Siwon/Hankyung/Heechul, PG-13, 1,039 words
Heechul is the princess, Siwon is the knight in shining armor, and Hankyung is every monster.
Heechul infiltrates Siwon’s life as a deluge of kaleidoscopic brilliance against stark white. Siwon hates and loves all the little parts of Heechul – the quirky mannerisms, the off-brand humor, the biting sarcasm – hates them because they are the exact opposite of everything he aspires to, loves them because none of his values matter when it comes to Heechul. Heechul is so much brighter, smarter, and more incredible than anybody Siwon has ever met and so he finds himself inexplicably drawn in, always wondering what will happen next. It takes him a week and a day before he realizes, my god I’m in love with him, and another week before, oh my goodness, I’m whipped, and suddenly his life is filled with color and there’s a feeling in his chest he never knew existed that beats in time with Heechul’s calls of, Siwon, I need you right now.
Siwon knows relationships are give and take – Siwon never stops giving, and Heechul never stops taking, and Siwon is in some puppy dog kind of love in which his stomach plays host to whole families of butterflies. The more Siwon advances with flowery gifts and honey-sweet lines, the more Heechul pulls away, lets his sharp tongue loose even though he knows Siwon is more sensitive to harsh words than what should be deemed acceptable. Then, when Siwon begins to withdraw, Heechul deigns to meet him halfway, reciprocating almost-sweet lines in an almost-there romance because Siwon thinks he loves Heechul and he almost doesn’t, and Heechul thinks he doesn’t love Siwon but he almost does.
Then Hankyung enters the picture and Heechul falls, hard, like a middle school girl with a first crush, following him around like a lost puppy while pretending to be an annoying fucker because that’s what he does, and Siwon wonders why Heechul thinks everything Hankyung does is wonderful and extraordinary. Then Siwon tilts his head to the side, closes one eye slightly and realizes that Hankyung is pefect. If what Siwon feels for Heechul is adoration, then what he feels for Hankyung is something just short of idolatry. Something of everything Hankyung embodies signifies the everything Siwon tries and always falls short of becoming. Hankyung dances like a swan who finally realizes he’s beautiful, leads with a calm assuredness of a man finding footing in his own land, loves and cares with a passion that glows of desperation to be loved and cared for in return. Siwon latches on like he does with Heechul, but two steps behind because he can never quite catch up, is never good enough.
With Hankyung around, Heechul takes the leap and learns to love Siwon with all the little pieces of himself he didn’t know were capable of love. Siwon learns that love is not the same as admiration but that by god he feels them both and then some. And then he realizes that love is not the fluttering in your stomach or the fast beating of your heart, isn’t an emotion but the endless striving to be something more, something better, someone more deserving.
When Hankyung leaves, he takes with him the part of Siwon that wants to become anything, leaves him with a shell of persistence just trying to keep its head above water. But then Siwon catches a glimpse of the iron bars blockading Heechul in his own exclusive variety of hell and realizes when Hankyung left he stole every part of Heechul except the one that persists in biting back, and Siwon thinks that that last bit of him that remains can’t keep afloat for much longer.
It all comes down to, Heechul’s the one Siwon loves, but Hankyung’s the one he needed – still needs. Everyone commends Heechul for digging his way out of limbo-like anguish, ignoring the fact that he’s left the bars intact and the problem remains. Nobody gives Siwon leeway to suffer. He’s expected to be the rock, the strong one, the shoulder to cry on – so he does, treads water until he forgets how it feels to be protected, and in the process becomes a master at the art of telling himself he’s okay.
He needs Hankyung, but Heechul needs him, and he tells himself putting the needs of Heechul above his own isn’t propagating Heechul’s narcissistic self-absorption – even though it totally is – and he’s fine with that, too, because he’s never asked to be a priority.
And somewhere along the way, Siwon gives that last bit of himself to Heechul and Heechul ends up becoming the one Siwon needs, and they learn to be complete, just the two of them.
Except, what really happens is, Heechul starts to find a twisted sense of comfort behind the bars of his personal hell and Siwon never stops drowning. Because life is not a reversible reaction; it’s only spontaneous in one direction. And when Hankyung leaves, he scatters the pieces of their lives as if he were god and leaves them to fend for themselves.
Heechul doesn’t know how to love without Hankyung around, and Siwon forgets how to become that someone more deserving, or why he wanted to in the first place. So he offers Heechul half-sincere almost too sweet lines, and Heechul accepts them without objection, offers up a few half-truths and too-bright smiles himself. Neither of them can admit to the truth – that is, that, without Hankyung, Heechul can’t be himself – not who he was before – and Siwon will not and cannot ever be enough.
They continue in their half-truths and pseudo-sincerity because being honest means having to face reality, and they’re both too far gone to return. Siwon plays the part of the obligatory knight in shining armor, while Heechul plays the part of the helpless princess who is saved from her monsters. They cast Hankyung as every monster, but he’s never been even one monster, not for a single second of his life, and they almost feel guilty but not quite. Siwon’s mask of okay turns from a mask for one into a mask for two and through their deception they learn to be some semblance of complete.
Hankyung leaves the group never knowing he’d been loved desperately, completely, hopelessly by the two best friends he ends up leaving behind.