It’s always quiet when he wakes up. Dokja opens his eyes to a dimly lit room, white walls and soft white carpet. He’s lying on a bed, bigger than he could have ever afforded on his own, when he worked in Mino Soft. The sheets next to him are rumpled, residual warmth still lingering when Dokja sweeps his hand over them. ‘Ah,’ Dokja thinks, ‘he’s up already.’ He sits up, limbs still heavy with sleep.
As always, there are white slippers on the ground, and he slips into them. He can hear the kettle running faintly in the kitchen and steps out of the room. White floors, white ceilings, white furniture... nothing ever changes. In the living room, there are windows that stretch so tall they touch the roof of the house, the only view being a vast, snowy forest that Dokja can’t see the end of.
He stands in front of it, dazedly looking out.
White, white, white... everything he sees is white. It’s been the same since he woke up in this house with no doors. There is no calendar, no clock, the oven doesn’t have the time, and neither does the microwave. He also doesn’t have his phone, hasn’t had it since Jonghyuk took it upon himself to get rid of it.
The cause of too much stress, he had said, eyes dark and unrelenting even as Dokja pleaded to keep it. Dokja forgot about it soon enough, the days blend together and he loses himself in the stillness. He stares at the sky. There are no clouds, and Dokja has never seen the sun.
He had asked once, where the sun was. Jonghyuk’s only response had been to place his hand over Dokja’s eyes and tell him to sleep. Dokja stopped caring when he woke up, simply accepting the fact that in this white world of theirs, some things just didn’t exist.
He hears footsteps walking towards him and he can see Jonghyuk’s reflection in the window, dark hair, black shirt, black sweatpants, and dark eyes – the only splash of color. He’s holding a cup in his hand and Dokja can see the steam gently rising, can smell the herbal scent of tea.
“Kim Dokja.” Yoo Jonghyuk says, coming to a stop next to him. He holds out the cup. “Drink.” It’s the same routine every day. Dokja takes it and Jonghyuk watches him. He can’t remember the last time those eyes looked away, but there’s something festering in them that makes Dokja pause. It’s the same look he gets when Dokja wakes in the middle of the night to see Jonghyuk sitting up and staring at him unblinkingly. Those are the nights Dokja knows Jonghyuk never sleeps.
The cup leaves his mouth and Jonghyuk is already reaching out for it. Dokja has never finished the tea. He’s stopped feeling hungry or thirsty, but Jonghyuk still continues to feed him and so Dokja never says anything. “Jonghyuk-ah,” Dokja says, letting Jonghyuk reach for his hand. He holds it like an anchor, as if he’s scared that the moment it loosens, Dokja will disappear. “Are you okay?”
Jonghyuk stays still and Dokja doesn’t push. He waits. Time passes, even if he has no clue how much, and the tea starts cooling before Jonghyuk finally moves.
He pulls Dokja into him and wraps his arms around Dokja’s waist, the fading warmth of the cup pressing into the small of his back. Dokja feels the gentle press of lips on his forehead, lingering before trailing down over his eyelids, cheeks, and nose, finally stopping at Dokja’s lips.
This isn’t the first time they’ve kissed, but there’s desperation in it. Jonghyuk kisses Dokja like he wants to reach into him and brand his touch into Dokja’s soul. He kisses like Dokja is the only thing keeping him alive.
Jonghyuk finally pulls away and buries his head in Dokja’s neck, “Don’t leave me.” Dokja hears him whisper, low and pleading. He tries to look into Jonghyuk’s eyes, the most honest part of him, but Jonghyuk refuses to move.
“I won’t.” Dokja replies, running a hand through Jonghyuk’s hair. The arms get tighter and Dokja winces. He doesn’t complain though, not when he knows this is the only thing that seems to bring Jonghyuk back to him and out of the darkness hanging off him.
“Liar.” He hears Jonghyuk say, something visceral and raw in his voice. Dokja feels like he should understand, but the haze in his mind muffles that feeling and so he simply closes his eyes. His chest hurts, but Dokja doesn’t know why and Jonghyuk never answers when he asks, the hollow look he gets every time stops Dokja from prying.
But the feeling of wrongness that Dokja has always tried to suppress, if only because Jonghyuk seems happier in this world, grows stronger. He looks around at the never-ending white and the empty sky that never changes. “ Jonghyuk, where is this?” He asks, trying to pull away. Jonghyuk freezes, even his breathing seems to cease. “Answer me.” Dokja pleads, starting to struggle in a hold that used to feel like safety.
Even now, the house is too quiet; it’s always been quiet. Dokja doesn’t know why, but he feels there should be noise. Anything other than this suffocating silence. Brown hair and red eyes on one side and a snapback hat on his other flash in his mind and he winces, his head aching.
This used to happen more often, Dokja seeing people he should know but doesn’t. Jonghyuk took care of that shortly after Dokja told him about it.
Jonghyuk lifts his head and forces Dokja to look at him. There’s starlight in his eyes, amidst the black void, and Dokja slowly stops struggling, captivated by the shine. “Dokja,” he faintly hears Jonghyuk say, his voice deep and hypnotic, “it’s been a long day. Aren’t you tired?”
Dokja nods, his limbs heavy and eyelids slipping down. “Mm,” he answers. “I feel... tired.” He thinks there was something he was saying before this, but Jonghyuk always knows best and he feels the need to crawl back into their soft bed and not wake up until the pounding in his head goes away.
“Sleep then.” Jonghyuk leans in to press a sweet kiss to Dokja’s lips.
It’s always quiet when he wakes up.