You have just gotten through a terrible flight, hours of traffic jams, and an emotional rollercoaster that seemed like it would never meet its end. For the past three months, you have felt like the world was closing in on you and everyone was against you. Even when you were the one hurting.
But as Kim Namjoon, your best friend of sixteen years, opens the door to his home right the moment you rang his doorbell and welcomes you with his bright smile, you can feel every weight on your shoulders being lifted. If you had questioned yourself before on whether or not it was a good idea to fly across the country to see him, you are no longer regretting that impulsive decision you have made.
“I hope this is okay,” he says as he guides you to his living room. He places your suitcase down near the coffee table at the center before turning around to face you.
Looking around the room, you can only sigh. Your emotion is still all over the place and you cannot help but welcome the comfort that is suddenly engulfing you the moment you are in the shelter of his home. “Oh, Namjoon, this is more than okay. Really, you don’t have to do this. You could have just let me stay in the nearest motel or something and I’ll be alright on my own. At least until I can get my new place settled. I’m a big girl, after all.”
“I know you are.” Namjoon chuckles a little as he walks over to you. “But I also know that even some of the strongest ones can be reckless after dealing with a terrible break up such as yours, that’s why I need you to stay close just so I can make sure you’ll be alright as you recover.”
“You were worried I’d be reckless?” You ask him, raising your brows as you act like you are surprised at his admission. A part of you actually are. But then again, you would probably expect him to feel that way as the best friend that he is. You know that you would have felt the same if he was ever in your position.
“Aww, you care about me,” you tease him, making him scoff in return. “There’s no need to worry. It has been months so it’s no longer that big of a deal.” You grit your teeth through the lie. It has been months, but it sure doesn’t make things any easier when everything around you—and everyone—seemed to be so adamant in reminding you of your recent heartbreak.
Hence, the reason why you found your way here.
“I always do care about you, Peach. And I always will. I know that it is still affecting your life cause you won’t be here if it wasn’t,” he says, looking so sincere that you can silently swear that your heart is melting to a puddle inside your chest. It leaves you speechless. Especially when he calls you with the sweet nickname that he had given you years ago when you were still back in school. The only thing you can do is smile to him, whispering a soft, “Thank you,” and leave a kiss on his cheek before walking towards the sofa at the corner of the room.
“Would you like something to drink? Tea? Coffee? Or something strong to help you relax?” Namjoon offers you as you settle down in his plush sofa. His voice sounds caring enough to have you slowly relaxing but you feel the agitation growing deep in your chest with the lack of his playful and flirty wits.
“Something warm would be nice. The flight was a bit intense thanks to the bad weather.”
He nods. “How about some hot chocolate and rum? You used to love that drink.”
And you still do. “That would be lovely.”
Within the next hour, you finally find yourself truly relaxing. The hot chocolate and rum which he made for you—the way he knows how you liked them—and the warm conversation you share with him help you to it. Sharing the tight space on the sofa, you lie your head on his shoulder as you catch up on the things you have been missing out on each other’s lives.
Ever since Namjoon had moved to the other side of the country eight years ago, you could only talk to him through Skype chat and video calls. Yet it was still not enough to allow you both to properly update each other on your lives. Sometimes you even feel like the articles written about him on the media had given you more updates on him more than your midnight video calls have been.
Although you could blame the latter to your ex, who was the reason why you had started contacting Namjoon less and less for the past two years. Although JB never had much trouble in getting along with your circle of friends, he was clear about his animosity against Namjoon. Looking back to it now, you can see that he might have been slightly intimidated when it came to your best friend. Young, single, good looking, and already leading his own hotel business venture that was vastly growing, there was no doubt that Namjoon had intimidated numbers of males, and females, throughout his life, and your ex had more than one reason to feel that way against him.
Speaking of your ex—
Right when the thought of him crosses your mind, you straighten up and pull away from Namjoon’s warmth. Sensing your change of mood, Namjoon reaches out to grab you on the waist and stops you from moving away.
“Are you okay?”
Stifling a yawn, you force a smile to him. “I’m fine. Probably just tired, I guess. And you know what that rum does to me.”
Namjoon snickers lightly. “I do. Remember when we went skiing during our senior year and you insisted to go out after we had hot cocoa and rum? It was the first time you taught me how to make the drink. You asked me to help you practice skiing that night but you were literally falling asleep on me before we could do anything.”
Oh, you do remember it. As the memory of him dragging your sleepy ass away from the slope and back to the cottage you rented back then, you cannot help but laugh. “Oh yeah, I remember. Those were fun times,” you tell him while chuckle, before the yawn finally makes its escape.
“Come on,” Namjoon says, nudging your shoulder with his as he stands up. “Let me show you to your room. I’ve prepared those scented candles you love so much to help you sleep. And I also have a few tubs of your favourite pistachio ice cream in the freezer for whenever you need them.”
Shaking your head, you softly speak to him, “You really shouldn’t have gone through so much trouble just for me, Namjoon.” Sighing, you look into his eyes as he turns to you. “I already told you this, I can look for another place—”
“I know you can,” he cuts you off. “But I don’t want to. Not yet. Now come on, you should rest.”
Figuring that there is no point in arguing with him, and you are too exhausted to do so and are already in dire need of a nap, you follow him to the room where you will be residing in until the day you are ready to set out on your own. Even if you cannot deny the fact that his welcome and his kindness had been the perfect remedy that you truly needed, you remind yourself to not rely on him too much.
He has his own life, after all, and you still have a long way to find your own after the previous one you have had crumbled to bits. Right before you finally fall asleep, you remind yourself that you will try to talk to him again about finding your own space as soon as you can.
Of course, knowing Namjoon, he would still refuse to back down.
When you wake up from the nap hours later, you find Namjoon in the dining room, setting up plates of what seem to be takeout dinners for two.
“Oh, you’re awake,” he calls out as he looks up. “I was just about to get you.”
“What is this?”
“Dinner. I ordered some Chinese food for us. I would’ve cooked for you but we all know I’m terrible when it comes with dealing with pots and pans,” he says, chuckling to himself. “But I got your favourite—orange chicken and fried wontons, among others.”
Looking at the meal that is being set up on the table with wide eyes, you could only wonder loudly, “This is too much.”
Hearing your words, Namjoon looks around the table. “Is it really that much? I thought you might need some extra meal after the jet-lag, so—”
“No, that’s not what I meant,” you say to him, laughing. “I meant this—you taking care of me this much. It feels too much.” Especially because he continues to make it clear how well he truly knows you.
“It’s never too much for you, Peach. Let me take care of you.”
Once again, the look on his face and his firm tone leave no room for discussion, so you take a seat where he had ushered you to and listen as he calmly talks to you about his day while he continues preparing for dinner. Among the things he had been questioning you about, you are grateful that he had avoided talking about your recent divorce. The question would come to surface pretty soon, you know it, but you are relieved when he keeps bringing up all the lighter topics to talk about.
“What time do you go to work tomorrow?”
Namjoon looks up and takes a moment to think. “I usually leave around eight in the morning, but there is really no need for me to rush tomorrow. Why?”
“I don’t know,” you shrug. “Perhaps you could give me a ride while you head to the office.”
“Do you need to go somewhere?”
“I thought about visiting the property agent. I know that the place I’ve been looking at won’t be available until next month, but I figured I would still drop by and see if they have any other options for me to look at,” you tell him, making him look up at you and frown.
“What’s the rush? You really don’t have to move that soon, do you? Your new job won’t start until months from now. You only have been here less than a day.”
“I know, but I also don’t think it would be such a bright idea to overstay my welcome,” you try to argue. “And there are so many other things that would make this a big deal. JB would be one example. Even if the divorce has been settled, he would still try to look for reasons to make my life hell. I just know it. What if he finds me here with you—”
“So you’re worried that he would come here searching for you?” Namjoon asks you with a smirk, showing off his dimple as he teases. To which you could only shrug, knowing that trying to find you or do anything about your leave would be the last thing your ex would do. If he does eventually do something to find where you are, it would most definitely only for the sole reason of using it against you.
Having no words to voice it out loud, you could only fall silent as you watch him walking over the table with the plated takeover dinner which he had made for you. His eyes are once again filled with sincerity when he says, “You know that I’ll always protect you, don’t you? And whatever help you need from me, I’ll give it to you. You’re no longer alone in this, _____.”
Looking into his eyes, you believe every word he says. And that is what scares you the most.