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Before You Go, Please Hear Out My Heart

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'Let's welcome back, Lee Donghun everyone!' the hosts say. The immediate cheers of the audience are deafening.

 

Donghun himself still doesn't comprehend how it all happened—being a widely known singer across the nation at 25 years old. It's still surreal to him if he were to be honest. 

 

'Welcome back, Donghun! Are you finally ready to sing one of the songs from your upcoming album for us?' 

 

'Thank you! I am, I've prepared one of my personal favourites, just for you and the audience today,' Donghun answered. He smiled brightly, eyes shining. The screams in the back were proof of the effectiveness of that smile. 

 

'Oh my! Now I can't wait to hear it!' the co-hostess turned towards the audience, 'Are all of you ready too?' 

 

The resulting shrieks and squeals of the crowd were borderline inhumane now. 

 

'Well it certainly seems like they are, no doubt about that!' Donghun comments, waving at a few fans from upstage. 

 

'Now, Donghun, would you like to tell us a little about the song you're going to sing for us right now?' the co-host inquires. 

 

'Of course! It's actually a song I wrote when I was younger. I rediscovered it just recently, and the producers fell in love with it, so we decided it was finally time to release it on an album!' the singer replies. He figured they would ask something like this already. 

 

'Can we ask what it is about? So we can prepare ourselves for what's to come?' 

 

Now that caught him off guard. This definitely wasn't in the script he had been sent beforehand. He crosses his arms in front of his chest. 

 

'Ah, well...what can I say...many of my songs are about experiences I had in the past, this is one of those songs. Since everybody has a different interpretation of music, I don't want to tell you my personal meaning because it could influence what the audience will think about it.I'd just like all of you to listen to my song and think about it for yourself.'

 

'Oha, spoken like a true artist! I like it, Donghun, I like it!' the co-host gives him a firm pat on the shoulder simultaneously.

 

'Now then, the stage is yours!' the co-hostess turns towards the audience again, 'Everyone! Are you ready?'

 

The screams were earsplitting once again. Donghun loves his fans, he does, but wow, that's kind of terrifying. 

 

'This is Lee Donghun with his song "Before You Go" from his upcoming album "Verse #2: W; HerO".'

 

Immense cheering and clapping followed. The lights dim, and for a short moment, everything is dark.

 

Donghun takes a deep breath. 

 

Maybe doing this wasn't the best idea. The thoughts inside Donghun's head are running at a thousand kilometres per hour. 

 

Perhaps I should just play a different song I'm sure it wouldn't be much of a problem to change it now would it no, it would, think about the production staff and all the effort they put into this just for you you dumbass it's not right to think such thoughts right now I need to calm down, that's what I need to do right? Junhee would be mad at me if I caused a scene right now. 

 

Before his thoughts could spiral any more, the stage crew lit all the candles on the set he's currently sitting on. The commotion pulls him from his thoughts. 

 

Right, he was on stage right now, just about to perform what is probably the most emotional song he's ever written in his life, he could do this!  

 

Maybe. 

 

Before the performance starts, he takes a quick look around the stage set. 

 

Roses. 

 

Candles. 

 

A crystal chandelier. 

 

Low lighting. 

 

Oh no, I definitely cannot do this, I just can't. Where's Junhee? I need to cancel this or have them change the set-design, I can't handle this. This is too much. 

 

He looks for his manager at the side of his stage. 

 

He isn't there. 

Junhee isn't there. He's usually always there.

 

Where is Junhee?

 

And then the first strums of a guitar can be heard. Donghun freezes. 

 

It started. The song has already begun, Donghun has to perform this song now.

 

Oh no. 

 

But then he listens to the cheers of the audience again. Right, I can't disappoint them now, I'll have to get over this. 

 

He takes a deep breath. He focuses. 

 

I've got this! 

 

With a made-up mind, he closes his eyes, let's the music consume him, and finally starts singing. 

 

"I fell by the wayside like everyone else

I hate you, I hate you, I hate you but I was just kidding myself"

 

Donghun's vocal coaches have always told him to focus on his voice and singing determinedly. Still, he's currently two lines into this song, and Donghun can already feel his mind wandering back. 

 

The lyrics, burned into his mind by the intense anger, grief and self-hatred he had felt the moment he wrote it. He doesn't need to think about forgetting them, he can't. 

 

His mind is already repainting that one fateful day from two years ago. It's like a poison, taking over and corrupting his mind, not leaving a sliver of room for anything else. 

It almost feels like he's drowning inside his head. 

 

"Our every moment, I start to replace

'Cause now that they're gone all I hear were the words that I needed to say"

 

Slowly, he remembers all the little details of that day.

 

The fresh, blood-red roses in a vase on the dinner table - beautiful but dangerous, bleeding love and emotions I wonder what emotions he felt in that moment if it felt amazing ripping my heart out of my body or whatever would he feel like bleeding like I did on some days? Maybe, I don't know I also don't know what he thought about the necklace I got him that day it was so beautiful, I made sure it was nicely polished and clean clean like the streets that night I stormed out of the apartment into the streets and cried in the rain. I remember the subdued lighting, also so very gorgeous like he was - or is I don't know another thing I don't know I wonder how he is does he still like those candles like back then, the ones that were burning on that day? Maybe I hope he does I have one in my apartment but I hid it from Junhee, he can't know he will just take it all away. I want to keep it. I need it.

 

Junhee will just come in with his words and logic and all and I hate him because he's right but he shouldn't and it's only words like on that day when we threw empty words at each other full of anger hurt and maybe jealousy I guess I'm never going to know what it felt like for him back then, I know what I should've said instead but calling him now and telling him this would just be fucked up and hurt me more, but would it really in the end? Maybe we could talk it out I don't know I hated him and myself, I think I did...I must have.

 

Disconnected from his chaotic thoughts, Donghun continued so sing his song perfectly; beautiful and strong notes sounding all throughout the studio. 

 

"When you hurt under the surface

Like troubled water running cold 

Well, time can heal but this won't"

 

The picture in his head gets more apparent with every word he's singing, it's almost too painful to continue—but he has to, there's no other choice. 

 

Yes, maybe I shouldn't have told them about the stress this situation caused me I feel like I'm not worth all the trouble some days, you know, I even dragged down one of the purest people I know with my constant insecurities and fears; I'm so pathetic. Maybe I really should just keep to myself from now on and keep it all in til I'm old and grey and just don't care anymore then nobody else would care or even know and I could live alone with my shame and I should also maybe stay on my own because then I won't keep dragging people into my toxicity and tie them down and restrain them like I did with him...he really didn't deserve to be caught up in my twisted game of absolute fuckery and chaos what was I even thinking? Like what the fuck honestly I deserve this don't I? Because at least when I hate myself like this I won't give in to other people and destroy their life too, I should just keep it all concealed and live with it because even time can't make this thing right nobody can and it's my own damn fault for being too pushy for being too cold and for being so annoying all the time it's like back in elementary school when those kids didn't want me to play with them because he's no-fun Donghun who's always annoying I wonder what those kids are doing right now are they successful like he was and still is maybe I still don't know he doesn't even look in my general direction ever who am I, thinking about him like this what's wrong with me? I hate it why can't I just be normal and not fuck up shit for once in my life? That'd be nice for once but I'll always be me with all these things under the surface and I'll keep dragging people down 'cause it's what I do best anyways. 

 

Then, the song picks up slightly—the first chorus starts after a short pause on Donghun's part. 

 

"So, before you go

Was there something I could've said to make your heart beat better?

If only I'd have known you had a storm to weather"

 

Like any other song of his, this one has a beautiful melody, one that has that distinct 'Donghun flair' as he will read on the internet in the next few days. His fans always say only he himself can sing his songs like they should be sung because apparently, he has that special 'something', whatever that means. He can't see it. 

 

However, the thoughts inside his head don't stop racing at all. 

 

I still remember it how I wanted to reach out and talk to him after I got back from outside soaked to the bones out of tears to cry now that I think about it the puddles on the ground remind me of a raging ocean, maybe that's what it felt like in my heart I didn't have a clear head at the time and didn't know what I was doing honestly not that that changed over time because I'm still not really thinking to be honest I feel like I'm just here and living but not really feeling much does that make sense? I don't know but I remember the cold outside and the cold I felt in his voice that day it's when I noticed he was crying too maybe his mind was also like a raging ocean. I don't know. I'd have liked to but I didn't so it's whatever I just wonder if I had said things differently it would've ended another way because I wasn't really speaking clearly and making sense and maybe he misunderstood or whatever I don't care but I do so much now like I should've back then but they only told me two weeks later what he was going through and they didn't even think about telling me! To me they could've rotten in hell I wouldn't have cared I was just numb at the time I didn't care about anything did I? If only I had known… but it's the past now, it's done. forever.

 

"So, before you go

Was there something I could've said to make it all stop hurting?

It kills me how your mind can make you feel so worthless"

 

Unnoticed by the audience in the soft lighting, Donghun's eyes gradually start to water. He wants to wipe his eyes, but then the audience would know. He can't. 

 

I wonder if I had said how much it scares me that he means so much to me would it all have ended differently? Maybe most likely—no it most definitely would have he always complained about me making him feel not loved and being cold and I was he was right he always was but I was selfish and didn't care but look where that got me, bawling my eyes out at the mere thought of being close to any other person at any point in time I really just screwed over myself didn't I? Now I just feel worthless but that's also what he had told me, that he always resorted to telling him that because of me; but I was indifferent back then I was a total fool for not seeing his worth and cherishing him every second we spent together so was it really worth it in the end? No, not for me it definitely wasn't and I ruined him as well now he probably won't ever see how much he's worth I totally shattered his feelings and made him feel worthless maybe it was better in the end I still don't know it kills me inside that I'm responsible for screwing over his life and be the reason for those feelings, what did I do?

 

"So, before you go"

 

Sometimes I wish I'd have had the guts to speak up that day so he wouldn't have left that's probably the thing I regret most is not fighting because that gives him more reason to just hate me now. I'd be surprised if he doesn't. I feel like he should've let the world know what a terrible person I really am making him feel like this and then just basically admitting to it because I'm too much of a coward to fight for him what a joke I really am the worst aren't I? I wonder if there is someone in some universe out there who could fix this I probably don’t deserve it but it's what he does because I'm the one who's fucked up not him.

 

Donghun pauses again, the backing track continues, and the audience cheers and claps. The first chorus is done. 

 

Yet, Donghun still doesn't open his eyes, he remains sitting there on the chair, perfect posture.

 

The lighting changes slowly, gradually shifting from the yellow-orange colour to a warm reddish hue. 

 

Then, he transitions into the second verse seamlessly, singing just as beautiful as before.

 

"Was never the right time whenever you called

Went little by little by little until there was nothing at all"

 

Fitting the red lighting, Donghun's thoughts turn more violent.

 

What the hell was I thinking back then huh? How in the world did I think it was okay to always brush him off just like that because 'my job is more important' because 'I need to finish this recording I'll call you back' because 'I can't talk right now I have this and that to do' was he really that much of a joke to me? What the fuck was I thinking playing with his emotions like this without any justifiable reason to do so I'm such a sick and twisted person I don't deserve any forgiveness from anybody I really don't I should just go away and not bother anybody maybe I can write a song or two about loneliness because that's all what I deserve at this point really I'm a total joke of a human being. 

 

It's no surprise he gave up on calling me at all after a few times I get it actually I mean who would try with somebody who doesn't show they care anyways because like what's the point anyways and it wasn't gonna change anyways so he can understand that maybe I'm not so wrong in thinking I deserve all the injuries I had over the past two years that way I at least was punished somehow perhaps I should have helped it along a little too. No I shouldn't have that's too low even for me I shouldn't do something like that to myself, that's wrong.

 

To the audience, it really looks like Donghun is just so into the song that he tunes out anything else. And they're somewhat right, but only considering he is somewhere else, lost in his mind. This feels like an out-of-body experience to him. 

 

"Our ever moment, I start to replay

But all I can think about is seeing that look on your face"

 

The lighting changes again, a slight tint of blue gets added. It's almost like Donghun is wearing his emotions on his sleeve. It seems like he really just jot down his feelings straight on the paper if the lighting crew has such an easy time with it. 

 

Did I really write those lyrics just like that I don't think I should've done that it's so direct and just right there why did I do that? What was I thinking? I probably wasn't thinking anything at all because that's all I did at the time I wouldn't be surprised if I'm the laughing stock of the internet by tomorrow because of this this is so ridiculous it's just like back then I'm going to have to look at the faces of people with disappointment written all over their face and just like back then I probably won't do anything about it because what's the point now maybe I should just fuck up on purpose so I don't have to show my face in public anymore I don't wanna feel like this all I can think about is the look of disappointment. It's just there never-changing and set in stone it will never go away it's terrible what am I supposed to do? I don't know it anymore I'm lost. I feel like crying.

 

"When you hurt under the surface

Like troubled water running cold

Well, time can heal but this won't"

 

Why did it have to become like this? I wonder still but what's done is done and can't be changed I have to live with it and maybe come to terms with whatever life is going to throw at me I should keep a few people close in case it gets too much on some days but I feel like I should suffer for a bit, I deserve it. I think nobody would disagree with me anyways not that I would ask anybody they would just lie to me because that's what they all do except him he never did I miss him so much this hurts. What should I do? I need guidance somebody please help me.

 

Donghun's thoughts just seem endless now, looping one after another, not letting him escape from the past and the fears he buried deep inside long ago. It's like he reopened his own personal hell again. 

 

At the same time, the audience is just excited for the second chorus so they can listen to Donghun's amazing vocals again.

 

Whispers like 'He's such a talented singer,' and 'The raspiness of his voice at certain parts is just so good! I can literally feel the emotion, it's astonishing!' can be heard throughout the audience. The fans are looking at their idol, ready to join in with whatever lyrics they could remember. 

 

"So, before you go

Was there something I could've said to make your heart beat better?

If only I had known you had a storm to weather

So, before you go

Was there something I could've said to make it all stop hurting?

It kills me how your mind could make you feel so worthless

So, before you go"

 

The fans sang along beautifully, their combined voices masking the little mistakes here and there. If Donghun were present in this moment, he would have appreciated it and thanked his fans on his SNS later on. But he isn't. 

 

He's still caught up in his thoughts, trying to not break down on stage for all of South Korea to see. 

 

Junhee would hate him. 

 

Yuchan hating him is enough.

 

Yuchan. 

 

Just thinking about that name hurts Donghun deeply. It has gotten worse. 

 

Nevertheless, he has to continue this song! He's already completed the second chorus, it's only a little bit to go, and then he can leave. Finally.

 

"Would we be better off my now

If I'da let my walls come down"

 

Contrary to Donghun's inner world, the lighting got brighter, instilling the possibility of hope and maybe a change for the better. The singer's thoughts, however, did no such thing. 

 

It's funny how different my life could be had I chosen to do the right thing but I'm a fuck-up so I don't ever choose the right thing I only do things that damage me even more because that's all I deserve and it's okay because had I fought for Yuchan back then, I'd've had to tell him about my fears and insecurities I would've had to be mature but I was a child and not the adult I was supposed to be Yuchan's so much younger than me but I felt threatened by him he just seemed to have it all figured out—he was popular and in demand and I feared being left behind because that would have happened anyway at least I think that happened all the time anyways me falling by the wayside and being alone and Yuchan would've probably seen it too that I'm not worth keeping because all I can do is drag him down and hinder after all my life being different yeah right of course what a joke. I can't believe it that's my fate being alone and left behind no matter what I do there will be other ones who are better than me because they aren't me and that's all they need I think I did the best thing for the both of us maybe probably most likely not really did I? I don't know. I hope.

Yuchan is too good for me anyways what good could've me opening up brought? Nothing because there is nothing good to have with me it's only the total fucked up reality of a wreck of a human being. Honestly what's the point thinking about this anyways I hate this I wanna leave please help somebody.

 

"Maybe I guess we'll never know

You know, you know"

 

Right, that's the reality of it all isn't it? No I'll never get a second chance let alone deserve one for the things I've done who would be so dumb and give me one? That's literally ridiculous maybe singing this song wasn't so bad after all because maybe I can come to terms with the fact that both me Yuchan and everybody else that was around knows that this is what it amounts to me being fucked up not getting closure probably deserved and Yuchan finally being freed from me, which is good because he might get to the point he doesn't feel worthless anymore but maybe I'd just like to see him for one last time so I can engrave his face in my memory as one of the treasures lost had but not deserving of and getting changed for the better long term but what good does it do? I don't see it there's nobody else in reality because what am I supposed to do with someone else? It'll just end up the same because I learned but it's not Yuchan so what's the point anyways? Nothing has any meaning but it does and it hurts so what am I supposed to do now? I can't grow past it without him but I can't ask him he is unreachable and I'll remain in the same place throwing everything for a loop always and everything goes back to the past. I can't let go of this forever and never-changing like the day from two years ago is never leaving not going always there it's hell. Go away I beg you.

 

For the last and final chorus, the lighting changes yet again. This time, to a bright and pure white with a little yellow to take the edge off. The stage director said it's supposed to symbolise a positive outlook in the end and finally getting past that hurdle. It's a beautiful message. 

 

"Before you go

Was there something I could've said to make your heart beat better?

If only I'd have known you had a storm to weather

So, before you go

Was there something I could've said to make it all stop hurting?

It kills me how your mind could make you feel so worthless

So, before you go"

 

As soon as the last chord died out, the audience went crazy. The screams were so loud, they startled Donghun even though he's wearing his in-ears right now. 

 

His fans literally pulled him from his thoughts with their screams. 

 

He's startled and frozen in place simultaneously. How does one react in this situation, eyes full of tears but wide open, mouth hanging open in disbelief, caught somewhere between sitting down and standing up? It's awkward, that what he feels like currently. 

 

'Oh, wow! What an emotionally charged performance! Give it up for Lee Donghun, everyone!' one of the hosts exclaims. As a result, the cheers got even louder and unbelievable. He still can't believe it. 

 

Are people really cheering for me like this? A person like me? Wow, unbelievable! 

 

Extremely thankful for this moment, Donghun bows deeply. Deeper than necessary. Maybe people will talk about it, but he doesn't care right now, he's just extremely thankful at this very moment. 

 

He's really about to start crying right here, he actually is. 

 

However, before that can happen, the light on his stage shuts off, and the hosts resume the show. 

 

He's done it. He got through this.

 

Now, all he wants is to run backstage and cry his eyes out for the remainder of the night. And he's going to do just that.

 

God bless!

 

So he just storms off towards the dressing room he is situated in. 

 

After practically slamming the door closed, he throws himself onto the sofa and starts bawling his eyes out. Honestly, it just hurts so much and combined with the overwhelming support of the audience just now sent him over the edge. 

 

In the back of his mind, Donghun's still aware he should be looking for Junhee right now and get ready to leave, but he could care less at the moment. 

 

Several minutes pass in silence, just Donghun curled up on the sofa, slowly beginning to calm down. The full-on sobs have turned into light sniffles here and there. 

 

When he finally calmed down, he sits up slowly and wipes at his eyes with the sleeves of the expensive button-down he's wearing. His make-up leaves ugly smudges on the soft fabric—he doesn't care. He sighs heavily. 

 

'God, I'm so tired I just want today to be over, please,' he mumbles, his head leaning back on the sofa, he covers his eyes. 

 

Slowly, his arm slides down his face, it hits the leather of the sofa with an audible smack. He sighs again. 

 

Then, after two years, he whispers the name of the person he misses the most, subconsciously or not. 

 

'Yuchan...,' he trails off, 'I miss you so much, l-.' He stops, not daring to finish that one word—not after all Donghun had caused for the younger, he wasn't worthy of it, and he never will be ever again, ever.

 

Then, the next few minutes feel like hours to Donghun. He's not sure what he's feeling right now, what this numbness all over his body means. Is he supposed to feel like this? He doesn't know. Maybe he should look for Junhee and ask him? Yeah, that would be a good idea, Junhee can help, he's smart. 

 

'Not something I can say about myself. '

 

However, to look for him, he'd have to get up and move. He's not sure if he has the energy needed to do that right now. That seems to be his issue nowadays, no motivation and no drive to accomplish anything. 

 

'Who am I even doing this for at this point anyway?' he says to nobody in particular. Nobody answers. He expected that. Again a sigh. 

 

'Alright, I'll go and get him so we can finally leave, I don't want to be here any longer than necessary anyway.' He moves silently, gathering his belongings quickly and efficiently. 

 

As he's standing by the door, he turns and looks back at the room for the last time. It's a textbook example of glitter and glamour, yet Donghun can't feel the happiness he is supposed to feel. How could he, in the end, he has nobody he could be happy with regardless. 

 

It all boils down to it, always. Feeling like not having anybody; that's what Donghun has felt for the past two years daily. 

 

Suddenly, there's a knock on the door, and it makes him jump. 

 

'Huh? Who could that possibly be? I'm not expecting anyone,' he wonders. 'Did Junhee forget to tell me something again?'

 

Intrigued, he opens the door. 

 

'Hello, how can I hel-,' he starts, but the words die out in his throat instantly. All of a sudden, his eyes widen comically, his mouth goes dry, he chokes on air, and he can't breathe anymore.

 

'Hi, I wanted to ask if you have time right now,' the newcomer speaks tentatively.

 

Meanwhile, Donghun's mind fails to process what's happening. 'Am I dreaming right now?' he asks, voice rough and strained, 'there's no way this is real.' 

 

The person outside the door only smiles, eyes slightly disappearing into crescent shapes. 

In response, Donghun instantly starts to tear up and reluctantly reaches out with one hand. His hand comes to rest on the person's cheek softly, seemingly scared that his mere touch would burn them.

 

'Yuchan..., ' the name is whispered with so much emotion, it's hard to understand clearly. 

 

The smile Donghun receives in return has him throwing caution in the wind, and he proceeds to throw himself at him. 

 

Donghun starts crying for the second time that day.