Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four |
Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven | Chapter Nine
”Whenever I’m weary from the battles that rage in my head,
You make sense of madness, when my sanity hangs by a thread,
I lose my way but still you seem to understand,
Now and forever, I will be your man.
Taemin could only stare motionlessly as Jinki’s voice filled the arena, the lyrics filling the empty corners of the room, his soft song enclosing the audience in it’s hold. The words echoed against the silence. He could hardly bare to take a breath, daring never to look away from the man in the center of the stage, all lights burning down upon him. Jinki’s eyes were closed, yet Taemin became increasingly aware that his gaze remained only on his round lips, as if watching the notes, the lyrics fall out of them, entangling themselves around his body, warming him and soothing out all the aches in his muscles.
Sometimes I just hold you, too caught up in me to see,
I’m holding a fortune that heaven has given to me,
I try to show you each and every way i can,
Now and forever I will be your man.
There was a slight smile in the corner of Jinki’s mouth, twitching as he sung, more present in his cheeks, in his voice then his lips. The image of the first time Taemin had met him flashed through his mind, of him working on his daisy chain, smiling contently.
Now I can rest my worries and always be sure that I won’t be alone anymore,
If I’d only known you were there all this time, all this time.
The image disappeared as he hit a new note, the humble boom of his voice vibrating against the walls of the room. His stomach churned, tying knots in his gut as the lyrics spun around his mind, but he was barely aware of it, barely aware of anything but Jinki’s soft voice.
Until the day the ocean doesn’t touch the sand,
Now and forever, I will be your man,
Now and forever, I will be your man.
The silence that suddenly hung in the air of the stadium felt empty as people caught the breaths they had been holding. There was a flurry of emotion; women’s muffled sniffling and men’s awkward throat clearing. It was unlikely that anyone in the room had ever endured the pleasure of hearing such song like this, let alone in a voice like that. It was no wonder that Leeteuk suddenly came to, realising, as with everybody else, just where they were when Jinki coughed somewhat uncomfortably, blinking shyly and smiling modestly as if he had done nothing at all. It only occurred to Taemin that he had been smiling so widely during the whole song when he noticed the sudden sting in his cheeks. Beside him, even Jieun’s glazed eyes looked vulnerably ensnared by Jinki’s song.
No doubt, he would certainly have the support of several sponsors. Leeteuk made several quick apologies, accompanied by Jinki for going through with the whole song instead of just a few lines, suddenly concerned about the time. Jinki was hurried back to his seat and the next tribute, the girl of tribute 10, was called up. Taemin pitied her, knowing that it was an interview impossible to recover from, and no doubt that it would be rushed. Against Jinki’s song, none of the remaining tributes, including himself, stood a chance.
Taemin tried to recall the song in his mind, angry at himself that already it was beginning to fade into his memory. He frowned, looking down and biting his lip and trying to recall the beautiful lyrics of possibly the only song he would ever hear again other than that of the Game’s own. Whether it was due to the lack of time, or to the fact Taemin was entirely unfocused, he was shocked when he heard his own name being called. He blinked, flickering his eyes up when Leeteuk had to embarrassingly call out his name a second time. He apologised quickly, standing up and hurrying to the chair beside Leeteuk.
“Lee Taemin,” Leeteuk smiled to Taemin. His nerves rattled in his chest; palms sweating as the lights beamed much brighter here. He faked an uneasy smile, cheeks still sore.
“How is the Capitol treating you?” Even Leeteuk seemed still slightly unsettled, under pressure for time. Taemin’s interview wouldn’t last long, he took a lot of comfort in that.
“Well, thank you,” Taemin nodded quickly, eyes blinking faster then the words stumbled out of his mouth, “I like the view.”
“Yes that’s right, I can imagine it’s a lovely view from the pent house,” Leeteuk chuckled as Taemin nodded again.
“I can imagine there are things you miss from home, though. You volunteered for Jongin, what made you do that?” Leeteuk’s voice altered slightly to a more sympathetic, almost pitying tone. The name struck a chord in Taemin and suddenly his words tumbled out so fast he didn’t spare a thought before they escaped.
“Kai - I mean Jongin would never have stood a chance in the arena. He’s just not cut out for it, his life has been too sheltered, I guess, as sheltered as someone’s life can be in District 12,” a hint of uneasiness glazed over Leeteuk’s eyes as Taemin hinted what life was like in his district. He quickly worked to retract his words. “I mean, we’re all outgoing boys but Jongin is too soft, too gentle.”
Leeteuk hummed slightly and nodded, leaning one hand over and petting Taemin’s hand as if it were supposed to comfort him.
“But you think you can stand a chance?” Leeteuk pressed and Taemin nodded slowly.
“Of course, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. Taesun, my brother, he needs me to win, I will win for him, if not for anybody else.”
“Your nine is quite a score, I’m sure you’ll do very well in the arena, you have so much to fight for. Keep it up Lee Taemin, of District 12, we expect impressive things from you!” Leeteuks words were almost slurring together he was suddenly speaking so quickly, and in moments Taemin was swept back to stand in the line of Tributes, waving himself off of the stage.
As he led the line away back into the room leading to the training arena, away from the cameras, Taemin tried to process everything that had happened. So many thoughts were spinning in his head, all it took was a gentle touch on his shoulder and he jolted skittishly, taken off guard. As he looked to his side, his eyes widened to see Jinki again.
“Well done, 12, you did good.” He smiled softly before being dragged off by his own mentor. Taemin stared after him for a moment; was he being sarcastic? Ironic? Was he mocking Taemin’s interview because it was nothing compared to his own? Or did he really mean it? He sighed, unsure of what kind of person Lee Jinki was, and bothered by the fact he was sparing any of his precious time trying to work it out. He discarded all thoughts of Jinki as he met up to Donghae.
Donghae greeted him warmly, yet Taemin could sense the tension in his body, the way he patted Taemin’s shoulder reassuringly. He knew that Jinki’s actions were a severe worry to Taemin’s own chances, but they said nothing. Part of Taemin was wondering how all these people were possibly able to concentrate so much on the aftermath of Jinki’s interview on him, whilst he himself was so desperately trying to remember every second, every note, every moment of the song.