Summary: It's the twenty-first century and the royal family is an extension of a democratically elected government but that does not mean the Crown Prince can marry whomever he chooses. In a world with a rapidly changing social landscape Jung Yunho's marriage is used as an instrument to force social reform and Kim Jaejoong finds out that for someone like him, a rise in status comes great danger and intrigue.
A/N: I'm back! I had an awesome vacation. I no longer feel like I'm going to flip my shit on any of my coworkers. London was awesome!
Junsu was happy to be going home.
He was not happy to be packing. He huffed as he sat on his luggage and tried to pull the zip closed with no success.
But he was happy to be going home.
Not that his time in the military had been a terrible experience. It hadn’t been. He’d made some of the best friends he would ever have. He just missed his family. He felt left out when he wasn’t with them every day. He had called Junho and his parents as often as he could but it wasn’t the same as being at home.
Although, he felt lucky sometimes that he wasn’t around to watch the current family drama unfold.
According to Junho, their cousin Jaejoong was driving the entire family crazy with worry and their uncle was just driving their father plain crazy.
Junsu wasn’t looking forward to getting stuck in the middle of that. He wouldn’t be able to skirt around the edges of the issue and carry on with life as normal the way Junho could. Jaejoong’s problems inevitably always became Junsu’s problems. Either Jaejoong would rope Junsu into his nonsense or Yoochun would find a way to do it for him.
It was ridiculous. Junsu was not responsible for them. He had problems of his own to deal with without adding theirs to the pile as well. It was not Junsu’s fault that his aunt and uncle were overprotective. It was not Junsu’s fault that Yoochun’s family moved to America. It was not Junsu’s fault Jaejoong walked around like some sort of pod person half the time.
And so what if sometimes the most Junsu had to worry about was what he was going to do with his hair. He would like to have the time to worry about it instead of worrying about Jaejoong and Yoochun and their crazy. He’d been happy to leave for military service because it enabled him to get away from them, even if it was only two years. It was better than nothing.
Those two never bothered Junho the same way. Junsu thought it was because his twin was a beta, not an alpha like Junho. Junsu felt sorry for thinking that way sometimes. He didn’t like to give in to stereotypes. However any remorse he felt was usually wiped away by Jaejoong's and Yoochun's vehement protests. They would deny it until their dying breaths.
They were not ‘helpless omegas in need of an alpha take care of them. They were quite capable of taking care of themselves. Thank you very much. And Junsu should be nicer to his dongsaeng.’
Junsu would call bullshit but Yoochun would probably hit him for it. So mostly he just kept these thoughts to himself.
Yoochun hit hard.
Junsu scowled, giving up on getting his bag closed. Suddenly the idea of going home didn’t sound so appealing. He stood up and kicked the useless piece of luggage.
Maybe he could just become career military and avoid Jaejoong’s drama for the rest of his life.
His mother would kill him and if she didn’t he probably wouldn’t survive anyway. A little less than two years was one thing. Forever was quite another thing altogether.
“What’s with the face?”
Junsu looked up to see Yunho’s inquiring face. Yunho had finished packing hours ago. He’d tried to help Junsu at first but had given up expressing his incredulity at how Junsu had managed to accumulate so much shit.
And yes. His hyung had called it shit.
“Hyung, can I come live with you?”Junsu asked, only half not really meaning it. “I’m sure you’re family will like me. I’m very nice. Right hyung?”
“Sure,” Yunho said, crouching to help Junsu with the stubborn bag. He flipped the top half of the luggage open, shaking his head at the contents before starting to rearrange them. “You can meet Jihye. She’s never met you and she already loves you.”
Junsu frowned. Yunho had told him all about his sister over the last two years. Junsu might not be the most aggressive or authoritarian alpha around but that did not mean he wanted to marry another alpha and definitely not a member of the royal family. No offense to Yunho but his own family would kill him if he made them suffer under the scrutiny that came with being the in-laws of a princess.
“No thanks,” he said grimacing. “I will just suffer under the rule of my evil cousin and his eviler best friend.”
Yunho laughed. He pulled the top of the luggage shut again and easily closed the zipper joining the two halves.
Junsu wanted to kick him a little. His hyung should not be good at everything. It wasn’t right. How did he even know how to pack properly? Didn't his hyung have people whose jobs were to do that for him?
Yunho stood up. “The best friend you’re not in love with?”
Junsu wanted to kick him a lot. “I’m not in love with him hyung. And yes. That one.”
Junsu didn’t know how, when, or why but Yunho had gotten it into his head that Junsu was in love with Park Yoochun. (And hadn’t Junsu been surprised to find out that Yunho didn’t actually have a problem with gay people despite what the King felt about such people himself. Not that it mattered to Junsu. It didn’t. Because he was not gay. Or in love with Yoochun. He was not). When Junsu had denied it, Yunho had jokingly offered up his sister. Junsu’s horrified refusal to even meet Jihye had not helped to convince Yunho of his lack of romantic feelings for Yoochun.
Yunho grinned. “Of course you’re not.”
“Hyung, I’m not,” Junsu said firmly.
He most certainly did not know or he wouldn't keep bringing it up.
“Anyway, I’m sure it won’t be so bad to be back home.”
Junsu wasn’t holding his breath on that one. “You don’t know them. They’re awful hyung. They’re both totally innocent on the outside. All of my family adores them, even when they do wrong things. But once they get me alone they turn into these evil little monsters and I’m slave Junsu.”
Yunho laughed loudly at that. “They can’t be that bad.”
“You should let me meet them.”
Junsu let out a horrified gasp. “Never.” With Junsu’s luck they would turn his new best friend against him.
Besides, it would be hard to get Jaejoong anywhere near Yunho without disobeying every single one of his aunt’s and uncle’s rules.
“I don’t want you to meet them,” Junsu said. “And Jaejoong’s parents will never let you near him, prince or not.”
“Shame,” Yunho said. “I think they sound fun.”
‘Fun’ was not the word Junsu would use to describe either Jaejoong or Yoochun. It wasn’t among any of the words he would use.
These were better words. Much better.
“As the person who actually knows them, I’m telling you they are not fun. Forget everything people like to say about omegas being docile and obedient. They would eat you alive.”
Yunho hoped Junsu wouldn’t be too angry when he found out what was happening with Jaejoong and that Junsu would forgive him for feigning ignorance whenever he talked about his cousin.
Yunho had never had a friend like Junsu, someone who disregarded his status so thoroughly that Yunho felt he was actually a regular person instead of just playing the role of one.
Junsu treated him like he was a long lost friend. He teased him. He argued with him. He hugged him. He told Yunho when he was being stupid. He called Yunho hyung.
Yunho had friends who called him hyung but they only did it when he was around them. When they talked about him with other people he was “Prince Yunho.” When Junsu talked about him he was “my hyung.”
Maybe it was a little silly of Yunho to place such importance on something like that but it was an important distinction between Junsu and Yunho's other friends.
His father would probably think it was rude and disrespectful for Junsu not to use his title but for Yunho it was the thing that had cemented his emotional bond with the other man. He like being Yunho, hyung, instead of Yunho, wangseja. It was something he'd only ever had with Changmin.
It would feel like cutting out a piece of his heart if Junsu was too angry to forgive him for what he'd done and intended to do to Jaejoong. And Yunho recognized that their was something to be angry about. Changmin had made sure of that.
But what could Yunho do? He wouldn't marry Jaejoong.
Marriage wasn't the only solution. It may be the best solution to prove that his father was not a murderous tyrant. How could he be if he willingly accepted a male omega into his family, to marry his only son, the Crown Prince no less?
It may be the easiest solution to soothe the feathers that had been ruffled by his father's apparent support of a terrorist hate group, proving their country and it's people were accepting and progressive and not stuck in the Dark Ages.
But it wasn't best for Yunho. It was not easy for Yunho.
He was not Jihoon. He could not easily disregard everything he'd been taught to suit the whims of a group of politicians.
Just this once, Yunho would be selfish. He would do what he wanted to do instead of what it was dutiful to do.
And that was what he told his grandmother the first night he was home from military service.
He didn't seen his father.
He didn't go to his mother.
He brushed Jihye off when she had excitedly tried to welcome him home, regretful at the hurt look that had adorned her face.
He told Jihoon he would speak to him later.
He avoided Changmin.
He went home and requested a private conversation with his grandmother before he could even consider having a happy family reunion.
He told her that he couldn't marry Jaejoong, no wouldn't marry Jaejoong. That he knew what he had done to the boy had been the height of shame but he would pay restitution for it. That he would make sure Jaejoong was always taken care of. That the boy would want for nothing in life as long as Yunho lived.
“Except for you,” she said softly, gaze held unwaveringly on Yunho as he knelt before her.
Yunho had never seen the look she wore on her face in that moment. It held a mix of sadness and disappointment and a touch of what Yunho was certain was anger.
“He will want for noting in life as long as you live,” she echoed his words back to him. “Except for you. As long as he lives.”
“Halmeoni, he'll fall in love with someone else,” Yunho said.
His grandmother raised her eyebrows at him. “You acknowledge it then?” she asked. “That he is in love with you?”
Yunho bowed his head. “Yes.”
How could he not acknowledge it? He'd kept track of Jaejoong for the last five years. Had listened to reports of how the boy's face brightened whenever Yunho sent a gift only to darken when the gift was mistaken as intended for one of his sisters. He'd seen the pictures of the boy with wistful, longing gaze, a hand up the back of his shirt rubbing at the mark that had been left their. The mark Yunho had left there.
In love. Yunho acknowledged it.
“Do you think this is only about some political maneuver?” his grandmother asked.
He had thought that. Until she had just asked that question. “Halmeoni?”
“I want what is best for you,” she said. “Always. I have always done what is best for you. Do you think me heartless that I would use you so shamelessly?”
Yunho didn't have an answer for her. His grandmother was a pragmatic woman. But she had always been adoring when it came to their family. She cared more for them than she did for that fate of a country. Yunho had always attributed that to the omega in her.
But this was more than the fate of a country. This affected the fates of all the people of their country and what was the Queen Dowager if not the mother of the nation.
His grandmother sighed. She leaned forward and placed a hand on his cheek, rubbing gently. “You disappoint me child. Never before. But today you disappoint me.”
Yunho let out a broken sound, he grabbed her hand when she moved to pull it away.
“And what can I do?” she asked. “I will allow you to make your own mistakes.”
“Yunho held her hand tightly between his own. “It's not a mistake.”
“I am certain you think so.” She sighed again. “If you will not marry Jaejoong, you must tell him this yourself.”
Yunho let go of her hand. “Halmeoni!” he protested.
His grandmother raised her hand sharply, cutting off his objection. “I will not break his heart for you. You must do that on your own.”
Jaejoong slid to the floor against a wall in the small room, tucking his head down in between his knees. His body shook. Whether it shook with devastation or with fury he didn't know. Likely, it was both but he had no room in his body to think about it.
He'd never regretted his habit of eavesdropping on conversations he wasn't meant to hear until now. He had wanted to surprise Queen Sookyung (and sneak peaks at Yunho if he was honest with himself). They'd gotten along quite well over the past few months. So well that Jaejoong thought one day he would probably be closer to her than he was to his own grandmother.
But not if Yunho had his way.
Why was he doing this?
Jaejoong pounded a fist against his chest.
His heart hurt.
Don't cry, he told himself. Breathe deep. Don't cry.