It was over and done with. Black Rose ( “Abeoji,” Chisoo thinks. He doesn’t think he can ever not call him abeoji.) has been silenced. And for the last few months, Chisoo finally feels like the water runs clear when he washes his hands.
There are still nightmares, flashes of terror in the back of his eyelids. Days where he feels like there are still patches of dried blood under his nails and Gitae has to stop him from scrubbing the skin raw, holds him close, murmurs soft words in his ears, gentle hands holding his still.
But it’s been fine. It’s been enough, to have Gitae with him, in his space, in his home, tangled up in his arms while they sleep. They offer each other sweet kisses across cheekbones in the morning. Quick kisses in the afternoon when they both get a break from helping at the restaurant. Passionate and slow kisses when they’re alone in the evening.
So it’s a surprise, although some part of Chisoo should have known it was coming, to see Uncle Black Leopard walk into the restaurant, boisterous, loud, and casual, flanked by two or three men as guards. They easily order several dishes as well as drinks from Gitae. Chisoo sees rather than hears the words, “Mad Dog.”
When Chisoo walks over, drinks on his tray, knife still hidden under his shirt, smile on his face, Uncle Black Leopard gratefully takes the drinks and says, “Thank you, Flying Dagger.”
Chisoo bows. “Uncle, may I ask how you are doing?” Why are you here?
“My nephew, I heard congratulations were in order.” To thank you.
Gitae’s sister wanders over with the small dishes, plates of kimchi and pickled radish. “Oh Chisoo, do you know these customers?”
Black Leopard smiles. “This is my nephew! I came to see the one who has captured his heart!”
Gitae’s sister smiles. “Ah so there is family left for Chisoo, hmm? I am glad to meet you.”
“Same! Same!” Black Leopard says jovially. Chisoo hates how honest Uncle sounds. “Although I am afraid I will not be able to see you again for some time. May I speak to Gitae and Chisoo alone?”
Gitae’s sister calls him over and leaves them to chat in the corner. They are within eyesight of her in the kitchen, but also Black Leopard’s guards at the table. Chisoo wonders if this is a blessing or a curse. But with Gitae standing next to him, expression neutral, Chisoo thinks he has a shot at silencing the old man if necessary.
“Uncle, to what do we owe the honor.”
Gitae only nods his head and says, “Boss.”
Black Leopard waves them off. “You did me a favor, Flying Dagger, dealing with your father. I came to give you a wedding present.”
Gitae and Chisoo look at each other briefly. “Not necessary, Uncle.”
“I insist. My good nephew is leaving the family it seems. As is my good hunting companion .”
Gitae and Chisoo pause. “L-Leaving?” Gitae asks.
“Yes, yes!” Black Leopard hands them an envelope and extends his hand. Chisoo takes it and is pulled into a hug. “So long as you two keep quiet, so will I,” he whispers into Chisoo’s ear.
It is a small kindness, probably the most Black Leopard can do without risking two former hitmen coming after him.
But it is enough.
“Thank you, Uncle,” Chisoo says. Gitae mirrors his thanks.
“Hahaha, young kids these days!” Black Leopard says loudly, as if such jovial talk could dispel the serious aura around them. “Now come, drink with me and my friends. I will not be able to celebrate with you both properly, you know.”
The night ends without incident. Black Leopard and Gitae’s sister drink with each other, telling stories of when Chisoo and Gitae were little. All of Black Leopard’s stories were fake.
But that night, the nightmares don’t come and sleeping with Gitae in his arms is a little easier.