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Stranger Under My Roof - Epilogue

Title: Stranger Under My Roof (epilogue)
Pairing: Kyuhyun/Yesung, YeKyu, KyuSung.
Genre: Drama, angst, fluff.
Warnings: Slight coarse language, mention of alcohol
Rating: PG-13
Summary: They say that what a person wants most in the world is the one thing they are deprived of. Kyuhyun has been deprived of Jongwoon’s affection for far too long.

Notes: An extremely overdue epilogue-of-sorts to tie up some of the loose ends of this fic. I apologise that it took so long, but I'm also happy I got the inspiration and time to write this. Whoever is reading this, I hope you'll enjoy this very final chapter of SUMR :')


Previous: Part Six

STRANGER UNDER MY ROOF - EPILOGUE


Jongwoon wakes up to a pair of dark eyes gazing adoringly at him. It takes a few moments to blink the sleep away and recognise the familiar face bare inches from his own, and register the warm body pressed firmly against his. Memories of the previous night and the ensuing conversation - long and intense - during the early hours of dawn come flooding to the front of his mind and his eyes fly open, fully awake now.

Kyuhyun smiles shyly at him. 'Good morning, Jongwoon hyung,' he whispers, and he is so close that Jongwoon can almost feel his spoken words on his lips.

Jongwoon blushes a little, slightly overwhelmed by both the boy's proximity and the remembrance of all the things they confessed to each other mere hours ago.

'Morning, Kyuhyun,' he whispers back. It belatedly strikes him that saying Kyuhyun's name feels a little strange on his tongue. He has never really spoken Kyuhyun's name out loud all that much before ... until earlier this morning.

A little too aware of the fact that they still have their arms around each other, Jongwoon looks past Kyuhyun and sees that the small apartment is aglow with sunlight. The curtains are drawn back and he can hear the sounds of people moving about beyond the living room.

'I'm sorry to wake you, hyung,' Kyuhyun says softly, gently rubbing a hand down Jongwoon's back. 'But the others are waking up and -'

'And we have schedules today, right,' mutters Jongwoon with a low groan. After how emotionally draining last night was, he just wants to lie in and sleep the whole day away.

Kyuhyun chuckles. 'Yeah, that, too. But I meant more that the other members are leaving their rooms and ...' He clears his throat a little awkwardly. '... we're here and ...'

Wrapped up in each others arms, completely entwined together.

'Ah.' The blood rushes to his face and Jongwoon removes his arm from around Kyuhyun. The younger boy hesitates a few seconds, but then almost reluctantly pries himself away from Jongwoon and sits up on the sofa. Jongwoon pulls himself up as well and they sit together for several seconds, not saying anything.

Kyuhyun is the first to break the silence. 'Sungmin hyung was in here a couple minutes ago, by the way,' he reports, lips twitching in amusement. 'He took one look at us and fled as if he caught us, well, sleeping with each other, to put it as nicely as possible.'

Despite the heat that rose to his cheeks in embarrassment, Jongwoon finds himself chuckling. 'Well, if you want to get technical about it, we were sleeping together.'

Kyuhyun laughs, a high clear sound that brings a smile to Jongwoon's face, before screwing up his face in pain. He gently drops his head into his hands and rubs his fingers against his temples. 'Mm. Well, anyway, just giving you a head's up, in case the hyungs give us grief later today about us "sleeping together" ... and over the next several days.'

'Knowing these idiots? Of course, they will.' Jongwoon rolls his eyes, not quite wishing to contemplate the teasing remarks that may well be thrown their way by the members soon. He frowns at Kyuhyun and presses his hand against his forehead. 'How's the hangover?'

'Still pretty sucky. Couple of aspirin and I'll be fine, though.'

'You sure?' Jongwoon asks, still frowning. He moves his fingers over Kyuhyun's temple and through his hair in a soothing caress.

Kyuhyun closes his eyes and leans into the touch, smiling slightly. 'Yeah ... I'm OK. I'm more than OK.'

Jongwoon's hand stills and Kyuhyun opens his eyes, giving him a look that is both gentle and uncomfortably intense. After a heartbeat, the former retracts his hand and comments nonchalantly, 'Well, if you're sure. Come on, let's go. We don't want to get yelled at for being late.'

Kyuhyun follows him, yawning. 'Yeah, getting yelled at while my head feels like it is under a sledgehammer is about the most auspicious start to a day I can think of.'

The older man snorts as he makes his way to their bedroom, hoping there is enough time to take a shower. Sungmin seems to have retreated back to his room, but Jongwoon can hear the tell-tale sounds of life from behind the doors. Soon enough, everyone will be out. He is just about to open his door when Kyuhyun calls to him from down the hallway.

'Hey, hyung, I'm gonna go make some coffee and, er ...' Kyuhyun pauses for a split second, looking almost nervous. 'Would you like some, too?'

Jongwoon is about to answer with a carefree 'Yes' when the look Kyuhyun is wearing stops him dead in his tracks. The memories come to him swift and sudden, like unwanted brittle leaves tossed in his face by gales of wind.

All the rushed mornings he came down late for breakfast, only to discover a steaming cup of coffee waiting for him on the table ... The fourth time he was greeted by the same sight and he had actually bothered to ask who it was from ...The frigid wave of distaste that washed over his tongue when Hyukjae had distractedly answered, "Oh? I think Kyuhyun's been making it for you these past couple days.' ... Every morning after that, when he had refused to touch the cup, repulsed by its very presence ...

And the day Kyuhyun finally realised ... The shadow that crossed his face when Jongwoon walked right past the cup, ignoring the beckoning wisps of steam rising from its dark astringent depths to dissipate into nothingness ... just like his regard for Kyuhyun ...

Something sticks in his throat and Jongwoon cannot speak, his fingers frozen on the doorknob and his eyes locked with Kyuhyun's nervous ones. In that moment, Jongwoon realises - not for the first time and certainly not the last - that he cannot see the bottom of this well of harm that he had dug. A single act, which had seemed so trivial, so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, had still managed to leave an unhealed scar behind. A scar seemingly superficial, but resulting from a wound that had cut down to the bone and soul inside.

The guilt assaults him anew, until it feels like every hurt and wrong he had caused Kyuhyun is coating him all over, soaking into his clothes and eating through his tainted skin like corrosive acid.

Just how damaged was Kyuhyun? How many scars - small, miniscule, hardly discernible to the eye - had Jongwoon left on him, still unhealed and stinging?

'Hyung?' Kyuhyun sounds uncertain, signs of worry showing on his face.

Jongwoon pulls on a smile; the weight of guilt is so heavy on the corners of his lips that he can barely keep them up.

'Yes. Coffee sounds great, Kyuhyun. I'd love some.'

In the blink of an eye, the anxiety and hesitance on Kyuhyun's face vanish, replaced by gratification and a sparkle in his dark eyes. 'It'll be done in a minute,' he says, sounding almost breathless with relief, and disappears into the kitchen.

Jongwoon leans his forehead against his door, his thoughts whirling. Self-reproach still has his heart in an iron grip, but the image of Kyuhyun's relief and happiness just now is making it easier to breathe.

There is no denying that Kyuhyun is a damaged soul, at least with regards to Jongwoon. Their earlier talk during the darkest hours of dawn had been merely the first step out of the door on their mutual journey to healing. There are still innumerable amends for Jongwoon to make, a littany of emotional scars in Kyuhyun yet to fade ...

But I've already taken the first step ... we've already started.

And that is half the journey, as the proverb goes. Feeling a little easier, Jongwoon finally turns the doorknob and enters his room. This will surely be a long journey, agonisingly slow and with more than a few bumps in the road, but if it meant his absolution and Kyuhyun's salubrity, then he is giving it his all.

Perhaps one small step like saying 'Yes' is the push needed to get the snowball rolling.

~***~

It does not take long for the other members to notice the change in atmosphere between the two lead singers.

Of course, Sungmin has been aware of it since that fateful morning, having had stumbled across them "sleeping together" on the sofa, after all. The smug smirk with which he greets Jongwoon and Kyuhyun later that day is quite alarming. The former considers literally slapping it off Sungmin's face, but the reminder that his dongsaeng had been quite helpful with his Kyuhyun-dilemma - and that, surprisingly, he had not shared with everyone that they had "slept together" - keeps his instincts in check.

Jongwoon is further appeased the following day when he comes home after schedules to discover a bowl of fresh strawberries on his bed, with an anonymous card underneath bearing the message,

"I'm glad everything worked out, hyung. Share these with Kyuhyun, yeah? Hyukjae stole the rest, that brat."

Well, what do you know ... Sungmin can be a total sweetheart when he wants to.

Jongwoon ends up giving only a third of the strawberries to Kyuhyun, though. When the maknae complains, he primly replies that it is not his fault that Kyuhyun chose to stay out after work and came home too late to get his equal share. Kyuhyun mock-pouts as he takes his portion of the fruit and flops down on the floor beside Jongwoon's bed, but their eyes meet and they end up chortling for the better half of a minute for absolutely no reason.

As his dongsaeng finally quiets down and nibbles on a strawberry, Jongwoon leans back against the headboard and gazes down at him. He reflects that, despite the lack of total intimacy between them yet, this is still good. This is fine, more than fine. It is already a far cry from what their interactions used to be like.

Kyuhyun catches his eyes and smiles albeit a little surprisedly. 'What?'

'Nothing. No, I was just thinking ...' Struck by a sudden thought, Jongwoon hesitates for a second, wondering if he ought to voice it. It is more or less the truth and he does want to see Kyuhyun's reaction to it, but it is also rather frank and perhaps too early on the road to be admitted yet.

But Kyuhyun is still looking at him and Jongwoon's tongue develops a mind of its own and reels off, 'I was just thinking that, for all that you are mature and proud of it, during these times when you do silly things like fight over the computer with Donghae or pout and complain about food, you finally look like a maknae. It's cute.'

The boy blushes a shade rivalling that of the strawberry protruding from his lips and he drops his gaze, suddenly not knowing where to look. The sight makes Jongwoon want to laugh and, for the very first time, to pinch Kyuhyun's cheeks like he does with Donghae and Hyukjae. The sudden impulse sobers him up and he keeps his hands firmly in his lap, now a little embarrassed himself by the thought of it.

Despite the loss of his composure, Kyuhyun still surprises him into silence with his next words.

'I'm cute? And you realised it only now?'

Jongwoon gapes, taken unawares by Kyuhyun's boldness (though he no longer should be). Kyuhyun's tone had been light, but there is a seriousness in his eyes that gives away the ulterior motive behind his airy retort ... and Jongwoon thinks he has a pretty good idea of what that may be.

'No ... it's been a while since I realised it,' Jongwoon admits bluntly.

From the change in Kyuhyun's countenance, Jongwoon knows his suspicion has been confirmed; that Kyuhyun had been trying to gauge an idea of how long ago Jongwoon's opinion of him had first changed.

Now they are both awkward and feeling hot around the collar, but Kyuhyun still does not look away. The look in his eyes intensifies, evolving into that penetrating stare Jongwoon has been on the receiving end of so many times. The older man tears his eyes away and focusses on his turtle tank; to this day, in spite of everything, he still feels slightly uncomfortable whenever Kyuhyun gets like this. He no longer feels like running away, but being subjected to that depth of passionate emotions in Kyuhyun's eyes during these moments is still unnerving.

The charged air between them dissipates only by a notch when Kyuhyun goes back to his fruit at last. Neither of them brings up the topic again, but when they leave their room for breakfast together the next morning, they are back to exchanging light-hearted smiles.

At this time, Ryeowook takes notice of the camaraderie between them. (Or, as Jongwoon reflects later, he may have already heard the truth from Sungmin, since they had evidently shared their knowledge of Jongwoon and Kyuhyun's problems with each other.)

Breakfast, as usual, is a noisy affair, with the members simultaneously giving each other grief and trying to eat in record time before their schedules. Ryeowook pays the cacophony no mind, instead staring intently across the table at Jongwoon accepting a mug of coffee from Kyuhyun. Jongwoon catches his eyes as he raises his mug to his lips, and crocks an eyebrow quizzically.

Ryeowook holds his gaze for the longest moment before glancing meaningfully at an oblivious Kyuhyun. He then shoots a brilliant smile at Jongwoon, punctuated with an approving tilt of the head. Without a single word passing his lips, he returns to his breakfast, leaving Jongwoon slightly pink in the face as comprehension dawns on him.

Later, he will silently thank Ryeowook for choosing to keep his silence and never bringing up the issue of Kyuhyun with him ever again ... because he ends up receiving more than the desirable earful from others.

Others, which, in this context, is synonymous with "damn hyungs".

Jungsu's reaction to their healing relationship is positively alarming. More than a touch embarrassing, too.

It happens when they are in the middle of dance practice. The moment their instructor calls for a break at last, Jongwoon stumbles over to where he left his bag and slides down against the mirrored wall. He has barely fished out his water bottle when Kyuhyun collapses beside him, spread eagled on the floor. Too out of breath to laugh at the comical sight, Jongwoon just wipes his face with his towel and downs half his water until Kyuhyun nudges his thigh with a finger, breathlessly asking for his own water bottle.

A glance around reveals Kyuhyun's sports bag some ten feet away from Jongwoon's current position.

'I can't reach, it's too far away,' he complains. 'Get it yourself.'

'Ugh, I can't get up right now. I could barely keep up with the dance and now my legs are like jelly.'

'Sucks to be you,' drawls Jongwoon with a galling smile, fully aware that he is not one to talk.

'Hyu~ng,' Kyuhyun draws out the honorific, like on the rare occasions when he puts on aegyo for the other members. Right now, it sounds just like an exaggerated whine, but it is not lost on Jongwoon that this is the first time Kyuhyun has ever adressed him like this. 'Hyung, please. I can't move and I'm going to die like this in this sorry position. Please, please, please, hyung.'

Jongwoon's intention is to throw out a sarcastic 'Whine a bit more and I'll leave you here to die,' and laugh evilly at Kyuhyun's fate. What he actually ends up doing is lean over the boy and align the neck of the water bottle over his lips. Kyuhyun realises what he is doing at the last moment and opens his mouth just in time to prevent the stream of water spilling over his chin and cheeks.

Jongwoon remains bent over him as he measures out water into the parched mouth, silently observing the high colour slowly creeping up Kyuhyun's cheeks. After he has swallowed three mouthfuls, Jongwoon asks quietly, 'Enough?'

'A bit more...' Kyuhyun does not meet his eyes.

Still hovering over him, Jongwoon feeds him a couple more mouthfuls of water when he suddenly becomes aware of a third presence directly across from them. The sight that meets his eyes when he looks up is something he really can do without.

To say that Jungsu looks happy and proud - oh, "understatement" does not even come close. Still leaning over Kyuhyun's prone form, Jongwoon freezes in place as the full brunt of Jungsu's fervour hits him like a tangible typhoon of whirling emotions. He can practically hear the wheel of thoughts currently running in their leader's mind and he prays to God that the man keeps quiet abou -

'I'm so, so proud of you, Jongwoon.'

Not fair. This is not fair. Jongwoon has not even completed his prayer yet and he is already being shot down?

'I always knew you could solve the problem between you two if you tried hard enough.'

Shot down and buried six feet under in humilation.

Kyuhyun is gaping back and forth between his two hyungs, at a complete loss. 'What's going on? Are those ... tears in Teukie hyung's eyes?' he asks in a bewildered whisper.

They are not, but his eyes are so bright and alight with twinkles that Kyuhyun can be forgiven for his mistake. Nor is Jungsu's look any less mortifying than had he been crying. His face is like that of a parent's whose children had saved the world from the Apocalypse and discovered the cure to cancer along the way.

The mortification factor rises to the next level when their dance instructor barks at them to resume positions and Jungsu remains where he is, looking adoringly at his two victims. Upon noticing them, the instructor frowns and takes up the call again, but Jungsu is still selectively deaf for the timebeing and the rest of the members turn around to see the cause of the holdup.

It takes a few seconds for the scene to compute.

'What's going on, hyungs?' says Hyukjae slowly, looking between Jungsu and Jongwoon.

'Jungsu hyung, you feeling alright?' asks Youngwoon.

'Is Kyuhyun alright?' Hangeng stares at the two singers with concern. 'Did he collapse?'

'You giving him mouth-to-mouth over there, Jongwoonie?' adds Heechul with a smirk, jumping on the entirely unnecessary chance to tailgate Hangeng's comment.

Heechul's remark thaws out Jongwoon's frozen muscles faster than an ice cube in the Sahara and he scrambles back from Kyuhyun so fast he spills his water bottle ... right over the boy's lap. Kyuhyun sits up with a yelp as the chilled liquid soaks through to his sensitive skin, while the rest of the members dissolve into juvenile giggles. Even their dance instructor folds his arms and leans against the front wall, currently too entertained to call them off.

Face burning, Jongwoon tries to apologise, but his voice is drowned out by Heechul, who, naturally, has more to add,

'Well, if Jongwoon's kiss of life didn't do the trick, that cold shower is sure to bring anyone to his senses.'

The laughter evolves into full out guffawing and Jongwoon shoots his offensive hyung a withering look. Ignoring everyone, Kyuhyun gingerly tries to dry off the suggestive wet spot on his sweatpants and Jongwoon decides to help out and be a good Samaritan again.

Only, in retrospect, pressing his face towel against the front of Kyuhyun's pants is probably not the smartest move he has ever pulled off.

'Yah! Trying to arouse the poor boy is totally counterproductive to the cold shower you just gave him, you know!' screeches Heechul, his glee overflowing at all the aggro fodder he has received in the course of one morning.

More than half the members are on their hands and knees from mirth at this point, while the other half are hardly better off.

'No, please,' wheezes Siwon, clutching his middle and leaning on a cackling Donghae. 'Jongwoon hyung, please don't do anything else, my stomach hurts.'

Jongwoon huffs, still blushing. 'I didn't do anything.'

'Except Kyuhyun,' chirps Sungmin out of the blue, smirking. Hyukjae and Siwon let out identical wails of laughter as if they were dying, and Heechul claps Sungmin on the shoulder with exaggerated pride.

Jongwoon chooses the best course of action in such circumstances and gives up. He can barely meet the eyes of Kyuhyun, whose face is as red as his.

At long last, Jungsu decides to curb his giggles and assume leadership responsibilities again.

'Alright, guys, let's break it up. Stop teasing them already, they're embarrassed...'

'It all started because of you, you know,' points out Heechul, arching an amused eyebrow.

Jungsu snorts. 'I wasn't teasing them, you started that. I just said I was really proud of them, is all.'

Jongwoon cringes visibly at the latter words. Oh, has his prayer still not been answered, then?

Comprehension begins to dawn on the faces of the handful of members who had been present the night Kyuhyun had come home drunk (and delivered the mother of punches to Jongwoon's face). The others, on the other hand, are looking confused and intrigued by Jungsu's vague claim. However, none of them looks about to actually ask further about it, until -

'Oh? So I guess Jongwoon and Kyuhyun have finally kissed and made up, huh?' drawls Heechul with a piercing stare at the duo, because, at his worst (which is also usually his default), Heechul has all the subtlety and tact of a raging rhinoceros with a hernia.

It does not help the least bit when Sungmin crocks an eyebrow and adds, 'Of course, they have. Didn't you see them sleeping together on the sofa?'

As the rest of the bewildered members erupt with exclamations and questions around them, Jongwoon steals a glance at Kyuhyun's reddened face and resigns himself to their fate with a sigh.

~***~

Concerning that particularly humiliating practice session:

The Good: Members, who were not in the know about Jongwoon and Kyuhyun's earlier animosity, seem quite content to simply accept that the two of them had had a fight before, but everything is solved now.

The Bad: Despite not knowing the details of their situation, the members seem to develop a sudden interest in keeping a closer eye on them both.

The Ugly: A whole new arsenal for teasing the two singers has been opened to the members, and they barely go a day without giving grief to Jongwoon and/or Kyuhyun whenever they interact.

Of course, it is all in good fun, but the fact of the matter remains that the majority of the members are not aware of the seriousness of the bad blood that had existed between Jongwoon and Kyuhyun. It is hard for either of them to laugh off their friends' jipes, the impact of the mortification still too strong for both.

Eventually, though, it passes. It soon becomes easier to ignore the embarrassment and even retort at their teasing comments.

The night Heechul spots them squeezed into the sofa along with Hyukjae, Sungmin and Ryeowook, watching reruns of a drama together, he drawls as he saunters past,

'I just really need to know: did the two of you disinfect the sofa after your special night together?'

He does not have to specify which two. Sungmin and Hyukjae snort in unison, while Ryeowook conscientiously pretends not to have heard anything. Jongwoon, however, deadpans with remarkable speed,

'If anything in this building needs disinfecting, it's your bed, Heebongie.'

Kyuhyun is equally articulate. 'How do you not give yourself STD's?'

Thankfully, Heechul is too busy laughing to actually get angry at them, and Jongwoon relaxes into the sofa, biting back a grin. Beside him, Kyuhyun is smiling slightly as well and he unassumingly leans against Jongwoon. Squeezed close together as they are, the movement is hardly discernible, but Jongwoon feels him pressing against his side; a warm, intimate touch.

And that night, he thinks that perhaps all the teasing is not such a bad thing, after all. If Kyuhyun and he can overcome the embarrassment within them, and learn to make light of their past and laugh together, and slowly become comfortable with each other's presence, each other's touch ... well, perhaps that is also a bridge to cross on the path of healing.

~***~

'Unbelievable...'

Jongwoon glances up from his lyric sheet when Kyuhyun walks into their room one night, wearing an expression that the former is recently learning to read as should-I-be-pissed-off-or-amused-I-can't-decide-somebody-help.

'Do I want to know?' asks Jongwoon, raising his eyebrows and toning down the amusement in his voice, in case Kyuhyun is deciding to go with pissed off after all. He has been finding out lately that an irritated Kyuhyun usually makes for a funny spectacle, the way he mouths off people with almost child-like indignance complete with throwing up his hands and an unwitting pout on his face. It is another aspect of Kyuhyun that actually gives him a maknae-like aura and makes him just incredibly endearing. But Jongwoon has also discovered that Kyuhyun does not appreciate having his "serious" rants, about the grievances caused by his doting idiotic hyungs, dismissed as "adorable".

Like the time he wore a thunderous scowl for nearly fifteen minutes after Jongwoon and Hangeng had roared with laughter at Kyuhyun's extremely grievous tale of how he got caught in the dangerous crossfire between Siwon, Donghae and Heechul who had taken a prank of spray-ketchup-on-thy-enemies to another level.

'It's not funny,' he had insisted as Hangeng rolled around on the sofa in his hysterics. 'I'd just come out of the shower and I was wearing a new shirt, and then they came round the corner and before I knew it, I was covered head-to-toe in ketchup, mustard, kimchi and chocolate sauce!'

Hangeng fell off the sofa, causing Jongwoon's cackling to increase a few decibels in volume.

'Why are you laughing, this is serious! Even two more showers later, the smell still wouldn't leave me!'

They had simply laughed harder.

'And when I complained to Heechul hyung later, he actually smelled and licked my neck and told me to watch my back, in case he came creeping into my room at night to have a real taste of me. I don't know how he made it sound so dirty...'

'Oh dear God,' Jongwoon heaved, clutching his stomach.

'You ... are ... so ... adorable,' added Hangeng, wheezing but still managing a wide grin at the maknae. 'Who wouldn't ... want a taste ... of that?'

Kyuhyun's responding scowl had brought a fresh wave of hysterics over the two of them. 'Why did I think I'd ever receive sympathy from anyone?' he grumbled.

'We sympathise, Kyuhyun,' said Jongwoon grinning. 'But you ranting like this is just -'

'- too damn adorable; c'mere, I want a taste of that,' finished Hangeng with a sleazy smirk.

'Congratulations, hyung, your Korean is A plus now,' Kyuhyun had said irritably before stomping away, leaving them to their giggles.

Jongwoon now schools his expression to carefully concerned while Kyuhyun flops onto his blankets beside Jongwoon's bed. With a long suffering sigh, the maknae looks up.

'So, I was visiting the hyungs upstairs on the twelfth floor,' he begins and Jongwoon eagerly settles in for what promises to be a hilarious tale, 'and we were hanging out and eating Hangeng hyung's Beijing Fried Rice -'

'You guys were eating without inviting me?!'

Kyuhyun snorts. 'You would've barely gotten anything to eat anyway, hyung, Heechul ate almost all of it. Anyway, we were hanging and suddenly the fuse blew, but everyone was too lazy to actually go fix it. So we were just sitting in darkness and Kangin hyung was suddenly like, "Let's tell two-sentence scary stories".'

'Oh?' Jongwoon raises his eyebrows, anticipating.

'Yeah, and he volunteers to go first. Guess what story he told?'

'Er ... "I open the fridge. There is no food"?' suggests Jongwoon with a smirk.

Kyuhyun stares at him for a moment and then bursts out laughing. 'Oh, I wish,' he snickers. 'That would've been a hundred times better, but no. He starts off with, "Two people are casually sleeping with each other" and then Heechul butts in -'

'Oh, no...'

'"And their names are Kim Jongwoon and Cho Kyuhyun,"' finishes Kyuhyun in a growl.

'I knew it,' says Jongwoon grouchily, rolling his eyes. 'It's been weeks, are they still harping on about us? What was Youngwoon's original story supposed to end with?'

'Apparently, it's "One of them falls in love with the other"', replies Kyuhyun in an unimpressed voice.

'I'm getting a vibe here that by "scary" stories, Youngwoon implied a whole other thing...'

'Yeah, I was disappointed. But then he said he liked Heechul's version more. And then it got even better -'

'Oh, no,' groans Jongwoon again.

'Donghae hyung jumped in with "Jongwoon hyung and Kyuhyun sitting in a tree. You wish they were only just kissing." Ugh, Donghae's innocent act is simply a very clever deception, hyung, I'm telling you.'

'Are you sure you misheard Youngwoon and it was actually "sexy" stories and not "scary"?' Jongwoon comments lightly, forcing himself to ignore the rising heat around his collar. Kyuhyun rolls his eyes at him.

'Want to hear the next one?'

'Would I be able to sleep tonight afterwards?'

'You tell me. It was Hangeng hyung's story.'

'Oh, hell no!'

'Oh, hell yes,' says Kyuhyun grimly. 'You wouldn't believe what he said.'

'Considering the people we're talking about, I probably can. I don't want to hear this one.'

'Yes, you will, because I had to hear it and I refuse to suffer alone. He said "Yesung and Kyuhyun release a porno. It's titled Maknae my way to Ye Sex".'

Silence falls for a total of three seconds, with Kyuhyun's face steadily colouring redder as he forces himself to keep gazing into Jongwoon's eyes, accomplished with pure obstinacy. Jongwoon can only gawk back, mouth hanging open.

'What. The. Hell. What the actual ... That is the most unbelievable, horrible, ridiculous, dirtiest pun I've ever heard in my entire life!' exclaims Jongwoon, his cheeks so hot it almost hurt. 'I'm not sure it even qualifies as a pun, it's so bad!'

'Dirtiest doesn't even come close, hyung; you didn't hear the way Hangeng hyung actually said it -'

'Nor do I need to! Don't you even dare think of -'

'I wouldn't,' mumbles Kyuhyun, the humiliation he has been suppressing suddenly bursting out forth. He ducks his head, his face flaming. 'It was ... fairly traumatising. That was the point when I actually left.'

'I would've left from Kangin's first story itself...'

'I wish I had. Kangin hyung also followed me to the door as I was leaving -'

'No, no more stories,' groans Jongwoon.

'- and yelled loud enough for the entire corridor to hear, "Keep your doors locked tight, none of us wants to walk in on a horror film",' finishes Kyuhyun.

Jongwoon fingers the edge of his lyric sheet. 'If you ever conspire to murder them, be sure to let me in on it.'

Kyuhyun laughs, his face still flushed. 'Oh, definitely. I like the idea of torture more, though.'

'Oh, yes! How do you want it?,' asks Jongwoon, following along with playful enthusiasm. 'The Hannibal method? Or find out their worst fears and make them happen?'

'According to tonight's scary stories, their worst fears are seeing us having sex -' Kyuhyun stops with all the alarm of having spoken aloud without thinking it through.

The awkward silence that follows is hard to avoid. Jongwoon is more than prepared to forcefully laugh it off, but Kyuhyun is ducking his head again, practically oozing mortification. Several seconds of Kyuhyun avoiding his gaze later, Jongwoon decides that the best thing right now is to not analyse the situation too deeply.

'We should leave that as a last resort,' he speaks up would-be lightly, trying to prompt Kyuhyun out of his awkwardness. 'I'd rather not have sex with anybody just to give nightmares to the bunch of idiots we call brothers. That's such an insult ... to sex.'

At his rather poor attempt at a joke, Kyuhyun gives a wane chuckle. 'Eh, yeah ... sex should be a bit more sacred than that.'

Jongwoon gives a small chuckle. 'Sacred? That's the first time I've heard sex being described as holy.'

Kyuhyun is finally able to meet his eyes, the shyness abated. He gives him a grin. 'Do you know there are some cultures and secret cults that regard it as a highly sacred act? They actually carry it out as a ritual.'

'Well, I suppose that's one way of being pious, then,' replies Jongwoon amusedly and Kyuhyun laughs. 'I'll just stick to my own principle, thanks.'

The younger man turns to face him fully, his eyes dark and curious. 'What's that?'

'Nothing special. Just that ... I'll only sleep with someone I'm wholly committed to.' Jongwoon shrugs. 'I'm not really the sleeping around type; no disrespect to them, though...'

'Oh...' Kyuhyun appears to be chewing it over, a thoughtful look on his face.

Jongwoon arches an eyebrow quizzically. 'Why'd you ask anyway? What's your principle? If you have one...'

Kyuhyun hesitates, biting his lip. 'I guess ... it's the same as yours,' he finally ventures, meeting Jongwoon's gaze with a grave seriousness that hangs heavily on his words. 'I'll only sleep with someone I'm completely in love with.'

'Has that ever happened for you yet?' Jongwoon finds himself asking. His pulse quickens, a strange feeling settling in his gut as he anticipates Kyuhyun's answer.

There is unnerving silence for a few seconds. Hesitation and uncertainly are written all over Kyuhyun. Finally, 'What about you, hyung? It ever happened for you?' He looks almost nervous as he waits for Jongwoon's reply.

With a lurch in the pit of his stomach, Jongwoon thinks back to earlier times ... the times with her and the blissful months he had spent, so utterly convinced of his happiness in his naive teenage years ... the times before he had found out he was merely a side dish, before his heart was so cruelly betrayed ...

And then he focusses on Kyuhyun, who is apprehensive and intense as he stares at Jongwoon, still waiting.

'Ask me again later,' says Jongwoon at last. He uncurls his fingers, only now realising that he has been crushing his lyric sheet in his fist.

Kyuhyun's face falls slightly. 'When?'

'The day you give me your answer to that question as well.'

Kyuhyun gazes at him again, in that piercing way of his and, this time, Jongwoon looks back unflinchingly.

'Alright,' the maknae says at last. And then, so quietly that it may have been a breath of wind, 'I think you already know, though...'

Jongwoon hears, though, his sensitive ears picking up the words clearly. He carefully averts his eyes back to the lyric sheet and pretends he has not. Kyuhyun looks relieved.

~***~

Two nights later, Jongwoon finally gets the courage to speak up about a certain topic he has wanted to but not been able to bring up ever since their night of closure on the living room sofa.

He is sitting crosslegged on his bed, dressed in his pyjamas and waiting, when Kyuhyun comes back to the room after his pre-sleep ablutions. The maknae closes the door and switches off the light with a sleepy yawn, mumbles a weary 'Good night, hyung' and prepares to literally fall on top of his blankets.

Jongwoon takes a deep breath. 'It's chilly these nights.'

Kyuhyun blinks sleepily at him, kneeling on his blankets. 'Yeah ... you want an extra quilt, hyung? There are -' he yawns - 'some in the closet.'

'No, I mean ...' Jongwoon fidgets a little, wringing his hands together. 'You might catch a cold. It's not a good idea to sleep on the floor, you know? '

'Hmm?'

'... Sleep up here, on the bed.'

All traces of sleep vanish from Kyuhyun's face. He kneels upright, gaping at Jongwoon.

'I ... uh ...' Jongwoon clears his throat self-consciously. 'I've been meaning to talk to you about it. We could, you know, rotate the bed and blankets between us. I could sleep down there and you up here on one night, and then switch the next night and ... you know, alternate?'

Kyuhyun is still looking at him, wide-eyed and trying to process what he has just heard.

Jongwoon's sheepishness increase. 'It's ... not a big deal. Sleep up here tonight. I'll take the blankets.'

'No,' says the younger man at last. 'No ... I don't want to take the bed from you, hyung.'

'It's really nothing -'

'No, I don't want that, hyung,' repeats Kyuhyun stubbornly.

'Well, I don't exactly want you sleeping down there for the rest of the foreseeable future, either,' retorts Jongwoon.

They glare pigheadedly at each other, neither backing down. And then the obvious solution comes to Jongwoon and he flushes down to his neck.

He hangs back for a second, inexplicably shy about what he is considering to offer. But upon seeing Kyuhyun preparing to lie down on the blankets again, he acts. Scooting to one side of the bed, he lifts up the corner of his comforter in invitation and waits.

For the second time that night, Kyuhyun gapes at him, speechless.

As the silence lengthens, Jongwoon gestures to the empty space beside him with a tilt of his head and says, without looking at Kyuhyun, 'Well, are you coming up or not? My arm's getting tired.'

'You ... you really mean it?' The veiled hope in Kyuhyun's voice is so prominent it is almost tangible.

Jongwoon is on the verge of giving a sarcastic reply when he is reminded, again, that Kyuhyun has more than enough reason to be so incredulous, so cautious of what Jongwoon is offering him. He swallows the sudden lump in his throat and answers, quiet and sincere,

'Yes. Sleep up here with me. There's enough room.'

Kyuhyun's movements are jerky and almost clumsy as he slowly gets into bed beside Jongwoon, pulling the comforter uncertainly over him. They lie together side by side with their shoulders touching, facing the ceiling and breathing slow and shallow. In these quiet moments, Jongwoon knows with the certainty of the sun rising in the east that Kyuhyun is currently nursing the same memories that he is.

After a long time, the maknae intones quietly, 'Thanks, hyung...'

'You have nothing to thank me for,' murmurs Jongwoon back. This is something I should've offered from the very beginning. Why are you thanking me, I should be apologising instead...

They lapse into silence for a while again, before Kyuhyun suddenly says, a hint of a grin in his voice, 'Hey, hyung ... shouldn't we lock our room?'

It takes a moment for Jongwoon's brain to compute. He snorts. 'If the members can't stomach the sight of us "sleeping together", then that's their nightmare and not my problem.'

Kyuhyun chuckles appreciatively and turns on his side so that he is facing Jongwoon. 'They'd get nightmares ... and more ammo to tease us to Hell and back.'

Jongwoon smiles at him, feeling sleep tug at his eyelids. 'Embarrassing as their teasing is, I think I'm quite immune to it by now.'

He closes his eyes, waiting for the sweet oblivion of sleep. He feels Kyuhyun edge closer and lie against his right arm.

'You know, hyung, I'm so flattered ...' Kyuhyun's voice is carrying that hint of mischief again.

'Why?'

'You're so committed to me that you're sleeping with me?' His soft laughter ripples through the quiet night air.

'And you're so in love with me that you're sleeping with me,' Jongwoon deadpans without bothering to open his eyes.

That shut up Kyuhyun good. Lips twitching in victory, Jongwoon turns on his side and blindly reaches out and pats the maknae's cheek. 'Go to sleep now, Kyu ... Night.'

Kyuhyun does not speak again, but he reaches for Jongwoon's hand on his cheek and entwines their fingers together. Jongwoon falls asleep with the warmth of Kyuhyun's skin on his palm, and the smell of his hair in his nose.

~***~

He wakes up at dawn with an armful of Kyuhyun. Blinking the sleep from his eyes, he looks down and finds Kyuhyun's head resting on his shoulder and his arm wrapped around Jongwoon's waist. He looks calm and peaceful in the early morning light and Jongwoon finds himself smiling at the serene sight.

Burying his nose in Kyuhyun's fragrant hair, he pulls the boy closer against him and closes his eyes again.

Later that morning, Jungsu walks in on the sight of them sleeping soundly together. He spends the rest of the day bestowing unnervingly large smiles on Jongwoon and Kyuhyun, much to their confusion and alarm. They choose not to ask, however, and Jungsu tells no one the reason behind his creepy grin.

~***~

Jongwoon eventually takes the largest step on his journey to redemption and, strangely enough, it hardly involves Kyuhyun.

In fact, the people in the thick of it are almost strangers to him.

The arrival of Zhoumi and Henry.

Jongwoon has certainly seen them around the SM building and he knows that members like Hangeng and Heechul have been close to Zhoumi in the past and whatnot. However, he has never really interacted with them personally.

Until the day the news is broken to all of them that Zhoumi and Henry will be joining the Super Junior family, as part of a subunit to market to the Chinese crowd.

Everyone is gathered at one of the meeting rooms at the SM building, and Zhoumi and Henry have been pushed to the awkward spot of attention at the very front of the room, suddenly put on display to the dozen pairs of eyes fixed on them. They smile awkwardly and make their introductions, before discreetly trying to fade into the background while the SM senior official in charge of the meeting explains the plan currently in the works.

A new subunit. Super Junior - M. Certain members selected for it. Zhoumi and Henry will be part of it.

Most of it goes over Jongwoon's head, mainly because he is fixated on the two newcomers. The look in their eyes, that of nervousness and anxiety, awkwardness and shyness, and hesitance and fear ... fear of being rejected.

It is the exact same look Kyuhyun had worn all those months ago, the first time he met his Super Junior group members at the dorms.

Jongwoon's breath is knocked out of his lungs.

And he realises then that this is history on the verge of being repeated, and it all depends on his choice. Welcoming new members to the family, befriending and loving them, protecting and shielding them from the onslaught of the antis ... or locking them out. Throwing them away. Hating them. Abandoning them.

The choice is in front of him again.

~***~

After the gruelling meeting is over and Zhoumi and Henry come to the dorms, leaving the enlarged Super Junior family alone with each other at last, Jongwoon is one of the first to approach them.

Predictably, Hangeng and Heechul take the lead on personally introducing the Chinese men to the others, the four of them being already close, but Jongwoon spies the look of relief in Henry's eyes and relaxing of Zhoumi's facial muscles when the other SJ members go forward to welcome them.

Zhoumi, to Jongwoon's surprise, actually hugs him during their first introduction with all the enthusiasm of a child meeting a beloved older sibling after a long separation.

Heechul snickers and says loudly for everyone's general information, 'Wait until Zhoumi's actually comfortable around you; his hands will be all over you.'

'Hyung, please. I'm not that bad,' replies Zhoumi before shooting Jongwoon such a brilliant smile that it nearly blinds him.

'You're not,' Jongwoon assures him with a lopsided grin. 'It goes against the laws of nature for anyone to be worse than Heebongie. It's not possible.'

Zhoumi bursts out laughing and Jongwoon quickly sidesteps Heechul's threatening hands.

Henry, the youngest of them all, cannot quite hide his relief at their shows of acception. However, hailing from Canada with all its western upbringing, he appears more than content with simply a handshake.

Most of the other members, however, are very much Korean and not afraid to show it.

Jongwoon stifles a chortle at the look on Henry's face when Siwon envelopes him in a rib crushing embrace, promptly followed by a friendly slap to his butt. Henry sputters in shock, his cheeks colouring three shades of red in less than five seconds.

Inspired, Jongwoon also opts to give the boy a hug, though a more casual one than Siwon's. He also refrains from putting his hand anywhere near Henry's rear, something that the boy looks intensly relieved about when Jongwoon draws away.

'Welcome to Super Junior, Henry.' Jongwoon offers his hand and Henry takes it with a quick grin.

'Thanks, hyung,'

Jongwoon steps away from Zhoumi and Henry, allowing the others to approach the new members. As he turns away, he catches sight of Kyuhyun standing beside Donghee. His eyes are locked on Jongwoon.

When their gazes meet, Kyuhyun gives him a slow enigmatic smile, his eyes glowing with something Jongwoon cannot name.

~***~

Kyuhyun brings it up just once.

'They like you a lot.'

Taken aback, Jongwoon tears his attention away from his channel-flipping. Lowering the remote, he looks around at Kyuhyun sitting beside him on the living room sofa.

'Zhoumi hyung and Henry ... they like you very much.'

'They do?' asks Jongwoon slowly.

'Of course, they do.' Kyuhyun looks seriously at him. 'You're very nice to them...'

Where Kyuhyun is coming from becomes abruptly clear then and Jongwoon peers carefully at him, trying to weigh the situation. The younger man's expression is clear and light with not a hint of darkness or negativeness to him, but his real emotions are carefully veiled.

There is no point in beating about the bush. Jongwoon hits the nail head on.

'Because this is my second chance and I chose to do the right thing this time ... What I actually should've done with you the first time round.'

Kyuhyun's eyes widen, his breath hitching.

Jongwoon bites his lip. 'With you, I screwed up. I made all the wrong choices. But I don't want to repeat the same mistakes with Zhoumi and Henry ... I want to do what I always should have.'

At long last, Kyuhyun smiles at him, a genuine twist of happiness to his lips. 'Yeah, you are, hyung ... And I'm glad ...'

'And ... I want to do right by you, too,' adds Jongwoon in almost a whisper, casting his gaze down to his lap.

Kyuhyun moves closer to Jongwoon so that their shoulders are a hair's breath from touching. He reaches for Jongwoon's hand, still clutching the remote, and squeezes gently. 'You are, hyung ...'

'Am I doing enough?' He has never really meant to ask, but the words escape his lips before he can stop them.

There is a long pause as Kyuhyun considers, his fingers stroking over Jongwoon's knuckles. 'I think we're getting there,' he murmurs finally. 'We will get there, eventually. There's no hurry.'

'Yeah?'

'Yeah.' Kyuhyun shoots him a smile almost as brilliant as Zhoumi's.

'Alright, then ...' Jongwoon smiles back and Kyuhyun takes the remote from him and begins to flip through the channels again.

Jongwoon watches him for several seconds. Do right by you...

In that moment, Jongwoon makes the decision to take the step he has been holding out on for a very long time. It is a very small step, and one that Kyuhyun had admitted albeit indirectly to actually desiring, but Jongwoon has been too overcome with embarrassment stemming from their cold past together to actually do it. But now, he thinks it is about time he kept his word.

'I ... want you to be with me like ... how you are with all the other hyungs...'

Removing his hand from under Kyuhyun's, Jongwoon wraps his arm around the younger man's shoulders and pulls him flush against him. Kyuhyun freezes in his arms and Jongwoon takes advantage of the moment; leaning forward, he presses his lips to Kyuhyun's cheek.

Time stops around them.

He holds the gentle kiss a second longer than necessary before drawing away. Leaning back against the sofa, he revels in the beautiful flush creeping up Kyuhyun's neck and dusting his cheeks an alluring pink. Kyuhyun swallows, his eyelids fluttering.

'W-what was that?'

Jongwoon grins. 'Distracting you so I can get my remote back, of course!' He snatches the remote from Kyuhyun's limp fingers. 'Who said you're in charge of the channels?'

It takes a second, but Kyuhyun rises to the bait and soon they are playfully fighting over the remote and TV. It ends with one of them - Jongwoon is not sure which - shoving the remote control under the sofa so that they are forced to watch the channel currently on, which happens to be some music programme.

As group after group comes on to perform their songs, Kyuhyun deliberately leans into him, making himself comfortable against his side. Jongwoon smiles and puts his arm around him again, pulling him even closer.

They are both still healing and their journey is long and slow with many miles yet to go.

However, Jongwoon is no longer so anxious to get to their destination. The journey itself is calling out to him, with all its ups and downs, and he settles down to enjoy his adventure with the young man in his arms.

~End~

A/N: So there we have it, the actual end of SUMR. Hope you guys enjoyed this long-as-heck epilogue as much as I did writing it :)

I know many people expected Kyuhyun's accident and Yesung's feelings on it to be part of this epilogue, so a quick word on that. I seriously did consider it, but ultimately decided against it. On one hand, the timeline of this fic (according to my plot) didn't allow for it, and on the other, Kyu's accident is a major conflict I was not comfortable with making a plot device in this fic, much alone in the epilogue! It draws attention away from the major theme of this fic and I wanted to resolve Yesung and Kyuhyun's relationship without resorting to that incident.

So, that's about it. The epilogue still leaves the essence of their relationship with an open ending, but most of the other loose ends are tied up. Feel free to interpret and imagine as wildly as you like where Yesung and Kyuhyun go from here. After all, their journey still has many miles to go :)

Thanks to everyone who supported this fic, read, commented and rec'd this. All of you mean so much to me ♥

Comments

( 5 kisses — Blow a kiss )
junnosukex3
23rd Aug, 2015 09:07 (UTC)
That was a wonderful epilogue !
Fun and sweet ^^

I'm kind of glad you didn't use the accident because my poor little heart wouldn't have born it !

I like the way it ends, without too much information about their future relationship. It's up to our imagination and it's nice !

Thanks for this story !
bookworm83197
24th Aug, 2015 07:04 (UTC)
Yay, you finished the story! ^^
I think I found LiveJournal around the time that chapter 2 came out, haha. XD Your writing is always so amazing and your characters are always so well-written :)
Thank you for finishing this story! ^^
sparksfly7
26th Aug, 2015 06:07 (UTC)
Aww this was really sweet, thanks for writing and posting it! I opened the link for Ch 6 and--wow, it's been a really long time, haha. I didn't even realize.

I like how all the members gang up on them to tease them. It may be embarrassing for Jongwoon and Kyuhyun, but you can tell how relieved and happy the other guys are that they have a good relationship now. And Jungsoo being this proud parental figure is so cute. Also, I like what you did with the Super Junior-M members and Jongwoon not wanting to make the same mistake. I think it's good that you didn't use the accident because, like you said, it deviates from the direction of this fic.

Jongwoon and Kyuhyun have come so far, it's almost unbelievable. But you did it in a very believable and realistic way. Kudos to you for finishing off such a great fic!
allspecialsmile
26th Aug, 2015 10:43 (UTC)
OH. MY. GOD. ARVY.

I wasn't expecting this. It's been a while since I've read Stranger Under My Roof and I remember it was super angsty and and and YOU KILLED ME WITH THAT EPILOGUE OMG. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I was with a friend when I read it and I couldn't stop giggling and she was like "what the fuck". This epilogue was so cute and so funny, and after all this angst I was finally happy to see them so comfortable and happy with each other. No really, it was such a great way to end such a great fanfic.

'No ... it's been a while since I realised it,' Jongwoon admits bluntly.
--> goodbye.

And the teasing OH MY GOD. THE OTHER MEMBERS. KIM HEECHUL XDDD I loved every part of thoses scenes. I wanted to laugh like them but I was feeling embarrassed like KyuSung at the same time, it was so weird.

'You have nothing to thank me for,' murmurs Jongwoon back. This is something I should've offered from the very beginning. Why are you thanking me, I should be apologising instead...
--> and then Estelle started crying

Henry and Zhoumi ;;

Aaaw, the end. Just...perfect. I have to say THANK YOU for this amazing fanfiction Arvy ♥
This is the 3rd time I'm reading this epilogue but I really should read all of this again xD I'm sure it's going to bring back memories, I'm almost too scared to start again. It makes me miss the old days, you know ? When we used to talk with Nana. We were such a great OT3 D: and it reminds me of all the old KyuSung moments too...

Aaaah sorry, I'm talking nonsense xD and this is the first comment I'm writing for ages and I don't know how to english anymore. Forgive me ;-;

Once again, thank you for writing this, Arvy. SUMR needed a great epilogue and you did it !! I can die happy now. I hope you'll keep writing beautiful things (did I mention I've read Speechless again, some days ago ? I'm sure I mentioned it haha), you're amazing ♥♥♥
degnoojosan
26th Aug, 2015 12:53 (UTC)
I can't with this.

Man, this story is one of my favourites in the YeKyu fandom, and having a wrapping up is sweet

a hell of a wrapping, I must add, I laughed a lot, the SJ-bullies add was by far the best, and oh
Kim HeeChul "having the subtlety and tact of a raging rhinoceros with a hernia."

Long life to Kim HeeChul

My only complain is actually a whim

we all know where they arrived at the end, but still, my voyeuristic side craved for their first /real/ kiss.

I know it's still far away in the story, so maybe it was impossible, but I got that little disapointment inside.

However, the childish part aside, the chapter is wonderful

Thank you for finishing it. You are totally asking me to read it all over once again.

(PS. I owe you the comment in the other fic... don't give up on that one either, please)
( 5 kisses — Blow a kiss )