PG-13 | EunHae | AU; Angst
Summary: In which maybe they want to try and go back to the start. But they don’t even try.
A/N: This is pointless; sorry, but I had to.
Donghae gives up.
It’s exhausting being with Hyukjae these days. He’s depressed as fuck one moment, and bubbly the next and Donghae just cannot deal with Hyukjae being more of a child than he is. And it’s exquisitely tiring the way Hyukjae doesn’t even attempt at anything at all anymore.
“Don’t wait up for me,” Hyukjae tells him as he puts on his shoes. “We’re pulling an all-nighter.”
Aren’t you forgetting something? Donghae wants to try again but Hyukjae responded with, ‘Oh, right, my toothbrush,’ when he asked him yesterday so, instead, he opts for a timid, half-assed, “Take care.”
Once the door is shut, Donghae throws the hardbound novel he’s trying to read on top of the things he has to accomplish at the sofa and frantically searches for anybody in his contacts list to have dinner with. He hates being alone, anyway.
Tiffany volunteers in a heartbeat. Ryeowook merely sends a vague emoticon which Donghae doesn’t even try to interpret. And Siwon apologizes for being a naturally busy person without time for his closest friend.
Donghae and Tiffany end up eating ice cream together, sweets overthrowing alcohol when they met up at the store. They lounge on Hyukjae’s couch, watching Wall-E on Hyukjae’s badass television.
“Hyukjae still being an ass?” Tiffany asks.
“He’s a lost cause, I think,” he answers sincerely. “He’s too far away now.” And by all means, he is right. Without his knowing, Hyukjae has drifted bit by bit from him. He doesn’t know why; he doesn’t really understand what in the world caused Hyukjae to be this way, but he woke up one day and Hyukjae seemingly doesn’t want him anymore.
Novels are reduced to sentences and sentences reduced to quick nods and shrugs. Amusing conversations turn to irrefutably annoying exchange of words, which seem strained, unnatural, like there was something wrong.
Donghae wishes he had an idea of what happened, what he did wrong – if any, just what it is that’s making Hyukjae like this. Because if there’s nothing, then, it would mean that Hyukjae just doesn’t want him anymore. And he doesn’t know how to deal with that. Yet.
She scoffs, “Shush, Donghae. I’m pretty sure you’d fall back into each other sooner than later. I mean, you’re practically married now, to be honest.”
“Besides,” Tiffany smiles devilishly, “You love him too much to actually hate him.”
Hyukjae is constantly tired.
The past few months have been rough and they have sucked the energy out of him, as well as his soul. On top of all his existential glitches, he feels something off. He can’t pinpoint exactly what it is. He just falls back to the darker side of life, into temporary depression. If he were a girl, he’d probably say he’s PMS-ing, but he’s a guy. And guys aren’t supposed to be this emotional.
But the worst part of being in this train wreck of emotions is that he feels inadequate sometimes – as if he isn’t capable of actually attaining anything, as if he doesn’t really deserve someone like Donghae. Other times, he feels jealous of Donghae, because of things he’s mostly embarrassed to admit even to himself. And, sometimes, he feels jealous of Donghae’s other friends, because he wants to be loved exclusively – but that’s not possible, or he wants to be loved the most, but this isn’t possible, too.
His issues are mostly personal, but he wants Donghae to understand, too. He wants to explain, somehow, but he doesn’t want to actually say the words such as, “My brain is kind of fucked up, Donghae. Hold on; ‘this too shall pass’.” So he keeps his quiet, watching the distance between him and Donghae start to increase exponentially.
Siwon tells him to shut up, stop being so insecure because you’re friends before anything else, Hyukjae; Donghae would understand if you tell him what’s wrong.
But what Siwon doesn’t understand is that he doesn’t know what’s wrong. And that his whole existence is a cycle of ups and downs and he isn’t capable of getting out of it.
“Get out of here and talk to him,” Siwon smiles and sends him out of his apartment.
“Good morning,” Hyukjae pretends to be apathetic – because he excels at it, and carelessly throws himself to his side of the bed.
Donghae is woken up, and he leaves the room wordlessly so he could go and prepare for his class.
For days, Donghae manages to be on Hyukjae’s good side, mostly because he keeps to himself.
Upon Ryeowook’s advice, Hyukjae stops thinking about it, pauses from being Donghae’s company, and exhausts himself to his limits. In time, tasks begin to dwindle down, stress dying along with them, and he’s finally starting to pull himself together.
“So,” Hyukjae tells Ryeowook over lunch. “What should I do now?”
Frankly, his friend is at a loss. He doesn’t know why Hyukjae is making such a big deal out of this – not speaking, because, obviously, nothing can break silence but words. Coincidentally, Hyukjae and Donghae are known to have so much to say all the time.
“What should I tell him?”
Hyukjae sighs, because his head is complicated; hence, everything that goes on inside is complicated, too. He refuses to say something in fear of Donghae not responding. He refuses to break the silence because he does want to clear things up but he doesn’t want to explain. He refuses to talk to Donghae because he doesn’t even know if Donghae noticed anything; but that’s just insulting his intelligence because he knows Donghae’s much more sensitive and intelligent than he asserts to be.
“Don’t make such a big deal out of this, Hyukjae.”
Donghae says a quick, indifferent greeting before grabbing the same hard-bound novel on the couch and displacing it. Hyukjae peers from the shield that was his phone, contemplating on breaking the silence, but decides otherwise.
“Are you okay?” Donghae asks without taking his eyes off his book.
Hyukjae hits a proverbial wall, or an imaginary one inside his head, and tries to return to his physical self because Donghae actually spoke to him. He thinks that his response will either make or break it. “I’m okay.”
And he waits for a response in any communicable form.
But it doesn’t come.
Donghae remains absorbed in the art and science of studying trifles he keeps filling his brain with and Hyukjae is left to feel like a total idiot, more annoyed at his life than ever before. And he allows his brain to think, for the first time, that maybe this is what falling out of love looks like.
But he loves Donghae; he really does.
So, he’s afraid that he loves him too much – or that he loves him in a wrong way. But is there even a wrong way of loving? And if there is, is he capable of loving someone incorrectly?
Donghae smiles, but only at the book he’s reading, and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with him, in contrast to Hyukjae’s constant self-infliction of figurative pain. But then again, what does he know about Donghae’s pain, anyway? It’s not like he has bothered to ask, at all. Or he did, but his useless brain forgot about it – which makes it even worse.
There is apparent progress in the following days, because Donghae actually sat down one night and apologized for whatever it is that makes Hyukjae drift away from him and asked him to come back, told him to not be sad anymore, that he was there whenever Hyukjae needs him.
Hyukjae notices the few changes – the carefulness, the subtle smothering.
And this makes him sad, too.
Almost everything does.
He wants to return to how they were before, when things were easy and there were no strings attached, no feelings woven into the equation. He wants to stop being sad; he wants to be happy again. And he tries.
God knows he tries so hard to be happy again.
And he is.
He is, for a few days that his brain chooses to forget the loss and the heartbreaks of the past two months. But, something or someone comes along and destroys the selective innocence that masks his pains.
He wallows in the pain for a few minutes, but re-emerges unscathed every time.
It is Donghae who reminds him, sometimes. And he doesn’t know how it pains Hyukjae to just be there talking to him when all he wants is to go to his room, lock the door behind him, turn the music on and turn up the volume, and maybe cry instantaneously, or read something so sad that it makes him cry in the process.
Donghae watches as Hyukjae takes the stage and falls a number of times before he stands up for the last time, bows, and exits the stage with a broken smile.
He doesn’t see Hyukjae for weeks.
Hyukjae moves around like a ghost in his life, gradually emptying their shared apartment of his things without actually seeing Donghae. Soon, his half of the closet is empty, as well as the vanity, and the shoe rack. Donghae watches until the apartment is half-empty.
And on the last day, a key is left atop his bed side table.
Donghae doesn’t feel anything for a moment and then he feels it all at once.
And there’s nothing he can do that would bring Hyukjae back; because he decisively left when they could’ve gone through it together. He has tried putting the pieces together, in order to arrive to a cohesive explanation that would coherently clarify why Hyukjae felt the way he did and why he left without a word.
Donghae wants to know, because he deserves it, at the very least. But he also isn’t so sure anymore.
He takes a look around and he feels as empty as the sad apartment; and he realizes for the first time that it doesn’t smell like Hyukjae anymore. And that the bed feels excruciatingly cold. And that the photos on the wall have been taken down, too, leaving outlines where they had previously been.
And this, Donghae concludes, is how he’s going to feel for a long while.
Scars are left where there had been wounds, after all.