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No Longer Ambiguous

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Dongman had an oral fixation. His tutors and coaches over the years noted how he would purse his lips or chew the ends of pencils when he was deeply focused on something. When he got his first kiss, from that girl in high school, it was life changing. He loved kisses, how they felt, how they sounded, and how it just got deep into him.

It’s the connect. While Dongman didn’t have the words for it, he did recognize the satisfaction of knowing where his punches and kicks landed. To hit is to connect, and kisses are the deepest kind of connection one can make. It’s how he could render a poised and elegant lady like Hye-ran into a needy wanton woman under him.

Dongman thought he knew how kisses worked, then he kissed Ae-ra.

He knew kisses to be like putting on a pair of glasses, but it was still a shock. In what felt like seconds, Ae-ra changed from the loud frizzy-haired girl with the faint whiff of seaweed to Ae-ra, his date with doe eyes and a shy gaze.

“I won't let you go again. Let's stop making detours." Dongman said,

Ae-ra almost stumbled on her own two feet, but he caught her.

“Stand strong.” He urged, but clung onto the plea, "We’ve kissed, and I don't know anything about dating or whatever. If we kiss, it's day one. Let's date.”

And he was so sure that a yes would follow, but that shocked pause terrified him. Maybe he would have even felt better if she shoved him away and yelled at him for being impulsive.

“Let's date.” He nearly shook her, needing to hear her say something – anything.

A no would break his heart, but it would never be said that he didn’t ever try.

"I said let's date."

She lifted her eyes to look at him, and nodded. Relief is often described as a wash, but to Dongman it was a crash.

“Since we're dating…” He breathed, “I want it again…”

And he did.


With what few romance novels he picked up, he read kissing described as being able to make one melt into another. He never thought of it that way before. Dongman understood it only when he finally came up for air with Ae-ra, helping her as she found her balance again.

“Long day, huh?” He asked.

Ae-ra nodded.

She allowed him to hold her hand as they walked towards the beach. Nearby, Jang Ho was showing off to Ms. Hwang and lighting up some fireworks. It would have been so romantic if only he didn’t look so ridiculous and kid-like with them, Dongman thought.

He dropped down to the sand, and Ae-ra followed, letting her hand go as they watched the sea roll in. They have always been by each other’s side, but this was the first time they sat next to each other not as friends, but two people dating.

“Think of me.” He told her, “Don’t think of anyone else. Forget that vaccine and wrist guy.”

“But that guy was you.”

That was a punch he could never block. He felt prickly as she likened him to a pimple – annoying when he was there, but hurt when she tried to pop it.

“You can’t be my guy friend.” She said, her gaze downcast with worry, “If you go back to being a tricky guy friend after kissing me, then I don’t think I can live.”

What she said next were the most honest words he ever heard from her without being rendered to tears,

“I really, really, really like you.”

She couldn’t even look, but he couldn’t take his eyes off her.


Ae-ra finally met his stare, thinking she was being scolded.

But it wasn’t just her, he was an idiot too.

“You should have just kissed me. I would have fallen for you right away.” He admitted.

“Did you like it a lot?” She inquired, curious.

Dongman grazed his lip with his own teeth, watching her. He knew now that her lips were soft, and that her skin was sticky from the day that passed. And yet…

“Want to do it…” He started, “One more time?”