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the only heartbreaker

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The day Wonwoo moves in with Mingyu for real is the day he breaks up with Seungcheol. Breaks up with is a disproportionately strong phrase for the weak thing they’ve been carrying along with them for months now, but it is still a breakup, because they were together, thought of themselves as supposed to be together, and now they are not.

Seungcheol doesn’t make it easy. In some sense, Wonwoo is glad, because if he’d thought about it before—not that he’d thought about it before, but if he had—he would rather this, instead of something easier. Even though this—the breakup, the aftermath, the in-between part where they know where they’re headed but no one has officially done anything yet—is only a stepping stone, and they both know it. Because Wonwoo will move in with Mingyu, and he will see Seungcheol less, and then they will each have their own space.

Other groups have dorms that are less crowded. Other idols live in penthouses.

Wonwoo takes it all—the consequences, Mingyu, his gaming equipment out of Seungcheol’s room—but he’s not able to let go. He can’t let go, not when they’re in the same group together, the same unit. He knew it was a bad idea to do anything official from the start, but he’d seen the way Seungcheol and Jeonghan danced around each other, molded together and splintered apart, and he’d known what he hadn’t wanted, so. Here they are. A clean break, except.

Except, “You couldn’t have told me this in person?” Seungcheol says.

Except, “You’re always expecting me to be something I’m not,” Wonwoo says.

Except, “How can I know when you don’t talk to me anymore,” from both of them, and they’re on the same page; they always have been. The same page with no words written on it. The same words but no meaning. Now they’re opposite pages bound together in the same book.

“Are you going to fuck Mingyu tonight?” Seungcheol asks as he helps Wonwoo move his stuff, because he’s always been kind to Wonwoo and he’s always been quick to agitate, and that’s never going to change no matter what Wonwoo says to him.

Wonwoo glares, though, because that was uncalled for. “What do you think?”

Again. “How can I know if you never tell me anything anymore?”

Again, “What do you mean I never tell you anything when you’re right there talking about the group all the time and tell me nothing about yourself?”

Again, “I tell you what I’m thinking; I can’t help it if I think about everyone else so often. What do you want me to do? Change?”

And, “You’re supposed to change for someone you love,” Wonwoo says, and then they both stop, because they’ve arrived at the point where the next step is supposed to happen, where Seungcheol is supposed to say something like But I don’t love you and Wonwoo is supposed to storm off, or where Seungcheol doesn’t say anything, and Wonwoo is supposed to push him until he moves.

They stare at each other over the box containing Wonwoo’s PC. Wonwoo wants to look away. He knows he should keep looking, should put some expression on his face that means he’s longing, or he’s sorry, but he doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know how to feel about this—a breakup that’s not a breakup, a love that was tinted wrong for a few months and has to return to its original hue, like a mislabeling of a product.

Seungcheol has bags under his eyes. Wonwoo is sure he looks just as tired. Mingyu’s stuff is already all moved in. He’s just waiting for Wonwoo. Everyone is just waiting for Wonwoo, who is waiting for Seungcheol.

Seungcheol opens his mouth.

Wonwoo beats him to it. “It’s okay,” he says. “Maybe it’s better this way. At least now we won’t get caught.”

Seungcheol’s expression shutters, and Wonwoo thinks, I did that. The thought leaves an acrid taste in his mouth. He flips over the box flaps aggressively, grabs the tape by his foot and tapes it aggressively, too. Fine. It’s fine. He can handle it. Bandage his emotions and continue on as normal. He’s had scandals before; he’s had shit to deal with. He’s been the bad guy.

Seungcheol doesn’t know what that’s like, not really. He thinks he’s the bad guy for leaving during the Ode to You tour. He’s too good. He doesn’t know shit.

Wonwoo will unpack his PC and with it his emotions, and he’ll barricade himself in his new apartment and ignore Mingyu’s earnest pleas to let him make him soup or whatever, and he’ll take himself apart. And then he will be fine. And Seungcheol will be fine, because he won’t have to deal with Wonwoo dragging him along.

We’re not together anymore, he imagines Seungcheol saying, and finds that he wants there to be more, something more substantive, greedy even in this. He tapes up the box and pushes it out of the room. “We’re officially over,” he says, and breaks up with Seungcheol. He broke up with me, Seungcheol can say, and at least Wonwoo’s name will be in his mouth.