donghyuck wasn't a coward, but he could hardly be called a lionheart either. the way he loved was undeniably profound — the feeling imbibed him whole, leaving a preposterous fool after everything ended before it even had the right to start. donghyuck was an expert at making up excuses, which was nice, because that gave him the power to laugh every awkward interaction off. for he was, at the end of the day, just a young boy wanting to find someone to love, but being too afraid to try being in an actual relationship. it was not because nobody wanted him, but nobody was ready to take everything he had to give, and he had a lot.
johnny appeared to be braver. touching of his cold fingertips felt gentle on donghyuck's skin, electrifying even. he was caressing donghyuck's tanned cheek with the thumb, occasionally stopping on his moles. it was easy to feel vulnerable under his gaze, and that was what donghyuck didn't like the most. at any other time, he could keep people wrapped around his finger, but donghyuck wasn't used to receive tenderness without asking. he was always ready to initiate, to lead the moment, and johnny made him quiver with anticipation. it never came to his mind that their bond could take such a drastic turn after they started living together.
donghyuck said nothing. johnny was ready to give him everything nevertheless — this painful truth opened before him with the strange feeling in his guts when johnny asked, “have you kissed anyone?”
donghyuck had. oh, he had. it never felt right, though. he nodded, unsure. he never considered kissing as something to brag about; he was nineteen already. at nineteen people brag about other things. and still, he perceived any sort of intimacy as something that was not supposed to be shared. the question caught him off guard. he fidgeted under johnny's hand, which all of a sudden felt so heavy, and a little bit sticky.
love me now was playing in the background awkwardly when donghyuck finally let out a simple, “yes”, and johnny seemed both relieved and mournful at the same time for some reason. donghyuck was unable to catch which one, for he felt tipsy and tired, and johnny smelled like beer, and he was warm, and they were alone in their shared room. the place gave him comfort every time.
johnny was so passionate about decorating, making a little place of their own pleasant to spend time in. donghyuck ruined their idyll sometimes. he would leave his belongings everywhere, or make a mess out of another attempt to sneak out and get a night snack. that didn't make johnny mad, he just sighed and looked at him with sheer disappointment, and that was enough. that made donghyuck's skin cover with goosebumps, and he would rush to make his half of the room to look decent at least. johnny was that powerful, but maybe it was just donghyuck and his futile infatuation which never left.
johnny kept silence for quite a long time. donghyuck waited — he was okay with waiting, for he had been doing it for many months already. his almost non-existent love life tasted bitter as johnny's morning coffee he sometimes siped, which made his delicate features screw up. donghyuck pretended to like coffee more than he actually did, as that made johnny ask him for a company during his morning coffee ritual. the feeling of belonging was nice, so donghyuck just let it be.
curve of johnny's lips looked adorable, and his voice sounded soft, and donghyuck had loved him since he was seventeen. what a waste of youth. these were supposed to be his best years, but donghyuck was spending them in attempt to fall out of this love, and fall into another one. he never succeed. girls and boys he met were smart enough to differentiate between sincere feelings and tacit despair. donghyuck was so, so full with his love that he needed to share.
overwhelming warmth was spreading in his body at the sight of their hands, connected. johnny’s broad and massive palm gifted him a taste of something solid, appeasing. his own slender fingers, quite the opposite, were unsure of the ways he could still afford himself to touch johnny. donghyuck had always been insatiable for touching, which became the standing joke of the whole company, it seemed. donghyuck faced gossips graciously.
he had never been alone in general sense, and always had someone. his big family, his big group, his big circle of friends. it didn't include any big love, though. johnny knew that well, they could spent nights chatting even if their schedule was pretty tight. donghyuck loved such nights — they both desperately needed an innocuous mechanism of coping with stress, and it worked. even if johnny used to be sceptical at first, maybe during the first couple of years, time made him realize an important truth — donghyuck could be young, but he was not a naive child in need of guidance. donghyuck appreciated that johnny trusted him — both as a person and as an artist. he asked for his help even, so donghyuck was proud; the feeling of being acknowledged was the greatest of the ones he had.
the thought of them kissing was crazy, but here they were, so close that donghyuck could see every wrinkle on johnny’s face, these fine lines flowing from the edges of his eyes. johnny, being the kindest person he had ever met, smiled a lot, and that was his cost. the eyes were tired and pretty, cat-like, and donghyuck loved the gazes they granted him. he saw the stubble, growing out already, and wanted to press his own smooth cheek to the johnny’s rough one, to rub against it. at this point he wanted to feel anything at least to be grounded.
for a moment he thought about how he himself looked like in johnny’s eyes. there were a lot of scars — on his lids, on his brow, on his knees. donghyuck paid no attention to them, as well as to his moles. sometimes he wondered how many scars his heart had. johnny caressed the one on his right eyelid, which was particularly distinct and deep. notwithstanding that it obviously didn’t hurt, a thin layer of sadness covered johnny’s face.
“it will never heal”, johnny whispered, frowned. “i’m not able to protect you from anything. there will only be more. i’m so sorry.”
“don’t be. that’s okay. and that’s life. people get hurt everyday”, donghyuck tried to laugh. the laugh sounded shaky and nervous.
johnny suddenly moved even closer. donghyuck squeezed his eyes shut tightly — the comfort he got from johnny was still there, but johnny’s heavy presence stirred a tempest in his heart. it was too much — too close, too intimate, and long hoped-for. johnny murmured, “can i..?”. and donghyuck nodded, for he was on the edge and forgot all the existing words. the kiss on his right eyelid felt soft, chaste, but that was enough to leave donghyuck breathless. his fingers gripped johnny’s t-shirt, begging. he regretted there was no scar on his lips.
johnny smelled like beer, and he was warm, and they were alone, and donghyuck felt like crying when johnny did the same with the other lid, and then with his brow. and then johnny bent over to lift up his bare leg, as donghyuck was wearing his favourite pair of shorts, as usual, to kiss the knee just the same — soft, chaste, and loving. the man was so tender that it almost hurt, as though each one of his old scars opened up and bleeded once again.
when these lips with adorable curve touched his own, donghyuck twitched. johnny’s hands stroked his sides, calming. a strange, distressed noise left his throat, he didn't even recognize his own voice. the moan was quiet, but obvious, and johnny not only heard him. he felt how his whole body vibrated at the touch, and welcomed johnny, and trusted him, and loved.
and that, at last, felt right.