Make You Happy
Kwanghee had known Siwan forever. Or at least, that's what it felt like. He had known Siwan since their first day of primary school when they were seven years old and had equally embarrassing haircuts. Kwanghee had first run into the smaller boy at the back of the classroom next to their book draws, and had only spoken to him because of their matching backpacks. It was a rocky start to their relationship as Kwanghee had shamelessly pushed Siwan against the draws and made him cry. Kwanghee was punished by being forced to miss out on snack time for his misdemeanour and had had to hand make an apology card at the teacher's instruction and present it to Siwan. The card read:
Dear Im Siwan,
I am sorry you have the same bag as me. Also for pushing you. Next time get a different bag. I don't like sharing.
Hwang Kwanghee. 7 Years old.
Luckily for Kwanghee, Siwan didn't bother reading the card when he received it, preferring to look at the scribbled picture on the front. Siwan had sent Kwanghee a toothy grin of thanks and still had the card to this day, unwilling to part with their first shared memory, though he would never admit.
Over the next few years, Kwanghee routinely teased and ribbed Siwan until he cried. This resulted in a variety of punishments over the years ranging from Kwanghee having his toys confiscated to being forbidden from joining school trips. It also meant that they spent years yo-yoing from fast friends to sworn enemies in the span of a week. Kwanghee's bad behaviour stemmed from his jealousy of Siwan for numerous reasons. His meticulous schoolwork that was often showcased as a perfect example made Kwanghee pout that his hard work was always second best. Siwan's good looks and kind and patient personality was another factor that made the boy one of the more popular people wherever they went, and resulted in Kwanghee being starved for attention.
They were eleven when Siwan finally learnt that Kwanghee was merely jealous and it was this realisation that allowed them to become inseparable best friends, rather than being good friends that fell out easily. Siwan may no longer cry at Kwanghee's constant and demanding teasing and bullying, but he did become slightly irritated when Kwanghee became too clingy. It was only ever a mild exasperation though, and Kwanghee barely noticed, even when Siwan would forcibly push his clutching limbs away in a desperate attempt to recreate his own personal space. A factor which had long ago lost its true meaning.
Despite their quarrels and Kwanghee's adherent nature, they told each other everything, from the time when Kwanghee stole money from his mother in order to buy the video game he wanted, to the time when Siwan broke his violin bow and didn't have the bravery to admit it to his parents. As a result of this, Kwanghee was the first person Siwan ran to, aged thirteen, to spill the secret that he had been holding in his heart for months. Siwan cried the words through shuddering sobs which muffled his speech. Kwanghee had pulled him close and hugged him tightly, muttering calming phrases in his ears and rocking him until Siwan was no longer crying, but sniffling unattractively into Kwanghee's tear stained shirt, and hiccupping as he tried to regain his breath. It didn't matter to Kwanghee that his best friend was gay; he just didn't want him to cry again. It was the first time Kwanghee began to realise that he cared about someone else's happiness to the point of being willing to make sacrifices to see them smile. As soon as Siwan's sobs had died down to quiet sniffles, Kwanghee made it his mission to make Siwan happy again. This particular adventure landed him with a burn mark across the back of his left hand from the oven, and a scolding from his parents for managing to burn not just his own hand, but the cupcakes he was trying desperately to bake. Kwanghee still had the white scar across the back of his right hand as a stark reminder that he couldn't cook, bake or use an oven to a comprehensive level.
It was at a party when they were fourteen and slightly tipsy for their first time on beer that Kevin had stolen from his dad's supplies, when Kwanghee realised he was making more sacrifices than he had originally intended and that he perhaps wasn't as straight as he had first assumed. Across the room, he watched Siwan have his first kiss with the tall and attractive Park Hyungshik, and he felt his heart clench painfully. Kwanghee realised with startling clarity that the fondness that he felt for his best friend had at some point morphed into a crush. So he stood back and tried not to glance over too often at Siwan or to glare too strongly at Hyungshik. Kwanghee did his best to ignore the pain in his heart, knowing that it was a sacrifice he had to make for Siwan to be happy.
Kwanghee grinned inadvertently the day, just over six months later, when Siwan informed him through tears over that phone, that Hyungshik had broken up with him. Of course, Kwanghee didn't waste a moment before he grabbed whatever form of chocolate was in the cupboard and hopped on his bike, to cycle the 15 minutes across town in order to comfort Siwan. Even though in his heart he was elated that the horrifically perfect and disgustingly nice Hyungshik was out the picture, he was far more concerned with Siwan finding his smile again. So Kwanghee put on film after film, supplied seemingly endless amounts of junk food and lent Siwan a shoulder to cry on, and a hand to hold in comfort.
This was the first of many relationships that always left Siwan crying into Kwanghee's shirt, his hands clutching his best friend in desperation, and his story blurted out between sobs. Each and every time over the years, Kwanghee bit his lip and stayed silent, calmly holding his friend tightly and muttering calming nonsense sentences into his ears to quiet his sobs, and eventually crack out the bad jokes and awful gags to hear the blissful sound of Siwan chuckling.
Kwanghee didn't stay silent forever, though it took him far too many years to confess. It was at the end of their final year of high school, their last day before the summer holidays, when all exams were written and forgotten, and the sun seemed all the more bright for it. The pair of them walked around the school, handing back textbooks and library books, signing the yearbooks of their friends as they passed, laughing at fond memories from their seven years at the school; and it occurred to Kwanghee that in a few months everyone would go their separate ways. That included Siwan and himself. So as they walked towards the science block it blurted out with a blush and a cough as a failed attempt to cover it up. The confession that he had held in his heart for nearly five years.
I like you, Im Siwan.
Siwan was nice about it. Of course he was. But he broke Kwanghee's heart all the same. That surprised, but flattered smile and the uncertain chuckle that slipped out, in case it was one of Kwangee's jokes. In the end Siwan's features arranged themselves in an apology for not realising sooner. In regret for not being able to reciprocate the feelings. Kwanghee knew it had been a long shot, and he wasn't in the least bit surprised at the result, but that small flame of hope which had lit his heart over the years was snubbed out, and he was forced to swallow a bitter smile. He choked out a nonchalant laugh and pulled Siwan along. He'd be damned if he let his stupid crush ruin their friendship of so many years.
However, towards the end of his first year of university, during a three hour phone call across the country to Siwan, exchanging gossip and rumours that had surfaced about old classmates and sharing stories of their recent adventures; Kwanghee realised that the little crush that he harboured in his heart for his best friend had bloomed into love.
Despite their infrequent encounters with the large number of miles separating them, Kwanghee had never felt closer to Siwan and at the same time, he had never felt more distant. He was so aware of the gap between them, of how far away Siwan was from him. Kwanghee knew he would only ever be far behind, reaching out to try and grab the burning bright star that was Im Siwan.
It was when they were twenty, in the beginning of their final year of university, their last chance of childhood before they entered the real world, when Siwan called him. It was a phone call that would forever haunt Kwanghee. Siwan had emphatically assured Kwanghee that he had met the love of his life, that he had found the one. Jung Heechul. Siwan told him the story of the man with the intesnse gaze that had intrigued him from the get go, and Siwan continued to gush about their many coffee dates and how Heechul had bought him flowers and every other attractive aspect of the man, that Kwanghee didn't want to hear, but listened patiently anyway. Kwanghee was more than used to the stomach dropping, heart clenching pain that accompanied the news of Siwan's latest boyfriend, but Kwanghee was overtly aware that as they were getting older, that he was running out of chances to be that latest boyfriend.
He was right.
Three months later, Siwan invited Kwanghee down so that he could meet the one and Kwanghee had strongly mixed feelings. He hated the man on sight, purely on principle. The principle being that he was jealous. However, he found it hard to completely detest him, particularly when Siwan looked at him with such adoration that Kwanghee nearly puked, but would have done anything for Siwan to look at him like that.
Although Kwanghee was pleased to see the bright beam of Siwan's smile, it didn't stop him being jealous, nothing ever would. Though he resolved that he would tell Siwan how he felt, when they broke up. That his feelings hadn't faded, that they had only grown stronger. One last chance wouldn't hurt.
Four years passed without Kwanghee having to coach Siwan through a brake up. Four years passed in which Kwanghee kept his mouth shut and smiled blindingly at the happy couple. Until Siwan broke the news.
We're engaged. We're getting married. Heechul proposed!
Kwanghee screamed and cried and hugged his best friend. He jumped around, acted like an idiot and laughed his congratulations. Inside his head he yelled at Siwan. I love you. Me. Hwang Kwanghee. I love you. Outside he smiled, and gripped Siwan in a hug just that little bit harder than was strictly necessary. Siwan was happy and Kwanghee wouldn't ruin that.
It took another year before the wedding ceremony was held. Kwanghee took his place by Siwan's side as the best man. He watched with a bright and fake smile as Heechul slid the ring onto Siwan's finger. He watched as his last chance slipped away. He watched as the man he loved smiled and wiped away a happy tear in the anticipation of spending eternity with someone who wasn't him.
Kwanghee handed over his wedding gift to Siwan before the newly wedded couple he left for their honeymoon. It was a scrap book detailing their friendship. On the first page lay Kwanghee's first apology card. Siwan laughed as he flipped the pages. Kwanghee smiled at his reaction.
All I want to do is make you happy.