Band of Brothers
jonghun/hongki; pg; 2,575 words.
F.T Island isn’t the best dance group, but they definitely try.
note: originally posted here for firequakes
jonghun/hongki; pg; 2,575 words.
F.T Island isn’t the best dance group, but they definitely try.
note: originally posted here for firequakes
F.T Island was by no means the most popular boy group in Korea. Their dances were usually half assed, the only one with any sort of outstanding voice was Hongki, although Jaejin was good. The only scandal they’d ever had was when Wonbin left, and netizens thought that his “Musical Differences” really meant “He disliked Hongki.” The rumors died out when Seunghyun appeared and smiled for the camera, and Hongki and Wonbin still talked.
The practice room was smoldering even in the middle of winter, making Jonghun’s hair stick to the back of his neck. He layed on the floor, trying to remember how to breathe without feeling like there was a fire in his chest, and Seunghyun wasted no time in falling on him.
“Ugh, I hate this dance,” Hongki sighed, dropping down on the ground and reaching for a water bottle and peeling off the cap. “I hate this song, too.” He paused his barrage of complaints to take a long drink. Jonghun watched his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed, and licked his lips. He needed water, too, but it was too far away.
“Hyung, you don’t even have to dance that much,” Minhwan said, wiping the back of his neck with a towel. “You have all the adlibs, so you just stand there.”
“Because I’m the best,” Hongki preened. Jaejin scoffed.
“The worst dancer ever though,” he placed his hands on his hips. “Can we get this down, though? I’m starving.”
“I’m the leader,” Jonghun whined. “I call a ten minute break.”
“You’re just mad because you just realized that you have two left feet.” Hongki laughed, and dumped the rest of his waterbottle over his head. The manager returned then, saw them on the floor, and kicked them back into action.
“Come on boys, get with it. You comeback in two days.”
They heaved themselves to their feet to start the routine again. The back beat started, and they fell into action. It was a routine of memorized leg pumps, sweeping arm motions, knee jerks, and hip thrusts. It was nothing the industry hadn’t seen before, and that was why it was going to work out so well.
Except when Hongki slid by him on floor, slid by him and turned. Sweat made his black tank-top stick to his lower back. His skin glistened in the lights. Time froze, for just one moment, as Hongki looked at his own reflection in the mirror and belted out his note. It was just one moment, but it was long enough for Minhwan to whirl around into the next movement and smack him in the head. He stumbled sideways, fell into Jaejin, dropped onto one knee, and took a deep breath.
“Come on, Jonghun, every time.” The group heaved a collective sigh. “It’s not even that hard.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what it is,” he sighed and dragged himself to his feet. “Lets to it again.”
He forced himself to look away, to look at his footwork, and that’s the only way he’d ever been able to dance. The only time he couldn’t, was whenever he broke concentration, and he only broke concentration when he looked at Hongki.
It was a problem. During interviews, Hongki did the talking. During variety shows, Hongki and Seunghyun did the funny things. Minhwan was the cute magnae, Jaejin was the cool, collective center, and Jonghun was the leader. The awful, leader with the autotuned lines because he couldn’t sing.
What he could do, what he wanted to do, was play guitar. He had an old beat up acoustic that still held a tune, and sometimes he brought it out and played it on shows. On dating shows, guitar was his biggest asset. He thought himself a charmer, he thought himself sexy, but girls thought he was too awkward. Maybe he was, maybe that was the problem.
His real problem, presented itself to him in the morning, when Hongki wandered into his dorm room without a shirt and gave Jonghun a very clear view of his body, the fine muscles that weren’t too large but weren’t exactly tiny, either. Hongki’s muscles moved fluidly up his back, working under his skin as he picked up a shirt and slipped it on. He realized he was staring and glanced at the alarm clock on the desk, flipped the covers off and sat up.
“I hate mornings,” Hongki whined, dragging a sweater over his head.
“They’re not too bad,” Jonghun said, swinging his legs over the side and standing up. His legs burned, a familiar ache from so much dancing.
“Whatever you say,” Hongki snorted, swiping Jonghun’s deodorant off the dresser and using it.
“Do you ever get the feeling that we’re not supposed to be dance idols?” Jaejin asked, watching himself in the mirror as he stretched. “Like we should be doing something else?”
Jonghun reached his fingers towards his toes. His muscles burned and spasmed until they gave and loosened. “Like what?”
“I don’t know,” Jaejin shrugged. Jonghun could tell from the way he jerked his head back while he worked a knot out of his shoulder, that he knew exactly. “We should be making our own music, not doing what everyone else wants.”
Jonghun laughed, but it wasn’t funny. “I know what you mean, but this is our contract.” He twisted his body around and rocked back on his hip to keep balance. “As long as we do what they say, we can be idols. Rockbands don’t do well in Korea, it’s too much of a financial risk.”
Jaejin got to his feet, shaking out his arms. “I know, but we could go to Japan, or something. Start our own band, make our own music, be real musicians, you know?”
Jonghun followed him to his feet. “We could also be forgotten, lose our fanbase, get stranded in a foreign country.” He stretched his arms skyward. “As much as I’d want to, it’ll never happen.” He glanced at the door as the other three members of the group came in. Minhwan carrying the radio and mics, Hongki a bag of snacks, and Seunghyun a case of water. “Come on, let’s practice.”
Jonghun felt whole when he played the guitar or when he played the piano. He was nicknamed music-man because he was always, always surrounded by it. He grew up playing piano, got into the company because he had learned how to play guitar and could sing and play at the same time. He composed his own songs and wrote his own lyrics, but they stayed hidden in a box in the closet or stored in a folder on his laptop.
He wasn’t ready for a comeback. Their music video had been filmed in the usual neon lights and fashion-line outfits, thirty-four hours of no sleep and singing in silence to microphones, doing dance steps over and over in a freezing warehouse. The photography was all in black in white and suits.
“What’s our concept?” Seunghyun asked, playing with the bird glued to his shoulder. His hair had been dyed two-tone.
Jonghun laughed. Their song was about heartbreak. In their music video, they’d been in an abandoned warehouse. In the preview for the video, pages of music had blown across a dusty grand piano. They’d danced in suits. “The death of music, maybe.”
“That’s not really funny,” Seunghyun frowned. The photographer snapped a picture.
Jonghun shifted the collar at his throat, fingers digging into the lapels. “No,” He tilted his head. The camera snapped with a definitive click.
At the end, they remembered to thank everyone, each one bowing the full 90 degrees. Head down, become small. He touched Hongki’s back and made him bow a little lower when he hadn’t bowed far enough.
The comeback week went well, but Jonghun collapsed into bed unable to muster more than a fake smile when they almost reached the top five in the charts, when they almost reached sixth place. “I can’t believe we’re only getting sixth place, after all of that work.” He fell into his own bed, opposite of Jonghun’s.
“We came back at the same time a bunch of more popular groups and artists are coming out.” Jonghun set his alarm for 4 in the morning. “What did you really expect, Hongki?”
Hongki scowled and dug through his clothes for something clean. Jonghun had just looked away when Hongki threw a shirt at him. He glanced back, and Hongki was giving him a look. An oddly keen look that only usually appeared when he was about to make an uncanny observation - about to yank the barrel from under his feet. “Are you happy?”
“Of course I am,” he said. “I’m just sore, too much dance practice.”
“Get over it, whatever it is, we have a long few weeks.” Jonghun swallowed hard, ignored the hollow in his chest.
“Right,” he laughed, rolled over. “Turn the light out as you leave.” Hongki shook his head, curled hair shaking around his head. The light disappeared, closely followed by the click of the door.
The next morning, the alarm went off and he got up automatically, went through the motions of the day. Dressed, brushed his hair, his teeth, washed his face, and didn’t realize he was dazed until he found himself sitting in the chair to Music Bank with a script in his hand and Hongki wrapped an arm around his shoulders.
“What?” He blinked, frowned at his reflection in the mirror. At Hongki, who looked rather perfect in the white suit. There was a red tie around his neck, his nails were black with odd red designs, and they tug on the ends of Jonghun’s hair.
“Why are you so out of it today?” Hongki frowned. “Do you wanna go eat after the show?” Jonghun shrugged his shoulders, he didn’t have an answer for the first question.
“Sure,” he nodded. “I can go for some food.”
His shoulders felt warm where Hongki was draped across them, but soon enough the stylist shooed him out of the way to work on his hair. Jonghun watched him walk away, back to Jaejin and Minhwan, and swallowed hard before he turned back to his script. His life was out of his control, spinning thousands of miles per hour and only gaining momentum.
“We should go bowling sometime.” Hongki started, dishing out servings onto each of their plates as Jonghun filled their shot glasses.
“You just want me to go so you can win.”
“I just want to hang out,” Hongki snorted. “Stop being so lazy all the time.” He rolled his eyes. Jonghun shifted the rice around his plate with his chopsticks.
“Right. We can’t hang out at home or anything, nope.”
“You never go out or anything.” Hongki leaned on his hand, jabbing in Jonghun’s direction with the chopsticks. “We’ve been friends for years, Jonghunnie, you’ve been all weird.”
Jonghun sat back in his chair. “I have? You think so?” Hongki kicked him under the table. “Woww, if you notice, maybe.” Hongki kicked him again.
“Talk to me,” Hongki said. Jonghun downed his shot instead. There were certain things, egging at the end of his mind, and he couldn’t talk about them, lease of all with Hongki. The shot burned its way down his throat. He closed his eyes against it before he waved it all away. It was better to get drunk than to talk.
Hongki seemed to agree, and he filled his glass again. Jonghun downed that too, and again, and again.
“You know,” Jonghun leaned against the table fifteen minutes later. He squinted up “You know, Hongki, I love you.”
That was the last thing he remembered the next morning, when he woke up to his alarm and a killer hangover. He felt sticky, but when he rolled over, he rolled right onto another body. His eyes - which he’d been desperately keeping closed - snapped open. The body moaned, shifted over and looked remarkably like Hongki.
“Your bed’s over there,” Jonghun frowned, brow creasing with confusion as he attempted to comprehend things beyond his headache.
“Ugh, too early,” Hongki moaned, burying his face back into his pillow. His arm wrapped around Jonghun’s waist and pulled him back down. Jonghun could still smell smoke from the bar.
“What happened last night?” Jonghun groaned, trapped against the sheets by Hongki’s arm, which was far too strong for him to fight as early as it was. The twin bed provided no spaced between them, and Hongki’s body was warm, and comfortable. It was too easy to lay here and do nothing. All he wanted to do, was this. His heart thundered in his throat.
“Oh, you just drank a lot,” Hongki said, eyes glittering in the faint morning light as he turned his head towards him.
“What did I say?” He asked, voice hushed.
“Oh, just a lot about guitars, and how you wanted to play them, and how much you like music, and how you used to like Jessica, from Girls’ Generation.” Jonghun felt like he was waiting at the edge of a cliff, waiting to be pushed off. “And how much you love me, too.”
“And, you’re stupid, really, really stupid.” Hongki leaned forward and molded their lips together. His fingers traced the edge of his jaw, softer than Jonghun ever imagined Hongki being capable of. The kiss was needy, impatient, rough. As far as all of the kisses he’d ever had went, though, as far as the rest of his life had been going, this was heaven.
“Oh,” he whispered, when Hongki pulled back. “Wow, I didn’t think that’d ever happen.”
“Dumb ass,” Hongki snorted, and punched him in the shoulder. “Come on, we have to go to work.”
“I was thinking,” Hongki said at breakfast. “When we’re done with our contracts in five years, we should make a band.”
“We are in a band, though.” Seunghyun laughed, but he was quickly distracted when jam fell off his toast into his lap. “Aw dammit.”
“I mean one with instruments. Like an indie band.”
“Oh, that would be cool,” Minhwan looked up. “I can play drums.”
“I can play guitar,” Jaejin volunteered.
“No way, that’s the only one I can play,” Seunghyun frowned. “Even though I’m not that good.”
“You should be bass anyway,” Minhwan nudged Jaejin. “You’d be good at it - you’re the center of the band anyway.”
“Okay, I’ll do vocals then, and Jonghun can do keyboard and lead guitar.”
“Me?” Jonghun asked, heart in his throat. “Why me?”
“It’s what you’ve always wanted to do, isn’t it?” Hongki grinned and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “And we can make all our own music if we’re an indie band.”
Jonghun blinked. He felt like he wanted to soar. “We just have to wait five years?” Part of him wanted to screw the contract they were all under. Part of him wanted to break it and move on. Part of him was tired of singing and dancing. Tired of no sleep, tired of making music with no soul.
“We can save up and then do it,” Jaejin grinned, leaning forward on his hands. Seunghyun flashed them all smiles. “We’ll be the coolest band ever.”
“We already are.” Hongki pointed out, grinning. Jonghun pinched him in the side, feeling warm. Feeling less robotic and more human for the first time since their debut.