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their own private world

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For years, the only intimacy that Ryan Gold has known is a familiarity with absence. Kissing Deok-mi is the opposite of that. Ryan remembers suddenly, the way Deok-mi’s face had lit up, brighter than any sun, when she’d sang Shi An’s song into his ear, how it’d made him want to press his face against hers, get as close as he can to touching that kind of joy. She makes the empty space inside him ache a little less.  

“I want to date you for real,” he murmurs, as he leans forward, placing a gentle kiss on her lips. He pulls her then into a lingering kiss, all hunger and longing, unfurling for her. Like a starved plant seeking sunlight.

He wants to kiss every part of her that he can reach, savor as much of her as he can. It’s like they’re creating their own private world inside the public one of this workshop, exploring each other’s spaces and how they fit into them; the giddy joyful colliding of it all.

He buries laughter into the crook of her elbow, her neck, her shoulder like he trusts her to keep those pieces of himself safe there. His own private joy, that only she gets to see. All his life, he’s known displacement and unhoming but here in the geography of her mouth, he thinks he might know what belonging tastes like.

He can’t help himself from leaning in for another kiss as they exit the workshop, right before they cross the threshold out into the light. “Sung Deok-mi- sshi” he murmurs, as he cradles her face with his hands, his fingers coming up to caress the curve of her cheek.

“Yes, Gwa-jang-nim?” she asks, her eyes dancing playfully.

“I’m hungry too.” He says this with a smirk. He doesn't know how she manages to do this, pull all these smiles out of him. It must be her kind of magic. 

She bursts out into a laugh at this. He wants to remember this moment for always.