“What are you doing?” Kibum asked Taemin.
Kibum woke up especially early to fix them a big breakfast, sort of a It’s okay he doesn’t like you, but we can still be best friends and roommates thing. He actually liked the fact that Minho said that he was engaged. He loved it. But he hid that bad thought deep in his head.
Taemin drank a whole cup of milk and grabbed his cap. “I can’t eat this. I have to go.”
“But… what do I do with all this food, huh?”
“Eat it all,” Taemin whispered gleefully,” I have to go go go!”
And he left.
Kibum sat down at the table in Taemin’s spot. He picked up his spoon and picked up exactly three pieces of rice. He slowly put it in his mouth, not able to eat any longer.
“ABCDEFGHIJ… K…” He took Taemin’s bowl and dug his spoon into the rice and piled it into his mouth. Taemin should’ve eaten. He tried stuffing as many side dishes that would fit.
In the corner of his eyes he saw the light of a cell phone. He turned and ran, catching the buzzing device and flipping it open.
“Hewwo?” he asked, mouth full.
“Hello. Is this Lee Taemin’s phone?”
“Can I speak to him?”
“He’s not here… he went out.”
“Oh, this is Choi Minho. I was supposed to meet him for breakfast but something came up at work. Is there another way I can contact him?”
“Where did you plan on going?”
“Too cold.” Kibum stated as he sat across from Taemin.
“What are you doing here?” a mix of excitement and worry in his voice.
“He’s not coming.”
Taemin’s eyes drooped. “Oh. Well, that’s okay. I was planning on eating something different anyway.”
Kibum got up to leave when he was pulled back. He turned. “What is it?”
“Eat with me.”
“… What are you eating? Coffee?”
“Not funny. Curry, I’m eating curry.”
“You know I don’t like curry… how about bibimbap? Kimbap?”
“Boring. We’re eating curry, and you’re paying.”
Kibum crossed his arms. “Says who exactly?”
“Me, your Baby-yah.”
Kibum’s skin tickled. “Okay.”
“The lady’s got men all over here. Look at her body!” Kiseop exclaimed to Kibum. “She’s sexy!”
“What’s her name again?”
“Yuri. Pretty name too. I don’t think they’ll last long. She’s everywhere.”
“Hm. She’s okay.”
“You’re one weird stalker…”
Kibum gasped,” I’m not a stalker!”
“Coffee tastes weird.”
Kibum’s eyes lolled around the sockets.
“Is this cream? Do I have to put it in?”
One, two, three…. Five.
“I think I’m more of a sugar guy… right Kibum?” and when Kiseop turned around, his eyes almost fell out. There Kibum was, on the floor, passed out. “HELP! Somebody help us!”
“Where is he?” Taemin demanded.
The doctor pointed to the bathroom door and Kibum emerged. Taemin stomped the way over, and pushed him.
“Hey! What’s wrong with you?”
“Ah, I’m so pooped.”
Taemin growled,” What’s with you?”
“Don’t start, meanie.”
“How can you keep passing out like that? Crazy person!”
“It’s hereditary… but it could also be from malnutrition.” The doctor piped in.
Taemin turned back to Kibum who was half on the cot. “We eat the same thing everyday! You have to eat anchovies and milk from now on okay!?”
“So loud, Taemin!”
“Got it?! Anchovies and milk!”
Yuri flipped through the photos. With each one she saw her flame grew bigger. “Yah, what did this guy say?”
Kiseop moved forward. “He said… break off your engagement.”
“You must be crazy, insane even.” She threw the photos into the lake beside them. “You can’t tell me what to do.”
“Don’t say my name.”
Kibum moved closer. “Just think about it.”
“I don’t need to. Bye mister…”
“I’d love to take pictures of you. You have a different image than most of my models.” Yuri said.
“Fine, then the deal is off. I’ll marry Minho and your little girl will be all alone when you die.”
“How could you marry someone you don’t love?” Kibum asked out of rage and curiosity.
“It’s great. He has money and I have the looks. We go together okay.”
“I’ll do it then. Just a few pictures.”
Kibum opened the door for Taemin as they stepped inside the crowded restaurant. It was their business party. They sat down, Minho moving over to sit next to Taemin. He handed the younger a bowl of noodles and chopsticks.
Kibum took notice. “Hi, I’m Kim Kibum. We spoke to each other on the phone the other day.”
“Oh, hello! Thank you by the way.”
Taemin whispered to Kibum. “You know him?”
“The substitute person you love?”
They both giggled.
“Actually, I have another show to do. I will have to leave right now, unfortunately.” Kibum announced.
“Don’t go…” Taemin said.
“Duty calls! Good bye everyone! Eat well.”
Taemin squeezed his hand before he left. Kibum waved and was out the door. The snow speckled his dark chestnut hair as he crossed the street. He entered a back alley by walking. He tripped, holding onto a dumpster to lift himself up. His vision was hazy the whole walk home.
“You’re home early, Baby-yah.”
Taemin took his jacket off and joined Kibum at the table. Since he didn’t feel like standing, he sat on Kibum as a replacement of the imaginary chair.
“You said you were doing a show.”
Kibum slurped his noodles. “Things changed.”
“Me too… I didn’t want to stay for too long.”
Taemin took Kibum’s chopsticks and took over his noodles, eating it happily. Kibum held up a cup and Taemin took a sip before returning to the bowl. Kibum got his own chopsticks from the container and started picking at the warm rice cakes. His first attempt at catching one failed but he kept trying.
“You didn’t eat at the party?”
Taemin watched Kibum pick one up successfully and he opened his own mouth, saying “Ah” until Kibum gave it to him. “Actually, I ate a lot but I’m starving… but I think rice is better than noodles.”
“Noodles are simple, rice takes time.”
“You love him a lot don’t you?” Yuri asked as she snapped a picture in her open studio.
“Must suck knowing you’re going to die without him. Cancer must stink.”
“You can’t smell it,” Kibum forced out a joke.
Yuri laughed. “That’s right. Hey, I’m really sorry for you. If I had to do that then I’d just straight out die.”
“I treasure every second.”
“Okay Shakespeare.” Yuri said,” Turn a little to the right, oh and tilt your chin a little. Yeah, like that…”
“When will you break it off?”
“I will… under one condition. No rush though, I like to tell people things after.”
“Why did you wait?”
Minho cocked his head. “What?”
“You waited for me to come, right?”
“Well… if you didn’t come then your teeth wouldn’t be clean. I was just wondering.”
“You love me.”
Taemin sat up on his elbows. “Love makes you wonder… and blush like you are.”
Taemin was a smart kid.
“My engagement is done for,” Minho said out of the blue.
“I’m an orphan,” Taemin cleared, hoping it wouldn’t make Minho too sad about the whole marriage thing. “I don’t know my parents, my family. All I know is K.”
“You met him at the party. Kim Kibum, you know, right?”
“Oh, right.” and Minho felt jealous, just a tad.
“At home… he’s like my mom. But when we’re at work, he’s like my dad. When I feel really happy or really sad he’s a brother. But sometimes he can be my lover, even though he chickens out. He really is a versatile person. I love him for that.”
Minho was silent. “Can I kiss you?”
Taemin was a vulnerable boy.
Taemin was washing his dish, mind in thought when a glass cup fell. He jumped a little before turning around. Kibum dropped his cup on the floor, it had shattered to pieces. Taemin wiped his hands on his sweats and kneeled down next to the elder. He looked at the crystal on the floor first, then, Kibum’s partially bloody finger. He blew on it.
“Are you stupid?” Taemin asked, his voice monotone.
Kibum winced as cold air split between his wound. Taemin tried picking the little shard out with as little pain as possible. Kibum pulled back, silent discomfort burning inside him.
“I guess I am stupid.”
He left Taemin to clean up the mess.
“Hey, open the door. Are you okay?” Taemin asked through the creak.
Kibum didn’t answer. Taemin slid a piece of paper under the door. The crumpling got Kibum’s attention. He curiously turned around. The lined paper had a colored face with a bright red tongue. A teal sharpie wrote out, stupid stupid stupid K!! >.<”
He smiled lightly.
Taemin was listening to the DJ’s questions. He nodded at the right intervals, hummed a soft mmh at times, and made faces at Kibum when possible. Kibum laughed and returned it.
“So you wrote this book, Taemin?” the DJ asked politely, shuffling a stack of papers in his hand.
“Let’s listen to part of the audio book.” And he pressed the button for the short teaser.
Taemin stood by.
Minho walked in. He was all smiles when he set his eyes on him. Taemin took notice. He waved and Minho waved back. Kibum said hi and Minho did the same. The air was awkward in the waiting room for the both of them. Taemin had no idea.
Did you eat? Taemin motioned to Minho.
I was waiting for you, he replied. Taemin grinned, his eyes turning into crescents.
Taemin put his pointer finger to his wrist. I’m almost done!
Kibum could’ve thrown up from all their sweetness. His phone let out the sound of a mystical waterfall. He picked it up.
“We need to talk. Come to the office.”
Kibum turned his phone back into his pocket. He bowed to Minho. “Enjoy your lunch.” He said on his way out.
“You’re going to America to study?” Kiseop asked.
“So you’re not going to pursue Yuri?”
Kibum shook his head. “I told you it was nothing.”
“You have no idea how lucky you are, kid.”
“Actually… I think I do.” Kibum said warily.
“What’s marriage like?” Taemin asked. He got comfortable, putting his feet on Kibum’s calves as they laid feet to feet.
“Marriage… is difficult.”
“No, not like that, I mean if it was an item, what would it be?”
“Couples and married people usually share a bathroom with two sinks.”
Taemin got up, moving in between Kibum’s legs to get closer. “Then I must be married too, right?”
“You need a wedding, dummy.”
Taemin frowned. “I don’t care what you say, K.” he brought his camera into his hands and started fiddling with it. “Say it again… this time, with feeling.”
Kibum took the device in his hand. He breathed out. Taemin wiggled in his seat, holding his crotch.
“Hurry up, I need to go pee.” He whined.
“Then you’d better go before you get an infection.”
Taemin hit Kibum’s butt and got up. “Wait until I get out!”
Kibum watched the boy trample to the bathroom. He relished in the quiet moment. Life with Taemin had been so busy. There were always things to do, even on the rainiest days of the year. They would listen to music, play in the storm and get sick, and even make tents with their blankets and camp out in the living room together. Times like those, Kibum hoped he would remember when the time came, and even long after he was leveled with the worms and soft moist dirt.
Kibum turned the camera on and faced it towards the wall. A small bing! Was heard. He took a wavering breath. He held the device closer to his mouth as he was about to ruin his plan of pretending to go to America to study, when really, he would be dead. Yuri would take care of the anniversary flowers for a few years until he would start to “forget”. He was sure Minho would ask him to marry, there wasn’t a doubt in his mind.
His throat contracted. He turned the device off. He couldn’t do it. He would never be so selfish.
“He wants you to go with him to pick his tuxedo for the wedding,” Minho said.
Kibum pulled on a shy smile. “I’m honored.”
The air was awkward ever since Minho asked to meet up together, minus Taemin. Minho had proposed a week earlier, urging for them to have a wedding ASAP. Minho seemed happy with his decision, he shoulder, after all; he got the best thing that was out there. It felt like a battlefield in the small section Minho reserved in the restaurant. There was a strong tension in the air.
“Taemin and I… well, because he’s living with me… you don’t find that uncomfortable, do you?” Kibum spoke.
“Of course,” there was a huff of pride in his voice. “He’s my man. But I know how much he treasures you, so I believe in you. I know nothing bad will come out of it. You don’t seem like that kind of person.”
Kibum’s lungs tightened. The muscles in his face were phased. “It’s nice that you think of me so highly.” Honestly, though, Kibum felt like Minho just ripped the floor from beneath him. “Thank you.”
“Friends of the same age shouldn’t think of themselves too highly, or too lowly. Don’t you agree, Kibum?”
Kibum nodded. He reached for his cup of water and started washing down the regret that filled his lungs. If only he could do the same with the cancer cells that formed a tumor in his dainty body.
“How does this look?” Taemin asked as he emerged from the dressing room. “Sexy?”
“Sure,” Kibum answered without looking. He needed to meet with Yuri soon; she had something urgent to tell him.
“Don’t be such sauerkraut, K. Really. Tell me how I look,” The younger whined.
Kibum didn’t want to look. It would just remind him of what would never happen in his lifetime. When it came down to it, he would never get married before he died. Not that he would be so disrespectful or anything like that.
He turns. Taemin is beautiful, just simply angel-like. The tux fits well. Kibum thinks for a while, he thinks that Taemin is meant to walk down the aisle.
“Come,” Taemin bellows. “I want to take a picture.”
Kibum hesitates for a quick second before being pulled up to the little stage. Taemin pokes his arm through Kibum’s and rests it in the crook of his elbow. He leans his head on his shoulder as the man who helped put the tuxedo on, adjusts the camera.
“One, two, three, kimchi!” the enthusiastic boy says before a bright flash blinds Kibum’s eyes.
A wide piece of film emerges from the top of the camera and the photographer plucks it out, handing it to Taemin. Kibum gets a mere glance, his eyes burning with angst. They look perfect together. Too perfect. Taemin’s arm slips out of his, going to hold the picture, studying the details. He shoos the elder away and the thick maroon curtain swishes back until the skinny boy is no longer seen.
Kibum’s fists clench by his side as he finds his way out the door. When he leaves, the bell chimes behind him. Walking out into the open street, Kibum allows his tears to fall. They come out in groups, all settling into small puddles at the end of his chin before landing on the cement underneath him. He laughs bitterly. Life is cruel, he concludes in his head.
Soon enough, he’s heaving, trying to catch his breath. The world stops in time; dogs in mid-bark, women adjusting the straps to their heels, men and children in half-strides. Everything stills besides Kibum. He’s there, groping the ground that he fell to his knees to. His heart is aching, breaking, ripping apart and he can’t bear to move on. He wants to stay there forever.
It’s not fair, Kibum thinks through concentrating on wiping his heavy tears. This shouldn’t happen to me.
And he takes that anger, all the hurt, and balls it all into a retching yell. He yells and yells until he can’t anymore. He doesn’t stop until he thinks someone’s heard him. Hopefully the right person heard it.
He can feel his heart thumping against his ribcage, threatening to pop right out of him and show itself to the frozen world. At that moment, Kibum doesn’t completely care if it did. He’d be over and done with sooner and wouldn’t have to wonder when the day will take him by surprise.
Letting his tears fall freely, he gets up from his crouch and dusts off the front of his jeans. Then, he starts walking aimlessly. He felt like dying, although he would have never guessed that Taemin died before him.
After an incident with Kibum’s pain killers, Taemin found out that his beloved K was doomed. With time, Taemin started to visibly shrink away. He was off in his own head. The aching pain of thinking about Kibum leaving the world was horrible. He didn’t want it to happen. He couldn’t be alone, he couldn’t be left.
At first, Taemin hated Kibum. He was angered and had half a mind to beat him up for not telling him. He would’ve liked to obtain superpowers so he could throw the man across the room and smash him into walls until he begged for mercy, until he begged to be with him. Those terrifying thoughts disappeared after reality set in, when he knew for a fact that Kibum would eventually leave before he would. Kibum would die and he would be alone. He didn’t want anything to change between them. He kept to his same personality, not having anything different. He was the same on the outside when Kibum was around, but once Kibum left, he was a broken mess. He was nothing.
Taemin thought that if he could get Minho to marry him, Kibum would be alright. He’d be okay. Those childish hopes were crushed terribly when the days moved by. A part of him wanted to forget. He wanted to forget about Kibum and move far far away where no one could find him. It would be nice to be isolated instead of being with him all the time, he thought once. The twisting pain came back in his chest, then. “All the time” wouldn’t be a valid option in the future.
Crashing back into reality, Taemin looked at the newly printed Polaroid in his hands. Running his thumb over Kibum’s face, he sighed heavily. A world without his face in it would be a world without light, without the damned ball of gas in the sky.
The teenager in front of him patted his back and started pulling the curtains back. Taemin, shooting a pose and shaking off all the bad energy, stood on the ledge, looking at nothing. Kibum was gone.
“Bastard couldn’t even say good bye,” Taemin said to no one in particular.
He hopped off the pair of stairs and started looking out the window. He could feel his tears filling up near his tear ducts. He putted around, moving things unnecessarily. He could almost see the puzzled face the other boy was aiming at him before he walked join to join him.
“Are you okay?”
Taemin nodded. Immediately, the tears welled up again. He bit his lip and started sniffing. The tearing in his heart started. Sobbing into the hand he brought up to his mouth, his tears were hotter than ever before.
Kibum didn’t apologize for running out that night when they were cleaning the dishes together. Taemin didn’t expect him to. It was quiet. Taemin was washing while Kibum was on drying duty. They were close together but felt distanced.
“I love you,” Kibum said, breaking the silence.
It took Taemin a minute. He then spoke lowly. “Me too.”
“You’re walking me down the aisle, right?” Taemin confirmed while letting one of Kibum’s friends (Kiseop) fix his tie.
“Yeah. I’ll be waiting until you’re done… but you better hurry because the piano is starting.”
Saying his thanks to Kiseop, he headed out, hooking his hand onto the space between Kibum’s arm and side. They waited until everyone went, filing into their spots. Looking at it now, it was a small wedding. It was private and in a tiny church.
Kibum started walking first and then Taemin followed, walking in step with the elder. Stumbling zero times, Taemin felt his hand being brought up. For a moment, he thought that it was Kibum he was going to marry. But then, the man let his hand fall crookedly into Minho’s. He was marrying Minho. Oh the joy.
Holding the camera, Minho stared lifelessly. He pressed play after hesitating slightly. Here, he saw Taemin in their bathroom three days after their wedding. He’s beautiful. The camera shakes slightly in his hands when he starts to talk. When the device flops accidently, Minho can see the shining kitchen knife next to him. In the background he hears the water to the tub running.
“Kibum… I’m coming for you,” the Taemin in the video starts out happily. “When I get there, don’t get mad. I have so much to tell you. Since I went through all that trouble, don’t you think it’s fair for me to be with you? Can you hear me now? I hope you can. I want to be by your side so wherever you are right now… I’ll find you later. Promise me when we’re together we won’t cry anymore…” Taemin laughed as tears streamed down his cheeks. “Wait for me, Kim Kibum.”
A/N: Happy birthday kirie46 unnie! I love you so very much. I hope all your dreams and wishes come true this year.
This story was based off the Korean movie: More Than Blue.