All I Need
we met and became a memory that can’t be erased.


Jae remembers the exact moment his heart went “oh, ” at the realization that he liked her. 


He remembers, largely because normally his “oh, ”s are relatively uneventful. Like, oh, , he forgot to pick up a latte for his sister and she’s going to kill him for that, or oh, , he forgot to do the homework again, guess he’s copying off Brian. Again. 


No, this “oh, ” was a very loud, very disrespectful, very intrusive “oh, ” because it happened when he was sitting at her dinner table in front of her parents while she was socking him very hard in the arm for saying something stupid. 


The realization hits him like a truck, a very large, very pink Valentine’s Day-esque kind of truck (that’s the kind he imagines in his head), and it makes him flush from head to toe. Her family and his family both fall over laughing at how red his face is, chalking it up to the throbbing pain in his left arm, and he brushes it off as exactly that, going along with the act by clutching his arm and dramatically crying out. 


It takes him only a split second to make the decision not to let her know exactly how heart-stoppingly adorable he finds her when she rolls her eyes at him and tells him to quit being a baby, she doesn’t even hit that hard. He has absolutely zero intentions of telling her how it suddenly feels like electric shocks going up his arm when she caves at his whining and rubs his arm soothingly. 


Zero. Zip. Jae’s a loudmouth but he is going to keep his mouth sealed tight; he’s not going to wreck a nearly decade long friendship over something as stupid as the fact that he kind of, maybe, sort of wants to kiss his best friend. 


Nah. Feelings ain’t real. 


we were in love 
we met and became a memory that can’t be erased 


He spends a solid year suppressing his feelings. He pretends like they aren’t there, particularly on the days when he realizes even both their parents don’t see them as potential lovers. He’s still allowed to stay in her bedroom alone with her, door closed and everything; he’s allowed to crawl into her bed and fall asleep there next to her, hell, his parents don’t even question it when they don’t find him in his own bed anymore, just assuming that he accidentally passed out in hers after crawling from his window through to hers again. 


But it’s hard to ignore it when she does things like lean her head on his shoulder, snuggling up comfortably next to him when they watch movies, or when she crawls on top of him victoriously, knocking him to the ground when she beats him in Smash. It’s impossible to ignore it when he opens his eyes and finds her sleeping next to him, sunlight filtering through in the mornings; it’s the worst trying to ignore it when she’s crying over some other guy who broke her heart. 


She sits on the floor, leaning against her bed frame, hugging the Chicken Little stuffed animal he’d won her at some boardwalk back when he was twelve and she was eleven. He just got back from University for his first winter break, and she’s still shaking slightly from the tears, sniffling here and there. Some sad excuse of a guy dumped her just before Christmas, and she looks devastatingly heartbroken. 


Jae doesn’t do sensitive. Jae isn’t good at telling her she’s pretty, or that she deserves better, or that the who left her doesn’t know he lost out on the most incredible girl in the world. He doesn’t know how to tell her that she’s immeasurably intelligent, caring, and sweet; he only knows how to make her laugh. 


So he cracks a joke, says something stupid, makes funny faces at her. She giggles, throwing the Chicken Little at him, smiling a little wider when he gives her the most offended look possible, and it’s all he needs to know that she’ll be okay. 


it was a commendable melodrama
a pretty good ending


“Dude, just ask her out,” Brian huffs, while Jae scrolls through her prom photos. That kid named Bambi or BamBam or whatever is attached to her arm, and Jae wishes he was a good enough person not to hate the kid. He knows they’re just friends, but also she and Jae are just friends and anybody with their head screwed on right would fall for her. 


Brian snatches the phone from his hand. “Are you even listening to me? For the love of god, ask her out, you coward--” 


“Ask who out?” She pops her head in through his window, and Jae scrambles for his phone in Brian’s hand, swiping out of Facebook. “Hi Brian.” 


“Hi,” Brian says cheerfully, as if he hadn’t just almost ruined Jae’s entire life. Jae glares at him when she isn’t looking and Brian smiles innocently back. 


“Some cute college girl, Jae?” she presses, flopping next to him on his bed. Jae sputters, ears turning red, and she gasps, taking it as an answer. “Really?” She climbs on top of him excitedly. “Can we Facebook stalk her?” 


“Sure,” Brian answers while Jae yells “No, we cannot Facebook stalk her,” as he tries to wriggle his way out from under her. She whines at him. 


“Oh come on, Jae,” she pouts. 


“Yeah come on, Jae,” Brian eggs her on, and he glares at him. 




“Jae, please, the last time you had a crush I was in like, the fourth grade--” 


“Yeah Jae, show her who you like,” Brian adds on, all while she gets up into Jae’s face, excited and bright and happy. 


“There isn’t--” 


“Jae, please, please, please--” 


I like you!” he yells, frustrated, and she pauses entirely, Brian nearly dropping Jae’s guitar that he’d had in his lap. 


“Oh,” she says quietly. Jae’s face is stop sign red, and he throws an arm over his eyes, heart pounding in his chest. He’s acutely aware of her crawling off his lap, and of Brian trying to sneak his way out of the room, quietly setting the guitar down in the corner, the door creaking as he tiptoes out of the room, then the sound of Brian bolting down the stairs as fast as possible. 


“Oh,” she repeats, and he lifts his arm slightly to peak at her. There’s pink dusting her cheeks, and then she’s gone, crawling out his window back to hers, and he groans, thrashing around on the bed.


He blames Brian for this. 


that’s all i need
i loved you


They don’t talk about it. 


Like, at all. Which is not healthy, but whatever. The days pass, high school ends for her, and they act like nothing changed, messaging back and forth as if he hadn’t said a word. He attends her graduation, whoops obnoxiously when her name is called, and is knocked clean out of breath when she finally finds him after the students flood out, tackling him in a hug. 


Nothing is different. Nothing changes. And then she wraps her arms around his neck, pulls him down to her height, pulls him closer, and suddenly everything is different. 


His world comes to a complete stand still. She’s so close he can see the little flecks in her irises. “Sorry,” she breathes. “Sorry I made you wait. I hope you still like me.” 


And then she kisses him. 


the love scenario that we made


Jae’s happy. 


Like ridiculously, unfathomably, even-miles-away-from-each-other-because-they’re-at-different-universities happy. 


Brian takes all the credit for it, but Jae doesn’t care as long as Brian doesn’t show up to his house while Jae is crawling through his window to get to hers and cuddle up during their winter breaks. Brian likes to show up with BamBam tailing him, and wherever BamBam is, Yugyeom is too, and sometimes Mark tags along to crash her room and play Smash. 


They’re not the sappy type of couple, and he kind of really likes that. It feels like they’re the same, except now he has the added bonus of holding her hand whenever he feels like it, and kissing her forehead when she snuggles up next to him, or pulling her closer when they fall asleep. The boys now openly give him for the hearts in his eyes when he looks at her, and she destroys them all in Smash in return. 


He loves that they’re the same. He loves that they’re not at all the same, too. He loves the way she gets excited about something, and how she yanks him down for surprise kisses - you’re too tall, she always complains - and he loves how she gets pink when he leans down to get real close to her, then crosses his eyes and sticks his tongue out and she shoves him in the shoulder hard enough to send him tumbling backwards, laughing and rolling around on the floor. She throws pillows at him but they end up giggling on the floor together like school kids, and he’s happy. 


He’s happy. 


now the lights are off
when you flip the last page


The first time they argue startles him more than angers him. It’s over something stupid, something he can’t even remember now, but he’s left sitting alone in his dorm room with furrowed eyebrows and a frown. It’s not the first time they’ve ever argued, but it’s their first time as a couple and the first time he wasn’t able to just up and crawl through his bedroom window and into hers to apologize or work it out. 


He has his phone in his hand, and he’s kind of just staring at the wall across from him feeling a bit baffled. His roommate walks in as Jae is still staring blankly at the wall in front of him, and waves a hand in Jae’s face. 


“Anybody in there?” Jackson teases, and Jae snaps back to attention. “What’s up with you, dude?” 


“I just fought with my girlfriend,” Jae says slowly, like he’s trying to figure out if that’s actually what happened. 


“Oof,” Jackson responds. “You gonna call her back?” 


Jae doesn’t know. It’s the first time he doesn’t have an answer as to what to do when it came to her. 


Jackson can sense that Jae is lost, and he tilts his head at Jae. “She was your best friend first, right?” he asks, and Jae nods in confirmation. “Did you fight with her when you were friends?” Jae nods again. “How did you fix that?” 


“I crawled through her bedroom window and begged for forgiveness?” Jae says, but his voice tilts upwards like it’s a question. Jackson chuckles. 


“Call her back.” 


the curtains will quietly fall
i’m not really okay 


He calls her back like Jackson says to, and they fix things for that day. But the arguments get worse, and they get more frequent, and at some point they stop calling just to stop fighting. 


Jae doesn’t understand why they’re fighting. It’s a different world for him; he’s not used to this. He wants to chalk it up to the distance but the breaks are the same. He crawls through her bedroom window but ends up sleeping in his bed alone, frustrated and confused. 


He doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t know why they can never seem to work it out. 


He stares up at his bedroom ceiling, hands behind his head, frowning so hard he can feel his head start to hurt. They used to know each other like the back of their hands. Words were unnecessary. They just knew


Now it seemed like even words weren’t enough. 


He sits up and stares out his window into hers, and sees her staring right back at him, startling him. 


He wishes she’d crawl over to his window and knock. He wishes she’d crack open the window and talk to him. He wishes he understood her the way he used to. 


She doesn’t open the window. She doesn’t crawl over. And he knows she doesn’t understand him, either. 


Her eyes are heartbreakingly sad, and he hates that he’s the reason for the way she’s looking at him.


going through this break up
today was our yesterday and now there’s no tomorrow
it hurts but if we dragged it out more, it would’ve become a scar
i loved you and i was loved, so that’s good enough for me 


The day she finally says it, he feels like his heart is in his throat. 


In a way, it’s a relief. 


“Maybe… maybe we should just be friends,” she says tentatively. 


But in a way, it’s also the worst day of his life.


Jae faintly hears his heart cracking inside his chest. But he remembers the look on her face a week ago, the hurt in her eyes, and in the same kind of split second when he’d discovered he liked her and wouldn’t tell her, he decides he never wants to be the person to hurt her like that ever again. 


He thinks of the day that kid broke her heart back in high school. He thinks of her sniffling and crying, clutching Chicken Little in her arms. And he remembers the way she laughed when he rambled off stupid , and he wants her to always look like that when she sees him. 


He doesn’t ever want her to fade into the background. He doesn’t want her to just be his childhood friend, his next door neighbor. He sees her back turning in his imagination, sees her disappearing from his life, so he puts on his bravest smile and does what he always does. 


“Friends,” he agrees. “The hottest ing friend you’ll ever have.” 


She snorts, and that’s all he needs. That’s all he needs to know they’ll be okay. 


sometimes i’ll think of the memories 
if you’re in it, that’s good enough for me


It is quite literally the strangest thing Jae has ever experienced. 


How quickly they fall back into routine, how fast they stop arguing and get back to bickering and chasing each other around the block, and challenging each other to making the best ing sundae using everything from their houses combined. 


Jae still doesn’t ing get it but he doesn’t care because she looks happy smacking a line of whipped cream down his cheek and happier when she’s shrieking at him for getting it into her hair, and while they’re both trying to finish a whole can of whipped cream faster than the other without spitting it everywhere because they’re laughing, he really can’t be bothered to understand. 


we were in love
we met and became a memory that can’t be erased


The first time she brings home a boyfriend after they break up is awkward. It’s awkward for him, it’s awkward for her, it’s awkward for poor Youngjae, who has only the faintest idea of their past relationship. 


“Mom, I’m home, come meet Youngjae,” she calls, kicking off her shoes. Jae has a spoonful of cereal halfway to his mouth when they see each other, and it’s the first time she’s ever frozen at the sight of Jae sitting at her kitchen table. 


Jae’s eyes flicker over to the boy standing behind her, then back to her. Then to the boy standing behind her. Then to her. Then he shoves the spoon into his mouth because that seemed like a better option than actually speaking and addressing the fact that she brought home a boy.


Jae is a grown man. Jae is mature. Jae will not use this moment at all to about moving on quickly. 


“You sure move on fast,” Jae says, cereal still in his mouth. Goddammit Jae. 


She cracks a smile. “This is Youngjae,” she says pointedly. Youngjae laughs nervously and waves. “He’s my boyfriend. Youngjae, Jaehyung. The annoying chicken little I’ve talked about.” 


She used his full name. Jae tries not to think into it too much. 


Youngjae stretches out a hand in greeting. Jae shakes it, gripping Youngjae’s hand a little firmer than absolutely necessary. 


“Nice to meet you.” 


it was a commendable melodrama
a pretty good ending 
that’s all i need 
i loved you 


To her credit, the relationship lasts a total of five months before it ends. To Youngjae’s credit, the relationship lasts a total of two months following the appearance of Jae before Youngjae decides Jae is too much competition. Jae would never own up to it, but they both know the ending of the Youngjae chapter in her life definitely had something to do with the fact that Jae couldn’t resist crawling through her bedroom window at odd hours. 


It’s not like he did it on purpose. Not technically. They’re friends, and he’s been crawling through her window ever since she moved in back in the second grade, anyway, so honestly? He thinks he has a little bit of a best friend kind of right to crawl through her bedroom window whenever he damn well feels like. It’s just pure coincidence whenever the two would walk into her room and find him laying in her bed scrolling through Twitter, he swears it. He’s not jealous, he’s not even being overprotective, he’s just being… Jae. Jae with the bad timing. #BadTimeJae. You know? 


Brian had once asked him when he was going to stop ing around with her relationships, and Jae vehemently denied having anything to do with their breakup. Besides, Jae liked Youngjae. Sure he laughed a little too loudly, and he smiled a little too widely at all of Jae’s jokes, and he was a bit on the shyer end, but overall, Youngjae was a good guy. He was sweet with her, and when Jae saw them together, they looked like two little kids trying to figure out if cooties were still real or if it was okay to start holding hands yet. 


“Just admit it makes you uncomfortable that she liked somebody else.” 


“It does not make me uncomfortable that she liked somebody else.” Jae stares at Brian. 


Brian sighs frustratedly. “Fine. I’m gonna play a word game with you.” 


Jae squints at him. “The ?” 


Brian ignores him. “I’m gonna say a word, you’re gonna say the first thing you think of. Okay?” 


Jae makes a knowing noise. “You’re trying to use my subconscious against me, okay, okay, I see you Mr. Psychology. That ain’t gon’ work on me though. I know me. I’m good. Fine. Bet. Let’s go.”  


Brian shrugs, like it doesn’t matter to him what the outcome of the game is. “Bet. Chicken.” 










“Me.” Jae grins smugly. Did Brian really think he was that easy? 




“Still me.” Jae shrieks out laughter as Brian tries to suffocate him with a pillow. 


“Why can’t you just say ‘the sun’ like a normal person?” Brian half-yells, half-laughs as Jae’s lanky limbs flail wildly in an attempt to push him off. 


“Because I’m not a normal person!” 


“You still like her!” 


“Yes I do! -- Ah, .” 


The words are out of his mouth before he can stop himself, and Brian backs off victoriously. Jae snatches the pillow out of Brian’s hands and tries to suffocate Brian instead, and Brian gets too distracted fending off Jae’s attacks to make Jae own up any more than he already has. 


It doesn’t matter, anyway. Jae always knew. He still likes her. He can’t help it. 


the love scenario that we made 
now the lights are off
when you flip the last page 
the curtains will quietly fall 


To this day Jae still won’t admit he had any hand in her break up. It wasn’t even a bad break up; she didn’t cry over it. But she did seem disappointed. Like she’d hoped her relationship with Youngjae would make her happy and it hadn’t. Like she’d wished it had amounted to something more. 


And for the sake of Jae’s ego, he thinks maybe it’s because she wishes Youngjae had made her feel the way Jae once did. 


the electric feeling in between my ribs 
your eyes that made me know i am loved 
i learned so much from you, i filled up my other half
you’re too precious to just leave in the past


Sometimes Jae wonders if they could get back together. It’s hard not to think about it, not when the twinkling lights in her eyes makes his heart skip a beat, not when she still carries that stupid Chicken Little stuffed animal around with her, and especially not when she’s melting so easily into his arms when he hugs her at her college graduation. 


She has always felt right. His hand resting on her waist as they take pictures together, him stealing her graduation cap and laughing when she grabs him by the hand to yank him back, jumping desperately to reach for it and complaining that he’s too goddamn tall, Jae, this is not even fair - 


He wishes he could turn the dial back. He doesn’t want to be just friends. He wants her to yank him by his collar and kiss him, just so she can distract him and get her graduation cap back. He wants her to say what she said when she graduated high school - I hope you still like me - because he still likes her. 


He doesn’t know how to stop. 


sometimes, i’ll think of the memories 
if you’re in it, that’s good enough for me 


They’re much older now, and she has her own apartment, and he does too. They’re sitting in her bedroom, and she hasn’t had a decent date since that one kid her senior year of college. They’re flipping through Tinder boys, Jae quipping here and there about this boy or that. 


“How about him? He’s cute.” She shows him her phone. Jae barely glances at the picture before shaking his head. 


“Nah. He’s not good enough for you.” 


She laughs. “Are you the only one who’s good enough for me? You always say they’re not enough.” 


Jae’s breath catches; for a minute he thinks he’s caught. But she grins at him and he sticks his tongue out at her playfully. “I’m just being honest, princess. You deserve only the best.”


She makes the mistake of looking directly at him in that moment, and their eyes meet, and he’s suddenly very aware of how close they’re sitting. He knows his expression is different, that his tone isn’t the same as his usual joking manner. She looks confused by it, because Jae is never this serious. He never looks at her like that, not even back when they were dating. 


He smiles gently at her, and she holds her breath. “That’s why we didn’t work out.” Because I wasn’t good enough either.


He cracks a cheesy grin to break the tension, “Because I’m better than the best.” He lets out a shriek he’ll deny having ever made when she shoves him, laughing, and tries not to fall back in love with her too hard. 


we were in love
we met and became a memory that can’t be erased
it was a commendable melodrama
a pretty good ending 
that’s all i need
i loved you 


He can tell this one is different. He’s the complete opposite of Jae, actually; he’s quiet, not the type to laugh a lot, and a dancer to top it off. He impresses everyone with a few breakdancing moves, has a smile that even Jae admits is handsome, and the only thing he really seems to share with Jae besides the first half of his name is that gentle, adoring look he gets on his face when he looks at her. Jaebum is the kind of guy who seems rough on the edges, like he’s always on guard for something to go wrong. But his expression grows impossibly soft when he looks at her, his eyes melt into these lovesick little hearts whenever she smiles. 


Jaebum looks at her the way Jae wishes he still could, and that’s when Jae knows it’s over for him. Whatever game he’d been playing at was done. Because there’s someone out there who loves her the way she deserves to be loved, someone who will be better than Jae could ever be for her, someone who she could be infinitely happy with. 


That’s when Jae decides it’s his turn to let go. To stop half-heartedly dating girls here and there. She moved on. He’s lucky enough to still be her best friend, and it’s about time he realized that’s all he would ever be to her. 


He’d just have to learn to be okay with that. 


i already miss you but i’m trying not to 
i’ll remember you like
a warm spring in a movie 


When she shows him her ring, that’s when Jae realizes he still hasn’t moved on. 


She looks immeasurably happy. All these years and anniversaries for her, and various short-term relationships for Jae - and he never moved on. A part of him - the tiniest, worst part of him - had been hoping, all this time, that things wouldn’t work out between her and Jaebum. 


But Jae’s never seen her happier than when she’s with Jaebum. She still gets a smile on her face when she sees Jaebum’s messages, her eyes light up in a way they never did for Jae whenever Jaebum comes around. 


The ring gives him the sense of finality he’d been avoiding, and as Jae congratulates her, he can feel himself burning from the inside out, sputtering into ashes. 


There are no chances left for him. There hasn't been since the day she met Jaebum, hell, maybe there hasn’t been since the day she broke up with him. He resolves (for the millionth time) to move on. He’s happy for her. She found somebody who loved her the way she deserved to be loved, and Jae can’t pretend otherwise, can’t act like he should be that man. 


The truth is, Jae couldn’t love her the way she deserved to be loved. But the way she smiles now, staring adoringly at the ring on her finger, Jae knows that she’s happy. And if she’s happy, that’s enough for him.


the love scenario that we made 
now the lights are off
when you flip the last page 
the curtains will quietly fall 


If Jae is being honest, he’d turn back the time and try to be better. 


But turning back the time only happens in like fairy tales and Harry Potter. So he stands there, back straight, hands behind his back, bowtie a little lopsided ‘cause that’s just how he rolls. He watches her walk down the aisle, pretty white dress trailing behind her, eyes shining. 


She’s not looking at him; her eyes only know the man standing at the altar. But for just the shortest of moments, so brief he’s not even entirely sure it happened - she looks at him. And she smiles a little wider. 


And he smiles a little wider, too. 


He knows. This is the spot he belongs in. After everything they’d been through, being her best friend was what he did, well, best. 


It stings a little. But he’s happy, too. 


we went through pain 
we got jealous too, so funny 
we loved like crazy 
that’s good enough for us 


“Can I have this dance?” 


Jae smiles down at her. She looks so breathtakingly gorgeous in her wedding gown, so utterly radiant. She beams up at him and grabs him by the hand, leading him out to the dance floor. He places a hand on her waist and they spin in slow circles, Jae’s heart beating hard in his chest. 


They’re quiet for a little while, enjoying each other’s presence, the familiarity, the warmth. Jae refuses to get lost in the dream that in another universe, he’d be the one in the tux with a ring on his finger. 


“Thank you,” she murmurs, breaking his thoughts. 


“What for?” 


She smiles up at him, squeezing his hand. “For being my first love. For giving me the chance to love you… and for having loved me back.” 


Jae’s heart is in his throat again. He can feel the tears pricking in the corner of his eyes, and he smiles softly at her, swaying with her to the music. She leans her head on his shoulder, and he closes his eyes. 


He doesn’t have any quips to break the moment. His heart feels full, settled in the way only a bittersweet, broken heart can feel. 


“Thank you for being my best friend,” he whispers back, and he can feel her smile against his shoulder. 


Thank you for having loved me once, too.


we were in love 
we met
that’s good enough
i loved you 

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Chapter 1: That was heartbreakingly beautiful, thank you 🙏🏻