-And then, Kang Ta was married.
To a woman he didn’t even really know.
In a ceremony that was constructed solely for TV cameras.
He wanted to think ‘this seemed like a good idea before’ but it had never seemed like a good idea. It had seemed like a responsibility and a burden. He felt like a responsibility and a burden. But it was necessary.
A month ago, the marriage was decided, and since then he had seen his bride twice. Once in a meeting, and next on the alter. The meeting had gone relatively well. And the alter part? There wasn’t a lot for Kang Ta to gage that on, but he supposed it went well. He didn’t cry, or scream, or pass out, or run away. Neither did Lee Mi Hyun, his bride.
That month ago Kang Ta finally agreed with his manager that rumors and gossip were going to ruin his career and something needed to be done. Message boards and cafe’s were filled with talk of him being gay, or being a womanizer.
“Now, a womanizer,” Kang Ta’s manager had said, “wouldn’t be career ending, because you can still release albums, but no ones going to buy them. But being gay? You won’t be able to put out a digital single. Think of Hong Suk Chun.”
That’s what convinced him. Kang Ta had met Suk Chun a few times, but nothing memorable. So, the only memory he had of him was the image he had seen on TV, when Suk Chun had come out of the closet. His crying face and strained admittance hit really close to home. Kang Ta didn’t want that to be him, he didn’t want to go in front of those cameras and tell the world he was gay, and then bow down into retirement. Now he was being backed into that situation unless he did something.
That something depended on Hee Jun.
The plan was to tell Hee Jun the whole situation, and then say ‘Tell me not to do it and I wont, I swear.’ What actually happened was Kang Ta began crying before Hee Jun got the door open, and the rest spilled out between sobs.
Even as he was being soothed by Hee Jun’s ‘Its alright, Its going to be fine. We can get through this, you can do this.’ he knew he had to say those things. How could he tell Kang Ta no? ‘No, you can’t get married. Our relationship is more important then your career.’ These are things Kang Ta would have wanted to say if the tables were turned, but not even he would have if Hee Jun had come to him in the mess Kang Ta was in.
Hee Jun had tried to bring up the wedding in the following month, but Kang Ta had just said “Not now, let’s not talk about it now.” Even if the planning was going on, he wanted to pretend it wasn’t, as long as he was with Hee Jun they could pretend everything was normal.
The night before the wedding, as he laid in bed with Hee Jun, he had brought up the wedding himself, and Hee Jun said “Not now, I don’t want to talk about it now.”
And now it was too late.
The ceremony was open to reporters and TV cameras, the reception was closed for close friends and family only. This meant everyone could relax and stop putting on fronts. Kang Ta retired to a table with his family and Hee Jun, the bride was with her own family, across the room.
“You want to meet her?” Tony asked suddenly, making Jae Won jump.
“What?” He asked.
“You’re staring at her, I assume you want to meet her? I do too, so if we go together it wont be as weird. I feel awkward.” Tony admitted.
“Why do you want to meet her?” Jae Won asked.
“I have all her books, I would love to meet her. I was going to bring one for her to sign, but Woo Hyuk said that would be rude.” He nodded to Woo Hyuk, who pretended to ignore them both.
Jae Won had known she was a writer, but he never had read any of her books. The only other thing he really knew about her was the fact she was Kang Ta’s manager’s daughter. Now seeing her, he wished he knew a little bit more. He could understand why Kang Ta had gone through with this, but why her?
“Come on,” Tony said, taking Jae Won by the arm and guiding them to the other table.
Approaching the table, it felt like they were intruding. If this were a real sort of wedding Tony and himself would have reason to come to talk to the bride, interrupting her conversation with her mother, but as it was, they didn’t have an obvious reason for approaching. If he was in Mi Hyun’s place, Jae Won would assume they were coming to give their condolences.
“Pardon me.” Tony interrupted with ease. “I just wanted to make sure I met you before the night was over.”
Tony extended his hand, and Mi Hyun took it as she stood to give them her full attention. She looked beautiful in the wedding dress, and her smile was kind, and somehow familiar. Jae Won then noticed, as she turned to take his hand, it was the same smile she had given all the camera’s at the ceremony. He suddenly wondered if she really was happy with the arrangement, or if this was a fake smile.
“Im Lee Jae Won.” Jae Won introduced.
“Its nice to meet you two. Im sorry, I should have come and introduced myself earlier.” Mi Hyun apologized.
“No, you are busy with your family.” Tony said, nodding toward her mother, who was now engaged in another conversation. “I wanted to tell you, Im a big fan of yours, I have all your books.”
Mi Hyun’s eyes widened in surprise, and then she turned a shade darker. “Im flattered. Im glad you like them.” She said, smiling.
This one was different. It was broad, reaching her eyes, but at the same time, self conscious. It was endearing, and Jae Won felt a bit of jealousy that Tony was the one receiving it. If he was better on his feet, Jae Won would have considered making the same claim to having her books, but he was sure if he did Tony would rat him out.
“Mi Hyun?” Her father asked, coming along side Jae Won and Tony. “It’s time to go, you need to take photos with Kang Ta. Honey,” He said, calling his wife, “You too, let’s go.”
Jae Won turned to say goodbye to Mi Hyun but Kang Ta turned him back around as he walked by. “Thanks for coming you guys. Will you...” He nodded toward the table he had been sitting at.
“We’ll hang out with Hee Jun.” Tony assured, understanding what Kang Ta had meant.
“Thanks.” He smiled half heartedly and followed the party out the door.
“Does he think Hee Jun is going to do something crazy?” Jae Won asked quietly.
“I think he doesn’t want him to be alone.”
Woo Hyuk gave Tony an exasperated look as he watched him sit down on the couch beside him. “What are you doing? Go make us something to eat.”
Tony’s eyes closed in exaggerated agony as he sighed. “How can you be hungry? We’ve eaten non stop for the last five hours.” Not actually wanting, or expecting, an answer, he turned his back to Woo Hyuk on the couch. “My back hurts.”
“What am I suppose to do about it?” Woo Hyuk asked, only able to keep the smile from his voice due to years of practice. Tony was so sure he could derail his thoughts, how delusional and adorable.
“Rub it.” Tony chuckled. Maybe he had heard the joke in Woo Hyuk’s voice after all.
“Well, my feet hurt, are you going to rub them?”
Looking back over his shoulder, Tony grinned. “I wont have enough time to do that and make your dinner.”
“Wont be a problem.” Woo Hyuk assured. He wrapped his legs around Tony, straddling him, and placed his feet on Tony’s lap. “You can rub them while I do your back. And look, you have two hands, I have two feet, we’ll make record time.”
Tony laughed silently to himself but begin to rub Woo Hyuk’s feet, only then did Woo Hyuk massage his back. The whole day was a bit stressful, it felt good to just relax. The whole situation with Kang Ta seemed to sneak up on all of them, and it brought up issues that neither he nor Tony were able to vocalize yet. It was like waiting on test results, finding out whether you had cancer or not.
“Do you think one of us should have stayed with Hee Jun tonight?” Tony asked after a long silence.
“He’s fine, I’ll go check in on him in the morning though. I think he’s too drunk to do anything but sleep right now anyway.”
That’s what worried Woo Hyuk most of all, Hee Jun was doing well. The whole night they drank and ate, never mentioning Kang Ta. Hee Jun joked and carried on like nothing was wrong, but he ordered drinks faster then Woo Hyuk could keep track of. He wasn’t healthy enough to have been taking in drinks like that, but there wasn’t much Woo Hyuk or Tony could say about it. At least the light hearted facade they all put on kept their thoughts from getting dark, even with all the alcohol.
“Woo Hyuk?” Tony asked in a soft voice, and Woo Hyuk noticed Tony had stopped massaging his feet.
“Will you stay over tonight?”
Woo Hyuk wrapped his arms around Tony’s front and pulled him tightly against his chest. He kissed Tony’s temple a little harder than he intended before answering, “Yes, but you have to make breakfast too.”
“Go to your room.”
Mi Hyun could almost see the humor in that, if she weren’t so tired and depressed. It was her wedding night, and upon coming home with her husband she was told to go to her room by her father, as if she was in trouble. It wasn’t as if she had planned on consummating the marriage, but it was the icing on the cake to be treated like a child like this.
“We need to talk, there is no reason for you to stay up.” Her father added in a softer tone when she hadn’t moved.
“Uh..” Kang Ta said suddenly, smiling apologetically, then laughed. “I was about to say it was good seeing you again, but that would be...” He shook his head, making Mi Hyun smile at his honesty. “I’ll see you in the morning, sleep well.” He corrected.
“Thank you, you too.” She tried smiling at him as brightly as she could, then turned to her father. “Goodnight.”
This was Kang Ta’s apartment, and so it was already decorated when she arrived. It was nice, but it didn’t feel like home. Not even her bedroom felt like her own. Sometime in the day someone must had dropped her things off, because there in her room were the boxes she had packed, and her bed. It wasn’t even dressed, and Mi Hyun wasn’t sure which box might have the sheets in it.
Suddenly, she felt guilty. The room was hollow, save for her boxed goods, what was the room before? Kang Ta must have had to clean it out for her. It was ridiculous to feel guilty about that, but Mi Hyun couldn’t get past the feeling she was a guest here. A guest that was shamelessly imposing.
Mi Hyun stretched her eyes upward to dry them. She shouldn’t cry now, not right now at least, there would be lots of time for that later. To keep busy, she set into opening the closest box to look for her sheets, or at least her pillow. She would have marked the boxes, but even as she packed them, things were being removed. Most of her things had gone into storage or the trash, her mother took a few things back to her home. Mi Hyun’s father repeatedly reminded her she couldn’t take that much with her.
“You don’t need to bring your furniture, Kang Ta has that already, you can put them in storage until we find someone to take them.” He had said, and then “You’re bringing those toys with you too? I can’t believe you still have them anyway.” Meaning her stuffed animals.
Trying to ease Mi Hyun’s mood, her mother had whispered not to worry, she would bring her animals home and get them to her later. It was sweet, but it wasn’t what was upsetting her. The animals were mementoes of her childhood, but her furniture was more important. She had bought it with money she had earned, putting them in her own place was a big moment for her. She had finally been an adult, self sufficient, and now they were being stripped away as easily as that.
“Finally...” Mi Hyun muttered, finding some sheets at the bottom of one box. When she stood up to put them in place, she noticed she was still in her wedding dress. So many funny things tonight, but she still wasn’t up to appreciating it.
She quickly pushed the idea of unpacking anymore more from her head. It didn’t need to be done now, and as long as she had her computer hooked up she would be happy, but it hadn’t made its way to Kang Ta’s apartment yet. If her Mom was trying to make the transition any easier by bringing her things, she would only have had to bring her bed, computer, and pajamas.