minho/key, 4,405 words
beta'd by abstraque who I got into Jongkey and then went all, WHY IS THIS MINKEY YOU GOT ME INTO JONGKEY AND YOU'RE MAKING ME BETA MINKEY. :'D
notes this is an old fic. and by old, i mean i wrote this over a year ago (the second movie referenced here was just released in theatres) and it was the first thing i actually completed after 7 years of not writing for fun. i wrote and got this beta'd even before dark angels. i guess i never posted it because i feel like it lacks something--emotion? i'm posting it now because i read it through and it's not as bad as i remembered it. it could be a lot better though. oh and i miss minho.
Kibum thinks all first loves should be a little awkward. A little uncertain, a little wrong, like all the parts don't really fit together, but they'd be hopelessly and foolishly in love anyway.
When Kibum meets Minho for the first time at a friend's party, they don't get along at all. Minho likes sports--loves soccer in particular, and getting sweaty and books. Kibum likes pretty things, like fashion and art and himself. Minho thinks Kibum is pretentious, vain and loud, and Kibum thinks Minho is boring and quiet and boring, but ridiculously good looking. And that was enough to stick with him throughout the night. Some people call him shallow, but hey, he likes pretty things.
Kibum thinks Minho is insane for staying out of the spotlight (in this party and everywhere else really, because who refuses a model contract?) because with those looks you can get anything.
“No thank you,” Minho says, “I'm fine where I am,” and there is silence; Kibum thinks he's weird. Nobody's fine where they are.
Three shots of vodka and six of tequila later, Kibum tells Minho, “Maybe aliens took over your brain when you were a baby.”
Minho barely spares him a glance; he's barely looked at Kibum since they got into a disagreement about sports and fashion two hours earlier. Still, Minho doesn't leave the spot they've taken at the bar.
This is like talking to a brick wall, Kibum thinks and the silence becomes suffocating as it stretches. Kibum's briefly considered leaving, and looking for another guy, but Minho is the most good-looking one in the room and he is Kim Kibum. He deserves nothing, but the best.
“Hey, I'm talking to you, you lamppost. You're freakishly tall, you know that? Why would anybody find you cute? You're boring.”
“And you talk too much,” Minho replies, taking another shot and ignoring the seductive looks a girl with false eyelashes is giving him from across the bar.
“No, I don't. God, what is that girl wearing? Plaids are so last season. I had a cat once, you know. She got lost. Or that's what my mom said anyway. I think she stuffed Nini in a plastic bag and brought her far away so she couldn't come back. Anyway, my cat Nini, looks like that girl's face. Oh god, she just went into one of the toilets with that boy from the accounting school. Nini-face is getting lucky tonight, hoo! I'm gay, you know? And I'm really pretty, And hot. Why is it so hard to find a fucking boyfriend in college. I'm fucking perfect and—"
Kibum really doesn't get to finish his sentence because Minho kisses him, and he shuts up. And then Minho is holding his face and his eyes are hooded and Kibum thinks of chocolate and stars and tastes vodka and tequila and--
I think I'm going to throw up.
Eighteen and a half.
Kibum thinks first loves should be a little shallow. A little more focused on physical attraction than the actual emotional and mental connection. Minho has legs that go on forever, wide eyes, and a shy smile. He's the best looking person Kibum has ever seen in his life. And to top it off, for all his looks, Minho has a quiet charm and generally stays out of the spotlight.
Kibum thinks Minho’s insane because the limelight is amazing. It's the greatest feeling in the world, people looking at him, wishing he was him, worshiping him. He is studying to be a designer after all. He convinces (coerces, more like - this includes all manners of talking, pleading, and being a general bitch 'til he got his way) Minho to model one of his designs for his finals in Aesthetics of Fashion Design.
As Minho works the catwalk amidst bright lights and hairspray, Kibum thinks he's never seen something as perfect, as natural, and as in his element as The Boy Who Refused To Model But Is A Natural At It Anyway.
After the show, Kibum grins at him and thanks him, but it becomes more like, “you know you should thank me instead, since you've got an offer from that model company the school invited, and another offer from that fashion company to model their clothes—“
“I'm not interested,” is what Minho gives him by way of reply and Kibum rolls his eyes and blows his bangs out of his face.
“Well, one good turn deserves another, or at least that's what my mom always said. What can I do for you?” He places a hand on his hip, and looks up at Minho expectantly.
Minho studies him, under the fluorescent lights and the bustle of bodies backstage. Kibum isn't used to being scrutinized and stared at for that long, like someone's peeking at his soul or something. He plays with the bracelets on his arm, relishing the clanking sound they make when they hit each other.
“Go out with me,” Minho finally says.
“Sure, we go out all the time with Jinki and—“
“On a date,” Minho interrupts, loosening the glittery, gold tie he’d been forced to wear for the catwalk.
“Oh.” And then Kibum grins, like the Cheshire cat. “Well, we look awesome together, don't we. “
And Minho just rolls his eyes, hiding a small smile that’s tugging at the corner of his lips (It’s speaking of secrets and promises).
They've just turned nineteen
As far as first dates go, Kibum remembers theirs as pretty memorable.
Minho takes Kibum to a bazaar just outside of town. There are foreign trinkets, antique furniture, new and secondhand books, and one-of-a-kind outfits. Kibum spends his money on trinkets to incorporate for his projects, sees some cute plushies, but finds them way out of his price range, which is a shame since they are eco-friendly too. He complains about those expensive plushies after they've left the stall, gets distracted by some jewelry, complains about the jewelry and his professor in Visual Design, and the heat all while Minho browses the books on sale. Minho ends up buying two books, one of which has yellowed pages threatening to fall out of the intricate leather binding.
Kibum wrinkles his nose in distaste, “That thing is old and ugly,”
“It's one of the first copies of the Canterbury Tales,” Minho explains.
Kibum just looks at him, “Yeah so?.”
Minho rolls his eyes, “Never mind.”
They leave in silence.
(Kibum thinks all first loves should be a little awkward. A little uncertain, a little wrong, like all the parts don't really fit together. He’s getting it.)
They head to a Starbucks after and have coffee, and Kibum insists on sharing a slice of cake, because “I don't want to get fat, do you know how much calories this has??”
They head to the Han River to watch the sunset.
“Pretty,” Kibum states as the sun begins to hide beneath the river, the sky pink and blue and orange.
Minho laughs next to him, and Kibum shoots him a look. “What?”
“Nothing.” Minho's smile is beautiful and shy, like secrets he can't keep. “It's just, you're finally quiet.”
Kibum makes a little noise of indignation from the back of his throat while Minho's eyes crinkle at the corners.
“Excuse me, I'll have you know—“
“You're missing the sunset,” says Minho's quiet voice, hand enveloping Kibum's.
Kibum shuts up.
(…but they'd be hopelessly and foolishly in love anyway. )
Minho walks him to his dorm and hands him a paper bag.
“I'm not going to throw up this time, you know.” Kibum says cheekily, raising an eyebrow, but Minho just laughs and hands him the paper bag. Minho grins at him, bids him goodnight and leaves. Kibum closes the door, rests his back against it while he opens the bag.
It is one of the plushies Kibum had complained about. It holds a post-it note in one of its pink, eco-friendly hands, take good care of me, will you?
They are twenty, and Minho has just moved into an apartment.
(This first love lasts longer than Kibum expected.)
It's a Saturday night, and they are sitting next to each other on the couch, watching a movie in Minho's apartment. Kibum has both legs over Minho's lap, and Minho's arm is around his shoulders. They are watching Jerry Maguire, something cheesy enough to satisfy Kibum and something with sports for Minho, but they both know it’s a chick flick in disguise. Even SangSang the Plushie knows it, from its place on the coffee table. A bowl of butter popcorn sits next to Minho on the couch, still half-full.
Kibum curls cold toes under Minho's leg, and on the screen Renee Zellweger says,
“You had me at hello.”
Minho kisses him and he tastes like popcorn and butter, and Kibum hits his chest lightly. “You're distracting me from the movie. “ he mutters.
There is a small smile playing on Minho’s lips, “I know,” and he continues kissing Kibum anyway, thumb brushing across his hip, the other tightening around his shoulders.
The movie plays and the bowl of popcorn is kicked to the floor, both forgotten.
They are twenty-one.
Kibum is in a bad mood. He wasn't able to get those boots he's been eyeing for two months now, and when it was finally on sale they didn't have his size. Those boots would redefine his life once he has gotten them. But now, the course of his life would never run the path it was destined to take with those gorgeous boots.
He glomps through Minho's apartment, tugging his scarf off violently; SangSang the Plushie regards Kibum with his button eyes from the coffee table and Kibum engages in a glaring contest with it until Minho peeks from the kitchen.
“Bad day?” he asks.
“No, just peachy,” Kibum replies sarcastically. He launches on a rant about those boots and goes on for a good hour while waiting for the take-out to arrive, and more when they're finally eating their chicken, and ends with wishing bad luck upon the person who bought the last pair in his size. Minho listens to it all, nods at the appropriate times, pulls out a Häagen-Dazs from the freezer, and concedes to model Kibum's designs for his portfolio to cheer Kibum up.
The next day, roses are delivered to Kibum's dormitory, and a card with a quote from the Little Prince. (Kibum knows this because it's one of the books Minho had managed to force him to read early on, when he could still be convinced to do things in the name of love-slash-getting-the-hot-boy-to-like-h
"And it is he I have listened to complaining or boasting or sometimes remaining silent. Because he is my rose."
“Roses,” he tells Minho later. “I'm not a freaking girl you know.”
And Minho replies, “I know. But you like them anyway.”
And Kibum thinks that Minho is patient and quiet and everything Kibum isn't. He doesn't say anything when Kibum begins one of his bitch fits, doesn't complain when Kibum drags him shopping from opening time 'til closing. He gives Kibum flowers, chocolate, poems from great authors when Kibum's had a bad day.
He makes Kibum feel--feel maybe a little too much of what he thinks first loves should feel (shallow and awkward and really, really in like and maybe a little too much in love) and Kibum is starting to become a little scared, a little trapped, because first loves don't usually end up being the last, right?
They are twenty two, and it's been four years.
It's a Saturday night, and they are watching a movie in Minho's apartment. Kibum is leaning against the end of the couch, legs drawn up. Minho is on the other end, arm supporting his chin. They are watching an indie film about a boy and a girl in a relationship; boy's in love with the girl, but the girl isn't in love with him. The girl marries someone else in the end.
The bowl of popcorn sits between them, half-empty.
Kibum talks a lot. Four years with Minho, and he realizes that Minho never says anything to him, has never talked to him about things that matter. Their conversations have always been one-sided; someone talks and the other one listens.
All the time.
SangSang the plushie looks at him blankly from the coffee table.
Kibum's an intern in a fashion company, and Minho's finally agreed to work for one of the modeling agencies (upon Kibum's incessant urging for the past four years) in order to pay for his apartment since his parents had withdrawn financial support a few months after he graduated.
Kibum wonders if Minho's happy.
They are still twenty-two.
They have a fight over something stupid and inconsequential, and it ends up with Kibum shouting and raging while Minho just stands there and doesn't say anything, listening, like always. Just standing there and listening and saying nothing.
(Kibum knows he's good-looking, and he can display his equally, if not better-looking, boyfriend on his arm with no problem. That's how this all started, anyway. Except his supposedly trophy boyfriend is actually wonderfully sweet and romantic. Except he never talks to him. And it makes Kibum wonder why Minho gives him everything and stays with someone like him, when Minho couldn’t even talk to him.
First loves shouldn't be able to bring you to the moon and back. First loves shouldn't just stand there while you scream and throw things at them and miss, but don't attempt to duck anyway. Even if it wasn't their fault.
First loves shouldn't be this hard.)
Being in love and being in a relationship are different things, he's read once.
They are twenty three when they break up. Irreconcilable differences, the divorce lawyer would say--if they were actually married, that is. There is no third party involved.
(Except maybe Kibum's views on love and what it should be. )
Minho is perfect, good looking, patient and quiet, and remembers the things Kibum likes, and moves out of his way to give Kibum what he wants. Minho is perfect, good looking and knows when to draw the line in dealing with Kibum's childishness and vanity.
Minho loves soccer and sports too much and has posters of Manchester United in his bedroom apartment that he wouldn't get rid off, even if Kibum thinks he's too old for posters on his walls.
It's been four years, and Kibum knows nothing about Minho except what he likes to eat, the sports he watches on TV, his face when he's angry or annoyed or horny, and his love for books. Minho gives Kibum everything- everything he wants and doesn't need, everything he needs and doesn't want. (Should all first loves be this considerate?) but Kibum can’t give Minho anything in return. Not even an ear to listen.
Kibum moves to Japan. After all, Kibum’s beliefs in love include leaving before he’s left. Minho says nothing, just looks at him before he left (his apartment, to the airport, his life). Kibum doesn’t look back to see the hurt flashing in Minho’s eyes.
On the plane, Kibum thinks they have nothing in common, not really. Kibum wonders how they made it through four years as he watches the lights of Seoul become specks in the distance.
He realizes he’s left SangSang sitting on the coffee table in Minho’s apartment.
One year later
Kibum is twenty-four and living in the city. He works for a Tokyo-based fashion designer's agency, and all things considered, he's doing fine. He's dating someone, but they’re not exclusive yet. But they understand each other and have much more in common than he and Minho could ever have hoped for.
It's another stressful workday, and this time the agency he's working for are bringing in models from Korea to fit clothes and be on a fashion spread in Seventeen. The models and their manager arrive on time, and Kibum was assigned to help negotiations, but that really meant ‘talk-to-them-in-Korean-if-something-goe
His boss gives Kibum a pointed look. Kibum forces a smile, introduces his boss and himself in Japanese and Korean, and he sees relief on some of the models' faces as they hear him speak a familiar language. Their manager introduces the models one by one, and Kibum's fears are confirmed when their manager says,
“And this is Choi Minho.”
There’s a break in the meeting. Kibum heads to the water dispenser, and meets Minho along the way. His hair is longer now, and Kibum thinks he’s gotten even taller.
“So you're really in modeling now, huh?” He attempts small talk.
“Yeah, because of you.” Minho says in that quiet voice of his, eyes unreadable. He doesn't say anything else, and Kibum can think of nothing to say either. His hand tugs the hair at the back of his neck.
The silence is as long as the distance between Korea and Japan.
Kibum wants to ask him, Do you regret it? Are you happy? but he doesn't dare. He talks about the shoot instead, and the designs, and after five minutes of talking and still getting nothing from the taller boy, he excuses himself and talks to the other models. His heart feels like it’s weighed down by an anchor, and wants to take up residence in his stomach instead.
It’s going to be a long day.
Kibum believes the Rest of Your Life should be spent with a friend, not a lover, or a lover that can be a friend after the love is gone. Love doesn't last forever, he knows that.
Kibum tells his roommate Jonghyun, about his theories with his head on Jonghyun's lap, Romeo and Juliet playing on their DVD.
Jonghyun puts the movie on pause, then looks at him with his mouth agape and eyebrows furrowed.
“Shut your mouth Jonghyun, you look like a bug,” Kibum observes, but Jonghyun just ignores him and says, quite incredulously,
“You don't honestly believe that do you? “
Kibum sits up and glares at him, “Yes, I do, it makes sense.”
Jonghyun makes a motion with his hand that Kibum doesn't quite understand and he doubts Jonghyun does either, “But it's love, Kibum. You're supposed to take risks. You're not supposed to plan it out and rationalize it based on what you think love should be.”
“Well, this is the rational way of loving, then.”
Jonghyun snorted. “You're just afraid of getting hurt.”
Kibum's eyes flash, “I've been hurt. How do you think it feels, being someone's boyfriend for four fucking years, then finding out that your boyfriend never really trusted you enough to talk to you? All the flowers and sweet messages in the world can't make up for realizing that he doesn't trust you enough to share himself with you.”
Kibum blinks, surprised to be fighting away angry tears.
Jonghyun studies him as he rubs his eyes of the salty evidence, and asks him,
“Did you ever tell him that?”
Grudgingly, quietly, Kibum admits, “No.”
“Kibum,” Jonghyun says, sighing. “You ran away. Maybe you were feeling so much for him that it scared you. You used anything you could as an excuse--your stupid first love theories, his silence--to get away. You didn't even try to fix it.”
“Jjong,” Kibum says, “I’d like to think one of the reasons I left was because I think I could've have spent the rest of my life with him. But I don't want the day to come that I'd regret or he'd regret because we didn't try going out with other people.”
“Did you, really? Because I think that that's you, rationalizing again. And that’s you, being scared.”
When did his roommate get so wise and annoying?
“Maybe.” Kibum stands up and heads toward his room, stops at the doorway, hand clutching the frame. “But Jjong, he didn't try to fix it either.”
He hears Jonghyun just before the door closes, “Maybe he didn't know where to start.”
The models are staying in Japan for four days. On the third night, someone brings up the idea of going to a bar. The models and the staff working at Kibum's agency are all roped into going.
Kibum is at the bar again, debating whether he should talk to Minho when he hears an achingly familiar voice.
“Don't drink too much.”
He turns and finds Minho looking down at him. Minho’s in a black silk polo, with the first three buttons undone and a pair of jeans that fit his frame perfectly. Kibum swallows.
Three shots of vodka later, Kibum says, “Fuck, this is more awkward as when we first met.”
Minho gives a small amused smile from the seat next to him, “I'm sorry.”
Kibum's heart stops. “What are you sorry for?”
“For whatever it was that made you leave.” He says quietly, downing a shot.
“Oh.” Kibum says smartly. “I'm sorry too.”
“Why did we break-up anyway?” Minho looks at him, and Kibum could see a year of hurt and confusion between the brown. Kibum picks a shot glass and swallows. He tastes guilt.
“You never talked to me. You were always this quiet Prince who made everything better for me, but you never let me be that for you.” Kibum begins, his voice low.
“Oh,” Minho says, and Kibum drinks once, twice, before he continues.
“And I was scared. I was scared that I was starting to love you too much when, when I don't believe that first loves can last.” He gives a little embarrassed laugh and looks at his hands on his lap. “It's why I chose you in the first place. Because we looked good together, I thought we'd be fine—we’d be the best-looking couple everyone envies.”
Kibum takes a deep breath and briefly flirts with the idea of drinking more, for the sake of courage. He hears Jonghyun saying ‘coward’ in his head, and decides to take a deep breath instead.
“And then somewhere along the way, I did fall in love with you. And you were perfect. But you never talked to me.” He tugs on his fingers. He could really use that drink right now. “And at the end of it, maybe I got insecure. I could never tell why you loved me, and you didn't trust me enough to talk to me. I got scared that you might leave. And I knew I was feeling too much, too much for a doomed first love."
“Not all first loves are meant to be doomed.” Minho says in that quiet way of his, looking at him and Kibum thinks of chocolate and vodka and stars and forev--
“I guess not.” Kibum replies quietly, opts to look at the shot glass instead of Minho's eyes. “I'm sorry.”
“I am, too.” Minho says, and they drink in silence.
(Closure, Kibum thinks. Closure is good.)
The models and their manager are due home the next day. Kibum finds SangSang the plushie on his cubicle, a post-it note stuck on its hand. I'd like to give it another try, if you'd let me.
Kibum’s heart jumps to his throat.
There is a name of a restaurant and a time on the other side of the sticky note. Kibum stares at the paper. The yellow piece of paper feels as heavy as a rock in his hand. He reaches for his mobile and calls Jonghyun.
"Don't be stupid," is what Jonghyun tells him after Kibum recounts the note and the plushie. "Do you want me to drag you there?"
Kibum laughs, happiness bubbling in his chest. What was that old saying? Love is sweeter the second time around? Honestly, he didn't know if he should put stock into such things anymore--look at where it got him.
"Just try and feel this time, Kibum-ah. Don't think too much. Talk things over. See where it goes from there."
"But Jonghyun," Kibum starts. Jonghyun waits on the other line, patiently. Kibum can hear the quiet mumble of people walking past on Jonghyun's end. "What am I going to wear?"
Jonghyun laughs and hangs up on him.
Kibum sees Minho from outside the restaurant. Minho is sitting in front of a white table, western style utensils in front of him. His hair is unstyled, and he looks beautiful. He is wearing a crisp white button down with the sleeves rolled up. He looks at his watch, thumb rubbing the silver idly.
Kibum is wearing a white graphic tee with a black blazer thrown over it. His pants are molded to his thighs. He stole Jonghyun's watch tonight, for luck. He gets shown to the table by a petite waitress. Minho looks up and sees him.
The smile on Minho's face is beautiful, like fairy lights on an old town. Kibum's heart bangs against his ribcage. God, that can't be healthy.
He takes a seat and they start talking. Minho initiates the conversation this time. Kibum smiles as Minho tells him about his work and the state of his apartment. Kibum tells Minho about his sleazy roommate who depended on him for meals and his life in Japan over steak and mashed potatoes.
When Minho tells him. "I'd like to give us another try." His eyes are serious. "I promise to talk to you when something's bothering me, to work on the things that weren't working before. If you'd let me."
Kibum sits still and looks at him for a full minute. Minho's face is nervous and earnest. Kibum's heart is beating hard and fast against his ribcage. Kibum isn't delusional, he never was. Both of them know that they have a lot--a whole year's worth--of things to talk about, of problems to fix. They weren't all going to disappear tonight, no matter how magical tonight is. Both of them could end up worse for wear and filled with regrets for doing this again.
Kibum is starting to learn that true love takes work. That it is more than just attraction and flights of fancy, or feelings and preconceived notions of what love is supposed to be. That he needs to trust completely, listen to his heart, and not let his fears get in the way. That clear communication and companionship are essential, and it doesn't work at all if they don't look at the future hand-in-hand.
Kibum says yes.