Author's Note:

Hello! Although Collections of Love is technically finished, I had the urge to write more for Junghoon and Jikyung. After much thought, I decided that I'd still write a few chapters, which will be called "Special Collections". They're really just snippets of Jikyung and Junghoon's lives. Pretty slice of life, I would say.

A part of me feels bothered because I'd like readers to envision the characters' future lives, but I honestly felt that there was something missing, that I still wanted to add more. 

I would say to treat this as a spin-off or a short sequel. For whoever that wants to stay in the tragic mode or would rather imagine what would happen to Jikyung and Junghoon, then don't read "Special Collections". "Special Collections" will really remove you from that sad atmosphere, but for those that want to be cheered up or are curious as to how I think the characters would be like later on, then do read "Special Collections".

01

“Hey,” Junghoon tells me, all of a sudden, when we’re looking at the exhibitions the Museum of Sex in New York, “let’s get married.”

I’m in the middle of commenting on how amazed I am to find that people really could make a living out of anything if they put their heart to it. After seeing those sex machines displayed and the comments from the inventors, I realized how wrong I was to judge in the first place. There is value in everything, and while I’m saying that I wonder how people would use those large machines. Somehow, it seems impractical to have such a large instrument in the room, and I’m expecting Junghoon to laugh at me like he always does. I’m expecting him to crack a joke and suggest that that’ll be my Christmas gift. Instead, he doesn’t even pop the question. He says it as a matter of fact.

Let’s get married.

I think this is the least romantic place for anyone to propose. He doesn’t even have a ring prepared, but I know that if he were to pick a ring that I didn’t like, he’d have to refund it. So, in that sense, he knows me well. I’m just wondering how he arrived at this conclusion at this place.

“Why are you asking now?” I decide to say.
“Well,” He wraps his long arm around the side of my body, forcing me to lean against him, “after I saw all those naked women, I realized that I had had enough of them. I think you’re more beautiful than any of them, and I’d like to spend the rest of my time knowing that you’ll always be by my side.”

I know he’s speaking the truth, but I like teasing him. “So, it was only after you did a test on yourself to see if you had any sexual urges for these photos did you realize that you were only turned on by me?” I eye him like an amateur detective would to a criminal.

“Well . . .”

“And because you are only turned on by me, you want to marry me now so that you can satisfy your sexual urges?” I continue to taunt him. 

Junghoon is blushing a bit as he stumbled through his words, “W-w-well, isn’t it reasonable for a guy to only want to fu, no, I mean, copulate with the girl he loves?”

Copulate. He’s still worried that I can’t take his vulgarity. Cute, I think and chuckle at him. Because of that, I let it slip out of my mouth: “Okay. I’ll marry you.”

“Wh-what?” He’s staring at me in disbelief. “What’d you say? You want to marry me? You’re agreeing?” I bob my head up and down to show that he’s right, and immediately, he lifts me from my feet, carrying me like a princess.

I laugh at how silly he is behaving, and continue to torment him, “You know, I’m agreeing but this doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to carry me from this museum back to your place and toss me on a bed so that we can celebrate what happened through the art of making love.”

“Oh come on, I was just—“

I cut him off and use his neck to pull myself up to give him a peck on his cheek. “You’re really cute, Junghoon,” I utter aloud. I notice that he is looking away from me, probably embarrassed by what I did. It’s funny how shy he can be in public, yet how playful he can be in between our sheets. So, I get my way, and this time, I place my lips on his neck. Again, I compliment, “I like how your cheeks are so red.”

“Ji-Ji-Jikyung . , , I don’t th-th-think this—“

“What?” I joke. “I’m just saying why I love you.”

At the sound of love, Junghoon almost lets me slip from his hands. Luckily, I cling onto his neck while he grabs ahold of my legs just in time. I know I don’t say love a lot to him; I can count the number of times I have told him that I loved him with my fingers. Love . . . is just a word that I don’t use often in my vocabulary. 

“Jesus,” I hear him mumble to himself. “Why do you always do this to me?”

He probably didn’t think I heard him because his mouth gapes when I decide to finally explain to him everything. “Because I love teasing you and seeing you get as shy as an innocent boy. Because I love how sexy suits look on you. I love how you smell when you’re not sweating. I love how you’ll let me do whatever I want. I love how you’ll actually listen to me. I love how every now and then you’ll ask me if there’s anything that pisses me off and force me to share my feelings so I won’t explode on you. I love how you’ll accept anything I wear, like how I’m wearing a chiffon dress while we’re having burgers. There’s more that I love and hate about you, but I can’t think of more right now.”

He takes a minute to look at me before admitting, “Wow . . . umm . . . I never knew.”

“I know.” I giggle. “It’s not every day that you get to hear that from me.”

“Yeah . . . definitely not common at all.”

I think that’s what Taeyang’s death has taught me to do, to be truthful about what I’m feeling. He never got a chance to voice his own concerns or problems, and I don’t want to die thinking about all those what ifs. I know I’m defying what I’ve been taught as a child to do. I’m supposed to be quiet and behave well. I remember disappearing and hiding in my room whenever my parents fought. I always secretly begged that they would never move to my room to fight and ask me to be someone’s witness. Whatever I said I was wrong, so I never said much in the end. I never told them how I felt because that would only cause trouble, and there wasn’t more energy to resolve other conflicts other than theirs.

That’s not how I want my marriage to be. I don’t want to pretend that everything is okay, and so I say nothing. That’s why I’m accepting Junghoon’s proposal. He encourages me to confront my problems and frustrations, and doesn’t let me push them aside. He makes me want to be better in a weird way. Maybe, he won’t be completely faithful to me. He might be attracted to other nude bodies, but I know that’s part of him. I’m not forcing him to bind his body to me. I just want him to be there for me. I like waking up beside him in the morning. I know I’m in good hands; I feel safe.

“You know, I’ll actually marry you if you were serious about it.” I just want to confirm if he isn’t joking.

“I’m always serious about these things,” he reassures me. “It’s you that’s hard to read.”

“Well, I’m saying yes. Yes, let’s get married,” I stress clearly.

“And I’m still going to carry you all the way to the car. Put you down, drive back to my apartment, open the car door for you, pick you up again and carry you to my bed.” He snickers like a teenager skipping school for the first time. Then, he leans in to whisper in my ear, “Then, I’ll . . .”

“You’ll do what?”

This time, he’s the one that makes fun of me. “I’ll lie on the bed with you. We’ll spend the whole night . . talking.”

I burst out laughing. “All right. Sounds good with me. Let’s also pop in a movie like ‘He’s Just Not That into You’ or ‘The Proposal’!”

“Nah, I was thinking that we’d just lie on our backs and look at the ceiling. We’ll pretend that we’re star gazing.”

“And count the specks on your ceiling? I swear we’re going to find a spider this way.”

“And then you’ll kill it.”

“Hey! You’re the one that’s going to kill it.”

Junghoon starts to walk back towards the entrance of the museum as he argues, “You’re the one that always sees bugs.”

“It’s not my fault that I know where they like to hide. You’re the man, so you should kill it.”

“You know when we actually move in together, we’ll have to figure out these things.”

“Then, I think we should spend the night allocating jobs, like who will wash dishes, who will look after the kids, etc.”

“You already want a kid that soon?”

I clarify, “Not the first year of our marriage. Maybe, a few years after, assuming that we don’t divorce.”

“You honestly think we won’t actually spend the rest of our lives together?” He gives me that quizzical look that makes me feel a bit guilty.

“Well, you never know. We shall see. Let’s have a pre-nup just to be safe.”

“Fine . . . if that makes you feel better.” He lets out a long sigh. “Let’s also have a deal then.”

“What sort of deal?” I wonder.

“It won’t be with money. Don’t worry,” he comfort s me. “Every day that we don’t divorce, you’ll have to give me a kiss and the day that you stop kissing me is the day that I know that you want out.”

“So what if I’m on some business trip or you’re too busy doing surgeries that we don’t see each other every day?” I question him.

He smirks at me, and answers, “You know, be creative. Send me a text with an emoticon of lips.”

“Honestly, I think this is a bit impractical.”

“All right, fine. Let’s make it so that you either kiss me or tell me something that you love about me once a day.”

“And . . . how would I know when you’d want to leave me?” I ponder as we head out onto the streets to his parked car. 

“Because I won’t leave unless you want me to go away.”

“But what if you fall in love with another woman?”

“Trust me,” he broadcasts. “I have met too many women, and none of them has stirred my heart like you. Maybe, they had my body, but I never, ever handed them my heart. Jikyung . . . you’re the only one I want to marry, and that’s it.”

I don’t ask anymore because who knows what might happen in the future. Just like how I agreed to give this relationship another shot, I’m willing to give this marriage a go. 

“And Junghoon,” I confess once we get to his car, and he’s trying to open the car door with one hand, “I think you’re the only one that I’d ever consider trying out a marriage with.”

There Junghoon goes chuckling away as if he just discovered the world’s greatest treasure chest, and that’s when I know exactly that I’m making the right decision, and I’d like to think that Taeyang did a favour for me. He led me back to Junghoon. If it weren’t for Taeyang, I’d still be sulking around, hopelessly thinking that there’d be something more.
As selfish and cruel as this seems, I’m glad Taeyang disappeared out of my life completely. I’m glad he is dead. I’m glad I’ll never see him again, and I don’t have that crazy urge for him to be back, to make me feel complete. Whoever that is willing to stay with you in the end is the one that matters, and that’s Junghoon.

Now that we’re settled in our seats, and Junghoon is starting the engine, I pronounce in my best voice, “I mean it, you know, about what I said.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” He adjusts the mirrors and then buckles his seat belt. Before driving off, Junghoon gives his full attention on me and adds, “I was being serious too about spending the rest of my life with you.”

“Okay, but where are we going to live? Am I going to New York or are you going to actually come back to Seoul?” I confirm. Last time he went to Seoul by using his days off. He kind of lied in that way about quitting his job and relocating to Seoul. I still remember being annoyed at him for that, and now, I’m taking a vacation to see him. It’s really a long-distance relationship.

“That is a very good question, Jikyung.” I glance at the window and sigh. That’s exactly what he says when he’s unsure of what to do. Relay the problem back to me. He must have noticed my annoyance for he notes, “Let’s just give that question a rest for now, and just lie on my bed huh?”

“Yes, we’ll lie on your bed and spend the whole night figuring this out together,” I reply rather strictly. “Worst off, we’ll flip a coin three times and whoever loses will have to relocate.”

Junghoon is laughing at me by opening his mouth too widely. “Oh, Jikyung, that’s probably the silliest thing I’ve ever heard from you . . . but sure. Let us still debate and end up doing your coin toss.”

Yes, I’ll leave that to fate. I’ve chosen enough for now. 

Lee Junghoon, I do.

I do want to be with you.
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