Chapters: 23/25 + epilogue
Fandoms: SS501, Super Junior, TVXQ, FT Island (cameo only)
Pairings: KyuJong/JungMin, YeSung/RyeoWook, HyunJoong/YoungSaeng, onesided!YunHo/YoungSaeng, past!YunHo/HeeBon
Rating: R overall
Warnings: Substance abuse, homophobia, character death, harsh subject matter
Summary: Happiness isn't easy to find when the world tells you that you don't deserve it. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to realize happiness was in front of you the whole time.
Despite knowing they needed to talk, it seemed like JongWoon and RyeoWook were far too busy the next day to take the time to sit down and do just that. By the time JongWoon woke up, RyeoWook had gone for the day to run errands before the party. Which meant it was left to him to call people to make sure they were still coming so there were enough places reserved at the restaurant.
Calls to his family went well enough, his parents confirming though his brother said he'd try to make it if he could. Even though he was pretty sure it was a terrible idea, he did call RyeoWook's parents. Maybe if they saw how much love and support they had from friends and his own family they would be more willing to accept RyeoWook for who he was. He left a message when there was no answer, letting them know where they would be and when, but he hoped deep down they wouldn't actually show.
He saved the easiest call for last. If anyone was going to show, it would be RyeoWook's longest, and best friend. Not that JongWoon was exactly happy about that, but he was learning to deal. "Don't be late," he told the man. "And bring KyuJong. Oh, and his friend YoungSaeng too if he's free. Tell him he can bring someone if he wants."
"I'll be there, and I'll make sure I bring Kyu as well," JungMin said, who was currently playing with KyuJong's hair as they sat on the couch. "We'll see you guys there. Bye." Hanging up, he looked down at KyuJong. "I forgot to tell you, Wook's engagement party is tonight."
"…His what?" KyuJong opened his eyes, blinking repeatedly to wake up; he'd been falling asleep while JungMin talked and played with his hair. "Engagement party? How did you forget about that?" he chuckled, smiling up at JungMin from where he laid down with his head in the other man's lap.
"I've been a little preoccupied," JungMin said, tugging lightly on KyuJong's earlobe. "We have to be at the restaurant at six. And your roommate's invited."
"YoungSaeng?" KyuJong thought about that, frowning lightly. "I don't know if he'd be comfortable…but I'll tell him he's invited either way. Six doesn't give us much time to get ready, is there a dress code?"
"It's that fancy western restaurant Wook likes, so I'm sure there is," JungMin said. "JongWoon said he could bring someone if he wanted to. Maybe he could bring that photographer friend of his."
"YunHo?" KyuJong thought about that. He wasn't sure if YoungSaeng had even talked to YunHo since his dad died. "Well, I'll have to go back to the apartment to get some fancy clothes anyways, so I'll talk with him about it if he's there." KyuJong sat up reluctantly, not all that happy about moving from JungMin's lap.
"Tell him I know it would mean a lot to Wook if he came," JungMin said, pouting a little at KyuJong moving.
"I will." KyuJong pouted back at the look he was given, leaning in to kiss JungMin softly. "I'll meet you there, text me an address before I get lost?"
"Will do, just don't leave me there by myself," JungMin said, his fingers curling into KyuJong's shirt a little so he couldn't move very far. "You coming back here tonight after the party?"
"If Saeng's okay with that. And if you're not working again," KyuJong chuckled, looking into JungMin's eyes.
"Don't work tonight so I'm all yours," JungMin said, wiggling his eyebrows a little as he leaned in for another kiss. "Better hurry up and go. Don't won't to be late tonight."
"You'll have to let go of my shirt first," KyuJong murmured teasingly into the kiss, returning it before leaning back. "I'll be there, on time."
JungMin reluctantly let go, smiling up at him. "Alright, so I should probably be on time as well then huh," he chuckled.
"Yes," KyuJong wrinkled his nose at JungMin. "RyeoWook's been your best friend for how long? I think he'd kill you if you were late to his engagement party."
"Probably, but if anyone would forgive me for it, it would be him," JungMin said. "I won't be late either, don't want him to look bad in front of his future in laws."
"Oh right, JongWoon's parents would be there," KyuJong blinked. "Well…I'll get going, you should get ready too. See you there?" He went to put his shoes on.
"Absolutely, I'll be sitting next to Wook and probably having some kind of ridiculous toast at some point," JungMin said, waving a little. "See you soon."
Chuckling, KyuJong headed out the door and down the hallway. He'd been a little surprised to be invited to the engagement party; while he knew RyeoWook and JongWoon from the time JungMin had lived with them, they weren't particularly close. Just friendly acquaintances. But he wasn't going to turn down an invitation like this. He wondered if YoungSaeng would agree to go or not.
It took half an hour to reach his own apartment, taking the elevator up to the right floor. "Saeng?" he called as he stepped into the apartment, closing the door behind him. "You home?"
"Maybe," YoungSaeng called from his room. "Who wants to know?"
"I do, who else?" KyuJong slipped off his shoes and walked to YoungSaeng's room. "What're you doing?"
"Working," YoungSaeng replied, sitting upright against the headboard on his bed with his computer in his lap. "So you still live here then, that's good to know," he said, glancing up at KyuJong with a small smile. "Or are you here to grab some clothes and leave again."
"Half-half." KyuJong leaned into the doorway, smiling at YoungSaeng. "JungMin got a call from RyeoWook…all three of us are invited to his engagement party tonight. I'm back to let you know and pick up some nice clothes."
"Hm?" YoungSaeng blinked a little. "All three? What do you mean? I'm invited? Why?"
"RyeoWook invited you, is my guess. JongWoon called, said you could bring someone along if you wanted to." KyuJong walked over to sit down on the edge of the bed.
"I barely know him though," YoungSaeng said, frowning a little. "Should I go?"
"It's up to you Saeng," KyuJong replied. "You don't have to if you're not comfortable, I'm sure he'd understand."
YoungSaeng looked back down at his laptop, lips pursed slightly. "He's... a nice guy. I think I owe him a lot for helping me out. What time is dinner?"
KyuJong smiled softly. "6pm. JungMin texted me the address, it's some nice Western restaurant not that far from here."
"Alright, I'll go," YoungSaeng nodded. "Maybe I'll call YunHo, see if he's gonna talk to me again and if he'd be up for a free meal."
"Have you talked to him since he checked up on you?" KyuJong frowned lightly.
"... No," YoungSaeng's shoulders slumped a little. "I thought it would be best if I didn't bother him until I had some things worked out."
"I called him after I came back, to let him know you were okay," KyuJong said. "He was really worried about you."
"Yeah... I just felt like I owed it to him to get my head screwed on straight before I talked to him," YoungSaeng said. "I know him, he'd want to ask questions about how I've been and what happened to me. Those are questions I don't think I can answer right now without telling him the truth."
KyuJong frowned slightly, looking down at his hands. He wanted to ask if telling YunHo the truth would be such a bad thing, but knowing YoungSaeng, that just wasn't a safe question to ask. "You think you'd be okay being around him now then?"
"I think so," YoungSaeng nodded. "I mean, we'll be in public and he can't push me for any answers around other people. We'll see what happens I guess. It'll be good to see him though so he doesn't worry about me."
"Okay, if you're sure," KyuJong nodded with a small smile. "Better find something nice to wear…you haven't seen RyeoWook's fiancé yet, right? RyeoWook and JongWoon are adorable together, they're like an old married couple."
"It'll be cute to see," YoungSaeng chuckled. "I should probably call YunHo, there's not much time before six."
"Yeah. I'm gonna go get changed," KyuJong nodded, standing. He headed out of YoungSaeng's room and into his own, closing the door.
YoungSaeng waited until he was sure KyuJong was out of hearing range before picking up his cell phone. He wondered, if things had gone differently, would he have been calling HyunJoong instead of YunHo? Could he have brought HyunJoong to a party and introduced him as his boyfriend? Maybe in the safety of people like him, other gay men, he could have found the courage.
Unfortunately for him, that wasn't the reality in which he lived. He lived in a reality where HyunJoong wouldn't take his phone calls and he was bringing his straight friend to a party for someone to talk to. Closing his eyes, he leaned his head back against the headboard and listened to the line ring.
After a few rings, YunHo picked up the other end of the line. "Hello?" His voice was a little confused, tentative. "YoungSaeng?"
"Hey... YunHo," YoungSaeng said, lips quirking a little. "I'm... sorry I haven't called. It's been a little... yeah. Not so good."
"It's…it's okay, I understand. Is everything all right?"</i>
"Yeah, I just needed to spend some time alone, deal with my dad passing," YoungSaeng said. "Kyu told me you had come by the apartment again. I'm sorry I missed you, I was probably asleep. How are you?"
"I'm fine, been keeping myself busy…out of trouble, I guess."
"That's good... um... so what are you doing tonight?" YoungSaeng asked.
"Tonight? Nothing really," YunHo answered. "Why?"
"Well there's this thing with a friend of Kyu's boyfriend, an engagement party. I got an invite and I was hoping to bring along a friend to keep me company," YoungSaeng said.
"An engagement party? Do I know them?" YunHo asked, confused. "It wouldn't be awkward having someone they don't know there?"
"It'll be just as awkward for me going with no one to talk to," YoungSaeng said. "JungMin's friend, his name is RyeoWook. He helped me out a bit and he's a nice guy. Um... just so you know, he's marrying another man."
If there was a pause after YoungSaeng's words, it wasn't very noticable. "Oh, okay. I guess that would be good to know before getting there, or things could get a little awkward," YunHo chuckled quietly.
"Yeah... guess so," YoungSaeng replied. "It's at six, so um... if you want to meet me and Kyu here we can go together."
"Okay, I'll get ready and be there soon. Anything else I should know before getting there?"
"Um..." YoungSaeng hesitated a little, feeling his heart beating a little faster. Why was it so easy to tell a perfect stranger, but not someone who he counted as a close friend. The words stuck in his throat and he swallowed roughly. "No.. just... just don't be late."
"I won't. See you soon." YunHo paused for a moment before saying "It's good hearing from you again," and hanging up.
"Yeah..." YoungSaeng sighed, setting his phone down on the bed beside him. It seemed like it was going to be a day of regrets. Hopefully this night would go well. He might not make it if it doesn't.
RyeoWook ended up getting back to the apartment with just enough time to get ready for the party that evening. He'd had to stop by student services at his school, and it had taken far longer than he'd wanted. An unfortunately side effect was that with all the time he'd spent waiting to be seen, he'd had plenty of opportunity to think about the argument with JongWoon the night before.
By the time he'd gotten back home and changed into nicer clothes, he'd resolved to put the whole thing out of his mind as best as he could. Tonight was going to be happy, he wasn't going to spend his engagement party a nervous wreck. So he pushed his returning insecurities to the back of his mind to deal with at a later date, smoothing out his shirt collar and tucking his ever-present cross necklace into his shirt before going to meet JongWoon.
"I think we're early," he murmured as they arrived in front of the restaurant.
"Aren't the guests of honor supposed to be fashionably late?" JongWoon said. "Maybe we should circle the block a couple of times."
"We're not being late to our own party," RyeoWook rolled his eyes, waiting for the car to be parked before undoing his seat belt. "Besides, someone might be inside already."
"You're no fun," JongWoon huffed, opening his car door. "So besides JungMin, you think anyone is going to show?"
"If JungMin's there, KyuJong probably will be too," RyeoWook smiled, getting out of the car. "Do you…think your parents will?" he asked, still remembering clearly the conversation with JongWoon's father.
"They said they would, but I'm not holding my breath," JongWoon said, heading towards the restaurant doors with his hands in his pockets. "And even less likely is my brother showing. Oh, I invited KyuJong's friend too, you said you hit it off with him right? I thought it would be nice to finally meet him."
"…YoungSaeng?" RyeoWook blinked. He wondered if YoungSaeng would come or not; he wouldn't blame him if he didn't, seeing his current situation. "It would be nice to see him again…" he followed beside JongWoon, frowning lightly.
"Yeah... it would be right?" JongWoon looked over at RyeoWook. "Should I not have done that?"
"Hm?" RyeoWook looked up at him. "No, it's good you invited him. He probably won't come though, I mean he met me once and doesn't know you at all."
"Well, I'd say he'd be dumb not to come," JongWoon said. "You're the nicest person in the world and whoever you deign to be nice to should count themselves as lucky just to know you."
"I think you're just biased." RyeoWook watched JongWoon. "We'll…talk after this, right?"
JongWoon's expression softened a little and he put an arm around RyeoWook's shoulder. "Yeah, after the party you and me will talk... I think it's been a real long time coming."
"Yeah…" RyeoWook nodded. They stepped into the restaurant and to the host's stand, After giving their name, they were shown to a table in a section of the restaurant for reservations only. No one else was there yet, RyeoWook looking along the long table. "Did you invite anyone besides your parents and brother?"
"Well... JungMin and KyuJong, and YoungSaeng and if he wanted to bring a guest," JongWoon said. "Should be enough seats for everyone."
Nodding, RyeoWook sat down. "Do you…think my parents will show?" he asked quietly.
"... I don't know Wook," JongWoon said, looking away towards the door. "I wouldn't get your hopes up if you didn't invite them."
"Right," RyeoWook lowered his eyes. "It was a stupid question, nevermind. I never thought I'd be having an engagement party at all, still trying to wrap my head around it."
Folding his hand over top of RyeoWook's, JongWoon smiled a little at him. "Just wait until the wedding. You're not going to know what to do with yourself, being a married man."
That pulled a soft laugh out of the younger man, his eyes crinkling slightly. "True…what do married men even do? I have no idea." He turned his hand over after a moment, curling his fingers around JongWoon's.
"I may have an idea," JongWoon mused, leaning in to kiss RyeoWook's cheek. "I'll show you later."
"Should I be worried?" RyeoWook raised an eyebrow.
"Maybe," JongWoon chuckled. "Don't expect to get a whole lot of sleep tonight."
"Aww, aren't they just the cutest?" An annoying voice brought JongWoon's attention around to the two who were walking up to the table.
"Hello JungMin," JongWoon said, giving a small nod to KyuJong who was with him. "I hope KyuJong here didn't have to pull you out of the bottom of a bottle to get you here on time."
"Hyung!" RyeoWook hopped up from his chair to give JungMin a hug. "You made it."
"I didn't have to do anything, he was ready all by himself," KyuJong chuckled, nodding to JongWoon with a smile of his own. "You both look amazing. I don't think I've given my congratulations yet."
"Well, I don't think we've seen you since before we kicked JungMin out," JongWoon said, motioning for them to take a seat. "Is your friend coming KyuJong? I'm curious who this mysterious new friend is that RyeoWook made."
"Yeah, he's here," KyuJong chuckled, glancing back towards the doorway. "They were walking a little slowly."
"They?" RyeoWook blinked, letting go of JungMin.
"YoungSaeng brought along a friend of his, he was worried it might be awkward considering he doesn't really know you. His name's YunHo, he's a nice guy, and a professional photographer. Maybe you can get him to take your pictures after," KyuJong chuckled.
"That would be nice," JongWoon nodded, looking towards the door as well since everyone else seemed to be.
He could see two men standing just outside the doorway, the shorter dark haired one had his arms crossed and was looking right towards them.
"They're staring at us," YoungSaeng said with a frown. "You sure you're going in there?"
"You asked me to, so yes," YunHo blinked, looking down at YoungSaeng. "Well, shall we?"
"Alright," YoungSaeng blew out a heavy sigh, heading towards the door. "Thanks for coming with me. I really do appreciate it."
"That's what friends are for, right?" YunHo chuckled, following him.
RyeoWook perked up when YoungSaeng appeared. "Hey, YoungSaeng! So glad you could make it. This is my fiancé, JongWoon," he introduced the two.
"Nice to meet you," YoungSaeng said, bowing politely to JongWoon. "This is my friend YunHo, he agreed to take care of me tonight and make sure I don't drink too much."
"Nice to meet you, YunHo," RyeoWook bowed to the other man, the motion returned.
"Likewise. Congratulations, when's the marriage?" YunHo smiled.
"Sometime next month, we haven't exactly narrowed down the date yet," JongWoon said. That being because in order to pay for the wedding, he needed his father's money. Hopefully this party would be enough to get his father to back off. "Do you do weddings YunHo?"
"…Do weddings? Oh, yes," YunHo nodded. "If you're looking for a photographer, I can definitely help."
"Good, we'll have to get your number before you go," JongWoon said, motioning for everyone to sit. "We're waiting on a few more people, but we can probably get some drinks ordered."
"None for me," JungMin said, sitting down on RyeoWook's other side. "I'm going to stay sober tonight."
"I'll believe that when I see it," YoungSaeng muttered, sitting across from him and KyuJong.
YunHo sat down beside YoungSaeng. "I'll have something. You probably shouldn't though," he murmured to YoungSaeng teasingly.
KyuJong chuckled at that, smiling widely as he made himself comfortable. "Well, if JungMin's not drinking, then I shouldn't either. Moral support and all that. Who's left to show up?"
"Family," JongWoon sighed a little. "My parents for sure, and maybe my brother if he can get his nose out of a text book."
"I may reconsider the no drinking thing if his family is going to be here," JungMin whispered to KyuJong. "They're kind of assholes."
"No getting drunk though," KyuJong reminded the younger man, speaking just as quietly. "I doubt that'll help."
"Probably not, I'll probably need to keep my wits about me for Wook's sake," JungMin replied, putting his arm around KyuJong's shoulder to pull him close.
A waiter was going around, filling up glasses of water for them and taking requests for drinks. RyeoWook held JongWoon's hand on the table, playing with his fiancé's small fingers. "Have I mentioned before how adorable you both are?" he chuckled, looking at JungMin and KyuJong. KyuJong turned a light pink.
"We are adorable aren't we?" JungMin grinned. "But no one has anything on you two. You've been like an old married couple since you met."
JongWoon didn't seem to be listening, his hands tightening around RyeoWook's a little. "My parents are here," he said quietly, getting to his feet. He could see his mother and father at the door, his mother's nose turned up a little and his father scowling as he looked around. Waving a little, he motioned for them to come over. "Everyone please be on your best behavior."
RyeoWook sat up straight, heart racing in his chest. Meeting JongWoon's parents was always nerve-wracking, but after the conversation the day before with JongWoon's father, he wasn't sure what to do. He stood up when JongWoon did, stepping away from the table to bow politely to the two arrivals. "Mrs Kim, Mr Kim, so glad you could make it."
KyuJong bowed his head politely to the new arrivals as well, able to see their displeasure clearly. Even YunHo, who knew the least about the soon-to-be-weds, was picking up on the sudden tense note in the air.
"Interesting choice for a party," JongWoon's father said, clearly ignoring RyeoWook and everyone else there. "It's too bad JongWoon, your mother was looking forward to planning your real wedding, including the engagement parties."
"I'm sorry for disappointing you mother," JongWoon said, clenching his jaw at the obvious dig. "Please, join us," he motioned to the seats next to him. "RyeoWook speaks very highly about the food here, I'm sure you'll like it."
"It's delicious, especially their desserts," RyeoWook said, trying to keep his voice steady and optimistic. Sitting down when JongWoon did, he exhaled slowly and made himself relax, glad that JungMin was the one sitting on his opposite side.
"…So JongWoon, do you and Wookie have any plans for the honeymoon yet?" KyuJong tried to ease the conversation into something more pleasant.
"No, we're still discussing it," JongWoon said, glad to have a distraction. "We're hoping on having the wedding somewhere where they will recognize it. So even if it's not legal here, we'll be legal when we exchange our vows."
"That's so sappy," JungMin snorted. "You two are so sappy, I can't stand it sometimes."
"Seems like a lot of time and money wasted for something that doesn't mean anything," JongWoon's father said. "How do you plan on paying for all this?"
"... I'll figure something out," JongWoon said, looking levelly at his father. "Even if we have to stow away on a ship, this is what we want to do."
RyeoWook swallowed thickly, continuing to hold onto JongWoon's hand under the table. "I'm graduating from culinary school and working full-time, so even if we don't have the money now, we will eventually." He looked up at JongWoon. "Even if we end up waiting a little, it'll be worth it."
"Exactly," JongWoon said, giving RyeoWook a reassuring smile. "Even if it takes us twenty years."
YoungSaeng glanced between JongWoon and RyeoWook, and then looked at JongWoon's father. The older man seemed highly critical of the two, his eyes narrowed and he sat back in his chair.
"You're absolutely certain about this JongWoon?" he said finally.
"Absolutely," JongWoon nodded. "I love him Dad... I'm going to spend the rest of my life with him."
"I promise I'll take good care of your son," RyeoWook straightened and bowed his head a little.
Watching what was going on quietly, YunHo glanced at YoungSaeng before movement near the door caught his attention. He saw a middle-aged man and woman hovering near the door watching them, and frowned lightly.
Straightening and noticing the look on YunHo's face, RyeoWook glanced towards the doorway. His eyes widened in shock, mind blanking.
"…Umma?" He slowly stood up, letting go of JongWoon's hand. "Appa?"