Tae Sub left the hospital that windy Tuesday night feeling tired and in dire need of rest. He pulled a twelve hour shift due to a small panic caused by an overturned bus on a main road on the outskirts of Jeju City with twenty people being injured.
Luckily, no fatalities.
He contemplated going to his apartment first and staying there, but had decided against it. Seeing Kyung Soo’s face first thing would brighten his already bleak night. So when he pulled his blue Audi up to Kyung Soo’s apartment, he made sure his silver car was there before getting out. If Kyung Soo’s car wasn’t around then he would have called to find out where he was, but that wouldn’t be the case since it was parked next to the stairs.
Ascending said stairs with his briefcase in hand, Tae Sub punched in the security code to open Kyung Soo’s front door. When it opened, he shoved himself inside, leaving his shoes by the door while he loosened his constricting tie. The light was on in the living area and he put his briefcase on the study table in the corner before getting a bottle of water from the fridge. Taking a sip, he turned around to realize that Kyung Soo left his laptop on again. He chuckled before turning it off.
Realizing that the place was too quiet for someone as restless as his boyfriend, Tae Sub decided he would search the bedroom to see if his lover was maybe sleeping. He took his jacket off, threw it over the white couch and then rolled up his shirt sleeves to his elbows. When he stood before the decorated, sliding bedroom door, he held on to it and slid it open.
There Kyung Soo was, peacefully asleep in the armchair in a corner at the foot of the bed near the door. His head hung to the side near his right shoulder while his body was lax and his breathing even. There was a book in his lap and he wondered why Kyung Soo never used the bed. Wouldn’t that be more comfortable?
That’s when Tae Sub looked at the bed to realize that there was a body sized lump under the covers. Frowning, he looked to the sleeping Kyung Soo and then to the brown hair he now realized was very visible from where he stood. Even though he could tell it was a woman, he didn’t want to believe it was his boyfriend’s ex-wife who was sleeping in his bed. His heart started hammering loudly against his ribcage as he hesitantly approached the bed, wanting to see more clearly who it was.
And sure enough, it was Soo Na’s mom.
Tae Sub blinked back tears after biting the inside of his cheeks. After all the arguments they got into over Kyung Soo’s relationship with his ex-wife, he couldn’t believe the man had the audacity to make the woman sleep in his bed...their bed, without telling him. He could have rented a room for her downstairs because now all he could think is that they slept together since they were both in the same bedroom for God knows how long doing whatever they felt like.
If Kyung Soo had even called to say he was inviting her over, Tae Sub would have been prepared and he wouldn’t feel how he felt now; like he was betrayed and used. A surge of anger like a deadly force of nature ran through him and Tae Sub stormed towards the bedroom door. His steps must have been heavy, because right before he was to exit he heard Kyung Soo’s sleepy voice call out his name. He stopped, but didn’t turn around.
Tae Sub turned around this time, desperately trying to blink back the tears threatening to fall from his eyes. He took the ring off his finger, an important symbol of their love, and threw it right at the other man’s chest, watching as he caught it with a horrified expression on his face.
“Tae Sub, it’s not what you think.”
“What do I think? Huh?” The blood pounded in Tae Sub’s ears as he watched from over Kyung Soo’s shoulder as Soo Na’s mom rose from the bed with wide, fretful eyes. He wondered if Kyung Soo’s mother had finally gotten through to him and made him reconcile with his ex-wife. She had his heart first, maybe she reclaimed it by now.
“Soo Na’s dad, you said you would have called him,” She started. “Why didn’t you?”
Kyung Soo turned his head to regard her. “I fell asleep.”
She scoffed disbelievingly. She remembered Yang Tae Sub’s behaviour when she brought Soo Na over for her dad’s birthday. There’s no way this is going to go over well.
Tae Sub glared at Kyung Soo then. “It’s so easy to forget about me, isn’t it? It’s not the first time with Soo Na’s mother either. You turned off your phone when you were with her in Seoul and now this?”
Kyung Soo took another step closer and Tae Sub stepped back, not wanting to be touched. It would be his undoing.
“Don’t make this any harder than it has to be. You knew about that time, this time is the same,” Kyung Soo argued back.
“I don’t want to hear it,” Tae Sub answered before turning around and walking away. He grabbed his jacket and his briefcase and was halfway towards the door when Kyung Soo grabbed his arm and turned him around, staring hard into his eyes.
“I thought I told you to stop acting like an idiot, we weren’t even sleeping in the same bed together!”
“You had plenty of time to do what you wanted with her before I got here, that’s no excuse!”
Kyung Soo was obviously irritated and was holding in his own anger. It didn’t help that Soo Na’s mom came because she was being bothered by his mother, whom he called and got into an argument with earlier. When she told him she would have choked him to death on her breast as a baby if she knew he would grow up to be so worthless and dirty, it left him with an anger so unbearable he couldn’t take it. He still had lots of unsanitary feelings spilling over from that time and Tae Sub’s behaviour now wasn’t helping his mood any. He just needed him to stop and embrace him like a lover should.
Seeing the ambiguous look in Kyung Soo’s eyes, Tae Sub felt a new wave of anger take him over, even stronger than before and with all his might, he pushed Kyung Soo back, causing him to fall hard.
Without preamble and in less than a second, Kyung Soo surged to his feet and struck out, hitting Tae Sub across the face and causing him to tumble to the floor as the briefcase and his jacket flew out of his hands.
Soo Na’s mom gasped, then everything stilled eerily.
With wide, disbelieving eyes Tae Sub looked at the floor, not seeing anything and feeling the burn as one thought ran through his mind; Kyung Soo had struck him.
Kyung Soo had raised his hand to him once, at that time when he mentioned he did have feelings of running away with Chae Young at some point, but he made it clear he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t afraid then, but now is different.
Kyung Soo on the other hand, looked down at his now reddened palm horridly. Did he really just strike the man he loves? Did he really just earn the title of a madman?
“It doesn’t take a genius to see she wants you back....” And with tears in his eyes Tae Sub stood and looked at the woman. “You can have him back, this is too complicated.”
Kyung Soo didn’t feel he had the right stop Tae Sub as he took his things and walked out the door. Tears pooled in his eyes as he kept staring at the palm that did the awful f deed. He didn’t even remember striking out at Tae Sub, only what happened after and for that he felt like dying.
But standing there, knowing he couldn’t let the one person he loved the most get away, Kyung Soo forced his legs to move, setting his body in motion. When he reached his floor’s railing outside, Tae Sub was descending the last flight of stairs hurriedly. Feeling his heart hammering in his chest, he moved with a speed he didn’t know was possible and had managed to catch up to Tae Sub while he was fumbling with his key to open his car door. Before the man could take a seat, he pulled him away and slammed the car door shut. Forcing Tae Sub’s back against the same car door, he held him firmly by the shoulders and looked at him with all the sincerity he knew he felt in his heart.
“I’m so sorry.”
Tae Sub blinked back tears. “One will lead to two, two to four, four to ten...”
Kyung Soo shoved Tae Sub against the door before closing his eyes in regret. He opened them apologetically. “I’m not my mother. Don’t leave, I’m sorry.”
Tae Sub smiled before gently removing the firm hands on his shoulders. “Being wishy washy doesn’t suit you. You’re free to do whatever you want. I’ll be returning to my mother now. Bye.”
Tae Sub wasn’t going back to his apartment; he didn’t want to be near him. Kyung Soo watched as Tae Sub drove away, not looking at him once. His heart clenched at the sight and his knees felt weak with regret.
No, he still wouldn’t give up. If he allowed Tae Sub to return to his family in Jeju Island by himself then it would be over. That’s the type of people Tae Sub’s family were. If he couldn’t convince them, then he would lose Kim Min Jae’s son forever. That would be impossible for him to endure. He jumped in his car and pulled out of the driveway, making sure to keep that blue Audi in his sight the entire ride back to Pension.
When Tae Sub pulled up next to his second uncle’s car, he didn’t even close the door properly before he jumped out and hurried away. Kyung Soo was right behind him and he didn’t want him to catch up, he didn’t want him to have a chance.
Tae Sub wanted his mom, he wanted the strongest rock he had at home to protect him.
“Tae Sub, stop!” Kyung Soo shouted while he ran after the hurrying man. He managed to grab his arm by the time he was before his grandmother’s little house but Tae Sub shook him off and continued forward.
Ho Sub, who left his wife in their room to go exercise out on the balcony, spotted the tension from where he stood with a pair of ten pound dumb-bells in each hands. It was obvious things wasn’t right between his older brother and his boyfriend, so he made his way down to his mother to find out if she was asleep.
Neither his mother nor his father had gone to rest yet.
“What is it, Ho Sub?”
“Mom, Kyung Soo and Hyung are here, I think they’re arguing.”
Kim Min Jae opened the bedroom sliding door so fast to look at Ho Sub to see if he was serious.
She and her husband listened and sure enough, there seemed to be raised voices from outside the front door. They all hurried towards it, realizing a moment later that Cho Rong had joined them.
“I told you if you ever had any second thoughts about us, don’t hesitate to leave. I’m making this easier on both of us.”
“You’re the one assuming I have second thoughts, Tae Sub. Why do you keep making this into something it’s not?”
“So you didn’t hit me because of her?”
At that, an open mouth Kim Min Jae and her husband, son and daughter all stepped out on to the porch to look at the two men.
Tae Sub avoided looking at them, biting his tongue and Kyung Soo bowed in formal greeting.
“Inside, you two, now,” Byung Tae gritted out. He looked around to make sure no one else was watching them, especially his mother or talkative youngest brother while everyone filed inside. As the main family members, they all knelt around the low family table in the living room. Byung Tae sat beside his wife and Ho Sub sat beside his brother while Cho Rong sat opposite them with Kyung Soo.
Kyung Soo, Byung Tae realized, kept staring at his son but Tae Sub kept his gaze away.
“Cho Rong, please make us some tea,” her mother ordered and the girl agreed before standing to go to the kitchen.
“Now, I don’t appreciate you two arguing out in the yard where grandmother can hear you. Do you both want a death in the family, huh?” Byung Tae started, looking at both kids in disappointment.
“I’m sorry, father,” both men addressed in unison with their heads bowed.
Cho Rong returned with a tray before setting a steaming cup of green tea before each of them, then she left hers for last before sitting back beside Kyung Soo.
“Now, tell us what the problem is,” Min Jae instructed.
Tae Sub looked at his mother then. “I came home to find his ex-wife in his bed.”
She gasped and looked at an apologetic/angry Kyung Soo. Everybody looked at Kyung Soo.
Ho Sub pouted. “Hey, how could you do that to Hyung?”
“She was sleeping, I wasn’t with her, Mother.”
“But, why was she even there without my son knowing?” the woman asked.
Kyung Soo sighed. “My mother kept forcing her to try to convince me to come back, she got angry and found me to tell me about it. She was exhausted and fell asleep in my bed. After arguing with my mother on the phone, I got exhausted and fell asleep in the chair. I wanted to call him but I felt so drained I forgot before resting.”
“But Oppa said you hit him, why?” Cho Rong asked.
Every pair of eyes narrowed at Kyung Soo, but he kept his own eyes on the one that wouldn’t look at him. “I didn’t even realize I’d done it. With everything I was feeling, him pressuring me further made me lash out without realizing. I’m sorry.”
“Does that mean you’ll hit my son everytime he nags?” Kim Min Jae asked disdainfully, her gaze frosty and biting.
Kyung Soo looked to the floor then. “No, mother. I’m sorry. He just wouldn’t stop and listen to anything I had to say.”
The woman then turned her gaze on her son. “And you, will you jump to conclusions every time he does something you don’t like? I’d like to think I know the type of person Kyung Soo is and I don’t want to believe he’ll ever do something like cheat, because if he does he won’t like it. I don’t want to hurt him wrongfully so sort out your business before you get here. Am I clear?”
“Yes, mom,” Tae Sub answered in a small voice. He couldn’t look at her, he felt ashamed.
She then looked back at Kyung Soo. “You know how prickly my son is, don’t do anything like this again to set him off, you should know by now how easily he gets anxious. Next time cover your tracks and at least call him.”
Kyung Soo nodded and she sighed then, taking a sip of her tea before addressing them both. “I realize you are both particular men, but you’re also both eldest sons. I think you’re together long enough to know what works and what doesn’t for the both of you. If by this point you still have no clue, then its no use staying together since things like these would happen way too often. I don’t want another pair of those two down the street in the family. Am I clear?”
“Yes, mother.” Both men agreed in tandem and that’s when Tae Sub finally decided to look at Kyung Soo. Maybe he did overreact a little bit. He didn’t want an explanation and that was his own fault. The fact is Kyung Soo and Soo Na’s mom is and will forever be bound by their child and he needed to accept that fact. No matter how much he hated it, it will remain true.
Kyung Soo vowed to never forget to inform Tae Sub of things involving his family, neither will he ever raise his hand to him again. That’s a promise.
“Will you two be going home now?” Byung Tae asked the two kids. They reconciled with the help of his wife and now he didn’t want them driving back too late to the city.
“Yes.” Tae Sub nodded and Kyung Soo smiled.
“Hey, Hyung, let me know if this guy hurts you again. Nobody should hurt my big brother like that. OK?” Ho Sub muttered, getting a confirmation before leaving the table.
Cho Rong turned to Kyung Soo. “All couples go through rough patches, I’m sure there will be more. Just take care of Oppa, ok? He needs it.”
Kyung Soo nodded gratefully to the youngest. “I will.”
“I’ll see you both out,” Tae Sub’s mother then said.
The three stood, leaving father and Cho Rong at the table and mother followed the two kids out. She smiled warmly when after passing grandmother’s house, they started holding hands.
Kyung Soo apologized again. “I’m sorry.”
Tae Sub smiled. “I know.”
Kyung Soo looked at his lover mockingly. “And you’re not?”
Tae Sub laughed and he ruffled his hair.
“Hey, you know I hate when you do that.”
They laughed before saying their goodbyes to Kim Min Jae. After that, they got in their cars and made their way home, thinking of each other all the way.