Pairing: Seungyoon/Taehyun. Side pairing of Taehyun/Jinwoo (not in this chapter, though).
A/N: Based on the Japanese anime film "5 Centimeters per Second". AU fic with realistic elements. This is my first time trying out the AU genre, hopefully I'm doing it right!
Part 2: Time Will Tell
Part 3: Shine On You
It was at about 6 AM on a Saturday morning. The sun had rose above the buildings, making its peek through cracks between the dilapidated shutters on the bedroom wall. Taehyun, still lying between his blankets, winced as the rays shone through the windows and into his sleepy, morning eyes - harsh and unforgiving. Today was gonna be a sunny day.
Taehyun hated sunny mornings.
He let out a huge, loud yawn, followed by a few tired groans. He proceeded to stretch, reaching his arm out as far as he could, cracking his elbow joint, and placed his hand onto the bedroom drawer beside him. Lazily, he felt for the letter that was placed upon the drawer, the letter that had been keeping him up for days.
It felt so pathetic, the fact that he had been keeping this unsent letter for so long, when it was pretty clear that he was never ever going to send it. The addressed person had moved away a long time ago, and now probably resided at a location Taehyun wouldn’t be able to guess. Moreover, they hadn’t kept in contact for years, and it would be weird to just send that letter randomly, out of the blue, for no reason. But most importantly, even if they had talked in the past few years, even if Taehyun knew the new address, and even if they still had any way of keeping communication with each other, Taehyun knew, deep down, that it wouldn’t work out. He was too cowardly to confess anything, yet too pathetic to fully accept realities.
Taehyun dragged himself out of bed, washed his face, brushed his teeth, ran his fingers through his tangled hair, greasy and unwashed. He looked into the mirror. Today was the day he was going to stop holding onto false hope, lost memories, and dreams that will never have the chance to be fulfilled. Today is the day that he gets rid of this letter.
But how is it possible to get rid of a letter when he couldn’t stop rereading his words?
Taehyun sat at his table, chugging down a cup of unsweetened coffee in pretty much one gulp, and picked up the letter again. His eyes raced over the same words and the same lines again and again, every word practically memorized, every phrase bouncing back and forth in his head like echoes. He had written the letter himself, yet strangely enough, he read every word in Seungyoon’s voice instead. Taehyun still remembered every little quality about Seungyoon's voice, the voice he had loved. A voice so full of confidence and reassurance for someone who was such a young age. He loved the sincere depth of it, the way it boomed and filled up the air when he sang, the mischievous edge of it when he whispered secrets into Taehyun's ear, the way Taehyun could feel it vibrating as he leaned his head on Seungyoon’s chest—
Nope. He wasn’t going to do this to himself again. He wasn’t part of his life anymore. He was going to get rid of the letter once and for all, was going to leave the letter off at a far away place, a place where he’d never be able to find it again…
Taehyun jolted up from his chair, almost spilling his coffee. He threw on a light jacket he found at the back of his closet, tied up the laces of his converse sneakers, and headed straight out the door, walking as fast as his legs could carry him.
He made it to the bottom of the stairs of his apartment, and walked down a relatively empty street. He waved at the friendly old couple who lived on the floor beneath him. They were taking a walk with their baby grandson.
And then he continued to walk on.
The cherry blossoms had started falling again – like the snow. Like snow flowers. “It is said that cherry blossom petals fall at 5 centimeters per second,” Seungyoon had once told him.
As Taehyun walked, he noticed that underneath his feet were the petals of cherry blossoms, which had fallen from the cherry blossom trees. Taehyun frowned sadly - he didn’t like having to step foot on something as ethereal and perfect as a cherry blossom petal. He preferred to step on fallen autumn leaves - he took pleasure in the crunching sounds beneath his feet. But it was spring, and not autumn.
Autumn had been the first time that they met, years ago, at Hanam Middle School.
Taehyun never liked going to school. The classes were dull and the uniforms were ugly, making him feel like a carbon copy of all the other obnoxious kids in his class. Taehyun would pass the time by singing - never aloud, but only in his head. He was afraid of judgement.
The new kid, Seungyoon, an outgoing Busan boy who had just moved to Hanam, seemed to be fine with singing and humming around the school. He had greeted Taehyun on the first day of school, smiling while introducing himself as a new student. They were assigned to sit together in class, and Taehyun would always hear Seungyoon humming absentmindedly, whenever the teacher took a break from droning on with whatever boring lesson they were learning that day.
Unknowingly, he had given Taehyun the courage to hum and sing in public as well. Maybe not at a performance level - he was still too shy for that - but Taehyun found himself walking down hallways humming, without being self-conscious of people hearing.
On the day that he had blackboard-cleaning duty, Taehyun softly sang to himself while wiping the board with a wet cloth. He was singing “Snow Flower”, a song by his favourite singer, Park Hyoshin. He finished singing it once to himself, and was quite proud of himself - he could sing it better than he used to! He began again from the beginning of the song, softly humming the delicate xylophone theme that preluded the song.
Suddenly, he heard a bunch of rowdy boys laughing behind him. Taehyun swiftly turned his head around to see them standing right in front of him. His heart started to beat faster, unable to hide his intimidated expression.
“We came into class to find out who the girl singing was,” one of the boys smirked, “but turns out it’s just fatherless Taehyun.”
“Sh-Shut up,” Taehyun stuttered, not really knowing what to say. He wasn’t the most confident during his childhood.
Looking back on this moment, Taehyun cringed in embarrassment. The bullies in school only ever picked on him for two reasons: the fact that he was effeminate, and the fact that his father wasn’t around anymore. He could have easily came up with some witty comebacks. There were thousands that he could think of now, but he had never realized them back then.
He was so innocent, so defenseless as a child. He felt tears forming in his eyes, as the boys continued to jeer.
“Hey!” He heard another voice shout from behind the door. A voice so much deeper than his high, feminine voice.
Seungyoon emerged into the classroom and pointed behind the group of boys, trying to distract them. Successfully diverting their attention, he quickly dragged Taehyun from the classroom. Hand-in-hand, they ran to the school courtyard.
Once they reached the big tree at the center of the courtyard, Seungyoon stopped running and placed his hands on Taehyun’s shoulders and stared into his eyes, a very serious expression on his face. “Sing that again.”
“…what?” Taehyun was still dazed by what had just happened. The tears in his eyes had vanished into thin air.
“Sing that song again!”
Taehyun did as he was told, although more nervous because he was singing to Seungyoon-hyung, and out of breath after all that running. He was disappointed with himself at the end – he had sang it much better in class when nobody was listening. He wished Seungyoon had heard him then.
But Seungyoon looked overjoyed. “Dude!” Seungyoon exclaimed, giddy with excitement as he gave a huge hug to a thoroughly confused Taehyun. “You’re the one I’ve been looking for!”
“Uhh, sorry, got a bit too excited there.” Seungyoon chuckled sheepishly, taking a few seconds to regain his composure. “I mean, you’re the voice I’m looking for! I want to create a musical group, but like, a duo, so like for two people, so…”
“So you want me to sing with you in your music duo?”
“Yeah, exactly!” said Seungyoon, relieved that Taehyun had found the right words to finish his sentence.
Taehyun was still confused. “Why me? My voice isn’t that nice…I feel like it’s too high, for a boy. Don’t you see how people make fun of me for it?”
Seungyoon sighed in disbelief. “Why do you care about jerks like them? Did you know that people made fun of me for my deep voice too? They think my voice is “too manly for such a scrawny, middle-school boy”. Fuck that! My deep voice and your high tenor – that’s exactly what’s going to make us the perfect duo!”
“Really?” Taehyun said softly.
“Trust me.” Seungyoon reassured him, looking into his eyes, and smiling sincerely. Taehyun noticed one of his front teeth was chipped.
“You know,” Seungyoon began, in a softer tone. “I’m also fatherless…but I’m doing fine. You’re not alone, is all I’m saying.”
As Taehyun walked on his way to the train station, he had noticed two youngsters – a boy and a girl – busking on the streets. They were singing Busker Busker’s “Cherry Blossom Ending”.
Taehyun had to fight back the urge to roll his eyes as he walked by. How original, to be singing that overplayed song during cherry blossom season.
He also didn’t like the way that they sang. Both their voices were solid and pleasant on their own, but when two people sing together, there is some sort of musical spark that is supposed to be created. Taehyun felt nothing like that while listening to them. Maybe it was because the song choice was so typical.
But when he and Seungyoon sang as a duo back in their school days, it was a completely different feeling. They sang a very wide range of repertoire – from Park Hyoshin to Nell to Younha to Epik High to some American songs – they often enjoyed the same music. They soon started performing for school talent shows, and after a while, Taehyun was no longer the school loser. Seungyoon’s heavy and powerful voice combined with Taehyun’s clear and ethereal tone had created something special, beyond a simple spark. When Taehyun sang with Seungyoon, it had felt like they created fire – bright and burning through the breezy autumn day, flickering and flaming through the cold winter evenings, warm and fuzzy when they were alone but fervent and passionate when they were in front of a crowd. It was a fire that lived on only in his dreams, a fire that he could never quite put out.
Because no matter how badly he wanted to wash it all away, he knew that the ashes left behind would be too painful for him to face.
All good things came to an end.
Taehyun still remembered the day he made that phone call. He was so foolish, he had been so excited to tell Seungyoon about a cool duo name that he had came up last night, while procrastinating his homework.
“So I was thinking, as a musician duo, it’s boring if we keep calling each other “Kang Seungyoon and Nam Taehyun” right? How about we call ourselves “Kangnam”! I can’t believe we’ve never thought of that before!”
“Well, I’ve been meaning to tell you, I’m…”
Taehyun’s smile started to fade as Seungyoon paused and stuttered. He could sense something was wrong.
“My mom finally got a job, but it’s associated with some family members…which means…”
Taehyun felt his heart start to sink.
“It means I have to move. Back to Busan.”
Taehyun arrived at the train station. He had made a plan: he would take the train, get off at a faraway station that he had never gotten off at before, and drop the letter somewhere, anywhere – far from his reach, so he wouldn’t have to keep on rereading it. He stepped onto the train and took a window seat. The train started moving, picking up speed, and the cherry blossom trees flashed by, a big pink blob of a motion picture.
Seungyoon had promised that they would visit each other as often as possible, but after he left for Busan, they had only met once – and it was Taehyun who had went to visit Seungyoon. He had taken the train to Busan on a particularly cold winter night, just to visit Seungyoon. The train ride had been awful – five hours, no heat, wobbly and filled with people in all compartments, and multiple stops along the way because the weather just got so bad.
If cherry blossoms fell at 5 centimeters per second, then snowflakes surely fell at a much, much faster pace.
After walking in circles at the Busan station with his flashlight – it was 3 AM and the lights were very dim at this point – he finally found Seungyoon. His precious Seungyoon hyung, who had guided Taehyun out of his miserable disposition, and brought music and meaning into his life. Seungyoon was curled up in one of the corners, snoring slightly. Taehyun’s heart hurt when he saw his hyung – his jacket was way too light for the winter weather. He quickly sat beside him, took off his big thick winter coat, and tried his best to wrap it around both of their bodies.
With this, Seungyoon started to wake up. He was shivering, and yet he still smiled at the sight of Taehyun – his dear friend, who he missed deeply. Taehyun suddenly noticed the smell of Seungyoon. It was an unusual smell, the smell of alcohol. Why had his hyung been drinking? Taehyun suddenly started to worry.
“Drinking keeps me warm,” Seungyoon had read Taehyun’s mind, even in his sleepy state. “Tell me how you’ve been, Taehyun.”
Seungyoon lay his head on Taehyun’s shoulder, slightly nuzzling his neck, his eyes still closed. And Taehyun told him everything, like how his grades were improving thanks to Seungyoon’s previous tutoring, and how he had lost his baby fat and became more attractive, and how he even got into his first relationship, and how it didn’t work out. He told Seungyoon all of his worries – about the future, about what people think of him, about how busy and stressed his mom was all the time, and about how lost he felt.
(How lost he felt without his hyung by his side. But he didn’t want Seungyoon to feel sad, so he left that part out.)
Seungyoon opened his eyes slowly. It was true – his dongsaeng had grown up. He was so handsome. Seungyoon was so proud of him.
“You worry too much.” He said, in his drunken slurred speech. “Turn off your flashlight.”
“Why?” asked Taehyun.
“Because you don’t need it. There is enough light in this station for the both of us. Not too much, not too little. Just enough light.”
“This train station is too dim. I want to see your face more properly,” Taehyun insisted.
Seungyoon chuckled. “Trust me, you don’t want to see this face right now. I’m sleepy and drunk as shit.”
Taehyun laughed along. “I thought you were a lightweight.”
“Yeah. It doesn’t take a lot to get me drunk.”
Taehyun had no idea whether it was the alcohol doing its job or not, but for whatever reason, Seungyoon gave him a soft kiss on the cheek. “Let’s sleep for a while. We can keep talking in the morning.” He kissed him one more time.
“Good night, Nam.”
Taehyun was certainly glad that he had turned off his flashlight, as he felt his cheeks going red. Seungyoon put his head onto Taehyun’s shoulder again, and continued sleeping.
That was the last time they had met.
Taehyun looked out the window, but quickly turned his face away. The sun's rays were shining uncomfortably bright through the window pane, piercing his eyes and making him flinch. He stood up and moved to another seat, a seat in the corner of the back of the compartment, where there was no window and no sunlight.
Taehyun hated sunny mornings. There had been just enough light that night when he had slept next to his hyung. This morning, there was too much light.
And there was never enough light in the right places, it seemed.
"I'm the number 0; empty inside. You're the 1, the light that filled me. That's right, you plus me is one."
"0+1"; Kang Seungyoon (WINNER).