I still remember.
That late autumn afternoon in October.
55 years ago.
Ilhoon was in a hurry, impatiently biting his lip and playing with the button of his suit jacket. He was on the bus, stuck in traffic. His company had a meeting every Wednesday and now he was being late.
When he finally arrived at the bus stop he usually got off he started running. His company was three minutes away if he runs. Before he could reach the company, someone stopped him.
“Can you help me?” A tall man asked.
Ilhoon stopped and turned toward the man. “I’m sorry but I’m already late.”
“Please, just a moment.” The man pleaded.
Ilhoon sighed and nodded. The meeting was almost over, even if he would run he couldn’t get there in time.
“Have you seen him? He’s my friend.” He showed a photo to Ilhoon. “His name is Lee Minhyuk.”
“I’m sorry, I’ve never seen him.” Ilhoon adjusted his tie. “I’m sorry, I really have to go.”
“Ah, okay, thank you.” The other man waved at him as he left.
When he finished his shift and headed toward the bus stop, he noticed the man from this morning. He was still there, sitting on a bench, looking at the photo. He looked sad.
The man was there again on the next day as well. He asked everyone who looked at him even just for a second. He looked desperate, his eyes were red. He probably couldn’t sleep too much at night.
Ilhoon turned away and went to work. His day at the company went slowly. By the time he finished his shift, he forgot about the man with the photo. He said goodbye to his coworkers and went out yawning. The cool breeze felt good. He was tired and needed a bath so bad. And sleep. Like, a lot of sleep. Twelve hours. Minimum.
While heading toward the bus stop, he suddenly remembered that man and looked at the direction of the bench. He was still there. Ilhoon felt pity for him. His coworkers told him that the man, for some reason, didn’t go to the police and tried to find his friend alone. Which was very suspicious. But looking at him, sitting alone on the bench, Ilhoon just found it sad.
He sighed. “I’m an idiot,” he whispered to himself and turned back. There was a smaller store near them. He went in and returned with coffee in his hand. He walked to the man and reached out his hand with the coffee in it. “Here.”
The other man looked up. “Thank you,” he said with a small bow.
“Still no news?” Ilhoon asked and sat down. The man shook his head. “You should go to the police.”
“It’s not that easy,” the man swallowed.
“Why? Is he a criminal?” Ilhoon whispered. Then he realized it. This man could easily be a criminal. “Are you a criminal?” He was about to run away.
“What? No!” He put away the photo. “But you wouldn’t believe me if I’d tell you.”
“If you say so,” Ilhoon frowned.
“I have to find him before Christmas.” The man said, leaning forward, rubbing his hands on his thighs.
“So you have like two months,” Ilhoon said, thinking. “It must be enough, not?”
The man nodded. “I hope.”
They talked a little. Ilhoon learned the man’s name (Yook Sungjae) and age (24) but when Ilhoon asked when his friend went missing, he couldn’t answer. He didn’t answer anything related to Minhyuk’s disappearance.
The next day it rained. As Ilhoon walked past the place he met Sungjae, he noticed that the tall man had no umbrella. Ilhoon stared at him. Sungjae hadn’t given up yet and tried to ask as many people as possible.
Ilhoon sighed. Idiot, he thought and went to him.
“Here, you can have it,” he offered.
“Ilhoon hyung,” Sungjae’s face lit up and took the offered umbrella. “Thank you,” he said, looking at his feet.
“I have to go now,” he nodded toward the company.
The rain stopped in the afternoon while Ilhoon was still working. When he reached the bench, Sungjae welcomed him with a bright smile.
“I owe you something,” he said, giving back the umbrella. “Do you want to drink a coffee?”
“I don’t accept a no,” Sungjae grinned.
“Okay,” he sighed.
Sungjae stood up and clapped his hand. “Take my hand!”
“Why would I?”
“Ah, yeah, right,” he pulled his hand back. “By the way, thank you so much for helping me.”
“To be honest, I felt pity for you,” Ilhoon said, walking next to Sungjae. “When we first met, I was annoyed. I was being late, the traffic was horrible that morning, and you just stopped me and asked for my help.” Sungjae giggled at this. “But when I wanted to go home, you were just sitting there and you looked so lonely.”
Sungjae scratched the back of his head. “Pathetic,” he said, looking away.
“That’s not true. If my friend would go missing, I’d probably be the same.” Ilhoon turned his head toward Sungjae. “Can you tell me about him?”
Sungjae frowned and looked at Ilhoon. He was still looking at him, eyes curious. Sungjae had to look away, blushing.
“What do you want to know about him?”
“How old is he? When did he go missing? What clothes was he wearing?” Ilhoon looked at the man. He knew Sungjae wouldn’t answer. But how could he help him if he didn’t know anything about Minhyuk? “You know what? I don’t want to know. I don’t force you to tell me.”
“Where do you live?” Ilhoon asked, sitting down next to Sungjae. He spent a few hours almost every day after work with Sungjae.
“I-” Sungjae glanced up with narrowed eyes and lips pressed firmly together. “In a hotel.”
“So you aren’t from here, huh?”
“I’m from here,” Sungjae said but went silent immediately, his face pale. “I don’t live here now.”
“Just say you can’t tell me,” Ilhoon sighed. “You don’t need to lie.”
“I-” Sungjae looked away and nodded. “Sorry,” he started, “the hotel part is true, I’ve been living there for the past two weeks. The other part is difficult.”
“And your friend? Where does he live?”
“It’s the same for him,” Sungjae answered.
“He lives in a hotel and the other part is difficult?” Ilhoon asked. “Should I help you and ask around? You could give me his photo and I could also ask some people.”
“No, that would be-” Sungjae flushed. “I can’t ask you to do this. You already did so much for me and I’m a complete stranger, I can’t even tell you everything and you’re still-”
Ilhoon put a finger on Sungjae’s lip. “I want to help you.”
Sungjae blushed. He felt weird. Ilhoon was so kind to him and he didn’t think he deserved it. He couldn’t tell everything to Ilhoon because even if he wanted to, Ilhoon probably wouldn’t believe him. “Someone saw him a few days ago,” Sungjae said, looking at the sky.
“That’s good,” Ilhoon hummed. “And if you find him, do you plan to go home immediately? Or to the place you live? Which isn’t the hotel, I think.”
“It isn’t.” Sungjae chuckled. “It’s been so long since my friend or I was home. I miss it,” he said, swallowing. “To be honest, I went home twice but it was too hard, I don’t think I could go back again before I find him.”
“I’m free on Sunday. I can help look for him,” Ilhoon offered and crossed his legs.
“Thank you.” Sungjae’s eyes shined.
They met at their usual place on Sunday, and after exchanging phone numbers, they went in two different directions. They just walked around, asking everyone if they saw Minhyuk. Sungjae sometimes texted Ilhoon if he got bored or frustrated.
“No one saw him,” Sungjae said, sighing. They decided they’d take a break after three hours.
“Two people told me they saw him. One of them a few weeks ago, the other one last week.” Ilhoon gave him back the photo. He was so excited and couldn’t wait to tell Sungjae.
“Last week?” Sungjae exclaimed. “He must be here somewhere.” He looked so happy and relieved. Someone saw him last week so that meant he was still alive. Or at least Ilhoon thought it was a good thing since he didn’t know why he went missing. “Are you free for a lunch the next week?”
Ilhoon bit his lip. “Tuesday?”
In the next few days, they spent plenty of time together. Since Ilhoon was working and Sungjae was looking for his friend near the company, they met every morning and Sungjae waited for Ilhoon to finish his work every afternoon and walked him to the bus stop. They talked about family, friends, childhood. Sungjae was open this time and to Ilhoon’s surprise, he shared many things about his own life. But still, he didn’t open up too much, especially if it came to Minhyuk and how he went missing.
Sometimes Sungjae accompanied him when he went shopping after work. To Ilhoon’s suggestion, they not only asked around the company but everywhere they went. Sungjae told him where they used to go together so they went to those places too. An older woman recognized him but it had been months since the last time she met him. Apparently, Minhyuk went to her shop many times and asked if he saw his friend. She even recognized Sungjae because the friend Minhyuk was looking for was him.
“He wants to find me,” he said, staring at his feet. They were in a park near the shop. “I can’t believe we’ve been trying to find each other for months but we just can’t.”
“Why don’t you try and call him?” Ilhoon asked.
“I don’t have my phone with me. I mean, that one I used when we were still together.”
“What do we want to cook?” Sungjae asked as they entered the grocery shop. Ilhoon invited him over and planned to cook something for dinner together.
“No idea,” he replied. “We can find out here,” he laughed and rubbed his shoulder.
There was a thought that wouldn't leave Sungjae alone. Two days ago, when he was at Ilhoon’s place, one of Ilhoon’s friends surprised them with a quick visit. He tried to call Ilhoon but the other man didn’t notice it so he came over. Their friend had his birthday in a few days and Eunkwang, the friend who came over, wanted to know how the preparations were going.
Ilhoon was in the shower when he arrived so Sungjae had to let him in. They sat in the kitchen, awkwardness filling the air.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know Ilhoon had his boyfriend over,” the man said, avoiding Sungjae’s eyes. “To be honest, I didn’t even know he had a new boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend?” Sungjae asked, narrowing his eyes. Was Ilhoon gay?
“Yes. Wait, are you not his boyfriend?” Eunkwang glanced at Sungjae.
“No, we’re just friends,” he replied.
He wanted to ask Ilhoon if he liked men because Sungjae did, and he might like Ilhoon as well. Maybe their feelings were mutual. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to know or if he wanted to know at all. He knew it would just make everything more difficult and saying farewell would hurt more.
“What would you do if you could travel in time?” They had already arrived home (Sungjae sometimes called Ilhoon’s house home, at first it was unintentional but now he liked how it sounded). They cooked dinner together and were now sitting at the table, facing each other.
“You mean if I would be a time traveler?” Sungjae nodded, playing with his food. “I don’t know. I think I’d be too scared to actually use it.”
Sungjae hummed and put down his chopsticks. “Yes, maybe not use it at all would be the best.” The look on his face was sad and distant. Ilhoon knew this expression well. He put down his chopsticks and stood up.
“Let’s watch a movie, okay?” Ilhoon grabbed Sungjae’s hand and pulled him up. “I know you can’t tell me everything and I understand it. It’s pretty scary and I can’t stop thinking of you pulling a knife out of your jacket and kill me to steal my money but you seem nice and I feel sorry for you,” Ilhoon led him into his bedroom.
“I don’t want to kill you,” Sungjae said, laughing. “You’re the only person who helps me.”
“Ah, I see. You’ll kill me when you found your friend and you don’t need me anymore.” Ilhoon pushed Sungjae down so the other man sat on his bed. He brought his laptop with him, laid down next to Sungjae and placed the laptop between them.
“You’re ridiculous sometimes, I hope you know,” Sungjae leaned against the headboard.
Ilhoon shrugged. “But you still enjoy my company.”
“Just as you enjoy mine,” Sungjae said and opened his mouth but closed it without saying anything.
Sungjae chose the movie. It was a historical movie with a little too much romance in it. Sungjae cringed every time the two lovers were on the screen and he really wanted to ask Ilhoon if what his friend told him was true or not. While the protagonist was kissing with the love of his life on the screen, Sungjae glanced at Ilhoon. The other man seemed he was into it. His lips slightly parted, eyes focused on the screen, cheeks pink. Cute.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” he asked.
Ilhoon turned his head toward Sungjae, looking into his eyes then his own wandered lower. It was a quick movement but Sungjae noticed it how the shorter boy looked at his lips before looking back into his eyes again. He licked his lips.
“I don’t,” Ilhoon answered, maintaining eye contact. “What about you?”
“I’m not interested in girls,” Sungjae said, waiting for Ilhoon’s reaction. “I’m gay.”
Ilhoon raised his eyebrows, his lips shaped an o form. “Really?” Sungjae nodded. Then suddenly Ilhoon’s mouth dropped. “Is this the reason? The reason you can’t talk about what happened to your friend and who you really are?” Sungjae gulped. “Look, it’s okay. I like men.”
Now it was Sungjae whose eyes widened. “Really?”
“Yes, so it’s okay.”
Sungjae smiled sadly. “You’re too good to me.” He laid his head on Ilhoon’s shoulder. “I wish we had more time. I’d definitely try to see if I have a chance with you.” He glanced up and saw Ilhoon’s warm smile.
Ilhoon stroke his cheek and kissed him. “I know you’re busy with finding your friend but I was wondering if you’d like to go on a date after we found him.”
Sungjae pulled back. “I have to tell you something,” he said, looking away. He had to tell him before things get more difficult. He hated lying to Ilhoon, to the only person who was kind and helped him.
“He isn’t your friend, right? He’s your boyfriend or husband or I don’t know and he cheated on you or left you so now you want to find him and get back together with him,” Ilhoon let out a bitter laugh. “I’m an idiot. Sorry, I misinterpreted this whole situation.”
“No, he’s my friend,” Sungjae jerked his head back. “I’m a time traveler.”
Ilhoon frowned. “And do you think I’ll believe this bullshit?”
“I’m not lying, hyung. I- We traveled back to 2018 but something went wrong and I found myself in 2074 again,” he gulped. “He isn’t a time traveler, he didn’t have the ability to travel back and I shouldn’t have done it. Time traveling with him, I mean. My parents warned me when I found out about my ability. I don’t know why I am able to do this. My parents only told me that there were a few people in our family who could time travel. But some of them got lost in time.” He leaned back. “They got stuck in another year and never returned.”
“But why did you do it if you knew this happened before?” Ilhoon asked. He didn’t have any bad intention with it, he was just curious.
“It wasn’t the first time we did it. We thought it’d be fun if we’d go back even further, before that we were afraid to go back too many years so we traveled back a few weeks or months, not more,” he explained. “Oh, but once we traveled back 2 years. But that was the maximum.” He stroked his chin. “I don’t know what went wrong this time. Maybe there is a limit of how many years you can go back or if you don’t have the ability, you can’t go back more than x years.”
Ilhoon took Sungjae’s hand in his. “I help you and you can go back with your friend, okay?”
“I have less than a month,” Sungjae said, lying on Ilhoon’s bed. Three days passed since he told Ilhoon the truth. “I don’t know what I will do if I don’t find him.”
“How do you know you have to find him before Christmas? What will happen if you can’t find him?” Ilhoon asked. He was sitting at the edge of the bed.
“He’ll be stuck in here. He won’t be able to return.” He turned toward Ilhoon. “I can’t leave him here. Do you know how many things would change?”
Ilhoon gulped. He hadn’t thought about the consequences until now. Sungjae being in the past, him talking to people who he shouldn’t have known changes everything in the future. Even his own future changed already.
He pouted. “I’m glad I met you. Even if this changes my future.”
Sungjae looked up. “Me too. I’m glad I met you.” He tapped his fingers on the bed. “I can’t believe we lived in my time without knowing each other. Who knows, maybe we already met.”
“If I’m still alive,” Ilhoon whispered, staring at his feet. “And even if I’m still alive, I’m already 80.”
Sungjae sat up. “Hyung, I-” He paused. He watched as Ilhoon stood up and walked to the door.
“I’ll be back in a minute. I just-” He didn’t look at Sungjae. “I order something to eat.”
Sungjae couldn’t say anything. They didn’t talk about their feelings after Sungjae told him he was a time traveler and had to go back before Christmas. Still, they couldn’t avoid it anymore. When Ilhoon kissed him, he was so happy but scared at the same time. He and Minhyuk promised when they started traveling in time that neither he nor Minhyuk would fall in love or start a relationship with people from the past or future. However, Sungjae couldn’t help but fall for Ilhoon. He was kind, intelligent, funny. Everything Sungjae wanted and needed. He’d never dated anyone in his 24 years, probably because he was still closeted, but even if he could have, he hadn’t found that someone yet.
Funny, isn’t it? He found that someone in the past. When he’ll go back, even if Ilhoon is still alive, they can’t be together. He thought of future Ilhoon. Where is he? Does he still remember? How did he change his future? Maybe 2074 Ilhoon is worried right now because he remembers that at this time Sungjae was in the past. Maybe he’s afraid Sungjae'dchange the past so neither of them has to suffer from being separated by time itself.
He went after Ilhoon. The other boy was sitting at the table in the kitchen, playing with a tissue.
“Ilhoonie hyung,” Sungjae placed his hands on Ilhoon’s shoulders. “Hyung, I’ll find you in the future.”
Ilhoon let out a bitter laugh. “Thanks, Sungjae.” He took a deep breath. “But it won’t really be the same.”
“I know,” Sungjae said, leaning down to kiss him. “I don’t want to waste time with worrying what will happen in the future when I can just spend it with you.” He pulled Ilhoon up and led him into the bedroom.
What was about to happen wasn’t supposed to happen. That would mess up everything and change the future too much. At that moment, however, they couldn’t care less about the future. They didn’t have too much time together. Sungjae told Ilhoon before that even if he couldn’t find Minhyuk, he’d go back. Ilhoon would lose him anyway.
But how did this all happen? They just met a few weeks ago. Then how? Every moment they spent together was enjoyable. And they spent together a lot. Meeting almost every morning, having small talks, then Sungjae waiting for Ilhoon, walking together, having deeper conversations, going grocery shopping together, cooking together, drinking coffee together almost every day, Sungjae spending the night at Ilhoon’s place, watching movies together, spending days with searching for Minhyuk, going to places Ilhoon never went before to ask around. These things just brought them closer to each other. Sungjae was thankful to Ilhoon for helping him despite him not telling everything. And Ilhoon... For Ilhoon Sungjae was someone who gave color to his dull life. He was only 25 but his life was monotone. With Sungjae, he could really enjoy life better.
Ilhoon pushed Sungjae gently back so now Sungjae was lying on his back on Ilhoon’s bed with him on top.
“Fuck, I love you,” Ilhoon bit Sungjae’s lower lip while the other unzipped his pants.
“I love you, too,” Sungjae said it out loud with confidence which surprised Ilhoon. He thought Sungjae would be unsure about their relationship.
Ilhoon tried not to think of their farewell which was already close. He just wanted to live in the moment.
“It’s my first time,” Sungjae said suddenly, cheeks getting redder. “Please, don’t laugh at me!”
“Laugh?” Ilhoon tilted his head. “Why would I?”
“Because I’m 24 and still a virgin?”
“And?” Ilhoon leaned down and kissed him. “There is nothing wrong with being a virgin at the age of 23. Hell, there is nothing wrong with it, even after that, no matter how old you are.”
Sungjae looked away. “I’ve never had a boyfriend.”
“And?” Ilhoon chuckled. “Still, there is nothing wrong with it.” A soft kiss. “And I could be your first boyfriend.”
Sungjae pulled him in another kiss. “I fucking love you, Jung Ilhoon.”
“Are we sure we want to do this now?” Ilhoon asked. “We can wait. Like, we just agreed to date. And I’m already half-naked.”
“I want to do everything until we still have time,” Sungjae sighed and kissed Ilhoon’s cheeks. “I’ll go back soon, I don’t want to waste more time.” Ilhoon smiled and squeezed Sungjae’s thigh. The other boy groaned and opened his legs wider. “Can you-” he blushed even at the thought. “Can you fuck me? I want to feel you.”
“Ah, yes,” Ilhoon nodded. “If that’s what you want.” He traced Sungjae’s abs under his hoodie with his fingers.
Sungjae undressed Ilhoon as fast as he can and so did Ilhoon to Sungjae.
A week had passed and they still couldn’t find Minhyuk. Sometimes Ilhoon suggested they should go and look for him but Sungjae always found an excuse so, in the end, they didn't go. Deep down, Ilhoon knew this would happen if they start dating.
“You’re not even trying to find him,” Ilhoon said one day. They were watching tv on Ilhoon’s couch. “You’re so close to him but I don’t feel the desire to return home that I felt when we first met.”
“And is it that bad? Is it that bad that I want to be with you?” Sungjae said, clicking his tongue.
“Sungjae, this is not how it works.” Ilhoon rubbed his cheeks. “You have to go back. You belong there. Just like I belong here.” He threw an arm around his boyfriend. “I’m gonna miss you so much but this is the right thing. I stay here and you go home.”
“I won’t be able to travel back anymore,” Sungjae said, holding his breath back. “I- I’m scared of using my ability again. Because what if I screw something up. What if I go to the wrong year and stuck there?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Ilhoon kissed the taller boy’s neck. “Just find me in the future, and if I, for some reason, forgot you, remind me. Please remind me of the time I spent with you.”
The next few days were busy for Ilhoon. There was a team project and they had to finish it in four days which meant Ilhoon spent most of his time at the company. He felt sorry because he couldn’t help Sungjae who started looking for his friend again. Sungjae realized that no matter how much he loved Ilhoon, he had to return to the future.
It happened on the project’s day what Ilhoon feared the most. He just got home, he was tired and wanted a long hug from his boyfriend. But the man he found there wasn’t Sungjae.
“Hi,” the stranger said. “Lee Minhyuk.”
“Jung Ilhoon.” This was the end. Sungjae found him.
“Oh, so you’re Ilhoon!” Minhyuk exclaimed. “Sungjae told about you. He told me you were the one who helped him.”
“I’m glad he could find you,” Ilhoon said, but deep down he knew he wasn’t honest.
“He wants to stay,” Minhyuk said, sipping his coffee. “He told me this.”
“What?” Ilhoon’s heart sank.
“He even thought about coming back after he took me home,” Minhyuk said, examining Ilhoon. “He loves you.”
“Where is he now?” Ilhoon asked, looking around. He remembered seeing his shoes when he came in. “I need to talk to him.”
“He went to take a shower,” Minhyuk said.
Ilhoon literally ran into the bathroom. The lock wasn't working so he could open the door. Sungjae was standing in front of the mirror, a towel wrapped around his hips, drying his hair with another one. When the door opened and he noticed Ilhoon, he turned back, a wide smile on his face.
“I love you,” Ilhoon said, walking closer.
“I love you too.” Sungjae raised an eyebrow.
“Please, don’t think about coming back or not leaving.” Sungjae pulled him into a hug. “Just go home, Sungjae.” Sungjae pressed his lips to Ilhoon’s. Ilhoon gripped Sungjae’s upper arm and kissed back. “Live your life to the fullest.”
“I don’t want to leave you here,” Sungjae said and kissed Ilhoon one more time. “Come with me.”
For a second, Ilhoon actually considered accepting the offer. But he realized his whole life links him to this year. He couldn’t throw everything away this easily.
“I can’t,” he whispered. “I wish I could but-”
Sungjae kissed him again. It was sudden, more like teeth clashing than kissing. Sungjae did it because he didn’t want to hear more and Ilhoon knew this.
“We have three days.” He pulled back. "And it'll be a whole year since Minhyuk got stuck here.”
“Don’t wait,” Ilhoon said, stroking his boyfriend’s cheeks. “Don’t risk it!”
Sungjae nodded. “Can we… Can we go on a date tomorrow? Minhyuk and I are leaving at night.”
“Yes.” Ilhoon smiled. It was weak. “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know. Let’s eat somewhere or go to the cinema!” Although his voice sounded excited, his expression remained the same - sad. “And tonight… I don’t want to have sex tonight. Even if this would be our last chance. I just want to lie down with you and sleep. I want to feel your warmth for the last time.”
The night was painful. They didn’t say it out loud but both of them felt. After dinner with Minhyuk, Ilhoon gave him a blanket and the older man fell asleep on the couch. Ilhoon and Sungjae went into Ilhoon’s bedroom.
They did what Sungjae wanted. They just laid there, Sungjae being in Ilhoon’s arms. He wanted to feel safe. And Ilhoon made him feel it. He always did.
He felt like his life was a mess after meeting Ilhoon. He wanted to stay but he knew he had to go back. He wanted to take Ilhoon with him but he knew Ilhoon belonged to this year. He was confused.
They didn’t talk. It was quiet in the room but it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable. It was cozy and warm and safe. And sad.
They were sad.
The next day they woke up quite early. Ilhoon woke up first, around 7 and after a few minutes, he woke up Sungjae too. They didn’t have too much time before 9. That was when Sungjae and Minhyuk planned to return to where they truly belonged.
“Hi,” Sungjae said, opening his eyes slowly. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too,” Ilhoon said, smiling. “So, where should we go first?”
Sungjae stretched out his legs. “I don't know. Maybe we should eat something. Breakfast?”
“Okay,” Ilhoon nodded. “And what should we do with Minhyuk hyung?”
“I don't know. He's a big boy, he can find something. This day is just yours.” He leaned closer and kissed Ilhoon's neck. “It's ours.”
They first went to eat breakfast. The place where they went was pretty close to Sungjae's hotel. They were there for a few times already when they went to look for Minhyuk. Before they started asking around, they usually met up in front of Sungjae's hotel then had breakfast there.
After breakfast, they decided to just wander around aimlessly. The last time they did this, they wanted to found Minhyuk. Now that they found him, there wasn't any purpose of it. It was cold, the stores and other shops were decorated with different Christmas decorations.
They last hours together.
“Hyung,” Sungjae said after a while. “I want to go to where we first met. I just want to sit on that bench and talk just like how we used to do.”
Sitting on that bench didn’t feel the same. Everything they did on that day just didn’t feel the same.
“I still can’t believe you trusted in me,” Sungjae said, looking up at the sky. “Like, I don’t know, if someone told me they were a time traveler, I would have laughed and never see them again.”
“But you showed me proof,” Ilhoon said. “Maybe not immediately, but a few days after you told me,” he held Sungjae’s hand. “When you told me, I wasn’t sure if I should believe it or not but when you showed me you were really a time traveler, I believed you.”
“You were the best thing that ever happened to me,” Sungjae said, voice weak and distant. “I’m sorry. I fucked everything up. I just made a mess from your life.” He turned to Ilhoon. “But still, I’m glad I met you.”
“I feel the same,” Ilhoon smiled. “I wish things were different.”
Sungjae sighed and turned back. “You can’t even imagine the things you did to me, hyung. Since the very first moment until now. I was probably annoying and you wanted to kill me when I suddenly stopped you. And to be honest with you, I thought that would be the last time we met.” He took a deep breath. It was hard to speak. “The next day you gave me coffee.” He chucked. “It made me feel warm. It made me feel like someone cared about me. I’ve been here for a while now, I tried not to get close to anyone because…” He looked at their hands. “Because I knew this would happen if I get too close to people. Then you gave me your umbrella and I don’t know how to describe it but I think all of these things made me like you more and more. I enjoyed spending time with you. It loved every moment of it.”
“I loved it too.” Ilhoon said, staring at the ground. “When I first met you, I just felt sorry for you. I even thought that you went crazy and your friend wasn’t even real or had been found already you just couldn't accept the truth. But when I started spending time with you, I realized it wasn’t the case. I don’t remember the exact moment I fell for you, maybe there wasn’t even any, it just happened slowly. But I couldn’t do anything about it and I was like, okay a small crush can’t hurt anyone.” He laughed. “But you told me you liked men.”
“I wanted to ask you if you were gay even before I told you. When your friend, Eunkwang hyung came over, he asked me if I was your boyfriend,” It was painful to think back to those times. “I liked you, so when I heard this I thought why not, this is my chance.”
The end was close.
“It’s time to say goodbye, Sungjae,” Ilhoon said, pulling him into a hug. The three of them were in Sungjae’s hotel room.
“Thank you,” Sungjae whispered. “I’m so sorry, hyung.”
“You have to go back,” Ilhoon said, voice gentle and warm. “Your family- No, your whole life is there. Mine is here.” He kissed Sungjae’s neck. “We both knew it won’t work between us. Not until time separates us.”
“Please, don’t forget me! Promise me you won’t forget me!”
“I won’t, Sungjae,” Ilhoon whispered and leaned in to kiss Sungjae. It was bittersweet. “I promise.”
Even after years, my memories of him are still vivid. I might forget many things but not Sungjae and that one month and a half with him. I could never forget it.
“It’s you,” Sungjae said, tears burning his eyes. He was in a retirement home. He couldn't believe his eyes. “Ilhoonie hyung.”
The old man looked at him but didn’t say anything. Sungjae was shaking as he walked closer. He could still see the young Ilhoon in him.
“Sungjae,” he whispered, eyes widening. “Sungjae, I was waiting for you.”
“Do you still remember me?” Sungjae kneeled down in front of the old man.
“I promised you.” He reached to Sungjae’s face and stroked it gently. “I’ll never forget you, Sungjae.”