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‘Stressing out’ seemed like a terrific understatement to him. ‘Stressing out’ to Jae, meant cracking his knuckles constantly, messing up his pre-ruffled hair with shaking hands, tapping his icy fingers to the beat of ‘Shine’ by Pentagon in thrice the speed on his indented work-desk, yada yada yada. Currently, however, he was not only cracking his knuckles in mild frustration but nearly yanking his fingers out of their homely sockets. He wasn’t just tangling his hair up in panic but ripping it out of its roots in desperation (this wasn’t an exaggeration. It had happened twice that day so far, and it was downright disgusting.)

Maybe the man had a prowess for composing, writing lyrics, and thinking up tweets that he knew someday would earn him the Nobel Prize for Social Media or something, but he was afraid that he hadn’t been blessed in the field of date-planning.

He and Brian had been dating for around six months now and since then, it had constantly been Brian that had been planning their day-trips or sometimes even multiple-day trips (Jae recalled the weekend they’d spent by each other’s side in Vancouver, angel-blown flakes of snow toppling lightly over the quilted two and Jae, like an idiot, realising in that moment that he was quite in love with the man next to him). The younger always put his soul into the couple’s dates and was yet to disappoint. Jae wondered if he even could disappoint him; Brian could easily turn up in a clown suit with mismatched red and blue polka dots on either cheek and Jae would poke them and laugh ebulliently at the former.

Enough is enough, Jae had thought the previous month when he'd caught his boyfriend repeatedly checking his E-mail’s inbox lest that last-minute hotel booking they’d done had gotten cancelled, fretting something awful. After seeing the panic of responsibility prevent Brian from enjoying their what-was-to-be-relaxing trip, Jae knew that he would have to take the upper hand next time.

And so here he was. Trying to take the ‘upper hand’ and personally feeling that he was doing quite a bad job of it, having written a total of two words in the leather-bound notebook that he’d purchased long ago with the intention of becoming a best-selling poet (his career hadn’t really kick-started yet, but Jae was ever-hopeful). They were ‘Amusement Park’. Somewhere along the way, Jae realised that he’d unconsciously doodled a rather buff-looking Chicken Little along with an arrow pointing to the ‘Park’ scrawled onto the yellow page and a small label saying ‘that’s my surname’. He started to wonder whether he was down with the flu again.

Amusement Park. Two words that together formed such an ambiguous meaning. Two words with a Mariana-Trench full of depth. Would it be a water-park, a snow-park, or a land...park? Wouldn’t fire-parks be cool? They’d be mega hot though, I’d have to carry a bucketful of sun-screen with me. Jae started to realise why he wasn’t the silently elected date-planner between the two.

“This sucks,” he groaned, leaning his head against the top of the mahogany chair that he was seated upon, letting his feelings out via beautifully poetic words. He wanted to do so much better than this. He wanted to hire a whole marching band for Brian, he wanted to buy Amsterdam’s Garden of Tulips for Brian, and he wanted to show him just how much he meant to Jae. Brian deserved an entire galaxy and Jae was unfortunately not a massive body of hydrogen and helium, but a human with approximately thirty dollars in his bank account.

Jae’s phone decided to light up at that moment with that innocuous ding! which alerted him to Brian’s sent text. In an earnest attempt to somehow convert his immobile dining room chair into swivel chair, he skidded across to the other side of the room to where his phone dejectedly lay, his seat making terribly shrill noises where mahogany met with linoleum.

As soon as he fully understood each word, each punctuation mark of the message, Jae’s brain went into full-panic mode.

my b-boye uwu: i’ll be back in an hour!! have smth yummy ready for dinner boo

Fingers all of a sudden flimsy, he hastily typed back out a message which went along the lines of ‘take your time, you know im terrible at cooking! haha xoxox’.

Immediately ditching the idea of cooking anything near to a dinner for the expectant boyfriend (“It’s for a greater cause. A greater cause.”), Jae rushed up from the warm surface of his chair and grabbed his laptop from the shelf of some antique cupboard, opening it with enough gusto to unhinge the screen from the motherboard. Hands flying rapidly across his food-riddled keyboard (and brain flying even quicker, mind you), he managed to conjure up a few websites about amusement parks near him, having decided that there was no other appealing option.

“Bullshit. Bullshit again. Ah...bullshit. Bull—wait.”

As he readily scanned the page with eyes that were wide with fascination, he found something which sparked his interest in such a way that even he, the harshest critic, couldn’t dismiss it as ‘bullshit’.

“Firework parade on 4th August, 9 o’ clock! Be there or be square!”

A firework parade? Jae wasn’t too sure what that meant but it sounded exciting enough and he figured that Brian wouldn’t mind trying out exciting things. And its concept appeased him in a weird way, tying itself with his previous fire-park theory.

Also, Brian would be back in less than half an hour and there was the small technicality issue that that very day was the fourth of August and it would be nine o’ clock in...ah, ten minutes.
Dazedly getting up from his noodle-like position from the sofa that he’d thrust himself upon along with his steadily dying laptop, he wondered when he would be cast in a ‘Mission Impossible’ movie.

jae: STAY RIGHT WHERE U ARE IM COMING TO PICK YOU UP AND WE KIND OF UHM HAVE TO GO OUT LIKE RIGHT NOW DONT PANIC I SWEAR WE HAVEN’T BEEN EVICTED LET ME JUST PICK YOU UP NO OBJECTIONS HAHA LOVE U

my b-boye uwu: i’ve just reached the supermarket. hurry the fuck up and i swear if we’ve been evicted im throwing a goddamn hissy fit

Oh, how Jae loved his boyfriend.

--- 

For a start, Jae had no clue what to wear to an amusement park, having never been to one. The word ‘fireworks’ continued to bounce around in his mind up to the point where he seriously thought he should hire some fire-proof costumes for him and Brian, just in case things got messy. After contemplating this for a whole three minutes and then proceeding to check the time, he made an expression that was the embodiment of the phrase ‘fuck it’ and thrust some shorts on along with a polo shirt.

Now, he was bounding down the street to the supermarket, running like the madman he was and energetically waving to his boyfriend once he caught sight of him. Brian did not look very happy to see Jae, as implied by the small frown that shrouded the golden beauty of his face, but Jae was determined to change that by the end of the day. He, in that moment, prayed, prayed as hard as he could to all the forces of Physics and all the concepts of Chemistry that he’d never paid attention to.

Please let us enjoy today, please, please, please, please, pl--

“Good evening, Jaehyung. Mind telling me what this is all about?” Brian questioned, snarkily, shooting his boyfriend such a displeased look that Jae could physically feel his molten wrath. He tried focusing on some fruit in an old lady’s shopping trolley to take his mind off of his jittering nerves.

“Uh, well, you know. You look like you’ve had a hard day and I thought of the perfect pick-me-up for us both! We’re going to uh—“

The Regalis Park?" Brian was looking down at Jae's phone screen, apparently having glimpsed the name from its colourful website. "What is that?”

Jae tried to smile, parting his lips and giving Brian a personal display of his pearly teeth. “It’s an amusement park! I thought we could go there to lighten up.” Then, he saw his boyfriend’s face go through five different phases of surprise and agitation all in under a second and he thought it was a suitable time to shut up.

“Come on, just get in the car! I promise it’ll be fun, trust me!”

--- 

It had been ten minutes into the car ride and Jae, if he were honest, wasn’t feeling the fun as of yet. Neither was Brian, it seemed, who was fiddling with the radio stations and sighing at the song that came on every time. He stopped it on the eleventh or twelfth FM, though, and leaned back into his seat looking somewhat satisfied with the melodies that poured out of the car’s speakers.

Five minutes after the dulcet silence, Jae found that little alleyway of conversation and dived into it, wanting to end the agonising stream of his boyfriend’s sighs and wanting to hear his voice instead.

“I’m sorry for being so abrupt and...y’know, stupid. I know you’ve had a hard day and I’ve probably made it worse...uh, sorry.”

For a while, the silence crept back in, oozing through the little cracks of Jae’s nervous and scattered mind, until it was thankfully shattered by Brian, who cleared his throat and shut his eyes before speaking as if he was tired of having to look at the world around him.

“Don’t be sorry, babe. It’s none of your fault, I’m just...being unnecessarily grouchy I guess.” He settled further into his seat, suit crumpling and hair tousled (Jae wished that the cause of its messiness had been his hands, entangled in his black locks, but he could save that thought for another time).

“It’s just that management is so, so hard and sometimes I wish I’d never chosen it you know? I always dreamed of becoming a guest house manager, opening a place in which people could feel at home and enjoy their time with their loved ones. I don’t know if I can do it anymore.”

Jae watched as his boyfriend sank lower into the black leather seats of their car and felt several waves of empathy hurl themselves at his chest. He wanted to hold Brian in his arms, forehead against forehead, and tell him that everything was going to turn out okay, but there was the matter of seatbelts and road safety. Jae would be the first person to risk everything for Brian but the prospect of death seemed too high on this traffic-flooded road, so he (barely) refrained from carrying out the aforementioned action.

Instead, he went for some words which he dearly hoped would convey his sincerity and his love.

“Brian. Listen to me. Giving up should be the last thing on your mind, okay? You’re so strong, so capable of achieving all your dreams and I’m not going to let you mope around because you’ll get through this. You will, and I will be there at every step of the way to offer my patience and support. Mark my words, Kang, give it five years and you will hear everyone talking about your awesome, accommodating guest house.”

There was quiet. Then a low-decibel sniffle. Then:

“Which TED Talk did you get that from?”

Brian burst out laughing, eyes as red as Jae’s cheeks, his loud chuckles and accompanying soft claps serving as melodies to Jae’s ears. Okay, it was true, Jae had gotten that from a TED Talk and he wasn’t proud of it, but as he peered upon Brian’s grin, his star-filled eyes, and his tulip-coloured lips, he thought that, maybe, it was alright.

Hey, maybe Physics, Chemistry, and Biology were all going to be on his side today.

--- 

“How the hell did you even get your driving license?” Brian questioned, eyebrows raised in disbelief at Jae’s inability to park a car right.

“Well, you try parking it in reverse, Mister,” Jae retorted in frustration. Parking just wasn’t something that everyone was skilled at and Jae had the displeasure of being a part of that section of society. Plus, it was half past nine and the sound of fireworks rising into the blanketed night sky was making him even more agitated than he already was. He was half-tempted to leave the car astray in the middle of the main road and just drag Brian all the way to the gates of this fucking Regalis Park.

Eventually, he got it right and rather roughly opened his and Brian’s doors, his anxiety levels for the outcome of this Jae-planned date increasing at a rapid rate.

“Come on, the fireworks are right there! They’ll finish soon, hurry!” he called out to Brian, who was still in the process of preening his scathed suit, in a child-like tone, wanting so badly to not miss this chance.

“Coming, coming...oh, wow.”

Brian’s voice came out mystified and wondrous, so much so that Jae was immediately compelled to see what had made the younger react in this manner. And as he followed his line of gaze, there was no way Jae could object to the awed look in Brian’s coffee-coloured irises. The sight in front of them was truly spectacular.

A clearing had been made in the centre for the ongoing display of glittering sparks and fizzes of mini infernos, ranging from the colours of azure and teal to angry shades of plush crimson, fit for the plumes of feathers that make up a movie star’s boa. Dancers with faces painted like the moon itself, made a circle around a particularly furious topaz flame, jubilantly waving their hands in time to an upbeat song. They were on an elevated surface...oh, of course, it was a damn stage. And it was moving. Looking to his left, Jae spied differently coloured flames queued up behind this current one, waiting to be flaunted to the audience.

Around the parade, a variety of bejewelled rides littered the whole area, from daredevil roller coasters to fast-moving dodgems. The whole scene was delivered to them in a flurry of colours. To Jae, it looked like summer. The park was peppered with all the shades of every colour imaginable, yet it bled yellow to him; the colour of sentiment, passion, and good times.

“We live half an hour away from this place and we never got to know about it.” Brian’s voice came out croaky and high-pitched. It sounded like a flute to Jae’s well-tuned ears and Jae promptly decided that his lover’s voice was most definitely his favourite instrument.

“Eh, well who do you have to thank?” He shot him a smug look, eyebrows raised with pride, head cocked to the side. “Just kidding, babe. Let’s check it out.”

--- 

It wasn’t just that Jae liked holding hands with Brian, it was necessary to anchor the guy. The slightest clink of a bangle at a jewellery stall would catch his attention and Brian would not hesitate to run towards it and examine it for the next five minutes before looking up to smile at the seller and carry on walking. Then repeat the same process. Really, it was like dealing with a kid.

Not that Jae didn’t adore it. Seeing his boyfriend, who had been so dejected a mere hour ago, spark up like the illuminating fireworks that resounded at the back with dazzling beauty was really something that he knew he would remember even on his deathbed.

He didn’t tell him this often enough, but Brian Kang was special in Jae’s eyes. Not the kind of special you call your kid for encouragement. It was the beguiling kind of special. It was Brian’s quality to brighten people’s moods, to never hold a grudge for more than a week, to always, always wish for everyone’s happiness. It was his courage, his determination, his spirit. Those were the things that together, portrayed Brian as an actual treasure to Jae. He was worth so much and he deserved more.

So after his energy started dissipating and his moves started becoming more languid, Jae made sure to tighten the grip on his hand and squeeze it occasionally. And when Brian decided he’d had enough of roaming about and placed his silky head on Jae’s shoulder, snuggling it into the crook of his warm neck with small whimpers, Jae circled his arm around his waist and pulled him closer, pressing a love-laced kiss on Brian’s head.

“Do you wanna go home now, babe?”

In retaliation to his boyfriend’s statement, Brian shook his head persistently, causing little effect however as it was still buried in the crevice between Jae’s neck and shoulder. “We haven’t even been on the Ferris Wheel yet,” he whined, his voice coming out muffled and slightly scratchy.

“To the Ferris Wheel we go then! But first of all stand up by yourself, dude.” Jae hadn’t really meant to ruin the soft moment that had somehow ensued (the couple didn’t get a lot of those anyway; it was mostly just them yelling to each other about an assortment of TV shows).

“You bitch. I’m tired,” Brian huffed, tone suddenly so low and gravelly that it made Jae’s lower abdomen experience some turbulence. “Carry me to the Ferris Wheel?” The change in his timbre was enough to unleash a large amount of conflicted feelings inside of the poor date-planner, but Jae managed to restrain himself.

No. We are not going to be that couple. On no condition will I lift you up and carry you across two-hundred metres of land. This isn’t a Disney movie, Brian.”

A whole petty argument later, Jae was designated to the post of Brian’s personal mode of transport, and indeed did carry the triumphant man on his back across the expanse of the park. But it was okay. Jae believed in karma and it would bite Brian in the ass someday for being so mean to his boyfriend. Or so he hoped, fervently.

“It’s such a good view from up here, Jaehyung! Woah, I swear I can see Mars. Is that Pluto?” Brian chortled from the summit of Jae’s back (whatever that means), trying his level best to behave like a dumb-blonde without cracking up. Jae felt that his date idea had done a full one-eighty on him and wondered since when their agenda had changed from ‘enjoy the night’ to ‘bully the shit out of Park Jaehyung’.

“You astrological genius. Einstein is quaking.”

Brian’s happy laugh that sounded from above relieved some of the pain of carrying a fully-grown human on his back and Jae hoped that the same laugh would continue to bless his eardrums until they retired for the night. Admitting this, however, would be suicide.

“Hey! The queue for the Ferris Wheel isn’t that long. It’s our lucky day today! Or night. But saying ‘night tonight’ sounds too repetitive doesn’t it? It’s not right. Anyway, you can put me down now.”

Out of a foreign impulse, the moment Brian landed with both feet on the rocky ground, Jae didn’t take his time with pursuing formalities, and instantly covered his boyfriend in a bone-crushing hug, drenching him in the colour yellow. Smoky barbecues, roasting marshmallows on a moonlit night, and now about to hop onto a Ferris Wheel; intimacy under a layer of stars.

“Woah. Thanks,” was the concise but meaningful reply that ensued.

“No problem.”

“Excuse me, sir.” With a yelp, Jae turned to face a bearded man sticking his hand out in front of Jae, obviously expecting something. Jae ogled him for too long for it to be counted as friendly and was on the verge of saying, “sorry, I’m a beggar myself, bud,” when the guy cleared his throat and said: “Your money for tickets? To the Ferris Wheel?”

Oh.” His face was splashed with a red hue, his expression and body language both apologetic. “Sorry, uhm here you go. Five bucks each, right?”

As soon as he received the nod from the ticket-guy, his anxiety started to kick in again. Admittedly, he hadn’t planned this date well at all and wasn’t eligible to take any credit for the good and bad things that had happened through the course of this day. But, it had gone pretty well so far. More like brilliantly, actually, and if this last ride was going to ruin the whole night then Jae...would cry. Simply put.

Jae had been dubious about the existence of God for quite some time now, but nevertheless, he prayed to whatever hairy big dude was out there and begged for the universe to go easy on him for the remainder of the night. He would not allow anything to ruin Brian’s mood. He was at peace for once, not a single worry on his mind, and Jae intended to keep it that way. All he wanted was to shower that guy in constant happiness so that the iridescent galaxies that were forming in his eyes would never fade away.

As they stood in line, waiting for one of the cars to be vacated, Brian cast a strong grip on Jae’s hand, rubbing small circles onto his rough palm with just the right amount of pressure for it to be soothing. Somehow, Brian always knew how to be in the Goldilocks zone with Jae. Every single thing he did was perfect.

“Please leave the car quickly and safely...on you two go,” a staff member said, gently pushing Jae and Brian’s shoulders into the car and securing the gate so that neither of the two would die a really lame and painful death. Before the two knew it, they were soaring up to the top under the supervision of the Milky Way.

If this had been a fantasy movie, Jae would have totally stood up and caught a star to give to Brian as a souvenir or some cheesy shit like that. Unfortunately, this was not a movie (it was unfortunate because all movies like that were bound to have a happy ending. With real life, Jae couldn’t be sure) and the elder had a Serious Question to ask his boyfriend.

“So. Uh. I don’t really know how to say this but. Did you enjoy tonight? Maybe...?” Jae was doing his lopsided, cute-guy kind of smile on the outside, but internally all his organ systems were imploding. He hoped to Jesus that he’d done this shit right.

Brian was shaking his head slowly and under normal conditions Jae would not have been reluctant to jump out of their passenger car, which was slowly nearing the top of the wheel, but there was something else. Was that a...smile blossoming on Brian’s face? Looking strangely fond?

“Jae. You underestimate yourself.”

“O-Oh?”

“You don’t realise that...” Brian ducked his head, seemingly coy, but Jae knew it was to add emphasis to whatever he was going to say next. “You’re really amazing. I don’t know if in the six months that I’ve been dating you, I’ve ever told you that but there it is. You brighten up everyone’s lives. Every single thing you do makes me so inexplicably happy and I think you need more self-confidence. We all do but...” he was now looking at Jae and they were eye-to-eye and he was so endearingly beautiful—“You really are something, Jaehyung.”

Roses bloomed in all their regal colours on the surface of Jae’s cheeks and his glasses felt slightly steamy. A brief glance up and he couldn’t see any other passenger cars before them—they had made it to the apex of the wheel and above them lay nothing but a pervasive celestial field of stars and galaxies and, well, the universe. Something inside of Jae told him that the same thing lay to his right as well. And to his right was a man, an ordinary twenty-four year old man whose name was Brian Kang. And this man just so happened to be Jae’s universe.

“I would kiss you but I don’t wanna resort to clichés. Can I just fist-bump you?”

And as soon as he heard that familiar laugh that he knew he would never get tired of, he knew that the night had ended well. Another thing he was sure of was that he was marrying the bastard sitting next to him that was currently laughing his ass off, but that was sometime ahead in the future.

Jae smiled and saw yellow.