Sometimes Wonwoo believes that there were people put on this earth specifically to make his left eye twitch.
Kim Mingyu is most definitely one of those people.
In fact, Mingyu may be the person put on earth to cause Wonwoo grief. The two of them have never gotten along, not even for a second since they met, and they are, as far as Wonwoo is concerned, sworn enemies. They only spend time in the same damn building because they have to for work, and every time they've been assigned to a project together—something that has mercifully only happened three times—Wonwoo has to remind himself, repeatedly, of both the juridical and personal consequences of murdering another human being.
So, you can imagine Wonwoo’s surprise when, on a regular Wednesday morning, Wonwoo is making a cup of tea in the office break room and the door slams open against the wall and a heaving, sweaty, panicked Mingyu busts through the doorway and shouts, “YOU NEED TO COME WITH ME RIGHT NOW AND PRETEND TO BE MY BOYFRIEND.”
Instinctively, Wonwoo raises his hands in surrender.
Mingyu waves a hand, and bends over to catch his breath.
“I’m sorry,” Wonwoo says, running the tape back in his mind, “what did you just say?”
“I need you,” Mingyu repeats, gasping for air as he points at Wonwoo, “to pretend to be my boyfriend.”
There’s a pause, and then Wonwoo bursts into laughter. “I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do with that,” he informs the younger, “but right off the bat, let me remind you that you are straight.”
Mingyu stands up to his full height, and gives Wonwoo a very slow, very skeptical once-over.
“I am at least as gay as you are,” he declares.
Surprised, Wonwoo squints back.
“That would be…” Wonwoo responds, not moving a muscle, “…extremely gay.”
Mingyu inclines his head slowly, like this checks out.
For a long moment, the two of them just stare each other down like they’re about to duel.
Mingyu breaks their stand-off. “Excellent!” he announces, ignoring the fact that they’ve just come out to each other in the fucking break room. “Let’s go.” He strides forward, grabs Wonwoo by the arm, and drags him out of the room and down the hallway.
“Whoa, whoa! Where are we going?” Wonwoo tries to break free, but Mingyu is apparently as strong as his enormous frame suggests. “Where are you taking me?!”
Mingyu answers, “To meet my parents.”
What? “You’re serious about this?” Wonwoo sputters.
“My parents are here,” Mingyu says. “They believe that I have a boyfriend. They believe that that boyfriend is here. And they are not leaving until they meet him.”
Wonwoo slaps ineffectually at Mingyu’s viselike grip. “What are we, in a rom-com? Why am I involved in this?!” A terrible thought occurs to him. “Wait! Do they know you’re gay?”
“My parents know that I like men, and they do not care,” Mingyu says, leading them around a corner. “They care that I am a responsible adult with a job who can hold down a relationship with another responsible adult with a job.”
Wonwoo rolls his eyes at Mingyu’s recitation.
“They care so much, in fact,” Mingyu grimaces, “that every week when my mom calls to see how I’m doing, she asks me if I’ve found someone yet. So two months ago when I couldn’t take it anymore, I made up an imaginary boyfriend to get her off my back.” They pass by the copy room, where Soonyoung is, inexplicably, repeatedly and angrily kicking the copy machine. “Well, guess what? My brilliant plan backfired. Now every week when she calls, she wants an update about my made-up relationship.”
“Classic mom trap.” Wonwoo shakes his head. “You walked right into that one.”
“Well I know that now,” Mingyu huffs. “For two months now I’ve just been hinting vaguely at this guy, not even giving her a name, avoiding talking about it— until I came up with a plan to fix it, which I did, for your information. I’ve been hinting at relationship problems for the past couple weeks so that next week I could tell her we broke up and it would be believable.” Actually, that plan is a lot smarter than Wonwoo’s ever given Mingyu credit for.
Mingyu drags Wonwoo into his swanky office in management, where he slams shut his laptop and grabs his phone and wallet, all while keeping his hold on Wonwoo’s arm intact. “Great plan, right?” Mingyu prompts, shoving a ring of keys into his back pocket.
“Sure,” Wonwoo says. “Except…”
“Except that they chose this week, this week, for a surprise visit.” Mingyu leads Wonwoo back out of his office. “And I told them I met this guy at work, so since they’re here, and they want to meet my mystery boyfriend.” Mingyu’s hold on Wonwoo’s arm is tight enough to practically cut off his circulation.
“Yes, but there are twelve people in this office besides you,” Wonwoo frantically reminds him. “Why me?!”
Mingyu sighs, and halts, rounding on Wonwoo. Wonwoo skids to a stop just shy of slamming into Mingyu’s front.
“Because you are the closest to the imaginary person that I’ve been telling them about,” says Mingyu.
Wonwoo’s left eye twitches.
“I told them that the guy and I work together,” Mingyu elaborates, “and that we’re around the same age, and that he likes books.”
“That is literally every person at this office,” Wonwoo complains. Everyone except maybe Chan the intern, who Wonwoo thinks may not even be old enough to buy cigarettes. “We are a publishing house.”
“And he has to be in editing,” Mingyu adds. “They asked what he did in the office, so I said editing cause it sounded real.”
“Editing is real,” Wonwoo gripes. “And there are still two other people in editing besides me.”
“And he has to have dark hair.”
”’Dark hair’?” Wonwoo repeats, incredulous.
“They asked what he looked like, so I said dark hair!” Mingyu throws his hands up. “What was I supposed to do?”
It’s true that there are two other editors, Jeonghan and Junhui, but Jeonghan’s hair is currently a shimmering violety-silver, while Junhui’s is a dirty blonde. Simply by process of elimination, the dark-haired mystery boyfriend from editing has to be Wonwoo.
“You weren’t kidding about being vague,” Wonwoo criticizes. “What else did you tell your parents? That this guy was a ‘person’? That he drinks beverages and eats food?”
Mingyu rolls his eyes.
“Look, you’ve lied this far,” Wonwoo tries. “Just grab Jeonghan, say he changed his hair, and leave me out of it.”
“Too late.” Mingyu grabs Wonwoo by the bicep once again and drags him to the elevator bank. He jabs the down button aggressively. “He’s not my type anyway,” Mingyu continues, and Wonwoo doesn’t even have time to get into that. “My parents would never believe it. Come on, we’re doing this.”
“You know we’re mortal enemies, right?” Wonwoo says, giving up on nuance. “I have absolutely no motivation to help you.”
The elevator to their far right dings and opens.
Mingyu doesn’t move towards it. Instead, he leans in close to Wonwoo.
“If you don’t help me,” he says, “then Seungcheol will find out who really smashed his headphones.”
Wonwoo inhales sharply.
“You wouldn’t,” he hisses. “You know it was an accident. And—and you were there too. You’re partly responsible.”
“I don’t care,” Mingyu says, eyes wild and unblinking. “I’ll go down with you.”
He can’t be serious. Those headphones are the stuff of office yore. Their boss Seungcheol has never found the person who did it, but he has vowed to decimate whoever’s guilty in the same manner in which the headphones were decimated. Wonwoo has never once doubted that threat. He swears that Seungcheol has looked at them all differently since they were destroyed— he’s watched them more closely, more suspiciously.
Wonwoo thinks of having to pretend to be Mingyu’s boyfriend for what will hopefully be a few uncomfortable minutes, and then he thinks of how Seungcheol honest to god flipped a table when he found out about his headphones.
It was a very small side table, but still.
Wonwoo chooses to live, however unpleasant that option might currently be.
“Come meet my fucking parents,” Mingyu whispers, eyes terrifyingly empty.
“Fine,” Wonwoo grits out.
“Great,” Mingyu says, snapping out of his trance and going back to looking like a normal person. He pushes Wonwoo into the open elevator.
“Okay. So.” The doors close, and Mingyu hits the button for the ground floor. “I’ll introduce you. They’re going to want to take you out, probably for lunch. They’ll pretend like it’s only gonna be the one meal, but I’m not falling for that one twice. If I agree to one lunch, then we’ll be having every meal with them until they leave. We can’t give in to them, Wonwoo.” His expression is frenzied. “We cannot.”
“Jesus. Okay,” Wonwoo says. “Look, there’s an easy solution to all of this. We’ll meet them, talk for a second, and then I’m gonna say I have to get back to work. And then, we just gotta make sure they can’t get a hold of me for the rest of their trip. After, you can tell them we broke up because I was too busy for you and a terrible boyfriend, or whatever.”
Mingyu looks slightly assuaged. He swipes at the sweat on his forehead, and pushes his hair back into place. Infuriatingly, he's back to looking pulled-together, and not like the sweaty mess he was in the break room, in only a moment. “What’s your excuse for not going to lunch?”
Wonwoo thinks. “I already took my lunch break,” he suggests. Mingyu nods.
“Watch out though,” the younger adds ominously. “They can get tricky. Reeeaaaal tricky.” He sounds like he’s in the middle of a flashback. “Be very careful.”
“Oh…kay…” Wonwoo says, feeling instant regret. He thinks back to his abandoned tea in the break room sadly.
The elevator stops moving and dings again, doors opening, and Mingyu all but shoves Wonwoo out into the lobby.
Wonwoo spots two people who must be Mingyu’s mother and father standing by the glass doors, a man and woman who look a bit older than middle-aged. When they catch sight of Wonwoo and Mingyu, they both brighten.
“Ready?” Mingyu asks, though of course he doesn’t wait for an answer. He’s got his hands clamped around Wonwoo’s shoulders as they approach Mingyu’s parents, pushing Wonwoo forward like he’s presenting the older as a gift.
“Mom, Dad,” Mingyu says when they’re standing before the couple, his low voice smoothing out of its previous franticness, “this is my boyfriend, Wonwoo.”
For a moment, Mingyu’s parents say nothing. Then, they appear to explode with happiness.
“Wonwoo!” The man says. “Nice to meet you!”
The woman goes to shake his hand. “Oh wow, hi!”
“So this is where you’ve been hiding him?” Mingyu’s dad jokes, and Mingyu blushes. Mingyu’s mom is holding onto her handshake with Wonwoo for a much longer time than is considered normal.
“I know it’s silly,” she laughs as she continues to hold Wonwoo’s hand hostage, “but Mingyu is so evasive, that we were worried you weren’t real!”
“Well, I am,” Wonwoo says stiffly. “…Real.”
“HA HA,” Mingyu laughs, “HE’S REAL.”
Mingyu’s parents, thankfully, don’t seem to notice the shitshow. “Wonwoo! Wonwoo, right?” Mingyu’s mom checks, and Wonwoo nods. She finally lets go of his hand. “What do you say we all go out to lunch together? Our treat! So we can talk and get to know each other!”
“Oh, no,” Wonwoo blunders. “Uh, I can’t. Go. I’m busy.” He shoots Mingyu a glance. Back me up here.
“He really can’t, Mom,” Mingyu jumps in. “He already took his lunch break, and he has to get back to work. He shouldn’t even be downstairs with us right now, honestly.”
“Oh, but this is a special occasion!” Mingyu’s mom pouts. “We need to spend some time with Wonwoo! We heard he’s very special,” she says to Mingyu, making him blush deeper.
“Mom,” he whines, but his father cuts him off.
“Mingyu,” he chastises, “let Wonwoo decide for himself.”
Suddenly, Wonwoo finds himself on the business end of very direct eye contact coming from Mingyu’s mom. “Wonwoo,” she says sternly. And oh, oh no. Wonwoo begins to feel the pull of Mom Guilt. This is not good. “Come out to lunch with us.”
Mingyu’s dad stares him down too, and oh, this is really bad. Mingyu’s dad is tall like his son, maybe even a little taller, and it is very intimidating. “Come to lunch with us,” he echoes gravely.
“Just for a little while,” Mingyu’s mom says entrancingly.
Wonwoo’s eyes flit between their twin stares.
“Okay,” he caves.
“Great!” Mingyu’s parents both break from their spell. Wonwoo is reminded of Mingyu minutes ago, extracting promises from Wonwoo and then going back to normal once he got them. “Mingyu,” says his mom, “why don’t you pick the restaurant? You know the area. We’ll go get the car and meet you boys outside in ten.”
They disappear out the front doors.
Wonwoo stares blankly at the spot where they were standing.
“Hello? Hello!” Mingyu’s hand waves in front of Wonwoo’s face. Wonwoo blinks. “Hello? What was that?!” Mingyu looks ready to pull his hair out. “I thought we said no meals! No lunches! That we'd turn them down! It was your plan!”
Wonwoo gestures helplessly. “What do you want me to do? They were so convincing, it was like they hypnotized me or something! You didn’t warn me they were sorcerers!”
Mingyu takes a very deep breath in, and then a long exhale out.
“Fine,” he mutters. “Whatever. It’ll be fine. Just, be cool, and we’ll go get this over with.” He raises his eyes to the ceiling like he’s praying. “One lunch can’t be that bad.”
Oh, how Wonwoo hopes he is right.