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finally, beautiful stranger

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The car ride home is silent.

Soobin grips the streering wheel until his fingers hurt, his knuckles white. He’s paying attention to the road, but he can’t control the panic settling inside of him, the uneasiness, the desperation. He’s trying his best to be collected and calm, after all, this is not about him - but it’s difficult when the silence feels suffocating, when it feels like weight.

He wishes he could say something. There are a lot of things he wants to say, but his words are stuck somewhere between his ribcage, painfully lodged within himself.

The air is thick in the small space of the car. Soobin can barely see through the fog in his mind, except for the fact that Yeonjun’s here and he’s not stuck in a bed with white walls and thick curtains anymore.

“Hey,” Soobin calls out softly, sees Yeonjun stirring quietly in his seat. He wants to do more than this. He wants to comfort him and pulls him in a hug, but he can’t. “Do you remember this part of town?”

Yeonjun doesn’t answer for a moment, but he gives the street a long look, like he’s trying to dig memories in his mind, like he’s searching for a sense of familiarity, recognition. Soobin can hear him sigh, and it’s one that he’s heard plenty of times before in the hospital, when he couldn’t do a simple task and he felt like this was his fault somehow. In the corner of his eyes, he sees him sink further into the chair, as though he’s trying to fold into himself and make himself unseen.

“I don’t think so,” Yeonjun shakes his head, mulling it over. “Can’t remember anything.”

“Okay,” Soobin understands, even when he wants to scream, wants to remind him that they’ve lived in this area for a year now. But he only nods, turning into a corner, focusing himself on the road. “How do you feel?”

Yeonjun lets out a small laugh. Soobin realizes it’s the first time he’s heard him laugh in weeks. It still sounds like Yeonjun, still sounds like how he used to laugh - carefree, as if nothing could bother him. Soobin misses it. Misses him. More than he could ever say.

The accident doesn’t actually change anything - even when he first woke up in that hospital, the first thing he thought of was Yeonjun. Soobin’s first worry, his first concern. Although there were needles stuck in his veins, all he could think of was Yeonjun - the need to know where he was, and if he was okay.

Here, back in their car, weeks after the truck drove right into their parked car, Soobin’s heart still thrums for Yeonjun. As it always did, relentless and forceful.

The accident changes one thing, though. One thing that changes everything. Yeonjun can’t remember him. Doesn’t remember who he is and who they are. Doesn’t remember a single thing about their life together.

Yeonjun looks at Soobin and there’s nothing there. No weight, no traces of what used to be theirs. Yeonjun looks at him now like it’s his first time, strange and searching - nothing warm about it anymore. Distant and fleeting, and Soobin wonders if he’ll able to see it again. If Yeonjun would ever look at him with the same love again.

It’s cold. Their wedding ring, on his fourth finger on his left hand. It’s cold when he sees Yeonjun’s hand and his ring finger is empty.

“I don’t know,” Yeonjun whispers quietly, like he’s cautious. Unsure. “A little scared, I think.”

“Why?”

“Well, I don’t actually... know you.”

Soobin laughs, despite the reality. It’s funny when he thinks about it hard enough. This is the man he married a year ago, fell in love with years before, but he doesn’t remember.

It’s funny, really.

“I promise I’m actually your husband,” Soobin says lightly as he tries to ignore the uncomfortable knot forming in his stomach. “I can prove it.”

Yeonjun smiles at that, even when his eyes are sad. More than anything, he just looks tired.

“Yeah, don’t worry.” He puts his head on the window and Soobin watches as his hair falls to his forehead. “I trust you, I saw the documents and everything.”

“We’re almost there.” Soobin informs him, but only because doesn’t know what else to say. He wants to say that he misses him, always, that ache never-ending and present. He wants to say that he’s scared of losing him, even when Yeonjun is here now, but he can’t handle the nagging thought in the back of his head that he was so close to never being able to stare at Yeonjun’s familiar eyes again.

It stings, the way he’s holding the steering wheel, but he closes his mouth and swallows it whole. This isn’t about him.

“Is there anything you want? Before we get home?”

It’s silence again. Soobin watches the light on the street and silently wishes for another chance.

A month ago, it was Yeonjun at the back of the steering wheel. Now it’s him, and he still remembers the sound of shattering glass, the feeling of being thrown out of his seat.

“Just wanna sleep,” Yeonjun sighs again, and Soobin can see it - the way his shoulders slump, the heavy flutter of his eyelids. He looks tired, but Soobin knows it’s deeper than that, the exhaustion clings tight around his bones. “Don’t worry about me, Soobin.”

Soobin wants to say that he can’t help it, but saying it aloud won’t solve anything, so he only nods.

“We’re almost home,” Soobin only needs to turn left to arrive at the apartment. Their apartment, a home they built from scratch. It slips out of his mouth without thinking, because it was, and it has been their home for a long time, but as he spots the glint of his ring, it dawns on him, that maybe it’s not anymore. Maybe now it’s only his.

Yeonjun closes his eyes and doesn’t answer.

*

Is he okay?

It’s his brother, Seokjin, on the other side of the phone, and Soobin feels an immediate sense of relief when he hears his voice.

“Yeah. He just looks confused. Tired, too.”

As expected. When can we see him?

Soobin lies on his bed and lets himself listen to the running water of Yeonjun on the bathroom. He puts his arm on his eyes, feeling the business of the day on his muscles. He didn’t realize how tired he is until now, the plumpness of the cushion already making him drowsy.

“I don’t know. Whenever he’s up to it, I guess,” Soobin sighs, closing his eyes. “He’s not really up to meeting anyone else except me.”

They said his memories can come back, right?

“They said it’s a small possibility,” he says, biting his lip - trying to calm his nerves. He has been clinging to that for weeks, has been gripping tight to that little chance that, maybe, Yeonjun will remember him again. He has to, right? He has to remember him again. Soobin will wait, oh, he’ll wait, however long it would take.

He’s safe. That’s what matters the most. He’s here, with you.

Soobin’s eyes feel hot, and it’s scorching, the way his lungs contricts harshly against his ribcage. Some days, he forgets how to breathe - like now, as he looks at the ceiling and he reminds himself that he isn’t back in the car anymore, he’s home, in the safety of his room.

He almost lost him, in that accident. Soobin woke up a few weeks before him and he waited a painfully long time for Yeonjun to open his eyes. They purposefully put him in a coma, so that the swelling in his head would heal itself - or, that’s what he understood. It didn’t make him less afraid that Yeonjun wouldn’t wake up, and Soobin wished on everything he knew to bring Yeonjun back to him.

He still remembers when Yeonjun opened his eyes, and he had never felt happiness like that before - the relief, the first surge of breath that he exhaled. He had stared at him from the edge of the bed, for Yeonjun to regain enough consciousness, to finally recognize him. All he wanted was to feel him again. To hear his heartbeat, the sound of his voice.

It took Yeonjun a long time. To finally look at Soobin.

When he did, though, this was what he said, the first word he uttered in weeks: “Doctor?”

His stomach dropped in horror and he felt sick, as though the world had crumbled right under him. In retrospect, it did. Soobin’s world, at least.

That was when it dawned on him that Yeonjun didn’t know who he was.

“Yeah. He’s here.” Soobin listens at the running water and reminds himself that Yeonjun’s okay. That he’s here, alive, breathing.

Take care of yourself too, okay? He’s not the only one who got hurt.

Soobin purses his lips, thinks about the soreness in his body that doesn’t seem to disappear. “I’m fine, hyung.”

Listen. I’m here if you need to talk, okay? And I’ll visit you if you ever need me.

It would be nice, he decides, if Seokjin could visit them. It’s been awhile, but he knew Seokjin would drop everything just to make sure he’s okay, and he doesn’t want to bother. “I know, but you don’t have to. You’re busy and everything.”

Never for you.” Seokjin says and Soobin can hear a slight ruffle on the end of the line, like someone’s moving.

Soobin crinkles his forehead. “Is that Yoongi-hyung with you?”

Yeah,” Seokjin laughs, and Soobin notes that he sounds happy. “He’s trying to cuddle me, I’m sorry.

“Of course he is. Hyung?”

Yeah, Bin?

“Thanks for calling.”

No need for that. Yoongi says hi, by the way. To both you and Yeonjun.”

“Okay,” Soobin says, simply, because he doesn’t have the heart to remind him that Yeonjun doesn’t remember them. “I need to go wash up. Goodbye, hyung. Love you.”

Bye. Love you too.”

*

“So, I’m a dance teacher?”

Yeonjun looks at him expectantly, his eyes round, and Soobin takes his time to nod and smile, as he thinks about how he used to watch him dance everywhere - in the studio, in their room, in their kitchen. Soobin thinks it was one of the reasons why he fell in love with him.

“Yeah,” He nods again, can’t help but stares at him and feels fond. “You are.”

Yeonjun looks fresh, his hair still wet from the shower. He moves to sit beside him on the couch, but he’s not looking at Soobin. His hands are clasped together, his brows furrowed, as his gaze falls on somewhere that Soobin can’t see.

“How about you? What do you do?”

“I’m a graphic designer.”

Yeonjun sighs and leans back, resting his head on the back of the sofa, dragging his knees to his chest. Soobin idly notices that he’s wearing socks, just like he used to. “Sorry - it’s. A lot to take in.”

“I know,” Soobin fights the urge to bring him closer. “It’s okay, take as long as you need.”

Yeonjun glances up at him, peering at him through heavy eyelids. He can see him thinking, curiosity swimming in his eyes. “How did we meet?”

“At a cafe,” He laughs, shaking his head, because it’s funny somehow. It is a treasured memory, it has always been - but to think that they used to be strangers, and now they’re here, being strangers again. A circle of life or some shit, he thinks bitterly.

“Really?” It seems to pique his interest, and he straights up a little. “How?”

“You were a barista at my favorite cafe,” Soobin leans back too, relaxing his body. Feeling dizzy, either from fatigue or the fact that Yeonjun is so close to him now, not seperated by a hospital bed or a cannula. “I thought you were cute, so I kept going there even when I don’t like coffee.”

Yeonjun surprisingly laughs. “How was it your favorite cafe, then?”

Soobin stares at the one strand of hair tucked behind Yeonjun’s ear. “Because you were there.”

He nods, biting his lip, his eyes becoming crescents. “Of course.”

Soobin wants to think that he already has Yeonjun back. That they could go live their lives again, exactly like before - hectic mornings that didn’t feel heavy because they had each other, slow nights with nothing but their laughs. He wants to think that this is permanent, having him here, feeling the sleeves of their shirts touching. He badly wants to believe that to be true.

Soobin remembers a moment a few years ago, during their first month, Yeonjun had kissed him on the cheek, and his eyes were shining. He said it with the softest voice, as if there was nothing else he wanted to say, nothing else he wanted Soobin to hear.

It used to be his thing, whenever he found Soobin doing something cute, or if Soobin had said something right - Yeonjun would stop whatever he was doing, and he would look at him. And there it was, plain, bare on his tongue: I fall in love with you today, Soobin.

His heart would clench whenever he heard it, even when Yeonjun said it frequently, even when it was over something so small, so trivial. Soobin would never know what to do because it always felt like his heart was going to split in two. It always felt like it burned when he looked back at Yeonjun with stars in his eyes, only for him.

Soobin never said it back, but he always made sure that Yeonjun knew, that it was the same for him. He always made sure that he knew, by the way he touched him, by the way he took care of him - he made sure that Yeonjun knew he fell in love, too, twice in a second, forever in a single breath. He wishes he had said it back, even when Yeonjun knew how he felt. He wishes he had just say it back.

Because he can’t say it back now. Not here, when they’re inches apart but Soobin is just a stranger to him.

“I wish I could remember that,” Yeonjun whipers to the air.

“Yeah,” Soobin whispers back, because there is nothing else he can say.

“Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Do you know how Beomgyu and I broke up?”

Soobin blinks, surprised. He doesn’t know when was the last time he heard that name or was uttered from Yeonjun’s mouth without indifference.

“You remember him?”

“I don’t remember anything after him. In my mind, we’re still together."

Oh.

Oh.

Soobin grips the armrest, and it aches to think that Yeonjun has nothing left of them, not even a single memory.

“You broke up with him,” Soobin says, slowly, testing it out. “You told me you weren’t happy.”

Yeonjun nods, staring into the distance. “I can’t remember that too.”

“Breaking up with him?”

“No,” he corrects. “Being unhappy with him.”

Soobin shuts his eyes tight.

This isn’t about him.

“Are you sleepy yet?” He asks, desperately trying to change the subject, doesn’t want to think about Beomgyu and Yeonjun and how they were childhood best friends, basically inseperable. They met when they were just little kids, little Yeonjun falling in love with the little boy next door. He doesn’t want to think about how Beomgyu was Yeonjun’s first love in Daegu, and he met Soobin here, in Seoul, miles away from his home.

“Yeah. Tired,” Yeonjun looks at him, searching. “Should I sleep in the spare room?”

Amidst their busy day, Soobin completely forgets about that. Didn’t think about the fact that they wouldn’t be sleeping in the same bed anymore.

“Oh, yeah.” He says dumbly. “No actually - I’ll go do that. You can sleep in our room.”

Yeonjun nods and gets up. He looks unsure, wiping his cheek in hesitation.

“What do we usually do before we sleep?”

“We say good night.”

He still looks confused, out of place, but he manages a smile. For once, it doesn’t look forced or sad. Maybe it looks like a hint of acceptance. Soobin hopes it is.

“Good night then, Soobin.”

“Good night,” Soobin answers, and he stops himself from saying my love. “Yeonjun.”

Soobin pretends it doesn’t break him.

*

When Soobin wakes up, Yeonjun is already in the kitchen, still in his pajamas. His hair is unkempt and messy, and his eyes aren’t fully open yet, still heavy with sleep. There is color on his cheeks, and Soobin is glad he doesn’t look sick anymore.

“Have you been up for long?” Soobin asks, taking two slices of bread from the counter and sitting across from him. He puts butter on them evenly, as he takes a brief glance at Yeonjun’s still sluggish form.

“Nah, just five minutes ago,” Yeonjun tilts his head, looking at him in the eyes. “It’s Saturday. What do we usually do on Saturday?”

Soobin thinks about it for a moment. They do a lot of things on Saturday.

Sometimes, they spent the entire morning in bed, wrapped around each other. Yeonjun had always liked looking at Soobin. He would put his chin on Soobin’s chest and look at him, not even saying anything, and his eyes would roam Soobin’s face, like he was memorizing his every details. Soobin would always get flustered, getting attention from Yeonjun, even back when they were still dating, even when they just got married, even months into their marriage - Soobin had always felt shy whenever Yeonjun stared at him without a word. He asked him one day, the reason why he did that. Yeonjun had shaken his head, his lips forming a fond smile, saying a simple: because I love you.

Sometimes, Yeonjun had an extra class at his dance studio and if he didn’t have any work, Soobin would accompany him. He would watch him by the corner and observed the way he moved, the way he was so attentive and caring of his students. Soobin was happy to do just that. He didn’t think he wanted anything else.

Sometimes, they went on a date. They never did anything too fancy, just a simple dinner at their favorite restaurant, and they would come home with happiness settling inside and it always felt like forever, what they had.

It wasn’t forever.

“We do a lot of things,” Soobin replies simply, because it is easier than to explain everything they used to do. “Is there anything you want to do today?”

“I’m curious about my work.”

“I already called your studio. You can come back on Monday, if you’re up for it.” Soobin carefully puts the bread slices in the toaster. “They said they will give you a few weeks to decide.”

“I’ll think about it. What are you up to today?”

“I have to meet a client,” Soobin sits back on the chair, frowning. He doesn’t want to leave their apartment, but work is work, he supposes. “Sorry I can’t cancel.”

“It’s okay,” Yeonjun says, pursing his lips. “I’ll find something to do.”

Soobin nods, even when he doesn’t want to leave Yeonjun alone, but he can’t really do anything about it. It’s not about not trusting Yeonjun or thinking that he can’t handle himself, this is more about him, and how he still can’t let the accident go out of his mind. It’s still fresh in his mind - the ringing in his ears, the sudden force. He still remembers the last second before their car got hit, remember Yeonjun pulling him in a kiss, his hands carding in his hair. He remembers how Yeonjun smelled fresh, like his favorite perfume, and his lips were cold.

Soobin can’t let it go. No matter how hard he tries. He still remembers everything.

He doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s scared.

The sound of the toaster brings him back to reality. He doesn’t know how long he dozed off, but Yeonjun takes the slices of bread out and puts one of them in front of Soobin with a plate underneath.

“Here you go.”

“Thanks,” Soobin wants to cry and he doesn’t know if it’s the fact that they’re having breakfast together, or if it is because Yeonjun’s here, and he’s smiling.

*

Yeonjun isn’t sure who the person in front of him is. He’s tall, much taller than him, dark mop of hair in his head, and he looks like he’s just seen a ghost.

“Oh, sorry,” The man steps back from the door, as if it offended him. He flinches and puts his hands out, as though to indicate that he means no harm. “I thought Soobin-hyung is here, too. I can come back when he’s home.”

“You want to meet Soobin?” Yeonjun asks, wondering if he’s one of his clients or something. “He’s at work.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know that he’s not going to be here. I’ll come back later, then.”

“Do you need anything?” Yeonjun is still looking at him, but the stranger doesn’t meet his eyes. “I can give Soobin your message.”

“No, no, it wasn’t him I want to meet. It’s - it’s you.”

Yeonjun is confused. “Why are you coming back later then, if I’m here?”

“I don’t want to freak you out. I know you don’t remember me,” He says, wincing, holding his nape.

“Oh,” Yeonjun nods, starting to undertand. The stranger doesn’t want to meet him alone because Yeonjun can’t remember him, and meeting him with Soobin would surely clear things up. “That’s okay. I won’t freak out. Promise.”

He looks relieved, his shoulders finally slumping and not tense. “That’s good then,” he offers his hand, smiling sheepishly. “Uh, hi. This is weird because we’re quite close, actually, but - hi, Yeonjun-hyung. I’m Huening Kai, your neighbour.”

Yeonjun accepts his hand, returning the smile. “Hello there. Thank you for introducing yourself. Uh, wanna come in?”

“Sure.”

Huening Kai lets himself in like he had done it a thousand times before, and he probably has. He sits himself on the couch and Yeonjun takes the spot beside him.

“Hyung, I’m so happy you’re back. I’m glad to see you’re okay.”

Yeonjun lets out a small laugh, and it’s ridiculous because he knows he doesn’t remember him, but his presence feels so familiar somehow. Maybe it’s because of his calming and friendly presence, and he really appreciates it, especially how he really went out of his way to make Yeonjun comfortable, making sure that he won’t get scared by a stranger claiming to be a close friend.

“My head is fine,” Yeonjun says, shrugging. “But, yeah. I’m not in a hospital bed anymore.”

“It wasn’t the same without both of you here,” Huening Kai scrunches his nose, like he was recalling a bad memory. Maybe it was for him. “We used to hold movie nights, you know, every few weeks. They were a lot fun.”

Yeonjun thinks that sounds nice, having a close neighbor, to the point that they often spend nights together, just to have fun. Too bad he can’t remember.

“Yeah. Sorry. I don’t. I can’t -”

“I know,” He cuts him off, waving his hand as if to say it’s not a big deal. “Soobin-hyung told me. That you don’t remember a lot of your life here.”

Yeonjun nods, thinking about Soobin and his sweet smile. He doesn’t know why it hurts to think about him. “Yeah.”

“He said you don’t remember him.”

Yeonjun nods again, pursing his lips. Unsure what to say.

“Do you want to know anything? I can answer for you.”

There are a lot that he wants to know, but there’s one that’s persistently nagging on his mind ever since he woke up. “Was I happy?”

Huening Kai doesn’t even think about it, just nods. “Yeah. You were.”

“Why are you so sure?”

“You told me all the time. But you didn’t have to, I could always see it.” He says, and it sounds so simple, so free.

Yeonjun wonders why that is. He doesn’t know much about the life that he had, the only thing that he knows about himself right now is that he graduated a few years ago, became a dance teacher, and is married to a man he doesn’t recognize.

It’s a blur, but in his mind, he’s still just a year in college, a dance student, here at Seoul Institute of Arts. He remembers the train ride from Daegu, when he left that part of him behind. He remembers the home that he had and the new one that he built here.

Yeonjun also remembers Beomgyu and how they promised to still have a relationship when they were apart. Beomgyu was the one who thought they could make long distance relationship work, saying that Seoul isn’t that far from Daegu and that it would still feel like they were near, in the same orbit. He remembers their late night phone calls, how Beomgyu’s laugh resonated into the night and through his dorm room, settling in his heart.

He remembers being in love, but not with Soobin.

Not with the guy he married.

Yeonjun doesn’t understand why they broke up. He’s so sure he was in love and wanted nothing else but for them to work out.

He wants to understand who he is, who he was, because this is an entirely new him that he doesn’t know.

“Was Soobin happy?”

“Yeah.”

There is one last thing, and Yeonjun sighs, his chest tightening. “Were we?”

This time, Huening Kai doesn’t say anything, just a simple nod, an immediate response.

Yeonjun doesn’t know why it makes him uncomfortable, hearing about his past that he has no recollection about from someone else’s mouth. It makes him wince to think about Soobin, a man he doesn’t know, a man he married, a man that he supposedly loves, but can’t remember.

It makes him feel guilty because he knows. He knows how Soobin loves him. He doesn’t remember, but he knows because it’s apparent in everything that he does.

Yeonjun has only known him for weeks, but it is obvious that Soobin has known him for much longer. He can see the years of recognition and familiarity so ingrained in him, reflected in his eyes, in his hands, in the way that he says his name.

It makes him feel like he’s done something wrong.

“Hyung?”

Yeonjun feels panic rising inside him, and he closes his eyes, trying to shut it out. “Sorry. It’s a lot to take in.”

“It’s okay, hyung. I understand.” Huening Kai reassures. “I can come back later if you want.”

Yeonjun shakes his head against his palm, feeling pathetic all of a sudden. “No, you don’t have to. We can do something -”

“Okay,” Kai says quietly, and turns the TV on. Yeonjun watches him slump against the couch comfortably, and then he starts talking.

He’s barely listening, but Kai’s voice is calming and present, and Yeonjun breathes.

*

“Do you want to watch a movie?”

Yeonjun stares at him quietly from the couch. Soobin is wearing an oversize hoodie and baggy sweatpants. He looks comfortable, his black hair flopping on his eyes.

He looks childish, almost, with the way his eyes shine, as he looks at him expectantly. They’re back on the couch again after eating dinner, and Soobin’s sitting on the far end of it, giving him space.

Yeonjun thinks about it, wondering. “Sure. What’s your favorite movie?”

Soobin looks surprised by the sudden question and he ducks his head, almost like he’s embarrassed. “Uh, I really love the MCU.”

“Cool. What’s your favorite from the MCU?”

“Infinity War.”

Yeonjun doesn’t recall the title, and he figures it probably came out only recently. Soobin seems to catch his confusion, though. “It’s the new one.”

“Okay,” He says, but Soobin is still looking down, refusing to meet his eyes. “Why?”

“I lied,” Soobin says sheepishly.

“About?”

“Don’t get me wrong, I love Infinity War. But it’s not my favorite,” Soobin clicks on the remote, typing on Netflix. “This is actually my favorite.”

Tangled unexpectedly starts playing.

“Oh,” Yeonjun says, staring as the screen turns bright. He knows this movie, he’s watched it before. This discovery forces a smile on his lips, and he can’t help but look at Soobin, whose cheeks are tinted pink. “Rapunzel?”

“Yeah,” Soobin confirms, nodding, meeting his eyes for a second before looking at the television again. “I think she’s lovely.”

“She is, isn’t she?” Yeonjun laughs, but not to ridicule.

“We used to watch this whenever one of us had a bad day,” He explains, laughing softly with him. He looks like he’s reminiscing of a memory Yeonjun can’t possibly see. “If my client was being difficult, or if you were exhausted from work, we would silently turn this on and we would understand what it means without saying anything. It was my comfort movie, but it became yours too.”

Yeonjun stares at the opening of the movie, his stomach twisting uncomfortably. It’s intimate, he thinks, to be able to understand someone without uttering a single word.

“Hey, Soobin?”

“Yeah?”

“Can we. Uh - watch something else?” Yeonjun straightens up because this is something he’s been wanting to ask.

“Of course, what do you want?” Soobin quickly grabs the remote again and Yeonjun holds him down, his fingers wrapping around his wrist.

“Uh,” He clears his throat, suddenly nervous, retreating his hand. “It’s not on Netflix.”

Soobin looks confused. “Okay.”

“I don’t know if we have it, but. Can we watch our wedding?”

Soobin blinks, and something flashes in his eyes, so quick that Yeonjun almost didn’t catch it. Before Yeonjun can figure out what it means, he nods and gets up, walking to their room. It takes him a few minutes, but when’s back, there’s a flashdisk in his hand. He walks to the television and plugs it in.

Soobin is back on his side and Yeonjun can feel his warmth, even when they’re not touching. Yeonjun stares at the blank screen and doesn’t know what to expect.

The video plays.

The venue looks nice, decorated, simple and yet beautiful. He can see people he doesn’t know smiling to the camera and they look so happy, their eyes bright. Yeonjun wishes he could feel it too, although he know that he did, back then, during this moment in time that he doesn’t have in his mind anymore. It makes him long for it - misses it, even.

Then the scene changes, and it’s Soobin, being applied make up. He’s laughing over something that someone said off camera, his eyes crinkling on the edges. Yeonjun hasn’t seen him like that, so inherently full of joy, like he had the world in his hands. Soobin looks handsome, his dark hair styled, and there are dimples on his cheeks. He can understand why he would fall in love with him in that cafe, can picture him walking through the door and how he caught his eyes for the first time.

The scene changes again, and now it’s him. Yeonjun stares at the man on the screen, at the man that looks and sounds like him, but doesn’t recognize. He has the same smile as Soobin from before, a smile he doesn’t know he could ever make, and he looks bright, almost like the sun. Someone’s styling his hair, and he can’t stop smiling.

Yeonjun-ah, how do you feel?

Happy.”

The altar looks breathtaking and like a dream, exactly how he has always imagined it to be. Soobin appears again on the screen, and he’s walking hand-in-hand with an older man.

“That’s my brother,” Soobin says, and Yeonjun can hear the breath caught in his throat, as if he was watching it for the first time, just like him.

Yeonjun watches quietly as they reach the altar. Then it’s Yeonjun’s turn and he’s walking with his dad, his arm secure on his dad’s grip. They look happy, and his dad is shining with so much joy it makes him look young. He wonders how his dad would feel now, knowing that this part of his life is completely erased, gone. Yeonjun almost can’t watch it, his chest clenching, knowing that something this beautiful happened to him, but he can’t remember, no matter how much he tries to dig his mind.

The camera pans to Soobin watching Yeonjun walks the aisle, and he’s beaming. It hurts to see Soobin look at him like that, even when Yeonjun can’t remember the life that they had, even when he’s only known him for a few weeks. Soobin always looks at him like that, he realizes - the same way he did in the hospital, the same way he did when they first got home, the same way he does when he thinks Yeonjun’s not looking. But it’s different, to see it on the screen, to see it so bare in his face, like he couldn’t hide it even if he tried.

Yeonjun has arrived at the altar now and they’re standing across from each other. Soobin reaches for his hands, holding them tight.

Yeonjun,” Soobin starts his vow, and he looks content, like he’s finally home. “I won’t say that I’ve known it was going to be you from the very first time that we met, or that I’ve figured it out ever since you came into my life. I won’t say that I knew when I saw you in that cafe, with your apron, your hair electric blue. I won’t say that it was love at first sight because it wasn’t - but I can tell you that I knew then you were going to change my life.”

He takes a deep breath, and he’s looking at Yeonjun with such adoration it’s suffocating. “I love you. I don’t know how else to say it. Sometimes I don’t have the words to tell you just how much. But - I’m going to try. Yeonjun, my love, I promise to hold your heart and carry your burden when you can’t. I promise to be with you when it’s easy and when it’s hard. I promise to make you happy whatever it takes. I vow to be your strength and I will love you to the end of time.”

Soobin’s smiling again and it looks like he’s not holding back, as though he’s finally free of everything. He’s welling up, but it looks like happiness more than anything. “I love you. I don’t care if you’re tired of hearing it. I don’t care if it’s the only thing I would ever say to you because that has always been the truth and it will always be the truth. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.

Yeonjun laughs softly even when there are tears in his eyes. There is so much depth in the way he looks at him, intimate - like no one else is supposed to see it. “You said it wasn’t love at first sight, but I think it was for me. I looked at you from that counter and somehow I knew in my heart that it was going to be you. Soobin-ah, I promise to cherish and care for you even when you push me away. I promise to be with you no matter what happens and to hold your hand when there’s nothing else you want to do but lie in bed. I promise to watch Tangled with you whenever you want, even if it’s at Sunday night, or Monday morning, I’d watch it with you again and again.”

Soobin cries at that, the tears flowing down to his cheeks. Yeonjun pulls him closer and holds the tears with his fingertips, drying them off. “Soobin-ah, I vow to fall in love with you, today, tomorrow, the day after, and everyday since.”

The officiant pronounces them as husband and husband, and Yeonjun is the one who leans in first, taking him by the shoulder and pulling him in a slow kiss. The crowd cheers and cries, but moreso, they look overwhelmingly happy.

Yeonjun closes his eyes, trying to stop the rapid beating of his heart. He knows the video is still playing, but there’s something uneasy building inside of his chest and makes him feel sick. He can hear the remote clicking and the sound cuts off. Soobin moves beside him.

“Hey, hey. Junie, you okay?”

He doesn’t know what to think, and he knows he’s going to cry, the uneasy feeling in his chest rising each time he takes a deep breath.

Junie, hey. It’s okay. I’m here.”

There’s a hand on his shoulder and Yeonjun buries his face further into his hands, feeling them damp as he cries. It’s just too much for him to handle, a lot to take in, and it feels like his head is going to explode.

Soobin’s talking, reassuring him, his voice blurring to the back of his mind, but it grounds him too, helping him realize he’s actually here, and not back to whatever happened in their car a month ago.

When he finally calms down, he looks up, and through the tears in his eyes, he can see Soobin looking at him, but his eyes are also wet.

“Junie, why did you cry?”

“Sorry,” He says, because he doesn’t know how to convey what he actually feels inside. He’s just confused, hurt, unsure, and a lot of other emotions that he can’t pinpoint yet. “Just - a lot to take in.” he adds after, and it’s a reason he’s said before, but it’s the truth. It feels as though there is an invisible hand shoving cotton balls to his skull until the edges fill up, making it hard for him to think clearly.

Soobin’s quiet for a moment, taking his time to stare at Yeonjun, like he’s making sure of something. “Maybe we should take it slow. It’s overwhelming to you so we shouldn’t show you anything about the past like this anymore. Maybe little things here and there, but not like this again. Okay?”

Yeonjun nods, and he realizes that Soobin also cried, the traces of tears linger on his skin. He knows this hurts him too, probably more than Yeonjun can ever understand, but knowing that Soobin isn’t mad at him, or that he’s not crying any louder than him, it says a lot - and Yeonjun doesn’t think he wants to unpack that, at least not now.

“Junie,” Soobin says, and it’s that nickname again, one he’s never heard before coming out of his mouth. It sounds familiar, even if it’s his first time hearing it. “I just want you to know that. I want you to be okay. That’s all I want.”

He stops just to hold Yeonjun’s hand, squeezing it. Yeonjun looks at him, and there’s a tight line on his lips, so much that he’s holding back, unlike when he said his vow and there was so much freedom in the lines of his face. Yeonjun realizes this is the same Soobin on the screen, but the man in front of him is hurting and aching.

“I’m sorry,” Yeonjun breathes out, and guilt consuming him whole. “I promise I’m trying.”

“I know. I know you are. It’s okay,” Soobin says softly. “We’re going to be okay, Yeonjun.”

He can’t stop replaying his own vow in his head, the promises that he said, and how he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to fulfill them all. Yeonjun in the video looks so in love, so sure, so happy, and he’s doesn’t feel any of that now.

But Soobin’s here and he’s holding him still, his hand a reassuring presence against his own. Yeonjun sees something glinting, and he realizes it’s Soobin’s wedding ring, safely tucked in his finger.

“Okay,” he says, and thinks it sounds a lot like another promise.

*

Yeonjun’s mom calls Soobin that night, after Yeonjun goes to their room and Soobin goes to their spare. He didn’t even get the chance to sit on the bed before his phone rings loudly. When he picks up, she greets him, but a deep sigh follows after.

Soobin-ah,” She says softly, he almost couldn’t hear it. “How is Yeonjun?”

“He’s okay,” Soobin purses his lips, thinking about Yeonjun on the couch and the way his shoulders trembled as he cried. He thinks about him, and he wonders if he’s really okay. “He just gets... overwhelmed, sometimes.”

He still doesn’t remember you?” She asks slowly, deliberate and careful.

“No,” he sighs, laying himself on the bed, putting the phone between his ear and the pillow.

How about you? How are you?

Soobin wants to cry, hearing her voice, so sweet and caring. “Don’t worry about me, Ma.”

She doesn’t say anything after, and Soobin could hear the weight of her silence. He can almost see the hesitance, the quick blinking of her eyelids. They’ve always been close - him and Yeonjun’s parents. They had always loved him back, accepted him, never once doubted his love for their son. It makes him tear up a little bit, despite the fact that he already did back in the living room.

I worry about you too,” She says sincerely. “I will always worry about you both.”

Soobin doesn’t know what to say. He feels guilty, the heaviness in his chest like a burden. There’s so much hurt that he carries, but he knows he has to keep it to himself. It’s Yeonjun who needs to be taken care of. It was Yeonjun who got the shorter end of the stick, who needs to suffer more, who had a part of him ripped away, just like that, in a matter of a second.

He would never admit this out loud, but it feels unfair that he got out of it a whole - unwounded, almost. It’s like a form cheating, being able to get out of the accident with everything of himself intact, meanwhile Yeonjun woke up with a part of him gone.

They said his memories could come back. Soobin doesn’t know the amount of truth in it, and if it was simply wishful thinking, a promise meant to spark momentarily but never meant to last.

Soobin-ah,” She says, bringing him back to reality.

“Yes, Ma.”

Next week, can you visit us?” She sounds hopeful, and it breaks Soobin’s heart. They haven’t been visiting as frequently as they should’ve. “I would love to see you both again. Especially after...

Soobin can’t imagine how it feels to be in her shoes. Yeonjun’s parents visited the hospital when Yeonjun was still in a coma, and they were so broken, their sadness like waves. Soobin almost lost him, but it only dawned on him then that they almost lost their son too.

“Of course. I’ll talk to Yeonjun about it. If he feels fine enough to travel, we’ll go...”

He can hear her sigh, but this time it doesn’t sound like it is from stress, or pain, instead it sounds a lot more like relief. “Okay, Soobin-ah. It’s late. Sleep, okay? I’m going to call Yeonjun now.”

Okay. Good night, Ma.”

Good night, honey. Sleep well.

Soobin doesn’t, not in a few hours, not after midnight - even when his eyes are burning and nothing feels right.

*

“My mom called me last night.”

They’re having breakfast again. Yeonjun sits by the dining table still in his pajamas, his eyes puffy from sleep. He looks a lot better, Soobin thinks, and he doesn’t look as out of place. Soobin nods and listens to him from the stove as he watches the egg sizzling on the pan. They woke up at the same time again, being so used to waking up in the morning. Even if Yeonjun didn’t remember a lot of his life with Soobin, maybe his body did, wiring him to jolt his consciousness awake during this hour.

Yeonjun doesn’t talk about the wedding video, or how he cried after, how they both did. He doesn’t look like he’s thinking about it either, so Soobin decides to leave it at that, doesn’t want to bring up something they’re both not comfortable talking about.

“She called me too,” he says after a beat of silence.

“Yeah? What’d she say?”

“Same thing with you, I guess. Uh,” Soobin starts, scratching his cheek, still tired and sleepy. “She wants us to visit Daegu.”

“Can we?”

Soobin turns back to look at Yeonjun who is already looking at him with big, hopeful eyes. He gapes, suddenly feeling helpless. He never could say no to him, even if didn’t even plan to in the first place.

“Of course,” he says. “Do you think you’ll be okay?”

“Yeah,” Yeonjun stretches his hands, yawning, his hair flopping on his forehead. There is a faint smile on his lips, and it looks so familiar, welcoming. “I feel fine. Seriously.”

“Okay,” Soobin nods at the pan, watching the egg intently, as if it had the secret of the universe hidden in its yolk. “We’ll go, then.”

“Are you going to drive?”

Soobin nods again, trying to ignore the warm feeling in his stomach. This is way too comfortable for his liking, the way Yeonjun speaks to him with that soft lilt of his voice. It’s too much like how it used to be - the early sunlight peering through the windows, how Yeonjun’s hands are propped on his chin. He thinks maybe he simply misses this, and it’s just hitting him more this morning.

“Are you free today?”

“Yeah,” Soobin scrambles the egg, pushing his thoughts to the back of his mind. “Why?”

“Can we... go out?” Yeonjun says carefully, Soobin can almost hear the gears on his head turning. “Kind of want to see this neighbourhood.”

“Oh,” Soobin is staring again, nothing in particular - the darkened edge of the pan, his clasped hands, the way the curtain moves against the wind. Everything but Yeonjun. “Really?”

“I want to see where I used to live. Well, live - I guess.”

He watches the egg slowly as it turns the perfect yellow. He’s still groggy from lack of sleep, and he can’t remember that he was supposed to respond, his mind clouded with exhaustion. It’s quiet for a moment as he prepares everything and sets both plates on the table.

“Do you always prepare breakfast or is this because I just got out of the hospital?” Yeonjun questions, raising his brows from across the table.

Soobin laughs. “It’s kind of my thing. Your thing is waiting for me to finish.”

Yeonjun is the one good at cooking out of the two of them - it’s not like Soobin’s bad at it, he just doesn’t really enjoy it, and he can’t really rely on feeling or instinct when it comes to this, unlike Yeonjun who seems natural and in his element when he’s in the kitchen. He’s always adamant about making breakfast because it’s easy enough and he can’t possibly mess it up. This is what their usual mornings look like - both still gruff with sleep, Soobin in front of the stove, and Yeonjun sitting on the chair, waiting patiently. He likes it, always, early mornings with Yeonjun, feels like the world is waking up with them, and they’re living in a singular moment reserved just for them.

“Can’t believe I managed to secure such a perfect man and doesn’t even remember,” Yeonjun puts a handful of eggs and bread in his mouth, and there’s a spreading grin on his lips. He looks disheveled, his hair askew and sleep lingering heavy in his eyelids, but Soobin still wants him more than anything else in the world.

Maybe it’s because of how content he feels right now - there’s a perfect amount of sunlight, he’s in that state of consciousness where he feels like floating, or maybe it’s the fact that Yeonjun’s here and Soobin misses him so badly that he says without thinking. “Do you want to?”

“Huh?”

“Do you want to,” Soobin repeats, shoving the spoon in his mouth, because there’s no backing out now. “Remember?”

Yeonjun stares at him, unblinking, as if he’s still processing his question. Soobin wonders how he does it, that it’s been years after they met, a year after they got married, and somehow it still aches in his heart when they lock eyes, when they recognize one another in their shared gaze. Soobin wonders how he manages to take his breath away, always, even years after it happened the first time.

“Do you want to remember me?” He repeats again, suddenly engulfed in dread. Maybe it’s too much of a question. Maybe he shouldn’t have asked him at all, let alone do it over breakfast.

Yeonjun is still staring at him. He looks like he’s contemplating, figuring it out, or maybe he’s just observing, his eyes moving over Soobin’s face like he’s trying to slot a missing piece to an uncomplete picture.

“Of course I do,” Yeonjun finally breathes out, incredibly soft, and Soobin thinks it sounds like the bell ringing when he first opened the door and saw him behind the counter. “But you need to help me. I can’t do it by myself.”

“Yeah,” Soobin nods, agreeing immediately, even when he doesn’t believe what he’s hearing. They haven’t talked about it, their marriage, and where they stand after the accident. Soobin didn’t plan to ask him about it this early, not until he’s ready, but he’s glad that they’re already here. What Yeonjun just said, it sounds like confirmation, even when it’s not much, not at all, but it’s enough.

Across from him, Yeonjun’s still staring at him. He’s figuring him out, he can feel it, and Soobin simply lets him, defenseless anyway. Lets him take what he wants, lets him see what he needs.

“So, can we be friends?” Yeonjun offers.

Soobin can’t help but laugh. Giddy, even when he knows that it’s stupid to feel that way, considering the grand scheme of things. This is his husband, asking to be friends. He should be hysterical, a little sad maybe, but he doesn’t care. He just feels... oddly happy.

“Friends,” Soobin accepts, and he thinks it’s the best deal he’s ever gotten.

*

Soobin takes Yeonjun grocery shopping in the afternoon. It’s such a simple thing, and yet he feels like they’re going on a date, his nerves screaming excitedly. Maybe it’s the fact that he hasn’t felt this in a while, was too accustomed living inside that suffocating hospital room. It makes his inside bubbling with joy, especially when the door opens and he sees the row of shopping carts. Yeonjun is smiling too, and he’s looking at Soobin like he’s amused, probably noting his silly eagerness.

“Are you okay?” He says, his lips pursing tight, as though he was holding in his laugh. Soobin thinks Yeonjun knows exactly why he’s acting like this, but decides not to comment for his own sake. Yeonjun takes one of the carts and starts walking, Soobin tailing closely.

“I take grocery shopping very seriously.”

Yeonjun only raises his brow, a small laugh escaping his mouth. “Sure. What do we need?”

They take a quick route to put essentials like eggs, milk, rice, and meat in their cart. Yeonjun’s quiet, but Soobin knows he’s listening to him, making a mental note of what they usually buy every week. At the end of it, Yeonjun nods and says he understands. Soobin thinks it’s sweet that he’s making effort and doing his best to fall back to their routine. It feels like another confirmation, that he’s willing to try, and Soobin can’t help the spark of hope igniting in his chest.

Yeonjun reaches the vegetable aisle first, and when Soobin looks at him, he’s giggling to himself.

“Jun,” Soobin says, confused. “What are you laughing at?”

He turns around and he’s holding a lettuce with both hands. He’s sniffling, shoulders shaking with laughter, his eyes growing small. Soobin feels like he knows what’s coming.

“Soobin, what do veggies say on their birthdays?”

“What?”

Lettuce celebrate!”

Soobin laughs, not because it’s funny, but it’s a pun he’s heard from Yeonjun before. Probably heard it the same way before, in a vegetable aisle, with Yeonjun cracking up from his own joke.

“Soobin,” Yeonjun starts again, and now there’s a potato on his hold. His face is bright red, and he’s looking at Soobin excitedly, like a toddler about to show off his new toy. “I’d tell you a joke about potato.... I just don’t know where to starch!”

He laughs again, leaning against the cart, his face hidden on his palms. Soobin watches him fondly, realizing nothing really has changed - still the same corny jokes, the same laugh, the same man, after all.

Soobin pokes his shoulder until Yeonjun looks up. He points at the potato on his grip, and Yeonjun gives it to him confusedly.

“Junie,” he says, cradling the potato like a baby. “Do you know what one sweet potato say to the other?”

“What?”

Soobin laughs before he could even say the joke, and Yeonjun follows, his voice echoing in his eardrums.

“I yam impressed!”

He cringes at himself, but Yeonjun thinks it’s the funniest joke in the entire world that his entire body shakes from the gravity of his laugh.

“God,” Soobin wipes his face tiredly. It’s not even that funny. “We’re embarrassing.”

Yeonjun snorts and pushes the cart forward. “They’re staring, oh my God, I’m so sorry-”

He notices that some customers are staring curiously at them, probably wondering what they’re laughing at.

“You’re not sorry,” he says observantly, looking at a sheepish Yeonjun.

“I’m really not.”

They continue shopping after that, not another pun uttered from either of their mouths, and Soobin lets himself enjoy it - the quiet look from Yeonjun when he finds a snack, the small squeak of their cart against the floor.

They put the grocery in the car, Yeonjun carrying most of them because he claims he’s stronger than him (he is), and as Soobin opens the door, Yeonjun pops a question.

“Hey, can we get something? To eat?”

Soobin walks beside him as they pace on the sidewalk. The sun’s out, which is nice, casting a comfortable warmth on their body. It feels good to be out after spending too much time stressed out in a hospital room, and he can feel it on Yeonjun too, the way he’s skipping lightly on his feet.

They spend the rest of the afternoon in the restaurant, ordering different food, and tasting each other’s meals. Yeonjun talks, not as much as he used to, but he looks like he’s opening up slowly, and his eyes are much softer. Soobin’s just glad he’s feeling fine, noting his rosy cheeks, the way his lips form a smile. He still remembers his unmoving body, his cold skin, how he used to press the pulse on his wrist with his fingertip to remind himself that Yeonjun is still here and he would come back to him. It sends a pang to his chest to see him in front of him again, his laugh such a precious thing in his ears.

When they finish, it’s already evening and the sky is much darker than before. Soobin feels content, like this is all he wants, that having Yeonjun by his side is more than enough.

“Soobin,” Yeonjun calls, prying his attention. “Let’s get ice cream?”

So they did, going to their favorite ice cream place, the one near the grocery store. With both ice creams in their hands, they walk back to the store and sit inside their parked car. He opens the windows a little to let the air in.

“Mm. This is really good.” Yeonjun says with a mouthful of ice cream.

“Of course, it’s your favorite.”

He nods, and there’s silence after. It’s not uncomfortable, never has been with Yeonjun, their shared silence always feels like comfort instead of burden.

“I want to go to work tomorrow.”

Soobin lets the ice melts on his tongue before he nods. “You sure?”

“Yeah,” Yeonjun says, but there’s hesitance, as though he’s having a debate with himself. “Is that okay? I don’t actually know what I should do.”

“I told you they’re going to give you a few weeks,” Soobin answers after a moment. “It’s okay if you just want to see for yourself. There is a class tomorrow, you could watch if you want.”

Yeonjun nods, shaking the ice cream cone lightly, like he isn’t aware of doing it. “In my mind,” he says suddenly, and it sounds vulnerable, fragile. “I’m still first year into uni.”

Soobin wonders what that feels like. He knows it’s Yeonjun beside him, but it’s also Yeonjun with a few years cut back, with years of experiences and feelings unlearned. The man that he knows has graduated, gotten married, has a great career, meanwhile the man with him now has just moved from Daegu, adapting life in Seoul, not even half into university.

“It’s kind of weird, honestly.” Yeonjun confesses, wincing, audibly crunching the cone.

“What is?”

“Everything - seems like there is a hole in my head, a missing piece that I can’t possibly grasp. I can’t wrap my head around it. That this is my life, that I’ve somehow succedeed in everything that I wanted to do. Back in Daegu, this is all I dreamed about - graduating, becoming a dance teacher, maybe settling down. I have it all now, but I don’t... remember.”

Soobin listens as he watches people walking through the parking lot and pushing their carts.

“Feels like they’re stolen from me. My memories. I’ve achieved everything I wanted in life, and yet I don’t feel like I have.” Yeonjun lets out a dragged out sigh, and Soobin can hear the frustration in his voice. “I don’t know how to put it into words. I just think it’s - unfair.”

Soobin doesn’t understand, no matter how much he wants to, not in the level that he wants, but he nods and acknowledges him. He thinks nothing he could say would ever make it better, and maybe it’s best to stay quiet and simply listen.

“And, also. I met you,” Yeonjun declares, his breath caught in his throat. It lingers in the air for a moment, crystallized. “It’s unfair that I don’t remember meeting you. Or remember you at all.”

Soobin’s cone is half gone, but he still doesn’t say anything. He lets Yeonjun speak and pours his heart out. It undeniably hurts him too, especially seeing him like this, but he knows it’s not his turn to speak.

“Sorry,” Yeonjun says, chuckling softly, the sound resounding in the small space of their car. “That came out of nowhere.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m glad you let it out.”

“Thank you for listening to me.”

“Thank you for telling me.” Soobin says softly and it comes from the bottom of his heart. He’s glad that Yeonjun was able to do that, maybe then the weight would be off his chest.

Yeonjun looks at him, and Soobin thinks his eyes are shining, probably from the light. He gives him a smile - a little sad, but also hopeful.

“Today was fun, by the way.” Yeonjun says, and just like that, he looks like he’s back to himself again. He rests his body on the cushion. “We should do this again.”

Soobin laughs, finishing his last bite of ice cream. “Sure. Let’s hang out more. It’s not like we’re married or anything.”

“Shut up,” Yeonjun says, but there’s no bite to it. “Friendly hangout between married couple is a thing, you know.”

“Sure,” Soobin snickers, dusting his hands on his jeans - it’s a little gross, but whatever. “Let’s head back?”

Yeonjun nods, and Soobin doesn’t say it, but he can see his growing smile reflected on the window.

*

“Hey, you’re going to do fine,” Soobin says as he parks the car on the side of the street.

Yeonjun bites his lip nervously and stares at the building of the dance studio he works in. It’s a little crowded and quite far from their apartment that it stresses him out even more, the fact that this will be the first new place he’d step in after the accident. Ever since he woke up, Soobin has been there by his side to help and guide him, and although it isn’t entirely new for him to embark on a journey alone or whatever, this is still something he isn’t familiar with because he doesn’t remember this part of his life.

When he keeps quiet, Soobin asks worriedly. “You okay?”

“Just nervous, I guess.” Yeonjun shakes his head, trying to shove the tension off his shoulders. He doesn’t know why it bothers him so much. It’s not like he’s going to work immediately, he’s just checking it out first. It still makes him uncomfortably nervous, his stomach twisting in knots.

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” He tries to find a concrete answer through his jumbled mind, and it’s there, at the back of his head, he’s just not sure how to voice it out. “I just don’t know what to expect.” he adds, settling with that instead.

Deep inside, he thinks he knows why. This has been his dream for a long time, before he even moved to Seoul, back when he was just a boy in Daegu aiming for something bigger and higher than himself. He’s happy that he was able to achieve it - he’s here now, and it’s not a dream anymore, but what if it wasn’t what he thought it would be? What if it wasn’t... the grand thing he had envisioned?

He knows that this is a life that he had lead before, but it wasn’t him. He wasn’t the one who achieved this. He didn’t experience the years of hard work that past Yeonjun must have endured.

“What are you thinking about?”

Yeonjun emits a long sigh out of his mouth, trying to breathe out the anxiety out of his body. Soobin’s looking at him with concern, his eyebrows furrowing together, his lips tight. He realizes he does that a lot - worry.

“You love to dance,” Soobin starts when Yeonjun doesn’t answer, wiping a strand of hair off his forehead. “You used to dance everywhere. You have the most fun when you dance. It’s like... nothing else matters to you.”

There’s that look in his eyes, one that Yeonjun hasn’t figured out what it means yet.

“So - don’t worry about it, Junie. Just have fun today. Don’t think about anything else. I know you’re going to do okay.”

Yeonjun has no idea why it calms him down to hear the convinction in his voice, and the way his smile blooms slowly on his lips.

Yeah. He can do that.

“Okay,” He says, feeling his chest warms up quickly for a reason he can’t comprehend. “Thanks.”

“Good luck!” Soobin gives him a thumbs up, his dimples appearing on his cheeks, making him look younger. Yeonjun has the urge to poke them. “I’ll pick you up later, okay? Call me if you ever need anything.”

Yeonjun waves as the car drives away.

*

The dance teacher has bright red hair and a sweet smile.

“Yeonjun-hyung,” he says cheerfully, looking like he’s genuinely happy to see him. “It’s so good to have you back.”

“Good to see you too. Uh,” Yeonjun blinks, offering his hand. “Sorry - I’m sure you know this but I had an accident and I don’t -”

He immediately cuts him off, waving his hand dismissively, “Don’t worry about it! I’m Kang Taehyun,” he accepts his hand and shakes it firmly. “We’ve been working together for quite a long time, actually. I’ve been taking over your classes when you were away. Hope that’s okay.”

Yeonjun nods, following beside Taehyung and walking deeper into the studio. No one’s here yet, and it’s silent except from their footsteps, just them in the brightly light room, their reflection on the mirror staring right back at him.

“That’s more than okay. Uh,” Yeonjun isn’t sure how to say it, but Taehyun looks kind, his eyes beaming warmly, so he continues on. “I’m not really back yet, but I would appreciate it if you could help me? Maybe guide me through what I used to do, and what my classes usually look like?”

Taehyun immediately complies and shrugs easily. “That’s not a problem at all, hyung,” he looks at the clock and perks up. “They’re going to be here soon. Just a heads up, though, they all know you, so don’t freak out, okay?”

It’s true, not even ten minutes later the door opens loudly, the sound of people talking vibrating against the walls. They come in one large group - around five people, he counts, and their faces light up immediately when they see Yeonjun. At first, he’s nervous on how they would react, but they are mostly just excited to see him back on his feet, asking him how he feels and if he’s okay. They’re energetic - animated, almost, and Yeonjun watches from the corner as they warm up, Taehyun leading in front of the mirror.

Soobin said he loves to dance. Yeonjun thinks it’s the reason why he does this, because he loves it. It’s always been a part of him - his body moving on his own, the sound of the music becoming his blood, his veins, his bones. Back in Daegu, this is what he wanted - to be in Taehyun’s place. Such a commanding presence, but still a joy to be around.

Taehyun is quite strict, but he’s nice about it, and Yeonjun can tell he just wants the students to be better and to thrive. His firm voice is simply an urge for them to improve and be the best they can be. Yeonjun watches them, and it reminds him of blurred memories in his mind, of the classes he used to take in university, and it makes his inside burn with excitement. If he thinks about it long enough, he thinks maybe he yearns for this. The desire to have this again, to be able to feel it again.

The class finishes in a few hours - and at the end of it, Taehyun is gulping down his entire bottle while the students are cooling down on the floor. It was a fun class, he thinks, and Taehyun did a good job on balancing fun and actual lesson. He wonders if that was how he taught the class too.

Before the students bid their goodbyes, they ask Yeonjun if he’d be back for later, and he tells them that he’ll think about it. They seem to really like him and respect his privacy, not once asking another question about the accident.

“Do you want to eat?” Yeonjun asks Taehyun as he’s cooling down, stretching his arms calmly over his head. Taehyung agrees immediately.

“So,” Yeonjun starts, matching his steps with Taehyun’s when they’re out of the building. “How long have we known each other?”

“A little over... two years, I think? You already work here when I got hired.”

That’s a long time to know someone. It’s very evident in the way Taehyun carries himself around him, relaxed and casual, like they’ve done this before.

Yeonjun stares at the street and the cars passing by. It’s a busy day, people bustling down the sidewalk with stoic, tensed faces. Idly, he wonders what Soobin is doing now, and if he’s eaten lunch yet.

“Do you know my husband?” He asks, not because of anything particular, he just wants to know.

“Yeah, I’ve met him before,” Taehyun says, pursing his lips. “Once or twice. He picks you up at work sometimes.”

Yeonjun didn’t know that. It sends a flurry of feelings in his stomach.

“Where are we going, by the way?”

“It’s our favorite place,” Taehyun looks at him with a smile, like it’s a shared secret between them. “I haven’t eaten there ever since you were away.”

Yeonjun thinks it’s sweet that they have a favorite place together and that Taehyun didn’t eat there alone, instead waited to go with Yeonjun again. He wants to know exactly how close they really are because it seems like they were more than colleagues, maybe friends. It makes him happy that he can tell by how comfortable Taehyun is, walking alongside him with his posture relaxed, the smile on his lips lingers.

It’s a small restaurant, just by the corner, and Taehyun greets the cashier cheerfully. When she looks at Yeonjun, her eyes become wide as recognition settles in.

“Oh, Yeonjun-ah!” She exclaims, and Yeonjun bows politely, shaking her hand, even though he knows they’ve surely met before. “You’re back!”

“Yeah,” He chuckles, scratching his nape, looking at Taehyun who’s already secured a place by the window. “Hello.”

She seems like she wants to say more, but holds back - instead, she smiles, and chirps a cheerful: “Please enjoy your meal!”

Yeonjun bows again before walking over to Taehyun and taking a seat across from him. He told him that this is where they always have lunch, thus they’re very familiar with the receptionist and also most of the chefs in the kitchen.

“It’s a family restaurant so it’s not very crowded.” Taehyun explains, handing over the menu after he finishes writing down his order.

Yeonjun hums in acknowledgement, staring at the menu. When it takes him too long to decide, Taehyun scribbles something quickly on the paper and gives it to one of the waiters without consulting him first.

“What,” Yeonjun questions, confused.

“It’s your usual order,” Taehyun says confidently with no room for debate in his voice. “You’ll love it.”

Of course, he believes him.

They talk after that, mostly about work and how they met. He discovers that Taehyun was really shy at first, and Yeonjun was the one who came to him, introducing and shoving himself into Taehyun’s life unpromptedly. They became close in no time to the point where they always wait for one another’s class to finish to have lunch together.

Even when their food come, their conversation doesn’t die down, and Yeonjun listens to him attentively, interested in everything that he has to say. He decides that Taehyun is incredibly witty and smart, also sensitive and perceptive about everyone around him.

Yeonjun can clearly tell why they were such close friends. Although this is Yeonjun’s first time meeting him, they talk with such ease that he can feel the years of friendship between them. It’s really comforting to know that he doesn’t have trouble adapting back to their bond, even when he still has a lot catching up to do. It doesn’t feel awkward at all, and Taehyun truly feels like a friend.  He can’t remember when he finished his food and how they’ve just been talking back and forth for the last hour.

“Are you going home?” Taehyun asks him when they’re at the cashier. She says goodbye to them and they left the restaurant, the bell of the door ringing when it closes.

“Uh,” Yeonjun looks at his phone, realizing it’s way past lunchtime. He can’t possibly ask Soobin to pick him up now. It’s only then he notices that he has five missed calls, all from Soobin. “Shit.”

“Is everything okay?”

“I forgot to tell Soobin I’m going to have lunch with you. He was supposed to pick me up,” He rushedly tells him, texting Soobin back urgently. “Ah, I feel bad.”

“Don’t worry about it. Let’s walk together to the bus stop.” Taehyun tugs his hand, clinging on to him. It makes him blink in surprise, but he doesn’t let go, holding on to him like a child to a parent. He realizes that this must be what he used to do before, as it looks like it was done nonchalantly, almost on instinct, that Taehyun didn’t even think about doing it. Yeonjun eventually lets him.

They talk again, all through the walk to the bus stop. Taehyun tells him about Yeonjun’s classes and how the students adore him, that he can always see the adoration in their eyes when they look at him. It gives him a sense of pride in his chest that past him was able to do that. It makes him more determined to do as well as he did and make everyone proud again.

When they reach the bus stop, Taehyun waits with him, still clinging tight to his arm.

“Are you going to be okay going home alone?”

Yeonjun doesn’t know this part of the city, isn’t even fully aware of his neighbourhood either, but he feels fine. Maybe it’s because he finally feels like himself again, being surrounded by people who were just like him, and maybe it’s the fact that Taehyun’s here and he’s the first friend he ever made after the accident.

He feels content, as he watches people go by their day, even the sound of car horns ringing loudly through the street. It’s such a mundane thing, but he thinks it calms him down, knowing that he’s apart of something again, not set aside by such a cruel accident.

The accident makes him feel like an outcast in his own life, ripping him away from his own mind, taking his memories, his feelings, his everything. He doesn’t remember what happened, but it stays in the back of his mind, clasping in his muscles, each tendons of his skin - the crash, his limp body, all happening in a blink of an eye.

As he looks at the flower shop across the street and the stark blue of the sky, the feeling of Taehyun’s arm wrapping around his, he thinks maybe it’ll pass. The pain in his chest, the desperation to simply undertand, the ache to regain control back in his life - maybe it’ll pass. One day.

He heard Taehyun’s question, knows what he means, but instead it reverbs back in his head like this: Are you going to be okay?

“Yeah,” he breathes out, a spark of hope trickling in his heart. “I think so.”

*

When Soobin arrives home, he’s holding a box of chocolate.

Yeonjun peers up from his phone screen to the door and tilts his head a little against the armrest to look properly at a beaming Soobin.

“Hi,” Soobin greets as Yeonjun takes off his earphone. He looks handsome despite coming home from a full day of work, his dimples on full display. “This is from Kai.”

Soobin puts the box on the dining table and Yeonjun gets up, pulling a chair.

“He told me you guys already met?” He continues, peeking inside the fridge and grabbing a drink before taking the seat across from Yeonjun. “He left a note. I didn’t read it, thought it was meant for you.”

Yeonjun tugs the attached post it note on the box until he can hold it between his fingers. It’s pink, and on top of it there’s a cute scribble written in colorful markers.

For: Yeonjun-hyung!!

From: Kai ^3^

Yeonjun-hyung, sorry I didn’t get you anything when I came over. I wasn’t prepared!! Here’s to make up for it. Hope you like it, hyung!!! I’m so happy you’re back hehe. Let’s hang out again if you want ^3^ ^3^

He laughs, finding it incredibly endearing. “He’s cute, isn’t he?”

Soobin grins as he cards the hair on his forehead until it becomes a mess. Yeonjun has the urge to put the strands of hair back in place, maybe tucking them behind his ear.

“Yeah,” He agrees, nodding. “Bet he used his emoticons.”

“He uses...” Yeonjun counts idly, scrunching his lips as he traces the note with his eyes. “Three, precisely.”

Soobin gulps his drink again, and Yeonjun notices that he looks worn out. His shoulders are tensed and his usual bright eyes are dim. It reminds him of how he used to look at the hospital, when he needed to go back and forth from the hospital and their home. When Yeonjun was still closed off, terrified, didn’t even want to talk to him for days.

“Tired?”

Soobin simply nods, putting his hand on his palms, letting go of a heavy sigh.

Yeonjun plays with the note absentmindedly as he utters, “Sorry I forgot to tell you that you didn’t need to pick me up.”

“It’s fine, Junie,” he peeks a little through his hands. “I was just worried you didn’t know how to go home.”

“I had lunch with Taehyun,” Yeonjun tells him and Soobin immediately perks up, instinctively leaning forward in interest. “I didn’t know we were friends.”

Soobin seems to recognize the name and nods in agreement. “Oh, yeah. We’ve met. You talk about him sometimes.”

“It was really nice, actually,” He goes on, feeling bashful all of a sudden, especially with Soobin’s full attention on him. He wants say that today means a lot to him and he’s immensely grateful to make a new friend - but he doesn’t know how to form it properly into words, his tongue caught between his teeth. “I had a lot of fun,” he adds quickly, a vague conclusion of what he actually wants to convey.

Soobin takes his time to look at him, his stare lingering for a breathless moment, and it’s tender, loving, Yeonjun doesn’t believe he deserves it. He almost wants to shy away from it because how in hell did he find someone who looks at him like this, like Soobin never wants to look away.

“I’m glad,” Soobin says sincerely, and Yeonjun watches as a smile grows slowly on his lips, like witnessing sunrise. “You deserve it. More days like this.”

There’s so much weight in that sentence, in the way Soobin utters it, almost like he’s praying, an earnest wish hidden behind those words. Yeonjun locks his gaze, trying to find something, an answer, a resolution, a crack on those brown eyes.

“How was your day?” Yeonjun shifts the subject, his voice cracking.

“Oh,” Soobin blinks, before leaning back against the chair again, as if he just remembered how tired he is. “As usual. Nothing special to talk about, honestly.”

For a moment, there’s awkward silence, clinging heavily on the air. Neither of them knows what to say, but Soobin eventually gets up.

“I’m going to take a shower,” he informs, pointing at the general direction of the bathroom.

“Okay,” Yeonjun says and nods, unsure how he is supposed to act. It seems like Soobin feels the same way.

“Okay. Bye!” Soobin gives him a shaky thumbs up, his flailing limbs finally out of sight.

Yeonjun’s face turns hot for no reason. “Bye,” he whispers quietly, even when no one’s there.

*

The next day, Yeonjun comes to watch Taehyun’s class again, this time with students he doesn’t recognize. He stays quiet though and looks at them by the corner, happy and content just by observing. When the students go, Taehyun drags him by the arm and forces him to dance with him, holding on to his shoulder as he urges Yeonjun to move and feel the music.

“Come on,” Taehyun says, ecstatic, his whole face lighting up. “Feel it, hyung.”

Yeonjun laughs, embarrassed because there’s no one here anymore, just them, and the music is loud and obnoxious. It’s been a while since he danced and he isn’t sure if he still remembers how, admittedly conscious and insecure of himself, but - as he closes his eyes tight, the feeling of Taehyun with him, he starts to get into it, really feel the music on his body.

It’s nice, he decides, when he’s not thinking about it too much, swaying carelessly as Taehyun laughs. Yeonjun feels free, the weight on his chest momentarily evaporates, making him feel light. He thinks about Daegu, about peaceful mornings when it felt like he could do anything, about golden dusk and the front porch where he used to sit and ponder about what lies ahead in his life - and there he is, in the back of his mind. A familiar smile looking back at him, grazing his skin, a set of pretty eyes - one boy in Daegu.

He remembers the night before he had to leave to Seoul and they were lying on his bed, not looking at each other. He remembers the silence, the loose hold of Beomgyu’s hand on his, and he knew that Beomgyu was trying not to cry. They stayed like that for a long time, and he didn’t realize when Beomgyu got up to turn on a slow song.

When Beomgyu looked at him, his eyes were red, but he was smiling. He offered him his hand and Yeonjun came into his arms. He doesn’t remember how long they danced, but he remembers their interlocked hands, the warm press of their bodies together. Beomgyu was already taller than him then, just a little bit, and he muses on how Beomgyu laughed as he twirled him, and he could feel it on his ribcage.

It was Beomgyu’s form of goodbye, he realized, by how Beomgyu was gripping his shoulders tight, like he was dreading the moment he needed to let go. He could feel the desperation in his gaze, begging for more time, a silent plea for him to stay.

Gyu,” He had called him then as he puts his everything into that one syllable, hoping that Beomgyu could hear it in his voice, his form of goodbye. “I’m sorry.

Yeonjun didn’t need to tell him what it was for, because Beomgyu understood. He only nodded, a faint smile on his lips that didn’t reach his eyes.

It’s okay,” He said as he knocked their foreheads together. “Just - don’t you dare forget me when you’re in Seoul. Remember that you still have someone waiting for you in Daegu.

Yeonjun remembers his first night in Seoul, their first phone call apart, and how he was so sure they could make it work.

That was their last dance together. One that broke his heart.

There are waves of emotions colliding inside of his chest. He doesn’t understand any of it, even when he desperately wants to, but he thinks back to what Soobin said in the car yesterday: You have the most fun when you dance.

More than anything, dancing makes him the happiest. He doesn’t do it for any other reason than that it makes him buzz with felicity, that it’s fun when he feels the music on his bones. It’s exhilirating, even here, in an empty studio with a friend he just met. It feels like being stripped away from your problems, as if Yeonjun isn’t just Yeonjun anymore, he’s one with the music, one with whatever emotion is clinging to his heart.

So, he doesn’t think about it. Lets Taehyun pulls on his arms, lets the music settling deep inside of his soul - lets himself just be.

When the music stops, he opens his eyes slowly, and he sees Taehyun smiling widely, waiting for Yeonjun to say something.

“Uh,” Yeonjun gulps, overwhelmed by how much he missed being able to dance without second guess. He squeezes Taehyun’s shoulder, too grateful to say anything else. “Thank you.”

They eat lunch again after that, on that restaurant by the corner, and this time they didn’t leave until the evening because they were too warped on their conversation to care about the time. Taehyun walks him to the bus stop still clinging to his arm, and Yeonjun thinks he wants to dance again.

*

The week goes by fast.

Yeonjun stays at home on Wednesday because Taehyun doesn’t have any class, and there’s something that he wants to do.

He hadn’t searched their room at all before, too afraid to find something he wasn’t ready to see, didn’t dare to look at the pictures they hung on the mirror. He brushes past them, consciously avoiding looking at them, that he even goes out of his way to only use the the mirror in the bathroom.

But he’s curious, and he actually wants to know. He’s seen their wedding video and the official documents, but that’s all he knows about their life together. He knows the traces of them both are scattered everywhere in this apartment, especially in their room, but he hadn’t bothered to look closely. It is overwhelming to come back home to an unfamiliar place with the knowledge that this has been where he lived for a year.

Yeonjun picks one of the photos, holding it firm between his fingers.

It’s a picture of Soobin smiling to the camera and he looks devastatingly happy. There are crinkles on the edges of his eyes, his teeth peeking through his lips. His dimples are deep on his cheeks, and Yeonjun wonders how they would feel like on his skin.

The photo is taken in a restaurant - a table of people can be seen behind his back, bustling and crowded, that Yeonjun almost could hear the sound of fork against plate, shoes against the carpet.

There’s a note written on the bottom of the photo, scribbled in a familiar handwriting: Soobin-ah, I fall in love with you again today. P.S Thank you for saying yes.

He takes the photo beside it, and now it’s him laughing ear to ear to the camera, his eyes closing in genuine joy. He doesn’t recognize the handwriting in the bottom of this one, and it says simply: It has always been you for me. You know that.

Yeonjun lets go of the photo. He realizes it is from their proposal day.

He stares at the next photo, and now it’s both of them, a selfie taken by Soobin. It’s night, and they appear to be at an amusement park. They look young and his hair is blue. There are two handwritings, the top one says: Let’s do this again. Second date? The other is messy, like it was written in a hurry, and it definitely looks like his: Yes.

This next one is both of them again, but it looks more intimate, taken on a bed and against white sheets. They look sleepy and Soobin doesn’t have that full blown smile like in the first picture. It’s warm and delicate, as if it wasn’t meant for anyone else but them. Yeonjun is tucked on his arm, and on his lips isn’t the wide smile like the previous one, instead he just looks utterly happy.

This time, it’s Soobin’s handwriting, written on top of Yeonjun’s shirt, by his heart.

My love.

Yeonjun recalls the nickname, said to him on their wedding day when Soobin said his vow. He thinks there’s something so tender about it. Calling someone your love. It makes his heart flutter, even when he hasn’t heard Soobin call him that before.

He stares at it for a moment longer and decides it’s his favorite out of the others.

On Thursday, when Yeonjun comes home, he passes Kai by his door.

“Hi, hyung!” He greets him cheerfully, a smile immediately rises on his lips. “I bought some snacks, you want some?”

Yeonjun doesn’t know how to say no to that.

Huening Kai’s apartment looks exactly like Yeonjun thought it would, cozy and bright, and somehow so inherently him. They spend the rest of the evening talking, turning on Kai’s current obsession with a reality show, munching on the snacks. Yeonjun didn’t think he would get along this well with Kai, but they are actually more similar than he initially assume, their conversation light and enjoyable.

When Yeonjun goes back, Soobin is sitting comfortably on the sofa and working on something on his laptop.

“Hey,” Yeonjun greets.

Soobin looks up from the screen, blinking. It seems like he just realizes that Yeonjun is already home. Maybe he didn’t hear the door opening, too focused on his work. As his gaze falls on him, though, he quickly smiles. “Hi there.”

Yeonjun offers him the snack on his hand, one that he took from Kai’s pile of sweets. “I brought you something.”

“Oh?” Soobin stares at the box of candy, eyes wide in disbelief. “For me?”

“Yeah,” Yeonjun says, embarrassed all of a sudden. “I saw you snacking when you were working yesterday, so.”

“Thank you.” Soobin takes it gratefully, beaming, holding it with his hands like it’s the most precious thing he’s ever seen. Yeonjun finds it cute.

On Friday night, they bump on the bathroom and their shoulders knock against each other. Yeonjun winces.

“You can go first,” Soobin says politely, already backing out the door.

“No, you can go first.” Yeonjun insists, shaking his head. “I was just going to brush my teeth.”

“I was just going to brush my teeth too.”

They decide to just do it together and crams in front of the sink, hearing the soft brush skim against their teeth. It’s silent for awhile until Soobin speaks with a mouth full of foam.

“Have you packed yet?”

Yeonjun furrows his eyebrows, just remembering that they’re supposed to go to Daegu tomorrow. He hasn’t done anything. “No.”

“Do you need help?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“How do you feel?”

Soobin does this a lot, asking him how he feels. He’s not sure if he does it only after the accident, or if this is what he did before. Regardless, he thinks it’s nice, like a little check up, a question to end the day.

“Miss my parents,” Yeonjun spits to the sink, putting the toothbrush back in the rack. “Also miss my brother a lot.”

Soobin isn’t done yet, so Yeonjun waits and stands beside him, staring at the dimple poking through his cheek.

“I miss them too,” he says wistfully, gazing at their reflection on the mirror.

“We’ve been talking, actually.” Yeonjun informs him, still staring at the deep concave of his dimple. “They said Taehyung-hyung’s got a surprise for me.”

“Oh?”

“Do you know if he is still with Jimin-hyung?”

The last memory Yeonjun has of his brother is that he’s got a boyfriend. They were just starting to date on his first year.

“Yeah,” Soobin says, nodding immediately.

“Ah,” Yeonjun purses his lips. His suspicion must be true, then. “I think they’re engaged? I don’t know. My family can’t hide a secret. They keep talking about wedding cakes as if I couldn’t read the group chat.”

Soobin spits on the sink before he laughs at his comment. “I can attest to that.”

“Please play along when they tell us the news. Act surprised or something.”

“Sure.”

Late at night, before Yeonjun could get inside his room, already sleepy and ready for bed, Soobin holds the door so he can’t get inside.

“Yeonjun,” Soobin looks unsure of what he wants to say, pacing awkwardly between his two feet. “Wait.”

“Yeah?”

“Can I hug you?”

It’s sudden and surprising, and for a moment Yeonjun doesn’t know what to say. He’s suddenly aware of how tall Soobin is as he towers over him, the top of his head only reaching the bridge of Soobin’s nose. There’s an awkward beat of silence before Yeonjun could think of anything coherent, and Soobin blanches.

“Sorry - that must be weird.” Soobin steps back away from him. “Forget I ever said anything -”

“No! No,” Yeonjun cuts him off and shakes his head urgently, afraid Soobin woud get the wrong idea. “It’s fine, you just caught me off guard.”

“Okay.”

Soobin’s looking at him like he’s asking for permission, and Yeonjun nods, granting it. He doesn’t know why he said yes, didn’t think he would had he asked him a week ago. Yeonjun still doesn’t know him, can’t recognize anything familiar about this man, and yet he knows in his heart that he trusts him. It’s in his eyes, always in his eyes, how he looks at Yeonjun with such clarity he knows he can’t find anywhere else.

He’s warm, is the first that Yeonjun notices, as Soobin wraps him up tight with his arms. He can hear the stifled sigh Soobin lets out, as if he’s been waiting for this moment and he's been holding his breath ever since. Yeonjun rests his head on his shoulder and hugs him back, circling his arms on his waist.

Yeonjun can feel his heartbeat on his ear, the soft thump thump thump like a calming melody. He sighs into his shirt, suddenly feeling sleepy and comfortable, his eyelids dropping heavily on his cheeks. It’s bewildering what his body remembers, because it immediately relaxes on his touch as he leans snuggly against his chest.

He doesn’t recall how long they stay that way, but when Soobin pulls back, still holding on to his shoulders, Yeonjun already regrets the loss of warmth.

“Good night,” Soobin whispers, and Yeonjun wonders why his words always hold so much weight, that even his good night sounds so incredibly genuine, that it doesn’t sound like a careless thing or a casual phrase that he says easily, but it sounds like he actually means it.

Yeonjun doesn’t release his hold, instead his fingers clutch on Soobin’s sweater, suddenly unwilling to let go. He peers up, looking at Soobin who is staring back at him, and there’s a glow in his eyes that Yeonjun wants to understand.

“Good night,” he says and aches, it’s all the same.

*

In the morning, Soobin finds himself falling in love with Yeonjun again.

It’s not a lot, but when he gets out of his room, Yeonjun is already fresh out of the shower. He’s already dressed with a simple shirt tucked in on his jeans, and Soobin can see his backpack on the couch.

He’s making toast the way Soobin usually does and humming a song he doesn’t recognize. He’s swaying slightly to the sound of his own voice, seemingly in his own little world. Idly, Soobin notices the two plates on the dining table.

Before Soobin could do anything stupid, he runs to the bathroom and lets the shower steam burn his scalp, wishing it would die everything down.

When they’re both ready to go, Soobin offers to carry his backpack.

Yeonjun ends up carrying both of theirs, claiming that it’s a form of workout, and Soobin would be doing him a favor if he lets him. Soobin relents and watches as Yeonjun walks ahead the hallway. His own backpack is slung on his shoulder as he lifts Soobin’s on his hand like a makeshift dumbbell. It’s devastatingly endearing, his small little steps, the soft giggles out of his mouth like fireworks. It reminds Soobin of a younger Yeonjun, of someone he first fell in love with, many mornings ago - and yet here he is still, watching the same man, with the same love caught in his throat.

Soobin silently yearns.

*

Soobin stares at the packed street of Seoul as Yeonjun plugs in the aux chord to his phone. He plays a slow song, sweet, something that he would listen to when it’s raining. Yeonjun doesn’t say anything and bops his head to the beat as he watches the street through the window.

“Hey,” Soobin says, breaking the silence. “How do you feel?”

Soobin can hear him smile, even when he’s not looking at him. Out of the corner of his eye, he can feel his gaze on him, searching.

“It’s not fair that it’s always you,” Yeonjun replies. “Let’s take turns.”

“Mm?”

“How do you feel?”

Soobin blinks, taken aback. “How do I feel?”

“Yeah. Tell me,” Yeonjun sinks further into the chair, making himself comfortable. “I want to know too.”

“Okay, uh... Excited.”

“Why?”

“It’s actually been awhile since we went to Daegu. Miss your mom’s cooking.”

“How close are you with them? With my parents?”

“Pretty close,” Soobin says, and thinks about their annual New Years together. They used to have so much fun just lounging at the living room, watching shitty movies that becomes less shitty when you watch it together.

“We were like a family, then?”

Soobin chuckles softly, staring at the horizon. “We are.”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry,” Yeonjun immediately panics, but Soobin just laughs and brushes it away. “Didn’t mean it like that.”

“It’s okay.”

“What else do you feel?”

Soobin thinks about Yeonjun and how much he misses him. It’s strange to think about, because he’s here, Yeonjun is here, and yet he misses him still. At the back of his mind, he knows that he probably misses his Yeonjun - the one who rememembers him, the one who married him, the one who loves him. But he also knows this is the same man. The man beside him isn’t someone different, this is still his Yeonjun. He doesn’t look at him like he used to, but there’s always such openness in the way he stares at him now, like he’s always searching for something in the depth of Soobin’s eyes. It’s different, but it’s still the same curiousity, as always.

He knows that no matter how much he loves his Yeonjun, he loves this Yeonjun just as much. Maybe even more.

“Homesick,” he says.

“For Daegu?”

For you, Soobin wants to say, I keep missing you.

“Yeah,” he finally answers, and wonders how did his heart ever handle it. How did it ever handle being in love with Yeonjun.

*

Soobin remembers the first time Yeonjun told him that he wanted Soobin to meet his parents. It was a year into their relationship and they were having dinner in his apartment. Yeonjun had said it so casually, like he was reporting the weather or something.

Yeonjun was Soobin’s first serious relationship. He had dated people, but none of them ever stuck or felt right, not quite like Yeonjun. Even when they were just getting to know each other - going on spontaneous dates and simply holding hands felt so exhiliriating. Maybe that was it, why Yeonjun was always different, because they had so much fun. Soobin was always quiet and kept to himself, but Yeonjun dragged him along until Soobin felt like he could do anything too.

Soobin thinks he needed that. The source of energy that always seems to exude from Yeonjun. The smile on his lips that never seems to falter. The realization that he wants to be reason of Yeonjun’s carefree laughs that rung loud in his ears.

He had cried when Yeonjun told him, couldn’t believe that Yeonjun was serious enough about him that he wanted to introduce him to his parents. It was then when he truly recognized just how much he wanted this. How much he wanted to settle and be with Yeonjun as long as he could.

He remembers the first time he saw Mrs. Choi’s friendly smile, the soft pat on his back as she welcomed him home. He remembers Mr. Choi’s soft eyes, just like his son, as he greeted him by the door. It means a lot to him, always has been, their hospitality and immediate acceptance. When they got home from that very first trip, Mrs. Choi held his hand and thanked him for taking care of Yeonjun and how glad she was that Yeonjun had a home in Seoul.

It occured to him that the home she meant was him.

He knows he’s being unreasonable, but he’s afraid that they would be disappointed in him. He knows that they’re not in any way blaming him for the accident, but it still gnaws at him, that fear of rejection and abandonment. Maybe he’s been feeling like such a stranger to Yeonjun that he almost expects his family to do the same. The fear that he’ll be casted aside and thrown away with barely a side glance.

Soobin is tense as they get closer to the house. He doesn’t know why he should be, it’s just a another regular visit after all - but he can’t help the rapid beating of his heart, the uneasiness in his hands as he makes a turn.

“You okay?” Yeonjun asks and when he doesn’t answer, he prodes on. “Soobin?”

Soobin fixes his gaze on the road and nods. It’s too silly to say out loud and it’s not like it makes any sense. “Yeah, don’t worry.”

“Are you sure?”

“Mhm.”

It’s all a blur after. He’s aware of everything but it becomes such a haze in his mind - Mr. Choi opening the gates with a happy smile on her lips, Yeonjun’s joyful squeal as he finally parks the car. He recognizes everyone on the front porch waiting for them - Mrs. Choi dressed in a flowery blouse, and Taehyung waving at them with Jimin beside him.

He hugs them all back and tries his best to greet everyone casually but it’s hard when he’s jittery and sweaty and his mouth feels dry. It feels like his mind turns to static and he can’t hear anything except the worries tearing him inside.

They’ve prepared some sort of welcoming party for Yeonjun. There are fancy food and snacks on the table, also some drinks inside tall clear glasses. He idly notices the music playing from the speakers and Yeonjun’s voice swimming in the background.

Soobin hangs back and watches Yeonjun with his family. He looks happy and light, so different from how he was in Seoul, where he was restless and impassive. Yeonjun is slowly opening up to him, he knows, but he’s still tiptoeing around him, still figuring him out. He understands - this is the environment he’s familiar with after all, that he actually knows and remembers, and he just wishes that Yeonjun can be as comfortable like this with him again.

Soobin barely recalls anything - his mind foggy and his shirt feels too tight around his ribs, but he remembers Jimin clinging to Taehyung’s arm as they show their hands and the shiny rings on their fingers. Yeonjun exclaims loudly, despite his previous suspicious of their engagement, and he hugs Taehyung so tight it looks like he can’t breathe.

This is when Soobin really can’t handle it, he thinks, because now his eyes are hot and his throat hurts from the pent tension he tries to swallow down. He slowly backs out, but someone pokes his shoulder.

“Soobin-ah, can you help me?”

It’s Mrs. Choi and she’s holding a tray, now devoid of snacks. He has always thought that she was pretty and just how much Yeonjun resembles her - the soft jaw, kind eyes, charming smile. He quietly nods and follows her to the kitchen.

“You’ve been quiet,” She observes and puts the tray on the table. Soobin helps her arrange another assortment of snacks and feels her eyes on him.

“Sorry,” he quickly apologizes, suddenly afraid that she would mistaken his silence for something else. “I’m just - tired, I guess. From the ride.” It’s not entirely a lie, his muscles are stretching tightly and beg him to lie down on a soft surface.

She lets out a fond laugh with her eyes still prying at him, and Soobin refuses to meet her gaze, scared that he would immediately cry or something embarrassing like that.

“If you’re tired, you can rest.” She holds Soobin’s arm, a soothing touch. “It’s fine, honey.”

Soobin thinks she knows that he’s not just tired. But she always knows. Sometimes more than she lets on.

He shakes his head, feeling guilty. It should be Yeonjun’s day, but here he is, ruining everything. “Just need some fresh air.”

“Okay,” She says, and it looks like she’s thinking about something. “Soobin-ah.”

“Yeah?”

Mrs. Choi holds and squeezes his hand softly, and when Soobin locks their gaze, she smiles. “We’re happy to see you again, Soobin.”

Soobin doesn’t know what to say to that. It just feels like drowning, the reassurance hitting him right in his chest. He has no idea how she figures it out.

He tries to conjure up a respond, but she only nods understandingly before leaving with the tray. He watches as she goes back to the living room and takes a seat beside her husband.

Yeonjun is still there, laughing freely at something that Taehyung says, and Soobin quietly makes his way to the back porch. He sits cross legged next to the railing.

Soobin watches the blue sky, the bright clouds, how the wind greets him with a soft caress. Everything is so familiar to him. This house feels like home as much as their apartment is. Maybe because he knows it’s where Yeonjun grew up. Or maybe because this is where he can feel it. A family.

He listens to the muted chatter from the living room and exhales a heavy breath.

Soobin wishes he can have it again.

*

It’s evening when the food is gone and Yeonjun’s voice starts cracking from too much talking. Soobin joins back to the living room as Taehyung announces that they’ll be having a celebratory dinner later that night. Yeonjun stands closely beside Soobin when they watch the car disappears past the gate.

As the noise dies down and everyone starts cleaning up, Soobin stays back in the kitchen with Mrs. Choi and helps her with the dishes. She insists that it’s fine, but Soobin actually wants to help.

After he’s finished, he meets Yeonjun at the bottom of the staircase and he’s already carrying his own backpack. They lock gaze.

“Hey,” Soobin says, just remembering something. “Where should I stay?”

“What do you mean?” Yeonjun looks confused, his eyebrows furrowing together.

“Like. What room should I sleep in?”

“Oh,” Yeonjun realizes and calls out to his mom. “Do I sleep in my own room?”

“Of course, honey.” She answers from somewhere in the garden.

“Where should Soobin sleep, then?”

There’s a beat of silence before she speaks again. “Aren’t you both going to share?”

“Uh,” Yeonjun hesitates, looking over at Soobin awkwardly. “The guest room is empty, right?”

“The guest room is now your dad’s work office, Jun.” She’s far enough that her voice gets distorted, and there’s a beat of silence before she voices out. “We renovated the house last year.”

Soobin winces. He really didn’t think about this aspect yet. They haven’t shared a room since the accident, and he doesn’t want to make Yeonjun uncomfortable. “It’s okay,” he reassures him. “I can just sleep here? The couch is fine.”

Yeonjun looks like he’s debating with himself, but he shakes his head determinedly. “No,” he insists. “I’m not going to let you sleep on the couch, that’s rude.”

Soobin laughs, eyeing the affronted couch and shrugs. “It’s fine. Really.”

“No,” Yeonjun argues, already going up the stairs. “Come on. You’re coming with me.”

The room is the first on the left. It used to be Yeonjun’s when he still lived here, and there are blank spots on the wall where Yeonjun used to hung posters on, the scrapes of a sharp object on the dresser. It still looks like his room, but now it lacks personality, just a remnant of what it used to be. He can see that the room doesn’t have an owner anymore.

Yeonjun sits on the bed, and he looks at him who is still standing by the doorway. It’s painfully awkward, because this is actually their first time to be in a room alone since the accident. Back in the apartment, Soobin tries his best to give him space, and Yeonjun doesn’t seek for his companion either. The first time they ever crossed that gap was last night when Soobin blurted out that he wanted a hug, and he could feel Yeonjun’s heartbeat pressed against his chest.

Soobin grips the strap of his backpack. If the accident didn’t happen, and the boy sitting on the bed is his Yeonjun, they would be lying on the bed already, making each other laugh. Yeonjun would ramble about Taehyung and Jimin’s engagement, and he would talk about the suit he wants to wear, the kind of cake that he wants to taste in the wedding. He would try to make it about them somehow, and go on a sappy road to memory lane, and they’d end up reminiscing about their own wedding, staring at the ceiling, their hands warmly interlocked in each other’s hold.

Soobin can’t help but notice how different they are. The glaring distance between them, how Yeonjun clasps his hands together like he isn’t quite sure how to handle it. Soobin isn’t sure either, doesn’t know how to act as if he didn’t know everything about Yeonjun like the back of his hand.

He needs to accept it, he thinks. Accept that this is what he has now, and he shouldn’t take it for granted. This is still Yeonjun, in more ways than one. He remembers when they were getting to know each other, and it had never felt as nerve-wrecking as this. This: looking at his husband and knowing it’s a different set of eyes looking back.

“This is a little weird,” Yeonjun speaks out first, worrying his bottom lip with his teeth. “For me. Not because of anything, just because, you know. I don’t,” he stops suddenly, glancing at Soobin sheepishly.

Soobin stares at the intricate details of the door. “Yeah,” he murmurs, nodding. “I get it. Sharing a room with someone you don’t know? That’s kinda weird.”

Yeonjun laughs, scooting further on the bed. “I’m getting to know more about you, though.”

Soobin closes his eyes and tries to calm himself down. It’s too much sometimes - an obnoxious reminder that he’s not talking to someone who already knows everything about him.

“I can sleep on the floor,” Soobin says, pointing at the area beside the bed. “There’s probably a spare mattress around here somewhere. I’ll ask your mom or dad later.”

“Okay.”

“Okay,” Soobin nods, and he moves inside the room to put his bag on the vanity, but Yeonjun reaches out and suddenly tugs his wrist.

It’s a loose hold, barely feels like anything, but Soobin registers the warmth, and how his skin felt against his palm. His thumb right on his pulse, his forefinger circles around the sharp jut of his bone.

“Hey,” Yeonjun says softly, and he’s looking right at Soobin’s eyes, piercing. “Thank you for driving me here.”

There’s fire in his chest, clouds in his mind, longing wrapped around his shoulder blades, and this is stuck between his teeth: I’d do anything for you.

“Don’t worry about it, Junie,” he says, and it burns.

*

Yeonjun can hear the shower stream pouring loudly from the bathroom. Soobin’s been in there for a long time, and Yeonjun wonders if he’s fine.

He’s not stupid - he talks a lot but there are also things that he keeps inside. He observes, and notices, even when he doesn’t mention it out loud. He’s been looking at Soobin the entire day, and he can tell that something’s wrong.

Soobin is quiet and calm, but he’s usually bright and happy. But today he looks... dimmed. He stays back most of the time, and at first Yeonjun thought that maybe he was being shy, but he Soobin told him that he’s close with Yeonjun’s family. It makes him worry, and at the back of his mind, he wonders if it’s because of him.

Yeonjun will never understand the weight of the accident that Soobin feels, will never know just how much that he’s enduring, but it still pains him to see it so bare on his gaze. Back in Seoul, Yeonjun can always see it, everything that he’s holding back, but it’s different now. The pain weighed in his eyes today isn’t the same one that’s been resting on his shoulders. This one takes out his entire energy and makes him look worn out, the usual gentle presence replaced by something dangerously quiet, like the calm before a storm.

He’s never seen him like that, and Yeonjun decides he doesn’t like it.

The bathroom door suddenly opens, stratling him. Behind it, Soobin is already dressed and struggling with something in his hands.

“Everything okay?” Yeonjun asks from the dresser, turning his head to see what’s going on.

“Yeah, uh,” Soobin’s voice hesitates, sounding frustrated. “It’s just, why can’t this thing work -

When Yeonjun comes closer, Soobin is holding the plug to the hair dryer. The socket is just by the mirror and above the counter, and Soobin can’t seem to reach it. It’s strange because Soobin is taller than most people and this should be the easiest thing to him.

His frustration doesn’t come from the hair dryer or the distance of the socket, Yeonjun realizes, because Soobin’s hands are trembling. Yeonjun takes an alarmed look at him. His cheeks are pale and color is gone from his face. There’s really something wrong - more than he knows, more than Soobin can conceal.

Yeonjun takes the hair dryer from him and plugs it quietly to the outlet. Soobin is staring at him, dumbfounded and confused, but Yeonjun turns the dryer on without a word.

The air is hot on his face. He stares at the skin below Soobin’s eye, and with a halted breath, starts ruffling the wet hair covering Soobin’s forehead.

Soobin doesn’t say anything, just lets him dry his hair, the soft whirring of the dryer deafening in this quiet room. Yeonjun’s heart beats nervously against his ribcage.

“Everything okay?” he asks again softly, barely a whisper. He doesn’t why he feels tense, jumpy almost, standing in front of him like this with their chest almost touching. If he wants to, he can memorize the details of his face, like the smooth slope of his nose and the plumpness of his cheeks.

“Yeah, thanks to you. The hair dryer works just fine.”

“No, I meant you. Are you okay?”

Soobin stays quiet, and Yeonjun doesn’t dare meet his eyes. There’s a delay in his breath, like he isn’t sure if he wants to inhale or exhale, can’t figure out which would ease it better.

Yeonjun looks up, and watches quietly as Soobin’s eyelids drop slowly, the unhurried flutter of his lashes. His forehead is creased and the lines of his lips are taut.

Time seems to still. Yeonjun holds to Soobin’s hair softly and feels it on his skin, the drip of water lingering on his fingertips. He tugs the strands on the top of his head and puts it in front of the dryer, watching it dance under the light.

Yeonjun thinks about the hug last night. He thinks about the photos on the mirror. He thinks about his blue hair in an amusement park. Thinks about stunning altar, beautiful vows, all woven in interlocked hands and two hearts, thrumming for the same thing.

He thinks about Soobin and wonders how long did it take to fall in love with him. When did it click? When did it dawn on him that this is the man he wanted? When was the big realization - which smile it was, which laugh, which soft my love that struck something inside of him?

“Hey,” Yeonjun whispers cautiously and trails his hand bravely to his cheek. He cups it lightly - just a quick touch before he retreats and flings his hand back to his side. “It’s done.”

When Soobin opens his eyes again, it feels like time wakes up with him, and Yeonjun feels the world back on his feet. The hair dryer is loud, but Soobin’s gaze still feels louder somehow, and it’s like he’s stuck in a limbo where only Soobin exists.

“Let me,” Soobin says softly, taking the dryer from him so quickly that Yeonjun can’t resist.

Yeonjun has always noticed that Soobin is attractive. Even back in the hospital when Yeonjun didn’t want to talk, and would always refuse to meet his eyes - Yeonjun would stare sneakily at the stranger in his room, the mysterious man who waited for hours outside just to give him food. He has always known it, has always realized just how handsome Soobin really is.

Here, though, in front of him and they stood just inches apart, mirroring the same position as last night - Yeonjun can really appreciate it. Soobin isn’t looking at him, but Yeonjun is admiring quietly.

Soobin’s threads his hair gently, his hand resting on the back of his neck, his thumb hovering lightly above his skin. His touch sends shiver down his spine, and when he starts to card his fingers through his scalp, Yeonjun involuntarily closes his eyes.

“Your hair’s still wet,” Soobin explains. His voice is softer than usual, honey-laced. Yeonjun feels like he’s being hypnotized.

“Mhm,” Yeonjun hums, enjoying the heat. It’s really nice. They’ve also scooted closer than before, the sleeve of Soobin’s shirt touching his cheek. He chuckles. “That tickles.”

Yeonjun can feel the soft rumble of his light laughter on his chest. “Sorry,” Soobin whispers sheepishly.

“It’s fine. It’s,” Yeonjun gulps. “Nice.”

“Okay.”

They stay that way for awhile - until the nervousness is gone from Yeonjun’s body and he just feels relaxed with the tension in his shoulders gone, and all he wants is to hear the thump thump thump of Soobin’s heartbeat pressed against his ear again. There’s a quiet serenity in their silence, as if everything blurs in the background, and Yeonjun feels strangely safe.

Soobin stops touching his hair so abruptly that Yeonjun opens his eyes.

“All done,” he breathes out, but doesn’t move.

Yeonjun stares back at him. Soobin looks jaded, his gaze hollow. It’s not the usual sadness that he retains back in Seoul, not the hurt that he’s been holding back since the hospital. It’s a light flicker, glimmering behind the shadow of his eyes, barely there but consuming him whole. It makes him look like he’s given up.

Yeonjun doesn’t like it.

Before Yeonjun can say anything about it, Soobin trails a delicate touch on his cheek and holds him still.

He seems to think about it first, like he wants to say something else, but he settles with this instead: “Let’s get ready for dinner.”

As Soobin goes back to the room, Yeonjun can feel the remaining water flows down to his neck, and he shivers.

*

The restaurant is packed with people. It is a Saturday after all, and everyone is dying to ease up and let loose.

Taehyung didn’t tell him that it’s going to be a fancy restaurant, the kind where everything is horrendously expensive and you need to reserve a seat months in advance. He gets that it was supposed to be a surprise and the engagement wasn’t even revealed to him later that day, but still, Yeonjun would’ve brought a nicer outfit if he knew.

“You jackass,” Yeonjun slaps Taehyung’s arm when they hug again that evening when the newly engaged arrived at the house, but Taehyung just laughs. “At least tell me to bring nice clothes.”

“Aw, but you always look nice, little bro.”

“Shut up.”

Yeonjun finds out that Taehyung is now a really a famous interior designer or something, and Jimin owns a clothing line. It makes a lot of sense, as he eyes the size of the restaurant. They also tell him that they’re in the middle of building their new house. Damn.

“The house is nice,” Jimin tells the family at the passenger seat. “We’re building a pool too. Ah, I really can’t wait to move in.”

“So you can live happily ever after with me, right?”

“Of course, honey.”

“Not because you want to jump in the pool first thing when we move in?”

“What? Of course not. That’s ridiculous.”

Taehyung reserved a seat on the second floor with a balcony and an impressive view of the city below. Yeonjun is excited about it when he tells them because he wants to see the city in such a high spot, and wonders if he could spot his house in a tiny figure from above. He’s itching to see the sky so bare from a spot like that.

Yeonjun takes the seat between Soobin and Taehyung. He feels a little out of place - it’s not that he isn’t wearing anything nice, he is, he always wears something nice, but it’s not something he would wear to this kind of occasion had Taehyung warned him in advance.

He’s still a little pissed off, if he’s being honest.

Soobin, on the other hand, didn’t prepare anything formal as well, but he looks overwhelmingly good. He’s wearing a soft red sweater, tugged in fitted jeans. He’s wearing a little make up too, and Yeonjun watched him do it as he was preparing his own outfit, and admittedly he got a little too transfixed at the way Soobin’s mouth parted when he applied his chapstick on.

In other words, Soobin looks really good, and it isn’t fair.

Yeonjun had complained to him then, I hate that I won’t look good tonight, but Soobin only spared him a quick glance on the mirror as he whispered but that’s impossible.

Maybe Yeonjun blushed, maybe he didn’t - either way, if Soobin noticed, he didn’t say anything.

Soobin still stays quiet, even when the waiter hand them the menu and dad says some corny jokes. Yeonjun knows that Soobin is spacing out and isn’t really paying attention, only opening his mouth when someone is directly talking to him. He even notices mom’s attentive glances on him every now and then, and he realizes maybe Yeonjun is the only one who doesn’t know why Soobin is acting this way. Or maybe, mom just knows more than anyone else, like always.

As they wait for the food to arrive, Jimin tells them about the wedding plan - about the venues that he and Taehyung have looked and one that they both have decided to like best. He talks about the decorations and the flowers, everything that Yeonjun is sure he has gone through himself before. Jimin sounds really excited that his voice rises higher, and there is that shine in his eyes that turns his whole face bright. Yeonjun thinks that Jimin must have really love his brother if he’s talking about their future together with so much care in his words.

He misses a lot of it. He remembers a memory at the back of his mind on his first year of college, and Taehyung first introduced him to Jimin. It’s mostly a blur, but he liked him back then and thought that Jimin was cool, but that’s all he knows about him. Judging by their first meeting that afternoon and now, Yeonjun still thinks the same of him. They should probably hang out alone, just them, so Yeonjun can make a more definitive opinion about him. Right now though, he’s just glad that Taehyung found someone to hold his hand underneath the table as Jimin talks about how happy he is to be here.

Mom cries a little and doesn’t say anything, but dad goes on to tell them that he can’t wait for the wedding.

There’s a lot of love in this table, and Yeonjun feels content. Back at Seoul, he feels stranded in an island he doesn’t know his way to, but right now he feels at ease, like he doesn’t have to be afraid of being lost. He doesn’t know just how much he misses from his life and what kind of changes that he had to endure, just how many years of this that was taken away from him. It’s still frustrating, and somewhere, in the deep recess of his heart, he wishes that his memories would come back, but he knows it’s probably wishful thinking.

When their drinks are served, Yeonjun really needs to go to the bathroom.

He strides slowly through the crowd, watching the busy atmosphere of the restaurant - the fresh and sharp uniforms of the waiters, the occasional business-clad people on the table, the clattering of spoon over plate, and he feels so much more out of place than before. He takes a quick moment to see himself in the mirror before leaving the bathroom, making sure that there’s no hair out of place.

Yeonjun?

His blood runs cold. It’s a familiar voice. So familiar even, that his heart misses a beat. He can’t remember when was the last time he heard that voice calling out his name.

He turns around, locks eyes with a pair of eyes he’s known all his life. One boy in Daegu.

“Beomgyu,” He whispers, can’t believe what he’s seeing. He feels like he’s dreaming, and he can’t feel his hands. “Hi.”

Beomgyu doesn’t look much different - he’s taller than him by just a little, but he still looks so much like the boy met when he was young, still the same boy who lived next door. It’s strange how much time has passed since then, just two little kids holding hands, talking about the future like they had any clue what it meant.

Yeonjun remembers. Remembers when Beomgyu was six and his tooth fell out, remembers Taehyung's indignant laugh when they kept bothering him to play with them, and how he always indulged in the end.  He remembers when Beomgyu was fourteen and fell in love with the girl in their class, remembers his first heartbreak and how Yeonjun patiently waited until the light was back in his eyes. Remembers their first kiss under the tree on his backyard, the sweet tint of pink on Beomgyu’s cheeks whey they broke apart.

Yeonjun remembers.

“Yeonjun,” Beomgyu says, and his eyes widen in disbelief. “Oh my god - it’s really you.”

Yeonjun nods, dumbfounded. He stares quietly at Beomgyu and there’s a glint in his eyes that he’s never seen. He looks so much older, not just in the way he looks, but in the way he carries himself - like he’s gained that sense of maturity he didn’t have back then. “It’s me.”

“Do you have a minute?” he asks, the chatter behind him muted and gone. “Please - can we talk?”

“Okay,” Yeonjun says, and he doesn’t know why it hurts as he looks at him under the ghostly light, reminding him of the night that broke his heart.

“It’ll just be a moment.”

Yeonjun follows him quietly, tailing close until they reach the balcony, and Yeonjun rests his elbows on the railing.

He was right. The city looks beautiful from up here. He can see miniature buildings. Twinkling lights from tiny houses. Small cars on the streets. It looks lively, and he realizes this is just little pieces of what made a home in his heart.

Yeonjun turns to look at Beomgyu. He can see him clearly here under the night sky.

Beomgyu’s hair is black now, dark messy strands on his forehead. Yeonjun used to love tucking his hair behind his ear, looking straight in his eyes until he laughs.

“Gyu,” he blurts out, can’t handle the silence any longer.

“I know,” Beomgyu looks back at him, and Yeonjun wants to cry. “It’s weird, isn’t it? We haven’t met for god knows how long, and now we’re here. Yeonjun, I haven’t talked to you since -”

“The break up?” Yeonjun guesses.

“Yeah,” he nods, before fixing his gaze on somewhere in the city, and Yeonjun wonders what he has been up to. If his life has changed drastically too. “It was... ah, I don’t even know how to talk about it.”

“I had an accident. A car crash,” Yeonjun forces it out, because he doesn’t want to stall, and he doesn’t know how else to tell him. “I have memory loss. I don’t - I don’t remember what happened to us.”

The silence stretches, long and heavy, but Yeonjun lets it.

“Are you okay? Did you have any injury - ”

“I’m fine,” Yeonjun worries his bottom lip with his teeth. “Really.”

“You’re married,” Beomgyu says, but it sounds more like a question.

“Yeah,” he nods slowly, staring at Beomgyu’s hand, and there’s no ring. “He’s here.”

Beomgyu is looking at him again, and Yeonjun heaves a sigh. He needs to know. He needs to know now, doesn’t know if he’ll ever get another chance.

“Gyu, listen, I - ” Yeonjun grits his teeth, frustrated, panic settling inside of him, knowing that his family, Soobin, is waiting for him, but he can’t - he can’t just go without - “I don’t remember him. I only remember you.”

Oh,” Beomgyu breathes out slowly, and it seems like it finally clicks. “You don’t remember the break up - ”

“No,” Yeonjun shakes his head, bites his lips hard enough that it hurts. “I don’t remember anything else, Gyu. Please. Please - just. Tell me.” So I can rest.

It occurs to him that it’s been years for Beomgyu, but it’s only been a few weeks for Yeonjun. That Beomgyu is dealing with an ex that he hasn’t seen for years, and here he is, begging for an answer like he deserves it.

Beomgyu doesn’t look like he hates him, though. There isn’t a trace of sadness in his face, and Yeonjun just wants to know what the hell happened to them.

“Yeonjun,” Beomgyu calls softly, and he thinks about that night and his goodbye, how he just doesn’t understand. “We were so young.”

Yeonjun knows that. They had known each other since they were children, fell in love when they barely knew who they were, and thought they could conquer the world together. He knows that. Remembers that silly determination when he moved to Seoul, thinking that they could make it work.

“It wasn’t like a bad break up or anything, we just grew apart,” He explains patiently, his elbow knocking Yeonjun’s. “Months before that, we just kept fighting. You were busy. I was busy. We didn’t have time to make any phone calls anymore, and... yeah. You popped the question one night, when I called you. You said this isn’t working, isn’t it? And that was it.”

Yeonjun stares at his hands, and when he speaks, his voice quivers. “What happened after?”

Beomgyu laughs, but it doesn’t sound bitter. “We stopped talking. We didn’t meet again. I knew you still visit your family here, and I still talk to your brother sometimes, you know, because we were friends too. But you and I - we never crossed paths, and we didn’t bother contacting each other - so, that was... it.”

“Did you know I was married?”

“Of course. I was happy for you,” Beomgyu says, and it sounds so sincere that Yeonjun can’t handle it. “I didn’t get an invite, though.”

“Sorry,” Yeonjun murmurs, ducking his head.

“I get it,” Beomgyu chirps, and he’s beaming at the sky. He doesn’t look like he’s upset at all, he just looks genuinely happy to see him. “I know it would be awkward. We hadn’t talked in years, and if you suddenly gave me a wedding invitation - that would suck. A lot.”

Yeonjun nods, thinks he understands his past self’s decision too. He wouldn’t have invited Beomgyu even if he was in that situation today.

“I’m sorry,” Yeonjun says.

“What for?”

“The break up and how it happened. I shouldn’t have broke it off on the phone.”

“Dumbass,” Beomgyu knocks their shoulders together, and it seems friendly, like he’s really just here to greet an old friend, not an ex. “You weren’t even there. You’re not the one who broke up with me.”

Yeonjun laughs, and his eyes feel hot. He misses this, he thinks, misses Beomgyu and his familiarity. Misses Daegu and Beomgyu, and the tree on his backyard that he spent hours under when he waited for Beomgyu to come over.

He knows that it’s over and the remaining memories in his head are just that. Memories. He shouldn’t miss memories. He knows that he misses these memories because he doesn’t remember the ones after. These are the only memories that he has left anyway.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Beomgyu says quietly, and there’s reminiscence in his voice. “I was heartbroken for a long time. I couldn’t forgive you because I thought it was your fault. But time heals, I guess, and I realized it was nobody’s fault. Not yours. Not mine. We were just young kids in love, didn’t know anything about the world, and that’s okay. Didn’t mean what he had was useless or anything, it was there for a reason, and I. I always carry you with me, you know. You were my best friend in the entire world.”

Yeonjun nods, even when it hurts. “Yeah.”

“There’s one thing, though.” Beomgyu continues, pursing his lips, as he looks down at the street with a thoughtful look. “One thing that never left me.”

“What is it?”

“We never had any real closure,” he says softly, and it seems like it’s been kept inside of his heart for a long time. “We broke up, never met again, and years later... here we are.”

Yeonjun nods again, doesn’t know what to say to that. It must be difficult for Beomgyu to deal with that alone, and Yeonjun thinks that he’s strong to be able to come out of it like this, so visibly unscathed.

“That’s okay,” Beomgyu says, reassuring him, but it sounds like he’s talking to himself too. “Maybe this can be our closure.”

Yeonjun looks at him, and thinks he finally understands. Beomgyu looks like he’s completely moved on from that broken place in his past, and Yeonjun can’t help but feel happy for him. He looks really taken care of, his eyes are shining, and he looks happily content.

This feels like Yeonjun’s closure. He’s relieved to finally know what happened. Desperately glad that Beomgyu’s okay.

He knows that this part of his life is over and Beomgyu is a piece of memory in his mind that he shouldn’t keep on dwelling. He thinks he can finally accept that this shouldn’t hurt him anymore.

“Hey,” Beomgyu nudges him quietly. “I need to go back to my friend. It’s his birthday today.”

Yeonjun looks at a random house below, one that he thinks resembles his, and thinks about how it was back then when he was with Beomgyu. He thinks about summers he used to spend with Beomgyu’s finger interlocked with his, about the stars they used to count in their backyard, the wishes they made whenever Beomgyu lied about seeing a shooting star. He thinks about everything, and even though these memories seem to be fresh in his mind, he knows that it’s not true - that this actually happened a long time ago, and there’s no use clinging into them anymore.

He takes a careful look at Beomgyu and stares at the familiar smile on his lips. It’s familiar, but he realizes that it’s actually not. He doesn’t know this man. There are years between them - new scars, old scars, and Beomgyu has had to live with them since. Yeonjun is only starting now, and he has a life in Seoul with a new face and a new love, and he was happy.

Beomgyu has always been his home. His first love, his best friend, the one person he trusts more than anyone else. He knows that it has changed. This isn’t the man still etched in his mind. That man has moved on, and now it’s Yeonjun’s turn.

There are still a lot of things that he wants to say, questions that he needs to ask, but he knows he can’t be here any longer. His family is waiting for him. Maybe another time.

“Bye, Yeonjun,” Beomgyu smiles at him, waving his hand. “Say hi to your husband for me?”

Yeonjun’s heart warms at that, and he nods, “Okay.”

Beomgyu disappears into the crowd. Yeonjun stares at the city one more time, and he thinks about one boy in Daegu, and how he has to let him go.

*

There’s something new when he comes back to their table, and Soobin looks at him. There’s something new in the way Yeonjun looks back at him, the soft thumping of his heart loud and different.

“What took you so long?” Soobin asks, his eyebrows furrowing. The rest aren’t paying attention to him, doesn’t even care that he’s come back - Taehyung is talking with his mother, Jimin gesturing wildly with his arms, his dad listening with a quiet nod of his head.

Yeonjun contemplates for a moment, whether to tell him about Beomgyu or not, but he thinks about the sadness in Soobin’s eyes and decides against it. “Uh, there was a queue.”

Soobin nods and immediately accepts his answer, but his forehead creases. “I got a little worried there for a second.”

“Why?”

“Scared that you knock your head on the stall or something.”

“How dare you,” Yeonjun gasps, feigning for susprise. It makes Soobin smiles. He thinks Soobin has a nice smile. “No, don’t worry,” he waves his hand dismissively. “I’m fine.”

“Okay, that’s good.”

“Mhm.”

Soobin is still tense. He can see the taut on his shoulders, the invisible weight hovering above his head.

“Hey,” Yeonjun says, and almost forgets what to say. “The food hasn’t arrived yet?”

Soobin shakes his head, playing with the surface of his half empty glass. “Probably soon.”

The food, as Soobin predicted, comes just a few minutes after, and they get quiet as they eat. It’s delicious as expected, and Taehyung keeps making a loud noise each time he swallows a tasty bite which earns a scolding from mom, but she doesn’t really make any effort to stop him.

All in all, Yeonjun thinks it’s nice to get to know Jimin like this - a welcomed addition to the family. He knows it’s a celebratory dinner for them, but he really appreciates it, being together after what happened. Yeonjun is glad to know that nothing really has changed - sure, years of his life have been wiped out from his mind, but at least he still has this. A family to come home to.

He thinks he’s okay with that.

*

“So,” Yeonjun starts, fiddling with his pillow sheet. He stares at the half closed bathroom door, can hear Soobin inside. “Can I ask you something?”

He waits for a moment, and when Soobin comes out, he’s make-up free and dressed in a simple shirt with pajama pants. He looks comfortable, his dark hair fluffy and messy, but Yeonjun still thinks he looks as good as he did back in the restaurant.

“Sure, go ahead.” Soobin says, and goes over to the mattress beside the bed. He fluffs the sheets and pillow, not looking at him.

“Um,” Yeonjun hesitates, but decides to just ask him in a straightforward manner. There’s no use going around the bush. “What’s going on with you?”

 Soobin stays quiet, his hands halting in the sheets. He can hear him sigh softly, but Yeonjun can’t stare at his face, can’t figure out what’s thinking.

“You notice?” He asks in a breath, and sits cross-legged on the mattress, now facing him. He looks tired mostly, but it’s still there, the ghostly dejection behind his eyes.

“Very hard not to.”

Soobin wipes his hand over his face until his cheek is squished against his palm. “Sorry,” he whispers glumly. “Must be annoying.”

“No, it’s not that,” Yeonjun shakes his head firmly. He leans forward a little, just so they can be eye to eye on this, figuratively and literally. “I’m just worried, Soobin.”

Soobin chuckles gently, the sound resounding in the room and maybe in Yeonjun’s heart, too. “You’re worried about me, huh?”

He takes his pillow and smashes it lightly against Soobin’s arm, “Shut up, you jackass,” he goes back to sit on the bed, but he laughs, and relief washes over him when Soobin smiles. “Of course I am. Aren’t I supposed to be your husband or something?”

Soobin locks his gaze to the foot of Yeonjun’s bed, “It’s okay,” he says quietly. “You don’t need to hear about it, Junie.”

“But I want to.”

“It’s nothing, really. Nothing you have to worry about.”

“Soobin...” Yeonjun calls out, and there’s resolution in his voice. He pats the bed. “Come here? Please?”

Soobin stares at him for a second, like he’s debating it, but eventually gives up. Yeonjun scoots over so Soobin can sit in front of him.

The night is too quiet. He can hear the wind, the soft footsteps of his parents downstairs. He can hear Soobin’s soft inhales and see the tension on his shoulders.

He notices that their knees are almost touching.

“Soobin, remember what I said?” Yeonjun starts, sighing heavily. He isn’t actually sure how to approach this, but he wants to try. “I want to remember you, but you need to help me,” he breathes out desperately. “Don’t meet me halfway. Please.”

Soobin has his eyes closed, his lips shut tight, but he slowly nods. “Okay.”

“Okay.”

Yeonjun waits patiently. He doesn’t want to overwhelm him, so he gives him space, but not too much that Soobin still knows that he’s here.

“I’m just,” Soobin says, and it sounds broken. “I’m just scared, Yeonjun.”

“Of what?”

“Losing this. Losing,” Soobin stops, and when he opens his eyes and looks at Yeonjun, there’s heartbreak in his gaze. “ - you.”

Yeonjun reaches out and holds his hand. Soobin freezes for a moment, but as Yeonjun squeezes it reassuringly, he immediately relaxes on his touch.

“Why?” He asks gently, urging him to go on.

Before Soobin even opens his mouth, Yeonjun knows this is a story that he has heard before.

“I cried when I first met your mom,” Soobin explains slowly, and there’s a glimmer of smile curling in the corner of his lips, like he’s reminiscing on a bittersweet memory. “When we stayed over this house that night, you held me until I stopped crying. You didn’t let go,” he holds his breath, a second, another - before it spills out: “You never did.

“Why did you cry?”

Soobin ducks his head, like he wants to hide, but Yeonjun keeps holding his hand.

“I had just lost my mom then,” He rushes out, and his voice is shaky. “My dad hasn’t been around since I was a kid. He still isn’t, even now. So meeting your family - it felt like... having another home.”

Soobin tightens his grip, bracing himself. “I’m just afraid to be back here again because I almost lost you, and I almost lost this, too. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost this, Yeonjun...”

“Soobin...” Yeonjun whispers, feels like he needs to say something, but doesn’t know how.

“It’s really stupid, I know - it’s just,” He interjects, shaking his head, and Yeonjun just wants to hold him. “The accident...”

“Yeah?”

“I lost my mom in an accident too. It’s...”

Yeonjun closes his eyes, feels like something is punching him right in the gut, knocking the air out of his lungs. This is the first time Soobin has ever said anything to him like this. The first time Yeonjun can see the layer hidden behind his eyes, the weight of his wound that he keeps inside.

“I couldn’t control what happened to her,” Soobin says, and now that he’s started talking, it seems like he can’t stop. “She was just out to get grocery... I was at my dorm...”

Yeonjun doesn’t want to imagine it, so he leans forward until their foreheads knock, Soobin’s harsh breath fanning over his face.

“Our accident... I feel like I should’ve control it, somehow,” Soobin reveals, and it sounds like a secret that he’s been holding onto all this time. “... that I could’ve... that maybe if I just... we wouldn’t....”

He stops to catch his breath, and Yeonjun uses the moment to cup his face, looking right into his eyes. “I might not remember what happened,” he says regretfully, and for the first time he wishes he shares the same pain as him. “But I know there’s nothing else that you could do. Soobin, it wasn’t your fault. No one is blaming you. Not my mom. Not me. No one thinks it was your fault.”

Soobin exhales through his mouth, like it pains him to hear Yeonjun’s words, but he knows that he needs to hear it. He waits, until it settles in Soobin’s heart - waits, until he believes him.

He looks at Yeonjun, eyes traveling across his face like he’s trying to find any doubt there. When he doesn’t find it, he nods and knocks their foreheads together again.

Yeonjun wraps his arms around his back and rests his head on his shoulder. He can feel Soobin calming down, the rise of his chest gradually slows.

“I’m sorry,” Soobin says against his ear.

“No,” he shakes his head, feeling the soft flutter of his hair on his cheek. “You don’t have to be sorry about anything.”

“Thank you for listening to me.”

Yeonjun smiles, and he echoes what Soobin said to him back in the car in that parking lot. “Thank you for telling me.”

They stay that way for a while, listening to each other’s breathing, and Yeonjun feels content. After a moment, he lies himself sideway on the bed and tugs Soobin’s hand until he falls over too.

“Hey, there,” Yeonjun says softly, when Soobin’s head meets the other end of his pillow. They’re so close like this, he could count Soobin’s eyelashes if he wants to.

“Hey,” Soobin whispers back, and instinctively reaches for Yeonjun’s hand. Yeonjun interlocks their fingers together until their palms meet, Soobin’s wedding ring presses cold against his skin.

“Can I tell you something?”

“Of course.”

“I really love the sky,” Yeonjun tells him slowly, staring back at Soobin’s attentive gaze. He always does this, whenever he talks, such undivided attention that can’t break. “I love watching the clouds move.”

He knows Soobin probably knows this about him - hell, they’ve dated for years. Married for one. Soobin probably already knows everything about him, but this is something that he needs to do. He wants to give a piece of himself to Soobin, not about his past, but something that he feels now, something that is true now.

Despite it, Soobin still listens to him intently, as if he hasn’t heard this before. Yeonjun continues, “I love the color of it. How it changes so much even within a single day,” he thinks about it in his mind, and he wonders if they’ve ever done it before, just watching the sky, the two of them together. “How it can be so blue, or pink, or a bunch of colors that we can’t really make of. Even the night sky isn’t always pitch black, sometimes there are stars.”

Soobin smiles softly, and Yeonjun watches until it blooms. “It makes me calm, I guess. Grounds me, helps me think. Reminds me of how big the world is.”

“I’ve never understood that.”

“Watching the sky?”

“Yeah,” Soobin nods, and his gaze doesn’t falter. “You love it so much.”

“You should do it sometimes.”

“Maybe,” Soobin laughs quietly, and he looks overwhelmingly fond. “I love hearing you talk about it.”

“Why?”

“Just because.”

Yeonjun stares at him until his eyelids feel heavy, and yawns. “Soobin, are you sleepy?” he asks, and when he looks at him, Soobin has sunk further into Yeonjn’s pillow.

“Mm.”

“Me too. Do you want to sleep?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

Yeonjun gets up to the other side of the room and turns off the light. He doesn’t mention that Soobin was supposed to sleep on the mattress, and quietly takes Soobin’s pillow for him to sleep on. He turns on the bedside lamp and it casts a warm light over them.

When he comes back to the bed, Soobin reaches for his hand again. He lets him until Soobin’s knuckles are nestled against his cheek.

“Yeonjun,” Soobin calls out, and even though Yeonjun can’t see him, he feels his breath on his mouth. “I love you.”

Yeonjun lets it hang in the air, and closes his eyes.