Genre: Romance, angst, non-AU, idk man i don't like this whole 'genre' thing
Summary: Hongbin and Hyuk and how one trip abroad changes their views of theirselves and each other.
Total wordcount: 12,834
A/N: Ok, so, I know I said when I wrote my Navi fic that my next project was Keo, but then I watched some of the making film of "Only U", and bam! Hyukbin. ;;; Keo shall come too, though.
Anyway. Since this is long I spit it into four parts and I'll update once every 30 minutes, starting now. So if you're here and all the parts aren't posted yet, just hang on for a bit~ enjoy!
On the flight to Sweden, Hongbin realizes that the reason he feels so at peace in airplanes, in buses, cars and trains, is because he's free to think. Better yet, he can solve all his life's puzzles and give answers to every single question, because no matter how scary the answer is, in those moments trapped in a stiff seat, he can't do anything to act on his insights even if he would want to. He's stuck. The pressure is off. And his mind is free to roam.
"Hyung, how much do you know about Stockholm?" Hyuk asks in a hoarse voice, staring up at him from under his cap. To Hyuk's left, Taekwoon is listening to music with his eyes closed, while Hakyeon is sleeping soundly. The image is the same to Hongbin's right, where Wonshik has his earplugs in and Jaehwan is staring out the window, even though it's dark and there's nothing to be seen out there. "I wanted to read up on it a little bit, but I couldn't find the time..."
Hongbin leans back. "I know Sweden is a... free-spirited country," he mumbles. "I know they prefer friendliness over politeness, if that makes sense. Their official language is Swedish, but English is mandatory for their students from a young age... so they can probably all speak English well." He coughs a little while collecting his thoughts, leaning his face towards the youngest without looking at him. The yellow light from above their seats makes everything feel unnatural, but then again, he hasn't felt like himself for a long time now.
And he can feel Hyuk's eyes from beside him, can feel the younger man's admiration of him. "Anything else?"
"They don't have much of a food culture as far as I've heard. Music is important to them, tough. And Stockholm is just by the coast, so apparently there's a lot of water and beautiful scenery there."
He throws the other man a short look, and Hyuk nods at him, listening attentively. "You know," he says, almost whispers, "I almost feel a little like an intruder, flying over there without knowing anything at all about the culture or their history or anything, really."
Hongbin smiles at that. "Don't worry, Hyuk-ah, the concert is still two days away. You have plenty of time to learn."
Hyuk nods, staring ahead again. Hongbin takes a deep breath as discreetly as possible, and tries to steer his thoughts towards something nice, something that can keep him awake. The flight will take close to twenty hours, which is inhumanly long to sit still, alone with one's thoughts, but Hongbin can't go to sleep. He'd be physically able to, yes, if he tried he'd probably fall asleep within ten minutes, but he knows Hyuk still has a fear of flying, and the guilt over leaving the youngest alone so high up in the air keeps him awake.
"Hyung," Hyuk says in a quiet whine for maybe the seventh time in the last two hours, and though Hongbin's head wants nothing but to sleep, he mumbles out a confirmation of his awareness. "Please talk for a bit."
Raising an eyebrow, Hongbin turns towards the other man again, while Hyuk pulls up his feet on the seat and turns his whole body to face him. "Talk about what?"
He shrugs. "Anything." A few moments pass where Hongbin searches through his mind and Hyuk's eyes are fixed on the buttons on Hongbin's shirt, and then Hyuk spits out the problem Hongbin knew all along: "I don't like flying."
Hongbin slips his hand into Hyuk's and doesn't think about the consequences. He doesn't return Hyuk's gaze, though; he has enough thought capacity to steer clear of the disaster that would cause. "So what do you want to do when we get there? In our free time?"
Hyuk leans his head against the backrest of his seat, it's uncomfortably shaped and doesn't let him relax, but he doesn't care. "I don't know. Maybe just walk around and see what it feels like, you know? It's so far from home."
Hongbin nods. "Sounds nice."
His eyes fall shut as he nods and whispers out a "yeah." Neither of them say anything else, and in the end, Hongbin falls asleep, though he tries and tries so hard to stay awake, and he continues this struggle in his dreams, his subconscious knowing he's letting the one person that means the most to him down, and maybe if he was awake he could tell himself to calm down, because it's not such a big deal, but in his dreaming state he's just about ready to cry.
His hand squeezes around Hyuk's from time to time, but it goes unnoticed, because what Hongbin doesn't know is that Hyuk is fast asleep, too, body tense but mind in peace.
And that is how the two of them work, Hongbin clinging onto his thoughts, while Hyuk disregards his own, and follows wherever his heart takes him, feeling so much and not ever stopping to question it.
At a hotel they've never heard of in a city they've never seen, the question of "who rooms with who" is saved for Wonshik, Hakyeon, Taekwoon and Jaehwan, because when it comes to Hongbin and Hyuk, no one even bothers anymore. After all the times Wonshik asked Hongbin if the two of them should room together, with the latter nodding with a very telling, sad smile on his face, and after countless instances of Hakyeon throwing an arm around Hyuk's shoulders with the same request, while Hyuk's mouth says "sure" but his eyes are fixed on twinkling, disappointed eyes and shallow dimples – yes, after all of this, no one bothers to break into their bond anymore.
Outside the door to their hotel room, Hyuk reaches out an arm to stop Hongbin before they've had a chance to enter. "Hyung, wait – let's do that thing that newlyweds do."
Hongbin's mind does a flip and a half, and he stares at the other in confusion. "You mean when the groom carries the bride over the threshold?" Hyuk nods, bright smile vibrating all the way to Hongbin's stomach and imprinting in his memories, like photographs taken by his mind, and he feels himself trembling. But he shakes his head as Hyuk gives a breathy laugh. "I'm not a woman, Hyuk-ah."
But Hyuk snorts, like he always does when Hongbin can't follow along with his enthusiasm. "The groom doesn't carry the bride because she's a woman," he states, with deep creases in his forehead when the happy smile is replaced by a scowl. "He carries her to try to prove to her his willingness to protect her in the future, too."
Hongbin bites the insides of his cheeks and hopes that can stop redness from filling his cheeks, and then he steps into the room, bright and clean and homey, with windows facing a park they passed on the way in. He takes it all in, everything from the TV by the beds, over to the door to their bathroom, and he likes it instantly.
"Hyung!" Hyuk calls from the hallway, jumping up and down on the spot, and in his mind Hongbin can see sparks flying from his eyes.
"What?" he says, shrugging innocently.
"Why did you enter? You ruined it!" the younger whines, and he looks like he might be about to catch on fire, so Hongbin hurries over there.
"Fine, fine," he says, standing in front of the other man. "I'll carry you instead." Hyuk gives a quick nod, and Hongbin turns his back towards him, and before he has any time to adjust, Hyuk comes flying, landing on his back with a heavy thud. Hongbin stumbles into the room, the door falling shut now that Hyuk isn't there to hold it open anymore, and Hongbin barely makes it over to one of the beds while the younger laughs breathily in his ear. He tries to dump him on the bed, but as Hyuk slides off his back, he hooks his arm around his neck, pulling Hongbin down along with him. "Hyuk— wait— you—" he tries before his face presses into the bed by Hyuk's shoulder, effectively silencing him.
Hyuk's hands slide off his shoulders, and then Hongbin feels his legs being lifted off the floor, up on the bed, and when he lifts his face from the sheets, Hyuk's hands are sneaking around his sides, pulling him further into the bed. He feels drowsy instantly, and he's sure Hyuk knows exactly what he's doing.
"Hey, it's only four pm," he mumbles, but can't help but close his eyes when Hyuk's body curls up against his own.
"Not in my brain, it's not," the other replies, with his hand on the back of Hongbin's neck. Their shoulders are touching, and soon Hyuk's legs tangles with Hongbin's, and a comfortable warmth starts enveloping Hongbin's mind.
"The others are going out sightseeing," Hongbin says, tries to insist, but he can't deny he'd much rather stay here, just like this, hoping that nothing will happen between then even in this position, even though they're locked up against each other's bodies, even though they're in a foreign country that's full of autumn's every color, even though Hongbin's head is filled with romantic clichés, secret kisses in abandoned alleys and handholding at the docks. "We should go with them."
Hyuk's hand wanders from his neck down over his back before he embraces him so tightly that Hongbin feels like he doesn't need to breathe. "You think too much," he says, and has said so many times before. "What do you want to do? Without keeping anyone else in mind..." he pauses, sighing in contentment as Hongbin fists the back of his shirt, stroking his back, "including me?"
Hongbin thinks about it, and when he starts, he can't stop. It's only four pm, and what normal person goes to sleep at four pm? In a foreign country nonetheless, and he should really take advantage of the fact that they're here, because it's not like they get to Sweden every day, and what will he say to Hakyeon's questioning glances later or tomorrow morning? What will he say when they ask him why they didn't come along?
"I want to stay here with you," he says softly, and it's mostly true. Honestly, he just wants to make everyone happy, wants to do what is expected of him, much more so than he wants to give in to the feelings that hide beneath. But even so, Hyuk is part of 'everyone', and he just so happens to be the one who holds his heart in his hands, so he thinks it must be okay then.
Hyuk's chest presses further against Hongbin when he takes a deep breath. Their hearts don't beat in time, and it makes Hongbin feel more alive. "Good," the younger whispers, "so we stay."
Three different pairs of hands knock at their door with growing impatience throughout the afternoon before everything goes silent. Hongbin wakes up for a moment around thirty minutes to midnight, and by then they're underneath the covers, and he's sure he wasn't the one who did it. He thinks then that Hyuk should have been the one to carry him into the room, because it's true; the younger protects him so much better than he should.
Hongbin knows somewhat that thinking is bad for him, because he does it too much. But it's comforting, sometimes, staring yourself so blind at something that when you take a deep breath later, take a step back to look at the situation in its entirety again, you understand everything better. And it's never as bad as you thought it was while you were obsessing, which is always a relief to the heart. Yes, like this Hongbin is a believer in no happiness without sadness, no light without darkness, no good without evil.
He's an intelligent person, and he's aware of it. And the truth is, he uses his thoughts to make up for feelings that he can't control, feelings he shouldn't have and that other people might not accept in him. Because really, he thinks, how bad can it really be that he has these feelings if he chooses to ignore them, repress them, think about them rationally and not act on them? He can't control what he feels, so how can he be blamed, really?
By now he already feels so much for Hyuk (he doesn't want to say love, no, he doesn't think that's a word you should just throw around), and he has accepted that. It's been this way almost from the get-go; looking back now is like staring down into a spiral in which he falls deeper and deeper for someone he never expected to, and watching the boy in question fall for him right back. He knows that Hyuk has feelings for him, and he knows that Hyuk knows of his affection, too. What he doesn't know, is why Hyuk is holding back, and has been for so long.
He knows why Hongbin himself does, though. It isn't about (potentially) loving another man, at least not for his own sake. He's long past the days of staring at naked women in raunchy magazines and telling himself he likes women, because he doesn't, and to him that means nothing more than homosexuality. He's not a bad person. And he's not under any delusions that it has any effect on his value as a human being. That's not where the problem lies.
But there are other things. It's telling his mother and father he's not going to get married (and his family loves a good wedding, that's for sure), it's sneaking around with whoever his future boyfriend will be, it's about pretending he has an ideal type that applies to girls, and it's about doing all this against his own will. If he was a normal non-celebrity, he doesn't think he would have cared about all this. He probably wouldn't be walking around with a sign that says "I'm gay, please come beat me up," but he would tell the truth to the people close to him.
It's never about his own wishes. The feelings of anxiety and stress piling up and weighing him down are never about his own expectations. It's about other people, always, unfailingly, every time. He wants to make his family happy, but he's not going to succumb to the image society has painted and tried to make him think he wants: wife, house, kids, maybe a dog, maybe an uncontrollable mother-in-law that he can dread to meet every now and again.
There's happiness in that, too. But there's a whole other kind of happiness, one that Hongbin thinks suits him better. Like this one, the one of sleeping in Hyuk's arms, feeling completely at peace, undisturbed. It's a pity that this one happiness that he treasures the most should be so awfully difficult to explain to his surroundings. He hates that he even has to.
So he hopes nothing will happen between them yet for a long time, that he's still months or years away from having to explain this to his parents, to the rest of the group, to anyone that might see them together. But there's a growing anxiety, a thought that feels like a knot that's about to untie in the back of his mind whenever he thinks too far about the question of himself and Hyuk. Because even though his biggest problem is expectations, it's not just about him, now, is it?
Though Hongbin and Hyuk both know they have feelings for each other, they have never once mentioned it out loud. Never talked about it. And Hongbin doesn't know how far Hyuk wants this to go on for, this platonic, careful romance they have, the one where their hands never wander beyond where a friend's would, where their gazes only linger on the other's lips when he isn't looking, and Hongbin doesn't know how much it would take for someone else to swoop in, kiss Hyuk on the lips, love him like he deserves to, and steal Hyuk away from him. What will he do then? Sit around kicking himself for not taking the chance, for being too scared, for not being able to forget how he dreamed Hyuk's lips would feel against his own?
The knowledge that Hyuk could so easily slip through his fingers is the most terrifying he has. And at the same time, it's a relief, because no matter how good it feels by his side, he's also terrified of keeping him.
Hongbin's minds never rests.