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just like before

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Seungcheol decided to post an update on weverse, thinking of the people who's sharing the same predicament as his. It might be for a different reason, but all the same, they all missed sleep.

Would it be weird to go jogging right now?

He knew the answer, but it didn’t stop him from pulling out of the parking lot and driving to Han river at three o’clock in the morning. It has been a while since he last went there. Usually it would be with the other members, a small way to unwind after a hectic week. But sometimes, being alone is also something that he’s thankful for.

Seungcheol inhaled the spring breeze that came rushing past him as he stretched before he started his run. He reveled in the stillness of the night, and the calming emptiness of a usually crowded place. And despite not getting a full night’s sleep, Seungcheol felt refreshed.

Feeling the air push past him, Seungcheol felt free. Maybe waking up at such an unholy hour isn’t so bad, he thought to himself. He ran two laps near the river before he decided to sit on a bench at the side, enjoying the river's still beauty.

Seizing this small break, he decided to check his weverse, comments asking him why he’s still up, and messages of concern and sympathy filled the post. In all honesty, Seungcheol doesn’t have an answer for that, nor does he have anything particular in his mind, but he smiled at the thought. Their fans may be a sea of faceless strangers, but it sure does feel warm.

The air is nice.

He updated before he exited the app and pocketed his phone back. Seungcheol sat there, admiring the night view of the river reflecting the light of the tall buildings from the other side.

“How long have you been here?” a familiar voice pulled Seungcheol out of his daydream.

“How did you know I was here?” Seungcheol looked back to see Jihoon approaching him.

“You posted on weverse, hyung.”

“I didn’t say where I was though,”

“I guess I know you too well?” Jihoon smiled as he sat beside Seungcheol.

“You’re here.” Seungcheol stated, as if he can’t believe Jihoon was really there. And then it hit him, “How?”

“By how, do you mean, how I got here? Taxis are pretty convenient.” Jihoon said, a laugh was trying to escape him with the dumbfounded look on Seungcheol’s face. “And yes, I’m here.”

“Why?” It sounded harsh in Seungcheol’s ears, but he didn’t mean it that way. It’s just that he can’t figure out why Jihoon would be there.

“I couldn’t sleep too?”

Seungcheol knows that that’s a lie, Jihoon's nocturnal. So, he turned to look at Jihoon, his eyes full of curiosity, intent on knowing the real reason why he's there.

“I was worried.” Jihoon admitted. “To be honest, I might also have a trauma with you disappearing.”

“That was one time, Jihoon.” Seungcheol had to laugh. “And that was when I was too young to understand shit.”

“Not in that way. I meant… you know?” Jihoon was having a hard time explaining. He couldn’t find the right words. Seungcheol just looked confused.

“I really don’t, Jihoonie.” Seungcheol chuckled. “For a person with such extensive vocabulary when it comes to lyric writing, you suck at words, Jihoon.”

“I was afraid you’re having a hard time again.”

“Oh.” Seungcheol placed everything together. “You mean if I’m getting anxious again?”

“Yes. Maybe...” Jihoon looked down, his eyes focused on his feet, unwilling to meet Seungcheol’s eyes. “I’m scared that you’re having a hard time again and you’re not telling anyone. This time, I want it to be different. I want to be there for you.”

“Jihoonie, I’m okay.” Seungcheol tried to reassure him.

“That’s good then.” Jihoon sighed. “Just remember that I’m here. Just like before.”

“Just like before?”

“Back when we tell everything to each other, hyung…” Jihoon turned to meet Seungcheol’s eyes, “Cheol… I know we said we don’t need any words between us, that we’ve already exhausted all possible things to say to each other… but I hope you know that that doesn’t mean I don’t want to talk. I’m still here for you.”

“Like before?” Seungcheol repeats. Jihoon nodded, a small smile lingered on his lips.

“Hyung, to be honest, I feel like we’ve grown apart a lot. The distance between you and me was too great that it felt like I lost you. But then, I look back at us. We may have grown, but we’re still the same kids who’s running towards our dreams. So yeah, just like before.”

“Like before?” Seungcheol repeats. “Does that mean, I can kiss you again? Like before?” Seungcheol asked.

“What?” it was Jihoon’s turn to look confused.

“I stole your first kiss, remember?” Seungcheol looked proud when he stated that.

And in that instance, Jihoon was reminded of their pre-debut days, the games they played and the way they goofed around. He remembered the days when Seungcheol just couldn’t get enough of him, clinging to him and insisting that they practice together, despite having different assignments.

Jihoon felt his heart swell, “No one’s really stopping you, is there?”

Seungcheol took that as a yes and closed the gap between him and Jihoon’s lips.

Seungcheol’s lips was just as soft as Jihoon remembered. His first kiss was over before it even started, it was barely a kiss. But Jihoon remembered the tingling feeling on his lips, the way Seungcheol reached for his neck, as if to comfort him after he just stole his first kiss. And he remembered how he reached out to hold Seungcheol’s hand to reassure him that it was okay.

When they moved away from each other, Seungcheol could only smile. “At least, that kiss is a proper one.” Jihoon couldn’t help but comment, making Seungcheol laugh.

“I missed you, Hoonie.” Seungcheol caressed Jihoon’s cheek.

“Welcome home, Cheol.” Jihoon closed his eyes, reaching out to hold Seungcheol’s hand.