the first time it happened, it was a complete shock for him. it's not every day that you hear your best friend casually confessing his undying love for you as you two are just having a nice drink, enjoying each other's presence after a tiring day of classes. it wasn't something that eunsang had expected from junho. he'd be lying if he said he hadn't seen the signs here and there, but they were dubious and could still be read as the older just being a bit too affectionate. it could still be read as a friendly behaviour.
but he had said it clearly. i love you. wow, i really do love eunsang, don't i?
thing was, he hadn't exactly confessed. not to him, not directly. he had thought about his feelings and kept it to himself, kept it a secret, refusing to act on it. but eunsang still heard it.
and it also sounded like he had just realized himself. he wasn't meant to hear it. but he still did.
it made him slightly choke on his drink, getting a worried glare from junho. he brushed it off once the older questioned him, the silence between the two returning as if it never had ceased. and for him it never really ceased, eunsang constantly hearing the voices that no one would dare to say out loud.
like junho's confession.
he wondered, maybe he meant it in a platonic way. maybe he was just happy to spend time with him and was so happy he thought that. it was nothing that relevant.
maybe he even imagined it. wanting so much for his best friend to correspond to his feelings, he had imagined that junho had thought that he loves eunsang. or maybe he heard someone else confess to another person and it got mixed with his actual thoughts and he understood it wrong.
or maybe it really came from junho, but not like that. maybe he didn't even like dudes as much as he did and he was overthinking this whole thing.
especially because after he thought those words, his best friend tried his best to distract himself with something else, to think about something else.
that was most likely it. if he said it, he didn't mean it like that, and it was fine.
junho had other friends. they weren't that many and he didn't hang out with them as much as he hung out with eunsang. he wasn't the jealous type, but even if he was, there was no reason to resent them. he knew that he wouldn't be traded and that he was still his number one friend. he willingly stuck to the taller's side and was happy with him. he had no reasons to complain about them.
it didn't mean they liked being kept on his second plan, though. that they weren't jealous of him, or didn't resent him.
"junho-yah, let's go to the cinema this weekend!"
he didn't think twice before shaking his head. "i'm sorry, dongpyo-yah. i already promised eunsangie to watch iz*one's latest reality show with him."
eunsang gulped down as he saw the other's reaction. he didn't need to read minds to know how displeased he had been to be turned down, and in front of him too. but he could hear it. what was so special about him? you can watch it another time, you are glued to him every day anyway, it echoed as he forced a smile. "next time, then."
"why didn't you say yes?", he questioned his best friend after a while. there was a silence between the two of them, like always; he noticed that it happened a lot when the duo was left alone, them just staying by each other's side without moving their mouths. "you should have gone to the cinema with dongpyo and his friends. they're nice."
"they really are", junho nodded. "but i already have plans with you."
"i wouldn't be mad, though. we can always watch the replay another day."
the older stared at him, forehead slightly furrowed. "and i could always go to the cinema with them another day."
the younger bit the inside of his cheeks, feeling vulnerable. "don't we spend too much time together, anyway? it's okay to have other friends and have fun with them too."
"i think we spend too little time actually. besides, i don't like leaving you alone", the older reasoned out loud.
and then it came. i love hanging out with you too much to leave you alone. i love your companion.
i-- i love you.
eunsang nervously breathed in as junho's words filled his own mind, his face still stiff and mouth shut. there was no way he had imagined it because they were alone quiet. there weren't that many people around, too, so he couldn't have mistaken it. it was crystal clear, it was his sincere thoughts.
he wanted to ask what he meant by that. what kind of love, and also why. but it wasn't like he could, not without revealing that all this time he could hear everything he thought of. and, either way, he could get an answer he wasn't ready to hear. he could be wrong, still. misinterpreting it.
"okay then", he opted to say instead, changing the subject.
there was a festival going on and, obviously, eunsang was glued to his best friend. or was junho glued to him? at this point, he wasn't sure which affirmation was more truthful.
"damn it, i didn't manage to get that enough points for that plushie", he pouted after throwing his last dart - a miss.
"watch me, i'll do better than you", his shorter but older friend said as he grinned, eyes now a single line.
"aww, you're going to get the plushie for me?", eunsang teased. he knew he didn't mean it like that, and it was obvious as junho abruptly froze and realized that, yeah, he did say something that could be interpreted as such. the idea of actually getting it for him had just crossed his mind after that.
"maybe", he opted to say. definitely, he thought at the exact time.
he tried to fight a smirk after catching his thought, but it wasn't like junho would have caught him. he was too busy focusing on the balloons, four of his darts on his left hand as he aimed with his right one. he remained calm as he threw one after the other and eunsang just watched, not wanting to distract him. and also taking the chance to appreciate the view, staring at junho's profile, focused on his goal. he was really good looking and he adored to watch him, but he'd never admit it out loud.
"i did it", his friend smirked to himself as he threw his fifth dart. he turned to the taller one, smiling at him as he pointed at one of the toys hanging. "that's the plushie you want, right?"
he tried his best to fake a shocked expression, enthusiastically nodding at junho's question. "yes! thank you, junho-yah, you're the best", he exclaimed as the man behind the counter handed him the plushie he wanted, hugging it with all strength he had.
god you're so cute, his friend immediately thought, making eunsang slightly ease his grasp, not enough to drop the toy but enough to no longer squish it. you really are so adorable, so pretty when you're smiling.
wow. i really do love you like that, huh, he mused to himself, and when he glared at junho, he was blushing and giving him a warm look, one that was soon averted after getting caught.
there was no way that he could doubt the older's confession. he obviously liked- no, loved him as much as eunsang loved him. there was no reason for him to keep his feelings to himself, to remain silent about it. he should confess to him; out loud, in a way junho could hear too. and not only by thinking.
still, he only gulped down. "let's get going, junho-yah. i'm hungry."
i love you, eunsang.
he shut his eyes, trying his best to ignore it. yeah, junho-yah. i know it. i've heard it plenty of times. still, he would always react at it, wondering if this time it had come from junho's lips and not echoed from his mind. but he knew the answer already.
there was no reason that junho would have actually confessed out loud to him at that moment. they were watching a movie at the cinema, with all of the older's friend around too. he didn't know how or when he managed to make eunsang also befriend them, but somehow, they clicked.
despite it all, despite hearing what they had to say about him inside their minds, once they started speaking to each other for real, they clicked well.
it'd be a lie if he said his three new companions were as kind and understanding as junho, though, and it sometimes hurt to be around them and hear their thoughts, especially thoughts about him. they still found him a bit weird and deep down were jealous that he'd still be the closest to their friend in common. but he was glad to know that he wasn't hated, nor that that was all they thought of him. and, surprisingly enough, he found himself enjoying his time with them too. it was bearable when dongpyo got annoyed at him for being so quiet because he tried to understand that he was the introvert type who needed time and space. it was bearable when minhee made fun of some of his quirks because he'd always say - or, well, think - that it made him charming and he didn't mean evil with it. it was bearable when hyeongjun laughed at the way he covered girl group dances and thought it was silly because he actually admired him for trying to learn them and even joined him at times, too.
junho's friends were bearable. except when they kept talking and thinking about the two of them. when will they get together, when will one confess, who do you think will finally crack and say it?
the worst thing was that they were right. eunsang loved him, and he knew that he did too. despite never opening his mouth, it was like junho wanted him to never forget about that, whispering to himself how in love he was - and thus getting it caught by the younger - at random times. like inside the cinema, lights all off, the room very loud from the movie.
as soon as he heard junho's thoughts, the younger looked at his right and quickly his best friend pretended not to be looking at his direction. he thought that he had gotten away with it, but even if he had, his thoughts had just confirmed his suspicions. eunsang stared at his profile, wondering when the older would turn back at him.
holy mother of god, just kiss him already, minhee's mind echoed, making the dark haired turn back at the screen.
shut up, minhee.
eunsang was so used to hearing good things coming from other's minds - mostly from junho's mind, though - that he forgot that this was not a blessing but a curse.
he did his best at school. he studied until his butt hurt, until his eyes could no longer focus, until he passed out. it didn't mean he was always getting the grades he was expected to, and it was frustrating. he hated how his teacher looked at him and wished he'd done more, he hated how his parents seemed so disappointed that his perfect record no longer was as perfect.
he hated it. he had tried his best, wasn't it enough? why was it never enough?
"oh no, eunsang-ah, why are you crying?", junho asked him as he sat down beside him. he had avoided his best friend once he got the news that he hadn't gotten the desired score at their latest math exam. and he had been so confident, too! he was certain he'd do well, but no. now he'd have to hear the worst type of whispers for at least a week. it was too much for him and he needed some time for himself, to let it out.
"it's-- it's nothing", he lied.
"you never cry, unless it's something very serious. it's not nothing", was his response. he knew the older was worried and a bit annoyed too. but not because of him - he'd never be annoyed at his taller friend - but that he couldn't do anything to make him feel better. it hurt him, because there was nothing he could ask for junho. his presence was already enough.
eunsang tilted towards the side, letting his head rest on the other's broad shoulders, and it didn't take long before his hair was petted by him. it was something recurring by now, his best friend was very affective and he lived for affection. he just wasn't the type to ask for it, not verbally.
it was okay though, since junho could read all the signs by now, reacting at them almost instinctively.
"you know you can tell me when there's something bothering you, right? i can't read minds."
that made eunsang laugh. despite it being serious he couldn't help but think that sentence was a joke. "i know. it's just the same thing as always, me overpressuring myself and still not achieving my goals. i'm just frustrated, again."
the other hummed at that. "okay. i just really hate when you're like this. i wish i could do something."
"you're already doing something."
"...right. being a good friend."
he laughed a second time. "exactly. and i'm thankful for that, so thank you for being the best friend i could ask for."
he felt junho gulp down nervously. and then he heard his thoughts again.
you only deserve the best, eunsang-ah, and i'll make sure you only smile from now on.
funny enough, those three words never came this time. but, somehow, it felt like he had said exactly that.
"i love you."
he heard the older say for the nth time. he didn't know, he stopped counting after a while. eunsang had been too used with those three words and no longer could show any reaction, just kept nodding his head to the song that was playing on junho's room as they studied together. he was used by now to hear these words, despite still doubting them.
"uhm. eunsang-ah? did you not hear me?"
the taller looked up. "hmm?"
"have you heard what i said?"
"no, sorry", he smiled embarrassedly. why was his best friend's face so stiff? maybe he told him something important. "what was it?"
just say it, junho-yah. tell him, he heard coming from his head as his mind was a broken record. it was very loud too and the younger couldn't help but worry what this was all about. tell him, he kept saying to himself, voice going higher and higher inside his head. tell him, tell him, tell him! "i love you, eunsang-ah."
it took a few seconds for eunsang to fully understand his words but even so, he couldn't believe it. it didn't sound any different from the many times those words had hit his ears, but this time, he could see that his best friend's mouth had moved. it was happening, it was real.
cha junho just told him he loved him. he actually said it, directly at him, looking at him, the sound leaving his throat and hitting his ears - physically. it had taken him so long he stopped waiting for the day he'd actually hear it, concluding that it would never happen, that even if his voice was really clear and impossible to misunderstand, junho would never say it.
but there was him telling him exactly that. i love you, eunsang-ah.
"do you... mean it?"
junho was quick to nod. why would i not mean it?, he thought. you're amazing and humble and i love you for that.
"i'm not that great though..."
he stopped his words, realizing he had said it out loud. damn it, the older had just nodded. he didn't know he could hear his mind nor knew how to bring it up. so he gulped anxiously, hoping his friend wouldn't mention it.
"you are great. you're the best friend i could ask for and it was inevitable for me to love all of you", he smiled at him. "you don't have to reply to me if you don't want to, i just needed to tell you. now let's drop it."
"no", he breathed in. "i'm not gonna drop it. i can't, i-- because i--"
"because you love me too?"
he turned to his best friend, who had his head tilted and watched him carefully. it was funny how eunsang was the one who could read minds - literally - when junho could read his like a book without actually knowing what crossed his mind. junho could read him like a book regardless. he wasn't like his younger friend, though. he had guessed and was hoping that he'd say yes, that he had guessed correctly.
due to the shock, he couldn't say a thing, his mouth open but refusing to leave a sound. so instead of a proper reply, he just nodded at his older companion.
"really?", junho excitedly asked. "do you really love me back?"
"y- yes, i do. for a while now, actually...", he said with a quiet voice.
despite the tone, he was heard and his best friend looked thrilled by his words, very happy at it. wow, i can't believe it! he loves me too!!, he kept shouting to himself as he remained speechless in person. it made the younger giggle.
does this mean we can be boyfriends?
"yes", he said after a while, junho staring back at him a little puzzled. damn it, he did it again. "yes, i love you, so please be my boyfriend, cha junho."
junho's eyes disappeared as he smiled. "yes, i'll be your boyfriend from now on! and you'll be mines, lee eunsang."
eunsang grinned at him. "that'd be perfect."