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Hard Feelings of Love

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Kim Doyoung loves his mother, really.

She’s a wonderful woman, and shaped himself and his brother into the men they are today for the better. But oh, does she love to talk.

He’s used to the calls that span over several hours, of course. Ever since he’d moved out for college, and now, well into his thirties, his mother was sure to call every night to assure he’d eaten a decent meal, was doing fine at work, and that he’d remembered to do the minuscule chores around his apartment that so often seemed to slip his mind ever since the incident. Yeah, that’s what he’d come to call it.

She’s on a particular spiel about a shopping trip she’d had with a group of friends that morning, recalling what she’d bought, asking questions here and there on the lines of whether Doyoung happened to need new socks or shirts, when the dreaded name comes up, as casually as any other comment. “Oh, Doyoungie, you do still talk to Taeyong, right? I saw a bracelet that was so much like something he’d wear, maybe you’d like to get it for his birthday. It was at the store nearest the fountain, where your brother got—“

Doyoung clears his throat, pushes round-framed glasses up his nose. He balances his phone between his shoulder and his ear as he puts away clean dishes, navigating around his kitchen, opening and closing various cupboards and drawers. “No, Mom— No. I don’t talk to him anymore.”

He says it in a way that he hopes makes it abundantly clear that he wants the topic to end there; but either that goes unnoticed, or ignored entirely.

“Why not?” She asks instead. “What a lovely man he is. Do you remember those flowers he got me when you first introduced him to us? How sweet,” The woman exhales, as if recalling the scent of the overly large bouquet Taeyong had insisted on picking up on the way to Doyoung’s parent’s place. “You can’t at least be friends with him?”

Doyoung exhales, setting down a plate at the counter to garner a proper grip on his phone, dangerously close to slipping. No, he can’t be friends with Taeyong. It was far too complex of a situation for friendship, or anything at all, for that matter, to ever exist between them again.

“No, I can’t,” He answers firmly. “I’d love to talk more, but I have a presentation to give tomorrow. Is it okay if we catch up after work tomorrow night?”

His mother hums, seeming to get the point with that. “Of course. Get a good night’s rest and don’t work too hard this week, alright?”

Doyoung fights back another exhale, nodding pointlessly. “Alright, Mom. I love you.”

“I love you too, Doyoungie. Goodnight.”

When he hears the woman hang up, Doyoung lowers his phone from his ear, places it on the counter.

She’d never explicitly told him it; had been all too focused on assuring that her son was fine, but Doyoung knew that his mother had been disappointed that Taeyong hadn’t turned out to be the one. He’d seen it on her face, heard it in her voice the moment he’d first told her of the breakup. She’d been happy to assume that Taeyong was the one her youngest son was going to marry, start a family with, grow old with. Doyoung, of course, had too. Hadn’t planned a future without him, in fact.

And yet, things don’t ever seem to work out that simply. Life isn’t a thing of fairytales, of constant happy-ever-afters. Things had fallen apart four years and ten months into their relationship, and at the fault of none other than himself, of course. He worked too much, didn’t care enough about anything outside of the office, and now he was stuck at a stage of his life where he very much should be marrying, beginning a family, and yet he isn’t, couldn’t possibly be further from any of it—

Doyoung shakes his head absentmindedly, puts the final plate away atop of a stack of others. Now isn’t the time to be dwelling over it. There is no time to be doing so, in actuality. It’s been five months, —Not that he’s counting— and Doyoung has bigger worries than a lost relationship right now.

For one, it’s the presentation at work tomorrow, which may or may not bring him over the long-awaited line of a promotion. As well as the nagging headache that’s beginning to form, that he very much needs to sleep off for the morning to come.

Numbly, he works through his typical night routine; showers, brushes his teeth, assures that his apartment is tidy, and lowers himself into his bed, sliding off his glasses and placing them delicately into a case that always sits at his sidetable.

And as he drifts to sleep, with a mind definitely not on Lee Taeyong, Doyoung hopes that a good week awaits him.

 

To some degree of luck, Taeyong isn’t the first thought that comes to his mind when he wakes up the following morning from a restless night’s sleep; prying exhausted eyes open and reaching for his glasses. Instead, his mind greets him with recognition of the atrocious headache stinging between his eyes, that not only had remained stubborn throughout the night; but worsened, from a dull pain to an almost blinding sensation.

A great start to the day, and the week, Doyoung idly thinks as he pushes up his glasses, runs fingers through his hair. Trudging over to his set of drawers, he opens the highest one, rummaging around for painkillers— And very quickly finds nothing. He exhales. Had he really run out?

Fine. He’d make a note on his phone to buy some the next time he went to get groceries, where he always kept impromptu shopping lists, adding items he’d run low on throughout the week. If too-complicated iPhones were good for one thing, it was grocery lists he wouldn’t lose. Whatever. So he’d met a few minor inconveniences within two minutes of being conscious— What’s the big deal?

Doyoung lifts his phone from where he’d left it the night earlier, squinting at the small screen, before the numbers it reads process. 8:16. He’d stupidly slept in almost an hour, and considering traffic made his drive to work thirty five minutes on a good day, Doyoung had approximately nine minutes to get himself out the door.

Rushing through the process of getting ready; fussing over his tie and bringing a comb through his hair, he finds his process halted when he’s readying to pack away his laptop, of which he’d spent his entire weekend slaving over, bringing his long awaited presentation to perfection, and notices that the screen doesn’t light up when he offhandedly presses a button on the keyboard.

Doyoung frowns, pressing another. Shit, shit, shit— It couldn’t be dead, could it? No, he’d definitely left it to charge overnight. He brings a finger to hold the power button; one second, two seconds, three seconds.

Nothing.

His heart begins to race, as he assures himself it had been plugged in, and still was. It wasn’t dead, so why wasn’t it turning on? He didn’t have a backup of the presentation, it was simply on the laptop, so if he didn’t have the stupid laptop working, he didn’t have a presentation.

Retrieving his phone from his pocket, Doyoung lets the screen light up to reveal the time once more; 8:24. Sighing irritably, he forces himself to pack the laptop into its bag, hoping to God that their latest intern, —and the only member of the company still in their twenties, a baby by their standards— Huang Renjun, would have any clue how to fix it.

 

Doyoung, though not even an hour into his day, should have known better than to feed into any illusion of hope. He’d barely managed to get to the office on time, with the Monday morning traffic being particularly more cruel than usual, and practically shoved the bag holding his laptop into Renjun’s lap.

The younger had promptly complained about how Doyoung had almost made him spill his coffee over his desk, but frankly, Doyoung couldn’t quite care less about the other’s morning beverage when the presentation was at risk.

The two had spent fifteen minutes or so turning the device upside down, pressing and holding various buttons, looking for some impossible visual indicator of the problem, and a following ten minutes scrolling through Google search results on Renjun’s computer, opening and closing forums deemed useless after a brief scroll through.

Come 9:30, neither had managed to make any progress.

“You didn’t like, memorise it?” Renjun questioned, as Doyoung exhaled irritably, packing away the useless device.

“No, Renjun, I didn’t memorise it. I can’t memorise twenty different charts over one weekend.”

“But you must remember some of it, right? Just do what you can without the laptop,” The younger leaned back in his chair, taking a long sip of his very likely cold coffee. “Fake it ‘till you make it, Doyoung. Good luck.”

Renjun had given him an enthusiastic thumbs-up as Doyoung had disappeared around the corner to one of the conference rooms, and yet it hadn’t helped in the slightest— Doyoung had completely ruined the presentation; stuttered over his words, lost his trails of thought, gestured to a screen that was blank, as if data were there. Without a doubt, it had been the worst he’d ever done in the job, perhaps ever, and the weight of it was all too crushing as he’d left the conference room, head still pounding with the insistent headache.

His brother had always told him he was a perfectionist, yet Doyoung didn’t see it like that that, exactly. Not in the way the other had put it. He wasn’t striving for perfection in everything he did. Instead, he simply saw perfection as the standard, and more than ever in the workplace. He’d been similar in school; crushed by any grade less than a hundred, any letter after an A. Yet this was the first instance of any kind of failure since becoming a part of the company several years back; and that made it all the more soul-destroying.

His family would also frequently remark about his fear of failure, and that, Doyoung certainly agreed with. Things weren’t meant to be failed. He lives a simple life, has no one or nothing to really care for outside of himself and his work, so why should he be failing in either of those things? He isn’t like the receptionist, Irene, a woman only a few years older than Doyoung, yet with a framed photo of herself, her wife, and her ten-year-old son at her desk, smiling at her every morning. And he isn’t like his supervisor, Kun, who though Doyoung’s age, knows half a dozen languages and travels more often in a year than Doyoung has in his lifetime, and he certainly isn’t anything like his friend from college, Jaehyun, who’d married his high school sweetheart just a few years after finishing his degree.

Doyoung wasn’t like any of his peers, any of his coworkers, or any of the friend suggestions that came up whenever he dared to venture onto Facebook. Doyoung was Doyoung; unmarried, introverted, and living in a miserable one-bedroom apartment. His job was essentially all he had— And if he fails at that, well, what else is there?

 

The rest of his day passes as dully as any other; with the addition of his headache, and a stale salad from an overly expensive place across the street from the office building, because Doyoung had lacked in the time it took to pack himself a sandwich for his lunch break. Though, much like any other, he finds himself lingering at his desk long after the clocks tick over five, and he’s mumbled goodbyes to the majority of his coworkers, and instead leaving a good few hours after; not only does it give him the chance to escape the typical end-of-workday traffic, but one to get ahead on some of his work with a quieter office space. He’d kind of prefer it to heading home on time, really, as it’s not like he has anything better to do at home, and he very much needs to make up for the earlier failed presentation.

When he does eventually leave the office, bidding a polite smile to the cleaner that he passes, who often is his only company this late after the end of the workday, Doyoung heads to the parking lot, pushing his glasses up his nose and enjoying the late-evening breeze. At least the day is over, surely, there isn’t anything more that can go wrong. He’ll go home, eat a sad microwave meal, speak to his mother, and fall asleep by 9:30, and probably wake up to a less unlucky day than the one he’d just had.

That’s the plan, at least, albeit a very simple one, and yet even that seems to crumple— When only a few minutes into his drive home does Doyoung take notice of something about his car feeling off. It’s nothing special, a cheap secondhand deal he’d gotten from a friend of his brother’s during his later college days, and only ever given him a handful of problems here and there, most of which Doyoung had been able to get help from Jaehyun’s now husband, —Jungwoo, who’d been a mechanical engineering student, and much more of a help regarding cars than any business students like Doyoung himself— but never before has he seen the temperature warning light flashing a violent red at him. He frowns, how could his car possibly be overheating? It’s the middle of fall, and a mostly pleasant temperature, and even in the hottest of summers he hasn’t ever seen such a warning from his vehicle.

He’s certainly not well-versed in cars, barely even so with the one he’s owned for over a decade now, but he knows he should take it seriously, and though he has the faint temptation to keep driving, because, well, the half hour drive surely can’t be too dangerous, and it’s not like any mechanic is open when it’s well and truly dark by now, but the increasing anxiety at his chest tells him to pull over, so he does.

Really, Doyoung should have expected something like this after the day he’d had, but no, the Monday just kept managing to outdo itself. Now at the side of an empty road, Doyoung exhales, sits unmoving for a moment before willing himself to get out of the car. He considers what Renjun had told him earlier— Fake it until you make it. Briefly, he decides that’ll be the approach he takes, but immediately upon lifting the hood of the car, and barely managing to correctly position the prop rod to keep the hood open, he quickly gives up. A momentary glance tells him well and truly that he does not know enough to be fiddling with anything in the moment, so he steps away, tugs his phone out of his back pocket.

Pressing his phone to his ear after finding Jaehyun’s contact, —Since he’d never gotten around to getting Jungwoo’s— Doyoung exhales, squeezes his eyes shut. The answer comes rather quickly, though before the older man has even a chance to open his mouth to speak, Jaehyun’s voice comes, “Hey, look— Can I get back to you in the morning? I’m swamped with work and looking after the kids tonight.”

“Jaehyun—“

“Thanks, Doyoung. Talk to you later.”

Before Doyoung’s even finished saying the other’s name, the lines left dead. He runs his tongue along his lower lip. Sometimes, it can’t help but slip his mind that not everyone’s lives are as uneventful and bland as his own.

Well, that was his one and only option out of the way. He could try his brother, sure, but he lived three hours away, and Doyoung wasn’t enough of an annoying younger sibling to demand that of the man on a weeknight. So he opts to take another look at the hood, looking once again over the engine, the battery, putting his every effort to trying to notice anything out of place— As if he’d even know what to do if he did correctly locate something wrong.

And then all at once, he finds himself accidentally knocking over the prop rod, and in a clumsy rush to restore it to it’s place, somehow accidentally manages to fling his glasses from his face in the process, sending them flying in the direction of the road. He does, at least, manage to save the hood from slamming shut and steady the rod once more, at the sacrifice of his vision. “Shit.” He mutters.

Doyoung certainly doesn’t have the worst eyesight in the world, and it’s mainly only reading and doing things on screens he struggles with, especially thanks to age— But it’s most certainly an inconvenience to not have his glasses, especially when the street light somewhat down the road is doing very little to assist him in seeing.

He looks around in the direction they’d gone. Truly, he’s beyond thinking his day can’t get any worse. Knowing the luck he’d woken up with that morning, he’d be lucky if he survived until the next one.

When Doyoung does find the glasses, laid face down on concrete, he exhales upon seeing a generous crack on the left lens. Of course. They were destroyed enough to be useless, unwearable, but above everything else terrible about the situation, he didn’t have another pair. And he certainly didn’t have time to go pick up another throughout the week, he wouldn’t have the chance until at least the weekend, but how could he get though an entire working week without being able to properly see, not to mention his car? He was fucked. That was it; the day had gotten the better of him. He was stuck, everything was ruined—

“Doyoung?”

In the midst of his dilemma, he hadn’t seemed to take notice of an all-too familiar white car pulling up somewhere ahead of his own, despite it having been one of the only few to pass him during his time there. Though his name brings him out of his thoughts, and even with his worsened vision, he could place the figure that approaches him anywhere.

“Taeyong.” He breathes.

Almost eight billion people in the world, and it was Taeyong that had to be the one to pull up on the side of the road to be a front-seat guest to the disaster that was Doyoung’s Monday.

He’d seen Taeyong a few times since the breakup. It had been difficult, at first, because several years together lead them to attend the same places; the same grocery stores, the same coffeeshops. Doyoung had opted to be the one to change his patterns after seeing Taeyong in the frozen food aisle or ordering a drink one too many times, and make the extra drives to ones outside of the area.

When he’s closer, Doyoung can make out his expression better; his pretty features painted with light concern, dark strands of hair framing his face in the way they always seemed to after a long day of work, yet nothing else specific that he can make out.

Taeyong hadn’t changed, of course. Neither of them had at such a stage of their lives, or only a few months apart, and it was as if the man that approaches Doyoung were the same one that he’d fallen in love with in his twenties, and planned to live the rest of his life with. When things had felt so simple, so straightforward, and his future seemed so much less like the blur of nothingness that it was now—

“What happened to your glasses?”

It’s the first thing Taeyong asks, the first thing he says, and destroys any illusion Doyoung could have hid himself within that they were strangers, and had nothing of a past together. There was no introduction, no small talk— Taeyong had never been like that, and after years of painfully bland conversations in the elevators of the office building, Doyoung could never be more grateful to come home to the fruitful conversations of Taeyong, on everything from a Spongebob episode to how his sister was doing.

He clears his throat. “I um— Knocked them off while trying to fix my car.” He tells, the explanation feeling about a thousand times more stupid than it was.

“Your car?” Taeyong echoes, glancing to Doyoung’s car, hood still propped open. “What a day you’re having.”

“You don’t even know the half of it.” Doyoung attempts for it to be a joke, with the somewhat lighthearted exhale that follows his words, but he knows well that all it comes off as is sad. Which, well, is probably fair, because if he can’t describe the day he’s had as sad, the day that had started with a mere headache and somehow lead to him with a broken down car and ruined glasses, on the side of the road with his ex, then how could he?

Slowly, Taeyong begins to approach Doyoung’s car, the taller following in his footsteps— Not too closely, of course. “Did you call Jungwoo?”

Right. Taeyong knew of Doyoung’s friends, and Doyoung knew of his. Friends that had once been one another’s too, in lives that had once been melted together. Indirectly, the couple had been the reason they’d met in the first place.

“I tried Jaehyun, but they seemed pretty busy with the kids tonight, so...“

“Ah.” The other man nods, and Doyoung notices his lips purse in the way they always do when he wants to say or ask something further, but decides against it. He hates that those are still things he picks up on, feels as if he doesn’t have the right to read him like that anymore.

Doyoung knows well that Taeyong’s even more clueless when it comes to cars than himself, yet watches in silence as his eyes scan over the contents of the hood, in the same fashion Doyoung’s had earlier. If possible, he’d feel his headache worsening with the strain it takes him to see the details of it all, broken glasses still in his hands, where a finger absentmindedly runs over the arm.

There’s a period of silence between them before Taeyong seems to give up on inspecting the car, and turns his gaze to Doyoung. “You know, I can’t really help with the car, but— I do still have a spare pair of glasses at my place, if you need them.”

Doyoung swallows. They’d never really done the whole, ‘getting each other’s stuff from one another’s apartments’ stage of the breakup; leaving Doyoung with an abundance of Taeyong’s belongings that he had no real clue what to do with. Eventually, he’d opted to store all of the articles of clothing, earphones, and whatever else he’d found of the other’s in a drawer, alongside his key to his apartment; told himself the out of sight, out of mind nonsense.

Part of him had assumed Taeyong would have discarded things like that— Particularly his glasses, because quite literally no one on Earth would find use for them except for himself, and that part of him seems to feel his heart warm in the slightest at the knowledge that Taeyong had kept his stuff.

Quickly, he shuts down that part of himself. Taeyong wasn’t a wasteful person; that was it. There was no other intentions of why he would keep Doyoung’s belongings around.

It’s very much the best opportunity he has at trying to resume the normality of his week, and practically the only one he has at being able to properly see until at least that weekend— But he forces reluctance upon himself. This is his ex, not a friend, not someone he could so casually rely on for things like this.

“You’re welcome to stay the night, you know,” Taeyong continues, and it’s so much like him. Always putting others first, always willing to inconvenience himself for the sake of bettering other’s circumstances. Though both were rather introverted, Taeyong was very much the more extroverted of the two; more open, always more willing to accept changes. Doyoung had once thought it was one of the endless things that made them work together perfectly. “You can get your glasses, and I can take you to work in the morning, and you can get your car sorted out tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be anything, um— Awkward, or weird, just... Yeah.”

Awkwardness had lingered in the air from the moment Taeyong had pulled up, and Doyoung was sure both of them were very much aware of that.

The offer is kindhearted, genuine, and the best Doyoung is going to get. Without it, he’s not sure how he’d get to work when the morning came, nor how he’d be able to even see properly. With the factor of Taeyong being his ex aside, there would be no hesitation in accepting it, other than a faint worry that he was being a greater inconvenience than anyone should be on a weeknight. But the ex factor was incredibly large and weighing, this was Taeyong, and this was an apartment he’d spent more time at than his own at some points, this was going back to years worth of positive memories that were far from his reach.

“Are you sure?” He questions, almost inviting Taeyong to say no, to give him a reason to not give into the offer. He can’t even paint it as something friendly, because they aren’t friends. He’d made such abundantly clear to his mother the night prior. Just because things had left off on decent terms, and there’d been no ill-intent towards one another, it didn’t mean they could turn years worth of feelings into something platonic. Back then, it had seemed easier to cut things off entirely.

Taeyong nods, seems to chew at the inside of his cheek for a moment. “Of course, Doyoung.” Another purse of his lips.

Doyoung too, finds something he wants to say left unspoken. A one worded question— A why. Why, with all things considered, did Doyoung deserve this from Taeyong?

As the air of the night becomes colder, and his head only aches further, Doyoung wills out a reluctant, positive response.

 

As Doyoung, for the first time in what's nearing half a year, enters Taeyong's apartment, what strikes him first is how much it smells like him. Traces of the cologne he wears, the comforting scent of his diffuser, a distant hint of something Taeyong must have recently cooked. He'd thought much over the visual and auditory hints of the other's presence that he'd come to grow used to being without; but the scents, the whiff of an often-used candle Taeyong's mother had given him, the strong reminder of the blueberry scent he'd worn all their time together, he'd never paid all too much attention to; not until now.

Even with them aside, the apartment's a standing time capsule of the former relationship. Taeyong hasn't substantially changed anything, and every piece of furniture tells the story of what they'd used to have— The countless times they'd fallen asleep together on the couch, the meals they'd cooked while swiftly navigating around each other within the kitchen, the balcony they'd share conversations about both everything and nothing at all for hours on end, wine glasses in hands, laughter in the air; Doyoung didn't even want to consider the memories that would resurface at the sight of Taeyong's room.

And there, it's so, so easy to feel as if he misses it. The simplicity of it all, how natural it felt to have Taeyong as such a significant part of his life.

They hadn't been far from moving in with each other, perhaps it had even been overdue. Perhaps it had been lingering at the front of Taeyong's mind for all too long, while Doyoung's own was all too plagued with thoughts of work, of the promotion he was surely going to get eventually, or the time he couldn't spare to devote to going through a move—

No. He didn't miss it. Maybe in the first few weeks, the initial months, but not now. He was over it, over Taeyong, and well and truly past missing what once was.

Taeyong wanders off quickly, saying something about finding Doyoung's glasses, and the taller's left to let strained eyes scan over shelves of the living room, taking in Taeyong's much more generous decor than his own; collectibles, candles, books, albums. Taeyong had the type of personality that could speak so loud without him physically being there. Doyoung knew quite the opposite was the case for himself.

There had been some changes, albeit subtle, to the arrangements of the shelf decorations; namely, a few missing picture frames. Picture frames that had once held memories of the two of them; cheesy date selfies, them attending Jungwoo and Jaehyun's wedding. One, however, still remains on the center shelf, a faded purple frame, a photo that had been taken on Doyoung's birthday— Still fairly early into their relationship; they'd attended dinner with both of their families; allowed them to properly meet.

It had gone perfectly, much like everything between them did up until a certain point, their parents getting along well, their siblings friendly with another. Taeyong's sister had offered a teasing comment to Doyoung about what would happen if he were ever hurt her brother, though the other's mother had been only sincere, bringing him aside before leaving to thank him for all he'd done for her only son. Much like his own mother, she'd never outright said anything regarding thoughts of Doyoung and Taeyong one day marrying, but very much did it feel like the implication was there. And in all honesty, Doyoung had been more than okay with such.

The photo, however, pictured only the two of them, Taeyong kissing Doyoung's cheek, Doyoung with an arm around the other's waist, drawing him closer to himself. Lifting it to closer squint at the details of it; he presses his lips into a line, barely recognising the smile that the Doyoung within the photo offers. Why would Taeyong still have this up? Admittedly, Doyoung still had the many photos of them stored on his phone, but then again, he never really seemed to get around to deleting photos, especially not ones that held any kind of significance—

It takes him a little too long to register that Taeyong had returned, beige glasses case in hand, yet he lingers in place, silent. Eyes find each other, and Doyoung processes that he's still holding the frame, slowly places it back in robotic movements. Okay, great to know the terrible luck hadn't come to an end yet, he thinks, wondering what's worse than having his ex catch him longingly staring at a photo from the long-lived peak of their relationship.

Taeyong exchanges the case to his other hand, clears his throat quietly. "I tried looking around, but I um— Couldn't find any of that cleaning stuff you use, so I hope that doesn't matter too much..." He extends the hand that now holds the glasses to Doyoung, steps closer.

Doyoung quickly shakes his head, dismissing any need at all for an apology. "No, not at all. Thank you for doing all of this, really." He tells, carefully bringing his hand to meet the case. It does, as well as making gentle fingers collide with Taeyong's— Though neither brush away the contact, neither move away from it. It's thoughtless, offhanded, and above all, feels so miserably familiar, to share such a soft touch between them. Habitually, eyes meet one another's, and in the minimal lighting of Taeyong's apartment, with the instinctive intimacy, Doyoung's mind dares to trick him into believing that nothing's changed.

He lets it.

Lets distance close, lets his free hand glide to Taeyong's cheek, and lets lips collide, all in one clean, experienced movement.

It's good. It's too good, too natural to fall back into, too relieving to feel the other's soft lips against his own, to taste traces of the chapstick Taeyong always wears.

Doyoung hates himself for it, for giving into such an easy temptation. For how choreographed their movements feel, and for how instinctively he brings a hand to the other's side, and how his other mindlessly places the glasses case amongst the shelf he'd just lingered by, thoughts so quickly becoming crowded with nothing but Taeyong.

In a surge of movement that feels out of his own control, Doyoung's manoeuvring Taeyong to the nearest wall, pressing him against it and allowing their kiss to deepen, hand at the other's hip, while Taeyong's fingers tangle through his hair.

It's as if his body is running on a mind of its own, driven by the months of unacknowledged desire. Doyoung had made himself push that aspect of things aside— The physical neglect that came with going from having an active sex life to none at all, and perhaps that all came catching up to him now that he had his tongue down the throat of the man he used to love.

Taeyong had always been needy; sensitive. Whining and gasping under Doyoung's every touch and movement, breathy noises against the taller's lips. It's as if no time apart them has passed, as if this could have been any other night, where gentle touches and too much wine would lead them to a position much like this one.

Doyoung slips fingers beneath the shirt that Taeyong wears, brushes fingertips over the warm, welcoming skin of his abdomen— Why did everything about him have to be so welcoming?

When they part for air, Taeyong gives a soft exhale, and for just a moment their eyes meet, and the world seems like it freezes in place, then and there. Doyoung wonders if what goes on in the other's head is even a fraction as complex of a mess as is his own, or if Taeyong too, is considering the potential of asking what this is, what this means. Regardless of it all, no words leave either of them, and the world's resuming its pace again the instant Taeyong's gaze leaves his, making Doyoung swallow firmly, lips stinging with Taeyong's lingering taste.

Should he be the one to say something? What even is there to say? Should he apologise, should he leave? Had both of them had a deep-rooted expectation of something like this happening, from the moment Doyoung had agreed to stay?

Neither were the type for hasty one-night stands. They were all too old for that kind of thing. And that factor brought upon a dozen more questions for Doyoung; they both knew that, yet there they were there, with swollen lips and already messy hair. Was it the familiarity of it all? The illusion of standing in a place of the past together?

Not a single question passes his lips, though, and instead he gives into the nagging sensation at his core, maintains a grip at Taeyong's wrist and encourages him in the direction of the older's bedroom; a wordless ask.

Taeyong offers a hum of agreement, easing a fraction of the anxiety working itself up within Doyoung's chest.

They knew what each other liked. Doyoung knew Taeyong liked things rough, and Taeyong knew Doyoung liked being possessive. They knew exactly how to fall amongst one another in Taeyong's bed, Doyoung knew every weak spot of Taeyong's, as if he were a book he'd read a thousand times. Taeyong had become an expert in unbuttoning Doyoung's shirts and ridding him of his ties without having to separate their lips even once, and Doyoung knew the angle to rock his hips against the other's at to earn a pretty noise into the kiss.

It hadn't always been that way, of course, in the early stages of their relationship, it'd been soft giggles, mumbled apologies from Doyoung whenever he felt as if he'd accidentally hurt Taeyong, —Though Taeyong had insisted that was the whole point, and Doyoung had grown to perhaps like it even more than the other— awkwardly tangled limbs and breathless compliments to one another, but it was them, and a lot more them than the two of them that were there now.

Briefly parting from the kiss that had eased into messy, lazy movements, Doyoung shrugs off his shirt, and attempts to do the same for the countless memories that plague his mind, Taeyong's all too fucking addicting laugh—

Mindlessly, he takes the other's hand that rests at his own side and brings it to pin above his head, amongst the pillows at the head of the bed, other hand trailing along Taeyong's thigh, perching at the zipper of the pants he wears, experimental fingertips brushing over the material.

"Doyoung." Taeyong finally mutters, the one to break the heavy silence that had weighed over them.

"Taeyong," Doyoung thoughtlessly echoes, despising how natural the other's name still feels at his tongue. He contemplates resuming their kiss to prevent further words from burdening the air, feeling as if the more they speak, the more it welcomes questions to arise, but finds the next words coming all too naturally. "Are you sure about this?"

Doyoung tries not to focus on the gaze that looks up to him, the large eyes he'd fallen in love with losing himself in. God, it's so much more difficult to remind himself that he doesn't miss the other man when he's laid between his legs, and when Taeyong looks so damn pretty with swollen lips and reddened cheeks.

"Yeah," Taeyong answers, voice soft and breathy, all too inviting. "Are you?"

He nods, until he realises the other's awaiting a verbal response. "I am, yeah."

With that, Taeyong gives his own nod, and Doyoung's mirroring the movement all over again, until their lips once more connect.

It's initially on the timid side, both men's confidence having faded in the brief conversation, but it doesn't take long for it to progress to how it works best— Messy, lazy movements, bodies pressed against one another, Taeyong's fingers trailing along Doyoung's bare sides.

A thoughtless act of habit brings Doyoung to attach lips to the warm skin of Taeyong's neck, sucking softly. And with eyes shut, with nothing to focus on but the taste of the other's skin and the shaky breaths that fall from his lips, Doyoung can feel much like he's stepped back in time.

He dips a hand underneath Taeyong's shirt, lets fingertips move upwards until they're at his chest, thumb ever-so-softly grazing over the other's nipple. Predictably, Taeyong gasps at this, and Doyoung almost loses his mind at how his back arches, how his hips rise in search of contact with his own— How on earth had he gone so long without this?

Perhaps a hickey hadn't been the wisest decision, not when Taeyong wasn't exactly his to mark anymore, but Doyoung absolutely can't deny the surge of his heart when he leans back to get a good look at the darkened patch of skin.

"Off." He mutters, fingers on the waistband of the too-tight leather pants Taeyong wears so often— Doyoung, with not much more to his closet than dress pants and button-up shirts, can't say he shares the sense of fashion, but he's certainly not going to complain when Taeyong's thighs look as good as they do in them.

He wills himself to retract from their closeness before he can spare too much of a glance to Taeyong's expression.

In the few moments where he lingers on the edge of the bed, fishing around in the drawer of the side-table that had once been unofficially his, Doyoung allows his mind to foolishly entertain the thought of leaving. Foolish, it very much is, because he knows the very last thing he's going to do is leave the room when he's already come in contact with the bottle of lube, and his free hand is already working away at the button of his pants, so instinctively.

With an exhale, he eventually succeeds with the button, tugs off his pants as Taeyong does the same.

Lube bottle still within one hand, he lets a hasty kiss resume between them, thumb opening the cap with a pleasing pop sound. Doyoung aches, aches with need, aches with familiarity, aches with a dozen different things that only Taeyong can ignite within himself.

A grip finds Taeyong's thigh, encourages his legs further apart, letting out a low, impressed hum at the other's flexibility— Had it improved since the last time they'd done this? Of course it had, he was a dancer after all, always bettering his ability, always active, so incredibly opposite Doyoung.

He can practically run on autopilot with how natural the process comes to him. He's prepped Taeyong so many times before; mumbled words of encouragement in his ear, left kisses at the corners of his lips, curled his fingers inside of him until the noises he makes are an incoherent mess, and yet it makes his heart race much like the first time, much like when things were new, and not the faded kind of familiar they were now.

"Wanna ride you." Taeyong breathily tells him when he retracts lubed fingers, and Doyoung has to fight off a groan at the words.

"Yeah?" He exhales, because who on earth would he be to deny such a thing when Taeyong, ex or not, looks so pretty on his cock? "Okay."

Repositioning them, Doyoung settles with his back against the head of the bed, shaky fingers returning to the lube bottle he'd abandoned, only for Taeyong to swiftly take it from him. Doyoung, breathing shallow and mind a mess, watches as Taeyong pours a generous amount into the palm of his hand, spreads it over his fingers, and takes Doyoung's cock into a tight, all-too welcoming grip.

"Fuck." It breathily draws out of Doyoung, resting his head briefly against the wall behind him. Taeyong is good, too good, and God, Doyoung's own hand will never do justice to his.

Taeyong jerks him off a few times to properly spread the lube along his length, even filthily leans down to spit on Doyoung's cock, and Doyoung's surprised he doesn't lose it then and there.

The other soon positions himself, slender fingers still on Doyoung's length to align himself correctly, and Doyoung's grip instinctively finds place at Taeyong's hip, fingers digging so harshly into the skin that he'll surely leave bruises in its wake— If his thoughts were a little more coherent, he'd dwell over the dilemma of leaving bruises that were once welcomed on his ex.

Taeyong slowly lowers himself onto Doyoung's cock, while Doyoung's other hand moves to hold onto the other's arm, steadying him through the movement. One of the two tugs the other forward into yet another kiss, masking the chorus of sounds that comes from both of them, and Doyoung's mind so quickly loses sense of anything and everything but Taeyong; Taeyong's warmth against him, Taeyong's wandering fingers finding their way to the hair at the back of his own neck, Taeyong rocking his hips forward, Taeyong.

"Jesus Christ, Taeyong..." Doyoung finds himself letting out under his breath, during one of the few brief instances where they separate for air, grip at Taeyong's hip only tightening, his sense of possessiveness all too quick to taint the illusion he's trying to believe. Because Taeyong has always been his; his to hold, his to kiss, his to compliment, his to fuck—

And maybe Taeyong senses the harshened grip, or God, maybe he reads Doyoung's damn mind, because in a voice that Doyoung could easily miss, the other mumbles, "No one's ever gonna make me feel like you do, Doyoung."

 

Throughout a rough night's rest, it isn't the 'sex with his ex' part of things that so heavily burdens Doyoung's mind, its those very words that Taeyong had so casually spoken. More than likely, there was nothing to them. It was what Doyoung liked to hear, and Taeyong knew that. They were caught up in the moment, so stuck in familiarity that maybe it had simply just happened.

But that, accompanied with the picture Doyoung had seen, still kept up and framed—

No. What is he doing? What is he allowing himself to think? Taeyong had been the one to break things off.

Any 8am car-ride with an ex is destined to be awkward, but the night prior leads the air to be thick with tension, with unspoken questions to plague every second they spend sat in the morning traffic, and greet Doyoung with a sensation within his chest that he seems to be becoming so acquainted with.

The atmosphere isn't bad, per-say, nor quite uncomfortable, and there's a few instances where they manage to engage in small talk; the most painful small talk ever, mind you, regarding the weather and the traffic and the news of Taeyong's friend Ten recently having gotten engaged, but nothing more than that.

Thankfully, Doyoung can find an escape in making a phone call to Jaehyun, who subsequently hands the phone to Jungwoo, the younger walking Doyoung through the process of arranging to get his car sorted out by the time he'd finish work.

It's just as Taeyong's turning into the street of Doyoung's workplace that he bids Jungwoo goodbye, wishes him luck in taking the kids to school, —Because such is proving to be quite a handful these days— and really, Doyoung assumes that's that. When Taeyong pulls into the parking lot, and Doyoung thanks him for the ride, he assumes things, if there were any to begin with, would end there. They'd go back to the new normality of not interfering with one another's love, and forget about the night prior.

But nothing seems to go as simply as he plans that week, when Taeyong clears his throat, drawing Doyoung's attention back to him. "Doyoung, wait—"

Doyoung, already having half closed the passenger door after himself, falters, and leans down to look through the rolled-down window. "Yeah?"

"Do you still have my number?"

He's really not sure what kind of question he'd expected, yet the one he gets makes him blink in surprise. "Oh— Of course I do."

Should he not? Should he have deleted it? Had Taeyong deleted his?

Taeyong briefly purses his lips, swallows and runs his hand over the steering wheel. They'd fallen asleep together, and the other had appeared to have a much better rest than Doyoung himself, his eyes holding the typical brightness Doyoung had once been so used to seeing everyday.

"Do you think you could text me later?" The other questions, brings fingers to brush through his hair, fidgety in the way he always is when something is on his mind. "Just so I can know you got your car fixed, and ended up home fine, and all that stuff."

Doyoung falls silent for what's very likely a beat too long. The request is so simple— But couldn't feel further from such a thing. Taeyong was a caring person; selfless and sincere, that was evident enough in the many things he'd offered Doyoung since coming across him the night earlier. But this was more than a kindhearted offer, this was something that felt awfully intimate. As intimate as something like that could be, with what they'd done considered.

"Sure," Doyoung finds himself answering. "I will. I'll see you around, Taeyong."

He sees the corners of Tayeong's lips rise with the ghost of a smile. "Yeah. Have a good day, Doyoung."

 

Doyoung's head spins as he enters the building, every occurrence since he had left the evening earlier feeling like a complete fever dream. He massages his temple as he nods to the receptionist, smiles politely at a few coworkers that he passes and navigates to his desk.

Beside his, Renjun sits at his own, tapping through Instagram stories and taking sips from his usual coffee. The younger barely acknowledges Doyoung's presence, only making a half-effort humming noise upon hearing the man pull his chair from his desk.

"Morning. You were almost late—" Renjun must glance in his direction, because his words stop short. "Is that the same clothes as yesterday I see? Oh my God, Doyoung, were you with someone on a weeknight? How scandalous—"

"Renjun." Doyoung complains, leaning back in his chair with a heavy exhale. Once Renjun gets set on something like this, —not that Doyoung's ever shown up to work after fucking his ex the night before, but still— he never lets it go.

"Oh come on, you can tell me. You're on those hook-up apps, aren't you? Like Grindr? I knew you were a total DILF at heart—"

"A what?"

"And really, I could use the gossip. You know the most exciting thing that's happened all month is Irene's son's soccer team getting in the local newspaper? Like, yeah, I guess that's cool and all, but it's all they talk about over at reception and I'm really getting tired of it. Seriously, a company full of middle aged people and no one's got any good divorce drama going on? No custody battles? Nothing?"

Doyoung shakes his head at the other's rant. God, young people these days. "Look, Renjun, I'll tell you if you help me with something, alright?"

Renjun exhales, putting down his coffee. "It's not that fucking laptop, is it?"

"No," The older responds immediately. "It's, well— Texting."

"Texting? Oh my God, Doyoung, you're 35, not 80."

"I know how to text!" He defends. This intern is going to be the death of him. "I just need to— To know how to text in a specific scenario, okay?"

Renjun tilts his head. "And what scenario is that?"

"Okay, well, say you have an ex—"

"I have a boyfriend."

"It's an example, Renjun. Say you have an ex. An ex that you were really serious with. And say you happened to... end up spending time with said ex, and then that ex tells you to text him to make sure you get home safely and all that. How, exactly, would you send a text like that? What would you say? Would you include emojis? What emojis? And would you strike up a conversation or just leave it at that?"

Renjun's incredibly quiet for a moment, before something seems to click. "Holy shit. You hooked up with Taeyong?"

"Renjun!" Doyoung huffs, making not at all subtle gestures for him to speak quieter, if he doesn't want to be the new topic of office gossip after the newspaper situation dies down, that is.

It had practically slipped his mind, as many things had in the last 24 hours, that the majority of his coworkers were familiar with Taeyong, who often would stop by during lunch breaks to drop off a meal, or something Doyoung had stupidly forgotten. His days were flexible, as the owner of a dance studio, meaning that he'd frequent the office whenever nearby, never failing to be the highlight of Doyoung's day. Some of his coworkers, including Renjun, had questioned Taeyong's lack of visits, but the majority seemed to put two and two together.

"Yes, okay, I did. Now please just shut up and answer my questions."

 

Despite the advice Renjun had given him regarding emoji usage, Doyoung spends an awful lot of time stared at his phone screen that night, thumbs hovering over the keyboard, chewing slightly at the inside of his cheek.

It seemed his Tuesday was going substantially better than his Monday; he'd managed to arrange to get his car towed and dealt with, and picked it up thanks to a ride from Renjun, and he was finally freed of the headache he was beginning to think may be permanent, but his mind felt incredibly stuck.

It had since the moment he'd woken up that morning, and he'd slowly processed where he was, and the occurrences of the night before. But particularly, his thoughts lingered on something in particular Renjun had said while the pair where in the midst of their intense texting-your-ex-etiquette discussion, "What do you want for the two of you?"

He hadn't answered; hadn't been able to, and brushed the question aside to instead ask which smiley face emoji was the most appropriate.

Frankly, the question put him at a standstill. He didn't know what he wanted, and even after hours of thought, he still doesn't. Before yesterday, he didn't have to consider things with Taeyong as anything other than straightforward. They had broken up, that was that.

But now, after a night together and a request that shouldn't feel as intimate as it does, the situation feels a little more complex than it had 48 hours ago.

Sure, they could be apart of one another's lives again. Maybe they could work as friends.

That's all Doyoung's willing to allow himself to consider, though.

Unsure thumbs slowly navigate the lower half of the phone screen, after habitually pushing his glasses up his nose.

Hey. Just letting you know I was able to pick up my car and get home fine. Thanks for your help last night and this morning.

Along with the message, he adds a smiley face emoji, —The one Renjun had said was the worst of the selection his iPhone keyboard offered, but Doyoung thought it was cute, and conveyed what it was supposed to— and after some reluctance, hits send. He can't believe he's here, sat on his couch, nervous over sending a text to the man he'd came inside of last night, but he is.

He locks the device, puts it aside with faux carelessness, and turns his attention to the TV ahead of him, playing some drama he isn't at all invested in. He'd spoken to his mother earlier, filled her in with selective details of why he hadn't called the night prior— His car had broken down, and he'd spent the night at a friend's place, it was all sorted now.

It must be less than five minutes after sending the text that a notification loudly chimes from his phone, and Doyoung straightens, wills himself to wait a moment or two before picking up his phone and squinting to read the notification displayed on the screen.

Oh, that's great. I hope you had a better day today?

A question mark. Taeyong wants him to reply, inviting a conversation—

Is it too late to call Renjun for help?

No, he isn't going to become completely reliant on an intern to text his ex.

Leaning back into the cushions of the couch, Doyoung exhales heavily, types out another message.

I did. Was yours okay?

A reply comes sooner than the last.

It was! I saw Jaehyun actually, he brought Jisung in for his class.

Doyoung's heart surges with that, and the memory it resurfaces.

Nearing five years ago, Jaehyun and Jungwoo had been just as occupied with two full-time jobs and two children as they are now, likely even more so. Doyoung, the unmarried of the friend group, with a substantial amount of free time in comparison to the couple, had offered if they needed anything, to let him know.

A few instances they had, needing him to pick up something from the store, or take one of the kids somewhere, —It was around that time that Jisung and Sungchan had started really calling Doyoung their uncle— though it was a particular occasion where Jaehyun had asked Doyoung to take Jisung to the local dance studio, where he'd recently picked up classes, that stuck in the man's mind. Doyoung had already heard all about the classes from Jisung; they were what soccer was to the other's older brother, and he'd driven him there.

He really didn't think all too much of it. And apart from a brief wrong turn, as he couldn't say he'd ever attended the dance studio, or any for that matter, it was a simple enough task. He'd taken Jisung inside, listened to the boy tell him about a drawing he'd made in class that day, and let him lead him to the appropriate room.

There, Doyoung had first seen Taeyong, and in a ridiculously cheesy moment that feels straight out of the dramas he leaves playing on the TV he gives barely any mind to, time felt as if it slowed to a near-halt. The other was occupied, explaining some kind of dance terminology to a kid around Jisung's age, but had soon taken notice of his presence, and approached the doorframe.

Jisung had already run off to join the boy Taeyong had just spoken to, —Shotaro, Jisung would later inform Doyoung— and Doyoung really couldn't place why his heart was racing in the presence of who he could only assume was a dance teacher. Two years later would he become the owner of the studio.

"Have I met you before?" Taeyong had asked with a raised brow, though it was far from an intimidating greeting; Doyoung didn't think any person could ever be less intimidating than the Taeyong that would eventually become his.

"No," Doyoung exhaled, a faint smile upon his lips. "I'm not— Not Jisung's dad or anything, just a friend of his parents."

"I know, I've met Jungwoo and Jaehyun before," Taeyong chuckled. "I'm Taeyong. I teach this class.”

Doyoung had been the one to extend his hand, and Taeyong had taken it, touch warm and soft. "Doyoung." He introduced himself.

"Doyoung," Taeyong echoed, as if testing how the name had sounded in his own voice. Very quickly had Doyoung decided he'd never loved hearing his own name more. "I hope I see you again."

And again, they had, when Doyoung had offered to take Jisung again the next week, just to see the man again. It was then they'd exchanged numbers, and from there they'd begun to get to know each other, and eventually date.

 

That night is the start of what very quickly becomes normality, conversations over text during the evenings, filling in one another on the events of their days, the going ons on work— And like that, it's terribly easy to fall back into almost how things used to be, inside jokes and recalled memories of things they'd once experienced one another.

It's as if Doyoung had been living with a vacant place beside him, and so effortlessly, Taeyong had come to fill the space, like he'd never left it to begin with. He fits back into his life much like a puzzle piece, and yet, Doyoung isn't entirely sure he wants to let him.

When the text conversations progress to the occasional meetup for coffee, Doyoung's less sure than ever. They can be friends, of course, and maybe even friends who's meetups feel suspiciously like the dates they'd once had— But he's sure that's all they'll be. Surely, if they were meant to be the couple they once were, wouldn't they have stayed that way to begin with?

Perhaps there's a denial to it all; a denial to the way Doyoung's heart skips a beat whenever he and Taeyong share offhanded contact, or when his phone lights up with a message from the other, and the distant, longing sensation within his core whenever he has the urge to snake his arm around Taeyong in public, or place a gentle kiss on his lips whenever their time together comes to an end, because Doyoung needs to get home to work on whatever he's most recently been assigned at work.

He won't let himself acknowledge any of it, won't let himself feed into the nagging desire his heart.

He won't let himself go through that hurt again.

Especially not when he's so, so sure the promotion he's been chasing for longer than he can comprehend is finally right around the corner.

 

Doyoung is sick.

It's just his luck, he knows, that the distant pain in his throat and lightheadedness wasn't something he could simply sleep off, and rather something drastically worsened when he woke on yet another destined-to-get-the-best-of-him Monday.

A rational person would call in sick, of course, especially if they could barely breathe nor use their senses to the fullest, but Doyoung certainly isn't what many would call a rational person when it comes to his work. He's never going to reach perfection by having off days.

So after a begrudged routine and a thoughtless text to Taeyong mentioning how he was feeling, —And thankfully, this time, Doyoung actually had thought ahead to keep a supply of painkillers, and took some in hopes of it dulling the various aches and inconveniences a common cold brought— Doyoung was off to work, trying his best to make sense of his thoughts and not acknowledge how desperately his body wanted, and needed, to rest.

The day seems to pass as normal, once the painkillers kick in and Doyoung gets himself decently distracted with his work.

Normal, that is, until his lunch break.

Renjun had wanted to buy his lunch from across the street, and needing any excuse to enjoy a glimpse of fresh air and sunlight, Doyoung had offered to join the younger, though it was as they'd approached the front desk, and Doyoung had recognised an all-too familiar voice amongst the receptionist, that he had faltered.

Yet it was far too late to quickly retract to his desk, the man in question had already seen him.

Taeyong had been mid-conversation with Irene and a second receptionist, chattering away in the way that he so effortlessly seemed to do with anyone and everyone. Doyoung had seen the scene before, but that was different, because then, he was Doyoung's boyfriend, now—

"Hey," Taeyong approaches, the soft, timid smile that Doyoung was so used to upon his expression. "I saw your text this morning, so I figured some coffee might help you feel better, since I was free today anyway."

It's then Doyoung registers the two styrofoam cups he holds, one arm extended to offer him the larger of the two.

"Oh... Thanks, Taeyong, you really didn't have—"

"It's nice to see you, Taeyong." Renjun speaks up from beside Doyoung. Frankly, the other had been so unnaturally quiet, Doyoung had practically forgotten he had been there.

"You too, Renjun," Taeyong smiles even warmer as Doyoung takes the coffee from him. "Are you and Donghyuck still doing well?"

Renjun smiles too. Taeyong was all too good at drawing them out of people. "We are, yeah. We're finally starting to look at apartments together, and it's going really great."

"Oh! That's great to hear."

Doyoung wonders if he imagines the slight change of tone at the mention of the stage they were supposed to be at, right when the breakup had come.

He's about to clear his throat, make up some excuse to get himself out of the situation, when Renjun speaks up. "So, you two are back together, right? I—"

"No," Doyoung quickly interrupts. "We're not, Renjun."

With that, the conversation falls into an agonising silence. And Doyoung wishes he hadn't looked to Taeyong's expression, had seen anything but the undeniable hurt that looks back at him.

"Yeah. I guess I should get going, then. See you, Renjun."

When Taeyong turns to leave, Doyoung spares a glance to Renjun, who holds up his hands vaguely. Doyoung huffs, and follows Taeyong out the main doors, because he has to, right? He doesn't want him upset, or hurt, he doesn't want that for either of them, and that's why this is all so terribly conflicting.

"Taeyong—"

"What, Doyoung?" When he approaches the parking lot, Taeyong turns, making Doyoung almost fall from the abrupt halt. "You don't care how I feel, right?"

Doyoung exhales, coffee feeling awfully heavy in his hand. "Of course I do."

"Then why haven't you changed?" Taeyong demands. "I thought you were past this... This thing of putting work before anything and anyone else. Before yourself. Just like you did before with us."

The taller falls into silence, and Taeyong shakes his head, looks to the side, watches cars passing.

"But I can see you haven't changed a bit. You still don't care about me, do you? Why would you... Fuck, Doyoung, why would you sleep with me, text me everyday, kiss me just like before, if you don't have any intent to be with me again? Any intent to change?"

Doyoung wishes he knew the words to form an answer.

 

Their breakup had been anticipated. Doyoung had sensed it was coming, could practically piece it together from the thoughtful expressions and the body language his boyfriend had offered in the weeks leading up to the fateful evening.

He'd thought Taeyong had been crying, prior to Doyoung's arrival upon request, and Doyoung would soon learn that was one of the many issues that had arisen between them— It had come to be only Taeyong initiating things, because Doyoung was always so ridiculously occupied, whether it be physically or mentally, with work.

Doyoung had sat at the couch, and Taeyong hadn't seemed to want to look him in the eye.

"I don't feel like you care about me anymore, Doyoung. About us."

He'd wanted to deny it. Wanted to say that he did care about him, about them, more than anything, but he knew there wasn't as much honesty to it as he'd like to give the other. So he'd kept quiet, let him continue.

"And, I want it to— I really, really do, but... I just don't think this is working anymore."

It had stung, a pierce through his heart. But it didn't feel anything like it was Taeyong holding the metaphorical spear, thrust right where it hurts the most, but himself. Doyoung knew, so cruelly, it was himself. He had brought this upon himself, upon Taeyong, upon them and everything they'd shared in the past years, with his stupid perfectionism, with his workaholic tendencies, with his inability to feel content unless he was working himself to the brink of exhaustion.

And as much as he'd hated it, he couldn't fight against it. He couldn't make empty promises to change, he couldn't ask Taeyong to give him such a chance.

All he could do was accept things as they were.

The last words Taeyong had said to him that day, and prior to the fateful day of meeting on the side of the road, ever, had never once left Doyoung's mind.

"I thought you were the one I was going to marry."

 

As easily as they'd come back into one another's lives, they'd left all over again. The texts stop, the meetings stop, anything of what they'd built back between one another is so abruptly gone, and Doyoung wills himself to believe he doesn't care.

Months of feeding into the illusion pass, until something changes, like the click of a lock. In the recent weeks, Renjun had fallen into the habit of staying late from time to time, and Doyoung had to admit, the company was rather nice, even if it was Renjun, of all people.

On the particular evening, the other's boyfriend, Donghyuck, which though Doyoung had never quite officially met, but felt as if he knew more than enough about considering how often Renjun would ramble about him, had stopped by the office to drop off some takeaway for Renjun, upon hearing he was staying a few more hours.

And though Doyoung was rarely the type to be nosey, he had to admit, the two made a rather cute pair. Even in the brief few minutes Donghyuck was there for, they were very much acting according to the loving couple role, Renjun leant against the counter of the office kitchen, Donghyuck's arms around him, them mumbling about God knows what to other, sporting those cheesy grins you only see on the expressions of those that are so deeply in the cheesiest kind of love— And he sees it.

He sees the couple himself and Taeyong had used to be, before Doyoung had so stupidly let the complications of his own mind get between them. He sees the young, fresh love that he's been not allowing himself to miss for so incredibly long, and he comes to a realisation that had taken him far too much time to come to.

He can get that back. He can change, he can have that love with Taeyong again, as long as he lets himself.

And better late than never, Doyoung is ready to.

 

If Doyoung has learnt one thing in the last two years, it's how easy change is when one is willing to welcome it. He's beyond lucky, he knows, that Taeyong had accepted him, and believed the promise he had made that night to change for the better, for the two of them to give things another chance. For Doyoung to have the opportunity to better himself, to learn and grow and become the person he wanted to be; both for himself and Taeyong.

Closing the door of his car, Doyoung pushes his glasses up his nose, navigates to the main entrance to the office building, though he isn't there to work. Quite the opposite, in fact.

He had, eventually, gotten the promotion he'd sought over for years. And ironically enough, he'd achieved such from working less— It's funny how that works, how working less can sometimes be working better.

He greets the receptionists, makes his way through the familiar route to his desk.

It's there he finds Renjun awaiting him; and though far from an intern now, the other is very much still the baby of the office, as much as he was when he'd first arrived for his internship.

"How long are you taking off?" The younger asks with a curious tilt of his head, as Doyoung searches through his desk for anything he may need in the time away.

Doyoung hums. "Three weeks, for the time being. But maybe more, depending on how the adoption process goes."

Renjun seems to light up at that. "Ah, I can't believe you're finally reaching your true DILF form, Doyoung."

The older rolls his eyes, having been very generously informed the meaning of the term. "Thanks, I guess."

"You're welcome," Renjun makes a gesture to Doyoung's hand. "Are you used to it yet? I've always heard it takes time."

Doyoung follows where Renjun's stare trains, and the corners of his lips rise in a smile when he's greeted with the wedding band at his finger. "Physically, yeah, after a few weeks I forgot it was even there. But emotionally— It still feels way too good to be true." He explains, brushing his thumb over the beautiful silver.

And truly, he means it. He'll never truly believe he was the one lucky enough to marry Lee Taeyong, to see the man on their wedding day, to kiss him and fight off tears over the others all-too beautiful vows. Renjun, on the other hand, had been much more generous with his tears on the particular day.

"God, you've gotten so cheesy, Doyoung."

Doyoung grins.

"I know."