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It's not a easy decision, no chance at that when his mother stares at him like he admitted to killing puppies but he knows that he needs his own place. His phone calls with Dalmi are getting progressively more heated with them not able to get a moment alone since the event that must not be named.

The first time she asks him what he's wearing he looks down at his cable knit sweater and tells hers, "It's one hundred percent cotton. My mom bought it for me last week. It's very warm." Her silence and subsequent laughter makes him feel as if he's missed something important despite answering her question. With a giggle she replied, "You are really sweet Dosan. You're too good for this world." And he blushes immensely feeling hot under the collar at her excessive praise.

The next time, she simply sends him a message that causes his brain to go offline.

I miss your taste.

There's no way to misconstrue that statement and his brain supplies vivid images of what they did in this very room.

Gasping.

Slurping.

Moist.

 

He hurries to lock his door before letting his hands stray, her wet mouth filling his thoughts. Embarrassment isn't enough to deter him and her messages following make it clear she knows exactly the affect her seemingly innocuous message yielded.

So he starts looking for an apartment with Dalmi's help, she will be over a lot and it only makes sense that she should have some input. Her smile is honey sweet when he asks for her help, grinning at him with glee as she sips her iced Americano.

"I would love to help Dosan-ah."

The ordeal takes longer than expected but within weeks he finds a place, a mere twenty minute drive from his parents house and thirty minutes from Dalmi. They share identical sunny smiles as he signs the lease and buys their his new apartment. He has to repeatedly remind himself that he can afford this place regardless of the exorbitant amount of zero's. He's come a long way indeed.

 

Telling his parents about his move is uncomfortable to put it lightly, his mom is nonchalant and sulking in equal terms. Wailing that her only son is abandoning her for a pretty young thing, he's just thankful that Dalmi isn't around to hear her new nickname. His father on the other hand is over the moon, slapping him on the back and shouting about the strong will of Nam men. He fears he'll suffer from chronic back pain as a result of the thunderous pounds.

 

"Don't skip meals. Call if you need anything. You're always welcome to come back. " His mom promises, reaching out to smack his father as breezes by boasting on the phone that he has a free room in the house now and promises that they can use it for gatherings.

 

"Yes, yes! Bring the soju we should have a drink!"

 

But when it's time to bring all his belongings to the moving van, manned by Chul-san and Yong-san both parents are eying him with wet eyes from the doorway. He tries to keep his tears at bay but they all end up weeping in front of the gate, Chul-san screaming "They grow up too quickly!" Patting his mother compassionately on the back. He tries the same with his father but the dead glare stops him in his spot.

 

After a long day unpacking boxes, mostly his computer and tech supplies he collapses on the floor exhausted. With a dopey grin Chul-san is the first to leave, after Saha sends him a message complaining that she's bored and if he wants to hang him he better be there in ten minutes. Chul-san smiles like she sent him a love letter, he shakes his head but he's done trying to understand their relationship.

 

He waves goodbye to his friend, thanking him for his help and with then it's just him and Yong-san, who immediately starts to interrogate him about Dalmi and their relationship.

 

"How are things going?" Yong-san asks laying on the wooden floor with him as they both stare out the giant windows, the sunset is a majestic spill of colors.

 

His lips slide into an instantaneous grin, "I'm happy. Happier than I was in San Francisco."

 

Yong-san doesn't reply but he reaches across to squeeze his hand and wrap an arm around his shoulder.

 

They sit like that for a quiet moment.

 

Until his phone disrupts the gentle silence, the woman in question appearing on his phone. After a nod from his friend he answers the call.

 

"Hello?"

 

"Dosan-ah! Did you finish moving? I'm sorry I couldn't help you. Are you hungry? I can bring you food." Dalmi's voice is music to his ears, the rumbling of her engine vibrating in his ears.

 

He answers honestly, "Yes we finished, Chul-san and Yong-san helped me. It's okay I know you had to work today. I am a little hungry, fried chicken?" He knows now that he doesn't need to pretend to want fancy food, they both love fried chicken and its delicious simplicity.

 

She groaned knowingly, "I had a feeling you'd want chicken on a day like this. I already got some from that place you like. I'll be there in fifteen minutes."

 

He smiles, nuzzling into Yong-san's shoulder contentlybefore answering, "Okay. I'll see you soon."

 

He begins to lower the phone but then her voice rings out stopping him "Dosan-ah one more thing!" He immediately brings the phone back to his face humming to show his presence.

 

"I miss you. I love you."

 

His heart flutters never tiring of hearing those three words. If he could bottle it up and listen to it daily he would. He's addicted to her love.

 

"You too. I love you too."

 

Then they finally hang up cheesy smile etched in his handsome face.

 

"Wow. I see it now. You really are cockroaches in love. Gross but captivating." Yong-san teases pushing Dosan's head off his shoulder as he gathers his things. He temporarily feels a tinge of guilt, Yong-san is the only one in the group who doesn't have someone. He doesn't want his friend to feel like the fifth wheel.

 

His thoughts must play on his face because Yong-san mushes his face before sticking out his tongue, "Don't look at me like that. I'm fine we can't all be gross and in loveeee. I'll be stuffing my face with premium beef instead."

 

They both chuckle as he walks his friend it the door, saying their goodbyes with a quick embrace.

 

His nerves overtake him when he's alone. He checks his phone but there is nothing there to keep his attention so he starts at the spot where you would have a TV, then he realizes he has nothing here. What will he do with Dalmi? He contemplates texting her to let her know she should probably just go home. In the end his desire to see his girlfriend overwhelms his selflessness. They can be bored together.

 

Minutes pass and he buzzes her in, body twitching now from her nearing proximity. When she knocks at the door he all but races to answer the door, unshamed.

 

"Hi."

"Hey."

 

They stare at each other starry eyed before he moves out of the way and lets her in. Placing a pair of pink house slippers at her feet, at her curious look he explains with a shy shrug, "I bought them for you."

 

She smiles widely, thrusting the fried chicken at his broad chest.

 

"I come bearing gifts too."

 

The enticing aroma of the fried delicacy fills his senses and he takes the proffered bag, thankful that she thought to bring plastic plates and little plastic cups.

 

"I don't have anything to drink." He apologizes holding up the cups.

 

Pulling a bottle out of nowhere she then offers him a bottle of wine, deep red with a golden label. He is no connoisseur but it looks expensive.

 

"You didn't need to bring me wine."

 

She shrugs, "I wanted to. You're pretty cute when you're drunk."

 

He reddens remember that embarrassing night so many years ago, his first time sleeping at her house.

 

"Maybe we shouldn't drink that much."

 

She laughs loudly at his warning, pulling a bottle opener from her purse. He absently wonders what else is in there.

 

She pours the liquid into the plastic cups, handing it to him first and instinctively he leans in to smell the beverage. His nose dangerously close to the liquid before he realizes what he's doing and he hurriedly pulls away.

 

"Ummm... I-"

 

"Is that what you're supposed to do?" She asks before leaning in and sniffing her own wine loudly and without any grace. If he wasn't already in love, he would be falling right now.

 

They both sniff their wine gracelessly and munch on the crispy sweet meat, the dissonance of the meal doing nothing to stop their consumption.

 

Dalmi hums sweetly as she sits on the floor looking gorgeous with chicken grease on her lips.

 

"What?" She questions, licking her fingers clean.

 

He feels his throat tightening. Parched.

 

He looks at the ground, avoiding her eye as he downs his wine.

 

"Nothing. Just thinking. How was your day?"

 

And he listens as Dalmi tells him all about her long day complaining about her sister and how demanding she is, Dosan pointedly does not mention the fact that she's smiling or the fact that all of Injae's "annoying" habits sound like things that Dalmi herself does all the time. It didn't take him long to realize just how similar the sisters are but god forbid anyone mention that.

 

He smiles when she starts playing with her hair, thankful to be the one she shares her days with.

 

When he stands up to collect their garbage, walking into the spacious kitchen. She suddenly stops speaking droning off at the end of an incomplete sentence.

 

"Dalmi-ah?"

 

After throwing the garbage in the bin he washes his hands and wonders back over to his silent girlfriend, who is glaring at...the ground?

 

He calls her name again recapturing her attention.

 

Peering down he notices that she's staring at his phone. Which has a message notification.

 

Twisting his lips in thought he crouched down again rejoining Dalmi on the smooth glossy floor.

 

"I didn't mean to look. It was just right there." She's bites out taking a big gulp from her cup.

 

He has no idea what could possibly have her so worked up and he picks up his phone to see the answer.

 

I miss you stranger. Call me soon.

 

He gasps as soon as he sees those words on the screen: Han Ji Yoon.

 

He knew it wasn't mature but he'd never actually cut things off with her, he'd just slowly stopped calling her and answering her messages. Some might of considered it ghosting but he called it awkwardly disappearing, he'd never broken up with someone before so he just didn't know how. So he'd hoped she would get tired of him and stop trying to see him, it had been working until this message.

 

"Dalmi-ah I can explain."

 

He expects more of a fight but she looks at him, waiting. Expectant and glowering. Fire in her eyes.

 

"Okay. Go ahead."

 

He blinks at her stare and gulps when she scoots closer to him, invading his personal space. Not knowing how her proximity renders him useless at the best of times.

 

So he stutters out how he was too pathetic to tell the girl the truth and instead he'd ignored her and thought she got the memo.

 

Dalmi doesn't say anything at first and when she finally speaks her words make no sense and he wonders if he's drunker than he thought.

 

"Does she follow you on social media?"

 

He nods yes and before he knows what exactly is happening Dalmi is dragging him by his arm to the window and mashing their faces together to take a selfie on his phone.

 

"Stop looking nervous. Look natural. Smile. Dosan-ah."

 

She snaps away until she's satisfied and he watches in amazement as she posts the picture to his story with the caption, "New apartment with my love." She puts a little red heart and then decides against it.

 

"There you go. Now everyone will know that you're taken."

 

His chest is brimming with emotions and he finds his hands curled around her little chin, she leans into his touch easily swaying as if hypnotized.

 

"You're jealous."

 

Her lips pull into a sneer but something in his eyes kills her denial, her face breaking as she wraps her thin arms around his waist.

 

"Don't look so proud. I have people texting me too you know?"

 

And immediately he squints at her words, staring hard at the indent of her phone in her pocket as if to read said messages.

 

"Let's post that picture on your social media too." He demands feeling the fiery blaze of jealous lick at his heart.

 

Her eyes widen before she erupts into laughter, dragging him the rest of the distance between them pressing her joy into his mouth.

 

He sinks his fingers into her thick hair, swallowing the rest of her laughter allowing Dalmi to back her into the cool glass of the window. All his shyness melts away as he kisses her, emboldened by her moans and buckling of her knees. He catches her before she can fall, hoisting her up his long torso until he feels her legs latch around his waist. They kiss until his lips are sore, his tongue deep in her mouth as she nibbles at his mouth. The flavor of chicken and wine explode on his tongue as he licks deeper, intoxicated on Dalmi and her addicting lips. 

 

She teases the rim of his ears, breaking their kiss with a wet smack as they gaze into each other's eyes.

 

She looks as dazed as he feels. Eyes blown wide as she pants in his arms, almost boneless in his hold as she lets him take the full weight of her body. he barely notices, he has carried her too many times to count. It has become something of a habit. He’ll never recover from the spark in her eyes everything he lifts her, the faint blush on her cheeks. One of the only times that he can make her shy. 

 

"Dosan-ah."

 

He hums fighting to pay attention with Dalmi looking so breathtaking in his arms stroking his hot ears.

 

"We need to get you a bed. Very soon hmmm?"

 

This time he knows exactly what she means and he groans hiding in her shoulder as she rubs his head.

 

Bed. Yes. Getting that immediately. Maybe stores are open. He should go get it. 

Right now