Pairing: Ultimate!YehWook ; Yehsung/others; Ryeowook/others
A/N: Possibly the longest chapter (part?) of a fic that I have ever, ever, written.
A/N 2: Dedicated to the wonderful thundersquall because I love her and her fics and I promised her YehWook even though she writes it better than I do.
The first time that Yehsung saw Ryeowook, Ryeowook was the best friend of a guy that Yehsung was seeing (euphemism for sleeping with) and wore these black, horn-rimmed glasses that took over a good one third of his small face. Yesung wouldn't have said, at the time, that the younger man was attractive—cute, perhaps, in the way that puppies are cute, but definitely not attractive.
Yehsung found out that Ryeowook, though definitely not attractive, was definitely the most difficult person to converse with on account of his paranoid and uptight manner. Ryeowook, meanwhile, found out that Yehsung, though easily one of the most popular guys in the university, was the most uncomfortable and, well, outright creepy person whom he had ever met.
They were to spend the next two days together driving twenty hours to Seoul. Yesung for his blossoming singing career (with a double major in business “just in case”) and Ryeowook for—well, he couldn't quite remember what Ryeowook was moving there for. Yoochun had said something about composition—or was it journalism? Maybe it was both. He gave his boyfriend one last Very Involved kiss before slipping into the passenger seat next to a grimacing Ryeowook.
“Jealous?” Yesung said after five minutes of driving in silence.
Ryeowook turned his face towards him, wearing one of those “are-you-really-talking-to-me?” expressions before answering, “Of what?”
He smirked. A smirk, Ryeowook noticed, that looked very unnatural on this Yehsung person; it was as if he were trying too hard to look like something that he never was in the first place (cool) and actually believed that he was that something (he clearly wasn’t). He was better off smiling or frowning—some kind of simple facial expression that didn’t make him look like a complete douche bag. Yoochun may have bought the whole earing-clad, punk-rock hairstyle image, but Ryeowook just knew that he was the type to end up being a klutz that tripped over himself whenever he became nervous; he was the type to make a dirty joke that no one would get (or want to get, for that matter)—totally not Ryeowook’s type At All.
Ryeowook scowled. “Oh, you don't really think that, do you? That I'm jealous of Yoochun?”
“Well, why wouldn't you be? You're single, right? And Yoochun has a hot boyfriend—it's only logical that you'd be jealous.”
The younger boy rolled his eyes. “And what makes you say that? I could very perfectly be happy and single.”
Yesung shook his head. “Not true. See, you say that you could be, but that's bullshit; you and I both know that you'd rather be pressed into a mattress while having really great sex.”
Ryeowook suddenly found himself picturing exactly what Yehsung had just described. Well, he thought, who wouldn’t want that? It had nothing with his wish to remain single, though; Ryeowook could easily have great sex without a hot boyfriend like Yehsung. Wait, what?
He blushed and refused to speak to Yesung for the rest of the trip. Out of all the other guys that he could have taken this trip with, it just so happened that lottery condemned him to twenty hours with the weirdest person whom he had ever met. Ever.
Yesung started singing loudly—and obnoxiously—to some ballad on the radio. It was as if someone up there decided to play this horrible joke on Ryeowook’s life and condemn him to twenty whole hours in the company of this socially inept character next to him. This was the very moment that he realized that all those things that people said about life not being fair were completely and rationally true.
They arrived at a diner after approximately five hours of driving in silence. It was Yesung's turn to take the wheel.
“Listen, I don't know about you, but I'm actually kind of really starving—mind if we go in and get, like, food?” he asked Ryeowook before getting into the driver's seat.
Ryeowook didn't even look at him.
“C'mon—it's been five hours. I've been singing for four of them and haven't eaten since we left this morning. Please?” He looked at Ryeowoook, who turned to look back at him with a blank expression on his face, with pleading eyes. “I'll buy.”
The younger man sighed in resolution. “Fine,” he said. “But I'm picking out the most expensive thing on the menu.” The decision was made and the two stepped into the diner and soon were ushered to a booth by a middle-aged woman with sagging breasts who winked at Yehsung as she gave them their menus.
“It's a diner,” Yehsung laughed. “I won't go broke.”
Ryeowook ordered an appetizer, a hamburger and key lime pie (with lemon sorbet on the side)—all with a strawberry milkshake to wash it all down. Every sauce, dip and seasoning had to be “on the side,” because otherwise Ryeowook could not have it.
“How do you fit all that in your stomach?” he asked, astonished as Ryeowook scooped up the last of the pie onto his spoon. “It's like you're some kind of vacuum.”
Ryeowook chewed and swallowed. “I used to be obese,” he replied flatly. “The kids at school used to give me nicknames like 'whale kid' and 'Ryeowook O'Donnell.'”
Yehsung looked at him as if he had just given the most ridiculous response that he had ever heard because, well, it was just plain weird (a thought in Yehsung’s head that, regarded objectively, could be considered hypocrisy). Ryeowook may be many things like anal retentive, prude and perhaps even slightly sadistic now that he thought about it, looking at the three empty plates next to Ryeowook. He ate a lot, sure, but Ryeowook was the skinniest university graduate that Yehsung had ever seen; he had sharp features and a bone structure designed for the camera lens. And though Yehsung wasn't an expert on photography (though he had dabbled in it for a while in high school), he just knew that the camera would love that innocent, child-like visage in front of him.
“You don't believe me,” Ryeowook stated, breaking Yehsung's train of thought.
He chuckled. “Well, no.”
“Why not? You don't think that I can be fat?”
Yehsung shrugged. “Not really; you're a pretty attractive guy...” Wait, what was he saying? “In, you know, a cute kind of way—you probably have lots of guys wanting to have sex with you.” Yehsung tried to picture what having sex with Ryeowook was at that moment, he studied the way his collar bones jutted out slightly, prominent and defined like the rest of his sharp features, and wondered what it would be like to press his lips to them. Ryeowook was, in spite of his pure image, fuckable and although Yehsung didn’t want to be the one to make that too obvious to him, he also didn’t want to be the one to not take advantage of it. That, he decided, would be a crime against man.
The smaller boy's eyes widened. “What? You can't say that to me,” he hissed, looking around to make sure that no one had heard them.
“Why not? I'm just stating facts—you probably have lots of guys wanting to have sex with you, but they don't because you get all high maintenance about it.” He could see color rising on Ryeowook's cheeks and wanted to lean over and kiss him for it.
Ryeowook stood up, indignant. “Yehsung-sshi, you're going out with my best friend! You will not speak to me that way.”
“Look, I don’t see what’s wrong with my saying that I want to have sex with you—it’s only natural. I mean, we’ve been in the same car together for all these hours and—say, why don’t we get a motel room? I’m sure that I could convince you to”—
And just like that, half a glass of strawberry milkshake came to cover a large portion of his face, some of it splattering onto Ryeowook’s glasses but most of it dripping onto the other man’s shoulders.
Ryeowook stalked off and left the diner, leaving Yehsung to awkward stares, a stack of napkins and the bill. He left enough money to cover both their meals and a tip on the table and stood up, stumbling over his chair before running after Ryeowook. Milkshake still dripping.
“Wait! Ryeowook-sshi!” he called, reaching over to grab him by the elbow, taking some of the napkins out of his back pocket and wiping his face. “What's wrong with my saying that?”
“You're going out with Yoochun! You can't tell another guy those things!” Ryeowook freed himself from the grasp and slipped into the passenger's seat in a huff.
Yesung rolled his eyes before getting into the driver’s side and continued his argument. “And why's that?” he asked, turning on the engine. “I can't think that other guys are attractive just because I'm going out with Yoochun?”
The slightly younger boy frowned, looking down at his knees while he spoke. “It's not that—it's that it's wrong to say that to me when Yoochun is my best friend.”
“Fine,” Yehsung stressed. “Fine. I take it back. Happy now?”
“I guess,” Ryeowook sighed. “Sorry about the milkshake,” he said finally. “Look, let's just be friends, okay?”
Yehsung chuckled. “There's no way you and I could ever be friends,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“Because of the sex part,” he answered. “We can't be friends because one of us will always want to have sex with the other.”
“Well, I don't want to have sex with you.”
“You might not,” the other replied, ‘but I already admitted that I did so it just wouldn’t work out.” He signaled right and looked at the grimace on Ryeowook’s face before turning onto the highway. “Plus,” he then added cheekily, “you do. You just don't admit it. That’s why we could never be friends—we’d end up having sex no matter what.”
“That's too bad, then. I don't know anyone else in Seoul.”
“Yep. Too bad.”
“Are we lost?”
He knew it.
Four years after the awkward and very unfavorable road trip and Ryeowook had not seen Yehsung since the morning after they arrived in Seoul. He was older now, and less paranoid over the whole intimacy thing. Back then, one could have said that Ryeowook had been afraid of romance, scarred by years of failed attempts at relationships during his youth. But that was all in the past now; he was twenty-three now, had a full-time job at a music magazine and was dating Kibum, the son of the owner of some record company who was an amazing kisser and thought, like Ryeowook, that marriage was overrated. They could be serious without being serious.
He doesn't know how long this will last but “a while” seems like the appropriate guess now. Kibum is a gentleman; he's smart, funny, handsome and well-tempered—everything that Ryeowook had always wanted in a guy. They’re at that stage in their relationship—the good stage where everything just falls right into place and they’re still too shy to go to the bathroom at each other’s houses and don’t have sex every night but that’s okay because, when they do, it’s actually fantastic. Kibum still picks him up for lunch dates at work and takes him to the airport, like today, when he has business trips. Ryeowook, meanwhile, cooks for him on the weekends and keeps him company at functions. They were in a relationship young enough for it not to be codependent but functional enough for them to start being comfortable with one another’s constant presence.
He’s giving Kibum sweet goodbye kisses in front of the gate at the air port when the latter suddenly stops and looks at something behind Ryeowook and waves.
“Kibum! Is that you?” a voice calls, footsteps nearing before a dark-haired man stands before them, smiling brightly at Kibum and asking him how he has been.
“Oh, you know. The same,” Kibum answers. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages—how’s the management thing going?” Ryeowook studies the intruder closer, wondering what looked so familiar about him and why he just couldn’t place where he had seen him before.
Whatever the two Old Friends discussed, Ryeowook wouldn’t have been able to process because he now stared unashamedly at the man whom he had scorned so passionately half a decade ago. He suddenly felt like melting into a puddle of embarrassment into the ground and staying there until he was called to board. Of course, that was neither physically possible or socially acceptable, so he opted for hiding behind Kibum for the time. He hoped to God, or whoever was in charge of all the fate-related hullabaloo, that Yehsung couldn’t remember who he was.
“And this is Kim Ryeowook, we’ve been seeing each other for a few months now. Ryeowook-ah, this is Yehsung—he used to work for my dad a few years ago and we even lived in the same apartment building for a while.” Kibum slipped his hand onto Ryeowook’s back and presented him in front of Yehsung, who simply smiled and nodded politely at him before shaking his hand.
He didn’t remember.
“Well, it was nice seeing you again, Kibum,” Yehsung said. “Gotta go see about some seating arrangements, but I’ll give you a call when I’m back in Seoul, all right?”
Kibum nodded, waving at him as he retreated. “We’ll go for a meal,” he called back and turned to Ryeowook again, kissing him softly on the lips. “An old friend. Good guy.”
Ryeowook scrunched up his nose. “That Yehsung guy? I went to university with him—he tried hitting on me while on a twenty hour road trip to Seoul.”
“And what did you do?”
“Rejected him, of course!”
“Well, I’m sure he’s changed—it was university, after all.”
Ryeowook shrugged slightly before tilting his head up to kiss him. “I’m just glad that he couldn’t remember me.”
The only thing is, that whole thing about life being unfair had to always be reiterated. Always. Even if Ryeowook was in what seemed like the perfect relationship with Kibum, and even if everything in his life had just fallen into place, something would always have to disturb it.
Yesung couldn’t possibly be sitting there.
“Thirty-four B?” Yehsung asked.
Ryeowook nodded and sat down, trying to focus on the newspaper that he brought with him so that he could avoid conversation with the other man for the next two and a half hours. Yehsung hadn’t changed much, he noticed. He still wore those stupid earrings and though his hair was now shorter and less ostentatious, it was still the same color as when they had met for the first time. Twenty-five looked good on him, Ryeowook decided, but the memories of Yehsung’s twenty one still made him scowl with annoyance. Five years wasn’t enough time for personality to change. So he was glad that Yehsung hadn’t remembered. He was. No. Really.
“Kim Ryeowook. Composition and journalism double major. KRY University class of 2005?”
He turned to him and smiled the way that he always smiled whenever he ran into an old classmate or one of his mother’s friends and said, “Yehsung-sshi, how have you been?” with a bit too much enthusiasm.
“Great, actually,” the other replied, also with a bit too much enthusiasm. “So, how long have you been dating Kim Kibum? I thought you were happy being single last time we, er, mingled.” Suave and verbally gifted as ever.
Ryeowook chuckled softly, hoping to forget his nerves. They were in their mid-twenties, for Christ’s sake! He should be able to have a perfectly civil and bloodless conversation with the man who had infuriated him from first sight when they first met. They weren’t just freshly out of college graduates anymore. They were men, functioning adults with jobs and mature relationships and there was nothing wrong with casual conversation upon a serendipitous meeting.
“Three months,” he finally said.
“Three? Oh, I get it now. You’re at that stage, aren’t you? No wonder he was there with you this morning.”
“What do you mean?” he asked curiously.
“You know, the stage where everything is ‘lovely’ and you’re still not okay with farting in front of him but think that you’d be totally fine if he did so in front of you—that stage,” Yehsung explained. “If you ask me, I think we’re better off not having that stage—skip to the I-don’t-give-a-damn-where-you-are part, where sex isn’t as plentiful but the whole ordeal gives you a good look at life five years from now.”
Ryeowook lifted his nose to the air, rolling his eyes at the typical behavior and said, “Well, I think you’re wrong. And I’m not taking relationship advice from someone who once insinuated that I was jealous of my best friend out of superficial motives.”
“I bet you don’t even remember his name.”
“Your best friend’s. I bet you haven’t kept in touch since that day.” Yehsung looked too pleased with himself.
“Well,” Ryeowook began, struggling a bit but attempting to cover it with fake confidence nonetheless, “as a matter of fact, I do. It’s, erm… Yoo… Yoongun!”
“Yes. That’s what I said.” Ryeowook shifted his gaze back at the newspaper in his hands. “My good friend Yoongun—I mean, Yoochun. Anyway, I still doubt that you know anything remotely useful about relationships.”
Yehsung smiled boastfully, leaning closer to make sure that Ryeowook would hear his next words. “Well, actually, I’m getting married.”
Ryeowook couldn’t help the burst of laughter that he erupted into at this confession. It was as if all the rules of society had suddenly been bent and corrupted enough so that someone like this was about to get married before someone like Ryeowook. He wasn’t jealous at all—skeptical, yes, but not jealous. It was simply that impossible to believe that Yehsung—Yehsung—was going to be someone’s husband in the near future. Impossible.
“No, really, I am!” Yehsung lightheartedly defended his claim. “You don’t believe me but I’ve really been tied down to that.”
“Okay, okay,” Ryeowook sighed, composing himself. “That’s great,” and it was. “I’m really happy for you,” and he was. Then, “So, what is he—or she—like?”
“Well, first of all, it’s a he,” Yehsung began. “Just because I’ve changed, it doesn’t mean that I’ve, you know, changed. But, yes, it’s a he. His name is Sungmin and I met him at a café about six months ago and ever since it’s just been so… comfortable. We’ve done everything together already so I felt like it was the right time.” His answer was earnest and lacked all the cynicism and neuroticism that had made Ryeowook dislike him so much four years ago; this was a completely new Yehsung and, although he still held on to those awkward mannerisms, Ryeowook found himself feeling rather apologetic for judging his character before getting to know him again.