Constancy is not something Daisuke values too much.
He welcomes change.
Or at least, he finds himself growing more and more used to the erratic pace in which his surroundings shift, with the need to step into different foreign land nearly every other week to complete jobs across the globe.
However, despite the rapid flickering of his surroundings, there is one thing that Daisuke finds which goes against the tide. The now single constant within his ever changing life in the form of warmth— warmth of a hand against his own as he walks down foreign streets, warmth spreading throughout his face as he feels lips against his skin, and warmth surrounding him as a pair of arms embrace him tight.
Which is why he awakens upon feeling the absence of his source of warmth from beside him.
The thick comforter sheet rustles as he begins the slow process of waking up. His eyes open as he stretches his limbs, head turning to the side to find that his lover has indeed left the bed.
He sits up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes in an attempt to fight the urge to fall back into the bed and resume his beauty sleep. As soon as he gets up, he begins to trudge through the large expanse of the hotel suite.
His feet take him to the bathroom, and he's displeased to find it unlocked and empty.
With a sigh, he returns to the other end of the suite. He grabs his cellphone from the night stand before settling onto the plush couch facing the floor to ceiling window.
Their stay at the Park Hyatt hotel was an inadvertent decision on his part. He recalls how Haru had been peeking onto his screen while he had been looking for a place to stay in Seoul, where their next job would be held.
"I want to stay at that one," Haru had told him, pointing at one of the items in the list of five star hotels that HEUSC had compiled.
"Any particular reason for this decision, Inspector?" Daisuke had asked without looking at him. He holds off booking the largest suite then and there, feigning nonchalance as he questions his lover despite knowing he'd heed his request regardless of reason.
"Park Hyatt," Haru reads aloud in English, accent still thick despite his now frequent use of the language.
"Doesn't sound too fancy," he concludes, before following the conclusion up with "I don't want to stay at the Grand Hyatt. Sounds expensive. Park seems more commoner-friendly, no?"
Daisuke has to physically resist the urge to scratch his head, his lover's logic simultaneously baffling and amazing him.
At least pointing out the differences in connotation between the words 'Park' and 'Grand' proved that he's been making a lot of progress with his English comprehension. Daisuke decides he just won't tell him that the two hotels reign from the same company, and aren't both called Hyatt out of mere coincidence.
The memory is enough to tug at the corners of his mouth, but it downturns once more, a frown replacing it before it could morph into a full smile.
He stares down at his cellphone screen, fingers flying rapidly across the touch screen to compose a text message asking Haru where he had gone off to.
Right as he's about to send the message, he hears the resounding click of the front door lock being disabled by their room keycard, followed by the sound of it opening. He doesn't bother glancing over his shoulder. Instead, he sets his phone down, arms coming up to cross over his chest in as much of a disapproving stance as he can possibly muster while seated.
He's about to vocalize the text message he had been about to send, but the words die in his throat when he feels a pair of arms wrap loosely around his neck from behind. He feels the thick, messy locks on Haru's head tickle his neck as the man buries his face into the dip between it and his shoulder.
"You're up early. I thought you'd sleep in a bit more," Haru murmurs, "You must be exhausted from the mission."
"I would have," Daisuke starts, eyebrows narrowing but the rest of his features, and tone, void of any irritation or malice, "But you left me, and it was cold," he states, as a matter-of-factly.
Haru chuckles, pulling his arms away and circling the couch to take a seat beside Daisuke. It's large and spacious, with room for about 2 more people to fit comfortably, but Haru snuggles up next to him anyway.
“I’m sorry,” Haru says quietly, pressing a light kiss to the side of his head.
The verbal acknowledgement to his apology is left unsaid, and Daisuke chooses to curl up against him instead. Haru’s arms open to accommodate him against his chest, and Daisuke is enveloped in that same familiar warmth he so badly craves every single moment of every day.
Again, Daisuke considers asking where he’s been, but ultimately decides not to. If Haru wants to share, he knows he will. Besides, it’s his first time in Seoul, and Daisuke’s sure he’s just excited to go sightseeing, if the various tripadvisor articles that Daisuke had seen him reading a few days prior were any indication.
The steady thumping of his lover’s heartbeat lulls him back into unconsciousness, and he doesn’t realize that he’s fallen into a light sleep until it’s once again disturbed by the low grumbling of Haru’s stomach.
His eyes snap open, and he looks up at Haru, who is staring down at him with a sheepish smile.
“Sorry,” he says lightly, the hand that had frozen while carding through Daisuke’s soft locks beginning to move once more, fingers alternating between curling against the strands, and brushing through them.
“We should have breakfast,” Daisuke tells him, and goes to push himself up.
Haru tightens his embrace, keeping him in place, as he says, “It’s fine, you should sleep some more.”
Daisuke frowns up at him, “You’re hungry,” he points out, “Besides, we shouldn’t waste the day by sleeping. You wanted to go sightseeing, didn’t you?”
A small pout forms on Haru’s lips, cheeks puffing up the slightest as he answers, “Y-yeah, but.. We don’t have to if you’re exhausted,” he protests, albeit quite weakly.
One of Daisuke’s hands reach up, finger poking against his lover’s cheek, “Thank you so much for your concern, Inspector, but I am not a child,” he reminds, “A bit of exhaustion does not render me incapable of walking around the city.”
Haru catches his hand just as it’s about to land another poke on his cheek, and laces their fingers together. Daisuke’s breath hitches (ridiculous, really).
“Fine,” he says with a sigh, “But let me take my shower first so you can sleep a bit more. I’ll wake you up afterwards, okay?”
It sounds like a question, but Daisuke knows Haru isn’t giving him an option.
At least it isn’t an unreasonable request.
“Alright,” he agrees, sitting up to let Haru stand, before plopping back against the couch.
“Don’t you want to move to the bed?” Haru asks, hovering over him. Daisuke lets his eyes slip shut to chase the last few minutes of sleep he can get for the morning, shaking his head in response to the question.
“It’s fine. This couch is quite comfortable,” he says, as a matter-of-factly.
He hears Haru chuckle, before feeling a hand on his head, ruffling his hair softly just as he slips back into dreamland.
As soon as they’re both freshly showered (and in Daisuke’s case, a bit more awake), they head down from their suite to get some breakfast.
It’s nearly half past nine in the morning by the time they reach the hotel lobby, but luckily they arrive just in time before the hotel’s complimentary breakfast buffet’s cutoff. It saves them some time from having to search for a restaurant.
Daisuke watches as Haru enjoys his meal, a variety of Korean banchan in small bowls surrounding him— an egg roll omelette, cabbage doenjang soup, and spicy cucumber, to name a few. Daisuke notes that he takes particular liking to the radish salad, and the kimchi, which both look and smell way too spicy for his own taste.
He eats some enoki mushrooms sauteed in garlic scallion soy sauce, braised tofu, a bowl of walnut rice porridge, and a serving of mandoo, before deciding he’s full. He ends his meal with a cup of black tea, hoping it would give him an extra bout of energy for the day.
When Haru finishes his meal, he passes his phone over to Daisuke. He raises an eyebrow in question, but accepts it nonetheless.
Displayed on the screen is a short list of locations jotted down onto a notes app.
“I know we won’t be able to visit everything, but I couldn’t decide so..” Haru trails off, averting his eyes. He brings his coffee mug to his lips, slow sipping likely an attempt to hide the forming blush on his cheeks.
Daisuke isn’t sure why he’s embarrassed, but he doesn’t comment on it. Instead, he looks through the list, most attractions familiar to him back from his previous visit to Seoul. He considers asking why Haru hadn’t included the Namsan tower in his list, as it’s unarguably the most famous tourist attraction in the city, but ultimately decides that he likely just isn’t interested in seeing it.
“I think Namsangol Hanok Village is an ideal place to visit for your first time,” he states, passing the phone back to Haru.
Haru nods, teeth worrying his bottom lip awkwardly.
Daisuke can tell there’s something else he wants to say, so he waits for it patiently.
“Is there anywhere that you want to go?” he eventually asks.
The question catches him off guard. He wants to tell Haru that he’s been to most places on his list already, but he suspects it’ll only result in him pouting and insisting that he pick somewhere anyway.
Truthfully, Daisuke doesn’t mind going anywhere, so long as Haru’s by his side.
Not that he’s about to say it out loud.
He sets his cup down gingerly, thinking back on the several bullet points of locations on Haru’s notes app.
“I suppose we can visit Itaewon. The area seems to be very diverse, so we can decide what to do when we get there,” he says, before adding, “and it’s one of the places I haven’t been to yet.”
Seemingly satisfied with the answer, Daisuke finds himself being pulled up from his seat and out of the hotel. He’s greeted by the delightful Seoul spring, and his own personal spring’s bright smile.
The scenery at Namsangol Hanok village is as beautiful as Daisuke remembers it to be, but this time his attention is barely on the winding paths and traditional houses.
Instead, he finds his gaze constantly on his lover, clad in a pitch black hanbok, complementing his own bright yellow one well. They had asked the middle-aged lady at the rental shop to pick out which suited them the most, and she had presented the striking set, handing the yellow one to Daisuke, and the black one to Haru.
“Does yellow suit me more than him?” Daisuke asks, Korean speech practiced and smooth as he gestures to Haru.
The lady smiles at him, “Yellow hanbok represents the earth, and black hanbok represents water,” she explains softly, “Within the elements, water is compatible to the earth, as rain makes plants grow.”
Daisuke can feel Haru’s gaze on him, likely dying to know what they’re discussing, but Daisuke merely nods to let the lady continue speaking.
“He is good for you,” she tells him, the sincerity in her voice making his heart skip a beat and rendering him speechless. He looks down at the garments in his hands, once again surveying the bright yellow as his thumb traces the thick fabric, before finally returning her gaze.
“Thank you,” he says with a slight bow of his head.
The lady merely smiles back at him, before leading the two of them to get changed.
A tiny smile persists on Haru’s face as he walks through the stone pathways, stopping every once in a while to snap a photo or two with the Leica camera that Daisuke had gotten him. Daisuke follows close behind, letting him set the pace at which they walk around. Occasionally, he’d stop to ask Daisuke about the houses, and he would tell him about architectures dating back to the Joseon Dynasty.
Daisuke stops to admire one of the houses with intricate patterns carved onto the panels. He asks HEUSC about it, and listens to the AI narrate each elemental meaning as he traces it with his sight. He’s interrupted when he hears a camera shutter go off by his side, and turns to see Haru pointedly looking away from him, camera in hand.
They try out an arrow throwing game, then go to have brown rice tea with some light snacks (Pine rice cakes for Haru, and Chrysanthemum bread for himself) at one of the teahouses inside of the village, before concluding their visit a little bit past 2 in the afternoon. They return the Hanboks to the kind lady at the rental shop before going on their way.
A short walk to Chungmuro Station and a ride on the subway takes them to Itaewon in less than ten minutes.
With no particular destination in mind, they begin wandering aimlessly, passing through shopping districts, and various restaurants. Despite having just had some snacks, Haru is lured in by the tiny cakes served at Passion 5. Afterwards, they pay their respects at a Mosque, and observe a pottery class (Haru chuckling nervously as he declines trying it out himself) before they eventually end up back at the street leading to the subway station.
“Are you tired?” Haru asks as they walk slowly along the path.
Daisuke glances at him through the corner of his eye, mumbling, “A little, but I’ll be fine.”
“I’m sorry,” Haru says suddenly, stopping in his tracks. It makes Daisuke follow suit, pulling him to the side of the street so as to not block the path for other people.
“Why are you apologizing?” Daisuke asks with a frown.
The sun is beginning to set, and Daisuke is enthralled by the way the pinks, purples and oranges of the darkening sky illuminates his lover’s features while the late afternoon breeze blows through his hair. He looks perfect, save for the slight scrunch in his eyebrows, and the rest of his unsure expression.
“Actually, there’s somewhere else I want to go to before we leave..” he mumbles, hand going up to rub the back of his neck awkwardly.
“It’s barely 7, we have enough time,” Daisuke reaches up to attempt smoothening down the now messy strands of hair on Haru’s head, only for the wind to blow through it once more.
“But you’re t-”
“Haru, I’m fine,” he cuts off, before he can even finish his statement, “Don’t worry about me.”
He watches as Haru surveys his expression, an unsure one on his own. Daisuke raises an eyebrow, as if challenging him to protest once more. Haru seems to recognize it, and he sighs in defeat.
“So, where to?” Daisuke asks, already reaching up to activate HEUSC, “I can ask HEUSC to give us the quickest route and the fastest mode of t-”
To his surprise, he’s cut off as Haru takes a hold of his hand, pulling him along back into the subway station. They take line 6 of the subway, with Haru refusing to tell him about where they’re headed the entire journey, and get off at Chungmuro station around half an hour later.
As soon as they exit Chungmuro station, Haru begins looking around.
Daisuke sighs, “If you tell me where you want to go, I can just ask H-”
“Ah, there it is!” he says excitedly, once again ignoring his words and practically dragging him along.
They get on a bus at a nearby bus stop, and around 10 minutes into the ride, Daisuke begins to realize where they’re headed. Haru is staring out the window, gazing up at the tall structure of the Namsan Tower, its view slowly getting closer and closer.
They’re dropped off at a stop in a parking lot, and make their way towards the base of the tower.
Daisuke is about to head into the entrance, but Haru separates from him, making a turn towards the viewing deck at the base of the tower. He doesn’t bother to call out to him, silently following him through the small crowd of couples and families gathered in the area.
The first thing Daisuke notices about the place is the influx of dotting colors scattered throughout nearly every nook and cranny of the viewing deck. Upon further inspection of the railing (which he could barely, if at all, see), he identifies the items to be padlocks, in varying colors, shapes and sizes.
He’s wonderstruck as he walks by the railing, admiring the many padlocks, photos, letters, and countless amounts of memorabilia attached to the various surfaces. Vaguely, he remembers crossing the Pont des Arts bridge and seeing a similar scenery when he was at Paris, except those padlocks had been dull-
The entire memory had been dull.
He had walked over the bridge, surrounded by couples mid embrace, or locking padlocks onto the bridge panels. He remembers seeing a young child, hand-in-hand with his mother as they locked one of their own, with the father a few steps back and snapping a photo.
He remembers rushing to get away, unable to take the scene before his eyes.
This time, he finds himself welcoming it.
He’s preoccupied with admiring a tree shaped padlock covered in messy marker scribbles when a small, silver heart-shaped padlock is thrust into his line of sight.
When he looks up, he’s greeted by his lover’s head tilted to the side, a pretty red blush staining his cheeks. Daisuke looks between him and the small padlock in his hand, heart nearly swelling with fondness upon the realization that Haru had probably planned this stop. It explains how he’d known exactly how to get here, and why he hadn’t included Seoul’s most renowned tourist attraction in his list of potential places to visit.
In fact, it must also explain..
“Is this what you went out to get early this morning?”
Haru frowns, gaze still averted. He doesn’t say anything, and Daisuke takes it as a yes.
“You do know that they sell them here, don’t you?” Daisuke teases, and the blush on Haru’s face deepens.
“I know that..!” he whines, “They were just too expensive, okay?!”
Daisuke shakes his head and looks back down at the padlock still in his hands, unsure of what Haru wanted him to do with it. Haru seems to notice, and he finally takes Daisuke’s hand to deposit the small object into his palm.
Haru seems to read his mind, as he finally addresses the unspoken question.
“Write your name on it before we put it up..” he mutters. He digs through the small crossbody bag slung over his shoulder and produces a marker, handing it to Daisuke.
He takes it wordlessly, bringing the small padlock up to scribble onto.
It’s a bit of a struggle, with how small the surface was, and the shadows over his hand as he bows his head over it, but he manages to write with still a semblance of the elegance typically present in his handwriting. He admires his handiwork for a few moments, his lover’s name and a tiny heart underneath in striking black against the silver surface.
When he hands it back to Haru, he receives a small shove from the side, and he hears him muttering “I said write your name, idiot..”
Haru seems to have a similar struggle when he begins writing on it as well, and Daisuke has to hold back a bout of giggles when he sees the finished product, Haru’s writing of Daisuke’s name a lot scrawnier than his own underneath the small heart he had drawn.
Haru walks off to one of the corners of the viewing platform, and Daisuke follows him silently. They look through the countless number of padlocks, trying to find even the smallest of gaps to be able to fit theirs in. Daisuke finds one, in between a blue and yellow split colored heart padlock, and a small silver padlock with a gear pendant attached to it.
Daisuke calls Haru over to lock the padlock in place, and watches as he takes the Leica out to snap a photo of it with a small smile on his face.
Eventually, Haru steps back from crouching down at the spot he locked the padlock onto. Their eyes meet, and Daisuke feels himself flush at having been caught staring. Haru approaches him, taking his hand and placing a tiny key onto his palm.
“What is this?” Daisuke asks, dumbfounded.
“Are you stupid?”
“I mean, why are you giving it to me?”
“Well, it came with two keys, so..” Haru trails off, as if the answer is obvious in the first place, “in case you want to take it off, or whatever..” he looks out onto the cityscape when he says it, and Daisuke can tell he’s chewing on the inside of his cheek.
Daisuke sighs fondly, his lover’s earnestness simultaneously flustering him, and making him want to cry. He doesn’t know how to channel into words the love and devotion he feels, trapped inside of him. He opens his mouth once, but nothing comes out.
In the end, he doesn’t say anything. He reaches out to take his lover’s hand, squeezing it gently and hoping it conveys even a semblance of what he wants to say.
When Haru looks at him, he can feel his eyes begin to water, and his vision blurring slightly. Haru’s eyes widen in alarm, almost comically, and Daisuke can’t stop the laughter that spills from his lips.
He doesn’t know what kind of reaction he’s expecting from Haru upon his sudden outburst, but it definitely isn’t being pulled further into the viewing deck, a little bit away from the crowds.
“Where are we going?” Daisuke asks suddenly, drying the stray teardrops on his face with his sleeve.
When Haru halts and turns to face him again, his face is several shades darker than when he had been blushing earlier. “Sorry, I-” he starts, before clearing his throat. His gaze dart to the sides a few times, before settling back on Daisuke, and blurting out:
“Can I kiss you?”
Suddenly his lover’s blush seems to have infected him, and Daisuke can feel his face, all the way to the tips of his ears, heat up.
Again, he’s at a loss for words. His mouth opens and closes a few times before he finally gives up on speaking. He squeezes his eyes shut, hand going to grab at Haru’s sleeve as he nods slowly.
He doesn’t open his eyes.
Instead, he feels Haru’s cold hand, nipped by the evening breeze, cup his face. He feels his slightly calloused fingers stroke cheek, and his soft lips press against his own.
Daisuke releases his grip on his sleeve, hand going up to cover Haru’s own against his face.
It doesn’t last too long, but Daisuke isn’t upset.
Haru is looking at him with an unreadable expression when they pull away from one another, a wide range of emotions displayed on his open face. In the end, it seems that embarrassment overpowers the rest, and he pushes past Daisuke, muttering something about grabbing a drink for them.
Daisuke chuckles, and watches his lover go.
He looks down at the tiny key still in his hand.
“In case you want to take it off, or whatever..”
His lover’s voice resounds in his head, and he feels as if the tiny object suddenly weighs a ton in his hand. He looks out at the darkened cityscape, littered with hundreds of lights that appear to be glittering in the night. He doesn’t need HEUSC to tell him that the probability of anyone finding the tiny object, should it be thrown off this edge, as well identifying its corresponding padlock in the sea of thousands, would barely be 0.001%.
“Daisuke!” he hears his lover call out.
When he looks over to where the voice had come from, he spots Haru a few feet away, holding two beverage bottles, likely from a nearby vending machine. He grins and waves Daisuke over, and Daisuke has a striking realization that he need not dispose of the unassuming object to prove anything.
Haru had given it to him, and he’ll cherish it.
Even with the choice to leave, any time, and any day, Daisuke will always choose to stay.
He smiles as he begins to make his way back to him, pocketing the key.