Chapter 1: Chapter One
The penetrating sound of tires squealing, glass shattering, metal twisting. The chill of the cool night air as it whipped across your rain soaked skin. The darkness – almost pitch black. The feeling of being trapped with no way out…
Junhee woke with a deep breath, sweat damp on his skin. He stared at the ceiling, remembering where he was…and where he wasn’t. He closed his eyes again, focusing on calming his rapidly beating heart. He was in his bed, in his room, in his house. It was warm and dry in here, not wet and cold. But somehow, he still shivered at a phantom chill. Junhee sighed, slowly sitting up, and dropping his head in his hands. He knew he wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep for a while, if at all. He rarely did when he had nightmares, his body unable to fully relax properly. Luckily it wasn’t very often that he had to deal with them, maybe a couple times week at most. Not like Sehyoon, who he knew was plagued with the same nightmares almost every night. Even if he tried to hide it from Junhee and Byeongkwan. Junhee honestly didn’t know how his best friend got any rest. Maybe he didn’t.
The soft sound of clinking glass from the kitchen told him it was one of those nights for roommate also. With a sigh, Junhee scooted himself to the edge of the bed, stretching and bending his arms to warm them up before grabbing his nearby crutches. Holding his breath, he lifted himself up, feeling the familiar dull pain that stretched from his hands to his shoulders. He wondered if there would ever be a day he could do this without feeling like collapsing. At the moment, it seemed unlikely. There were so many things about his life that seemed unlikely now.
Junhee made his way to the kitchen, gritting his teeth as his arms shook from his weight. As expected, Sehyoon stood in the kitchen in an oversized t-shirt, hair mussed from sleep, bringing a glass filled with water to his lips. Junhee sank down in the chair across the bar from him, his joints feeling as if they would give an audible sigh of relief if they could. Sehyoon gave him a small smile, and moved to grab another glass from the cupboard. A few moments later, he slid the glass filled with water in front of Junhee.
“Can’t sleep?” Sehyoon asked, already knowing why they were both awake. Junhee snorted, sipping at the cold water, enjoying the relief it brought to his parched throat. Sehyoon dragged his fingers over the condensation that had built on his glass, eyes trained on the droplets that slid down to the counter. Junhee could tell he had been crying – his eyes noticeably bloodshot. He knew that Sehyoon’s sleep had been interrupted for at least the past three nights. Junhee had heard his whimpers and screams through the ceiling.
“What was it this time?” Junhee questioned. He knew that he was the only one who had the privilege to ask this question. Anyone else would be scolded, or just plain ignored. Sehyoon wrapped both of his hands around his glass, not taking his eyes from it.
“The rain.” He whispered. “The cold.”
“Me too.” Junhee nodded. He wondered if it had to do with the scattered rain and overcast that had plagued Seoul the last few days.
“I’m so tired.” Sehyoon breathed, rubbing his hands over his face and through his hair. Junhee knew that Sehyoon didn’t just mean that he was tired in that moment because he had woken up. Junhee knew because he was tired in the same way. “Kwan and I were talking earlier...I think…” Sehyoon sighed. “I think I’m going to call the doctor in the morning. Get a recommendation for a therapist.”
Junhee sat up straighter looking at his best friend in surprise. Sehyoon had shown no interest in talking about anything, except to Junhee, and even that was limited. Junhee understood, since he was the same way. He felt that if he talked about it, it would only feel more real, only get harder.
“Really?” Jun asked in surprise.
“Yeah, I just…I still don’t think it will help, but I don’t know what else to do. I can’t sleep, Jun. I’m going to go crazy if I have another month like this one.”
“It could help.” Junhee tried, attempting to stay positive for his best friend, even if he couldn’t for himself.
“It can’t hurt.” Sehyoon said, taking a drink, pausing before speaking again. “Neither would physical therapy.”
Jun deflated, letting out a tired sigh and rubbing his eyes.
“Yoon, we’ve been over this—”
“You’re not living, Jun. You can barely get around.”
“I get around fine.” Jun gritted his teeth, looking away. He hated this conversation.
“Junhee.” Sehyoon said softly, leaning on the counter so that he was eye level with him. “What are you so afraid of?”
“I’m not afraid.” Jun lied through his teeth. “I just know it won’t help.”
“No, you don’t know that.” Sehyoon challenged. “If I’m going to a shrink, you can get your ass to a physical therapist.” Sehyoon’s smirk made him relax slightly.
“Oh, now you’re going to leverage that against me?” Junhee teased, raising an eyebrow. “I’m okay.”
“No, you’re not.” Sehyoon turning serious again. “Not physically, or mentally, or emotionally. Because neither am I.” Junhee stared at his glass, feeling his mind race.
“What are you going to do otherwise? Waste away in your room until you decide to—” Sehyoon cut himself off, swallowing loudly. Jun didn’t want to look at him, knowing what he was going to say. And hating it. He hated it. He hated almost everything, hated his ceiling that he stared at for hours upon hours as he laid in his bed, hated how much a nuisance he had become over the past several months. But he especially hated himself. Him and his useless body. But he didn’t hate his best friends. He could never. Even though he tried.
“I—” He cleared his throat. “I wouldn’t do that to you guys again.” Jun remembered their faces when he woke up. The pained expressions that he himself had put there. Especially Byeongkwan. He had been the one to find him sinking into the overfilled bathtub, barely conscious. He remembers the wails of his best friend before plunging into full darkness.
“What about you? You should want to get better for you, not us.”
“Is that what you’re doing?” Jun challenged. “Talking to a shrink for you and not because Kwan won’t stop bugging you?”
“I’m going,” Sehyoon crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Because I know he’s right. I won’t be able to function if I can’t sleep. Sleeping pills don’t help. This might.” He shrugged.
Silence echoed in the dimly lit kitchen. Unlike Sehyoon, Jun didn’t think Byeongkwan was right. Nothing could help him. Not his mind. Not his body. The idea of going to therapy, putting in that effort, and then finding out he could never again be who he once was – there was nothing more painful than that. Jun would rather waste away in the darkness of his room, hating himself all the while, than put himself through that. This was his life now. He had accepted it. He hated it. But he had accepted it.
“I hope it works for you.” Jun said quietly, taking a gulp of his water, which was now closer to room temperature.
“Junhee…” Sehyoon frowned, eyes downturned in a sad expression. He knew that he put that look on his friend’s face.
“I can’t Yoon. I just can’t.” Jun stated with finality, grabbing his crutches. They both knew the conversation was over. As Junhee made his way back to his bed, disappointment seeped into his chest. Disappointment in himself, in what he had become. But there was no turning back now. That’s what he repeated over and over in his head, constantly convincing himself it was impossible to move forward.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Thank you for all of your kind comments on the first chapter! And enjoy Chapter 2! (Don't worry Donghun will be in Chapter 3). TRIGGER WARNING: Depression, suicidal thoughts, mentions of a past suicide attempt, depictions of PTSD, and mention of a physical disability.
“Hyung! It’s movie night!” Byeongkwan grinned, holding a bag of popcorn in one hand, and clutching what looked like several movies in the other. Junhee squinted at him. He had left his bedroom to grab a snack, seeing as it was a few minutes past 4pm and he had yet to eat anything all day. He knew he should probably eat real food, but he really wasn’t in the mood. That happened too often these days. That’s how he found Byeongkwan in the kitchen, shuffling through an enormously large pile of various snack foods.
“Movie night?” Junhee asked, taking a seat before he got too tired to hold himself up.
“Yeah! Movie night! We use to do it every Friday, remember?”
Junhee remembered. Of course, he remembered. But there were a lot of things that they all did before the accident that they just didn’t anymore. “Yeah.” Jun answered hesitantly.
“I know it’s been a while, but Yoon hyung has been trying to get back to some of his old routine. I thought this might help.” Kwan explained. Jun nodded.
Sehyoon had been going to therapy twice a week, for a little over a month now. And you could tell it exhausted him. Not in the way he had been exhausted from not sleeping, but exhausted emotionally. The therapy, much to Jun’s surprise, was actually helping his insomnia and nightmares. He still woke up fairly often when the moon was high in the sky, but not every night anymore. You could see that the bags under his eyes had lightened slightly, and a hint of his old cheeky smile was starting to show. Junhee was really happy for him; that he was finding a way to move forward with his life. Though, he knew it really wasn’t that simple. According to Sehyoon’s therapist, there would be times when he backtracked. Junhee and Byeongkwan saw it firsthand a week earlier, when they woke up to deafening screams, even louder than usual. Junhee could hear Byeongkwan’s footsteps race across the floor through the ceiling above him. Jun got out of his own bed as fast as he could and made his way to the bottom of the staircase. He had fully expected for the wailing to stop, or at least slow down, but it didn’t. And he could now hear Kwan’s voice also, earnestly trying to calm their best friend down. This is how, for the first time since the accident, Junhee found himself upstairs. He didn’t really know how he got up there without falling or passing out; he just knew that his friend needed him. When he finally got to Sehyoon’s room, with sweat dripping down his forehead, he found Yoon on his bed in the arms of Byeongkwan. His eyes were clamped shut tightly, his sobbing louder than Jun had heard it in months. Kwan squeezed him tight, telling him it would be okay. He was safe. But his worried look to Junhee contrasted his soothing tone. Junhee made his way to the bed, and scooted as close to his roommates as he could.
“Yoon…” Jun said carefully, his voice shaking. “You need to open your eyes.” Sehyoon continued to sob, tears somehow making their way through the clenched eyelids. “You’re not there.” June whispered. This was the last thing he wanted to talk about. This was the last thing he wanted to remember. But he knew what Sehyoon was feeling. He too had first-hand experience with PTSD. He knew what it was like to feel as if you were experiencing all of that trauma all over again. And he knew that grounding Sehyoon to reality was the best way to pull him out of it. “Open your eyes, Yoonie.”
This time Sehyoon shook his head frantically, as if he didn’t believe that he really was at home in his bed.
“Hyung.” Kwan said gently, running his fingers through Sehyoon’s bleached hair. “Come on, open your eyes. Your home. You’re with me and Junnie. You’re okay.”
With a little more coaxing, Sehyoon slowly opened his eyes. What followed were more sobs, more tears, and ample apologies – to which Byeongkwan and Junhee pressed were not necessary.
After his episode, Sehyoon’s therapist told him that he shouldn’t feel bad for digressing, that it was a part of the natural process of healing. The most important thing was that he continued trying to heal. She also told him that he should try to reconnect with some of his old routine; that it may make him feel more grounded.
Kwan was right, a movie night might be just what Sehyoon needed…and maybe Jun did too. As he watched the progress Sehyoon was making, as small as it was, he felt hope for his friend. He only wished that he felt some of that hope for himself. As Byeongkwan shuffled about, trying to make sense of the mess he had made on the kitchen counter, Junhee stared down at his lap. He rubbed his hand over his left thigh, pretending that if he moved it down a bit further, there would actually be something there; that his thigh would connect to a knee, then to a calf, ankle, foot—but no. That’s what made him different than Sehyoon. Sehyoon may have lost part of his mind while they were trapped in that car, but he was slowly finding it again, piecing it back together. But Junhee…Junhee lost a part of him that he would never get back. And losing that part had destroyed his hopes, his dreams, and probably, his sanity. He would never actually be able to put himself fully back together again.
“Do you think I bought enough?” Byeongkwan asked, with sincerity in his eyes. Junhee almost laughed at his roommate. “I wanted to get all of Yoon’s favorites. Yours too.”
“Yeah, Kwan.” Junhee sighed, with a small smile. “I think it’s enough.” Byeongkwan nodded, and smiled to himself.
“Good.” His roommate rubbed his hands together, looking uncertain.
“What’s wrong?” Jun prodded.
“It’s nothing…” Byeongkwan shook his head. Junhee debated dropping it, but he also wanted to remove the weary look from his best friend’s face.
“Are you sure?” Jun asked, raising an eyebrow. Byeongkwan opened his mouth for a second, and then closed it again. His eyes focused on his hands, fingers fumbling with each other.
“I…I don’t want you to be mad at me.” He said gently, not looking up. Junhee sat up straighter at that, frowning.
“Why would I?”
“You know I just want to help you, right?” Kwan carefully looked at him. Junhee was starting to feel a little anxious, knowing the direction this was probably going in.
“Kwan?” Junhee pressed.
“I’ve been talking to some doctors.” Byeongkwan confessed. Junhee stayed silent, waiting for him to continue. “I found some physical therapists. Really good ones. The best.”
Junhee swallowed, glancing away from his roommate.
“We’ve talked about this, Kwan.”
“I know. But I just….is it so wrong that I’m hoping you’ll change your mind? Sehyoon hyung did.”
“I’m not Sehyoon.” Junhee bit his lip, trying to push down any anger he felt. He didn’t want to be mad at Byeongkwan. He wasn’t really. He just was so tired of this conversation. So tired of his best friend trying to help him. He couldn’t be helped. That was just how it was.
“I know that. I know. And this isn’t the therapy that Yoon is doing, Junnie. You don’t have to talk about anything.”
“Oh, and that makes it easier?” Junhee bit.
“You know I don’t think that.” Kwan’s eyes turned sad. “But Jun, you were supposed to continue going when you got out of the hospital.” Yeah, he was supposedto. But he didn’t. His body was too weak. Everything was too painful. If he couldn’t handle the menial exercises at the hospital, how was he supposed to go see a PT four days a week? He would rather lay in his bed, and pretend that he didn’t lose a part of himself in that accident. That his body was still whole. He already had to deal with the broken, fragile thing that his mind had become. Dealing with his reality on a physical level was a whole other story. “If you go, you’ll be able to rebuild your muscle mass. And get around easier. You’ve gotten so skinny.... I’m worried.”
Junhee’s heart ached at his best friend’s words. He knew he looked terrible. Maybe even worse than he felt. “And eventually you might even be able to –”
“Don’t say it.” Jun cut him off, feeling lightheaded all of a sudden. “It’s not for me, Kwan. I think I’m going to lay back down.” He moved to grab his crutches, his throat feeling tight.
“Can you just –” Jun stopped himself before he let his voice get louder. “Stop, Kwan, just stop.”
“You don’t smile anymore.” Byeongkwan’s voice was so low, Junhee almost didn’t hear it. He froze, his hands holding his crutches in a death grip. “You used to smile all the time. I miss it.”
Junhee blinked, feeling wetness growing in his eyes. He missed it too. He missed smiling. He missed a lot of things about how he used to be.
“And you really think that just because I learn how to walk a little better, I’ll smile again?” He turned back to Byeongkwan, gritting his teeth. “You think that will make everything better? That I’ll magically heal and start smiling? That I’ll be able to….” He swallowed the lump in his throat. “That’s bullshit and you know it.”
“It’s a start, though, Junnie. It’ssomething.” Byeongkwan pleaded.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I know I don’t know what you’re going through, okay? You or Sehyoon. But, I want to help. And I think this might help.” Byeongkwan wiped his cheek, catching a stray tear that had fallen. “And I don’t want to lose my best friend.”
“Maybe you would better off if you had.” The words left Jun’s mouth before his brain had caught up. Byeongkwan’s eyes widened at that, more tears spilling down his cheeks.
It’s not that Jun didn’t entirely mean it. He often thought of how the lives of those around him would be better if he were no longer there. Maybe if he had died in that accident. Or from his injuries in the hospital. Or from the countless infections that had plagued his body. Maybe if he had taken a few more pills on that cold winter night, it would have been just enough to allow him to sleep forever. But then he remembered Sehyoon and Byeongkwan. He remembered his best friends who had been there for him through everything. When his parents died suddenly – and he was left with no family. His best friends who pushed him to do what he had always wanted to do. The same ones who danced by his side every day in the studio and on stage. Sehyoon, who kept him sane as they were trapped in that car, even when his own mind was spiraling. His best friends who sat by his hospital bed for months on end. And the first faces he saw when he came out of his pill induced fog; the faces that smiled and cried for him, telling him how glad they were that he was alive. From Jun’s perspective, he couldn’t see how his presence made their lives any easier. But from theirs, he was just as important to them as they were to him. When he flipped it, he knew his heart would break if either of them tried to hurt themselves the way he had.
“Kwan, I didn’t mean that.” He said quickly, seeing his best friend’s face crumbling.
“How…how could you say that?” His voice sounded broken, and hurt.
“I didn’t – I’m sorry. I –”
“I might not know how you’re feeling or be able to understand what you’ve been through. But you don’t know what I’ve been through either.” He sounded angry now. It was a tone from Byeongkwan that Jun hadn’t heard in a very long time. And he knew that he had screwed up.
“I was the one whose calls didn’t get answered for hours and hours. I waited and waited and waited and…nothing. I thought you both were dead. I thought –” He wiped his eyes, holding back a sob. “And then I found you, Jun. When you decided for everyone that we were better off without you, I’mthe one who found you! Twice, I had to go through the feeling thinking you were dead! I know it doesn’t compare to what you’ve had to deal with, but don’t sit here and tell me that me and Sehyoon would be better off without you. Because I can tell you first hand, that we wouldn’t.” With that, Byeongkwan made his way out of the kitchen.
“Kwan!” Junhee yelled after him, feeling wetness on his cheeks. Hi heart raced as he watched his best friend disappear up the stairs. He was too slow to follow him—to stop him. So instead, he just sat there, feeling sobs rack through his body. He ran a hand through his dark, unwashed hair. Byeongkwan had never talked about it. He was always so focused on Jun and Sehyoon’s recovery. He never once talked about what all of this was like for him. Jun felt like an idiot. For all of his talk of wanting to be there for his best friends, he did a pretty crappy job of it. This sucked for everyone –but they had each other, they always had each other.
Junhee didn’t know how long he sat there, it could have been hours for all he knew. Eventually, his sobs stopped, his tears dried. Surprisingly, it had been a while since he had cried like that. He was usually consumed with anger or numbness. On some level, letting the tears fall had felt therapeutic. His head was still cloudy, his hands still shaky, but he felt like he could breathe a little easier. He thought back to the conversation him and Sehyoon had months ago, right before he started therapy. How he told Junhee that he should want to get better for himself, not them. The problem with that was Junhee cared way more about his best friends than he cared about himself. And he wanted to be better for them. He wanted to be his old self for them. He wanted to smile again for Byeongkwan. Maybe if he tried for them, then eventually he would have the strength to try for himself too. Right now, that seemed doubtful – but they made a tiny part of him want to at least try.
“What’s with the snacks?” Sehyoon’s voice startled Junhee out of his trance. He hadn’t even heard the front door open. His friends amused expression turned to concern when he saw Junhee’s face. “Are you okay? What happened?”
“Um…” Junhee sat up straighter, clearing his throat. “…movie night.” Sehyoon stared at him silently. “Kwan kind of…went crazy with the snacks.” He tried to force a laugh.
“Okay.” Sehyoon nodded, approaching Jun carefully. Sehyoon was the silent type, so it didn’t surprise Junhee to be met with silence and a gentle hand on his shoulder. After a moment Junhee spoke.
“Can you help me upstairs?” Junhee asked. He usually hated asking for help, but he knew that his body disagreed with the tiniest ounce of exertion. And he had something he needed to do. Sehyoon stared at him for second, and then nodded, not questioning him.
By the time they reached the top of the staircase, Junhee was out of breath, despite Sehyoon bearing most of his weight. “You good?” Sehyoon asked, his arm firmly wrapped around Junhee’s waist.
“Yeah.” Junhee replied breathily. “I have it.”
“Yeah.” Jun nodded. “Give me a minute with him?”
Sehyoon nodded, still keeping his questions to himself and retreated back down the stairs. Junhee sighed, slowly making his way to Byeongkwan’s door on shaky arms. Fearing his best friend wouldn’t respond if announced himself, Junhee opted to let himself in. The room was dark, the only light slipping through the white blinds. He could make out a curled human shape on the bed, underneath the comforter. Junhee took a seat on the edge of the bed, facing away from the figure.
“I’m sorry.” His scratchy voice pierced the silence of the room. “I’m sorry for what I said. And for being…well, the way I am.” He swallowed, forcing himself to continue. “I just don’t see what you see. That happy, smiling person I was before the accident…I feel like he’s gone. I know you think that I can find my way back from this somehow…that I can be happy again…that I can…danceagain.” Junhee clenched his fists, saying this out loud. “But I don’t. I really don’t. I wish I did, but I don’t. And I’m sorry that I feel that way. I’m sorry—”
“Stop apologizing.” Byeongkwan’s muffled voice came from behind him. “I don’t think any of us will ever be exactly the same as before. I just want you to be happy. Whatever that means for you.”
“And if I can’t?” Jun felt the bed shift, Byeongkwan scooting to his side so that he could look at him. Junhee immediately felt guilty seeing the younger’s swollen eyes.
“I believe you can, hyung.” Kwan said genuinely. Junhee snorted, ruffling Byeongkwan’s hair. They sat in comfortable silence for a moment, before Junhee broke the silence.
“What?” Byeongkwan looked at him confused.
“To one of the PT’s you found. I’ll go.”
Really!?” Byeongkwan grinned at Junhee.
“One appointment. If I hate it, that’s it.”
“Junnie!” He wrapped his arms around Jun, giving him a squeeze.
“Okay, okay.” Junhee felt himself smiling, patting Byeongkwan on the back.
“And if you don’t mind it? You’ll keep going?” He asked hopeful.
“Let’s get through the first appointment first.” Junhee sighed. He didn’t feel any better about the situation, but the smile on his best friend’s face made him slightly more comfortable about his decision. Sehyoon was also ecstatic, well as ecstatic as Sehyoon could be, giving Junhee a hug and a soft smile. For the first time in a long time, Junhee felt himself smile without feeling any pain behind it. He sat with his best friends, watching movie after movie, eating too much junk food, and for once, wasn’t consumed by the shadows in his mind. The night ended with Byeongkwan cuddling against Sehyoon’s side, softly snoring, and Junhee himself beginning to drift off. If only he could capture those few hours and keep them forever, his life would be much easier.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Sorry for the delay! Finally meeting Donghun! Hopefully next chapter Chan will also come in.
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of a physical disability and crude language involving that disability
Junhee stared at the building through the car window, turning his phone over in his hands nervously. He was really starting to regret his decision about this. The decision to do this was a lot easier than actually doing it. He had expected a medical building or even a hospital – not a small unassuming structure hiding on a back street.
“Do you need help in?” Sehyoon asked gently. He had been patiently and silently waiting since they had pulled up to the building. They had already been sitting there for at least 5 minutes, and Junhee hadn’t even begun to broach the idea of getting out of the car.
“No, I—” He swallowed. “I can do it.” He paused, tilting his head at the grey building. “Are you sure this is the right place?”
“Yeah, Kwan gave me the address.” Byeongkwan had set everything up for Junhee. In all honestly, Jun could have cared less which PT he went to. He just wanted to get this over with. The younger had wanted to come with them, but he had an important test that afternoon that he had been up late cramming for. “We can reschedule, you know? If you’re not up for it.”
In response, Junhee grabbed his crutches with a sigh. “No rescheduling.” He pushed the door open and began the process of getting out of the car. “I’ll text you when I’m done?”
“Okay.” Sehyoon nodded. “If you need anything—”
“I’ll be fine, Yoon.” Jun forced a smile. He had to be. He promised he would do this. So, he was going to do it. Even if he hated every second.
By the time he made it in the building, he felt his arms shaking and sweat at the back of his neck. The inside was just as unassuming as the outside. A large room, blue mats covering the floor, standard looking gym equipment lining the walls – and it was empty.
“Hello?” He asked to nobody. He waited a moment, then heard a rustling noise, followed by a man coming through the door at the far end of the room.
“Hi!” The man greeted with a gentle smile. “You must be Mr. Park.” The man stopped in front of him, giving a respectful bow. Jun cleared his throat, keeping himself composed at the extremely attractive man in front of him. He didn’t leave the house much these days, and he definitely hadn’t gotten any action since before the accident. So yeah, he was a little affected when he saw a hot guy. Especially a tall, golden skinned, obviously fit, hot guy. The man wore a black t shirt, snug enough to show off his broad shoulders, and track pants that fit is thighs like a glove. Junhee must have looked like a slob next to him, though to be fair, he looked like a slob next to most people these days. He hadn’t bothered putting in his contacts that morning, his wire frames perched on his nose. He wore the same grey sweatpants that he wore 5 out of the 7 days of the week, and a t-shirt with a hole in the collar. His hair was probably a mess, not bothering to style it after his shower that morning. Hey, but at least he showered.
“Um, I’m here to see Dr. Lee?”
“Oh, you can just call me Donghun.”
Junhee paused, surprised. He definitely expected someone a bit older. Kwan had said he found the best PT’s in Seoul. There was no way this guy fit that bill; he couldn’t have been much older than Junhee. There was something else too. Junhee found it hard to interact with people in his current condition, the main reason being the sheer amount of pity in their voice, their sad eyes, and the way they couldn’t help but stare at the missing part of him. But this man didn’t do any of that. He maintained eye contact with Junhee, seemingly not even noticing how he was balancing on one leg, rather than two. His voice was steady, friendly, and his eyes – well, they looked sad, but not because of Junhee. They were naturally downturned, and so very soft that Junhee felt that he could drown in them.
“You’re Dr. Lee?” Junhee raised an eyebrow at the man.
“Donghun.” He corrected. “And yes.”
“Oh, okay.” Jun swallowed, gripping his crutches tighter, really starting to notice the weight of his own body.
“Sorry, I would bow or shake your hand but—”
“Of course, why don’t we sit down? And we can get started.”
Dr. Lee—Donghun guided him to a table in the corner of the room, with a few chairs around it. Junhee sighed with relief as he sat down, and watched as Donghun opened a laptop.
“So, for the first session I’d like to get an idea of why you’re here and what you’re looking to get out of it. And of course, try to understand the level of pain and discomfort you feel. That will help us develop a plan for you and set some goals.”
“Okay.” Junhee nodded, not mentioning that there was no need to develop a plan, because this was likely the first and last time that he would be here.
“Great.” Donghun gave small smile. “So, Mr. Park, what brings you here?”
Junhee was taken aback by the question, confusion only growing at the genuine expression on Donghun’s face.
“Are you serious?” He stared at him, blinking. Donghun frowned at that.
Junhee was used to people only ever seeing his disability, it was somehow even stranger having someone not seeing it at all.
“Well, it might be the fact that I don’t have a leg.” Junhee said bitterly, angry that he was being made to say it out loud. It was always something that was there, impossible to ignore every minute of every day. When something was so obvious, it didn’t really need words.
“You’ll need to be more specific.”
Jun gaped at the man. More specific? What did that even mean?
“More specific?” Junhee crossed his arms, leaning back in his chair, feeling irritated. “Well, my knee, calf, and foot seem to be missing.”
“Mr. Park, I’m not asking you what your injury is. I have copies of your medical files.” He explained. “I’m asking why you’re here.”
Junhee squinted at the man, not saying anything. Honestly, because he really didn’t know what to say. Donghun eventually gave small smile, shutting his laptop and turning his so he was facing directly toward Junhee.
“I know this isn’t the most comfortable thing to talk about.” He started, his voice gentle.
“No, it isn’t.” Jun said before Donghun could continue.
“Well, then…” Donghun leaned to rest his forearms on his knees, eyes on Junhee. “I’ll tell you why I think you’re here.” Junhee kept his eyes averted from him, clenching his jaw. If this man thought he knew anything about him just by looking at some medical records, he was sorely mistaken. Jun stayed silent. “Your body is weak. Probably partly because it never fully healed from the infections, and partly because you haven’t done anything to strengthen your muscles since you were admitted in the hospital. I can tell you’re not very mobile and you’re easily exhausted. It’s obvious you haven’t done any therapy in a long time, if at all. I don’t know what your goals are, only you can tell me that. But I’m sure you would at least like to walk from the car into this building without feeling like you’re going to pass out.”
As Donghun spoke, Junhee clenched his jaw tighter. He wasn’t wrong about the weakness of his body. But hearing him say it only made Junhee angrier about his situation, and angry about being there.
“You’re wrong.” Junhee answered still looking away from him.
“Okay.” Donghun leaned back. “Then tell me.”
“I’m here because I made a promise to someone.” Junhee looked at the doctor. “So, can we just get this over with? Then I can leave and never come back here again.”
Donghun looked pensive for a second, seeming unaffected by Jun’s words. He hoped that he had gotten his point across well enough. He hadn’t expected that the first question he would be asked was his motive for coming here. The doctors at the hospital limited the conversation to ‘How’s your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?’ and giving him bland looking pamphlets on various exercises.
“Hm.” Donghun hummed. “Has anyone every talked to you about prosthetics?”
Junhee stared at him, surprised by the question and change of subject.
“Prosthetic limbs? Has a doctor every talked to you about the process of using one?”
“Why does that matter?”
“Well, because as you so elegantly put it—you seem to be missing a knee, calf, and foot.” His words shocked Junhee, not expecting Donghun to use his own crude words against him. Before he could retaliate, Donghun continued. “Look, Mr. Park, I see a lot of patients. A lot of patients who work their asses off every day for a chance to get back to even a fraction of the function they used to have. So, I really don’t have time for someone who has zero desire to be here.”
“I…” Junhee shut his mouth, trying to get his bearings. His hopes that this would be a boring chat was being crushed by the second. He felt like Donghun was trying to get something out of him, though he wasn’t sure what it was. All Junhee felt was anger. This man didn’t know anything about his life, so he shouldn’t pretend like he did.
“If you don’t want to be here, you should have never come at all.” Donghun said seriously.
“I know that.” Junhee bit. “But try telling my friends that.”
“And you think they’re going to be satisfied with you only attending one appointment?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Not that it’s any of your business, but we agreed if it didn’t work out, I wouldn’t come back.”
“Fair trade, I guess.” Donghun crossed his arms. “Though I’m sure your friends didn’t account for your lack of effort.”
Junhee felt his patience wearing thin with this man. He obviously had no qualms about overstepping his boundaries as a doctor. He wondered if he pushed his other patient’s buttons this way.
“You think it’s easy for someone like me to make an effort?” Jun rolled his eyes.
“Someone like you?” He asked curiously.
“Yeah, a cripple.” Junhee glanced away.
“First of all, we don’t use that kind of language here.”
“Yeah?” Junhee noticed the irritation on the doctor’s face, and felt a flame within his belly. “What about invalid? Or gimp? Or one of my personal favorites, ‘poor, poor boy’.”
“Mr. Park…” Donghun sighed, obviously effected by Junhee’s choice vocabulary. Junhee felt something twist in his chest, like a feeling of victory, that he was able to bother the man in such a way. “…I’m not going to treat you any differently than anyone else. You happen to have a physical disability, which keeps you from living your life the way you used to. It doesn’t warrant you special treatment or least of all, my respect.”
Junhee felt a pang at that. It was the first time someone was saying this to him. Ever since the accident, all Junhee had wanted was to be left alone. To not gain attention due to his injuries. To have people actually look at him like a person, and not a person with a missing leg. He was so sick and tired of the sadness and pity in people’s eyes. He hated that others felt they had to treat him a certain way just because they had something he didn’t.
Since the accident, he had become a shell of a person. The smiling, carefree Junhee had all but died in that hospital bed. If he was being honest, he had become a little bit of an asshole. But it didn’t matter how terrible he acted, how rude he was – people were nice to him because he was a poor boy missing a leg. But now, he had someone sitting in front of him, telling him that if Junhee was going to act that way, then he wasn’t worth his time.
Before he realized what was happening, a laugh bubbled from Junhee’s throat. A genuine, pure laugh that he didn’t even know he was capable of anymore. Donghun, on the other hand, did not seem amused.
“Did I say something funny?”
“No, I—” Junhee felt the smile on his face widen, as he tried to catch his breath. “Sorry.”
“As I was saying,” Donghun started, ignored the smile on Junhee’s face. “I won’t treat you differently. When you’re here, those slurs aren’t allowed. If you want to my help, that’s great. But we’ll need to get into the nitty gritty of any physical issues you have. And if you don’t want to be here, please let yourself out.”
Junhee bit his bottom lip, feeling light from his outburst. And also feeling….intrigued? Only moments ago, he had felt his anger building toward the other man, trying to push his buttons. What he didn’t expect was that the doctor would actually react. Jun was amused, and for a second, he felt like a regular person again.
“I don’t want to be here.” Junhee finally said, honestly.
Donghun sighed, obviously disappointed.
“Fine. You can sit inside until your ride is here. I’ll be in my office.” He reached for his computer and started to stand.
“Wait.” Junhee found himself speaking with little thought. Donghun froze, staring down at him expectantly. Jun swallowed, not really sure what he was doing. This could be over. Dr. Lee could go back in his office, Jun could call Sehyoon, and then he would never have to see or speak to another physical therapist again. But then…there was something tugging at him. Something inside him wanting to chase that light that had bloomed in his chest as he laughed. Something that didn’t want his interaction with the doctor to end here. Something that craved his old self – his old self that could easily laugh and joke with his best friends. “I don’t want to be here. I came here because my best friends wanted me to.”
“Okay.” Donghun said slowly, prompting Junhee to continue.
“But maybe…maybe you could just tell me a little bit about….” He waved his hand. “…all of this.” He felt almost embarrassed to be asking, despite this being the exact reason they were both here. Donghun sat back down, a soft expression on his face. His eyes glistened naturally, making Junhee’s chest feel tight. Junhee avoided his gaze, looking down at his lap, and pulling at a loose thread on his sweatpants. “I don’t want to talk about me yet. I know that’s….I know you said we need to but—”
“Hey.” Donghun said gently, compelling Junhee to look back up at him. “I can do that.”
Junhee nodded. And listened, actually listened to every word that came from Donghun’s very distracting lips. He listened and still felt pessimistic and bitter—felt as is this wasn’t for him at all. But there was also a miniscule part of him that felt the tiniest spark of hope. Maybe it would be just enough for him to hold on to.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Sorry for the delay! Chan is here! Here is some best friend Donghun/Chan fluff, and a peek into Donghun's past.
Also, WHO'S READY FOR THE COMEBACK!?!? :)
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.