Jeno can still remember it so clearly. Renjun was skipping around in the school halls, looking so lost yet so excited, so hesitant yet so open. He can’t tell if it was the first time he saw the older boy, but he believes it was the first time he noticed him. And he just knew it. More than knowing, he felt it in his guts: Renjun needed him. And maybe that wasn’t the most correct way of reading such a feeling. Maybe, now he ponders, what it really meant was that they were bound to happen. He firmly believes the connection they share, that strange force that always draws them together in a way or another, can only be explained by something greater than the concepts the human brain can fully grasp, like being made up from dust of the same dying star.
But as magical and warm and promising as that thought sounds, it doesn’t mean their relationship is perfect. On the contrary, it is as flawed as the both of them.
As most people usually do when looking back on a particular period of their lives, Jeno is flooded with nostalgia when reminiscing the times him and Renjun were inseparable, when they trusted each other so deeply they would share most, if not all, their feelings and thoughts.
Having grown up having a friend like that, with whom he felt so safe and understood, just made it a million times more painful when they eventually grew apart.
Jeno still wonders how he survived the unbearable suffering that was grieving Renjun’s loss. It took some time for him to realize that’s what he was going through, as he didn’t know it was possible to grieve the loss of a living person. But looking it up online he learned a lot of people experience that, as many of us lose touch with people who once were really dear to us. But as comforting as knowing he wasn’t alone felt, the helplessness was still there.
Desperately longing for someone who was pretty much still in his life, yet felt so distant both emotionally and psychologically, even when they were physically right next to each other, was something that cost him so much energy to try to understand and overcome. He spent so many nights crying himself to sleep as the tightness in his heart wouldn’t let him rest so easily. And it took him even longer to realize that he needed to reach out.
He was so busy trying to discipline himself not to rely on anyone again, believing the right thing was to build it all up in his chest because it was his problem and therefore he should deal with it himself. And also, because he believed he deserved it. Not only the pain, but the loss. He convinced himself he wasn’t worthy of the other’s friendship. He came to that conclusion because he just needed a reason to justify their growing distance, and being in that mentioned state of nostalgia, he couldn’t help but romanticize their memories and the other boy, unable to recognize that they’ve both made mistakes, taking the blame all on himself.
Eventually, having supposedly figured out whose fault it was just wasn’t enough. He still needed… closure. But he didn’t even know that’s what he was craving when he finally decided to write down everything that he was feeling and thinking to send to the other boy, having been convinced by a Tumblr post that the best way to overcome what he was going through was by communicating it. It took him a lot of courage to press the “Send” button, as the idea of bothering Renjun with his misery made him feel incredibly guilty.
Renjun took his time to answer it, and the wait made Jeno rather anxious, as if he wasn’t suffering enough already, but he tried to be patient. It’s not like he didn’t dread opening the response when it popped up in his inbox.
He genuinely didn’t know what to expect, but he hoped the other boy wouldn’t be mad at him, even though he thought he should. He just wanted Renjun to be honest. So, taking a deep breath in a failed attempt to calm his racing heart, he opened it.
He was surprised, if not relieved, to be met with such understanding words. Jeno spent so much time busy, troubled and confused by his own feelings that he didn’t even think of the possibility of the other boy going through something similar.
Renjun helped him put so much into perspective. First, he eased Jeno’s mind by assuring him he wasn’t mad at him. Then, he acknowledged the odd state of their relationship, claiming that he too didn’t know exactly what to make of it, and that he too feared facing it. And he was kind enough to help Jeno realize that whatever went wrong between them, it wasn’t the younger’s fault, and he proved that by pointing out his own mistakes.
By the end of it, Jeno’s heart was so much lighter. It didn’t necessarily answer all of his questions, having his main concern still unresolved, but still.
Neither of them knew what was gonna happen to them or their relationship, all he knew was that he longed for the other, and reading from him that he didn’t believe they would ever be done with each other felt like both a comfort and a curse.
It’s a strange thing. Loving someone, having them love you back, but something still feeling out of place. It’s like living an open-ending story, yet it’s your life. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable and rather challenging, but Jeno is learning to grow through it.