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Fic: Deconstruction [Super Junior RPS, AU]

Title: Deconstruction
Fandom: Super Junior
Pairing: Yesung/Kyuhyun
Rating: PG13
Summary: Things change, but nothing is ever forgotten. Not when it really matters.
Notes: Sleazy jazz bar AU. For lixia84, in gratitude for the bindweed.


Deconstruction

It looks like nothing much from the outside. Not the kind of place that’d hold the attention of a casual passer-by. A steel door, dented and scuffed at the bottom, a number painted on it with a careless hand. Walls of concrete, pitted and crumbling where they meet the street. A neighbourhood of padlocked metal blinds and cobwebbed security glass and faded signs naming companies that went out of business twenty years ago.

Jongwoon resets his expectations to zero. He tries the door handle, surprised when it dips smoothly. The door swings open on oiled hinges. Inside, everything seems silent, and it’s the silence that draws him in. If there’d been noise, the honky-tonk of a piano, the slip-slide of a saxophone, the sob of vocals, he’d have turned on his heel and walked away. But silence is much more intriguing.

He steps inside, eyes adjusting to the smothering darkness. Just before the steel door swings shut behind him, he notices the brass handle set into a door of padded leather. He’s swallowed by a brief moment of oblivion before his hand is on the doorknob and he’s pushing through into the room beyond.

He stands just beyond the threshold with the padded leather door nipping at his heels. A room long rather than wide, with bare concrete walls and taped-up wires, exposed lighting rigs and air conditioning units. A uniform collection of battered tables and chairs lounge around a grand piano, its skin sleek and highly polished. A small stage intrudes into the room, with the bar tucked into the opposite corner. The stage curtains are black velvet flocked with dust, shiny and threadbare at the centre where performers have touched.

It’s not what he imagined. For the past week or so he’s been envisaging this place as fresh and clean and modern, with a big stage and a couple of bars and maybe even a mezzanine floor. That’s the impression he’d got from Sungmin, a guy he’d met at a nightclub a couple of weeks ago.

“This doesn’t look like your scene,” Sungmin had said. His expression was knowing, but he hadn’t tried to hit on Jongwoon. “You look like a man who appreciates live music, not this pre-packaged dance shit.”

Jongwoon hadn’t said anything, but neither had he moved away.

Sungmin hadn’t seemed offended by the lack of interest. He tucked a business card into the pocket of Jongwoon’s shirt. “Jazz, blues, soul... Music with a heart,” he’d said. “A heart full of pain, usually, but isn’t that why music exists—to get us through it?”

He’d slipped away into the crowd after that, leaving Jongwoon to inspect the card. Downfall, it said in English, followed by an address. No website details, no telephone number. A place that operated below the radar, a place that needed to be discreet. Jongwoon had drawn his own conclusions, began weaving flights of fancy. He’d sung in similar establishments, once. He’d sung and been lauded and adored until he’d slid quietly from his perch and been forgotten.

Curiosity, then, has brought him here. Curiosity and a sense of nostalgia, but now as he stands hesitant at the door, Jongwoon wonders if it’s a mistake, if it’s too soon.

The place is almost empty. A few men sit at the tables, chatting quietly. There’s no background music, just the hiss of static in the air. Oddly, it’s a comforting sound. Jongwoon takes off his jacket, his decision to stay more instinctive than determined. He makes his way around the room to a table close to the stage, hangs his jacket over the back of a chair, and sits down.

He feels vulnerable sitting alone at the front. Perhaps he should buy a drink. He gets to his feet, goes to the bar. A couple of guys are ordering drinks ahead of him. Jongwoon doesn’t mind waiting, especially when he realises that the bartender is Sungmin. Funny, you’d think a bartender would do something else other than sit at a bar on his night off, but maybe Sungmin was checking out the competition.

Jongwoon wonders if he’s here to do the same thing. Not that there’s a competition. Not now. Eight or nine months ago and it would have been different. Back then, he’d have snarled at the mere idea of another jazz bar, at the thought of his audience lured away by a different voice.

By ‘different’, he means ‘better’. It’s a hard thing to admit, imperfection.

Sungmin turns to him with an eyebrow flash of recognition. “Whisky?” he asks.

Jongwoon nods. “With ice.”

Sungmin frowns but tumbles a couple of ice cubes into the glass before pouring over the golden fire of The Macallan. He pushes the drink across the bar and shakes his head when Jongwoon takes out his wallet. “I can’t accept payment from a man who prefers his whisky with ice.”

Jongwoon snorts and lifts the drink in thanks. He returns to his table and nurses the whisky for a while, his gaze fixed on the ashtray in front of him. He places his drink on a stained beer mat, his sleeve catching on a tacky patch on the tabletop until he licks his fingers and scrubs the stickiness clean.

He looks around. The lighting is uneven, a bright glare in some parts of the room and patches of darkness elsewhere. The effect is hypnotic, the eye continually drawn to the light, equilibrium thrown off when one notices the creep of the surrounding shadow. Sitting beneath one of the lights as he is, Jongwoon feels simultaneously on display and protected.

At the edge of the lit areas, there’s a fade to grey that hazes the room, making the club seem otherworldly. The bare walls and exposed wires make sense now. There’s no need for decoration, not when the lighting has created such a clever illusion. There’s a kind of beauty in the deconstruction, he realises; a beauty unexpected and startling.

A young man sits at the piano and lays out sheet music. He looks over each piece then starts playing unobtrusively. He’s good. More than good. His memory is prodigious; he never again refers to the scored paper. Jongwoon listens to tunes both familiar and new and defocuses, allowing the music to seep beneath his skin.

The place starts to fill up. Jongwoon drinks half of his whisky before he gives in to the ticklish urge for a cigarette. He shakes the pack. Twelve left. He’s doing better than he thought. He puts the cigarette to his lips and lights up, draws in his breath and holds it, deep, deeper, until it’s painful.

He exhales. The smoke hurts his throat. He imagines it stroking against raw flesh. He knows the inside of his throat is fine. Several doctors have told him so, and he has to believe them; but in his imagination, he sees open wounds and scars all the way down.

The lights dim and the stage curtains swish back. A couple of singers come on, followed by three musicians. Alert to the response of the crowd around him, Jongwoon knows these performers are lesser creatures. He listens with a critical ear, registers their range and tonal quality. Throughout the show, he remains unmoved by the music, keeps his face blank and indifferent.

The lights swivel, point at the piano, and the pianist—introduced as Henry—has a solo turn. He plays a medley of Hoagy Carmichael songs, playing slow tunes fast and making tender songs violent and vice versa, until there are whoops of appreciation from the crowd and people start to bang their fists on tabletops as accompaniment. Henry’s the best thing in the place, despite being so young and so gauche. It’s at once charming and disconcerting, the comparison between his youth and skill. Jongwoon remembers how it felt to have that buoyancy of enthusiasm.

He smokes another two cigarettes, lighting each new one from the dying glow of the last. Smoke and whisky anaesthetise his throat, making it easier to resist the urge to sing. He could, if he wanted to. He could get up on that stage and take the mic and he could stun this club into silence within the space of a heartbeat. He knows he could, because that’s how it used to be.

But he doesn’t, and he curls his toes within his shoes and crosses one leg over the other to stop himself from tapping the beat.

A couple of men join him at his table. He doesn’t know them, but they smile and nod in greeting and ask permission to sit, and when he looks around, Jongwoon realises that the bar is full. Beyond the confines of the light above him, there’s a dizziness of heat and laughter, a growing wave of tension he recognises as anticipation. His curiosity, damped down by the mediocre acts so far, returns in full force. Jongwoon reaches for his drink, but it’s long gone, with not even the memory of melted ice to wet his lips.

One of the guys at the table leans over. “Ladies’ night,” he says, and his companion laughs, glances at Jongwoon as if inviting him to share the joke.

Jongwoon smiles politely. He has no idea what they’re talking about.

The lights go down again, and now he’s nervous, caught up in the thickening excitement of the audience. Jongwoon clears his throat in the stifling silence. He closes his hand around his empty glass, irritated by how easily he’s become caught up in the crowd. He almost lights another cigarette, knowing that the brief flare from the match will distract the members of the audience sitting nearby, but that would be petty, and he doesn’t need to resort to such tricks.

A sinfully good-looking man in an equally good-looking suit steps out from behind the curtains. His smile is brighter than the overhead lights, but its warmth doesn’t reach his eyes. Jongwoon is expecting some kind of cheap theatricality in the introduction of Downfall’s stars, but the good-looking man stays silent, drags it out, his gaze narrowing, and then he tugs at the curtain and snaps, “Ryeowook and Kyuhyun!”

Ryeowook comes out dressed like Dietrich in Morocco, and Jongwoon understands why his table-mate said it was ladies’ night. He’s never understood the appeal of a man dressed as a woman, but on Ryeowook it doesn’t look comical or sexy; it just looks right, as if he’s pulled on a second skin for this performance. A delicate, glass-blown honey-blond, Ryeowook wears a short glitter-beaded fringed dress with black furs swathing his shoulders. He stalks on, sliding one hand up the microphone stand with the practised touch of a courtesan. Flicking his hair from his eyes, he sings Piaf then Sondheim, slow and aching, the simplicity of emotion in the lyrics a stark contrast to the breathless knife-blade of his voice.

Jongwoon doesn’t realise he’s holding his own breath until the lights blank out, and then he’s applauding with the rest of the room, conscious of a swell of emotion running through him. His throat aches as if with unshed tears, and again he thinks of whisky, of cigarettes, of the ruin of his voice and his crushing fear.

Then the lights snap on and Kyuhyun comes out.

He’s dressed like Minnelli in Cabaret, a black backless waistcoat and black shorts and stockings and suspenders and a bowler hat perched just so, and his eyes are ringed with so much kohl that he looks dangerous rather than seductive. He looks bored, but instead of repelling the audience, they’re in the palm of his hand. Jongwoon has never seen anything like it.

And then Kyuhyun opens his mouth and sings, and every part of Jongwoon stiffens—his spine, his fingers, his cock, muscles clenching in response to the voice lifting above mere music to curl around the room like the stroke of heat through frost. Kyuhyun sings a selection of Weimar cabaret songs mixed with the more formal rigidity of Weill and Brecht, his body taking second place to his voice, a voice like a dark angel, a suffocation of feathers and a languid drawl of desire.

Jongwoon forgets his fear, forgets where he is, forgets himself. When Kyuhyun saunters down from the stage and moves between the tables, voice intimate and caressing despite the hungry anger of the lyrics, Jongwoon pushes his chair around so he can follow Kyuhyun with his gaze, so he can glut himself on that voice. He chokes on shards of jealousy when Kyuhyun drops his bowler hat on another man’s head, but he tells himself it’s not Kyuhyun that’s provoking this, it’s his voice.

Jongwoon keeps telling himself that until Kyuhyun finishes a brutal, sarcastic version of ‘What Keeps Mankind Alive’. He ends with a flourish, one foot on the chair between Jongwoon’s legs and a knowing, amused look in his eyes.

Oh, thinks Jongwoon. Oh, shit.

* * *

Ladies’ Night happens only once a month at Downfall, but Ryeowook and Kyuhyun sing twice a week, either alone or together. Jongwoon arrives early for each performance, sits at the same table, drinks expensive whisky and smokes cheap cigarettes. It would be easy to become like any other regular at the bar, easy to fade into the background, but despite his forced retirement, Jongwoon hasn’t given up on the craving for an audience. It’s not fame he wants so much as recognition, and this takes many forms. Some he’s aware of; others are unconscious, a tepid example of backing into the limelight.

He’s not sure which method attracts Kyuhyun’s attention. Come to think of it, he’s not even sure he wants Kyuhyun’s attention. He gets it regardless.

It’s late, gone three in the morning, and most of the remaining patrons are soused in whatever emotion their alcohol intake has deemed most appropriate. Jongwoon is halfway along the path to forgetfulness. His tolerance to whisky has increased since his first visit to Downfall, although sometimes he thinks it’s Kyuhyun’s voice that keeps him teetering on the right side of drunkenness. He needs to keep his focus when he listens to Kyuhyun sing; it’s important that he concentrates, and remembers, because one night, Kyuhyun might slip up, hit a wrong note, and then the spell will be broken and Jongwoon can move on.

It hasn’t happened yet, though. Maybe it’ll never happen. The thought doesn’t bother him as much as it might have done, once. Jongwoon is not about to analyse that, though. He sees little point in analysis of any kind. They made him see a shrink when his voice vanished, when he couldn’t sing anymore, and the therapy consisted of sitting in a chair fielding questions about his mother. Analysis is for the delusional, in Jongwoon’s opinion. He knows why he can’t sing. Why he doesn’t sing.

He swirls the last of the whisky around his glass. Since that first time, he’s been taking it without ice. It means he has to pay for it, of course, but Sungmin smiles at him every time he goes to the bar, and Jongwoon enjoys the approval. He swirls the whisky, gaze fixed to the tiny maelstrom at the heart of the tumbler. At this late hour, Henry has swapped jazz and blues for something classical and stately—Prokofiev, maybe—though it doesn’t seem out of place in this weary atmosphere. Jongwoon listens to the slow march of time through the music and is just about to lift the glass to his mouth when he realises he has company.

Kyuhyun is standing behind the empty chair on the opposite side of the table. He’s still in his stage costume, skin-tight leather trousers and a black vest, his arms bare, his hair tousled, lashes thick with mascara and kohl smudged into the fine laughter-lines around his eyes, though he’s not laughing now. He’s not even smiling.

“I know you.” Kyuhyun’s voice sounds husky, slightly out of breath.

Jongwoon ignores the urge to look over his shoulder in case Kyuhyun is addressing some other guy. Instead he meets that level gaze, holds it until Kyuhyun tilts his head and flicks his glance to an indistinct point somewhere to the left.

“I know you,” Kyuhyun says again, looking back at him, and this time there’s an emphasis in the second word, almost a question. He straightens his posture, hands wrapping around the back of the chair, thighs sliding together as he shifts his weight.

It would be polite to reply. Jongwoon lifts one shoulder, shrugs. “Doubt it.”

Kyuhyun’s expression dims only a little. He narrows his eyes. “Yesung,” he says. “You used to sing at 262.”

“Yeah.” Jongwoon is flattered that someone remembers him, flattered and suddenly desperate to hear more. He crushes his reaction, his old addiction, and buries it beneath indifference. “Yeah, that was me.”

Kyuhyun’s gaze sharpens at the use of past tense. “And now you are...?”

The question is delicate. Jongwoon appreciates that. “Jongwoon,” he says. “It’s what I always was. Even when I was Yesung, I was still Jongwoon.”

Silence lingers between them. Jongwoon finds it difficult to make small talk. No, not difficult. Impossible. He turns his head, embarrassment tightening his throat. Just his luck, the first time in months that a hot guy shows any interest and he can’t think of a damn thing to say. The fact that the hot guy in question sings like some sort of divine creature just makes it worse.

Kyuhyun doesn’t seem to mind the awkwardness. He pulls out the chair and perches on it sidelong, crosses one leg over the other. The leather trousers cling even tighter. Jongwoon stares, remembers the sight of Kyuhyun’s thighs in stockings, and loses his train of thought.

“You don’t sing anymore,” Kyuhyun says after another period of silence.

It’s an observation rather than a question, but perversely, Jongwoon wants to give an answer. “I lost my voice.”

Kyuhyun raises his eyebrows. “You never found it again?”

“Maybe I didn’t want to go looking for it.”

“Now why would you do that?”

Jongwoon shrugs. Looks away. Sweat prickles at the nape of his neck. His shirt collar rubs.

Kyuhyun leans forward, his elbows on the table. He gives a glistening smile. “Buy me a drink.”

“Sure.” Glad of the excuse to escape for a moment, Jongwoon gets to his feet. “What do you want?”

Kyuhyun’s gaze slides up and down Jongwoon’s body, slow and hot and deliberate. His smile widens. “Champagne.”

Jongwoon lifts an eyebrow. “Celebrating something?”

“Yes.” Kyuhyun smiles and smiles but says nothing else, just flicks his fingers in dismissal.

Sungmin looks up as Jongwoon approaches the bar. “Champagne,” he says, not a question, before Jongwoon can speak.

Jongwoon lays out his wallet. “How did you know?”

“It’s his favourite.” Sungmin tips his head towards Kyuhyun. “He’ll only accept it from certain people. The bottles are in the cellar. It’ll take a moment.”

“Certain people,” Jongwoon repeats. “What do you mean?”

Sungmin gives him an amused look, the kind of look that tells him he’s a fool. “Sit down,” Sungmin says. “I’ll bring the bottle to you.”

Jongwoon slides several notes across the bar. He returns to his table to find the sinfully good-looking MC standing behind Kyuhyun’s chair, hands on his shoulders, both of them smiling at one another in a way that suggests long and intimate acquaintance.

A different kind of jealousy patters through Jongwoon. He remains on his feet and stares in silent demand.

“Hello,” the good-looking man says. “I’m Siwon.”

“He owns this place,” Kyuhyun adds.

“Oh.” Jongwoon recalibrates his thoughts. “Right. Nice to meet you.” He pauses for too long, realises he should introduce himself, but the moment has passed. He feels awkward, an unwanted suitor at the feast.

Siwon looks Jongwoon up and down. “Enjoy your time at Downfall,” he says, his eyes very dark, his smile even darker. He lifts his hand and strokes a slow-fingered caress over Kyuhyun’s nape as he leaves.

Kyuhyun shivers, flicks a glance at Siwon’s retreating back, then switches his attention to Jongwoon. His smile is challenging. “Where’s my champagne?”

“It’s coming.” Jongwoon wishes he’d used a less ejaculatory phrase. He sits down hurriedly and crosses his legs, reaching for his cigarettes.

Watching him, Kyuhyun asks, “Are you frightened of me?”

He’s far too perceptive. Jongwoon lights a cigarette, takes a drag. “Not of you.”

There’s a moment of silence as Kyuhyun considers. “Of what I represent, then.”

“Maybe.” Jongwoon blows smoke towards him, a gentle drift of grey.

Kyuhyun opens his eyes wide, expression brittle and bright. “And what do I represent?”

Jongwoon parries the question. “Don’t you know?”

The question lies between them, dropped on the table as Sungmin arrives with the champagne. Kyuhyun sits back, eyes veiled and watchful. Sungmin thumbs the cork from the mouth with an expert touch. A whisper of escaping dreams mist from the bottle, and then Sungmin pours for them, the liquid flowing into whisky tumblers rather than champagne flutes.

Jongwoon raises his glass, takes a mouthful. The cold fizz of brut slides down his throat. He hasn’t drunk champagne in nine months. He’d forgotten its taste, its sharpness.

Kyuhyun also lifts his glass, but he doesn’t drink. He fixes his gaze on Jongwoon. “I know how I see myself. I’m asking what you see when you look at me.”

Stalling, Jongwoon takes another sip of champagne. “As a member of your audience—”

You. Not them.” Kyuhyun sits forward, puts his free hand on Jongwoon’s forearm just above the wrist. “What do you see?”

Jongwoon stares at him, runs through all the things he could say. It would be easy to tell an evasive truth: that Kyuhyun is beautiful, that he’s a good singer, a great talent, whatever. It would be easy, and he knows Kyuhyun would see right through him. Jongwoon keeps all expression from his face. He’s not going to be honest, not in the way that Kyuhyun is inviting him to be. Instead he says, “I see a hot piece of ass that I’d like to fuck.”

Kyuhyun looks startled; hurt but not offended. He puts down his glass. “I suppose that’s honesty of a sort.” He pushes back his chair and gets to his feet. “Thanks for the drink.”

Jongwoon raises his eyebrows. “You haven’t touched it.”

Kyuhyun just looks at him, long and measured, before he turns and walks away.

Regret flickers somewhere in Jongwoon’s soul. He drinks the champagne alone.

* * *

Every time he goes to Downfall, Jongwoon buys a bottle of champagne and sends it to Kyuhyun. It starts as a demonstration, a way of Jongwoon showing how little he cares, but then it becomes a habit. An expensive, futile habit, since the champagne is always returned, unopened, by Kyuhyun himself.

Kyuhyun brings the bottle to the table, his fingers leaving a heated imprint on the frosted sweat dewing the outside. The water droplets slide over the label and form a puddled ring beneath the bottle. Jongwoon drains his whisky or pours the remainder into the ashtray and fills his tumbler with champagne. He drinks while Kyuhyun watches.

Sometimes they talk at length, though it’s never on topics that really matter. Sometimes they say nothing at all. Those evenings are always the hardest, Jongwoon aware of Kyuhyun’s attention resting on his mouth, his throat, as he drinks. Kyuhyun keeps his face blank, but there’s an eroticism to it that Jongwoon finds impossible to resist. He always ends those evenings hard and aching and resentful without fully understanding why.

“You must have other admirers,” Jongwoon says one night. “Men who’d be glad to talk to you.” He realises how wrong that sounds, but Kyuhyun doesn’t take offence.

“Men who’d be glad to flatter me,” Kyuhyun corrects. He smiles. “You don’t. That’s refreshing.”

Jongwoon likes the idea that he’s refreshing. It’s something new, and he carries it around with him, thinks about it on and off, wonders if it’s always been inside him.

“What am I to you?” he asks on another occasion, peeling the wet label from the champagne bottle and smoothing it out on the table.

Kyuhyun thinks about his answer for a long time. “A challenge,” he says, voice low and intense. “A rival.”

The reply shoots a jolt of awareness, cold and sudden, into Jongwoon’s heart. It’s been a long time since he’s felt that shock of emotion. It confounds him, excites him, makes him think he’s capable of everything and nothing.

Later, he realises it’s too much like falling in love.

* * *

Ladies’ Night comes around again. Jongwoon arrives late, halfway through Ryeowook’s set, but there’s still a space waiting for him at his table near the front of the stage. He’s too late and the club is too packed for him to buy his habitual glass of whisky, but as soon as he sits down, Sungmin weaves his way through the crush and hands him a full tumbler, vanishing before Jongwoon can thank him.

Kyuhyun comes on in tight, black satin-wrapped shorts and thigh-high stockings and an almost sheer white blouse, his waist cinched in by a simple, soft black corset. His song choices are all early Aretha, more jazz and blues than soul, then he steps off the stage and stalks around the tables singing ‘Why Don’t You Do Right’ with more sex than Jessica Rabbit and more angry resignation than Julie London.

He ignores Jongwoon. Doesn’t even look in his direction.

At the end of the show, Jongwoon pushes through the crowd to the bar and orders champagne. He returns to his table and sits down.

He waits for a long time. He’s not accustomed to it, and it annoys him, terrifies him, and finally, it hurts him.

Over an hour later Kyuhyun comes out, still in his stage costume, to bring back the bottle. “You should stop doing this,” he says.

Jongwoon stares at Kyuhyun’s legs and realises the stockings are painted on, the heat of his skin smudging the delicate mesh lines on the inside of his thighs. Lust and irritation and the fear of rejection batter at him, and something inside him snaps and he says, “I can’t decide if I hate you, envy you, or just want to fuck you.”

Kyuhyun looks at him for a long moment. He exhales and sinks down into the chair opposite. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”

“Are we?” Jongwoon raises his eyebrows, spreads his fingers wide. “I rather think we’re going around in circles.”

“From my perspective, this is progress.”

Jongwoon shakes his head then indicates the champagne. “Have a drink with me.”

There’s only one glass. It’s half full of whisky. Kyuhyun picks it up and tips it onto the floor, then pops the cork from the bottle and pours a generous slug of champagne. He downs it.

Jongwoon stares at him. Tops up the glass.

Again Kyuhyun knocks it back in one. He bangs down the tumbler, gaze steady, hand unsteady. “Do I torment you?”

Jongwoon takes a swig of champagne straight from the bottle. It burns his throat, sparkling, waking dormant things. Time to be honest. “Yes,” he says. “Yes, you do.”

Kyuhyun puts his elbows on the table, folds his hands together, and leans his cheek against them. His eyes are over-bright with the kick of the alcohol. “Do you like being tormented, or is there another reason why you come here?”

“I want to sing with you.” The champagne is doing the talking, Jongwoon thinks. The champagne and the whisky and the mess of his emotions are all conspiring against him, but at the same time he feels a sense of freedom greater than anything he’s felt in the past ten months. He keeps on talking. “I hate your voice. I love your voice. I hate that you can sing. I hate that I can’t—or rather, I can, but I have no reason to sing. I love that you make me want to sing again. I hate you for the same reason.”

“That’s a lot of hate,” Kyuhyun coaxes the bottle from him and pours out a little more champagne, “and not enough love.”

“Aren’t they almost the same thing?” Jongwoon retrieves the bottle, takes a long swig. “I love your voice so much, I want to destroy it. I want to obliterate your vocals with my own.”

“Just like you want to fuck me into the ground,” Kyuhyun says, and there’s amusement in his eyes, the suggestion of a smile on his lips.

Jongwoon takes a steadying breath. “Like I want to fuck you into oblivion.”

Kyuhyun’s smile grows, hot and dazzling.

It’s distracting, unbalancing. Jongwoon keeps talking. “I’m not jealous of Ryeowook. How could I be? His voice isn’t anywhere near my range.”

“You’re not near mine,” Kyuhyun says, still smiling, gentle and knowing. “Technically.”

“We’re closer,” Jongwoon says. “Technically.”

Kyuhyun puts down his glass. Leans forward. “How close?”

Jongwoon drops his gaze to Kyuhyun’s mouth. “Too close. We would suffocate each other. Drown one another.”

“I don’t think so.” Kyuhyun gets to his feet, holds out his hands. “But maybe you should try it. Prove it. Kill my voice. Obliterate me, and I’m yours.”

Jongwoon stares at him. His throat closes up. He knows he can’t sing, it’s not that simple, but the sparkle of the champagne and the slide of whisky and the promise in Kyuhyun’s eyes is enough to make him stand and move towards the stage.

Kyuhyun twines his fingers around Jongwoon’s. He nods to Henry, who breaks off from another variation on a Russian piano concerto and thumps out a familiar melody.

“You know it?” Kyuhyun asks.

“Cole Porter,” Jongwoon says. “‘Let’s Do It’.”

“‘Let’s Fall In Love’,” Kyuhyun finishes. “Ready?”

Jongwoon hesitates halfway across the stage. He’s not ready, but at the same time he’s been waiting for this moment for ten months, waiting to shed his fear and recover his voice. His hand slips from Kyuhyun’s grasp and he looks out past the lights into the darkness, into the crowd. They look back at him, waiting to be entertained, and something unfurls inside him and climbs his throat. Before he knows it, he’s singing, a formless tune at first, a rumbling growl beneath the words Kyuhyun sings, and then when Kyuhyun leans against him, sharing the mic, Jongwoon takes it and lets out all the emotion he’s been holding back.

They sing the song twice before Jongwoon realises their voices are evenly matched, before he realises they complement one another. It would be a crime to destroy this, a crime he’s no longer willing to commit. He sings full-throated, and it’s only when he’s on the third repeat, slowed-down and smoky with raw passion, that he realises he’s singing alone.

The song ends. Applause shatters the brief moment of silence in the aftermath, and then people are on their feet, cheering and shouting for more. Jongwoon stands there startled, letting himself feel again, allowing the acclamation to penetrate once more and seep under his skin, covering him in glory. He looks around, sees Sungmin leaning against the bar, Henry grinning at the piano, Siwon watching from the floor with a calculated smile.

Kyuhyun breaks off from applauding, takes the mic and calls out, “Let’s give it up for Yesung!”

This is who he is. This is where he belongs. Exultation running through his blood like champagne, Jongwoon puts an arm around Kyuhyun and kisses him to the roar of the crowd.


Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
dislex1a
Dec. 27th, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
(Apologies for taking so long to comment on this; I've been out the whole day and haven't really had the chance to sit down and read until now.)

sdflsjfll I LOVE THIS SO MUCH, THANK YOU! I know the piano bar AU was another throwaway idea on one of our comment marathons, but the way that you've constructed this is just brilliantly evocative, and thanks for managing to ping so many of my kinks in the one story!

There's so much here to pick apart and love, but I especially like the characterisation of Yesung as being so world weary without knowing the exact reason why he decided to stop singing. I'm not sure if that's something that you're going to explore later (as with the Shanghai AU, just a few mentions here and there serve to conjure up images that hint at so much more and they're so intriguing!), but it gives that extra layer of depth to his personality. He and Kyu are so alike in certain ways (the way that they carry themselves with that sort of aloof manner, for instance), but have just enough differences between them for that spark of attraction to work so beautifully well with the shifting power dynamics.

Speaking of which: guh, Kyu. I love how he's so mysterious and beautiful, and yet challenging to Yesung's tired cynicism and practised indifference. Like he really understands what Yesung's about and wants to probe at the deeper reasons for why Yesung stopped singing. That, and the way they so obviously lust after each other physically, whilst still being aware of how their voices compare and being competitive about that, is what makes their relationship really intriguing in this fic. I can feel that tension (both physical and mental) and it really makes the whole story come alive that much more, and the final scene, with Yesung finally overcoming his fears with Kyu's help and then claiming Kyu so publicly, really helped to tie everything together.

And yes. OMG Kyu thighs! So much love for Kyu thighs. Especially the thought of those fishnets being painted on his skin. *dies* Can I please have that job???? Not to mention the whole Minnelli comparison, which is sofuckinghot. XD

Also, the supporting players in this were wonderfully sketched out as well! Min as the bartender who thinks he's seen it all (LOL at him being so sassy about having ice cubes in whisky), Henry the talented pianist, Wookie wearing that short dress! And Siwon as the bar owner! dsdflsfjl I HOPE HE HAS A DATE WITH SILVER SUITED MIMI SOON!

Really, I loved this so, so much. I could go on, but I would probably sound even more incoherent. Thank you so much!!! <3<3<3 (Also, is this a series now?? EEEEE)
glitterburn
Dec. 27th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
Yay, glad you liked it! \o/ Thank you :D

I have been thinking of the Sleazy Jazz Bar AU for quite a long time now so it was fun to finally be able to sit down and write it. For all of Yesung's dorkiness I kind of see him as someone who could be very easily wounded and cynical as a result, and Kyu here is someone who's curious and keeps on pushing for an answer, especially when he recognises a kindred spirit. As you said, they both have that spark and aloofness.

HAHA Kyu thighs XD I was thinking of that comment you made ages ago about Kyu wearing thigh-highs and a white shirt, so he kind of borrowed Yunho's 'Before You Go' corset (before it got wet LOL) with more of a flouncy top for the second outfit :p I thought painted-on stockings might work rather well as a visual, especially once the paint started smudging XD I'm sure Yesung is going to end up with mucky fingers ;)

Bah, only barbarians take their whisky with ice!

Well, you already know that Wookie ends up on top of that piano XD That ridiculous dream I had! Which has now been adapted to WookWonRy. SiWookHen. Whatever. Also in this series, Hae(Hyuk)Min and of course WonMi :p Siwon seems vaguely sinister in this, or at least rather puppet-master-ish, so I'll see where that takes me. And yep, it's a series, though in a similar way to Shanghai in that the stories are standalone snapshots within the one setting, though each story will overlap in some way (so you'll find out why Yesung lost his voice, etc). Unlike Shanghai, however, I'm not planning on there being an end-point to which all these fics move - it's more a series of character studies/random PWPs that I can dip in and out of as and when... because clearly I don't have enough fics planned for next year, OMGWTFBBQLMAO XD
dislex1a
Dec. 27th, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
LOL I knew I'd seen that corset somewhere. Maybe Kyu could substitute the flouncy Musketeers shirt for that top ;P

Guh. Dirty Yesung dangling a post-coital cigarette between his mucky fingers. *chews on fist*

WookWonRy. SiWookHen. Whatever. Also in this series, Hae(Hyuk)Min and of course WonMi :p Siwon seems vaguely sinister in this, or at least rather puppet-master-ish, so I'll see where that takes me.

Eeee. Morally ambiguous Siwon is definitely not explored enough in fic, so I am excited about SiWookHen for that reason alone, and then you mention WonMi, which could be even more deliciously angsty. AND! Hae(Hyuk)Min might possibly be the death of me. I like this AU very, very much already (as if you needed me fangirling more AU fics, but still!) XD *still flailing*
dreaminginside
Dec. 27th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
Can I just flail at you? Because this was absolutely fantastic and I lack the proper words to comment intelligently and say anything correctly anymore. ;A;

I adore the style you wrote this in, and the characters, just everything really and oh just so many things. Jongwoon's cynicism and the way Kyuhyun coaxes back his voice and is like a foil and a kindred spirit at the same time and their bantering, and Jongwoon is really just so suited to sleazy and dark bars, I love the image so much :'D I also love the other character's that just kind of slide in with the theme, Ryeowook and Sungmin and Henry and everything just fits so well, uwah (And I might have a bit of a thing for cross dressing, mmm Ryeowook and Kyuhyun in painted thigh highs XD). And the end was just so perfect too, can I just ;dsijlgads;po;lgkjs;odphk? So much I'd like to say but I'm really lacking the coherence, I'm sorry! XD But this was really wonderful, it's a beautiful piece! :'D
glitterburn
Dec. 29th, 2011 09:38 am (UTC)
Thank you! Ever since I first paid attention to all of SuJu (rather than SJM), I thought Yesung had a proper whisky-soaked voice. Alas that he doesn't get to lounge around in sleazy jazz bars for real with dolled-up Ryeowook and Kyu, but hey, fic :D Thank you again for commenting <3
snow_meow
Dec. 28th, 2011 01:37 am (UTC)
I find this fic interesting.
The plot and the characterization of Yesung.
glitterburn
Dec. 29th, 2011 09:38 am (UTC)
Thank you ^^
stelra_etnae
Dec. 28th, 2011 08:14 am (UTC)
Wow.
Your writing style is really good. I was totally drawn into the whole atmosphere of the story. There's a sizzling yet subtle chemistry between Kyuhyun and Yesung. Nice.
Awesome story! I'll be looking forward to the other stories in this series!
glitterburn
Dec. 29th, 2011 09:39 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, glad you enjoyed! :D
phoenix_soar
Dec. 28th, 2011 10:05 am (UTC)
Oh gosh oh gosh I think a good chunk of my brain just died from the awesomesauce of this fic. AKHFJSDH SHIT BEST YEKYU FIC I'VE READ IN A LONG TIME D: XD

Seriously, you had me at "Sleazy jazz bar AU" xD
Your characterization of Yesung is very refreshing and intriguing. I love how jaded and cynical he is, especially when he was listening to the first few performances and how unmoved he was. Though why he stopped singing was never explained, I think it adds a bit more edge to this fic and his pursuit for a reason to sing again. Jongwoon was gorgeous here.

And your Kyuhyun is brilliantly alluring. I love how darkly enigmatic you made him, and just undeniably sexy in a subtle sort of way. Kyuhyun and Jongwoon seemed really on par with each other, the way both of them posed a challenge, a rival to each other, but were also undeniably attracted. The lust between them and the chemistry was really well done, it totally drew me in.

Overall, the setting of this fic - ME GUSTA. I don't know what it is about a sleazy jazz bar lol, but it works wonders. And omg I loved the way you described the atmosphere of Downfall - the dark, hazy beauty brought together by the uneven lighting and the bare walls etc. I could picture everything so clearly.

Bartender!Sungmin is WIN xD And Wookie in a dress is forever win and of course Henry is the music prodigy xD (Btw, I adored every single one of the KyuWook costumes you described xD /dead)

The ending <-- *flails forever*
It is brilliant with just the right amount of sweetness. How Kyuhyun was able to dig back up Yesung's incentive to sing, the on-looking crowd, Jongwoon's emotions - perfect, my dear, just perfect!
And of course the PDA lulz xD

I honestly can't think of enough words to describe how wonderful I think this fic is, but this is just amazing! I loved it
glitterburn
Dec. 29th, 2011 09:47 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for your lovely comment! :D Sleazy jazz bars are awesome LOL I'm glad you liked Yesung here - with all his eyeliner on and his hair in his eyes and that snakeskin jacket he wore towards the end of the 5jib stages, he looked like he belonged in a jazz bar. And I'm really happy you could imagine the scene, sometimes I get these images stuck in my head and they're so clear... they usually make for atmospheric fics, so I'm glad it worked for you!

Thank you again!!!
thundersquall
Dec. 28th, 2011 12:05 pm (UTC)
oh my god. this was brilliant and stunning and perfect! you have such a lush and sensual way with words. i particularly enjoyed the banter between yesung and kyu - it was flirtatious and sexy with a great touch of humour.

it's been ages since i've read a good yekyu fic and omg i love them so much (also sobs at ryeowook's cameo fkjhkds) ;; i might also be a little bit in love with you after this! memming, thank you for writing this, i LOVE it ♥ just amazing.
thundersquall
Dec. 28th, 2011 12:08 pm (UTC)
need to also add: i have such a kink for yesung smoking, sobs ;; despite all the ~health issues and shit it would do to his voice, reading about it or visualising it just makes me go hnnnngggghhh *____* SERIOUSLY OKAY THIS MAN IS TOO SEXY TO EXIST AND YOU NEED TO WRITE HIM ALL SEXY LIKE THIS MORE. D:
glitterburn
Dec. 29th, 2011 09:51 am (UTC)
OMG thank you, I am so flattered by your kind comments! Also haha I have a thing for guys who smoke too, even though it's bad and they taste disgusting, but visually/fictionally... oh yeah XD Yesung and his cigs will definitely make a return in this series, hehe. Thank you again!
leorizanzel
Dec. 30th, 2011 07:31 am (UTC)
I almost don't know what to say; I just love this fic to death. ;~; The whole sleazy jazz bar thing is just perfect and Sungmin being the expert sommelier he is as the bartender is wonderful and Ryeowook and Kyuhyun in drag cabaret just akdfj;aklgja;digkj;agl;. (I flailed so hard imagining Kyuhyun dressed up like Liza Minelli like you don't even know.) I can just imagine Yesung's voice being all smoke-laced and whiskey-soaked, too. Please tell me there's more.
glitterburn
Dec. 30th, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your awesome comment :D There will be more, yes - Sungmin will get his own fic. Bartenders know lots of secrets and hear a lot of talk, heheh.
moeruze_burning
Jan. 9th, 2012 05:05 am (UTC)
This is really gorgeous and a beautiful AU and I love love love the thought of ladies night (and Yesung fucking Kyuhyun into oblivion). I got nice and lost in this for a little while.
glitterburn
Jan. 9th, 2012 08:39 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you liked the atmosphere :)
acornmama
Feb. 19th, 2012 05:21 am (UTC)
I officially love you.
Beyond the fact that it was Yesung and Kyuhyun. Beyond the fact that it was raw and honest... it was Cole Porter... No No even better it was "Let's Fall In Love" Arguably my very favorite song ever. Arguably because the only competition is "Baby, It's Cold Outside"

Ella's version of "Let's Fall In Love" beats them all. But, if ever there was a song that I would want Kyuhyun or Yesung to sing it would be this one. They are at the top of a short list of beautiful singers who I know could/would make it come alive...: Dae Sung of Big Bang; Na Eul or any member really of Brown Eyed Soul and a few others, these are off the top of my head.

As you can tell that made the whole thing for me.
kamerer220
Feb. 26th, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
The imagery in this is awesome. I would pay to hear Kyu and Yesung sing Cole Porter.
kamerer220
Feb. 26th, 2012 05:01 pm (UTC)
Night and Day would be awesome. It is my favorite Cole Porter.
glitterburn
Feb. 26th, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Cole Porter wrote some amazing songs, and they would fit Kyu and Yesung's voices so well. Plus Sondheim for Ryeowook, technical and layered. KRY should do a tour of sleazy jazz bars for real XD
n3uromanc3r
Jun. 16th, 2013 04:03 pm (UTC)
I liked the story and the music, the setting, the whole atmosphere - and all those different emotions Kyuhyun's presence, his talent, his voice, his arrogance aroused in Jongwoon to finally pull him out of this lethargic state at the end!

It was really beautiful, thank you!
glitterburn
Jun. 17th, 2013 06:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! I always thought Yesung had a voice suited to sleazy jazz bars, he sounds so smoky. And though I don't like Kyu, I enjoyed writing him here ^^
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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