Genre: AU, fluff, angst, WAFF, romance
Disclaimer: I don't own anything apart from the story. I wish I had YunJae and if I had my way, they'd move to New Zealand so they can be civil-unionised here
Summary: Jaejoong just wants somewhere to call home again. Living by himself is really not as great as his sisters made it out to be and he yearns to be around people again. He misses the hustle and bustle and even the crying babies that make up his parents’ household but he’s too proud and stubborn to return. He is nineteen after all and fully capable of living his own life away from his ridiculously large family. Enter a tiny little girl who captures Jaejoong’s heart in an instant and he finds himself with a family…of sorts. And for a sheltered, very well-loved boy, complicated doesn’t even begin to describe his life from the moment the tearful baby crawls into his lap looking for comfort.
AN: Fuck a duck sideways… seriously. IDEK what happened here. This would've been posted hours ago but LJ decided to be an assholic goat so yeah... :3
Jaejoong stares at the dry erase board. He stares and he stares and he blinks when his eyes get too dry. The baby monitor is on the kitchen counter, and he is waiting for the kettle to boil because he is in desperate need of some tea. A quick glance at the clock shows that it is just before seven. His tummy rumbles, but he makes no move to open the fridge door to get the leftover soup from last night, because Yunho wrote that he’d bring home something for them. However, that is not all Yunho wrote.
He’d discovered it by complete accident. They have a similar board back in the Kim mansion, and his parents are always writing love notes to each other, much to the disgust of all nine children. Jaejoong though, out of all the Kim children, found it more sweet than disgusting. Yes, he found it weird to see a note saying, “I love you, my sunshine” from his implacable father no less, to his irrepressible mother. That is one of many variations of the same thing. His father has an infinite number of nicknames for his wife, and Jaejoong is certain some of those words are made up. However, no matter what, it never ever fails to bring a smile to his mother’s face when she looks at the board.
That is the word he notices first, having seen it almost every day for most of his life, the word is familiar to him. He sees it out of the corner of his eye, just as he is about to open the freezer door to get out some meat to defrost for tomorrow. That was half an hour ago. Since then he’s discovered more words, and paced a nice track right around the kitchen, absentmindedly doing things as his eyes keep falling back onto the board.
I’m sorry, I love you.
There is no mistake. Jaejoong looks closely, and the sentence is clear to anyone familiar with the words. But they have been rubbed off, or at least Yunho has made an attempt to rub them off. He drags his eyes away from the board just as the kettle boils, and he makes himself a mug of green tea. He sits at the counter facing the fridge, and continues to stare at the board as he sips his hot drink carefully. Not once, in the entire time he is drinking, does his gaze move away from the fridge door.
He keeps staring, as if somehow the words will tell him what to do next. What does it even mean? Jaejoong believes he knows why Yunho rubs it off, but what he doesn’t know, is why he writes it in the first place. He gets the apology, but the words of love…he’s been hurt twice in quick succession and Jaejoong, having never been cautious his entire life, chooses this very moment to be on his guard. He has yet to make a decision though, still teetering over whether to step forward and take it as it is, or to take a step back and protect himself. He knows he feels something for Yunho. Something strong. But it is Yunho, and the man has demons Jaejoong cannot see. If he cannot see them, how is he going to fix him?
I’m sorry, I love you.
Is it love that he feels? Is it what Yunho feels? They’ve known each other less than a week, though admittedly they’ve also been living together just as long. He is still sleeping in that strange bed in the master bedroom, because Jiyool’s illness makes it impossible to leave her. However she is much better today, but Yunho doesn’t know that. Jaejoong has definitely been dreading having to move into his own room, now decorated to suit him, with familiar furniture from his own apartment transplanted into the room he now wishes he doesn’t have to claim for his own. When he sent Yunho out to sleep in his office, Jaejoong had lain down on the man’s side of the bed, as Jiyool frets and cries, he is kept sane and calm by his scent. It holds him together and keeps him grounded, and reminds him as to why he is there in the first place. He remembers Yunho’s nightmares, and he aches to heal him, but can he really?
He wonders whether to call his mother. And after debating for a minute, he decides he needs her counsel. He picks up the phone and dials that familiar number. His mother answers on the fifth ring.
“Joongie? What number is this? Where are you?”
“Home? But you don’t have a landline. And I thought you’d moved in with the Jungs?”
“I have, and I’m home.”
The silence stretches for a few long seconds, but Jaejoong is content to wait. He is in no hurry to spill his guts. Not this time. He’s still unsure and maybe even a little insecure. He knows what he feels. He knows how he feels. He wants to believe that Yunho feels the same, and those words give him hope, but after being burned twice for no reason, he is cautious and no one can blame him for it.
“Are you happy?”
“That’s a strange question to be asking, umma.”
“I think it’s even stranger that you’re referring to your place of work as your home.”
“It’s not work, and it is my home.”
“Is there something you’re not telling me? Am I planning a wedding in the not too distant future? Even for you, this is pretty fast, baby boy.”
“It is fast isn’t it? Is it too fast?”
“Oh my god, I was just joking about the wedding! I’m going to send your father to castrate Yunho right now. Joongie, what is going on?”
“Yah, umma, please calm down. Aish…”
“Ok, I was joking about the castrating, but what is going on? You better talk fast, kid, because I have your father on speed dial.”
Jaejoong fills her in on his day, from the misunderstanding in the morning to his suspicions as to why Jiyool doesn’t like it at the creche, though he does omit the fact that he runs off back to his old apartment and Yunho’s note.
“Joongie…I don’t know how you get yourself into these things. Remember the homeless man you found and took home when you were ten and almost gave us all a heart attack because you’d given him your bed and you slept in the guest room and didn’t tell us? Or the pair of lost twin girls you found in the park and decided it was a good idea to take them home and feed them pancakes which you didn’t even know how to make? Or the time you got suspended from school for a whole week because you beat up that boy that had been bullying all those freshmen? And let’s not forget the myriad of injured animals that have crossed the threshold of our front door. If we let you, you’d try and fix the world wouldn’t you? No, don’t answer that. I know what you’re going to say, and I’m proud to be your umma.”
Jaejoong listens in silence, remembering all those incidences, wincing in particular at the memory of the suspension because he’d also broken his hand in that fight.
“But Joongie, this is different. I can feel that it’s different. Is there something else you want to tell me?”
“How did you know that you loved appa?”
“And there it is…”
“I’m serious, umma.”
“I know you are. I know you are very serious which is why I’m going to think about this before I answer. You’re only nineteen, Joongie.”
“Umma… you know that’s not going to hold water in this family. Oh wait, speaking of age, how old is Yunho?”
“I think he’s in his early to mid 30s but I’m not sure. He’s definitely at least a decade older than you though because he came to our house with his parents once when you were still a toddler, and I remember him being in his high school uniform.”
“Oh god, this is embarrassing. Please tell me I was wearing clothes. I seem to recall not liking clothes much as a child…”
“As a matter of fact you weren’t. Actually, I think you might have peed on him. Oh my god, you did. You were in your paddle pool in the sun room and he carried you and yes, you peed on him.”
Jaejoong’s mother starts cackling, thoroughly amused at what her memory bank has just brought forth. She laughs for a good long minute, because the memory of that unfortunate incident is suddenly so vivid. However, what finally slows her laughter is the memory of the fact that unlike most teenagers, or even adults for that matter, instead of tossing baby Joongie aside in horror and disgust, Yunho had held on to him, acting like nothing was happening so as not to frighten the child, even though everyone could see the front of his shirt dampening. In fact, his mother was the one who’d expressed her disgust, loudly and shrilly, scaring little Joongie and Yunho had immediately turned and left the room, carrying a bewildered toddler with him. She also remembers one other interesting fact, one she’d completely forgotten till that moment. She remembers the exchange the two young boys had just before the adults entered the sunroom, and she cannot help but marvel at her son. His belief in fate and destiny is actually coming true. She remembers that sweet boy and how he was with baby Joongie, and wonders what happened to him. She knows where her thoughts are heading, and sighs in surrender. Her baby boy is no longer a baby. He’d chosen Yunho back when he wasn’t even three. Who is she to deny him now?
“Ummaaaaaaaaa,” Jaejoong whines, absolutely horrified. “Please tell me you’re joking. Please. I’m begging you.”
“No, baby. I really am not joking. They came to visit and Yunho heard you laughing and he smiled and asked if he could be excused to meet you and we all gave our permission. You were talking his ear off even as a baby, telling him about your new tree house that your sisters’ husbands had helped to build. I think you were not yet three actually because the tree house was meant to be a birthday surprise but you discovered it before your birthday. Even back then, hiding anything from you was an exercise in futility. And then you asked if he wanted to see it, and he said yes, and he picked you up out of the paddle pool. However, you were not prepared for that, and you’ve always had this really bad habit of peeing in the pool because you thought it was funny even though you knew better.”
“Oh god…please don’t. I don’t want to know. I don’t remember peeing in the pool! I think karma just bit me in the ass today too. Rather spectacularly.”
“Don’t be a goose. It was so long ago, I doubt he remembers. How did karma get you? Did Jiyool pee on you?”
“Let’s not talk about it…”
“Oh, she did? That’s definitely karma!” She laughs heartily, ignoring Jaejoong’s muttered grumblings.
“She didn’t pee on me. She pooped in the bathtub in my old apartment.”
Silence, before the storm.
Jaejoong rolls his eyes and places the phone on the counter, his mother howling with laughter can still be heard at a distance, and even though he is slightly irritated at being the reason for her laughter, he cannot help but smile. Imagine a 59 year old woman practically screaming with laughter. He shakes his head and picks the phone back up as her laughter slowly dies away.
“Joongie, I’m crying oh my god. That is karma for sure. For all the times you’ve peed in that pool. You did it at least once a day for a good year. I’m satisfied that the universe has paid you back for it.”
“Why did I have to get a mother who would laugh at me instead of sympathise?”
“Laughter is the best medicine for anything, baby boy. If I commiserated with you, I think you’d still be whining about it. But now you’re smiling, aren’t you?”
Jaejoong huffs, slumping over, his cheek on the cool counter top, balancing the phone on his face so he doesn’t have to hold it. But yes, he is smiling. He cannot help it. His mother always knows what to do. Speaking of which, he’d better get to the point of the phone call before Yunho gets home.
“Ok, ok. Enough laughing at Joongie. I need advice.”
“You do realise how strange that sounds coming from you, right? You’ve been hanging out with Chaerin too much and her dubious taste in music.”
“Stop changing the subject, baby boy.”
Jaejoong growls in protest but he does as he is told, organising his thoughts, before he starts to speak.
“I was really hurt when he said I wasn’t his wife. I was shocked when he told me it wasn’t my place to demand an apology, but it didn’t hurt. But it hurt really badly when he said I wasn’t his wife. I ran away, and took Jiyool with me, because I was going to cry and didn’t want to cry in front of him. Why am I crying so much? I don’t understand. But the hurt, it was sort of like that other night where he implied I was a whore, but yet it was different. I was hurt over the fact that he would think such a thing of me, that he would think that I could even be a whore. I felt like he should have known better and was hurt about that. But then today, the hurt is different. I’m still hurting a little and I don’t know what to do. You know what I’m like when I start ranting. Everything I say is the truth. Does this mean I want to be his wife? Is that why I’m hurt? Do I love him? I’m so confused, I don’t have anything to compare to except you and appa and of course noonas and all their husbands but it’s not really the same. And yet, he is also the same as appa. He wrote me a note on the fridge door. He said not to cook dinner and that he’d bring home something for us. And then he said he was sorry and that he loves me. So what does that mean? I think I love him. I know I love Jiyool very much. Leaving her at the creche was so hard and I’ll be honest and admit I was glad they called me because even if they hadn’t, I think I would’ve gone to pick her up in between classes. So how did you know you loved appa? I have nothing to go on. I want to see him smile, I want to make him happy. When I see him with Jiyool I feel like my heart is going to burst. His smell makes me so happy I cannot even describe it. It’s like coming home. I’m home. You know how I couldn’t figure out why my apartment felt so strange? I never felt strange here. It’s like everything was as it should be. And kissing him is like kissing heaven. I have nothing else to compare that too of course but he’s so kind and gentle and I think if I get to kiss him for the rest of my life, I’ll be happy. Am I weird? Is that weird? Did you want to kiss appa forever? Ok, no don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know…”
Jaejoong finally stops, trailing off as he shudders slightly at the image of his elderly parents kissing, unaware that despite his best intentions, he’d started rambling again, revealing a lot to his mother listening carefully on the other line. Her eyes are filled with unshed tears, but they are not tears of sadness.
“Back up a little, Yunho actually wrote you a note saying he loves you?”
“Well…he did but then he rubbed it off but I could still read it.”
“He doesn’t want you to know then. What are you going to do?”
“That’s why I’m calling you! I don’t know what to do, but I know I can’t ask him about it. And I’m confused cos I’m a jumble of feelings right now.”
“Trust your instincts and go with it, but don’t let him weigh you down with his issues. I know he has some issues to work through, but taking them out on you is not going to help either of you. However you will need to be patient, and be aware that he doesn’t mean to hurt you. That note in particular is quite telling. He means that apology, I’m sure of it and as for love, I think both of you are running towards each other, whether he realises it or not. I really don’t think he has it in him to hurt someone else, especially from what you’ve told me about Jiyool and how he is with you apart from those two unfortunate instances. I also knew him before he got married, and he really was a very kind boy. Open your heart, but be ready to retreat if necessary. That’s the best advice I can give you.”
Just then, the baby monitor crackles and crying can be heard. Jaejoong gets up, holding the phone as he heads back to the master bedroom.
“I don’t think I can close my heart even if I wanted to. They’ve both moved in, and it feels like it’s permanent.”
“Just remember we’re always here for you. And for him too. I’ve barely exchanged a few words with him since his marriage and I already feel like he’s part of the family. You don’t do things by halves do you?”
“Neither do you.”
“Fair point. Now go take care of your baby girl, and send her kisses from her grandmother. I love you, baby boy.”
“I love you too.”
“Do you still have that heavy platinum band? The one you used to wear around your neck?”
“Yes, of course. The one you told me to keep safe? I still don’t know where I got it from though. Do you remember? I feel like I’ve had it forever.”
“I think you should wear it tonight.”
“Just listen to your, umma. Have I ever led you astray?”
“Ok, now go. I love you.”
Jaejoong hangs up just as he enters the bedroom. Jiyool is sitting up in the middle of the bed, crying. She stops when she sees him though, and attempts to clamber over the mountain of pillows surrounding her to get to him. He tosses the phone onto his side of the bed before catching the tearful baby just as she breaks free of her pillow fortress, walking around to climb into Yunho’s side of the bed. He lies on his side, Jiyool curled into him, her head on his arm as he turns to bury his nose in the pillow, inhaling, and sighing as his hand reaches up to play with the heavy ring hanging from the thin chain around his neck. How odd that his mother mentions it then, because he only just dug it out of his accessory box that evening. Oh well, he’s obeying his mother in any case, even if he’d already worn it before she asked him to.
The sleepy baby falls back to sleep within a minute now that she is safe again, and Jaejoong isn’t far behind her, the crazy day finally catching up with him. The bedside clock reads 7:47pm.
At 8:35pm, the front door opens, and Yunho walks in quietly. The problems on Jeju Island had taken far longer to deal with than he anticipated and as a result, he is home over two hours later than he intends. He almost expects to walk into an empty home, and due to the silence, believes that he had, till he walks into the kitchen to drop off the dinner he had bought, to find a baby monitor in it and Jaejoong’s discarded mug of green tea. The relief he feels is almost overwhelming, and his eyes roam the kitchen, to find other signs of life. The dry erase board draws his attention, and his heart drops into the pit of his stomach when he realises he can make out the words he wrote that morning. Does that mean Jaejoong read them too? He looks at the mug on the counter, the bar stool that is pulled away slightly compared to the others, and back at the fridge door, and realises that Jaejoong had been sitting directly opposite the dry erase board, drinking his tea.
He doesn’t know what to do. He spent most of the day arguing with himself, playing devil’s advocate. Half of him, the old half, declaring that no one can be trusted after what he’s been through, not even Jaejoong. While the other half, the new half, points out matter of factly that Jaejoong has done nothing to deserve any type of suspicion cast upon his person. The two halves fight, bringing up Sun Ye time and time again, prior to the marriage and prior to his discovery. Bringing up the woman he fell in love with in the first place, and he realises that in the blind infatuation of youth, he’d overlooked several things about his late wife. Things that should have sent alarm bells ringing, but Yunho had been too taken by the beautiful older woman back then, willing to do anything for her. Even when her request made him feel ill, he still ended up obliging, which is the start of his downfall. If it weren’t for that severe lack of judgment, he probably wouldn’t be where he is today. And he probably wouldn’t have Jiyool. And he probably would never have met Jaejoong.
That last thought suddenly brings a smile to his face, even as he clears away Jaejoong’s mug, rinsing it and putting it out to dry on the rack. During his internal conflict on Jeju Island, he suddenly remembers that he’s met the beautiful teenager before. Only he wasn’t a teenager back then, but a ridiculously friendly and precocious toddler. A toddler who decided to mark his territory on him. Ironic isn’t it? He remembers that afternoon clearly, and even the brief conversation they had before their parents walked in, quite vividly. It is strange the things the brain holds, only to release it at the most opportune moment.
Who are you?
I’m Yunho. What is your name?
My name is Jaejoong but everyone calls be baby Joongie. You can call me baby Joongie too. Can I call you Yunnie?
Of course you can.
You’re so beautiful. My noona just got married and her husband is not as beautiful as you. Can I marry you?
Aren’t you a little young? How old are you?
I’m a big boy now! I’m turning three. I’m not young. I can marry you if I want. My umma says I always get what I want even if she doesn’t want me to have it.
You sure talk a lot for a three year old.
I know. That’s what appa says. Will you marry me?
You’re like a dog with a bone.
Don’t be silly. I can bark like a dog but I’m not a dog. If you marry me, I’ll share my tree house with you.
You have a tree house?
It’s my birthday surprise but I found it yesterday. It’s so big and I think you can fit in it too. I’ll let you play in it if you marry me. Then we can have little babies like Chaerin.
Who is Chaerin?
My noona’s baby girl. She’s still little. Can we have a baby girl?
I like baby girls. They’re so small and pretty. I want a baby girl that looks like you.
Because you’re so beautiful. All my noonas husbands are nice but I think you’re the nicest and I want to have the nicest husband. Please marry me?
I can’t let anyone else have the nicest husband now, can I? Ok, you can marry me.
Wait! We need a ring. We can’t get married without a ring. I had to carry my noona’s rings and it was fun. Do you have a ring?
Oh goodie! Ok, now I have to find a ring for you. Will this do?
That’s a half-eaten ring pop. Are you sure you don’t want to finish it first?
If I finish it then there won’t be a ring. Ok now you have to put your ring on my finger and I’ll put my ring on yours.
Don’t lose this ring, baby Joongie.
Don’t worry, Yunnie. I won’t.
Sixteen years later, and the youngest Kim child is finally back to claim what is his.
He shrugs out of his jacket, draping it over the back of the stool by the breakfast counter, and leaves the kitchen in search of his family, undoing his tie and unbuttoning the top three buttons of his shirt along the way. He feels like making use of the hot tub tonight, the night is unseasonably cool and he is aching a little from running around on a construction site. His conversation with baby Joongie is still playing in his head. It seems like the universe is having a grand old laugh at his expense, or else Jaejoong really is his salvation. The ring he gave Jaejoong was the one given by his grandmother to him before she died. Why he even gave such an expensive heirloom to the toddler, he will never ever know. It is not long after that meeting, that he meets Sun Ye and the memories of their marriage are swept away by Sun Ye’s calculated seduction of him. The plastic lolly Jaejoong had used for him is long gone, and Yunho feels a pang at that, thinking how easily he’d discarded the genuine adoration of the young boy for the false love professed by SunYe.
As he enters the darkened bedroom, he wonders if Jaejoong even remembers that meeting. He doubts it, as the boy was really quite young, but a part of him hopes he remembers. He automatically moves to his side of the bed, only to find that it is already occupied. Jaejoong is asleep on his belly, snoring lightly, facing Jiyool who is fast asleep on her back. His eyes travel over Jiyool’s features, and his lips twist into a wry smile.
I want a baby girl that looks like you.
Yunho wonders what else Jaejoong might want. His belly rumbles just then and he remembers the dinner waiting in the kitchen. He is loathe to wake the teenager, but he is sure the boy hasn’t eaten and he really doesn’t want a sick teenager on his hands as well as a sick baby. He leans over Jaejoong, to kiss his baby girl on the forehead, nuzzling down the angles of her nose, ghosting over her tiny lips before kissing her on her chin. Jiyool wrinkles her nose at the soft caress, rubbing a tiny fist against her nose, but she doesn’t move after that. Satisfied that she is still asleep, Yunho draws back, looking down at Jaejoong, and meeting sleepy doe eyes.
“Yunnie? What’s the time?”
Yunho’s eyebrow quirks at the slip, but he is certain the teenager doesn’t notice it as he watches him roll onto his back, stretching his arms over his head and arching off the bed, yawning loudly. His teeshirt rides up and Yunho catches a glimpse of a taut, smooth belly, adorned with a piercing. It takes all his willpower not to make a sound at that revelation, his pants suddenly feeling tight. He tries to summon some sort of impulse control, a measure of his own self control thoroughly exercised over the last decade, but he finds that he cannot. In the face of the promise that is Jaejoong, he is suddenly incapable of summoning any type of defense against the teenager. What he used to protect himself against Sun Ye will not work against Jaejoong. Nothing seems to work.
Jaejoong peers curiously at the man clenching his jaw in the dark. He can make out that strong jawline flexing, and it sends a tingle through him. He raises himself up on his elbows and blinks in the semi-darkness, reaching out a hand to touch Yunho’s thigh.
“Is something wrong?”
Yunho looks down at the hand resting lightly against his thigh. The urge to push it away and run is strong, but he knows if he does that, he may lose the boy forever. And so he checks that impulse to self-destruct, allowing himself to calm down, and to give Jaejoong a chance. To give them a chance. He takes the boy’s hand, enveloping it in his own larger one and tugs, sending a ghost of a smile down to the surprised teenager.
“Nothing’s wrong. Come on, I brought home dinner. I hope you like spicy ramyun.”
The smile Jaejoong sends back up to the older man is bright enough to light the room, as he links his fingers with Yunho’s and hops out of bed, making sure Jiyool is in her pillow fortress once again before half dragging the man behind him in his haste to get to the kitchen. Ok, so he is a little hungry and Yunho has somehow managed to buy his favourite food.
They sit in companionable silence, the only sounds in the kitchen is the rather crass noise of slurping noodles. Yunho is trying not to laugh at how fast Jaejoong is inhaling his dinner. He also feels little guilty for being so late, but he banishes the thought from his mind. He is here now, and the teenager is happy. His eyes once again wander over to the fridge, and he is tempted to say something, to figure out if Jaejoong saw the note, and if he did, to watch his reaction.
“That board was a good idea.”
“Hmmm?” Jaejoong peers at Yunho, mouth full, his pouty lips are very red from the spicy noodles, almost swollen.
“The dry-erase board. It’s a good idea. You’re right about not being able to miss a note if it’s on the fridge.”
Yunho watches as Jaejoong’s eyes dart to the board, and that back at his face, and then back to the board again. His eyes moving rapidly back and forth, as if he is watching a tennis match. He finishes the last of his noodles as he waits for a response. Jaejoong’s eyes hold uncertainty, and every time he turns those doe eyes over onto him, the uncertainty seems to grow. Guess he has his answer then.
“Well…” Jaejoong starts, not sure how to respond. Is Yunho aware that his message can be seen? Is this a test? He is ridiculously nervous, and he suddenly loses his appetite, pushing the half empty bowl away as he reaches for his glass to take a fortifying sip of water, the other hand reaching up to play with his necklace. It is a nervous habit, one he’s had for years, and he sends up a mental thank you to his mother. The ring has always been a comfort to him. How did she know he would need it? And the more important question, what does he do now?
Yunho wants to flee. This whole damn thing is ridiculous. His stupid Freudian slip and now he has somehow ended up in a mess he is not equipped to drag himself out from. The teenager makes it far too easy to fall in love with. He gives of himself so freely, that it is hard not to return the favour. Yunho can deal with unrequited love. But to know that the one you have inadvertently (and against his will) fallen for, knows of your feelings and doesn’t return them, in the close proximity that they have to engage in day in and day out…it is too much.
He drops his gaze down to Jaejoong’s neck, as the boy is fiddling nervously with something. He stares, and blinks in surprise when he recognises the object.
“Where did you get that ring?”
Jaejoong pauses mid-fiddle, thankful for the respite from answering. He reaches back and undoes the clasp of the chain, before fisting it, allowing the ring to swing in front of him.
“I don’t really remember. Umma says it’s important and I must keep it safe. I’ve had it for years. I actually don’t remember ever not having it. It’s pretty isn’t it? It never seems to lose its shine. Do you want to see it?”
Without waiting for an answer, Jaejoong gets up and moves the briefcase off the chair between them before taking that seat. He opens a palm and drops the ring into it, before offering it to Yunho who stares at it, but doesn’t take it.
“Why don’t you wear it?”
“I am wearing it.”
“I mean on your finger.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I guess it never occurred to me. I’ve literally had it since I was a child and it was too big so umma gave me this chain so I could wear it around my neck. I guess I should see if it fits now.”
Jaejoong picks up the ring and slips it onto his middle finger. However, it doesn’t get past his knuckle and he chuckles at his attempt, looking up at Yunho and smiling, unconcerned about the strange look in the other man’s eyes.
“Guess I grew, huh?”
He tries again on his ring finger and this time the ring slips on easily. Snugly.
“Huh, who would’ve thought? I can now wear it like a normal person. Here, you wanted to see it? Have a look.”
Jaejoong tugs the ring off and takes Yunho’s hand, turning it palm up before placing the ring gently in it. Yunho simply stares at the heavy band in his palm. He can feel the weight of the solid platinum ring. A ring he hasn’t seen in over sixteen years. He is starting to believe in fate. He picks up the ring, and takes Jaejoong’s hand, pushing the band back onto his ring finger, replicating the move all those years ago, remembering baby Joongie’s delighted squeal, completely unfazed that he had to grip the ring in his little palm to keep it on his finger.
Jaejoong stares at his hand, at the shiny silver band. The tingles he feels at Yunho’s touch is radiating out from his hand, spreading throughout his body, sending sparks into his loins. It feels as if something important just occurred, and he’s the only one who has no idea what just happened. The urge to lean forward and kiss Yunho is strong, but despite his mother’s words, the teenager is feeling vulnerable, and so he stays in his seat, unmoving, watching as Yunho looks up at him, a rueful smile playing about his lips, his almond eyes running over his face, making him feel overly warm. And then he stands up, gathering the dishes to take them to the sink. Jaejoong sits back in his chair, content to watch Yunho work. His shirt is very tight across his broad back, and he can make out the muscles working with every move he makes. It is mesmerising, the way his back ripples under the shirt, as he does the dishes. He wants to touch him so badly, but he knows the moment is lost. He should have kissed him when he had the chance.
As Yunho shakes off the last of the bowls, arranging it carefully over the drying rack, Jaejoong’s eyes once again slips over to the fridge door. He can see the faint characters of those fateful words, and he finally decides on his response.
“Appa uses the dry erase board back at the mansion to write love notes to umma. We have a huge family, so a tiny board on the fridge is not enough. Everyone uses the wall mounted board on the east side of the kitchen, but appa and umma use the board on the fridge door. He calls her honey or love or my sunshine often, but he also makes up nicknames. Once, he called her peanut butter pumpkin patch as part of an apology. He must’ve done something bad to come up with something like that. She laughed for a good minute. His notes never fail to make her smile.”
Jaejoong pauses, aware that Yunho has stopped moving, his eyes take in the hands gripping the edge of the sink, and he realises that it is not just him putting himself out there, Yunho is doing it too. His eyes once again looks over at the dry erase board. At the note that Yunho left for him. A note he reads in his mind in its entirety.
Don’t make dinner. I’ll bring home something for us.
I’m sorry, I love you.
“Your note made me smile, today.”
AN1: OH MY GOD. The first half of this chapter ran away from me. Jae is such a mummy’s boy omg… And before you say anything about baby Joongie, I was that precocious. I was talking everyone’s ear off in complete sentences by the time I was two. I even have video proof. I clearly liked the sound of my own voice OTL And I don’t know about you but I just about died writing this (not necessarily a horny dying mind you). April and Shreya can attest to that because I was dying all over them on Twitter. My baby Joongie… +___+
AN2: Peanut butter pumpkin patch is a true story… I call my husband that :3