jonghyun/key, 2,466 words
fantasy, supernatural, romance
Key visits Jonghyun across several lifetimes.
A.N. So uhm. I was already playing with this idea, and writing a bit before the MV for Ring Ding Dong came out. Imagine my surprise when the concept for the MV included them in Dark Angel wings. No more photoshop work for visualizations for me then! :D
Then I started working on this seriously (not just writing bits at very, very rare random intervals) so I could add to my list of writing (since as you can see, all my Jongkey stuff are drabbles) for the Jongkey Fanfic Remix so the person who'd get me would have more choices and room to maneuver her remix fic. I had about 85% of the whole story (all three parts) done before the contest, but unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish it on time. And I didn't want to post something I haven't finished writing because I might never be able to finish/update it, and I hate it when that happens to something I'm reading.
But now, here it is. In its self-beta'd unglory. (Please do drop me a line if you're interested in beta-ing the rest of the chapters).
Also, I was reading Neil Gaiman's Sandman before and during the time I was writing this. This piece is obviously heavily influenced by it.
..and that concludes this insanely long author's note. I hope you enjoy reading! :)
PART 1 | INTERLUDE | PART 2 *locked, join to see* | PART 3
* signifies time lapses
(This story does not happen in a chronological order)
There is a gold key, glinting in the sunlight, hung on a chain around his neck.
"I've...been here a long time." He says from the sky scraper as they watch the city below them. It is December of the year 2010. He is wearing a dark coat, leg hugging jeans and black boots.
"Yeah? How long?" Jonghyun removes the cigarette from his lips, blowing smoke into the cold air. He looks at cars passing by, wonders if any of them will look up a SM company's building and see his companion, this gorgeous person with hair cut across his eyes and wings as dark as ebony. (His next song will be about angels with dark wings and love you can't quite reach, even as you stand looking at the world from a sky scraper. It will be a hit).
There is something in Key's eyes that Jonghyun can't read when he replies, "Longer than you can imagine."
This time, Jonghyun is your regular office worker. Working nine to five, what a way to make a living, wasn't that how the song went? He meets Key for the first time on his building's rooftop. Or so Jonghyun thinks. Key is wearing the clothes his office prescribed, a long sleeved polo and black pants. A Spongebob tie hung from his neck, all yellow with the characters' stupid smiling face at the bottom center.
It is January 4, 1999, and today, Jonghyun is going to die. He climbs up the rooftop of his office building. Nineteen floors. Nobody was supposed to get up there, but he had managed to steal the key. There is a note, written in his best handwriting and folded primly into the pocket of his polo. He walks forward, looking at the dirty, empty rooftop when he sees a blonde figure, standing at the corner of the building, watching the streets below.
They say depressed people don't show their depression. All of their friends think he’s fine, next thing you know, he’s on the evening news as the man splattered on the pavement.
"Nice tie," Jonghyun grins at the blonde man on the rooftop.
The blonde spared him a glance, "Thanks. He's an amusing stupid little bugger isn't he?"
Jonghyun laughs, "I haven't seen you around here. I've been working here for two years and it's the first time I've seen you. And I know everybody here, I'm in HR. I know people. You're wearing our office's clothes though, how come we haven't met yet? I'm Kim Jonghyun."
"I'm Key." Is all the other offers after Jonghyun’s nervous blabber.
"So is that a nickname or something? What's your real name? Am I older than you? You should call me hyung."
"Just Key." Key's hands are in his pockets, and he doesn't move from his spot.
"You don't talk much do you? You know, I'm engaged. Well, I was engaged. She left me, two days ago. Turns out she was seeing another guy a whole year. She was my girlfriend for five years, you know that? Then she suddenly drops the bomb on me. And you know what else?" Jonghyun climbs up the wall, sits with his back to the city. A car honks down the street. "I'm going to get fired soon. Management needs to downsize, recession and all that shit. How am I going to pay for rent now? You know, all I wanted to be when I was young was a singer. Never passed any of the auditions though, I wasn't good enough. My parents disowned me when I left home to try out for that." He takes a breath. "So what's your story? Are you planning to jump too? Want to go together? How'd you get up here anyway? The key's pretty hard to steal, you know. I had to refine my plan eight times before I managed to get it."
"I flew." was the nondescript answer Jonghyun got.
Jonghyun laughs loudly, "You've got to be shitting me. Are you high, or something? It isn't wise to commit suicide while on drugs, you know."
Key rolls his eyes, a hand reaching up to tug at his earring. "I don't think it's wise to commit suicide at all." Behind him, wings fan out. Wings as black as night, that looked as soft as silk yet as hard as granite.
"Holy shi--" Jonghyun's eyes are the size of saucers; his surprise upsets his precarious balance, and he falls backwards.
This isn't how he wanted to die.
But he doesn't. Key is holding his hand (though how he got him so fast, Jonghyun would never know), wings covering the sun above them. He flies back the short distance to the rooftop. Jonghyun is trembling, from fear of what transpired or for fear of the creature before him, he wasn't sure.
"Don't do it." Key tells him, and there is something in his eyes that strikes Jonghyun's heart. "I can't tell you that everythings going to be better, or even okay, but.. don't do it. You'll die when you have to."
Jonghyun loosens his tie, and tries to breathe normally. That was so fucking close.
Key is looking expectantly at him.
Jonghyun realizes he hasn't given an answer.
"Yeah, okay." He agrees. Key gives him a nod, turns around and his wings stretch and Jonghyun doesn't understand it but he feels like he's losing something important, like he's forgetting everything he's learned since he was a child--"Wait!"
Key turns his head to look at him.
Jonghyun swallows. "Will I see you again?"
And Key smiles at him and Jonghyun is blinded, and he is reminded of all the suns in the galaxy, all that he has never seen, and Key says,
Jonghyun barely has time to ask, "But when?" before he was gone.
Another time, Jonghyun is three and playing in his yard. Nietzsche has just proclaimed that God is dead. Key appears in his yard, wings outstretched. Jonghyun points at him and says, "Birdie!" Key raises an eyebrow, "Excuse me?"
Jonghyn grins and claps. "Big birdie!"
Jonghyun is eight and knows the meaning of imaginary. He is curled up in his bed and crying. "They won't believe me, they won't believe you're real, why won't you show them you're real?" He is locked up in his room; his family is afraid of his 'visions'.
Key looks at him, and his heart feels like it's been tied up and it hurts, but he replies, "Because you're special, Jjong. Only the special ones can see me. If everyone could see me.."
Jonghyun says, "Then everyone would be special! That's a good thing right?"
"If everyone was special... then no one would be." Key replies, and Jonghyun blinks. Jonghyun is eight, even though he really isn't, but today, today he was eight and his mind was that of an eight year olds.
Key walks over to him and holds his face. "Goodbye, Jonghyun."
Jonghyun grows up not believing in angels and heaven and demons and hell. He never sees Key again.
His bedroom is in the attic. Light peeks in from the solitary window, softened by the pale curtains. The sheets are white and the posters of the Beatles are peeling on the walls. He dies young this time, at eighteen.
Minho appears, wings as black as night. "You're not supposed to be here anymore," he tells Key.
"I know," Key replies. He stands at the corner of the room, the light coming in panels from the window. The curtains are still. Minho looks at him, with something in his eyes, something that's been there for thousands of years and Key says, "Don't look at me like that."
"Three minutes," is all Minho says.
"I know." Key replies, testily, bitterly. His hands curl into a fist, fingernails digging into his palms.
Minho approaches Jonghyun's bed, puts his hand over Jonghyun's heart. It's not like the movies; there is no white light at the end of the tunnel or that final shuddering breath. Minho lifts his hand, cradling a circular ball of gray made of smoke and dreams and memories and past lives and nothing. In his hand he holds Jonghyun's soul, Jonghyun's imprint in this life, and maybe his lives before this one. It floats away, changes into a human shape that was transparent, smoky.
"I'm dead?" Jonghyun's soul, Jonghyun's imprint asks.
Minho nods. Key stands in the corner, and it's at these times when he feels like his heart is tied up with several strings and the strings are being pulled hard in different directions, (and maybe a bit like his heart is being ripped apart by claws and into shreds). These are the moments where Jonghyun is between waking and consciousness and knowledge, and--Jonghyun grins at him, "Hey, Key!"
Key smiles back, a grim sort of smile that says everything and nothing, and watches as Jonghyun shifts his attention to Minho. There is something forming on Jonghyun's back, lighter and more transparent than the rest of his body.
"So, are you Key's friend? Are you a gatekeeper too?"
"I'm here to pick you up," Minho replies.
Jonghyun cocks his head to the side, questioning. "So... are you the angel of death, or something?"
"I'm an angel of death."
"An angel of death? So there's more angels of death?"
"Plenty of people die every day. You know that, hyung."
"Hyung?" Jonghyun turns to Key, confused, but there is no one there. The window is open, and curtains are fluttering in the breeze.
It takes three minutes for the soul to remember everything it has been through. All the memories, the past lives, its mistakes and beginnings, and the thousand years it has lived through. It takes three minutes for the soul to remember. It has been two thousand years.
"Oh." Jonghyun says, eyes filling with pain and regret and love and loss and hurt and, "Where is Key?"
"You remember the conditions, hyung." Minho replies quietly.
Jonghyun laughs, an empty hollow sound. "It's been two thousand years since."
Minho remains impassive, gives no sign of understanding or caring. "Are you ready to go?" He asks.
"I have no choice, have I?" Jonghyun says, he shimmers and becomes the circular ball of smoke again. Minho pulls out a tiny bottle, and the smoke flits in.
Key keeps coming back. Sometimes the search is long and hard. Sometimes it isn't--he'll turn around and Jonghyun will be there on a fine day. Most of the time, it's the former. Sometimes, Key searches across seas and continents and galaxies and other universes and in between and nowhere. Sometimes, there would be glitches curtailing the Order, and he'd have to work lifetimes ensuring the gates were safe. Those times, he never sought Jonghyun.
"Where do you live?" Jonghyun asks him, throwing pebbles into the water.
"The Worlds' End," Key replies. They are sitting next to each other, Key's wings hidden safely from human eyes. It is spring. Jonghyun is wearing jeans and a plain white tee.
"That's not a place. That's a happening, or something." Jonghyun scoffs. The pebble hits the water a little too hard, and the water splashes violently.
"And how would you know?" Key retorts, eyebrow arched. It feels good to feel grass under his hands.
"Because," Jonghyun says as if this should be the most obvious thing on Earth, "the world is round. It doesn't have an end."
Key bursts out laughing. Jonghyun looks at him, affronted. When Key has calmed down a little, he says, "The World's End is not on Earth, Jongyun."
"And everyone knows Earth is an oblate spheroid." Key continues, rolling his eyes and laughing at Jonghyun's inidignation and cries of, "it's the same thing!"
Key wishes it could always be this easy. He remembers when it was this easy.
Sometimes, at the end, Jonghyun asks Minho, or whoever of Death's angels is assigned to pick him up that time, if he was able to meet Key in that lifetime. The memories do come back, but each lifetime upon each lifetime takes its toll, and it's getting harder to separate this lifetime from the previous one. If he was one of the endless, the immortal, this wouldn't even be a problem.
But he wasn't, not fully, not anymore.
He was human.
In this lifetime, Jonghyun is a rock star. He is blonde, and wears leather jackets like they are the greatest thing ever invented. ("They are!")
He thinks Key is "rad" and Key doesn't know why he keeps coming back every night, after Jonghyun's gigs when the other is high from adrenaline and probably something else.
When Jonghyun sees him for the first time in the alleyway where he had his first gig as part of the band Fated, he says, "Now this is first class weed." and then, "You're so fucking pretty and you have pretty wings too." Jonghyun stumbles up to him and Key stays rooted on the spot. Jonghyun raises his hand, fingers Key's wings lightly. There's a dumpster leaning against the red brick walls. The back door of the club is black, with the paint chipping in places.
"They look so fragile. Will they break if I touch them?"
"No," Key whispers. "They can break you though."
"Oh." Jonghyun says, touches his face. He rubs his thumbs over Key's cheekbones, and whispers can I kiss you and doesn't wait for an answer.
He meets Jonghyun for two more days after that in the same alleyway, behind the club his band has regular gigs at. On the fourth day, Jonghyun comes out, sees him and says, "Fuck." Key raises an eyebrow, and after staring at him some more, Jonghyun says, "I didn't take any today. Weed, I mean." There is silence in the alleyway.
"You're real." Jonghyun finally says.
It's one night, when they are having sex, Jonghyun high from E, Jonghyun's hands on Key's hips, that Key's wings unfurl as he climaxes. Jonghyun grabs his hair, pulls him down and kisses him, "You look so gorgeous like that, you know." And Key can’t help the lone tear from escaping, as he remembers the exact same words uttered to him, during nights like this from long ago. The tear becomes a diamond as it falls on the sheets.
Jonghyun has just died (again). He dies young this time, at eighteen, with an ardent adoration for the Beatles. (In this life, Key has managed to meet and keep contact with him). Minho has come to pick him up, and as by the rules, Key could not stay long. Key spreads his dark wings, obscuring the sun.
He flies away, above, below, here and nowhere.
Tomorrow will be a new day.