It was impossible to know how the world would react to them. Donghae was so sure, so naive to believe that nothing would change. Hyukjae was uncertain. He was skeptical. He knew something would change, and he wasn’t ready to disrupt the delicate balance they had already established together. Hyukjae was sure of one thing. His love for Donghae was endless. For thirteen years, Hyukjae always knew that he was Donghae’s, and vice versa. As sure as they were about one another, they differed in opinion when it came to speaking about their relationship. Sure, the group members knew. How could they not? Only one of their managers knew, and he warned them that the current climate wasn’t friendly enough for them to be open. Hyukjae knew that, and he knew speaking about their relationship wouldn’t just jeopardize his and Donghae’s careers, it would jeopardize the entire groups careers. Hyukjae wasn’t selfish enough to want that. He was content with how things were, especially if it meant his group members wouldn’t be affected. Donghae was a little bit more optimistic, his head up in the clouds.
They never argued over it though. They’d talk about it. They’d discuss it. Donghae always respected Hyukjae’s said, and he promised that they would only do it when they both were comfortable with the idea, and with their group members blessing. They knew this wouldn’t just affect them. They weren’t selfish enough to ruin the other’s careers if their coming out turned sour.
Donghae would always end the conversation on a light note, “At this rate, we’re going to be old and bald by the time it’s okay for us to reveal it.”
Hyukjae laughed, and also felt a deep bodied comfort at the words his partner spoke. Donghae was planning on being with Hyukjae for the long run. He’d never felt so secure and content, even if things weren’t perfect. They were happy with the situation they were given.
Hyukjae did remember how miserable he was when he enlisted, having to say good-bye to his members, and having to reconcile with the fact that when he went to sleep that night it wouldn’t be with Donghae nestled next to his side exchanging sleepy kisses. The first couple of weeks were miserable. He had a hard time adjusting. He’d been so used to having Donghae an arm’s length away, and now they were hundreds of miles away.
When they had their first vacation day, they managed to both have it on the same day and meet up halfway. Hyukjae crumpled into Donghae’s hug. Donghae was the biggest sight for sore eyes. How he managed to still look so beautiful and glowing was beyond him. Hyukjae knew he looked like a hot mess, but Donghae was kind in his chastising and held him for as long as Hyukjae needed. The words flew effortlessly, sharing their experiences, talking about the members calling them, and the loneliness they felt. He was so glad he didn’t have to experience these things on his own, but he was upset he didn’t have Donghae with him. Donghae’s presence was a soothing balm to the isolation he had been feeling the last month.
Parting was hard. They had shrugged into a darkened alleyway that offered some privacy, and Hyukjae pressed desperate kisses into Donghae’s lips, jaw, and neck. It was hard leaving. Having to walk away from his better half, knowing it would be another long while before he’d get to feel his touch and kiss his lips.
Winter was approaching. He could feel the bite of the wind as it blew against him. It was only warmed by the summer sun, still blazing hot and furious. With winter coming, it would make travel more difficult, and he knew for him, potentially dangerous. Donghae had already told him not to make the trip down. It was too risky, and after bad experience with car accidents, Hyukjae agreed. It was better to be safe than sorry. Donghae promised as soon as the air turned warm, he’d be on his way to visit. Hyukjae promised to hold him to it.
Before he knew it, a year had passed. The July heat had returned with a vengeance. Donghae wasn’t able to visit the last time they had off, promising his family to visit them, and Hyukjae didn’t blame them. He had went to visit his own family as well. His mother asked about Donghae, a knowing glint in her eyes. Hyukjae blushed, regardless of his age, and told her that he was well. She made him promise to make an honest man out of Donghae, which Hyukjae covered his face mortified, feeling his cheeks burn. His mother laughed. “We all love Donghae. You have our blessing. Make an honest man of him, promise me?” She says gently. Hyukjae promises on the condition that it may not be for a while. His mother accepts that and begins to feed him enough food for his whole entire platoon.
The winter months are approaching again, and Jungsoo made Hyukjae promise to use his vacation day so that the two could visit. Hyukjae agreed, knowing it had been a while since he saw his beloved hyung. Donghae understood, and instead went to visit Heechul and the maknaes. Jungsoo treated him to to Korean BBQ dinner. Jungsoo’s whole aura was warm and gentle. He had aged well. He did look a bit thin, but he knew that sometimes happened while you were busy. “Donghae looks well,” Jungsoo says softly. Hyukjae laughs, “He should. He’s the favorite.” Jungsoo laughs, “Isn’t he always?” Hyukjae smirks. Even within their own group, Donghae tends to be the favored amongst them all. Even Heechul adores him, and takes excellent care of him. Jungsoo had a soft spot for him as well. They all did. Donghae was magnetic, and they couldn’t help be attracted to him.
Jungsoo left, giving him a tight hug. “I know you try and see Donghae as much as possible, thank you for sacrificing that to visit with me. I miss you.” Hyukjae looks at his hyung with wide eyes. His eldest hyung rarely admits to such sentiments, so hearing it from him sounded far more sincere and loving. “Hyung, I’m glad you came up. Thank you for treating me to dinner. I always feel comfortable when I’m with you.” Jungsoo smiles warmly at him, before giving him another tight hug and nagging him to get on the bus. Hyukjae does as he’s told, feeling off-kilter by the sudden admittance by his leader. He wonders if his leader feels lonely without them there?
Today he finishes his mandatory service. It’s a big celebration. He dresses, and nervously adjusts his laces. Donghae promised to be there, but there was still an air of uncertainty on if he’d actually gotten the time off since it was so close to Donghae’s last day of service as well. Leaving the building was an experience. He wasn’t aware that his fans had lined up down the street, chanting his name, and happily congratulating him. He bowed to them, unable to hide his smile. All of a sudden, the energy and cheers in the fans got louder, and he looked around to see what drew their attention. His eyes immediately fell onto Donghae, dressed in a plain white shirt, and jeans. A ballcap on his head, hiding his eyes, which he knew were looking at him with as much love and adoration as he could muster. Beside him was their leader, looking just as proud.
Once the ceremonial part had concluded, Donghae was their, an arm length away, and Hyukjae was already melting into his embrace. After twenty seconds of holding each other had passed, Hyukjae moved to hug Jungsoo. It felt so good to be held by his members, and teasingly picked on. In two days, Donghae would be free as well.
When they got into the cars, Hyukjae moved into the back row, Donghae following. Donghae cuddled into Hyukjae’s side, and Hyukjae couldn’t help himself as he did the same. Pressing kisses onto Donghae’s temple now that the stupid was off and resting in his lap. How Hyukjae was supposed to let go of Donghae for another two days, he didn’t know. It would be a long 48 hours.
Those two days passed by as quickly as they did, and he was sitting in the van waiting for Donghae to come out of the building. He looked especially dapper in his uniform. Donghae could wear a potato sack and it would be considered good enough to walk the runway. He left the van with his members, and Donghae beamed. He was glowing. He was there at Donghae’s side as soon as he was officially discharged, and Donghae melted into his arms. They were free, and could be together again. No more having to leave and the crushing pain it brought each of them, uncertain of when they would meet again.
Once they concluded their duties with the media, and fans, did they settle in the back of the same van. Donghae holding Hyukjae’s hand. They’d be going to dinner with all of the available members, but until then, Hyukjae was taking Donghae back to his apartment to shower and rest. The members gave them a knowing glance as they exited the van, chastising them to wear protection and to set an alarm. Hyukjae flipped them off, and the two entered the apartment building. It was quiet trip in the elevator, and when they reached Hyukjae’s apartment, did Donghae finally seem to relax. Hyukjae locked the door, and took his shoes off.
“Come on baby,” he says softly, leading Donghae into his room and sitting him down on the bed. He took off his hat, undid his tie, and began unbuttoning the shirt. He untucked it from his pants and peeled it off of his arms. He was left in a white undershirt and his pants. “Stand up, let’s get all of this off of you, and get you in the shower. You’ll feel better,” Hyukjae promises. One his boyfriend is nude, he sleepily follows Hyukjae into the bathroom where warm water is steaming up the mirrors and glass door. Hyukjae helps Donghae underneath the stream with a strict command to wash and not fall asleep.
Hyukjae found a pair of soft, flannel pajama bottoms for him to wear, already knowing the other would want to be shirtless. Once the water turned off, Hyukjae watched the other towel off, before handing him the folded articles of clothing. Once Donghae was washed and in comfortable clothes, did Hyukjae allow him to lay down on the bed. He joined him, and was instantly cuddle into. “Love you,” Donghae mumbled. Hyukjae hushes him and kisses his forehead, “Sleep.”
They fall asleep together. They wake up together, Donghae still nestled in Hyukjae’s arms. They exchange kisses while they can, before they need to get dressed into something nice for dinner with the members that night. They leave together, and sit inside of Donghae’s sport cars, holding hands over the center console. When they get into the restaurant, and see that they have a private room, Hyukjae relaxes even more. Jungsoo looks at them knowingly, “Figured you two wouldn’t be able to keep your hands off of one another.” Donghae blushes, but Hyukjae laughs, sitting down in a comfortable, plush chair. Donghae sits in his lap, Hyukjae has a protective arm wrapped around his waist, holding his hip. Donghae leans into his chest, legs over Hyukjae’s lap, and the members don’t blink an eye at their cuddling. They wouldn’t tease them over this. They know how long it’s been, and for now at least, they’ll let them indulge in a bit more of intimate skinship.
Everything seems to be right in the world. Donghae sitting in his lap, comfortably laughing with the other members. Hyukjae watching Heechul tease Jungsoo. It was the perfect scenario. “Hey guys, I have a question for you,” he says.
All eyes are on him, even Donghae. Hyukjae sits up, shifting Donghae up as well, and wrapping his arms around Donghae’s middle. “I’m not saying it’ll be right now. I wouldn’t want to make a big deal so close to returning and our comeback, but would I have your guys blessing if I were to make an honest man out of Donghae in the future?”
Donghae’s eyes widen, and the others have similar expressions. Heechul is giving him a cheshire smile. Jungsoo looks a few seconds away from crying. The others look shocked.
“Yeah, Hyukkie that would be more than okay,” Jungsoo finally says, wiping at his eyes.
Hyukjae smiles, and looks at Donghae, “I promised my mom I’d make an honest man out of you one of these days.”
Donghae laughs, a watery laugh, tears already spilling onto his cheeks.
“Good job, you bastard, making our Donghae cry,” Heechul teases.
Hyukjae wipes the tears away, “Don’t cry. You should have expected this.”
Donghae chuckles, “I didn’t. I was content being like this for the rest of our lives.”
Hyukjae smirked, “My mom would have buried me eight feet in the ground if I never propose.”
“I love you,” Donghae says.
“I love you too, baby,” Hyukjae says softly.
The members start making disgusted groans, some boo, some cheer, and some throw pieces of bread at them. He wouldn’t have it any other way.