length: oneshot (there is a sequel planned for this though)
a/n: jaejoong is adopted and this fic isn't really romance, but fair warning for implicit borderline fauxcest. if that bothers you in any way, do not read.
summary: one day the result of his father's long forgotten affair shows up at their door, and the world crumbles beneath his feet.
fragments of sunlight
Jaejoong is adopted.
He used to wish that it weren’t the truth.
He would pore over old photo albums, fold his hands and pray to gods he didn’t believe in, ask visitors which parent he resembled more, and then he would revel in their conclusions for days on end – but regardless of his desperation, Jaejoong has never been stupid.
He knows that his parents have never lied to him, and he knows that they aren’t about to start now.
He does not know who his real parents are or why they abandoned him, but overtime he acknowledges that it does not really matter, because the ones that he has now love him more than life. That is what they told him when he found out, and that is what he has believed ever since.
“It’s normal for parents to fight every now and then,” the maids tell him whenever the two have an argument, throwing hurt and blame at each other loud enough to scare him awake. The girls try their best to douse him with false comforts, but it is never enough to stop the tears falling from his eyes. He shakes them off, crying louder and louder as he makes his way into the middle of the warfare, demanding ceasefire and comfort until his parents give up on fighting and pull him close in tired resignation.
“It doesn’t matter how terrible we are together,” they tell him in the aftermath, “because no matter what happens, Jaejoongie will always be our favourite person in the world.”
They put him back to bed and when he wakes up, everything is okay again.
He doesn’t expect things to change.
One day, the result of his father’s long-forgotten affair shows up at their door.
The earth crumbles beneath his feet.
Junsu paints a picture of innocence that is completely untainted by the circumstances of his birth.
He has rose tinted cheeks and tiny hands and a brilliant smile that blinds them all the moment they lay eyes on him. He wears a Super Mario t-shirt and bright blue shorts as he toddles through the halls with a thumb settled comfortably between full lips, and teardrop eyes opened wide with wonder. As the days go by, he gets more and more comfortable in the house, playing with the maids, singing to the music, hopping up the stairs and eating with his mouth wide open. He smacks his lips loudly when he drinks his juice, clapping messy hands in joy, and his gleeful laughter echoes high and loud throughout the otherwise silent house.
When night falls, he crawls into Jaejoong’s bed, asking him with a liquid voice, “Hyung, where’s mommy?” almost as if he expects to find answers. “I miss her,” and Jaejoong stays unmoving, completely unresponsive as he pretends to be asleep.
Junsu’s mother is dead, but he does not understand what death means.
When he edges closer to Jaejoong’s turned back, clutching at his shirt and sniffling out his tears, Jaejoong makes no move to stop him.
He wakes the next morning with his jaw sore from keeping his teeth clenched all night.
Junsu’s presence is like a torch that burns the past and the path to retribution like a wildfire during a heat wave. Jaejoong’s mother has been livid – cold and closed off to anyone and everyone that is brave enough to approach her. The fighting has escalated to a point where Jaejoong never sees his father at home, and when he does, he is walking on glass thorns, because what follows is more fighting – tears and anger – vicious words wrapped around the roots with barbs and poison, precariously chosen and aimed to hurt.
Jaejoong hurts just by watching.
He stands petrified by the doorframe as a glass ornament flies past him, and it hits the wall, scattering to the ground like violent hail. Droplets of red hatred smear the floor, and the silence that falls is far worse than all the shouting.
His mother packs her bags and leaves, abandoning him in the house with his only company being broken hearts and broken promises - the bastard child and a jaded father that is never around long enough for Jaejoong to memorize his face.
Jaejoong has never forgiven Junsu for that.
Junsu is too young to understand the consequences of his existence.
He remains blissfully ignorant even as he grows older, coddled and spoiled by everyone around him, and it shows - in his innocent dialogue, the way he sings to himself in the middle of the night, and the way his eyes shine like diamonds when he sees Jaejoong, clinging to him like their relationship is forged with blood, not law, and Jaejoong pities him for his naiveté even as he teases him for it.
Junsu is supposed to be studying for his last final of the year, but there is a request at the tip of his tongue, dying to be verbalized, and it shows in the pink tint of his cheeks and the mischievous sparkle in his eye.
He sets his book aside to make space for Junsu and motions for him to speak.
Junsu talks with his hands more than his voice, does not pause to take a breath, and lets the excitement take its course when he describes how he wants to go to this soccer match with the neighbour’s boy, and how it’s his favourite team playing and it’s the finals and he needs to go (and if hyung doesn’t trust Yunho, he should come along too), so can he pleasepleaseplease go, and if so, can Jaejoong buy him tickets like, right now, because they sell out really fast and Junsu would, but he doesn’t have a credit card yet and he really really doesn’t want to ask dad.
Junsu has always looked up to Jaejoong.
Jaejoong has never learned how to say no.
“I’ll buy them,” he responds. “But you’re not going unless you get an A,” and he might as well have said ‘yes’ with how enthusiastically Junsu reacts, cheering and laughing and throwing his arms around him to leave a wet kiss on his cheek.
“I love you, hyung,” he crows into his neck.
Junsu is an optimist by nature, obedient and cheerful, and Jaejoong feels his affection for the boy blossom despite his reluctance.
I love you too, he wants to say as he wraps his arms tighter around the warm body, relishing in the reality of it all.
“Get back to studying,” he says instead.
Sometimes he notices a tinge of bitter hatred festering in his heart, curling around the edge of love, and it darkens every time Junsu makes a mistake he doesn’t know he’s making.
He hates Junsu most at times like these - when the latter wakes from a nightmare, panting and covered with sweat, distracting himself from thoughts of falling by waking him up to make idle conversation.
“It’s kinda’ weird that I had to lose my mom before I could meet my dad,” he confesses one night. “But to be honest, I can’t even remember what she looked like.” His tone is light, dismissive, as if he is talking about the weather or a game rather than the catalyst to a broken family.
“What was yours like?”
It burns Jaejoong’s stomach raw.
Jaejoong’s heart is delicate.
It is easy to bruise and easy to bleed, and sometimes it aches for no reason at all. He falls faster than he can blink, loves harder than he thinks, and every time leaves him in pain, paralyzed with echoes of words he has only imagined, and so in retaliation he builds a wall. It is high and it is strong, carefully constructed to guard all of his insecurities, and he moulds it tighter and tighter around his heart until it blocks out all the hurt and fear and sunshine and rain.
(He refuses to acknowledge just how much is comprised of Junsu.)
“Look at that blank face of his,” they comment, as if he can’t hear. “What a cold child,” and it hurts even more.
He looks in the mirror and sees himself.
The first time he goes drinking, it is on a whim. It is a classmate’s birthday, and they all get cajoled into it. Jaejoong does not need much convincing – he has always been curious.
It tastes like crap at first, but it gets better. And he finds that the more he drinks, the more it starts tasting like home – bittersweet and achingly numb.
He likes it.
The server seems to take a liking to him in turn (‘such a handsome face,’ he hears her whisper before she places another bottle in front of him, ‘on the house’), and so he decides to test his limits.
He aims to impress, and he likes to think that he succeeds.
As he lifts another glass to his lips, he imagines that Junsu is lying on his stomach right now, pyjama shirt riding up as he swings his legs up and down behind him, tongue peeking out in sheer concentration as he battles evil warlords and fantasy monsters on another one of his video games.
He will lose track of time as he loses himself in the game, and he will come out of it with shadows under his eyes and blisters on his thumbs. He will complain about the Earth’s rotational cycle, about school being so early in the morning and about having to write with pens instead of hiring typists, and Jaejoong will laugh and tell him that he brought it upon himself and he deserves what he gets. Later, while Junsu naps in the car, Jaejoong will carefully wrap a bandaid around the afflicted digits and press a soft kiss to his knuckles before returning his gaze to the window and chasing away his thoughts by counting streetlights.
Junsu would not like the taste of alcohol any more than he would like to see Jaejoong drinking it.
He downs it all in one go.
He does not know if it is due to naivete or overexposure to Jaejoong or the lack of parental role models in his life, but ever since Junsu was young, he adored Jaejoong more than anyone else.
Despite his undisclosed reservations for the boy, Jaejoong has never wanted to see Junsu upset. He feels obliged to shelter him from pain, to counsel him when he’s distressed, and nurse him back to health when he is ill - because ever since they were children, Jaejoong was the only one Junsu would allow near him when he was upset, the only one who knew how to console him, because he was the only one who ever had the chance.
Jaejoong wants to be a good hyung. He wants to be there for him, he wants to try - but over the years Junsu has grown strong, self-sufficient, and he no longer needs Jaejoong to protect him. He has thick skin and a strong heart, and he always rebounds from misery with a smile that shines brighter than before.
But something has been off recently.
Junsu has been acting more reserved these days, careful with his words and guarded with his smiles, almost as if he is afraid of being broken if he allows himself to get careless. Jaejoong recognizes the way he is acting – has been living like this all along, and he hates it more than he would like to admit.
He knocks on his door.
“I’m going to order pizza, do you want some?”
And Junsu’s eyes are lined with red, shimmering with tears as he attempts a watery smile. As he chokes on his agreement, Jaejoong thinks of stars reflected in midnight oceans and dancing tides, and how badly he would like to see them one day.
He pulls him into an embrace, stroking his fingers through silken strands, willing to wait as long as he needs for Junsu to open up to him. He feels Junsu’s stuttering breath as he rests against his chest, and a teardrop stains his cheek. Junsu sniffles before lifting up his arms to reciprocate the hug.
The sun sets and darkness falls. Junsu’s eyes are still wet. They are lying on the bed facing the ceiling when small hands find their way towards his, grasp them tight and hold on like a promise of forever.
He thinks it may be because of how rarely it happens, but Jaejoong has never found Junsu more beautiful than when he has tears in his eyes.
“I told Yunho hyung I like him,” Junsu confesses when he prods him for answers, and Jaejoong finds his breath caught somewhere in his throat. “It didn’t go very well. He said he likes someone else.”
They never mention it again.
“I want you to stop,” Junsu tells him a few drunken escapades later. “You’re going to turn into dad,” and the disappointment in his tone is enough to make his heart skip a beat
He may be intoxicated, but even so, he understands exactly what Junsu is implying, and he hates him for thinking it. He retches harshly, and Junsu holds back his hair as he kneels beside him. Jaejoong’s heaving makes him visibly uncomfortable, as if he is about to get sick himself, but he purses his lips and takes care of him through it all anyway.
“You’ll stop, right?” he asks when Jaejoong has emptied his stomach and brushed his teeth and flopped into bed.
Junsu has his addictions. Soccer and video games and dance and music, and Jaejoong has never asked him to give up anything that makes him happy. As he wanes off into sleep, he internally debates the consequences of saying no.
“Hyung. Promise me. Please.”
Junsu’s voice is soft like snow and sunrise and that spot in his heart that is reserved for lost souls, and it is laced with a husky undertone that makes Jaejoong picture shattered glass embedded in still-beating hearts.
The earnest and concerned look on his face is the reason why Jaejoong decides never to stop.
“You and Yoochunnie are so handsome,” Junsu comments as he flips through his yearbook. Yoochun is the new kid from America that has been monopolizing all of Junsu's time these days. There is a pout on his face as he compares his class picture to theirs. Jaejoong has always put effort in his looks. “Why do I have to look like this?”
Jaejoong is researching the best business university programs in the country so he can visit them in the summer before writing out his applications. He will be inheriting the business, while Junsu –
“There’s nothing wrong with the way you look.” There is nothing wrong with you at all.
And Junsu responds by rolling on the bed in frustration, listing all of his apparent shortcomings from his weight to his butt and maybe if he looked more like Jaejoong hyung, maybe if he dressed like him, then people would take him more seriously – maybe Yoochunnie would take him more seriously - and Jaejoong watches as the light falls on his face, highlighting the contours of his expression and castling a soft halo on his hair, swallowing the lump in his throat and thinking stupid, ridiculous, insecure, stupid, stupid child.
He is drunk the first time he kisses Yunho.
He kisses people when he is drunk, and everybody knows that, but ‘people’ is not supposed to include his younger brother’s first love. They taste each other’s lips for minutes hours eons, and when they pause for breath, it is Junsu’s name on both their hearts.
In the aftermath, they both stumble around the awkwardness like lost children. Eventually they exchange apologies and dismiss it as an alcohol-induced mistake, reasoning that it will never happen again.
It happens again - a few months later - except there is no alcohol involved this time, and it is definitely not a mistake.
If Junsu hurts, he hides it well.
Jaejoong prefers freezing temperatures over sweltering heat. He likes to feel the wind on his cheeks and the snow in his hair. He likes eating ice cream and going snowboarding and stuffing snow down Yunho’s shirt. And he reasons that he can always dress up if he wants to be warm during winter, but he cannot strip down any further than butt naked during the summer.
Cold is the reason Yoochun decides to sleep in Jaejoong’s room instead of Junsu’s when he stays the night, and they open the windows and turn up the AC and bond over beer and Junsu and smoke until the sun rises up. Jaejoong really likes the cold.
Despite his preference for the cold though, he still likes the sun.
He especially likes it on days like today, when everyone is gathered outside by the pool, teasing and laughing and enjoying the start of summer break. As Junsu dives in with Yunho and Yoochun, Jaejoong lifts his newly bought cell phone, and he snaps a picture. Junsu's new friend – Changmin – leans over his shoulder to look, and he smiles at the result.
Sometimes Jaejoong thinks Junsu carries sunshine in his pockets.
He couldn’t live without it if he tried.
Changmin is in the kitchen, helping himself to a glass of water. “He feels isolated around you, y’know?”
Jaejoong does not know Changmin well, but he does know that the boy is smart – smarter than the rest put together, and that he possesses a silver tongue. Junsu is fond of Changmin – of his handsome face and his quick wit and his unwavering loyalty to his friends. Changmin is fond of teasing Junsu, and it drives Jaejoong mad.
These days, he has been over at the house a lot. They stay up all night playing games together, and sometimes their voices seep through the walls - happy and carefree - and Jaejoong idly wonders if this is payback for all the times he went out to drink with Yoochun, when they mocked Junsu for not coming along, drove until sunrise, and came back in the morning with ink on their skin and secrets in their smiles.
“He says you prefer them over him,” he offers, almost as if to invoke a reaction, but Jaejoong keeps his expression blank.
“What do you think?”
The younger boy fixes him with a look that says ‘does it really matter?’ and he shrugs. “I think he cares too much,” he responds nonchalantly, wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand before opening up the fridge to look for more things to eat.
Jaejoong doesn’t like Changmin.
Jaejoong is on his way out to meet Yunho when he hears Junsu on the phone. His room is dark, and his voice comes out low and strained. Jaejoong manages to catch a few whispers as he passes by the door, and it makes him pause in his steps.
"How long have you felt this way?"
"Is this because of Jaejoong hyung?"
"I'm fine, don't worry about me. I saw this coming a long time ago. Everyone loves hyung."
Jaejoong and Yoochun have been friends for a while now, and he likes to think that they are close enough to be called soulmates. When they are together they find countless reasons to laugh and they breath the same thoughts and they love the same things.
He should have known that Yoochun would love Junsu.
Junsu is the smile to his tears, the light to his dark, and they would have been perfect together if only Yoochun hadn't met Jaejoong.
Yunho kisses his lips and tells him it's okay, this is love, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and Jaejoong grips his hair tight enough to hurt as he breathes him in and laments the fact that he is the reason why Junsu always suffers.
Jaejoong does not ask, and Junsu does not tell him.
Yoochun never confesses.
The first big fight that they have is about the smoking. Junsu has opened the windows to erase the smell, and he has angry goosebumps on his arms from the cold. Sunlight pours in through the parted curtains, and Jaejoong thinks it’s blinding.
Junsu has been pure since the day he first walked through the door, and he has miraculously stayed innocent throughout the years. He believes the best in everyone and he tries to be the best person that he can be, too. He does not drink and he does not smoke, and every weekend, he goes to church.
His eyes are wide, pleading - expectant.
“Can’t you do this much for me?”
Junsu has standards that Jaejoong refuses to meet.
“I’ve always done everything for you.” It comes out colder than he intends, more bitter, and Junsu bites on the inside of his cheek, speechless in response.
Yoochun’s number is the most recent in his call log, and so he is inevitably the first person Jaejoong calls when it happens. His vision is blurry and his hands are shaking, and he spends a good few minutes trying to breathe before he can finally speak. He texts Yunho and he texts Changmin and then he rests his head in his hands and he lets bitter regret seep through his soul.
Yoochun arrives at the hospital with Yunho, and they take turns embracing him as they offer their condolences.
Junsu learns from Changmin, because Jaejoong is not brave enough to tell him himself.
The company falls into his unexpectant hands, and although he tries his best to learn the ropes as fast as he can and do his best while coping with the death, he finds that every day is an upward struggle that leaves him weaker and worse for wear.
He spends nights at the office, on the field, brings work home and drowns inside it, and for a while, that is all he knows.
When he finally gets the hang of it all and steps aside to take a breather, he finds Junsu still holed up in his room. He broods instead of moving on, instead of helping, and he drags Jaejoong back with worry every second of everyday, because he needs to eat, and he needs to live, and according to the staff, he has been doing nothing at all.
Junsu exists, but that is not enough.
There had been worlds of distance between Junsu and his father, but with him gone, his mother dead, Yunho and Yoochun in university and Changmin back at school, all he has left is Jaejoong, but Jaejoong has a life to live, a legacy to fulfill, and he cannot stay around forever.
Jaejoog comes home one day, ecstatic after signing a major deal, and they all get together to celebrate by eating their favourite restaurant takeout. Junsu is happy for him, proud, and he tells him so with a smile as they dig in. But when dinner is over and he thinks that they have all gone, Junsu reclines into the sofa and lets his eyes slide shut with a tired sigh. His soul unfurls, weary, and it scares Jaejoong.
He hadn’t noticed it in the hustle for work, but Junsu’s pants ride way too low on previously thicker hips. He has shadows underneath his eyes, and his cheeks have sunken and lost their cherubic glow. For that instant, underneath the pale kitchen lights, he looks so tired, detached and out of place that he may as well have been a ghost. Jaejoong swallows.
It has been months, but Junsu is still not the same, and Jaejoong hates it, because this boy sitting in front of him is not Junsu. In place of his Junsu is a boy with a broken heart, and this boy does not carry any sunshine. Jaejoong does not love this boy.
(Junsu does not ask him for anything anymore.)
Jaejoong hates him.
“Give him time,” Yunho advises.
“Give him space,” Yoochun adds.
“People change,” Changmin tells him, blunt as ever. “Why can’t you just accept it?”
Jaejoong punches him so hard it leaves a bruise.
It is a cold winter’s day when Jaejoong finally snaps.
You’re not my Junsu, he thinks as he adds more fuel to a fire over an argument so trivial he cannot even recall what it is about. He burns with anger and frustration caused from trying too hard to only get so much. Junsu tries too, but he regresses too easily, as if the confines of his room are more comforting than company.
Jaejoong prods and he pushes, and it makes Junsu withdraw even further. He starts swimming in dangerous waters.
“Why do you think everyone keeps leaving you? You don’t belong here.”
It is calculated, it is mean and it hits home so hard that his face falls instantly. Junsu has always been smarter than they gave him credit for.
It is not the first time Jaejoong has hurt him, but it is the first hurt that he does not forgive, and his voice takes on a tone so cold that it does not even sound like it belongs to him.
“What is it that you want, Jaejoong?” Not hyung. “What do you want from me?”
“I wish you didn't exist.” It comes out as a whisper, a final confession of one of his oldest, darkest secrets, and he wishes he could take the words back as soon as they leave his mouth because they aren’t true, because he loves Junsu, because he cares so much for him that he wants to he wants to die before he hurts him - but the words are out, and they linger in the air, haunting, and they snuff the light from his eyes in the aftermath.
Fragments of sunlight peek through the office blinds, bouncing off his nameplate and irritating his eyes. A pile of work lays unattended on his desk.
It has been months since the fight.
Light and shadows collide on the glass, dancing on his name and making a mockery of his life, and the glare hurts, but Jaejoong does not allow himself to cry. He got what he deserved, and now he has to live with it.
Junsu still hasn't returned.