Finest Hours
by Rana Eros

Okay, so. I started writing this story, and I had a vague idea of the end, and it didn't go there at all. Instead, it took a detour through my other writing career, and picked up some souvenirs. I liked that version, as did Eliza, but I still had the original idea in my head, and it needed to get out. So I, err, remixed myself. This version is where I meant to go in the first place, but it's actually the version I wrote second.

2:00 a.m.

Changmin's asleep on the dressing room floor, and just looking at him makes Yunho's back hurt. None of them know how he does it, sleeping on surfaces and in positions no one else could manage, and then waking up without so much as a stiff muscle. It's just not fair.

Yunho crouches down, wincing at the way his knees protest, and reaches out to shake Changmin awake. He pauses with his hand outstretched, watching the way the rather intense overhead light catches on the salt dried in Changmin's lashes, on his cheeks. Changmin cries when he's tired, silent, exhausted tears. They all try to bring practice to a close before that happens, but that's not an option when they're on tour and performing. A lot of things aren't options then.

"Yunho--" Jaejoong says, opening the door, then cuts himself off when he sees Yunho and Changmin on the floor. He shuts the door and moves closer. He bends at the waist rather than kneeling, and Yunho wonders if he's going to argue about putting the brace on before they go home. Then he straightens again, moving to the makeup table to nab a cotton ball. He's brought his water bottle in, so he dampens the cotton ball, then passes it to Yunho. "Wipe his eyes, Yunnie-ah. Gently."

Yunho nods, then carefully washes the salt away, so Changmin's lashes won't stick when they wake him up to take him home.

3:00 a.m.

In the back of the van, Yoochun composes music in his head. He hums under his breath, careful not to wake Junsu, sleeping against his shoulder, careful not to be overheard by Yunho and Jaejoong in front of him. They might be talking, their heads bent so close together they can hear each other like thoughts. Or they might be sleeping, dreaming each other's dreams; it wouldn't surprise him to learn they do that after so many years.

The van hits a small bump in the road, and he raises his hand instinctively to keep Junsu's head from rocking too much. The movement whuffs the next note out of him a little louder, and Junsu sighs out in harmony, snuggling into his palm. Yoochun has to stop humming, his breath catching in his throat. He's glad Changmin's asleep in the front passenger seat, so there are no witnesses to tease Junsu about singing in his sleep.

Just Yoochun, who has to swallow a few times before he can hum again, turning his mouth toward Junsu's ear. Even if Junsu doesn't sing again, Yoochun likes to think his voice will ensure good dreams.

Junsu's does for him, after all.

4:00 a.m.

Jaejoong's never lost the childhood habit of knuckling his eyes when he's tired, and sometimes Yunho feels like a dirty old man for how very young Jaejoong looks doing that. Of course, the next moment Jaejoong will drop his hands and look at Yunho through heavy-lidded eyes, lips curving in a smile no child would ever wear. He still looks young, but it's a different kind of youth, the kind that speaks of smooth skin and limber muscles.

Not that they're always in a position to take advantage. Even lusty youth can be exhausted, and while they'll strip each other down and climb into bed together, kissing sweet and touching soft, they usually just manage to soothe each other down into sleep. They have to make do with dreams until and unless there's time in the morning for more.

Yunho can't begrudge the dreams, when it was a dream that brought him here in the first place. Like Changmin's tears, though, he's happy to have other options.

He dreams of those too, in between the dreams of Jaejoong's mouth and hands.

5:00 a.m.

Changmin wakes shivering in his own bed. He's going through another growth spurt, and he can't eat enough to keep either his weight or his body temperature up. As has become ritual, he staggers bleary-eyed over to the bed Yunho and Jaejoong are sharing. They make sleepy room for him, kissing him on forehead and mouth as he settles down into Jaejoong's arms, Yunho's hands brushing him over Jaejoong's body.

It's always warm enough here.

6:00 a.m.

Junsu's laughter wakes Yoochun, or maybe the first faint rays of the sun. Either way, he's not ready to wake up yet, and one laborious peek shows him Junsu's not awake, either.

"Susu-ah," he murmurs in tired protest.

Junsu doesn't wake up, but he does stop laughing, snuggling up to Yoochun as though in dreaming apology.

Yoochun falls back to sleep, and dreams his gratitude.

7:00 a.m.

Between the sunlight and the combined body heat of Yunho and Changmin, Jaejoong wakes up feeling like he's in a furnace. He disentangles himself from a clingy Changmin, then pushes at Yunho until Yunho rolls over, reversing their positions. Changmin and Yunho wrap around each other, and Jaejoong pushes the covers down to his waist, dozing as he cools off.

8:00 a.m.

Junsu's usually the first to truly wake up, whatever they all say in interviews. In deference to Yoochun, still asleep, he doesn't get out of the bed, just lies there smiling with the sun on his face, waiting for manager-sshi to open the door. That'll wake Yunho, and officially start the day.

He's okay with these first few minutes being just his. He can listen to the others breathing, dreaming, and remember the song Yoochun hums to him, when Yoochun thinks he's asleep.

He'll use it to sing Yoochun awake, before they're up and running again.


Finest Hours (Did I Dream You Dreamed Remix)
Dong Bang Shin Ki
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