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Never enough

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He exists.

He exists in the space between sleep and consciousness.
Exists in the glimpses between heartache and momentary relief. In the interval between breaking and stagnancy. He exists and does a good job of it but only of that.

Existing and surviving.  


He thinks of his footsteps on the fine line between heartbreak and downright destruction.

In the past three years it had been quite wobbly.  


He often found himself laying on the bed- his self made mausoleum, and thinking. Analyzing and cataloguing every thought and moment spent together . Breaking it into a million pieces and examining from each angle and then putting it back again.  

However the result remained miserably consistent, clueless and empty.


He wakes up everyday and follows a routine of eating, working and cleaning. Every part of it meticulously calculated and measured.

He hadn’t meant to work, couldn’t find the strength to but Hyemi had forced him with threats of breaking friendships and all that bullshit so he had obliged. The pay was generous and in his opinion a little excessive for cleaning tables and windows but he didn’t have the strength for complaining either. He was just glad someone was willing to associate with him, a depressing human machine .  

It starts slow they say and you slide so gently as though slipping through clouds and you don’t realize it. Can’t realize it.  

He hadn’t.  


It was just another day at work and he was stood scrubbing tables, he liked doing it, at least for the sense of accomplishment. While moving tables he had come to the table at the far right corner by the window. At first he hadn’t even realized it, scrubbing against a particularly stubborn stain when he caught sight of his name.

His name embedded in the wood, a dull white against the warm mahogany. The letters of his name ending with ragged edges
and clustered together .


Then it hits him.

The strength of it surprises him and threatens to knock him out, even after all these years.
 
The warm toned table, uniforms and laughter and heartache. The place and the person. He looks at the seat where he had once sat and then his gaze shifts towards the opposite end and down to his name and he stops.

His heart stutters in his chest and he swallows.  

The sunlight filters through the window and the name shines. He stares due to lack of an alternative; he just stands and stares unbelievingly. 
He loses track of time until a customer jostles his shoulder asking him whether the table is reserved.
 
He looks at the customer and his mind screams yes.  

Yes it is reserved  
Yes, he reserved it for me.
Yes you can’t sit here
 because he etched my name into it. 
Yes my heart is marred and splayed on the surface of it can’t you see it?  

Instead he shakes his head and moves away.  

That night when he goes back to his flat he stands at the doorway and surveys the space. Although it’s been years since he had moved in, there is a huge cluster of things and unpacked stuff piling up against the walls. He should’ve felt embarrassed at the state of his apartment. He hadn’t. 

That night he realised how his flat looked to an outsider. A temporary spot bearing more resemblance to a refugee centre rather than a home. Not a home. Never that. 


His house was a mess
 


Guk was a man of cleanliness. He had a job attributing to that.  


He goes to work everyday and each morning stands at the table looking at his name in the wood, the corner of the table digging at his hip reminding him, rooting him.
Sometimes when he’s feeling brave he reaches out and traces the scar with his fingertips.
 


Kim pil hyeun visits the shop sometimes, the animosity and bitterness long forgotten. However, over time the frequency of his visits increases and guk understands why on a chilly afternoon when he finds pil hyeun and Hyemi by the backdoor locked in embrace and lost in each other.

A wild panic takes root in him at the scene. A craving so intense it leaves him breathless, the emotions creating a crater in his chest. He turns away then, before his mind spirals down the train of scenarios and what ifs.  


That night he goes back to an empty house  and finds a buried pack of cigarettes under his pile of things. He sits on the window ledge and puts the lighted stick between his lips. Not sucking just resting against the corner of his mouth. The frigid evening air forces him to curl his fingers under his sleeves. The weight of the burning stick rests gently on the tiny scar at the edges of his mouth. On other days he’s strong enough to resist temptation of thoughts and desires and longings.

Tonight however, he feels vulnerable. The iron rods surrounding his heart feel rusted and worn. He lifts his finger to touch the stick but instead finds himself pulling at the scar and is transported back to another night quite similar to this one.  
Clenching his fingers in his sleeves he is reminded of the softness of another material held firmly and a rhythmic heartbeat beneath his palms.  



Guk wasn’t a very expressive individual. He didn’t have a lot of needs or materialistic desires. Come to think of it he didn’t have any desires. Period .

The good conditioning if started early does that to you. He prided himself on being a man of simple things with minimal requirements.

He took comfort in being unacknowledged, a permanent shadow etched in the wall completely unnoticed. People tend to not expect things from beings they don’t bother with. It was a relief.  

Moreover, in his line of work he didn’t really have a choice. He was dispensable and he had come to terms with that. Sometimes he wishes it stayed like that, his role and importance inessential and replaceable. It would’ve been easier to move on, easier to forget. Somehow he had created a safe space in the dreary and uninteresting lifestyle but it didn’t last long.  

Tae joo was a constant presence since the beginning, consistent and unavoidable. Guk doesn’t remember when he turned from a chore to a responsibility, from a tedious task to a craving, anticipation , the best part of a day.

He doesn’t remember the change but he remembers the increasing intensity and the urgency with which tae joo started demolishing his carefully crafted interior and began
remolding it. He remembers tae joo collecting the darkened embers and constructing it with blazing fire between his fingers. He remembers how he shone from inside out with only one look, one touch, and a sigh.

 

Tae joo was a n irresistible flame and guk  was  h is work of art.


Tae joo was an all-encompassing force and he could still feel him even in his absence. The name echoed inside of him raising his heartstrings and bringing him to life.  


The stars could burn in the sky and splash across the galaxies, yet would lessen in comparison to a single smile, a whisper.

His eyes held the secrets of the universe, of places unknown. He was a siren in the sea , luring and captivating . His skin was liquid gold and guk; well he was a hopeless addict.  

Guk could steal an entire Milky Way and all the riches in the world but it would never be enough.  


Tae joo saw him.

Tae joo ignited him.

There was less of him and more of tae joo in him.  


There was no one like him and there would never be.

 

I t wasn’t like he didn’t think of maintaining contact or didn’t try to establish one. In fact the very next morning had him ru nning to the booth and dialing a number that no longer existed . He had inconspicuously asked around but the results were fruitless. He had held on tho ugh, firmly and unrelenting, counting the days towards the end of one year and the beginnings of another.

However as time passed he started slipping, the startling reality began pricking uncomfortably.

The room between what was and what he wanted it to be began expanding, the uncertainty threatening and ripping. His hopes and wishes began getting caught on the frayed edges of the present. The realization started setting in towards the end of the second year, no matter how hard he fought it. The realization making home, the lack of contact a catalyst.

Now when he looks back at the year that passed he wonders how he hadn’t seen it before? He wonders how he was stupid enough to believe like a lovesick fool? He wonders how he survived the revelation. Miraculously he had.  

People spoke extensively about healing and moving on. People spoke about how life didn’t end because of heartbreak. Every protagonist in tae joo’s favorite dramas pledged forever to their love interest.

It was all garbage.

Completely and utterly trash.  

It was true that his world hadn’t ended; he was still breathing and moving.

His purpose had ended; his passion, his desire, his goals and everything else had ended.  People did move on and they found other people and they lived and eventually found happiness. Guk couldn’t.

Tae joo was stitched into his skin and flowing through his veins, absolutely indistinguishable.

There wouldn’t be anyone like him even if guk looked but guk didn’t want to look.

His love and feelings for tae joo were so enormous and magnificent that there was place for nothing else.

Sometimes he felt his insides were drowning. The love and ache growing each day; on those days his chest felt a little smaller.

Its not like guk hadn’t torn himself apart thinking of all the possible reasons why tae joo hadn’t returned. He had spent sleepless night after night hurting and imagining tae joo strolling the streets of England with another girl or worse another man. The thoughts plagued him day after day tugging and splitting.

Guk had waited. Not for days or weeks or months but for years. He had waited, bearing the gnawing in his heart and desperately praying for another chance, another moment. Each day he had woken up to an answered prayer and no signs of him. 
He had waited and waited and waited but tae joo didn’t return. 

He wasn’t coming back. 

Until

He did.

Chapter Text

Some nights he lies at the cusp of dreams and reality, his present and past mingling and becoming inseparable. On those nights his rigid thoughts and inhibitions dissolve into waves and float untethered. The world becomes more merciful then, his mind less piercing and running wild with imagination.

 

Sometimes even a single sentence or a tiny memory would threaten to do him in. Sometimes the words, the promises and the touches were all he could think about.

Laying in the darkness, his mind warped with barbed wire of memories, he imagines tae joo coming home. He imagines tae joo’s arms around him, his scent, and his warmth. He paints tae joo with broken and peeling bristles of his heart, slowly and painstakingly.  He creates a picture of tae joo’s muscle and strength, the heated skin underneath his fingers. His whole body tingling with desperation and yearning for having tae joo’s body pressed to his, key in the lock.

 

He imagines the relief seeping into his pores when his gaze would first fall on him.  He wonders what he would do, what he would say. The thought terrifies him, his soul trembles because

what would he do?

 

Would he run to tae joo and collect him in his arms while simultaneously fixing his broken pieces?

 

Would he whisper the confessions of love and a million other things he has reserved in tae joo’s ears?

 

Would he cry?

 

Would he laugh?

 

He had no idea.

 

He regrets not having an idea though because what he does is absolutely intolerable.

 

What he does splinters and destroys what small part of him remained.

 

 

 

The night tae joo left was frigid and bitter, the cold ripping and burning. Somehow Guk hadn’t felt any of it.

 

Tae joo had lain in his arms, his face a breath away, and his eyes were molten orbs. They hadn’t said a lot but their eyes and hands conveyed everything that needed to be said.

 

It was enough. 

 

The darkness was heavy and bare, a depiction from a poem, breathtaking and dense. However, the moment, the space between their bodies was lit and blazing. The space bewitching and guk was pathetically attracted. It wasn’t like he had forgotten tae joo was leaving, but the expanse of the moment was so heavy and intensive that he still carries it with him.

Tae joo had complained of being denied a kiss. A kiss. Gosh, if he only knew.

The words were palpable, vibrating like strung guitar chords. In that instant he wanted nothing more than to oblige tae joo, to take what he wanted. He had wanted to press his lips and his mouth and his hands to every part of tae joo and never leave

 

That night tae joo had promised guk that he would return and guk had taken and memorised it like gospel. Tae joo had pledged his happiness to guk and guk was still tethered to that vow like a ship to harbour.

 

Dwindling but still attached.

 

The thing is once the anger and bitterness of being deprived and of being left alone subsided, guk was pathetically becoming comfortable with the sorrow.  He was getting used to finding tae joo in everything and feeling a stab of pain at the reminder. There would always be tae joo in everything he did and he was okay with that. He knew that he was broken now, beyond repair and recognition. He was irreparable now because all that was required to mend him, to fix him was taken away.

 

So he was sort of…in pain and fine.

 

That is why he supposes why he wasn’t prepared for what greets him at work, more like who greets him at work

 

It is just another morning of cleaning and washing. He had gathered all the strength and enthusiasm he possibly could and tried to wash the dreary and depressing thoughts down the drain of his shower. Yet by the time he reached the shop, every step felt heavy, his hands like boulders. 

 

Weekdays are slow and there aren’t a lot of customers. The lack of customers may also be due to the increasing cold but guks not complaining. He likes the quietness and the space to move, makes him breathe a little easier.

 

So when the morning graduates to afternoon with no customers, the sudden ringing of bell alerts them all. Hyemi reaches the door first welcoming them, probably already handing out the menus and talking their ears off describing their bestsellers and chefs favorites and all that.

Guk smiles a little at that, the familiarity predictable and comforting He’s wringing the washcloth under the tap and watching the murky water swirl in the sink, when hyemi calls for him. It is unusual because they don’t call for him often and he had already wiped and cleaned everything on arrival. The washcloth still clutched in hand he peers out to the front of the shop and—

 

And—

 

the ground cracks beneath his feet.

 

There were no customers since morning.

 

There are still no customers.

 

The person standing in the doorway is not a customer.

 

He isn’t just a person either

 

Because he is tae joo.

 

Tae joo is standing just outside the doorway on the tiny step under the cold sunlight. Tae joo is leaning against the doorpost to the shop and looking absolutely striking. Tae joo looking just as handsome as he always did, wearing smart trousers and button up under his expensive looking wool coat is standing few meters away from him. He is sure he has stopped breathing by now. His hair is shorter and his jaw is sharper and his eyes are flowing like honey under the glinting sun.

 

Guk feels dizzy. Maybe it’s a hallucination. Maybe he has reached the edge of the circle and he has gone completely mad.

 

 He wants to throw up. He wants it to stop hurting.

In another universe, where guk is brave and strong hearted, he would’ve taken two large steps and pulled tae joo away from the sunlight, into the shadows and into his arms. He would’ve tucked his face against his neck and filled his lungs with his warm scent.

Guk is not brave anymore. Years of heartbreak has reshaped him into a mindless wreck. He should be elated he knows, happy beyond measure. He should be soaring and bursting with joy but he doesn’t.

He can’t.


 Bitterness and shame creeps into him, slowly at first and then so rapidly that his mind spins.

 

It sinks in to him, the harsh truth, the reality. Anger sets into him like a disease, eating him from inside. The resentment and grudges he thought he was through with, crawl back into him digging their claws.

The soreness of being left, abandoned and isolated takes root in him with renewed vigour. The emotions returning with astonishing clarity, eerily similar to the initial days after tae joo’s departure.

 There’s a storm of questions arising in him which he wants to hurl at tae joo’s beautiful ethereal face. He wants to stab tae joo with every word and memory and tear.

Where were you?

Why didn’t you come sooner?

Did you know I was waiting for you?

Did you wait for me?

Can you see how you destroyed me?

 

 The cloth slips from his fingers and splashes on the floor with a wet sound, lying close to the tattered remains of his heart.

 

 

Tae joo.

 

There’s someone talking in the background. There are other noises also. They are all combining in his head, curdling.

 

Tae joo.

 

Tae joo is here. In front of him; Unsmiling and barely breathing. Tae joo is here and he looks equally as shocked and terrified as guk feels.

 

Good.

 

His throat feels raw and clogged. There is silence falling heavy and terrible like sleet. He knows the others are looking at them, waiting and anticipating in the charged atmosphere. He can’t look at them because he doesn’t want to.

 

His eyes are locked and unmoving just like the boy’s in front of him.


Boy? oh gosh no, a man.

A beautiful man.

His feels his skin peeling and lead replacing the blood in his veins. If he doesn’t say anything now he is surely going to disintegrate right here on the floor. A tragedy.

 

His name. guk should start with his name or maybe a greeting?

He settles with his name. However the fucking rocks of feelings now building in his throat and chest wont allow him to.

He feels like crying. Maybe he’s already crying.

 

He begins to clear his throat but tae joo beats him to it.

 

“guk”

 

A whisper, a prayer. His voice, scratchy and rugged like it had been clawed over by  a wild animal, yet gentle and warm and right here.

 

Before guk even consciously realises what he’s doing he’s opening his mouth and speaking. The words don’t register or stick or make sense.

He just wants to sit down. Maybe run.

 

“What are you doing here?” he doesn’t know how he manages to form the words.

Tae joo’s face splits and creases and the uncertainty begins to settle and guk doesn’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing because he’s lost all his brain power in playing the loop of he’s here he’s here he’s here 

The dormant anger bubbles in him now like boiling lava, barely under control.

All these years he’d spent suppressing it and he doesn’t have the strength to anymore. It comes unbidden to him just like love for tae joo, effortless and undemanding.

Because he still loves him so fucking much. Amidst  all the rage and anger the love is still there, lighting his darkest parts.

 

If guk thought he was holding himself together and there was still something intact inside of him, it splits apart into a several million pieces.

The restrained fury within terrifying even him because he’s not made to be angry at tae joo. Anger and tae joo cannot go together in guk’s brain.
It’s against his whole makeup. Perhaps that was a fundamental defect in him, a faulty part of him that didn’t know how to be angry at tae joo, how to dislike him, how to despise him . Which is why he cannot comprehend the way he’s feeling right now, violent and so so strange.

 

For all the scenarios he had dreamed off and for all the hopes and desires he had stocked up, nothing prepares him for this. Whenever he had dreamed and prayed of a reunion, there was always an expectation of love and hurt and embraces.

 This altered actuality, this strangeness, surprises him. This unexpected uncertainty spiralling like a furious tornado and demolishing everything in its wake. 

 

Tae joo speaks again and he feels unsteady on his feet. The cloth squelches under his shoes and his chest under the sadness and agony.

 

“Hi gook-ah”

 

Guk is a weak man.He is barely holding it together. It hurts to look at tae joo. Who is moving closer and into the shop?

 

He clenches fingers against a wall of anguish. He would’ve shut his eyes if only his body cooperated with his brain.

“I- I h-have to work.. this is my work” he croaks out, stuttering all the way through, desperately fighting against an overpowering wave of tears.

 

Tae joo stops moving and guk stops breathing.

 

He swallows and then does it again. He parts his lips and prays that he holds on for a little while longer just like he had for years. This should be nothing.

 

This is everything.

 

“It’s fine. You can take the day off gook-ah. It’s fine” hyemi’s interferes even before he’s finished speaking, reassuringly and hesitantly. So fucking hesitantly. He glances towards her. She looks so hopeful and so terrified that it makes him want to punch something.

 

However, tae joo beats him to a reply once again. Damn fucking it.

 

“It’s fine. I-I’ll wait” and he just wants tae joo to stop sounding so nervous and hopeful. He wants tae joo to stop speaking altogether because his sanity feels terribly fragile at the moment, teetering on the brink of madness and he just can’t.

 

He chances one more glance at the handsome man in front of him and—

oh my god his eyes. His godamn fucking eyes.

Guk always had a thing for tae joo’s eyes. They were always so compassionate and so expressive. You could get lost in those eyes and find yourself. He could write a million ballads and poems and novels about them and yet he would be nowhere close to revealing the actual mystery and depth behind those eyes.

 There are crinkles at the corners and tiny lines that he had wanted to trace with his tongue, which  are deepened now, gaining permanency. His focus shifts back on his eyes and they are so gorgeous and dangerous that a shiver runs down his arms. If he thought they were molten orbs before, they were supernovas now. If he thought they were soothing waters before, they were whirlpools now.

His eyes are so fucking pretty and bottomless and guk just wants to crash in them and never resurface.

 

He can’t look away and he can’t look at him.

 

“I should go”

 

“I’ll wait”

 

The words spoken together and the fucking irony behind each would’ve been hilarious if he weren’t combating against this destructive storm of feelings .

 

He wants to scream and howl and yell and ask tae joo to get the fuck out of the shop and his life and  let him wallow in the self deprecating mess he’s created.

He doesn’t

With shaky limbs and an unsteady heart he manages a weak nod and walks back the steps he came. Clutching at the lingering bits of his shattered and defeated self in his trembling fingers.

 

Chapter Text

There was a clock ticking somewhere in the background, guk was aware of it just like he was of his irregular but persistent heartbeat, pounding against his too brittle bones. Hyemi’s checked on him thrice now and every time guk had to clench his jaw extremely hard to prevent from snapping at her.

 

Ever since his escape to the kitchen, he’s been rooted near the sink, immobile and rigid, staring at absolutely nothing and everything. The setting sun is streaming through the flowery curtains and lighting his broken shards with its dying light.


Guk just stands and stares.

Just like with most things in his life, there’s an ongoing war within him, between what is right and what he feels. All the uncertainties and consequences seize him from inside. The hope and possibilities that had risen looking at tae joo now sinks to the bottom of his chest. A pleasant breeze rustles the curtains and guk is still standing, staring. He knows he has to go outside sometime today and face him, good or bad; but he just can’t get himself to move.

 

Somehow he can’t seem to shake of the feeling of being detached, floating and unhinged. He had been waiting and dreaming of this day for as long as he can remember and now when it’s finally here he doesn’t know what to do.

 

He doesn’t know how long it’s been, few minutes, an hour, an eternity.He wonders if tae joo is still waiting outside or if he’d deemed this whole exercise useless and had left. Saying he feels nervous would be the understatement of the century.

He’s utterly terrified, each breath he takes feels like too much and he thinks he would probably turn to dust before actually making it past the kitchen door. He wants to curse himself for the melancholic poetic thoughts but then again the situation demands it, so instead he basks in it.

 

He clenches his fingers, hands placed on the too cold and wet countertop. His nerves prick like thorns emerging from his skin, bleeding gallons of anxiousness and stress. He takes a deep breath and shuts his eyes tight enough for the spots to bloom behind his eyelids that already feel paper-thin.

 

Forcing himself away from his makeshift mausoleum, he gathers every bit of courage he can muster and starts walking with steps that are too loud and breaths that are too shallow.

 

When he reaches the arch that separates the kitchen and the seating area, his breath catches in his throat and his chest begins to tighten because there is tae joo, still sitting, still waiting.

 

As if guk wasn’t tortured enough by just his presence, the universe twists the knife in further, because tae joo is not sitting on one of the ordinary tables in the shop. He’s not sitting near the door or closer to the kitchen, no.

 

Instead tae joo sits at their table, their fucking table where they sat all those years ago.

 

The edge of the table is jammed to the windowsill, attached. The paint is chipping from the corners and there are fingerprints on the glass. The sun is dipping lower now and creating artistic strokes through its gentle golden rays across tae joos face.

 

Tae joo has always been beautiful, ever since he was little. All those years spent together and one would think guk would’ve gotten used to it.

Wrong.

Looking at tae joo sitting there staring outside the window does unexplainable things to his insides. The light sweeps over the gentle slope of his nose and his eyes glint like honey.

 

He doesn’t remember how he makes it to the table but now that he is standing there he can’t seem to look at tae joo, who is undoubtedly looking up at guk, expectantly. Instead, guk takes a moment to compose himself and gently glides his fingers over the scar etched in the table like he’s done countless times before. It comes naturally to him and he doesn’t even realise he’s doing it.  A sharp intake of breath next to him tells him that tae joo noticed. Aware of being observed he pulls his fingers always and turns to sit opposite him, carefully avoiding knocking into tae joo’s legs.

Its getting dark outside and the lights are being switched on around the shop. He wonders how long they’ll be allowed to sit here occupying one of the tables and should he offer coffe--

 

“Guk” tae joo whispers.

He fucking whispers

and guk’s head snaps towards him so fast it almost gives him a whiplash. He had craved to hear his name out of that mouth. He had hallucinated tae joo calling his name like that in the dark hours of the night when the loneliness enveloped him tightly, suffocating him.

It doesn’t feel real.

 

For years he had wanted to sit like this with tae joo. He had dreamed of going on dates with tae joo; him laughing at guk for being silly and them holding hands and tae joo ordering a dozens of things he wouldn’t eat and them just looking at each other and just being in love.

So much love.

 

The heartbreak and longing washes over him anew and his heart aches with newfound vigour. If only tae joo knew how much power he had over guk. If he only knew how he could destroy guk with just one look.

 

“guk” tae joo says a bit louder this time trying to get his attention and it seems like that’s the only thing he’s capable of saying.

His name.

Like the one etched in the table near his elbow. He glances once more at that and then turns to look at tae joo. guk wasn’t really a man of many words, he has never been. So he starts small.

 

“Hi” he says and it comes out so fucking rusty and so quiet that it makes him want to slap himself. He clenches his  jaw tightly and instead clears his throat only to come up with nothing to say.

He looks outside the window. There are people walking and the birds begin to line up atop the electricity wires and the air rustles the leaves.

It reminds him of a park he often visited with a lake which then reminds him of tae joo like every other fucking thing in his life. 
 
Tae joo.


Who is now sitting in front of him. 

Tae joo who broke his heart and has now come to fix it. 

Tae joo who is sitting silently with something like guilt pressing down on his shoulders making them bend inward. 

The tension grows thicker between them and it’s getting harder to breathe. 

 

Eyes cast downward tae joo is intently focusing on his hands curled around one another placed atop the table close to his chest as though they hold the answers to this godawful situation they are in. His hair is shorter now no longer falling in his eyes. His jaw more defined and his eyes-----

 

Tae joo looks up and notices him staring and before guk can look away tae joo smiles and its like gold and a thousand spotlights and so infectious that guks mouth involuntarily lifts at the corners. He hopes what he offers resembles a smile and not something disgusting.

 

“I missed you” tae joo says and it’s so queit and soft and every word out of tae joo’s gorgeous mouth is so soft, so gentle and so fucking familiar that fresh agony sweeps over his entire being. It hurts.

 

Did you?

 

Why didn’t you fucking come back then?

 

He wants to tell tae joo that he missed him too.
So fucking much that he didn’t want to go on without him. He wants to get up and pull tae joo closer by the collar of his expensive coat. He wants to press his nose to tae joos neck and breath him in until his scent mixes with every molecule of guks body.

 

He looks at his own hands placed on his lap, resting there, clenching and unclenching, sweaty and smelling of soap water. He raises them and places them on the table, mirroring tae joo.

 

He recalls collecting stupid facts, and jiujutsu tricks and video game cheats and making mental lists and so many fucking things he wanted to tell tae joo.

Now they just sit here in awkward silence. It pricks at his heart and he just wants them to not be awkward like this.

 

He begins to consider ending this and walking back home when all of a sudden he feels warmth on his fingers, which begins to turn scalding, spreading through his entire body.

A hand is placed on his clenched fingers and it’s so soft and warm that it breaks every single part of guk.

He looks up to find tae joo still smiling at him but now it seems a little more cautious as though he had heard guk’s thoughts of fleeing.

The contact is unbearable and a fresh flood of tears gather in his throat and he has to look away.

 

Tae joo’s hand stays on his drawing circles around his knuckles soothingly.

 

He clears his throat and swallows.

 He  manages a weak nod  and the lack of words, the fact that he’d failed to reciprocate the sentiment causes tae joos smile to  fall like a stack of cards and the hand stops moving. He doesn’t think he’s capable of normal conversation anymore. He’s gone years keeping all of this close to his chest, and tae joo is peeling him apart strip by strip until he bleeds dry.

 

Tae joo’s eyes are narrowed and his brows bend together. His fingers tighten around guks joined hands and guks breath catches in his throat. He knows tae joo is going to launch into an explanation and state reasons justifying his actions. He still knows tae joo too well. Fuck.

 

“ I know youre mad at me—“ guk doesn’t mean to, he is not cruel but before he can control it, he scoffs at that because there goes another understatement of the century –“ no- really listen to me please” and guk closes his eyes because he thinks he can survive listening to tae joo explain but tae joo pleading to be heard? He doesn’t think he would escape unscathed today.

 

“Please” tae joo says and there’s a weird sort of desperation in his voice and his eyes, that’s guk’s never seen before.

 

Maybe that’s why he allows tae joo to go on or maybe because he can’t take it anymore. At this point he only wants to know if tae joo is going to stay or if he’s going away---

 

And there is a thought.

 

It hurts. It Fucking hurts.

 

There’s silence now and then he hears tae joo inhale a shaky breath and the anticipation kills him.

 

“ I wanted to come back as soon as I left.” Tae joo says so quietly but guk can still make out the bitterness underneath he’s trying hard to hide.

 

“In fact I seriously considered turning back from the airport. Bribe the driver maybe” tae joo chuckles dryly, looking up through his eyelashes.

Usually it would’ve diffused the tension between them but now it’s really hard to penetrate the thick layer of awkwardness. Guk offers him a small smile and tae joo swallows and looks down at their hands.

 

“ Every moment I spent there, every second, was with the thought of coming back home, coming back to you” tae joo is looking directly at him now and the intensity in eyes threatens to burn guk from inside out. His eyes swim with honesty and with such fierceness as though he desperately wants guk to believe him and when has he been able to deny him of anything. 

 

Something burns inside guk. His heart is turning ashy.

 

“You didn’t call or text or bothered to contact me. You didn’t even call once—“ his throat begins clogging up mid sentence and  fuck. Why did he think it was a good idea to have this conversation? He clenches his fingers and tae joo’s fingers jostle a bit but he doesn’t remove his hand.

 

Guk eyes are beginning to prickle with a fresh surge of tears now.

 

“I wanted to. No guk listen to me. Please trust me I wanted to so much. You have no idea. Guk” tae joo pleads with him. The distress in his voice wrecks guk and his head begins to throb with the effort to keep his tears at bay.

Tae joo is leaning forward now and his calf presses against guk legs and guk has to clench his muscles with all his might to prevent dislodging his whole fucking leg.

 

“I wanted to contact you but I couldn’t. I was being monitored. We both were.” Tae joo says and with such ferocity that guk cannot get himself to look away.

 

“I didn’t want any harm to come to you” tae joo whispers and guk almost laughs at the fucking irony because what the actual fuck. He had prevented guk from whatever possible harm could come his way but instead gifted him this heartbreak to last an eternity.

 

“You were gone for three years” guk grits out and the reminder pierces through him because who is going to take responsibility for the nights he had spent lying awake aching and bleeding through the layers of his skin, every fragment of his being throbbing and yearning.

 

He feels like a fool the second the words leave his mouth because why the fuck would he say that? Tae joo already knows that and he doe---

 

“ I know guk. I know” tae joo says thickly and his fingers slip between guks with no resistance and guk is clutching onto the threads of his sanity with everything he’s got. He doesn’t think he can anymore.

 

“You know? You know?” A hysterical laugh escapes his throat and and it comes out like needles. The sound so harsh and bitter that he almost feels bad about it but he’s too far gone now.

“You don’t. You know nothing of what I’ve been through and what I went without—“ and why the fuck did he think he could get through this? How did he think he was capable of managing this  conversation?

 

“So we were being monitored for what, three years? You expect me to believe that? You said you know, do you also know how lonely I’ve been and how lost and how hopeless and just waiting here for you to come home and then slowly losing hope of ever seeing you again? DO YOU KNOW THAT TOO??” He screams all of it out in one breath and it is unfair he knows but he can’t shake off that feeling of resentment and anger.

He’s spent so long and tried so hard to keep it all buried in and he just can’t anymore. He doesn’t want to. He takes a deep breath in. It hurts. He takes another one.
He looks down at his hands and the outline of his fingers are blurring at the edges. The tears are gathering thicker  and faster and he presses his lips tightly together because he’s fucking breaking apart at the seams.

 

“ I’m sorry. Please. You have to trust me. I’m sorry” tae joo begs and there are tears in his eyes and the small preserved of guk that he’s kept closeted and safe falls and crashes within him. He brings his forehead down to rest on their joined hands and swallows. It feels endless, the hollow in his chest and there are fingers running through his hair and drops fall on his scalp and there’s a strong citrusy smell enveloping him and he lets out a small whimper and then

he is sobbing.

The crater contracts in his chest and he doesn’t even know how he had managed to keep all these emotions locked inside for so long. The anger and agony runs through his pores and drains every ounce of his being. All that he can do right now is breathe.

 

 

 

 It’s late and the cold falls around them thickly. Guk looks down at his feet and then at the ones steadily moving beside him.

 

After guk’s breakdown they hadn’t spoken much, just sat there looking at each other, absorbing the others presence. They had sat at the table until closing time and not even hyemi had come to bother them once. Now that guk thinks about it she was surprisingly absent even when the voices got too loud. Tae joo had offered to walk him home and even if he tried he doesn’t think he had the heart to say no. Despite the freezing night, they seem to be in no hurry to reach home. Rather guk’s house. Its not that the thought hasn’t been nibbling at him since the moment they left the restaurant. He had wanted to ask tae joo were he was staying. In a hotel? His father’s house? Maybe –maybe with guk??? He desperately wants to know but he doesn’t think he has the courage to take the answer and the meaning behind it.

 

Their shoulders brush gently against one another and its not long before they reach the bend leading to guk’s house. The bend is highlighted with the only streetlight burning in the distance. Eventually they come to a stop and guk turns around to face tae joo.

 Tae joo, who is now standing at the junction of the two streets looking like a fallen angel, absolutely ethereal. His eyes shine like stars in the dim light and guk feels like that’s the only thing that’s keeping him grounded at the moment. For a moment guk loses himself in tae joo’s eyes because it is so hard not to. Because that’s the only thing he wants to do.

 

Your eyes carry my melody

 

The songs of me you never sang

 

The songs of me no ones ever heard

 

 He looks down at his feet then because he’s scared he might do something stupid like hug him. 

 

“so uh- where—“ he clears his throat “ uh where are you staying then?”

Chapter Text

The neighborhood is surprisingly silent this evening , devoid of its usual noise and ruckus that often runs into the night. It feels as though it senses the important change in guk’s life, notices the eggshells he seems to be walking on since he left the shop that evening.

The lack of noise from outside makes him hyper aware of the sounds in his tiny flat. Maybe that’s why the sound of the shower running seems extremely loud or he thinks it may seem so due to his anxiousness. He hasn’t moved an inch since he deposited himself on the couch in the living room, a nervous wreck. After approving the quiet request for a shower he did not have the energy or the mental capacity to do anything else except fret and try not to combust with tension.

 

There were a lot of things left unsaid between them. There were still things that needed to be discussed. Emotions and wild tempers that needed to be laid to rest. It wasn’t like guk’s anger and uncertainty had evaporated. No, it had just subsided. He wonders if it’s because of the suppressed longing that was far more pressing than his anger and sadness. The craving bypassing and subduing all the other emotions. Rest all blurring in the wake of the presence of his bane of existence. All the these years seeming unimportant now that he has the person in flesh right in front of him. 

 

“so uh- where—“ he clears his throat “ uh where are you staying then?”

 

Tae joo had just smiled at his question, and it was so soft and his eyes were lowered in contemplation but only for a second, the smile never leaving his beautiful face as he looked toward guk, small crinkles lining the edges of his eyes.
 He had walked a couple of steps past guk, the light leaving his face and forming a halo around him. He had turned to look at guk as though they had done this a million times, raising an eyebrow and tilting his jaw wondering why guk wasn’t following him into the  house. The gesture was so small and now that he thinks about it, it wasn't of great importance either but it had done his whole chest in. Guk had just stood there unsure of how to proceed. The uncertainty  wasn’t unnoticed by tae joo because he had sighed and retreated and as the distance decreased between them the hesitancy had  begun to ascend on his face, appearing clearly from his eyebrows collecting together. The previous awkwardness had slowly crawled back. Now standing facing him, he had looked at his hands, fidgeting and pulling at them.

“I mean if you are okay with it. ONLY if you’re okay with it” tae joo had said hesitantly, voice as low as a whisper, seeming even quieter and clearer in the settling night.

 

Tae joo was standing closer now, his face lowered and guk had just helplessly stared at him because tae joo couldn’t be asking to stay at his house could he? It wasn’t like guk hadn’t thought of that option but  the lack of luggage accompanying tae joo had thrown him off. When they had left the shop guk had just assumed, albeit  disappointingly, that tae joo was already planning to stay somewhere else and had just come to meet him and the fear of affirmation of his thoughts had forced him to shut up about it until he didn’t have any other option but to ask.

So the thought or the possibility that tae joo might ask to stay with him doesn’t stick and guk has a difficult time believing the indications. They had lived together for years, not as partners or lovers, no, but as friends. Guk knew tae joo like the back of his hand, until he didnt. Until tae joo left and all guk was left with were their memories and his fantasies. He recalls the times when he would imagine the evolution of their friendship, if their budding relationship was allowed to bloom. He imagined the scenarios in which there were no dominating, homophobic fathers and children bound by duty. He imagined a house blossoming and flourishing with the soul and love of two people. Now standing in front of a house filled with sighs of loneliness and broken edges of memories, he just can’t help but picture the alternative. 

Tae joo in their flat, lounging on the couch eating crisps and laughing loudly at the crappy movie he was watching, tae joo bending over the kitchen counter, totally out of his element but trying to achieve something to eat out of his stubbornness and then eventually calling for guk. Tae joo in the shower, steam collecting and precipitating long after he had left.

Tae joo and him lying in their bed cuddled closer and seeking warmth and love. Tae joo and him making his depressing house into a home, slowly etching themselves in the wood and the walls and floors until it was completely just theirs.

 

“That’s okay if---“

“Yeah. Yeah. Ofcourse”

They had both spoken at the same time.

Again.

They had both chuckled at that mishap and the awkwardness that was beginning to settle had dissipated.

“So shall we?” tae joo had said cockily and god, guk had fucking missed him so much.

“Yeah” guk had muttered, smiling

So here they were, tae joo in the shower and guk stressing about every little thing.

Tae joo had bought nothing with him, which meant that he would need to borrow a couple of things from guk and guk had absolutely no idea what to offer. He had spent a good while in front of his wardrobe deciding what clothing to offer, the cleanest, something that would at least come close to tae joo’s expensive tastes. After extreme contemplation and making a mess of his wardrobe he had settled on a long sleeved soft black shirt and a new pair of blue trousers he had completely forgotten about. After checking the pair of clothes several times for any kind of smell or any flaw he had placed them near the bathroom door and knocked on the door to let tae joo know.

Now he sits on the couch, alternating between wiping his sweaty hands on his thighs and glancing towards the bathroom door. Guk is about to dissolve into a puddle of sweat and anxiety right there on the couch when the door finally clicks open and so does every joint in guk’s body out of their socket.

And his veins run dry.

Tae joo steps out of the shower followed by a gush of steam and

wow 

Looking at tae joo almost drowning in his clothes despite being almost the same size as him fills his chest with so much affection and yearning that it leaves him breathless.

If this were the last sight he would witness before his death, he would die happy.

The sleeves run down past his knuckles, one side of the shirt is tucked in his trouser, the other hanging loose, ending just above his thighs. Guk sends a silent prayer to the heavens for blessing him with the foresight to be seated before tae joo exited the shower looking so damn good and absolutely delicious. He doesn’t think his knees would have handled the sight before him and it would’ve ended in a terrible embarrassment.

His hair still wet falls like a curtain around his face dripping tiny droplets that flow down his neck and collect in the hollow of his collarbone. Guk had had his fair share of fantasies but he’d never thought, the combination of water and spaces in his throat could be so enticing and arousing and in such an intense capacity. The water is staining the collar of his shirt and guk has this strong urge to suck it out of the fabric. There is the smell of his soap in the air, which is warm and so inviting that his mouth waters.

“yaa…” he sighs and fuck. He just wants to touch tae joo so badly that he has to grab onto his thighs tightly to regulate his breathing and just compose himself.

Maybe the stupid sound out of his mouth wasn’t as silent as he’d expected because tae joo looks towards him, stops drying his hair and brings down the towel clutched in his hand. He smiles at him and fuck why did tae joo had to be so fucking hot? Guk swallows with extreme difficulty and his throat feels like he was lost in the dessert for a million years without a drop of relief. He swallows again and stands up and regrets it immediately. He wobbles a little and quickly grabs onto the arm of the couch to steady himself. 

So much for preventing embarrassment. 

He wonders if he’s so helpless just by this one sight he doesn’t know how he’s going to make it through the night. Which reminds him of the fact that tae joo would probably spend the night and

He had one bed

Single

One

His heart starts hammering with renewed strength and he feels light headed.

Fuck.

One bed. Two long lost lovers.

One bed.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. 

Chapter Text

A motorbike is zooming down the street somewhere in the distance. The clock is ticking loudly in a very silent room as two grown men lie on one bed in the dark, staring at the ceiling, or at least that’s what guk’s doing.

 

After tae joo had exited the shower, guk had managed to put together two sandwiches while barely preventing himself from bursting into pieces. He had chosen the far opposite seat from where tae Joo was seated while they ate the sandwiches. However, this move wasn’t unnoticed by tae Joo who looked at him weirdly but didn’t say anything.  Guk had just helplessly torn the edges of the bread in sync with his anxiety, which tore his chest into a million tiny splinters, pricking and aching. 

After the meal, tae Joo had complained of being tired and without a word, guk had made arrangements for both of them, tae joo on the bed and guk on the couch. However, by the time guk returned from his nightly cleanup, the couch was already occupied and two bright but tired eyes looked up at him from under his worn blanket.

 

“uh I made arrangements for you in the room, you can take the bed” guk had said uncertainly.

 

“In all those years we spent together when have I ever let you take the couch while I sleep in the bed?” tae joo had asked half mumbled by the blanket but the message clear in his eyes, and that was the end of all arguments wasn’t it.

 

So now they were here lying in the dark, guk barely breathing and his heart threatening to beat out of his chest. He knew tae Joo wasn’t sleeping either by the way he was constantly fidgeting and sighing.

 

Tae Joo lets out what must be the hundredth, sigh in the past half an hour they’ve been pretending to sleep and turns around to lie on his back, his hands on his sides, the barely-there touch ghosting at guk’s thigh, cinching the material and igniting guk’s insides.

Realizing it was now or never, guk stretches out his hands and places them closer to Tae Joo’s own hands, their pinkies overlapping. If guk was almost dying from them both just being in the bed, he is positively disintegrated by now. It gets hard to breathe but he doesn’t remove his hand.

 

There is a quiet gasp beside him and guk revels in the fact that tae joo, if not as much as him, is similarly affected. The world collapses around him and the weight of his thoughts and desires weighs down on his chest, it constricts.

He thinks maybe this is how poetry is written, the words assembled and extracted from every sigh and whimper, the thought unbidden and baseless, just like most of his thoughts are now.

 

He takes a deep breath and lies still, eye-watering with how wide they are open, viewing and anticipating. Tae Joo turns his head towards him, the pillow dents beneath his head, a gust of warm air washes over guks face, calming him, a slow stir.

 

When he was a teenage boy, just barely, voice breaking and nuances of growth a little overwhelming and a little too visible for his liking he was peer pressured into watching an adult movie he didn’t want to watch. That evening tae Joo had stolen the CD from their classmate’s bag and had coerced guk to stay silent which had extended guk to be his accomplice in a crime he had no part in.

 

That night hidden in the guest room, curtains shut tight despite the darkness of the night; tae Joo had played the CD. Guk still remembers the actors and the pathetic acting and exaggerated sounds. He doesn’t quite remember their faces or the concept story behind the video, but it would take a couple of more lifetimes for him to erase tae Joo’s face from his memory.

 

The red and blue light danced on his delicate enraptured face, his jaw lifted, his lips distanced, his eyes swimming with arousal, tae joo looked like a dream, an untouchable dream that guk didn’t want to wake up from. Guk remembers the burn on his skin from his nails digging too deep to prevent himself from reaching out, crossing the line, finally stepping over the fragile thread strung with tension. He remembers the sudden and fleeting courage that had burst through him, flowing like ecstasy in his veins, the darkness igniting and crashing at his ribs and then tae joo had looked at him, just slightly and then completely and the river of stupid bravery retreated so quickly he was left nauseous.  The rest of it is foggy and the memory line is scanty and jagged but Tae Joo’s face, oh his face, painted with red and blue flashes, a parted sinful mouth and his eyes, fuck his eyes, hooded and begging, it was too much. Tae Joo’s face was art, a masterpiece, guk keeps it close, framed and loved in his mind.

 

Tae Joo is looking at him now like he did all those years ago. A heavy rock slides down guks throat and settles solid and aching in his stomach, a fuel, setting every part it passes through on fire. He closes his eyes, if it’s a dream he doesn’t want to wake up from it. There is a whisper of a touch on his cheeks, fingertips glide across the bridge of his nose, down past his jaw, catching on the stubble, itching and tickling. He opens his eyes and finds an intense pair of eyes staring right back at him, searching and asking, pleading and demanding. His inhibitions slip past him like quicksand and the desire ascends the throne, slowly but powerfully. He moves his fingers to the melody of their breathing over tae Joo’s shoulder, which is rising and falling unsteadily. The dance ends at his neck, the pulse shaking in high-strung vibrato, anticipating and captivated. He places his lips where his fingers were and the chest under him caves in a hitch. He pulls back to look at tae joo then, not asking no, just informing. Tae Joo circles his arms around his neck, caging him in like he needed to be caged, already a prisoner enslaved by a single touch, a look. Guk rises on his arms and looms over tae Joo, towering, encompassing him, wanting to consume but waiting. Tae Joo is staring at him, not saying anything and his breath coming out in shallow gusts.

 

He gently walks his fingertips over from his neck to his ear and rests them there all the while looking at guk and guk loses it, the final straw cracks and breaks in two and he crashes his mouth onto tae joo. He doesn’t wait for tae joo to adjust or get used to it and just takes what he wants because all they did was wait and wait and he doesn’t think he can anymore. Tae Joo opens beautifully under him, so soft and pliant, his mouth unravelling with every breath and whimper. Soon, guk is atop tae Joo, resting between tae Joo’s thighs, pressed from chest to hip. Tae Joo’s hands travel down his back and then quickly back up to tangle in his hair. Guk clutches Tae Joo’s hip and plunges his tongue into tae Joo’s mouth. He feels like his brain has detached from his body and is floating, foggy and intoxicated. He moves his knees and rests them near tae joos’ and rises up straddling him, never separating from him. Guk sits firmly on tae joo’s thighs and tae joo sits up, chasing his mouth, the touch, the yearning, so heady that it makes guk yank at the hair at tae joo’s nape tilting his head back, mouth open in a surprised gasp, eyes blinking staring up at him.

 

It makes him wonder, the time they’ve spent apart, then of the time spent together and not touching and then of the time they did but with hesitance, with fear and now he’s here. They haven’t properly done anything yet, fully clothed, skin concealed beneath layers and here he is losing his mind. Back arched, head resting on guk’s fingers tae joo stares and stares, the lust brims past his eyelashes and guk reaches with his other hand and cautiously slides it beneath his shirt. As soon as his fingers touch the warm skin both of them stop breathing and tae joos arms start trembling from where he is holding his body, at guks submission.

 

“pl-please” tae joo whispers, and its so soft and so hoarse and the onslaught of emotions and desire ricochets inside guk and crashes against his bones, forcing him to close his eyes, hide, breathe, just breathe for a fucking second. With a jerk he pulls away his hands and tae joo falls back on the bed, still looking up but now the hunger is slowly ebbing away being replaced by fear, the terror of insecurity begins covering what was once there. However, guk really couldn’t let that happen now can he?

 

Three years. Three years he had waited for this.

 

In one sweep he discards his shirt and it feels likes he’s just returned from a marathon. Tae joo looks at him and a weird sort of relief settles over his features, guk doesn’t think its humanly possible to want someone this much. He doesn’t know what the future holds for them but right now, in this moment its just them and that’s all he’s ever wanted. He can spend a lifetime reliving this moment, even if they stop here and go to bed, he would be satisfied.

 

He tugs at the end of tae joo’s shirt and he lifts up and takes it off. His mouth waters at the sight before him. Tae joo lies below him, chest heaving, hair fanned out across the pillow, eyes blown wide with lust, hungrily roaming over guks body and his hands reaching out. When cool fingertips touch his stomach and gently glide over to his chest he forgets his name and his back arches, giving over, urging the touch to slide deeper, asking to burrow and reach his soul and stay there.

 

At the back of his mind he feels so stupid and embarrassed because his inexperience must be so prominent to tae joo. His reactions and how he is affected even with the smallest of touches. And then

 

And then tae joo wiggles his hip and the ceiling crashes on guks shoulders. The weight of the emotions overwhelms and he sobs at how ridiculously good it feels. He presses his palms on tae joo chest and bends over to press his mouth to tae joo’s.

 

There develops a rhythm even before he realizes. There are hands in his hair scratching and tangling, indecisive. His face is pressed at tae joo neck, whimpers spilling unbidden, uncontrollable. Nails dig at his back and trace a cruel, unbelievably arousing path to his ribs and rest there. A sob echoes in his ear and he lifts his head and his face is so extremely close to tae joos face that he sees nothing else except two black pools of want and his hips are propelled as though hypnotized with renewed vigor. A punishing pace is set, a race, chasing and withdrawing and pushing till the breaking point. He reaches for tae joo’s fingers, untangling them from his hair and intertwining them with his own.  The fact that they are still wearing pants doesn’t deter the movement at all.

 

The tension gathers in his finger and his chest feels alight with longing and desperation. He breathes into tae joo’s mouth and the hint of tongue at his lips breaks him to pieces. He comes so hard he doesn’t think he would recover from it.

 

When he comes to, he finds himself lying on a warm body, his lower half uncomfortably wet and sticky and mashed to something equally wet and sticky. A hand runs along his back and then gently cards through his hair, patting at it, waiting. He lifts his head up and finds a charming smile directed towards him. The sweetness so attractive that it pulls a smile of his own and he lifts up to lie beside tae joo. Belatedly he feels sorry for tae joo’s thigh and for completely crushing his body under his bulldozer shaped body, but then soft lips brush his and all thoughts fly out the window and his focus brought down only to press of lips on his. He opens his eyes to find tae joo looking at him and hes so lost in the fondness he finds there that he almost misses what he says.

 

“Stop thinking” he says, smiling, the weird sort of joy in those two words beckons guk to press some more kisses to tae joo’s face.

 

“ Uh it wasn’t really uh great but—“ guk stutters and really shouldn’t he have thought through what he wanted to say before opening his mouth? Fuck. The awkwardness drips in like boiling water and he wants to cover himself or run and he’s just about to apologize when tae joo, presses his palm to the side of guk’s face, his fingers finding the comfort of guks ear.  He scoots closer and his lips come to rest on guks chin, just breathing him in.

 

“It was perfect. You are perfect.” He mummers to the skin and nibbles and guk just melts with so much feeling because which fucking dimension has he been thrown in where tae joo cuddles closer to him and whispers sweet nothings in his ears.

 

“Tell me”

 

tae joo stops pressing kisses to his jaw to look up. He smiles. If tae joo wants guk to live a little longer he should stop smiling up at him like he hung the moon and constructed the Eiffel tower brick by brick single-handed. Yup and he should do it just about now.

 

“Tell you what?”

 

“what do you feel for me?” and no guk is not among those sentimental fools, neither is he among the oblivious and ignorant idiots, seeking reassurance. He doesn’t know why he asks that and why now. He really has no clue what he had meant to ask and what he had asked instead. He doesn’t even know what he expects to hear. It comes out heavier than he had intend to and then he realises that the emotions lodged in his throat are now sewing a mesh and the desperation, the need to know rises up, threatening.

 

“tell me” he begs once more, eyes never leaving tae joo’s.

 

maybe the present guk doesn’t know the origin of the things spilling from his lips, but he thinks the guk, left abandoned, a wreck of a man, broken and aching, would’ve liked to know.

 

“I love you” tae joo whispers and moves his mouth to guks where he whispers it again and again till it diffuses through his skin and settles at the fragile corners of his heart. His eyes are filling he knows, they are filling fast, but despite it all he braves a look at tae joo. A question draws across his eyes and creases at the corner of his lips. The tears fall past his eyes and rests on tae joo’s cheeks like dew.

 

“and I never stopped” guk replies, his voice thick with all the things shelved and shackled, with everything he doesn’t have the courage to say.

 

“and I never stopped loving you” he whispers once more and he will for the rest of their lives, every minute of every day if that’s what tae joo wanted. He gathers tae joo in his arms and tightens him against his chest, heart to heart, soul to soul.