Chapter Eleven - Return
JONGIN STOOD IN front of her door, his fist posed in front of the wood. It was Christmas day and it had been almost nine full months since he had been home. He’d gotten home late the previous night and the only thing on his mind was getting something in his empty stomach and then getting into bed. Even though his mother and his sisters wanted to talk to him and catch up, they knew that all he needed was sleep.
The next morning, Christmas, Jongin had been conscious all of three minutes before he was outside and in front of her door. He hadn’t bothered to change out of his PJs and he barely remembered to put on shoes. He hadn’t spoken to her in just over a year and he thought that it was time to put away his pride and talk to his best friend. Jongin longed to see her, to hear her voice, to touch her and to hold her close. Even after all this time, she was his everything.
Gently he tapped the door with his fist and waited. For a long couple of minutes, there was no response so he tried again, harder this time. Jongin’s ears perked up when the sounds of muttering and silverware being clanked together met his ears. The dancer cleared his throat and stood up straight. His hands instinctively moved to his hair and he quickly ran his fingers through it a few times to see if his bed head would tame.
The doorknob rattled and Jongin’s breath caught in his throat. Ha Kyung, Seo Kyung’s older sister opened the door and started to ask who it was so early on Christmas morning, but the words got lost on her tongue. Instead, she whispered his name and he nodded. Ha Kyung wordlessly pulled him down for a hug and she asked when he had gotten so tall. He laughed and hugged her back. Ha Kyung dragged him inside, calling out to her sisters that they would never believe who had walked right through the door. Ae Kyung and Eun Kyung rose to their feet and embraced Jongin, squealing in excitement but someone was missing.
“Where’s Seo Kyung?” Jongin asked, looking around the room.
“Naturally.” Eun Kyung laughed, nudging her older sisters. “He’s been here less than a minute and he’s already asking for her.”
“Seo Kyung is at the hosp-” Ae Kyung started to speak, but Ha Kyung glared daggers and the younger girl quieted.
“Seo Kyung and Mom are out. Our grandmother came into town so Seo Kyung and Mom went to get her. We don’t know when they’ll be back, but it won’t be soon.” Ha Kyung explained, only bending the truth a little so Jongin wouldn’t be worried.
“Oh...” Jongin trailed off.
“Are you hungry?” Ae Kyung offered but Jongin shook his head.
“Mom is making pancakes.” Jongin explained, but he had lost his appetite. “Would... would she want to see me?”
“Of course she would, I’m sure.” Ha Kyung nodded and a lightbulb went off in her head. “Jongin-ah, when she comes home tonight do you want to surprise her?”
“Yeah!” the other two sisters exclaimed.
“She would love to see you and it would be such a surprise for her to see you on Christmas, don’t you think?” Ha Kyung’s smile was so big, her eyes practically disappeared. Jongin had missed her eye-smile and to finally see it again after so long was like a breath of air, but he was sure it would be nothing compared to seeing Seo Kyung again. One more day of waiting.
JONGIN STOOD OUTSIDE the door and waited. The door was slightly ajar so he could enter when he heard his cue. Light was streaming outside and onto his face, just enough so he could see. He heard the sisters inside finishing up dinner and preparing to open gifts. They all sat around the tree waiting for the okay to open things, but it seemed one of the sisters had to use the restroom. Only moments later, Ha Kyung peered out the door to make sure Jongin was still there and to give him a thumbs up.
“Okay, are we ready?” Ha Kyung’s loud voice echoed through the room. The tearing of wrapping paper filled Jongin’s ears along with cries of delight, some of which were unmistakably Seo Kyung. His ears perked up when he heard her voice and right on cue his heart began to race.
“Seo Kyung.” Ae Kyung spoke. “Isn’t this your first Christmas without... Jongin?”
“Yah, don’t bring it up.” Eun Kyung muttered.
“It’s okay.” Seo Kyung’s voice floated through the air and Jongin sighed in relief. Her voice was like air after having been suffocated to an inch of his life. “Yeah, it is.”
“Do you miss him?” Ha Kyung inquired and Jongin put his hand on the doorknob. His cue was on it’s way.
“Of course I do.” Seo Kyung sighed. As quietly as possible, Jongin opened the door and stepped inside.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to at least see him again?” Ha Kyung saw him enter and grinned.
“No.” Seo Kyung spoke to her lap and Jongin stopped in his tracks and the smiles faded from the sister’s faces. She sat facing away from him so all Jongin could see was her black hair that was up in a ponytail while she hugged a stuffed puppy that Ae Kyung had given her not five minutes before.
“Why?” Ae Kyung was scared to ask.
“Because.” the younger girl shrugged. “He made his decision. He doesn’t want to see me, talk to me, or even be associated with me. Jongin decided to walk out of my life. Jongin decided to end our friendship. We’re not friends anymore, so why would he want to see me? I certainly don’t want to see him.”
Seo Kyung’s foot made contact with his gut and all of the air rushed out of his lungs. The suffocating was back. He tried to breathe in to no avail. The three sisters looked from Seo Kyung to Jongin and back. Ha Kyung wanted nothing more than to get up and hug Jongin, whose face had been drained of all color. However, she didn’t have a chance to move before Jongin turned and ran out of the apartment without a second thought.
Seo Kyung was right. He had ended their friendship and he had chosen to leave. Everything was his fault. She blamed him for ending everything and she was more than right to. She didn’t want to see him, so he would follow her wishes. Jongin wouldn’t try to see her ever again.
“WHEN CAN I see you again?” Jongin insisted on taking me all the way home, right up to the door. His argument was that he didn’t want to have me walking alone in the dark looking the way I did. I assume that meant that he thought I was hot, which I took as a good sign. Jongin took me all the way to the door of my apartment and we stopped to look outside. The sky was beginning to slowly lighten. I hadn’t realized we had been out so late.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” A smile crept onto my lips. “After all, aren’t you the global superstar who never gets any time off?”
“Yeah.” Jongin laughed, his cheeks burning red. “But really. Are you free tomorrow night? Well, tonight I guess.”
“So soon? You have my new number so you could just-”
“I missed you.” he shrugged, that bright smile still plastered on his lips.
“I don’t have any plans tomorrow. Tonight, I mean.” I agreed.
“So... I’ll pick you up around seven? Right here.” Jongin’s eyes sparkled with hope. “We’ll go to dinner and then the Han River.”
“That sounds lovely, Jongin. But... isn’t the Han River a little too romantic? We’re friends aren’t we-” Jongin cut me off by closing the space between us almost completely, bending over slightly to look me in the eye.
“You really think that way?” Jongin tilted his head playfully and I gulped heavily to see if I could stop the pounding in my ears. “I can hear your heartbeat from here.”
“J-Jongin-ah, y-you shouldn’t be doing this.”
In one swift movement, my best friend closed the space between us and pressed his plump lips against the soft skin of my cheek. Heat rose into my cheeks again and I moved to pull away to hide my face in embarrassment. Instead, Jongin pulled me closer into a hug. His lips left my cheek, leaving a burning mark in his wake. He wrapped his arms around me and held me against his body as if he would never see me again. At that thought, I reached up and embraced him as well, holding him and telling him with my body that I never wanted to see him go. When he squeezed, I was certain I would be seeing him again. And again and again until the end of time.
I would see Jongin tonight, that I was sure of.
“WHERE ARE you going all dolled up like this?” Ha Kyung sat back on my bed as she watched me apply a light coat of makeup. I was doing my best to keep it natural but I had a few blemishes that I would have rather not have Jongin see.
“Dinner with a friend.” I smiled at my older sister in the mirror as I applied some blush. “Are you sure Mom is okay with me skipping out on dinner this evening?”
“Of course! She said we don’t have to come every day, it’s our choice anyway.”
“Good.” I breathed out. “I wouldn’t want to burden her or my friend with changed plans.”
“Who is this friend you’ve been talking about all day? You said you met them last night at work and talked to them a while. So, are you going to tell me more?” Ha Kyung inquired. I closed my blush and set it aside. “Ah, put some more blush on. I can barely see it.”
“Oh, thank you.” I picked up my blush again and went to work. “I don’t know if you’d be too thrilled about who I’m meeting, though.”
“Oh really, why?” Ha Kyung praised my blush so I moved on to eyeshadow.
“You see...” I trailed off for a moment. “Unni, I’m meeting Jongin.”
To my surprise, her eyes lit up and she sat forward. I was beyond certain that my sister would resent Jongin for leaving and hurting me the way he did. Certainly all of my sisters would hate him the way I did, but from the look in Ha Kyung’s eyes, that wasn’t the case.
“Really?” Ha Kyung exclaimed, “You’re really going to see him?”
“Um, yeah. He’s really busy but he insisted on catching up tonight.” I explained.
“Isn’t he an idol now?” Ha Kyung mused. She stood and ventured over to me as I carefully applied my eyeliner. “Wow, you get done quickly.”
“Part of the job.” I shrugged. “But yes, Jongin is an idol now. He’s in that band Exo that kind of took over the world a few years ago.”
“Ahh.” Ha Kyung waited until my eyeliner was fully applied before running her hands through my wavy black hair a few times. “I guess he’s pretty famous now. Hand me your hairbrush.”
“He is. His stage name is Kai. That’s pretty y, isn’t it?” I grinned. Ha Kyung ran the brush through my hair a few times.
“That is pretty y, but he’s a little young for me.” My older sister grinned and she pulled my hair back.
“Yeah...” I trailed off. I uncapped a pencil so I could draw on my eyebrows.
“Are you excited? He’s your best friend, isn’t he?” Ha Kyung inquired.
“Of course I am.”
Excited, yes. Jumping for joy, no. There was still so much to talk about, to discuss, to clear up. Jongin was still my ex-best friend. Even though he made my heart flutter like no other and often times I forgot what I was originally going to say to him, I had to get over it tonight. I had to get my thoughts out so that they were somewhat coherent before Jongin smiled and jumbled up all the words in my brain. Ha Kyung continued to pull at my hair, twisting and braiding it. Her pulling on my hair made it a little more difficult to work on my eyebrows.
“When are you meeting him?” Ha Kyung inquired, reaching around me for a clear rubber band to secure my hair in place.
“He’ll be here to pick me up in...” I reached for my phone to checked the time. “About half an hour.”
“He’s coming here?” Ha Kyung exclaimed. She was finally finished with my hair and she raced towards the door.
“That’s what he said.” I nodded. Ha Kyung beamed and cried something about sweets before vanishing somewhere in the apartment. I laughed when a huge crash came from the kitchen, shaking the floor and making the mirror vibrate. Ha Kyung called to be about being okay before continuing to mess about in the kitchen.
By the time I finished my eyebrows, I had fifteen minutes before Jongin was supposed to show up at my door. All I had left to do was pick the perfect lipstick shade but nothing was appealing to me today. Against the thick appearance of my makeup, my lips looked thin and pale and I needed something to liven them up. I tried a brown, a pink, an orange and a bright red but nothing worked. I tried the pink again, darkening it with a touch of lipgloss. Just as I applied the last bit of gloss a knock sounded at the door and I jumped to my feet, nearly knocking over my chair. I hurried through the apartment and pulled open the door.
Jongin stood outside with his hands in his pockets and a bright smile on his face. He was dressed in a nicely tailored suit with a red tie around his neck. He had the hair of a Disney prince, parted off to the side and swept over. He was stunning to say the least. He could have been a prince with the way he smiled brightly, stood with his broad shoulders back and swept his hand through his perfect hair. Jongin looked me up and down with a grin on his face and once again, my cheeks flared up a bright red.
“Jongin-ah, is that you?” my sister called from the other room.
“Yes, noona, it’s me!” Jongin didn’t take his eyes off of me as he spoke. “I think we’re going to head out. I don’t know when Seo Kyung will be home so don’t wait up!”
“Jongin wait-” Jongin wasted no time in grabbing my hand and pulling me along, letting the door slide shut behind us.
“Hey, my sister was so excited to see you-”
He cut me off by pulling down the stairs of the apartment complex and pushing me against one of the cold stone walls. He cornered me against the wall with his hands on either side of my head, bending over to look me in the eye. Jongin’s dark eyes were twinkling playfully and his lips curved up in a smirk. His eyes kept flicking to my lips and back up to my eyes. I tried to move away but Jongin’s hand grabbed my shoulder and roughly pushed me back against the wall.
“Ah! Jongin, what are you-” Jongin tilted his head and moved his lips closer to mine. My heartbeat flickered and my chest got heavier as my heart kept beating faster and faster.
“Seo Kyung-ah.” Jongin whispered against my ear, his lips grazing the skin. “Do you even know what you do to me?”
“You don’t, do you? Even after all this time, how do you make me feel this way?” Jongin’s raspy voice made my knees quiver and he moved his arm around my waist to keep me standing. When I tried to back away, his grip tightened to keep my body flush against his. “I don’t usually act this way but you... you bring this out of me somehow. It was so hard to keep my hands off of you yesterday, you looked so beautiful. You look beautiful now.”
“Wh-what are you saying? I...” I had no response to his sudden words. His lips grazed over my skin and my blood roared in my ears and the veins in my neck throbbed where Jongin’s lips hovered. My hands rested on his shoulders and they couldn’t seem to decide if they should push him away or not.
“Seo Kyung, I’m saying that I can’t wait another day for you.” His knee slid between my legs, forcing them apart slightly. My stomach warmed in the most pleasurable way. My grip on his shoulders tightened and a sigh escaped my air-deprived lungs. “I’m not going to wait any longer to call you mine. I want to be yours and yours only. I’ve waited too long to say these things. To tell you how I really feel. To show you how I really feel. I need to-”
Someone coughed. My stomach growled. Jongin’s movements faltered. He pulled away from me, dropping his hands and stepping away. I looked towards the coughing and if I could have shriveled up and slunk into the darkness, I would have. My sister, Ae Kyung, stood on the landing below Jongin and I, trying to hide her face. There was an undeniable smile on her face, as her eyes crinkled up the way Mom’s did when she overheard something she shouldn’t have.
“Oh, noona.” Jongin winced.
“Excuse me.” Ae Kyung muttered as she started up the stairs and slipped past Jongin and I. I watched as she hurried up the stairs and down the hall. As soon as she opened the apartment door, she was calling for Ha Kyung with “big news.”
“I’m hungry, are you hungry?” Jongin’s playful eyes were back and he grabbed my hand.
“Starving.” I nodded.
Jongin and I ran hand in hand down the stairs, hoping that my sisters weren’t going to follow. Jongin’s childish grin was plastered on his lips as we burst out the door and across the parking lot where a taxi was waiting. Even from the parking lot, I could practically hear the laughter and delighted screams from my sisters. Jongin opened the car door for me and I got in. He wasn’t far behind.
Jongin leaned up to whisper something to the driver, who smiled knowingly. As soon as the cab was off to Jongin’s desired destination, he leaned over to me and whispered in my ear.
“I’m not done with you yet.”