As the kettle boils, Lee rests on the counter and watches the other. He looks so small and sleepy. Sometimes Lee likes to make himself just as small so he can fit in the curve of the other’s neck. Sometimes he likes to be as big as possible so he can enshroud Jon in an unrelenting embrace.
They call him Tae, which is not short for anything else. He is a Lee, the direct descendent of one of the Five Dragons—powerful corporate magnates that have dominated the moon for close to a century.
The softness of the mattress, the brightness of the moon, the chill in the air, the stretch of his ribs. Nothing is familiar no matter how many times they meet. No single time is the same as the others. No single time feels real. All their nights are dreams.
Don’t force this, she tells herself now as they both stay seated at the table. Don’t say any more. Don’t ask for an answer. Don’t beg, don’t expect, don’t raise your aspirations. Let those four words be your piece. Now that you’ve said it, let it be a swansong among conversations between the two of you. Walk away. Let this go.
Min hums again, gentler, sweeter, happier. She pulls the hold on her waist to fit tightly, like a restraint. It grows into an embrace. Tae's arm coils around and up her skin, cold fingers holding her throat, quiet sighs holding her ear, bony hips holding her dear.
Jun is not a mystery. She is difficult to be with and she is difficult to be without. She isn't a treasure, but she glitters like gold and shimmers like fairy dust. She isn't smoothed out like her curves, her demands are too many and her expectations too high.
“Shame it burned down,” he comments when he is pouring over the detailed plans and complex sections and elaborate elevations. He thumbs through the reams and doesn't stop until he is at the end. “Shame it fell apart,” he looks up at Jon who looks worn out, like the fire is still blazing.
For every Jon floating on the surface of the ocean, his body undulating with the waves and not a single rescuer in sight–there is a Jon sitting at home, wrapped in a thick blanket as he watches a stupid and mind-numbing TV show.
So much for all that self-training, he thought to himself as he noticed her boosters, her drive cone, her point defence canons. He was reminded of rocks. Of unyielding, unbreakable solid rocks that gave way to nothing and no one. She was a sturdy, rugged ship.
When Lord Kim was given the boon of a guard to accompany him on the journey west, he did not know what to expect. Or, in truth, he had some expectation: a broad man with a broad face, large arms and legs like trees. He had thought the queen would send her emissary forth on the silk route with much pomp and preparation. Yet, he had departed before the first rays of morning found their tracks on the hoof-beaten paths of Wiryeseong.
She wants to weave a sentence with her feelings. Wants to use it as the thread, the needle, and the cloth. She wants to make it into ink and write it with the pen of her heart, spilled onto Jun’s paper. She wants her feelings to become not words but fact–unnecessary to be read or spoken, simply known without much thought.
Min adamantly hooked his fingers in Kim’s belt loops and led them away. His nudging was gentle at first, but his insistence grew when the other made no move to follow. There was a lot of courage to be mustered just so a man could follow.
The kiss is returned tentatively, but Gee returns it just the same. She finds the ball of boldness in her to do it.
What happened ten days ago surfaces in Jun’s mind every morning since, burning her cheeks and the place between her thighs. What fell from her mouth at the boss’s karaoke party is still fresh on her tongue.
Tae would always watch, after her husband left for the day and the house was quiet. Empty. Lonely. She would simply watch. They would not meet; they would not talk.
Of course, Gee isn’t religious. She was brought up in a home of science, of reason. Where superstition was questioned and blind faith was rejected. She had an upbringing surrounded by facts and statistics, her mind conditioned to embrace curiosity.
Tae smiles and shakes his head at his lazily advancing feet, hands sunk deep in his pockets. He’d dressed himself in a suit for this date, wearing his best cologne and setting his hair with a lot of care and attention.
Tae struggles to breathe. The air from his lungs rushes out as if escaping him. A pool of red grows larger and larger under him, and he feels it through his skin.
He means nothing and feels nothing. When they throw him in lockup overnight, the tears that he quietly sheds are weightless in their definition.
They all crashed into each other, first with a little too much aggression deemed appropriate for a reunion, and then with all the happiness of breaking a long separation.