“It’s enough right? Parting ways here is the best for both of us, right?”
“What…did I, did I do something?”
A slow shake of the head. A rueful smile marring lips that used to always light up with a welcoming grin.
“Let’s break up.”
He was silent. The thousands of protests, of pleas that were bubbling up from his throat, threatening to spill from his lips, deserted him all at once.
Bzzzz. Bzzzz. Bzzzz. Bzzzz.
With a groan, Jisung reached out blindly to grab his vibrating phone, only succeeding in knocking it off his bedside table. Groping around on the floor aimlessly, it took him several tries before he managed to grasp it and he answered it blearily, barely awake enough to realize what he was doing.
“Hello?” he yawned into the receiver.
“…..hyung, sorry, did I wake you?”
“Niel? Yeah, uh it’s okay. Are you alright, why are you calling at,” Jisung pulled his phone away from his ear, squinting at the too-bright screen to check the time, “holy shit, dude, why are you calling at four in the morning.”
Jisung sat up, suddenly wide awake when Daniel stayed silent on the other side of the phone, “Is everything alright? Are you okay? Did something happen?”
“….I’m okay. Just. Hyerin broke up with me.”
Shit. Jisung started to pull on the first sweater that he could see, “I’m coming over.”
“No, hyung, it’s okay, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have called this late.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, you call us any time there’s anything you need at all, I’ll see you in a couple minutes.”
Hanging up so that he could stop stumbling around his room, Jisung grabbed his keys and then headed over to Taewoong’s room, knocking three times quickly.
A few moments later, Taewoong’s door swings open and he stands there, bright-eyed and wary, “Did you break the toilet again?”
Jisung’s mouth drops open in outrage, but he doesn’t have time to waste being offended now, so he reigns himself in forcibly.
“The toilet is fine. Daniel just called, Hyerin broke up with him.”
“Shit. Is he okay?”
“He said he was, but he also caved in and called me at 4am in the morning so I’m choosing not to believe him on this one.”
“Okay. Okay, do the others know?”
Jisung watches fondly as Taewoong rushes back into his room to grab a familiar green hoodie. Wait a second.
“Hey, that’s my hoodie!” he exclaims.
Taewoong snorted, pulling it over his t-shirt with a grin, “I told you, if you keep leaving your stuff in my room then it’s mine.”
“Urgh, whatever. I texted the boys, Jaehan said they’re going to grab some food and then join us at Daniel’s place.”
Half an hour later finds them situated in the living room of Daniel’s apartment, take-out containers covering the coffee table as they arranged themselves around their heart-broken friend.
“What happened?” Jaehan asked while wrestling the six-pack out of Jinwoo’s hands, “Actually won’t we wake up your roommate like this?
Daniel shook his head, “A bit late to be asking now, but no hyung, Seongwoo is out of town for a project shoot.”
“Figures that’s why you finally ended up calling us over,” declared Jisung as he threw himself onto the couch beside Daniel, “but seriously, Daniel-ah, what happened?”
The boy in question sighed explosively, burying his face into a cushion, “I don’t know. We were fine! Or well, I thought we were fine.”
“Okay, let’s start from the beginning,” piped in Jaehan, “Did you guys fight at all over the last week? Did you forget a date, or didn’t spend time with her?”
“No, well, not really. I mean I couldn’t grab lunch with her on Monday because I promised Woojin I would go over his English assignment with him. But I apologized and she said it was fine, she even came to hang out in the café with us for a bit. Tuesday and Thursday I was with you guys and the rest of the dance crew, but we didn’t have plans anyways.”
“And Wednesday and Friday?” asked Jinwoo, casually stuffing three mandu into his mouth immediately afterwards.
“Wednesday she wanted to go out, but I always get dinner with Seongwoo, it’s our thing. I offered to have her join us instead, but she said she didn’t want to intrude,” at Jinwoo’s nod, Daniel continued, “And Friday I was hanging out with Seongwoo again after I got off from my shift. We always hang out before he has to go out of town.”
“And she wasn’t upset?”
“She didn’t act like she was. But that’s why I took her to that restaurant she mentioned she wanted to try two weeks ago, I wanted to make it up to her. Everything seemed fine: we caught a movie beforehand, we ate, she laughed at my jokes like always. And then she told me we should break up, flagged down the waiter, and left after paying the bill.”
There was silence until Taewoong decided to bite the bullet, “Did you ask her to stay?”
“No,” Daniel laughed bitterly, “She had already made up her mind. I didn’t, I didn’t want to force it if that wasn’t what she wanted.”
Jaehan and Jinwoo determinedly looked away after glancing at Jisung, waiting for their hyung to step up and lay things out. Jisung looked around, betrayed, staring accusingly at Taewoong who only shrugged and wrapped an arm around Daniel’s broad shoulders. For a second, Jisung cursed the gods for creating a Daniel who loved so easily.
“Okay, don’t take this the wrong way Niel, but that’s the fifth one this year.”
“And you love her.”
“And Kim Jaehwan before her?”
“And Park Jihoon before that?”
“YES. To all of them. Hyung, what is your point? I didn’t call you so you could rub all my failed relationships into my face.”
“Okay, okay, sorry,” Jisung held his hands up in defense, “Okay, let me try to put it in a different way.”
Looking around the room only to be met with helpless shrugs, Jisung glared at his useless friends and tried again. “Alright, say we were hanging out one day, okay? And then I told you that I didn’t think we should be friends anymore. We weren’t fighting or anything. What would you do?”
“What? But you’d never-“
“Just answer the question, Niel-ah.”
“I’d punch you.”
“Okay, fair enough, but after that?”
“I’d make you tell me why you said something that stupid. And I’d make sure you knew you were stuck with me.”
“And if Taewoong, or Jaehan, or Jinwoo said that to you? If Seongwoo or Woojin said they didn’t want to be associated with you anymore?”
“The same,” Daniel said resolutely, “Except maybe not punching Woojin, he’s too small. I’d be mad but I wouldn’t let you guys just walk out on me like that.”
“Then why did you just watch Hyerin walk out tonight?”
“I,” Daniel choked on his words for a moment, looking pained, “I do love her though. I do.”
“I’m not saying that you don’t,” said Jisung gently, reaching over to clasp Daniel’s shaking hands between his own, “But maybe you didn’t love her that much. Maybe you didn’t love her or any of them enough to be unable to imagine a life without them.”
Taewoong pulled Daniel more firmly against his side and the younger male slumped against his shoulder in a daze, emotionally exhausted.
“So what do I do now?” he wondered out loud, “How do I ever find someone I love enough?”
“Hey, it’s okay man, these things take time; they don’t just happen. Maybe take a break from dating for a bit. Spend some time with yourself as the priority,” suggested Taewoong.
“But whatever you decide, we’re here,” promised Jaehan solemnly.
Jinwoo nodded earnestly to add his support for that statement. Normally he would have cracked a joke to lighten the mood, but seeing the pained look in Daniel’s eyes made it seem grossly inappropriate.
“Okay,” Daniel agreed, turning to press burning eyes into his hyung’s neck, “Okay.”