Genre: AU, slice of life
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 :P
AN1: This is actually meant to be a drabble. Really. Really really really… *hides in a cave*
AN2: Un-betaed and although this is from my Sleeping Beauty verse, you don't need to have read it. All my oneshots and drabbles for the Sleeping Beauty universe can be found HERE
“What happened? Are you ok? Do I need to do something?”
Changmin shrugs off his brother’s arm irritatedly as he storms from the playground to the front steps of the school where he sits himself down with a loud huff. He crosses his arms and his pout is in full evidence as he stares sulkily out at the sea of children milling around waiting for their parents. He ignores his twin older brothers as they sit on either side of him. That is, till both put an arm around him and lean their chins on his bony shoulders.
“What’s wrong Changmin-ah?”
“But we saw you talking to Hyo-Eun and her friends, and then you kinda turned red and ran off. Did she say something? They were giggling in that annoying way they do.” Yoochun turns to watch the gaggle of girls still giggling and pointing. Now, had they been boys, this would be resolved in a completely different manner. Their parents don’t condone violence at all, but it definitely helps to have one older brother who is a prefect and another older brother who is the youngest captain of the under-13 school soccer team.
“It’s nothing ok! Stop bugging me!” Changmin surges to his feet, sighing in relief when he sees a familiar car. He flies down the stairs towards him, leaving his bewildered older brothers staring after him, before finally moving when they too catch sight of their Mama’s car.
The twins turn their heads in unison towards the girls as they walk down the stairs to the waiting Maserati, and the giggling in the group slowly peters out as the 12 year old boys glare towards them. The girls look down nervously, unable to hold the gaze of either twin, and their eyes remain downcast till two of the most popular boys in middle school enter the red convertible.
“Yo! Min! Open the door! I’m busting!”
Changmin is startled from his reverie by a loud pounding on the door and the familiar sound of his older brother. He frowns at his reflection, tilting his head for side to side, ignoring the pounding even as it gets more insistent.
“Min!!! If I pee out here you can clean it up. Open the damn door!”
“Go and pee in the pool!” the youngest male Jung yells back.
“Don’t be stupid!”
“There are thirteen bathrooms in this house, why must you use this one?!”
“You know why!” Yoochun practically wails as he pounds on the door some more. He is seriously considering breaking down the door. Would his Mama be more mad at him for that or for peeing on the floor?
Changmin rolls his eyes. His older brother really needs to get over catching their parents in one of the bathrooms. Since then, he’s only used three bathrooms in the house because he is positive their parents wouldn’t have done it in those bathrooms.
The bathroom attached to their room.
The bathroom attached to their older sisters’ room.
And the bathroom attached to the room where their grandparents stay when they visit.
Though in all honesty, Changmin has seen their parents sneaking out of that bedroom one night a couple of years ago, but he really doesn’t want to narrow Yoochun’s bathroom choices even more.
“Why don’t you use the other bathroom?”
“I don’t want to! The twins’ have their little potties in there and it makes me feel weird peeing with their little pink potties staring at me with the smiley faces on them.”
Changmin rolls his eyes. Honestly, his oldest brother is a little prissy. A dandy. Is that the right word? Oh, whatever. He takes a last long look at himself before yanking the door open where a grateful Yoochun pushes past him, heading straight for the toilet. He doesn’t contain the loud sigh as he relieves himself, not caring that the door is wide open and his younger brother is really technically still in the bathroom.
“Whatever, we have the same body parts.”
“Then why were you so freaked out about our parents? They have the same body parts too.”
Changmin laughs as the pissing sound actually falters. He doesn’t stay though, walking out as his brother curses angrily after him.
He wanders over to his sisters’ bedroom, and finds both of them on their beds. Jiyool is typing furiously into her laptop while JJ is seated on the bed, playing an invisible piano with her eyes shut and a sweet smile on her face. He cannot help but smile when he sees her, because she really looks like a younger version of their beautiful Mama like that.
JJ’s eyes pop open and Jiyool looks up with a start. Both of them exchange looks and then stare at their brother curiously as he throws himself across the foot of Jiyool’s bed.
“Are you ill, Min-ah?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” the younger boy grumbles. He’s 11 and very capable of knowing whether he’s ill or not. But then again, he also knows why his sisters are asking.
He hops back up gesturing for the two teenage girls to come up next to him as he opens the door to their vast walk-in closet to stare at the mirror.
The girls exchange looks again before complying. Jiyool has just turned 16 and is currently doing her first semester of college by correspondence due to her age. She is majoring in language and linguistics with a minor in psychology. She is considering taking on a second degree in business administration and international trade, but both her parents had talked her out of taking on too much. She personally doesn’t think it is too much because the compulsory language requirements for first year students are child’s play to her, so she has opted to take two extra introductory papers on international trade and basic company law, and her brother has just interrupted her completing a tutorial.
JJ and Jiyool flank their baby brother on either side, both of them taller than he is. Their youngest brother is very tall for his age, but both girls had also shot up late in puberty, finally taking after their parents. Jiyool is 5”8 and JJ is 5”7. Changmin had lamented their jump of over half a foot in a span of two years, but their parents had just laughed, saying that he will be their tallest child for sure, considering how he’s always been in the 99th percentile for his age group.
“What’s up, squirt?” Jiyool grins at their reflection as Changmin scowls.
“That’s really rude you know? I never made fun of you when you were a munchkin.”
“That’s because I’m your noonaaaaaaa.” Jiyool sings, making both her younger siblings cringe because she is singing completely off key on purpose.
JJ shudders, “Stop it, Yoolie. I’ve got to submit that composition for assessment and your singing is going to throw the melody in my head completely off the bars.”
”Jikyeo jugo sipho… neoui jalmotdwin nappeun boreutdeul kkajido… himdeun nal utge mandeuneun geoya…”
Both JJ and Changmin smile as Jiyool sings their Mama’s song perfectly instead, her almond eyes shining as she stares at them in the mirror. It is a song with a story. A story they all know about by now, as their father recalls the time he thought their Mama had died. None of them had existed then apart from Jiyool and JJ in a way. In his sadness, frustration and despair over being enough for his husband, their Mama had composed a song while holed up in a room in a hotel that belongs to their father.
“So what’s up, buttercup?”
“Jaeyoungie…” Changmin whines, making both his sisters laugh. “Don’t start with the cheesy rhymes please. Mama already said you don’t have to rhyme to write a song!”
JJ ruffles her brother’s hair affectionately. “I wasn’t composing a song with lyrics, brat. What brings you here anyway?”
“I wanted to look at us.”
Changmin nods towards the mirror. “I just want to examine our resemblance.”
“Yah, you know the three of us don’t look like each other.”
“Yes, yes, I know you look like Daddy and JJ looks like Mama and I look like some oddball mix.”
“Just humour me ok!”
Both girls exchange glances over the top of his head, and shrug as they turn back to gaze at their reflection in the full length mirror.
“Can you push your hair behind your ears, Yoolie?”
“What happened to noona?”
“You’re my Yoolie.”
Jiyool lets it slide as she pushes her long hair behind her ears. JJ’s hair is in a french braid and thus already out of the way, but Jiyool prefers to leave her hair down when at home.
Changmin gazes intently at the reflection of both his sisters, and then at himself, and after a long minute he finally huffs disconsolately and sighs.
“What’s the matter, baby?”
“There’s definitely something wrong,” a voice interrupts from the doorway, and the trio turn to find the twins watching them. It is Junsu who had spoken, and he walks in first, JJ and Jiyool stepping back to allow their brothers to take their places flanking the clearly perturbed youngest boy.
“Did something happen in school, Su-ah?”
“I think so, but he won’t tell us what’s wrong.” Junsu speaks to his oldest sister, his brow furrowed worriedly. Changmin always talks to them, confiding in them. He knows his baby brother is far smarter than he is, but that doesn’t dissolve the age gap between them. He is still the hyung, and he is going to protect his baby brother even if it is from himself when necessary.
“When did you become a tattle tale?”
“Now who’s being rude, Changmin? That was unnecessary.”
Jiyool’s voice is soft but firm. Her almond eyes are stern, resembling their father’s very uncannily in that instance, and the youngest boy sighs again. Clearly being the oldest of seven children has made his sister a little too like their parents. Their Mama in particular, but her eyes remind him too much of their father, and displeasing the man definitely results in a punishment of some sort, and he somehow can’t put it past Yoolie to mete out some form of punishment of her own. God knows, their parents will probably back her up. She’s not in college at 16 for no good reason.
“I’m sorry, hyung.”
Four eyebrows go up, and two arms go around Changmin.
“Ok, this is getting scary. What’s wrong, Minnie?” Junsu queries as he squeezes his brother to his side. He sees the same worry he feels mirrored in his twin’s eyes, and when he turns to look at their reflection, he can see both their sisters staring at Changmin in the mirror. He watches as JJ reaches out and starts to massage Changmin’s tense shoulders.
“What’s wrong, baby?” JJ asks this time.
“Can I tell you later?”
The four older siblings all shake their heads at the answer, and at their shaking, Changmin shakes his head too.
“Seriously, it’s not a big deal but it’s bothering me. I’ll tell you later when I finish my investigation.”
“Have we just been trolled?” Yoochun’s expression changes from worry to suspicion. The youngest is rather known for his jokes and tricks, and while he is usually a co-conspirator, he wonders if he’s been left out this time.
Changmin snorts and then pulls himself from the grasp of his siblings, turning on them, staring intently at first Junsu and then Yoochun, before he spits out a little bitterly, “Ugh! Of course you two are so identical in all the body parts that matter.”
And with that cryptic statement, he turns and runs out of the room, leaving his siblings bewildered and a tad worried. Their snarky, bratty younger brother is acting really out of sorts. He only calls Jiyool or JJ noona when he wants something, and Jaeyoungie is a rarity for any sibling to utter though to be fair, Changmin does say it the most. And he almost never ever calls either Yoochun or Junsu hyung. He only does so when he’s feeling vulnerable, and that hasn’t happened in awhile.
“Should we look for Mama?”
“Not yet,” Jiyool shakes her head. “But keep an eye on him alright? Give him his space. Once I finish this assignment I’ll re-evaluate the situation.”
“I think it has something to do with Hyo-Eun,” Yoochun adds, just as his sisters turn to return to their beds, causing both to turn around again.
“She’s the prettiest girl in our class, but I find her a little annoying. She’s always trying to talk to me but she never has anything useful to say.”
“Don’t be mean, Chunnie.” Jiyool murmurs, and her brother apologises.
“So what makes you think it’s because of her?” JJ asks, sitting cross legged at the end of her bed, staring up at her siblings as she leans back on her elbows.
“He was talking to her when she and her bunch of girls started laughing about something and then he ran off,” Junsu supplies.
“You didn’t hear the conversation?”
“No. We only saw the end just before they laughed. I guess they were laughing at him. You know how he gets. He takes himself too seriously and cannot stand it when people make fun of him.”
“But it’s perfectly alright for him to make fun of others…”
“He doesn’t do it to be cruel. You know that, Su-ah.” Jiyool reaches out to squeeze the younger twin’s hand. Of all of them, Junsu is the easiest to bully in a way, and he is usually the target of both Yoochun and Changmin’s pranks. The boy is not as smart as the other two boys, but what he lacks in intelligence, he makes up in heart and determination. He would do anything for his brothers, even willingly be their guinea pig, because seeing them smile, makes him happy. Unknown to him, but obvious to the older girls, the two boys who tease him need and love him more than he thinks. Changmin teases out of affection, as does Yoochun. The smooth talking twin is always visibly at a loss if Junsu is nowhere close. Junsu holds more power than he thinks, but the girls think it’s probably better to keep the information to themselves for now. The boys can work themselves out.
JJ leans up and tugs Junsu down next to her onto the bed and places a loud smacking kiss on his cheek, making him groan in protest but he doesn’t pull away.
“Ok, ok, I know. I was just being stupid. So what do we do?”
“Let him finish his investigation and then we’ll see.”
Changmin is struggling trying to hold on to his baby sisters. His father had dropped them off not five minutes ago, and being the first one he sees, he had deposited the wriggling two year olds into his care, instructing him to take them to Jiyool or his Mama asap. Since Changmin has no idea where his Mama is, Jiyool it is. The twins are home a little earlier than usual from the creche, but as his Daddy had explained, he had to pick them up early because he has to go into an emergency meeting that will likely last till just before dinner.
One of the twins tugs at his ear and he winces. They’re both dressed in identical (formerly) green dresses, and he grumbles at his Mama’s penchant for doing that. The girls are ridiculously identical that only a mole separates them. Thank god the mole is on their face. Even their birthmarks in the small of their backs are identical. He had measured it.
It is bizarre and strangely humbling.
Though right now, their moles are covered as their faces are covered in streaks of dirt.
“Not Nana, Mimi!”
The twin girls giggle.
The twin in particular nods as she giggles again and kisses him soundly on the cheek. The two little brats have recently discovered that it is incredibly fun to pretend to be the other. How or where they learn this is beyond anyone’s understanding. It got to bad that just last week, their Mama had to come into the creche and explain how to identify the two girls. Though when their faces are covered in food or dirt, it’s a little hard to see which twin is which.
“Why are you so naughty?”
“Naughty? Minnie is naughty.”
“I’m your oppa!”
“Minnie!” two voices chorus before dissolving into giggles again as their brother sighs theatrically as he trudges up the stairs to his sisters’ room.
He doesn’t bother knocking, simply walking in, as both toddlers squeal at seeing their older sisters.
“Jae can you hold them for five minutes. I just need to finish this conclusion. Do they need changing?”
“What am I? Chopped liver? I’m still holding them.”
“Touchy touchy baby boy.” JJ shakes her head at her prickly younger brother as she gets up off the bed to take the squirming twins from the clearly struggling boy but he refuses to give them up.
“I thought you had an investigation to do. We’re not out to get you, Min-ah. Calm down.”
Changmin huffs again, before turning to face the still-open closet. He takes a few steps closer to he is once again standing opposite the mirror, the twins in his arms.
“Look at the mirror, Mimi, Nana.”
The girls comply instantly, grinning at their reflections, reaching out their hands to touch their faces in the mirror and marring the formerly pristine surface with their slightly grimy hands. Changmin takes another step closer so they don’t have to reach out so far, as they start playing one handed patty cake with their reflection, giggling the whole time, while he stares at their reflection.
Both Jiyool and JJ stare at him, whatever they were doing forgotten in their worry over their youngest brother. They exchange looks when he sighs unhappily, grumbling under his breath.
“Of course you two had to be even more identical than hyungs. And of course you’re so perfect like noonas. I’m a changeling.”
And with that he turns, kissing his little sisters on the cheek before he drops them onto JJ’s bed and leaves the room without a backward glance.
“Minnie?” Nana blinks at her brother’s retreating back.
“Minnie?” Mimi echoes, staring after him.
JJ scoots forward on her bed and hug the confused toddlers to her. “Your brother is working something out. It’ll be ok.”
“Minnie is ok. Mimi loves Minnie.”
“Nana loves Minnie!”
“We all love Minnie, pumpkin pie,” Jiyool smiles.
“Pumpkin pie! Hungry Yoolie. Daddy said lunch is home.”
JJ and Jiyool laugh, before JJ speaks. “We need to change you out of your clothes. I don’t know how two pretty little babies like you get so dirty all the time.”
Changmin is seated in the library, dozens of photo albums strewn about him. He is staring at several photos of his parents, from their wedding day all those years ago, to each and every family portrait within three months of the birth of each child.
Or children, as the case may be, twice.
He traces the features of his Mama and Daddy in the last photo, before looking back to the photo of their wedding day, marveling at how they have barely aged. A few lines here and there, but apart from that, his parents look the same.
But he is interested in only one body part, and as he looks through the photos, he sighs deeply, tossing the album carelessly aside before flinging himself back onto the thick rug and staring at the ceiling.
“I really am a changeling.”
He has no idea how long he lies there, wondering how many kinds of stupid he is to be bothered about what a silly little girl said of him. Unfortunately, he is a nursing a tiny crush on said silly little girl, and well, that is definitely well and truly over now.
Changmin sits up, shaking his head mournfully. It was over before it even had the chance to start, and all because of his deformity.
He collects the albums he’d been rifling through, and as he puts them away, a small photograph falls out of one of the albums, landing face down on the floor. He ignores it as he puts everything back neatly, and once happy that everything is in order, he finally picks up the stray photo.
He stares at it for long moments, before his eyes widen and he starts to wail.
The library door is open, and he has a very loud voice that carries. Jiyool hears it first, as she sits at the table while the twins are having their early lunch. Their Mama is bringing in groceries from the car with Junsu and Yoochun, but when the twins appear wide-eyed, arms laden but no Mama in sight, Jiyool knows he’s heard too.
The twin girls busy eating their early lunch jerk up, as the wailing gets louder, and they look around perplexed just as Yoochun speaks.
“He dropped everything and ran. Yoolie, I think there I heard a bottle shatter.”
Jiyool shakes her head as JJ comes into the kitchen after her brothers, gingerly carrying a bag that is clearly leaking something.
The strong stench of vinegar permeates the large room, as she heads straight to the sink.
“I don’t know. I heard Minnie howling, and then I heard a crashing sound and Mama suddenly zoomed in front of me towards the sound of his voice.”
“So he literally dropped everything?”
Both twins nod as JJ shrugs, concentrating on picking out the shards of glass from the bag and trying to salvage whatever else food in there as best she can.
And into this, walks their father who was supposedly meant to be in a meeting.
Jaejoong’s heart is in his throat. He cannot quite tell if Changmin is injured or angry, but whatever it is, his baby is in some sort of pain. He comes to a skidding halt at the door to the library, finding his son in there, and running in, dropping to the ground and pulling the tall youngster into his arms.
“What’s wrong baby? What happened? Mama’s here. What’s the matter?”
“How could you, Mama?” comes the muffled voice from Jaejoong’s neck.
Jaejoong draws back to look at his son, pushing the boy’s hair from his face to look into his eyes. There is a mixture of indignance overlaid by unhappiness, and he strokes Changmin’s cheekbone with the pad of his thumb as he cups his cheek.
“What do you mean?”
“Look at what you did!”
Jaejoong is suddenly confronted by an old photo, and he blinks, trying to refocus his eyes, and he sees the black and white picture of himself and the boy in his arms.
He stares, and then looks up at his pouty son, and then back down at the photo.
“What did I do?”
Changmin growls and stabs a finger into the middle of the photo. “Mama! Can’t you see? You maimed me!”
Jaejoong’s eyes widen and he looks back down at the photo again.
He stares and stares.
And he looks back up, even more perplexed than before.
“How did I maim you?”
“Look at my ears!”
The two of them are unaware of the silent crowd spilling quietly into the room. They had all gotten there just in time to hear Changmin’s lament, and they all turn to stare at the youngest boy’s ears.
As does their Mama.
Who stares and stares, and still has no clue.
“What’s wrong with your ears?”
“Everything!” Changmin huffs, as he slams his face back against his Mama’s throat.
Jaejoong pushes his son away from, gripping him and staring at the visibly upset boy. “Changmin, help me understand. I cannot see anything wrong with your ears. How did I maim you?”
“My ears are different from everyone else’s!”
Jaejoong’s eyes return to the offending body part, and he stares and stares, and he still cannot see it.
“Different how? We’re all different, baby. Ears are like fingerprints. No two are alike.”
“Lies, Mama! Chunnie and Susu’s ears are the same and so are Mimi’s and Nana’s. Everyone’s ears are small except mineeeeeeeee.” Changmin wails the end, loudly enough that his baby sisters, about to respond to their names, stay silent. He tries to burrow himself deeper against his Mama’s chest, feeling ridiculously sorry for himself. And then he remembers, and he jerks back, shoving the photo back into his Mama’s startled face.
“Mama! It’s your fault! Look what you did to me!?!?”
Everyone else watching move forward as one, and Jaejoong notices them all. He exchanges confused looks with Yunho who shrugs, but then as his eyes slide over to his older children, all of them have looks of understanding rather than confusion. He pulls Changmin back to his chest as he plucks the offending photo from his fingers and stares at it.
And with context, he finally sees it.
“Oh? Oh? Is that all you can say? My life is ruined because you made my ears big!”
“Changmin…” Yunho finally speaks up. Upset or not, his children are not allowed to talk to their Mama like that.
Changmin whirls around, his face sulky, his pout in prominent evidence as he glares as his father. “But, Daddy! Look!” He tries to snatch the photo from his Mama but Jiyool gets there first.
“I don’t need to see the photo. I remember it. Your Mama was so enamoured by you, Changmin-ah. He couldn’t stop cooing over you. We were at your grandparents’ house, and he had been busy with summer school, trying to finish his degree, and hadn’t gotten to see you much apart from feeding you. And even then, his nose would always be in a book. You were already about two months when he was finally able to take a breather, and he saw you properly for the first time in awhile. You had grown so much, and he was touching you and cooing at how much you’ve grown. That photo was taken just before you laughed for the first time. You like people touching your ears and your Mama had just wanted a smile from you. Even now you like getting your ears scratched. Changmin-ah, your Mama loves you. Yes, your ears are a little bigger but we all love you for you, especially your Mama. You are more than a body part. Even if you had three ears, he’d love you nonetheless, and all of us too.”
Yunho pauses as his son starts to sniffle and curl back into Jaejoong’s chest. He watches his wife stroke the young boy’s back, large doe eyes soft with a love he knows so well.
“What’s wrong, Minnie?”
“Nothing,” comes the muffled voice. Changmin is done with Hyo-Eun. He was ready to abolish reason because of a cruel remark she made, and he had been so close to hurting his Mama in the pursuit of eliminating the hurt that he feels. But his Daddy’s story has erased any and all pain, and he finds that he really doesn’t care anymore. He has his Mama.
“I love you, Mama.”
“I love you too, baby.”
AN1: Fuck my life it really did start of as a drabble and then it took on a life of its own. I GIVE UP.
AN2: As you can see, I have a very soft spot for Minnie-ball, as do most of you I think lol. Generally, favourite child from this verse all seem to be either Jiyool or Minnie-ball. I can’t pick though… I love them all damn it! :O