Minghao clicked the call button, before taking a deep breath and putting the phone up to his ear. He listened to each ring, his heart racing inside his chest. He closed his eyes as the final ring resounded in his ear and prayed this time didn't hurt as much as the last.
“ Hi, you've reached Jun’s cell phone. If I'm not answering, I'm probably having to do something boring like be an adult at work, or maybe taking a nap. But either way, leave a message and I’ll call you back soon! Bye! ”
The light easy voice of Junhui’s met Minghao’s ear and whichever god heard his silent prayers must've turned their back on him, because it hurt. It hurt more than he cared to admit as he started crying, listening to the tone telling him to record a message. Instead, he hung up and clicked call again.
“ Hi, you've reached Jun’s cell phone. If I'm not answering, I'm probably having to do something boring like be an adult at work, or maybe taking a nap. But either way, leave a message and I’ll call you back soon! Bye! ”
This time, Minghao waited for the tone again and decided to record a message, “you know. It's a sick thing that this is the only way I can hear your voice anymore. You know that right? So keep that in mind, wherever you are. I miss you Junnie.”
He hung up and stared at his phone, debating on calling one more time. He did, listening as it rang in his ear, and in the bed next to him, the phone vibrated, chirping out the annoying ringtone Junhui had insisted on having.
“Calling it isn't going to help.” Jeonghan’s voice said as he came into the room. He had been staying in the guest room, so he could be close by if Minghao needed him.
Minghao held up a finger, waiting as he listened to Junhui’s voice again, more tears falling down his face. Once the message finished, he hung up and looked at Jeonghan. “How do you know it's not going to help?”
“Cause when you're not calling it, I am.” Jeonghan said before going over. He sat next to Minghao and looked at him, “are you going to come today?”
“Do I have to?” Minghao whispered.
“Well it'd be appreciated. His parents are going to be there, so is Fengjun.” Jeonghan said, “you can stay next to Shua and I, if it helps.”
Minghao sighed. He didn't want to. He didn't want to see the looks Junhui’s family would have. But Junhui would yell at him for not going. “Yeah. I'll come. Long as I can stay with you and Joshua.”
“Definitely.” Jeonghan took a chance and ran a hand through Minghao’s hair gently, watching him with careful eyes. “I'm sorry.”
Minghao hated those two words. He had heard them enough the past thirty-six hours. More than he'd heard it in his entire life he was sure. It was the only thing anyone could say to him it seemed. Which, he had to admit, it was better than the looks. The look he had gotten at the police station, the look he had gotten when Seungcheol, Jeonghan, and Joshua had come to his rescue. The look he had gotten when Jeonghan said he was staying in the guest room in case he needed him. The look he got from his parents when he facetimed them. It was getting old. And he still had the rest of their friend group to see. So he'd get at least nine more looks, plus the looks from Junhui’s family.
“Everyone is.” Minghao finally said.
“We don't know what else to say Minghao. Of all the words we learn there's never a word for something like this.” Jeonghan said.
“This. Just say what is Jeonghan. My fiancé is dead.” Minghao said humorlessly. His voice cracked and more tears rushed to the front of his eyes. He thought he had cried all he could, but he was definitely wrong.
“I swear to God if you tell me your sorry I’ll make sure you feel it.” Minghao whispered.
Jeonghan nodded and instead pulled him into his arms. He closed his eyes, crying a little too. The car accident had shaken all of them. After the oldest three friends had come to the police station to bring Minghao home, they explained to their younger friends to wait a little bit, to give Minghao a chance to grieve. That meant the younger friends had gone to Joshua and Seungcheol, while Jeonghan took care of Minghao.
“I wish I had known. I would've said goodbye. A proper goodbye. Not our usual, ‘I’ll see you after work. Do you need me to pick anything up on the way home? I love you’ . That's just-Jun deserved more.” Minghao whispered.
“And what did he deserve?” Jeonghan asked.
“More than just a whole bunch of domestic bullshit.” Minghao cried. “He deserved to know how I felt.”
“How do you know?” Junhui asked staring at the sky.
“Know what?” Minghao looked at him.
“Know that I'm the one for you?” Junhui asked. “Like is it this burst of fireworks? Or butterflies in the stomach? Or-or time slows down whenever we’re together? Or-”
“Because of all that.” Minghao answered, and Junhui looked at him. “Because when I look at you, I Just-I can feel it Jun. My heart is just pulled to you. It doesn't want anyone but you. When we're together, I feel like I can never get enough of you and that I need you to breathe. Without you, I'd die.”
Junhui giggled, a blush on his face, “that's a bit dramatic.”
“It's true.” Minghao smiled. He stepped closer to him and wrapped his arms around him, “and if something were to ever happen to you, I'd spend my entire life searching for you.”
Junhui smiled, “I love you so much.”
“I love you too Jun. With everything in my entire soul, I love you.”
Minghao cleared his throat, looking down at the paper. The words were blurry, and he doubted he'd be able to read them anyways. So instead he folded the paper up and tucked it into a pocket. He looked and saw Jeonghan and Joshua, across the aisle from Junhui’s parents and a teenaged Fengjun. Next to them and behind them were the rest of their friends. Seokmin, Chan, and Seungcheol sat next to Joshua and Jeonghan, then the next row had Wonwoo, Jihoon, Seungkwan, Vernon, Mingyu and Soonyoung. They are were within different stages of crying, Chan and Fengjun being the most painful ones to see.
“Junhui was, everything to me.” Minghao said starting off. “He was the sunlight that got in my eyes too early in the morning, that I didn't mind because it meant-it meant he was there. He was the music I heard, constantly cause he was always humming, even while cleaning.”
A few laughs happened, remembering the moments with Junhui that they had experienced that.
“He was- he was my best friend.” Minghao started crying again and he glanced at the picture that sat nearby, a cheerful smile looking back at him, “he made getting up in the mornings worth it. He made everything exciting. He made the world full of color. He could light up any room he walked into, and make even the most grumpy person smile. Just by being himself. He made me laugh, so much. His sense of humor was ridiculous, but that doesn't mean I wasn't craving it every second.”
Jeonghan gave a comforting smile through the tears that fell down his face. He nodded, to encourage Minghao to keep going.
“My-my favorite thing though was at two in the morning sometimes. I'd go downstairs and there he was, just standing in the kitchen, and when he'd see me, he didn't care that it was a stupid time, or that there was no music. He'd wrap me up in his arms and we danced.” Minghao closed his eyes and smiled at the memory, “I don't know what shined brighter. The moon coming in through the window, or Junnie’s eyes.”
“Babe, its two in the morning. What are you doing awake?” Minghao asked as he walked into the kitchen. His sweatpants sat low on his hips, and his hair was messy as he rubbed at his eyes.
Junhui turned to Minghao, his smile bright, even though it was a stupid hour in the morning. The older had on a pair of sweats and one of Minghao’s hoodies. His hair was messy too, but Minghao couldn’t believe how breathtaking the older was. “Hao! Hi!”
“Jun, babe I love you but 2 AM is too early for your peppy. Or late. Whatever. What are you doing up?” Minghao laughed leaning against the counter, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Couldn’t sleep. So I figured I’d come look at the stars and make some tea.” Junhui gestured to the stove where water was slowly coming to a boil, “did I wake you up?”
“No, you didn’t babe.” Minghao smiled at the concerned expression Junhui had.
“Good.” Junhui smiled, “would you like some tea?”
“Sure,” Minghao nodded.
“Good. It’s gonna be a minute though. I kind of forgot to turn the heat on when I first started it.” Junhui gave Minghao one of his shy playful smiles, his shoulders raising up with a silent laugh.
Minghao could’ve sworn at that moment that he couldn’t possibly love Junhui anymore than he felt right then. He stepped closer, “that’s alright.”
Junhui smiled again, wrapping his arms around Minghao’s waist and pulling him close, “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Minghao smiled, moving his arms to wrap around Jun, just under his arms, a hand sliding up under the hoodie, resting against Junhui’s back that was warm.
Junhui hummed, leaning down to kiss his forehead before slowly swaying from side to side with Minghao. As he did, and Minghao relaxed, he made it more so that they were dancing.
Minghao adjusted again how he stood, holding one of Jun’s hands in his own, his other arm wrapped around his shoulders. Junhui’s other arm rested around Minghao’s waist.
A smile was on Junhui’s face as they danced, and Minghao took a picture in his mind. He loved the man in front of him. More than he ever thought he could.
When the water was boiling, Junhui kissed him softly before pulling away and pulling two mugs out of the cupboard. He put together their teas, handing Minghao his steaming cup with and other warm smile.
“Thank you.” Minghao whispered, loving the comfortable silence that wrapped around them.
“You're welcome.” Junhui hummed softly.
The couch next to Minghao dipped as someone sat next to him. He didn't look up to see who it was, it wasn't the one person he wanted most.
“Hey,” Seungcheol said softly, almost like a sigh. “H-How are you doing?”
Minghao shrugged, tears filling his eyes again, which made him angry. He was tired of crying. He hated when he cried, it made his eyes puffy, and his chest hurt.
“It's okay, to not be okay. Y’know?” Seungcheol said. Minghao finally looked up at him. Seungcheol looked just as awful as he felt. His hair was a little messy, though it looked like he had tried to fix it, his eyes were red rimmed, and under his nose was red as if he had been rubbing it.
“Hyung, are you okay?” Minghao asked sitting up.
“Oh yeah I'm okay.” Seungcheol nodded.
Minghao stared at him, “hyung. It's okay to not be okay. You just told me that yourself. Is it about Jun?”
At the mention of his fiancé, his friend’s eyes filled with tears and even though he had that look Minghao hated, he also hated seeing how broken his friend was. “Y-yeah.”
Minghao reached over and pulled Seungcheol into a hug, crying with him and rubbing his back. “It's okay hyung. You can cry about him.”
Seungcheol cried for a little longer, not responding until he took a deep breath, “I'm sorry. I came to comfort you, and here I am, getting comforted by you.”
“That's okay.” Minghao laughed a little through his tears. He wiped them away, watching as Seungcheol did the same with his own, “want to hear how Junnie and I really met?”
“What do you mean?” Seungcheol’s eyebrows pulled together as he looked at him confused.
Minghao almost laughed, but he was already feeling the embarrassment from the story he and Junhui had sworn they'd never tell anyone. Please forgive me for telling him baby , Minghao thought. “When Jihoon hyung introduced us that wasn't the first time we met.”
“When was the first time then?” Seungcheol asked.
“Remember the party Mingyu and Soonyoung threw, the really big one?” Minghao asked.
Seungcheol thought for a minute before nodding, “the one that someone ended up getting laid in the bathroom and Mingyu was complaining it wasn't him?”
Minghao nodded, pressing his lips together. He waited, wondering if Seungcheol would get it on his own or if he'd have to say it out loud. When he was about to open his mouth and say it, Seungcheol’s eyes lit up.
“You and Jun were the ones who had sex in the bathroom?!” Seungcheol said.
Minghao almost laughed again but nodded, a blush raising to his cheeks, finally color to his face that wasn't caused by grief.
“Oh my god! Are you serious?! Mingyu complained for weeks that he was the one who didn't get sex during his own party, meanwhile it was you two the entire time.” Seungcheol laughed softly and shook his head, “why didn't you tell us?”
“Are you kidding?” Minghao laughed. “If we had you guys wouldn't have let us live it down!”
“Yeah we would've!” Seungcheol laughed. Minghao raised an eyebrow making the older laugh again, “okay. You're right. But did you guys know it was each other when Jihoon introduced you?”
“Oh yeah. I wanted to run away or fall into a hole. That was so awful.” Minghao laughed a little at the memory. “We were so embarrassed and afraid you would find out.”
“Were you in love with him then?” Seungcheol asked.
Minghao shook his head, “no. Not yet. But I had a feeling he'd be in my life, and an important part of it.” He let out a quiet laugh that was interrupted by a sob as he thought about the man he was supposed to have been marrying in a few months. “And I was right. He was.”
Seungcheol hugged Minghao. “He loved you so much Minghao.”
“I know,” Minghao cried hugging Seungcheol. “Why did this have to happen?”
“I don't know. I wish it didn't.” Seungcheol whispered letting Minghao cry. He couldn't expect anything more from the younger.
“Are we ever going to tell them?” Junhui asked, laying on his stomach, his arms crossed on the bed and his chin resting on them. Minghao sat next to him, tracing patterns into his back, the blanket covering just below Junhui’s waist giving Minghao a perfect view of the dimples in Junhui’s lower back.
“And let them bug us for the rest of our lives?” Minghao laughed softly. He was wearing a pair of sweats that he had pulled on after, wanting to clean them both up a bit. “Let Mingyu’s complaining to Soonyoung hyung that they didn't have sex be all we hear of that party from them.”
“I mean technically they know,” Junhui said, turning his head to look up at Minghao. “They know someone had sex in the bathroom.”
“All because somebody couldn't stay quiet.” Minghao teased, leaning down and kissing his lover softly, “Besides. They don't know it's us. For all they know it could be some random ass couple.”
“Hey, don't blame me for that one. You're the reason I wasn't quiet.” Junhui pointed a finger at Minghao, which the younger joked that he would bite, making the older squeal and gently slap his thigh.
“Can't blame me either.” Minghao laughed. When Junhui raised an eyebrow he laughed, “fine. I'll take the blame, if we don't tell them we had sex in Mingyu and Soonyoung's bathroom.”
“Deal,” Junhui grinned.
Minghao laughed, “god I love you.” He froze, not looking at Junhui. It was the first time he told Junhui that. They had known each other for three months now, but still neither one had said it, or asked the other out.
Junhui was quiet for a moment before he sat up, pulling the blanket over himself again. “Do you?”
Minghao took a deep breath before looking at Junhui. He saw that the older wasn't angry though, instead he looked hopeful. “Ye-yeah. I do. I love you Wen Junhui.”
“I love you too.” Junhui said softly, “I love you so much Xu Minghao.”
Minghao felt butterflies in his stomach as he smiled and leaned forward, a hand on Junhui’s cheek, “will you be my boyfriend?”
“Definitely.” Junhui smiled.
Minghao smiled back before kissing Junhui, his heart racing. He was definitely in love.
“Hey,” Jihoon knelt in front of Minghao, “the rest of us are going to go out for a couple drinks. Would you like to come? Get a chance to get out for a little bit?”
Minghao looked at his friend. He didn't have that look, but instead it was a different one. Like he was unsure about bringing the younger out for drinks.
“You can say no. But Mingyu and Seokmin wanted me to ask.” Jihoon said. That answered the question Minghao had. Jihoon was asking cause he knew the others would push, even without meaning to and he wanted to give Minghao the opportunity to say no.
“Can I leave when I'm ready?” Minghao asked.
“Definitely. I'll even pay for the taxi myself.” Jihoon said.
Minghao felt relieved with his friend’s answer and nodded. “Yeah. I'll come.”
“Cool. Come on, you, me and Wonwoo are riding together.” Jihoon smiled. He stood and offered a hand to Minghao.
Minghao took it, standing with Jihoon’s help. They left the apartment together where Wonwoo was waiting and got into the taxi. Jihoon told the driver the bar they were meeting everyone else at before texting the others what he and Minghao had agreed on.
Minghao watched out the window, feeling an uneasiness in his chest. It was his first time going out since the accident. Almost eight months. The next weekend was supposed to be when he and Junhui were going to be married. This weekend was supposed to be the last party they'd have before then, making Minghao’s chest clench. He took a deep breath and felt a hand on his knee.
“Are you sure Hao? I'll stay in with you instead.” Wonwoo offered.
Minghao could tell Jihoon was watching too and shook his head, “I'm not sure. But maybe I need to tough through this.”
“As soon as you can't do it anymore tell us.” Jihoon said.
“We can leave with you.” Wonwoo nodded.
Minghao nodded, thankful for his friends. He knew the others felt th same too, but having Jihoon and Wonwoo said it helped. “Thank you.”
Wonwoo squeezed his knee gently as the taxi got to the bar. Jihoon climbed out first and then the other two followed before Jihoon peeked back in handing the driver money and thanking him.
Then he stood, looking at the other two, “ready?”
“As much as I can be.” Minghao promised, figuring it was a question for himself. He followed his friends into the bar and couldn't help but smile a little as their other friends began shouting over the music to him. He walked over, almost on autopilot, forcing himself to not think about how Junhui would be yelling just as loud, just to be loud. About how Junhui would have a drink in his hand, singing along to the song, messing up the words but not caring because he was surrounded by their friends.
“Hey, glad you came.” Mingyu offered a drink with a gentle smile, “how are you?”
“I'm okay.” Minghao said softly. He smiled at Mingyu and took a drink before looking at the others who all smiled at him, obviously glad he had come. “Thank you, for inviting me.”
“We’re glad you're here Hao,” Joshua said gently. He smiled at the younger. Everyone must've shared their thoughts because they all nodded.
Minghao smiled and tired of the looks he got, and knowing Junhui would be mad at them for being so sedated, he took a deep breath before saying what he was sure his fiancé would say, “alright. Enough of this calm shit. Let's have some fun.”
Everyone smiled and Mingyu and Seokmin were the first two to cheer, excited that Minghao had said that.
Minghao smiled and downed the rest of his drink. He was going to make himself have fun. Junhui would want that. He grabbed another drink and looked at his friends, “to Junnie!”
Even though the idea hurt, the rest of them smiled and grabbed drinks, holding them up to Minghao’s, “to Jun!”
They downed their drinks, the burning of the alcohol a contrast to the burning they all felt.
Several drinks later, Minghao felt buzzed, and he was doing his best having fun, but when a guy asked him to dance and he agreed, he could already feel the buzz wearing off and instead a heavy feeling in the pit of his stomach.
The guy, who's name Minghao couldn't remember, leaned forward and asked him something, but Minghao couldn't hear him. Instead regret rang heavy in his ears.
He licked his lips, looking all the guy confused, “what?”
This time, the guy touched his hip, leaning closer. He said what he had before again, but Minghao definitely didn't hear him. The feeling of regret bubbling up like vomit.
“Excuse me.” He said quickly before leaving. He made his way through the crowd, pushing his way through until he made it to the bathroom. He went into a stall and leaned against the divider, a gasp escaping his lips as he wrapped his arms around himself. He wanted to throw up, but instead he cried. His body shook with how hard he sobbed and he slowly sank to the floor. The pulsating music made his head pound even more than the crying did, but it was the guilt that made him feel sick.
Soonyoung was the one who found him. He didn't say anything but wrap his arms around Minghao, holding him close. He let Minghao cry, petting his hair softly and crying a little himself. After a little bit, he cleared his throat. “Do you want to leave?”
Minghao nodded, but made no effort to move.
“Talk to me?” Soonyoung asked softly.
Minghao debated against it before deciding Soonyoung was someone safe. “This isn't fucking fair. He should be here. He should've been the one I was dancing with. He would've loved this. He'd be having so much fun.”
“I agree. And it's bullshit he's not here.” Soonyoung said.
“I-I don't want anyone but him hyung.” Minghao admitted. “I don't want to love anyone but him.”
Soonyoung nodder, holding his friend. He couldn't blame Minghao. What he had with Junhui had been special. They were a match everyone had decided was what soulmates were made of.
“And I know he'd want me to be happy without him. But if I am, it means he's gone. And-and I can't admit that. He's the only one I'll ever love.” Minghao sobbed.
Soonyoung cried with Minghao. “I'm so sorry Hao.”
“I am too.” Minghao whispered.
“Forever?” Junhui asked looking at the ring that sat in the velvet box Minghao held. His own hands shook, and his eyes watered.
“Forever. You're the one I love Junnie. The one I'm going to love for the rest of my life, and whatever comes after that. I don't want anyone but you. If you'll have me.” Minghao’s own eyes were watery too as he looked at Junhui. His heart raced as he waited.
Junhui nodded, “I will. I definitely will.”
Minghao sighed relieved. He took the ring out and with shaky hands, put it on Junhui’s finger before standing. He pulled Junhui into a hug and held him. “I love you. I love you forever.”
“I love you forever too.” Junhui whispered.
Minghao pulled back and kissed Junhui with everything he had inside him. He loved the older, more than any words in every language could ever begin to say.