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this does not betoken a return to writing :rolls:

for sesame_seed, who always takes away my sorrow and brings me joy.

we have long ago established that i cannot write, and i have more or less exited fandom--if i were to pick an OTP at this point in time, it might be jeremy lin/landry fields, ahaha.

BUT--you held out a hand invitingly, you plied me with clips and links and cunning bits of characterization.  

even with all that, only for you would i break a double-taboo, my darling: kpop AND RPS.  the former contains far too much addictive inanity and guyliner, and the latter can be heartbreaking--witness my former stint in akame!

but because i am slowly coming to love lee joon (and i have always loved you)--


夢壓

***

It's a slow spreading alarm, the growing awareness that something is wrong just as he teeters on the edge of sleep.  And sometimes if he starts to take deep breaths or turns over he can fend it off, but if he's noticed too late then it's already started and he's helpless.

This is going to be one of those times.

He hates this, he hates this, he hates this--

Eventually, with the power of terror, he manages to lift one finger.  Then he is able to curl it, then to clench his fist, and slowly, finally, the paralysis lifts.

He gets up when he can, wanting to shake off the clinging shreds of nightmare.  Wanders to the kitchen, toes curling against the cold linoleum of the floor, feeling disoriented.  

"Sanghyun?"  Durami appears in the doorway of the kitchen, eyes puffy with sleep.  "Why're you up?"

"Just getting water," he says, and grabs a glass.  He heads back to his room before she can say anything else.

He was quiet at dinner and she's worried, knowing that it must have been another interview.  Or maybe this time a look of exasperation from their dance coach.  Or worse, one of the members forgetting to include him.  It is never intentional, and that makes it worse.

Back in his bed, he grits his teeth.  He won't cry.  He won't cry.  He is moving into the dorm soon, and the mere thought of the embarrassment he would feel if the hyungs caught him crying--or worse, Cheolyong, who never seems to feel discomfited by all the chaffing and bobs up and down, oblivious as a fish to the dynamics around him.

But he also can't sleep, so after a while, he gets out of bed and turns on the lights.  Now that he's awake, he might as well practice.

***

"Ba ba ba ba--" his arms jerk around, switching from pose to pose.  "Five and six and seven--eight--"  His foot shoots out to the beat, hovers in midair.  

He can't remember what comes next, and tries it again.  "Ba ba ba ba--five and six and seven--"  He taps his forehead in frustration.  "Chest pop, body roll--eh, what was it?"

"The arm goes behind the back," someone says helpfully, and Sanghyun drops the soap in shock, then bites his lip.  

He'd waited on purpose until everyone, even G.O., was out of the bathroom.   Sometimes he wonders if the reason G.O. takes so long is because the bathroom is nearly the only place they can be alone.

When he sticks his head out from the curtain, he sees Changsun staring into the mirror, body locked in a pose, frowning in thought.  He turns an eye on Sanghyun to say, "You're on the part right after the chorus, right?  Ba-ba-ba-ba, five six seven eight?"


"Right," he says awkwardly in reply, and after a pause, even more awkwardly, "Are you waiting for the shower?" 

Changsun shakes his head, holds up one empty hand.  "Cell phone, cell phone."  He lifts up a towel and snatches something.  "Continue," he flaps his phone at the shower, and Sanghyun isn't sure what to continue, dancing or showering.  He compromises by dropping the curtain and picking up the soap.

A beat later, he calls out, "Thanks, hyung," just before the bathroom door clicks shut.

The door clicks open again.  "Don't stay up too late."

He sticks his head out of the shower again.  "I'm sorry?"

Changsun is barely visible, standing in the dark corridor.  "Seungho says you don't sleep early enough," his voice says.

He doesn't know whether to take this as admonition or concern, so ducks his head sheepishly.  "Ok."

***  

"You look tired," Joon comments as they crowd back into the dorm, returning from the latest interview.

"Hyung's the one always sleeping, how can you complain about other people looking tired?" Mir points out.

"Who's complaining?  I say he looks tired because he looks tired.  Look, G.O., doesn't Sanghyun look tired?"

G.O. doesn't turn his head to look, head bent over his phone.  "Of course he looks tired, he stayed up watching my porn all night."

He starts to splutter in feeble protest, but Joon ignores G.O. and focuses disconcertingly on him instead.  "Sanghyun, why don't you sleep earlier?"

"Call him Cheondoong sometimes," Seungho interposes.  He already is in his own room, but the dorm is so small that everyone can hear everything no matter where they are.  "You aren't going to forget his name again, are you?"

"I can't call him that ridiculous name!  It doesn't suit him."

   

He personally agrees, so he says nothing. 

It's Seungho who asks, "Why not?"  

"He doesn't make me think of a storm or the sky," Joon says impatiently.  

"Then what do I make you think of?" he asks, curiously.  

"Water," Joon says instantly.  "A peaceful lake."

"That's not a cool enough name for an idol," G.O. says. 

"Eh, but it's really more appropriate!"  Joon insists.

"Soopyong?  That's not even a guy's name!"

"Call him whatever you want, just don't forget his stage name again," Seungho orders.

To himself, Sanghyun thinks that he doesn't mind being a lake.

***

"Which member of MBLAQ is most bullied by the others?"

Together, Seungho and G.O. say, "Mir."

Cheolyong slaps his palms against his knees and rocks back.  "It's true, it's true!"

"Because he's the youngest?  The hyungs pick on him, huh?"

"Because he's the youngest," G.O. confirms, nodding.

"Hey, but he is also the most spoiled by us," Seungho adds.  "And he frequently makes us laugh, so actually I think he fits the character of the youngest very well."

"It's not true!  I'm the maknae, but Joonie-hyung always likes Doongie-hyung better," Cheolyong complains, half in earnest, pointing an accusatory finger.

  

Joon, thus singled out, closes his eyes, as if to deliberate.  "That's because Mir is a bad kid, and Cheondoong is a good kid," he intones seriously, laughing when Cheolyong rolls his eyes.

"Eh, but it's true that Joon gets along well with Cheondoong?"  The interviewer twists around to face him, and he tries not to freeze.  

"Ah, everyone gets along well with Cheondoong!"  Joon says.  "He's a good kid, respectful to his seniors.  He's especially respectful of me because I taught him how to be an idol!" He stands up suddenly, striking a heroic pose.

"What, you're secretly his idol trainer?"  The interviewer laughs.  "Is it like an idol cram school?  He has to take extra classes?"

"If you don't believe me, ask Cheondoong," Joon says, offended.  "Right, Cheondoong?"

"Yes," he affirms, swallowing his laughter.  "Hyung is very helpful to me." 

Joon smiles at him approvingly.

"Lee Joon, unexpectedly a wise guide to his dongsaeng," the interviewer raises his eyebrows, and the topic changes.

***

He's so tired.  It happens more often when he's tired, and these days he almost always is.  The dorm makes it worse:  the room is small and crowded and dirty, and the ceiling seems to press down on him.  

This time it is particularly bad.  It goes on and on for what feels like an hour, although in reality he’s sure only minutes have passed.  When he finally can, he sits up and goes into the common room, sits down on the couch and lets exhaustion pull his head into his hands.  

The room is cold, but not even the discomfort and the inability to see what might be crawling on the couch can propel him back to his room.  He wants to wake up thoroughly first, just in case.  Sometimes he has consecutive episodes, despite his best efforts to control his breathing.

"What's the matter?"  Joon is standing there, rubbing his eyes sleepily.

"Did I wake you up?"  He lifts his head in alarm.  "Sorry, hyung."

"Nah, I wasn't asleep."  Joon studies him silently.  "Are you ok?"

"Fine, fine.” 

“Bad dream?”

“Kind of?”  He hesistates, and knowing how it must look, adds reluctantly, “Just, you know how sometimes when you're about to sleep, you feel like you can't move?"   

"Oh, yeah.  I hate it when that happens." 

"What, you have it too?"  He can't help sounding surprised.

"Not so much these days.  But it's normal, this kind of thing!"  Joon shuffles to the sofa, sits down beside him.  "My mom says it means you're still growing."

He feels strangely, instantly comforted by the corporeality of Joon’s presence.  "Oh no, I don't want to grow any more."

"Why?"

"'Cause I'll make the rest of you look too short..."

A pause, and then the couch pillow hits him in the back of his head. "Don't think you can make me look bad!  Worry about yourself, idiot!"  Another hit with the pillow.  "So tall and skinny, you should be eating more!"  More pillow beating.

"Ok, I know, I'll eat, stop hitting!"  He holds up his hands in surrender.

By the time he lies down again, the paralysis is totally forgotten.

***

In the new apartment, the problem doesn't seem as bad.  He still has episodes, but less frequently.

He has a bad one the night that they finish filming the latest MV.  When it ends, he presses the heels of his hands against his eyes, breathing in long gasps, wondering why they still terrify him even when he knows that he's not going to die.  Then he rolls on his side, and suddenly realizes that Joon is looking at him, his arms drawn up under his chin.

"Give me your hand," Joon says, very matter-of-factly.

"Uh?"  He stares blankly, unable to gather his thoughts.

Joon reaches out and seizes his hand, and abruptly Sanghyun is completely awake.  "If you feel it again, then move your fingers a little, and I'll wake you up.  That way you won't have to worry," Joon instructs.

"What if I can't move my fingers?" is the first thing that comes out of his mouth, and he wants to punch himself for being an idiot.  With his other hand.

"Just try.  I'll wake up.  I'm usually awake for a while anyway, you know that."  

He lies back and stays as still as he can, almost holding his breath, feeling the warmth of Joon's hand in his palm.  His mind is a riot of unspoken words, but Joon is phlegmatically using his right hand to rearrange his blanket, and seems not to notice the loss of freedom in his left.

It takes him a very long time to fall asleep.  He lies there with his eyes open, staring at the ceiling and listening to Joon breathe.

***

Joon's hand is right there, he knows it.   He tries to call out, but of course his tongue won't move.

It is only with a colossal effort that he finally manages to scratch the side of Joon's palm with the tip of one finger, but as usual, Joon comes awake after a few scratches and crawls over to him.  "Sanghyun," Joon says, shaking him awake, patting his face gently and rubbing his shoulder.  

Sometimes, the mere act of waking Joon is enough to dispel the paralysis, but it's always a relief to feel the physical contact.  It seems to help. 

Within a minute Joon is back on his futon.

Sanghyun only wakes up once more, when Joon turns in his sleep, and takes his hand with him.

***

It’s an accident.  It's only that he is thinking of that day's episode of Sesame Player, and the sudden shock of Joon's still-struggling weight landing on him.  Being squashed under a pile of hyungs, feeling Joon laughing into the back of his neck.  

Without meaning to, he tightens his grip on Joon's hand.  

When he realizes it, Joon is already reacting in his usual way, getting to his knees and leaning over him.  Confused and half-asleep, he catches at Joon's hand as it reaches for his face.  "No, hyung, I'm ok--" 

Joon freezes, awkwardly poised above him, and the moment seems almost as long and portentous as any in a dream.  Then, just as he is about to apologize, Joon breaks away with an awkward grin and flops back onto his own futon.  "Ah, my services are unnecessary, my dongseng has outgrown me!" he mourns.  

It's a voice that he normally only hears when they are on camera.  "They're not unnecessary," he said immediately.  "It's just that lately I'm not having as much trouble with it."  As he says it, he realizes that it is true; he can't remember his last episode.

"That's good though, isn't it?"

"It's good, I feel like I'm sleeping better.  Recently I just close my eyes and I don't remember anything, I don't even dream."

"That's the best.  With this kind of schedule, if we don't sleep, we'll really die.  Or get wrinkles and need plastic surgery."  In the light from the hallway, he can see that Joon's eyes are already closed again.  He doesn't seem upset.

Sanghyun shuts his own eyes, and tells himself to be calm, be calm, a still lake.  Tries not to miss the feel of Joon's hand.

***

Everyone is always telling him that he is too honest.  His sisters say he doesn't even know how to lie.  Seungho and Kevin both scold him for being too blunt in interviews.  "Please think of our image," had been Seungho's comment only last week.

If he's being honest with himself, he hasn't got sleep paralysis right now.  

He scratches Joon's palm once anyway, and keeps his eyes closed even while Joon shakes his shoulder, palm warm against his cheek.  Despite the pretense, there is a real and different kind of pressure on his chest, one that makes it equally difficult to breathe.

***

"Lie down already," Joon grumbles.  


Sanghyun peers at him through a wet fringe of hair and continues toweling, wondering for the ten thousandth time what fans would make of this Joon.  


Hair tousled, eyes squinting in search of sleep, Joon props himself up by the elbow and squints at him, shading his eyes with one hand.  "What were you doing for so long, practicing your moves?"

"This time the choreography isn't so bad."  He smiles inadvertently.  Actually, it's just easier to learn the dances these days.  He hasn't had to practice in the shower in a while, but the thought makes him remember the first time Joon caught him, how he was suspicious that Joon was only mocking him. 

At the time, he thought Joon's kindness was an anomaly, incompatible with his model-like good looks and his ease on the stage.  The Park family knows that the entertainment world is a cruel place, and Sanghyun himself understands that it is natural for those who can to despise those who can't.  

Back then, Joon's unusual consideration was a seesaw source of gratitude and bemusement.    

"Sanghyun!  Turn off the liiiiiiiiiights."  

He snaps back to the present.  Joon has his arm flung over his face.  

Shaking his head to clear his reverie, he reaches for the lights and drops obediently into a cross-legged sitting position in the dark, still toweling off his damp hair.  

"Tired today?"  

"...a little?"  He yawns before he can finish the sentence, and laughs at himself.  

"Dry your hair off completely, or it will look really strange tomorrow."

"Yes, Joon-appa."

"Hyung, call me hyung!"  Joon swats him lightly on the lower back, the only part he can reach without moving.  “Why the sudden generation gap?”

"Yes, Joonie-hyung."

"Leo would be jealous," Joon mumbles after a while.

"Leo?"  


"Yeah, a sleepover with his favorite dad."  Joon's arm has dropped to his chest, and his chin is tilted towards Sanghyun in a considering fashion.

"He likes you too," is his nearly automatic reply. 

"At some point," Joon points a defiant finger at him, "he will!"

"Everyone likes you eventually," he says, and then is glad that the lights are already off.

When he finally lays down, Joon is already flopped on his stomach in his usual position.  His eyes are closed and his face, half-buried in his pillow, already has a slack-jawed look, but he sticks out his hand.

He puts out his own, and Joon's fingers close over it lightly.  

To be honest, it's been months since he's felt it: that suffocating weight, the fear and the black, thick helplessness.  But he hasn't been able to overcome his guilt, so it's only on nights when Joon knows he might be particularly tired that this happens.  He always mutely reaches out instead of explaining, telling himself that Joon doesn't mind, that Joon likes to help.  

He can even believe this sometimes.  But for some reason, tonight, he really wants to explain that actually, he doesn't suffer from sleep paralysis anymore.

He doesn't, though.  Somehow, it's impossible to speak.  Instead, he squeezes Joon's hand once.  

Joon's eyes crack open, looking at him.   

He's afraid to see the expression that will come next, so he lets go quickly, keeping his eyes closed.  

Inhale, exhale.

Something lands lightly in his hair.  Joon's fingers trail down his temple, then come together to pat his cheek once, twice, in a gentle parody. 

Sanghyun breathes again, this time with something deeper than relief.  Feels a sudden swell of heat under his eyelids.  

He blinks it away.  Reaches up, and grasps Joon's hand.

***



Comments

great fanfic you have here <3
thank you! ^_^ i'm glad you enjoyed it.
You already know how much I love you, but it can never be stated enough. XDDD Thank you so so much; I'd be in SUCH a different mental place right now if you hadn't been willing to humor me and my arbitrary passions. (Also, I have sadly never been able to slash basketball players -- just some kind of disconnect there -- BUT IF YOU REALLY WANT TO I WILL TRY.)

or worse, Cheolyong, who never seems to feel discomfited by all the chaffing and bobs up and down, oblivious as a fish to the dynamics around him.

Eeee Mir! I feel like he's the type that Thunder likes a lot, someone whose energy and antics make up for the lack on his end, but at the same time it would be difficult to not be jealous because of all the things he has that Thunder lacks.

Sometimes he wonders if the reason G.O. takes so long is because the bathroom is nearly the only place they can be alone.

You know, that makes so much sense that I think it's probably true.

Joon, thus singled out, closes his eyes, as if to deliberate. "That's because Mir is a bad kid, and Chundoong is a good kid," he intones seriously, laughing when Cheolyong rolls his eyes.

I was meaning to mention this, but then I forgot, but ummm. I think Thunder = Cheondoong instead of Chundoong? I mean, I know it's all phonetic anyway, but that's mostly how I've seen it spelled, along with the occasional Cheondung. XD;;;;

"Lee Joon, unexpectedly a wise guide to his dongsaeng," the interviewer raises his eyebrows, and the topic changes.

I've already said it, but this entire interview is just pure love. I expect to see it on Youtube any day now.

It's strange that this pairing makes me crave comfort -- you'd think that it would be comforting enough in itself (no in-built angst like Akame or the Libertines or the various other pairings that the people around me have shipped at different times), but I think it's just that I care so much right now it's silly. Joon doesn't look at Thunder when Thunder's talking to him, and I wonder if he's upset. Joon looks blank-faced when the focus of an interview isn't on him, and I wonder if he's unhappy; Thunder looks blank-faced pretty much whenever, and I wonder if he's exhausted.

So I really want to hug this story and stash it away like a security blanket, able to be whipped out on a moment's notice whenever things seem down in the MBLAQ world. It'll be like Joon's stabilizing hand in Thunder's. ♥ I love it; MAY IT BE THE FIRST OF MANY MORE TO COME. :)))))))))))))
omg, chrissie XDDDD IT IS THE LEAST I CAN DO! i know too well how it feels to experience a DEARTH of fic for the pairing you love T_T (KKM! omfg, AND THAT PAIRING WAS CANON TOO) and i can't blame you even the tiniest bit for loving these boys. i don't even blame you for getting ME to love them; fandom has always been one of the sources of pleasure in my life, not the least because it always brings us together! WOULD FANGIRL ANYTHING YOU WANTED as long as it meant we would always have something to link hands and squee about <3 <3 <3

(btw, i was totally joking about lin/fields, haha--i think they are a fabulous bromance BUT MY BRAIN BREAKS at taking it any further XD)

I WILL WRITE YOU H/C, i swear! especially now that you've shown me the horrible note joon wrote, which actually tears at me. of all the tragedies betrayal is the worst, because you lose someone in a way that goes even beyond death. but oh man, so hard to know where to take it without ANY details whatsoever. who was it, joon? your friend? your lover? your boss, your former classmate, your bandmembers, THUNDER, WHO? what did s/he do? (please don't let it be thunder... we are going to discuss their recent behavior in clips, SOON.)

the MBLAQ fandom is tiny-ish now, but it could always grow! you've already written fic and a primer, and i honestly find them to be an interesting, lovable group. others will (love lee joon) too! we've always had a history of going boldly where no one else was interested in going XD MAYBE WE WILL INSPIRE PEOPLE WITH OUR PIONEERING EFFORTS, WHO KNOWS.

and finally: <333333333333333333333333 thank you for always giving me more credit than i deserve!

also: re: G.O. in the bathroom, DID YOU SEE THE ARRAY OF COSMETIC PRODUCTS HE HAS IN HIS ROOM. it was like a FULL TRAY of bottles, no lie.
I have SUCH a weakness for hand-holding, it's like my favorite thing in the world ydek Q__Q I kept thinking about how I could properly convey my feelings for this.. It's like..the warmth of something thawing.. I especially like the passage of time, knowing (haha..wishing..) they still have this ritual of sorts. JOON. WHAT I WOULD GIVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE FEELING.

♥♥♥♥♥
i can TOTALLY understand because my friend was trying to get me into this pairing but i think what broke my will to resist was, umm, when i heard about them sleeping while holding hands? it's just such an intimate gesture, even while waking--but while SLEEPING?

adklfj;alksjd;flkj

JOON PLEASE DON'T STOP TRUSTING PEOPLE ALTOGETHER T___T

i am glad you enjoyed XD i wrote it for the warm fuzzies, so hopefully i was able to bring you some!
YOU'RE INTO KPOP? will read this once I'm home!!!
cherry-chan, are YOU really into kpop? or just the one girl XD subdee wrote a big bang fic; she's in the relay with us. i had no idea they were all so messed up! though if you think about it, i suppose living in that weird fishbowl would pretty much drive anyone but the most resolutely well-adjusted 'round the bend.
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