A/N: This is a one-shot written for my six monthsary with my wonderful girlfriend, known here as NagareboshiStar. We are both great JaeKi fans and can identify with them in a sense that it is our first same-sex relationship. As such, I decided to write this dedicated to her as a gift. Without further ado, I hope you guys enjoy the story!
It was their sixth monthsary and Jae-Ha was running in circles – both physically and mentally. Some parts of his brain felt raw and his long green hair had gradually loosened from his low ponytail as he paced back and forth in his four walls.
Alright, maybe he was overreacting; there were still some days left to that fateful date and heck, it were only six months. Normal people celebrated their relationships in terms of years, hence anniversaries, and everyone who even used the term 'monthsary' was belittled and smiled upon by those in their right mind – a category Jae-Ha had thought to belong to a mere seven months ago. And now, he was restlessly circling as he tried to come up with some fitting gift for this damned occasion.
With a loud sigh, he plunked into his chair, leaning back until his green eyes met the ceiling. "What can I possibly gift him?" Speaking the words aloud helped him focus – or so he liked to believe. Running one slender hand through the emerald-colored filaments cascading past his shoulders, he bit his lip.
I have no clue.
Well, this was only partly true. He knew what his boyfriend liked – six months are enough time to figure the basics out, at least – and while Kija never openly voiced his wishes to be gifted something, he left enough hints along the way to let Jae-Ha know what he was interested in, so it wasn't like the older man couldn't possibly fathom his partner's wishes. If he tried, he could name a bunch of DVDs, soundtracks, CDs, games, clothing items and more that would most likely please his better half.
But his problem was: He didn't want to buy something. A few days back, when Jae-Ha had voiced his cluelessness and frustration, Kija had, amiably and lovely as ever, reassured him that 'even chocolates for 99 cents will do' as long as Jae-Ha thinks of him. The mere memory made Jae-Ha sneer and growl at the same time.
Chocolates. For 99 cents. Yeah, great. The sarcasm was so strong in his inner voice that Hak would have been proud of him. For a second, he was tempted to give the dark-haired handsome man a call for advice, but before his fingers had reached his cell phone, Jae-Ha hesitated. It'll be no good. Hak will just ridicule me, and as much as I enjoy the pain from his resentment, I have no time for this right now.
He glanced at the calendar. The day after tomorrow. That was not much, he had to admit, and the longer he fumbled for ideas, the less well-made his present was going to be. With a groan, Jae-Ha pushed against the study desk, sending his chair rolling through the room. The furniture item docked with a soft thud against the bed, and the young man rolled over onto the promising dark violet sheets, inhaling deeply the scent of roses and cinnamon he used to wash his clothes with.
A memory flashed; one time, when he had invited Hak over – okay, more precisely dragged Hak to his place in order to spend some precious 'bonding time' with his friend – the other man had taken one look at his luxuriously furnished, broad bed covered in silken and velvety blankets and pillows of enticing tones and broke into loud, unrestrained laughter.
"Wh-what?" Jae-Ha had asked, flustered without really knowing why, but his opposite had merely shaken his head.
With the grin that was so uniquely Hak's, the man had said, "Really, Droopy Eyes; when I once told you I don't swing that way, it was meant as a joke. But this-" He broke off his sentence and roared in another fit of laughter – and no matter how vehemently Jae-Ha insisted on 'not swinging that way!', his friend had only smirked.
Now, the memory made Jae-Ha smile. Was I lying back then?
"Well, one doesn't turn bi, you know." Yun's voice, high and yet unmistakably male, echoed in his head. They had sat on the outer parts of Kouka Academy, shortly before he and Kija had become... official. Jae-Ha still remembered it as if it had been yesterday; a hot day, the sun beaming mercilessly down upon him and the younger man, whose features always danced on the edge of femininity. For some reason, Yun had been the first person Jae-Ha felt comfortable enough to 'come out' to – well, apart from Hak, but that was a different matter.
As he fidgeted, gulped and tried to address the matter several times, Yun just heaved a sigh, bit into a ripe, full peach and said, "So, you and Kija are dating. Big deal. I hope you don't want me to throw a party."
"H-h-how did you know!?"
"Oh, puh-lease." Yun pointed at him with the fruit, making a circular motion that encompassed Jae-Ha in his entirety. "You are as easy to read as a children's book. I know since a while – probably before you knew."
Jae-Ha's mouth threatened to fall apart in his astounded gawk, and he quickly preoccupied his mouth by asking, "Has it been that obvious?"
Yun shrugged. "From your or Kija's side?" He paused and thought for a moment. "I figured him out later than you, admittedly, though he never made a secret of his orientation. But maybe that was the reason why I noticed your odd behavior earlier." The self-proclaimed handsome young genius – though Jae-Ha and everyone else he knew agreed with that – weighed his head. "Any way, you've been looking at him. That's all I needed to see. Oh, and the fact that you stopped doing anyone who is not up a tree by the count of three was a pointer, as well."
Jae-Ha twitched and smiled. "Ouch. Yun-kun, that hurt." He placed one slender hand on his left pecs, lowering his head until the hair fell past his naked shoulders; in summer, he could barely be bothered to wear anything, but regulations were as they were, so sleeveless shirts had to do.
"Yeah, right." Yun rolled his eyes, taking another pointed bite and chewing thoroughly before going on, "So, when are you going to ask me?"
The young man with the strawberry blonde hair only raised one eyebrow, and Jae-Ha heaved a surrendering sigh. With a half-smile, he asked, "Do you think I've always... 'swung that way'?"
And he had received his response quickly and without the hint of doubt – and if he was being honest with himself, he had known it even before the words left Yun's lips.
Jae-Ha rolled over onto his back, staring at the ceiling for what felt like the nth time that day. In hindsight, I guess it was apparent. Or at least not completely surprising. He lifted his left hand and began to count. The humongous amount of scarves, shawls and necklaces. Covers and clothes in an abundance of colors and styles. His stack of Taylor Swift CDs he listens endlessly to. The fascination he felt about beautiful bodies in general. His excitement when he first met Hak – and Kija.
On their own, these indicators were nothing, insignificant. But taken together, they pictured a man who was, well... Capable of loving both genders.
"W-well, I am in love with the idea of love, after all." The words had sprung from his lips in Hak's bedroom, and even without seeing the glance the other man shot him, Jae-Ha felt a shudder run down his spine.
Peering over his shoulder, he met precisely that: Eyes of ice, narrowed in light suspicion, and an aloof voice that said, "Oh, really. And that's why you kissed him."
In that moment, Jae-Ha was a credit to all red stoplights around the world. Or tomatoes. Or strawberries. Rather strawberries; they were sweeter. Shaking his red-hot head, he blabbered, "What? No! I mean, technically, yes, I kissed him, but – that doesn't mean that I, like, am into him. I am simply curious. Oh, yes, curious. I mean, I compliment you all the time as well, Hak. And Yun-kun – he is very pretty, too; everyone knows that. Not to mention Shin-Ah's eyes. They amaze us all, regardless of anything like 'attraction'." He nodded to himself, his hair bobbing up and down, but when his green orbs met Hak's observant ones, he sunk into himself, meekly mumbling, "Okay. I kissed him. Which is why I want, no, have to kiss y-"
"No. Not in a million years, Droopy Eyes. Find someone else."
The conversation – and thus, Jae-Ha's only hope of 'normalizing' his situation – had been done with at that point. Hak had told him to just 'accept it' – and truthfully, a part of Jae-Ha had been relieved, for his friend had not altered his behavior towards him at all, instead continuing his interactions just like before.
Deep down, that had probably been his biggest fear; to be rejected for what he suddenly was – or, according to Yun, had always been.
Even now, after almost six months of dating Kija (he had to stop himself for a moment at the word 'dating' – it felt too mundane, too superficial for the kind of relationship they had, their intimacy, understanding, support) Jae-Ha still occasionally felt his mind starting up a 'panic-mode', happening in the most inconvenient of times. When they kissed, lied in bed together or displayed their relationship in public a very shocked voice in his head would gasp 'But he's a boy!' and his entire body would wash over in hot and cold repeatedly until he shuddered and felt nauseous.
Of course, over the months the intensity and duration of those moments had ceased, and sometimes, they went by without Kija noticing them – for which Jae-Ha was grateful. It pained him to see the fear in his boyfriend's eyes when he had to retreat in order to calm his overwhelmed mind.
"All what matters is the person, not their gender." Those were the only words that Shin-Ah had ever uttered about the whole subject, and even they had only surfaced after Jae-Ha had, shaking and nervous and on the verge of suffering from a mental breakdown, barged into the blue-haired man's home. He still remembered how Shin-Ah had brought him some cookies and a glass of warm milk, and the touch of his pet squirrel Ao (he still wasn't too sure about the legality of that) running over his arms and nestling in the hollow of his neck. After the utterance of these few simple and yet clear words, Shin-Ah had treated to Jae-Ha in his usual quiet demeanor.
And it had helped. The words settled in Jae-Ha's mind, surfacing whenever panic threatened to drown him, and the remembrance of the other man's face, filled with nothing but serenity and calm, soothed his nerves.
His last dragon brother – he had to chuckle at that; even after almost ten years of them being called that, it still sounded so silly; silly and yet familiarly pleasant, all thanks to their rather ferocious way of guarding a certain redhead from unwanted advances – Zeno had not even shown something like a reaction.
"I- I am dating Kija," Jae-Ha said, feeling his hairline redden and he did not dare to think what this would do to his complexion.
"Oh, cool. Then we already have two couples in our happy hungry bunch! Man, looks like Shin-Ah and I gotta score some girlfriends."
"Huh?" Jae-Ha blinked. "Wait, wh- Aren't you forgetting Yun-kun?"
Zeno waved one of his hands, the ever-present grin beaming on his face. "Nah, he's too adulty for that. It'll take a looong time until he meets someone who's on par with his wits 'n' all."
And that was that. Even when Jae-Ha had tried to raise the topic, Zeno had treated it with the same nonchalance and normality as when Hak and Yona had become official.
Ah, Yona. Her lovely, ivory face appeared in front of his mind's eye, and a smile graced Jae-Ha's lips. The girl (young woman, he corrected himself) he had known for years, protected like an older brother – and thought to love some time ago. Telling her the news had been the most difficult for him, for not only was the young 'princess', as she was called, the master of density, she had also very often experienced Jae-Ha's own advances towards her – advances she had always firmly rejected.
Yet, when he told her about his relationship with Kija, she only looked at him for a few seconds before her face lit up. Entwining her delicate arms around him, she cried, "Oh my, that's wonderful! I'm so happy for you!" and big tears flooded from her astounding round and vibrant eyes.
"Y-yona-chan, what..?" Jae-Ha mumbled, completely caught off-guard by her embrace and words.
With a light chuckle, Yona took a step back, smiling at him from behind teary eyes. "You see, Yun talked to me about it. I mean, that you like Kija and Kija likes you. At first, I didn't understand what he meant-"
How come that doesn't surprise me?
"- but when I did, I was so excited for you!" She clapped her hands. "I mean, we have all been friends since high school and I always thought you and Kija were a wonderful combination of personalities."
That made Jae-Ha blush. "Really?"
"Oh, but of course!" Yona nodded sincerely. "You complement one another. Initially, I was a bit worried. I mean, you never seemed to be the stable type. But Hak told me not to worry about it and that you two will figure it out – and now you did! I'm so happy – we can go on double-dates now!"
Her enthusiasm made Jae-Ha smirk. "My experience begs to doubt that Hak will enjoy that," he pointed out, trying to mask the warm feeling in his chest.
So Hak said something like that? I never would have thought he considered it so much... That everyone did...
In the end, his 'coming-out-process' had gone by very smoothly among his group of precious friends, with all the troublesome and agitating feelings coming from himself. Of course, it had felt weird in the beginning; things like holding Kija's hand in public or giving him quick kisses as means of greeting and goodbye made him nervous, as he felt almost watched by everyone around them. But as with everything, time was the trick, and soon, he felt no restraint to wrap his arms around the other man regardless of where they were. If he was any judge, the tendency showed that in the not so distant future, he would not consider it even remarkable anymore.
But right now, he was again in one of those 'slumps'. Jae-Ha curled himself up on his bed, one leg dangling and barely scraping the floor, and his cheeks reddened as he thought about the face of his beloved. How can it be almost six months? Time is flying by so fast, it's... scary. He lifted his face and looked at the photo prints covering the wall next to his bed; snapshots of Kija and him from their dates and everyday lives. Despite them not sharing a flat (yet he added mentally), they spent almost every day together at one of their apartments. In fact, it started to feel weird without Kija around.
Jae-Ha smirked and sat up. To think that someone like me, who values freedom more than anything, could become so attached to their partner.
But it had happened, and despite all the nervousness it occasionally caused him, he was happy. Happier than he had ever been. Sometimes, he wondered if he even deserved Kija's love and affection.
One of such instances had been yesterday. They had laid on his bed, fingers intertwined, Jae-Ha's face buried in Kija's soft, white hair. With one inhale, the mesmerizing scent that was so uniquely Kija's invaded his nostrils and went all the way up to his brain, clouding his mind, and a sigh left Jae-Ha's lips.
"Are you okay?" Kija's voice, muffled as his face laid against Jae-Ha's chest, asked.
The older man nodded, humming contently. "Mhmm. All's good. And with you?"
He felt Kija's lips smiling against his skin. "Of course."
For a while, they laid in complete silence, hugging each other tightly to enjoy the other's warmth and closeness. Then, the white-haired man shifted. "What do you want to eat on Friday?"
A shudder went through Jae-Ha's body. Ah, yes. Our six monthsary. He hadn't forgotten, not truly, but sometimes, it slipped his mind – but of course Kija would remind him; of the day and of his still missing gift. With his voice all nonchalance, he mused, "Friday? Hmm... Nothing in particular. Do you have something in mind?"
"Not really," Kija shook his head as far as he could. "I just thought maybe you had. But we can just as well wait and see. Is there something you'd like to do? Watch a movie, perhaps?"
Jae-Ha gave a shrug of his shoulders. "Why not? Our watchlist is still long, and we might have enough time besides university for a change."
"Great!" Kija sounded excited, and the mere notion made Jae-Ha happy, causing him to bury his head deeper in the soft hair, but the younger man slowly disentangled himself from Jae-Ha's embrace and said, "Ah, come to think of it, I need to work on your present some more; would you mind if I occupy your study desk again?"
As Kija walked over to the desk and secretively laid out the materials he worked with, Jae-Ha wondered not for the first time what exactly his partner was creating. Obviously, it was a drawing of some kind, as to be expected of his boyfriend – Kija's right hand was exceptionally talented in performing art – and sometimes, Jae-Ha felt he had a hunch as to what it could be, but either way, he was happily looking forward to it.
Happily – and anxiously. As he sprawled out on his bed and drew forth a book to read in, he said, "You know you don't have to rush yourself; you can give me your present a couple days later as well."
Kija looked over his shoulder and gave him a light smile. "I know; thanks, Jae-Ha. But I feel confident that I finish it on time."
"Are you sure? This is your second draft, if I recall correctly."
The white-haired man puffed his cheeks. "I know. The first draft was simply full of errors-"
"You sounded quite confident yesterday, though."
"And then I slept a night and discovered a thousand new mistakes." Kija sighed. "You know that I don't like my art the next day."
Jae-Ha waved with one hand. "I know, I know. That's precisely why I wonder whether you'll make it on time or not. Maybe you'll end up disliking it again – though I'm very sure it is beautiful just like its creator."
Kija's lips curled in a flattered smile. "If you're so curious to know what it looks like, you may very well get up and see for yourself."
"You know I won't do that," Jae-Ha replied, though a part of him was very curious. "It would ruin the surprise.
Kija chuckled. "It's up to you. I won't mind either way." He scratched his head with a colored pencil – a plain skin tone that didn't gave its aim away – and said, "I also need to go home – that is, to my place – before we exchange gifts. I stored some presents for you there."
Jae-Ha raised himself up on his elbow. "Did you just say presents?"
"Why, yes." Kija nodded, the faintest hint of alert in his voice and eyes. When Jae-Ha's lips began to part in upcoming panic, Kija quickly said, "Oh, but don't worry! They're only small things; bits and pieces I stumbled upon and bought because I had to think of you."
"Presents..." was all that Jae-Ha said. He stared blankly at Kija, feeling his complexion paling. "I have, at best, one thing for you."
"I know and it's okay!" Kija's voice rose an octave, worry seeping through every word. "It's not about the amount of gifts but the thought behind them. Please, don't be sad." He got up and walked over to the bed, sitting down carefully, and ran his hand along Jae-Ha's back.
The man with the emerald hair growled. "Now I feel even worse than before."
"I'm sorry," Kija grimaced, but Jae-Ha waved him away.
"Don't be. It's my own fault for taking so long."
His boyfriend smiled and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "You do know that all I want is to spend time with you on that day. You don't have to gift me anything at all."
And Jae-Ha had glowered at him, feeling even more dissatisfied with himself than before.
With a shake of his head, Jae-Ha came back into reality once and for all. Enough of flashbacks and memories. I'm running out of time – at this very moment, Kija is probably still working on his gift for me, sacrificing his much needed free time.
And precisely for that reason, he wanted to gift his boyfriend something personal, something that relayed his feelings and showed how much he cared. Something that carried his love, something to make his partner smile and feel appreciated.
Though in a sense, he might just as well give up; whatever he came up with in two days would never be on par with his boyfriend's declaration of love and creativity.
Chocolates for 99 cents my glorious backside!
He jumped from the bed, once again resuming his restless pacing, when suddenly, his eyes fell on the small assembly of instruments on his shelves, and his green eyes lit up like wildfire. Of course!
With four quick strides, he was by the items, taking the first – a Chinese erhu, wonderfully crafted and always perfectly tuned – into his hands. Often had he played, for audiences and his boyfriend alike, but lately, university banned him from fully indulging in the art that was music. But now, a sense of nostalgia overcame him.
Closing his eyes, he picked up the bow, lightly tightened his grips on the two strings and began to move his right hand back and forth, eliciting sweet sounds from the instrument which began to fill the room with a soft, longing melody.
It was late. He would never manage to come up with a perfect tune, lest a full song that fittingly conveyed his feelings, even less so with his boyfriend coming home in just a few hours. But as he sat down and began to combine and interlace one note into the other, Jae-Ha felt safe and sound – as if Kija was embracing him.
A quick last word: If you liked this story or its general idea, you might want to check out 'Disclosure' - it's a collaborative AkaYona story NagareboshiStar and I are working on with Hakona and JaeKi set in a modern high school AU. We'd love to see you there!
Note to my girlfriend
My dear, beloved woman, I wish you (and me xD) a happy six monthsary. Wow, time is flying! I enjoyed every day of it and hope that there are manymanymanymanymany six months and years and decades to come for us. As you know, I started writing this two days ago, so it is far from perfect - but I still believe that it fits quite nicely. You know me well enough to tell fiction from truth (for one, I cannot play the erhu, lol) and I hope this story made you smile. I love you.