(hinted Sungmin x OC)
The nights you can't sleep are the nights he comes to visit.
The bed creaks and dips beneath his weight, and you can tell he's been crying by the way his knees quiver as they bump yours beneath the covers, but you don't open your eyes until you feel the breath of his sigh against the tip of your nose (note the lingering smell of cheap bitter soju). You can make out the slumped outline of his shoulders peeking out from under the blankets, the tense downward curve of his mouth – so unlike the gently smiling brother you were raised with.
But you smile wide enough for the both of you and lift a hand between your faces so that he'll touch it, touch you, and you'll know at least some of him is still there. His fingertips are ice.
He watches you for a moment – no, he searches you with eyes you can't see through the shadows of the room but can feel at your very core, reaching and grasping and hanging on and you think, don't worry, I've got you.
You just wish there were a way for him to always hang on.
“You're freezing. Haven't been eating, have you? Mom's gonna' kill you.”
There's pain in his laughter, so you drown it out with your own.
“Just haven't had time to take my vitamins is all. Don't worry, kid.”
“You know what Mom would say to that? 'I wouldn't worry if you weren't anemic.'” He doesn't laugh this time, it's more of a huff with a bounce, but you hate it all the same. The silence thickens and he shifts his palm against yours to lace your fingers with his and all you can think is, too cold, corpses, he's dying. But he isn't really dying.“Make time...or I'm telling on you.”
Sometimes you just have to remind yourself.
“Hey...turn around, will you?”
You almost say no because you know he's going to hide, he's going to build his wall and you'll never be able to climb over it, but you only hesitate for a beat before you flip onto your other side, pull the blanket to your chin with your free hand and shut your eyes so you can hear him. So you can hear everything. The weight of his arm across your shoulder anchors you to the mattress, to him, and is only uncomfortable enough to keep you awake.
There's moisture on the back of your neck.
He clears his throat, trying to hold back the rest of his tears.
You wish he wouldn't.
Silence again. You realize he's waiting for you to continue, and you almost feel bad for brushing him off, but you aren't in the mood to make small talk while he locks away his pain so that you'll never have to see it. But you do. You always have.
The awkward pause is accompanied by an even more awkward (undeniably) out-of-place yell from somewhere outside. He presses his cheek to the back of your head and it only seems natural that you bend your knees so that he can fit his body against yours like a protective cocoon – except it's him who needs you, and he's only the protective cocoon because you know it makes him feel better to pretend he's strong in his most vulnerable times.
“Let's play a game. Hyung will ask you a question, and you'll answer them truthfully. If you answer three truthfully, you get to ask one question.”
It takes you by surprise. This has never been a part of his routine visits.
“That's not a game, hyung. That's a one-sided conversation...”
“Here comes the first question. Mmh...if I didn't like the color pink, would you like it?”
That brings you to a screeching halt. Good question.
“Can you imagine how crazy it would make mom and dad if I liked pink too? You like pink enough for the both of us.”
“Sungjin-ah, that's not answering the question. Would you like it if I didn't like it?”
You can't help the agitated sigh that escapes you.
“Fine...I dunno', I guess so... maybe. Probably not.”
“You might as well have not answered at all.”
“Well, that question was just-”
“Question number two. Ready?”
“If mom and dad disowned me and forbade you to talk to me ever again, would you go behind their backs to see me anyway?”
Something falters in your chest, it feels like your heart but you're not too sure, and you crack open your eyes only enough to distinguish between the darkness behind your lids and the darkness of the room. There wouldn't be much of a difference if you couldn't see his thumb stroking your knuckles.
You wait, expecting for him to ask why or say... anything really, but once moisture hits the outer most part of your ear you realize he isn't playing just any old game with you tonight.
His voice is thick, husky. Forced. “It's not your turn yet.”
Some nights are easier than others. Tonight isn't one of those nights.
You disentangle your fingers from his and turn his palm over in your hand. Five years ago, it was never this soft; there were callouses on his thumb and a scar over his lifeline, and he never once touched a bottle of lotion – but that was five years ago. He flexes his fingers while you rub the icy flesh in small circles to warm him until your nail catches in a band on his pinky. That's new, too.
His shoulders tense when you stroke the cold metal with your thumb. There are ridges at the top, like an engraving, but you can't spell it out.
“The last question, hyung?”
He sighs against your cheek and finally pulls his arm back, ensuring the ring is well out of your reach, and tucks it securely between his chest and your back. It feels like he's sucked the heat right out of you – your knuckles ache.
“Would you hate me for falling in love?”
The undertone of despair hits you hard in the chest. He doesn't try to stop you when you roll over to face him this time, but when your palm presses into the hot tracks of tears on his cheek, you almost wish he would have.
“Why in the world would I-”
“A boy, Sungjin-ah.”
All sorts of images flood your mind, all of them inappropriate, the fire rushes to your face before you can stop it. For a moment you're back in Sex Ed, staring at a book full of crudely drawn vaginae and penises while your red-faced teacher stumbles through a very basic lecture on how babies are made and just where it is supposed to go.
Something tells you it doesn't work the same way with another man.
The apples of your cheeks burn.
“Jinnie?” The muscles in his face tighten anxiously beneath your fingers. You wonder about that note of uncertainty in his voice, that almost unnoticeable hesitation to breathe; you wonder if he's waiting for you to him hit, to push him off the bed, to shun him. Then you wonder why it makes you so angry that he would even entertain the thought of you abandoning him at all.
With the back of your knuckles, you wipe away the cooling moisture beneath his eyes.
“Is he nice?”
He hisses a sigh that sounds more like a deflated balloon than anything else, and the corner of his mouth lifts against your wrist in what you think is a smile, and then your cheeks rise to accommodate your own relieved grin, and he giggles – for real, this time – and the fear has passed.
“Mhm...” He lifts his hand slightly to flash me the ring I'd touched earlier, a thin gold band hugged around his smooth, chubby pinkie. “He's a writer, and a painter, but he doesn't like music.”
You try to imagine your singing-guitar loving-dancer wannabe brother ever getting along with someone who doesn't like music. Empty. “That's...odd...”
He giggles into the pillow, and your heart soars.
“He gave this to me... the ring, I mean. It's a...” a brief pause as he screws up his face thoughtfully. “...a promise ring.”
So now he's your engaged gay pink-adoring superstar big brother.
“His name is Byul. The star in my life.”
“...that's so corny, hyung. Don't.”
The bed shakes through his laughter, the kind of laughter that only comes to someone who's just found his place in the world, your brother's laughter, and you fall deeper and deeper into it until he pulls you back to the surface, wraps his arms around your shoulders, pulls your head against his chest. The deeper you burrow, the more he wraps himself around you until there's no space left between you and you can feel his heart beating against your jaw, smell nothing but the sweat and makeup in his shirt, curl your fingers around the hem.
It's your turn to hang on, now.
“Are you gonna' tell mom and dad?”
“Were you telling the truth when you said you wouldn't disown me if they did?”
You hesitate for a split second, then the answer comes easy, in a breath. “Yeah.”
“Then soon. I'll tell them soon, when the time is right.” He sighs into your hair as the weight of the world has just been lifted from his shoulders. “Thanks, kid. I...just, thanks.”
Nails digging gently into his side, you hang on tighter. You want to ask him to stay for a couple days, even if he never leaves your room, even if you have to hide him from mom and dad, as long as you have your brother, but he brings his lips to your ear and hums until your eyes get heavy, his hand traveling up and down your back in half-circles. He gives you a piece of himself that no one else will ever see and you hang on, forever.