Genre: AU!Drama, Romance
Summary: The soft murmur of the name, a simple task he couldn't fulfill. The very name that would pull the thread and unveil what had been treading carefully amongst the broken glass.
Donghae walked amongst his co-workers, listening idly to the playful conversation as he stood up, staring up at the darkened skies, the white snow gradually falling around him.
"There's..." His voice trailed off, his co-workers continued on, used to their friend's random bouts.
This feeling stayed with him, a word that edged closer to the tip of his tongue, but had yet to be said. Trapped in the corners of his memories that he hadn't and still couldn't quite reach.
If he tried to pry those very doors open, they'd stubbornly lock themselves further in, waiting for the very word he couldn't say.
Seven Years Earlier:
The group of volunteers entered the home, staring in subtle disgust and some with cheery excitement as they each held onto buckets and tools. Donghae looked around, curious at the dreary appearance of the apartments.
In the spirit of the giving holiday season, they were given the task of repainting the homes, Donghae reluctantly allowed him to be pulled along with it.
For the most part however, he walked from empty room to room of the complex, avoiding the task at hand. He stepped into the last apartment and looked inside, his eyes scanned until they noticed the brown rope on the surface of the roof.
He pulled it without thought, and ducked as the stairs landed roughly on the ground.
He stepped upward until he reached the attic, an array of boxes and tools surrounding him. It wasn't until he landed on his knees, looking over them as he spotted the young man who laid against the wooden floors, staring through the small window outside.
Donghae tripped his hand into the box, making the other sit up immediately as their eyes met.
"You are?" Donghae asked.
The young man seemed shocked, as if he had never been asked a question. "Henry." He replied quietly.
A short while later, Henry asked honestly, "How did you notice me?"
Donghae considered it a peculiar question, it took little effort to finding him. But he realized that the boy hadn't reacted to the loud sounds of the stairs moving either, maybe no one else had bothered to make that slight effort.
The boy had been used to being ignored, that he simply found himself invisible amongst the crowds.
"Why are you here alone? Why didn't you leave with the others?" Donghae asked.
Henry didn't seem as bothered now, answering simply as held his knees to his chest. "I like keeping to myself."
The curious man reached for the few boxes, pushing them aside to make himself room. "Sometimes, loneliness is hard to hide." Donghae said in heavily accented Mandarin.
Henry furrowed his eyebrows at random quote.
At his puzzled expression, Donghae added in fluent Korean. "You're not that invisible as you think you are."
In the present day, the swirl of memories meshed further, and Donghae struggled to place them in order.
He walked alone beneath the delicate display of lights that were held above, he almost wished he had someone with him to enjoy the same view. He looked back, almost by habit, but no one was there to react to his weakened smile.
His mind then placed the scenes in order, and the fallen pieces formed as they begun to play.
Henry's scarf bounced against his chest, heaving the cold air as he tried to maintain pace with Donghae.
The older man stopped every so often, giving the other time to catch up. They stood together, looking at the extravagant trees set up in the park.
"See?" Donghae asked with a smile, Henry followed his direction and nodded. His smile faded, realizing Henry's focus wasn't in the scenery, but focused on the people around them. His suspicions confirmed that Henry didn't enjoy keeping to himself, but was simply too afraid not to.
Donghae reached for his wrist, pulling him away from the developing crowd of people.
"What do we do if we get separated from one another?" Henry asked idly, constantly looking at the ground.
Donghae then lifted his chin upward, forcing him to raise his head.
Donghae scanned the area until they rested on the distant bench built on campus grounds, and gestured towards it.
"There." He smiled. "It's easy enough to spot, right?"
Henry had said nothing, and Donghae wondered whether that was a sign of approval.
Later into the evening, Henry was sitting on top of the snow-covered hill, overlooking the aura of bright lights that emanated from the park below. His entranced gaze made Donghae chuckle softly, once Henry noted that, he looked back at his hands.
Donghae gently brushed the bangs away from his eyes, Henry stiffened as a quick peck was placed on his forehead.
At his silent question, Donghae pointed up, "I vaguely recall an item that requires that."
Henry furrowed his eyebrows, above them was only a tree, nothing close to a mistletoe visibly showed itself.
"Hmm. I may have been mistaken then." Donghae insisted afterward.
Henry had spared an odd look, but still remained quiet, debating the truth in his statement. Donghae stood up, stretching his arms above his head, blissfully unaware as Henry hid further into his intertwined arms, burying the redden hue that colored his pale cheeks.
It had been years since Donghae stepped into his Korean household, a former residence his family still owned but rarely visited.
He stepped in, hoping to be basked in the presence of his memories brought to life, but sighed at the lack of prompting by the very home he lived in. It was bothersome how his memories hadn't yet returned. For the most part his family had filled in the missing pieces, but there was something else.
He stood in his bedroom, the room kept up to the par as he reached out for items, hoping that one would prompt something, anything. He almost gave up as he plopped down on the bed when he hit something, and reached within the pillows to see an unrecognizable book.
One that contained his cherished belongings, he recalled briefly. Yet the contents at a blank as he opened it, inside with other items, was a cellphone.
He connected it to the charger, watching with impatience as his phone turned on, its first sign of life in years and was mildly surprised it still worked. But it was long out of service.
He searched through the contact list and the photos, when he caught the sight of a mailbox symbol to the lower right, and clicked on it.
Every message, almost dated day-to-day, its content held the number '3' with no other message attached. He realized they had stopped a few months after he left South Korea.
The next day he returned service to the phone, his curiosity getting the best of him when his phone began to vibrate uncontrollably. Signaling the surplus amount of messages it received from its past.
They continued on since that day, decreasing over time but still it remained. The last message was received only a day ago.
He glanced at the name of the contact who continued sending them, and furrowed his eyebrows.
He tilted his head. Is this person, this contact, an old friend that his memories couldn't recall?
"Every time you're lonely, text me the number three, and I'll come right away."
Donghae smiled up at Henry who stood at the top of the small ladder, and arched an eyebrow at his declaration. "You're doubting me."
"How can I not?" Henry said quietly, reaching for the book in the highest shelf and slowly lowered himself onto the ground with Donghae's help. He then asked, "Why the number 3?"
Donghae leaned against the shelf, placing a headphone in Henry's ear as it resonated the music he listened to. Henry recognized the foreign language of the song.
"This song is saying that you'll if you 'Close your eyes, silently recite three times. Call my name three times and I'll appear.' Or at least, from what I can understand." Donghae admitted shyly, returning to the table.
Henry lowered his eyes as he continued to hear the tune, understanding the second part of the message that Donghae didn't understand.
'With closed eyes I counted three times. You were suppose to appear,'
Henry closed his eyes.
'Yet, you swallowed your words.'
Henry pulled away the headphone and grasped the black edges in his hand.
The setting shifted, the warmth of the library gone as it faced the blistering outside. The black, nimble headphones morphed to the stark bars in front of him. Standing in the frozen ground, his gaze covered by his bangs as he stared at the house in front of him. A now empty home.
'Making me unable to see you.'
Donghae clutched his head as the scenes flashed through his mind.
Flashing lights, weight falling onto the ground, surrounded by worried faces. It hurried past his mind as the flashes continued, the days meshing together at the blaring lights overhead, the sound of his mother's cries, the blood that entered his body.
Donghae, sitting up against the pillow, quiet as he stayed in the hospital room.
"Ah, you're just a classmate?"
Donghae, bandages loosening over his eyes, was unable to see the figure who entered the hospital room. His mother speaking for his behalf.
"...Yes. I am." Henry had answered, a lingering bitterness tracing his words.
He gave an apologetic smile as he left the room, away from sight as he walked down the hallways, the smile struggling to remain painted on his lips.
Inside the room, his mother moved to adjust the curtains around his bed, and heard her son's belated question.
"Who is he?"
The phone dropped onto the ground as Donghae clutched the bed sheets.
He was more than that, he realized. The once locked doors pried open as the rush of memories roamed, allowing him to remember.
Henry wasn't simply a close friend.
The only light illuminated from the small Christmas tree set against the corner of the attic, its cords bungled together behind it. Its dim light revealed Henry who laid once more against the wooden floors. His fingers tracing the smooth glass, the book opened against his chest.
He heard a shuffle of fabric and turned to see Donghae's hands on either side of him, hovering closely above.
The intensity in his gaze alone made him shift his eyes away, it was clear that he was the only one Donghae ever saw, who he ever wanted to see.
The air hitched in his throat as Henry closed his eyes, his heart pounding as Donghae closed the gap between them, his lips captured as he gently caressed his lips with his own.
He couldn't stop running.
The jagged footsteps behind him increased as the man hurried his pace. Running through what he felt was familiar, hoping from instinct or habit, stuck at a standstill for the past seven years that he was freed from.
Within the secluded grounds of the empty campus, his gaze searched as he panted for breath, drawing in the harsh air that seared his throat.
He wasn't gifted with being able to see what wasn't there.
It was clear to see the man dressed entirely in black, whose dark appearance contrasted against the white background.
Sitting on the cold bench, the man had his eyes closed, tapping his fingers to some soundless rhythm against his arm. His features had matured over the years, his hair styled differently, his clothes now crisp and tailored compared to his once casual clothing.
His hands intertwined together, settled in his lap. Moments after, his fingers gripped the raven cloth, his shoulders tensed, all common gestures as he recited the distant promise. And yet still, he was afraid to open his eyes.
Just once, he often prayed. Just once appear before him, look and search for him as endlessly as he had. Please, he always begged. No matter how many times he kept to the promise, the person wouldn't appear. He had to face that brutal truth.
His insecurities had achieved the best of him.
Henry had refused when Donghae wanted to introduce him to his family.
He kept his name secret, coded simply because Henry was afraid to draw attention to himself.
He disallowed himself to be publicly seen with the other merely because he was afraid, for reasons he now found unjustified.
It was now when Donghae had left, leaving no trace to where he could have gone, that made him realize the extent he placed himself in. It gave him no credibility to search, to find someone who may not believe him. When no one but Donghae and Henry themselves knew the extent of their relationship.
Only now, it was Henry who wallowed in those memories alone.
Now he had matured to this state, the reckless attitude he held had long ended as he moved out of the attic. He had grown, built relationships, lasting friendships with others, taking initiative. Feigning confidence as he pushed through his insecurities, the shackles that held him back, fighting to be known, to be seen.
The hectic, the fast-paced, the array of time he lived to this moment breezed by, to times when he simply stopped. He'd open his eyes and be disappointed, overcome with the same emotion that once crushed his very being when he stared through the fogged glass at the darkened skies outside.
He couldn't help but return, despite his repeatedly pierced heart that still held the scars, a constant reminder of the past. During these times, he embraced simplicity, a calm but bittersweet reminiscence as he settled onto the bench.
He allowed the memories to roam freely, falling around him like shattered glass. It cut through them the longer he dared to relive them, but relished within their warm hold.
He reached for his phone and pressed the familiar numbers, his finger pressed against the single three, and sent. Despite it all, he couldn't admit that happiness had found him, that he moved on...
"You only made it worse." Henry said lowly, his loneliness he couldn't bother to hide.
A single word spoke between parted lips, followed by a puff of a white smoke that mingled in the frozen air. Henry felt a hand on his own, clasped over tightly, he opened his eyes and stared at the gesture.
"I'm sorry." Donghae apologized, kneeling before him into the snow.
Henry stiffened, his eyes wavering as they focused on the man's image in front of him. He, by inch, moved his hand but held back. In case this was an illusion taking shape, his heart couldn't risk breaking it.
Henry smiled. "Don't be. I'm the foolish one for waiting, right?"
Donghae placed his hand on his cheek, Henry's smile weakened as he reached to grab Donghae's wrist, gripping it with all his strength. Terrified at the mere thought that this illusion would leave him.
The illusion remained, solidifying until it became fact. Once it settled to Henry the reality of the moment, his eyes glazed over, his clear vision blurred.
Henry leaned his head against Donghae's shoulder, his tears shedding freely as he closed his eyes. Donghae held the younger tightly, careful not to hurt him.
The feeling that had followed after Donghae, passed the tip of his tongue as it escaped through his lips, the name he called softly, soothingly, as he embraced him.
It was later that night that the bench stood empty, as if no one had waited those long hours. The snow beneath it long paved over, erasing the two that stood there hours earlier.
The winter was relentless in erasing the proof, the evidence of a reunion. But it still lingered in their memories, the fingerprints that remained engraved in the corner of his heart still belonged to him.
Beneath those darkened, distorted skies. Always, and forever, deeply imprinted.
A/N: The lyrics mentioned are from the song Call My Name by 183 Club and 7 Flowers. The fic itself based partly on the lyrics of Blind by TRAX.