'Okay, so if your parents ask me if I belive in God, do I say he's my hyung? Sunbaenim? Or is it way too early for that?' Heechul cackles like a madman, just because he can. The man beside grabs his hand and squeezes tightly in reprimand and shoots him a glare. Tucked in the other's pocket, his hand feels warmer under the 4 layers. His glove, Kyunghoon's glove, the other’s hand, then his jacket.
'Please, don't say that hyung. They know you're atheist and they definitely won't be asking questions like that, but keep the crackhead spirit at a minimum, okay?' Heechul can's see Kyunghoon's lips move under the scarf wrapped around his neck, but he can hear him pouting through his words.
Heechul brought wine for dinner, because wine not? He thought. It's not like he needed the extra intoxication to get through the night, he had Kyunghoon to play footsie with under the table to relieve some of the tension he might feel. It's small, really, but he wanted to contribute something for dinner plus he really didn't know how this "meet-your-boyfriend's-family-formally" thing worked. He did meet Kyunghoon's mom before, although only briefly over coffee, so it wasn't like he was nervous about meeting her. But what he was really anxious about was that his boyfriend's brother was flying back from overseas, where he was residing in for work. He's only heard things about him that makes him think he would look like a yeti and be cold and brooding. He's never even seen a picture before but a very bad gut feel tells him that chances are he wouldn't approve of his younger brother's relationship with the crackhead personality that he is known for on tv. He knows he's funny and that the public generally likes his comedic persona, but let's face it: he's done one too many cross dressing skits than normal for anyone to ever think that he is normal. Generally he's just nervous about his Atheist ass being invited to a Very Christian Family's Very Christian Dinner.
That and the fact that they're both very gay for each other and Kyunghoon's family knows of this fact. Okay, and maybe he’s a little worried about how he doesn’t know how Christianity™ works and afraid it’ll be cult-ish or something.
Heechul exhales deeply, his cold breath forming a cloud out of his mouth. He tightens his hand on the paper bag with wine inside, not really paying mind to anything else other than the road ahead of him. Just ignoring the nerves slowly creeping in.
'Hyung, I know you love me and all, but you're squeezing my hand too hard,' Kyunghoon's breathy chuckle untangles the strings of nerves on Heechul's arms and legs. This odd habit of his hands mirroring each other when he's taut gives his anxiety away, and he knows that Kyunghoon knows. Kyunghoon squeezes Heechul's hands back, eye-smile warming him up and dimples offering refuge.
What am I even nervous for? If Hooney's brother is anything like him, we'd get along just fine. And his mom is a sweetheart. And she said Kyunghoon takes after his dad. Everthing will be just fine. I have Kyunghoon with me, I'll get through tonight just fine.
'Why are you even ringing the doorbell? You live here in case you forgot????' sometimes Heechul can't help himself from clowning his boyfriend, it's a definitive relationship trait. It's what keeps their relationship healthy, you see.
'My mom told me to do it so she'll know we're here. She wanted to greet us at the door or something, just humor her okay. I think it's very cute,' Kyunghoon had that endearing look on his face that was reserved only for people he genuinely cared about. His family, Heechul, his small group of friends who he has known for about fifteen years now, the ones he always went to karaoke with.
'Hooney, Heechul, you're here! Come in, it's freezing out here. We're about to hand out presents the neighbors kids. Your brother arrived a few hours ago too. He was looking for you.' They were both ushered inside, the floor heating giving a warm welcome to their socked feet. He noticed they Kyunghoon didn't wear slippers when he entered the threshold and he just followed suit. 'I'm just going to go and help out your Dad in the kitchen okay. Dinner will be ready in a few. Feel at home Heechul, it's nice to see you again.'
Heechul finally got to relax a bit, Kyunghoon's mom reminding him that their family is every bit of sweet that his boyfriend also is. They settle on the couch in front of the tv, where the kids are huddled together hugging various toys while watching a rerun of Home Alone. 'I remember a few Christmases ago, my noona and I watched this movie too. She was pregnant then and I was just absentmindedly petting Heebum then. Now she has an annoyingly cute kid and I have you,' he whispered, trying not to make too much noise so they wouldn't disturb the kids who had their eyes glued to the screen. Kyunghoon scooted closer to Heechul, looking very much like a younger version of himself, surrounded by the things that made up his childhood.
The ending credits of the movie began rolling and the children got up and left for the kitchen in search for cookies and milk. Kyunghoon looked up from where he leaned his head, on Heechul’s shoulder, gazing upon his boyfriend’s soft sleeping form. Kyunghoon grabbed a thick, woolly blanket and draped it over both their legs, his knees accidentally bumping the other. Heechul suddently sat up, still disoriented, looking at his unfamiliar surroundings before focusing on Kyunghoon’s face. A soft smile on his face, he closed his eyes and moved his head from side to side to stretch his neck. ‘Dinner isn’t ready yet, hyung. You can still go back to sleep, I know you’re still tired from your schedule earlier. Just rest, okay?’
‘But I want to spend time with you, and I’m not tired anymore I’m recharged!’ he draped himself over Kyunghoon, eyes forming crescents, their faces only inches apart.
‘Fine, I want to show you something. Just let me grab it.’ Kyunghoon brought back a rather heavy looking photo album covered with faded power rangers stickers. ‘You know I’m the Red Ranger right?’ Heechul’s head whipped around to face Kyunghoon, raising a perfectly shaped eyebrow, a challenge. ‘I know hyung,’ he whispered, ‘my ass won’t look half as good as yours in shiny red tights.’ They went through the pages and Heechul obnoxiously laughed at every single nerdy picture he saw, especially at Kyunghoon’s oval specs and point hairdo. He also very audibly cooed at all of his boyfriend’s toddler photos. His favorite one was where baby Kyunghoon was clad in nothing but diapers and a red dark green and red beanie with matching dark sunglasses that are way too big for his face.
A little while later, after going through four photo albums, Kyunghoon’s brother called both of them because dinner was ready . Heechul was a little taken a back because woah, when did his brother arrive or was he already here since earlier and uhhh, he looks so much like Kyunghoon but how is his face so differently structured. All of Kyunghoon’s soft features look angled on his brother’s face.
They sat next to each other on one side of the dining table, Kyunghoon’s parents in front of them, and his brother beside Heechul, at the head of the table. Kyunghoon was chatting with his brother, about that one game that he was still trying to finish up to the final stage and how he wanted to desperately finish it because he promised he was going to take himself camping afterwards. 'Would you take me camping with Hooney?' Heechul interjected. 'That's not even a question, hyung. Of course your're coming with me,' Kyunghoon replied with a small smile.
Kyunghoon's dad cleared his throat and extended both of his hands, waiting for the others to do the same. Heechul had a confused look on his face and it took him a few seconds to process that he will have to cave into Christian (cult)practices and actually hold hands with Kyunghoon's brother. Kyunghoon reached for his hand and held it tightly, before reaching to hold his mother's hand. Heechul was a bit taken aback and actually jumped on his seat a little bit when Kyunghoon's brother reached out for his hand first, offering him a smirk, clearly aware of his distress with the situation. They all closed their eyes save for Heechul who didn't really know what to do except stare at their faces as Kyunghoon’s brother droned on about the graces they received, thanking the Lord for various things like their dad’s promotion and his safe flight home for the holidays. Heechul droned out what what he was saying, focusing loosely on the stoic faces and closed eyes in front of him. He wasn’t really paying attention when he noticed Kyunghoon’s ears turning a bright shade of pink, not even fighting the smile on his equally pink lips.
‘—for having Heechul here with us. I’ve never seen my brother happier, Lord. We hope he’ll be with us here next Christmas. Amen.’ Heechul only zoned in on the last part, but the blush across his cheeks spread as if on cue. He isn’t even shy, but all he wanted to do was bury his face in his palms(or maybe Kyunghoon’s neck, clearly preferable). He suddenly found several pairs of eyes focused on him, opened as the prayer ended. They ate and ate and basked in familial banter, not cult-ish at all.
The door’s lock just clicked open when his cellphone rang. Heechul hung his coat and scarf, and answered the call.
’Hyung, did you arrive yet?’ Kyunghoon asked, over the static.
’I just got in, thank you for tonight, Hooney,’ he sat down on the couch, a sleepy Heebum settling down on his lap, dozing off a few seconds later. ‘thanks for today. I must admit I had fun and your brother is definitely not a mythical creature.’
‘What was that, hyung?’
‘Hahahaha, nothing. Just... Thank you for tonight. You don’t know how nervous I’ve been and how relieved I am now. I love you, don’t forget, nerd.’
‘I love you too, hyung. I’ll hang up now. See you tomorrow.’
Heechul could still hear Kyunghoon yawn before the line cut off. He picked Heebum up with one arm and placed her on the cat bed. He beelined for the bathroom, eager to get some sleep since he still has a shooting schedule tomorrow. Slipping into his pajamas, he was thinking to himself how he can’t wait to spend time with Kyunghoon’s family over the next holiday break, and maybe without the feeling of unwarranted unease and actually celebrating.
His thoughts were cut short by a ping of his phone.
“I know we agreed on no Christmas gifts hyung, but I left something on your coat pocket. Love you x,” the text read.
Heechul walked back to his coat rack and checked all the pockets of his coat, almost missing the folded piece of paper that he thought was a convenience store receipt.
I’ve always prayed for a person in my life who’d love me for me. A person who I can pour all my love to without worrying about emptying myself, and you fill me with your care and love the same way I do, you.
I’ve found you and you found me.
Wanna stay and move in with me?