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Eyes on the Red

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From Mingyu
I declined the offer. It’s not practical.

To Mingyu
Staying at the other side of SK for a job isn’t “not practical”
It’s better than having 2 part-time jobs, and it has a better pay

From Mingyu
I’d rather not leave you, thank you very much.






[From: Junhui]


Hao! When are you coming back to China? We all miss you. Tell us EVERYTHING that happened. \(^-^)/
also are u staying here for good or nah????

P.S. I’m emailing you because I’m currently doing my job rn hope you don’t get surprised or anything.


Two months before the break-up, Minghao received Junhui’s email when he was waiting for someone under the night sky. He was supposed to be deactivating his Twitter account after a toxic online debate about gender roles, cautious that maybe the application sent something to his email account. When Minghao wants things erased, he wants them to be erased completely. And that’s when he stumbled upon that message.


Oh, yeah, right. It’s been two years since he last visited. It was something that he couldn’t do because he had just graduated in a university in South Korea two years ago, so, financially speaking, there was a problem. But months later, he got himself a good enough job and he’s ready to end the contract he has with the company.


Or not. God.



Hi Jun. I miss you guys too, but I don’t know if I’m staying there for good. It may come as a shock to the people I’ve met here. But I’ll tell you soon! Maybe not through email, though.



Minghao could see from his peripheral vision that his boyfriend was coming to his way. He exited the email app on his phone and pretended not to notice when the other pushed his chin upwards using two fingers. “Hey, is something the matter?”


“Nope. Just waiting for you.”


When Mingyu smiled, he smiled brightly. He looked so youthful, so beautiful, so dashing, that Minghao found himself wondering how the guy could even think he deserves to be with someone like him. His personality isn’t that different, either. Snapping him back to reality that they were standing outside of the humble bakery Mingyu works at, Mingyu easily slid his hand in the other’s, gripping it tightly, before raising up to his mouth to kiss it lightly.


“You don’t even know if my hands are clean.”


“Doesn’t matter. I already kissed it, anyway.”


Minghao breathed out a smile, and they went on their way back to their shared apartment. Mingyu was talking about what his financial plans are to get Minghao a car, because Minghao can drive, but because of Junhui’s email, Minghao was having second thoughts.


Six years ago, the original plan when he first step foot in South Korea was to continue his schooling while his parents work, then leave when their tasks ended. Things took a turn when Minghao took a liking to the place, so they allowed him to stay here even until he got a job.


The educ thing’s done. The problem now was going back. It’s been stashed at the back of his head for months, and it’s coming up again. Surely, one email shouldn’t change things, right? But if Minghao keeps delaying his visit, then he might as well as come home to strangers and stay inside his ex-house in shame.


(Maybe he’s just being dramatic, but hey, think about it. It’s better to give than to take. Better to do some hard work than bring himself to guilt. Guilt in the form of I didn’t come home earlier because I had no money, and when I had enough I preferred to stay with my friends.)


He had this conversation with Mingyu and all his other friends about it for several times already, and the conversations end with a playful demand to keep in touch.


“About the car thing. . . um, what if I’m going back home?”


Mingyu stopped being enthusiastic. “Back home? China?”




“Then I guess I can learn how to drive or. . . just sell the car, or something.”


“No, I mean, what will happen to the both of us?”


“It depends if you’re staying there for good.”


“What if I am?”


“Then. . . I don’t know. This is something beyond my reach.” Mingyu scrunched up half of his face, as if he’s deep in thought. “I can’t just go with you, too. I have a job here and everything.”


“Do you think you can survive long distance?”


“Honestly?” Mingyu looked at him, one eyebrow raised. “No. In theory, I’d say yes, but. . . and you know, it’s not that I don’t trust you if we’re apart for years, but, you know, some things are inevitable,” like flings, side-relationships, cheating, “I’m just wary of that because, you know, you never really know. Does that make sense?”


“Yeah. I see your point.”


“And then if we fight, um, it can’t be easily resolved. I wouldn’t know if you’re crying, and you might ignore my messages, or block me, even. We’re forced to resolve it through words.”


“And we never do that,” Minghao supplied. “Even before.” They used to be rivals before they became friends. “Should we fight now and see?”


They’re almost at their shared apartment.


Mingyu rolled his eyes. “Waste of time. In the future, maybe we can just send virtual hugs as compensation. I found a lot of GIFs and stickers back in the magazine office.”


“You’re so lame.”


(He shouldn’t have said that. Mingyu was so passionate about his GIFs and stickers. He also should have added his own opinion instead of asking Mingyu everything. He should let the both of them figure it out.)






To Mingyu
Hey, I hope you don’t get surprised if I (suddenly????) announce that I’m coming home to China. I may or may not stay there for good. I’m texting you this right now because I just talked about it with my parents
We’re still trying to figure it out, but the internet connection’s gone so we cant videocall for now lol
Don’t forget to hydrate yourself, you must’ve been standing in the kitchen for too long


(He should have included him when he said we’re.)

From Mingyu
It’s okay, I’ll respect whatever your decision is. Thanks for the reminder :D



Minghao didn’t fetch Mingyu by the bakery that day, so when he visited one of his friends, Chan, by the dance studio the next day, he didn’t understand what the younger meant by “Mingyu-hyung seemed distracted.”


It was just mentioned in passing, something that sounded like an additional description and not a headline of the news, so Minghao doesn’t press on the topic.






One month before the break-up, Minghao was working from home after calling in that he’s sick. He found himself scrolling through fashion accounts during a nightly breaktime (it’s 8 p.m.). It’s been months since he bought something for himself, and these accounts just offer exactly what he wants to try. Skirts, dresses, and lace?


Please, Minghao would sign up for that in a heartbeat.


“I’m home!” came in Mingyu’s annoying voice from the front door. There was the sound of paper bags and footsteps muffled behind the door, like a secret he’s not in on. Before Minghao knew it, his boyfriend sat next to him on the bed, smoothly wrapping his arms around his torso.


“What’s up?”


Minghao pretended to be disgusted when Mingyu kissed him on the cheek. It’s for the other’s own good! “Get off of me. I’m sick.”


“Fine.” Mingyu loosened his grip, but didn’t let go. “You didn’t answer my question.”


“I’m just looking at clothes.”


Mingyu snorted. “Again?”


“I’m kind of curious.” He showed Mingyu his phone. “Lookie! They have one with buttons. I don’t know how it feels like to wear something like these.”


“Ooh, cool.”


“I know, right?”


Mingyu removed an arm to properly scroll down the other’s phone. “These would look good on you if you wore the right size. Otherwise you’d look like a coathanger for curtains.”


Ignoring the underlying insult, Minghao had an idea. “Can we buy them?”


Mingyu hesitated. “I don’t think you’re allowed to wear them outside. If we buy them, it’d be a waste of money.”


The urge to wear them, however, was too strong; he was deeply curious. It had been months since Minghao last treated himself with material items, and due to the fact that. . . wait. He didn’t have any accomplishment to earn the reward. Maybe he shouldn’t buy one. Yet.


“What if I bought only one?”


“It’s not. . . um, I don’t think it’s practical at the moment, Hao. We earn a decent amount for all the stuff that we have to pay. Maybe we should wait for a couple of years before we can. . . be free with. . . you know, buying stuff.”


That stopped Minghao’s train of thought. Mingyu was right, it wasn’t practical at the moment. It’s also not something that he can wear outside of the house. He wouldn’t mind if it’s Seokmin or Soonyoung or Chan, because they don’t really mind either. The problem lied on the existing gender roles of the opinionated society, which is not inherently a bad thing. He respected the diverse opinions, but that doesn’t mean he agreed with all of them.


Okay, that took off a different direction.


“I can make you a dress if you want instead,” Mingyu added quickly, squeezing Minghao in a hug. “It’ll just cost us the fabric. . . but my skills may be too rusty, and the time to make it may take long, but, you know. . . yeah. I’m pretty sure Seokmin has some materials somewhere in his home.”


Minghao laughed. “Thank you. I don’t mean to be spoiled, but I really am thinking about replacing jeans for a while and I have no clue on clothes-making, so. . .”


“Yeah, yeah. It’s all good, Minghao. I promise I’ll take care of it.”


“Thanks.” He leaned back, basking himself in his boyfriend’s warmth, before the two let each other go.


(He later realized he forgot to ask about Mingyu’s day.)


In the following weeks, Mingyu seemed a lot more tired than usual. He’s been juggling his work as a part-time graphic designer and a (part-time) baker, along with the kitchen duty at home, and even with the dress thing. To Minghao’s knowledge, they were supposed to buy the fabric together, but the other had already bought one. Sometimes, Seokmin would tell Minghao that Mingyu would choose to stay over at Seokmin’s place out of pure exhaustion, which is alright, but also worrying.


“Hey, um, you can delay the thing with the dress,” Minghao told Mingyu once as he was bidding the latter goodbye for his first job in the morning. “I’m pretty sure you’re tired.”


“No, no. I’ll give it to you as soon as I can.”


“Stop being stubborn. This is your health we’re talking about.”


“It’s fine! I really want to do it for you.”


He was so lovesick, it’s sickening. His eyes lit up like a convenience store at night, catching Minghao’s attention without meaning to. God, he doesn’t deserve this.


“Please give it some thought.” Minghao purposefully ignores the bags under Mingyu’s eyes when he gave a final goodbye nod. Normally, the other would cover them up carefully and would look his best self, but that doesn’t seem like the case for the first time in years. Sighing, he then left for his own job. They shouldn’t be talking about it in front of building before work. If the conversation took a negative turn, then. . . Mingyu can get distracted, and that’s Minghao’s fault for even bringing it up.


Even though Mingyu never changed with his affection and acts of gesture, Minghao could slowly feel himself getting toxic for the other.


That’s when he decided to save up and count the days before he will leave Mingyu. It can be for good, or maybe they can get back together after a while. But Minghao would much rather let Mingyu breathe rather than suffocate him with hope.


During his breaktime at the office, he used his post-its to list down his plans. It would be, as follows:


Save up to pay for rent and dress

Get all things secretly

Tell gyu about leaving and to stop all his plans about getting a car

Buy a ticket

Say sorry


Minghao used a red pen and crossed out a day in his calendar. It was the day of his actual flight, and the day of the break-up.


Or wait. Maybe they should break up before the flight. That seemed more ideal, and would avoid those cliché airport scenes – not that Mingyu would do any of those, because he despised those tropes just as Minghao does especially when the story execution isn’t neat.


Mingyu is probably gonna despise him if he won’t execute his plan well. He should give his best shot – in preparation and in explanation. Minghao didn’t want to leave him, but it’s probably for the best.






Hey sorry to interrupt the convo abt b99 but I’m just informing you that I’m going back to China in less than a month
Sorry if it’s so sudden lol but it must be done


what WHY







ew hyungs
anyway why minghao hyung

er I haven’t seen my family in a while and I think it’s better if I use my money to see them rather than to extend my visa
Yall are in my close friends list in Instagram anyway so yeah expect that I’ll be active
and you too everyone pls be active

And for HOW LONG IS THAT MR.???!!!



idk if it’s for good or if it’s for a while but I wont be coming back anytime soon

oh okay whatever

Rude! @/Chan



omg you stooped that low
[Picture of Jeonghan and Mingyu in the magazine company]


wth did chan just block me?????

>:^) @/Seok


Btw, I have a favor.
and please don’t tell mingyu.
and don’t kill me as well I thought about this for a long time. Anyway, I just need a place to stay for a few days. Soonyoung or Chan, are you okay with it?






Seven days before the break-up, Minghao decided to tell Mingyu.


“Oh,” he said, stopping midway in folding laundry. “Is that so? When’s your flight?”


“Um, it’s two weeks from now. Actually, a week and a few days.”


Mingyu smiled warmly, but he continued folding. “You must be excited, huh? Homesick?”


“Yeah, kind of. Anyway, I’m done with the dishes, I can fold the—”


“Oh, cool. You can go to sleep now.”


“No, Gyu, I’m gonna wait for you to stop and do that myself.”


Mingyu looked up at him, smirking. “You’re so distressed, you look ugly. Just. . . go to sleep.”


“Your insults are so lame. Just let me help.”


“No! You were in charge of mopping and stuff today, so it’s my turn, you know.”


Minghao glanced at the unfinished dress, folded neatly in one corner so the progress isn’t completely seen, before looking at his boyfriend once again, who’s now pre-occupied with folding. The former knew that the other was waiting for the other to leave so he can continue. There weren’t much to fold now, anyway.


God, he didn’t want to leave Mingyu.


Hold on. Wait! Where did that come from? He isn’t supposed to be thinking of these things. He should just go through the plan just to get it done and over with. The faster, the better, right? Wordlessly, he kissed his boyfriend’s forehead and headed to their shared bedroom, locking the door.


He went through his office bag, specifically in the pocket where he stashed all the things related to his stupid, selfish plan. The list was there, the envelope of money, too, as well as the calendar with a red X-mark seven days from now.


He took out his monthly pay from one of the bag’s pockets, took out half of the money, and placed it in the envelope.






From Jun
hey whats your final plan
we all miss you
hows your visa
is that what its called


To Jun
Yes it’s a visa, & it’s expiring. I can’t use my money to re-new it everytime.  
Btw, I’m coming home for good. I can’t stand the thought of us being awkward with each other after not seeing everyone for so long
and also I miss my bed
I bought a ticket already


From Jun
what about chan, seok, soonyoung, and gyu?
did u tell them?






Six days before the break-up, when they were about to get up for work in the morning, Minghao asked Mingyu, “Are you happy with our relationship?”


“Of course I am,” Mingyu answered easily. “Why? Is there – I mean, am I overlooking something?”


“No, I’m just checking.”


Confused, Mingyu faced him. The sun rays crawling from the window matched his skin tone. He looked so untouchable and vulnerably raw at the same time; it’s a wonder on how he does it. “I’m going to tell you if there’s something wrong with our relationship. Communication is key, you know?”


“Yeah, you’re right,” Minghao said as casual as possible as he got up. He noticed that Mingyu opened his mouth, seemingly about to add something. He never had the chance to say what he wanted, though, because Minghao already said, “I’m gonna take a shower now.”




(He should have volunteered to make breakfast for the both of them, but he’s already in the shower, and he can’t just leave when the other’s busy for food preparation.)


Two days before the break-up, Minghao forced himself to wake up in the middle of night, when Mingyu is asleep. After Minghao broke the news to his friends about his plan, Seokmin forbade Mingyu from overnights, covering it up with the excuse of “you’re almost finished!”


Carefully, he removed Mingyu’s arm draped around his waist, using the pillow nearby as a replacement. He spent the rest of the time packing up his things without taking out the most visible articles of clothing, like the jackets on the hangers, to place them inside his luggage. He can only hope that his boyfriend won’t be checking underneath the bed for the next two days.  






When Minghao fetched Mingyu outside of the bakery for the last time, his chest felt constricted upon seeing the giddy smile on the other’s face, saying something about Minghao not doing it for a while now. Minghao never replied, but he slipped his hand into Mingyu’s.


Dinner went well, and Mingyu seemed to notice that his boyfriend was extra silent. In an attempt to cheer the other up, he took out the finished dress and hid it behind his back.


“What are you up to?”


“Ta-da!” Mingyu happily shows the dress. It was plain white with sleeves, yet despite the simplicity, Minghao couldn’t ask for anything more. “Do you like it?”


“I love it.” He means it, examining the dress that he’s holding. “It’s so beautiful, Gyu.”


Mingyu laughed. “Hey, don’t cry now! Maybe you can try it on tomorrow. It’s already late.”


He playfully rolled his eyes. “It’s a Friday, we can sleep late.”


Kim Mingyu is truly one of a kind. Minghao is close to considering the whole thing off, and he wants to, but he tells himself not to. The red x-mark on the calendar reminds him of what should happen tomorrow. Kim Mingyu can finally be free, and he can finally be unshackled from Minghao’s toxicity. When they lied on the bed that night, Minghao couldn’t stop thinking about his stupid plan. He kept on looking at Mingyu, kept on imagining what will happen, and he just wants to stop the plan he’s been building for weeks.


He sits up and looks at the little container where Mingyu keeps his savings for the car, which they didn’t need at the moment.


Hey, don’t say we.


To prevent himself from crying, he wraps an arm around Mingyu, hoping to cross the bridge when they get there tomorrow. For now, he’ll sleep. For now, he’ll stay with Mingyu. For now, he’ll rest.


All that planning, and all that thinking, lead the both of them to a contrasting, mocking Saturday morning. Minghao couldn’t stop staring at Mingyu all throughout, and even insisted that they cook breakfast together, much to Mingyu’s surprise. When he picked his clothes for the day, he decides for a sweater and jeans, as to not raise any suspicion, then he tells Mingyu he wants to wear the dress for a special occasion, who believes him. He just wants to forget thinking about it, but all that work and internal debate has lead the both of them to the present scene –


“Minghao, I have to talk to you.”


Is this a sign? Minghao questions himself if he slipped up with the plan for the past few weeks. He didn’t, right? “Funny, I have to talk to you too.”


“Ah, well. You go first,” Mingyu smiles encouragingly. “I would like to hear from you.”


“You hear from me everyday, you big baby.” As an subtle attempt to finish collecting his things, Minghao walks to the socket where his phone is charging.


“I think it’d be nice if you go first now.”


Oh, well, he said it, not me. This is it. As confidently as he can, Minghao stands up, turns around, and pockets his charger and phone in his jacket.  


“Mingyu, let’s break up.”


The person in question doesn’t visibly react at first; he just stands there, on his place, unmoving. It takes him a few seconds before he raises an eyebrow. “What?”


“I think we should end this relationship.”


“Did I do something wrong?”


Mingyu gulps, and he looks so unsure of himself and of everything; Minghao would like to ask whoever there is in power to turn back the time. The puppy eyes and the pouty expression are back, and suddenly, he loses all his confidence at once. He didn’t want to break up with Mingyu.


“Wa—wait, um, listen. Hear me out first.”


Mingyu nods at his every word.


“Um, it’s not your fault, it’s mine.” What was he supposed to say again? “I’m not saying that we can’t handle the long distance, but uh, you – you’re fine with low maintenance, which is cool. And helpful. Especially if we’re in a long distance rel--- wait I’m breaking up with you. Um. . .”


Mingyu’s eyes lit up like a convenience store at night, but it’s watery, and Minghao would rather not look at it. He hates the fact that he can’t let it go unnoticed, but this isn’t the time to think about himself. He should come up with some way to convince Mingyu that the relationship should be called off.


“Wait, um. Take two.” Pathetic. “I’ve been getting toxic to you lately, if you haven’t noticed. You’re being very generous, and you work hard to make this relationship work, and I’m eternally grateful for that, but if one side of the boat is heavy, it will still sink. I’m sorry for. . . keeping my side of the boat light.


“You didn’t do anything,” Mingyu interrupted when he had the chance. “Look at me.” He holds Minghao’s face in his hands. “I’m happy. I’m happy with you. I’m happy with our relationship. I’m not bothered, I’m not sad, I’m not anything.”


“You’re saying that now!


“And I’m saying it again after this passes!”


“That is if we meet again.”


“We will! Maybe we can find a solution.”


Minghao removed Mingyu’s hands from his face, with his thumb gently massaging the other’s hands for a couple of seconds before letting go. “See? If we need a solution, there’s a problem. This is a problem, and you’re stressing out over it. You should be in that job offer you had before -- making money, feeding your family – not here, alone. It’s inevitable that I’ll go back to China, anyway, and what about you? You’ll be stuck here with two jobs. I can’t help you, Mingyu.”


“You’re not making any sense!”


“All the more on why you should break up with me!”


Mingyu’s tears start to fall at the last word. He blindly looks for Minghao’s hand, and the latter dodges every touch from the other.


“Stop. Don’t touch me. Mingyu.” He brushes off the imaginary dust to show the nonexistent distaste. “Stop it. It’s not good for you. God, Kim Mingyu, do you ever listen? Don’t touch me!”


“Minghao, please. I don’t want to lose—” he couldn’t even continue speaking, his own coughs interrupting him. If the conversation was different, Minghao would have laughed at his pathetic-looking boyfriend. “Please, don’t let me go. I’m really sorry for whatever I did. I promise I’ll be, um, a better boyfriend. I will stop spoiling you, and, um, what—what else?”


“No. Don’t be stubborn. We should break up. This relationship isn’t doing good for the both of us.”


“For the both of us? Or just for me?”


“For you. I don’t want you sacrificing your sleep over the dress. I don’t think you deserve someone who doesn’t ask you about your day. You don’t deserve to be overworked just because of – me. Can’t you see it? You have bags under your eyes, you sleep so late every night for what? A dress?”


“I thought you wanted that—”


“I do! And I still do! But I don’t want you using some part of your salary to help me pay for my visa extensions, or declining offers just because I can’t afford to travel with you, or – I can’t think of all the reasons right now! I don’t know. Whatever. If this relationship progresses further, I don’t think you have anything left for yourself, Mingyu.”


“No – I’m telling you, you’re wrong!”


“How can you be so oblivious, Mingyu?!”


“I’m not oblivious! I’m aware of what’s happening to me, but I’m okay, I’m fine!” Then he softens. “Minghao, can we not fight like this again?”


The Korean tries to hold his hand again, but he dodges and scolds him. It soon became a small fight, wherein they do the exact same thing over and over and over: try to hold hand, dodge, scold. His voice is getting louder now, and he wanted to hydrate himself; Minghao had no right to have enough, but he did, and he is desperate to get this over with, so he pushes Mingyu until the latter stumbles backwards.


And that’s when a small red box falls from his pocket.


“What the. . .”


Mingyu immediately scrambles over to pick it up, but Minghao is faster. He grabs the box and looks at Mingyu with watery eyes. “What is this?”


Instead of answering, Mingyu awkwardly gets up from the floor.


“What the fuck, Kim Mingyu?”


“I’m sorry.”


Hesitantly, softly, Minghao asks, “Is this for me?” The other nods in reply. “But you -- you know I’m leaving, and. . .”


“Your parents gave me permission months ago. Sorry, I didn’t tell you. Uh, we can wait.” He nods. “I can wait. I was, um, already saving up. Just in case you say yes.”


Minghao feels ridiculous. Everything is out of place. God. He still doesn’t want to break up with him. And then this.


“And, you know, if we established things, um. . . the money, can be, you know, saved up. Maybe we can do it privately, and if it’s okay with your culture and family, you can wear a wedding dress.” He shakes his head. “That’s gonna take a long time to save up, but yeah, like you said I should’ve just taken up the job offer before. Actually, I don’t know. This isn’t the right time.”


“What about the car thing?”


“That was a lie. I was saving up for this.”


“For someone who likes practicality, you surely are doing the opposite.”


“Our jobs are at a walking distance.”


“You’re making the wrong choice.” His voice is wobbly, it’s annoying. He pushes the red box back to Mingyu’s hand. “You can have it. I have some money for my share of the rent and stuff, and as payment for the dress. I don’t know how it costs, but this is all the money that I can give you. I don’t know if I need to pay more stuff at the airport. I mean, who knows?” He takes out the envelope and extends it to the other.


“No, that’s your money.”


“And it should be yours.” He couldn’t even look at the Korean when he placed the envelope on the dining table, the nearest one at the moment. Both of them are quiet when Minghao walks away to get his luggage from underneath the bed, and when he’s about to leave.


Mingyu just stands there, frozen, with tears on his face and a red box in hand, waiting for something to happen.


“Minghao,” he calls when the doorknob is being opened. “Please.”


“I’m sorry, Mingyu.”


“Do you want this to happen? Did you really want to break up with me?”


Minghao doesn’t answer and closes the door without saying goodbye.





From Soonyoung
Hey, Chan and I are waiting outside. You can go pick out which of our apartments you’d like to stay in!


From Jun
only a few more days till we see you <3 we miss you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


From Mingyu
I’ll respect your decision.