The day seemed to go by at a hellishly slow pace. I knew that this should be a good thing. I should be enjoying being with Kibum. Though, I spent my time watching him play like the child I remember with his band mates. As I did, I kept having flashbacks and seeing him as his younger self only to realize that he was a grown man now. A grown man with a magnificent life to carry on with. The sun was beginning to set on the horizon, reflecting a beautiful orange glow off of the ocean water.
Kibum called me out to him and I stood groggily and walked clumsily towards where he stood, the heels of my shoes sinking into the sand with every step. He grabbing me by my hands as I stumbled closer. His grip tightened as I almost tripped. I cocked my head at him, “what is it?” I saw a devious smirk appear on his face and felt my eye widen. “Kibum, don’t you dare.” He laughed evily, “Don’t what? I’m not going to do anything.” Then, I felt a pair of strong arms wrap around my stomach and Key let go of my hands as I was lifted and carried out into the waves.
I whipped my head around to see Jonghyun, laughing as he threw me into the tide. My entire body was instantly soaked by cold water and I gasped with shock. “You suck!” I said playfully. I brought myself to my knees, unable to stand in the wet sand, and crawled to shore. “Nope,” Kibum said, gripping my ankle and pulling me back to him, who was now standing in the water. Jinki, Taemin, and Minho came running across the beach to meet us. They ran straight into the water, splashing me as they did so.
“This is for all those times you beat me at chicken at the park,” Kibum laughed and I glared daggers at him and splashed him. “At least you weren’t wearing expensive shoes,” I grumbled. Suddenly, I saw a spark in his eyes that he tried to conceal. “Well, then take them off,” he spoke and he pushed me down in the water and grabbed my ankle, pulling off one shoe. I was yelling and spitting out mouthfuls of water as he did so. He grabbed my other ankle and yanked the other shoe off, throwing it back to shore.
He finally let me go and I found myself sitting, mostly submerged in water, staring up at a sickeningly satisfied Kibum. He laughed at me and put his hand out to help me back up. I snubbed it with a twisted expression, “I don’t trust you. I can get up,” I growled. “What? You don’t trust me? Since when?” He said, sounding hurt. Sighing, I rolled my eyes and took his hand and felt him yank me up, only to let go of my grip as I was half way up. I crashed back down, causing a big splash as I did so. I clumsily picked myself up out of the water and pushed him with all of the strength I could muster and watched as he toppled over into the sea water. I laughed, satisfied with what I’d done.
He shook his head as he resurfaced, water sprinkling from his hair onto my already drenched face. I could hear the other boys laughing at the whole scene. With a smirk, I offered my hand to him. He immediately took it and, without warning, yanked me hard towards him. I fell back down, bumping heads with him. He laughed as he grabbed me around the waist, holding me tightly as he exclaimed, “Get her! Splash her!” The other boys rushed over, flinging water at me. Though I was frustrated because my makeup was running down my face, my hair was ruined, and my clothes were soaked, I couldn’t help but laugh.
Tired and out of breath, we all retreated back to shore to watch the sun set over the ocean. As if we were old friends, I took Jinkis hand on one side and Kibum on the other. The others joined hands and we stood just barely out of reach of the tide. We were all dripping from head to toe, but I felt strangely content and happy now. As if forgetting what I was doing, I opened my mouth to speak, “ I’m glad you all took time out of your busy schedule to visit with me. I greatly missed my old friend Kibum. When you all leave, I only ask that you take good care of him like he did for me while he was here. I hope to see you all again someday.” I felt a slight squeeze from Jinki and he turned and gave a smile.
I took a deep, shaky breath and let go of the boys’ hands. “Well, I guess it must be time for you to get going,” I said to Kibum, “I’ll walk you to the car.” Jonghyun spoke up, “A car will be picking us up just right up here on the main street here in a few minutes.” I nodded grimly and picked my shoes up off the sand and turned to walk towards the sidewalk. Kibum caught up to me quickly, the others splitting off to walk just a few paces in front of us. “So, you do speak Korean. I wasn’t going crazy. When did you learn?” He asked, curious. “A long time ago. I used to have a friend that I cared a lot for and I wanted to be able to speak with him in his own language,” I replied, smirking slightly.
“That friend was me, right?” He asked, his ego coming through. I nodded with a laugh, “Yes, Kibum. It was you.” He seemed to walk with more bounce in his step after hearing this statement. I looked down, seeing the brightly colored bracelet still on my wrist. I saw the others stop as a car pulled up to the curb. Kibum turned to say his goodbye. Thinking fast, I closed the car door and stepped into his path, stopping him. “Kibum,” I said, “before you go…” I quickly unclasped the bracelet and hurriedly put it on his wrist.
“I want you to keep this,” I said, preparing to hold back tears, “I want you to take it and let it remind you that I’m still here.” He scoffed, “I know you’re here, Andy.” I shook my head, swallowing the lump in my throat. “No,” I started, “you don’t understand.” As I finished my statement, he seemed taken aback. “Since you’ve been here,” I continued, “I’ve reflected on our times together when we were kids and I see you now and, even though I still see that little boy, I also see a grown up man with a career and a life to live. I want you to get everything that you want in life and I want you to be happy. I don’t want you to have any worries in your mind…including worry about me.”
He didn’t say anything, only stared down at the bracelet that had taken its place on his wrist. “I love you, Kibum. More than I can tell you. You mean a lot to me, and that’s why I’m letting go of you. I’m only holding you back by being a worry on your mind. I am greatly indebted to you and I will forever owe you for everything you’ve done for me.” Quickly and without second thought, I stood on my tip toes and kissed his lips softly, a single traitor tear making its way down my cheek and staining his. He hugged me tightly, “Andy, I love you too and I missed you. I don’t like that you feel this way—“ I cut him off, “No. Just go.”
“If you ever change your mind—“
“I said go, Kibum,” I stated, forcing myself to sound frustrated.
I pushed myself away from him and started to walk away. After a long moment, I heard the car door open and then slam shut. I watched as it drove away, feeling as though Kibum was staring back at me through the windshield. I waited until the car was long out of sight before I let myself break down. It’s for his own good. I just had to keep telling myself that.
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