shinejinki-centric / jinki/everyone / ot5
pg, band!fic, fluff, friendship
word count: 3,090
beta: kaykm Thank you so much, my dear <3
a/n. This is probably not the fic that my flist is waiting for. Sorrrryyy, or actually not. This is the first fic in MONTHS that I was able to finish. Who am I to say no to inspiration when it comes crawling back to me?
There are times when the shining boys are not shining so brightly.
There are days when they are just five teenagers with their own joys and sorrows, when they would like to live and feel and just forget. Those are the days when they just want to be the one behind the voice, the name, the image, to throw all of the superficiality away, to take a break, to exist just like that and feel that existence with every fiber of their beings. Even though they can't and this results in those times that Jinki hates more than anything.
He hates it when one of the members feels down because Jinki can't help but feel useless, pointless, and depressed, just like them. He hates it because he ends up questioning himself; he hates it because he ends up hating himself. The voice that never seems to find the right words, the hand which never seems to make the right move, the heart which is just thumping in his chest forcefully and every beat is telling him, you're stupid, you're useless, you're nothing like a leader.
When Kibum has a bad day, everyone knows because the dorm falls unusually quiet. It's not a peaceful, relaxing kind of silence but one which makes Jinki want to drop things and stumble over the leg of his chair just to break it. Contrary to popular belief, Kibum doesn't go around bitching and PMS-ing when he's in a foul mood. He would just wander aimlessly around, like one who doesn't know what to do with himself, like he doesn't really know where to belong. He would occasionally murmur nonsensical things under his breath like, “I wonder if I should just practice alone” or “I look like a mummy in these clothes” and every word he says is dripping with insecurity and self-reproach. His hair is less perfect, his eyes are dull, and his lips don't curve upwards, instead they are strained and twisted into an unappreciative frown. He is just a vague reminder of the Almighty Key, he usually is so good at presenting.
Jinki has an interesting and ambiguous relationship with Kibum. The latter has always been someone Jinki could never figure out. He is not the one Kibum can fool around with because Jonghyun is so much better at that. He is not the one Kibum goes shopping with or talk about designer clothes and top brands because he has no sense of fashion whatsoever. He is not the one who can help Kibum cook or do the laundry because the last time he tried, the kitchen almost burnt down and every piece of Minho's clothes ended up orange.
But he is the one whom Kibum turns to when he fights with Jonghyun or when Minho stays out late and Kibum is worried or when Taemin has bags under his eyes because he can't sleep, making Kibum come up with a wide range of possible reasons and solutions. He is the one that Kibum goes to when he needs to be praised for the rap lyrics he had written, seeking appreciation and attention that all the others seem to be too busy to give him at the moment. He can see how much that means to Kibum, and Jinki likes how the frown on his face slowly begin to fade, how the lines around his eyes smooth out as he looks at Jinki in anticipation and pats him on the shoulder as a silent 'thank you'.
But when Kibum is depressed, Jinki always feels like he's been shoved into a cold and rigid room with a stranger and someone's thrown the key away. Kibum would only mumble moodily and ignore Jinki's presence who watches him with silent desperation because Kibum is not eating again, not talking again, and would not, for the world, smile.
“Kibum-ah, you need to eat something, you can't start a day with an empty stomach,” Jinki would say, leaving the rest – you didn't eat anything yesterday – unsaid, fiddling with his chopsticks and hesitating because he doesn't really want to eat when Kibum is not. And Kibum would pretend he doesn't hear him, just stands up and strolls away as if protesting, leaving his plate untouched and Jinki feeling miserable.
When Minho is in a bad mood, he's being the complete opposite of Kibum. He would slam doors and fists into walls. He would shove books against the plaster and yells when Kibum tells him he will leave a mark and asks what he's going to do about it. “Nothing,” Minho would shout and glare at Taemin who has done nothing wrong except for being in the way of Minho's anger.
When Minho gets more reasonable but not less angry, he would put his running shoes on and storm out the door, making it bang into the frame with a force that shatters the windows. Jinki would remain quiet, silently eating himself up about being even the slightest bit afraid of Minho at times like this. Jinki has never been a man of loud words and curses and feels intimidated every time someone around him has an outburst, the guilt inside his stomach bubbles up until his limbs are shaking and his breathing becomes ragged.
Then Minho would return several hours later and Jinki wonders who managed to calm the tall boy down. A part of him is happy that it happened; a part of him is sad because it was not him. It's never him. He wants to help but can't and Minho remains distant and unreachable and so very much like a grown-up. He doesn't need Jinki to lend him an ear or a shoulder, even if Jinki would rather put all his fears away and willingly become a punching bag Minho can vent his frustration on.
When Jonghyun is in a bad mood, he would close the door and curl under his blankets like a child scared of thunder and lightning. He refuses to come out unless it's an emergency and pretends to be asleep to avoid any questions being thrown at him. His tactic is denial; Jinki had taken note of it years ago. He would just shake his head when Jinki asks what's wrong and replies with 'Nothing.'
Jinki, but of course it's nothing new, is at a loss about what to do, trying to figure out if Jonghyun needs to be left alone or would prefer a silent company, food or ice cream or music humming into his ears or just a hand gently placed on his shoulder. Nothing really works and Jonghyun resumes to quietly and weakly repeating “I'm fine, hyung,” but his voice is too anxious and shaky for Jinki's liking.
He thinks about Jonghyun shouting – more like singing – in the company van with Kibum, recalls how much he likes to tease Minho and remembers all the times he chased Taemin around the dining table in circles and misses it. He misses all of that but mostly he misses Jonghyun's face when they are singing together, voices melting in perfect harmony and vibrating tones in the air; misses when happiness radiates from Jonghyun’s smile and his eyes are speaking volumes of what he feels inside.
Jinki doesn't really know what he should do to bring all that back but he thinks singing must be a good idea because music was always around them, always connected them with an invisible thread and so he would sit on the floor, back leaning against Jonghyun's bed, he himself still curled up under the covers, then starts to sing quietly, songs that once made Jonghyun smile, ones that made them so perfectly fall into harmony. Jonghyun doesn't say anything and doesn't move, doesn't sing with him but he doesn't tell him to stop and Jinki likes to think it's a good sign, even when everything falls in silence when the song ends, heavy and suffocating just like Jonghyun must be feeling with all those blankets wrapped around him.
When Taemin is in a bad mood, he turns into the rebellious teenager he's never had the chance to become. He tries to make up for the lost years in a span of a few hours and it is not easy to deal with. Perhaps this is what makes Jinki's heart ache the most, out of all his members, Taemin is the one whose bad moments affect him the greatest because he knows there is just no way he could make up for all the things that the maknae has missed. Taemin didn't know back then the price he would have to pay for all they have now – none of them truly did, but Taemin was just way too young, way too young to comprehend how serious the situation was.
At times like this, Taemin would call his brother or his parents and it doesn't make him feel any better, if any, it only makes him miss his family more and is painfully reminded that he has never spent all these years with them, all this time when he was forced so painfully fast to grow up, when he needed them the most.
After Jinki pushes his own depressing thoughts to the back of his head and takes note that he probably failed again as a leader, he tries the only tactic that he considers effective; he tries to be the person Taemin probably misses the most – an older brother. He tries to be the one who convinces the boy that it's not a big deal when his muscles give up on him while practicing his dance moves for hours, that it doesn't matter if his voice cracks because he has become so much better, it doesn't matter if fans don't like his outfit or when his cheeks are hurting from forcing a smile for too long. Jinki wants to tell him it's okay to be tired, it's okay to skip a meal when he doesn't feel like eating (don't mind Kibum's babbling, don't mind Minho's glares, don't mind them), it's okay not to speak when he doesn't want to and it's okay to shut himself alone in a room where no one disturbs, it's okay to scream, it's okay to cry.
But Jinki doesn't tell Taemin any of that. He’s afraid that he would be the one to break down and that would just be another failure. That is not what Taemin needs, he thinks.
Instead, he would slowly approach the maknae, sitting on the sofa, empty, red-rimmed eyes staring blankly at the television and takes a seat next to him, throwing an arm over the youngest's bony shoulders and offers him a can of his favorite milk.
Taemin would remain motionless, blinking out of sleep-deprived eyes and there is only a sniff which Jinki gets as a response. “Here, have one,” Jinki would say in a low voice as if he was afraid of speaking out loud and Taemin would avert his gaze from the blinking screen and look at the milk, trembling hands slowly taking a hold of the can, fingers tearing at the wrappings of the straw with poorly-disguised anger and frustration. Then he would just push the straw between his pursed lips and doesn't look at Jinki.
They would sit like that until Taemin finishes his drink, a few more sniffs and his hands furiously rubbing at his eyes is all that does the talking and then Taemin would stand up on tired legs, his moves disoriented like he wants to collapse and Jinki's arm falls helplessly on his side, waiting. “No need to pamper me, hyung. I'm not a baby,” Taemin would say, looking more like a child than ever, angry words coming out softly in a shaky and hoarse voice and then he would walk away, leaving a helpless Jinki on the sofa, staring after him.
And then Jinki would wonder if he did the right thing, if he failed again, if all of his efforts were to no avail, if everything would be okay the next day.
But then something whispers to him in an ambiguous voice that somehow, somehow he must be doing something right.
Because when Jinki is in a bad mood, he would shut himself in the bathroom and stand in front of the mirror, straining the muscles in his face until he can form a somewhat decent smile – a smile that says everything is fine. None of the members have ever bought it but he always tries nevertheless, because it's an urge so strong he can't go against, a voice at the back of his head constantly nagging him about being in character, never falling out of his role, and just knowing his place.
Then he would walk out with that bright and artificial smile on his face and sits at the dining table where they are all waiting for him. He ignores the way Minho is frowning at him, the way Taemin shifts uncomfortably, the glance Kibum and Jonghyun share over his head. He doesn't hide a grimace when his elbow makes painful contact with the edge of the table and he's too tired to make a joke about it, to make fun of himself again, to play the fool like he doesn't care.
At times like this, when Kibum arrives home from his shopping spree, he would lay a brand new shirt on Jinki's bed, babbling excitedly about designers and how perfectly that piece of clothing would fit Jinki, and makes sure Jinki would wear it next time he has the chance, when the stylist doesn't force him to wrap himself in ridiculous outfits, when he can allow himself to be reminded of Kibum as he stands in front of the mirror, just a young man who is not an idol, not a singer, and most importantly not a leader, just a human being, who likes to be himself from time to time.
Then Minho would make him sit on the sofa and push a game controller into his hand, and it's Jinki's favorite game they're playing, not Minho's and Minho would even let him win occasionally, blaming it all on the game itself and how boring it is, but Jinki knows it's nowhere near to be true and he feels warmth coursing through his lungs and making his eyes prickle because it's Minho we are talking about, Minho who hates losing, Minho who takes even breathing as a competition. When they get tired, the controller falls out of their hands and they just sit there, Minho quietly chuckling and Jinki, though he is too tired to smile or speak, tries to tell Minho his 'thank you' without words and prays that Minho would understand.
Jonghyun would drag him into his room when Minho is not there and ask his help to finish the lyrics he's working on. This is somehow heart-warming because Jonghyun is the type who doesn't let anyone see his lyrics until they are re-written a hundred times and achieved all kinds of perfection. He doesn't let anyone see them either, except for Jinki, pretending he got stuck in the second verse and looks at Jinki with rounded, pleading eyes. Jinki would think about rhymes and words and metaphors, absorbing in the mood he thinks Jonghyun was in when he wrote the rest and after carefully phrasing and reconsidering, he offers a line or two which Jonghyun doesn't change even a bit afterwards and when Jinki hears the complete song as Jonghyun is finally ready and gathers all the members in the living room, singing it in a soft and clear voice, both of them feel the lyrics are perfect, the others would clap and smile and Jonghyun's gaze meets Jinki's over Taemin's head and it's a secret of the two of them that no one will ever know.
Taemin would be the least careful out of all of them, all innocent smiles and big eyes and undisguised intention to make Jinki feel better. There is something adorably awkward in the way Taemin would place a cup of hot tea in front of Jinki, in the way he sits next to him a little bit closer than he usually does, in the way he talks about everything and nothing, voice gentle and hushed, careful but determined. Then Taemin would start to talk about singing, his and Jinki's as well, unspoken compliments shine through his words that make Jinki proud, even if he knows Taemin tells him that to cheer him up. It doesn't really matter though because Taemin doesn't lie, wouldn't lie about something like that, not when Jinki needs him to be the maknae Taemin sometimes doesn't like to be so Jinki can fall into his never-ending role as a leader without feeling the need to flee from it.
Then at the end of the day they all would sprawl on the sofa, Jinki's head resting on the headboard and Kibum's legs in his lap and Taemin's back against his knees as he sits on the floor, and Jonghyun would press his shoulder into his while cradling Kibum's head in his lap and Minho would land a hand on his shoulder while they're watching a movie.
The atmosphere is kind of silly and they are loud. The movie is awful and Minho would laugh into his shoulder when Kibum says the monster kinda looks like Jinki. Then when the credits start to roll, Kibum would scream that 'look at the time, it's late, everyone goes to bed, now' and nudges Taemin with his toes and the maknae would roll away on the carpet, feigning sleep, then Minho would slip onto the floor as well, 'accidentally' stepping on Taemin and falling over and Jonghyun would jump and drag Kibum with him. Then an arm reaches out from the pile of people on the floor – whose arm, Jinki has no idea – and the hand grabs Jinki's ankle, making him stumble and land on the others, all air knocked out of his lungs. Then there is laughter, breathless and mocking, skin on skin and groans and more laughter and Jinki really, really wants to complain because Kibum's knees are digging into his thighs and Minho's nails are scraping his arm and Jonghyun's breath tickles his neck and Taemin's elbow is poking his side – Jinki wants to complain and he would – if he weren't so ridiculously happy at the moment.
a/n. First fic in this fandom:) Comments and concrit are loved and appreciated!