It wasn’t like Donghyuck noticed it at once. Actually, not even when he found out he was that surprised. For a while he had started feeling something weird, something like an emptiness in his stomach that said that something was different, something was not normal. But he let it pass as just a bad feeling in a bad day. Except that the feeling remained, constant and loud until everything started to make sense.
Donghyuck and Mark were together for three years. They met in a beginning of semester party. Mark was in his 3rd semester of journalism e Hyuck on his 2nd of biology. It was kind of a crazy connection they had. They spotted each other across a table and it was like the air got heavy, their vision turning blurry and everything got hot and cold at the same time. Mark quickly looked down, kinda shy and perhaps kinda taken away by the sudden feelings and Donghyuck was the one who moved forward and said casually “- Hi. Donghyuck. Biology. Single. You?” and Mark laughed e answered. When he said that he was also single, Hyuck might of might not have said thank you to a superior entity that he did not really believed. Both of them talked during the party and at some point, when they were laughing together, Mark carefully placed his hand on Donghyuck’s face and kissed him slowly, all lazy and jolly. The rest going on from that was easy.
After going on a few random and spontaneous dates during six months, Mark asked Donghyuck if he wanted to date for real, to have a serious relationship. Hyuck smiled and said yes, of course he wanted and Mark smiled, smiled and smiled, beautiful like the prettiest star in the sky. Seven months later they were living together.
In some days, Donghyuck woke up a little earlier than Mark and watched his serene face sleeping. The curve of his lips, the design of his eyebrows, how the sunlight hit his cheekbones so deliciously and created the prettiest colors and shadows. And then Donghyuck would think how he was happy, how he was lucky to be with that man, with that amazing human being.
The next few years passed quickly and easily. They had to deal with stress from ending course work and graduations, some abusive internships and chaotic first jobs, but now everything was calm like a lake during a windless day. Donghyuck and Mark were to each other the longest relationship they ever had and when some of their friends said that, both of them would laugh and say “- We also get kinda surprised with that. I think our madness goes well together and balance everything out.” and everybody would laugh and adore their love.
Their relationship wasn’t fake or just pretend, it actually worked very well. It constantly felt like they were back on those early days, in that party three years before where they met and kinda fell in love at first sight. The easy days, the sneaky smiles to each other, the dazzled eyes. Their relationship was honestly some kind of dream even to themselves. Until one day Hyuck noticed that he couldn't notice those feelings anymore. He lost them at some moment and didn’t really know what happened. Then he started to ask himself why. He still loved Mark. He still loves Mark. And he also loves him back. So what’s wrong? It doesn’t make sense. And that emptiness in his stomach felt like was doing cartwheels.
One day, Hyuck woke up a little early and while watching Mark, heard his name coming out slightly muffled from Mark’s mouth. It was such a low whisper that it almost seemed like another name. Donghyuck smiled full of love but the cold feeling in him seemed to get a little heavier.
A few weeks later, Hyuck was wrapped in Mark on the sofa after coming back from work, talking to each other about whatever was on TV, when he noticed that his boyfriend’s smell was slightly different. It was still his heavy and warm honey scent but it had something else in between. A little hint of cinnamon? Donghyuck wasn’t sure but it was something different. He didn’t say anything but asked himself if Mark had changed any perfume or shampoo recently. Maybe it was one of his office friends perfume?
Nights later, when they both were in bed, breathing heavily and fogging the windows, Hyuck noticed how Mark seemed almost distracted, almost not really there in the moment they were sharing. He took his hands away from Mark’s back to hold his face and look at him, directly and deeply, and found an unusual emptiness that was quickly replaced when Mark focused on his face. He smiled weakly and loving like nothing was different - and really? was something different? Hyuck wasn’t sure - and lowered his face to kiss Donghyuck. Everything was the same, his kiss was still the same: slow, lazy and jolly. But there was something else. Something distant, not normal. But despite that, Hyuck didn’t want to keep focusing on it and instead shifted his focus to Mark’s mouth that was slipping from his own to his neck. The bedroom was still hot and heavy for a quite a while but the cold feeling in Donghyuck stomach got bigger once more.
One thursday, Donghyuck could leave his job at the lab earlier and decided to make a surprise to Mark. He went to a flower shop and got a single sunflower. He also went to a bakery and got assorted cookies that they loved to eat sometimes. When he was getting close to Mark’s office, he saw him getting into a cab with a coworker - Yukhei was his name? Hyuck was almost sure it was. For some reason Donghyuck stayed still, not moving forward to meet them. When he saw the other man lowering his face to kiss Mark, Hyuck almost didn’t feel anything. When he saw Mark smiling lazilly and jolly back at him, - with one hand holding his face - Donghyuck almost didn’t notice how the cold feeling in his stomach was finally released, climbing all the way up to his chest. When the taxi left and turned away a few streets later, Hyuck was already walking back to the subway where he could go back home.
When he arrived at his apartment, he put the sunflower in a glass with water over the counter. He arranged the assorted cookies on a plate and put it in front of the flower. Donghyuck then went to shower, put on his pajamas and sat on the sofa. Only then he started thinking how everything made sense. How the name Mark whispered in this sleep a few months earlier was actually someone else's. Yukhei and Hyuck could sound quite similar when muttered by a sleeping person, right? How the different smell blending recently with Mark's own scent actually belonged to a specific person. How the distracted touches, the kisses without purpose, the empty eyes even when they were making love - everything made sense now.
There wasn’t a thing in Donghyuck that made him want to cry. We wasn’t shocked. He wasn’t angry or sad. Actually, he felt almost happy to finally understand and get rid of that cold that started living in him so many months before. Now that everything was clear, Hyuck stood up from the sofa and went to his bed where he had a nice and comfortable sleep like he didn’t have in quite a while. He woke up a few hours later when he heard Mark arriving home and walking slowly to their bedroom. He felt his body on the bed, his hand caressing his hair and the soft kiss he placed on his temple. Donghyuck smiled a little, slightly awake and slightly sleeping and heard Mark saying “- Thank you for the flower and the cookies. I love you sunshine.” and then, still smiling, he went back to sleep.
It took a while but Donghyuck slowly planned it all. He started by looking for a new apartment - he really wanted a balcony to have a bunch of plants. In the meanwhile, Hyuck was trying to understand if his complete lack of reaction to the fact that he was being cheated on was normal. If he stopped loving Mark a long time before he started feeling something was off or if it happened when he saw Yukhei kissing him inside that car.
While he was figuring these things out, Donghyuck pretended all was well as always. But now he could spot clearly Yukhei smell in Mark and thought that he too, could probably fall in love with that perfume. Some days, when watching him sleep, Hyuck could capture his name and the coworker’s name leaving Mark’s mouth in whispers. On other days, while Mark kissed his mouth and all of his body while saying that he loved him, Hyuck would think that it felt like he was kissing Yukhei too. When he touched Mark, he felt like he was touching the ghost of Yukhei touches on his skin. When he hugged Hyuck before sleeping, he would think how the other man in Mark’s life probably had all someone could look into someone else. How Yukhei was probably just as beautiful up close as he was from far away. How he was probably perfect. Just like Mark.
On some days, Donghyuck would be caught by surprise by the crushing feelings of living a lie. He would shiver and feel like he couldn’t breath when he thought about what he was doing - like he was the one getting into someone else’s relationship and not the other way around. He felt dirty, empty and guilty. And then he would try to convince himself that he was not the one who cheated, not the one who went looking for another body and then he slowly got himself calm. He wasn’t the wrong one here. He didn’t do anything to deserve this and there was nothing he could have done to prevent it from happening. It wasn’t his fault. In reality he had nothing at all to feel guilty about.
It was a friday when he got dressed for work and received a loving kiss on his forehead from Mark that always left a little earlier than him. Then, he called the lab and said he wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t go to work today. After being exempt, Donghyuck started to pack his things. He cleaned the apartment completely, any trace that he lived there disappearing like he was never there actually. And then he put a letter on the counter, beside a sunflower and some assorted cookies. Donghyuck hoped Mark would feel as empty and cold as the apartment was feeling now, just like the feeling that lived in him for so many months before. He hoped Mark would look at the flower and the cookies and feel corrupted by guilty. He hoped he could never again look at a sunflower without feeling bad. He hoped he could never eat the assorted cookies from the bakery without feeling awful. And then Donghyuck called a cab and went to his new house that had a balcony full of plants and a big window facing the sun.