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First, there is touch.

The sand sticks to his skin, soft and warm he can almost feel each individual grain. It is something he is used to, feeling it under his palms and bared feet, in his clothes and even his hair. It’s easy to get used to it when it’s all you feel growing up – soft sand carrying you home.

Second, there is hearing.

The sound of water washing up the bay as it comes up to lick shyly at their feet is calming as it can be. He can hear birds somewhere, their singing nothing but white noise as the hours pass by. Waves crash by the shore somewhere up north, and he knows this sounds like home.

Third, there is smell.

The unmistakable smell of saltwater and wet sand fills up his lungs and makes him feel like he is drowning, but without the feeling of actually drowning. The smell of lilacs is faint and barely carries through the air around them, but it’s there as it has always been – familiar, friendly, comforting.

Fourth, there is taste.

The ocean feels heavy on his tongue, like he’s had glasses and glasses of its water to drink. There is also strawberry, from the popsicles they had on their way down to the beach and mango from the juice he got not even ten minutes ago. The peppermint taste of his toothpaste is long gone.

And, then, there is sight.

Yuta allows his eyes to flutter open, nose scrunching at the way sunlight is suddenly being blocked. As far as he can remember, there wasn’t a single cloud to be seen in the sky, so there should be no reason for the massive star to be obscured. The first thing he sees, through his eyelashes, are the dark tips of Taeyong’s hair falling over his face. It takes him a while to register everything else – Taeyong’s impossibly pitch-black eyes, the hard press of his lips, the halo the sun gives him as he blocks off its light.

“What?” he asks in a murmur, Taeyong’s unsettlingly deep eyes staring straight into his soul.

The line of his lips tightens, a gentle frown settling between his brows.

“You’ve been quiet,” is all he says, unmoving from where he hovers over Yuta’s head. “You’re not usually quiet.”

“Excuse me?” Yuta scoffs, pretending to be hurt. “I’m plenty quiet!”

Taeyong sits back on his spot with a huff, sunlight suddenly hitting his eyes too brightly. He squints for a while, sitting back up and dusting his hands on his jeans. There is a remarkably Taeyong pout on his lips, arms crossed over his knees.

“If you don’t wanna say it then just tell me…”

Yuta turns his back to the sea, twisting his body so he is fully facing Taeyong. The wind is blowing gently on his face, brushing his hair away from his forehead and Yuta can’t help but notice the nostalgia that stirs in the pits of his stomach.

“I’ve just been wondering,” he says with a sigh, voice definitely smaller than usual. “Now that high school’s over, you know… I’m not sure where life’s gonna take me.”

Taeyong hums, eyes downcast to where their toes dig into soft, white sand. He looks deep in thought, like he wants to say something, but Yuta doesn’t press. He knows Taeyong will say it when he feels ready, whenever that ends up being.

“We could… just have a good time. For a while.” A small smile pulls at the corners of his lips, and Yuta finds himself smiling back at him. Small, a bit shy, but it is definitely there. “It’s summer, after all. Then we can figure out what we want to do.”

It is summer, indeed, heat pooling sticky in the dips of his collarbones, clinging to his joints and the curves of his muscles. It’s hot, likely unbearable to the regular human, but he thinks it’s quite nice like this; gentle wind blowing on his hair, the sound of nature giving him peace of mind.

And Taeyong, of course, sitting across him looking like an ethereal being like he usually does.

Summer means endless hours by the beach, by the pool back at his house, downing ice-cold lemonade and eating popsicles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It means listening to each other ramble, sand sticking to their napes and to their hair, watching the sky turn pink, then orange, then fade into the deepest of blacks.

It means getting clammy hands and swallowing up feelings, words buried deep in the pits of his stomach. It means dealing with the butterflies and the stutters, the burning of his cheeks when he is stared at for too long, too fondly, too deeply.

“You’re doing it again,” Taeyong says, softly, cheek squished on his forearm. Yuta swallows around the lump in his throat.

It has been hours and they’re still sitting by the shore, sky now twisting in pinks and purples, and he can’t grasp his thoughts around anything in particular. All he can think about are the waves crashing, the sea at their feet and Taeyong’s fingers brushing over his arm.

He is too close, and Yuta can’t breathe.

He can see goosebumps raise on his skin, and maybe they should head back home soon, but despite how chilly it is starting to get Taeyong doesn’t budge. A thought pops in his head and the ghost of words dance on the tip of his tongue, words he tries hard to swallow down and bury so deep down they won’t threaten to surface again.

He doesn’t know what he says, can’t remember the moment he even opens his mouth to give him a reply, and it’s a bit ridiculous how he can’t look away from how Taeyong’s lashes flutter, jet black eyes now staring right back at him. He can see the way they twinkle when his smile grows bigger, the sound of his laughter coming up in hiccups being carried away by the wind, saying, “Is that what you’ve been thinking about?”

There are a million things he wants to say, things he wishes he could do; things he thinks he might never have the courage to do. He wants to say no, wants to ramble out all his thoughts even though they are a bit embarrassing and probably make no sense, but he thinks to say, “sometimes it’s all I can think about.”

And he doesn’t even know what he is replying to, can’t remember the words he said, but it’s a lie, a bad one at that. But he can’t bring himself to say the truth. Taeyong’s smile grows bigger, if that is even possible.

“We don’t know a lot of things,” Yuta looks back at him and notices his smile doesn’t waver, though it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. He wants to ask, to pry, but he chooses to keep quiet instead. He knows Taeyong will eventually open up if he feels like it. “And I think that’s okay.”

Taeyong lies down next to him, stares up at the sky instead of the ocean. If he tries hard enough, focuses hard enough, it’s just the two of them at this beach, in the vast immensity that is the world. Trapped in this small island of theirs, isn’t that their whole world? It is everything they have ever known of and everything he has grown to care about.

An island known by its fruits and flowers, by its welcoming citizens and friendly atmosphere. A place with so many different beaches and beautiful sceneries, where everyone knows one another. With houses lining along the coast and going up the hills, spreading across the island in simple little maps – that’s all Yuta has ever known of.

He dreams of spreading out his wings and venturing out in the world, meeting new places and new faces – of course he does. It’s only natural, he thinks, when you grow up like this – trapped in this small island of theirs. He dreams big and wants to soar high, but right now he thinks it is quite okay to be where they are. It’s where he needs to be.

“I have something to tell you,” Taeyong’s voice is quiet, small even, when he speaks again.

Yuta turns his head only to find Taeyong already looking at him, biting the insides of his cheeks. He has noticed it’s something he does when he can’t bite his nails out of nervousness. He swallows down his own nerves. “Say it, then.”

Taeyong stares at him for a while, brows furrowing in what Yuta reads as worry. Something flashes in his eyes for a very brief second, right before he looks away. “Later. Later I’ll tell you.”

Yuta rolls to his side, sand sticking to his skin. “Come on, you’re really just gonna plant the seed and not tell me what it is?”

The sky is starting to darken– they should be heading back home. Taeyong pouts. “I promise I’ll tell you later. We should go back anyways; my mom doesn’t want us coming home late.”

Taeyong is quickly on his feet, dusting sand off his clothes before offering a helping hand to him. Yuta takes it with ease, Taeyong’s hold strong on his hand as he pulls him up and off the ground. They walk back towards the road in silence, though it’s not at all uncomfortable – it’s something they are used to, to be comfortable in their silence.

Taeyong’s house is a block away from their little hideout at the beach, going north and barely up the hill. It’s right next to his mother’s flower shop, which is next door to Yuta’s parents’ bakery, and that’s pretty much why they have known each other since birth. Yuta’s house is a little further up the hill, where shops don’t quite reach and a more residential area has settled.

The house is quiet when they walk in and Yuta would think Taeyong’s mother isn’t home wasn’t for the light coming from the kitchen and the sound the boiling pots make on the stove, the remarkable smell of her homemade soup easily reaching the front door.

“Ma, we’re here,” Taeyong announces loud enough for her to hear, placing his slides by the front door.

“Oh dear, welcome home!” she sounds delighted and a bit relieved to hear her son’s voice again. She certainly looks like it when she pops up at the kitchen’s door frame. “Yuta, hello to you too!”

He waves, flashing over a smile. “Thank you for having me over, auntie.”

When she smiles, it’s startling how much it looks like Taeyong’s. “Come on, Yuta, you’re family too. You don’t have to thank me!”

“Thank you,” he says again, out of reflex, and Taeyong snorts at him.

“Taeyong, have you told Yuta about the news?”

His head snaps towards Taeyong in time to see something akin to panic flash across his face. “What news?”

“I haven’t yet, mom.” Taeyong is trying to stay collected but Yuta notices the way his voice wavers.

“What news?” he asks again, holding onto Taeyong’s elbow and nudging for him to look at him. Taeyong doesn’t budge.

“Oh,” is all his mom says, her face dropping a little. “Well, I’ll leave you boys be for now. I’ll call once dinner is ready.”

Taeyong stalks down the hallway and into his bedroom, not bothering to tell him to tag along. Yuta bows once to his mother instead of thanking her again, skipping towards Taeyong’s room before he has the chance to close the door behind him. When he walks in, Taeyong is sitting right in the middle of his bed, clearly sulking.

“You’re getting sand all over your bedsheets,” he comments, leaning against the doorframe. It’s funny every time it happens, the way Taeyong jumps off the mattress as if it’s catching on fire, and Yuta would easily laugh hadn’t the mood dropped after what his mother had said.

Taeyong makes his way to his dresser and pulls out some spare clothes, both for himself and for Yuta. He makes quick work on getting undressed and dressed again, and Yuta tries to think past the way he feels hot around the collar of his shirt when Taeyong shimmies off his shorts.

“We should take a shower,” he tries weakly, not really looking at Taeyong as he shrugs off his shirt.

“We can do that later,” he sounds so serious Yuta is starting to feel nervous. Rare are the times Taeyong sounds like this, and whenever he does it isn’t pretty. “I need to tell you something.”

“Can you relax?” he tries to laugh his nerves off, walking in and standing next to Taeyong on his bed. “No need to sound so serious.”

It takes a while for Taeyong to speak again and it’s starting to get hard for him to swallow down his questions and his nervousness. He tries not to mind the way his palms get sweaty, the way his heart beats just a little bit faster when Taeyong knocks his shoulder into him. He takes a look at Taeyong, really looks at him, and for the first time he notices the dark circles under his eyes and how tired he looks.

“I’m moving.”

It feels like a scene straight out of a movie. Everything stops moving, the world goes mute, and all he can hear is the beating of his heart; pounding loudly, crushing his bones, making it hurt. He knows he is being dramatic, but he feels weak at the knees, like the floor gave way and he’s fucking falling, crushing his bones as he does.

He can’t speak. His tongue is heavy in his mouth, dry. There is a lump in his throat he can’t seem to swallow past, and he also kind of can’t really see?

Are those tears?

He can feel more than he can hear Taeyong rushing over to him because he still can’t hear a thing other than the loud beating of his heart. A hand on his shoulder, fingers gripping tight, shaking him. He tries to look up, to hear what Taeyong is saying, tries to shake himself off to no avail.

“What?” he chokes out, broken.

Taeyong pulls him into a hug, warm and so much like home he can’t help but silently cry into his shoulder, dampen the fabric of shirt. He can feel himself shake and Taeyong pulls him into the room, legs weak until they give way and they fall onto the mattress.

“Yuta, fuck, I didn’t–” Taeyong’s hands are warm on his cheeks, lifting his head up, wiping the wetness away. It makes him sob a little harder. “I didn’t think you’d react like this, I’m so sorry.”

“Are you serious? You’re moving?

Taeyong’s shoulders slump, a familiar pout making its way back to his lips. Yuta tries to look at him again, at the bags under his eyes, how stressed and defeated he looks. It is true, he realizes as Taeyong averts his gaze, dropping his to his lap.

It feels like there are claws digging into his heart, shredding it to pieces.

“I… my mom got an offer to open a branch for her shop back in the capital and she said yes. I didn’t know how to tell you. I kept trying to find the perfect moment, but it never came up. Yuta, I’m so sorry.”

His hands have fallen to his lap, fingers twisting the hem of his shirt so tightly the fabric wrinkles. Yuta wants to scream, to yell at him because he’s upset, because he’s hurt, because he can’t believe this is happening.

He wants to say the words he has been burying for so long, the words that threaten to spill every time Taeyong so much as smiles at him. I’m in love with you, idiot, is what he wants to say, to sob into his shoulder. He wants to hold him tight and close and never let go.

“You can’t go,” is the easiest route he chooses to take. His heavy heart doesn’t ease. “You can’t just leave like that, Yongie.”

“Yuta, I have to.” He still isn’t looking at him. Yuta can feel the scream in his chest, building up.

This isn’t right. This isn’t supposed to happen – not right now. They are in their late teens, decoding life together, just like they have been for the past how many years. An entire life of them being the perfect dynamic duo just… ending like that.

This isn’t right at all.

“You know I have to,” Taeyong whispers, sounding close to tears himself. “I’m sorry.”

He can’t let things end like this.

“No, it’s–” he quickly dabs his eyes dry with the sleeve of his shirt, as well as his runny nose. “It’s okay. This is fine. This isn’t your fault, and hey– you’re still here, aren’t you?”

Taeyong looks up at him again, eyes glistening, welling up. Yuta smiles weakly through the sound of his heart shattering into pieces.

“When are you moving?” he nudges on, holding Taeyong’s hand in his, hoping the other won’t notice he is shaking.

Taeyong sniffles back his fresh tears. “By the end of summer. It was the deadline they gave my mom.”

It’s too soon. They don’t have enough time. Yuta feels like he is grasping at straws, trying to think over his screaming brain. It’s not enough time but he has to make it work.

“Good,” he lies, smile still on his lips. Positivity is key, he tells himself. “That should be enough.”

Taeyong frowns, squeezing his hand a bit tighter. They stick together and he can’t tell if it’s his palm or Taeyong’s sweating. Maybe both.

“Enough for what?”

“Lee Taeyong,” he broadens his smile, trying to get a brighter look on Taeyong’s face. “I’m about to give you the best summer of your life, one you will never forget. A summer break so good it will change our lives forever. I just need you to tell me– are you ready?”

 

🌊

 

He doesn’t know why he didn’t expect Taeyong to say yes, but he did and now Yuta has to come up with a plan on how to give Taeyong the best summer of his life. It’s not that he is boring or doesn’t know how to have fun – he is the complete opposite of that. It’s just that he was unprepared, didn’t think it through and now here he is.

Standing in the middle of his room, staring out of the window, thinking. Taeyong is going to knock on his door any moment now, ready to go, and he still doesn’t know what to do. He barely even has his damn clothes on.

There is a gentle tap on his window, one that could be easily mistaken for the tree branch tapping on glass as the wind blows wasn’t for the fact that it is getting harsher, louder. Then there is a hand and Yuta screams, so loud his throat hurts. Taeyong lets himself into his room, squeezing past the frame and over the windowsill. Yuta thinks his heart will beat itself out of his chest.

“What the fuck is wrong with you,” he wheezes out, clutching his heart, and Taeyong only gives him a smile in reply.

He can’t focus on anything else that isn’t Taeyong. Taeyong, sitting in his bed. Taeyong, smiling stupidly at him. Taeyong, looking through his collection of mangas and comics for the millionth time. Taeyong, humming softly to a song Yuta recognizes to have played on the radio a couple days ago.

It’s ridiculous how he struggles to even put his pants on, brain seemingly frozen by every little thing Taeyong does. He wishes he knew how to deal with this stupid crush of his. He wishes he knew how to not get tongue-tied whenever Taeyong acted cute or asked something that shouldn’t make his heart flutter but does. He wishes he didn’t have a stupid crush on his stupid best friend, but he figures that’s not how this feelings thing works.

Taeyong asks him what he wants to do, and he doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t know what he wants to do, all he knows is that he wants to spend as much time together with him as humanly possible.

They settle for taking a walk along the shore, sand warm under their bared feet. He likes it like this – peace and quiet, basking under the sun and in each other’s presence. It’s comfortable if anything, the sound of waves crashing drowning out the yelling of his thoughts.

They walk aimlessly for what feels like hours, coming and going until their legs grow tired and they stop to cool off. The sun is now starting to set, the sky turning the familiar shade of orange, and Yuta tries not to think about the way his heart skips a beat when Taeyong leans his head on his shoulder.

“I’m gonna miss you,” he mumbles, so quiet Yuta almost misses it over the sound of his heart beating.

“I’m gonna miss you too,” he answers.

Easy. Open. Vulnerable.

 

🌊

 

“Hey, so… there’s this party,” Yuta chirps in one day they are chilling by the pool, soaking in sunlight. “I think we should go.”

Taeyong frowns, turning over his lounge chair. “Whose party?”

“There is this guy, Taeil,” he doesn’t know if Taeyong knows him, but by the look on his face Yuta thinks he likely doesn’t. “He’s a regular at the bakery, has been for the past year or so. In any case – he’s throwing a party this weekend, over at his house. Think his parents will be out of town? Or something. He invited me, told me to bring whoever I want.”

“Do you… think that’s a good idea?” Taeyong sounds hesitant, but Yuta knows if he were to say no he would have said it already.

He smiles brightly.

“I mean, we’ve never been to a house party before, so we might as well?” Taeyong doesn’t reply, so he keeps pushing. “Make the most out of it, Yongie.”

It’s enough to put a smile on his face, and Yuta beams right back at him. He nods and they sit in silence for a second, through it only lasts as long as it takes him to come up with something else to chat about.

It might not be a good idea, to go to a party somewhere he has never been to, from someone he also doesn’t really know much of, but it might also turn out to be a very good idea and he really thinks it’s worth giving it a shot. Taeil seems like a nice guy and totally not like a murderer, too. He knows they are going to be fine.

 

 

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Taeyong yells over the loud music as if they aren’t already there. As if he isn’t clad in tight-fitting jeans and a leather jacket, hair pushed back and eyeliner smudged on his eyelids.

Yuta can’t stop staring.

“We already made all the way here, we might as well!” Yuta yells back, trying to avert his eyes off his friend.

He kind of understands why Taeyong is so hesitant to be here, though. There are too many people and they have never seen most of them before. The music is too loud, strobe lights making their eyes hurt, and there is so much booze around he hardly thinks anyone in the vicinity is sober – expect for the two of them.

“You came!” Taeil yells, pushing a can of beer into his hand and then another into Taeyong’s. They accept it with small smiles, taking a sip of the beverage. It’s bitter and he isn’t really sure he likes it. “Please make yourself at home and have fun! Bathroom’s upstairs, though I don’t know who’s in there or what they’re doing, so if you have to pee, I’d say just do it in the bushes outside.”

Taeyong laughs into his can, eyes twinkling as he looks over to Yuta with a raised brow. Yuta flashes his blinding smile, giving Taeil a thumbs up. “Thanks, man. Nice party you’ve got going!”

Taeil gives him finger guns before walking off, body moving to the rhythm of whatever it is that is playing. He isn’t really good on telling house music apart.

“Can you believe this guy?” Taeyong laughs again, taking a bigger chug of his beer. Yuta thinks the face he makes once he swallows in kind of lovely, just like the light blush creeping onto his cheeks.

“I know right?” is all he says before he downs all there is left of his own drink.

They navigate to the kitchen, where they find even more drinks and people already looking extremely drunk. He gets something pink and Taeyong gets something blue, plastic cups toasting before they drink it in one shot. Maybe it isn’t a good idea, to drink so much and so fast on the very first time they’re ever drinking, but Yuta needs this.

Needs the fuzzy feeling of alcohol in his system so he can cope with the way his heart flutters every time Taeyong looks his way – which is all the goddamn time. Every time he feels like saying something stupid, he takes a shot of something – tequila? Vodka? Gin? He doesn’t even know anymore and Taeyong follows suit.

He finds, sooner rather than later, that Taeyong is extremely lightweight. Not that he isn’t, because his sight is so blurry the colors are starting to blend together, but Taeyong has been resting against the kitchen counter for at least fifteen minutes now, looking entirely pleased.

“Let’s dance!” he whines, holding onto Yuta’s wrist. It’s hard for him to focus but he can still see the distinct pout on Taeyong’s lips.

“Yeah,” he agrees too easily. He could never say no.

The living room space is cramped and it’s hard to navigate, but Taeyong glues himself to his body the second he finds enough space for the both of them to fit. It’s impossible not to dance with so many people moving around them to the same repetitive beats of whatever music is playing, so he just allows himself to let go and relax.

The relax part is kind of hard, though, what with Taeyong pressing his ass against his crotch, moving and dancing and god, Yuta is a second away from losing his mind.

He rests his hands on Taeyong’s hips, gripping him softly, either trying to stop him from moving so much or just to ground himself. And Taeyong leans back against him, body hot like a furnace, sweat beading at his hairline and trickling down his neck. Yuta can’t seem to stop himself from leaning into his neck, breathing him in, and all Taeyong does is groan in response.

He might be delirious. Maybe he is too drunk. He is definitely losing his mind.

“You’re so beautiful,” he mumbles, unable to stop himself, to stop the words from tumbling out of his drunk mouth like that. His lips ghost over Taeyong’s neck, Taeyong’s hand reaching up to toy with his hair. “Anyone who gets to have you is so lucky, Yongie.”

Taeyong spins around to face him and Yuta can’t stop staring. At his lips, at his jet back eyes, at the way sweat makes his skin glisten. He is staring and Taeyong is staring right back at him, and he doesn’t miss the way Taeyong’s eyes flick down to his lips, even if just for a brief moment.

He can feel electricity buzzing under his skin, leaving him restless. With the way his heart beats so fast he might as well be getting a heart attack.

“Do you mean it?” his words are slurred, eyes searching his face, and Yuta wants nothing more than to bend down and kiss him.

“I mean it,” he replies instead.

“Let’s get out of here.”

He doesn’t have time to reply before Taeyong is pulling him by the wrist and out the door, across the front yard and down the road. It feels so hot and it’s so hard to think like this, with Taeyong tripping over his own feet and leaning into his side for support.

They end up by the shore, like they always do, under Taeyong’s demands of wanting to watch the waves. It’s late, so late there is barely any light outside, but the view is still breathtaking.

“There are so many things I want to say,” he whispers into Taeyong’s hair, alcohol still running loud in their bloodstream.  Taeyong hums deep in his chest, trying to get him to keep talking. He doesn’t.

“Say it, then,” he probes, jamming a finger into his ribs. Yuta drunkenly laughs, flinching away from Taeyong’s body only to be pulled back not even a second after.

The water is calm, deep black only lit by moonlight. Yuta thinks this is strangely similar to how he feels on the inside.

“Later,” he remembers the words Taeyong had told him that one afternoon, and only now he realizes how heavy they feel on the tongue. “Later I’ll tell you.”

 

🌊

 

The days blend into a blur of long walks by the beach and sunset watching together. Yuta can feel his chest grow tighter with each passing day; with each second he passes with Taeyong. He’s not ready to say goodbye, not ready to let go of a lifelong friendship like this. He doesn’t think Taeyong would cut him off his life and he knows they will still keep in touch, but he knows it’s not gonna be the same.

“Stop thinking so loudly,” Taeyong whines one day, body splayed out across Yuta’s roof. They’re watching the sunset, lemonade cups forgotten by his windowsill. It’s nice like this and Yuta will really, really miss this a lot.

“Let’s go somewhere,” he offers, not turning to face Taeyong.

“Right now?” Taeyong sounds surprised and Yuta doesn’t blame him. It will be dark soon.

“Tomorrow. There’s a house at a beach down south that we could stay at for a couple of days.” It belongs to a couple of friends of his parents, and he tells Taeyong as much. “They said we could come over whenever we wanted; my mom said I could take the car.”

“So you’ve already planned this whole thing without so much as telling me?” Yuta turns to look at him, expecting Taeyong to be mad. He doesn’t expect to be greeted with a smile. “I’m down to it.”

Yuta doesn’t miss the sigh that escape Taeyong’s lips when he rests his head over his thighs, nor the way his fingers hold onto him, trying to feel secure. He allows himself to thread his fingers through Taeyong’s hair, strands crispy from being bleached a few hours prior to this very moment.

Taeyong looks good with blond hair.

To Yuta, Taeyong looks good with pretty much anything.

 

🌊

 

He thinks there is nothing quite like the feeling of wind gushing into the car through the rolled down windows, cool in contrast to the scorching heat of the sun. He is happy – to be getting away from the city, just the two of them, Taeyong’s laughter bubbling out every other minute as he drives down hills and around the island.

Taeyong seems happy, too, genuinely so. It warms Yuta inside out.

“How long ‘til we get there?” Taeyong yells over the blaring music coming from the speakers.

“About twenty? We shouldn’t be far.”

Taeyong hums, not saying anything else. They watch as the greenery rounds the hill, turns into a small village and then watch it fade into the background; Yuta knows they’re close when pavement starts turning into cobblestone taken over by sand.

A small house comes into view, a little off to the horizon and Yuta smiles.

“There she is,” he points over, Taeyong’s eyes drifting to the isolated building. “Isn’t it nice?”

“It’s… pretty isolated,” he comments, deep in thought. Yuta frowns, thinking he has fucked up, but then Taeyong breaks into a smile. “It’s perfect, Yuta.”

The house clearly hasn’t seen a single soul in months; dust collects in every nook and cranny they can put their eyes on and sand has taken over most of the balcony as well as the living room. Even then, he thinks the house is perfect, just waiting for them; away from the residential area and right into the beach.

Taeyong takes his time looking around and familiarizing himself with the foreign place. Yuta stays behind by the balcony as he does his thing, instead watching how calm the sea is at this side of the island. The water is crystal clear, reflecting the perfectly blue sky. He buries his now bared feet into the fine white sand, sighing at the familiar feeling.

They spend most of the day sitting by the beach, a pack of beer and the fish in the ocean their only companies besides themselves. Yuta slows himself to feel it this time, really feel it; the buzzing in his body, in his heart, words itching under his skin to come out.

He isn’t boozed enough for it yet.

“Hey,” Taeyong calls out to him, placing a gentle hand over his. He tries not to mind the way his heart skips a beat. “Let’s stay sober, yeah?”

Yuta giggles. “A bit too late for that but we can stop here.”

Taeyong closes his fingers around him, digging them into the sand as he holds his hand. Yuta looks down at them, at the way their hands fit so nicely together, and suddenly he can’t hold it in anymore.

Taeyong beats him to it.

“Can I ask you something?” his eyes flit back to Taeyong’s face. He can see the blush on his cheeks, eyes wide; he seems hesitant and sounds just as much. He nods. “Can I kiss you?”

He can’t answer him. There are a million things going through his head, his heart threatening to stop beating, and his hands are starting to sweat. He wants to scream, to say yes a million times, but the words are choked up in his throat and he’s frozen in place.

Taeyong certainly takes it as rejection as he starts removing his hand from his.

“You know what, forget it,” he mumbles, looking dejected.

Yuta acts before his brain can think of what to do; he pulls Taeyong by the hand, the other’s body crashing into his, and with his free hand he cradles Taeyong’s face. He looks so delicate, so scared, and the last thing Yuta sees before his eyes flutter shut is the glint in his eyes.

He couldn’t have imagined, not in a million years, that his first kiss would be with his best friend, on a nearly deserted beach, the sun starting to set before them. He couldn’t have imagined in a million years how soft Taeyong’s lips are on his despite desperately trying to. He couldn’t have imagined it would be so simple and yet so perfect.

“Am I dreaming?” he breathes out when they part, lips still brushing against each other. He laughs, baffled.

“I could ask the same,” Taeyong mumbles against him before closing the distance once again. This time it’s more hungry, urgent, Taeyong licking into his mouth like his life depends on it.

Yuta can’t make sense out of any of it, is fairly sure he is dreaming. After all, Taeyong couldn’t have asked if he could kiss him.  Him of all people. He can’t make sense of it and yet he indulges himself, eggs Taeyong on, licks right back into his mouth just as hungrily.

“Hey,” he says between breaths, Taeyong chasing his lips every second they’re not touching. “Let’s head back inside.”

And Taeyong is quickly on his feet, pulling Yuta along, padding fast into the house and towards the bedroom. It feels like a fever dream, the way Taeyong is pulling on him, tugging at his clothes, bringing him closer, so close all Yuta can see and smell and feel is Taeyong Taeyong Taeyong.

Taeyong smells like youth, memories and happiness. The smell of lilacs is so indistinctively him that it is permanently ingrained in Yuta’s brain.

“You’re thinking too much,” Taeyong tells him, like he has grown so used to in the past few weeks.

“You have no idea what you do to me,” the words roll off his tongue like a confession before he can even stop himself. “You have no idea, Yongie.”

“I don’t want you to think,” Taeyong is quick to tell him, fingers tangling in his hair, pulling him closer and into a kiss. “Want you, Yuta.”

He finds himself paralyzed again, eyes searching Taeyong’s face, asking. Taeyong knows what he’s implying, knows what he’s asking, and Yuta can easily read it in his eyes, the way he licks over his lips, the way he pulls him so impossibly closer there is nothing left between the two of them if not for their clothes.

It’s Taeyong who makes the first move, kissing hungrily at his lips, hands grasping at his clothes, pulling. And Yuta lets him; lets him strip him bare, wandering hands touching, feeling. It makes his heart race, so heavy in his chest he thinks he might burst.

And Taeyong stares. He stares for so long – at his face, his clavicles, his chest and his arms, and all the way down to his bare legs, muscles tense as he hovers over his body.

It’s exhilarating.

“You’re so beautiful,” Taeyong tells him, grounded, and it reminds him of that night at the party, when Yuta told him just the same. “And I don’t want to have anyone else but you.”

There is something different in the way they kiss this time, the way Taeyong is so gentle on him, patient. And Yuta is just as tender, taking his time; they’re not in a rush. There is no need to rush.

He peels Taeyong’s clothes off, piece by piece, admiring each sliver of skin that is revealed. It’s like Taeyong shrinks in on himself, suddenly shy under his gaze, just as intense as the one he was given.

Taeyong is beautiful. God, he is so beautiful.

Yuta is afraid he is going to wake up from a dream any time now.

He doesn’t, though. Instead he gets Taeyong’s hands running over his chest then his back, all the way down to his ass, nails scraping his skin along the way. It feels nice, so nice, especially when Taeyong wraps both his hands around his dick and jerks him once, twice, tentative.

“Fuck,” he moans out the curse, body shaking as Taeyong shifts beneath him.

“Tell me if it feels good,” it’s a murmur against his jaw, kisses peppering their way up to his lobe. Taeyong takes it between his teeth, tongue flicking over the skin gently.

“It feels so good,” he’s panting, embarrassingly too aroused, Taeyong’s hands working him a bit faster. “God, Yongie, how are you real?”

“Want you,” he tells him one more time and it’s enough for him.

He works Taeyong open with care, fingers buried in his ass as he watches him unravel under his touch. He looks beautiful like this; hair messy, lips shining with spit, a blush spreading all over his body as he moans a string of curses along with Yuta’s name.

He quite likes the way Taeyong sounds when he’s moaning his name like this.

It only hits him that Taeyong had actually planned this beforehand when the other fetches a strip of condoms from his backpack, a sheepish smile on his lips and his face burning red. Yuta doesn’t comment on it, not even as he rolls the latex on and Taeyong can’t help but stare.

The stretch of Taeyong’s walls around his dick feels nothing like the stretch around his fingers, and he has stop halfway in to catch his breath. It’s too much– too much Taeyong at once, the boy grasping at the sheets as Yuta slowly works him open once again.

“Please,” Taeyong wines, asking, begging, and Yuta doesn’t know what for but he’s going to give it to him.

Whatever he wants, whatever he needs, Yuta is always going to give it to him.

“Tell me if you want to stop,” he says instead, gripping tightly onto the mattress on both sides of Taeyong’s head, pushing in.

He only stops pushing when he is buried deep between his thighs, Taeyong crying out his name, trashing, need you is what he keeps saying.

“Everything you want, baby,” and this time he isn’t afraid he’s overstepping a boundary, not when Taeyong whines so loudly, so beautifully, Yuta’s name the most beautiful melody on his lips.

He indulges himself, fucks Taeyong nice and slow into the mattress, just like he deserves. They are a beautiful mess, moaning each other’s names, gripping and tugging on each other’s hair, swallowing down each and every whine rolling off their tongues.

Taeyong comes first, first tight around his cock, tip red and dripping cum over his soft stomach. He shakes with the force of his orgasm, tears brimming his eyes, lips parted as he pants. It doesn’t take Yuta long to come after that, what with the way Taeyong clenches around him and whines his name with every thrust. He comes into the condom and his body betrays him in the worst way possible.

He doesn’t even notice he’s crying until Taeyong’s now clean fingers are coming up to his face, wiping the tears away, voice laced with worry as he calls out to him.

“Yuta,” he tries again, trying to bring him back down, hands cupping his cheeks. “Yuta, what’s wrong?”

He can’t bring himself to say it. Even after everything he can’t bring himself to say anything he has wanted to say for the past he doesn’t even know how long. So he just allows himself to cry, body shaking as he buries his face into the crook of Taeyong’s neck, tears soaking his skin.

“Did I do something wrong?” Yuta wishes he could take all the worries away from him, wishes he could ease the frown between his brows. He still can’t bring himself to say anything. “Please tell me what’s wrong.”

He wraps his arms tightly around his torso, holding him close. It should be weird and gross, Yuta’s softening dick still buried deep into his ass, cum now sticking to both of their bodies, but it isn’t. Instead, Yuta breathes Taeyong in, lets the familiar smell of lilacs flood his lungs.

“I don’t want to lose you,” is what he manages to choke out, and it isn’t a lie.

He’s scared. He has never been this scared in his life.

It breaks him to see Taeyong start crying, too, tears running down his face as he stares up at Yuta, broken.

“I don’t want to lose you either,” he says, a sob, quiet. Yuta knows he’s hurting just as much as he is. “I would stay if I could, you know I would. But I can’t.”

It’s hours later, when they are cleaned up and no longer crying, legs tangled under clean sheets, that Yuta finally allows himself to feel.

To feel his heart beating, his throat choking up, the warmth of Taeyong’s palm against his, the press of his back against his chest. It doesn’t feel as suffocating, now, as he holds Taeyong closer, lips pressing a kiss to his nape and Taeyong humming in contentment.

If Taeyong feels his heart hammering against his back he doesn’t mention it. Yuta wants to think his is beating just as fast.

 

🌊

 

It breaks him to see what once was Taeyong’s room now be an empty space, save for his bed frame. It breaks him even more to have Taeyong over one last time before he inevitably has to move.

They’re lying in Yuta’s bed, too small to fit the both of them comfortably but they make do. With the lights off like this they can see the glowing stars they stuck to his ceiling when they were eight, a memory he is able to see every night he goes to bed.

“I told you I had something to tell you,” he tries, not quite looking at Taeyong. He would rather not see the look on his face as he says everything he’s about to. If the look is one of rejection, he doesn’t think he is going to be able to handle it. “And I think I’m ready.”

Taeyong turns to his side, resting his head over his shoulder, lacing their fingers together. Yuta’s heart squeezes just a bit tighter. “Tell me.”

He takes a deep breath, two.

“I– I like you. As more than a friend. I’ve been scared to acknowledge those feelings, scared it would ruin what we have. You’re my best friend and I’m so afraid of losing you. I’m scared Taeyong. I’ll look at you and my heart hurts because I just want to be with you. All the time.”

“I want to see you smile. I want to be the reason why you smile. I want to hold you close and stargaze with you. I want to have you by my side when you’re sad, too. I want to comfort you. I want to be a source of support for you and I wanna make you so fucking happy.”

He’s shaking.

“You’re beautiful, Yongie, and I mean it. I meant it that night and I mean it right now. Inside and out, you’re the most gorgeous human being I’ve ever met. You radiate love and reflect happiness and I love that about you. Fuck, I love so many things about you it’s so fucking embarrassing.”

He feels small and like the world is too big for him, fingers laced tightly into Taeyong’s, scared he’s going to slip away if he lets go. He knows it’s too late; Taeyong is moving out the following morning, and if there is even the slightest chance he ever liked him back that way it’s too late.

“I can’t believe this,” is not exactly what he expected to hear, so he waits. “I can’t believe you’ve waited until the very last second to tell me this. I can’t believe I’ve been secretly crushing on you like a fool when you were crushing back on me.”

“We’re idiots,” he says, simply, because there is nothing else he can say. Nothing else he can do. It’s too late.

“You’ve given me so many of my firsts this summer, you know. That day at the beach, I thought– I thought I’d have the courage to tell you, but I panicked. I was so scared you just wanted to mess around so I just– I didn’t want to trick myself into believing something that had a chance of not being real.”

He doesn’t have time to process it all. Taeyong is quickly on top of him, caging his sides with both his legs and bending down to press a kiss to his lips. It’s soft and this time they don’t deepen it.

“I love you,” he says, finally.

“I love you too,” and it breaks him.

Yuta cries until he doesn’t, until his body exhausts itself and he falls asleep with his head on Taeyong’s shoulder, Taeyong’s fingers threading through his hair softly.

He lets himself feel, one last time.

To feel his heart beating, his throat choking up, the warmth of Taeyong’s palm against his cheeks, the press of his chest against his. It doesn’t feel suffocating anymore as he holds Taeyong closer, not wanting to let go.

He has to let go.

 

🌊

 

It’s painful to watch and he doesn’t want to, but he has to be there for Taeyong one last time.

It’s painful to watch the moving truck drive off the Lee driveway, to watch Taeyong and his mother pack the last of their boxers into their car and get ready to go.

“Promise me you’ll call every day,” Taeyong asks for the millionth time. “Or at least text me.”

“I promise, Yongie. You won’t get rid of me so easily.”

Their last hug is as bittersweet as it is painful. It hurts to see him go, but Yuta knows he has no choice.

As Taeyong’s car drives off to the port, Yuta can feel the smell of lilacs go along with him.

He sits at the porch, heartbroken.

 

🌊

 

The wood is hard against his knuckles as he knocks one, two, three times. He can feel his stomach turning, anxiety sitting at the very pit. His blood boils in his veins, heart beating so loud in his ears he can’t even hear himself thinking.

He isn’t thinking, really. All he wants is this very door open.

There is rustling coming from inside, and it’s not until a minute or two later that the door finally comes ajar.

All senses hit him at once and the smile on his lips falters; not in a bad way. The one that hits him the hardest is smell.

It has been months since they have seen each other, and yet he recognizes the unmistakable smell the moment he feels it.

The smell of his first love.

“Oh my god,” is the first thing that comes out of Taeyong’s mouth, accompanied by the sound of porcelain shattering when he drops the teacup that was once in his hands.

It’s like everything happens in slow motion; his eyes tearing up, him rushing out the door, him clinging to his neck and taking him in a tight hug. It’s so much of Taeyong at once and not enough at the same time. It’s not enough even as he wraps his arms around his waist, face buried in the crook of his neck, breathing him in.

The familiar smell of lilacs isn’t nearly enough.

“Hi,” he whispers over Taeyong’s crying.

“What are you doing here?”

Yuta pulls away, smiling, ignoring the tears stinging behind his eyelids.

“I’m staying,” he tells him, because he is, and Taeyong looks absolutely surprised. He would be too.

“Do you mean it?” his words aren’t slurred like the last time, eyes searching his face, and Yuta wants nothing more than to bend down and kiss him.

“I mean it,” he replies instead.

Taeyong cups his cheeks with both hands, bringing their lips together in a kiss. Taeyong is crying and Yuta notices that he is crying as well, shaking when he brings his hands up to tangle into Taeyong’s hair.

It’s like no time at all has passed, yet it feels like an eternity did. It’s familiar, the way Taeyong holds him close, cries over him, licks into his mouth and deepens the kiss.

Taeyong is the one to break the kiss, breathing hard, looking into his eyes. It’s as if he can’t believe what he’s seeing, and Yuta understands the feeling. Then, grabbing him by the wrist, he breathes,

“Let’s get out of here.”