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with(out) you

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The silence hangs in the night air, heavy, thick, choking as the two men stare at each other, avoid each others’ eyes and glance at the surrounding scenery. The villa went dark long ago, all lights extinguished except the one in the living room for them to make their way back inside. Only the two men remained awake, standing on the porch, staring at the darkened view of the city lights and the odd bright patch of stars that could outshine the light pollution.

This conversation has been long coming and they both know it, silently contemplating where their lives was going to go over the next ten, twenty, sixty minutes.

Jongin turns his head to take Baekhyun in; he’s quiet, sullen, but other than that, his face is emotionless, staring out at the expanse in front of them. He clears his throat and Baekhyun shakes his head.

Jongin turns to look at the city before he steps away, slowly sitting down on one of the porch chairs. He turns his gaze to the sky, letting himself be lost in thoughts of the universe, the world around their own world, what's potentially out there before Baekhyun clears his own throat.

"I never stood a chance, did I?"

Jongin flickers his eyes to Baekhyun, blinking a little.

They've been dating on and off for years now, deciding to try again because they spent so much time together now, between EXO and SuperM, between constant joint schedules, between Baekhyun giving him advice for his solo debut.

And it was their last time, their one final hurrah, if it didn't work this time, they weren't going to try again.

They’d promised that to one another – if it didn’t work this time, then they simply wouldn’t do it to each other again. They’d not risk playing with each other’s feelings and move on, let the past be the past.

And things, this time, had been going good. Almost great. So close to working and being the time they finally got together.

It was supposed to be working, it almost was, and they were going to be together for ever, that's how great it had been going.

But there had been one small hiccup along the way. One tiny little bump in the road.

Lee Taemin, Jongin's best friend for however long now, being in the same group, demanding Jongin's attention as much as Baekhyun had been. Taemin, hanging on Jongin's arm whenever he had a chance, Taemin whispering and giggling about inside jokes as they walked into airports, Baekhyun hanging behind them just out of ear range. Taemin clambering into Jongin's lap because hello, he'd like a cuddle, he's tired, thank you, as Baekhyun was about to suggest he and Jongin go take some time to relax in their shared bedroom.

And Baekhyun did not like that.

Baekhyun really hated that.

Jealousy had overtaken the leader, coiling around him. The odd, slightly rough yank on Jongin's arm for his attention, the bitter looks at Taemin as he happily showed Ten something about dance, the way he'd storm past the industry-elder. It had accumulated, even the managers who rarely saw them noticing it, coming to a fever pitch when Baekhyun had purposely pushed his leg out further than it had to be in dance practice the other day, sending Taemin toppling to the ground with a pained yell as he landed, crumpled for a moment where he lay before he shakily stood up.

It was out of character for Baekhyun, taking even himself by surprise, and he had sworn it was an accident on the too polished floor. Taemin either believed him, or was faking for Baekhyun’s sake, waving his hands at everyone and grinning a little awkwardly and saying he was fine, they should carry on practice or take a short break.

Now, here they were, Jongin fuming and debating what was going to come of all of this in the long run, barely able to look at each other.

Jongin swallows, knowing what Baekhyun means.

It was always going to be Taemin; always, no matter what, which made no sense because it's always been nothing but platonic between them. They're best friends, platonic soulmates, that's all it ever has been and all it ever will be. Jongin snorts.

"That's the sad thing. You did. Once."

Baekhyun's face crumples.

Jongin sniffs, taking a moment.

"You really did, Baek. You honest to God had every chance in the world, so many more chances than I'd ever give anyone else. You did. But what you did the other day? For what? I've told you, there is nothing between Taemin and I. He's my best friend and nothing more, nothing less. You could have seriously hurt him, for what, some school ground jealousy? We're big boys now, Baekhyun, we aren't the same little kids running around backstage and crying because we won an award for once, we are out here, we are here, we are who we are, we are the adults that the new little kids running around backstage look up to. And you can't even bring yourself to think about anything other than your own insecurities.”

Jongin pauses, looking over at Baekhyun.

“I know you hate what you did and I should be angrier than I am about it. But I also know it took you by surprise to act like that so I’m not going to bother lecturing on it. But seriously.” Jongin stands up and sighs, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Taemin’s already got an injured wrist. You could have ended his career because you had a momentary lapse in judgement. And I think that, personally, is more dangerous than if you could keep your emotions in check. Frankly, I don’t want to date someone who might cause someone severe harm because they just can’t take a moment to breathe.”

He turns, staring at the door. “We could have talked. We could have sat down and just talked about all of this and had an actual mature and coherent conversation about it all… but you couldn’t trust me, after all this time, to just sit and explain what you were feeling. Instead, you just… and, I don’t think I can do that. I owe it to myself to have a parter who won’t accidentally injure my friends, but after seven years, can actually trust me. I owe myself that. And I love you. I do love you, Baekhyun. But the other day was… entirely out of order.”

Baekhyun doesn’t respond, letting his head hang as he stares at the pool. He doesn’t really have anything to say in return – Jongin’s right. Baekhyun isn’t that person, he’s proven that to himself.

Silence envelopes them again before Jongin sighs. “I’m tired. I’m going to head to bed, we have schedules tomorrow. I… I am truly so sorry. I adore you but… One mistake is a mistake, sure, but the level of this? I can’t do that to me or my friends.”

Baekhyun merely nods, whispers a gentle good night and listens as the sliding door opens and shuts again. He’s alone and he’ll soon be the only one in the villa that’s awake. He knows he also should go to bed, try to get some sleep before he has to be up at whatever early hour of the morning the managers want them up.

But his head is reeling, chest heaving and heart pounding and heavy as he sits down on one of the porch chairs. He stares at the sky, breathing becoming more and more uneven as tears begin pricking in his eyes. He gasps, the sobs starting to come as he it topples down on top of him.

He lost Jongin. He lost everything they’ve built up over seven years. Because he couldn’t just talk about his emotions. The sobs come thick and heavy – and he lets them. It’s best for him to get it out now and be tired tomorrow rather than potentially be making mistakes because his brain won’t let go of it all.

He’ll go to bed once he’s cried himself out and rehydrated himself. But, for now, he stares as the past goes up in smoke and the light of the future blocked out like the clouds blocking the moon.