You almost considered not coming to the wedding at all, what with everything that had happened, but who were you to deny the puppy dog eyes of your best friend?
It was almost ironic—how Minho's eyes filled with tears as his almost-wife walked down the aisle. Funny, you kind of wanted to cry too. Your clothes felt too tight, suffocating, like they were this close to offering the escape you were hoping for, but still not quite getting there. It was this place, you concluded, these people. You didn't belong there, not with girls next to you in dresses costing more than your rent, men with watches costing more than your car, not with crystalline chandeliers overhead and hundreds upon hundreds of gold foil dipped flowers.
Your eighty-dollar outfit itched like no tomorrow.
The real reason you truly didn't want to come, however, was seated three rows up, wearing a suit worth more than, well, everything you owned. He hadn't seen you yet, thank god, but your fingers tapped anxiously against your thighs. All he had to do was turn around and you'd be done for.
One look at that face and you'd throw away everything you'd worked for.
Even though you hadn't seen him in years — three, to be exact — you could still remember every detail of his face, of him. It was like he stamped himself in your brain. After days and months and years, you still couldn't forget. How could you? It wasn't easy forgetting the love of your life.
But you parted ways. And that was that.
There was no going back.
The ceremony ended beautifully, as expected of your friend—a romanticist and over-spender to the very end. As soon as everyone was allowed to stand, you high-tailed it out of there. No need to cause any unnecessary drama.
For the rest of the evening, you kept an eye on him, making absolutely certain that he never saw you. Getting out of there without contact would be the best possible outcome of the night.
But, since Mother Fate had hated you from the beginning, tragedy struck.
You'd gone to get a drink during dinner, which was fine because he was sitting a ways away, his back to you as his own table conversed between themselves, but of course your luck had it so that he too became thirsty at the same time. As you turned around from the open bar with a glass of champagne in hand, you very nearly bumped into him.
"Ah, I'm sorry," you said, not knowing yet that you'd run into your worst nightmare. Looking up, your eyes widened, matching his perfectly.
He looked older—not physically, really, but more mature. His hair, which had been dyed back when you were together, was now returned to his natural black, and his once sharp gaze had softened. He stared at you, eyes shakily roaming up and down as if to see if you were really there in front of him.
You gulped. "Chan…"
No words came your way in terms of a response, in fact, it seemed as though Chan had froze—quite similar to how you had reacted when you first saw him that evening.
Without another word, (because what good would that do) you bowed your head and attempted to walk away. Perhaps you could do this; walk away. You'd done it before.
A hand, warm and clammy, gently wrapped around three of your fingers, beckoning you to stop.
Ah, he didn't do that last time.
"Wait," he repeated, more calm and quiet now that you had decided to stay. "Wait."
Even after you stopped, his hand kept its place around your fingers. Unwillingly, your mind flashed with memories of him, of you, of the pair you once were, of lips on lips, of late-night giggles, of lazy mornings. He never used to hold your hand under the scrutiny of the public eye, but whenever he could, be it under a table or in the dark of a movie theatre, your fingers were always the first thing he went for.
You could feel your face start to get warm and glanced around to see if anyone was looking. Many were, to your utter embarrassment, their heads turned to watch. After all, how many times in your life will you see the country's richest young bachelor with his hand around some… regular old you.
"Okay, but not here," you bargained. If there was anything you wanted least, it was causing a ruckus at your best friend's wedding—especially over something so small as an ex boyfriend from three years ago. "Please."
He silently let you lead him out, hand still clutching yours. As much as you probably should have taken your hand away (for sanity's sake), you didn't.
You had no idea where you were going. The venue, a hotel for only the one percent, felt like a maze. Perhaps Chan could feel that; he was always the person who knew you best.
As you passed the front desk, he pulled you away from your imaginary path.
"I need a room," he told the clerk.
She looked at you both, him determined and you hiding your face out of anxiousness, hand in hand. You knew exactly what she was assuming.
"Sir, we don't really—"
He cut her off by detaching your hands and pulling out his wallet, placing his ID on the marble countertop. She took it, albeit doubtfully, but gasped when she read his name and bowed, apologizing profusely before ringing up what he asked for.
Right. You forgot he practically owned this place.
The journey to the room (the penthouse suite, for god's sake) was silent and awkward. Chan hadn't reclaimed your hand since he let it go at the desk, and your fingertips felt cold without his. In the elevator, you kept your eyes on the very interesting corner rather than the oncoming cataclysm standing beside you.
Once in the room (though you hesitated to call it that when it had a full kitchen and three bathrooms), you stood awkwardly at the door. Somehow, it felt like an intrusion, even if he had brought you there himself.
Both of you'd still said nothing. You had no words, none that you would've allowed yourself to say, anyways.
He walked in without taking off his shoes, going immediately to the fridge and pulling out a bottle. He went to open it, but stopped himself. The bottle stayed on the kitchen counter as he walked away, back to you.
"We need to talk," he said, trying his hardest to sound like his voice wasn't about to crack.
You were well aware of that, the need to talk. But there was nothing you could've said.
"Now isn't a good time."
"So when is it a good time, huh?"
Never. Never would be great. Optimum.
"Chan," you tried, "it's been three years since we broke up, you need to let—"
"Since you dumped me, you mean? Three years since you suddenly said you were in love with someone else? That you only used me for my money? Three years since you completely disappeared from my life?" His breathing became staggered, uneven as his frustrations leaked. "But please, tell me exactly what I need to let go."
You sighed. What you needed was to take control of the situation, and you weren't. "Me, Chan. You need to let me go. I used you, I dumped you, I was a horrendous bitch about it, and you should absolutely hate me to the bones."
"Oh believe me, I hated you," he half whispered with a nihilistic smile.
Hated. Past tense. You tried to push that thought back.
"Then why are we here?" You met his eyes, hoping you looked strong instead of how broken you felt. Any longer alone with him and you'd cave, that much you knew for sure.
He stepped closer, and you subconsciously backed away, your back pressing into the closed door.
"Because," he whispered, hand coming up to press against the door by your head. Leaning in, he paused only centimetres from your face. You almost missed the way his eyes studied your lips before once again meeting your own. "You lied."
He glanced at your lips. You glanced at his. The space between you shrunk, though you weren't sure if it was because of you or Chan or the combination.
"You lied," he repeated, and you could feel his words fan over your chin. "You never fell in love with someone else. I know."
"You sound very sure of yourself."
"I have my sources."
Minho. That snake bastard.
Just slightly, you pulled your head back, once again able to meet his eyes. You missed them.
"You're making a mistake, Chan." The words left you as breaths; anything stronger and you'd have buckled under the pressure.
He moved in, so close that you could feel the phantom of his touch. "Then tell me I'm wrong," he said against your lips, "Tell me you used me, that you fell for someone else. Tell me again that you never loved me at all."
You'd said those words before. They were familiar to your tongue, still burned in from the first time you fired them off. So why were they stuck in your throat now? Why couldn't you crush his heart like you did three years ago? It would be so easy.
Your silence was more than enough for him.
His lips moved against yours, and you reacted on instinct. Your hands traveled up to his jaw, each cupping a side of his face, pinky fingers brushing the hair at the nape of his neck. It was all so familiar, every press of his lips, every graze of his hands as they ran over your sides, every touch, every smell. His hands went to the backs of your thighs, and you knew exactly what he wanted—you always had. Jumping into his arms, you wrapped your legs around his waist as he locked his hands together underneath, just like he would when carrying you piggyback. He walked to the couch with you in his arms, sinking into it so you ended up on his lap, never once stopping for breath.
Everything burned. Each nerve ending set on fire against him. Him. Your movements were desperate, rushed, just like his were. He kept readjusting his grip—as if it could get any tighter—just to keep you from disappearing again. The air around you sizzled, waves of heat flowing and flowing. It was a dance of body and tongue engulfed in flame. All too fast, all too hot, all too much.
Then it cooled.
It cooled when you needed air, when you couldn't tell whose tears were falling on your hands, when the awful truth of the situation rushed to the forefront of your mind.
This was the opposite of what you needed.
But exactly what you'd hoped for. And you hated yourself for it.
You slumped in his hold, forehead pressed against his. When you pulled away and looked at him—truly, for the first time—his eyes shined with tears fallen and falling, a beautiful, slight smile on his lips.
He looked so happy as a nervous laugh escaped him. A shaky hand brushed your hair out of your face and found itself stable resting on your cheek, the other still on your waist. His thumbs rubbed back and forth, something he always did that you'd so desperately missed.
You broke. Your head fell to his shoulder as you let yourself cry freely. He had never judged you for crying, and he wouldn't now.
You'd lied to yourself for so long—three years. And now you'd lost it all because you weren't strong enough. You were weak.
His arms wrapped around you. For the first time in years, you felt safe; at home. Yet your heart pounded, screamed at you to run away.
Once you were done pitying yourself, you raised your head. When you faced Chan again, his smile still blessed your existence. Why couldn't he just hate you?
"Because," he answered softly, "we're in love. Head over heels. Desperately, helplessly, unapologetically in love."
"How?" Your voice came out in a hiccup. You probably looked awful, eyes all red from crying. Though, you wouldn't have been able to tell with the way he was looking at you.
He laughed slightly, and you pouted your lips. This was a very serious situation, you thought, but he seemed to be taking it much more lightly than you were.
"I don't know if you remember this," he started, taking both your hands in his and resting them on his chest, "but I waited a long time to tell you about my… social status. When we were friends, you still didn't know, and even when you first asked me on a date, you were still in the dark. You knew I was at least well off like Minho, but you still insisted on splitting bills and buying me things you couldn't afford." His thumbs ran over the backs of your hands. "I told you the truth three days after you first told me you loved me, and still, nothing changed."
He was right, you didn't remember at all. His wealth had never meant that much to you. It wasn't like he kept a huge secret, anyways, if you'd been more invested in the one percent's who's who, then you would've known either way.
"You never used me for my money," he continued, "that I knew."
"Minho was the one who said you never tried dating again. He said you completely erased that aspect of your life. That's how I knew it was really all a lie." His eyes became sad, while his shy smile persisted. "Because when you like someone, you tell them. Just like you told me."
He kissed you again, light and skin-deep, but heartfelt. His eyes fluttered closed, but you kept yours open.
"I wish I found you sooner. I have so many 'I love you's' to say back." His lips moved to your neck, where he simply stayed still, the warmth of his face nuzzled so closely seeping through your skin.
Chan never said "I love you," but in that time you'd been together, you knew. It was in the way he touched your fingertips, the way he knew your favorite orders, the way he looked at you when he thought you weren't watching. His heart had always been on his sleeve, whether he knew it or not.
Tears began to flow down your cheeks again, silent this time. "I can't… You can't, Chan. I don't deserve that from you."
Another kiss, this time in the juncture between your neck and shoulder, sweet and slow. "Why not?"
"You're here now." He readjusted his arms around you again.
"I know. I know." Your voice started to become choppy. "But I can't stay here. I can't stay with you."
It was almost as if he wasn't listening at all, his attention focused solely on hypnotizing you through slow, soft kisses on your neck. And, just maybe, it was working a little.
"I left for a reason."
He hummed into your skin, the feeling reverberating down to your bones. Every moment with him had you falling further and further. He was more lost than you were, not paying attention to a word you said as he indulged in the dream that was you and only you.
"Chan, please." You set your hands square on his shoulders and pushed him into the back of the couch, his eyes still glazed over and half-lidded, lips still pursed to commit crimes against humanity. "I need you to listen. There's a reason I lied to you three years ago."
By the look on his face, you knew that while he'd figured out you lied, he never thought about why.
"We were young, stupid. We thought we could get through anything as long as we had each other. But you're you and I'm me. We can't change that. This world doesn't run on love, Chan, it runs on oil, and money, and greed. If we stayed together, I would have dragged you down with me."
His eyebrows furrowed. Eyes flicking frantically back and forth, he looked down for a moment before whipping his head back up again, eyes wide.
"My father forced you..."
"He did!" Chan cut you off. "He says that all the time! Oil and money and greed!"
To this day, you still remembered his father's speech all about how you weren't enough for his son. That you would've been a stain on his flawless reputation. Dammit, you didn't think he had a damn catchphrase.
"Listen to me, Chan." You cupped his face and made him stay still. "This isn't about that, it's—"
"Of course it's about that! I've been looking for you for three goddamn years and now I find out it was all my father's doing? All this time I stressed out thinking you hated me and—"
You kissed him. Deep and full. If there was one thing Chan never resisted, it was your kisses.
"I love you, okay?" you whispered when you pulled back, the words brushing against his lips. "I loved you then and I love you now and I'll love you from now on, but that's all I can give you. I know you won't be satisfied with just words, but it's all I have."
With that, you crawled off the couch and fixed anything out of place before walking to the door.
His faint, dejected words stopped you.
"Please," he breathed, "I want this. Us."
You didn't turn around, knowing full well that if you did, you'd run back to him.
"There's no 'us' anymore. Not today."
His footsteps were light and slow as he stood and made his way to you.
"But there will be." You shivered as his fingertips brushed against your arm. "I promise, there can be. So stay. Stay, and I'll make sure… I'll make sure that tomorrow, there's an 'us'."
And who were you to say no?