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Morning

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The sun shone through the windows and slowly illuminated the room, indicating that it was already early morning. Hyukjae, still sleeping in his king-sized bed, reached out for the pillow he always hugged but found something else instead. When he tried to feel what it was, he heard a noise coming from the source.

So, with a half-lidded gaze, he looked at the person who was laying next to him. He rubbed his eyes to confirm that he wasn’t dreaming, and when the person didn’t disappear from his sight, he moved closer to the body.

“Good morning,” he rasped in a throaty, sleep-induced voice.

A low hum greeted back as a response. Leaning over, Hyukjae gave his boyfriend a peck on the lips and then proceeded to lay his head on his chest. He felt Jongwoon’s body move a bit before the latter eventually snaked an arm around his waist, sleep taking over them once more.

Later, Hyukjae woke up again to see the long exposed neck of his boyfriend who was still sound asleep. During their slumber, they seemed to have changed their positions; he was now sleeping fully on top of Jongwoon and the latter’s hold on his waist was firm, so tight as though he were trying to pull him closer. With difficulty, Hyukjae tried to turn his upper body, attempting to get a hold of his phone which was lying innocently beside Jongwoon’s pillow.

Restraining a small yawn, Hyukjae opened the screen to look at the time and saw a message from Shindong. Reading through its contents, he saw that their meeting with a client was suddenly canceled. Shindong told him that he didn’t have to come today and that he could take this opportunity to rest.

Hyukjae ignored Donghae’s spam of texts, locked his screen, and placed the phone back on the mattress. With a relieved smile, he turned back to Jongwoon and began tracing his finger on his boyfriend's face.

Hyukjae brushed away the strands that fell across Jongwoon’s face, smiling as he kissed the latter's bare forehead. On an irresistible impulse, he reached out languidly and started tracing random figures starting from Jongwoon's eyebrows and eyes until he slowly came to the older's lips. Using both hands, he tried to pull the edges of Jongwoon's mouth upwards to make it look like he was smiling.

Jongwoon shook his face a bit, making Hyukjae smile brightly at the cute sight. Suddenly an idea popped into his head; with an evil smile, he kissed Jongwoon’s lips before nuzzling the latter’s neck, all the while tickling his boyfriend’s side using his hand. Jongwoon tried to push Hyukjae away but the younger continued to do his annoyance tactics until he heard a whine escape Jongwoon's mouth.

Grinning triumphantly, Hyukjae climbed on top of Jongwoon and laid his head on the older's chest. When he didn’t get any reaction, he did an experimental jump in which Jongwoon hastily responded by taking a hold of his waist to stop him.

“...You’re extremely annoying, you know?” Jongwoon groaned.

“Can’t you be a little lively? It’s such a nice day outside,” Hyukjae told him, smiling as he motioned towards the open window where they could see what a good weather it was today.

Hyukjae was about to pester him more when he suddenly felt movement coming from the body beneath him. In a flash, Jongwoon threw him on the bed and began to climb on top of him, gaze turning slightly dark.

Taking both of Hyukjae's hands in a strong grip, Jongwoon whispered in his ear. “Are you going to shut up now, huh?”

Hyukjae was about to open his mouth and say something when Jongwoon suddenly tickled him at the sides and the stomach. Hyukjae giggled and tried to stop him but he wasn't able to move since Jongwoon's body was holding him down in place.

“Stop... p—please stop it,” Hyukjae begged but Jongwoon didn’t stop until Hyukjae was gasping for air. Satisfied, Jongwoon pinched Hyukjae’s cheek before moving away from his body.

Jongwoon knew wishing for more sleep was futile so he rearranged his pillow and laid against the headboard in a sitting position. Hyukjae took that opportunity to move and lay his head on Jongwoon's stomach, arms reaching out and wrapping around his boyfriend's waist.

Jongwoon smiled in response and ran his hand affectionately through Hyukjae’s hair, relaxing him.

“I missed this. I missed you,” Hyukjae murmured into his stomach. Jongwoon held him tightly before kissing his head.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered.

Jongwoon did feel guilty about not having enough time for Hyukjae. The last few months had been so hectic that he couldn't even breathe let alone spend time with his boyfriend. Jongwoon never heard Hyukjae complain about it and that made him feel even more guilty. He knew that their relationship was strong since they'd been together for nine years now but sometimes he felt like it was unfair for Hyukjae to be in a relationship where he didn’t know when he'd get to have time with his boyfriend or when he would disappear.

Jongwoon could still remember the disappointed looks he always got from Hyukjae whenever his phone would ring during their date and he had to leave afterwards. Hyukjae, as always, never complained about it which made him feel even worse.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Hyukjae assured. “I can understand.” He then looked up and smiled at his boyfriend, causing Jongwoon to smile back at the sight.

Hyukjae went back to lie on his chest where Jongwoon’s heartbeat matched his own. Jongwoon started running his hand over Hyukjae’s back, absently tracing invisible circles while looking at the framed photo on the side table.

The picture had been taken from their last trip three years ago when they went to Bali for a week to celebrate Hyukjae’s 30th birthday. For a whole week he made sure to give his full attention to his boyfriend and only his boyfriend. To make sure that he wasn’t going to be disturbed, he switched off his phone and left it at home before going on the trip, knowing that someone would just call Hyukjae in order to reach Jongwoon in case of emergency.

That trip had been like paradise for them since they were completely relaxed during that time; there were no calls from work to disturb them and they spent their days relaxing on the beach, taking long walks, drinking alcohol, and expressing their passion during both day and night.

The picture on the frame was a polaroid photo taken from their last day in that place. They were sitting on the beach; Hyukjae was tired after playing in the water so he was resting his head on Jongwoon’s naked shoulder and that blissful moment was immortalised by Jongwoon using his polaroid camera that now lay framed on their bedside table.

As he thought back to those peaceful days, Jongwoon suddenly had a bright idea in his head. Without wasting any more time, he forced Hyukjae to go to the washroom before starting to make an important call.

Striding out of the room, he walked towards the direction of the kitchen to prepare coffee for himself as he waited for the person from the other end of the line to pick up the phone.

Thankfully, it only took a few short rings.

“Hyung, it’s me. Can I ask you and Ryeowook for a little favor?” he asked with an unusual excitement in his voice.

Jongwoon could tell that Heechul had picked up on his enthusiasm because he could hear the smirk in the latter's voice when he asked, “Is this the same favor you've been putting off for the past six months?”

Jongwoon rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment as he leaned against the kitchen counter. “Can you, hyung?” he asked a bit hopefully.

“Of course I will, you brat,” Heechul replied fondly. “Now go do what you should've done six months ago. Good luck.” He then hung up on a still-smiling Jongwoon.

Ticking off one thing in his agenda, he worked on his phone for the next task. He typed the words he wanted to say in the message real fast, glancing up every now and then to make sure that Hyukjae didn’t walk in the room and see what he was up to.

Done. He now had one final thing to take care of before his boyfriend could come out of the shower. He went to their room and quickly retrieved the package that he’d hidden beneath the false floor of the drawer and then placed it in the inside folds of his jacket. Afterwards, he hurried back to the empty kitchen as if he hadn’t done anything and decided to make breakfast for Hyukjae.

He had eggs cackling sunny side up on the skillet, the sausage cut into tiny pieces on the pan and the bread hot out of the toaster. He was in the process of buttering the toast with unhealthy amounts of butter when a pair of arms snaked around his waist from behind, Hyukjae’s still-damp hair making a wet patch on the spot of his t-shirt where he rested his head on his back.

“You’re like a wet puppy Hyukjae, why are you making me wet too? Go dry your hair properly or you’ll catch a cold,” he scolded while slightly leaning into his boyfriend’s hug.

“Five minutes, hyung. Let me hold on to you like this for five more minutes, okay?” Hyukjae pleaded in a tone that melted Jongwoon’s heart and had words choked in his throat.

In response, however, he just hummed in agreement and leaned further back into the hug.

They stood there, Hyukjae easing into the hug and Jongwoon still holding the toast which had gone soggy a while ago but promptly ignored. For how long, they didn’t know. All they thought about in that moment was just the feel of each other against the embrace.

“You’re so warm,” Hyukjae murmured in a soft voice. “I missed your warmth the most, you know. Hyung, you’re surprisingly warm for a skinny dude.”

Jongwoon rolled his eyes in good humor and turned around to hold Hyukjae properly instead of hitting him for making fun of him. He tightened his arms around his boyfriend, the latter’s head nestled snugly in Jongwoon’s chest.

“Do you want me to spend all of my vacation days standing here hugging you like this?” Jongwoon asked with a smile as he kissed the top of his boyfriend's head.

Hyukjae’s eyes shot open in surprise and he instantly jerked away from the hug, staring at Jongwoon with an incredulous stare and a huge gummy smile on his face.

“You’re not just visiting? You’re on vacation?! For how many days?!” he asked enthusiastically all in one breath.

“Slow down puppy, I’m not awake enough to handle your hyperness yet,” Jongwoon said, chuckling as he continued on. “Yes, I’m here on vacation. There isn’t much work to do and Heechul-hyung and Wookie are covering for me at the moment because I have to be away to make one hyperactive puppy happy.” Jongwoon grinned, booping his nose against Hyukjae’s with one arm draped around the latter’s shoulders.

“Ah, hyung, stop treating me like a kid and STOP calling me animal names,” Hyukjae whined, but there was a happy flush on his cheeks. “Sometimes it’s monkey, sometimes it’s puppy, and sometimes it’s squirrel and anchovy, too! You know how much I hate it when you call me all that,” he complained further and tried to wriggle out of the embrace, but Jongwoon only pulled him closer, chuckling.

Kissing his whiny boyfriend’s forehead, Jongwoon chuckled. “Okay, okay, but in all seriousness though, I have the week off and I’ve also made a surprise reservation for us. Can you take time off work for a week?” he asked hopefully, threading his fingers through Hyukjae’s hair and pushing the stray bangs away from his face.

“A week, huh? I don’t know, I’ll have to ask hyung if he can manage alone for that long…” Hyukjae pondered over it for a moment. “Wait, I’ll call him now. Oh, while you’re at it, don’t forget my coffee! As much as I love my strawberry milk, I need my coffee in the morning,” he said with a smirk and ran out of the kitchen before Jongwoon could get him for his cheekiness.

By the time Hyukjae came back to the kitchen, Jongwoon had their table set and was already checking something on his phone. Hyukjae sat across the table in awe, breathing in the beautiful scent of his favourite breakfast.

“Oh, you’re here. What did he say? Can you get a week off?” Jongwoon asked, putting down the phone and giving his full attention to Hyukjae, waiting for his response.

However, Jongwoon noticed the uncomfortable, downcast expression on Hyukjae’s face and felt his heart sink.

“Why? What’s wrong? Can you not take time off? It’s alright if you can’t. I understand,” he reassured in an instant, reaching out to hold Hyukjae’s hand across the table.

“Ah, it’s nothing like that, hyung,” Hyukjae clarified with a small smile. “I can make time, but... just not for a week. Looks like I can only make time for a maximum of four days. Is it alright? I mean, we haven’t gone on a trip in so long and I was hoping we could now. But there are some schedules that I can’t get out of, apparently. I’m so sorry, hyung,” he finished and drew a quick breath, his chair tipping towards the table on its hind legs, showing how anxious he really was.

He must be disappointed, Hyukjae thought to himself. The timing...

While Hyukjae was worrying over his boyfriend’s possible reaction, Jongwoon suddenly barked out a laugh. Startled, Hyukjae gazed at him with wide, confused eyes.

“Idiot,” Jongwoon said fondly, his tone sincere. “I know you have a busy schedule too and you being anxious for not being able to take an extra three days off is making me feel highly guilty considering the small amount of time I can only make for you.” Jongwoon smiled wistfully. “It’s alright, squirrel. I’ll take whatever time I can have with you. Consider this as me making up for all the times I couldn’t make it. Ok?” He then reached out to ruffle Hyukjae’s hair which made the latter throw back the chair to stand on all its four legs, trying his best to lean away from Jongwoon’s nosy hand.

“Okay, okay, it’s all good! Except STOP. CALLING. ME. SQUIRREL!” he said, stressing each word out with an indignant look on his face, a sight that made Jongwoon burst out laughing.

This was what Jongwoon loved about Hyukjae; he always made Jongwoon laugh and often went out of his way to make him happy. He could be unbearable at times, adamant, and annoying to the point where Jongwoon just wanted to beat the shit out of him. However, he also knew that that was Hyukjae’s own way of showing his love. He constantly annoyed the people he loved; the more he annoyed, the more he loved them. He was weird that way, but Jongwoon knew just how far Hyukjae’s love for him went and that was exactly why he was doing this.

It took them another three hours to get ready and pack for their trip. Jongwoon made all the arrangements in the morning and they headed straight to the airport.

“Hyung, isn’t it a bit too much to go all the way to Bali for just four days?” Hyukjae asked while they were sitting in the airport, waiting to board the flight.

“You’ve travelled farther for one-day events, why are you worried about this?” Jongwoon asked nonchalantly as he kept an eye on the announcement board.

“I’m not worried, just wondering what the special occasion is,” he asked, now fully turned towards Jongwoon.

“Special? Nothing special, just want to spend some time with you away from all this. Don’t overthink this, okay? We’ve earned this vacation, no matter how short it is,” Jongwoon said hurriedly without meeting Hyukjae’s curious eyes.

For a moment, the younger seemed to want to say something, but in the end, he didn’t ask anything further, much to Jongwoon’s relief.

It was around dinner time when they reached the resort and they both crashed into the huge bed the moment the bell boy left the room, leaving their luggages inside.

“Ah, this feels good,” Hyukjae said appreciatively. “Brings back so many memories, doesn’t it? Wait, hyung, is this the same room we stayed last time?” he said curiously, half-sitting and turning towards Jongwoon who just nodded at him with a smile.

“Ah, hyung, you have very little creativity,” Hyukjae teased. “Not that it matters, though. I’m happy to be anywhere with you as long as I have you all to myself,” he said with a predatory smile as he started leaning towards Jongwoon.

After all these years, Jongwoon still wasn’t sure if that particular smile turned him on or scared him. But he liked where this was going, so he stayed in his position, unmoving, because Hyukjae was going to take control anyway.

His will to stay still and let Hyukjae have his way with him promptly melted away when his boyfriend’s face was inches from his, warm breath already kissing his lips and fingers dragging across his cheeks up to his hair, threading them softly. He was moving closer and closer at a speed that was painfully slow, contrasting Jongwoon’s currently racing heartbeat.

He completely lost it when Hyukjae whispered across his lips, “...Missed you” with a beautiful smile on his face.

Jongwoon flipped him over on the bed before lying on top of him and said in an almost hoarse voice, “Missed you more” and wasted no time, leaning in to kiss him hard.

 

Jongwoon was the first to wake up the next morning and he found that Hyukjae was still sleeping. He could still see the loud evidence of last night's activity on his boyfriend's naked body and it made him happy to know that he was the reason for them. He then grabbed that chance to quickly get dressed to plan the upcoming evening’s events.

He left a note for his sleeping boyfriend that he was going out for a run and hurried out of their room. By the time he got back, Hyukjae was out on the patio of their cottage, eyes closed and head resting on the back of the chair with their breakfast waiting on the table beside him.

Jongwoon tiptoed towards him and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. “Good morning, sunshine,” he whispered affectionately, his smile growing as Hyukjae stirred from his sleep.

The younger opened his eyes with a similar smile playing on his lips. “Right back at ya, morning breeze,” he greeted with a fond expression on his face.

“Morning breeze?” Jongwoon asked, sitting down beside him.

“So I can be sunshine, but you can’t be morning breeze?” Hyukjae demanded in mock-anger.

“You make it really hard for me to be romantic with you sometimes, you know that?” Jongwoon said, shaking his head as he now started to devour their breakfast.

“Oh, I can think of SO many ways you can be romantic with me hyung, wanna try?” Hyukjae challenged with the same predatory smile that he gave him last night and winked.

Jongwoon gulped down his eggs, almost choking in surprise. “Stop giving me that smile or else I am not letting you out of the room for the entire day,” Jongwoon warned Hyukjae in a low voice.

“Fine by me, I’m not into sightseeing that much, anyways,” Hyukjae responded with a smirk as he promptly got up to sit on Jongwoon’s lap to kiss him hard while the fork of eggs was still dangling helplessly in Jongwoon’s hands.

When Hyukjae pressed in and licked his bottom lip with the tip of his tongue, the last vestiges of Jongwoon’s self-control slipped like water. With a growl, he put the fork away and carried Hyukjae easily by his thighs, the latter automatically wrapping his leg around Jongwoon’s waist without complaint.

Once they were inside the room, Jongwoon threw him on the bed before climbing on top of him and kissing him aggressively, hands wandering everywhere around the younger’s body as he then dived for the neck, making Hyukjae moan appreciatively.

 

Jongwoon was lying on the bed with Hyukjae’s head resting on his arms. They actually managed to stay in the bed all day and Jongwoon wasn’t one to complain. But as he watched a sleeping Hyukjae, his fingers ghosting across the latter’s cheeks, he knew he had to wake him up soon to execute his plan.

He was both scared and excited to wake him up. As cliché as it sounded in his head, he wished he could stop time and keep Hyukjae with him like this, all their work and stress forgotten, in a world all to themselves.

He also knew that waking Hyukjae up would mean that he’d get to have a chance to make a lifetime of memories with the man he can call “his”. He knew that with this jerk of a man sleeping beside him, he’d get to have a life that had no dull moments. Just thinking of it made him smile widely and he leaned in to kiss Hyukjae’s lips in an attempt to wake him up. It worked the third time around as Hyukjae opened his eyes to a smiling Jongwoon.

“Someone’s stupidly happy.” Hyukjae scooted closer to hug and rested his head on Jongwoon’s chest. “Should I be knowing why?” he added, the smugness evident in his voice.

“Yes, I have the most amazing man by my side right now, that’s why,” Jongwoon replied, pulling Hyukjae into a tighter hug and kissing the top of his head. As he did so, he could feel more than see Hyukjae’s gummy smile in response. No matter how much he’d tease Jongwoon about this, Jongwoon knew that Hyukjae secretly loved it whenever he talked cheesily and called him with different endearments. Even Squirrel, which was the name that Hyukjae pretended to hate the most.

“I made a dinner reservation at the seaside restaurant. We should get ready, so we have to get out of bed now,” Jongwoon urged as Hyukjae made no move to get out of the embrace.

“Can’t we just stay like this, hyung? We’re on vacation, after all,” Hyukjae mumbled into his chest lazily.

Jongwoon hooked a finger under Hyukjae’s chin and lifted his face to meet his eyes.

He kissed his boyfriend’s forehead with a chuckle. “Come on, we still have three more days. I made this reservation before we came here,” Jongwoon said, pouting. “Can we go, please? I miss the sea and I miss being with you on the beach. Please?” he pleaded as he gazed at Hyukjae with imploring eyes.

Hyukjae stared at him for a moment. “This isn’t fair at all. How am I supposed to stay adamant if you’re asking me so cutely like this?” He smiled as he shook his head. “Fine. Give me ten minutes to wash up, okay?” He then made a move to get out of bed.

Jongwoon, however, couldn’t resist pulling him back into his arms. “Take all the time you want, darling,” he said as he moved for a quick kiss. “The ocean will wait for us.”

“Okay, please stop, now you’re just making it weird,” Hyukjae said, making Jongwoon burst into a laugh.

Shaking his head once more with a smile, Hyukjae walked towards the direction of the bathroom with Jongwoon’s fond gaze resting on his retreating back.

It took them a whole hour to get ready. They walked down the street with hands gripping each other tightly and swinging to and fro like little kids walking back home from school with wide smiles on their faces. As they made their way towards the restaurant at the beach, they instantly recalled the memories of their previous trip there.

Their table was set in a gazebo at the far end of the restaurant which was closer to the sea with a white canopy hanging from the middle towards each corner as well asx two chairs with red backrests. The place looked magical with the fairy lights that hung around the gazebo, making it look like a place where a prince and princess could sneak off to have their dance where they'd fall irrevocably in love with each other.

Jongwoon glanced over towards Hyukjae and smiled when he saw the latter’s enchanted expression. It seemed that they were already off to a great start.

While leading his boyfriend to the table, Hyukjae turned to him with shining eyes.

“This looks beautiful, hyung,” he remarked in wonder as he kept staring at his surroundings. “You’re lucky that I like stuff like this,” he added teasingly as they both sat across each other at the table.

They had an extravagant dinner with romantic music playing from the speakers. Jongwoon spent more than half of his time staring at his cute boyfriend who began stuffing his face with food, looking exactly like a squirrel which Jongwoon liked to tease him about a lot.

When they were done eating, Jongwoon insisted that they go on a walk. At first, Hyukjae didn’t seem interested since he wanted to go back to their hotel room, but he relented after some convincing from Jongwoon’s side.

It always felt nice to walk around while holding hands with Hyukjae. Jongwoon glanced over at his boyfriend, a gentle warmth spreading in his chest when he saw Hyukjae’s dazed expression, looking like he was lost in his own world with a cute smile curving his lips unconsciously.

Suddenly, a particular memory came to his mind. It happened back when he was an intern in his second year who had the task of treating an irritating, whiny patient’s injured leg one day. Later on, he came to discover that the injury happened while the man —was practicing his choreography for an important dance performance.

Even though his first impression of Hyukjae wasn’t good, their first meeting left an imprint in Jongwoon’s mind. He could still remember all those weird comments and cheesy pick-up lines that Hyukjae said to him. He could also recall that the blood rushed to his face every single time Hyukjae flirted with him, and based on the telltale smirk on the latter’s face at that moment, Jongwoon could tell that Hyukjae enjoyed his reactions very much.

Hyukjae was pretty consistent with his advances and kept on doing it until the day he was discharged. After that, he made sure to visit the hospital Jongwoon was working at often, coming up with some kind of injury and making sure that Jongwoon was the one who attended to him. Sometimes he even faked his injuries just to see him, something that frustrated Jongwoon to no end.

One day, fed up with Hyukjae’s constant antics, Jongwoon pulled him aside by an empty staircase.

“Stop it,” Jongwoon hissed out, glancing every now and then at the staircase below to see if anyone was coming. “Stop coming here everyday and disturbing my work. Aren’t you tired?”

Hyukjae shook his head, looking fairly undisturbed and nonchalant about his current situation.

Jongwoon fought to keep the tiredness off his voice. “What can I do to make you stop coming?” he asked wearily.

“I’ll stop,” Hyukjae compromised with a cheeky smile, “if you go on a date with me.”

Jongwoon stared at him, blinking owlishly. “A date?”

Hyukjae nodded. “A date.”

Jongwoon had thought about Hyukjae’s invitation for a long time. In all honesty, he wasn’t really ready for any kind of relationship at the moment since work was his first priority. However, if going on one little date was what it was going to take to get the annoying guy off his back, then he was gonna have to try. He was bad at dates anyway, so he was positive that afterwards Hyukjae was no longer going to be interested and would instantly drop him like a sack of rice.

So, Jongwoon made his decision and said yes like an idiot.

And the rest was history.

Jongwoon was instantly brought back to the present when he felt a squeeze on his hand. When he turned towards his boyfriend, he saw Hyukjae looking at him with a puzzled expression while waving a hand in front of his face.

“Oh,” Jongwoon muttered, his mind back to reality. “I’m sorry for spacing out,” he said apologetically.

Hyukjae smiled wryly. “You do that sometimes. It’s fine.”

Soon, they both sat on the beach, sand pressing against their clothes and skin. They curled up against each other naturally with the sound of the tides in the background, the moon shining brightly in the sky their only source of illumination. It felt like they were basking in a romantic atmosphere just like in all those romantic soap-opera dramas instead of real life. And the hopeless romantic in Jongwoon was happy about it.

“What are you thinking about?” Jongwoon asked absently, closing his eyes as he felt the night breeze tickle his face.

“Nothing much,” Hyukjae answered quietly, his voice softer than normal. “I just like it here and don’t wanna go back…”

When Jongwoon looked at him curiously, Hyukjae clarified, “I like how we’ve been free to do anything we want today without having to worry about either of us getting a call from work… but then I feel guilty for thinking about running away,” he added somberly.

Jongwoon reached out and wrapped an arm around Hyukjae, pulling him into a hug. The latter placed his face near Jongwoon’s neck, sniffing his favorite perfume that everyone knew he liked.

Jongwoon rubbed Hyukjae’s arm soothingly before making them lie down on the sand, his arm under Hyukjae’s head and the other holding the latter close to his body. They both gazed up at the sky, silently admiring the stars. This was one of their favorite pastimes together so they cherished every moment.

“You know I can understand and I would be lying if I didn’t say I never thought about it,” Jongwoon began, “but we’re both doing what we love to do and I do regret that I don’t get to spend more time with you and hold you like this.

“There were times when I just wanted to give up but I don’t know what my life would be like if I do. My childhood dream was to grow up and help people. Also, I know how much you love your job too and if we were to run away from everything, you’d definitely miss your career because it’s your passion just like mine is for me,” Jongwoon mused aloud while rubbing his boyfriend’s waist absently.

Hyukjae hummed in response. “I forgot to mention this to you but recently we had a small meet-up. It was just me, Shindong-hyung, Sungmin-hyung, Siwonie, Hae, and Kyu at our local hangout place. We were talking about life and how tiring adulting is and Kyu was just whining like usual.” Hyukjae chuckled and Jongwoon joined his laughter.

“He always whines, doesn’t he? I think he’d hate it if you try to patch him up with Wookie just to get him away from me,” Jongwoon said in amusement and then interrupted before Hyukjae could open his mouth to refute, “I know you say that it isn’t true, that you just want to help Kyu but I know you and how quickly you get jealous and I can perfectly predict how your mind works by now. I can always see how jealous you get whenever Wookie is there with me. It’s cute but you should know by now that he’s just a little brother to me.” Jongwoon laughed and kissed his boyfriend’s head before Hyukjae could attempt to protest again.

Pouting, Hyukjae continued on, “So, as I was saying before you rudely interrupted me with wrong info, we were all catching up with each other’s lives. Sungmin-hyung asked us about our future plans or what our goals are five years from now.” Hyukjae’s gaze turned wistful. “Apparently, someone asked him and he wanted to know ours. Listening to the others’ enthusiastic plans, I realized that we never made any future plans for ourselves since we both lived in our day-to-day moments. But it made me wanna plan a future where... you know, where we are married and have kids. Fighting about small things and then making up soon after. I want people to be envious of you since you got me as a good catch,” Hyukjae added smugly, causing Jongwoon to hit his waist lightly before chuckling.

“You’re lucky to have me, too. We already fight about small things. Remember when you gave me the silent treatment because I compared your burnt toast to Wookie’s sandwich?” Jongwoon teased with a loud laugh.

Hyukjae pouted, not even finding any reason to deny it. Jongwoon laughed again and kissed the pout off his boyfriend’s face.

Hyukjae laid back against Jongwoon’s shoulder, satiated by the simple kiss. It was also because he couldn’t really get angry at him. Opening his mouth to break the peaceful silence, Hyukjae started telling his boyfriend more stories about what happened during the meetup, not even noticing that Jongwoon was only half-listening.

Jongwoon, on the other hand, moved his hand towards his pants, patting the object that he’d hidden in his pocket. A smile broke out on his face; sure, he was extremely nervous, but he was also very excited for Hyukjae’s reaction.

“Hyukkie, you love stars, right? You used to go stargazing and all that??” Jongwoon asked out of the blue.

“It's called astronomy, hyung. You should know about this by now,” Hyukjae said sarcastically, leaning away to roll his eyes properly at Jongwoon.

“Yes, that. Can you find a star for me now?” Jongwoon asked, sitting straight and looking up at the sky filled with stars.

“Sure, which one?” Hyukjae asked, sharpening his gaze at the sky. Astronomy was one of his favorite things in the world.

“Can you find the Polaris for me?” Jongwoon asked, turning his head towards his boyfriend.

Hyukjae looked excited. “Ah hyung, that’s an easy one. You see, the Polaris is the brightest one there is and it always follows the moon,” he said, enthusiastically pointing at one of the brightest stars in the sky. “Also, do you know that Polaris is also called the North star? Sailors used to follow this star whenever they got lost in the sea because this star always lies towards the north.”

When he looked back at Jongwoon, Hyukjae saw that he was smiling at him, fondness shining in his eyes. That look on his boyfriend’s face always managed to make him blush.

“I’m boring you again with useless star stories, aren’t I?” he said sheepishly, looking up at the star again to avoid looking into Jongwoon’s eyes.

Jongwoon had been staring at Hyukjae this whole time and he knew that there wasn't going to be a more perfect moment than this.

Shuffling away from Hyukjae to crouch in front of him, Jongwoon pulled his chin down to look his boyfriend in the eyes. “Actually, I already know that, I did my homework,” he said with a grin on his face.

“Homework? For what?” Hyukjae asked, confused.

“So I could make you tell this exact story and I could tell you this,” Jongwoon said, taking out the object he’d been hiding all this time and holding the tiny, velvet-blue box on his palm.

“You are my Polaris, Lee Hyukjae. No matter where I wander off to, busy with work, sometimes losing track of myself, you always bring me back home to you. Do you… do you want to make a home with me, so I can always make my way back to you? Will you marry me, Lee Hyukjae?”

A hushed silence enveloped them both, and the only sound they could hear was the waves crashing gently against the shore. Jongwoon looked at Hyukjae’s shocked face, seeing the tears shimmering in his eyes. He opened the box to reveal a beautiful ring with a sapphire in the middle.

Hyukjae immediately took the box from Jongwoon’s hand. Jongwoon stared at him, eyes wide and confused. Hyukjae didn’t seem to notice since he was busy gazing at the open box, staring at it intensely before eventually taking the ring and examining it in his hand.

Jongwoon watched Hyukjae gradually snap out from his trance and give him back the ring. With the widest grin on his face, Hyukjae stretched out his hand towards him.

Jongwoon blinked, then smiled at his weird and dramatic boyfriend before finally putting the ring on his finger.

In an instant, Hyukjae flung himself at Jongwoon who automatically opened his arms to catch him. However, he lost balance and they both fell back against the sand, Hyukjae laying on top of Jongwoon. However, they didn’t seem to mind the impact, only resorting to staring at each other’s eyes, witnessing the love they had in their respective gazes.

Hyukjae smiled and leaned down to capture Jongwoon’s lips, kissing him with a fervor so strong it almost took the latter’s breath away. Wrapping his arm around his boyfriend’s waist, Jongwoon closed the gap between their bodies and kissed him back with all the happy emotions that was currently pouring out of his chest like a tide.

When they broke apart for air, Hyukjae moved away to take a breath.

“Thank you for this… and for everything,” he said gratefully, and his eyes shone as though they were gathering tears. “Thank you for being in my life. I love you.”

Hyukjae pecked Jongwoon's lips again. Jongwoon responded by stroking the younger’s cheek while gazing into his eyes.

“You don't need to thank me,” Jongwoon said softly, sincerely. “Just promise me to never leave me and that’ll be enough.”

“I’m not going to leave you even in death, hyung…. You’re stuck with me forever," Hyukjae teased before laying his head on Jongwoon’s chest.

“Good. But I think it’ll be happening soon if you don't move away while I'm having trouble breathing,” Jongwoon deadpanned.

The words processed in Hyukjae’s head and he laughed, moving away from Jongwoon and raising his body into a sitting position so his boyfriend could breathe.

They both smiled at each other before Jongwoon eventually stood up, dusting the sand off his clothes. When he was done, he offered his hand towards Hyukjae.

Hyukjae’s smile grew wider as he took Jongwoon’s offered hand, letting the older man help him stand up. He then wrapped his now-fiancé into an embrace, resting his head on Jongwoon’s shoulder, burying his face in the crook of his neck. Jongwoon chuckled as he returned the hug with a tight squeeze.

“Let's go back, shall we?” Jongwoon invited, and the change of note in his voice made Hyukjae tilt his head upwards to look at his fiancé’s expression.

Jongwoon stared back at him, but this time there was something in his eyes that made Hyukjae’s heart stop. Seeing the desire in them, he felt his pulse race in anticipation.

Suddenly, Hyukjae broke out of his daze when he felt a hand on his ass. He nudged Jongwoon playfully and they both nodded as they began walking towards the direction of the hotel, their hands finding each other instinctively and letting their fingers intertwine.

Hyukjae, being the mischievous one, suddenly got an idea. Removing his hand from Jongwoon’s, he spun the older man around and, without any warning, jumped onto his back.

“Aagh!” Jongwoon exclaimed in surprise, feeling Hyukjae’s weight bearing down on his back. However, his arms instinctively came to support his fiancé by the thighs so that the latter wouldn’t topple backwards.

“Carry me back,” Hyukjae said cheerfully, and Jongwoon had no choice but to agree.

Especially because Hyukjae was suddenly close to his ear, the younger’s warm breath fanning across his sensitive skin.

So Jongwoon gave him a piggyback and effortlessly started walking back to the direction of their hotel. On the way, Hyukjae kept whispering random things in his ear, even not-so random ones that were practically borderline seductive, causing goosebumps to break out on Jongwoon’s skin as he listened to Hyukjae tell him all the things he’d like to do to him once they were back in their room.

Jongwoon cursed internally. Soon, he promised.

He’d have his revenge.