I DID IT FOR YOU
It was a cold, cold evening the day Kibum met the boy with the mushroom hair. It was one of those winter days where the sky is grey and there isn’t a breeze to be found. One of those frozen days, the luckiest day of Kim Kibum’s life.
Kibum jogged all the way to the park, his teeth brushed halfway, face washed partially, and a handful of mints in his mouth and a walkman clipped to his side. Just like he liked it. Call him crazy for being that way, for being out in the open and not fulfilling his physical hygiene. That was Kim Kibum. He was fresh and young.
He trudged the last few steps to an oak wood bench and panted. He closed his eyes for a moment, breathing in the fresh, icy air that filled his lungs. It burned, nonetheless. Before he knew it, he was resting his head on the ice crusted seat, and enjoying it.
Soon enough, someone blocked his sun. Even though his eyes were closed he could feel the warmth being blocked. He peeked and shocked himself, almost falling onto the snowy ground.
“Kim Kibum hyung,” the strange boy whispered. “Wake up. It’s not safe to sleep on benches like this.”
Kibum looked at his surroundings to make sure he was still at the park. He was. But when he got there, the curious boy wasn’t. His heart pumped like a thousand butterflies wanting out of his stomach. He pressed on the soft flesh and his goose bumps rose to meet his crookedly buttoned flannel shirt (he missed a button) underneath his jacket.
The boy cocked his head, bangs falling to the right. He reached a hand out to touch Kibum’s cheek, he pulled back.
“You’re too cold. Like ice. Can we go to your house, hyung?”
Kibum nodded, even though he had no idea where or who the boy was, neither how he got his name. He felt himself being pulled into the wrong direction, he felt like a straggler of some sort. He pulled back, planting his feet into the slushy cement.
He pointed to the correct path, trying not to look too demanding. “It’s… this way.”
“Oh! Of course it is!”
“Does this hurt?” the boy asked. He was rubbing Kibum’s shoulders and stretching Kibum’s legs (Kibum thinks it’s because he made him fall on the ground).
The elder shook his head. “No… but you don’t have to do this, I’m not hurt.”
“I want to, so it’s okay.”
“How do you know my name?”
“You know,” the boy said. “It seems really lonely living here alone. Isn’t it?”
Kibum didn’t answer. He was still thinking of the question that wasn’t answered. The younger tried again, this time cheerfully and full of questions.
“Want me to live with you?” he stopped massaging.
“I… uh, don’t know your name.”
The dark haired boy moved forward, breath mixing with Kibum’s own. “Taemin. Lee Taemin. Happy now?”
“And… where you came from, I don’t…” it wasn’t a shame that he was cut off, actually, because he got the kiss from an angel, and that angel was Lee Taemin. Also known as, Baby-yah and The Boy Who Moved into the Room next To His.
“DIY, the whole house needs it.” Taemin said in between slurps.
“Do It Yourself. Redecorate, re-do, renew, you know? New things.”
Kibum nodded. “But no flowers.”
Kibum frowned. Taemin leaned into him, his arm naturally linking into Kibum’s. “Flowers make everything stand out, no?”
“I said no flowers.”
“We should make up new names. I pick one for you, you pick one for me, okay?” and there he went again, changing the subject. And there he goes again, getting away with it.
Kibum sat down into the fluffy new seats. “We have names. Kibum and Taemin.”
“That’s not fun. You call me Baby-yah, and I can only call you hyung, that’s crazy. Sexist.”
“Taemin, we’re both boys, that can’t be sexist.” Kibum reached for a cookie, and got a slap on the hand, hard enough to sting. “Hey!”
“My cookies. You only get cookies if you agree to let me give you a new name.”
“I bought the cookies, though.”
“Exactly,” Taemin held up his index finger and jabbed it into his own ribcage. “You bought it for me! Now agree!”
Kibum nodded his head tiredly, reaching for the purple bag of cookies. “Fine, now gimme.”
Taemin handed it over, plopping next to the other. “I can call you K. Just… K. No hyung, okay?”
“Impolite leech. But okay, whatever pleases the seven year old.”
“I’m twenty two!”
Kibum nodded, a mouthful of cookie going down the wrong tube. “I know that Baby-yah,” he coughed.
“Good then, K. Let’s get something to eat!”
Kibum followed suit. He smiled. He wasn’t sure if Taemin had actually planned out calling him K but he couldn’t argue. He hadn’t exactly thought about calling him Baby-yah, either.
But his nickname for the kid fit well. Taemin was sweet like a baby. He was soft and kind and cute like a baby. He was still a baby, Kibum’s baby. The only reason he didn’t say it aloud were the sprinkle of cancer cells in his body. They could attack at any moment. Kibum could never be so selfish to leave the boy so heartbroken.
“K? Are you coming?” Taemin asked, breaking the thoughts in two.
Kibum smiled. He grabbed two scarves, wrapping one around his neck and handing one to Taemin. “I wouldn’t want to starve, would I?”
“Depends. Do you want me to starve also?” and he laughed.
Taemin rolled his eyes as he heard the guy hum out sounds of disapproval. It was his novel, not the stupid forty year old virgin’s. He bit his lip and started clicking his ballpoint pen.
The man took it as impatience from Taemin and set the stack of paper onto the conference table.
“The title. It’s a little… corny. It doesn’t fit with the story.” He grounded, lacing his fingers together. “What about… Life is nothing without you?”
“And that isn’t?” Taemin snapped.
“It’s a suggestion, meant to be taken you know. It’s just that your title isn’t strong enough, Mr. Lee.”
Taemin scoffed, his blunt cut nails digging into the overpriced cream leather sofa. “How about… um, no?”
“Rewrite it, please. The story line is beautiful. If you spruce it up a tad then it will be amazing, pure work, an honest tear jerker.”
“You must be crazy. Do it yourself,” Taemin said, monotone. He gathered his orange leather over-the-shoulder bag and stuffed his notes in as well as his cell phone.
“Wait, no, Taemin come back, we can work this out, okay? Be rational!”
“Right, because you’re all about being rational when it becomes a best seller under Life is nothing without you. BS. Bye, bye.”
“Too many diseases that are yet to be cured. When will it be your turn, Kibum-ah?” the doctor asked. “First your father, now you. What do I do?”
Kibum pulled his hoodie neck up and pulled at the strings, tying them in three swift motions. The man was smoking and right in front of him too. He breathed the less polluted air through the thick material of his hoodie and sighed.
“By the way I see it, you might have a few years left. If you’re lucky.”
The doctor smiles partially, threading an aged hand through Kibum’s twenty four year old hair. “How much medicine do you have left?”
Kibum almost rips the orange container out of his pocket. He shakes it.
“Not much. I’ll miss you, you know. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see another pretty face like yours in my lifetime.”
Kibum nods. They never really talk when they meet… even though he’s Kibum’s stepfather.
Kibum walks into their house. He sets his keys down in a little fish tank (Guppy died last summer.) and made his way into the kitchen. He opened the fridge. All that was there to eat was leftover kimchi, two day old Chinese food, and a bottle of water that was already opened. They would have to go food shopping later. He grabbed the water anyway and turned to go into his bedroom.
Kibum turned, softly padding into the common room. He saw a figure, covered in blankets. Taemin was most likely weeping. He sat down, and like magnets, Taemin jumped into his lap, fixing himself a seat.
He was red in the face. His eyes were swollen and his cheeks were streamed with dry tears. Kibum patted his back soothingly.
Taemin sniffed and move his lips to Kibum’s soft cheek. “They told m-me to rewrite it. They told me i-it wasn’t strong e-enough. How strong does it h-have to be? I’ve been writing it s-since high school!”
Kibum nodded uncomfortably. The feeling of Taemin talking into his cheek wasn’t normal Taemin behavior. Actually, Taemin didn’t have normal behavior, but he usually adapted to certain things long enough for Kibum to notice. But cheek-talking wasn’t one of those things.
“Stop crying, Baby-yah.” He said calmly.
And that’s what Taemin loved about Kibum. He wasn’t like the other people who said “It’s going to be okay” he actually said sensible things.
“What about What I love about Kim Kibum? A survival guide to the lucky person who marries you.”
Kibum smiled sympathetically. “I don’t think that goes with the story.”
“If you could be reborn, what would you be?” and this is Taemin, always changing the subject.
“Do I have to be human?”
“Anything you please.” Taemin grabbed his camera and put it on the table. He pressed a button and a red light showed up, documenting their conversation. “Okay, now say it.”
“Okay. If I were to be reborn again, I would be a ring.”
“What a boring life that is.”
Kibum smiled as Taemin slowly but gradually returned to his own cushion on the couch. “Well, I get to be on happy people. I get to be near the heart line.”
“Sensible K.” Taemin wiped the warm tears from his eyes and his nose. “Did you eat?”
“Not me. I ate coffee.”
Kibum laughed. “You drink coffee; you don’t eat it, Baby-yah.”
“Okay K,” putting a lower voice on his nickname. “Feed me now, I’m a babyyy!”
Kibum rubbed Taemin’s cheeks for any stray tears. “Let’s eat, then!”
“We need to get more food.”
“Ah, you’re so right.”
Kibum was standing up, hunched over the counter (he was too lazy to buy one more chair) eating his spoonful of rice. Taemin was staring into space, thinking obviously.
“Is there something you want to tell me?” Taemin asked quietly.
“A deep, dark secret. One that you would only tell me.”
Kibum’s eyes were trained on the golden brown noodles Taemin was having (leftover Chinese). “A deep, dark secret, huh?”
Taemin nodded, eyes furrowed.
“I like you.” Kibum said as he shoveled another spoon of rice into his mouth, his eyes looking straight into Taemin’s after adding in a piece of kimchi.
“I want to ask you something.”
“Didn’t you just?”
“This is different.” Taemin sighed, crossing his arms tighter against his chest. “Do you have a wish?”
“Sure I do. Everyone does.”
“If you could have anything in the world… what would it be?”
Kibum chewed, swallowed. “Pick up your spoon.”
Taemin obeyed. “Then?”
“Eat all your food.”
Taemin looked at him for a moment. He started with his noodles, slurping a long string up, he sauce gathering at his pouted lips. If that was his wish then he’ll fulfill it.
“But, I do have another wish,” Kibum said. “Meet a great person and get married.”
“Why can’t I marry you?”
Kibum heart panged in his chest. “Because I’m a boy. I’m not that great either.”
“We can go to America. They don’t care over there.” Taemin wasn’t so sure he would be able to fulfill that wish. His heart ached just thinking about finding someone else.
“I like Korea.”
Taemin looked offended. “You like Korea because you don’t want to marry me, isn’t that so?”
“You’re not short enough.”
“Then my wish is to be shorter, or you to become taller.” Taemin said defiantly.
“We should buy red string instead of blue.” Taemin said.
Taemin put his hand on Kibum’s when they went to the next aisle. “If we tie it together then we’ll be closer.”
“Is not. Stop it. It’s as real as your front teeth!”
“I can pull them out and put new ones in. Fake, I’m telling you.”
“I don’t care. When you’re sleeping tonight I’ll tie our lips together instead!” and he stomped off to the cash register, sticking his tongue out at Kibum when he handed over money.
Kibum never liked going to craft stores with the younger. He always got so creative.
Taemin chomped on a lobster chip and watched the movie. Kibum was seated on the floor, peeling carrots for their stew. He looked at Taemin’s foot.
“You’re feet are like mine.”
“Except, I fit into girl shoes.”
“Your second toe is bigger than your first. Your mom will live longer than you.”
Taemin laughed. “All lies!”
“I’m an orphan, I have no mother.”
“We’re both orphans, Baby-yah.”
Taemin nodded in agreement, but stopped to shove the whole chip in his mouth. He stuck his foot in Kibum’s face. “Live forever with me or die.”
Kibum squeezed the boy’s small second toe. “I’m not promising anything. I don’t want to be with you forever.”
Taemin walked through the hallway to the coffee machine. There was an older man about Kibum’s age seated on a bench. He was reading the paper and drinking coffee. Taemin smiled.
Kibum hyung and I like coffee just like him, he thought.
His sneakers squeaked as he turned to face the large machine. He put his coins in and pressed the button for Hazelnut Coffee. The sound of the beverage spilled through his ears. He opened the tiny door and saw the last few drops filter through the bottom. There wasn’t a cup there for him.
He breathed out through his mouth. He turned, looking at the man up and down. By the way it was, the man had grown even more handsome from when he started walking a few seconds ago.
“Are you finished?”
The man looked up, his doe eyes shining. “Pardon?”
“The coffee, are you finished with it?” Taemin asked, his voice sounding cool.
The guy looked into his own cup, noting that it was empty, and handed it to Taemin. Taemin got his coffee and turned back around. The man wasn’t reading his newspaper any more. He was watching Taemin. Taemin was watching him too, so it was okay.
He sipped and turned it, sipped and turned it again. “Say, what side did you drink from?”
“Excuse me?” and once again the man was baffled at this weird person.
“This isn’t kissing is it?” he finished the drink off and handed it back. “Do what you want with the cup. I won’t tell anyone we kissed. Pinky swear.”
Taemin held out his pinky and the man held out his own with a shaky hand.
“I won’t bite.” Taemin assured.
He made his first promise with the man.
“Hyung,” Taemin said to the worker next to him. “What does that guest do at the show?”
The elder man looked up onto the ceiling. “Dentist, I’m sure of it. Why?”
“Is it free?”
“Healthy teeth, you did a good job.” The dentist handed the cup of water of Taemin.
Taemin took it and gargled, spitting it into the teensy sink. “We kiss on the first day.” Gargle, spit, and repeat. “You see my body on the second day.” Gargle, spit, and repeat. “We get married… a week later?” Taemin hands the cup back.
Taemin smiles and reads the nametag; Choi Minho. “Choi Taemin… eh, I’ll get used to it.”
“I don’t mean to rush you. We’ll decide when the time comes.”
Kibum can hear Taemin open the door to the bathroom. He puts the soap down on the ledge and picks up the sponge.
“I’m in love.”
Kibum wipes his face from the waterfall of water under the shower. “Pass me the toothbrush, please.”
Taemin puts the minty toothpaste on Kibum’s brush and does his own. “Can I join you?”
“I’m almost done. Who’s the person?”
Taemin pulls back the shower curtain so he can see Kibum in all his manliness. He passes the toothbrush to him and Kibum takes it knowingly. They have seen each other butt naked so many times it doesn’t matter anymore.
“The guest dentist at the show. He’s really nice. He gave me his cup and gave me a free cleaning.”
“Yeah. He’s really handsome.”
Kibum holds his breath. “That’s great. Really, really great.”
“Kiseop? What do you know about the guest dentist?”
“He’s loaded. Mad hot fiancé, just great all around. He’s perfect. Why?”
“I just want to know. What about the fiancé. Where is she?”
“You trying to steal her? Kudos to you.”
“Hey, I’m the producer right? You should tell me these things.”
“Digging doesn’t get you anywhere, Kibum.”
“Neither does working out, Kiseop.”
“Alright, alright, I’ll tell you later. Girlfriend is on the other line. I promise.”
“I’ll hunt you down.”
“Good bye to you, too.”
Every day seems like a big fat minus. With each day, he’s closer and closer to dying, to leaving. Kibum didn’t mind leaving. But in reality he did. Could you miss someone when you are dead? Could you feel sorry or hurt when you’re dead? Did you feel anything at all when you were… dead?
Would it be just as bad for Taemin as it will be for Kibum? Kibum hoped Taemin wouldn’t go through too much pain.
“Buy me a drink.” Taemin said when he stopped in front of Minho.
“A drink? You drink?” and Taemin was silently thanking the Gods that he didn’t say “What? Or “Pardon?” or even “Excuse me?”
“Actually, I don’t, but I thought it would be cool if I said that instead of milkshakes.”
Minho chuckled. “I like milkshakes.”
“We’re so alike. We should get married.”
Minho laughed. “Hold on there. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.”
“We’ll talk about it later.”
“Whip cream is my favorite part,” Taemin said joyfully. “Cream, cream, cream, cream, creaaaam!”
“You really like it, huh?”
“Of course, don’t you?”
Minho nodded, a large smile on his face. “I do, I do.”
“Oh! You should give me your number, and a picture. I want to show my hyung at home.”
“Okay, you too.” Minho handed Taemin the phone. Taemin handed his to Minho.
“Do I put it as Taemin?” Taemin asked.
“I know you as Cream, not Taemin.”
Taemin nodded, typing. “Then you put your name as… Coffee.”
“Coffee and Cream.”
“Sounds good right? I know how to do things like this.” Taemin giggled.
While looking over Minho’s shining face and lean body figure he could imagine their wedding day. He grinned like a mad person. His eyes caught onto a thin silver ring on the man’s left hand. He pointed to it.
“Can I see that?”
Minho looked around. “See what?”
“The ring, can I see it?”
Minho watched him for a minute, then took it off and handed it to him. Taemin spun it around his finger and dropped it in his almost empty strawberry milkshake. He smiled to the frowning Minho. He took the rest of his shake into his mouth in a long chug. The ring followed, conking on the way down. It fell into his mouth and Taemin placed it under his tongue while swallowing the sweet goodness. He pulled it out and placed it on his own finger.
“This is really nice…”
Minho didn’t look amused. “Why did you do that, Taemin?”
“Huh? Oh. This is what couple do, right? I think it will get us closer, no?”
“I’m engaged, with a fiancé. A girl.”
Taemin snorted out of embarrassment. “It’s fine. We can still finish the funnel cake.”
“Hyung… Kibum hyung, please wake up…” Taemin said as he slid under the older man’s blanket.
“I’m awake.” Kibum turned to face him. “What’s wrong?”
“That’s a shame.”
Taemin started spooning the elder, killing him with niceness. “Hyuuung. Just once could you act like you care? Stop being so cool all the time.”
“Why do you like that guy so much?”
“He’s close to someone I love. Someone I really love.”
Kibum sighed. “I pity that man.”
“He’s missing out on a great little kid.”
“Thanks hyung… but you know, that means you pity yourself, also. Good night.”
For once, he did pity himself. He couldn’t have the one thing he dearly wanted in life. Couldn’t God come down and help him, just once?