A/N: And we have reached the end.
My friend, it took literally forever.
But please, enjoy this ending. And if you don't, I'll explain it to you hehehe.
And thank you to the subcribers who has subscribed and the people who have commented. I was surprised that this story got fans; thank you so much you guys.
I might just analyze this story at some point in the future so...yes! Enjoy for now!
Ni ga isseoyaman yeogiga paradise.
Eokjiro neoreul gadwo beorin paradise oh oh
The watering hole in the wall wasn’t too fancy. Hard wood floors, a bar facing the entrance near the back, and a few tables scattered through the main room; that was all the bar held to its name. Kim Sunggyu found it by chance; he followed the scent of liquor until he reached a place suited to his needs. The scent of snuffed out cigars lingered in the air. Only the sound of soothing vocals over the stereo system broke the otherwise stagnant silence. Sunggyu himself was decked out in black; black blazer, black tie, black slacks, black loafers, black eyeliner. The only thing that wasn’t black on him was his button-up shirt. Sunggyu lingered in the doorway of the small bar for a moment before sliding his hands in his pockets and strolling inside. The bartender—who was leisurely polishing a scotch glass—looked up and caught Sunggyu’s eye. He looked an awful lot like…
“Sungyeol?” Sunggyu slumped into his seat as the bartender addressed him with a smile.
“I don’t know who that is; sorry,” The young man answered. He set down the scotch glass he had been attending to and adjusted his black vest before asking, “Do you need a drink?”
Sunggyu glanced at the back wall behind the bar, his eyes taking in the array of colorful liquor bottles. He finally settled on pointing to a clear bottle filled with amber liquid, ordering, “Scotch Blue on the rocks, please.”
“No problem.” The Sungyeol doppelgänger grabbed the bottle off of the shelf and easily twisted the cap off. “My name is Sungjong, if you wanted to know.”
“Sungjong? Good to know; thank you.”
“What’s the occasion for scotch on the rocks?” Sungjong filled the square scotch glass to the brim with ice before filling it with the vice of Sunggyu’s choice.
“I just came back from a funeral,” Sunggyu replied while taking a sip of his liquor. It was bitter; he hadn’t tasted bitterness in centuries. Tasting it now, it seemed so overbearing. Sunggyu looked up and saw Sungjong staring at him, egging him on with his light brown eyes. Sunggyu murmured, “Someone very close to me got put to rest.”
“Oh? If you don’t mind a bartender asking, who got put six feet under?”
“...a girl who I cared for very much. Her name was Lee Aerin, and she used to be my everything. They found her dead two weeks ago.”
Sungjong hummed before picking up another scotch glass and his polishing rag. Sunggyu stared at Sungjong’s fingers; they were long and tipped with manicured fingernails; very pretty. Sungjong put the glass down once it was polished to his satisfaction and queried, “You seem pretty torn up about it.”
“I am. I mean…she wasn’t the nicest thing. As a matter of fact, she could be downright mean. She didn’t smile much. She didn’t like to go out, either. She just went to school and kept to herself. She only had two people she really tolerated, and they betrayed her trust. She was alone. From the time we met to the day she passed away. She was alone.”
“Hm. Pretty screwed up,” Sungjong mused with a frown on his face. “How did they betray her?”
“The two friends began to go out with one another. A guy and a girl. The guy was a ing naïve idiot; he followed his heart blindly without thinking about any consequences. That led to a lot of heartbreak. I don’t even think he realized what he was doing. The girl…she’s a doll. She has a one-track mind, but she’s beautiful, intelligent, and even-tempered. Besides her mistake in dating that lug—may he rest in peace—she’s a prize.”
“You talk about her like you’re dating her,” Sungjong commented slyly.
Sunggyu looked up at Sungjong and snarled, “I am dating her,” through his teeth. Sungjong held up his hands in a defensive gesture before moving on to polish another glass. “Why are you polishing all of your glasses now? Shouldn’t you have done that before customers came?”
“You’re the only customer in here, first of all. Secondly, it’s a bartender thing. I’ve polished these glasses three times over. My hands are just bored; cut them some slack, huh?”
“Y-yeah,” Sunggyu stammered, “Sorry.”
Sungjong rolled his eyes before smirking playfully and propping his elbows on the surface of the bar. “So, this girl that just got put to rest. How’d she go?”
“Homicide. Her jilted, abusive, possessive, obsessed of an ex-boyfriend found her and murdered her.”
Sungjong let a low whistle pass between his lips before asking, “How long were they together? The abusive guy and Aerin, I mean?”
“Yongguk killed her on their fifth month anniversary.”
“Wow…what happened to make him snap?”
“Aerin and that guy…her best friend and that impulsive lug…they carried on an affair behind Yongguk’s back. He murdered Donghae—that’s the kid, by the way—first and moved on to murder Aerin. She tried to end things with Yongguk at the end of their second month together; she really loved Donghae. But Yongguk didn’t really give a . He kept calling and texting her. He even modified his schedule at Seoul National Heart so that he shared all of his classes with her. Eventually, he started stalking her outside of school. He got too close.”
“So Aerin never told him why she wanted it to end?”
“No, and Yongguk wouldn’t leave without a reason. Aerin was afraid for her life even then; she didn’t want to tell Yongguk that she was carrying on an affair with the very boy who broke her heart in front of everyone.”
Sunggyu downed the rest of his scotch and tapped the bar with his index finger for a refill. Sungjong topped him off with precision and ease. Sunggyu watched the amber liquid conform to the shape of the glass and weave in between the clustered blocks of ice to settle at the bottom. “I wish glasses were bottomless,” Sunggyu mused before sipping the scotch again. It was still bitter, but not repulsively so like it was at the first glass.
“Glasses are bottomless; at least here, they are. I’ll keep pouring you drinks as long as you keep talking.”
Baby don’t cry, tonight,
eodumi geodhigo namyeon…
Sunggyu motioned upwards towards the wooden speakers with his index finger and inquired, “Who are these kids?”
“Huh? Playing on the stereo? Oh, that’s Exo! You haven’t heard of them; really talented group of kids. The song before? Sung by a group called Infinite. I swear, some people say Korean Pop is dead; it’s very much alive.”
“Are you on crack or something? They sound the same.”
Sungjong gasped and put his hand to his chest as if he were personally offended, exclaiming, “Are you kidding me? Exo is much more R&B and Infinite’s stuff sounds like it came out of dramas from the 80s! See; “Paradise” sounds like it should be in a 80s cop show or something.”
“Whatever,” Sunggyu drawled before letting his forehead hit the bar. The sound of glasses clashing in response to the force echoed in Sunggyu’s head and contributed to his forthcoming headache. He gripped his scotch glass in his hand. “Why couldn’t I protect her? That was my job; making sure Aerin was okay.”
“I guess you could say…I was a bodyguard of sorts. More like a bodyguard and a counselor combined.”
“Well, on one hand, as a bodyguard, you usually quit if you don’t get any pay. As a counselor, it’s the lack of money and the human experience that makes you do it. Two conflicting professions, in my opinion.”
Sunggyu buried his face in the crook of his arm, his grip on the scotch glass tightening. “I loved her…I loved her so much and love her still! So, why did I abandon Aerin and disregard the rules? I should have just been happy for her, but now…”
Sobs racked Sunggyu’s body, his shoulders heaving with the full weight of his sins and his remorse. Sungjong listened to the man’s wails as he polished his glasses. He changed the song on the stereo to try and fit the somber atmosphere. Ironically, the song “GMarket Party!” began to blast through the wooden speakers propped up on the shelves over the bar. Sungjong gnawed on his lower lip and awkwardly moved to change the song before Sunggyu could notice the change in tone in the shop. To Sungjong’s dismay, “Gee” began to play. The bartender settled for turning off the stereo and sitting in silence with a forlorn Sunggyu. The man looked tired; his under eye circles were dark and the roots of his hair had grown out…disgustingly so. Sungjong patted Sunggyu’s shoulder and filled his scotch glass once more. After a half an hour, the door to the watering hole opened, causing light to stream into the dimly lit bar and illuminate Sungjong’s face.
“Sunggyu, there you are!” An attractive brunette woman in a black dress closed the door behind her before approaching a forlorn Sunggyu at the bar. She placed both hands on his shoulders and listened to his sobs before cooing, “We should go home. I’ll make you a nice dinner.”
“I don’t want to eat, Jessica! Don’t you get it?!” Sunggyu scowled but threw his arms around Jessica’s waist. He cried into the fabric of her dress, wetting her stomach area.
“Sunggyu…let’s go home. You’re compromised right now.”
“I tried to tell him he had too much. The guy is blinded by his grief.”
Sunggyu allowed Jessica to lift him onto his feet and toss his right arm over her shoulder. Sunggyu tried to walk so that he wouldn’t put all of his weight on his fragile girlfriend. Sunggyu looked back into the bar one last time. Sungjong had gone back to polishing glasses. He was focused intently on his work; even something as mundane as polishing bottles required his full attention now that the bar was empty. Sunggyu must have been staring at Sungjong steadily through his inebriated haze. The young man stopped polishing his glass and looked up, meeting Sunggyu’s gaze. The corners of his mouth turned up into a small smile before downy white feathers began to rain down from the bar’s ceiling. Sunggyu could have sworn that a pair of large angel wings as white as snow burst from Sungjong’s back before the entrance to the bar slammed shut. Sunggyu reached out for the doorknob, but Jessica ushered his inebriated form into the front seat of her Acura. Her eyes settled on the road in front of her as she put the car in drive.
“D…D-did you see that,” Sunggyu slurred while wiping his eyes.
“I didn’t see a thing. You’re drunk; wait until you have your senses before you talk needlessly.”
Jessica’s jaw was set and her hands gripped the steering wheel tightly. Sunggyu merely shrugged before letting his head loll back against the headrest of the passenger seat. Perhaps Jessica didn’t see it, but Sunggyu knew angel feathers when he saw them. But what kind of angel worked in a bar?
• • • • •
Regardless of his protests towards eating, Jessica slaved over a hot stove and produced a delicious dinner for Sunggyu anyway. He only ate a bite or two before he pushed the food away and retired to Jessica’s bedroom. The girl lived alone in a single bedroom apartment; her parents moved across the sea to live in the United States. Jessica’s father procured a position at a large oil refinery and her mother went to pursue her career as a psychiatrist. Jessica had enough money to support herself and so she did. Sunggyu respected Jessica for her determination and strength. It took a certain young woman to go off on her own and challenge the world without any parental guidance.
Sunggyu opened the door to Jessica’s room and leaned against the frame of the doorway, loosening his tie while he scrutinized the room through the inebriated haze that clouded his vision. Jessica didn’t decorate a lot; she had a walk-in closet at the far right of the room. Her queen sized bed with white linen was in the middle, and a vanity was at the far left right below a window. A full-body mirror was tacked onto the closet door. Sunggyu…was really tired of seeing those ing things.
Regardless of what Aerin ever thought, Sunggyu was watching her. Whenever she would go out with Donghae or Yongguk or even just go out and walk by herself, he would enter her room. He would bury his face in her bed sheets and take deep breaths just to memorize her scent. He would just lay there for hours until he heard Aerin’s footsteps on the stairs. Sunggyu would flee in fear of Aerin seeing him. He betrayed her trust, after all. Sunggyu couldn’t leave Jessica. However, his love for Aerin transcended any fleeting emotions he had for Jessica. He was stuck with her.
Sunggyu tossed his tie aside and shrugged his blazer off of his shoulders. He ed his shirt and laid down on Jessica’s bed. He stared upwards at the ceiling and saw a plethora of pictures plastered above him: pictures of Jessica and the eight girls who she called her sisters; she wrote GG on each of those pictures. Pictures of Donghae were scattered amongst pictures of Jessica’s parents and Aerin. Jessica really did love Donghae. She also seemed to hold Aerin in some high esteem; pictures of the steely brunette and Jessica were almost as frequent as the pictures of Donghae. Relationships were very important to Jessica; Sunggyu knew that just by talking to her and reading the log.
The last time Sunggyu looked at the log, Jessica only rewrote the names of her eight best friends inside and crossed out Yongguk’s name along with the names of his friends. She also wrote Donghae’s name inside of the notebook just to cross it out while giving the entry a specific set of directions: “Make Aerin happy again. Be with her.” Sunggyu warned Jessica about how obsessive tendencies developed if a name was crossed out in the notebook. Sunggyu remembered Jessica’s smile when she told him, “Aerin will be okay. She’s a strong girl.”
Apparently not, Sunggyu thought as he to his left side. His little black notebook sat atop of the Log that Jessica hadn’t touched since writing down those fifteen names. The little notebook was empty; heaven’s way of telling Sunggyu that he failed and that he would have no other memories of Aerin other than seeing her casket lowered into a six foot deep hole in the earth dug up by her father. He would be able to remember the exact moment when Aerin’s story faded from his pages. He wouldn’t remember the days when they sat on her bed and talked about the pitfalls and advantages of love. He wouldn’t remember the day when she and Lee Donghae met. He wouldn’t remember the moment when he fell in love with Aerin. He would only remember her death. Sunggyu didn’t want to live with that memory.
Sunggyu pocketed the tiny black book; he would burn it later when Jessica went to sleep. He lifted the log and opened it to the next available page. It looked like Jessica had ripped out a couple of pages. Sunggyu rubbed his eyes and yawned before scanning over the names. There were the fifteen names that Jessica wrote down…and then there was his name. In reverse. Did Jessica ing know what she did?! Sunggyu stood up so fast that he got dizzy. His rage superseded his slight weariness.
“JESSICA,” Sunggyu roared.
“No need to yell.” Jessica walked into the room clad in her black lace underwear set. She gathered her dress up from the floor and stepped into the room.
“What did you do,” Sunggyu grabbed Jessica’s shoulders and pulled her towards him, his puffy red eyes glaring directly into hers. “You wrote my name?! Do you want to murder me, too?!” Sunggyu pushed Jessica away from him and threw the Log onto the floor. By this point, Jessica had begun to cry. She let her head hang as her tears fell onto the ground at her feet. “Aerin, Donghae, and Yongguk weren’t enough for you?! You just have to ing end me, too, don’t you? You spiteful !”
Jessica gnawed at her lower lip before looking up at Sunggyu with tear-filled eyes. She inhaled through before tearfully whispering, “I’m so sorry, Sunggyu.”
“Jessica, why do you want to kill me? Don’t you love me? What did I do to you?”
“I prayed to Sungyeol and asked him what I should do. He told me to write your name in reverse. The change would be gradual, but you would become a human being. That would release you from the clutches of the Log. You could be human and love whoever you wanted. It was the best I could do…I just wanted to apologize to you and that seemed like the best way!” Sunggyu stared at Jessica and slowly turned to stare at himself in the full-body mirror. He had dark circles…his roots grew out…he looked so dull…and the taste of liquor still lingered in his mouth.
Human. It actually felt like something.
“…Jessica, why did you do that?”
“Because…I’m alone. I have my friends but no love. I lost my true one and I just want you to stay!”
“Jessica, Aerin is dead. I’ve been with that girl since she was a baby. I knew I would outlive her, but I never wanted her to die so early! I wanted to be with her until she and Donghae grew old and died together with like fifty ing grandkids! Heaven erased her from this,” Sunggyu pulled out the small black book and tossed it onto the bed, “And now I only have about eighty years to try to remember the love of my life?! At least as a Cupid, I would get another person to love so that I wouldn’t have to stare at blank pages every single day of my ing immortal life!” Sunggyu’s voice rose to a quivering shriek as he beat upon the night table with his fist. Jessica flinched but made no motion to calm him down; she was sobbing too hard. “Jessica, why would you do that to me?
“I just wanted us to be happy! I really love you!”
“Condition number nine: a Cupid will not fall in love with the owner of the notebook.” Sunggyu sighed and shook his head before stepping out of Jessica’s apartment. He stood in the doorway and stared out into the hallway before yelling, “Write my name the right way, Jessica! Give me a break, damn it. I just pray to god it’s not too late for me to die of heartbreak.”
Jessica, at one point in their time together, made Sunggyu feel secure with his emotions. He felt comfortable having strong romantic feelings for a human. The two ate, drank, and did nearly everything together like a real couple. However, the intense pain rending Sunggyu’s heart in half clearly told him that he could never be a human being. He could never truly love Jessica. Even though Aerin had been cold and a bit rude, she was still witty and she had her sweet moments. Those moments were what Sunggyu started living for. If Aerin were still alive, he would have traded anything for a human life. He would have tried his damnedest to take Aerin from Donghae. Even if he couldn’t, he would be happy seeing her happy. He would watch her walk into Donghae’s arms on her wedding day with a smile. He would be the godfather of their children. He would…just be happy being with Aerin. I have no chance of that now.
A temperate breeze snapped Sunggyu out of his reverie. He was on the roof of the apartment building. There were a few chairs and potted plants scattered here and there, but the flat space was ultimately empty. Sunggyu walked to the edge of the roof and sat down, tossing his legs over the edge. It felt right; his feet just dangling in open air and the spring breeze weaving through his hair. He grinned and leaned forward, placing his left hand on his knee. The night felt nice and the sky looked so inviting. Sunggyu gripped at his heart with his right hand; it felt like it was going to split in half at any moment. Did Jessica write his name correctly? Thank god she did something right…I hope she finds happiness.
White feathers began to fall like snow from the sky. An ethereal glow illuminated and warmed Sunggyu’s rapidly cooling body. The Cupid looked to his left and saw Sungjong from the bar sitting beside him. The male smiled at Sunggyu and placed his hand on the heartbroken Cupid’s back.
“So, you’re about to go?” Sunggyu smiled at Sungjong and nodded. “Ah…you’re human a tiny bit, though. I wonder if you’ll just fall on the ground and die.”
“Either way is better at this point. Heartbreak ing hurts.”
“No way,” Sungjong sarcastically commented.
“I have a question for you. Is your name really Sungjong? Or are you a Cupid like me?”
The bartender shrugged and answered, “Jessica needs a friend. And even though Sungyeol is gone, I’m determined to carry on his work. Sungyeol couldn’t get Donghae to love Jessica no matter how much he tried. He broke his own heart. Jessica eventually won Donghae over on her own. But…there you were, right?” Sunggyu and Sungjong laughed before the latter Cupid smiled and said, “Have a good trip, Sunggyu. May the wind be beneath your wings.”
With a light shove from Sungjong, Sunggyu fell off of the apartment’s roof and careened towards the ground floor below. Even if his wings didn’t unfurl…even if he hit the ground and died…Sunggyu would have no regrets. Aerin…I love you so much. I wish I could be where you are.
Sunggyu felt a familiar tugging at his back as his wings suddenly unfurled and carried him up towards the heavens. Sunggyu passed Sungjong on the way up into the stars and waved to him. Sungjong grinned and waved back in in return. White wings fell upon the apartment building’s roof and carpeted it in a sheet of downy white.
God, give me another chance. I’m coming home…