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: For everyone who's still confused there are notes at the end concerning the state of male omegas in the universe.
Previous - Prologue - 1 - 2
Yoochun worried about Jaejoong constantly. When they were kids he'd worried that Jaejoong didn't get out to play enough. When they were teenagers he'd worried that Jaejoong got out too much. When he'd gone overseas for high school he'd stayed up late every night so that when he called, Jaejoong would already be awake. When he'd returned to Korea he'd begged his parents to get him the same university tutor so he could spend more time with Jaejoong.
All of this was okay because Jaejoong worried about Yoochun just as much. When Yoochun had called him one night crying, Jaejoong had almost gotten on a plane to fly to the United States. He would have made it too if his eldest sister's husband hadn't been on his way back from a business trip and caught him at the airport. America may have been friendlier towards male omegas on the surface but it had its dark spaces. Some men were the same no matter which country they came from.
A month into his first school year in America, Yoochun had found himself shoved against a locker with another boy pressed up against his back. The boy's friends had stood around them laughing while he'd whispered filthy things in Yoochun's ear. He'd called him a geisha like it was something dirty. The insult was the same one Yoochun had been hearing for most of his life even if the words were different. The boy had said geisha but what he meant was whore.
Yoochun had faked sick for a week and begged his parents to send him home, without telling them why. They'd moved so could have abetter life, a happier life. How could he tell them they'd done it in vain. He'd rather have stayed in Korea, at least the monsters there were recognizable. They didn't hide behind a curtain of tolerance. Yoochun didn't have to wonder who was smiling to his face while sneering behind his back. They wore their disgust on their faces for everyone to see.
He'd told his parents he missed Jaejoong to much to stay. If they'd let him go home he would've moved in with the Kims. They would have taken him in without a second thought. His parents had refused him. They'd said it do he and Jaejoong some good to spend some time apart.
When he'd been forced to return to school Yoochun had been relieved to find that those boys had been the minority. Most of the people who smiled at him were really just smiling at him. He'd befriended a group of student activists and had been safe within their ranks. He'd never had another encounter like that first one again.
If he'd known what he would be returning to when he finally came home he would have tried harder to leave that first week.
Jaejoong was different. He had never gotten a hint of that change when they spoke on the phone, Jaejoong sounded exactly the same, but it was as clear as daylight seeing him in person.
Jaejoong smiled to himself more often and when he thought no one could see him he'd stretch an arm behind his back and rub at the same spot. He was less vocal about how his parents were holding him prisoner and seemed mostly content to spend his time at home. He was mellower. And it had all gotten worse in the last two weeks. Whenever Yoochun asked him if he was alright, Jaejoong would smile and say he was perfect.
Well, no more of that. Yoochun was going to get answers and he was going to get them today.
Yoochun toed of his shoes in the entryway of the Kim house and ran up to Jaejoong's room, waving at the maids as he passed by. He didn't need to greet anyone when he went there. Jaejoong's house was Yoochun's house. He pushed open the door to Jaejoong's bedroom and found the other boy lying on his bed listening to music. Yoochun knelt on the bed next to him and pulled the small ear buds out of Jaejoong's ears.
“Hi,” Jaejoong said, smiling up at him.
Yoochun pulled his legs out to sit cross-legged. “Don't 'hi' me,” he said scowling.
Jaejoong sat up quickly. “What's wrong?” he asked, eyes scanning Yoochun's face.
“What's wrong with you?” Yoochun asked back.
Jaejoong's face fell into a confused expression. 'Nothing's wrong with me.”
“Yes, there is. You've been all loopy for weeks?” Yoochun waved a hand in the air vaguely.
“Yes, loopy. You've been walking around like someone gave you all the good drugs.”
Jaejoong frowned. “I haven't.”
“You have,” Yoochun said.
Jaejoong started to reach one hand behind his back.
Yoochun grabbed it, halting it's movement. “And you're doing that all the time now.”
“Don't start with me. You know what,” Yoochun said.
Jaejoong tugged his arm free. “It's nothing,” he said.
Bullshit. “It's not nothing. You've been walking around floating on clouds and you're dad looks like someone is trying to kill him.” No, that wasn't quite right. “Like someone is trying to kill you.” The man had not been his regular self. Whenever Yoochun saw him, Jaejoong's father looked like he was fighting himself, one side ready to flee at the drop of a hat and the other preparing for certain death.
Jaejoong sucked his bottom lip in beneath his teeth.
Yoochun pulled it out. “Talk,” he said.
“Jaejoong!” Yoochun glanced worriedly at the hand moving behind Jaejoong's back again. “I'm really worried. Please tell me.”
Jaejoong was silent for a moment. “Okay,” he finally said. “I'll tell you.”
Yoochun sighed in relief. He and Jaejoong rarely didn't keep secrets from each other. Just this one. Jaejoong could pretend all he wanted that he wasn't hiding anything but Yoochun knew better than to believe it, knew Jaejoong better.
“Actually, I have to show you.” Jaejoong rose up on his knees and grabbed the bottom of his shirt. He hesitated before pulling it up over his head and turning so his back faced Yoochun.
Yoochun hadn't realized until that moment that it had been a long time since he'd seen Jaejoong with his shirt off. Before Yoochun had gone to America, naked Jaejoong had been a regular occurrence in his life. They'd slept in the same bed, They'd changed in the same room. They'd bathed together. When Yoochun moved back he'd just assumed that his best friend had grown prudish over the rest their teenage years. But Jaejoong only had a problem with things that required him to remove his shirt. He was almost militant about keeping his shirt on.
Staring at Jaejoong's back, Yoochun knew the reason why. There, between his best friend's shoulder blades was a scar. Rows of teeth marks formed two perfect crescent moons.
A claiming mark.
Yoochun carefully traced each small scar. Jaejoong arched his back away from the touch. “It sort of tickles,' he said. He pulled his shirt back down and turned around.
“Where did you...” Yoochun trailed off.
“A few year ago. Ahyoung and Sooyoung threw a party.”
“You went to a party?” Yoochun asked incredulously. “They took you to a party?”
“No. That had it here. Umma and appa were away,” Jaejoong said. “I stayed in here almost the entire time.”
“Then how did you get that?”
“There was this boy,” Jaejoong said biting his lower lip. “He smelled me.”
“Yeah." Jaejoong blushed. "He said I smelled pretty.”
“How did he smell you? You're soaked in beta scent.” Alphas had good noses but not that good. No one should have been able to smell Jaejoong through the artificial scent, especially not when he was in his room and they were an entire floor away. They shouldn't even have been able to do it if he was in heat.
Yoochun's eyes widened. Someone might have been able to do it if Jaejoong was in heat and that person – that boy, his mind filled in – had a particularly sensitive nose. But Jaejoong couldn't have been in heat. He’d been taking Anestra since he hit puberty, same as Yoochun.
“How did he smell you?” Yoochun asked again.
“Don't be mad at me,” Jaejoong said.
“Why would I be mad at you. Did you do something that would make me mad at you?” He didn't. He wouldn't have.
“I forgot to take my pill,” Jaejoong said.
Bull. Shit. “Not for thirty days you didn't forget.” An omega wouldn't go into heat after a few missed doses of Anestra. It took longer than that for the drug to work it's way out of the body, at least thirty days according to most studies, and then even longer for the body to regulate itself into a regular heat cycle. Jaejoong missed those doses on purpose. “Are you crazy?”
“I just wanted to know what it's like,” Jaejoong said softly.
“What were you thinking? Do you know how dangerous that is?”
“No one dies from heat anymore Chunnie. It's not the 1920s.”
Yoochun kicked him. His friend was stupid. He had a stupid friend. “Someone claimed you! How many people were here that day? How many alphas? Don't you know what could have happened to you?”
“They're not animals Yoochun. Alphas don't go around raping people.”
Not anymore. Not women. Yoochun kicked him again. “You have a claiming mark. Someone did rape you.”
“No, he didn't.”
“He didn't,” Jaejoong said.
“You let him?”
“No. He didn't get that far. Someone else-”
“Someone else?” Jaejoong had said boy. Singular. One. Not multiple persons.
“Yes. Someone else pulled him away.” Jaejoong sounded disappointed.
Yoochun nearly kicked him again.
“And it wouldn't have been rape,” Jaejoong said. “I would have let him. I told him yes.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because he's mine Chunnie.” Jaejoong smiled. “I could feel it when he touched me. He's mine.”
“Yes. It's like I could feel our souls touching. He's my match. He's perfect.”
Yoochun didn't know what to say to that. Jaejoong was telling him he'd found his perfect match, his soul mate. That was rare, so rare that most people didn't believe in it anymore. And why would they. Most men who'd found their perfect match in a male omega had firmly rejected the idea. Theoretically, an alpha or omega could bond with anyone.
“How can you be sure he's your match?”
“I can feel him here.” Jaejoong pressed a hand to his chest. “Not anything clear, just small impressions sometimes, but it's him.”
Yoochun felt the anger leave him. What was he supposed to do with that? If Jaejoong had really found his soul mate. then Yoochun would never be anything but happy for him. “Do you at least know his name?”
“It's Yunho,” Jaejoong answered.
Yunho. Yoochun didn't think they knew any Yunhos but Jaejoong's family would have met a lot of people while he'd been gone. He only knew of one Yunho and Jaejoong couldn't be talking about –
A/N: Thank you for all your comments! I'm sorry i don't respond more. It's the antisocial butterfly in me. I try to write more frequently instead.
Mini character note b/c it occurred to me that no one may realize it: Jihoon = Jung Jihoon = Bi Rain. Also the Kim Kibum referenced in Ch.1 would be Shinee's Almighty Key. I will work on character profiles for next time. This fic has a large cast. Mea culpa.
The low down on male omegas. In this universe there haven't always been alphas and omegas. They started showing up around the 1920s in response to a certain event in 1918 where approx. 5% of the world's population died. Handwavy psuedoscience is handwavy. (BTW it was the influenza pandemic for the non history/biology/medicine buffs). This means homophobia still developed pretty much as normal until then. Male omegas have it rougher than female alphas just because.
By the 21st century most countries fall into one of three groups regarding male omegas: 1) They're completely accepted. No one cares if you marry/bond with an omega/beta/alpha, male or female. It's all good. 2) They're conditionally accepted. It's okay if a male omega marries/bonds with a female alpha/beta. 3) They are not accepted at all.
South Korea falls somewhere in the realm of options 2 and 3 with the nobles leaning towards option 3. But social equality movements being what they are (except much more advanced than the real world), option 1 is much more popular on the world stage these days. It is not okay to be the country still sitting around in options 2 and 3 when it comes to dealing with certain foreign powers.