“Okay, but, here’s the thing,” Jaehyun says, trailing after Sicheng. He claps his hands together when his husband pointedly ignores him. “Sicheng. Listen. It’s a waste of money for us to buy a nice couch.”
He receives no reply, Sicheng weaving between the pieces of furniture without any indication of stopping. The store feels like a maze, and Jaehyun feels some sort of primal fear when he falls out of step with Sicheng, his husband seemingly disappearing through the doorway of a standalone wall. He feels a brief surge of panic until Sicheng’s face appears in the doorway, hand beckoning him.
“Come on. Don’t get lost on me, Jae.”
“You’re on a mission! I keep tripping on the furniture!” he replies, hurrying to catch up.
Sicheng, in response, reaches out and links their hands together. Seven years and Jaehyun still thinks to himself that they fit together perfectly.
Seven years is a long time, Jaehyun thinks. Seven years is a long time to spend with someone. And it’s technically more than seven. He thinks about meeting Sicheng his second year of university, laptop knocked out of his arms and ready to fight whoever ran into him. He thinks about looking up and feeling breathless. Jaehyun didn’t believe in love at first sight. Technically, he still doesn’t, even though Doyoung always grabs him by the ear, turns him towards his husband and says, You’re an idiot.
Which, yes, maybe Jaehyun is.
Seven years is a long time and, when he adds the three they spent going on cheap convenience-store dates in university, Jaehyun realizes it’s been ten years. Ten whole years by Sicheng’s side. A tug on his hand breaks him from his thoughts before he can start to get sentimental and tear up in a store again. Sicheng glances at him before pulling him closer. Jaehyun’s hip bumps into the back of a couch and he groans.
“You’ve always been a little clumsy,” teases Sicheng without looking away from the furniture. “It’s cute.”
“Thanks. I know.”
Sicheng looks at Jaehyun and he feels just the smallest bit breathless at the look in his husband’s eyes. Jaehyun thinks that Sicheng is good at communicating how he feels through just a look. Personally, he prefers words, though can’t help but feel envious of Sicheng, who uses them as an extra – a little bonus, just to drive the point home.
“Anyways, what were you saying before I lost you?”
“Oh.” Jaehyun pauses, before looking at the price tag hanging off the couch. “Right. We don’t need an expensive couch. It’s a waste of money to get one. Like, Chenle is still growing, right? We can get a nicer one when he’s older.”
“Says you,” mutters Sicheng, running his free hand along the back cushion of a fake-leather couch. He wrinkles his nose, retracting his hand and turning to Jaehyun. “We want fabric, yeah?”
“Yes, we want fabric. But, Sicheng –”
“And we don’t want ottomans?”
“Those are just addons,” Jaehyun replies. “Which we don’t need to get. It’s just offered. But like I was saying –”
“I think a dark color will go nicely with our current living room setup.”
Jaehyun sighs when he realizes that Sicheng is an unstoppable force. It’s not like he didn’t know that before. He’s known that for years at this point with a mix of fondness and aggravation. Sicheng was stubborn from the moment they began dating – not that Jaehyun isn’t stubborn himself. They don’t struggle with communication, either. Really, the two of them are too honest, and Jaehyun can already see it rubbing off on their son.
He hopes that it isn’t a bad thing, but then he remembers when his own motor mouth landed him in detention. Jaehyun is sure that his son has more sense than him. Afterall, it’s Jaehyun and Sicheng raising him. And Sicheng has sense. Or, at least, more sense than Jaehyun does. Letting their son learn from his own mistakes. It’s different from Jaehyun, who wants to guide his son from the mistakes he made.
In his pocket, his phone rings and he pulls it out of his pocket to see a few messages from Johnny. It takes a few moments to untangle his hand from Sicheng who slows his pace for Jaehyun, who hisses in pain as his foot gets caught on the leg of a table. He’s steadied by Sicheng, who tries to hide his amused smile before turning away again. Jaehyun follows Sicheng’s feet through his periphery as he bites back at sigh after reading Johnny’s messages.
Today 11:30 AM
Chenle is doing great!
Just wondering if it would be okay to give him an extra cookie after lunch? I know he’ll start complaining if I give an extra cookie to Donghyuck and Jeno.
I know you’re going to say no. This is just a way of me posing it as a question, but also letting you know that it’s going to happen anyways.
An extra cookie won’t kill him.
I’m only texting you because Sicheng isn’t answering me.
How’s sofa shopping going?
Doyoung says that they do free no rush delivery.
Awesome. Thanks, Johnny.
Yeah, I think I’d rather you not give Chenle an extra cookie, but whatever.
I’ll let Sicheng know!
Send pictures of Chenle!
You’ve been gone for an hour max, Jae. You’ll see Chenle soon.
I won’t if Sicheng can’t decide on a couch soon.
Give him a break. You know it’s the interior designer in him. You know he can’t rest.
Chenle is fine. I promise.
Jaehyun takes a moment to pause and look at Sicheng, who is engrossed in a pamphlet with all the possible colors and fabrics of the couch. He holds up two different swatches and Jaehyun blinks before pointing at the wheat-colored tweed. Sicheng hums thoughtfully, nodding before turning back to the couch and placing the swatches on the couch, one after another.
Sicheng never rests – that much is true. His job as an interior designer has seeped into all facets of life. Jaehyun doesn’t mind though. Not until it becomes an issue and Sicheng is running himself ragged deciding on tea towels and Jaehyun has to unplug his computer and forcefully tuck him into bed. But, other than that, Jaehyun thinks that it’s the least of his worries.
Instead, he worries about his son – how he’s four and full of energy that Jaehyun expected, but not really. Taeil assures him that they’re doing a good job, Jaemin in his arms as Yuta chases after Mark. And Jaehyun wants to believe them more than anything. They’ve been at it for longer than Jaehyun has – longer than any of them have, really. He can’t help but feel lacking, though, as he looks around him at his friends.
And he knows that he’s not. That every situation is different, and that they have different challenges. He thinks about how they’re raising Chenle trilingual, and then thinks of how Taeil and Yuta are doing that, too, though with mixed results. (Mark seems to be taking to it a lot quicker, and Yuta shrugs easily saying that it’s just how things are sometimes – that maybe they learned from Jaemin.) He wonders if they’re just being overly ambitious with Chenle, though the boy totters around, shouting words in English, Chinese, and Korean confidently and, for the most part, correct. So Jaehyun tries not to think about it too much.
Sicheng peers at him, placing the swatches back on the table before smiling. He’s good at this – letting Jaehyun exist in his own space when he wants it. Sicheng is also good at remind Jaehyun when he should step out of it, however, as he walks over and tugs Jaehyun along with him to another couch. Another picture-perfect set-up that Jaehyun can almost picture littered with Chenle’s toys.
They’re learning. Figuring things out day by day. In the end, all Jaehyun wants to do is well by his son. He wants Chenle to grow tall and strong – to be able to chase his dreams. Raising a child isn’t easy – they knew it wouldn’t be. It feels feasible, though, with Sicheng by his side.
He looks back down at his phone where his conversation with Johnny is open. Chenle is fine. I promise, the last message reads. And Jaehyun knows this.
He stills misses his son, though. So, he tells Johnny that.
I miss my son. :(
I’m sure Sicheng does, too.
I’ll let you know if anything happens.
Which it won’t. They’re going to eat lunch in a little bit and then go out in the backyard to play.
Help Sicheng pick out a couch!
He won’t let me!
Yeah. You wanna know why?
Because the last time you had input on the couch you chose fake leather.
What kind of monster does that?
Jaehyun is in the middle of typing a reply when he bumps into Sicheng’s back, bringing him to a halt. His husband turns towards him with a raised eyebrow. As quickly as he turned, his eyebrows furrow and his mouth opens, no sound coming out. In response, Jaehyun smiles, pressing his lips to Sicheng’s cheek in a brief kiss.
“Have you heard a word I said?”
“No. I was busy replying to Johnny.”
“He’s good. Johnny was just letting me know he’s giving him an extra cookie after lunch.”
“Did he send pictures?”
“This is why I prefer Doyoung watching Chenle. He always sends pictures,” Sicheng replies with a sigh.
“Is that why you were ignoring Johnny’s messages?” Sicheng tries hard to suppress his smile, though Jaehyun watches it grow as he shrugs noncommittally. “Ah. I see. This is just you, giving Johnny a hard time, huh?”
“Maybe.” Sicheng’s voice has a light lilt to it as he reaches out for Jaehyun’s hand again, lacing their fingers together as he pulls Jaehyun back towards one of the first couches they looked at. “How about we get this one? It’s in the middle of our price range and it has enough support that Chenle won’t sink into it and enough give that he won’t slide right off it.”
“Thought so. I was just giving you the run around. I decided on this couch an hour ago.”
“Relax. You’re always so stressed.” Sicheng laughs, palm pressed to Jaehyun’s cheek as he kisses him softly. “We have done something – just us – in forever. Johnny told me to go out and grab lunch while we’re at it. You know he’ll tell us if something is wrong.”
“Great. Because I really want Olive Garden’s breadsticks.”