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Where the Morning Star Rests

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I will be really good to you. I will give you a lot of love…

 

The rattle of the hammer against the malleable copper reverberates through the room, the sunlight filtering through the glass panes of Do Hyun Soo’s metal craft studio. It had been two months since he returned to what he called his home for the past five years, the loft style apartment harboring remnants of a life he deceived himself and others into believing was real.

He recalls the morning after he slept in the bed he knew has his own, the surroundings unfamiliar and foreign. He turned to his right, as if it were a reflex, and faced Detective Cha Ji won… Ji won, he meant Ji won. He reached out and gingerly caressed her smooth skin, from her high cheek bones to her full lips, tracing over her features with careful precision, worrying that one wrong stroke and he would shatter her completely. They had spent the past couple of weeks reacquainting themselves with one another, starting with barely there touches and lingering glances, but being within her reach, first thing in the morning, was an experience he would cherish for the rest of his days.

Afterall, she was the beauty and he was her beast, the darks secrets hidden behind his stoic visage causing cracks to form into their family mold, creating enough destruction to fracture it completely. The son of a serial killer, he reminds himself, and though there is a blank slot of time erased from his mind, this particular fact is seared into his brain like he knows the art of metal crafting, like he knows his own name. Hyun Soo withdraws his fingers from her face in an instant, only to be drawn back to her skin like a moth to a flame.

 

Jagiyaaa,” Ji won had drawled, the honeyed term of endearment leaving her lips like a lullaby, her sleep laden voice like a tranquil symphony only meant for him.

 

Ji Won’s eyes are closed, but a sweet smile forms upon her face, and Hyun Soo is completely entranced, watching ever corner, every crease upon her face, the emotions so vivid that even in her peaceful state, he wishes he could paint them onto his own skin.

He was amazed that though she knew the truth, whether he was Baek Hee Sung or Do Hyun Soo, he forever remained jagiya in her eyes, the sweet nickname gifted to him by his Ji won erasing any doubt of her feelings for him.

Hyun Soo was a man who crept in the shadows, dwelling in the dark corners of the world, shunned from society. But Ji won was the only light that lured him to the daylight, with her warm words and persistent love, inherently believing that he deserved to be loved. He would spend his whole life making it up to her, his Ji won, and even after he’s gone, he would hope they would reunite in the afterlife, choosing to provide her with the love and safety she most ardently deserves.

By this point she’s caught him staring at her for far too long, and this time, she whispers the honeyed name like a question, reaching to run her thumb over his prominent cheekbones, moving closer to lay her forehead against his. Their quiet breaths intermingle, and Hyun Soo tentatively places his lips on hers. The kiss starts quiet and feather light, as he reacquaints himself with her taste, the velvety softness of her lips against his, but soon after his tongue slips into her mouth and tangles with hers, the languid dancing of their lips becoming the most favorite pastime in his recent memory.

As they separate, he decides he can’t get enough of her, the mere sensation of Ji won’s lips on his the most addictive taste he’s ever known. Her eyes are seeking, and he wonders for what, or rather for whom, and he wonders with all his might if she will never find the man she used to know. Oddly, he feels the same, never wanting to disappoint her, and as he pushes her down upon the bed gently, he buries his face within the crevice of her neck as if it beckons him, latching his lips onto a patch of skin, while his fingers expertly trace over the contours of her form like he never forgot. He begins the practiced, unhurried motion of his hips along hers, the slow undulation of their bodies against each other like ripples against a calm sea, a motion he’s known his whole life, or perhaps, just with her.

He wants to find every moment lost with her, whether it be in this bed, in this apartment, in the moments in between work and life. He wants to believe that every moment he had built with her in the past fourteen years wasn’t a complete lie, that he only manipulated himself into believing he would never be capable of loving another.

 

“Ji won-ah, saranghae,” he whispers in a strangled cry against her ear, the words rolling naturally off his tongue though he’s positive he’s never spoken them out loud.

 

He sees his wife’s breath hitch, her pupils dilating, and her undoing prompts his own, and he tumbles down the precipice of desire, falling, falling, falling, into Ji won’s welcoming arms.....

 

 

There was the time Ji won left him with Eun ah alone for the first time since moving back home. Hyun Soo had moved about her like a shape shifter, being present neither here nor there, burdened by the possibility of disappointing her. He peeked at her through the bedroom door, observing her as she watched her favorite television show, until she caught his stare, her eyes shining for her beloved father, an expectation he wholeheartedly wanted to fulfill.

 

“Appa! I’m hungry, should we go get some egg tarts?” Eun ah muses, the childlike innocence in her voice making his heart swell with a feeling so foreign, yet so familiar, it hurts.

 

Hyun Soo thinks to the egg tarts he would buy on a whim, the overwhelming urge to buy every egg tart in sight, only to store them in Moo Jin’s fridge, much to his chagrin, taking the tarts with him as he moved back home.  

But now, with Eun ah waiting for his answer, he feels a wave of emotion overtake him, the rush of a current drowning him in the sudden recollection of his daughter’s love for the pastry, and tears well in the corners of his eyes, threatening to spill down his otherwise stoic face.

Crouching down to meet her eye level, Hyun Soo instead curls his lips into a lazy smile, and feigns ignorance with his response.

 

“Why would we go out to eat, Eun ah-ya? Let’s see what’s in the fridge,” leading a questioning Eun ah to stash of egg tarts stacked neatly in the fridge, a box from every bakery he passed by.

 

“Appa!!!” Eun ah shrieks, “Are these all for me?” turning to look upon him with enough joy to make him chuckle a laugh from deep within his chest. He grabs two tarts for her, knowing deep within his soul that she couldn’t only eat one and settles down on the kitchen table with her as she begins to devour the pastry.

As she slips the fork into her mouth and hums in delight, Hyun Soo wonders if one day the love and affection she has for him would disappear, only to replaced with hate and distrust. But the sparkling glint in her eyes, the melodious echoing of her laughter flooding his senses convinces him otherwise. Eun ah is a gift to Do Hyun Soo, one that loves him without any reservation and he hopes that he can capture her smile in his mind forever, mirroring the upward tug of her lips every chance he gets.

 

“Eun ah-ya,” he starts in a sing song voice meant only for her, “you like the egg tarts?” And Eun ah’s face lights up even further, nodding excitedly.

 

“I love egg tarts Appa,” she sweetly replies, before shattering his entire being with her final words “but I love Appa most.”

Hyun Soo doesn’t know what he did to deserve Eun ah, the unconditional love that radiates from her endlessly. He hopes that as time passes, and more memories elucidate his foggy vision, that he will be the father that she remembers, the father she deserves. But until then, he knows he will try his hardest, for even if doesn’t quite recall the things he used to, he feels the way his body reacts to her, like he’s known it his whole life.

Hyun Soo's past is riddled with ugly scars and hidden secrets, but with Eun ah and Ji won, he finds himself stepping into the light little by little. He has Ji won to thank for that, the image of her smile etched into his memory, the way her fingers interlaced with his creating the most beautiful puzzle, one which only she could solve. He wants to pour over the notebooks of notes he had of her likes and dislikes, hoping to jog his memory of his wife, but every time he is around her, he's reminded of oyster bossam, of a billowing cloud of butterflies, of the smell of the rain as her laughter rings in his ears. 

Hyun Soo stares down at the copper ring adorning his fourth finger, the light catching the metal and glinting brilliantly across the studio. He wonders if Ji won’s ring shines the same, though he suspects it must shimmer with an even greater luster, her aura radiating with enough brightness to blind him. Even still, he would stare at her just the same, choosing to be overcome by her ever-present brilliance, his morning star.