Wishes don't always come true.
Sometimes, Jaebum wished for quiet.
There were moments, not too long ago, when he could've taken Jinyoung's hand, pulled him to whatever dingy little room they could afford and lie down on the bed, pressed close to Jinyoung.
He could've listened to the other's heartbeat, match his own breathing to the calm rhythm of Jinyoung's inhales and exhales and hear nothing else.
With Jinyoung, he didn't have to keep his guard up. They'd seen each other at their worst and at their best, and everything in between.
It was different, now.
”JB!” came a almost comically loud holler from somewhere behind him, ”what d'ya wanna eat?”
Jaebum turned slightly in his seat at the table they had claimed as theirs in the area you could, possibly, if you lied a little to yourself, call the dining area at the inn.
Kunpimook whipped his head around, black hair flipping into his eyes, looking from Yugyeom to Jaebum, and did his best impersonation of a puppy. It was good, Jaebum had to admit, but he knew what really lurked behind his round, brown eyes and pouting lips.
”The stew?” Kunpimook said, words ending with a hopeful lilt, ”please, hyung, we really wanna try it.”
Jaebum raised his eyebrow at the younger boy at the use of plural, and caught the slight shove Kunpimook served to Yugyeom's ribs with his sharp elbow.
Their youngest looked up from his book (The Lectures of First Enchanter Wenselus, by the looks of it), a frown marring his features and words prepared on his tongue, but the look Kunpimook was giving him apparently meant something to him.
Yugyeom sighed, and with restraint Jaebum was kind of proud of, didn't roll his eyes, but turned to Jaebum instead.
”Yes, hyung, please,” he said with a sweet smile and turned back to his book. Kunpimook gave Jaebum a triumphant grin.
”The stew,” Jaebum called back to Jackson who was giving their order to the waitress behind the counter. ”And get a loaf of bread!”
Jaebum paused for a beat.
”And nothing else,” he addressed Mark who was at the counter with Jackson. All he got in response was a lopsided smile.
He glanced to his right, where Jinyoung was sitting and saw him smiling at him, eyes crinkled at the corners and tongue between his teeth. Jaebum debated between smiling back or smacking Jinyoung.
He knew he had made the right choice when Jinyoung's eyebrows shot up and his mouth slackened in surprise.
Jaebum let his smile soften even more before looking to Youngjae sitting opposite him.
Youngjae was poking morosely at the bandage around his left hand, the cuff of his shirt was still a bit bloody. Jaebum reached over to stop him from unwinding the protective cloth.
The younger one looked up and Jaebum quietly shook his head.
”You know, Yugyeom is not bandaging that again if you somehow manage to screw it up,” Kunpimook announced imperiously, tilting his head and staring at Youngjae's right hand still hovering over his left.
Yugyeom looked up from his book again, glancing first at Kunpimook and then at Youngjae, ”I would.”
That made the corner of Youngjae's mouth lift up.
”Thank you, Yugyeom.”
Kunpimook let out a huff and crossed his arms over his chest. Then he was off, chattering a mile a minute at Yugyeom, who looked more amused than anything else and somehow Youngjae got dragged into the heated debate about proper procedures following a battle and how to appreciate a friend's help.
At least it was heated on Kunpimook's part.
Jinyoung nudged Jaebum's leg with his to get his attention.
He murmured just loud enough for Jaebum to hear over the noise of the inn, ”it wasn't your fault.”
Jaebum may have forgotten how to breathe for a moment. He eyed the serious look on Jinyoung's face and bit his lip.
He didn't get the chance to respond before Jackson and Mark were back at their table, one carrying a pot of stew and the other a big loaf of bread. The waitress was behind them to set down bowls and cutlery.
They sat down next to Youngjae, Jackson immeadiately drawn in to the debate that had somehow evolved from Youngjae's bandaged hand to the pros and cons of poultices and Mark silently distributed the bowls and spoons.
It was kind of incredible how loudly Kunpimook and Jackson could talk, even while stuffing their faces.
To Jaebum's eternal dismay, Jinyoung decided to weigh in his opinion, because now the topic had changed to professions, and Kunpimook was declaring his rogue training to be superior to a warrior's.
Jackson and Youngjae were protesting this, so of course Jinyoung had to fan the flames of the fire and point out that obviously they were all wrong, the one true fighting style was dual-wielding daggers.
Mark smirked and held his hand up over the table to receive the high-five Jinyoung bestowed upon him, which then caused Jackson to gape at Mark, eyes dramatically wide because of the perceived betrayal.
This started another round of arguments. Jaebum just hunched down over his bowl and continued eating the stew, which was fortunately quite delicious. He did startle a bit when he heard Yugyeom clear his throat.
”You would all be dead without me.”
There was a moment of silence. Jaebum didn't dare hope it'd last.
Jackson's mouth was already open to deliver a retort, but then he frowned in thought and wisely decided against arguing with their healer. He shrugged, stole a piece of bread from Youngjae (”hyung!”) and returned to his meal like they hadn't been almost shouting at each other for the last ten minutes.
Jaebum resisted the urge to sigh and instead gave a piece of his bread to Youngjae, noting the grateful smile that earned him and he tucked it safely into his memory.
”Why don't I get food from you?” Jackson whined, a pout on his lips. Jaebum decided to not grace the question with an answer and he didn't need to, because Mark was there for him like a proper underling.
”You don't deserve any more food,” he said, kicking Jackson's calf under the table. The pout was replaced by an overly wounded look.
”Ah, my Mark, you're so cruel,” Jackson sighed and in place of sympathy it earned him a surprised laugh from Mark. The pleased look in Jackson's eyes probably meant he didn't mind, no matter how much he acted like he'd just been scorned.
Because they'd been forced to save on their accomodations (thank you for that, Jackson), they were packed into one room. It was a bit on the small side, but they made it work anyway.
Jaebum was lying down on his back on the blanket he'd spread out on the floor, eyes closed and trying to fall asleep.
Youngjae was already off in dreamland, occasionally muttering something in his sleep and Jaebum could hear Jackson whispering to Mark even though he couldn't make out the words. Mark would periodically hum in agreement or let out a quiet huff of laughter.
Kunpimook or Yugyeom was tossing and turning on the bed the older ones had graciously decided to give to the two youngest before there was a put upon sigh.
”Yugyeom, you're stealing the blanket,” Kunpimook said, voice sleepy.
”Then come closer, idiot,” Yugyeom replied, even though he sounded like he was still at least half-asleep.
At the rustling sound next to him, Jaebum cracked his eyes open slightly to see Jinyoung settling down on the blanket beside him.
Noticing Jaebum watching him, Jinyoung smiled and crowded closer. He slipped his hand into Jaebum's and burrowed his face into Jaebum's shoulder, breath warm through the fabric of his shirt.
Jaebum listened to Jinyoung's breathing, to the sound of Jackson's voice still carrying across the room, and the random words or sentences Youngjae would say. He listened to the quiet snuffling that came from the bed where Yugyeom and Kunpimook were now huddled under one blanket.
He squeezed Jinyoung's hand gently.
Sometimes, Jaebum wished for quiet.
But it was only sometimes.