Genre: Non-AU, angst, fluff, 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: A script for a new mini-series is left in Yunho’s apartment by his manager, and as he reads it, he becomes more and more intrigued. Unbeknownst to him, one of the leads has already been cast, and the contracts signed. When he too is cast in the project after expressing interest in the part, he gets the shock of his life when he arrives for the script reading to be faced with a person from his past. Someone that he has spent years trying to pretend never existed. How will they be able to get through filming this without killing each other? Or worse…
AN1: Thank you to what feels like millions of people who commented on the first chapter :O IDEK what to say except thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day… even though I actually didn’t realise it was Valentine’s Day lol!
AN2: Oh and if you’re a new reader who has never read ICE, I really think you should because I will make a few references to it without actually spelling it out because the assumption is that everyone has read ICE and are familiar with the plot…
Yunho is flipping through the script. He is in the back of one of the vans for TVXQ’s exclusive use, and the creature comforts of the vehicle are numerous.
But yet Yunho is uncomfortable.
His shirt is too stifling, his jacket feels too constricting, and his pants just that tiny bit too tight, and the temperature is not quite to his liking.
He knows it’s probably his imagination, because he’s worn all these clothes before with no problem. And he is sure no one has touched the temperature dial since he was in the van that morning being taken to practice, but for some reason he is just feeling really uncomfortable.
Maybe it is his subconscious. It has been nagging at him for a week now since he was accepted for the part in the drama. It is little things here and there that prick at him, making him feel uncertain and insecure. He hasn’t felt like this since Jaejoong left, and he definitely doesn’t like that the feeling has come back.
Part of the blame lies with the script itself. He had skimmed through it the first time, but on the second closer reading, memories start to assault him.
The scene on the plane, where the other actor is supposed to fall asleep in his lap.
How many times has Jaejoong fallen asleep in his lap? And no matter how hard he tries, he cannot remove the memory of Jaejoong clinging to him like a baby koala as he discusses their schedule with the other three members. The three never say anything, simply looking at them fondly.
And in the same scene, when the actor storms into the cabin and then just sits himself in his lap.
How many times has Jaejoong done that? And not just in the safety of their apartment. He remembers a particular incident where Jaejoong had gone to get food, and had come back with “chicken on a stick”, and planted himself firmly in his lap, feeding him from his stick while chatting nonchalantly to the staff around them. Shocked at first, but then too tired to protest, Yunho had wrapped his arms around him and just took whatever comfort the older man was offering. Hugging him calms him, and that has never changed.
Well, never till Jaejoong became the source of his stress and fears instead of being the comfort.
He stares out the tinted windows at the scenery going past, lost in thought and feeling a little trapped.
He unbuttons the third and fourth button on his blue and white striped shirt, exposing the low v-neck teeshirt he is wearing underneath. He takes a deep breath, exhaling carefully, and then continues to do a few more breathing exercises to calm his racing heart.
The fact that Jaejoong can still do this to him from within the deep recesses of his memories bothers him greatly.
He flicks through the script again, and finds another scene that had given him cause for concern.
The phone sex scene.
Now, while he doesn’t watch movies and even fewer dramas, he is sure there has never been a phone sex scene anywhere. Everything will be simulated of course, but they will still be saying the words, though less explicit than it can probably be, and he is feeling apprehensive about that. Tears he can dredge up, because all he has to do is remember the devastation he felt when Jaejoong had left, even though he himself had chosen to cast the man out, and the tears will come easily.
But making love?
Phone sex of all things. He has no idea how the producer expects them to carry this one out.
Because all he will be able to hear is Jaejoong’s husky chuckle in his ear when he had called him all those years ago. The lead singer was at home sick and Yunho at practice during a break, and like a dutiful boyfriend who misses his love, Yunho had called Jaejoong to check on him. And instead of getting a sick man, he had gotten a horny one. Jaejoong had started talking dirty, and Yunho knew he should have probably hung up and faced the ire of the gorgeous man when he got home, but instead he decided why not be a masochist and keep listening?
Yunho had spent the rest of practice trying to hide a very painful boner, and it is only due to muscle memory and the countless repetitions he’s already gone through with the routine that he could carry it off without anyone noticing that something was wrong.
And the sex when he got home that night was like yet another scene in the script. Jaejoong may be sick, but he is never too sick for sex. And the blue balls he’d given Yunho had made the leader annoyed enough to take it out on his lover, dragging out their love making and tormenting the intoxicating lead singer.
Yunho rubs his forehead tiredly, staring blindly now at the thick bound script in his lap.
How is he going to do this?
Changmin had been right about the acting. He really doesn’t think he’ll need to actually try to act. Every emotion, and practically every situation, is something he has come across before. He just needs to remember how he responded, and it will probably come naturally. They had even practiced it earlier that day, just to see if it will work.
The scene where he discovers who the other man really is, watching him on the screen. The scene needs him to convey so much without speaking a word. Changmin had dug up one of the fancams from Jaejoong’s fanmeet from the weekend. Yunho had been furious at first, but Changmin had just snapped at him to stop being so stupid and he’d shut up. The maknae had come over to help him out, and well, getting angry at the man is really not going to help him.
And so he grits his teeth, knowing anger is actually the completely wrong emotion needed for the scene. But he trusts Changmin, and the man didn’t fail him.
Though his own heart surely did. The pounding in his chest, as he stares at Jaejoong singing I’ll Protect You. And when he stops midway to chat with his very responsive audience had brought a tiny smile to his face, and when the clip ended, he had turned to a slackjawed Changmin.
Well, apparently he nailed the scene.
The initial shock.
Then the wonder.
The brief confusion.
And then the tears. The sole tear that slips out as he watches the beautiful man on the screen.
And the smile as Jaejoong plays with his audience.
And the undeniable love and affection he feels in that very brief moment.
He fucking nailed it according to Changmin, not one to lie or mince words.
But he cannot feel happy about it.
The van stops at the venue, but Yunho doesn’t budge, simply staring out the window, waiting for his manager to come back and get him. It is uncharacteristic of him, the humble leader of TVXQ who always tries to make life as easy as possible for his staff.
But he is still uncomfortable, and he wants to stay in the van for as long as possible.
He flicks through the script once again.
The hockey scenes don’t bother him. In fact, he is really looking forward to it.
But to play lovers with some actor he has probably in all likelihood never met.
To bring to life the obvious chemistry the characters have on paper. A chemistry he has never felt with anyone, male or female except Jaejoong.
And it certainly isn’t for the lack of trying.
He has dated enough, all under the radar of course, to finally give up the notion because he is not over Jaejoong.
It is his own fault really. Instead of being mature about it, the leader of TVXQ had suddenly regressed into a petulant child as the rug is pulled out from underneath him. Jaejoong had tried being the adult. To be the hyung. But Yunho didn’t want to listen. All he knew was that Jaejoong was leaving, and it hurt. And it hurt so much that he wanted the older man to hurt to.
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
But what’s done is done.
Jaejoong has clearly moved on, though he hasn’t bothered to find out.
Has never wanted to find out.
What he doesn’t know can’t hurt him, right? Because knowing will surely tear open old wounds that are currently stapled shut haphazardly due to sheer force of mind and will. Yunho will put a proper dressing over it when he has the time. But in the meantime, the staples will do for now. He knows he is avoiding the issue, just like he did all those years ago. Throwing Jaejoong out made more sense than facing the man leaving him.
He hates himself more than he hates Jaejoong.
He realised that as he read through the script. When all those long suppressed memories come tumbling back to the surface. He is even able to smile at some of the memories, which is something he has never done before. Allowing himself to remember the man kindly, helps a little. Though he does find that being faced with the man, as Changmin had forced him to do, takes more getting used to. The knee-jerk anger emotion needs to be controlled.
Perhaps this drama is a good idea after all. It is making him face his memories, and go through the emotions again, and maybe this time he can finally let Jaejoong go for good.
As long as he never sees the man again.
The van door slides open and Yunho looks up to meet the eyes of his manager who is looking oddly nervous. The man has been on edge for the past few days, and Yunho attributes it to stress because he knows manager hyung’s wife has just given birth. He had offered to give the man the day off since he only has practice and the script reading which will likely take the whole afternoon. The producers are taking the main cast out to dinner after, and Yunho knows he can probably get a ride easily.
But for some reason his manager had declined.
“Yunho-ssi, we’re late because the other lead needs to get away early because of a family emergency and they decided to move the script reading up by half an hour.”
Yunho quirks his eyebrow at that. There are two leads, both almost equally weighted. He has no idea who the other man is, but if he has enough weight to move a script reading that involves him, then he must be reasonably well known. Yunho is not being arrogant, simply matter of fact. He is for all intents and purposes a rookie actor and he will definitely behave as such and defer to his more experienced co-stars, but when it comes to juggling schedules, as far as he knows, they are all working around his schedule.
He takes another deep breath, before unbuckling himself and getting out of the van. His script is in hand and he forgets about the unbuttoned shirt as he follows after his manager.
Jaejoong is early. Well, there’s a reason why he is early. He had asked for the change because his father has taken ill and he wants to be able to get back in time for dinner to see him. He is under no delusion that everyone will be able to make the change of time, though the producers have assured him that they can cover his scenes first so even if they aren’t able to finish, at least he’ll be able to leave. The subject of the drama is a little strange, and the producers have expressed the view that it might need to be dragged out to ten episodes rather than the contracted six. Jaejoong had been a little apprehensive about that, because what if the viewers don’t like it? He doesn’t plan on being stuck into a project that is not getting the viewers simply because “artistically”, the producers want it dragged out a little more.
He had been intrigued by the plot. Not even the characters themselves, but rather the fact that this is a boy love romance of sorts where as far as he can see, homosexuality is accepted. Having longed for such a situation for so long, being able to live in it in a pretend world for a month had been extremely enticing.
Unfortunately, he really should have taken a much closer look at the script before he signed himself up for the project. His parents are going to have a heart attack. Well, not about the fact that it is a gay love story, but rather about the explicitness of it. The producers are trying to push boundaries with this project, and the screening time of the drama actually reflects that.
He doesn’t know of very many rated 19+ dramas out there, but this is probably going to be one of them. It is to be shown on a cable channel rather than one of the mainstream broadcasters, and it is being funded privately. Apparently, as long as no actual certain body parts are shown, anything and everything goes.
Anything goes indeed.
His second thoughts about the project come up as the start is delayed time and time again because of the producers’ unwillingness to cast the other lead. No one is right for the role apparently. He had been desperate enough that he had even suggested for Yoochun and Junsu to audition.
Both had laughed at him.
”Hyung! Just because I’ve kissed a man doesn’t mean I want to kiss you!”
“Hyung…seriously. We’d be cracking up in every single scene. And plus, no way am I going to survive trying to skate. And I can definitely do without seeing any of your bits again…accidentally or otherwise!”
His dongsaengs are both assholes.
What did he do to get them huh? Changmin would listen to him surely? Maybe after feeding him a five course meal, the boy will do anything for him.
Jaejoong bites hard on his lip, as he stares blindly at the table.
He tries not to think of the two they left behind. The two who chose to stay behind. One of those other two that he used to consider half of himself.
How do you live when every single day brings tears because of the emptiness next to you?
How do you function when you feel as if your soul has been ripped in two?
How do you wake up each day knowing he won’t be there to greet you?
How do you remember to breathe when he isn’t there reminding you?
How do you face the world when your protector has abandoned you?
Jaejoong had to learn how to do all that and more. The first year had been the worst. He had thought that maybe, just maybe, Yunho will give in. Even if not to come with them, but to open up channels of communication again. To see him.
But he gets nothing.
At first he thinks he understands. He gets that Yunho believes he had chosen freedom over him. But Jaejoong was just trying to protect them. They were being taken advantage of, and all their hard work was slowly being flushed away into the toilet that is SM Entertainment. He knows how tired Yunho was getting. Sometimes, even two hours of sleep in a twenty-four hour period was a luxury. And Yunho gets hit the hardest. Anything that happens, no matter whose fault it is, Yunho cops the blame.
And he does it willingly. He will protect his members beyond anything.
And he will protect Jaejoong beyond anything.
That is, till Jaejoong betrayed him.
He knows that is the perception from his former lover.
Jaejoong is shaken from his reverie by the entrance of one of the producers.
“Jaejoong-ssi, everyone is unable to change their schedules at such short notice, but all of them are agreeable to letting you complete your scenes first. We are still unable to get hold of the other lead, but we are assured that he has nothing else scheduled for today so it should be alright.”
He merely nods in acknowledgement, not answering because he doesn’t want to invite conversation. The producer seems to sense this, because he leaves the large room immediately, letting Jaejoong have his space. He had wanted to ask who the other lead is, but that would mean conversation, and he just wants to wallow a little.
His attempts to contact Yunho fall on deaf ears, and after a year, he gives up. Surely a year is more than enough time to give someone who clearly wants nothing more to do with you? Jaejoong is tired of being a doormat. He is tired of pining. He is tired of crying.
He is just tired.
And so he tries to move on.
He fills his life with new projects, trying his hand at acting.
He fills his life with composing and writing.
He fills his life with friends.
He fills it with alcohol.
But he is still stuck.
Stuck in the past, stuck in a rut, stuck in a hole.
Stuck in the fucking constellation in the sky.
He cannot get away from the W, as every single concert or fan meet or fan sign, or even a television interview, he will see Yunho’s name.
Or the portmanteau of their names.
And instead of resisting, he decides to embrace it. He decides to keep hope alive for the fans, even as his own dies. The more “YunJae evidence” there is, the more Jaejoong dies inside.
He has none left.
He shakes his head from his gloomy thoughts as he flicks idly through the script. He is actually really excited about the songs. While he is still feeling a little iffy about his English pronunciation, he knows it’s definitely getting better especially after their world tour. And the fact that his character is some crazy popular rock star appeals greatly to him especially with the release of his solo mini-album. Some of the songs will be on the soundtrack too and it will be nice to have more exposure for his album since his ability to promote is still greatly limited.
Something catches his eye as he flicks through the pages and he pauses to take a closer look.
Give us a chance.
The drama is centred around two characters who meet online, and thus, most of the initial filming will be done separately. There will be emails that will be read aloud over voiceovers, with the appropriate physical reactions to the words of course. This particular email exchange reminds him of the day Yunho had thrown him out.
He had begged. Begged the furious man to give them a chance. That he will find a way.
But Yunho had been adamant that there is no other way.
Really, he had been saying it was either his way or the highway. For a man who rarely gave ultimatums, that had been the worst ultimatum to give Jaejoong because Yunho’s way was staying with him.
And in any other circumstance, that would have been fine.
But Jaejoong cannot stay and see the life being sucked out of Yunho. He has to leave to make a statement, that no matter how good it looks from the outside, they had to leave. He knows life is much better for TVXQ now, and he’d like to think it is in part because of the three of them leaving. He wonders if Yunho can actually see that.
Jaejoong doesn’t allow anyone close to him to mention Yunho. Not Junsu, not Yoochun, not his family. Every time they bring him up, he shuts down because he doesn’t want to face it. He has made his peace with the situation.
Well, at least that’s what he keeps telling himself.
He knows he is deluding himself, but without anyone close to him questioning that, he can keep up the charade.
But he knows for certain about one thing.
He has no hope left, just anger.
Anger at the infuriating leader of TVXQ who could not see past his own hurt to realise the bigger picture at work.
Anger that the selfish man has the audacity to believe it is only him who is hurting.
Anger towards the stubborn fool who chose to think that if Jaejoong leaves, it must mean he doesn’t love him anymore.
And Jaejoong knows this because Yunho had said it all to him that horrible afternoon. His fucking leader of TVXQ is being purposefully blind because he is much too wrapped up in his own hurt.
Well, fuck him. Jaejoong is done. So fucking done.
His flicking through the script gets more agitated, skimming the pages roughly as he feels his heart rate speed up. This is why he doesn’t want to talk about Yunho. It doesn’t bring forth tears, he just wants to fucking punch the man.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
So fucking stupid. He cannot even believe how stupid. Yunho is supposed to be the smartest one out of all of them in the group.
Well, except Changmin but that boy is an aberration of nature so he doesn’t count, because really, god saw fit to give him looks, talent AND intelligence?
Even after so many years, the emotions come rushing back as if it is just that very afternoon that Yunho had thrown him out like yesterday’s fucking rubbish.
Jaejoong slams the script closed with a bang, drawing a loud gasp from the doorway as he looks up to meet the eyes of a familiar face.
He stands quickly, pasting a smile on his face to greet the woman he’d almost exchanged saliva with on Jackal is Coming.
“Jaejoong-ssi, I didn’t know you were part of this. They were pretty closed mouth about the other cast. Let me guess, you’re the rock star?”
Jaejoong’s mouth pulls up to the right, giving his signature slightly lopsided smile.
“Noona, I hope you know the name of my character because I still don’t.”
Sung-ryung steps forward to check the table, and finds the name of her character seated slightly off from opposite Jaejoong. She sits down and pours a glass of water, taking a quick drink as she is parched, before replying.
“No, I don’t. That’s strange. I know my name. Baek Do-Kyung. I’m your boyfriend’s mom.”
“Mom?” Jaejoong laughs with genuine humour this time. “You’re not old enough, noona.”
“Well, he’s supposed to be 23 and I allegedly had him at 19 so it actually works out to be reasonably accurate.”
He arches his eyebrow, pouring himself his own drink, as more people start filing in. Several express shock at seeing him, but then everyone agrees that the casting couldn’t have been better.
Soon, the entire table is filled, and the chatter is loud as everyone talks about the script, and the rather surprising empty seat still left at the table.
Baek Do Hoon hasn’t made his entrance.
Jaejoong checks his watch as he eyes the empty seat opposite him balefully. Does he really need to wait for the man? They don’t actually have any scenes together till later, but perhaps all the voiceover talking to each other over email needs to be gotten out of the way.
Not to mention the phone sex scene.
Fucking hell he almost forgot about that. Surely they’re not going to make him read that out here now? It seems weird and it’s going to be really awkward.
But then he is a professional. He has to act the damn thing out in front of everyone anyway although apparently it will be a closed set.
He is a professional.
Jaejoong is going to need to remember that, and he is about to find out why.
“He’s here!” A gofer calls out, and everyone suddenly stops talking, eyes trained on doorway, awaiting the arrival of the second lead who is technically 25 minutes late.
Jaejoong doesn’t even bother to turn, staring straight ahead instead. He doesn’t notice the gasps from the people around him, as his thoughts drift back to his father. He better not be made fucking late because of this.
Yunho has no idea why everyone is gaping at him like he’s grown a pair of horns or something. Seriously, literally everyone is staring at him as if they’ve seen a ghost. He looks at his manager who is looking anywhere but at him, as he walks quickly to confer with two men that Yunho bows to, knowing they are the PDs. He doesn’t expect anyone to stand for him, but to stare at him like that is making him even more uncomfortable than he already is. Did he dye his hair green and didn’t notice?
He sees the only empty seat left, and as he approaches it, he speaks up, making a general apology to the entire table for his tardiness.
And he hears a loud gasp.
Jaejoong flinches, unable to stop the sound that escapes his mouth when he hears the familiar voice, slightly raised, as he apologises for being late. He looks up, and his eyes meet dark almond eyes that he never thought he would ever see in person again.
Yunho feels like he must be in some sort of horrid practical joke. He takes in the dark kohl lined eyes, the blue fringe, and the russet hair, all familiar to him because he had just watched a fancam from the fan meet from the previous night. But even if he hadn’t seen that, he would know that face anywhere.
That heartbreakingly beautiful face.
Key word being heartbreaking.
The whole room is silent as the two men stare at each other across the table. One seated, the other standing. No one moves. No one barely even breathes. They all know who these two are, they know the history, and even though they don’t know the details, no one can deny that these two men had been close once upon a time.
A few eyes dart to the man Yunho had walked in with, and they are all interested to see that the man doesn’t look surprised at all. In fact, the PDs don’t look surprised either.
Is this a publicity stunt?
All of them have similar thoughts running through their mind, and at the forefront is the fact that this already controversial drama is about to get more controversial.
Yunho finally moves, taking his seat, aware that all eyes are on them. He has no fucking idea what to do. His heart is beating so fast, his belly has just gone and tied itself up into knots. One glance at his manager explains why the man had been so nervous.
The bastard had known.
While Yunho rarely thinks ill of other people, the only one he has ever truly really thought ill of is currently sitting opposite him with a blank look on his face, he cannot help but wish his manager hyung a sore belly or something. Because seriously, what the fuck are they playing at?
What is SME playing at?
He knows his company is willing to do anything, their behaviour bordering on unscrupulous sometimes, but surely this is too much?
Jaejoong suddenly surges to his feet, making everyone let out various types of surprised sounds, as he stares back and forth between the PDs and Yunho.
He doesn’t mince words, because he is too furious to even think straight right now.
“What the fuck is going on?”
No one answers, because really, the entire table has no idea what is going on either. They can understand the man’s anger, and they forgive him his rudeness for it.
Yunho looks up and takes in the older man’s slim frame. Almost painfully thin, and he resists the urge to slam his fist through the fucking table. What happened to him? Has he been ignoring the man so thoroughly that he doesn’t even realise that Jaejoong has all but disappeared? How did he not notice this from the fancam? Why didn’t anyone tell him it had gotten so bad? Jaejoong can put away almost as much food as Changmin when hungry and this, this man standing across the table and glaring daggers at him is someone he doesn’t recognise.
What happened to his Jaejoongie?
And just like that, the walls come crashing down again, a painful reminder.
Jaejoong is no longer his.
“What the hell are you staring at?” Jaejoong’s voice is like ice, and so completely in character that literally everyone except Yunho move in unison and start to flick through their scripts, wondering if he got given the cue to start somehow even though it really looks like a war is about to start rather than a script reading.
Yunho’s voice is calm. He is using his leader voice, and Jaejoong bristles. One single word and he wants to leap across the table and punch the man in the face. But he doesn’t, but he does respond, the ice in his voice strengthens as he digs deep to muster the coldest expression he can summon from within himself.
“Well, I don’t appreciate it.”
“That’s just too bad for you, isn’t it? You don’t get to tell me what I can or cannot look at.”
The producers who had cast Yunho without auditioning are both gaping at their two leads, as they whisper quietly to each other.
“So, do you still have misgivings about casting U-Know Yunho?”
“That isn’t the U-Know Yunho I know. Is he acting?”
“Well, everyone is looking at them and the script confusedly. I’m pretty sure it isn’t in the script.”
“But he’s always so polite.”
“He’s still polite right now. Borderline polite.”
Jaejoong’s back gets stiffer at Yunho’s words and tone. The man doesn’t look away at all, instead quirking his eyebrow in challenge. Is it too late to back out of this? There is no way in hell he wants to be anywhere near the insufferable dancer. Yes, dancer. Jaejoong is not feeling charitable enough to call Yunho anything else.
A little voice inside him is telling him to loosen up, that they are in public. Jaejoong’s eyes drift down to Yunho’s open shirt.
Much too open. What the hell?
He chews on his bottom lip, the urge to punch the man suddenly turns into the urge to kiss the man, and that feeling makes him angry all over again. Yunho is stunning. There is no denying it. The casual masculinity annoys the hell out of him. The expanse of throat he can see is driving him crazy.
Why the fuck is his shirt so open?
Jaejoong doesn’t realise he has said it out loud, till Yunho replies.
“What do you mean what? You just asked me why the fuck my shirt is so open.”
“I did not.”
“Yes, you did.”
Jaejoong’s eyes shift to the noona seated to Yunho’s left, and she nods at him. The urge to scream is very strong. He has no idea what to do. Is this Twilight Zone?
“Can someone please explain to me why Yunho and I are in the same room?”
Yunho’s eyes immediately shift to the two PDs and his manager hyung and he can feel the laughter bubbling up in his throat as they both look nervously at each other and then proceed to elbow one another. He can really only laugh because what else can he do? Jaejoong’s flashing eyes and annoyed twist of that beautiful pout, not to mention the absolutely frosty expression on his face is bring forth a reaction he really does not want to examine. He wants to button up his shirt, but that means listening to Jaejoong in a way, and he really is not prepared to do that.
“Um…he auditioned for Baek Do Hoon and was the best out there?”
The PD had ended his explanation with a slight lilt, turning the statement into a question. Jaejoong is about to call the man out of it, but Yunho beats him to it.
“I did not audition.”
“No, no,” the other PD speaks up too, eyes darting nervously back and forth from the two leads. “He expressed interest in the project and we thought he was perfect…”
“Perfect? Perfect? Are you kidding me? When exactly did he express interest?” Jaejoong’s tone is one of disbelief, turning away from Yunho now and glaring at the PDs. He doesn’t even bother to glance at manager hyung’s face, not wanting to deal with any staff from SME beyond what is necessary. They are all a pack of liars.
Now Yunho too has his back up, and he stands, drawing everyone’s attention to him but Jaejoong’s. The side profile of the man is making his belly clench and not in a good way. He is going to tell Changmin to call Yoochun and demand to know what the hell has happened to Jaejoong. The man has always been small, his waist so tiny that Yunho can almost span it with both his hands. But this is too much. He is practically paper thin.
“Don’t speak about me like I’m not here.”
Jaejoong turns, doe eyes flashing as he practically snarls. “I really fucking wish you weren’t here right now. I did not sign up to this project to have to deal with the likes of you. I’d rather wait a million years for that perfect male lead than have to act with you.”
Everyone exchanges glances. This is even better than an actual drama. There is a photographer in the room, meant to take official photos of the script reading session, but the man’s camera has been stayed by one of the other staff. No photos are being taken right now.
But the funny thing about the whole situation is that all the cast members can see how well Jaejoong and Yunho fit in the roles of unnamed rockstar and chaebol hockey player Baek Do Hoon. Yunho’s no-nonsense attitude and smart attire exudes masculinity, and Jaejoong’s hair and countenance just screams rock star. The production will be dynamite, so long as the two leads don’t kill each other first.
“Perfect male lead, huh? Is there a problem with my acting?” Yunho challenges, knowing it is a sore spot with himself, but daring Jaejoong to mention it. To be honest, he doesn’t actually think the man has seen anything of his.
“I don’t give a damn about your acting. It’s you that I have a problem with.” Jaejoong turns back, finally pinning his eyes on manager hyung and deigning to speak to the man. “Why is Yunho in the same room as me?”
“The project got given the green light by upper management.”
This time it is Yunho who turns on his manager.
“You knew? You knew Jaejoong was the other lead and you still let me do this? Hyung…what the hell? How long have you known?”
“About a week.”
“A week!? A week!? And you didn’t tell me? When did we sign the contract? Can I unsign?”
“Management wants you to do this. I…I’ve been told not to allow any changes.” His manager looks away, glancing at the other cast members and wincing inwardly at the disapproval on some of their faces. He knows SME has reputation and this is certainly not going to help matters. But what can he do? He is literally just the messenger in this instance. His instructions are clear.
Make sure U-Know Yunho acts in this drama opposite Hero Jaejoong.
Yes, the memo actually said that. Word for word, he has it memorised.
Jaejoong’s jaw drops open, completely flabbergasted now as he stares at the man he once considered a friend. Well, he is certainly no friend of his, and from what he can see, no friend of Yunho’s either. Fucking typical of SME.
“You have got to be kidding me. What the hell are they playing at? Did they even read the script?”
Silence, as everyone looks back to the SME manager. It is almost like a tennis match for the spectators, and all of them had never imagined a show such as this. The thoughts running through their heads are myriad, but a similar string runs through all of them.
The ratings for this drama, regardless of subject content, are going to go through the roof.
It is impossible for it not to.
Absolutely flat out impossible.
All of them seated at the table are old enough to know who Dong Bang Shin Ki are. And they are also old enough to know about YunJae, the most well-known male/male couple to come out of kpop. Some believe it is just fan service, but others watching them right now are not so sure anymore, because really, would one half of a fake couple really point out about their other half’s unbuttoned shirt?
Coupled with the actual subject of the drama?
Fireworks are going to be just the beginning.
“Yes, they read it before they approved it.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Yunho echoes Jaejoong’s earlier words.
Jaejoong turns back to look at him, his voice more sneer then anything. “What did you expect from that company? They will stop at nothing for ratings and any ability to sell more product. Do you really fucking think it was out of the goodness of their hearts that we are standing here in the same room? Where were they three years ago when I was trying to call you?”
“Not here, Jaejoong.”
That infuriating leader voice. Jaejoong clenches his fists, and he takes a deep breath, before turning back to the three men that he laying the blame on. Yunho, unfortunately, is blameless and while angry at the man, he will direct his current anger appropriately.
“Fine! If he can’t get out of the damn contract, then I will.”
“Um…there’s a huge fine to get out of it, plus we will have to find another actor and you will have to pay for the delay. Each day costs millions of won…”
“I’ll pay half.”
Jaejoong once against turns to Yunho, his anger is now definitely directed at the man. How dare he? Who the hell does he think he is?
“No more dividing the profits between five? It’s just two? You could barely afford to buy your parents a new house and now you want to pay half the fucking fees for me to get out of this? I don’t want your filthy money.”
Yunho clenches his jaw, flexing his hands and willing himself to calm down. The words had come out before he had time to stop them, and he knows he shouldn’t have said it.
Jaejoong watches that strong jawline tighten, making it more pronounced, the glorious line from his jaw down his throat is just almost too much to resist. He is getting whiplash from the insane emotions rocking about within him. Yunho has always made him feel this way. This is why everyone’s solution when they fight is to lock them up in the same room because in the proximity, they just cannot resist each other. Screaming and yelling aside, the animal like attraction they have for one another is both a blessing and a curse.
And right now, it really is a fucking curse.
He turns away quickly, asking the PD for the actual figures.
And he winces inwardly, even as the other cast members gasp. Yes, it is that exorbitant.
“Come on! That’s ridiculous. Even if we all pitch in, and in all honesty, I am more than willing to because I’m sure this is entrapment of some kind, it is still far too much money. Jaejoong-ssi, I think you should just do it. Your chemistry with Yunho-ssi is undeniable. We all thought you were acting at the start, but you’re not, and well, we can probably wrap up filming quickly if both of you can stay in character like this. You especially.”
Jaejoong eyes the man who speaks. He knows of him. He is supposed to play his father. And he is being very nice and fatherly right now, perfectly in character. He knows he has already been unforgivably rude, and the man has just given him an out for backing down from his position without losing face. And Jaejoong is anything but stupid when it comes to the matter of his own survival.
And with that one word, Jaejoong finds his seat again, staring resolutely at his script and not up at the man whom he is going to have to spend the next month or so in close proximity with.
Very close proximity.
He is so very fucked.
AN: And I’m taking this opportunity to thank everyone again! And for those reading ICE, chapter 16 is in two parts. I think I saw some people mentioning on twitter that they didn’t realise it was two parts so yeah… :O Imagine them trying to work through that scene :PPP