Written for themedpop's MV challenge. Based on Se7en's I'm Going Crazy MV.
Taemin and Sulli are perfect together. Except not.
We are over
But that’s not what my heart wants to say.
Se7en; I'm Going Crazy
Taemin and lady friend out for a drink? (Source: Star News)
She’s screaming again, the way she always does when he fucks up. I am not interested in what you do in your private life – and she says the word private like it’s a swear word, rolls it on her tongue with disdain – as long as you don’t drag me into this. It’s too cold outside and she’s soaked to the bone as she shouts him down at the door, because Jinri can’t contain her temper these days, not with the amount of stress that comes with success – the words rhyme for a reason.
“It was just one date,” he hears himself say, even though Kibum’s told him time and time again that he has no need to justify himself to her of all people – “one date, Jinri. It’s not a big deal.”
“It’s a big fucking deal if it’s on the internet.” Jinri’s wrath is famous, not among just their circle but everyone else who’s worked with her; the ones who clip her hair or conceal her dark eye circles, the idols who’ve hosted shows with her or partnered her on variety hours. “I don’t care about you, but I do care about my career. Do you know how bad this will look on me if the press thinks you’re cheating on me?”
“I was careful,” he says. Jinri’s shaking, the way she always does when she’s exhausted from running like a madwoman from schedule to schedule.
“Not careful enough. Keep your private life private and leave the damn press out of it! Is that so hard?”
She leaves, a crumpled envelope pressed into his palm, paper edges sharp enough to cut. It invites him to the next awards show, as Jinri’s date, of course, because that’s been his obligation for years. She’s been nominated three times. Her footprints are wet, soaks into the wooden flooring of his corridor.
Minho, Onew, Sulli nominated at SBS Entertainment Awards (Source: SBS)
He watches Jinri’s dramas on the evenings that Minho isn’t there to distract him, yakking on about his new variety scripts or about Suzy. Taemin’s not much of a crier, but Jinri’s too good an actress. He always falls apart at the same scene, the one where she tells the lead actor don’t go home, I need you here. She’s flawless, achingly so.
He’s not sure if he’s heartbroken about the storyline or the disparity between fiction and reality.
Minho and Suzy – Taemin’s not sure when they started dating, only they’ve pretty much flown under the media’s radar the entire time. He envies that, even if he doesn’t tell them. Minho doesn’t come home often now because he practically lives with her, and Taemin’s sure they’re about to tell him any day now that Minho’s going to move out.
At least until Taemin stops avoiding the topic. He’s a sadist that way.
Taemin decides that he likes Suzy anyway, because she’s so sweet in ways that make his insides curl – from longing or jealousy Taemin isn’t sure himself. She brings him coffee some days, and he hates coffee but he doesn’t tell her so because she’s lovely company and he’s lonely sometimes.
“Jinri is so wonderful,” she always says wistfully, when they watch Jinri’s dramas together. Her shoulder brushing his as she settles on the couch.
Yes, she’s good. Suzy, he means.
He wonders casually on some nights about what the hell he’s going to do when Minho finally does move out. Convert his room to a studio of mirrors or put a damn gym in there. He supposes he could use the bulking up.
He doesn’t want to think about it for now.
We Got Married Special Edition to air in December (Source: Newsen)
Her tantrums never last. She phones at four in the morning because – these secrets that she keeps. Taemin thinks sometimes if she doesn’t tell anyone, she’ll implode into herself.
He picks her call out of reflex, sleep lingering in his skin and bones like a lethargy.
“Yonghwa-oppa doesn’t really like Seohyun-unni,” she’s whispering, before he can get a word in. “He is – despicable. He’s said some awful things, and everyone just – let him. And I was right there, but he just went on and on, and he smokes even more than he drinks. God. Why does she put up with him? He obviously has a type and it isn’t her – “
“Jinri,” he mumbles, too tired to move.
“Don’t do this to me,” Jinri is saying, and there’s an edge of hysteria in the pitch of her voice. “If you don’t like me, tell it to my face. Don’t humiliate me like that. I wanted to die for unni’s sake. Or sock him in his drunken face. He was supposed to be my friend. I liked him.” There is distress in the heaving of her breaths. “I hate everyone in this industry, I can’t stand it.”
“…You can’t even stand me, remember?”
“You’re just a distraction.”
“A good one?”
“One I can tolerate. You’re too sentimental, oppa, it’s no wonder you don’t get anything done. You work hard but you don’t strategize, do you?”
It’s just the way she works. Everything leads up to her career. Planning and strategy and public relations and all the shit Taemin’s glad to have left behind with SHINee. “There’s nothing wrong with just working hard,” he says with a resigned sigh. “Why aren’t you sleeping? You sound like you’re going to collapse.”
A rustle of paper. “I got to memorize my scripts… so much to do, so little time. Where do you get so much time to sleep?”
“I’m not exactly the movie star that you are, you know.”
Jinri clucks under her tongue. “Lousy excuse. You haven’t told me who she is.”
“The girl you went out with. The pictures on the internet.”
“Oh.” Taemin rolls onto his stomach, blinking the sleep out of his eyes as he considers this. “I told you. It was just one date. We’re not serious – “
“I tried to tell you that but you were too busy screaming.”
Jinri huffs, indignant. “I wasn’t screaming.”
“Yes you were. Hysterically.”
Taemin smiles at the familiar impatience in her tone. “Kibum-hyung introduced us,” he relents. He thinks about this girl, Inyoung, with her strange wide-brimmed hats and open smile. “She’s cute. You might like her if we all sat down for dinner or something.”
A gentle snort. “Do I look like I have time to sit down for dinner?” He can almost hear the wheels in her head clicking, clicking, in time to the lines from her script. Jinri is electric, ignited whenever she throws herself to her work. “This role is stupid. Am I going to end up playing a dimwitted rich child for the rest of my life? I don’t even get the guy, Park Minyoung-sunbae does.”
Taemin can’t help chuckling at this. “You don’t have to take these roles, you know.”
“I’m not an A-lister yet, mind you, it’s not like I have a choice in these things.” The word yet is a signifier of her ambition; he hears the hunger in her voice, the same self-deprecation that comes from her whenever she’s reminded of that very fact. Jinri, he knows, can be too hard on herself.
“Just do what you need to,” he says at last, voice muffled into his pillow as he stifles a yawn. “I’m here.”
“Just a little while. Until Soojung gets on Skype.” There’s a wear in her voice. “I hate the dark.”
“So do I,” Taemin says.
Choi Sulli to star in new KBS drama, ‘Symphony in Spring’ (Source: Newsen)
Sunyoung thinks they’re a cute couple because she has preconceived notions of romance. Something about a fairy tale, happily ever after, et cetera. Taemin is an idealist, but he’s not delusional. He got his happily ever after in the press, after the company forced them to couple up even though Taemin had never confessed and Jinri had never talked about her feelings – but the press likes the idea of them and Jinri likes the press.
Taemin just likes Jinri, but that gets lost in the hoohaa of things. The hullabaloo of the paparazzi. The whirlwind of a fandom that ships them in a sickened fashion.
“So the choreography thing’s working out for you, then?” Sunyoung asks. “I bumped into Yunho-oppa at the office yesterday.”
“Really?” Taemin feels a nervous flutter in his stomach despite himself. “Did he say anything?”
“Just that you should join Dong Bang Shin Ki. They need a new maknae.” Sunyoung bursts out laughing at Taemin’s wide eyes. “He thinks the world of you, you know that.”
“Yeah, um, well.” Taemin ducks his head. “It’s been going well. Haven’t felt this way since…” Since SHINee’s debut, really. “He likes my work? I mean, he tells me he does, but it’s hard to tell with Yunho-hyung, he’s just so nice – “
“He’s nice, but he’s also honest.” Sunyoung watches him carefully, her eyes crinkling. “He likes what you’ve done so far, Taemin. You worry too much.” She sips at her coffee. “It’s going to be okay, trust me.”
“I know,” Taemin says in a low voice. “It’s just… I haven’t really done anything. For a year. I mean.” He smiles faintly. “It’s good to be on track again.”
“I’m glad.” She returns his smile. “…How’s Jinri?”
“Well-mannered, as always,” Taemin says after consideration. He already knows Sunyoung’s going to pay for the coffee to make up for Jinri. Taemin doesn’t particularly care for coffee, but he doesn’t stop her. If it makes her feel better.
“It’s good you’re with her,” Sunyoung says haltingly. “She can be hard to deal with, I know. I wish Soojung or Heechul-oppa were here. She was so much happier with them around, I think. She doesn’t open up much to me lately.” A pause. “I think she’s stressed. You know how she gets with her schedules.”
They always make excuses for Jinri. Stress, lack of sleep, whatever. Amber says it’s child-star syndrome. Taemin suspects that she’s really the reason f(x) never worked out. She’s an individualist in spite of her fondness for her members, always seeking opportunity to advance. Jinri pays attention by keeping to herself, knows what she wants but comes off like a bitch. And she can be one, he tells Sunyoung later. Especially with the most recent midnight call asking him to go to Hongdae with her because she craved roasted chestnuts and black coffee. (And there’s more credibility to a couple hanging out in the dead of night, isn’t there?) Taemin and variety shows hold the same meaning to her. They contribute to that acting career she wants so badly, and so she sucks it up and does it.
Sunyoung pays for the coffee.
Taemin and Sulli photospread for HIGH CUT (Source: Yahoo!Media)
Taemin has realized, a year after SHINee’s disbandment, that he is a flop. An idol can exist alone if he has a voice. This is why Dong Bang Shin Ki can tear itself apart and still remain a constellation in a sky of black. SHINee disintegrates like a supernova, bright and brief, swallowed up. They’ll never be as great as the sum of their parts, never again. He gets disillusioned with the world and he hates his company and the qualities that he lacks, secretly resents Jonghyun for his solo career and Minho for his success in variety. He forgets about singing because they’ll never give him an album on his voice.
It’s Changmin who drags him out of the hellhole for soju with Kyuhyun. They’re a collection of maknaes without the hyungs who matter. Taemin thinks it’s funny until his stomach is churning from the alcohol. Changmin makes him show them a dance move or two, when they’re half drunk in the playground with Kyuhyun sprawled all over the park bench. Then he asks, through hiccups and slur, if Taemin wants to choreograph Dong Bang Shin Ki’s last comeback before their military service. They’re old now, could use some new blood.
Yunho is excited about the collaboration, and they work for nights on end on the project. It’s here that Taemin thinks that there is a future to look forward to, possibly. For the first time in a long time, he’s actually needed for something that matters.
Ex-SHINee’s Taemin to choreograph for Dong Bang Shin Ki’s comeback (Source: Sportsworld)
Here’s the problem with the term happily ever after – what happens after is often ignored. Taemin’s ever after consists of endless award shows on Jinri’s behalf, attending pointless events just to get their faces on gossip rags, and doing loving photoshoots with a girl who thinks he’s a moron. Whenever these things need to happen his phone is flooded by calls from Jinri’s publicists. Or Jinri herself. Taemin can’t decide which is worse now. Her publicists are rude and disrespectful, but Jinri is rude and disrespectful and he is in love with her. It’s a sick pleasure in seeing her name thirty-eight times on his Missed Call list, and a crescendo of sorts when she finally turns up in person to shout at him.
He usually puts up with her moods, partially because he’s so used to it. Some days like today he’s not in the mood to mollycoddle her. All he wants to do is drop dead on his bed until morning. But Jinri always has to get what she wants, at his expense and everyone else’s. She finds him in his car about to leave the studio, smacking her Prada bag against his car window and telling him to unlock the damn door.
He can’t count the number of nicks and scratches his car’s suffered under her temper.
“Stop taking it out on the car,” he snaps, as she falls into the passenger seat and slams the door – “I was working on Yunho-hyung’s choreography. You could have texted.”
“Don’t be an idiot, oppa. You don’t reply my texts.”
So he’s a little shit like that. He does what little he can to aggravate her the way she does to him. It’s really kind of pathetic, Taemin thinks, blinking furiously. How they’ve come to this. Faking a relationship to remain relevant.
“I need your guarantee that you’ll be attending.” Jinri’s tone is clipped now, business-like. “The press is on it. They want to know.”
“Are we going to keep at this forever, Jinri?” he asks shortly. “Con the public just to stay in their favour? Just so you can be the sweetheart everyone thinks you are?”
“I don’t know why you’re complaining.” She’s always curt whenever they get into these discussions, about how emotionally involved he is and how emotionally involved she isn’t. “It works out for both of us. Your fans remember you exist, I get press coverage. I’m sick of arguing about this, it’s a waste of my time.”
She’s right. She always is. Taemin closes his eyes, tired and exasperated. “I need the damn publicity more than you do, don’t I? Got to start my new career with a bang and all that.”
Jinri hates arguments, finds no pleasure in them. He isn’t surprised when she gets out of the car. She’s never let him drive her home.
Kim Kibum to feature on Kim Jonghyun’s Christmas single (Source: Daum)
Once, and only once, did Taemin attempt to figure how why he can’t shake these feelings for Jinri away. Maybe Sunyoung’s right and it’s that wretched childhood attachment, hours spent side-by-side as she whispered everybody’s secrets into his ears. She makes him feel special, as though these secrets are her very own, for him to keep for her. By age twelve she was already telling Taemin about the love affair between Jessica and Donghae. By fourteen she’s best friends with Heechul, and by sixteen she’s drinking soju with their hyungdeul. He doesn’t remember a secret she’s told him that pertains to her specifically. But it’s okay. Taemin listens hard.
He thought about it some more. It could be the very things he despises about her that he loves – her single-mindedness, her self-absorbed prattling. How she constantly fails to adjust to these idol expectations because politeness gets you nowhere, don’t you know? She makes the world out to be an obstacle that she has to overcome; always push, push, never pull. But these are only stubborn explanations. An expansion of an equation that he doesn’t understand in the first place. That was when Taemin stopped trying to answer the question.
Less sadist. More masochist, now.
Choi Sulli bags three honours at SBS Entertainment Awards (Source: SBS)
So, this stupid mingling thing she’s so good at when they’re at aftershow parties. She’s talking to some dimwitted executive, her laughter clear among the chatter as he gives her his name card. Taemin waits for the executive to leave before settling into the seat beside her. Jinri glances at him, her smile fading. “Oh. It’s just you.”
“Yeah.” Taemin notes the slight redness of her eyes and the flush of her cheeks, and he reaches out to take the glass from her. Jinri keeps it out of his reach, her glare venomous. “Jinri,” he says slowly, “you can’t drink.”
“Don’t tell me what I can or cannot do.” Jinri signals the bartender, and two glasses make their way over. She pushes one to Taemin, the curve of her lips both alluring and mirthless. “Just shut up and drink. I can’t stand your voice. Gives me such a headache.”
They sit there for a while, the shot glasses emptied and refilled. This is better than arguing. It’s that strange tightness in his chest once more, the one that comes whenever he’s close to her. She drinks another, her fingers trembling as the glass hits the counter. That’s when he reaches out and takes her wrist, and she’s too warm under his touch. “Hey,” he whispers.
“What did I say about your voice,” she mumbles. Taemin exhales, and she rests her head on her hand as she meets his eyes, listless and empty. The sight of her like this makes his stomach churn, out of pity or something else he isn’t even sure.
“Dance with me,” he says softly.
The corner of her lips twitches. Jinri looks at his hand over her wrist and hums in laughter. “I haven’t danced for awhile,” she says with a sigh. “No more f(x).”
“I’ll slow down for you,” he promises. “Come on.”
She doesn’t put up much of a fight. The song is pulsing and the beats are hard in Taemin’s blood, but when she presses into him his heart slows and so does his urge to follow the music. He lowers his head and closes his eyes - she smells delicious and familiar. He feels the way he does when he finds time with Jinki and Kibum these days – like home. Like everything really is okay and that he doesn’t need to worry about being left behind because everyone is moving on without him. Jinri chuckles under her breath, a tickle against his neck. “See how much better we get along when you’re quiet?”
Taemin tilts his head to meet her eyes. “It works both ways,” he corrects quietly.
Jinri stumbles slightly, and he tightens his grip on her waist. “Maybe.” He feels her smile into his shoulder. “I miss Soojung. Stupid bitch, going to America without me.”
She’s shaking again. Taemin holds on to her as they slow dance, a strange sight in a sea of partiers. But the heavy music feels far away to Taemin as Jinri breathes into him, fingers clutching to his blazer. “And I miss Heechul-oppa.” Her voice is muffled, petulant. “Fuck the army.”
He can’t help a smile at the whine in her words. “He’s doing this for the greater good,” he says lightly, as she looks up to him, a sort of hopelessness in her stare. “I’m sure they miss you too.”
“Do you?” The question is soft, almost goes unheard.
He takes her hand and finds that he doesn’t know what to say, just watching her under the dull lights with her red-rimmed eyes. She looks so beautiful and so tired, like she hadn’t slept for days. Her hand trembles in his.
“I’ll take you home,” he says.
They find Jinri’s manager at the parking lot, shouting about them not picking up their phones and Jinri has to film in five hours, you stupid dumbshit. Taemin takes the abuse as they get into the car, and the manager shoves Jinri as she gets in. “Don’t be late tomorrow,” he snaps. “Do you understand?”
The cameras flash as their car makes its way out of the arena, fans waving as their phones click in the air. Jinri looks exhausted, and Taemin tugs gently at a lock of her hair.
“You work too hard.”
Jinri looks up at him, and there’s a lack of focus in her eyes because of the alcohol. Yet he feels drawn to her, to that strange, hollow expression; Taemin loses his breath as she moves in, a gentle press of her lips on his.
She tastes like vodka and lipstick. Always different, every time he kisses her. Jinri changes scents and tries different makeup, but the essence of her is always there. Taemin holds on to it and doesn’t want to let go. He finds himself captivated as she pulls away, her fingers releasing their grip on the front his blazer. He doesn’t want to stop looking at her.
They’d only ever kissed once or twice. Taemin cherishes these memories, keeps them in the part of his chest that’s forgotten how to hurt. He chooses to forget details – how Jinri would only let him touch her if there was someone watching, how she’d played their affection up for the cameras.
And how he would put up with the charade if it meant he could be close to her like this, in private moments few and far between.
His mouth finds the skin of her shoulder as they stumble up her apartment block and through her doorstep, barely getting out of his shoes before she shuts the door behind her. He can feel her blood pulsing under his fingertips, sacred and warm. She’s holding him tight, arms wrapped around his shoulders as he tilts his head and lets her bite him in the spot near his collarbone. The way she always does whenever she forgets to be prim and proper – like he’s hers, and that the world should know this. He feels a jolt in the bottom of his stomach as the pain fades into the wetness of her tongue, languid and gentle. “Jinri,” he murmurs.
She returns his name in his ear, lips brushing against his jaw line. And then she’s boneless in his arms, head lolled to a side. He holds on to her as her breathing evens, her body limp in his arms from sleep. He hoists her onto the bed, falling into the space beside her and trying to catch his breath. She’s quiet and still, her nose tucked into the bedspread as she sleeps. Taemin watches her, reaches out to brush her hair from her cheek.
“I missed you,” he whispers. She doesn’t respond, but he prefers this, this quiet between them that’s been missing for too long. Why is this wrong, he can’t help but wonder in a daze, when everything feels so right with her?
He falls into a fitful asleep, her kiss still warm on his lips.
Staff tweets: Sulli is a diva on set? (Source: Twitter)
The morning goes to shit.
She’s shouting at him and Taemin can barely even form a coherent argument because his head is pounding so hard. All he can register is how late he is for Changmin and Yunho’s dance session and how fucking late Jinri is for her filming. Her phone is ringing and so is his and the general chaos is making him want to slam his head into the wall.
“Fuck,” Jinri is shrieking. “Fuck. Fuck.” She spins to look at Taemin, who’s barely getting up from the bed – “Get the fuck out. I can’t look at you, I need to puke as it is.”
“Stop,” he groans, holding his head and willing for the throb to lessen. Jinri stomps around the house, and he hears her slamming things and shoving stuff all over the place just for his benefit – “Jinri. Shut up.”
“You shut up!” Jinri yells. “God, if I fucking lose my job over this – “ Taemin puts his head in his hands and tries to calm his stomach. “My career is on the line here, for god’s sakes. Nothing ever goes right when you’re around.”
“Can you shut up!” Taemin roars, and a wave of pain hits the back of his head. Jinri storms back into the room and tosses her keys into his face.
“Get yourself out of the apartment,” she hisses. “If I see you when I get back, I’m calling the police.”
Taemin looks at her in disbelief. “You act like I want to stay here.”
And the front door slams. Taemin sees the ceiling shake. Or that could just be his vision, he’s not sure. He takes a deep breath and shuffles out of bed, rubbing his temple with a prayer for strength in the back of his head. The clock mocks him from across the room.
Changmin is going to kill him.
He washes his face in Jinri’s bathroom before making his way outside, her keys jingling his hand. He pauses in the living room, his eyebrows knotting when he notices the stacks of boxes across the space. The couch is still wrapped in plastic. There are no photos on the walls, no awards displayed. Taemin blinks slowly before turning to look into the kitchen.
There is only one cup on the counter. Taemin spots a cardboard box at the corner of the kitchen, half opened.
So Jinri hasn’t yet unpacked. Yes, Taemin thinks, spotting a coffeemaker at the end of the counter. He had bought that for her as a housewarming gift, almost three months ago. It feels as though nobody had lived here. Taemin feels inclined to believe it. Her schedule has always been punishing.
You work too hard. His own words to her the night before echo in his ears. Taemin leans against the kitchen counter, rubbing his eyes as he tries to make sense of it all. Of Jinri. He can still smell her perfume on him, a soft flowery scent mixed with his own musky cologne.
Feel the mark of her mouth on his skin like the burden of a secret.
Taemin and Sulli – engagement plans for the new year? (Source: Nate)
Can we meet up today – Jinri
Don’t bloody make me call you. This is important. – Jinri
Pick up your phone - Jinri
Kibum dressed Taemin for his date with Inyoung tonight. Taemin thinks he looks almost dashing; if he had his way, he’d look like a slob all the time. Kibum ties a handsome Jeremy Scott scarf over his front. “You want to look like you put in some effort,” he emphasizes. “Also, congratulations on your pending marriage. Will you two finally get off the news after tying the knot?”
“Nobody’s getting married, aish.” The papers have been ridiculous of late. Taemin chalks it up to Jinri’s publicists attempting to cover up for her attitude issues. Jinri’s not necessarily rude to staff; she simply finds no point in being nice to the people who constantly bitch about her behind her back. Vicious cycle, obviously.
He doesn’t reply Jinri’s texts because tonight is supposed to be about Inyoung. She’s a cool girl, something of a scene kid with a cute fashion blog. Taemin likes her lopsided grins and kooky hairstyles. It’s late, but Hongdae is still crowded. Taemin’s famous, but not that famous anymore. It strikes him how fickle the general population can be. Just two years ago he couldn’t even leave his hotel room without being stalked.
Jinri’s right, of course. Without her beside him, nobody cares.
Inyoung buys him a bowler’s hat and sticks it over his hair, now a shade of washed out blond. “I shall fix your hair for you one of these days,” she says affectionately, and the way her eyes become crescents remind him of Jinri, only Inyoung is sincere and kinder, somehow. “What colour are you thinking of? Maybe burgundy?”
He laughs. “Will that be too drastic?”
“As opposed to blond? You’ll pull it off,” she says confidently, in a way that should make him – any guy – want to love her. “You can pull off anything.”
“Look,” he says instead, gesturing at a vendor with in the distant fog. “Roasted chestnuts.”
Inyoung doesn’t like chestnuts, gets herself a cup of sweet corn instead. They move through the throngs of people in the flea market. Taemin likes the noise, the movement. Inyoung links her arm with his, and as they leave the crowd and slip by a darkened pavement, she’s smiling at him with the lights in her eyes. She looks at him as though she wants him.
Taemin’s not used to it. His breath hitches.
“Can I – “ her voice is soft and melodic, and Taemin loves it. Loves her attention. Doesn’t love her, but he could try. He doesn’t close his eyes when she kisses him, chaste and gentle. He spots the mascara on her eyelashes, the sweetness of her freckles, the adorable way her hair seems to curl at her cheeks. She’s perfect, he thinks despondently. Too lovely for words.
He sees her home, and she kisses him again, a giggle in her throat when he tugs her close. There is nothing wrong with this, he thinks, nothing.
It starts to snow as he drives home, wipers squeaking as flakes melt into the windscreen. Then on the pavement by his block of apartments, he sees her, in a handsome red coat and socks in maryjanes. He pulls over, and Jinri watches him through the glass, paper packet of roasted chestnuts in hand. He rolls down the window.
“I called,” she says, from where she is seated on the bench.
“I was busy.”
Jinri smells of chestnuts when she slips into the passenger seat. They sit there in silence as the snow drifts downwards. Jinri glances at him, lips pursed.
“Had a good evening?”
Taemin shrugs. Jinri makes a little noise in the back of her throat. “I smell her on you. You can’t even tell me you were out on a date? Were you careful?”
“I don’t owe you any explanation,” he says curtly, and he can’t explain the guilt in the pit of his stomach. There is nothing wrong. Nothing.
“I don’t care what you’re doing with her,” Jinri retorts, and this is what he’s used to – that indignant spark in her eyes, the tension in her jaw line that makes her look so angry and breathtaking at the same time. “I just wanted to – “
“I’m sure it’s important.”
“Stop it. Just.” Jinri’s hands are balled into tight fists. “Why are you making things so difficult? Is there no conversation where we’re perfectly civil to each other? I’m so sick of this, oppa, I – “
“You don’t have to put up with me if you don’t want to,” Taemin says, staring at the road ahead. It’s quiet in this neighbourhood at this time of the night. “Inyoung likes me.”
The words feel like a stopper, of what Taemin doesn’t know. But everything stops. Time, conversation, Jinri. She looks like a little match girl watching the smoke of dying dreams, her eyes glassy and breaths still. Taemin doesn’t know what the dream is, either. The illusion of everything. Reality hits him just as hard, the idea that maybe he needs to move on, too. That Jinri’s really not a permanent fixture in his life, that maybe what they have is so dysfunctional that he keeps looking for mistakes in perfection. In everything wonderful and perfect that Inyoung is, that Jinri isn’t.
His fingers are tight over the steering wheel again.
“But do you like her?” she whispers. It almost unnerves him that she’s even smiling. Trembling. Tired, Taemin knows. Her schedules wear her down like bricks on a drowning person. Jinri shrugs, an odd movement of her shoulders. Then she reaches over, fingers curled over the Jeremy Scott scarf. Undoes it under her fingertips. It slips from his neck, trails down into his lap without life. Taemin doesn’t look away from her as she shifts his collar to a side and looks at the bruise above his collarbone, purpled and yellowing at the edges. She’s still smiling.
“I wonder what she’ll think about this,” she says, sounding almost faraway.
“You’ll just come back for more.”
“You don’t know that.”
Taemin doesn’t shift his gaze. Jinri’s smile is empty, her eyes taking on the same hollow as the night before, when she was drunk and miserable. It’s becoming the norm for her, this strange expression. God, he loves it, loves her, all of the stupid things that drive him crazy. How is this normal, he asks himself. How is this…?
“Yes, you would.” Her response is firm. Confident in a way that makes everyone loathe her. “You know why?”
He watches the corner of her lips quirk upwards.
“Because you like me, oppa.”
They’re so close that he’s almost kissing her. The air between them is charged, makes his skin feel flushed all over. Their heads are tilted, angled – conditioned, Taemin thinks with a flutter of his eyes. They’ve been conditioned like this. Jinri’s hand caresses his face, fingers trailing down a cheek and onto his lips. Lipgloss sticks to the back of her thumb.
Something flickers in her eyes. He’s leaning forward to close the distance when she pulls back.
Jinri slides her hand up his thigh, and his chest tightens as her touch lingers by his crotch. Closer. He swallows when she exhales against his jaw, warm against his skin, and then there’s the sound of keys jingling as they are pulled out from his coat pocket with nimble fingers. She draws away easily, her angelic face impassive under wisps of her brown hair as she shakes her wrist out of his hold.
She steps wordlessly out of the car and closes the door behind her. Taemin watches her go, so turned on that he can’t find it in himself to breathe.
Yunho’s me2day: Dong Bang Shin Ki on set for music video! (Source: me2day)
He tells Inyoung he can’t see her anymore.
It feels like an out-of-body experience. He sees himself step into his room, searching for her name on his contact list. She sounds stunned, devastated. Taemin would empathize if he were in a better situation. He isn’t. He’s in the worst possible rut ever because he’s not even sure if he wants out.
Kibum will call him tomorrow, furious and spitting and he’ll know it’s because of Jinri, who the fuck else is it ever about anymore? Here’s the clincher – Taemin doesn’t care. Not even when Inyoung is half in tears on the phone, asking him what did I do wrong and was it about the kiss and I can do better, oppa. I promise. Taemin tells her, as gently as he can – it’s not you, it’s me. Inyoung isn’t stupid, connects the dots a minute in. She knows about the façade he has to keep with Choi Sulli – is this about Sulli-ssi? Are they pressuring you to get rid of me? You said it isn’t real, you said it’s just for press –
Did you fall in love with her?
No, he says, but he’d do anything for her and that is the problem. The conversation ends when she hangs up. Taemin doesn’t feel anything as he stares at the ceiling and recalls Inyoung, her innocent kisses and bright smiles. He undoes his pants and pulls at himself, and his head fills with Jinri and her red coat and everything that is under it, inside of it. He wants her, wants to get into her head as much as he wants to get into her. Hold her down, hold her close, love her into oblivion because that’s what she does to his head and his libido and his heart –
“Fuck,” he whispers. “Fuck.”