It was the thing every time, Jae's parents would insist on an update from him on a monthly basis where they would sit and go through his report card and GPA, his father would make some snide remarks about his career choice being a mistake, Jae would lie through his teeth about what life in Evermore was like because he couldn't bring himself to tell his father that he moved out of the dorms a long time ago. He knew he would furious when he found out what was really happening, that Jae barely even knew that the dorm room looked like anymore. That his bed was left made and empty night after night while he was warming the space next to Han.

He couldn't bring himself to tell his father that he had fallen head over heels for someone and that he saw his future in him. He couldn't bring himself to break apart his family because of something he had chosen, not because he cared much for his father and his strict ways but because he knew it would mean losing his mother, someone who didn't have much time left. They all knew it and he could barely stand the idea of being taken away from her, even if he felt this sense of guilt in the pit of his stomach every time he lied to her. 

Jae reached out his hand to cup Han's cheek as he laid in front of him, he looked so peaceful but it also hurt him knowing how badly Han wanted them to be public, the star had been hinting for a while now that he wanted Jae to make the step and honestly, Jae felt he owed it to him. But it was so hard. Even if he could survive away from his parent's investments, what happened when he graduated if he couldn't find a job? Was he going to rely on Han forever? That hardly seemed fair. Jae sighed softly as he pulled Han closer "Hey...don't forget I'm staying at the dorm after class tonight" he murmured softly, almost sounding guilty as he spoke it because he hated being away from Han and he knew the star was going to pout about it. 

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It’s been a few months since Yeon had departed for New York City, which meant Han was a little less active when it comes to chatting with his other half. But the distance didn’t really hinder them, especially the celestial, knowing how clingy he could be with his volakiri. There were times when they would facetime aside from chatting but they were also two very busy people. Yeon was busy reviewing everything whereas Han was busy overseeing the new research facility in Denver. Everyone had their parts and they were not excluded from it. Speaking of which, Jae has been home very late recently due to his studies and Han tried his best not to interfere with it because it was his life, and as his boyfriend, the only thing that the fallen star should provide him is comfort and affection, to which he did. 

But they could barely sit down and talk for long nowadays too, it meant the time they could spend with one another has also decreased significantly. He wondered if Jae was dealing with something because he always had his nose in a book whenever he came home. Han also had times when he had to go to the facility in Denver to submit a few things in person which meant the shortest time he could make it there was barely 2 days. He hasn’t been home for a week the last time too because they required him to stay at the research center. Today was his day off, he had 2 days off since he was doing outstation work yesterday and just arrived home. It wasn’t surprising to see him passing out like he just got struck by lightning. 

The pay was twice higher than his previous one but it also meant his workload increased, to Han it didn’t matter, getting good pay meant he could save up and give a better living arrangement to both Jae and Sunmin. He was half asleep and half awake, but whatever Jae said, he could still make it out audibly. So when the dhampir told him that he would not be coming home after his night class today, the celestial raised his head with his eyes still half-closed and lips jutted out, “What? Why?” he whined and laid his head on Jae’s lap, mumbling something incoherent under his breath and opened his eyes a bit more to see the other male, “Can’t you come home? I miss you… if you want me to pick you up, I can do that. I don’t have work tomorrow too remember? There’s no need for you to stay in the dorms…” Han didn’t like Jae staying there, and the dhampir knows it. 

You could say he was more than a little conflicted about what he should do, there was a part of him that wanted to finally tell the truth and then worry about dealing with the rest later but there was another who knew he should be smart, his parents might have less influence here but they could still pull money from him and leave him to be financially dependent which could certainly make things complicated. He loved the life he had right now with Han and he didn’t want anything to jeopardize that, losing him was one of the dhampir’s biggest fears.

Jae sighed softly when Han seemed surprised by the announcement that he wouldn’t be coming home and Jae felt the pangs of guilt in his chest, there was nothing he wanted more than to be able to figure this out, he felt like no matter what he did he upset someone “I have to have the zoom call with my parents” he murmured softly, because of the time difference it always ended up being late at night when he would join the call, too late to be heading back through the city to get home “Han…” he murmured softly, the celestial was hard to resist when he was pouting like that and spitting out all the offers he could think of to keep him home.

“You know they can’t see the background here...they’ll know I’m not at the dorms” and once that question was asked, others would quickly follow, ones Jae didn’t want to answer because he was scared of what would happen when they knew. His father hated the fact Jae had chosen to study English, what the hell would he do when he found out his son was in a gay relationship, a serious one at that.

Han might have forgotten the entire thing going on between Jae and his parents, perhaps he got too comfortable and forgot the implications that would fall on the dhampir. It wasn't until today that he was reminded that Jae still hasn't told his parents about his relationship with the celestial, especially to his controlling father who would no doubt give him a piece of his mind upon finding out the truth that the youngest Moon has been hiding from him for a long time. Also, he might have gotten more whiny because he just came back from his work where he had to spend a week away from his boyfriend, barely being able to get on call much less facetime because he was either too busy overseeing the research or he was tired and fell asleep as soon as he clocked out. 

"Zoom call your parents…" he mumbled silently, how could he forget? He glanced over their room and sighed, the background would give out that Jae wasn't staying in his dorm and in someone else's room for sure. Since his parents knew what his room probably looked like, it was hard to fool them here. Still, that didn't mean Han wasn't pouting after expressing how upset he was that Jae wouldn't be here tonight with him when he wanted his comfort. "Jae… when are we going to tell them? How long do we have to hide this?" He was still pouting but the way he looked at Jae was like a puppy who just got kicked, asking for some food in return. "I don't mean to pressure you into telling them but… it's been a while… we're entering our second year of our relationship too, are you sure we can delay this any longer?" 

He didn't want to tell Jae how hurt he feels that he still had to struggle with the fact that he'll be someone hidden in his life; someone he had to keep as a secret from his family. "If Eun didn't come to Evermore… would you have told him?" Perhaps he was being insensitive but the exhaustion was taking a toll on the celestial who had to tell Jae what he felt, he couldn't bottle them up or else he would explode and he didn't want that. "I promised to tell you everything so forgive me for saying this… I just had to get it off my chest. It's not just the relationship baby" he moved closer and cupped his face, thumb brushing against his cheeks gently, "Do they even know their son has someone he loves? Regardless of his gender? Or your sexuality?" 

Jae nibbled on his bottom lip and sighed softly, it wasn’t the first time they’d talked about this and it seemed to go around in circles quite a lot because Jae struggled between his loyalty to his family back home and the person he had fallen head over heels for, he knew choosing one would mean losing the other and so he kept prolonging the choice. His eyes softened as he looked back at the star, seeing the upset in his eyes which made the dhampir’s chest lurch a little “ don’t know my father...there is no way I can imagine telling him...ever ending well” he spoke in a quiet voice, he hated letting him down, he hated being the one to obstacles between them and their happiness.

He took a deep breath when Han asked him if he would have told Eun if he hadn’t come to Evermore “I don’t know...he’s under so much pressure back in Korea...asking him to lie to my father hardly seems fair...he already protects me so much” and there was only so long he could keep doing that, Jae knew it was a timer that was one day going to run out. Jae had taken a part time job at a hotel in Evermore to offset some of his financial reliance and it was enough to pay rent to Han but it left very little for anything else.

Jae closed his eyes, feeling soothed by Han’s touch against his face, he didn’t want to move from here, he didn’t want to leave Han at any point if he was honest, he hated going to the dorm and sleeping alone “No…” he spoke softly “And they keep suggesting the’re going to find me a wife” he sighed under his breath, as though Eun’s arranged marriage wasn’t enough. “What am I supposed to do? I can’t afford my student loans alone” he sighed and closed his eyes for a moment.

This has been going on for quite a while, even when they first started their relationship. Han knew he told Jae he was fine if he wanted to keep their relationship a secret but he had no idea it would hurt this much. He was fine in the first year, he had thought that perhaps Jae required more time, it wasn't easy to come to terms with things like this with your parents living in a conservative world. But the fact that they are entering their second year made him wonder if Jae will continue to hide it until he graduates. "You've told me about your father, Jae… and I know it's… somewhat hard but I just don't want us to keep going back in the circles talking about things we know won't change. I feel like it'll be pointless every single time" at some point, Han didn't want to talk about it anymore. He's sensitive and it was to be expected that he would act like this. 

"Are you afraid, Jae? Of him? Or of what he would do once he finds out that you're in a relationship with me and made your own choices without telling him?" Because to Han, it seemed like Jae was playing on both scales but leaning more towards the latter. "If you're afraid he'd cut you off financially… I'm here. I'm not trying to pay for everything but I took up that promotion for a reason, baby… even if it meant I had to go back and forth to Denver every once in a while with extra workload. I want to be able to provide for you and Sunmin. You can pay me back later" he knows jae is independent and that's why he paid rent to him and whatnot, which Han adored that part of him. But he didn't want Jae to push himself and think he has no one to help him if his parents cut him off. "Eun chose to do it, he's your brother. And he's been in that position where he follows your father's instructions for a long time… he'll do what he thinks is right either way." 

He had to admit his heart broke at the mention of them wanting him to marry, "You're still in college… why are they rushing into this when Eun hasn't even married yet…" he grumbled and pressed a kiss on his lips briefly before pulling away with his hands still cupping the dhampir's face, "I can help you… you said you're working part time right? Consider taking a loan out of me, I know you don't want me to pay for you so take a loan out of me and pay back at a designated rate. I don't earn that much because I'm still in a junior position but the promotion would double my pay and my allowance would depend on my paper. I can help you Jae… so please let me help you. I can't help you with your parents but I can ease your struggle with everything else." He was practically begging at this point. 

Jae looked back at Han with vulnerable eyes which probably spoke more about his relationship with his father than he knew how to put into words. His father was never violent towards his children but he was strict to the point he was cruel, he would expect them to exceed in everything they did and if they failed he wouldn’t be hesitant to punish them. He did things in subtle ways that chipped away at someone’s confidence and made them doubt themselves and what they stood for “I know I’ve told you but it’s hard for someone to understand what it’s feel his disappointed gaze...unless you’ve experienced it yourself” he could make you doubt your whole existence and every choice you’ve ever made with one stare.

“Yes...I’m afraid he will try to turn people against us” he commented softly “My mom...Han he’ll try to stop me from seeing her” his gaze softened a little in sadness from the thought, he got to see his mom every so often in their calls and she seemed more frail each time, he missed her so much. “I want to say he doesn’t have power over me but I’m not sure I’m as brave as I paint myself to be” he confessed with a soft voice. It was money that was the main thing his father threw around, along with his pull within the community which meant they would struggle to find a job without his help “It’s not fair to him to give up everything he wants just to protect me” he commented in a soft voice, Jae felt more and more guilty about it the longer he saw how happy Eun was here in Evermore.

“I have this….flaw where I want to make everyone around me’s killing me knowing no matter what I do...I can’t...I never mean to let you down Han” he murmured softly, either he would hurt Han by making this a secret or he would hurt his family. “Because my father sees us as pawns he can use to gain power and get what he wants, he doesn’t care about our dreams” he murmured softly, that was why Han was so different to Jae, all he ever wanted was the best for the dhampir and it was honestly so foreign but so welcome. “You would do that for me?” he spoke softly when the star told him he could take a loan out on him, honestly Jae hated to be a burden on anyone but he knew he didn’t have many other options, for as long as his father was paying for him, he had to follow his rules “Does us...being public, really mean that much to you?” he murmured softly as he stared back at the star.

Jae always told him stories about his father and Han would always end up hugging him telling how he doesn't deserve to grow up in what seemed to be a toxic environment like that. His father clearly promoted competition and what he wants, he gets. He didn't know just how far his power stretches outside their household but it does seem like the patriarch of the Moon family has more than enough connections in the community. He didn't want Jae to lose his self esteem and it was hurtful to see the dhampir scurry over the corner at the sudden mention of his father. How was he supposed to help him then? He couldn't just intervene in his family matters directly like this, all the celestial could offer is his shoulder and himself should Jae need to lend them. But seeing as this was chipping away everything that makes Jae him, Han felt like he had to do something more. 

His eyes softened upon hearing the most important thing ever; his mother. He has heard from Eun who was only following things for her too. "He can't… do that forever, can he? You are her son, you have every right to go see her, and Eun must have known that too. Both of you are happy here in Evermore and surely your happiness weighs more." He pulled the dhampir close and laid Jae's head against his chest as he stroked his hair gently, "It's fine to admit you're not strong enough to face things alone, Jae. Not everyone has that bravery, you'd know that… You know how much of a coward I used to be. Use me… I'm here to help you in whatever way you think is necessary. Whatever you need." He could understand why Jae felt inclined to help Eun too, considering how the elder Moon has been trying to protect him even now. "He's happy here, isn't he? We shouldn't meddle with his affairs with Leigh… I'm sure Eun will find a way and you, you have to find a way too baby. Or else this will eventually break us."

It infuriates him to know that Jae's father never seemed to look past his own ego and bubble to see what he's imposing and projecting on his children are making them suffer. No parent should have done that to their own offsprings. It was just wrong. "Of course, I would. I'm your partner, Jae. If I don't help you, then what does that make me? Besides, you have helped me more than you should, you were there for me the entire time, you were patient with me." He looked at him straight in the eye and brushed his thumb against his cheeks softly, "You took care of me…" Panic attacks, the night terrors, everything he went through, Jae was there to help him. "It's not us being public… I just don't want you to feel constricted, you deserve to be free and enjoy your youth. I don't want you to second guess things and look behind your back every 5 minutes. You don't deserve that. And well… yeah, I would love to see you not having to struggle to hide our relationship to others. As much as it hurts me, I know it hurts you too."

Jae was glad that the two of them could talk about this in their safe space, he felt like he could share anything with Han and they would be able to figure it out somehow. That’s how it felt to be us against the world right? The dhampir wanted to believe in that, that the two of them were strong enough to make it through whatever the world threw at them “He’s…powerful Han” he spoke in soft words “Not just with how scary he can be but with how persuasive he can act...people fall for his charms without even blinking” he nestled closer to the star’s chest, closing his eyes as he basked in the comfort he brought him “And she might not understand either...back in Korea it’s not...accepted to be with someone of the same gender” he murmured the words sadly.

“I’m not” he spoke softly when Han said it was okay to admit he wasn’t strong enough to do this alone “Every time I think about what might happen I feel like I’m going to fall to pieces” he whispered softly and sighed gently “I don’t want to lose you...or disappoint you” he commented in a meek voice, he felt like he was already letting his family down, if he crossed this line what was to stop him from causing the same to Han. What happened to him if that happened? What would he have left then? “No!” he exclaimed in an emotional voice when Han said eventually they’d break, his voice cracked halfway and he felt tears welling in his eyes. He realized just how scared he was of losing Han, the worry only grew in his chest.

Jae watched him with a concerned gaze as Han explained the way he saw things, how he felt about Jae and what he thought he owed to him. His expression softened a little as he stared back at him. He hadn’t even realized but his body had started to tremble a little under Han’s touch “No one has ever believed in me as much as you do” he spoke softly, Eun was certainly a close second but Han was the one practically advocating for Jae’s dreams right now “I don’t want you to feel like I’m a burden on you” he murmured softly “I know that you love me...that much I’m certain’s a lot of commitment Han...are you sure that’s what you want?” Jae fully intended to pay him back every penny of course but it would take him time to get there and there might be hiccups along the way.

Han used to whine about their feelings and while he was still very much emotional about how things are going, he didn't want to add more weight to Jae's situation. That would make him incredibly irresponsible. He's his boyfriend, shouldn't he be here to support the dhampir through everything? When he falls, shouldn't he be there to help him back up and patch his wound? That's how it should be, that's how it was for him. The fear of not being accepted for who you are by someone you loved, he could understand how that feels like even though he wasn't in the position. "She loves you, does she not? She's your mother, the one who gave birth to you… you are her son, baby. Her love for you will overpower the stigma in the society she lives in… have you thought of… texting her about it first? Talk about it? No, right? How would you know if she would turn you away?" 

From what he has heard, it was all about his father and the fear of being turned away by their beloved mother but there was no actual or direct mention from the woman herself. What if she wouldn't mind? "My mother… despite not being my birth mother, loved me… and she knew I wasn't normal but she loved me anyway, up until her illness took over her. A mother's love is strong, Jae…" he is positive she would understand if Jae could talk to her. Han stroked his hair softly and sighed, "If you let me help you instead of pushing me away from this matter, I won't be disappointed in you Jae. Just trust me… to help you with this. Lean on me." He would rather fail to help and not be in the dark knowing nothing. Upon hearing him yell out no, Han frowned and soothed him some more. He saw the tears welling up and that made the celestial kiss his forehead while he still hugged him.

"We have gone through plenty, Jae. We even broke up because of trust issues… I want us to be stronger, to always come back stronger from every single obstacle we face. But I can't do it alone, I need you with me." Jae was trembling under his touch and it broke his heart to see how broken he feels in this situation, how he wished he could mend his heart and everything else. "You will never be a burden to me… look at me, Jae" he made the dhampir face him directly with his hands still cupping his face, "You are my partner. Good or bad, vice or flaw… you're still the person I accepted the day I fell for you. You will never be a burden to me, how could you when you are my other half? This life… before you, I never knew what I could do aside from surviving. You made me want to live my life happily forever, baby." He smiled softly and traced his lips absentmindedly, "I know my responsibilities as your partner. I need to provide for my brother now too, and you, you will always be in the equation. There's no me without you… so tell me what you need."

Jae was happy about how much the two of them had grown in the time they had been together and how they both now felt free to be able to talk about the way they felt about something without fear of judgment. Still, it didn’t made Jae feel any less bad for hurting him, that was something he hated to do given how much he cared about him “There’s no way you can know how she’ll feel about it” he commented, feeling his lip trembling at the thought of how she could react, Jae had always been very much his mother’s son, they’d always been close and it scared him knowing that she might be disappointed in him “I can’t tell her without him finding out” he spoke softly in a defeated voice, he couldn’t see any way around having to confess to his father.

Jae’s tired eyes reopened as he gazed at Han while the star talked about his own mother and how she took care of him “But is it strong enough to turn away from my father’s choices?” there was no doubt in his mind that his father would do everything he could to try and ruin what he had with Han, he would try and find ways to force his son into coming home, he would pull what ever string he could get his hands on to lead to the result he wanted. “I don’t want to push you away…” he spoke in a soft voice “I’m just scared Han...what if I lose everyone...I can’t lose you too” the dhampir might act like he is strong but there were certainly times when he didn’t feel it. It felt like the foundation he was standing on is crumbling slowly.

Jae took a deep shaky breath as Han leaned in to kiss his forehead, his eyes fluttering closed for just a moment as he took in the moment “I’m not going anywhere...I’ve never been so sure of anything than my love for you” he murmured softly, he truly didn’t know how he be without the star, they shared their life now, he felt like a part of his belonged to Han now and in turn Han had give him a part of himself too. Jae was embarrassed to look at him after admitting he felt like a burden but when Han cupped his face he opened his teary eyes to look back at him “I never expected to feel this way about anyone” he murmured softly as he stared back at him.

He swore his heart was doing little flips in his chest while his eyes filled with tears when Han spoke such deep and meaningful words that touched him. He paused for a moment just to process it all “How badly I want to be your equal” he murmured softly “But’s okay if I ask for a little bit more….only for a little while” which was Jae’s way of saying he was ready to lean on Han just a little bit more “I just need you here...after everything” he had to admit he was scared though.

Han was upset to know that the whole progress and growth they have experienced over the past year was about to be for nothing should Jae choose not to tell his parents the truth about his current living arrangements and most importantly; their relationship. But upon seeing how much this was also affecting the dhampir, he knew he had to be understanding. Jae has always been there for him whenever he faced trouble, even when he whines about a lot of things. He couldn't abandon him now, it's not right. He's a strong person but he can try. "There's no way you can know how she'll feel about it too, that makes the two of us, Jae. That's just it, we won't know until we've seen it ourselves…" Whatever goes to his mother would not be unnoticed from his father which meant he had to go through both. "Then… tell him too" he mumbled softly, it would have almost been inaudible if Jae wasn't so near. 

"Your father's choices… are his and his alone. I'm sure your mother still has her own autonomy to know which is right and wrong. Right now, perhaps she thought it was the best thing for all and that you were going along with it? Would your mother really force your brother to leave the person he chose just to fulfill the dreams of him marrying someone they chose? Fully knowing he would be unhappy? Unlike what your parents had?" Han had an inkling that Jae's parents love each other, it wasn't an arranged marriage, not like what's going on with Eun, so there must be some conscience in that. "You won't lose me" he reassured and kissed his forehead softly, "whatever happens… I'm not going to leave you baby… you're my partner, my soulmate… the only person I will ever fall in love for. How can I leave you knowing how hard things are going to get for you too? Didn't I tell you I'll take responsibility hm?" He cooed while brushing away the stray strands of his hair so Jae could face him better. 

It feels like everything was right when he heard that from him. Hearing Jae say nothing has ever been more sure than his love for him, what could be better than that love declaration when he's so vulnerable? "And I you" he pressed his forehead against him and continued to stroke his face gently, he didn't want him to go down this road while suffering. Seeing him teary eyed made his heart lurch and not in a good way, he brought his thumbs to wipe the tears away again, "I never expected to love someone like this either baby… but here we are." He could understand why Jae wanted to be his equal, who wouldn't want that? Especially given how independent the dhampir is? Even Han didn't want to depend on anyone financially. "That's right, Jae… it's fine to ask for a little bit more. And of course I will still be here throughout everything. I'm going to be here and my arms will always be open for you. So if you need to cry, then cry my little tiger…" 

It was never about Han, it was never about the fact that he was ashamed of their relationship or that he didn’t love him enough to bring him home, it was about the way his father was wired and the looks he knew the two of them would get. Jae had been raised by the man for his entire life and he knew how he would react, his father was a strict man who got his way, regardless of who he pushed around to get it. Jae knew he had this picture-perfect life planned in his head and he also knew it would be shattered the moment he realized his son was gay. “I know that we can’t...know...but that doesn’t make me any less scared of the worst” he murmured softly, he wasn’t sure if his heart could hope with knowing his mother couldn’t understand his choices either.

Jae swore his heart clenched when Han spoke those words so softly, almost like it was a silent wish to finally be free of these chains they kept having to put on. Jae hated being the one to do this to Han, he hated to hurt him, he was the person he cared for most. “My mother is frail...she’s human and her health is... “ he didn’t finish it because it wasn’t the first time they’d talked about his mom and so Han understood the situation “What if she doesn’t have the energy to stand against him” he murmured softly, he couldn’t really blame her for wanting to avoid conflict. “She told me before I left that she wants me to be happy...god knows that’s the reason I haven’t run back there…” though a good son should have done that.

Jae felt reassured by Han’s words though and he leaned in against the soft kiss he pressed to his skin, he felt his chest swell a little when Han spoke those words to him “Saying you will and….actually doing so are different things” he murmured softly as he stared into the star’s doe eyes, he saw nothing but love for him. Which only made the dhampir tear up even more “I must have saved a whole village in a past life to be lucky enough to have you” he confessed in a soft voice as he took a few deep breaths. Han had offered him a lifeline, he only had to be brave enough to take it. When the star kept trying to wipe his tears away he allowed a sad smile to cross his lips “Maybe your fate was right and we were supposed to meet each other” he spoke in a small voice.

He pressed his head against Han’s shoulder gently “I know I always seem...brave” he spoke softly as his arms came to wrap around him “But I’m so scared of losing people” he whispered softly, a few tears slipping as he cuddled against him “But I have to do what’s right for me...even if it hurts others” otherwise he was basically living a lie wasn’t he.

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