Junmyeon travels in search of treasures, and finds the finest gem of them all in the corner of his heart.
a/n: for char!
TREASURES OF THE HEART
Treasure hunting is not as difficult as the clichés have made it out to look. It doesn't always involve big maps with singed sides and big, red X's that mark the spot. It doesn't take a strong, tall man to find a treasure. It doesn't mean a long, tiresome quest across the seven seas, battling monsters and sickness with friends at your side to find a chest full of gold.
Because treasures aren't always gold, and the hunter doesn't always have a map. Sometimes, the treasure hunter is only 173 centimeters with lean muscles and a hearty smile. His only helpers are his cellphone, Google, his backpack, and his wallet, battling slow Internet connection and traffic to get to his destination.
And sometimes, his treasures are not material possessions, but memories (and people) instead.
Junmyeon wouldn't say he has wanderlust, so to speak, but rather an urge to see the world and the treasures it holds for him. He enjoys collectors' items, and scavenges the world (but by that, he means South Korea only, because college loans have crippled his funds to travel anywhere else) to find the best for his price range.
So far, he's gathered a nice assortment of random, little trinkets from vintage and hand-me-down shops. From an old, beat-up watch to a tiny glass doll, Junmyeon carries his collection proudly. After all, one man's trash is another man's treasure.
But even better than the knickknacks are the stories he hears. The watch told a tale of a middle-aged man from the early 1900's, who marked his first success with the purchase of a silver watch from the town's jeweler. The glass doll, engraved with a name underneath, is a one-of-a-kind, handmade by the girl's father as a birthday present twenty years ago.
Each story is collected just as their trinkets are, written into a leather journal stuffed into Junmyeon's backpack.
It's not much of a life, but it's enough.
The bells above the door jingle as Junmyeon steps into the small bookstore. He enjoys places like these, tucked away at the corner of a brick building, with handmade signs signaling cheap, used books outside. They're quaint and cute, like home.
Junmyeon breathes in deeply. It smells of old paper and childhood nostalgia. A smile tugs at Junmyeon's lips as he lets his fingers trail against the binding of a book that looks ready to fall apart if it were opened.
The store reminds him of the library, where he spent countless hours studying and pretending to study as he watched the cute worker re-shelf books nearby. It's a good memory, one Junmyeon looks back at nightly.
"May I help you?" a young-looking worker asks, approaching him from the side. He has bright, aware eyes on an innocent face with bow-shaped lips.
"Ah, no, I'm just looking around," Junmyeon says with a nod, smiling politely.
The worker nods. "Sure, no problem. Just tell me if you need any help," he says, leaving with a bow to help another customer.
The store isn't very crowded. Aside from Junmyeon, two workers, and perhaps three other customers, everything else is books, books, and more books.
Junmyeon used to wonder if it ever felt suffocating, being surrounded by the same thing again and again. Surely working in the same store surrounded by the same books would become tiring. ("It's actually kind of fun, once you get past the people who misplace books," Jongdae told him that night, when he asked. "It's not the same thing. Each book is different.")
He's looking through the science section when a book falls out. He bends to pick it up, and pauses when he sees the title. Human Anatomy 101.
It was an early Sunday evening, Junmyeon in the library cramming for his anatomy test the next morning. But it was hard to focus when his favorite librarian insisted on bending over to place the books on the bottom shelves. Honestly, hadn't Jongdae heard of squatting?
Upon realizing he was staring at the same page for over ten minutes now, Junmyeon finally admitted he really wasn't studying. He prepared to move his stuff to the other side of the library, with the old ladies who were of no distraction, when he bumped into someone.
"Oh, sorry!" Junmyeon apologized immediately. He moved to help the person, but froze when he saw who he ran into.
"It's okay," Jongdae laughed, and Junmyeon's face broke out in a smile. He'd never heard Jongdae laugh before, but it was cute. Junmyeon had no idea a laugh could even sound like that. "Is that an anatomy book?"
Junmyeon blinked. "Uh, yeah."
"You have that test tomorrow?" he guessed with a grin. "Minseok has it too."
Minseok? Junmyeon didn't remember a Minseok in his class. Then again, he didn't really know everyone in that class either; it was too big, and Junmyeon was more focused on notes than anything else.
"He's probably going to end up staying up all night to study," Jongdae snorted. "Keep me up with the light."
Junmyeon's heart fell. So Minseok was his boyfriend? He nodded numbly. "Ah, I see," he mumbled, shuffling with the books in his hands. He just wanted to move and study and forget all about Jongdae's ass now.
"Yeah, since he's my roommate and all," Jongdae added, and there's a hint of teasing in his voice that Junmyeon barely registered as he rejoiced that there still might be a chance with the good-looking librarian.
"Oh," was all Junmyeon managed. Jongdae nodded, a smirk playing at his lips.
"I gotta get back to work before Yifan yells at me again for slacking off. But good luck with studying! It gets real interesting at page 112, actually." Jongdae left with a wink, and Junmyeon pressed the books to his chest harder to keep his heart from jumping out of his chest.
Junmyeon ended up sitting back down at the same spot in the section Jongdae worked at, and flipped to the page 112 of his textbook, Human Anatomy 101. He almost choked when he saw a picture of a penis drawn out in detail, spanning over two pages. He looked up and caught Jongdae's eyes, who smirked at him then returned to reorganizing the books.
Yeah, it got real interesting at page 112.
Junmyeon smiles fondly as he places the textbook back onto a shelf, paying attention to where he puts it so that it's in alphabetical order. Who knows how many times he's heard Jongdae complain about people incorrectly returning books.
He moves on to the classic literature, passing by familiar titles. Junmyeon's always been a fan of the classics, and so has Jongdae.
Junmyeon was pretending to read through the first few pages of Lord of the Flies – a book he's read over four times already – as Jongdae reshelved books nearby. Eventually, Jongdae reached him, and was shelving a book on the top shelf, his chest right in Junmyeon's face. Junmyeon swore he was going to have a heart attack when–
"Ouch," Junmyeon groaned, rubbing his head where the book fell. High shelves and short Jongdae didn't work well together.
"Oh, sorry," Jongdae sighed, picking up the book. "I wasn't really paying attention," he admitted. He glanced at Junmyeon's bump and said, "It really doesn't look bad though?"
"Ah, yeah," Junmyeon said, hissing in pain. "Don't worry about it." After all, how could he be mad at that pretty face?
"Is that Lord of the Flies?" Jongdae asked, immediately changing the subject. "I love that book," he continued, before Junmyeon could even answer. "It's kind of superficial, but I especially like the idea of an all male world." He side-eyed Junmyeon, and Junmyeon swore there was an innuendo behind that.
"Ralph sounded pretty hot, too, how he handled everyone," Jongdae said, licking his lips. It took Junmyeon a lot of willpower not to stare. Jongdae tilted his head at Junmyeon, smirking. "You kind of look like a Ralph."
"I-I do?" Junmyeon stammered, flustered at Jongdae's stare.
"Yeah. Minus the little boys he has to take care or whatever," Jongdae snorted. "The only person you'd have to take care of is me." He smirked, leaning in closer. Their noses were almost touching, and Junmyeon swore he was sweating buckets now.
"But hey, that's just me," Jongdae said, popping back upright. "I like classics. Do you?"
"Y-Yeah, love 'em."
Jongdae smiled. "Great. That gives us something to talk about over coffee."
Jongdae nodded. "Unless you don't want to...?"
"N-No! I'd love to!" Junmyeon said with an eager nod. Jongdae grinned.
"Great. I'll clock out and we can go together." He left, pushing the cart of books with him. If Junmyeon didn't know any better, he'd say Jongdae was even swinging his hips as he left.
But no matter, because Junmyeon finally got that date with Jongdae. Even if all Junmyeon did was stammer like an idiot at Jongdae's flirting tactics.
Junmyeon sighs at memories. He plays with the keychain on his backpack, the one Jongdae chose for him at the train station. He wishes Jongdae could be here with him.
It was a sunny afternoon, and Junmyeon just picked Jongdae up from the library. He only had to work the morning shift that day, and they planned to catch lunch and a movie together. Junmyeon also planned to tell Jongdae of his plans that day.
The car ride was comfortable. Jongdae played with his hand, tracing patterns and telling him stories of how of Yixing, his co-worker, would constantly misplace books because he couldn't read their titles, or how Luhan would accidentally give people the wrong book and how he once gave a book on sex tips to an old lady. Junmyeon laughed at Jongdae's twisted sense of humor.
They pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant and parked. Jongdae moved to get out, but Junmyeon held on.
"What is it?" Jongdae asked. "If you want to make out, that can wait until the movie," he teased with a wink, and Junmyeon laughed.
"No, that's not it. I want to talk to you about something actually."
Jongdae raised an eyebrow. "If this is about that overdue book you still haven't returned, it's okay. I forgive you. But that isn't going to keep the library from charging you."
Junmyeon chuckled. "No, that's not it. I plan to travel, Jongdae."
"Just to get away from a library fine? That's a bit drastic, don't you think?"
Junmyeon rolled his eyes, smiling at Jongdae's smirk. "No, just to look for treasures."
"Sounds medieval," Jongdae laughed. "What makes you want to do that?"
"It sounds fun," Junmyeon said with a shrug. "I've been collecting some stuff from the nearby shops, but I want to get around. I was gonna travel South Korea, and I wanted to know if you'd come with me."
"Travel South Korea with a handsome man in search of treasures?" Jongdae pondered. "Sounds like a tempting cliché."
Junmyeon beamed. "Does that mean you'll go with me?"
Jongdae's smile softened. "A bit too clichéd for me, actually." Junmyeon's hand slackened on his wrist. "Sorry, Junmyeon, but... I just don't have the time to spare for treasure hunting with you."
"It's okay," Junmyeon mumbled, looking away. But really, it wasn't. Junmyeon had it all planned out, to travel with Jongdae and walk on the beach with him, looking for seashells, and everything. Without Jongdae, it didn't seem as fun.
But still, Junmyeon wanted to do this. For himself. And even if Jongdae couldn't go with him, he'd do this alone. He nodded, and Jongdae sighed.
"But I'll be here when you get back," he promised, tightening his hold on Junmyeon's hand reassuringly. "Now let's go eat quickly so we can catch our movie."
Junmyeon wasn't hungry anymore, but he followed anyway.
He's about to leave, heart heavy with memories that books give him, when he trips over something. He recollects himself and turns to see what he fell over, and his heart almost falls when he sees a large treasure box. It's for toys and children's books, and it must've accidentally gotten pushed into the middle of the aisle, but it breaks Junmyeon's heart at the memory of his own treasure box.
It was the day before Junmyeon left. He was packing the most he could into his backpack, and Jongdae was sitting on the bed, humming as he flipped through one of Junmyeon's travel pamphlets.
"They say home is where the treasure's at," Jongdae said, not meeting Junmyeon's eyes.
Junmyeon smiled softly. "I think the quote goes, 'Home is where the heart is.' Not the treasure."
Jongdae snorted, tossing the pamphlet back at Junmyeon and laying down. "Haven't you heard that the heart is the finest treasure of them all?"
"In those sappy romance books, yes."
"You love those romance books," Jongdae laughed, making Junmyeon smile. "I know you check them out when I'm not on duty."
"Sure, you cheeseball." Jongdae threw a pillow at him, but Junmyeon ducked and it fell onto the floor. He picked it up and placed it on the bed carefully.
"Will you miss me?" Junmyeon asked instead. He stared at Jongdae, who closed his eyes.
"No," Jongdae sighed, laying an arm over his eyes. "Of course I will, you idiot. But I'm not gonna stop you from doing what you want. I'm not some clingy boyfriend. I am a strong, independent man, you know."
"Of course." Junmyeon smiled.
"Just remember to bring me back something. And don't sleep with anyone else, or I will cut your balls off and stuff them into a treasure chest," Jongdae threatened, and Junmyeon didn't have to ask if he was being serious – he knew he was.
Junmyeon was packing his sleeping clothes when he saw it – a little treasure chest. "What is this?" he asked, picking it up. It's made of wood, small enough to be held in the palm of Junmyeon's hand.
Jongdae opened his eyes to peek at Junmyeon before closing them again. "A treasure chest. I thought you'd recognize them by now."
Junmyeon laughed. "Yeah, but what is it for?"
"I dunno. I just saw it one day as I was walking and it reminded me of you, so I bought it. Don't worry. It wasn't that expensive," Jongdae mumbled. Junmyeon grinned, putting it down carefully ontop of his clothes and sitting on the bed. He made his way over to Jongdae's side and wrapped his arms around him.
"Thank you," he murmurred into Jongdae's neck.
"Stop that," Jongdae huffed, halfheartedly pushing his chest away. "It's no big deal."
"It is to me, though."
"Yeah, yeah. Go pack your tighty whities now," Jongdae said, kicking him. "Hurry so we can sleep." Junmyeon smiled softly and complied without arguing.
Junmyeon sighs and pushes the treasure chest back into its place. The worker from before comes jogging over, a concerned look on his face. "Are you okay, sir?"
"I'm fine," Junmyeon says with a nod.
"Sorry about that. Someone must've misplaced it," the worker sighs, shaking his head.
"It's okay, really," Junmyeon reassures with a weak smile. The worker frowns at him, but Junmyeon just bows and leaves the store. He checks his watch, then makes his way for the bus stop.
There's one more place on his map.
"I don't care if you want to check out Running Man Season 4 – we. Do. Not. Have. It. Now tell me the stupid drama you're actually looking for so I can get on with my day." Junmyeon smiles. Typical Jongdae. He watches as the man gets flustered and storms off, and Jongdae roll his eyes and cross his arms.
This is the last place. Junmyeon makes a full circle by returning to the place where everything seemed to have started.
Junmyeon checks twice to see if Jongdae is busy. It's funny that Junmyeon, who takes charge of the world and doesn't take 'no' for an answer, hesitates at the sight of his boyfriend at the library he works at. After a small pep-talk, Junmyeon slowly approaches the desk.
"Look, we have Secret Garden if you– Junmyeon," Jongdae says, voice startled. But he keeps a cool look, watching Junmyeon closely, a small smile at his lips already. Junmyeon smiles back, stomach filled with butterflies. "You're back."
"Yeah," Junmyeon answers, and he wants to say more, to do more, but everything is stuck at the back of his throat when he sees Jongdae smile wider. When was the last time he saw that smile? How many weeks have passed since Junmyeon approached Jongdae with a heavy heart, asking him to see South Korea with him? How much time has elapsed since Jongdae said no, with that secret smile of his, but promised to wait if Junmyeon brought him back a treasure of his own?
"Done seeing Korea, eh? Did you bring me back a treasure?" Jongdae asks, grinning as he leans over the counter. Same old Jongdae, playful as always.
"Yeah, I'm... done with traveling for now," Junmyeon says with a soft laugh. "I missed home." I missed you.
"'Course. I don't even know why you wanted to travel. You never left Seoul once in your life, and then one day, you decide to pack up and just go." Junmyeon wonders if he's imagine the slight tint of sadness laced into Jongdae's usually teasing words. "Bastard," Jongdae adds in at the last moment, and Junmyeon chuckles.
"I offered to take you," he sighs, and Jongdae's smile softens.
"I know, but I don't want to leave. I like it here, dirty books and air sprays and all." Jongdae shrugs, and Junmyeon knows Jongdae well enough to know that's not completely true. But he also knows he missed Jongdae enough to agree to these dirty books and air sprays.
"Mm, I like it too," Junmyeon muses, eyes never leaving Jongdae.
Jongdae raises an eyebrow then snorts. "Right. Anyway, where's my treasure? You brought me one back, right?" He sticks his hands out, waiting for a present, only to be met with Junmyeon's hands.
"I don't need this," Jongdae teases with a laugh, although he lets their fingers intertwine. "I already have you."
Junmyeon's heart skips a beat, because Jongdae really did wait for him. He takes in a deep breath, and says, "I didn't bring you back anything."
Jongdae only shrugs. "Well, you can always share your treasures then. I'm sure you have enough for the two of us," he laughs, and Junmyeon smiles.
"I do, but there's one thing I want to keep to myself. It's my favorite treasure."
Jongdae raises an eyebrow. "Oh, really? I never pegged you as selfish, Kim Junmyeon," he teases. "What's so important that you can't even share with me?"
"You," Junmyeon says, and he waits to gauge Jongdae's reaction. He expects him to laugh, or smack him and call him "cheesy." But, to his surprise, Jongdae just smiles.
"I kind of missed your sappiness," he admits with a laugh. He swings their arms playfully, and Junmyeon flushes. He opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. Jongdae leaves him speechless, as clichéd as it sounds.
"But did you really not find anything better? No gold, jewels, priceless heirlooms?" Jongdae asks, placing his other hand on his hip mockingly. "I mean, you were gone for over a month, and I'm the best out there? And I wasn't even out there – I was here. You didn't even have to leave."
Junmyeon chuckles. "I did find some heirlooms, but I don't know if they were priceless," he says, and Jongdae snorts.
"You are a lame treasure hunter. Next time you decide to travel the world, I'm going with you. We're going to look for the real stuff. Get us a crew full of pirates, too," Jongdae says, and Junmyeon laughs, shaking his head. Anything with Jongdae is fine.
"Okay, but I probably won't be going anywhere anytime soon. I'm happy here." With you.
"Here? In this library full of old books?" Jongdae teases. "I thought this was boring to you."
"But you aren't," Junmyeon reminds him, daringly pressing a kiss to Jongdae's nose. Jongdae smirks, leaning in for more. Their lips brush, and Junmyeon feels like a little boy again, receiving his first kiss. Jongdae's impatient though, pressing in for more, when Junmyeon pulls back.
"Ah, not here," he mumbles, embarrassed. Jongdae rolls his eyes, but smiles.
"Well, I'm going on break anyway. We can do more over lunch, right?" he asks slyly, and Junmyeon's face heats up.
"S-Sure. But it's only 10:00, and your lunch break isn't until 11:30–"
"Kris will understand," Jongdae cuts him off. He walks around the counter and grabs Junmyeon's hands again, not before pressing another kiss to Junmyeon's lips. He lets his tongue slide over Junmyeon's lips, eliciting a soft moan from Junmyeon before Jongdae pulls away this time.
"Nuh uh, lunch first, pretty boy," Jongdae says with a smirk, pulling Junmyeon out of the library and back into his life.
Junmyeon has stopped treasure hunting, because he has found the biggest, brightest, greatest treasure of them all – love, in the form of a rather snarky librarian named Jongdae.
And although he no longer travels from city to city, collecting new trinkets and new stories, he now travels with Jongdae, from the library to the coffee shop to the park. A kiss can be a trinket in his heart, and whispers from Jongdae can be lines in their love story.
It's not much of a life, but it's more than enough for Junmyeon.