Summary: AU. Yunho learns that second chances don't come last minute.
The deserted streets were hushed with anticipation, the clouds pregnant with rain and having a difficult birth. Yunho walked carefully in his dress shoes from the limousine to the jeweler’s, evading patches of wet mud that congealed in the cracks between the cobblestones. The street lamps had been lit hours ago and the row of shops on Foley Street were dark except for one.
When Yunho entered, the bell at the top of the door giving its perfunctory ring, Jaejoong was waiting in his dressing gown by the case where the engagement and wedding rings were sold. It was the first time in years Yunho had seen the man so disheveled. It had been years since Yunho had seen him at all. They had first met dimly, in smoke-filled gentlemen’s clubs and billiard rooms, then in warm firelight across glasses of whiskey at the pub. And finally, in rare moments of fragile moonlight and white hotel sheets.
“Your wife or your fiancée?” Jaejoong asked, his eyes unreadable.
“My fiancée.” Yunho pointed at an ornate silver ring. “To be,” he clarified.
Jaejoong nodded, unlocked the glass case and smoothly removed the engagement ring and its padded box. His fingers were fine and manicured. Yunho watched them play over the velvet, hypnotized by their gracefulness and the soothing rise and fall of Jaejoong’s voice as he informed Yunho of the silversmith who had fashioned the ring, its provenance with French nobility, and the meaning of the ten interlacing lilies woven into the metalwork.
Yunho reached out and pressed his hand to Jaejoong’s, lifted it from the ring and circled his wrist. The pulse there remained steady, unmoved. Something in Yunho’s heart lurched, pricked.
“Did you think you could just pick up where you left off?” Jaejoong asked. The glib professional tone in which he had described the merits of the ring was replaced by something infinitely icier.
Yunho smirked self-depreciatingly. “You took my phone call.”
A tic appeared, just for a moment, above the right side of Jaejoong’s lips, then the stoic mask was swiftly replaced. He leaned over the case and slipped the ring and its velvet box into one of the pockets of Yunho’s overcoat.
“For you, free of charge. Now get out. I don’t want to see you again.”
Yunho doffed his hat, the raindrops on it dripping onto Jaejoong’s carpeted floor but the shopkeeper barely took a look. He was already making his way to the back of the shop, up the wooden stairs to his apartment and to bed. Yunho watched him until he was gone. Then he left the shop and walked along the sidewalk until he found the nearest gutter. He flung the ring into it and walked back to his limousine.
He entered the back seat. For a moment he slouched and trembled against the upholstered leather.
“Where to, Sir?” The driver in front asked.
“Away.” Yunho looked as the light above the shop went out. He’d never see it again. “Away from here.”