Ah, finally, a time skip. There was one before after Jiyong went back to Korea. Now we’re getting a time skip.
You know what needs to happen? Birthdays. This was supposed to be fallish. That means Kevin and Cat’s birthdays should be soon. That sounds perfect to use as a coming out to the public photo.
Ah… The comfort of absurdity.
Chapter 1: [SS: Writer’s Block]
Chapter 24: [SS: The Guys]
Time Moves Forward
Jiyong is a tornado while at home. Even his sleep cycle is cut down some. He’s seriously busy. I can watch him through a screen more than see him in person. Still I see him more now than I did over the previous month. Album drops require him.
Kevin twirls his bo staff in the living room. Jiyong did point out what needed to leave the room before we started this. He also wanted a proper video to watch later. Kevin is supposed to be asleep when Jiyong finally gets in. “It’s like he’s a ghost who visits at night.”
“Did you really think he was joking about the amount time this would cost him?” I hold up my phone to video. “He’ll have a break so we go over the paperwork with the lawyer.”
“When’s the tutor coming?” Kevin puts the bo staff down. A switch to form practice. He’ll need to find a dojang. As an American first degree black belt. He may need to be a red/black until he can prove that kukkiwon certificate matters. Lacking the language is a problem.
I glance at the clock. “An hour give or take.”
“Did you eat?”
“I should eat before they arrive.” I move into the kitchen.
“I wouldn’t mind something too.” Kevin looks focused. Language is the only barrier for him to finding a dojang. There’s probably one who would let him join. Although there is also the concern with our attachment. Why are we in Korea? Will it be a long while?
The paperwork tomorrow will make a difference. Fast track marriage starts there. We’ll need to get everything filled out. I requested a pre-nup. We need one. Jiyong has far too much for me to say anything else.
The tutor comes daily. Someone does anyway. It’s a mix between three separate tutors who help us fast track through the language. The lawyer, the paperwork, getting everything signed… I had no idea how easy and how difficult it would be. I follow their requirements.
Kevin joins a dojang before we’re here a month. He looks exhausted every time he returns home from it. But he agrees to go every time too. The exhaustion is worth it. We’re still not sure about schooling yet. American overseas can easily say they’re doing homeschool. It’s questions to still ask. Kevin needed a dojang. He wanted one. So we found one.
I visit with Doctor Kim as I should. This time I am using some Korean. Before the baby is born, I have fluency. I have to. I can’t function in Korea with just English.
By the time the chaos around the album calms down, I’m used to living in Jiyong’s world. Kinda. His home anyway. I manage everything easily within the home. I’m used to harder situations. I’m used to more difficult environments. I’m used to be yelled at for cleaning at the wrong times in the wrong ways.
Not once. I still unsure if I just haven’t found his triggers or if he doesn’t have them. There’s comfort and safety in his arms which I gain every night. I just may not be awake when he joins the bed.
Gaining friendships with those living here. It’s a different life. I am more restful. Everything is easier. Relief is my normal feeling.
I’m not used to it. I’m expecting chaos. I’m expecting someone to do something. I’m expecting the worst.
Nothing has shown its head.
“This is the best.” Jiyong whispers while holding me. He isn’t getting up at dawn. I’ll get up before him naturally now.
I shift so I can face him. His shows off those beautiful eyes of his. It has me nuzzling. “What is the best?”
“I’ve had this house for a while now. But it never felt like a home. No matter what I did to it, it just never…” Jiyong kisses my forehead. “I was missing a person not a thing.”
“Loneliness can hit hard.”
“Are you lonely?” Jiyong tugs me up. “You’re still spending more of your time inside this place. Shouldn’t we find a way for you to escape?”
“I’ve started social media again. I’m lying, but it’s more… Denying the truth. I’ll always see New Jersey as home, because that’s how everyone who lived there feels. It’s special.”
“Seoul is special too.”
“Seoul is your home. I am joining your home. I don’t mind it. I wouldn’t’ve come here if you weren’t here. As much as the people in New Jersey were generally troublesome. And most hated me for one reason or another, it was still home.”
Jiyong hugs me tighter. “I’m glad you agreed.”
“You are home, too. But I can’t tell the world I’m living in your world now.” I slip from his arms. “I spend my days doing things. I’ve learned every nook of your place through cleaning. I’ve reorganized anything that looked a mess. You never said anything.”
“It was probably something I was meaning to get to.” Jiyong shrugs watching me.
“I’ve figured out how to gain supplies and what to use them for. I’ve chatted with most of those living here. Which is weird. They know how to keep a secret, though.” I open the closet and pull out something. “I’ve made my clothes suit me more. You gave me no limits to acquiring new items, but… I had time, so I made them.”
Jiyong only watches as I dress. “It’s important you keep it easy. Focus on the pregnancy. But you seem…”
“I hate not working. When I lived with my parents, there was never any free time. There was always more to do.” And with my free time was writing. I’ve written, but there was a limit to how much I was capable of writing. Unless a muse hits. I could force it… but that’s adanger for the pregnancy. Better to limit myself. “Now I’m clearing my requirements within an hour. Or I can. I’ve started in on longer dishes. I’ve made bread for fun. I started looking through how to make tofu again.”
“That sounds appealing.” Jiyong licks his lips.
I nod. “White beans are safe for me and lack a lot of flavor, so they’ll work as a base. It’s complicated. And time consuming. And requires space. Now I have lots of time, thought allowance, and space.” I look to the kitchen. “But I wonder…”
“Should I focus on this?”
“Why not? I’d love to see what you can do with tofu.” Jiyong has been happy with all my attempts. Even my failures tend to be delicious. I know how to work with flavor. It’s the same with music and dance. And poetry and song. When you have innate talent, it shines through and makes it easier to understand how. It’s why I get that genius title. And Dami said she hates my type. Because I can see it before it begins.
I sigh. “I’m feeling… I’m expecting… I’m drifting as if through life. Whenever something good happened… There was always…”
“You’re worried.” Jiyong stands up. He takes the time to walk over and hug me. I notice my tears after he’s holding me close. “Should we just come out with everything? That’s hanging over us. See where the chips fall?”
“Is that what I’m afraid of?”
Jiyong squeezes me. “There was a suggestion. With my album doing well, I’m being watched more intently. Word is getting around that I have someone. As if there was enough to say that.” He snuggles against me. “Or I have a new therapist that is managing a miracle.”
I blink. My thoughts bring up his images. “Ever since the military… You’ve been…”
“Noticably hitting that wall. Depression’s been creeping. I’ve held off from falling completely, but… People could see it. My face doesn’t hide anything. I guess they always knew when I was deep in a relationship.”
I exhale trying to just figure out an answer to that. To just tell everyone…?
“This is the deepest I’ve been.” He twirls me so he can rest his ahnds on my stomach. It’s still not noticeable. Won’t always be. “I worry if you try to begin something. Even if that tutoring idea gets taken. I’d love to hear about you tutoring some kid struggling. And I will let the others in the building know about it. Or at YG. But beyond that? I think you need to deny yourself. Kevin still needs you as a tutor. And shortly, this one will too. You’ll need to teach them how to live. I don’t know our school plans with them yet. If you’re comfortable with it, I’d rather hold off a few years. Or limit it. I’ve seen what you can do. With Kevin. With others. With my home.”
“I can’t give them a social life.”
“You need one.” Jiyong squeezes me again. I’m safe in his arms. “But that really can’t happen until people know why you’re here in the first place.”
“Tell the world.” I exhale. That’s a big ask.
“Before they figure it out. If we tell them and go out, we’ll…” Jiyong flinches. He can’t say for sure. “At least you don’t look pregnant.”
“And waiting for that…” Jiyong hisses and releases me. “Let’s get food. We can talk more then. And Kevin probably needs to join this conversation.”
“I’ll make something. You wake the child.”
Jiyong pouts, but nods to the request. Kevin is normally difficult. I wish I could figure that out.
Cooking breakfast, eating, while we chat about telling the public. The question will be how.
Kevin comes up with, “What if Cat Hartliebe stops hiding where she is and whatshe’s doing? Tell the truth there.”
“I’m a author. They’ll think it’s a story.” I roll my eyes.
“May work though.” Jiyong relaxes. “Do a blog post around the tofu attempts. Talk about me and how I want you to succeed. Take pictures from my kitchen. See if people start putting it together.” He looks at Kevin. “And maybe get a nice shot of Kevin with your book. Scan my insta for a comparison background photo.”
I shiver. Let me just start being honest. I hate lying.
“You’re legally here. We’re legally together. We’re not going to fall apart. I’m giving you full rights and permissions. Take photos using my home. Or Seoul.”
“You?” I exhale. “Can I… Can I use a shot of us together?”
Jiyong grins. “I think I can accept that.” He gets up. “I’ll grab my phone. We’ll want to post in a few weeks something on my insta about us. If no one has noticed.”
I bite my cheek. I wait for Jiyong to get back to us with his phone. “Can… Can we make a book stack for you to post? Even now? With one of my books just within the mix.”
“Which one?” Jiyong moves to the living room. He has several books. He does read in his spare time. There hasn’t been a lot of spare time. “I won’t post it until you have something posted. My fans like to link things. Let them link then.”
I exhale and go to my collection of published books. Which one? “Can you pick out English titles?”
“Sure.” That collection is smaller for him. But my book would stand out less among English titles. All my work is in English. I’ve written a few poems and shorts now in Korean, but nothing is published. It’s part of my practice.
Jiyong grins at the pile. “How long before they realize? This is fun.”
“And terrifying.” I add.
Jiyong looks to me. His grin doesn’t say terror. “I love you.” I freeze at the words. “And I want the world to know that.” Kevin nudges me. I froze. I shouldn’t’ve froze. “Cat?”
“You… You haven’t said that… Before… And…” I sink to the ground. I wasn’t expecting it.
Jiyong kneels next to me rubbing my back. “Breathe.”
I look at him. It was unexpected. “I love you, too.”
“I did assume that.” Jiyong pulls me against him. I inhale his scent. It’s calming. “Spend the day figuring out exactly how you’ll show off your new home.”
Jiyong motions to the place I’m keeping. “You’ve been here and making it yours. That’s why I come back more. I spend more time here. I love coming home. The idea of coming home puts a smile on my face.”
I shiver. It’s more than the love confession. It would be called strange if I didn’t notice his reactions to coming home. I’ve even received comments from his friends about it. His excitement for being done with work. being allowed to go home. That wasn’t soemthing he did before.
Of course the public would start noticing.
I exhale. “Okay… I’ll do something.” Today. I’ll plan at least.
“Good.” Jiyong releases me and checks on his plate. “I should head in. There are always things to do. I’ll give them the heads up we’re coming out too. They may want to review your post before you release it.”
That’s… I look at him. “They aren’t my publisher. I control what goes out.”
“Sorry. They may create trouble if you don’t give them allowance. My life is theirs. They scan and check most of my stuff.” He shrugs. “It has it’s benefits. I don’t always think before posting.”
“Wait.” I stop Jiyong from leaving. “Picture of us.” I hand Kevin my phone. Jiyong passes his off as well. We both want a picture of us together. It’s been a rare event. And it hasn’t gone public yet.
“Kissing.” Jiyong grins and pulls me closer. It doesn’t matter if Kevin manages a good shot of us. That isn’t the important part. I want pictures with Jiyong. I want our happines on camera. “Okay. A more serious one.” He wraps an arm around me. I lean against him. This is…
I’m still in heaven. I haven’t fully accepted my new life. That’s the real problem. Coming out to the public… I don’t know yet. But this world I have now. Getting his arms around me. Taking care of my pregnancy. Knowing we’re going to be a family.
“You’re my heaven.” I whisper.
“Whispering sweet nothings in my ear.” Jiyong returns and kisses my nose. “Picture.” He motions to Kevin struggling with the phones.
“Kevin isn’t good at pictures.”
“I don’t need a good photo. I want one of us. Together.” Jiyong pulls me into his arms around. “We have a lot of time to take good photos. We can even get professional ones. I want lots of them.” He kisses my lips again. Claiming.
I’m owned. I’m happily owned.
“We can take more pictures when I get home. I better see something that says you’re showing the world us.” Jiyong grabs his phone. “And I’ll let them see my book stack and photos of us together. We’ll come out on our time. That’s always the better option.”
I nod. “See you tonight?”
“I’ll text you when they give me the five minute warning.”
I grin. That normally means I have a half hour before he gets here. “I hope I have something to show you today.”
“You better.” Jiyong grins while leaving.
I exhale. “Should we start by taking photos of you holding my book in various places around here?” I open up his insta. Jiyong has taken photos of his home before. “Let’s try to copy some. I have plenty of books.”
“I need to brush my hair first.” Kevin runs off. I could take the photos without him. The world does know I have a child. At least my fans do. Will my fans put two and two together? Probably not.they may like my work, but I don’t think they’ve found interest in GD.
This will take the book stack for my notice to begin.
I shiver. There will be backlash.
I hope we can do this right. “They may not know it’s you if you brush your hair.” I comment following Kevin.
Chapter 26: [SS: At Home]