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Letters to Wonwoo

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The first letter is waiting for him when he awakes. It’s an entirely ordinary sheet of paper hastily torn from a notebook, folded and laid to rest on his pillow. Its lunch time now, the members had left for their schedules several hours before. He doesn’t remember anyone leaving a letter on his pillow. He had been out of it when they came into his room. He remembers Seungwan saying to get enough rest and take his medicine and Hoshi saying that he’ll miss him and the dried tears in Jeonghan’s eyes as he no doubt remembered Wonwoo’s pained moans from the night before as he clutched his stomach and felt like he was dying. The pain has lessened considerably now, but he is swarmed with guilt. He feels guilty for not being able to perform because that means the other members would have to pick up the slack.

He picks up the sheet of paper. The penmanship is neat but the blue ink is smudged in several places. He first looks to the bottom but the letter is unsigned.

It reads “Hyung, please get enough rest and take your medicine on time. Please eat all your food too. I’ll miss you today onstage with me. Please feel better soon so we can stand together on stage again. Hyung, I know you’re feeling guilty about not being able to promote with us. Please don’t feel guilty. There will be many more opportunities. Just get better quickly so you can come back to us. Do you know how lonely I feel without you? I love you, hyung.

The letter warms his heart. He instantly knows who it’s from. There is no one who can bear his heart so honestly yet so clumsily. It makes him smile. He refolds the letter slipping it under his pillow and levers himself up to take his medicine and have lunch.

The members return to the dorm around 8:00p.m. Half of them are still buzzing with energy, the other half are dragging their feet. Seungcheol and Joshua are the first to enter his room bringing with them loads of gifts and letters from his fans.

“How are you feeling now?” asks Joshua.

“I’m feeling better” he replies closing his book and taking off his glasses.

Having the whole day free had proven to be a challenge. He couldn’t remember having so much free time in a long time. Usually, he would read during downtime in filming for music videos and VCRs or at night time when bone deep tiredness kept him awake instead of falling into slumber. It had been a long time since he spent hours getting lost in a book.

“The fans missed you a lot," says Seungcheol, "they all asked after you during the fansign and sent their well wishes”.

More members start pouring in filling up Jun and Dino’s bunk beds next to his. Vernon walks in with an open bag of vegetable crackers that he’s munching on sitting next to him on Hoshi’s bed that he’s co-opted since he hasn’t had the energy to move to the top bunk that’s his. The members start telling him about the fans they met at the fansigns, the funny questions they were asked and all sorts of headwear, flowers and toys they wore to pose for pictures. Minghao excitedly tells them about how happy he is that his fanclub has continued to grow a lot. Mingyu and Seungkwan are in the doorway bickering about who gets to use the shower first while Dino shakes his head and slips out before they can get to the bathroom. One by one they drift out to shower.

Shortly after, Jihoon calls them in the living room for dinner where he’s laid out containers of Chinese takeout. He’s also making ramen to go with the meal as Seokmin takes the bucket of kimchi out from the fridge. They all converge on the living room floor, digging into the food without a word said. They soon say their good nights and retire to their rooms.

Hoshi and Dino fall asleep immediately when they hit their beds. Jun is still up, watching videos on his phone as he tries to get ready for bed. Wonwoo is also scrolling through his phone. The fans have already uploaded lots of pictures from the concert and the fansign. He comes to a stop as he watches a set of photos taken by one of Mingyu’s fansites. In one of the pictures Mingyu is looking forlornly at Eddie the Fox, in another he is holding the stuffed toy as he poses for pictures, there are some taken of him tucking the toy in his suit. He hadn’t known that they were taking the stuffed toy to represent him at the fansign. During the schedules for the past couple of days, Jeonghan had stuck Wonwoo’s photocards to the album covers to take to their promotions. The toy had been given to him by a fan at a previous fansign because they said that he resembled the character when he wore his glasses. Mingyu had stolen it from him that same day and the toy now lived in his room.

He’s setting the alarm on his phone when Mingyu walks in. He gets into the bed and lies down facing Wonwoo. Wonwoo wants to say thanks for the letter but he feels oddly shy bringing it up. Instead, he brings the blanket up covering them both from head to toe. Under the blankets they whisper. Mingyu asks him about his day and talks about a part of the choreography he messed up during the performance. He tells him how Jeonghan had cried for two hours after talking to him on the phone earlier that day and how they all wanted to come home after hearing him on the phone. The gastritis has left him with exhaustion and weakness that can be seen in how he carries himself and heard in his voice. He assures Mingyu that he is feeling better. Their whispering eventually peters out as they drop into sleep.

Chapter Text

The second letter is written on red cardstock.

The Going Seventeen cameras are on facing them. They’re all spread across the room, on the couches, by the desk and on the floor. Everyone has a pen and twelve rectangular sheets in which they’re supposed to write a note to each member. The notes will then be put into a red mailbox to be opened on camera one year from the date it’s uploaded.
Its Christmas time still, closer to New Year’s Day but they’re all decked out in Santa hats and reindeer antlers and warm winter themed sweaters. The filming is a bit rushed because Seungcheol only came up with the idea the previous night and got it approved by management an hour before.

Dino, Vernon and Seungkwan are already done with writing their letters. They’ve moved from the floor and taken one of the cameras to a corner to film themselves playing rock, paper, and scissors. The loser, Vernon is currently trying to express the lyrics of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer using only facial expressions.
Seungcheol, Joshua and Jeonghan have also grabbed a camera. Seungcheol is still trying to write his letters while the other two are taking turns teasing him and talking mindlessly to the camera.

Seokmin, Jihoon and Mingyu are all holding individual cameras, writing their notes as they narrate to their cameras. Hoshi, Wonwoo, Minghao and Jun are around the desk. Jun is now finishing his second note while the others are close to being done. Wonwoo and Hoshi are giggling and singing a medley of random ballads loudly while Minghao chooses to decorate the borders of his notes with tiny drawings of candy canes and snowmen.
After everyone is finished they come together to say their goodbyes to the Going Seventeen camera. After that they leave the Pledis building and get into their vans to go the dorm.

At the dorm, Jeonghan, Seokmin, Vernon and Seungkwan are piling onto the living room floor to spend the rest of the day watching Christmas movies. Jihoon has already headed straight to his room mumbling about finishing off some music he started composing. Joshua has also left for his room saying that he’s going to skype with his mother. Dino and Jun are in the kitchen making ramen under the watchful eyes of Mingyu who is making hoddeok. Seungcheol, Hoshi and Wonwoo are on the bed in Seungcheol’s room playing a new computer game that they’ve now introduced Hoshi to while Minghao is curled up on Seungkwan’s bed taking a nap despite the noise the other three are making. They spend the rest of the day just like that until night falls and they say their good nights and head to their respective rooms.

 

1 Year Later

They’re finishing up a sort of year-in-review video and then going straight into opening up the mailbox from the past year that contains their notes.

Before they can begin Seungcheol asks a very important question, “Are there any notes here that shouldn’t be read out loud?”

“Why are you watching me when you ask this?” pipes up Seungkwan.

“We all know you tend to write weird things,” adds Jihoon.

“Don’t worry I made sure to keep an eye on what Seungkwan hyung was writing. I was sitting right next to him,” says Dino causing Seungkwan to emit an affronted noise.

“Mingyu looks like he wants to say something,” says Vernon whose sitting next to a Mingyu who looks like he wants to disappear into the upholstery.

“Who did you confess your love to Mingyu?” teases Jeonghan.

“I didn’t confess my love to anybody!” shouts Mingyu as Seungkwan mumbles, “It’s probably Wonwoo hyung.”

Mingyu groans, covering his face with his hands as Wonwoo asks, “Why do you think it’s me?”

They all look at him incredulously, including Mingyu.

“Wait, I really wanted to know this” starts Vernon, “was it Mingyu hyung that wrote the letter to Wonwoo hyung during pre-debut?”

“You mean the one saying that he’ll always be there to take care of him and for Wonwoo hyung to come talk to him when he’s having a hard time?” asks Seungkwan, “I really wanted to know that too.”

“I thought that was Hoshi,” says Joshua.

“I don’t know why you all thought it was me. It was definitely Mingyu,” says Hoshi.

“Yes. It was me,” admits Mingyu with a dramatic sigh.

“Let’s get back on track,” says Seungcheol interrupting their crowing, “Mingyu do you need us to remove a letter?”

“I don’t know. I can’t remember what I wrote or how bad it was. Just don’t read it aloud if it’s a note from me,” says Mingyu.

“All of us, or just Wonwoo?” asks Jeonghan.

“Just Wonwoo hyung,” says Mingyu.

“I’ll just paraphrase then,” says Wonwoo mercifully.

They each take turns entering the room, opening the mailbox at the desk and reading their notes.

Some of the notes are funny. Seokmin’s note to Seungcheol is written in banmal and says “Yah, stop sealing my socks! Do you know how expensive socks are? I only have one pair of socks left!”

Some of the notes are heartfelt. Joshua’s note to Hoshi says, “Thanks for taking me home with you for Chuseok. I was lonely because I don’t have any family here. Thanks for always being considerate to hyung.”

Some of the notes are random. Jun writes an acrostic poem using Jihoon’s name, in Mandarin.

“Does this kid know I can’t speak Mandarin? How am I supposed to read this?” says Jihoon.

Mingyu’s note to Wonwoo is illustrated. The bottom is unsigned as usual but there is a drawing of Bong-bongie. This Bong-bongie is wearing a pair of glasses and in his hands is a drawing of a heart. In the heart is written the initials, KMG.

The letter goes, “Hyung, thanks for being by my side always. Every moment that you are with me I am happy. I know that I can be annoying and clingy sometimes so thanks for understanding me when I’m like that. I couldn’t continue to stand on stage or be an idol without you. Thank you for listening to my concerns and problems when I’m having a hard time. Did you know if I was a Carat, I would be your fan? Lastly, thank you for loving me hyung. We’ve been together for many years; I hope we can be together forever. I love you, Jeon Wonwoo.”

The last sentence makes his heart seize before it starts beating at twice the speed. There’s something about how his full name is written that changes the tone of the letter from heart-warming to passionate. Just the one line changes everything. It’s not the first time Mingyu has told him that he loves him but there is something raw about how it’s written that makes his heart feel hot.

He reads only one line to the camera. Everything else feels too personal to share with the world. He knows Mingyu wouldn’t be disappointed that his note only says “Thanks for helping me set up the new computer I bought.” However, he wishes that he was brave enough to write something heartfelt.

Chapter Text

The third letter is written on an old Pizza Hut receipt.

Seventeen is about to have a comeback and Hoshi and Dino have just finished choreographing the dance to the title song. The Performance team members are performing the dance to the cheers of the members. Everyone tends to be in high spirits during their first dance practice. They’re all excited to learn the new dance moves. They all fall into position and the next couple of hours go by quickly as they learn the new moves. The choreography is cheeky but complex. It isn’t the hardest choreography they’ve ever done but they know that the fans would like it.

They break for a couple minutes. Everybody instantly hit the floor as they guzzle bottles of water. There is none of the usual chatter as the members try to catch their breath. They’re all drenched in sweat. Chan is leaning against a mirror and staring into space as he tries to get his pulse to come down, Jeonghan is starfished across the floor; Seungcheol has already left the practice room to meet the Vice-president about the new studio. Vernon, Jun and Minghao are still practicing their hand movements as they sit in a corner, Seokmin and Seungkwan seem to be cuddling as they lie on the floor, Hoshi is still checking out some of his moves in the mirror while Joshua and Woozi are listening to music with a pair of shared earphones.

Mingyu and Wonwoo are sitting next to each other, leaning against the mirror as they sip from their bottles of water when Wonwoo feels fingers poking his stomach. He immediately turns his glare at Mingyu who extracts his hand with a jump.

“What are you doing, Mingyu?” he asks.

“N-nothing” Mingyu stammers out.

He slips his hand into the front pouch of the hoodie to rub the area that Mingyu poked when his hands touches a piece of paper. The paper is crinkled as he takes it out. All it says is “Meet me at the convenience store at midnight.” He rolls the paper back into a ball with a sigh and shoves it into his hoodie’s pocket.

They practice for one more hour and then head to the dorms when it’s 11:00p.m. They say goodnight to the members living on the second floor as the elevator takes the rest of them to their third floor dorm room. It isn’t much quieter now that they’re split into two dorms but Wonwoo still misses having all the members in one place. For years they’ve lived in each other’s space, the absence is felt even if just one member is missing.

He has time only to shower and change before its midnight.

The convenience store is now a fifteen minute walk from their new dorm. It’s close to the Pledis building. They used to frequent the store when they were trainees but they haven’t had many opportunities to visit the store since debuting. The store itself is dark when he arrives. Mingyu is sitting on the wooden table with a black plastic bag at his side. The weather is cold for the ending of spring so they’re both dressed warmly, Mingyu in a navy blue sweater and black track pants and Wonwoo in a long brown coat as he tends to get cold easily.

“The store is already closed?” asks Wonwoo as he climbs onto the table, “I wanted to buy a bag of pretzels.”

Mingyu rummages into the bag and pulls out a bag of salted pretzels chucking it at Wonwoo.

“Thanks,” he replies, opening the bag.

“I bought ice cream too,” says Mingyu, “we should eat that first before it melts.”

“Here, let’s dip the pretzels in the ice cream,” says Wonwoo as they open their chocolate (for Wonwoo) and strawberry (for Mingyu) ice creams.

They slurp their half melted ice cream in companionable silence before Wonwoo asks, “Why’d you decide to have a midnight picnic with me?”

“Just felt like I haven’t seen you in a while,” mutters Mingyu.

“You saw me today,” replies Wonwoo.

“I meant I haven’t had you all to myself for a while,” says Mingyu.

“Ohh,” says Wonwoo as a faint blush appears on his cheeks. “What else have you got there?” he says motioning to the bag.

Mingyu takes out each item. “Triangle kimbap, cheese sandwiches, cola,” he says presenting them to Wonwoo.

“Let’s eat the triangle kimbap now,” says Wonwoo.

“We haven’t been here in a while,” says Mingyu as they eat, “there was a time we used to come here every day after practice.”

“It hasn’t changed much,” says Wonwoo, “we’re too busy to come here as often.”

“I wish we could go out more often,” says Mingyu, “without having to worry about cameras and fans watching our every move.”

“You do go out often though,” says Wonwoo.

“Not with you,” whispers Mingyu.

“You could just ask me,” says Wonwoo.

“I didn’t know you’d want to. I know you prefer staying at the dorm. I didn’t want to pressure you,” says Mingyu.

“You’re not pressuring me. People who are dating go on dates,” says Wonwoo.

Mingyu promptly chokes on a piece of kimbap causing Wonwoo to gently stroke his back.

“I know you don’t like when fans ship us together,” says Mingyu, “you know if we go out they’ll find more reasons to ship us.”

“It used to bother me,” says Wonwoo, “but I’ve realised that it’s something out of our control and therefore I should try to not let it bother me. They’ll ship us together whether they see us together or not. Besides, my ship with Hoshi is growing in popularity so we’ll be more well-known than this ship.”

Mingyu shakes his head, pulling Wonwoo with him to lie down on the table as they silently look at the sky.

“The moon is looking beautiful tonight,” says Wonwoo suddenly.

Mingyu breaks off into a round of high pitched giggles.

“I love you, too,” he says as his laughter subsides.

“Let’s do this again when promotions end,” says Mingyu.

“Let’s do this somewhere else next time,” says Wonwoo.

“Hmm, the mosquitoes will be out by then. We can just go to a restaurant,” says Mingyu.

“What made you think of coming here today?” Wonwoo asks after a while.

“It was the closest place, the most private place,” replies Mingyu.

“How is this private? We’re out in the open,” interrupts Wonwoo.

“-and it was the place we first kissed,” finishes Mingyu. Wonwoo just rolls his eyes and elbows him on the side.

“I’m so full now,” mumbles Wonwoo, “it’s making me sleepy.

“You’re full already because you don’t eat enough,” says Mingyu petulantly, “Did you even eat for today?”

“I had bibimbap,” Wonwoo replies as they lapse into silence.

“Comebacks are tough on everybody,” says Mingyu, “Seungcheol hyung is on a diet again and has been going to gym more regularly and Seungkwan is suddenly putting all sorts of lotions on his skin.”

“At least he isn’t going on a water diet this time,” adds Wonwoo.

“It’s the pressure to be perfect,” says Mingyu.

“You’re perfect just the way you are,” says Wonwoo.

“Yah, why are you being so sappy?” whines Mingyu as he brackets Wonwoo with his arms.

“Because I’m sleepy,” says Wonwoo with a pout.

“Then let’s go back home,” says Mingyu making no effort to move as they continue to just look at each other.

Wonwoo suddenly tilts his chin up. This prompts Mingyu to bring his head down and close the distance between their lips. Mingyu pecks him softly on his lips before adding pressure as they continue to kiss. Wonwoo hooks his arms around Mingyu’s neck as they continue to kiss each other in brief spurts that eventually turn longer and more passionate.

“Let’s go home,” whispers Wonwoo as their lips part.

They quickly chuck their trash in the bin.

“Mingyu, give me a piggyback ride,” says Wonwoo, “just to the end of this road.”

“Hop on, hyung,” he replies. Then they make their way back to the dorms.