Warnings: Some swearing, failed attempts at humor.
Summary: Changmin's a damn good cook -- he might even be better than Jaejoong. (Saying that to his face, however, may not be the smartest idea.)
Author's note: JaeMin is very new and unfamiliar territory for me, non-AU fics more so; I hope I did your prompt justice! ♥
“Oh my god.” Changmin drops his chopsticks on the table, eyes wide as he speculates the lavish dinner before him. A dinner that he’d put time and effort into preparing. The fried fish simmers on his tongue, sampling the heady spice of its flavor for several long moments before he lets out a moan. “I am a damn good cook,” Changmin says, and he takes another bite.
Across from him sits Yunho, chopsticks in his mouth as he gives his friend an arch look. “Changmin,” Yunho pauses, licking his upper lip, “you do realize you’ve been cooking just fine for the past year, right?”
“But that was then, and this is now,” Changmin says, grinning. He’s done something truly wonderful, absolutely amazing, and he needs to share this with the world. “Now I’m better than just fine, I’m brilliant! I bet I’m even better than Jaejoong-hyung.” At that last statement, Changmin is damn near vibrating in his chair. He can’t help himself, he realizes. The child in him has always yearned to please others, eager for approval and the satisfaction it brings.
“Um.” Yunho doesn’t know what to say, instead shovelling more food into his mouth. This is a side of Changmin he is used to, but at the same time, it also crosses over into a new territory he is wholly unfamiliar with. Changmin’s childish antics, that he can understand, but this competitiveness he senses looming just under the surface has left him a little more than confused.
“Oh, Yunho,” Changmin sighs, chewing his dinner thoughtfully. The other man just doesn’t understand, and he thinks he’ll have to make the time to call his favorite hyung that does understand.
The rest of the dinner passes by with Changmin’s occasional commentary laden with pride, and Yunho just hums in agreement because he figures it will let him survive the night relatively unscathed.
Somehow, he doesn’t.
It’s almost a week later when Changmin can find enough down time in his schedule to call his favorite hyung and brag about his finely honed skill. “I am a fucking amazing cook,” he says as soon as Jaejoong answers the phone.
“Well, this is a pleasant surprise,” Jaejoong replies, and Changmin can imagine the way his eyebrow has arched. “Are you sure it’s not because you’ve been without my cooking for so long that you’ve forgotten what real food tastes like?”
“No.” Changmin scowls, and suddenly he doesn’t miss Jaejoong and his irritatingly narcissistic quirks anymore.
“Ah,” Jaejoong hums with that whimsical tone of his, the one that pisses Changmin off and makes him yearn for something more out of his enigmatic hyung. “I’ll have to sneak over one day and test your cooking for myself.”
“I think I might be better than you,” Changmin blurts, and there he is again like a 5 year old child seeking attention in the only way he knows how to get it.
“Are you challenging me?” Jaejoong’s amusement bubbles up in his throat, palpable even through the phone. Changmin can hear the other man’s thoughts now: Jaejoong must be cursing him, thinking that Changmin didn’t have 8 noonas his mother forced him to help in the kitchen, nor did he spend a large part of his adolescence working odd jobs in restaurant kitchens after he ran away from home.
Jaejoong’s cooking skills happened to be one of the three biggest triggers for his ungodly narcissism, the other two being his body and his voice. To challenge him was a personal affront, and he was not one to forgive so easily.
“Oh, Changmin-ah,” Jaejoong continues, taking Changmin’s silence as his affirmation. “You have just unleashed the beast.”
Jaejoong hangs up on him, and for the first time since he was young, Changmin kind of regrets pushing people’s buttons to manipulate them to his whims.
Sneaking out of the dorms is never an easy feat, especially when you’re in the middle of album promotions and there’s a tight schedule that must be followed. Yet when Yunho and Changmin get a full day off to themselves, Changmin resolves to a bizarre escape plan that Yunho doubts is valid in any way.
At 4:45 in the morning, Changmin has somehow managed to worm his way around the staff of SM Entertainment’s building, dragging Yunho behind him. They’re exhausted and Changmin has been awake damn near all night, but his palpable excitement is the one thing that keeps them both going. A friend (or six) helps them switch cars a few times to get any sasaeng fans off their backs, and before they know it, it’s 5:30 and Jaejoong’s condo is a little too much like the home they’ve never had.
It’s the best sleep they’ve had in weeks.
At least, it is until they’re woken up by obnoxious clattering as Jaejoong slams cupboards in the kitchen, bangs pots and pans, and sings in an obnoxious falsetto that has a migraine pounding at Changmin’s skull.
“Look at little Min Min, sleeping so soundly,” Jaejoong trills, and then suddenly he’s screaming in Changmin’s ear, “WAKE UP, MINNIE, WHAT IF THERE’S A MONSTER?”
“Fuck!” Changmin lashes out, but misses horribly and he somehow ends up on the floor with a sore tailbone. There’s cackling in the background as he struggles to come to his senses, sitting up to fix a heated glare on the eldest. He hears an all too familiar raucous fit of eu kyang kyang that has him calming down. It’s been too long since he’s seen the other three that his happiness overwhelms his instant displeasure.
Their dynamic is weird, the five of them. Changmin has always been closest to Junsu, perhaps at first because of their closeness in age, but somehow it’s become more than that. Junsu is lively like a burst of sunlight in the midst of a torrid squall, all smiles and sickly contagious happiness. Jaejoong and Yunho’s friendship is similar, perhaps due to Jaejoong’s innumerable idiosyncrasies and Yunho’s irritating perfection. The only thing he can’t put a name to is his eternal fascination with Jaejoong, the one he’s had since the first time he saw him. That same fascination that brings out the child in him over and over again that resulted in their “SoulFighter” epithet.
“Sneaking out?” Yoochun asks, dropping down on the couch beside Changmin. He blinks and rubs the sleep from his eyes, nodding.
“Ah, to remember those days,” Yoochun hums, almost wistfully, but Changmin knows better. The three of them are much happier where they are now and that’s all that matters.
Yunho and Junsu are in the midst of an animated discussion when Jaejoong glides from the kitchen with a tray of a very delectable looking breakfast in hand. He sets it on the dining table in front of both sofas that the two had spent their morning on, encouraging them to eat up before slipping off for a couple of glasses of orange juice.
Looking down at his meal, Changmin realizes that Jaejoong is trying to show off. It’s a very rich combination rice, soups, meat, and a wide array of side dishes that has his mouth watering. He feels his own confidence in his cooking skills waver just the slightest, but he knows that just happens to be Jaejoong’s intentions. He decides it’s a challenge and resolves himself to prepare for the upcoming battle.
Jaejoong still likes his food spicy, even when he’s almost 28 years old. Changmin wonders when the acid reflux will get to him.
“Maknae,” Jaejoong calls, sitting opposite of him by Yunho. “How is your first taste of real food in years?”
“It’s okay,” Changmin says, words intentional as he works on a bowl of cold cucumber soup.
Jaejoong lets out a throaty sound that rumbles in his chest, turning his sharp gaze away from Changmin. “Ah, I tried to be nice Changmin-ah, but I cannot anymore. Your arrogance is much too profound … “
“What are you proposing?” Changmin asks as he eats the perfectly seasoned galbi. He knows he is fighting a losing battle, but it’s always fun to see his hyung come undone.
“Tonight you and I will make dinner and the other three will taste test it,” Jaejoong announces, giving Junsu a look just as he begins to protest. To him, it’s a serious matter.
“Perfect.” Changmin agrees.
In the background Yunho mutters about a fun day ruined.
Changmin’s only regret is that they got to bed so late in the morning and woke up even later. Before he knows it, it’s dinner time and he’s being forced into the kitchen by a far too excited Yoochun. It’s a contest they’re having, Changmin and Jaejoong, and it’s the most exciting thing the 5 of them have done in weeks.
“Now,” Yoochun begins, clearing his throat. He’s obviously made himself the mediator. “Junsu and Yunho are out in the living room, awaiting your delicious creations-” a snicker, “-while I shall be in here to make sure no one plays dirty. Changmin-ah, welcome to Jaejoong’s Kitchen, where there is a vast array of anything and everything so help yourself and may Gwan-eun help you both.”
Changmin rolls his eyes at Yoochun’s otherworldly antics, but a part of him is just happy to bear witness to it. He has missed Yoochun, missed this far too much to pass it up even when he knows he’s going to lose.
Changmin takes a full survey of Jaejoong’s kitchen before he meticulously selects several things to combine for what he hopes will be a formidable cuisine. Even if he knows his loss is guaranteed, he wants to be able to at least hold a candle to Jaejoong’s skill.
And, of course, true to Jaejoong’s signature, he is making something spicy if the chili powder is any indication.
He tries to pay attention to his own cooking, but when you’re working in a typical kitchen with one stove, it’s kind of hard to share with someone you’re supposed to be competing against. They bump heads several times, and Changmin even throws salt just because he can – and because the look on Jaejoong’s face is priceless.
In response, Jaejoong threatens to shove habanero down Changmin’s throat. Making a face, the youngest of the two declines the offer with a sardonic politeness as he focuses on his own meal. Jaejoong is artfully arranging his on plates, trying to imitate 5 star restaurant chefs and Changmin knows it’s just to add insult to injury. He doesn’t know a single thing about artful presentation, and knowing Yoochun’s alliance with Jaejoong is much stronger than his own, he suspects points will be awarded and/or deducted accordingly.
Changmin has more fun than he thought he would, and finds the time he spends wrestling with Jaejoong over the back burner on the stove to be particularly entertaining. He wins, but not without having lost, but he doesn’t care anymore because he’s smiling and laughing like he hasn’t been in months.
“Jesus, do you think you’ve added enough chili powder?” Changmin asks, eyes wide as he watches Jaejoong dump almost the entire container into his simmering pot.
“Hm.” Jaejoong hums noncommittally before sampling his word, nodding his head. “Now it’s perfect.”
“How is your mouth not on fire?” Changmin’s eyes are wide, incredulous.
“Wimp,” Jaejoong says, but not without affection.
“You must be trying to kill someone,” Changmin mutters, turning back to his tray as he sets up his food. He has little left to do before cleaning up, and he tries to at least make it look decent. Unlike Jaejoong, he is not the biggest fan of piping hot food overloaded with spices. Sometimes he doesn’t understand the man’s obsession with it. Adding some spice to food could prove to be beneficial, bring out flavors and give it a nice hot kick at the same time. However, adding too much tended to be overwhelming and could destroy everything.
“On the contrary,” Jaejoong murmurs, voice low and deep and it does something weird to Changmin’s gut.
“Oh.” He tries to suppress the weird feeling bubbling up at him, but instead it boils over until his skin is a little too warm. It isn’t the heat of the kitchen.
“A word of advice,” Jaejoong says, sidling up a little too close. Their arms touch. “When you take someone out on a date, order something nice and hot and spicy just for yourself. Revel in the burn, the...tingle. Then kiss your date.” Jaejoong gets a little too close, the heat of his breath a light zephyr on Changmin’s cheeks. “Hold them close and kiss them because they’ll feel it too, and you never know – you might get to create a little bit of heat of your own.”
Changmin is stupefied. He and Jaejoong are so close that only a hair’s breadth keeps them separate, but it doesn’t stop him from feeling the hard muscle hidden under a thin layer of his t-shirt. Jaejoong’s lips curl up into that nefarious half smirk, half smile that makes Changmin’s stomach twist and turn and flip and flop. He inhales, a little too sharp, breath stuttering as Jaejoong’s face gets an inch closer, and then another inch...
“Well!” Yoochun slams his fist down on the counter, startling both of them. “You boys look done, so I’m going to go make sure Yunho and Junsu are ready. Be prepared for your...presentation.” At the end, the enigmatic mediator gives them a wink as he disappears.
Much to his chagrin, Jaejoong appears wholly unfaced if not for that same twisted smile on his face. Changmin’s cheeks are burning and he thinks his embarrassment is obvious, but a part of him just doesn’t give a damn. Maybe he – oh god – really fucking wants Jaejoong to kiss him.
Okay, it’s not a maybe. Changmin really does want Jaejoong to kiss him. He entertains the thought of being shoved against the counter with their mouths locked tight together, breathing in that heady spice and warmth and temptation Jaejoong so naturally exudes. He thinks back to the time when it was still just the five of them, the first time Jaejoong had kissed him, even if only as a joke to wake him...
Before the end of the night, Changmin will get his kiss. He will, damn it.
Changmin’s dish is the first to be tasted. Jaejoong wanted the privilege since it is his home, but Changmin argues that with all the chili powder he put in his Indian-inspired curry, Yunho and Junsu won’t be able to taste his and it’s just not fair.
Yunho’s reaction is the most predictable, of course. He takes large bites, barely chews them, and compliments Changmin on a job well done. He’s not much of a critic but his opinion is still important.
Junsu attempts to offer a decent critique, comments that he likes the lemon juice garnish and the kale is a good decision, but doesn’t say much else.
Yoochun, on the other hand, goes a bit overboard. He is obviously pretending that he’s on a professional cooking show as he looks over to where cameras would be, exaggeratedly hums and ahs as he takes a couple of bites from Changmin’s dish. Resisting the urge to smack the man, Changmin lets him have his fun.
When Yoochun starts talking and Changmin just wants to choke him.
He says things like, “This kale is cooked to perfection!” and “Your chicken katsu has a very precise thickness and length. Did you use skim milk for it? Tastes superb!” Junsu and Yunho are cracking up.
Then, it’s Jaejoong’s turn and he already has everyone ooh-ing and ahh-ing over his presentation. “It’s like art!” Yoochun exclaims, and follows with more ridiculous commentary.
Changmin sits down and finishes the rest of what he’s cooked as he listens to Junsu and Yunho offer their opinion on the curry Jaejoong made. He can tell their mouths are burning after the first bite, but they press on and try to say nice things. Changmin deduces that Jaejoong must be glaring at them to say nice things since they are, after all, in his house.
“Whatever.” Changmin mutters under his breath as he finishes the last of his chicken katsu. He might be a little bitter because of that not-kiss.
The five of them finish dinner together, Jaejoong being patient enough for everyone to get their fill before it gets down to the nitty gritty. He’s even generous enough to take all of the dishes into the kitchen and wash them, and Changmin joins him out of obligation since he had been cooking, too; the mess was half his.
“So,” Changmin starts, rinsing and drying a side dish bowl.
“Ready to admit defeat?” Jaejoong taunts, sending him that stupid little smirk-smile of his. A low heat settles in Changmin’s belly, and he thinks no time is better than now.
“Absolutely not,” he replies smartly, giving Jaejoong his own look meant to pull at his strings. “I think you killed everyone’s tastebuds.”
“All for a good cause,” Jaejoong interjects. He turns to Changmin, opens his mouth as if to say something more, but decides against it.
This time, Jaejoong does face him. There’s a dark look in his eyes that Changmin is unfamiliar with, but it just makes those butterflies flutter in his stomach because it is a look very becoming of his hyung.
“Wh – ”
Changmin’s instinct makes him close his eyes, basking in the warmth of Jaejoong’s mouth so suddenly pressed against his own. He is shocked, but he works around that shock instead. He can taste the curry spice in the tip of his tongue as he licks the inner seam of his too tingly lips, and all he can think is that Jaejoong was very right about this.
It’s weird, he’ll admit, but not unpleasant in the least. He still feels that low tug that has him thinking less than innocent thoughts, but he’ll keep those locked down tight for now. The first time Jaejoong kissed Changmin it was sweeter, but he’s not complaining against this new burst of flavor and sensation in the least.
Light-headed, it takes Changmin a little too long for him to realize Jaejoong is no longer kissing him. He flushes, from embarrassment and delight, and relaxes his grip on the plate he was clenching too tight.
“So?” Jaejoong tilts his head coquettishly.
“Spicy kisses are good,” Changmin says, dazed. Jaejoong’s mouth quirks upward, and he brushes dark hair from his eyes. His haughty demeanor speaks, “Told you so!” and Changmin lets him have his pride.
Hell, he’ll even concede victory if it means he’ll get to have a proper date with that kiss.