This is the place where he'd been the happiest. The place where he knows he’d been undeniably, unconditionally, happy. That had been a long time ago. Now he's here again. He'd hoped that maybe it was the place that made him happy, that coming here, he would find it again.
But he's been here for many days now. He is not happy. He thinks now that maybe it was not the cottage, with it's low ceilings and creaking wooden floor, that had made him happy.
The cottage is his family's secret. Nestled in the mountains and hidden in the white fog of the morning and bathed in the golden light of the setting sun. Jongsuk had never cared for it. Woobin had loved it. Woobin had wanted to spend the rest of their lives here. Walking in the woods with the forest silent and watchful around them, Woobin had made it his life's ambition to kiss Jongsuk under every tree. Jongsuk would curse silently at the bark digging into his back but gasp into Woobin's mouth, feeling the warmth spreading against the autumn chill.
Jongsuk would wake up in the mornings, the blankets twisted around his body and Woobin would be already awake, watching him with amused eyes. Going to sleep all day? He would ask. And Jongsuk would grin and bury his face in Woobin's chest and fall back into sleep.
He'd been in love. The head over heels, forever and ever, kind and Jongsuk had believed in it. Believed it would last forever. That Woobin would last forever. He wonders now if he should have known better, that nothing good ever lasts. That the best thing life has ever given him was the thing that would hurt him the most.
He watches the smoke curl around his fingers in the chilly evening air, feels the burn in his lungs and wonders how long this would last. Wonder when he would stop seeing Woobin, there sitting cross legged in the floor next to the fire place, there by the window watching the colours change in the sky. Here, by his side, long arms wrapped around his waist.
I love you. That deep voice would say. Jongsuk would hear the smile in his voice, feel the warmth of his body and the joy uncurling in his heart and would refuse to look. Doesn't want Woobin to see the tears in his eyes.
They should never have gone back to the city. Should have stayed in the forest forever. Should have stayed where there are no drunk idiots driving cars, no roads that need crossing and no phone calls coolly informing him that his 'friend' had been involved in a car accident and had suffered severe, life threatening injuries.
Jongsuk had hated it. The hospital with its sterile corridors, perpetually kind nurses and machines that measured the fading of Woobin's life with lines and beeps. He had hated everything but never for a moment believed that it was inevitable.
I love you. He'd said, stroking the back of Woobin's hand, forcefully keeping the tears in check. I want to walk in the forest with you. Wake up with you and fall asleep with you and kiss you under the stars. I want to marry you, Kim Woobin, so you better fucking wake up and get me a ring. A diamond ring. And a honeymoon to somewhere fantastic.
Wake up. Please.
Woobin had woken up. He had looked at Jongsuk with confused eyes and Jongsuk had run. He'd run here to the last place where he'd been happy. A place where Woobin had known who he was, where he never knew of trauma related amnesia and Jongsuk could pretend every night that maybe when he wakes up in the morning Woobin would be there. But he's learnt now that even in a beautiful place like this, nightmares can still haunt you.
One day Jongsuk comes home from his daily walk in the woods. There's a figure standing by the door. Jongsuk thinks he's dreaming.
I remember. That deep voice says. I remember you.
Jongsuk tries to breathe.
You went for a walk without me.
You were late, Jongsuk tells the love of his life. I thought I'd lost you forever, he doesn't say.
I'm sorry. I won't be late again, Woobin promises him. Jongsuk knows there are tears in his eyes. He doesn't care.
You better keep your promises, Kim Woobin.
Woobin smiles. I will.