"It wasn't your fault, Zeng ge," Yul squeezed him closer, "Nothing was your fault. Oh God, I just want to punch that bastard who did this to you."
Zeng shook his head, pulling away, "No, he wasn't wrong. I understand his decision to go back to his normal life, I couldn't ever hate him for that. He deserved the happiness that he dreamt of and he got it. I heard he even has a kid now. If anything I am happy for him."
"But Zeng ge-"
Zeng gave a bitter smile, "Nothing is going to change, Yul. I had told you at the very beginning." He fell silent. Yul also didn't speak up.
"You know what, even after everything, I can't find the will to hate him," Zeng admitted. "I loved him too much for that. I really did. Maybe a part of me still does."
Yul's heart sank deeper but this wasn't the time to mourn for that. He took Zeng's hands in his and Zeng continued,
"I was in my third year of UG when we broke up. After that, it all went downhill and continued for over a year. I would bunk classes and lock myself in my room.
Needless to say, I failed my final year exams. That period was absolutely the worst. I had hit my rock bottom.
Thankfully, my parents were very supportive. My friends and even some of my college juniors helped me to get back on track. Since then, I prefer to stay by myself and won't let anyone into my heart.
I thought I should give myself a chance with you. But it won't be fair to you, Yul. I can't keep you happy. I destroy everything I love. I even would have said I was cursed, but the realist part in me doesn't agree with that. So leave me while there's still a chance before you regret ever meeting me."
Yul frowned, not trying to hide his disagreement. Zeng insisted, "Yul, please go back, there's no use staying with me. This is who I am. I am deeply flawed, I am insecure and overthinking, I am self-destructive and I might destroy you too. Go back before it's too late. Let go of me, before I drag you down."
"You won't," Yul held him by the shoulders, "Don't think so low of yourself. If anything, I would be more than happy if I could be with you."
Yul cut him off, "Because I love you, Zeng ge!"
Zeng paused to look at him. A while later, he pursed his lip as tears welled up in his eyes. Yul cradled him to his shoulder as Zeng clung to him. He kept patting Zeng's head, whispering loving words to him.
Zeng cried for some time more before Yul pulled away to cup his face in his palms.
"Come on, Zeng ge. Stop crying already. Look, your pretty eyes are puffy now."
Zeng sniffled with red puffy eyes, "No part of me is pretty."
"Every part is. You are beautiful," Yul said softly, wiping the tear below Zeng's eyes with the pad of his thumbs and leaned forward to kiss those pretty eyes, intending to never let them cry again.
Zeng smiled a little when Yul lovingly stroked his cheek. He shut his eyes and leaned against the palm, savouring the tenderness that he was receiving. He still thought that he didn't deserve it but it felt nice to have someone beside him and comfort him like the way Yul did.
All of a sudden, the exhaustion hit him. He felt as if he had fought a long battle and needed an equally long rest. He leaned on Yul, placing his head on the younger one's shoulder. Yul soothingly rubbed his back.
"You must be tired. You cried too much. Let's put you to bed, shall we?"
Zeng wrapped his arms around Yul's neck as he picked him up with ease and headed towards the bedroom. After carefully placing Zeng on the bed, he took a step back.
"Go to sleep, Zeng ge. You are tired."
Zeng looked at him for a moment and then patted the area beside him. Yul got the cue and sat beside him.
"Thank you," Zeng said after a while of silence, his voice hoarse from crying.
Yul blinked, "For what?"
"Thank you for staying." He smiled with effort. "I don't deserve you, Yul. I really don't."
"Wrong." Yul interjected, coming closer and bonked their foreheads, "You deserve all the happiness in the world. Sorry that you'll have to adjust with only me." He said, kissing Zeng's forehead. Getting up, Yul tucked the duvet over Zeng. "Take a nap. I'll wake you up later."
Sleep took over in no time and Zeng curled up under the duvet, pulling it till his neck. After making sure he was asleep, Yul pulled a chair from the study table that was placed before the window and sat there. What to do next was the question. And he knew the answer too. As Zeng had warned earlier, nothing was going to change even after knowing the truth.
Yul looked over his shoulder to see the guy in a new light. Before him wasn't the strong-willed, confident doctor anymore. It was a frail, weak Xiao Zeng with a lot of insecurities. The man who didn't appreciate himself, who thought he didn't deserve happiness, who deemed himself as worthless. If not for this dream of his of saving lives, Yul didn't know how Zeng could have survived it. He saw Zeng as a strong individual, but the void could make people do painful things to themselves and Zeng was living in that pain, probably everyday.
Despite the distance of a mere few feet, they were still miles away from each other. Yul never had a heartbreak before and he knew that he couldn't understand something that he had never experienced first hand. But, he knew one thing. He would stay rooted to the ground till this person called for him. And when that time comes, he would happily run those miles to reach him.
Because isn't that what love is?