for intae, life before donglim was more like a series of sepia photos than actual memories. he can see his family and his friends, he can see the groups of fans from his spot on stage, he can see the beeping and blinking machines, the blackness. but everything is still, the color and energy drained out as if he was much older than he actually was and was simply forgetting.
he worried that was the case at first. he visited every doctor he could find, but they all said he was fine, and he was inclined to believe them. once, when he came back to the dorm after another appointment, donglim had bounded up to the door like a puppy, excitedly telling him about something that david had done while he was gone. he followed the young boy to their studio, where david was sitting behind the computer. donglim had demanded he played something and when david did, intae heard a beat pump out through the speakers.
intae didn't know much about music composition, but it sounded cool to him, and when he looked at donglim the boy was glowing and making up dances to the music. the boy turned to intae, beaming as if to say 'cool, right?' and in that moment, everything was blindingly bright and colorful.
it didn't take long to realize that donglim was the change—that the entrance of the young, excitable boy into intae's life was the beginning of when his memories split into sepia and full color. donglim was more of a stream of energy than an actual person, flowing through his life and adding meaning and joy to places where there seemed to be only blackness.
donglim was more than a fellow member and a friend, he was intae's lost youth personified into an all too small and delicate package bursting at the seams with child-like curiosity. he had longed for that feeling for years, and even after he found it in donglim, he still reached out in a feeble attempt to acquire and covet it to himself. but the boy—the feeling—was always just out of reach, slipping through his fingers like sand.
but as quickly as he learned he would never achieve what donglim had, intae also learned that his own personality had been what donglim himself was looking for. the boy had longed for authority, for the type of leadership and control that most people his age rebelled against. but donglim embraced it, genuinely enjoying being obedient. the other members had questioned it at first—throwing words around that intae almost didn't want to let donglim hear—but they quickly realized the truth when it came time to move into their new dorm and decorate, donglim putting up family photos with a distinct lack of any adult male figure in them.
things suddenly clicked into place, for not only intae and donglim themselves but the other members, and smoothed themselves into a state of normalcy once again. intae and donglim would play, would spend all their time together, would even visit each other's families—and the other boys would try to ignore if they lingered a little too long, stared a little too hard, held on a little too tight.