D Minus Chapter 24

Author: nicotine

Hajin’s eyes widened. While he passed the time as if he was dead, it was completely winter outside. White snow was piled up on the ground, and long icicles froze in places on the eaves. The valley, where you could hear the sound of running water not too long ago, was frozen solid, and the firewood piled up in the early winter was also gone. Hajin, who was looking around with his arms around Jong-hwa’s neck, smiled lightly.

“I didn’t know snow was so pretty when I lived in Seoul.”

“It is nice to know now.”

“There are so many things I did for the first time with you.”

“I’m doing almost everything with you for the first time.”

“I can’t win you every single time…”

A faint laugh was heard from Hajin. Jonghwa raised his mouth and moved slowly. The snow was so heavy that every step, covered up to his calves.

“Have you decided which country you are going to?”

“Yeah.”

“Where are you going?”

“A foreign country.”

“So, where are you going?”

“Just…I am going abroad.”

“Then, where are you going? USA? Japan? China? You have to tell me the name of the country. What do you mean a foreign country?”

The sentence was a little long, but Hajin was breathing. As if he had lost her strength, Hajin breathed heavily as he buried his cheek on Jonghwa’s shoulder. Jonghwa, who bounced his body to correct his posture, rolled his eyes once.

“Isn’t a foreign country a country?”

“No, that’s right. You promised me that you would live abroad.”

“Okay.”

Hajin thought Jonghwa would be more stubborn but unexpectedly, Jonghwa meekly nodded his head. Hajin, who sensed the rumblings coming from deep inside, decided to use this as an opportunity to take a move forward. He didn’t care at all about what kind of thoughts and emotions Jonghwa would have to listen to, so he did it quite selfishly.

“Will you bury me when I die? Or cremation?”

“Fuck…You’re asking everything.”

Unsurprisingly, Jonghwa’s reaction was slightly harsher than before. Hajin also wanted to avoid it until the end, but since it was a problem that he had to solve before he died, he pretended not to notice that his heart was pounding.

“Are you going to bury me?”

“Can you not ask me about that?”

“I hate being buried. I think it would be frustrating. I think cremation is better. It is easy to handle.”

“Even if you put me in the ossuary, no one will come to visit, so just throw me in the sea. You can take care of me and throw me into the sea when you go abroad. It would be nice to be able to travel abroad like that.”

Compared to the heavy subject, the voice was very light. It was his own struggle to avoid the sadness that was approaching head-on.

“I want to step on the snow.”

There was quite a long silence as Jonghwa did not answer. Hajin, who had waved his skinny legs in the air a couple of times, whined, asking to be taken down. Jonghwa seemed to be thinking about it for a while but soon kicked the snow that was piled up neatly to make room for Hajin.

“It’s cold, so don’t touch it. Just look, okay?”

As if the snowballs clinging to his body didn’t matter, Jonghwa only took care of Hajin. Hajin, who stepped on the floor, braced his staggering body and stood upright. The wide-open field of snow was so beautiful that he was at a loss for words for a moment.

Even such white and beautiful snow melted over time. He didn’t like the black water that would be left after melting, so Hajin didn’t like snow. He had a sudden thought. It was like a life that was withering away, but he wondered if he wouldn’t be as pretty and clean as before…

“…Idiot.”

Jonghwa walked in a line around the place where Hajin was standing and drew a big heart on the snow. When he returned to Hajin, the two of them were inside a large heart made by Jonghwa’s footprints.

“Hey.”

“…Hm?”

“I love you.”

“In my next life…I will still love you.”

When Hajin thought about it, he wondered if he fell in love with him because he was fascinated by his sharp impression and pure brown eyes that didn’t go well with him. Just like now, he was mesmerized by Jonghwa’s twinkling eyes as if they were about to pour out stars.

Jonghwa wrapped his lips around Hajin’s. It was still a rough and clumsy kiss, but the warm body temperature contrasted with the cold wind was so good that Hajin accepted it, ignoring the pain spreading from his spine to her abdomen.

“What day is it today?”

Quite a bit of time has passed. In the meantime, Hajin passed out several times. He could feel his mind coming and going, so it seemed that death was really close now. When Hain asked while lying on his bed, he couldn’t sleep, so Jonghwa, who was beside him, answered right away.

“24 days.”

It had been 4 days. Already four days had passed while his mind was going back and forth. Hajin’s cheekbones rose as he folded his trembling fingers and counted.

“Tomorrow’s Christmas…”

Hajin didn’t go to church or the cathedral, but somehow he always spent Christmas properly. He didn’t do anything grand, he would buy a little cake or wine and enjoy the holidays alone. This year, she had gloomy thoughts about leaving without being able to go through Christmas, but his heart was very excited as he seemed to have received an unexpected gift.

“There is a tree outside.”

“Tree?”

“Christmas tree. I went downtown and bought it.”

“When did you go downtown?”

“A few days ago. I bought some things when you collapsed and were in the hospital.”

“A few days ago?”

The last day Hajin remembered was the 20th when he stepped on snow with Jong-hwa, but he really couldn’t remember when he went to the hospital in the meantime. Jonghwa quickly changed the mood, probably noticing his frustration.

“I tried to decorate it myself, but I can’t because my fucking fingers are greasy. I just bought it whole.”

“I want to see.”

“Okay.”

Jonghwa skillfully carried Hajin on his back. Hajin also wrapped his arms around his neck as if he was used to it.

“Wow…”

The cabin deep in the mountains went very well with the Christmas tree. It would have been perfect if there was a bonfire, but it was a pity that there was no way to light a fire inside. Hajin, who was sitting on the sofa, looked at the tree in the middle of the living room with his eyes twinkling. As if the saying that he had bought the entire display was true, there was everything from large bells to Santa dolls.

“Are you okay? You’re acting like a kid…”

Contrary to his blunt tone, Jonghwa’s pupils contain indescribable deep love. Hajin moved her stiff facial muscles around and tried to show a smile. Even though it was crumpled and the result was bizarre, Jonghwa only repeated that he was pretty and Hajin laughed.

“What time is it?”

“Eleven o’clock.”

“It’s Christmas in an hour.”

“Yeah. Let’s wake up tomorrow and blow the candles.”

Jonghwa couldn’t say ‘Let’s eat’. Hajin replaced his meals with fluids given by the hospital. He vomited after eating, sometimes even without eating. Even so, Jonghwa, who gave him a spoon to try, stopped talking about it at some point. It seemed that he had decided to accept that Hajin’s body had reached its limit.

“No. I want to wait.”

“What are you waiting for? You are not feeling well and you need to sleep.”

“No. Wait until it’s midnight. You bring me a cake.”

“Why do you insist on shit?”

“Just. It’s Christmas.”

Despite the stubbornness that didn’t suit him, Jonghwa sighed quietly but didn’t add anything. This time, it was Hajin who won. In fact, Hajin always won.

“How many minutes do you have left?”

“Forty-five minutes.”

“There is still much time left.”

Hajin wondered why the time that usually flew by so fast today was so slow, and he hated Jonghwa’s wristwatch for no reason. The backs of the two sitting side by side in front of a tree with twinkling light bulbs were reflected in the window.

“Jonghwa.”

“Hm.”

“You are the best gift I have ever received.”

“…What, all of a sudden…”

In the middle of the hoarse voice, the sound of breathing was mixed. Jonghwa’s earlobes, which had been listening calmly, heated up in an instant. Noticing how his heartbeat getting faster and faster, Ha Jin distorted his face and smiled. Now even the muscles in his face stiffened, and he couldn’t even laugh to his heart’s content.

“I am sure that if I hadn’t been terminally ill if I had still been living a healthy life as a teacher, I would have loved you.”

“Of course.”

It wouldn’t sound very pleasant to hear, but Jonghwa shook his head vigorously as if it were natural. Hajin struggled and laughed.

“No. I would have loved you whenever I met you. Like now.”

The cracking voice struggled through sentence after sentence. Jonghwa never stopped him and patiently waited for Hajin. Silence passed between the two for a moment. Hearing Jonghwa’s heartbeat, Hajin smiled lightly and wondered what Jonghwa was thinking as he blankly stared at the bell hanging from the tree.

“You must be happy. Even after I die.”

“You should be happy. You must be happy.”

Neither of them cried. Hajin spoke in a slow but calm voice, and Jonghwa refrained from answering as he fiddled with the large bell. Except for the ticking of the clock on the wall, there was silence.

“It is time.”

“Merry Christmas, Park Hajin.”

Jonghwa did not give Hajin the answer he wanted. The time that had passed in the meantime gave Hajin the last Christmas of her life.

Hajin, who was staring at the yellow lightbulb, hugged Jonghwa by the neck and kissed him on the lips. His whole body was so weak that he couldn’t even use his tongue. It was no different from a kiss given by children, but it made his heart flutter. It was because their love grew beyond measure.

“What day is it?”

“The 29th.”

Thank god. Hajin, who could only half-open her eyes, was relieved. In his dim memory, he seemed to have vomited and fainted several times, but fortunately, only four days passed. It was difficult to breathe on his own now. Jonghwa, who made a fuss and wanted to admit him to the hospital, broke her persistence when Hajin said that he wanted to leave quietly in a comfortable place.

“Hug me.”

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