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“I won’t go, don’t look for me.”

 

Hyukjae laughs, phone pressed against his ear. For a soldier that’s about to be discharged barely 12 hours from now, he could have waited. He could have not save a phone call the night before he leaves the army for good to call a person he has seen a couple of days ago, will see in two days even.

 

But it’s his last night as a soldier and Hyukjae can’t sleep. He’s so nervous.

 

So of course he’ll call Donghae.

 

“Yeah, it’s a hassle coming all the way here. I would’ve told the hyungs not to go as well.” He answers, leaning back just a little on his seat.

 

He hears Donghae snort over the phone, muttering something along the lines of ‘why do you always say stupid things.’

 

Hyukjae is endeared.

 

“A thousand of your fans think otherwise though.” Donghae tuts and Hyukjae blushes, feeling coy all of a sudden.

 

He still can’t believe it.

 

“I can’t believe it,” he voices out. “They’re waiting for me.” He whispers, like he’s not sure. “They waited.” Like it’s a secret. “For me.” Like he still doubts it’s true.

 

“Of course they did baby.” Donghae answers and Hyukjae can hear the smile in his voice.

 

“I don’t deserve them.” Hyukjae sighs, the corner of his eyes prick slightly. He makes a mental note to ask for someone to check them out, he would if he’s allowed.

 

He’s so grateful.

 

“Of course you do,” Donghae answers, voice gentle. “You deserve the world.”

 

Hyukjae presses his lips together. It’s too early to be emotional.

 

“Maybe I do,” he says, thumbing the sneaky droplet that flows over his cheek no matter how much he suppresses it. “I mean, I deserve you, right?”

 

Donghae makes a momentary pause before groaning on the other line.

 

“You’re disgusting.” He says, “I can’t wait to slap your stupid face.”

 

Hyukjae chuckles, sniffing and leaning his cheek on his palm.

 

“Me too.” He confesses, “Can’t wait.” Can’t wait to be back. Can’t wait to stand on stage. Can’t wait to dance to his heart’s content. Can’t wait to see the familiar crowd.

 

Can’t wait.

 

“Can’t wait.” Donghae repeats just as quiet and Hyukjae sighs.

 

Two. Hyukjae thought.

 

Can’t wait to come home.

 

 

//

 

He saw his picture because his platoon leader showed him.

 

“One of your boys is enlisting today.” He said, waving his phone to him while they’re having their break.

 

‘That’s my boy,’ Hyukjae thought, his gaze gentle.

 

Donghae’s hair was cropped, he looked handsome as always. The first chance he’d get, Hyukjae would tell him he was hot even if his bald, just to get a rise out of him from calling Hyukjae’s buzz cut, well, bald.

 

He looked lost, his baby face always deceiving. His eyes were sad, but determined.

 

Hyukjae was smitten.

 

Six hundred and thirty-eight. Happy birthday baby.

 

//

 

The first nights were probably the hardest, Hyukjae thought.

 

The days were okay. He could busy himself with training and meeting new people. With learning new things.

 

It’s a new world right there, in the field, in the hallways, in the confined rooms of young men from different towns and cities, with different backgrounds and stories.

 

He has fascinated himself with the activities, with how strikingly opposite the daily routine was compared to the one he had been used to, the one he was doing for years.

 

It’s a welcome change, one he had prepared himself, one he had honestly feared but somehow was starting to cope up with.

 

The days were okay. They were good to him.

 

The nights were different.

 

In his tiny bunk bed, with nothing but the sounds of his snoring roommates and white noises, Hyukjae has his thoughts that kept him awake.

 

He thought of his family, and that he hoped they’re healthy and alright. He thought of his friends, of his members, of how long he has stayed in camp and how many more days it would take until he was forgotten by his fans.

 

It was a silly thing to think about, especially when he wasn’t even gone for so long, but he knew nothing lasts forever.

 

People move on, people changed, hearts wavered and love would fade. He wasn’t sure if there would be anything he’d come back to, if there would be people who’d still hear him sing, would still watch him dance.

 

In the depths of the night Hyukjae would be crippled by fears, by uncertainties. By ‘what-ifs’ and ‘maybes’. By the unknown future.

 

The nights weren’t good.

 

So when it got too much, Hyukjae would write to Donghae.

 

He had written letters, had penned songs. Not all of them were about or for Donghae, but they were stories he heard throughout the day and it felt right to tell him even though he wouldn’t read it until some days later.

 

He’d write about his fears, of his uncertainties, because if there’s anyone he would open his heart to without the fright of being judged, without thinking they would love him less, it’s Donghae.

 

His person.

 

His best friend.

 

The nights weren’t good, they weren’t always.

 

But Hyukjae would be okay.

 

Six hundred and fifteen. I miss you.

 

//

 

 

Donghae cried when they first saw each other, no matter how much he insisted that he didn’t.

 

“Why would I cry? You think so high of yourself. I didn’t even miss you at all!”

 

He’s blabbering, noisy and whiny and stuttering under his fur lined hoodie. Hyukjae beamed behind his mask.

 

“Come here.” He said and Donghae stopped talking.

 

He walked to him silently, pressed himself on his chest slowly. It felt like he was thinking Hyukjae would disappear, that nothing of this was real.

 

It’s silly. Borderline hopeless, Hyukjae thought.

 

He could relate.

 

When Hyukjae wrapped him in his arms Donghae sniffed. Hyukjae chuckled faintly and hugged him even tighter.

 

“I’m not crying.” Donghae murmured against his chest.

 

“No you’re not.” Hyukjae humored him.

 

Five hundred and seventy-five. It’s nice to see you again.

 

 

//

 

New Zealand was beautiful. Clean and quiet and green, green, green.

 

He smiled as he watched his parents take turns taking pictures, his sister Sora having a blast recording the scenery on her own.

 

He took a few on his own and posted some online, the rest of his camera roll sent in a private message to Donghae.

 

[ me ]

 

i bought you a house. it’s perfect.

 

He typed right after a picture of the famous Hobbiton house. The reply was instantaneous, Donghae just woke up but he’s also on a well-deserved break and today they could talk some more.

 

[ donghaek <3 ]

 

you’re barely an inch taller so that’s rich coming from you

 

Hyukjae smiled, biting his lip as he tapped a reply.

 

[ me ]

 

i AM taller so i can actually poke fun at you being the tiniest tiny man

 

[ donghaek <3 ]

 

i can’t even see the difference….

you’re also a TINY MAN !!!!

 

Hyukjae laughed softly, leaning back just a little. He heard his mother call for him so they can take a photo together, and Hyukjae waved his hand and responded that he’s coming.

 

[ me ]

 

that’s alright we can be small together

tiny husbands in our tiny home

<3

 

It took Donghae a while to reply and Hyukjae already posed a few with his mom. He checked and decided he’d post one for later, along with a few more pictures he took for this trip.

 

His phone chimed, Donghae just sent a message.

 

[ donghaek <3 ]

 

ew

you’re the worst

and don’t call me your husband when you haven’t even proposed yet

>_<

 

Hyukjae cackled, and this time it was loud. His mother asked what has gotten into him and he just shook his head. He took another glance at the Hobbiton house and smiled, asking his mother to take a picture of him in it.

 

#Comein, Hyukjae posted online.

 

welcome home, honey ^_^, he sent to his boyfriend.

 

Five hundred and sixteen. Someday I’ll build a home with you and call you my husband because I have all the right to.

 

 

//

 

 

It’s kind of hard to match their vacations together, but somehow they made it work.

 

It’s nice, Hyukjae thought, while he watched Donghae play with Seowon. He was trying to get a kiss, and he’s not being successful at it.

 

If he didn’t constantly bully her he probably would have had one by now.

 

“She hates me.” Donghae pouted, looking longingly over Seowon as she settled herself on Hyukjae’s lap.

 

“Maybe if you didn’t lead her on and eat her fruit even after you said you’d give it to her, maybe she’d like you a little more.” Hyukjae comments, casually feeding Seowon the slice of bananas Donghae had devoid her of (yet again) just a while ago.

 

“We were playing!” Donghae exclaimed, immediately apologizing when he startled Seowon with his voice. He leaned closer, his eyes big and sorry.

 

Hyukjae was so fond.

 

“Love me, Seowonnie.” He said cutely and from the kitchen they heard Seowon’s mother giggle.

 

Seowon merely stared at him, her attention easily swayed with the slice of banana Hyukjae had put before her. Donghae frowned and slapped Hyukjae, offended and betrayed.

 

Hyukjae laughed and offered him the next slice of banana.

 

“Here, I’ll love you instead.” He uttered with a wink and Donghae blushed but took the fruit in his mouth anyway.

 

“You’re not as cute as Seowon,” Donghae said, munching on the fruit before sticking his tongue out at Hyukjae.”But I guess you’ll do.” He said and winked back, his smile cheeky.

 

Hyukjae was gone.

 

One hundred and ninety-two. I’d marry you today, if you’d let me to.

 

 

//

 

“Given the chance, would you choose to live for an eternity?”

 

It’s a random question, but then again, Donghae has the habit of blurting haphazard thoughts every now and then. He’s always curious, and he rather ask question than pretending he knows.

 

It’s one of the great things about him.

 

Hyukjae leaned on the car’s window, clutching his phone closer to his ear as he thought of an answer. The question was probably prompted by the fact that Hyukjae has just gone to one of Goblin’s settings, and they went on arguing who would be Goblin and who would be the Goblin’s bride (‘Groom. If you’re going to end up Goblin I won’t be anyone’s bride. Though the fact that I’ll make a better Goblin still stands,’ Donghae earlier remarked.)

 

“Don’t say something cheesy like ‘I’d live for eternity only if I have you with me,’ I’m going to hang up, I swear to God, Lee Hyukjae.”

 

Hyukjae laughed, sighing as his eyes watched the sigh the car passed by, the endless blue sea as clear as the sky.

 

“You always complain about that even when we both know you love it,” He started and smiled when Donghae huffed. “But alright, I won’t call you out on it because I’m the best boyfriend.”

 

He ignored Donghae’s ‘You just did, you idiot,’ and hummed, eyes still fixed outside, yet his thoughts are farther away.

 

“I don’t think I’d like to live for an eternity, that’ll be too tiring.” He said, in all honesty. “I mean, look at Kim Shin. He had all the time in the world, all the money, and yet he can keep the people he had loved and had to mourn for them every time. It’s sad, it’s exhausting. I don’t want people to keep leaving me and have no control about it.”

 

He could hear murmur something on the other line, an acknowledgment.

 

“And I don’t need an eternity. I’m fine with just a lifetime, that one shot, you know? So I know I only have this, and because of that I’d live it like how I wanted it to be. Happy.”

 

“That makes sense.” Hyukjae heard the smile on Donghae’s voice and he smiled back.

 

“How about you?” Hyukjae asked after a beat. “Would you like to live forever?”

 

“Hmm,” Donghae rumbled, as if in thought. “I’m good with a lifetime I guess.” He said, and then after a while, “Because that’s how long you want to live and you know I’d rather live one good lifetime than spend forever without you.”

 

He sounded so cheeky and Hyukjae is at lost for words before he burst out laughing, quickly muttering a soft apology when he startled the friends he came with.

 

“You are the worst.” He whispered back to Donghae and he listened as he laughed back. Loud, unabashed and happy.

 

Hyukjae’s happy.

 

“You love it as well.” Donghae said and Hyukjae agreed.

 

He loved it.

 

He loved him.

 

 

Ninety-six. Darling, we’re eternal.

 

 

//

 

Donghae did go.

 

Hyukjae has the inkling feeling, it was obvious with the way his mom and sister get so cheeky at the mention of his name. With how much Jungsoo went over which members were coming to greet him, with how Donghae was adamant to say he’s not going.

 

There he is, coy and quiet, with his arms already wide open at the first sight of Hyukjae.

 

There are so many people, people who waited, still waiting until the very last second. For him.

 

Hyukjae thinks his face might break from beaming so wide.

 

He’s so happy.

 

He comes to Donghae’s welcoming arms and he can’t stop smiling.

 

Donghae’s here. His members were beaming back at him. His fans were screaming his name.

 

Donghae’s here.

 

Hyukjae’s done counting.

 

 

//

 

 

“A thousand. That’s insane!”

 

“I know right.”

 

“I still can’t believe they’d wait for me. Me!”

 

“You. You’re their favorite boy.”

 

“And you’re mine.” Donghae punches him but Hyukjae takes it like a man and hauls him closer.

 

“Kids, hyung is trying to eat.” Jungsoo mutters and they giggle, lost in their own little world.

 

The rest of my life, Hyukjae thinks.

 

The rest of my life. I’d spend it with you.