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Park Jaehyung looked hot under the bright Monaco sun. Granted that Kim Wonpil had always thought of him as hot, but Jae was sweating bullets on his forehead. His white shirt was starting to stick in places it shouldn’t be at 10 am, but his too-used-to-AC-all-the-time royal ass was starting to protest.

His boyfriend’s forehead glistened and if it weren’t for the tight knot forming in between his eyebrows, Wonpil would have teased Jae to no end.

“Well, you should have brought some water bottles from our hotel room,” Wonpil started.

Jaehyung turned his narrowed eyes from the beautiful gardens of the Casino Square to Wonpil. “If I thought it would be this hot today, I would have. Didn’t you think I would have done something about it?”

Wonpil rolled his eyes at Jae. “Okay, stop. We’re not fighting here, of all places —”

“Oh? Like we didn’t fight in Nice, or before that in Cannes, or before that in Saint Tropez —”

“Okay, I get it! Stop. Just buy your stupid water.”

This time, it was Jae who rolled his eyes at Wonpil before he went off to one side of the square where most kiosks were. They had been fighting ever since they started their coast of France tour. Actually, if they were more honest with each other, they would have said they had been fighting ever since they got together.

Theirs was a tumultuous relationship. Sometimes, Wonpil would catch their friends’ worried gaze at him and Jaehyung, and think that their relationship should have fizzled out around the time they all stopped being forced unto suspecting royal princesses or dignitaries.

The Royal Families of Kim and Park were as Princess Diaries as they got. Their parents are the reigning monarchs of their individual sovereignty. And although they were more symbolic rather than functional these days, they still try to present themselves as diplomatic as possible.

When he returned, the knot on Jaehyung’s forehead had smoothened out. He offered one bottle of water to Pil, before placing a chaste, apologetic kiss on his cheeks. “I’m sorry I’m being so difficult.”

“It’s fine. I’ve always known you’re the spoiled brat in this relationship,” Wonpil answered with a smile.

Jae guffawed at this. “Me? I’m the spoiled brat when I was the one who suggested mountain trekking in Southeast Asia for this anniversary trip?”

“Ugh, no. Think of the mud, Jaehyung.” Wonpil wrinkled his nose at the thought.

Jae laughed again. Wonpil loved Jaehyung’s laughs. He loved making him laugh and bring a little sunshine into his life. God knew his boyfriend needed the little ball of happiness or else, what was the point?

Wonpil shook his head off the dark thoughts. They were on their anniversary trip to destress, have fun, and ignore the royal noose around their necks for as long as they could.

Quite the timing, the walking tour guide had finally clapped his hands and beckoned for the other parties to gather around. Their walking tour would start.

“Lovely morning, everyone. Thank you for signing up for this free walking tour of La Condamine. As this is free, I would appreciate it if anyone could leave a review on TripAdvisor or Google so more people could join our trips in the future. Okay, shall we begin?”

They were a group of six people, which was pretty small for a walking group tour. Jae and Wonpil had started booking walking tours like this since they started this anniversary trip and found they enjoy having the local perspective and the anonymity the experience brought. No one would think the His Royal Highness Park Jaehyung and His Serene Highness Kim Wonpil would be out and about, mingling with backpackers from New Zealand, or a retiree from Milwaukee.

It was refreshing to hold hands and kiss with no one the wiser around them of the royal protocols they were flouting just to express their affection.

It was freeing, to be able to love with no holds barred.

Sure, they were fooling themselves thinking there was no security detail hiding behind their backs whenever they did trips like this. But as long as no one made a scene, they were fine.

They would be Jae and Wonpil for as long as this trip lasted.

Their walking tour for today promised they would be taken to off-the-beaten tracks. Local hideaways that filled the culture of Monaco that most high-class magazines would gloss over. They would be visiting a local bakery first, and then a local French Riviera neighborhood, before they ended the tour on the famous Saint-Dévore chapel.

An old couple talked animatedly with their guide as they walked towards a more casual side of the town. Monte Carlo was something straight out of fairy tale books set in a tropical setting. The buildings were decidedly European, with their architecture straight out of Belle Epoque. From the Casino Square, they walked not too far away, perhaps a kilometer or so, until the roads gave way to a cozy neighborhood. The smell of freshly baked bread wafted through the air until they found a quaint bakery tucked in the corner of a classical building.

“Alright, this is our first stop. This boulangerie had been here for almost as long as the Casino. We locals love our freshly baked bread and a strong coffee before we went through our day and this one here,” the pot-bellied tour guide tapped the brick walls of the shop, “Served the best at without losing an arm and a leg. Definitely not something tourist groups know, but for you guys, you’d remember the first bite of freshly baked croissant from this boulangerie for the rest of your lives. Enjoy.”

This earned a hearty chuckle from the old man who was with his wife for this tour.

The tour guide told them to relax and savor everything the patisserie could offer and they would leave in thirty minutes.

Jae offered to buy their food for them while Pil looked for a place to sit. At this point of the tour, the group was still awkward around one another. The backpacker lady and the middle-aged man were the only ones not in a couple so they gravitated towards one another and found themselves a table.

Jae got back with a tray of croissants, danish, a few macarons, and hot chocolate for both of them. He served the danish at Pil, fixed his cutleries, and handed him his cup of hot chocolate before the blonde man started with his own breakfast.

It was the little things like that, that would catch Wonpil off-guard. Jae had always been thoughtful of him in his own way. Once they got together, he would always take care of Pil in a way that seemed habitual, almost as if it was ingrained in his system.

Once Jae was settled with his drinks and pastry, he leaned back and smiled at Pil. “Do you remember the first time we met?”

Pil blushed. As a royal couple in hiding, they weren’t afforded the luxury of reminiscing their past quite a bit. The fact that Jae was the one being sentimental over this topic right now was even a surprise for Pil. “Yes,” he mumbled into his croissant.

Jae smiled softly. “I was, what, seven?”

Pil nodded.

“And I was lost,” Jae continued with a laugh. “I swear, there really was a kid who lured me out of the security group. He told me there were croissants and hot chocolate for me if I followed him.”

“Do you realize that it could have been a scam and you could have gotten kidnapped then?”

Jae shushed him before he continued and looked at him pointedly, “The point I’m making here, is that it was fate.”

Wonpil snorted.

“Stop snorting, it’s unbecoming,” Jae robotically said. Manner classes had been drilled like deep wells into their brains, so quips like this were their knee-jerk reactions. “Anyway, as I was romantically saying…”

Wonpil laughed his wheezy laugh. “You were being romantic?”

“I am, or I was but you keep on derailing me.” Jae pouted.

Wonpil took a sip of his hot chocolate then before he moaned out loud and pointed at the cup at the level of his chest, “Oh, this is so good. You should try it.”

Jae smiled smugly at him, “I already did.”

“What?” Wonpil looked at him in confusion for a few seconds before he got what Jae was insinuating. “Oh. Oh. Park Jaehyung, calm yourself. We’re outside.”

Wonpil’s fiery blush was making his heart and other parts of Jae feel things. “What? I’m just telling the truth. It really was good.”

“The chocolate. I was referring to the chocolate.”

“Well, that too.” Jae shrugged.

“Anyway, go back to your story! I want to hear how you avoided getting kidnapped at seven,” Wonpil said before he finished off his croissant.

This time, Jae’s smile was softer, the one he usually gave Wonpil when it was just them and Wonpil needed reassuring. Or even on times when he didn’t need reassurance. It was Jaehyung’s smile that told Wonpil this man loved him enough to grace him with this beautiful smile. He was the reason for his happiness, and that was better than any kingdom, title, or wealth anyone could give Kim Wonpil.

“And then I followed the kid into this bakery. Our favorite bakery. I lost the kid but I found you there, quietly sitting and tucking into your croissant and hot chocolate.”

Jae paused. “Maybe it was you all along.”

Wonpil knew Jae was referring to the imaginary kid he was playing with that time, but his words sounded as if it were pertaining to something different. Maybe it was Wonpil all along, in a way that it had always been for Jae.

Jae wouldn’t know this, but Wonpil could still remember clearly the way Jae barged into the door of the bakery that day. Wonpil was feeling unbearably lonely. As a sunny child, he wasn’t familiar with loneliness. He was always surrounded with people - his parents, his sister, his bodyguards. But somehow, that day, everyone passed him onto someone until he found himself alone at the bakery.

He didn’t know how to deal with the feeling of being unbearably alone. It was his first time feeling it and it was overwhelming his tiny body. He prayed then, into his croissant and chocolate and the universe at large, to never feel lonely again.

It really was like fate, the way Jaehyung barged into the bakery right at that moment.

Wonpil reached a hand out to cover Jae’s on the table. “I’m just happy you didn’t get kidnapped at seven.”

Jae choked on his danish.

 

After they finished breakfast at the bakery, their group went ahead to stroll around the La Condamine. There were twists and turns to the roads until finally, they reached a small farmer’s market. The tour guide let them roam around and see the authentic Monegasque experience for themselves.

Jae and the old married couple went off to an ice cream cart at one corner of the market. The backpacker and the widower stayed together and went to see what baubles could be found among the stalls.

Once Jae was back with their ice cream cones, Wonpil tugged on his boyfriend’s hand and cocked his head in the direction of the small plaza. “Let’s hang out there.”

The fountain was relatively small, something definitely smaller than the ones on the Place du Casino. There were kids playing ball, shrieking and laughing without any care in the world.

Jae watched as Wonpil looked at the children with a soft smile on his face. It wasn’t news to him that Kim Wonpil’s dream was to love a kid (or two) some day. He could see it now: Wonpil bathed in the soft morning light with a bundle of joy in his arms, fussing over the kid, and crying when the kid did.

Right now, years before the eventuality, Jae knew Wonpil would love his kid terribly and to the point of heartache. There was nothing Kim Wonpil wouldn’t give to the kid. That kid would never want for love or affection. Wonpil would just shower the kid with his endless love, the love that Jaehyung knew first hand.

Their relationship hadn’t been the smoothest. They found each other and began to fall in love like puzzle pieces fitting each other. There wasn’t anything Jae was more sure of than being with Wonpil. But being the princes of their own nations had proven to be the third party in their relationship every damn time.

It was the phantom that haunted every waking hour they had.

Even right now, there were shadows behind Wonpil’s smiles that pinched Jae’s heart. Jae was given an ultimatum by his parents. He had to settle down within the year or be forced to abdicate. If it was just him, he would abdicate. He wouldn’t even need five minutes to think about it. If the choice went down between Wonpil or the world, he would choose Wonpil in a heartbeat.

But he knew his partner, his soulmate, the love of his life, wouldn’t want that for him.

Wonpil knew the sacrifices Jae had already made for his country. For God’s sake, Jae had back to back degrees in law, political science, and international relations. He was finishing up his doctorate in public policy. For Wonpil, Jae was almost as invested with his country as much as he was with their relationship.

(Jae knew this because Wonpil really explained this analysis in one of their fights before this trip.)

Jae sighed and placed one hand inside his pants pocket. He licked his ice cream cone absentmindedly as he fiddled with the box he had been carrying since this trip. At every stop on this tour, he would ask Wonpil to marry him. And every damn time, Wonpil would turn him down.

It wasn’t because Wonpil didn’t love him enough to marry him. No, Jae was safe and secure in Wonpil’s love.

It was just, Wonpil didn’t know if their relationship was something they should choose over their responsibilities.

At the end of the day, they were princes. Sovereigns that were meant to serve their countrymen’s greater interest. To pursue their love meant to turn their backs on their country. They haven’t even made their relationship public yet. How could they get married? How could they choose one another if or when their country chooses another person for them?

Jae was annoyed by Wonpil’s dumb reservation, but he respected them. Between the two of them, he knew he was the rash, impulsive one. Wonpil would flip a challenge into its head, upside down, sideways, and inside out before he chose how to deal with it. This often made them clash against one another but eventually, with more difficulty than one could imagine, they managed to grow around each other’s rough edges. They learned how to work together rather than against each other.

Wonpil made the impulsive Jae stop and ponder before acting. Jae made the reserved Wonpil spontaneous. And together, they were better people because of each other.

And he hoped people, their people, would understand this of them.

He couldn’t wait to tell the world how amazing and wonderful Kim Wonpil was and how blessed and fortunate Park Jaehyung was for being loved and chosen by someone as brilliant as Wonpil.

He noticed Wonpil was smiling into his cone with a flush on his cheeks.

“What are you blushing for?” Jae asked with a mock glare directed at Wonpil.

His boyfriend shrugged. “Nothing. I just remembered this strawberry ice cream we had in Paris.”

Jae blushed. He could remember that date. After all, it was their first date. They were thirteen, in Paris for a UN delegation. Wonpil was there as his parent’s trophy son. The son who had nothing to do but look pretty and behave for the cameras. Jae was there as one of his parent’s representatives. Jae was stressed for this keynote speech he was about to deliver. This wasn’t Model UN anymore. Suddenly, it was suits, climate change, and public policies his teenage mind couldn’t wrap itself around.

He was on the edge of a mental breakdown and Wonpil was there to help him sort out his messy thoughts. Wonpil made sense of his anxieties and worries until he was able to present his speech flawlessly. Afterwards, at the hall, teenage Jae would pull teenage Wonpil in one of the dark alcoves of the building they were in and hug the hell out of him. In his giddiness, he blurted out that they should go out for ice cream that night.

They had ice cream by the river Seine in autumn.

For Wonpil, he would remember the vivid colors of that autumn. The leaves were a myriad of yellows, orange, and red. The ice cream cone they had was pale pink, like Jae’s cheeks before he leaned in for a kiss before the night ended.

He tasted like strawberries and the sweetness of first loves.

 

At some point, they moved farther away from Port Hercules and towards mainland Monaco. Their tour guide led them to unsuspecting neighborhoods. There was one memorable house that looked like the usual Belle Epoque style building that was built by a rich merchant for a lover that soon traded him off for another.

Just before noon, they reached the Princess Antoinette Park. For all the times Wonpil and Jae would find themselves here at Monaco before, they never really got a chance to visit parks and just watch nature. Most of the time, Wonpil would drag Jae to watch the Grand Prix with him, despite Jae knowing absolutely nothing about it.

The park wasn’t filled with flowers the way the gardens of Luxembourg were. Instead, there were olive trees that populated the area. That, and a lot of kids. It was a park made for kids, after all.

Wonpil was in heaven. The salty breeze coming from Port Hercules mingled and cooled by the trees and plants around them. Finding a bench to rest their sore legs, Wonpil dragged Jae to just sit still and watch the world move around them.

Just this, sitting in silence with Jae, was a luxury they both didn’t have back in their countries.

Jae reached over and held Wonpil’s hand in his as they watched a group of kids play around with a ball.

“It makes me remember all those times we’d wreck your sister’s rose garden,” Wonpil said as he snickered quietly.

Jae sighed dramatically. “You’d think that with Younghyun and Dowoon having a crush on Grace, they’d behave better. But no. Good thing Sungjin was great at terrorizing Dowoon.”

They both snickered at the memories.

Lost in their reminiscing, they didn’t notice when the old married couple sat on the bench near theirs. They watched Jae and Wonpil snicker and talk about their friends with a smile on their face before the old man called over.

“How long have you two been together?” he asked with a fond smile.

That made Jae and Wonpil stop. Wonpil sat up straighter. They didn’t get questions like this often. If no one knew you were in a relationship, of course you don’t get asked this question. It made him… happy, to even be asked this simple question.

With a smile, he answered, “For too long now.”

Jae took offense and pulled at their joined hands. “Hey!”

The old couple chuckled fondly at them. The old woman turned to her husband and asked in a soft, adoring voice, “Remember when we were the old married couple in our friends before we were even married?”

“Good times. I love the married times as fondly, too.” He smiled at her.

At first, Jae was a bit hesitant to answer the old man’s question. After all, they didn’t know who was part of the paparazzi or not. It wasn’t easy to answer questions from strangers without igniting a scandal. So he held his mouth shut.

But now that the old couple seemed just as they were, Jae was able to breathe a little easier. Just then, an idea occurred to him. What if…

“Really? Married life is as amazing as the unmarried one?” Jae asked with interest. Beside him, Wonpil turned to him with suspicion in his eyes.

What are you planning, Jae?

Jae shrugged a little too innocently at Wonpil’s look.

“Well, I’d say there are pros and cons,” the man started.

“Oh, I love discussing pros and cons. Right, babe?” Jae winked at Pil. By then, Wonpil was starting to catch up with what Jae was planning. He gripped his hand tighter in his hand as a warning.

“Cons, you will never hear the end of the argument. Ever. And you’ll always be wrong,” the man chuckled. His wife playfully swatted his arm here.

“The pros, sons, are the best part though.” The old man’s playful eyes turned soft and warm as he looked at his wife. “You’ll come home to her at the end of the day, and that outweighs all the bad.”

Jae exchanged a look with Pil. With their residence in two different countries, although neighboring, their concept of home was different than most. Whenever they could escape, whenever they could attend the same functions, they would gravitate towards each other. Their hands would find the other. Small touches here and there, as if to confirm that the other was really there.

They were each other’s home but their lives needed more than the assurance of being with each other. They had to find a common ground. A literal common ground. There were thousands of protocols they had to clear just to be able to declare where they would settle, and even then it would be imbued with political shenanigans. Jae would find all the right words, but in Wonpil’s mind, it all boiled down to one thing: they were too royal to be together.

“Oh, you’re silly, Nichkhun. Kids, I have an answer, too,” the old woman piped in. Jae and Wonpil broke their stare off to look at her. “The cons, well, obviously, you’ll have to live with him all the time. The pros, regardless of where you are, where he is, you’ll always know somewhere in this world, you belonged to one place, and that is him.”

“So, basically what he said but in better words,” Jae joked. Wonpil elbowed him.

“Well, if you have to be blunt,” the woman laughed. “Most kids nowadays are obsessed with the concept of home. Or our kids do. They would get into fights where to settle down and sure, that is important. But at the end of the day, you only have to know who you’re going home to. Does the where really have to outweigh the who?”

 

The conversation with the old couple only derailed the calm Wonpil had from basking in the beauty of nature. They walked further into the La Parc and into the Exotic Gardens. There, they caught up with the widower and the backpacker.

Apparently, Jae wasn't done ruining their entire day. He asked the widower what the pros and cons of marriage was, just like he did with the old married couple.

“Kevin, you mentioned you were once married before?” Jae began.

Kevin didn’t even flinch at the question. “Yup. Why are you asking?”

Jae didn’t miss the look he shot at the backpacker. Interesting.

“Nothing. I just want to know what opinion you have on marriage. Like, say, any pros and cons?”

“Are you two planning to get married?” Kevin asked.

“Not anytime soon,” Wonpil answered quickly.

“What he said. Only because he’s making it difficult for me,” Jae smiled at Wonpil who was still pouting.

The backpacker, Lisa, chuckled at their playfulness.

“Well, I wouldn’t advocate for it if you’re already happy with what you have. It’s not for everyone, for one. If you asked me if I’d do it all over again, maybe. But only with the right person. With the right person, you do everything to make them happy. Damn what the world wants.”

Jae stared at the widower. He wasn’t expecting the answer to be this strong and serious. If anything, he wanted to have a cautionary perspective that he could argue against. He didn’t think someone who had loved and lost would have this opinion about marriage.

The widower noticed how baffled Jae must have been. “Don’t get me wrong, it was hard to lose a person you love beyond life. But,” he shrugged. “What the hell? We only have a short while to live. Would I have rather spent my life without her or without the pain? The answer is obvious. I’d choose to live with the pain than live without her.”

Jae expected Wonpil to be crying at this point. He was the affectionate one in their relationship. True enough, there were tears starting to form in the corner of his eyes.

“And what about you, Lisa? What’s your take on marriage?”

The playful smile on her face turned sad before she shrugged. “I wouldn’t know, to be honest. I’m not a believer.”

“Finally!” Jae exclaimed, to which all three pairs of eyes looked at him oddly.

“Buddy, I thought you’re convincing your boyfriend here to marry you,” Kevin said with confusion on his face.

Meanwhile, Wonpil had already caught up with Jae’s ridiculous mind and rolled his eyes at his boyfriend. “He’s itching for a fight. He’s just waiting for anyone to oppose him.”

“Babe, you know me too well, which is why you should marry me,” Jae said as he winked at Pil. “And it’s not fighting, it’s debating.”

“Please, do not even start with Jae. He’s armed with overpriced degrees in political science and law.”

“So he’s an asshole,” Lisa quipped playfully. The glitter in her eyes were back.

“That’s right,” Wonpil raised a hand for a high five.

“See, you two aren’t married yet but you’re already ribbing like one,” Kevin exclaimed.

“Guys, we’re getting distracted here,” Jae cut in before he put on a serious expression on his face. “The crowd needs to know: why are you without any opinion about one of life’s biggest milestones?”

Lisa shrugged again. “I don’t know. I guess it’s just not for me. And also, someone must oppose the institution of marriage in this group. Widower here didn’t want to do it, so I guess I’d take it on.”

They all looked at her in varying expressions of curiosity. Wonpil was the one who broke the silence. “Did anyone hurt you?”

“Aren’t we all?” Lisa answered drily. “No, I’m kidding. I’m not. I just… I don’t believe it’s a requirement. When you love someone, what matters is you choose them every single day. On difficult days, and on easy days. Does one short ceremony do anything to change that? No.”

Instead of buckling up for a fight, Jae’s eyes sought Wonpil’s, as if asking, Was this it? Was this why you couldn’t say yes?

Wonpil faced Jae’s seeking stare head on, knowing what was running through his mind. Does it really matter if we have the rings?

“Here’s the thing I truly, truly believe in: we’re all humans. Whatever we chose to do with our lives,” Lisa shrugged, “is up to us. No one has a say whether we should or shouldn’t get married. Do you want to spend the rest of your lives together? Then do it. You don’t need anyone’s approval. Life’s short.”

Beside her, Kevin nodded. “Truly, life is short.”

 

Thankfully, the guide had collected them for the day to proceed on their last stop. A dinner with a local that promised authentic Monegasque cuisine and stories for them.

The host was an old man who had witnessed more things in his lifetime than possible. He was there when Grace Kelly went on that courtesy call that led her to meeting Prince Rainier III. Their family tv was swarmed by their entire neighborhood, in this quaint and very rustic home he was hosting their tour group, for the first ever media overkill that was the royal wedding. He was also there when the beloved princess died and when the prince surrendered himself to a life without the princess.

It seemed only fitting to talk about another royal couple, a successful royal partnership that Jae and Wonpil could only dream of. When the old married couple called it a night and the adventurous backpacker and widower remained at the dinner table with their host, Jae escaped the slightly humid dinner table for the refreshing night breeze outside.

The house had a small courtyard shared by two more houses. Right now, nearing midnight, the only house lit was their host’s. It was peaceful and quiet, which made Jae feel the absence of the royal mantle from his shoulders.

Monaco was so much like his home yet so different. It felt like he had worn the skin of someone not-Prince Park Jaehyung. He didn’t know if who he was today was enough to be called ‘Jae’, because who was he without his crown? Who was Jae without the Prince?

Looking at the moon and the stars, his mind found comfort in his memories. Of rose gardens where a tiny hand would find his, holding on for stability. His was the only safe ground he needed when the world spun around him at dizzying speed. His arms were the only place that mattered under the sun, moon, and stars.

With Wonpil, he was Jae. Not his titles. Not his responsibilities. He was the boy who found another lonely soul. He was the teenager who found a kindred spirit and a soulmate. He was the man who dedicated his whole life to the gummy smiles, the warm hugs, curly hair up his face in sunny mornings, and his too big of a heart.

Before his mind could go on and on, he felt a pair of arms go round his frame. “Jaehyung~”

Ah. He’s already drunk.

Their host had bottles upon bottles of wine served for dinner and the Lisa and Kevin plied Wonpil with wine, thinking almost drowning his boyfriend with alcohol would get him to soften up.

In a way, he kind of did.

“How many bottles have you had?” Jae asked as he folded his hands over Wonpil’s on his tummy.

Wonpil only giggled before placing a kiss on the back of Jaehyung’s neck. “Hmmm…”

“Hmmm what? How many?” Jae pulled Wonpil’s arms tighter around him.

“Maybe like…”

“Oh, God. You’re completely wasted,” Jae shook his head.

“No! I’m not.” Jae could already hear the pout in Wonpil’s voice before the smaller man started to inch even closer to Jae.

Jae half turned in Wonpil’s arms so he could see his boyfriend better. “How drunk are you? Honestly?”

Wonpil’s cheek had the tell-tale Asian blush, a playful half-smile, before he leaned and placed a chaste kiss on Jae’s lips. “I can sober up on the way back to our hotel.”

Jae continued to look into Wonpil’s eyes. The moon and the stars lend their brightness to the galaxy within Wonpil’s self. Sometimes, Jae would get overwhelmed at how Wonpil was his entire universe. He raised his eyebrows at Wonpil, Are you really good?

Wonpil smirked.

Oh.

Oh.

They really need to sober up Pil.

They walked back to their hotel room in varying stages of clinginess. They left their host’s home with their hands entwined. At some point between La Condamine and their hotel at Port Hercules, Wonpil had found himself hugging one of Jae’s arms.

At one intersection, they stopped and Wonpil stood on his tiptoes. He made sure to have his hands burn a teasing path through Jae’s side, slowly up his chest, where one of his hands lingered over Jae’s heart, before finding purchase at his nape. His thumb caressed the throbbing artery on his neck, before he laid a slow burning kiss on his boyfriend’s neck.

His mouth traveled upwards, towards Jae’s full lips. He pulled at the lower lip with his teeth, careful not to bite down, but enough to spark Jae’s interest, before he swiped the tip of his tongue on Jae’s lower lip. He had always loved the taste of Jae’s lip. He made another pass, this time with the middle of his tongue against Jae’s lip, making sure he’d get his full flavor on his tongue.

Jae leaned forward, his warm, big hands cupping Wonpil’s face to deepen the kiss. He sucked in a breath before his mouth closed in on Pil’s equally wanting mouth. Getting back at Pil’s assault, Jae made sure to give Wonpil’s loving mouth the affection he gave him earlier.

They pulled and swiped at each other’s mouth, their bodies grinding against each other, under the bright Monegasque moon, lost in each other’s embrace. They would have stood there until the end of time when a series of honks brought them apart.

Teenagers. They’re just the worst.

They reluctantly pulled apart, with their eyes seeking each other the moment they opened. There was promise of more, later. They turned around and checked the light.

Red.

Orange.

Green.

The remaining blocks on their way to the hotel were all a blur to Pil. He was sure it wasn’t the wine. Jae’s kiss made sure the alcohol was thoroughly burned by the heat and wanting flowing in his veins.

They crashed into their hotel room in a flurry of limbs, with clothes strewn all over the receiving area. Tomorrow, Jae would feel the armrest that dug into the small of his back when Wonpil pushed him over it, their lips sealed over each other. He would remember how Jae’s touch felt warm, too warm, on his cold and needy body. The way they wrapped around each other, skin to skin.

Jae pulled away from their kiss, his pupils blown out, and tried to shimmy his way to sit properly on the sofa. Meanwhile, Wonpil would discard his pants and stand before Jae only in his boxers.

“I’m horribly overdressed,” Jae quipped, his voice deeper than the usual honey sweet tone he would use.

Wonpil wordlessly kneeled down before him. His hand making their way from Jaehyung’s knees, feeling the power and strength of his thighs. He could worship those thighs. Jae only looked lanky and all limbs, but his thighs were a magnificent thing of beauty, especially when they are around his ears as Jaehyung reached for his peak.
His hands caressed Jae’s inner thighs over the denim. Inside, and over. Inside, and over. In a maddening repetition until Jae felt like he would catch fire very soon from Wonpil’s ministrations.

Blessedly, Pil’s hands travelled up, up to his narrow hips, before tracing the edge of his pants on his waist, and finding purchase on the button of his pants. “Pil,” he moaned.

“Babe, let me take care of you tonight,” Pil vowed.

Jae couldn’t find any word to answer. His brain was frying itself in the overload of desire flooding through his bloodstream. He nodded fervently.

Pil dragged the zipper down to reveal the bulge of Jae’s cock clothed by his favorite CKs. With a gentle touch, he traced the curve, feeling the soft rigidness of Jae’s member. His mouth watered. Licking his swollen lips, Wonpil hooked his thumb under Jae’s underwear and pants before he softly asked him to lift up. In one swift motion, Jae’s pants were down to his shins, his cock bobbed, curving to the side.

Wonpil’s hand immediately found its way to the base of Jae’s cock, his thumb caressing the underside of it, earning a moan from Jaehyung. He pressed a soft kiss on its weeping slit. “Pil…”

“Babe, I’m here…” Pil softly answered as he peppered kisses all over the bell head of the cock, down the sides, before turning to the underside of it where the head joined the rest of his dick. There, he pressed a lingering kiss, playfully sucking a little with his lips that made Jae gasp and his hips lift off from the couch. “Pil, stop playing around.”

“What, we’re here to have fun, right?”

Pil tried to make out Jae’s face in the dark. He was sure his partner was pouting that cute and pitiful expression on his face. “Alright, baby. You win. You know I can’t resist you.”

And with that, Wonpil took Jae into his mouth. He loved going down on Jae. Something about Jae’s trust that Pil won’t do him harm filled Wonpil with so much affection. The littlest things from Jae often meant the most, which was why Pil treasured the trust and affection Jae would turn over to him.

Jae was pretty big. Wonpil could only compare with what he saw from videos, but Jae’s cock could pretty much fill his mouth. He savored the taste and feeling of his partner’s member before he moved off, his mouth still closed over Jae’s dick, sucking and making sure his tongue caressed the underside of his dick.

“Pil…!”

He loved hearing Jae moan his name out loud. He went down again, up, and down. Again and again. He made sure to taste every inch of Jae. When he thought he had loved his dick properly, Wonpil moved towards Jae’s sac, pressed a kiss on the underside before he gave it a teasing lick.

Jae was losing his mind. Wonpil knew his blowjobs were the best he had ever had and tonight, his love was on a fighting form. He didn’t hold back on everything Jae loved. He was a quivering mess under Wonpil’s loving and they were just beginning.

“Babe, you can’t come yet,” Wonpil warned.

“Ugh. I can’t anymore…”

“Babe…”

“No, come on. Come up here and give me a kiss.”

“No.” This time, it was Wonpil who was pouting at Jae. It was such a sight to see his partner on his knees, an adorable pout on his swollen lips, with his dick very dangerously near his lovely mouth.

God, this must be a punishment for all his sins.

Wonpil turned back to Jae’s dick. This time, he started out slow, getting Jae’s dick inside his mouth inch by delicious inch… until it reached the back of his throat, before he began to swallow. Jae’s hand shot off and found Wonpil’s naturally curly hair and held tight. The sting of the hair root getting pulled from his scalp only fueled the raging desire coursing through Wonpil at that moment.

He couldn’t take it anymore.

He removed one hand from Jae’s dick and stole a glance at his partner. Jae was looking at him, and let out a small gasp when Wonpil removed one of his hands.

Ah, so he wanted no hands then.

He moved his hand to its original destination, to his own cock, tugging it out of his underwear and began to pump it slowly. Jae’s eyes widened at the sight.

Kim Wonpil, with his cock in his hand and Jae’s dick in his mouth. Jae needed nothing else at that moment.

Except, maybe Wonpil was upping the ante. Wonpil removed his other hand from Jae’s dick and moved it to his thigh before Jae felt Wonpil swallow his cock and hummed.

The fucker really hummed. Good god, the sensation. He could feel every delicious vibration on his dick. Wonpil’s warm and wet mouth and throat coupled with his humming…

It was ending Jae.

His nostrils flared as he sucked up air. Wonpil released his hold on Jae, choking a little on his own spit, and took a deep breath.

In a deliciously low and husky voice, Jae asked, “Do I have your permission to go a little wild? Like, deep throat you?”

Wonpil’s eyes gleamed mischievously. He tore out of his underwear and made comfortable on the floor. Jae hurriedly fixed one of the big rectangular cushions off the couch and under Pil’s knees which were beginning to turn red. His big hands caressed the tender skin.

In a deep voice, quite unusual for Kim Wonpil, he answered, “Go crazy, babe.”

In a flash, something changed over Jae’s expression. The crazy energy between the two of them thrummed with dark and wild anticipation. Jae shifted over the couch by moving his butt to the edge of the seat. He cupped Wonpil’s chin and caressed his thumb on one of his cheeks. “You’ve been doing pretty well, baby.”

Wonpil leaned against his touch, closed his hands and melted into a goo of emotions.

“You’ve made me proud.” Jae took his dick and traced Wonpil’s lips with the head. “You’ve taken me very well. You can take more of me, right?”

“Yes,” Wonpil whispered in acquiescence before he opened his mouth to take Jae in.

“No, baby. Not yet. Open your eyes. Look at me. Yes, I want to see your pretty eyes as you take. Me. In.”

And with that, Jae pushed his dick into Wonpil’s waiting mouth. His dick touched the back of Wonpil’s throat. His partner gagged once, twice, as he pumped deep into him.

He loosened his hold and let Wonpil suck in a breath before he drilled back into his throat again. One of his hands loosened his grip on Wonpil’s hair and gently cupped the back of Wonpil’s head, gently sifting through his locks like a careful lover while he deepthroated his partner.

The contrast of Jae’s wild dicking to his gentle caressing of the back of his head was driving Wonpil insane. Jae knew how much Wonpil loved headpats, or had him sift his fingers through his hair. The gentleness of his touch over someplace weirdly erogenous for Pil was enough to bring him to the edge.

It only made Wonpil want Jae more.

A few thrusts later and Jae felt the familiar tug at the small of his back. He patted Wonpil gently on his cheek before the smaller man released him.

“I’m close,” Jae said.

Wonpil leaned back on his hands as he caught his breath. He watched as Jae ran to their room to get some square foils and a bottle of lube before he tore one square with his teeth. Jae pinched the tip and slowly rolled it over his member. “Babe, you good?”

Wonpil nodded, still a little dazed.

“I need your words, baby.”

“Yes. Fuck me, your highness,” Wonpil answered in a husky voice.

Something dangerous flashed in Jaehyung’s eyes before he bent down and scooped Wonpil off the floor. He dumped the smaller man unceremoniously into one of the loveseats before he covered Wonpil’s lips with his.

“You want this, babe?” Jae asked again. He just had to make sure.

Wonpil only wrapped a hand on his nape and pulled him closer. “I swear, Jaehyung, your kink for consent gets in my way sometimes, but god. God!”

“God what?” Jae smirked. “Pil, pretty sure this isn’t the time to call me as your god yet.”

“Ugh! You’re insufferable,” Pil said before he raised his upper body to kiss Jae deeply. “Baby, just fuck me. I need you inside me. Now.”

“As you wish, your serene highness,” Jae answered. He felt for the bottle of lube that rolled on the floor a few moments earlier and poured it over his fingers and some on Wonpil’s tight bud. Gently, he inserted one, two fingers, and made sure Pil was comfortable enough to handle him.

“Babe, please…” Pil moaned before he cupped Jae’s jaw and brought it closer to his face to kiss. Wonpil loved kissing Jae while he thrusted inside him. For him, kissing felt more intimate and feeling Jae’s cock thrusting inside him while he kissed him only upped the experience.

He let out a gasp as he felt Jae enter him.

“Fuck, babe. You’re so tight,” Jae said in between gritted teeth. He pulled out slowly, before he thrusted back again.

As the sensation heightened, Jae could feel his heart soar. It wasn’t the same coupling they did in between delegations or the quickies in coat rooms. It was different from the sex they had in their stops on this anniversary trip, too. Somehow, the wisdom they’ve found over the day and the vulnerability they peeled off at dinner tonight made everything feel so raw.

Somehow, every thrust, every breath, every gasp, every moan was a milestone, one farther than the last. Somehow, he knew they would be different people after this.

This was a turning point.

When they reached their peaks, Jae would remember having an out of body experience. He would remember seeking Wonpil’s lips and pressing him against his. Pressing his vow, the oath he would say again and again, in iterations of words that had failed to persuade Wonpil. But this time, the absence of words and the fullness of their emotions were the only ones persuading him.

And somehow, when Wonpil cupped his face again, their foreheads against each other, Jae knew in his heart the change was for the better. There was a release that went above sexual. As if they were liberated from some invisible shackles. His dazed mind couldn’t comprehend it yet. But somehow, he felt freer. He felt lighter.

With Wonpil’s arms around him, he felt home.

 

The following morning, Wonpil would wake up with the warmth of the sun on his face and Jaehyung’s embrace from behind him. The sheets were soft against his skin, the linen embracing him like his lover did.

Last night was a revelation. At dinner, Kevin and Lisa plied him with alcohol and their own stories to made him realize he was being dumb for holding back.

Why wouldn’t you just marry him?

It’s complicated. We’re very complicated.

I’m sure you two are, a snort.

But here’s the thing: we all are. Nothing in this world didn’t come without its own complications. Happiness would always have a price tag. Whatever’s stopping you, someone had paid more than that before to get a tiny bit of what you have now.

But I can’t just choose Jaehyung.

Why? Life is too short to hold back on taking the only happiness you’ll have.

Perhaps it wasn’t just that. Perhaps it was the years of finding each other, growing with each other, and experiencing the world with each other. It’s realizing they could have Nice, Cannes, Saint Tropez, and Monte Carlo, over and over again, in places they know and not know, as Jae and Wonpil, if only they were brave enough to grasp this little happiness they had grown and fostered between each other.

It was the only thing in the world that was theirs. This small hope. This small shining beacon of light, warmth, and love. It was their home without a postal code.

It was their kingdom. Their own without the political bullshit and damn it all to hell, they would keep it for themselves.

Wonpil would turn in Jae’s sleepy embrace and marvel at Jae’s sleeping face. The worried knot in between Jae’s eyebrows was nowhere to be seen. Gently with his thumb, he caressed Jae’s cheekbones. Tiny but prominent. He’d press a tiny flutter of a kiss over his lips that would make his partner scrunch up his nose in that absurdly cute way.

Later that day, after an oath of their own, Jae would slide the ring he had brought with him onto Pil’s hand in front of Sainte Devote. They would lay a bunch of wildflowers on the statue of the saint before they left the church with their hands clasped into one another’s.