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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.
This wasn't him being embarrassed over his relationship with the celestial, it's the potential hurtful judgment that will be passed from his own father. Having known about the patriarchy that runs deep in the dhampir's family, Han knew his father was a powerful figure, and influential to the core. And he wasn't a villain either… he was just… stuck in his own ways, not wanting to see reason beyond everything else. That's how he sees it. Unfortunately, this doesn't make it any easier to get through this even with countless excuses. What could he do apart from consoling and comforting his partner?
"We always have to prepare for the worst… in everything" he reassured and stroked his arms gently, Han's voice was soft, he didn't want to pressure Jae but this had to be done. They have been delaying the inevitable for a while now. Too long. And yes, he didn't want to doubt their relationship even if that's not what's actually going on. The celestial couldn't help it, he's a naturally paranoid person who has been through plenty to warrant that behavior, but a single doubt about Jae willing to cast him aside for his family never stopped haunting his head. He had to get rid of that. "Do not underestimate a mother's love for her children, Jae" he wrapped his hand over Jae's and brushed his thumb against his knuckle, "She will know what to do. We can't decide that for her and I cannot speak for her either… you can't expect others to follow the same route as you but you owe it to yourself to see this through. It's your responsibility."
The fallen star knew Jae wanted to visit his mother more than anything but going back to Seoul meant his father will have all the reach he wanted to keep him bound there. It was too much of a risk. "Then believe in her… if she told you she wants you to be happy then she will accept this. Have a little faith in your mother, Jae. She wouldn't like to hear you don't think she could handle this…" With the dhampir leaning more into his touch, Han took the opportunity to engulf him entirely and sighed softly, he hated this. He hated seeing Jae so upset. He was at the verge of breaking down and Han didn't want to see that happening. "Well, I went through a lot to get to you eventually… so it goes for both of us" he tried to lighten up the mood with a joke and a smile but then stroked Jae's hair. "I'll be worth it, Jae. I'll make sure I'm worth all of this for you."
Jae has never been one to believe in fate, unlike the star, who is still in his own little world believing in things such as destiny and fate. So hearing this from him made his heart swell. "You do have to do what's right for you, Jae. You don't have to do this for me… but I won't lie to you and say I don't wish you would. Because that period is far behind us already, we promised to not lie to each other… to always help the other. To be each other's pillar so you can believe in me to stay here by your side always… so tell me, what do you need me to do?"
Jae looked down for a moment and let out a soft sad breath “We shouldn’t have to when it comes to family” the idea Jae had of family was very different to his father’s. Perhaps his view had been skewed by being here and seeing the happy families but he believed it was about supporting one another and putting happiness first. Honestly, Jae never had all that much interest in money or power, he just wanted to be happy. The dhampir glanced down at Han’s hand in his when he brushed against it and nodded “But also a wife’s love for her husband” he murmured softly, she had always gone along with what his father said after all.
He wanted to believe in her though, he knew his mother, she was always the one who coddled him when he was younger, she was the one who always asked about the stories he was writing and he suspected she was the one who had talked his father into letting him to come here to study “She has so much to worry about already…” he murmured softly, her frail health was certainly taxing on her and yet every time he talked to her she would smile and tell him not to worry too much. Jae laughed through his tears “That’s an understatement” he murmured thinking how Han had been through so much in his life up until the moment they met. “You’re already worth it” he whispered softly against the star’s neck.
Who else would offer to support him the way Han just did? Without even a second thought, it honestly made his heart flutter a little, even though he was sad right now. “It’s so hard to figure out what’s best…” he spoke softly and pressed his lips together. But one thing that he was sure about was that being with Han felt right. The star made him feel happier than he had ever been in his life and he wanted to hold onto that feeling with both hands. “Could you...make those pancakes you made the other day?” he spoke softly “I’ll use the office to…” he was going to make the call and get it over with. Then he could begin to move forward.
He frowned and swore his eyes softened even more when he heard Jae say that. He was right, family shouldn't be like that. One shouldn't have to feel so conflicted about their family like this, it's not right. Aren't they supposed to be your safe place? What happens when that is broken? Who would you go to next? He knew Jae had him, his boyfriend, to keep up supporting him, but family is different… it wasn't a bond he could sever nor was it something he could interfere easily. "I'm sorry…" he couldn't help but apologize, he felt like a part of this was his fault. Should he not have pressured the poor dhampir? He didn't want to see him hurt like this but a part of him also knew this had to be done one way or another. Or else Jae will never move past this issue even after graduating. Han was scared too; scared of losing Jae. "I don't know what to say because a wife's love for her husband is something… a spouse's love for their significant other is not something you can argue about."
That's why he was insanely protective over the younger Moon. He had hoped that Mama Moon would side with her children this time. God he needed her to. The fallen star could feel his breath against his skin as his lips brushed against his neck, making him shiver because it felt so intimate and… vulnerable. Jae is incredibly vulnerable right now and he cannot handle this at all. "I deserve some happiness now and you… you're that. You're my happiness. And I won't ever exchange that for anything else." That's a promise. "If you find me worthy of your affection and love then I guess I'll have to believe in myself the same way too." He could be a self destructive person sometimes and the celestial is still learning how to work his emotions, but it hasn't been easy because while he wasn't too young, he didn't have any exposure to the world as much as he would like to wish he had.
It was different when you had to run from your predators, the world didn't look pretty then. Honestly, he was surprised when Jae suddenly mumbled something about pancakes, specifically him making those pancakes the dhampir has a preference for. "Yes… of course. Butter, syrup and jam?" He got up but not before kissing him on the lips passionately and comfortingly, caressing his cheeks gently before making his way to the kitchen. "You're not alone Jae… tell me if you need anything more. Call for me… use the south side of the room facing the desk… the lighting is good there." He hesitated momentarily as he picked out the ingredients from the cabinet and fridge.
Jae took in a shaky breath when Han spoke about deserving happiness and that he was his definition of happiness, he allowed a small smile to cross his lips, he remembered a time when Han had struggled to see much happiness at all in the world and he was proud of how far he had come but it reminded the dhampir of how stuck he felt himself “We’re always trying to show one another….what we see” he spoke softly, he saw so much good in Han, so many things about him that he loved dearly. Jae could tell Han was surprised by his ask for pancakes but he was thankful that the star seemed to understand what he was saying “My favorite” he spoke softly “The blueberry jam we got from the market the other day?” Jae loved blueberries a lot.
He was looking for strength in any corner he could find it right now so he was thankful when Han came in closer and pressed a kiss to his lips, his eyes fluttered closed as he returned Han’s kiss, leaning into his touch and trying to stabilize himself from his touch “Will do” he spoke softly before watching Han head out of their room and down to the kitchen. He took a deep breath and got to his feet and headed into the office, closing the door behind him and opening his laptop. He took a deep breath, getting himself together before setting up the call and dialing his father’s account.
It was about 30 minutes later that Jae finally closed the lid of his laptop. He just stared into space for a moment as he tried to comprehend what had transpired during the call. He wasn’t really sure how to feel, perhaps angry that they couldn’t accept or understand the person he was now. Scared because of the threats that were made...how silent his mother had been the whole time...of feeling like the security he had known had crumbled under him. But mostly he felt sad because he couldn’t understand how his family could turn their back on him so easily. He leaned his head down against the laptop and closed his eyes, taking deep breaths and trying to stop himself from crying.
He'll be truthfully honest, he found it hard to get out of the room. He couldn't bring himself to even stand up much less take another step away to get out when he was thinking about making the pancakes Jae requested, which Han also knew to be a signal that Jae wanted to be alone as he did what needs to be done. Doesn't make it any easier for Han to leave his boyfriend to go through this alone. He even stared at him with a sad look before exiting the room and heading down to the kitchen to prepare the pancakes. The entire time he was downstairs, all the celestial could think of was how upset and hard this must be for the dhampir. Han wondered what Jae was feeling upstairs as he tries to convince his parents that he's happy here and that they should be happy for him instead of the opposite.
Would it work to their favor? Very unlikely considering how stern and stubborn the dhampir's father is. The only thing he hoped for is that it wouldn't impact Jae as much. He couldn't stand seeing him all sad and crying. A couple of minutes went by and Han had the pancakes stacked with the blueberry jam Jae requested as he placed the plate on the tray, putting two glasses of orange juice on the side and carried the tray with him. Somehow the steps felt heavier the closer he was to his office because he had a feeling it would be hard to see how he was doing. You have to comfort him, Han, he told himself. That's his responsibility.
Balancing the tray with one hand, he knocked against the door a few times before slowly edging inside after peeking his head in. He noticed the slumped figure and placed the tray on the desk before heading over to where Jae was at and hugged him from the left side, pressing his lips against the dhampir's neck while his hand rubbed him softly, "It's okay… I'm here… I'm not going to leave you." What could he say to possibly make it better? "I'm sorry…" If he didn't push Jae… perhaps this could've been avoided. He didn't even have to ask how it went considering how he's currently down like that. "Baby? Talk to me…" he whispered.
As he laid there with his head pressed against the desk he took a moment to just gather his thoughts and process everything that had happened in the last while. His father had been angry to say the least, asking how his son could be such a disappointment, threatening to cut him off financially if he didn’t stop this nonsense. He hadn’t wanted to meet Han, in fact he didn’t even say his name once, instead he kept referring to him as ‘that man’ which only made Jae more upset throughout the whole ordeal.
He hadn’t even noticed he’d started sobbing as he tried to wrangle the thoughts in his mind and the feelings that were attached to them. He couldn’t stop that creeping feeling that he feared, telling him that he was a failure in his parent’s eyes. He ran a hand through his hair and let out a loud sob. He didn’t even hear Han come in because he had been too wrapped up in his thoughts but the moment the celestial hugged him he crumbled, turning towards him so he could wrap his arms around him and bury his head against the star’s chest “He said I was a disappointment” he cried softly against Han’s chest.
“My real self...is a disappointment” he sniffed back his tears and closed his eyes, gripping against the star for dear life as he struggled for breath between his tears. He could smell the sweet scent of the pancakes Han had made from across the room and that was the thing he grounded himself on, taking a few shaky breaths as he tried to calm himself down before finally lifting his gaze to meet the star’s. His eyes were red and puffy from where he had been crying “At least...we are finally free” he murmured in a soft voice, it was all for love. The person in front of him meant everything and more to him.
He was pretty reluctant to enter the room at first. The entire time that he spent in the kitchen trying to make sure the pancakes look as soft as he used to make them, he could only think about what Jae might be going through. There's no way he could relate to any of that and honestly, Han is not that good at consoling if he has no recollection of things. Still, it didn't mean he didn't want to try. He did promise to stand by him throughout everything after all. The door creaked as he pushed it open slightly before making his way towards the dhampir, placing the tray on the desk as he embraced his partner, stroking his hair gently and allowing him to cry his heart out. "You're not… you're not a disappointment, Jae" he reprimanded sternly and shook his head.
Han brought his thumb up to wipe the tears away and pulled him closer, "You're an extraordinary man… that's what you are. Never a disappointment. He just couldn't see it because he has never paid attention to you enough to see through everything else…" Jae told him before the kind of life he led back home and the fallen star initially couldn't understand how one could just turn a blind eye to their offspring like that. "Your real self is beautiful…" he cooed softly and pressed his lips against his forehead, "You are beautiful, Jaesung Moon. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise…" He pressed his lips into a thin line momentarily and sighed, he couldn't bear to see him upset like this, knowing fully well that this is breaking his heart and tearing him apart. "I will never betray this love, baby… I will make you proud. I will take care of you and we'll live our life happily the way we pictured."
He took a few tissues on his left side from the box on top of the desk and used it to wipe his tears clean before pulling him up so he could lead him to the couch instead. With his arm still wrapped around the male, Han pushed him down on the soft cushion as he too, sat. "I hope the smell of the pancakes I diligently made for you is creeping into your heart…" He didn't want to make him upset anymore and since pancakes are one of Jae's comfort foods, then he should indulge in his desires. He cut a piece and pierced it with a fork, spreading some jam on it before showing it in front of him, beckoning him to open his mouth.
He felt like all the air had disappeared like his chest and he couldn’t breathe between the sobs he was letting out, it was so hard for him to process everything that had happened in such a short time and his whole body was shaking from the built up anxiety that was coursing through him. He naturally melted into Han’s touch the moment he hugged him, seeking comfort in the celestial. How badly he wished it had gone better and he’d been able to hold himself together, he wanted to be brave when embracing the person he was, not the crumbling mess he was right now.
He sniffed and tried to hold back tears when the two of them parted and he tried to look Han in the eyes as he spoke to him but his lip quivered a little and he was holding back the urge to sob again as he looked back at him “He’s never understood anything about me...always trying to make me be someone I’m not” he spoke in a soft defeated tone “All I ever tried to be was enough” he expressed and reached up to wipe his eyes with his sleeve. He reached for Han’s hand to hold in his for comfort while closing his eyes when the star pressed a kiss to his forehead “What’s so wrong with me wanting to be happy” he murmured as he squeezed Han’s hand a little tighter, the star was his happiness and he didn’t ever want to let him go.
“Thank you” he spoke in a soft voice “For always loving the real me and never...asking me to be anyone else” he was one of the very few in his life and it honestly meant the world to him to know the person he loved, loved him back in equal parts, exactly the way he was. He nuzzled closer to Han as though he couldn't bear to let him go and he glanced down at the pancakes the star had worked hard to make him. “You know how much I love your pancakes” he murmured softly, honestly it was the love Han put into making them that made them so special. He looked up at him before leaning toward to bite the piece of pancake off the fork before chewing it and swallowing, smiling softly before leaning against Han’s shoulder “You take good care of me” he whispered softly.
He soothed him gently and whispered in his ear to tell him how everything is going to get better and that he'll help him with every step of the way should he need him to do so. He didn't want to impose on him, but he wanted to help. The fallen star learned about boundaries plenty of times and he knew how to utilise the knowledge now. The look Jae spared him once he looked up did break his heart though, he'll say that. How badly he wants to put a smile on that face again. "You are enough, baby… you have always been enough. No, you are always more than enough and like I said, anyone who couldn't see that is a fool, even if he is your father." No matter who they are to the dhampir, Han doesn't care, his respect and patience can only go so far, especially when they would be disrespectful and dismiss his dhampir's suffering.
When his grip on him grew tighter, Han sighed and hummed softly against him while stroking his thumb against his knuckle, "Misery loves company… especially those who would have the chance to be happy like this. But those days will soon pass and you'll look back at it one day and think… you made it through. You'll find your future with more beautiful days because you know the last thing you wanted is to go back on that dark muddy path." He smiled and pressed his lips against the dhampir's softly while his free hand stroked his hair, "Why would I ask you to be someone else? I love all of you, I love that guy who tripped on me at the park… who kissed me and taught me love when I had no idea what it entailed. Jae, baby you have been so patient with me, now it's my turn to return the favor."
A soft chuckle escaped him when Jae said he loved his pancakes, "Oh you know I'm a good cook and all, happy to feed my boyfriend, aren't you lucky to have someone who knows his way around in the kitchen, hm?" He nudged his side playfully, attempting to lighten up the dampened mood from earlier. He was careful to gauge his reaction to the pancake, wondering if it was as fluffy as it usually was, so he was satisfied when Jae leaned against him happily while chewing on it, "You're my boyfriend, I have to take good care of you. If I don't, then who would? I should be the number one for you, and you should be my priority. Always. You'll never stop being my number one, Jae."
He chewed his bottom lip and came up with an idea, "You know what? Let's have a movie day, I can make those caramel popcorn we love, and even sandwiches. We can chill with the dogs while watching movies in the living room. I would love to take you out on a date but I don't think you want to get out today. Tell me what you want to eat and I'll cook it."
Jae honestly didn’t know how he would ever have the courage to tell his parents the truth if it wasn’t for Han right by his side, the star made him feel grounded and safe, even when his mind wondered if the world was going to fall apart around him, he knew Han wasn’t going to let him fall apart and that was the reassurance he needed. “I want to be enough” he spoke in a weak voice between his sniffles as he pressed his face against Han’s shoulder and tried to catch his breath “I just don’t understand how happiness can ever be...wrong” he spoke softly, he believed in him and Han, he believed in what they were building here. Their life.
He was glad the star was about to be calm and rational for him but also distract him from what had happened, Jae didn’t want to go over every single word in his head time and time again or wonder if there was something he could have said or done differently to make them understand. It hurt too much to think about what he might have lost so instead he wanted to focus on what he had gained. “Alll I’ve ever tried to be is happy” he spoke softly, he tried to be enough in his father’s eyes but it was impossible to reach his standards, he held them too high and even when you veered close he would move the goalposts further away “I’m just...always scared that I’ll let someone down” he expressed in a soft voice, leaning into Han’s gentle touches “I care about other people...I care about making them happy” but he cared about Han most of all and he knew hiding them was hurting him.
“Very lucky” he commented in response to Han bigging up his pancakes, the star wasn’t wrong, he was an excellent cook and Jae never had to worry about going hungry or eating badly because the star never missed a beat when it came to all that “Sometimes I wonder what I’d even do without you” his tone was a little soppy and he meant it, Han had become such a pivotal person in his life that Jae found it impossible to picture a future for himself and not picture Han there too. Jae allowed a small smile to cross his lips as he snuggled in against Han’s chest and closed his eyes “I must have done something good in my past life to find you this soon” he commented basked for a moment in Han’s warmth.
Jae was a little surprised when Han spoke again but the very mention of caramel popcorn already had him excited, he bit his lip for a moment “Remember when we saw that post about making sundaes from every sweet thing you could find in the kitchen” they always kept plenty of ice cream and whipped cream and he was sure they had some sauces and other toppings they could use “Ice cream makes everything better right?” he got to his feet slowly, he was feeling a little weak but he was determined not to cry the whole day away.
Han sighed softly and stroked the dhampir's hair as if he wanted to comfort him, because he did, he had hoped that the pancakes he brought would be enough. For now, at least. He wondered what he could do more to cheer him up but a part of him felt as if he had forgotten about something altogether today. But what was it? The thoughts of recalling what it was slowly dissolved into thin air as he watched his boyfriend dig into the food. "Happiness is not wrong, people who tell you otherwise are just… miserable." While he was busy eating, Han stared from the side while stroking his hair gently, "I don't like seeing you sad. Which is logical because why would your boyfriend was to see you upset, right? Anyway… eat up and then we can do things you like, okay?" He didn't want to talk about his father either, not anymore.
"That's enough negativity and sadness today, baby" he pressed his lips against his forehead and ruffled his hair playfully. "What matters is your happiness, and honestly you make people around you happy too. You make me happy, you make Eun happy, I think that's enough testament." When he asked what would happen if he wasn't there, the celestial chuckled and nudged him, "Maybe burn the kitchen down? And get malnutrition from those instant noodles you'd be gobbling up? Kidding, I think you wouldn't be as miserable but meeting me was a lot better… right?" He likes to think he brought some type of difference to the dhampir's life. Something valuable to him. "You probably saved an entire country in your past life" he teased, "to gain a star like me."
He raised his eyebrows and shook his heard when he said he wanted to have every sweet thing mixed in the sundae, "You and your sweet tooth cannot be separated… but I like the idea. We have a lot we can use." Jae is not the only one who had a sweet tooth, Han, of all people, understood the struggle all too well. "Mhmm ice cream always makes everything better" he was about to get up so he could go and check if they had enough ingredients but then his phone rung and he noticed it was an alarm, with a note saying time to feed. He blanked for a moment before realizing what he had forgotten, "I think… I forgot about something…" he mumbled and went downstairs to unlock the room where Byul and Yeontan usually slept at.
In the box, was a sleeping golden retriever. "Oh-" he carried the sleeping puppy that stirred upon being lifted towards Jae, holding the golden puppy that had a ribbon tied around it, "I forgot I got you a gift." He had held the puppy out to Jae so it really does make the poor fluff tilt its head to stare at the dhampir. "I was going to surprise you… but I forgot."
Jae gazed back at Han while the other male spoke about his thoughts of happiness and he nodded slightly “I never occurred to me just how much time people have spent...trying to control my life and my choices” he bit his lip and nodded a little sadly, he just wanted to be able to make his own choices and live and learn from them, even if he was wrong, he should have the room to try anyway right? “I don’t like being sad...I want to be happy when I’m with you” he murmured softly as he leaned in closer against the star, not wanting to let him go, today Han was his anchor and he needed grounding.
Jae let out a slight laugh when Han ruffled his hair “I’m trying to see the bright side” he murmured softly, but he had to admit it was hard to process everything that happened and being sad was a natural reaction to it, still he could understand why Han wanted to make him smile and not wallow in the sadness of what happened. “I make you happy” Jae repeated and smiled softly “All I ever want to do is make you happy” he commented in a soft voice as he stroked Han’s cheek gently. “I have been pretty lucky to have a boyfriend who is such an excellent cook” he teased and grinned “But I also like instant noodles...it’s a shame you’re so against them” he commented and bit his lip.
Jae blushed slightly “You know...I wished that I could find you not long before I met you” he confessed and looked down at the ground “Back at the end of school...I remembered so many people getting into relationships and seeing how happy they were and I always kept…asking when I would get to experience that” so he had gone to the fountain that night before the park and tossed in a coin. “I wished I could meet my happiness…” and then he had stumbled over the other male drawing in the park. Jae was just opening all of the cupboards to take out everything sweet he could find when he heard Han’s alarm go off which made him frown “Did you forget to let the dogs out?” he commented watching as the other male headed down to open the door.
Yeontan and Byul came rushing out to greet him and he bent down to stroke Yeontan gently when he saw Han heading towards the box in the room, he edged closer to him out of curiosity before gasping when he saw the cute golden ball of fluff being held out to him. He didn’t even process what Han was saying because he was too busy staring at the puppy with soft, expressive eyes, his voice got a little higher naturally as he naturally reached to take the puppy “Who is this?” he asked in a shaky voice as he held the fluffball against his chest…”Is he ours?” he murmured in a surprised tone.