Actions

Work Header

this sickness called love

Work Text:

 

Just like how butterfly would flutter down and settle on a flower, the sickness planted its root into his lung just like that.

 

First came the cough. He’s not an invincible human being. One cough or another wouldn’t matter that much to him. He took his time praising God for not giving him severe cold—though, admittedly, he grudgingly cursed the pain around his chest. He dared himself to not take medicine, thinking the cough would disappear alongside the time. These days, who doesn’t get cold?

 

Then, a tiny petal fell onto his lap.

 

 

 

 

“I have always wondered what kind of flower is it.”

 

The sudden remark froze Yongguk, rendering him in loss for word as he stood beside the hospital bed for one. The black haired boy on the said bed, in other hand, looked at him thoughtfully; seeking for an answer despite knowing that he might own none of such.

 

He was not sure how to receive and, worse, react to the sudden statement. Should he just play it off as mere joke amidst the grim mood in the hospital? Should he just answer it seriously? Mostly, giving a legitimate answer would be the safest route. Then again, you never know how one would cope with the fact that they’re dying. People tend to react in an unexpected way, especially someone like Kenta.

 

“I don’t know.” Yongguk trailed his word, tilting his head as if he needed more time to think about the answer. He decided to just go for it. “Maybe you ate watermelon seed; it might be watermelon’s flower.”

 

Relief was the first thing that surged into him when he reived a weak chuckle instead of silence. Surely, sickness hadn’t dulled Kenta’s sense of humour. The way Kenta’s eyes lit up in happiness was a warm sight inside the cold room. He couldn’t help but laugh alongside Kenta, slightly changing the gloomy mood.

 

The said relief disappeared as soon as a flower petal fell onto the white blanket alongside a coughing fit.

 

His hand was moved to reach out only to be blocked by a thin hand. Kenta shook his head slowly as he muttered, “I am okay.” That didn’t convince Yongguk for good, but he knew that backing off would be the best action for the time being. He could settle with worrying about Kenta by himself.

 

He wondered if he could stop himself from asking a lot of things forever, especially regarding how much time Kenta had left before he start sputtering blood alongside the petal.

 

“You will eventually agree to do the surgery ... right?”

 

Kenta managed a nod, though he appeared unsure himself. His smile had been long since gone.

 

Yongguk couldn’t push the topic any longer; he guessed that Kenta hadn’t let go of his own feeling willingly. Going through surgery, if he remembered it correctly, means losing the feeling he felt for whoever was it that he was in unrequited love with. If the condition were not as severe as this, Kenta probably wouldn’t have given up on it, he bet.

 

“At least you will get better soon if you decide to undergo the surgery.”

 

After he undergo the surgery, the restlessness in him would go away, right?

 

Kenta shrugged as he pulled the blanket to cover him more. “Mostly.”

 

He wondered just who made Kenta fall that hard. It made his chest ache a little bit.

 

 

 

 

It was late night, way past the visiting hour. Even so, his room was still dimly lit. It seemed as though he was waiting for someone. Instead of beating around the bush, he would gladly spell it for anyone—he was waiting for Yongguk. He was waiting for the regular in his room aside from his family; he was waiting for his dear friend that accompanied him through the sickness with patience.

 

Sometimes, Yongguk didn’t even try to treat him in any way. He just stuck close, phone on his hand and earbud on one ear. He always had at least one ear free to listen closely in case anything were to happen. The little worry he expressed through such small action was something that Kenta found very endearing from his friend.

 

Thinking back at it again, Yongguk wasn’t the one who came first to visit him when he got hospitalized. To be frank, he was the last one to come. Instead of slamming the hospital door, he opened it slowly as if trying not to bother a sleeping lion. His expression was rather mixed, but he saw a glint of forced rigidness. As if he was trying not to worry anyone; as if he was trying to appear collected. His bloodshot eyes gave everything away, though.

 

He remembered the first thing Yongguk asked Kenta that day, “Who is it?”

 

As if he had recited the question inside his head for the whole day; as if he was ready to punch the living shit out of the person. Kenta refused to answer him, and he would never waver while knowing that taking Yongguk’s sharp words lightly would cost too much.

 

He’s always that way in front of Kenta—the reliable younger brother figure; the caring friend that would help him in any situation.

 

Ever since, Yongguk came every day. Sometimes for hours long until the nurse nagged him to leave Kenta alone. Sometimes not even for an hour filled with light talks and silence.

 

Looking at the IV drops, Kenta got reminded of how Yongguk would frantically press the emergency button when his blood flowed out of his system to the tube that was supposed to give him the necessary nutrients. He didn’t seem to know that it happens quite often. Whoever treated him when he got hospitalized must have been so careful so that he wouldn’t notice such thing.

 

Then, he noticed a small flower petal bookmark on his bedside. The younger must’ve left it there. Ironic, considering Kenta’s condition, but it made sense for Yongguk to bring at least one with him. He remembered how some times ago Yongguk had been crazy over pressed bookmark. He had bought a pressed maple leaf bookmark and made a cherry blossom one himself last time he checked. He didn’t know that there’s one with pastel blue petal. He made a note inside his head to ask about the flower’s name later.

 

He wanted to look around more, but he could feel Yongguk’s absence drilling a hole inside his chest. He missed even the sound of his friend’s soft breathing and his soft hum of his new favourite song. He wasn’t sure since when did he start to look forward to receive various present the younger brought to cheer Kenta up.

 

He knew he shouldn’t expect his friend to visit him every day, but what could break Yongguk’s habit of coming to Kenta’s room just like usual?

 

He fell asleep with the thought swirling around his mind.

 

 

 

 

He woke up being greeted by a soft hum coming from beside his bed.

 

Knowing the characteristic of the hum really well, Kenta hid a smile as he tried to not make any movement in fear that he would halt the person sitting beside him from continuing the small showcase of the song he was listening to.

 

In contrary, Yongguk knew what Kenta was trying to do.

 

The older needed to work on how he play pretend. He clearly saw the edge of the other’s lips twitching, holding back a smile from his face. Yongguk held himself back from hitting Kenta’s cheek playfully and played along instead. Once in a while, something other than silence is necessary inside the hospital room.

 

The serenity in the melodies that Yongguk hummed was contagious. A temporary peaceful state of mind was precisely what Kenta needed, too. It didn’t lull him back to sleep, but it was enough to make Kenta unconsciously move his feet alongside the beat. For a brief moment, he forgot about the little play he was in.

 

The younger’s eyes didn’t miss the mistake. “Idiot.” He whispered, cutting his little show abruptly with a laughter.

 

Kenta groaned. “Did you just call me ‘idiot’?”

 

“No? Weren’t you sleeping? How did you know what did I say earlier? Good morning, by the way.”

 

“No! I mean, I was sleeping, but ... anyway, that’s beside the point!”

 

Yongguk buried his face to Kenta’s bed, body trembling from holding back his laughter, which invited the owner to scowl at him in disapproval. He gave a light nudge to Yongguk’s head using his knee as Yongguk started to cough.

 

“Is this that funny for you?” Kenta asked, deepening his scowl. Though he was half joking, he was curious as to why Yongguk found the little feud to be so funny that he choked.

 

“I mean,” Yongguk coughed once again, wincing slightly at the pain. “Not really. I just want to laugh.”

 

Lame excuse, Kenta thought, but never said it out loud. Yongguk can be weird at times, and trust the boy he knew that better than almost anyone. Sometimes, leaving him be would save you from headache. Kenta was suffering from a ridiculous disease already, he needed no headache for the moment.

 

Yongguk exhaled loudly, still resting his head on Kenta’s bed. “I saw a nurse peeking through that small window.” Yongguk’s gaze found its way onto the window on Kenta’s room’s door. “She looked like she would love to kick me out from here.”

 

Instinctively, Kenta followed where Yongguk was looking at. He spot no one there, which made him question the validity of the younger’s statement. Even when Kenta was about to protest, Yongguk didn’t waver at all. His longing stare was stern, like it refused to let go to some sort of hope.

 

“Wish you can get out from here soon, before she kicks us out.”

 

Kenta should have known that the topic would be brought up.

 

Little statement, lots of hope, and even more thought put into it. Weird how just in less a minute ago Yongguk’s warm voice was everywhere around the room, yet in the end quietness occupied it.

 

Maybe he had been unfair. Of course his friend would be worried about him. Naturally, he would want his friend to be free from disease. Even if those times they spent together there was filled with happiness; even if Kenta had a hard time deciding whether to do the surgery or not.

 

Maybe he was being too selfish, after all.

 

“Sure,” Kenta chuckled as he covered his whole body with blanket. “Wait for it.”

 

He wanted to stop being selfish.

 

 

 

 

“It’s him again.” The voice was bland; he felt like his heart wavered for a bit.

 

He couldn’t deny it, not when the growth of his sickness had been rapid. People said that the flower tend to grow faster when you dwell on your feeling for too much, by meeting the cause of the sickness, but he used to think that it’s just a myth to scare the young and careless. Experiencing it now himself, he couldn’t even start to talk bad about those people.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“I told you he won’t make anything better. He’s a nuisance ... for now.”

 

His friend had always been one to be honest. People would mistake his sweet look for someone with pretty lies on the tip of his tongue; instead, his doe like eyes might be batted and he would say the harshest truth like it’s an everyday thing. Naivety is a dual-edged knife, for he is still a sweetheart nevertheless.

 

He scratched his head, unable to answer. An adult is supposed to know what they’re doing, and yet there was him. A (supposedly) full-fledged adult with responsibilities making his own condition worse for a conversation with someone that doesn’t even return his feeling.

 

How foolish.

 

“Stop it. Until you’re healthy, just stay here and don’t meet him.”

 

The thing is, fools tend to be really beautiful and, just like the flower in him, he wants to be beautiful. It was killing him, and days started to get spent like last by him. Yet he held on, being selfish to his loved ones.

 

It’s not that he wanted to die; the last thread of living hope was still inside him. He wanted to be beautiful while it’s possible.

 

Even when the owner of his heart never looked at him so.

 

 

 

 

He had brought some fruits thinking that Kenta would appreciate some refreshment. He knew just how much hospital food sucks and he wouldn’t mind a gratitude. Even by merely thinking about it brought a faint smile onto his lips.

 

The news of Kenta’s surgery schedule had lifted his mood right after he heard of it. It would take place in a weeks, but the fact that Kenta had agreed to remove the infection in him after weeks of shunning the idea up was already enough. He chanted prayer toward God for giving Kenta’s family enough fortune to pay for the surgery.

 

A nurse greeted him on his way to Kenta’s room. While usually he would only bow politely, the happiness swelling inside him told him to add an extra kindness in his behaviour; he stopped by to exchange a few words with her. He didn’t forget to put on a smile, of course.

 

The conversation went on and nothing out of ordinary became the topic. She asked his well-being, the fruit inside the basket he brought, and various other small talks that seemed to be made so that she would know more about her. He answered everything gladly, nodding silently as he listened to her talking at times.

 

“Ah, speaking of which,” she started again, hands clasped together as the idea of bringing the topic up came to her. “Someone is visiting Takada too right now. Did you perhaps plan to visit together?”

 

Yongguk blinked, giving himself some times to process what the nurse just said. “Is it one of his family?”

 

“No ... I believe he said that he’s Takada’s friend?”

 

Whoever that friend is, they didn’t tell Yongguk that they were going to visit. Not that everyone need his permission from him, but he wanted to know who visited Kenta. That’s why he excused himself, finding his own feet to stroll down the hall toward Kenta’s room.

 

As he put his hand on Kenta’s room door, he heard Kenta’s faint voice.

 

“Thanks for the fruit.”

 

Sucks, Yongguk thought went. He had brought some fruit with him only to be beaten by Kenta’s acquaintance a few minutes earlier. He didn’t open the door right away, deciding his final action to be determined by knowing who was inside and what kind of conversation was going on between them. While he felt guilty, he also didn’t want to bother whoever was visiting Kenta unless it’s someone he knows.

 

“No problem,” there came the answer. “Thanks for letting me in, anyway.”

 

Yongguk didn’t seem to be able to identify the muffled voice, though it sounded pretty masculine. He figured that it might be a stranger, so he couldn’t muster up the courage to barge in.

 

“It was my fault.” He barely made up what Kenta said. It was spoken in such low voice, he wasn’t sure if he had perfectly heard what he said.

 

From then on, it became even less distinguishable. It was like being in a shallow pond—the voice was so close from being identified, yet he was there, pressing his ear against the door to listen better, gritting his teeth to hold himself from clicking his tongue in annoyance.

 

When he finally could make out the words, though, the stranger bid Kenta farewell.

 

“Sure,” Kenta uttered with some strain in his voice. “See you later.”

 

Sensing how the person might be leaving soon, Yongguk scooted away from the door. He pretended to be strolling as he heard a low sound of door being opened. He wouldn’t let himself get caught eavesdropping just like no one would.

 

He didn’t get a proper look at the stranger, but he caught a glimpse of his back. All he could say for sure was that the stranger was taller than him, which didn’t help much knowing that many of Kenta’s acquaintances are taller than him.

 

When he was sure that the stranger had him out of his sight, Yongguk turned his body to go back in front of Kenta’s room. He was ready to bombard the boy with so many questions. He pressed the door, gently opening it. It was so hard not to slam the door open, so he decided he would go and be a little more cheerful than usual.

 

He didn’t get to do so after looking at Kenta’s curled up figure. A sob soft reached his ears.

 

Panic rushed into Yongguk. His instinct kicked in, telling him to check if the flower inside Kenta clogged his lungs bad enough to make him collapse again. He rushed to grab Kenta’s hand, pulling the smaller man to get a better look at him.

 

He found a single petal on the edge of his mouth, almost falling down. His eye were flooded by tears that already ran all over his face, making it a mess.

 

“It’s nothing.” Kenta shot, trying to pry his hand off Yongguk’s. “I am okay. I am all right.”

 

He almost reached the emergency button when Kenta swat his hand and glared warily. He didn’t seem to be weakened that much, yet he’s the same person who never seemed to be able to convince Yongguk of anything.

 

“When I said I am okay, I am okay. I know my own condition and I don’t want to die. Believe me for a goddamn second, will you?”

 

There came Kenta’s other ability: silencing Yongguk with his stubbornness.

 

What was he supposed to do at that moment? Kenta didn’t seem to be coughing that much, either. How would he explain the reason behind his sobs, then? Was it that person who just left his room? Did he wrong Kenta in any way? Why did nothing sound off as they talked earlier? Why wouldn’t Kenta say anything?

 

No matter what the reason he had in mind, Yongguk’s chest ached again as he stared blankly at Kenta.

 

 

 

 

His friend shook his head repetitively in disapproval.

 

“You know this is not the answer.”

 

While scratching his head, he quirked his eyebrows to make a confused look. “What?” He simply asked, not trying to get what he had meant.

 

“Hiding things from him,” The elaboration came right after, he was so sure his friend would have explained what did he mean without being asked. “Is not the answer to this. You’re making me frustrated.”

 

Since when did he start to care about such thing? More importantly, he had never been one to get angry easily. What happened, exactly? The slight discomfort that flashed in his expression gave away his confusion. It would be his loss if he were to show too much sign of weakness so he kept feigning ignorance, hoping it wouldn’t backfire and make everything worse.

 

The mention of that person brought itching sensation to his lung—he cleared his throat once, twice while his friend kept staring at him. It might seem he was like keeping his composure together, but he knew that his friend might give him a long lecture about what he did wrong if given the chance to. Avoiding that, he naturally smiled to reassure his roommate.

 

“I am not going to keep this up forever too, you know.”

 

“When exactly are you going to stop lying, then?”

 

He tried to ignore the question, but it bothered him as much.

 

“I didn’t lie.”

 

 

 

 

The bookmark Kenta found that night was swirled leisurely between Yongguk’s fingers. He was practically bathing in glorious moment as Kenta looked at him with so much awe in his eyes.

 

Yongguk was not exactly nimble with his fingers, but even he has some trick up his sleeves to dazzle some whose eyes never witnessed such simple trick. Kenta was a fine example of such kind of people, judging from his reaction. That did not eliminate the chances that he was faking reaction, though. For the time being, he was alright with regarding it as an amazement.

 

“Seriously, I’ve been keeping this question to himself ...” Kenta spoke up, picking up the bookmark from Yongguk’s hand. “Which flower petal is this? It looks cute.”

 

Cute wasn’t exactly what Yongguk aimed for the bookmark to appear in front of Kenta, but that could do. He looked over the bookmark once again, remembering how happy he was when his friend brought a pressed flower for him as a gift. The fast recognition he had given the bookmark as soon as his gaze caught it was such a sweet memory to be remembered.

 

“Hydrangea.”

 

“It looks like my flower, huh?”

 

A beautiful flower, one that wouldn’t need two glances from him to recognise.

 

The absence of respond from his dear friend made everything click in Kenta’s head. He wrinkled his forehead, giving Yongguk an accusing look. He made sure to give a sprinkle of exaggeration to pronounce his surprise. Not too sick for a cheap drama, it seemed.

 

“You knew?”

 

Yongguk shrugged. “Obviously.”

 

Kenta laughed, finding amusement in how his friend answered without any hesitation to be spotted. It’s true that Yongguk would gain nothing by telling him that he knew what kind of flower was it. The older did ask him a few times before, though, which got answered by jokes all the time. That put him in a rather neutral side.

 

“Asshole.”

 

Yongguk shrugged, cocking a sideway smile. “Not my fault you never realised.”

 

“Last I checked, it’s good to share information.”

 

“Is that so?”

 

“I asked every goddamn day. That’s unfair!”

 

Yongguk tilted his head, smile refusing to leave from his lips. They shared flickers of mischief, sharing happiness inside their gaze as much as possible.

 

Even if the conversation died just like that, Kenta felt comfortable enough. The other man, though, didn’t seem to be quite so. Something was occupying his mind and it didn’t seem like he would spill what’s on his mind soon.

 

Quietly, he started the conversation once again.

 

“It’s in five days, right?”

 

At first, Kenta didn’t get what Yongguk was trying to imply. Then, the younger gestured toward his throat to make it clear that he was referring to the surgery to remove the infection in his lung. Realizing it, Kenta simply nodded. This time, guilt was no longer inside him.

 

“Five days.” Kenta cooed.

 

Yongguk reached his pocket to pull a little envelope out from it. The white envelope was the kind you find everyday in your drawer. It was a little crumpled, though.

 

“For you.”

 

Kenta took the envelope albeit being unsure himself.

 

“Don’t open it until before your surgery, okay?”

 

“Why?”

 

Yongguk chuckled. “You’ll know. Trust me.”

 

 

 

 

“Listen to me,” The grip on his hand got tightened, each words he heard emphasized. “Calm down. Cough. Get the fucking thing out from your lung.”

 

He sputtered, nails digging into his own neck as if wanting to rip the parasite out with his own bare hands. The thundering pain inside him was unbearable for him to take. Not a single though of how messy he appeared crossed his mind. He was too busy trying not to rip his own head off his body.

 

His mind was a blurry mess, and he wished to chop his own head off.

 

“Stop it and listen to me!”

 

He didn’t want to try. He just wanted to give up, and that was precisely when he felt a hand on his own and another on his back.

 

“Do it. Do what I told you—get the thing out from your lungs. It’s easy. Just ... calm down!”

 

What other choice did he have other than to do what was told?

 

He could felt the petals leaving his lungs. The surge of air entering his system was relieving. The buzz was all he could focus on, and it left him almost in a heartbeat. It left a lingering, confusing sensation as he went for another cough. His expression was still a intangible mess of pain.

 

“What time is it now?”

 

It was his friend who had helped him through the seizure. The said friend was crossing his hand, eyes looming over his weak figure. Despite trying to look indifferent, the sweat rolling down his friend’s neck told him he had been nervous.

 

“6 am.”

 

“Si ... what?”

 

“I have to take care of you in your parents’ stead. They have to take care of some things today. No, I didn’t burn our room down and evacuate here.”

 

Dizziness came next as the confusion became unbearable.

 

“Hey, hey.” The wariness in his friend’s eyes snapped him out. “Stay with me. Do you need me to call the doc?”

 

He didn’t know, and forcing him to think about it was too much for him at the moment. He shut his eyes, head shook to indicate his unwillingness to answer.

 

“It’s nothing.”

 

“Nothing ...?” The other man squinted his eyes as if he was just told that other world actually exist. “No, it’s quite something. You are practically dying.”

 

He did not answer; he shrugged as if it was an obvious thing despite being weak.

 

In the end, no one can do anything about it anyway. All they could do was wait until he finally undergo the surgery that will take him out from the hope-crushing place.

 

 

 

 

The soft vibration that came from his phone woke him up in the middle of night.

 

His condition was exceptionally bad that day, even though it was only three days before the big day. His hand was practically trembling as he reached for his phone. The cough was uncontrollable, so he did not answer the call right away. Before his breathing become steady, he just wouldn’t pick it up. The least he could do was to act strong at times for he worried a lot of people already.

 

“You were sleeping, huh?”

 

That was one hell of an unusual greeting from Yongguk.

 

“Wow, it’s Sherlock.”

 

He heard low chuckle from the other side of the call. It seemed like Yongguk was trying to keep his voice low. No wonder, it was only an hour before midnight. Kenta waited for Yongguk to start a conversation, which made the silence between them prominent. Call him delusional, but he might as well have heard soft breathing.

 

“Are you doing alright today?”

 

Kenta hated the question; it made his throat itch. He wanted to cough real bad, but he steadied his breathing to calm himself down.

 

“Sure. Why?”

 

“It took you practically 3 seconds to answer.” Yongguk clicked his tongue. The image of Yongguk shaking his head appeared in his mind without any effort. “You sound like shit.”

 

As expected, it was quite obvious. Kenta scratched his head as he distanced his phone from himself. His cough wouldn’t sound that obvious that way, right? Hiding things from him might sound idiotic after he busted Kenta away just a few minutes ago, though.

 

Whether he knew it or not, Yongguk didn’t say anything in return. Instead, Kenta heard a soft cough from somewhere around Yongguk.

 

“Is it Shihyun?”

 

In other side, Yongguk paused as if judging the weight of his answer. “Yeah.”

 

His roommate must’ve had cold. Kenta hadn’t met Shihyun that much aside with Yongguk’s assistance. If there were some, they only shared some light greetings. It was a decent opportunity to get to know the younger. “Can you pass the phone to Shihyun?”

 

“No.” Yongguk blurted with a laugh. Kenta groaned as he heard the answer. His friend was being too uptight.

 

“Why not?”

 

“Shihyun is sleeping.”

 

Fair enough, Kenta thought as he grunted grudgingly, doesn’t mean he didn’t feel annoyed.

 

“I even bothered to call you and you want to talk to Shihyun? Rude.”

 

“Shihyun is cuter than you, why wouldn’t I?”

 

“I am cute.”

 

Who?

 

That aside, Kenta’s mood got lifted ever since he heard Yongguk’s voice. He couldn’t hide his goofy smile, though he need not to do so for he was alone in the room. The appreciation over how he called to make up for his absence was unspoken, but Yongguk did not complain.

 

“Where’s my ‘thank you’? I am really sleepy right now and I am here, calling you, a lonely man in his twenties.”

 

Or he might’ve done just that, ruining the moment for everyone’s good.

 

Undoubtedly, though, Kenta could feel warmth creeping up his chest.

 

 

 

 

His friend’s clutch on his hand was tightened suddenly.

 

“What are you going to do if he know?”

 

Just as sudden, he threw a question he could never answer without doubting himself. Slowly, he muttered the only answer he could afford.

 

“What can I do?”

 

Even that was not really an answer.

 

 

 

 

Nothing changed from his room. It’s the same; cold, small, dim, most of all lonely.

 

No lover to lean onto, no loved one to look at. Instead, Kenta’s eyes tentatively slid onto the letters written on the white paper. Even when he already rip the envelope open despite the being told not to, he could feel the guilt clawing his back. Like a pair of eyes were watching him, he read the letter in silence.

 

As the message started to lose unread word, darker did his feeling grow.

 

Kenta pressed his lips together as if words just got snatched from his mouth even before he said it. The realization hit him that his hand had tightened its grip on the paper, adding some wrinkle onto it. Not that he would care about such thing; he needed something to get the strange feeling out from his chest.

 

He felt like an idiot. Just how dense one must be to miss such obvious hint? Just when he found out did he realize those little actions. The little strain in his voice, the strange absence, even the obvious excuses ... he missed all of those even when they’re right under his nose. How come?

 

He felt so sick. He tried to search for someone, something to blame. Even God would do; let him lash out at someone and feel better right after. Let him sob and cough and feel the pain crashing him down. Let him punch his bed weakly, not knowing what to do and what to destroy to make everything better.

 

Let him forgive himself for what he had accidentally done.

 

 

 

 

Thud. That’s the sound of a rushed step.

 

Thump. That’s the sound of his heartbeat.

 

Thud. That’s the sound of the door of his room being slammed.

 

His friend stood on the rim of his door. Sweat was running down his temple and his breath came out unsteady. Without any effort, he could tell that he had came running for something urgent.

 

“Kenta ...”

 

He blinked, not saying a thing to worsen his cough. The name piqued the worry in him to burst out, causing a lot of negative thought to occupy him. He attempted to rise from his sleeping position albeit having so little energy in him. Did something happen? It’s just hours before the surgery. If something were to happen ....

 

“He found out and he insisted that he want to meet you.”

 

He raised his eyebrows. Kenta found it out faster than he had expected. Did underestimate his curiosity? He had expected the older to find out an hour before or even later. Even some part of his heart had believed Kenta would forget about it or maybe the letter got thrown away by the nurse. Rarely did he expect his plan to be this smooth

 

Yongguk gritted his teeth. He was not sure; was it really necessary? Can’t they talk after the surgery? Definitely nothing will be better by then, but who doesn’t love stalling? His friend, Shihyun, reached out to support him and led him to Kenta’s room. Yongguk’s weak figure needed his friend’s support to walk for some distance although it took them less than five minutes to reach Kenta’s room.

 

They were assigned in the same ward, after all.

 

Shihyun gripped Yongguk’s hand tighter, worry all over his face. He wished it won’t be something that worsen his friend’s condition. Anything about that—he had been suffering enough for being a fool.

 

“Go. I will wait here.”

 

 

 

 

hello. writing this is so awkward for me lol this is 21st century and i am here writing a letter because i’m too afraid to talk. damn, talk about taking cowardice to another level.

 

i’m not entirely sure when will you read this tbh. i hope after the surgery. are you smiling right now? congrats, man, you’re now free from the annoying flower. or do you feel a strange emptiness in your lungs right now? maybe not in the lung but in your heart? well shit that was so cheesy but i can’t erase that. bad idea, bad bad idea.

 

thing is, kenta, i have something really shitty to tell you. you will be annoyed or idk maybe sad or something once you know it. can’t help it. yeesh, the thing with us all. we don’t want to be hated for what we said but we said it anyway.

 

as obvious as it might be, you know just how pissed was i when i found out about your sickness. that was not without reason, you know. i have always valued all of my friends. i was so happy when shihyun moved in with me. living with my friend had always been my dream before shihyun happened. and there i just side-tracked from the topic lol sorry.

 

anyway, you know, you have this strange coolness that made me feel like hell yeah i have to befriend him but goddamn he must be famous sheesh how am i supposed to get to know him? i know you know, lol, don’t act like an idiot now. people just naturally want to call you adorable and hug you and maybe be with you and be your boyfriend or something? don’t tell me it’s just me? no way.

 

that was so cheesy im sorry. yea, i kind of like you not in oh-so-platonic way. weird, huh? we’re good friends, and yet i think of you as someone more than a friend. that’s precisely why i did not say a thing. also, i admit i used to hope a little. that you might (ugh) return the feeling. you know, we will make a good couple. but you suddenly caught the illness, and there goes my naively built scenario.

 

really, though, who caused it? eunki? donghan? definitely, i’m not the cause to your illness. but i didn’t give up. and that fucked me up, kenta. it really did. I understand why you caught the illness. you thought it wouldn’t be this bad, yeah? because i was like that too until shihyun dragged me to the hospital. until the flower grew so fast because i insisted on accompanying you even when my throat itched like hell.

 

damn, now that i think about it again, maybe i did have death wish.

 

thing is i also don’t want to die. and my parents had agreed to support my surgery. neat, huh? but i couldn’t help but be a massive idiot, quoting from shihyun, by arranging my surgery to be one day after yours. well, i just want to stay like this for a while i guess.

 

so before i forget everything, let me say this. thanks. it was wonderful having feelings for you. admittedly hard at times, but everything will be over as i undergo the surgery. let’s meet again as friends, yeah? please keep being friend with me. i do like you as friend, too.

 

don’t feel burdened. It will all be gone together with the flower, as sad as it might sound. let’s meet all healthy and happy!

 

one of these nights, i think about you a lot. but that doesn’t matter.

 

yongguk.

 

 

 

 

“How’s Kenta doing?”

 

“Are you going to ask about him to the very end?”

 

Chuckle was uncalled for; Yongguk couldn’t help letting it out upon the retort. Perhaps he had asked the same question repetitively for the past day. How could he not? It’s a way to relieve the tension on his spine for he was about to undergo the long-awaited surgery. Found you another way to make him stop being jittery, that’s when he would stop asking.

 

Another reason he had in mind was that Kenta had refused to meet Yongguk again until after the surgery. He couldn’t check for himself whether the surgery ended in success or not. Shihyun, in other hand, had been against checking on Kenta to honour his request.

 

“Have it your way. Let’s meet when you finished your surgery. Until then, I won’t even look at you.” Kenta spat, not with hatred but with sadness and guilt thick in his voice.

 

He didn’t even get to say a lot. It was just Kenta asking, “Since when did you develop the feeling?”, “Do you hate me now?”, and “How could you do that?”, which Yongguk replied with silence, mostly. He tried to answer in the end, but Kenta started crying before he could do anything and told him the deal that he absolutely couldn’t refuse. Sometimes he forgot about Kenta’s selfishness. (He would love to confess that it was one of the things he found cute from Kenta. Damn, love made him blind aside from choking him with flower ironically.)

 

His parents didn’t say much about Kenta. While he talked about the ollder actively with Shihyun, his parents tend to avoid the topic as much as possible. He suspected they were wary; what if the illness get worse as they talk about the boy? Even though the surgery will take place less than an hour, they decided that it’s still too premature to talk about him.

 

Yongguk’s mom squeezed his hand, worry all over her face. He felt guilty for being selfish all of the sudden. Chasing after Kenta almost made him forgot that he had peple on his side that wished for his wellbeing. His universe doesn’t have to revolve around Kenta, he tried to remind himself.

 

Again, he found himself wanting to be foolish for a moment.

 

“Mom, it’s okay. I won’t die.” Optimistic behaviour was all mattered at the moment. He had to believe in himself.

 

“I know, yes, I know. You have been strong one, I kn—”

 

“Dad, you too. Stop looking at me as if I’m a corpse.”

 

His prediction must’ve hit jackpot. Again, he laughed as his dad tried to deny the claim while being obviously flustered.

 

The ceiling was always the same. He found himself staring at it like something interesting might pop out if he stare long enough. Alas, he wasted his time just like usual trying to make the ceiling speak of stories to heal his aching heart.

 

He felt exceptionally sentimental.

 

“Shihyun,” He called when his mother was in the middle of thanking his friend. “Can you relay a message for me?”

 

“Let me guess. For—”

 

“Kenta. Yes, you get my point.”

 

Shihyun rolled his eyes, though he looked pretty much ready to relay any message. Maybe it was only Yongguk. “You’re not going to forget everything. You will be able to tell him yourself this time too.”

 

True enough. The only thing that will be forgotten was the feeling. He heard from his heard that there will be an odd absence after the surgery. To some, it’s painful at times, but mostly alright. Their memories would still be intact in the end. Was it the cowardice in him again, then?

 

Who knows.

 

“Fine. Say it.”

 

“I do not regret anything. You’re still my friend. Let’s be happy from now on even beyond the hospital room, yeah? Free from the flower and all.”

 

Shihyun wrinkled his nose. “Wow. You are cheesy.”

 

In return, Yongguk laughed again. It felt so good to say it while he still could his feeling. He might not feel like that again later, and he enjoyed taking his time.

 

“Yeah.”

 

 

 

 

He woke up to a familiar hum coming from beside his bed.

 

“Seriously, did you even learn?”

 

“What?”

 

“See? Are you even trying to pretend?”

 

“I am not—I was not pretending!”

 

“Shihyun, you saw that? You saw him moving his feet alongside the melody?”

 

“No.”

 

“Why are you rude only to me?”

 

“Because you used to be like that to me.”

 

“Take that. See? I was sleeping comfortably and you bothered me.”

 

He giggled at his friend’s slumped shoulder.

 

“I hate you all.”

 

“Uhh, that’s not what you said a month ago. I remember you said you lov—”

 

“Fuck you. Shihyun, help me a little bit. You’re my roommate.”

 

“And Kenta is our new roommate.”

 

“Good God.”

 

“You said you didn’t regret liking me.”

 

“Yeah, he said that an hour before his surgery.”

 

“You know what? I hate every single one of you.”