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Be Free, Lay it All on Me

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There’s so much running inside Hyukjae’s mind right now, he’s already got his battle plan for the night. 


The first thing he’ll do is hop in the shower for a quick rinse and change into comfier clothes. Next up is to brew enough coffee that could fill at least two mugs, that way if ever Hyukjae needed a refill, he wouldn’t have to wait for long. Hyukjae’s contemplating whether to go through with the next step or not, but then again Sungmin said it helped him so he decides to give it a try tonight.


Okay, so after coffee, he’s lighting the scented candle Sungmin bought for him to help him stay calm yet focused on the tasks Hyukjae wants to finish that night. He can’t remember the specific scent but he trusts Sungmin’s choice. Once everything is set, Hyukjae plans on conquering his first task: editing and proofreading the last chapter of their group thesis. Hyukjae has mixed feelings about whether he’d be able to finish that in one night however, better to start doing that now than postponing for later.


“Looks like I’ll be eating really late again tonight” Hyukjae signs, resigned but already used to this setup since the start of his group thesis and internship, “Let’s do this, Lee Hyukjae.” 


Hyukjae is so out of it when he enters his bedroom, mentally preparing himself to set his battle plan into action as soon as he can so he could start working, that he doesn’t notice there’s another person inside his bedroom.


“Uh...hi.” Hyukjae jumps at least a foot up into the air, his heart is already at his throat, Hyukjae is afraid it’ll fall right out. The person seated at the foot of his bed is visibly startled as well, his eyes are wide, a mix of surprise, concern, and a hint of apprehension appearing on the stranger’s handsome face. 


Logically, the correct reaction to a stranger in his room would be to calmly ask the stranger what he wants, try not to aggravate the possible assailant while Hyukjae tries to subtly call the cops. 


Hyukjae takes multiple deep breaths to calm his pounding heart, his hand is already reaching for his phone in his back pocket. His eyes are alert for any sudden movements, however, when Hyukjae locks eyes with the stranger, his whole form goes completely rigid. 


I know those eyes.




Hyukjae’s morning started out the same way it has for two months now. He woke up with his head nestled on the soft and furry chest of his giant teddy bear, Hae. Call him weird or whatever but ever since Hae took up more than half of his bed, Hyukjae fails to imagine a good night’s sleep without cuddling his giant teddy bear to sleep.


What surprised Hyukjae more was the amount of change that happened in a span of two months, when even he wasn’t a big fan of change. Lee Hyukjae was a creature of habit. Once he’s settled into a comfortable routine, he’d stick to it until it no longer works for him. 


Now don’t get him wrong, Hyukjae was perfectly capable of handling changes and adjustments to his routines if need be, however, he’s only started his last year in college and Hyukjae’s already bombarded with change after change, adjustment after every minute adjustment. The only routine he hasn’t and will not change nor remove in his life, however, is spending a minimum of fifteen minutes lying on his tummy in his bed, face squished in between his two teddy bears, Beri agasshi and Gomgom-ssi , and allow the strawberry scent from Beri agasshi and Gomgom-ssi’s soft and fluffy fur numb his frazzled mind and body. 

Beri agasshi and Gomgom-ssi. Hyukjae’s most prized possessions; his primary source of solace. 


Gomgom-ssi was given as a present by his mother when he turned five. Little Hyukkie was both nervous and excited about school. Although his parents and his noona had done everything to help prepare Hyukjae for school, the five-year-old was still wary of separating from his family for a few hours. Add to that the possibility of meeting new people and interacting with children his age when all five years of his life he’s only been with his family. His cousins do not count simply because they only see each other during important holidays and celebrations. 


So, one day, when Hyukjae’s mother was on her way back from the market, she spotted a lone brown teddy bear displayed on the window of an antique shop just a few blocks from the market. From afar, there was nothing significantly special with the teddy bear. Sure, it was cute; its fluffy chestnut brown fur was disheveled yet somehow it added to the charm of the bear.


As Hyukjae’s mother stares at the stuffed toy through the shop’s window, she’s reminded of the time where little Hyukjae once presented her a bouquet of flowers he’s collected from the park near their home. Mrs. Lee vividly remembers the look on her then three-year-old’s face, his eyes gleaming with anticipation as he presents his mother the flowers he’s collected with his noona that afternoon. Their humble abode was filled with excited squeals and high-pitched giggles from the toddler trying to get away from his mother’s loving kisses on his chubby cheeks. 


The memory causes a fond smile to erupt from Mrs. Lee’s face which grows even more as she sees the resemblance of her son’s gleaming eyes on the black beady eyes of the stuffed bear. Without a second thought, she gently pushes through the wooden door of the shop and asks the shop owner if the teddy bear displayed at the front was for sale.


Ten minutes later, Mrs. Lee emerges from the antique shop with her grocery basket in one hand and a perfectly wrapped gift box in the other. There’s still time to spare before her kids wake up, enough time to quietly hide the gift inside their closet until it’s time to give it to the birthday boy.

Little Hyukkie and Gomgom-ssi were inseparable since the five-year-old’s birthday. There wasn’t a time where Hyukjae’s left hand wasn’t holding onto one of the fluffy limbs of his teddy bear, so much so that his parents are positive that their son’s grip is already imprinted on them. 


Despite not having any trouble interacting with kids his age at the park, he wasn’t always this carefree. Little Hyukkie took a while to get used to a new environment. Before he could freely run around the park with the other kids, he used to cling to his parents’ side as if his life depended on it. No matter how much his parents patiently persuaded him that it was okay and that he should make friends with the others, little Hyukkie would opt to just watch and stare from behind his parents. 


All of that changed when another boy his age approached him and his parents at the park, “Can he pway wiff us, pwease?” the little boy asks his mother then he turns to Hyukkie, his shiny round eyes looking directly at him, “Can we be fwiends?”


Hyukkie was stunned. This was the first time he was the one who was asked, usually, it would be his parents talking to the others asking if it was alright that their little boy joined them. 


At that time Hyukjae didn’t know why there was this strong pounding in his chest. It was only later on when Hyukjae and Kyuhyun ( yes, he’s the boy who approached Hyukjae to be his friend) were in their second year in high school and reminiscing how they met and became friends did Hyukjae realize that that pounding feeling was pure joy. 


The pure joy of finally having his first friend, of having someone his age play with him till the sun came down. Together with Kyuhyun and Gomgom-ssi, Hyukjae’s childhood was the happiest he could ever have.


When it was time to go to school, Hyukjae was now more excited than nervous. Kyuhyun had a lot of help with Hyukjae’s first-day jitters. His best friend’s stories of sitting in his mother’s class helped pique Hyukjae’s interest, helping the latter look forward to going to school. 


On the day of their first day of school, surprisingly, Hyukjae and Kyuhyun both had a good night’s rest prior. Both the boy’s parents were happy that their sons had found friends in each other. With both boys holding onto each other’s hands— Hyukkie has Gomgom-ssi safely packed in his backpack because he insists on asking his teacher for permission if it was okay to keep the teddy bear by his side at all times, they bravely face the unknown that is nursery school.


Beri agasshi came a little later in Hyukjae’s life.


Beri agasshi was a gift his noona gave him when he was ten years old and went through a phase of religiously eating strawberries for two whole months. It got to a point where the sweet, plump red fruit was consumed by Hyukkie as a meal rather than a dessert or an afternoon snack. The moment ten-year-old Hyukjae opened his older sister’s present, it was like he fell in love all over again. Beri agasshi was as soft and cuddly as Gomgom-ssi was, however, what made her stand out was the plump strawberry encased in her fluffy brown arms. 


He vividly remembers being in complete awe when ten-year-old Hyukkie’s cute button nose picks up on the sweet and fruity scent that he’s well acquainted with. His surprised gasp prompts squeals and cooing from his mother and noona , his sparkling eyes are wide as he looks at the possible source of the scent and then getting an enthusiastic nod from his noona that yes, it’s from the teddy bear Hyukkie. 


From then on, it had been imprinted in Hyukjae’s mind to automatically think of home when the sweet and fruity scent coming from Beri agasshi together with the clean and cottony scent from the fabric softener his mother used to clean Gomgom-ssi . Having his two bears in his arms has always been a safe haven for Hyukjae. 


Although the years have long since washed the sweet and fruity scent of the strawberry in Beri agasshi ’s fluffy arms, Hyukjae took it upon himself to look for a scent that was close to it—the scent of home, if you will. It took a while, more so when he had allergic rhinitis, and just a hint of too strong a scent sends him into a flurry of sneezes. But when he had finally found it in a quaint, hole-in-the-wall store a few blocks from his high school, Hyukjae swears he almost shed a tear.


For the longest time, Gomgom-ssi and Beri agasshi had been Hyukjae’s source of comfort. No matter how overwhelming the changes in his life became or how draining his day in school was,  a thirty-minute cuddle session with his two most prized possessions was able to calm whatever storm was brewing inside of him. Of course, he’d also give credit to his best friend—Kyuhyun, who has witnessed and appeased almost all of his nervous breakdowns whenever his overthinking got too much.


And for a while, it looked like this setup was fool-proof, and Hyukjae graduated high school with flying colors. He and Kyuhyun got accepted to their first choice universities with their first choice courses and have peacefully breezed through the first two years of college. 


Living in a two-bedroom apartment a fifteen-minute bus ride away from their university was a far better choice than living in the university dorms. At least with their set up, they won’t have to worry about their groceries disappearing in the kitchen and bathing in the communal shower rooms. 


For the most part, their life in college was good. Hyukjae really flourished socially and academically in college. Despite the hesitation he had when they first stepped into the university, having Kyuhyun within arms reach really helped Hyukjae cope up with the huge changes college brought into their lives. 


Hyukjae didn’t find it too much of a loss that Kyuhyun was studying a different course, they had plenty of time to catch up and hang out during dinner and the weekends when they had no homework or projects to work on. In a way, Kyuhyun’s absence also helped Hyukjae reach out to people more. Back in high school, Kyuhyun had always been the one to make new friends first. Most of the time when Kyuhyun hung out with someone new, he’d automatically bring Hyukjae with him to help the latter be comfortable making new friends. Some found it endearing that this pair of childhood best friends are thick as thieves. While others found it odd and pitied Hyukjae for being overly dependent on Kyuhyun. Those people Kyuhyun paid no mind to, if they wouldn’t give Hyukjae a chance to show them how much of an amazing friend he is, then they weren’t worth his time.


Everything was smooth sailing until their third year of college; that’s when things went downhill. Hyukjae really struggled to juggle fulfilling his requirements, projects, and studying for quizzes and exams every week. No matter how much Hyukjae pushed himself to finish one project, a new one will be thrown in his direction after submitting the previous one.


It came to a point where his number one source of comfort— Beri agasshi and Gomgom-ssi, could no longer bring him the solace he longs for. Week after week; day after day feels more like a chore than a learning experience. There are instances where Hyukjae would rather lie in bed all day and stare at his ceiling than go to class, but then being alone with his thoughts running wild wouldn’t be good for him either. So Hyukjae would have to physically and mentally push himself out of bed, some attempts longer than others, and do whatever requirement he could get his hands on just to take his mind off of overthinking.


Again, there are times that keeping himself busy was the play. Hyukjae would spend hours sitting in class, diligently writing down notes during lectures then camping in the library during his break to rewrite them because his handwriting makes it impossible to understand what he just wrote down. Then when lunchtime is announced through the loud ringing of university bells, Sungmin and Jongwoon, and occasionally Kyuhyun, would have to physically drag Hyukjae out of the library for a much-needed refuel.


However, there are rare instances (which are now more frequent in his third year) where Hyukjae would just stare into space for a long period of time. When this happens, Hyukjae finds it hard to get away from the loud whispers in his head, mostly about his worries and insecurities for the future. He’s already frightened enough as it is, with the neverending list of requirements and deadlines to meet, together with exams to pass. Hyukjae doesn’t even want to think about the group thesis and his internship for the year after, yet somehow his professors seem to think it’s funny to use that as a threat and a scare tactic to the third year. 


With everything gradually piling up on Hyukjae, without a sign of stopping or slowing down, having a chance to calm down doesn’t really fit in the schedule. This was one of the reasons that made Hyukjae really upset.


One night when his spirits were really low, his body hunched over himself because of fatigue, Hyukjae hurried home so that he could have his comfort fix from his two prized possessions. He was more than ready to be overtaken by the scent of home and allow his senses to be numbed and momentarily forget about the stress he was feeling. However, after spending fifteen minutes buried into Beri agasshi and Gomgom-ssi, Hyukjae emerges feeling the same as he did when he came home; fatigued, worried and incredibly stressed. 


Try as he may, turning his bears to see if there’s a patch that offers a stronger scent of home, his fool-proof method of de-stressing just isn’t working as it should be. With his emotions already at their peak, the additional sadness and disappointment easily topple the wobbly tower over. 


When Kyuhyun gets home that night, he finds his best friend uncontrollably sobbing on the floor of the latter’s bedroom. His two teddy bears are tightly clutched in his arms while Hyukjae rocks his body back and forth, trying yet failing to calm himself down. Without a second thought, Kyuhyun drops his bag and rushes over to his best friend’s side, immediately wrapping his arms around him. His best friend hums whatever song comes to mind into Hyukjae’s ear, the latter instantly leaning into his best friend’s warmth and soothing melodies.


It took about thirty minutes for the tears to stop falling, fifteen more for him to open up about his stress and worries to Kyuhyun. That night Kyuhyun tucks Hyukjae in bed, only for the other to ask if it was alright that they slept in the same bed just that once. Although it was a struggle to fit their bodies into the single bed, they both maneuvered around each other that they eventually fit. 


That was the first night since the semester started that Hyukjae got a good night’s sleep. No nightmares, no waking up feeling nervous about the day ahead; he finally got the rest he deserved.

After that incident, Kyuhyun paid more attention to Hyukjae’s moods. Hyukjae really was lucky to have a friend like Kyuhyun. Even when Hyukjae didn’t verbally ask for it, Kyuhyun would randomly give him hugs and pats on the back. 


Whenever he would lock himself up in his room, even when Hyukjae knows Kyuhyun is as busy as he is (if not more), the latter would always drag him out of his room to join him for a midnight snack. It’s like his best friend had telepathic powers, he’d always appear at the most opportune timing; he’d always know when Hyukjae would need a cup of warm tea to calm him down or a shoulder to cry on whenever Hyukjae was too overwhelmed with deadlines.


There was one time when the best friends were cuddling on the couch, Hyukjae had opened up about feeling like a bad friend to Kyuhyun. However, before Hyukjae could even apologize and feel bad for his best friend, said best friend shuts him up by saying that Hyukjae is the best best friend anyone could ever have.


“Stop discrediting your efforts Hyuk, you’ve done so much for me as well.”


“Yeah, like what exactly?”


“Well, do you remember that one time in high school when I spent my week’s allowance in the pc bang and didn’t have the guts to tell my parents? Who was the one who paid for my lunch the whole week and brought an extra pair of snacks just so I could eat with him during break time as well?” Hyukjae chuckles softly at the memory.


He had warned Kyuhyun about allotting only the excess of his allowance and yet his best friend was too excited and fascinated with the flashing lights and the comfortable chairs, he paid Hyukjae’s warning no mind. The next morning Hyukjae finds his best friend visibly nervous and worried in class, only to find out that the latter had no idea how he was going to break it to his parents that he had spent all his allowance on gaming.


“That’s just one of the many things you’ve done for me. You’re just as amazing best friend as I have to you. You may not see the efforts you’ve done for me, but I do and they’re more than what I could ask for.” that did it, that broke the dam and now they’re both ugly crying into each other’s arms. 


They spend the rest of the night in each other’s arms, basking in the moment and setting aside the worries of tomorrow. Hyukjae doesn’t feel as worried as he had before, not when Kyuhyun has made it clear to lean on him when the going gets rough. And Hyukjae could only hope that Kyuhyun does the same. He knows that coming to an already stressed-out friend isn’t the most ideal approach but Hyukjae would drop everything just for his best friend. He really would.


As if anything Kyuhyun has done for him wasn’t enough for the latter, his sweetest gesture came right before the most stressful month of Hyukjae’s life in college. About a month and a half until summer break, Kyuhyun comes knocking on his door and quickly asks for Hyukjae to momentarily drop what he was doing and cover his eyes until Kyuhyun says so.


“Whatever shenanigan you’re up to Cho Kyuhyun, I want out of it. I have a deadline I need to catch up on plus I still need to rearrange my notes!”


“Don’t worry Hyuk, I promise this isn’t a prank and you’ll actually love me for this.”


“I’ve fallen for that before, the next thing I knew I was being thrown into Siwon’s pool like I weighed nothing at all!”


“That was hilarious I MEAN very unfortunate, yeah. But seriously though, like keep your eyes closed, okay? You’ll love what I’m about to give you, you can forget about all the other presents our friends have given you because absolutely nothing could top this.”


“Just get on with it Cho.” And Hyukjae complies with Kyuhyun’s request, this is the first time Hyukjae has heard his best friend ecstatic to give him a surprise that Hyukjae is a little tempted to peek through his fingers. So he waits, patiently. What’s the worst that could happen?


“Okay Hyukkie, I’m done setting up but before you uncover your eyes and take a look I just want to make it clear that this was not on-the-whim spending. I’ve thought about it for more than two weeks now and I really do think you’re going to love this.”


“It’s a little cringe now that I think about it, but the moment I saw him, I just knew he’s for you.” It’s almost funny how Hyukjae doesn’t need his eyes to know that Kyuhyun is nervous. He’d be laughing and pointing it out if Hyukjae didn’t find it endearing, whatever Kyuhyun got him must be something that came from his best friend’s heart.


The first thing Hyukjae notices once his vision has regained its clarity is the size—there’s literally a gigantic teddy bear sitting in the middle of his bed. The humongous teddy bear easily takes up the same space as Hyukjae would if he were to sit beside it. The color the bear comes in is a medium-light shade of brown that is calming to the eyes, with the cream-colored ribbon delicately tied around the bear’s neck. 


Although, despite its size, the most notable part of the bear was its round black eyes. From afar they’re the same as his teddy bears’, Beri agasshi and Gomgom-ssi, but there’s something more than Hyukjae just can’t place his finger on as he continues to stare into this bear’s eyes. There seems to be something that draws you in like the bear is staring right back at him. Maybe I’m just seeing things, I haven’t had my morning tea yet after all. Hyukjae dismisses it with this thought. Though at the back of his mind Hyukjae knows that it would continue to bother him until he finds the answer he needs.


“It’s beautiful Kyu, I love it.” Hyukjae reaches for his best friend for a tight hug, the latter immediately reciprocating. Kyuhyun heaves out a deep sigh, finally able to release the nerves of uncertainty he was feeling before. “Oh good, and it’s ‘he’ actually Hyuk. If you’d look at the engraving on the back of the small medallion on his bow, his name is Hae.” Kyuhyun pulls away from the hug to show Hyukjae the pendant hanging in the middle of the cream-colored bow. 


Upon closer look, after Kyuhyun had flipped the pendant to show the engraving on the back, Hyukjae gets mesmerized by the intricate design on the front. The resin design depicts soft waves rolling on the shore, the mix of navy blue, teal, and white is almost hypnotizing in a way, Hyukjae almost missed the lone gold starfish laying on the sand and half-covered by seafoam. 


“My aunt was actually reluctant to sell it to me,” Kyuhyun says beside him, his hand caressing and squeezing one of the soft arms of Hae, “she’s always told me that Hae has been in her store for years, and not once has a customer thought to pick him up. I thought she’d be glad I finally took him off her hands, I guess I thought wrong.”


“Well, you know how your aunt sometimes chooses items that have a story behind them, maybe this one’s story was something she related to?” Hyukjae takes his eyes off the pendant to stand back and get another good look at Hae, it’s a shame someone had to let him go. It also looks like Kyuhyun’s aunt hasn’t done any alterations to Hae, it was as if he’s brand new. Another thing that Hyukjae found odd. He had been to Kyu’s aunt’s antique shop and almost all of the items she sells there have undergone some sort of repair.


Kyuhyun just shrugs and stuffs his hands in his front pockets, “I don’t know Hyuk, Hae’s story sounds more like a myth or a legend to me. I don’t think you’d believe me even when I tell you.”


“I guess you’re right, but I’m glad she eventually gave in.” Hyukjae is definitely glad, don’t worry Hae, there’s no need to feel lonely anymore. 


Hyukjae never really understood what made him think that way, but strangely, Hyukjae had a really good feeling about Hae.

Oddly enough, Kyuhyun was right about Hae —it truly seems like they were made for each other. 


When Kyuhyun left Hyukjae after giving him Hae, Hyukjae was dumbstruck for a good twenty minutes. He spent those twenty minutes alternating staring into space and then staring at Hae, then back into space. Honestly, Hyukjae was really happy to receive Kyu’s gift. It’s like a milestone of sorts, he got Gomgom-ssi when he was about to start going to nursery school and Beri agasshi when he was at grade school. In a way, Hae is like a really late congratulatory gift for getting into his dream university—well, in this case, for making it through halfway into his degree. 


However what baffled Hyukjae was, what was he supposed to do with Hae exactly? 


Hae was leaps and bounds larger than his two bears—heck, he took up half of Hyukjae’s single bed! So instead of continuing what he was doing before Kyuhyun’s surprise, Hyukjae spends the rest of the night trying to think of where he would place Hae. 


Hyukjae had considered Kyuhyun’s suggestion of cuddling Hae whenever it was time to sleep. He had seriously considered this because Kyuhyun was well aware of his habit of reaching for his teddy bears whenever it became too stressful. So despite the teasing tone, Hyukjae knows that Kyuhyun means well.


Another option Hyukjae has thought of is seating Hae right beside his study table so that when he felt like having a quick break, Hyukjae could just plop down on the teddy bear’s lap like it was a bean bag. Maybe have Hae’s fluffy and squishy arms wrap around him like a safety blanket. However, Hyukjae takes it back immediately, having felt bad at the thought of leaving Hae on the floor. He wouldn’t want the bear to get dirty, even if Hyukjae cleaned his room twice a week.


After about an hour (thirty minutes brainstorming, the remaining thirty spent marveling at how soft and squishy Hae felt), Hyukjae had decided to give Kyuhyun’s suggestion a try. When Hyukjae checks his phone for the time, it is thirty minutes before midnight; he decides to call it a night. 


“Right, how do we do this?” Hyukjae asks no one in particular, throwing the question in the air. He’s already got his pajamas on, a cute navy blue set with cartoon monkeys and bananas. What once was a gag gift from his other friend, Heechul, turned into one of Hyukjae’s favorite sets; he is more than ready for a good night’s sleep. 


Hyukjae surveys his so-called ‘battlefield’. 


His bed looks so much smaller than it really is now that Hae is right in the middle. Beri agasshi and Gomgom-ssi look so adorable beside the giant that is Hae, Hyukjae is already planning a mini pictorial in the morning just because his room gets the best ‘Instagram able lighting during that time (however, he doesn’t plan on posting it on social media, more like he’ll have it as a lock screen and home screen). Hyukjae slowly approaches his bed, with no concrete plan in mind at all, just the abrupt urge to belly flop smack on top of Hae’s soft and fluffy belly. “Fuck it,” Hyukjae says before he backs away from his bed, far enough for him to gain momentum for the leap he’s about to do. 


Hyukjae just knows he looks silly from someone else’s point of view, he’s pretty sure that sprinting across such a short distance warrants an injury. But like what he just said, fuck it. So he does, throws caution into the wind, and goes for it. Hyukjae crosses the short distance towards his bed and jumps just close enough that when he lands on Hae, he’s right where he planned to be—right on top of the giant bear’s belly. 


The impact causes his two other bears to fly in opposite directions and now lay on his bedroom floor yet Hyukjae pays them no mind for now. He’s fully enjoying the moment. Adrenaline is pumping through his veins, his heart is pounding against his chest, and his head feels light from moving too fast, still, Hyukjae doesn’t pay any attention. 


“Wow” he puffs out before his body falls lax against the bear’s belly. Hyukjae then fixes his position, he’s now laying on his stomach with the bear’s legs on either side of his torso. Oddly enough when Hyukjae places his arms around Hae ’s lower torso, it fits perfectly; Hyukjae’s arms aren’t straining to reach around the bear nor is it too lax that he needs to tighten his hold. Huh, I can get used to this . Hyukjae’s body further relaxes into the stuffed bear, even going as far as burying his face into Hae’s furry belly. “You’re really comfortable Hae , I hope you don’t mind cuddles.” his voice is muffled into the bear’s tummy, not that he needs anyone to hear what he said anyway. So he lets himself get comfortable, not a minute longer Hyukjae feels the knots on his back loosen as he gladly welcomes sleep to overcome him. 

The next morning, Hyukjae wakes up well-rested, he’s even drooling into Hae’s furry torso. He’s also noticed that he’s changed positions in his sleep, having woken up laying on his side while his head nestled comfortably on the junction where Hae’s head and torso meet. 


“You must think I’m odd,” Hyukjae says to Hae once he’s stretched out all the kinks in his muscles. “You’re definitely odd,” he continues, “you’re talking to a stuffed bear for goodness’ sake.” Hyukjae shakes his head in disbelief, I’ve definitely gone mad, he concludes—well, he’s not far off. College really did a number on Hyukjae’s sanity.


Even after questioning his sanity, Hyukjae didn’t stop cuddling Hae to sleep. It’s not like he had any other choice, he’s finally gotten the best sleep since starting his third year in college; who was he to give that away? 


It wasn’t until the end of the second semester of his third year did Hyukjae notice that there are other positive changes besides a good night’s sleep. If Kyuhyun, Sungmin, and Jongwoon (the other two Hyukjae met in college and have become good friends with) hadn’t pointed out that Hyukjae was less stressed and smiled more, he wouldn’t have noticed at all. 


“Are you dating someone?” Sungmin asks him, his eyes are squinting at Hyukjae, clearly suspicious and very much intrigued by the change in the latter’s behavior.


They were in their usual hangout which was the cafe a short walk outside the university. It was still packed with students but not so much that it’s difficult to grab a table, plus Jongwoon’s boyfriend works part-time as a barista there so most of the time there are in-house treats like sandwiches and cakes (no matter how much they refuse to take them).


Hyukjae had two hours to kill while Sungmin wanted to work on finalizing his requirements at a place where he could also nibble on sweets and freely drink his coffee. Jongwoon just tagged along because Ryeowook’s (his boyfriend) shift is about to end and they’re going on a dinner date after. 


Anyway, the question obviously catches Hyukjae off guard, his hand still from scrolling through his Instagram feed. “Don’t you think if I were dating someone, you guys would be the first to know?” Hyukjae locks and sets his phone on the table, now fully invested in the conversation with Sungmin. He almost let out a guffaw, had they been somewhere more private. ‘Dating? Me? Is he out of his mind?’ Hyukjae thinks to himself, the thought of dating is totally foreign to him.


“Honey, I don’t think even you would be the first to know, with how oblivious you are,” Sungmin replies with so much finesse and class, Hyukjae almost misses the insult. “I think you’re forgetting that time Yunho sunbae was clearly flirting with you but you unintentionally turned him down saying that, and I quote, he’s become a really good sunbae to you, end quote.”


“Yikes, that wasn’t a good sight.” Jongwoon winces for an added effect, further contributing to Hyukjae’s flushed face. Boy, that was the most uncomfortable conversation Hyukjae’s had in his life. Yunho didn’t make it any better by trying to make his intentions clear, only for Hyukjae to let him down easily and decline. Yikes indeed. “Can you please stop bringing that up? Our interactions are awkward enough as it is, I don’t need you to remind me every time.”


“I wouldn’t have to if you’d just come clean on who you’re dating!” 


“There is none, I swear! Plus did you think with how busy I already am that I would have the extra time to go on dates and such?” Sungmin still has his eyes squinted at Hyukjae, still not convinced with his friend’s reasoning, he’s got Hyukjae sweating buckets even when he’s not guilty of anything. “So you mean to tell me...that, this” Sungmin gestures to Hyukjae’s whole figure, “is a result of, what? A good night’s sleep?”


“I...think so?”


“You’re not sure?”


“Honestly? I don’t really know anymore. Maybe my body is just excited about the fact that we’re almost done with this semester.” Hyukjae leans back and relaxes in his seat, he really is excited though. He only needs to pass last-minute requirements then he’s all set to go back home for the summer. “Hmm, if you say so. But really though, I’m happy you’re finally relaxing and letting go of your stress. This semester has been tough for all of us, and it really hit you hard, Hyukkie.” Sungmin’s face is back to normal, back to his cute and squishy self. Hyukjae could see that Sungmin is visibly relieved, he’s glad. There were instances where he felt bad for breaking down in front of Sungmin and Jongwoon. They all had their own requirements and deadlines to worry about, Hyukjae didn’t want to add to that. 


And it’s like the two read minds because they would immediately reassure Hyukjae that he was never a burden. They’d drop whatever they were about to do and focus on helping Hyukjae calm down and momentarily forget about his stress. Besides Kyuhyun, Sungmin and Jongwoon readily gave him their shoulders to cry and lean on. He’d forever be grateful for being blessed with three supportive friends make that four, Ryeowook basically adopted him the moment Jongwoon introduced them. He’d trust them with his life.


The two share a smile before going back to their own business. 

It wasn’t until Hyukjae had reached his apartment hours later did he realize that he felt lighter. The usual heavy weight on his shoulders was gone and he’s now able to stand straighter like he’d gotten his confidence back.


However, that thought is quickly set aside, well, until he’s gotten a definitive answer as to why anyway.


Admittedly, Hyukjae had mixed feelings about jumping into the new semester. On the one hand, he’s excited that it’s finally his last year in college. On the other hand, he’s nervous because it’s his last year in college.


Believe it or not, the one thing he’s definitely excited about is finally getting back to his and Kyuhyun’s apartment; back to Hae basically. Hyukjae was sad that he couldn’t bring Hae back home with them after the previous semester since it was too much work bringing a human-sized teddy bear to and from his hometown. Kyuhyun had to placate his sulking friend with strawberry ice cream and strawberry shortcake from the cafe near their home just so Hyukjae arrives home with a big smile on his face. 


To say that Hyukjae had missed the bear was an understatement; Hyukjae longed for his cuddle buddy, as silly as that sounds. Although Hyukjae was able to bring Beri agasshi and Gomgom-ssi home with him, Hae left such a big imprint (literally and figuratively), cuddling his two bears to sleep just didn’t feel as good. Hyukjae felt bad having thought that way yet when his nose is hit with the familiar scent of strawberries and clean cotton, he’s reminded that the comfort Beri agasshi and Gomgom-ssi gave, or rather gives him, was still the same. It still had the same effect on Hyukjae. The comfort that Hae gives him is just as potent, it’s just through a different way.

Hyukjae is visibly buzzing on the way back to their apartment, Kyuhyun teasingly points it out on more than one occasion yet Hyukjae paid his best friend no mind. His best friend could tease him till the end of time, he’s finally sinking his face into the plush and fluffy chest of his teddy bear again—Hyukjae’s got his priorities straight.


They arrive at their apartment’s front door fifteen minutes later. Kyuhyun makes a show of fumbling with his keys, further prolonging the time they spend standing outside and visibly feeding off the annoyed and impatient expression on his best friend’s face. When Hyukjae decides he’s finally had enough of his best friend’s shenanigans, he fishes the spare key from the top of their door frame and unlocks their front door himself.


One moment Kyuhyun’s best friend is physically buzzing beside him, the next he sees the latter’s figure zooming past the front door and into his bedroom. “Kids these days,” Kyuhyun says, more to himself, “if I had known you’d replace me with a teddy bear, I would have considered a different gift!” He jokingly tries to raise his voice but Kyuhyun knows his efforts won't matter. His best friend is too far gone in his longing anyways.

Hyukjae does hear Kyuhyun, although he doesn’t really understand what his best friend is going on about. His face is comfortably buried into Hae ’s fluffy chest, basking in the scent it’s giving off. Night after night of cuddling, it’s impossible for Hae not to pick up the scent of Hyukjae body wash and shampoo—a mix of sea salt and woody sage. It’s strangely comforting smelling himself on Hae. “This is so weird” he concludes but already too high off of the comfort of cuddling Hae after so long, Hyukjae doesn’t think it’s a bad thing. 


“You don’t think this is weird, don’t you Hae ?” Hyukjae’s straining his neck to look at the bear’s face as if he’s expecting some form of reply. “You’re right, how could this be weird when you’re so comfy.” then returns to his previous position—his face buried into Hae’s chest, while his arms are around the bear’s form. There really is no place like home.


Hyukjae was right about his last year in college being the most stressful. 


He thought he had mentally prepared himself enough for the semester—for the whole year basically, but boy was he wrong. A whole week hasn’t even passed and he’s already scheduled for a group meeting for their thesis. So much for setting anything thesis-related back for at least a month.


“How is it that there’s already a group with their topic approved? Like, did they not enjoy their summer break?” Sungmin sighs, already sounding defeated and professors haven’t even started their lessons yet. They’re lounging at their usual cafe, this time Ryeowook is sitting with them as it’s his day off. The cafe is crowded since it’s the start of the semester, students still have time to kill and relax before the real war begins. “Can we not think about it yet, my mind is still riding out the summer break haze.” Hyukjae takes a long sip from his strawberry latte, the sweetness and slight tartness from the fresh strawberries helping his heart go back to its homeostatic state. 


“Oh, has Jongwoon told you guys yet? We’ve met each other’s parents.”


“You—and you didn’t bother to tell us?! I thought we were your friends?” Ryeowook’s announcement completely changed the mood of the whole table. Sungmin is now berating embarrassed Jongwoon into telling him every single detail of the lunch date that led to meeting each other’s parents. He and Ryeowook share a smile, obviously enjoying Sungmin fire questions at Jongwoon without letting the poor guy breathe at least.


What a great way to start the semester.


After a week of exams, a month and a half have already passed. So far, so good—for the most part. 


Hyukjae’s group was struggling to get their main topic approved but thankfully, after countless sleepless nights polishing everything, they got their approval just two days before exams week. For the time being, their thesis can be set aside in favor of studying for exams and finalizing projects they need to submit individually.


Now that prelims are over and done with, Hyukjae is kind of grateful for the stress his third year in college brought; at least now he’s a little used to the pressure. Plus he couldn’t have gotten through the previous year without his friends—Kyuhyun, Sungmin, and Jongwoon. Of course, he couldn’t forget about Beri agasshi , Gomgom-ssi, and Hae —those moments where he was left alone would have been unbearable if not for those three giving Hyukjae a source of comfort and a quick escape from reality. Hae, especially, has been a really good way for Hyuk to release his thoughts and frustrations. 


It’s still a little difficult for Hyukjae to tell his friends what he’s really feeling—he’s more of a listening type of person anyway. So one night, completely on a whim, Hyukjae dropped everything he was working on to lay in his bed out of frustration. He felt irritated, tired, hungry, and extremely overwhelmed that he had no specific words in his mind to express everything he was feeling. Hyukjae knows he couldn’t barge into Kyuhyun’s room because the latter was busy with his own studies, Sungmin was also swamped with requirements while Jongwoon was out with Ryeowook for a study date. Even so, he didn’t think he would know what to rant about if one of them was free to listen. 


So out of utter exasperation, Hyukjae chooses to shove his face into Hae’s fluff tummy and scream all his pent-up energy and emotions. 


Hyukjae’s face was warm, and he’s pretty sure it was red as well, once he’s done and has emerged from the bear’s tummy. Surprisingly, his head feels a little less suffocated with emotions and his body is more relaxed. “I’m sorry for screaming into you Hae, I just needed to get all that out.” Hyukjae apologizes to the bear, smoothing out the fur that was frazzled when Hyukjae unloaded his frustrations into the bear. “I don’t really know why I did that but it’s really helped, so thank you for allowing me Hae .” 


“Who am I kidding, I must have really lost my mind,” Hyukjae gets off of Hae completely, running his hand through his hair and trying to get a hold of himself, “I’m talking to a stuffed bear as if it's another human being. This is just great .” letting out a heavy sigh, Hyukjae resigns to getting back on his desk to continue working where he left off.

Unbeknownst to Hyukjae, even after thinking that it was ridiculous, he finds himself talking to the bear more and more.


It starts with small comments he’d say to himself, then unconsciously pausing and looking in the direction of where Hae is as if Hyukjae was asking for his opinion on the matter. Night after night, small comments become sentences of concern and worry, until finally Hyuk throws it all out of the window and unloads everything onto Hae. 


“Obviously I’m ecstatic that the company accepted my application, even if it was partially because of one of my professor’s recommendations.” he’s sitting between Hae’s soft and chubby legs, Hyukjae’s back comfortably leaning on the bear’s torso while the bear’s fluffy arms are wrapped about his form for the complete ensemble. “That just makes it more nerve-wracking! What if I’m not up to their standards and they tell my professor, that’d be so humiliating!” Hyukjae’s now slowly sliding his body down, all the way until his head is seated on the bear’s lap instead. This particular worry has been running continuously in his mind for days now. 


As he wraps his arms around Hae’s lower torso, his face immediately finds a home in the soft, plush tummy of the bear—very reminiscent of the first thing Hyukjae did on Hae's first night with him. “You’re really comfortable,” huh, deja vu, a sense of calm washes over him so much so that his worries seem to be kept at bay and he’s able to think more about the positives instead. “I’d just have to prove myself, huh? Make them see how much of a great addition I am to the team.” He briefly leaves the comfort of Hae ’s tummy to look at the bear’s face, his round black eyes in particular, “That’s the right way to approach this, isn’t it Hae ?” 


Hyukjae was only met with silence, however, the affirmation was crystal clear. He doesn’t know why that is or if it should be trusted but somehow it feels right to Hyukjae. 


Time flies by so quickly, even more so when you’re swamped with everything the university could throw at you. It’s already halfway through the second semester and Hyukjae’s just about done at this point.


At the end of every week, Hyukjae feels more like the walking dead as he literally drags his steps on his way home. No one was safe, even Kyuhyun (who leaps and bounds better at handling stress than Hyukjae) stared into space more often than not, only to snap back to reality after Hyukjae smacks his hands together a few inches from his best friend’s ear. Even then Kyuhyun would just spare him a faraway look before returning to whatever he was doing before being in a trance.


Don’t get him wrong, there are certain aspects that Hyukjae is really enjoying doing. He has integrated well into his internship, despite being nervous about it at first. Hyukjae’s really thriving in the office setting, his sunbaes were really kind to him and are very approachable that Hyukjae’s already comfortable around them. He’s also enjoying working on their group thesis, believe it or not. Maybe it’s because it’s almost a hundred percent sure that they’d be able to conduct their defense before the school year ends, they only need to iron out the kinks and make sure that all computations and survey answers are accounted for.


However, Hyukjae cannot attest that all of that is rays of sunshine and rainbows. He was still an intern after all. Everything his university sunbaes’ testimonies of being an errand person was not an exaggeration; it’s basically Hyukjae's whole life as an intern. 


At first, he thought, yeah, I could do this. What Hyukjae didn’t take into account was he had to balance running off to do the latest errand assigned to him without sacrificing the quality of work expected from him. Being a glorified errand boy was easy to do without having piles upon piles of reports that need to be proofread right away because the board of director’s meeting really needs that document. So it should not come as a surprise when Hyukjae comes home after every shift bone-tired, he forgoes changing into his pajamas—just straight up cuddles Hae then calling it a night.


“You’re really comfortable Hae, I don’t care how many times I’ve said that but you really are—comfortable.” Hyukjae’s lying face up, his back is once again leaning on Hae’s torso—the usual setup nowadays. “I had a lot of fun at work today, even if my boss does nothing but yells out Mr. Lee then ordered me to do everything for him. I already told you my sunbaes are really kind, right? Well, they offered to help again today but I just declined, I wouldn’t want them to get in trouble for helping me do my job.”


Then Hyukjae sits up and fully faces Hae, “I can’t believe I’ve almost had you for a year now, can you believe it? I still don’t get how no one has noticed you when you’re this big. It’s their loss anyway, they’ve missed out on the bestest cuddly buddy.” 


“Have I truly gone mad when I think about wishing you were a real person? I bet we’d be the best of friends as well.” his hands softly brushing the fur on Hae’s face, those round black eyes are drawing him in once more, “I bet you’d be as sweet and playful as Kyu, as cute and squishy as Min and as talented as Jongwoon. You’d fit perfectly in our group Hae. ” 


Hyukjae stares into those beady eyes he’s grown familiar with, a huge wave of emotions overwhelming him to tears. “Thank you for everything, Hae . You’ve really helped me through a lot this year.” no longer able to contain his emotions, Hyukjae lunges forward and wraps his arms where Hae’s neck is supposed to be. He holds onto the bear tightly, not knowing for how long but somewhere along the way Hyukjae places a tender kiss at the top of Hae ’s head like he once did to Kyuhyun when they were kids. 


He has no idea why he had the urge to do that, but it feels so right —there really is no harm to that, is there?


There’s so much running inside Hyukjae’s mind right now, he’s already got his battle plan for the night. 


The first thing he’ll do is hop in the shower for a quick rinse and change into comfier clothes. Next up is to brew enough coffee that could fill at least two mugs, that way if ever Hyukjae needed a refill, he wouldn’t have to wait. Hyukjae’s contemplating whether to go through with the next step or not, but then again Sungmin said it helped him so he decides to give it a try tonight.


Okay, so after coffee, he’s lighting the scented candle Sungmin bought for him to help him stay calm yet focused on the tasks Hyukjae wants to finish that night. He can’t remember the specific scent but he trusts Sungmin’s choice. Once everything is set, Hyukjae plans on conquering his first task: editing and proofreading the last chapter of their group thesis. Hyukjae has mixed feelings about whether he’d be able to finish that in one night however, it's better to start doing that now than postponing for later.


“Looks like I’ll be eating really late again tonight” Hyukjae signs, resigned but already used to this setup since the start of his group thesis and internship, “Let’s do this, Lee Hyukjae.” 


Hyukjae is so out of it when he enters his bedroom, mentally preparing himself to set his battle plan into action as soon as he can so he could start working, that he doesn’t notice there’s another person inside his bedroom.


“Uh...hi.” Hyukjae jumps at least a foot up into the air, his heart is already at his throat, Hyukjae is afraid it’ll fall right out. The person seated at the foot of his bed is visibly startled as well, his eyes are wide, a mix of surprise, concern, and a hint of apprehension appearing on the stranger’s handsome face. 


Logically, the correct reaction to a stranger in his room would be to calmly ask the stranger what he wants, try not to aggravate the possible assailant while Hyukjae tries to subtly call the cops. 


Hyukjae takes multiple deep breaths to calm his pounding heart, his hand is already reaching for his phone in his back pocket. His eyes are alert for any sudden movements, however, when Hyukjae locks eyes with the stranger, his whole form goes completely rigid. 


I know those eyes.




The stranger quickly lifts his head up and towards him, his eyes shining because of the name Hyukjae uttered. The stranger then cautiously stands from the foot of the bed, still maintaining a safe distance between them, “That’s my name, I’m Hae. It’s me, Hyukkie.” 


And just like that all of the air in Hyukjae’s lungs leaves him. His vision is a little shaky and he’s also feeling a little dizzy that he has to reach over for something to prevent himself from falling flat on his face. Hyukjae’s knees almost give up on him but Hae is quicker, and in a flash, he feels gentle hands slowly maneuver his body so that he could sit on his bed. As quickly as those hands appeared to help him, it leaves just as quick—if not quicker. He also notices that Hae is considerate enough to maintain a distance from him. “Would—would you feel better if I left you alone for now?”


“S-sorry—I just, are you really Hae? My stuffed teddy bear Hae?


“Yes, I really am—uhm, your Hae.” Hyukjae is totally not paying attention to the flush of Hae’s cheeks, furthermore forgetting the implication of what he had just said, “Before I was turned into a giant stuffed bear, I went by Lee Donghae.”


His eyes doubled in size, Hyukjae no longer feels dizzy courtesy of everything he’s hearing from Hae Turned —turned into, like princess and frog type of magic—shit, wh-whatever it was that turned you, that-that kind?” 


“Kind of? But instead of a vengeful voodoo master, I wasn’t turned against my will. I wanted to be turned into a teddy bear.” 


“What do you mean?” Hyukjae scoots a little closer towards Donghae, his initial apprehension slowly chipping away.

“I...I was going to drown myself that night, when she found me.” Donghae bites the tip of his thumb, he takes a small pause to collect his thoughts then takes a deep breath before continuing, “I just..felt tired, so so tired. I was abandoned by my birth mother because she wasn’t ready to have me. As if that wasn’t enough when I’ve finally picked myself off the ground and had a stable job and relationship, my boyfriend left without a trace.”


“He said I wasn’t enough anymore, no other explanation, just those words again .” tears start to form in Donghae’s eyes, the pain doesn’t hurt as much as before but it still stings sometimes “After everything I’ve done to better myself, to move forward and prove to myself that I’m not a hindrance like my mother thought I was, why is it that I’m still not enough?”


“Why am I never enough? Why can’t these people just tell me where I lacked so that I could fix it? I can be better, I know I could be better but they’ve never given me a second chance to prove myself.”


“A month after my boyfriend left I made the choice to just give up and let it all go. So I went to the place I was happiest, a beach a drive away from the orphanage I grew up in. I planned to go in the water and never come back out.”


“I drove there and arrived an hour before midnight. There wasn’t anyone there so I spent a few minutes just savoring the scene before me. I remember the moon looked bigger than it normally was, so I kind of thanked whatever god or deity that heard me for granting me an enchanting sight before I died.”


“It’s such a shame,” Donghae longingly said into the breeze, “that I’d only had a chance to see the moon in its immaculate beauty when I’m about to leave this world.”


“Is this your compensation?” Donghae scoffs, there are angry tears spilling from his eyes, “Is this supposed to be some sort of parting gift?!”


He receives no response for his cries, expected but it frustrates Donghae nonetheless. As he takes heavy steps towards the shoreline, he spots a lone starfish on the sand. Donghae carefully picks it up and brushes the sand off its back, “Would it be too much to ask for you to accompany me? At least until I leave.” With a heavy heart, Donghae cradles the starfish close to his chest and continues his tread towards the shoreline and into the deep end. 


The closer he gets, the weight of what he’s about to do becomes heavier. Donghae braves the freezing cold water that has reached his ankles and slowly pushes against the current. But before he gets any farther from the shore, Donghae hears a voice faintly calling his name. At first, he brushes it off, thinking it’s his mind playing tricks on him but then he hears his name again, louder this time.


Donghae turns around and searches for where it could possibly come from and his eyes immediately zeroing in on a figure not too far from the shore. There near the giant rocks stood a lady bathing in the glow of the moonlight. Donghae thought that he was just imagining things but then the lady beckoned for him to come closer and leave the water. It was like he was in a trance, his feet moving towards the lady on their own. By the time his mind had caught up on what was happening, Donghae was already facing the glowing lady.


She’s so beautiful, Donghae thought.


“Why thank you, Donghae.” the lady answered, her eyes turning into crescents when she saw his eyes widen. “H-how’d you know my name?”


“I’ve been watching over you, my child. I know of the great pain that you are suffering from, which is why I came down to meet you tonight.”


“Who are you, exactly?”


“I am known by many names, but the one I like best is Selene.”


“Why did you come here? Why me?”


“Because, my child, I believe that you deserve to find the answers that you are looking for.”


“How do you know that? That I’d find whatever I’m looking for? Haven’t I suffered enough? Why should I even believe you?”


“Because I know the pain you are going through, and if I have to play favorites just so others would not suffer as much as I have, then so be it.”


Donghae is hesitant but eventually takes her hand. A soft, motherly smile blooms on the lady’s face before he places her other hand to cover Donghae’s eyes. “The love you have in your heart is not going to be wasted my child, be patient and rest for the time being. The answers you seek would only be revealed to you once the person with as much love to give reveals their heart when you’ve only given so little.”

By the time Donghae finished telling his story, Hyukjae’s tears wouldn’t stop flowing. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that Hae .” Hyukjae’s heart is aching from the suffering that Donghae had gone through, so much so that he’s closing the distance between them to wrap his arms around the other. The latter is startled but he welcomes the hug nonetheless, a huge wave of relief washing over him.


When Donghae had turned back to human that morning, he had been terrified of what Hyukjae’s reaction might be. The worst-case scenario was that the latter would not believe a word he said and call the cops on him. However, a greater part of him knew that Hyukjae would hear him out. After a year of observing him, every day spent with the other made it clear to Donghae that Hyukjae was the one who would hold the answers to his questions.


In the course of one year, this man had showered him with so much affection and appreciation even when Donghae had been a lifeless stuffed bear. There wasn’t a day Donghae had spent in Hyukjae’s presence that the other made him feel like Hyukjae was just using him for his own benefit. Every single day, Hyukjae would express how much Donghae had helped him get through whatever struggle he was facing. He talked to him as if he was human, even when Hyukjae would follow it up with a question concerning his sanity but still continued to do so because simply being there for the latter was enough for him. 


Laying there on Hyukjae’s bed, waiting for the other to come home was enough for Hyukjae to forget about his fatigue once he’s wrapped in Hae ’s arms. 


Cuddling with Hae to sleep was enough for Hyukjae to wake up the next morning well-rested and with the biggest smile on his face. 


Hyukjae burying his face into Hae ’s fluffy tummy was enough for the other to fall lax and find comfort in his embrace even when everything in his life demands chaos.


Everything Donghae has provided for Hyukjae, even when all he did was stay in the latter’s room for a whole year, was more than what Hyukjae could ever ask for. I’m finally enough. 


That final realization hits Donghae like a tidal wave. 


Now Donghae is crying for a whole new reason. His heart has never felt this full, it feels as if it’s going to burst out of his chest. He closes his eyes, his vision is too blurry with tears for him to see anyway, Donghae pours his heartfelt gratitude to the lady he met on the beach that night. 


Thank you so much, Selene, for allowing me to have another chance.