i’m just now leaving
can i come around
later on this evening?
Taeyong looks down at his phone screen, at the texts he’d sent earlier in the day. He is used to rarely receiving any replies, by now. He knows there’s a slim chance Doyoung will even check his inbox. And even if Doyoung will, Taeyong doubts the other man will check the messages he has sent him.
Evening has already set, the sky of Seoul is glittering with stars, and here Taeyong is — sitting in his apartment while he is still in his work clothes, room illuminated a warm orangish-yellow by the bedside lamp.
He is so tired, exhausted even. All the workload at the office lately has him working 'til he drops, and even right now he can barely find any energy in himself to go make himself something to eat in the name of dinner.
His legs feel like they are dried blocks of cement, frozen to the floor with no sensation in them, while his neck feels like it is permanently stuck in that weird angle from the afternoon, and it hurts like hell to even try to move against the crick. Taeyong’s head aches from looking at the words and numbers on the computer for the entirety of the day, but he still keeps his eyes trained on the screen of his phone.
There is still no reply.
Hell — not even a small indication that Doyoung has even seen his messages. So Taeyong lies down on the bed, arm over his eyes, that way he can at least pretend like the burning wetness that he feels in his eyes is because of the weight and pressure of his arm on them.
He licks his lips slowly while his mind takes him on a journey through memory lane, and the first thing he sees is Doyoung.
Of course, Doyoung.
It is Taeyong's second year in university when he comes across Kim Doyoung in a very cliché manner.
One of his friends has thrown a small get together at his place celebrating his graduation, and so Taeyong finds himself at the guy’s apartment with a cup of vodka mixed with cranberry juice swirling in his hands. His eyes catch on to a soft-looking brown mop of hair by the back door that opens into the garden, and because he has nothing better to do by himself, Taeyong finds his feet leading him to the direction where the guy stands alone.
I need time
“Hey,” Taeyong greets softly, hoping not to spook the boy. He succeeds.
“Hey,” The boy replies, then takes a small sip of the drink in his hands.
He has a very nice voice, Taeyong notes.
"My name is Taeyong," He says, giving out his hand to be shaken in introduction, "…and you are?"
The boy is silent for a while. Taeyong keeps his hand awkwardly outstretched for that duration, not knowing when the right time to pull his hand back would be. But the moment he is about to bring his hand back to its place, the boy turns towards him and places his hand in his. The boy looks at Taeyong almost challengingly in a way.
Oh, his hands are so soft.
Taeyong quickly shakes the thought off, along with the hand of the guy and lets him go, because he is beginning to feel that tell-tale skip of heartbeat that is surely going to be his ruin if he does not get a grip on himself and fast.
Then Taeyong makes the mistake of looking at the guy’s (who still hasn’t introduced himself, by the way) face.
The boy’s dyed hair falls on his forehead in soft curls, and makes him look like an adorable puppy, and no no no this is so bad for Taeyong’s heart. Taeyong has always been soft for cute things, but this? This boy? He has hit Taeyong where he’s the weakest— and Taeyong has no chance of escaping whatever his fate will be thanks to this boy.
“Kim Dongyoung. But you can call me Doyoung,” The boy says, and it is game over for Taeyong already.
The sun has set on the skyline of Seoul, the light streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows of Doyoung’s room on the higher levels of the residential complex is blue. Blue from the skyscrapers, blue from the billboards.
Blue, just like him.
He opens his eyes groggily, completely disoriented from his fifteen-minute power nap that somehow turned into a nine-hour faux-coma instead (he does not know when or how), and switches his phone on to check the time in the dark.
20:26, The numbers on his screen read, and he groans in frustration and pain.
Sleeping for so long without planning to has rendered his body almost useless for the time being. Doyoung hears his backbone pop like bubble-wrap by the time he sits up, and he has to slowly (very slowly) tilt his neck side-to-side, loosening the knotted muscles first, to be able to even move it otherwise. He takes a deep breath, cracks his fingers, and heads to the ensuite to freshen up.
By the time he is out of the bath, his stomach is rumbling, but he does not feel like eating anymore so he heads back to his room to lie back down on the bed. Funny, how he has slept for almost nine hours but he is still nowhere near feeling refreshed. Instead, he is still weary. Still drained.
He takes his phone again, checking for any calls or messages he might have missed while he was about to turn into Rip Van Winkle. He comes across some missed calls from friends and family, and he shakes his head in frustration because he would have to talk to all of them now — if not on voice calls, then definitely on texts (which is still so much better than having to talk to those people) — and so it propels him to open his inbox, with Doyoung himself just ready to type some sort of generic excuse about not feeling well, to send it to everybody.
Although, what he sees the moment he opens his inbox is something that throws him off the course of what he thought he was going to do.
There are four messages.
From Lee Taeyong.
Doyoung takes a deep breath and licks his lips.
i’m just now leaving
can i come around
later on this evening?
He looks at the time once again, the part of the screen at the top right corner of his phone screen answers his curiosity with a 21:16. Doyoung takes another deep breath to calm his nerves, as he must always do when it comes to Taeyong.
Lee Taeyong — Everyone’s Pride Lee Taeyong, Apple of Everyone’s Eye Lee Taeyong.
Doyoung does not know how to deal with this – with whatever celestial being having the patience of a saint that is Taeyong. He flops back into the mess that his bed is — duvet and pillows all bunched up into each other — pinching the bridge of his nose, teeth picking at the dry skin on his bottom lip, and he thinks.
He thinks about the first time he met Taeyong at his cousin’s party, where Taeyong had been a blushing mess just trying to converse with him. He thinks about how Taeyong had gotten close to him during classes too and had asked him out soon after that.
Doyoung thinks about soft Taeyong is, how beautiful he is, and how much the older man loves him.
He thinks about how unlovable he is himself, how unworthy of Taeyong’s love he is. Doyoung thinks about how he had broken Taeyong’s heart all those years ago, and how Taeyong still forgave him, still came back to him, still offered to be his solace.
What good has he done to deserve someone like Taeyong love him as much as the older man does?
I need time
“I don’t think this is working out anymore, hyung.” Doyoung clears his throat.
Taeyong looks up from his laptop screen to meet the younger’s eyes.
“Pardon?” He sputters.
"Pretending that you didn't hear me, is not going to change the truth of the fact, hyung," Doyoung states calmly, hoping that his voice does not crack and expose his own heartbreak. "This— Whatever this is that we’re doing— This is not working out anymore. I’m sorry.”
“Would you at least tell me why you think so?” Taeyong asks, shutting his laptop closed, eyebrows furrowing in confusion and sadness. His eyes are darting everywhere and then coming back to meet Doyoung’s own.
“I’ve just been thinking for a while...” Doyoung shrugs, trying – hoping – to appear casual about this. He does not want Taeyong to know how he is feeling. He’d rather appear cold and cut him off than tell him the truth and have Taeyong make promises he cannot keep.
“Is it because I’m graduating and leaving or whatever?” Taeyong asks after he gulps loudly, wringing his fingers on top of the table. “Because long-distance is a thing, Doyoungie.”
Taeyong sounds desperate, or maybe that is just Doyoung projecting his own state of mind on him.
You’ll find someone better than me, hyung. You’ll get a job and meet new people and begin a new life and one year is such a long time. You’ll get over me, you’ll find someone new and you’ll fall in love with them. What is so special about me anyway? You deserve the world, and I’m just a measly English Lit. major with no hopes for his future.
There's a lot of things Doyoung wants to say, but not a lot of them he ends up verbalising.
“I don’t care about long-distance, hyung.” Doyoung exhales, long and weary. “I’m done.”
"You've got to give me more than that, Kim Doyoung..." Taeyong utters shakily, his eyes – to Doyoung's utmost dismay – are filled with unshed tears, and his right hand is shaking (again). Doyoung knows it is Taeyong’s involuntary anxious tick, his hands starting to shake – and it pains him even more to hurt the elder like this.
When he remains quiet for some more moments, Taeyong sniffles and grabs a tissue from the stand on the table with trembling hands. Doyoung barely contains his tears, instead opting to shrug and look out from the window.
“I… I’m sorry…” With how fast and how many tears are flowing down his cheeks – non-stop – that he is fruitlessly trying to halt by pressing already wet tissues to the corners of his eyes, Taeyong's voice is surprisingly steady, “I’m sorry too… If there was something that I did wrong during the time that we were together. If I— If I asked for too much, or gave too little. Sometimes I lose sense of that… haha…” He fake laughs and Doyoung clenches his fist under the table.
He licks his lips and swallows softly. He would speak, tell Taeyong how wrong he is— how wrong the two of them are in doing what they're doing, in saying what they're saying. But he does not. He cannot risk crying now, not when he is trying to do what is best for both of them.
You did nothing wrong. You were— are an angel. I love you. I will never love anyone else as much as I love you. I wish you didn’t have to leave. I wish I could come with you. I wish I could see something going for me in my future. I wish I wasn’t the one holding you back.
There's a lot of things Doyoung wants to say, but he does not say them.
Maybe because he is a coward.
“I… I wanted a lot of things from you. And I’m sorry for wanting so much. I’m sorry for… I’m sorry for putting you under so much pressure. You’re so young, and you’ve got your entire life left in front of you, and I’m only holding you back with my hopes of a serious, long-term relationship. I… I hope you find your happiness soon, Doyoungie.” Taeyong’s voice turns into a whisper by the end, and Doyoung nods in favour of not breaking down in front of the man he must let go. He stares into the eyes of the love of his life and begs that the universe convey to him the words he can no longer say.
I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
Doyoung blinks. Taeyong wipes another tear.
Then he gathers all of the things in his bag, not sparing Doyoung half a glance while he does so. Doyoung watches him stuff his laptop into the bag, put all of his highlighters and pens in the little cartoon themed pouch he carries, and as he packs the pouch into the bag as well.
Taeyong gets up with his carrier bag and steps closer to Doyoung. Doyoung holds his breath.
Taeyong cups his cheek, bends down and presses a kiss to Doyoung’s forehead. Tender, and long.
“I wish you were braver, Dongyoung.” Taeyong murmurs, the words touch a nerve.
“I love you. I’m sorry.” He says the words one last time before he walks away.
Doyoung breaks down in the middle of the café, inconsolable.
The nightclub is pulsing with life – strobe lights, and people dancing, drinking, in their high spirits, and it is a place Taeyong didn’t think he would find himself at of all places on a Tuesday night. Johnny and his husband Ten, two of Taeyong’s best friends from work are celebrating their third wedding anniversary, and to quote Ten – “fuck capitalism and partying only on weekends!”
The DJ is playing some EDM rendition of some greasy pop song from the mid-2000s, yet Taeyong finds himself grooving to it, a cider in his hands. Not only does he not need to get drunk to have fun, but he also has work tomorrow. He cannot afford to pass out drunk even if he never gets hangovers. Long gone are the days when he would get smashed and sleep the weekend away after some wild partying.
“Taeyongie!” Ten calls out, happy and giggly, “Come dance with us!”
Taeyong looks up from his drink and sees Ten walk over to him, swaying a little as he walks on tipsy feet. Johnny is following right behind his husband, hands bracketing the shorter man’s waist so that he does not fall. Once they both reach Taeyong, Ten giggles and drapes himself all over him, and Johnny wraps his arm around Taeyong’s shoulder, giving it a soft squeeze.
“Give me some more minutes, I’ll be right there with you guys.” Taeyong chuckles, petting Ten’s hair who is gently hugging Taeyong now, rubbing his nose on the taller man’s chest. On hearing his answer Ten pulls away from his chest, beams at Taeyong and goes skipping towards the dance floor.
“You sure you wanna come dance?” Johnny, ever-so-nice Johnny asks Taeyong once his husband is on the dance floor once again. Taeyong looks at the taller man, and he would generally refuse — tell him that no, no, I don’t wanna dance — but it is his friend’s marriage anniversary. Taeyong will not be selfish today.
Taeyong keeps his almost empty drink on the bar and grabs Johnny by the elbow, and drags him to the dance floor. The lights become dimmer once the song changes, the beat slower and more sensual – and he is not prepared for this. Some more such songs into the night and thanks to Ten, Taeyong is also tipsy now.
Ten is lucky Taeyong loves him even though Ten is a life-ruiner just like that.
Taeyong isn’t sure about when or how he ended up dancing with (grinding on) the hot man that he is with right now. Taeyong doesn’t even know what the time is. All he knows is that in the almost pitch-darkness of the club this man smells so good even under the slight stench of alcohol on him, and he looks a whole lot like a boy Taeyong once loved (the boy that he still does love).
The man grabs Taeyong by the waist, turns him around, and slowly grinds on him once again, and someplace from his left Taeyong hears Ten holler – You get that dick baby! Taeyong would be embarrassed were it not for the alcohol gushing in his veins, and he throws his head back against the man’s shoulder.
Somewhere through the night, he drinks a lot more, and so does the other man because Taeyong takes the initiative to bring them both extra drinks, and everything is going well until the point beyond which Taeyong’s memory fails him when he wakes up the next morning.
When he wakes up the morning — dressed comfortably, in a stranger’s bed, in a stranger’s flat, he believes that it is now time to say goodbye life because this is most probably some serial-killer’s lair. Taeyong groans, gets himself out of bed while struggling colossally and moves to the attached bathroom.
The flat is beautiful, with floor-to-ceiling windows close to the bed, and a very modern-futuristic décor. Taeyong marvels at the beauty of the apartment some more before he grabs a spare toothbrush from under the sink (awfully simple of this serial-killer) and brushes his teeth. If he is dying today, might as well die after he’s freshened up, right?
He walks back into the room, still wearing clothes that are not his but fit him perfectly, hoping to maybe magically find his clothes lying on the bedroom floor which had been clean when he’d come to the bathroom… And maybe he can still make a run for it? He collides with someone instead. And of course, like every other God and Serial-Killer fearing man, Taeyong screams bloody murder.
A hand covers his mouth so he’d stop screeching, but Taeyong with his eyes shut and brain in overdrive, keeps shrieking.
“Oh my God Taeyong-hyung stop screaming!” The serial killer yells back and Taeyong ceases all noise. Please, please tell him the voice does not belong to whom he thinks it belongs to. No. No, no, no.
Taeyong exhales deeply before slowly opening his eyes. It is him.
In all his glory.
Suddenly Taeyong prefers a serial killer over this.
"You know, when I thought I'd see you again… I didn't think it'd be like this." Doyoung murmurs with a corner of his lips rising up and Taeyong cannot believe his eyes.
Is he actually standing face-to-face with Kim Doyoung?
In the latter’s apartment?
(After he has slept with him the night before? Please. God. No.)
“I… I didn’t think I’d ever even see you…” Taeyong mumbles in a daze, eyes scanning Doyoung’s face.
“Ouch hyung…” Doyoung chuckles, his teeth show.
He is still as gorgeous as Taeyong remembers him from six (or is it seven already?) years ago. Perhaps even more handsome. He has aged in a way that even though he does not look a day older than twenty-one, he exudes such charm as though he has been doing this – whatever the hell this is – for ages and ages.
"Did we— We didn't—" Taeyong fumbles and hesitates, struggling not to make it sound demeaning or cheap. "Did we do something last night?" He asks, wagging his pointer finger in between Doyoung and himself, hoping for Doyoung to catch his drift.
When Doyoung gets it, he turns red almost immediately, eyes widening in embarrassment while he shakes his head rapidly in negation. "No, God. No, we didn't! You slept here and I was in the guest room."
“Right. Right, uh... I was wondering where my clothes are…” Taeyong begins, eyes flitting around the room in an attempt to look away from the younger man. Doyoung sighs quietly.
“They’re in the wash, you puked all over them last night... And I’ve made lunch, so you should shower and come eat.” He tells Taeyong who nods and walks back into the bathroom, “I’ll bring you some extra towels.”
Later when Doyoung drops him off at his place, Taeyong does not know what to expect.
He does not think that Doyoung would kiss him before he got out of the car, but Doyoung does. He does not think that Doyoung would still wear the same perfume as before and smile at him with those same sad eyes, but he does.
Taeyong doesn’t dare think that this means any more than just a nostalgic goodbye, but the look that Doyoung gives him when he says goodbye tells him that maybe, it does.
Doyoung does not know what is playing on his TV screen — cannot bring himself to care — something about a beach and people running around and having fun, and making memories. The TV screen is giving off a dim bluish-white glow to the room that is already lit-up a cold blue by the metropolitan's lights.
His dinner that consisted of take-out lies unfinished somewhere by his right – close to the bed but not close enough that he’d step on it when he tries to get off of the bed.
Doyoung’s eyes are currently focused on the word-document in front of him, trying his damned hardest to come up with something – anything – to further the plot of his novel. His editor has been relentlessly calling him lately, and Doyoung cannot even complain because the poor man is only doing his job – reminding him that his deadline for the submission is approaching in two weeks.
All he can even think of at this point is Taeyong, Taeyong, Taeyong.
you’re feeling okay?
Talk – think – of the devil.
His phone rings, the caller ID is Taeyong’s. Doyoung picks it up in an instant.
“How are you?” Taeyong asks, his voice full of concern.
“I am fine, hyung.” Doyoung answers, sighing, so exhausted of trying to further a plot that is already so complicated and does not want to further itself. He wonders what went wrong?
“Don’t lie.” The voice from the other line comes.
“I’m not lying,” Doyoung swallows.
“Then tell me the truth,” Taeyong’s voice is low and close, and Doyoung feels like the older man is physically with him, whispering the words into his ears. Doyoung has not felt like this in a very long time, not really since with Taeyong in university, and it astounds him how Taeyong can still affect him like this.
“I’m fine.” He bites out. Taeyong apologizes and changes the topic.
Doyoung wants to say that Taeyong does not need to apologize, but what he does instead is that he tells Taeyong about the novel that preceded this, and how he plans to tie up all of the loose ends with this sequel. He tells him about how his editor had called him thrice yesterday to remind him of the deadline. He tells Taeyong how scared he is about not making the deadline — how scared he is of failing.
Taeyong listens to everything patiently. Listens to Doyoung talk about the futility of it all – how life has no meaning, and how no matter what we do, it is never going to amount to anything in the bigger scheme of the universe.
Taeyong hangs up when he cannot stay awake anymore.
“Tell me if you find that deeper meaning,” Doyoung hears him say before the line goes dead.
Taeyong is squished between Johnny and Ten on the couch in the couple’s living room, flanked by Johnny on the right and Ten on the left, both of the men snuggling up to him. They’re watching Two Weeks’ Notice for the zillionth time, but Taeyong cannot complain — he loves Sandra Bullock and can watch this movie and The Proposal again and again and again.
His eyes are glued to the screen while he munches on a packet of his favourite flavour of chips with vigour, and promptly smacks Johnny’s hand away when he tries to sneak some chips for himself for the umpteenth time.
“Seo Youngho, you put your hands into my chips one more time…” Taeyong warns, shooting the culprit a glare to which Johnny only grins sheepishly, “one more time, and I will decimate your entire bloodline!”
At the threat, Johnny's smile turns into high pitched laughter and Ten accidentally spews all the Sprite inside his mouth on to the coffee table. Taeyong, who is still busy shooting Johnny a glare, eventually cannot control his own laughter anymore and finds himself cackling on and then falling off of the couch in the process.
The husbands both reach out to him and pull him back to the couch, where Taeyong is now resting on both Johnny and Ten more than the cushions, and the other two are both busy cuddling him. Taeyong feels his heart flutter again, like it has been doing lately around the two and he bites his lip as the three of them all stare at the screen.
“Thank you both,” He mumbles, his bad habit of wringing his fingers making yet another appearance.
“For what, Yongie?” Johnny asks, pulling away from their cuddle-pile to look at Taeyong better. The older man looks so soft, wearing his old sweatpants and a loose T-shirt, hair messy and fluffy, and Taeyong’s heart does that funny-skipping-a-beat thing again. Johnny’s wedding ring glints from where both of his hands are in his lap.
He pauses for a bit, not very sure how he should go about voicing his thoughts and feelings before settling with a simple, “For being here with and for me.”
“When you love what you do,” Taeyong jumps a little when he feels Ten perch his chin on his shoulder, wrapping his arms around Taeyong’s lean waist, “it doesn’t feel like work.”
Ten’s breath hits Taeyong’s neck and it makes the latter shiver a little. Not just because it is cold, but also because Ten is close. Too close for Taeyong to be casual about it. Taeyong still remembers the couple confessing to having feelings for him – both the men, at the same time. And now every time that he thinks back to their confession, he feels slightly giddy.
“Are you saying that you love consoling me?” Taeyong tries to tease Ten, trying to dispel the charge in the atmosphere. But it backfires when Ten turns Taeyong to face him.
“What I’m saying is that we—” He looks at his husband for confirmation which he seemingly gets, “we love you. So doing anything with you, and for you, is what we love to do.”
There is heat in Ten's gaze. Taeyong blushes at the blatant confession and bites his lip as he nods in understanding. He knows that these two beautiful, gorgeous, angels of men love him. That they love him so sincerely that even though Taeyong is torn over his feelings for someone else, these two are here for him as his best friends, more than anything else for now.
Taeyong would not call himself an impulsive person. Though it is true that most of the time he does not like thinking too much over a decision or choice because the more he thinks, the more complicated it becomes – and usually makes his decisions first, while thinking of and dealing with the consequences as they come.
Taeyong will say that this is one of the most impulsive decisions that he has ever taken.
“Do you guys…” He begins, hoping that both Johnny and Ten understand what he is referring to without him having to say it outright, “do you guys still... still want... with me?”
At the question Ten smiles softly, and just behind Taeyong, Johnny sucks in a breath.
Two feet away his phone screen lights up with a message.
Hyung, I think I’ve finally figured it out.
The party is boring, Doyoung thinks as he swirls the drink in the red cup in his hands. His eyes scan the area to hopefully find something interesting that he could participate in. All he sees is people getting progressively drunker as they chug their drinks like water, while some of these drunkards huddle together to play a stupid rendition of King’s Cup, some go to play even stupider games like Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven. Wait, is that his cousin Taeil making out with that hot senior Yuta or whatever?
Doyoung, completely unimpressed, heads towards the back garden, hoping to find some semblance of peace (or maybe even enjoyment, who knows?) and he doesn’t have to wait for long until the prettiest guy that he has seen in a while starts walking in his general direction.
“Hey,” the guy says in the shyest, softest voice that not even Doyoung’s imagination could come up with.
And that is it, Doyoung is in love.
It is too soon, but he does not care.
He will let this love ruin him if it comes to that.
it must be nice
to love someone
who lets you
break them twice