Rating: R, mostly, with one NC-17 segment
Word count: 29,000
Warnings: Violence, language, child abuse
Other notes: This was my entry for Shinee Big Bang this year! It was a privilege to go up against so many good writers! You can check out the winning entries here! Special shout-out to minearebigger for winning first place! It was such a treat to be their beta reader. ^^
Under the water, the silence filled his ears until only the throbbing of his heart remained. Under the water, his clear eyes gazed up at the reflected ribbons of light that undulated across the ceiling like a school of fish. Under the water, his arms lost their heaviness and floated by his side. Under the water, he was at peace.
For as long as he could hold his breath.
Jonghyun sat up, gasping, in the bath, the water coursing off his hair and over the curved slope of his back, and meeting the water below with a ringing slap. They were fighting still, downstairs, and he could hear the heavy sound of his father’s feet on the linoleum, as he paced, as he always did, in front of the kitchen table. His mother was talking now, very rapidly, in sharp, querulous bursts, interrupted every few moments by the deeper rumble of his father’s voice. And standing out against it all, the shrill beeping of the oven timer, which invaded and dominated his brain until that was all he could hear, and he felt he might go mad if he had to listen to the insistent noise for one more moment.
He hurriedly washed himself and stood up in the tepid bathwater, shivering as he waited for most of the water to scurry down his back and legs. There was a bathmat, but he was not supposed to stand on it while soaking wet, or he would be scolded for leaving it sodden on the floor. At last he lifted one foot and shook it clear of the water before placing it neatly on the bathmat, followed by the other. Only then did he reach for the thin towel on the counter in front of him, and palm his shaggy hair roughly with it, before wrapping it neatly around his hips.
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