The smell of cigarettes overwhelmed Hyunwoo’s senses.
If there was one thing his boyfriend hated the most, it was smoking. The man knew it would be selfish on his part to smoke as if he wasn’t there. He couldn’t help it though; his lover was leaving. Maybe if he’d play around with the things he normally wasn’t allowed to do, Kihyun will reconsider his decision of moving away. Maybe he’ll still see him as the injured college student that he met on one of his trips to the clinic. Maybe he’ll realize how much Hyunwoo needed him by his side, that he wasn’t really ready to let him go. Maybe... it was a fool’s hope.
He’d be gone by tomorrow.
The thought creeped into his mind in the worst possible moment, yet he knew he was left with only that. Their naked bodies remain tangled. The small man he had loved slept so soundly while wrapped around his arms. His hair, always kept neat in an updo, was a mess on top of pillows. He had told Hyunwoo about his supposed trip too casually. “Well, six months won’t be too long.” He remember him say. The taller one protested against the idea, but who was he to hold him back from his future? He was merely a pit stop - a place to rest and leave later. The man brushed off the thought.
Hyunwoo furrowed his brows as he listened to the light snores coming from the body next to him. He knew it would take him months to hear them again.
Kihyun’s skin was untainted, clean from any tattoos or scars that could litter one’s body. He told him that the hospital he applied for didn’t accept inked applicants. Even hickeys can never go unnoticed, so he didn’t let him leave love bites when they slept together. He didn’t even allow Hyunwoo to put light kisses in fear of the marks. The man obliged silently with no complaints. Every day his longing had grown stronger and stronger. He desperately wanted to touch him, to feel the roughness of his skin against his. To feel the love and intimacy they had when they made love.
Last night, Kihyun let him.
Hyunwoo’s name left his lips like a fervent prayer, as if it was the last time he would ever get to mutter it. His hands had left marks all over his body, teeth bit down until blood oozed. He had kissed every inch of skin, had caressed every part he could, but it was still not enough. Kihyun still had to leave after that. His longing felt greater than before.
“Jagiya.” Hyunwoo whispered, nudging him as softly as possible. Bright brown eyes fluttered awake.
“Morning, Nunu.” He smiled lazily.
“Morning, Jagi.” The taller one tried to smile back, yet the curve of his lips faltered. “You’re going to be late if you don’t get up.”
Kihyun was quick on his feet, a remarkable trait that he had long trained himself to have. He untangled himself from his boyfriend and grabbed an article of disposed clothing from the floor. Hyunwoo wondered why the man seemed unbothered by the fact that he was moving to Busan today. Maybe it was the tinge of alcohol still in his veins that made his lips whisper. “Are you sure about this?” It was more of a plea than a question.
“about what?” Kihyun turned to look at him, his fingers combing through his short brown locks. He was even more beautiful with his hair down. It’s such a shame that his profession required it hidden under gel and hairspray.
Hyunwoo slipped into his boxers as he too crawled out of bed. “Hospital work.” Kihyun furrowed his brows at the statement. He continued combing through his hair, ignoring his boyfriend’s presence. The strong smell of cigarettes made his nose crinkle. The nurse knew his lover had smoked while he laid asleep in bed. It made him feel disappointed. “I mean I always thought you didn’t want to. You always told me you wanted to pursue photography.” Hyunwoo added.
Kihyun refused to look at the sight behind him. He knew that the man was smoking cigarettes again, one thing he despised the most. “Hyunwoo. We talked about this.”
His eyes momentarily darted towards his boyfriend, the stick he held turned cherry red as smoke filled the air. “Besides, it’s only six months.” Kihyun tried to convince himself that it was for the best. He tried to show his boyfriend that it was all fine, that he would be back after the training and the distance wasn’t something he should be worried of. He tried to remain nonchalant despite his emotions overwhelming him. Kihyun had always feared for his future; it was the unknown that always haunted their present. The man knew that he eventually had to leave for Busan to look for greener pastures. He didn’t want to. Hyunwoo’s questions made it harder to do so.
Hyunwoo paid no heed to whatever ruckus the man was making. “Well, for all I know, you’ll be wasting those months stuck in a job you never really liked in the first place.” The taller one’s eyes widen as the nurse swiped the stick away from his hands. He was too preoccupied to even notice his boyfriend marching up to him. Kihyun crushed the cigarette on the ash tray beside their bedside table. He shook his head in disapproval when he saw the newly burnt sticks inside it.
“I’m only twenty-three. There’s still a lot of time.” Kihyun seemed fixed with his decision. Hyunwoo could only stare at the face he grew to love. A sad smile traced the nurse’s lips, his eyes stoic yet there was something in them that Hyunwoo couldn’t quite understand. “and you underestimate me too much. I survived nursing school. How bad can it be?” The words flew out of his mouth almost unwillingly. Hyunwoo knew he was just trying to convince him that it was going to be okay.
“Do you really want to do this?” Hyunwoo asked, all of his mixed emotions poured into that sentence.
“Yeah.” He answered, gulping down a lump in his throat. “The nursing experience can really help with you know...” His condition, the nurse meant to say. Ever since he knew about Hyunwoo’s diagnosis of an irregular heartbeat, Kihyun had remained watchful. The man’s frown deepened at his words. As much as he found it to be quite endearing and sweet, the nurse didn’t have to do it if he didn’t want to.
“You don’t have to, Kihyunnie.” He used a nickname he used to torture him with. Hyunwoo really looked at Kihyun this time. He noticed the bags barely noticed under his eyes, how his skin was dull against his and his once vibrant aura dimmed down. The changes were subtle but the man knew much he had suffered while studying. He would often catch him sleeping between breaks.
Kihyun smiled once again. He really loved how sweet his boyfriend can be when it came to things like this. The man reached out to cup one of his lover’s cheek. He placed a soft kiss on his chin - his favorite spot. “Hyunwoo.” There was a slur to his name that made Hyunwoo sigh. “I love you.”
There was no arguing with that. However, being in love with him wasn’t enough to ensure Kihyun’s disposition. “Are you happy with what you’re about to do?” He asked.
“I’ll try to be.”
Heavy silence filled the room. Hyunwoo knew Kihyun wasn’t in good terms with the decision he made. He hated how stubborn the nurse can be and he hated himself even more for not fighting for what he believed him. Hyunwoo loved him so much and yet he felt insignificant when compared to him. His lover was a graduate, a registered nurse in this case, ready to save people of their suffering. He was only a college student working for an accounting degree, still struggling to find his place.
Besides, Kihyun was doing this for him.
“I’ll be back Hyunwoo, I promise.”
That was three years ago.
Hyunwoo had never seen him again ever since.