Disclaimer: I don't own anything apart from the story.
Summary: The word means more to Changmin than he lets on...
AN: This was meant to be a drabble… then it became long… and then it got truncated because of someone .____.
It starts with a word.
Changmin rarely uses it. Even when he was a cute innocent maknae with four older brothers, he rarely used it. And now, with only Yunho left? He uses it even less.
But then something changes. Yunho doesn’t notice it at first, too caught up in his pain and his loss that he forgets he still has the baby of the group with him. But Changmin remembers. He knows. He watches from afar, feeling angry and hurt himself, wanting to be comforted. Needing to be comforted. There’s no Junsu to tease. No Yoochun to eat and joke around with at everyone’s expense. No Jaejoong to feed him, although he will never admit that he secretly likes being fed by the man.
They one have each other now. The leader and the maknae.
The first time he says it, the word is foreign on his lips. So foreign he visibly cringes when it slips off his tongue, stumbling over it, coughing to hide his embarrassment.
But Yunho doesn’t notice. He’s too busy staring at a half empty bottle of soju, sitting in their empty dorm, while Changmin tries to coax him to eat something.
The next few times he says it, the word rolls off his tongue a little easier and it gives him a strange comfort when he says it. It is still awkward, and unnatural, but he doesn’t cringe anymore.
And still Yunho doesn’t notice.
Time passes and Changmin’s hurt turns into anger, but he never stops saying it. He doesn’t call Yunho by name anymore. Since it’s just the two of them, grunts suffice. That word that gives him comfort also makes him angry. He stays out of the dorm as much as he can, preferring the company of the other seniors rather than his own group member. The only one left. He sees Yunho during practice and all other times where they have to be together, which in actuality is too numerous to count, but in his spare time, he disappears.
One day he comes home to find the dorm a mess, and Yunho looking frazzled in the middle of it, supposedly trying to find their schedule and the list of interview questions they will be asked on the three different shows they will be filming tomorrow. The schedule and list that Changmin had pinned neatly on the noticeboard in the hallway outside their bedrooms. Yunho is cute in his rumpled state, hair sticking out in every direction, mouth pouty and defiant when Changmin rips the documents he had been looking for from the board and throws it at his head.
In his anger over the mess, he shouts the word. The word that gives him comfort. The shocked expression on Yunho’s face, mouth parted, lips wet and red from him chewing on them as he searched, gives him a sense of satisfaction, even more than the feeling he gets after storming out of their shared space and slamming the door behind him.
Yunho doesn’t come after him. Not that he expects him to. He sits in the Super Junior dorm, mindlessly playing some random game with Kyuhyun that he is barely paying attention to. He doesn’t understand what has changed, if anything even has. He tried calling Hyukjae and Donghae, hyung, and they both stared at him weirdly. That sense of comfort isn’t there. And yet, even when he is furious with Yunho, and he shouts the word in a fit of anger, his heart says that it is right. He doesn’t understand. Or maybe, he doesn’t want to understand.
Then one day, the maknae falls sick.
They have been worked so hard, and it is winter and the cold finally catches up to the young man. He is curled up in his bed, body wracked with shivers as he shakes through the ironic chill of a very high fever. It happens to coincide with a rare midweek break, and so no one seems him in his pathetic state. No one knows he is in the dorm, because he told everyone he’d gone home. He pulls the covers up even more, but finds that he is unable to get warm. The cold is deep in his body, touching his soul, and for the first time in a long time, he cries.
He doesn’t make a sound, hot tears seeping out the corner of his eyes as he stares at the ceiling. The tears don’t warm him up though. In fact, he feels even colder and more alone, and it manifests itself physically, as his fever steadily climbs. His teeth start to chatter and he is unable to stop it. He is unable to get warm no matter how many layers of blankets he has on him, no matter how high the heating is turned up. He is cold and empty.
It is the chattering of his teeth that give away his presence to Yunho who has stopped in at the dorm, on his way home to his family, to pick up a gift he has forgotten to take with him.
Changmin doesn’t notice the new presence in his room, his back turned away from the door as he curls up tighter, trying to disappear within himself. His chattering teeth is loud in the silence and he is almost tempted to stick his tongue out a little, to see if he’ll somehow manage to bite the tip off with how violent his jaw is working. He can barely move, body and limbs so tired and tense. He lets out a soft sound of surprise when the covers are pulled away from him, whining in protest through his pain-filled haze, when he is suddenly enveloped in warmth. A long body stretches out behind him, almost as long as his, and it curls around him. The comfort is immediate, as a large hand strokes his jaw soothingly, till his teeth stop chattering. He knows who it is and he wants to get away, but instead of moving out of the warm embrace, his body has other ideas, and he burrows backwards, seeking more of the warmth. The arms around him tighten, and as he gives in to sleep, finally warm, he hears a whisper caressing his ear.
Changmin wakes with a start, his first thought is of Yunho, and the first word that falls from his lips is that word.
But his room is empty. The word echoing in the silence as he sits up, looking around confusedly, wondering if he’s dreamt the entire thing. Just as he is about to drag himself out of bed to find something to eat so he can take his medication, the door opens, and Yunho walks in balancing a tray carefully. His brow is furrowed as he stares intently at whatever it is he is carrying, and Changmin holds his breath. Yunho may be a dance machine onstage but off stage, he is not known to be the most graceful or most attentive person out there. The image of the leader running straight into a low beam on Family Outing comes to mind, and he lets out a soft sound, disguised as laughter.
A sound of dismay follows immediately after, and he looks up to see Yunho looking at him in consternation as he looks back down at the bowl he is carrying on the tray, and then back at Changmin. He does it several times, the crease in his forehead becoming more pronounced at each pass.
The transformation on Yunho’s face is immediate, as the word falls softly between them. The crease fades away, and he smiles, one of his cheerful beaming smiles that makes everyone forget he is the leader of the group leading the hallyu wave. He watches as Yunho slowly lowers himself onto the bed, offering the tray to him. Changmin finally understands Yunho’s dismay. He has made ramyun, and had filled the bowl to the brim and some had sloshed over in his surprise at Changmin’s sudden sound. He eyes the bowl warily, wondering at the oddly cloudy soup.
“This was the only thing I could make. I’m sorry, Changdol-ah.”
Changmin smiles, as he looks at the bowl, oddly touched that Yunho has even attempted this. The man has never really had to cook in their dorm ever. When Jaejoong was around, no one was allowed in the kitchen except Changmin. And now with the lead singer gone, Changmin has taken over the cooking duties. Yunho is more than happy to eat, but he is absolutely useless in the kitchen otherwise.
“Thank you.” He manages to croak out, a frog suddenly lodged in his throat and he doesn’t know where it has come from. He swallows hard, trying to move past the lump the frog seems to be sitting on, but it doesn’t seem to want to go away. He is feeling really strange, and he attributes it to his illness. He straightens out, humming his gratitude when Yunho plumps up a pillow and slides it in behind him, and balances the tray on the covers. He picks up a soup spoon, dipping it in the bowl, and taking a long sip.
The only reason he forces his expression to remain neutral is because Yunho is watching him apprehensively. He can practically feel the tension in the other man as he watches him take that first sip. He dips his spoon into the soup again, and takes another sip, and another, and then another. And then he finally turns to Yunho, smiling faintly and nodding. He can see Yunho’s body uncoil as he relaxes, and he smiles inwardly. It is against his nature to do what he has just done, but it feels good. He feels good. And the noodles and soup are starting to taste good because he feels good.
He finishes the bowl, even upending it and taking in the last dredges at the bottom. Lips red from the warmth of the soup, he licks at them, watching closely as Yunho’s eyes follow the motion before he drags them back up to his eyes. The man had kept up a constant one-sided chatter as Changmin ate, and he now knows, though Yunho didn’t explicitly say it, that the leader has cancelled his trip home and will be hanging out with him in the dorm, ostensibly to practice for the year end shows that are coming up. He watches as Yunho reaches over to the bedside table, picking up the prescribed antibiotics and a half full glass of water, handing them to Changmin. He tosses it all back quickly, still silent.
“You should try and get more sleep. I’ll put this away and come back. Do you want anything else?”
Changmin shakes his head, sliding down in the bed and back under the covers as Yunho takes the tray off him and fusses awkwardly over the pillows. They have a brief tug of war when Yunho wants to take that extra pillow off him, but he clings to it, shaking his head. It’s the pillow that Yunho had been using and it smells of him and Changmin doesn’t want to let it go.
Yunho finally gives in with a short laugh, gathering up the dishes, and making his way out. He smiles when he hears Changmin’s voice, uncharacteristically soft, following behind him.
As Yunho tidies the kitchen, not wanting Changmin to find it in the sorry state he has left it from only making instant ramyun, he finds something that leaves him sitting in the kitchen for a good ten minutes. He finds a ramyun soup base sachet.
Yunho, in his haste and eagerness and his deplorable forgetfulness, had missed putting the soup base into the noodles he had so painstakingly made. And Changmin had eaten the tasteless bowl of noodles with a smile on his face, not letting on for one second the mistake Yunho had made. Something within him stirs as he stares at the soup sachet, and he pockets it, finally leaving the kitchen to return to his own room, to tuck the little packet of flavouring away in a box that he hides on the top shelf of his closet.
AN1: I know there are probably horrid errors and weird turns of phrases or something because the pain in my head and body is ridiculous. So ridiculous that I threatened my husband’s cock :3 with a pair of scissors…so yeah lmao. And please don’t ask me who I ship/stan whatever. The only person I stan is Yunho. Period.
AN2: And omg… writing non-AU HoMin is… IDEK. I apologise to HoMin shippers who are reading this if I got their characters wrong because I’ve never ever had to look at them like this and so I think I engaged in some flights of fancy. Maybe I should just say it’s AU but it just happens to be set in… real life? LOL! IDK but please be kind. I guess you can consider this my first time OTL
AN3: Oh god ok so this was meant to be longer than it was but a certain muse was threatening to boil me alive in my head and I honestly couldn’t continue… I’m a slave to my muse. And for those wondering, this wasn’t what I’d meant to write when Changmin was screaming in my ear yesterday :P That will come later *cough*