Title: happy if you're happy
by shouga

Tags: Teen And Up Audiences, NCT (Band), Kim Dongyoung | Doyoung/Lee Taeyong, Kim Dongyoung | Doyoung, Lee Taeyong, Break Up, Canon Compliant, Optimism, Gen, M/M, No Archive Warnings Apply, Slice of Life, Self-Discovery


“Well. This is it.” Taeyong says, hands on his back pockets.

Doyoung nods at him, not sure what to say.

Is this it? What exactly is coming to an end? He wonders.

After all, the sun will come up again tomorrow just the same, and when they open their eyes in their respective homes, one of them will have a “good morning” text waiting for them on their phone. Doyoung has the feeling that only then will they come to understand a little better how much they’ve truly lost, and how much they still truly have.


Yesterday I forgot to write an author's note before posting, and after posting I thought, oh well, it's not that important.

But today, on second thought, I have to say that this fic is absolutely dedicated to egg.

Thank you for reading this with me. Thank you for hanging out with me today. Thank you for...so much more. I love you so so much.

End Notes:


Published at: 2020-07-14
Revised at: 2020-07-14 03:26:34 -0400

“So, what’s the occasion?”

“There’s no occasion.”


Doyoung chuckles nervously. “I’m not lying.”

“You mean to say,” Taeyong jams the key in, “that you picked me up after work for no good reason?”

“What’s wrong with that?”

The apartment door swings open. The familiar smell of home hits them both. Without looking, Taeyong flicks on the light switch. In the doorway, he turns around, gives Doyoung a look. “I know you had filming today. The tough one with the fight scene, right? How’d you get time to pick me up?”

Doyoung smirks. “Well…”

“And you didn’t text me once today,” Taeyong grumbles. “Not an update, nothing. And now you have the audacity to follow me back to my house?”

“It’s my house, too,” Doyoung grins.

Taeyong stops walking. He spins around, eyes on Doyoung as he pushes him backwards with a hand on his chest.

Thump. His back hits the door.

“You think so?” Taeyong drawls, “you don’t even pay rent.”

Back against the door, Doyoung is grinning wide. Taeyong leans in, both hands on Doyoung’s chest now. Doyoung holds on to Taeyong’s wrist. They are just inches apart, feeling each other’s breaths. Taeyong is staring mischievously up at him, returning Doyoung’s grin with a stubborn smile of his own. He knows he’s right. His boyfriend is keeping something from him, teasing him with anticipation. 

“But I have the keys—” Doyoung whispers into the quiet space between them, and Taeyong shuts him up by pressing their lips together.

Just a quick peck, a “glad to come home to you”.

They pull apart.

“You drove all the way across town to pick me up? For what?” Taeyong’s eyes narrow suddenly. “Are you repenting for something? Did you spill water on my keyboard again? What is it—Dongyoung!”

“You’ll see soon enough.”

“I don’t like these kinds of surprises…”

“I just wanted to talk to you.”

“Talk? You were dead silent in the car!”

“Come on, let me through.”

“I hope I don’t hate you by the end of the day, or I might really kick out your freeloading ass.”

Taeyong detaches from him, taking his hand away from his chest, not without rubbing his hands together unconsciously and looking down at them.

“By the way, are you okay?” He says, quietly now. “Doie. Your heart is pounding.”

Doyoung says nothing. He starts rolling up his sleeves, walking past Taeyong into the house. Taeyong grabs his hand as he swings by. Doyoung doesn’t acknowledge him as he walks, but his fingers do tighten around Taeyong’s hand.

Following him into the dark living room, Taeyong is back to grumbling again. 

“I know you’re hiding something. What’re you so nervous for? Your heart wasn’t even pounding like this last night—”



“Are you hungry?”

“I am…? Why?”

Doyoung points.







There’s dinner on the table.

Taeyong gawks.

Doyoung rubs his neck. “I dont know if it’ll be cold by now. You spent longer in the studio than I thought.”

Taeyong looks up at him.

“You made this?”

His gaze falls down once more. Taeyong stares at the two plates of food, two bowls of rice, and two cups set on the dinner table before them. There’s a vase off to the side with vibrant orange flowers Taeyong had picked up on the way back from work a few days ago. Compared to their neat aesthetics, the plates on the table are a mismatch of colors, as are the casually stir-fried dishes. Neither are the bowls and the cups a set, but they are, all together, the very definition of a homecooked meal, and Taeyong for a moment can’t wait to sit down and pick up the horizontally placed chopsticks—waiting for him—if only he could…make it all make sense.

“I made it,” Doyoung says, effectively answering nothing.

Taeyong’s eyes trace over the dishes, still with disbelief. Doyoung even garnished them with green onions. His heart feels warm.


“I drove to pick you up from here, actually,” Doyoung says, pulling his chair back, gesturing for Taeyong to sit down too. Doyoung drops his chair a little too loudly, and Taeyong looks up to find Doyoung’s hands shaking a little. 

“What? What about work?”

Doyoung seems to be considering his words.

“I didn’t go today,” he says at last.

“What?! To your own MV filming?”

“Needed a rest.”

Taeyong is dumbfounded.

“Are you alright? What’s going on?”

Doyoung is staring at his hands on the table, which are curled into loose fists.

Something cold and heavy settles in at the base of Taeyong’s stomach.


“Taeyongie.” Doyoung says. “There’s something I want to talk to you about later.”






Taeyong puts his chopsticks down. They clatter against the edge of the bowl. “It’s not working.”

Across him, Doyoung is a mirror image, tense shoulders and all.

“I’m sorry,” Doyoung sighs, putting down his own food. “I know.”

“You can’t tell me to ‘just eat, I’ll tell you later’ after telling me something like that. Now I have no appetite because I’m so concerned.” Taeyong crosses his arms. “You wouldn’t skip work like that. Unless something is really wrong.”

Doyoung’s looking down, doesn’t say anything.

“Whatever it is, tell me first? Then we can eat.” Taeyong says, brows knitted, even though the acid in his emptied stomach churns and hurts.

“I’m sorry,” Doyoung says again. “I don’t know what I expected. I wanted to make you comfortable—I didn’t intentionally make this seem all set up. I was just home the whole day and thought I could make myself useful. I wanted to do something for you. I don’t know. Taeyongie—.”

“What is it?”

Taeyong watches Doyoung take a deep breath, watches the laced fingers on the table clench.

“I think it might be best if we break up.”






“What…what do you mean?”

Doyoung runs his hands down his face. “I don’t think we should date anymore.” 

Taeyong’s body goes numb.

Like a lightbulb, going off.

“I still love you,” Doyoung hurries to say, “of course, I love you.” Takes a breath. Another one. “But it’s not the same for me anymore.”

For a while, Taeyong just sits with the news.

A thousand ways to respond enter his head. He could take a deep breath (he does that.) He could stand up. He could leave—where to? Instead he could just sit here dumbly. He could…have his mental breakdown. He could do this out loud so Doyoung knows he’s having a breakdown. He could get upset. Cry. Pretend he didn’t hear. Demand answers. Beg for Doyoung to stay. 

“Okay,” he croaks. More breathless than he imagined. Embarrassing. He tries again, more power this time. “…why?”

“Because,” Doyoung looks to the side, thinking. Taeyong thinks this feels like an interview. Just facts being stated. “I don’t…feel the same attraction anymore.”

Taeyong thinks about it. Just doing the bare minimum to process the words. All of a sudden the five hours spent in the recording studio start to weigh on him, make him feel exhausted.

“Is there someone else?” He stares at Doyoung.

Doyoung looks back. “No.”

Taeyong nods, staring down at the cabbage on the plate.

“Taeyongie. How’re you feeling? Talk to me.”

“I need a moment.”






On the toilet seat, with his legs drawn up and face buried in his knees, the tears don’t come like Taeyong thought they would.

I’m being broken up with.

He wants to pity himself, so he makes himself think about never seeing Doyoung again, and the thought does manage to make him tear up a little, except he knows it’s not like that, it’s not going to be like that…of course not.

He washes his face nevertheless, hands as cold as the icy water.






“Taeyongie…tell me your thoughts.”

“What do you mean?”

Doyoung looks helpless, utterly unsure of himself. Unlike a moment ago, he’s the one struggling now. Taeyong, keeping his face trained and words back, feels avenged for a moment.

“I mean. You’ve just been…sitting there.”

“What can I say?” Taeyong sighs, his lethargy bone deep. “Do what you like, Dongyoung.”

Doyoung looks visibly taken aback. Maybe he hadn’t expected this, Taeyong acting this way. What did he want, a crying mess? Taeyong isn’t going to give him that pleasure. He holds back. Holds on.

“How’re you feeling?” Doyoung reiterates.

Taeyong feels the tears well up again, against his will. He feels frustrated, even if he appreciates the effort Doyoung makes to ask. “Can’t you guess? I’m so sad I don’t even have words. This hurts.” He wipes at his eyes. “I don’t want to cry. If I start crying, I won’t be able to stop.”

A pause. “I’m sorry.”

“Are you?”

Taeyong stares at Doyoung, who stares at him back. Taeyong knows he is, knows Doyoung wouldn’t apologize for something he didn’t believe in. He didn’t want Doyoung’s sympathy. He wanted Doyoung to unsay the things he said. But from Doyoung’s silence he knows he’s not going to apologize again—yes, there will be casualties, and he’s sorry about them, but Doyoung has clearly made up his mind that the harm has to be done. Taeyong wonders if he himself isn’t merely collateral damage. Of course it’s not about hurting him. It’s probably not even about him at all.

“Is it something I’ve done?”

“No. If it were something like that, I would tell you.”

Taeyong knows that much.

“Then what is it, all of a sudden?”

“It’s not…really sudden.”

“What do you mean?”

Doyoung chews on his lip. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while.”

“How long?”

“A couple of months.”

Taeyong sits there, hands lax on his lap. He grips his knees under the table. That’s a long time to be having mixed feelings without letting Taeyong know. A couple of months is before his last birthday, when he blew out the ‘29’ candles with the prayer on his mind that they could be allowed to stay like this for another year to come. A couple of months is before their talk about moving into a bigger apartment at last, when Doyoung insisted instead that they keep things as they are—Doyoung with his own place, half way across town, empty—for the sake of their parents who still think they live alone. A couple of months ago was the last time Doyoung brought a new plant home. All these memories become, within the matter of moments, tinged with new meaning in retrospect, and Taeyong feels a little sick to the stomach to think something has been rotting under his nose for so long.

He hadn’t noticed at all. Doyoung had loved him the same. Smiled at him the same. Held him the same. Had kept up the perfect facade, all the while thinking ahead, eyes trained on the point along the horizon where light disappears.

Taeyong thought he knew him inside out. Evidently not.

“Why didn’t you say something?”

“I wasn’t sure. I was, but I wasn’t at the same time.”

“You didn’t have to act like nothing is wrong.”

“It’s not that anything is wrong…just.”

Taeyong stares at him. Doyoung’s trying to communicate something with the look in his eyes, and Taeyong is reminded that he can’t, after all, read his mind. No matter how hard he tries to believe Doyoung deceived him for the last few months, he can’t convince himself that any moment of joy they shared lately has been contrived. It truly did feel like nothing is wrong.

“The only thing that’s changed are my feelings,” Doyoung says.

“There’s nothing wrong with the way things are now,” he goes on. “I didn’t know if I was ever going to tell you or bring it up, because it felt like things could go on like this forever, and I don’t think I would have anything against that. It’s just…I feel differently. And I thought you would want to know that. For the sake of honesty between us.”

Taeyong nods slowly.

Always honesty, even if it hurts.

“Thank you for telling me,” he says through the pain in his chest.







“What changed?”

Doyoung swallows.

“Lately…” he starts.

Taeyong nods.

“Lately, you’ve been feeling more and more like a best friend to me. We live together, but it feels like we’re…just friends. I think I don’t…I can’t really…see you as a lover or a romantic partner anymore. I love you, but not like that anymore. What I mean is, the attraction I felt towards you—”

“Yeah,” Taeyong stops him bitterly. “I got it.”

Doyoung stops talking. Taeyong doesn’t think Doyoung can overexplain this simple concept any more if he tried. He doesn’t love Taeyong romantically anymore. When it comes to this, what else is there to say? Nothing has gone wrong. There’s nothing that can be fixed to make it better. Nothing to be resolved, so to speak, through communication, which had always been their strongest weapon. This time, no amount of talking it out can rekindle that attraction in Doyoung. Taeyong doesn’t have the power to make someone else feel a certain way. If a relationship is dependent upon feelings, and feelings come and go, surely he should just concede to its organic flow? Is there no way to escape the command of these emotions?

If their love was founded on another quality, surely that means there’s something left to believe in…right?

“Are you sure you ever loved me like that? Romantically?” Taeyong tries.

Doyoung stares, not understanding. “Of course. It was a very real feeling. It’s why I agreed to date a year ago, because I was feeling it. I wouldn’t have dated you if I didn’t…have feelings for you.”

“And it’s different now?”

Doyoung bites his lip.

Worth a shot, Taeyong supposes.

It’s hard not to take it as a personal offence. Taeyong has to struggle to remind himself that none of this is somehow either of their fault. It’s just that the little things change, day by day, motion by motion, word by word, like granules in an invisible hourglass, trickling. There’s nothing to pinpoint, nothing to blame—nothing and everything at the same time.

“Do you still love me like that?” Doyoung ventures.


He nods.

Taeyong has to think. He laces his cold fingers together.

“I don’t know. You know how I feel about romance. It’s not so clear to me, what kind of love this is. I don’t think anything has changed, but nothing has changed for me for a while, a very, very long time, Doie. I don’t know if I ever loved you romantically, because I can’t tell when exactly it started to feel like that. But maybe that just means I’ve always loved you like this.”

Somehow romantically, somehow as a best friend, at the same time. All the time. Taeyong is satisfied with that conclusion.

“I see,” Doyoung says.

Taeyong clenches his hands.

“You know. People’s feelings change all the time, especially in committed relationships.”

Doyoung peeks up. “I know.”

“And it doesn’t have to be a problem. Just some change to adapt to.”

Doyoung sighs. “I know, Yong.” Taeyong watches his shoulders slump, looking dejected but at least finally relaxed, like he’s not so worried that he could make Taeyong cry with every word anymore. Yeah, they’re here. It’s a surreal moment, but here they are. They can talk about this. It hurts, but it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming, because understanding each other is much more important at the moment.

“That’s what I’ve been thinking about for two months. I know there are a lot of feelings that fade over time, and there’s no right or wrong answer whether to stay committed or to leave. I just had to…find my answer, figure out what that is.”

Taeyong wets his lip. “And now you’ve found it.”

“I think I have,” Doyoung says quietly. “I think…I know what I want now.”

And it’s not this, Taeyong thinks. Not me anymore.

“I could stay. I almost made up my mind to stay. It doesn’t feel wrong, it just doesn’t feel right either. But I decided not to because—well. For one, you deserve better than my lukewarm affections.”

“I don’t need anything else,” Taeyong leans forward, “what you give me is enough.”

“I know, but I don’t want to remain in a relationship I feel ambivalent about, either.”

“Fair enough,” Taeyong whispers.

“Taeyongie,” Doyoung pauses, waiting for Taeyong to look up. “We are so good as friends, don’t you think?”

Taeyong pauses. “Yes,” he says warily.

“Can we be friends again?”

Taeyong thinks about it for a long time.

Yes, they have the most satisfying friendship Taeyong could ever ask for. He’s grateful to have met Doyoung in this life, to have become close to him in this way. They are so good as friends. But for him, is that enough?

Taeyong loves the idea of Doyoung as his lover. His special person. One and only.

It’s a matter of status, a security he feels, being bound to Doyoung by it.

But in practice, is there really that big of a difference between this and being best friends?

Before this all started, he had been in the generous mindset of acceptance, of gratitude, taking nothing for granted and being content with anything he is given. There was longing, yes, that’s the romantic part of his feelings, yet the part that loves Doyoung as a best friend felt there was nothing else that was missing. It didn’t matter what the label was—as long as Doyoung is here. But now, having had Doyoung in this way, Taeyong’s become possessive, greedy, reliant on this tenuous relationship, afraid of losing it, even if he doesn’t even know what he would be losing.

“It’s okay if you feel like you can’t, if you feel too hurt, I understand.”

Taeyong listens, chewing on his lip.

“I would be very sad to lose you, but…”

But what? Taeyong thinks. But he had to leave this relationship, even at the risk of losing his best friend.

Suddenly Taeyong understands a little better. Being free—it’s that important to Doyoung.

“Idiot,” Taeyong finally sighs, long and deep.


“Of course I wouldn’t leave over this.”

“I didn’t…I didn’t think you would,” Doyoung smiles. “But I wouldn’t stop you if you did.”

What am I without you? Taeyong thinks, not for the first time. Like the many times he’s envisioned Doyoung’s sudden and tragic death, he recalls the phantom emotions such an idea roused in him. A life without Doyoung. What would that be like?

Can I really say I’m whole? Can I really be okay on my own?

Taeyong is 29, yet he doesn’t know the answers to these questions. He’s working on them. Maybe the answer is no, but that’s okay too. He doesn’t have to know, because for the time being, Doyoung is still here. Taeyong’s not about to find out on his own, that much he knows for sure.






“I’ve been thinking I need some time off for myself.”

Here it comes, Taeyong thinks, heart thudding.

The facts have been laid. Now it’s time to face the practical implications.

Taeyong can feel Doyoung drifting farther away, the way one helplessly stands on the dock as their loved one is carried off by a ship to a foreign land, waving goodbye. Taeyong thinks he knows what Doyoung means, but he’s not about to stop hoping that he’s wrong.

“It’s not like you can’t be on your own unless we break up,” he offers, a lump in his throat. “You can go back and live at your place, it’s fine with me.”

“Yeah, but…if we do that, how is that different from not being in a relationship at all?”

Taeyong is stumped. He doesn’t know, either.

It’s just that there was no difference to begin with, dating and not dating. It’s just that, piece by piece, Doyoung moved in. It just happened this way—slippers. Shirts. Plants. Bluetooth speakers he had left and never bothered to take back. His favorite mug from his brother. His stuffed animals. They had agreed to this living arrangement after the fact that Doyoung’s toothbrush had been sitting in Taeyong’s cup for months. It had been a tough period of time, winter, dark and cold and lonely, and Taeyong needed the company to keep him upright through the stress of work. “I miss you,” he would say every day over the phone, just a half-city apart yet so far, unable to find time to meet with Doyoung, until one day he risked it all and said “Come live with me?”

It was the physical proximity that started it all. It makes sense that now, without this living condition holding true, there would really be nothing left binding their romantic relationship together, if Doyoung really has lost all his feelings.

“We—we don’t have to break up,” Taeyong stammers, breathless. “We can take a break.”

He’s aware of how pitiful he might sound, but it doesn’t matter. Taeyong thinks Doyoung can’t expect him to not try and fight to keep their relationship when he’s—when he’s still in love with him.

“I know. I want that, I feel like I need a break right now. But I don’t want to be…attached, while I’m away.”

“You don’t want to feel bound.”

Chained up. Weighed down. An anchor that can’t be reeled up from the bottom of the ocean. Taeyong feels the hurt, feels irrationally insulted. Since when their relationship became this kind of an existence for Doyoung, Taeyong doesn’t know. Attached. He imagines a thread, a ribbon that runs between them, cut now by a pair of unknown hands, reaching out from the dark.

“I want to be single,” Doyoung explains, “I want to be truly alone, on my own, I want to be with myself and figure things out. I want that freedom. I want to remember what being single is like, or else I can’t get a good handle on what being with someone else means to me.”

“Are you tired of me?” Taeyong holds his voice steady. “Does it tire you out, living with someone else? Is that why you want to be alone?”

“It’s a part of the reason. Maybe we don’t always have to be together. It’s just…outside of work, my whole life is you, Taeyong.”

Taeyong takes a drink of water, just to avoid having to say something for a while.

“I understand,” he says at last, with a sigh, “you want to be alone. I’ll let you be alone for a while.”

Doyoung gulps. “Thank you.”

“When you’re on your own…do you want me gone? Out of the picture? No talking at all?”

Doyoung thinks about it. “No. It would be nice...I would like you to stay around, but I understand if you don’t want to. It would be nice if we can go back to being friends. I know it’ll never be the same again, but I’d like to…try to recover our relationship to some semblance of the way it was before we started dating.”

Taeyong snorts. “You know you're asking for the impossible?”

“It’s not…impossible.”

“But it’s not possible for me, right now.”

“I understand,” Doyoung looks down.

“Do you? I’m still in love with you, Dongyoung. Every time I see you I’m going to—I’ll be reminded of that. And on top of this love, I’m going to feel sadness too, and I’ll want to cry, and I’m going to want you back and love you to death at the same time. I don’t know how to be ‘friendly’ when I’m feeling like that.”

“I know. I’m not asking that of you, it’s just a selfish wish on my part.”

It’s not the same anymore. At some point, Doyoung made Taeyong fall in love with him, and now he can’t unlove him even if he wished. At least, Taeyong projects, not for a very long time. But he can live with that, if it means giving Doyoung what he needs.

Taeyong runs a hand through his hair. Inhales, exhales.

“You had to pick today to have this talk…you had such an important schedule,” Taeyong shakes his head.

“I know, but…this morning I woke up, and I just knew. I knew in my gut I found my answer.”

Taeyong nods slowly. “That’s fine. It’s just going to be a mess once you get back.”

“I might have cried at my manager. I think he understands.”

“Oh, Doie.”

Doyoung’s eyesbrows are knitted. He tilts his head to the side.

“It hurts me, you know? To do this. To hurt you. It was stressful to think about this confrontation, but more than that, it hurt. But of course I can’t be having it any worse than you are.”

“You know…I’m okay,” Taeyong says, just comes out of him. Even he’s surprised that he’s not feeling the rebound guilt of telling a lie. Maybe because it isn’t a lie. The pain he’s feeling right now feels disproportionate, considering how hard he loves Doyoung. Taeyong is a grown up now. He's handling it well. Maybe because he’s a little older now, a little more stable, a little better at holding himself together. Maybe because he’s not losing Doyoung’s love, not much of it at least. Doyoung treated him so kindly, knew exactly what to say so Taeyong never forgets how much he is valued. He broke the news to him in the lovingest way—the gentlest heartbreak.

“It’s okay if you aren’t okay,” Doyoung whispers.

“But I am,” Taeyong says, believing himself a little more. “It could have gone worse,” he says, thinking about himself in a pool of tears. “It’s…it’s not the worst thing that could happen.”

Doyoung is watching him, eyes full of empathy and concern.

“Hey…let’s eat.”

Doyoung gestures sadly at the food.

“It’s going cold.” 






Taeyong looks up from his food. 

“Is it the sex?”

Doyoung almost chokes.

“Yong,” he wipes his mouth. “It’s not.”

“Okay,” Taeyong murmurs. “I didn’t think so. Just making sure.”

Sex isn’t a big part of their relationship. Sex takes mood, takes energy, takes time, and for them who come back from work in the middle of the night, it’s hard to make these conditions align when the other option is to just crash into bed and pass out.

Even at the start, at the height of their romantic feelings for each other, they never went crazy over intimacy, although certain memories made during those times have been some of the most intensely they have ever felt about anyone in their lives. Physical intimacy was just another option. There was never an overt longing for such a thing, never during their years in the dorms together when they were exposed to each other's bodies all the time. Not to say there were never questions behind all the touches they were used to sharing—but to extend that train of thought to sex was a rare occurence is all. Their sexual desire only took shape after they had gotten together, as if realizing all of a sudden that this has now become another aspect of relationships they can explore with each other. The physical connection felt good. There is something precious to the feel of holding the bared body of your loved one in your arms, joined in the act of lovemaking.

But there are many ways to feel this intensely. There are many ways to make love.

Like preparing dinner, for example.

Taeyong chews the cabbage, crunch loud in the silence. “Do you still want to have sex?”

“…Nowadays, or…from now on?”


Doyoung chews on his lip for a while.

“Well…nowadays, I have no problem with the idea of us having sex. It’s just…not something I actively want anymore.”

Taeyong peeks up. “Then why did you let me last night?”

“Because…” Doyoung searches his words, not for long before he finds the real answer. “I love you,” he answers faintly.

Taeyong doesn’t know what to say, just swallows hard.

“What about from now on?”

Doyoung laughs helplessly. He reaches a hand across the table, palm up. “Let’s just be friends, Yong.”

After a moment, Taeyong reaches up and takes his hand, gives it a squeeze. He chuckles, too, and that’s the end of that line of conversation.

Doyoung feeds himself some rice, chewing. “I have this crazy thought…I think I’ve become asexual. I just don’t care about sex anymore.”

Taeyong thinks about it, shakes his head. “It’s not crazy. I can see it. I think you’re something like that, too. Compared to me, at least.”

Doyoung happens to look up and meet his eyes. Taeyong gives him a crooked smile.

“I think you’re crazy attractive. So beautiful. I want you all the time,” he adds for no good reason, laughing at his ridiculous self.






“I’m planning on moving my things back in two days, on the weekend.”

Taeyong stops chewing.

“So soon?” He almost gasps.

But then again. What’s over is over. What’s the point in staying around?

It’s the first time it hits him, the reality that he’s really going to have to go back to living alone from now on. All of a sudden, the loneliness feels overwhelming. His chest tightens.

“You know I'm not ready for this,” Taeyong croaks, even if he doesn’t mean to say it out loud.

“I know,” Doyoung sighs. “I tried to pick the best time, but with how busy you are it seems like there will never be a best time—”

“It’s not about how busy I am. I just don't feel ready for this.” Taeyong says, feeling so wronged.

He stares down at his nearly emptied bowl. There’s an evil voice inside his head, telling him it’s the last time he’ll taste Doyoung’s home cooking ever again, the last meal he’ll have together with Doyoung as his boyfriend, and the thought instantly breaks through all his mental barriers. He’s not ready. He’s not ready for this to end. It doesn’t matter how much understanding he can achieve through this conversation tonight, how much his rationality can keep the sadness at bay. This is the truth in the end. He’s not ready. He doesn’t want this.

Tears well up behind his eyerims, and Taeyong dabs at them with the back of his hand, forcing himself to finish the rest of his rice. A life without Doyoung to wake up to, to come home to.

Oh god. How did he ever think he was going to feel okay by the end of this?

“Thanks for the food,” Taeyong says, standing up abruptly from the table before he starts full on sobbing.

“Of course,” Doyoung replies, and he sounds a little broken himself.

Taeyong goes to set his dishes in the dishwasher. He hears Doyoung call his name, turns around.

“Are you okay?”

“No,” Taeyong says, and then, on the spot, decides, “I’m going for a walk.”

Doyoung starts to stand up, too, his eyes downcast and head bent, and Taeyong can’t see what kind of face he has on. “I’m going out for a while, too,” he says.

Taeyong watches Doyoung pocket the keys on the counter. He grabs his own jacket off the back of the chair, the same one he had just gotten out of 30 minutes earlier.

“When I come back…” Taeyong starts, looking away. “Well. Are you coming back tonight?”

“Yeah, I’ll be back. Not sure when, though.”

“Going for a drive?”


“Okay,” Taeyong says, “stay safe.” And he’s walking out the door.






Doyoung comes back after midnight. Taeyong knows because he’s still awake.

He’s lying on their bed, back to the door, crying silently into the pillow when the door to the bedroom creaks open.

Taeyong closes his eyes, suddenly wishing he could pretend to be asleep.

He feels Doyoung’s presence hovering over the bed for a while, and wonders if Doyoung is trying to judge whether he’s awake or asleep. Taeyong doesn’t know. Just knows that in a minute Doyoung’s clothes are falling to the floor, and he’s slipping into the other side of the blanket. It doesn’t take him a moment before he finds Taeyong underneath, rolling over so he can adhere himself to Taeyong’s back and wrap his arms around him tightly.

Taeyong doesn’t move. In the dark, he feels a head come up to rest against his shoulder.

Somehow, hugged like this, like they’ve done so many times for so many years, he can’t help himself from shaking in Doyoung’s arms. All of a sudden he’s sniffling, tearing up again, adding to the pool of wetness on the pillow fabric by his eyes.

“I don’t want to lose this,” he whispers. “I don’t want to lose you.”

Doyoung hugs him all the tighter.

Doyoung doesn’t utter any more apologies, any more empty words of comfort. Taeyong is glad. He just wants to hurt right now, and he just wants to be held through it for a little longer.

“You’re so important to me,” he hears instead, mumbled into his back, vibration giving him shivers. “I’m so grateful for what we have. I’m so glad I can be my real self around you and tell you what’s really on my mind. Thank you for loving me.”

Taeyong’s voice cracks. “I’m going to miss you so so much. You know I don’t handle it well on my own.”

Doyoung’s hand finds his own.

“But you can do it. I believe you can. And I’ll always be right here.”

Taeyong lies there. He knows it’s true, too. It’ll take time, but he will be okay.

Tears are streaming out of his eyes again.

“I wanted it all with you. I wanted to go all the way with you. I envisioned so many things for us, and now…”

Doyoung doesn’t say anything else. Anything else Taeyong mumbles, wants to tell him, wants to cry about, he listens, sharing the pain he has given him, trying to make it hurt a little less.

It hurts, but it’s necessary. 

They can get through this. They’ll make it out to the other side stronger. 






On Saturday, Doyoung moves his stuff out. It’s not much, actually, when it’s all been collected into boxes like this, even though it had felt like there were traces of Doyoung inlaid in every corner of Taeyong’s apartment.

In the parking lot, Taeyong watches him load up his trunk.

He looks down at the box he’s holding in his arms, full of plants of all sizes in pots and saucers, once set along the windowsill, interspersed with Taeyong’s own. They had never thought of these as anyone’s belongings. They were things they had each bought on their own, sure, but they had always been something the two of them raised together.

“I love these plants,” Taeyong sighs. “Take care of them.”

“You know I will,” Doyoung tells him.

Once he pushes the suitcase to the side, Doyoung takes the box from Taeyong, closes the trunk, and that’s the end of their one year of cohabitation.

“Well. This is it.” Taeyong says, hands on his back pockets.

Doyoung nods at him, not sure what to say.

Is this it? What exactly is coming to an end? He wonders.

After all, the sun will come up again tomorrow just the same, and when they open their eyes in their respective homes, one of them will have a “good morning” text waiting for them on their phone. Doyoung has the feeling that only then will they come to understand a little better how much they’ve truly lost, and how much they still truly have.

“No last words?” Taeyong pouts.

So Doyoung says, “it’s been wonderful. Thank you. Every day with you has been wonderful.”

He holds onto Taeyong’s arm and leans in, gives him a kiss on the cheek.

When he pulls away, Taeyong is blushing, but Doyoung can tell he’s pleased.

“Goodbye, Doie.”

“I’ll see you soon. Keep in touch.”






In the next couple of days, Taeyong cries (into the pillow) and screams (into the mic) and throws tantrums (at his manager). His life is inevitably disrupted, but there’s nothing he can do. He imagines Doyoung isn’t have it much better.

Taeyong is unreachable for a while. Doyoung figured.

Doyoung had been prepared to soften the blow for Taeyong and be there with him in the aftermath, but this is fine, too. He takes the opportunity to be truly on his own, exactly like he wanted.

Taeyong cancels all his schedules and goes on a trip with Johnny, Doyoung learns from phoning his family, after getting a little worried. Did you know he got dumped? His mother had said. I didn’t even know he was in a relationship! No, Doyoung had lied. He was really going through it. Seems like he really, really loved this person. I can’t believe I never even met her…

“That’s where he went,” Doyoung tells Gongmyung, the only other person on earth who knows about them, “he’s figuring himself out.”

“And what about you?” Says the static voice on speaker.

“Me?” Doyoung dabs at his sweat.

“How are you feeling?”

Doyoung straightens. He puts the broom and dustpan down. The floor—swept. No more dust. The counters are scrubbed. The things he had brought back had been mostly put away. The plants are on the floor near the window, and he’s waiting for his little bookcase to arrive so he can put them under the sun. Piece by piece, he is building something. Something of his own.

“I’m recovering,” he says in shock.

“From what?” His brother asks.

“No…” It’s not quite right. Doyoung leans against the counter. It’s not that he ever lost himself. It’s just that…in a pile of things, other things had gotten buried. “I’m rediscovering.”

“Are you sad at all?”

Doyoung thinks about it for a long time.

“More than anything, I’m excited,” he says instead.

“It’s a new chapter.”

“For sure.”

“I’m glad you’re doing this for yourself, Dongyoung.”

“Me too, hyung.” He smiles. “I love Taeyong, but…”

I love myself more.

Somehow, the thought makes him want to giggle.






Taeyong is back from his abrupt vacation, and he has discovered just how easy it is to slip back into being friends. It feels so effortless when it’s with Doyoung.

“Do you still feel sad about it?” Doyoung asks one day, a little crudely, albeit feeling comfortable enough to freely address the question. He’s lying sideways on his couch, and Taeyong is sitting on the carpet, nudging the corkscrew into a bottle of sparkling something he picked up to celebrate…whatever occasion this might be. A reunion of sorts. Taeyong seems relaxed enough. Jeju really did something for him.

“Hard to say,” Taeyong replies. “But being with Youngho for those four days definitely helped me reach some kind of enlightenment.”

It isn’t until Taeyong came over and saw what Doyoung had done with the place that he felt, for the first time, able to let it all go. For the sake of something greater. For Doyoung’s own happiness.

Led around the rooms, being shown Doyoung’s musical setup in the corner, listening to him talk excitedly about the new technology and projects, recording freely at 3 in the morning and so on…Taeyong thinks, these are just some of the things he can’t have when he’s living with me.

“It’s pretty great, isn’t it?”

“What is?”

“Being on your own.”

“It…” Doyoung thinks carefully about his words, even though the champagne is making his head woozy. “It has its merits.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying it,” Taeyong says, then pouts, “you better be enjoying it. You know how many people would die to have what you gave up in order to have this?”

“You are drunk,” Doyoung tells him.

“And you are…”

Taeyong looks into his eyes, holding his gaze.

“Lovely as ever,” he decides softly. “I’ve missed you. Come here and toast me.”






“You know what I realized?”


“No matter where I run away to, at this point I can’t live without you.”

“Wow. That’s really dramatic.”

“Just plain truth.”

“No. You definitely can. Live without me, I mean.”

“Maybe. But I definitely don’t want to.”

“Fair enough.”

“And…it’s not like I’ve lost you.”

“No.” Doyoung smiles softly, even if his eyes are closed.

“I’ve lost some things. Some dreams I had, sure. But that’s me living too much in the future. You’re still here. That’s all that matters.”

The hand covered by Doyoung’s hand flutters, fingers twitching, and Taeyong’s forefinger crosses over his pinky from underneath. Doyoung bends that finger, just to show that he’s still here, still present, listening.

“I realized there are so many ways to feel for you. Some of them come and go with time, it’s only natural. I’m glad I had the privilege to experience certain things with you. It’s sad to think they will never happen again, but there is so much else that does remain.

“Maybe you’ll find someone else later who you’ll feel attracted to again, maybe you won’t…but either way, if anyone wants to take you away from me, they’re going to have to get through me first.”

“It’s not a competition.”

“Yeah, it is. And I’ve already won because I have ten years of ‘friendship with Doyoung’ over them.”

“You’ll scare off everyone I try to befriend.”

“Good. Because I want to be your number one forever.”

Doyoung opens his eyes, and finds that Taeyong is watching him back.

“I can’t promise anything like that,” he says.

“Forever,” Taeyong repeats, drunk. He grabs Doyoung’s hands, shakes them. “Forever!”

Doyoung can only shake his head.

“Just…don’t make me jealous by loving someone else.”

“Um. No promises.”

“When that time comes,” Taeyong goes on, “then my heart will really break, I think. I’ll really have a broken heart thanks to you. But you know, I’ll deal with that when—I mean, if the time comes. I’ll deal with it. So what if it hurts, you know? So what if this hurts. It doesn’t matter if it hurts, as long as you’re happy. I just love you so much.”

Doyoung doesn’t know what to make of Taeyong’s tone at the end, but it makes him feel…

It makes him feel known. Understood.

He pauses for a long while.

“I didn’t want to tell you this, because I was afraid it would give you wrong ideas, but…”

“What is it?”

“I keep thinking that…I really don’t know if this is how things are going to end. Nothing ever really ends, I think, just changes all the time. I don’t know what’s going to change. Who knows? Maybe I might change my mind. You never know what the future holds.”

“Don’t get my hopes up, asshole.”

“I’m just saying. Never say never.”

“I’ll never stop loving you, though.”

“I just said not to say that.”

“Why not?”

“It’s not reasonable.”

“I don’t want to be reasonable,” Taeyong whines.

Then he sighs, deep from his chest, settling into something, some form of bliss he’s just starting to understand, like a dash of vermillion rising along the horizon. “Let me be a love-crazed fool. I just want to be like this for a little while longer.”