I Had To
Prompt: “Don’t look at me like that.” // “Like what?” // “Like I matter to you. [You’re not allowed to do that anymore.]
Group: The Boyz
Pairing: Fem! Reader (Third Person - Yuna)/Juyeon
Warnings: Unrequited love, Not-So-Happy Ending, Minor cussing, Minor suggestive themes
Word Count: 7,489
Main Masterlist | The Boyz Masterlist
**This prompt comes from @honey-writes, thank you so much! Original prompt post here**
(^^Same prompt from this post, but a totally different feel! I wanted to see if I could do two different perspectives and I ran away a bit with this one lol)
Yuna didn’t think she’d ever forget the first time she saw Lee Juyeon.
They were at a basketball game, Eric begging all of them to go, hoping to talk to one of the cheerleaders, a girl he’d met in his science class earlier that year.
They’d been sitting in the stands, Yuna stuck between Kevin and Jacob, both of them stealing popcorn from her bag, talking animatedly, making her laugh too much to really be paying attention to the game.
But then a whistle was blown, grabbing her attention, and she saw someone running to sit on the bench, pushing a towel through his floppy, dark hair and looking slightly out o breath as he watched the rest of his teammates.
“Lee Juyeon,” Chanhee had said from behind her, making Yuna jump as she turned around to look at him. “Isn’t he gorgeous?”
And she’d giggled, grabbing a handful of popcorn and shoving it into her mouth to avoid answering him, because yeah…
He totally was.
Yuna hadn’t expected Hyunjae to be friends with Juyeon already.
She hadn’t expected the man to run down the bleachers after the game had ended, Changmin, Eric, and Haknyeon right behind him, all of them talking to Juyeon as the man laughed, accidentally dropping his towel when trying to dry his hair again.
“Sunwoo’s house is empty again tonight,” Kevin had said, a mischievous grin pulling on the corners of his lips as he looked at her. “You’re coming, right?”
Of course, Yuna had said yes.
She’d sat around the bonfire Jacob and Sangyeon had thrown together, roasting marshmallows while Sunwoo sat beside her, teasing Yuna for using too much chocolate on her s’mores as she shoved him lightly, almost knocking him out of his chair.
And of course Hyunjae had invited Juyeon.
He’d sat with the rest of them, one of the quietest in the group, knowing most of them from other classes they shared, his voice soft, hair a disheveled mess from his earlier game, face handsome in the glow of the flickering flames, sitting directly across from her, Yuna doing her best to avoid looking at him too long.
As the night progressed, the group began to dwindle, some going home to prepare for early classes the next morning, others crashing on Sunwoo’s couches in the living room, somehow leaving Juyeon and Yuna the only ones left around the fire.
“Did you get any marshmallows?” she’d asked, holding up the half-empty bag, Juyeon’s face easier to see across the dying flames.
“No,” he’d replied with a laugh, his eyes crinkling with his smile, Yuna’s heart skipping a beat at the sight of it.
“Do you want some?”
She’d shaken the bag, and he’d chuckled again, nodding and looking a little shy.
“Yeah, sure. Thank you.”
And Yuna had smiled back, charmed as she threw the bag across the fire, the plastic slipping right past Juyeon’s fingers and onto the concrete behind him.
His gaze had followed the bag before he’d turned back to her with widened eyes, obviously surprised he’d missed it.
Then they’d burst into laughter, Yuna unsure why the moment had been so funny, but giggling all the same, Juyeon getting up to fetch the marshmallows before collapsing into his chair once more.
For a moment, it’d been quiet, Yuna oddly nervous despite the smile still lingering on her face, watching him gently pluck a marshmallow from the bag, sliding it onto his metal stick before looking up at her, holding the marshmallow above the fire.
“So…” she’d said, an anxious talker as always, heart jumping a little when his eyes met hers. “What are you majoring in?”
Yuna had no idea Juyeon would become one of her best friends.
She would’ve never guessed that the hot basketball player she’d met that fateful, October night would be so easy to get along with.
He’d slipped seamlessly into the friend group, mingling with just about everyone, calm and collected, but goofy and forever a bit of a dork, Yuna growing more and more comfortable with him, the two of them getting closer every time they hung out.
She didn’t know she’d be making him laugh so much- too much- and he’d be doing the same for her, the two of them sharing inside jokes and playful jabs.
Over the months that followed, Yuna had spent so much time giggling- mostly at Juyeon and his clumsy, unfortunateness- the man always smiling guiltily- cutely- doing his best to cover up whatever mistake he made as Yuna had tears of laughter burning in her eyes.
As time went on, their conversations only grew longer, Juyeon suddenly at the top of her text list, the two of them sometimes talking for hours, their opinions both the same and very different.
Then summer came, and everyone was spending more time together than before, Yuna and Juyeon often volunteered for late night food runs, the two of them jumping into her old, beat up purple car and making the journey across town.
Sometimes Yuna had the music blasting, Juyeon leaning back in the passenger seat, laughing as she drummed on the steering wheel.
Sometimes they were talking, either light conversation or something so much deeper than she’d expected, Juyeon surprising her when he talked a little more than usual, Yuna enjoying the calmness of his voice, just listening…
Sometimes, on those nights where the skies were clear, stars visible in the dark sky above, the summer air a little cooler in the late hours of the evening, they were quiet- comfortable in the silence as Yuna drove with the windows down, relaxing in Juyeon’s company.
And sometimes, when they got back with the food and Juyeon was helping her with the bags, his fingers slipping across the bare skin of her arms, goosebumps would rise at his touch, a small swoop of her stomach as she looked at him.
But the man never noticed a thing, always leading the way inside, Yuna doing her best to ignore the sudden, accelerated beat of her heart.
That summer, Juyeon and Yuna had found a spot.
Once again, they’d been selected to do a food run, the two of them never minding because- if they were being honest- they enjoyed their time alone together.
They’d climbed into Yuna’s car that day as usual, driving with the music too loud, when a small sign up ahead had her slowing down, turning to Juyeon with a small grin.
“Wanna get some coffee?”
He’d smiled right back, raising an eyebrow before looking straight ahead, spotting the sign as well for a new cafe that had just opened up.
“Yeah,” he’d turned back to her, looking a little mischievous. “Just us, though.”
Yuna had giggled, making a left into the parking lot of the cafe, and the two of them had wandered in together, getting drinks and sitting at an outside table, talking for much too long.
It wasn’t until Sunwoo had called her- hungry and impatient, wondering what was taking them so long- that they’d finished their coffee and tossed the trash to hide their evidence, Yuna declaring that they’d be back soon.
“Yes,” Juyeon had nodded in agreement, laughing as he pulled on his seatbelt. “Like a secret spot.”
Yuna had giggled at that, ignoring the small skip of her chest at the way he was smiling at her, turning the keys in her ignition.
“Yep,” she had answered, throwing the car into reverse. “Our secret spot.”
Things were easy to ignore until they weren’t.
Until Yuna was laying in bed, fighting sleep so she could stay up and text Juyeon, an odd, fluttering in her stomach she did her best to pretend wasn’t there as she giggled at something he’d sent.
Until she and Juyeon were getting coffee at the spot too often for her to count, Yuna enjoying every moment she had to get to know him a little more.
Until Hyunjae had somehow scored them all tickets to the waterpark just one city over, Yuna forced to spend the entire day with shirtless, wet and playful Juyeon, her insides flipping- twisted- when he would smile at her, completely unaffected by her own, bikini-clad body.
Until Sunwoo pushing her into the pool unexpectedly was the only thing washing away the sudden heat that had spread through her veins at the sight of Juyeon like that, an undeniable desire she didn’t want- didn’t need- coursing through her veins.
Until Yuna was sitting with him and the rest of the guys for some snowcones when the sun had finally set, his bare arm pressed against her own as he and Chanhee talked about something, her snowcone melting, untouched, body warming again at his touch, appetite lost, stomach filled with anxious butterflies…
The little things had been easier to ignore until they weren’t little anymore, Yuna glancing sideways at Juyeon’s face- always so handsome- his slight smile as he listened to whatever Chanhee had to say, a tightness in her throat she couldn’t explain-
Yuna had looked away, doing her best to be subtle as she’d taken her arm slowly from Juyeon’s.
Just as the next semester of college was due to start, the twelve of them grumbling about another summer gone too fast, Sooah had dropped unexpectedly into their lives.
She was a friend of Jacob’s- new to the area and working at his parent’s restaurant just two blocks from the university.
Sooah was funny and sweet, beautiful, with hair and lips Yuna would kill for, the two girls getting along well, bonding over being the only females in the group.
But Yuna wasn’t the only one who’d noticed Sooah’s beauty.
Things were subtle at first- Juyeon laughing at something Sooah said, or her giggling and shoving when he made a teasing remark- but it didn’t take long for things to grow between them.
Yuna would sit on one side of Juyeon, Sooah would sit on the other, and she’d watch as the two of them flirted- such natural chemistry- eyes lingering, smiles soft.
And it was no surprise when they started dating.
No one had been shocked when they’d showed up one day holding hands, Sooah looking delighted, Juyeon smiling shyly and breaking the news, the entire friend group breaking into a unanimous “We knew it!” before asking for details.
No, nothing had been surprising about any of it…
Except Yuna’s unexpected pain at the sight of them.
Of Juyeon’s fingers intertwined with Sooah’s, the girl beaming at him like she thought he was as amazing as Yuna did, Juyeon smiling right back, eyes going soft.
Their early exits so Juyeon could take Sooah home, the man coming back with messier hair, a sideways grin, and teasing remarks from everyone else.
But Yuna did her best to laugh with the others, knowing she was being completely unreasonable, knowing Juyeon was happy.
And they’d never been anything more than friends.
Despite having a girlfriend, Juyeon hadn’t stopped spending time with Yuna.
Still, they sat together during hang outs, even with Sooah on his other side, talking and laughing with the rest of the group like nothing had changed.
They were still getting coffee together- their secret spot- still sharing inside jokes, texting, talking, being best friends, just like they always had.
Yuna got along with Sooah too, and sometimes the three of them were conversing together, having fun, heavy guilt sitting in Yuna’s stomach for reasons she wasn’t all the way sure about.
And as the months passed, Juyeon and Sooah’s relationship grew more serious, a gentle smile on his face when he talked about her to Yuna, fidgeting nervously with his fingers, her heart both warming and aching at the sight.
“I don’t know…” Juyeon had said one night, the two of them sitting outside at the cafe, his coffee between his palms. “I don’t think I’ve ever liked anyone like I like her.”
Yuna had ignored the sharp pain in her chest at his words, watching him smile shyly at his lap, a small, embarrassed chuckle slipping from his lips.
She took a hurried sip of her drink, welcoming the burning hot liquid as it slid down her tightening throat, smiling softly at him when their eyes met once more.
“It’s okay…” Yuna had reassured him, laughing a little. “I know exactly what you mean.”
She shouldn’t have gotten so drunk, that night of the Halloween party.
Yuna should’ve said no, the fifth time Changmin handed her a beer, telling him the walls were already a little wavy and her vision was getting fuzzy around the edges.
But instead she’d let the night get the best of her, welcoming the warmth and carefree that always came with alcohol.
And if she was being honest, it had been a while since she’d felt that relaxed.
So the evening went on, Yuna participating in drinking games and taking a shot- something she never ordinarily did- Jacob asking if she was sure, Kevin insisting she was fine with a laugh.
Juyeon hadn’t been there- he’d promised Sooah he’d go with her to her family’s big party they supposedly threw every year- and maybe that’s why Yuna had drank so much.
There was always an emptiness… when he wasn’t there.
But she’d reached her limit around two in the morning, almost everyone else too drunk to notice, her insides too hot as she’d stepped outside for some cold air against her skin.
And there was Sunwoo- leaned against the deck railing, cigarette between his fingers, turning in surprise at her arrival, eyes darting up and down her figure as an amused smile pulled on his lips.
“You good, Yuna?”
She hadn’t had the strength to lecture him about the cigarette- to tell him that shit was bad for him, and stomp it out herself.
Because she wasn’t good- not at all- a sick feeling twisting hard in her stomach, the pain in her chest that’d been expanding for the majority of the night threatening to choke her.
Yuna had realized she was in trouble… so much trouble, and getting wasted had done nothing to bury the issue.
Only brought it to the forefront of her mind.
The smile had slipped from Sunwoo’s lips, and through the cloudiness of her vision, Yuna had watched him smush out the cigarette before he was flicking it into the yard, and coming towards her.
Yuna had jumped when she felt Sunwoo wrap one hand around her arm to steady her, the other reaching up to hesitantly brush his fingers up the skin of her cheek.
“Are you crying?”
And she’d been as surprised as he was, by the dampness of his fingers as they reflected in the outside lights, the sight of it embarrassing her, because Yuna was pathetic, and stupid, so, so stupid-
She’d hesitated, her eyes meeting Sunwoo’s.
The man had always been nice to her, even when he was teasing, one of her closest friends in the group besides Juyeon- and the way he was looking at her, it pulled the words from her throat before she could stop them.
“I think I’m in love with Juyeon.”
Juyeon’s distance came with the cold of winter.
The temperatures dropping, holiday decorations in every window, snow falling and sticking to the ground, turning the world white, Yuna’s favorite time of year…
But instead, she’d spent the days of December confused, watching Juyeon pull away, his texts growing less and less, their late night food adventures coming to an end- Jacob coming with her instead- Yuna asking him why and him saying he was tired…
“Did I do something wrong?” Yuna had asked one afternoon, a rare moment between classes where she’d gotten Juyeon alone.
His backpack was slung on one shoulder, eyes darting quickly from hers as he smoothed the fabric of his shirt.
“It… It feels like you’re avoiding me,” she’d managed to say, voice barely above a whisper, words vulnerable as he looked at her for a moment.
“There’s nothing wrong,” he’d finally said. “I’ve just been busy… I promise.”
But the smile hadn’t reached his eyes, and Yuna knew him too well- knew there was something more than what he was telling her, an odd pang in her chest at the sight.
“Are you s-?”
Juyeon’s phone had rang loudly, interrupting their quiet conversation, and when he dug it from his pocket, Yuna saw Sooah’s beautiful face on the screen.
He was awkward- nodding one too many times and taking a step backwards, half-stumbling on his own foot before answering the phone, his “Hello?” sounding a little rushed.
Then he’d lifted a hand to wave, Yuna waving back half-heartedly, watching him go, an unforgiving pain in her stomach as she’d realized something was definitely wrong.
And their conversation had only proved it more.
Christmas Eve night, she’d sat alone outside their spot.
Yuna had been at the same table of that little cafe, her drink growing cold as she cupped it between her hands, another coffee in front of the empty chair across from her, no doubt lukewarm by now.
She’d sighed, staring at the screen of her phone, an unanswered text sent almost an hour ago; Tradition?
It’d been their thing since spending their first winter together- Christmas Eve coffee drinks, where they could exchange gifts without the madness of the others, and they’d sworn they’d do it every year from now on.
Yuna had sent him a text just the week before, reminding him, and he’d said Okay. That wasn’t a yes or no, but she’d thought if he wasn’t coming, he might’ve told her before now-
A cold breeze swept through the air, Yuna shivering a little as the tissue paper atop Juyeon’s gift rustled in the wind, sitting right beside his abandoned drink, her heart breaking slightly at the sight of it.
And then there was a buzz, her phone letting her know there was a text message from Juyeon, and Yuna had opened it slowly, pressing her lips together at the message.
I’m not going to make it this time
Three months had passed since that Christmas Eve…
Since she’d finally accepted her friendship with Juyeon was lost.
Now, Yuna was sitting in a white plastic chair between Sunwoo and Changmin, the three of them laughing together, watching the many people trickle in through the front doors behind them.
Today, Eric was getting married.
He’d been dating that same cheerleader he’d met almost three years ago at the basketball game- Juyeon’s basketball game- and as soon as they’d graduated, Eric had popped the question, falling to one knee right there at the after party.
It’d been no surprise to anyone- the two of them had been in love the second their eyes had met- and Yuna was happy for her most adorable friend.
Eric deserved the world.
“Bet he’s gonna forget his vows,” Sunwoo teased, grin mischievous as Changmin laughed out loud.
“Does he have vows?” the other man joked. “I think he’ll just wing it-”
“No he wont!” Yuna exclaimed, giggling as she shoved them both. “Shut up guys- Eric’s vows are going to be beautiful.”
“Yeah, they probably are-”
Kevin had collapsed into a chair on the other side of Changmin, smirking at the three of them.
“We all know Eric’s totally gonna cry, though.”
Yuna pressed her lips together; there was no defending her friend on that.
The wedding was being held in a beautiful hotel ballroom, the chairs around them almost full now, Yuna checking her phone with a smile.
It was almost time.
“Who’s gonna cry?”
Jacob had come to sit beside Kevin, smiling brightly as he looked between each of them.
“Eric,” they all said together, and Jacob laughed, nodding.
“Probably,” he said with a shrug. “By the way, Hyunjae and Juyeon are on their way- there was something wrong with Hyunjae’s car-”
Yuna’s stomach dropped at the sound of the man’s name, quickly picking imaginary strings off her dress, eyes darting from Jacob’s.
“-and Juyeon’s coming alone, ‘cause I guess Sooah couldn’t make it,” he finished. “Something with her family.”
Yuna looked up before she could stop herself, because why was Jacob even telling them this?
She was surprised to see Changmin looking at her, eyes darting along her face for such a brief moment she’d almost missed it before he was turning away.
“Cool,” Sunwoo had finally replied on Yuna’s other side, nodding twice. “One less seat we’ve gotta save.”
Then they’d fallen into easy conversation, Yuna ignoring her tangled insides at the thought of seeing Juyeon again.
Somehow, for the last three months, they’d had this intricate dance going; where he was always with Sooah when she was hanging with the group, and she was always studying when he was able to tag along.
Their texts had dwindled to nothing, Juyeon’s weak apology still the last message in Yuna’s phone from him, and when they did see each other…
One of them conveniently had to walk the other way.
Yuna nearly jumped at the sound of Juyeon’s voice- quiet and calm as always- coming from behind Kevin’s chair.
She looked up, immediately regretting it, stomach flipping at the unexpected sight of him.
Dark, floppy hair, hands shoved into the pockets of black pants that fit him too well, his short-sleeved navy button-up tucked in slightly, only drawing more attention to the broadness of his shoulders compared to the rest of him, arms smooth and beautiful as always…
He caught her gaze, eyes meeting hers, and Yuna looked away the second he did, cursing herself- honestly, hating herself- for being so melancholically happy to see him.
But not because of his good looks- not for the natural sexy Juyeon had always possessed, whether he knew it all the way or not…
She’d missed him; soft smile, gentle eyes, that warmth about him she’d never been able to explain-
Changmin had gotten up rather suddenly, slapping his hands to his knees before jumping from his chair.
“-you can take my seat, Juyeon.”
Yuna watched in horror as Changmin stood, Hyunjae already sitting beside Jacob, Chanhee and Haknyeon, clearly saving the seat beside him for Juyeon, raising his eyebrows.
“But I already-” he motioned towards the empty chair.
“Save it for Sangyeon,” Changmin said with a shrug, grin slightly mischievous as always, his eyes darting along the venue. “There’s a girl I met by the drinks and- well…”
He trailed off, but his expression only grew more devilish, the majority of them laughing, Jacob shaking his head, Yuna’s smile weak as she watching Changmin make his way out of the aisle, Sunwoo’s eyes following the man, eyebrows slightly furrowed, just as confused as she was.
“See you after the ceremony!”
He raised his hand with a wave, somehow adorable- how did he do that?- before his eyes were darting to Yuna’s.
And then he was gone.
Juyeon made his way down the aisle past her and Sunwoo, and her heart skipped a beat in her chest just as he was sitting clumsily in the chair beside her.
They turned to one another at the same moment, and the way he was looking at her…
“Hey Yu,” he said quietly.
Yuna swallowed, nodding once before-
She pressed her lips together.
Another inside joke.
She was spared by the start of the music, a hush falling over the crowd, Juyeon and Yuna pulling their eyes from one another, and facing forward once more.
The ceremony was the perfect thirty minute distraction.
Everyone looked beautiful, but no one as much as the bride- Emilie- her smile lighting up the entire venue as she and Eric stood at the altar together. The man hadn’t forgotten his vows up there, his words poetic, and Yuna had turned to smirk at Sunwoo, who was already rolling his eyes with a grin. And then Eric’s eyes had gotten watery towards the end, but none of them had the heart to laugh- even in private- because he looked so happy up there, Yuna’s heart swelling at the sight…
She hoped she’d find love like that one day.
Then it was over, the couple kissing as husband and wife, everyone clapping, Eric and Emilie laughing as they looked at one another before the man was grabbing her hand, taking her down the aisle while many of the people surrounding them whooped and cheered.
And Yuna had turned to look at her friends, eyes darting across each one of their smiling faces, lingering on Juyeon’s, his eyes meeting hers, and in that moment…
It was like nothing had changed.
Like they were still best friends, Eric was getting married, and the two of them couldn’t be more excited for him-
But then Yuna felt that nagging pain in her chest; the constant reminder that she’d spend the last three months wondering what she’d done wrong- wondering why the man had cut off their friendship so completely- and she turned away…
Juyeon’s smile fading as she did.
The reception was just outside the hotel, three acres of beautiful grounds, the sun setting around them as they ate at round tables, everyone talking loudly, Eric, Emilie, and their families giving toasts, some serious, some silly.
Yuna sat at two of the tables set aside for their group, making sure to pick the opposite one of Juyeon, choosing a chair between Kevin and Sunwoo, knowing they could distract her the best, and laughing the way through her meal, doing her best not to glance at their neighboring table.
Then the music began, plates were cleared, the bar was open, and the party started.
Yuna mingled with everyone, choosing just one drink and sipping on it throughout the night, mixing in with all the conversation amongst her friends…
Again, doing her best to ignore Juyeon.
Hours passed, sun completely gone from the sky, and the string lights dangling over the open grounds cast a warm glow across the area. Many of the guys had gone to the dance floor, Yuna insisting she needed a break as Haknyeon tried to pull her in, complaining of the heels she’d worn.
She made her way to their table, eyes darting along the plastic cups of water, wondering which one was hers, slipping her shoes off her feet with a sigh.
Yuna hated heels.
Just as she’d picked out which cup must be hers, bringing the rim of it to her lips, she heard soft footsteps behind her.
She jumped, almost spilling water down her dress as she turned, coming face to face with Juyeon.
There was a ghost of a smile on his lips, but it didn’t reach his eyes, the same sadness lingering in the dark brown of his irises she’d seen earlier that day, the sight of it pulling painfully on her heart strings.
Yuna’s voice was barely above a whisper, because she wanted to be angry with him right now- she really did.
She didn’t want to notice how much better Juyeon somehow looked in the softer lighting, reminiscent of the first time they met across that bonfire, his shoulders a little broader now, face slightly more matured with the three years of friendship that’d passed.
She didn’t want to feel that same, fuzzy warmth of her insides when she saw him- like home- when he’d hurt her so badly and left her like he had-
“Can we, uh-”
Juyeon was nervous, rubbing the back of his neck and holding it there like he so often did when he was starting to stutter, Yuna’s stomach twisting a little at the sight.
“Do you think we could- we could talk?”
And looking back at him, cup still sitting between her limp fingers, Yuna sighed internally in defeat.
Because when had she ever been able to tell Juyeon no?
“Let me get my shoes back on-”
The corners of his lips perked just slightly when she turned to him in surprise.
“I know how much you hate heels.”
Yuna hesitated, trying to ignore the memory that’d flashed across her mind.
She and Juyeon getting ready for a formal Hyunjae had invited all of them to, him holding her arm as they laughed, her desperately trying to get the hang of walking in heels, the two of them too clumsy to be pulling it off, stumbling one too many times-
She shook away the memory and stood, Juyeon making room as she moved around her chair. After an awkward, sideways glance between them, they were walking, heading away from the hustle and bustle of the reception and towards a small garden, half hidden by the tall trees and plants adorning its insides.
They walked in silence, nothing but the crunch of grass beneath their feet, Yuna’s bare toes prickling in the scratchy blades, thankful she hadn’t had to attempt this in her heels still sitting beneath the table. When they approached the metal gate of the garden, Juyeon was reaching forward and opening it, motioning for her to go first, their eyes meeting awkwardly again before Yuna was quickly scooting forward.
The garden was beautiful.
Also decorated with dangling string lights, it was warm and inviting, red and pink roses in bushels on her left, tall, intricately branched trees on her right, potted star lilies hanging in plastic baskets above their heads…
She turned when Juyeon shut the gate a bit loudly, and then they were facing one another, still now, his hands shoved into the pockets of his pants.
Yuna knew him well enough to know he had no idea how to say what he wanted to say- it was written all over his face, in the pinch of his eyebrows, the slight curve of his lips as if trying to form words, the shifting of his fingers beneath the fabric of his pockets, his adam’s apple as it bobbed up and down, the man swallowing hard-
But he was still looking at her- eyes locked directly with her own- the anguish still there, frustrating Yuna, throat tightening at the sight-
They spoke at the same time, Yuna shaking her head at the gentle sound of his voice- at the way her heart already wanted so desperately to open up and forgive him.
“Don’t look at me like that, Juyeon.”
He closed his mouth, those melancholic eyes darting between her own, the pinch between his eyebrows growing just slightly.
“Like what?” he asked quietly.
Yuna searched for the words- searched for why she couldn’t stand to see it-
“Like I still matter to you,” she finally replied, a frustrated undertone enveloping her words, immediate, unexpected tears filling her eyes. “You’re… You’re not allowed to do that anymore.”
The last words came in an almost whisper- the brokenness of her voice not something she’d wanted to expose, and when her eyes met Juyeon’s again, they’d only grown sadder, the flicker of regret there only increasing the pain in her chest.
“You do matter to me, Yuna…” he said softly, taking a step forward, hands pulling from his pockets. “You’re my best friend-”
“Was-” she corrected harshly, reaching up to wipe the annoying, stray tears that slid down her face. “I was your best friend, Ju.”
He pressed his lips together, swallowing hard again, fidgeting with his fingers as his expression turned so puppy-like, Yuna had to stare at her own bare feet in the grass to avoid it.
“You’re still my best friend, Yu.”
The words were quiet, and yet resonated so completely in that small garden, Yuna raising her head in disbelief.
“Am I?” she asked, sharp with bitterness. “When’s the last time we talked, huh?”
More tears, a lump growing in her throat as she spoke.
“Why haven’t you texted? Why…?”
Yuna took a deep breath, lowering her voice as she looked at him.
“Why did you leave me like that?”
She didn’t realize how much it would hurt to ask it- the question that’d been plaguing her mind for months now, her own desperate sadness reflected in Juyeon’s expression as he looked back at her.
He hesitated to answer, but Yuna realized this was what he’d brought her here to say- the fidgeting of his hands ceasing, dark eyes boring into hers-
“I had to,” he whispered softly.
Yuna stared back in disbelief.
“You had t-?”
“Because of Sunwoo.”
She was completely caught off guard, wondering if she’d heard him right.
Juyeon was looking nervous again, lips pressing together, hand sliding to the back of his head again, fingers gripping his neck-
“He told me about-” he swallowed. “About Halloween night.”
For a moment, Yuna was blissfully ignorant, confused, even.
She’d almost forgotten.
But like a broken dam, the memories rushed in like a tidal wave, Yuna’s insides tightening at the memory of Halloween, in her half-hearted devil costume, a constant drink between her fingers.
Her drunk-dazed brain, the blurry vision, the one-too-many shots Kevin and Changmin shouldn’t have told her to take...
The heat of the alcohol burning her skin, the need to cool off, stumbling towards the deck…
Sunwoo, with his intuitive eyes and worried expression, his hand lingering near her cheek, the wetness of her tears reflecting on the tips of his fingers…
The whispered words Yuna had never meant to say…
“I think I’m in love with Juyeon.”
Her chest tightened, Yuna’s lips pressing together, regret burning like hot coal in her stomach.
“He told you?” she finally whispered, cheeks hot with embarrassment, the humiliation nearly choking her.
Juyeon nodded, both of them looking at one another briefly before Yuna had to turn away again.
“When?” she whispered to the grass beneath her feet.
“During Thanksgiving break,” his voice was just as quiet. “He… He got kind of angry.”
Yuna looked up at that, eyebrows furrowing as her eyes met Juyeon’s.
“Why?” she asked.
Juyeon was back to tripping over his words, looking awkward, Yuna’s anxiety only growing at the sight.
“He said I was leading you on.”
Yuna was momentarily speechless, lips parting, staring back at the man.
“He said we spent too much time together and we talked too much-”
“We were best friends,” Yuna interrupted, anger prickling in her veins.
“That’s what I said,” Juyeon agreed with a nod. “But he said…”
“He said I was giving you the wrong idea. That he- he wasn’t surprised you’d… felt the way you did, and he said I was-”
Juyeon swallowed hard.
“I was hurting you, staying friends like we were.”
A heavy pause followed his words, shame, frustration, and indignation boiling in Yuna’s blood-
“I think he was trying to help,” Juyeon whispered, eyes darting along the features of her face, able to read her as always. “He said you were… really upset-”
“That wasn’t his place,” Yuna shot back, voice soft but dangerous. “It wasn’t his place to- I should’ve never-”
She knew he meant well- knew Sunwoo had always been protective of her, even though he was younger. Yuna knew it was her fault, for spilling her darkest secret to the man in the first place, and that she was upset that night, too drunk to hide the months of pain she’d been doing her best to suppress-
And Yuna also knew Sunwoo was right…
Juyeon had been hurting her.
But not on purpose, she’d told herself.
Because he would never do that.
Or so she thought.
“And it wasn’t your place,” she spoke louder now, words a little shaky as she felt more tears spring to the corners of her eyes. “To- To just… leave me like that. With no explanation. One day we were best friends, and the next you just-”
She stopped, voice catching in her throat.
“I’m sorry-” Juyeon’s apology was strained, the man taking a hesitant step forward.
“I asked you so many times what I’d done,” Yuna said softly, ignoring the single tear that slipped from each eye. “I asked you if you were avoiding me, if you were mad at me, and all you said was everything was fine-”
“I-I didn’t know how to tell you.”
Juyeon expression was so regretful Yuna looked away for a moment, his slight stutter growing worse in his distress.
“I didn’t want to- to make you upset- but I also couldn’t be your friend if- if what Sunwoo said-”
“What Sunwoo said doesn’t matter, Juyeon!” Yuna interrupted, voice louder than she’d meant it to be in her anguish. “You should’ve talked to me. Said something besides- besides nothing. How was I supposed to feel, Ju, when you just stopped texting me when we got back from holiday break?”
Juyeon’s fingers held harder to the back of his neck, eyes darting from hers.
“How was I supposed to feel, when people asked me to get food and you told me you were tired, even though you’ve never been too tired before? When you just stopped showing up when we all hung out together? ”
Yuna wiped more tears from her face, throat burning with the pain of her own words.
“How could I not think I’d done something wrong when you wouldn’t even look at me? When you just… just walked the other way when we saw each other at school, and then you…”
She paused with a shake of her head.
“You left me on Christmas Eve? No call, no text, nothing until I’d been sitting there for an hour, Ju. And all you said was you couldn’t come… How the hell was I supposed to feel?”
Juyeon looked up at her, and she was surprised by the glassiness of his eyes, reflected in the lights above them.
“What was I supposed to do, Yuna?”
His words were laced with desperation, quiet in the air between them, eyes darting between her own as he finally dropped his hand from his neck.
“All this time, I didn’t know, and I-” he looked around before his gaze was locking with hers once more. “I didn’t want to keep hurting you.”
“You should’ve talked to me,” Yuna insisted, repeating herself now as she took a step closer. “You should’ve done something besides leaving me in the dark-”
“I know-” he looked ashamed as he nodded, staring at his feet. “I’m sorry-”
Yuna paused before speaking around the lump in her throat.
“I would’ve rather been best friends with you… than nothing at all.”
He looked up at her once more, soft eyes reading her expression, Yuna’s heart pounding in her chest at the words.
“I’m sorry, Yuna.”
It was the third time he’d said it, but the words meant more this time, understanding lingering in the air between them, unsureness of where to go, but regretting what had happened, the pull Juyeon always had on her- her home- yanking on Yuna’s insides-
“I-” Juyeon hesitated. “I miss you.”
Yuna’s chest constricted at the hushed admittance, her eyes darting along every familiar feature of his face.
And Yuna so desperately missed him too.
The long car rides, the trips to their cafe, the laughter, and late night talks. The giggles when Juyeon accidentally broke something; his steadying hand catching Yuna when she fell. The jokes only they thought were funny, Juyeon’s calm to Yuna’s storm, the friendship…
Yuna trailed off, because things were different now- the cracked pieces of their fragile friendship weighing heavy in the space between them.
She wasn’t sure she could do it.
Juyeon knowing what he knew, the pain of being left behind, the fear that it might happen again- that things might get more complicated, that Yuna’s feelings might not fade, no matter how much she desperately wanted them to-
The reality that Juyeon’s feelings would never be more than what they are.
She hated how much that hurt, the pain on her insides frustrating her, just wishing things could be normal, that she could have her best friend back- turn back time- keep this all from happening in the first place-
He understood of course, nodding, shuffling one foot nervously in the grass as he looked at her.
There was loud cheering in the distance, coming from the direction of the reception, she and Juyeon both jumping at the sound of it.
For a second, they’d both forgotten where they were.
“I just, uh-” Juyeon turned back to look at her. “If you want to, you know- to fix this, I… I wanted to tell you I’ll be at the spot tonight.”
Yuna’s eyes widened a little, a fluttering in her chest at his words.
“I’m heading there soon,” he continued quietly. “And I… I’ll wait for you.”
She looked at him, unsure what to say, the longing in her chest forever lingering, because yes.
Yuna wanted to fix this.
“Just think about it,” he said, taking a step backwards. “Maybe we can… you know.”
She exhaled on a soft laugh, because yeah.
Maybe they could.
“I gotta go back, say bye to Eric, but-” he jabbed his thumb in the direction behind him, looking at her through the fringe of his hair. “-hopefully I’ll see you.”
“Okay,” she whispered.
Their eyes lingered before he was turning on his heel, fiddling with the garden gate before stepping out, walking back towards the reception.
And Yuna stood frozen in the grass, watching his retreating form, mind reeling at everything that’d happened, everything said, the same question running over and over through her muddled thoughts.
Could she and Juyeon fix this?
Yuna’s fingers gripped hard to the rubber of her steering wheel, feeling tense with her music off, a rarity as she sat in her own anxious silence.
Her eyes scanned the street up ahead in a gap between the trees, reading the name on the sign as if she’d forgotten- as if the route to this cafe wasn’t something she’d remember forever.
The steady clicking of her turn signal was the only sound as she pulled into the small, gravelly parking lot, the crunch of her tires muffled by the racing of Yuna’s heart as her eyes immediately found their table.
Two drinks on its surface, one chair already occupied.
Parking her car, she slowly unbuckled her seatbelt, glancing at her reflection in the mirror, noting the subtle redness lingering in her eyes, mascara still intact somehow, darkening her lashes.
She took a deep breath, adjusting the straps of her spring dress she’d worn for the wedding, thankful she had a pair of flip flops in her backseat, swapping them out for those annoying heels.
And then she was finally climbing out of the car, her footsteps loud in the silence of the night, watching Juyeon immediately look up from his phone at the sound.
Their eyes met as she stepped onto the sidewalk, and she could see the flicker of surprise there- the doubt lingering on his features fading to quiet relief, a small smile pulling on the corners of his lips.
And Yuna couldn’t help but return the gesture, even with the swoop of her stomach at the sight of him looking at her like that- so happy to see her- her own soft grin lifting her cheeks.
Juyeon stood slowly from his chair as she walked forward, eyes darting along the features of her face, her eyes doing the same, struck as always by the handsomeness of him, only amplified by the dim lighting of the cafe.
His voice was soft, unsure, Yuna biting her lip before nodding once.
“I had to,” she whispered.
And Yuna had wondered what she’d say- what justified her coming back, why she’d take the risk of something happening again, of things getting worse before they were better, of the pain in her chest that sat there only growing, manifesting-
“You’re my best friend, Ju.”
The words were simple, yet powerful, because it was the reason for it all- the reason she was willing to take the chance and fix this.
Yuna couldn’t live without him.
And then, slowly, they were closing the little distance between them, Juyeon’s arms coming to wrap around her, Yuna hugging him back, her cheek immediately resting on his shoulder as his did the same on hers.
“You’re my best friend, too, Yu.”
His words were soft against the skin of her neck, the strands of his hair tickling her cheek, the warmth of his embrace healing the steady ache in her chest, Yuna’s eyes slipping closed at the feel of it all…
Feeling whole once more.
And burying her nose into the collar of his shirt, hugging him tighter, Yuna fought the tears that prickled at the corners of her eyes, fingers curling into the fabric beneath her palms just as she felt him hold her right back, her words barely above a whisper.
“I missed you.”
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