Ryeowook couldn’t pin-point when he started to have feelings for Jongwoon, but stuff like that didn’t matter to him as much as it did to Jongwoon. Jongwoon was more of a cheesy person when it came to romance, at least from what Ryeowook could tell. When Ryeowook had first met Jongwoon, him and his girlfriend then appeared so cringeworthy to him. But the only flaw to that was that it was seemingly forever ago. Lately, Jongwoon had been expressing been expressing how lonely he felt. He didn’t express it a lot, but to Ryeowook, it hurt his heart heavily. He wanted to be there for Jongwoon as more than a friend, even if it didn’t particularly mean a romantic relationship. He just wanted to get rid of his awful feeling for good. Ryeowook felt being Jongwoon’s friend alone just doesn’t cut it.
When Ryeowook and Jongwoon had met, they were at a summer-camp run by one of Jongwoon’s best friends’ parents. Ryeowook was a middle school student then, he thought everything was stupid and nothing could make him smile, until he met Jongwoon. Jongwoon was in high school then. He was optimistic and about as immature as Ryeowook was. Jongwoon approached Ryeowook first, asking him why he wasn’t in the field with the rest of the boys in his cabin. Whatever Ryeowook had replied with lead to a great friendship. Jongwoon wasn’t a cabin leader or anything, he was only there because his best friends and his parents liked having him there. Jongwoon thought he was hot shit because of his ability to just lounge around, and Ryeowook submitted to it. ‘I can’t get in trouble if I’m with Jongwoon,’ he’d believe. They were mostly great memories, it was only Jongwoon’s girlfriend of that time being possessive and weird about him. In Ryeowooks middle school journal, he’d written, quote, ‘he gets all goo-goo-ga-ga when she’s around. It’s annoying how he listens to everything she says. He’s MY older summer-camp brother, I want to spend time with him too’.
But those days were long over. However, even if they were, Ryeowooks memory would always travel back.
Ryeowook reunited with Jongwoon as an adult at a pub while with his friends. Ryeowook never imagined he’d see him again, so he was shy to talk to him, but it was actually Jongwoon who approached him first. ‘Sorry, is your name Ryeowook?’ he asked. And when Ryeowook replied it was indeed him, it lead to the start of another great relationship. It turned out they were never that far from each other, and Ryeowook confessed to him that night he used to think of him like an older brother. Jongwoon seemed flattered by it and told Ryeowook, ‘I guess I have two now’, which made Ryeowook feel shy. Why did he feel so shy?
That night was long over, too, but when Ryeowook thought of Jongwoon as his crush, his mind always went back.
Ryeowook was sitting on his bed with a notebook of lined paper and a blue-ink pen, trying to write down his feelings for Jongwoon in the best way possible, but these memories kept coming back to him. What if Jongwoon would think he’s weird? What if he only saw him as a younger sibling? That would be so awkward. Ryeowooks mind even hovered over the thought that it was selfish to write this while Jongwoon was feeling sickly lonely; he ended up tranced in the idea of Jongwoon thinking it’s fake. But eventually, he shook his head and got to writing.
When he finished writing his letter. He couldn’t help but let his emotions overcome him. He stared at what he had written until tears filled his eyes. It was all his deepest, most sincere feelings. It was so cringeworthy, and the fact it was a love letter made it worse. Who writes those anymore? Ryeowook set the pen and notebook next to him and laid back on his bed, thinking of how he would slip this to Jongwoon and the right time to do it. Maybe a love letter was his best option, he wasn’t the type to send it over text. He usually just asked people out to their faces, but Jongwoon was different and a lot special to him. Ryeowook put his pillow over his face and groaned. If Jongwoon didn’t like him back, it might be for the better. They could forget this ever happened and continue their lives as simple ‘friends’.
It turned out, lying on your bed with your pillow over your face while crying, maybe wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but Ryeowook felt better when he woke up. He’d slept for about two hours, the current time was one in the morning, and with this Ryeowook figured he’d sneak over to Jongwoon’s place all the way on the 7th floor of the very same building and give him his letter. A little voice in his head had been ridiculing him the entire time, but he’d got the job done in what felt like 3 minutes. Trying to get back to sleep was difficult, Ryeowook couldn’t stop the butterflies in his stomach from crawling up his throat, but somehow, he ended up sleeping like a baby.
At ten in the morning, Jongwoon finds a paper at his door step. A letter written in blue-ink with words that stood out to him like ‘love’, ‘sorry’, ‘weird’ and ‘more’. It was peculiar-looking already, but when he’d picked it up and read it, it became fascinating.
In all honestly, Jongwoon would’ve never guessed Ryeowook would crush on him. He thought of Ryeowook as just a kid. But the way the letter was written, he knew it was serious. It wasn’t childish at all — minus the fact it’s in blue-ink. Jongwoon couldn’t help but smile, but he didn’t know how he could tell Ryeowook he had received his letter. He didn’t know if he could return his feelings either, but to ignore the existence of the letter entirely would make him feel as miserable as he did.
knocked on Ryeowooks door. It was eleven in the morning now, and he had to tell Ryeowook he couldn’t return his feelings. When Ryeowook answered the door, he appeared smaller than usual. He looked so shy, he must’ve felt so weak and powerless. He nervously greeted Jongwoon with his fake smile. Jongwoon felt as if he was about to crush the boy into pieces, but he could never tell a lie.
“I saw your note... your letter...” Jongwoon started. “I appreciate it, but...” Ryeowook wasn’t even looking at him, but had finished Jongwoon’s sentence for him.
“You can’t return my feelings.” He whispered. “It’s okay, I’m sorry. Forget about it.”
Jongwoon was at a loss for words, but the door was already shut, so what was the use in thinking of any. Jongwoon couldn’t even bring himself to smile even sadly, instead he just went back to his place, feeling like the worst person in the world. He hadn’t taken much thought into the fact Ryeowook is actually a person with real feelings. He was no longer a simple-minded young teen who based his feelings on whatever made him appear ‘cool’. Jongwoon felt ashamed of himself and more selfish than he had felt in a while. He ended up crying himself back to sleep and about 15 minutes late for work.
Ryeowook and Jongwoon hadn’t spoken since the letter incident about a week ago, each day that passed was a day Jongwoon thought of Ryeowook more, to try and start seeing him as a person. He knew he’d seen him as a person once, maybe all those years ago when they’d first met, but everything after that was when Jongwoon considered his heart to of gone cold. Maybe it was the friends he’d surrounded himself with before Ryeowook suddenly appeared in his view again. When he met Ryeowook again for the first time, he thought nothing of his words. Jongwoon was afraid Ryeowooks years of ‘friendship’ with him was one-sided. He made himself sick to think of it, but there was no other explanation. If Ryeowook has truly thought their friendship was mutual all these years, he might as well be the most naïve person in the world. Jongwoon wanted to make it up to him more than anything.
Ryeowook was an only child, he didn’t seem to have a big friend group, and Jongwoon had felt like a safe-space different from his parents. ‘What an asshole that Jongwoon must be’. Jongwoon was now in front of Ryeowooks door, not sure of what to do or say when he opened the door, he knocked anyway. When Ryeowook answered, he didn’t say anything either. Jongwoon wanted to hug the shorter man, but instead he just said he was sorry. He didn’t want to get into the complications that ran through his mind over the week at the moment, he just wanted to offer Ryeowook his apology. Although it was simple, completely to his surprise, Ryeowook offered Jongwoon come inside, and once the door was shut, Ryeowook hugged him first. Neither of them had any idea what they were doing, but when Jongwoon hugged back, they could both tell how bad they needed this.
“I knew you wouldn’t let that dumb letter get in the way of our friendship.” Ryeowook sniffed. The butterflies rampaging in Jongwoon’s stomach seemed to choke him from the inside at Ryeowooks words. Jongwoon knew Ryeowook, and Ryeowook had known Jongwoon better than he had known himself.
Multiple memories of times they’d hung out as adults came back to him. Jongwoon had lost so much touch with himself in recent years, now he realized their friendship was never completely fake. It was more awkward than anything. Ryeowook had always been nervous like this, and Jongwoon had always felt awkward and nervous himself when meeting or speaking with each other. Overwhelmed by his realization, he said through his sobs, “Ryeowook, I love you too.”