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Mala Fides

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Not everyone is conventionally nice.  

Let’s imagine you meet a boy in your kindergarten. He's small, he looks friendly and you try to speak with him so you can build a friendship with him. Except, when you're trying to talk to him he walks away from you and he acts like you never even said a word to him. What does this lead to? The teachers are disappointed you can't make friends and force you to sit next to some girl who doesn’t have any personal hygiene, and you eventually will get a cold from just sitting with her that one, fateful, time.  

You'd think the boy is kind of rude. Not your type of boy at all. Understandable, really. You wouldn't like to be stuck with him as a friend and that's fair enough; he's not actually that nice to you. Defining nice is hard enough but when you take into account personalities and cultures, it becomes a lot harder. You have those people who are nice but talk shit behind their backs, you have those other people who are nice because they're told to be, but really they couldn’t give a shit.  

The boy you’re imagining is standing right at your doorstep and he’s covered in rain, a clueless look on his face and eyes as wide as your own when you realised that he is the one standing in front of you.  

Dawon?” 

“Can you help me?” he asks you. He doesn’t greet you, he doesn’t do anything like you’d always planned for him to do. Of course you’d ran through this scenario a billion times before in your head because you’d wanted his apology when he finally came back to you after all this time. There’s no apology though, and there’s no boy you used to know. “I can’t… This address was on my hand and I have no idea who I am. Can you help?” 

Suddenly he was that boy from kindergarten who was small and friendly and wanted that friendship with you. He doesn’t walk away from you, he only brushes the water from his hair and begs you with the most innocent of looks to let him in.  

“Do you want to come inside?” you ask him.  

It’s unsurprising that he doesn’t answer, instead just pushing past you and entering your hallway so that he’s out of the rain. He’s wearing a small jacket and he looks like he might have just left training. The one thing that took over his life and made sure you and him would never, ever have the future the two of you planned for.  

Oh, how much sixteen year old Lee Dawon would love to see you now. Your heart is racing and you feel as though after all these months without a word from him, you’re going to get something back from him. An apology. The apology you always deserved. One he never wanted to give to you because of his pride and the fact he was so engulfed in making himself happy that he forgot about everyone else.  

It was just shameful that even now you were so in love with him.  

“Dawon—” 

“Is that my name?” he interrupts. His eyebrows are raised and though he’s shaking his wet hair, his attention is solely on you. “Dawon? You said that when you opened the door. It must be my name, right?” 

You nod slowly. “Your name’s Dawon.” 

“Why was this address written on my hand?”  

Even if you think that it’s some kind of sick joke that he’s playing on you, you take him seriously. Of all the stunts he’s pulled with you, none of them have hurt you. He wouldn’t not speak to you for this long and then do this to you because he wanted to stay friends with you.  

Something’s wrong. No genius was needed for you to work that one out.  

“I don’t know,” you tell him. He seems to frown, but you’re distracted by the way he pulls off his jacket and drops it by his side. It almost makes you laugh. He’s still your Dawon. “Do you not remember anything? Who you are, where you’re from, what job you have?” 

Dawon shakes his head, pouting. “Do you know?” 

Though you hum, it’s not loud. You don’t even think Dawon hears it. He’s looking around your hallway and trying to recognise things. Nothing had changed since he came here last and you never wanted it to change. You just wanted your old life back. Everything before Dawon left for Seoul, that’s how you wanted things.  

“I think we should go to the doctor,” you tell Dawon, “you really have no idea what happened or anything? Something must have happened to you for you to lose your memory. Where did you wake up?” 

“Outside the train station.” 

You can’t see anything that’s wrong with him. There’s no blood on his head and his clothes, though wet and dirty, don’t have any rips. He looks perfectly fine. If he’d gotten concussion or something it must have been hidden. He couldn’t have been in a car accident or some kind of fight because his figure is as flawless as it’s always been.  

“Which train station?” 

Dawon groans. “There’s more than one? I left my bag there. I thought we could go back and get it because we were friends or something. Are you sure we’re not friends?” 

“Well…” you have to pause. There’s something about his overwhelming stare and eyes that follow you as you try to answer. Can you really lie to your best friend? Well, that term is loosely said. He’s not really your best friend anymore. As much as you’d like to think of him as still holding that title, he can’t. He was more than that, and now he’s less. “You were friends with my boyfriend.” 

✿✿✿✿ 

You’re sat next to Dawon at the hospital after trying your best to deflect every question he threw your way about your boyfriend. His friend. How you all knew each other and if you had ever actually been friends with him yourself. The entire journey here was full of it and now you’d managed to distract him with the games on your phone.  

“Did I grow up around here?” Dawon asks. He looks up to you with curious eyes. “I really can’t remember a thing of this. Like, I just… nothing really makes sense to me. People keep looking over to me. Look!” 

Dawon points over to a middle aged couple who are talking between themselves, and looking over at the two of you. “They’re talking about me. They stopped talking when I pointed at them so I’m right. Am I famous or something?” 

“We should see a doctor before I start trying to tell you anything.” 

“Why?” 

You roll your eyes. “Dawon, you could have hurt yourself. Can you stop asking questions and let me sort this out?” 

“Why are you sorting this out instead of your boyfriend?” Dawon continues to ask. “If he and I were friends instead of you and I, then he should be helping me because he knows more about me!” 

He’s not wrong with his statement, but you’re too chicken to tell him you know more about him that anyone else ever could. Then you’d have to explain everything. How you fell in love and he broke your heart. Maybe it was selfish but forgetting it ever happened was easier. Perhaps for you, too.  

But you’re saved by the one person you never expected to show up when you needed him to, and you couldn’t ever be more thankful.  

“(y/n)?” Kim Rowoon calls. He’s dressed in that white coat he never properly got to a white colour and his hair is perfect as always. You almost forgot he was a doctor since you never actually saw him at the hospital. “Dawon? What are you guys doing here?” 

You’d be lying if you didn’t admit to noticing how tense Dawon got beside you. He narrows his eyes at Rowoon but ignores his words. “Your name is (y/n)?” 

You nod, but only softly. You’re distracted by the memories that you wanted to get rid of so badly, the ones from your childhood that you spent falling for him. The times you spent loving Lee Dawon but so blind to his mala fides.  

"This is Rowoon!" you introduce. You're talking to everyone at your table, including some of the people in other school years that you'd all met because of clubs. "He's my friend, he likes dance. He's gonna hang around with us from now on." 

As confident with your clique as you may have been, you felt intimidated by the glare directly from Dawon. You ignore it an instead look up to Rowoon with a beaming smile. "Nice to meet you all." 

"You dance?" Sooyoung asks. She's interested in dance and you know they'll be friends within a few days, just like you and Rowoon are. Maybe even as close as you and Dawon, if they're lucky. "My name's Sooyoung. I dance too. How comes I haven't seen you in dance class on Fridays?" 

"Yeah, I haven't seen you in the Monday one either," Lisa adds.  

"I do it outside of school," Rowoon tells them.  

He's offered a seat next to Inseong which he takes with thanks, and then he's thrown in at the deep-end with questions from all of them. Not Dawon though, he's quiet and he barely even looks up from his lap when everyone is trying to talk to Rowoon. He doesn't even let you sit next to him like usual. He only dismisses himself twenty minutes before class and leaves everyone with a frown on their faces.  

"That's Dawon," you tell Rowoon, looking over in the direction that Dawon had disappeared in. "He's a strange person." 

Taeyang scoffs. "Strange person? He's like marmite. You either love him or you hate him. No in-between." 

"He's not that bad," Youngbin interrupts. He knows what situation Dawon is in better than anyone at the table but at this moment in time, he's sworn to secrecy.  

"He's as temperamental as I am in the mornings," Hyoyeon states. She takes a sip from her drink and shrugs, her point quite valid. "You'll get along with him in the end, Rowoon. We all did. Especially (y/n)." 

"What’s that supposed to mean?"  

"Yeah, they're just friends!" Chani defends. He's being the friend you always wanted him to be, but he's the youngest of all of you and is much more naïve. "They're allowed to be friends, aren't they?" 

Youngbin hums, picking up his chopsticks to finish eating like he wanted to this whole time. "Yeah, they're friends. Dawon's just really possessive." 

"What does possessive mean?" Hwiyoung questions. He's joined by his closest friend, Jinri, who also looks confused.  

"It means that he doesn't want (y/n) to have any other friends," Taeyang says, sitting back in his chair.  

Chani cocks his head to the side as he pouts. "But we're all her friends." 

"I don't think we're talking about that kind of friend," Inseong tells you all, seeing as he is the smartest of the group, "Dawon is jealous." 

Jealous was a big understatement to what Dawon was when it came to you and Rowoon. In fact, that very friendship is what caused you both a lot more problems than expected in the future.  

You and anyone, actually. Dawon had a distaste for anyone who came remotely close to you as a person. He didn't mind the people he was sure you didn't actually have any feelings for, like Inseong for example - you'd sworn never to get close to him because you two were more like brother and sister. The same with just about everyone you knew. You’d just failed to actually say to Dawon that you and Rowoon would never date, and that was the reason he was acting like such an asshole.  

“I think something happened to Dawon,” you tell Rowoon, standing up. Dawon follows you, taking a step in front of you as Rowoon approaches, but he still keeps quiet. “He uh… may have amnesia. Are you free at the moment? Could you check him out?” 

Rowoon smiles widely. “Of course, come with me.” 

He takes the two of you to a room on the first floor, away from the other patients that are waiting in accident and emergency and to a room just for Dawon. A VIP room, at that. It’s one that Dawon could afford, but unfortunately he’d not know that.  

How were you supposed to tell someone their life story? 

“So you have no ideas as to what happened?” Rowoon asks, sitting Dawon down on the bed. Dawon shakes his head but looks over to you for help answering the questions to come. “Do you know what today’s date is?” 

Dawon is begging you to answer for him, meaning he doesn’t have the slightest clue. “It’s winter?” 

“What’s the last date you remember?” 

“None!” Dawon exclaims. He pushes Rowoon away from him so he can fall back against the bed. “Please don’t start touching me with all your stuff. I don’t even know what year it is. What if I’ve been frozen and it’s not the future and you’re both going to harvest my organs and sell me because I’m the only human left on earth?” 

Rowoon manages to stifle a laugh at Dawon’s comments. “Neither of us would do that to you Dawon.” 

“What about (y/n)’s boyfriend?” Dawon says. “You said we were friends. Would your boyfriend do that to me?” 

Rowoon looks to you with furrowed brows, but lets it go when you bite down on your lip. You shake your head to reassure Dawon anyway. “He wouldn’t do that either. Can you just let Rowoon check you out to make sure you’re okay? You two were friends too.” 

“We were?” Dawon asks.  

“We went to school together,” Rowoon tells him. Though he misses part of the truth, you’ll fill him in later. “We were in English together.” 

Dawon nods, but seems unsure. The two were in English together but were never that close. After their introduction to each other Dawon managed to tame his jealousy by never actually talking to Rowoon unless someone else was around.  

Rowoon, on the other hand, had always been impartial. He’d never cared for Dawon’s jealously and was nice to everyone. Like all those other times before, he puts aside any differences between the two of them and aims to help Dawon.  

It takes a while, and it’s deadly silent. Dawon is looking between the two of you, trying to find something to say but never really getting the right words. As far as Rowoon can see there’s nothing wrong and Dawon is fine. He’s just as lost as you are, but on other subjects too.  

“What is going on?” 

“I don’t know!” You turn away from Rowoon and let out a sigh in frustration. “Dawon showed up at my door in the rain and said my address was on his hand so he came to me. He said he can’t remember anything and…” 

Rowoon shakes his head, placing a hand on your shoulder. “That’s not what I meant. Why aren’t you telling him that you two were friends?” 

“I haven’t even told him who he is yet, he doesn’t need to know we were friends yet.” 

“But he thinks that he was closer to Inseong and I than he was to you! We both barely spoke to him, and he’s going to realise that when Inseong can’t even tell him what his favourite number is.” 

You turn away from him again, looking back through the blinds to where Dawon is sat on the bed. He’s watching the door closely. “The last time I saw him I told him I never wanted to see him again. I told him I wished we never knew each other. Shouldn’t I take this as an opportunity to forget that Dawon and I were ever friends?” 

“You know that’s not a good idea,” Rowoon tells you. He sighs, looking over to his right. “I’m taking him for a scan. He can stay here at the hospital tonight, but after that you’ve got to decide what you’re doing with him. I know what he did to you, but this isn’t the time for you to try and change it hat happened. If he remembers everything, this is going to backfire completely.” 

✿✿✿✿ 

“My name is Lee Dawon and I’m a goalkeeper for FC Seoul,” Dawon states from memory. He frowns, looking up to you. “I’m twenty six, I grew up around here and my main talents include music, sports and English.” 

You hum. “As a basic overview of who you are, I’d say that isn’t far off.” 

“But I can’t remember any of it. Was I really famous? Like did kids have my names on jerseys and people around the country knew my name?” 

“Why would I lie about that?” 

Dawon looks down to his feet again and sighs. His hair, though already messy, is lazily messed up by his right hand as he falls forward so his elbows are on his knees. “It’s hard to think that I actually… that I had a life. All I know now is… you, that doctor and your boyfriend. Even though I’ve never met him.” 

“You’ll get your memory back eventually,” you tell him, “Rowoon said that he’s looking into it. He’s a good doctor and he’ll help you out, you just have to keep a low profile for a few days. I spoke to Jaeyoon and he’s covering for you with your coach.” 

“My inspiration is Roman Weidenfeller,” Dawon states, his near perfect pronunciation of a long surname surprising everyone. Even Inseong looks up with a frown. “He’s good. Plays for Germany, I like him.”

“Since when did you watch German football?” Taeyang asks.

“Since I’ve been trying to improve,” he answers, “all the best players come from Europe. They’re at those big clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona, and that one in France. Paris Saint Germain, I think. But yeah, I watch the games on the weekend. It’s my way of improving.”

Youngbin hums, nodding softly. “Watching other people does help you pick up on skills and stuff.”

“Yeah, but the best players come from South America,” Rowoon comments.

The atmosphere changes very quickly in the room. Rowoon and Dawon were the two most competitive at the table and the two having different opinions meant one thing – hell. They’d not stop until one of them conceded to the other, and it was mostly because Rowoon was the one in the right and Dawon refused to lose to Rowoon.

“Good players come from both places,” you interrupt. One look at Dawon and you can see that he was ready for an argument despite the calm atmosphere that gathered around the table. He glares at you from where he’s sitting, still not happy that you’re sitting with Rowoon now instead. “Are you going to try out for the district team, Dawon?”

Dawon nods. “The trials are next week. Everyone on the school team is going.”

“So that means you’re going too, right Rowoon?” Lisa asks. She’s also picked up on this rivalry between the two and she thinks it’s because Dawon is jealous too.

In reality, you’re no more closer to Rowoon than anyone else is at this table. You met him first but he seemed to get on much better with Sooyoung and Taeyang due to dance. Somehow Dawon had been consumed by the idea of you ditching him for Rowoon that he hadn’t realised that.

“Yeah, but I’m not too worried about whether I get in or not,” Rowoon tells the group. He’s idly picking at his food but then turns his attention to everyone else. “It doesn’t mean as much to me as it does to Dawon, he’s been practicing a lot recently. Coach says he could try out for one of the academies.”

“Really?” you question.

Dawon nods slowly. He doesn’t look over to you for too long, instead just opting to catch your eyes and nod again. It crosses your mind that he’d never told you that, but you put it down to the fact he hasn’t been speaking with you so often recently.

And he is that good.

“Who’s Jaeyoon?” Dawon asks.  

“Jaeyoon is…” you take a moment to breathe. The two were close, so maybe you could try to play off Jaeyoon as being the reason you know so much. “He’s your closest friend in Seoul. You two did a lot together.” 

Dawon nods. “What other friends did I have?” 

“Well there was Youngbin, Inseong, Taeyang, Hwiyoung and Chani. There was some girls too, Lisa, Jinri, Hyoyeon and Sooyoung. We all went our separate ways after school apart from a few. Youngbin is studying business somewhere in America, Taeyang and Sooyoung are performing in shows around Europe, and of course you’ve seen Rowoon. We do still see each other sometimes.” 

“But it’s been eight years since we left school. What happened in those eight years?” Dawon questions.  

You didn’t mind telling him about the time he tripped out of a car door and broke his nose, nor the time he came with you to see EXO perform in Busan and fangirled over Sehun with you (well, who wouldn’t?), but there the full truth wasn’t something you wanted to tell him.  

Because you don’t even know the full truth. You don’t know what went through his mind when he did half the shit he did whilst in Seoul. Every text he sent and call you missed, they were because of decisions he made.  

And you couldn’t try to explain why he did it all.  

“Dawon?” You say softly. He looks up from the pavement to meet your gaze and it’s stone cold. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you meant to be training?” 

Dawon shakes his head, pushing past you so he can walk into the hallway. He barely looks at you, barely acknowledges you as you stand across from him with confusion spread across your face.  

“I need to tell you something,” Dawon says.  

“Okay,” you answer. You move towards him, gently placing your hand on to his shoulder. He’s so cold. You’d have guessed he came all the way there from training if it wasn’t for his black shirt and the smell of perfume that clouded him. “You can tell me anything, you know that.” 

Dawon nods. He shrugs off your hand, making sure he can walk away from you. “I don’t think we should be together anymore.” 

“Jaeyoon is probably best to fill you in on that,” you tell Dawon.  

This time, you’re the one who walks away from him, heading towards your kitchen so you can get some water. Your throat is so dry and you feel as though the hole that’s in your heart is getting bigger. You can’t seal it, you can’t help it.  

You can’t get away from him though, because before you even make it from the room Dawon’s pulling you back to him. His hand is loosely around yours so that you can’t walk away, though when you turn around to him he lets go immediately as he stutters his response.  

“Why are you leaving?” Dawon asks. “I have more questions. I don’t care if you can’t answer them properly but I need to know the answers to things.” 

“Why?” 

Dawon shakes his head as he pushes past you. “Don’t ask me any questions, I just needed you to know.” 

“So you’re going to break up with me for no reason?” You question. There’s anger in your veins but your blood runs colder than ice. “I’ve been your girlfriend for almost four years, Lee Dawon!” 

“And now you’re not my girlfriend anymore.” 

You scoff. As much as he tries to get past you and to the door, you won’t let him. “What has happened to you, Dawon?” 

“I need to go, can you let me past?” 

“Not until you tell me what this is about!” 

Dawon scowls, shaking his head. Though he takes a few steps back, he doesn’t back down. “If I don’t want to be with you anymore, can you not respect my decision? Don’t tell me that I can tell you anything if you’re only going to accept what you want to hear.” 

“Are you telling me that I have to be completely emotionless to the fact that you’re breaking up with me?” You ask him. Dawon doesn’t answer, his eyes never leaving your own. You’re not sure if he’s angry or scared. Hurt or hatred. Something about him is different; he may think the reverse. “Is it me? Am I not good enough for you?” 

“Why would you think that?”  

“I don’t know, maybe the fact you showed up here to break up with me with no warning after not speaking to me for two days has something to do with it. So, is it that? Have you found some girl who loves the fact you have all that money to spend on her and she’s got a better body that I do and he will do anything, absolutely anything, for you?” 

“I think we should talk more about this when Inseong’s here,” you tell Dawon, “he’ll know more than I do. Are you okay to sleep on the couch?” 

Dawon hums softly, looking back to the pile of blankets you’ve left to the side. “I’m not going to ask you to give up your bed for me.” 

“I wouldn’t have given it to you, anyway.” 

That’s a lie, probably the biggest you’ve told since attempting to make Dawon believe you two didn’t have a past together. That he didn’t break your heart all those times.  

The expression, make your bed and lie in it. You’d accept anything that happened after all of this because even though you worship the idea of Dawon never remembering, you know he will. One day he’ll get his old feelings back and maybe you’ll find out what he meant when he’d leave you crying and come back a few days later saying that he needed you.  

Maybe Dawon would tell you why he was had his address on your hand, but either way, you’d let him sleep in the bed you made with you. 

✿✿✿✿ 

Unfortunately, your plan to have Inseong on board hadn’t gone too well.  

You hadn’t told him that Dawon was here, so when he arrived to spend some time with you, alone, he wasn’t happy to see anyone sleeping on the couch. Let alone Lee Dawon, the one person that had caused Inseong so many problems over the past few years.  

“Why?” Inseong asks. He’s in your bedroom with the door locked, and you’re sat on the end of the bed. “Why would you do that? After everything he’s done to you, you’re just going to let him back here and accept him like nothing’s wrong?” 

You shake your head. “It’s not like that, Inseong. He’s… he can’t remember anything. Right now he thinks that you and him are best friends and that we never knew each other.” 

“But this is Lee Dawon. The Lee Dawon. You haven’t forgotten that, have you? It wouldn’t even surprise me if he was lying about this, especially since Rowoon said there was nothing wrong with him that he could see. This is some kind of scam because he’s developed some kind of conscience and wants to make it up to you.” 

“Why would he lie about this, though?” You ask, hoping for the question to be ignored.   

“What are you doing here, Dawon?” 

He pushes past you, much like all of the other times you’ve seen him here. There’s a strange aurora around him, one you hadn’t ever seen before. When he reaches the end of the hall and turns back to you with eyes that are dark and tell you that saddest of tales.  

“I’m sorry,” he says softly, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to say all those things. It’s not true.” 

You don’t react like he wishes you would. “What do you mean, it’s not true?” 

“I mean that I still want to be with you,” Dawon tells you.  

He tries to make his way back to you. He places his hand on your forearm and leans down to you, but doesn’t expect to be pushed away. He looks hurt, his eyes are glassy.  

“You think that you can play with my feelings like that, Lee Dawon?”  

Dawon swallows, hard.  

“You came here a week ago telling me we shouldn’t be together anymore. All I wanted to know was why. That’s all I ever wanted to know. Now you’re back telling me we should be together. What happened? Did you develop some kind of conscience and it told you that you treated me like the dirt you walk over?” 

“Because he always does this,” Inseong states. He sits down beside you on the edge of the bed, hand brushing your own. “I’m not stupid. I know he showed up here at least once a month begging you to take him back. I know he still has feelings for you, but he’ll never love you like you wanted him to. He cheated on you, he convinced you he wouldn’t do it again then he cheated another four times before you dropped him.” 

Your eyes sting, but you look up to Inseong regardless. He’s so caring. You’re thankful for him, everyday he seems to mend your broken heart but he’s not Dawon. He’ll never fully heal you. “I don’t think he’s lying about this.” 

“But you don’t have to treat him like this, even if he isn’t lying.” 

“We were friends since we were kids. Even though he… even after everything he did, I wouldn’t just push him away when he needs me.” 

“I love you,” Dawon says. Tears are falling from his eyes as he approaches you, again. “I’ll never love anyone as much as I love you. I’m stupid. I get easily pulled into things and I… I broke up with you because I didn’t want to cheat on you.” 

You laugh, pulling his hands from where the lay on your arms and shaking your head. “You think that’s a good thing? You broke up with me because you wanted to sleep with another girl? You think you were heroic because you didn’t break my heart by cheating, but you’re worse. I would have rather you just cheated on me.” 

You’d have wished for him to just walk away from you then and leave it. Part of you wants to never see him and part of you never wants to let him go, but when you see the look in his eyes you realise there’s more to it.  

There’s more to those nights he wouldn’t text you back, and there’s more to the times when he said he was busy with Jaeyoon but Jaeyoon was clearly not busy.  

“You’ve already cheated on me, haven’t you?” 

“I’m sorry,” Dawon says. His words are apologetic but for all of the wrong reasons. “You know I’m sorry. I could never be more sorry about this, I didn’t mean to. I was drunk and I didn’t know what was happening!” 

“You think that makes it okay?” 

Dawon shakes his head. He tries to wipe the tears that are covering your cheeks but you don’t let him. You walk away from him, unable to face him. No matter how many times you told him not to touch you, to leave you alone and just go, you wanted him to stay. Nothing feels better than Dawon when you’re upset.  

“What do you want me to do, then?” Inseong asks.  

“You’ll help me?”  

Inseong hums. “I don’t like that you’re putting yourself into this position but… as your boyfriend, and as someone who loves and cares about you, if this will make you feel better then I’ll do it for you.” 

“I just want you to know how much I regret it,” Dawon tells you, “I love you. So, so much. I care about you and I don’t want to hurt you. I know I have, and I’ll do anything to make you realise that I do love you.” 

“I just want you to act like you two were friends,” you tell Inseong. He nods, but still looks confused. “Dawon doesn’t know that he and I were ever… close. I told him that you two were friends and that we were all in the same friendship group, but I was closer to other people. If he thinks that you two were better friends then he won’t even ask about my relationship with him. It makes things easier for us all.” 

“I think he’ll realise we weren’t friends when I can’t answer anything about him. I don’t even know what his favourite number is.” 

You roll your eyes, leaning against Inseong’s shoulder. “Rowoon said the exact same thing. Why do you think he’s so keen to find out what his favourite number is?” 

“Because he’s a footballer and he has to have a number on his shirt,” Inseong answers.  

“Fine. Whatever. If he asks, his favourite number is nine and if he asks why, just say that it was because he like footballers with that number. He doesn’t need to know anything about the real reason, just make up anything you don’t know.” 

“So that he can out me when he realises that this is all a lie?” 

“So that he doesn’t realise that this is all a lie before it’s too soon.” 

Inseong nods again. You know he’s not happy but he’ll do it for now, only because you asked. He doesn’t like Dawon for the pure facts of what he did to you, which meant for the moment you could convince him to like Dawon who didn’t know what he actually did to you.  

“You’re lucky I love you,” Inseong says. 

“You’re lucky that I love you,” you say. Dawon meets your eyes and it seems as though a weight has dropped off of his chest. He embraces you, cold body juxtaposing your own that’s filled with rage. “You’re lucky that I can’t leave you.” 

✿✿✿✿ 

"I know that this is a weird question, but..." Dawon looks across to you, fork held up in the air as he thinks through his words. "Do you have any messages that we sent each other? Just for me to look at?" 

You raise an eyebrow at Dawon. "Like text messages?" 

"Yeah," Dawon answers, "it would be cool if you did. I don't know how much we used to talk but if you had even a few then it would be great. Just so I know... what I was like. I only have your memories and Inseong's too, but they're all subjective. I want to remember what I was like from my own point of view." 

If only he'd have asked you a few years ago, you'd have been able to give him everything.  

Dawon and you spoke often and you kept all the texts you sent (thanks to Apple, even if you hated them sometimes) so that you could look back at them when you missed him the most. Even if you tried to tell yourself you could cope with him being off in Seoul on his own, sometimes it did get too much and you'd want to remember what it was like when he was with you.  

Then came the point when you wanted to forget everything about him and you deleted everything that veer reminded you of Dawon in an attempt to escape from the memories you kept so close, but pushed away so quickly.  

"I don't have any, I'm sorry."  

Dawon hums, but there's a pout on his lips. "It's okay. I just wanted to ask." 

"It's because I have a new phone, so anything we used to say to each other was erased," you tell him. It's an excuse, because you do have a string of messages under his name which you don't want him to see.  

"Stop calling me, Dawon." 

He scoffs down the phone and you can imagine his expression right now. He's pissed, he's annoyed and he's probably drunk. "Answer my texts and I won't call you. I just want to talk to you, like we used to." 

"Like we used to?" You question. A part of you wants to check what he's said just so that you can read it an remember. "You're three years too late. I'm sick of you doing this. You only call me when you're drunk or when you can't sleep. Move on from me, Lee Dawon. You broke up with me four years ago and things haven't been the same since then." 

"But I love you." 

"And I..."  

You can't tell him you hate him. You can't tell him you love him. It brings him some hope to you going back to him, but that's only because you haven't had the guts to tell him you've 'moved on'. Especially with someone he knew.  

"I got a tattoo," he tells you. His voice is solemn and you hear how it cracks. "I'll show you when you get here. Or... I'll come and see you? Yeah. You still live in the same place don't you? I'll visit you and we can catch up. I have so much to tell you, I just want you to know that I love you. So, so much. I'm stupid and I'm an idiot, I know you can't trust me but if ever this one thing I could wish for, it would be for you to take me back." 

"Do you think Jaeyoon will have any?" Dawon asks.  

You shrug. "Maybe. Probably. Jaeyoon and I aren't really... friends. I don’t know anything about him unless you told me about him." 

"What did I tell you about him?" 

"That he was a nice guy. It was strange because you've always made friends so quickly but in Seoul you didn't really have that many to begin with. Jaeyoon was probably your first friend there." 

Dawon nods again. He turns his attention back to his food, opting to silence for a few moments. His messy hair that falls across his face reminds you of when he was young, his innocent eyes that are learning what happens in the world once again.  

You really do wish it could stay this way. That you'd be able to find some kind of solace in Dawon thinking you were just friends. It would hurt you if he found out everything but, in some way, it would hurt him. All those times he cried to you apologising and all of those times he tried to win you back but you shot him down.  

"When did you start dating Inseong?" Dawon asks. There's a smile on his lips but it seems a little too forced.  

"About a year ago."  

"Why did you start dating then, if you'd known each other for so long?" 

"Because." 

"Because what?" 

"Just because..." You sigh gently, looking away from Dawon as you find the right words. Somehow, you didn't think that he's the reason I stopped crying over you would cut it. "He was there for me with a lot of things and it kind of just... happened." 

Dawon hums. "I wonder what it's like to love someone." 

"It hurts sometimes." 

"What do you mean, it hurts?" Dawon questions. His eyes are wide and he narrows his eyes at you as he pushes his chair back. "Has Inseong hurt you? Do I need to teach him a lesson? Why would anyone hurt you when you're so kind?" 

You shake your head, reaching over so that you can place your hand over his. He stares at your hand for a moment, then looks up to you. "Inseong hasn't done anything to me, don't worry." 

"Then who was it?" 

"Wait, don't leave," Dawon says. His hand catches yours as you try to move past him, pulling you back into the room that had the most awkward of atmospheres surrounding it. He looks hurt, but his features are soft and you notice how red his lips are and bright his eyes shine. "I need to tell you something." 

You roll your eyes, pulling your hand from his. "This really isn't the time, Dawon." 

"Why?" 

"Because I had to tell Juho that... He confessed to me! It's awkward. Now I'm going to have to sit next to him every physics lesson and we're going to have to work together and it's always going to be in his mind that I said no to him." 

Dawon raises his eyebrows, obviously missing what happened. "Juho confessed to you? As in, Juho the Juho that never speaks to anyone?" 

"Yeah, that Juho." 

Dawon retracts from you, his body language becoming more and more reserved as you sit down on a table that's near to the door. He sits opposite to you, watching you so closely as you play with your fingers. When you finally do look up to him, his eyes are wide and he looks away from you in fear that you'll notice something about him which he doesn't want you to.  

"What did you want to say, Dawon?" You ask him, softly. "Please make my day a bit better. I don't want to have to remember that awkward confession for the rest of my life." 

"I just wanted to tell you that I'm..." 

He stops, looking you straight in the eyes for a moment. You nod, encouraging him to continue. "Yes, Dawon?" 

"I'm trying out for the academy for FC Seoul." 

"Really?" You ask, eyes wide and lips gapped. Dawon nods slowly, happy to see the excitement on your face as you jump off the table and run to him. "Dawon, that's amazing!" 

He scoffs, trying to push you off of him as you throw your arms around him, but eventually giving into you. "I'm just trying out, it's not that amazing." 

"But if you're trying out then you'll get accepted. They'd be stupid not to expect you when you're this good! You're practically a professional footballer now!" 

Dawon only nods. You both know he wanted to say more but for now, he keeps quiet. He'll tell you another time. 

✿✿✿✿ 

You find yourself looking over to Dawon’s figure, gazing at his body that’s dimly lit by the TV he’s left on. He always was afraid of the dark, it meant you couldn’t sleep some nights because he needed a light on.  

You’re not even sure why he’s still here. He knows who he is and he knows where he can return to. Dawon’s always been so stubborn; it shouldn’t surprise you he’s refusing to leave until he remembers everything.  

But why here? 

Because he was realising there was more to it that you were letting on. You cared to much to just be his friend’s girlfriend.  

“Can’t sleep?” Dawon asks.  

His voice startles you, so much so that the glass of water you’re holding in your hand is shaken to the point where your feet are covered in tiny droplets of water. Dawon just watches with his head cocked slightly to the side.  

“No,” you answer softly. It’s impossible to sleep, even when Inseong is here too. “I have insomnia sometimes. I’m used to it now. Why aren’t you sleeping?” 

Dawon shrugs. “I guess I have insomnia too. Did I used to have that?” 

“Yeah,” you tell him, “sometimes you’d text me at three in the morning because you were scared of not falling asleep before the Devil’s hour.” 

“Really? When’s that?” 

“Three thirty three am. If for some reason you were awake still, you’d call me until I answered.” 

Dawon looks away from you. He’s borrowed Inseong’s clothes and they’re a little too small, not with his muscles that have developed over the time he’s been training. He has that tired look on his face and it brings that feeling of nostalgia straight back to you.  

“I’m sorry I was so annoying.” 

You raise an eyebrow. “Lee Dawon is finally going to apologise to me for something?” 

“Why wouldn’t I apologise to you?” Dawon asks. He sits up straight, concerned. “Was I really rude? I’m so sorry. I should have apologised to you for everything I did wrong like harassing you in the middle of the night.” 

“You don’t have to apologise if I didn’t mind it, though,” you tell him.  

“If you didn’t mind it?” 

“Yeah. It was nice to talk to someone at three am, just like it is now. Inseong falls asleep quicker than you can turn the light off so he’s a no go. You, on the other hand, are a night owl just like me.” 

Dawon’s smile hits you where it hurts the most.  

“Are you sleeping?” Dawon asks.  

He’s laying right beside you facing in your direction. His hand is tangled in the ends of your hair and he looks tired. He wants to sleep but he can’t. Something is stopping him.  

“I’m awake,” you mumble, keeping your eyes shut. Dawon hums, happily at that, resting his other hand over the side of your face so that he can caress your cheek. “Your hands are cold. Don’t touch me.” 

“Way to show you love me,” Dawon groans, pulling his hands back.  

You pull your eyes open, sleepily glaring at him for disturbing you. “I was almost asleep and you woke me up. Thank you, Dawon. How can I ever repay you.” 

“Well, you could kiss me.” 

You’re definitely not sleeping anymore. Your eyes are wide open and your heart is beating faster than ever. Maybe you’re tired and you’re hallucinating this but you’re sure that Dawon said— 

“Are you going to kiss me or not?” Dawon asks. He shuffles a bit closer and pouts his lips at you. “I’m waiting. You know you want to.” 

“You’re disgusting,” you tell him, pushing him away.  

“Do you want to sit with me?” Dawon asks, patting the empty space on the couch next to him. He looks back to the TV and squints a little. “I think there’s some kind of nature documentary on. We don’t have to watch it. I just… I feel kind of lonely these days.” 

You’d have sat with him even if he didn’t guilt trip you into it. The loneliness is understandable, he’s sitting alone most of the day waiting for you and Inseong to come home in a world he can’t remember anything about. You’d not even given him the photo albums you had of your friends because there’s too many pictures of you and Dawon.  

Too many pictures where he’d realise you both were more than just friends. More than best friends.  

“Are you usually this sad?”  

“Sorry?”  

Dawon’s lips gap when he realised what he’s said. “I mean, when I see you, you always look like you’re longing for something. Did something happen? Was it something to do with me?” 

“Why would it be something to do with you?” You ask.  

“Because I don’t have any idea why I had your address on my hand,” Dawon says. He runs his fingers through his hair and leans back against the couch. “I know Inseong doesn’t live here, he just stays over sometimes. So that meant I wanted to see you. There must have been a reason why I wanted to see you.” 

You could lie to make him feel better, or you could be straight. No point lying over and over to the point where nothing you say is reality anymore. “I don’t think you knew where Inseong lived.” 

Dawon stays quiet.  

“When you went to Seoul, you started to speak with everyone less. It wasn’t just your fault. Taeyang and Lisa were busy with dance and Rowoon was in school. We all kind of… lost contact eventually. You made other friends.” 

“Like who?” 

“Like Jaeyoon,” you say, “when you first met him you were so scared that he would judge you. You weren’t making many friends in Seoul so you went to a party with him and started to befriend more people. He’s a nice guy, you said that he was the reason you made the first team line up, even as a sub goalkeeper. He used to tell the coach about you all the time.” 

Dawon sighs softly. He glances up to you, but when you catch his eyes, he looks away again. “I wish I remembered.” 

“You will, one day.” 

“One day,” Dawon repeats.  

He sounds the least bit convinced. His flat tone is followed up but another sigh that sounds more depressed than the last. He sits forward again, crossing his legs on the couch and shuffling his body a little so he can see you more clearly.  

“Why do you know so much about me?”  

“I have a good memory?” You suggest.  

Dawon shakes his head, proceeding to tut at you. “I know you don’t have a good memory. When you asked me last night what I wanted for dinner you asked me about seven times and I said pansit each time!” 

“Because you never used to like pansit!”  

“I didn’t?” Dawon questions. “But it’s so nice. Why wouldn’t I like it? Is there really something wrong with me? Rowoon wasn’t lying when he said he couldn’t see anything wrong with my scans, was he? I knew there was something fishy about him. The way he looked at you was just…” 

You wait for his answer. The times he was always so jealous of Rowoon for you two being so close was flooding back into your memory again. Just like at the hospital. Just like every time you laid eyes on him.  

“It made me feel jealous,” Dawon says. He takes a deep breath before looking up to you, stare so intense you have to look away for a moment. “Is there a reason for me to be jealous, (y/n)?” 

“No.” 

“We didn’t date, did we?” 

“Why?” 

“Because I want to kiss you.” 

Your heart stops beating until you’ve fully processed what Dawon said. He doesn’t look away from you, he’s focused on you and only you. For the first time since he first said he loved you, you feel like you’re the one thing he wants to have his attention on.  

He’s always had that way of breaking down every wall you ever built up to stop yourself falling in love with someone like him. Someone who you can never really tell the true emotions of. A good actor and an even better liar.  

Perhaps it was his profession that made him like this. You’ll try to convince yourself in whatever way you can that Dawon isn’t the person he makes himself out to be. Someone who sleeps around and spends his money without thought.  

You’ll convince yourself that he’s the loyal, faithful, charitable boyfriend of yours that you’d known since kindergarten.  

And it ruins everything, because you want to kiss him too.  

“I have a boyfriend,” you tell him. Though he tries to grasp your hand and pull you back down with him, you move away with a stutter stuck on the tip of your tongue. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Dawon. Make sure you sleep with the TV off or your sleep won’t be very good.”  

✿✿✿✿ 

You didn't really speak to Jaeyoon, much to Dawon's surprise. He expected the two of you to talk more when the three of you met in Seoul so that Dawon could visit where he lived and try to remember stuff.  

He's confused as to how you're more awkward with Jaeyoon than he was with Rowoon, but he doesn't bring it up. You can just tell. That's what being friends with someone for so long does to you; you can sense their emotions and you can tell what they're feeling just by looking at them.  

"This is where you lived," Jaeyoon says, opening the door to an apartment that looked expensive. Far more expensive than anything that you could have afforded, but Dawon's salary was far more than you could compete with. "You gave me a spare key for... uh... things." 

You raise a brow to his statement, but Dawon does the talking. "For what?" 

"Well there was this one time when you passed out from drinking and (y/n) wanted me to make sure you were okay so she gave me a key and..." Jaeyoon stops talking when he notices your stare. Dawon looks back to you for a moment, understanding that you seemed to care about him more than you led on. "It was basically in case anything went wrong, but I barely came over. You mostly spent your time at mine since it's closer to everything." 

Dawon hums, picking up things that were on his side and inspecting them. He's drawn to a picture that's on his living room table, framed in matte black wood. Though you can't see what it is, you realised what the picture might be of when he looks up to you with a frown. "Have you been here before?" 

You shake your head.  

"You only moved in here about five months ago," Jaeyoon tells Dawon.  

"Where did I live before this?" He questions.  

"There was this room you rented in this old lady's house," Jaeyoon explains, sitting down on the couch near to where Dawon is. "She was starting to get sick of you coming home late but you begged her to let you stay there and she always gave into you. I never knew why you were so attached to that place, but you'd lived there since you moved to Seoul." 

“I made friends with this guy,” Dawon says, his voice cheery through the phone. You’re glad that he sounds happy but it’s hard to tell whether he’s just putting it on – though Dawon wasn’t easily shy when it came to how he felt about things, he could play his emotions like a master. “His name is Jaeyoon. He’s helping me out a bit since I don’t know anyone. I think you’d like him.” 

You hum, half paying attention to the work you’re supposed to be doing. “Is he our age?” 

“He’s a year older,” Dawon tells you.  

He’s always been great at making friends, but since he’s been in Seoul, he hasn’t been making any. He’d call you every night with the same lame story of how everyone already had their friends and he didn’t want to disturb an already formed friendship group.  

Truth was, you thought he was shy without you there. Though he was probably just trying to be sweet by remaining friends with you and the others, it occurred to you that whenever Dawon wasn’t with you he was a little different. He didn’t have that same Dawon vibe about him.  

Which was alright, you guessed, but you didn’t want him to be friendless the entire time.  

“It’s getting kinda lame without you here, to be honest. It’s lame in general, I’m so bored.” 

“Because you need to start talking to more people, stupid,” you answer. Though you roll your eyes, Dawon laughs at your words. “I’m being serious. I’m not letting you give up your dreams just because you’re bored. If it’s that bad, go outside and talk to random people. It’s Seoul. People will talk to you cause you’re a cute seventeen year old boy who may be famous one day. You’ll have your own crowd of people calling you oppa one day.” 

It’s Dawon’s turn to roll his eyes. You hear him groan at the thought of your words being true. “The only person who I want to call me oppa is you.” 

“Never gonna happen.” 

“Not even if it kept me in Seoul?” Dawon challenges.  

You sigh, leaning back in your chair and leaving behind the work you’re meant to be doing. It doesn’t mean that much to you anymore; Dawon always causes you to lose your attention span because you’re so engrossed in him.  

“Start making friends and I’ll think about it,” you tell him, “I’m serious, Dawon. Why don’t you ask Jaeyoon if he’s doing something. You two should go out together and make more friends. You’ll still be friends with all of us too, you don’t have to stay loyal to us the whole time.” 

“I don’t want to go out,” Dawon whines.  

“And I don’t want to have to deal with this work but I’ve got to. We all have to do stuff we don’t want to.” 

Dawon hums. He waits a moment before he speaks and you assume that he’s moved from the bed he was laying on. “What do I even say to him?” 

“You say, hey Jaeyoon. Do you want to do something tonight? Then you wait for him to say yes.” 

“And if he says no?” 

“Do you think he’s going to say no to you, Lee Dawon?” 

“Fine. Fine. I’ll text him now, hold on.” The phone line goes silent but you can vaguely hear the sound of clicking which you assuming is Dawon sending the text. After another sound, he comes back to the phone and sighs. “I’ve text him. I still think this was a bad idea.” 

The thing about Dawon was that he could be so many different personalities at the same time. At home, he’d speak with anyone. It didn’t matter what they looked like or how old they were, he’d make it a goal to have a conversation with them.  

Now he was in Seoul, he was shier than ever. Maybe it was down to the fact you weren’t there, or because he was worried he was being forgotten at home. Either way you didn’t like it. You’d look for whatever way you could to change it and then you’d make things better.  

“Just tell me when he answers,” you say softly, trying to get back to the math homework. You’re humming to yourself as Dawon stays silent too. “You’re so lucky you don’t have to do this maths stuff anymore. Like, it’s a blessing.” 

“But I have to sit here alone and train all day,” Dawon counters.  

You scoff. “Mental exercise is worse.” 

“You’re wrong, all my body hurts,” Dawon states. He sighs again before a buzz can be heard through the phone, and then he excitedly pulls himself back to your conversation. “Jaeyoon just texted back. He said he and a few friends are hanging out tonight and said I could join if I wanted. Should I?” 

“Is that really a question you should be asking me?” 

“Right, I’ll text him back. Nothing bad will happen if I go out with them, I’ll just make more friends which is good. It’s a win win situation.” 

You find a smile coming to your lips as you hum. “You got it. Have some fun and stop being so homesick. I said I’d visit with Inseong next month when he’s passed his driving test.” 

“Yeah I know. I just miss you,” Dawon says. He takes a deep breath before continuing. “I don’t want you to think that I’m moving on from you or anything.” 

“I won’t think that, just go out! The more time you spend on the phone with me the less time you’ll have to be with them and you’ll start to seem uncool cause you call your damn girlfriend so often!” 

“Fine, I’m going!” 

You wait for a moment, staring down at the screen and waiting for the call to be ended. As usual, Dawon doesn’t actually hang up. He has a habit of waiting until you do it so he doesn’t feel bad for leaving you, but you won’t let him get away with it today.  

“Are you going to hang up, Dawon?” You question.  

“I am,” he says softly. Another moment passes, but Dawon still doesn’t do it. “I just wanted to say I love you before I hang up though.” 

Your mouth is a little dry. You swallow hard – you’d not imagined him to have said it to you like that. Now you couldn't have an imaginative way of saying I love you back.  

“I love you too, Dawon.” 

"Do you know why I didn't want to leave?" Dawon asks.  

Of all his questions he posed to you, that was one of the hardest. You couldn't say no because it was obvious to everyone why he liked that place so much. You couldn't say yes because then you'd have to explain that it was the first place he told you he loved you and... there was too many firsts between you there for him to count.  

"It was the first time you'd had some freedom," you tell him, smiling resting on your lips as you sit down beside Jaeyoon. "Your parents used to keep you close when you were younger and they loved the idea of you being innocent until you were married. But they were great people and they let you live there because they trusted you to live on your own, but it meant you could do whatever you wanted. You didn't have to ask them to leave the house or explain to them what you were doing when you didn't come home before ten." 

Dawon laughs to himself, shaking his head. "I can't even remember my parents. I should have visited them already." 

"We can, when we're back home," you tell him.  

You hate how easy it is for you to say we. The two of you doing everything together like before, it almost seems natural. You don't want it to be natural. You want it to hurt like before so you didn't want your life to be you and him again. You wanted to hate the thought of Dawon, not crave it.  

Just as you were starting to forget, he comes straight back. Dawon had a habit of doing that.  

"You should go and have a look around," Jaeyoon says. He stands up, walking to the doorway before turning around. "I'm gonna call the coach and tell him you're making progress, just so he knows. When the doctor gets back to you, you should let me know so I can pass on the message. You need to get a replacement phone, too. Your agent and your manager are both waiting for you to call." 

Dawon frowns, looking back to you when Jaeyoon leaves the room. "Why would they need me to call?" 

"Because you're a famous footballer than has lots of stuff to do," you tell him, "you know, last season, this club from France offered you a deal but you didn't take it. I still have no idea why you didn't take it, you would have been earning so much money." 

"Maybe I didn't want to leave South Korea," Dawon suggests.  

He's probably right, even if he was taking a guess. He'd told you too many times that he didn't want to leave Korea because he wanted to at least visit you. Though he'd said that a long time ago, you didn't really know if it still applied.  

But you don't bring up any more on the subject. It would have been wrong to, especially since Dawon has turned his attention to everything else in his path. You follow him to his bedroom, inspecting all of the content of his room. There's pictures on the walls, there's jerseys and scarves from when he was a kid. There's more pictures of him with all of your friends on his bedside table, and a white bottle of pills next to it.  

Dawon leaves you alone in his room, most likely so that he can check other places. Your curiosity gets the better of you, wanting to check for anything that could explain why he came looking for you in the first place.  

There's nothing which you're not surprised to see. Sleeping tablets and empty drawers, apart from one. There's one drawer, the very top drawer that's next to his bed. You don't want to open it but you feel like you have to, and even once it's open you feel like you have to check.  

Dawon had a drawer full of pictures of the two of you. From when you were younger, right up until the last time you two were actually happy. It hurts. Not as much as it hurt him to pull all of these down and hide them from himself.  

✿✿✿✿ 

“Do you remember anything?” Jaeyoon asks, leading both you and Dawon across the training pitch.  

He’d brought the two of you back here since people were starting to worry about Dawon. Fans, people at the club, everything. His manager couldn’t lie that he was sick any more and he had to show his face, or at least show he really had no idea what the hell he was doing.  

“Is the number nine relevant?” Dawon asks. He stops walking and looks back to you. “Do you remember me mentioning the number nine before?” 

You swallow, hard. “It was the number you wanted on your shirt, but then you realised you were a goalkeeper and you couldn’t have number nine so went for number thirteen instead.” 

“Why did I want number nine?” Dawon asks.  

“It was your favourite number,” Jaeyoon answers for you. He gestures for Dawon and you to follow him, and Dawon does without question.  

“Have you decided what number you want on your jersey?” You ask Dawon, looking up to him beside you.  

“Well, I have,” Dawon says. He grips your hand a little tighter and pulls you into his side so your bodies are touching. “I want the number nine.” 

You raise an eyebrow. “Nine?” 

“It’s your favourite number,” Dawon states, recalling from his memory. He smiles at you and sighs. “Remember, you told me when we were in school once because they put us in class nine and you were happy. Since it’s your favourite number, it’s going to be my jersey number.” 

“But you’re a goalkeeper,” you answer.  

Dawon’s sweet gestures were kind, but sometimes you found them a little too much. He’s a nice guy, he loves to care for others and lives to see people have a smile on their face. Too much for you sometimes. It’s always going to be too much for you to deal with.  

“Yeah, and?” 

“You should have number one, or number thirteen,” you tell him, “probably number thirteen because you don’t want to take number one off the main keeper. If you’re number thirteen people will remember you.” 

Dawon pouts. “But I want to be number nine.” 

“If you wear number nine you have to be like… Gerd Muller or Alan Shearer. No, Ibrahimovic and Cruyff were also number nines. Ronaldo, too!” 

“Ronaldo is number seven.” 

You roll your eyes. “Not that Ronaldo. The one from Brazil.” 

“Oh.” 

“Yeah!” You pull at Dawon’s hand so that he’ll follow you to the bench close to where you’re walking. He doesn’t try to resist, following you like always. “You’re not an attacker, but you’re gonna be one of the world’s best goalkeepers, so stick to number thirteen until they make you number one.” 

Dawon hums, leaning his head onto your shoulder. “So you think I should be number thirteen.” 

“I was number thirteen,” Dawon repeats what you’d said earlier, catching up with Jaeyoon. “You were number seventeen. I remember because we played that one game against a team from England and you were in the first team with me. We won that game, didn’t we? It was like… two goals to nil?” 

Jaeyoon smiles widely. “So you’ve lost your memory but you can recall matches you’ve played in?” 

“That was right?” 

“We won by two goals to nil, and you pulled off one of the best saves we’ve ever seen,” Jaeyoon tells him.  

Of course you’re happy. Why wouldn’t you be happy that he’s finally getting what he wanted from all of this? His memory is coming back and he’s going to remember everything and nothing will change.  

He’ll think you’re a coward for not just telling him the truth.  

“Were you at that game?” Dawon asks.  

His question is directed at you, and even though your mind has gone blank, you know there’s only one answer you can give. “I was.” 

“I remember,” Dawon says. His smile is brighter than ever. “You were sitting in that seat just across from the goal and you were wearing my jersey. You looked so pretty, you came all the way to Seoul just to see me. But…” 

Jaeyoon places his hand on Dawon’s shoulder, the silence from Dawon confusing him. “But what?” 

“But why wasn’t Inseong there?” 

“We weren’t together then,” you tell Dawon. It’s not a lie, this was before everything. “I came to see you because you wanted me to. Do you remember when you had the match that decided whether or not you made it into the district team and you asked me to watch?” 

Dawon shakes his head.  

“You text me and asked me to come with you and you guys won by four goals. You and Rowoon were both in the team and I think without you two the game would have been very different. But yeah, it was the first game of yours I saw you play in and the one here was the second.” 

“Rowoon was on the school team?”  

Your nod seems to throw him back into one of those moods he’d had before. Dawon barely speaks for the rest of the trip around the stadium, you’re not even sure if he even remembers anything because he’s emotionless.  

His mala fides is back, and you have no idea what his intention is now and even if you’re stealing glances at him every few seconds to see if things have changed.  

Nothing has. He doesn’t look back at you and he certainly doesn’t care.  

Not until Jaeyoon leaves you both alone for a matter of minutes in the changing room so that he can take a call, and then you’re the only thing on his mind.  

“We weren’t just friends,” Dawon says. He takes a step towards you, hands down by his side and eyebrows furrowed. “Am I imagining things, or were we really more than friends?” 

“What do you mean, you’re imagining things?” 

Dawon looks down to the floor for a moment. His breathing is heavy and he doesn’t want to look up to you, but when he does you can’t look away. “I keep thinking about the same thing. Between the two of us.” 

“What happened?” You ask.  

“You really want me to tell you?” Dawon returns, taking another step closer to you. He’s barely a foot from you, staring you down until you can’t take it. “Fine. Fine, here’s what happens every time I close my eyes. I imagine you. You kissing me, you touching me. Anything to do with you. You’re plaguing every thought and I have no idea why.” 

Your body is completely frozen, mind rushing with thoughts of him, too. Everything about Dawon that you’d felt from the beginning. Friendship. Love. Hate.  

He places his hand on your upper arm, leaning down towards you. “And every time I think about you, my heart starts to race and my cheeks get so hot. Why? What happened between us for that to happen?” 

“It doesn’t matter what happened, you can’t remember it.” 

“But I can!”  

Dawon’s eyes are dark but you still trust him. His other hand slowly makes its way to your cheek, the tips of his fingers brushing over your skin. He shuts his eyes as the tips of his fingers reach your jaw, a single tear falling from his right eye.  

“I remember you,” Dawon says. He opens his eyes again and swallows his fears. “I remember when you used to wait for me after class and you would stay at my house. I remember when I saw Juho confess to you and I wanted to murder him. I remember when I met Rowoon and I hated the fact you were friends with him. But you’re Inseong’s girlfriend, so why the hell would you kiss me?” 

You don’t answer.  

“Did I love you?” 

You stay still.  

“Did you love me?” 

It hurts too much to give him any answer at all.  

“Can you just tell me one thing then?” Dawon asks.  

You nod, once but then again when you’re sure you want to. Dawon moves closer again, his body almost completely pressed against yours. You can feel your heart beating so fast, his must be the same.  

If he cared still. When he remembers what happened between you two then he’d realise that he doesn’t have to care anymore. He shouldn’t care at all.  

But even if he didn’t care, even after every curse you sent him and word you threw so viciously at him, you’ll never forget how breathtaking it is when he kisses you.  

His lips are still a tad dry and he’s still too needy. It’s like he’s desperate for your touch as he makes sure you know how much he wants to remember you. His hands are shaking and his lips are cold. There’s an urge you feel not to kiss him back but after seconds that fades away. He may be cold but you’re engulfed in his warmth and you find your fingers twisted in the hair on the back on his head, holding him ever closer to you so you can hold onto the nostalgia that filled your senses.  

He’s different to the Dawon who made you cry and pretended to love you.  

He’s the Dawon you knew from all those years ago. The one you fell in love with first of all.  

And when he pulls back from you, his face is a clueless as before. “Have we done that before?”  

✿✿✿✿ 

You’re sitting in your room when you get a call from Rowoon. You’d missed his initial call because you were trying to play your music as loud as you could to distract yourself, but the second time he calls you see it on your screen and you realise that Rowoon would only call if it’s important.

And things are important right now, especially regarding Dawon.

“(y/n)?” Rowoon says through the phone, his voice rushed and appearing rather urgent. “Are you with Dawon right now?”

You hum, looking over to your locked door. He was downstairs doing something, not that you wanted to interfere. The long and silent car journey back from Seoul had hurt, but now it was just awkward. Dawon didn’t want to talk to you because you didn’t answer him.

“I think I know what happened to him,” Rowoon states.

You sit up a little straighter, eyebrows knitted together as you pay a little more attention to Rowoon than before. “Really? What is it?”

“Well I looked into his medical file and it seemed that they were giving him these tablets to make him sleep. I’ve seen them used before and it showed that prolonged use of them can give people side affects along the lines of amnesia. As far as I can see, he was meant to be getting regular check ups from the doctor to make sure he didn’t get those side effects, but I don’t actually think he was going to them, which would explain why he lost his memory. It’s hysterical amnesia, he’ll get his memory back in the next few days, at the longest a week.”

As happy as you are, the words you didn’t want to hear were the only ones which stuck in your head.

He’ll get his memory back.

You’re waiting for Dawon, just like he asked, in the freezing cold without a jacket because you thought that this was meant to be urgent and you thought that he was meant to be here on time. You should have known from experience that ‘late’ in Dawon’s books is showing up two hours late, and early is being there on time.

So you kick the dry snow under your feet, arms warming you as best they can as you stare down to the snow. You’d only seen Dawon last night. You’re not really sure why you need to wait here for him when he was going to see you tomorrow, anyway.

He’s probably about twenty minutes later than he said he would be when he arrives. He’s kitted out in his training gear for the district team and his hair is soaked with sweat, cheeks puffy and skin slightly red. “Sorry… I’m late…”

“It’s fine,” you tell him, approaching him with a shy smile. You rest a hand on his shoulder as he bends down and tries to catch his breath. “Why do you look like you ran all the way here?”

“Because I did,” Dawon tells you, looking up with his eyes narrowed.

“Why’d you run?”

“Because I need to tell you something.”

You nod once, unsure of what he’s going to say. Though you retract your hand, he takes it straight back into his when he stands up straight and takes a step towards you. “Okay, tell me. You know you can tell me anything,”

“You have to promise you won’t be mad though,” Dawon says. There’s a touch of seriousness to his voice that worries you a little bit more as the seconds pass. Though you nod, wants you to say you promise, so you do. The anticipation is clouding the air with each second he doesn’t speak, but he realises you’re growing restless before you do. “I want you to be my girlfriend.”

You feel frozen for a moment, staring up to him with the widest of eyes. “Your… your girlfriend?”

“I know it sounds crazy but… I really do like you,” Dawon says. He takes your other hand in his and holds them to his chest. “You feel that? That’s because of you, not because I ran all the way here! I really like you, and every time another guy starts to talk to you I get jealous because I think that maybe you’ll date them instead of me and… I just want to date you. Please be my girlfriend?”

“You’re confessing to me.”

Dawon nods. “I know that I should have done it differently but I can’t wait anymore, okay? I want you to be my girlfriend before I leave here and I want you to know how much I do care about you.”

“But what about Seoul?” you ask.

“We can make it work. I’ll visit you and you can stay with me and it will be perfect! Don’t you think so?”

Of course you do. Dawon’s finally confessing to you and the only thing you can think about is the future. It doesn’t even occur to you that maybe it’s a good thing that he confesses now and not when he’s in Seoul so you do have some, even if it’s just a little, time together.

“I just don’t want you to find someone better than me and leave me. You know they’re perfect in Seoul. Everyone. All the idols live there and… you’ll probably find someone in a girl group who likes you and you two will be happy together and you’ll forget about me and…”

“Are you accepting then?” Dawon asks. “Will you be my girlfriend?”

“Of course I’ll be your girlfriend, Dawon!”

He looks so relieved, his lips curling into a smile as he wraps his arms around you. You don’t exactly hear what he says because you’re engulfed by all thoughts of him, of what he’s just said, but you think he says something about not worrying, because he’ll never cheat on you with anyone. Idol, or not.

“Are you sure?” you ask.

“I checked with the psychologists I know, they agree with me,” Rowoon tells you, “they want him to come in so that they can see him and try to help him. Don’t worry, we checked, his insurance covers it.”

You hum, looking over to the door again. You can’t really turn it down. Dawon will just find out the truth sooner rather than later. “I’ll be there soon.”

✿✿✿✿ 

“Did they say if they can fix it?” Dawon asks, looking over to you as he walks beside you. He hasn’t asked many questions, you’re sure he doesn’t want to overstep his boundaries now he’s realised something’s up. “Like, will they make me remember everything?”

You nod, stopping in your tracks when you see the sign pointing in the right direction. “Rowoon said that they’ll try, but even if it doesn’t work, it’s only temporary amnesia.”

“Did he say what caused it though?” Dawon asks.

“Sleeping tablets,” you tell him, looking down to the ground the second that you meet his eyes. “He’s not entirely sure but…he said that he thinks you may have taken them for a long period of time, which amounted to this happening. Which is why it’s only temporary, you’ll be fine when the effects wear off.”

Dawon hums. He pushes his hands into his pockets, sighing as he looks over to the corridor he knows he’s meant to walk down. “What happens if I remember things I don’t want to remember?”

“Why would you not want to remember things?”

“I’m not sure,” Dawon answers, “I just have a feeling that everyone isn’t telling me the full story. You said we weren’t close and Inseong doesn’t know that much about me. I kissed you…and you didn’t want me to say anything to you afterwards.”

He’s right, you know he’s remembering some things. He’s still Dawon that questioned everything even with his memory intact. “We can talk about that when you do actually remember everything.”

“I took sleeping tablets because I couldn’t sleep,” Dawon states. His attention is on the sign post that sends him in the right direction but he stays with you anyway. “I’d lay awake every night and I couldn’t train because of it. I was so tired all the time and the coach said I needed to sort it out. I’d fall asleep at training and no matter how many doctors saw me they’d never tell me why I felt that way. I know I used to struggle to sleep as a child because I remember when I used to call you and when we’d both be awake in the middle of the night together when you stayed at my house. Maybe they did tell me why I couldn’t sleep, but I can’t remember it. I don’t think I want to remember it.”

“But if you remember, then you can start to sort things out.”

Dawon nods. There’s something different about him today, something you picked up on when he kept his distance from you and jumped out of his skin nearly every time you simply brushed against him. His mind is scattered and even if you want to help him, you can’t bring yourself to help him any more than you already are.

You’d already had a sleepless night because he kissed you and reminded you of the happiness you were once so sheltered in.

“The first memory I had with you in it was when we were in kindergarten and you said hello to me,” Dawon tells you. He laughs to himself, pulling his sleeves over his hands. “You said hello to me and I was scared of you! I wanted to make friends but I didn’t expect you to say hello so I walked away and I should have just talked to you. You seemed nice.”

“You remember that?”

Dawon shakes his head. “No, I don’t remember it. I found it in a diary at my parents’ house from when I was young. They told me that was when we became friends, too.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“For not telling you that we were friends, and for telling you that I was friends with you because of Inseong.”

Dawon hums, but places his hand on your shoulder as he shows you the kindest of smiles you’ve seen for a while. “And that’s why I’m scared. Because you had to lie about how you knew me. What if I remember something that I don’t want to remember. Something which made you break your promise not to lie to me.”

“You remember that, too?” you ask.

“Of course I do. I remember when we were in school and you had an argument with that girl and you made me promise never to lie to you, and then I made you promise to do the same thing. I remember when I said that I would never lose touch with you before I moved to Seoul and I remember the first time I kissed you.”

You look up to him, eyes wide but glassy. You don’t want to cry, you don’t want to worry him. You don’t even want him to remember what he’s done because then you’ll either be tossed aside or he’ll hate himself.

“Was that a good memory, at least?” you ask him, bringing your hand to rest over his.

Dawon laughs again. It’s not bitter, it’s genuine. His eyes are bright and he’s glowing. “Good memory? It was better than good. It was one of the best memories I’ve remembered. It was my favourite, next to falling in love with you.”

It’s just too much for you to fall in love with him all over again.

“I don’t want to remember why we broke up,” Dawon says. He takes his hand from yours, placing his hands back in his pockets as he turns back towards the corridor. “But something tells me when I do remember, I’ll hate myself for it.”

“Do you know how much I hate myself for everything?” Dawon asks. He’s on your doorstep, hair covered in rain and clothes soaked through. “I’ve lied to you and I’ve cheated on you and I’ve put you through hell and back because I’m the biggest idiot to exist. I didn’t realise how much I needed you until now.”

You shake your head, trying to push your door closed but failing when Dawon pushes it back. You can only narrow your eyes at him, not allowing him to enter. “It’s been seven months since I last spoke to you, Dawon. What do you want now? To tell me to take you back because you’re never going to hurt me again? That’s what you’ve told me every other time.”

“I don’t expect you to believe me,” Dawon says. His hands are shaking as he grips onto your doorframe. “I know what I’ve done to you. You trusted me and I broke that trust. I cheated on you, didn’t tell you, then I broke up with you so that I could do it again without having to tell you I cheated on you. You forgave me and accepted me back and I hurt you again, and I kept doing it. It was just a circle of me breaking you more and more each time and I don’t want to be a part of that circle anymore. I just want to go back to me and you. I’ll leave Seoul and I’ll stay here. I’ll quit football, I won’t ever talk to another girl, I just want you.”

“You’re drunk, Dawon. You always are when you come here.”

“I’m not drunk. Not now.”

“And I won’t let you quit football because you realise how much you hurt me,” you tell Dawon. His eyes are so sorrowful but you can’t do anything about it. You can’t help him. You’re done with him now. “I don’t want to see you again. Don’t ever come back here and don’t you ever think about talking to me ever again. I’m done, Dawon. I’m done with you trying to convince me you’ve changed when you’d drop me in a second.”

Dawon shakes his head. You’re not sure if he’s crying or if it’s the rain. “Please.”

“Not this time, Dawon.”

He’s been gone for about an hour, not bothering to say goodbye to you as he rushed off into that doctor’s room so he could remember. The one thing you didn’t want him to do, and he’s doing it.

You don’t even know how long he’s going to be. You’re preoccupied by replaying all the good things between the two of you. What do you even say when he’s back? What are you supposed to tell Inseong about all of this?

Did you even love Inseong, or was he just a replacement for Dawon this entire time?

But Dawon, like always, shows up eventually. He walks around the corridor without taking his eyes off of the floor. It’s not until he’s close to you that he looks up to you and he freezes. This time you know he’s crying.

This time you don’t even know if you can tell him not this time because you don’t know if you can take it. You want Dawon. You need Dawon.

But only if everything hadn’t been a consequence of his mala fides.

“I’m sorry.”

✿✿✿✿ 

Not everyone is conventionally nice.  

Let’s say you meet a boy in your kindergarten. He’s small, he looks friendly and you try to speak with him so you can build a friendship with him. Except, when you're trying to talk to him he walks away from you and he acts like you never even said a word to him. What does this lead to? The teachers are disappointed you can't make friends and force you to sit next to some girl who doesn’t have any personal hygiene, and you eventually will get a cold from just sitting with her that one, fateful, time.  

You'd think the boy is kind of rude. Not your type of boy at all. Understandable, really. You wouldn't like to be stuck with him as a friend and that's fair enough; he's not actually that nice to you. Defining nice is hard enough but when you take into account personalities and cultures, it becomes a lot harder. You have those people who are nice but talk shit behind their backs, you have those other people who are nice because they're told to be, but really they couldn’t give a shit.  

As it turns out, the boy you're imagining is called Dawon and he's the same age as you. He's from Ilsan, he's a Leo and he is sweet, actually. It will take you a while (as in, a very long time) to get out of him what star sign he is, but you know you'll be good friends because your sign gets on well with leos in many ways.  

Dawon walks away from you when you try to be his friend in kindergarten and is the reason you come home with a cold that day. He's the reason the teachers are so damn annoyed at you, but he's also the reason you're so happy at your kindergarten for all of the days after that.  

All because he sits on your table for lunch the next day and introduces himself to you with the cutest voice and sweetest smile. Of course you're only young, so you don't think much of it and see him immediately as your best friend for life, something that sticks for a very long time too.  

"My name is Dawon," he says, sitting on the chair across from you and placing his sippy-cup down. "I'm going to eat lunch with you." 

You nod at him and continue eating as though he's not even a stranger to you. "Hi Dawon. I'm (y/n). What lunch are you eating?" 

"Beef. You?" 

"Chicken." 

"My mum says it's not good to eat chicken during the day," Dawon tells you. Your four-year-old mind takes what he says far too seriously and your heart drops a little. "It's bad for you, she says!" 

You push your food away from you and cross your arms over your chest. "I better not eat that then. It's bad for me." 

"You can have some of my beef, though," Dawon says. He offers it to you with a smile and waits for you to take some. "Can we be friends, (y/n)?" 

Nodding, you smile and take some of his meat for yourself. You're sure your mum would have told you off for taking his food but he's your friend now! That's how you justify it to yourself in your mind. Dawon is a friend of yours now. "Yes! I would like to be your friend, Dawon." 

"Friends forever?" 

"Yes," you confirm. You probably won’t just be friends though. You’ll be enemies, you’ll be lovers and you’ll be so much more. Not that you know that when you’re that young; Dawon is exactly the same. “Forever.”