I'm exhausted from school. :( I wrote this to comfort myself.
The key to stopping Jaejoong’s nightmares is to let him believe he is dreaming.
He drowns in his dreams
An exquisite extreme I know.
Kelly Clarkson; Beautiful Disaster
The nightmares come even before debut.
Yunho had always been acutely aware of them; they haunted the first moments of Jaejoong’s open, tired eyes, the last of those painful dreams lingering within the lines of his pale face. Yunho would cradle Jaejoong’s head in his hands, tilt Jaejoong’s face left and right to coax the sleep out of Jaejoong’s groggy expression. “Wake up, wake up,” he would murmur, tone laced with affection as the older boy tries to swat him away. But Yunho thumbs the other’s cheeks, gently teasing the smile back into pink lips as the morning sun seeps in through the windows. It is only then that the slippery remains of these nightmares leave, fears and insecurities melting into the smile within Jaejoong’s slowly waking face. “Good morning,” Yunho says, and Jaejoong would look back at him, droopy-eyed and happy.
He never asks Jaejoong what the nightmares are about, and Jaejoong never tells him. Dong Bang Shin Ki happens, and Yoochun becomes Jaejoong’s roommate and confidante, the two giggling together in the cold of the balcony as wisps of cigarette smoke lift in the air between them. Yunho sits in the living room most nights, distracted from the documents in his lap as he watches them laugh against the evening breeze through the glass of the balcony doors.
“Did you know he’s been having nightmares?”
Yunho looks up at Yoochun from behind his glasses. Yoochun is seated opposite him at the dining table one winter’s evening, his face a picture of concentration as his fingers move maniacally over his GameBoy. Yunho removes his glasses and sets down the paper, an eyebrow raised.
“He’d tell me if he were – “
“Nope.” Yoochun winces, and from the battle sound Yunho figures that he’s probably lost the stage. Yoochun sighs and meets Yunho’s eyes, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. “Listen. I don’t want to sell Jae out. It’s just – he’s told me you’ve helped him with this problem, back with Four Seasons – “
Yunho has to smile a little at the memory. HeeChul never believed for a moment that Jaejoong was having nightmares. “The attention-seeking brat,” he had said harshly, after Yunho had woken Jaejoong up yet another morning and teased the fatigue from his troubled eyes – “he’s just doing this on purpose so you’d mollycoddle him, Yunho-ah.”
If HeeChul had taken the trouble to look at Jaejoong in the first moments of morning, Yunho had always thought, perhaps he’d think differently. Fear was ugly on Jaejoong’s delicate features, and so were the tears he tried to hide with the back of his hand.
“How long has this been going on?” he says at present. Yoochun looks guilty for a moment.
“Since I met him, really,” he replies, and Yunho opens his mouth to protest at that. Yoochun holds up his hand. “I know, I know,” he cuts in before Yunho gets out a word, “You thought the nightmares stopped. They haven’t. Jaejoong just doesn’t want to worry you. He thinks it’s unfair of him to expect you to baby him every morning. And he’s got a fair point there.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Yunho says finally. A part of him feels hurt that Jaejoong hid this from him, but Yoochun’s expression suggests that there is more to this than just what he’s telling him.
The GameBoy emits a scary sounding tune, and Yoochun’s face alights with glee for a fleeting moment before he clears his throat and looks back to Yunho. “He hasn’t been sleeping well, and if this goes on, he might just lose it.” he pauses, and his lips tug into a little smile. “And if you’re the only one who can make Jaejoong feel better… then you deserve to know, Yunho-ah.”
Yunho stills, hand poised on the knob as he pushes the door open. The room is freezing, windows left open even in the midst of winter. Yoochun’s snores echo past the walls, loud and engrossed in sleep. Yunho pads into the room and pauses by Jaejoong’s bed, leaning forwards as he watches the older boy fidget in his sleep. His breath catches as his fingers trail past moon kissed cheeks.
Jaejoong’s face is wet.
“Idiot,” Yunho whispers. “Idiot.” Yet the guilt he feels tells him that it is his own fault for not noticing, for not probing Jaejoong any further than he should. Jaejoong moves over suddenly, a frown creasing his face as his lips part, ever so slightly –
Yunho’s hands find their way into Jaejoong’s hair, the strands falling past his fingers as Jaejoong tosses and turns, and Yunho sits down on the bed, leans over Jaejoong’s limp body and kisses his ear. “Jaejoong-ah,” he says softly. “Hey.”
But Jaejoong doesn’t wake up, only curls around Yunho’s warmth and tucks his nose into the side of Yunho’s thigh. He can’t help the smile that presses into his lips. He’s beautiful, Yunho thinks, so damn beautiful for a boy. He presses another kiss at the corners of Jaejoong’s lips, and the frown leaves the boy’s sleeping face as a sigh escapes him.
Yunho stays until Jaejoong’s breaths even, the clench in his fist uncurling against the blankets. Yunho smiles as Jaejoong’s face disappears behind the covers. Jaejoong, he can’t help but think, is adorable.
“Sweet dreams,” he murmurs. He pushes the hair from the other’s closed eyes before he leaves, closing the door quietly behind him.
Yoochun wakes up to Jaejoong sitting up in bed, fingers against rosebud lips. “Good morning,” he says.
Jaejoong looks up, startled, and the first thing Yoochun notices is that Jaejoong’s eye bags are gone. He blinks at the sight and has to hold back a grin.
“Good morning,” Jaejoong replies after a moment, and for the first time in a long time he seems to mean it.
Yunho bursts in, and he looks relieved to see them awake. Yoochun is immediately out of bed, pushing past Yunho and racing Junsu to the bathroom, their shrieks completely out of place at this early hour. But Yunho turns his attention to Jaejoong, and his lips pull into a smile. “Hey. Had a good sleep?”
A blush fills Jaejoong’s cheeks, and Yunho’s breath stills ever so slightly. Then Jaejoong nods in answer, eyes crinkling behind a slow smile.
“You know, you never told me what your nightmares back then were about,” Yunho says a week later, hands clasped over his coffee cup as Jaejoong smokes. The air is freezing, but they stand there in the balcony barefooted, their only warmth coming from each other’s bodies. Jaejoong hums under his breath as his shoulder rests against Yunho’s, his gaze resting over the city view.
“Ah, it’s nothing, really.” but Yunho holds onto his wrist, and Jaejoong looks up at the leader’s face. “Nothing that I want to think about, Yunho-ah,” he says quietly.
Yunho’s eyes stay on his, and Jaejoong breaks the stare as he takes in another breath of smoke. Yunho doesn’t approve of the habit, but very few things put a smile to Jaejoong’s face of late. Jaejoong closes his eyes, leaning into the taller man.
“My dreams confuse me more than my nightmares,” he says, his voice almost inaudible now. The silence stays between them, blankets them in the chill of the evening as Jaejoong’s fingers intertwine with Yunho’s for warmth. Yunho turns slightly, and Jaejoong’s face is close to his, too close.
“What do you dream of?” Yunho asks, his breath warm against the other’s cheek.
Jaejoong doesn’t answer, only lets out a small laugh as he looks away.
When Yoochun sits up a few mornings later, Jaejoong is already awake, curled into the window seat as he watches the snow outside. He shifts slightly, resting his chin on his palm as he watches his friend. “Awake so early?” he mumbles, stifling a yawn. Jaejoong glances back at him, and Yoochun feels a jolt in the region of his stomach at the sight.
“I had the weirdest dream,” Jaejoong says.
Yoochun studies him, and he can’t help but notice that despite the early hour Jaejoong’s face is kind of glowing. Maybe it’s the sunlight, but he’s never seen Jaejoong look more beautiful.
Yoochun’s bed is empty when Yunho enters the room, having gone home to his family for the night. The air is still within the space, and he sits down on Jaejoong’s bed. His friend’s face is peaceful, eyelashes fluttering across pale cheeks as he buries his nose into his pillow. He shouldn’t be here, Yunho knows, not if Jaejoong isn’t having nightmares. Yet he finds himself drawn to the sleeping boy, the back of his fingers resting against the curve of Jaejoong’s neck. The cold in his skin makes Jaejoong shudder under his touch, and Yunho can’t help a quiet chuckle as Jaejoong’s hand seeks out his own.
“Mmmhnn…” Yunho bites back his smile as Jaejoong shifts in closer to Yunho’s body, like he does each night when Yunho is there. He shouldn’t, Yunho knows, but just once, he tells himself. Just once –
His lips press onto Jaejoong’s, gentle and warm. The intimacy makes Yunho’s heart skip a beat. Jaejoong’s eyelashes tickle his cheek, noses brushing before Yunho moves to pull away. But he freezes when he realizes Jaejoong’s lips are moving against his, and his eyes slip open –
To meet Jaejoong’s.
His heart stops for a moment. Yunho doesn’t move, doesn’t breathe – until Jaejoong smiles sleepily at him, closes his eyes and kisses him again.
“Please tell me I’m not dreaming,” he whispers, voice thick from sleep, as if he’s not really awake yet. “Please.”
And Yunho hears it, the soft pleading in Jaejoong’s fingers as they brush across his cheeks, in the shallow of his breathing, in the depth of his kisses against Yunho’s mouth.
He thumbs gently at the corners of Jaejoong’s eyes, hands slipping into the other’s dark hair.
“You’re not dreaming, Jaejoong-ah.”
The joy in Jaejoong’s smile makes Yunho lean in and cover the other’s mouth with his own – Yunho’s hands holding Jaejoong’s face close, Jaejoong’s feet in between Yunho’s - and then they are kissing each other once more and over again, until the night slips away into sunrise.
When Jaejoong wakes up, he finds Yunho’s sleeping face beside his. Yunho’s eyes open to meet his in the pale light of morning, and Jaejoong realizes with a little smile that for the first time in a long time, he’s no longer just dreaming.