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Freedom

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Taeyong was lonely. He knew that he was lonely and so did his husband.

It was not by far Taeyong's fault that worlds had collided as such.

Taeyong knew that he would not have preferred the alternative, but that did not make his present any better.

Taeyong ached, his body ached. His husband had not touched him since the wedding night, only doing so because it was necessary and needed.
They weren't even alone, as the covers of the bed had been raised and curtains drawn. Then the man had done his deed, ending it with a slap to Taeyong's butt, as he moved to the other side. The next day, the maids had confirmed that the sheets had indeed been dirty and lo and behold, began Taeyong's descent into insanity as a locked-up trophy wife.

He had spent the entirety of his last year surrounded by people who talked about him, talked of him, and talked around him, yet non, who talked to him.

He was lying in his bed; in some night clothes he had changed into after he had returned from another night of being his husband's arm candy. Though given his current state, it more likely that he had become a caretaker in public. His husband was old, and elderly. The man had spent the first forty years of his life tirelessly working hard to build an empire, and had spent the next thirty living in its glory. The company had been doing well, not that great, but enough to afford itself, but then Taeyong's mother had to marry him off to the highest bidder, and their marriage, a business deal in plain sight, which would only be accepted by proof of first night spent in each other’s arms had been arranged. He sure hoped that that whatever sum he had been sold off for, into this marriage was worth it.

He had become so vengeful, he had always had a strong personality, but it was always cushioned with his inherent kindness, and other good qualities, or so he had heard from his relatives. The relatives who always knew the harsh truth. So, it would not surprise him, when he had run into some of them at this last party and heard that while there was a chance of Taeyong to be freed from this marriage, his mother had not accepted it, instead focusing on directing more funds for his husbands company.

His cousin Taeyeon had hugged him while saying goodbye, and to anyone else, it would seem that it was a heartfelt interaction, albeit a bit too close for people who weren't actually siblings. She had spoken the words on his neck, so that no one could get the gist, after all, appearances were important, but had also said, that something big was coming, and all he had to do now, was to lay low.

That is exactly what he was doing.

His husband had complained of chest pains and was dropped at his suite in the hospital, which he preferred to their actual house, and they had two. Taeyong requested to leave the city for a while and went to their estate, a good 45 minutes away, where all the servants gossiped about how sick his husband was, and if Taeyong was getting sick by grief.

These villagers had somehow managed to paint an idealistic story from jagged truths that were Taeyong's life. He certainly supported their creativity.

The bed he was on was huge, a king sized four posters, with curtains down and flowing. The windows had been left open, as the room had become a bit stuffy, and cold air was making the pale pink curtains billow around. It was pretty to look at. Taeyong might have looked at them all day, as he hadn't left the bed except to relieve himself in the past two days. He had reached here early morning on Sunday, after the gala on Saturday evening and had, after having breakfast prepared for him, gone to sleep. He had yet to wake up.

He was accepting no visitors, as all the maids had been told that he was resting. His husband was possessive enough to have the entire staff be females, because he knew Taeyong didn't swing his way. He would have loved to be caught with his hands down some of their skirts, only to see the expression on his husband when the news would reach him, but so far, it hadn't happened.

The old guy was already living in the hospital. Taeyong did not want to shock him into death, yet.

Taeyong had his entire body inside the heavy blankets probably meant for extreme winters, but Taeyong felt cool even under them. It was probably because of this, that he did not notice the door opening, or a figure approaching the bed.

Taeyong felt the dip in the bed, and felt fear, none of the staff would come to his bed, he tried his best to get out from under the heavy blankets, but before he could, a hand came and rested on his head. It massaged his hair, and Taeyong groaned. He had been so touch starved. Taeyong had always been clingy, even as a child, and the last interaction he had was with Taeyeon, but even then, he had been too busy paying attention to her words, feeing the heartbreak that stemmed from them, to really cherish it.

A part of the blanket was lifted, and another body came to lie down beside his. He felt a hand go-through his hair and his body perked up, leaning in to the touch. Taeyong almost melted. He turned around and in a vice like grip, had his arms around the long neck of this welcomed intruder. He felt a leg come between his own, muscled and sculpted from the daily visits to the gym, against his own which replicated a stick.

Taeyong had always been skinny, but the last three months, his appetite had halved.

Taeyong's leg entangled with the other pair, and he still didn't feel enough, rocking both of them until the warm body was flat, and Taeyong's own on top of it, leeching the heat, off. Taeyong took a few deep breaths and in a while, felt tethered, more human, grounded to his present than he had before. The massage to his scalp stopped, only for the hands to shift downwards, one hand holding the nape of his neck, thumb in circles against his skin, and other, inside his shirt, pressing against the small of his back, seemingly warming all his nerves.

Taeyong had heard stories about exes that made them be monsters, but for Taeyong, his was almost a god.
He breathed in the valley between his neck, it used to be a little bit less longer, and a little bit softer, but even the feel of his protruding Adam’s apple against his temple was now welcomed.

Taeyong was used to this since he was far younger, when they had first taken to each other, at the ripe age of thirteen. It had been so innocent then, two boys in misery from the death of a parent finding comfort in each other.
He had lost his dad, the other his mom. Sure, the situation hadn't been the best, for Taeyong's dad was in the same car as this other women, both married, and relations between the both hidden from the world. It could have been anything to giving an acquaintance a lift int he rainy weather, to an illicit affair behind the back of both their spouses, the story was taken to the grave, but their kids did not blame them. They had been both closer to the departed parent.

"You are so lonely Taeyong. I need you alive." The voice said, soft and warm, just like him.
Taeyong welcomed the movement of the throat against his face, it made him feel more human.

"Don't wanna." Taeyong said, shaking his head, and then the body under him shifted a bit.
"Don't do that. You know I am ticklish." Taeyong then got to take the first good look at the face. He had last seen him half a year ago, when he had been banished outside the country, or assigned to overseeing relations and development in a different branch, in a different country.
His lips were full, and his face classically handsome. He looked just the perfect man, especially in his suit and tie, but Taeyong knew that man beneath, knew his passion for piercings, and habit of excessive cuddling. He revered in it.

"How are you here? I thought you were banned from coming home till Christmas, after that maid rattled on you visiting me on my birthday." Taeyong voice came out a bit scratchy, he probably should delve more in the act of hydration.

"What can I say, your husband is a bitch, and he can't keep me away from my precious baby, the apple of my eyes, and the object of my affections."
"I am very sure that the object of your affections is grumbling about your absence right now, while cursing you for leaving your brother with him."

"No, not at all, you see the object of my affections is packing up our home in Bangkok, and coming back home in the private jest I sent him, while my younger brother is deciding on his most sombre suit. He actually wanted your opinion, something about teal and emerald not being just right, but not black of and something that will go well with his silver hair."

"Silver hair?" Taeyong repeated.
"Yes, it has faded to a soft grey now though."

"Why is he not wearing his sequins? I remember Ten whining about how he had ordered sequin suits of every colour for his birthday."
"You can't wear sequins and glitter to a funeral Taeyong." The voice was in mock chastisement. And Taeyong felt something, like lightening go through his body.

He got up on his elbows, the other's arms still at the back of his waist.
"Whose funeral? Johnny?" The younger asked, feeling his heartbeat like crazy, he was worried he would get a heart attack now.

"Oh!" Johnny said is a melodious tone, and Taeyong knew that the older had planned this out, the most elaborate way to break the news, Taeyong loved it when the older did it to others, but to him, not so much.

"My love, didn't I tell you? I received the most unfortunate news that my loving father has passed away this morning, making me and my bothers orphans, but also the new heads of NeoTech. It's a shame though, that I have to share my voting rights with his widow. Do you think he will let me have my way, or will I have to fight him for every issue now, since you know, he becomes a Director as well.”? Taeyong gasped, swallowed, and then choked, all int he same breath, and when he tried to exhale it out, it was a sob.

HE threw his arms around Johnny and cried, cried the loneliness, the mistreatment , the pain and the humiliation away.

Johnny, his first love, his best friend, stepson and now Co-Director just let him, the way he always did. It was so easy to love Lee Taeyong, and he still did, you don't forget your favourite person. Johnny was just not in love with Taeyong, something they both had simultaneously realized, on the other side of a phone, separated by an ocean.

Johnny had even asked for permission to date his current boyfriend from Taeyong, and they had been the best of friends, until, Taeyong was married off, to Johnny's own father.

He had even asked for him, saying that his elder child needed to be disciplined, and the youngest controlled.
Taeyong as a stepfather had been a failure, but it was something that no one, except his now late husband held against him.

Something hit Taeyong just then, a lot of somethings, a possibility of realizations of what it meant that he was no longer married.

"I can go out of the house when I want" he said between sobs and Johnny nodded, comforting him, but that did not stop Taeyong.
"I can watch movies that I want. I can play music. I can eat what I want. I can wear what I want. I can, I can meet you and talk to you and visit you and Ten and Donghyuck. I can visit my family. I don't have to, don't have to be his wife. I don't have to sit and listen to older men talk discuss about me as if I am not there. I am, I am allowed to move as I want. I , I can colour my hair." Taeyong almost screeched at the last part, and Johnny had tears in his eyes. Such simple acts, such simple things, that Taeyong had been forbidden to do, in the past almost two year.
Johnny would have looked up to his father, at least as a businessman, never a man, but even that, any shred of paternal affection had left his body.

" In three day. The funeral is in three days. We will be hounded by the media, and it will be a mess. There will be board meetings and change in management and division of properties, and a lot of things, but I promise you one thing, in three days, you attend a funeral and fake a few tears, though I am sure the tears will be real, tears of your freedom. You have to attend the meetings, assert your dominance, so that the shareholders know and don't try to manipulate you, and then, in a week, you can go. Anywhere and everywhere you want. I'll even send Haechan to accompany you.

Okay?" Johnny's hands were at both sides of his head, eyes maintaining contact, and Taeyong nodded.

He knew how important the company was to Johnny, and he owed this to Johnny.
"God I was so happy, I though I would kiss you, and even Ten said I could." Johnny said, and then Taeyong had to laugh.
He leaned forward, pecking his stepson's cheek, and then resting his forehead on his shoulder.

"Take me home, Johnny." was all Taeyong said, and Johnny got up, lifting him with him, ordering the maids to send his stuff to the main house.
When a maid ran towards him with his phone, Taeyong took it and clutched it in his hands.
Taeyong was barefoot, but it didn’t matter, as he reached the car, the red convertible they had picked together, when Johnny had turned 21, and sat in the front sit, legs up, seat belt on.

Johnny sat next to him and begin driving. Taeyong asked him to stop by a bridge on the way, and got off, looking at the pretty scene, before throwing his phone as hard as he could against the rocks. He saw the screen break and heard it too, with a sound that was ever satisfying, and got back int he car.

Johnny looked at him with questioning eyes, and Taeyong shrugged.
"he had my phone wired."

Johnny just drove them home, to his own apartment in the city.