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[personal profile] exohousewarming
Prompt number : n/a
Title : Hint Juleps
Pairing : Chen/Xiumin
Rating : PG
Warning : (if any) n/a
Word count : 2760
Summary: Jongdae keeps dropping hints and Minseok just Doesn’t Get It.
Author note : THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS the wonderful mods who gave me way more extra time and leeway than I deserved at all. You all are as patient as saints.

Minseok, once again, is at an impasse. Sure, he was conflicted when he realized he liked Jongdae but Jongdae had a boyfriend. Sure he was conflicted when Jongdae and said boyfriend broke up and Jongdae’s heart was shattered, leaving Minseok to comfort him. Sure he was conflicted when Jongdae stayed at Minseok’s apartment for a few weeks when his lease was up and just never left, much to Minseok’s delight but also worry.

But now...now…

Jongdae is passed out drunk on Minseok’s couch. He smells strongly of mint juleps, and Minseok’s daughter Jiwon is staring at him intently.

“Did he just say he loves you?” she asks her father, looking up at him with curiosity in her eyes. “It really sounded like ‘Minseok, I love you,’ didn’t it?”

“Uh…” Minseok stutters, trying to figure out what he can do to distract his seven year-old. “I think it sounded more like ‘Minseok, I glove you.’”

Jiwon turns to face her father fully, furrowing her eyebrows at him. “Dad. That doesn’t make sense.” Minseok sighs, telling her to go get ready for bed and that drunk people sometimes just don’t make sense.

But she’s right. Jongdae saying he loves Minseok doesn’t make sense.

The thing is, Minseok’s expressed interest in Jongdae only once, two years ago. He too had been really drunk and they were playing some drinking game at a party. When it was his turn to go, he said that he had a crush on Jongdae.

Jongdae was still with Yifan back then, and Jongdae had laughed off Minseok’s remark, just like Minseok is now trying to convince Jiwon to do. For a primary schooler, Jiwon is surprisingly perceptive and he hopes that she doesn’t have to see him in a messy emotional state. God knows it was already messy enough when her mother left Jiwon on Minseok’s doorstep.

Minseok knows Jiwon isn’t really his daughter. But at this point it doesn’t really matter. He loves her as if she were his daughter and she loves Minseok more than anything - she’s said it to him many times.

But she also loves Jongdae. Minseok caught her calling him ‘Papa’ once and he had to scold her because Jongdae isn’t her father. “But you’re not really my father either, Dad, but I love you so much that you basically are my dad! Why can’t Uncle Jongdae be Papa too?” she’d asked, and Minseok had to come up with an explanation. It sounded stupid to him too, because he wanted Jongdae to be Jiwon’s other dad just as much as Jiwon wanted it.

Minseok goes to sit next to where Jongdae is lying on the couch after Jiwon is tucked in. Even when he’s drunk and his clothes all disheveled, he’s handsome. His hair falls gracefully over his forehead, his black eyelashes in stark contrast to his cheeks.

“Jongdae,” Minseok whispers. “Did you mean what you said?”

Jongdae snores in response.

The next morning Minseok wakes up to the sound of Jiwon’s laughter and the smell of bacon. He freaks out - Jiwon is not allowed to use the stove unsupervised - and he rushes into the kitchen.

“Morning, Minseok,” Jongdae smiles, turning to face Minseok. Jiwon is watching Jongdae cook the bacon and Minseok is just...so confused.

“Uh, how are you feeling?” Minseok asks because that’s all he can think to ask. He supposes it’s normal for Jongdae to be here...after all, he’s been here often for most of the past few weeks. But usually he’s not here in the morning, especially not on a weekend.

“I’m great,” Jongdae replies. “You want some breakfast?”

“Just bacon?” Minseok asks, and Jongdae smiles sheepishly.

“I’m really bad at cooking eggs,” he tells Minseok. Minseok laughs, walking over to ruffle his daughter’s hair while he retrieves the eggs.

“How can you know how to cook bacon but not how to cook eggs?” he teases, and Jongdae pouts. God, he’s cute when he does that. Jiwon pipes up that she knows how to cook eggs and that Dad should let her do it. “No, Jiwon, you could get burned.” She then turns to Jongdae, twirling her hair in her hand.

“Papa, can I cook the eggs?” she asks, and Jongdae laughs, but Minseok frowns.

“Jiwon, don’t make Jongdae uncomfortable. He’s not Papa.” She pouts too but Jongdae just waves a hand.

“Ah, it’s fine,” he tells Minseok, flipping over the bacon in the skillet. “You can call me Papa if you want, Jiwonnie.” Jiwon smiles triumphantly, looking at her father as if she expects him to admit defeat. He just sends her to set the table for the three of them instead.

Once they’re alone, Minseok lowers his voice. “She’ll start expecting you around, you know. She already asks when you’re not here for dinner during the week.”

“What’s wrong with her expecting me?” Jongdae asks nonchalantly, observing Minseok cracking the eggs into the pan. Minseok frowns.

“Well, because…” he stutters. “You know. She’ll get disappointed if you aren’t here. If she starts seeing you as a father she’s going to expect you to take care of her like I do.”

“Are you saying I don’t take care of her?” Jongdae asks, and his tone isn’t accusatory, just curious. But Minseok’s getting kind of mad.

“No! You take care of her really well, but the thing is like...she loves you a lot and she’ll be sad if you aren’t here all the time. She’ll be sad when you leave. She’ll be sad you’re not her real dad too!”

Jongdae turns away from the stove, looking at Minseok intently and Minseok feels his heart stop briefly. “I could b-”

“Daddy!” comes Jiwon’s voice as she scampers into the kitchen. “We’re out of forks!”

Jongdae casts Minseok a look before following Minseok’s daughter to find the forks. Minseok sighs, tending to the eggs and bacon. Jongdae is so casual about all of this. He doesn’t realize he could hurt Jiwon by letting her believe he’ll always be there.

He doesn’t realize he’s hurting Minseok, too.

When the food is ready, he brings it to the table where Jiwon and Jongdae are just finishing putting down the forks.

“Daddy!” Jiwon giggles. “Papa changed the forks drawer when he was drunk last night.”

“No I didn’t!” Jongdae protests. “I changed them when I was cleaning the drawer and forgot to put them back. I’m sorry,” he looks at Minseok apologetically. Minseok stares back blankly.

“You cleaned my fork drawer? When? Why?”

“On Wednesday night after you fell asleep. You looked so exhausted that I thought I should do some cleaning for you to ease the burden…” Jongdae looks sheepish again, and Minseok feels his heart thumping. Why is Jongdae being like this? Minseok feels as though he’s being teased and he doesn’t like it.

“Don’t do that,” Minseok frowns. “I can keep my own apartment clean. You don’t - this isn’t your -” he trails off when he sees Jiwon out of the corner of his eye looking confused and worried. “Just...leave it to me.”

Jongdae doesn’t fight Minseok over it but their breakfast is consumed in relative silence after that.

They go to the playground with Jiwon later in the afternoon. Minseok had told Jongdae he didn’t need to come, but Jongdae insisted. He told Minseok he liked spending time with Jiwon and gave him a look after that, but Minseok has no idea what that look means.

Minseok wishes he could scoff and say he hates to admit that Jongdae is great with Jiwon, but Minseok really doesn’t hate it. Jiwon does see him like a second father and God damn if Minseok didn’t wish Jongdae was Jiwon’s dad, too. He can imagine them sleeping together soundly, waking up and cooking breakfast together, eating their meals together, doing things as a family....it all sounds too good to be true.

But Jongdae would never have that. Jongdae has never seen Minseok in that way, as much as he likes Jiwon.

“Minseok!” Jongdae cries, waving at him from where he’s pushing Jiwon on the swing. “Come here!” Minseok starts to walk over like an obedient puppy, still daydreaming about what could be with Jongdae before he realizes he’s being ridiculous and tries to feign nonchalance. When he’s near Jongdae and Jiwon, Jongdae grins at Minseok like he’s got a secret.

“What?” Minseok asks, and Jongdae pokes his shoulder. Minseok bristles. They hardly ever touch and as much as Minseok wishes Jongdae would, he never initiates touches.

“I thought we should have a competition. See who can swing the highest.”

“But you’re pushing Jiwon.”

“Daddy,” Jiwon says in an exasperated voice that’s adorable on a seven year-old, “I know how to pump my legs. I can swing by myself.”

“When did you learn that?” Minseok asks, but he has a feeling…

“Papa told me about it and I tried it and it works!” she beams, showing her father how proud she is that she can swing herself. Minseok has the urge just to kiss Jongdae right now, but...no. That would be so wrong in so many different ways. Jongdae doesn’t see him like that.

“So?” Jongdae prompts, poking Minseok again. “Are we going to compete or not?”

Minseok sighs, smiling in spite of himself. “Sure,” he says, getting on the swing next to his daughter. “Jiwonnie, who do you think is going to win?”

“Daddy!” she cries confidently, and Minseok nods.

“That’s right!” he replies, shaking a fist in the air. “Daddy is the most powerful swinger!” Jongdae laughs, reaching his foot over to kick Minseok’s foot. Minseok knows he shouldn’t, but he feels a thrill when their feet connect. “R-ready?” he stutters when he asks Jongdae, and he feels foolish to be reacting to a little touch from his crush like a teenager. Minseok’s thirty-four already; he does not need to be acting like he’s fourteen.

“I’m ready when you are,” Jongdae smiles, so Minseok pushes off the ground. Jongdae doesn’t follow immediately, but Minseok hears a sigh before Jongdae eventually does catch up. He wonders what on Earth Jongdae has to sigh about.

Minseok wins the high swing competition handily, and Jongdae congratulates him with a handshake that lasts longer than usual. Eventually, Minseok pulls his hand away. He doesn’t want to let himself believe that this is something more than it is. He can’t afford that at this point.

But Jongdae does come back with them when they go home, and Minseok wonders whether, perhaps, he should ask Jongdae to find himself a place of his own.

They all fold the laundry together that afternoon. Minseok had thought about telling Jongdae he didn’t need to help, but since his clothes were in the basket as well, Minseok figured maybe he’d let Jongdae in on this one.

“Oh my god, here are the boxers I’ve been looking for all week!” Jongdae exclaims, holding up a pair of striped blue and white boxers. Jiwon giggles, but Minseok scoffs, laughing.

“Those are mine,” he says, but Jongdae shakes his head. “I wore them this week.”

“Nope, look,” he folds over the waistband and sure enough, Jongdae’s name is written there in faded ink. Fuck.

“Wait, I’ve been wearing your underwear?” Minseok says, and he can feel his face heating up. No no no he can’t show embarrassment in front of Jongdae. Jongdae will know about his crush and then...and then…

“It’s okay, you can wear whichever ones you want whenever you want,” Jongdae says, but Minseok doesn’t need Jongdae to help him save face.

“Papa, you can wear Daddy’s too if you want!” Jiwon graciously gives permission that isn’t hers to give, but Minseok lets it slide this once because he’s too embarrassed to say anything else at this point.

“Thanks, Jiwon,” Jongdae grins. He looks up at Minseok, still smiling, and if Minseok didn’t know that the the lights in his room give off a reddish tone, he’d think that Jongdae was blushing, too.

Later that night, Minseok puts Jiwon to bed. “Can you and Papa read me a bedtime story?” Jiwon pleads, but Minseok shakes his head.

“Jiwonnie...you know Jongdae isn’t your papa, right?”

“Well, neither are you,” Jiwon says, obviously confused. “But I’m allowed to call you Daddy. I’m allowed to love you like a daddy.”

“Well, yeah. I’m your legal guardian. But Jongdae...he’s just my friend. He’s not your guardian at all.”

“But he guards me too. He teaches me things. He helps around the house. And he loves you, right?” her eyes are sparkly, as if she’s hoping for a happy ending in her favorite fairy tale. It’s unfortunate that real life never ends up that way.

But Minseok doesn’t need her to know about real life quite yet. “That’s right, he loves me,” he says.

“That’s right,” comes Jongdae’s voice behind him, and Minseok whips around. “Nothing to worry about, Jiwonnie. You can sleep now, okay? We’ll have another fun day tomorrow, hm?”

“Okay!” she smiles, snuggling up with her stuffed animals and closing her eyes happily. Minseok, though, is absolutely speechless. It’s one thing to play with Minseok. But he can’t allow Jongdae to play with his daughter’s feelings too. He gets up after kissing his daughter goodnight. As he leaves the room he grabs Jongdae’s arm, pulling him into the kitchen.

“What the fuck, Jongdae? I get it, okay. You can play with my feelings, fine. I know you know I like you. But come on, do you have to lie to Jiwon? That’s low. I didn’t think you would do something like that.”

Jongdae looks shocked.

“But, I wasn’t -”

“And you know, I think it’s time you found your own place.”

“Minseok, listen -”

“You’ve been acting so nice lately and it’s honestly so -”

“Minseok!” Jongdae raises his voice a little as he shakes Minseok by the shoulders. “Listen to me. I love you. I seriously do. I promise you I’m not teasing you. Have I not dropped enough hints over the past two months or so?”

“Hints?” Minseok stutters. Wait, what? What is Jongdae saying?

“Besides telling you I love you last night, for example, I even made breakfast for you. I flirted at the park. I deliberately put my boxers in your drawer to see if you’d noticed. And all that was just today, Minseok! I’ve been helping around the house hoping you’d...I don’t know, think of me as good husband material. Or dad material. Or both.” He scratches at his nape, embarrassment finally catching up with him. “I really...I love you. I’m sorry I didn’t say it outright til now.”

“But you were drunk!” is all Minseok can say. “You didn’t know -”

“Of course I knew what I was saying! That’s all I can seem to think these days; why wouldn’t I say it?” Jongdae says, his hands traveling down Minseok’s arms to his hands. Minseok instinctively lets Jongdae take his hands, holding them gently.

“So...I can tell you I love you now without feeling too awkward?” Minseok asks, and Jongdae smiles softly.

“Yeah. Sorry it took so long for me to fall in love with you too. But I promise I can make up for it...in bed,” Jongdae winks, and Minseok laughs.

“You’re disgusting,” he says, but obviously he’s joking. Jongdae is the furthest from disgusting. He is good husband and father material. He’s sweet and handsome and funny. Minseok really loves him.

“Does that mean you don’t want to kiss me?” Jongdae asks, smirking cutely.

“Cheesy,” Minseok tuts, but he leans in and lets Jongdae’s lips meet his. The kiss is great, but what has Minseok reeling is the sudden realisation of it all. Of course. He should have seen it. He can remember how silly he thought it was that Jongdae had to move in with him when he had plenty of places he could go - but that was just Jongdae trying to get closer to Minseok. All the times Jongdae helped around the house, or taught Jiwon things, or purposefully watched romance movies when Jiwon was in bed. It was all attempts to seduce a very, very, very oblivious Minseok.

But honestly, knowing now that Jongdae has loved him for a long time, Minseok wouldn’t do it any other way.

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June 2017


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