Lee Taeyong inhales and exhales deeply for a few times before entering the bar where he and his high school batchmates were about to have their reunion, 10 years after graduating. He was not too excited to attend, even though he was looking forward to seeing his friends that he doesn’t really meet often, as he was avoiding meeting Nakamoto Yuta.
He practices a smile and goes inside and immediately spots his noisy batchmates, he waves at them and immediately sits beside his bestfriend Doyoung; he was afraid to scan the group as he might see Yuta.
“He’s not here yet…” Doyoung whispers to him just because he knows his bestfriend well, he knows he will be avoiding Yuta and that he will not greet everyone in fear of laying eyes on Yuta. He knows Taeyong was afraid he might suddenly break down. “I heard that he might not be coming…” he adds and as if it was heard, the door opens again and in comes Nakamoto Yuta. They need not need to turn around as the whole group was already calling out to their famous batchmate.
Yuta was a soccer player in high school and he continued up until uni. He was recruited by the national team and became a professional soccer player, much to Taeyong’s happiness and disappointment.
Doyoung rolls his eyes at the way their friends were receiving him and holds Taeyong close when Yuta sits on the only available seat—in front of Taeyong.
“Hi!” Yuta greets, a wide smile gracing his handsome face.
Taeyong just nods and looks down, pretending to be doing something on his phone when in fact he was just looking at his wallpaper; a photo of Koongya the rice ball.
The rest of the evening went by quick and Taeyong was the first to say good bye to the group, even with Doyoung’s protests.
“Let’s go home together, please?” Doyoung, who was already drunk, pleads and Taeyong just pats his shoulder. “I’m sorry, I drank more than I should have, and I have to be early tomorrow…” he gestures to Jaehyun, Doyoung’s boyfriend and mouths “Send him home safely, okay?” which earns him a nod from the younger.
“You’re quite drunk yourself, are you sure you can go home by yourself?” Doyoung slurs, making Taeyong smile. His bestfriend was adorable when drunk but very honest. He was glad he didn’t say anything about Yuta all night.
Taeyong nods. “I’ll send you a text when I’m home…” he assures and says his goodbyes to his other friends and slips out of the bar before Yuta can come back from the toilet; it would be awkward if he ignores him while he says good bye to the others.
Taeyong starts walking out and was just enjoying the evening breeze when he feels a tap on his shoulder that made him jump up while hugging his bag, he hears a (familiar) chuckle and turns around fast, an eyebrow raised.
“You’re leaving already?” Yuta asks him, hands slipping inside the pocket of his jacket.
Taeyong nods, “Uhm, yeah. I have to be early tomorrow so…” he just nods at him and starts to walk away again when Yuta suddenly holds onto his wrist, effectively stopping him from walking.
“You had a lot to drink. Can you go home alone?” Yuta asks him, Taeyong nods and gently tries to tug his wrist from his hold but fails. He wanted to cry. He didn’t want to encounter Yuta while he was still healing his heart. It has been 2 years but he still can’t get his heart to mend.
He bites at his lower lip as he looks down and looks at Yuta’s hand holding onto him; this used to be nice but now it just hurts.
“What do you want, Yuta?” he asks, voice almost a whisper as he was scared that he might start crying if he says it any louder.
Yuta just holds onto him, unmoving as if he was afraid to scare Taeyong away. “I just… Can we talk? I just want to talk…” he says, voice hopeful.
“What is there to talk about?” this time he looks up, tears falling from his eyes and he makes no effort to wipe them away. It didn’t help that the alcohol in his system was trying to make its way up to his head. He didn’t want to show Yuta he was still hurting at the same time he wanted to show him how he’s still broken; how sometimes he still feels small and unworthy of being loved.
“Taeyong I… can we sit somewhere private, please? I just want to talk; to apologize properly.” Yuta tries even though he knows he’ll most likely be rejected.
“What? Why? You can’t even talk to me in public, is that it?” Taeyong was starting to get angry as he was reminded of all the years Yuta had to hide him because of his fame.
“That’s not it. Taeyong, I just wanted to talk-“
“Fine.” He cuts him off and yanks his hand from Yuta’s hold. “I’ll give you 10 minutes to talk. Where is that somewhere private you want to hide me to?” he says coldly, might as well get it over with. Maybe they just need closure. Or maybe Yuta was just starting to feel guilty. Or maybe Taeyong wanted to be alone with him, too. Pathetic.
Yuta nods and leads him to one of the cars parked outside the bar where their batchmates were and they ride it. “Talk.” Taeyong says as he settles on the passenger seat, but Yuta suddenly turns the engine on and they were driving away. Taeyong groans and faces Yuta angrily. “Where are we going?” he half shouts as he puts on his seatbelt but didn’t get any answers until they arrive in front of a deserted playground.
Taeyong breathes in deep and lets it out softly, leaning against the seat with his head facing the windshield. “Your 10 minutes starts now.” He says, not wanting to face Yuta. He heard him sigh.
“Taeyong, I just want to formally apologize. For everything.” He begins, Taeyong stays quiet. “I’m sorry for…how things ended between us.” He glances at Taeyong but he was still facing the windshield, he sighs, “It was really awful…”
Taeyong looks at his phone and says “you have 5 minutes”, then continues to look outside, trying hard not to look at Yuta.
Yuta, on the other hand, doesn’t really know that to say with Taeyong just letting him talk like this. He wanted to get a reaction from him, but maybe even that he doesn’t deserve. He looks down and continues talking, anyways. “I didn’t mean for things to go the way they did, I never meant for you to feel like you’re being hidden or that I was ashamed of you-” he stopped when Taeyong suddenly faced him, tears threatening to fall from his eyes.
“You didn’t mean for things to go the way they did? You didn’t mean to hide me?” he laughs but it wasn’t because something was funny, but because he felt pathetic again; like he did two years ago when he left Yuta and that was when his tears started falling from his eyes and he didn’t do anything to stop them or even wipe them, he was shaking so hard from all the emotions bottled up inside him.
“YOU WERE ASHAMED OF ME!” he shouts, and it was especially loud inside the car. Yuta reaches out to him to calm him down as he was shaking so much and it was evident in his voice.
Taeyong yanks his hands away from Yuta and furiously wipes on his face with the sleeve of his jacket. “You hid me like I was a dirty secret!” he accuses but his voice was a little softer now because he was suddenly tired, he just wanted to go out but he wanted Yuta to know what he feels before he goes. “But that was what I was, right? A dirty secret…”
“You know that’s that not true…” Yuta counters, but he knew he sounded weak because even if it wasn’t true in his heart, that wasn’t what he showed Taeyong.
“Everytime I come to your practices or games, you ignore me. I don’t even go to you before the games anymore because I know you wouldn’t notice me. But you still denied me everytime a team mate of yours sees us somewhere. You would let go of my hand like I’m filthy.” He balls his fists, remembering a time he and Yuta were out, walking in a mall when one of his team mates saw them from afar that he suddenly let go of Taeyong’s hand and walks away from him without word. He stood dumbfounded looking at him talking to his team mate and shaking his head when that person pointed to where he is and he heard Yuta say, “we just happen to walk beside each other. You know, lots of people out today…” he just sighed and left without Yuta, he sent him a text but he didn’t get a reply.
“I understand that you were afraid of how your fans might see you if they knew you were dating a guy, I also understand that your team mates might judge you for it, too. I just don’t understand why you couldn’t fight for me. We dated fine in high school up until we entered university, you were also playing back then…” Taeyong suddenly fell silent when he realized that yes, they dated fine when they were younger.
That was it. It was his fault. They dated fine in high school and university because it was nothing serious, they were just kids attracted to each other and happened to let it last until after graduation. Yuta was already a professional right out of university, and Taeyong was still struggling to find jobs. Their worlds were suddenly very different and Taeyong expected it to be the same. Yuta’s practices were unlike when he was in school, his practices were more hectic. While he was busy looking jobs or transferring because he was not happy with the current one. It was his fault.
“I’m sorry…” he says, resigned. Mostly tired and very drunk, he just wanted to lay down and cry himself to sleep. He has to wake up early the next morning because they have a meeting at 9am; but he wishes he can just take a sick leave. Everything was going fine until Yuta showed up. “It was my fault…” Taeyong unbuckles his seatbelt and faces Yuta. “It was all my fault. I expected you to stay the same even when you’re a professional, I asked too much from you and I’m sorry I’m just realizing it now…” he wasn’t really sure what he was saying anymore or if any of those were coherent; he just wanted this to be over. Maybe if he tells Yuta that it was all his fault, he’ll just agree and they finish this conversation. Taeyong was feeling more and more suffocated the more they stay inside the car, he could feel his heart tightening.
“You don’t have to apologize; it was my fault.” Taeyong bows and he regretted it because it suddenly made him want to vomit although it wasn’t all because of the alcohol.
“Taeyong, what are you saying?” Yuta helps him sit up and he notices Taeyong’s face was pale, “do you want to vomit?” Taeyong nods but then shakes his head, “I’m fine…” he says, he was not.
“Come on…” Yuta reaches over to buckle Taeyong’s seat belt again even though he was protesting, he couldn’t really do much because he was starting to get weak and sleepy. “…I’ll take you home. We’ll talk more after you’ve sobered up.”
“I said I’m fine!” Taeyong exclaims but Yuta ignored him and started driving away. Taeyong just groans and leans against his seat, too weak to argue.
After driving a while, Yuta realized he doesn’t know where Taeyong lives now. “What’s your address?” when he didn’t receive an answer, he glances to see Taeyong sleeping already. He bites his lower lip and proceeds to drive to his place.
Taeyong wakes up with a headache and sits up when he remembers he was talking to Yuta earlier. He opens his eyes and takes in his surroundings; it wasn’t his place. It was somewhere he wasn't familiar and he was starting to panic when the door opens and Yuta comes in with water. “Oh good, you’re awake…” he says then Taeyong immediately checks the time, it was 2 in the morning.
“Where am I?” Taeyong asks and blindly takes the glass of water Yuta offers and downs it in one go.
“You’re at my place, don’t worry, you’re safe.” Yuta says but Taeyong raises a brow at him, he sighs, “Look, Taeyong…”
Taeyong raises a palm and it effectively gets Yuta to stop talking. “Stop, Yuta, please. We’ve talked already and that’s enough…” he stands up from the bed even with Yuta’s protests. He doesn’t even remember what he was said earlier but he thinks that maybe they’re done. Hoping they were done with the conversation.
“No, it’s not-” Yuta says firmly and holds onto Taeyong’s wrist and pulling him to sit beside him; he immediately wraps his arms around Taeyong even when he was protesting. “Yuta please-”
“Taeyong, it’s not enough…” he sighs and buries his face on Taeyong’s shoulder when he stopped trying to push Yuta, mainly because he was still tired and a little drunk even with his nap. “I missed you, so much that it hurt.”
Taeyong takes in a deep breath as he closes his eyes and slowly releases it through his nose, his hands just awkwardly limping by his sides. “Why should I believe that?” he whispers after a while, “You didn’t even contact me after I told you we should break up…”
Yuta hugs him closer, keeping his face on the other’s shoulder. “I didn’t want to break up, at the same time, I couldn’t tell you because I was foolishly overwhelmed with pride.” He sighs and let go of Taeyong, holding his hands and was glad the other didn’t attempt to pull his away.
“At that time, I thought I didn’t need you but I know in my heart that I do. I also thought you would call me and get back together with me, but when that didn’t happen, I panicked but I was scared to contact you.” He looks up, eyes getting red and teary, “I really am sorry, Tyong…” Taeyong bites his lower lip at the nickname, it was only Yuta that called him that and it made him remember all the good times they had together and how he called him fondly by that nickname. “I was a coward, and I was afraid to stand up for you. I was afraid of discrimination from my team mates and other people.”
Taeyong nods in understanding, after all these years, it was just now that he was able to fully understand. Maybe he knew all of these throughout all those years, he just denied it to himself. It was not easy being gay in Korea, especially if you’re famous.
“I’m sorry I didn’t understand you better…” Taeyong says after a while, “I just wished we handled it better before, wish we could’ve talked it out and planned it better. Or broke up peacefully…”
They were quiet after a while with Yuta just rubbing on the back of Taeyong’s hand.
“I really did miss you…” Yuta said, voice soft. “…and I’m sorry I didn’t reach out to you…” he bit his lower lip before continuing, “when I found out we were going to have a get together, I got excited and looked forward to it; I actually had a counter, then I thought, what if you didn’t come? I would’ve been very sad.” He chuckles to himself and Taeyong couldn’t help but do the same.
“Yuta…” he calls out, not really sure what he wanted to say, “Thank you, for talking to me. For letting me know how you felt.” He says, voice almost a whisper as he was embarrassed for how he was, “I’m sorry I was unfair to you. I’m sorry I expected everything to be the same and denied the fact that we and everything were changing.”
Yuta just nods and they became quiet again, unmoving when Yuta suddenly held Taeyong’s hand more securely and broke the silence. “Is it…too late for a second chance?” he looks up, nervous. He didn’t deserve it, but he can’t live with the fact that he’d be away from Taeyong again; he was ready to face the world and fight for him now. He speaks before Taeyong can. “I know I don’t deserve it. And I’m not even sure if you’re single but I just had to try. I can’t live another day away from you now that I saw you again, I just can’t Tyong…”
“I don’t know…” Taeyong begins, which was true. His heart was still trying to heal from the hurt cause by Yuta but now he’s just confused. He wants him back at the same time he doesn’t. He wants to be with him but he thinks it’s just complicated.
When he and Yuta broke up, Taeyong’s parents were as heart broken as he was as they really liked him and they were very supportive of their relationship—opposite for Yuta because although his parents didn’t protest, they weren’t really that supportive. To them, Taeyong was hindrance for Yuta’s success. Maybe that’s partly why he didn’t contact me for a while. Taeyong thinks, and he doesn’t want that to come out of Yuta’s mind. He’ll keep it in his mind, for now.
“I promise you I’ll be better…” Yuta says and Taeyong thinks it’s unfair for him to say that because he wasn’t any better than Yuta was. He wanted to be treated special when he didn’t really do anything for Yuta, he expected Yuta to carry their relationship for them; but he wasn’t sure he can be with the one who broke his heart. He wasn’t even sure if he will be the one to heal it.
“Yuta…can we… think about this? I mean, I’m single, yes. Never had anyone after you, my heart was so broken, it still is. And I’m not sure it will be you to heal it.” He says finally, taking a deep breath after.
“Let’s think about it, please?” he continues, “I guess it’s just fair for us both. What if you’re just thinking that now because we’re alone together? Let’s give it…a week, okay?”
Yuta nods, thinking it was just fair.
“Could I have…your number?” he asks, “I couldn’t contact your previous number…”
Taeyong smiles, shy. He blocked Yuta a month after his last text message to him.
“I actually…” he slips his phone from his pocket and searches for Yuta’s name, it was still saved even though he blocked him. His name was still “Yukkuri”. It made him blush when he saw Yuta smile then he unblocks it. “There…” he laughs as he sees Yuta’s raised eyebrow, “You can’t blame me for blocking you, Yuta.”
Yuta couldn’t help but laugh, it was all so silly.
“Will you stay the night?” Yuta asks, suddenly fidgeting. “I’m sorry for being so random, I’m just afraid when you leave tonight and I wake up tomorrow, this might all just be a dream. Or a nightmare.” He grins shyly.
Taeyong couldn’t help but nod, as much as he wants to go home, he was tired and drunk and he just wants to sleep.
“Will we be, staying on the same bed?” Taeyong asks, actually hopeful that they will. He hated how pathetic and needy he is but he is really happy (deep inside) that they’ve met like this. He missed Yuta a lot even though there is a lot of hurt in his heart. He can’t deny the fact that he still loves him after all these years.
“No, if you’re not comfortable.” Yuta says and he meant it. It was their first-time meeting after 2 years, after all. “I can stay on the couch” he gestures to the couch in his room.
Taeyong shook his head and gestured to the bed. “It’s more comfortable here, we’ll be just sleeping.” He thinks “pathetic” but shrugs it off. He’d rather be pathetic than yearn for Yuta’s warmth when they’re just in one room.
Yuta nods and points to his bathroom, “Would you like to freshen up? I’ll prepare clothes for you as you do.” Taeyong was already standing up and going to the bathroom to take a warm shower, he didn’t need to be told twice. He was feeling so sticky and he liked sleeping after washing.
When he goes out, towel wrapped around his hips, clothes were already on the bed and Yuta was sitting on the couch, busy with his phone. He doesn’t disturb and just wears it, almost melting at the familiar smell of Yuta’s detergent. He never changed it.
“You should freshen up, too…” he tells Yuta as he dries his hair with his towel, Yuta looking up from his phone and smiles at him. He was still handsome and Taeyong can’t deny that fact.
“I will. I just need to finish this.” Yuta says as he gestures to his phone and he nods, hanging the towel back in the bathroom and sits back on the bed. “Is it okay if I sleep first? I still have to wake up early tomorrow.” He sighs as he checks the time, it was almost 4 in the morning. “I have a meeting at 9.”
Yuta nods and stands up, placing his phone by the bedside table. “Don’t worry, I’ll take you to your workplace. Go to sleep…” he dims the light and Taeyong sets an alarm for 8:00am before closing his eyes.
Taeyong wakes up the next morning from the sound of his alarm and he groans. He tries to stretch but realizes he can’t because there was an arm wrapped around him. He gasps and looks up to see that he was laying on Yuta’s chest and it made him blush. He was supposed to just sleep beside him but he woke up cuddling up to him. Taeyong slowly slides off Yuta’s hold but he wakes up at the first movement that he couldn’t help but to bolt up right and says a quick “good morning” to him and dashes to the bathroom, he heard Yuta laugh at him.
After a while, he goes out of the bathroom and checks that it was only 8:15am; Yuta was sitting on the bed with his hands full of his phone again. What was he so busy with his phone about? He shrugs and goes to get his clothes when Yuta suddenly stands and holds his hands, shaking his head. “Your clothes are soiled. I can lend you some, since you’re going to the office you can’t go in the same clothes you used last night.” Taeyong wanted to protest but Yuta was right; his clothes were smelling of barbecue, beer, soju and smoke. He nods, despite himself and follows Yuta to his closet.
“Choose what you want…” he says and walks to the bathroom, “I’ll just wake myself up and I’ll drive you to work”
Taeyong nods and chooses a plain white long-sleeved polo and plain black skinny jeans. He didn’t change the underwear Yuta leant him the night before. He checks himself out in the mirror and nods, satisfied with his look even though the white polo was a bit big on him.
“You look good!” he turns around to see Yuta standing by the entrance of his walk-in closet with just a towel wrapped around his waist.
Taeyong almost forgot how toned Yuta’s body was and it looked better now that he aged a bit, his muscles looked better. It was expected from a professional athlete.
“U-uhm, thanks!” he stuttered, suddenly self-conscious even though he knows he really does look good and partly because he was suddenly reminded of the times Yuta used to hold him close, their bodies flushed against each other—
Taeyong blinks a couple of times and sees Yuta waving a hand in front of his face. God, he smells so good. He shakes his head and steps back, clearing his throat. “Sorry, I was just thinking of our meeting later.”
Yuta bites back a grin and just nods, “Okay, I’ll drive you to work now. I’ll just get ready.”
Taeyong nods and quickly walks back to the bedroom and lets out a deep breath, what was he thinking? Yuta probably knows what he was thinking by the way the looked at him but he tries to shrug it off. He doesn’t want to get distracted.
Yuta comes out after a while, wearing a gray GAP hoodie, black sweat pants and white socks. He was so simple but he looked so good. Taeyong wasn’t supposed to be thinking this, two years he was hurting. But those two years seemed to disappear now that they’ve talked; it wasn’t enough but it sort of healed some parts of his heart. Hopefully Yuta’s, too.
They walk towards the garage and Yuta grabs a pair of pink high cut chucks, and Taeyong found it cute. Yuta has always been the masculine one between the two of them but he never really minded with wearing anything pink or printed. He shakes his head again, glad that Yuta didn’t see, and slips his feet in his shoes. He was glad he wore white sneakers the night before and it was permitted in the office to wear casual.
“Would you like to grab some coffee before you go to work? We can just have it go so you’d have something to wake you up before or during your meeting” Yuta says as he unlocks the car and opens the passenger side for Taeyong.
“Sure…” Taeyong replies then raises a brow at Yuta even though he could feel his cheeks heating up. He stands in front of him and says “this doesn’t make up for the two years, you know” then slips inside and immediately wears his seat belt. Yuta chuckled as he closes the door and goes to the driver seat.
“I know…” Yuta says and starts the engine, backing away from the parking garage and drives away, “I just want you to experience things I haven’t done to you before.” He chuckles, “Although to be fair, I didn’t have a car before.”
This makes Taeyong laugh. “Right.” He tells Yuta the address of his workplace then he drives to the direction of it and makes a stop to buy them coffee and some bread before proceeding.