Very aware of Tense and Never Too Late pending in the background..
Been having the worst case of writer's block though the storylines are all set out and drawn out.
Maybe I am just procrastinating? Heh.
All works will be finished, I promise.
And soon.

When You're Ready


There's this shop run by a man who has run the shop for the past 10 years. Every morning, he sweeps the pavement outside and every evening, he has a smoke and a cup of tea before closing up for the day. Some days it feels like he's waiting. Some days, it doesn't.

He came to this neighbourhood about a few years after he retired from his career. A career that spanned many decades and was fulfilling in every aspect; one where he had peaked and became the best he could ever be. His name was imprinted in history books and the number of awards, of recognition that he had received, attested to the years of blood, toil and sweat. And so much sacrifice and heartbreak. So, so much. But it was okay, because he had never been alone. All the way from the age of 15 and until he had retired at the age of 45, he had never been alone.

His feet and toes would remain deformed; testament to his hours in the studio over the decades and his gastric problems and chronic insomnia would be life-long, no thanks to hours upon hours without regular meals or sleep. But it was worth it, all worth it for what he had gotten back from the path he chose - to achieve his dream. And he had never been alone.

And there was his spirit; an unbreakable strength that carried him through hell and high fire. That led him through darkness and helped him soar on stages as iconic and great as Japan's Nissan Stadium and New York's Madison Square Garden. Even as he reached for the stars, he was never alone.

Finally, there was his heart. Beating and giving him not just life but a love. A love that sprung from deep within. One that pulsed and throbbed and reminded him every single day that he was alive and he was human. That he was allowed to cry, to be lonely, to yearn and to be patient. One that reminded him to hold on, to trust in what he knew to be true, to bravely move on and leave the rest up to Fate. When insecurity breached his confines and fear and depression got the better of him, it was his heart that reminded him he was still not alone.

Ryujin ran along the street down to the shop one autumn afternoon. The breeze was blowing gently and leaves from the trees that lined his way, danced merrily in his wake. In his hand, he held the 2,000₩ needed for his games magazine; given by his mother in reward for doing his homework and the chores promptly. On the last Friday of the month, a new issue was due and he looked forward eagerly to the run to the shop.

The bell chimed as he opened the door.
"Good afternoon, Mr Jung!" shouted Ryujin as he closed the door behind him.
"Ah, Jinnie, is that you? I've saved your copy here." greeted a voice from the backroom.

A tall man in a grey sweater came out from the back. The corner of his almond eyes were now lined with age and there were whispers of grey lining the fading black of his hair. But he was still so very handsome, now with a quiet dignity in his older years. Ryujin had heard his older hyungs mention that Mr Jung used to be part of a superstar idol group in his younger days and even ran his own record label after retirement for a few years. But he had suddenly come to this little town near the East Sea about 10 years ago, selling off everything in Seoul, donating half to charity and opened up this newsagency, seeking solitude and quiet for his golden years. Ryujin's mother had told him nice boys did not to gossip about kind people and there was no one kinder than Mr Jung.

Mr Jung smiled fondly at Ryujin as he handed over the brown package. Ryujin beamed up at the older man as he eagerly opened up the envelope and checked out the cover. He could not wait to get back home and read it.

"I have to go, Mr Jung! Thank you so much!" He said, bowing and turning around towards the door.

He opened the door, eyes still fixated on his prized package when he suddenly bumped into something soft.

Looking up, he realised he had bumped into another man.

"I'm sorry, please excuse me." Ryujin apologised, bowing deeply and moving to the side.

The other man, a tall one too, smiled a toothy smile, eyes crinkling up in a mismatched way. He nodded and turned back, stopping in front of the shop.

Ryujin bowed again and started to run off.

Behind him, the tall stranger looked hesistant as he stared through the glass door. He could see Mr Jung inside, bent over his stock, organising them into piles. His eyes softened and he bit his lower lip nervously. But there was no turning back now.

Ryujin was just a few minutes away when he heard a jingling sound. Ah! It was his 2,000₩ in coins! He had forgotten to pay Mr Jung!

Quickly, he turned around and ran back to the shop.

When he reached, he was about to open the door when the sight through the glass door got him frozen to the spot.

The tall man he had bumped into earlier had his hand up and holding Mr Jung's left cheek, thumb caressing it while he stared into the other's eyes. Mr Jung looked shocked but his eyes were misted over, as if he was in tears and he turned into the hold, kissing the hand.

Ryujin wondered if the tall man was someone very special to Mr Jung and perhaps, he should come back later.


The bell chimed, signalling the arrival of a customer. Mr Jung stood up and turned around.

"Hello.. Oh, oh Changmin? Is that really you?"

"Hello Yunho hyung. It's me."

"How did you.. how did you know where to find me?"

"Jihye. Hyung.. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry it took me so long."

"Changmin-ah..." His voice is strained, too tight with emotion.

"Hyung, I missed you so fucking much." The younger says, his own voice cracking. The years have been kind to him, his handsome features mellowing into a refined look. He holds his right hand out, the ring finger bearing the mark of a ring that had been recently removed.

"Yunho, I missed you so much you have no idea. I needed to see you, to find you and ask you.."

"Ask me what?"

"If you.. could, if you would still want me? Even though I don't deserve you and I never will." Changmin is crying now, heart breaking in his chest, like it had been for the 10 years he had been separated from Yunho.

Yunho smiles, eyes wet. He comes closer and leans into Changmin's caress.

"Of course, I will. I always will. You took so long, Changmin-ah. So very long, but now you're here."

"I'm so sorry hyung. So sorry you had to wait." Changmin leans his forehead against the slightly shorter man.

Yunho smiles again.

"But I knew you'd come. It was just a matter of time."

Changmin grins too, he closes his eyes and leans in, "I love you, Yunho, I never stopped even when we separated."

Yunho gently kisses him, lips pressing against each other, full of tenderness and bittersweet happiness.

"I love you, too, Changmin-ah. And I'll always wait for you, over and over again. When you're ready."


a/n: inspired by the tale of an old man I met 4 years ago aside a shop he owns. as far as i know, he's still waiting. :)


Changmin huffs as he pulls his trolley bag behind him. He knows he should not have bought those extra bags of nougat but Kyuhyun had been badgering him about it.

Of course, he wasn't gonna tell the man he woke himself up from a very nice dream at an ungodly hour of 7am just so he could go down to some supposedly renowned handmade nougat stall in Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market to get a few bags of nougat; original and coffee-flavoured, no less.

He just wanted to try some. And they didn't sell the nougat individually. So.

He clears customs and gets onto his plane to head back to Seoul in good time. Melbourne was fun but his inbox now numbered over 4,000 emails and while half was probably from his Clash of Clans guild complaining about their fortresses being destroyed by the latest versions of Warlock spells, he knows he would feel better back at his desk, first thing on Monday.

The air-stewardess comes by a moment later, and bends down, head low as though she about to share a secret with him.

"Good evening Mr Shim. My apologies but the flight is overbooked and we have to move some of the passengers."

What? Changmin stares at her, a mental image of his inbox exploding into little pieces flashing in his head.

".. To first class. Would you like to move now or after the flight has reached cruising?"

Changmin brightens, a grin on his face, jumping to his feet.

"Why, thank you. Let's go now."

He squeezes past the family with the crying baby in the row before him; the old man who was picking his nose beside him and wonders if it would be bad form to turn around and stick his tongue out at the rest of cattle class.


He settles down in an aisle, and curiously pokes at the seat buttons, almost yelping as the seat elevates into a horizontal position and his feet stick into the air.

He glances around hurriedly and tries to right the seat without anyone having noticed his lack of familiarity with the first class' operations.

Play it cool, Shim.

He can't wait to brag about this coup to Kyuhyun and the boys. 10 hours in First Class, oh yeah.

Now all he was lacking would be.....

"Excuse me, you dropped this." A deep voice sounds from in front of him.

Changmin looks up and is

Greeted by the sight of a very, very delicious man.

Sunglasses on, a smile on his lips, hair swept up and off his face.

Said man takes off his sunglasses and Changmin swears he heard angels sing, or maybe it was his empty stomach growling.

Then he feels something prod against his arm. Right, he had dropped his boarding pass. With the green border demarcating him as "Economy" clearly printed against the white. So much for the pretense.

"Ah, oh thank you. I just uh, got upgraded and uh.." He doesn' want Mr Delicious to think he's a stowaway or something.

Said man chuckles, a sound that makes Changmin want to groan. In pain or desire, he can't decide.

"It's okay, Changmin-sshi. I'm Jung Yunho. Nice to meet you." The man smiles again and turns back.

Changmin isn't sure whether to feel flattered that Sunglasses bothered to read his name. He notices that the top of Yunho's head pokes out slightly from the top of the seat.

Perfect. He's tall like me. Changmin swoons for 5 seconds before mentally kicking himself in the balls and with the imaginary pain that that gives him, settles to appraising the inflight menu choices for the flight.


"Fuck!" He blurts out, momentarily forgetting where he is. Then he remembers and hurriedly looks around but no one seems to have noticed. First Class-ers needed to behave with, well, class, Shim, he sternly reminds himself.

"Anything the matter?" smiles Yunho, turning around, popping his headphones off his head. Changmin looks up, eyes wide with surprise. Shit, he overheard me? On the screen in front of him, Ronaldo takes the opportunity of his distracted defender to kick a goal in, causing the virtual crowd at Stamford Bridge to roar with disapproval. 2 goals in 2 seconds. Great.

He can't suppress his eye-rolling as he looks back at Yunho and recalls the man was still waiting for an answer.

"Ah, I mean, not you. I just, I'm playing Winning Eleven and I just gave away a goal. Sorry for disturbing you." He quickly explains, in case Yunho thought he was rolling his eyes at him.

Yunho chuckes, "That's a coincidence. I'm also playing Winning Eleven and I just..wait. Are you.. are you Chelsea?"

"You're Real Madrid?!"


"Enemehhhh!" Changmin whispers accusingly.

Yunho winks back, "Game on, Changminnie."

Changmin forgets to flush at the nickname as Ronaldo speeds up on screen.


Yunho switches his seats to the empty seat beside Changmin as they start on a Best-Of-3 challenge. Changmin wins 2 with Yunho winning 1. Yunho blames it on the slow response of the controller in his new seat. Changmin blames his on well, one can't win all the time anyway, because where's the fun in that? Yunho stares at him before bursting out in a laugh that he quickly muffles, aware of the drowsing people around. Changmin responds with a mismatched eye-smile of his own behind his hand.

The air stewardess brings around their meals. Yunho gets Changmin's share of strawberries and chocolate pudding after he complains about the small portions. Changmin gets Yunho's chicken and they toast over their new friendship with red wine. Yunho learns that Changmin is a magazine executive with an annoying best friend called Kyuhyun who dog-sits sometimes in exchange for food. Changmin discovers that Yunho is a lawyer for a non-governmental organisation that works with the United Nations and some other big international organisations, who can't really cook but has a dog as well. They both love playin Winning Eleven although they root for different teams but Yunho concedes that Chelsea has some pretty good tactics, if only they would stop just throwing their money around. Changmin narrows his eyes at that because what good is money for if not to buy good things and that includes star players and fine, Real Madrid is pretty awesome except the La Liga style is too fanciful for his liking. When Changmin falls asleep while watching a movie, Yunho quietly pulls up the blanket around his neck and tucks away the memory of seeing the younger man sniff a few times because it was kinda cute. When Yunho's tea grows cold as he types away on his email, Changmin orders a fresh cup when he calls the stewardess for a bottle of water and he gets a bowl of nuts as well and pushes it to the lawyer's side. Yunho's surprised smile in thanks is thanks enough, Changmin reckons. He smiles to himself as Yunho pouts subconsciously at something his laptop is refusing to do for him.


When they land, Yunho pulls on his blazer and hangs around the seat, not walking off. Changmin gets his bags of nougat from the overheard compartment and they kinda stand and stare at each other in a slightly awkward silence.

"Well, I guess this is goodbye. It was really nice meeting you.." starts Changmin.

"Yes, it was nice meeting you too. I really had fun." continues Yunho.

"But hey, Chelsea has this match on Saturday.." Yunho frowns and pulls out his phone, "If I remember correctly.."

"Chelsea? Yeah, they're playing.." replies Changmin

"Wanna watch it together?"

"You want to watch a Chelsea match?" Changmin grins, "Are you secretly admitting that you're a Blues fan?"

"NO! I mean, whatever. I'm giving you a chance to convince me."

"Convince you?" laughs Changmin. "Fine. Give me your number."


They meet on Saturday at a nice London-style pub in Sinsa-dong, Seoul for the start of the Barclays Premier League, to watch Chelsea play their first match.

They sit close, laugh and exchange taunts and teases over football and football players.

This continues for the rest of the BPL season; and even after Chelsea crashes out in the semis; they meet too often with a lot of teasing over Chelsea's failure and Real Madrid's greatness and why soondae is better fried not in soup -- that turn into too many tense moments of staring awkwardly at each other's eyes and lips and... end in kisses and tongues meeting and groping and tight jeans and heavy breathing and oh, so much want.

By the start of the new La Liga season, they now watch football in Yunho's apartment. La Liga matches are usually at ungodly hours like at 3.30am. Yunho's apartment overlooks the Han River and the curtains that Changmin ordered hang neatly against the ceiling-to-floor windows, because it was too bare for his liking and Yunho did not want Changmin to find any reason not to move in together with him. Not that he wouldn't have anyway, but Yunho didn't have to know that. Changmin marks an extra notch on his scoreboard of Changmin: 218 to Yunho's 206.

Tonight they are watching Real Madrid. Except Changmin's head is in Yunho's lap and his right hand is draped lazily across his chest, fingers interlinked with Yunho's left hand which is on his shoulder.

He kisses the back of Yunho's hand as he feels the pull of sleep. Yunho recognises it as Changmin's way of saying goodnight and leans down to press a kiss on his forehead. Changmin turns inwards, back to the TV and closes his eyes as he settles in. Yunho reaches for the remote control and lowers the volume, slouching down further to give Changmin more room. Despite the king-sized bed in the bedroom, Changmin never wanted to sleep there alone and would just fall asleep during the early-morning matches on Yunho's lap. When he awoke for work, he would be in bed, Yunho having carried him in after.

He leans over the sleeping form next to him, Yunho always took a half day on a match-day, and drops a kiss on the other's cheek. He had read the sports headlines while having his breakfast, first making a face at the news and then smiling because it meant Yunho would be in a good mood.

"Congrats on winning La Liga, baby."

x-posted on AO3

Never Too Late: Years
-continues from Never Too Late: Prologue -

Changmin feels around for his carefully-used wallet from the back of his jeans and pulls it out. He grabs the receipt and looks at it.

Cho Antiques, it says.

Huh, he thinks. Maybe Mr Cho would have an idea of who the table used to belong to. He sheaths the receipt back into his wallet and looks back down at the book. Maybe he should take it along and see if Mr Cho recognised it.


The door bell chimes, signalling his entry.

A middle-aged man in overalls at the far end of the shop stands up from his crouched-over position, looking up at the newcomer.

"Mr Cho. I'm the person who bought that little redwood dresser from you awhile ago," starts Changmin with a little smile, walking over towards the other.

"Ah, yes. What can I do for you, young lad?" replies Mr Cho, brushing his hands against his overalls. Changmin is holding the book in his left hand and passes it to the shop owner.

"This was in the drawer of the dresser. Maybe the previous owner had left it behind..?" asks Changmin.

Mr Cho does not respond. His eyes have gone wide and he is staring at the book. Oh, Changmin thinks, he definitely recognises it.

"Mr Cho..? Do you know who it belongs to..?"

The owner startles and his eyes turn back to Changmin, as if just remembering he was still there. He plasters a half-smile on his face, "Yes, lad. I do, indeed."


"I never knew.. it was there all along. It was there. If only.. if only Yunho.." Mr Cho's voice trails off as he shakes his head slowly, like he was in disbelief.

Changmin is lost; it seems the book was something really important and its owner had been a man called Yunho. Curiosity tickles at his tongue and he opens his mouth to ask again.

"Yunho? Was this Yunho the owner..?"


The two men lay on the grass, arms draped lazily around the other. The sun was high in the sky but the cover of the tree shaded them from its full glare. The one on the right was slightly taller and his eyes turned up in a mismatched way when he smiled. And he smiled often, mostly when the man next to him was near. His short, slightly wavy hair showed off his boyishly-handsome features off to their best. Sometimes, just sometimes, the older of the two swore, he felt like he could stare at the man forever.

They lay there, staring into each other's eyes, a soft breeze tickling their skin. Then the older of the two leaned in and brushed a kiss onto the tip of the younger's nose.

"You're such a sap, Yunho."
"You secretly love it though, Min-ah."
"I don't."
"You so do." laughs Yunho as he reaches over to tickle the younger, squealing in protest. He lands on top of the man, and time stops.
"Hey." whispers Yunho.
"Hey." replies Min.
"How did I become so lucky?"
The tips of Min's ears colour slightly at the proclamation. He nudges at the older man, all the while holding him close.
"No, baby. I'm the lucky one." he murmurs, as he reaches up to press a kiss against the other's bow-shaped lips.

"Yun..? Baby? Where are you?" whispered Min urgently, tears threatening to fall out of his doe eyes. He looked around frantically at the empty study, hoping against hope that Yunho would appear, maybe crawl out from under his desk or one of the secret conclaves hidden behind his bookshelves. Yunho was an inventor and recently, he had stumbled upon a formula.

With eyes alight with excitement, he had run up to the workshop where Min had been, working on one of his woodwork projects, and enveloped the other in a bear hug.

"Baby, baby, baby! I think I may have made a groundbreaking discovery. I will be lauded in journals everywhere, be called to Germany, to Switzerland, maybe even win a Novel Peace Prize! Do you realise what this means?"

Yunho had babbled on excitedly about managing to find something that he had called a 'backdoor'; something that allowed him to manipulate 'time and space'. Min didn't really understand most of it; he had just put it down to scientific jargon and kissed Yunho back, happy for him. They had celebrated that night with a bottle of vintage and then Yunho had taken him to bed. Savoured him. Held him. Once again, whispering words of love and thanks.

"Thank you so much. I love you, I love you. You give me so much strength, baby. I love you."

Min had not known at the time, he just kissed Yunho back and moaned as the other thrust himself into him repeatedly, climaxing together.

But Yunho was nowhere to be found. He had said, he said he would be back. He needed to test something, he had said. He needed to go but he would be back and he would be back soon. And then he would show it to Min and the both of them could try it out. And it would be perfectly safe.

I got to try it out, and make sure it's safe for you to come along. Just hang on, baby.

Min felt the tears come out as panic swelled up in his throat. That was almost 12 hours ago. Yunho said he would be back in an hour. And he was definitely not in this room although he had not left the house, of that Min was pretty sure.

With shaking hands, he reached for the phone and dialled a number.

"Kyu? Kyu... Yunho's gone."


Mr Cho finishes his recollection, fingers massaging at his temples. He is almost misty-eyed as well, as though recalling something traumatic. Changmin is quiet by his side, trying to absorb what he had just been told.

So Yunho and Min had been lovers; and then one day, Yunho had gone missing. It seemed like the journal then, was meant for Min. But how did Yunho manage to leave it in the drawer of the dresser? How did it go undetected for so long?

Mr Cho shakes his head.

"Min and I were best friends. But Yunho's disappearance took its toll on him. He was sure, so sure Yunho would return and refused to move on. Then one day, about a few years after Yunho had disappeared, he told me Yunho had returned and then disappeared again. It happened a few times. I was sure he had finally lost it. Then, one day," Mr Cho shudders and closes his eyes. "One day, I saw Yunho."


Kyuhyun cursed under his breath as he walked up the pathway leading to the house. Min needed to do some lawn maintenance and soon, but he had been busy with some carpentry. For that, Kyuhyun was glad. After Yunho had gone, Min had lost interest in many things for a long time. But recently, he had returned to work. He had even stopped bringing up seeing Yunho, which probably meant he was starting to heal in the head as well.

Hearing voices, Kyuhyun looked up the pathway and -gasped- as he spotted a slightly shorter man holding Min in his arms from the back. Although he could only see the side of the couple, he recognised Yunho immediately. Those broad shoulders, the long, black hair, the white shirt that clung to his biceps. He was holding onto Min tightly and Min had his eyes closed, leaning back.

"I love you so much, baby. I'm so sorry I keep doing this to you." said Yunho as he nuzzled into the side of Min's neck.
"When will you stop leaving me?"
"I don't know. I'm trying, I'm trying so hard to stay. Every time I come back, I try. You have to believe me."
"It's not fair, Yun. I can't. How do I wait for someone who can't be with me?"
"All I know is the reason I can return every time, is because I know you are there waiting."

Kyuhyun had sunk to his knees in shock, watching the scene unfold although he knew he was intruding. Min had been telling the truth! He quietly got up and left, wanting to give the two privacy. From then on, he had become more protective of Min, waiting for his best friend to tell him everything.

Then one day, he had.

Over wine outside in the lawn, Min had been sitting, staring up at the sky which was lit up with twinkling stars. It was silence, a comfortable one that came with years of familiarity.

"Kyu," began Min. He took a sip of wine to fortify himself. "I have something to tell you."

Kyuhyun had looked at him over the top of his glass. He had a feeling...

"Yunho. Remember when I told you Yunho had been working on a formula and discovered something? Well, he discovered the backdoor to manipulate time and space." Changmin took another gulp of his wine and sat up, turning to face Kyuhyun fully.

"Yunho accidentally uncovered the backdoor to time travel." he stated, a sad smile turning up at the corner of his lips.

Tense (13) Showtime
- continues from Tense (12) Danger -

*Warnings: Violence


Hojun cursed silently under his breath as he ran up the flight of stairs, keeping close to the wall with his revolver cocked and ready. As he neared the 40th floor, he could hear running footsteps from down below; they would either be Siwon's men or Kei-san's yakuza.


38th floor.

He heard the stairway door above him open and shrank back against the wall, waiting.

It was a man's voice, speaking angrily in Japanese.

"Kei-san isn't aware of this, is he?...He's in the room now with an order not to be disturbed... I've called for back-up... Fuck, do I look like I know how the hell it happened..?!"


"Your reputation precedes you, Yunho-san. As well as your little dalliance with my Changmin-kun over here." Kei-san smiled, a smile without warmth.

Yunho gritted his teeth but kept his expression still.

"That is not how we do things in Japan, Yunho-san. And I must apologise on behalf of Changmin-kun that he did not see fit to inform you of his roots before getting involved. But I am sure you would understand of course, after all, we are of the same cloth."

"What do you plan to do with him?" asked Yunho, voice steady not betraying the anger that was bubbling beneath his still demeanour. Behind him, Changmin had pulled himself to a seated position, hidden under the blankets. He was watching the scene before him with wide eyes; still raw from the torture that he had undergone earlier but his fighting spirit was coming back. Strengthened by Yunho's affirmation; his proclamation of love. Despite it all. He looked around for his discarded clothes and started inching towards them.

"Oh, Yunho-san. You amuse me. What do you do when one of yours betrays you like Changmin-kun has, to me? Don't worry, I can't bear to kill him. But I will have to correct him."

Yunho narrowed his eyes, still staring right at Kei-san. The shorter and stouter man was still grinning but underneath the grin was a threatening countenance. Without turning, he murmured quickly to the man behind him,

"Changminnie, first chance you get, promise me you'll run."

Changmin looked up, having dressed himself discreetly beneath the blankets while the two other men were talking.


"Promise me!"

"No, Yunho. I'm not leaving you anymore."

Yunho closed his eyes in frustration. He snuck a glance at Kei-san who was still watching him, smile plastered on his face as though mocking him.

"Fuck Changmin, this is NOT the time to be.."

"NO. Yunho. Neither of you own me, neither of you can order me around and right now, I'm staying WITH YOU all the fucking way."

Yunho smirked, heat surging through his body.

He straightened up once again, sensing Changmin move closer behind him.

"Well, Kei-san. You heard him. And friendly reminder, this is Korea, not Japan. So you are now on my turf, not yours." He stated, pulling out his gun and aiming it straight at the yakuza.


Hojun stepped gingerly over the dead bodies in the corridoer, turning up his nose at the knife wounds on their necks. Standard Yunho MO - straight across the jugular. He rolled his eyes at his old friend and boss' uniformity while feeling a sense of relief. It meant that Yunho won the first round, which means he was still alive.

Bad news was, he had not gotten any calls from Heechul yet. Which meant the two were still on the other side of the door with goodness-knows-who-else.

He noticed the door stood slightly ajar, its knob having been blown off. Pasting himself next to the wall, he peeked through the gap and caught sight of two men in suits standing just inside the door, back facing him. They had earpieces that went down their backs, signifying that they were bodyguards.

So Kei-san's in there.

Suddenly, he heard a gunshot and a man's cry. The two men jerked up and looked at each other. One of them started to reach for his back pocket.

There was no time to lose.

Hojun gave his surroundings another glance-over.

Then he counted '1..' and pushed the door open quickly, pumping a muffled bullet into one of the guys on the left before he turned onto the guy on the right.

It was over before he reached '3'.


It was a showdown.
Eyeball to eyeball.
Who would blink first?

Kei-san had reacted as fast as lightning, whipping out a gun of his own and aiming it right at Yunho's heart.

Changmin had tried to push him away but Yunho stood his ground firmly, instead pulling Changmin closer with his free arm.

In Japanese, Changmin turned to Kei-san.

"Kei-san. Let him go, this is between you and me."
"Now, why would I want to listen to you?"
"Don't you know who he is? Are you sure you want this to become an all-out war in a foreign land?"

Yunho growled.

"Changmin, what the fuck are you saying to him? You are not going anywhere!"

"Kei-san," Changmin went on. "The truth is, the Jumon Syndicate is not involved in this. Yes, I've fucked Yunho. But I've also fucked Choi Siwon."

A sharp intake of breath could be heard from the man next to him whose arm was around his waist. Changmin ignored the twinge of guilt he felt and continued.

"I've not only fucked Choi Siwon, I'm officially his man. The rights to ownership of my patronage belong to Choi. Not Jung."

And with that, Changmin pulled himself out of Yunho's grasp and pulled down his pants, exposing his left hip.

The symbol for Haeyun was carved into his skin; still red but there.

Changmin was marked in the most traditional way possible and one that all gangs alike recognised.

When you joined a gang, the last rite of initiation was to be marked with the gang symbol. It was life-long and it represented the person's gang identity and who they belonged to. For all intents and purposes, Changmin was with Choi Siwon, not just physically but also mentally.

Yunho felt a wave of betrayal hit him in the gut and the arm holding the gun wavered.

"Choi Siwon dared to mark you, knowing you belonged to me?" snarled the yakuza. Finally, his face was overcome with a murderous expression of his own. It was a huge affront to the yakuza code of conduct to mark another gang's property without the proper transactions made.

"Changmin?" Yunho asked, voice trembling with the sheer effort of trying to stay composed. He was facing Changmin fully now, having taken his eyes off Kei-san.

And that was when Kei-san looked up and saw his opportunity to strike.

He moved his gun to aim it at Changmin and his finger moved over the trigger.

"YUNHO!" Changmin cried out.

The Korean triad boss dove at Kei-san, causing the man's arm to fly up.


Hojun dashed into the room, gun poised. He saw Kei-san on the ground, momentarily knocked out cold when he was tackled to the ground. Yunho was on top of him, groaning in pain.

"Hojun!" Changmin called out as he caught sight of the assistant. "Yunho got shot! We need to get out of here!"

"Heechul's waiting downstairs." Hojun answered, awash with relief at seeing Yunho alive. "But Kei-san has more men stationed all over the building. We have to go now! Yunho, are you alright?"

Yunho nodded. He gestured at his shirt weakly. "Heechul made me wear a vest." Hojun cursed again and gave silent thanks to Heechul, noting that he now owed the older man another. Changmin got up and went gingerly over to Yunho, trying to help him to stand. He tucked his face into the crook of the older man's neck, feeling like he was going to cry again. Yunho held him briefly then walked over to the dead lady and bent down, wincing at the pain and picking up the dagger that was still lodged in her throat. He quickly wiped the blade on her pantsuit.

"Let's go."

"Yun..? You sure you're alright? I thought I almost lost you.." Changmin whispered. He was pale with fear and pain, shaking from the turmoil that he had just been through in the last few hours.

"Shush, talk later." replied Yunho. "You can't walk, can you?" He dropped a quick kiss against Changmin's temple and with a huge grunt of effort, picked Changmin up bridal-style. Changmin just held onto Yunho tightly.

Then following Hojun, they headed out of the room.

In the distance, gunshots could be heard. Then the elevator dinged and three men with guns out, poured from it and ran towards the open doors of the suite.

- continues to Tense (14) Backfire -

Tense (12) Danger
-continues from Tense (11) Suspense -

*Warnings: Graphic Descriptions of Violence/Implied sexual violence*

The car pulls up at a swanky hotel in downtown Seoul. A Japanese woman, in a sleek pantsuit and scarlet red lipstick stands waiting for them in the lobby. The click-clack of her stilettos, an ominous tick-tock to the fate that would be awaiting Changmin on the 40th floor.

The lift opens up into a penthouse suite. It takes up an entire floor, with an opening to the rooftop which has a helipad and overlooks Namsan Mountain. A stunning skyline but essentially, it means silence. Seclusion. Separation. From anything that will take place in the hours that follow.

Changmin is led into the master bedroom. It is all white sheets and pale brown furnishing. But on the bed, there is something. Long and black. Leather-made and laced with steel. Changmin recognises it instantly. A dildo. He glances at the side table.

Nothing but a few leather straps, a pair of rubber gloves.
Bindings. No prep. No lube. No condoms.

He gulps.

"Changmin-san, strip please."

The order comes from the woman, who has settled herself in the living room of the suite. Her voice is sharp and toneless. For a moment, he contemplates refusing. But he knows better. There isn't a choice, is there?

He starts unbuttoning his shirt, heart thumping slowly.


Yunho switches off the engine of his Harley-Davidson as he swings the bike into a parking position along the side of the road. He looks up at the tall building in front of him and spots the uppermost penthouse suite. Its windows had curtains drawn but the lights were on inside.

Changmin was in there, somewhere.

A flicker of doubt went through his head but he recalled something; something that had lodged itself at the back of his head and refused to let go.

"No matter what happens, remember, I'm always yours."

That was enough. He left his bike and headed for the side of the building.


Her fingers were icy cold and the blood-red of her nails stood out against her alabaster skin. Her long fingers stroked the curve of Changmin's neck as she wound the leather straps around his wrists. Not a word was exchanged, but Changmin could feel the sense of foreboding build as he knelt, naked on the floor.

His ankles had already been bound together beneath his body; the softness of the carpet grating against his knees. His hair was standing, not just against the cold but for another reason entirely.

She turned and went to the side table, putting the gloves on.

"Get onto the bed, please, Changmin-san", came the next order. Still unfeeling. Still toneless.

He climbed onto the bed and returned to his kneeling position. Looking around the room, he wondered briefly if he could wriggle free from his bindings, overpower her and make a run for it. But he doubted it. Kei-san would not have sent just anyone for him. She could probably crush his windpipe with her hand alone.

"Spread your legs."

With a sinking feeling, he did what he was told. Knowing what was to come, and yet hoping against hope, he closed his eyes and just prayed, he had the mental strength to survive it.

Outside, there was a quiet thud.


Yunho wiped the blade of his dagger on the blazer of the now-dead bodyguard lying in front of him. Two other bodies lay strewn in the carpeted hallway behind him. Naturally, the surveillance cameras of the entire floor had been switched off for the night. Kei-san was not one to do things half-way, and he had counted on that when he slipped into the 40th floor via the staff elevator.

He felt something wet on the side of his face and lifted his hand to wipe it off.


Fucking dude must have gotten a slash in.

In less than 5 minutes, Kei-san would be arriving, if he wasn't already in the suite with Changmin. He had to move faster.

Well, that meant doing away with the quiet way of breaking into a room.

He grabbed his gun and aimed it at the door.


He refused to shed a single tear, gritting his teeth through it all.

His legs lay limply open wide, still bound at the ankles which were now scraped red with the rubbing of the straps against his skin. Maybe he was bleeding a little, he did not know. The pain had subsided into a dull ache but at least when Kei-san came, he would be open and prepared for the intrusions. His eyes were closed, perhaps he could pretend this was a horrible dream; one that he would soon wake up from.

Beside him, the lady had thrown her gloves into a plastic-bag lined wastebasket and had gone into the bathroom to wash her hands. Changmin had been more sedate than she had expected, but perhaps it was the knowledge that Kei-san would be worse, that had quietened his usual spirit.

Then a BANG from the outside got her crouching to the floor as she hitched her skirt up and grabbed at the pistol that was strapped to her thigh.


"Changmin!" yelled Yunho, as he pushed into the bedroom and saw the bound man lying lifelessly upon the sheets.

"Changmin, baby. Can you hear me?" whispered Yunho, as he climbed onto the bed, hovering over the still figure. He raised a hand to Changmin's face and felt his heart ache as the other flinched from his touch.

"Yun..Yunho?" Changmin murmured, not daring to wake up.

"Baby, it's me. I'm here." Yunho bent down, laying a gentle kiss on the other's sweat-streaked forehead. He glanced down at the rest of the body, trying to fight the rage that was threatening to pour out of him. Grabbing his dagger, he started to slash through the straps that trapped the man he loved.

"Your face, Yunho.." whispered Changmin, agonised, as he caught sight of the bleeding wound on Yunho's cheek.

"It's okay, baby. You'll still love me with a scar on my face right?" Yunho said, smiling down at him.

"Idiot." Changmin was nearly crying now. Would you? Would you still love me like this?

Then a voice sounded, breaking their reverie.

"Yunho-san. Let go of him, please."

Yunho continued slashing through the last of the straps, holding onto Changmin's raw wrists.

"Let go of him, please." came the demand, toneless and sharp, just like how it had been earlier.

"Were you the one who did this to him?" asked Yunho quietly, eyes still locked onto Changmin's as he raised his wrists to his lips and kissed the both of them. Changmin stared up at him, empty but the vestiges of a tear were starting to form at the tenderness that was being shown.

That was all the answer Yunho needed.

He flicked a hand without turning, and with a muffled cry, the lady sunk to the floor; a dagger lodged in her throat.

"Yunho-san. That is not a nice way to say hello."

That voice. Changmin thought, his heart sinking deep. He looked up at Yunho again, shaking his head slowly, fingers clutching tightly at the other's.


He had no idea what he was pleading for. Just that he was.

Yunho bent down again and this time, pressed a kiss onto Changmin's dry lips.

"I love you, Shim Changmin. Stay with me." he whispered. Changmin just looked back, and then a glimmer of the man he loved; the free unbridled spirit that was now subdued, surfaced, and that man nodded, wide eyes brimming over with tears.

Turning around, almond eyes alit with fire, Yunho got off the bed and stood erect to his full height. Re-energised.

Now, he had something to avenge. Facing the newcomer at the door, he started,

"Kei-san. I don't think we've been introduced properly yet. My name is Yunho. But you may have heard of me as "The President"."


Outside, several black cars had pulled up and men were running across the road towards the hotel, guns held by their side.

On the other end, Heechul sat in his Mini Cooper with a Union Jack emblazoned over it, tapping his fingers impatiently.

Come on, Hojun. Get them out of there, now.

- continues to Tense (13) Showtime -

Lullaby: Postscript
-continues from Lullaby: Ultimo Finale -


Shim Changmin, aged 25 steps onto the stage.
Lit only by a single spotlight.
3 years since he returned to London.
5 years since he lost his heart.

The orchestra sits poised, ready.
Instruments raised, waiting.

The conductor turns his head to wait for Changmin's cue.

He looks ahead,
eyes searching.

And meets a pair of almond brown eyes.
Gloved hands curved over a cane.
A soft smile on his lips.

The same lips that kissed him good luck just an hour ago.

Eyes that have lost its gold glimmer;
just as scars have faded into mere shadows
As tenderness and patience took their place
With music and love leading the way.

An almost imperceptible nod, in acknowledgement of the look that Changmin was giving him.

Per Te, Mio Amore.
For you, my love.


Sento nell'aria profumo di te
Piccoli sogni vissuti con me
Ora lo so, non voglio perderti

Quella dolcezza cos senza et
La tua bellezza rivali non ha
Il cuore mio vuole soltanto te

Per te, per te, vivr
L'amore vincer
Con te, con te avr

Mille giorni di felicit, mille notti di serenit
Far quello che mi chiederai
Andr sempre dovunque tu andrai
Dar tutto l'amore che ho per te

Dimmi che tu gi il futuro lo sai
Dimmi che questo non finir mai
Senza di te non voglio esistere

Per te, per te, vivr
L'amore vincer
Con te, con te avr

Mille giorni di felicit, mille notti di serenit
Far quello che mi chiederai
Andr sempre dovunque tu andrai
Dar tutto l'amore che ho per te

Non devo dirtelo, ormai gia lo sai
Che morirei, senza di te

Per te, per te, vivr
L'amore vincer
Con te, con te far

Tutto quello che mi chiederai
Andr sempre dovunque tu andrai
Dar tutto l'amore che ho per te


I sense in the air the scent of you
Fleeting dreams that lived with me
Now I know,
I don’t wanna lose you
That sweetness which has no age
Your beauty has no rivals
My heart wants only you

For you, For you, I’ll live
Love is gonna win
With you, With you, I’ll have
Thousands days of happiness
Thousands nights of serenity
I’ll do what you’ll ask me to
I’ll go always anywher you go
I’ll give all the love I feel for you

Tell me that you know the future, yet
Tell me that this is not gonna change
Without you I don’t wanna exist

For you, For you, I’ll live
Love is gonna win
With you, With you, I’ll have
Thousands days of happiness
Thousands nights of serenity
I’ll do what you’ll ask me to
I’ll go always anywher you go
I’ll give all the love I feel for you

I mustn’t say it to you,
By now you know it
That I would die without you

For you, For you, I’ll live
Love is gonna win
With you, With you, I’ll do
Everything you’ll ask me to
I’ll go always, anywhere you go
I’ll give all the love, I feel for you


And without a word being said,
he hears the response in his heart.
The contact between their eyes not breaking;
The black-red rose, pinned to Changmin's jacket.

Tu sei la mia melodia.
You are my melody.
Ti Amo, Shim Changmin, whispers Yunho, from the depths of his being.

Thrill Me, Kill Me

* warnings: rated, graphic, violence, abuse, angst *

i do not condone violence in any form, intended or unintended.
written from alternative viewpoints of the two.
i had this sitting in my drafts folder for the longest time, but it seems it had to be shared.
an unfortunate reality is that - this kind of relationship is actually more common than you know -.


love is not enough.

The bottle breaks against the wall
A hand is raised and a punch is thrown

I'm sorry

Against the wall, hard.

Slam, I can't breathe.
Pain. So much pain.

Blood flows
Skin colours purple
An eye twitches

I guess I don't know my own strength

I can barely breathe in the same room as you
I don't want to see you.

Come back, please

I fucking hate you
Am I your dirty secret
Are you ashamed of me

Who do you see when you close your eyes
This ugliness
This filth


I like the way it hurts

I love you
I need you


Kiss me,
Hold me,
Thrill Me

I would never hurt you
I promised.
I said things I didn't mean
I was just angry, baby.
You make me so angry.

Table overturns, broken glass and shattered remains

Only because I love you too much
I love you, too.

Fuck me hard.
Let me in
Why don't you let me in?!

Fuck, I'm coming.
Take it all.

I'm scared of you.

what are these tears mixed with red.

Fingers entwine, tightly.
I can't let go.

There will be no next time after this goodbye.

I'm sorry, baby.
I'm sorry too.

The sun sets and rises.

Lullaby: Ultimo Finale
-continued from Lullaby: Yunho's Perspective -


The night went on and ended uneventfully.
The concert a success and yet a failure.
He didn't show.

Unable to bear the heartbreak and complete utter disappointment that he felt, Changmin slipped out of the maddening crowd. Kyungjae would probably yell at him when he realised he had disappeared but he'd deal with it later.

Walking down the path, he reached the banks of the Thames River, fingers dragging along the black steel of the railing that lined it.
Many thoughts were swirling in his head, but none of them stood out.

Where were you? Why? Did I imagine the piano-playing? The message? Did I imagine all of it?
Did I imagine our love affair?

The cobblestones slick with the London wet. The sky, dark like his mood. Changmin stared blankly ahead, at the brickstone building that stood before him. And then his gaze rose and he saw it; the large window stood open, curtains flying in the night breeze.


He ran forward to the front door and yanked it open, dashing up the stairs.

Yunho! Yunho! Yunho!

His heart racing, and panting wildly, he reached the top floor.
The door stood slightly ajar.

And then the music started.

He stepped into the apartment, and closed the door quietly behind him.
In the darkness of the hallway, there was a single stream of light from the streets outside that lit up the room at the end. The source of where the soft tinkle of the piano music.

Our song

He now associated that song with Yunho, loved and hated it all the same. The other's essence, his soul, his very being in each and every space, in every word.

So beautiful and yet so sorrowful.
My Yunho.

He treaded softly across the carpeted floor, moving carefully amongst the broken glass that littered its surface. It did not look like it had been cleaned ever since.. ever since.

The piano-playing got louder as he neared the room, the vast room with the window that overlooked Bloomsbury Square; with the grand Broadwood & Sons piano in the middle.

He hardly dared to breathe, but was sure the pounding of his heart could be heard echoing throughout the house. He stood behind the wall, before taking a deep breath and peeking around.

And there he was.
The one person in this world who could make him soar, and yet bring him down.

The curve of his back.
The length of his fingers as they danced over the keys.
The slight sway to the music.

"Yunho." he whimpered, unable to hold it in any longer.

Silence. The fingers froze over the keys, held in mid-air.

A soft whisper.


The sound of his voice, giving him strength. He turned and reached out, walking into the room.

"Wait, don't come any nearer."
"What? Why?"
"Just don't. Stay where you are."

Confusion crossed his features as he shook his head slowly, trying to come to terms with the immediate rejection? refusal?

"I don't.. I don't want you to see me like this."

"Like what..?"

"It's best if you go."

Shaking his head, Changmin stepped a little more closer. Yunho seemed to sense it and stood up suddenly, toppling the piano bench with a loud thud.


His eyes glimmered gold.


"Changmin, stop. I'm going to hurt you!" Yunho cried out.

He moved around the piano, back still towards Changmin, clutching at his head with his hands.

"Yunho..." Changmin whispered, moving forward.

"CHANGMIN. GET OUT OF HERE!!" Yunho growled, a hoarseness coming out of his throat as he fell to his knees. He started clenching his fists and punched the floor.

"Yunho! Stop! You're hurting yourself!" screamed Changmin, as he heard the sickening crunch of skin on concrete.

"I rather hurt me than hurt you again." murmured Yunho, a broken resignation tinging his voice. And that was all it took for Changmin to make up his mind.

He dove forward, grabbing hold of Yunho from the back and grasping the broader man tight in his arms.

"No, stop, Yunho. You're hurting me by hurting yourself. Stop, please." He could see the ebony-red of the broken skin on the other's knuckles.

"Please turn around, I want to see you."
Yunho shook his head, shoulders trembling.
"I'm a monster."

Changmin held on tighter.

"No, you're not. You're beautiful. You've always been beautiful to me."

Then he sang a verse softly under his breath.

If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is..

"Turn around, Yunho." he asked again.

Yunho turned around, head still bowed.
Changmin gently held his chin and lifted it up.

Black hair that flopped over one side.
Almond eyes, as dark as night.
Bow-shaped lips.
A tiny mole.
He raised a hand to sweep away the bangs, and then he saw the scars.
They curved their way from around and under the corner of left eye and up towards his ear. Another faint one lined is mouth. As though he had crashed into a wall of glass.

"What happened?" he whispered, not out of horror but of sadness.
Yunho shrugged his chin out of Changmin's hold, mistaking it for disgust.

"I told you I'm a monster now. The Fury in me.."

"No," Changmin grabbed hold of Yunho's face again with both hands, leaning his forehead against the older man. "All I see is you, the man I love."

"Love?" Yunho asked, not daring to hope.

"I love you." declared Changmin, feeling tears of emotion well up.

"Even with my scars? Even with the Fury in me?"

"You. All of you." promised Changmin, tilting his head to give Yunho a kiss on his scarred mouth.

"What if I hurt you again?"

"I trust you. I'm your Lullaby, remember?"

Time stops still for a second as they both stare at each other, letting their emotions reach out and dance around each other.

And then this time, it is Yunho who presses forward, capturing Changmin's lips with a promise of forever in his own.

And you'll live, as if you've never lived before. You alone can make my soul take flight.

-continues to Lullaby: Postscript -

I loved this series like no other, weaving my love of operas and musicals and classical music into it. I don't think I did the storyline justice though, but oh, how I loved this series..

Behind The Text Message

It was a normal part of a normal interview by an ordinary magazine.
Questioning celebrities about stuff they had received before; about relationships; about work.
The celebrity in question was TVXQ's leader, Jung Yunho.

"What was the most memorable text message that you've ever received?"
Yunho pauses, scrolling through his memories. And then...

"Come home soon." That was pretty memorable, laughs Yunho.
The journalist quirks an eyebrow, scribbling down the answer.
She wonders if it was a family member, or someone special.

Yunho chuckles again, his eyes crinkled in his trademark eye smile, the way he smiles when he's at ease and is happy. Sincerely happy.
It makes the journalist and the cameraman smile unconsciously too.

"It was Changmin."


Changmin sighed, sinking lower into the couch.

He stares out through the open living room windows, the afternoon sunlight dulling down to a sunset softness.

He feels hot, stifled. Or maybe it was just the weight of boredom. Or something more. He tries not to dwell on it.

His game controller lies limply on his lap as he stretches himself along the full length of the cough. His phone lies on the floor, next to his fingers that tap against the cold marble. The screen flickers off as it lays unnoticed.

He exhales and sighs again.

The apartment is silent, except for the sounds of north Seoul trickling in through the open windows.

He wonders if it would be too early to eat dinner at 5.30pm.

Halfway through his reverie, he dozes off.



The door opens, the keycode buzzing to allow entrance.

He kicks his shoes off and moves them to the side with his socked foot.

Then he steps softly across the floor, looking about the living room that is now covered in the dimness of the early evening.

His eyes find what they are looking for, as they rest on a dark curve that is lying against the arm-rest of the couch. A long arm is left hanging against the side, with the other over the arm-rest. Soft breaths can be heard, alluding to the light sleep that its emitter is in.

He pads over, a slight smile already crooking the corner of his mouth up.

He bends over, a hand reaching out to brush a wisp of hair away from the prone figure's forehead.

Then he places his lips gently against skin, leaving a press of a kiss; a whispered greeting.


Changmin jerks awake, eyes open in surprise at the touch. He had not been deeply asleep as he had been waiting.

His vision blurs with sleep and then re-focuses on the face that is looking down on him.

A welcome sight.

Almond eyes, a tiny grin.

A hand; rough on the outside but soft to Changmin, against the side of his head.

He smiles back sleepily, leaning into the touch.


"How come you're back so soon?" he says.

Yunho smiles again, and lowers his head once more, lips touching the tip of Changmin's nose.

"You asked me to come home."


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