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Bromance to Romance

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Kaerim had thought she had known what she was getting into with P'Golf. Honestly she had. It had never bothered her, any of it. But that had been before she met Bank, Golf's slightly younger and adorable step brother. One look at their faces when she walked in and she knew she was in too deep.

It had all started roughly five months ago when she had been set up for a marriage meeting with P'Golf. He hadn't looked at her properly at all when she had entered the small room. Instead he had kept his face downcast on the table. The room was more traditionally Japanese in style, then again it was originally the home of a Japanese diplomat. She sat there for a stormy ten minutes of introduction, for some reason afterwards his family left saying they should talk amongst themselves. Though she assumed they would be hanging around within hearing distance.

As soon as they had left she thought Golf would begin talking and stop the angsting. It didn't happen and instead another stormy ten minutes passed. She was a little disappointed as her parents were very set on her marrying this boy. The family was well off and would ensure her future. So she started to talk about herself, it surprised her the way that he shifted as she spoke. When she spoke about her Mother he finally looked up at her, then he was glancing down again the moment over.

That had been the last straw, letting her think she had gotten through to him only to go on angsting. She finally turned on him and told him she was leaving picking herself and her things up in a huff. When she reached the door she looked back at him one last time, he was a good prospect after all. What she met were the eyes of one of the broken hearted, she could now feel the heartache coming off him in waves. What she had mistaken as anger at having an arranged marriage, had been actual anguish. The feeling was enough to stop her in her tracks, she knew what that felt like. Normally she would have just kept going, turned away and let it go. It wasn't her place to fix him. It wouldn't be the first time she walked away, she had with her two prior engagements. She had stormed out back then as well when they had gotten emotional in the first meeting. It wasn't that she hadn't understood their feelings arranged marriages were not as common as they once were. Those boys had been pitiful, crying and whining because they were being forced to marry, as if she wasn't a catch higher than their standard. They hadn't even considered she might not want this either.

This time though there were no tears, no words had even been spoken. There was just a feeling hanging in the air that maybe someone could be saved. Inside where she allowed herself to be selfish she hoped it would be her. As she continued looking at those large brown eyes she felt some instinct awaken in her. An instinct that compelled her to comfort the boy who wouldn't/couldn't cry, for someone to save him. She looked at this boy's large frame looking so much smaller clouded in the darkness of his feelings. Feelings she knew she could relate to with no need for explanation.

Slowly she closed the distance to the low table thinking to herself that she could, should just walk off, and she spent all of ten seconds convincing herself it was the right thing to do. Boys didn't get so emotional, he must be crazy. That's what her mother had always told her but her mother also told her other things that weren't true. So she found herself settling back down at the table reaching for him patting his shoulder. At the contact he crumbled the tears she had seen threatening to fall began flowing down his smooth cheeks. He then curled into the low table hiding himself in his arms. He looked tiny, so she began asking him what was wrong. The words that came out were Thai and she was a little taken aback it had been many months since she had a conversation fully in Thai. At home it was still used but only rarely as their conversations were stilted and at school it was all in English.

It took her a moment to catch up to what was said but it broke her heart. This man was already in love with someone. Someone who he had been ripped away from only to be whisked away to a foreign country where they couldn't even pronounce his name. He cried a little harder as she patted his shoulder still listening as he went on the words pouring out as if the cork had been pulled. Details pushed aside for the raw emotions that had been locked away. The anger and confusion this country brought as well as only having been in the country a month and his father was already trying to get him to marry any girl that was willing. When his tears finally died down he looked at her with large swollen eyes and she found herself opening up in turn despite the fact he didn't ask. It was in that moment that their hearts connected somehow finding common ground where she had been sure there couldn't be any.

After that first meeting there had been many more. Until finally they were to be engaged. Between them there were no secrets. She found herself confessing about her own love, as short lived and wrong as it was. That she still barely spoke to her Mother openly because of it. This love was the reason she was being pushed into marriage, a marriage where they would not have to deal with her. And in turn Golf opened up about his own forbidden bonds. These confessions only drew them the point where even she knew looking at them she would have believed them to be happy. To be in love. However she knew better.

On the outside they looked the happy couple, inside it was far from true. Instead everything with Golf seemed to run together between two words home and Bank. And everything with her seemed to flow from her instinct to protect and her desire to get away from where she stood. Looking back over the last few months it was all a blur of actions, shared emotions, and time frantically chasing them to this moment. Now here they stood back in Thailand, stepping into Golf's childhood home. It had taken a month of convincing his father to let them come. To let them return to the homeland for their marriage. Even as the day drew closer, marked in red on her calendar her instincts would not allow her to leave P'Golf's side. Even now as she stood face to face with the man who was really the love of P'Golf's life. It didn't hurt like she thought it might.

That night in the hotel room as she confronted Golf about his love. About how he was acting and what he would do. Though this time she understood why he had opened up to her. He needed someone, someone like Bank who didn't judge him for being the way he was. Someone who melted him inside. She was soft to him, though in turn he was tolerant of her. She had at first thought that he was soft and sweet with her. He definitely wasn't when it came to how he treated his father and everyone else around them. His actions always rougher and more thoughtless with everyone else except her. But then she had seen the way he looked at his step brother. It was gentle around the edges, so visible even after six months away from him. There was relief, happiness, giddiness, and longing written all over his face when she walked in on them. They were mirrors of each other.

To her they were mirrors that were broken by her existence, at least that's how Bank made her feel. She understood. How could she not? P'Golf was her boyfriend, and it wasn't all pretend, not to their parents not to everyone else. Even though they barely touched beyond the platonic hugs, cheek kisses of obligation, and holding hands they were to be engaged. Here in a few weeks she would be turning the legal age to marry and they would be whisking her down an aisle in a white dress not even asking what she wanted. In Golf she had found something to protect, something that she thought could be hers. Watching him cry again that night she understood what she was protecting had never been hers.

While she understood this the more she watched from the sidelines as Golf tried to get closer to his only love she realized her being there might stand in the way. Though she couldn't back out now. Her parents were expecting things from her. The days stretched towards their announcement and she wondered if she could really go through with it. She'd known all along that Golf did not love her, it was in every action he took towards her. He cared for her deeply, but care and love are not the same thing and it was a hard lesson to learn.

The day she delivered the announcement to Golf's parents she told him. That night he disappeared. She knew it was to talk to Bank, because he was the only reason they had even returned. From the moment they had met until now Golf's heart had been closed to her for anything romantic. She hadn't pushed for it, hadn't wanted it. The instinct that drove her here had her feeling like a protective mother bear. And even as she knew this would hurt, this was a risk she was willing to take to see P'Golf smile again. Their mirrors would have to be broken so they could truly face each other. In her pocket she carried the ring that Bank had given back to Golf a few days ago. She hoped this would be enough that Golf would express his feelings honestly and without the temper he tended to rely on.

Her wishes weren't answered. It all ended in violence, Golf trying to talk outside the house dragging his step brother unwillingly into the street had gotten them hit by a car. Her heart had frozen at the news, this wasn't what she wanted. She had wanted them to talk. For Golf to let Bank know that what was between them was nothing more than friendship, would, could never be more than that because Bank existed. She had thought about talking to him herself, but she knew that wouldn't resolve the issue. Even the ideas Golf had now were not going to fix the problem at hand. Legally they were brothers even if not by blood. Though she had had her own ideas for that as well, ideas she now worried she might not be able to express. Ideas she had kept hidden away for the right moment that may now never come.

Sitting in the hospital room watching the strong Golf stare dazedly at the ceiling awaiting news of his brother was what broke her. No one was telling her anything either instead they kept repeating themselves like parrots to them. The boys parents were keeping Bank's condition from Golf, in fear that his condition would worsen at the news they told her. Yet every time a nurse would come in he would ask to see Bank, or how he was doing. The nurse would just shake her head check his vitals and leave. As it was she was the only one there everyday. Watching him like this she realized she would never stop protecting him. The day they got back the results of Golf's tests everyone was there and the only thing Golf could ask about was Bank. He didn't even blink when they told him about his own condition not caring about his own health.

When he was finally told about Bank's condition it was obvious he was about to dis-communicate everyone in the room, herself included. Unexpectedly he held his anger at finding out out his brother's kidneys were failing. There wasn't even one condemning to slip from his lips instead he begged to give his own kidney. Without a moment of hesitation. Temper forgotten in the face of Bank. She couldn't take it anymore and had left the room. If anything theirs was a love worth sacrificing for. A love that would walk through fire without blinking. Maybe if P'Golf had loved her like that she could have been happy. Maybe if her love had loved her like that like she wouldn't be here now.

She had once been a lot like Golf having a love that couldn't be spoken aloud, a love that had torn her apart. Her love had been doomed to fail from the start. Her lover had been married, older, and only playing with her heart. Stringing her along with the pleasures of the body only to leave her high and dry. Tossing her aside all while outing her in the worst way to her Mother. As it was she and her Mother were still barely speaking when it didn't involve her engagement to a man.

Her own doomed love had been nothing like the love that Bank had been lucky enough to find. Kaerim found herself in Bank's room before she knew what she was doing. She sat down in a chair by his bed and started talking ignoring the confused expression on his face. She confessed everything. That P'Golf only wanted a way to come back to see him. That they were only pretend dating because she couldn't stand to be at home anymore. That it suited her own needs just as much as Golf's to run away. She told him about the woman she had been in love with. How she had been left behind as soon as her husband had given her a child. What Golf had suffered while they were together thinking only of his lover and how much he missed him. She told him of his brother's condition and what he was going to do for him. What she wouldn't let him do.

When she left the room to fill out the paperwork, no longer a minor, she smiled back at him warmly. He smiled back the last thing she heard was thank you. He had said more but she had tuned it out. Next time she would find a better love. A fuller love. But right now she would see this love come true, then she maybe she would return home to face her own demons.

Looking around the room they had settled her in after the procedure she wondered about herself for the first time in months. It felt good to think about the different options she had before her. Something felt lighter and it wasn't the lack of a kidney. Some where in the back of her mind she thought about staying before she let the subtle pull of sleep pull her under.

The look on Golf's face when he found out made everything worth it. The way he hugged her sincerely, kissing all over her cheeks, giving her more love than she had gotten in six months. She wasn't feeling weak anymore so she accepted it with grace. She had been out of it for a few days. Long enough for Golf to be walking around and Bank to be in a wheelchair to see her. Their gratitude was palpable in the room. Their parents had already been by to express their own monetary gratitude, she hadn't been too kind to decline it. Nor let the opportunity to end her engagement pass her by as well as informing them that their sons belonged together and not as step brothers. They hadn't said anything instead taking their leave in haste. But she noted in the week and a half it took her to recover neither of the boys was far from her side. Their parents mysteriously absent.

Two months passed her by in a flash and soon found her settling into a new apartment far from what she had once considered home. She found that Thailand suited her much more than the United States ever had. Her transfer to a university had been completed a week ago. Golf and Bank would be attending the same one. She wasn't really surprised when her ex-boyfriend quickly became her best friend. What did surprise her was that Bank grew much closer to her than expected. She wasn't about to complain though having just moved to a new country. It was nice having friends already. And no matter how much she hated to admit Bank was very dear to her as well. Had always been because of the life he brought to her beloved P'Golf.

After the accident Bank's mother had laid into Golf's father about their relationship. Threatened to leave him and somehow gotten her way as she was pregnant. And in a weird twist Golf was disowned and now put up in an apartment where he now lived with his ex-step brother, now open lover. Their rings were visibly displayed once more and anyone that said anything foul found themselves facing down five of their fiercest supporters, herself included. Golf was still living off his father's money, it wasn't that he had asked but his father wouldn't let him leave otherwise. And somehow she found this the perfect ending for them. And for herself well maybe even a little sweeter for herself than she had expected.

Smiling to herself Kearim looked around her new place, she lived close to one of Bank's other friends. It was a nice place and Sui, the girl next door was sweet not to mention cute. To her other side lived another cutie by the name Bin, who was just as sweet. Hung all around her apartment were pictures of her new friends and she found she wasn't lonely like she had always been before. And inside where no one would know she would think to herself there was still hope for her own love if their bromance could develop into a full fledged romance.