SS: Ch23 “We Like 2 Party”

[With U]

Chapter 22: [“Only Look at Me Pt 2”]

Can you believe this is the last chapter? Two epilogues to go and… What do you think? How accurate do you think I made him?

I’m just a fool in love.


Chapter 23 : “We Like 2 Party”

Setting up for a party for Kevin while savoring my little time I have with Jiyong? Amazing. The extra icing was wicked to play with. I’m going to try chocolate syrup next time we’re together.

It’s random stuff. Mixing random pleasures and joys together. Childish almost although nothing about that play can be called childish.

There’s no one else I want to wake up next to. There is no one else filling my heart. No one has granted this level of hope.

And that’s without that pesky fame and fortune he carries. That stuff worries me. Because I’ll be seen as a gold digger. When I’d rather toss it aside. I’d rather hide in the shadows than stand forward.

I love being before people. I love the stage. I love talking about all my stories. I wouldn’t say I’m a good dancer, but if given the chance I’d join a troupe again. I’d get on stage and sing if requested. Give speeches, debate, face things…

I can’t sign up any of it. I can’t guarantee I’ll be healthy enough for it. I can’t face my traumas that came from being on stage.

Jiyong will force me to stand center. And I need to lean on the fact I love the spotlight. And ignore those who made the comments that drove me away from it. Lean into the pleasure, ignore the pain.

Friday evening, Kevin and I have our bags packed. It’s earlier too. Kevin finished Taekwondo, showered, and took up the bags.

Jiyong is on his way. He cut out before the sun set. Waited for our word before coming. And now. It’s time.

“Is he really going to accept me?” Kevin grips my hand.

“He should. If he can’t, then I can’t be with him. You are more important.” I tap his nose. It calms my child. Kevin needs a family as much as I need one. We’re floating. He has me to lean on. And I accept drowning for his sake.

I want to stop drowning.

Can Jiyong really offer us what we need?

The car stops before us and the door opens on command. Kevin places the bags in first before entering himself. I climb into the front seat. “Happy birthday, Kevin.” Jiyong offers as we buckle up.

“Thanks.”

Jiyong waits for us to be settled. “Am I taking us somewhere special?”

“Your place.” I answer.

“Good. There is a party trying to be started, but the people are missing.”

I glance back at Kevin. He’s nervous. I half expected him to just call out Dad first thing, but he’s refusing. I can only hope Jiyong’s ready. All signs suggest he’s expecting it.

We get back to Jiyong’s rental with no effort. He’s gotten used to the roads. Considering how confusing they can be, he looks the expert. Given Kevin and Jiyong want to carry bags in, I’m bagless. It’s a little unnerving to lose the option. Both are trying to help.

Kevin drops his things on the couch upon entry. He moves to the cake sitting center of the table right in view. “For me?”

“Yup.” Jiyong places my bag in his room.

“Mom.” Kevin notices the decorations placed about the place. Stuff to make it look special. Then the gift sitting there with his name on it.

Two gifts.

I stare at the second present. With card. And handwriting I’m not used to. I’m gonna say that’s Jiyong’s. He decided on something then. It looks the right size for a book.

“Can I open them?” Kevin sits before the presents. Jiyong walks back in. “Can I?”

“I don’t care the order of the party.” Jiyong shrugs.

“Go ahead, Kevin.” I add.

Kevin opens my item first. He looks thrilled over the socks. The fluffy ones are perfect for cold nights and cold floors.

“Socks?” Jiyong has sat next to him.

“Super fluffy ones.” Kevin rubs Jiyong’s cheek with them. “See.”

“They are soft.”

Kevin puts the socks on his lap and checks out the second. The card is ignored for the item. He opens it to find a manga. “Oh. This one is a good one.” He grins at me. “Thanks, Mom.”

“That’s not me.” I point at the card.

Kevin glances to Jiyong and pulls out the card. He looks confused by it more than anything. I glance over to see just normal words. Happy birthday. Congrats on turning thirteen. A signature. Which should be a giveaway, but I don’t think Kevin’s had a chance to learn Jiyong’s signature. “Why?”

“Why what?” Jiyong questions.

Kevin stares at him. “The gift. The party. Making Mom happy?”

Jiyong grins looking to me. “Making Mom happy, huh?”

“Don’t get distracted.” Kevin has been told that many times. “Why are you here? In our lives? Are you trying…?” He frowns probably unsure how to word his comment.

“I hope to build a family with you.” Jiyong reaches out for me. I take his hand readily. “I kinda sorta fell for Cat.”

Kevin laughs. “She captures everyone’s heart. I think she has a special magical spell or something.”

“It’s the loving kindness found inside.”

“What are you two talking about?” I stare at them.

“Nothing.” Kevin turns back to his book.

Jiyong grins at me. “Just how perfectly amazing you are.”

“I’m what?” I sigh. “I’m going to start on a meal. Is there anything else I’m needed for?”

“No. I’m good.” Kevin’s already inside the book.

Jiyong kisses my hand. “Everything’s fine. Did you need help?”

“No.” I pat my child’s head in passing before moving into the kitchen space. Fix a meal that Kevin would devour. It’s harder than most would think. He hasn’t been a big foodie.

While cooking, I hear laughter. It has me smile. Jiyong is out there with Kevin willingly. Building a relationship. And…

My home will include both of them.

My heart may be bigger than I expected it was. And it feels filled to the brim.

Creating the meal is easy enough. Then I bring everything to the ones in the other room. They look close. Bounding. I smile sitting down.

Jiyong grins at me. “So I’ve been told I have to sing a song to prove myself.” He stands up. “But Mom has to pick the song. So, Mom, what song will I sing?”

I blink. “Like The Itsy Bitsy Spider?”

“No.” Kevin glowers at me. “One of GD’s songs.”

I tap my lips looking at Jiyong. “What song do I want to hear?”

“Give it to me.” Jiyong motions me to try.

“Which song do you know well enough, Kevin?” I look at my child. “Pretty sure I can sing them better than you.”

“That’s why you’re picking.”

I stare at Kevin a moment. “Breathe. Kevin likes that one.” I focus on my boyfriend. “Go ahead.”

Jiyong scans me. “You make me lose my breath often, Cat. Can’t believe you pick that one.”

I relax while he just belts out a slightly different version of Breathe without music backing him. Still he knows the notes. His voice has only matured. I’d even say the one offered now is better than the one I listen to often.

Jiyong flinches once during it. I know that flinch. It’s the ‘I missed that note’ flinch. He hasn’t sung the song in too long. It’s cute watching him.

“How can you…?” Kevin stares at Jiyong jaw dropped. “That was…”

Jiyong shrugs and rubs his neck. “Wish you picked a newer one. I didn’t think my voice changed that much.”

“You really need to put out all your songs again. With this new more mature voice. Heartbreaker album especially. You were a kid back then.”

“Old enough.” Jiyong drops into his chair again. “My flexibility has expanded. But I think I need to go back to vocal stretches.”

“Probably.”

Jiyong sighs. “As if I don’t have enough things scheduled.”

“You’re…” Kevin has been in this state of shock. “No way! How can…? But…”

“So he’s the shocked fan.” Jiyong pokes Kevin’s forehead. “Do I need to pinch you? Sing another song? Want a dance?” He looks about the space. “There’s several that I should be able to manage somewhat.”

“You remember them?” I ask.

“Been practicing. We are having a comeback next year. Kinda. I haven’t decided on new music.”

“You have to.” Kevin stands up.

“Really?” Jiyong focuses on Kevin.

He looks so serious. “We need new music.”

“Would you hate me if I never published another song?”

Kevin looks shocked by the question. He takes a moment to just think it over. “No.” He sighs dropping back into his chair. “But… It would be like Mom never publishing again. You’d only be keeping everything to yourself. When so many people need your words.”

Jiyong reviews me. “Really? You think my words matter to that extent?”

Kevin nods. “Don’t you have more to say?”

I nod. “We’ll meet again on the flower road.” I look at Jiyong. “Don’t give up until there are no more cards you can play.”

“Yeah.” Jiyong ducks his head. “Sorry for being flighty.”

I nudge him. “You just need another support. Someone who has your back. Who won’t sell you out.”

“Not to make light of who’s birthday this is, I have something for you, Cat.” Jiyong leaves the room.

“What did he get?” Kevin asks me. I have no idea.

He steps back into the room holding the item behind his back. “No peeking.”

I look at his innocent smile. Something is… “Okay.” I close my eyes and hold my hands out. I’m getting something.

It doesn’t go in my hands. Jiyong has Kevin help him put it around my neck. And the coo Kevin offers is not as precious as it could be. What is going on?

“Go ahead.” Jiyong says.

I open my eyes and reach for the new necklace. On a small golden chain is the infinity symbol with a small heart in the upper left corner. I’ve seen them before. It’s nothing that says special… Except… “Jiyong?”

“Always and forever, Mom.” Kevin cuddles against me.

I rub my child’s head while focusing on the person who got the necklace. “What are you trying to say?”

“What do you want it to mean?” Jiyong sits back down.

I look at the pendant hanging over my chest. I settle with it there. “We can figure it out, Jiyong. We don’t need to rush.”

“Thankfully you don’t push my gift away.” Jiyong sticks his tongue out at me. “This is delicious by the way.”

“Mom’s great at cooking.” Kevin goes back to his plate. “The best.”

“She definitely is. I’m thinking of taking her back to Korea with me.” Jiyong says almost lackadaisy.

“You can’t.” Kevin jumps again.

“Why not?” Jiyong questions Kevin.

He looks to me terror there again. I have no idea what Kevin thinks is our blockade. “Because…”

“Name it. I can offer you guys a safety net. Promise.”

“But-” Kevin sinks. “I…”

“Maybe dojang would be a bigger thought to worry about over school.” I weigh Kevin’s life. Kevin looks worried. We found a good dojang for him. To find another master at that level? Would be tough. But… The rest of our lives here is… I’d rather…

“I’ll add that to the list of requirements.” Jiyong focuses on Kevin. “What else am I supposed to figure out before being able to capture you? Your mom thinks kidnapping isn’t the best choice.”

Kevin pokes at his plate. “I don’t know.”

“Change can be hard. But staying in the place you’re being hurt isn’t the smart method, Kevin. Leaving your safety net when that net is filled with pain…” I spot the tears. Kevin has broken. We broke him. I didn’t mean to do that for his birthday.

“Nothing more is required.” Kevin sniffles. “Can I… Go to the bathroom?”

“I’ll show you.” Jiyong motions him after him.

I sit there and wait. Jiyong returns alone after a while. Probably chatted a touch. “Jumping is foolish.”

Jiyong leans closer to me. “I wanted you to claim the necklace as an engagement present.” He looks over the necklace he gave me. “To tell Kevin where we are. What we want.”

I sigh. I pull the necklace off. “Jiyong… This is too fast. And this is too much. Don’t just flaunt your money. I don’t want that. I want your heart, your soul. Not your bank account. Not trinkets.”

“This-” Jiyong puts the necklace back on me. “Means a lot more than flaunting my back account. It didn’t even cost that much. Not like I grabbed something they keep locked behind glass.”

I look at it. “You really didn’t spend a lot on it?”

“You’d refuse if I gave you diamonds. This is a small token. To say how I feel. I’ll have Kevin help me pick out an expensive item you couldn’t say no to. You even refused my desire to pay for your teeth to be fixed. I’ll have to fight to get you to wear expensive things.”

I fidget. I don’t need expensive things. “It wouldn’t be that hard… If they were yours.”

“So I just need stick a peaceminusone symbol on it.” He nods. “Got it.”

I laugh. “That wasn’t… Whatever. You can’t buy me. Not in any sense of the word.”

“Song it is.” He nods again.

“Jiyong.”

He starts humming out a tune. Then a few words. He pauses to look at me. “You need to learn Korean so I can get you blushing in two languages.”

“That’s not…”

“Most definitely is a goal.” Jiyong nods. “Maybe I’ll just create the song in English. I’ve done that before.” He goes off in search of his computer.

Great. I look at the meal I made. No one finished. I sigh and start cleaning up. There is more to be had, but it seems…

“Got it.” Jiyong sits at the table typing. “You’ll fall for me even more with this.”

“How is that even possible, Jiyong?”

He shrugs looking to me. “Because you are my heart and soul. Already stolen. So the work I put into this song will prove things you haven’t figured out yet.” He taps his neck in the place my necklace rests. “Forever and Always sounds perfect for the song’s title.”

“Jiyong.”

“A wedding present suits more than engagement.” He nods. “I can shock everyone with it.”

I sigh looking at him. “I don’t think anyone would be shocked with your song. We know how deep you fall.”

Jiyong stares at me. “You know, huh? Everyone does? Then I’m just going to go deeper. I’m digging a hole I can’t climb out of. I’d happily stay trapped inside. Good luck making a comparable gift.”

“Damnit.” I look at the work before me. I can’t think of this as a competition. That’s not going to be a thing.

“Mom?” Kevin catches me pulling out my computer. “What’s going on?”

“Jiyong challenged me. I’m going to make a more emotionally intense something or other.”

Kevin looks down the hall. “Do something he can’t do. You can write songs. So write something he can’t compete with.”

“A novel?”

Kevin grins at me. “About us. About meeting him. About becoming a family. He wouldn’t be able to reach that level if he wanted to.”

I look at my computer in my hands. “About us, huh?”

I open up a new file. I remember sitting in Barnes and Noble. I had just finished a story. I always love writing an ending that uplifts. HEAs are my favorite part.


[With U]

The End. (You want those adorable epilogues, don’t you?)

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