He doesn’t realize how he missed his usual start of the day when he woke up from his alarm. There was no little patter of feet bounding to his bedroom in the dawn of the day and soft hands slapping his face around.
Hakyeon woke up bleary eyed, looking around to see his little angel when he remembers that Wonshik (It’s Ravi daddy!) is at a sleepover right now and would not be back until tomorrow. A blessing and a curse at the same time. The local daycare center does sleepovers every summer for 2 nights and 3 days, giving parents time to themselves and relax. Unfortunately for Hakyeon, he lives alone with Wonshik and it gets real lonely without his little angel.
Still, he thinks, he should get the most out of his days off and that start by snoozing the alarm and falling back asleep.
Hakyeon finds himself wide awake and staring blankly at the glare of his phone. He doesn’t have work until noon and a quick look at the clock tells him it’s only 7:15 am. He damns his internal clock and does not dwell on the fact that it was the lack of warmth snuggling to him and non stop talking next to his ear. Thinking about it just makes him sad and it’s only the second day.
So he wills himself to wake up, starting the day with stretching and singing Wonshik favorite song to himself. He cleaned the house without any interruption every 5 minutes and he tried new recipes for future breakfast that will be hassle free and delicious while watching mindless tv shows. It felt good to have things done but then he heard a passing comment from the TV.
“I love my kids as much as a mother can,” said a woman being interviewed, from an disbanded girl group if he isn’t mistaken, “But it’s a lonely responsibility seeing that I don’t have time to build any bond with other people other than a passing empathetic conversation from parents.”
Were he a better father, he would laugh and nod at the comment and move on but it hits close to home than he wanted it to be. He was never the class clown or the jock but he was someone who knows a reasonable amount of people; he liked going outside to have fun every weekend and just like being near people in general. With his days occupied with work and Wonshik, he doesn’t have the time to dwell on his loneliness but the house is cold and lifeless without his little angel and it is making him want more out of life than what he is already blessed.
There’s nothing more he wants more than to see the bundle of joy Mi-na blessed him to be the happiest child there is. A niggling thought that were created in the silence won’t leave him alone though.
He heaved a sigh when he sat down at work. He came in early, seeing that was waiting for him were a cold and empty home that even his busy workplace were better than nothing. His heavy breath was noticed by a co-worker who he never officially talk to before.
“Hey,” he greeted, he was a tall lanky man with a small face and ridiculously sharp jawline “Sorry to bother you, but that was a heavy sigh you gave there. Everything okay?”
Taken aback by the forwardness, he replied “No worries, i’m just thinking about stuff at home”
The other guy chew his lip worriedly, “You might think of me as the nosiest person there is, sans the actual nose,” Hakyeon laughed because the other man does have a long nose, he could feel tension bleeding out by just talking with another human being “I’m not doing anything and talking to a stranger might help with whatever issue you dealing with?”
“I- ah no you’re right, talking to you already helps a lot,” he looked at his clock, technically he isn’t supposed to be working until another hour “I woke up today without my little angel of a son because he’s at a sleepover at his daycare and I realized some awful stuff about myself”
“Aw man, this is awful,” he laughed though the feeling of panic is coming back up “I’m at work and giving my co-worker baggage the first time we met, god I’m sorry”
“Like I said, I have nothing to do at the moment and talking to someone with no bias helps in my experience,” said the other man “My name is Lee Jaehwan,”
The man extended his hand for a handshake and he gingerly shook back,” Nice to meet you Jaehwan-ssi, my name is Cha Hakyeon”
“Your kid goes to SM daycare right?” he asked “Not to sound like a super creeper but my kids goes there too and my oldest is also in a sleepover so…”
“Wait, Lee Jaehwan who can likes to go the moon and eat cheese?”
The other man sighed, “So you must be Ravi’s superman, the Cha Hakyeon”
“Oh this is real embarrassing,” said Jaehwan, palming his face “It’s one thing to talk about it but to hear it told by a grown man without any kids in sight”
Hakyeon burst out laughing, to think he is meeting the dad of his kid’s best friend here. After working here for almost 6 years, it was impossible that he never knew that Lee Hongbin’s dad works just mere feet away from him. Hakyeon never met the man properly but he knows plenty of the man. Wonshik always comes running to him telling the story that Hongbin’s dad tells him late last night and the extravagant and creativity of the story never fails to astound him. It always get Wonshik thinking about the story while learning some sort of lesson too. Sometimes it makes him sad that his kid is learning life lesson from another person but if it were him, it would be a straight up lecture that bore Wonshik to death.
“Can’t believe my son’s best friend’s dad work next to me,” he said
“It’s kind of amazing how we never properly met other than through our kids’ stories,” he held out his hand “The man who eats cheese and creates the crater on the moon and who has the cutest sons ever, Lee Jaehwan”
He promptly took the hand and greeted back, “A superman who has endless solution to everything and is graced by an angelic son, Cha Hakyeon”
“So what’s the story behind that sigh of yours?” he asked “What, you thought I forgot that easily?”
Hakyeon frowned at the other man, “Unless you have a split personality that I don’t know about or you’re this friendly to parents you meet”
“Too soon?” he scratched his cheek in embarrassment “I feel like I know you like a good friend, Hakyeon”
The name tacked on the end was brought with a smile and an uplifted eyebrow.
“35 years old”
He harrumphed in triumph, “37 years old, better not forget the hyung you brat”
“Oh my god, fine” he tried again “Please tell me the story behind that sigh Hakyeon-hyung”
“You are persistent,” he said “Anyone would leave by now”
“What can I say,” Jaehwan shrugged “I am annoyingly persistent”
“Fine,” he started “First of all, don’t laugh. You know how Wonshik is in a sleepover with Hongbin, I woke up today feeling restless and unbalanced without him.”
Jaehwan nodded in response, “Same with me, Sanghyuk woke up crying that Hongbin wasn’t there with him”
“At least you have something to keep your mind occupied,” he replied “I didn’t have anything and when I decided to watch the TV, a random conversation about how lonely parenting can get came up and it just,” he ended the talk with a shrug, an action that portrayed his feeling pretty accurately.
“Damn,” Jaehwan whistled “An existential crisis at the age of 40”
“I am 37 years old you brat” he growled “Don’t age up people as you please”
“So old,” Jaehwan sniffed a fake tear “So sad”
Hakyeon does his best parenting move, the neck chop.
“Ow! What the heck Hakyeon-hyung?” moaned Jaehwan, rubbing his neck
“Don’t act like a child then I won’t have to resort dealing with you like I deal with Wonshik,” he said
“Do you hit your kid this hard?” he yelled “I’m gonna call the social service”
“That is the least funny thing I have ever heard, don’t talk about taking my kid away ever again,” he threatened with more neck chop “Also you’re an annoying adult, of course I am going to hit you hard”
“Geez, this is some tough love you’re giving. And we only just met” Jaehwan grumbled “I’m regretting coming to talk to you now”
“You’re more than welcome to walk away,” he said, indignant that he’s being dismissed like this. He clenched his fist, his lack of socialization were showing “Just because our children are friends does not mean we have to”
Jaehwan stared at him rather than leaving. More than embarrassed and angry, he’s panicking that he lost control of the conversation. He’s 37 years old and he’s being told off by a guy younger than him, a single joke got him riled up and he’s feeling more lonely than ever.
“I’m already 30 minutes in to this conversation,” started Jaehwan “And I told you, I’m good at being annoying so continue Hakyeon-hyung”
“God, Hongbin is nothing but a smart and polite little child” he snorted “How did he get a parent like you”
“And Ravi is a little ball of sunshine with you as a dad,” Jaehwan shrugged “We can’t have everything”
“My kid’s name is Wonshik” he snapped “Not Ravi!”
“Ravi would like to be called Ravi because it makes him feel good,” snapped the other man “And if that makes him happy that screw what you said, no offense”
“No offense!” How in the world did a man like Jaehwan ever exist “All offense! Wonshik is my child and I have absolute right in what other people call my kid!”
“Parents does not own their children!” shouted Jaehwan back “You nurture them!”
“I have never said that I own my child! But the fact remains that I am his parent and I am going to try my best to protect him from people like you!”
“People like me,” Jaehwan stood up now, pointing at his chest in resentment “People like me!”
“People like you that comes in to strangers life and tells them what they’re doing wrong!” he yelled “Like you’re the god of everyone’s life, knowing what’s right and wrong!”
“I am trying to help!”
“I never asked for it!” he said “So get the fuck out!”
His shoulders heaved as he panted, there were people staring at them and his cheek and ears colors. Never in his life that he got to a fight with someone he met for the first time, with the dad of his kid’s best friend too. The silence that came after his yell made him look up and see the hurt in the other’s man face before he schooled it to a cold and professional face. The words he said came crashing back down and he swallowed the apologies. Damn his pride, damn it all.
“My apologies Hakyeon-ssi,” said Jaehwan “You’re right, I shouldn’t poke my nose on other people’s business”
Jaehwan then bow real low; Hakyeon’s mind shuttered, this was only going to make him look bad in comparison.
“Once again, I truly apologize” he continued, still bowing down “I hope that you can let this go”
He open his mouth to speak his mind; the nerve of this guy to bother him first and then making him be the antagonist. Jaehwan bowing low and making himself look small reminds him of a moment in the past. Wonshik, quavering in the corner and stuffing his little bony arm into himself as if that would make him invisible. That made him lose all fury and anger he had. Jaehwan is still an idiot but he was one too.
“I swear to god Lee Jaehwan,” he whispered “I am going to tell Wonshik- Ravi that you’re a liar and you’re actually destroying the moon’s environment and forcing the rabbits to move to mars”
From up here, he could see Jaehwan fighting back a smile and he himself let one come up.
“I was an idiot too,” he said, an apology of some sort “You aren’t the only one”
He took a hold of Jaehwan arm and quickly guide him away from the crowd forming near them. Jaehwan half heartedly shook off. Work will be starting soon for him and he doesn’t have that much time to talk to Jaehwan so he needs to fix this before the bastard tells Wonshik what an awful father he is.
“I have work soon so give me your phone number,” he said “We can pick up our kids tomorrow together”
Jaehwan stayed quiet and he feared that he truly had lost the little kindle of friendship but then Jaehwan stopped in front of a door, his office probably, and gone in. Hakyeon didn’t know if that was a flat out refusal and if he should leave but Jaehwan came back with a phone in his hand.
“Give me your number” he said
They exchanged number in silence. The ball is in Jaehwan now so he waited a reaction from him. Jaehwan look up and smiled.
“It looks like we got off at the wrong foot,” he said “I really want to be friends because there is surprisingly a lack of dads that actively care for their child outside of home and our kids are the ‘bestest of friend’”
“No,” he answered “No, I understand. I would really to be friends too and I guess I was more sensitive than I thought I was so…”
“I think we’re still a little bit mad from our encounter today so,” Jaehwan shrugged “Let start over tomorrow yeah?”
He nodded “I’ll text you when I am done with work tomorrow and we’ll got pick up our kids”
Jaehwan let out a small smile and he didn’t realize how much happier he is with that smile directed to him, as if everything will be okay. He was more love starved than he thought he was. They nods their head in goodbyes before going about their business. He can curve around his pride and anger tomorrow, he has to.