|It’s a Thursday morning when Taemin finds the first clear blue note. He’s stuffing his schoolbooks into a small backpack, since today is one of the few days that he actually can go to school as normal, and as he reaches for the last notebook – Geography – he notices something blue attached to it. He tears it away and looks at it. |
It’s Jonghyun’s handwriting. He throws a glance backwards but no one’s there. He gently folds the paper twice and places it in his pocket. As he’s shouting his good-byes and pulling on the green, knitted hat, he hides a note of his own into Jonghyun’s favorite cap, the scrawling saying, hyung?
Taemin finds the second note later that evening. They’ve just finished the light dinner, convincing their manager to do the dishes, so he knows how to do them when his wife asks him to do so, next time. Taemin’s sprawled out on the couch, muscles stinging a bit, and pretending to read a book on the third world war that hasn’t yet happened but apparently will happen, according to the author of the book. Jinki’s sitting on the floor on the other side of the room, doing something with an old stuffed bear. Minho goes down on his knees next to Jinki, mumbling and moving Jinki’s arms a bit, and suddenly Jinki’s holding the bear the way you’re supposed to hold a baby.
Taemin snorts a bit too loud and Minho snaps his head around to look at him. Taemin fakes interest in the book, lowering his eyes and biting his lip to not laugh out loud. A piece of blue paper falls out from the book when he flips the page.
I need your help.
Taemin’s positive it’s from Jonghyun again. He frowns.
“Why so serious?” It’s Kibum’s voice in his ear and Taemin jumps, heart immediately racing from shock.
“Don’t do that,” he hisses and feels the urge to press a hand over his heart but he doesn’t.
“You were looking like a wrinkled old man,” Kibum states and Taemin frowns again, hiding the blue paper in the book which he closes hastily. “Now you’re doing it again.”
“Am not,” Taemin argues.
“Are too. Don’t do it, your generation is supposed to be smiling and happy all the time. Rainbows, pink bunnies, flowers and all that shit, you know?”
“Like you would belong to a different generation,” Taemin scoffs and puts a hand on Kibum’s chest and shoos away him, but he just comes back, climbing up on the couch and wrapping himself around the younger boy. He doesn’t let go even as Taemin tries to bite his arm. Then suddenly two pair of hands are tickling Taemin’s sides and he squirms in Kibum’s tight hold. When his eyes meet Minho’s, twinkling with amusement, he finally gives up and laughs his heart out, not noticing when Jonghyun joins them on the couch until a pair of sweaty hands are grabbing his, preventing them from attacking back.
His book has since long fallen onto the floor, a corner of the blue note sticking out ever so slightly, but Taemin can’t bring himself to care. When their manager storms into the room, wondering what’s going on - is the third world war beginning or something? - , Taemin tumbles off the couch. He lies on his back for a second, staring up at five pairs of eyes peering down at him surprised, before he bursts out laughing again, desperately clutching Jinki’s sweat pants and tugging Jonghyun down onto the floor with him.
It’s morning when Taemin has the chance to leave his own note to Jonghyun. With what?, it says, ever so simply. This time, he sticks it to the wall behind Jonghyun’s big towel.
The third note is of a different color, fading red instead of the clear, azure blue, but it makes it easier to spot from where it is taped up at the roof above Taemin’s bed. It’s nearly ten in the evening and Taemin’s crawling into bed slowly, while covering a yawn with his hand. He’s on his back when he spots it, the red against the white noticeable even in the dark room. He sits up and squints at it. He’s careful when he stands up on the bed, glad he’s alone in the room. Taemin stretches out a hand and tears down the note, leaving two corners of it left at the roof.
I think I’m stuck.
He looks at the black words and wonders if he should be feeling worried.
Taemin sticks a yellow post-it to Jonghyun’s forehead in the afternoon when he’s snoring loudly in the car, ignoring the raised eyebrows from the other three. When the car comes to a stop, Taemin’s the first one out, leaving a sleepy and confused Jonghyun with a post-it on his forehead - in what?, it says - fumbling for something to hold onto, but promptly falling out through the open car-door.
It’s a bit past six in the evening when Taemin finds the last, blue note attached to the table, underneath a half-full glass of water. He throws a quick gaze over his shoulder before he moves the glass away and picks up the note.
I think I’m stuck in love. With you.
Taemin stares blankly at the note and at the slightly messily written words. If his life were a drama, an episode would have ended right there, dramatic music probably playing and a ‘with that, Taemin’s life changed’ in big, bolded letters would have popped up, as soon as the screen turned black. But as it is now, none of that happens, life carrying on, just as it did before. In the background he can hear someone shuffling around in the living room, probably Kibum, and how someone runs water in the sink, probably Jinki, if the very faint sounds of someone singing is of any hint.
Staring at the words, he stands perfectly still, marveling over the feeling in his stomach. It’s the same slightly nervous, yet excited and happy feeling as the one he gets when they’re just about to go onstage, or when he hears Jonghyun and Jinki sing, or when Minho looks at him with unreadable, dark eyes, or when Jinki smiles at him, so pure and real that it almost hurts, or when Kibum gives him an one-armed hug in the morning while sleepily trying to eat his rice with his free hand.
“Taemin,” says Jonghyun’s voice and Taemin wonders if he’s finally gone crazy. It takes him a second to realize that the voice came from behind him and not from his head. He turns around to see Jonghyun standing in the doorway, shifting his weight from one foot to the other in a way that could only be described as restless and nervous. “Hi,” Jonghyun says, and it’s only because Taemin has spent the majority of almost two years in close quarters with him that he notices the cautious way Jonghyun pronounces the word.
“Hey,” says Taemin and then adds, “hyung.” Taemin eyes Jonghyun’s fingers, which are busy fiddling with the hem of a dark-grey sweatshirt, with the brand’s large logo across the chest and two not-that-noticeable panda ears on the hood. Taemin remembers that he had complimented Jonghyun on it. He sees the cracks in Jonghyun’s mask of calm, sees the uneasiness shining out through them; it’s not that hard not to notice, anyway, when it shines like neon light in the dark.
“Jonghyun,” Taemin speaks up and looks at the other, only to look down again the second Jonghyun turns those dark eyes to him. The latest blue note is ripped all around the edges, he notices. There are tiny blue paper pieces around his feet and on his worn-out jeans. “I got the note, and all the ones before it,” he says even though it’s rather obvious. Jonghyun nods slowly.
"I- I was just wondering if you had a solution for me, already."
“Hyung,” Taemin interrupts. There are sounds coming from the kitchen, or maybe the living room, sounds of Jinki’s laughter and Kibum’s attempt to not laugh. Even Minho’s low voice is blending with the others'. “Shhh,” He moves towards Jonghyun, putting a finger to the other’s lips. “Hyung I—“ Taemin is reminded of Kibum’s warm and affectionate hands. How Jinki is always so eager to help him improve his singing, smiling like Taemin hitting a perfect note is the solution to all the problems in the world. How Minho’s soul is out on display for him to see, even if just for a second or two. He hesitates. A smile graces his lips when he continues, leaning in to whisper into Jonghyun’s ear “Hyung I love you, I really do.”
He brushes his nose against the jaw line, more on accident than on purpose, and steps away. Jonghyun’s standing frozen on the doorstep, looking a bit like a fish, and Taemin smiles at him as he absentmindedly stuffs the blue note into his pocket. He walks past Jonghyun, arms brushing and there’s that tingling, fluffy feeling again. Taemin stops just as their backs are facing each other, and looks over his shoulder.
“All of you. I love you all, hyung,” Taemin’s last smile is directed at the oblivious trio in the kitchen, and doesn’t notice Jonghyun freezing.
“O-Of course,” he says, and Taemin walks away, Jinki welcoming him with a warm smile.
It’s one week later, the weather cold and the sun barely peeking out behind the clouds, when Taemin finds a clear blue post-it in the corner of the bedroom window
I just wanted to let you know.
It’s almost literally out of the blue and sudden, but it brings a smile to Taemin’s eyes. When he leaves the room, a red note has been taped next to the post-it on the window, a single heart in the middle of it.