- Genre: Angst, Dark, Inspirational
- Word Count: 3,867
- Pairing: Reader, Johnny
- World: NCT
- Prompt: “Where are you now?” by Loving Caliber featuring Lauren Dunn
This fic contains several elements that may be triggering to some readers. This includes explicit language, mentions of drugs and alcohol, physical abuse, and the murder of a loved one.
I’ve had this on my mind for about a week. Today, I had a rough day and my depression flared up, As I was listening to music to calm down, the song for this fic started playing so I decided to bite the bullet and write it out. Because of my mood, it’s very dark and depressing and even I cried as I was writing it, but that doesn’t say much as I’m a sensitive bitch. After getting all of my bad emotions out, I ended it lightly. It’s not fluff, but I wasn’t sure what to label it. The most appropriate thing I could think of was “inspirational”. I worked on this non-stop for about three and a half hours, so I hope you enjoy. I highly recommend listening to the song while you read it (you can find it on YouTube). I listened to this song on replay the entire time I was writing so I could get the feel of the song properly incorporated into the fic.
You first met Johnny Seo when you twelve years old. Your family had just moved to Chicago and he happened to be your neighbor. His family was very friendly, coming over to welcome you to the neighborhood. You didn’t like him at first because he was already taller than you, but you soon learned that he stood above most of the kids your age. It hadn’t taken long for him to worm his way into your heart because of his kind and helpful nature.
He was your first friend and he made life so much more entertaining. Whether he was cracking jokes or tripping over his own feet, he always brightened up everyone’s day. Spending time with him meant living in the moment. You didn’t think about what tomorrow would bring, all you thought about was how much fun you were having in that moment. Today was all that mattered to the both of you.
You’re not sure how it happened, but you became dependent on Johnny. When he wasn’t around, you would become moody and a total nightmare for your family, but whenever he came around, you be the brightest kid around. Suddenly, all of your worries and fears disappeared. It was just you and Johnny exploring everything the world had to over and you loved it.
You still remember the time you spent with him in high school. Just as your mother had predicted, Johnny had grown up to be a heartthrob. He was popular with the boys and even more popular with the girls, but he never let that get to his head. No matter how popular he was, he was always there for you.
You remember the day everything changed for you.
You had been dating a boy from your class for several months and you had convinced yourself that you were in love with him. Deep down, you knew that neither of you felt that way, but it still broke your heart when you walked in on him cheating on you with one of the cheerleaders. Not just that, but he turned it around and told everyone that you had cheated on him. School became hell for you after that, but Johnny didn’t believe the rumors for a second.
He was there, rushing to your side and holding you in his arms as you cried your heart out. That day, both of you had missed more than half of your classes, but neither of you cared. It was just you and him, sitting under a cherry blossom tree in the park.
“I’ll always be here for you, Y/N. You’re my best friend, remember?”
Before, those words would have made you smile, but that time was different. Something within you snapped and you came to realize that you were in love with Johnny. He was so beautiful, inside and out, and he had always been at your side. How could you have missed it? But he didn’t feel the same.
He was always talking about his crush on the softball team captain.
The fear of rejection and messing up the relationship scared you, so you kept your feelings to yourself. You thought if you ignored it, it would go away, but it didn’t. As time passed, your feelings only grew and he was completely oblivious.
At the end of your senior year, your father announced that you would be moving to another state for his work. On the same day, Johnny announced that he had confessed to the captain and she said yes – they were a couple now.
You made the decision not to tell him about the move.
Just like that, you disappeared from his life.
Five years have passed, and not a day went by that you weren’t thinking about Johnny. You remembered how he would excitedly talk about how he wanted to be an actor or a veterinarian. In the later years of high school, he talked about how cool it would be to be on the Olympic volleyball team. He had so many things that he wanted to do with his life.
As you stood behind the counter of your coffee shop, serving rude customers with strange names, you couldn’t help but wonder if he ever pursued any of those dreams. Maybe he had found a new dream to chase, or maybe he was stuck in the same rut you were living paycheck to paycheck in a dead-end job.
“I clearly said no whipped cream!” A man screamed at you, slamming his hand onto the counter. “Are you even awake?”
“You didn’t say anything about whipped cream, sir.” You responded, numbly. After a year and a half of working the same job, you had become used to the abuse that came with it, both from the customers and your manager. You had become numb to it all.
“Are you saying I’m a liar? The customer is always right, you know.”
“Don’t just scrape it off, it’s ruined now. I want a new one.”
“Yes, sir.” Like a robot, you dumped his drink and started over, not responding to the old woman standing at the register complaining about no one taking her order. It was only you and another guy working, but he was too busy smoking weed in the back to care, leaving you to deal with the weight of everything.
You handed him his drink which he took with a huff. Jason finally returned, his eyes red and his clothes reeking, but it wasn’t your concern. Your shift had ended and you didn’t hesitate to walk away, ignoring the abusive words and looks the woman at the register was sending your way. Whether you did a good job or a horrible one, your manager would still bitch at you and find a way to blame you for everything that went wrong. You just stopped caring.
You stepped out of the coffee shop with a sigh, your eyes looking up to the dreary sky. Cold drops of rain pelted your face lightly and your breath came out in a thin cloud of smoke. It was the beginning of Spring, but it was still very cold and the rain did little to raise the temperature.
It felt good on your skin.
More importantly, it hid the tears that slid down your cheeks.
Your eyes followed a man across that street. At first glance, he looked a lot like Johnny, but you knew it wasn’t him. Your mind loved to play with you and make you see him everywhere, but you know he isn’t there.
You sighed, slowly trudging back to your apartment. “Do you think about me, too? Because I can’t stop thinking about you…”
Life continued to get worse for you.
You had attended a party hosted by your weed-smoking co-worker and got wasted off your face. You never drank, it just wasn’t who you were, but you just wanted one day that you didn’t think about Johnny. Just one day of being free from him.
In your wasted state, you ended up sleeping with some guy you didn’t know, just hoping that he could replace the thoughts of Johnny.
It made your body feel good, but it did little to heal your soul. You felt just as numb before you passed out, and even more so the next day when you woke up next to the creep.
It was just supposed to be a one night stand, but he took an interest in you and wouldn’t leave you alone. He worked his way into your life and soon into your apartment, but he was a bum and drug addict, relying on your measly check to fund his habit.
You let him do what he wanted until the landlord threatened to evict you. It woke you up enough to tell him that if he wanted drugs, he could get em his damn self because you were done being his ATM. You were done giving him a place to fuck an assortment of women. You were done with everything.
Too bad no one ever told you that bad things happen when you deny a druggie his fix. He turned violent, throwing you against the table and punching you in the gut. The items on the table fell to the ground in the struggle. He tried to wrap his hand around your throat, but you bit his arm and kicked him in the nuts. Because of his grip on you, you both hit the floor, falling into the piles of shattered glass.
Your eyes landed on the broken picture frame on the ground and you grabbed it before forcing yourself up, running into your bedroom and locking the door.
When he recovered, he tried to break down the door but he was as dumb as a bag of rocks and didn’t realize the key was sitting on the counter.
You curled up under the window, hugging the photo to your chest as violent sobs racked your body. How had things gotten so bad? When did things start to nose dive into the ground? Why weren’t you good enough for a normal, happy life?
The idiot had been at it for almost two hours before the sound of banging stopped. You were hoping he had passed out from hitting his head so many times, but you knew your luck just wasn’t that good.
Tears were still clouding your eyes, but your body had finally stopped shaking. You uncurled your body, your limbs feeling numb from being in the same position too long, and you examined the photo.
The glass was gone, leaving behind one small piece stuck to the top of the frame. The wood was broken in half at the bottom, hanging on by a small splinter of wood. When the glass broke, it had scraped up the picture a bit.
Your finger ran over the damage and you started to cry again. It was the last photo you and Johnny had taken together. His team had won the local volleyball tournament, but instead of celebrating with his teammates, he wanted to celebrate with you. He had taken you to the local arcade where you grabbed some pizza and battled each other in various games. Neither of you could one-up the other, though.
He’d win at a shooting game, while you’d win at a racing game. It continued to go back and forth until you finally agreed to play DDR – the winner of that would be the winner of the night, but you had somehow managed to tie with the exact same score. You still remember how the owner had been impressed, saying he hadn’t seen two people so in sync in his fifty years of running the arcade.
You remember wanting to confess that day, but before you could work up the nerve, he got a call from the softball captain to congratulate him on his win. Seeing his face light up as he talked to her made your heart ache painfully and you ended up running away. He was too wrapped up in his conversation to even notice.
That was the last day you saw him.
You chuckled, but it contained no humor. “Maybe if I hadn’t been such a coward, things would have been different.” Suddenly feeling pain and anger swirling up like a volcano, you crumbled up the photo and threw it across the room. With a scream, you toppled over the dresser, throwing the lamp against the wall. You grabbed all of your clothes, throwing them out of the closet. You were so fucking angry, so fucking fed up with your life.
The next day, you packed the things most important to you into a single bag. You had called your mother and asked if it was alright if you came home, and she wired you enough money for the trip. You paused in the doorway of your bedroom, looking around at the mess you had made. Everything was broken, the floor covered in clothes and various broken objects. The crumpled up picture caught your eye and you hesitated.
You slowly picked it up, pulling a lighter out of your pocket. Uncrumpling it, you set the corner of the photo on fire. You stared at Johnny’s face until the flame started to lick at your fingers. With a shake of your head, you threw the flaming picture onto the ground before turning you back to the apartment.
The train ride to your mother’s house was two hours long, and you felt completely exhausted by the time your feet reached the porch. It had been years since you last saw your mother, four to be exact.
Soon after moving away from Chicago, your father had been gunned down at work when he tried to protect a child during a robbery. He died before the paramedics could arrive. It tore your family apart.
Your mother had resorted to drinking to cope, and in doing so had turned cruel to you and your brother. She never hit you, but she would assault you with insult after insult. When she said it was your fault that he died, you had run away from home and never contacted her again. You had agreed with her, believing that you had indirectly lead your father to his death.
Your brother wanted to become a doctor at the time, but schooling was expensive. Being fresh out of high school and very much heartbroken, you had no interest getting a job to help fund him and your parents understood that, but because you weren’t helping with income, your father had to take a part-time job as a security guard. If you had gotten a job to help out, your father never would have taken that job and wouldn’t have died.
Standing on the porch, your hand was raised just inches from the door, but you couldn’t bring yourself to knock. Your hand was shaking and tears were already beginning to pour down your cheeks.
The door swung open to reveal your mother carrying a bag of trash. She froze when she saw you standing there.
She dropped the bag and rushed forward, pulling you into her arms. You both started to sob, sliding down to the ground. All of the pent-up emotions and regrets between the two of you had come to the surface.
Her grip tightened as she pressed a kiss to the side of your head, “Welcome home, Y/N.”
Footsteps came rushing towards you as your younger brother stopped in the doorway. He had heard the commotion and came running to make sure everything was okay. “Sis?” He didn’t hesitate to join the two of you, his arms wrapping around both of you. Being the man of the house, he refused to let himself cry, wanting to be strong for the both of you.
A cold burst of air whipped around you and your brother encouraged you both to come inside, to which you agreed. Your mother rushed to grab some iced tea while your brother took your bag from you. As you slid your coat off, his eyes widened at the blood-soaked bandage wrapped around your arm.
“What happened?” He demanded, gently grasping your arm.
You tried to speak, but the words just wouldn’t come out. Your eyes met your mother’s when she re-entered the living room, nearly dropping the glasses when her eyes saw your arm. You broke down again and explained to them everything that had happened. You didn’t hold back a single detail.
Your feelings for Johnny, your guilt over your dad, the shitty apartment, and the weed-smoking co-worker, your night of partying and the ensuing abusive druggie that clung to you like a fucking tick. You told them everything. In return, your mother told you of her struggles in rehab and her attempts to find you, and your brother successfully graduating at the top of his class. He was on the track to fulfilling his dream.
“Y/N… I know you can’t forgive me for what I said, and I can’t ask you to, but you need to know,” your mother’s voice was shaky as her hand clutched yours. Your eyes met hers and you could see the pain and sincerity there. “You had nothing to do with your father’s death. It wasn’t your fault.”
You nodded, trying to hold back the tears. Hearing those words, it felt like a giant weight had been lifted off of you. “I’m sorry for running away when you needed me the most.”
She shook her head, “You have nothing to apologize for, love. I’m your mother, I should have been there for you, but I wasn’t. I can never take that back, but I hope we can start again.”
You nodded again and she pulled you into her arms. It was warm and comforting.
It felt like home.
You sat outside on the porch, watching the rain as it sprinkled the Earth. You had been living back at home for a few months now and had gotten a job with an old friend of your mother’s at the local bakery. It was hard work, but it was still better than the coffee shop. The manager was kind and understanding, taking time to teach you everything you needed to know about the bakery and the machinery. You worked a shift with one co-worker, a teenage girl that hadn’t yet broken out of her shell. She was shy and reserved at first, but once you had spent some time with you, you found her to be a very kind and caring person. She loved to help others and make them smile.
She reminded you a lot of how Johnny had been when he was a child, but it didn’t hurt like you had expected it to – seeing the similarities made you smile.
You still loved Johnny with all of your heart and soul, but you knew you had to move on. For yourself, you had to move on and live your life. You did deserve to be happy, but you had to put in a bit of effort to make that happen. You had to help your heart heal, but you weren’t doing it alone. You had your family back and the three of you were stronger than ever before.
Still, when you had time away from the hectic bakery and helping your mother stay on top of her job at the post office, you found yourself thinking about him again. You wondered where he was at that moment, what he was doing. Was he happy? If you met him on the street, would he remember you? Would he still be your best friend, acting as if time had never separated you?
You didn’t know.
Your mother had explained everything to your new boss since they were old friends, and she could relate. She, too, had lost the love of her life because she was too afraid to go after what she wanted. Even today, it still crosses her mind – how different would her life be if she had confessed?
“But you know, Y/N,” she had started, patting your hand with her own as she offered you a sad smile. “Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. I still hold on to the hope that we will one day meet and start over, even in my old age. That hope will be in the back of my mind until the day I die.”
“How do you cope?” You had whispered.
The woman smiled as he eyes watched a bird bathing in the gentle rain shower. “It’s not easy. I believe to this day that he was my true love, but maybe I wasn’t his. If it’s meant to be, truly, we will find each other again one day. You must remember that, but you also mustn’t let it stop you from living. Go out and experience life, child. Fall in love, start a family and regret nothing. If it’s meant to be, you’ll find one another, even if it’s later in life, but you shouldn’t throw away your life waiting on a chance.”
Her words had resonated within you and you knew she was right. As much as you wanted to be with Johnny, as much as you loved him, you couldn’t just stop living and wait for him when he might never show up.
Your eyes looked at the gray sky, the clouds parting to allow sunlight to shine through. A rainbow had formed on the horizon, acting as a beacon of hope for those who were suffering. You stood up and walked to the edge of the porch, your eyes scanning the length of it.
And you smiled.
A genuine, happy smile.
All the weight you had been carrying for so damn long was finally starting to be lifted. You knew that you still had a long way to go, but you were making progress. You were taking the small steps toward a brighter, happier future. And that’s all that mattered.
“Wherever you are, Johnny Seo, I hope you are happy and healthy. I hope we can meet again one day, but if our paths never cross, thank you for lighting up my life. I love you…”
The wind picked up, knocking the petals off the cherry blossom tree your father had planted before his death. You smiled at it, feeling as if your father was there with you, watching over his family even in death. Your eyes watered, but you wiped them away, feeling happier than you had in years.
Life was getting better, one step at a time.
Johnny stepped out of the car, his gaze looking up at the sky. It had been raining just minutes before, but the clouds had opened up, allowing the morning sun to shine through.
“Hyung, look, a rainbow!” Haechan pointed off in the distance.
It was hard to see as it curved around a tall building, but he could faintly make out the hues of color. When his eyes scanned it, he suddenly felt a wave of nostalgia rush over him. He couldn’t explain it, but he felt… hopeful.
“Hurry inside before it starts to rain again,” Taeyong told them and the members of NCT did as they were told.
As the boys crowded around backstage, waiting for the MC to call them up, Johnny reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled and worn photograph. You were smiling brightly in the picture as you talked to a classmate, unaware that Johnny was taking your picture at the time. It was his absolute favorite picture of you and whenever he felt nervous or tired, he would always look at it to give himself a boost of confidence.
“Everyone, please welcome NCT 127!”
The group jogged onto the stage, greeting the crowd of screaming fans. Johnny found himself vaguely wondering if you were among that crowd, but the chance of that was very unlikely.
Johnny smiled as he introduced himself to the crowd, but his mind was still on you, ‘One day I’ll find you again. Wait for me, Y/N.’