“Papa, how can I make someone happy?”
The man’s breath hitched, looking over the rearview mirror of his car to see his seven years old daughter cuddling her Shiba Inu pillow tightly in her chest. Her eyes looking down at her pillow with great affection, a soft smile gracing her face and if the man would look closer— he would see the faintest blush on his daughter’s plump cheeks.
He cleared his throat, eyes back on the road as he drove towards his daughter’s school. He wondered if he could give her an answer, he too never had one to that question.
“Papa, do you think jinnie would be happy if we become friends?” The little girl asked once more, eyes now set on her father who was busy driving.
“Yeji, sweetheart. Of course jinnie would be glad to be friends with you. You’re kind and sweet and such a cute little girl.” The man spoke with adoration, a smile plastered in his face as he parked the car after a long travel from home to school.
Looking at the back seat, his smile widened as soon as he saw his daughter’s grinning face.
“You think so, papa?”
“Of course, sweetie. Now why don’t we go on ahead and see if jinnie is already inside, okay?”
With much enthusiasm, yeji bounced on her feet as she waited for her father to check every door of the car before walking towards the gate of her school. It made the man happy that his daughter is having fun and coping up despite the need to move from their previous house. He’s more than relieved to see her having new friends and be happy. It was parents and children’s day and the teacher’s told them to bring their parents so he doesn’t have any choice but to go, not that he doesn’t want to— he would drop everything for his little angel.
“JINNIE! JINNIE!” Yeji's adorable squeals echoed as she ran towards a little boy, maybe around her age or older, as the boy looked at her with a gentle smile.
“Jiji. Good morning.” The boy said before catching a glimpse of the man following the girl. Fixing his posture, the little boy bowed down respectfully as he greeted the man; “Good morning, Mr. Im.”
Jaebeom was taken aback by how a young boy who’s in his 1st year in elementary can act like a mature man, reminding him of a certain person from his past. Shaking the thought away, jaebeom responded.
“Good morning, you must be jinnie then.” He smiled at the young boy who returned the gesture. That smile, he had seen that somewhere.
God, did he really miss him that much to see him in everything?
“Yes, I'm Park Hyunjin but my classmates call me jinnie. Nice to meet you, Mr. Im.”
Jaebeom felt something tugged his heart as he look at hyunjin, he really resembles the man who he regretfully hurt. Not to mention his surname is Park as well, maybe this is fate's way of making him suffer for hurting someone he shouldn’t have.
“Nice to meet you too h-"
“Hyunjin! Oh my god I’m sorry baby, am I late?” Jaebeom froze as soon as he heard the voice coming from his back.
Don’t tell me..
“Dad!” Hyunjin’s smile brimmed as he ran towards his father, urging jaebeom to look back despite knowing all too well whose voice it belongs to.
There he was, smiling at the little boy whilst crouching down on his level— those familiar eye whiskers he missed seeing.
“Jinyoung.” He breathed out unconsciously, catching the attention of the said man as he looked up to see jaebeom staring at him with eyes that mirrored every emotions he has for the younger.
Ten years, ten long years and finally jaebeom found him again. He looked more mature now, his presence gives off a very prim and proper man; nothing of the past jinyoung he wished he valued.
Jinyoung’s smile instantly dropped, his eyes questioning until he saw a little girl hiding behind him. The younger blinked before his eyes returned to his son, his smile back like nothing happened.
“Sweetie, why don’t you go inside the classroom first? I’ll follow soon after, okay?” He told hyunjin softly who nodded before reaching out for yeji's small hand.
“Let’s go inside jiji, Teacher Kim will be checking our attendance soon.” Hyunjin smiled but yeji looked up at her dad with worry. Yeji had never seen her dad so sad before, not even when he and her mother got divorced two years ago.
“Papa…” Yeji whispered, clutching the man’s pants with her free hand. Jaebeom looked at his concerned daughter before patting her head as a sign of comfort.
“Don’t worry sweetheart. Papa will be there in a minute, okay? Please follow jinnie here and go inside the room.” Jaebeom smiled to assure his daughter that he’ll be okay, at least he hope he will.
With a weak nod, the two children entered the bustling room— leaving the two adults outside the hallway in silence. It was awkward than the first time they had to share a bed after being married but seeing jinyoung made jaebeom feel scared. Not because of the things that the younger would upbraid if ever, but because of the probability that jinyoung wouldn’t give him a second chance.
He feared that this time, he’ll lose jinyoung despite his efforts to have him back.
“So her name is yeji. That’s a beautiful name, it fits her.” Jaebeom flinched slightly when jinyoung spoke, breaking the ice as he stood up from his position earlier. Talking to him like this, no one would be able to tell that they were once married and got divorced ten years ago. It felt like they were acquaintances who haven’t seen each other in a while and not as two people who once vowed to be each other’s better halves.
It felt weird but jaebeom was glad that jinyoung wasn’t giving him the cold shoulder he expected.
“Yes, and you as well. Hyunjin resembles you a lot.”
Jinyoung chuckled softly, it was clear in his eyes how much he loves his son— the same look the younger once upon a time gave for him.
“Thank you, yeji resembles you too, especially her eyes. You two had the same sharp yet calming eyes.”
Jaebeom didn’t replied nor moved, for some unknown reasons his heart ached. Maybe it was because he remembers how jinyoung sees every detail he has and appreciates it.
How could he hurt someone like him?
How can he be so stupid and let someone like jinyoung slip out of his hands?
How could he let him go before?
Jaebeom could count all the times he saw the younger smile back when they lived together. He could count it with his fingers, no more than 10— And all of them never had something to do with jaebeom.
“Excuse me, the students will be introducing their parents soon. I assume that both of you are hyunjin and yeji’s parents?” A man interrupted before the two had a chance to talk even further.
“Yes, I’m Hyunjin’s father.” Jinyoung spoke, bowing his head lightly to the teacher who looked at them with confusion.
“Oh I thought you guys were..” The teacher trailed off, chuckling halfheartedly. Jaebeom understood what he was trying to tell, and that made him giddy— although he wouldn’t admit that out loud.
If only he didn’t fucked up before. Then maybe they would be sending their child to school together.
No matter how much jaebeom regret letting him leave, having yeji after is still his biggest pride.
“Excuse me for my words but Hyunjin’s surname is Park while yeji’s surname is Im. I don’t really see how you could mistake them for being siblings.” Jinyoung politely disagree.
He is right, hyunjin is his while yeji is jaebeom’s. How things changed over the course of ten years. Now, it’s not just about them. Now, it’s also about the future of each of their own child. They’re no longer the rebellious young adults before. They no longer have the right to act rash and irrational. Now, they can’t just choose for their own greed and need, they have to mind hyunjin and yeji’s feelings and wellbeing as well.
“I’m sorry, it’s just that they look so much alike and I’m actually a new student teacher here. I just started my training a few days back.” Mr. Kim, they assumed, said with an apologetic smile.
“It’s okay. No harm done.” Jaebeom butted in, earning a side-eye from jinyoung who entered the classroom first.
“I’m really sorry for that.” The teacher apologized again but jaebeom just shook his head and smiled.
Without a word, both of them entered the classroom where at least 20 pairs of children with their respective parents were present. Thankfully, at least for jaebeom, yeji and hyunjin were seated beside each other. Jaebeom sat at the right side of yeji whilst hyunjin was seated on the left— jinyoung seating at the left side of hyunjin so their sitting arrangement from right to left was jaebeom, yeji, hyunjin and lastly jinyoung.
Jaebeom didn’t hear any of what was being said in front, or rather, he chose not to. Instead, he occupied himself with stealing glances at the man seating two chairs away from him. He on the other hand, was focused, so focused as if he was inside a meeting room for a big company project rather than a simple occasion in school.
Was jinyoung this beautiful before? How could he possibly not notice? The way his eyes wrinkled when he laughs at something, or how he smiles gently at the kids that were introducing their parents in front. Jaebeom realized that he once had a diamond but chose to throw it away.
Because he was too hung up with proving that he’s a ‘man’ that he’s supposed to be. That a ‘man’ like him shouldn’t be falling in love with another man. It wasn’t right, at least for him ten years ago. He wanted a ‘normal’ family. A family consisting of him, a wife and their child. Yet that too became nothing but a far-fetched dream.
Jaebeom snapped out of his thought when he felt yeji poking his shoulder, looking at his daughter who was already standing. Realizing it was his daughter’s time to introduce him, he stood up as they went in front. With a formal smile, he looked around until his eyes landed on him again. His eyes seemed to know its way to where his heart longed for.
“Hello! My name is Im Yeji, I’m seven years old and this is my papa. His name is Im Jaebeom and he makes the best songs!” Yeji cheered. Smile reaching her ears as she held her father’s hand. Jaebeom felt pride swell inside him, seeing how proud yeji is to have him as her father.
“My papa cooks the best ramyeon and he also let me help clean the house. He teaches me how to sing and to dance and he also helps me get ready every day before I go to school! He’s the best papa in the whole world!” Jaebeom held his tears in, feeling so damn blessed to have his daughter around. He couldn’t imagine a life without his sweet little miracle. Without her, his life would’ve been damned forever.
After receiving a round of applause, the father and daughter sat back to their seats whilst jinyoung and Hyunjin took their place in front. Unlike jaebeom and yeji’s relaxed and cheery aura, it was clear how the father and son had this professional yet humble demeanor around them. Jaebeom watched as hyunjin started off with a light bow before smiling.
“Good morning everyone, my name is Park Hyunjin, seven years old and this is my father, Park Jinyoung. He is a freelance author and he works at a publishing company as an Executive Editor. My dad also manage to help me with my homework, clean the house and cook for us every day. I thank him for raising me to be a good person like he is on his own. I’m proud to have him as my dad.” Hyunjin told them, looking up at his father who was smiling back at him lovingly.
Jaebeom was taken a back, clearly, he didn’t expect for jinyoung to end up being a single parent like him. He expected jinyoung to live a happy and complete family that he deserves.
It took almost an hour before every single student finished introducing their parents and more or less half an hour to finish the activities. Within that time, jaebeom would either focus on winning prizes for his daughter or attempt to sneak some quick glances at jinyoung to see if he was having fun.
It was an unexplainable feeling, seeing him smile and all. Unlike how he used to be around him. Ten years ago, Jaebeom would always be presented with jinyoung’s sad eyes, with his solemn voice and more often than not, he would hear his cries inside their bathroom. He seemed happier. Happier living a life without him in it even when he has to raise hyunjin alone.
Don’t get him wrong, jaebeom’s happiness includes his daughter. He’s ecstatic when he found out he was going to be a father, still is. And raising her without a partner was never the case for jaebeom. However, deep down in his heart, he knew he wanted more. Call him greedy and selfish but he wanted to have jinyoung back. He wanted him back despite the awful things he have done to the younger before.
He wanted to find that happiness in jinyoung, the happiness he failed to find in his previous wife, nor the happiness he thought he couldn’t have with jinyoung.
But the thing is, jinyoung looks like he already found his own happiness without his help.
“Okay parents, thank you for coming in our parents and children’s day. We hope you had a fun time with your kids.” The teacher spoke as they clapped. With that, the parents were dismissed whilst their kids remained inside the classroom. Jinyoung was about to go after saying his goodbye to Hyunjin when jaebeom called him at the entrance hall.
“Do you have any business with me?” Jinyoung spoke, his tone more formal than jaebeom’s liking.
“I just wanted to know if.. You want to grab a cup of coffee with me?”
Jaebeom waited for his response, although it was clear in his face that jinyoung wanted nothing to do with him.
“I just wanted to talk to you. It’s been a while since we last saw each other.”
“Yes, and I would have preferred it to stay that way.” Jinyoung said, looking away.
Those words hurt more than anything jaebeom had felt. It felt as if he was stabbed in the heart by the person he was longing for in a long time. Although he couldn’t blame jinyoung, he knew why. And he hated how he was the reason in the first place.
“Jinyoung, I know I wasn’t the best person you met. But… I… I changed.”
“So am I, jaebeom-ssi. So do everything around us. We changed. Everything has changed. And I’m intending to keep those changes as it is.” He spoke, hurt evident in the way he talked as he readied to walk away only to be stopped by jaebeom’s hand wrapping around his wrist.
Jinyoung glared at him, a glare jaebeom have never seen before. Yes, they would always bicker and shout at each other on the top of their lungs but jinyoung never showed a glare so sharp that it pierced through his very being. However, jaebeom was set to make things right, at least that’s what he thought he was doing.
“Please jinyoung, just give me a second chance.”
“A second chance? For what? For you to hurt me like you did before? Jaebeom I spent more than a year, A YEAR, trying to cope up with the pain you gave me. And just when I thought I can finally live my life in peace, you suddenly appear and start asking for another fucking chance. Wasn’t it enough, jaebeom? Wasn’t hurting me to the point that I thought I’ll never be able to love again enough? Is hurting me that fun to you?” Jinyoung hissed, eyes already misting whilst he tried to hide the quivering of his lips.
Jaebeom froze, letting go of his hand unconsciously as he watch him leave without any words. He knew fucked up, but he never knew it was this much.
Does jaebeom really deserve not having a second chance?
But that didn’t stopped jaebeom from trying. It was once a mistake to let him walk out of his life before, he’s not going to commit the same mistake twice.
Not now that he finally realize what jinyoung meant when he wished for him to find happiness.
“Why are you asking me where my dad works, Mr. Im?” Hyunjin looked at him with confusion, suspicious of the man’s motives.
“Well you see, your dad and I… we…” How can he even explain it to a 1st grader? How can you tell such an innocent soul that his dad was once married to another man? That he used to be in an abusive marriage to the very person he is talking to right now? How can jaebeom tell hyunjin, a seven years old boy who perhaps have only seen his father as the man he is now and not as the man he was before, all of the fucked up things he told jinyoung before? That might scar him if ever.
“We… were friends. I haven’t talked to him in quite some time now so I wanted to catch up, you know?” Jaebeom smiled, hoping that the young boy wouldn’t ask more questions.
“Did you have a fight with dad?”
The elder's eyes grew wide, hyunjin is too quick witted to be fooled.
“Well… you can say that I.. I did something wrong to your dad. And I wanted to say sorry.”
That is true, he indeed want to ask for forgiveness, no matter how long he has to do it. No matter how hard he has to beg, even if it comes to a point where he needs to be down on bended knees. So be it, just to have jinyoung’s forgiveness.
Jaebeom waited for the young boy to speak, they only have probably around 5 minutes to talk before yeji comes to the parking lot after being one of the classroom cleaners for the day.
He wasn’t expecting the boy to reply, moreover tell him where his father works; he just told him that he hurt his dad after all. It was a surprise for him when hyunjin pulled out a piece of paper from his back pocket and handed it over to jaebeom who was dumbfounded.
“That was supposed to be a calling card for whenever there comes a time I’ll get lost or if I need to call dad for emergency. That’s where he works, that’s his calling card.” Hyunjin said, fixing his backpack before meeting eyes with the still dazed jaebeom.
“I’m only giving you that because you have to apologize. My dad said that if you did something wrong to someone, you should always be the one to apologize before everything gets worse. I hope you say sorry to my dad and that my dad can forgive you, Mr. Im. Good day.” With that, hyunjin rode the school bus and left jaebeom standing at the parking lot whilst holding his answer.
Hyunjin… Jinyoung really raised him well.
“Papa what were you talking about with jinnie?”
Jaebeom spun around to see his little girl, smiling as he removed the dirt from her hair.
“Nothing sweetie, just a little chat.”
“You know papa, jinnie saved me once.” Jaebeom looked at her with wide eyes whilst she just giggled.
“W-what? Did something happen to you?”
“No papa, nothing bad happened to me. Well if jinnie didn’t fought those meanies who told me that papa isn’t really a man then I would be sad now.” He tensed as soon as he heard her words.
“Why would they tell you that?”
“Well, they say you like jinnie’s papa because you kept looking at him.”
How can jaebeom be so careless?
“Don’t worry papa. I don’t think it’s wrong to like someone. I like jinnie because he’s my friend and so I like jinnie’s papa because he is jinnie’s papa!” Yeji’s toothy smile made jaebeom smile involuntarily. Even if yeji is trying to tell him that it’s okay to like jinyoung, he knows that she doesn’t really know the depth of what it truly means for an adult like him. Although he is proud of how his little angel views life in such a pure and innocent manner.
He’ll tell her what it truly means some other time, he has to fix this first without dragging both kids in the process.
True to his words, he found himself face to face with a startled jinyoung one day. It was clear that the younger didn’t expect his presence to be present that day, he had the right to because jaebeom didn’t gave him a heads up.
“What are you doing here?” Jinyoung asked, voice confused and a bit angry.
“Listen to me first jinyoung. I have things to tell you.”
“I told you, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want anything to do with you again, jaebeom.”
“Just listen to me first. Please jinyoung.” Jaebeom pleaded as he followed jinyoung out of the building, catching the attention of people around them— making jinyoung embarrassed beyond words.
“Can you please stop following me?!” He hissed, lowering his face in attempt to hide it as he pick up the pace of his steps. To his displease, jaebeom kept following him until jinyoung reached his limits and stopped dead on his tracks.
“Are you really dumb? Can’t you understand basic words? Do I even have to tell you o-“ jinyoung’s words were cut off when jaebeom pulled him in a hug, surprising him to a point that he stood stiff— his mind completely shutting off.
“Jinyoung please…just this once.. please listen to me.” Jaebeom whispered, tightening his hold around the younger yet still making sure he won’t hurt jinyoung, not anymore.
“Why?” he heard him whisper.
“Why are you doing this to me? Why jaebeom?” Jinyoung’s voice cracked, his whole body started trembling as his eyes watered. After all these years, after all his attempt to hate jaebeom, after all the pain he had given him; how can jinyoung still be weak around him?
How can he still feel the fast beating of his heart whenever he’s around jaebeom?
Why can he still love him?
“I’m sorry, jinyoung. I’m really sorry.” The wall jinyoung worked hard for throughout the years of wanting to be strong for this day, it all crumbled down with just one touch from this man. How can he still be the same jinyoung he was after all the things he had to go through just to forget him?
“You’re so unfair.” Jaebeom heard him cry quietly, feeling the younger grab a fistful of his shirt with shaky hands. His sobs, jaebeom now know how much those sobs hurt to hear. He finally know the value of the tears jinyoung was shedding for him.
“I know. I’m sorry.” The elder replied, pulling jinyoung closer to him which the younger didn’t protest to. They remained that way for a few fleeting moments, thankful that the playground they were wasn’t occupied by any children so it was just the two of them. Jaebeom waited until jinyoung was able to stop his hiccups, pulling back while he wipe the remaining tears from his eyes.
“I apologize for that.” He spoke after finally calming himself, not able to look up at jaebeom who smiled bitterly. Of course jinyoung wouldn’t just forgive him that easily, he knows that all too well.
“You don’t need to apologize for anything jinyoung. In fact, I’m the one who should apologize to you.” Jaebeom whispered, delicately reaching out to hold the younger’s hands. Jinyoung let him, because even if he denies it a million times to the world— he can’t fool himself from thinking that he hates him still. He can’t fool his heart, he could never even if he wanted to.
“I want to make it up to you jinyoung. For every single pain I’ve given you. I want to start again, this time, I want to freely love you. I want you to know that I love you.”
Jinyoung flinched, looking up to see jaebeom’s eyes burning with passion. Yet it scared jinyoung. Jaebeom’s surrounding stopped as he felt his hand slip away from his hold, the feeling of warmth disappearing. He looked at him— questioning, confused, hurt and disappointed.
“We can’t.” Jinyoung muttered under his breath, moving two steps back before smiling at jaebeom who was still looking for answers.
“Because things have changed, jaebeom. We no longer have the right to decide on our own. Hyunjin, yeji. Think of the kids, jaebeom. What would they feel? What would they go through once people around them know that instead of a father and a mother, they have two dads? I don’t want them to be left out just because they don’t have a ‘normal’ family.”
“But jinyoung. Why would we care of what people think? Why should we be bothered of what others has to say? As long as we’re happy, as long as we’re there for them, there’s nothing more important than that.”
“You don’t understand, hyung.” Jaebeom’s eyes widened. Jinyoung have never addressed him hyung before.
“Hyunjin have always been a shy kid, he wouldn’t tell me even if he’s hurt or if people are making fun of him. I wouldn’t have known that he was bullied for having a single parent before if I didn’t visit his school to surprise him. I wouldn’t have known that his classmates were making fun of him for having a ‘gay’ dad. If I never went there, I wouldn’t be able to realize my own son’s burden. I wouldn’t recognize the pain I put him through just because I still love a man I married ten years ago. Jaebeom hyung, I can’t let my son experience the same pain again. I can’t let my son be hurt just because of my own greed. I would always put my child’s happiness before mine. I know you understand that.”
Hyunjin… had to go through all that? A young child who have already experience this harsh and cruel world. And yet.. yet he would still smile, he would still respect people. is that why he protected yeji from those who were trying to bully her? Because he’s been in her shoe before?
Can jaebeom really turn a blind eye on their kids just to be with jinyoung?
“You raised him well.” Jaebeom choked a sob. Guilt washing over him for thinking of his own need to have jinyoung back. For not thinking of hyunjin, for not thinking of his own daughter. No matter how much he loves jinyoung, he couldn’t bring himself to force the younger to be with him— not after hearing what hyunjin have been through at such a young age.
Maybe them meeting wasn’t because fate wanted to bring them back together. Maybe it was to close the door they left behind. To finally let go of what was left to hold on.
Maybe this was fate’s design to give them the happiness they’ve wanted.
Jinyoung smiled, eyes glassy— he have forgotten how many times he had cry today. And perhaps this will be the last cry he will shed for jaebeom. But unlike the rest of the tears before, this one felt comforting in a sense— a sign of moving on, at last.
“Maybe someday, in another life or the life after that, we’ll meet again. And when that happens, we can smile at each other and fall in love again. When that time comes, I hope for us to be happy. A time where we can do the things we can’t in this present life we live. We can love without hesitation, we can truly be together. So if that someday comes, no matter how long it takes, I will wait for the time where I can welcome you home, hyung.” Jinyoung announced, unknown to him are the silent tears that were streaming; the tears of forgiveness, of love that was once lost and now found to be set free. He has finally found his happiness— to be able to free himself from the pain of hiding and his love for jaebeom.
Jaebeom feet started taking steps, his hands cupping jinyoung’s face, his thumbs brushing the tears away, his eyes memorizing each of his features.
“Someday, I’m sure I’ll love you the way you deserve to be loved. I’ll make sure to find you. So please remember this; I may have failed to love you yesterday, but I promise that until the day comes that our paths will cross again, I will, without a fail, love you in each and every Tomorrow, Today will be the start of it. I love you.” Jaebeom whispered, leaning in with his eyes closed. In a chaste moment, their lips met— the bittersweet taste of the first and last real kiss they’ll share in this lifetime.
Perhaps it was for the better that they didn’t end up together in that lifetime. It made everything feel normal, it made life seem easier than it’ll be if they chose to walk the other path. Hyunjin was able to graduate as an interior designer and is now one of the most sought after in his field. He has a wonderful family of 4 and is now living his dream with his family in Las Vegas. Yeji on the other hand, graduated at a prestige music and art school and currently owns a studio where she teaches dance routine. She also has her own little family of three and lives happily in Jeonju, South Korea. Jaebeom chose to stay at Seoul where he and jinyoung first lived together years ago— jaebeom had forgotten how long it has been.
In fact, jaebeom has been forgetting a lot of things lately. One time he looked at a mirror and saw his reflection; his face full of wrinkles and freckles, his hair, white— he could remember squinting so he could really see his face better, his vision was kind of blur and unfocused.
It has been years, jaebeom wouldn’t deny that. He could no longer make music like he used to, but at the very least, he could still hear the songs he used to write when he was much younger than now. He could no longer go for walks without his personal nurse wheeling his wheelchair. However one thing remained certain for him. It was his promise to love a certain man from years ago.
“Grandpa!” A loud yet adorable squeal echoed inside the old man’s room as he slowly turn his wheelchair around, smiling at the sight of his granddaughter who hugged him with glee.
“Papa.” Jaebeom heard another voice, oh how that voice matured over the course of years.
“Yeji dear.” He smiled as yeji planted a soft kiss on his cheek.
“How have you been, papa?”
“I’m fine like always sweetheart. How are you doing? Is this little pumpkin been doing good in her school?” he asked, brushing his granddaughter’s hair lovingly.
“Of course grandpa! I’m top 1 in my class and my teacher said that I’m good at music just like mama and grandpa!” She said with a proud smile, the resemblance of young yeji and her was uncanny.
“I’m proud of you, dear.” He chuckled, ruffling her hair gently whilst she giggled.
“Baby can you go downstairs with your dad for a while? I have something to tell your grandpa.” Yeji spoke softly, making jaebeom smile— his own little angel now have her own little angel.
“Okay mama! See you later grandpa!” The young energetic girl said before running out of the room to look for her dad.
“She looks just like you, yeji.”
“Papa..” There’s no way jaebeom wouldn’t notice how the tone of his daughter changed. Even if he’s old, he knows when his daughter is sad.
“What is it child?”
That name. He remembers that name.
“Jinnie called and..” Jaebeom could feel how yeji was trying to hold back her tears. And so he placed his weak and wrinkled hand atop of her quivering one, squeezing gently as a sign of assurance from him.
“Go on, dear.”
“His dad… he…he’s not here anymore.”
His dad… Hyunjin’s dad.. Park Hyunjin’s dad..
“Jinyoung.” Yeji broke into tears as soon as he heard his father whispered. Hyunjin and Yeji found out about their father’s past a couple of years before they graduated and wanted them to be together but jinyoung and jaebeom told them that they already have a promise to keep. So instead of pushing the idea to them, both children chose to keep in contact, at least to repay their sacrifices for them to live a normal life.
“He’s gone papa. Jinyoung-ssi is gone.” Yeji cried as she held her father’s fragile hands. The man who chose to put her happiness before his. The man who raised her on his own and taught her to do what makes her happy. To follow your dreams but never chase them. To live a life without hesitation.
“I’m sorry papa. I’m so sorry.” She sobs. They could’ve been together right now. he could’ve been beside him ‘til the last breath. But he chose to protect her, they chose to protect them.
“Why are you apologizing to me, yeji?”
“b-because y-you s-should’ve been together right now. a-and you..you.”
“Stop crying, my dear.”
“b-but papa he-“
“He’s home.” Yeji looked up to see his smiling face, the serenity of it radiating. He is smiling, why?
“He’s home, dear.” Jaebeom repeated. Wiping the tears away from her face, jaebeom spoke once more.
“He’ll be waiting for me, yeji.”
Yeji then realized what he was trying to tell as another set of tears flowed down her face, albeit this time—she was smiling as well.
“I hope you find him, papa. I hope you find your happiness.” Yeji whispered, trying her hardest to keep the smile on her face. Jaebeom leaned in to give her a soft peck on her forehead before nodding weakly.
“I will find him, I promised him that.”
“I love you, papa.”
“I love you too, dear. Take care of yourself always okay? I’m so proud of what you have become.”
“Are you going somewhere grandpa?” the two heard the voice of a young girl at the doorstep, yeji smiling at her daughter before telling her to come close.
“Grandpa will go on a long trip baby, so he won’t be back here.” Yeji tried to tell her daughter who started tearing up as well.
“No! I don’t wanna! I don’t want grandpa to go!” She cried as jaebeom felt his heart ache.
“Little angel, grandpa needs to go.” He spoke but the young girl just shook her head.
“No grandpa please don’t go!”
“Have you seen the stars at night, pumpkin?” he asked, successfully stopping the girl from her outburst.
“Well, grandpa will be there. I will be a star only for you. I will guide you through the night so you don’t have to cry, okay?”
“R-really? Grandpa will be a star?”
“Of course sweetheart.”
“But how can I find grandpa star then? There’s so many stars at night.” The little girl pouted whilst jaebeom just chuckled softly.
“You can always find me, little angel. Your grandpa is the brightest star in the sky.” Jaebeom watched as his granddaughter’s face lit up.
“Wow! That’s amazing!”
“Yes so take care of mama for me, okay?”
“Yes, grandpa! I will protect mama always!” the little girl grinned, her tears no longer present.
“I love you my sweet little pumpkin.”
“I love you too, grandpa. I’ll always be looking at the sky to see if you’re there.”
Jaebeom chuckled as he nodded, eyes disappearing into a thin line just like how his granddaughter smiles. Yeji smiled at them. She’s so grateful, that he has such a loving father and now a loving family.
“Come on now, baby. Grandpa needs to take his rest.” Yeji told her daughter who gave her grandfather one last tight hug.
“I’ll miss you grandpa.” She mumbled before sprinting out of the room into her father’s hand.
“I know yeji. She’ll be fine. She’s the daughter of my daughter after all.” Jaebeom smiled.
“I’ll miss you papa.”
“I know child. Me too.”
With one last hug, yeji stood up and closed the door behind her, tears spilling down her face as her husband welcomed her with open arms, letting her cry there in silence, their daughter in between them.
“He loves you two so much. Remember that.”
“I know. Thank you.”
Behind closed door, along with the comforting silence of the late afternoon; Jaebeom looked out on his window, the warm orange tone of the sky indicating that another day is about to fade away.
“Jinyoung..” He whispered, tears spilling in his face. He have always told himself that he shouldn’t die before jinyoung, so jinyoung wouldn’t have to cry for him again. And he manage to do just that. However, he also knew how much it will hurt to live a day knowing that he is gone.
That’s why he’s glad he’ll finally be able to take his own rest right after him.
“I’ll finally be able to sleep well, jinyoung.” He spoke, his breathing gradually slowing and his eyelids getting heavy.
“Wait for me, I’m going to find you, I promise.”
Taking a deep breath, jaebeom smiled as he closed his eyes.
“I’m coming home, jinyoung.”