Note: Every dialogue that is italicized is in another language. The language, however, varies between Korean and Quebecois

Warning: Character Death

Cross-posted to AO3


Seung-gil rubs his hands together, careful not to tug on Kongju's leash. Even through the gloves, he can feel the biting cold of Montreal's winter. Seung-gil has not yet been able to get used to it. Maybe he never will.

Wouldn't that be just wonderful? He blows some air through his nose at the thought, slightly amused. He stops at the intersection between Avenue des Pins and University Street-which is ridiculously one of the few places near the park where there's a traffic light- and waits until he is allowed to cross. Realizing the light's about to turn red, a car drives too quickly by them, and Kongju jumps, startled. Seung-gil pets her fur affectionately.

"It's okay. It's all fine," he whispers softly, like the breeze that is blowing, and the dog quickly relaxes. "Just another idiot."

As they cross, a man gives him a look and whispers to the woman beside him, in quick Quebecois:

"Why can't these Chinese people just learn to speak before moving here?"

Seung-gil doesn't want to get in a fight, but he also won't allow this person to badmouth him. So he turns and speaks in a calculatedly calm tone that helps disguise the fact he hasn't mastered the language completely yet:

"Maybe it's because she learned to understand Korean first and it's just easier. Maybe, though, it's none of your business and you should stop being awful. Good evening."

The man mutters something else, but Seung-gil is too busy strolling away from him to pay attention.

This sort of thing doesn't exactly happen often, but it happens more than never, and that's just too much. Still, he never lets JJ or Isabella know about those sort of encounters. They would just blow it out of proportion, try to comfort him or something. He doesn't need comforting. He just needs people to stop being assholes. But since that's not going to happen, he won't bother them with that.

"This is our secret, right Kongju?" The dog just wags her tail.

It's possible he might have lied a little. Kongju is a clever pup, she understands some orders in French. But ever since he moved there, Seung-gil tries to use Korean whenever he can. The few times that Seung-gil and Isabella are alone, the weekly Skype calls to his parents, and the Korean lessons JJ is taking are all good, but they are not enough. Maybe it's because he hasn't grown used to it yet. It's been a year and a half, yes. But a year and a half is not nearly enough to compare to most of a life spent in Korea.

Sometimes he still opens his eyes in the morning, having forgotten where he's at. And the reaction when he remembers the truth is the same as the one he gets while he opens the door of the apartment.

"Seung-gil is home!" Isabella announces, dropping JJ's hand as she stands up from the couch.

"Hey!" JJ greets, jumping up too. "How was the walk? Did you two behave?"

Seung-gil smiles.

"Of course we did," Seung-gil replies, kissing Isabella's cheek and then kneeling to take the leash from Kongju.

JJ crosses his arms and laughs. "Don't I get a kiss?"

Seung-gil rolls his eyes and pulls him in for one.


Had you told Seung-gil five years ago that he'd be sharing an apartment with anyone, he would have been skeptical. He'd always liked solitude and privacy, after all. There had been more than a few times when he laid down in bed, after a long day of training, listening to nothing but the cars passing in the distance and thinking that was happiness. Though if you had given him good arguments, he would have eventually been open to the idea. He didn't regard things as impossible so easily, and he could admit to himself, every once in a while, that maybe he didn't want to be alone for the rest of his life.

But if you had told him he'd be permanently living with two people and that one of them would be a woman, he would have just scoffed and walked away, annoyed that he'd let anyone waste his time for even a second in such a dumb conversation.

Because having a boyfriend is one thing. Having a boyfriend who also has a wife was just unexpected.

Still, that was the thing about JJ. He was always unexpected. Ever since he had barged into Seung-gil's life, loudly wondering why 'that Korean skater' couldn't seem to land his triple loop, he has been one surprise after the other.

Like how he'd insisted Seung-gil sit at his table and then dragged him along Karuizawa on an impromptu jam-tasting tour. Seung-gil had only known him for a day, but JJ just got closer and said "we're the only young ones". Which wasn't false, but seemed ridiculous considering that everyone was dying to see what the son of two renowned ice dancers was made of. It turned out, he was made of ego and noise, and friendliness and understanding. The latter of these lead him to immediately come up with the name 'JJ' when he discovered Seung-gil struggled with 'Jean' and just refused to try 'Jacques'. "JJ just sounds cooler, anyway."

Like JJ getting into the Junior Grand Prix Final on his first year as a professional skater. He stood in the podium along with a baffled Seung-gil, who found out he was not just happy for himself. He also felt his heart swell with pride at his recently acquired, very hyper and extremely talented friend. And then to the list of surprises he can add the countless internet a newfound warm feeling in his chest as they talked during the off-season.

Like the unexpectedness of getting drunk in Ostrava, under the excuse of celebrating Otabek's fifteenth birthday in advance. Seung-gil still thanks Emil and his cousin for that. JJ and Seung-gil refused to go to bed, too busy blushing and giggling, when suddenly JJ asked: "do you like girls, boys? Both?" Confidently, Seung-gil replied with "Just boys". And then there was true shock when JJ followed with "Have you ever kissed?" Seung-gil has already confessed he lied when he said that no, he hadn't. He has admitted it was just so they'd have an excuse to 'try it out'.

Small things that lead to big things, really. Little moments that made him feel alive, both in bad and good ways.

Bad ways, such as when JJ asked him a few months later, via Skype: "Should I ask this girl out? She's so pretty and amazing!" And Seung-gil felt like he was freezing from the inside out, wondering aloud, before he could think it over and stop himself. "So Ostrava meant nothing?" At which JJ laughed and Seung-gil disconnected. He refused to take another call for a long while. He did not understand until he finally decided to be mature about it. He was greeted by an accompanied JJ, announcing with a wink "Seung-gil. This is my girlfriend, Isabella. Isabella, this is my, hopefully, future boyfriend, Seung-gil." Despite his bewilderment, Seung-gil flushed. "Let's see how it works", he'd said.

But it was complicated. There was school, and training, and then Seung-gil had to put his skating on hold because of the military. Also, he just wasn't sure what he wanted. Isabella and JJ were both wonderful, but he was young. They all were.

So he kept the flirting and the chatting and the going to JJ's room when they met in competition, but held back on getting serious for years. That was until JJ told him he would ask Isabella to marry him and Seung-gil said "That's wonderful." Still, after a deep, deep silence, JJ just asked "So, are you and me over?" Seung-gil thought about it for a moment. The pang in his gut as he thought of ending it made him declare "No."

Not much later, Barcelona happened. JJ landed a Quad Loop. Seung-gil had jokingly told Isabella that if he managed to do so in competition, Seung-gil would never let go of him. Suddenly, the joke turned serious, and they made the plans behind JJ's back. At Four Continents, he announced, trying to keep his cool, trying to imitate JJ's bluntness: "I'm moving to Montreal." And JJ hugged him so tight, not even the slightest bit annoyed by the seemingly abrupt decision.

Those are the kind of things Seung-gil thinks of on nights like this one, when he has decided he needs his space and taken the spare room instead of the king-size bed they share. More often than not, he finds his heart beating loudly in his chest due to sheer happiness.

But sometimes, nights like this one, he goes back to the other room and crawls underneath the covers to press himself against JJ' right side, announcing "I changed my mind."

He doesn't regret any of it, not as JJ's arm wraps around his shoulders and brings him closer.


In the morning, Seung-gil wakes up to JJ preparing breakfast as silently as he can, which is not silent at all. He tries, because he doesn't want Isabella to get up earlier than necessary. Thankfully, both Seung-gil and JJ have learned that Isabella is the heaviest sleeper of them all. She can fall asleep to the sound of explosions on the TV and remain so through sudden renditions of JJ's songs, played on cups and cutlery and Kongju's barks; even Seung-gil sings along. And Isabella keeps her eyes closed.

Today, Seung-gil overhears JJ singing an overdramatic version of 'My Heart Will Go On', which is, unironically, one of JJ's favorite songs.

"Near! Far! Wherever you-and-Isabella are!" JJ sings, turning to thrust a spatula in front of Seung-gil's face as he walks into the main room. "Come on, I know you know the lyrics!"

Seung-gil rolls his eyes, but he knows JJ well enough to be aware he is not just going to let him be. So he sings along to the melody: "I believe that JJ is a fool."

JJ laughs loudly, and then flips the crêpe he is making.

Seung-gil raises his eyebrows. "Crêpes? Is there something I'm forgetting?" he asks, trying to recall what day it is. He's sure they are in February, so it's no one's birthday.

"No, I just wanted to surprise you," JJ shrugs, and gives him one of his bright grins. "So! Are you surprised?" He asks in jumbled Korean.

He smiles back softly. "Of course," he replies, in only slightly better French, "just try not to surprise me too much. I can't gain too much weight."

"I'd love you anyway," JJ announces, sincere as always.

Seung-gil chuckles and pats him on the shoulder, feeling the hard muscle beneath the tanktop he's wearing. "Not everyone is you," he says, softly.

"Thankfully! The world would not be able to live with the amazingness!"

"And without working heaters," Seung-gil jokes, always keen on remembering how badly JJ and mechanic work get along.

JJ shrugs, and finishes making breakfast. "Luckily, there exists Seung-gil to repair things for us," he comments, as he goes to the table. "Come on, sit, sit."

They eat and then, as Seung-gil does the dishes, JJ showers.

"Your turn," JJ says. He wraps his arms around Seung-gil and kisses his shoulder. "I'll take care of the rest."

"You better put some clothes on, instead." Seung-gil nudges him away, then goes to the shower.

After he finishes, he gets out and gets dressed. JJ is waiting for him, clapping his hands to a quick rhythm, as if to encourage Seung-gil to move according to it.

"Stop that. You'll wake Bella."

JJ scofffs.

"Fine, you'll wake Kongju."

"She's going to wake up anyway," JJ grabs the hair dryer and pats the other side of the couch. "Baby, it's cold outside."

Seung-gil sighs a little and lets JJ dry his hair. The rare occasions Seung-gil remembers to do it himself, he just ends up directing the hot air towards the same spot for too long.

When they finish, it's around a quarter past seven. JJ stands up with a jump. "Okay! Let's go!"

Seung-gil puts on his jacket as JJ writes a "See you later" and a heart on the magnetic whiteboard hanging from the fridge, along with little magnetic puppies.

They go out of the apartment and down on the elevator. Outside, little snowflakes are falling, JJ smiles up at the sky, as if thanking the heavens.

Seung-gil shudders, however, and JJ turns to look at him. "Cold?" he says, with a mischievous grin.

"JJ, no."

"C'mon! Race you to the rink!"

"Not again!" Seung-gil complains.

"It will help you stay in shape!"

"We just ate!"

JJ keeps that grin. "Afraid you'll lose?"

Seung-gil sighs, straightens his back and glares at JJ. "To you? You wish." Then he starts walking as quickly as he can without tripping on the snow.

Honestly, it's not a fair race. It never is.

"Your legs are longer than mine." Seung-gil complains, as JJ laughs loudly.

"Not by a significant amount!"

"Whatever, I'm beating your jumps today. You are going to fall, Leroy."

And, sure enough, JJ falls, but only a handful of times.

Joke's on him, though, because Seung-gil only falls once before lunch.

After training, they go their own ways, JJ taking a taxi to go talk to some sponsors of his clothing brand while Seung-gil walks back home. Once home, Seung-gil changes, then puts a leash on Kongju and takes her out for her long walk.


They have slipped into this comfortable routine: their tasks are split according to taste, ability, and then, also according to sheer luck. Seung-gil repairs things and walks Kongju, alone or with someone else in the evenings; Isabella walks her in the mornings and prepares lunch; JJ makes the rest of the food. They clean up as a team, on weekends.

Seung-gil never quite liked doing chores, but Disney movies aren't that wrong. You can have fun while cleaning when in good company. Or at least you can keep it from being almost unbearable.

And finishing your duties means a reward in the household, more often than not. Be it falling into bed for a movie or to melt under JJ's touch (or both), it is always nice.

Problem is, sometimes people don't do what they are assigned to do, not because they don't want to, but because they feel like crap.

Case in point: Seung-gil has had a headache the whole day. He thought it would go away if he didn't go to the rink and slept through the morning. Isabella is kind and far quieter a nurse than JJ would be. She has light feet and softly whispers her words. "I'm going to leave lunch ready for you. You get it whenever you feel like it, alright? Get better." However, she is not magical, and also has a job. So she leaves an ailing Seung-gil to sleep, and when he wakes up, he still feels terrible. He eats. It's 6 PM. When did it become 6 PM? He goes to the bathroom. falls asleep again, drifting in and out of consciousness until 9. Surely now he'll be fine, right?

Wrong.

Nonetheless, he gets dressed. Kongju's whining, scratching at the door. She needs to get out for a walk

That's when JJ comes back.

"Oh, no," he says, voice uncharacteristically soft, but not soft enough to make Seung-gil's head not thump with pain. He drags Seung-gil back to bed.

"Kongju needs to go out," Seung-gil complains, trying and failing not to be moved.

"And she will, just not with you." JJ undresses him with expertise, and Seung-gil, defeated, puts his pyjama back on. "There you go. Bella got held up at work."

Seung-gil sighs a little. "Lead guy magically 'forgot his lines' in the kissing scene again?"

JJ scoffs, slightly annoyed. It passes quickly. "Apparently."

"You got to give these guys a talk."

"To be fair, there's our arrangement-"

Seung-gil rolls his eyes. "Stop calling it that. It's a relationship. 'Arrangement' makes it sound like it is unpleasing. Or that it's temporary."

JJ stops and considers that. "True. Sorry." He runs his hand over Seung-gil's hair. "But, when they hear Isabella's husband has a live-in boyfriend as well… you know, they get ideas. And I'd be okay with those, if Isabella was. But she's not."

Seung-gil presses a hand to JJ's. "Not your fault people are douchebags."

JJ looks at him lovingly. "You know you can also bring people over, if you'd like, right?"

"I know. But I don't want to. I want you. That's it."

JJ's eyes widen a little and then he grins, leaning to press a kiss to Seung-gil's forehead. "You're burning up. I'm going to get you some meds and I'll walk Kongju, okay?"

Seung-gil nods weakly. "Alright."

"I'll be back with Isabella and food."

"Alright," he repeats, waving him away and hiding underneath the covers.

JJ does the JJ sign as he walks backwards towards the door. "I love you!"

"Yes, yes, stop screaming!" Seung-gil groans as JJ leaves, but there's a faint smile on his face. "I love you too."

His head is pounding. The lights don't make it any better. Seung-gil lies back down on the bed and closes his eyes.

He rolls to the middle of the bed, and, frankly, dislikes it. He can't understand how JJ likes sleeping there. It's much too soft, and you cannot uncover yourself if it's too hot, because maybe the people at your sides are cold. Well, not Isabella. Isabella always says the heat's too much. Seung-gil is the one that feels like a human popsicle. But JJ has a fucked up body temperature. His skin is always warm, but he never complains about it.

Time passes. It seems an awfully long time, but the whole day has gone by either too quickly, when he's fallen asleep, or painfully slowly, whenever he's awake. Still, despite the fact that Seung-gil feels like the population of Hell just held a party inside his head and then forgot to clean up, he is at ease.

His cellphone rings and he groans. Blindly, he fumbles for it and rejects the call. Probably JJ asking what food he wants, when he knows he'd prefer a burger. He's just waiting for the day in which Seung-gil says something different, and that will not happen.

Okay, maybe it has happened. But it's because Seung-gil answers with "whatever you want" or "whatever Isabella wants", shortly followed by "but for me, meat. Even if it's some sort of meat substitute. Just don't let me know it's that."

They always go out of their way, even when they have vegan cuisine, to get him meat. Seung-gil never mentions it. They never mention it. But it's there. Tangible and delicious proof.

Seung-gil puts the cellphone away and buries his aching head on the pillow.

Then the cellphone rings again.

Seung-gil rejects it.

It rings again.

Reject.

Ring.

"Ugh."

He picks it up.

"Seung-gil! Seung-gil, oh my god."

There's a weakness in Isabella's voice. It trembles.

He sits up quickly, his thoughts immediately going to Kongju. "Bella? What is it?"

He hears sirens and a dog barking. Possibly Kongju? So is she okay? Isabella says nothing.

"Isabella?"

Nothing.

"Isabella!"

"It's…It's JJ."


It's awful, how things can get worse in such a normal day. One moment he is sick in bed, the next he is making his way to the hospital with the call still going. Isabella explains, between sobs, that it had all happened so quickly, that she still couldn't believe it. It seemed so fast. A guy tried to mug them, and he pointed a knife to Isabella and JJ had tried to protect her, and- then her talking just dissolves into crying.

"Turn right here! No, there, no. Wait- Just…."Seung-gil is struggling to give directions to the taxi driver as he stays on the phone. Maybe it's the fever.

"Miss, you can't have a dog in here."

"Excuse me, sir, but my daughter sprained her ank-"

"Not now, lady."

Woof, woof.

Crying. His brain seems to be beating against his skull.

"Sir, we'll have to take a detour."

Woof.

"Okay, then turn- no, not here."

"Not used to going by-"

Woof, woof.

A kid throwing a tantrum.

Seung-gil can hardly breathe.

"-car, are you?"

Doors swinging open.

"You'll have to wait here, go get the dog out."

"Yes, I'm sorry! I just-!"

"Isabella," he mutters softly, as the taxi takes yet another wrong turn. "I'll be there in a second, okay?"

"Okay."

He ends the call and takes a deep breath.

His hands are shaking so badly he's not able to call her when he gets there.

He finds her as a doctor walks away from her.

Her hands are covering her mouth. Her eyes are red.

She has blood on her shirt.

Isabella barely blinks as Seung-gil puts his hands on her shoulder, voice shaking.

"Isabella! Come on. That doctor just told you something!"

Her breath quivers, her arms fall to her sides. He shakes her a little, desperate to hear something.

"Y-yes." She manages.

He stops. "... So?"

She opens her mouth again.

She falls silent and rests her head on his shoulder, breaking down.