It took Daniel a couple of months to fall out of love.
It took him a day to feel the emptiness.
A day after breaking up with Jisung, he woke up with a heavy heart. His first instinct was to grab his phone. He was about to send his good morning message to Jisung when he realized that he was not obligated to do that anymore.
He was supposed to feel relief, having himself free from the suffocating obligation of boyfriend duties. But the clench in his chest was far from relief.
They were sadness, longing, emptiness…
It was only a day. He broke up with Jisung because he fell out of love. So why regret now? No, it was not regret.
It couldn’t be regret.
He was just… Guilty. Jisung looked calm, and never shed a tear in front of him. But he knew he hurt him. He knew he scarred him deep. The feelings died, but he still cared. It hurt him too.
Yes, it was just guilt. Plain guilt.
Although he always reached for his phone first to type good morning, only to realize halfway that it was not necessary. Although he always slept on only one side of his bed because Jisung might come and sleep over after another over time at work. He would reach out the empty space beside him out of habit. Although he constantly looked at his phone to read a text from Jisung that never came. Although he subconciously browse for a new movie to watch in the cinema for a Friday night date.
And although he backread their conversation in his phone that he never erased everytime things in college were stressing him out.
And although he never erased their pictures together, and he would always smile as he remembered every memory of them down to the tiny details clearly. Like they just happened yesterday. Then he would have the urge to tell it to Jisung, only to find no one beside him to reminisce.
Although he never get rid himself of Jisung’s memories, he still thought he was just guilty.
At least for two years.
Almost two years after breaking up, in the time of spring, he received a text message.
Hi, Daniel? How are you? Congratulations on you graduation. All the good luck for you in the future.
This is my new number, by the way.
Daniel rolled on his bed like an excited samoyed dog. Pausing to reread the message, then would roll on his bed again.
And then there were tears. His tears poured out heavily like wateralls, laughing in between. He knew this feeling. He wouldn’t deny it this time.
He was overjoyed. Just one message, and it felt like his heart would burst out in happiness any moment.
“God, hyung, I miss you. So much…” he uttered in his coarse voice while clutching at his chest.
He was full of emotion. Hope was filling his system. His mind thinking of a bright, new beginning for them. He thanked God, he thanked Buddha, the same Jisung thanked both gods for every blessing he received. He chuckled at the memory. He couldn’t wait to hear that again.
In his tearful eyes, and shaking hands, he was able to type in a reply:
Thank you, hyung. I’m doing fine. How about you? It’s been so long. I want to see you, hyung. It’s spring, your favorite season. Can we meet some time?
He sent his message. Waiting for the reply was a little agonizing.
What if Jisung didn’t actually want to see him? Not yet, at least?
He felt his phone vibrated.
It’s good to know you’re fine. I’ve been fine too. Sure let’s meet some time. I’ll be free next week. Will it be fine?
Daniel never replied so quickly in his life.
Sure, hyung. I can’t wait to see you.
A short reply came after. See you, then.
Daniel rolled on his bed again, a squeal trapped in his throat. He fell out of the bed with a loud thud. But he just laughed it off.
In contrast to Jisung, Daniel liked fall better than spring. He liked the color of the withering trees, and the colors of the falling leaves.
He liked fall, but he loved spring. Because spring was Jisung.
This would be the most unforgettable spring of his life.
“You look like a samoyed, Daniel.”
Daniel’s samoyed smile got wider. “Jinwoo-hyung, Jisung-hyung texted me.”
“Did he congratulate you for graduating?”
Daniel knotted his forehead. “How did you know?”
“He asked me before if you would graduate this spring,” Jinwoo said with a shrug of the shoulder.
“Is that so?” Daniel flashed his samoyed smile at Jinwoo. “Thank you, hyung! I asked him if we could meet and he said yes!”
Jinwoo looked straight to his eyes. He didn’t try to conceal the spark in them. He was drowned in his own excitement he didn’t notice the change of expression on Jinwoo’s face.
“Daniel-ah, someone’s courting Jisung-hyung for almost a year now.”
That killed the spark in his eyes. Jinwoo looked away from his friend.
“It’s just a suitor, right? So, it’s still fine to see him.”
Daniel ignored the growing disappointment in his heart. He blocked the approaching hopelessness.
Jinwoo looked at him with a knotted forehead. “Why, Daniel? Don’t tell me you’re planning to get back with Jisung-hyung?”
He was the one who looked away this time. “Well, uhm…”
“Aren’t you the one who broke up with him? You said you didn’t love him anymore. That it just died out.”
“Ah, y-yeah, I did. But…”
“And you seemed to be fine right after that. While Jisung-hyung had to change his number and erased all your photos together in all of his social media accounts. You told me, he didn’t even cry when you broke up, but we drunk with the others on some other times, and we had to bring him home because he always drowned himself with soju and too much crying. And---”
“I was wrong, okay!” Daniel snapped. “I got hurt too. I regretted it the next day. I regretted breaking up with him every single day, hyung.”
“You fell out of love, huh? Tsk, you’re such an asshole, Daniel.”
“And you’re hopeless.”
Daniel chose not to respond to that.
It was spring, but Daniel felt like autumn was starting early that year. At least for him.
As he watched Jisung’s sparkling eyes while talking to a handsome man across him, Daniel’s hope for a second chance with him was like the red orange leaves falling and crumpling on the ground during autumn.
Jisung used to have those eyes for him. Now it was directed to someone else.
“Hyung, how long have Minhyun been courting you?” Daniel took the courage to ask one time.
Jisung was taken aback, clearly not expecting the mentioned guy would be a subject of their conversation. His eyes were silently asking him how did he know, because he never told him about that.
Daniel forced a smile. “It was actually obvious, hyung. The guy is clearly whipped by you.”
Jisung’s reddening cheeks were stabbing Daniel harder than a knife. But he was still adorable. He remembered the times when he maked him blush before. He always blushed for him.
Jisung took interest in his cup of coffee. “Well, more than a year, I guess.”
He sighed. “We met here in his coffeeshop. He always served my coffee with post-it notes, each day with a different color.”
The smile that spread acrossed Jisung’s lips was wounding Daniel’s heart even more. That same smile that wasn’t for him anymore.
“Most of it saying encouraging words, like ‘the sky is bright today, I hope it’s enough to bring you a bright smile’. I remembered one note saying, ‘Stan Nues’t, they have the best songs. And that guy with the same name as mine is handsome’.” Jisung chuckled at the memory, unaware of the hurting heart across him.
“Can you even believe he confessed through those notes? He asked me for a date with a pink, heart-shaped post-it note. Weird guy, right?”
Jisung looked at him again. Daniel just smiled and indulged him with his stories, nevermind his dying heart. “And? Did you accept?”
“No, I replied with another note saying if he asked me personally, maybe I’d think about it. And I didn’t know his name. The next thing I knew, he was in front of me saying, ‘Hi, I’m Hwang Minhyun. I owned this coffeeshop. Can we watch a movie together? And didn’t I tell you about my name before? Remember that stan Nues’t note?’. He was one heck of a guy, right?”
Jisung’s eyes were sparkling as he looked at him. Daniel knew it wasn’t because he was talking to him. Just talking about Hwang Minhyun could make his eyes sparkling.
“But I still said no.”
Jisung looked away guiltily. “I… I’m afraid.”
Amidst the agonizing silence, Daniel somehow knew the reason. “You’re afraid he’ll fall out of love just like I did.”
Jisung braved looking at him. “N-nyel…”
Daniel gave a painful smile. “Hyung… I’m… Sorry for that.”
Jisung, the ever understanding, smiled softly at him. “It wasn’t your falt. I guess, emotions change, Nyel. I’m sorry, if I make you guilty.”
They looked in each other’s eyes without saying anything. Daniel braved holding Jisung’s hand that was resting on the table.
“Hyung, if… If you have this chance at love, don’t… Don’t let this go.” His breathing was becoming heavier and heavier as he said every word. “I don’t know if I have the right to say this, but…”
He breathed deeply before continuing. He was sure as hell his hand on top of Jisung’s was starting to shake. He gripped on his hand so he wouldn’t notice. “But love is love, right? And love is to be felt, not to be kept inside. The guy is in love with you, hyung.”
He looked intently in Jisung’s eyes, reading his emotions, and trying to stop himself from tearing up. “And you feel the same.”
Daniel never knew his heart could get even more shattered than it already was.
But he still continued. “Have yourself this chance, hyung. You deserve it. If he can make you feel loved, give in to it. There are a lot of uncertainty, yes, but isn’t it more important that you know you are capable to feel such wonderful feeling?”
He showed Jisung a genuine smile. With all the regret and pain he was feeling at the moment, he wasn’t regretting falling in love with Yoon Jisung. He would never regret it.
“He may not be the one ‘till the end, but there are a lot of chances to fall in love, right? So, hyung, fall in love if you fall in love. You won’t know the wonders it will give you if won’t try.”
Jisung was looking at him with tears in his eyes. Daniel reached out a hand to cup his face. Jisung cried even more and Daniel laughed. He was still the cry-baby that he was.
Daniel withrew his hand from Jisung’s face and offered him the clean table napkin.
“Nyel…” Jisung held his hands. “Thank you so much. I am grateful for meeting you in this lifetime. And I love you. Always remember that.”
Daniel smiled the pain in his heart. I love you. Daniel knew it wasn’t that kind of I love you his heart wanted.
Their attention was stolen by a slight commotion coming from the coffeeshop’s counter. A princely, handsome man walked out from it.
“Hwang Minhyun,” Jisung sofly called out but the man intentionally passed by them and strode outside the coffeeshop.
Daniel sipped in his coffee as he observed that the man was clearly not in a good mood.
“Hyung, I think you should go after him. He might have mistaken our little emotional chat. I’m not bragging, but I also think that he’s jealous of me, your irresistible ex-boyfriend.”
Daniel winked. He applauded himself for holding his real emotion so far. He wouldn't ruin Jisung's happiness by exposing his pain to him. He'd given him a handful of it before.
“Urgh, that handsome idiot,” Jisung growled. “Nyel, let’s talk again, okay?”
“Sure, hyung. Just make sure he wouldn’t punch me at the first sigh, or kill me with his glare. My back felt like burning from his stares, hyung.” They shared a little laugh before Jisung stood up, ready to run after his new love in the blossoming season.
“Hyung, can I have a hug?” For the last time.
Jisung generously gave him one. Daniel wasn’t sure if that was the right decision, because he had the urge not to let him go, to take back all the things he said and be selfish, now that he was holding him in his arms.
“Spring is really beautiful, right, Nyel?” Jisung whispered. His contented voice cut all Daniel’s selfish thoughts.
Daniel wasn’t his spring anymore. He gave a one last tight hug before he let go of Jisung---though, reluctantly, and letting him go for good.
“Go now, hyung.” Before I really change my mind.
Jisung kissed him on the cheek before bursting out of the coffeeshop, smiling, and eyes full with determination.
Daniel left the coffeeship a few minutes after. He left for Canada the following day, leaving his heart behind, and a post-it note that said,
I love you, too, hyung.