Summary: Some scars are unforgettable, Jongin thinks, and the only thing time does is make them hurt less.
Warning: character death.
A/N: for euphorias again, because i love her that much ♥
"I'm not going."
"He'll come back. He's nothing without us."
Go with him, Jongin screams, but his voice is lost, drowned out by the sound of the television.
Jongin tries to shake the figure on the couch, but his hands slip right through, his words falling upon deaf years. Kai doesn't move from his seat, folding his arms across his chest stubbornly.
Kai hums under his breath, without sparing a look at the door until a loud crash resounds through the house and all eyes are on Minseok instantly. His face is deathly pale, as his fingers curl loosely around his phone, a puddle of water and glass pieces scattered around his feet.
"Lu Han met with an accident. His car caught fire."
Jongin doesn't even have to look to remember the paleness of Joonmyeon's face as he shakily commands them to get into the van. You idiot, he yells at Kai, whose face is contorted in a mixture of shock and disbelief, as a shaking Baekhyun shoves him out of the house.
Jongin wakes with a start, his shirt soaked thoroughly with sweat. He sighs and presses his palms to his eyes, breathing heavily.
He can still see it. The bandages wrapped around Lu Han's badly burnt body as Sehun clings on to Kyungsoo, lower lip quivering, and Jongdae presses his palms together in a silent prayer.
He can still hear it. The loud wailing from Yixing the minute Lu Han's heartbeat stopped, accompanied by a loud crash as Yifan slammed his fist against a wall, ignoring the blood trickling down his knuckles.
It's only when sunlight flits through the small gap of the curtain does Jongin force himself to check his calendar, although a date is already burned deeply into his brain.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out what date it is when he's been plagued with sleepless nights.
"This isn't a good idea."
"Just let him be. You know how he's like on this day every year," is the last thing Jongin hears before he steps into the living room and Sehun and Yixing fall silent simultaneously.
Jongin manages a smile at them and shifts his weight slightly to his right foot. "Cereal?"
Sehun doesn't look up at him, just concentrates on shaking little golden flakes out of the cereal box while reaching for the milk carton. "It's fi-" Jongin begins, but snaps his jaw shut when Sehun's eyes flicker up and a bowl is shoved into his hand.
Nothing is said over the light clattering of metal spoons against ceramic bowls, until Sehun's phone vibrates against the table.
Jongin doesn't have to look to know who's calling. It's probably Baekhyun. Or Kyungsoo. Or maybe Jongdae, if his manager stopped being a prick and let him have his phone. On this particular day, there could only be eight people who would call any of them. It's pathetic, he thinks, that this day now remains the only reason for eleven individuals, who had once shed tears and sweat together, to meet up.
He walks out of the house, phone tucked in the back pocket of his jeans, after taking two mouthfuls of cereal.
Cherry blossoms are beautiful.
Jongin catches a falling petal in his outstretched hand, stares at it for two seconds and crushes it in his palm, letting the gentle breeze carry away its remnants.
A child wails nearby, his lower lip jutting out as he points accusingly at Jongin, like he's a monster, leaving beautiful things crushed in his wake. Jongin thinks Lu Han was spot-on all those times when he said children never lie, that they can see things clearer than everyone else.
"You're scaring him."
He knows it's pointless, that he'll catch up eventually, but Jongin does things his way nonetheless.
Jongin stops as brown leather shoes appear before him. He counts silently to three, inhales and looks up.
"Stop running. You're starting to worry Joonmyeon."
There's a hint of exasperation laced between slight pants and Jongin finally meets his eyes.
"I'll always be less of a worry than Kris. Or Yifan. Or do you go by Kevin now?"
Yifan's gaze on him is unwavering, only shifting his weight slightly when pedestrians point at them, hiding words behind curved hands. "Let's go to somewhere more private," Yifan responds, slipping his shades back on.
Go, listen to him. give him the chance that everyone else has.
It's been four years, and Jongin hasn't stopped hearing his voice. Hasn't forgotten the way his fingers run through his hair. Hasn't forgotten the look on his face as he waits, waits for an answer that Jongin doesn't give.
It's four years too late, Jongin feels, for him to finally stop being stubborn - to start listening and stop arguing.
"Where are you? Joonmyeon says-"
The game controller slips from Lu Han's grasp and hits the ground with a resounding smash, to which chanyeol cringes. "You're so paying for that."
Lu Han doesn't reply Chanyeol, he just stares straight ahead and swallows. "No wait, don't do this. Don't scare me. This is just one of those days again, right? You can't just leave. What about -"
The subsequent silence that follows after the line goes dead on Lu Han is stifling, and Jongin straightens, hands reaching out to pull lu han to him.
He remembers it bright as day, the way Lu Han shakes as he pushes fingers through his blonde bangs and pulls; the way his eyes cloud with moisture; the way he pulls away from Jongin and reaches for his brown jacket.
"I'm going to get him. I'm going to bring yifan back, if it's the last thing I'll do," Lu Han whispers to Jongin.
And like a true man, Lu Han keeps his word.
"Cafe au Lait," Yifan says as he slides the menu back to the waitress.
The waitress cocks an eyebrow at Jongin and smiles, pen still poised above her notepad. "None for me."
"We won't be long, so there's no point."
Yifan sighs and casts a tensed smile at the waitress. "Give him a black coffee."
"You remember," Jongin answers the moment the waitress is out of earshot.
He shoots Yifan a dark glare at that, disappointment filling him slightly when Yifan's gaze on him doesn't even waver. "Wish the same could be said about you," he snaps.
He's replied with silence until their coffee arrives and Yifan shoves a couple of won to the waitress, insisting that she keeps the change.
Jongin takes small sips of his coffee, thumbing at the flower-shaped cookie on the saucer. Across him, Jongin can feel Yifan's gaze on him, his lips curved down slightly, the way they always did when Yifan's weighing the impact of his subsequent words.
"Why don't you take up Yixing's offer? Go dance with him and Sehun. You're better than this, Jongin."
The biscuit between his thumb and his forefinger snaps, as Jongin glances up. "Why is that any of your business?"
"Because it's time to move on."
He's suddenly on his feet, his fingers gripping the edge of the table, ignoring the looks that other patrons are shooting them. It's fine, he's been deemed as SM's biggest failure three years back, the minute he announced that he's had enough of performing, of pretending. "Don't tell me how -"
"I miss him too," Yifan snaps, his voice raising several tones, cracking a little around the edges, and that alone is enough to silence Jongin. "And i still hate myself with every passing day but that's not going to change anything, Jongin."
Yifan's eyes are shining, as he looks away from Jongin, out the window, and Jongin falters slightly. It's been too long. Too long since he's seen Yifan like this, tensed and on the edge of breaking.
"Why did you do that?"
Yifan looks up in slight confusion and Jongin takes a deep breath. "Why did you want to leave without saying goodbye? Do years of training with us mean nothing to you?"
When he's only met with silence, Jongin shakes his head and continues, voice raising with each word, "Nothing would have happened to him if you talked to us about this. EXO wouldn't have been cast as SM's greatest tragedy."
Jongin presses his palms to his eyes and whispers, "And Lu Han would be more than a memory."
For several moments, all Jongin can hear is the stirring of the coffee machine in the background, the light tingling of bells as patrons enter the cage, mixed with his own harsh breathing.
"I'm sorry," is what Yifan says instead.
It would be too hypocritical of Jongin to reach across the table for Yifan's hand, to tell him it's all behind them now. So instead, Jongin stands, his coffee barely touched, and leaves with the tinkling of bells behind him.
Sehun slides a disc under his door that night, which Jongin leaves untouched until he nearly trips over it on his way to the shower.
He doesn't sleep that night, he stays up and puts Yifan's solo album, eleven stories untold, on loop instead.
He replays track eleven, until Yifan's mianhae sounds sincere enough to leave Jongin in a weeping mess.
He buries Yifan's album in the ground the following day, next to wilting flowers.
There's a soft sigh behind him, before brown leather shoes appear beside his green sneakers. "Hated it that much?"
"I wouldn't bury it here if that was so," Jongin replies, rubbing his fingers across the white marble, in memoirs of Lu Han.
Yifan doesn't say anything, as he watches Jongin get to his feet, a bouquet of tulips in his hands.
Jongin pulls out a white tulip and lays the rest beside Lu Han's grave, before offering it to Yifan. "I think Lu Han's heard your stories, all eleven of them."
Yifan reaches out cautiously, catching the white tulip just as Jongin lets go and turns to walk off.
"Do you want to come over? Yixing's cooking stew," Jongin says.
Yifan smiles at him in return, skipping several steps to keep up with Jongin, as Jongin returns his gaze to the ground, each step he takes more confident than the last.
Just as he reaches Yifan's car, he throws a backward glance, and he swears, the glimmer of light that catches his eye is Lu Han, smiling at him for the first time in four long years.
(Very often, the most hated third party isn't human, but fate.)
a/n: white tulips are a symbolism of forgiveness.
randomly inspired by the quote from jj lin above and i just felt like writing disbandment fic, i have no idea. um euphorias please don't kill me. no sharp objects please.
thanks again to hoaegi for beta-ing my fic and for being frank enough to tell me what confuses you and what works! ♥
i promise i'll write happy things. soon.
p.s. if there's anything urgent and you wish to contact me, please pm specialises because i rarely log on here to check pms. thanks!