It’s already December, the last month of the year in Seoul, the chilly air mixed with droplets of South Korea’s first snow covered Leeteuk’s hair and coat as he strolled around the busy streets of Myeong-dong. He stops in front of a very familiar, an achingly familiar restaurant. It looks busy from the outside, the place is buzzing with customers as they order different kinds of dishes, newly customers lined outside, dressed in heavy trench coats, while puffing air as they feel the cold breeze blowing on their uncovered skins.
Leeteuk contemplated whether to go inside or just head straight back in his home, in the confinement of his 5-star condominium unit overseeing the sunrise at Han River, and the river itself, with his beloved maltese dog, whom he had for almost 6 years now. The dog, whom he considered as his daughter now. The dog that he gifted to Leeteuk when they celebrated their fourth and, unfortunately, their last anniversary.
Leeteuk shook those thoughts about him. He tried his best not to think of him, well, it’s been 5 years ever since they last saw and talked to each other, ever since Heechul just left Leeteuk without a word, without a proper reason. The restaurant in front of him was where he and Heechul met the first time, Heechul was a part-timer there, Leeteuk, a regular customer. Cliche as it looks like but Leeteuk swore that he fell in love at first sight with Heechul, and the rest is history.
Leeteuk then decided to just go home, he doesn’t want anything that will remind Leeteuk of Heechul, he’s happy and contented now, it took years before he finally moved on, more on he finally convinced himself to move on and forget about him. He walked again after standing in front of the restaurant for a good 5 minutes, he went straight to the nearest bus stop. He didn’t bring his car to enjoy the first snow in Seoul, though he feels uncomfortable and slightly envious because of the couples surrounding him engaging in public displays of affection. He’s almost 35 years old now, he’s financially stable but he somehow still feels lonely, of course everyone around him thought that by the age of 30 he’s going to settle down and have a family, but sadly that’s not it.
He took his cellphone out to check emails and social media while heading straight to the next bus stop, he realized that he missed a stop near the restaurant so instead of going back he’s just going to the next stop. It’s still a 10 minute walk, he walked past the soju and korean snack bars. He can’t help but to be amazed by how many people are outside, it was so crowded and he somehow feels suffocated by the amount of people around him, so he jogged until there were less people around him. He put his phone back inside his coat’s pocket and blew air out of his mouth, he kicked some random stones on the ground when he suddenly noticed that there’s a wallet, he immediately picked it up, afraid that there’ll be some random stranger that will steal it. He looked around but no one seemed to own the wallet, it’s a maroon leather wallet, so he opened it, he picked up an identification card, with a name written in english alphabet, someone bumped him from behind.
“I’m sorry!” The stranger apologized, “Shit! Where the fucking hell is my wallet?!” Leeteuk heard the man cussed behind his mask. He then realized that maybe it;s the owner of the wallet he found.
“Uh.. perhaps this is the wallet you are looking for?” Leeteuk asked, showing the stranger the maroon colored leather wallet. The stranger looked up from the ground to Leeteuk’s hands who were holding the wallet, Leeteuk swore that the eyes are so familiar,but he can’t pinpoint whose eyes, the stranger is wearing a mask and glasses. Then, the stranger, or man finally looked up and he met Leeteuk’s eyes, “Oh no… God, please no…”
“Jungsoo??" The stranger asked, he fixed his hair, and removed the mask he was wearing, there stood in front of Leeteuk, the man he had not seen or talked to for the last 5 years, the man he wished he wouldn’t see again, Leeteuk froze.
“Heechul.” Leeteuk’s voice was stern and it’s as if he couldn’t talk properly, he swallowed the lump inside his throat. He saw how Heechul’s face lit up, he showed his infamous gummy smile, ‘Fuck’ Leeteuk cursed in his mind, It was the smile that made Leeteuk’s knees to soften, it was the smile he used to see everyday for solid 4 years.
“It’s been so long! How… How are you?” Heechul asked, he realized that Leeteuk was handing his wallet, “Oh! Thank you for this! I was seriously about to go insane, all my cards are here. Thank you Jungsoo!” Heechul added, Leeteuk was already frozen on his spot, but as soon as Heechul used Leeteuk’s old name, only Heechul uses that even though his close friends, even his family members have decided to address him as ‘Leeteuk’.
“I’m fine…” Leeteuk driedly answered, he’s cursing himself why is he malfunctioning? For God’s sake he’s a national TV announcer but he stutters so much right now. “Actually, I’m Leeteuk, I legally changed my name years ago, so uhm I would really appreciate it if you address me as Leeteuk now.” He cleared, there was a look of shock in Heechul’s face but immediately changed from apologetic.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to.” Heechul apologized, “Ah, right, you’re a national tv announcer now right? I’m really sorry, Leeteuk.” Leeteuk just simply smiled muttering a soft ‘It’s Okay.’ Leeteuk wants to leave now, the longer he is with Heechul, the more his mind and heart recalls unwanted memories he tried so hard to forget and bury.
“I’m really sorry! Uhm… If you’re not busy, We should catch up? My treat since you found my wallet and I just came back here not too long ago.” Heechul suggested. Leeteuk’s mind was screaming to decline the offer, he shouldn’t be with his ex! Especially if they didn’t end up on good terms, now Heechul’s here acting as if nothing happened between them, they were lovers! He and the man standing in front of him almost got engaged. But his heart, his poor heart who still yearns for the man, still yearns even if it’s just a simple explanation on why Heechul left him, why Heechul decided to end things without talking it through, why Heechul just decided to give up, they swore that both of them won’t give up, they managed to fight for their relationship in Korea even though the country’s homophobic as fuck. Just what the hell happened, that, Leeteuk wanted to know.
So he agreed. Leeteuk agreed to ‘catch up’ with Heechul, his former lover, his former world, his former sanctuary. If his friends knew anything about this he’s sure that he’s gonna get the hell out of them, besides this won’t have any meaning, they’re gonna just talk, catch up and eventually if Heechul decided to explain himself, Leetuk will finally have answers for the questions that were for years, left unanswered.
They went to the nearest cafe in the area, luckily they offer a private room there, since the cafe is full with people, they immediately settled once they were given the private room, Heechul was wearing a blue suit partnered with a turtle neck inside his coat, meanwhile Leeteuk was wearing a simple striped suit with white dress shirt inside. Leeteuk thought that Heechul looked so stunning as ever, he didn’t even age, Leeteuk remembered Heechul’s face, it’s been the same ever since they first met.
“I actually didn’t expect or think that I’ll bump into you, you know…” Heechul spoke, a conversation starter, they’re seated across to each other, waiting for their drinks. “I mean Seoul is really big. I don’t even go out a lot. It's just that I had a meeting earlier and I decided to shop for christmas gifts and then I lost my wallet.” He laughed, trying to ease the tensioned atmosphere surrounding them. Leeteuk sat comfortably, chuckling. It's the same old Heechul, he’s always been careless. Leeteuk remembers those times where Heechul would lose and forgot something because he’s so careless, he doesn’t think of his actions that much, that’s why him and Leeteuk are a great combination, Leeteuk’s there to balance him.
“You’re still careless even after all these years.” Leeteuk commented, before Heechul could say something, a waiter knocked, placing their orders. Heechul doesn’t like coffee that much so He just ordered a simple fruit drink, meanwhile Leeteuk, he’s a heavy coffee drinker, he almost treats coffee as water.
“Hey! In my defense, I’m better now, maybe my stupid wallet just slipped out when I took my phone to answer a call.” He countered, Leeteuk just shook his head in defeat. “ So It’s been years huh? You changed a lot, aside from your name, there have been so many changes, you look better than the last time I saw you, You look... so mature now.” Heechul complimented him, Leeteuk doesn’t know if it was just the coffee but his heart started to beat faster than his usual heart rate. His heart fluttered, hearing Heechul say those words, but then as if on cue his mind reminded him why he’s there, he needed answers, not compliments.
“Thank you, Honestly, as far as I remember you, you haven’t aged a bit, your face still looks the same.” Leeteuk replied politely, his throat, again, feeling dry despite drinking. “I mean, of course, for me, so much will change, 5 years had gone by since we last saw each other…” Leeteuk added. The room suddenly went silent, the blaring horns outside the cafe and the customers just below them suddenly faded, Heechul didn't know what to say, he saw this coming but he didn’t expect to be this instant, so he remained quiet, looking down at the table separating him and Leeteuk.
“Heechul.” Leeteuk called him, the other couldn’t tell if Leeteuk’s mad or what, he’s not ready for this, he honestly didn’t think that Him and Leeteuk would cross paths again, he’s just here in Korea for the holidays and will go back to San Francisco once the holiday’s over. “Why?” Leeteuk looked at him, with sincere eyes, Heechul stared at those eyes, the eyes he once loved and adored.
Heechul inhaled sharply, He’s also asking himself, Why? Why did he do that? Just what the fuck was he thinking of leaving Leeteuk, leaving the love of his life, without any words or even a simple goodbye.
“Jungsoo… Uhm, Leeteuk…” He started, finding the right words to say, “I… We… We drifted apart.” That’s the closest reason he has, but it’s true, both of them drifted apart.
“What?!” Leeteuk slightly raised his voice, Heechul was startled because of this. “We drifted apart? Heechul you left for San Francisco even though you know I’m not okay with it, but I wanted to be a good boyfriend to you, I supported your dream, even if it means you’ll be thousands of miles away from me, I agreed even if you’ll live on the other side of the earth.” Leeteuk tried so hard not to raise his voice, afraid that he’ll make a scene. “You wanted me to come there, when you know for a fact that I wanted to pursue my dream, me being an announcer here in Seoul. I almost gave up my dream for you because I want to be by your side, beside you when you finally achieve your dreams, even if it means that I’ll sacrifice mine, because Heechul, you know, When I’m with you, I couldn’t even ask for more…” Leeteuk added. Heechul knew all of them, He’s selfish, he knows, he didn’t think of Leeteuk when he asked him to come and live with Heechul in San Francisco.
“I’ve been selfish, I know. When you told me that you didn’t want to live in San Francisco because you wanted to stay here, I thought that you didn’t care about us, God knows how I wanted you there, beside me, every morning I wake up, I wish that you were beside me, snuggled on my chest or on my back. Jungsoo, we struggled so much handling long-distance relationships, and the moment you declined my offer, I was hurt. I don’t belong here anymore, my dreams and career are in San Francisco. So how can we work that out?” Heechul explained his side. He was sitting on the edge of the cushion. “Jungsoo look at me.” He ordered his ex, “I’m an atheist but God knows how much I loved you. I’m sorry for being selfish, I didn’t think of you, I didn’t think of anyone. When you told me that, I don’t know, I was just mad and I didn’t think through, I thought that meant you were breaking up with me, so, I didn’t contact you ever again, I was blinded by hurt and my anger. I tried so hard to move on, everyday I tried to drink the pain away, even drinking the most expensive alcoholic drink couldn’t even ease the pain that I felt during those times. I wanted to contact you, I wanted to reach out, but I was a coward, I’m afraid that you’ll reject me for the second time, I really tried to get over you. And I eventually did, and that’s when Kyuhyun mentioned that you’re finally an announcer here, when He visited me 2 years ago. I wanted to contact you again, but who am I to do that? Kyuhyun explained everything to me, years have passed and that’s when I finally got to know your side. I’m sorry, Jungsooo, I’m sorry for all the pain that I’ve caused.” Leeteuk clenched his fist and shut his eyes, fighting back the tears that are threatening to flow, No, You can’t show Heechul that you’re still hurting. He reminded himself.
“Heechul, you didn’t give us a chance…” Leeteuk;s voice cracked. He clenched his fists tighter, “If only… If only you gave us a chance… If we truly love each other, we’ll conquer that.” Leeteuk replied. “You didn’t give me a chance. Heechul, I loved you, you know that. If only you told me earlier…” Leeteuk didn’t finish his sentence, because Heechul suddenly reached out and held both of Leeteuk’s hands that were balled into fists. Leeteuk relaxed when Heechul started massaging his hands.
“Jungsoo listen, even if… Even if we tried then, It wouldn’t work. The time will come that one of us will ask for something more, one of us will eventually ask to settle down. If I ask you to leave everything behind in Seoul, and come with me in San Francisco, will you do it?” Heechul asked, Leeteuk couldn’t answer him, He won’t leave his job, his dream job just to move to another continent. “See. The same thing for me too, Jungsoo, I can’t leave that place anymore, It’s where I live, where my dream, where my career is. I belong there now. We aren’t on the same page anymore.” Heechul explained more thoroughly.
“I wished you could’ve told me that earlier, you left me hanging, I didn’t know back then if I should still expect something from you or to let go… Heechul, moving on from you is so hard, you’re all my firsts, I could also say that you’re my greatest love, since I didn’t see myself with other people other than you. You know me Heechul, I will try to understand you, Even if it’s hard, I will do it, I’m that kind of person…” Leeteuk bent his head down, He felt Heechul’s hand cupping his cheeks, wiping the tears that betrayed him. He saw how Heechul nodded, and how he mutters soft, words to calm the latter.
“Again, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the pain that I’ve inflicted on you for the past years. I am not worthy of your forgiveness, but please know that I’m really sorry. I’m a jerk, a shithead, a dick, everything, That just proved that I’m not really worthy of someone like you.” Heechul tightened his hold to one of Leeteuk’s hands.
“I guess this is the closure that we should’ve done years ago.” Leeteuk finally calmed down, He smiled, sincerely to Heechul now, He finally got the answer, and he’s not expecting that Him and Heechul would have another chance, as Heechul said, they’re not on the same page anymore, they both live in different worlds now. He’s finally at ease now, his mind and heart got the answer they’re both dying to hear.
“I think so. I’m glad that I happen to bump into you once again, Isn't it pure coincidence? I remember we first met each other It's also the First Snow that time." Heechul said, Leeteuk remembers it, He won't forget that moment, There's an old saying that the person who you are with during the first snow of the year, will spend the rest of his life with you. Butb he guessed, it wasn't true. "I know that you’ll finally be at ease now, I heard your side years ago, and I’m sorry if I just explained mine now.” Heechul once again apologized, they both smiled at each other, Leeteuk held Heechul’s hand, the latter’s hand was so soft ever since they first met.
“Thank you for everything Heechul-ah.” Leeteuk spoke. “I doubt that my love for you will fade, but we’re better this way.” Heechul smiled at him, then he brought Leeteuk’s hand on his lips, He kissed the latter's knuckles softly.
“I will forever be grateful to you Jungsoo, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t pursue my dreams. Thank you so much. You will always have a special place in my heart.” He replied, letting go of Leeteuk’s hand. He fixed his suit and stood up. “Do you want me to walk you to the bus stop? It seems that you didn’t bring your car with you.” Heechul offered. Leeteuk shook his head and showed Heechul his iconic dimple smile.
“No thanks, I’ll just stay here for a while. Thank you Heechul, for the treat, and again for everything. I wish you nothing but good things in your life and your career.” Leeteuk also stood up, he went in front of the man he once loved and then enveloped him in an embrace. Heechul returned the hug.
“You also Jungsoo, I meant Leeteuk, I also wish you great things in your life. Thank you also, Thank you so much.” He tightened his hug as he whispered those words to his former lover. They broke apart and Heechul squeezed Leeteuk’s shoulder.
“I’ll get going. I had a nice time with you, See you soon, Leeteuk.” Heechul bid him Goodbye.
“Goodbye Heechul.” Leeteuk answered him, He saw how Heechul smiled for the last time to him and then the other man left him and the room already. Leeteuk sat back down, thinking,
What if Heechul gave them a chance? Will they end up together, happy or will it eventually come to this?