Juni stormed into Hakyeon’s room, her left hand holding her mobile aloft. Hakyeon’s head snapped up from his laptop at the sound of her voice. Her expression was pure murder as she stalked towards her prey.
Hakyeon slowly backed out of his chair. His hands went up in a sign of surrender. “What did I do?”
She brandished her phone at him. He narrowly missed getting an impromptu nose job.
“James just called.” She enunciated each word slowly, her voice dropping to a stage whisper.
Hakyeon was still confused. “James Yim? That preppy guy who squealed when his shirt got a wrinkle? What did he want?“
Juni’s eyes widened. She looked as though she was going to throw her phone at him. “He is not preppy! He — “
Hakyeon took her phone away and put it on his desk. He guided her to his chair and sat on his bed, facing her. “All right. He’s not preppy. What did he want?”
To his surprise, she burst into tears. He frowned. In the years he had known her, she never cried.
“He — he — He dumped meeee…” she sobbed into her hands. Tentatively, he went to her and hugged her. Her tears soaked into his shirt. It was a new one from Topman, but he didn’t care.
“Did he say why?” he said after a few minutes.
The tears stopped immediately. Juni turned baleful eyes at him and shoved him away.
“Because of you! He dumped me because he said you were hitting on him!”
She was breathing heavily. He blinked owlishly at her, and then shrugged nonchalantly.
“I was just keeping him company while you got ready for your date. It’s not my fault he took it wrongly.”
Juni growled in frustration. “Why do you keep driving my dates away? Are you so desperate?” She turned and ran out of his room.
She ran to the sanctuary of her room and slammed the door. Angry tears leaked down her cheeks. She wiped them away roughly and sat at her dressing table. She tried to calm herself by taking deep breaths, but it was difficult not to be furious about the situation.
James Yim had been her final chance at getting a life partner. He was the son of her father’s university friend and came from a conservative family. Her parents had introduced the two of them after James’s father expressed interest in having her as his daughter-in-law. Even though James strongly disapproved of her having Hakyeon as her housemate, she was willing to overlook it in the hopes that she would finally settle down. At 38 years old, eligible bachelors were becoming a rare sight.
Cha Hakyeon had ruined her chance of marrying someone respectable in a few minutes.
Loud knocks sounded on her door.
“Go away, Hakyeon. Leave me alone.”
The doorknob jiggled and turned to let him in. He had to bend slightly to enter her room. He stood by the dressing table, his face a perfect imitation of a sad clown, white face and all. Juni couldn’t help laughing at the sight of him.
He knelt in front of her, his hands clasped together. “I’m really sorry my behaviour made James leave you.” He even had a teardrop drawn under his left eye.
The corner of Juni’s lips tilted up in a reluctant smile. No matter how infuriating he could be, she always forgave him right away. Mostly because of the ways he employed to ask forgiveness from her. She sighed and hugged him.
“I suppose I forgive you. He was a jerk over you anyway. I can’t let a potential mate diss you, can I?” she said. Hakyeon took a tissue from her table and wiped her tears away.
“Thank you. I really appreciate your loyalty.” He moved to sit on the edge of her bed. She looked at him.
“I’m sorry I called you desperate, but I really want to know something. I agreed to have you as my housemate because I needed the money and you said you were gay. I didn’t expect you to go after all ten of my dates! So tell me, why did you do it?”
He waved her apology away, but couldn’t meet her gaze.
He looked up at her, a resolute look in his eyes. “I lied to you, Juni.”
She drew back, her eyes wide saucers in her pale face. “What do you mean, you lied to me?”
“I’m sorry, but I lied about being gay.” He stood up and approached her. She backed away towards the door.
“Why?” Her voice sounded plaintive to her ears. She cleared her throat and repeated her question.
His answer knocked the wind out of her. “Because I love you.”
She was panicking. Maybe he shouldn’t have revealed it too soon.
She surprised him by marching up to him. There was a difference of about 20 cms between them, but in that moment, she seemed taller than him.
“Explain.” So he did.
“It started in college. You were so kind to me when my parents passed away and I couldn’t keep up with the classes. You burned the midnight oil with me and made sure I passed every subject. You stayed with me through the dark times, every step of the way, until we graduated.
It crushed me when you said you wanted to move here, to Seoul, but I wanted you to be happy. So we went our separate ways and I tried to forget you.”
She stared at him, her mouth slightly agape. “How did you know I lived here?”
“Pure luck. I saw your advertisement at the convenience store. I got the job offer two months before and needed to be in Seoul.”
“But this place is far from your office!”
“It didn’t matter when you answered the doorbell. All I knew was that I had to be your housemate.”
“What about the part when you admitted you were gay?”
“I improvised. You said your house was broken into once. I saw your hesitation about living with a man, so I said that in the hopes that you’d accept my application.”
Juni remembered the day well. She had been at her wits’ end. Posting an advertisement at the convenience store was her final hope. It had been 3 months since she began the search, but only 2 people answered. One was a girl dressed completely in black and had a spiky dog collar in addition to 3 nose rings. Juni turned her down as gently as she could. The other was a young couple. She didn’t think she could handle new love staring her in the face, so she turned them down too.
When she opened the door and found Hakyeon standing there, it was as if God had answered her prayers. It nearly broke her heart when she told him she was moving to Seoul to pursue her dreams of being a famous hairstylist. He looked so dejected then. But dreams were dreams, she told herself, and left her hometown.
He was never far from her mind, though. They had lost contact by then, but she often wished she could see him again.
She was hesitant to allow him to live with her because she felt it would be scandalous. When he said he preferred men, she didn’t know whether to feel relieved or crushed. In any case, she desperately needed the money, so she agreed to have him as her housemate.
“Juni?” Hakyeon waved his hands in front of her face. She realised she had been lost in her thoughts.
“Are you mad again at me now?” He pouted. She blinked at him.
“No, I’m not. I just remembered something. My neighbour told me she saw you talking to Thomas before I met him. She said she thought she saw you flirting with him, and then he stomped into the café… So that’s why he dumped me in such a hurry.”
“You told me he treated you unfairly, always expecting you to pay for dates but never buying anything for you. I decided to do something about it.”
“You did that… for me?”
He nodded. “I’ll do anything it takes to keep you safe and happy, Juni.”
She threw her arms around him, gratitude and relief washing over her in equal measures. A new (or maybe old?) emotion blossomed in her, making her see her housemate of 2 years in a different light.
Oh all right, not in a completely different light, but she was relieved to be able to see him in the way she always wanted to: as her companion.
“You don’t have to pretend to be gay anymore. But to think I dragged you with me to find shoes, clothes, and…um…” She blushed. He grinned and tweaked her nose.
“Don’t worry, I enjoyed those shopping trips. Now I know what you like,” he said with a laugh and hugged her tightly.
“Thank you for all you’ve done for me. I’m glad you became my housemate,” Juni said. “But your contract expires next week. Will you… stay with me?” Her voice was a hesitant plea.
He gazed at her tenderly. “Always,” and kissed her.
Author notes: I wanted to laugh when I wrote this, but the idea wouldn’t leave my mind until I wrote the last sentence. N was so cute here!
Originally published at fishcrumbs.tumblr.com.