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It has been a day since Yeonwu crashed at Steve’s place. Steve was a bit confused at first, but Yeonwu’s grumpy face when he knocked on their door told them everything they needed to know.

He had a fight with his husband.

(English) “Yeonwu…you can use the spare room if you want to you know? You don’t have to sleep on the couch.”

Yeonwu looks up from his place. He’s lying down on the couch sideways and watching Rick and Morty. Steve guesses that he has already binged one or two seasons last night.

“No, it’s okay! I’m fine I swear!”, Yeonwu says and turn his head back, focusing

Steve takes a look at the state of their colleague. Dirty socks, unkempt hair and a face that can’t decide between being mad or crying. Yeonwu notices the look and feels like curling up and going invisible.

“You know what. Yeonwu. Look at me.”

Yeonwu looks up again, a bit puzzled this time.

Steve stares at him. Eyebrows scrunched. Points their finger at the phone on the table next to the couch.

“You need to call him back.”

It’s Yeonwu’s turn to scrunch his eyebrows, stare and turn his attention back to the TV screen.

“Yeah, I’m not doing that.”

“Yeonwu. Please listen okay, pause the show for a bit. Let’s talk.”

“I’ve done a lot of talking for the past 48 hours. Trust me, you do not want me to talk again.”

“Listen I know you’re mad that Jake didn’t ask you when he booked flight tickets for the reunion…”

“It’s not just that.”

“Yes, and I understand that he’s having a hard time understanding that you don’t want to go back to that place because…”

“It’s not the place.”

“It’s the people, I know. The people who saw Jake kiss you on your graduation day.”

“It’s embarrassing.”

“It was 10 years ago! Who cares!”

“I care! I care because, because,”

“Because?”

Yeonwu sighs.

“Listen, I agreed to it beforehand because I thought we wouldn’t have to go back to that place, ever. And also, it was just a month after I blocked my parents so I was feeling impulsive. But now that I imagine going back to that place- what if they’re thinking ‘oh that’s the guy who kissed his boyfriend in grad’ and ‘haha he’s the one with the frat boyfriend!’ and…”

“Nobody is going to think that Yeonwu.”

“Okay. So. You’re out to your colleagues and students, right?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think we think stuff like that behind your back?”

“Most of you don’t even know he was a frat.”

Silence.

Steve puts his palm over his face lets out a big sigh.

“So, it was about the frat part.”

Yeonwu looks up.

“Uh, yeah? Why would I be worried about the gay part? I’m literally out to everyone in my life. I’m married. To a man.”

“Yeo…”

The phone rings.

“Is that Jake.”

“No. Uh, a friend of a friend.”

“I can’t read Korean, but I think that’s him.”

Yeonwu sits up and reaches for the phone.

“Promise me you’re picking up.”

He grabs his phone, rejects the call and reclines back.

Call rejected.

Steve drops their face and looks at the floor.

“What?”, Yeonwu asks. “It’s not even 6 yet! I’ll go back before 8 I swear!”

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(Korean) Yeonwu

Yeonwu

Yeonwu

You’re at Steve’s right?

I dropped you there yesterday

Yeonwu

I’m sorry T.T

I just wanted to show you off to my bros

I love you

You should’ve at least come home in the morning

to get dressed for work

Are you wearing the same clothes as yesterday?

Did you go to work?

Please answer T.T

Yeonwu reads through all the messages and looks up at the ceiling. He has been lying down on this couch for two hours since he got back from work.

I really need to stop being childish and apologize.

The argument wasn’t that bad. Yes, Taehwan was a bit annoyed at the aversion towards frats but it wasn’t really the first time they had this conversation. At this point, none of their arguments was new. It was all things they noticed about each other through the 12 years they have been together and they’ve argued and reconciled countless times already.

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(Korean) “Uh, Taehwan?”

“Yes?”

“I just remembered this super important work that needs to get done immediately so I’ll have to crash at Steve’s. I’m sorry I just found out. I need to go, okay?”

“Honey I know you’re mad at me but...”

“No. I swear. It’s about this research project we’ve been working on, you know the one I’ve been telling you about? We have a deadline to catch up to regarding that so I’ll have to go.”

Silence

“Okay, I’ll turn the car around and drop you there.”

“Okay.”

Yeonwu recalls the conversation he had with Taehwan before. He wasn’t really mad when he got off the car, was he?

He has been okay with people knowing about his life for a while. Being hypersensitive, worrying about his parents finding out things or gossip weren’t topics of concern to him anymore. He was stable, confident and comfortable.

A year after graduating, he stopped caring about making mistakes while speaking English. It mattered less to him when he jumbled up his words. He eventually got a few tattoos. He started loving himself in the most natural ways possible.

It wasn’t the frat part either. Taehwan being a frat never stopped Yeonwu from being head over heels for him anyway.

It was about the memories.

The prospect of going back to that campus scared him. Going there would mean revisiting the memories of someone he left behind. It would mean seeing the church he had to visit every Sunday on the way. It would mean going back to the time where he really, really hated himself.

It would also mean revisiting the guilt he felt when he finally cut off his parents from his life.

But revisiting the campus doesn’t really have to mean all of that, does it? He could just be there with his friends and Taehwan, have food and drinks and have fun. Going back there could mean he will get to meet Alex and Esther after a very long time. He can avoid the church, right?

(English) “Hey, Prof.”

Steve arrives in the living room again, breaking Yeonwu’s string of thoughts.

Yeonwu extends his neck while still lying and looks at the guy who’s with Steve.

Yikes.

“You have a guest.”

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“Uh…”

(Korean) “Honey…”

(English) “Steve is that Taehwan?”

Taehwan turns to Steve and asks, “Has he been…”

“Not a single drop of alcohol, I swear. Just hanging around watching Netflix on TV and looking like he’s about to cry.”

Yeonwu finally realizes the embarrassing situation he’s in.

Taehwan is wearing business wear. Probably here just from work. His face shows worry.

“The show I’m watching is sad.”

“It’s Rick and Morty.”, Steve emphasises.

Taehwan walks to the tv and looks at the tv screen paused at some episode.

“Well, it’s just…”

“Listen I don’t know, okay? I’ll be in the kitchen. Just let me know when you’re done.” Steve says that and makes their way out of the room and the awkward conversation.

Awkward silence in the room ensues.

(Korean) “So…”, Taehwan says as he turns himself to face Yeonwu.

Shit.

“You sure you’re not upset?”

Yeonwu sits up with his legs bent vertically and rests his chin on his knee.

He looks at his husband looking back at him.

He taps the couch. “Come sit here.”, he says.

Taehwan approaches the couch carefully. He’s worried, confused and a teensy bit pissed off, all at the same time.

He sits down and looks at Yeonwu.

Yeonwu also faces him.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve let you know that I needed some space. And not make up some stupid excuse.”

“At least you know I didn’t believe you then at all.”

“Ouch.”

“Sorry honey, growing old together comes with special powers.”

“Gosh, we’re not even that old.”

“I mean,” Taehwan laughs. “If a stranger saw you, they would probably guess you’re 20 anyway.”

Yeonwu pinches Taehwan’s cheek.

“Owwhahaha…that hurt!”

They both look at each other. They both share a moment just gazing into each other’s eyes for a bit till Yeonwu looks away and faces frontward. Taehwan continues looking at his face.

“I just got scared. Of going back to that place.”

Taehwan gets calmer lets him continue.

“I mean there’s a lot of good things to remember of course, but I keep thinking about the last phone call I had with father there.”

“You were right there with me, remember? You were hugging me tight as I tried and failed to fight back tears.”

“I do.”

“I really don’t think I would’ve been able to do as I wished if I didn’t have you there with me. Probably would’ve been back in Seoul.”

Taehwan’s face grows softer.

“If I, have you, or even think of you, the problems don’t seem too difficult anymore.”

“Honey…”, Taehwan reaches out for Yeonwu’s hand and holds tight. “I can cancel the flight tickets if you want.”

“No. I’ll go. I’ve made my decision.”

“You don’t have to force yourself to go. It’s a stupid reunion anyway.”

“It’s not stupid. You want to meet your friends there.”

“But it’s not important.

Not as important as you.”

Yeonwu stops in his tracks.

How does this guy still manage to make him blush so hard?

“I am really sorry for not being honest, honey.”

“I accept your apology. Promise you’ll let me know from next time?”

“Promise. Promise you won’t freak out if I do?”

“I can’t promise you that, I will probably freak out a little bit. I love you, Yeonwu.”

Yeonwu cups his lover’s face. “I love you too.”

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“We don’t have to go.”

“But we are. I am texting Alex right now and he wants to show me this new mall that recently opened around his place.”

Pause.

“You’re still talking with that guy?”

Pause again.

Yeonwu looks up from his phone and glares towards the driving seat.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Taehwan struggles to find an excuse. “He’s so boring. Why would you want to be friends with him?”

“I spent so much time with him in uni Taehwan! Of course, we keep in touch!”

“It wasn’t really so much time. I would say it was a normal amount of time.”

Yeonwu rolls his eyes and laughs. “Oh my God, you are so annoying.” He says while playfully hitting his arm.

“He’s just a friend. What about your exes who are going to come? What about them?”

“Oh, you don’t know? I was planning to brag and talk about you with everybody there; even my exes.”

“And why would they care?”

“Why not? You’re a hot guy with tattoos. Of course, they’ll care!”

Both of them laugh.

The air is certainly much better now than it was in the morning.

Yeonwu doesn’t feel that self-conscious about his dirty socks anymore.

Yeonwu looks out the car window on his side. “Let’s order pasta tonight.”

Taehwan replies, “Sure.”

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(English) “By the way, Prof?”

“Yes, Mr Wu?”

“Why were you watching Rick and Morty? You hate that show right?”

Yeonwu stays quiet for a few seconds, face still away from Taehwan, focusing on the view outside the car.

“You love that stupid show. Stay up at night watching youtube theories on it.”

“Yeah but…”

“You know it is not that deep, right? You’re 35, you’ve got to know that.”

(Korean) “Oh God honey I do! But that’s not my que…”

“I missed you. So, I watched the show.”

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