Part: Chapter Seven: Purple
Previous Parts: Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six
Pairing: Donghae / Eunhyuk
Rating: PG-13 (sensuality)
Word Count: 4,755
Synopsis: Colors have always been there in our relationship...from the day I met you. If I were to tell our story, I’d do it with a canvas and paint; vibrant colors of every shade and hue.
No more dates for future updates...since I can't seem to meet them. ^^; Sorry! I'll just be posting asap instead.
"Do you want to go up afterward and say goodbye to him alone?"
My hand twitches on the computer mouse. I glance at Eeteuk, my eyes taking in the Kiss the Radio staff working several feet away at the same time. He's looking right at me, his expression enigmatic and expectant.
"What?" I ask, pretending that I hadn't heard him the first time.
"I said," he says patiently, poking his straw through a carton of juice, "would you like to go up after this is over and say goodbye to him alone?"
"Why?" I ask, my eyes fixed on the computer screen.
"Stop pretending for a second," he says quietly. "Do you want to?"
"Yes," I answer after a few seconds. I glance at him quickly, just long enough to see the smallest of smiles, some measure of acceptance. Even if it's just for sixty seconds, I want to see you.
"I'll give you twenty minutes with him. You can go up before me, because I want to talk to Kyuhyun and Ryeowook before they go. That way you can talk privately."
"Hyukjae, breathe." He pats my shoulder and brushes one of my burning cheeks with the back of his hand. I wave his hand away, embarrassed, and he laughs. "It's okay."
I sit back in my chair and look at him, unsure of whether or not I should look relaxed. The look on his face makes me feel really silly, like I'm part of a practical joke that just failed miserably. Like a child who has tried to keep a secret from their mother, foolishly forgetting that mothers always know.
"Did you already say goodbye?" he asks.
"Not really," I say, using my drink as an excuse to look away again. "We've been avoiding it."
"You've never been apart," he says, leaning back and pulling his hood down over his eyes. "But you'll be okay."
He hits my insecurity right on the head without even knowing it. We've never been apart. Since I met you we've always been close together, training and working together for long hours and seeing each other in our free time. Even though we have different schedules and we don't live together, it feels like we always see each other. We've always been together, and the smallest, shyest, most insecure bit of me wonders if after being away from each other, our feelings will change.
I put my headphones back on. I try trusting in Eeteuk's prediction; if his observations of us together and knowledge of us both as individuals make him think we'll be alright, then surely we will be. Surely you and I have nothing to worry about. We won't even have time to get beyond missing each other before we'll see each other again.
I glance at the clock before the song ends and quickly calculate how long until I see you. What I don't think about is how long it will be until I see you again after tonight.
"Here," Eeteuk says, holding his keys out to me across the seat.
I take them, shyly thanking him. I hold them in my lap and finger the key to his dorm: the key to you.
My eyes glaze over on the way home as I fall into a kind of sleepy daze, inactively thinking about what I should say to you, and what I want to say to you. How should I touch you, when it will be the last time I'll touch you for a while?
It won't be as though we won't see each other at all until the day you quit promoting and come back to Korea; we'll just see each other infrequently and publicly. It isn't as though we won't talk, either. This is the age of cellphones and personal computers - we would have to try to not communicate. But it will still be the biggest change we've had to face, and I'm at a bit of a loss. I'm so used to you that I don't know how I'll feel when you aren't around. The mystery of parting is what bothers me the most - not knowing how I should expect to feel or if things will change, and not being able to discuss it with anyone else.
I follow Eeteuk into the building. I glance at him as the manager steps into the elevator and presses the buttons to go up to our respective floors. As we near the floor that I live on, Eeteuk looks at me and gives me a small smile.
"Twenty minutes," he reminds me unnecessarily as he and the manager step off.
I look at the narrow seam between the doors after they've closed, my heart sinking as the elevator carries it up. A part of me wants to ask Eeteuk for advice...but what would he know? He hasn't had a long-term relationship with anyone. If anything, he should be asking me for advice.
The people you live with aren't particularly social. They stick to their rooms and to each other, and I don't even see them as I walk through the dorm towards your shared room with Eeteuk. Sometimes I wish we lived together instead of separately, mixed in with our band mates who don't know about us. Normally I like living with the members that I do; they're my friends. It's just times like now, when I want to hang onto you, when loneliness promises to come calling, that I wish that you and I lived another life together.
I knock softly on the open door. You look up from where you're sitting on the floor in front of your open suitcase, seemingly unsurprised to see me.
"Hey," I say with a brief smile. "You all packed?"
"No. You aren't in there."
I smile at your dejected expression and tone and step into the room, closing the door behind me. I leave Eeteuk's keys on his dresser.
"Downstairs," I say. "He asked me if I wanted to say goodbye to you alone, and I said yes."
"Didn't you tell him that you don't want to say goodbye?"
"We have to."
"How long will he be downstairs?"
You sigh. I sit down next to you and look at your suitcase, so neatly packed that I can't even take any satisfaction in giving you advice on how to be organized. My head lowers onto your shoulder as if drawn by a magnet and rests there.
"You're ready to go," I say, defeated. "In a few hours you'll be gone."
"I don't want to go."
"Don't say that. You should be excited about going."
"Shut up," you say with a small laugh. "You know what I meant."
"What did you mean?" I ask in a low voice, closing my eyes.
"I meant that I don't want to leave you behind." You lift one of my hands from my lap and spread my fingers out, tracing a vein from my wrist down to the top of my hand. You touch the tips of my fingers and the lines in the palm of my hand as if exploring the texture of my skin for the first time; as if you don't have every inch and subtlety of my body memorized.
"I love you," I say quietly, lifting my head up and looking at you. You look at me, a mixture of emotions in your eyes. "I'll miss you every day until you come home. I'm jealous of the experiences I won't get to share with you there."
"Hyukjae, I-..." you trail off and close your eyes, your hand closing around mine. "I'm so attached to you."
I laugh. It's a sad sound, one made because I don't know what to say. You put your arm around my waist and nuzzle your face into my neck.
"I love you," you murmur, your voice so warm and honest that I want to cry. "Hyukjae, I love you."
"Going to miss me?"
"Silly," you say, looking up and smiling at me. "I'm going to miss you all the time."
"Good." I lean into you, tracing a thread from your sweatpants up to your knee and pulling at it. "I don't want you to forget about me."
"I wouldn't be able to forget you over the space of years, let alone months," you say, kissing my hand. "Don't worry about that."
"How long has it been since you kissed me for the first time?" I wonder aloud. The way we kiss has changed so much since then. Everything has, come to think of it. We've both grown up and changed, and our relationship has changed as a consequence of that...but it's all been natural and it's all felt right, and I don't wish to go back to any point in time except for the present. I like the way our relationship feels right now.
"We were seventeen. Or you were, anyway." You lean your head against mine. "That was a long time ago."
When I'm with you my heart rests, at ease, assured, and the joy of loving and being loved fills me. I'm as comfortable as I'll ever be when I'm with you. I don't want to be without you, even if it's just for a few months. I don't want to waste precious time in our lives missing each other. Next to you is where I belong, is where I want to be, is where, in a very real sense, I need to be.
"It'll be okay," you say thoughtfully, squeezing my hand gently. "Going to China, I mean. It's not such a big deal."
"How many times did you have to tell that to yourself to believe it?"
"I didn't. Maybe it will even be good for us to have a break."
I sit up and look at you. "Do you want a break?"
"No," you say quickly, draping your arms over my shoulders. "But it's not such a bad thing."
I purse my lips. I don't want to agree with you or admit that your leaving is anything but sorrowful. You smile and stand up, pulling me up by my hands. You kiss me, running your hands down the sides of my body until you reach the hem of my shirt. Then you pull it over my head and toss it onto the end of your bed.
"Lie back." You pick up your carry-on and start rifling through it.
I obediently half lie down on your bed, propping myself up on my elbows, wondering what you're about, and watch as you retrieve your camera, a high quality digital one that you've had for a year, from your bag and climb onto the bed with it.
"You're taking my picture?" I almost gasp, sitting up. "Like this?"
"Yes," you say, reaching forward and rearranging my bangs. You gently push me down again. "Like this. Put those pillows behind you."
"This is embarrassing," I mutter, wanting to push the camera away and put my shirt back on and escape.
"Why?" You reach around me and adjust the pillows I'm lying against, propping me up with them, deliberately touching my bare skin at every opportunity. You kiss my neck before you reach back for your camera, smiling at me with something like adoring amusement. "You don't feel embarrassed when I look at you completely naked - why feel embarrassed about this? I'm the only one who will see these pictures."
"What if you lose your camera?"
You make a face at me. "I won't."
I look at you doubtfully. You cup your fingers beneath my chin and tilt my head to the side, running your finger along the line of my jaw.
"Be sexy," you say. "At least smile for me."
I blush as you lift the camera up to your eye and adjust the focus. I try. I really do try, because it is a little silly for me to be self conscious about this, isn't it? I should be comfortable doing anything with you.
In a way, I understand why you want to take my picture like this; you're photographing a me that no one else will ever see. Even if I participate in a shirtless photo shoot someday, which I find unlikely, the feeling wouldn't be the same. You're taking a picture of who I am, not who I present to the world.
You must be satisfied with my effort, because you take at least a dozen photographs of me from different angles.
You put the camera down and sit against the wall, passing me my shirt. I put it on, unable to repress a smile as I catch you watching me dress, and then I crawl to where you are and sit next to you again. I lean my head against yours as you hold the camera between us and look through the pictures you just took. They all came out bathed in purple, the light in the room casting dark shadows on my features and the fabrics beneath me. They're almost painfully intimate, and they make me blush. I'm too critical of myself to take any real pleasure in them.
"I really love," you say softly, shifting your gaze from the camera to the real me, "the way you look. You're really beautiful."
"Thanks." I smile in spite of myself. It pleases me that you think I'm good looking.
You put your camera down in exchange for your cellphone and take one last picture, one with both of us in it.
"You take one too," you say quietly, wrapping your hand around the back of my neck as you kiss me. I'd rather just kiss you than take our picture, but I know that a picture will be nice to have when I can't kiss you anymore. I break away from you, but you pull me back again. I laugh against your lips, amused by your contradictory words and actions and delighted by being wanted. My laugh makes you laugh, and you stick your fingers into my pocket and pull out my phone. You press it into my hand. I hold it out at arm's length and you sling your arm around my neck, looking at the phone with the most angelic smile.
I put the phone back into my pocket after taking a single picture and submit more than willingly to your insistent kissing, eager to be close to you before you go away. Maybe kissing now will make your absence more painful, but I doubt it; I think I would feel cheated if we didn't express how we feel with our bodies. I want to do more with you, but there isn't time, and this isn't the place for it.
At some point one of us remembers that Eeteuk will be coming back, and we stop, and revert to holding hands and looking into each other's eyes the way that makes other people feel like gagging.
"Call me," you say. The way you say it fills me with the fantastic notion that a phone call is a special intimacy for us to share, something more magical than technology transmitting our voices through space. "I'll call you."
"I promise. Take care of yourself," I say, more out of formality than actual concern. I know you'll take care of yourself.
"You, too," you reply with a smile. "Don't get into another car accident while I'm gone. I wouldn't be able to bear it."
We smile at each other, and you lean in to kiss me again. Just before your lips touch mine, though, there is a soft knock on the door, followed by Eeteuk opening it.
You quickly move away, the faintest of blushes on your cheeks.
"Time's up?" I ask quickly, trying to distract.
"Yup," Eeteuk says casually, opening the door to its full extent and standing near it. "Go rest up for tomorrow."
You stand up with me without relinquishing my hand, looking at me with the saddest of smiles. I hover in front of you, my eyes locked with yours, my feet lacking the inspiration to step away, my own hand unwilling to let go.
Without giving Eeteuk standing in the doorway another thought, I quickly kiss you and hug you tightly, employing the same logic used by children hiding from nighttime monsters: if I can't see him, he doesn't exist. Your arms come up around me again and hug me back.
"Goodbye," I say into your ear. "I love you very much."
"I love you too," you whisper, your voice catching.
I let go of you to find tears running down your face.
"Bye," you say, cupping my face in your hands and giving me the kiss you shied away from before. Eeteuk clears his throat subtly, but you take your time, drawing it out sweetly before you slowly pull away and give me a small push towards the door. I turn and walk straight out, avoiding Eeteuk's eyes, and leave as quickly as possible. I don't want anyone to see me crying right now.
The feel of your lips pressed so affectionately against mine in parting runs together with the sudden overwhelming realization that we kissed, and told each other that we love each other, in front of Eeteuk. I feel happier about this than I should. Without realizing it until now, I have wanted to feel acknowledged for who I really am by someone whom I'm close to. That you let me confirm my status in front of him, and that you kissed me so blatantly, means something surprisingly significant to me. Now if he had any doubts about us, they're permanently erased.
I wipe my face before I walk inside, pausing only to take my shoes off again and shove them into a box.
"Hyukjae, is th-"
Sungmin stops dead in the entrance way, surprise crossing his delicate features as he sees my face. I walk past him and head directly for my room, shutting the door harder than I had intended, and collapse onto my bed. I turn onto my back and sob, covering my mouth with my hand to mute the sound. I haven't cried like this in a long time. It's just that I feel so lonely all of a sudden, faced with months of promoting - for the first time - without you. It feels wrong, like there's a crucial component to the future that is missing.
I open my cellphone and start at the beginning, looking at pictures I've taken of you over the years and skimming through them until I reach the picture I just took. My mind wanders back, and I wonder how much you must love me to kiss me the way you do and look at me the way you do. When it's just you and me, you're so gentle with me that I feel like I don't want to die; I want to live forever with you and love you just as much in return, every single day.
I want to be able to see through your eyes while you're in China; I hate having to miss out on what you'll see and do and feel. I feel guilty, too, for holding you back. I want you to miss me, but I don't want you to miss me; I want you to think of me, but I want you to forget me; I want you to call me, but I want you to turn your phone off; I want you to be there with me in your heart, but I want you to be free of me, so that you don't feel the pain and loneliness of being apart; I want you to enjoy it without me on your conscience. I don't want to make your experiences less enjoyable simply by not being with you.
If I close my eyes, I can picture you so clearly that I can almost feel your presence. I can imagine you so vividly that my daydreams influence my dreams. I want to call you now and hear your voice, but I'll wait. I don't want to seem that needy, even to myself. I almost laugh and blot my face with my shirt. I am that needy, aren't I? I'm smitten with you.
I remember when you took a picture of us together without my consent, and I got so upset that I cried because you wouldn't erase it, dismissively saying that it was no big deal to keep it. I was afraid that someone would find it. When you saw my tears you stopped teasing me and pulled me close, apologizing. You told me that even though we have to keep our relationship to ourselves, we still have the right to keep pictures, which will turn into memories later when we're older. You compromised with me: you sent it to your laptop and saved it in an encrypted file, and then you let me delete it from your phone with my own hands.
Now I see that you're right, and I'm glad you started the trend of saving pictures secretly. If we didn't, someday we would regret it. We would regret letting the expectations and notions of love that other people carry prevent us from saving them. I'm glad you saw the importance of that and imparted it onto me. I realized that you love us - both of us - and who we become when we're together.
A soft knock brings me out of my thoughts, and I lift my head up. I wait, and the door is opened slowly. Sungmin sticks his head in and looks at me timidly.
"Are you okay?" he asks quietly, slipping into my room and closing the door behind him.
"Yeah, I'm okay," I say, unconvincing even to myself. I sit up and try to smile.
He sits down on my bed and crosses his legs, facing me. His lower lip protrudes as he looks at me with concern. But there's something else besides concern to his expression, I think; he's come here with a purpose.
"Are you sad they're going?" he asks.
I look at him carefully. 'Are you sad he's going?' I'm sure he meant to say. I know him too well not to know that he's really asking about how I feel about you.
"Yeah," I say, running a hand through my hair and sighing tiredly. "But I'm happy for them."
"Yeah, but still. I'll miss Ryeowook and Kyuhyun."
I nod slowly. "You'll have to get used to having your own room again."
"I won't really mind that. Kyuhyun stays up playing games all the time, and it's distracting. But you..." he trails off and looks at me with that shyly determined expression again. I passively wait for him to continue.
"Is Donghae your boyfriend?"
He looks embarrassed after blurting out the question, but I have to admire his determination. I've seen this question coming for a long time. He already knows, I think. By asking me if he's my boyfriend, what he's really saying is that he wants to talk about it. He wants to open this taboo discussion with me.
"Yes," I reply, looking straight at him to show him that I'm not ashamed. "Donghae is my boyfriend."
He looks at me like he doesn't know what to say or do, so after a second he gives up and looks down at his hands, which I now notice are twisted together.
"Do you care?"
"No." He looks up. I can tell that he means it. "I've known that he is for years. But why didn't you tell me?"
"But I'm supposed to be your friend."
"Sungmin, would you have told you?" I snap. He looks taken aback, and I try to soften my tone as I continue. "You jealously disliked him once you realized that I liked him, didn't you? What was I supposed to think? That you were comfortable with my being so close to a boy, and that you would be open and accepting if I told you?"
"I'm sorry, okay?" he says edgily. "It isn't like it was that easy for me to watch. I stopped acting like that, too, you know?"
"We didn't want to tell anyone to begin with," I say with a sigh, folding my arms behind my head and leaning back. "After you calmed down, we'd been used to keeping it a secret for a long time. It wasn't like we were waiting for an opportunity to tell you or anyone else."
"I wish you would have told me," he says, fidgeting with his fingers again. He leans against the dresser adjacent to my bed and looks at his knees. He opens his mouth a few times, short gasps of air marking his hesitancy to speak. "How did you know?"
"That you liked boys."
"I just knew," I say, frowning the slightest bit. "I didn't feel anything thinking about girls. I thought about boys, and...I just knew I liked them. I knew before I met Donghae, if that's what you want to know."
He lowers his chin onto his knees and frowns at the mattress. His index finger draws tiny circles on his shin. I wonder what he wanted me to say, since he seems so dissatisfied with my answer - that I had a boyfriend before Donghae?
"If you've known for a while, why are you bringing it up now?"
"Because," he says. "Donghae is leaving, and you're crying about it. I guess I just wanted you to know that I know, so if...you want someone to know how you feel, you can tell me."
That isn't the answer I was expecting. But his words warm me with their supportiveness, making me in this instant value him as a friend immensely. That he offered to listen to me talk about you means so much to me that I start to cry again.
"Sungmin," I choke. "Thank you."
"I really don't mind," he says, starting to smile. "I know you're really happy with him."
"I love him," I say, blushing because the words feel so unfamiliar.
"I know," he says seriously. "No one can change you two, right? So it would be stupid of me to disapprove. It isn't like your being together is hurting anyone. The other members don't even seem to know."
"Well," I say hesitantly, "Eeteuk and Heechul know."
After your father died and Heechul recovered, you called me and nervously told me that you wanted him to know. I protested initially, but you told me that he mattered to you and that it was important to you that he know, and I gave you my blessing to tell him. You called me again ten minutes later and told me that he had laughed at you and waved you off, saying that it was obvious.
"I thought that Heechul might know," he says. "Just because..."
"Well, he is..." I almost laugh. "I mean, if you thought about us then you must have thought about him."
He laughs. "Of course."
"Did you talk to him, too?"
"No," he says quickly. "I don't know him that well."
"I don't know him well either." Sometimes I wish I did, since you're so close to him. But I think it's a good thing for you to have someone whom only you are close to.
He sighs. "You're really lucky, Hyukjae, you know? The odds were against you, but you found someone to love. I'm a little jealous."
"You'll find someone," I say in a weak attempt to be comforting.
He smiles for a second and then stands up. "If you're alright, we should both get to sleep."
I nod. He bends over and hugs me. I hug him back. Neither of us say anything, and after a few seconds, we let go.
"Goodnight," he says cheerfully. I tell him goodnight, and he leaves, shutting the door softly behind him.
I text you, hoping that you turned your phone to silent, to tell you what just happened. Then I put my phone down, and after a moment's consideration, I decide to take a shower before I go to sleep. I couldn't possibly fall asleep right now, with all of the things on my mind: Sungmin's and Eeteuk's acceptance, your departure, and my own feelings, happiness and sadness mixing together until they reach equilibrium.