Chapter 1: The stars are shining above the clouds
The door opens to an empty apartment. It smells like her. A needle prickles your heart. You ignore it. Grabbing your shoes, you take them off. Walking around in high heels all day takes a lot out of you. Your blazer, you take it off too. You don't even like them. Preferring sneakers and hoodies.
You make your way to the couch. Plopping down on the comforter, a sigh escapes your lips. Today was a long, long day. Trying to make the merger between the two companies as seamless as possible is not the easiest thing to do. But you're trying. You just hope that those below you actually try too. God damn those incompetent workers.
Shirt unbuttoned, a beer in one hand, and a tv remote on the other. You know you probably look like one of those middle-aged men right now. But you just want to unwind right now. So, you could care less about what you look like right now. You're alone anyway.
Until you're not anymore.
The door beeps, and your ears pick up the sound of footsteps. She's back. From where? You don't know. You didn't ask. Maybe you should have. It would be in your best interest to know if something ever happens to her or if there's an emergency. But you don't ask. You don't think you'll ever ask. You already ruined her life. You don't need to invade her privacy on top of that.
The steps come closer and you look from where you're slouched on the couch. There she is in all her glory. Kim Minjoo. The daughter of Kim Jiseon, the owner of a pharmaceutical company. The Goddess that everyone loves. And your wife.
You hate it. But you don't hate her. You could never hate her. But you hate the title. Most of all, you hate how you both got the title. It was an arranged marriage. Your parents wanted to merge the two Kim companies, and what better way to make it even smoother if the heir marries the second daughter?
You hate that too. Heir. Like that's what you only are. Like that's what you'll only be. There's a Chaewon beneath all of that too. Not just a Kim.
But you don't put it all on her. After all, what did Minjoo do? She's innocent in all of this. She's a victim too. You wish she wasn't though. All you wanted was for her to be happy. And you don't think she'll ever be happy with you. Maybe if you had met with different circumstances. Maybe. But what's done is done. No need to cry over spilled milk. Thinking of what-ifs won't do anyone any good really.
"Hey," you greet her. You try to give her a smile, but only a small one comes out. Emotions aren't your thing, especially showing them. But you try for Minjoo.
("Do you hate me?" Minjoo asked you one day. Out of the blue really. You've just been quietly having dinner together.
"What?" Your eyebrows furrow. Hate her? That's practically impossible. What made her think that?
"It's just—you don't—every time we—" Minjoo sighs and takes a deep breath before continuing. A frown on her face. "You never smile at me. You never say more than 5 words at a time. Whenever we eat together you just stay quiet. You never give me the time of day nor do you even spare a glance my way."
Quite honestly, you're pretty bewildered right now. Who knew the quiet beauty has a fiery side to her? You’ve just found another side to her. There's a burst of joy from that information. But it quickly disappears once you've registered what she said. You frown too. Because no, you don't hate her. You could never hate her.
"Why do you hate me?" she interrupts you. "I know our circumstances aren't exactly ideal, but—"
"Minjoo," you softly cut her off. You never liked raising your voice. It's a waste of energy in your opinion. Plus, doing so in this situation would probably make it worse. "I don't hate you."
"Y-You don't?" She looks confused. You sigh inwardly. Thinking back to your actions, you guess you haven't been the most welcoming. You were only respecting her space, but you guess it worked badly in your favor.
You study her for a moment. Her eyebrows furrowed. Her hands clutching on the utensils. Knuckles white. It must've been bothering her more than you thought. You have half a mind to hold her hand. Comfort her. But you know your boundaries. You're not a real couple.
"I never hated you," you try to reassure her. "In fact, I quite like you, you know?"
"If that's true, then why do you look like someone just told you that the company is going bankrupt?" Minjoo blurts out before she could stop herself. When she does realize, she covers her mouth and tries to quickly salvage it.
But you laugh instead. A soft and quiet laugh. You smile at her, albeit a small one.
"Thank god for that."
"Nothing," you chuckle at her expression. "I like you, Minjoo. More than you think."
You wonder if you're seeing things or if she's actually blushing. The lighting is quite dim. It could be just the trick of the light. Why would she blush from that anyway? But you feel your heart soaring regardless. You don't know what it means. You don't think you want to find out. So, you ignore it. (You ended up finding out later anyway.)
"Then can you please tell me or something? Or give me a sign? Cause I can never tell what you're thinking," she asks you while looking the other way. It's cute how her ears peak out.
To be honest, she didn't think it would be that easy. Nor did she expect the conversation to go this way. Minjoo didn't want to be dramatic, but she was expecting more screaming and curses. At the very least, some barely veiled threats coming her way. But here we are.
"Hey," she greets back to you. Her coat dangling from her arm. A tired look on her face. Your chest is immediately filled with worry. She nods to the can of beer in your hand. "Tough day?"
You should be the one asking that. You nod anyway. Minjoo hums before walking away to the kitchen. She sets down her coat on the counter. You watch her as she moves around the kitchen. Concern still on the forefront of your mind.
You stand up as she starts making some tea for herself. Leaving the beer can on the coffee table. You turn off the tv too. It was a welcomed distraction earlier. Not so much right now. You roll up your sleeve before leaning against the island counter. A pensive look on your face. What has her so worn out?
Minjoo jumps when she finally notices you standing behind her. She takes a hand to her chest and complains to you about startling her. You just give her a small smile and a soft sorry.
"So?" she asks you while holding on her mug. Blowing on the hot tea.
"I'm pretty sure you didn't come here to just stare at me," she jokes. "So, what is it?"
"Why can't I?" you ask her back.
"Why can't you what?" She tilts her head a bit and it wakes up the butterflies.
"Why can't I stand here and just stare at you?" You're genuinely confused. People stand around to look at art. People also stand around to see models run down the walkway—well, technically, they're sitting down but that doesn't matter right now. Both of those things are allowed. So, why can't you do that right now?
"Well—you—um," Minjoo stutters with her response. From the past year of living with you, she had picked up on your signals. Learned all your habits and ticks. She knows that you're genuinely confused, and she doesn't know how to answer you.
"Well, anyway," you say—saving her from her misery. You want to know why she's so worn out. "What happened today?"
"Today?" This was unusual. You never ask her anything about her day.
You nod and wait for her to continue.
"Oh, well..." Minjoo sips on her tea. If she's being honest, she's stalling. How much should she tell you? She knows how you react when it comes to him. She decides to not say anything about him, lest she wants you to worry. "I met with my friends today."
"Ah, the tall kid and the hamster looking one?"
"Yujin and Yuri," she corrects you with a laugh. "We went to lunch together."
You hum in acknowledgment.
"So, why are you so worn out?"
"Huh?" She tenses up. You knew it. something did happen today. You stare straight at her eyes.
"What happened." It wasn't a question. And she knows that. You could always see through her. She thought it was worth the shot anyway. Minjoo sighs and confesses.
"I saw Jinyoung today."
You tense up at that. Kim Jinyoung is your cousin, and you hate his guts. A womanizer and dickhead. A freeloader who does nothing for this family. A sexist bastard who thinks it's his life goal to stick his dick into every hole he sees. And worst of all, he likes Minjoo.
You would rather die than let Jinyoung put his sticky hands on your wife. You might not be a real couple, but Minjoo is still your wife. Pushing yourself off the counter, you quickly walk over to Minjoo. You take her tea and put it aside.
"Hey, I'm still drinking that!" she whines but quickly shuts up from the look you give her.
You search and study her body. Looking for anything that might be out of place. A bruise or a blemish or anything. If you find even the tiniest one, you will fucking kill Jinyoung. That bitch can say good-bye to all his credit cards and bank accounts at that. Maybe you'll even hire a freaking private eye to get some blackmail on him.
"Please don't kill Jinyoung. I don't want you in jail." Minjoo grabs your hands and holds them tightly. Apparently, you were muttering to yourself, and she heard. You feel a bit embarrassed that your thoughts got out. She smiles at you. "And please don't hire a PI either. Maybe limit his credit cards though. God knows he has too many shoes already."
"Why not?" you scowl. "If he hurts you—"
"Hey, relax." She rubs her thumb against the back of your hand. "He didn't hurt me."
You don't believe her because you don't trust Jinyoung. At all. But she tries to convince you that she is in fact fine. You keep scrutinizing her anyway. It's then that you see the bruise on her wrist. Cleverly covered with the long sleeve of her sweater.
"Chaewon, I'm really—" She stops in the middle of her sentence. She sees your gaze. More importantly, she knows that you know now.
"I-It's not as bad as it looks," she carefully says.
You feel anger quickly rising in your chest. You don't care what Minjoo says. You are going to do all of the above and maybe more—no, definitely more—to the bastard. He fucking touched her. How dare he.
"What did he do?" you calmly ask her. She knows it's just a mask. She knows how angry you are right now.
"Chaewon, it's fine. I didn't—"
"What did he fucking do, Minjoo!" you didn't want to raise your voice. You really didn't want to. Especially not at her. Red fills your eyes and all you want to do is just kill the fucking bastard. You need to know what he did to her.
But then you see the scared look on her face. The unshed tears on the corner of her eyes. You immediately deflate. Colors start to come back from the previously red world. You only feel guilty for making her scared. God, you hate yourself sometimes.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to," you quickly step back from her. You keep stepping back from her. A voice in your mind keeps telling you that she's scared of you. That you need to get away from her. That she doesn't want you near her. You can't ignore it. You listen.
You listen and you run away.
Walking away from the kitchen, you quickly make your way to your bedroom. You lean against the door and let out a sigh. Instead of comforting her, you made her scared instead. Great fucking job Kim Chaewon. Best wife of the year award goes to you.
A few more minutes of wallowing and you look around the room. A few papers scattered around here and there. Everything is either green, black, white, or some variation of it. It's your bedroom alright. Your bedroom. Not ours. She has a separate room. You've never slept in the same room as hers. The only exception would be on your wedding night. And even then, you slept on the couch. Not wanting to make her uncomfortable.
You suppose this is how it'll always be between you two. Always in the same house, but not in the same room. Always together, but never really together. You shouldn't be asking for more. You don't have the right. It's fine. You're content as long as she's happy.
Making your way to the window, you take out your phone. Dialing a familiar number. You look out to the scenery. Seoul is beautiful from up here. You can't see the stars. But the lights from the city makes up for it. The sight calms you down. It makes you feel small. Like you don't mean anything. And in the grand scheme of things, you don't.
There's a morbid sense of comfort in knowing that you don't matter. After all, if nothing you do matters, then you should be doing things that matter to you. Because life is short and you certainly don't want to waste your time in this tiny rock of a planet. Right now, what matters to you is Minjoo, and she got hurt. You're going to do everything in your power that she won't get hurt again.
The ringing stops and a voice reaches to her ear.
"Ma'am? It's unusual for you to be calling me this late," a man answers you.
"Baekho, do you know anything about Jinyoung's schedule today?" you quickly cut to the chase.
"Your cousin?" He sounds confused. You don't blame him. Normally, you wouldn't want to do anything to do with him. "Let me check for a moment, Ma'am."
You wait patiently. Still gazing out into the city. People look like ants from up here. So tiny and insignificant. You find another sense of comfort knowing that you're one of them.
You keep gazing out until your eyes spot a dark alley near your building. And you think of nightmares and monsters. Your mind wanders back to her. You wonder whether she's still in the kitchen. Maybe finishing her tea. Or maybe she's already in her room. Preparing to get a good night’s sleep. You hope she gets good dreams tonight. A reprieve from the horrors of the world. You'll do anything to keep the monsters at bay.
"Hello, Ma'am? Are you still there?" His voice snaps you out of your thoughts.
"I'm here." You should focus on the conversation. "So?"
"He was going around the city earlier today. It seems like he bought several Nike shoes with his credit cards. A few stops at his friends place before going out to lunch. And it looks like your cousin met with your wife today." He pauses for a second. "Is that why you're concerned with this matter?"
"Continue." You ignore his question. He already knows the answer to that anyway.
"Your cousin met her coincidentally at a restaurant for lunch. Your wife had been eating with her friends prior before. I believe their names are Ahn Yujin and Jo Yuri. It was at the end of their lunch when sir Jinyoung approached them."
"Do you have footage from the restaurant?"
"Yes, we've received their CCTV footage. Do you wish to see it, Ma'am?"
"No," you tell him before whispering the next part to yourself. "I don't want to break anything in my room."
"No, it's nothing," you sigh. "What did he do with my wife?"
"Um," you wait for his response. You know he's quickly checking the video for you. "for the first few minutes, they seem to be just talking."
"Did my wife seem uncomfortable?" You already feel the anger rising up again.
"I apologize, but I do not have the qualifications to accurately tell," he says politely. But then he continues with slight hesitation. "However, in my personal opinion, Ma'am, she seems to be very uncomfortable."
"Why do you say so, Baekho?" Your words are laced with venom. He feels a shiver go down his spine. He knows that your anger isn't directed at him, but it doesn't stop him from being scared.
"M-Madam Minjoo has her body turned away from him, and sir Jinyoung is trying to close the distance between the two of them."
"I see." You tighten your fist. The world slowly turning back to red. "And what else?"
"When the Madam is trying to leave with her friends, sir Jinyoung pulls her back by the wrist. Your wife is trying to resist but it does not work. Her friends are helping, but sir Jinyoung's friends are in the way. They have now resorted to screaming."
"Do you know what they're saying?" Your knuckles are white at this point and your hand hurts. But you pay no attention to that. All you see is bloody red. You will kill the bastard.
"Forgive me, but they do not have an audio recording of it."
"It's fine. Do you know where he is right now?" You grit your teeth. You know you won't be satisfied until you break one of his teeth yourself. But then you hear a soft knock on your door, and it opens to Minjoo with a concerned look on her face. All the fire disappears with one look at her. She hovers uncertainly at the door. You motion for her to come inside. You notice that she's wearing her pajamas now. A fluffy white hoodie and black leggings. You wonder sometimes if she's actually just a little kid sometimes. But it's cute on her. So, you don't mind.
"Are you planning on visiting him, Ma'am?" Baekho asks you.
"No, I'm not." You watch her as she moves across the room to stand near you. "Inform both Father and Mother about this matter. Preferably to my Aunt and Uncle too. They should be able to handle this matter."
"Understood, Ma'am. Would that be all for tonight?"
"Yes, that should be all." You walk away from the window to your bed. "Thank you, Baekho."
"It was a pleasure, Ma'am."
With that, you hang up on him and set your phone down on the bedside table. You look back to Minjoo standing in the middle of your room. Fidgeting. Come to think of it, this might be the first time she's come inside your room. You haven't been in hers either.
"What is it?" you keep your distance from her. You don't want to scare her again.
"Is it fine? To leave it to your parents?" she asks you instead.
"It'll be fine." You sit down on your bed. A sigh escapes your lips. While it would've been better if you beat him up yourself. You know your parents wouldn't take so kindly about that. Minjoo also wouldn't like it. You don't want to do anything that upsets her. "If there's anything that my parents love more besides profit, it would be our family image. Imagine what would happen if it gets out to the public that my own cousin assaults my wife."
"Right." She looks to the left and scratches her cheek. You think you see a glimpse of red on them. But you dismiss it. You really need to stop getting your hopes up. You subtly shake your head and ask her.
"Anyway, did you need anything?"
"Oh, uh, nothing," she shyly says. Fidgeting again in her spot. "I just wanted to make sure you're okay."
"Why wouldn't I be okay?"
She doesn't answer that. Or more accurately, she doesn't know how to answer that. Because you looked really sad earlier after you yelled at me? Because she knows that you don't like Jinyoung? Or is it because she saw the fear in your eyes behind the veil of sadness?
You just wait for her to answer. The silence is suffocating for both you and her. But you don't know how to break it. You don't know how to ease her worries if you don't know what it is that worries her in the first place. You get that it's about you. But what about you? Is it because you yelled at her earlier? Oh, God, that's it isn't it?
Is she worried if you're going to do that again? Definitely not. You quickly stand up and walk to her. Still conscious of keeping the distance, however.
"If—if you're worried about me yelling again, I promise I won't do it again." You hate how you stuttered at the beginning. "I know I made you feel scared earlier and I'm sorry for that. I just didn't know what came over me. Actually, I do—but that doesn't excuse what I did. I was just so, so angry at what Jinyoung did and I hate it when you get hurt—cause god knows you hurt yourself a lot already with how clumsy you are—but that's not the point. The point is that I'm—"
"Chaewon! That's not—I'm not worried about that," she tells you softly. She wonders how much you beat yourself over it. Because this is the first time she's heard you talk this much, and honestly, it's a bit worrying.
"—sorry that I yelled at you and—you're not?"
"No—well, yes," Seeing you tense up, she quickly finishes her sentence. "but not what you're thinking."
"What?" You furrow your eyebrow in confusion.
"I mean, I was scared when you did yell at me. But I knew you were just concerned for me." She takes a step closer to you. "I'm more concerned with what happened afterward."
"Afterward?" You take a step back.
"When you ran away. Chaewon, we've been living together for a year now. Did you really think I wouldn't notice?" she takes another step forward.
"What do you mean?" You take another step back.
"I know it’s bothering you and you’re beating yourself over it." She steps forward again, and you step back again. She frowns at you. "Why do you keep moving back? I'm trying to comfort you here."
"I—What?" you ask her bewilderedly.
Minjoo is trying to do what now? Isn't she the one who needs comforting instead of her? She's the one who has bruises for god's sake. Why would she comfort you? She doesn't let you wonder for long, because she quickly strides right up to you. You try to keep your distance, but you only end up bumping against your bed. Which subsequently results in you sitting down on it. She now stands right in front of you with her eyebrows creased. She grabs a hold of your shoulders and nods to herself.
"Now, you can't move away," she huffs.
If you're being honest, you could probably just push her away. The girl isn't very strong. You've seen her try to lift a box full of files only to immediately set it down after ten seconds. She's weak. But you stay put. You like being near her. There's still a voice in your head that keeps telling you to move away. That you're no good for her. That you have to stay away. But you can't really hear it. Not with Minjoo so near to you.
"Why were you doing that anyway?" She’s confused. Earlier, you weren't like that at all.
"I didn't want to scare you," you answer her truthfully. And she gives you a look.
"I was the one approaching you! How could I be scared?"
"I didn't want to do anything that scares you again. There, better?" Crossing your arms, you pointedly look away from her. This is getting into dangerous territory. You feel like your only a few more questions away from confessing everything.
Thankfully, she doesn’t ask you any more questions. Instead, you feel her thumb making circles on your shoulder. Tension leaves your body as moments pass, and your shoulders slump. You've never been intimate with her. Never something like this. Always keeping your distance. It's nice though. Her comforting you like this.
"You don't scare me, Chaewon," she gently tells you. "And do you know why?"
"Because I trust you." You look up to her. Her eyes are filled with affection. And really, you don't know what to do with that information. But you do feel like crying right now, and you don't even know why.
"Why would you do that?" you breathe out.
"Why wouldn't I?" Minjoo smiles softly at you. "You've been nothing but sweet to me ever since our marriage started. You may be a little cold and I did think you hated me at first. But ever since that conversation months ago, I started to notice the little things, you know?"
"What little things?"
"I know you buy bread only from the bakery down the street cause I said I liked it. I know you make tea every morning for me because I hate coffee. You always know when I'm upset, and you always make sure that I'm okay." You look away again. This time for a different reason. You try to cover your face with one hand, but you know your ears gave it away. Even though you can't see it, you just know she's smiling. "And most importantly, I know that you hate watching Pride and Prejudice, but you still watch it with me."
"I—How did you know that?" You look back at her. You were sure you were acting just fine when you were watching it with her. Wait, is that why she never asks you to watch with her again?
"Your cousin told me." You frown at that. "I mean the other one."
"Hyewon." You click your tongue. And she promised she wouldn't tell.
"Anyway, point is that I have no reason what so ever to be scared of you." Minjoo cups your face and the butterflies become more rampant. You want to lean in, but you don’t. "You're only human, Chaewon. You're bound to make some mistakes. It's okay. Today, you just happened to accidentally scare your wife."
A tear escapes your eye, and it sends Minjoo to a panic. You don't mind her though. You're way too deep into your thoughts. It's been so long. so, so long since you've felt like this. It's light and airy and honestly, you feel like you could just fly right now. Your shoulders feel so much lighter. You've never even realized how heavy they were in the first place.
When you were little, the only thing you wanted to be was perfect. If you weren't perfect, then it's a slap to the hands. If you weren't perfect, then you weren't a Kim. Now that you're older, you've learned to not put those expectations on yourself. After all, it's impossible to be perfect. No one could be perfect. You thought you had rid yourself of that. You thought that you had accepted the fact that you're not perfect. You thought.
Apparently, you haven't gotten rid of the ball and chain on your leg. You've just been ignoring it. No one's ever really told you that it was okay. That mistakes are fine. How lucky are you to have Minjoo as a wife? Not to mention that your marriage is a political one. she has every right to hate you. If she was kind, then maybe ignore you. But no, you got an angel as a wife. And you're just so thankful that you have Minjoo.
"Hey, hey, it's okay." You hear her softly say to you. You don't know when it happened. But you're hugging her tightly now. Practically clutching on to her like she's the only thing keeping you alive. That's probably true at this point. You're crying into her hoodie, and she pats your head. A hand rubbing circles on your back. The only other noise in the room beside her comforting words is your occasional gasps for air.
You don't let her go for a while. You never want to let her go. But you do once you've calmed down, albeit reluctantly. Wiping your tears with your hands, you keep your head down.
"I'm sorry," you quietly say.
"For what?" You can practically hear the frown in her voice.
"Ruining your night, I guess." You shrug your shoulders. "And for seeing me like that."
"Chaewon, I just had one of the shitiest days of my life. If anything, you made it better." She cups your face again. This time with both hands. she pulls your face up to look at her. So, you do. And you feel like you want to cry again from the amount of affection in her eyes. You feel like it had doubled from earlier. "Also, you keep saying it, but apparently forgot what it means. I am your wife. And as your wife, it would behoove me to comfort you when your upset."
"So, you're saying that you're only doing this cause it's your duty."
"Yes, that is exact—wait, what? No, of course not!" Minjoo squishes your face with a huff. "I'm doing this because I care."
"Okay, I get it. So, can you stop squishing my face now?" you say muffled by her hands. she giggles softly but releases your face from her hold. You frown a bit. You said stop squishing, and not stop holding your face. You like it there. You like being close to her.
"Do you feel better now?" she asks you after a beat.
You hum as a response. You certainly do feel much better. In fact, you've never felt better. The ball and chain are gone from your feet. You now know that she cares more for you that you previously thought. And judging from her eyes, she likes you a lot more than you thought too. Which by the way, does that mean that you can touch her more now? She's really close right now, and she did let you hug her earlier. That means she's okay with being close, right? She's been touching you. So, you can do the same, right?
"Does this mean I can touch you?" you know you won't get an answer no matter how much you mull over it. So, you resort to directly asking her. What you didn't expect was to see her immediately blush once the question leaves your mouth. And this time, it's definitely not the trick of the light, you're too close for it to be a trick.
You feel a prick of hope in your heart. While you've seen affection in her eyes, that doesn't mean anything. Because you can still have affection for someone platonically. Friendships do exist. This gives you more hope than that. And for the first time, you don't feel like you have to squash it down.
"W-What do you mean by touch me?"
"Well," you don't really know how to explain it. Isn't it already self-explanatory? But she asked, so now you have to give her an answer. "it would probably be easier to show you."
You pay no attention to her panicking and circle your arms around her waist. You pull her in close until she's flush with you. Resting your head on her stomach, you look up at her. Minjoo's warm. You vaguely realize this earlier, but now you're much more aware of it. It's so comfortable to be with her and you think you can just fall asleep like this. Instantly, all the day's weight dawns on you. You feel really sleepy and all you want is to sleep now. Preferably with Minjoo in your arms.
"Oh," she softly lets out above you. She finally understands what you mean. She giggles softly to herself. "Yeah, okay. You can touch me more often now."
"I can?" A small smile makes its way to your lips. You feel her hugging you back.
"Mhmm." She nods.
You're starting to think that you might have a chance with her. Feeling a bit confident, you want to ask her to go to sleep with you. It's late. When you looked at your phone earlier, it was already past eleven. You know it's probably past midnight at this point. But you worry if you're pushing your boundaries too much. You had just gotten much closer today. You didn't want to ruin it. But, whatever, you decided to take the leap anyway. You are way too drowsy to care about consequences right now.
"Stay here for the night," you simply say before breathing out. "with me."
You didn't expect her to agree so quickly. At least another question from her. You thought you needed to convince her to stay. Apparently, she doesn't need any convincing. A wave of warmth blooms in your chest. You like to think that maybe she wants to be near you too.
She takes your face into her hands. Just like the other times before. Unlike the other times before, you lean into it. You're allowed to now.
Later on, as you lie in bed with her in your arms, you'll feel content. The smell of jasmine filling every fiber of your being. You're on the clouds above. Swaying gently in the breeze as you fall asleep. Her hands clutching your clothes and you hold on to her tighter. You don't want her to be carried away by the wind. You want her here with you. You're starting to think that maybe she wants to be here too. And maybe, just maybe, you think you could make her happy.
You're on the clouds above, and you can see the city from up there. You don't look down though. You look up because you can see the stars. You may not matter in the grand scheme of things. You're just one of the ants after all. But the girl in your arms matters to you. And you'll be damned if you don't try to make her the happiest one alive.
The world may mean nothing and we were only the ants. But the world is full of joy and we're the ones that decide what's important to us, Chaewon. And you mean the world to me.
Chapter 2: The stars are up but you're the brightest one
"I don't understand how you do it. It's like a haunted house here. It's so creepy.” She says while looking out your glass walls and into the empty hallways. You can hear the hint of fright in her voice. She's warm and soft and it really feels like you're hugging the sun. She's your sun, and you'll protect the sun from whatever she's afraid of.
Where Chaewon is just constantly tired. Good thing Minjoo is there to save the day again. Kind of.
If chapter one was pure hurt and comfort, then chapter two is pure fluff uwu
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
You like to think things have changed ever since that night. For one, Minjoo has been more smiley towards you. Not that she wasn't before, but it's even more so these days. It's tinted with something too. You don't dare to hope that it's love. But you can't help to when you see the twinkle in her eyes, the slight yet noticeable change in her behavior, the closer distance between you two, the soft touches of her hands.
You've changed how you act towards her too. You touch her more often. A slight touch on the shoulders. A soft grasp on her hand. When you're feeling especially brave, you would hug her. You ask about her days now. Well, you tried to, but she beats you to it by talking about it even before you ask about it. You like hearing her talk. It's a slight change. You think she notices regardless.
There's also the fact that you sleep together now. Ever since that night, you could never sleep as peacefully without Minjoo in your arms. At first, you tried to ignore it. She had been sleeping in her room too. It makes you think that it might've been a one-night thing. But as the days go by, good sleep becomes harder to attain, and the fact that Minjoo is just on the other side of the wall slowly drives you into insanity.
You couldn't take it anymore one night and just decided to ask her. Albeit, the way you asked was a bit... rough to say the least. Thank god, Minjoo is a literal angel.
It was a rough day. As you lay there in bed at—you glance at the clock beside you—two am in the morning, you can't help but to mentally think of the possibilities of burning that damned office down. Would you be able to escape prison? Maybe if you plan hard enough, the police might not even catch you as the culprit. Yeah, you could probably get away with arson. You might have to frame someone though. Jinyoung is high on the list of people you want to go to hell. Might as well make him useful.
You blink. Never mind. Minjoo would get sad if she finds out. You sigh and turn to your side.
The window curtains are open. You can see the city clearly. The window is floor to ceiling. Which also means a lot of light is spilling into your room. It's soft though. Your room glows serenely. It's pretty you think. Both your room and the city. If you listen closely enough, you can hear the faint sound of cars in the distance. It's tranquil.
Most days, this would lull you to sleep. Gazing onto the stars on earth and thinking of her in the meanwhile. But it doesn't work. It hasn't been working well for the last few days. You wait and wait for sleep to come, and it comes slowly like a snail that's a hundred meters away.
You sigh for the nth time that night. Turning around again, you gaze at the wall. The solution to all of these torturous nights. No, not the wall. But the person on the other side of it.
You want to ask her. You really do. But you're afraid to push your boundaries. Stepping out of line. That night was an exception. Emotions were high. Both of you had a long day and probably needed the company. You don't really know about now though. But as you lay here at almost three am in the morning gazing into the wall, you're getting a bit delirious, and really, you're starting to not care about the line.
You can't take it anymore. You quickly get out of bed and out of your room. You're about to just open her door before stopping yourself. You may be desperate, but you're not about to forget your manners. You knock softly on the door. It takes a few more knocks before you hear sheets shuffling and the soft pitter patter of feet.
The door opens and the sight of a sleepy Minjoo greets you. You feel your heart going up to the clouds just from how soft she looks right now. She looks at you confused and there's a cute frown on her face. You keep your face as straight as possible.
"Chaewon? What—" she doesn't finish her sentence. Mostly because you don't let her. You pick her up from the floor and she lets out a scream. It hurts your ear a bit, but you suppose it's fine since it's Minjoo. You just carry her back to your room. "W-What are you doing?"
There's a stutter in her voice. It's cute you think. You just grunt as a response. Thank god you left your door open earlier. If not, getting inside your room would've been more difficult than this. You shut the door close with your foot. She still looks very much confused at what's happening. You don't blame her. If you were woken up only to be carried off somewhere, you would be too.
Setting her down on your bed—on her preferred side of course—you quickly climb to your side. You put blankets on both of you and pull her in closer by the waist. Her back against your front. You snuggle into her hair. Minjoo is warm and everything smells like her now. You feel every muscle in your body relax. It's at this moment that you promise to yourself to never sleep without Minjoo again.
You feel her chuckle and her hands intertwining with yours.
"You could've asked instead of kidnapping me, you know?"
You just grunt again in response. She chuckles again. You feel her snuggling closer and you pull her even closer.
"Good night, Chaewon."
Nowadays, you've even started to finish work as early as possible. It's so that you can go home earlier. Minjoo works as a model. Most of the time, she's outside doing photo shoots. But she always goes home before you. She once said that it was boring without you there. So, it's only natural for you to fulfill her wish. She didn't say anything out loud, but you could guess.
You would do anything to make her happy.
And so, today too, you try to finish up your work as soon as possible. But it's not going as well as you had hoped.
The sound of you writing on the keyboard resounds throughout the empty and silent room. The only other sound being the ticking of the clock. It's around ten or maybe eleven. You don't really know. You haven't glanced at the clock since you got the phone call from your secretary. A misunderstanding had occurred between the two companies while the merger was happening. And no one thought to tell you this until now.
One of the representatives had apparently withheld some curial information. Deeming it unnecessary and not important enough. Clearly, he was wrong. The worst part of it is that the representative who fucked up was from your company. Was. You quickly demoted him from the position. You don't need an incompetent subordinate. Now, you've been stuck in this office for hours on end trying to fix his mistake. Contracts and agreements to rewrite. Making more proposals. Fixing reports. You've even skipped dinner for this. Sighing, you lean back on to your chair and look up to the ceiling. You still need to write at least a few more emails before you can go home.
Normally, your secretary, Hitomi, would send these emails for you. The Japanese woman would often do her work quickly and with almost no mistake. Almost because we are still human. A perfect secretary so to say. But the woman had an emergency today. Somewhat. Her parents had come to visit her, and you're not cruel enough to hold her back from her family.
Speaking of family, you think of Minjoo. You sent her a text that you would be coming home late today around—you glance at the clock—five hours ago. You sigh through your nose and sit up straight again. Your hands massage your temple. Peaking at your laptop, you see the empty email waiting to be written. You rake your hair back and sigh. Maybe a small break is needed.
Picking up your phone, you look through your notifications. Nothing much. A few texts from your cousin—your better cousin. Some spam texts. An alarm from that game you've been playing. And some from your social media that you never open.
You can't help but be disappointed a little bit. You were kind of hoping Minjoo would text you back. Not that she has to text you back. Whether she texts you back or not is none of your business. She has her own life and you're not going to control every single part of it. You don't have the right to anyway. You may have gained some rights, but she's still her own person. She's a grown-up woman who can decide whether she wants to text her wife or not, and continue to ignore—Ding!
‘Are you still in the office? :( It's almost twelve‘
You had almost dropped your phone from surprise. It doesn't last long though as you're soon scrambling to reply to her.
‘I am. I still have emails and files to send.'
‘Did you at least eat dinner there?‘
‘I'll pick something up on the way home. It's fine.'
‘It is NOT‘
‘I'm coming over there >:( with FOOD and you WILL eat while you work!‘
You frown at that. It's late. She should be sleeping and resting. Not going to your office and bringing food. You tell her so. That she should just rest at home. That you'll be done in an hour or so anyway. But none of your messages is read and you suppose that's that. You know how stubborn she can get with these types of things. She once practically chained you to bed when you were sick and still tried to go to the office. You know when to back off. You send her one last text before going back to writing up all the emails.
It's half an hour later when she comes knocking on your office door. You were in the middle of writing the third email when you heard the sound of footsteps coming closer in the empty office building. You look up to see her with a bag of take-out on one hand and a smile on her lips, and suddenly, this dim office becomes a bit brighter. You smile back at her. Quickly coming over to your side, she puts the brown bag on your desk. You pull away from your laptop and you notice that she had brought food from your—their favorite Chinese place.
"I don't understand how you do it. It's like a haunted house here. It's so creepy.” She says while looking out your glass walls and into the empty hallways. You can hear the hint of fright in her voice. You chuckle and move your chair further from your desk. You pull her in closer. She gets what you mean and sits on your lap. Snuggling into your neck. You hug her tight to make her feel safer. Inhaling her scent, you feel your muscles relaxing. It feels like you're back home and not in your office building. She's warm and soft and it really feels like you're hugging the sun. You'll protect the sun from whatever she's afraid of.
You're not feeling especially brave right now, but you are feeling very tired right now. All you want to do is just have her in your arms. Preferably in bed and away from the world. She doesn't seem to mind anyway from the way she's circled her arms around your neck. Pulling you closer even though there's already no more distance between them.
"Were you scared?" You ask her with a teasing smile. She can't really see it though. Not when her head is literally squished onto your shoulder and neck.
"No, I wasn't. Just a bit creeped out," she mumbles out. Her voice muffled. With her big sweater and current behavior, you really think she might be the biggest baby. It's cute and you want to keep giving your attention to her.
If nothing matters and you should be doing whatever you think is important, you would've ditched this hours ago and gone home to her. But unfortunately, this is also important and the emails are also important. Not as important as her, but you know this will only end up biting you in the ass if you don't finish this now. You sigh. Such is the life of an heiress. You are so getting a vacation after the merger is done.
"Hmmm, you should go home now. Sleep. Rest. I'll eat the take-out and go home in half an hour if I write the emails fast enough."
"No, I wanna stay here," she whines. Before adding in a softer tone. "With you."
"But aren't you tired?"
"I'm fine." You feel her pout rather than see it. Her lips grazing the skin of your neck. You feel your ears getting hot. Thank god they're covered by your hair right now. She tightens her hold on your neck. You sigh and give up quickly. And if you're being honest, you don't want her to leave too.
Taking out the food from the brown bag, you simultaneously try to eat and write emails while having her sitting on your lap. A bit difficult but you manage to do it. You had brought this on yourself anyway. Not the email. Definitely not the emails. But her sitting on your lap. There are exactly two couches in this office. Both big enough to have a grown man lying down on it and still have some extra space left. Like you said earlier though, you have the sun in your arms and you're not about to let her go so soon.
Minjoo's perfectly comfortable anyway. She's playing with her phone. A game with chickens and farms of some sorts. She does, however, get sleepy from waiting for you. Yawning every five minutes or so. You remember the photo shoot she had earlier today. Starting from seven am and ending at eight pm. A full thirteen-hour shoot and she still chose to come here and give you food instead of resting at home. It's not her longest shoot by far, but enough to give you concern. You want to urge her to go home again. You don't because you know she'll say she's fine. Instead, you try to hurry it up. Plus, there are only two emails left.
When you do finally finish up the emails, she's already asleep. Breathing softly against your neck. You smile at the sight. She looks so peaceful right now. You can't help but to want to protect her with all you have. You move her bangs to the side and kiss her forehead. You can't count the amount of times you've done this. Yet being only brave enough to do so when she's asleep.
It wasn't your plan really. Any of this. Getting attached to her. Caring for her. Protecting her. Falling in love with her. Get married, keep your distance, and respect each other's boundaries. You wouldn't get attached. You wouldn't be her friend nor lover. That was the plan. After all, it was a political marriage. You thought you shouldn't get close to your so-called wife. It'll only make things way too complicated. But you still did anyway.
somewhere along the lines, her constant need to be a good wife brings you feelings of endearment instead of bringing questions to your head about why she would do that. Although, you still don't understand why she would do that. You're grateful she did though. You don't think you would feel this way if she didn't. Your marriage would've been full of emptiness, isolation, and lies. Acting in front of the press. Only for cold stares, the moment the eyes of the public are away. You think it'll be like a lonely star, trillions of light years away from any of its siblings. Drifting aimlessly in the coldness of space. You would still have your friends—the few that you have. But you know it won't be the same.
Nothing would be the same if you couldn't feel the warmth she gives.
You try to think back to when you first fell in love. You think it was last year. At a family gathering between the two Kim families. Both of your parents thought it would be a great opportunity to build up the relationship for both families. Everyone had to attend. So, naturally, you and Minjoo were there for the shit show that is a family gathering. Safe to say, you're not the biggest fan of those. But she makes it better you suppose.
It was a sunny day. Blue skies all around and few clouds here and there. You feel the cool breeze on your skin. Your hair flying and scattering. The scent of trees and dirt. The earth filled your senses. You could see only green for miles and miles. The trees in the distance and the grass under your feet. You hear the sound of her voice a distant away from you.
The gathering was done at a farm in the middle of nowhere. Something about connecting with nature and good Feng Shui or whatever your mom said. You're just glad to be away from the city for once. Away from tall office buildings and concrete walls. You were starting to feel a bit caved in. This is a good escape from all of that. Even if it's with your dysfunctional family. You don't necessarily hate them though. Well, at least not all of them.
The sound of children's laughter tears your eyes away from the scenery in front of you. Looking back at the barn, you see a bunch of kids running around and chasing each other. You had pulled yourself away from the party a while back. Opting to go to the edge of the house to be alone. Resting on a bench underneath a tree and looking out into the view. Crowds were never your thing. Always preferring to be alone. Besides you think you saw Jinyoung grabbing a chicken before you left and you do not want to stay for what happens next.
You were about to look back out to the view when your eyes catch something. Or more precisely, the person chasing after the kids. There in all her glory, your wife of a few months runs around the yard. A carefree smile on her face. You think of the sun. In the few months you've been married to her, you've never quite seen her smile like that. Always a shy or wry smile. Maybe it's because they're directed at you. Maybe it's because she's still uncomfortable. Regardless, this is new, and for some reason, you really want to save it in your mind. It's beautiful and you want to keep seeing it.
You take a deep breath. You keep watching them play.
She manages to catch one child. You recognize her as one of your nieces. Yeojin. An annoying little demon in your opinion. But a loveable kid nonetheless. You love that kid to bits. Always so eager to ask you about the stars and their stories. Most of the time though, she'll be talking her mouth off about her adventures with her closest friend Yerim. You remember everything she told you.
Minjoo picks her up and twirls her around. Yeojin laughs loudly and your wife pretends to be a monster. Roaring and making menacing faces all the while. You don't find any of it scary. Neither does Yeojin apparently when she giggles and pulls on her cheek. She whines and put the little menace down. That's when all the children start to gang up on her. Trying to slay the 'monster'. Their tiny hands slapping and punching your wife. You doubt they hurt in any capacity. They're all around four to seven in age. What can they do? But Minjoo falls down dramatically anyway. Not caring one bit for her white sundress.
"What are you smiling for?"
You turn your head towards the voice. Reluctantly ripping your eyes away from the scene in front of you. Hyewon looks at you with amusement in her face. You roll your eyes and humph. You don't bother answering her. The grin on her face says everything anyway. You just go back to watching your wife and the kids. You hear her chuckling lightly. She sits next to you and bumps on your shoulder. You side glance at her, but otherwise, say nothing.
"Already so whipped, huh?"
You glare at her.
"Oh, come on. Don't give me that look," she smirks at you. "I see the way that you look at her."
You scoff at that.
"What are we? Five?" You look at her unimpressed. Her smile widens.
"No, but I don't see you denying it either."
You look back at her and the children. They've stopped attacking her now and you notice how 'children' became 'child' instead. Yeojin is sitting next to her underneath a tree. You guess the others had gone to play somewhere else or gone back to their parents. You see Yeojin blabbering away to her. A shine in her eyes. Minjoo listening with all of her attention. A soft smile on her face as she listens on. Thoughts of having your own child pass through your mind. A kid with her. You think of a sunny day just like this. A picnic between just you, her, and your kid. You shake the thoughts as quickly as they come. But you can't shake off the warm feeling in your chest.
“Shut up," you tell her. Hyewon laughs softly before telling you of a reminder. You don't remember. You were only half listening. Too busy still watching them. You wave her off and she walks away with a chuckle.
As you look at her and Yeojin laughing, you can't help but think that maybe having a family wouldn't be so bad. Not as bad as you think at least. Definitely not if she's the mother. It's then when you come to a realization. It comes to you like a soft and warm wave to your chest. Like a warm cup of coffee on a cold day. Like the soft blankets of your bed in your childhood home. Like a sunny day in spring. There was no thunder. No lighting. Just a simple realization.
Oh, you love her.
(It was never your plan to fall in love with her. But you would do it over and over again.)
While staring at her sleeping face is relaxing and all, you both still need to get home. You look at the clock and it's already around one o'clock. You try to wake her up.
"Minjoo," you call out to her softly. She stirs lightly and you call out to her again. "We can go home now."
"Finally," she yawns out and stretches. You chuckle at the sight.
"Come." You pat her lightly on her hip and she gets off from your lap.
You quickly clean up the papers on your desk and turn off your laptop. While she cleans up the take-out you had finished up. A bit haphazardly in your opinion. But you suppose it's fine. You don't need your office to be pristinely clean. Moreover, you can just clean your desk again in the morning. Wait, tomorrow is a Saturday. Then you'll clean it on Monday if the janitors or your secretary hadn't gotten to it first.
Picking up your bag and blazer, you walk over to your door. She waits for you out in the hallways as you turn off the lights. She clings on to your arm. You think it's part from fear and part from the fact that she still can't walk properly from how sleepy she is. You press the button to call the elevator up and wait.
"Did you drive here?"
"Nope," she says simply and offers no other explanation besides that. She probably just took a taxi or maybe one of the drivers drove her here. A good idea. You don't want your wife in an accident because she fell asleep while driving.
The elevator dings, signaling its arrival. The doors open and you both step in. When the door closes again, she rests her head on your shoulders and yawns yet again. You lean your head against hers too. You debate giving her another kiss on the head. At this point, you know she won't mind, but you haven't really gone into that territory yet. So, you're still a bit skeptical. Although, you suppose now is a good time as ever to start doing it while she's awake. It seems like you become more daring the more tired you are.
You kiss her head and wait for a response. You think your palms are a bit clammy now. She moves her head and you pull back your head too. She kisses your jaw, and yeah, that wasn't as bad as you think it was going to be. Rationally, you know her response wouldn't be bad at all. But you have the tendency to overthink. You untangle your arm from hers and opt to hold her waist instead. She leans on your shoulder again.
"Thanks," you softly tell her. The elevator dings again and both of you step out into the basement.
"For what?” She asks back. Her voice filled sleep.
"Everything I suppose. Bringing me food. Being here with me." You take out your car keys and open the passenger door for her.
"A pleasure.” She kisses your cheek before going in. You feel your ears becoming hot again, and she's really taking this new development quickly, isn't she?
You go around to the driver's seat and start the car. You drive both of you back home. The car ride is quiet. None of you bother turning on the radio. You have half a mind to think she's sleeping again. But when you glance to her on a red light, she's still awake. Looking out to the passing scenery. Sometimes, you figure, silence like this is nice too.
Once you've arrived back into your apartment, she excitedly celebrates. Well, as excited as one can get when they're on the brink of sleep.
"We're finally home!” She exclaims groggily.
And something in that sentence puts a stop in your steps. You freeze in the middle of the living room and watch her stupidly.
Home. You don't know when you started using that word. You don't know when this apartment became something more than just a house for both of you. But it has. You realize that she never sleeps in her own room anymore. You realize that you always have your meals together now. You realize that you're not separated in separate rooms anymore. You're in the same room now. You have been for a while, and you think you've known this too. If not, then why would you use the word home? Why would you call it our home? But you haven't been conscious about it. Not until now at least.
"Chaewon?" You blink and snap out of your reverie. She looks at you a bit concerned. "You okay there?"
"Yeah, I'm—" You feel so much more than okay. You wonder a bit why you've only noticed this now. Your chest is so warm and full it feels like the sun is in it. And honestly, you feel like crying a bit. "I'm fine."
"Really?” She walks over to you.
"Yeah," you tell her again. You give her a smile to try and reassure her. You take her hand and bring her upstairs. "Come on, let's go to sleep."
That night, when you embrace her in your arms, you hug her especially tight. She gives you a goodnight kiss and you kiss her back. The only thoughts running through your mind is that you're home. You're home. You're home. You think of the proverb 'home is where the heart is' and you think that they might be on to something. Because Minjoo is certainly where you feel the warmest and loved.
She's you're home. She's your sun.
The next morning, you wake up to the smell of pancakes, maple syrup, and coffee. You search your covers to find her gone. Of course, she's in the kitchen you think. Dragging your body from your bed and into your bathroom, you quickly brush your teeth. Distinctively remembering how she doesn't like morning breath. You go down the stairs, and you see her sitting on of the barstools at the island counter. Sipping a cup of tea and looking at her phone. You come up to her from behind and hug her.
"Good morning, sleepyhead.” She grins as she looks back at you. The sunlight hits her face so beautifully you can feel your breath being taken away. Maybe it's because you're still a bit delirious, but you think she really is the sun personified. Or at least, the goddess of the sun.
And maybe it's because you're still delirious, you kiss her. Not on the cheek. Not on the jaw. Not anywhere on her face but her lips. And yeah, it's just like you expected. Everything is warm and soft, and it's like kissing the sun. The best part, you think, is the fact that the sun is kissing you back. You pull her in by the waist and she pulls you in by the neck. You're about almost sure you're in the heavens amongst the stars right now.
"Good morning," you softly say against her lips.
You've always loved the stars since you were a little. Always searching up on constellations and their stories. The same ones that you have memorized and told Yeojin many times. As a kid, you've wanted your own star. One to call it yours. You have one now, and it's your favorite star. The sun and she's called Kim Minjoo.
You might get burned, but you're never going to let her go. For you have loved the sun too greatly to be burned.
I may be your sun, Chaewon. But you're my moon and I don't think I can ever let you go either. The world can't exist without us together.
I love you too.
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