Snippets of the moments when Minho is a war pilot and Taemin is awaiting his return.
a/n: written for the taeminho fic exchange. hope you like it nighttimefalls !
There is a quaint little park, past the high school and over the bridge of a small river, with clean cut green grass and a colorful playground, the kind of place where you’d find flocks of children playing as their parents watched from the freshly painted benches that were scattered all across the field. The park was almost surreal; the kind that you would find in romantic movies or even books, but then your eyes would fall onto the exotic area of wildly grown bushes in the far corner and the thick array of trees with crooked branches of all different shapes and sizes, ruining the perfect image that the park held.
No one dared venture to that part of the park, no one except two curious high school boys.
So they went through the small passageway that has been hidden over the years by prickly twigs and leaves of the undergrowth, leading to a clearing where a few rays of sunshine sneaked their way through thick canopies of the trees, shining on the dried out soil and a rusty old bench with its paint chipped off.
It was far from ideal but it gave them a place where they could be at peace with themselves and served as a refuge when the judging looks from others became too much. It was a place where everything was completely natural; there was no hesitance or stiffness in their actions like they were in public. There seemed to be mutual understanding between them and the clearing, as if this area existed just for them. The way the bushes hid them from the rest of society, the way the trees seemed to greet them with the crackling of their leaves, and the way the breeze embraced the two of them with open arms, welcoming them into their home, and somehow, they felt accepted here, more than anywhere else.
There, Minho told Taemin that he was going to learn how to fly.
Taemin laughed unknowingly, tracing the lines on Minho’s palm as they sat, thinking about absurd it was. But when Minho closed his hand around Taemin’s small, nimble fingers and brought it to his lips; the laughter died. “You’ll see,” He said softly, lips grazing Taemin’s knuckles as he spoke, engraving a promise into his skin with his words. “I’ll learn how to fly and take you anywhere you want to go, better than this place.”
It was a simple kiss that sealed the deal, with the breeze rustling the leaves, intertwining them together.
This was their place and no one could ever take it away from them.
Once Minho graduates from high school, his graduation party is held at his house, full of close family members and friends that all cheer and raise their glass when Minho walks through the door, holding his diploma up in the air like it was the World Cup trophy. Through all of the excitement and praise, Taemin stays close to the wall, watching quietly from afar as Minho high fives almost anybody he sees with a huge, triumphant grin on his face and Taemin really wants to run up into his arms and just hug him tight but he stays rooted to the floor, smiling to himself when Minho struggles to get out of a bone-crushing hug from his hyungs.
But then Minho looks at him, directly at him with eyes full of mirth and life, his hair disheveled from the previous tussle, wearing a grin that lights up Taemin’s heart.
Taemin thinks he looks absolutely stupid but he finds himself chuckling despite himself, his eyes crinkled as they both laugh at something only they can understand. Kibum comes over to Taemin then, with his strange (but scarily accurate) intuition, grabbing his wrist and dragging him over to the crowd, where he shouts out, “Group hug!”
Taemin feels a rough push on the small of his back, sending him directly into Minho’s arms; right where he was suppose to be. Minho’s arms wraps around his waist and pulls him close, eyes locking and lips curved into a soft smile as they embrace each other, zoning everyone else out.
Although there are four other pairs of arms that are surrounding them, Taemin considers this to be one of the happiest moments of his life, even if his own graduation is still one year away.
Later on that night, once everyone is drunk out of their mind or passed out somewhere on the floor, Minho pulls Taemin into an empty room, giving Taemin a kiss that leaves him breathless by the end of it. Taemin can taste the subtle taste of alcohol on Minho’s lips, but he doesn’t complain because Minho’s is twice as eager when he’s drunk, pressing Taemin up against the wall as their bodies mold together to delicious friction that makes Taemin’s head spin.
“Mmph,” Taemin pants, pulling his head back from the passionate lip lock. “Someone might come in.”
“Don’t care,” Minho murmurs against the skin of his neck, pressing sloppy open mouthed kisses on the column. “Gotta spend as much time with you as possible,” Their lips crash together again and the wet slide of their tongues make Taemin moan softly. His arms come to wrap around Minho’s broad shoulders before his lungs were starting to scream for air, releasing their lips with a gasp of air.
“You can see visit me afterschool.” Taemin offers, wondering why Minho seemed so desperate and clingy when they both know that Minho is going to stay in the area. Sure, they’ll see each other less but that doesn’t mean—
“I’m going to the army.” Minho says a lot more sober than he was when they first came in.
Taemin goes stiff, a cold feeling washing over him as he slowly pushes Minho away, staring up at him with wide, shocked eyes. Going to the army? So suddenly? Taemin searches Minho’s face for any indication that this was some really sick joke influenced by alcohol but Minho’s eyes are clear and his facial expression is serious. Taemin feels his stomach drop.
“You…what?” That’s all Taemin is capable of saying at this point.
Minho purses his lips, a guilty almost sad look on his face. “They’ll teach me how to be a pilot and I know two years is a long time, but I think it’ll be worth it. Don’t you think so?”
Taemin chokes on his words a little. “Two years?” Two years was a very long time, he thought bitterly to himself.
“Hey,” Minho says with that sweet, deep voice of his that always makes Taemin weak at his knees. Minho cupped his face tenderly, looking down at him as if he knew all of the things Taemin wanted to say and all of the things that Taemin wanted to do, and he smiled like it was all going to be okay, like he was certain it would. “It’s alright, we’re going to be just fine.”
Don’t leave me. Taemin wanted to say back but he looked at the look of determination and the love on Minho’s face and whatever protest died. Taemin knew there was nothing anyone could do once Minho decided on something. He was a strong-minded person who strived to get to the finish line, always aiming for first. It was the same kind of determination that kept Taemin rooted to the ground, next to Minho’s side, no matter what may happen.
He let himself fall into Minho’s sweet nothings as he whispered reassuring words into his ears I won’t ever leave you, I’ll write every single day.
If there was one thing Taemin hated about Minho it was this. The way that he could see through him like he was an open book, the way Minho could kiss all of his problems away, the way he made Taemin put all of his trust, all of his heart into him. Taemin knew that one day he was going to want all of it back, but Minho kept it locked up inside of him and there was nothing Taemin could do about it.
He was helpless against Minho and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Taemin doesn’t know how they did it.
Perhaps it was the countless letters and late night phone calls, or maybe it was the fact that Taemin was so busy with school and Minho was so focused on his training that it distracted them from the void that grew bigger and bigger each day, with each passing second—a void that can only be filled by each other.
It’s been a little over a year and Taemin still can’t wrap his mind around the fact that he’s out of high school but once he opens Minho’s letter and reads endless lines of compliments and congratulations, it starts to really set in. He looks at the scribbled signature at the bottom (Love you, Choi Minho) and starts to tear, wishing that Minho was here with him right now and there’s that indistinct feeling of emptiness that starts inside of him, but nothing, nothing can compare to the feeling he gets when his mom calls him later.
“Taemin-ah…” Her voice is unsure and weak. She trails off, a long silent pause over the phone that makes Taemin expect the worse. “Minho is…”
Taemin feels a lump in his throat.
“They declared war, Taemin-ah. They're sending out the troops.”
The lump falls to the pit of his stomach and drags him down, the phone dropping to the floor as it slips out of his hand.
“Taemin-ah? Taemin-ah, are you there?” The faint, crackled voice of his mother over the phone.
But all Taemin can hear is dead silence.
Taemin finds himself at the same place every single day, whether it be early in the morning or late in the evening, it beckons him with whispers of the wind that brings promises of the sound of their laughter. He breathes in the scent of fresh soil with a sigh past his lips, walking deeper into the clearing and it looks the same every time he ventures inside. Time seemed to stop in this area, unaffected by the changing weather because of the thick canopies that blocked out any debris of rain or snow and right now, that’s exactly what he needed. A place where time didn’t exist and reality couldn’t touch him.
With each step, the crunch of the soil serve as a second pair of footsteps that are matched with his and the wind blows gently on the backside of his nape along with the sunlight, acting as the warmth of a breath. The orchestra of leaves that flutter along with the wind, making a soft cluttering sound that reminds him off all of the conversations that they had together, the secrets they shared and the vows that they made. If Taemin closes his eyes, he can see his memories play back and he starts to lose himself in this temporary escape.
“I-I’m sorry Minho but I don’t want to do this anymore.” Tears are falling from his eyes, eyes glistening with unshed tears that threaten to spill over. He can’t handle it, the stares he gets from his peers, the unapproving looks from his father and Taesun wouldn’t even look at him anymore—
“No.” Minho says, with so much force that it throws Taemin off-guard. “You can’t just leave like this, it’s not right.”
Taemin sniffles and wipes at his tears angrily, ashamed that he was being so vulnerable in front of him. “I just can’t do it anymore, I—“
“No!” Minho yells this time and leaves fly past them as wind blows harshly, making Taemin’s hair stick to his face from the tears.
Strong hands grab his face, sweeping away the fringe and Taemin freezes at the smoldering look that Minho is giving him, staring straight at him with eyes so strong and defiant that he makes him gulp. Minho swipes away the tears from Taemin’s face with his thumbs and his voice cracks when he starts to speak.
“You don’t get it, Taemin-ah. I need you. I was nothing until I found you—nothing. There isn’t anything that I wouldn’t do for you and I don’t care what anybody else says; I feel the happiest when I’m with you, the kind of happy that I didn’t know existed and now you’re going to tell me that you want to leave?”
Taemin’s stopped crying by now but the tears are still in his eyes.
“Do you love me?” Minho asks and Taemin’s throat feels closed off. He nods feebly as a yes, yes I love you so fucking much that it hurts— “Then it shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter what other people do or say to us because we have each other. As long as we’re happy together…that’s what matters, Taemin-ah.”
Just like that, all of the pain and frustration seeps out of Taemin’s system along with his tears as they kiss each other and it’s disgusting to say the least, with Taemin’s nose running and tears that was still wet on his cheeks but it’s okay because this kiss mattered and that made all the difference.
Taemin opens his eyes, cheeks wet and eyes red. It’s dark out, with the only light coming from the moon. He sits there and lets the tears drip onto his lap once reality starts to sink into his mind, clogging it with heart wrenching thoughts (Where is he right now? Is he safe?) and Taemin wants to go back into his daydream again, he wants to go back into that escape again, where time stops and Minho is here with him and make this long wait end—
But eventually, Taemin gets up and walks out onto the park, where he’ll head back to the empty apartment and re-read all of the letters from Minho and listen to the tens of messages that are left in his machine.
“…and remember to take good care of your health and come by whenever you feel like it okay? We’re all here for you, Taemin-ah. We’re all worried.” Its Kibum’s voice.
No more new messages.
Taemin heads back to bed, clutching a piece of paper in his hands with i love yous written over and over and over again until it filled the front and back. (Love you, Choi Minho)
Taemin feels like there’s no room to breathe.
He’s taking in deep, shallow breaths of air through his nose as his heartbeat starts racing, breaking out into a cold sweat and shaking uncontrollably. The room buzzed with the same nervous anticipation he felt and the girl standing next to him meet his eyes; they both share the same shaky smile. They’re both waiting for that one person to come through that door, Taemin thinks as he glances at the clock once more but that door remains closed with the flight attendant looking uninterestedly around the room; Taemin feels like screaming at her to phone somebody because the plane should’ve been here by now damnit and she’s just standing there idly while everyone else here is practically breaking down from the revelation that they’re finally coming home.
Then she starts to take that first step towards the door. The whole room goes silent and everyone seems to be thinking the same thing, feeling the same way when she wrenches that door open.
The whole room suddenly breaks into an ear splitting applause as everyone claps and cheers mixed in with relieved sobs. One by one they start filing in with their uniform, fresh and crisp and the girl next to him squeals in delight as she runs into the arms of one of the soldiers. Taemin is shaking even more so now, searching for that one face to pass through those doors and he unconsciously starts to count how many people it takes.
…thirteen, fourteen, fifteen… He starts to think of worst case scenarios and he almost does tackle the flight attendant screaming why isn’t he here yet? but—
There he is.
The first thing Taemin’s think is how much he’s changed, his fair light caramel skin now a dark, smooth complexion; his sweet, baby face turned into a rugged handsomeness, his bright eyes were unusually dull and Taemin stands there, nailed to his place because after all of these years, it’s finally him.
Minho notices him first, giving him a smile and oh my god—there he is.
Taemin can’t stop himself from running up to him, throwing himself at Minho as they catch each other and spin around from the force of their hug until they lose balance, falling to the ground, in a fit of laughter and happiness. That smile brought it all back, that smile still held the same care, love, tenderness; no matter how much he changed—it was still Minho.
“You got a lot taller.” Minho comments, his only excuse for losing his balance so easily like that.
Taemin sniffs, feeling the tears well up in his eyes. “Yeah, well, a lot has changed.”
Minho shakes his head, eyes watery. “But you’re still a crybaby.”
Taemin lets out a breath of laughter. “And whose fault is that?”
He laughs, full and rich and it sounds like music to Taemin’s ears after hearing broken records for two years straight.
The airport is crowded and full of with families and friends; Minho’s family is watching from the distance (which Taemin thanks for later) and they kiss each other, feeling like it was their first time kissing, unfamiliar and unpracticed but the passion was there, it never left them. When they part, people are giving them appalled expressions and whispered secretly to each other because really, it’s not every day you see two boys sitting on an airport floor kissing like there’s no tomorrow (because there isn’t).
“We should get off the floor before people think we’re crazy.”
There’s that laughter again. “Too late.”
That night, Minho makes love to him hard and slow into their mattress, with the lights turned off and under their bed covers and Taemin cries out with every thrust, the built up tension starting to spill over him in waves of pleasure. He feels like he’s in high school again, with awkward first everythings—the rough, calloused hands and the skin marred with scars—but it’s still breath-takingly beautiful in its own way, so he can’t complain.
It all starts to blur together, the smell of sex in the air; their bodies sliding together; their sounds of pleasure filling the room and Taemin loses himself in the ecstasy before Minho brings him back down again, tired limbs tangled with each other with contented smiles on their faces.
Minho murmurs something against Taemin’s head but Taemin’s already fast asleep.
Taemin wakes up in the morning to find an empty bed and a cold mug of coffee on the kitchen table.
It’s early in the morning and the sun barely peaks out from over the mountains; each gulp of cold morning air making his lungs burn and his head is reeling, but he doesn’t stop running, because he really needs that place right now, to remind him, to make him forget. His bare feet run across the dew-wet grass of the park, still in his PJs and he slows to a stop once he reaches the grove, staring in confusion at the bulldozer that’s parked near the trees.
A construction worker eyes him suspiciously—a young man underdressed and disheveled with wide, glossy eyes—and walks over to him cautiously.
“W-What’s going on?” Taemin pants, his voice sounding weak and shaking.
“Well,” The man’s voice is rough like sandpaper. “We got an order to take ‘em trees down, but when we got here this morning, we went in there and, “The man tries to find the words to explain it. “It seems like someone was planning to propose or something, there are pictures of these boys all over the place—“
Taemin doesn’t stay to hear the rest of his sentence, pushing past him and through the yellow tape that blocks the hidden entrance, ignoring the ‘hey!’ that the man throws at him.
Pictures of them are everywhere, dangling from the ends of the strings that extend from tree to tree, hanging from the low tree branches to the ones that are high up in the canopy and the wind blows them until they spin and Taemin sees neat handwriting behind each one of them. He grabs the closet one to him that’s right in front of the entrance—they’re smiling at each other, a zoomed in picture where everyone else is blurred out and they are the focus, with their arms around each other, eyes full of love, so innocent—and turns it over:
You were the best thing that’s ever been mine.
He thinks of the ripped up letter (We regret to inform you that Choi Minho was killed in battle—) that’s sitting on his kitchen table and Taemin falls to his knees, clutching the picture in his hands as the tears run from his face, shoulders shaking from his sobs. MinhoMinhoMinho—is all he can think about, the times they spent together, the way Minho would hold him, would kiss him, would make love to him, his smile, his laugh, just everything about him, he missed it so much and he wished that he could experience all over again, feel Minho’s love one last time…this was it.
He watches with teary-eyes as the bulldozer roars and shred through the first layer of trees and each sound of the earth ripping takes a stab to his heart because this was their place, their paradise, their escape and…it was all he had left. He can see all of the pictures of them inside get torn down and buried underneath the debris, like he was watching the funeral of their love and he cries like it too, sniffling and shaking.
He stays there until every last twig is cleared, clutching the picture of them in his hands.
“I told you I would take you flying.”
Minho reaches out his hand; two familiar smiles greet each other.
“Yeah, you did.” Taemin grabs his hand.
They fly until they reach a place where the trees seemed to greet them with the crackling of their leaves, the breeze embraced the two of them with open arms and a place to call home.