Genre: AU, fluff
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
Summary: An illegal marriage at the age of three and sixteen foreshadows a love story that Yunho will never have dreamed possible in a million years. What he forgets is that the universe is very kind towards baby Joongie and what that toddler wants, he will get...eventually ;-)
AN1: This was meant to be a drabble, but it has turned into a oneshot… I wrote this in just over an hour so please excuse all the mistakes. I just couldn’t let it go… guh… and I really have no idea why I wrote it in the way I did… It just came out that way.
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
There it is again.
The tinkle of such joyful laughter trickles from behind the door. It is ajar and I can see the sunlight coming through the gap. The adults are still talking, and a quick glance over towards them reveal that none have noticed that I have completely lost interest in the conversation. There’s only so much small talk about society that a teenager can listen to without wanting to bolt. I’m only sixteen and I know the weight of the world and my parents’ vast holdings will land on my shoulders one day, but today isn’t the day.
Today is the day I find out who that joyous laughter belongs to.
Those giggles, so full of happiness is something I’m starved of. It’s not that I’m an unhappy teenager, far from it. I want for nothing. I have everything given to me, laid out at my feet. I have but to snap my fingers and it will happen. But there is something about the quality of laughter of this child that tugs at my heart. It is so pure, and untainted, and it makes me feel warm from the tips of the toes, right to the very ends of my hair. My father would probably have a fit if he knew anything about the romantic notions filtering through my head at the moment, so I am doubly glad at his lessons on how to remain poker faced in times of adversity.
I can hide anything, but for some reason, I cannot hide my curiosity.
“Yunho? Is something wrong, darling?”
My mother catches me. I guess she’s not a mother for nothing. I can definitely hide the wince I feel at her empty endearment. She’s only tacked that on for the benefit of the Kims. The reasons they are here are manifold, and they’ve already been shot down for one of them.
They’d wanted to betroth me to one of the Kim children, but the Kim magnate and his lovely wife declined immediately. Apparently they want their children to marry for love.
What a strange notion.
But then again, this is a couple who have nine children compared to the sole one my parents have, so perhaps they know more about these things than my parents.
The laughter trickles from behind that door once again, and I am done with pretending indifference.
“May I be excused?” I ask the Kims, smiling as genuinely as I can. But an act turns into something real, as the tinkling giggles wash over me once again, and my smile widens.
“You want to meet baby Joongie?”
Joongie? Who is this Joongie?
Mrs Kim nods towards the door and I finally understand. My answering nod is nothing if not fervent, and I don’t even bother looking at my parents as they all murmur their permission.
I bow, remembering my manners of course. It is always good to be polite for a bad attitude is remembered by all, even if you have redeemed yourself. I’d rather not have the Kims remember me badly, for I’m sure my parents will unfortunately, do enough of their own damage in that regard. The Jungs are a name to be reckoned with, and I for one am not about to sully it.
This “baby Joongie” has powers akin to the Pied Piper of Hamlin. I wish I was exaggerating, but the pull of that laughter is like it has wrapped itself firmly around my heart, and then led me towards my doom. I’m really not one for being all maudlin and weird, but that sunlight in his giggles is captivating, and quickly becoming addictive. If I’m not careful, I may want to listen to it for the rest of my life.
I push the door open, not realising I’d been holding my breath till I let it out loudly, startling the baby in the paddle pool.
“Who are you?” The little tike demands immediately, staring up at me with the most beautiful doe eyes I have ever seen in my life. He is small, and cannot be more than three surely, but the confidence in his demand belies his age.
“I’m Yunho,” I start, entering the room, standing in the bright sunlight of what must be the sun room of the house. I’m a little surprised at how the child has been left alone with a paddle pool. Don’t they know accidents can happen? My thoughts are running dark, and I need to distract myself before I turn around and march back out, demanding they give the child to me so I can look after him better than they can.
A child looking after a child. I must be going crazy.
“What is your name?” There is a frog in my throat for some reason, as I ask my question. There is a tremor I don’t understand, as I stare at the beautiful child gazing curiously up at me. I cannot see anything apart from that dark head. I cannot even tell if it is a boy or girl, though judging from the Kim’s track record, the child is probably a girl.
In that moment, I wonder if it is possible for me to sway the Kims on their disinclination towards betrothing their children without “love”. I don’t really know what love means, but I definitely feel something.
I want to protect. That much I know. The Kims leaving this baby alone is still irking me very much. Nine children and they’ve practically forgotten the last one?
The toddler beams up at me, showing off a full set of white teeth.
“My name is Jaejoong, but everyone calls me baby Joongie. You can call me baby Joongie too. Can I call you, Yunnie?”
A boy. That is a boy’s name. My head is still spinning though, for the child had spoken so rapidly, that I reply without thinking about it.
“Of course you can.”
The smile I get is blinding in its intensity, and my feet move before my brain catches up, and I find myself crouching down next to him in his paddle pool. The baby is pale, so very pale. Almost white, with the most startling chocolate brown eyes I have ever seen. His hair is the deepest black, and his mouth is pink, and right now shaped in a perfect ‘O’ as he stares at me as if I’ve got horns growing out of my head.
Alright, perhaps not horns. Maybe wings. Angel wings, if his next words are anything to go by.
“You’re so beautiful,” he gasps, staring up at me with a strange light shining behind his eyes.
I feel like a new toy or something. It’s that gleam of potential ownership I see in the depths of the toddler’s eyes. Strange for someone so young to emote so well, or perhaps it’s just my fanciful imagination, for I wouldn’t mind being claimed. I try to work my mouth open to say something, but the beautiful baby boy beats me to it.
“My noona just got married and her husband is not as beautiful as you. Can I marry you?”
Can he read my mind?
“Aren’t you a little young?” I have to dissuade him because if I don’t then I’m going to have to dissuade me. I wonder if this counts as love? The toddler initiated it, not me! Oh lord, speaking of toddler… “How old are you?”
“I’m a big boy now!”
The little merboy finds his feet, sloshing water everywhere as he stumbles, giggling as he steadies himself before it even occurs to me to help, puffing his chest out, looking as proud as anything.
“I’m turning three.” He holds out three chubby little fingers proudly at me. “I’m not young. I can marry you if I want.”
He nods seriously as he squeezes a yellow rubber duck to his chest as if emphasizing his point, before he lets it go and grabs at my hand instead.
I look down at the hand, clasping tightly at my limp one, before I move to return his hold, albeit gently. Yet again I try to speak, but he beats me to me, clearly he isn’t quite done yet.
“My umma says I always get what I want even if she doesn’t want me to have it.”
Does that include sixteen year olds who have no idea which way is up thanks to a ridiculously chatty three year old who has got to be the most beautiful child in the world?
Wait, he’s not even three yet. Good lord.
“You sure talk a lot for a three year old.”
Wow, great observation skills, Jung Yunho.
“I know,” he replies blithely, as if he’s heard this many times before. “That’s what appa says. Will you marry me?” He blinks at me, his eyes serious.
They are disconcerting as hell.
“You’re like a dog with a bone.”
“Don’t be silly,” he chides, scowling so cutely at me, I almost start laughing then. A three year old is scolding me. My world has really turned upside down. “I can bark like a dog, but I’m not a dog. If you marry me, I’ll share my tree house with you.”
He’s bribing me. The three year old is bribing me. As if I needed to be bribed.
But then again, I’m supposed to be resisting!
“You have a tree house?”
He looks around quickly, before he leans forward, doing his version of whispering if I read his actions right. But really, he’s three so his whisper is about the same decibel level as his speaking voice. Maybe it’s a little more airy though, as I find his sweet milky breath washing across me.
“It’s my birthday surprise but I found it yesterday. It’s so big, and I think you can fit into it too.” He pauses to show exactly how big it is with his short little arms. I have to catch him around the waist though, as his movement knocks him off balance again, which makes him giggle. That giggle makes me want to give him the world. He drops his arms, clasping his hands on my forearms as he nods approvingly at me. “I’ll let you play in it if you marry me. Then we can have little babies like Chaerin.”
How did we go from marriage to babies already? How old is this kid? Three? Really? Really?
“Who is Chaerin?”
He giggles again, wiggling in my arms, and god do I suddenly want children. If all of the Kims’ children are like this, it’s no wonder they have nine! If I had a baby like this one, I wouldn’t stop at one either. I don’t know if I’d stop at five…
“My noona’s baby girl. She still little,” he shows me just how little with his arms once again, though I’d sure he’s definitely exaggerating this time. She’s about the size of a tennis ball according to him. “Can we have a baby girl?”
We? As in me and him? Alright, time to get out of this rabbit hole. He’s making me think of white picket fences and nurseries filled with giggling babies, not private equity and hedge funds. My parents would have a cow, and then some.
“I like baby girls.”
He doesn’t even let me complete my thought! Not that I had anything very enlightening to add. The vision of multiple babies running around that look like both of us is making my teenage brain rebel. How many teenagers think of settling down at sixteen?
“They’re so small and pretty,” he coos before beaming at me. “I want a baby girl that looks like you.”
“Why?” Am I really fucking glad I didn’t stammer. A three year old has completely robbed me of proper speech and taken a wee bit of my sanity along with his forthrightness. Calling this toddler precocious is an understatement. Perhaps I should rethink wanting children like him. A daughter like him would kill us both.
“Because you’re so beautiful.” He’s looking at me like I’m silly now. Of course I’m silly. What other reason would there be for a three year old to want to marry me? Truth be told, I’m warming up to the idea. Maybe a betrothal isn’t such a bad idea after all. If he’s already this disarming at three, who knows what an eighteen year old baby Joongie would be like? Men in our circles marry late anyway, and if this boy really is what he seems to imply, then I can definitely wait for him. I’d have to check with his parents of course… but I’m definitely not waiting longer than eighteen.
I’d be thirty-one. A perfectly respectable age.
“All my noonas husbands are nice, but I think you’re the nicest, and I want to have the nicest husband!”
My seriously insane thoughts are interrupted by his cheerful voice, and I find myself smiling so much at his determination. No one has ever really wanted me this much. Not even the annoying girls and the occasional boy at school.
“Please marry me?”
He’s turned on the charm now, alright. Pouting at me and batting his eyelashes. Who taught him all this? Manipulative little minx, this one is, that’s for sure. He is just a toddler who wants what he wants. Like me, he has probably never been denied anything in his life, and I am not about to be the first one to do it.
“I can’t let anyone have the nicest husband now, can I?” I really am crazy, because I am not entirely joking when I say this. “Ok, you can marry me.”
He wiggles again, a little more violently this time as he all but dances in the paddle pool, slipping and sliding and I have to hold him rather firmly under the arms to keep him from toppling into the water. His giggles are the most heart achingly beautiful yet in how joyful it is, and I hope to never ever forget them, for his laughter is the type that will keep you warm at night.
“Wait!” He shouts, startling me, and for a moment I actually feel a pang.
Am I really so bereft of friends and genuine human care that the exuberant affection of a three year old is touching me so deeply?
“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?”
He is staring at me so expectantly, that I am not going to disappoint him. I only have one ring on me, given to me by someone whom I know was one of the last, if not the last, people to genuinely give a damn about me. Not about my aptitude for business, or my grades or my potential or anything like that.
My late grandmother’s ring.
“Oh goodie!” The toddler, understandably, does not pick up on the seriousness of my tone. He is just too happy at the whole thing. “Ok, now I have to find a ring for you.” He looks around, a tiny furrow in his brow, before he struggles to get out of my grasp. I let him go, but my hands hover just in case he slips again, and I watch bemusedly as he drapes himself over the rubber tubing of his pool, dangling as he leans over to grab something.
It is only just then that I notice he is butt naked. How this escaped me is beyond me, but I don’t have time to wonder about it as he straightens quickly with something in his hand, smiling so widely it is even brighter than the sunlight filling the room.
“Will this do?”
What a perfect exchange for a family heirloom…
“That’s a half-eaten ring pop. Are you sure you don’t want to finish it first?” I haven’t seen that sticky confectionery in years and didn’t know they still made them. Knowing the Kims, they probably imported it from Japan. Only the best for their baby Joongie and now I’m about to be bestowed this treat as my wedding ring.
He wrinkles his nose, and I cannot help my smile. He is genuinely adorable. So round and exceedingly cute.
“If I finish it then there won’t be a ring.” Such a rational three year old. I guess I’ve always been drawn to intelligence.
He holds out his chubby hand towards me, the one free from the ring he is gripping with his other hand. He wiggles his fat fingers at me and proclaims rather seriously. “Ok now you have to put your ring on my finger, and I’ll put my ring on yours.”
I do as instructed, feeling as if something momentous is happening, as I slip the heavy platinum band over his finger. Really, I slip it over three fingers and he still has to grip it in his hand.
The feeling is incredibly weird. I know how uncharacteristic I’m behaving with this precocious three year old, but for the life of me, I cannot even begin to explain how I feel compelled to do what I do. Some things are just meant to happen, and fanciful as it is, it feels like this is meant to happen.
He slips his sticky treat on my little finger, for it is the only one that will fit it, and not for want of trying. All the huffing and puffing by the three year old isn’t going to make my finger slimmer.
Baby Joongie smiles at me, practically vibrating from happiness as he stares back and forth between me and the ring I gave him.
“Don’t lost this ring, baby Joongie.” I reach out to close his little fist over it, my heart thumping madly in my chest.
Nothing about today makes sense, but if you asked me to take that ring back, I would never in a million years, dream of it. Not even under pain of death. That is how strongly I feel about it in that moment.
He nods, shining doe eyes staring at me as I’m the most wonderful person he has ever seen. His stare makes me feel powerful. I feel like I can beat anything or anyone.
“Don’t worry, Yunnie. I won’t.”
The door suddenly bursts open, startling the toddler, and he loses his balance yet again. I grab hold of him, and start blathering on about something I know will distract him. I don’t need him to tell our parents just yet about what happened. I don’t want them to know till I have the time to speak to the Kims later. My parents won’t be an issue since they wanted the union with the Kims in the first place.
“How big is your tree house?” I ask, speaking as if that’s what we’ve been discussing this whole time.
“Big, big, big!” He replies instantly, waving his little arms yet again, though I notice with a smile that he has his hand tightly fisted. “Noonas husbands built it but I’m not supposed to know.” His voice drops as he crouches, looking surreptitiously at something or someone behind me. I turn and see all four parents staring down at us with smiles on their faces. The Kims look genuine, my parents, not so much. In fact, my mother looks like she’s grimacing rather than smiling, but I guess she’s trying. I want to get my toddler away from them.
“It’s ok. I think everyone knows that you know, now.”
“Do you want to see it?” He asks, voice still a little hushed. He looks like he’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar as he steals looks over my shoulder. I shift to try and hide him from view.
I stand quickly, lifting him into my arms, not caring at all that he is wet and very naked.
Perhaps I should have cared.
It happens so suddenly, pretty much the second I had him against me.
A warmth beyond that of a wet baby starts to spread down the front of my shirt.
It is my mother who alerts me to what happened, rather than me realising it myself, her piercing shriek, and then utterly disgusted words, berating the little toddler had me turning around immediately.
I can see the stunned look on his face, and if he cries, I will probably shame my own parents, and so I leave, carrying my precious bundle, uncaring about the fact that he just peed on me.
“Did I do something bad?” He whispers, and my heart aches because for the first time since I met him, I can hear uncertainty in his voice, and his voice is an actual whisper. Not even a stage whisper, but a true whisper. He wraps his arms around my neck and nuzzles against my jaw. “I’m sorry if I was bad…”
I honestly don’t think he realised he peed on me. I’d taken him out of his pool so quickly, he probably didn’t have time to think about it.
“It’s ok, baby.” I give in to the urge, and kiss his damp cheek. He looks like a little chipmunk.
“Do you still want me even if I’m bad?”
“You’re not bad, love.” I swear if it wouldn’t shame my parents in someone else’s house, I’d give my mother a piece of my mind! How can she be so cruel? He’s not even three.
“So you’re mine, right?” He straightens to look at me. I can see the slight shine of tears in his eyes, and I will be damned if they fall.
“Yes, I’m yours.”
“I have the most beautiful husband in the world?”
Well, I don’t know about that…but I’m not about to disappoint him.
AN: Oh Jaejoong… It’s supposed to be fluffy but IDK why I’m crying… OTL