Pairing: OnKey but not focused on them. Friendly relationship between Jinki and Taemin.
Summary: Taemin can't sleep so leader Jinki comes to help.
Before I became the leader of SHINee, I slept hard. My mother would have to fight with me just to make me consider opening my eyes. When I was given this job, however, everything changed. I was given a responsibility to my boys and my bad sleeping habits had no choice but to stop. I figured that it was my protective instincts, but surprisingly enough, it wasn’t hard to do. From the first moment I realized that my duties as a leader extended far into the depths of the night, I was on constant alert. It started one night, only a short while after we had moved into our dorm. I had woken in the middle of the night and immediately known that something was wrong, and I was right. Kibum had been tossing in his bunk, sick as a dog. Of course, it was nothing that a bottle of cold medicine, a warm blanket, and a comforting hand couldn’t fix, though.
Ever since that night, I had become the lightest sleeper in the group. My boys all complained that they couldn’t be teenagers and stay up at night, but I couldn’t sleep until every one of them was tucked into bed. I couldn’t even sleep until they were asleep at night. That’s why I was awake at four in the morning that night; something just wasn’t right.
The first thing I noticed was the time. It was absolutely outrageous that I was awake. Therefore, I knew that something was amiss. The hushed sounds of sleeping boys filled my ears as I sat up with a small groan. The room was pitched black, the light coming from the wall clock across the room barely gave me enough light to see my hand in front of my face. So, I cautiously pressed the switch on the small nightlight on my headboard. It wasn’t actually bright enough to wake the others, but it did enable me to see their sleeping faces. The first person I checked was my Kibum. To my intense relief, he was still unconscious with a small smile set upon his perfect lips. Next was Jonghyun; buried beneath a mound of pillows, I could faintly hear the sound of his light snoring. I checked Minho after that and, just as I had expected, his eyes were tightly shut and his blankets were twisted around his feet. He was tossing slightly but that was to be expected; he was stressing over a math test that everyone but him, knew he’d ace. That only left one person; our magnae.
The moment my eyes fell on him, my breath caught in my throat. His body was ridged and he was lying flat on his back. His hands, trembling slightly, were balled into small fists around his twisted blankets and his eyes were wide open, just staring at nothing.
“Hey.” I whispered as I moved closer to him. “Why are you awake?” I asked, reaching over to smooth his messy bangs.
“I can’t sleep.” He grumbled and used the back of his hand to wipe the moisture from his exhausted eyes.
“Why?” I probed, watching him with concern. Taemin had sleeping problems. He’d had them since the day he moved in and it had plagued him ever since. Most nights, he would just climb into bed with Minho, but he was always afraid of being a burden.
“I just can’t.” He sighed. He looked as if he was holding back tears and when he tilted his head in my direction, the dim nightlight basked his face in a dim glow, revealing the dark circles under his eyes.
“Come here.” I murmured, leaning back and opening my bare arms, wide. Within seconds, Taemin was wrapped in my embrace. His thin body trembled against my bare chest and his small hands tightly clutched my back.
“I’m so tired, hyung. I just want to go to sleep but I can’t.” He cried and buried his head in my shoulder. “I’ve been awake since eleven.”
“Alright, then let’s go.” I said. I quickly gathered Taemin in my arms and moved to the end of my small bed. My soft sheets ruffled under our weight and the springs in my mattress creaked, cutting through the quietness of the night. Once I was at the foot of my bed, I made Taemin sit on the small edge while I stood and walked to my oak dresser. Fortunately, Taemin slept in more than just a pair of boxers so I only needed to dress myself. I swiftly pulled on a pair of loose fitting blue jeans, followed by a soft white undershirt and my old tennis shoes.
“Where are we going?” Taemin asked when I gently pulled him to his feet. His voice was raspy and thick with a need for sleep; it was heartbreaking. He wobbled slightly from side to side and his chin tilted down due to his lack of energy.
“Just out.” I replied, wrapping my arm around his shoulders and steering him towards the door. When we reached the kitchen, I quickly write a note on the dry erase board hanging on the fridge to tell Kibum where we were going and what was wrong before continuing out the door.
Taemin protested when I told him not to wear shoes. Instead, the moment we reached the front doors, I scooped him up into my arms and carried him out. The poor child didn’t even have the strength to fight me after that. He was both mentally and physically exhausted. It was rare that any of us got a full eight hours of sleep; we usually got between six and seven, but for Taemin, it was often less.
Being away from his brother had impacted Taemin horribly. He and Taesun had shared a bedroom for little more than thirteen years. As a result, Taemin suffered from intense separation anxiety that prevented him from sleeping, usually more than once a week. The fact that he hadn’t seen his brother in four months just made it worse.
“Why didn’t you just sleep with Minho, like you usually do?” I asked as I carried Taemin through the under ground garage of our apartment building. Minho was the only person that Taemin actually felt comfortable going to at night. He claimed that it was because Minho was the closest in age, but everyone…except Minho knew the real reason; Taemin had a crush on the older boy, he was just too shy to admit it. It was unfair how many problems the boy had to deal with at such a young age.
“Because he has a math test, today.” Taemin murmured as I carried him towards my car. “I didn’t want to wake him.”
“You should have.” I laughed and finally reached my car. I quickly used one hand to open the door; Taemin was light enough that I could have carried him with one arm. “He loves holding you at night.” I said as I set Taemin on the leather seat. His arms fell limply in his lap and his eyes maintained an extremely glazed over look.
“Where are we going? I’m so tired, hyung.” Taemin asked as I strapped him in. I only set the belt on his hips; it was the only time that I would ever break my strict seat belt rule.
“We’re just going for a drive, Babymin, try and get some sleep.” I murmured. I quickly closed Taemin’s door and dashed around to mine, slickly jerking it open and hopping in.
“You really don’t need this to do…to do this…or something. You’re tired, too Jinki, and you have practice with mom and that other guy...the one with the jaw.” Taemin mumbled. I felt a sharp pang rip through my chest as he stumbled over his words. I could scarcely imagine how tired he must have been. His voice quivered slightly and his hands, still limp in his lap, began visibly trembling.
“Hush, Taemin.” I whispered and put my key in the ignition. The moment I had power, I hit the switch to turn on the heated seats. I then proceeded to pull a CD from the case and slipped it into my player. I always kept a wide array of music in my car. The disk that I chose consisted of nothing but my favorite quiet songs; I used them when I needed to relax so, I figured that they’d help my youngest sleep.
I kept a constant surveillance on Taemin out of the corner of my eyes as I drove out of the garage. Once I was actually on the road, I made sure that I knew where I was, but headed no where at the same time. I didn’t plot out a course because I wasn’t going anywhere; I was just taking my ‘son’ out for an early morning drive.
For the first twenty minutes, I made endless laps around empty blocks. The only light outside came from my head lights and the occasional street lamp. During the entire ride, Taemin’s eyes never closed unless it was to blink. He maintained a constant rhythm of adjusting his position every minute or so and I could feel is mounting frustration. By the look on his face, I knew that he was on the verge of tears.
“Taemin, stop trying so hard.” I sighed as I slowly pulled my car to a stop on the side of the road, grateful for the lack of traffic in the early morning. I quickly used my left hand to flip the center console into an upright position, turning the front row of my car into a single bench. “Lay down.”
“You need to drive.” His voice was completely monotone… he sounded dead.
“Don’t argue.” I snapped, quickly grabbing his shoulder and pulling him down. “Being awake too long is unhealthy. Just do as I say.” He let out a small groan when his tired body made contact with the warm leather seat and a single tear appeared on the corner of his eye. Carefully, I used both of my hands to gently situate his head on my lap.
“Hush.” I soothed, stroking his tangled bangs off of his forehead. “Just sleep.” I whispered and softly traced his innocent facial features with my index finger. Every once in a while, even when I had pulled back onto the road, I would gently comb my fingers through Taemin’s hair. His short black locks were tangled and slightly damp with sweat, probably due to him twisting around all night.
For twenty minutes after that, I continued aimlessly driving around town. To my intense relief, Taemin began to grow less and less restless with every passing minute. I never stopped my soft massage; instead, I extended it over his pale shoulders and down his sleek neck. My fingers constantly caressed the bare skin that wasn’t covered by his tight A-shirt, leaving goose bumps in some places.
And finally, just as the sun began to make an appearance in the sky, his body fell completely limp in my arms. His mouth went slack and his lips parted slightly, his head rolled into a flatter position, and his hands relaxed out of the tight fists they had previously been in. By the hazy light of the morning sun I could see that his face had relaxed and he was deep asleep.
“Thank God.” I whispered, immediately hitting my turn single and making the first possible U-turn available.
As I drove back towards our apartment, I couldn’t help but frequently glance at the sleeping boy on my lap. He was so young, so innocent, but he was forced to deal with problems that would bring a grown mad to his knees. Taemin braved everything from a crippling work schedule trouble to his voice to the weight of the press always on his back. Yet, he never showed any weakness. He always had a smile on his face so it was heartbreaking to see something as simple as sleep bring him to tears. I couldn’t help but hold him a little closer, just thinking about it.
My fingers moved on their own and gently moved my massage from Taemin’s shoulder to his collar bones. His low cut A-shirt enabled me to feel the sharp bones protruding from his chest. And then, for one heart stopping second, I thought I had woken him up. But then I realized that Taemin was still quietly dozing and the fingers that he had wound around my hand were weak with sleep. As I drove, Taemin pulled my hand closer to his chest. He occasionally adjusted his grip until he had my bottom three fingers in a firm hold, but he never let me go, not even when I parked my car and pulled the keys out of the ignition.
Not wanting to wake him, I barely moved as I opened my car door. Softly, so I wouldn’t disturb him, I leaned over and unclasped his sat belt. I pressed my lips together when I removed my own belt and then carefully, I pulled Taemin onto my lap. I used my hand to gently place his head against my shoulder before opening the door, slipping my arms under him, and sliding out of the car. Closing the door presented a problem; I had to slowly close it using my hips and then use my body weight to make it latch.
Taemin became slightly restless as I carried him towards the elevator. His small hands were subconsciously latched around the front of my shirt and he seemed to curl himself into me.
As we moved upwards towards our apartment, I realized exactly how light the young boy was. He was nothing more than skin, bones, and muscle; I’d have to take it up with Kibum. The mother of out group took care of everything that had anything to do with out boys. He was almost as sleep deprived as Taemin sometimes because he was always up late doing laundry or checking homework hid he didn’t mind. He was just truly kind at heart. That’s why I love him so much, and that’s why he was waiting when the elevator doors slip open.
“How is he?” Kibum asked, rushing forward to plant a kiss on both my cheek and Taemin’s forehead. He was still in his pajamas, consisting of sweatpants and a baggy pink tank top. His hair was slightly messy. And his bare feet made soft thuds against the padded carpet. He was adorable.
“Better.” I whispered, meeting Kibum’s knowing eyes. “But I don’t want him out of bed today.”
“Of course not!” Kibum hissed as me moved to lead me through out already open apartment door. “I already called the school to tell them that he’s not coming in, today.
“You’re amazing.” I whispered, stopping once I was in our foyer so I could wait for Kibum to shut the door.
“I know. Now move! He needs a bed and fast.” He laughed, lightly nudging me in the back to push me forward and into the kitchen. When Jonghyun and Minho both jumped up from the kitchen table with concern written all over their tired faces, I quickly shook my head.
“He’s asleep.” I whispered and continued past them, into out joint bedroom.
Kibum was already waiting for me. Being an amazing mother had taught him exactly what to do in that type of situation; he had moved his electric blanket down from his bed, placed it on mine, and folded the covers back.
“You’re a great dad.” Kibum noted when I gently laid Taemin in my bed. I carefully steered his head onto my pillow and smiled at the deep, content sigh he let out.
“Only because I have great kids. I do it for them.” I replied. I quickly pulled my shirt over my head and then removed my baggy blue jeans. “You can take care of the others, right?”
“Of course. I called our dance teacher and told him that practice is off for today, Jonghyun made plans to hang out with Seung ri at Music Core tonight, and Minho is going to ace his test. Now get some sleep and don’t leave him alone…he needs to be with someone right now.” Kibum smiled as he walked towards the bedroom door. Moments later, I heard the door clock, leaving me alone to crawl under the warm blankets. I gently pulled Taemin against me so that his back was against my bare chest and wrapped my arm around his thin shoulders. I felt a smile come to my lips when both of the young boy’s hands gently wrapped around my forearms, as if he was holding me there.
As hard as my job was, and as much as it wore me down and caused me stress, nothing in the whole world could ever make me give it up. I’d go a thousand sleepless nights if I could get just one, hour long drive. Just drive..