Dedication: Steph (readyforever), this one's for you. Take responsibility.
Glossary of Korean terms/cultural notes found here. A quick read-through before reading the fic may be helpful for some.
"I don't believe we've been through this before, Father, so I would like another explanation, yes."
"Um. Well. Years ago, before we adopted you—"
"Our Jaejoongie's adopted??"
"I thought it was pretty obvious when I didn't look anything like you, noona. And when I didn't look like any of my other seven noona-deul. It's okay, I've gotten over it by now."
"We're sorry we didn't tell you earlier, Jaejoongah."
"It's okay, Umma, I understand. And whether or not you're my biological mother, you'll always be my mom."
"Dear, please don't cry. We still need to explain to Jaejoongie about the circumstances surrounding his birth."
"...And maybe explain why there's a guy—"
"—a hot guy—"
"—why there's a hot guy sitting on our couch with his father, insisting that we get married?!"
"Ah. Yes. Jaejoongah, your biological mother was actually a part of a jaebol family, who ran away with a poor student when she was nineteen. She had you when she was twenty, and since she had refused to marry Jung Minho and bring the Jung and the Kim family together in a business tie, you were promised to the son of Jung Minho. Now that his son, our Yunho here, is twenty years old, they have come to collect their end of the bargain and to take you away to their home."
"Hello, Kim Jaejoong. My name is Jung Yunho, and I am honored to be the one to take you to the altar."
"I'M NOT GETTING MARRIED! NO OFFENSE, YUNHO-SSHI, YOU'RE REALLY HOT AND JUST MY TYPE AND ALL, BUT I REFUSE TO WED MYSELF AWAY JUST BECAUSE THE PARENTS THAT DIDN'T EVEN RAISE ME DECIDED BEFORE I WAS BORN THAT I WAS AN EXCELLENT BARGAINING CHIP."
"Jaejoongah, please, stop yelling, you're disturbing our guests—"
"WELL, THESE GUESTS ARE DISTURBING ME. NEVER, IN MY TWENTY YEARS OF LIFE, HAVE I EVER HEARD OF ANYTHING MORE PREPOSTEROUS, AND THAT'S INCLUDING ALL THE KOREAN DRAMA SCENARIOS CHANGMINNIE TOLD ME ABOUT."
"Yo, Jaejoongah, what's the problem? I mean, a guy that's rich, handsome, polite—he's basically the perfect pitcher. I've never seen anything more like a yaoi manga than this."
"Noona, I swear—"
"And look at you! You're beautiful, a good cook, shorter, slighter in build, more femin—"
"If you finish that sentence, Noona, you are going to regret it."
"Actually, I think Jaejoong-sshi has a sort of masculine charm about him."
"Oh my God, that's so sweet! Jaejoongah, he's sticking up for your bruised pride! You guys are married already."
"Yunhoyah, are you sure you want to do this? We can come up with another way, I'm sure."
"No, father. I am quite satisfied with these circumstances. Jaejoong-sshi and I will wed in a few months, and he will be taught the ways of business starting immediately. We will also have to pay respects to your biological grandparents; I'm sure they'd have loved you. I trust you know at least a little about business, Jaejoong-sshi?"
"Considering that it's my major, yes, I do, you asshole. And I would rather not see you again. Ever."
So said Jaejoong, but come the next day, exactly twelve noon, Jaejoong was sitting in his room, watching his third noona prance about his room while tossing clothes at his head.
"Noona," he said irritatedly, "what is this madness."
Mikyeong, Jaejoong's third sister, threw red silk boxers into his face. "You've got to get ready for your date with your future husband! Put on those boxers."
Closing his eyes and taking deep breaths, Jaejoong pulled the offending piece of silk off his face and said, "Noona, he is not my future husband. Nor am I wearing this." Tossing it aside, he muttered, "This was not a funny gag gift, by the way."
Completely unruffled, Mikyeong pulled the rest of his wardrobe out of his closet and onto the bed. "Maybe something simple. Where did he say he would be taking you?"
Jaejoong crawled back into bed and pulled the covers over his head. "Sukchon's, I think. We're meeting at two, anyway, so I don't need to get ready until one thirty."
Jaejoong knew he was in trouble when he heard only a beat of silence, followed by:
"You get out of the bed right this instant and take a shower."
Shuddering at the tone his sister was taking, Jaejoong stubbornly pulled the blankets tighter around him and said, "No."
"Kim Jaejoong. You better take that shower now, or I am going to call up Yunho and tell him all about that time when you were eight and you wet the bed because you had watched a scary movie and crawled into bed with Sookjin and Minkyeongie with your wet pants while crying and saying, 'Shawty, shawty, shawty.' Or maybe about that time when you were thirteen and Yoosunie walked in on you masturbating to a picture of Won—"
"I'm up!" Jaejoong yelled, face red as he burst out his covers. He ran for the door. "I'll go take that shower!"
"Scrub hard! You know which part I'm talking about!" Minkyeong yelled after him.
"Excuse me, but please let go of my hand."
"I'm sorry, Jaejoong-sshi, but didn't I tell you I'd pick you up?"
"And I believe I told you there'd be no need. I would have been perfectly fine on the bus, and I wouldn't have been late."
"Well, we're here now."
"You know, completely disregarding something a person says isn't the best way to impress that person."
"Forgive me. It's been a long day."
"Che. Hey, I can get my own door, damn it."
"I-I'm sorry. I've never gone out with a man as a date before."
"I'm sure you were quite the ladykiller."
"It was all for convenience. Believe me, you're the only one I've been serious over."
"Whoever gets to the door first can walk through it himself. So you were a player who went through women like tissue paper."
"I never played with anyone! Just walk through the door first, please."
"For two. I believe a reservation was made for a Jung Yunho-sshi."
"It was made under a Kim Jaejoong-sshi, actually."
"Yes, sir. Right this way, please."
"Let's just have this lunch and go. I think it's obvious you're not in the mood."
Halfway through their appetizer (oven-baked baguette with asparagus-spinach dip), Yunho wiped his hands on the cloth napkin and sighed. "Jaejoong-sshi, I'm sorry. I had an unpleasant experience in the morning and I was letting that frustration out on you."
Surprisingly, Jaejoong just stuffed the last of his bread into his mouth and laughed, reaching for another slice and dipping it heavily into the creamy dip. "I figured, Yunho-sshi. I wasn't offended, as I know this lunch wasn't your idea in the first place. I was just annoyed at how you tried to treat me like a girl. Is the company tough to handle?"
Yunho stared, watching the pale faced man take bite after bite of bread. "It's a lot of responsibility, yes, but with that much responsibility, I'm given that much power," he managed to say. "I find that I can make greater contributions to the community this way."
"Huh," Jaejoong said, surprised himself as he took another piece of bread. "That's... amazing." He blinked a few times, a smile slowly touching the corners of his lips.
Chuckling, Yunho took the last of the bread and nodded to a waiter, who came by to take the empty plate. "Thank you," he said. "When I first read up on you I was impressed myself. You volunteer so often at the orphanage that I thought you worked there."
"Ah, I started ever since I first suspected I was adopted. At first it was out of a feeling of obligation, and then I really grew to love the kids. They're all so adorable."
Their entrees came then, medium-rare steaks done to perfection. Conversation lulled as they started to eat, then Yunho cut himself another piece of beef and laughed quietly, his expression self-mocking. "It was my idea," he admitted quietly.
Jaejoong stilled, halfway through sawing away at his steak. "Huh?"
"The lunch was my idea. But the restaurant was my mother's insistence. I—I actually prefer kimchi jjigae."
"No, no, don't feel bad! I have more than enough kimchi here, anyway."
"Still, you don't have to—"
"I would've felt bad about stinking up a beautiful apartment like yours."
"Haha, it's not that great. The five minutes I made you wait outside the door was so I could shove everything into my closet and spray room freshener everywhere. Is there anything I can help you with?"
"Can you drink?"
"Yes? Why do you ask?"
"Um, well. I have this craving for some soju tonight, but I don't like drinking alone. So if you didn't mind, I thought we could get some drinks together."
"Sounds great! Should—should I go out and get some drinks?"
"I'd love that."
"I'll grab my keys and go, then."
"Come back safely."
Jinhee, Jaejoong's oldest sister, grumbled under her breath as she tried to jam a key into the keyhole. "Stupid Jaejoong," she mumbled, swearing as she realized it was the wrong key. "Stupid Jaejoong, not answering our calls. He could have at least given me a text message, does he not know much we wanted to hear about his date with Yunho?"
After what seemed like an eternity, she managed to wrestle the door open and burst inside, brandishing her purse like a weapon. "Jaejoongah?" she called, looking around the apartment warily. "Jaejoongah, are you here?"
Taking a step in, she tripped over the shoes and looked down. There were two pairs of shoes, one of them Jaejoong's and the other unrecognizable. Probably Yunho's, Jinhee thought gleefully, and she took off her shoes and stepped gingerly onto the carpet.
Strewn about the apartment were the telltale green bottle of soju, piles of crackers and dried squid scattered about the table and its vicinity. "My god, did they buy out a pojangmacha or something?" she muttered, covering her nose with her hands as the smell of alcohol and kimchi hit.
"Jaejoongah?" she tried calling again, heading towards the bedroom. "Jaejoongah?"
When she opened the door, this is what she saw:
Jaejoong, boxers low on his hips, worn t-shirt hiked up his chest until his nipples could be seen, was spread-eagled on his bed, blankets kicked off to the side. Yunho, on the other hand, had only his boxer-briefs on, pressed up against Jaejoong's side. His left arm was Jaejoong's makeshift pillow, his right hand was lying gently over Jaejoong's chest, directly above his heart.
Frantically searching through her pockets for her cell phone, she located it, snapped it open, and dialed her mother, stepping out of the room into the living room. "Umma!" she squealed the moment someone picked up the phone, "Umma! Success! Jaejoong and Yunho-sshi spent the night together! I saw it with my own two eyes, they were in bed with only their underwe—"
She was tackled suddenly from behind by a panicked Jaejoong. "Noona!" he yelled, and then, for the phone, he added, "Umma!"
"Ow ow ow!" Jinhee screamed, "Watch your volume!"
"Umma! I swear, nothing happened. Yunho and I just got drunk and we just fell asleep on the same bed. Nothing untoward occured!"
"Shut up, brat! You're gonna make me deaf. Minwoo-sshi won't love a deaf, you know!" Jinhee pushed her only brother off of her.
"Noona, Minwoo-hyung is madly in love with you, deaf or not. That said, what the hell? Why barge into another person's apartment so early in the morning?!" Jaejoong said, getting back up and facing off his sister.
Jinhee scowled, furious. "Why you brat! Do you know how worried everyone was when you wouldn't answer your goddamn phone?" Her satoori was heavy, irritation overriding her usual Seoul-speak.
"Sorry for the confusion," a husky voice interrupted, drawing both Jaejoong and Jinhee's sight over to the hallway.
Yunho, trousers thrown on hastily, bowed as he began to button his white shirt. "I'm sorry, I should have thought to given someone a call. Good morning, Jinhee-noonim." He smiled at the older sister, oblivious to the wiggly-eyebrowed look she shot her little brother. Looking at Jaejoong, he cocked his head. "Jaejoongah, can I borrow your shower?"
Distracted by the triumphant looks he was getting from Jinhee, Jaejoong nodded in his direction. "Sure, go ahead. Grab yourself a towel from the closet."
When Yunho tossed him a smile, a half-wave, and walked away, Jinhee rounded on Jaejoong fully. "Jaejoongah?" She quirked an eyebrow.
"What? No! We're just friends! We're less than two weeks apart in age, and he's a really nice guy! Our personalities mesh pretty well. So we decided to just be friends and forget the marriage thing!" Jaejoong said, waving his arms around.
"Our Yunho-nim called Jaejoongie 'Jaejoongah'? Quick! Call the hotel! Arrange the engagement party immediately!" Jaejoong's mother's voice, tinny and disembodied in Jinhee's palm, brought a full flush to Jaejoong's face.
"FOR THE LAST TIME, WE'RE NOT GETTING MARRIED! WE'VE JUST BECOME GOOD FRIENDS, THAT'S ALL!"
"Good friends indeed."
"Shut up, Ahyoung noona."
"That was only, what, the fifth time he called you in an hour?"
"Shut up, Yoosun noona."
"My my, are you texting him now?"
"Shut up, Minkyeong noona."
"Tell him thank you for the gift, though. It was kind of him to consider my birthday!"
"I told him not to bother with such a pushy, bitchy noona like you, but he insisted. Something like wanting to make a good impression on his best friend's sister."
"Jaejoongah, how could you be so mean towards the noona that loves you so?"
"Jaejoongah, how could you be so mean towards your noona, your sweet, caring noona, who changed your diapers for you and—"
"Shut up, shut up, shut up! I told him thanks, okay?"
"Aw, look at our cute Jaejoongie blush."
"Anyway. Best friend? What happened to poor Yoochunie?"
Park Yoochun, aspiring musician, full-time student at K University and part-time barista (though it was more like part-time matchmaker, what with how often he tried to set up anyone that gave off gaydar signals with an exasperated Jaejoong), was quite content sharing Jaejoong with Yunho.
In fact, he found it downright hilarious.
"Shut up," Jaejoong said, face wine red. He wondered why the only thing he was saying lately was either "shut up" or "I'm not getting married". It was a curse, he decided. A horrible, terrible curse.
"M-m-married! To Yunho hyung!" Yoochun fell off his chair, arms curled defensively around his stomach as he rolled about the floor.
Glaring, Jaejoong muttered, "I hope Changminie did an extra-horrible job at sweeping the floors today." He kicked out viciously, getting Yoochun on his right buttcheek. "Shut up and sit down," he hissed.
After a long moment, Yoochun crawled back onto his seat, legs shaking with effort. Taking in a shuddering breath, Yoochun centered himself and smiled serenely.
"Now," he said, "tell me how this happened."
Arms crossed, Jaejoong said, "No, first you tell me how you know Yunho."
Yoochun shrugged. "Hyung's a regular customer. He always comes in and orders the same thing, same time, so we started talking and this came to that and we ended up being friends. It really is a small world, huh? Hyung's really nice, and polite, but sometimes he acts so cute I want to barf up my coffee." Letting a pause grow then break, he raised his eyebrows. "I guess you fell in love with that aspect of him, huh? I know your type." He smirks.
Just as his face had cooled down to normal temperature, Yoochun's last words caused Jaejoong's cheeks to fall off the Richter scale of redness.
"I DIDN'T FALL IN LOVE WITH HIM!" Jaejoong yelled.
Everyone in the cafe froze in place and swiveled their heads towards the sound. From the behind the espresso machine, Changmin burned his hand as he tried to keep in his snort of laughter.
Sinking into his seat, Jaejoong muttered, "I'm not in love with him. It was something my biological parents and his decided, not something we chose. Yunho and I just became good friends, that's all."
Changmin, a good eight meters away, broke into a coughing fit. It sounded suspiciously like he was saying Very good friends indeed, but for the sake of Changmin's continued existence Jaejoong chose to ignore it. (A one-touch today, with his blood at boiling point, would probably lead to a KO from at least one of the two participants.)
"Admit it, hyung. You want into his pants." Yoochun smiled at Jaejoong from over the rim of his mug, sly and smug.
Jaejoong was biting his tongue, trying to resist the urge to say that No, he didn't want into Yunho's pants, but Yes, the pants Yunho wore really were nice, when a unique shade of laughter from directly behind him startled him so much he nearly lost the tip of his tongue. "What the—?" he began, whirling around.
Standing tall and proud behind his chair was a young man, dressed comfortably in a sweater, vest and skinnies, smiling warmly at him. His brown hair was slicked up from his forehead, and his black rimmed glasses glinted under the light. Somewhere to his right he could hear Yoochun gulp and choke on his coffee, probably splurting it out of his nose, and instead of worrying about the nasal passageways of his best friend, Jaejoong offered a sort of squiggly smile. "Can I help you?" he asked hesitantly.
The young man laughed again and thrust out a hand, presumably for a handshake. Still unsure of what the hell was going on, Jaejoong reached out and took that hand, giving it a firm shake.
"I'm sorry for surprising you," the man spoke. His voice was pitched slightly high and vaguely raspy. Jaejoong found himself being attracted to the voice immediately. Then the man continued, and Jaejoong stopped that train of thought immediately and thanked whatever gods may have been listening for stopping him from saying anything mortifying about Yunho. "My name's Kim Junsu, and I couldn't help but overhear you talk about Yunho hyung. We're really close friends, and I've been wanting to meet this 'Jaejoongie' that keeps on appearing in our conversations."
Yoochun coughed again, but this time no coffee flew from his nostrils. "Please, join us," he said, getting out of his chair and ushering a compliant Junsu into the unoccupied chair next to his.
In fifteen minutes, the radius of crumbs and drops of tea surrounding Junsu reached astonishing distances, and the red on Jaejoong's face rivaled that of the red hearts he sent to Yunho through text messages.
"So. Junsu-sshi, tell me, does Yunho hyung really talk about Jaejoongie hyung that often?"
"Hahaa, yeah, he does. You can just call me 'Junsu', none of that '-sshi' stuff. Anyway, yeah, I think I know more about Jaejoong-sshi than my twin Junho hyung knows about Yunho hyung, and they've known each other for years."
"Whoa, you're a twin?"
"Younger twin. Junho's my hyung and best friend."
"Huh. That's pretty cool. And, oh, if hyung weren't a puddle of embarrassment on the floor, I'm pretty sure he'd say you could just call him hyung. Especially since you know him so well."
"You have a very unique laugh, by the way."
"Ah, I've heard that often. I hope it doesn't grate on your nerves."
"No, not at all! It's quite cute, actually. Energizing."
"Geez, hyung, I knew it was only a matter of time before you'd hit on him. Slow down, you're going to traumatize the poor straight man."
"Changminah, what the hell! I have some sense in this beautiful head of mine! Oh, Junsuyah. This is Shim Changmin, '88er, Coffee Bean and Tea Bag's resident genius. Don't get too close, his snark could burn the skin from your nose."
"Hello, it's nice to meet you."
"Hi! It's nice to meet you too, Changmin-sshi. And, uh, how are you so sure I'm straight?"
"My gaydar is unrivaled."
"It's never failed us once. Sigh."
"Which is why I'm positive Yunho hyung and Jaejoongie hyung will get it on soon."
"rrfgl yunho and i are not getting anything on."
"Stop gurgling from under the table and come out, hyung."
"Changmin's right, hyung. If what Junsu has been telling us is true, and if we take into account your apparent obsession with Yunho's arms, the two of you have some serious chemistry together."
"i am not obsessed with yunho's arms."
"Right, I forgot you ogle his ass just as often."
"Oh, it's time for my shift! Sica's shooting me death glares from behind the cash register. It was nice talking to you, Junsuyah! I'll give you a call sometime and we can go play soccer or something. Come by the counter and I'll refill your cup!"
"What time is it?"
"Huh? Oh, it's just before five thirty. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, it's just that it's about time for Yunho hyung to come by, he always comes in on Wednesdays—"
"Hi Yoochunah, Changminah, Jessica. Junsuyah? Good to see you! What—Jaejoongah? ...What are you doing on the floor?"
Junsu laughed. "The four of us—wait, five, with Yoochunie—should hang out more often!"
Yunho smiled. "I wouldn't say no to that." Eyeing the biscotti on Jaejoong's plate, Yunho turned to the older man with doe eyes and a nudge.
Unbidden, a smile tugged at Jaejoong's lips. "Has anyone told you that you're a great big lug of rainbows and ponies and that it disgusts the hell out of me?" Regardless, he pushed his plate towards the pouting Yunho.
Changmin and Junsu regarded the exchange nonchalantly, shrugging. Despite their initial expectations, after seeing Yunho and Jaejoong in action for the first couple of minutes, they had realized that rather than any sparks of lust, the two of them behaved much like an established couple, the ones that had tied the knot years ago and had settled easily into a domestic routine that suited both members just fine.
Changmin leaned over and whispered, "They act so much like my parents it's freaky."
At this Junsu snorted on his laughter, scattering bits of half-chewed strawberry danish into his lap. Changmin winced back.
Junsu glared. "You brat!" he said, laughter edging into his voice, "Look at what you made me do! My poor danish."
Easily, comfortably, as if they had been meant to be this way, Changmin slid into 'hyung' and 'your fault you can't keep your mouth shut', banmal light on his tongue.
The bickering pair missed the way Jaejoong and Yunho watched them, smile indulgent. Yoochun, however, caught the way the older couple leaned in towards each other as they laughed quietly, the angle of their arms suggesting hands touching underneath the table.
He mimed barfing into the coffee grounds he had been holding in his hands. Jessica giggled, and messed up her order.
"What's up, Yunhoyah?"
"Can we meet up for dinner tonight?"
"I told my mom I'd be eating with the family tonight, but I don't think they'd mind much if I canceled on them. Is there something wrong? Your voice doesn't sound quite right."
"Thanks. Hahaha, is there a 'right' way for my voice to sound?"
"Well, sometimes your voice sounds tired, sometimes it sounds sad, sometimes it sounds angry, and sometimes it sounds happy. Today it sounds... I don't know. A little apprehensive? I'm not sure I like it. Hence the 'not right'."
"Sorry, Jaejoongah. Hahaha, I should shut up then."
"No! No, I don't mean it that way. I love your voice, Yunhoyah. It's just the way you sound as if there's something wrong I don't like."
"...Thanks, Jaejoongah. Can I pick you up now, or did you drive today?"
"No, Sooyoung noona took the last car today. Wait, now?"
"Um, yeah. Is that okay? Do you need some time to do your hair?"
"Just come then, idiot! And for the umpteenth time, just because I like to look presentable doesn't mean I am obsessed with my hair—"
"I'm right outside your door now. Can you open the door for me?"
"—What the? You're such a creeper. I'm not sure I like the sound of your laughter."
"Just shut up and open the door—hey, Jaejoongah."
Juggling a slice of soondae, a couple bits of green onion, rice and a load of soup on his spoon, Jaejoong asked, "So what's the matter, Yunhoyah?" before closing his mouth around the spoonful of spicy goodness.
Putting down his chopsticks, Yunho looked at Jaejoong and said, solemnly, "We need to get engaged soon, Jaejoongah."
Jaejoong dropped his spoon and spewed bits of soondae into the air. The occupants of the table next to them turned to stare, and Jaejoong couldn't figure out if was because of his spectacular show of his skilled esophagus or because of what Yunho had just said.
"What? I thought we agreed to drop that idea!" Jaejoong spluttered, hands roaming his side of the table in search of a napkin.
Yunho reached over the table and wiped away the bits of rice stuck on Jaejoong's lips with his thumb. "Our parents are insisting. I asked your mother specifically not to bother you about it, but I know she's expecting it soon. Apparently there's something in the contract that your biological grandfather and my grandfather wrote that requires we get married before your twenty-first birthday, or else the stocks invested in your name at Hero Co. will be released and open for other shareholders to snap up. Since our ARA Co. and your Hero Co. have an informal agreement, it'd be too easy for us to lose a lot of stocks. Hero Co. will also no longer remain in the family, which isn't what your grandfather wished.
"If it was only that, I wouldn't mind, but it means that we'd have to lay off a lot of people. People I've known since I was young and my father let me run around the building. People who have always treated me kindly, as if I was their son. Please, Jaejoongah. We can get divorced later, but please. Let's get married. Marry me."
Jaejoong blinked, right hand still reaching for a new spoon and left hand held tight in Yunho's.
Almost the entire restaurant fell silent, save for a tipsy older man who threw his utensils down in disgust and stormed towards the bathroom, muttering under his breath about how the "homos are ruining Korea". Off in another corner, a little girl tugged on her daddy's shirt and said loudly, "I want to get married to Daddy!"
In the table next to theirs, a young couple stared openly at the two, alternating their gazes from Jaejoong to Yunho back to Jaejoong. "I thought gays couldn't get married," the boy said.
"Shut up, this is so romantic," the girl hissed.
The serving lady walked by and picked up Jaejoong's dropped spoon, wielding it like a battering ram. "Oh, jus' accept the lad's proposal! He seems like a might'ly fine young man, you'd do well, you lass, to grab onto him!"
Jaejoong turned to her with a horrified expression. "Ma'am, I'm a man!"
Yunho nodded soberly. "He is, I checked."
Someone behind Yunho burst into giggles. Jaejoong glared, at both the giggling person and Yunho. "I don't need—"
The middle aged woman with the spoon swung it and hit Jaejoong square in the back of his head. "I kno' you're a mountain boy with a good set of balls! Now hush and say 'yes', my original recipe soondae stew is cooling!"
"This is the most unromantic proposal ever," Jaejoong muttered.
"Would you like me to get down on one knee?" Yunho asked earnestly, passing Jaejoong a new spoon and a napkin.
"No," Jaejoong growled, and with that, the restaurant atmosphere returned to normal, only a few people shooting them strange looks. "So," he said, when it seemed that no one was paying any attention to them anymore, "how long are we going to go on with the marriage farce?"
"As long as it takes for me to succeed as the rightful heir to the company. Then I can buy the shares that are in your name and thus put them under my name. Of course, this is only until you are trained to be the head of Hero Co. and you can formally buy the stocks back from me at a price which ensures no profit was made on either side from their exchange. But if you'd like—" Yunho stopped, his expression hardening before smoothing out into a blank slate. "But it's all up to you."
Jaejoong hated it when Yunho went like that, so he forced a smile and laughed. "Well, I guess we don't have much of a choice. Don't worry, Yunhoyah, we'll figure something out. I wouldn't want you to miss your chance with the girl of your dreams because you were stuck in a marriage of convenience with me."
Silence fell between the two, movements mechanical as they ate the rest of their soondae stew.
After paying (dutch pay, Jaejoong insisted), they left the restaurant and headed to a Seven-Eleven to buy a couple bottles of soju and little snacks to complete the deal. As the cashier was ringing through their purchases, Yunho slid his fingers into his pockets, as if reaching for his wallet.
"Don't bother, I've got this one. Last time you paid, remember?" Jaejoong reassured, smiling and waving his wallet around.
Instead of pulling out his black leather card holder, Yunho pulled out a small velvet box. He placed it on the counter and slid it over with two fingers.
He cleared his throat. Jaejoong tore his gaze away from the box and to Yunho's red face. "Just to make it official. You don't need to wear it or anything, it's just for formalities' sake." He shoved his hands back into his pockets, but not before Jaejoong could catch the glint of light off his left middle finger.
"Thanks," Jaejoong said, taking the box and flipping it open. Silver, Cartier, and completely plain. Just his style.
Their cashier rang everything through at record speed, and wouldn't look at them as he said, "Your total comes to twenty-nine thousand, five hundred won."
Slipping over three ten thousand bills, Jaejoong grabbed the bags before the boy behind the counter could grab his change, and he and Yunho burst out into the breezy Seoul streets, laughing.
In the car, he slipped the ring on casually and commented, "It suits me well. You have oddly good taste in accessories."
Yunho's smile gleamed brightly in the sunset. Jaejoong reminded himself that no matter how disturbing good-looking Yunho was, some things were off-limits. It sucked to be a gay man pretending not to be gay while in a fake gay marriage with one of your best friends, who you were also possibly, just maybe, a-teensy-bit-maybe-but-probably-not gay for.
The introspective mood lasted until he reached his apartment and Yunho fetched the shot glasses and the two of them had three love shots in a row. Then the dizzy happiness set in, which lasted for about an hour and half, when a drunken Yunho cheerfully informed him of a tuxedo fitting tomorrow afternoon.
Jaejoong screwed the ring off of his finger and threw it viciously at Yunho's head.
"Would you like to try it on?"
"Would you like a fist in that face? I am not changing in front of you. Get out of the fitting room, asshole!!"
"Jaejoongah, that's no way to speak to your future husband!"
"NOONA, SERIOUSLY, GET OUT."
"Hey, it's not like I haven't seen that pasty white ass of yours a billion times. Who's the one that potty trained you, hm?"
"THAT WAS WHEN I WAS TWO, NOONA. EIGHTEEN YEARS HAVE PASSED, YOU KNOW."
"Actually, honorable sister-in-law, if it's all the same to you I'd prefer it if you stepped outside with me."
"DON'T CALL HER THAT, YOU DISGUST ME."
"Yunho-sshi, are you—are you jealous?"
"Merely concerned over the continued sanctity of my fiancé's body."
"Jaejoong's body isn't holy, you know. Nor is it pure. Or untouched."
"Tattoo. Across his shoulderblades. It's a great big ugly thing, but you might like it. I thought you already knew—Jinhee unni said that the two of you had already shared a bed."
"SHUT UP, WE WERE BOTH DRUNK! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU, YUNHOYAH. I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS. I THOUGHT WE HAD AN UNDERSTANDING."
"Nipple and belly button, I think."
"Was that—? Hey, Jaejoongah, your honeymoon night is gonna be fierce! Your fiancé's smirk is the most perverted expression I've seen in my life! And that's including all the yaoi manga I've read—"
"NOONA. SERIOUSLY. CAN YOU SHUT UP. THERE WILL BE NO HONEYMOON. THERE WILL BE NO FIERCENESS. THERE WILL BE NOTHING."
"WHO SAID YOU COULD CALL ME THAT."
"—Please lower your voice a little. You're disturbing the other customers, and I believe the staff are deaf by now."
"Oh, Yunho-sshi, such a perfect little husband you're going to be! You look after our Jaejoongie so well."
"All of you. Out. And Umma, I know you're listening in too, so I'll say it to you too. Yunho and I will be married for the prearranged amount of time. And then I am going to divorce him so hard his lawyers will be pissing their pants for the next year. Now. Everyone. Out. Out. OUT!"
"Geez, Jaejoongah, no need to get your panties in a knot."
"I'm going, I'm going! Hey, Umma, did you see the ties..."
"That's Jaejoong-sshi to you, Yunho-sshi."
"I think the black suit jacket looks really good on you."
"And you're very cute when you blush."
"I—YOU—D-D-D-DON'T KISS ME, YOU BASTARD."
Stabbing his foot into the pants legs, Jaejoong mumbled under his breath a litany of curses.
"Everything all right in there?" Yunho called from the other side of the door.
Biting back a groan, Jaejoong adopted a sugary sweet tone and sang, "No, darling, everything's fine. Just having a little trouble with my zipper."
The answering voice sent Jaejoong reeling to the floor in hysterics. "My, honey, do you need me to go in a help you?" Yunho said mockingly, voice several octaves higher (and exponentially nasalier, which may or may not have been a word Jaejoong made up on the spot).
"Oh but baby you know you're not supposed to see me in my wedding clothes before I walk down the aisle."
"So you acknowledge that you'll be the bride, cutiepie? And don't worry, this is only for the engagement party."
The string of sweetly voiced, heavy satoori swear words caused Yunho to double over in laughter despite the splitting headache he had been concealing so well. A short while later Yunho could hear Jaejoong's laughter complementing his.
When Jaejoong's mother and last sister, Sooyoung, returned to the fitting room section of the store, shimmering dresses already hanging over their forearms, they found Yunho squatting in front of the dressing room door, laughing harder as Jaejoong's voice gasped out, "We—are so not good for each other's hangovers," from behind the door.
They watched as Yunho choked out, "At least—Yoochunie and Junsu and Changminie aren't here. We'd be in the hospital by now," and smirked slyly at each other.
"As lovely as the image is," Sooyoung called out, taking perverse enjoyment in the way Yunho straightened up in attention with a guilty smile on his lips and the lushest pink on his cheeks, "I'd like it if we could eat before the next century."
A short bit of rustling later, the door Yunho had been leaning on opened and revealed a red-faced Jaejoong, who smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, noona, I'll get onto my next suit now."
As he made to close the door again, Yunho's arm shot out and held it open, much to both Jaejoong's surprise.
"Yunhoyah?" Jaejoong asked, looking up into dark brown eyes.
The other man just blinked in reply, apparently shocked at his own actions and unable to do anything but drink in the sight of Jaejoong's tuxedo-clad self.
Sooyoung giggled and clapped her hands. "No need, Jaejoongah. We're getting that."
"You look wonderful in that, my son," Jaejoong's mother beamed.
Yunho's stare let everyone in the store, minus an oblivious Jaejoong, know that Yunho thought 'wonderful' was an understatement. Probably, random passersby guessed, 'so beautiful I wouldn't even notice if a bomb hit me right now' would be an understatement, too.
Lunch was delayed by two hours because Sooyoung tried on three bajillion dresses before she was satisfied, and because Jaejoong took a half-an-hour break to convince himself that there were men on this earth that could be more attractive than Yunho in a tuxedo.
Needless to say, he failed. Yunho had to bodily drag him to lunch, rolling his eyes at his mumbled "You are so not attractive, Jung Yunho"'s.
"Seonhee unniii, pour me anoth' cup?"
"Yoosun unni, I think it's the first time I've seen you get this drunk before!"
"Shut up, Ahyoungah, it's time to celebrate!"
"OUR LITTLE BROTHER IS GETTING MARRIED!"
"TO THE HOTTEST YOUNG THING UNDER THE SUN!"
"CHEERS! TO JAEJOONG!"
"NO, TO JAEJOONG'S ENORMOUS, MONSTROUS LUCK, TO SNAG A GUY LIKE THAT!"
"Ah, that's good. Can't go wrong with a cold glass of beer!"
"Hey, who ate the dried squid I had here?"
"You were hoarding it for yourself, brat."
"Unni, let me pour you another cup!"
"Anyway. Anyway! Um. To Jaejoong! And Yunho! And the be-be-beautiful children that will result!"
"You say 'anyway' too many times when you're drunk, Minkyeong unni."
"Shut uuup I do not. Anyway. ASSBABIES!"
"I am going to pretend I didn't hear that."
"What? They'd be so cute."
"Minkyeongah, they'd technically have to go for a surrogate mother, so we'll never see a Jaejoong/Yunho hybrid child."
"Such a shame!"
"Oh my God, I know!"
"I wish Jaejoong could—could go Ranma 1/2 on us. Turn into female when splashed by cold water."
"Jaejoong hates cold water."
"BUT THINK OF THE BABIES!"
"OH MY GOD, NOONA. I HOPE YOU REALIZE THAT YUNHO AND I ARE IN THE NEXT ROOM OVER, AND THAT WE CAN HEAR EVERY SINGLE THING YOU ARE SAYING."
"Unni, why are you saying to plain old Jaejoongie? Let's say hello to Yunho. YUNHOYAH, MY BROTHER-IN-LAW, HOW ARE YOU DOING?"
"YUNHO-SSHI, HOW ARE YOU?"
"SCORED YET WITH OUR LITTLE BROTHER?"
"OH MY GOD. NOONA-DEUL. SHUT. UP."
"Well, out of politeness' sake—"
"AND YOU, JUNG YUNHO. SHUT UP AND LIE THE FUCK BACK DOWN. DON'T SAY ANYTHING, YOU'LL JUST PROVOKE THEM."
"Jaejoongah, be nice!"
"JAEJOONGAH, THE WAY TO A MAN'S HEART IS TO SWALLOW!"
"TOO MUCH INFORMATION, THANKS. STOP DRINKING, YOU GUYS ARE INSANE."
"This is what the stag party is about, little brother!"
"Yeah! Get smashed and have a lot of sex!"
"WE'RE NOT EVEN GETTING MARRIED. TOMORROW IS JUST THE ENGAGEMENT PARTY. AND THE ONLY ONES DRINKING ARE YOU EIGHT."
Come the next morning, Jaejoong woke up groggily to an arm over his waist, a nose in his hair, and the soft sound of exhales breathing regularly against his head. Interestingly, he didn't reel forward in surprise, or even wonder why Yunho had migrated from Jaejoong's bed to the floor over the course of the night, slipping in between the covers and snuggling up to Jaejoong's back.
In fact, he didn't blink a sleep dust-encrusted eye, settling back into the embrace and pressing closer to the source of warmth. Yunho, still asleep, reciprocated by tightening his hold.
Five minutes later, Jaejoong was just on the edge of sleep, peaceful and content, when—
Jaejoong groaned. "Leave me alone, Yoosun noona," he growled quietly, trying to keep Yunho from waking.
"As adorable as the two of you are, you should really get up now. The engagement party's in an hour," she said cheerfully.
"AUGH FUCK," Jaejoong yelled, bursting out from under the covers.
From behind him, Yunho shifted slightly, and laughed quietly. "Good morning, my fiancé," he whispered.
"THE WHOLE WORLD IS AGAINST ME."
Yoosun giggled. "We're leaving in thirty minutes! Good morning, Yunho-sshi! Just in case I don't get a chance to say it in the hustle and bustle today—please make my brother happy!" Her voice held absolutely no signs of a hangover, or anything else that revealed how she and her seven sisters had stayed up until five am drinking and generally having fun at their little brother's expense.
"Why is this my life," Jaejoong groaned. Yunho just pulled him in closer and laughed.
Glossary of Korean terminology and cultural notes:
→ Jaejoong's sisters' names, from oldest to youngest: Jinhee, Seonhee, Mikyeon, Sookjin, Yoosun, Minkyeong, Ahyoung, and Sooyoung. It took me hours to find this bit of information.
→ Noona is the Korean term males use to address females older than them; "big sister". (Adding -deul to the end makes it plural.)
→ Unni is the Korean term females use to address other females older than themselves; "big sister". (Adding -deul to the end makes it plural.)
→ "pitcher"/"catcher" - seme/uke. Or, for the yaoi-unaware, the one that gives it/the one that takes it. Sexually. :D
→ soju - Korean alcoholic drink. More info on soju here.
→ pojangmacha - snack stalls/tented restaurants found on the streets. Best place ever to eat at night. More information on pojangmacha here.
→ "Seoul-speak" — standard Korean dialect. Expected speech in Seoul.
→ satoori - country dialect.
→ banmal - the informal way of speaking. You use this with people that are younger than you, or people you're very close to.
→ soondae - Korean sausages. More info on soondae here.
→ ARA Co. and Hero Co. - so obviously a pun on Uknow and Youngwoong. "ARA" as in "ara" (아라) as in "(you) know"; "Hero" as in "Youngwoong Jaejoong" as in "Hero Jaejoong". Did I really have to explain? Haha.
→ Yes, I am aware of how not-so-fantastically cracky this is. Yes, that was the point. Yes, this was 6000+ words of madness. Yes, there will be a wedding scene. Yes, you may blame Stephanie Anne for all of this madness.
→ If you have any more questions, ask away! I'll answer them here.