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The Teahouse Of My Memories

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Sunoo lingered in the depths of the shop surrounded by the clouds of incense. Colours and colours of intricate patterns decorated his little workplace, moons on suns and suns on stars. Fragile paper mache elephants and handmade earrings. His shop had everything and it was his greatest source of comfort. He loved the way teenagers flocked to beg him for employment or the way middle aged mothers rummaged around the tile section, complimenting the fine art.

It was his mother’s art after all. Exquisite designs inspired by his mother’s annual holiday trips to South Asia. His darling mother died, leaving him and his father to hold up her name. Sunoo missed the years of closing times where his parents would turn the lights down and dance up in the little apartment they had upstairs. Life was good back then.

The best part was the little tea house they owned. A fair rival with the café next door with customers flooding to both. Sunoo took time with his tea. Remembering how his mother used to brew the leaves so delicately and beautifully, creating the most fragrant aromas. Tea took time and patience to make, and the best cups had all the flavour. From milk tea to herbal, you name it. It was their speciality.

Tea time was a chance to slow down, pull back and appreciate one’s surroundings. Yet, sometimes life runs away a little too quickly, leaving behind that bitter taste on your tongue.

 

“Sunoo-ah did the new batch of material come?” His father yelled from the store room. Sunoo pushed his way through the beaded blinds, dodging the boxes of patched bucket hats which were freshly made and eager to be sold. He came across his father crouching down in the far corner, forehead wrinkled in confusion.

“I swear I put them somewhere…Did I order any?”

Sunoo glanced around the store, trying to catch sight of the fabric box. He almost laughed when he saw the very box situated right behind his father. Lifting the box, he nudged his father in an attempt to grab his attention. His father gasped with delight on seeing the box, raising it above his head like a trophy. His father used to be a tailor, a young man who his mother fell in love with at the grand age of 18. Their love story was terribly cliché, but simply going down the Friday night drunk trips through memory lane was something Sunoo kept quite close to his heart.

“I need you to go to the café next door, we have the new supply of coffee beans that they asked for.”

Sunoo nodded walking back out of the store room into the cloudy shop. He trudged upstairs, paying mind to the wood which was slightly rotting, carefully avoiding bumping into the stone statues which were dotted around on the staircase for show.

Their apartment was a small one. A single kitchen come diner, with a living room attached to it. There were only two bedrooms. His parents’ and his own. Sunoo absolutely loved the way his room was decorated, as it reminded him of the shop down below.

He quickly grabbed his bag, dashing out of the shop to the café next door. The café was unusually quiet for a Saturday, with only a couple in the corner chatting loudly.
He spotted the two store owners canoodling behind the counter, unaware of his presence. He cleared his throat, disrupting the couple’s sickening display of love.

 

“Jesus fucking Christ Sunoo, you scared the shit out of me!” The brown haired man squealed, practically jumping into the arms of his boyfriend.

 

“Did you not hear the damn bell Jake? Or were you too distracted making out with Heeseung Hyung?”

 

A laugh echoed from the corner as the guy he was with, tried not to laugh.

 

“Shut up Jay! Don’t act like you weren’t doing the same thing with Sunghoon!”

 

“My apologies your royal highness of this humble abode, but we are customers?” Jay pointed out, “shouldn’t you be treating us with respect?”

 

“You’ve drunk your coffee now scram, or I’ll call the police!” Jake screeched throwing a accusatory finger at the couple.

 

“Jongseong-ah I think it’s time we sue!” Sunghoon said, gasping in faux horror when Jake stuck up a middle finger.

 

“Settle down Jaeyun, you’ll drop the muffin mix,” Heeseung said.

 

“Yeah yeah muffin schmuffin, do you want your coffee or not?” Sunoo spat, getting tired of the couple’s antics.

 

“Hey Sunoo you still up for tonight?”Jaeyun was grabbing the pots of coffee beans from Sunoo’s ever so exhausted arms.

 

“Why would I pass? It’s a Saturday!”

 

“Count us in too! School work is a bitch!” Sunghoon and Jay commented, showing off their dissertations with expressions of disgust.

“It’s not that hard.” Jake had rolled his eyes dramatically.

“Imagine dropping school for this guy!” Jay scowled, “What are you? Too gay for school?”

“Hey, I’m right here you know!”

“What was that? Thought I heard some irritating whining sounds…” Said Sunghoon, bringing a hand up to cup his ear. Jay let out a loud cackle, followed by Jaeyun’s quiet giggles.

“Let’s be honest guys, I’d drop school for me too!”

“Shove that ego right back up your ass Lee Heeseung. You never actually went into school, you just stayed outside!”

“Less squabbling, more cleaning!” Sunoo sighed in exasperation. It was one thing having a group of bickering mutts, but the added show of Heeseung’s terrifying ego was enough to die on the spot.

“Would you like to help us, our dearest Sunoo?”

“No thank you. I am happy sitting right here!”

Jaeyun groaned, “Fuck you all, I deserve a drink.”

“Which we would get if you’d just hurry up!” Sunghoon piped up. Jake shot him a glare, making the raven haired boy shrink back into his seat.

“Right I’m done. We can get drinks now! None for Hoon of course.” Heeseung laughed in response to that, relishing the sounds of Sunghoon’s disgruntlement. Fucking finally, Sunoo thought to himself. Seeing Jake clean up was like being in a maths class, and he was so glad it was over.

—————

“When you said drinks, I expected a bar?” Jay said kicking the rocks as he dragged Sunghoon along in annoyance. Cheap beers from a convenience store were clearly not on his list.

“What? Do ya really think I’m that rich?”

“Are you implying your business is shit right now?”

“How did you guess?” murmured Heeseung, clutching Jake tightly in a weak attempt to fight the cold. The November wind sent a chill down their spines, turning their noses pink and their fingers numb.

“Wait you’re being serious?”

“It’s getting colder, people are too pussy to come out into the cold,” Jaeyun said “like for fucks sake at least sit inside?”

“Just wait another few months then?” quipped Sunghoon, who earned a slap on the back of his head by Jay.

“This is why you’re unemployed you slacker!”

“Hey I’m telling them the truth future CEO! Anyhow who needs a job when I have you!” The younger boy ended sweetly.

“You’re lucky I love you money whore!”

Park Sunghoon was an aloof boy who had absolutely no filter over the words he said. His mouth ran faster than his brain, not giving a flying fuck about what people thought of him. Sunoo would be forever perplexed at how an introvert like Park Sunghoon, had the confidence to chat shit. Perhaps the ideas of loud introverts were slowly coming true, and the world chose Sunghoon to be their outrageous example. His boyfriend Park Jongseong was the complete opposite. An extroverted being who spoke with care, thinking about how others would view him. Sure he was always in that professional way of socializing with people but it made him likeable. Sunghoon and Jay were like yin and yang. Though Sunoo would never admit this, he thought their romance was quite extraordinary.

“You know what we need?” Heeseung grinned, eyes twinkling with childish mischief.

“Do we want to know?” Sunoo groaned, not wanting to be the butt of Heeseung’s escapades.

Heeseung ignored his statement, and dug into his pocket producing a small plastic bag consisting of a green substance which emitted a very strong smell of-

“Weed!? At your big old age?” Sunghoon gasped, “Lee Heeseung, aren’t you too stone aged to be a drug addict? Wait forget I said that.”

“First of all fuck you and your mam Hoon. Second of all, I don’t think there are any age restrictions in drug addiction!”

He paused

“And finally, I am no addict.”

“That’s such a big lie. Where’d ya get it?” Said Jay, snatching the bag from Heeseung’s clasp - scoffing at the way the older whined at the loss. Heeseung and drugs was not old news to the boys and it had affected them all quite badly in the past. Everyone bar Jake never had the confidence to drag him away from the substance abuse ; it scared them so much. One may think that Heeseung on drugs was a tough cookie to crack, but Heeseung’s simply being without drugs was an even harder one.

 

“I got it from my Aunt’s store room!” The taller stated proudly, pushing his chest up like the fucking loser he was. Jake was going to be livid.

“You stole your aunt’s medicinal weed?” Jake whispered harshly “Are you insane? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You would’ve yelled at me and I would’ve cried!”

“Oh that poor woman. You deserve to weep you dirty thief! To think you would go that low?”

“I didn’t steal I borrowed it!”

Jaeyun’s eyes narrowed threateningly, “when you borrow something you give it back. In this case you shouldn’t have taken it all! Heeseung we talked about this. What happened to no weed?”

“This is getting slightly personal Jaeyun. Last time I promise…” Heeseung whimpered, rubbing his face into his boyfriend’s neck.

“You said that last time too…”Sunoo didn’t miss the slightly forlorn look Jake had on his face. He was probably exhausted from Heeseung’s drug filled activities. He admired the way the boy had gone through hell and back to keep his boyfriend’s sobriety, but it wasn’t called a vicious cycle for nothing.

“Heeseung Hyung. Seriously, this better be the last time…” Jake stopped surprising Heeseung who had stumbled a few steps forward due to the sudden cease in steps. The rest of the boys stayed deadly silent, silently begging them to not argue in the middle of the street.

The thing about Heeseung and Jake’s arguments were that they were not the usual couple’s spat. They were vile and one of the two always ended up sobbing in the end. Sunoo had even asked why Jake couldn’t just leave Heeseung

“There is love in letting go and sometimes there is love in just holding on…” He had said.

Surely being with someone should heal a soul more than hurt it? Jake’s emotions were complex but he always stayed. Did Heeseung really deserve him?

——

 

“Fucking hell, how far away is this store?”

“We’ve only been walking for ten minutes? Are you that tired out Sunoo-ah?” smirked Heeseung. That little bitch.

“Time goes slow when you’re next to a pack of ridiculous hyenas.”

The boys all grumbled to that. Good for them, serves them right for making Sunoo walk for 10 minutes in the stupid cold.

“Riki’s waiting for us at the convenience store by the way,” Jaeyun just had to add. Oh god, not another one.

“Damn, why’d he have to come? Isn’t he a child?” Sunghoon moaned, throwing his arms ups dramatically. Sunoo sniggered when Jongseong rolled his eyes at his lover’s actions.

“You know how he is. Riki and Heeseung come as a pair,” Jake let out a breathe, watching the swirling condensation rile up the atmosphere, “He’s my little boy, I won’t allow you to bully. Also, I thought you liked him?”

“I do! He just loves to give me the smug face whenever I see him because he beat me in Mario kart. Even though it was sheer dumb luck.”

“Sunghoonie, let’s be honest you’re shit. Even I beat you at it,” Jay whispered into the boy’s ears.

“Lower you voice Jongseong or I’m about to get violent.” Yep. Park Sunghoon was quite literally psychotic (but in a good way of course). Without Sunghoon constantly stabbing Jay in the back, the latter would be a literal mess. Sunoo did not want to deal with an emotional Park Jongseong.

———-

 

When they arrived at the front of the store, they could see Riki standing by a bin with his back turned towards an unusual scene.

The store clerk had come outside, and was currently rubbing the back of a purple haired boy who was violently throwing up into a bucket. The boy looked exhausted, with dark circles forming under his wide eyes.

“Come on Riki my darling emtophobic baby, let Hyung get you some of your favourite snacks!” Jaeyun cooed embarrassingly. Heeseung must’ve got it into his head that Riki, him and Jake were a small family. In regular circumstances, Sunoo would’ve cooed along with Jake. However, his sights had been captured by a certain boy.

“Sunoo you’re not coming?” Called Heeseung, who was helping a pale Riki side step like a crab around the poorly boy.

“I’ll be there in a second!” Sunoo rushed forward to the clerk who was helping the boy. It was a young woman by the name of Yuna. The woman looked no older than himself, and had her eyebrows drawn together in worry.

“I’ll take it from here! Don’t worry!”

“Are you sure? His mother is on his way. Good thing he had her in his emergency contacts.”

“Yep yep! It’s fine. This guys looks a little too fucked. I’m good at dealing with those.”
The woman hesitantly stood up, she gave Sunoo a quick bow before stalking back into the shop.

“Are you good?” Sunoo questioned, rubbing the boy’s back. The boy looked up at him. He was a handsome guy, with a sharp jawline and pouty lips. The most interesting feature was the boy’s eyes. Beautiful iodine irises in cat like eyes, framed by well formed brows.

 

The boy looked dazed, almost lost in the world as he sat there holding the bucket. He sat next to Sunoo, turning his head to blankly watch the car park. The street lamps illuminated his purple hair, making a show of the silky softness to it.

 

Sunoo had the sudden urge to stroke it.

 

However, before he had the chance, a car pulled up in front of him. A woman stumbled out, looking quite distressed.

“Jungwon? Where have you been?” The woman yelled, grabbing the boy by the shoulders and shaking him roughly. Jungwon stared at the woman’s face, glassy eyed and lips trembling.

“Don’t you know how worried I’ve been? I’ve been looking for you for hours!” The woman said, tears collecting. Sunoo couldn’t help but feel awkward around the two.

It was then that Jungwon let out a sob. Sobs and more sobs followed in tow, racking up his body. Sunoo felt his heart break when he saw the woman pull her son into a tight embrace, whispering sweet words into the boy’s ears. He froze when the woman looked directly at him, eyes glazed with unshed tears

“Thank you” she mouthed, holding the sobbing boy in her arms.

Sunoo was left alone at the front of the convenience store with the slight feeling of woe poking his insides.

———-

“Can I have some?” Asked Riki, pointing at the cigarette in between Sunghoon’s fingers. Sunoo was horrified to see Sunghoon almost hand it over before being quickly interrupted by Jake.

“As if I’m going to let your 16 year old ass smoke!” Jake exclaimed, “Heeseung knock some sense into the boy!”

Heeseung mumbled something under his breath. He was already out of it and it had only been 20 minutes. In all honesty, Sunoo himself was starting to feel slightly giddy from the fumes of weed. The boys never dared to take drugs in front of Jake, in fear of disappointing the man.

“Why does Sunoo get to smoke? He’s 19!” Whined Riki, slumping forward into his crossed arms in dejection.

“Sunoo’s an adult!”

“An adult in highschool? Don’t act like you didn’t do this highschool?”

“Jake dropped out of highschool remember?” Jay slurred.

“Why do you bring it up like it’s the worst thing in the world?” Jaeyun scoffed.

“It’s scandalous! A physics prodigy dropping his education for a junkie?”

“Heeseung’s clever and he’s trying!”

“He knows a bit of business, so what!” Jay patted his chest. Wasn’t this the guy who was complaining about Heeseung’s ego a second ago? ‘Mbarrassin for him.

“Riki you were shit scared of chunder king back there though!” Sunghoon grinned tauntingly, mimicking the expression Riki had when he was standing near the boy.

“It’s not my fault the cashier asked me to watch over him whilst she got the bucket! It was grim!” Screamed Riki defending his honour with his life. What a silly child.

“It’s vomit Sunghoon. Nobody likes that shit!” says Jongseong roping an arm around his boyfriend’s waist, attacking the man with a kiss on his cheek.

“Oh really? Remember that time when we first had sex and I said I felt really weird?” Sunghoon said a purely innocent expression washed over his features, “This motherfucker got all turned on and started going too fast.”

“Excuse you? I didn’t know you felt like you were going to churn? I thought it was some weird innocent virgin thing to say when they’re about to ejaculate!”

“You’re excused, but you didn’t seem very turned on when you were helping me wash vomit off you!”

“Oh Jay I am appalled… A breeding kink? And now a chunder kink?” Jake exclaimed, multitasking by trying to mop up Riki’s messy face with a tissue and stopping Heeseung from falling off the bench. Sunoo admired the way the older boy always brought out his maternal instincts when it came to Riki. Unfortunately, for Sunoo, it left him with a wave of nostalgia which made his head ache.

“A breeding kink!?” Sunghoon screeched in question, “you never told me about that? Why is our sex life so vanilla?”

“Fucking get over it, you never asked me to go down and over with you?”

Sunghoon smirked (the smirk everyone hated seeing) “Maybe next time I’ll give it a try..”

Sunoo couldn’t help but despise the way Jongseong blushed. Fuck these couples and their sex life.

 

The group quietened down after that, simply appreciating the way the nighttime wind blew all over their faces. It was stupid to come out in the night during the fucking month of November without any fucking coats or anything. However, the boys felt warm. Perhaps it was the ambience of their youth which seemed to warm their bodies up, resistant to the cold. They were still young (even though Heeseung complained about being a hag) and they felt like some of the only people in the world who appreciated their adolescence as years slowly rolled by. Sunoo wonders if that’s why he loved his friends so much.

They reminded him of his mother, a kindred spirit amongst the boring citizens of the world. She lived her existence with a spring in her step. Too bad that died quicker than it came.

Heeseung sighed, looking up at the stars as he did so “It’s going to be a shame without all those coffee beans the teahouse has been getting in.”

“For real, me and Heeseungie Hyung loved them so much. Brought so many good memories,” Jake murmured into the darkness.

“Remember when aunty used to make us that strawberry cake over at the teahouse?” Says Sunghoon, “Ah it was way better than Sunoo’s. I’m really going to miss that.”

“Remember when Riki was young and Heeseung went to whine and groan at Sunoo’s? Embarrassing for him!” Jongseong piped up, laughing it off when Heeseung flipped him off.

“Hey! My cakes are good! Why are you guys talking like you’re not getting the teahouse special anymore?” Sunoo was confused. His friends’ tones were perturbing and it was slightly freaking him out. Jake and Heeseung can still get the coffee if they wanted? Sunghoon can still get the cake he wanted? What on earth were these guys talking about.

“Sunoo isn’t the teahouse closing down?” Heeseung said.

“No? It’s still running for the winter unlike your coffee shop!” Sunoo quipped indignantly.

“Ha ha very funny! That’s not what your dad said when he called me up this morning.”

What?

“What did he tell you…” Sunoo said slowly, confusion moderately turning into anxiety.

Before Heeseung could say anything, Jake stared at him quietly before saying :

“Sunoo your dad said that shop’s closing down for good..”

In that moment, Sunoo’s heart dropped to his stomach.

What?

———

 

“Are you sure you don’t want to come up into the café Sunoo?” Jake asked in concern struggling to carry a half conscious Heeseung. It was sweet of him. Really it was. However, right now all he wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry. Something like this should’ve never happened, yet it did and he so desperately needed answers. At least before he went insane.

He waved a goodbye to Jake, turning a blind eye to the other voices of worry that were coming from behind the brunette. He opened the shop door, slamming it shut with indescribable rage. He took one last look at the teahouse, the shop and the memories. Oh how desperately he wanted to burn the whole place down. It would’ve been a better idea than stealing his heart in the first place.

He stomped up the stairs, still being wary of the carefully carved statues. As he got to his apartment he could see his father, staring at him as if he wanted to say something.

“How could you?” Sunoo slurred with a raised octave. His brain was fucked from drinking so much and he was afraid he might do something impulsively.

 

His father exhaled deeply, looking downcast towards the floor, not even daring looking at his eyes.

“You have no right to take away our happiness. You have no right to throw away everything she dreamed for!” Sunoo bellowed. He was a mess. He could barely stand up straight, and here he was running his mouth like the insensitive fool he was.

 

But it needed to be said…

“Who told you?”

“Jake. Jake fucking told me because you didn’t have the balls to tell me Dad!”

“You think I was happy when I decided to do this? Do you think I don’t care?”

“That’s exactly what I think because I trusted that you loved her!”

His father sighed in exasperation. “Sunoo, there comes a time in life when you simply have to let go. When they told me that a new restaurant wanted to take over the teahouse I couldn’t refuse!”

“For what the money? Oh I thought you were so content with everything we had! Turns out I was wrong!”

“Sunoo please, the woman recently lost her husband, she needed a cheaper part of town to carry on her business!” His father said exasperatedly.

“I lost my mother! You lost your fucking wife and that is all I had to remember her with!” The son screamed, falling onto his knees letting out a cry of desolation. Why couldn’t his father understand? Why did he give it away so quickly.

His father came over to him, helping up the boy. Sunoo wouldn’t stop crying. He cried when his father took him to his room and he cried when his father helped him get dressed into his night clothes.

That night he couldn’t sleep, the tears from his eyes overflowing.

——-

The next morning, Sunoo arose from his slumber with a pounding headache. Whether it was a hangover or the lack of sleep, he did not seem to care. A headache could leave in a jiffy but the heartache he had the entire night would stay for a long time to come.

It was their last day in the teahouse.

He struggled out of bed, bones cracking uncontrollably making him cringe at every snap. A peculiar occurrence for someone who couldn’t stop tossing and turning all night long. He shuffled towards his dresser and was horrified by the state he was in.

He had dark circles under his eyes. Evil purple and black markings underlining his fatigue. His lids were all sore and puffy from the continuous sobbing, and they were coloured a terrifying scarlet. His soft cheeks had streaks of wet patches from tears he had shed the night before and his hair looked like a literal birds nest (which had been dragged through a storm by the looks of it). Sunoo looked rough. Far different from the accustomed pristine appearance he preferred to present himself as.

He walked into kitchen only to see his dad alone making a cup of tea. A new set of tears almost threatened to come out after seeing that sight. Sure he meant everything he said yesterday but he was still guilty.

His father glanced in his direction, a sad smile forming on his face. The guilt only bit into Sunoo a little bit harder.

“Sunny do you want some tea?” It was always like this. Even after all of the arguments they had, his father always offered tea. He always said ‘life was so much better with a cup of tea!’. Sunoo didn’t know whether a mere cup could satisfy him today.

“Why are you being so nice? After all the things I said?” Sunoo whispered, carefully taking the steaming cup from his father’s rough hands. The first sip was always heavenly. The herbal taste of chamomile bursting on his tongue, waking up the sleepy senses in his body.

“Sunoo. I know I couldn’t explain myself very well yesterday. But I can today.”

He paused.

“When your mother died, I was devastated.” He said, voice weak with emotion, “One thing your mother said however made me go on.”

“What did she say?”

 

“She said ‘no matter how beautiful a sunset is, it signifies the end.’

But a sunrise is a hope for a new beginning!”

 

“That’s such a mama thing to say.”

“Yes, but it got me thinking that even after a sunset like her disappeared completely. I need a new one to keep me going.”

“Did you find it?”

“It’s you. It has always been you my son.” Says his father, “I sold this shop, to keep our apartment so you could have a stable home. Sometimes in life you make great sacrifices, but in the end, if it gets you what you need. You will be happy.”

“So you sold the shop so I could be happy but Dad, the shop made me happier!”

“ I couldn’t let you and myself live in the past Sunoo. You may not have noticed, but I see the way you look at the shop sometimes. You look sad.”

“Of course-“

“Sometimes, you just need to let go of things and rely on memories to help you go on. I needed money to pay for rent.” Said his dad.

“I’m not sure I understand?”

“Sometimes the universe gives you things which makes you happy only to realise that you deserve better.” His father let out a shaky breath before continuing, “The teahouse may be going, but when you finally find happiness on your own. You will realise.”

“I still don’t know how long that’ll take though Dad. What if I never will be happy?”

“Your mother wouldn’t want that. The day before she died, she even told me to give up the teahouse. Yet, I too wanted to helplessly grasp onto those memories.”

“Now you want to move on?”

“I do. I need to or I will never live my life the way she wanted me to. It seems she wanted the same for you.”

“Okay…I’ll try. For you and for her. Please don’t forget about her though…” Whimpered Sunoo.

“How can I forget about the woman who made me feel so special? I could never, but I deserve a peace of mind. And so do you my son.” His father finished

Sunoo ran up to his father, hugging him ever so tightly. He didn’t know how long it would take, but for his mother he would try. For now, he had to keep searching, with the barren hole in his heart the teahouse had left so suddenly.

——

Riki was waiting outside the connection of the café and the old teahouse. He wouldn’t tell Sunoo, but he and the rest of the boys had heard the father and son’s argument through the thin walls. It was heartbreaking. So much so Jaeyun had started crying, being comforted by an equally emotional Heeseung. The boys had made so many memories in the teahouse. Years before Riki had even been born. It had become a routine for him to pick up Sunoo, so they could happily chatter on their way to school.

Sunoo was in his last year now, and Riki was terrified the boy was going to leave him. It was a relief to hear that the father son duo had decided to remain in the apartment above. At least some part of his memories would stay along with Sunoo.

Suddenly- disturbing his racing thoughts- he heard a car pull up behind him. With childlike curiosity, he watched a woman and a boy, not too much older than him, step out. To his astonishment, he realised that the boy was the sick lad from last night. Riki paled as memories of the evening flashed through his mind like short films. It was embarrassing to think that his phobia got to the best of him.

He stepped towards the café, trying to avoid any contact with the previously ill boy. In the flurry of his wild anxiety, Riki noticed something familiar. The purple haired boy was wearing the same school uniform as he was.

Without thinking he blurted, “Yo you go to the same school as me?”

The boy and his mother froze, looking back at Riki with interest. Why the fuck did he say that? Didn’t he want to steer clear of chunder king (yes Park Sunghoon teased him to the point the name stuck to him)?

“Look at that Wonnie, you have a new friend!” Friend? Oh fucking hell, that was not what Riki expected, “Do you want to walk to school with him?”

The boy did not make any movement to say yes, slightly whining when his mother pushed him towards Riki. Riki made sure to create a little bit of distance between him and the boy.

“Sure, let’s just wait for Sunoo to come down!” With that sentence, the door of the shop opened to reveal an exhausted looking Sunoo with his school uniform on. He watched as the woman walked towards Sunoo, asking if she could talk to his father. Sunoo tiredly dismissed the woman with that sun like smile and proceeded to walk towards Riki and ‘Wonnie’.

“Morning Sunoo Hyung, you don’t look so good…” stated Riki, patting Sunoo on the shoulders.

“I feel peachy. I assume you heard last night?” Riki nodded to that. Their voices had been so loud last night that he wouldn’t be surprised if the whole damn neighbourhood had heard.

“Anyway, what’s he doing here?” Sunoo asked, nudging his head in the direction of the other boy.

“Oh that’s Wonnie. He’s coming with us to school.”

“Hey. I remember you (surprising considering he drank his body weight) you’re the guy from last night!”

A wave of recognition ran through Winnie’s face. A small smile formed on his face as he said “thank you for helping me.”

“Nah nah it’s fine! Riki was probably useless right? He’s seriously emetophobic that’s why he’s standing a metre away from you!” Sunoo beamed. ‘Thanks a lot Sunoo, thank you so much for exposing me’ Riki thought to himself. He silently hoped Wonnie wouldn’t think bad of him.

“Just shut up Hyung and get into the café!”

“Ooh what do we have today!”

“Jake made milk tea…”

“Milk tea?” Sunoo and Jungwon said together. Riki looked at both of them. Jungwon’s eyes gleamed with excitement, his lips perking up into a toothy grin. Sunoo on the other hand, had a blank expression. Of course he would. Milk tea was the teahouse special, and Jake thought it was a good idea to make some to cheer Sunoo up. Riki couldn’t say anything in fear of pushing Sunoo’s temper button, so he merely grabbed both boys’ arms and dragged them into the café.

The café felt warm as the luxurious smell of chocolate wafted through the air. Riki spotted a sleepy Sunghoon texting in his corner seat and a hardworking Jake behind the counter.

“Jake Hyung where’s Hee Hyung?” Riki asked, confused as why his older brother was not present and at work.

“He’s throwing up and repenting upstairs!” Jake said with a smirk, “looks like the weed got to his tummy in a bad way.”

“Fuck, I’m going far away from there then,” Riki said hurriedly, dashing to the seats farthest away from the set of steps leading to their apartment. It was sad. He couldn’t even take care of the brother he had watched break down miserably due to a fear which was ruthlessly installed into him years ago. Was it perhaps Heeseung’s fault he was like this?

“And who do we have here?” Jake said, placing three milk teas on the table.

“This is Wonnie! He’s our new friend. Wait is this Sunghoon’s?”

“Was Sunghoon’s. That lazy prick ain’t getting one.” Jake shot a glare in Sunghoon’s direction. Sunghoon’s sleepy eyes widened when he saw Wonnie sitting beside Sunoo.

“Hey! Isn’t that Chunder King?” He accused, pointing rudely towards the new comer. Jake whipped out his tablecloth and slapped Sunghoon around the head, causing the three boys to dissolve into a fit of giggles.

“Park Sunghoon you big mouthed dick. Watch what you say to Wonnie!” Seethed Jaeyun, arms crossing like a mother scolding her child. Sunghoon’s daily scoldings by Jake and Heeseung were the funniest sight to see, and it woke up the boys tremendously.

“I’m sorry for ‘chundering’ last night. I was out of it,” Wonnie blushed sheepishly.

“Nah it’s fine by me. It’s the emetophobe you should be apologising to. He was screaming and hollering about it all last night.

“Was not!” Riki screeched defensively.

“Was too! Anyways Wonnie was it? That’s a funny name!”

“Park Sunghoon! That is your final warning. You can’t say much about funny names when you trundle around calling yourself ‘ice prince’!”

“Ice prince?” Jungwon asked curiously.

“Sunghoon’s a figure skating instructor.” Jungwon nodded his head in affirmation.

“By the way, the milk tea is really nice!”

“Hmm thank you darling! Made it for our Sunoo!” Says Jaeyun in glee.

Sunoo sighed, rolling his eyes slightly “you didn’t have to you know…”

“I do know and I wanted too! Now you boys should be off to school now!”

Just as the boys were off to leave, Jake called Riki over.

“You got everything?”

Riki nodded.

“Even your lunch?”

“Yep!”

“Okay. Now I want you to be real nice to Sunoo today. He had a tough night and he’s nearly fucking sleep walking.” Jake whispered, looking over at Sunoo and Jungwon in concern, “I’ll make you a fresh set of cheese twists for after school. Good luck for you test!”

“I will Jake Hyung. Love you!”

Jake kissed him on the forehead, “I love you too. Now hurry before you’re late!”

The three boys waved a goodbye, smiling through the windows.

“You baby them too much you know!” Sunghoon squinted in slight disgust.

“Shut the fuck up Sunghoon. I don’t need to listen to what you have to say unless I have my lawyer!”

“What about Heeseung though? Will he be okay?” Sunghoon was serious this time, his previous light and goofy self withdrew out of concern and fear.

“Heeseung. I’m not sure when he will be okay, but I’m determined to stay with him and help him.” Jaeyun knew he was only rubbing the salt harder over his wounds. Some say he was a catastrophic fool to even love Heeseung after the shit he did to him when he was not himself.

However, addiction was an act of filling an empty void. Jaeyun could see that Heeseung was jamming it full with everything other than the love he deserved. Jake wanted to help the man love himself the same way the he loved him. That’s all he needed. Time and acceptance.

———

Their school day had gone surprisingly well for Jungwon. It was his first day in Seoul - he was glad to be away from it all. He had to admit though, he hadn’t gone to many classes at all. He opted to stay away from the classrooms and intoxicate himself with whatever he could find in his stash. He felt much better.

He clocked it to the boy’s toilets, looking around to see if anyone was nearby. After seeing that the coast was clear, he dropped his bag on the floor and roughly untucked his shirt from the grey trousers. He slowly lifted up the shirt, holding in his breath.

Fuck the bruises were still here. They looked uglier than before. A purple mass spreading across his torso like a dreaded disease. It looked disgusting.

“What’s that?” A familiar voice echoed in the bathroom. A head was popping out from one of the stalls, breathing out what seemed to be cigarette smoke.

Cigarette smoke…

Jungwon felt his body go stiff. He broke out into cold sweat, dropping his shirt from his grasp. He desperately clenched onto the edge of the sink. His breaths ragged and coarse. That awful wave of nausea soared through his stomach, as he gulped down in distress. Eyes nearly popping out of his sockets, he fell to the floor all dizzy.

He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t fucking breathe and the world was spinning too fucking fast for him to focus.

He needed to throw up. He had to get rid of…

He scrambled up from his position, hot tears blinding his vision. Slamming a stall shut, he retched violently into the bowl. The contents of the lunch he enjoyed in the cafeteria, even the sweet milk tea Jake Hyung had made. All into the toilet. He forced it all out, clenching his nose to avoid the smell of cigarettes.

He was wincing fro the pain in his throat, when a kind hand rubbed his back. Soft fingers against his school blazer up to the back of his neck. The cigarette smell dissipated and he no longer needed to force it out of his system.

He flushed the toilet, falling back into the knees of the person behind him. Jungwon couldn’t help but cry as the hard knees caressed his back. He was so done with this bullshit.

“It’s all right. It’s okay,” the gentle voice carried a soft tone. A soothing tone. Something he could get used to.

“Thanks Sunoo Hyung.”

——

Sunoo was puzzled by this new boy who suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He had seen the bruises on Jungwon’s skin and the way the boy reacted when Sunoo had confronted him. He was a bit ashamed at the fact he unknowingly frightened the lad which coincidentally left the latter shaking like a leaf. Sure he was baffled, but he knew his limits. He wouldn’t ask until Wonnie was ready.

Jungwon was an incredibly handsome guy. He was around the same height as Sunoo, maybe even taller. Whatever. The point was, that Jungwon was amazingly attractive.
He looked serene as he wrote down his homework answers. His eyebrows all scrunched up cutely as he listened to Jay’s mentoring and eyes ablaze in determination to finish his homework before the others.

“Riki do your homework.” Jake tutted, as he sat the boy down. Riki was always shit at doing his homework, and he often got furiously told off by Jake every single day for getting parent meeting slips. Even though Jaeyun dropped school to live a life with Heeseung, he still valued eduaction like the swatty nerd he was. So he made it a habitual event to carry out evening study sessions at the café for all his ‘favourite boys’ (minus Heeseung, because Jaeyun couldn’t deal with a mopey Heeseung).

Sunoo had promised himself not to tell anyone about Jungwon’s little dilemma in the toilets, nor will he tell Riki that Jungwon had thrown up the second time in the last two days. It was none of Sunoo’s business.

“Right I believe Sunoo and Wonnie should head home, it’s getting late.”
Heeseung said (sober for once. Jake was in a good mood.), trying to teach a groaning Riki Korean history, “Sunoo make sure Wonnie gets in his house before you get in!”

“I’m 18 Heeseung Hyung-“

“18 schmeihteen, your a kid. Now get lost and come back in the morning,” Heeseung joked before waving goodbye to the two of them.

Clearly something in Heeseung’s tone made Jungwon shiver up in fear, because the boy had already packed up his things and was waiting outside for Sunoo.

 

Sunoo and Jungwon walked slowly towards their respective houses, taking in the cool night air.

“Thank you by the way…” Murmured Jungwon.

Acting as if he didn’t know what the boy was talking about Sunoo says “For what?”.

“For not bringing up the bruises.”

“It’s not my business to bring it up. You can tell me when you’re ready.”

Jungwon smiled, leaving Sunoo in front of his house with a small wave and a sweet goodnight.

Sunoo did not know what effect this boy had on him. He was all fidgety and felt hot. He definitely didn’t know why his heart wanted to reach out for the boy and tug him into a hug. Sunoo was petrified by the fact that he wanted to know more and more about Jungwon.

——
When Sunoo opened the door to the apartment he saw that nearly all of the decor had vanished. The colourful moons and suns, the hanging baskets, their tea counter was barren.

Looked like they removed everything.

He dashed upstairs, unable to bear the sight of the empty shop. So many precious items that Sunoo had kept locked in his memory, had been stolen away from him in just a few hours. It was uncanny and uncomfortable, and it made Sunoo devestated.

Upon entering the kitchen he says “ Dad who’s actually moving into the shop?”

“Oh you know the neighbours? The boy you were friends with?”

“Jungwon?”

“Yes they had moved from Busan in such a hurry. They needed a remote neighbourhood to set up a small diner.”

“So that’s why you have the shop away?”

“Well yes. The mother was desperate on the phone. She was close to tears,” his father sighed, “but you know very well that wasn’t the only reason!”

Sunoo could only nod. He said goodnight to his father, refusing any dinner as he was stuffed from Jake’s food. So he went straight to bed. He didn’t do any homework or anything. He just flopped onto his bed as if his body was made of hard rock.

In his peaceful slumber, his mind drifted off to the past. His mother was on her deathbed, holding Sunoo’s hand and whispering sweet nothings. His mind flashed to his childhood memories in the teahouse, the boys, the tea. He missed it dearly.

Suddenly, an ounce of purple bloomed in the canvas of his dream - like a freshly coloured watercolour painting. Cat eyes and a rosy smile.

Jungwon? What a pleasant surprise…

 

——

That’s how the months went by. They would sit in the café in the morning before being shoved out the door so they could head to school. Then they would come back and enter their lively evening tutoring sessions with Jay and Sunghoon (obviously being treated by Heeseung and Jaeyun’s treats).

The seven boys made fast friends, hanging out on weekends with booze from their ever so loving supplier Heeseung. Sunoo was mildly amused to see that Jungwon had a major interest in weed. Even more noticeably, the younger boy steered far away from any alcohol or cigarettes, as if it was a deadly virus. When asked about this reaction, Jungwon simply replied saying that he wasn’t to fond of the substances.

To Sunoo’s greatest dismay, feelings of affection which were most definitely not friendly, intricately patterned themselves onto his heart. It wasn’t love at least. Not yet. However, he couldn’t help but daydream of pressing his lips against the other boy’s own. It was very unlike Sunoo to keep quiet about his feelings, yet these emotions were so embarrassingly overwhelming to the point he had to keep his mouth glued shut in the presence of Jungwon. In fear his heart would spill over and burn in a way trees ignited in forest fires.

He had no idea if Jungwon felt the same, nor did he want to find out. It would only lead to disappointment, which Sunoo most definitely did not want to experience again.

“The sky is beautiful tonight…don’t ya think?” Jungwon said looking up into the dark abyss which was filled to the brim with twinkling stars.

“I feel the sky is the only thing that keeps me going.”

Jungwon blinked, hands scrunching up in the grass - plucking the green from their hinges of soil.

“Why’s that?”

“I’m not too sure anymore? I just don’t feel the exhilaration I used to feel back then…”

“Maybe the reason why you don’t feel excited about anything in life anymore is that you find it meaningless to commit to what interests you, when you already struggle to get out of bed.”

“What do you mean?”

“Maybe you lost your spark so you treat everything that brings you joy a chore?”

“Like what?”

“Your relationships with the people you love. I seem to notice you’re exhausted just keeping up with them.. As if you have no care.”

“I don’t think that’s the case. I feel like my life is over. But my soul is wandering in this living body just to catch a breath of everyone else’s. It’s tired and old.”

“I believe this chapter is over. Not your whole lifetime. That will go on and on till the end of time.”

“You know Jungwon, you always seem to have your head up in the clouds? Always so philosophical with your views?”

“Maybe I’m an old soul like you? Maybe I’m just high! Yet unlike you, I have a bit of optimism.”

“That surprises me.”

“Really?”

“When I saw you for the first time, you looked so hollow. Not a single glint of hope. What made you change?”

“I found something akin to a pocket of sunshine. Something I could treasure.”

“What’s that then?”

Jungwon didn’t say anything, which only made Sunoo even more eager to know. ‘I want to be the guy that gives you that fleeting happiness. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but I want it so badly my body may burst.’

But as the old going says ‘ I want doesn’t get.’

——

It was a usual summer’s evening and Sunoo was free from school. He no longer had to slave off in high school anymore. After so many months, he had come to terms with the fact that the teahouse was no longer present in his life anymore.

At first, it had left a searing burn, something he had thought would’ve never healed. He somehow felt guilty for letting it go, even though it was apparent that his mother would’ve wanted nothing else.

It was baffling why his mother would encourage to take away that little piece of heaven she had treasured as much as he did. Yet as those long winter months drolled by the weight of guilt slowly lifted off his shoulders. He was beginning to feel okay again.

He meandered through the streets just enjoying the way the nighttime noises set him in to a place of serenity. The city was always beautiful at night with concrete jungles illuminated by tiny glows of windows. Sunoo always liked watching other people’s lives.

It was when he was about to turn the corner, he heard a sharp cry of pain echoing from a nearby alleyway.

His legs ran faster than his mind, hoping to help someone who was in need. However, the sight he saw sent Sunoo into a flurry of panic.

It was Jungwon crying on his own, leaning back onto a garage door. His face was scrunched up in discomfort and there were new bruises forming around his face.

Had he been punched?

“Jungwon what happened? Are you okay?”

“Fuck off will you, I don’t need this right now.” The younger had mustered up all his strength to gather himself up off the floor. The giddy swaying made Sunoo feel sick to his stomach.

 

“Jungwon I beg you, please let me help you!”

“No! Fuck off!” Jungwon screamed in anger as he stalked away from Sunoo. He looked weary and cold, and his lips were beginning to turn blue. Sunoo broke when he heard the pitiful whimpers of Jungwon, all vulnerable and hoarse. This was the third time he had found him in this state.

“Jungwon you’re all hurt!”

“Hyung do you not understand what fuck off means?”

“Jungwon what has gotten into you?”

“Fucking nothing!”

“At least let me take you to a store so we can get you plasters?”

 

“Actually, just take me home.”

“Why? Just talk to me!”

“Take me home.”

“Please why?”

“Because I can’t fucking stand you,” Jungwon slurred.

Sunoo realised that the younger boy was clearly under the influence of something. He didn’t say a word as he simply helped Jungwon up and walked behind him as they made their way home.

Sunoo wished that this incident was the end of it. God he was so wrong.

——

Jaeyun could see that Heeseung was on edge. He was mumbling something under his breath and his composure was extremely disconcerting. Jaeyun knew what was up with him and he perceived that it was the time to give his boyfriend his final warning.

“Heeseung, you’re high in the house. Riki is home.” Jaeyun was used to the same bullshit and he was never going to catch a break if he didn’t put a stop to this.

“I’m not. Riki’s too fucking deaf to the world when he’s playing video games.”

“If he is, why does he act so scared of you whenever you touch him?”

“I don’t fucking know. Do you think I’m psychic or something!”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m not a person Heeseung. He’s your brother and he is terrified of you. That should not happen.”

“How is that my problem?”

“Are you even hearing yourself right now?” He was appalled at the behaviour but not surprised. Whatever the older man had taken had clouded Heeseung’s rational way of thinking to the point he was neglecting the feelings of his own brother.

“What do you want me to do! You can’t expect me to fucking do anything do you?”

“I do. If you don’t then I will. I will leave and I will give him the love he deserves because he is a child and someone in this fucking house has to love him!”

“I was a fucking child too Jaeyun!” Heeseung cried out. He was sweating and his pupils were horrifyingly enlarged. Jaeyun could’ve sworn he had kept whatever shit there was all locked away in a medicine cabinet. Clearly Heeseung had gone to get some more.

 

Jaeyun couldn’t breathe. It was suffocating him.

 

“You’re leaving me? Fine I don’t want you here! All you fucking do is keep me away from feeling a second of peace in this damn world!” Heeseung had raised his voice to him. Jaeyun was tired and his heart had taken too much.

“We will never be good enough for you. Will we?” Jaeyun replied quietly. Heeseung’s angry stance crumbled into shock. In all the times they argued - Jaeyun had never gone to depth with his own emotions.

“No Jaeyun wait that’s not what I meant-“

“How long do I have to wait! You have drained the fucking light out of me!” Jaeyun let out a cry of exasperation, “I don’t even know if you care for us anymore!”

“I do love you! Fuck I’m madly in love with you.”

“Why am I continuously hearing this same phrase again and again, and why is it so fucking hard for me to believe those words. You can’t just throw them out of your mouth and expect me to be okay!” Jaeyun yelled, “Heeseung you are so chained to the past. I beg you to free yourself!”

“Do you think it’s easy? Do you think I’m not fucking try-”

“You are trying! I’m just so tired Heeseung…”

“Why are you making things so difficult?”

The blame game. A tactic of childish manipulation. Jaeyun was set on becoming the winner.

 

“I wish I could apologise to myself for falling in love with you - but I can’t. It would be like apologising for breathing. The breathes I take while loving you are painful and it’s not easy.” And he so desperately wanted the pain to go away.

“I’m a ruined man Jaeyun. Why did I have to ruin something so good?” Heeseung wailed. It was ominously different from the cute wails of retorts that Heeseung did when things didn’t go to his plan. This was a cry of agony and it brutally shattered Jaeyun’s heart.

Jake walked up to Heeseung grabbing him roughly to force the older to look at him. Heeseung looked devastated through the murky mask of his sloshed haze. Jake wanted to reach out and pick up every single broken shard of the man he loved. His boyfriend was a traumatised child crying for help all locked up in an adult’s body and he needed to tuck that child into a peaceful slumber.

“Loving you was like choosing to cross tracks. Even if I knew a train was coming,” Jake breathed out, “You will never ruin me, not when my love for you is stronger than the meaningless words you tend to say when you’re in a state like this.”

“Do I even deserve your love? Even after years of mistreating you guys?”

“You are so used to being mistreated by the man you once looked up to, that anything opposite of what you are used to scares you.”

“I want to be good for you and Riki.” Heeseung choked on the upcoming sob from his throat, “I was searching for myself and I never meant for you guys to lose yourselves in the process too…”

“Lee Heeseung you are not a bad guy. You were hurt. You just need time to heal.” Jake said, gently wiping away the sorrowful cloudburst which was leaking from his hyung’s eyes, “You just need a few good people in this world to accept you and love you the way you deserve.”

It was on that night Jaeyun felt a glimmer of hope sizzling within him. Perhaps the time for change was finally coming? It couldn’t stop the innocent feeling of euphoric joy rushing through him.

——

Jaeyun could see that Heeseung was on edge. This time he was completely sober and willing to try. Yet he was feeling uncomfortable with the frown resting on his boyfriend’s expression.

 

“Jake, Jungwon looks fucking out of it,” Sunoo heard Heeseung whisper into his boyfriend’s ears. His eyes were trained on how Jungwon was staring blankly into the distance, eyes all narrow. Sunoo knew immediately. Jungwon wasn’t angry or upset at all. He was high.

“Fuck it’s been the 10th time this week!” Heeseung exclaimed under his breath, stalking up to Jungwon.

Heeseung grabbed the dazed boy’s chin, forcing him to look up at the older. There was an abstract mixture of emotions on Heeseung’s face. The man was getting frustrated by the way Jungwon was acting and it was seriously starting to scare him and the rest of the boys. He had also noticed how Sunoo had always jumped to his defence whenever the purple haired boy got called out for his attitude to others. It had become such a problem that he had witnessed the other boy screaming at his mother one night as he was cleaning the café. The poor woman was helpless, watching her son fall apart in front of her and the scene was a vile sense of recognition. History just seemed to repeat itself again and again but possessing lives of other people.

His anger resurfaced as he gazed down at the boy’s face. Jungwon’s pupils were blown wide, eyes red and teary. Face was pale in a sickly white shade and all the rosy glamour had disappeared. This guy had taken something else and Heeseung knew exactly what it was. It was like looking into a dirty mirror.

“Give me your fucking bag Jungwon,” Heeseung growled. He was silently grateful for the way Jaeyun came to Riki and Sunoo, to usher them upstairs.

“Let them stay Jaeyun. I have questions.”

Jungwon’s blank expression had transformed into unmistakable animosity. Eyebrows furrowed in a threatening scowl and breath heavy.

“Why should I? It’s not your property.”

“I don’t fucking care if it’s your property. Give me the fucking bag!” Heeseung roared. The café was absolutely silent. Jay and Sunghoon looked scared, and Riki started crying.

“Hyung please stop!” Sunoo cried out, stepping forward to help Jungwon. Jay immediately grabbed the boy, pinning him to the spot. From his peripheral, Heeseung saw how Sunoo’s face crumpled into a crestfallen countenance. However, the older man was focused on Jungwon. He needed that bag.

“No I won’t give you the bag. Who the fuck are you to expect me to give it to you?”

Heeseung decided that he had enough of this game.

“Sunghoon hold him still.”

Sunghoon clambered over towards Jungwon, restraining him into his chair. The boy screeched in horror as Heeseung snatched the bag which was limply hanging on the chair. He shook it fiercely, attentively listening in on the contents of the bag. The indisputable rattle nearly made Heeseung drop the fucking bag.

“Sunghoon don’t you dare let that kid go.” And with that he whipped the bag onto his shoulder and sprinted into the toilets in a hurry hearing the angered screams of Jungwon as he closed the door.

“HEESEUNG YOU FUCKING DICK. I’M GOING TO FUCKING RIP YOU UP. GIVE ME THE FUCKING BAG BACK!”

Heeseung grew deaf to those screams. The screams that reminded him of the same that came out of his mouth all those years ago. He frantically tore into the bag, grabbing all the little bottles and containers he could find. Not a single book was in there. He twisted open each and every container, pouring the contents into the toilet. He furiously flushed again and again and again, until nothing was left.

He had done it.

He sat back onto his heels and let out a sob of frustration.

Jungwon reminded him of himself.

Heeseung and his brother never had an easy childhood. His father was the emotionally abusive sort, and his mother no better. The day they had died in car crash should’ve been an event of celebration. Yet he down spiralled into pits of living hell. He linked up with the wrong sorts, got into shit habits. It was a vicious cycle of pain, and Heeseung felt guilt leaking from his body every single time.

Then came Jaeyun. His sweet precious Jaeyun. An Angel who walked on earth, who decided to walk beside him every step of his journey to become clean.

Addiction was an evil thing. It makes one selfish to see the havoc they have created or care about the people whose lives they have shattered. He had taken everything from the people he had loved. Money, time and patience you name it.

After seeing a reflection of himself through Jungwon, it made him feel uneasy to the core. He needed to change, and he could start now.

Heeseung got up opening the door to see a hysterical Jungwon. Riki had disappeared with Jay upstairs and there was obvious vomit on the floor that Jaeyun was desperately trying to clean up. Sunoo was in the midst of calming Jungwon down and Sunghoon was staring at Heeseung, eyes brimming with fear.

“I fucking hate all of you.” Jungwon seethed ; he pointed at Jake who was crouched down in front of him, “I despise the way you pretend to care about people so blindly. Look at the state of your fucking boyfriend. You’re sick.”

Jungwon then snapped his head around to Sunghoon, “I hate the way you act so fucking careless with what you say. You’re sitting here bending to hell and back listening to what that dick’s saying but you don’t really give a shit about me. You’re just scared of what might happen to you!”

“Heeseung Hyung, you’re so fucking obvious when you look at me. You’re out there throwing my shit away. Feeling good about yourself. You’re just like me. A more hypocritical version of me.”

He slowly turned to Sunoo, tears threatening to fall out of his eyes “You exhaust me Sunoo Hyung. You’re a leech who sucks the living life out of me.”

Sunoo paled. Unable to speak a word.

“Yet… I can’t hate you. No matter how hard I try.”

“Sunghoon take Wonnie upstairs,” Heeseung murmured, eyes not leaving Jaeyun. He waited until Jungwon was out of site before tugging Jaeyun off the floor.

Jake’s eyes were red and puffy.

“Why are you crying darling?”

“I’m getting deja vu and I just can’t help myself from thinking. Have I done something wrong?”

“W-what do you mean by that Jaeyun?” Asked Heeseung.

“Heeseung, sometimes I wish I could turn back time, and I wish I never met you.” Jaeyun whispered into Heeseung’s neck, trying so desperately not to cry, “Then I think to myself that I would’ve fallen in love with you from an ocean’s distance anyway. ”

Heeseung couldn’t stop himself from breaking down. He had caused his loved ones so much pain.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I love you,” he cried, looking into Jaeyun’s soft and tender eyes, “I’ll change. I need to..no..I want to change.”

“I’ll be with you every step of the way.” Jaeyun cried, “In that past moment it was clear that even though we had just met. I always knew it was you I needed.”

Heeseung bent down slightly to kiss his boyfriend.

However long it took, he will do it. He will make sure Jungwon gets through this too.

——

Sunoo left the couple silently walking up the stairs. He found a sleeping Sunghoon and Jay on the couch, too wrapped up in one another to notice his presence. He shuffled to Riki’s room quietly in order to not wake up his hyungs. He opened the bedroom door to see Riki fast asleep in his bed.

Where was Jungwon?

There was only one other room in the house where he could be in. He proceeded to walk to Jake and Heeseung’s room and as he opened the door he saw Jungwon lying down on the bed, staring straight back at him.

“Sunoo Hyung come here..”

“I don’t know if I should-“

“Please…”

Sunoo climbed on to the bed. Feeling a sense of sweet comfort as a hot body pressed against his. Jungwon was exhausted, the effects of whatever he had earlier was slowly wearing off.

“I apologise, for what I said down there.”

“You should apologise to all of us really.”

Jungwon stayed silent.

“Why did you do this Wonnie? What happened to the happy boy from all those months ago?”

“Happy? I’ve never been happy Sunoo,” Jungwon said. The boy’s features were illuminated by the soft orange glow of Heeseung’s lava lamp, making his eyes glisten like pools of tiny stars in a galaxy- just waiting to shoot out. “However, when I’m with you, I start to feel less empty that’s for sure.”

“Please talk to me.”

“Before I do. I want to know why you want to help me so much. Why would you care so much about a me?”

 

Sunoo just wanted Jungwon to love himself. That’s all he desired and he couldn’t take it anymore. So he opened his bitten lips mentioning just one thing:

 

“I love you. That’s why. ”

 

Jungwon sighed

“I used to be happy years ago. My family were content and everything was going good. Then my father lost his job and that’s when things took a dark turn,” he lets out a shakey breath, running his hands through the purple hair, “h-he started beating me and my mother up. He was always drunk and got angry so easily.”

Sunoo kept quiet, leaving the boy to continue his story.

“That’s why I panicked when I saw you smoking. It reminded me of him and I’m so sorry for not telling you. I started doing shit when I was around 15, drove mother crazy,” said Jungwon, “then all of a sudden, my father committed suicide. Guess he couldn’t take it anymore.”

“Oh Jungwon…”

“That happened a few months ago. Wish I was there instead of him, but what cruel son would leave his mother in this world all by herself,” He stammered. Sunoo had seen Jungwon in a vulnerable state way too many times for him to count, but this moment just had to be the most gut wrenching.

Sunoo started to cry. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I was scared to lose you. Sunoo Hyung, I said what I said out of anger. You are truly the realest thing I have ever felt…”

“No you were right. After my mother died, I kept on dragging my dad into the same grief I was experiencing. I forced him to keep our teahouse and was so selfishly angry when I heard he took it away from me.”

“I still love my dad. I really do.”

“How can you? When he hurt you so much?”

“He’s my dad. How can I not?”

Sunoo hummed in understanding. He too could not hate his father for taking away something he carried so close to his heart.

“I’m such an ugly person Sunoo. Bruises all over me, can’t even think for myself without poisoning myself in the process.”

“You can’t change the past Jungwon, but you can change the present and the future.”

“If that one day where that one thing never happened, everything would be so different right now.”

“I would’ve never met you,” Sunoo said. The mere thought of not seeing Jungwon tore him apart. It would’ve been like subconsciously yearning for a presence that wasn’t there. It would be torture for Sunoo.

“I want to be okay soon, but won’t you get sick of me? It’ll take long you know.”

“If Jaeyun Hyung can do it, then my love can power me to do the same. Is it bad that I want to see you as the Jungwon that you used to be?”

“I’ve gone through too much shit to be the Jungwon I used to be. I was younger back then, so weak and naïve. I want you to see me as the Jungwon you deserve to see.”

Jungwon twisted his body to face Sunoo, gazing into his eyes. The lava lamp shadowing a warm orange on his pupils, “This is because I love you too. I love you so much that I want to change.”

“I will be by your side, every step of the way,” Sunoo whispered, quoting Jake’s words. Jungwon smiled.

The taller boy’s gaze flitted down to Sunoo’s lips. Sunoo knew Jungwon wanted him as much he did. He leant forward pressing his lips against the chapped lips of the boy he loved.

There were no romantic sparks, or extravagant fireworks within him.

He felt warm and he hoped Jungwon did too.