hear a word from you telling me to break up.
So tell me, am I supposed to accept everything as it is?” 

It was a quiet but calm tone.
Kang Taejung sighed heavily and swept his cheek as he had no confidence to face Ha Joyoon’s gaze.
In order to forget his pain, the emotions he thought he had forcibly suppressed came leaking out again.

Ha Joyoon’s words were not wrong.
He had to explain it to him.
But he had absolutely no idea as to where he should start from and how to do it.
Everything that had taken place in the last few days still hadn’t hit home.
It was an honest feeling coming from the fact that he didn’t know where things got tangled up and how to undo them.

“Yoon-ah, I.”

Slowly breaking his luck, Kang Taejung stared at the person sitting opposite him with difficulty.
Although his skin tone was overall light and pale, it was not at all an awkward remark to say that he was beautiful even though he was a man.
The unique languor and indifferent atmosphere that drove him crazy from the time they were lovers, or even before that, were still there. 

Those pretty and brown irises of his appeared and reappeared as he blinked. Yoon-ah, I. The words he had swallowed back into his throat continued to circulate around his heart.
When you have too much to say, you realize how it feels like to be unable to say anything.
Like a mute who’s unaware of how to speak, Kang Taejung repeatedly opened his mouth and closed it without saying anything.

“Youngwoo… was my junior in university.
I’ve known him for a long time.”

“…….”

“I had a really difficult time… when you disappeared.
It had become impossible for me to live a normal life.
So much so that I had thought I was going crazy… I turned out to be a much weaker person than I thought.” 

The voice tracing moments of the past was low and sad.
Ha Joyoon quietly listened to Kang Taejung’s voice.

“As time went by, I ended up getting tired first.
I really was going crazy.
Everyday, I cried while regretting not holding you back from going there, but nothing changed, and I didn’t hear anything from you or about you.
Still, I was proud of myself for trying my best, but truth is, there was nothing I could do.
I didn’t realize that I was such an incompetent person.
Time was passing by in such a helpless manner and it was killing me.”

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Seligma’s cheerful hum melted into the bossa nova melody and flowed throughout the entire cafe.
The atmosphere created something like a hallucination out of the scarlet lights which were falling like stars on the Rhône River.
The beautiful music that flowed out did not mix well with the anguish filled voice of the lover. It was killing me. The sobbing voice, one that was trying to console itself, made its way between the big gap the two had.

“Throughout all of it, Youngwoo was always there for me.
Whenever I was alone, I really wanted to die, and I don’t know how he knew but he would always contact me or come to me every time I felt like that.
At first, I ignored him and turned him away but he… he was quite persistent.” 

His tightly closed lips drew a faint arc.
Even though it was a momentary action, that cold and hard expression broke down at once.
And the heart of Ha Joyoon, who was watching him, also crumbled like a decaying wooden building.

You… You can smile like that now, thinking of someone else other than me.
You can.

“He would come looking for me and stay till the end, he would check up on how I was getting by… He wouldn’t move despite the insults I would throw at him.
No matter how hard I tried to push him away, he stayed by my side, no matter what I did, he still stayed by side… and then all of a sudden… I came to acknowledge him.”

“…….” 

“It’s been about half a year since we started dating.
Youngwoo was the one who confessed first, but… it was my choice to accept it.”

“…….”

“Yoon-ah.”

The way he was called out was done as kindly as ever, but like an idiot, nothing came to his mind.
Ha Joyoon was barely holding onto his dizzyingly spinning head with a thread of reason.
He understood Kang Taejung’s word, but only in his head as his heart was unable to accept a single word. Oh, God.
What did I just hear? Ha Joyoon rubbed his cheek roughly, letting out a scream of astonishment inside. 

“… I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.”

He pretended to be calm, but his voice was so terribly shaky that it was difficult for him to pronounce a proper word.
Kang Taejung raised his body halfway with worried eyes, at the sight of Ha Joyoon, who was visibly shaking in his eyes.

“Yoon-ah”

“So tell me what you’re going to do.” 

The voice, which had lost all the warmth, was sharp and hysterical.
Stiff breathing warmed the air.
Ha Joyoon hid his trembling hands under the table as he stared at his changed lover with bloodshot eyes.
Kang Taejung’s expression, as if he had made up his mind, was frightening and he couldn’t bear it.

“Are you saying that you’ll keep dating that person? Even though I came back?”

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“…….”

“Taejung-ah.” 

The man, who turned his head halfway, furrowed his brows painfully.
Ha Joyoon was desperately looking for pieces of hope in each of Kang Taejung’s minute expressions, but as time went on, only an unknown feeling of despair was added to the volume.
Just before the pain could overflow, he clenched his teeth and shook his head. It can’t be like this.
Not like this.

“Yoon-ah”

 

A voice filled with an ominous undertone rang softly.
An expression of solid will loomed over Kang Taejung’s face.
Ha Joyoon knew that face well.
When he made that face, the lover always pushed his will through silently like a warrior.
And so, following his foreboding, a cruel ultimatum.

“Yoon-ah, It’s not like… I’ll meet Youngwoo when you’re not here and then throw him away when you come back… he’s not someone I can just abandon.
I can’t do that.” 

It was as if a dull and rusty pushed its way through his skin.
Ha Joyoon buried his face in his palms and took a deep breath.
No tears came out.
He was glad he didn’t look ugly.
However, a tidal wave that rose from the abyss where there was not even a trace of color swept over his heart.
Unbearable resentment flowed through the waves, and violent anger scratched his heart roughly. I can’t understand the slightest bit of what Kang Taejung is saying to me. In this situation, he didn’t want this kind of an answer.
He asked in a quivering voice.

“Then what about me?”

“…….”

“Me..
What about our relationship?” 

“…….”

“You want us to break up? Tell me properly.”

Kang Taejung’s face hardened noticeably at the raw question thrown in a straight line without a detour.
An unfiltered, irritable tone of voice urged him again.

“Please tell me.” 

He clenched his teeth and attacked the other person by speaking one letter at a time, but it was Ha Joyoon, who was hurt and bleeding.
The more he spoke, the more the wounds done by that rusty blade opened up horribly, each revealing his terrible innermost thoughts and he smiled bitterly.

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