Slowly, Jaehyun opened his eyes.
His vision blurred and his head was pounding. He wanted to rub his eyes, but his arms felt sore when he was going to lift them up. He blinked a few times, trying to get rid of haziness on his vision.
Once he could see clearly, his mind started to work.
Where was he? He didn't recognize his surrounding.
What happened? Why did his body hurt all over?
With careful movement, he looked around. The smell, the IV drip, the white room.. He's in the hospital. That explained why his body were all sore.
But.. What happened to him?
He glanced to his body, and found cuts and bruises all over his arms. His body was covered with hospital gown and blanket, but he felt bandage on his torso, and his left leg was in a cast.
His head pounded again as he tried to remember what incident made him ended up in the hospital. After a few minutes, he became frustrated because he couldn't remember anything.
In desperation, he glanced to the door, hoping his mother would come in through the door and told him what happened.
Where is she?
As if God answered his prayer, the door clicked opened. His eyes turned wide, expectantly waiting for his mother. However, his mouth gaped when he saw the last person he'd expected to come walked through the door.
Their eyes met and for a few seconds, time stopped as they stared at each other. But in a sudden, the man marched towards him. He saw it like a slow motion, how the man's surprised face contorted in a mix of relief and joy. The unshed tears on the man's eyes made him dumbfounded. He was even more shocked when the man hugged him carefully and cried in his chest.
"You're awake. Thanks God. I'm so worried, you have no idea how scared I was. But it's okay, you'll be okay."
Kim Jibeom, his number one enemy, shed tears for him? And what's with the hug?
Jibeom pulled out and cradled his face. His nose were red, tear stain blotched his cheeks. "How are you feeling, hm? Do you feel pain anywhere? Ah, are you thirsty? Let me get you some water then I'll get the doctor."
Jaehyun's chest felt heavy. What exactly had happened? He could only listen to Jibeom rambling. The man moved to take a glass of water and angled a straw to his mouth. He didn't have a choice but to drink his throat was extremely dry to the point it hurt.
In his panic state, he choked on water and coughed. Jibeom was back in frantic mood and fussed over him. Weakly, he pushed Jibeom away, missing the confused and pained look on the man's face.
"What," His voice was hoarse, and he tried to clear his throat. "What are you doing here?"
Jibeom's mouth moved open and shut a few times as if he didn't know how to answer.
"J-Jaehyun? What do you mean?"
He moved forward again, but the hospitalized man flinched, so he stopped.
Jaehyun froze. Love?
"I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have lashed out on you," Jibeom pleaded. "I regret it so much. I immediately tried to look for you once you left, I texted you, I called you, but-"
"Why are you here? Where's my mother?"
Even when his mind was clouded, he could see Jibeom froze, color drained from his face.
"Don't call me that!" He snapped. His voice was hoarse, and it hurt to speak, but he didn't care. It's strange, the situation was strange, he didn't like it. "Get out! I want my mother, I don't want to see you!
"Lo- Jaehyun.." Jibeom took a hesitant step closer, his hands drawn up as if asking to keep calm. But Jaehyun couldn't keep calm. How could he keep calm when everything was so weird?
Kim Jibeom called him love? That's absurd!
The Kim Jibeom he knew would always mock him, stuck his feet to make him trip and fell, making his days miserable. He felt scared and threatened. He felt alone, vulnerable, and threatened as Jibeom approached him.
"Go away!" He screamed on top of his lungs. "Help!!"
"Jaehyun, please!" Jibeom frantically held him to calm him down, but he became more hysterical once he felt Jibeom touched his arms.
"No!! Go away!! Leave me alone!!"
The door burst open and two nurses came in. He was relieved, but he couldn't stop screaming. His body trashed around trying to get rid of Jibeom's touch. He ignored the pain all over his body. He couldn't calm as Jibeom was still holding him.
He only managed to calm down once the nurses dragged Jibeom away. His heart was still racing, he locked his eyes with Jibeom, cautious. He didn't care how stream of tears ran down on Jibeom's cheeks. One thing he knew, he didn't want Jibeom to come near him.
The next time he woke up, he found Youngtaek sitting beside him. The presence of his best friend, made his heart lighter. However, the relief lasted only for a few seconds. His breath hitched when he realized how different Youngtaek look.
The Youngtaek he remembered had blond hair with edgy cut, small black earrings decorating his ears and he always wore oversized t-shirts with rude words written on it. The Youngtaek sitting beside him looked older, black hair styled neatly and he's wearing a dress shirt with blazer.
Youngtaek looked alert like he could read his friend's mind.
"Please don't freak out. It's me.. Youngtaek."
What did Youngtaek mean? Of course he knew him. Youngtaek was his best friend.
"Take a deep breath, slowly," He instructed and Jaehyun unconsciously followed. "Slowly.. Yeah, just like that. Good. Good boy."
Youngtaek smiled in relief. The man curled his hand on his free hand and gave it a squeeze. "Yes, that's me sweetheart. Look at you. This is why I can't leave you alone, you're always so clumsy, so prone of accidents, what to do with you."
A realization hit him. He hadn't known about why he ended up in hospital. "Taek, what happened to me?"
Youngtaek rubbed the back of his palm with his thumb and sighed. "You were involved in a collision streak. Someone drunk driving in a high speed and hit a car. You're inside the taxi, right in front of that car. And your taxi hit a truck in front of you," The man shook his head as if trying shake off a bad memory. "You're unconscious for almost 2 months, Jaehyun-ah, we thought you'll never wake up."
Jaehyun silently stared at Youngtaek who's wiping his eyes with his bare hand. He's been unconscious for 2 months? That long?
"I… I can't remember," He stuttered. He started to panic but Youngtaek held his hand firmly.
"Doctor said you had hit your head hard, and it might affect your memory," Youngtaek said carefully. "But it's okay. You can recover. Slowly, don't push yourself too hard."
It's too confusing. So he got into accident. It explained his injuries.
However, at the moment, his physical injuries was not that important. He's more worried about his lost memory. He had amnesia? His heart started to pound hard, almost breaking his chest. He's terrified. He tried to remember the moments before accident, but the memory slipped in his mind, he couldn't remember anything.
As he tried to remember, his head started to throb painfully. Youngtaek's hand patted his shoulder lightly.
"Don't worry about anything, Jaehyun-ah. Don't force yourself, give yourself some time. Just focus to get better."
Jaehyun bit his lips. Youngtaek's presence made him less panic, but he couldn't believe it happened to him. Yes, as Youngtaek said, he's a magnet for accident, but it's usually just a small accident like tripping on his own legs, forgetting his bus card, spilling his drink or lunch, but never this severe. Not to the point that he had to be hospitalized.
His eyes caught the sight of grey sky, droplets of rain fell to the ground. The feeling somehow reminded him of the extra class arranged by school to prepare the students to face exam. He's seated near the window so whenever it rained, he could feel soft breeze, smell the soil and grass and it always made his drowsy.
Then he remembered something that made him panic again.
"Taek! What date is today?? Did I miss the exam?"
Youngtaek looked stunned. "Exam?" He frowned. "What exam? Did you really take that cooking course?"
Jaehyun gaped. What's that? Cooking course? He started to get anxious. "Taek, it's not funny," He said, but the fear only got stronger when he saw his friend genuinely confused. He knew Youngtaek well enough that he's not lying. "I mean the school exam. Please tell me I didn't miss it. I studied hard for that. I'm confident I can do well on math this time-"
His voice stuck on his throat while Youngtaek's eyes got bigger. That expression screamed horror.
"J-Jaehyun," Youngtaek stammered while slowly got up. "Jaehyun… You.. No.. We… We've graduated from high school."
Jaehyun wanted to scream.
This must be a huge fat lie.
He's a second year student in Suncheon High School, and he'll have important exam coming soon. He lived with his mother who was always doting on him since he's the only child. His mother was healthy, she donated blood every 6 months.
He's not 30.
He's single, he's not married.
Thoughts running in his head, tears won't stop flowing out. Youngtaek's embrace and comfort words couldn't calm him. It must be a joke. But the calendar proved it to be true. Youngtaek's different appearance was also a proof. The absence of his mother, Jibeom's presence, they were all proof that it's real.
"You're lying right?" He sobbed, his hands clutching Youngtaek's sleeve and shook his friend. "Taek! You're lying! My mom is okay! She won't be.. She's alive!"
"I'm sorry, Jaehyun-ah.. I'm sorry."
Just a while ago, he demanded Youngtaek to tell him everything. But the truth was too much for him.
His last memory was 14 years ago. He couldn't remember anything afterwards. He's terrified. It's too overwhelming.
He saw Jibeom standing in the corner of the room, eyeing him with sorrow. He didn't know what to think. His mother won't leave him alone. She's a strong woman, she can't be dead. There's no way. But Youngtaek won't lie about that kind of thing. He won't..
"I'm sorry, Jaehyun-ah. She's gone. She's in a better place now."
When he woke up again after hours of crying, it's dark. The curtain was drawn close, and the only source of light was a small light on the panel.
He'd fainted because of exhaustion, crying over his mother. He felt vulnerable and alone. When was the last time he saw her? What was the last word he told her? He couldn't remember at all and it hurt a lot. At the same time, he felt numb, as if his body had reached his limit grieving over his mother. His heart hurt, but tears won't come out anymore.
There's a little movement beside the bed and he had just realized someone was sitting beside him. The light illuminated a figure sitting on the side of the bed. He couldn't tell who the figure was as his head was facing down, a silent breathing was heard in the silent room.
His eyes were heavy and bleary, swollen from crying. But when the man shifted, still looking down, he could see the side profile.
Maybe doctor gave him something, or maybe he'd reached his breaking point, but he strangely felt calm, and didn't have the urge to yell or cry or anything. He stared at Jibeom, who looked completely lost in his mind and didn't even realize he's awake.
He noticed how mature Jibeom looked right now. His hair was cut shorter, parted on the side. His face slimmed down but his figure was bulkier. He tried to remember what happened between him with Jibeom but nothing came out in his brain.
It was not be a prank. But Youngtaek won't lie to him. If Jibeom's tricking him, Youngtaek won't take Jibeom's side. It was still hard to believe. There's no way he would marry Jibeom and vice versa. They hated each other.
But the Jibeom he's seeing now, looked devastated and broken. He still remembered Jibeom's tears, flowing down on his cheeks..
It happened in a sudden. Jibeom looked up and their eyes met again. Jibeom jolted in surprise, resulting the chair rubbed against the floor and creating a loud screeching sound. Jibeom squeaked as if someone pinched his butt.
It honestly was amusing. It's like he saw a whole different Jibeom. There's a side of Jibeom that he had never seen before.
Jibeom was still standing stiffly beside the chair. His big black eyes scanned his face, anxious, like he's waiting for him to start freaking out. Jaehyun was conflicted. His chest rumbled at the thought of the past Jibeom he hated and the now Jibeom who looked like a vulnerable puppy.
Jaehyun opened his mouth hesitantly. His lips and throat were so dry, he could barely croak out a word.
As soon as the weird noise came out from mouth, Jibeom brought a glass of water and helped him to drink. The liquid was cool and he suddenly felt more awake.
Jibeom put the half filled glass on the bed side table, eyes never left him.
"There must be a lot of things you want to ask, but I suggest you to take things slowly." Jibeom's voice was soft. It sounded weird in his ears.
"How?" He asked. "How can we.."
"That's a long story to tell," Jibeom murmured quietly, almost like he's reluctant.
"I need to know."
Jibeom syared at him for a few seconds before he inhaled sharply, his face was gloomy. "I.. It might be hard to believe.. I'm not sure where to start. But keep it short.. I.. I was in a kind of difficult situation, and you saved me. Somehow, we became closer. One thing leads to another, we dated and we got married."
"I saved you?" Jaehyun asked in wonder.
Jibeom hesitantly nodded. "Yeah. Honestly, I also didn't know why you helped me, you never told me. I know I did bad things to you, and you hated me, but that day.. You helped me like you're afraid of losing me," Jibeom's eyes wandered far away, reminiscing the moment. "And because of that," Jibeom shifted his eyes so he stared at the blanket. "Well, many things happened after that but we ended up married when we're 24. It's one of the happiest moment in my life," He added, voice was barely a whisper.
The whistful smile on Jibeom's face made him lost. What Jibeom told him was like a fiction. It'a too easy, too perfect to be true. And the story left too many holes. Jibeom probably omitted some parts. He wanted to ask further, but he hesitated. Jibeom was like a stranger right now. Although the fact was they'd been married for 6 years, but he had forgotten about all of the memories.
"You.. We.. Were we happy?"
Jibeom turned his head to look at him. His gaze was deep, Jaehyun found himself squirming under that gaze.
"We were happy, very happy," He said, contrast to his sorrowful expression. "I've always thought we're the happiest couple on earth."
Jaehyun tore his gaze and looked down to his hands instead. It's bizarre. Him, Jibeom and happy in one sentence was weird. From what he remembered, Jibeom could jump to the sea and he wouldn't care less. He was sure Jibeom would think that way too.
"It's impossible," He murmured to himself. "It can't be."
"Jaehyun-ah," Jibeom called him softly, and in reflex Jaehyun looked back.
"There's one thing I want to tell you," Jibeom fiddled with his fingers, suddenly looked nervous and small.
"What is it?" He asked when Jibeom didn't answer him. The nervousness was apparent, and Jaehyun also started to get worried. What more surprise stored for him? At this point, he just wished whatever it was, it's not a bad one.
It took a few seconds for Jibeom to answer. "Please keep calm," He said cautiously. "It might be shocking, but.. please-"
"What is it?" Jaehyun asked impatiently. The more Jibeom dragged the matter, the more he felt anxious he just wanted to quickly get over it.
Jibeom swallowed hard. "We have a son," He said, and Jaehyun felt his heart stopped.
Jibeom nodded, his posture was rigid. "He's just turned four five months ago."
"Yes, our own son," Jibeom breathed out, forcing a smile. "Our flesh and blood.. We love him so much."
Jaehyun swallowed hard. He really didn't expect this at all. It was surprising, but not unpleasant. He had a son but he forgot about him?
"His name is Bomin, and he's so smart, the sweetest little angel."
Jibeom fumbled with his phone and then showed him a picture of an adorable toddler in a bee costume with gummy smile and chubby cheeks. With shaking hands, Jaehyun took the phone and stared at the toddler. The cute boy definitely had Jibeom's eyes and nose.
He sucked a deep breath and released it shakily. It couldn't be real.
"There are more photos of him," Jibeom quietly said, "If you want to see.."
Jaehyun took it as permission to slide to the next photo. Another Bomin's photo, his mouth opened wide as he laughed, revealing a set of small white teeth. He moved to other photos, all were Bomin's photos in different outfit and pose, all taken candidly.
His heart beat painfully. He didn't know this kid that supposed to be his son.
While he's looking through the photos, Jibeom would inform him things about Bomin, like how he likes to sing and dance to idol songs, that blue was his favorite color, how he liked chicken more than anything. Jaehyun listened, trying to memorize those information while looking at Bomin's face.
The next photo in the gallery was Bomin and him. His expression hardened. It was him, no doubt of it, but he looked different. His chubby cheeks were gone, and his hair was longer, dark brown color. In the photo, he's laughing along with Bomin. He saw pure happiness in the photo, it sent tingles to his spine. There were many photos of him and Bomin doing various activities. Playing in the snow, reading, and even photo of them sleeping in the bed. He put his fist on his lips, shaking, overwhelmed with the reality he had forgotten.
He moved to next photo, and his time he really was stunned. It's a picture of him, Jibeom and Bomin. They're wearing silly party hat and there's a small birthday cake on the table. Bomin was on his lap and Jibeom's holding the camera. The toddler was sucking his thumb and eyeing the cake, while he was draping his left arm around Jibeom's shoulders. His cheek was pressed on Jibeom's shoulder and his smile radiated happiness.
"It's taken during Bomin's 4th birthday. We had a small party, just three of us at home," Jibeom informed him.
"Where is he?" He asked, although his eyes were still glued to the family picture.
"He's at Donghyun and Joochan's. They're our neighbor," Jibeom quickly added. "They knew about our situation, and they offered help to take care of Bomin."
"I want to see him."
Jibeom nodded and smiled, suddenly looking hopeful. "I'll bring him here tomorrow. I'm glad, Jaehyun-ah.. I was about to ask you to meet him. Bomin… He'd been asking about you a lot."
He released a shuddered breath. He anticipated of meeting with his son he couldn't remember, but he's also scared at the same time. What broke his heart was to know Bomin was looking for him, still didn't understand anything, while he's lying unconscious in the hospital.
"I want to meet him," He croaked out, and Jibeom nodded, eyes glistened with unshed tears.
He wanted to meet Bomin.
Jibeom left that night, with a promise he'll take Bomin to meet him early in the morning.
Jaehyun couldn't sleep that night, his mind playing different kind of scenarios. The sky had started to brighten up when he finally succumbed in sleep. He didn't sleep long though, as his sleep was interrupted by a loud bang of the door and a loud high pitch voice.
He jerked awake, and his eyes immediately spotted Bomin in flesh. Bomin looked exactly the same as in the photos. The toddler had a very big smile on his face, and Jaehyun found his body shaking.
"Mommy!" Bomin called again, before a frantic Jibeom caught him from the back and lifted him up.
"I'm sorry.." Jibeom panted. "He's excited and slipped out from my hold," He then frowned at Bomin. "Bominnie, you promised to keep quiet."
Bomin pouted. "But I miss mommy."
The sight was strange, it stirred something in his heart. He's watching Kim Jibeom, lightly scolding Bomin. Their son. Jibeom noticed him when he struggled to sit.
"Wait, don't move. I'll help you," He smoothly put Bomin down, and elevated the upper part of the bed. Bomin jumped and lifted his arms, whining to Jibeom to lift him up to the bed.
Jaehyun could only watch the kid. He was nervous. For Bomin, he's his mother. But for him, Bomin was a kid he met for the first time. Looking at how happy and eager Bomin wanted to see him, it tugged his heartstring.
"Is it okay?" Jibeom picked Bomin up in his arms, holding him tightly as Bomin wiggled, wanting to be in his mother's arms.
In response, Jaehyun lifted his hands, welcoming Bomin to his arms. His hands were shaking, but the toddler didn't notice. Bomin squealed and leapt into his arms, ignoring his father's fussing about the IV drip.
"Mommy I miss you," Suddenly the hyper Bomin turned pliant, burrying his head on his mother's chest. Jaehyun was stunned. There's indescribable feeling when he heard Bomin's voice, his healthy chubby body pressed to him, and his cute little fingers holding him. It's amazing, but still it's strange.
He didn't know what to do. He took a glance a Jibeom who gave him a careful nod. Slowly, he held Bomin close to him, smelling the baby scent from his hair, it somehow calmed his nerves.
"Don't go anymore."
Jaehyun's throat constricted in pain. He's extremely sorry after hearing the sad tone on Bomin's voice. He couldn't just tell the boy he didn't remember anything about him. How could he break an innocent kid's heart. For how, he thought it'll be best of he pretended to remember.
"I won't, baby, I won't leave again. I'm sorry," He leaned and gave a kiss on Bomin's head.
It wasn't as awkward as he thought it would be. Bomin was a sweet child, he thought it won't be hard to love the kid.
He glanced at Jibeom who's covering his mouth and nose area with his palm. The man was staring at him with glistened eyes. The sight brought pain to his heart. He couldn't understand himself. But that moment, he didn't want to let himself thinking too much. He pushed the other thoughts from his mind, and focused his attention to Bomin.
He was discharged from hospital two weeks later. By that time, the cast on his leg and bandage on his stomach had been removed. He still needed to use crutch to help him walk, but his other wounds had dried up, leaving only some bruises and scars.
He was nervous as Jibeom drove him back home. There was thick tension in the air. The day he was discharged, he was horrified that he had to go back with Jibeom to their house. Jibeom caught him nagging Youngtaek to let him come to his house instead. Youngtaek apparently had job in Japan and he had to go back and forth, so Youngtaek definitely can't accomodate him to live together. It's been awkward after that.
His mind was divided between Bomin's happy chatters and the sight of Youngtaek and Jibeom talking quietly in front. Being his best friend, Youngtaek loathed Jibeom, so it's quite funny to see them conversing lightly about bakery and macaron. He felt like an outsider.
The scenery was unfamiliar. He recognize the road, but the shops, buildings, a lot of things had definitely changed. Some old shops were still there, including his favorite dumpling shop and an ice cream shop. But the rest are new to him.
Their car finally entered an apartment complex near Han River. Once the car stopped, Jibeom immediately got out to take his things from compartment, while Youngtaek helped him getting off the car. Jaehyun was relieved. Although he had already accepted that Jibeom was his husband, but it's still awkward to be around him. There's still an invincible wall between him and Jibeom. Even after he knew they're married happily, but the Jibeom he knew was his bully. He couldn't instantly erase that from his mind. The man fortunately sensed that too and he gave him personal space. Jaehyun silently appreciated that.
Their apartment was on the 7th floor, it had nice view of a public park. It was overall quite neat, but somehow empty. If there's no Bomin's toys scattered around and some piled children books on the table, he would think it's a model apartment.
He silently took Jibeom's offer to look around while his husband unpack the stuffs and Youngtaek played with Bomin. There's nothing special in the house. Their bedroom was also neat minus the unmade bed. Taking a glance to the closet, he's surprised to find a familiar baggy shirt he had since middle school was there. Some other unfamiliar shirts were exactly the kind of clothes he liked and would buy.
Dinner was mostly dominated by Youngtaek talking and cooing Bomin. Jaehyun was thankful Youngtaek was there, he's loud and definitely reduced the awkwardness between him and Jibeom. But Youngtaek couldn't stay for long, and he left after dinner. Bomin had dozed off to sleep in his room by the time the man left. The baby boy was exhausted since he skipped the nap time. He didn't aware that he's leaving his parents alone in awkwardness.
Jaehyun and Jibeom sat side by side in the living room, with a distance apart.
"So I think you need to tell me what I should know."
The thought had been bugging his mind since he arrived in the apartment. He didn't have any idea where's the lamp switch, he didn't know where's the sugar, where's the cup and other cutleries. He had no idea about their usual habit too like when to wash clothes, when to change bedsheets and any other things. It didn't feel like home, instead it felt like he's staying in someone else's house.
It also scared him that suddenly he had to carry so much responsibility. His body might be a 30 years old body, but his memory stopped when he's 16. He didn't know how to take care of a toddler and be a spouse. Everything seemed to be high technology, he didn't know what button he should press, or how to operate coffee maker and toaster. He's totally clueless about everything.
"Ah yes," Jibeom scratched his ear. "Where should I start?"
Jaehyun hesitated. "Maybe starting from what do I do everyday."
Jibeom pursed his lips. "Well, you wake up around 6.30, and you usually prepare breakfast for us. We'll eat then I'll wash the dishes while you bathed Bomin. I usually leave to office at 7.30 and then you'll take Bomin to the daycare center at 8. His school ended at 5. I usually picked him up on my way home, but when I have lots of work, you pick him up. Then we'll play for a while, have dinner then sleep."
Jaehyun nodded, trying to memorize the routine. "Why did we send Bomin to a full day daycare center? I'm not working, I should be able to take care of him."
"You're actually a freelance writer," Jibeom smiled. "You love to write, you worked as an junior editor before, but you had to stop after we had Bomin. When Bomin turned 3, you got an offer as freelance writer, so we agreed to send him to daycare. It's a good solution. You can focus on your work and Bomin gets to meet some friends and socialize. He improved so much in talking since we put him in daycare."
Writing had been his hobby for a long time. He wasn't really good academically, but he won several prizes in writing competitions. It's nice to know that he finally could do what he liked. However, that's not his priority at the moment.
"I have informed your editor about your condition, don't worry," Jibeom said. "He said he understood."
"And you?" Jibeom tilted his head to his husband. "What do you do?"
"Ah, I'm a lawyer," Jibeom replied. "I work from 9 to 5, but I usually come early so I can go home early to pick Bomin up. But there are some days I need to stay in office especially nearing trials."
"Ah.. I see," Jaehyun nodded. For a while they're surrounded in silence.
"I'll show you around tomorrow, show you where we store our things," Jibeom said again. "It's not that late, but you need a lot of rest."
Jaehyun wanted to ask about their sleeping order, but Jibeom beat him to it. "You can sleep in master bedroom with Bomin," He said. "I'll sleep in Bomin's room."
It made him feel bad. "N-no.."
Jibeom bit his lips. "The bed in main bedroom is more comfortable for you. And Bomin misses you so much, you saw how he clings on you. He doesn't kick, don't worry.. But of course.. If that's okay with you?"
It's not that he didn't want to sleep with Bomin, but it would feel weird.
"Okay," He nodded
"Great," Jibeom chuckled nervously. "And it reminds me.. Don't think about anything else, just rest. For meantime, I'll send Bomin to daycare and I'll pick him up. I understand you're confused right now, so I think we need to take things slowly. And I'll introduce you to Donghyun and Joochan soon. Donghyun work at home, so if you can ring him if you need something when I'm unreachable. He's really nice, and he actually offered the help, you don't have to worry."
Jaehyun bit his lips. He wondered how Jibeom cope up with the situation while he's unconscious. He had busy job, he had to take care of Bomin, and also visit him in hospital. It was then he realized how tired Jibeom look. His dark eye bags were visible, and he noticed how his pants hang low on his waist.
He bowed his head, hiding his frown. Despite the fact that he hated Jibeom, the Jibeom who had become his husband had showed nothing other than patience and acceptance. He somehow he didn't like it. He didn't want to involve anything that had to do with Jibeom, no matter how kind the man had become.
The next morning, he woke up in an empty house. He jolted awake, his heart dropped after finding the space beside him empty.
The first thing he did was looking at the other side of the bed whether Bomin fell to the floor. When he found out that Bomin wasn't there, he threw his blanket away and frantically searching for his crutch. Jaehyun walked in haste towards the door, ready to flip the house to look for the toddler.
However, a neon green colored sticky notes was pasted on the door, right at his eye level.
I'm taking Bomin to daycare center. I'll be back soon with your favorite sandwich.
His shoulders sagged in relief. He stood there, resting his forehead on the door while waiting his heartbeat to turn normal. His eyes glanced at the clock on the bedside table. It's 9 am, he sighed. He was so late. How did he sleep that well that he didn't even know when Jibeom woke Bomin up? With slow steps, he walked out to the living room.
Jibeom came back right after he dawned a full glass of water. The lawyer was wearing a shirt and jeans, holding a paper bag. He seemed surprise to see Jaehyun there.
"Oh, you're awake," He smiled. "I was hoping you're still sleeping when I come back. You must have been surprised. But you read my note right?"
Hesitantly, Jaehyun nodded. "I was panicking because Bomin was not on the bed."
Jibeom's smile faltered. "I'm sorry. You're sleeping so well, and you need sleep, so I didn't wake you up," He walked to the dining table and put down the paper bag.
"No, it's okay," Jaehyun said awkwardly. "Thanks.. for being considerate."
The smile was back on Jibeom's face, and Jaehyun looked away. He didn't see the the smile on his husband's face faltered. "It's nothing. Come, I bought sandwich. You love this."
It's weird to hear someone else say what he liked. He should be the one who know himself best.
He walked and settled himself on the dining table while Jibeom unpacked the sandwhich.
"How are you feeling?" Jibeom asked. "Any headache?"
He's so not used to Jibeom fussing over him. It made him flustered and uneasy. "N-No. I'm fine."
Jibeom stopped to look at him properly. "Are you sure?" He quietly asked. "Promise me you won't hide anything from me?"
He broke eye contact and cleared his throat. "You don't have to care too much."
His words was harsher than he intended too. Jaehyun balled his fist as the atmosphere became tense. He wanted to fly to his room and lock the door. He didn't want to see Jibeom. Jibeom's attentiveness towards him made me sick. However he stilled himself, knowing that running away won't solve the matter. They're husbands, they had a son, he needed to get over it.
"Okay," Jibeom said after a while. The resignation in his tone made Jaehyun's heart pinched. His consciousness told him he's too cruel.
A plate of delicious looking sandwich was slide in front of him. The smell hit his nose and he felt himself salivating.
"It's your favorite", Jibeom said. "Egg, and bacon, cabbage, cheese with special mushroom sauce."
Jaehyun lifted the sandwich up, to examine it before he took a big bite.
It tasted wonderful, especially he's starving. He almost ate half of the sandwich when he realized lack movement from his husband.
Looking up, his face flushed to find Jibeom staring at him with twinkling eyes and soft smile. He suddenly felt conscious. He hadn't taken shower, his hair must be so messy. His fingers traced his mouth as an attempt to wipe any crumbs or sauce.
"I feel content watching you eat so deliciously."
There's no hint of teasing in his tone, it made him blushed in embarrassment. He slowed his eating pace down.
"Don't you have to go to work today?"
"I take 3 days leave," Jibeom said, and then took his first bite of sandwich.
Jaehyun out his sandwich down. "Why?"
Jibeom shrugged, not meeting his eyes. "All of this must be very confusing for you, this new environment, new situation. I guess I need to help you get used to the house.. And show you places around here."
"You don't have to," Jaehyun said. "I can manage. It's new here, but it's still Seoul. I can figure out by myself."
Jibeom taking leave meant he'll have to spend more time alone with him. But in the other hand, contrary of what he said, he really needed help with his surrounding. He didn't like both options.
Jibeom gave him a tight lipped smile. "I know. But I just want to."
Jaehyun put down his sandwich, trying to reason out. "Won't you get trouble?"
"Hey," Jibeom called softly. "I want to do this. I.. And besides, I miss spending time with you. My boss understands."
Jaehyun swallowed in difficulty. It's awkward to hear Jibeom speaking words of affections to him. He's still hurt and angry because of what Jibeom had done to him in the past, but he knew he couldn't lash out. He didn't know what had happened in the time frame he had forgotten. Many things must have changed. Probably along the way, he realized Jibeom wasn't as bad as he thought. The proof was right in front of his eyes. If Jibeom was an asshole, he won't marry him, he won't live happily with him, Jibeom won't look at him like he's a precious gem.
He shook his head. He needed someone he could trust.
"Can we go somewhere today?" He asked.
Jibeom's brows furrowed. "Are you sure? Wait.. yeah of course we can go, but you've just discharged yesterday-"
"Please take me to my mom."
Jibeom's eyes softened. "Of course I will."
His tears broke again after he saw his mother's picture beside the pot of ash. Tears kept on falling as he regretted that he couldn't remember, that he should have been a better son for her.
Ever since his father passed away when he's only 5, his mother worked hard to be the breadwinner in the family. They were very close although couldn't spend much time together. He remembered he vowed to himself he'll work hard to make his mother live comfortably.
He'd failed to do that.
"Tell me how she died."
They're sitting inside the car, the engine was on, but Jibeom hadn't started to drive. When realizing his tears won't stop anytime soon, Jibeom took him to the car, giving him a bunch of tissue and let him cry his heart out. It's been almost half an hour since then, and he had calmed down and stopped crying. There's a hollow feeling in his chest, it's like he's grieving in his dream, not real. His eyes were hot and swollen. He must have looked funny.
He sensed hesitancy.
Jibeom ran his fingers through his hair, hating that he had to open a new wound.
"She had a night shift," Jibeom started, looking ahead and avoided his eyes. "Police said she was walking near a bar where fight broke. She was in the wrong place in a wrong time."
Jaehyun squeezed his eyes shut, trying to control his emotion. "What happened to her?"
"A fatal stab on her midsection," Jibeom quietly said. "She passed away before she reached hospital."
Jaehyun wiped fresh tears on his cheeks. "Did the police catch the culprit?"
"Yes, they did, 20 years in prison."
"Okay," He nodded. At least the culprits have received punishment. There was rage in his heart, but he tried to suppress it down. There's no use. His mother won't come back.
"Are you okay?"
Jibeom carefully put his hand on top of him. He froze, but didn't move his hand. The touch somehow gave him comfort, it reminded him that he's not alone.
Instead of answering the question, he asked back, "How did I cope with this?"
The light stroking on his hand was comforting. Jibeom wasn't looking at him, but he could tell that the man was very careful in choosing his words.
"You cried just like you did just now," Jibeom said. "But you got better as time goes by. I'll be here, I'll always be here for you."
Jaehuun sniffed. "Were we already dating at that time?"
"Yes," The fondness on Jibeom's voice was apparent. "We've been dating for like.. 5 years?"
Jaehyun's eyes widened. "That long?"
Jibeom hummed, his expression serene. "We started off young, but I'm happy that we met since we're young. It means more time for me to be with you."
"So she wasn't present when we're married, huh?"
He tried to talk about it lightly, but ended up with a crack voice. Jibeom squeezed his hand before retracted it. "One thing I regret the most is I should have to propose you sooner," The lawyer said, fiddling with the steering wheel. "I had carried the ring for weeks, waiting for the perfect time to propose, but.. It happened and.. I regretted so much I didn't even have the chance to ask permission to marry you."
Jaehyun scrunched his eyes. His beloved mother had missed some of his most important moment in life. It hurt to think about it, and he imagined how hard it was for him back then.
Talking about parents, he realized he had never seen Jibeom's parents. During his stay in hospital, and even when he's discharged, they had never once come to visit. There's a sudden weight in his chest, and he voiced it out.
"Does your parent hate me? Did they approve our marriage?"
Jibeom's head whipped so fast, his eyes were wide. "What? Why so sudden.."
"Well," Jaehyun rubbed his nose. "They'd never visited."
Jibeom inhaled loudly and rubbed his face. Jaehyun wondered why the man suddenly looked frustrated. Had he offended his husband?
"It's just me and my dad and we're not in good term," Jibeom said with a strain on his voice. "But it has nothing to do with you. Our relationship had broken long before we're even friends."
"I'm sorry," That's all he could say.
"Nevermind, it doesn't affect me anymore," Jibeom smiled, but Jaehyun could see it's forced. His husband said it didn't affect him anymore, but it's a blatant lie.
Jibeom wasn't really a good liar.
Everything went just fine, better than what he imagined, and all of that, he must say, thanks to Jibeom. His husband had been so accommodating and helpful. Jibeom introduced him to their neighbors, Joochan and Donghyun, who apparently were at the same age but very childish and bickered a lot. They're turned out to be very nice and Bomin liked them so much.
Jibeom taught him how to operate the washing machine, and showed him where bed sheets and other stuffs were kept. Not only that, Jibeom also gave him information about Bomin, ranging from his favorite food, food he won't ever eat, his special tantrums and how they usually dealt with it, and his sleeping habit. There were information about Bomin's friends in daycare. Jibeom had a class portrait and wrote the names of each kid along with their parents' name. Jaehyun thought it's very sweet of him.
Sometimes, he felt sorry towards Jibeom. He took care of everything, that partly should be his job, but there was no a single complaint. He wondered why and how Jibeom could love him so much. It's still fresh in his mind how Jibeom sneered at him during high school. What made him change?
But one thing for sure, Jibeom had scored himself hell when decided to marry him. Taking care of him for 2 months and more was surely time consuming and not to mention how much money he had spent, Jaehyun didn't even want to think about it. Now that he's healed, he sucked in everything that forced Jibeom still had to do everything on his own.
There were times he felt like a heavy baggage.
He slowly saw Jibeom in a new light. The kindness and guilt towards Jibeom made him hate his husband less. One thing for sure, he's willing to make effort for the sake of his family. He tried to push his hatred away, focusing in Jibeom's kindness and tried to be more interactive with his husband.
That day, when Bomin was at school and Jibeom was working, Jaehyun received his new phone from Youngtaek, sent by courier. Once he received it, he immediately brought it to the couch.
His old phone was crushed and died because of the accident, but Jibeom had given him a new phone. Fortunately, Youngtaek knew about it and he said the data from the old phone could be recovered and transferred it to his new phone. Youngtaek promised to help him restore the datas, and here he was, holding the phone filled with proof of his past. He was shaking with anticipation.
He turned on the phone, silently awed with the high tech device. His phone back then when he was 16 was like a walkie talkie compared to this one. He fumbled with it, and checked the messages.
He saw Youngtaek and Jibeom's name, parents group chat, along with some names he didn't know. He opened the message app and went through the chats. There's no important messages, it didn't seem like he had many friends either.
His chat with Youngtaek was only small talks, banter, and gossip about his work, and nothing really important. He spent a few minutes enjoying reading the chat and snorted at Youngtaek's lame jokes. Feeling lighter, he opened his chat with Jibeom. His hands suddenly felt clammy. He hoped he could dig more about his past that he had forgotten.
Love, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it.
Please come back.
Please answer my call or at least tell me where you are.
I'm worried now. Please call me back.
The messages were from 3 months ago, probably the day he had accident. He suddenly remembered Jibeom apologizing to him the day he woke up from long sleep. Did they fight that day?
He pushed the thought away and scrolled up, reading the conversation.
Do you want pastry from usual cafe? I have to meet a client around the area, I'll pack some for you if you want
Yes please. We can have it for breakfast tomorrow. Buy a Danish roll for me and Bomin.
Will you have dinner tonight?
Yes. I'll go home as soon as I can. I miss you :)
Jibeommie.. You just went to office 3 hours ago.
I still miss you :) see you later
See you. I love you
Heat creeped through his face and neck when he read the conversation.
Kim Jibeom don't you dare go in
Bomin's not sleeping yet?
He'd just fallen asleep just now, but you know he's a light sleeper
I'll be quiet
I spent an hour convincing him to sleep. If he wakes up, you're on duty to make him sleep.
Are you angry?
I can tell
You can't even see me
I know you long enough to know. Go the room, I'll go there in a bit if I can get out without waking Bomin up.
It's been so long since we sleep on our bed.
What to do
It must be tiring for you. I'll try to make him sleep tomorrow. I'm hurt, he always wants his mom to put him to sleep
You're so sweet I want to kiss you right now
Then come here quickly
What took you so long?
I'm on the train right now. Sorry, love, there's a trial tomorrow, we tried hard to make it perfect
You and your perfectionist ass
Last night you said you love my ass
You're so cute. How's your article?
Just submitted it, I'm free now. Are you tired? I can prepare warm water in bathtub
Sounds great. But I'd rather cuddle and talk with you on the bed.
Or we can cuddle and talk in the bathtub
Is that an invitation? Don't tempt me if you don't mean it
Fyi the daycare teacher said Bomin didn't take a nap today so he's already in deep sleep right now. He didn't even wake up when I dropped my charger.
So we have time for ourselves tonight
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Probably :) Tell me when you've reached the station, I'll prepare warm water
Will be there soon
Jaehyun threw his phone in embarrassment. He's horrified. Did he really talk like that to Jibeom. He's so… flirty.
He hit his head with his fist, trying to forget the cringe conversation he'd just read. "Stupid stupid!!"
Despite the curse, his heart was beating fast. From the conversation he and Jibeom seemed happy and in love. He frowned. There were so many missing puzzle piece. One thing he's curious the most was his relationship development with Jibeom.
Taking the phone again, he opened the gallery, and welcomed with hundreds of photos of his family. Most of them are dominated by Bomin's photos, but tracing back to the oldest photo in the gallery, there were quite a lot of pictures of him and Jibeom when they're seemed to be on a date. A bunch were photos taken during their wedding. It didn't look like a formal wedding. They're wearing khaki colored pants and white shirts, suitable for the small wedding in a garden.
Scrolling up, he found own photos with baby bump. Jaehyun gaped. He was shocked beyond believe when he heard that he had a child, and he spent almost 30 minutes tracing the c section scar on his stomach when he saw it for the first time, but looking at himself actually carrying the child inside his body, it's bizarre. He looked big, swollen but happy. He couldn't remember himself smiling that bright. Another photo showing Jibeom massaging a pair of swollen feet, that he assumed was his, and Jibeom decorating Bomin's room.
Warmth blossomed in his heart, but also pain. He looked so happy and he couldn't remember it. He and Jibeom were obviously so in love but now, he wasn't sure he could like him like the Jaehyun before accident. It was too sudden, and it's still scary.
After going through the photo gallery, he moved to the video folder. He smiled watching Bomin's videos. The kid was adorable. Bomin was a healthy and smart kid and he couldn't be thankful enough to be blessed with a smart child. There were videos of Bomin's first steps, Bomin's singing performance at school, Bomin laughing with two teeth, Bomin crying.
There were so many videos, and he decided to scroll down, to find an interesting one. He could watch the rest next time. His eyes suddenly caught a video with Jibeom's face as thumbnail, and he played the video.
"Look at him, so tiny. I can cover his head with my hand."
Jibeom was holding newborn baby Bomin in his arms. The setting looked like he's in hospital. The position looked awkward. Jibeom definitely had never holding a baby before. He can hear himself in the video chuckling.
"He looks like you."
Jibeom tore his gaze from Bomin and looked pass through the camera. "Really? I though he looks like you though."
"He has your nose for sure."
Jibeom smiled, his gaze softened. "Thank you for giving me the best present ever."
He heard himself laugh again. "Don't cry again. It's embarrassing."
Jibeom laughed shyly and covered the camera. "Stop filming me."
"I want to record the moment of you and Bominnie."
The camera shook but then it focused again on Jibeom and Bomin. Jibeom didn't look that happy but relented. The new father focused his gaze on the baby again.
"He's perfect," Jibeom said dreamily.
"I can't wait to bring him home."
He heard himself groaned and Jibeom looked up in alarm.
"Why? Is somewhere hurting?"
"No, just.. The stitch.."
"Love, just put down your phone and rest. Don't keep on moving."
The video was cut, leaving Jaehyun stared blankly at the screen. Reading chat longs had already made him flustered, and the video made him even more flustered.
He took a deep breath. He knew his marriage with Jibeom was real, but watching the video made him even more realized how real it was. And there were so many things he had forgotten.
By then he had no doubt that Jibeom didn't lie when he said they were happy.
Jibeom had been so kind and he thought the only way to repay him was to quickly adapt and do things he always did before accident. That way, he could reduce Jibeom's work.
He started to prepare breakfast, which mostly toasted bread with sausage and egg and fruits. The first few attempts turned to be disaster, but Jibeom only laughed and told him to sit and let him do the job.
When his legs got better and he could walk freely without crutch, he insisted he'll take over the duty to bring and pick Bomin up from daycare. With him not working, he had nothing to do anyway.
What he didn't think before was, he had no meet with other moms. The moms were huddling together, chatted noisily while laughing when he came holding hand with Bomin. The faces were unfamiliar, and he suddenly was caught in anxiety. Before it started, he felt left out already.
"Sanha!!" Bomin suddenly shouted in glee, and before Jaehyun could stop him, the boy had released his hand and ran towards another boy.
Bomin's voice caught the attention of the moms, and like meerkats, they all turned to look at him. Although they're like 5 meters away, he could see their sharp eyes on him. Jaehyun fidgeted and offered a week smile and nod to the group.
"Jaehyun-sshi!" One of the moms, the petite one with huge eyes and shoulder length brown hair, greeted him warmly.
"Oh, h-hi," He awkwardly replied the greeting. She noticed his awkwardness and smiled in understanding. Jaehyun was flustered when he held his both of his hands and squeezed it tenderly like moms would do to their child.
"It's okay, we've been informed," She said. "I'm Jihye by the way, Sunwoo's mom. Our children are friends."
Jaehyun felt a bit uncomfortable to know that probably the teachers and the parents knew about his situation. He'd rather chose. They didn't know about it, but it was inevitable. They're bound to know with his long absence and memory loss.
"How are you doing? Looks like you're doing fine, but certainly lose some weight. It's been so long since I saw you. Me and other moms wanted to visit you, Jibeom-sshi said it might confuse you. I'm glad we finally can meet again."
She talked rapidly while Jaehyun could only smiled and nodded. "Yes, I'm fine now. Thanks for your concern."
Her hands withdrew from his, but to moved to his arm. "No problem, darling, I'm glad you're doing well. Bomin had been looking very down after the incident. Poor boy. Jibeom-sshi must have taken care of you very well. Whenever I saw your husband, I feel sad for him. He's always early to drop Bomin, and always rushing here in the evening. He had lost a lot of weight too. But hey, it's hard to juggle work and raising kids. I don't think I can do it on my own. You're lucky, you caught a good one, Jaehyun-sshi," He laughed and dragged her to other moms.
Somehow the remark offended him. Did she imply he had left Jibeom with big burden? It's not that he asked to be involved in accident! He felt like he's mocked of his incapability.
"Look who's here!" She squealed when they reach the group of moms, and soon they all gathered around him, introducing themselves, while Jaehyun tried so hard to remember the names.
He'd always been an introvert, and dealing with noisy moms was seriously not his favorite. He tried to interact pleasantly although he doubt before the accident, he mingled well with the moms. Fortunately, he was saved by Bomin's teacher who called him. Talking with the teacher was much better than talking with the moms. He was informed about Bomin's development and they engaged a small talk before he left.
The moms were still there when he's done talking with the teacher, and he hurriedly bid them goodbye, not wanting to get involved in further conversation. They all waved him back, and Jaehyun thought they're actually quite nice despite they talk to much.
"Poor Jibeom-sshi. He could do better."
He barely heard it, but he did. His steps faltered a bit, but he stopped himself from turning around. He kept on walking ahead with clenched fists.
"Yeah, Jibeom-sshi has good career and he's handsome. What a waste."
"I will choose him if I have to choose between him and my husband," They giggled, and Jaehyun fastened his pace.
It definitely ruined his mood for the entire day. Was he that bad? The 14 years memory he had lost, he badly needed to know what happened between the time gap. He was so lost and clueless.
Once he's home, he didn't waste time and dialed Youngtaek's number.
"Ya, Jaehyun-ah," He heard Youngtaek grumbled, voice rough from sleep. "Why did you call so early?"
"It's nine," He deadpanned. "But it's not important. I want to ask you something."
There was a pause from the other line before Youngtaek spoke again, his tone became more serious.
"What is it? Something's wrong?"
"Tell me what happened between me and Jibeom," He said straight to the point. "You know how we hated each other, Taek. What happened between us? How can we get married? I watched the videos from my phone and we… We look happy. You're even friend with him now. Taek? What happened?"
"Hey, relax," Youngtaek said.
"Please tell me."
"I'm afraid I can't answer that."
Jaehyun frowned. "Why?"
"Because I don't know either, Jaehyun-ah," Youngtaek sighed. "You tell me everything except that one. I remember that day was a day before our midterm exam. We studied in library until late, and when we're about to go home, we walked across the field and Joon accidentally knocked your head with football. You fainted and we got you to infirmary, but you suddenly woke up, looked disoriented and frantic. I told you what happened and you suddenly ran out from school like you're being chased by ghost.
I didn't know where you went, and you didn't pick up my call or answer my text until late at night. You said you're fine, but since then, you and Jibeom didn't try to murder each other anymore. To tell you the truth, Jibeom avoided you while you chased him like a obsessive fan girl."
"I did what?" Jaehyun shrieked, horrified. "You're lying!"
"I'm not. You ditched me to hang out with Jibeom. I'm still mad you know."
"I wish I can tell you."
Jaehyun's mind was in a mess. The story matched well with Jibeom's story, and if he linked those two stories, he assumed he 'saved' Jibeom after he fainted. But what happened? How?
"Jaehyun," He heard Youngtaek called him. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," He said breathlessly. "I'm just.. I'm confused."
"It's understandable. Jibeom treats you well right?"
Jibeom sighed. "Yes, yes he does. It's just.. Sometimes I just feel weird. I only remember how we hated each other and now.. We're married we have a son, and.. And he's so kind.."
"I don't know what happened, Jaehyun-ah," Youngtaek said carefully. "But you're happy. You had a perfect marriage, people envied you. And Jibeom had changed for the better. You should give him a chance."
He knew what Youngtaek was implying. But he had never had intention to leave. It disn't even cross in his mind. "I know," He said. "I.. i hope I can remember soon."
"Me too, Jaehyun-ah, me too."
Bomin had been nothing but a sweet child. Jaehyun had no little brother or cousin, so it's really his first time dealing with kids. Bomin was really smart. The toddler had a way to charm others and there were times he thought Bomin knew when he felt down or tired. When it happened, usually Bomin would play on his own instead nagging him to play together.
He had grown really fond of Bomin.
But sometimes, Bomin could be very difficult.
That particular day, Bomin was being extremely cranky. It was so hard to wake him up, he's fussing around during breakfast and ended accidentally threw his porridge bowl to the floor. Breakfast was a mess and they were late to daycare. The moms gossiping about him when he came. Their unsubtle stare and whisper almost drove him to the edge. When he went home and cleaned up, his toe stabbed the corner of the table, making him cried in pain. His bad luck for the day didn't end there. When he's about to take out vacuum cleaner, he didn't careful and make the storage boxes fell to the ground. He was only lucky the boxes didn't fall on him.
Overall, he had a very bad day and it completely ruined his mood.
Jaehyun sighed as Bomin kept his lips shut. He put the kiddy bowl to the table tiredly. It's been half an hour, but Bomin hadn't finished his dinner. If he didn't count wrong, only 2 or 3 spoons of food successfully went into Bomin's mouth.
"Bomin-ah, why don't you eat?"
"I don't want to eat fish!" The stubborn kid said.
"But you usually like fish."
"Today I don't like fish."
"But fish is healthy for you."
"I am healthy without eathing fish."
Jaehyun didn't think babysitting would be that hard especially when the kid was cranky. He didn't know what happened with Bomin that day. It's been two weeks since his stay in the apartment, and Bomin had been behaving well and eat everything he served. Initially he thought Bomin was sick since the daycare teacher also said he'd been quite moody at the daycare. But after checking his temperature, everything was normal. He really didn't know what to do.
The bathroom door swung open, and Jibeom walked out with wet hair, towel slung on his shoulder. He looked alarmed after making eye contact with his husband and saw despair on them.
"Bomin doesn't want to eat," He whined. Not only he's mentally tired, but he's afraid Bomin would starve and ended up sick. It's already past his usually dinner time.
Jibeom glanced at Bomin who's playing with his robot toy, then to Jaehyun's frustrated face.
"Let me do it," He wanted to take the bowl but Jaehyun insisted not to let him. He had promised himself to show he could handle it.
"It's okay, let me do it. Just eat your dinner."
"You haven't eaten either."
"Jibeom, just let me do it!"
Jaehyun drew a sharp breath once he realized what he had said. He didn't mean to snap at Jibeom, but he was tired, he just wanted Bomin to eat, and most of all, he hated himself for failing to show Jibeom that he could take care of Bomin well.
Jibeom was stunned, even Bomin stopped playing and looked at his parents with big eyes.
"I.. I didn't mean.."
"It's ok," Jibeom smiled weakly, then he turned to Bomin, caressing the boy's head. He silently ate, didn't make any comment while Jaehyun tried but always failed putting the food into Bomin's mouth. As time went by, Jaehyun grew frustrated. He slammed the bowl on the table and blurted out, "If you don't want to eat, I will leave."
He didn't expected the excessive reaction. Jibeom stilled and Bomin started to wail.
"Mommy!" Fat droplets of tears rolled on his chubby cheeks. Jaehyun froze.
Jibeom immediately went to his baby, cradling him. "Bomin-ah, you should eat okay. If you eat well, daddy will play with you later how about it?"
"I don't want fish!"
"How about egg?" Jibeom bargained.
Bomin wiped his eyes, tears were still streaming down his cheeks. "I want egg."
"Okay, daddy will fry an egg, and you have to finish it okay. Promise?
Bomin nodded, still crying.
Jibeom looked at his stunned husband. "I'll make fried egg for Bomin."
It's not fair, Jaehyun thought. He couldn't remember anything, he became a burden for Jibeom, he couldn't even handle his own son.
His breathing became labored and he quickly dashed to the room.
"Mommyyy!!!" Bomin screamed, but he ignored him and closed the door. Once he sat on the side of the bed, his tears had started to fall, and he didn't want Bomin or Jibeom to see it. He was upset, but he didn't even know why he's even crying.
"Jaehyun?" He heard Jibeom called behind closed door. "Are you okay?"
He couldn't remember how many times Jibeom said that. Jibeom was always worried for him, and he couldn't even feel thankful. Instead he felt down. He's capable of nothing.
"I'm fine," His voice cracked and Jaehyun cursed himself.
"Can I come in?"
Jaehyun swallowed his saliva and mustered the calmest voice he could produce. "I'm fine, just… Please feed Bomin."
"You haven't had dinner," Jibeom said in a soft tone. Probably it would be better if Jibeom wasn't acting so nice to him.
"I'll have it later," He replied. "Just.. feed Bomin and eat. I'll wash the dishes later."
"Okay," Jibeom replied after a few seconds.
Jaehyun was glad Jibeom didn't insist him to come out, because he's a mess. He faintly heard Jibeom and Bomin's voice outside while he cried by himself inside the room. He felt worthless. He's suddenly thrown into a situation totally foreign and he didn't know how to cope up. Maybe it's only his feeling, but he felt everything was his fault.
Every second was torturing. No matter he tried to convince himself that he's still learning, in the end there would be a voice in his head reminding him how he lacked a lot in many aspects.
His tears had started to dry when Bomin burst through the door and ran towards him.
"Mommy, I finished my food," The toddler said proudly, and Jaehyun couldn't help smiling and reached out to hug him tight.
"Such a good boy. Bomin is a good boy," He said while dropping kisses to the kid's head and all over his face. His heart was still heavy and he felt guilty towards Bomin, he hoped Bomin could feel how sorry he was for being upset.
Bomin broke into tiny fit of giggles, but didn't make attempt to escape from his kiss attack. His cute laughter made Jaehyun smile. Bomin ended up cuddling on his lap, randomly blabbering about the cartoon characters he liked and playing with his shirt. Jaehyun let him be, only listening quietly while caressing the boy's hair.
"Bomin-ah," Jibeom called softly, waking him up from reverie. "Mommy hasn't had dinner yet. Let's play with daddy and let mommy eat."
"I want mommy," Bomin whined, and Jaehyun's heart softened.
"It's okay," He told Jibeom who looked unsatisfied.
"Please," He added, and his husband sighed.
He played with Bomin for a while, until the boy turned drowsy. Thankfully Bomin obeyed when he took the boy to brush teeth and change pajama. Jibeom appeared again when he's tucking Bomin to the bed.
"I'll put him to sleep," The man said. "I've reheat the food."
"It's 9 o'clock Jaehyun-ah."
There's desperation on Jibeom's face and he felt guilty, he kissed Bomin's forehead. "Bominnie sleep with daddy alright?"
"Want mommy," Bomin mumbled sleepily.
"Mommy is hungry," Jibeom stepped up. "If mommy don't eat, mommy will get sick. You don't want that right?"
"No," Bomin looked at his mother with glassy eyes. "I don't want mommy to get sick."
Jibeom smiled softly. "That's why let mommy eat hm? Mommy will come back here after he finish eating."
After getting approval, Jaehyun whispered good night to his baby and walked out from the room. The dining table was clean and a portion of food was set nicely on top of it: a bowl of rice, a plate of grilled fish and a bowl of steaming bean paste soup. The dishes had already been cleaned, he felt his heart dropped again.
Once again Jibeom showed his competency and yet here he was, crying over silly things. Not only being useless, he had made the whole mood turned sour.
Eating dinner alone made him feel lonely. If only he didn't get upset, he would have eaten dinner together with Jibeom and Bomin, and at this time, he would be cuddling Bomin to sleep.
With gloomy heart, he inhaled his food, trying to quickly finish his meal so he could let Jibeom rest.
As he stacked the dirty plates and bowls to the sink, Jibeom came out from the bedroom and quietly closed the door behind him.
"Is he looking for me?" Jaehyun asked, but Jibeom shook his head.
"No, he's already sleeping."
Jaehyun felt his body relaxed and started to begin washing the dishes. He heard Jibeom dragged the chair and sat on it. The man was sitting there silently even after he'd finished the task.
"Do you need something?" The situation was awkward. He sat on the chair opposite to his husband. Jibeom had that stern look on his face that made him nervous.
"Earlier," The lawyer started cautiously. "Why were you upset? Did something happen that I don't know?"
Of course it's about that. Jaehyun turned his head away. His reasoning was petty, he didn't know whether he should reveal it to Jibeom. Although Jibeom had been so kind, but he didn't think he knew him well enough to pour out his feeling.
It was silent and when he looked up, Jibeom was watching him with pained expression.
"Please don't hide anything from me," The pleading tone made Jaehyun's guilty feeling worsened. "I know you might still feel awkward with me.. But I'm your husband now, I should protect you, and I won't be able to do that if you hide things from me."
The answer made him stunned. His hands trembled because of the affection he received. Jibeom had always made him speechless because of his sincerity.
"I…" He stammered. "It's just stupid thoughts.."
"It's not stupid if it made you cry," Jibeom was fixing his eyes on him. "You can tell me, I promise I won't judge."
The offer was so tempting, and looking at Jibeom's face, how could he say no?
"I just had a very bad day," He sighed and slumped on his chair.
"Is it because of Bomin?"
"And what's the other reason?" Jibeom prodded softly.
Jaehyun lowered his head. "The moms in the daycare gossiping about me and I hate it."
"What did they say?" The sharpness on Jibeom's face shocked him. It reminded him of the days when they fought, but strangely this time he didn't feel intimidated.
"They.. hm.. I don't know, maybe it's me overthinking," He quickly said, trying to divert from the topic. It'll be embarrassing to say how the other moms thought he's no good for his husband, and Jibeom deserved more than him. It hurt his ego. "And I made a mess in the storage room. I was going to take vacuum cleaner, but it was stuck and and I pulled it, and the boxes fell-"
Jibeom's eyes grew big so he quickly added. "Nothing's broken. I've checked, the content of the box are mostly books and files. I've cleaned up, but there were so many of them and I had to pick Bomin up.. I'll continue tomorrow."
"Jaehyun-ah," Jibeom exasperatedly said. "I'm not mad."
"Are you okay? Did the boxes fall on you?"
Are you okay. That words again. Having no father since young age, and a busy working mother, he had always wanted to get pampered. But now he realized, it wasn't fun to get pampered all the time. He wanted to do something too. He wanted to worth something. His sighed in frustration, hands flew to his head and pressed them to his eyes.
Jibeom flew from his chair and kneeled on his side, gently trying to pry his hands from his face.
"Jaehyun, what happened? Is it headache?" His worrywart husband mode was back. He flinched and shrugged Jibeom weakly but the latter was persistent especially after he let out muffled sobs.
"Please, you make me worry. Say something," Jibeom pleaded, and something snapped in him.
"Then stop worrying over me!" He finally dropped his hands and gazed at his husband fiercely. "I've gotten into accident, but I'm healed. I might not remember, but I'm adult now, I'm not made from a piece of glass you need to protect 24/7 like a child-"
"I've never seeing you like a child!" Jibeom cut his rambling. The hard edge on the lawyers tone stopped all the complaints that was really to spill from his mouth. "You were unconscious for two months! Two fucking months! Do you know what I'm feeling? Huh? You know what I was feeling, waking up to an empty space, Bomin nagging, crying, looking for you and every time I had to lie that you have to go for a while. You have no idea the feeling of going to hospital everyday, welcomed with the sight of you unmoving like dead, nobody knows when you'll wake up. Everyday I went to see you, praying for a miracle and each time I went home with disappointment? And then you woke up, not remembering me, Bomin and our precious memory? It was hard! I just wanted to hug you but you freaked out. All you remember was the old me whom I detest.
I tried to understand. This whole thing must have made you so frustrated and confused. I tried so hard to make you feel better and live comfortably. Even if you can't remember, I want to make a new beautiful memory. I- I just.. I don't want anything bad happen to you again.. I want to keep you healthy.. and happy."
His heart was pinched painfully looking at Jibeom breaking down like this. His red teary eyes and his choked voice hurt him, he saw how broken his husband was, and he was overwhelmed by the love he got. How selfish he was, only thinking about himself, ignoring Jibeom's efforts and sacrifices. So he hugged his husband, holding him close to his chest.
"I'm sorry.." He cried, burying his face on the crook of Jibeom's neck. He felt the man held him tight, and started to bawl. It was as if he finally let out all the worry and frustration that he had been locked up inside his heart. Jibeom was clutching the back of his shirt and Jaehyun could feel wetness on his exposed neck.
"I didn't mean to treat you like a child," Jibeom said in a cracked voice.
"You didn't," He felt like a mother calming his son. He swallowed the lump on his throat. "It's my fault. I'm sorry."
He felt Jibeom shook his head but didn't say anything. Maybe it was the mellow atmosphere, or because of Jibeom had revealed his true feeling, he had the urge to open up to his husband.
"I'm so useless," Jaehyun sniffed. "I don't remember anything, I don't remember my own son, I don't know how to handle his tantrums. I can't cook and I can't do anything right. There's nothing I can do well."
The next second, Jibeom pulled out from hug and cupped his cheeks. His husband's face was wet of tears, and Jaehyun knew his own face didn't look any better.
"You're not useless, Jaehyun.. God.. What made you think like that."
"But it's true!" It was his turn to whine like a child. "I can't do a single thing right, unlike you. You do all the things I supposed to do and you did it so well. You do well even without me."
Anger flashed on Jibeom's eyes in instant. He looked like was going to yell, but he didn't. The lawyer's hands gripped his arms like steel. It hurt, but Jaehyun thought he deserved it.
Maybe it was because of Bomin sleeping in their room that stopped Jibeom from shouting. "Don't you dare say something like that again," He growled lowly. The lawyer looked like he was going to say somthing else, but instead, he locked eyes with his husband, nose flaring.
It felt like a lifetime when finally Jaehyun couldn't stand the tension and averted his gaze. Another tear fell and Jibeom's grip suddenly loosened.
"Having you by my side is enough for me," Jibeom broke the eerie silence. His voice was full of resignation, all the anger vanished away. "When you're unconscious and I don't know when you're going to wake up, I didn't even know if you're going to wake up, I realized that I didn't appreciate you enough. It I regret it so much. When you're in hospital, I had to take care of Bomin, and I experienced how hard it is to raise a child. I couldn't even reply message properly because Bomin always wanted my attention. I was always working, I ever left you for 2 months because of work, Bomin was only 6 months old, but when I came back, you welcomed me with a hug and a nice dinner, the house was in a good shape. I didn't think I can do that if I'm in your position."
"But I'm not the same anymore."
"You are still you," Jibeom stressed the word one by one. "You're always so sincere, always work hard to cover your weakness. I love you for who you are, not because what you’re capable of."
His husband's words made him cry. It's not a cry of self worthlessness, it's a cry of guilt and pain of forgetting how to love someone who loved him unconditionally.
Jaehyun woke up the next day, eyes heavy, but his heart was much lighter. He knew it would be a good day when Bomin dropped wet kisses all over his face, giggling.
"Good morning baby," He rolled to the side and replied Bomin's kisses. The toddler squealed and laughed.
"It tickles!" Bomin screamed in glee.
Jaehyun chuckled and dropped his final kiss on Bomin's nose.
"Where is daddy?" Bomin asked when he finally stopped laughing.
Jaehyun strained his ear, trying to catch any sound from outside the room. He usually would hear Jibeom making coffee or doing things in the morning, but that day, it's very quiet.
"Let's find daddy hm?"
Bomin jumped from the bed and dashed out from the room. Jaehyun shook his head and smiled at the energetic kid.
"Daddy!" Bomin fumbled with the door knob, and pushed the door open. It opened with a loud bang. Jaehyun was going to reprimand the toddler but stopped when he saw Jibeom inside the room.
The lawyer was obviously still sleeping until Bomin barged into the room. His hair was messy, eyes bleary, and still slumping on Bomin's small drawing table. He was awake now, with Bomin jumping on his back.
Jaehyun eyed the piles of papers on the floor and the laptop was opened although the screen was black. A wave of guilt rushed into him. They had talked until late at night, and it was his fault that he kept Jibeom from doing his work. He wondered until what time did Jibeom stay awake last night.
"Bomin-ah, please get down, you're so heavy now."
He was snapped from his trance when he heard Jibeom groaning. Quickly, he rushed forward and hoisted Bomin away from his husband.
Jibeom seemed to have just realized his presence. "Oh," He ruffled his hair, his eyes searching for his phone, and widened when he saw the time. He jolted awake, and immediately gathered his files and checked his laptop.
"Go outside first, I'll help daddy," He patted Bomin's head, and thankfully the boy ran out without protest.
He gingerly knelt and helped to pick the papers on the floor.
Jibeom glanced at him. "Thanks," He said, receiving the papers Jaehyun handed to him. "It's alright, I can manage this."
Jaehyun nodded. "I'll make breakfast for you."
"Thank you," The lawyer stuffing the papers and laptop into his bag. "I'll take shower first."
Jaehyun hummed and left to the kitchen. There was not much time left, Jibeom was in a hurry, so he resorted to the simplest breakfast: a toasted bread and peanut butter. Jibeom came to the kitchen five minutes later, tie dangling on his neck and dress shirt untucked. The man didn't say anything, and immediately took a big bite of his toast.
"Do you want some coffee?" Jaehyun offered, but Jibeom shook his head.
"I'll just buy coffee in the station."
Jaehyun watched Jibeom inhaling his food in amazement. The food was gone just in a few blinks.
"I'll leave now," Jibeom announced after gulping water. It dripped a bit to his shirt, but he paid no heed.
Jaehyun trailed his husband to the door, silently watching him kissing Bomin goodbye.
"Be careful," He said after Jibeom tripped on his feet as he tried to wear his shoes as quickly as possible.
Jibeom looked at him for a few seconds. "Call me if something happen. Please."
Jaehyun suppressed a smile. He didn't want to burden his husband with his little problems, but he had promised himself to make an effort in this relationship. "Alright."
The relief and happy smile on Jibeom's face lingered in his head for the rest if the day.
They had their first family vacation that weekend. It was a public holiday on Friday thus Jibeom planned a 3 days trip to Sokcho. He was excited, as well as Bomin. The trip was filled with the child's cute blabbers and laughter.
It was quite tiring to bring an energetic Bomin for a trip. The boy was always excited and running around in his huge jacket, but so far he enjoyed it. A vacation was a great choice to clear his mind, and hopefully he could get closer to Jibeom and Bomin.
They stayed at a hotel located in seaside. The place was convenient since a lot of restaurants nearby and the beach was just a few minutes walk away. Bomin was delighted, as soon as he woke up from short nap in the car and got into the hotel, his energy reached maximum level.
Jaehyun sat on a mat he spread on the sand, watching Jibeom holding the toddler while playing with water. He support his arms on his knees, his heart felt warm. He remembered how awkward Jibeom holding Bomin after he was born, but now, he's natural. Four years had made Jibeom an expert in childcare. Never once he let his eyes off Bomin, keeping him safe.
They spent the day at the beach, playing water, sand, and bubbles. By the time they went back to hotel after dinner, Bomin was already drowsy. Jaehyun ran a quick shower for his baby and put on his pajama. Bomin got freshened up a bit after shower, but once his head hit pillow, he immediately went to dreamland. Jaehyun smiled watching Bomin's sleeping dace and gave a kiss on his forehead.
When he looked up, he caught Jibeom watching at them with unreadable expression.
"Uh.. Why?" He awkwardly asked. Jibeom looked away.
"Nothing. You can take shower, I'll clean up." Without waiting for answer, Jibeom had started to unpack their bag.
Jaehyun took a quick shower, and when he went out, Jibeom had already put their empty suitcases on the side of the room. His husband was talking to room service at the door, and came back in holding 3 pillows on his hands.
"I'll put it on the bed so Bomin won't fall down."
Jibeom put 2 pillows on the bed, beside the sleeping toddler, and one on the couch. He was stunned for a while, realizing that there's only 1 bed, and judging from where he put his pillow, Jibeom was going to sleep on the couch.
The couch was small, he didn't think it could fit Jibeom. And the bed was big enough. It's funny that they've shared intimate moments before but now that he'd forgotten about it, they have became strangers.
He lay on the left side of the bed after drying his hair, eyes wide awake staring at the ceiling. The sound of water had stopped, and he knew Jibeom would go out from bathroom any moment. He was nervous, but he knew what to do. He couldn't let Jibeom sleep uncomfortably after driving for hours.
Jibeom came out from bathroom with black shorts and shirt, towel on his head. He closed the bathroom door slowly and sat on the couch, checking his phone. Jaehyun fiddled with his fingers, hesitant to say it, afraid of what Jibeom would think.
He struggled with himself and didn't find courage until finally he spoke up after Jibeom put down his phone and lay down.
"The bed is enough for the three of us."
There was silence that followed afterwards. Jaehyun bit his lips. "The couch is so small, you can't even straightened your legs."
From where he's lying down, he could only see the top of Jibeom's head. He saw it moved slightly. "It's okay for me."
His ego was slightly hurt. It felt like a rejection although he knew well that Jibeom only didn't want him to be uncomfortable. He get off the bed and walked to the couch, stopping when he's right beside his husband.
"Come on. Don't make me feel bad. It's clearly not comfortable here," He waved his hand over Jibeom's bent legs.
"It's really fine-"
Not wanting to argue longer, he reached his husband's wrist and tugged it.
"I won't give up until you move to the bed."
Jibeom looked at their connected hand and then to his face. His eyes were searching. "Are you sure?"
He nodded his head. "I'd like you to."
They settled themselves on the bed, sandwiching Bomin in the middle. Their distance was not close, but Jibeom's presence made him nervous. For him, it was the first time ever he shared with Jibeom, and he felt so self conscious. He's even more nervous that Jibeom shifted and lay sideways facing him.
He glanced at his husband, who was staring at Bomin's face, his expression seemed conflicted. He wondered why.
"Jibeom-ah," He called, voice barely a whisper so Bomin won't wake up.
Jibeom looked up and their eyes met. Jaehyun felt his stomach churned, Jibeom's gaze was so deep, looking through his soul. He felt naked and vulnerable under that gaze.
"Can't sleep? I still can move," Jibeom offered and Jaehyun quickly shook his head.
"Do you think I'm that cruel? Letting you sleep uncomfortably like that?" He frowned.
Jibeom chuckled. "I just hope we can have fun in this trip, not to be more awkward."
"I don't want you to pull your muscle. You still need to run after Bomin."
They both laughed silently at the light joke. Jibeom's eyes turned brighter and it somehow satisfying. He's proud of himself.
Jaehyun shifted and lying down facing his husband. "What's the plan tomorrow?"
"Plucking strawberries. We can make some jam. It'll be a good experience for Bomin."
"Sound great. I love strawberries."
Jibeom's lips curled up. "I know."
He's lucky the room was dark, or else Jibeom would see his flustered face.
"Do you enjoy trip?" Jibeom broke the brief silence.
"Yeah, I had fun. And Bomin is very happy. I'm happy if he's happy."
The exchanged smile, and they found himself in comfortable silence. Jaehyun felt his eyes were getting heavier.
"Jibeom-ah," He murmured drowsily.
It's less awkward now. Jibeom was still sleeping alone in Bomin's room, but their interaction was getting natural. He can talk to Jibeom without having to think twice, and Jibeom, although sometimes still did, had slowly stop looking at him like he's going to trip on his feet and broke his head.
It was Sunday afternoon, Jaehyun's cleaning up the apartment. Joochan and Donghyun had offered to babysit Bomin for a day, and he was quick to accept the offer. Jibeom was very busy lately, and he's currently sleeping. He's worried Bomin's loudness would wake Jibeom up. Bomin was so excited he packed the boy's stuffs and sent the boy to next door. Bomin didn't even bid him goodbye.
He made another batch of kimbap and put it on the table for Jibeom when woke up, he decided to take the broom and sweep crumbs that Bomin left.
He's nearly finished, when he remembered the previous day when he's clearing the dining table, he found Bomin playing with the drawer below television. Jibeom who was having phone call just took the things Bomin threw out from the drawer and carelessly stuffed them back inside before picking Bomin up and put the boy on the couch.
Jibeom's bedroom door was still closed, no sign his husband had waken up. He thought he could wait while organizing the drawers. He had never opened them before, so he's a bit curious what's inside.
Opening the drawer, he was greeted with a cream colored cloth, and once he took the cloth, he met his and Jibeom's face. He was stunned looking at their happy smiling face. The outfit and the surrounding was familiar. A second later he realized it was taken during their wedding.
He lifted the framed photo to see it clearly, only to find that there were more framed photos inside the drawer. They're mostly Bomin's and family pictures. An old photo of him and Jibeom caught his eyes. They looked younger, not much different from high school days. Posing in front of the sea, Jibeom's arm curled around his shoulders. There's a familiar feeling floated around him. It's like he remember the feeling when he took the photo. He can almost smell the sea scent.
The sound of door clicking open made him jump. He whipped his head to the source of the sound.
"Sorry I wake up late-"
Jibeom stopped talking when the barely awake man spotted him holding the framed photos. Jaehyun squirmed. It's not illegal to see photos right? But why did he feel like he's caught stolen something?
"Why did you keep it here?" He blurted out.
Jibeom rubbed his nape, it's funny because both of look like they're busted. The lawyer walked closer. His eyes scanned the photos and he shrugged. "I just think displaying these photos won't do any good to you. It's better for you to take things slowly rather than expose you to the past that you have forgotten. I don't want you to get pressured."
Once again, he was stunned because of his husband. Was this thoughtful man really the same man whom he detested so much during his school days? How could someone completely changed like he's a different person?
"Is that why you didn't restore the data in my phone?"
Jibeom's eyes widened comically. "What? H-how-"
"Youngtaek helped me," He said and Jibeom muttered something under his breath. "I'm glad he did."
Jibeom's gaze on him was hard and full or worry. "So.. You've looked through it."
Embarrassment crept into him as he remembered the flirty conversation and some intimate photos he found in his gallery.
"You like to take pictures and videos at random time and random place. You took most of these," Jibeom slightly smiled and pointed at the photos. The lawyer suddenly stopped as if he noticed something. "Where's Bomin?"
Jaehyun was partly glad Jibeom didn't discuss it any further and partly disappointed. They couldn't be like this forever. Bomin asked him a few days ago why he had never slept together with Jibeom, and why they had never kissed and hugged again. It's not that he's ready, but he wanted to try.
Jibeom had showed him love and respect, and it was enough for him to accept this reality. Youngtaek's approval encouraged him. If the Jaehyun before accident could love Jibeom, then the Jaehyun now, must be able to love Jibeom too.
"He's in Joochan and Donghyun's."
"They offered, and Bomin wanted to. Oh, I have made kimbap, you can eat."
Jibeom nodded and started digging in his breakfast. while Jibeom was occupied with his food, Jaehyun silently took out all the framed photos, and began putting them in random places inside their apartment. That's why the apartment was empty, Jibeom had taken down all the things that could make the atmosphere more homey.
Traces of their memories placed in random places gave warmth to their house, and Jaehyun was satisfied with the result.
"What are you doing?" Jibeom was watching like a hawk from the dining table.
Jaehyun acted nonchalant. "It looks better like this isn't it?" It didn't look like model apartment anymore."
Jibeom surprisingly looked sullen. "You don't have to do it, you know."
Jaehyun frowned, slightly offended. Did Jibeom really think he hated his husband that much? The timidness frustrated him. He couldn't blame him though. His memories was stuck in high school days when they're still enemies. He wanted to show Jibeom that it's wrong.
"I want to," He firmly said, locking his eyes with his husband to show that he meant what he said. "I do this because I want to. And these photos don't make me feel pressured or anxious. It makes me happy. And looking at the photos and videos from my old phone didn't freak me out too. It's embarrassing, but that's all. To be honest, I'm relieved instead. Watching them, I don't feel clueless anymore. It's overwhelming at first, but it comforts me I can see proof of my past that I've forgotten. At least I'm assured that everything.. This.. Is real. You shouldn't have hidden it from me."
Jibeom inhaled, and looked away and ruffled his hair in frustration. His kimbap left forgotten. "You know, it's hard for me. I'm not sure how you see our situation now. You hated me, that's what you remembered. Your violent reaction back then in hospital was a reality check for me, it reminded me how bad our relationship, and that bad relationship was all what you remember. It was a miracle that you chose me, but now, the new you," Jibeom waved his hand to his husband. "I don't know you'll love me the same, or whether you'll ever love me back."
The desperation was thick in his voice, and it's enough to make Jaehyun move his legs. He strode towards Jibeom in confidence. So that's really what Jibeom was thinking. He was right, and he still stood in what he believed. He stopped until he stood in front of his husband.
"If the old me loved you, then I can love you too."
Jibeom didn't move, so Jaehyun took Jibeom's hand and made his husband look at him back. "I can't remember how I loved you, but make me love you again."
Without any word, Jibeom pulled him and embraced him tight. They're so close he could sense Jibeom's body trembled. Jaehyun brought his hands up and circled it around his husband. His heart ached thinking he's the reason of the pain. But he promised to fix it.
He wanted to fix it. He had to.
They sat side by side, shoulders touched each other. After the heart to heart talk, the awkwardness between them had slightly dissipated. It's like a whole getting know each other with your future husband. Jaehyun had never experienced it before, so he didn't know what to do. He also had to make sure he didn't say anything stupid, or else he'll hurt Jibeom's heart.
"Tell me about you," He said, fiddling with his fingers. He glanced at Jibeom, who was also glancing at him. "You told me a lot about Bomin, but not about you."
A ghost smile appeared on Jibeom's face. "What do you want to know?"
Jaehyun pursed his lips. "I don't know.. Your favorite food?"
"Sweet and sour pork."
"I don't know. Blue, maybe?"
"Hm.. shoe size?"
Jibeom sent him a questioning gaze, but he only shrugged.
"Train or bus?"
"Good taste. Ice cream or sherbet?"
"Of course ice cream."
"Strawberry or vanilla."
Jibeom chuckled. "Chocolate. Is this a questionnaire?"
Jaehyun smiled. "Summer or winter?"
"Winter, but I prefer spring."
Jaehyun's eyes widened. "What? That's.. 2 months ago!"
Jaehyun felt horrible. "Oh god, I'm sorry I don't know."
"You don't know," Jibeom repeated his words, holding his hand gently. "It's fine."
Jaehyun palmed his face. "But still.. Hey, should we do a late celebration?"
Jibeom's eye sparkled. He looked hesitant but happy. "How about we go out and have lunch today?
It would be like a date, Jaehyun thought. He smiled. "Sure."
Jaehyun didn't think he would have that much fun going out with Jibeom. Within the 4 months of his 'new life', he hadn't hang out together even once. They only went out on weekends where Bomin would tag along and the toddler would be their main focus. Now it's different when there's just the two of them.
Jibeom brought him to an open themed Korean restaurant which used to be his favorite. It's perfect for sunny but cool weather. They sat on one of the corner, and continued their Q&A session while eating.
"Cola or sprite?"
"Sprite. We both love sprite more than cola."
Jaehyun hummed. "Right. You're right. Kimchi jiggae or jjampong?"
"Kimchi jiggae. I think your hate towards seafood had rubbed on me."
Jaehyun laughed. "Beef or pork?"
"Beef of course."
"You have bad taste," Jaehyun scrunched his nose.
"Beef is the one," Jibeom countered.
They have finished their meal and just relaxing while drinking makkeoli.
"Samgyeopsal is the one," Jaehyun protested before he drunk his makkeoli. "Hm, this is nice. I can't believe I can finally drink this now."
"Not too much, that would be your last cup," Jibeom said sternly. "You'll get drunk."
"Will buy this on my own tomorrow."
Jibeom watched him in amusement. "You do always buy a bottle and keep it in the fridge."
Jaehyun hesitated, afraid of the answer. "Did I get drunk often?"
Sensing the worry on his husband, Jibeom chuckled. "No, no. You just drank like a cup a day? Or at least that's what you told me."
"Hey, Jibeom-ah. Tell me about me."
Jibeom out down his cup, expression suddenly turned serious briefly, then he smiled teasingly. "You're beautiful."
"W-what, I didn't mean like that. I mean.. tell me about what did I do after high school."
He sent a fail glare to the lawyer which was only replied by a grin. "You went to university majoring in literature."
"So I did it?" Jaehyun asked excitedly. "I graduated from high school and accepted in university? Which university?"
Jibeom sighed. "You always underestimate yourself. You graduated with good score, and yes you're accepted in Seokang University."
"Really?" His eyes sparkled. "Ahh, nice to know what I planned came true."
"It's because you worked hard for it, you deserved it, really."
"So what's after university?"
"We went to military," Jibeom answered. "Then we applied for job. I said this before. You're a junior editor in book publishing company."
Jaehyun's brow creased. "Why did it sound so easy?"
Jibeom laughed crisply. "It sounded easy now, but it was hard back then. You went through rejections of course, but I don't think we should talk about it. But you're great in what you do."
"How many rejections did I have?" Jaehyun stubbornly asked.
Jibeom chewed his lips. "Around 5 times I guess?"
The answer made his shoulders slumped. "Five times are a lot."
"But in the end you landed a good one," His husband consoled him. "And you loved the job, the people, you cried when you resigned."
"I did?" Jaehyun rubbed his nape and chuckled. "Then I'm lucky I have a happy life."
Jibeom took his last sip of makkeoli and smiled. "Let's go? I want to show you something."
They rode train to the east side of the city, and walked for 10 minutes until they reached a green clearing. The clearing was crowded, mostly are youngsters laying mat on top of grass and mothers taking their children for a walk. Jibeom led him to an empty space and sat down. "Come," he patted the empty space beside him, and Jaehyun followed.
"Why this place?" Jaehyun looked around him. "If we're going to the park, why not the park near the apartment?"
Jibeom leaned back, supported his body with his hands. "It's the place where we hung out often. We had our first date here, eating chicken. Before you call me cheap, that's what we agreed on."
Jaehyun mimicked Jibeom's gesture and made himself comfortable. "I wasn't even going to criticize you," He chuckled. "I like chicken. But you're very rich, you should have treat me more expensive food."
Jibeom raised his brows. "Where did you get that information?"
Jaehyun glanced at his husband. "Everybody in school knows. I saw your driver picked you up at school with import car several times."
Jibeom looked unhappy. "That's my father's money, not mine."
The bitterness of his voice reminded Jaehyun how upset Jibeom look when they talked about his father. It made him curious.
"You don't have to answer if you don't want to, but.. What happened with you and your father?"
"It's alright, pretend I didn't ask," He said again when Jibeom didn't answer him. Jaehyun cursed himself for ruining the mood. The atmosphere around them changed, it's filled with uneasiness. Rather that mad, he was sorry. This should be Jibeom's late birthday outing, he shouldn't remind the man of his bad relationship with his father. "Sorry."
Jibeom sighed. "It's not your fault. I just don't like to talk about it."
"I understand," Jaehyun nodded. "But.. did I know? Did you tell me about it before?"
"I told you," Jibeom turned serious. "I've never hidden anything from you-"
The lawyer suddenly paused, then he groaned. Jaehyun definitely didn't expect the reaction. "Hey, Jibeom-ah. I know, relax. Sorry, I didn't mean to worsen the mood."
Jibeom looked calmer but still upset. "No, no. I'm sorry," Suddenly he felt he needed to explain himself. "Before you got into accident, I've told you everything. You've seen my in my lowest point of life, I had nothing to hide from you. But the new you, all of this.. I'm still adjusting myself. I've still trying to come to term that you've forgotten our memories, and I'm not sure you can accept me yet, not that I doubt you-"
"Jibeom," Jaehyun held his husband's hand, stopping him from his rambling. "It's okay, I understand." His small heart hurt because Jibeom hadn't completely trusted him, but Jaehyun couldn't blame him for that.
He gazed deeply to his husband's eyes to show how he meant his words. Jibeom gingerly touched their intertwined hands.
"I'll tell you.. I promise.. Please give me time."
Jaehyun knew they're both learning. He's trying to accept Jibeom and Jibeom's trying to cope with insecurity. They both needed to take a step closer. Or maybe he should take the first step.
He smiled, hoping Jibeom would catch his sincerity. He's still curious of what happened with Jibeom and his father, but he trusted Jibeom. He had been trusting him before he forgot everything anyway. "You don't owe me anything. Take all the time you need."
The date became frequent. Sometimes they would meet somewhere to have lunch during Jibeom's lunch break, or sometimes they just enjoyed talking while watching movies when Bomin's sleeping. They got to know each other one more time, and Jaehyun slowly knew what made him like Jibeom.
He felt the chemistry. Being with Jibeom made everything feel right. He didn't think he had to be someone else, Jibeom seemed to know everything about him. The lawyer didn't even bat his eyes when he did something people found stupid and gross stupid like picking out coriander from his food, or mixing his fried rice, kimchi and soup. He tended to keep all the boxes of everything he bought, that explained their full storage room. Jibeom sometimes told him it's unnecessary, but once he insisted that they might need it someone, he immediately kept quiet and let him be.
"Was I annoying?" He voiced out his thought while they're watching rerun of Running Man under the dim light in their living room. The TV volume was adjusted small so Bomin won't wake up.
Jibeom glanced at him curiously. "Where is it coming from?"
Jaehyun shrugged looking nonchalant, but honestlyĺ it had been bugging him for a while. Of course Jibeom had flaw, when he's not busy he gamed too much and sometimes he left his things scattered around, but attitude wise, he'd been very kind, patient and thoughtful. In the contrary, he had some quirks that people often criticized him. Also, saying this with his own words hurt his ego, but he had to admit that he's petty. He got angry over some simple things. He wondered what Jibeom liked about him.
Jibeom tore his attention from TV completely and sat facing him. "I thought we've talked about this," He said gently, carefully.
Keeping his face straight, Jaehyun said, "I just wondered why you've never gotten angry. I mean, even when I dropped your phone and cracked the screen, or when I dropped the pot and left dent on the floor and neighbor filed complain. And I can't make Bomin calm down when he throws tantrum. If you could tolerate that, means you've experienced worse things that made this normal for you."
Jibeom had the audacity to bit his lips to stop himself from grinning. "You've done worse things, yes, but for your peace of mind, I'd rather you not know."
Jaehyun grimaced. He's really a walking accident. Jibeom was right, maybe it's better not to know what disaster he had caused.
"But it's not like I've never done wrong things," Jibeom soft words made him sighed.
"You're too good for your own good," He mumbled while looking at the ceiling.
"And you've never given yourself enough credit."
Jibeom was surprisingly serious, almost looked like he's offended.
"You practically saved my life, I mean.. If you weren't there, I won't be able to live."
Jaehyun blinked, the words he wanted to say died in his mouth. Jibeom mentioned about him saving his husband, but he didn't think much about that. He thought it wasn't that serious.
He really wanted to ask, but he remembered how Jibeom didn't want to talk about it, and his expression now wasn't good either. He resorted to other question.
"I want to ask you something," He said, catching Jibeom's attention.
"What is it?"
"Promise me don't laugh."
Jibeom smiled, the uneasiness slowly disappeared. "Okay."
Jaehyun huffed, it's embarrassing to say it with his own words, but he needed to confirm it. "Youngtaek said it was me who chased after you. Is that right? Hey, you promised me not to laugh!"
He was embarrassed and Jibeom's chuckle definitely didn't make things easy for him.
"Sorry," Jibeom stifled his laugh with his hand. "But.. Why so sudden?"
Jaehyun scowled. "So it's true or not?"
Jibeom's face softened, making Jaehyun squirmed. "It's true."
Jaehyun gaped for a while before he buried his face in his hands. "Oh my God, what was I thinking?"
Jibeom tugged his hands away, the lawyer was frowning. "Why does it sound like you regret it? It's not something bad."
"Please don't tell me I did stupid embarrassing things," Jaehyun sighed in despair. As long as he remembered, he had never been the one who initiate romantic relationship before. He had 2 crushes in his entire life, but it's not to the point he made a move on them. He's shy and reserved and he must have gone crazy.
"You followed me, pestering me, trying to talk to me," Jibeom's eyes twinkled as if he's remembering good old days. "It was annoying at first. I kept push you away but your perseverance should get gold medal."
Jaehyun groaned. "You must be lying. We hated each other. I hated you so much it's impossible I did that kind of thing."
Once he said that, he regretted it at once. Jibeom's smile faltered, but he didn't look that said. "I know right," Jibeom said. "That's why I though you're weird. But that's what made me realized I've been blind this whole time, like.. You're right in front of my nose for years and I didn't see you. It's bizarre right? To think about it.. How come we become like this when we had such a bad past. But you made this happen, Jaehyun-ah. You truly miracle to me."
Why suddenly the atmosphere turned mellow and romantic was unpredictable. Jaehyun ducked his head to avoid Jibeom's moony eyes.
"So what made me like you?"
"I don't know," Jibeom said softly. "You changed in a night. The previous day we were yelling at each other and the next day.. Although I insulted you, you weren't mad. Instead, you cared for me like nobody else."
Jaehyun peeked over his husband, pondering. It seemed that he knew something Youngtaek and Jibeom didn't know. But what is it? What made him suddenly changed his attitude towards Jibeom? What made his hate towards Jibeom suddenly disappear?
He ruffled his hair in frustration. "I can't remember."
Jibeom gently pried his hands away from his messy hair. "It doesn't matter, what important is what we have now right?"
The smile of his husband face made him dumbfounded. Jibeom was handsome, he acknowledged that ever since they're in high school, but at the moment, he wanted to hug his husband. He held himself back of course.
"If it weren't you, I don't know what I would have become now. I don't think I'll have my career, I won't have Bomin, I won't be this happy." Jibeom was emotional, he could hear it in his tone. "That's why.. Never belittle yourself. You had no idea how much you've changed my life to the better. It doesn't matter that you can't do. We're in this together."
There were butterflies in his stomach. It's indescribable feeling he had never felt before. But most of all, he's glad it's Jibeom, a man who understood and accepted him, who let him walk in his own pace.
Suddenly he was overwhelmed with emotion, so he did what his heart told him to. He scooted closer, and circled his arms around his husband's stomach. He could hear Jibeom's rapid heartbeat as he lay his head on the lawyer's chest.
It felt right.
"Is this okay?" Jibeom was tense but Jaehyun felt a pair of arms touched his back.
Jibeom who prioritized his feeling above all.
"Yes. It's more than okay."
That night was like a turning point of their relationship. They were fine before, with Jibeom keeping his space and Jaehyun tried made effort to make things less awkward. But now, it was like they're back to their teenage days, with small subtle touch and shy smile.
Jaehyun thought he must have started to love Jibeom. If feeling giddy whenever they're close, or just missing Jibeom when the man was at work were not indication of love, he didn't know what else would that mean. Jibeom's smile and laughter had become his most favorite thing in the world, after Bomin of course.
Talking about Bomin, the boy was literally a walking sunshine. His smile could light up the dark room. The boy was smart, as the daycare teacher said, and a charmer. He knew how to take other people's heart. Jaehyun loved him so much.
"Mommy, I'm hungry!" Bomin whined after they walked out from the daycare. He was lucky Bomin didn't insist to play in the playground before they went home. He didn't want to mingle much with the moms.
"You didn't finish your lunch, Bominnie?" Jaehyun was sure he packed a lot of food for Bomin for snack time.
"Seungwoo's mommy forgot his snack box so I shared my food."
Jaehyun cooed. He lifted his son up and peppered him with kisses. "My Bominnie is very kind."
Bomin giggled cutely.
"I'm a good boy right, mommy?"
"Of course you are," Jaehyun put Bomin down and patted his head affectionately.
"So, can we eat pancake? Because I'm a good boy I can eat pancake right?"
Bomin shot him a hopeful stare and Jaehyun's heart was weak for that. "Of course, baby. Good boy deserves a reward."
Jaehyun laughed as Bomin jumping and running here and there. It's nice to see his baby being so excited and happy, but he needed to be alert too. He held Bomin's hand, making sure he won't bump into other people or walk out from the lane.
They stopped at a pancake shop, 2 stations away from home.
"Is daddy at home?" Bomin suddenly asked, his cheeks puffed out, full of pancake.
Jaehyun supported his head with his hand, enjoying to watch his baby boy eating. "I'm not sure, baby. Daddy said he won't have dinner at home so I think he'll come back late."
He felt sorry especially when he saw Bomin's face turned gloomy. Jibeom had been very busy lately and often come home late. Bomin had been asking for him, even refusing to sleep to wait his father to come home.
"I miss daddy," The toddler said, pouting.
Jaehyun sighed. He ran his fingers through Bomin's soft hair. "I miss him too, baby. But once daddy's not busy anymore, I'll talk to daddy to bring us to Everland, okay."
The spark on Bomin's eyes reappeared. "I want to go to Everland!"
"Alright, that's a promise," Jaehyun chuckled.
They went home hand in hand, both stomach full, and happy. Bomin chattered nonstop beside him, making him laugh all the way to home. People in the train cooed at Bomin, and Jaehyun felt a swell of pride in his heart.
The weather was good and Jaehyun thought it would be good if Jibeom could be with them.
Like fate arranged it, Jibeom appeared when they're about to exit the station. The man probably had just boarded off the train from work.
"Daddyy!!!!" Bomin screamed on top of the lungs, making people around them turned their gaze to them, and ran towards his father.
"My baby boy," Jibeom lifted him up, and Bomin immediately latched to him like a koala. "What are you doing here?"
"I ate pancake with mommy," Bomin replied, and finally Jibeom looked at his husband, his smile was wide.
It was an awkward greeting, Jaehyun smiled back. "Bomin was a good boy today at school, so I treated him pancakes."
"Oh really?" The father shifted his attention to Bomin again. "What did Bomin do today?"
"Seungwoo's mommy forgot to put his snack box into his back so I share my food with him," Bomin said proudly as he's just winning a competition.
"That's my boy!" Jibeom nuzzled his nose to Bomin who was laughing in glee. "Hmm, you smell like a pancake."
Jaehyun's heart was full with affection and happiness. It's real. This was his family, and he loved it so much. He had a good husband and an awesome son. Everything's perfect for him.
He was pulled back from his reverie when Jibeom tugged his hand and interlaced their fingers together. Jaehyun silently looked at his connected hands and bit his lips to stop himself from smiling too wide.
"How's your day?" Jibeom asked as they walked out from the station.
"It's good," He nodded. "I cleared all of the boxes from storage room."
"You did?" Jibeom's eyebrows raised up and disappeared under his fringe. The lawyer kept his fringe down lately because he's always in rush in the morning. But Jaehyun liked it, his husband looked even younger and soft.
Jaehyun shrugged as if it wasn't a big deal while in fact he was faced in the biggest dilemma in his life when throwing out old stuffs. "The card boxes are old anyway and they store dust. Now the storage room is spacious enough to keep Bomin's bike."
Jibeom was going to say something but Bomin suddenly chimed in, "Daddy, do you have to go to work tomorrow?" The boy looked up to his father with puppy eyes.
"I have to go for a while," Jibeom said apologetically. "I'll be back before lunch."
"But tomorrow is Saturday," Jaehyun interjected, slightly disappointed.
"Yeah I know," Jibeom squeezed his hand. "I'm sorry, but I'll be back soon, then I can take you go somewhere."
"But I miss you, daddy," Bomin pouted. "Mommy said he misses you too. Can you just stay at home tomorrow?"
Jaehyun bowed his head in embarrassment while Jibeom smiled wide. "Its that so Bominnie? You and mommy miss me?"
"I also miss you," Jibeom kissed the crown of Bomin's head. "I keep on thinking about you at work."
"Really?" Bomin laughed. "You miss mommy too?"
Jaehyun wanted to tell Bomin to stop talking. He tried to pull his hand away, but Jibeom held him tight.
"Of course I miss mommy too. I always miss mommy."
When Jaehyun looked up his husband, the other man was looking at him with a smile. He ducked his head again, but smiling this time.
"I promised Bomin to go to Everland. Do you think you can make it?" He tried to divert the topic. "It doesn't have to be soon, maybe when you're free."
Jibeom adjusted Bomin in his hold, his hands must be cramped, but he didn't complain. "Sure, anything for you."
In the end they didn't make it to go to Everland.
It was a bright Saturday morning. Bomin had just gotten out from shower with Jibeom and Jaehyun was checking things in their bags. The doorbell rang and he rushed to the door, wondering who's coming at this time.
"Who is it?" His voice faltered when he saw a tall man in suit in front of the door, moreover when the man bowed tp him politely.
Jaehyun hesitantly bowed back. "Can I help you?"
"I'm looking for Kim Jibeom."
"J-Jibeom?" Truthfully, he was worried. Jibeom had never had people from work coming over.
Just as he was about to call Jibeom, the said man came approaching them. "Who-"
The man in suit bowed to Jibeom.
"What are you doing here?"
Jaehyun was shocked to hear the displeasure in Jibeom's voice. His husband sounded angry, it was the first time he heard Jibeom spoke with that tone. He immediately rushed to his husband and held Jibeom's arm as in effort to calm him down. The hostility didn't faze the stranger, his face was still calm.
"Mr. Kim is in hospital. His condition is critical right now. He wishes to see you."
Jaehyun wondered who Mr. Kim was, especially Jibeom's jaw clenched, body tense.
"I have no business with him."
Jibeom glanced at him briefly before looking back to the man. "Please leave."
The man bowed again. "Mr. Kim badly wanted to see you, young master. He's very sorry. I beg you, just this once."
That's when it dawned to him, the Mr. Kim was probably Jibeom's father. Jibeom expression was hard but Jaehyun could see hesitancy and dilemma in behind that facade.
"Jibeom-ah, I think you need to go."
Jibeom looking at him as if asking for help. "We have plan-"
"We can go next time. Bomin will understand."
It would take time to tell the news to Bomin, but this was important. He had no idea how's his condition, but the man said Jibeom's father was in critical condition. Jibeom needed to clear their relationship before it's too late.
"Jibeom please," Jaehyun sternly looked at this husband. "We won't go anywhere before you meet your father."
After Jibeom left, Jaehyun had to bribe a sulking Bomin with treats and a date to the indoor playground nearby. The toddler threw a fit when he learned that their trip to Everland had been cancelled. No matter how much he tried to explain the situation, Bomin won't accept it. Jaehyun couldn't even get angry, Bomin probably still didn't understand the situation.
He tried hard to make Bomin cheered up while his mind wandered to Jibeom. He wanted to go with his husband to hospital, but Bomin was crying and screaming, and Jibeom told him just to stay at home to accompany his son.
Jibeom hadn't come home even after asleep. Jaehyun had been sitting in the dining table, glancing to the clock from time to time. There's no news from Jibeom except from the short message saying he'll be home late. The message was from 6 hours ago. He's worried, and the eerie silence in the house didn't make him feel better.
Finally, when it's 11.45pm, the front door clicked open. Jaehyun rushed to the door, and found Jibeom with bowed head, his shoulders slumped.
"Jibeom-ah," He called softly.
His heart dropped to his stomach when he saw Jibeom's red and swollen eyes. Jibeom didn’t say a word, but Jaehyun knew all his husband needed was comfort and someone to lean on. He didn't hesitate. He approached his steady steps, and pulled the man into his embrace.
The reaction was almost instant. Jibeom leaned into him, gripping his back and started to sob. The lawyer cried hard, as if he's letting go of what he'd been holding on for so long. He didn't know what happened. Question could wait. All he could do was to be there for his husband.
Jibeom's father was a handsome, just like his son. Jaehyun wished he could see the man in person, not through the picture in funeral. He sat quietly on the side, wearing black suit similar with Jibeom. Bomin's sleeping on his lap, while Jibeom was greeting people who came to pay respect.
There was no familiar faces, except for Youngtaek, Donghyun, Joochan and some old schoolmates. He didn't know them well though, because he and Jibeom both had different circle of friends back then.
He was so bored sitting down all the time. He should be mourning, but he felt nothing except for sympathy to his husband. He didn't remember meeting the man before, he had zero attachment to his father in law.
It was late when he came home from funeral. Bomin was fast asleep in his arms. He hesitated for a while before going to Bomin's room and put the toddler on the bed. With gentlest movement, he took Bomin's clothes off and put pajamas on him.
Jibeom was still out to meet his father's lawyer, but his husband had said it won't take a long time. Jaehyun immediately took shower, in hope that he's clean already when Jibeom arrived. He's drowsy, but he needed to wait for his husband. Aside from that one time Jibeom broke down, he had never seen the man crying again during mourning period even after his father was buried. Jaehyun would rather see him cry that holding his grief inside.
Luckily Jibeom came home before he dozed off on the couch. His husband looked tired, it made his heart ache.
"How's everything going?" He took Jibeom's jacket and trailed beside him to the living room.
"Everything's good," Jibeom said with a sigh. "It's just.. There are papers to sign and all.. I'll be busy for the next few days."
Jaehyun bit his lips. If only he could help. "You must be tired. Do you want some hot tea? Or do you want to take shower first?"
Jibeom halted his step turned to Jaehyun, there's a small smile on his face. "I'm fine, don't worry too much," He paused for a while. "Thank you. For worrying."
Jaehyun released a deep breath and hugged the lawyer. "I'll be here, if you ever need me."
Jibeom hugged him back and they stayed right there for a few seconds before Jibeom pulled back. "I'm sweaty and gross, I'd better take shower now."
Jaehyun nodded and retreated to his room. He fidgeted on the bed, hoping that Jibeom wouldn't mind this arrangement. Aside from that vacation in Sokcho, they've never shared a bed before. It was a bold move, but he thought Jibeom would need someone right now.
He heard the bathroom door clicked open and immediately rushed outside. Jibeom's hand was already on the handle of door of Bomin's room.
"Wait," Jaehyun said quietly. "Bomin is inside."
Jibeom looked puzzled. "Oh.. Is he sleeping there?"
Jaehyun nodded, and gently took his husband's hand, ushering him to their room. Once they're in their room, he faced clueless Jibeom. "Sleep here tonight."
"You've just lost you father," He quickly explained. "It'll be lonely if you sleep alone. You know, the time when you lie down on bed waiting to sleep is when bad thought will come. I.. I'll accompany you until you're asleep."
Jibeom stared at him deeply with unreadable expression, and to save themselves from awkwardness, he pushed his husband to bed. "You can talk about anything if you want," He said as he slid under the blanket. "Come on."
Thankfully Jibeom didn't question any further. He went to the bed, although hesitant. "You don't have to do this you know."
"I thought we're already pass the awkward phase," Jaehyun countered. He shifted so he lay on his side facing Jibeom.
Jibeom mirrored his position so they're face by face. He smiled warmly.
"Yeah," The lawyer nodded. "Thank you, Jaehyun."
Jaehyun smiled back. "You've helped me a lot after the accident. This is nothing."
For a while, they just stared at each other, then a hint of melancholy passed through Jibeom's face.
"I've never hated you."
Jaehyun's eyes hot wide in surprised. "What?"
"I've never hated you," The lawyer repeated again. "I might look that I did, but I didn't. It's just.. I envied you, and it was so stupid and childish of me to throw my frustration at you."
Jaehyun froze, trying to register the information. But it didn't make sense at all."
"You envied me?" He frowned. "Why? I.. There's nothing good in me. I don't have father, I was poor, I.. I didn't study well. How.. I'm incomparable to you. It was me who should envy you."
Despite being enemy, he had to admit that Jibeom had a perfect life. He's handsome, he's smart and on top of all, he's rich. It was not a secret that Jibeom's family was a wealthy.
Jibeom smiled bitterly. "You're wrong. With a messed up family like me, you wouldn't envy me."
It dawned to Jaehyun that they're nearing the topic that Jibeom had been avoiding all this time. He kept silent, letting Jibeom decide whether he should tell him or not.
"I was an unwanted son," Jibeom started his story, his face turned gloomy. "I was the reason my mother and father married. I guess that's why they hated me."
The tremble on Jibeom's voice made Jaehyun reached out to hold his husband's hand, hoping to let Jibeom knew that he had his back.
"You don't have to tell me," He said. He wanted to know but he didn't want to force Jibeom. He believed his husband would let him know when he's ready.
"I shouldn't hide it from you in the first place," His husband looked ashamed and uneasy. "It would be selfish of me choosing not to tell you just because it's hard for me. But I.." He took a deep breath. "I want to tell you now."
"Okay," Jaehyun breathed out, suddenly felt more awake. His hand was still holding Jibeom as a silent encouragement.
He felt Jibeom squeezed his hand. His husband was nervous. He kept quiet, patiently waiting, not wanting to put more pressure.
"My mother had me before she got married. It was just an accident," Jibeom kept his gaze fixed to their intertwined hands. "Her family is as rich as my father's, and they convinced.. They forced my parents to marry. And they did. Except that they're not happy. I couldn't even remember we had family dinner together, all I remember was their constant fight. They divorced when I was 14. It was kind of miracle they can hold on for that long," He scoffed bitterly.
"My mother left us just like that, abandoned me like she didn't carry me for months in her body, like we're not blood related at all. And my father.. He didn't change, just saw me like an obligation. He gave me money, nothing else. He was like a stranger to me, he had never asked how I was doing, how I felt. He didn't even ask my opinion when he remarried again.
"When I was younger I worked hard to make him proud of me. I studied hard, trying to excel in everything, but it's no use. After a while, I just didn't bother to try anymore. I studied hard, but it's for my own sake. I wanted to grow up quickly, make my own money and go from that hell hole."
Jaehyun's heart twisted painfully. He had no idea Jibeom had such a sad past.
"That day.. I remembered clearly, just a day before midterm exam, we had a huge fight," Jibeom's voice quivered. "I caught his new wife with another man and I told my father, but he beat me up instead, throwing insults and curse words, and.. The most painful thing was he said that he had never wanted me."
Tears started to gather in Jaehyun's eyes. He scooted closer, now palming their intertwined hands with his own free one.
"I ran and went to Banpo Bridge. My mind was in chaos, and I.. I just didn't want to live anymore."
Jaehyun's eyes widened, soft gasp came out from his mouth. His heart suddenly beat erratically inside his chest, thinking the possibility of Jibeom killing himself in such a sad situation.
"I was standing behind the railing, looking at the water, convincing myself that there's no worth of living anymore. I mean.. Even my parents rejected me. I shouldn't have lived in the first place."
Jaehyun didn't realize how they ended up lying so close, forehead almost touching each other. Jibeom's eyes were glassy, but he smiled.
"I was going to climb the railing and jump, and that's when you came."
"Me?" Surprised for the second time that night, Jaehyun wondered how he had possibly involved.
Jibeom nodded, their eyes locked with each other. "You came running our of nowhere, yanked my shirt, and we both fell to the ground."
"I.. I did what?"
Jibeom chuckled at his husband's reaction. "I might not remember very well since I was in the state of shock, but I remembered rolling on the ground. I shouted to you, but you're so stubborn. I can't remember what we said, but we're making a scene, inviting people and even police to come. You clawed at my shirt, refused to let go even when police told you to."
Jaehyun was gaping. It's impossible he did that.
"Why would I.."
"I don't know," Jibeom said softly, his gaze sent warmth to his pit of stomach. "I always I picked on you at school and you screamed get lost in front of my face, and suddenly you came just like that. I guess you're just weird," he chuckled, but Jaehyun was curious.
What happened? What had he missed?
"I'm so sorry, Jaehyun," Jibeom told him with exasperated tone. "I hurt you so much. I swear I didn't mean to harm you. I was just jealous to see you and your mother," He casted his eyes down in shame.
"My mother?" What was that again? Why there were so many surprises?
Jibeom licked his dry lips. "I saw you and your mother during parents meeting. I don't know how to explain this, but.. You looked so happy and I'm envious. My father didn't even want to come to school and sent one of his employee instead."
There were so many things Jaehyun didn't understand. Yes, he and his mother had a good relationship, but so were other many students. "But why me?" He curiously asked. "Why me when there are a lot of other student with their parents?"
"I've been interested in you since I saw you during high school orientation," The lawyer confessed which gave Jaehyun another bullet of shock. "You're so pretty, and cute and you're so laid back, like you're living in your own bubble, it fascinated me. It's stupid but I've been secretly watching over you and that moment when I saw you linking hand with your mother, laughing happily, I felt like I was being mocked. I wanted to speak to you, but I felt inferior.
"The first time you tripped on my foot, it was purely accident. I was panicking at that time, when I realized that it's you, and in that moment, that words just came out from my mouth without I meant it. I should have apologized, but I.. being mean to you was the only thing I could do to be able to talk to you and shield my pride at the same time. I wanted you to look at me and say something to me, and as time went by, I wanted more, but I knew I can't. How could you like someone like me?
"When you saved me, I felt exposed and ashamed. You looked at me like you knew my deepest secret. I tried to ignore you, but you kept on pestering me, trying to get close to me. That's all I've ever wanted, but it scared me. I became paranoid, what if you leave after knowing about me?"
"You're thinking to much," Jaehyun shook his head. He couldn't understand Jibeom, but he couldn't blame him, especially after what he'd been through with his family.
"I know," Jibeom sighed. "I was such a mess."
"Then what happened?" Jaehyun prodded. "What happened to us?"
"You didn't even after I repeatedly pushed you away," Jibeom stared at him deeply. "And at one point, I'm tried of the chasing game, I'm tired for hurting you I gave up. I thought I should just enjoy your presence that I've been craving for, although it's just for a moment. But you didn't leave even after you know about my family. You stayed," His hand sneaked to Jaehyun's head. "You took it all calmly, too calm for my liking."
"From your story I sounded like a lunatic."
They both laughed quietly. Jibeom fondly caressed his hair. "I think the word physic is more suitable. You've never admitted it. But I always thought probably you have a gift to read what's in people's head."
"If I have that gift, I would have excelled my studies," Jaehyun joked. Although what he did was strange, but he didn't dwell on it in the meantime. "So after that we're okay?"
Jibeom nodded his head. "We sometimes fought, mostly because of me. But you changed me. We started to date right before high school graduation."
"Our friends must be weirded out."
The comment made the lawyer chuckled. "Not only them, some of the teachers also. And Youngtaek cornered me one day, he's worried I played with you."
Jaehyun smiled, Youngtaek was such a good friend.
"You are really like a miracle for me. I was born in a fucked off family, but I vas given you in return," Jibeom's blissed expression suddenly turned into a frown. "When you had accident, I was so devastated. I was lost, thinking you won't make it made me die a little each time. But I have Bomin, I had to be strong for him."
The topic reminded Jaehyun of something. He tugged at their hands, earning his husband's attention. Biting his lips in hesitancy, he carefully asked. "What happened before the accident?"
Jibeom held his breath, didn't say anything.
"Did we fight? I remembered you apologized to me and.. I read the message you left in my phone.."
The lawyer closed his eyes for a second and took a deep breath. "Yes, we fought," He admitted. "It was when my father's assistant informed me that he got heart attack. You heard about it and insisted me to go. I refused, and we had a huge fight."
Jibeom sighed heavily, suddenly looked tired. "It happened one morning before I went to office. We fought and Bomin cried. Then I said might have leashed out on you and I left slamming the door. And the next time I saw you, you're in hospital, bloodied with wires attached on your body."
A droplet of tear fell to Jibeom's cheek.
"I regret it so much. I'm so sorry, and all I could think was the harsh words I said to you, and if you didn't make it.. It would be the last thing you remembered of me."
By that time, the lawyer started to cry again. Jaehyun held his husband close to him, and Jibeom clutched his shirt tightly. "It was very hard for me. You're always the one who hold me during my hardest time. I really didn't know what to do."
"Hushh, it's okay, it's fine now. I'm fine, I'm here," Jaehyun looked up, to hold his own tears. Knowing what Jibeom felt, and how to see him breaking down like made him feel pain. His voice trembled. "Everything is fine. I won't leave you anymore."
"I'm sorry, Jaehyun.. I'm sorry," Jibeom repeatedly said. He didn't stop no matter how many times he said there's nothing to be sorry for.
Jibeom cried until he fell asleep. Jaehyun was still awake when his husband fell asleep. Jibeom's words rang in in ears. Jibeom wouldn't lie to him, but his story didn't make sense at all. And it made him uneasy how some questions were still left unanswered.
Jaehyun kept on holding Jibeom in his arms until his eyes turned heavy and finally went to dreamland.
Their relationship started to get better. After knowing everything, Jaehyun felt like the thin barrier between them had been lifted of. He felt light.
They started to share bed at night, using the remaining time of the day to catch up what they'd been doing. Bomin sometimes still slept with them, sandwiched between his parents. The boy wasn't really happy to sleep in his room by himself. But even Bomin was there, it didn't stop them to talk to each other before sleep. They talked with hush voice, small table lamb made the room dim. It was an intimate, precious moment, Jaehyun's favorite time of the day.
He kissed Jibeom first one day, behind Bomin's back while the toddler was playing with his robot toy in the mattress in front of the couch. They were sitting on the couch, Jibeom's reading a think book about law, and Jaehyun was reading a novel.
The freshness Jibeom's shower gel scent invaded his nose, made him unable to focus in his novel. They were sitting so close that their arms brushed against each other whenever they flip the book page. None of them mind, but Jaehyun wanting more.
At this point, he was sure that he had fallen for his husband all over again. Months of him getting to know Jibeom all over again, witnessing, experiencing his personality and character, made him grow fondness towards the man. He liked his presence, how dependable he was, and how the lawyer cherish him made him feel worthy of something
He wanted to wipe out Jibeom's insecurities, he wanted to tell Jibeom he loved the man.
But he's shy.
He put down his book and absentmindedly watching Bomin playing. The kid was so engrossed in his new toy robot that he didn't care of anything around him. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Jibeom was also focused on his boring book.
The lawyer looked attractive like that, he sighed.
The soft sigh successfully attracted Jibeom's attention. The lawyer tore his gaze away from the book and looked at him questioningly. "Why?"
He wanted to say something, but didn't know how to say it. In the end he turned his head away and picked up his book again. "Nothing."
Of course Jibeom noticed the uneasiness on his face. He had never been good in hiding his feeling.
Jibeom's hand landed on his arm. "Something's bothering you?" He asked gently, making Jaehyun sighed again. One thing that made him weary was how Jibeom had always been careful around him, like he's a fragile porcelain doll. He didn't want Jibeom to be cautious around him.
He put down his book. "I'm really fine," He bit his lips, wondering whether he should say the L word now.
"Something's bothering you," Jibeom said again, but this time it was a statement rather than a question.
They stared at each other again, and finally Jaehyun gathered his bravery. "Actually, yes, something's bothering me," He admitted.
Jibeom chewed his lips, his pupils shook. "Is it because of me?"
"No," Jaehyun answered quickly. "Well, yes, but it's not like what you're thinking."
He sighed again at the sight of his husband looking like a lost puppy. "Jibeom, it's not that you lack something." He took a deep breath. "Stop acting like you're going to break me."
"I appreciate it," He pressed on. "I'm thankful you take care of me, but.. You're over cautious of me lately."
Jibeom was perplexed and dejected. "Alright. Sorry if I made you feel uneasy. I realized it actually, but it's just.. hard.. after what had happened.. I don't want to make any more mistake that I would regret-"
Jibeom was rambling, his insecurity hit him again, and Jaehyun wanted him to stop.
He kissed Jibeom.
And it instantly shut the lawyer up.
Their lips touched for a few seconds before he pulled away. Face red in embarrassment under Jibeom's gaze. His husband was frozen and he thought he needed to explain.
"You did it," He said softly without looking at his husband. "You made me fall in love with you again."
He braced himself to look at his husband. "I want you to treat me like a spouse, like a partner in life, not like your son," He frowned as he said that words. "You make me feel safe and comfortable, and I want you to feel that too around me."
His heart was beating so fast in mixture of embarrassment and nervousness. "I love you, Jibeom. I want you to know that.. I know your weakness and your dark past, but I still love you, I still want to be with you. I hope you know that. I'll always here, I won't leave you."
Jibeom pulled him into a hug once he closed his mouth. His husband buried his head on the crook of his neck. "I love you too, Jaehyun.. Love.. I miss you."
Jaehyun blinked his eyes rapidly as they started to get wet. The endearment on Jibeom's words made his heart fluttered, and he felt it. He felt the love from his husband, it's so great that it shook his core. He's thankful that Jibeom didn't give up on him. He patted his husband's back.
"Thank you, Jibeom, for never letting me go, for waiting for me."
Jaehyun still hated meeting the moms. He wished time will quickly pass until Bomin went to kindergarten. By then, hopefully he won't see them again.
However, this time, as he walked to school to fetch Bomin, his steps were light. Jibeom was walking beside him, providing him silent support and comfort.
The meerkats as usual were crowding near the entrance.
"Oh, Jibeom-sshi!" Jihye waved at them. "You're not working today?"
Jibeom greeted politely at the moms while Jaehyun snorted silently.
Such a charmer.
"There are documents I have to take care of, so I'm taking a leave."
Jihye's eyes rounded. "Is it about your new house? I heard you'll move to different neighborhood."
Gossip surely spread so fast.
Jibeom seemed taken aback, but maintained his smile. "Ah, yes, we'll move out soon."
"That's a pity," Another mom called Minhee said. "We can't see each other again."
Jibeom chuckled. "We found a good school for Bomin, and an apartment nearby with reasonable place."
Jaehyun huffed at the side, disliking the closeness between his husband and the annoying moms. Didn't want to be caught with sour face, Jaehyun excused himself to see Bomin from a small window. The sight of Bomin playing and laughing with his friends made him forgot about the moms.
It was until he felt someone's presence beside him, hugging him from the side.
"Did you have fun?" He said, eyes were still glued to Bomin. Jibeom had audacity to snicker.
"I know you dislike them, but we still have to mingle around. They're Bomin's friends' mothers after all."
He knew about that too, but it's hard for him to pretend being pleasant when his heart was not happy. "What were you talking about?"
Jibeom shrugged. "Just trivial things."
"I've only told Bomin's teacher about our new apartment. Jihye was around, probably it's her who told others," Jaehyun voiced out his displeasure.
"No harm done," Jibeom said lightly. "Let them talk, it's not like we did something wrong."
Jaehyun sighed. Jibeom was right, but he still didn't like it. "I bet they're asking the size of the new place."
Beside him, Jibeom gasped. "How did you know?"
"They did?" He asked back, then scoffed. "Busybodies."
Jibeom was quiet for a second. "Minhee-sshi asked whether we're planning to have a second child since we're moving to a bigger place."
Jaehyun froze, then he took a quick glance at his husband. It's quite awkward and out of the blue. To be honest he had never thought about a second child before. Bomin had taken his time with his demands, making him too preoccupied to think of that. "And?" He asked back quietly, not meeting his husband's eyes.
"I said no." Jibeom's tone was hanging, signaling that he's not done talking yet. "But.. Do you want to?"
It's getting more awkward. For the second time Jaehyun glanced at Jibeom. His husband pretended to be cool about it, but the tips of his ears were red and he's rubbing his nape absentmindedly.
Jibeom wanted more kids.
He's not a mind reader, but he had a feeling from his expression.
His face turned red. It's weird, and embarrassing.
"No," He blurted out and almost instantly he felt Jibeom's body less rigid.
"Oh," Jibeom breathed out. "Okay."
It's mot that didn't have more kids. He had always dreamed to have 2 or 3 kids. Sometimes he pitied Bomin because the boy didn't have sibling to play with at home. He's just shy. But he didn't want to make Jibeom disappointed too.
"Not yet," He mumbled quietly, nails digging to his palms.
He huffed, wishing his face won't be too red, and looked at his husband. "I'm not ready now, but maybe 1 or 2 years from now, when Bomin's older. If you want to of course."
Jibeom let out a short laugh. "I'm.. I always dreamed of 2 or 3 kids," He rubbed his nape again. "I imagine it would be merry at house with kids laughing and running around. It'll be a mess of course.. But still.. It would be nice."
Jaehyun laughed along, feeling the awkwardness dissipated. "I have the same thought."
Jibeom smiled and placed a kiss on his cheek.
Jaehyun immediately jerked away, nervously glancing to his back. "What are you doing?" He whispered hotly. "They'll see!"
"Let them see," Jibeom teased. "Why are you so shy."
He pushed his husband lightly. "Stop it. They'll talk more about us."
Jibeom didn't have chance to answer since Bomin suddenly ran towards them and hugged their feet. "Mommy! Daddy!"
Jaehyun watched Jibeom put a delighted Bomin to sit on his shoulders. Bomin was obviously too heavy for a shoulder ride, but his husband and son were laughing happily. He took Bomin's backpack to lessen the weight on Jibeom's shoulders.
Walking home, they held hands while Bomin chattered about school. Jaehyun thought he could be happier than this.
"Call me when it gets worse."
Jaehyun waved Jibeom off from his comfortable position on the bed. That morning, he's suddenly attacked with a strong headache that successfully pulled him from his slumber. He had taken medicine, but it hadn't showed effect yet. But no matter what, it's still only headache, Jibeom was being overly worried slightly irritate him.
"Jibeom, it's only a headache, I'll be fine after sleeping," He croaked out.
"I'll come home to bring lunch."
"I can manage," He said weakly. "Just go."
Jibeom stood with hands on his hips and sighed. "Remember if-"
"I'll call you if I need something", He finished Jibeom's words to the other man's dismay.
"Alright," He bent and kissed Jaehyun's temple. "I'm going."
Jaehyun hummed and closed his eyes.
He jolted to hear Bomin's loud voice and a sudden weight on his feet.
"Bomin-ah," Jibeom grumbled and picked the boy up. "Mommy is sick, don't disturb him."
"Then I'll just stay at home with mommy."
Jaehyun sighed, but a small smile adorned his face. "Let mommy rest for a while okay? So I can play with you after you go back home."
"Can I stay?" Rejected by his mother, Bomin tried his luck with Jibeom instead, who answered with a firm headshake.
"Come on. Kiss mommy goodbye, we have to leave now."
Bomin looked dejected but he planted a long wet kiss on his mother's lips, making his parents laughed. "Alright kiddo, let's go," Jibeom helped him got off from bed guided him towards the door.
"Bye mommy," Bomine waved. Jaehyun waved back, ignoring the throbbing pain on his head.
"See you later," Jibeom said softly. The man gave him a warm smile before closing the door.
Once he heard the front door opened and closed again, Jaehyun snuggled on his pillow and let sleep took him away.
"Ya! Jaehyun!! Wake up!"
Jaehyin scrunched his eyes. Someone's tapping his cheeks, and when he tried to open his eyes, it was so bright and white, he had to close his eyes again. The headache was still there, but it's faint. He groaned and tried to swat the hand of someone who's tapping his cheeks.
"Jaehyun! Ya! Wake up, don't make me worry!"
His eyes snapped open.
He blinked a few times to adjust his eyes with light, and when he could see clearly, he was welcomed by Youngtaek's face.
"Thanks God! I thought you're dead!" Youngtaek said loudly, shaking his body.
Jaehyun stared silently.
Youngtaek's hair was blond and small black earrings decorated his ears. His friend was wearing a uniform. Wasn't it his high school uniform?
Jaehyun gasped. Frantically, he looked around and recognized the wall, the cupboard and 2 beds. He's in school's infirmary.
His eyes widened, heart racing. He looked down, and found out that he's also wearing his high school uniform.
"Ya! You scared me!" Youngtaek shouted. "What happened to you? Why are you acting strange? Is your head still hurting?"
He gaped at Youngtaek. "W-what happened? Why am I here?"
The blond gave him a strange and worried look. "Jaehyun, calm down. You'd just gotten hit hard on your head. It's Joon's fault, he kicked the ball recklessly. Who even play football in this hour. Are you feeling okay? Mrs. Lee will be back in a while."
"Joon?" The mention of former classmate's name made him dumbfounded. "Joon? He repeated.
"Stop acting weird," Youngtaek barked, crossing his arms in front of his chest. "Can you stand up? Come on, I'll take you home."
Quickly, he jumped from the bed, not not minding that he's only wearing socks and ran through the door. He found a familiar hallway behind the door. From the window in front of him, he saw a big patch of green grass, his former school field, and the familiar black colored gate. He stared at the sight with eyes wide, mouth hanging open.
He was in his room. He's just sleeping. Jibeom and Bomin had just went out from his room..
He staggered back. Luckily Youngtaek caught him.
"Hey, Jaehyun," Youngtaek's voice was softer this time, and full of worry. "What happened to you?"
I remember that day was a day before our midterm exam. We studied in library until late, and when we're about to go home, we walked across the field and Joon accidentally knocked your head with football. You fainted and we got you to infirmary..
Youngtaek also gasped. "What??"
"What day is today?"
That day.. I remembered clearly, just a day before midterm exam, we had a huge fight
I ran and went to Banpo Bridge. My mind was in chaos, and I.. I just didn't want to live anymore.
I was standing behind the railing, looking at the water, convincing myself that there's no worth of living anymore. I mean.. Even my parents rejected me. I shouldn't have lived in the first place
"What day is today?" He shouted right at Youngtaek's face, making the taller man stuttered.
"Is tomorrow midterm exam?" He pushed the blond until Youngtaek's back bumped into the wall.
Jaehyun sucked a deep breath.
What's this? This is insane!
It didn't make sense at all, but he needed to go. He had to make sure. He bolted away, but slipped after a few steps. He realized he's not wearing shoes. He ran back to infirmary, finding his shoes and immediately put them on.
"Jaehyun, where are you going?" Youngtaek turned frantic as well.
"I have to go somewhere," He told Youngtaek. "Bye!"
Youngtaek was screaming at him, but he kept on running. He hailed a taxi and asked the driver to drive as fast as he could to Banpo bridge. He was tapping his feet nervously, ignoring the taxi driver grumbled.
He bit his knuckle to stop himself from screaming. It's crazy. He was 30. He's married, he had a cute 4 years old son, he's involved in a car accident, losing his memory, and only remembered the time when he's 16. And now he's back being 16.
He's like being thrown into the story he heard from Youngtaek and Jibeom. It's exactly the same.
The taxi suddenly stopped, there was traffic. They're almost there. Banpo bridge was just a few meters away.
"Looks like there's traffic accident," The driver sighed.
Jaehyun bit his lips. He couldn't wait. He patted his pocket, relieved he had his wallet with him. He took out all of his money and gave it to the driver.
"I'll stop here. Thank you."
He got off and started to run again. His throat was super dry, and his head hurt when he ran. But he forced his tired legs to speed up. He almost stumbled, but he kept on running.
And that's when he saw a figure in their high school uniform, leaning on the railing. The sky had staryed to turn dark, but even from the silhouette, he was sire it was Jibeom.
He's not late yet, he said to himself. It gave him strength to move faster. He needed to get there before Jibeom did that stupid thing.
I was going to climb the railing and jump, and that's when you came
Jibeom was gripping the railing, his right foot had already lifted up, when Jaehyun reached him, grabbing the back of Jibeom's school uniform and yanked him away from the railing. Force made Jibeom's hands slipped from the railing and sent both of them toppled to the ground.
You came running our of nowhere, yanked my shirt, and we both fell to the ground
Cars passing by, but thankfully they didn't end up on the road and got hit.
"What are you doing?"
He shuddered as he was face to face with a teen Jibeom. Jibeom's eyes were red, and there's anger on that face and voice. But he didn't feel hurt, because he knew what Jibeom's thinking. He was in dazed, overwhelmed with relief. Ge did it. He stopped Jibeom from jumping from the bridge. He kept tight grip on Jibeom's uniform.
Almost.. He almost lost Jibeom.
"Get off!" Jibeom yanked him off angily, but he still stubbornly latched himself on the other boy.
"Thanks God," He breathed out. Jibeom froze.
Their eyes met. Jaehyun swallowed hard, wetting his dry throat. "Don't do that again, please."
Jibeom seemed taken aback, but a few seconds later he growled. "I don't know what you're saying. Now let go off me!"
"You'll be fine, Jibeom," He said firmly, pulling Jibeom back. "Everything is going to be okay."
Jibeom gritted his teeth, "You're crazy."
They kept on tugging at each other, until a man in his thirties came along with policeman and seperated them away.
They were sent to police office. They sat quietly side in the back seat of police car, by side with a few meters apart. Jibeom didn't say a word, ignoring him like he didn't exist. Even after the police made them sit down in front of a friendly looking officer, Jibeom kept his mouth shut.
"So what happened between you two huh?"
Jaehyun glanced at Jibom who bowed his head. He didn't seem like he would answer the question.
"We're fighting," He answered. He felt Jibeom glanced at him, but he didn't look at him back.
The officer raised his brows. "On Banpo Bridge?"
Jaehyun gulped while raking his brain. He needed to think fast. "I heard he's in Banpo Bridge so I followed him there. We talked then it turned into a fight. Sorry, officer."
The officer luckily accepted his lie even though the story he made didn't make any sense. The man clicked his tongue. "You're students, you just have to study. Don't create problem, understand?"
Jaehyun eagerly nodded, impatient to get out from that place.
The officer fglanced at Jibeom and clicked his tongue again. "You too, young man. You're lucky you didn't get hit by passing cars. You're also lucky you both have clean record. I'll let you go for now, but don't hope I'll let you go easily of I see both of you again."
Jaehyun thanked the officer and dragged a reluctant Jibeom out from the police station. Jibeom yanked his hand away when they're outside. Without looking back, Jibeom walked away.
Jaehyun stared at his back silently. His heart was twisted in a painful way. It's hurt to see Jibeom looking vulnerable like that, especially knowing what happened with his family. At the same time, it felt strange. He's so used to an affectionate Jibeom, but suddenly he had to face a cold Jibeom. He kept on staring until Jibeom disappeared in the corner.
He leaned on the wall.
Had he travelled to the future and now he returned back?
It's like deja vu. It didn't make sense. Everything happened when he's 16 and 30 were both linked at each other. If Jibeom in the future didn't tell him what happened with his family, what happened in Banpo Bridge, he wouldn't have any idea that Jibeom was there, trying to kill himself. If he didn't know, Jibeom probably would die, and the future would change. He won't be married to Jibeom, he wouldn't have Bomin..
He won't have a happy marriage with a person he loved.
It's still confusing. He didn't know what would happen to him, whether he'll go back to the future, or he'll stuck here. But while he's here, he'll fight for his future.
He needed to make sure the future he'd experienced won't change.
He needed to male sure that he and Jibeom would get that happiness.
It's night time.
The sky was clear, and he could see little stars shining on the sky through the window. He put down his book to the empty space beside him and stared at the stars instead. After a moment, he shifted sideways and pulled his legs and embraced it. He continued watching the stars with the new, more comfortable position.
The apartment was quiet. He wished it won't be this quiet. It made him feel lonely.
Thankfully not long after the front door suddenly opened, and his face immediately lit up. His husband walked in, shrugging a thick coat while balancing a plastic bag in one if his hand.
"What took you so long?" He asked.
His husband gave him apologetical smile. "Sorry, I dropped by the convenience store to buy some snacks. Mr. Park was there, he chatted about his son and I don't have a heart to stop him.
Jaehyun shook his head but smiled. His husband had always been a good person.
"It's fine. How's the kids?"
Jibeom put the snacks on the table then removed his book from the couch and sat down.
"They nagged me because apparently I drive to slow," Jibeom snorted. "Bomin even had gut to say riding train would be faster."
Jaehyun laughed. "You drive slowly," He pointed out the truth. "And I'm not saying it's a bad thing," He added before Jibeom could protest.
"I only have you, love," Jibeom sighed contently, putting his head on Jaehyun's shoulders.
"The house feels empty when the kids are not around," Jaehyun intertwined their fingers.
Jibeom hummed. "I miss them already. Tell me again why I let Dabin come with Bomin to have sleepover at the Lee's?"
"Because he's friends with Youngmin's sister," Jibeom teasingly pushed Jibeom's head with his index finger. "You always babies her. She's 16. Just let her have some fun."
"Sixteen is too young."
"Old enough for sleepover in friend's house which we had visited before. We also know their parents."
"You're too cool," Jibeom mumbled.
"And you're too uncool."
"So what are we going to do now?" Jaehyun asked. "I'm bored."
"Let's just watch something," Jibeom got off from couch and took remote control. "There should be good shows around this time."
Jibeom flipped the channel, and they debated for a while about what show they wanted to watch. In the end, theu agreed to watch a singing show. The leaned to each other, sometimes singing along when they know the song.
"Oh, this song!" Jaehyun straightened up. It was a slow song both he and Jibeom liked. He yelped when suddenly Jibeom pulled him off the couch. A second later he found himself standing in front of the couch, Jibeom's hands circled around his back.
"What are you doing?" He laughed when Jibeom swayed their bodies to the sides, following the rhythm of the music.
"Don't this remind you of high school prom night?"
Jaehyun rolled his eyes, but his lips curled up. "We're almost 50."
"The kids are not here, nobody will tease us," Jibeom grinned.
Still laughing, he looped his arms around Jibeom's neck and got along with the flow. It's been a while, enjoying the time, just the two of them.
When he was thrown back to his high school days, he's stuck there. It's torturing because he missed his husband Jibeom and especially Bomin. Everyday, he tried to befriend Jibeom, only to get shrugged away. But he had never given up. Many times he experienced heartbreak and exhaustion. He couldn't count how many times he'd shed tears, missing the warmth of the future Jibeom. However, everytime he felt like giving up, the thought of his happy blissful marriage with the man who loved him beyond everything made him keep on holding on.
He also took the whole thing happened to him as a second chance. He tried to live his life as best as he could, being a good student and son. He cherished his mother more. Although it hurt to know that one day she'll be taken away from him, he tried to be a best son to make her happy while they could still be together.
Jibeom eventually softened up to him after weeks and months of trying. He successfully broke the shell Jibeom put around himself. They stayed awkward, but day by day, Jibeom started to open to him, and they ended up dating just before graduation.
Everything went according to the story he knew. His mother passed away, he got married, they had Bomin, they fought, and he got into accident.
He lost his memory all over again, forgetting all the precious memories. The only difference was, he had headache that particular day, instead of going back to the past, the memories all flood back into him. He remembered the strange things happened to him, he remembered everything like he'd just experienced it the day before. It was so clear, no details missing from his memory.
Since then, everything was back to normal. They had Dabin one and a half year later, a sweet baby girl, when Bomin was 6. He had never experienced any more strangeness like jumping back and forth between past and future.
The music had changed into another but they're still swaying their bodies to the right and left.
He had been through a lot of things. Not only him, but Jibeom too. But he believed fate had put them together, through problems and hardships, they have each other to lean to.
Jibeom said he's his miracle, but as he thought of it, it didn't quite right. Jibeom was his miracle.
They exist for each other.
"Love," Jibeom broke the silence after a while.
Jaehyun opened his eyes, finding his husband staring at him with sweetness like honey.
He enjoyed this, when they're just being close to each other. They didn't need words, proclamation of love. Just being with each other, knowing they had each other back was enough.
"I love you."
But those words, those words that Jibeom threw from time to time had never failed to make his stomach flipped upside down. It had never failed to give him strength when's he's tired, and it always successfully wiped away any doubt.
He closed the gap between their lips but before their lips touched, he whispered, "I love you too."
Their future was still long. There would be many obstacles along the way, but he's not worried because he had his husband with him.