Been different people many times
I live my life in bitterness
And fill my heart with emptiness”
- fear and loathing
(marina & the diamonds)
At night, there are the dreams. They come unbidden, haunting him with what-ifs where he and Namsoon are still each others’ halves and baits him with a world in which things never changed. In them, Namsoon laughs and acts as if nothing has happened, and Heungsoo wants to get angry but he can’t - but then, he’s never been able to deny Namsoon, not when he smiles with that playful, easygoing glint in his eyes and says, “But you forgive me, don’t you?”
This is, he thinks, the Namsoon that he’d wanted: the Namsoon who didn’t know fear, who was strong and resolute, who believed nothing could break their friendship. Not the Namsoon who had run away. Not the Namsoon who had turned his back when he should’ve looked straight forward.
It’s not fair, he thinks to himself when he wakes in the morning. His subconscious is so much better at figuring out what he wants than he’s willing to admit.
When he gets out of the hospital, Heungsoo finds himself spending far too much time in old haunts with loaded memories. “Where’s your friend?” asks the ahjussi who works at the dingy little comic book store on the corner. “He used to come in here every day, you know. Said he was waiting.”
For a few moments, Heungsoo isn’t sure whether he wants to break something, or if he is what’s breaking. “Guess he got tired of waiting,” Heungsoo replies, and turns to leave without saying anything more.
That night, in his mind, he and Namsoon sit at the comics store together, hunched together over a table as they read from the same book. “Hey, go faster,” Namsoon says, frowning as he props his head up on Heungsoo’s shoulder. “You read way too slow, you know that?”
Heungsoo, though, snorts as he flips the page. “You go too fast is the problem,” he says matter-of-factly, “and you always miss the details, so you end up having to ask me too many questions.”
“As long as you answer, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?” Namsoon retorts, grinning widely.
When he wakes up, though, Heungsoo can’t remember what he answered.
It’s a few weeks later he hears that Namsoon moved to Seoul. He tells himself he doesn’t care, and starts picking fights at school again. The fights always come after the dreams, but he convinces himself that he doesn’t notice the pattern: it’s easier that way.
Somewhere along the line, Heungsoo grows up a little more and his hormones go crazy. Wet dreams of girls with faces he can’t remember and soft, curvy bodies straight from porn magazines merge with dreams of laughing and playing with Namsoon, until it’s Namsoon that features in all of them, kissing and touching him with a sort of casual intimacy that turns him on more than anything else can. Namsoon always gets him off inelegantly, all rough palms and uneven jerks, but Heungsoo likes it that way - it fits Namsoon’s personality better than gentleness or coyness.
His sister pretends that she doesn’t notice when he wakes up early in the morning and washes his sheets in the bathroom sink. Heungsoo, for his part, pretends that he’s dreaming of girls.
A dream: he and Namsoon are sitting next to each other in a crowded noodle restaurant, laughing as they feed each other when all of a sudden, Heungsoo can feel Namsoon’s hand on his thigh, inching up slowly.
“Namsoon,” he says, putting down his chopsticks.
“What?” Namsoon replies, looking up. There’s a certain mischievousness in his eyes that’s hard to resist.
He tries, though: “Not here,” he says.
“But it’s because it’s here that it’s fun,” Namsoon murmurs, and he cups Heungsoo’s dick - even through fabric, he can feel the warmth of Namsoon’s hand. Heungsoo closes his eyes and lets himself go: it’s just another morning he’ll wake up with come on his bedsheets and resentment pushing down on his heart. What’s one drop of water in an ocean, anyway?
Three days after that dream, Heungsoo gets suspended from yet another school. “We’re moving,” his sister says, voice tight, and he can tell she’s trying to restrain herself from crying. “To Seoul. You’ll enroll in a school there, and you’re going to graduate.”
He looks down at his sister - in his mind, she’ll always be taller than him, even though it’s been years since he outgrew her - and nods tersely. “Okay,” he replies.
“You have to graduate,” she says, in a fierce sort of tone he’s never heard from her before. “I’m giving up everything here, so you have to. You have to.”
Heungsoo swallows. “I promise,” he says. “I’ll graduate.”
So they move to Seoul. The dreams, of course, follow.
Fate’s a bitch and karma’s no better, he thinks. Of course he would end up in the same school as Go Namsoon - of course.
Namsoon’s changed, though: like a house that was once a home, filled with warmth and memories where there is now only dust, he’s reserved and distant where there was once liveliness. It’s almost as if, Heungsoo thinks to himself, he’d packed all his emotions in boxes and carefully moved them out.
The frame’s the same, but the portrait inside has changed. Instead of gang member, he’s class president. Instead of vivacious and vicious, he’s aloof and melancholy. It bothers him more than he’s willing to admit, because if it bothers him, then it’s the same as saying that he still wants the Namsoon that was his best friend.
For the first time, in his dream, he says to Namsoon, “I hate you, you bastard.”
Namsoon tilts his head and laughs - still the same as always, even though he knows Namsoon isn’t even like that anymore. “No, you don’t,” he replies.
“You’re not even real,” he says. He clenches his fists so hard that he should be leaving ridges in his skin, but he doesn’t feel anything - after all, it’s just in his imagination.
But Namsoon just smiles as if he knows something Heungsoo doesn’t. “Of course I’m real,” he says. “If I weren’t, you wouldn’t be with me right now.”
When Jungho calls him out for a fight, he shows up because he doesn’t know what else to do when he’s being challenged. He starts to regret it when he’s on the ground with bruises forming around his side, but then Namsoon shows up and it’s a whole different sort of regret he feels.
You can tame a wolf, but you still can’t call it a dog - Namsoon’s the same. Heungsoo doesn’t even feel surprise as he watches Namsoon tear into Jungho and his lacky as if they’re raw meat and he hasn’t eaten in days. “Go Namsoon,” he says, and laughs through the blood in his mouth. “You’re still alive.”
Namsoon freezes and stares at him, mouth open as if he has something to say but the words won’t come out. It’s the first time, Heungsoo realizes, that he’s ever seen Namsoon look scared.
That’s when their teachers show up, and the police right afterward.
When he goes to sleep that night, he dreams of the past, and a promise that he once made. “Whether or not you’re my friend, doing whatever you do, I’m going to stop you from doing something that will get you in jail,” he’d said, after pulling Namsoon off of some kid that he probably would’ve beaten halfway to death if Heungsoo had let him. “I don’t know about other things, but I’ll keep this promise unconditionally.”
He hadn’t even remembered it until then. Somehow, the memory hurts even more than the usual dreams.
Namsoon buys him textbooks, but Heungsoo doesn’t take them. Namsoon insists that he stole the test answers instead of Heungsoo, but both of them know he’s lying. (“I didn’t do it because of you,” Namsoon says, not quite looking him in the eye. “I did it because of me.”
“Are you that scared of me?” he asks.
“Yeah, I’m afraid of you,” Namsoon says, but his is a voice that doesn’t know fear to begin with. “I’m more afraid of you than anything else in the world, you bastard.”
Heungsoo snorts and looks away, because he knows that Namsoon is really only scared of himself and Heungsoo’s existence reminds of Namsoon of what he is capable of.) Namsoon pulls at him but Heungsoo pushes back, because that’s all he knows how to do, and sometimes he even manages to convince himself that it’s what he wants, too.
Lately, his night visions are a twisted mix of the Namsoon he’s invented and the Namsoon that is real and the Namsoon of his memories. Sometimes they fumble with each others’ clothes and rut against each other roughly, but before Heungsoo can come that Namsoon slips away, and instead there is the clear-eyed, sincere Namsoon that strokes him with a lightness that Heungsoo has never known from him, and it turns him on in a way he’s not used to.
“I wanted to change,” Namsoon says, breathing slow and steady as he palms the underside of Heungsoo’s dick. “I didn’t want to be that same bastard who broke your leg and ran away. I wanted to be -”
He always wakes up before he can hear what, though.
Heungsoo doesn’t care about what the other kids in school say about them, but he wishes that Namsoon would stop, because though there is a part of him that has been ready to forgive him since the start, the rest of him can’t, not like this - not when he’s still having dreams where Namsoon kisses him hard, all tongue and teeth and desperation.
But Namsoon has never known when to give up. It doesn’t matter what he says or does (“If I’m a gangster, then what are you?” he asks) because Namsoon always responds in his straightforward way (“Anyone who was supposed to leave was supposed to get beaten, so while getting beat, his leg got crushed,” Namsoon says in class days later, giving the reply he hadn’t been able to give before. “That bully is a bastard, and that bastard is Go Namsoon”) and he’s forced to remember that Namsoon always wins him over in the end.
Heungsoo almost gets expelled, for the reason of bullying Go Namsoon, of all things. He almost closes his eyes and laughs when he hears that - the irony, he thinks, is atrocious. Even though he’s saved in the end, he decides not to go back anyway. A diploma’s not worth all of this. He’ll make his sister understand.
But, of course, he won’t be able to make Namsoon understand - like clockwork, Namsoon comes running after him, waiting in the playground near his neighborhood until Heungsoo finally comes out to meet him. Heungsoo imagines it’ll be a rehash of all the other conversations they’ve had, but there’s a spark in Namsoon’s eyes he hasn’t seen in a long time, and before he even realizes it, Namsoon’s grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and pushed him against the playground equipment. “Why are you using me as your excuse to run away?” Namsoon asks.
He snorts. “Yeah, I’m running away. It makes me sick, seeing the face of the guy who ruined my life - just seeing you makes me think of my leg, and I can’t stand it, so I’m running, you asshole,” he replies, even though there’s more to it than he’s willing to admit.
“So come out,” Namsoon says, eyes steady even as they glass over with tears, “and get your revenge on me.”
Heungsoo forces out a laugh. “Revenge? Do you even have anything that was like soccer to me? If there is, then say so. Try throwing away the thing that’s most important to you. Then I’ll believe you mean it. Throw it away, and I’ll go to school.”
Namsoon hesitates, and his grip on Heungsoo’s jacket loosens. For the first time, Heungsoo thinks he might have overcome.
So he stops going to school. The dreams stop, too, and he feels empty. But at least emptiness is something that he knows how to deal with.
But he doesn’t win: Namsoon turns in a form to withdraw from school, and Heungsoo tries to pretend like he doesn’t understand what that means.
Namsoon, though, doesn’t fake things like he does. “Do you think what I just gave up right now was school?” Namsoon asks. “What I threw away wasn’t school. It was you, you bastard.”
That answer shouldn’t be allowed, he wants to say. If you talk like that, I’ll end up forgiving you.
Everything and everybody seems to conspire to put them back together: Hakyung confronts him behind the school shed, Kang-songsaenim forces them to clean the gym together. Even Jungho (if inadvertently) pushes them together - for the first time in three years they fight by each others’ sides again, and it’s as if all that time turns into nothing. Afterwards, as they just barely manage to make it onto a bus before it pulls out, leaving the poolhall gang members far behind them, Heungsoo forgets himself and throws an arm over Namsoon’s shoulder, pulling him close. He’d almost forgotten how easily they could fit into each other, so close that he swears he could smell the faint scent of shampoo on Namsoon’s hair.
A beat passes, and he remembers himself, pulling away to sit on opposite ends of the bus. It’s the first time they’ve touched each other in a friendly way since middle school, and Heungsoo can’t stop his mind from conjuring up the sensation of Namsoon jerking him off in his dreams.
He could become best friends again with the bastard who broke his leg and crushed his lifelong goal, Heungsoo thinks. He could forgive that much. But he couldn’t become best friends again with the bastard his subconscious keeps telling him that he wants to get him off, to kiss him, to touch him - to be his, and his other half simultaneously. It’s not the same thing, he thinks, as wanting Namsoon to be in love with him, but it’s something similar.
Namsoon would do it, he knows. Namsoon would live his whole life atoning in any way possible, whether it’s getting beaten up for something he didn’t do or jerking Heungsoo off because that’s what Heungsoo wants. But he’d never know if Namsoon was doing it because he felt like he had to, or because Namsoon felt the same way about him, too.
So he can’t be best friends with Go Namsoon again. Forget it not being fair to Namsoon - it wouldn’t be fair to him.
fandom: School 2013 - Heungsoo-centric, some Heungsoo/Namsoon
rating: PG-13 (non-explicit sexual content)
summary: There are three Go Namsoons in Heungsoo's mind: there's the Namsoon from before, there's the Namsoon who lives in his dreams, and there's the Namsoon in real life. All of them haunt him in different ways.
notes: i will probably write more of this after s2013 ends. probably! i think a happy ending would be better, haha. i know it ended kind of abruptly, which i did bc i wanted to end it at a good turning point in case i do write more instead of arbitrarily trailing off at the latest episode, if that makes sense? u__u