Length: 21 400~ words
Warnings: Hints of a slaughter scene, hints of orgies, hints of sex with buildings.
Summary: After randomly receiving a mysterious train ticket with his mail, city-boy Kyungsoo finds himself in a tiny sea-side village currently preparing for their Midsummer celebrations. He meets the local Jongin who has a lot to do but also a lot to teach and promptly starts invading both Kyungsoo’s life and Kyungsoo’s mind. By the end of the week, Kyungsoo’s can no longer really tell what’s real and what’s just an overly keen sense of details.
The alarm doesn’t go off.
Kyungsoo starts awake at five to eight, frenzied and confused, to kick the covers off and curse vehemently under his breath. He may have dreamt something, but can’t for the life of him remember what. It only remains as a gnawing feeling in the back of his head while he simultaneously showers, pisses and brushes his teeth – just when he thinks it’s about to surface, it slips out of his reach again.
By the time he reaches the metro station, it is entirely forgotten. He makes for the usual vending-machine breakfast, (thank god the train is always late,) bouncing from one foot to the other while urging the ice coffee to drop, (come on, come on,) and then bolts to the platform, (why is the fucking train always late,) bouncing from one foot to the other as it snails its way out of the tunnel, (come on, come ON), smacks his card against the monitor, a little too hard, (how much time can it fucking take to—,) bouncing from one foot to the other as he spots a lonely, empty spot ahead as well as some suit marching towards it, (come. the. fuck. on already,) and the very millisecond it beeps does he lunge forward, elbow his way past a clique of giggling high-schoolers, jump over some dinosaur’s cane and land on the flat cushion right in front of the suit’s shiny tie clip. Avoiding eye contact is the key to evade both repercussions and bad conscience and Kyungsoo’s gaze is blankly scrutinizing a flattened piece of gum on the floor before the earphones are even off his neck. Suit grumblingly grabs on to one of the ceiling handles and Kyungsoo mentally brofists himself.
It’s not until he’s charging across the company parking lot and absentmindedly notes that it is unusually empty, that his vigor slowly falters and he trails to a tentative halt halfway up to the office entrance, not even fully sure why he’s stopping. There is that gnawing sensation in the back of his head again, stirring and poking, but he can’t figure out what it’s trying to tell him.
Then it dawns on him. Oh, right. Vacation.
Which wouldn’t have been quite so exasperating if this hadn’t been the third occasion already. It is with burning cheeks and sudden, overwhelming exhaustion that he has to turn on his heel, ride all the way back home and unenthusiastically unwrap his cream cheese bagel by his kitchen table.
He’s not used to being unoccupied, doesn’t like having nothing to do. The TV blinks awake at channel seventyfive out of onehundredandtwentyeight; there’s some war somewhere and someone was murdered last night, and Kyungsoo fleetingly considers fetching his earphones but they’re all the way by his bag out in the hallway, so, well shit. He stifles a yawn and dutifully chews on the spongy bread, leaning his elbow on the windowsill. Hundreds of people are moving beneath him, tiny like ants from the sixteenth floor, forming a flowing, ever-changing carpet of lives. They’re all heading somewhere, having something to do and hurrying to get it done as soon as possible so they can do something else. Lucky bastards.
A rustle out in the hallway has him startling and jumping up from his seat. He pushes away the little voice in his head telling him just how pathetic it is getting excited over the fucking mail, makes a mental memo to kill himself before reaching retirement age and grabs the earphones while he’s at it. Pretentious indiepop effectively drowns out the announcer’s monologue about increasing street violence and Kyungsoo even starts humming to himself as he stands by the garbage can and sifts through bills and flyers, chucking the former onto the kitchen table and the latter directly into the bin, but falls quiet when coming to a letter that doesn’t quite seem to fit in either of the categories.
The envelope is the narrow kind that usually fits a paper folded twice instead of once, and the address is written by hand; small, sharp letters in dark blue ink, all uppercase. The backside is all white; no sender. He swiftly tears it open with his finger, pulling out... A train ticket. Dated to depart at nine AM two days from now, and to arrive the same evening in –
“Haveilla. Where the fuck is that?”
Did you mean; Havana?
Kyungsoo gapes – this is surely the first sign of the apocalypse. Google doesn’t fail. It just doesn’t. Kyungsoo almost feels offended. Just how small is a place that not even his omniscient house god has heard of? And how does it have a fracking train station? After an hour with phone queues and voice mails and trawling through horribly disorganized websites he still doesn’t know what to do with a misaddressed letter, nor with an abandoned train ticket. How many Do Kyungsoos is there even in the city? It’s not like he’s gonna call each of them up and ask what plans they have for their vacation. He slumps back on his chair and puts the headphones back on, fiddling with the ticket in his hand. …show the world that something good can work and it can work for you…
Well, why the fuck not.
It’s just past eight PM when Kyungsoo stumbles out on the empty platform, a little bleary and squinty-eyed. It’s been a long day, with endless forests and fields and lakes flashing by his window in a steady rhythm; trees, cows, water, trees cows water. Truth to be told he didn’t last very long before opting for a good old sitcom rerun, but the sun has travelled steadily from his right side to his left during the course of the journey, and Kyungsoo knows enough to say that means they’ve been going north.
The station is perched on a hillside, a little hitch in the track curling its way along a ridge of rock to sneak into an elevated valley. The sun hangs low over the ragged silhouette of pine behind him and sends golden streaks of glitter across the narrow rhombus of water stubbornly wedging itself in between looming lumps of mountain while the village rests like a cluster of lint in their embrace, carefree and lethargic. Blunt peaks intersect each other with hints of glitter in between until, far out, Kyungsoo can see the ocean; flat and endless and almost transparent, melting together with the sky. Something peeks up in a dip between two mountains, something erect and lanky with a distinct pattern of black and white stripes curving their way around the length. Kyungsoo blinks, and it blinks back at him. A lighthouse.
Kyungsoo’s never been much for sceneries, but this wasn’t a bad idea. Do Kyungsoo has good taste, and his namesake whistles a little ode to the glory of finders keepers as he flicks out the telescope handle of his suitcase and starts rolling it down the narrow road serpentining its way down the hill. A (relatively, as in, at least three stories) tall building down by the shore is flaunting a big sign with the letters H O T E L in neon pink on blood red and that (although not very aesthetically appealing) sounds just like what Kyungsoo needs.
Haveilla close-up is just as disgustingly jovial and picturesque as Kyungsoo could have imagined. Chewy old geezers smoking pipe and crooked grannies with head squares, obnoxiously healthy-looking youngsters in wellingtons and bronzed children running around with colorful marbles – Kyungsoo doesn’t know whether to call a museum or just hurl. He’s just crossing a little square when laying eyes on a particularly strapping young fellow, politely conversing with an apron-clad elder woman. Lean and well-built and with a wide smile that has teeth shining white against plump lips above a subtly split chin, jeez, shouldn’t he be advertising some kind of bran cereal? Kyungsoo snorts to himself, but it swiftly gets stuck in his throat when he looks back up to see the woman gone and the guy in question staring straight at him.
Kyungsoo swallows, struggling to keep up his pace as he tries to figure out if this is a friendly, curious kind of stare that northern hillbillies would shoot any newly arrived outsider, but there is something much to… challenging in the guy’s slightly narrowed eyes, almost a bit derisive, and it makes Kyungsoo a bit uncomfortable. He hurries along, whipping his gaze away when his neck reaches an uncomfortable twist but still feels the guy’s gaze burning in the back of his head. Right before reaching the corner does he halt, shooting a glance back, and sure enough; he’s still staring. As Kyungsoo lingers he begins to turn away, but not before his face splits in something Kyungsoo isn’t sure is a smile or a smirk. He grins, sort of lopsided, and cocks his eyebrows once at Kyungsoo before turning on his heel and ambling up the street.
Kyungsoo’s not sure why he stays to watch him leave, nor why his face is feeling so terribly hot.
The receptionist is a perky girl in high-waisted shorts and a crop-top á circa 1981. Kyungsoo’s not sure if she fashionably adventurous or just horribly, horribly late. Her nametag says Krystal, and she seems a little too surprised to actually have a guest.
“Are you here for the celebrations?” She asks while Kyungsoo fills out a little form.
“I suppose not, then.” Krystal grimaces. “The midsummer celebrations. I have a few couples coming in by next week, but we’re not used to young, fresh faces around here.”
Kyungsoo bites back a no kidding?, scribbles his signature at the bottom of the paper and scoots it across the counter, but Krystal makes no attempt to move. She’s leaning her elbows on the wood and eyeing Kyungsoo almost expectantly.
“I-euh…” Kyungsoo trails. “I’m just on vacation.” Krystal smiles. He clears his throat. “So. Those celebrations?”
“Oh, it’s nothing special really, just the usual; stinky fish and smoky bonfires and various kinds of public humiliation, all accompanied by the local squeaky fiddle which sounds surprisingly much like slowly strangling a kitty, if you don’t know to play it well. Sadly, we don’t.” She grins impishly, eyeing Kyungsoo through crescented eyes. He gets a strange feeling of being sized up. “Don’t tell anyone I told you though, I’m sort of supposed to sell it.”
Kyungsoo hurries to shake his head. Ten minutes and about as many promises of participation later, he can finally slump down on the generously sized bed in his newly assigned room. He’s got a pretty nice view of the bay, he notes absentmindedly before digging his laptop from the bottom of his bag and settling on his stomach on the bed. Except… no internet reception. Not the slightest contact, not even one shitty little bar. He’s outside the range of civilization. Kyungsoo types out a neat keysmash with his forehead before rolling over to his back. Damned mountains. But you’re out in the wilderness now, Do Kyungsoo. You don’t become an All-bran model from sitting hauled up in front of the computer. Kyungsoo snorts out a hearty laughter and goes to bed early.
...warmth... toned arms smelling of sun and sand and salt... short black hair in the breeze... eyes, dark and deep and warm... eyes, crinkling unevenly with a smile, the right one smaller than the left... white teeth against lips... full lips stretching in a smile... a spark, that surge running through your body, warm and tingling... lips... warmth...
The knock on the door just barely wakes him. He lingers cuddled up while his brain struggles to sort out where he is and how the world works, but haven’t yet quite figured out what that screeching outside is all about when the lock rustles and the door gently cracks open.
Kyungsoo folds away a corner of the blanket to catch a glance of his intruder. Toned arms and broad shoulders, and… He releases a noise only dogs should be able to hear and scrambles up against the headboard, clutching the sheets to his chest. What the actual fuck is he doing here?! The guy sends Kyungsoo an amused glance but only nudges the door shut and takes a seat by Kyungsoo’s feet.
“Krystal told me to make you breakfast.” He says. No introduction.
“I…” Kyungsoo squeaks out, still a little sluggish with sleep. “I don’t remember ordering a wake-up call.”
The guy shrugs. “I was bored. Is oatmeal okay?” He leaves without waiting for an answer, giving Kyungsoo a smile-like little tug of the lips that has him pulling the sheet tighter around his neck. He waits for a good three minutes before daring to move, and; oh, right. Seagulls.
The guy stays leaned on his elbows over the kitchen counter, pressing his pointer against the seam of his lips and curiously studying Kyungsoo at the table in front of him. It would have been unsettling even if Kyungsoo hadn’t been trying to eat. He forces a few courteous spoonfuls into his mouth before setting the cutlery down and clearing his throat.
“So.” He says, but the guy cuts him off before he can continue.
“You’re Kyungsoo.” He says, that smile tugging at his lips again. “I’m Jongin.”
“Oh.” Kyungsoo says. “Uh. So you already ate?”
Jongin shrugnods. “Around six-ish. Not all of us sleep the whole day away, you know.” It’s a full grin now.
Kyungsoo blinks at him, deciding not to grace that with a reply but only return to his breakfast. If Jongin keeps staring at him, he stubbornly ignores it. When finished, Jongin promptly reaches over the counter and snatches his plate away.
“Go get ready while I clean up.” He orders while squirting detergent in the sink. “Then meet me outside.” Kyungsoo sends him a questioning glance, but it goes unnoticed – Jongin has already turned his back, and whistles as he reaches for the sponge. Kyungsoo shrugs to himself. Well, why the fuck not.
Walking the bare kilometer across the bay takes at least twentyfive minutes as Jongin stops to greet and talk to literally everybody and their mother. People keep sending Kyungsoo curious glances but he is never introduced, although he’s not sure whether he’s offended by that or not. He’s feeling enough like a monkey in a cage already.
Upon reaching the row of sheds by the harbor Kyungsoo finds himself with a stained old shirt in one hand and a brush in the other, and before he knows it he’s been put to repaint some old fishing shack. Jongin flies back and forth like a shuttle, touching up the white around the windows only to then disappear for a while, come back just to “check on him” and disappear once more, next proceeding to climb up on the roof to fix a broken shingle but immediately jumping down when an 80-something comes shuffling up for a casual fifteen minute chat. Kyungsoo purses his lips and diligently keeps on working in the slowly climbing sun, wiping a drop of sweat from the side of his neck. Just when he’s finished Jongin conveniently comes jogging up, putting a hand on Kyungsoo’s shoulder to give him a beaming smile. Kyungsoo finds a little tingle in his stomach but can’t really figure out where it came from.
“Great! Now you’ve only got the rest left.” He says, nodding down the row of huts. Kyungsoo gapes at him. “I’m just kidding…” Jongin hurries to add, looking very much like he’s trying to stifle a loud chortle. “I did most of them last week.”
“How many are ‘most of them’?” Kyungsoo glares at him. There’s at least fifteen, twenty sheds along the quay.
“We’ve got all day.” Jongin shrugs, face splitting in a grin again. “And now that I’ve got you, it should be a piece of cake.” Kyungsoo grumbles at him but grabs his brush anyway, stomping down to the next shack in the row.
Just when he’s almost done with the fourth wall does Jongin lean over him to let him know it’s time for lunch, smiling a bit too wide when Kyungsoo asks for a few minutes to finish up. He trails after Jongin up to a villa by the foot of the hill and is led into the backyard where a few tables are set with white tablecloths. There’s already a bunch of dungaree-clad men and women scattered along the benches and barely has Kyungsoo sat down before a smiling little woman sets a big plate of steaming food in front of him, no questions asked; thick pieces of fish in some sauce, boiled vegetables and tiny, perfectly round potatoes. Kyungsoo’s not sure he has ever had anything so delicious in his entire life. Jongin sits across from him and struggles not to grin around his food.
Although he’d rather chop his foot off than admit it, painting sheds is a rather rewarding activity. It’s concrete, you can see the result, and when one side is done, it’s done. The air is still and the sun merrily keeps frying the harbor, but getting sweaty, Kyungsoo realizes, feels strangely good. He has just finished his third shack when Jongin comes striding with a little yellow bottle in hand.
“You have to be careful not to get burnt. You’re so pale.”
Kyungsoo stands still and tries to suppress that odd little tingle in his belly as Jongin stands close in front of him and rubs sunscreen on his nose and cheekbones with small, circular movements. “Yeah…” he says, catching himself watching how Jongin’s tongue peeks out in concentration. “I’m in the computer industry, I don’t—“
“I don’t really care.” Jongin cuts him off, suddenly pursing his lips just slightly and firmly keeping his gaze at Kyungsoo’s nose.
“What?” Kyungsoo mumbles.
“I don’t care what kind of numbers you calculate in your concrete tower. What you do isn’t who you are.” Jongin backs away a bit and sends a gaze up and down Kyungsoo’s frame that Kyungsoo can’t say he’s too fond of. It makes him feel like he said something childish. “Not for you, anyway.” But then Jongin smiles, hands Kyungsoo the bottle and tells him to smear his arms properly.
“So what do you do?” Kyungsoo asks him later, seated on a patch of grass in the shade behind his fifth shed and greedily gulping water from a glass carafe.
“I’m fixing a window.” Jongin replies easily, but with a hint of edge in his grin. Kyungsoo rolls his eyes behind his back.
“You know what I mean.”
Jongin frowns and sighs towards the wall, but Kyungsoo only waits until he finally speaks up.
“It’s not relevant.” He says softly. Kyungsoo quirks a brow, but Jongin doesn’t even look at him. “I’m here now, and that’s sort of all that matters.”
Kyungsoo slips a snort. “It’s not like it was an overly personal question.” Jongin shoots him a glance and Kyungsoo feels all too relieved to see that that tug at his lips is back. He hammers in the last couple of nails and then scoots over to Kyungsoo’s side.
“Maybe it was.” He mumbles, but then clears his throat and adopts an entirely different tone. “Let’s put it like this.” He says jauntily, taking a grip of Kyungsoo’s wrist and bringing his hand up. “I work.” He traces the outline of Kyungsoo’s palm with a finger, and then brings up his own hand to let Kyungsoo do the same. Kyungsoo stares at him for a moment (is this guy for real?), but then humors him. And Kyungsoo can feel it; soft and pale against rough and tanned and a bit calloused.
“No need to get snarky.” He mutters, withdrawing his arm, and Jongin laughs and reaches for the carafe in Kyungsoo’s grasp. Much for sceneries or not, the view from the quay is beautiful. The sun still stands high behind them and sends flickers of reflection over the water while in the shadow between the mountains, it’s pitch black and still.
“Have you seen the ocean before?” Jongin asks.
“Once.” Kyungsoo says, taking the carafe back. “But my mom wanted to look at purses so we didn’t stay very long.”
Jongin snorts and leans back on his hands. “I’ll take you some time.”
“To the ocean. Where you can see the open sea.”
“What do you mean ‘open sea’? There’s always land somewhere.”
Jongin inconspicuously rolls his eyes. “To the edge, where the archipelago ends. This is no view.”
Kyungsoo glances at him, trying to figure out if this is a friendly, gracious kind of offer that northern hillbillies would present to any newly arrived outsider but Jongin’s keeping his gaze at the water and doesn’t even seem to notice. Kyungsoo rubs subtly at his palm where the trail drawn by the finger still prickles a bit; he’s not sure what’s going on here, not sure what this actually is and not sure why this guy works so ridiculously fast (if that’s even what he’s doing – Kyungsoo’s not planning to ask), but he can’t bring himself to mind. He likes it, likes it a bit too much. He attempts a vague, mildly disinterested shrug. “Okay.”
Two more sheds later, it’s already past nine when Kyungsoo stumbles home, just barely managing to force himself to shower before slumping into bed and falling asleep.
...water... an ocean grey and upset... jongin is soaked and gorgeous as he heaves himself up on a rock – a small, naked piece of island that only just happened to end up above the surface of the water instead of under it, but is constantly assaulted by relentless waves... he rises to full height, combing slick hair out of his face with a hand and he is entirely dark in the dusky weather, his skin steel grey and glistening with water, glistening like black nacre... his obsidian fiddle sounds like kittens singing, and kyungsoo draws closer and drinks it in, laps up every tone jongin offers him with his seaweed bow... he watches him silently, irises pitch black against the whites of his eyes while his hair still sheds droplets of water over his cheekbones... kyungsoo is near, almost near enough to touch... and jongin is a horse, dark and sleek and taller than kyungsoo himself – he barely fits on the tiny island, his hooves clapping mellowly against the rock, restless and demanding... kyungsoo slips up on his back, fitting easily behind the curve of his neck like he’s made to be there and when they sink into the water it's not even cold, it's enveloping like an embrace, pressing in on him from all sides and filling him, filling him to the brim...
Kyungsoo wakes up staring into the white ceiling. It stares back. Okay, that dream was a little weird.
He has just dug out some bread and eggs in the hotel kitchen when a new girl (the first Haveillan with bleached hair Kyungsoo has seen; a hay-like shade very much matching the texture of her tresses) barges in through the backdoor. She startles at the sight of him (and so does he, sandwich unattractively halting a rough inch from his opened mouth), but then her face splits in a beaming smile.
“Morning! You must be Kyungsoo.”
“Um. Yes.” Kyungsoo nods. “I helped myself…” he mumbles sheepishly, but the girl only dismisses him with a wave of the hand.
“Go ahead, take what you want.” She smiles, heaving up a couple of paper bags on the counter to unpack the groceries.
Kyungsoo fidgets in his seat and finally takes a small bite. “So, where is…” Who did he actually expect? Krystal? Jongin? “…Krystal?”
“At home, sawing wood and drooling on her pillow, I’d assume.” The girl grins. “I’m Luna, by the way. Krystal and I tend to the hotel in the summer. The old folks want some vacation, and the youngsters promptly have to slave.” She mock-purses her lips and sullenly shakes her head. “But then again, most of our customers have hearing aid and arthritis.” She sends Kyungsoo an amused little glance from the corner of her eye and again Kyungsoo gets that strange feeling that he’s being sized up. Luna looks like someone who’s buying a car, or possibly thinking of what to eat for dessert.
“Uh.” Kyungsoo clears his throat and shifts in his seat again. “I take it Haveilla is not a popular resort amongst the younger demographic?”
Luna laughs. “Not the urban younger demographic, no.” The grin sort of only tugs at half of her face and Kyungsoo feels his face heating up a bit. “And us country-bred prefer staying in our own villages. We all have a lot to offer, if you’re open to receive it.” She watches him with eyebrows a bit raised, almost like she’s expecting him to disagree. Kyungsoo clears his throat again and returns to his sandwich.
She folds up the bags, gives the counter a quick wipe and randomly slices Kyungsoo a couple of small apples “while she’s at it” (insisting he can always put them in a box and eat them later if he’s too full), but before leaving she halts in the doorway and turns back to him.
“Oh, yeah.” She says, an impish grin creeping up her face. “Jongin’s down by the harbor.”
The door slams shut after her, leaving Kyungsoo alone with his burning cheeks.
He hasn’t made it even halfway across the bay before spotting Jongin ahead, lugging a big tin barrel filled to the brim with something sleek and shiny-looking. His face splits in a beaming grin as he sights Kyungsoo (who’s finds a faint surge of warmth in his midriff but decides to pretend he didn’t) jogging up, letting the tub hit the ground with a mellow clatter.
“You’re up!” he exclaims, sort of sounding genuinely surprised and Kyungsoo resists the urge to roll his eyes. “Look.” Jongin continues immediately, gesturing down towards the barrel. “Herring. Caught this morning.”
“Did you go fishing?” Kyungsoo tries not to sound too impressed. He leans over the tub; thirty, forty fishes, each as long as his hand and glistening like silver in the sun. One of them is still twitching faintly.
Jongin laughs shortly. “No, not me. The fishermen.” He watches Kyungsoo’s scrutiny with the lopsided version of his grin, the one where you’re not sure if he’s appreciating or patronizing you, and then adds; “Are you gonna help me carry or not?”
Kyungsoo hurries to straighten his back. “I guess I am. If I get the other handle.” He says, rubbing at his right shoulder as he rounds the barrel and nudges Jongin out of the way. He feels warmth even through several layers of fabric when elbow meets arm and sort of wants to hit himself for even noticing. “I’m still sore since yesterday.”
“I know.” Jongin grins. “I could tell you needed it.”
“Oh, shush.” Kyungsoo rolls his eyes for real this time. He feels he maybe should find it weird to reach such a level of chumminess this quickly, but can’t bring himself to. There’s something about Jongin that makes him relax, that makes him feel comfortable, like he belongs.
“Today will be easier.” Jongin promises. “No strenuous activities, like having to lift your arm.”
“I said shush. Are you gonna help me carry or not?”
There is something much too enchanting about watching Jongin gut fish. He’s swift and skilled but more noticeably, so careful, like he wants to make up for killing the poor creature and sort of caresses it open, holding it steady in one hand and slicing the belly with the knife in the other. Kyungsoo distantly finds himself wanting to be touched the same way, but then the thought actually dawns on him and he shakes his head to get it out. He’s been put to chop onions for the souse, but constantly finds his gaze pulled away from his own hands to seek Jongin’s, causing him to repeatedly almost cut his finger off. Jongin sends him an amused glance from the corner of his eye every time he winces.
With a few handfuls of miniature potatoes boiling in their pot, Kyungsoo sits perched on the kitchen counter, watching Jongin fry two left-over herrings in a pan and trying not to gawk at how his nape arches down into his collar (the curve changes a little bit every time he moves). Jongin’s wearing a Henley shirt and jeans; cut off just below the knee and left to fray freely. They’re pale blue and well used, one thigh artlessly patched and the other waiting to be; slashed across the leg to let a hint of tanned skin peek through the remaining threads when he turns around. But, although looking just the same, these are not the kind of jeans you can buy in the fashionable stores with Italian names across Kyungsoo’s office. These are not sewn only to be ripped apart, bleached with chemicals and rubbed with sand. These are worn with age, they have the patina of years of dedicated usage and tough love. The difference, when Kyungsoo thinks about it, is both subtle and painfully obvious.
Jongin’s grin grows obnoxiously wide when he catches him staring, and Kyungsoo hurries to whip his gaze away.
“So what are the celebrations about?” Kyungsoo asks as they sit cross-legged on the patio in the hotel backyard. There’s two halves of a gigantic salmon (the last of four) in the smoking oven and Kyungsoo’s been assigned twig-holder, “a very important position”, Jongin claims. A merry wind has been blowing all day but the air is stagnant and hot in the backyard, and sitting right in front of the smoker doesn’t help.
“What do you mean about?” Jongin doesn’t even take his eyes off the thermometer.
“Like. What happens?”
Jongin waits a bit before replying, tongue peeking out to lick his lips. “Midsummer is an important event from many aspects. It’s the longest day of the year – a solstice and the height of the summer. With the high amounts of sunlight, it’s right in the most fertile season, and an important date to keep track of to know when to sow and when to harvest.” He pauses and lets his eyes sail away from the oven, shooting Kyungsoo the shortest glance before returning to the thermometer. “But it’s also the peak of supernatural activity in nature.”
Kyungsoo stares at him. “What?”
Jongin nods soberly, managing a good five seconds before snorting and dissolving into giggles. “Old superstition.” He says. “I guess, with all of the world buzzing, it’s only natural to assume that creatures and trolls and spirits are running wild as well.” He cracks up again when seeing Kyungsoo’s glare. “And it’s easier to feel comfortable with things berserking once a year, than all the time.”
His brows knit together for a moment, tongue peeking out once more. “It all comes down to humanity’s need to feel that they are in control. They divide the year and systemize the world. The solstice is a turning point; aside from marking one fourth of the annual cycle, it also marks the end and beginning of something. No doubt, humanity would lap that up and attribute it all sorts of magical features.” He shrugs vaguely. “So they construct some rituals and execute some sacrifices and then feel good they have at least done what they could to affect their own situation.” He stares at the oven for a little while, and then snorts to himself. Kyungsoo sort of waits for a continuation, but none comes.
“So.” he says finally. “Why do you celebrate it?”
“Power of tradition. Even if nobody really cares about them anymore.” Jongin shrugs again. “Some nice food and booze never hurts. That’s what it originally was about – since there’s so much to eat, summer’s a great time to get down.” He grins cheekily, eyes crinkling. (The right narrows more than the left, but Kyungsoo tries very hard not to notice things like that).
The temperature has dropped one and a half degree and Jongin opens a crack in the bottom hatch, leaning in to take a whiff of the smoke welling out. “We need more alder.” He determines, extending an opened hand. Kyungsoo glances down at the assembly of twigs in his lap.
“I have no idea which one is alder.”
Jongin rolls his eyes and grabs it himself.
...the knife is big and shiny and sends all sorts of tingles down kyungsoo's spine... jongin's skin glows warm and golden in the light of fire, and his eyes are black and deep and downcast... heavy, flickering shadows... kyungsoo's breath is already stuck in his throat, an inappropriate excitement brewing deep in his belly... the animal whines faintly as jongin's arms tighten around it... like an embrace... he shushes it, just softly... the animal whines again, breath quickened and audible... kyungsoo watches it intently...
it's over in a heartbeat; a flick of jongin's wrist and the animal gives a final squeak, stills and goes slack in his arms as darkness wells out over his hands and lap... something grows inside of kyungsoo, twitching and tingling... jongin draws closer, reaching out a coated hand and kyungsoo meets him... he traces the outline of kyungsoo's lips, smearing the hot and sticky and kyungsoo’s mouth opens, letting jongin graze the inside of his lower lip before capturing him to suck on his fingers… pressing them up against the roof of his mouth with his tongue, teeth grazing and chest heaving shamelessly; deep and heavy, up and down... and then jongin is covered, his whole face glistening with red so dark it's almost black, hair curving up over his forehead in thick, dripping strands... and kyungsoo is covered too, their bodies slick and slimy, skin sliding on skin, filthily easy... it seeps into him, swirls in his chest and in his loins... jongin's mouth is hot and ardent on his and blood mixes with saliva between them but kyungsoo harbors no disgust; there's only shameless excitement burning inside him and he presses closer, wants more more more...
Kyungsoo finds himself awake without knowing why. The alarm clock on the dresser reads 01.43 and Kyungsoo groans to himself, just about roll over and go back to sleep when there is another muffled fit of knocking on his door.
Jongin’s wearing his cut-off jeans and a windbreaker, looking much too perky for this time of the day.
“If we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna have to do it now.” He says, no greeting. A brief but vivid image of himself suckling on a dark-eyed Jongin’s pointer and middle finger crosses Kyungsoo’s mind and he swallows thickly, hoping to veil a bit of the blush by rubbing at his eye.
“Uh. Do what?”
“The ocean.” Jongin says. “There’s nasty weather heading this way, but tonight is still. Not sure I can promise any better conditions in the immediate future.”
The merry wind has worn itself out and there’s barely a ripple over the water until the dinghy cuts through and sends diagonal creases in its wake. The surface is pitch black between the mountains and dull like velvet, a smooth ballroom floor spreading out beneath them, mute and reserved. Kyungsoo can barely see a few feet down, and it’s impossible to tell how far the depths go – ten meters, or ten thousand? Are they, blissfully unaware, floating like a speck of dirt above a crack running through the entire crust of the planet? What could an abyss of such magnitude harbor? Kyungsoo briefly thinks of darkness, of tentacles and eyeballs the size of his head; monstrosities too old to even be forgotten. He shudders and hurries to think about something else.
Jongin sits in the stern with one hand resting on the tiller and his gaze fastened straight ahead, looking somewhere beyond Kyungsoo’s shoulder. Kyungsoo sits across from him, watching Haveilla slowly shrink until they round the first peninsula and Kyungsoo needs to find another safe spot to rest his gaze at to keep it from sailing over to Jongin’s face. It’s been hours since the sun dipped behind the pine-clad peaks at the bottom of the firth but the twilight still clings to the edge of the sky; a strip of peachy orange that fades out through pink and lavender into pale blue over Kyungsoo’s head. Behind him, it’s almost ultramarine.
Jongin chuckles at his acrobatics and Kyungsoo hurries to whip back around, suppressing the blush by mere willpower. A few tufts of cloud are illuminated from underneath, burning in a vivid coral red with top layers of dark grey and it’s all very pretty, but Kyungsoo’s not sure he likes it. It’s too bright – he can clearly discern Jongin’s features across the boat, something very much clashing with his associations of 2AM. It’s unsettling.
He turns to the hillsides instead, setting his gaze and letting them slide past it to the steady droning of the engine, and after a while Jongin sniffs, straightens his back and waves Kyungsoo over. Kyungsoo grabs on to the railing and bends his knees to creep low across the battens. He moves as slow as he possibly can but the boat still gives a sudden, obstinate wobble and Jongin’s hand shoots out to his elbow. He lands on the bench, a little too abruptly, and Jongin’s hand stays at his arm until the boat has steadied again. There’s only the tiller to separate them, and Jongin’s arm repeatedly nudges against Kyungsoo’s every time he gives the handle a gentle shift. Kyungsoo tries not to obsess over it.
They’re sneaking close behind an island and rounding the edge in a tight curve, and then Kyungsoo can see it – the thin little line separating two blocks in different shades of blue; one dusky ultramarine, the other almost steel grey. A faint wind blows towards them from out there, whipping fretting little wavelets over the water, but Kyungsoo’s brain cannot seem to fathom the depth of the scene; he can tell himself that this goes on for as far as he can see, until sky meets ocean somewhere far, far ahead, something about the earth curving, just very faintly over very big distances, but it still seems flat to him, two-dimensional like a picture. Like it’s too big for him to wrap his mind around. It doesn’t dawn.
The boat strives further around a steep, protruding edge and then Kyungsoo can see the lighthouse, which seems to have much more manageable proportions. It’s tall, impressively so, rising majestically over them from where it’s clutching to its little island ahead. A quick thought flashes through Kyungsoo’s brain, something about big hooves on a much too small piece of rock that never gets a chance to dry, but it’s gone before he can even remember where it’s from. Two wide stripes, one white and one black, curls around the building like a candy cane, narrowing towards the top where a black head crowns the tower. Kyungsoo blinks, and it blinks back at him; the light warm and friendly.
Jongin steers straight out, leaving the island’s shadow to cross a piece of open water, and suddenly something cramps in Kyungsoo’s stomach. He thinks of darkness again, great depths and ignorance and he doesn’t even notice one of his hands curling around Jongin’s wrist. Both their left and their right are empty; just wide, infinite horizon, but behind them is the archipelago and before them is the lighthouse, and that’s where Kyungsoo desperately sets his gaze – counting the blinks taking them closer and closer until it looms over them. Then Jongin shuts the engine off, and they float up alongside and just beyond the island with the slowly decreasing speed. All that’s left is the faint brushing of waves against rock as the lighthouse silently peers down at them, and Kyungsoo twists his neck around in order to keep their gazes locked.
He startles when Jongin releases the tiller to braid their fingers together. He whips his eyes down, swallowing thickly as they drift a little to the left in the waves, and forces himself to push the apprehension back down. Any second, Jongin can restart the engine and reclaim the control over their situation – Kyungsoo knows that. Carefully avoiding the horizon, he turns his head to take another look at the lighthouse just behind them. It balances perilously on the little island, barely big enough to house the foot of the building, and concrete fades into rock like they’ve grown together.
“How did they even build this?!” Kyungsoo hears himself saying, immediately feeling a strange relief of some kind flushing through his body and he even smiles a bit as Jongin laughs.
“Cooperation.” He says, squeezing Kyungsoo’s hand. “Time and cooperation. No man is an island.”
“But he is…” Kyungsoo mumbles absentmindedly, still not taking his eyes off the building. Jongin squeezes his hand once more before releasing it and grabbing the tiller again.
“Let’s go home.” Without even waiting for Kyungsoo to nod he pulls the engine to a start and brings them around, circling the lighthouse island and then setting off towards the archipelago again. Kyungsoo keeps his eyes on the building until his neck hurts, and then shifts over to the opposite bench to watch it shrink beside Jongin’s shoulder.
Halfway back, Jongin shuts the engine off again. They sail a little bit further and then start drifting faintly in the big channel between two islands. It’s still again, and the boat is a bit confused over where to go without directions or obtrusive waves, so it soon starts turning slowly around its own axis.
Kyungsoo meets Jongin’s gaze, and soon a smile creeps up the latter’s face. It widens slowly, but then he’s sitting there, grinning openly, and Kyungsoo finds his own face splitting as well. A bird squeaks, just loud enough to startle, ahead of them, and then again, but now halfway past. A comrade answers from afar, distant and muffled. The bird squeaks once more, already almost gone. It’s still not darker than when they left.