the day donghyuck was born was the day god created a human being with the strongest greed, as his lust for life was spilling out of him through the wondrous dazzling light he radiared. gods were saying he was going to change the world for the best with his power of love, as people, nonchalant and shallow-minded, were incapable of understanding its unfathomable nature, as they forgot their origins. son of aphrodite, he had no choice but to love. all of him was made to magnetize, to appeal, to make people give their hearts away without hesitation. donghyuck's life was supposed to ignite the true unconditional love inside of every restless soul. he was promised a great path.
people were not that astonishing, and donghyuck turned out to be unable to return anything they were giving. gold, pearls, all of the earthy treasures, bodies and souls were left untouched. they looked up at him, teary-eyed, shattered, as if not loving back was a crime. still, for him, son of aphrodite, it was.
"why don't you love me?" the girl asked, her hair being an umber hurricane, beautiful disastrous storm. the waves were framing her face, and her voice sounded like that of a drowner struggling to breathe and to be. sometimes donghyuck still felt a little bit guilty, but she wasn't the first one, and, obviously, wasn't the last as well. woman's love always made him uneasy, being too honest and desperate for him to handle. they were overflowing with love, while men allowed themselves to be enslaved by insatiability, and there were no place left for something unconditional.
aphrodite used to say that he just wasn't ready to open up to anyone who wanted him, but, actually, he didn't have to. love spark was not necessarily connected with profound understanding, and donghyuck knew that. nobody truly cared for him since he, as a divine entity, failed to bring out the best.
donghyuck had met an insanely large number of people, heard every word of praise, and was granted piles of gifts. still, the only power donghyuck possessed was, probably, the power to hurt everybody without proper trying. immense melancholy veiled his heart in the most sincere of ways — he was going to have many, many lives, and the possibility of eternal loneliness seemed hard to comprehend. maybe one day gods would decide for him to not be reborn again, and his anguished soul would just dissolve, unloving.
"the world deserves to have you", pleaded johnny, "and your everlasting effulgence." during such moments johnny used to become quieter, more serious, face painted with the dull color of umbrage, as if donghyuck hurt him too.
they had long, deep conversations, and it seemed like johnny was genuinely interested in him , for he never asked donghyuck about where did he come from, or who he was. donghyuck suddenly was nobody's son and had no weight on his shoulders anymore. it had always been simple with johnny, for he never burdened donghyuck with anything he couldn't provide, or promise. the man had enough prudence to accept things as they were.
johnny was the first person donghyuck touched willingly — they held each others pinkies, as though the whole palm would be too much, while going round the small, cramped space of johnny's workshed. the undeniable finesse of his sculptures was astounding; under johnny's hands, marble breathed. donghyuck felt just the same.
the heavy smell of the place was smothering him, so his head was spinning quite a bit. but this smell permeated johnny's clothes and skin, and became him — something earthen with hints of warm wax. johnny's long silky hair, usually tied in a tail, was swaying down his broad back. that seemed intimate, and donghyuck stifled the urge to let his fingers sink in this smooth cascade.
longing for touching felt novel, but didn't scare him, only made his body tingle with excitement. despite johnny's body being much bigger, stronger than his smaller one, donghyuck never once felt unsafe in the presence of this man. opening up johnny's heart was like finding a precious gemstone hidden in the cleft of a rock. donghyuck wanted to explore the unknown.
"one day i'll create a sculpture in your honour", johnny said, beaming at him.
and donghyuck replied hastily, "you already have me." johnny caressed the outer side of donghyuck's palm with his thumb, face wearing a pretty mix of astonishment and pleasance. donghyuck wanted to kiss these smiling lips of his sweet and slow in one desperate motion; he would have to bring johnny down by the neck somehow to reach him. he never did.
and they had each other for some time, for a brief moment of joy, until there was nothing to explore.
in their first shared life johnny died young, still unknown, because of blood poisoning through a single cut, for people of that time were so, so fragile, even the ones who seemed bigger and stronger than the rest. donghyuck's nature was different from johnny's one — he wasn't capable of accepting anything. donghyuck, as a demigod, appeared to be useless. he could give love, but he couldn't give life.
aphrodite bewailed. the goddess felt sorrow for her son, so she asked other gods for help to give lovers another chance for the name of love. they agreed on one condition — johnny would not remember anything in any of their lives, for he was just a mere human being. but he wasn’t just someone — johnny became the first person donghyuck fell in love with, and that was more than enough for him to stand out from the whole humankind.
so donghyuck waited longsufferingly, with his heart finding alleviation in the promise of reunion. the boy had met even more people before he grew into the man. they still managed to see the light lost years ago, and the purest melancholy curled up cozily in the back of their saved souls like the tamed wild animal. people grieved, too, not knowing why. that was when donghyuck understood something significant about love: it asked nothing and hurt quietly, and was beautiful in the way it stung.
in his next life donghyuck is born with the legend sealed in the deep roots of his memory, something physical, and every blood cell in his body spreads this knowing for him to feel and never forget. he remembers what it's like to hold johnny's hand — his safe and callous palm of a sculptor. the cold touch of marble under his fingertips soothes his mind, and the heavy smell of clay and wax burns his receptors. johnny used to make smaller models of his future works with these materials.
in their second life johnny smells nothing like this.
johnny has shorter hair, and his smile seems softer, and he smells like pastries. when they meet for the first time, donghyuck's stomach growls, so they laugh. laughing makes easier to pretend he's not on the verge of tears. he has no proof, and he has no right to bustle in someone's life, unwanted. when he turns his back, squeezing a loaf of bread in his fingers, donghyuck is convinced — johnny doesn't remember anything.
in the matter of months donghyuck becomes a regular customer of his; they even get to chatter freely when there is no queue. johnny is a nice man, still, he'll always be. their meetings are brief, insignificant, much more simple than what donghyuck imagined: he used to think about it as of something special, epochal, groundbreaking.
he wonders whether gods are looking at them from the sky, or from wherever they are. when their hands touch — accidentally, awkwardly — the feeling is familiar, and his heart almost spills on the counter and smudges the bread. donghyuck wants to hold johnny's hand for once, just to make sure. the possibility of recognition tingles in his consciousness, deceiving.
during one of their usual morning dialogs donghyuck learns that johnny is married with children, and at that moment, as johnny is talking about them, his facial expression is unforgettably blissful and full of peace. even if donghyuck's heart shatters, he never shows it. johnny is, probably, a great husband, and a great father, his family must be the luckiest to have him. donghyuck's lonely life lies on the opposite end of the spectrum.
donghyuck has a lot of admirers; people have mastered the art of love and lovemaking for centuries, but it doesn't make his heart flutter the way a sliding contact of their hands in the bakery can. the truth tastes hopeless on his tongue when he's being kissed by another man, or woman. sole practicality of this act leaves no place for adoration. he just feels mouth to mouth, skin to skin, and gives away every single bit of love he somehow has left.
johnny's daughters are beautiful — the girls inherited their father's sunny disposition, his festive nature, and the way his eyes hide and turn into crescents with the first signs of laughter. the girls are also nice, and they love donghyuck: both are running to him the moment he appears at the gate, and snuggle like little kitties do. this life hurts, but he smiles and always keeps something sweet or entertaining inside of his holey pockets. the light of the sun is blinding, and he squints, maybe the corner of his left eye is shiny and damp just a little bit — he blames the sun. the smaller girl takes him by the hand, and her baby fingers are so tiny that she grips only two of donghyuck's fingers with the whole palm. the gods are laughing.
and then goes their third life, and fourth, and fifth one — they don't stop repeating themselves in the way they're tragic and frustrating. johnny can't remember him, and donghyuck meets him either too soon or to late. in the sixth life quenchless hunger eats them alive, and donghyuck finds himself pinned by the strong and heavy body of johnny. all of him is made to magnetize, to appeal, to make people give their hearts away without hesitation, but johnny doesn't want to gift his. it's a one time thing: vivid, sparkling, numbing, marking the first time they share a bed, ending with a mess on his niveous sheets.
open-mouth kisses pressed against his stomach are ticklish, so donghyuck giggles. johnny's piercing gaze makes his breath hitch — flustering people with the power of an intent look is still a habit of his. the urge to cover the face with his arm is tempting, but donghyuck takes up the challenge and stares back, even when johnny moves down. and then he feels it. unprompted muscle contraction, slow building of pleasure strikes him like billions of tiny explosions bubbling under his skin. the experience is overwhelming, nerve-racking, and donghyuck finally lets himself go, running his fingers through johnny's hair, ruining the perfect styling, massaging gently.
after these small manipulations johnny looks wild, unrestrained. many years have passed since donghyuck saw his hair being long enough to cover his shoulder blades, and he misses it a little. the game they play is unfair from donghyuck's side, for he enjoys it much more than he should, and he's surrounded by the comfort of a familiar human being, even though they have never once laid together, let alone johnny considering him a stranger. beautiful, tempting, but distant.
when johnny raises his head, lips glistening with spit and precum, a few strands of hair fall on his face, and donghyuck falters to contemplate the massive frame of this man and the feeling of reliance it gives him.
"you look like a god", confides johnny.
"i am", and they laugh.
"such a shame people don't make sculptures to glorify this beauty", he whispers, fingers tracing the curves of donghyuck's thighs. he freezes until the spell breaks with a kiss, sweet and slow, the one he has been dreaming of since their first meeting long, long ago.
"marble fits the best", he whispers, testing the waters. no answer follows.
spring mornings are poetic, therapeutic, purifying even; the sun paints his features a delicate warm golden color. every cell in donghyuck's body strives to perceive and appreciate johnny's presence, engrave the feeling in his memory for eternity. the moment bears warmth and long-awaited connection, so everything happens naturally, by instinct, and donghyuck's desperate longing for johnny's soul calms down. for a one night stand this is going painfully tender, and his heart aches, suffocating in the cage of ribs.
johnny's hand finds his, intertwining their fingers, and this gesture truly is too much. small delicate shape of donghyuck's ear fascinates johnny, and his heart is full with adoration for its sophisticated maze, and softness of the earlobe which he nibs lightly.
"if i tell you i'm ordained to you by fate, will you ran away?" donghyuck muses. johnny conceives it as a blushless flirt. once again he has to wait for something that never comes; donghyuck does, though. his body melts and dissolves in the flow of time, finds peace in johnny's hands and becomes whole.
"what's your name?" johnny asks, holding the door handle already. maybe he doesn't care at all.
and then the door shuts.
the next life marks the peak of his greed; the dazzling core of his blinds millions of people, as he's always on display. living in modern world opens up new chances to transmit the idea of love. he shines, and he glows, and he burns in his own flames. donghyuck is, once again, promised a great path when he is only a little frightened boy singing on the toughest day of auditions. the world is yet to know him, but the warm hand of aphrodite ruffles his curly hair to make sure the boy knows she is proud, and she has always been.
when donghyuck meets johnny, he's small. they don't interact much, divided by the gap and different groups of friends, but he marvels at the tiny possibility of them ending up in the same group. and to his surprise, donghyuck becomes the first to debut, so the gap between them grows faster than he does. permanent guilt venoms his rejoice until he gets johnny's attention and asks for help to find a nice cafe, for he knows pretty well coffee is one of johnny's vices. suddenly his boldness crumples with a single touch of their fingers — johnny knows him better than anyone else, unaware of their bond.
"the world deserves to have you and your everlasting effulgence, haechan-ah. i'll follow you, just wait," johnny says, and donghyuck's body tenses. somehow he manages to force the words out of his mouth. "i'll wait."
they are compatible in the way that annoys others, with them being perfect partners in crime when it comes to reckless pranks. johnny buys meals for the overworked donghyuck, carries the boy on his back, cheers for him when usual confident demeanor falters in the face of the ruthless industry they both connected their lives with. so they both are desperately trying not to grow thorns, not to become stale; donghyuck had a lot of practice for this one.
he doesn't try to run away from his origins anymore, so he accepts the love he gets, and generates inconceivable amounts of light, unending and pure in its nature. when crowd chants his name, and splitting music beats echo in every muscle of his body, stage feels like home. so he shines.
sharing his worries with johnny feels unfettering as they lay in johnny's bed with their noses almost brushing. his own bed stays empty during some nights. donghyuck recalls the times he visited johnny's workshed and they spent hours finding pleasure in each other's presence, and their current life together is the closest thing to the genuine reunion. johnny grows his hair out a little for the kick it promotion, highlights glistening in the sun like gold — donghyuck loves it like that.
he would have known him blind just by the way donghyuck's feather-like touch lingered on his skin vacillatingly, johnny ponders. only one person on the earth can store such infinite amounts of gentleness and exquisite grace. his soft honey skin is warm to the touch, pleasant to plant kisses on, or trace with fingertips. the only flaw donghyuck's body has is his crooked pinky of the right hand, and johnny is always filled with sentiment for the most vulnerable part of donghyuck, as if it stored all of his true delicate nature, which is neither perfect nor imperishable.
he reaches for donghyuck's palm, narrow and asymmetrical, but so dear, and connects their fingers.
"do you.." donghyuck's voice shakes. he looks unsure, eyes flaring with hints of ancient universes. "do you want me? for the rest of your life, and many others to come."
johnny holds his right pinky, awkward and crooked, unbending, and both of them know.