In the summer: The Butler
Also named take me to the place
Genre: romance, angst, melodrama
Word Count: 24k
Summary: He was always seen as having everything, but to him, he had nothing. He would always bore that cold and indifferent expression, that is, until that summer. He met him.
Sunlight basked over his handsome face and he stirred gradually from the deep sleep. The bright summer sunlight tickled his eyes. He hummed slightly before pulling his tired body up to a sitting position and rubbed his eyes gently. Instantly a sharp pain struck the front of his head and he groaned loudly. Grumpily, he made for the bathroom and entered the bathroom tub, hoping the warm water can calm his hangover.
Dressed in a casual stripe polo tee and khakis pants, he walked toward the dining room while rubbing his forehead. Just as he sat down, someone entered. “Young master, I’ve prepare you a hangover tea,” a feminine voice broke through the silence.
Myungsoo looked up and met with a pretty face of Park Jiyeon.
He took the cup and drank the hot liquid in one shot, desperately wanting to ease his headache. “Where’s Lee?” he asked, hoping he didn’t sound too eager. He wanted to see his butler, at least to know he was alright.
“Mr. Lee is sick, young master. He caught a fever this morning. But he has reminded us everything that is needed. Your breakfast will be served in half an hour, to let the hangover tea sink in. In the meantime, I’ll switch on the morning news for you, young master.”
Myungsoo only hummed in response. Sungyeol was sick and he wondered if he was the reason that the butler caught the fever.
When the breakfast was served, Myungsoo poked at the omelet. The memory of that smiley face flashed through his mind and he felt hunger diminished away. It was like everything looked utterly bland without that bright smile to start the day, and it was the first day of his summer holiday. He pouted at the food, as if expecting some miracle happened and Sungyeol was back to annoy him.
Mr. Shim came right after breakfast for his summer classes. Myungsoo watched his handsome tutor with lacking enthusiasm. His thoughts kept wandered back and forth of Sungyeol.
“Myungsoo, what’s wrong?”
The question had the young master straightened up. He looked back at his tutor with puzzling eyes.
“You are not with me the whole time,” Mr. Shim said.
Myungsoo looked down on his book guiltily. His fingers played with his pen, a sign of distress that he often showed. Instead of giving the older some answer, he only shook his head, unwilling to share.
Mr. Shim sighed.
Right then, a knock ricocheted through the quiet chamber and the door swung open. Myungsoo immediately snapped toward the source of interruption. Hyomin walked in with small smile and a tray of refreshment. Myungsoo slumped back to his seat, feeling worse than before. His eyes trailed at Hyomin’s every movement as the maid placed the Chinas with hollowness.
“Where’s Mr. Lee?” The tutor asked, looking at Myungsoo. The young master knew the question was directed to him, but he refused to answer.
“Mr. Lee caught a fever, Mr. Shim,” Hyomin answered in slight hesitation before excused herself quickly.
Mr. Shim sipped on the warm coffee and winced slightly when the bitterness filled his mouth. Myungsoo played with his pen, hardly giving the refreshment any attention. He heard Mr. Shim closed his book and looked up at him. “You’re a good kid, Myungsoo. I did expect you to be some spoilt rich kids that would take any chances to flaunt their father’s money and I know you’re not. But, I’m not wasting my time when you’re obviously too occupied. I’m sure it’s not just Mr. Lee is sick,” Mr. Shim said and picked all his books. “Sort it out, I hope to see you in better state tomorrow,” he continued with a smile.
The door closed with a soft click. The young master plopped his head on the table and sighed. He needed to see his butler.
He sighed, for the umpteenth times today. He went for riding for two hours and yet feeling exactly the same as before. Usually when he was restless and unhappy, horse riding could immediately clear his mind, but apparently today was the odd one out. His thought, again, wandered back to the scene he saw before he went for the ranch.
The hallway to the workers quarters felt novel. The fading wallpapers were rosy colored accompanied by the wash out yellow carpet. He stopped before the door, as illustrated by Jiyeon and Hyomin, the plate nailed on the door was sloppily written with ‘Lee Sungyeol’.
Myungsoo raised up his fist, debated if he should knock.
He turned away, thinking he shouldn’t have come, but only to face back the door. He took a deep breath and twisted the knob. Peeking through the slit, he saw the room was gloomily sealed from sunlight, only lightened by a night light. He saw Sungyeol lying on the back, face flustered and the big patch of bruise visible on the corner of his lips. The butler turned toward him and a frown marred his pretty face. He looked like he’s in deep pain.
A pang of guilt hit Myungsoo from his heart down to his gut. He bit his lips hard just not to tremble and he shut the door before him.
The sound of opening door broke Myungsoo from the daunting memory and he looked toward the source expectedly. He couldn’t hide his surprise to see his sick butler entered with a tray of food. His face was sickly pale and his purple lips chapped with an obvious bruise on a side. The butler placed the plates of Korean cuisine with slight shaky hand.
“The kitchen prepared Korean cuisine for dinner today, young master,” the butler said.
Myungsoo couldn’t stop himself from noticing how the butler had called him young master. He laughed inwardly, in the most sarcastic manner. There were so many instances he had reminded the man to call him that, but never once the butler did as told. Then, Myungsoo was used to it. He was already so used to Sungyeol calling him master Myungsoo.
“Try consuming some portion, young master.” He watched Sungyeol turned to leave him. The coldness in Sungyeol’s tone froze him deep to the core. In the act of panic, he reached for the butler’s wrist and pulled him. What he did not expect was for Sungyeol to shriek hoarsely and fell on his weak knees.
“Oh!” Myungsoo stood up to help him, but only to be pushed away. “You’re angry, aren’t you?” he asked accusingly as he watched Sungyeol struggled to stand up. He didn’t dare to touch Sungyeol again, for he feared that he might break the lithe man.
Sungyeol bowed at him. “It’s not my position to be angry with you, young master,” he said monotonously. “I’ll leave you to your dinner,” he then excused himself. Myungsoo didn’t try to stop him again, only watched the butler left the room to himself.
There was always nights when Myungsoo felt loneliness choked him off air and he thought he couldn’t go on anymore. Those nights would always found the youngster closed himself up in a room highest on the mansion. Setting beside the window was a telescope and hanging on a side wall was an astronomical maps that Myungsoo drawn when he was 12. Setting on the pearly white cabinet was numerous toys from his childhood, ranging from a teddy bear to a red toy train, memorable token of his mother he missed so much.
That night, Myungsoo had felt worse than he ever did for the past 8 years. He had tried to occupy his mind by searching Equuleus, one of the smallest constellations in Astronomy. When the frustration caught the best of him, he let sleepiness took over his consciousness.
Cold breeze brushed over his body and Myungsoo rubbed his arms subconsciously. He felt a warm comforter draped over his body.
The gentle hand stroked his hair felt exceptionally warm.
“Omma…” he grabbed the hand, startled the person as he felt the hand went stiff. He opened his eyes slowly and saw the pretty face of Lee Sungyeol. The butler’s face tinted with beautiful pink glow and Myungsoo noticed his purplish lips grew a tad of red, but the ugly bruise remained the same dark blue shade.
“Can you let go of my hand?” he heard Sungyeol whispered softly. Only then he realized he was still holding the other’s warm hand. Myungsoo frowned, knowing Sungyeol was still feverish.
Myungsoo sat up and the comforter pooled around his waist. “You should be resting,” he said, sharp eyes glared at the older.
“It’s my job to make sure my young master is well rested before I’m done for the day,” the butler explained, the icy tone again reminded Myungsoo of the guilt that had been consuming him all day. “Please restrain from sleeping with the window open, young master. I will be forever in debt if you are to fall sick,” the butler said and stood up to shut the window.
Again, out of panic, Myungsoo grasped onto Sungyeol’s wrist, trying to prevent the other from leaving. “Sungyeol!” he called. He could see Sungyeol’s eyes widened in shock and the butler stumbled and fell on his butt. “I’m sorry,” he muttered.
Sungyeol looked at him curiously. “What did you say?” he asked, head drawing nearer. His doe eyes sparkled of the same enthusiasm Myungsoo grew fond of. The young master rolled his eyes. The butler pouted and pulled his hand free. “Fine, I’m leaving. Have a good night, young master,” again, the cold tone.
“I’m sorry,” Myungsoo sighed.
“You know, you don’t have to say sorry. What you said last night was very true. I have let my emotion carried me away,” the butler said, his voice softened.
Myungsoo watched the butler, trying to decipher Sungyeol’s emotion right then. “I said, I’m sorry and I meant it,” he rephrased, with determination. He watched Sungyeol shook his head and he heaved a sigh. He didn’t want Sungyeol to change and as much as he didn’t want to admit it, he had grown fond of how Sungyeol was, and how the butler barged into his repetitive life and turned it into something different.
Moving toward the window, he caught a waft of gentle midnight breeze, feeling the cold air brushed his messy hair. He glanced up the night sky, hoping the stars could comfort his broken soul.
“Why do you like the stars so much?”
He turned back and saw Sungyeol was leaning against the cabinet, playing with his teddy bear with a small smile. Myungsoo turned back to the midnight sky. “You’ll laugh at me if I tell you,” he replied with a soft chuckle.
“Try me.” Myungsoo could hear Sungyeol’s bright smile from his tone.
Myungsoo watched the stars with such concentration. “Maybe… just maybe if I search hard enough, right enough… maybe I can find my mother…” he choked, feeling the burning sensation on his eyes. He had never told anyone, not even Woohyun, whose parents were still well and alive. This part of him that ached for the warmth of his mother, he thought he would forever bury within him until he died. He just didn’t know why, he knew Sungyeol will never laugh at him.
“Then… can you help find my parents? Maybe they’re hiding among the stars too…” Sungyeol whispered.
Myungsoo clenched his fist tightly. He turned toward Sungyeol and found a tear rolled out of those beautiful eyes. The tear choked him off air. “I… I didn’t know,” he choked and their eyes met. The emotion dwelled within those dewdrop eyes felt unexpectedly familiar. He watched Sungyeol wiped his tears with the back of his hand.
His lips stretched into beautiful smile and Myungsoo felt his breath hitched.
“It’s fine, Master Myungsoo,” he said, “It’s been a while. They got into a car accident when I was five years old and I believe God has his reason in everything that happened.” The butler smiled softly.
Myungsoo glanced over his fingers. He almost couldn’t understand how Sungyeol could smile despite having such cruel fate bestowed upon him.
“I wonder if they’re still alive, would everything be different?” the question had Myungsoo looked up. “Maybe you and I wouldn’t even cross each other life… we’re just two strangers in this city.” Myungsoo felt his system as if shut down on its own. He couldn’t understand the odd feelings tingled in his heart. He just knew he didn’t want to be merely a stranger to Sungyeol. “But still, I’m glad I get to know you, Master Myungsoo!” the voice chirped.
Myungsoo felt his lips lifted at the cheerful voice.
“Oh my god, he’s so good looking when he smiles,” the butler commented suddenly. The young master’s eyebrow quirk and he watched Sungyeol’s cheek grew red. “I say that out loud, didn’t I?” he asked and Myungsoo gladly nodded. The smile tugged on the younger’s lips.
“I’m glad you’re my butler, Sungyeol.”
Right then, a cold wind blew through the window. Sungyeol sneezed loudly and on reflex, Myungsoo shut the window. He crawled toward the other person and felt Sungyeol’s forehead. It was burning and his lips grew purplish again, much to Myungsoo’s chagrin. He took the abandoned comforter and wrapped it around the butler’s thin body. “I can’t!” the older shrieked. Sungyeol struggled against Myungsoo’s stronger arms.
“Do you forgive me?” Myungsoo asked. Sungyeol stopped resisting and nodded at him obediently. “Then, do as I say,” he demanded.
“But this is yours! I can’t spread germs over it!” the butler retorted.
Myungsoo made a mean look, instantly shutting Sungyeol up. “Now, take the comforter and rest! Don’t show your face before you’re truly healed. Consider this as my apology.” Myungsoo felt something heavy lifted off his chest. “I’m off to my room and get me a new comforter when you’re healthy!” he strolled out the room.
It took 5 days before Myungsoo was greeted with a bright sun-kissed grin to start the day. It was a beautiful Sunday morning when Sungyeol brought him a simple breakfast and he swore nothing could ever go wrong that day. Adding up to that, he received a memo from his father that he would be excluded from company meeting that particular Sunday because of certain emergency occurred, thus, earning Myungsoo a rare break from his repetitive schedule.
He spent his morning in the gym before heading to lunch. He went for the library immediately after lunch, thinking Sungyeol would eventually barged into. After two hours of staring at his book, not really reading, he decided to call it quits.
Kim Myungsoo would never admit that he missed spending time with his butler. He was only curious where his butler could be when he should be serving him. He sighed, feeling hopeless as he glanced over another empty hallway. Honestly, for living in that particular mansion for 17 years, never once he thought he could lose someone in his own home.
‘Was it even home?’ he asked himself.
However, much to relieve his agony, he heard quiet footsteps heading toward him and came forward a young maid, who he couldn’t recognize. He coughed for some attention when he noticed the maid was staring at the ground as she walked. The maid looked up and her eyes widened to see him. Myungsoo smirked.
“Young master!” her face grew a shade of red.
Myungsoo scoffed inwardly at the typical reaction. “Have you seen Lee?” he asked, grinning softly at the girl. The face reddened into a darker shade and Myungsoo took a glance of the nametag, Son Naeun. He actually made a habit to remember all the names in his household, despite calling all of them by surname.
“Mr. Lee is at the kitchen,” timidly.
Myungsoo nodded with a smile and headed off to the said location. His thought wandered away, contemplating if the butler was cooking him another plate of sugary fried rice, not realizing how the smile tugged on his thin lips.
The cute giggles emitted from the kitchen had the young master of Kim Manor cocked his eyebrow in bewilderment. “Please… Please don’t do it…” the familiar voice wailed adorably and Myungsoo swore he never heard Sungyeol whines before and agreeing to himself that it was really endearing. “Master Myungsoo will scold me…” the butler pled cutely and Myungsoo chuckled to himself.
Approaching the kitchen, he peeked through the slit of the slight ajar door. Myungsoo did not expect to see Sungjong there, in his kitchen, playfully smack a handful of white flour on his butler’s brownish hair.
His friend giggled at Sungyeol.
Myungsoo watched Sungyeol puffed his cheeks and his lower lip protruded out into an adorable pout. A warm feeling grew in his heart and Myungsoo felt his heart beating harshly against his ribcage. When Sungjong raised his hands up and pinched the butler’s cheeks, and cooed the boy, Myungsoo found his eyebrows twitched into a frown.
He pushed the door. “Yah! What is this mess?” he asked, with defense.
The youngest of them waved at him childishly. “Hey, hyung!” his voice greeted him with a hint of awkwardness.
“What are you doing here?”
Sungjong rubbed his nape nervously and Myungsoo felt guilty for making his friend feeling uneasy, but he couldn’t help it. “Master Myungsoo, I’ll prepare the guest room for Master Sungjong,” the butler said and Myungsoo felt the atmosphere lightened. He didn’t know how Sungyeol does it. That’s when Myungsoo saw the white powder had covered part of Sungyeol’s face.
Myungsoo snarled loudly. “Lee Sungyeol, don’t bother. Let Park does it and you, go wash yourself. You look ridiculous.” He watched Sungyeol retreated out the kitchen and turned over to catch Sungjong observing him with curiosity.
The boy snapped out and avoided his careful stare. Myungsoo could sense something was wrong and he knew he wouldn’t like it. “hyung, do you think it will be alright if I stay for the summer?” Sungjong asked, with hesitant. The emotion flashed before the boy’s face awed Myungsoo. He knew something was wrong.
Most people at his high school probably thought he, Kim Myungsoo would have spend his summer overseas, or anywhere else other than Seoul. They were very wrong. As much as how his family’s wealth could last him ten descendants, his father would always plan his summer packed with extra education and social parties and endless meetings. Myungsoo had always willingly accepted his plan because it was his fate.
His summer would always saw him confided in the majestic Kim Manor. Afternoon lesson with Mr. Shim of Seoul University, random walks along the forest behind the manor and his lone shadow casted over the ranch.
Myungsoo never complained.
“Sungyeol-ah, good morning!” the bubbly youngest greeted over the dining table. Myungsoo grunted inwardly, noticing through the corner of his eyes, his butler had flashed Sungjong one of his signature bright grin. Kim Myungsoo owned that smile, but that was only in his thoughts.
“Good morning, Master Sungjong and Master Myungsoo!” the butler chirped happily and started distributing the gorgeous breakfast that varies from traditional to western.
Sungjong clapped his hands together. “Thank you, Sungyeol-ah!” he cheered.
Myungsoo knew Sungjong well. Different to Myungsoo and Woohyun, Sungjong and Howon were practically raised by four parents. Their families were very close knitted and the Lees always find times for their sons. Therefore, the pair of cousins was always found easily at ease with peoples, even with Sungjong, who was often confined indoor and was even restrained from going to a normal high school.
Knowing Sungjong, the boy was probably friendly with the butler because Sungyeol, undeniably, was extremely likable. But, that didn’t stop Myungsoo from feeling extremely irritated. “You are dismissed, Lee,” was said colder than he intended.
“Yes, master Myungsoo.” He heard the slight hurt undertone, but chose to ignore it until the door closed behind him.
Sungjong grabbed a mouthful of spaghetti and stuffed it in his mouth. “Do you always have these for breakfast?” he asked happily with the angel hair flowing out of his mouth, disregarded all the etiquettes they were educated since early age. Myungsoo watched him with amusement.
“You looked like you haven’t been eating for a decade,” he commented.
Sungjong bobbed his head up and down childishly. “Mum has a restriction on the calories for my meal,” he said sadly. Myungsoo never thought he would ever see that particular emotion flashed through those feline eyes. Sungjong and Howon had always lived in a loving and healthy environment, and so that’s only what Myungsoo thought.
“Slow down, Sungjong, or you’ll choke yourself,” he said softly, suddenly feeling extra appetizing than usual.
Myungsoo continued his class with Mr. Shim that afternoon, without Sungjong, of course. The said boy smiled at him angelically and declined that he wanted to study when it was summer holiday. That was before he yelled at Myungsoo for being utterly uptight and boring, and what pissed Myungsoo off for the rest of the afternoon was when Sungyeol had giggled behind the both.
He gritted his teeth at the thought, not noticing his tutor’s sharp glare.
“The nerve of him,” he breathed through clenched teeth.
“Myungsoo,” Mr. Shim called, with hardness evident in his tone. Myungsoo immediately straightened himself on his seat, shifting awkwardly.
The familiar knocks echoed through the quiet chamber and the door slid open to reveal none other than the tall butler. Sungyeol entered with his bright grin and Myungsoo thought he could almost see a rainbow cast down from Sungyeol’s head. The young master immediately felt lightened when he caught the waft of sweet caffeine diffusing into the warm room.
He watched the butler entered with ease, despite holding a tray full of goods.
“Sungyeollie~” a voice whined and Myungsoo saw Sungjong emerged from Sungyeol’s tall form. Myungsoo frowned unhappily. The youngest was tugging on the hem of Sungyeol’s butler vest.
“Master Sungjong, I don’t know if that’s possible,” Sungyeol said, voice kept as minimum as possible, but Myungsoo heard it nonetheless.
“Please, Sungyeollie!!!” the nickname irked Myungsoo.
Sungyeol placed the plates of snack on the side of Myungsoo with struggle. The loud whines of Lee Sungjong were getting on his nerve. “Can the two of you stop?” he scowled angrily, fist slamming against the table. Sungyeol flinched, he noticed, but the anger had overclouded his mind.
“Hyung…” Sungjong’s voice grew weak.
Myungsoo’s face glowered and eyed from Sungyeol to Sungjong before landing his gaze at Sungjong’s hand. “Leave, both of you!” Honestly, Myungsoo didn’t know where this anger came from. Sungjong grasped onto Sungyeol’s hand and pulled the startled butler out. Myungsoo felt the rage crumbled down, replacing with a choking ache that he could almost feel it with his every heartbeat.
Mr. Shim chuckled unexpectedly. He closed his books with a knowing smile and Myungsoo watched the older with curiosity. “Truthfully, I have never seen you so disturbed before and it amazed me,” the tutor said, with a mysterious smile tugging on his lips.
Myungsoo sometimes found his tutor a bit too unpredictable and often too smart to be understood. The man didn’t look too much older than him and yet, was already a PhD holder and a very established lecturer. At this moment, Myungsoo could only choose his silence to reply the man because he was lost of words.
“Myungsoo, I think you have enough of the day. Get some air and clear your mind. You will see a clearer picture of what that is confusing you,” Mr. Shim said and again, took off like he always did. The said boy, however, felt ever more confusing than before. Myungsoo pressed his palm over his chest, feeling the heart pumping, but the blood as if carried some virus, ached like a thousand of needles plucking him.
It had been exactly three days since Myungsoo last saw Sungyeol and Sungjong. To say he was avoiding them was an understatement. He refused to see the both of them, confiding himself in his room, only let the two maids entered with anything he needed. He knew he was at fault of throwing a fit at them without a cause, but he couldn’t wipe away the anger in his head.
He messed his once neat hair with frustration. He couldn’t bring himself to face the butler, but his heart seemed to yearn for Sungyeol’s presence.
Walking toward his balcony, he glanced out to the greenish hill. The back of the manor was an endless forest with blue summer sky enveloping the green. Birds chirping a song and the touch of the nature seemed to calm his whirlwind emotion. He closed his eyes and inhaled a breath of fresh air, feeling the aching on his chest lessened.
“AHHHHHH!!!” a loud shriek pierced through the silence.
Myungsoo tore his eyes open and glanced toward the source of the loud scream. His eyes averted toward the ranch and saw two boys riding on a dark chocolate stallion, the moderate height and weight told him it was Libra. He squint his eyes at the boys, only for them widened in shock.
“MASTER SUNGJONG, LET ME DOWN PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” birds scattered away from the adjacent trees.
The young master of Kim manor found his fist clenched tightly. The ugly grimace marred his handsome façade. His naked eyes focused on how Sungjong seated tightly against the slender butler and how his arms brushes against the butler’s slim waist and how Sungjong smiled so blissfully. It was all too much in detail, Myungsoo hated it.
He slammed the door open. The loud bang ricocheted through the quiet mansion. His legs trotted toward the ranch with heavy steps. Dressed in his casual long khakis and white polo, he was underdressed for horse riding, but he was clearly, if not overly competent in riding, as he easily hopped on a beautiful white stallion with a pair of sneaker. He reached for the duo, stopping both immediately.
“Hyung!” the youngest cheered.
Sungyeol was blushing and the redness perfuse toward his neck. His enthusiastic eyes seemed to gleam under the summer sun.
“Lee Sungjong, put Lee down now!” Myungsoo demanded childishly. He could see the reluctance in Sungjong’s eyes, but his glare did not waver. Clumsily, Sungjong helped Sungyeol down the horse. “Now, Lee, go to your work!” he saw the hurt flashed through the butler’s eyes, but Myungsoo’s anger seemed to blind his eyes. The butler left in silence.
Sungjong sighed. “What are you doing, hyung?” he asked, defeated.
“What are you doing?” Myungsoo retorted. “It was perfectly fine, before you came and ruined everything!” he cried, suddenly feeling the ache in his heart intensified tenfold.
“You ruined everything,” Sungjong stated.
Myungsoo frowned, clearly still confused.
“Look at yourself. You are obviously throwing a jealous fit.” Myungsoo was taken aback. “You like Sungyeol, don’t you?” the younger asked. Myungsoo deepened his frown, feeling absurd by the accusation.
“What is wrong with you?” he asked defensibly.
Sungjong sighed loudly. “Clearly, you are too disturbed to talk this through. We’ll talk when you are ready,” the younger stalked off after saying that. Leaving behind him were only Myungsoo and the two obedient horses and the blue summer sky embracing the lone soul.
Myungsoo puffed his cheeks. It was sunset and he was watching them with a heavy heart. He pulled his leg closer toward his chest, hugging them closely. He likes Sungyeol, he pondered in his crowded mind. He couldn’t figure out why Sungjong had say that because it was incongruous that he, Kim Myungsoo is in loved with his butler. Lee Sungyeol was nothing but a wacky butler that he had ever met, maybe a little bit adorable, and cute, and warm. He straightened up in his seat. He did not just think that.
Silent footsteps startled him and he looked up abruptly.
“Hyung,” the boy hollered softly, looking hesitant to approach him.
Myungsoo felt bad of the way he acted for the past week. “Hey,” he replied with a soft smile he managed to muster. The boy took the hint and bravely took a seat beside him.
The gentle breeze rustled their hair and brushed a cool sensation over their cheeks. The sun sank into the horizon slowly and selfishly brought along all the orange light with it. “I’m sorry, hyung,” Sungjong was first to break the comfortable silence.
Myungsoo tilted his head in puzzlement. “Why?” he asked.
“For interrupting, I didn’t mean to change-“
“Don’t be,” Myungsoo rudely interrupted. He leaned his head on top of his knee and watched the darkening sky with a newfound calmness. A soft smile planted on his lips. “I should be the one apologizing for being nothing but rude for the past week.” The deep voice shook the gentle breeze.
Sungjong nodded in understanding.
“Why did you say that?” Myungsoo asked suddenly. Sungjong looked back at him with a dumbfound look. “Why did you say that I like Sungyeol?” he asked again.
There was a moment of silence and a small smile tugging on Sungjong’s lips. He had a faraway gaze. “I can see it in your eyes. Hyung, you still can’t understand it?” he asked. Myungsoo shook his head and pouted slightly. “You are really obvious because the Myungsoo hyung I knew back then never really care enough to show his emotions. But for the past week, I’ve seen a lot more emotions than I did for the 7 years I knew you,” Sungjong explained.
“You don’t have to think about it. Your heart would eventually tell you. It soars when you see him smile, it aches when you see him cry, and your breath choke when he is with someone else…” the younger continued, with various emotions displayed on his face.
Myungsoo straightened on his seat. “You… you’re in love?” the words stumbled out his mouth.
“Don’t worry about me, hyung.” Sungjong reached out for Myungsoo’s hand and squeezed him gently. Right that moment, Myungsoo didn’t know if Sungjong was comforting him or it was the other way around, but he held back that gentle hand in the exact same amount. Myungsoo thought of Sungyeol, how undeniably warm the boy had always make him feel.
“Maybe I do feel different toward Sungyeol,” he admitted quietly.
“I knew it!” he could hear the smile in Sungjong’s voice. “I won’t waste my time trying to make you jealous if I didn’t know,” the younger announced cheerfully. Myungsoo side glanced the other boy, feeling cheated suddenly. Sungjong giggled. “You are so jealous!” he pointed a finger at the older.
“Yah!” Myungsoo felt embarrassed and then, they both broke into laughter.
The sky was fully painted in midnight blue with diamond like stars studded over the matte blue. The moon shone a ray of pearly light down on the two friends. The laughter died down into a comfortable silence. “Hyung, what you’re going to do now?” the younger asked. Myungsoo thought he saw sadness in those eyes, but he didn’t want to question Sungjong.
“What do you mean?” he asked back.
“With Sungyeol? You like him,” Sungjong explained.
Myungsoo looked at him oddly. “I still don’t get what you mean,” he rubbed the back of his head.
“Don’t you want him?”
Myungsoo grew quiet. Myungsoo had never thought he would find someone he loves, someone like Sungyeol. All his life, he constantly led himself to believe, he would eventually getting political marriage.
A series of knocks disrupted Myungsoo’s thoughts and the two friends turned back to see Sungyeol standing behind with his usual neat butler outfit. Myungsoo caught Sungyeol’s eyes watching Sungjong’s and his interlinking hands. He quickly let go, only just realizing he had been holding to Sungjong’s hand. “Master Myungsoo and master Sungjong, the dinner is served.” He thought he saw Sungyeol’s usual bright eyes dimmed.
Something stirred in his heart.
That night, Myungsoo tossed around in his bed. He couldn’t sleep. He thought back to what Sungjong said and it further distressed him. Honestly, no one had ever asked him what he wants to do. The father he knew only did give him orders, never options. He sat up, feeling suffocating. Putting on a sweater, he decided to go for a walk.
Rays of moonlight guided the young master down the deserted hallway. It was exceptionally chilly for a summer night and Myungsoo glanced out the windows as he walked. The tender night view seemed to calm his troubling state.
It was complete stillness in the air when a heartrending sob sliced through the silence.
Myungsoo halted on his steps. He listened carefully and the soft sobs immediately came to his hearing. He leaned over the wall and peered over to saw a familiar someone sitting on the staircase, talking to his cell phone. His back trembled and Myungsoo swore he couldn’t breathe.
“Hyung, I don’t think I could do this anymore…” the boy cried. He ran the back of his hand over his wet face. “He hates me… I know he hates me…” his voice muffled in between his sobs. “I wanna leave here,” he whined. Myungsoo felt the words prickled his eyes and his eyes damped in reflex.
He didn’t know how. He just knew Sungyeol meant him. Right that moment, he wanted the butler to know, Kim Myungsoo did not hate Lee Sungyeol.
He loves him.
“Young master…” the gentle voice calling him, but Myungsoo felt extremely tired and refused to succumb to the interruption. He pushed away the hands and turned over. A loud sigh and the hand persistently shook him with such meticulousness.
He sat up with a frown. “What?” he yelled groggily.
It was an obvious fact that he didn’t sleep well last night. After stumbling upon Sungyeol’s tearful conversation, he had run back to his room and felt his heart clenched tightly. He pulled his eyes open upon that thought and unfalteringly found his butler looking at him. His eyes were swollen and hid sadness within. Myungsoo almost blurted everything out, but decided it was not yet the right time.
“Young master, master Kim wishes to see you at breakfast,” his voice was meek, contained nothing of his usual happiness.
Myungsoo nodded, feeling a mask bore before his face once again. The warm bath did nothing to soothe his restlessness from the night before, but he showed none of it in his face. Expectedly, he was led to the dinning hall and was surprised that Sungjong would not be joining them both. His eyebrow arched ever so slightly.
“How was your summer?” his father asked, voice echoed in the spacious hall.
He knew his father didn’t really want to know and was only feeling customary to ask him that. He only nodded to reply, feeling reluctant to speak to the man. He knew his father would get to his point nonetheless.
“I mean, how was your summer with Sungjong?” the older man rephrased with a mysterious grin.
Myungsoo knew that smile. It meant his father had a hidden plan.
“The Lees propose to me regarding the engagement of Sungjong and you. The Lees have respectable background and I’m sure Sungjong would make far more decent partner for you in the future,” his father said. Myungsoo felt his fists clasped tightly and his nails dug deep into his flesh. “I want your opinion in this because this is…” Myungsoo slammed his fists on the table. The clacking of the plates against the mahogany table ricocheted through the wide hall.
“No,” the deep voice sounded through his gritted teeth.
Myungsoo stomped out. He laughed at himself sarcastically. He knew never to hope for his father to change, but he didn’t think his father could disappoint him more. Angrily, he began to run and upon reaching the ranch, he grabbed a horse and hopped on.
He pulled the rein harshly, heading out the ranch toward the forest. The cooling rapid air blew his hair backward and chilled his fuming mind. He thought of his disappointing father, and Sungjong’s smiles, and the apparent sorrow that the boy so expertly concealed. It hurt his head. He thought of Sungyeol and the sobs he heard the night before echoed in his ears.
His fingers grasped tightly the rein at the thought of Sungyeol.
Suddenly, the horse made a hasty left turn and the abrupt change startled Myungsoo. Despite an experienced rider, Myungsoo was caught off guard. He knocked off the saddle and for a moment, he felt his back hit an adjacent branch. He felt his body fell and crashed against the hard floor like a broken rag doll. There was pain all over his back and the sunlight peeking through the branches was blinding him.
“Oh my god! Master Myungsoo!” the voice sounded far distance. Sungyeol, he thought. He wanted to see that face again. He wanted to tell him he loves him. He thought he heard Sungyeol calling him before the bright light gradually replaced by complete darkness.
Myungsoo didn’t know how long he was knocked out. He felt pain and tiredness, especially on his back. He pushed through the drowsiness to lift his eyelids. The white ceiling greeted him first and he struggled to think back what happened. The pain was making him hard to think. He heard a loud sniff and turned his head with some effort.
There, right there was his Sungyeol.
The butler was crying with his tears running down his cheeks. His eyes were red and he looked sickly pallid. His lips were purplish and he looked so drained.
“Sungyeol,” he tried to call, but his throat hurt. He frowned and squeezed his eyes tightly. Twice, it was twice he saw Sungyeol cry. Both were because of him. He cursed inwardly and tried to pull up and immediately regretting it when the pain shook up doubles the amount. His cry croaked in his dry throat.
The gentle hand rubbed over his arms gently. He didn’t need to open his eyes to know it was Sungyeol. “Don’t move. Dr. Jung says you have to stay in bed for a whole week. Your back was badly bruised though it didn’t involve your spinal,” Sungyeol’s soft voice soothed him and he took almost a whole minute to understand what the butler said. “You scared me,” he added in a whisper.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said mutely before falling back to a deep slumber.
Myungsoo couldn’t be sure. For the past two days, he had been drifting in and out of sleep. It actually relieved him from the dulling pain on his back. The painkillers drown his consciousness. So, he couldn’t be sure if the meticulous hands attending to his wounds and his hygiene were Sungyeol. A sunshine morning when he finally woke up with eased pain, he was welcomed by a pretty face of Sungjong.
“Hyung!” the younger hollered.
Myungsoo attempted to talk, but his voice croaked. A straw was guided to his lips and he sucked the water greedily. However, the minimal movement again shook the pain up. He breathed deeply and the pain somehow subsided.
“How are you feeling?”
“Better,” he said and Sungjong heaved a sigh in relieve, “You’re still here.”
Sungjong nodded. “Of course, hyung. You don’t know how broken Sungyeol was for the past few days. He was so lost and wouldn’t even go to sleep.” Myungsoo felt his heart cracked. “He blamed himself, hyung.”
“Where is he now?”
Sungjong sighed. “I just convinced him to get some rest.” Right then, the door opened to reveal none other than the topic of their conversation. Sungjong sighed loudly. “Sungyeol-ah, why aren’t you resting?” the youngest asked.
Sungyeol looked like a mess. Dark circles looped under his doe eyes and his face was almost colorless. His butler vest unbuttoned and hang loosely on his thin frame. “Sungyeol,” Myungsoo called for him. The butler scurried to his side like a lost puppy.
“I’ll leave you two alone,” Sungjong said and closed the door behind him.
The butler held his hand. “How are you feeling, master Myungsoo?” he asked eagerly. Myungsoo smiled warmly at the older and the butler mimicked his action. Sungyeol’s smile seemed like a painkiller and Myungsoo immediately felt lightened.
“Sungyeol, can you please take care of yourself?” he watched Sungyeol’s gaze cast downward guiltily. “If you are sick, then who is going to take care of me?” Sungyeol nodded obediently. Myungsoo pulled out of Sungyeol’s grip and caressed Sungyeol’s face. His finger trailed along the older’s sharp jaw line. Sungyeol lost a lot more weight than he thought.
“Master Myungsoo,” he heard the soft voice called him and saw Sungyeol had smiled shyly. Myungsoo retracted his hand.
“Have you been eating?” Sungyeol avoided his gaze and nodded. “Liar,” the young master said accusingly and chuckled at his butler’s adorable pout. Myungsoo shook his head, feeling as if Sungyeol was the one injured, instead of him.
There was a knock on the door and a nurse entered to announce it was time for another round of antibiotics and painkillers. Myungsoo didn’t want to sleep anymore. He wanted to tell Sungyeol everything, but the butler had stepped aside, pulling his hand out of his reach.
Myungsoo took a deep breath of fresh flora scent with a hint of weird detergent. He chuckled inwardly. It was the aroma of Lee Sungyeol. He tightened his grip and drawn his body closer to the butler’s back. He felt goosebumps growing all over Sungyeol’s neck and noticing the butler’s ear glowed a shade of red.
Sungyeol was so shy, he thought to himself.
When Myungsoo woke up that day, exactly two weeks after the incident, he felt almost like another man. Dr. Jung came to see him that morning and told both him and the young butler that Myungsoo can now take solid food. The doctor even generously granted Myungsoo permission to leave the bed, seeing the boy’s speedy recovery.
After the lunch, Myungsoo unceremoniously grabbed Sungyeol’s arm. “Sungyeol, I’m sick of watching this ceiling for the past week,” he remembered saying that.
Sungyeol had very lovingly sat beside him, asking with such mellow voice, “Where do you want to go then?”
Myungsoo pondered. “The attic,” he replied.
“Let me get you a wheel chair,” the butler stood up, but Myungsoo was quick enough to stop him. The young master shook his head stubbornly.
“I don’t want to use a wheel chair! Carry me!” he whined.
Then, that was how the young master and his butler came to this circumstance. Sungyeol’s shoulder though was extremely boney, but emitted of tenderness and security like the person himself. Myungsoo leaned his head over the shoulder and watched blankly at Sungyeol opening the door. With gentleness, the butler put him down on the floor and panted harshly.
Grabbing Sungyeol’s hand, Myungsoo muttered softly, “You should eat more.” Sungyeol smiled and nodded. He then pulled away, but Myungsoo pulled him back and embraced the butler.
“Master Myungsoo?” Sungyeol uttered in shock.
“Err… you don’t have to, master Myungsoo.” He could hear the pout in Sungyeol’s voice and Myungsoo chuckled. “Can you let go?” and he heard the hesitation. Myungsoo slowly released Sungyeol, carefully not to hurt his own back. Surely Sungyeol was pouting with a healthy flush over his cheeks, just to show how embarrassed he was. Myungsoo rubbed the cheeks in his palms and leaned his head in. And, their lips touched ever so slightly.
Myungsoo pulled away just to see Sungyeol’s reaction. Those bright eyes stared at him, as if searching for something. There was shock, Myungsoo expected. There was also a glimpse of happiness, before sadness surfaced before the clear orbs.
“Sungyeol,” he called softly and his hand reached for Sungyeol’s. When Sungyeol pulled out of his reach, he felt hurt. The pain constricted his lungs and he couldn’t breathe.
“I can’t,” a mere whisper escaped the butler’s lips.
Myungsoo couldn’t understand. “Sungyeol, I think I like you,” he confessed and stretched out for Sungyeol’s hand. Ignoring the dull pain at his back, he grasped Sungyeol’s hand. “I know you like me too,” he said.
Tears rolled out of the butler’s eyes and Sungyeol shook his head in denial. He struggled to pull away. Myungsoo stubbornly stretching, and upon reaching to his limit, he let out a groan of pain. He felt himself falling into Sungyeol’s arms. “Master Myungsoo, we can’t. You are my young master, I am your butler,” the older reasoned softly. Myungsoo smiled at his word. He breathed harshly, trying to lessen the pain.
“You are mine, Sungyeol,” Myungsoo announced and he planted a kiss on Sungyeol’s neck. Sucking hungrily on the flesh, he heard Sungyeol moaned loudly. The butler then clamped his mouth. Myungsoo pulled away and pressed his forefinger at the love bite. Happy with his mark, he gathered both Sungyeol’s hand into his. “It doesn’t matter of who we are. What matters now is you like me and I like you too,” he said, staring back at Sungyeol’s teary eyes. “Do you like me?” he asked.
Sungyeol hesitated, but eventually nodded.
Myungsoo smiled and leaned in for a kiss.
Next: Part Three
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