Pairing : Jaemin
Length : oneshot (long)
Rating : PG
Genre : Alternative Universe
Summary : Changmin just moved in a new house in a small town and wants to make new friends. He meets Yoochun who promises him to be part of his group if he dares accept the invitation of an old woman to drink a cup of tea in her haunted house.
Changmin opened another cardboard box and started emptying it. He put the books on the desk that was in front of the window and looked outside. A cute boy, who was dressed like a pirate, with an eye patch on his face and a sword in his hand, was leading a group of mid-school boys to the park.
Changmin envied them. He wanted to be with them, to make friends, to play with them. He wanted to forget about his parents’ divorce, but the move had separated him from his best friend, Junsu, and now he was alone in the house with his mother.
Suddenly, his eyes met Yoochun’s. He didn’t avoid his look, hoping for a waving, maybe a smile, or something that would make him dare go see him.
Yoochun stared back until someone called him and made him turn his head. He didn’t look back at Changmin’s window though, and followed the boy who had called him, waving his sword in front of him while running.
Changmin wondered if the boy had really seen him. He was indeed looking in his direction, but he was quite far, and inside the house, which probably was dark from an outsider point of view. When he heard his mother call him for a snack, he decided that if the boy had not made a sign of acknowledgment, he didn’t plainly ignore him either. He went to the kitchen and after having gobbled his snack, told his mother :
“It’s a nice day, I’m going out, I want to take a look at the park a little farther.”
“What about going there together? I wanted to go visit it too.” She answered, happy that her son was not complaining anymore about the move.
They left the house together and walked towards the park. When they arrived at the edge of the lake of the park, his mother sat on a bench while he came closer to the water. He looked around, admiring the view until his eyes met, once again, two brown eyes. The boy he had seen earlier was on the other side of the lake, looking back at him. This time, he was sure the boy had seen him, because not only did he stare back, but he also made a gesture to tell Changmin to join them.
Changmin looked at his mother, who nodded with a smile and said :
“Don’t stay too long. The sun has disappeared, the wind is picking up, and I think it’s going to rain.”
He walked to the bridge and stopped when he was in front of the boys.
“Hi, I’m Yoochun. You are new in the town, right ?”
“Yes, I just moved in the house near the bakery. I’m Changmin.”
“Next to the bakery, mh? Interesting.” Yoochun said.
“Why?” Changmin asked, looking at the others, who seemed suddenly afraid of something.
“Have you already met your neighbor, Mrs. Kim ?”
“No, not yet”.
“Then listen carefully. She is crazy. She used to live with her grandson since his parents died, but people say she secretly hated him and and one day she eventually killed him. She has a thing for poison, so if she invites you for a cup of tea, then she wants to kill you too. But the worse thing is that her grandson’s ghost is still in the house. He haunts it, playing piano.”
Changmin felt a cold wind in his back.
“This is ridiculous”, Changmin said, trying to hide his uncertainty.
“Look ! That’s her, talking to your mom !” One of them said.
Changmin felt goosebumps, but he steadied his voice and said :
“So what ? They are just discussing.”
“I bet she’s inviting her to have a cup of tea. That’s how it starts.”
“How do you know how it starts ?
“I went to her house once. She had invited me for a cup of tea. But I heard strange noises in one of the rooms, and I ran away before she could make a move.” Yoochun said proudly.
Changmin looked worriedly at his mother and saw her shake hands with the old woman. Then the old woman looked in his direction and smiled. He turned hurriedly his head away from her and looked at the lake. Yoochun, who thought he didn’t care, added :
“You don’t believe me ? Guys, let’s make a deal with him : if you dare follow the old lady to her house and stay there at least five minutes, then you can join our group.”
It started raining. He heard his mother call him, turned to look at them and murmured “bye” before heading back to his house.
On his way back, he had looked at the house next to his and had shivered. It was bigger than his house, and one of the shutters, which was broken, slammed the wall with crash. His mother scared him even more when she announced that the old woman had invited both of them to dinner.
Back in his room, he lay on his bed. He felt worried and sad. It was unfair to force him, a new comer, to meet such a scary woman, when all he wanted was make new friends.
At 7:45p.m, he and his mother went to the next door and rang the bell. The old woman opened and invited them to go in.
Inside the house, it was unexpectedly light and clean. From what Yoochun had told, he thought he would have to deal with cobweb and mice, and maybe even a skeleton. But instead, he found a nice house with pictures of mountains and many little knickknacks everywhere. A cat was sleeping peacefully on a chair next to the heating. The old woman led them to the dining room and served the dinner.
He was starting feeling better when he suddenly heard a noise. It came from upstairs. He looked at his mother. She didn’t seem to have heard it. He looked at the old woman and asked her if he could go to the bathroom.
“Of course, my dear. It’s upstairs. Right on your left.”
She resumed her chatting with his mother, and left him pondering if it was a good idea to venture alone inside the house. He grabbed his fork discreetly and went to the stairs. He now could hear better the sound. It was music, piano, actually. He headed towards the room it came from, and found the door half opened. He took a look inside and saw a young boy, a little bigger than him, playing alone. He stood there, his head in the room, the rest of his body ready to leave, but the boy didn’t move.
When he finished playing, he turned around and looked in the direction of the window. A branch was tapping at the pane. While the boy was peacefully listening to the sound it made, Changmin watched him.
He was beautiful. His skin was very pale, which reminded him of porcelain dolls his friend’s sister, Junho, liked so much to play with. He was very elegant, wearing a dark blue suit with a pale blue shirt and glossy shoes. He had an evanescent smile on his lips, and his eyes, though half closed, were big. He had long hair that almost fell on his broad, masculine shoulders.
Changmin was so captivated by the sight that he almost forgot himself, and if it were not for his muscles, that started being cramped, he would have stayed here. He remembered the story of Yoochun and suddenly feared the ghost was in front of him. He silently prayed not to be found out and left the room. He went downstairs and found his mother about to leave.
“That’s a pity I couldn’t get to talk with you, my dear,” the old woman started. “Your mother and I have both met many interesting people, which made us talk a lot tonight. But I would love to have a chat with you next time. What about coming back tomorrow for a cup of tea, my dear ?”
His mother answered happily for him and assured the woman that he would come back the next day.
Changmin actually didn’t mind that much. He was more excited about his recent discovery than afraid of the possible consequences. He thought he could just avoid drinking the tea and get to know more about the boy.
The next day, Changmin was reluctant to wake up. He had had many nightmares where the beautiful boy he had seen spotted him spying on him. He would jump on him, catch him and kill him in a matter of seconds. He had also dreamt of the old woman forcing him to drink liters of poisoned tea.
When his mother saw him, she served the breakfast and reminded him to go see their new neighbor, and she said that with such a tender smile that he knew he couldn’t tell her about the rumors, or she would forbid him to meet with Yoochun and his friends again.
The day went by very quickly and it was already time for him to go meet the neighbor.
He entered the house with a fast beating heart, and sat in the living room full of anxiety. The woman sat in front of him, served a cup of tea, took the cat on her knees and started talking while stroking him softly.
“I’m glad you came. I wanted to get to know you better, since we are going to be neighbors. Like I told you and your mother yesterday, I’m Mrs. Kim I have lived here for fifteen years already and I love my house. This is my cat, Cutie, do you want to take her on your knees ?”
She handed him the animal, took a sip of the tea in her cup and resumed :
“The poor kitty was left by the lake. I found it almost drowned. I couldn’t leave it behind in such a state, and took it home with me. It was four years ago. Already ! Haha.”
While she was talking, Changmin looked around and his eyes fell on a garden. She saw him looking there and started chatting happily.
“Oh, you saw my little garden ? I love it. I have a vegetable garden where I grow tomatoes and all sorts of herbs. Actually the tea you are drinking is from there. I grew it myself. It’s quite good, I think.”
He listened to her babbling on plants, wondering if he could see the boy upstairs again. She had not told a word about him, which made him think it was because it was a ghost, and she probably didn’t want him to be scared. He was sure now that she didn’t plan to kill him. She was just lonely and wanted to talk to someone.
He stayed with her for an hour before putting down the cat and asking her for the bathroom before leaving. She told him to go upstairs and that he could leave afterwards. She would go to her garden and take a look at her vegetables.
He thanked her for the tea and waited for her to be outside before heading upstairs. He headed to the room on tip-toe and was happy to find the room half open, like the previous day. He took a look warily inside and found the boy lying on his bed.
This time, he was wearing a light green shirt and dark green trousers. He was singing alone, and Changmin felt his heart skip a few beats when he heard his soft voice. It was beautiful. He was singing a sad melody, and his voice suited it perfectly.
He listened to him until the end, then left, without a word.
The next few days, Changmin woke up excited. He went to see the old woman every day. Actually he was looking forward to that moment. He liked listening to the old woman, she reminded him of his own grandmother, who was dead only one year ago.
One day, his mother told him she had many things to do that day and she couldn’t stay home, so she wanted him to go to the neighbor’s house. She had already made an arrangement with the old woman, that her son would go buy groceries for her, and then stay at her house until she came back.
He didn’t mind doing the groceries, and wondered if Yoochun and his friends knew she ate normal food, just like what he and his mother usually ate. One thing for sure, she was not poisoning her tea, because she drank it as well. He had seen her make it and drink it.
The other thing Changmin wanted to make sure of is that the boy upstairs existed. He was pretty sure he was not a ghost, because the last time he had been in his room, he had seen a cup of tea on his bedside table. A ghost would not drink tea. But the old woman never talked about him.
He finished buying everything on the list and went back home. When he arrived at his neighbor’s door, he found the little cat waiting for him outside the house, and took him in his arms. He rang and waited for the old woman, who soon appeared.
She was grateful for the groceries and chatted happily while putting them away in the fridge. When she was finished, she went to the garden with Changmin and showed him his vegetables. He asked a few questions about the way to plant some of the vegetables, and about the watering, since they were in the end of august and it was rather sunny. Changmin felt at ease with her. He knew she was nice and caring. She had a simple life, and he liked to be there, with her talking about everything and nothing. He almost forgot everything while listening to her, and when it was time for him to leave, she told him :
“If you want to use the bathroom before leaving, you already know the way.”
Changmin looked surprised at her, and understood just by the smile she gave him, a tender and trusting smile.
He went upstairs and took a look inside the room. This time, he found the boy sitting on a small couch next to the window. His eyes were closed, and Changmin watched him for a few minutes before being sure he was asleep.
Changmin recalled the soft smile the old woman had given him, and with a little confidence, entered the room. He came closer to the boy, and watched him. He was even more beautiful now that he saw him close. His features were beautiful and Changmin stared at his fleshy pink lips. He couldn’t think of anything but them. They looked so tasty… Changmin wondered if he could kiss them. He came closer, closer. He could feel his breath on him. A little closer, and… Shit.
The boy had awoken. He was staring at him. Yet, strangely enough, he didn’t make a move. He seemed to stare blankly. As if… As if he didn’t see him. Changmin felt his heart pace rise, but didn’t dare make a move, as comprehension slowly made its way through his mind.
The boy was blind. He couldn’t see anything. He closed his big eyes and went back to sleep. Changmin waited for him to be asleep before heading back downstairs. But instead of leaving the house, he went to the garden, where the old woman was finishing watering her plants. She looked at him and immediately understood. He knew. She followed him inside and sat in her chair, in front of him.
“So, you have eventually figured everything out. I bet you are scared. Maybe you want to leave and not come back anymore, ever.”
“No, Mrs. Kim. I don’t want to leave. I… I am quite curious actually. Could you tell me… About him ?”
“He’s my only grandson. That you probably already knew. He’s my daughter’s son. When she and her husband died in a crash accident, Jaejoong, my grandson, was with them. He was so shocked that he lost sight. Actually, he is not blind. It’s just that he hasn’t recovered from the shock yet. I brought him in my house, I hoped he would forget about it and get better, but instead he locked himself inside the house. He never meets anyone and stays by himself the whole time.”
Changmin understood now. It was quite sad, but if the woman let him try, he would put his efforts into making friends with him. He knew she agreed to that already. That was the meaning of her smile earlier. He got up and prepared to leave but she grabbed his arm and added :
“You need to know one more thing. The fact that he can’t seem to see now has made him apprehensive about his surroundings. You have probably noticed that everything is very clean in this house. He can’t touch or be touched by other people, he is afraid of dirt. You can call it a phobia. Because he can’t see the germs, he fears them. I think it’s because when he had the accident, his parents were bleeding and their clothes were a little dirtied. Don’t get sensitive about it if he doesn’t accept your touch. He just needs time.
Changmin went home and thought about a plan to become friends with Jaejoong.
The next day, he decided to meet Yoochun. After all, he had said he once went to the old woman’s house. Maybe he knew something.
He looked for them in the park, hoping Yoochun and his group would come and accept him after hearing the news.
He finally found them hidden behind a shrub, hitting something. Changmin came closer and found it was the little cat he had seen at the old woman’s house. He tried to stop them and said :
“Why are you hitting the poor cat? He’s defenseless.”
“It’s that crazy old woman’s cat. It must be dangerous,” one of them answered.
“No, she’s not. I think she’s just a normal old woman, who tries to be nice with us.”
“Have you visited her ?” Yoochun asked.
“Yes, she is very kind. I even drank her tea, and as you can see, I’m not dead.”
“You must be as crazy as her. Let’s leave him alone.”
“Wait, Yoochun, I want to ask you something. Did you… By chance… Did you meet someone else in her house, when you were inside ?”
He avoided the inquisitive looks his friends threw at him, and looked at Yoochun.
“No. She was alone. Why, did you ?”
Changmin didn’t want to admit he knew there was someone else, so he shook his head.
Someone joked and said maybe it was a ghost, and the others laughed. Changmin didn’t answer. They called him a pussy, because they thought he had not dared go to the house, and with that, they left.
He took the little cat in his arms and went to the old woman’s house. He was glad he didn’t talk about her grandson. They didn’t deserve to know him.
He went back to the old woman’s house. He rang and waited for her to come open the door. He gave her back the little cat; she thanked him and let him in.
He drank a cup of tea with her, and then she left for her garden and left him alone in the house. He knew she had just cleared the way for him to meet her grandson. He grabbed a box in his bag, and went upstairs. He took a look inside and found the boy lying on his bed, singing. Once again he listened to his beautiful voice. But when he finished the song, Changmin started :
“It was beautiful. You should become a singer.”
He knew he had startled the boy, so he waited for him to talk first.
“Who are you ? Don’t come close to me !”
“Don’t worry, I will stay here, near the door. I’m Changmin, your new neighbor.”
He waited for Jaejoong to be reassured and said :
“I heard you singing. You have a beautiful voice. I recognized the song. It’s kpop, isn’t it ?”
“I bet you won’t recognize this one. It’s brand new. I heard it this morning in the radio. Listen.”
And Changmin started singing.
“You have a nice voice too.”
And with that they spent the afternoon talking about music. When it was time for Changmin to leave, he asked Jaejoong if he could come back the next day. Jaejoong agreed. Before leaving, he said :
“Also, just so you know. I brought a box of wipes. You don’t need to fear my germs. I will always clean my hands before entering your room.”
Changmin knew Jaejoong was weird. But when he saw for the first time his full smile, he thought it was worth the try.
The next months, he went to Jaejoong’s room every day. He started rather cautiously, he didn’t want the boy to feel invaded and pressured, but as things went he was soon pretty sure Jaejoong liked to be with him. When he was not at school, he was in Jaejoong’s room. They slowly built a relationship despite the fact that Jaejoong couldn’t see him.
Changmin had felt his feelings change. From the early enticement he had felt in the beginning, there was no more mark, except for a slight blush once in a while. He had grown accustomed to Jaejoong’s beauty and his feelings had calmed down. He also knew he was still very attracted by the man, but he felt at ease with him, and he secretly enjoyed being the only one close to him.
Jaejoong, on the other hand, had found a friend in Changmin. He loved to be with him, to listen to his voice, to listen to him talking about school, about his school friends, about his mom nagging at him for never being home. He, who had been alone for so long, enjoyed his presence more than anyone.
One day, Changmin talked about his art class and about an assignment he had, which consisted in drawing someone’s face. He had chosen Jaejoong, who accepted with embarrassment. After Changmin had finished his homework, he asked :
“Jae, would you like to know what I look like ?”
Jaejoong threw him a puzzled look. Changmin came closer to him. He reassured him by saying first that he had cleaned his hands with a wipe, then he took Jaejoong’s hands in his own, and put them on his face. Then he let go of Jaejoong’s hands.
Jaejoong, who felt his face reddening, didn’t move for a few moments. But then he thought it was a chance for him to get to know more about Changmin, and he carefully moved his fingers on his friend’s face. He went back and forth, his fingers lingered on his friend’s cheekbones, then on his eyebrows. When he came down to his lips, he felt his heart race and felt hot. He finally pulled back and murmured :
“Thank you, Minnie.”
Both were so hot they didn’t add a word, and Changmin left.
Jaejoong had figured out since then that his feelings for Changmin were more than ones for a friend, but he didn’t dare say a word about it. He didn’t want to lose his only friend.
Months went by like this, with the boys growing up and finding themselves teenagers.
Jaejoong had another secret for his friend. He had noticed that he was starting seeing shades. He was not sure, so he didn’t say anything, but he thought he was starting differentiating when the lights were on and when they were off. He told his grandmother to take him to a doctor, and indeed they found he was starting recovering.
He followed his doctor’s advices to exercise his eyes at least an hour per day, and when he was sure he could see, he memorized one of the choreographs of Changmin’s favorite band. He waited to be sure and one night, when Changmin was about to leave, he told him to wait and look. And he danced.
Actually, he had made many mistakes, but Changmin didn’t notice. He recognized the moves and exclaimed :
“I know these moves ! It’s from an MV of DBSK ! How did you-“
He stopped and slowly comprehension hit him. Jaejoong’s smile confirmed him, but he needed to hear it.
“Can you really… See ?”
“Your eyes mismatch when you smile happily. Your teeth are smaller than mine. You have a handsome face, darker than mine. You are also bigger and more muscled than me. I can see the effects of the working out you have done lately. Your shirt is nice, but I like you better in white. Do you need more details ?
“You can see ! Jaejoong-ah ! It’s great ! I’m so happy for you !”
They were so happy that they jumped in each other’s embrace and squealed for a moment before self consciousness took over their happiness. They stopped suddenly jumping and let go of the other at the same time, and embarrassment rose inside them. Jaejoong took a few wipes and wiped himself. Changmin murmured something about telling his mother, said good bye and left.
The next weeks, they enjoyed the news together, watching many movies and music videos, and comparing their thought about everything they saw. Until summer break came.
One day, it was at the beginning of July, Changmin was lazily sitting on the little couch in Jaejoong’s room while the latter was lying on his bed. He wondered what Jaejoong did during school time.
“I have not gone to school for two years now. But I have studied here, with granny.”
“What about trying to go back ?”
“You know I can’t.”
“Because of germs. I can’t stand the thought of getting near so many germs.”
“What about letting me cure you ?”
Changmin smiled. He knew Jaejoong was the straight forward type. If he didn’t want Changmin to meddle in with it, he would have just told him. Instead, Jaejoong gave him an inquisitive look, which made Changmin make up his mind. He would definitely cure him by the time school started.
The next day, Changmin brought a microscope with him. He explained to Jaejoong that he had thought of becoming a doctor, and that his father had bought him the microscope to encourage him. He then took the little spoon that was in Jaejoong’s cup of tea, and wiped it with a wipe. Then he rubbed the wipe on the microscope slide and placed it in its place. He then adjusted the magnifying glass and asked Jaejoong to look at it. He did the same with his own spoon, and made Jaejoong look once again. They he told him :
“See ? You and I have the same germs inside our bodies. You can brush your teeth as much as you want, you will always have germs. You need them. It helps you digest your food. It is also good to be exposed to many kinds of germs, because the world is full of them, and if you are not used to them, you get sick easily.”
Jaejoong made him do the same experience with several other items in his room, and admitted he never expected them to be so dirty. But it was one thing to admit the truth, and another to act likewise.
Changmin thought the first thing to do now was to make him go outside. And he had a good idea to make him do so. He went to see the old woman and told her not to make tea for Jaejoong anymore.
She didn’t ask why, and just nodded, which he was grateful for. When two days later, Jaejoong complained about it to Changmin, the latter didn’t pity him, nor did he go downstairs to bring him some. He told him that starting now if Jaejoong wanted tea, he should just make it himself. Which meant go to the garden and pick up some leaves himself.
Jaejoong asked Changmin to accompany him, and they went to the garden. Jaejoong took his time to observe his grandmother’s plants, and Changmin showed him the good leaves, like the old woman had showed him before.
Jaejoong showed interest and soon took a deep breath in before grabbing some leaves with his hands and showing them proudly to Changmin. They went to the kitchen, washed them and made some tea together. After that Jaejoong washed his hands three times and rubbed them with a wipe.
The next day, Changmin told Jaejoong that he would take him to a nice place. At first Jaejoong panicked. It had been a long time since he last went outside his house. Changmin knew that but told him it was not far from there. If he wanted to, he could always hold his hand. Both Jaejoong and Changmin blushed at the thought. But when Jaejoong was in front of the door, he grabbed Changmin’s hand without hesitation and held on it tightly. Changmin led him to the park, and made him sit on a bench. Jaejoong wiped all the sides of the bench before agreeing to sit on it, and once he did, he sat and looked around.
It was beautiful. Jaejoong liked the sight, which reminded him of his own garden, but there was also the lake, which made a great change in his habits.
Changmin and Jaejoong came back the next day, and the day after. Changmin wanted Jaejoong to get used to the fresh air. He also tried to make him sit directly on the grass. Jaejoong was not at ease at first, because he would dirty his trousers. But he tried, just to please Changmin. He sat on the grass and used his hands to support him. He then looked at them and saw they had soil on them. He looked at Changmin but didn’t use a wipe. He forced himself to endure until he was back home.
Changmin was very proud of him. He knew it was hard but he hoped it would be okay for Jaejoong to go to school in September. He asked his grandmother to register him in his school, though they wouldn’t be in the same class, since Jaejoong was two years older than Changmin.
Changmin helped Jaejoong study during the last months to make sure he would be at ease when attending class for the first time after so long.
The first days Jaejoong went to school, everything went good. At least, that was what Changmin thought. Jaejoong had gone through all classes without skipping any of them. He had been reassured about his level and said he had got a head start on his classmates. He even had made friends with a nice guy called Yunho.
But Jaejoong didn’t seem happy when he was with Changmin. He witnessed every day girls that confessed to Changmin, and Jaejoong was starting feeling jealous. Not of Changmin, but of the girls. He wanted to confess too, but he didn’t know how.
One day, Yoochun met Changmin and Jaejoong at lunch. He came with his usual bunch of friends and looked at the two boys with anger. He was not happy with Changmin, who had found a new friend by himself. He decided to make fun of him and said meanly :
“Where did you find that girl friend of you, Changmin-ah ? She seems so delicate. Could it be a doll ?”
The whole school seemed to be gathered there to witness what Changmin would say back. He was known as witty and smart. They expected him to get angry. But he surprised everyone with his answer :
“It’s not my girlfriend, it’s my boyfriend. And he seems delicate because he is pale, but he is actually more muscled than me. He beats me in arm wrestling. Isn’t he great ?”
Jaejoong, blushing, opened his mouth but couldn’t say a word. He waited for them both to be back in his house, alone, to ask :
“Min-ah, about earlier… Were you… Were you joking ?”
Changmin took a deep breath and answered :
“I was serious about every single word I said. Though you might not feel the same…”
“I do ! I do, I swear !”
Jaejoong kissed Changmin, and afterwards, to hide his embarrassment, asked him :
“Would you like a cup of tea ?”