Twenty Four

Goldie Locks and Papa Bear
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Yunho holds his hand as they descend the stairs, and if anyone asks which of them had made the move to twine their fingers together, he isn’t sure if he remembers.  

 

They didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking, perhaps they should have, but in the moment he hadn’t wanted to. The silence was fragile and golden and he hadn’t wanted to hurt it at all, not when it had settled in in what seemed like the perfect place.  

 

Of course, now his mind is running frantically away as they creep closer toward the dining room. 

 

Had Yunho really meant it? He wants to say yes, wants to say of course, because the alpha was the one to drop a title at him without Jaejoong needing to pry it out of him, that meant something, didn’t it? 

 

If it was a trick, if it was just something to get his family off of his back surely Yunho wouldn’t have picked him, there were way too many better options for a pretend... someone, after all. And wouldn’t the man mention it? This way he couldn’t mess it up... 

 

But that would mean Yunho is actually willing to date him, which is... absolutely terrifying. 

 

“So, us and your parents and Jihye?” Jaejoong asks quietly, leaning heavily into the taller man as they move away from the last step, “I haven’t uh- ever met your father.” 

 

Not that he had met Yunho’s mother in person before he had arrived either, but Mr. Jung had been elusive so far. He didn’t know what to expect. 

 

“Jihye’s boyfriend is here too,” the alpha mentions, tugging at their hands as they wander through the large family room...den? “He’s a beta, and Jihye’s thinking about proposing so if anything gets to be too much for you, I will throw my little sister to the wolves and we can flee.” 

 

“And how far will we get before someone catches us in a net?” 

 

It’s actually morbidly fascinating, the way Yunho’s face colours in a vivid flush of embarrassment.  

 

“Well, mom is hoping we spend the night so at least to my room? We could make a break for the car if you don’t mind ditching your shoes.” 

 

Jaejoong scoffs at that, not offended, but he has to do something before he snorts unattractively and starts laughing. It’s the sort of logic that kind of warms him. Sure, let’s run away from my parents...to my room. 

 

“That door has a lock, okay? It’s a valid hiding spot,” Yunho grumbles, “Besides, you’re tiny, I bet you could actually hide under the bed. They never look there... not that I’ve ever hidden under my bed from my parents.” 

 

“Yeah, I’m sure you never have.” 

 

----- 

 

It’s like a trap, except not (probably).  

 

The kitchen in theory is a safe space, according to Yunho a chef is most likely cooking, so if they hang out there the likelihood of being intercepted by any of the Jungs is low. 

 

Yunho, as it turns out, is wrong. 

 

Mrs. Jung is settled in the kitchen, and sure there are a couple of people there helping out, but she is very much grass stain free as she tosses a large bowl of salad. 

 

It isn’t just Mrs. Jung either, but Mr. Jung as well, back straight as he lingers in front of the stove, stark white sleeves of his blouse neatly rolled up above his elbows as he tends to something in a pan. 

 

Jaejoong, to his utter mortification, squeaks (loudly) in alarm and the noise of a bustling kitchen doesn’t even almost drown out his imitation of a startled mouse.  

 

Everyone startles, like a well-oiled machine that has had an emergency break slammed. Too many sets of eyes turn and seek out the mouse only to be met with the sight of Jaejoong as he attempts to flee behind Yunho. The alpha is extremely unhelpful, mouth quirked in amusement as he attempts to curl a possessive arm around the omega’s waist. It would be nice, if not for the fact that it completely prevented him from doing the whole hiding bit. 

 

“Yunho please,” he half hisses and half whines through his teeth as quietly as he can, but the Jung’s might just have super senses because Jung Haewon is smiling at them and her husband Jung Jiho arches a dark eyebrow. 

 

“I didn’t expect the two of you to be here,” Yunho hums, and ends up winning out as he curls his arms around the omega’s waist. 

 

The blonde would prefer an alpha shield that kept him hidden from view, but it is also kind of nice like this, with the heat of Yunho’s chest pressed up against his back as strong arms curl around his waist. He’s not the human shield, at least he hopes not. 

 

“We have guests for a family dinner,” Haewon informs, “Of course we’re here.” 

 

“I expected a chef,” he can hear Yunho pouting, and he steps lightly at the alpha’s toes. 

 

Unfortunately, the action seems to go very noticed by everyone in the room and Jaejoong flushes violently. 

 

“Sorry it’s very... very kind of you to go through so much effort. Yunho should not be rude,” although stepping on his toes was probably not the way to deal with it... and neither was calling Yunho rude in front of his parents. 

 

Oh. 

 

“Our son is pretty useless in the kitchen,” Jiho agrees, tone and expression neutral, “Almost like his mother, but significantly worse, it almost seems impossible.” 

 

If a cucumber slice happens to go flying across the opulent kitchen, nobody comments. Not even Jiho who nearly ends up with said cucumber glued to his face. It ends up on the cabinet nearest to his head and Jaejoong almost thinks that’s worse. 

 

“You will take that back,” Haewon states, waving half of a cucumber like it’s a bat in her hands. 

 

“Should we-?” 

 

“Shhh, my money’s on mom,” Yunho whispers quietly into his ear.  

 

But Yunho’s a little bit too loud because both of the alpha’s intimidating alpha parents jerk their heads to stare at them. Sadly, the floor doesn’t open up and swallow them, no matter how much Jaejoong wishes for it to. 

 

“What were you two planning to do here?” Yunho’s father diverts, sounding more than a little suspicious. 

 

“Jaejoong is an amazing cook,” the omega isn’t expecting those words at all, much less for the way he feels Yunho posture behind him, boasting and bragging and preening at his parents, “I was going to have him to make his fried rice. I cannot eat anyone else’s anymore. He’s spoiled me.” 

 

He feels his shoulders slumping, and his knees feel a lot like they’re going to give out, it doesn’t seem to matter though because he doesn’t even slide a fraction of an inch because of the alpha wrapped around him. 

 

“Yunho he is... he’s just kidding,” the blonde attempts to excuse quietly, tense under the intense stare of Jiho, “I would never come in here and touch anything, sir, ma’am.” 

 

This doesn’t seem the satisfy Yunho’s father though who simply shakes his head, “well come on then, pup, let’s see this fried rice that has turned my son into an even larger brat than usual.” 

 

Jaejoong doesn’t move, not for several long moments, his eyes are wide and he definitely does not squeak again (except he so does). 

 

When he doesn’t move on his own he feels Yunho’s face cheek brush along the top of his head, and then the soft kiss pressed to his hair before the alpha lets him go and nudges him forward. He’s never felt so much like Bambi trying to walk across an icy lake in his entire existence before, but he does manage not to trip over his own feet as he approaches Jiho. 

 

Gently an apron is handed to him by the Jung patriarch, and the simple action seems to kick the omega into motion, finally. 

 

“The secret is to fry the rice twice,” he finds himself stage whispering, glancing over his shoulder to make sure Yunho hasn’t disappeared- the alpha is smiling at him from the kitchen island where he’s perched himself by Haewon, “But you have to be really careful with the timing. And a tiny bit of sesame oil mixed with hoisin sauce.” 

 

It’s a complete shock, but Jiho’s expression seems less dull and far softer as Jaejoong finds his voice. The man is listening to him patiently, even though there is a nervous tremble in his voice. 

 

“Not soy?” is all Jiho asks, arching a brow curiously. 

 

“I like the salty-sweet aspect of it,” Jaejoong explains with a small grin, “If you’re looking for a slightly healthier alternative though, sir, bean paste and a little bit of brown sugar will work, too.” 

 

“Really? You know, I keep reminding my dear wife to watch her sodium intake,” the man hums thoughtfully, completely ignoring the loud protest that sounds off behind him, “Do you think we could try it? And please, call me Jiho, pup.” 

 

----- 

 

When they have (read make) time to be the main forces in the kitchen, apparently it is Jung Jiho leading charge. Yunho’s (lack of) skills is something he inherited from Haewon, but apparently she likes to sit in the kitchen in a cute apron and keep her husband company while he works. 

 

To a degree, it makes him think of he and Yunho. Of their cooking lessons which truly are just Jaejoong attempting to talk and guide Yunho through a dish that goes in one ear and out of the other. He knows it does, which means he is a miserable teacher, but it really is a nice, relaxing meal. Putting an actual knife in the alpha’s hands and asking him to do anything beyond playing fetch? Not nice or relaxing. 

 

“Does Mrs. Jung or yourself have any other food sensitivities?” Jaejoong asks quietly as Jiho attends to a pot on the stove. 

 

He’s been tasked with tending to the meat. He’s added a bit of brown sugar to the marinade it’s been resting in to temper the bit chilli pepper he has not been able to fish out with a pair of metal chopsticks. It happens thoughtlessly and he forgets to ask as he does it, but Yunho isn’t very keen on spicy food. 

 

“Oh, or Jihye or her boyfriend?” he adds in after a moment when there is a small glass bowl of pepper bits in front of him. 

 

The man turns to him then, opens his mouth to speak and then his brows crumple up in confusion, “No... no allergies or medical issues, really. All healthy as horses.... I just intend to keep my wife for forever, so best to make smart choices now, eh? Are you not a fan of spice?” 

 

Finally, then it clicks and the blonde glances down at where he is working. He’s mortified, rightly so and feels his face heat up so face he almost feels a touch faint.  

 

He’s an idiot is what he is. 

 

“Oh, erm... ah. Yunho... Yunho isn’t fond of too much spice, so I just...” hadn’t even been thinking about it, “I'm sorry.” 

 

“God he’s so precious,” a soft voice sighs pleasantly, and it takes Jaejoong a moment to recognize the sound of Haewon’s voice, “If only I was single. Clearly your age doesn’t bother him, so perhaps I just need to ditch your father and...” 

 

“Mother!” Yunho half snarls, half whispers as though their attempts to keep their voices down prevents anyone from hearing the words. 

 

It might have, had they been a little quieter, actually. Jaejoong forgot about the audience quickly, so when he finally turns to look he’s afraid his eyes nearly pop out of his head.  

 

Yunho and Haewon are perched at the island counter and he realizes that Jihye is there as well, perched in the lap of a man he doesn’t know. She catches his eyes quickly and grins, curling two fingers in a wave. 

 

“No, no don’t watch. I want to hear all about how mommy intends to seduce someone who is younger than I am,” the girl laughs, the sound is loud and obnoxious and bright as Yunho growls and Haewon protests the crass language. 

 

All the while, when he sneaks a glance at Jiho he’s surprised by the fond look on his face, lips quirked slightly as though saying ‘yes, these crazy persons are mine.’ 

 

“Chilies!” Jaejoong squeaks loudly, pressing a hand to his sternum as he clears his throat, “I am sorry again, I can add them back-” 

 

“Oh no. No, it was very sweet of you to cater to my boy like that, considering I forgot to do so myself,” the alpha admits with a small smile, “I’m glad you’re here to assist to, Jaejoong. At least there is someone competent in this crowd.” 

 

“Hey!” Jihye scowls at the same time Haewon does. 

 

Yunho just shrugs from where he sits, “I’ve got nothing. I’m helpless and need to be fed. Please spoil me.” 

 

He almost, almost finds himself drifting towards Yunho as the man makes childish grabby hands at him. Luckily Haewon’s laughter snaps him out of it. 

 

----- 

 

Dinner ends up being a slightly less chaotic affair than he’s expecting. Nobody breaks out a spotlight to play a sudden game of interrogation, there aren’t a million different forks trapping him into picking up the wrong one either. 

 

The conversation that passes for most of it is simple, compliments are paid toward Jiho and himself and Haewon insists there are recipes traded later. 

 

Better still, a large part of the meal is monopolized by Jihye and her boyfriend, Myungsoo. 

 

He seems kind enough, a beta that shares a few classes with her and interns (or works? He’s not sure.) part time as one of the Jungs' businesses. They aren’t engaged, but Jihye does wind up informing her parents that they’re discussing marriage.  

 

Shockingly, none of the alphas at the table seem upset by the news at all. Myungsoo being a beta isn’t brought up at all, in fact Jaejoong almost wondered if it was brought up at all for his own benefit but that seems a little more presumptuous than he is comfortable being.  Neither Jiho or Haewon seem to think they’re too young or that it’s too fast, they don’t prod at Myungsoo like they thing he is trying to get something out of their child. 

 

They seem pleased, easily offering their blessing and support toward whatever path they take. 

 

And Yunho, the protective alpha older brother merely side eyes the beta for a long moment, and then almost joyfully offers up a threat should Jihye’s heart end up broken. Of course, the sentiment is met with a glare from the young woman who hisses at her brother like a cat... which prompts Yunho to withdrawal his protection of his sister, offering to help Myungsoo escape when he needs to. 

 

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