leaving to stay
Infinite, Sungyeol, PG, 2460 words
written for kpop_olymfics
thanks to galmaegi and curledupkitten for their help!
Infinite, Sungyeol, PG, 2460 words
Sungyeol groans as he realizes only twenty minutes or so have passed since the last time he checked the time. With a heavy sigh he buries his face in his pillow in frustration. It’s not quite late enough to start getting up and ready for the day.
He feels like he has been counting sheep all night as sleep eludes him. When Myungsoo had come in mere hours before after a late night of filming for his new drama Sungyeol had feigned sleep so as not to worry the other boy. The drama filming for both Myungsoo and Hoya had started days after the group’s latest promotions and Sungyeol knows they can use all the sleep they are afforded.
Sungyeol fights back the urge to beat his fists against the mattress in frustration. The late hour and thoughts of his group mates have him more frustrated than normal. Ever since the Man in Love promotions just over a year ago, interviewers have taken great joy in pointing out Sungyeol’s few contributions to the group. He’s gotten good at laughing the remarks off but as time goes by he’s started to believe that perhaps Infinite really would be better off without him.
Sometimes though Sungyeol can't help but think he's a terrible friend because he wishes it was him getting the roles or having solo albums and not his group mates. He thinks bitterly that his presence wasn’t even needed for their latest comeback. With not even a whole line to sing this time around Sungyeol knows he’s not bringing anything to the group. They probably won’t even notice he’s gone for all he contributes he starts to think bitterly.
Pulling his blankets closer, he thinks Myungsoo might miss him. Although given how little the two see each other these days it’s possible that the other boy won’t even have time to worry or think about Sungyeol. Besides he’ll have the others and Sungjong or maybe Dongwoo even will just have to get used to being used as a human pillow. Sungyeol laughs quietly to himself at the thought of Sungjong trying to patiently deal with Myungsoo’s clinginess even moreso than he does now.
He eventually drifts into sleep thinking about his friends. Sungyeol wakes up to Myungsoo trying to be quiet as he gathers his things for his day of filming.
“Myungsoo” Sungyeol whispers.
Startled Myungsoo turns and smiles at him. “Sungyeollie, go back to sleep. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Mmm, it’s okay. “ Sungyeol replies. When Myungsoo realizes he’s not going to say anything else he turns back to getting dressed while Sungyeol watches him silently.
When Myungsoo is at the door, Sungyeol calls out, “Goodbye Myungsoo”
Myungsoo looks pleased as he answers, “Bye Sungyeol. See you later.”
It’s only when the door is shut and Sungyeol is alone that he says quietly, “Good bye. Please don’t hate me.”
Sungyeol’s mother calls during the first week of August just as the group is in the final stages of preparing for their fall comeback. He misses the first couple of calls and forgets to call back in between rehearsals. Daeyeol hunts him down in the hallways and tells him to call their mother so she’ll stop fretting.
Instead of calling Sungyeol takes the few free hours they are given one day to go visit. She cuts right to the chase, forgoing courtesies, as she informs Sungyeol that a draft notice from the Army has arrived for him. It’s not that much of a surprise; he graduated university over a year ago and without that student status it was really only a matter of time. He assures his mother that the company will arrange a waiver for now and that she still has time before her oldest son is in uniform.
Sungyeol only has time for a cup of coffee before he has to head back to rehearsal. He takes the notice with him promising to have it taken care of as soon as possible. Besides, he teases, I’m the star of Infinite, they would be lost without him.
It is not on purpose that it lies forgotten about at the bottom of his bag. No immediate action is required and it simply becomes something to think about later. Getting through another promotion cycle is his only priority.
It’s not until a particularly rough interview with a magazine that Sungyeol is reminded that he needs to take action before he forced into the Army. The interviewer seems more enthusiastic than normal about pointing out Sungyeol’s few lines. In his attempt to joke about it he mentions perhaps he should just enlist; when he got back maybe the producers will take pity on him and let him sing more.
Sunggyu takes over then saying they were all a long from the military. The subject is dropped for the moment but Sungyeol lets his mind wander briefly to the forgotten slip of paper and thinks what if.
"Wake up" Sungyeol hears someone whisper loudly into his ear. When he doesn't respond fast enough for the speaker's liking he shaken roughly. "Wake up, it's your shift."
Groaning Sungyeol moves enough to let the other soldier know he's awake. Knowing how valuable sleep is to all the soldiers in his basic training squad he doesn’t linger longer than necessary. He throws the blankets off as he fights off the last of the sleep and starts to slip into his shoes. Satisfied his replacement is awake the other soldier moves back towards the duty post.
Fire guard is the bane of every soldier in basic training. Forced every night to stand guard over their comrades ready to alert them to potential fires while they scrub down their barracks room in the dark. Sungyeol discovered early on that years of an idol schedule has made him better able to deal with the lack of sleep that comes with fire guard. Using it to his advantage, he trades shifts for favors from his fellow trainees. He does their guard duties and in return they do his laundry and give him the snacks they receive in the mail.
Tonight is Sungyeol’s last fire guard of training. In two days his class will be graduating and he will be off to his duty station. His orders, received earlier this week, have him going to a small station out in the country. It’s of little concern to Sungyeol to the where he’s located who as a junior conscript won’t be allowed off base unsupervised for quite some time. Once dressed, he makes his way slowly over to the guard stand set up by the door and takes over. He watches his fellow soldier crawl back into his bunk before turning to note the shift hand over in the log book.
Tonight he’s covering his own shift and one extra. With no cleaning duties to attend Sungyeol paces quietly through the barracks to pass the time.
The drill sergeants had them pack most of their belongings earlier in the evening. Sungyeol eyes them now, lined up neatly at the foot of bed, and thinks back to years ago when he kept his bags constantly packed. Back then he thinks he wasn’t assured of his value. In just four weeks of Army life he has already shown talent for leadership and weaponry that as a civilian he’d never knew he possessed.
Thoughts of his group mates still hurt so he doesn’t let himself dwell on them instead he choosing to scrub an already clean floor as distraction.
The barracks room is filled with the noise of soldiers lazily cleaning their weapons and gear. They’ve just finished the annual training exercise with the US military and the higher ups have kindly granted the company a few easy days as a reward of a job well done. There’s a rumor that some of the lower enlisted might be lucky enough to get off base passes.
Sungyeol’s knows he’s not going to be included in the list but he’s happy enough to join in the chatter. The morning passes as the soldiers joke about and talk about what they’d like to eat outside of the cafeteria. It’s a surprise then when a sergeant appears in the entryway seeking him out.
“PVT Lee Sungyeol, you have a visitor. Please come with me,” the sergeant yells out curtly from his spot.
Sungyeol feels the eyes of everyone in the room on him as he responds, “Yes, Sergeant.”
Sungyeol is given only a moment to ask his squad mates to watch over his weapon before he’s ushered out of the room after the sergeant.
“Sergeant Choi, do you know who’s here to see me?” he inquires as the start on path that leads to the visitor center. Sungyeol knows that it was only a matter of time before someone in the company came to visit. He was just hoping he had a bit more time to settle is all.
“A man,” is the only response he gets.
The rest of the walk is in silence. Sungyeol’s mind racing with which company official might be here and what they’ll have to say. Before he’s ready, he’s being led into the visitor’s center and directed towards the corner.
Sungyeol knows instantly who’s here. His guest has his back to him and didn’t seem to appear to notice when he entered so Sungyeol takes his time approaching. He doesn’t say anything as he sits down in front of Dongwoo. Dongwoo doesn’t glance at him as does content at the moment to pretend he’s reading the literature on the walls.
Not wanting to break the silence yet Sungyeol observes his former group mate. Dongwoo looks tired the way he doesn’t after a fan sign and a performance. The lines around his smile a little tighter after hours of being on in front of the fans. Sungyeol gasps as he realizes the others might be nearby.
“They aren’t here.” Dongwoo says finally. He still hasn’t looked at Sungyeol.
They fall into silence again.
"You left us." Dongwoo hisses. Sungyeol is taken aback by the amount of anger he can see in the other boy’s eyes. This is a if looks could kill moments he notes to himself. Sungyeol can see his jaw tense and knows Dongwoo wants to say more. He can see how carefully Dongwoo is trying to control his anger right now.
“If I’d said anything you would’ve tried to stop me!”
Dongwoo looks at him then and Sungyeol is momentarily afraid at the look in his eyes.
“Did ever care at all? Are we really that easy to just toss aside?”
“What? Of course I…”Sungyeol doesn’t get to finish his sentence before Dongwoo cuts him off.
“NO, Stop you don’t get to apologize,” Dongwoo yells out. Out of the corner of his eye Sungyeol can see the duty sergeant start to take an interest in the conversation. Sungyeol forces his body to appear relaxed enough so that the sergeant doesn’t decide to come over.
Once he’s satisfied the guard won’t be coming over Sungyeol refocuses his attention back to Dongwoo
“Infinite doesn’t need me and you know it.”
Dongwoo lets out a snort at that, “Not anymore we don’t.”
“Hyung, I…..” Sungyeol doesn’t know what to say. Not for the first time since his the start of enlistment is Sungyeol starting to regret his actions. He knows he ran away and that in hindsight it was foolish. He can’t say it was done in haste since it took weeks to plan it properly. But now, in the face of his friend’s anger he wishes not for the first time that he had gone about it differently.
Again they fall silent as they engage in a staring match. Sungyeol’s thoughts are racing as he tries to come up the words he should have said months ago. It’s Dongwoo who breaks the silence.
“How do you think Woohyun feels knowing he only got a solo album to hide your running away until the company could figure out what to do? Distract the fans they said. Don’t let them know Sungyeol just up and left.”
Sungyeol wisely chooses not to respond.
“Do you have any idea what your little act did to Myungsoo? To Sungjong? To Woohyun? You have no idea do you? Have you even asked about us, thought about us?” All the time Sungyeol answers in his head.
“How is Myungsoo” Sungyeol asks quietly cutting Dongwoo off.
The other boys leans forwards as he answers, “You can find out the internet how he is like everyone else now. “
Don’t cry now Sungyeol thinks. “Please, Hyung, just let me explain why,” He pleads.
“No” Dongwoo makes to stand up. “There’s nothing to understand. You left.”
Dongwoo waits until he’s standing before he says, “Infinite is six now. And as far as I’m concerned it always was.” With that he turns and stalks out of the building.
Sungyeol remains sitting in his chair trying to process what transpired with Dongwoo until the desk sergeant finally comes forward and tells him he can’t stay any longer.
Sungyeol is angry after Dongwoo’s visit. Angry at Dongwoo for not understanding, for refusing to understand, angry at all of the guys for never noticing until it was too late that Sungyeol needed more from them. Most of all though he’s angry at himself for his stupidity in thinking everything would work out in the end.
He tries not to let his anger get in the way of work. He knows though that his squad have been avoiding this past week but whether it’s because they sense his mood or not he can’t say for sure.
It’s a surprise then when they invite him to come and watch the weekend music shows with them. It’s here, gathered together into their cramped common room with his new found friends, that he learns Infinite has officially announced his departure. Infinite H are standing before him on screen talking with the MCs about how they respect Sungyeol’s decision and wish him the best of luck. They make a reference to an official announcement for more details and Sungyeol thinks idly he should read it later.
Three days after Infinite’s announcement, Sungyeol finds himself sitting in the Army career counselor’s office. He doesn’t let the officer talk, too afraid that he’ll lose his resolve if he has to listen to the other speak first.
It takes less than hour for the paperwork to be completed. With congratulations and promises of party from the senior staff, Sungyeol walks out of the office having signed up for a life in the Army.
He tells himself it’ll be easier to forget if he never has to return.
written for kpop_olymfics
thanks to galmaegi and curledupkitten for their help!