[ MOTIF ]
a distinctive and often recurring feature in a composition
The first sign that Sehun received that something was wrong came in the form of the door to his dorm room being unlocked. Even if he was just heading downstairs for a second to do laundry, Sehun always locked the door before leaving. And he was certain he had locked it before heading to his lecture earlier that morning too.
Hesitating briefly, Sehun then pushed the door open. The bedroom was pitch black. He was sure that he had opened the curtains when he got up, but they were presently pulled tightly shut, not allowing a single spot of light into the room.
It was then Sehun noticed, through the darkness, a large lump beneath the covers of Junmyeon’s bed. Ah. That explained it.
Unsure as to whether or not his roommate was sleeping, Sehun closed the door quietly behind himself. It was relieving, knowing Junmyeon had made it home safely, especially after the events from the night before.
Sehun shuffled across the room, kicking his shoes off and dumping his backpack into his desk chair. His voice was hardly above a whisper as he switched on the lamp at his desk. “Junmyeon? You awake?”
From underneath the mounds of blankets, Junmyeon whimpered.
Sehun frowned worriedly as he turned to face Junmyeon’s bed. “Are you still that hungover?”
When Junmyeon didn’t respond, Sehun sighed and crossed their small room to approach him. He took the hem of the blankets into one hand. “At least let me look at you so I know you’re okay. Do you want me to get you some water?”
However, when Sehun pulled back the covers, he froze at the sight of his roommate. Even in the low levels of light, Sehun could see how Junmyeon was curled up into the smallest ball he could manage, one pillow supporting his head. The other was clutched to his chest, small fingers digging into the pillowcase deeply. What bothered him the most was the fact that Junmyeon’s face was drenched from tears.
“Junmyeon?” Sehun asked, not very proud of the way he stuttered. “Hey. Look at me. What’s wrong?”
“Leave me alone,” Junmyeon mumbled, looking like he was about to cry all over again, eyes brimming with newfound tears that matched his already stained cheeks.
“I’ll leave you alone after you tell me what’s wrong,” Sehun pressed, grip tightening on the edge of the blanket. “Are you hurt?”
Junmyeon’s lower lip wobbled dangerously and the tears spilled over with no warning. “I r-ruined everything.”
“Whoa, whoa—“ Sehun started, borderline panicking as Junmyeon broke down sobbing right then and there. “Junmyeon, calm down. You didn’t ‘ruin’ anything.”
“Yes, I did,” Junmyeon nearly wailed, hiding his face in his pillow. “I ruined everything and I can’t fix it.”
Sehun was silent at first, biting down on his lower lip, as if unsure as to whether or not he should speak up. At last, he gathered his courage. “Junmyeon… Don’t panic when I ask you this, but… Did something happen between you and Kris to make you this upset?”
Junmyeon’s face suddenly turned a ghostly shade of white as he peeked at Sehun through his bangs. He was frozen, eyes open wide as tears pooled along the rims.
The look of pure fear in his eyes made Sehun partially regret even asking in the first place.
“Who told you?” Junmyeon asked, voice hoarse and quivering in terror. “Did you tell anyone?”
“No, I haven’t told anyone. No one knows except me. Regardless… Junmyeon… Don’t you remember?” Sehun began with obvious hesitance. “Do you not remember letting me use your phone to call Kris to come pick you up last night?”
Junmyeon, still locked into place upon the mattress, swallowed uncomfortably. That explained why he had woken up in Yifan’s bed.
“I…” Junmyeon started, shame roaring through his blood. His lower lip wobbled dangerously, on the cusp of erupting into a new wave of tears. “I-I can’t remember anything.”
“Hey—Hey, calm down,” Sehun babbled, clearly flustered by the emotional distress Junmyeon was exhibiting. Sehun awkwardly waved his hands in front of himself in a poor attempt of being comforting. “Junmyeon, seriously, it’s okay—“
“It isn’t okay! Don’t you get it? I can’t remember anything from last night,” Junmyeon said, the heartbroken tone of his voice making Sehun’s insides twist. “I don’t remember what happened but apparently I did something stupid and now Yifan is hurt and angry and I—I ruined everything—“
“Junmyeon, you need to calm down,” Sehun interrupted, seeing how Junmyeon was beginning to grow hysterical. As his roommate quieted, Sehun took it as a chance to speak up once more. “We’ll talk about last night in a second. Now what happened with Kris to make you this upset?”
“I don’t remember what happened last night, but Yifan told me last night that I… I-I kissed someone and they took my pants off, but…” Junmyeon’s chin wrinkled as he struggled not to start crying all over again. “He got so mad at me but I don’t remember any of that. I’d never cheat, Sehun, I don’t want to do something like that to him. I really like him; why would I need anyone else when I already have him?”
As Junmyeon rambled, Sehun remained silent, a troubled look in his eyes as he hefted himself up and onto the bed. Junmyeon, still curled up with his pillow, tightened his grip around it as he spilled out his troubles. At last, when Junmyeon calmed, there as a beat of stillness before Junmyeon glanced hesitantly at Sehun.
“I thought you were still mad at me,” Junmyeon said softly, eyes bloodshot. “Why are you listening and wanting to help me?”
“Just because I was angry doesn’t mean you’re not my friend anymore,” Sehun replied, legs dangling over the edge of the bed. “So this is what you were so defensive about… You’re together with Kris? Like… Together-together?”
“Yeah… He’s my boyfriend,” Junmyeon mumbled. “Or… Was. Maybe. He might dump me. I’ve never heard him that angry, and he was angry with me.”
“Have you two been doing this for a while?” Sehun asked softly. “Dating in secret, I mean.”
“Uh-huh. You’re the only person who knows… Aside from one of Yifan’s friends. No one is supposed to know. They can’t know,” Junmyeon muttered. There was guilt in his teary eyes and a sullen expression on his face. “It’s probably weird to you, isn’t it?”
“Somewhat, yes. He’s a professor and you’re a student,” Sehun replied, “but what’s weirder to me is why you’re dating him. What do you even see in him? He has nothing but bad rumors floating around about him and when I talked to him last night he nearly bit my head off. People say he’s an and he definitely acted like one yesterday.”
“He’s more than that. He’s much, so much more than that. I know he seems cold but he really isn’t. It was a lot of work and a lot of passed time to get him to open up to me but I’m glad he did. He’s… He’s actually really sweet. He isn’t what people say he is, you know; granted, he has his moments where he can be a bit ruthless and nasty, but the same goes for everyone else in the world. People get hurt and sometimes say things or act a certain way because of that. But Yifan… He’s so much more than the rumors. He can be flirty and overdramatic and romantic and funny and the sweetest guy I’ve ever met when he wants to be.” Junmyeon’s previously pale face had flushed ever-so-slightly as he spoke. “He may be older than me, but… I click with him so much better than my ex-boyfriends, and Yifan treats me so much better than they ever did. And… And now I might lose him.”
Sehun was mute, slowly absorbing the information Junmyeon fed him as he stared, expressionless, at his feet. “Do you want me to talk to him for you?”
“What?” Junmyeon asked in disbelief. “Why would you…?”
“Junmyeon, I don’t totally understand what you see in him, but if Kris makes you happy, who am I to argue about it?” Sehun asked rhetorically. “And judging by the way you’re freaking out, it’s obvious you two haven’t discussed the actual details of the situation. It’s not like you can remember them anyway. And besides, you probably need help. I only talked to Kris for a few minutes last night and I can tell he’s stubborn as hell.”
“I… I just don’t want him to think I purposefully did things to hurt him. That’s the last thing I’d ever want,” Junmyeon mumbled, glancing at Sehun with hesitant eyes. “How did you figure out what happened last night? Did someone tell you?”
“I was there, Junmyeon. I didn’t see everything, but I saw enough,” Sehun responded. He paused for a second before giving Junmyeon a serious look. “I need to tell you some things. I know you don’t remember. It’s going to be a lot to take in, and I know it’s going to make you very uncomfortable, but you need to know.”
Anxiety flickered to life in Junmyeon’s eyes. “What do you mean?”
“How should I put this…” Sehun murmured to himself, seeming conflicted as he ran his fingers through his bangs. “Okay, um… Well… As I’m sure you know, you were really drunk last night. You met Chanyeol, too. Do you remember that?”
Junmyeon blinked in surprise. “I met Chanyeol? I mean, Jongdae said in the other day he would introduce us at the party, but… No, I don’t remember. Did you meet him too? Was he nice?”
“Far from it. Chanyeol is dangerous, Junmyeon,” Sehun replied, watching Junmyeon’s brow furrow in confusion.
“But he’s friends with Jongdae,” Junmyeon told him, puzzled. “What exactly…?”
“Chanyeol took advantage of you. He used your weaknesses to his advantage. Your alcohol tolerance is low, especially since you’ve never gone out drinking before, and he knew it. Why else would he keep encouraging you to drink even when you were already so wasted you couldn’t stand up?” Sehun asked rhetorically, feeling the anger at the situation swelling in his stomach again. “Chanyeol got you as drunk as he could. He wanted you to drunk and compliant and unable to remember anything.”
Junmyeon’s throat bobbed as he swallowed. “But why? What exactly was he trying to do?”
“He… God, this is so hard.” Sehun clenched his teeth. “Chanyeol… Chanyeol tried to force you to have with him, Junmyeon.”
“What?” Junmyeon spluttered, eyes wide, face pale, heart suddenly hammering. “But—But I—“
“I don’t know what Kris told you, but he wasn’t there. Kris didn’t see what happened and I doubt he knows all the details. Zitao and I saw it. The bastard kept having you drink and had his hands all over you. We both saw him take you upstairs.” Sehun crossed his arms, rage boiling inside of him. “He left the door to his room unlocked. He hadn’t done anything to you when we got there, not—Not like that—But he had gotten your pants off. Zitao and I took care of things and got you out of there.”
Junmyeon’s mind was reeling. “I—I don’t understand, why would he—Yifan said we kissed—What did—I—“
“I didn’t see him kiss you, but I’m sure if he did, you didn’t want it. You didn’t want him near you, Junmyeon. You were telling him to stop when we got inside,” Sehun explained slowly, carefully, watching Junmyeon’s eyes fill up with tears all over again. “Like I said, he didn’t get a chance to do anything like… Like that, to you. I took you outside. He and Zitao got into a big fight and Zitao wound up punching him and then screamed at him and Jongdae for almost an hour while I met up with Kris to take you home.”
Overwhelmed, Junmyeon couldn’t stop himself from erupting into a new wave of tears. He couldn’t remember anything from that night, and now to learn he had almost been forced into such an act… It scared him, it disgusted him, it made him angry and stressed and he couldn’t stop crying.
“It isn’t your fault, Junmyeon,” Sehun told him, his voice gentle as he shuffled closer to his roommate, wrapping Junmyeon up and into his arms. Junmyeon didn’t resist in the slightest, bawling uncontrollably as he buried his face into Sehun’s chest. “You’re okay now. It’s okay.”
The facts were heavy on Junmyeon’s mind. It wasn’t like he could remember and that was what scared him the most. He couldn’t remember what Chanyeol had tried to do to him. What if Sehun and Zitao hadn’t been there or noticed what was happening and hadn’t interfered? He would’ve been in an awful situation and unable to remember a single bit of it. And that thought, more than anything else, made him even more stressed and upset.
He lost track of time. Junmyeon didn’t know how long he stayed there, curled up on the bed crying into Sehun’s chest. He drifted in and out of sleep, his body still heavy and hazy from a hangover. Sehun didn’t move, letting Junmyeon cuddle him, only shifting once to fetch his phone from the depths of his pants pocket when it began to ring.
“Hello?” Sehun drawled, settling back down on the bed and resting his cheek against the top of Junmyeon’s head.
“Where are you? You were supposed to meet me and Jongin for lunch thirty minutes ago,” the voice complained. Sehun immediately realized it was Zitao. “If weren’t gonna show up you could have at least told us!”
“Sorry. I lost track of time. I had to talk to Junmyeon,” Sehun murmured, draping his free arm around Junmyeon a smidge tighter.
“Oh, he’s home now? Did you tell him about…?” Zitao started, and when Sehun grunted in confirmation, Zitao sighed heavily on the other end of the line. “I’m glad he’s okay. I haven’t heard anything from Jongdae, so I doubt he even remembers what happened yesterday. I’ll have to yell at him again, I guess.”
“He was pretty drunk,” Sehun agreed, brow furrowed. “Just don’t throw any more punches.”
“No promises. By the way, speaking of violence, I did some digging. That Chanyeol bastard apparently has his own car on campus,” Zitao commented. “Do you think I could slash a couple of his tires and not get caught? If that’s too much maybe I could draw some on his windshield with permanent marker or something.”
“No and no. I don’t have the money to bail you out of jail,” Sehun replied dryly, ignoring the way Junmyeon glanced at him in confusion.
“Alright, alright. Can’t have any fun around here,” Zitao complained. “Tell you what. Jongin and I will get some stuff to-go and meet you over at Junmyeon’s. We’ll get something for you and something light for Junmyeon too.”
“Sounds good,” Sehun murmured.
“Great. We’ll see you two soon,” Zitao told him. “And be ready to move over when we show up because I wanna cuddle him next.”
Sehun didn’t think that Junmyeon was accustomed to being cooed over and being showered with affection. He had grown oddly shy when Jongin and Zitao came back to the dorm, seeming unable to process that the two had just bought him snacks and were worried over him and both wanted to curl up with him on the tiny mattress. It made Sehun wonder just how much attention Junmyeon had been given in the past, because he was certain that it hadn’t been enough.
The morning’s events were a bit of a blur. Sehun could recall sitting with Jongin and Zitao in the dorm room, all three of them managing to somehow squeeze together on Junmyeon’s bed. They talked – quietly, of course, since Junmyeon still had a headache – and ate lunch. They even convinced Junmyeon to eat something small and gave him a lot of water to keep him hydrated. Junmyeon spent most of the time napping, his small body wedged between them all in an awkward twist of limbs and head lying in Zitao’s lap. It was almost ironic, in some odd way, that Junmyeon was older than all three of them, and yet there they were, taking care of him.
But Sehun didn’t particularly mind. Junmyeon needed their help, and they were happy to give it. And one other form of assistance came in the form of a promise. It was how, later that day, Sehun found himself wandering into the art building, letting the door swing shut behind him. He had told Junmyeon that he would talk to Yifan, and that was what Sehun intended to do. Sure, the professor hadn’t been nice to him last night, but the intended discussion was not about him. It was about Junmyeon. Sehun still did not completely understand, but if Yifan and Junmyeon saw something in one another, he didn’t want to let it fade away.
After all, Sehun wasn’t blind. His roommate had changed lately. Junmyeon didn’t seem as stressed as he used to. He smiled more, even if it was directed to his phone most of the time as he sent out countless text messages. Even his eyes seemed a little brighter. Secretly being with Yifan all this time had helped mold him into something so much more and Sehun did not miss the sad, stressed boy he had used to live with.
Sehun didn’t know where Yifan’s office was. He didn’t know the setup of the art building at all, considering he had never set foot inside it until now. Thankfully he had thought ahead and had looked up Yifan’s office number on the university website before heading over to the building. It took a bit of hunting, but at long last, he found himself standing outside of Yifan’s office.
There was just one problem. The door was open, but there was no one sitting at the desk. The office was deserted.
Sehun frowned, standing there awkwardly in the doorway. It was strange. It was Yifan’s office hours but the man was nowhere to be found. Perhaps he had stepped out for a moment to use the restroom, but it seemed odd for him to leave his office door wide open and unlocked like this.
Sehun stood there for a few minutes, before he, at last, noticed something. He could see something black sticking out from the end of Yifan’s desk. Frowning, Sehun shuffled to one side to try to see what it was. It looked a lot like fabric.
At last, Sehun managed to get a better look, craning his head forward to try to peer around and over the desk. It was a blanket. A fuzzy black blanket, fanned out over the floor. And there, lying on top of it, was Yifan. The man was stretched out, lying on his side so that his back was facing Sehun. Unsure as to what was actually going on, Sehun at last dared himself to let out a cough in attempt of gaining the man’s attention.
It worked. With a grunt, Yifan’s body shifted. The professor rolled over slightly, back straight and rigid as he swiveled around enough to try to see who was standing there in his office. His trademark scowl was in place as always, unmoving as he locked eyes with Sehun. “Oh. It’s you.”
“Good to see you too, I guess,” Sehun replied, moving backwards for a second so that he could close the door. “And it’s Sehun, not ‘you’, but thanks.”
“Close enough.” Yifan just shrugged slightly in response. “What do you want? I’m busy.”
“Doing what, playing dead on your office floor?” Sehun deadpanned.
“Oh, shut up. Hard to do anything when your back hurts this bad,” Yifan grumbled, expression souring a bit further. “Now, again, what do you want? I’m not in the mood to have some kid waste my time.”
Deciding not to argue, Sehun bit his tongue and instead let out a small sigh. “Okay. Look… I need to talk to you about yesterday. About Junmyeon, more specifically.”
Yifan turned his head away, gluing his eyes to the wall instead. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Whether or not you want to, you need to. I told Junmyeon I would talk to you, since you two aren’t talking to each other right now.” Sehun frowned. “Do you realize how hurt he is right now since you jumped down his throat?”
“I’ll jump down his throat if I damn well want to,” Yifan snapped back at him. He had been in a bad mood as it was from back pain and his discussion with Junmyeon earlier that morning, but the conversation at hand was making him even more uptight. “I’m allowed to be angry and I’m allowed to be hurt—“
“I never said you couldn’t be! This isn’t about you anyway! I honestly don’t care how you feel right now. I get it! You’re upset because Junmyeon had a kiss with someone else last night and you think he cheated on you, but you don’t know anything,” Sehun said in exasperation. “Do you really believe that Junmyeon would cheat on you? He was so drunk last night he can’t remember anything. He couldn’t even stand up. You saw him. You were around him. You know how drunk he was. Do you really think Junmyeon had the mental capacity last night to try to cheat on you?”
“Yeokbeom, I – hic – missed you,” Junmyeon slurred, face flushed as rested his chin against Yifan’s shoulder. “I miiissed you~”
“Are you sure you can carry him?” Sehun asked hesitantly, standing outside in the cold. He had left Zitao and the party behind, meeting Yifan a few blocks away so that he could pick the boy up and take him home. He had fed Zitao a lie about one of Junmyeon’s friends coming to get him, and it worked out well enough so far. He had just managed to heave Junmyeon up and onto Yifan’s back, at the professor’s orders. “You look like you’re struggling a bit.”
“I said I can handle it,” Yifan barked. He was still wearing his sleepwear, glasses perched atop of his head. His face was dark with a scowl, not reacting to the way Junmyeon placed a wet and sloppy kiss on his cheek. Junmyeon then started giggling, hiding his face in the crook of Yifan’s neck as he mumbled out a ‘I missed you that much’. “I’ll take care of him.”
“Yeokbeom, where are we going?” Junmyeon mumbled, squeezing his arms tightly around Yifan’s neck, nearly choking him. “Are you gonna help me? My tummy really, reallyyy hurts.”
Yifan stayed quiet.
“Kris… Look. There are a lot of things that happened last night that you aren’t aware of. I know Junmyeon shouldn’t have been left alone. My friend was supposed to keep an eye on him last night, and he didn’t. And like I said, Junmyeon wound up really drunk. But the last thing Junmyeon would ever want, drunk or sober, would be to make you unhappy or try to leave you for someone else,” Sehun explained.
“He kissed another man,” Yifan replied stubbornly. “He has someone else’s fingerprints as bruises on his hipbone. How do you expect me not to come to conclusions?”
“Regardless of what you’re thinking, you’re mistaken. Junmyeon didn’t want to be kissed. Junmyeon didn’t want to be touched. A buddy of mine and I found him with a guy that couldn’t be trusted late that night,” Sehun explained slowly. “And that’s what you don’t understand. That guy is the issue here, not Junmyeon. This isn’t Junmyeon’s fault.”
Yifan paused, eyes dark as he glanced at Sehun. “What do you mean?”
“That guy… He… He tried to take advantage of Junmyeon,” Sehun explained slowly. “He kept encouraging Junmyeon to drink. He wanted him as drunk as he could get him. My friend and I saw him take Junmyeon upstairs, and when we got inside… He had Junmyeon on his bed. He had his pants off. And Junmyeon was telling him to stop and to get off of him, but… Anyway. Like I said, this guy was trying to force Junmyeon to have with him. My friend and I separated the two of them and took care of everything before anything happened. But Junmyeon…definitely didn’t want of that.”
Yifan was silent. There was a change in his eyes, irises positively burning in anger. As he continued to lie there on his blanket, his hands clenched, making two fists that were so tight his nails marked crescent shapes into his palms. His body was rigid, both in pain and in rage, and Sehun didn’t dare move, unsure as to what was going to happen next.
“,” Yifan at last swore, burying his face into one large hand and groaning into it. His shoulders slumped with guilt. “I didn’t… I didn’t realize it was this bad—“
“I know you didn’t. Junmyeon didn’t know either. But now that you do know, it really changes the game. Doesn’t it?” Sehun asked, arching one eyebrow. “You two need to talk. Junmyeon’s still really upset over what you said to him. He’s freaking out thinking you’re going to break up with him.”
“I’ll talk to him,” Yifan muttered, one hand still cupped over his face in a combination of emotions, from anger to shame.
Sehun was silent at first, letting the situation sink in. He then spoke up once more, voice soft. “Kris… I don’t mean any disrespect when I say this, but you need to trust Junmyeon more. I don’t know what the two of you have done with each other and I don’t really want to know. So as to whether or not Junmyeon has said he loves you, I don’t know, but it’s obvious that he does. Junmyeon really, really loves you, Kris.”
Yifan didn’t reply. The professor wouldn’t even spare him a glance, face still hidden underneath one large hand. Taking that as a signal that Yifan no longer wanted to speak to him, Sehun swiveled on his heel, deciding that he would take his leave. He made it halfway to the door before Yifan’s voice stopped him.
“Sehun,” Yifan started, and when he turned, there was Yifan, still lying on the floor. All Sehun could see were his shoes, protruding out from one end of the desk. “Thank you.”
Sehun paused at that, blinking in disbelief at those two little words. However, after a moment, his face softened as his hand settled upon the doorknob. “Sure.”
It had been a while since Junmyeon had experienced an atmosphere this tense and awkward. He and Yifan were sitting across from each other at the man’s dining room table. Neither of them were looking at each other, gazes downcast. Junmyeon had his hands clasped together in his lap. Yifan was drumming his fingers on the table.
Neither of them knew where to start.
It was Saturday, well after noon. Yifan had texted Junmyeon late the previous night, extending a sudden but rather awkward invitation to him through their phones. ‘Would you be okay with coming over tomorrow? We need to talk’, it had said. It didn’t take much for Junmyeon to agree.
But now that they were here, sitting in front of each other, they didn’t know what to say.
At last, Yifan sighed a bit, shoulders slumping in defeat as he swallowed his pride and other mesh of emotions he was busy trying to hide beneath the surface of his skin. “Your friend told me what happened. I didn’t know. I wouldn’t have acted the way I did if I had known. You know that, don’t you?”
“No. No, I don’t know that. You can be so unpredictable sometimes. Did you know that?” Junmyeon challenged. Yifan didn’t answer, knowing Junmyeon had a very valid point. He kept his mouth shut and gaze downward. Junmyeon swallowed. “Yifan… Is this it? Are we…?”
“I’m not breaking up with you. I don’t want to break up with you,” Yifan said quickly, a hint of panic painting his voice as he immediately looked up. “I just… I just need to talk to you. We have to talk about it, if we want to put it behind us. Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I realize I was an to you over it. I didn’t mean to.”
Junmyeon’s small fingers were clinging to the edge of the wooden table as he stared down at his lap, as if he was afraid to look Yifan in the eye. “You really hurt my feelings. You immediatedly thought I did it on purpose and you were so angry with me. I’ve never heard you get that mad… Ever.”
Yifan winced, stumbling over his words. “I felt hurt, and I lashed out at you when I shouldn’t have—“
“No,” Junmyeon interrupted, at last glancing up from his clenched hands to stare at Yifan from across the table. “Yifan… I know you felt hurt, but you completely lost it. What happened? What was going through your head to make you blow up like that? There has to be something more.”
Yifan swallowed, eyes drifting to one side. The discomfort was back, obvious as it plastered itself across Yifan’s body. “Well…”
“You’re hiding something from me,” Junmyeon said quietly. “Yifan… Please. You said it yourself: we need to talk about this. There’s another reason as to why you acted that way. You weren’t angry with me at all until you thought I cheated on you. Right? So what exactly is bothering you this much?”
“I did feel hurt,” Yifan then replied, unable to look Junmyeon in the face, instead gluing his eyes down onto the tabletop. “I admit that I didn’t know everything that happened at the time, but when you first told me all these things, that someone undressed you and kissed you, and seeing bruises on your skin from someone else… It hurt me. I was angry. I felt like you were just tugging me along up to that point, and it made me feel so bad.”
“What do you mean?” Junmyeon asked hesitantly. It felt like they were at last getting somewhere, but he could tell Yifan was growing uneasy. He was shifting his weight around nonstop in his seat, chewing on his lower lip.
“I didn’t think I was good enough for you anymore, like you found someone younger and better looking and far more perfect than I’ll ever be, even if it was just for one night. I’m not much, after all.” Yifan’s lips twisted up into a wry smile. “I know I don’t say it directly, Junmyeon, but I don’t like my time to be wasted, especially with relationships. So when I thought you were just jerking me around and then did those things with someone else… It hurt one hell of a lot. I’ve never been good enough for anyone and right then I didn’t think I was good enough for you either.”
Junmyeon frowned in confusion. “What do you mean you’ve never been good enough? Yifan, you’re plenty—“
“Don’t. I know it for a fact that I’ve never been good enough for anyone,” Yifan interrupted, turning his head away. Junmyeon did not miss the sad glow in his eyes. “I didn’t think now would be any different.”
“You want to be an art major? Fine, go ahead! You’re more than welcome to be broke for the rest of your life and be jobless,” his mother snarled.
His father rolled his eyes. “You’re making a mistake. What a waste of time and energy, Yifan.”
“Don’t bother coming home,” they said. “I don’t want to see you.”
Junmyeon’s frown deepened. “Not good enough for who?”
“If you want my opinion,” his advisor started, clicking her pen wildly and obnoxiously as Yifan squirmed nervously in the uncomfortable chair across from her desk, “I would switch my major back to whatever you had before art. This isn’t your game.”
“You call yourself an art major?” his professor asked, giving Yifan a disbelieving stare. Yifan suddenly felt very small underneath his gaze as he stood there inside of the man’s office, clutching his painting tightly as he shrank down inside of his hoodie. “My daughter can paint better than you can, and she’s in elementary school.”
“You seriously switched from business?” one of the girls in his lecture asked, laughing obnoxiously loud, seeming amused in the way Yifan’s cheeks flushed in shame. “You should’ve stayed over there. It’s not like you have the talent to compete with any of us.”
Yifan swallowed, hands clenched in his lap.
“C’mon, Kris, it isn’t that big of a deal, is it?” Luhan started, pouting as he stole a glance at his friend. “Look, I said I was sorry! Next time we go somewhere, I’ll make sure to invite you. Okay? You make it sound like I left you out of the group on purpose or something. Don’t be so overdramatic about it. You can handle one night by yourself anyway.”
“I can’t believe someone like him is still even teaching,” a boy drawled. “He’s the worst professor I’ve ever had in my entire life. The university would be better off without him.”
“You heard about what happened, right? Kris got in an accident,” someone whispered. They laughed. Yifan felt the chill of their words run down his aching spine. “Too bad EMT got there when they did, eh? A few more minutes and maybe he wouldn’t have ever come back.”
Yifan in a shaky breath.
“I don’t get it. I don’t know what I did,” Yifan started, bawling hysterically as Luhan smoothed a hand over his back. Yifan was a large person, but right then, sitting on his puny dorm room bed, he felt like nothing more than a tiny child, crying his eyes out. “Why would he do this to me?”
“Sometimes people fall out of love, you know,” Luhan said calmly, “just like how they fell into it.”
“Just because he didn’t love me anymore doesn’t mean he had the right to do this to me!” Yifan nearly screamed, bursting into a new wave of tears as he bowed his head, sobbing uncontrollably. “I loved him and he knew that. Why did he just throw me away? I tried so hard to make him happy. Was he so miserable with me that he had to go and sleep with someone else?”
“For everyone,” Yifan repeated at last, unable to hide the shame from his voice as he kept his eyes downcast. “I’ve never been good enough for anyone, Junmyeon, and I figured I wasn’t good enough for you either.”
“You should’ve known better than to think that about me,” Junmyeon replied stubbornly, frowning as he unconsciously reached across the small table. Yifan glanced up to find one of his small hands resting atop of the wood. When he looked over at Junmyeon, the boy was staring back at him with a serious expression. “Do you really think I would stay with you if you weren’t good enough for me? Yifan, my ex-boyfriends were awful, and you know it. Two times was bad enough. I wouldn’t want to go through anything like that again. You make me happy, Yifan. I wouldn’t dream of doing something like that to hurt you, and like I said, if you weren’t good enough, we wouldn’t have made it this far.”
Yifan’s shoulders slumped unhappily. “But why would you want some pathetic old man for a boyfriend?”
“You aren’t pathetic. And you aren’t old either,” Junmyeon murmured. “Yifan, look at me. I’ve never cared about your age. I’ve only cared about you, and you may be flawed, but I still like you for you.”
Yifan’s eyes rolled upward. “Do you really mean that?”
“Why would I lie to you?” Junmyeon asked rhetorically, eyes serious but corners of his mouth twitching. “When have I ever lied to you?”
Yifan remained silent for a long moment. He stared at Junmyeon for a second, eyes calculating and insecure and unsure. At last, he glanced down at Junmyeon’s hand, which was still resting innocently atop of the table.
Although hesitant and moving slowly, Yifan reached out with one hand and brought it up to the tabletop as well, gently letting his palm cover the back of Junmyeon’s own hand.
Despite the weight of the situation, Junmyeon couldn’t help but smile.