(The title and the cut text are taken from this song by Trentemøller, which is fantastic. Besides, I think minimal/trip hop is the best for reading fics. This fic is unbetaed, fyi)
Sunggyu scrapes the wooden table with his nails, feels the porcelain cup under his fingers, traces a circle on the table with the spilled sugar. Slowly and unconsciously, his finger starts tracing a too familiar sign; he takes a sip of the tea, his cell phone vibrates inside his pocket. "Hello?" The voice on the other side of the line is soft and grave. "It's ok, I'll wait here. Hurry up?" Yes, yes. Sunggyu looks out of the window, the day is gray and the weather in Seoul is starting to get cold. He used to be always on time.
"Sorry I'm late, hyung. I'm going to order something, ok?" The younger turns towards the bar.
"Woohyun-ah," Sunggyu calls. "Can you order a tea for me, please?"
"Chai tea latte." Woohyun smirks.
"Chai tea latte."
Sunggyu is smiling coyly when Woohyun finally returns, two cups in his hands and a chocolate bar in his pocket.
"How are you doing? It's been a while." Woohyun is the first one to speak after a short silence.
"I know, I'm sorry."
"I didn't call or anything, I have been neglecting you lately."
"It's ok, the CEO told me you're recording a new album anyway. You must be busy."
Sunggyu stirs his tea lazily.
"Yeah, I am. How is the musical doing?"
"Fine, just one more month to go."
"I'll try to go before it ends."
"You have already seen it, you were at the premiere."
"Yeah, but I want to see it again. I want to buy a ticket and help the musical do well."
Woohyun's soft laugh surrounds Sunggyu for a moment. He used to laugh outrageously, but his laugh, just as everything else in Woohyun, has softened with the years.
"Don't be silly, I'll give you special passes if you want to see it again."
"I told you, I want to buy the ticket with my own money. I can afford it, don't worry about it."
"It's not such a good musical anyway."
"I liked it."
Woohyun leaves way too soon, and Sunggyu is left wondering how the younger has such a busy social life when Sunggyu barely has any friends ever since the boys stopped living together. He also wonders when did he stopped being Woohyun's best friend, when did he get better ones.
He plays with the half chocolate bar in his hands before finally putting it inside his pocket and leaving the coffee shop.
Infinite never officially disbanded; their contracts didn't expire, they didn't leave the company, and they weren't in bad terms, but at some point they grew too old to be sharing a dorm and they grew too old to stick together when each of them had different aspirations.
Sunggyu gets himself a girlfriend in winter, one that is exactly his type. She works for the company, which makes everything easy, and is fairly independent, which makes everything easier. She has long hair and fair skin, just like he always wanted (there was a time he only thought of running his fingers through tanned skin, but that was a long time ago). He doesn’t know whether he should introduce her to the other members; he wouldn’t have hesitated some years ago, but now he hasn’t seen any of them in a couple of months, and he’s sure he hasn’t seen Sungyeol and Sungjong in almost half a year.
He texts all of the members right away, just to ask how they are. Woohyun doesn’t reply, but that’s just something he would do.
Some days after he visits Dongwoo in their former practice room, where he spends most of his time now. Sunggyu brings a bag full of kimbap and Dongwoo greets him with a big grin.
He laughs heartily and talks about the dance lessons passionately, and Sunggyu feels for a moment at ease, lying on the wooden floor, looking at the fluorescent tubes, in that place that’s not his anymore. The conversation flows naturally towards the rest of the members; it doesn’t matter how much their lives have changed, Infinite will always be their common place.
“I don’t know, I haven’t talked to him in a while. He’s kind of busy…”
“Hyung, he’s not doing anything right now, I thought you-“
“Well, it’s ok, maybe it’s me who’s too busy anyways, you know I sometimes neglect this kind of things.” Sunggyu smiles widely; Dongwoo thinks he was always the best at playing dumb.
“No, hyung, you don’t.”
During their Infinite days, Sunggyu was never sure which members knew. He suspected Hoya, by the way he looked at them sometimes, and Sungyeol probably. And now, years later, he laughs dryly when he realizes probably all of them knew that his relationship with Woohyun was different.
“Doesn’t it feel weird?” Sunggyu mutters finally. Dongwoo looks at him confused.
“Us, talking about the members, wondering how they are doing,” he stops only to sigh slightly. “We used to know everything about each other, didn’t we?”
“Yes, we did.” Dongwoo lies on the floor besides the older.
He thinks he sees a spark of understanding in Dongwoo’s eyes, but he’s not sure anymore. Apparently, he was always bad at reading people.
His girlfriend is painfully silent in bed; Sunggyu finds himself adding it to the list of things he doesn’t like about her. There aren’t many, truthfully: she doesn’t have the better taste in movies, she taps her fingers nervously sometimes and she has a fat cat that hates Sunggyu. And the only noises she makes in bed are soft pants, and when he looks back on his past sexual partners, he remembers how his first girlfriend used to whine loudly and the girl he dated a couple of times after debuting liked dirty talking. And then he remembers how he had to cover Woohyun’s mouth when the other members were at the dorm, although he really liked it when they were alone and Woohyun could moan and groan as much as he wanted, and hum against his skin in the aftermath.
“You can’t hold on to the same people forever, that means you haven’t changed, and if the people you meet doesn’t change you then what is life about?” Woohyun had said once. Even if half of the time Woohyun just blabbered, Sunggyu saw in that sentence the perfect definition of their relationship.
Woohyun kissed him for the first time one year after their debut and they had sex two weeks after, the younger whispering sweet promises into Sunggyu’s ear, the older coming completely undone. Sunggyu was steady and level-headed where Woohyun was impulsive and impatient, and even if the younger flirted with the cordi-noonas and made out with girl groups members in the backstage, it was always Sunggyu he came back to. The people you meet changes you, he always said, and Sunggyu didn’t have the courage to stop him from meeting new people. Woohyun stopped flirting with others at some point, and Sunggyu wasn’t sure if it was because he had developed some sort of faithfulness but it was kind of a nice feeling. Even if he knew it wasn’t meant to last.
He gets a call from the CEO one night, his voice troubled. He hasn’t heard from Woohyun in weeks. Sunggyu sighs, tells him he’ll try to contact him. He hasn’t heard from Woohyun in months. He calls him, nobody answers. He tries to remember when was the last time that the younger actually texted him, and finds himself lost in his old messages, some of them dated 4 years ago, when Woohyun used to text every day. I met someone today, he reads once and again.
He decides to go to his house a couple of days after, during a break filming the new MV. Nobody opens the door and he doesn’t know whether he should start to seriously worry; he even thinks about calling Key, even if they never were specially close, but he hasn’t heard of him in a while and he suspects he’s not even that close to Woohyun anymore. He realizes he has no idea who the younger hangs out with now at all.
He waits outside the door for around one hour. After that, he decides Woohyun’s not coming back. He texts Where are you? and then hurries back to the filming set.
It wasn’t a harsh break-up; Sunggyu’s not even convinced it was a break-up. He remembers quite clearly the faint light of the dawn reflected in the Woohyun’s features the day they were supposed to move out of the dorm. He remembers playing with the younger’s fingers under the sheets. He remembers Woohyun’s lips against the skin right under his ear, and he remembers him saying “You will do good, Sunggyu, I know because you deserve it.” He remembers kissing Woohyun, hiding his face in the crook of his neck and dozing off, but he can’t remember having kissed him after that anymore.
Woohyun breaks down one evening in the late summer, a couple of days after the CEO called Sunggyu again, not being able to reach the younger for a month already, and when Sunggyu least expects it. He knocks at his door in the evening, soaked in sweat and with a trail of tears on his cheeks. Can I come in? What happened? Never mind. Woohyun sleeps in his sofa that night.
He actually sleeps there for three days; Sunggyu's not bold enough to ask him why. After the first night, Woohyun crawls inside his bed in the middle of the night and the older shivers at the familiar feeling.
They barely speak until the fourth day, when Woohyun cuddles by his side at the sofa, eyes fixed on the TV. The light of the TV reflects on his face, highlighting his defined nose. His skin is blemish-free now, no traces of the teen acne they had to deal with when they lived together. Sunggyu wants to touch it, to trace every single curve of the younger's face, but instead he just says "What happened?"
Woohyun turns slowly, probably knowing this time would come sooner or later, but eventually smiles softly. "Nothing."
"Why do you try to lie to me after all these years, as if you didn't know I know better?"
Woohyun sighs. "I haven't worked since three months ago. And I haven't gotten any offer for that matter. I don't know what to do, hyung."
Sunggyu hesitates briefly before extending his hand to touch Woohyun’s nose, then moves it until it’s cupping his cheek and eventually moves to his scalp and pulls him in an embrace. Woohyun just complies, staying silent the whole time, until Sunggyu can feel his t-shirt dampening.
Even if the years have softened him, Woohyun has never been one to feel shame. It’s not about all that fake self-confidence he projected when he was overshadowed by his stage persona – Woohyun never stuttered back then, and he didn’t start even when he had to leave the idol behind to become just Nam Woohyun. But right now, he has his head lowered and his lower lip is trembling, and Sunggyu can only think of a couple of times he has seen him so vulnerable before, and only because he is Sunggyu.
“Hyung, I want to go back to that time, to the time when we shared a room, to that time when I was... happy.”
“Time doesn’t work like that, you can’t go back.” Sunggyu mutters. “Besides, people change; we are not the same we used to be.”
“I wish we were.” Woohyun traces the curve under Sunggyu’s lower lip with his thumb slowly. “I wish you could always be the same for me, even if that’s selfish.”
The older pauses a moment, pensive. “Woohyun, I have a girlfriend now.”
Sunggyu comes back home on the fifth day only to see that Woohyun has left.
"It's ok if you have a girlfriend. I have one too. I will wait for you." Woohyun had said, and it sank to the bottom of Sunggyu's stomach and refused to leave. Wait for what? Sunggyu wonders if somehow he has been waiting for this to happen.
The CEO calls him two months later, and he knows it means reunion, because there are only three weeks left until their 9th debut anniversary. They haven't been all together ever since the last anniversary, Sunggyu feels ridiculously nervous, Sungjong's hair is blonde again and Myungsoo seems to be the only one who hasn't changed a bit. And Woohyun is back. He is also skinnier, but he already knew that.
They meet at the CEO’s house, which is their same old dorm. Sunggyu’s already been there, but he can never get used to his old room being transformed in a kid’s room, the marble floors now covered by carpets and the kitchen full and tidy. His wife and his daughter are visiting the grandparents, the CEO says, feel at home. They all move around awkwardly, not really knowing how to feel home in a place that’s not their home anymore. They briefly discuss their scheduled practices for the typical anniversary concert, which doesn’t take very long because all of their careers are still managed by the company after all, and they aren’t as busy as they used to be.
Sungyeol manages to convince the CEO to treat them to dinner and they end up in the same BBQ restaurant they went every time they had something to celebrate, if only because it was one block away from the dorm.
“When will you guys marry and settle down? I want grandchildren,” the CEO says when they have already drunk too many bottles of soju.
“Yah, yah, hyung, what are you talking about, we’re still young!” Sungyeol squeals.
“Please Dongwoo, bring me some joy, tell me there’s still hope, you have been with your girl since forever.”
Dongwoo chokes on the soju while Myungsoo claps cheerfully. “Doesn’t Sunggyu have a girlfriend too? He’s the older, he should be the first one!”
All the eyes turn to Sunggyu, whose cheeks are red, either out of embarrassment or because he has drank way too much, or maybe both. “We broke up, guys, sorry to let you down.”
“Noooo, hyung, why?” Sunggyu decides they shouldn’t give any more alcohol to Myungsoo when he starts whining.
“Her cat hated me,” he plays with the small glass in his hand. “I swear he once plotted my death with a squishy toy!”
When he raises his head with a chuckle, the others erupting into laughter, he realizes Woohyun is staring at him intensely, probably has been for a while.
“Oh God, you’re never going to marry, you’re teens!” The CEO is complaining loudly, but Woohyun and Sunggyu are not listening anymore.
Five minutes later they are making out in the bathroom, and even if the last time they kissed was four years ago, it feels like they never stopped doing it. Sunggyu’s hands perfectly remember their way through Woohyun’s hair, Woohyun’s fingers curl the right way around Sunggyu’s waist. Sunggyu runs his tongue across the younger’s lower lip and tastes the soju, the unsaid words, the years that have passed. When he tastes his own tears, Woohyun breaks the kiss and looks at him intently, wiping the tears on his cheeks with his thumb. Sunggyu, Sunggyu, Sunggyu, Woohyun mutters against his lips, I can’t stop thinking of you.
They go to Sunggyu’s place together, stopping to make out in every corner. It’s cold, so they lean on each other as close as they can, and they are in the middle of the street, but they can’t care any less right now. Woohyun kisses hungrily, and Sunggyu replies just as eager.
That night, when they are both naked under the sheets, Woohyun peppers kisses all over Sunggyu’s body.
“You have changed,” Woohyun says softly. Sunggyu only hums in response, half asleep. “But it’s ok.”
The older opens his eyes slowly. “Woohyun...”
“I have realized,” the younger mutters against his skin, “that the people that changes you the most is the one you should hang on to.”
Sunggyu buries his hand inside his dark hair and Woohyun holds him tighter, and none of them realizes when they fall asleep.