The music stops when Doyoung walks in. Or does it? Everyone still seems to be dancing, so Yuta’s not quite sure. Between the champagne that’s starting to cloud his thoughts and the drum solo going on in his chest, it’s really hard to tell.
He sees Doyoung take a deep breath, head turning as his eyes roam the crowd, lips slowly stretching into a small smile as he takes in the familiar faces in the room.
Yuta watches it all from his seat in the corner, feeling like he’s seventeen again. It's not helping that the gym doesn't seem to have changed one bit over the last ten years (just got a little glossier maybe), or that the speakers overhead are blasting Mirrors at full volume. Or that the theme of the reunion is literally “Back to 2011”.
2011. There's a slight sepia tint to Yuta's memories from that year — summer sun on his back as he pedaled down the sloping tree-lined concrete road near Doyoung's block; wind in his hair and Doyoung’s hand in his, screaming ‘this is the best day of my life!’ to the top of his lungs before jumping from a waterfall;
Moonlight on his face — scratchy prom suit rubbing against his skin, Doyoung's fingers playing with the ends of his hair at the back of his neck as music filtered out of the thin crack underneath the gym's closed doors and into the winding staircase on its side, the concrete step digging into Yuta's back.
🎶 'Cause I don't wanna lose you now, I'm looking right at the other half of me—
Doyoung had hummed along to the song against Yuta's lips then, and Yuta had felt the melody deep in his throat and underneath his skin. They’d both giggled, whether from the spiked melon-flavored punch or the thrill of a first kiss (the first kiss that mattered, at least) — Yuta doesn't remember. Probably both.
Now Doyoung stops as their eyes meet from across the room, his smile stretching into a full-on grin as he starts to make his way over. Yuta realizes (guesses, hopes) that he’s the one Doyoung has been looking for when he came in.
Yuta crosses his legs and leans back against his seat, the perfect cool and calm facade. But deep inside his heart is throwing a tantrum, screaming 'that one!' and pointing to the gummy smile heading his way. 'That one,’ it rattles Yuta’s rib cage. ‘I want that.'
"Hey," Doyoung says in greeting once he arrives at Yuta's table. "There you are."
There you are, Yuta's mind echoes.
The thing is, he would like to believe that he hasn’t been pining for Doyoung for the last ten years since they graduated from high school. That would just be sad. Besides, he's dated other people since. Lots of other people. He'd kissed boys and girls without thinking of Doyoung, jumped into cliffside pools (but never again from a waterfall) without remembering how Doyoung’s hand felt in his, managed to listen and sing along to Justin Timberlake without being reminded of his prom night and Doyoung's voice.
This is not even the first time he's seeing Doyoung in ten years — they've occasionally bumped into each other on holidays when they both happened to be home from college back then. He saw him two years ago at Jaehyun's wedding. They follow each other on Instagram, for god's sake.
It's not that grand of a reunion, contrary to what the banner hanging on the far wall says.
But there's something strangely nostalgic (romantic, poetic) about this sight — Doyoung walking over to him with a bright smile, neatly styled dark hair and the first two buttons of his navy blue shirt casually undone. Back to the place where they shared a good amount of their lives together, with the soundtrack of an overplayed decade-old pop song in the background, all the years between the two of them seem to melt away.
Seventeen, and then twenty-seven.
Ten years is a long time but in that moment it seems to mean nothing at all. Yuta feels like he’s just another high school kid with his stupid little crush again.
There you are.
“Here I am,” Yuta says with what he hopes is a casual smile as he throws his arms wide. Doyoung leans into it and envelopes him in a hug that still smells like sandalwood with a faint rosy hint beneath (— that still smells like first love, a small part of him thinks).
“Oh wow,” Doyoung exclaims as he pulls away, looking up at the ceiling. “I haven’t heard this song in years.”
Yuta follows his gaze as if the music is a tangible thing floating up above them.
🎶 It was easy coming back here to you once I figured it out—
“Me too,” Yuta says, bobbing his head to the final notes of the chorus, then finally singing along, unable to resist. “You were right here all along,” he mouths to Doyoung, and Doyoung stares at him for a few seconds before dissolving into a belly laugh.
It turns out the music hasn’t stopped after all.
When they were thirteen, Yuta brought Doyoung a souvenir from his summer vacation. It was a cheap silly thing, really — a woven bracelet in alternating threads of different shades of blue with an oval-shaped plastic thing in the center where you can add a personalized name engraving. His family had already been driving back, but Yuta saw the souvenir stall by the side of the road and realized he forgot to bring back anything for his friends at home so he’d asked his mother to stop.
Doyoung wasn’t the only one that he’d given a bracelet to, but he was the only one who truly seemed happy to receive it. He wore it everyday to school, no matter how off it looked along with the neatly ironed white shirt and beige vest of their uniform.
At the end of seventh grade, he and Yuta had a fight — some superficial thing that Yuta can’t even remember now. What he does remember is how it ended — with Yuta being so pissed off that he pulled the bracelet off Doyoung’s wrist, snapping the plastic right down the middle of Doyoung’s engraved name. Yuta had walked out of their classroom then, but not before tossing the broken bracelet to the trash.
He went back for it, though, after everyone else went home for the day, feeling bad for the dramatics and for taking back and breaking his own gift. What asshole does that? He disgustingly rummaged through the bin and overturned its whole content, but the bracelet was no longer there.
For years Yuta thought it was gone, taken out along with the other trash from that morning — until the summer before high school when he asked Doyoung to bike with him through town and he saw it again, or the two broken pieces of it, hanging by a makeshift keychain on Doyoung’s bike.
He’d been too shy to bring it up, and they never really talked about the fight again. But Yuta kept that memory in a locked box deep in the corners of his brain.
He’d learn a lot of things from Doyoung throughout the years of their friendship — mundane stuff like how to crack an egg or how to do first-aid on a skinned knee, but deep stuff too. How to love, for example.
This incident, though, was Yuta’s first lesson. A cliche that he’d seen on TV too many times and heard from his mother for far more — when something’s important to you, you just don’t let it go.
That's probably why, Yuta thinks to himself now as he stares at Doyoung. He may not have been pining for him all these years, but maybe… maybe he hasn’t quite learned to let go either.
“You look good,” Yuta says, an understatement. Doyoung scrunches his nose. “I just developed my style, is all,” he says quietly, blush creeping up his cheeks.
Yuta finds it endearing, that he can still fluster him like that even while his own heart feels like it’s begging to be let out of its cage in his chest.
“Well, that too,” he says. “But I mean, you…” he gestures vaguely at the air around Doyoung. “...look good. You always do.”
Doyoung looks up and meets his eyes then. "What's with you?" he asks but not unkindly, an amused smirk playing on his lips.
Yuta just shakes his head. "What, I can't say nice things about you now?"
"I missed you," Doyoung says. Yuta blinks, wondering if he missed half a conversation — because where did that come from? But Doyoung is just staring at him intently. He's not smirking anymore, but Yuta thinks he can still detect amusement in his eyes. They seem to be playing a game, although what kind and for what prize, Yuta doesn't know yet.
"What's with you?" he throws the question back to Doyoung. Doyoung lets out a laugh that ends in a drawn out sigh. "I don't know, I just feel… an overwhelming sense of nostalgia right now. Aren't you gonna say you missed me too?" he challenges.
"I would think that goes without saying, Dons."
Doyoung smiles. "Yuta, listen. I just— well, it's been ten years and I figure enough time has passed. So like, I don't know.
Do you wanna talk about that kiss?"
It was the first day back to school after Christmas break. The day Yuta first fell in love with Doyoung, that is.
There was nothing too special about the moment, really. They just had a short break in between classes because their Physics teacher called in sick, and most of the class decided to go out into the quad and… bask in the sun or something. A few of their classmates were throwing a volleyball around, while some were simply lying on the grass chatting or reading a book. Yuta found himself sitting on a bench beside Doyoung.
A strong wind passed them by, and Doyoung pulled the sleeves of his sweater further down to cover his hands. His arms were crossed in his chest, and his short hair was dancing in the wind as he puffed his cheeks out in an exhale.
Yuta looked at him and felt a fog take over his brain.
"What?" Doyoung asked self-consciously when he caught him staring.
Yuta smiled, tongue in cheek as he averted his gaze and looked up at the sky. "You look good."
He heard Doyoung let out a little laugh. "I just got a haircut, is all," he said softly.
Yuta looked at him again. "Hmm, I guess. But it's not that. There's something different."
Doyoung's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "What is it?"
"Nothing, it's not about you," Yuta waved him off.
"I'm pretty sure I was the topic of this conversation just a few seconds ago," Doyoung muttered under his breath.
Yuta laughed. It's just that I'm in love with you, he was thinking then. But he didn't quite know how to say it yet.
“Kiss me, then.”
There was a literal glint of challenge in Doyoung’s eyes. Or maybe it was from the light of the full moon. Or the lone fluorescent above the stairs. Whatever it was, it was making it hard for Yuta to concentrate. He scoffed and focused his gaze on the school grounds beyond them instead. “I’m not gonna do that.”
He felt the sudden weight of Doyoung’s head on his shoulder. “Chicken.”
“Hey!” Yuta exclaimed, shrugging him off. “Chicken is yummy.”
Doyoung raised his head to look at him. “You’re yummy.”
Yuta burst out laughing. “God, how much did you drink?” he asked, shaking his head and laughing again as Doyoung jutted out his bottom lip like a baby. “I’m not drunk,” he said without a quiver in his voice. Yuta raised an eyebrow anyway.
“I’m nooot,” Doyoung insisted, leaning forward and breathing right into Yuta’s face. His breath smelled too fruity, but there was definitely a hint of vodka underneath. Yuta scrunched his nose and leaned away. “Ugh, keep putting your face that close to mine and I’m really gonna—”
“Gonna what?” Doyoung cut him off, leaning even closer that his gummy smile was just a blur in Yuta’s sight. Yuta instinctively moved backwards, his back meeting the concrete step behind him. “Why are you so scared of kissing me, Yuta?” Doyoung teased.
Well, that did it. Yuta hated being called scared of anything, and from the amused smirk on Doyoung’s face, he looked like he knew this all too well. Yuta surged forward, hands coming to rest on Doyoung’s waist.
“Mmph,” Doyoung managed to let out as their lips clashed together. Sorry was at the tip of Yuta’s tongue as he pulled back slightly but before he could say anything Doyoung was leaning forward again, and what’s happening was finally clicking in his brain.
He was kissing Doyoung. Doyoung was kissing him. Friends didn’t do that. Did they?
How did this all happen again? They had been talking about high school ending and crossing off items from an imaginary list of cliche things that movies told them they Had to Experience before graduation. Doyoung admitted he’d never kissed anyone. Yuta said no way. Doyoung rolled his eyes and asked why don’t you believe me? And Yuta said — “Because… you’re Kim Doyoung. I just find it hard to believe no one has kissed you yet.”
“Kiss me, then.”
It came completely out of nowhere, but it was also such a Doyoung thing to say. Now Yuta didn’t know what to do with himself.
The night was getting cold, and he was all too aware of the scratchy fabric of his suit but Doyoung’s lips were so soft and his warm hand had moved into the back of Yuta’s neck. Yuta had the fleeting thought that he really wouldn’t mind staying like this forever. He faintly registered music starting to play inside the gym, its notes spilling outside and providing a cheesy soundtrack to their kiss.
Their kiss, which was still ongoing. Yuta was kissing Doyoung — had been for hours now. Or was it just a few seconds? Time had turned immaterial.
‘I don’t wanna lose you now,’ Doyoung suddenly hummed against his lips. Yuta couldn’t help but smile, then grin, and then he was giggling, until they really couldn’t kiss properly anymore and Doyoung joined him instead.
“God I’m sorry, I can’t help it,” Doyoung said in between laughs. “I’m physically incapable of not singing along when that song plays!”
Stupid song, Yuta thought then, but he was still laughing.
Mrs. Jung found them a minute later, shining a flashlight into their faces despite the well-functioning fluorescent light above them. “What are you two doing here?” she asked gruffly, a judgmental frown in her face.
Doyoung widened his eyes and Yuta bit his lip as they both stood and scrambled back inside the gym, slacks caked with dust from sitting on the concrete for too long.
Despite how it ended, it actually had been the perfect night. High school was shit for pretty much the whole four years but that night — that night was almost enough to make up for all of it.
Kiss? What kiss? Yuta wants to ask, but he won't be fooling anyone. There's only that one kiss, after all. There's only one kiss ever, if he's being honest with himself right now.
"Are you serious?" he asks Doyoung instead.
"So you remember?" Doyoung replies with another question. Yuta's mouth drops open. "Of course I do. I didn't think you remembered! You never said anything the next day."
Doyoung rolls his eyes but he's smiling as he does so. "I was embarrassed, and I didn't think it meant anything to you," he says it so casually, like it's not a big deal. Maybe it isn't, if they can go ten fucking years without ever mentioning it.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Doyoung asks him when he doesn't say anything for a while.
"I—" Yuta opens his mouth but no words come out.
"You know what?" Doyoung speaks up again. "It doesn't even matter. It's all in the past now."
"Really?" Yuta manages to say and Doyoung nods sincerely, probably misunderstanding what Yuta wanted it to mean. "Really. I just— I just thought of it when I heard Mirrors, it's—" Doyoung shakes his head. "It's stupid." He laughs a little, then sighs as he leans back against his seat. "For a moment there, I guess I felt like we're back to 2011. Guess they did a good job with the theme."
Doyoung is rambling. This makes Yuta smile for some reason. Maybe he's not the only one who's a little nervous tonight.
"What would you do? If we're really back to 2011?" Doyoung asks him, still in his stream of thoughts. Yuta thinks maybe he should say something, knowing that Doyoung probably won't shut up until he does so.
"I'd kiss you again," he blurts out. Doyoung's eyes widen and Yuta sees his own shocked face mirrored in them.
"Wha— wait, why do you look shocked?" Doyoung asks. "I should be shocked."
Yuta shakes his head, then laughs. "I guess I didn't think I'd actually say that. Like, I'm aware I thought of it but it shocked me that it passed through my mouth."
Now he's the one rambling.
"Well—" Doyoung starts, then gulps. "Kiss me, then." There's much less conviction when he says it this time, but the glint of challenge is still in his eyes.
Yuta leans forward, just as the opening notes of Mirrors start to play again. The playlist must have looped back now. Doyoung groans. Yuta laughs as he sings along. "What? You're the one who can't resist humming along to this song ten years ago!"
"I can't believe you still know all the lyrics," Doyoung mutters.
Yuta shrugs. He can’t believe it either. But it’s like that, he supposes. Seeing Doyoung again like this is a lot like that — like hearing an old song for the first time in years and finding that you still know the lyrics by heart.
“Some things just stay with you,” he says, a teasing lilt in his voice.
Yuta smiles as Doyoung pulls him by the hem of his shirt and leans in.