Donghun sank into the couch with a sigh, cracking open his beer after the very long day he had. It had been some time since he had taken on a new patient, and this one had been difficult. Donghun wasn’t a stranger to the array of emotional difficulties that came with having a physical injury or disability. Everybody dealt with it differently. He’s had patients spend whole sessions in tears, he’s had some who refuse to speak to him. He’s even had people treat him like he was their psychologist, rather than their PT. Honestly, the perfectly pleasant patients vastly outweighed the difficult ones, which made his job pretty easy most of the time. But he didn’t become a PT because it would be easy; he chose this path because he wanted to help people heal themselves. And that could be an extremely challenging endeavor.
Jun fell into one of the harder categories to crack: anger. It was easy to be angry, to be mean; anger kept you people from facing the reality of the situation. Donghun had felt his skin crawl when he heard Jun call himself a cripple. That shit didn’t fly with him. There were many things Donghun could tolerate, but using such disrespectful language was not one of them. But he felt that by the end of the session, he had maybe put a small kink in Jun’s armor. It was clear that no one had put the man in his place in a very long time. So Donghun chose the route of honesty. And if the man didn’t like it, then he was free to leave.
But he didn’t leave. He stayed for the entire hour, listening to Donghun, even looking interested during some parts. Donghun felt a sense of triumph when he shook Jun’s hand and bid him farewell.
“Have a good night Mr. Park. I hope I’ll see you here next week?” Donghun had asked carefully.
“Maybe.” Jun nodded quietly, before pausing. “Jun. You can call me Jun.”
Maybe wasn’t a no. And being on a first name basis was always a good sign. Donghun hoped he would come back. He knew Jun’s journey wouldn’t be an easy one, but he desperately wanted to help the man.
Completely separate from the doctor side of Donghun, he couldn’t help but notice how attractive the dark-haired man was. When Donghun had laid eyes on him, he felt his chest feel tighten as he stared at the most beautiful man he had ever seen. Piercing brown eyes, perfectly shaped lips and a sharp angular jaw. Jun was underweight, he had deep, dark circles underneath his eyes, and he was paler than anyone should be – but even with all of that, he was gorgeous. Donghun could only imagine what he would look like if he was healthy. Donghun hoped he had hidden his initial infatuation from his new patient, attempting to turn on ‘doctor mode’ quickly. It had been a while since he had felt such an instant attraction to someone. The idea of having any kind of romantic relationship made him feel uneasy. He knew it was unlikely that his next relationship would go as catastrophically horrible as the last one – but that didn’t mean he still didn’t have that fear.
Donghun halted his thoughts, wanting to roll his eyes at himself. He wasn’t planning on having any sort of relationship with Jun other than doctor – patient. It was too easy to let his mind wonder sometimes.
Donghun suddenly jumped, dropping his nearly full beer to the floor, at the sudden sound of the front door slamming shut. He knocked back the chill in his body as he saw his best friend, an apologetic look on his face.
“Dammit, Chan.” Donghun groaned, picking up the spilt bottle, happy that the glass didn’t shatter. “How many times do I have to tell you to shut the door – gently.”
“Sorry hyung.” Chan grimaced. “Are you okay?” Donghun sighed, collecting himself. He hated that he could get spooked so easily sometimes. When he was out and about it was fine. People were often loud, the outside brought unexpected sounds all of the time. It was when he was at work, or at home, that the unexpected sent his heart racing.
“I’m fine.” He grumbled out, grabbing some paper towels from the kitchen to clean up the mess.
“Are you sure?” Chan pouted, his bookbag still slung over his right shoulder. Donghun sighed, ruffling his friends dark red hair.
“I’m sure.” He gave him a small smile. “How’d your test go?”
At the change of subject, Yuchan grinned. “Awesome. Fantastic. I’m a genius.”
Donghun chuckled at that, taking the bag from the youngers shoulder.
“Of course you are.” He answered, only a little sarcastically. Truth was, Chan was very smart, especially when it had to do with something that interested him. Not only that, but he was talented. Which is why Donghun encouraged him to go to school for music. For as long as Donghun had known him, that was all he had been interested in. Singing non-stop, learning every instrument, even taking dance lessons on the side. If it had to do with music, Chan wanted to try it out.
They both took a seat on the couch with a sigh, Chan linking his arm through Donghun’s.
“How was your new patient?”
Donghun sighed at that.
“That bad?” Chan giggled.
“No, he wasn’t too bad. He was just…. stubborn. I don’t even know if he’ll come back.”
“He will.” Chan said confidently. “Or he’ll miss out on the best doctor in all of Seoul.”
Yuchan teased, leaning his head on Donghun’s shoulder. This was how Chan was, cuddly, positive, always smiling – the sunshine that kept Donghun going. Chan had been there at his best, and his worst. He picked him up when he was at his lowest of lows. He had saved him from a relationship that had literally almost killed him. Donghun owed him everything. But he also knew he didn’t. Chan never did anything because he wanted something in return. He was just that kind of person; caring, and loving, and wholesome. And Donghun loved him for it.
There was a time when he thought his love for Chan was more than friendship, more intimate than brothers. Even if that was true, Donghun never felt a desire to change the nature of their relationship. He always wanted Chan by his side in this life. But he was more than satisfied and happy with him being there as his best friend. Plus, Donghun had an inkling that it would never work romantically between them. There were many ways in which they worked. Sometimes it was as if they fit together like puzzle pieces. Chan could always tell when something was bothering Donghun, even if the older never said anything. Donghun could always tell the difference between Chan’s genuine sunny smile, and the fake one he put on for appearances when he was uncomfortable.
Other times it was as if they two puzzle pieces from completely different puzzles. The thing was, Donghun could be mean. Sometimes unintentionally, sometimes intentionally. And Chan was sensitive. There were way too many times when Donghun’s words forced Chan to hide himself behind his locked bedroom door. When Donghun would want to talk about it, all Chan would want to do is ignore it – or ignore him. Donghun was straightforward. Chan hated confrontation. Donghun was sometimes honest to a fault. Chan liked to sugar coat things to spare the feelings of others. Sometimes those differences made them mesh, sometimes it made them want to kill each other.
At the end of the day, Donghun was just grateful that he had someone like Chan in his life.
“Shut up.” Donghun replied playfully.
They sat and talked about their days – Donghun omitted the part about being attracted to his new patient. Chan would definitely tease him about it, and probably encourage him to make a move. Which would not only be unprofessional, but a little more than unethical. Chan talked animatedly about a piece he was working on for his composition class. Donghun told him that he noticed the newly built restaurant down the street was finally open.
“We can go tomorrow when you get off work if you want?” The older suggested.
Chan pouted, crossing his arms, still slightly slumped against Donghun.
“I can’t.” He sighed. “I have a date.”
“What!?” Donghun grinned at him, then poked his arm playfully. “Channie has a date? Who is it?”
“The new guy at work.”
Donghun raised his eyebrow.
“The one you said you weren’t into.”
“Yeah, but he kept asking me out, and I don’t know…he’s cute, so why not?” Chan shrugged. Donghun turned toward him slightly.
“Is this your way of trying to get over those two customers you’re in love with?”
“Hyung!” Yuchan shoved him, pouting. “I’m not in love with them. I just...like them.”
“Uh huh.” Donghun teased. “You’re the only person I know who could be in love with two people at once.”
“I’m not in love!” Chan protested, hitting Donghun in the head with a pillow, before wrapping his arms around it, pouting further. “You’re mean.”
“You know I’m joking, Channie.” He smiled, squeezing the youngers knee. “But you deserve better than settling for someone you don’t like.” To Donghun, Chan deserved the world. Not some sleazy dude who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
“It’s just one date. And it’s more practical than asking out two guys who I know nothing about, besides how they like their coffee.” He paused. “I think they’re dating already anyway.”
“Isn’t that even better?”
Chan squinted at Donghun. “How is that possibly better?”
“If they’re already into each other, there’s better chance for you to date both of them, instead of just one.” Donghun shrugged.
“Hyung, you forget what the rest of Korea is like. Not everyone is as open to the idea of polyamory as you are. It’s bad enough being gay, as it is.”
“Hey.” Donghun nudged Channie. “It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks. If they can’t accept you, then they’re assholes.”
“Again, I wish everyone thought that way.” He sighed. “What about you?”
“What about me?”
“You haven’t been on a date in like, a million years.” Chan pointed out.
Donghun, shifted in his seat uncomfortably. Chan knew he hated this topic. But it would come back up every month or so. And Donghun would always have the same answer.
“I’m not really interesting in dating right now.”
“Hun.” The younger leaned his head back on Donghun’s shoulder, wrapping his arms around his waist, big eyes looking up at him. His voice was gentle when he spoke. “It’s been a year since you left that asshole. Aren’t you ready to move on?”
Donghun sighed, dropping his head on the back of the couch to stare at the ceiling, purposefully avoiding his best friend’s doe eyes. “It’s not about moving on, Channie.”
“Then what is it about?” He asked. Donghun bit the inside of his cheek. What was it about?
After a few moments of silence, where it seemed like Donghun wouldn’t reply, Chan continued. “I know you don’t like talking about it, hyung. I just want you to be happy.”
Donghun looked at the younger then, and tilted his head. “I am happy, Chan.” He ran his fingers through his best friend’s burgundy hair. “I have my job, and I have you…and I have my freedom. Those are all things I didn’t have a year ago.”
“You had me.” Yuchan pouted slightly. “You’ve always had me.” Donghun smiled at that.
“I know. I know I did, Channie.” The older pressed a light kiss on his forehead. “But you know how it was. Sometimes it felt like I had nothing.”
“But it’s different now.”
“It is.” Donghun paused, swallowing, thinking harder about Chan’s question about moving on. “But sometimes…. sometimes I’m still scared, you know? It’s dumb, but I can’t help it. And the idea of being with someone again…. it’s fucking terrifying.” He admitted, knowing that the younger wouldn’t judge him no matter what.
“I’ll be here.” Chan tightened his arms around him tighter.
“Be here for what?”
“Everything.” Chan replied with a smile that shined like the sun. “And when you decide to date again, I’ll make sure they treat you right.”
“Oh yeah?” Donghun snickered. “You do realize that you’re the least intimidating person on the planet, right?”
“Hey!” Chan pinched his side at that. Donghun laughed, squeezing his hand in his own.
A few beats of silence passed. “It’s okay to be scared. One day you’ll find someone who you won’t feel scared with. Besides me, of course.”
Donghun kissed the top of Yuchan’s head with a soft smile. “Well, no one could be scared of a fluff ball like you.”
Chan huffed at that, and Donghun laughed again. He hoped Chan was right. That he could find someone that he was comfortable with. That he would feel what it was like to be in love without being scared. For now, he was okay with his life. He was happy. And that was more than he could say a year ago.