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small hours

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He has to go straight to work after they land in Seoul, having run out of vacation days and sick days, too, but he sees her to his apartment first.

“Sorry it’s small,” Mun tells her, depositing his small travel bag on the floor by the front door. Sun keeps hold of her own; she does not leave bags by the door, but this is not her apartment. Though her name is cleared, her apartment is no longer hers, and she hasn’t allowed herself to begin thinking of how, or if, she will find a new one. “And—not very clean.”

She simply looks at him for a moment. “I’ve been to prison,” she says finally. “It was smaller and dirtier.”

He grins, unfailingly charmed. She is not used to being so funny. “That’s right,” he says, reaching out and taking her bag from her, placing it next to his own. “I keep forgetting that you’re a hardened criminal, Ms. Bak. And a professional actor, and a gangster, and a DJ, too.”

Mun lingers only long enough to beg her to eat his food—the little that is in the cabinets—and to show her around, and then he kisses her once, sweetly, before he leaves. The apartment feels much larger when the door shuts behind him.

“Oh, God,” Lito sighs blissfully, leaning against a kitchen counter. “You love him.”

“For goodness’ sake,” Sun says. “Shut up.”

Mun’s apartment is not dirty, but it is messy. His clothes dangle out of the laundry bin, snaking down to the floor. His bed has been made since he last slept in it, but halfheartedly, the blanket rumpled. A plant dies on the windowsill in the living room.

He likes movies, she notes, examining the large collection stored in a box under the television. There are pictures on the shelf next to the television. Mun with friends or coworkers; Mun with his teacher, flushed and mop-haired after a fight; Mun with a man who must be his father, as their grins are identical. She finds a coffee-stained picture of herself lying on the kitchen counter, where she assumes he forgot it.

She checks in with her cluster once she has exhausted the possibilities for exploration. Most of them are in transit or seeing others off, except for Kala, still in the hospital, and Wolfgang with her. “They are releasing me tomorrow,” Kala says, squeezing Sun’s hand. “No more worrying for you. Only happiness.”

Sun smiles back. “I would settle for a good night’s sleep.”

She takes a long, hot shower. When she comes out, she smells like Mun had that day in the cemetery, albeit less sweaty. Like plain white soap, a hint of clean melon. She doesn’t have any fresh clothes to put on in her bag, so in the end she wears the shirt she traveled in and a pair of shorts she finds in his closet. His sheets hold that same scent, the one that now sticks to her.

She jerks awake when the front door opens, the sound loud through the quiet and the thin wall between her and its source. She relaxes slightly, squinting less as her surroundings become familiar, and then she hears, “Ms. Bak?”

She doesn’t say anything, and a second later, the bedroom door creaks open. The semidarkness of evening outside the bedroom window has become the black-and-silver glow of a city late at night, but she can see that it’s Mun in the doorway. He draws back, clearly worried that he’s disturbing her, but she says, “It’s alright.”

“Sleep,” he says. “You need it.”

She listens while he moves gently about the room, preparing for a shower, and at some point, she falls asleep again. She wakes sometime later, her mouth cottony, to find him a warm, unmoving weight next to her. It’s still dark, but a glance at the clock on his bedside table tells her it will be dawn soon. Her other selves are all asleep or close to it, a rare occurrence, though she is the farthest east. Capheus dreams of chanting crowds growing angry; Sun brushes against him as he sleeps, and his dream ebbs away, forgotten.

She lets Mun sleep, although she does not expect to fall back to sleep herself. They’d shared a bed in Europe, and she found him a surprisingly easy bedmate. Had she allowed herself to think of it, she would have expected him to cling, or perhaps kick and roll, but instead he curls into himself, forming almost a ball. She indulges herself, and curls around him.

He wakes about an hour after she does, and mumbles something, drowsy. “Shh,” Sun says. “It’s me.”

“You’re warm,” he says, uncomplaining. She smiles against his shoulder.

He got more sleep on the plane than she did, as he was unencumbered by the separate, distinct jetlag of seven other people. Still, he’s slow to rise, until Sun drags his coffee table to sit near the windows, clearing out a space in the middle of the floor. “The TV,” she says, when he drifts into the room, yawning. “You may wish to move it.”

He does, grinning. “We should try not to break my furniture.”

Sun shrugs, then takes her place in the middle of the room. “I’ll keep that in mind, Detective.”

They move through their stretches together in a comfortable silence. When Sun opens her eyes, finally, Mun is watching her. “What,” she says.

“Nothing,” he says. “I like looking at you.”

She eyes him for a moment, then eases into a fighting stance, the movement as natural as breathing. “I don’t know if I like being looked at.”

Mun is unperturbed. “I hope you’ll get used to it,” he says. “Because I don’t think I can stop.” She kicks; he catches her ankle, his fingers warm and calloused, and it begins.

They cannot be loud, must restrain their grunts and cries, but Sun isn’t too worried. If his neighbors aren’t bothered by the thuds and the sounds of bodies colliding in various ways, a bit of yelling should not bother them. He fights like he’s missed it; he can’t stop smiling, even when she catches him hard across the jaw and chin with the heel of her hand. It doesn’t take long to get him to the floor, and the fight devolves into frantic wrestling until she pins him, one hand firm at the base of his throat. He goes still, as he must, and looks up at her.

“Ms. Bak,” he says, before one of his hands moves to clasp her wrist. She thinks he’s going to pull her hand away, admit defeat, but he doesn’t. He presses down, strengthening the pressure on his neck.

She laughs, high-pitched and startled in the quiet of the room.

They have to be able to fight without ending up like this. But she doesn’t think she’ll mind if, sometimes, it ends like this.

She shimmies out of his shorts, tugs his sweatpants down far enough so that she can sit on him and bounce, forcing herself to go slowly here but unable to stave off the bit of desperation that leaks in. His hand is tight on her wrist, and her hand is still pressed against his windpipe.

At this, unsurprisingly, he is noisy. It’s mostly gibberish, a lot of swearing and “yes” and the occasional “harder.” She likes that he stays mostly still, letting her do as she pleases, even as he calls out to her almost incessantly.

When she comes, shuddering through it on top of him, he says, “Ms. Bak, please.”

Sun grinds down, her extended arm trembling slightly. She’s going to be sore from this, from the effort of holding him to the floor. She will savor the feeling. “Say it again,” she says when he just looks up at her, eyelids heavy and cheeks pink.

He’s trembling, too. “Ms. Bak,” he says. “Please, Ms. Bak.”

She rides him till he comes, with a soft little oh that makes her feel an inexplicable lurch of almost-tearfulness. It’s protectiveness, she realizes. Protectiveness and fondness, love. She leans down and kisses his hair.

She lets go of his throat, finally, and shifts into a less uncomfortable position, her weight resting on his thighs. Mun reaches up and touches the skin gingerly, but he doesn’t wince. It hasn’t had a chance to bruise yet, although the skin is more than slightly pink. He smiles up at her, relaxed now, practically on the verge of falling asleep on the floor. Far away and nearby, Sun feels Nomi stirring, her mind already buzzing, wedding plans to be made; Will blinks awake before burrowing back down next to Riley; the others are drifting, as warm and real as Mun under her.

Later today, Mun will have to go to work. Before then, they will make love, tenderer this time, and he may call her Sun. Tomorrow, they will visit her teacher and Jindo. Soon, they will fly back to France for the wedding.

Now, they sit on the floor and watch the sun rise, warm and full over the skyline.