Eunhyuk's angry at him. Donghae just knows it.
"Do you think Eunhyuk's behaving strangely?" Donghae asks Shindong experimentally.
Shindong looks up from his caramel pudding. "Any more strangely than usual, you mean?"
Donghae nods eagerly as he waits for Shindong to confirm his suspicions. Perhaps Shindong's noticed it too, the way Eunhyuk's slightly quieter than usual, the way he hangs out with Sungmin a bit more, the way his eyes have begun to slide past Donghae as though he isn't there...
"Nope." Shindong gives his spoon a decisive lick, and sinks it back into the pudding for another generous scoop.
Donghae attributes it to a careless oversight and goes to find Siwon instead, to confirm his suspicions. Siwon would know. They are Eunsihae, after all.
"Not more than usual," Siwon says thoughtfully, inadvertently derailing Donghae's rant about how Eunhyuk doesn't care about him anymore, doesn't look at him anymore, doesn't even joke with him anymore.
Siwon sees the crushed look in Donghae's eyes, and rushes to reassure him. "Don't worry, Donghae, I'll be sure to talk to him. It's important to clear up any misunderstanding between the both of you. If there is any, of course."
The last part is tacked on like Siwon doesn't believe him, and Donghae gets the unsettling feeling Siwon is laughing at him behind his words. A suspicious glance at Siwon reveals nothing, not even the barest twitch around the corner of his mouth, so Donghae can only nod in acquiscience and amble off to his dressing room to get ready for the rehearsal for the Premium Live performance that night.
That night, during their performance of Angela, Siwon gestures for Eunhyuk to peck him on the cheek. Eunhyuk leans in as though to obey, and Donghae tries playfully to stop them, like he would always have done before. At least, as he would have done when they were still friends, when Eunhyuk wasn't giving him the cold shoulder. A chill runs down Donghae's back as Eunhyuk tugs his hand down dismissively to kiss Siwon. Donghae wishes it didn't feel so much like being discarded. He's never disliked Eunsihae as much as that night.
His hand hurts where Eunhyuk grabbed it too hard, his eyes never once glancing over to where Donghae was standing.
Eunhyuk doesn't sit next to him during the Super Junior interview and message to fans after the concert, or anywhere near him, for that matter. He's tucked safely at the back next to Shindong, one seat away from being at the farthest point away from Donghae, but he might as well have built a cement wall of Super Junior members and hung up a sign that said "No Donghaes Allowed," for all it feels like to Donghae.
Seated awkwardly in front, with Heechul sitting where Eunhyuk should have been, Donghae tries not to let his hurt show on his face. But some of his listlessness shows through, and even Ryeowook notices, and comes up to him to ask him if everything's fine.
"I'm okay," Donghae reassures him, ever-cognizant of Eunhyuk's carelessly laughing figure somewhere in the background. The little frown on Ryeowook's face deepens, and Donghae forces a more convincing smile. "I'm just tired, it's been a long concert." Ryeowook's started to read him a little better after the time they spent together as Super Junior-M, and Donghae hurries to change the subject. "We did well, though, didn't we. Super Junior-M. I've never jumped so high in my life!"
Ryeowook finally relaxes at Donghae's attempt to crack a joke, and enthusiastically praises Donghae's performance in Me, as though Ryeowook weren't a part of Super Junior-M himself. Donghae allows himself to smile a little at Ryeowook's unassuming nature, but forlornly thinks to himself that even though Ryeowook's gotten to know him a bit better, Eunhyuk's still the only one who can read him instinctively.
Then he pinches himself vindictively for suceeding in making himself feel worse.
If there's a person who would notice anything, it would be Leeteuk. Leeteuk will be able to tell him if anything is wrong.
It's with this renewed vigor that Donghae goes to look for him, but before he can say a word, Leeteuk regards him with a pitying look in his eyes.
It takes Donghae a split-second to decide that anything is better than Leeteuk in mother-mode, and he's about to beat a hasty retreat when Leeteuk clears his throat and speaks up. "Why don't you just talk to him directly about it?" Leeteuk studies Donghae's face. "It's Eunhyuk, isn't it?"
Donghae's face burns, and he opens his mouth to defend himself, but Leeteuk is already barrelling on. "You know, when I said on that interview that you two manage your fights really badly, I actually did mean for you two to grow up a bit when it comes to these things." Leeteuk sizes him up appraisingly, and says, "Since when were you the one to chicken out from working it out when things are wrong?"
Finally, finally, Donghae gathers up enough courage to confront Eunhyuk. He hates scenes, but something needs to be done about their current stand-off, and if Eunhyuk isn't going to be man enough to do it, Donghae is going to have to be the one to initiate it.
"Look, Eunhyuk," Donghae says, aiming for a commanding tone of voice, and boy, if it didn't come out sounding weaker and feebler than he can remember his voice ever sounding. He kicks himself mentally and tries for an impassive face to save his dignity.
Eunhyuk's head whips up from where he's sitting on the floor, studying a few CDs, and his eyes darken when he sees Donghae. He looks like he's about to try to ignore Donghae again, but Donghae will have none of it, squatting down and grabbing the CDs from Eunhyuk's hands.
Eunhyuk's eyes flash dangerously, somewhat helplessly.
"Look, we really need to talk," Donghae says again. "I don't know what you've been thinking, avoiding me like this. Was it -- was it something I did?" His voice breaks on the last question and he hates himself for it.
Eunhyuk's voice, when he speaks, is rough. "It's nothing. I'm fine, you're fine, the Earth's still turning, everything's going on normally."
"Except for the part that it's not, Hyukjae! Everyone says it is, but it's not!" Donghae rakes a hand through his hair and tries again. "Look, can't we just talk about it? It's been so long, and I -- " Donghae wonders if he can get away without saying it; but he's desperate, and there's nothing for it. "I miss you, Eunhyuk." He risks a look at Eunhyuk to see how he's taking it.
Eunhyuk's eyes have softened imperceptibly, and he seems to be wrestling with something inside of himself. Donghae feels guilty for making Eunhyuk go through such a struggle, and opens his mouth to take back his words just as Eunhyuk comes to some kind of steely, mental decision.
"You see... It's like this, Donghae."
Donghae has never heard Eunhyuk's voice take on such a tender quality before, wonders briefly what could have inspired it. The emotions on Eunhyuk's face war with one another, but as he leans closer, Donghae does too, thinking Eunhyuk must be too embarrassed to explain it out loud.
But then Eunhyuk is dipping his head, catching Donghae's lips in a tentative kiss, hesitant as if Donghae might shove him away and bolt at any moment. Donghae knows the taste of rejection. Eunhyuk's mouth is full of wistful, cautious hope. He's felt it before -- when they were filming the Super Junior mini-drama, and they had to lean close together to each other and pretend they were kissing. But nothing has ever felt like this -- Eunhyuk's mouth on his, careful and sweetly offering.
Closing his eyes, Donghae wonders if he's the one who's been missing it all along.