald and join a Buddhist monastery to pray for enlightenment, because I am so not spending one more day as you. Do you know how hard it is to be this damn nice all the time?"
Going to sit down on the couch, Jinki prudently decides not to carry that line of conversation any further, and keeps shuffling through the papers with lack-luster enthusiasm. Truth be told, deep down inside Jinki's been hoping that a miracle will occur, some kind of heaven-sent bolt of lightning to put them back to normal, just like that. After all, it wasn't as if they'd done some kind of crazy ritual to get themselves switched in the first place, right?
"Hey, you didn't sacrifice a goat in the name of Satan anytime last week, did you?" Jinki asks, wrinkling his forehead at some of the more ridiculous theories. It's a blow for him to realize the internet isn't the ultimate font of knowledge after all.
"Oh, yeah — it was right before I went for my avocado peel. Rubbing blood all over your face can be so bad for the complexion, you know?"
Jinki doesn't laugh, and suddenly Kibum is slumping down next to Jinki on the couch, looking at Jinki with something soft in his eyes for once, or maybe it's just that he really is getting better at being Onew. The other boy reaches out, one finger poking at Jinki's face. "Hyung, stop doing that so much," he chides, "you're going to give me wrinkles."
"I'm sorry," Jinki says, apologizing, and tries to smooth the frown away; it keeps fighting its way back, tugging at the corners of Kibum's mouth like a physical weight, and out of nowhere his eyes are hot and stinging, and there a lump the size of a watermelon in his throat that's choking him.
The next thing he knows, he has his face buried in Kibum's shoulder — his own shoulder — and he's heaving these tight and heavy breaths that might be sobs, and he's saying sorry again, sobbing it over and over into Kibum's shirt that is getting more soaked by the second, with everything that had been building up just now crashing over him like a tidal wave.
Kibum is murmuring low words that Jinki can't quite make out, fingers stroking his hair in a soothing way, and as soon as he can Jinki tries getting a hold of himself, choking back the sobs and keeping them crammed behind his teeth, shaking hard with the effort but it works, because he's had practice at this. So it is probably only a couple minutes later that he's sitting up again, heels of his hands pressing away the damp and raw ache of his eyes, and Kibum's fingers fall away from his head like they'd never been there.
"I had sex with Jonghyun," Jinki confesses, without ever having planned to say it, letting his head fall back against the top of the couch and arms hang listless at his sides. He is so tired that his bones feel crooked, and if he doesn't get more sleep Kibum will start yelling at him about the bags forming under his eyes along with the frown-lines.
"You already know that I know that," Kibum says, voice empty of anything, even anger.
The rest of the confession is hovering on the tip of Jinki's tongue, the part that's the most important — but in yet another instance of Jinki's terrible luck with timing, the front door opens and Taemin's voice calls out a greeting, back home from taking his tests.
Kibum puts on a smile that Jinki swears could pass for real, like the last thirty or so hours have never happened, and he bounces off the couch over to Taemin, chattering boisterous and loud and more Jinki-like than Jinki can manage half the time.
He closes his eyes and listens to their banter, Kibum forgetting to not act all smothering but that's okay, Jinki can be smothering too sometimes. He is just debating the merits of going to the bedroom and taking a nap against the downside of having to stand up and walk there, when the next thing he hears is Jonghyun saying, "Hey, wake up," and there is a hand on his shoulder shaking him awake.
Jinki opens his eyes, details of the world registering in his consciousness one by one. Jonghyun still has his jacket on, and his skin is cold like he just got home; Jinki's neck is sore from falling asleep in an awkward position, and the lights in the kitchen are off but on the the hallway; someone is in the shower, probably Minho, and it's late and that means Jinki has been napping for way too long. He's missed dinner.
Jonghyun is starting to move away, maybe to sit down or maybe to leave, and a thread of fear pulls Jinki's hand forward before he's even thought about it, and he is holding on to the other boy's wrist and saying, "Wait."
The look on Jonghyun's face is closed like a door, but he stops moving. Jinki is still laying down, but Jonghyun is crouching next to the couch, so they are less than a foot apart when Jinki asks him, "Do you know?" and it's not his most lucid moment in life, but he still feels heavy with sleep and he's not really sure what he's asking, either.
"Do I know what?" Jonghyun asks, but some of the tightness has gone from around his mouth, and he turns his captured wrist so that their palms lie together, fingers not quite laced. Jinki takes it as a step towards being forgiven, and his lungs expand gratefully as he draws air into them, relearning how to breathe.
"That Kibum... he — and you. You're both..." Jinki stops trying to explain when Jonghyun presses the back of his cool hand to Jinki's forehead.
"You don't have a fever; hey, do you feel okay, Kibum?" Jonghyun sounds concerned.
Jinki shuts his mouth tight, teeth clicking together. Oh, god, he'd almost forgotten... except that he had forgotten, like an idiot, and now Jonghyun must think he's, like, deranged. He sits up too fast, blood rushing away from his brain. "What time is it?" he blurts, trying to deflect.
"A little past one," Jonghyun answers, but he's turning off again, thoughts going where Jinki can't follow. It occurs to Jinki that all this, everything is his fault, and he should be trying to fix it. Not crying his eyes out or falling asleep or any of the many other ways in which he is generally useless.
Jonghyun and Kibum, they're his, they're Jinki's, and he owes it to them to not be so useless.
"Jonghyun, I. Listen," Jinki says, drawing resolve around himself like armor, visualizing steel and backbones made out of it, and he sits himself up straight and looks the other boy in the eye. "There's something I'm not sure that you know, and if you don't know it, then — that. It's very important, okay."
"What are you — "
"I love you," Jinki says, rushing it. Jonghyun goes very still. "It's true," Jinki says, biting the inside of his cheek to burn away the sudden sting behind his eyes. "I, Kim Kibum, love you. A lot. And... you should know that."
The other boy blinks up at him for several long seconds, and then to Jinki's surprise Jonghyun is expelling his breath on a laugh. "All these years." Jonghyun laughs again, rubbing a hand over his face. "All these years we've known each other, and I'm pretty sure that's the first time you've said that to me. Said it for real, I mean."
Jinki shifts uncomfortably, holding his breath and praying he didn't somehow make things worse. "Well, you know that I — Kim Kibum — I am not so great with... feelings."
So far, he hasn't said anything that wasn't true; Jinki knows this. But the parts he's omitted are ringing in his head like alarms bells, clamoring liar, liar, liar.
"I know," Jonghyun says, looking up at him, and the laughter is fading and something solemn and quiet is taking its place. "Kibum, I know. You never had to... I'm sorry." Suddenly Jonghyun is reaching up, pulling Jinki off the couch and into his arms, and Jinki is too busy trying not to breathe in the smell of him to bother with trying to pull back.
"I'm sorry if I ever made you think you couldn't say it to me. I didn't — I just. I'm really sorry," Jonghyun murmurs this into Jinki's neck, voice coming out thick and his fingers curling too tight into Jinki's clothes.
Not mine, Jinki's thoughts whisper, not mine, not mine.
"I really suck as a best friend, huh?" Jonghyun says, face still buried against him and Jinki runs fingers through his short-cropped hair, thinking about a hundred things at once but mostly about why this feels so familiar. He's thinking about a few hours ago, when Kibum had held Jinki just like this and patiently listened to him apologize for things he wasn't really sorry for at all.
And right then and there, Jinki decides even if Jonghyun doesn't mean it, Jinki's going to make it true, no matter what, because that's what Kibum deserves. What Jonghyun deserves, too.
"No, you don't suck," Jinki tells him, curling his arms around Jonghyun's waist and smiling a smile that means he's not really dying inside. "Hey, stop crying, okay? You know it gives me hives."
It works like it's supposed to, making Jonghyun laugh. When the laughter slows and he starts hiccuping, Jinki sits back, concentrating hard on scrubbing the tear-tracks from Jonghyun's cheeks with the corner of a couch cushion. The other boy swats him away, grin fading in and out with every heartbeat, and Jinki wonders what that means.
"So. So, you forgive me?" Jonghyun finally asks, smile still guttering like a candle-flame, and Jinki has a second to think no, never and always, every time before he's opening his mouth as Kibum and saying:
"That depends. Do you love me back?"
Jonghyun's faces crumples, just around the eyes and mouth, but then he is nodding and telling Jinki, "Yeah, I do — god, Kibum, of course I do," and at this point Jinki feels it is safe to lean in and press their lips together, kissing Jonghyun with hands clasped behind his back. He won't reach out, won't touch, won't go too far this time.
He will make this mess right, Jinki tells himself, and then he will let go.
Because that's what a leader is supposed to do.
Jinki wakes up in the morning to the usual sensation of Minho's stupidly long legs breaching the mattress boundary and kicking Jinki in the shin. He groans and rolls over, tucking his knees up against his chest and pretty much relinquishing the lower half of the bed the way he always does.
Then his eyes fly open, staring wide at the blanket-swathed hump of Taemin across from him, and then Jinki is wide awake and he knows. Knows it down to his bones.
This is confirmed five seconds later by the painful impact of Kibum dive-bombing Jinki from the top bunk and shrieking ecstatically into his ear.
" — my beautiful clothes, my beautiful shoes, my beautiful face," the other boy is chanting, clinging to Jinki like an octopus and rolling them around in much the same manner that Jinki had seen a crocodile rolling a gazelle on the Nature channel once, and if Kibum's grip doesn't loosen up soon Jinki will be equally as suffocated.
The other members are starting to throw pillows in the direction of all the racket, and Kibum takes the hint, lowering his voice to an overjoyed whisper in the range of Jinki's ear. "We're back, we're back, oh thank god that we're back."
Everything feels less off-balance, like having a museum full of crooked paintings suddenly hanging ruler straight again, and Jinki grins and laughs along with Kibum. He takes this return to normalcy like the proof that it is: Jinki has done the right thing.