Four: Between Dream and Reality
(Everything was really just—)
Jaejoong’s mind was racing with different scenes and thoughts. Too many for him to deal with.
I’m going to die! He thought to himself. Run over by a huge, heavy truck! If only I’d stayed at home a little longer and take some breakfast, this wouldn’t be happening …
Everything seemed to be moving in a slow motion, and he prayed for once he could be back at his warm and cosy couch just next to Changmin. But he knew there was nothing he could do about. Nothing except keeping his eyes closed as tightly as possible, and so, he did. About a second passed, yet nothing happened. Then another, still nothing happened.
Jaejoong began to wonder what on earth was going on. But right at that moment, he felt himself slipping into unconsciousness. He felt a sense of warmth begin to engulf him. Like the warmth and cosiness of his couch that he’d been praying for.
It was a minute later when Jaejoong felt the rays from the morning sun touched his face. He quickly got up from his deep slumber since the sunlight which came through the curtains woke him up. He slowly opened his eyes adjusting to the amount of light that his eyes consumed. He glanced around and found himself in his bedroom. He was wearing his favourite Hello Kitty pyjamas.
Had it all been just a dream? But it felt so real. And he remembered it all clearly— the truck horn, Changmin’s screams, the shrieks of nearby pedestrians. Too clear for it to be a dream.
Jaejoong slowly got out of his bed. Nothing in his house had changed. The bookshelf was still there with nothing missing and Jiji, his Russian blue cat, was playing with the wooden blocks laying around. Oddly, there was no sight of Junsu, or neither Yoochun. He was certainly that Yoochun’s appearance was real, but was it a fragment of his horrid dreams too?
Jaejoong was struck by a sudden headache. He looked over at the clock and saw that it was now 7 a.m. So he had plenty time for a nice breakfast before strolling off to his café. That meant he wouldn’t be running late and wouldn’t be tired, sleepy— which caused him to be hit by a truck in his dream.
And it was a dream, wasn’t it? If it wasn’t, then time must have turned back, and surely that would never happen.
Despite having plenty of time to eat, Jaejoong didn’t have much of an appetite Instead, he got ready and left the house right away.
What if this is really the second time for me to leave the house today? If one stranger thing happens today, then surely I’ll go mad!
As he reached the crossroads, possibly for the second time, he looked for Changmin but the man was nowhere to be found. And there was no out-of-control truck either. So he just carried on and made his way to the café safely.
It was coming from behind him. Strangely, it was the voice he had acquainted to, yet he refused to believe himself as he remembered the voice owner had horrible injuries last night. He turned around, and saw, one and only, Park Yoochun, looking so fine and rather in a cheerful mood. All the colours on Jaejoong’s face drained.
Everything was really just—
“Is everything okay?” He was jolted out of his thoughts by the familiar voice. “You look a little pale.”
Yoochun was always the attentive one, every so often he noticed the little things happened around him. Jaejoong shook his head, waving it off which resulted to Yoochun’s confused mien. The elder was considering whether he should tell the taller guy about his dream. Yoochun was a bit mature anyway, and might be able to provide him some sort of insight. But he quickly decided that it might be better to wait for Changmin to arrive so all of them could talk about it together.
“Are you sure?” Yoochun asked softly after a few moments. And he could only nod, though his mind can’t barely understand what was really happening. His mind jumbled with impossible thoughts which were very impossible indeed – he was really dreaming, and still was or he was certainly crazy.
- - -
“You have anything to talk in your mind that you would like to share with me, Jae hyung?”
Jaejoong dropped the cupcakes tray into the wire rack and turned around. Confused, he shook his head. Yoochun smiled, a little and pat his back.
“What are you doing?” Yoochun hovered his hand to the wire rack. Jaejoong returned his smile and nodded, “Oh, this?” The elder grinned excitedly.
“Spiced apple cupcakes!”
“Is it today’s special?”
“Yeah. Here,” he passed a warm cupcake to Yoochun and lick a gob of maple buttercream from his thumb, “Try tasting it.” Yoochun’s eyes widened as he tasted it in a big bite.
“I used half the sugar this and buttercream instead of royal icing. But nothing can beat the chocolate devil, hmm?”
“Whatever you did, it’s delish,” Yoochun wiped his hand on his purple apron and sat on the kitchen’s stool nearby. For the nth times, Jaejoong was satisfied. He enjoyed baking very much. There’s something peaceful about it— just him and his marble kitchen with his red iPod on low. But he’s the happiest man alive the moment he received compliments about his sweet treats from people around him; his family, his friends, his workers, his everyday customers and not-really-everyday customers, and his lover.
He rinsed the mixing bowls and set them back on the countertops, rummaging through the storage room for the next batch: grated apples, egg, castor sugar, unsalted butter, plain flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, allspice, vanilla essence and some salt.
He mixed together the flour, soda, soda, cinnamon and allspice in one bowl and set aside. Using his electric mixer on the speed of three, he beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy in a another large mixing bowl, about five minutes. Yoochun was fiddling his Xperia Z. Jaejoong peeped a bit and saw his soul mate was reading news online.
“Changmin arrive yet, Chun?” Jaejoong asked.
“Nope, but he sent me a message a while ago.”
“What did he say?”
“Something about being here around noon.” The younger’s eyes were still on his smartphone. Five minutes passed and Jaejoong then added vanilla and the egg, and wait for it to beat until well combined. Later, he threw the grated apples in there.
Yoochun looked over the countertops saw the mixture looked slightly weird and curdled. “Are you sure you put the correct ingredients?” Forehead creasing.
Jaejoong laughed and glanced at the bowl. “As long as it’s delish, I think the look doesn’t matter.” With the mixer on low speed, he gradually added the flour mixture until just joint. He lifted the white mixing bowl and scraped the batter into aluminium foil baking cups, filling each one three quarter precisely and slid the cupcake tins into the oven with timer set for 20 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius.
As the silence draped over the room, Jaejoong turned to look up at Yoochun. “What happened last night?” he decided to start the conversation.
Clearly confused, the younger just blinked at him. “Where’s the fire?” Yoochun questioned for his soul mate’s randomness.
“I don’t know, probably on the stove.”
“Are you sure you are okay? You really look pale.”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” said Jaejoong, shook his head. “I couldn’t sleep as much.”
- - -