Summary: Kim Jaejoong has been friends with Go Ara for years. This doesn't stop him from having an affair with her husband.
A/N: This is an experiment in writing present tense. Unbetaed. Please excuse any tense weirdness.
The thing about Go Ara is that she's nice. She's not a bad mother. She's not negligent. She doesn't ignore her children. She's not a terrible wife. She didn't marry for money. She didn't marry for social status. She's not inattentive to her husband despite her demanding career.
Jaejoong wouldn't feel as guilty about what he's doing if she was any of of those things, if she was just one of those things. But she's not and Jaejoong is a terrible friend. Yes, friend. Before whatever else he is to her and her family, Jaejoong is Ara's friend and has been for years. These are the thoughts that keep him awake the nights he spends with her husband.
Jaejoong remembers when Ara married Yunho. She had been at the height of her modeling career and just starting out as an actress. Jaejoong had teased her about becoming boring now that she was getting married and jokingly asked whether she was prepared to defend her unsuspecting new husband from her crazy fans. She'd smacked him.
News of her marriage had not taken over national headlines but there had been a few articles in some of the magazines his sisters brought home and the Go Ara fan sites had been flooded with the news. And pictures. There were a lot of pictures. Jaejoong liked to scroll through the galleries to see if he could spot himself. He also looked for any comments he could use to prove he was right about Ara's fans. To his surprise, there had been little negative commentary. The general consensus had been and still was that Go Ara and Jung Yunho made a perfect couple.
News of her pregnancies and the birth of her two children, a girl and then a boy two years later, had brought similar sentiments with only a few news agencies speculating as to whether or not Ara was giving up her career to raise her children. The answer was no.
After three years of being a part-time model, part-time stay at home mother and taking a few secondary roles in low profile dramas, Ara became a full time actress. But before she did that she wanted to make sure there was someone she trusted looking after her family when she couldn't.
Jaejoong thinks this was the first mistake. He should have refused her but he had just graduated, hadn't yet found a job (not that he actually needed one, his parents all too willing to supply him with necessary, and unnecessary, funds), and he really didn't have anything better to do.
They meet at Jaejoong's parents' house. Ara's no Kim Taehee but she's famous enough to attract a decent sized crowd if they meet in public. The last thing either of them wants are more rumors speculating as to 'the true nature of their relationship.' The ones already floating around are more than enough.
Also, because Ara maybe missed Mr. and Mrs. Kim. This exasperates Jaejoong. Sometimes he swears Ara is only friends with him so she can reap the benefits of his overprotective, smothering family. As if she did not already get enough attention from her own parents.
“Did you decide yet?” she asks when they finally escape his mother, the woman having interrogated Ara on every aspect of her life after marriage.
“Noona,” Jaejoong begins.
“No, no, no,” Ara shakes shakes her head and waves open palmed hands back and forth in front of her face. “You only call me noona when you're about to tell me something I don't want to hear.”
Jaejoong frowns. He doesn't think that's true.
“You do. You're very disrespectful.”
He is not. He should tell her no on principle, just for that. “Noona,” he starts again.
Ara clasps his hands in hers. “Don't say no,” she pleads. “Please, you can't say no.”
Jaejoong shakes her hands off his and tucks them under his arms. “I can say no if I want to. It's weird.”
“It's not weird at all,” she protests.
“Wanting a man who is not your husband to take care of your kids is weird.”
“No it's not. And you're not a man. You're my Jae.”
“You're welcome. Besides, every married woman with children would hire a man to take care of them if she could. Please? Help me. I don't want some some strange woman around Yunho when I'm not there. What if she tries something?”
Jaejoong is certain she's just paranoid but from what he's seen of his sisters he's also certain her behavior is typical. Anyways, he's doesn't actually have any intention of refusing her. He's already decided to help her. He doesn't trust that Jung Yunho.
“Jae, I'll pay you,” she pleads. “Whatever you want, I'll get it for you.”
“Anything,” she shakes her head yes.
Jaejoong thinks he should put her out of her misery soon. He is beginning to feel embarrassed for her. She's already twenty-six, married, and has two children. She shouldn't still be acting like this.
“Okay, I'll do it,” he agrees.
“Really. After all, I am obviously the best person for the job. And you don't have to pay me.” He scrunches his nose in distaste. “We're friends and I hardly need the money.”
Ara flings her arms around Jaejoong's neck and pulls him in to her chest in a tight embrace. “Thank you you, thank you, thank you!”
Jaejoong reaches behind his head and tries to tug her arms away, sighing when they don't budge. “You better explain to my girlfriend why I'm taking care of another woman's children.”
“I will, I will,” she promises. When can you start?”
Jaejoong don't know that “When can you start?” actually meant “When can you move in?” He almost takes it all back then. He doesn't want to live in Jung's house. Why can't he just look after the kids at his parents' place. He's being irrational, a fact he reluctantly agrees with when Ara points it out. Of course he can't take them away from their father and why would he want to.
Ara asks this last question rather curiously. Jaejoong never told her how he felt about her husband. It was entirely irrational considering he only met the man a handful of times and barely knows him. When Jaejoong finally does get to know Yunho he finds that he likes him. He's... nice, even if he does frighten Jaejoong a little at first.
“Ah, Yunho-ssi,” Jaejoong says nervously. “Are you really okay with this?” Jaejoong is going to kill Ara. If she's going to force him to move in with her husband, who is little more than a stranger to Jaejoong, she should at least have the decency to explain the situation to the man. Jung is looking at him like he's some kind of crazy person. And why shouldn't he? Jaejoong would probably react the same way if someone showed up at his apartment with all their stuff. “Didn't Ara tell you..” he trails off.
Jung doesn't look happy to have Jaejoong standing in his entry hall. Jaejoong pales and looks down at his shoes. Forget killing Ara. He is going to string her up by her thumbs and torture her. That crazy woman. How could she do this to him.
He flinches at the sound of his name. Jung doesn't sound too happy to have him there either. “Ah, y-yes?” He stutters without looking up and curses himself for the stutter. But he can't help it. The other man is making him nervous. Jaejoong is too young to die or go to prison.
“What are you doing here with all of... this?” Jung gestures at Jaejoong's various bags.
Jaejoong lets out a low distressed whine. He is definitely going to kill Ara. She will never see the light of day again. She promised him she had talked to Jung and that he was alright with everything. Witch. Lying witch. Jung clearly had no idea what Jaejoong was doing there. “Noona was supposed to tell you.”
“That she asked you to move in to help look after this the kids and ward of the temptresses lurking in every corner when she's away.”
Jaejoong's head snaps up, eyes wide, staring frantically. He shakes his head furiously. Crazy woman. Did she actually say that to him? “No, no, that's not it. She's just...”
What can Jaejoong say to that. It's the truth. He bites his lower lip.
Jung laughs. “I'm just joking. Of course Ara told me you were coming. Come on. I'll help you carry your stuff up to your room.” He moves to collect the largest of Jaejoong's luggage. “And don't be so formal. Just call me hyung. Okay?”
Joke? Hyung? Well, that's... fuck. Jaejoong thinks he might actually like Jung.
Jaejoong thinks this was the second mistake. He and Yunho become friends. With Ara frequently traveling to filming locations and photo shoots, Jaejoong ends up spending a lot of time with Yunho. This surprises him at first. He expected Yunho would be one of those fathers who spend most of their time working and less than too little with their children. He was wrong.
They take the kids to school in the mornings, although Jaejoong picks them up alone in the afternoons. They take the kids to the park. They take the kids to the movies. They take take the kids to play dates. They all watch silly children's shows together, Jiwoo is in love with Pororo. Yunho sits in the kitchen when Jaejoong prepares meals.
And they talk. About everything.
They talk about their hobbies. Yunho likes dancing and football. They talk about their annoying sisters. Yunho has one to Jaejoong's eight. He's very sympathetic to Jaejoong's childhood. They talk about their friends. Jaejoong thinks he would probably really like Junsu and Changmin. Yunho feels the same about Yoochun. They talk about Jaejoong's girlfriend. Does he like her enough to marry her?
When Ara is home, nothing is awkward. It's like the three of them are best friends. And when Ara isn't there, they don't talk about her. Neither of them notices this until it's too late. Maybe if they had talked about her things would be different. But they're not. And when the first incident happens, Jaejoong brushes it off as drunken nonsense.
Until Yoochun tells him differently.
“When you say you kissed him, what exactly do you mean?” Yoochun asks.
They're in a small cafe near the university, the easiest place for them to meet up during the week when Yoochun still has classes to attend. Jaejoong takes a sip of his drink. “I mean I kissed him.”
“It's weird, hyung.”
“We were drinking,” Jaejoong defends himself.
“It's still weird, hyung.”
“You do weird stuff all the time when you drink.” Jaejoong had seen Yoochun do everything from stripping in public to singing Candy to the tune of Gee.
“Not weird like that. I never kissed a man because I was drunk.” Jaejoong wants to slap him. “Do you like him?” Then he wants to lean across the table and hug him.
Only Yoochun. Any of their other friends would have freaked out if Jaejoong admitted to kissing a man. Yoochun just asks if he likes him. “Yeah, I think I like him.”
“What about Hyeyoung?”
Out of everything about the situation, Jaejoong regrets Hyeyoung the most. She didn't deserve what he did to her.
Jaejoong is too ashamed to face her so he breaks up with her over the phone. Well, it was technically over the phone. He can't find the courage to call her so he does it through SMS. Three words.
'Let's break up.'
He feels like an asshole but at the time it's the best he feels he can do for her. He never explains why he wants to break up because he never speaks to her again. He ignores her calls, doesn't answer her messages, avoids their mutual friends, and pretends to be upset with his family whenever they ask him about the break up. He's their son and brother and Hyeyoung is not actually family. They should be on his side, no matter what happened between the two of them.
Years from now, Jaejoong will run into Hyeyoung on his way back from Japan. They will agree to meet for coffee. He will find out she is happily married with a child of her own. He will tell her about Yunho and beg for forgiveness. She will be shocked, angry, and disappointed. Eventually, they will find their way back to something that's not quite friendship but Jaejoong will feel like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.
Until then, he carries the guilt. When he's happy, when he's sad, when he thinks he can't be more in love, when he thinks he's made the worst mistake of his life, he carries the guilt.
And for a while, he carries the anger as well. Anger that he broke up with Hyeyoung but Yunho has no intention of telling Ara any time soon, if ever.
Jaejoong is stupid, an idiot of the highest caliber. He feels like one of those women in the dramas who sleep with the rich, handsome business man only to find out he isn't leaving his wife. “You're really not going to tell her?”
“I'll tell her.”
“I don't know.”
Jaejoong is stupid. But he doesn't cry about it. They've been doing this for a year. It's too late to cry.
After that it's like they're strangers.
Yunho drops the kids off at school and Jaejoong picks them up. Yunho takes them to the park on Sundays and Thursdays. Jaejoong takes them to the movies on Saturdays. Yunho works in his study while Jaejoong watches Pororo. Jaejoong cooks alone.
They don't talk.
Jaejoong would quit if he hadn't promised Ara he would do this and he has no reason to give her for stopping. That makes him laugh bitterly. If she knew what he'd done she would throw him out herself.
It stays this way for weeks until Yunho breaks. He comes home early one afternoon and hands Jaejoong a manilla envelope.
“What is this?”
“Open it,” is the only answer Jaejoong gets.
Jaejoong pulls out stack of papers. He reads, closes is eyes, opens them and reads again. The words don't change.
“I had my lawyer fax them to her this morning.”
He faxed them. Yunho is no better at the breakup business than Jaejoong is. In fact, Jaejoong is certain that he is much, much worse. He knows he'll feel sorry to Ara in the future but right now he doesn't care. He doesn't know what will happen with Ara, or his family, or the kids, or the public. They've been selfish, so selfish and they'll continue to be selfish as it tears apart the people around them.
Jaejoong knows he would do it all over again.