“sugarplum, what do you want for your birthday?”
jeongguk smiles up at his mother and without hesitation replies “a dragon!”
the woman’s smile falls and she sighs with a gentle smile on her face as she boosts her son higher on her hip. “i already told you jeongguk, you can’t have a dragon. they aren’t real sugarplum.”
jeongguk pouts. “my taetae hyung says they’re real! he’s gonna get me one! he promised!”
his mother shakes her head with a fond smile and decides to drop it. “alright sweetie. then what else do you want for your birthday?”
the soon-to-be seven-year-old grins. “a bike!”
two weeks later it’s finally the first of september and jeongguk’s mother smiles happily as she watches her son run around park he’d chosen for his party. it’s mostly field but there are a few nice camellia trees around the edges and a small pond on the other end.
all of his classmates had shown up and a few friends from the neighborhood but mrs.jeon can’t help but worry as she looks around and can’t spot the boxy grin of jeongguk’s best friend anywhere. she knows jeongguk will be heartbroken if the older boy doesn’t show up for his party (especially since jeongguk had taken such care to hand make the invitation for taehyung and then walk it over to the nine-year-old’s house to hand deliver it while leaving the rest up to his mom).
thirty minutes later jeongguk sat in the middle of the party, looking nothing less than disappointed as he slowly opened his presents, eyes flicking to the crowd every few minutes to search for tanned skin and a rectangular grin and falling back to the ground when he couldn’t find them.
jeongguk’s mother sighed helplessly, completely aware that the seven-year-old’s mood was completely caused by the absence of his best friend. even as he pulled a pair of walky-talkies out of a black and red striped box, his brows remained furrowed and lips in a pout as he moved the empty box off his lap.
mrs.jeon was about to step forward and give her son a quick talk to try and encourage him when a small voice echoed through the park.
jeongguk’s head shot up and the smile that overtook his face was blinding. taehyung was covered in dirt and leaves from head to toe, scrapes decorating his knees and elbows and he was running as fast as he could towards jeongguk, hands cradling something against his chest.
jeongguk jumped to his feet and ran to meet the older boy as taehyung came to a stop in the shade, smile stretching from ear to ear as jeongguk jumped to embrace him, careful to avoid crushing whatever the elder was holding.
“hyung! you came!” jeongguk finally released his death grip on taehyung and the older smiled wider.
“of course i came ggukie! sorry i’m late, i had to catch your dragon!”
jeongguk gasped as taehyung brought what he was holding into the light. a chinese skink, about 17cm long and 5cm wide it sat lazily in taehyung’s scratched up and clearly bitten hands.
jeongguk’s mother watched in amazement as jeongguk screamed in delight and reached his hands out to pet the now, seemingly docile lizard as taehyung looked at him with the softest gaze.
“i’m sorry i couldn’t find a bigger dragon but this one is really good i promise! he’s travel size so he can fit in your room and he has super sharp claws and teeth see,” taehyung showed off one of his torn up hands. “so he can protect you from monsters and bullies and he can’t breath fire ‘cause he’s an earth dragon!”
jeongguk gushed and brought the elder into another hug and mrs.jeon smothered a laugh with her palm, smile beaming as she looked at the two best friend oblivious to the crowd of other party-invitees around them, completely in their own little world as they discussed cool names.