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Jaeyong Spin-Off AU✨

Despite of how Jung Jaehyun has prepared himself in meeting his husband, Lee Taeyong, again all these years since latter's disappearance, he was rendered speechless, frozen in his spot as he saw the empty eyes that were once full of life gazing back at him.
NOTE: Spin-off of this Nomin AU

I know that I told you guys I'm going to write Jaeyong NSFW first, but I feel terribly sad at the moment. I think my mood suits this so...

-Don't reply
NOTE: Another thing, the "...since latter's disappearance..." of this AU's blurb was supposed to be "...EVER since THE latter's disappearance..." but because of character limit, your boy had to delete some words.
NOTE: I'm actually thinking of writing this AU and the NSFW AU simultaneously, but I'm afraid that the updates would be slow. Lemme think about it for a couple of days.
The Second Man | Chapter 4!

ao3: archiveofourown.org/works/19241785…
aff: asianfanfics.com/story/view/140…

Btw, I'll start this AU once I've posted the Nomin AU on ao3 & aff
Na Jaemin Was His Name | The Edited Version✨

ao3: archiveofourown.org/works/19818478
aff: asianfanfics.com/story/view/141…

if you enjoyed my first nomin au, please give it some love. thank you so much
Some things in life, only now did Jung Jaehyun realize, are learned the hard way. So, when that struck him like a truck out of nowhere, he had a hard time coping up.
Growing up, Jaehyun had always been pampered by his parents and his siblings, especially because he’s the youngest in the family. He’d always gotten whatever he wanted as a kid and even in his teenage years.
For his parents, siblings, friends, and everyone around him, he deserved it for being an achiever and always bringing honor to his family.
And among the many things he desired, Lee Taeyong was one of them.
He met Lee Taeyong back in university during his freshman year through an organization he joined which Taeyong was already a part of.
It was an organization which aimed to help the marginalized communities, mainly those in depressed and poverty-stricken areas within and outside the capital.
Initially, Jaehyun didn’t want to be there. He was basically dragged by his eldest brother, Jung Yunho, who was the vice president of the said organization and one of the departing members at the time.
Due to his poor social skills, Jaehyun had always had a hard time interacting with new people, that was why he kept to himself most of the time. And as the eldest brother who cared about him, Yunho wanted to drag him into the organization so he could meet new people.
“Come on, Yoonoh,” Jaehyun recalled Yunho saying in a convincing manner. “How about this, you volunteer for our upcoming event, and if you happen to not like it, I won’t bother you anymore. I just want you to find friends.”
“I don’t need friends, I have Eunwoo and Yunhyeong. Besides, I think I’m fine on my own,” he argued that time.
In the end, however, Jaehyun ended up tagging along to Junggye-dong, Nowon-gu, in a town known as ‘a hundred and four moon village,’ which is one of the shanties and least-progressing towns in Seoul.
He could still remember how annoyed he was for being woken up at an ungodly hour just to get ready and meet the other members. Upon arriving at the university, he was introduced by Yunho to the other members, and the girls were more than happy to have and assist him.
They were about to leave the school when a guy, with his heavenly smile and captivating beauty, came running to them, catching his breath as he rapidly bowed his head apologetically.

“Lee Taeyong,” his brother had called in a reprimanding tone, “you’re late.”
Jaehyun was left speechless, gawking at the beauty that stood before him. The guy, whose hair was bleached white during that time, was talking and smiling to the other members, apologizing for his late arrival.
Lee Taeyong /is/ beauty personified.
If Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman of Greece and the cause of the Trojan War, and Aphrodite, the Goddess of beauty, were real and lived in the same lifetime as him, Lee Taeyong would put both of them to shame. To top it all, he isn’t even a woman to begin with.
During the community work, Jaehyun kept a safe distance from Lee Taeyong, often stealing glances just to be able to see that mesmerizing smile.
The latter looked so happy as he tended to the kids and people of old age, while Jaehyun basically spent his time distracted because of such beauty that was so tempting not to stare at.
It was around six in the evening when they finished. Everyone was exhausted, even Jaehyun who forced himself to focus on tending to their participants instead of gawking at Lee Taeyong, whereas the latter still looked out of this world albeit tired.
Sweats were trickling down Taeyong’s face, causing it to shine, but he still managed to look so ethereal.

On the way back to the university, Jaehyun kept thinking about Taeyong.
It almost irritated him because that was the first time he felt that ever since Seulgi left him, and he felt like he was betraying the girl. As soon as they arrived at the university, the officers of the organization ordered food for everyone.
Jaehyun sat somewhere, observing Taeyong and his brother conversing with each other.

He was completely taken by surprise when Yunho and Taeyong walked up to him.
“This is Jung Yoonoh, my brother,” was what he recalled his brother said. Immediately, Taeyong flashed his vibrant smile at Jaehyun, rendering him with weak knees and speech problem. “Yoonoh, this is Lee Taeyong. He’s one of the candidates for the presidency of this org.”
In a swift move, Taeyong bowed his head in the slightest. Jaehyun, however, just stared rudely, completely lost in trance. It took a single snap of Yunho’s fingers on his face and a small laugh from Taeyong before he snapped out of his reverie.
With reddened cheeks, he hastily put his head down and greeted Taeyong with muffled voice.
“I-It’s nice to meet you,” Jaehyun had said, not wanting to show his face to the other. But, of course, he had an inkling feeling that if he remained like that for a while, Taeyong would’ve found him weird. So, he raised his head and made eye contact. “How should I address you?”
“It’s nice to meet you too, Yoonoh,” was the first thing Taeyong said to him directly, which made his heart pound as if it was about to jump out of his chest. “Taeyong-hyung is fine, I guess.”
That night, Jung Jaehyun went home floating on cloud nine. It was a foreign feeling, and it made confused. That wasn’t a normal reaction to meeting someone, and it wasn’t the same feeling he’d felt before, not even with Kang Seulgi.
Days passed, and Jaehyun couldn’t take the image of Lee Taeyong smiling at him off his mind. In class, he would think about how Taeyong’s smile is so bright it’d probably able light up the entirety of Seoul at night.
When eating, he would often think about what could possibly Taeyong’s favorite food. At night, he would think about different scenarios involving him and Taeyong. It was like he was craving for him for some reason he couldn’t pinpoint.
And every time their first meeting crossed his mind, he couldn’t help but cringe to himself. It was so out of character for him to be flustered like that, since he grew up being the one making people shy and embarrassed.
Their second meeting took place in a college festival two weeks after the first one. Jaehyun didn’t want to go, honestly. He was dragged, yet again, but this time by his roommate, Song Yunhyeong, and their friend, Cha Eunwoo.
He could clearly remember the cute booths designed animatedly, the colorful banners everywhere, the students who were happy to be there, away from the stress of university life even just for a short while.
It was about ten in the morning, and the walkways were surprisingly full of cheerful students.
The sky was pastel blue, shining over the loud, bubblegum music blasting everywhere, while the ground mirrored the exact same color of the heavens, making the scene a contrast of blue and happiness.
Jaehyun was walking mindlessly, while his friends were ogling at some girl who was stationed in one of the booths.

“Damn, she’s so pretty,” Yunhyeong had muttered to Eunwoo. “Hey, Jae, do you think she’s pretty?”
Without even glancing at the girl’s way, Jaehyun hummed in agreement, looking around in boredom. Much to his annoyance, Yunhyeong grabbed both of his shoulders and turned him to the girl’s direction.
What he wasn’t expecting, however, was to see that familiar otherworldly beauty standing on the other end of the booth where the girl two of his friends were referring to.
From what Jaehyun could see, Lee Taeyong was clad in a white, pristine, short-sleeved button down shirt, a pair of khaki jeans, a pair of sneakers, a customized hat over his silver hair, a pair of light blue hand gloves, and a blue apron that matched his gloves.
Because of the ground reflecting sky, Taeyong looked even more ethereal than he already did, if that was even possible. Taeyong was looking elsewhere with a small, wistful smile playing on his pink, sultry lips, and Jaehyun couldn’t help but follow his line of sight.
There Yunho was, having, what seemed to be, a rather flirty conversation with a senior girl. Taeyong’s eyes were shining, and Jaehyun could see the hurt in those eyes.
Without thinking, he trudged his way to the booth, leaving his friends confused standing in the walkway. “Taeyong-hyung.”
As soon as Taeyong heard his name being called, he immediately whipped his head to the direction of the voice. Yunho’s younger brother was there, staring intently at him for some reason. Confused, Taeyong said, “Hey, you’re Yunho’s brother, right?”
/You’re Yunho’s brother, right?/ That irked Jaehyun. He’d always been the center of attention everywhere, not that he actually liked it, but he used to take advantage of that when it was from someone he thought of worth getting attention from.
“Jung Yoonoh,” he flat-out declared. There was no longer hint of sheepishness in his part, unlike the first time they met. “My name’s Jung Yoonoh.”

“Oh, sorry. I’m bad at remembering names,” Taeyong had said bashfully, scratching his arm. “Are you here to ask for a seedling?”

“We’re giving out pots with seedlings, do you want one?” Truth to what Taeyong said, Jaehyun saw more than thirty seedlings inside the booth. “What kind of plants do you like?”
“N-No,” Jaehyun dismissed at that time. His friends, Eunwoo and Yunhyeong, went up to them, still ogling at the girl. “I don’t really like plants.”
“Oh.” Disappointment could be heard in Taeyong’s tone, and Jaehyun’s heart almost dropped because of that. In a fit of panic, he began to think of something to bring joy on Taeyong’s face.

“But!” Jaehyun had exclaimed. “I don’t think it would be such a bad idea...”

Hesitantly, Jaehyun nodded his slowly, unsure if he was really doing the right thing. Taeyong then went inside the booth.
After several seconds, the latter came back carrying a cute, medium-sized pot with a small plant in the middle of the soil and gave it to him before tending to the other pots outside the booth.
The pot was lavender with engraved eyes and smile, and a pair of legs on the bottom front and a pair of arms. “Here, take care of this.”

“Ask for the girl’s name and number in exchange for me,” Yunhyeong whispered discreetly behind him.

“What?” Jaehyun whispered back. “No.”
“Come on, just do it for me,” Yunhyeong told him in persuasion. “I’ll treat you lunch for the rest of the week.”

“My family’s rich.”

“Just do it, man!”

“Taeyong-hyung?” Taeyong, who was rearranging the pots outside, looked in his and his friends’ way, dusting his hand off.

“What’s her name?” Jaehyun pointed at the girl who was smiling and talking happily to the other students.
She was also dressed in a white, short-sleeved, button down shirt, a pair of jeans, a pair of running shoes, and the same apron and the same pair of gloves Taeyong was wearing.
Taeyong then followed his line of sight and smiled knowingly at him. “She’s Wendy Shon. Isn’t she beautiful?”

“She is.”

“Is she your type?”

Jaehyun chuckled at the memory, because he knew Taeyong didn’t believe him then. The latter was convinced that he had a thing for Wendy which was a complete and utter lie.
But he figured, at the time, that it was for the better in able to hide the weird feelings he was having in the pit of his stomach that were slowly conquering his heart.
That day, Jaehyun went to his dorm with a potted plant in his arms. He didn’t exactly know what to do, so he placed it in the balcony. Taeyong must’ve forgotten to tell him what kind of plant it was, so he decided to search online how to take care of potted plants instead.
In between classes, his mind fly to the potted plant and how it reminded him of the guy who gave it to him. Often times, a smile would involuntarily play on his lips just by the mere thought of that scenario, although Taeyong probably gave a lot of students potted plants.
Because the plant came from Lee Taeyong, Jaehyun took extra care of it. He would go back to the dorms even if he still had classes just to be able to water it and follow the instructions on how to raise it. It took his time so much that he almost forgot about Seulgi.
And truthfully, he was surprised that he was actually making progress, although he was still hoping that Seulgi would contact him.
For the next three weeks, Jaehyun roamed around the university during his free time, searching for the silver-haired beaut, although he could’ve just asked his brother where Taeyong usually spent his time. He didn’t, though.
He knew that once he asked Yunho, the latter would be suspicious.

Not knowing what Taeyong’s major was, Jaehyun had to think hard from scratch. All he knew was Taeyong was a junior, considering he was a candidate for the presidency of his brother’s organization.
He wanted to ask the people in the organization, but he realized he didn’t have friends, or even acquaintances, to begin with. People would find it weird.
It was a fine Thursday morning when Jaehyun finally saw Taeyong had the third encounter he’d been waiting for with the latter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t such a pretty sight. His alarm didn’t go off that day.
So, Jaehyun found himself riding his bicycle under the friendly rays of the sun, rushing to his first class by pedaling twice as fast than he normally would. All of a sudden, he saw Taeyong from his line of vision with earphones on, completely unaware of the surroundings.
He would’ve probably run over Taeyong if he hadn’t jerked the handles sideways the last minute, causing him to fly from his bike and land on the cold, hard pavement.
Jaehyun wasn’t going to lie, it was a pretty hard fall. His line of vision went on like a roller coaster as he stumbled and rolled to the ground. He squeezed his eyes shut from the sudden pain as he tossed on his side, trying to move his possibly injured hand.
“Jung Yoonoh?” It was Lee Taeyong’s voice, he was sure of that, but he couldn’t even find the joy at their proximity due to the unbearable pain he was feeling on his right arm and shoulder. “Oh my God! I’m so sorry!”
A crowd had gathered around them in curiosity, but nobody dared to help. After a couple of seconds, Jaehyun heard another voice. This time, though, it was unfamiliar. “What happened?”
“I-I wasn’t looking properly, and he almost crashed toward me,” Taeyong had explained, panic still evident in his voice, “but he yanked his bicycle to the side.”
“Hey, man, can you stand up?” The voice asked. He knew he could albeit painfully slow. The person, which he assumed was a guy, took his uninjured arm and put it on his shoulder, assisting him to sit somewhere.
When his vision cleared, the first thing he saw was Lee Taeyong’s worried look. The senior was looking at him guiltily. Hastily, Taeyong pulled a pink pouch from his bag which he later learned was a first aid pouch.
And even though Taeyong was still panic-stricken, he managed to clean the wounds and put gauze bandages on the affected areas.

“Taeyong, I have to leave now, take care of him, okay?”
As soon as the guy left, Taeyong turned his attention to Jaehyun, still concerned. He crouched down and looked at Jaehyun’s face for any scratch.
Jaehyun, however, seemed to forget the pain when he saw Taeyong’s features up close. There was a big scar at the corner of the latter’s right eye, but it didn’t make Taeyong any less...pretty. If anything, it was a flaw that highlighted Taeyong’s strong facial points.
Noticing that his stare at Taeyong’s scar, the latter immediately retreated his head and cowered, scratching it for no actual reason in able to hide it. “C-Can you walk?”
Wordlessly, Jaehyun nodded his head before being assisted by Taeyong by the shoulder to head to the infirmary. Even though he was in pain, he still had the time to be flustered. It was their first physical contact after all.
He was wearing a plain, white, long-sleeved shirt and Taeyong was wearing two layers of shirt, but he could still feel the latter’s warmth underneath the fabric of their clothes. Without much thinking, he turned his head to Taeyong just to see the latter already looking at him.
His breath hitched, noticing how close they were. Their faces were literally one breath away, and Jaehyun could move an inch and their lips would be touching.
He stared at Taeyong for a brief moment before the latter whipped his head ahead, blushing real hard, saying, “L-Let’s get you to the infirmary.”
The moment they entered the infirmary, the female nurse immediately assisted him and to lie on the bed. Taeyong, who was still agitated and anxious about the whole thing, told her what happened, and the nurse asked her a series of questions.
In the end, he had to wear a cast until his arm healed.

“You should rest for a few days,” was what he remembered the nurse said as she exited the room to get something, leaving the two of them.
He lay on the bed in silence, examining the spotless, white room, whereas Taeyong sat on a chair near his bed with his back straightened, fidgeting with his long, slim fingers. It was just them on their own.
Taeyong had his head down, and Jaehyun couldn’t help but stifle a laugh at the pout and its cuteness. That earned Taeyong’s attention.
“How can you still laugh when you’ve just gotten into an accident...?”

“Nothing,” he remembered replying to the question. But really, he was just happy that although he got into an accident, he got to see Taeyong and spend time with him. His craving for the guy was finally over.
“I’m really, really sorry, Yoonoh...” Taeyong pursed his lips. Jaehyun could see that the former was close to tears because of guilt.

“Hey, hyung,” he’d called, “it’s alright. I shouldn’t have gone that fast, anyway.”
“Still,” Taeyong had argued, “I should’ve been aware of my surrounding… Now, because of my carelessness, you won’t be able to attend your classes for days...”

“It’s ok—”

“It’s really not.”
That shut Jaehyun up. He wasn’t good at this, to be honest, so he didn’t know what to tell Taeyong to ease the latter’s feelings. The entire time, Taeyong had a look of concern and worry, a complete contrast to what Jaehyun saw the first time they met together.
It didn’t suit the silver-haired guy, but he didn’t think Taeyong looked any less beautiful. It's just smile suits Taeyong’s heavenly features better.

An idea crept into his mind.
“How about this, hyung,” Jaehyun remembered bargaining, “give me your number so you can check on me at the dorm…?”

He instantly felt scared the moment those words left his lips. Taeyong looked at him, blinking. He must’ve come too strong.
Jaehyun was about to take it back and laugh it off when he heard Taeyong say, “...okay...”


“...I’ll give it to you...”

Little did Jaehyun know that, right there, right then, was the start of the next chapter of his life.
Thoughts? Questions?
NOTE: Sorry for the wrong spelling, grammatical errors, and information inconsistencies in advance. I post the updates as they are when I write them. I do the editing at the end of the fic, and then I post it on ao3 & aff.
Who would’ve thought that the accident would be the way for Jung Jaehyun to get close to Lee Taeyong?
That day, Jaehyun wasn’t able to attend his classes, as well as the ones the following day. He rested inside the infirmary for a few hours, feeling like his arm was going to fall off.
The entire time, Taeyong stood by his side until the latter got a call from a friend, asking where the silver-haired guy was.

It turned out that Taeyong had an exam to take that day, so Jaehyun tried to convince the older to go to his class instead.
However, Taeyong was insistent on staying and taking care of him. As much as he would have liked that though, he didn’t want Taeyong to miss an exam and potentially fail a class because of him.
After a few minutes of convincing, the older finally gave in but not before telling Jaehyun to text him, to which Jaehyun happily agreed.
He was then fetched by his roommate, Song Yunhyeong, from the infirmary but not before telling the latter what happened as per Yunhyeong’s demand.
Two days had already passed, however, Jaehyun still hadn’t sent even a single text to Taeyong, mainly because he couldn’t form the right words to say. Should he greet him first?
If so, what should his next statement be? He wanted to text him that the pain was finally subsiding, but every time he would remember Taeyong’s look of distraught because of the accident, Jaehyun would chicken out last minute in fear of making Taeyong feel guilty.
He lay on his bed with his phone on his hands two days after the incident, staring at the empty message box, having an inner debate if he should finally give Taeyong a message.
“How long are you going to stare at your phone?” It was Yunhyeong. The latter was standing outside Jaehyun’s room, both of his hands resting on his waist, looking at him expectantly. Jaehyun didn’t reply.
-“Eunwoo won’t come over to cook for us, he said he has to do a survey for a minor class. Should I just order then?”
“Yeah, sure,” came Jaehyun’s dull reply. Normally, Jaehyun was the cook in their room, but since he could hardly hold things without dropping them after a split second, Eunwoo would come over to cook for them.

“What do you want?”
“I’m fine with—” But before Jaehyun could even finish his sentence, the intercom rang, signaling that there was a person outside their room. Confused, his eyebrows furrowed. “I thought Eunwoo isn’t coming over?”
Yunghyeong shrugged hi shoulders. “That’s what he told me. Maybe he and his group mates rescheduled?”

“Just go get it.”
As soon as Yunhyeong left, Jaehyun raked his hand through his hair in frustration before tossing his phone in the end. Shortly after, Yunhyeong came back. This time, though, a familiar silver-haired was with him, smiling shyly at him.

“Taeyong-hyung?” Jaehyun sat up immediately, wide-eyed. “W-What are you doing here?”

Taeyong pursed his lips, his hold on his tote bag tightening. The latter smiled guiltily. “You never texted me...so, I got really worried...”
“Oh,” Jaehyun said in realization. At the time, he couldn’t believe he made Taeyong even more worried by not sending the latter a message. “Sorry about that, I kinda forgot...”

“Wait,” Yunhyeong intervened, “haven’t you been preoccupied by your phone these past few days?”
“Shut up!”

“You mean you never sent him a message?”

Taeyong looked at the blushing Jaehyun obliviously, blinking in confusion.

“Just go order food for the three of us,” Jaehyun said dismissively, to which he earned a small laugh from Yunhyeong.
“Y-You don’t have to,” Taeyong said softly. “I can just cook for you instead.”

And that’s what Taeyong did.

That was the first time Jaehyun was able to taste Taeyong’s specialty, bulgogi.
He could still remember how Taeyong watched him as he took his first spoonful of that dish and how Taeyong smiled shyly when he said that it was probably the best version of bulgogi he’d ever tasted in his entire life.
And Yunhyeong agreed, because it was indeed delectable. No doubt.

When Taeyong noticed that he was struggling due to his right injured right arm, the older offered to help and fed him, to which he became flustered about.
Yunhyeong was trying to hold his laughter from coming out, because Jaehyun couldn’t be any more obvious every time Taeyong was close. In the end, due to Taeyong’s much insistence, Jaehyun let himself be fed that day.
The following days, Jaehyun noticed, Taeyong frequented in his and Yunhyeong’s dorm room. Not that he was complaining. He really liked it when Taeyong was around.
For the rest of the week Taeyong was over, he did all the work in the dorm room. He vacuumed and wiped the floor, cooked for them and fed Jaehyun, did Jaehyun’s laundry, copied notes from Jaehyun’s classmates so the latter wouldn’t be left far behind, and water Jaehyun’s plant.
All of those things, Taeyong did without unfaltering, even if it was becoming an inconvenience to the latter.

“You kept the plant,” Taeyong once told him when the latter was changing his comforter, glancing at him with a smile. “Asters are beautiful once they bloom.”
Regardless of what Taeyong said, Jaehyun knew nothing, not even the plant Taeyong gave him, could be compared to the beauty Taeyong held.
Along with getting better, Jaehyun was also itching to know more about the silver-haired guy with the angelic smile. He realized that he hadn’t had any sort of progress due to always being rendered nervous and speechless by Taeyong’s presence alone.
So, when Yunhyeong was not around, Jaehyun mustered every ounce of courage in his entire body and grabbed the opportunity.
“So...” Jaehyun started awkwardly, dragging the syllable while tapping his fingers on the table as Taeyong served their food, “you’ve been here for several days, and yet I still know nothing about you, hyung.”
Taeyong took the sit across him, looking at Jaehyun momentarily before clearing his throat. “There’s nothing really important to know about me.”

“I’m sure there is, like, I don’t know, what your major is and such.”
“Why do I feel like you’re interrogating me?” Taeyong let out a small laugh, and Jaehyun felt like it was directed to his heart due to the fact that he felt a slight dab at it. “But I’m a biology major, minoring in social work, currently in third year.”
“That’s new. I’ve never known anyone who majors or minors in social work.”

“That’s because you barely know anyone.”

“How did you know?”

“Your hyung told me. He’s also the one who told me where you’re staying. I was kinda surprised he didn’t know you got into an accident.”
Jaehyun stared at Taeyong who began eating, oblivious to the longing stare. The latter insisted on feeding him, but he’d already have enough heart attack, so he chose to feed himself rather have Taeyong do it to him.
At that statement, Jaehyun’s face hardened, not knowing exactly why.

“You’re really close to Yunho-hyung, huh?” Jaehyun asked carefully, his gaze seemingly like that of a snake watching his prey, perusing the guy across from him.
Caught off guard by the question, Taeyong immediately halted his movement, blushing like a schoolgirl at the mere mention of his crush’s name.
“Not really...” Taeyong trailed off, biting his bottom lip nervously as he shifted his eyes from his food, to Jaehyun, and then back to his food again. “B-But I wish we could be…”
Jaehyun pretended he didn’t hear the last statement. Although it was a little bit hard to swallow, he took that as a sign that Taeyong might actually have feelings for Yunho, but he chose to ignore it and let it sit at the back of his mind.
He knew it was good for him to ignore it but also be aware of it. Since then, Jaehyun kept a close eye on Taeyong, often perusing and observing him when the latter was around.
He would pick up, even the littlest details, like how Taeyong would rub the scar near his eye when someone gets too close or when he gets nervous, how Taeyong would bite his fingernails when nobody’s looking, or how Taeyong would bite his inner cheek when focused on something.
Jaehyun also learned that Taeyong grew up on a farm, and the latter was originally from an island in the Southern part of South Korea.
Lee Taeyong grew up in a loving family. He is the eldest child of the two siblings, and had always been involved in social work ever since the start of his university life.
His parents worked on a farm, planting and harvesting in order to survive, while taking care of other animals. As a child and the elder among the two siblings, he took the responsibility of doing house chores and taking care of his younger brother while studying.
After becoming one of the stop students back in his hometown, he was offered a scholarship in Seoul, and he started his journey from there in hopes of a greener pasture, not that he had a hell of a life on the farm.
But like any other ambitious person who originally came from a rural place, Taeyong dreamed big and wondered how it would be like to live in the city. That, however, was only a part of why he decided to pursue a degree in Seoul.
One of the main reasons was that he wanted to become a doctor and serve his community, considering how his mother died due to the lack of medical facilities in rural communities.
He didn’t want any child to experience what he had to go through, that was why he found himself taking a pre-medical course in able to achieve his dream and minoring in social work.
He was the breadwinner of his family, and his father and his brother who he left back at the farm heavily relied on him.
Because his father wasn’t earning much, Taeyong had to work while studying in able to send money to his family and be able to provide for his family’s daily needs and his brother’s study.
At the same time, he still involved himself in social work when he had the time, and it all began thanks to Yunho when he was recruited to the organization.
Jaehyun found out all of those information from Wendy, the girl Yunhyeong was drooling over that college festival day, when she was invited by his roommate over. Turned out that she was in one of Eunwoo’s classes and she was his one of his group mates.
“You do know a lot about Taeyong-hyung, huh?” Jaehyun commented, glancing suspiciously at the oblivious girl sitting on the sofa a couple of inches away from Yunhyeong who was on the phone with Eunwoo. “Have you guys been friends since your freshman year?”
To his surprise, however, Wendy said, “Kinda and no.”


“Yeah, but I’m friends with his friend whom he grew up with, Sungjae. He mentioned those things to me before. Taeyong-hyung and I became close back at the start of second semester of sophomore year.”

“Yook Sungjae.”

At the time, Jaehyun felt threatened for reasons he couldn’t explain. He was already annoyed at the fact that Taeyong might have been harboring feelings for his older brother.
Now, it just heightened at the mention of this Sungjae being allegedly close to Taeyong. Of course, he didn’t want to be left behind.
Jung Jaehyun sent his first message to Taeyong exactly seven days after the silver-haired guy gave it to him. He was clad in a bright, yellow Gudetama shirt, a pair of white jeans and sneakers, sitting in one of his classes when he decided to text Taeyong.
/Hey, Taeyong-hyung. It’s Yoonoh. Are you free today?/ With his heart pounding like it had never done before, Jaehyun pressed the send button longer than necessary.
He even tried to cancel the message while it was being delivered, but it was too late already. The message had been sent.
A couple of minutes later, he felt his phone vibrate through the fabric of his pants. His heart almost dropped as soon as he saw that it was a reply from Taeyong. /Hello, Yoonoh. Why, do you need anything? I’m at work right now, but I can pick anything you want on the way there./
/Actually, I’m in class right now. I’m just wondering if you’re free today, because I have no one to grab food with. Yunhyeong went out with a friend and Eunwoo will be in the library. But it’s alright if you’re busy. I’ll just eat on my own. Please, don’t overwork yourself./
That was a good excuse...right? It wasn’t like it was a lie. He just missed Taeyong’s presence, although they were practically together just the other day.
/Wait, you’re in class? Is your arm completely healed? And I’m about to get off work in 45 minutes. What about you? How long ‘til your class ends? I will accompany you./
If Jaehyun was tapping in boredom on his laptop minutes ago, he was now ecstatic. The smile on his face was a strong indication how excited he was when Taeyong agreed to go on a date with him. Well, not exactly, but he preferred to think of it that way.
/30 minutes, hyung. It’s settled, then. Where do you work? I’ll pick you up. And my arm’s kinda okay now, although it’s still not completely healed. I can manage./
/Yoonoh, there’s no need for you to do that. Let’s just meet in uni. And you should've waited ‘til your arm is healed completely. What if you hurt yourself again?/
/But I don’t want you to still go back here./ Jaehyun put a sad emoticon before continuing. /Let me just wait for you at your workplace, and then we can go eat somewhere. I’m sure it wouldn’t be that long. And enough about my arm, you’re gonna see it for yourself, hyung./
/Alright then, stop texting me and focus on what your lecturer is saying!!!/

With a small laugh, Jaehyun typed in, /Yes, boss./
It was Jaehyun’s first unofficial date with Taeyong. He could clearly recall how he spent the remaining minutes in that class with a huge smile plastered on his face, contentedly typing down on his laptop until it was time for him to leave.
The professor hadn’t even completed his departure statement, and Jaehyun had already stormed off, running through the corridors and stairs of the building with loaded students.
Seoul was bustling with cars and Seoulites that day, but the weather looked like the peaceful shade of blue, completely contradicting the busy streets of the capital and the busy lives of its people.
He hit the streets of Seoul, his heart having its joyous moment when he finally received Taeyong’s location.

At some point on his journey to Taeyong’s workplace, there was a voice inside his head, asking him if what he was doing was the right thing and stopped him in his tracks.
He almost chickened out but decided to push the thought at the back of his mind.

During those days, Jaehyun didn’t realize how he’d had forgotten the loss and emptiness he’d been feeling ever since his ex, Seulgi, left him shortly after high school.
The vacancy in his life, as well as in his heart, was slowly being occupied by Taeyong without him even knowing. It was as if his slates were finally clean.
Jaehyun found himself standing in front of a toy shop for kids several minutes later. The exterior was screaming in colors and full of animated characters that Jaehyun was pretty sure would attract a lot of kids. From the outside, the shop didn’t look too big.
As soon as Jaehyun entered, however, he could see countless shelves full of race cars, dolls, and action figures in one area and all sorts of toys one could ever imagine under the glimmering lights of the shop.
It was a lot youthful inside with its pastel colors and creative decoration.
On the ceiling was a roller coaster track with a moving car fueled by electricity. It was one of the main attractions inside the shop, followed by a spinning closet containing kid-sized costumes at one end.
Randoms dolls, such as Doraemon, Hello Kitty, Melody, Pokemon, and YuGiOh monsters, were hanging on the ceiling everywhere. At the very center, a color wheel laid, each wedge with a different color corresponding to an anime character, where kids could insert token and get prizes.
The place wasn’t packed much. Only a handful of kids were there, either with their friends or parents. There were a couple of employees dressed like popular characters, some of them tending to the buyers while others were adjusting the unorganized displays.
But none of those eye-catching toys, attraction, or people captured Jaehyun’s attention. What caught his eye was the silver-haired guy dressed in a Super Mario hat, red shirt, and a blue apron at the counter, smiling down at a young boy, his eyes disappearing in the process.
Jaehyun felt his heart pound inside his chest so loud he had to clutch it, as if restraining a criminal, as if his heart was under arrest.
He couldn’t remember how long he froze in his tracks, admiring the beauty across the room. It wasn’t until the said young boy was tugging on his mother to the exit, bumping into him when he realized how long he’d been staring.
“Yoonoh?” It was barely audible due to the distance between them, but he still caught it. Taeyong immediately removed his hat, tapping his co-worker and telling them something before jogging to Jaehyun with an alluring smile, looking at his then injured arm.
“Hey, how’s your arm, and how long have you been here?”

“I-I just got here, hyung,” he stuttered, noticing how adorable Taeyong looked with his hair messed up after wearing a hat for too long. It was too distracting. “My arm is better now… Shall we go…?”
Taeyong checked his wristwatch. “I still have 4 minutes left. Could you wait over there for a bit?”

There was a couple of alphabet blocks near the door which Taeyong was pointing at. Nodding with a smile, Jaehyun replied, “Yeah, sure. Take your time, hyung.”
A couple of kids, who looked from the age of nine to eleven, proceeded to the counter, the last customers Taeyong served that day before he changed into a more comfortable outfit.
The latter came out of the employees’ room wearing a white shirt with black and white striped sleeves, a pair of black jeans, and a pair of white, low top sneakers.
“So...where are we going?” Jaehyun didn’t notice Taeyong was already standing in front of him as he played with his phone until the latter spoke.
Taeyong looked breathless, most probably because he rushed to change. Regardless, he still managed to look like he just walked in a runway. He was wearing a black beanie, covering up his bad hair because of the hat he had to wear at work.
“You’ll see.”

Under the friendly sky of Seoul, Jaehyun walked by Taeyong side in silence. For him, it was an awkward one, although the other seemed to think otherwise. He wanted to start a conversation, but he didn’t know exactly what to talk about.
Taeyong looked lost in his own head, swaying his hands in the rhythm of his steps hitting the pavement, and Jaehyun couldn’t help but to fight off the blush at the thought of their first /date,/ as what liked to think of it as.
They were close, probably a couple of inches away from each other.

A breeze passed by their faces, kissing both of them in the process, making them shiver. Jaehyun inhaled deeply, pocketing both of his hands before clearing his throat and scooting closer.
When his arm touched Taeyong’s clothed one, his face flushed red as a sheepish smile played on his lips. A couple of minutes into walking, they got into a jam packed bus. They squeeze their way through hordes of high school students, elders, and working class.
Like a cliché scene in dramas, they both ended up sandwiched, facing each other. Jaehyun was already feeling his heart thumped in his chest as they were too close, and the occasional chest-to-chest bumping when the driver would hit the brakes didn’t help either.
After that painstakingly long journey, they got off with reddened cheeks and walked a couple more minutes prior to arriving at a small, newly opened, garden-themed restaurant several blocks away from the university.
Upon entering, Jaehyun looked at Taeyong’s face and immediately saw the glint in the latter’s eyes.

Despite the restaurant having dried flowers, leaves, and ferns dangling around the ceiling and covering the shelves, it was nothing cheap.
From the perfectly furnished stalls to the variety of Asian food in their menu, everything, for Taeyong, screamed luxury. In that moment, his empty wallet was already crying for him to back out. There was no way he could afford dining there, even if he worked for a month nonstop.
However, before Taeyong could even talk, he was basically dragged into a stall at the far end corner by Jaehyun who was fairly satisfied with his decision to bring Taeyong there. A waiter brought them menu books and left.
“So...” Jaehyun said that time, picking up one of the menu books and scanning the list of food available. “What are you getting, hyung?”

“Uh… Yoonoh.” Taeyong started rubbing the scar near his eye, finding the words to say. “I-I haven’t received my paycheck yet...”
“And…?” Jaehyun asked, dragging the syllable. “It’s not like you’re paying or anything anyway.”

“It’s on me. Don’t worry about it.” He then flipped through the pages of the menu, while Taeyong stared at him in disbelief.
-“Hyung, don’t look at me like that. Just look at it as our celebration because my arm finally got better, or, I don’t know, my way of thanking you for taking care of me from the past week.”
“But Yoonoh,” Taeyong whined, his lips involuntarily pouting on its own, which made Jaehyun just want to scoop the former and hug him, “I was the reason you were in that sta—”
“Stop that,” Jaehyun declared in a dominant tone, shutting Taeyong up in his seat. When he noticed the sudden shift of expression on Taeyong’s face from guilt to fright, his voice softened.“You weren’t entirely at fault, hyung. You’ve done your part, let me do mine this time.”
“I-I just don’t think it’s necessary for you to spend money on me...”

“It isn’t,” Jaehyun agreed, motioning for the waiter to come to their table mid-sentence, “but I want to.”
It was their first date, as per Jaehyun’s much insistence later on in their dating life, that was followed by many. It became their little sanctuary.
In the early days of their blooming friendship, Jaehyun would always find an excuse to be with Taeyong, his reasons involving taking care of his plant, being in need of a hand for a project, or just being straight-up bored.
Eventually, Jaehyun joined the organization in which both his brother, Yunho, and Taeyong were a part of.

The reason? In order to have another excuse to be with Lee Taeyong.
He knew it was a rubbish move, considering what the whole purpose of the organization was, but he figured he could make some friends while he was there with Taeyong’s help.
Over the course of a semester, Jaehyun had gotten close to Taeyong, to the point of becoming inseparable, although he still his heart would still play him once their personal space gets invaded.
They would study together his dorm room even though they have different classes, hang out with their respective circle of friends, and participate in charity or social work.
One of the downsides of this, Jaehyun concluded, was witnessing how Taeyong would look at Yunho, as if his elder brother was a lone star in the night sky, like something to be admired.
But he knew he couldn’t be upset over something like that, given that it might taint their friendship.

It was after one of the meetings held by the organization when Jaehyun finally reached his limits.
Taeyong was sheepishly having a conversation with Yunho, acting like a shy schoolgirl that was being noticed by his crush. With his very own eyes, Jaehyun saw the way Taeyong would look down in embarrassment and how Yunho would let out a small laugh. It riled him up.
But what finally pushed Jaehyun to snatch Taeyong’s wrist forcibly, dragging him in one of the open spaces of the university was when Yunho ruffled Taeyong’s silver hair. It seemed too...intimate for his liking.
“Yoonoh!” Taeyong practically shouted. “Let go! What are you doing?!”

Jaehyun let go of Taeyong’s wrist, breathing heavily with clenched jaw and pursed lips.
“Seriously, what’s wrong with you?” Taeyong stretched his wrist, glaring at Jaehyun who was refusing to look at him. “You’re such a kid, Yoonoh.”
“I’m not a kid.”

“Then stop acting like one!”

“Stop it.”

“Stop what?” Taeyong asked provocatively. “Telling you how you’re like a kid?”

“I said stop it.”

“Well,” Taeyong said in a challenging tone, “maybe if you stop acting like one.”
That did it for Jaehyun. Without thinking, he reached for Taeyong’s arm, pulling the latter closer to him. In a split second, before Jaehyun closed his eyes, he saw the look of surprise in Taeyong’s eyes.
In the blink of an eye, their lips found themselves entangled with each other. Jaehyun had his eyes closed, his arm snaked around Taeyong’s waist securely, while Taeyong stood frozen, wide-eyed.
Taeyong couldn’t move. Aside from being restricted by Jaehyun, he was confused and lost. Why was Yoonoh doing all these?
As soon as he regained his consciousness, he attempted to pull himself away, pushing Jaehyun by the chest. Jaehyun, however, only tightened his hold, basically cornering him.
There weren’t many students around, and most of them were minding their own business, but there were still onlookers. A Seoul breeze wavered passed them, sending the branches and leaves of the trees around them in a dance routine under the cloudless sky.
Due to Taeyong’s resistance, Jaehyun was driven to deepen the kiss, and he did. He began moving his lips, tasting the Taeyon’s luscious ones he’d been wanting to capture in between his. Jaehyun felt the walls closing in on his heart. He couldn’t believe he was kissing Taeyong.
Taeyong, on the other hand, wanted to push aside the strange feeling that suddenly stirred in his stomach. And he did, eventually. He knew, or at least though at that time, that it was wrong for him to be kissing Yoonoh.
So, with all his might, he pushed Jaehyun by the chest. And as if on instinct, his hand collided with Jaehyun’s cheek quite harshly as soon as they broke apart, creating a smacking sound that seemed to echo through the walls of their minds.
They stood wordlessly in their tracks. The only thing that could be heard was Taeyong’s ragged breathing and Jaehyun’s calm one.
When Jaehyun dared to look at the guy across him, Taeyong had already had tears that were threatening to fall. He wanted to punch himself because of that.
With the desire to make Taeyong feel better, he attempted to reach for the silver-haired guy, but Taeyong flinched, taking a couple of steps backward before his tears cascaded down his cheeks.

Slowly, Taeyong took another couple of steps back before turning on his heel and making a full sprint, leaving Jaehyun’s heart in the open space of the university like a mosaic of broken hearts.
Thoughts so far? Questions? Drop them on my CC!

Normally, Jaehyun didn’t mind when people avoided him, even now. In fact, he liked being left alone to himself, except on a few occasions or by people that he valued. When Taeyong started avoiding him due to the incident that happened between them, he let it slide initially.
He realized that maybe the older needed time to cool his mind off, that maybe it caught Taeyong off guard and was feeling awkward about the whole situation.
It lasted for about a week and a half, and it took Jaehyun everything not to pull Taeyong to have him in his arms and embrace him like his life depended on it.
In between that time span, there were days when he’d see Taeyong talking to his friends with the brightest smile on his face. He’d see him in meetings, acting as if what happened between them wasn’t affecting him in the slightest. And to be honest, it pissed Jaehyun off.
He knew he shouldn’t be feeling that way, but he couldn’t help himself.

Taeyong avoided him like a plague. When he would enter the same room where Taeyong was, the latter would make an excuse to walk away.
Nobody in the organization noticed anything despite how they’d become close in such amount of time. Every time their gazes would meet, Taeyong would be quick to have it focused somewhere else.
To say that Jaehyun wasn’t affected was a complete and utter lie. Every second, minute, and hour of his day was spent contemplating what he should’ve done or what he should be doing, even in class.
He was always staring at his phone, having second thoughts if he should give Taeyong a message or a call.
Even Yunhyeong and Eunwoo were getting frustrated with him, because he would often decline the two’s offer to go out or basically do anything that would involve him getting out of his bed.
“Seriously, what happened?” Yunghyeong asked one time when the latter had enough, confronting him in his room as he lay lazily on his bed, wallowing on his own misery. Eunwoo stood beside his roommate.
“Nothing,” he dismissed, turning his back on his friends who rolled their eyes in annoyance.
“Well, obviously, something is up,” Yunhyeong fired back, crossing his arms on his chest in frustration. “You’ve been stuck here all day for more than a week now and you always turn us down.”
“I always turn you down,” Jaehyun stated as a matter of fact, still not facing his friends. “What’s so different now?”

“Well, for starters, you barely eat and you’re always distracted in class. Don’t even try to deny it.”

“You’re overthinking.”
“Does this have something to do with Lee Taeyong…?”

That did it for Jaehyun. Without even a jiffy passing by, he hastily sat up, whipping his head at his friends. Eunwoo stifled a laugh.
“What?” Jaehyun asked in pretense of it indeed had something to do with a certain silver-haired senior of his. “No!”
“You should’ve taken Theater Arts as your major instead of Business,” Yunhyeong muttered, calling him out on his bullshit. “Who knows, you could’ve been a greater actor than you are now.”

“Just spill it, Jung,” Eunwoo said.

“We kissed.”

“More like, I kissed him,” Jaehyun whined in exasperation, taking one of his pillows and delving his face onto it. He then screamed into it, crying like a small kid whose candy was stolen away from him but without the tears.
“He’s avoiding me, and I don’t know what to do! Every time I man up to talk to him, he disappears instantly. It feels like he knows my every move! What should I do?”
“I want all of the students who have a crush on you to be here just so they’d know that the guy they’re so hopelessly in love with is like a little kid,” Yunhyeong uttered.

“But this is a good thing, though,” Eunwoo interjected.
“What’s so good about me being like this?” Jaehyun threw a pillow at his friends. “Do you enjoy my misery, huh?!”
“Kinda,” Eunwoo answered, chuckling to himself as Jaehyun threatened to throw another pillow at him and Yunhyeong. “Just kidding, Jung. I think it’s kinda a good thing. At least, you’re no longer hung up on that Seulgi.”
That stopped Jaehyun from his tantrum. He realized that there was truth to what Eunwoo said, and only did he discover it in that moment. Lately, he hadn’t been thinking of Kang Seulgi.
He was so focused on getting noticed by Taeyong and spending time with him that he forgot about the girl. Had Eunwoo not mentioned her, she’d probably would’ve been wiped out of his mind.
Jung Jaehyun met Kang Seulgi back in high school. She was his first everything; first kiss, first girlfriend, first date, first sex—a first of many firsts. For some reason, people have always had some sort of resentment toward her, but Jaehyun didn’t understand that.
She was good to him, at least what was what he thought.

There were always rumors circulating around in school about her, whether it was about her being the biggest bully, cheating on exams, and sleeping around. Personally, Jaehyun have seen the first and second out of the three.
It was on a regular school day after class when Jaehyun planned on surprising Seulgi with a date. He’d told her to meet him in the student center of the school building after he finished his cleaning duties. When he arrived there, however, Seulgi wasn’t there.
A student who saw her earlier told him that she was with her friends, going to the direction of the stairs, but when she saw her there with her friends and another student on the ground, bleeding, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
Her eyes were seething with hatred, her breath ragged for some reason. A scream in agony resounded through the staircase as Seulgi’s shoes collided again with the bleeding student. Two of Seulgi’s friends just stood there, smirking with their arms across their chests.
Now, Jaehyun would consider himself reserved, withdrawn—a wallflower. He’d rather not meddle on someone else’s business as much as possible, but when he sees someone being aggrieved, he steps in without a word. And that was what he did.
“Seulgi!” he called in alarm, rushing to the bleeding girl who had tear-stained cheeks. “What are you doing?”

Once she saw Jaehyun, her eyes immediately went from those of a lioness to an innocent kitten. “Y-Yoonoh, why are you here?”
“Answer me first,” Jaehyun had argued back. “What are you doing to her?”

“I-I was just teaching her a lesson b-because she...” Seulgi fidgeted her fingers, clearly in distraught. “S-She was the one spreading r-rumors about me.”

“T-That’s not tr—”
“Shut up!” She was about to kick the student again but held herself back when Jaehyun shook his head at her. “Let’s just go...”
That was one of the major red flags that Jaehyun overlooked. He let it slide shortly after she gave him a kiss on the cheek as he gave her the answered worksheet she was supposed to be one doing. Who was he to be blamed? He was in love.
He was a simple boy who was in love and blinded by it.

The second major red flag was during one of the major exams in their last year of high school.
One of her friends managed to sneak in to where the test papers were and took a sheet, and Seulgi asked Jaehyun to answer a hundred item paper in math a day before the major exam.
Initially, he didn’t know that it was a test paper and thought that it was probably a worksheet from her cram school that she hated going to, so he answered it. He wasn’t sure about two of his answers, but he pretty much knew everything.
He’d been studying for the upcoming exams, and he noticed that most of the items were related to what he’d been reviewing.

Exam day came, and Jaehyun was prepared. He had a pretty decent sleep.
He woke up feeling refreshed, and he could clearly recall everything he’d been studying. When the exam started, English test papers being the first ones to be given out, Jaehyun pretty much killed it, considering he lived in Connecticut for four years.
Time rolled around, and they were almost done with all the subjects except math.

Immediately after Jaehyun saw the math test paper, he was in so much shock, so much that he had to turn his head and look at Seulgi who seemed to be so busy answering the test paper.
She was subtly shifting her gaze from the bottle of coke to her test papers before jotting things down.

Now, proctors in their school don’t let the students have food while having an exam, but they let students drink any kind of beverage in able to ease nerves.
And it was normal for students to have plastic bottled water or sodas, but what wasn’t normal was the students who had coke on their desks were suspicious. Their eyes were shifting to their beverage and fro the test papers.
There was a large sound that resounded when the female proctor suddenly hit the teacher’s table with the long, wooden stick. Everyone jumped in their seat. The proctor narrowed her eyes, examining all the students before her eyes landed on Seulgi.
With seemingly dark aura surrounding her, she walked briskly to Seulgi’s desk and snatched the bottle of coke from her desk.

She called Seulgi and the rest of the students who had a coke on their desks, telling them to stand and speak up.
At first, everyone was confused about the commotion. Wasn’t it not prohibited for them to bring drinks?
The next thing that shocked everyone in the room was when the proctor showed them that instead of the ingredients and nutritional facts written around the plastic bottles, there were numbers accompanied with answers in small font size. The ones caught hung their heads in shame.
“Have you no shame?!” the proctor had practically screamed in anger. “Speak up! Whose idea was this?!”

But the ones involved did not utter a single syllable, resulting for the proctor to get angrier. “Okay, so none of you will take?!”

There was still dead silence.
“Then, the five of you will have to face expulsion!” Everyone collectively gasped, whispering among themselves.

“No!” It was Seulgi. “I-It’s Lee Saerom’s fault. I-It was her idea. We just went along with it...”
“What?” Lee Saerom asked incredulously, totally in shock. “S-Seulgi, w-what are you saying?”

“Saerom, d-don’t deny it, please! We’re going to be in a lot of trouble if we still keep this up,” Seulgi /begged,/ her eyes beginning to moist.
Jaehyun almost believed it if it weren’t for the fact that Seulgi was the one who asked her to answer all the questions.
He knew that it shouldn’t be the only basis, though, but he also knew that she was basically the leader of their clique and that nobody would do anything if either it wasn’t her idea or without her signal.
One of the things he also knew from always being with Seulgi was her pinky finger would twitch involuntarily. And the pinky that Jaehyun could see was doing just that.
“It wasn’t me, Miss Kwon!”

This time, Lee Saerom was already shedding tears. She clearly was getting frustrated for being in that position. Jaehyun pitied her, because he had already predicted what was about to go down. He couldn’t believe that this was really happening.
Lee Saerom had always been passionate about editing. Everyone in their school knew that. So, being someone good in that field, Jaehyun knew that it would point her. Who in the people involved was mostly to have edited the layout of the plastic around the bottle?
It pointed to Lee Saerom. What happened next shattered the girls world.

“I-If you don’t believe me, look inside her bag. There are still a lot of printed layout you can find in there. S-She showed it off to us earlier...”
Truth to it, there really were printed layouts in her bag when the proctor told a male student to search inside her bag. It caused a big commotion that the higher ups had to stop the exam for the entire school and had the students retake all the tests.
Of course, everyone wasn’t too happy, but they felt sympathy for Lee Saerom and the other girls although they cheated. Not so much with Kang Seulgi, though. Students knew that Seulgi was most probably the mastermind but blamed it on someone else to save herself.
In the end, Kang Seulgi and the three other girls were suspended, something that was rarely given to students unless the violation was serious. Lee Saerom, on the other hand, was expelled from school. There were lots of investigation but all the evidence pointed at Lee Saerom.
Even the other girls told the faculty that she was the mastermind of it all. Jaehyun, like the rest of the students, watched from the sidelines as Lee Saerom’s mother knelt in front of the principal and the school board and begged them to just suspend her daughter instead.
Jaehyun wasn’t able to sleep that night due to his conscience bugging him about how he should’ve spoken up.
He even confronted Seulgi about it the next day, but all he ever received from her were nonstop tears and, “If I hadn’t saved myself, I would be the one expelled! Do you want that?!”

Of course, like the naive high school boy that he was, he didn’t want it.
He was under the impression that he was hopelessly in love with her. And maybe at some point, he was, but when he began to see her true colors, the love he had for her slowly disintegrated without him knowing. He was still in denial up to that point.
He personally hadn’t seen it, but the biggest red flag was when one of his friends, Johnny Seo, talked to him in private, telling Jaehyun how she was trying to have a go with him despite both Seulgi and him being in respective relationships at the time.
Initially, Jaehyun didn’t believe him. They even almost had a fist fight. It resulted in Jaehyun cutting Johnny off from his life...and then Kang Seulgi was, yet again, involved in another scandal that shook their entire school.
It happened all of a sudden like a bombshell on a Thursday morning.
Jaehyun couldn’t believe what he was hearing from the other students that he lashed out on them and threatened to beat them up if they didn’t stop going around, telling people that Kang Seulgi had slept with a P.E. teacher.
Seulgi was called to the principal’s office, as well as her parents. When she came back to class, her face was passive and lacked remorse, like she couldn’t give a shit what others were saying to her.
Jaehyun tried to talk to her, but she basically just ignored him for the rest of the day. He bombarded her with messages, to which she didn’t bother replying. The following day, she completely vanished along with the P.E. teacher.
Rumor had it that Kang Seulgi and the P.E. teacher had eloped. Jaehyun first heard it from a couple of students in the school restrooms while he was taking a leak in one of the stalls.
“One of her friends said she runaway with Mr. T. Park,” one of the voices said in a hushed tone. “I really can’t believe it. I know Kang Seulgi has always been different...but never to this extent. I pity Jung Jaehyun, he looks completely smitten with him. Isn’t he your friend?”
“I’ve tried to warn him.” The familiar voice belonged to Johnny. Jaehyun was sure of it. “I told him that Seulgi was trying to sleep with me, but he threatened to punch my face. I really don’t care now. I tried to open his eyes, but he chose that bitch instead. Serves him right.”
Jaehyun didn’t believe the rumors still. No matter what everyone told him, he refused to listen and would rather text or call Seulgi’s disconnected phone in hopes of getting a reply or a call back although it was impossible.
Fast forward to his university life, he was still waiting, but not to get back together with her. Instead, he wanted to get an explanation and a closure.
He was glad that he was finally starting to move forward, all thanks to a certain silver-haired guy, but then the kiss flashed before his eyes again.
“Jung Yoonoh,” Yunhyeong called in irritation, “just go with us. You need to go out to freshen up.”

“Where are we headed anyway?” Jaehyun complained. “And what are we exactly going to do?”
“Eunwoo here has a project with Wendy about the small garden at the center of freedom park. You know how the university is planning on demolishing it and having it replaced with a fast food restaurant?” Yunhyeong questioned.
-“Well, Wendy is really opposed to that. That’s why she, Sungjae's girlfriend, and Eunwoo are doing a research about it in BIO-L 355. They kinda need manpower.”
“Just tell Wendy it’s not worth it. The decision is still on the hands of the higher ups. She’s just wasting her time,” Jaehyun said dismissively. “Besides, isn’t there a sudden boom of population of rabbits in there?”
“You say it like it’s a bad thing.”

“Yeah, because Kim Dongyoung’s species is a great threat to society. He’s a danger to the human race.”
Kim Dongyoung was an education major who was clearly yet subtly hitting on Taeyong. It happened several times, and Taeyong was oblivious about it. That was why he simply hated Kim Dongyoung’s guts.
Eunwoo snickered. “Okay...so, there’s really no way for us to convince you to go with us and change your mind?”


“Even if I threaten you that I’d stop cooking for you if you don’t come with me today?”


“What if I do your laundry for the rest of the week?”
“Hm, just go. You’re just wasting your time. You won’t convince me.”

“Oh.” Eunwoo nodded in pretense defeat. “I guess I’ll just tell Wendy and /Taeyong-hyung/ to forget about it and start a new research about something else, eh?”
“Wait.” Jaehyun came to an abrupt stop. “What did you just say?”

“Oh,” Yunhyeong muttered in realization, supporting Eunwoo’s statement before facing the latter. “Didn’t you mention to me that the idea behind your and Wendy’s research topic originally came from Taeyong-hyung?”
“Yeah, that’s why he’s actually /going/ with us today, bro,” Eunwoo said in exaggeration, shifting his eyes from Yunhyeong to Jaehyun who was gaping at them.
-“He said he’d help me and Wendy because it was the closest he’d ever be to a home. He said the garden reminded him of the one his family has in his hometown.”

“Yeah, too bad you’re not going with us. It might be your chance to patch things up with him,” Eunwoo said in fake innocence, checking his wristwatch. “Anyway, we’re gonna go ahead now. Adiós, amigo.”
Eunwoo glanced at Yunhyeong in secrecy as soon as they turned around, snickering in the process as Jaehyun gawked at them without blinking. He knew they’d won.


“Yes?” Eunwoo asked immediately, facing Jaehyun.
“Wait for me outside,” Jaehyun declared, rushing to his closet to grab clothes and change into them. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

In all honesty, during that time, Jaehyun didn’t know what to do, but he just let things go with the flow.
Upon arriving to their meet-up destination, he immediately saw Wendy Shon, Yook Sungjae whom he met weeks ago and he surprisingly bonded with, a girl who Jaehyun assumed Sungjae’s girlfriend, and of course, the person he’d been dying to talk to, Lee Taeyong.
They weren’t the only ones there. Students flocked everywhere in the freedom park with their placards, condemning the university’s potential move, shouting words of protest against its capitalistic ways. Some of them had megaphones in their hands.
It was fairly hot, the scorching sun shining over the students, but they couldn’t give two shits about getting tan lines that time.

“I never thought it was this serious,” Jaehyun even yelled over the protest in astonishment as he watched the solidarity of students before him.
“That’s because you never go out of your room.”

As soon as Taeyong saw him, Jaehyun noticed that the former was distancing himself. So, Jaehyun kept to himself for a short while while observing Taeyong who was silently watching the protest, mumbling the same words.
In the end, the seven of them had to slip into three groups. Joy Park, who was another group mate of Eunwoo and Wendy Shon, and Yook Sungjae were assigned to find review of related literature of the said study,
while Yunhyeong and Wendy Shon were supposed to identify all of the plants in the garden. Jaehyun, along with Eunwoo and Taeyong, on the other hand, was assigned to conduct a survey among students, faculty, and the staff of the university.
Internally, Jaehyun was both thrilled and annoyed; thrilled because he was finally going to have some alone time with Taeyong, annoyed because they had a plus one in the form of Eunwoo. But he guessed it couldn’t be helped.
“Can’t I just stay with you guys?” Taeyong asked Wendy Shon and Yunhyeong as soon as they assigned their respective tasks, to which the rest of the group didn’t say a thing.
“No,” Jaehyun intervened, clearing his throat and straightening his composure, “we need more people to conduct the survey. I think it’s actually fine that we have three people doing it, considering we have bulks of survey forms to distribute.”
Taeyong didn’t say anything, but the visible irritation on his face spoke for himself.

Amidst the never-ending sea of students, their respective groups proceeded to do their tasks. Jaehyun, along with Eunwoo and Taeyong, began to give out survey forms.
Eunwoo steered away from them little by little, while Taeyong minded his own business, approaching the students with a charming smile in able to convince them to participate in their survey.
Meanwhile, Jaehyun kept a close subtle distance with Taeyong. He’d look in the latter’s way once in a while.

It went on for hours. Eunwoo eventually left the two of them to go to the university faculty and staff to conduct their survey there.
Jaehyun was beyond nervous. He could just walk up to Taeyong by that moment, but he chose to do what he ought to do first before making any move. After a while, he noticed Taeyong was already tired. The latter was sweating a lot and breathing heavily.
Taeyong looked like he would collapse any minute. So, without any hesitation, Jaehyun took the survey forms from Taeyon’s hands wordlessly and proceeded to stop students in their tracks.
Although his body was about to give up, Jaehyun continued on conducting the survey under the unfriendly afternoon of Seoul. Taeyong watched the younger from the sidelines, observing him as he talked to the girls who weren’t even trying to hide their admiration for Jaehyun.
For some reason, he felt a little bitter. Jaehyun was clearly oblivious from the way he innocently looked at them.

The sun had completely set when they finished. Students have slowly dispersed and left the campus gradually.
Jaehyun was beyond exhausted at that point, so he sat on a bench a couple of steps away from the bench where Taeyong was sitting. He could feel the older’s eyes on him from the corner of his eyes, but he didn’t dare look back.
He rested there for a couple of minutes before he stood and said, “Let’s go back.”

Taeyong nodded, watching the younger leisurely walk to the direction of freedom park.
The campus lighting was magnificent, accentuating some of the breathtaking places in university that wouldn’t be as much beautiful during daylight, while the campus smelled like fresh air because of the trees everywhere.
In the distance, Taeyong could see couples walking hand-in-hand, and the kiss he and Jaehyun shared suddenly knocked him out of his trance.
“Why did you kiss me?”

Jaehyun came to a full stop but didn’t turn around. Frankly, he wasn’t expecting Taeyong to open it up, but he guessed the silver-haired guy could be pretty unpredictable, mostly in a good way.
Slowly, he faced Taeyong, the sound of his shoes hitting the pavement louder than it actually was because of the silence that wrapped the place. Taeyong had his head down, his eyes focused on the ground.
“Do you want me to be honest with you?” Jaehyun asked, his heart pounding inside his chest. On the outside, he looked completely devoid of emotion. On the inside, however, he was panicking and trying to find the right words to say.
He waited for a couple of minutes, while Taeyong remained unspeaking under the dim lights. And truthfully, Jaehyun was kind of thankful for that because, in all honesty, he wasn’t ready to be rejected just yet.
He hadn’t even started anything, and he already felt like losing at that time.

“Yes…” Taeyong muttered under his breath with closed eyes. “J-Just tell me…”
There were hundreds of fireflies flying around, their luminous lower abdomen adding more beauty to their surroundings. Jaehyun noticed that they were coming from the small pond not too far from where he and Taeyong were. He took a deep breath.
“B-Because I like you, hyung.” Jaehyun closed his eyes in fear of seeing Taeyong’s reaction. “I really, really like you…”

“I’ve always liked you, okay?” Jaehyun finally opened his eyes only to see Taeyong staring at him brokenly. “I don’t know. I just… You caught my eyes the first time I saw you. I’m not going to lie, at first the reason was superficial.
When I first saw you, I thought, ‘Wow, he’s probably the most beautiful person I’ve ever laid my eyes upon on,’ but as I got to know you more, you’ve proven to me that you are more than just that.”
Taeyong’s eyes were moistening, shining as they reflected the lights.

“You always take time to help others. You always make time to squeeze social work into your schedule.
When I got into an accident, I found out from Wendy that you took a week off just to be able to tend to me and my needs. You cooked, washed the dishes, did my laundry, cleaned our dorm room, and all these small things you could think off.
You work very hard, which is why you’re here in this city, in this university. You came here just to pursue your dreams in able to give back to your community. Do you know how admirable that is, hyung?”
Taeyong didn’t speak, realizing that there were already tears streaming down his face, the words coming out of Jaehyun’s lips rendering him weak.
“I like being with you all the time. I like spending time with you even in the most boring days. Honestly, the only reason I joined /that/ organization was because of you, but you managed to make me realize a lot of things. You taught me to be more human than I already am.
At this point, I’m pretty sure I am already rambling, but I don’t care. None of these things I said would ever completely rationalize why I like you so much.”
“Yoonoh,” Taeyong cried, rising from his seat, “you know we can’t. You’re like a younger brother to me. I can’t like you that way.”
“You can’t...” Jaehyun’s eyes were starting to mirror Taeyong’s. One blink and all the tears he tried to hold back from coming were going to cascade down his cheeks. “But do you…?”
A loud sob resounded from the silver-haired guy, stabbing Jaehyun’s heart mercilessly. Taeyong didn’t say anything.

Jaehyun nodded, finally blinking down the tears. “Is this because of Yunho-hyung?”

It was a simple answer. Three letters, one word. Despite that, it managed to burn a hole in Jaehyun’s heart like a bullet.
He already had a hunch that maybe Taeyong liked his brother and the latter’s actions gave away that, but it was so much worse than hearing it directly from Taeyong.

“I like Yunho-hyung,” Taeyong repeated in between cries.
Double kill. The first time he heard it, damage control was already out of the picture. However, hearing it in complete sentence, Jaehyun didn’t know, was the worst. He felt like his heart had been stomped on and ran over multiple times.
Sobbing like a kid, he raked his hand through his hair in frustration. How could he possibly recover from that?
“You know that he’s going to the US to take over our family business right after graduation, right?” he asked, almost in a begging manner.

“I do…” Taeyong answered almost immediately. “But there’s nothing wrong with hoping, right?”
With a nod of defeat, another sob escaped from his lips. “Hyung…”

A couple of steps—Taeyong took a couple of steps until he was in front of Jaehyun. Slowly with hesitation, he took Jaehyun’s face in between his palms, making him stare in his own bloodshot eyes.
“I’m glad that you like someone like me, Yoonoh.” Taeyong smiled through the tears, letting out a small laugh. He then wiped the tears from Jaehyun’s cheeks before hugging the younger and placing his chin on his shoulder.
-“I promise you, nothing’s going to change between us, okay? I’ll still be your hyung.”

/But there’s nothing wrong with hoping, right?/
Thoughts? Questions?

“He said, ‘I’ll still be your hyung,’” Jaehyun muttered, taking another shot of soju and slamming the shot glass quite harshly on the table. “The thing is, I don’t want him to just be my hyung. I want something more than that.”
It was a chilly night right after the day Jaehyun confessed to Taeyong. He was so heartbroken that he was the one who initiated on going out with Yunhyeong and Eunwoo. Yook Sungjae was also invited.
They were seated at a four-seater table inside a Pojangmacha several blocks away from the university, drinking to their hearts’ content. Well, Jaehyun was drinking his heart out.
It had been Jaehyun’s eighth for the night, and Yunhyeong was worried sick because the latter knew that he wasn’t a drinker. He rarely ever consumed alcohol, and when he did, seventh shot was usually his limit.
Even Eunwoo, who was always composed and collected, was getting concerned as Jaehyun chugged down the alcohol without any hesitation.
“That’s enough, Yoonoh,” Eunwoo intervened, snatching the shot glass from Jaehyun’s hand, causing its content to spill on the table. “A few more shots and you’re going to pass out.”
“Do I look drunk to you?” Surprisingly enough, Jaehyun wasn’t. He guessed that the blow of rejection was so powerful it rendered him immune to alcohol. All he could feel was pain, and he honestly didn’t know how to deal with it at the time.
-“I can probably finish three sojus, and I’d still be sane enough to feel the pain of rejection.”

“Did he tell you if he likes anyone?” Eunwoo asked, taking a shot of his own before scrunching his face.
“He likes Yunho-hyung, my own brother,” Jaehyun muttered under his breath, playing with his own shot glass. He then let out a deep sigh. “He said I’m like his younger brother. Could you believe that?”
“Wait,” Yook Sungjae intervened, “by Yunho, you mean Jung Yunho?”


“He’s your brother?” Yook Sungjae repeated in surprise. “Wow, I had no idea. Taeyong really likes Jung Yunho. He’s actually all he talks about when we’re together.”
With that, Jaehyun became even more dispirited and disheartened as he took another shot without faltering.

“Look what you did!” Yunhyeong scolded Yook Sungjae before turning to Jaehyun. “Dude, are you seriously going to just give up just because Taeyong-hyung likes Yunho-hyung?”

“Then, instead of drowning yourself with alcohol, why don’t we just think of ways to make him fall for you?”

“I don’t think it’s that easy.” Jaehyun heaved a deep sigh. “He sees me as a kid. I just got brother zoned.”

“Sounds like you just wanna give up.”
“Stop speaking rubbish,” Jaehyun snapped. “I just can’t believe all our ‘dates’ and all the other things we did together meant nothing to him.”
“I doubt that, though,” Sungjae spoke from his seat, taking a bite of his barbecue.
-“Okay, I’ll you something. When he first met you, he was gushing to me about how Yunho-hyung introduced his brother to him. Initially, it didn’t weird me out because, well, if Joy had a brother and introduces him to me, I’d ecstatic, too, you know?”
“Same,” Yunhyeong agreed, nodding his head as he poured soju on his shot glass with both hands. “Does Wendy have a brother?”

“Song Yunhyeong, it’s not about you,” Eunwoo jested. “Anyway, please continue.”
“As I was saying, Taeyong was talking about you to me the whole time. I was like, ‘Good for you.’ But then, the days went by, and he completely stopped talking about Yunho-hyung altogether, and you were the only one he ever talks about. It got pretty annoying, to be honest.
He would always tell me what you guys do. Dude, he even take a week off of work just to tend to you.”

“But that’s because he feels bad.”
“Point taken. But what about all those ‘dates’ you two went together that you think meant nothing to him, then?” Sungjae retorted back. “Look, I’ve known Taeyong all my life. We basically grew up together. And he doesn’t go on ‘dates,’ as you liked to put it, with anyone.
Even Wendy, Joy, and I have a hard time convincing him to hang out during his free time, because if he’s not studying, he’s doing social work. I mean, sure, you would think that we always go out together, but that’s because he only hangs out with us.
Most of the time, he rejects us. Now, I’ll ask you, how many times have you asked him to go out?”

“I can’t remember, but we’ve hung out many times,” Jaehyun replied, not really sure where the conversation was going.
“And how many times has he turned you down?”

“...He’s never turned me down...” Jaehyun muttered in realization.
“Taeyong looks like he’d rather be outside, but in all honesty, if it weren’t for doing social, he’d probably never see the light of the day. He likes going out with you, and he enjoys your company.
Plus, he talks about you all the time, to the point that he stopped talking about your brother altogether. That speaks volumes, if you ask me.”
“Look, I’m pretty sure Taeyong-hyung has made it clear that he only sees me as a younger brother and nothing more. It’s also clear that he likes Yunho-hyung, not me. So, I don’t really get why you’re trying to imply that he likes me,” Jaehyun said, almost in anger.
Because he knew, in that moment, there was a high chance that he would’ve played make-believe.
“I’m not implying that he likes you. I’m just saying that you have at least something to hold on to,” Sungjae retorted. “I feel like you’re really serious with him, and I’ve never actually seen that happy until you two started hanging out, not even your brother did that.
Yeah, maybe he sees you as a younger brother right now, but at least you know where to stand at the moment. Take advantage of that. Show him that you’re more than just what he sees.”
Stopping abruptly, Jaehyun took in and internalized what Yook Sungjae said. If there was anyone he’d believe when it comes to Taeyong, it’d absolutely be Yook Sungjae. No questions asked.
The latter had known Taeyong all his life. He was pretty sure Yook Sungjae knew what he was saying.

“Nobody told me we have a philosopher here, huh?” Yunhyeong chimed in with a chuckle.”Don’t tell me that’s what you did to get Joy…?”
“Well, no,” Sungjae replied, which made everyone on the brink of laughing, “it’s actually the other way around.”

“You’re lying...” Yunhyeong muttered, not believing Sungjae in the slightest, but the latter just shrugged his shoulders and took another shot of soju.

A week after that night of confession and rejection, Jaehyun found himself standing in the hall of the biology department, which was a little far from his department’s building, holding the strap of his bag quite tightly in agitation.
There weren’t many students around, considering that almost every room had an ongoing class. He hadn’t texted Taeyong at all since that night, given that he needed the time to actually think things through.
What Yook Sungjae had told him helped more than he’d anticipated, but the pain didn’t fully went away. So, to avoid any impulsive move, he decided to lie low for a week until he was sure he was finally ready to face Taeyong.
Over the past week, he received several messages from Taeyong asking how he was, if he was doing okay, if he wanted to grab lunch together, and whatnot. Jaehyun didn’t message back.
He wanted to make sure that his emotions are carefully intact and that he wasn’t going to do things based purely on impulse first before deciding to see Taeyong again.
Acting based on a sudden urge and an unreflective desire was one of the reasons why Taeyong thought of him as a kid, and he wanted to change that.
Jaehyun stayed rooted to where he was until the students in the room Yook Sungjae told him to look for, in which was Taeyong’s last class for that day, started exiting. Among the heads, he immediately saw Taeyong talking to a female classmate, going to his direction.
He held up his hand in the air, trying to get Taeyong’s attention. It wasn’t until Taeyong’s classmate pointed at him that the silver-haired guy noticed him.
“Yoonoh?” came a surprise call of Taeyong.

“Hyung.” Jaehyun smiled sheepishly, showing the dimples on his cheek.

“Oh my God. Is he your boyfriend?” Taeyong’s classmate asked incredulously which made Jaehyun confused for a millisecond. “You snatched a pretty handsome one.”
“W-What…?” Taeyong stuttered, his eyes going wide. “H-He’s not my boy⁠—”⁠⁠

“Oh, my friends are here,” the female said distractively. “Bye!”
Watching as Taeyong’s female classmate ran up to her friends, Jaehyun noticed that Taeyong’s gaze lingered on her in order to avoid looking at him, because once Taeyong faced him, he saw that the older couldn’t contain his blush.
It was cute, but Jaehyun knew that Taeyong was probably just embarrassed for mistaking them as a couple.

Jaehyun then noticed the paper bag Taeyong was holding. “That looks heavy. What’s that?”
“Oh, it’s just books. You know, exams are coming up,” Taeyong replied as he looked at the paper bag in his hand.

In a swift move, Jaehyun took the paper bag from Taeyong which surprised the latter.
“Yoonoh, what are you doing?”

“...Carrying it for you…?”

“You don’t have to do that. I can carry it myself.”
“Come on, it’s heavy. Just let me do it for you, hyung,” Jaehyun argued, holding it in the air when Taeyong tried to snatch the paper bag and reach for it. “My hyung already looks mentally tired, I don’t want him to look physically tired as well.”
With a cheeky and triumphant smile, Jaehyun went on his way first as Taeyong stared at his retreating figure, blushing hard before following him.

Truth to what Taeyong had told him, Jaehyun realized that nothing really changed between them aside from the fact that Taeyong was already aware that he liked him. The talks, smiles, laughs, and even touches remained the same.
If anything, everything became more sentimental, especially for Jaehyun, but what he didn’t know was, more so for Taeyong. The latter thought, however, that Jaehyun didn’t need to know that.
Examination week was approaching that time, and students were preparing for it religiously.
Eunwoo had stopped coming to his and Yunhyeong’s dorm room to cook for them, leaving both of them eating nothing but instant noodles and everything straight out of convenience store, which alarmed Taeyong the moment the latter found out.
That was why Jaehyun was surprise one Tuesday morning when he saw Taeyong in his natural heavenly state, standing outside his and Yunhyeong’s shared room with a backpack, holding a bag of groceries to his chest.
“Taeyong-hyung?” came a surprise question of Jaehyun. “What brings you here?”
“Eunwoo and I bumped into each other yesterday. He said he hasn’t come over here in days, so I figured you probably haven’t eaten anything healthy these days because of the approaching exam week, and also because you and Yunhyeong can barely cook.”
“You didn’t have to put it like that.”

Taeyong held back a small laugh. “Just kidding. Seriously though, you should’ve told me that Eunwoo hasn’t been coming. I could’ve cooked for you.”
“But you’re also busy. You’re in your third year, and I’m sure your exams are a lot harder than mine so you need more time for your studies.”
“Stop worrying about me, I can manage.” Taeyong gave Jaehyun a blinding smile that almost made the latter lost in thought. “So, are you not gonna let me in?”
Jaehyun ended up taking a break from studying and helping Taeyong in the kitchen, much to the latter’s insistence that he should just continue what he was doing prior to the older’s arrival.
After all, he felt like his mind was being fried by the formulas and things that needed to be memorized. Yunhyeong was thankful for Taeyong’s presence due to the fact that he and Jaehyun had been eating takeaways and convenience store food the past couple of days.
At one point while Taeyong was focused on cooking, Jaehyun stared at Taeyong for a long while from his seat, just watching the older move and grab kitchenware as the aroma of chuncheon dakgalbi captivated his sense of smell.
He looked at him, observing...perusing. In that moment, for Jaehyun, everything felt so natural, as if Taeyong cooking while he studied was the norm.
Jaehyun could perfectly see himself wasting time with Taeyong as they watch movies late at night until they could see through the windows and feel through their skin the morning light.
He could clearly see himself taking joy ride with Taeyong using the car his father gave him as a present for his high school graduation that he never used.
It dawned on him that he wouldn’t mind being in a loop of endless dreadful week prior to exam if it meant an infinite scenario of him just sitting at a table, watching Taeyong cook like a loving husband to him.
It was crazy, Jaehyun thought, how someone could have so much impact within less than half a year of knowing them. What baffled him even more was the fact that someone as selfless and humane as Lee Taeyong could even exist.
In the beginning, Jaehyun was struck by Taeyong’s enchanting beauty. But the silver-haired guy proved to be more than just his looks, that he was more than just what he could offer visually.
“Yoonoh, you’re staring,” he remembered Yunhyeong whispered to him with a nudge to his side, snapping him from his reverie.

“H-huh?” came his stuttered reply.
“Taeyong-hyung is so kind, isn’t he?” Yunhyeong asked, shifting his eyes from Jaehyun to the guy that was busy preparing their meal that day. “He's a far cry better than that girl you used to date.”
Jaehyun didn’t say anything but continued to watch Taeyong move here and there.
In that moment, it dawned on him that there was no point in waiting for Kang Seulgi, no point in being hung up on someone who never valued him to begin with, even if he was just wanted some sort of closure.
He realized that even without that, he needed to move on, because what if he waited for Seulgi to come back for a closure but she never did?
“He is,” Jaehyun mindlessly answered, his gaze not leaving the silver-haired guy who was already about to finish cooking.

Yunhyeong let out a small laugh. “Sometimes, realization hits us in the most random times.”
What Jaehyun didn’t know was that Yunhyeong statement would still be relevant years later.

Examination week painstakingly dragged itself like a snail crossing the other side of the road.
During the last day of that week, Jaehyun, along with Yunhyeong, Eunwoo, Yook Sungjae, Joy Park, Wendy Shon, and of course, Taeyong, went out to celebrate for getting past through hell week. It was a frigid night in Seoul.
The night out was all of a sudden, and Taeyong was too out of his mind that day to wear warm clothes, hence the lack of protection from the cold.
They were gathered outside except for Taeyong and Wendy whom they were waiting for. Jaehyun was typing on his phone, composing a message to send to Taeyong when Eunwoo spotted the two walking to them.
The second Jaehyun heard his friend call for Taeyong, he immediately whipped his head at the silver-haired guy, frowning at what Taeyong was wearing that night.
As if on instinct, Jaehyun removed his trench coat, walked up to Taeyong, and carefully wrapped it around the latter’s wide shoulders, their faces only a few inches from each other. “It’s so cold. Why are you dressed like that?”
“I went straight here from the library. I didn’t notice the time, so I wasn’t able to go back to my dorm and change into something warm,” came Taeyong’s meek reply, his rosy cheeks caused by the chilly weather of Seoul turning even more red.
-“Don’t worry about me, you should keep wearing it.”
Taeyong was about to give him back his coat when he beat him to it. “No, keep it. I’m wearing long sleeves anyway. And still, you should’ve went back to your room first, hyung. You might catch a cold. I thought you were supposed to be the responsible one between the two of us.”
“I don’t want to hold you back. Besides, I have a pretty strong immune system.”

“We still would’ve waited for you...”

“Hey lovebirds, cut that out,” Yunhyeong cheekily intervened, to which he received laughs from the others except from Taeyong and Jaehyun. “Let’s get going.”
They went to that Pojangcha several blocks away from the university but with Wendy, Joy, and Taeyong this time.
As expected, the place was packed and full of university students since it was a tradition to celebrate getting past through exam week to relax, because who knows, students might feel lifeless again once results come out.
Shortly after sitting at a two merged table, the guys immediately ordered beer as the servers served them with wide variety of marinated pork belly and other side dishes.
Surprisingly enough, although the place was packed, the noise was bearable and they could still hear one another without having to shout. At one side, Yunhyeong sat beside Wendy. To their right was Joy whose shoulders had an arm around that belonged to her boyfriend, Sungjae.
Across them, Taeyong occupied the seat next to Jaehyun, blushing hard at their close proximity. Eunwoo, however, felt pretty out of place next to Jaehyun.
“It sucks being the seventh wheel,” Eunwoo grumbled, faking a sigh as the Wendy, Yunhyeong, Jaehyun, and Taeyong blushed in embarrassment. “Next time, I should probably bring a date of my own.”
“B-But we’re not dating...” Wendy muttered under her breath, referring to herself and the guy next to her just pursed his lips.

“...Yet…” Eunwoo pointed out.
There was an awkward silence that loomed over them, but the noise from people there helped to disperse it.

“How was your exam?” Taeyong suddenly said as he looked at Jaehyun, their gazes crossing.
“It was alright,” Jaehyun answered, putting a sliced piece of pork belly on top Taeyong’s rice absentmindedly. “Everything I studied showed up in the exams, so I think I did pretty well. How about you, hyung?”
“Same here. I think I did pretty well, too, but I had to stay up all night for the past two weeks and plaster notes on the wall of my room just to be able to memorize everything. Biology is such a pain. But now, I can finally rest.”
“You had to stay up all night, but you still went to our room just to cook for me and Yunhyeong?”
“Well… You weren’t eating the right food, the both of you,” Taeyong reasoned out, taking a lettuce, putting different ingredients there before feeding it to Jaehyun who, in turn, was surprised from the act.
As whipped as he was for the older, Jaehyun ate it despite the struggle to get it past his lips due to its size.
“Hyung, you should really stop babying me,” Jaehyun teased, pouting in Taeyong’s way by the time he’d swallowed his food. “I’ve gotten so used to it that I think I’ll miss everything you do for me once you graduate.”
“But you /are/ a baby, though,” Taeyong retorted playfully, pinching Jaehyun’s soft cheek and shaking it. “And you don’t have to worry about that. I’m not taking years break. I’ll pursue my medical degree as soon as I get my bachelor’s degree.”

“Yup,” Taeyong replied, bopping Jaehyun’s tall, pointed nose with his index finger, smiling.
“Hey, hey, hey!” Yunhyeong called, slapping the table thrice in a playful manner, getting their attention. “Include us in your conversation! You two aren’t the only ones in this table. Talk to us, too. I know the two of you often get lost in your own little world but not now.”
That earned a laugh from everyone with the exception of Taeyong and Jaehyun who were like a deer caught in the headlights. Their cheeks were raging red, so much as they resembled the color of the kimchi on their table.
“Shut up, Yunhyeong,” Jaehyun fired back, throwing his friend a threatening look. “Don’t be so distasteful just because I didn’t get Wendy-noona’s number that college festival day although you practically begged me.”
“Who begged you?!”

“T-That’s enough,” Taeyong intervened. “So...how are your exams?”

“Ugh, I regret taking up applied statistics,”Yunhyeong responded, massaging his temples with his eyes closed.

“You’re too serious, hyung.” Yunhyeong chuckled to himself, sitting up straight as he popped a piece of sliced pork belly straight from the grill.
-“But no, I’m just kidding. It’s just that I never thought it would be this hard. I came from a science high school and was one of the top students in our batch, so I got used to being at the top that I get so disappointed in myself when I feel like my best is not enough.”
“I’ve been there. I understand you.” Taeyong gave a reassuring smile. “But every time I went to your dorm room, you were always studying. Did the things you studied not show up in your exam?”

“Everything did, but the assurance that I’d get a high grade is out of the picture.”
“Mine was pretty chill. We had to write a lot of essays, which kinda sucks because professors usually have a cut-off grade. Unless your paper is really, really good, then you get a perfect score,” Joy said.
-“Regardless of what the results are, I still love Asian studies. Sungjae here did well, as expected, but he’s planning on changing his specialization.”

“Why, though?” Eunwoo questioned.
“I’ve always had my current specialization and the one I’m planning on shifting to as my first choice. I kinda had to choose one over the other, so I did. My gears, I guess, changed along the way.”

“So, from fisheries to what, then?”

“Fair enough,” Eunwoo said. “In my case, I really love and enjoy Korean literature. And, I did well in my exams, hopefully.”

“What about you, hyung, do you ever plan on changing major, minor, or specialization?” Jaehyun asked in curiosity as he chugged down his beer.
“No, not really,” Taeyong replied.
-“Never actually did it cross my mind, and I don’t have any specialization. I study biology in its broadest sense. I also take and try to do exceptional in chemistry, biochemistry, and physics, since those are some of the solid foundations I would need once I enter med school.”
“You really want to be a doctor, huh?”

Taeyong let out a small laugh, taking a swig from his beer. “I originally wanted to take up astronomy or astrophysics.”
“Really?” Jaehyun asked. He looked at Taeyong who was playing with the food in front of him, reminiscing smile playing in the latter’s lips. He noticed that the moment Taeyong recalled that, the silver-haired guy’s eyes became more reflective.
“Really.” Taeyong nodded in confirmation, smiling at the memory. “When I was a kid, we used lamps at night because we didn’t have electricity back in our hometown.
Everything would turn completely pitch black as soon as the sun sets, and since there’s little to no light pollution there, the sky looked nothing like you see in the cities, that’s why my brother and I loved looking at it from the steps of our house.
To say that it’s beautiful is actually an understatement, that’s why I wanted to study something related to the sky.”

“Speaking of hometown,” Sungjae started, “are you sure you’re not going home for the winter break?”
“Yeah.” Taeyong pulled a wistful smile as he played with his food. “I’m on a tight budget right now, you know that. Plus, I was notified by my boss that my paycheck this month would be delayed so...”

“I’m just asking. My offer stands still.”
“Hyung, why won’t you just come with us?” Joy whined, pouting at the silver-haired guy. “Without you there, Sungjae and I are going to be bored to death.”

“What are you saying, you can just go on dates.”
“How much do you need to go home?” Jaehyun suddenly blurted out that made everyone in the table halt. They all stared at him, flabbergasted at the question.

“I-I will pay for it. You need to spend time with your family, too, and winter break is just the best time for that.”

“You’re talking rubbish.” Taeyong muttered, proceeding on taking another swig of his beer. “Let’s just drop the subject.”
“But hyung—”

“Yoonoh,” Taeyong cut off, “just drop it.”

“That’s too bad...” Wendy muttered, drinking her beer. “I was planning on tagging along with you guys.”
“How about we all go there for vacation instead?” Jaehyun offered, shifting his eyes to and fro everyone expectantly. “I mean, it would be fun. Everything will be on me. I haven’t gone to the countryside, so I think it’d be memorable.”

“But I thought you were going to go back to the states to spend the winter break with your family?” Eunwoo asked in curiosity.
“Yeah, but they will understand if I tell them our plan. They’ll probably be more ecstatic since I don’t go on vacations with friends at all,”
-Jaehyun explained, his hands underneath the table finding Taeyong’s, intertwining them before he gave it a reassuring squeeze as the older looked at him in guilt. “Just trust me on this, hyung.”
A week before their vacation, Jaehyun purchased a ton of cooking books. All of them were scattered in their dorm room’s counter.
There was a smell of something burning lingering in their place, that was why Yunhyeong got alarmed and immediately went to the kitchen just to find Jaehyun clad in an apron with a spatula in his hand.
“What are you doing?” his friend asked in astonishment.

“Uh, cooking?” Jaehyun said, unsure why Yunhyeong was asking the obvious.

“But you don’t cook.”

“Now, I do.”
Frankly, Jaehyun had been wanting to learn how to cook but since he lacked time due to exams, he didn’t get the chance to practice. His urge in learning how to cook was the silver-haired beauty.
When Taeyong would cook for him, Taeyong’s eyes would never fail to light up when Jaehyun would say it’s delicious. He wondered how it would be like if he was the one cooking instead and Taeyong was the one tasting his dish.
Moreover, he was already in his early twenties. If there was something he should know how to do, it was cooking, especially that he’d insisted to his parents that he could live independently.
He had the money to order whatever he wanted, but he soon realized that home cooked meals were more than just food that he ate to fill his stomach.
It was exactly two and a half days before their vacation when Jaehyun finally perfected making tteokbokki, the first ever Korean cuisine he learned to cook.
He then called Taeyong to come over for a surprise. As the latter arrived, he quickly took notice of the familiar aroma coming from the kitchen.
“Was Eunwoo here?” Taeyong asked in wonder when he stepped inside the kitchen and saw the dish on the table. It was presented rather quite fancy with some garnishing like something restaurants serve.
“No,” Jaehyun replied, smiling proudly. At such close proximity, Taeyong couldn’t help but stare at his smooth, milky cheeks, especially at the deep dimples that made Taeyong stop. The latter’s gaze then landed on Jaehyun’s lips. “I made it myself.”
“You did…?”

“Yeah.” Jaehyun scratched his nape in embarrassment as a smile played on his lips. “I practiced doing it this week. I’ve actually been wanting to learn how to cook because it looked so much fun. And besides, I need to learn how to cook.”
/And because I was wondering if you would feel the same things I feel every time you cook for me./
“You can just call me, though, and I’ll cook for you,” Taeyong uttered, taking the pair of chopsticks that were lying on the table and tasting, his eyes lighting up in the process. He chewed on the rice cake as he looked at Jaehyun, impressed.
Ruffling Jaehyun’s silky, light brown hair with affection, Taeyong said, “This is not the conventional taste of tteokbokki, but I really love this version. You did well, Yoonoh.”

/Yeah,/ Jaehyun smiled wholeheartedly, /the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, after all./
NOTE: We're near the present time.

Warning!!! There's going to be explicit smut in one of the future updates. Skip it if you're uncomfortable.

That's it for today.

What do y'all think?
On their first day in Taeyong’s hometown, Ttangkkeut, Haenam County in South Jeolla Province, Jaehyun was surprised to see that everything looked nothing like he imagined it would be.
The village was fairly small, and he couldn’t see past anything because of the white mountains that blocked the view. On the other side, was a small harbor overlooking the ocean, reflecting the cloudy horizon.
There were boats and ships, and local villagers, mainly fishermen, who were transacting with company representatives despite the harsh weather..

Building structures were small and homey compared the ones in Seoul where buildings were sky high, and personal space was nonexistent.
Although it was snowing and everything was pretty much covered in it, it was actually not that bad compared to the amount of snowfall that Jaehyun have been experiencing in Seoul every winter.
Several minutes after waiting in the harbor, two genesis cars appeared in front of them, one black while the other was white. The drivers climbed out of the car, bowing to the seven of them.
“Welcome back, Sir Sungjae,” the two men greeted in unison. “And welcome to our village, Sir Sungjae’s friends.”

“Hey, uncles, how many times have I told you to just address me by my first name,” Sungjae said in embarrassment, earning a laugh from everyone else.
“I know how it feels,” Eunwoo commented. “Our servants are like that, too.”

“But why didn’t you just call over for the van?” Taeyong asked in curiosity, looking at Sungjae in wonder.
“Well, I figured that you and Jaehyun would want to go to your house first, so I asked for the cars. We go separate ways from here, but we’ll visit you guys tomorrow, and we’ll roam around the village and the entire province,”
-Sungjae explained as the drivers took everyone luggage and put them in the cars’ respective trunks. “I’m sure Uncle Sangyoon and Hyunjae would be more than happy to see you right now. Besides, look at Yoonoh. He already looks tired.”
A split second after hearing that, Jaehyun immediately woke up from his half asleep state and looked at the rest of their clique in defense. “I’m not sleepy.”
“Your ears and nose are red,” Taeyong uttered softly, taking one of Jaehyun’s ears in his hands, and massaging it. “Are you alright?”

Jaehyun looked at Taeyong, Taeyong’s eyes specifically, and saw concern.
The massage on his ear was becoming too relaxing, and he didn’t mind Taeyong doing that for the rest of the day. Of course, great things must come to an end. And that was when Yunhyeong nudge his side to snap him out of his reverie.

Since Sungjae, Joy, Yunhyeong, Wendy, Eunwoo, plus the driver couldn't fit inside the car, Eunwoo ended up tagging along to Taeyong’s house with Taeyong and Jaehyun, which annoyed the latter. He could’ve had some time alone, but no, his friend really had to ruin the moment.
He and Taeyong sat in the backseat, while Eunwoo rode shotgun.

“I haven’t seen you in so long, Taeyong,” the driver started half a minute into driving. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been doing well, Uncle,” Taeyong answered with a smile, opening the window in spite of the dampness and coldness of the country air. “Sungjae and I are almost done in college. We only have one year left after this semester.”
“That’s good. Your father is so proud of you. He never forgets to talk about you every time we see each other.”

“Sometimes, Papa can be too much,” Taeyong remarked in self-consciousness.
“What are you saying, it’s normal for parents like us to be proud of our children, especially when they’re achieving so much in life,” came the reply of the driver as they make a turn. “I’m sure Sangyoon would be thrilled to know that his son has finally found someone.”

“Your boyfriend, what’s his name?”

“What boyfriend?”

“The one sitting next to you…?” the driver said, unsure.

“What’s his name?”
Jaehyun could feel his face heat up even when the temperature was below zero degrees. Thankfully, Taeyong was facing the window, admiring the pristine view of the countryside covered in snow.
“Uncle, you’re mistaken. He’s actually not my boyf—”

“Yoonoh,” came Eunwoo’s response. “Jung Yoonoh is his name, Uncle.”

“Cha Eunwoo!” Jaehyun yelled, punching the passenger seat’s headrest. “You better shut up.”
“Uncle, he’s not my boyfriend. You’re mistaken,” Taeyong clarified, feeling the awkward atmosphere starting to take over, jabbing Jaehyun’s heart repeatedly that the latter had to look away from Taeyong and onto the other window. “He’s like a little brother to me.”
That was another blow. If Jaehyun was sitting close to Taeyong earlier with their thighs touching, he decided to scoot away in a subtly, feeling upset. He knew he had no right to be mad and sulky over something like that.
After all, they’d talked about it, and he’s told himself over and over again that he would take things slow, but it still hurt.

The moment they arrived at the Lee residence, Jaehyun was the first one to get out, not really liking the mood inside the car.
He went straight to the back of the car and unloaded the trunk wordlessly, giving Taeyong the cold shoulder. But Taeyong remained oblivious.

“Let me help you with that,” Taeyong softly muttered.
“No, it’s alright. You should go meet your family. Eunwoo and I got this.” Jaehyun forced a smile, his muscles and veins on his arms bulging as he struggled to take the luggage out because of their size.
“Go, Taeyong-hyung, Yoonoh and I will handle this,” Eunwoo persuaded. Only then Taeyong realized the look on Jaehyun’s eyes were the same ones he saw that night when he only saw him as a younger brother.
All the while emptying the trunk, Jaehyun stopped and saw Taeyong walk away from his peripheral vision. He heaved a deep sigh, his breath forming a mist amidst the below zero degrees temperature, before going back to unloading the trunk.
“You know, you should learn how to be immune to things regarding along those lines,” Eunwoo commented.
“You think I don’t know that?” Jaehyun snapped, rolling his eyes in annoyance. “Trust me, I always try my best to be not affected by anything he says, even when it favors me. I try to keep it lowkey.”
“What’s your next move then?”

“I don’t know, really,” Jaehyun replied truthfully, “but I’ve been doing things to show him that I’m not a kid like he makes me seem to be.”
When they finally had all the luggage out of the trunk, they thanked the driver and even gave him a couple of cash much to the driver’s insistence that it was Sungjae’s request and that they shouldn’t bother to give him money.
However, they still did anyway, to which the man thanked them with a polite bow and an ear to ear smile.

“I know that, sometimes, your emotions get the best of you,” Eunwoo muttered, pocketing his hands inside his thick, red padded jacket,
-“but I just want to remind you that today is an important day to Taeyong-hyung. I’m sure you don’t want him to feel like he did something wrong, right?”

Jaehyun nodded in silence.
“For real though, I won’t say this to give you false hope, but remember when Sungjae-hyung told you things about Taeyong-hyung like how Taeyong-hyung does these things that he doesn’t do just with anyone, even to Yunho-hyung?”
-Eunwoo asked, trying his best to find the right words to say, to which Jaehyun nodded again in silence. “I think Taeyong-hyung might actually like you.”
“Huh?” came Jaehyun’s response, completely taken aback. He knew that Eunwoo wasn’t the type of person to just say anything without any basis. Eunwoo thinks before he talks. So, when he heard his friend say that, he was startled.
“I feel like he feels something romantic for you, even the tiniest bit, but I feel like he’s in denial,” Eunwoo explained. “Maybe he’s thinking that he shouldn’t feel that way because he /supposedly/ likes Yunho-hyung. I don’t really know. It’s just a hunch.
And from the interactions I’ve seen between you and him, I really do think there is something.”

Amidst the cold, Jaehyun stared at the house where Taeyong grew up, thinking.
In that moment, he knew he should stop being sensitive, considering there was no label between them, and focus on bettering himself to prove to Taeyong that he was something more than meets the eye.

“Yoonoh, Eunwoo!” Taeyong called from the door. “Come in, it’s cold out there!”
Inside the Lee residence, it was surprisingly big with three mini bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Jaehyun and Eunwoo were met and greeted by Taeyong’s father, Lee Sangyoon, and motioned them to sit down on the floor at the table in the center.
There were four cups of hot red tea.

“I’m Lee Sangyoon,” the man said with a genuine smile on his face as he sat across from Jaehyun and Eunwoo. “Thank you for taking care of my son in Seoul.”

“Papa, I’m older than them.”
“It doesn’t matter,” the elder Lee scolded. “Here, I made these organic red tea. It’s made from lemon tea powder with pomegranate juice, lemon juice, and orange-flavored water. My Taeyong really loves this.”
“Thank you, and it’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Mr. Lee,” Jaehyun accepted the hot cup of tea with two hands, bowing his head slightly as Eunwoo did the same thing.
-“I’m Jung Yoonoh. I’m a freshman in SK National University, majoring in business administration. Taeyong-hyung and I met in a social work-related organization on campus that my older brother is a part of.”
“I’m Cha Eunwoo, it’s nice to meet you, Mr. Lee,” Eunwoo greeted firmly. “I’m also a freshman in SK National University, majoring in Korean literature. I met Taeyong-hyung through Yoonoh and our other common friends.”
“You kids, stop addressing me as Mr. Lee. Just call me uncle. You’re my son’s friends, so I consider you as my children, as well,” Mr. Lee said with a laugh. “I’m glad that my Taeyong here is making a lot of friends. Back in the days, Sungjae is the only one he hangs out with.”
“Taeyong-hyung takes extra care of us.” Jaehyun smiled shifting his eyes from Mr. Lee to Taeyong then back to the former.

“But I’m curious, Yongshik,” Mr. Lee started, facing Taeyong, “who’s the guy you claim to be like Hyunjae?”
“Who’s Hyunjae…?” Eunwoo asked in curiosity.

“Taeyong’s younger brother.”
“I’ve been wanting to make this tea for you in awhile, Yoonoh,” Taeyong muttered under his breath but loud enough to be heard to change the direction of the conversation,“but I can’t find the organic ingredients. The ones in the supermarket in Seoul are just not as good as this.”
“Really?” Jaehyun asked, feeling significantly better just by hearing that from the older. It was crazy how Taeyong could turn his mood a hundred and eighty degrees with just a single statement.
“When his mother was still alive, she used to make this for us in the morning, especially in winter,” Mr. Lee shared. “But when she passed away, I took over the duty of making tea for myself, Taeyong, and his brother.”
“Mom’s is tastier though.” Taeyong let out a small laugh, his eyes creasing, which made Jaehyun zone out for a few seconds.
“By the way, where’s Sungjae?”

“He went straight home. He’s with our other friends, actually. But since we can’t fit here and he’s with his girlfriend, they went straight to the Yooks,” explained Taeyong.
“So, which of them is your boyfriend?”

Instantly, Taeyong’s face heat up, feeling another potential awkward tension he didn’t want to be involved in. Fortunately, one of his father’s co-farmer went looking for his father.
“Sangyoon!” a loud voice from the outside called.

“I have to go now, you go finish your tea and settle in Taeyong’s room,” Mr. Lee reminded them.

“Where are you going, Pa?”

“I need to store the crops on-farm.”

“But it’s too cold outside!”
“It doesn’t matter.” Mr. Lee chuckled. “You act like I’ve never done this before when I basically do this every winter even before you were born.”

“Your father’s really sweet, hyung,” Jaehyun commented, drinking his cup of tea. “Now, I really miss my dad.”
When they finished the teas, Jaehyun, together with Eunwoo, was guided by Taeyong to the latter’s old bedroom. Inside, it was very small, but it could fit two people at the very least.
There was only one bed in the corner, a small closet, a fan, a study table with lots of pens in a mug and a table lamp. There was also a bookshelf full of different types of books, ranging from textbooks and novels to graphic novels, manga, and comic books.
It was very simple, but the pastel colors of the walls and the furniture inside made it more like Taeyong, if that made any sense. There was a small window that overlooked the garden and the entire farm.
Without any hesitation, Jaehyun plopped down to the small bed, caressing the comforter. He hadn’t even propped his face on it, but he could already small the smell familiar scent of vanilla that awfully resembled Taeyong’s scent.
“I’ll bring extra futon later. For now, you guys settle here. Just ask me if you need anything.”

“Wait,” Jaehyun said, “Eunwoo and I are going to be sharing your room?”

Taeyong nodded slowly. “Yeah, why?”

“But where will you sleep later?”

“Uh… In my brother’s room…?”
That earned Jaehyun a laugh from Eunwoo. When nighttime came, it was snowing heavily, making it unbearable for both Jaehyun and Eunwoo to sleep due to the extreme cold. The comforter and blanket weren’t doing it, and they almost froze to death.
The following day, they both came out the room to have breakfast in the living room, the bags under their eyes very visible.

“What happened to you two?” Taeyong asked as soon as he saw them with tired eyes, clad in multiple layers of clothing.
“Last night was...something else...” Jaehyun trailed off, trying not to offend the Lees.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you that we don’t have heater here,” Taeyong uttered in realization. “I’m really sorry about that.”
“No, it’s fine.” Jaehyun smiled wholeheartedly, noticing the unfamiliar guy sitting beside Taeyong. “Who is he…?”
“Oh.” Taeyong’s eyes shifted from the two to his younger brother who was drinking red tea beside him. “This is Hyunjae. Hyunjae, these are my friends from Seoul, Jung Yoonoh and Cha Eunwoo.”
“Hello, I’m Hyunjae, it’s nice to meet you.” Lee Hyunjae bowed as the other two did the same before taking the seat across from the brothers at the table.

“Hello, I’m Jung Yoonoh.”

“I’m Cha Eunwoo.”
“Hyuk, this is Yoonoh, the one I’m telling you about.” Lee Hyunjae stared at the man across him, as if perusing and memorizing Yoonoh’s features. “You guys look kinda similar and act the same.”
“Really…?” Hyunjae asked, tilting his head. “Now that you mentioned it, hyung, I kinda indeed see some similarities.”
“Right?” Taeyong asked in confirmation, smiling at his brother before shifting his eyes to Jaehyun who was nodding in agreement. “Maybe I should call you Jaehyun from now on, Yoonoh. Hyunjae, Jaehyun. Isn’t it cute?”
That was how he got the name Jaehyun. Initially, he hated it. Because Jaehyun didn’t want to be seen just as a younger brother. He wanted more than that, but over the months and years, he learned to love it because it came from Taeyong.
“But I also think that I look better than him,” Hyunjae muttered nonchalantly, taking a sip of his red tea. “Anyway, is Sungjae-hyung going to visit? I miss playing Janggi with him.”
That made Jaehyun come to the conclusion that /yup, he doesn’t like Hyunjae,/ but at the same time, he wanted to be nice to the younger Lee, since he was Taeyong’s brother. Due to the heavy snow pouring down that day, their clique wasn’t able to roam around the village.
The three of them ended up staying at the Lee residence all day while Mr. Lee was out, tending to the crops.
Since Eunwoo was actually a Janggi player back in high school, he ended up bonding with Hyunjae which slightly annoyed Jaehyun, given that he wanted to be close to Taeyong’s brother. Whoever Taeyong loved, he wanted to learn how to love them, as well.
As the sun set, it was still snowing hard. And by the time, it was time to sleep, Hyunjae had whined nonstop to play more rounds of Janggi with Eunwoo because he couldn’t accept losing without even having the chance to get back.
In the end, Jaehyun was ecstatic that even though he wasn’t able to be friends with Hyunjae right away, the latter became a way for him and Taeyong to end up in Taeyong’s old bedroom. Not that he was planning anything shady. He just wanted to have an alone time with Taeyong.
They debated which of them should occupy the bed. Taeyong was insisting for Jaehyun to take the bed because Jaehyun was the visitor, while he was insisting on Taeyong taking the bed because it was Taeyong’s bedroom, after all. Of course, Jaehyun won.
Taeyong gave him extra blankets to warm him up, but it wasn’t making it any better due to the heavier snowfall that night compared to the previous night.
“Jaehyun?” Taeyong softly called. The lights were out, and the room was dimmed. The nickname felt foreign, taking into account that it was new, yet it also felt familiar. It fit like it was made for him and only him.
“Hmm?” Jaehyun hummed slowly, hugging himself amidst the deathly cold as he lay on the futon.

“Are you cold?”

“Can I be honest?” Jaehyun asked with a hint of laugh. “I am.”
The next thing that happened was not something Jaehyun expected. He heard some shuffling from where Taeyong was. Moments later, he felt a figure getting underneath the sheets that he was using, scooting closer to him. Taeyong’s face greeted him.
And Jaehyun couldn’t help but heat up at the proximity.

With the beat of his heart accentuating, Jaehyun faced Taeyong in all his might, staring at the silver-haired guy’s eyes unfalteringly.
He could feel that Taeyong was feeling sheepish because the latter kept looking down and avoiding his eyes.

The clock that hung on the wall was the loudest it had ever been, its tick reverberating through the thin walls of Taeyong’s room.
Add to that the swooshing sound of the heavy wind outside. It made things less awkward for both of them, and Jaehyun was thankful for that.

Slowly, Jaehyun felt one of Taeyong’s arms circle his waist underneath the covers. His stare intensified, eyebrows scrunching.
There was a small between their bodies, and Jaehyun wanted to eliminate that. With his newfound courage, he put his arm around Taeyong’s slim waist before pulling him closer, which made the latter’s breath hitch.
They stared at each other’s eyes for a solid five seconds before Taeyong turned his head and planted his face on Jaehyun’s shoulder, invading the younger’s sense of smell with his vanilla scent.

Eventually, the two of them fell asleep in that position;
Taeyong breathing into Jaehyun’s neck and Jaehyun feeling and listening to the beat of his and Taeyong’s heart in synchronization, giving each other the warmth both of them needed as the swooshing sound of the wind along with the snow continued resounding outside.
However, before Jaehyun was even overtaken by his sleepiness, he pressed his lips onto Taeyong’s forehead, not knowing that the latter was still awake.
They woke up in the same position the next day. It was Jaehyun who woke up first, his gaze landing at the most beautiful person he had ever laid his eyes on. Taeyong with his lips slightly parted, Jaehyun concluded, was the cutest thing in the world.
He never thought he’d be able to witness something like that, that vulnerabile sight of Taeyong. There were no birds chirping, nor was there sunlight hitting their skin like those he read in books. Only Taeyong was there, and for Jaehyun, that was enough.
Upon opening his eyes, Taeyong’s vision was hazy. As soon as he could make out what was happening, however, his eyes went wide. He tried to pull away, but Jaehyun wasn’t having any of it. Jaehyun pulled him closer, propping his chin on Taeyong’s head, smelling the older’s hair.
“Y-Yoonoh, what are you doing…?” Taeyong stuttered, feeling his heart almost exploding.

“Call me, Jaehyun,” Jaehyun replied. “And I’m hugging you. It’s really, really cold, hyung. I need more warmth.”

“Fine, Jaehyun.”
Entangled—that’s how they spent their morning. If it weren’t for Eunwoo, who needed to have a change of clothes, they probably would’ve stayed in bed all day long.
Snow had finally stopped pouring on their third day there although it was still fairly cold, given that the snow hadn’t even started melting yet.
Jaehyun, together with Taeyong and Eunwoo, met up with Sungjae, Joy, Yunhyeong, and Wendy at the local playground where Taeyong and Sungjae used to hangout as a kid.
They went to Haenam Dinosaur Museum, learning about different kinds of dinosaurs that existed during the prehistoric era and taking pictures of ginormous models of them.
In their entire stay, their clique visited a lot of places, such as Taeyong and Sungjae’s elementary and high school, the plaza where the two used to play, the Yook’s winery, the Lee’s farm, local restaurants, and Buddhist temples.
In one of their visits to a Buddhist temple, Jaehyun had knelt by Taeyong side, the latter’s eyes closed with his palms put together, before a statue of Buddha. He couldn’t help but look at Taeyong’s peaceful state and wished that somehow, someday, he could call Taeyong his.
What Jaehyun loved more than anything during their stay was the farm life, such as tending to the livestock, the Lees’ garden, and the farm. He, together with Taeyong, Eunwoo, and Hyunjae, enjoyed helping with Mr. Lee in spite of the unfriendly weather during their stay.
He and Taeyong also became roommates that vacation due to Hyunjae’s insistence that Eunwoo should stay in his room. Jaehyun, like the /obedient/ guy that he was, agreed to it without a complaint, while Taeyong could do nothing but roll his eyes.
For the rest of their stay in Ttangkkeut, Jaehyun and Taeyong slept in each other’s arms.

The night before they had to go back in Seoul, Jaehyun changed into something comfortable after showering, while Taeyong faced the wall.
After that, he lay down and called for Taeyong, patting the space beside him before the latter crawled to his side. He spread his arm over Taeyong’s pillow as the silver-haired guy rest his head on it. They could smell each other’s scent, and Jaehyun was becoming addicted to it.
One of the problems he had was that he hadn’t gotten off for almost two weeks. And so, Taeyong’s scent was affecting in ways more than he should have been.
Taeyong had a pretty large shirt, resulting to his collarbones being exposed. His hair was down, while his lips glistened under the moonlight invading the room.
His clothes were also thinner compared to the ones he wore lately, considering it wasn’t as cold as it was when they first came there, and Jaehyun was having a hard time...literally.
His cock underneath his boxers was rock hard that he had to crush a pillow in between his legs just below his balls in able to hide the bulge. At the same time, he was breathing heavily due to his horny state.
It was taking him everything not to ravish Taeyong’s sinfully exposed neck and collarbones.

“Jaehyun…?” Taeyong called once he noticed that Jaehyun was acting weird. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, hyung,” Jaehyun answered, avoiding the older’s gaze.
But Taeyong decided to take Jaehyun’s face in between his fingers, tilting the younger’s face by the cheeks to face him. “Really?”

“Y-Yes, hyung...” Jaehyun closed his eyes, his breath fanning over Taeyong’s lips.

“Okay… Goodnight.”
Jaehyun wasn’t really expecting it, but there it was. He felt a pair of slightly we lips pressing on his face, lingering for two seconds at the very least, which took him by surprise.
Slowly, he fluttered his eyes open, seeing Taeyong’s heavenly face appear right before his eyes, only inches away from his. In that moment, Jaehyun saw once again Taeyong’s vulnerable side, a side which he loved more than anything.
Involuntarily, Jaehyun licked his lips as he stared intensely into Taeyong’s reflective eyes, his eyes searching for a disapproval in regards to what he was about to do. When he saw none, he immediately crashed his lips against Taeyong’s, kissing him in a hungry manner.
He pulled the older closer, their personal space disappearing in like a bubble that was popped into the air. It took a few seconds into the kiss before Taeyong threw everything else at the back of his mind and kissed him back.
Jaehyun’s libido was high. His cock was so hard its head was peeking from the waistband of his boxers. He then slipped his tongue inside Taeyong’s mouth, exploring every inch of the latter’s mouth without any kind of hesitation, before he climbed on top of him,
his hands propped on each side of Taeyong’s head. There was a string of saliva connecting their lips when Jaehyun broke the kiss.

“Y-Yoonoh...” came Taeyong’s defeated plea.
In hunger, Jaehyun dove into Taeyong’s neck, sucking and licking on it before fresh bruises appeared on them. He basically ravished the entirety of the older’s neck before coming down to his collarbone, doing the same thing to it.
Jaehyun’s lust deepened when he saw Taeyong’s lewd expression as the latter spread all over the futon. Feeling the heat all over his body, he decided to remove his top before removing Taeyong’s.
Their heavy breathing resonated through the room, heavily driven by the desire to touch and feel each other.
Jaehyun took Taeyong’s pink bud, playing with it in between his fingers as he watched the older restrain his moan in fear of someone potentially hearing them from the outside since the walls were thin.
After a couple of seconds, his tongue then connected to one of the pink buds, wetting it first before abusing it the core and doing the same thing to the other.
“Y-Yoonoh...” Taeyong cried out, tears forming in his eyes.

“Call me Jaehyun, hyung,” Jaehyun whispered in Taeyong’s ear before licking the latter’s earlobe lasciviously. “You taste so fucking good… Fuck, touch me, too, hyung. Could you do it for me…?”
Without having second thoughts, Taeyong nodded, his eyes half-lidded.
Leisurely, Jaehyun took his previous spot on the futon and lay on his back, his milky washboard abs and broad chest on display for Taeyong to feast on as he looked at the silver-haired guy, who was visibly hesitant, with lust-filled eyes.
“Hyung,” Jaehyun called, just slightly above a whisper, in an urging manner. “Touch my body. Do whatever you want.”
He felt Taeyong’s eyes on him first before on his body. In the older horny stupor, Taeyong caressed his broad chest first, feeling the muscles with slight grasp before moving down to his rock hard abs.
Taeyong kept touching his stomach as they kissed, their tongues intertwining as their saliva mix with each other By the time Jaehyun couldn’t take it anymore, he put his hand over Taeyong’s,
guiding it down from his happy trail just below his navel to the peeking meat just above his waistband.
Jaehyun’s heart was hammering through his chest. His cock was twitching from the arousal he was feeling of being touched and kissed by Lee Taeyong. He then lowered his boxers, directing Taeyong’s hand on his uncut manhood, pulling its foreskin back to show the red head.
Jaehyun’s cock was huge. Its girth was at least five and a half inches, while its length was nine inches.

Slowly, he guided Taeyong, pushing and pulling on his cock in a slow paced manner.
Just by having the older’s hand on his cock was already marvelous, what more if he stuck it inside Taeyong’s ass?

The whole time, he was watching Taeyong who was focused on jerking him off.
When he couldn’t hold back anymore, he motioned for Taeyong’s had to get on his cock’s level. Taeyong stared at him first and gulped, to which he nodded reassuringly. With hesitation, Taeyong took his cock.
It wasn’t aggressive or anything along those lines at first. It was slow and sedate.

“Oh, fuck,” Jaehyun moaned lowly. “Hyung, your mouth is so hot. And your lips are so addicting. It fits your mouth just right.”
Taeyong couldn’t speak but he was humming while his mouth was full, causing Jaehyun to feel vibrations through his cock which only made him more horny than he already was. He could taste the salty precum in his mouth.
“Do you like my cock, hyung?” Taeyong nodded mindlessly. “Then, you should suck on it more. See if you can reach the end.”

Like a pet obeying his owner, Taeyong tried to take more of Jaehyun’s cock until he reached the end.
Although he succeeded, he couldn’t help but choke on it as tears formed in his eyes. He then took out the cock from his mouth, a string of saliva connecting his lips and the slit of Jaehyun’s cock.
He was startled when he felt Jaehyun’s hands on the back of his head, guiding him to put the cock in his mouth before fucking it mercilessly. It was very aggressive, and Taeyong couldn’t help but cry, moan, and choke all at once as Jaehyun’s cock hit his throat.
Jaehyun pulled Taeyong up, flipping him over. He watched Taeyong as the latter lay on his back. Instantaneously, he pulled all the remaining garments from Taeyong’s body, the latter’s cock springing to life as soon as it was exposed.
He then lifted Taeyong’s ass up in the air, looked at the silver-haired dead in the eyes, and then licked his pink throbbing hole.
On instinct, Taeyong twitched from the contact, feeling the wet muscle invading his hole. He was writhing and moaning so much that he had to clutch on the covers, while Jaehyun had to cover his mouth with one hand.
Jaehyun lapped on Taeyong’s hole like a dog, spitting on it before diving his tongue repeatedly and sticking it inside. The tears in Taeyong’s eyes cascaded down as the pleasure heightened. His cock was twitching so hard, dripping with precum.
As Jaehyun feasted on Taeyong’s pink, sensitive hole, he then moved the fingers of his hand that was covering the silver-haired’s mouth, inserting three fingers inside for Taeyong to suck on.
“Hyung, you’re not a virgin, are you…?” Jaehyun asked.


That halted Jaehyun’s movement. “No?”

With reddened cheeks, Taeyong nodded. “Y-Yunho-hyung and I had a drunken night and things escalated quickly...”
Wrong move. Jaehyun’s eyes, as well as his expression darkened, and Taeyong noticed it, too. Out of his mind, he plunged his middle finger, earning a loud moan from Taeyong.
That time, he was clouded by jealousy. He couldn’t stomach the thought that the one he cherished the most had sex with his own brother.
“J-Jaehyun...” came Taeyong’s restrained voice.

“Did you like it?” Jaehyun’s menacing voice was frightening, almost as if he wasn’t the Jaehyun Taeyong had always known. “No, don’t answer that. I’ll fuck you so hard you won’t even remember you had sex with him.”
Another finger ram inside Taeyong’s hole, and then another added. Three fingers pounded inside the older’s hole, and Taeyong could do anything but to restrain his moan and his cry as he clutched on the covers.
“J-Jaehyun,” Taeyong cried, “just put it in, please!”

“Yeah?” Jaehyun teased, slapping Taeyong’s ass cheek. “Do you really want it, hyung?”

“Y-Yes, just please...”
Jaehyun smirked in triumph, lifting both of Taeyong’s legs and resting them on his wide shoulders before he aligned his throbbing cock with the older’s abused hole. Slowly, he inserted the head, making Taeyong flinch from the pain.
It was a lot bigger compared to Jaehyun’s fingers, and the pain was almost unbearable.

“Are you alright, hyung?” Jaehyun questioned, his aggressiveness completely replaced by worry as soon as he saw Taeyong writhed in pain, face scrunched. “Do you want me to pull out?”
“N-No...” Taeyong tried to even his breath, making himself used to Jaehyun’s thickness. “I just need a moment.”

Not wanting to hurt the love of his life, Jaehyun stayed absolutely still, careful not to make any movement that would bring pain to the older.
When Taeyong told him he could move, he inserted more of himself into Taeyong, the hole sucking his cock like a vacuum. Taeyong’s inside was extremely hot, and the both of them were going crazy at the amount of pleasure they were feeling at that moment.
By the time Taeyong had adjusted, Jaehyun didn’t waste any more time, and he slammed himself into the silver-haired ass, his balls slapping on Taeyong’s ass cheeks. He pounded and pounded until there were sweat dripping down his sideburns and forehead.
Nothing held them back anymore. They no longer cared about the skin to skin contact making noises that could probably be heard by other people from the other rooms.
“You like that, hyung?” Jaehyun asked, his breath ragged, slamming himself on Taeyong. “Do you want more?”

“Yes!” came Taeyong’s immediate response. “I want it faster and harder!”
Jaehyun couldn’t help but chuckle. He obeyed Taeyong’s orders, nevertheless. His pounding became more aggressive, more rabid, and most of all, more passionate. As he continued his pace, he looked at Taeyong whose eyes were closed, lips parted.
And Jaehyun couldn’t believe that the more he saw a new side Taeyong, the more he fell in love.

All night long, the room was filled with lewd and sensual moans and sounds of passionate love-making and heated kisses.
“I-I’m c-close, J-Jaehyun,” Taeyong moaned as he jerked himself, while Jaehyun rocked him hard, “I-I’m cumming!”

“I-I’m cumming, too!” Jaehyun whispered with ragged breath.
Moments later, Jaehyun came inside Taeyong’s ass, whereas the latter spurted multiple times on his stomach. They were both exhausted, panting heavily as they stared at each other intensely with only the tick of the clock and their breathing could be heard.
Slowly, Jaehyun fell on his back beside Taeyong, this time, both of them staring at the ceiling.

In spite of being in all his glory, Jaehyun stood up, his manhood hanging loosely.
Taeyong whipped his head on the other side in order to not see it which made Jaehyun chuckle to himself. They just had sex, and Taeyong was acting like his thing didn’t plunge inside the older’s ass.
Jaehyun put on his boxers, got a clean towel from his suitcase, wet it in the bathroom, came back and sat on the edge of the futon, and then cleaned Taeyong’s sore ass.
“Does it hurt?” Jaehyun asked in the middle of silence.

“Y-Your thing is big...” Taeyong grumbled like a little kid. “W-Why do you even need to ask?”

“There’s no need to be feisty,” Jaehyun taunted, laughing at his own antics and the older’s cuteness. “I just wanted to know.”
“Well, now, you know.”

“You’re so cute, hyung.” Jaehyun smiled genuinely, lying on his back under the covers beside Taeyong before staring at the ceiling once again.
The room was then enveloped with silence. They both knew that sooner or later, they’d have to talk about what just happened. Friends don’t kiss, and most importantly, friends don’t make love to each other.
Sex? Debatable. Make love? That’s a whole different story. And Jaehyun decided that it was better to know the answer sooner rather than later.

Jaehyun heaved a deep sigh, smiling wistfully. “...What does this makes us exactly, hyung…?”
If someone were to tell Jaehyun years ago that he’d fall in love with someone else that wasn’t Kang Seulgi, he would’ve probably laughed at them.
But there he was, splayed on a futon inside the room of someone he met more than half a year ago, asking for something that was probably too much.
Taeyong didn’t say anything. A couple of seconds later, Jaehyun heard faint sniffling. Taeyong was crying, his tears streaming down continuously as he thought through what just happened between him and Jaehyun.
“Hyung,” came Jaehyun’s alarmed voice, scooting closer to Taeyong and taking him in his arms as the latter cried to his chest. “What’s wrong?”

“I-I’m so scared, Yoonoh,” Taeyong responded into Jaehyun’s chest, his voice muffled. “I-I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with you...”
“Wait.” Jaehyun stopped suddenly, pulling himself to look at Taeyong. “What?”

“What /what?/”

“What you just said, could you repeat it?”

“You said, /I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with you.../” Jaehyun repeated.

Upon hearing that, only did Taeyong realize what came out of his mouth. “It’s not what⁠—”
“Don’t you dare lie to me now, hyung.” Jaehyun’s tone was stern and serious, which made Taeyong cower both in embarrassment and fear. “I’ve been waiting for this time to come around. You have no idea.”

“But what?” Jaehyun cut off.

“But I l-like Yunho-hyung...”
“You like him, you love me. What you feel for him might be entirely different from what you feel for me,” Jaehyun explained, his eyes not leaving Taeyong’s.
-“Maybe you don’t even feel anything for him anymore, but you’re just too used to the thought of liking him that you hold on to that so much.”

“I-I don’t know...” Taeyong sniffed. “I-I’m scared, Yoonoh.”
“Don’t be,” Jaehyun whispered reassuringly, lifting Taeyong by the chin before pressing his lips for a solid three seconds and staring at the older’s eyes. “We don’t have to be exclusive right away. I’m just as nervous as you are. For now, let’s help each other out, alright?”
Taeyong nodded in silence, pressing his ear on Jaehyun’s chest, listening to the beat of Jaehyun’s heart.

Jaehyun’s hold tightened. “I love you, too, hyung. Let’s have each other’s back.”
Before they dozed off, Jaehyun and Taeyong watched the sky. Good thing that there weren't any clouds visible as the winter break was to be over. What Taeyong said was really true, the sky there looked nothing like the ones you see in the cities.
The stars were bright, glimmering in their purest form. They were like smeared glitters across the cosmos, and they awfully resembled Taeyong’s heavenly eyes.
NOTE: 1 or 2 more updates before the present time!!! I'm so excited, hehe. Btw, I listened to Yunho's City Lights while writing the smut you guys never asked for.

Genuine question: Are my updates too short? Please, let me know.

It’s still perfectly vivid in Jaehyun’s mind how he stole kisses from Taeyong when everyone was preoccupied after their shared night of intimacy and lovemaking.
He could still remember how happy he felt at that moment that he felt like nothing could go wrong as long as Taeyong was by his side.
On the day of their departure, Jaehyun could still remember how Mr. Lee asked him a favor of something along the lines of, “Please, take care of my son. That’s all I ask of you.”
And what was what Jaehyun did. He took care of Taeyong. After all, that’s what the silver-haired guy deserved; to be taken care of. And aside from that, he loved him dearly. He loved him as did the moon loved the sun.
In the process of loving Taeyong, Jaehyun had to change a lot of things about himself. It wasn’t because the older wanted him to, but because he wanted to, in order to be deemed worthy not only by everyone but also by Taeyong himself.
After mastering tteokbokki, Jaehyun tried out a lot of Korean cuisine, starting from the easy ones to dishes that could be served in a fancy restaurant. He even went as far as taking a cooking class during his free time much to his dedication.
And every time he learned a new dish, it would always be Taeyong who gets to taste it first and judge it. Jaehyun still feels as if it was just yesterday when he’d see Taeyong’s eyes light up when the latter happens to like his cooking.
Laundering clothes, washing the dishes, vacuuming the floor, dusting off the ceiling and the corners of his place were also among the things Jaehyun worked hard on.
If he and Yunhyeong had someone come over twice a week to clean their place in the earlier days of their freshman years, Jaehyun learned to take the responsibilities upon himself, although his roommate felt bad when he was the one doing all the chores.
All of those, he did them concurrently with his studies.

When Jaehyun wasn’t busy doing those or studying, he’d come over Taeyong and Sungjae’s shared room and hang around there.
One time, when he visited there, Sungjae wasn’t around, and he took the opportunity to hold Taeyong’s hand. That was when he noticed that unlike Taeyong’s celestial features, the older’s hand was rough and dry.
It was nothing like he would’ve imagined, considering how breathtaking Taeyong was. He expected his hand to feel soft and smooth, like that of a baby. However, he was wrong. That, alongside Taeyong’s scar, was a flaw he learned to love.
In retrospect, what Jaehyun learned to be the most significant thing was that Lee Taeyong was a very flawed man, both in a literal and a figurative sense.
Lee Taeyong wasn’t the quintessential person he thought he was, because he is both a deserted land without a path and a road with only the end as its way out. Lee Taeyong was both a hurdle in a competition and the grand prize all at once—difficult and complicated but worth it.
Jaehyun finally got Taeyong’s long-awaited yes at the start of the spring semester during his sophomore year in university.
They were walking through the garden, in which the trees and leaves were starting to grow, of the university when Taeyong suddenly stole a kiss from his cheek. It surprised Jaehyun.
Frankly, Taeyong was never the one to initiate anything that involved intimate physical contact, until the instance. Before he knew it, Taeyong had made it official, looking at him in the eyes with so much love, and kissing him in public for everyone to see.
Still, there were tears of guilt Taeyong shed due to being in denial of his feelings because of Yunho, to which Jaehyun reassured him that it was alright.
They celebrated that day with more kisses, holding hands, a dinner somewhere fancy, and a night filled with intimate touches and sensual moans.
“I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time. When we were first introduced to each other, there was nothing, absolutely nothing romantic I felt for you. I was happy, though, because you were my supposed crush’s brother.
But as we spent more time together and built a sort of bond, I became afraid of where it could possibly lead us. At one time, Sungjae even pointed out that I talk more about you than Yunho-hyung. To be honest, you initially reminded me of my brother, Hyunjae.
I baby him a lot, so when I saw the resemblance between you and him, I naturally gravitated toward you. That day, when you kissed me for the first time, I was more confused than ever. I liked it, no, I /loved/ it more than you could ever imagine.
Still, I was under the impression that I like Yunho-hyung. I mean, coming from the countryside, I’ve always had this make-believe that to whoever I give my all for the very first time, they’d be the one I’d marry in the future…
But you were persistent, and you showed that you are more than just how I initially saw you as. And then that night happened… After that, I always think of kissing you and being with you twenty-four seven. It’s not even funny.
But when you’d steal a kiss from me, or even touch my hand, my heartbeat speeds up as if it’s going to burst out of my chest. I have come to realize that maybe I really am in love with you,” Taeyong had narrated, his face fragile and vulnerable.
Speechless, Jaehyun stood with tears in his eyes. He swiftly took Taeyong in his arms, placing his face on the crook of the silver-haired guy’s neck as wept silently while his back was being caressed by Taeyong. “I love you, hyung. I’ve been waiting for this for so long...”
It became one Jaehyun’s most treasured days of his life. And with that memory in mind, he decided to make more memories with different experiences but with the same feeling.

Jaehyun made sure that Taeyong wouldn’t regret being with him.
He’d cook for him, study with him, sleep with him—basically, spend all of his time with Taeyong, so as long as it wasn’t a hinder to his academic performance.
For months, Jaehyun felt like a seed head of a dandelion being swayed by the wind alongside Taeyong, going with the flow wherever it takes them as long as they were together. And then their very first fight as a couple happened.
It was a Tuesday night, and Jaehyun had to reject Taeyong’s offer to eat dinner together because he had to study for an upcoming exam. Initially, Jaehyun wanted to go.
But when Taeyong found out about him studying for an exam, the older insisted on him continuing what he ought to be doing. Yunho, however, called, telling him there was an emergency, and that he’d picked up by a car.
Full of worries, Jaehyun did as he was instructed by his elder brother. He immediately entered the car Yunho sent him without asking anything as the car sped away. His confusion came when he was dropped off at a familiar restaurant that he and Taeyong frequented to.
It was the farm-themed restaurant not too far away from the university. Aside from the fact that it was unnecessary to be picked up by a car to go to a place he could easily take a bus, he was more confused why he was dropped off there.
His eyes lit up, nonetheless, when he saw his elder brother, Yunho, together with two of her sisters, Krystal and Jessica Jung.
“Krystal-noona, Jessica-noona!” Jaehyun blurted out inside the restaurant, gaining a couple of weirded out stares from the diners. He then walked to their table, still unbelieving. “You’re here… When did you guys arrive?”
“Why does it seem like you don’t wanna see us?” Krystal joked, drinking her water.

“No!” was Jaehyun’s immediate response, plastering a smile on his face. “I-I’m just surprised, is all. Yunho-hyung said there’s an emergency, so I got kind of worried. Good thing it’s just you.”
To say that Jaehyun was afraid is an understatement. If he were being honest, he’d probably prefer having an emergency over seeing his sisters that moment. Don’t get him wrong. He loves his sisters to death, but they could be overprotective most of the time.
And if they ever find out that he has a boyfriend, which they did later on, Taeyong would be in so much trouble.

Unbeknownst to Jaehyun, Taeyong wanted to surprise him with a takeaway dinner from that same restaurant.
So, after work, Taeyong decided to drop by that place. And he was seen with his Yunho-hyung and two other girls, who Taeyong didn’t know initially.

The following day, Jaehyun tried contacting Taeyong after his exam.
All he ever got as a reply, however, was /I’m busy/ without any further reason or explanation. Since he didn’t want to seem too clingy, he let it slip and decided to go back to his dorm. But it didn’t stop there.
He tried contacting Taeyong again the next day but to his dismay, his boyfriend didn’t respond this time. He even tried to visit the Taeyong’s at the latter’s dorm, but he was told by Sungjae that Taeyong had been doing double shift at work and coming home late.
A week passed without a single message and a show, and Jaehyun had decided that was it. He was beyond pissed and hurt. It felt like Taeyong was doing his best to avoid him. He didn’t know what he had done wrong for the older to ignore him for a week.
Hell, he was beyond hurt at how could Taeyong just ignore him that long like he didn’t matter. So, to make things work, he decided to stay the night at Taeyong and Sungjae’s shared room. Good thing that Sungjae was planning to stay the night at Joy’s place.
That way, he and Taeyong could finally talk.

Jaehyun couldn’t remember how long he sat on the couch, waiting for the love of his life to walk through that door. Once Taeyong did, Jaehyun looked at the older’s surprised face turned into a frown.
“Why are you here?” were Taeyong’s first words to him, shooting him through his heart and wounding it. The latter didn’t look at him, proceeding to place his bag at the corner.
“You weren’t replying to my texts,” Jaehyun countered, standing up and trapping his lover to a corner. “And you’ve been distant these past few days. Seriously, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing, I’m just busy,” came Taeyong’s dull reply.
“Then why are you avoiding me?”

“I’m not avoiding you.”

“Then look at me, hyung,” Jaehyun insisted, grabbing Taeyong by the arm without too much force.
“Jaehyun, please.” Taeyong looked at Jaehyun with glassy eyes, as if the older was about to cry. “I’m tired. I just got out of work. I have classes tomorrow. Could you cut me some slack and leave me alone? Not everyone is privileged enough to not work in this kind of economy.”
There was a moment of silence after that, and Jaehyun had to turn his head somewhere in order for Taeyong not to see how hurt he was by those words.
Nobody between them dared to move, and all there was to hear were their breathing that seemed to take over the awkward silence looming over them. Sighing, Jaehyun nodded his head voluntarily, his eyes finally moistening.
“I-I just wanted to know if I did something wrong…” Jaehyun whispered, heaving another deep sigh. “B-Because if I did, I’d be willing to beg for your forgiveness for rendering you like this. That is how much I love you...”

“Stop saying nonsense. Just go home.”
“I will… I will give you time, hyung,” Jaehyun muttered as tears finally cascaded down his cheeks.
-“If I ever did something wrong, I’m sorry… I might commit mistakes and make bad decisions along the way, but I just want you to know that the first time I told you I love you, I’m a hundred percent sure of it.”

They both felt dysfunctional after that exchange, and it wasn’t for another week until they finally patched things up. If it weren’t for Sungjae’s interference, the misunderstanding between Jaehyun and Taeyong would’ve probably prolonged.
Jaehyun was walking down the hall of his department when Sungjae appeared, calling for his name amidst the sea of students. “Yoonoh!”

“Hyung,” Jaehyun greeted, giving Sungjae a nod of acknowledgment, “what’s up?”
“I’m not gonna beat around the bush anymore,” Sungjae started. “I know I shouldn’t be meddling with your business, but I managed to get it out from Taeyong what’s really wrong, and he said he saw you on a date with a girl.”
“What?” Jaehyun asked in shock. “What date, it’s not making any sense.”

“That’s what he told me. I’m seriously hoping you’re not fooling my best friend, Yoonoh, because if you are, I’m going to beat you up.”
“Hyung, you can beat me up if that’s the case, but I wasn’t on a date with a girl. Where did that information come from?”

“From Taeyong,” Sungjae replied. “If you are indeed not on a date with a girl, then why is he saying that?”

“I don’t know...”
“Try to remember if you went out with any girl. He said he asked you last week to eat out, but you refused and told him you were going to study for an exam. And then he told me he saw you on a date with a girl. Well, more like a double date, because you were with Yunho-hyung.
He said you looked like you were having so much fun.”

Jaehyun gawked at that, speechless. The whole time, he realized all of these were mere misunderstanding. He couldn’t help but let out an incredulous breath, raking his hand through his soft, light brown hair.
“Yunho-hyung and I were not on a double date...” he trailed off. “It was a family dinner… Those two girls are my sisters who just arrived here from the states...”

“Well, shit.”
With that information, Jaehyun quickly made plans with his friends since they’d been busy lately, including Taeyong although without the latter’s knowledge. Fortunately, Sungjae was there to help him convince Taeyong to go with them. And the silver-haired guy did.
That was why they found themselves in a Korean barbecue place near the university.

“It’s been so long since we’ve gathered like this,” Yunhyeong claimed, taking a piece of pork belly and popping it into his mouth. “How’ve you been Taeyong-hyung?”
“I’ve been fine...” Taeyong trailed off, avoiding everyone’s gaze. Although it was only Yunhyeong, Eunwoo, and Sungjae who had an idea what went down between Jaehyun and Taeyong, everyone could feel the awkward atmosphere. The red flag was the two didn’t sit next to each other.
Sungjae then asked, “What about you, Yoonoh?”

“Not really well. I took an exam two weeks ago and it went okay, but the night before that, I was supposed to study. And I did, actually. But then Yunho-hyung called, telling me there was an emergency.
He had me fetched by one of our drivers and brought me that farm-themed restaurant. I didn’t know that my /sisters/ were there and had arrived the previous day from the US,”
-Jaehyun explained, narrowing his eyes at Tayong who was sitting across from him, obviously taken aback by the things that came out of his mouth. “But apparently, Yunho-hyung and I went out on a double date with two girls. Isn’t that right, Taeyong-hyung?”
If it was already awkward in the beginning, Jaehyun made it even more awkward by mentioning that. What could he do? It was the only way for Taeyong to actually listen to him.
After that, nobody between them dared to speak until it was time to go. Eunwoo left first, telling them that he had an early shift tomorrow at work, while Yunhyeong and Wendy followed suit.
Jaehyun, Taeyong, Sungjae, and Joy exited the establishment altogether, but Sungjae and Joy decided to go ahead, leaving Jaehyun and Taeyong under the starry night of Seoul as the moon shone over them. They walked silently, each step on the pavement louder than they’d ever heard.
A couple minutes passed after they exited the restaurant when Taeyong finally broke the silence. “I’m sorry...”
There was a breeze, and Jaehyun took that as a cue to stop and face his lover whose head cast downward. Without any hint of humor, Jaehyun stared at Taeyong, long and hard, which made the latter more guilty. Taeyong wasn’t looking back, but he could sense the stare.
“Look at me,” Jaehyun finally muttered, but when his boyfriend made no effort to move, he placed the side of his index finger onto the surface of Taeyong’s chin, slowly lifting it up to level the latter’s eyes to him. “I said, look at me.”
Red nose, red cheeks, a pout, and a pair of teary eyes—how could Jung Jaehyun even resist that? In the end, he ended up enveloping Taeyong in a bear hug as the latter cried to his chest, sniffling and hiccuping in a cute manner while chanting /I’m sorry./
They stayed rooted to their tracks just like that, Taeyong crying for concluding without even trying to hear Jaehyun’s side of the story and Jaehyun caressing Taeyong’s back as he showered his head with kisses.
“A-Are you m-mad at me…?” was the first question that came out of Taeyong’s lips when they both pulled back from the embrace.
“No, but I’m upset at the fact that you didn’t even tell me what’s wrong. If you just told me right away, then we wouldn’t have gone two painful weeks without each other,” Jaehyun explained softly, wiping Taeyong’s tears with his thumbs. “Do you even have any idea how hurt I am?”
“I-I know… T-That’s why I’m s-sorry!”

“From now on, if there’s something wrong, you have to consult me first, hm?” Taeyong nodded. “And the same goes for me, hyung. If I feel like there’s something, I’ll come and talk to you.”

“This doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven you, though.”

“But maybe that can change if you kiss me on the lips.” Jaehyun cheekily smiled, showing his pair of dimples that had always rendered Taeyong weak, before capturing the older’s lips in a heated make out session under the moonlight.

Over the years, their relationship gradually became stronger, especially when Taeyong finally had his bachelor’s degree and when they introduced one another to each other’s respective family.
Jaehyun was immediately accepted and loved by Mr. Lee, but it took him several visits to Ttangkkeut before finally getting Hyunjae’s approval. Meanwhile, Taeyong basically had to go through the eye of a needle in order to get the Jung sisters’ approval.
As for Jaehyun’s parents and older brother, they were okay with Taeyong.

It was right after Jaehyun’s sophomore year in university when he bought an apartment and moved in there together with Taeyong much to the latter’s hesitance.
The idea came to his mind before Taeyong’s graduation, because the older needed to move out of the dorm and find an apartment or bed space to rent.

Originally, Taeyong didn’t like the idea. Of course, he wanted to always be with Jaehyun, but there were some things to consider.
First, was he ready to be under the same roof as Jaehyun? Second, wouldn’t it look like he was taking care of the younger’s money? The Jung sisters already disliked him, and he didn’t want to give them any more reason to dislike him more.
In the end, however, Jaehyun managed to convince Taeyong to live together using his charms, his pout and puppy face. Eunwoo then moved in and replaced him as Yunhyeong’s roommate.
For the next couple of years, they lived there as Jaehyun finished his studies, while Taeyong continued pursuing medicine, all thanks to the latter’s medical scholarship. He also didn’t forget the plant Taeyong gave him, so he brought it there.
Once in every two months, they’d either visit Mr. Lee and Hyunjae in Ttangkkeut or Jaehyun’s family in the US. What Jaehyun loved was that every time they visited his family, the Jungs seemed to love Taeyong more and more.
It didn’t take long enough for his sisters to warm up to Taeyong. It even came to a point where Taeyong was the one they’d look for when the two of them were in the US.
By the time Jaehyun graduated, his parents let him settle down in Korea for good as he was supposed to come back to America once he was finished with his studies.
They stayed in the apartment for another two years, just enough time for Taeyong to finish his medical school before they bought a house near the hospital where the latter had his residency training and settled there for good.
Jaehyun managed to find a job three months after getting his bachelor’s degree. Coming from the most prestigious university, add to that his university honors, Jaehyun applied to the company where he had his internship,
a well-known furniture company throughout Korea, and was able to become one of the management trainees as his starting job.

From there, Jaehyun’s job switched to purchasing agent, sales representative, and then back to management trainee within the company.
That happened over the course of Taeyong’s residency training. By the time the latter became a licensed doctor after finishing his training and passing all the exams needed, Jaehyun was promoted as a sales director.
As a compensation for Taeyong’s hard work all those years, Jaehyun convinced the former to take a rest for a couple of months before applying for a job. So, Taeyong did. But the latter got bored at home doing household chores, so he decided to look for a job eventually.
However, Taeyong didn’t envision finding a job after studying for almost a decade difficult. And so, he was at his lowest point in life upon being rejected on several occasions. But Jaehyun was there, and so the latter helped him to build himself up once again.
At one point, Taeyong wanted to go back in Ttangkkeut. After all, the main reason why he pursued to become a family physician was to give back to his community and provide care for people in rural areas that often didn’t have emergency care doctor.
But Jaehyun’s life and job weren’t there. So, it became one of their biggest fights.

“Taeyong, you know our life isn’t there!” Jaehyun yelled in frustration as he come home one night to Taeyong’s proposal for them to settle in Taeyong’s hometown.
-“Our life is here! My job is here! Our friends are here! I’m alright with is together visiting there whenever you want, but please, for the love of Buddha, let’s not take that step...”
“/Your/ life is here, not mine,” Taeyong countered back, fuming in anger but refusing to scream or look at his boyfriend.
-“And for the record, I have always belonged there—my life, my family, my friends are there. It’s easy for you to say that because you have a job here. I bet that if you didn’t have a job, you would’ve packed your things up by now.”
“/My/ life…?” Jaehyun let out a breath, chuckling humorlessly at what he just heard. He felt his stomach tie a knot, disbelieving the words that were coming out of his lover’s mouth.
-“Every decision I made and every step I took all these years throughout our relationship, I’ve always taken into account your opinion and perspective… You wanna know why?”

Taeyong didn’t reply, proceeding to look at the floor as tears built up in his eyes and took the fall.
“Because I love you and you are important to me more than anything in this world. I’ve always pictured our lives as one. That without you, I’m nothing. All these years, I’ve always thought you felt the same thing for me.
I know it sounds kinda selfish to hope for you to feel that without me, you’re nothing. I mean, just who am I? I’m just the brother of someone you were in love with. I was just a second option, after all.”

“I wasn’t in love with him and you’re not a second option...”
“Am I not…?” Jaehyun trailed off as he looked up, hoping that the tears in his eyes would cease from falling freely. “Because I’m genuinely starting to think otherwise…All these years, I thought we belong to each other, that you belong with me.”
“My original plan was to get a pre-med bachelor’s degree, get into med school, finish my residency training, become a doctor, and go back to Ttangkkeut. And then you happened, /we/ happened along the way. Me, getting into a relationship was not planned.
So, everything mushed up when I started to consider what you feel, as well,” Taeyong cried hard as he hiccuped nonstop.

“But you liked my brother...”
“Yes, I did. And maybe, at some point, it began to get serious. But Jaehyun, it’s been more than eight years. You can’t always use that against me,” Taeyong wailed, falling to the floor as his knees finally gave up.
-“Do you know how much it hurts and how shitty I feel every time you pit yourself against your brother? It makes me feel that I’m not doing enough. It makes me feel that maybe, somewhere in your heart, you don’t think I love you as much as you love me…
I fucking love you with all that I am. Me, wanting to go back to Ttangkkeut doesn’t have anything to do with Yunho-hyung. And for the record, just in case you doubt it again, you weren’t my second option because you were the only option I had, nobody else.”
That was the last thing Taeyong ever said to Jaehyun before he departed to Ttangkkeut. Unbeknownst to the latter, the silver-haired guy was able to find a job instantly as a primary care physician at the local health center in his hometown.
The pay wasn’t up to par compared to the expected salary if you work in Seoul, but it was more than enough to provide for his himself and his father. That time, Hyunjae had also been working in Busan.
Meanwhile, Jaehyun was left heartbroken in Seoul, struggling to survive every day without the love of his life by his side.
He barely ate that when Sungjae, Yunhyeong, and Eunwoo checked up on him upon finding out what happened between him and Taeyong, they decided to come over individually based on their working schedule.
He was so dysfunctional that he would spend his time either working in order to busy himself or sleep so he didn’t have to think of Taeyong at all.
Falling asleep on their bed at night, however, was the hardest thing, considering the space beside him and the smell of the entire bedroom reminded him of Taeyong. He couldn’t remember how many nights he spent crying, listening to all the songs they used to sing.
“Taeyong can be pretty stubborn sometimes,” Sungjae said one night as they were eating dinner. Jaehyun just remained devoid of any expression.
-“How can I say this? Taeyong has always had a little bit of hero in him. He’s always had a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in him, you know? I mean, who could blame him? His mom died when he was just a little kid due to the lack of medical professionals in our village.
Even when we, the richest family in our village, wanted to help his family, we couldn’t do anything. So that’s why, as I’m pretty sure you know by now, he can be a little impulsive. But that’s just one of the many qualities to love about him...”
“Do you think he’ll come back to me…?” Jaehyun trailed off, his eyes boring to Sungjae with vulnerability and fragility.
“A hundred and one percent sure,” Sungjae said, reassuring him with a smile. “His life was initially there, but he also built a life of his own here, with you. I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time before he comes back. After all, you are his home.”
And truth to what Sungjae said, Taeyong showed up to their doorstep exactly a month after the latter left. He had his head down, luggage on either side of him. Jaehyun had always considered him skinny, but the weight he’d lost after a month left him skin and bones.
On the other hand, Jaehyun wasn’t doing any better either. He lost a lot of weight, too, and they both had that tired look in their eyes, resembling each other’s.
They just stood there in front of each other, not moving. Neither of them knew what to do or say. But after a while, Taeyong was the first one to break the silence with, “C-Can I come in…?”
Jaehyun nodded wordlessly, stepping aside to give way to his boyfriend before shutting the door. In his peripheral vision, he saw Taeyong take a seat in the living room, fidgeting with his fingers guiltily.
Jaehyun inhaled deeply, not knowing if he was ready to finally have this conversation. Despite the obvious agitation, he followed suit, sitting on the same couch but keeping a safe distance.
“How have you been…?” was the first question Jaehyun asked. His voice was restrained but his words weren’t.

“I got a job in the local health center as a primary care physician…” Taeyong responded, his voice small. “The pay wasn’t much compared here, but it was alright…”
“That’s good.” Another deep breath intake from Jaehyun. “At least I’m relieved that you’re doing fine, even if you don’t need me anymore...”
As soon as he said that, there was a grasp on his arm. Taeyong had scooted closer, grasping on his arm tightly like the latter’s life depended on him with tears in his eyes. “J-Jaehyun! I’m so sorry...”
Slowly, Jaehyun turned to look at Taeyong who was sobbing his eyes out. He’d seen him cry so many times, and the sight still never failed to melt his heart. Sometimes, he hates how unfair that Taeyong could just make him feel things.
“I-I miss you so bad. I’m so sorry for leaving you just like that,” Taeyong sobbed. “I’m so selfish. I didn’t even think of what you’d feel. You are right, /our/ life is here. My home is here.
I got ahead of myself, thinking that I can save lives, but the truth is I only damaged mine and yours, /ours./ I love you so much. I’m sorry for everything I did.”

“You’re forgiven,” Jaehyun muttered with a stoic face.

“I said you’re forgiven,” Jaehyun rose from his seat. “Just unpack all your things in our bedroom.”

With a heavy heart, Jaehyun left the house and went to Joy and Sungjae’s house in order to unwind.
Yes, he wanted to kiss Taeyong so bad right there, right then, He wanted to take him in his arms and shower him with love. He wanted to wipe his tears and tell him that everything’s alright. However, Jaehyun was hurt, and he needed time to recover.
Of course, a single month was not enough for his feelings to completely go away. If anything, Taeyong’s absence only made Jaehyun’s love for the former to deepen, but he wanted to establish that what Taeyong did hurt him and that the latter shouldn’t do it again.
It was around nine in the evening when Jaehyun came back to their house. He saw Taeyong wearing a pair of pajamas, waiting for him to come home. The silver-haired man immediately stood up upon seeing him.
“Y-You’re home… Have you eaten…?” Taeyong asked in concern. “I-I made dinner for us…”

“No, thanks,” Jaehyun replied. “I already ate dinner with Joy and Sungjae-hyung.”

“...Is that so…?”

“Yeah, I’m going to bed,” Jaehyun uttered in finality. “Good night.”
It took everything in Jaehyun to do that. He didn’t even look back just to avoid giving in just yet. He wanted to prove a point, so he entered the bedroom, showered, changed clothes, before diving to bed.
When he heard the creak of the door, he pretended to be asleep on his side, facing the other way. Not a few seconds later, he felt the bed dip, signalling that Taeyong had finally taken the spot next to him.
“Jaehyun…?” Taeyong called, but he didn’t budge. There was another call, and then another, but he remained unresponsive. He then heard a sigh. “You’ve given everything to me… You sacrificed a comfortable life in the states just to be with me, but what did I give you back…?”
Jaehyun could hear sniffling.
“You know, the day I arrived in Ttangkkeut, Papa asked for you…but I couldn’t answer him. If I did, I probably would’ve broken down in front of him… I knew I wasn’t going to last long, but my pride was at stake. In my first week, I was barely hanging on…
Papa noticed it and told me to where my heart belongs… I didn’t. I insisted on staying longer. Another three weeks until I could no longer take it…” Taeyong laughed through the pain that was evident in his voice. “Do you remember before we started dating…?
I always saw you as a kid. In reality, I’m always the one causing trouble. I’m always the one causing problems. I’m the older one, yet I’m always the one being childish. I even left for a month. I mean, who does that? And yet, you still accepted me…
Don’t worry, though, I do get where the cold treatment is coming from. I deserved it… But while you’re out today, I tried thinking things through. I wish I could tell you this when you’re awake, but I can’t…
We shared a lot of memories, and for that, I’m very thankful. I’m going to keep it forever. You made me feel like I’m capable of being loved.”
By that time, Jaehyun already had his eyes open. Still, he didn’t face Taeyong. He was about to say something when he heard something unexpected that halted his movement.
“But you deserve better…” Another small, painful laugh from Taeyong resounded. “You deserve someone better who wouldn’t leave you just because he feels so low for not getting a job here in this big city… You deserve someone who wouldn’t leave you for the welfare of others…
You deserve someone who wouldn’t ever make you feel like you’re not loved enough… In all honesty, I didn’t know you still feel like your brother is a competition. I’m sorry for not noticing… And I’m sorry for making you feel like you were a second option…
But I assure you, you weren’t… You were my only option… I wish I could mend all these, but maybe breaking up is the only way...”
Upon hearing that, Jaehyun flipped his body to the other side, facing Taeyong as an immediate response. When he saw the tear-stained cheeks of the older, he hastily pulled Taeyong’s face on his chest as he, too, cried while burying his face on his lover’s silver hair.
“Let’s stop all this bullshit,” Jaehyun cried, showering Taeyong’s head with kisses. “I-I’m just being hard headed. How could you say you don’t deserve me and that I should find someone better? How can I even find someone better when I already have the best?
It’s not entirely your fault. I should’ve noticed that you were getting frustrated for feeling unaccomplished because not being able to find a job. Honestly, I probably would have felt the same. You studied for more than a decade.
Your frustration is valid, but I just wished you would have been more open and transparent to me, hyung. Don’t bottle everything inside. I’m here for a reason. I’m not just here to be with you in your best times, I’m also here in your worst moments.
Plus, your heroic side is one of the things I admire about you. You, wanting to give back to your community is an honorable act. I’m sorry for not being sensitive enough. I’m sorry for always bringing Yunho-hyung up. I didn’t know you felt that way.
More than anything else, I’m sorry for making you feel like your love isn’t enough. Trust me, it’s more than enough and more than I could ever ask for. So, please, don’t even say or mention that breaking up part again.”
“Y-You’re not mad…?” Taeyong asked when he pulled his head back to look at Jaehyun dead in the eyes.
“I will admit, I’m a little upset,” Jaehyun answered, capturing Taeyong’s soft lips, nibbling on it before continuing, “but that feeling is not worth it. Our love is worth more than any kind of negative emotion. Sorry for ignoring you the whole day, let’s be better, hm?”
“O-Okay.” Taeyong sniffled again as Jaehyun wiped the former’s tears. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Jaehyun smiled. This time, he smiled like the weight was finally off his chest. “You’re such a baby sometimes. Come to think of it, we never had any pet names.”
“Hmph!” Taeyong pouted. “I’m older than you, so don’t call me baby.”

“It came from your own mouth that you act childish,” Jaehyun asked playfully to ease the previous tension. “What about honey?”

“I’m kidding.” Jaehyun let out a sigh of relief, showering yet again Taeyong with kisses. This time, on cheeks. “I’m going to take a week off from work, alright? I’ll help you apply and find a job.”

“You don’t have to do that.”
“But I want to. And I want you to know that we’re in this together. I’ll always be by your side no matter what, but you have to be honest with me. You have to trust me. I trust you, so I want you to do the same, alright?” Jaehyun asked.

Taeyong only nodded.
As the night deepened, their bedroom was filled with passionate moans and relentless love making as they were taken to another world with no cries of pain but only cries of pleasure.
NOTE: 1 more update 'til the present time!!! How was the update?

Even with his own help, Jaehyun saw how his lover struggled and stressed over finding a job.
It wasn’t until another week before Taeyong finally landed as a family doctor five minutes away from Jaehyun’s own workplace, which made it easier for the two of them to grab lunch together or go on a date after their respective shifts.
Jaehyun would usually wake up a little later than Taeyong, while the latter cook their breakfast. They’d eat together, sometimes even shower together, every morning and do their individual routine. Jaehyun would wear his suit, and Taeyong would tie his necktie for him.
As for the household chores, they’d hire a cleaner once a week for chores that would normally took too much time, while they do the basic ones.

Their biggest fight up to date that time left a lasting impact in their relationship.
If Jaehyun was a bit insensitive and a bit too outspoken, he became a bit more tactful, understanding, and delicate toward his lover’s feelings and disposition, especially when it came to mentioning his own brother.
Same goes with Taeyong. The latter, after their fight, learned to lower his pride and take into consideration Jaehyun’s perspective and opinions whatever the matter is.
And both of them couldn’t believe that there was going to a point in their relationship that the bond they shared would even be stronger, even after eight long years.
One of the biggest trials Jaehyun has ever faced in his life came when one Sunday morning, his brother showed up to his and Taeyong’s home, looking distraught and shattered for some unknown reason.
He and Taeyong were having breakfast in the kitchen in their pajamas, enjoying a lazy day and each other’s company. At the end of the day, they rarely got to spend time together without having to rush since they both started working.
Jaehyun was the one who opened the door, startled at the unannounced visit. Initially, it annoyed him, because Yunho being there meant he had to sacrifice his and Taeyong’s alone time.
When he noticed his older brother’s expression, however, his immediate reaction was a tild of his head and a furrowed eyebrows.

“Hyung?” He had called. “What’s the matter? Why did you come without giving me a heads up?”
Yunho just stood there, not moving, as his bore into the ground. It was starting to give Jaehyun a nauseous feeling, and for some reason, he was frightened of what Yunho was about to verbalize.
He let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding when Yunho finally looked up and stared at him. Now, to make things straight, Yunho was never a crybaby.
The only times he’s probably seen Yunho cry in his entire life was when the latter broke with his ex-girlfriend and when their grandparents passed away. So, seeing Yunho like that left a distaste in the pit of Jaehyun’s stomach.
“Yoonoh...” Yunho muttered, his voice barely above a whisper. “Mom… She’s...”
“She’s what, hyung?” Jaehyun remembered saying. Yunho seemed to struggle finding his words in hopes of lessening the impact it would cause to his younger brother, but regardless of how the older worded it out, Yunho watched Jaehyun’s world crash right before his eyes.
“Can I come in first?”

“Sure...” Jaehyun trailed off, stepping aside to give way to his brother.
“Honey, who is it?” Taeyong asked as he emerged from the kitchen, only to see the elder Jung making his way to their living room, which surprised him because he didn’t receive any notice that Yunho would be visiting.
He threw a questioning look to his boyfriend, to which Jaehyun responded with a shrug. “Yunho-hyung.”

Yunho sat down on the sofa, rubbing both of his hands in agitation, giving Taeyong a forced smile.

“What do you want,” Taeyong asked, “juice, coffee, tea, or just water?”
“Tea would be great, thank you.”

When Taeyong left to the kitchen to make tea, Jaehyun sat down on the opposite chair where Yunho sat, trying to calm his nerves down. “Hyung, seriously, you’re making me nervous. Is there something I need to know?”
“I-I received news just earlier from Jessica, around five in the morning,” Yunho started anxiously, feeling both of his hands sweat. “We didn’t tell you this earlier, because we knew you’d be worried sick, but there was a tumor found in mom’s ovary a couple of months ago...”

“The doctor initially said that it wasn’t too serious. So, we didn’t think it was necessary to tell you. We didn’t wanna worry you...” Yunho explained, avoiding Jaehyun’s gaze.
“Then, why are you telling me now…?” Jaehyun asked, scrutinizing every little movement of his older brother. Just in time, Taeyong arrived with a cup of tea for Yunho and two cups of coffee for himself and Jaehyun.
Beside him, Taeyong plopped down, clinging to his arm, giving him a reassuring squeeze.
“At around four, forty-five today, I received a call from your Jessica-noona.” Yunho heaved a deep sigh. “Mom had an operation three days ago. It was successful, and we all thought she was going to be fine...but she wasn’t.
Two days later, they had to connect her to a tube because her health started to deteriorate. And then this morning, she was declared...dead...”

As those words escaped Yunho’s lips, Jaehyun felt his world collapsing right before his eyes.
His eyes stung as the tears in his eyes flowed down almost instantly. It didn’t take a few seconds before he shook his head violently, not believing what his brother just said. Beside him, Taeyong couldn’t believe as well.
The latter tried to calm him down, but he couldn’t have the heart to do so, considering that his mother had been sick all this time without him knowing. He could’ve been by her side until her last breath, but they took that away from him.
“If this is some kind of a sick, twisted joke,” Jaehyun aggressively said through tears, pain, and hiccups, “it’s not fucking funny!”

Hysteria overtook Jaehyun, his sobs echoing through the walls.
Beside him, Taeyong tried to calm him down, but to the latter’s dismay, it didn’t do any help. Jaehyun wept like hadn’t done before, to the point where he was gasping for breath because of crying too much. His eyes were bloodshot and his face was puffy.
Taeyong couldn’t do anything but to hug his lover and cry with him, causing Jaehyun to finally get a hold of himself.

Yunho stayed with them that day to keep an eye on Jaehyun, afraid that the younger Jung might do something stupid.
Taeyong, on the other hand, booked the earliest flight to Connecticut the next day and called Jaehyun’s company for an emergency leave, while he called the hospital he worked at and did the same thing.
The journey to the states, for Jaehyun, felt like the longest journey he’d ever traveled. What he wanted was just to be by his family’s side. He wanted to see the one who raised him, spoiled him, and loved him for the last time.
It hadn’t even registered to him yet that his mom had passed away. Everything felt surreal.

Beside him, Taeyong stirred in his sleep, leaning in Jaehyun’s personal space and resting his head on the latter’s broad shoulder.
For a moment, all the worries went away, and all Jaehyun could see was Taeyong. Words would never be able to express how thankful he was by having Taeyong by his side. One look, and he was assured that everything would be fine.
Maybe not now, but eventually, it will. So as long as they were together, everything will fall into their rightful places.

Upon climbing down the cab in front of the venue of Mrs. Jung’s funeral wake, it felt as if something was holding Jaehyun back.
He couldn’t move at all, his heart hammering through his chest as if it were about to popped off. If it weren’t for the love of his life, Lee Taeyong, giving him a reassuring squeeze and smile, he probably would’ve backed out.
The moment he entered the vicinity, his family abruptly rose to their seats, wanting to comfort him. However, Jaehyun kept his eyes on the casket as he moved closer, gulping as the distance between him and the casket lessened.
His tears immediately came back as soon as his eyes gaze landed on the woman who had nurtured him with nothing but love and affection. It only took a matter of several seconds before he completely broke down again for the umpteenth time.
“Y-Yoonoh...” Jessica Jung tried to touch and comfort him, to which he responded by flinching and retreating his arm.
“Don’t fucking touch me!” Jaehyun yelled, gaining everyone’s attention in the wake. He was fuming, eyes absolutely loathful as he threw daggers at his older sister and everyone who decided to keep things from him.
-“Why did I not know about any of this?! Why did all of you hide it from me, huh?!”

“Yoonoh, calm down first,” Krystal intervened, rising from her seat. Beside her, Mr. Jung just looked down, unable to take in what was happening.
“Calm down?!” Jaehyun screamed at the top of his lungs as Taeyong rubbed his back in concern. “You want me to calm the fuck down when I didn’t even get the chance to be by Mom’s side on her last breath because of all of you?!”

“Because we knew you would take it to heart!”
“As I should! She’s my mom for God’s sake!” Jaehyun exclaimed, the veins on his neck popping off. “What I see right now isn’t family. You're a bunch of self-righteous individuals who think they're better than everyone else. You took away the chance from me to be with Mom...”
That encounter left a disdain in Jaehyun’s heart, resulting in him completely shutting his entire family from his life. It didn’t help when a month after his mother’s death, his father followed suit. To say that the whole ordeal broke him was an understatement.
It destroyed him, annihilating all the inkling happiness that he had in him. He couldn’t go to work with peace of mind. The sudden death of both of his parents rendered him guilty, that maybe he should’ve stayed with them in the states after graduating university.
Every time he looked at Taeyong, however, he couldn’t help but feel guilty as well for thinking that way. It wasn’t fair to Taeyong. Besides, the two of them never forgot to visit his family anyway. So, with that in mind, Jaehyun tried to get back on track even if it was hard.
And through it all, Taeyong helped him.

Gradually, Jaehyun learned to accept the fact that his parents were indeed gone. Wherever they are, he was sure they were happy and are happy. At the same time, it triggered something in him.
He realized that amidst everything, his parents grew together and died together. They might’ve been gone too early, but they weren’t miserable in their remaining days because they had each other.
One morning at around 3:45 in the morning, Jaehyun awoke with sweat running down his forehead and temples, caused by a nightmare in which he was left by Taeyong.
The images felt vivid and realistic, almost as if it was an alternative reality. And when he turned to look at his lover, Taeyong was nowhere in sight. Jaehyun felt his heart drop.
Jaehyun hurriedly hopped out of bed, wore his slippers, and bolted right out of his and Taeyong’s bedroom like a thunderbolt. What he wasn’t expecting to be in sight, however, was a very exhausted Taeyong ironing his work clothes, which softened his gaze and melted his heart.
With bags under his eyes, a slightly tousled silver hair, and a pair of pajamas, Taeyong looked like he just woke up. Nonetheless, he still looked ethereal, still looked as otherworldly as the first time Jaehyun ever laid his eyes on him.
Time seemed to have no match with Taeyong, considering how the latter hadn’t aged at all. No signs of wrinkles, no signs of creases on his skin.
Taeyong still had the same vibrant smile that could light up Jaehyun’s entire world, still had that attention-grabbing silver hair that Jaehyun loved so much.
And aside from the unparalleled beauty of Lee Taeyong, the person Jaehyun was lucky to call his, the qualities that made Jaehyun fall even deeper never faltered, even throughout the years.
Taeyong was still that country boy with the heart of a hero who dreamed of saving the world. This time though, the dream was no longer just a dream.

Lee Taeyong /is/ timeless, absolutely untroubled by the passage of time. He’s eternal, everlasting.
Jaehyun realized that Lee Taeyong is unending, undying to everyone’s memory.
He would cease to disappear from the lives of people he’s touched not only because of his distinct and rare beauty, but also because of the good deeds he’d done up to that point in his life and all the selfless things he’d do in the future.
And then what Yunhyeong said to him back in their college days resounded inside Jaehyun’s mind. /“Sometimes, realization hits us in the most random times.”/
It was so random. Right there in the living room at three in the morning, it dawned on Jaehyun that Lee Taeyong was the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
“Honey?” Taeyong called, snapping Jaehyun from his own little reverie. “You’re up too early. Are you thirsty or hungry?”

“Kinda thirsty, yeah.”

“Should I get you a glass of water?”
“No, I’ll do it myself,” Jaehyun answered, proceeding to go to the kitchen, pouring himself a glass of water before drinking it with a couple of chugs. He then came back to the living room. “Is it because of my suit that you’re up this early?”
“Yeah, but don’t worry about it. I kinda forgot to do it last night because I stayed overtime.”
“Then, you should rest.” Jaehyun walked to where Taeyong was, trying to get a hold of the iron. The latter, however, stopped him before he could even snatch it. “Come on, it’s my clothes. Let me do it.”
“Nope. Go, continue your sleep,” Taeyong urged, shooing his lover away in a playful manner. “I’m about to finish anyway.”
“No.” Jaehyun pouted, sitting on the couch and taking one of the pillows, crushing it in his arms as he propped his chin on it. “I don’t wanna go alone. I want to go with my honey.”
Taeyong laughed heartily at the cute antics of his boyfriend. “What’s up with you this early in the morning?”

“Why are you like that?” Jaehyun whined like a little kid, glaring at his lover. “Can’t I show some affection to my honey?”
“You’re still such a kid.”

“A kid who will make you scream in bed after you’re done ironing.”

“Jung Yoonoh!” Taeyong glared at Jaehyun, beet red at the thought of having morning sex.
“Just kidding,” Jaehyun cheekily uttered, sensually licking his lips without breaking his eye contact with Taeyong, “...unless…?”

But all Jaehyun received was a slap on the arm.

“So, you’re really ready to settle down, huh?”

It was on a sparkling Sunday afternoon. Jaehyun was sitting inside a high-end restaurant, his table surrounded by his friends whom he’d set up a meet-up with the previous week.
Normally, he’d spend Sundays with Taeyong, but since he was planning something huge and in need of help, he decided to sacrifice that day. His excuse was he was to meet up with a regional sales director regarding about a work-related stuff, which Taeyong seemed to buy.
“I am.” Jaehyun couldn’t help but sport that dimpled smile as he intertwined his fingers on his lap, taking a deep breath. “I really, really need your help, guys. I’ve been wanting to do this… Hell, I’ve never been so sure in my entire life until I met Taeyong.”
As weird as it sounds, Jaehyun never really thought of getting married just yet all these years. Proposing to Taeyong had always been at the back of his mind, but he never really paid too much attention to it since they were both too busy with their respective careers.
When Jaehyun chose to take a different path, he felt the need to prove something to his family, hence the focus on his career. With Taeyong’s case, the latter was too busy with studies and residency training.
Add to that Taeyong’s existential crisis when the silver-haired guy wasn’t able to find a job right away after officially becoming a doctor.
Even when Sungjae and Joy got married, Yunhyeong and Wendy broke up, and Eunwoo started dating a couple of years back, Jaehyun didn’t feel the need to level up what he and Taeyong had, considering they were both contented.
Besides, they had all the time in the world. His parents’ sudden death, however, triggered all the desire, want, and need in his body to finally man up and take, what would be, one of his life-changing decisions ever.
Sometimes, he’d wish it dawned on him sooner than later, so his parents could witness him marrying the love of his life.

“Finally,” Sungjae shrieked, slapping the round table quite hard, “I’ve actually been waiting for you to actually make the move.”
“Easy there.” Eunwoo let out a small laugh, his eyes forming a pair of crescent moon.

“Are you a hundred percent about this, Yoonoh?” Yunhyeong asked skeptically, drinking a glass of water.
-“You know, marriage life is a lot harder than it looks. I know we almost never take each other seriously, but as your best friend, I’m just concerned about you. Marriage life is a lot harder than it looks. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Love alone can’t keep a marriage.”
“Where did you learn that?” Joy chuckled to herself, blocking the view of her mouth. “You talk as if you’re a divorced man.”

“Rather than divorced man,” Eunwoo intervened, “Yunhyeong is more like a widowed man with hopes of marrying Wendy as his ex-wife.”
“I don’t get it.”

“Babe, he actually planned on proposing to Wendy before they broke up,” Sungjae explained.


“Hey!” Yunghyeong exclaimed. “Why did the conversation suddenly shifted about me?”
“Going back to the original topic, Yoonoh, what kind of proposal are you planning?” Sungjae perused Jaehyun. “We have to plan everything out carefully since all of us work full time. Are you planning it to be fancy or…?”
“Just a simple one, really.” Jaehyun smiled to himself just by imagining how Taeyong would probably react. “The reason why I called you guys is because I just want to announce it personally. I want all of you to be there because it would make Taeyong happy.
After all, you guys were the witnesses of our love story. I’m planning on doing it for our tenth anniversary.”

“Man, you sound so fucking cheesy.” Yunhyeong made a disgusted face.
Jaehyun turned to him. “And maybe you can contact Wendy and tell her about this. You can use this whole thing to, you know, get her back.”

At that, Yunhyeong no longer replied.

“So, what I’m thinking is...”
Following his two hour brainstorming with his friends, Jaehyun decided to settle with something simple yet heart-warming. After all, Taeyong wasn’t the luxurious or extravagant type.
He knew Taeyong would appreciate all his effort without, even without the notion of him spending too much money. Still, Jaehyun set aside a large sum of money just in case.
A week later, he told Taeyong that he needed to go to Busan to visit an office branch of the company he worked for business purposes. Unbeknownst to his lover, he filed a leave of absence.
The real plan was to visit Hyunjae and ask for his blessing to marry the latter’s brother, which Jaehyun eventually got after a couple of teasing from the younger about being a competition to his brother’s attention.

Jaehyun’s next and final stop was Ttangkkeut.
Mr. Lee was surprised with the sudden visit, even more so upon realizing that Jaehyun was alone. Immediately after arriving at the Lees, Jaehyun sat nervously in front of his, hopefully, future father-in-law who was quietly serving him with the traditional red tea.
“How are you, my son.?” Mr. Lee asked with a smile, sipping on his cup.

“I’ve been doing great, Pa.” Jaehyun smiled back in response, the familiarity rolling in his tongue like it had always been ever since he started using it—cozy, homey even.
Mr. Lee had insisted on being calling Papa by him when he and Taeyong visited more than seven years ago. Initially, Mr. Lee didn’t really think of Jaehyun as his son’s potential boyfriend. Mr. Lee thought of him as Taeyong’s good friend, just like Sungjae.
But when the elder Lee noticed the highest form of happiness between them with mere exchange of smiles, laughter, and gazes, Mr. Lee knew something was definitely up.
-“Taeyong’s been doing great, as well, although he’s become a bit of a nagger because of me being too much of a spender for his own sake.”
“He really acts like his mom, sometimes.” Mr. Lee laughed, which Jaehyun mimicked in turn. “I remember in the initial stage of our marriage, I would buy my wife dresses and beauty stuff, but instead of being ecstatic about it, she always scolds me about not being a wise spender.”
“I’m pretty sure Mrs. Lee is just like Taeyong.” Jaehyun drank from his cup, gulping. He sighed heavily but without much sound in order to not seem like he was nervous. Mr. Lee was too busy smiling to himself, recounting memories of his wife. Jaehyun cleared his throat.
-“By the way, Pa, I’m here because I have important news to tell you.”

Mr. Lee’s smile slowly disappeared, alarmed by Jaehyun’s sudden serious tone. “What is it…?”
“I’m here because...” Jaehyun closed his eyes, inhaling deeply, before he bowed his head all the way down until his face was only a couple of inches away from the small table. “I’m here to ask for your blessing. I want to marry your son.”
There was an absolute silence after those words were uttered by Jaehyun. And because of that, he dreaded to raise his head and see Mr. Lee’s reaction. The possible rejection and intervention of the elder Lee would be too much for him, and he didn’t want that.
He knew, however, that he needed to find out whatever Mr. Lee’s decision would be, so he raised his head to peek. What he didn’t expect though was to see a teary-eyed Mr. Lee trying to stop himself from bawling his eyes out.
Hastily, he scooted to where Mr. Lee was and began rubbing his back.

“P-Pa, sorry if I sh-shock you.” Jaehyun guiltily looked down, biting his bottom lip. “I just… I just think it’s the right time. I-I really want to get your blessing and approval before I do anything.”
Before Jaehyun knew it, he was swiftly tackled into a bear hug by the sobbing man. “A-Are you stupid? Of course, y-you have my blessings and approval.”

“I trust you so much. I knew, at some point, I’d have to let go of one of my baby. I know you’ve been together for almost a decade now but still, the thought of Taeyong finally settling down, even though you’ve basically been living together for years, makes me feel so emotional.
Thank you for always looking out for my son and loving him unconditionally. He’s so lucky to have you.”

“No, Pa, I’m the one who’s lucky to have him,” Jaehyun reassured Mr. Lee, smiling dreamily to himself.
-“If it weren’t for him, I would’ve been stuck in something I had no way to get out of. Buddha knows how thankful I am of Taeyong for loving me and always taking care of me. This time around, I want to be the one to take care of him.
I want our commitment to each other to finally be permanent. But most of all, I want to spend the rest of my life with Taeyong, for better or for worse.”
Shortly after Mr. Lee had calmed down, Jaehyun discussed to the elder Lee his whole plan, getting into the details of how he’d execute it. Mr. Lee just nodded while smiling all the while he explained the dynamics.
They ended their day with laughter as Mr. Lee recounted all the embarrassing and close-to-heart memories of Taeyong when the latter was growing up.
When night time came, he decided to sleep inside Taeyong’s old bedroom, his eyes wandering every corner of it as he smiled to himself. Even though Taeyong wasn’t by his side, Jaehyun felt his lover’s presence because of the room’s smell and its familiarity.
Jaehyun bid his goodbye to Mr. Lee and flew back to Seoul the next day. Taeyong fetched him from the airport, enveloping him in a longing hug and a long, yearning kiss as soon as they saw each other.
“I’ve missed you.” Taeyong pouted, his arms not letting go of Jaehyun’s waist as he slightly looked up at him.
“I was literally gone for a few days.” Jaehyun laughed, booping Taeyong’s nose playfully and wrapping his arm around the latter’s shoulder, while his other hand grasp the handle of his luggage.
“What, am I not allowed to miss my honey?” Taeyong glared cutely at Jaehyun, removing the latter’s arm around him and turning around before crossing his arms on his chest. “You stupid. Ugh, I shouldn’t have come here...”
“Hey, hey.” Jaehyun let out a small laugh yet again, pulling his lover into his arms, caging him in.
As Taeyong struggled to break free, Jaehyun only tightened his hold, placing his face on the crook of the older’s neck before giving it slight, subtle kisses amidst the sea of crowd inside the airport.
-“I’ve missed you, too. I’ve only been gone for a few days, and I already felt like going crazy.”

With reddened cheeks, Taeyong tapped Jaehyun on the arm, a bit sheepish at the blatant public display of affection. “H-Hey, stop. People are looking...”
“I thought you’ve missed me?” Jaehyun muffled voice tickled Taeyong, causing the latter to flinch a little bit. “Let them.”

Weeks before his and Taeyong’s tenth anniversary and his proposal, Jaehyun contacted Yunho who was on vacation in Korea at the time.
In spite of harboring ill-feelings to his elder brother, Jaehyun set it aside and asked Yunho if he could contact the current president of their organization back in university.
When asked why, he told Yunho his plan on proposing to Taeyong, to which his brother responded with a dumbfounded expression. Nonetheless, Yunho agreed and promised to do his best to compensate for his shortcomings.
Jaehyun quickly came in contact with the current president of the organization, all thanks to his brother.
Coincidentally, the organization was planning on doing social work a couple of days before his and Taeyong’s anniversary but the place where they’d do it was still tentative.
To perfectly execute his plan, Jaehyun told the president everything, from his and Taeyong’s experience in the organization to what he had in store for his proposal.
At the end of their conversation, Jaehyun managed to convince the president to do the social work on a specific date of his and Taeyong anniversary and in the very first place they did social work, at a Hundred and Four Moon Village.
In that event, he was to be joined by their friends, namely Yunhyeong, Eunwoo, Sungjae, Wendy, and Joy. Yunho, who was the bridge of how he and Taeyong met, was to be there, as well. And of course, Hyunjae and Mr. Lee were to fly to Seoul to witness his proposal.
Days before their anniversary, the two had filed a leave of absence yet again in order to enjoy their day. It came as a surprise to Taeyong.
Jaehyun basically dragged him to their alma mater, completely taken aback when he spotted their friends there, acting like it was the most normal thing in the world.
But Taeyong almost lost it when he saw his father and his brother, waving at him, dressed in their designated uniform that day.

Jaehyun received a warm hug and a kiss on the lips because of that, to which the students cooed and squealed.
Taeyong looked so happy, and the latter thought that was the end of the surprise, but Jaehyun was just warming up.

Upon arriving at the venue, they set up tents and did the things they used to do back when they were still part of the organization.
They counsel the kids and their parents, gave spiritual advice, and offered them food and clothing. It was refreshing to see the kids and their parents smile. The good thing was, they were also able to see the kids who participated in their social work over ten years ago.
Some of them were in middle school and a lot of them were in high school. Of course, Jaehyun contacted those kids with the help of Yunho and the current organization president, since they keep archives of their programs.
Considering they arrived at the area three in the afternoon, the sun was already setting by the time they were finished. The kids, though, stayed there for group pictures.
The sky was like that of dandelion’s color in the horizon, dispersed across the sky over the white, pristine clouds, giving them a sense of contentment and accomplishment for the day.
But for Jaehyun, he still wasn’t feeling accomplished because he hadn’t done what he went there for just yet.
After the sun had completely set, everyone having the difficulty to see through the lack of light, one of the kids played with Taeyong, blindfolding him as everyone started doing their part. Sungjae distracted him, telling him that he had to stay put for ten minutes.
For everyone, it was such a short amount of time, but given that they were prepped what to do for that proposal, they managed to do just fine but with a little bit more effort. For Taeyong, however, it was weird, taking into account that ten minutes was such a long time.
Besides, what kind of game does take that long?

All of them changed into a lilac shirt.
Some of the members started taking out the balloons they initially hid, scattering them all over the ground, while Yunhyeong and Joy positioned the rechargeable translucent bulbs surrounding Taeyong in a heart shape.
Eunwoo, his boyfriend, Moonbin, and some of the members hung fairy lights on trees, both in a horizontal and vertical position, depending on the convenience.
Hyunjae took the speakers, inserting a connector to Wendy’s guitar, while Wendy went to the kids, guiding them what they ought to do. She passed the candles she had in her pocket and the aster flowers in her paper bag before lighting the kids’ candles with matchsticks.
On the other hand, Yunho talked to the parents in a hushed tone, passing them flower crowns to wear one by one. Jaehyun just stood in his spot, his nerves kicking in, heart pounding as if it was about to collapse.
But when he felt a comforting hand on his shoulder and a smile from Mr. Lee, he knew he was going to be alright.

Jaehyun finally gave everyone the go signal. Sungjae nodded, dramatically removing the blindfold.
Suddenly, the fairy lights that Taeyong didn’t even notice lit up, startling him.

Meanwhile, the kids, who was facing Taeyong’s back, started singing the chorus of The Starlight is Falling by Bye Bye Sea in perfect harmonization to the sound of Wendy’s strumming.
They were holding aster flowers on one hand while holding a lilac candle on the other. For a solid several seconds, Taeyong was beyond confused. And then the people parted, giving way to Jaehyun.

The first thing he noticed from Taeyong’s confused reaction was how cute.
“The first time I met you, I thought, Lee Taeyong is so beautiful that if Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman of Greece and the cause of the Trojan War, and Aphrodite, the Goddess of beauty, were real and lived in the same lifetime as him, you would put both of them to shame.
You are, however, so much more than that. You are hardworking, selfless, and loveable. You worked hard to get where you are now without needing anyone’s help.
You participate in social works, charity works, and outreach programs, especially if it involves kids because you believe in them, you believe in the power that the youth holds. At first I never fully understood it but then it all made sense as I got close to you.
The reason why I joined this organization back then was because I wanted to be around you. Okay, please don’t get mad at me, guys. But for real, I started realizing how fulfilling it is to help along the way.
For that, I’m thankful for you, Lee Taeyong. Do you remember when you wanted to go back to Ttangkkeut to give back to your community?
I was so devastated that time I couldn’t even eat. And then Sungjae told me, you had a little bit of hero in you, a little bit of /I want to save the world./ And that, that’s where the selflessness comes from, which makes you loveable. Add to that your heavenly smile.
I can’t believe I get to witness it every single day.”

“Yoonoh...” At this point, Taeyong was already ugly crying, each word Jaehyun verbalized piercing through him, leaving him breathless and weak.
“I had a wall around me, and you managed to break that. At the time, I only had Yunho-hyung, Yunhyeong, and Eunwoo. I don’t even talk that much to hyung because he had a life of his own. Eunwoo is a little too studious and boring—”

“—And Yunhyeong is… I don’t even have words for him—”

“—You punk!—”
“—Anyway, you introduced me to your wonderful friends, to Sungjae-hyung, Wendy-noona, and Joy. You even made the effort of having me talk to the other members of the organization at the time.
And then you introduced me to the most important people in your life, to Hyunjae, my archenemy when it comes to your attention, and lastly to Papa, whom I have always considered as my second father. You have no idea how thankful I am.
Now, as I’ve said earlier, I only had a few things in my life that I was ever sure of. And now, something made it to the list… And that is marrying you.”
Taking a step back, Taeyong’s lips parted in shock. He was a sobbing mess in front of everyone, but he couldn’t care less about how he looked or what other people had to say. His knees were wobbly, but he focused all his strength in maintaining his balance.
And then it happened. Amidst all the blinking fairy lights, the singing kids, their friends and strangers smiling from ear-to-ear, and the teary-eyed Lee family, Jaehyun pocketed the lilac velvet box before finally getting down on one knee.
“So, Lee Taeyong,” Jaehyun said with all that he was, opening the lilac velvet, revealing a band of eternity, “will you marry me?”

And through the tears, bloodshot eyes, trembling knees, and quivering lips, Taeyong answered, “Yes...”

One thing Jaehyun loved about waking up was seeing Taeyong’s innocent face in the morning as the birds chirped outside. Another he loved was finally seeing their engagement rings around their respective fingers, indicating that they were about to seal the love between them.
At that point in life, Jaehyun was sure he was the happiest he’d ever been. He was sure that nothing could make him happier aside from marrying the love of his life.

The difference of how Jaehyun was compared to being engaged was noticeable.
He seemed livelier at work ever since his proposal, which his colleagues found weird, given that Jaehyun was closed off person. He began looking forward more to his and Taeyong’s lunch dates and fetching the latter from his work.
At night, they would fuck their brains out that sometimes, they end up not having enough sleep to go to work. Still, those times were worth it. And Jaehyun regretted none of those.

They still had small disagreements, but nothing was blown out of proportion.
Because Jaehyun and Taeyong were too busy to actually come up with anything, they hired Choi Sooyoung, a wedding planner and Joy’s cousin. Sooyoung was basically the one who came up with most of the ideas but with a little bit of input from the two.
Jaehyun wanted an extravagant and luxurious wedding, knowing that it was a once in a lifetime event and he wanted to make it as memorable as possible. On the other hand, Taeyong wanted to make it simple because firstly, the simpler, the less cost.
Secondly, it wasn’t like they were going to invite that many people. Their disagreement regarding that ended when one morning, their intercom rang, revealing the Jung sisters on the small screen of it.
“What are you doing here?” was the immediate distasteful question Jaehyun threw at his sister as soon as he opened the door to his house.
“Honey… Why don’t we let them in first, hm?” Taeyong coaxed, giving his soon to be sisters-in-law an apologetic smile. “Noona, why don’t the two of you come in first? I’ll serve you tea in a minute.”
“Spill it. I don’t have the rest of the day. Sundays are supposed to be mine and Taeyong’s alone time, and both of you are disturbing us,” Jaehyun said as soon as his sisters were seated across him in the living room.
“Jung Yoonoh, since when did you learn acting like that?” Krystal threw daggers at the head of his younger brother.
“Krystal, enough.” Jessica put a comforting hand on her sister’s knee before focusing his attention to Jaehyun. “Yoonoh, we’re here to congratulate you and Taeyong on your engagement… We heard it from Yunho-hyung...”
“Is that all?” Jaehyun fired back, while Taeyong emerged from the kitchen and serving their tea as the latter side by his lover. “If that’s all, then you can take your leave now.”
“No. Krystal and I are also here to apologize for what we did… I know it was wrong, but we didn’t want to hurt you and beat yourself up upon finding out what Mom was going through. We thought it was nothing serious. Her operation went well. We didn’t expect she’d pass away...”
“Congrats, you hurt me more.”

“I know,” Jessica reiterated. “And for that, we’re deeply sorry.”

“Is that so…?” Jaehyun trailed off, looking at Jessica’s bowed head. Meanwhile, Krystal was still glaring at him. Taeyong hit him lightly in the arm.
-“I don’t think Krystal-noona has the same sentiment as you, Jessica-noona.”

“Yoonoh,” Taeyong called in a reprimanding tone before smiling guiltily at the Jung sisters.

“I’m sorry, too.” Krystal bowed her head, but her facial expression remained the same.
This time, her deathly glare was focused on the ground.

“I’m sorry, too, Krystal, Jessica-noona.” Taeyong forced a smile.

“Why are you apologizing to them?!”
“If you want, you can help us with the preparation for our wedding. Would that be okay? Yoonoh and I are kinda fighting over this stuff, and I feel like you two would know better.” Taeyong scratched his nape, to which both Krystal and Jessica beamed at.

Three weeks into Jaehyun and Taeyong’s wedding, the Jung sisters sent out the invitations to their friends, families, and colleagues. Since Taeyong didn’t want to spend so much, Jessica and Krystal shouldered some of the expenses, although the silver-haired guy argued otherwise.
Jaehyun was already pumped up, and he couldn’t wait for the day to finally arrive. Since he had no knowledge about anything about getting married and such, he had to contact his friend to tag along with him to a wedding shop in Seoul in able to help him with fitting tuxedo.
Although he had many suits, he wanted to get a new for the wedding, and he wanted the most unique, most fashionable, and most expensive there was.

“I think this one really suits you well.” Eunwoo motioned for him to turn around and show his back side.
-“Yup, this one. You look like a prince.”

“Are you sure?” Jaehyun observed the piece in the mirror. It was an Italian white satin tailcoat and pants, embroidered with gold drako, partnered with mao collar and rhinestones. “This kinda looks unconventional for a wedding tuxedo.”
“I thought you wanted to get the most unique one?” Yunhyeong rolled his eyes. “That’s exactly fitting. I bet you, if Taeyong were to see you right now, he’d probably drool because of how good you look.”
“Damn, I’m getting married, man. Don’t fall for me.” Jaehyun raked his hand through his hair, posing in a vain manner in front of the mirror as Sungjae, and Eunwoo’s boyfriend, Moonbin watched them lazily.
“For real though, Yoonoh, you should get that one. The rest are kinda plain and dull. But I mean, it’s still up to you. Taeyong will always find you jaw-dropping anyway. But if you wanna be extra on your wedding day, which you have all the right to, then pick that one. Trust me.”

The night before the wedding day, Jaehyun slept at Yunhyeong’s place, together with his friends, Eunwoo and Sungjae. He wasn’t much of a superstitious, but following it wouldn’t hurt either. He didn’t want to be bothered by the thought of it, so he did what he had to do.
Jaehyun woke up in an unfamiliar surrounding, taking him seconds before realizing he’d slept without Taeyong by his side. It was a little early, and Jaehyun could already feel his nerves.
He got out of the guestroom, went to the living room, and looked at himself in front of the mirror. He did some stretching and exercise, careful not to make a sound and wake his friends up.
While the other guys were still fast asleep, Jaehyun went inside the kitchen and took out from the fridge the ingredients he could use to cook breakfast.
Jaehyun was done cooking and was currently serving the food on the table in the dining room when Eunwoo entered the dining room, still half asleep.

“So,” Eunwoo started, “are you ready, lover boy?”
“Are you shitting on me?” Jaehyun threatened to throw the spoon a spoon. “I’m more than ready to marry him. Ever since I’ve come to the conclusion I wanted him to be by my side for the rest of my life, I’ve been itching to tie us together. I’d be a fool if I ever let him go.”
“Chill.” Eunwoo let out a small laugh. “I’m just kidding. You’re so whipped.”

“Damn right, I am. You got a problem with that?”

“It’s so fascinating to see how your love for him never faltered after all these years. A decade. How can you even last that long?”
“The real question is, how can I not?” Jaehyun mocked. “He’s literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

“You two are so fucking noisy,” Sungjae interjected into the conversation as he emerged to the dining room, yawning, with his bed hair.
-“I can’t believe I skipped sleeping with Joy just for me to see the two of you talking loudly in the morning.”

The three of them argued for a solid a minute and a half before Yunhyeong woke up, joining them at the table.
As the time ticked painfully slow, the boys showered and did their morning routine and dressed in their suits.

That was the most anxious Jaehyun had ever been in his entire life. He carefully wore his suit, not wanting to crease his clothes even the tiniest bit.
The pair of white formal shoes he ordered overseas fit him very well, completing the overall look. He even took extra time shampooing, conditioning, and treating his hair to achieve that healthy, vibrant hair, so he there wouldn’t be much damage when Jessica,
who came to Yunhyeong’s place a little later after their breakfast for Jaehyun, used the curling irons to style his hair into a comma hairstyle. Jessica put a light makeup on him, and did all the things that needed to be done before they went to the venue.
Upon arriving at the botanical garden of their alma mater, Jaehyun couldn't help but be in awe. It was decorated enchantingly. The branches of trees and their leaves hovered the entire field, shielding people from the sunlight.
There were round tables covered in elegantly pleated white garments, surrounded by at least four tuscan-inspired crossback chairs with a natural wood finishing. On the tables were flowers of different types and colors, giving a more elegant twist to it.
The organizers also put up a lot of lights in the air, all of them tied to trees. At the center, the pathway was covered with red roses, while at the end was a huge circular tumbleweed that looked like a portal designed with a little bit of white lilies on the northwest of it.
Yunho was busy guiding the decorators, but when he saw Jaehyun and Jessica, he immediately ran up to them with a huge smile on his face. “Yoonoh, you look great.”

“Shut up.” Jaehyun checked his wristwatch underneath his sleeve. “Aren’t you guys finished yet?”
“We’re done, actually,” Yunho replied. “Krystal and I are just being a little too perfectionist for our liking since it’s the wedding day of our youngest.”

“Whatever, just hurry up. We’re about to start in thirty minutes.”
“Roger that.” Yunho saluted playfully, turning away and pressuring the events organizer by clapping his hands.

Ten minutes before the actual ceremony, Yunhyeong positioned himself on the right side at the front.
Originally, Jaehyun wanted both Yunhyeong and Eunwoo to be the best men, but the two argued that there should only be one. And since Eunwoo didn’t want to leave his boyfriend’s side, he decided to just let it go.
On the left side, Sungjae stood patiently, flashing his reassuring smile to Jaehyun. Similarly, Taeyong also wanted both Sungjae and Hyunjae to be the best men, but Hyunjae said Sungjae could be the best man.
Everyone was already settled. Their colleagues, friends, and families were seated at their respective tables. It was a school day, that was why there were growing number of student onlookers, curious of what the commotion was.
As the calltime neared, Jaehyun could feel himself getting hot underneath all the clothes he wore. He stood at the end of the path.

“Uncle Sangyoon called,” Sungjae started, “they’re already on their way.”
At that, Jaehyun felt nauseated, his face heated up. He could never understand his heart. Every time Taeyong is involved, he always finds himself not knowing what to do and flustered. The heat and the onlookers were being of any help either.
And Jaehyun felt like crying when the white 1953 Armstrong Siddley Whittley car covered in wedding designs came into view.

As soon as it came to a halt, its passenger door facing the garden, Jaehyun could feel every pump of his heart.
And when Mr. Lee climbed down, opening the door for his son, Jaehyun heart immediately stopped. The first thing that came into view was Taeyong’s white, pristine shoes. As much as he was nervous, he also couldn’t contain his smile playing on his lips.
Finally, after so long, this was going to be it.

Taeyong manifested himself into the eyes of the people, holding a bouquet of asters, and everyone was completely taken aback by his beauty. He was wearing a white suit, complementing not only his silver hair but also his skin.
He looked like a living doll with his milky, white skin, glistening under the glare of the scorching sun.

As Jaehyun has always described him, Taeyong looked so otherworldly, so celestial, so heavenly.
And when he smiled at Jaehyun, his eyes looking like a pair of crescent moon reflecting the light of the sun in the sky, Jaehyun couldn’t help himself but fall all over again.
In that instant, their love story flashed before his eyes, from when they first met up to that very moment. The ghost of their past visited him like an old friend, while Taeyong walked down with his father by his side.
And he knew, wherever his parents might be, they were smiling down at him for finding his home in spite of fate and destiny being playful.

After all this time, Taeyong could still make Jaehyun feel things.
The latter’s heart seemed to pound harder and beat louder with every step Taeyong took with Mr. Lee by his side, and he could feel the air closing in on him, making it for him difficult to breath.
It all felt unreal, like a make-believe scenario straight out of a film, but Jaehyun could remember how everything went in slow motion, how Taeyong’s eyes fluttered while staring at him as if watching his individuality before their lives finally got entangled.
How enchanting Taeyong looked with all the lights accentuating every part of him.
A step⁠—the orchestra began playing. Another step⁠—the choir on the left of the wedding officiant started singing Park Won’s All Of My Life. Another step⁠—the kids began showering Taeyong with rose petals.
Another step—the fairy lights began to blink, giving a more picturesque scenery. Another step—and he finally stood inches away from the love of his life.
Jaehyun stared, hard. With all that he ever was, he looked at Taeyong with nothing but love, admiration, and faith. He wandered his eyes in every corner of Taeyong’s face, from the corner of his lips to the scar on his right eye.
The amount of times he’d stared at Taeyong’s throughout the decade was more than he could ever count, but nothing beats the feeling of looking at the love of his life in that beautiful moment.
When Mr. Lee finally let go of his son and went to sit down somewhere, Jaehyun and Taeyong stood before each other, nervous and awkward. Still, Jaehyun couldn’t help the genuine happiness.
“Ladies and gentlemen, a blissful morning to all of you. You’re all gathered here today to witness a momentous occasion in the life of our couple, Jung Yoonoh and Lee Taeyong.
To the grooms’ friends, families, and colleagues, we thank you for choosing to be the eyewitnesses of two souls uniting and pledging their vows to each other,” the wedding officiant started right after the silence overtook the place.
-“Love, as everyone would probably agree on, is one of the most complicated concepts there ever is.
The notion that there is someone out there in this world who’s destined to complete you is a scary thing, considering there’s more than seven billion right at this very moment and the chance of meeting them is slim if you think about it.
Fate, however, is clever. It is sly, scheming at times, but it always has a way of having two destined souls meet each other. And right before our eyes, the two people that you see in front of you, are the victims of fate.”
Jaehyun’s eyes spoke a million words, glistening under the gaze of the love of his life, mirroring his own. Instinctively, his hands rose from his side as did Taeyong’s, meeting one another halfway.
Taeyong gave him a reassuring squeeze, to which he replied with a nod of understanding and a knowing tight-lipped smile.
“Through this ceremony, your souls, Jung Yoonoh and Lee Taeyong,” the officiant continued, looking at them with a smile, “will legally and publicly be united as one, like your hearts that have long been merged.
With this marriage, you’ll be able to share new experiences and face life and the world hand-in-hand, not as individuals but as a married couple.
In the not so distant future, you might find yourselves at the edge, but may fate also give you enough courage, patience, strength, and love to hold onto each other. After this ceremony, may you find yourselves even more in love every single day.”
The grooms hadn’t even talked yet, and Mr. Lee was already a sobbing mess, trying his hardest not to make a sound and ruin the special moments of his sons. His other son, Hyunjae, was rubbing his back soothingly that only made him even more tearful and emotional.
Through the wedding officiant’s monologue, Jaehyun’s stare didn’t falter. He didn’t even know if blinked even once. All he knew was that everything that was said was right and real.
“With all of those being said, I would no longer prolong this. Let’s hear the vows of our grooms, shall we?” the wedding officiant asked, looking at Taeyong and Jaehyun, before settling his eyes at the former. “Let’s listen to what Lee Taeyong has to say.”
Taeyong nodded, glancing at the officiant before looking at Jaehyun again in pure adoration.
“There wasn’t really a moment in my life when I ever thought of love. Sure, I had a few crushes here and there. I’d taken a liking on several guys throughout my high school and university life, but never have I ever thought of actually being in love until I met you, Jung Yoonoh.”
Some of the guests cooed, while most of the girls squealed in their seats, unable to actually process what was happening with their hearts.
“On our initial meeting, the one when we went to One and a Hundred Four Moon Village, I found it kind of weird that you were staring at me, but I acted like I didn’t notice it.”

“That’s the first time I’m hearing this!”
“Oh, shut up.” Laughter erupted in the venue, and then Taeyong went back to being serious. “I’ve always seen you as a kid. I even went as far as giving you a name based on my brother’s name. So, when you first kissed me, I was shocked and upset.
More than anything, it rendered me confused. I told you that nothing would change between us, and that’s exactly how I did, not because I didn’t feel like there was something special from that kiss but because I knew, in the deepest part of me, I was in denial and wanted more.
At the same time, I was afraid. I had never felt this way before. Everything was foreign, like a new surge of emotions overtaking my heart. You were in my mind twenty-four seven, and you were the one I always talked about to Sungjae when we were still in this very university.
When our bond deepened, you started getting a bit more touchy. A few holding hands, subtle touches, arms around my waist or shoulder, and your chest pressed against my back here and there.
The last night of our first vacation in my hometown was when I finally admitted that I’m in love with you. I almost even denied, but you left me with no option. But honestly, I never regretted that. I never regretted any moment of being with you.”
The two were starting to be overtaken by their emotions, tears building up in their eyes as Taeyong continued.
“Despite being the older one between us, I was always the one who causes fights, always the one to be more childish. When we had that fight a year or two ago, I left and went back to Ttangkkeut.
I barely managed to survive without you by my side for a month, because you were right. I have a life here...with you. I have a home here...and that is you.
Since then, I promised myself that I will never leave your side and that I will love you unconditionally for the rest of my life.
That being said, I, Lee Taeyong, swear to you, Jung Yoonoh, in front of everyone that I will cherish you for as long as I live, give you time and space when you need them, and treat you with respect and dignity.
I promise to stay by your side through the happy stages and sorrowful times of our lives, and through the hardships and triumphs from here then on until my very last breath.”
By the end of Taeyong’s vows, his eyes were red from all the tears that dramatically cascaded down his porcelain cheeks. He could care less if his makeup was all messed up. Jaehyun wasn’t doing any better either.
The latter hadn’t even started saying his vows, yet he was already hiccuping from crying too much. Even some of the guests were teary-eyed, like Joy, Wendy, and Sungjae just to name a few.
Slowly, Taeyong took Jaehyun’s left hand and slid the ring he’d been holding to the latter’s long ring finger, the band fitting perfectly, a sign that the ring belonged there; right around Jaehyun’s finger.
For a brief moment, Jaehyun admired the band, feeling a sense of belonging. When it was his turn to say his vows, he looked at friends momentarily, wandering his eyes to his siblings, and to Taeyong’s family.
His eyes then darted back to the love of his life, the one standing right before him.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve already said a lot of things during my proposal, but here goes nothing.” Jaehyun tried to laugh. To no avail though, it only made him more nervous than he already was. He took a deep breath, mustering all the courage in his body.
“There were only a couple of things in my life I was ever sure of—the love I shared with my parents and closest friends, my academic capability, and to live a carefree life. None of them were about falling in love again after a failed relationship I so held onto...then came you.”
Jaehyun inhaled deeply once again. “I could perfectly remember my initial reaction upon seeing you for the first time. I thought, wow, he’s beautiful, in every sense of the word. Initially though, I was referring to you as beautiful in the physical aspect.
You were beautiful in every physical aspect. It was as if the word beauty came to life in the form of you.”

Jaehyun let out a small laugh, wiping the tears from his damp cheeks.
“You’re so beautiful that I couldn’t take my eyes off you. I was enchanted, I was captivated. But the reason for my desire to act up even more was your outlook in life. You’ve always believed in something I couldn’t, always believed in things other people couldn’t.
You’re brave, strong, and selfless, but people tend to look past that because of your unmatched beauty—a beauty that is on par with the most beautiful people both history and mythology.
You brought out the best in me and stayed by my side and watch me grow. You are the very reason for my smile, laugh, and everything in between. For these things, I am beyond thankful for you.” Jaehyun smiled through the tears.
-“So, right before everyone’s eyes here, I, Jung Yoonoh, wholeheartedly pledge to love you, Lee Taeyong, without any boundaries or reservations today, tomorrow, and for as long as I live through miseries, heartbreak, and blues, and through happiness, euphoria, and triumphs.
And if ever a higher being intervenes and does some sort of divine intervention in order to separate us, I assure you that my love for you will never falter, even in a different lifetime.”
With his trembling hands, Jaehyun took in his hands Taeyong’s left one, taking out the ring from his pocket. He then slowly slid the band around the love of his life’s slim ring finger before plastering the widest smile he’d ever pulled.
“Considering the grooms have said their vows, promising to unconditionally love each other through, and have exchanged rings to formalized the presence of bond between them, I now pronounce you, Jung Yoonoh and Lee Taeyong, as husbands,” the wedding officiant declared.
-“Husbands, you may now kiss each other.”

The two of them looked at each other first; Taeyong blushing from all the eyes on them and Jaehyun wanting everyone to see that Lee Taeyong was finally tied to him.
With a little bit more coaxing from the crowd, Taeyong finally gave in. So, Jaehyun pulled his now /husband/ in, wrapping his arm around Taeyong’s slim waist.
Taeyong closed his eyes, waiting for the pair of lips to land on his. Jaehyun, on the hand, closed his eyes halfway leaning in.
When their lips finally connected, screams, squeals, and claps erupted from the crowd while cameras flashed, capturing the very moment Taeyong and Jaehyun sealed their marriage with a kiss.
NOTE: hey, guys. sorry for not updating sooner. i've just been really discouraged these past few days. i had to read some of your comments just so i can get back on track.

anw, i kinda miscalculated. there's another update before the present time, bc i need to write how-
NOTE: -they had mark & jeno, and the infidelity part.

btw, i'm planning on separating the thread for the present time bc this twt is already around 40k words. i'm afraid that the thread would break if i continued updating here.
NOTE: it's still the same fic. it's not a sequel. i just really think i should do another thread bc it might mess up the future updates if i continued here.

do you think i should make another thread? lemme know
NOTE: + i'm planning on making this a trilogy. markhyuck would be the last pairing. still in the same universe but another fic

do you think i should do when this fic ends? (this fic isn't about to end. we're only halfway, i think)
NOTE: thoughts? questions?

That was the point in Jaehyun’s life when he felt happiest the most. The day after their marriage, they postponed their honeymoon, deciding to take a week off in order to visit his parents’ grave. In front of Mr. and Mrs. Jung’s, Jaehyun introduced his Taeyong as his husband.
He took the Taeyong’s hand in his, intertwining them and giving it a light squeeze as he smiled at the older in genuine happiness.
They also went back to Ttangkkeut with Mr. Lee, and Taeyong finally introduced Jaehyun to Mrs. Lee, whose wake was in a small mountain not too far away from the Lee residence.
Both of them shed tears, and Jaehyun didn’t waste the opportunity to thank Mrs. Lee for bringing someone as beautiful as Lee Taeyong into this world. He swore to the grave of Mrs. Lee that he would take care of Taeyong and love him for the rest of his life.
Even after their honeymoon phase, stars never left Jaehyun’s eyes. If anything, they seemed to shine even brighter than they used to. Taeyong’s lips never felt so sweeter, his body never felt so touchable. And Jaehyun found himself falling deeper and deeper in love each day.
He didn’t know that it was even possible at that point, but love indeed works in mysterious ways, as cliche as it might sound.
One of the things loved the most about the marriage life is when he’d wake up with the love of his life by his side and seeing both of their rings around their fingers. It gave him a sort of a comfort to him, like a safe ground. He genuinely liked wearing it.
Often times, he’d find himself staring at it, persing every detail of the ring wrapped around his finger while smiling like a high school boy who’s thinking about his crush.
Jaehyun loved how it was a constant reminder that he and Taeyong were finally tied for life, becoming some sort of energizer whenever he felt tired at his workplace or exhausted to go to work.
Another thing that Jaehyun used to always do is brag about his marriage life and show off his wedding ring, which would often end with him getting teased by his colleagues for being hopelessly in love with his husband.
With that being said, Jaehyun never took offense, because if he were being honest, he was. He really was. There was no doubt about it. He was hopelessly, utterly, crazily, deeply in love with Lee Taeyong, and he wasn’t ashamed to say that.
Their lunch dates continued on with Jaehyun fetching Taeyong from the hospital where the latter used to work at. They’d try out new restaurants every single day but would go back to the nearer ones when they were too tired to do so.
Their marriage life went on without any problems until one day, Taeyong came home after an exhausting yet fulfilling day of charity work. Jaehyun was supposed to come with Taeyong that day, but he had important things to tend to at work.
Taeyong had been volunteering for this local orphanage even before they got married, and coincidentally, Jaehyun always had something important to do every time his husband would volunteer for that particular orphanage.
As they ate their dinner in the dining area, Jaehyun knew something was up. Taeyong looked anxious and agitated, a complete contrast to how the latter usually acts after seeing the kids in the orphanage.
Normally, Taeyong would tell him a lot of stories about the cute kids who would always want to ride his back. But in that moment, Jaehyun couldn’t help but be worried for his husband’s behavior.
“Is there something wrong?” he asked in concern as he placed kimchi on top of Taeyong’s bowl of rice. “You’re eerily quiet.”

“Just tired...” Taeyong assure, plastering a fake smile, which didn’t go unnoticed by Jaehyun, but he decided not to berate his husband any further.
“So,” he started, “how was the charity event?”

“It was really great.” There was a smile that automatically played on Taeyong’s lips as he looked down, thinking about the kids at the orphanage.
-“We had so much fun. The look on their faces when we gave them presents was so...heart-warming.”
“I can see that,” Jaehyun replied, giving his husband a genuine smile. “I’m sorry I couldn’t go with you. We’re having some sort of problem in the company, and I can’t just take leave. But I swear, I’ll go with you next time.”
“Is that a promise?”

“It’s a promise.”

There it was again, the awkward silence between them. The only sound could be heard were the ticking of the wall clock and the clinking of the utensils in the dining area. For a couple of minutes, nobody spoke.
They just ate to their fullest until Taeyong couldn’t take it anymore and decided to verbalize what was in his mind.

“Honey…?” Taeyong called hesitantly, gulping nervously. “W-What do you think about adopting kids…?”
And that was the last thing Jaehyun was expecting. He was expecting something like questions about the problems in his company, visiting their father in Ttangkkeut, or maybe planning a vacation or trip overseas. But Taeyong asking him about adopting kids was out of the picture.
Yes, he noticed that these past few months, Taeyong had been volunteering in an orphanage and maybe getting attached to them, but the silver-haired guy had always been like that. Taeyong had always had people he talks to gravitate toward him, so Jaehyun didn’t think much of it.
To say that Jaehyun was horrified is an understatement. He was conflicted and confused. When he raised his head and looked at Taeyong, the latter’s eyes were hopeful, sanguine, as they glistened while staring at his own eyes.
Frankly, Jaehyun hadn’t thought of it. It never even crossed his mind at all. Plus, they had just gotten married. He wanted to experience the joys of married life first before diving into anything more serious pace.
Yes, he and Taeyong might’ve acted like a married couple even before they said their wedding vows and wore their wedding rings, but it wasn’t par to the feeling of actually being married and enjoying its days.
Having kids around, for Jaehyun, was a huge step, probably a bigger step than getting married because there would be other lives involved, and Jaehyun wasn’t too sure if he wanted any of that just yet. Besides, he and Taeyong weren’t always around.
If they’re both at work, who would tend to the kids? He certainly didn’t want to hire babysitters or nannies either. He was too much of a worrywart to entrust his kids to a random stranger, considering the cases of child abuse involving them.
“W-Why do you ask so suddenly…?” Jaehyun had halted his movements altogether, his gaze boring into Taeyong’s celestial ones in scrutiny.
Taeyong swallowed nervously, playing with his food, eyes shifting from his husband across to the food in front of him. “I-I’ve actually been thinking about it for quite some time now…ever since I started volunteering to that orphanage…”
Jaehyun released a shaky breath but said nothing.

“I know we’ve only been married for a couple of months, but we’ve practically been together for more than a decade. And I really, really want to start a family with you, Jaehyun…”
This time, they looked at each other. And Jaehyun thought, Who could have the heart to break that hopeful gaze, those eyes that held so much love for him? Certainly, not Jaehyun, but he had to do what he had to do. He wasn’t ready just yet.
Of course, he wanted to build a family with Taeyong, but not at the moment.

“Why,” Jaehyun started, “am I not enough for you?”
And it was definitely not the right words to say, Jaehyun knew it. He saw Taeyong’s face contorted into a look of horror, the latter shaking his head rapidly. Taeyong stuttered through his words, not being able to find the right words to say.
“N-No!” came Taeyong’s agitated response, blinking to hide the tears that built in his eyes. “I-I just thought you might be ready… But if you aren’t, w-we can just wait ‘til you’re ready.”
Jaehyun no longer replied and went back to eating but not before glancing at Taeyong’s defeated face. When they were about to sleep, he could still see his husband’s dispirited expression bugging him until past two in the morning, resulting in him getting lack of sleep.
Guilt seemed to find him wherever he went; at home, at work, at restaurants—everywhere. Whatever Jaehyun did and wherever he went, Taeyong’s defeated look would always flash right before his eyes, making it hard for him to function on a daily basis.
At the same time, Taeyong stopped meeting him for lunch, claiming that his schedule changed so he couldn’t eat with him, which is a normal occurrence for doctors.
As far as Jaehyun knew, doctors change schedules depending on the current number of staff and the number of patients according to the hospital’s statistics. So, Jaehyun never said anything about it.
Only did Jaehyun realize that Taeyong was avoiding him when the latter also stopped going home with him. It was an unwelcoming winter night, flakes of snow pouring down from the sky of Seoul as Jaehyun drove to the hospital where Taeyong worked at.
He even had a smile on his face as he walked through the doors, immediately spotting Taeyong in the lobby who was talking to an elderly lady with her grandchild. He put his hand in the air, waving daintily at his husband.
“You ready to go?” he asked in introduction as soon as Taeyong dismissed the old lady and saw him. “It’s really cold outside. Here, put this on. I don’t want my doctor to get sick.”
But before he could even put it on Taeyong’s shoulder right after he removed it from his body, his husband held a hand up, stopping him from whatever he was about to do. “No, Jaehyun. I’ve told you about my change of schedule...right?”
“Yeah...” Jaehyun trailed off, unsure. “If you feel bad about our cancelled lunch dates, it’s alright. I understand.”

“No, it’s not about that.” Taeyong swallowed, avoiding Jaehyun’s eyes by turning his head away.
-“I’m afraid I won’t be able to come home with you starting today. I won’t be out until two more hours.”

“But I thought your lunch break is the only one affected by that.”
“Well, at first, yeah,” Taeyong said, “but I had to change the entirety of my schedule, which means you no longer have to fetch me...and drop me off.”
“What?” Jaehyun’s brow scrunched as he tilted his head, biting the inside of his cheek in indignation. “First, we can’t have our lunch dates. Fine. I understand that you have patients to tend to. But now, I can’t even fetch you or drop you off?”

“Jaehyun, it’s part of my job.”
“And it’s part of my job as your husband to make sure you’re alright,” Jaehyun fired back, clearly annoyed. “What’s so bad about me wanting to fetch my husband from work and making sure he’s alright?”
“I never said there’s anything wrong with that,” Taeyong whisper-yelled, heaving a sigh with a roll of his eyes.
-“Seriously, just go home. I have no time for this right now. I need to go to my patients. Have you not seen the influx of patients in the emergency room who need immediate care and assistance?”
With that, Jaehyun watched his husband storm off. Defeated, he clenched his jaw, taking a deep breath to calm himself down. What was so bad about wanting to make sure your husband is safe and sound?
That night, he went home alone to a silent house, removing his necktie and slamming the soft fabric to the ground.

He was already dressed in his pajamas, waiting for his husband in bed when Taeyong arrived, completely drained from his hours of duty.
Jaehyun was waiting for Taeyong to talk to him, but the latter never did. So, they slept with their backs facing each other.

The following day, Jaehyun woke up to an empty bed, puzzled.
He searched for Taeyong inside the bathroom, the living, the kitchen, and the dining area, but his husband was nowhere to be found. It turned out Taeyong had already left before he even woke up, leaving him to eat alone the leftover phone Taeyong had cooked earlier.
At work, Jaehyun sent messages to his husband as if nothing happened between them, but there wasn’t even a single reply to any of his texts, rendering Jaehyun with a heavy heart.

That went on for a couple of days until one day, Jaehyun could no longer take it.
After his shift, he hastily grabbed his bag and exited the building, making his way to his parked car. He didn’t care if he were to spend two long hours waiting for Taeyong. The only thing that mattered was for him to clear their dispute.
If Jaehyun had to swallow his pride, then so be it. He just wanted to see Taeyong and take him in his arms. When he arrived, however, Kim Kibum, a colleague and a good friend of Taeyong and a guest in their wedding, was the one whom he saw first.
“Yoonoh,” Kim Kibum called with a smile. “Fetching Taeyong?”

“Yeah,” Jaehyun responded with a nod, “is he there?”

“He’s in the emergency room.” Kim Kibum put his hands inside his lab coat. “Do you want me to call him?”
“No, no.” Jaehyun waved his hands in rejection. “I’ll just wait for him ‘til he finishes his duty.”

“Huh?” Kim Kibum tilted his head, scrunching his eyebrows in the process. A look of confusion on his face.
-“But he just finished his shift ten minutes ago. I thought he was just finishing up in the emergency room. Don’t tell me he’s working overtime again?”

“Overtime again?” Jaehyun asked in wonder. “What do you mean?”
“Oh, he’s been working overtime these days,” Kim Kibum explained. “Come to think of it. It started when you stopped fetching him. Did something bad happen between the two of you?”
At that, Jaehyun’s heart sank as glanced at the direction of the emergency room. “Do you mind if we could talk in the cafeteria?”

“Sure, I’m on my coffee break anyway.”
They went inside the hospital cafeteria, sitting at one of the tables after Jaehyun got his own cup of coffee. By having a conversation with Kim Kibum, he found out that Taeyong wasn’t really forced to have his schedule changed.
In fact, Taeyong didn’t even change his schedule. It turned out that Taeyong had been working overtime for hours these past few days without his knowledge.

By the end of Kim Kibum’s coffee break, Jaehyun sat inside the cafeteria, infuriated, angry, and betrayed.
He then sent Taeyong a lone message, /I’m waiting./ Disheartened, he leisurely walked to the waiting area, his eyes completely dark. He waited there for about an hour and a half before he heard his name being called.
“Yoonoh…?” It was Taeyong in his casual clothes, about to head out. “What are you doing here?”

Fingers intertwined tightly with his head down, Jaehyun didn’t respond. He rose abruptly from his seat before grabbing Taeyong by the arm, proceeding to drag the latter into his car.
There were words of protests from Taeyong, but Jaehyun’s mind was clouded with anger. When they reached his car, he opened the passenger seat and motioned for his husband to go in. There was an eerie silence when Jaehyun got inside, only their heavy breathing could be heard.
“When do you plan on keeping this up, huh?” came Jaehyun’s first question, fueled by the hurt and betrayal. “Until when do you plan on keeping up with these lies?”

“What are you saying?”
“Change schedules, huh?” Jaehyun let out a humorless laugh. “You made me feel like an idiot. If I hadn’t talked to Kibum, I wouldn’t even know you’re working overtime. What did I do wrong?”

Taeyong was rendered speechless, guilty, and regretful. “You did nothing wrong.”
“I did nothing wrong…?” Jaehyun asked, more to himself than to Taeyong. “Then, tell me. Why are you working extra hours just so we wouldn’t go home together?”

“Yoonoh, I’m tired. Let’s just go home and talk about this some other da—”
“Lee Taeyong!” Jaehyun screamed, breathing heavily, his eyes filled with angry tears. He closed his eyes in an attempt to calm down, but the only thing it did was for his tears to stream down his face. “Just fucking tell me!”
“Fine!” Taeyong screamed in return, a sob threatening to come out of his throat. “Y-You want to know?! I-It’s because I don’t wanna see you!”

Jaehyun could feel his heart constricting, as if the muscles around it were closing in. He knew his husband like the back of his hand.
Taeyong, for the most part, was always soft to him, so caring. Even when the latter hurt him, it was always unintentional. This time, however, Jaehyun wished the ground would swallow him. It hurt. And Jaehyun wished it hurt physically rather than emotionally.
He wished Taeyong had just beaten him up, kicked him and punched him until he could no longer walk or his face could no longer be recognizable. He’d rather have that than the feeling of being unwanted by Taeyong. That was what hurt the most.
“Do you know why I married you, Yoonoh?” Taeyong asked, angrily wiping the tears on his cheeks. “Because I want to start a family with you, because I want to build a family with you. But how can we possibly start a family when you’re so against the idea of us adopting children?”
“I never said I don’t want kids.”
“You’re right. You never explicitly told me you don’t want kids.” This time, it was Taeyong’s turn to let out a laugh devoid of any humor. “You just asked, /am I not enough?/ Me, someone who literally married you, when you could’ve just straight up told me you’re not ready yet.”
“W-Where have you been going before your shift starts…?” Jaehyun asked, his voice barely above a whisper after a long silence. “Because Kibum told me you still arrive on time at work.”
“I drop by the orphanage before I go to work,” Taeyong said impassively, staring at the parked cars ahead. “If you don’t mind, I want to go home. I’m very tired, and I could really use some rest right now.”
For the first time in years, they sat in an uncomfortable silence with Jaehyun keeping his bloodshot eyes on the road and Taeyong gazing at the buildings they were passing by. That drive from Taeyong’s work to their house was probably the longest drive they’d ever had.
When they reached home, Taeyong immediately unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of the car immediately, leaving Jaehyun regretful.

Jaehyun, at one point and at least to some extent, had been hurt by Taeyong, but it was always not deliberate, unintentional.
It was always unintended, like that their first fight in the beginning of their relationship when Taeyong thought he was on a double date, or that one time when Taeyong went away for a month.
And even if they were intentional, Taeyong never had the guts to straight up tell him in face that he didn’t want to see him. Jaehyun never thought it could hurt this bad.

/It’s because I don’t wanna see you!/
Plain, simple sentence, but the magnitude of it had the capacity to annihilate every ounce of hope in his body, obliterating everything in him. Inside the car, he decided to contemplate.
It had only been a couple of months since they got married, and they were already going through something like this.

Jaehyun felt so weak, so helpless. That night, he decided to distance himself, afraid that he’d make Taeyong more upset.
He slept in the guest room with a heavy heart, pondering about the things his husband told him until sleep finally visited him.

For three days, they stayed like that—sleeping in different beds, going to work separately, ditching lunch dates, and going home by themselves.
At work, Jaehyun’s mind was always somewhere else, resulting in his job performance getting affected. His colleagues noticed it, too. They noticed that the way he gazed at his wedding ring was no longer full of love but full of longing and yearning.
“Whatever your problem is,” his colleague, Seo Changbin, started, “you should resolve it. You haven’t been yourself for quite some time now.”

“It’s not easy,” Jaehyun responded with a sigh. “He wants to adopt kids, and I don’t think I’m ready yet.”
“Well, if you’re not ready yet, you should talk it out as delicate as possible. No screaming, no fighting.” Seo Changbin put his hand on Jaehyun’s shoulder, giving a light squeeze. “But if I were you, I’d try visiting adoption centers or orphanage first.”
“Try visiting them…?”

“Yeah, isn’t Taeyong always volunteering in a particular orphanage?” Seo Changbin questioned. “You know, our eldest isn’t blood-related to us.”

“Yeah.” Seo Changbin let out a small laugh, caressing his chin as he reminisced the memory. “She’s adopted. At first, I was so against the idea. I mean, I wasn’t ready to be a father just yet. Besides, we’re both fertile!
But when I visited the orphanage where she came from, I realized that emotional connection plays a huge part in it. Maybe Taeyong has grown attached to a kid there? Why don’t you give it a shot?”

Those words kept replaying at the back of Jaehyun’s head.
He thought about his colleague’s input, and he decided that he’d do just that. To him, it was now or never. He was already tired of their set-up, tired of sleeping without the love of his life by his side, tired of not being able to touch and kiss his husband.
So, on a Sunday morning, Jaehyun woke up early, cooked breakfast, and got dressed to go to the local orphanage several blocks away from their home.
His heart was like a race car in a track, fast and loud. He even had to inhale deeply and fix his composure before entering the premises of the orphanage. There he met Miss Kwon, the directress of the orphanage.
“May I ask who you are, Mr.?” Miss Kwon asked with a friendly smile.

“Jung,” Jaehyun answered. “I’m Jung Yoonoh, Lee Taeyong’s husband.”
There were kids everywhere. Some of them were playing tag in the garden, some playing in the small makeshift playground a couple of walks away, and some were just watching. It was an overwhelming feeling, and just by being there, Jaehyun could already feel his head aching.
“Oh!” Miss Kwon clapped. “It’s a pleasure to meet you! I didn’t know you’re the husband of Dr. Lee. You’re so lucky to have him, Mr. Jung. He’s always so helpful, so accommodating to the kids. Where is he, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“At home.” Jaehyun smiled. “He’s resting today since it’s Sunday.”

A group of kids then came up to them, hugging Jaehyun by his thigh, rendering him immobile. His reaction was priceless, considering he was never really good with kids.
The closest to a kid he ever had to deal with was Taeyong’s brother, Hyunjae. The kids from his social works were a different story. Miss Kwon just laughed, pulling one of them to her side.
“They love visitors.” Miss Kwon motioned for the kids to play. “What brings you here, Mr. Jung?”

Jaehyun told Miss Kwon that he just wanted to know why his husband was always at the orphanage, so he decided to see itself on his own.
For the rest of the day, he played with the kids, although initially, he had a hard time not getting annoyed and pissed off at how much energy they had. There were two kids who caught Jaehyun’s attention, though.
Two black-haired kids who watched him by the sidelines, holding each other hand-in-hand. They both had dreamy eyes, as if hoping for something impossible to happen. The whole day, Jaehyun watched those two kids from his peripheral vision, wondering if he should approach them.
When he did, however, the kids looked afraid and decided to stray away from him.

By the time he had to go home, he asked Mr. Kwon, “Are they always like that?”
Miss Kwon followed Jaehyun’s line of vision, spotting the two kids, the taller one putting powder on the younger’s face. “Oh, them? Those are Minhyung and Jeno. They’re brothers. The older one is Minhyung and the younger one is Jeno. They’re really, really shy around new people.”
“I see...”

“Why, you like them?” Miss Kwon asked with a smile to which Jaehyun responded with a rapid nod and a small smile. “Dr. Lee has a soft spot for them, actually. He really, really likes them.”

“Yeah,” Miss Kwon replied. “It’s actually kinda amazing that despite this is your first time seeing them, you gravitated toward them, just as Dr. Lee did. Maybe, this is some sort of foreshadowing.”
The sun was about to set when Jaehyun had gotten back home, the horizon radiating a fiery hue that seemed to burn the entire skyline. It wasn’t his plan to stay at the orphanage for hours, but the joy they brought to him was fulfilling.
Yes, he’d hangout with kids before when he was doing social work, but it was a different story. Jaehyun didn’t have to think of being a father to them.
But his visit to the local orphanage had a bit of weight on his shoulders, considering Taeyong, based on his gut feeling, would most likely want to have a kid from there.
As he emerged through the doors, his shoulders slumped from all the physical activities he had to do, he saw Taeyong in the living room, a look of concern plastered on the latter’s face, which didn’t go unnoticed by Jaehyun. “Honey?”
With that, Taeyong quickly perked up, rising from his seat on instinct. “W-Where have you been?”

“O-Oh.” Jaehyun scratched his nape sheepishly, blinking. “I-I visited the orphanage you frequent to...”

“I just… I just got really curious why you like going there...” Jaehyun bit his lip nervously. After all, they hadn’t talked in a while. “Now, I understand why… They’re really fun to be with, Taeyong.”
With vulnerable eyes, Taeyong look at him momentarily, having an internal battle with himself if he should do what he was thinking. Jaehyun, on the other hand, remained standing amidst the silence, looking everywhere but his husband.
In an instant, a pair of arms wrapped their way around his waist. Taeyong was holding onto him, face on one of his broad shoulders, sniffling.
“Sorry, I’ve been childish this week,” Taeyong muttered, his voice muffled due to the distance of his mouth and Jaehyun’s right shoulder. “I understand if you’re not married. I’ll be waiting, Jaehyun. Sorry for everything.”
Surprised, Jaehyun was left speechless and immobile. But as soon as he regained his composure, his hand instinctively reached for his husband’s head, caressing it in a loving way, smiling to himself wistfully.
“I’m sorry, too. I have no explanation whatsoever,” Jaehyun whispered. “Were you worried while I was gone?”

Taeyong pulled back a little and looked at Jaehyun, nodding adorably. “I waited for you the whole day...”
“Is that so?” Jaehyun pecked his husband, the kiss lingering for a second. He then smiled at his husband in contentment. “...Why don’t we talk about visiting the orphanage together…?”

Seeing that enchanting smile of Taeyong was one of the things Jaehyun loved and lived for.
So, even if things weren’t completely okay, he knew he was alright so as long as he’d see that. Taeyong immediately scheduled their visit together to the orphanage. Although Jaehyun was still nervous, he trusted his husband judgment.
When they went there to see the kids, Taeyong quickly made his way to Minhyung and Jeno, which softened Jaehyun’s heart.

It turned out that Minhyung was there since he was two while Jeno was one.
They were left outside the gates of the orphanage by someone and was taken inside by Miss Kwon herself. Minhyung was crying, together with his brother, Jeno, whose body was wrapped in layers of clothing, lying on a basket, crying amidst the unfriendly and cold night.
And when Jaehyun heard that, he couldn’t help but for his heart to ache for them. He gave Taeyong's hand a squeeze and talked to them. Fortunately, Taeyong was already close with the two, and Jaehyun was able to get to know them more.
Visiting the orphanage became one of their hobbies every Sunday. They’d visit the kids four times every month, particularly Minhyung and Jeno, who were six and seven at the time, respectively.
It didn’t take long enough for Jaehyun to warm up to the kids, especially to the brothers who looked like cute, little puppies.
What pushed Jaehyun and Taeyong to finally adopt the kids was when one afternoon, Minhyung and Jeno walked up to them sheepishly, and Minhyung tapped their thighs in order to get their attention.

“What is it, hm?” Taeyong asked softly, giving the two a tight-lipped smile.
“Uncle, thank you for always visiting me and my brother,” seven year-old Minhyung said before proceeding to give Taeyong and Jaehyun a smooch on the cheek. “Jeno, kiss them, too!”
“Okay, hyung!” six year-old Jeno replied, nodding innocently, taking the married couple’s faces in his hands before giving them a kiss.

The kisses were sloppy, and Jaehyun could feel a remnant of saliva on his cheek, but he didn’t care.
He enveloped the two in his arms, rubbing their backs and caressing their heads. Taeyong, who was surprised at the gesture of the kids, felt tears prickling in his eyes. As they left the orphanage, Jaehyun looked back momentarily and saw the kids staring at him and Taeyong.
“Honey, please...” Taeyong blurted out suddenly once they were inside the car. “Let’s adopt Minhyung and Jeno, please. That’s all I ask of you...”

Grabbing Taeyong’s hand with a smile, Jaehyun said, “We will.”
With the help of Miss Kwon, they immediately processed the paperwork in order to legalize their custody of Minhyung and Jeno. When they were filling up the boys’ papers and were asked by Miss Kwon if the kids will be Jung, Jaehyun said, “Lee, I want them to be Lee.”
And when asked by Taeyong why would he do that, Jaehyun answered with, “You were the one who originally saw and wanted them. Because of that, I want them to honor your name and for them to take it with them for the rest of their lives.”

That was the start of their family.

In contrast to what Jaehyun initially thought, it turned out that Minhyung, or Mark with a silent /r/ as his younger brother called him, and Jeno weren’t really that difficult to love. The boys were meek, modest, and reverent.
They’d always stay put in once place, afraid that he and Taeyong might be mad at them if they caused any ruckus. It took for the kids to get used to calling them Papa and Daddy, considering they were used to calling the husbands as uncle.
“Mark, Jeno,” Jaehyun called one afternoon, kneeling, so that they would be on the same level. Hesitantly, the kids walked up to him, holding hands.
-“I’m no longer your Uncle Yoonoh, I’m your Daddy Yoonoh now. You can also call me Daddy Jaehyun, that’s what my husband calls me. And my husband, your Uncle Taeyong is no longer Uncle Taeyong. From now on, he’s Papa Taeyong now. We’re your family now, get it?”
“Family?” Mark asked in pure innocent. “Jeno and I have a family now?”

“Yes, buddy. You.” Jaehyun pointed at Mark’s chest and then at Jeno’s. “Jeno, Me, and Papa Taeyong. We’re family now.”
“Okay, Daddy Jaehyun,” Mark said, nodding his head.

“Okay, Daddy Jaehyun!” Jeno mimicked, bringing a smile to Jaehyun.

“Come here,” Jaehyun uttered, motioning for the kids to be in his arms. “Give Daddy a hug, will you, my babies?”
Before he knew it, Mark and Jeno tackled Jaehyun to the ground, showering him with sloppy kisses all over the face. Unbeknownst to them, Taeyong was watching them with twinkling eyes, loving every second of that moment.
It didn’t come as a surprise to Jaehyun weeks later when Taeyong wanted to quit his job and focus on the kids. For him, it was alright. Working in the emergency for Taeyong was tiring, and Jaehyun could see it with his own eyes. So, he didn’t protest.
Besides, he wanted to be the man of the family, be the one to provide for his family’s needs and wants.

When Taeyong enrolled Mark to a nursery school, it felt like the start of world war three, as Jaehyun had witnessed.
Jeno was thrashing around, not wanting his older brother to go, and Mark was sobbing, trying to reach for his younger brother’s hand.
The kids were attached to the hip and were afraid of being separated, so it took everything in Taeyong to convince both of them Mark needed to go to school and that Jeno should stay at home.
It went on for weeks until Jeno eventually had gotten used to it. Every time Mark would come home, he’d teach Jeno everything he learned for the day. Most of the time, however, Mark would let his brother color his coloring book or he’d teach him how to draw animals.
Ever since they had Mark and Jeno, Jaehyun’s daily life consisted of Taeyong cleaning the house, cooking for them, ironing his work clothes and Mark’s school uniform, Jeno and Taeyong bidding him and Mark goodbye, him dropping Mark off to school, him coming home to his family.
Jaehyun didn’t know a day like this would come.

It seemed too good to be true, Jaehyun initially thought. Coming home to your family, exhausted from work and being re-energized just by seeing your husband and your kids seemed like a make-believe,
like something that only idealistic people would attest as truth. But Jaehyun himself experienced it, and he realized that, maybe, the idea fell somewhere between the line of actuality and fantasy.
Mark and Jeno grew up to be so much like him when he was a kid—withdrawn, reserved, and a wallflower. To compensate for their lack of social skills just like their Daddy Jaehyun, the two did exceptionally well in academics, especially Jeno.
And maybe that was the reason why the two kids and Taeyong clicked right away.

Everyone loved Mark and Jeno—Hyunjae, Yunhyeong, Eunwoo and Moonbin, Wendy, Joy, Sungjae, Mr. Lee, Jessica and Krystal, Yunho, everyone. And Jaehyun was thankful for that.
Years flew like leaves being swayed by the wind. Along the way, there were a couple fights here and there, but nothing too serious happened that could break their family apart...yet.
Jeno was in high school when Taeyong decided to work again after years of being a stay at home husband, given that Mark and Jeno could already do things on their own. Jaehyun, like the understanding husband that he was, agreed to it.
After all, Taeyong didn’t waste more than eight years of his life studying just to be inside the house doing household chores and tending to their kids.

Fortunately, the hospital where Taeyong used to work at welcome him with open arms.
For another three years, the Jungs lived contentedly. They’d go on vacations when they have the time, and those are the times Jaehyun and the kids looked forward to, considering Taeyong had become busy ever since the latter had gone back to working.

It was like a whip of the wind, like a sudden strike of lighting how it happened too fast. At the same time, it was like a turtle against a rabbit in a race, like a snail fighting against the odds of time how it happened so painstakingly slow.
And never, in a million years, would have Jaehyun thought that it was the end of everything.

It all started when Jaehyun, after so many years of working in the same company since he graduated, was promoted as a national sales director.
He was congratulated by everyone, and he couldn’t wait to deliver the message to his family. So, on the way home, he texted Mark and Jeno to get ready because he was going to pick them up and surprise their Papa. Confused, the teens did as they were told.
They arrived at the hospital just as Taeyong ended his shift.

There, in the lobby, Taeyong’s eyes immediately lit up upon seeing his husband and his kids. Puzzled, he asked, “What are you guys doing here?”
“We don’t know either,” Mark replied. “Dad told us to get dressed because he said he has something important to announce.”

“Is that so?” Taeyong’s eyes turned to his husband, giving him a smile. “What’s this important announcement that you have to drag the kids here, honey?”
Laughing, Jaehyun said, “You’ll know soon. Come on, let’s get going.”

With one of his hands on the steering wheel and another on Taeyong’s heart, Jaehyun drove down the familiar lanes, nostalgia surging through his mind as he was reminded of the times they spent in that place.
They hadn’t been there for years, and Jaehyun wanted to deliver the news by bringing Taeyong to the special space that was once their sanctuary when they were still students and developing stage of their relationship.
In the backseat, Mark and Jeno sat side by side, gazing outside the window.

Once they arrived at the place, Taeyong said, “Honey...”

“I miss this place, and I’m sure you do, too. And since I have wonderful news to announce to you guys, I figured why not bring you all here?”
-Jaehyun smiled to himself, putting both of his hands on his waist, his eyes observing the familiar restaurant. “And besides, I want the kids to know the places we used to go to when we were young.”

“Dad...” Jeno muttered. “You’re so embarrassing...”
“What?” Jaehyun angrily replied in pretense. “You just say that because you haven’t found anyone yet. You’ll know what I feel once you’re in love.”
“Daddy, that’s enough.” Taeyong laughed at his husband, caressing their youngest son’s head. “Let’s go. I’m hungry and I miss this place.”

“Tsk,” Jaehyun clucked his tongue. “Why are you always on their side?”
Chuckling, Taeyong proceeded to snake his arms around Jaehyun who was pretending to be upset in order to get his husband be affectionate to him. Taeyong then kissed his husband’s cheek, who, in turn, blushed in spite of the countless times they’d kissed before.
“You’re lucky I love you,” Jaehyun muttered before stealing a kiss on the lips, and turning on his heel, leading his family inside the farm-themed restaurant he and Taeyong used to spend their time in when they were still university students.
Over the years, the restaurant changed a bit in physicality. The were still dried leaves, flowers, and ferns dangling around. That time, there were vines on the shelves, but the tables and chairs were still fully furnished, still luxurious from what Taeyong could remember.
They sat at a table in the corner near the window, the streets of Seoul looking like a show in their eyes.

“You’ve got a weird taste, Dad.” It was Mark who uttered that, his eyes wandering at the country-like atmosphere of the restaurant, fascinated by its interior design.
“Do I?” Jaehyun chuckled, turning to look at Taeyong who sat beside him. “I think you should say that to your papa.”
“Hey!” Taeyong pouted, slapping his husband’s arm. “This place kinda reminds me of my hometown, alright? Besides, it’s your dad who brought me here, and I’ve just come to love it.”

“You’re right, Papa,” Jeno delicately said. “Now, I miss Gramps.”
“Don’t worry.” Taeyong placed his hand over the back of younfest son’s hand, giving it a comforting squeeze. “We’ll visit Gramps soon, okay?”

Jaehyun ordered the food he and Taeyong frequently ordered before, the table being occupied almost entirely of the dishes.
Mark and Jeno gawked at the different, mouth-watering, wide variety of Asian cuisine laid on their table. The aroma of the food brought back so many memories to the husbands, resulting in Jaehyun smiling to himself as he remembered all the times he’d bring Taeyong there.
“So...” Taeyong started as soon as they started their dinner. “What is it you wanna tell us?”
Swallowing his food, Jaehyun straightened his back, putting the pair of chopsticks he was holding on top of a small bowl, plastering a huge smile on his face. “I just got promoted. I’m now a national sales director!”
“What?!” Taeyong looked at him, wide-eyed. “You’re promoted…?”

“Yup.” Jaehyun nodded arrogantly, smirking.

“Congratulations, honey!” Before Jaehyun knew it, he was taken into his husband’s arms before being showered kisses all over his face.
The boys across them just snickered, shaking their heads at their parents’ antics. “I know how much you’ve been working hard to get that position. I’m so proud of you!”

“Congrats, Dad,” the teens said in unison, giving their dad a warm smile just as they went back to their food.
“I think I deserve a reward for this achievement, though. I don’t think a simple congratulations would suffice.” Jaehyun rubbed his chin, flashing his eyebrows mischievously. “Don’t you think I deserve some loving?”

“The kids are here, you perv!”
And as everyone says, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Jaehyun, due to his new responsibility, going to work early and going home late, resulting in him always exhausted and not being able to spend as much time as he did before.
Every time he’d come home to a still awake Taeyong in bed, he whisper sweet nothings and mutter words of apologies for not being around most of the time since he was promoted.
Taeyong never failed to ease his burden and tell him that it was okay, and Mark and Jeno understood why things had to be that way.
Along with this, Taeyong was persuaded by a new doctor, Kim Wonpil, to go on medical missions. Since had done social works, participating in medical missions didn’t sound bad. So, he went on one in order to take his mind off the lack of time between him and his husband.
The thing is, Taeyong likes helping without asking for anything in return, especially those who are unfortunate or marginalized. Seeing their priceless smiles is good enough payment for him. Due to this, Taeyong went on as many medical missions as he could.
Both became busy with their respective careers, to the point of neglecting their own kids. What pissed Jaehyun off was he was already rarely home, and when he was, Taeyong was always coincidentally on a medical mission.
Since then, there was some invisible distant between the husbands, a distance that both of the were afraid to talk about. It was as if they were strangers in their own home.
Jaehyun wanted to be understanding, he really did, given that Taeyong had always been an understanding person when it involved Jaehyun’s career. But everything at that moment felt so...wrong. Everything felt so manufactured.
When Jaehyun would come home and see Taeyong around or vice versa, they’d always have something to argue about. It started with a simple dirty laundry and unwashed dishes, escalating to bigger things like not having enough time for their kids.
And the fights would always end up with a crying Taeyong and a regretful Jaehyun sleeping in different beds.

“Lee Taeyong,” Jaehyun called in frustration one night, burying his face on both of his palms, rubbing it.
-“I’m not forbidding you to go on medical missions. In fact, I support you. I just don’t appreciate that every time I’m home, you aren’t. You’re always in a medical mission with that guy, Kim Wonpil. What is he exactly to you, huh?”
“Are you hearing yourself, Yoonoh?” Taeyong retorted back incredulously. “Wonpil is a colleague. He’s a new doctor that I happened to watch over.”

“Well, I don’t think that’s only how he felt about you.”
“If I felt something weird about him, I would’ve distanced myself away from him. You’re being immature.”
Jaehyun huffed out a breath, clenching his jaw angrily. “Well, I do! You probably do, too, and you’re probably thinking he’s better than me because he can go with you to those stupid medical missions, right?!”
There was a loud, resounding sound of a palm and a cheek in contact. The shouting came to a halt, completely replaced by a deafening silence. Jaehyun’s face stung, and yet it felt so numb. He couldn’t move, couldn’t look Taeyong in the eye.
His eyes closed slowly, inhaling deeply to calm his nerves.

When Taeyong realized what he just did, his face contorted into that of a horror. One step⁠—a look of regret. He took another, and another, but before he could even touch Jaehyun, the latter was out the door.
Jaehyun stopped coming home altogether, afraid of saying and doing things he didn’t mean. He’d rather settle in a hotel for the night rather than to be in a fight with Taeyong.
He’d only come when he needed a change of clothes, and when he’d sleep at their house, he’d take the guest room. He loved Taeyong, loves him even to this day, and he couldn’t stomach what was happening between them.
It was their longest continuous fight, lasting for about half a year.

And then Kang Seulgi happened.

It was another awful day for Jaehyun, waking up feeling shitty and missing his family.
He’d arrived at his office with a headache, and it only seemed to heighten when a familiar lady caught his eyes when he went to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee.
There, standing not a couple meters away from him, stood his first love who had let him for a married guy back in high school.

Kang Seulgi, if Jaehyun were being honest, had gotten more beautiful than she was.
Her hair was silkier, straighter from what he remembered, running past her shoulders. Her skin was a lot paler, a lot smoother than before. She looked sophisticated, as if she was the boss of the company instead of a mere employee.
“Yoonoh…?” Jaehyun didn’t notice that Seulgi’s eyes were already on him. “You’re Jung Yoonoh, right…?”


“Oh my God.” Before he knew it, he was enclosed in a hug. In all honesty, he didn’t know what to do or say.
-Here his first love was, hugging him after disappearing on him for so many years. Suddenly, everything felt so fresh again, yet instead of being furious and having the heart to push the girl, away, he was left immobile.
-“It’s been so long since we last saw each other. How have you been?”

“I’ve been fine,” came Jaehyun’s plain reply, face devoid of emotion.
“Aren’t you going to ask me the same thing?” Seulgi asked playfully, her smile vanishing when Jaehyun’s expression did not change. “Sorry for what happened between us back in high school...”

Jaehyun didn’t reply.
“I never got to properly break up with you and apologize to you. I didn’t know any better. I was young and naive, and you were affected by my wrong choices. I hurt you so bad.” Seulgi looked down, heaving a deep sigh.
-“For that, I know my apology is long overdue, but I still want to say sorry. You deserve it...”

“It’s alright. It’s all in the past now, anyway.” Jaehyun gulped, extending his hand for a handshake.

With a vibrant smile, Kang Seulgi took the hand, shaking it.

The initial plan was to stay from Kang Seulgi as far as possible. Fate, however, had a different plan upon Jaehyun finding out that the girl was in the sales department.
Given that he was in the same department, although he was the national sales director and Seulgi was just a simple employee, their paths were ought to cross.
And Seulgi would always, /always/ make a way in order to see or talk to him, which didn’t sit well with him, considering they had history.
With work being his only sanctuary, Jaehyun would often work overtime, drowning himself with piles of paperwork that seemed to never diminish no matter how much time he dedicated to it. One night, as he was finishing up, there were sounds outside his office.
He initially thought it was Seo Changbin, his colleague turned assistant. There was a knock on the door—another red flag since Seo Changbin would just barge in. To his dismay, it was Kang Seulgi.
“Is there anything you need?” was Jaehyun’s introductory question, his attention focused on the paperwork.

“Uh.” Kang Seulgi pushed her hair on the back of her ear. “I was hoping we could grab something to eat and catch up?”

“Uh, we never had the chance to talk again after our first meeting, so...”

Jaehyun thought of his family at home. The urge to decline was strong, but he knew that once he got back in his hotel room, he’d just feel lonely. “Alright.”

“I said alright.” He looked at Seulgi pointedly. “Wait for me outside. I’ll just finish up.”

They went to a night cafe nearby, the one he and Taeyong frequented during the early stage of the latter’s work. Jaehyun wanted to settle somewhere else but decided not to.
After all, Seulgi didn’t know that the place was important to him and his husband. So, he didn’t say anything as they settled inside at one of the tables.

“I didn’t know you’re married already,” was the first thing Seulgi said when the waiter put their orders on their table.
Instinctively, his eyes landed on his wedding ring. “Oh… Yeah...”

“Is it someone I know?”

“No,” Jaehyun muttered, “I met him at university.”

“He must be so lucky to have you,” Seulgi commented, sipping on her coffee.
“It’s the other way around actually,” Jaehyun clarified. “I met him several months after you left.”

Although Jaehyun hadn’t wanted to know anything anymore about what really happened, Seulgi still chose to share it.
It turned out that Teddy Park, whom she eloped with, was arrested after a year for kidnapping, considering Seulgi was still a minor when they ran away. When her parents got a hold of her, they decided to bring with them to Laos where Seulgi continued her studies.
She told him her regrets, such as deciding to be in a relationship with a married man and leaving Jaehyun without ever properly breaking up.
At the same time, Jaehyun shared how he and Taeyong met and fell in love in spite of being indifferent about catching up with his ex, not realizing the impending doom.
Everybody in the company knew that Jaehyun was married, absolutely everyone—his bosses, his colleagues, the janitors, everyone.
So, he didn’t really appreciate all the taunting from them when they’d go out at night to drink upon knowing that he and Seulgi had a history when they were in high school.
“Hey Seulgi!” one of the employees under Jaehyun called. “Maybe you should spice Director Jung’s night! He’s been out of it these past few months, probably because of his never-at-home husband!”

There a laugh that erupted in their table.
“Don’t worry, Director Jung!” another one said. “What happens here stays here!”

“I doubt Director Jung will do it, though! He’s under his husband, after all!”
Maybe it was his ego, maybe it was the alcohol—Jaehyun had no idea. That night, however, was the night that he’d ever regretted in his entire life.
Head pounding, Jaehyun woke up to an unfamiliar room. For a couple of seconds, he was confused. He knew it wasn’t his home, nor was it his hotel room. Maybe Seo Changbin brought him to the Seo residence?
But everything shattered when he felt someone stirring beside him under the covers. To his horror, it was Kang Seulgi, naked.

Jaehyun remembered skipping work that day, spending the entire day crying in his hotel room, not knowing what to do.
The desire to go home and envelope Taeyong, Jeno, and Mark in his arms was strong, stronger than he’d ever felt in his entire existence. So, after some time of being gone, he went home.

But the home was empty, just like Jaehyun’s heart for the past months.
No Jeno, No Mark, and above anything else, the love of his life was nowhere in sight. In the end, he went back to his hotel room, crushed, confused, and hopeless.
He decided to call his brother, Yunho, but his call was sent directly to voicemail. Jaehyun had never felt so alone, so defeated in his life.

And in order to cope up, Kang Seulgi became his little secret.
He sought after some sort of physical and emotional gratification, and Kang Seulgi became just that, except for the emotional gratification part. What was once a mistake became a wrong choice, and Jaehyun was ashamed of it.
In the beginning, it felt thrilling, like they were burglars waiting to be caught in the act. They would have sex everywhere—in men’s bathroom, in his office, in his hotel room, at her place.
The sex was great, but it wasn’t comparable to the pleasure, contentment, and love he felt when making love with Taeyong. There weren't any cuddles, no sweet nothings and playful banter after. There was only regret and self-condemnation in Jaehyun’s part.
As Jaehyun expected, sex with Seulgi became an obligation. It felt like a cycle of something that needed to be stopped, but he felt desperate. He was desperate to feel something even if it meant having regrets in the end.
“Director Jung?” It was Seo Changbin. “Can I tell you something?”
Jaehyun was seated at his table, elbow propped against the surface, his hands on his hair, pulling on it. There were layers and layers of bags under his eyes, and he looked deathly pale, as if he hadn’t been sleeping at all.

“Sure, what is it?” Jaehyun asked without looking up.
“I know that I’m not in the right position to say this, but...” Seo Changbin hesitated. “But do you think Taeyong deserves this?”

At that, Jaehyun snapped his head in Seo Changbin’s direction. The latter was staring at him, eyes filled with, what seemed to be, pity.
Jaehyun gulped despite the dryness of his mouth, shifting his eyes to everything but the man before his eyes. He raked his hand through his hair in frustration. “W-What do you mean?”
“You’re my boss, and I know I’m crossing the line, but I no longer care if I lose my job,” Seo Changbin started, heaving a deep breath.
-“I should’ve told you this sooner. I’m not saying this as your assistant but as your friend, Taeyong is also human. If he finds out about this whole mess, it would kill him, Yoonoh.”

Every word was piercing though Jaehyun, rendering him breathless.
“Can you imagine if Taeyong finds out you’ve been sleeping with Seulgi?” Seo Changbin asked, his own voice quivering, hurting for the husband of the man across him.
-“Can you imagine? It would shatter his whole world. It would take all the faith, hope, and love in him. The love of your life, whom you claim to love so much, feeling like it was his fault if he ever finds out...can you imagine?”
Jaehyun still didn’t talk, his eyes filling with tears, blurring his vision.
“What about Mark and Jeno?” Changbin wiped the tears in his eyes. “The sole reason why you took them in was to nurture them with love and care, to be their family. They don’t deserve this, Yoonoh—not Mark, not Jeno, especially not Taeyong.”
“We were always fighting...” Jaehyun reasoned out. “I desperately needed to feel something, something that wasn’t gonna hurt me.”

“But where did it lead you?”

“I don’t know what to do.” Jaehyun sobbed.
“Think about the kids, too. I was a product of a broken family, and as much as possible, if I can prevent that from happening to people I know, I’d do it.”
“What should I do?” Jaehyun cried, tears pouring down his table nonstop. “I’m so lost. Tell me, Changbin, am I out of time?”

“No, you certainly aren’t.”

With the new found determination, Jaehyun quickly roared his car’s engine to life, proceeding to drive away from the parking lot until he reached the familiar hospital where his husband worked. As soon as he climbed out, he ran as fast as he could, looking for Taeyong.
When he asked the receptionist where Taeyong was, he was told that his husband was having his lunch break. And so, Jaehyun waited in the waiting area, on the right side of the entire lobby. What he saw, however, vanished his smile on his face.
There Taeyong was, walking with Kim Wonpil by his side, both holding a cup of coffee. And then suddenly, Kim Wonpil stopped Taeyong, reaching for a strand of hair that was out of place. Jaehyun, not thinking through, went back to his car and drove to Seulgi’s place.
He thought it’d be the end of it. He thought it was that easy. But things aren’t always what they seem.

The next morning, Seulgi handed her divorce papers. "Just get rid of him, and then we can finally live together."
Jaehyun walked home alone. He was afraid that if he drove, he’d crash because of the emotional pain he was feeling. With the divorce papers in his hands, he didn’t know what to do. Sign them? Throw them? Burn them?
The thing was, Jaehyun was too detached from everything. He was too out of it, too out of touch to even realize the magnitude of the things he had done. It felt like a continual nightmare that didn’t want to leave him.
He looked at his hands, even pinched himself just to make that everything wasn’t a figment of his imagination. And when he was welcome by the physical pain, he broke down in the middle of the street, not knowing what to do.
He walked inside the familiar house, the place he once called home. In the deepest part of him, it was irreplaceable. It was still the home he and Taeyong shared, still the home where he and the love of his life took their children in. Nothing compares to it.
There was a shadow in the living room, but Jaehyun knew every feature, every curve of Taeyong. He knew everything from the way his husband smiles to every edge of his body. Jaehyun turned on the lights, Taeyong’s red puffy eyes welcoming him.
“So, you decided to come home, huh?” Taeyong muttered, staring ahead at the turned off television, but Jaehyun stayed silent, removing his shoes and placing then on the rack. “Tell me, Yoonoh. Just tell me how to make it all better, I’ll do it.”
But the image of Taeyong with Kim Wonpil at the hospital resurfaced in his mind, making him chuckle to himself humorlessly. “Make it all better?”

“J-Just tell me...” a sob escaped Taeyong’s lips, his cries became muffled as he bury his face on his palms.
Right there, right then, Jaehyun wanted to walk up to his husband, take him in his arms, and whisper to him that everything will be alright, that everything will eventually fall in their rightful places.
But his ego and pride got in the way, resulting in what would be Jaehyun’s most regretted thing he’d done in his entire life.

“I give up, Taeyong.” Jaehyun felt his heart clench at that. “I give up. Maybe we’ll be better off alone.”
This time, Taeyong looked at him, wide-eyed, begging. “W-What do you...”

“Why don’t we just get divorced?”

Jaehyun was so out of it that he decided to shove the divorce papers inside the closet without thinking before leaving the house.
By the sidelines, he saw Mark and Jeno staring at him and his crying husband in clear distraught. Jeno then stormed out of the house, slamming the door shut so loud the whole house probably shook in its place.
With a shattered heart, he left his home all choked up. He stayed for another week in his hotel room, and when he came back, the only thing that greeted him was his crying sons, the other pair of engagement ring he was wearing, a note, and signed divorce papers.
[NOTE: i've always associated this fic with this song, and it's the one i usually listen to when writing this, so i thought i'd share it to you guys. with that being said we going ✈️ present time!!!]

[sorry if the angst is a bit lackluster??? i didn't wanna write a smut scene between jaehyun & seulgi bc i was already crying just by writing about their affair ugh. and i'm sorry if this update sucks. i've been having writer's block these days]

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