“Good morning, Taehyun.”
Soobin, his secretary, would always spare him those three words. Taehyun would always reply with a nod.
Then a freshly printed schedule for the day would be handed to him as he walks by the front desk, and upon entering his office, an iced caramel macchiato would be waiting on his table.
It’s been a year since Taehyun’s appointed to be the manager at the Seoul branch of the company, and he has learned to pretend not to hear the crash outside. He settles for guessing what Soobin accidentally breaks this time.
This is Kang Taehyun’s 7:30am routine.
And Soobin respects The Routine— another reason why Taehyun easily forgives the pieces of whatever needs to be replaced that he finds in the lobby’s trash can. Soobin is a good secretary overall.
(...And Soobin understood The Routine— didn’t question why Taehyun stopped in the middle of scolding him the third time he broke a stapler, didn’t prod him to continue what he was saying [“You’re all height and no motor—”] , didn’t mind when he didn’t get a single word out of him the rest of the day, didn’t ask why he preferred written correspondences instead of meeting clients face to face unless it was absolutely necessary. Soobin was (and is) a good secretary, and an even better person.)
Taehyun goes through one hundred and one emails today.
Out of those, only two need immediate action. He mentally thanks how advanced technology has gotten (“That makes you sound old. Ohmygod. Wait, that makes me even older.”) and shoots Soobin a quick message.
[k.taehyun]: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. doesn’t matter who goes first.
[c.soobin]: okay, give me a sec.
[c.soobin]: the president of lee enterprises is on line two.
[c.soobin]: i’ll connect the next one once you hang up.
[k.taehyun]: thank you.
Mr. Lee starts talking the moment Taehyun brings the phone up to his ear. He doesn’t stop until he says more than what he needs to say, and for a moment Taehyun wants to be petty and act like the line is busy just to make him repeat everything. But that would require more from Taehyun, and he doesn’t really want to give it to someone who’s a glutton for money and power.
“My answer will always be no,” Taehyun finally replies after mulling over the possible ways to say it.
He ends the call. The phone rings again.
This time it’s an owner of a cafe that used to be the neighborhood’s favorite. Taehyun plays with the key earring dangling from his ear as he listens to what the old lady has to say. She talks slowly and carefully, but boldly, her ending “Please,” reminds Taehyun of old times back in Daegu. He doesn’t need to think thrice about his response. “We’ll help. Don’t worry.”
The elevator ride to the ground floor is silent. Taehyun raises an eyebrow at Soobin when he opens the building’s door and gestures for him to go first. He’s already told him not to be all Secretary Choi once they’re out of the office. He’s still his hyung, after all.
“Technically, we’re still in the office building,” Soobin says, stepping out after Taehyun. Then he reaches out and ruffles Taehyun’s hair. “Now we’re not.”
Taehyun has learned not to wonder about how Soobin knows what he’s thinking without him saying anything. He’s always had his ‘hyung superpowers’ since they were broke college students living in an apartment that was too small compared to the monthly rent they’re paying .
His friend’s dimples make their appearance when he hears someone call his name as soon as they enter the fast food chain across the street.
Soobin’s longer limbs (much to Taehyun’s displeasure) brings him to their usual table faster than Taehyun, giving him time to lean down and press a soft kiss on his boyfriend’s forehead.
“Yeonjun-hyung. Missed you.”
Yeonjun giggles, and Taehyun fails to stop rolling his eyes at the couple’s sappiness. Yeonjun works a block away and they live together. Privileged lovesick idiots , Taehyun thinks, but the smile on his face as he sees the older two hold hands under the table is true.
“Taehyun! How are you?”
Yeonjun nods understandingly.
“Tell me if Soobin is working you to the bone.”
“Hey. I’m the one who keeps telling him to take breaks. If anything, I’m working myself to the bone—”
Soobin sputters at the endearment.
This is Taehyun’s 12:30noon routine.
Fast food. Sometimes packed lunch if he could.
With Soobin. Sometimes with Yeonjun. Most of the time with Yeonjun.
Deal with the flirting. Leave them at the table to order for himself.
Nod at the cashier. Point at what he wants.
Hand his payment. Wait for his order.
Nod at the cashier. Back to their table.
Eat. Enjoy his time with his hyungs, his friends.
Deal with the flirting again. Leave them at the table.
Go back to his office early.
The sooner he gets his tasks done, the sooner he can go home.
Routine is easy.
It’s 5:30pm and Taehyun can go back to his apartment now.
He leaves his office room and is not surprised to see Yeonjun sitting on their lobby’s couch, obviously waiting for Soobin to finish working so they can go home together.
“Take care on your way home, hyungs,” Taehyun says as a goodbye, waiting for the elevator doors to open.
His secretary looks up from the folders he’s arranging.
Yeonjun flashes him a big smile and raises his hand to wave. Two thousand nine hundred eighteen.
(He finds himself a little envious.)
“You too, Taehyun. Tell him we say hello?”
Taehyun nods and goes.
One hundred and thirty-three. 133.
That’s the number that fate has scribbled across Taehyun’s left wrist.
One hundred and thirty-three.
On his mother’s, there were four numbers. Or at least, that’s what she says she remembers.
(“What do you mean, ‘maybe’?”
“I might be wrong.”
“How are you not sure?”
“I stopped counting.”
“But mom, you have to—”
“He didn’t save them for me, honey. So I stopped.”)
Right now, as the train moves too slowly for Taehyun who has one arm up to hold onto the train’s handle, his wrist reads one hundred and seventeen . His other hand finds itself playing with his earring again.
It’s 6:15pm when Taehyun finally unlocks his apartment’s door, removes his shoes by the entryway, stubs his toe against one of the many moving boxes that he can’t be bothered to unpack (has no plans to unpack, has no thoughts of staying here longer than he has to), loosens his tie and messes up his already messed up hair.
(“Move in with me.”
Taehyun gets a cute head tilt in reply.
“That wasn’t really a question, was it?”
“...Move in with me?”
And now a cute laugh.
“Didn’t really have to ask.”)
This is Taehyun’s daily routine.
He turns his laptop on and settles in his single bed, not bothering to change his clothes. That can wait. That can wait. That can wait. He, on the other hand, can’t.
Once everything’s booted up and ready to go, he opens his messenger, looks for the one name that’s been occupying his mind for the past three years, and clicks on video call as soon as the clock hits 6:20pm.
And then he feels everything fade away, everything and everyone except for the slightly pixelated smiling face of his soulmate in front of him, so close and yet so much farther than he would like.
“Cookie,” Taehyun breathes out.
One hundred and sixteen.
Taehyun is not embarrassed to admit that the first thing he did upon arriving in Seoul was to secure a fast Internet connection. But truly, his laptop’s screen does not give justice to Choi Beomgyu’s beauty.
(He mentioned that the first time they had a video call. Beomgyu had laughed, laughed so hard that tears spilled out of his pretty eyes. Taehyun told himself that that was the same reason why his own tears soaked his pillowcase that night, not because he had reached out in the middle of the night, expecting a body to pull close, limbs to tangle, body warmth to share, kisses to steal.)
Beomgyu’s smile shines brighter at the softly spoken nickname. Pretty fingers (everything about his Cookie is pretty, Taehyun believes) peek from too long sleeves to play with his necklace— a silver chain with a pendant in the shape of a small lock.
(“This is a key to my apartment. Our apartment,” Taehyun says, pressing the new duplicate into Beomgyu’s palm.
“I’ll keep it safe while you’re away,” Beomgyu whispers.
Taehyun sees the way his hand shakes as it tightens into a fist. He has no doubt that Beomgyu will.
He asks Beomgyu to close his eyes. Beomgyu does.
Taehyun moves to stand behind him as he reaches into his pocket, pulling out what he’s been hiding in his sock drawer.
“And this,” Taehyun carefully fastens the necklace around Beomgyu’s neck. “is my heart.”
His heart beats a bit faster when his soulmate reaches up to touch the pendant.
“Please keep it safe.”
And then his heart goes into overdrive as Beomgyu quickly turns to face him, hands on his cheeks as he pulls him in for a kiss.
Taehyun has no doubt that Beomgyu will.)
When Beomgyu doesn’t speak, Taehyun is quick to reassure him that it’s fine. Everything is fine. This is okay. You’re all that I need.
“It’s okay, Gyu. You’re here. That’s all that matters.”
Beomgyu shakes his head, fingers now anxiously fiddling with the lock.
“Cookie, there’s always tomorrow. We’ll have tomorrow.” Taehyun hopes his voice doesn’t sound as scratchy as his throat feels, with so many words leaving his mouth after spending the whole day keeping them in.
(Is fate being too cruel?
Choi Beomgyu. The mood maker. Knows what to say and when to say it. A ball of energy. Sunshine on a rainy day. Talent and hardwork. Beautiful inside and out. Taehyun’s first love.
One hundred and thirty-three on his right wrist, written at the same time as Taehyun’s.
Choi Beomgyu. Taehyun’s first love.
Choi Beomgyu. Taehyun’s soulmate.
One hundred and thirty-three words a day.)
Taehyun watches as his boyfriend types how his day went. It took a few more words for his beautiful smile to come back.
(A few more words typed , because Beomgyu started frantically waving his hands around, his pretty eyes alarmed.
[c.beomgyu]: stop talking! don’t waste anymore, idiot! the chat box exists for a reason!
[k.taehyun]: i can say the same to you, gyu.
[k.taehyun]: i miss you. how did you spend your day?
[c.beomgyu]: missing my nerd of a boyfriend :P )
Taehyun can’t help but feel proud. Beomgyu has sent that an agency showed interest in one of the songs he’s written, and asked him to drop by their office to perform it. No wonder he’s spent all of his words.
[k.taehyun]: i’m proud of you, cookie
[k.taehyun]: so proud
[k.taehyun]: soobin-hyung and yeonjun-hyung would be proud too
[k.taehyun]: they say hi by the way
[c.beomgyu]: thank you, baby
[c.beomgyu]: you’re too good to me
[c.beomgyu]: hueningkai says hi too
[c.beomgyu]: the agency also gave him a call!!
[c.beomgyu]: baby, you’re playing with your earring again hahahaha
Taehyun stills. He didn’t even notice until Beomgyu pointed it out.
“I can’t hold your hand, so this will have to do,” Taehyun says, his heart skipping when the tips of Beomgyu’s ears slowly turn red.
(Taehyun wakes up to something [someone?] tickling his ear.
He wraps his arms around the body on top of his.
“Cookie,” he groans. “it’s too early.”
A nose rubs against his.
“Your train leaves at 10am, baby.”
Beomgyu kisses him then, slow and sweet, then softly tugs on his ear as he pulls away.
There’s a weight of an earring that wasn’t there before he went to sleep last night.
“It’s a key,” Beomgyu murmurs, hands on Taehyun’s shoulders as he holds himself up, pretty pretty pretty necklace hanging from his neck, right where it belongs.
“To your heart?”
Beomgyu shakes his head.
“No, to yours.”
One kiss. Two. Three. Four.
Five. Six. Giggle. Seven.
“Because you gave it to me. Your heart. And I’m not giving it back unless you want me to.”)
[k.taehyun]: which song was it?
[c.beomgyu]: the one i wrote for you
[k.taehyun]: which one? all of the songs you write are for me
[c.beomgyu]: well, you’re not wrong.
[c.beomgyu]: it’s the first one.
[c.beomgyu]: i wish you were here
[c.beomgyu]: you sing it better than i do
Taehyun shakes his head. He unlocks his phone and pulls up his Studio Beomgyu playlist, scrolls to the song Beomgyu’s talking about and taps on play.
“Your voice is beautiful,” Taehyun whispers, not wanting to talk over Beomgyu’s vocals. “Don’t doubt yourself, Cookie.”
[k.taehyun]: you just want to hear me sing, don’t you?
[c.beomgyu]: was i that obvious?
[c.beomgyu]: i miss you
[c.beomgyu]: i miss everything about you, even the creepy way you sleep with your eyes open
[k.taehyun]: maybe i just don’t want to stop looking at you?
[c.beomgyu]: don’t you see me in your dreams?
[k.taehyun]: shut up do you want me to sing or not
[c.beomgyu]: ah. maybe some other time instead? You can use your words for something else.
[k.taehyun]: there is nothing else.
Taehyun looks up from his keyboard, Beomgyu’s still typing.
“I only save them for you,” Taehyun says.
And Beomgyu immediately looks up, his eyes full of the love that he can’t say out loud, not today.
But Taehyun feels it. Feels every word that Beomgyu wants to reach him, and that’s enough for him.
(“We’ll make it work.”
“Are you sure we can?” Playful. Secretly scared.
“I’m Kang Taehyun. Of course I can make it work.”
Laughter. “Okay, Kang Taehyun—”
“And you’re my soulmate. And I love you. I’ll make it work. We’ll make it work.”
The train to Seoul is departing soon. All passengers, please…
“Save them for tonight, please?”
“See you later, Cookie.”)
In the middle of singing, Taehyun can tell that Beomgyu’s exhausted. Sees it in the way his Cookie’s trying to stop his eyes from closing, trying to stifle the fifth yawn of the night, trying to stay awake to be with him a little longer. But tomorrow’s another day.Time to face the world. Routine. Then go back to his apartment. Then go home to Beomgyu, even for an hour or two, even just through a screen, even if Beomgyu uses up all his words again and can only listen to Taehyun. That will always be enough, for now. Until Taehyun can murmur his words onto Beomgyu’s lips once again.
Taehyun is so in love, damn.
The smile he gets in reply makes him fall a little deeper. Taehyun doesn’t know how Beomgyu does it.
“I love you, Cookie,” Taehyun says, holding onto every word that he has left. “Go to sleep. See you tomorrow.”
He waves goodbye, waiting for Beomgyu to type in his goodnight.
“I love you, Taehyun.”
Beomgyu winks at him before ending the call himself.
Taehyun sits in shock for a minute. Or two. Then he laughs.
He sleeps with a heart full of Beomgyu.
One hundred and thirty-three.
— anea 📌 txt 🎞️ (@fellforgyu) March 27, 2021