A Drop of Love in TVXQ's Red Ocean

the ramblings of an international Cassiopeian

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What is Emotion?
Title: What is Emotion?
Pairing: Yunjae
Genre: Angst, Incest
Rating: PG
Length: Ficlet
Summary: Helping Jaejoong with homework was not supposed to dredge up buried feelings.
Warning: One-sided brother-brother love and an 11-year age gap.


“Hyung, what is emotion?”

Yunho looked up from his laptop, simultaneously saving his draft dissertation as he spun around in his chair to greet his visitor. His brother stood in the doorway in his pyjamas, clutching a sheet of paper and a pen. Homework help again, he guessed. “Sorry, you were saying?”

Jaejoong blinked. “What’s emotion? I need a two-hundred-word explanation on what it is, accompanied by a few well-explained examples. Due tomorrow.”

Yunho closed his eyes.

Emotion. What was emotion?

He knew all too well what it was.

Emotion was seeing his brother finally arrive at home after nine months of anticipation, his tiny pink body wrapped in a blanket, carried in the arms of his mother. It was the feeling of cradling his seven-pound body to his own and staring into those dark eyes that blinked innocently up at him, completely oblivious to everything else. It was rocking Jaejoong to sleep in his arms, watching his eyes flutter shut and his lips part slightly to blow spit bubbles.

Emotion was hearing his brother call him for the first time. It was realising that the first word Jaejoong spoke was hyung. It was running over to grab his one-year-old brother and toss him up into the air and catch him, and listen to him squeal in delight. It was hearing him saying it again and again and again, hyung, hyung, hyung, hyung, hyung, as Yunho bounced him up every time. It was collapsing into a giggly pile on the carpet as their parents looked on, commenting on how well they were getting along with each other. It was catching the adoring gaze his brother gave him, telling his hyung what he couldn’t say in words.

Emotion was waving bye-bye to his brother as he walked excitedly through the gates on his first day of school, carrying a bright red backpack filled with snacks. It was rushing over to the kindergarten after his own lessons had ended and waiting impatiently for him to be dismissed. It was watching him emerge from the gates and run into his arms and hug him tight, babbling cheerfully away. It was walking home with Jaejoong, his small hand clinging tightly to his own as they crossed roads and ambled down streets.

Emotion was listening to his brother gush about his new best friend and how funny he was and how much he liked him. It was watching them playing together in Jaejoong’s room as he watched through a crack in the doorway. It was seeing his brother smile like he smiled at Yunho, except that it was for someone else. It was knowing that he wasn’t irreplaceable in Jaejoong’s heart.

Emotion was seeing his brother come home fighting back tears over a cruel prank that his “friends” had played on him and the endless teasing that had followed. It was holding Jaejoong close and reassuring him that he wasn’t stupid, he wasn’t foolish and gullible, and wiping his tears away when they finally came. It was rubbing his back and soothing him gently when he got to the gaspy, hiccupy stage. It was stroking his head as he sniffled and telling him don’t worry, hyung will always take care of you.

Emotion was watching from the audience as the teacher called out his brother’s name and Jaejoong walked onstage, all one hundred and forty centimetres of him exuding as much confidence as an eleven-year-old can. It was clapping enthusiastically as he accepted his primary school graduation certificate and walked offstage, grinning widely. It was finally arriving in front of him after the ceremony, after squeezing past his circle of schoolmates and clamouring girls – whether they were after him or Jaejoong, he wasn’t sure – and letting a mere gaze, a gaze that meant so much, pass between them. It was feeling Jaejoong fling his arms around him and hug him hard in front of all his buddies. It was hearing Jaejoong tell his friends proudly, That’s my hyung!, once he thought Yunho was out of earshot.

Emotion was watching his brother enter his teen years and noticing how he was changing. It was being pushed away by him as he tried to become more independent, more man. It was realising that beneath the cold, strong façade that his brother built up around himself, he was still the sweet, naïve Jaejoong that Yunho knew. It was being woken an hour early by his frightened brother whispering about the mysterious white stuff in his pants and asking if he was going to die. It was assuring him that it was perfectly normal. It was explaining the birds and the bees to him in subsequent nights because his parents felt that the awkwardness of explaining it once (to Yunho) was more than enough and they didn’t want to do it again. It was laughing at Jaejoong’s deep blush as Yunho got into the details. It was being reassured that Jaejoong was really completely comfortable with discussing anything with him.

Emotion was listening to his brother confess that sometimes his heart fluttered when he saw a certain girl at school. It was helping him understand what he was feeling, helping him figure out the concept of love. It was teaching him the difference between brotherly love and romantic love while never telling him that he wished theirs could develop into the latter, never telling him that he wanted more, so much more than the brotherhood and friendship they shared.

Emotion was knowing his feelings would never be returned.

“Hello? Hyung? Did you fall asleep or something?” Jaejoong was suddenly in front of him, tapping him on the head. Yunho was all too aware of the wonderful vanilla scent emanating from his freshly showered body, the drops of water sliding from his damp hair and down his neck, his cherry red bottom lip once again swollen from Jaejoong’s constant chewing on it. He sighed and forced those thoughts out of his head.

“Go get a dictionary and write down the definition of ‘emotion’. That’s probably what your teacher is asking for,” Yunho mused. “Then write what you think emotion is. As for the examples, they’ll probably pop into your head as you figure out your own interpretation of the word. I won’t be going to bed until maybe around one, so feel free to look for me if you have trouble. Okay?” He ruffled Jaejoong’s hair, grinning at Jaejoong’s “yah!” as he swatted half-heartedly at the offending hand. “Aigoo, you’re only a high school freshman and they’re already making you write this kind of stuff…”

“We’re not that young, hyung. Anyway, it’s good to think about abstract ideas now so that we have time to develop them as we get older.” Jaejoong paused and frowned. “Hyung, why are you sleeping so late again? You’re always telling me to get enough sleep so that I won’t feel tired in school the next day, but you’re also a student and you almost never sleep before midnight!”

Yunho smiled wistfully. “Dongsaeng, medical graduate school isn't a walk in the park. Besides, my twenty-five-year-old body can take minimal sleep a lot better than your fourteen-year-old body. And you’re still growing, so don’t skimp on sleep!”

Jaejoong rolled his eyes and mock-bowed. “Araseo, hyung-nim, whatever you say.” He padded to the door, turning to blow him a kiss and sing, “Love you!” before disappearing down the hall, his giggles echoing off the cold, hard walls.

Yunho buried his head in his hands and sighed.

Emotion was… complicated.


Inspired by an English assignment from ages ago.

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Nice interaction between Yunho and Jaejoong
(sad to think that they can't end up together because they're brothers...)


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