“I would like your biggest scoop of chocolate ice cream, please, your sexiness.”
“Eric, I’ve already told you multiple times to please not call me that.” Regardless, Mr. Choi does plop a heaping scoop of ice cream into Eric’s plastic bowl, and Eric practically makes heart eyes at the math teacher.
“Why? It’s true.”
At Eric’s side, Sunwoo gags behind his hand. “Stop hitting on my brother, you fucking weirdo.” Eric winks at Mr. Choi, out of what seems like spite for Sunwoo. Mr. Choi blinks a few times, shocked, before glaring at Sunwoo.
“I can’t control him, I’m sorry, Chanhee. I really tried.” Sunwoo holds his hands up with a somewhat apologetic face.
Mr. Choi sighs. “You’re lucky that I won’t report you to your dad, Eric. He would take away your PS4 if he knew that you were winking at men twice your age.”
“But that’s the thrill of it, baby. No one has to know.” Eric leans on the table in an attempt to be seductive, but he’s thirteen and has no game, especially with Mr. Choi, who has walls built higher than Eric’s ego.
“Get out of here before I kick you out.”
Changmin can barely hold back his laughter as he moves on to the end of the line, where Juyeon looks like he’s going to have a mental breakdown over the very limited assortment of toppings. His eyebrows are furrowed, but his eyes are wider than the bowl in his hands, and if Changmin didn’t know better, he would’ve thought that tears would come bursting from his best friend’s eyes at any second.
“You doing okay, Ju?” Changmin sidles up to Juyeon’s side, and Juyeon doesn’t even spare him a glance, still fixated on the can of sprinkles.
“These sprinkles are from a horrible brand, but gummy bears on anything except for froyo is an atrocity. I could go topping-less, but I got vanilla with the intent of adding something on.” Juyeon replies, and Changmin won’t even question how Juyeon knows what brands of sprinkles are good. His sweet tooth is absolutely unmatched, so much so that Changmin usually ends up giving Juyeon half of his Halloween candy.
“Okay, ice cream connoisseur. Why not go with the syrups? I told my dad to get the flavors that you like.” Changmin personally doesn’t need to use any toppings when eating his ice cream, but he had remembered that Juyeon needed them when he was shopping with his dad last week.
“You’re right.” And Juyeon’s hand goes towards the tube of strawberry syrup without a second thought. “You can never go wrong with syrup.”
After Juyeon finishes drowning his ice cream in the sticky liquid, they go to find Haknyeon, who had arrived before the rest of them with his dad, Principal Lee. They do find him eventually, talking to a boy that neither Juyeon nor Changmin has seen before. Haknyeon catches sight of them and waves them over.
“Juyeon, Changmin, this is Kevin. He’s the son of the new vice principal. He came here from Canada.” Haknyeon introduces.
“It’s nice to meet you.” Kevin’s voice is soft, but Changmin can tell that it’s usually much louder than it is right now. Just by looking at him, Changmin can tell that he’s definitely gonna like Kevin a lot as a friend.
“It’s nice to meet you too, Kevin. I’m Juyeon, this is Changmin.” Changmin grins at Kevin when the other boy looks at him, and it’s returned with one of his own, albeit a little less energetic than Changmin’s own.
“So, what was Canada like? How long have you been in the States?” Changmin asks as soon as they sit down.
“It was nice, I guess. I don’t have much to compare it to. And I’ve been here for about two weeks? I kinda lost track of time, I’m gonna be honest.” Kevin replies sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. The ice cream in his bowl is light green, and Changmin prays that Eric won’t shit on his entire existence when he comes.
“You’ve only been here two weeks? Your dad was here last year.” Juyeon furrows his eyebrows again, head tilted ever so slightly to the side. Changmin knows what he’s talking about. After the end of 7th grade, there had been a man that Principal Lee had introduced to them as the new vice principal. Their old one had quit halfway through the year for ‘personal reasons’. Changmin knows that he had been sick of being teased for his bald spot by Eric and Sunwoo.
“He came before I did. I stay with my mom during the summer and my dad during the school year, but my mom said that I should come here early so that I could get used to a whole new country.” Kevin explains.
“Your parents don’t live together?” It seems like an incredibly intrusive question, but no one can ever take offense to something that Haknyeon says. It’s just something about his tone that makes even the most horrific of things sound like a compliment.
“Nope. They split a few years ago.”
Eric and Sunwoo choose then to arrive at their table, and Sunwoo, having not noticed Kevin and perhaps not understanding the context, adds onto the conversation with “You know else is split? This fucking banana. God, I love your dad, Changmin. He should work at an ice cream place, as like, a side hustle.” Changmin and Juyeon silence Sunwoo with a synchronized glare as Kevin’s eyes shoot open.
Sunwoo realizes his mistake a bit too late, his mouth hanging open as he tries to recover. “W-Well, uh… oh man.”
Eric breezes past him onto an empty seat. “Awkward.” He mumbles in a sing-song voice.
“Shut the fuck up, Eric Lee, before I chop your dick off and throw it into the Potomac River.” That makes Kevin’s entire expression become even more shocked, but at least Sunwoo has the decency to apologize immediately after.
“I am so sorry. I’m Sunwoo. Ugly here is Eric. I’m so sorry about that.” Eric sputters at his introduction, but says nothing under Juyeon’s stare.
“I’m Kevin,” Kevin says hesitantly, and Changmin’s worst fear comes true as Eric takes notice of the ice cream that Kevin is eating.
“Oh my god, you eat mint choco?” Changmin slams his forehead into Juyeon’s shoulder as Eric makes Kevin’s impression of him even worse. Juyeon rubs his hair comfortingly, and Changmin can’t bear to see Kevin’s face right now. Suddenly, Juyeon’s black shirt is very interesting.
“I do. Will we have a problem?” Out of all the things that Changmin is expecting, that is not on the list. Perhaps he had underestimated Kevin a little bit.
Even Eric sounds a little taken aback as he replies, “It’s just like eating toothpaste. I don’t get why people like it.”
“I don’t get why people like you either, but here we are.” Sunwoo mutters, and the slap, most likely from Eric to Sunwoo, that follows is enough to make Changmin look away from Juyeon’s shirt.
Kevin now sports a shit-eating grin on his face, far from the polite boy that Changmin had seen just a few minutes ago. “So, what, just because it’s like toothpaste you don’t like it? Do you not like toothpaste either? It’d make sense…” Juyeon stifles a laugh while Changmin has to hide his face in Juyeon’s shoulder again to hide his smile. But Haknyeon and Sunwoo don’t hold back at all, their guffaws almost overtaking the background music as Eric’s jaw drops.
“Oh my god, Kevin, you just committed a murder. I don’t think that he’ll ever recover from that one.” Sunwoo barely manages to talk between laughs. There’s a red washing over Eric’s face as he takes in the full extent of Kevin’s words, but Changmin won’t even bother trying to defend him. He did that to himself.
“A murder?” An older voice echoes from behind Changmin, and when he turns around, he sees the new vice principal. What’s his name again? Does Changmin even know it?
“Oh, hi, Dad. It wasn’t murder, just self-defense.” Kevin clarifies, but Eric stands up from the table, pointing at Kevin with an accusing finger.
“It was murder, don’t try to play the victim!”
“You started it, Eric.” Haknyeon reminds him, and that makes Eric sit back down.
Kevin’s dad stares at his son with a raised eyebrow, before sighing. “I was going to see if Kevin wanted to go home early, but it seems like he’s having fun here. Oh, right, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Mr. Bae, and you guys should already know that I’m the new vice principal.”
“Mr. Bae? I wish you could be my bae. Hey, hottie.” Changmin doesn’t need to look to see the wink that’s on Eric’s face. His cheeks are as hot as lava from second-hand embarrassment. Leave it to Eric to make them look like fools in front of the new vice principal.
“Don’t hit on my dad, what the f–heck…” Kevin corrects himself before he can even finish cursing, and when Mr. Bae shakes his head with a gentle smile, Kevin’s shoulders sag with relief.
“Ah, unfortunately, I’m not into younger guys.” Mr. Bae plays along, but Changmin almost wishes that he didn’t enable Eric any more.
“In another life, then, because I will still love you just as much in the next life as I do in this one.” The words elicit a groan from Kevin and another gag from Sunwoo. It’s hilarious, how confidently Eric hits on the dad of the person who just called his breath nasty.
“Right… Kevin, just text me whenever you want to leave. I’ll call for someone to pick you up.” After Kevin says ‘okay’, Mr. Bae says goodbye to the rest of them and then leaves.
“Your dad is hot, Kevin.” Eric is practically drooling, and Haknyeon does what they all want to do and slaps him.
“You’re disgusting.” Juyeon says. Changmin nods, because Juyeon is right. Eric’s habit of flirting with any man over 25 is unsettling.
“Are you trying to chase another vice principal away? Do you have a problem with them or something?” Haknyeon asks incredulously.
“I chased the other one away because he was ugly, and he called Sunwoo stupid.” Sunwoo nods, arms crossed and eyes closed. “But Mr. Bae, now that’s a face I can get behind. Kevin, do you want a new dad? Cause I’d be happy to fill that position.” Eric leans towards Kevin, who instinctively backs away, holding up his fork in order to defend himself.
“I am definitely okay. He just said he doesn’t like younger guys anyways, don’t you dare make him uncomfortable, or I will use my power as the son of the vice principal to get you suspended.” Kevin threatens, but Eric doesn’t bat an eye.
“A suspension is nothing to me, not in the face of love.”
“Then I’ll do something even worse,” Kevin pauses for dramatic effect, and even Changmin is drawn into the conversation. “I’ll make him get…” He stops again.
“Out with it already, fool!” Changmin says, using the tone of a medieval king, banging on the table. It makes Juyeon giggle a little bit, and Changmin turns around to smile at his best friend almost immediately. When they make eye contact, Juyeon rolls his eyes, a tiny smirk still on his face.
Kevin takes a deep breath before finally dropping the bomb. “A restraining order. You’ll never be able to see him again.”
Eric gasps, clutching his chest with a gaping mouth like a Victorian woman. “You would never!”
“I would. Don’t try me.”
Kevin and Eric glare at each other for a few seconds, without any real malice, before Eric turns away with crossed arms, huffing like a child. Over winning the staring contest, Kevin grins smugly as Sunwoo cuts in.
“Also, ‘heck’? What, is your dad a prude or something?” Sunwoo asks, eyes following the man exiting the cafeteria and leaving for the offices.
“He doesn’t like it when I curse.” Kevin replies with a shrug, and doesn’t speak anymore on the subject. No one makes him. They’ve put him through enough in the past two minutes.
“Oh, go off Principal Lee, I guess.” Eric mutters, and Changmin turns around to see the principal standing behind the podium on stage.
“Could I please have everyone’s attention?” The chatter in the cafeteria dies down. Juyeon doesn’t even bother looking at his stepdad, just resting his head on Changmin’s shoulder and scrolling through his Instagram feed. Taking that as a cue that Changmin also doesn’t have to pay attention to whatever Principal Lee is going to say, he pulls out his own phone and starts going through his notifications.
“Hello, and welcome to our annual Ice Cream Social, to both those who are coming back and those who are new to this school! This is an event that is meant to let anyone new meet others, and for others to reconnect with their old friends. Thank you everyone for coming, and I hope that you all enjoy yourselves, and that we start off the school year on a good note!” Principal Lee finishes, and after a short round of applause, he steps down from the stage.
“That was the principal?” Kevin asks, and Haknyeon nods.
“Yep. Me and Juyeon’s dad.”
“ Stepdad .” Juyeon mumbles, just barely loud enough for Changmin to hear. At that, Changmin pats Juyeon’s thigh. He isn’t sure why Juyeon has such an aversion to his stepdad, but he supposes that it’s not really his place to ask. Back in the beginning of 4th grade, when Juyeon first came to this school, he had been much more cheerful and carefree. But now, even though he tries his best to act like nothing is wrong, Changmin can tell that there are feelings that Juyeon has now that he didn’t back then.
But their relationship has an unspoken rule that unless something horrible happens, don’t ask. Changmin usually doesn’t have a problem with ignoring rules, but if he broke this particular one, then he’d probably end up breaking himself and Juyeon in the process. So even when Juyeon’s hand comes to rest on top of his own, tightening whenever Haknyeon calls Principal Lee Juyeon’s dad, Changmin doesn’t say a word.
The kitchen is empty, which is surprising, considering that there’s always at least one person in there, hiding from the rest of the world, whether it be a student or a teacher. It’s not like Chanhee will complain, because it means that he can hide from the world. Jaehyun had just taken over his position on the ice cream assembly line, so he’s completely free to drop off the grid for a little bit without having to worry about anything.
It takes around another ten minutes for someone to open the kitchen door, and although Chanhee had just assumed that it was another volunteer coming in to get more ice cream, the familiar head of pitch black hair is a pleasant surprise, one that Chanhee had missed seeing over the summer. He locks his phone and puts it on the counter, swinging his legs like a child as the other man makes his way over to where Chanhee is.
“Oh, so this is where you were, Chanhee. Sunwoo was looking for you.” Younghoon leans on the counter, right next to where Chanhee is sitting. It’s not ‘professional’ or ‘mature’ for teachers to sit on the counter, as Sangyeon had told him so many times before, but Sangyeon also isn’t here to tell him to not do it, so Chanhee is going to do whatever he wants. The counter had always been more comfortable than regular chairs, anyways.
“If he really needed me, then he’d text. I’m sure he’ll be fine.” Chanhee shrugs. Sunwoo is thirteen, he’s a big boy. Chanhee could take care of himself at thirteen, surely Sunwoo can, right?
“You say that now, but eventually, you’ll miss having him look for you like that.” Younghoon says gently. Chanhee hates that he’s right, but he’ll never let him know that he is.
“I’m not going to make him reliant on me. Independency is good for someone his age. I won’t be around to coddle him next year in high school.” Chanhee says, words parroted from what he had overheard from his mother when he was thirteen. She wasn’t wrong. Chanhee hadn’t grown independent in his last year of middle school, and he had been in his own living hell for the next four years. Is it wrong to not want Sunwoo to suffer in the same way?
“You won’t be, but eventually, Sunwoo is going to grow up. They all will. You might not be his parent, but empty nest syndrome will hit you all the same.”
“You speak like you’ve experienced this before. Isn’t Changmin the same age as Sunwoo? There’s no way he’s in that phase already.” The face that Younghoon makes tells Chanhee otherwise.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t think that he’d… He always seemed like such a daddy’s boy, you know?” Chanhee tries to fix his mistake, because making your single dad friend make a nostalgic face like that just feels weird.
“He still is. It’s just… Ah, I don’t know how to describe it.”
Chanhee waits in silence as Younghoon gathers his thoughts, because he’s here to listen. He always is.
“It’s not really that he’s not talking to me anymore, it’s just that I can definitely tell that he’s slowly becoming more independent. And I’m happy for him, I really am. I’m glad that I’ve provided a kind of environment in which he can branch off and be himself, but you know…” Chanhee doesn’t know, because he has never had a child on accident at 16, had the mother leave, and had to raise the child by himself. Even Sunwoo, the closest thing that Chanhee has to a son, hasn’t quite grown up like that yet. But even if Chanhee doesn’t know what Younghoon is going through, he’ll still do his best to help his friend out.
“You’ve done a wonderful job in raising him.” Chanhee says, completely honest. He had taught Changmin for about two years now, and although he’s definitely a demon around his friends, he has never been outright disrespectful to Chanhee. Even if small, he has some sort of desire to learn, one that Chanhee will happily nourish.
“I’m glad that you think so. So is Sunwoo. He’s a good kid.”
“Of course he is, he’s my kid brother. It’s in our family’s genes to be good.” Chanhee says teasingly, trying to lighten the mood that he brought down, even though it’s not really in their genes to be good. Their parents are an example of that, but that’s a story for another time. Younghoon does end up letting out a small laugh, but it’s incredibly forced, begging for the subject to be changed. Chanhee isn’t always the most perceptive person, but he can at least tell when someone is uncomfortable.
“So, what did you come in here for?” Chanhee asks. Thankfully, Younghoon’s jaw unclenches, and he lets out a tiny breath of relief before answering.
“No reason in particular. Just wandering the halls. The new vice principal offered to take my position, so I was bored. Wasn’t expecting to find you here, but that’s okay too. You’re good company.” Younghoon says it so nonchalantly, but like a middle school girl, Chanhee’s chest tightens. It’s barely anything to get excited over, Chanhee knows that, yet for some reason, almost everything that Younghoon says seems to have that effect on him. He may be 28 years old, but he’s really just a kid.
“I could say the same for you too. It’s nice having a coworker like you, someone I can talk to this easily.” Chanhee says, and he tries his best to pretend that he doesn’t notice the way that Younghoon brightens. His heart may not be able to handle the places that his mind will go.
It’s silent for a little bit, comfortable as the two drown in their own thoughts. Younghoon’s stray hand tempts Chanhee like the serpent in the garden of Eden, but before he can do anything, it’s moving away and into Younghoon’s pocket. His heart stops when Younghoon looks at him, but thankfully, he doesn’t seem to have noticed Chanhee’s odd behavior.
“Do you think we should check on Jaehyun and the new guy? Hope Jaehyun hasn’t scared him off already.” Younghoon says. After some thought, Chanhee just shakes his head.
“They’ll be fine. Hopefully. I doubt Jaehyun would intentionally do anything. He has enough social skills for that, at least.” Chanhee replies.
“‘Hopefully’ seems to be the key word here.”
“Well, it’s always ‘hopefully’ when it comes to Jaehyun.” Hopefully , their idiot coworker won’t make them lose a second vice principal. Sangyeon is getting sick of hiring new teachers, and Chanhee is sick of having to introduce himself every time.
“Hey, Jaehyun, right?” And here he is, the man that haunts Jaehyun’s dreams and nightmares. The man that Jaehyun has not been able to stop thinking about ever since he met him in June. Jacob Bae. The seemingly perfect man, with a perfect face, body, and personality, with a perfect son and a perfect wife. It feels sinful to even think about him, especially since he has a wife, and even a child, but Jaehyun is human, and humans are sinful beings.
So sinful that Jaehyun can pretend that everything is okay, and that he isn’t in his thirties with a minor crush on a taken straight man.
“Yep! That’s me! How are you liking things around here, Jacob? I hope the kids weren’t giving you too much trouble earlier. Eric can be a handful.” Jaehyun says, praying to the Lord that Eric hadn’t traumatized yet another vice principal. The other one had been free game because Jaehyun had heard about how he treated Sunwoo, but preferably, his son doesn’t scare Jacob off. Not because Jaehyun may have a crush on him, but because he seems like a genuinely good person, and no one like that deserves to be driven from their job by a feral middle schooler.
“Well, he’s certainly something, I’ll say that. By the way, do you know what ‘bae’ means, other than my last name? Eric asked me if I could be his, but I don’t know what it means.” Jacob asks, and Jaehyun is going to burn that kid at the stake.
“Ack,” The noise escapes Jaehyun’s mouth involuntarily. Disappointed, but not surprised at Eric's behavior, Jaehyun explains, “It’s something that you would call a significant other, like a shortened version of ‘babe’. I’m so sorry about that, if he made you uncomfortable. I’ll talk to him later and try to get him to shut up.”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that on my account. I don’t really mind. It’s nice knowing that people are still finding me attractive, even if they’re just thirteen. Plus, I just had a single conversation with him, so forgive me if I’m wrong, but it seems like Eric isn’t the type to listen to many people.” Jacob isn’t wrong, but Jaehyun likes to believe that he has some sort of power over Eric, regardless of what the reality may be.
“Well, I’m his dad, so I have to have some authority over him. I’ll talk to him. Even if it didn’t make you uncomfortable, it’s still not appropriate for him to be hitting on people over twice his age, especially people who are married and with a kid.” Jaehyun shakes his head with closed eyes, but he opens them again when Jacob clears his throat.
“I’m not… I’m not married.”
Jaehyun wants to die. He genuinely wants to curl up into a ball and pass away on the spot. He can feel his ears heating up and his heart beat picking up to a speed that is most definitely not healthy. But he stops himself from dying in front of their newest hire, instead sucking in an enormous breath.
“Oh my god, I am so sorry. I just figured, since you had a son, and Sangyeon mentioned that you had a wife… I’m so sorry.”
Jacob’s smile is warmer than the summer heat, and Jaehyun thinks that someone like him isn’t worthy of seeing it, especially given the horrifyingly wrong assumption that he had made just seconds earlier. “That’s alright. Me and my wife split a few years ago, but we’re still on good terms. Don’t worry about it. Aside from that, I didn’t know that Eric was your son. Are you married?”
“Oh, no, I’m not,” Jaehyun takes a shaky breath, still trying to compose himself from one of the biggest fuck-ups that he has made in his 35 years of life. “Eric is adopted, and I haven’t been in a romantic relationship since I got out of college.” It’s embarrassing to admit, but Jaehyun has already embarrassed himself so much that this tiny little fact can’t make it much worse.
“Really? I thought someone like you would’ve been married, or at least taken.” Jaehyun isn’t really sure what to do with that, whether to take it as a compliment or as something else. By the looks of it, Jacob realizes that it’s a confusing statement, and he clears his throat again nervously.
“I mean that as a good thing. Like, I’m surprised that you’re single. That’s what I meant. Ah, I worded that weirdly too. You’re good looking, so I thought you would’ve had a girlfriend, or boyfriend, whichever! Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I’m so awkward.” Jacob hides his face behind his forearm, turning redder with each passing second.
“That makes two of us.” Jaehyun chuckles, not even able to make eye contact with the vice principal.
“AHEM.” A loud voice interrupts their silence, and Jaehyun would’ve been grateful, if it had been anyone other than the gremlin that is legally registered as his son. “Hello, father! How are you doing on this fine day? I’m doing just amazing, thank you for asking!”
“What do you want, kid.” Jaehyun deadpans while Jacob watches curiously.
“I want more ice cream, oh beloved parent who is a male, and regrettably, it would seem that Mr. Choi is no longer here to give it to me, so I suppose that I must ask you for it.” Eric holds out his empty bowl to Jaehyun, who rolls his eyes with a smile.
“Coming right up, your highness.”
After Jaehyun scoops Eric some more chocolate ice cream, his son beckons for Jaehyun to lean down, and when Jaehyun does, it takes Eric another few seconds to rein in his laughter enough to speak.
“ So, when’s the marriage, you old fart? ” Eric whispers.
“ Whenever you stop hitting on my coworkers like they aren’t twice your age. Now get lost, brat. ” Jaehyun replies playfully, even though he hates that his son had been able to read his feelings like an open book, and Eric bounds away towards his table of friends, but not before giving Jaehyun one last wink. Jaehyun just prays that Jacob hadn’t seen it.
“You two seem close.” is all Jacob says, thankfully.
“Yeah. We are. Although it’s definitely not like most parent-child relationships, we have fun with it. I love him anyways.” Jaehyun shrugs, because even though Eric is definitely the incarnation of a stereotypical middle schooler, he really does love him.
“That’s nice.” Jacob gives Jaehyun a smile, sweeter than the ice cream that he had been scooping.
Younghoon has to go to school on the last day of summer vacation, and by the time he gets home, it’s five in the afternoon. Surprisingly, Changmin isn’t waiting for him at the door, begging to get takeout for dinner, and that’s the first red flag.
“Changmin?” Younghoon calls as he walks through the foyer of their house, although a lot of people describe it as a mansion. He may be a single dad, but he never struggled with money, as stocks came as easily to him as a fish swimming in water. That meant that he bought nothing but the best for his son and hoped that it could replace the second parental figure that he needed in his life. Although, he supposes that it’s better than nothing, because Chanhee and Sunwoo had no parents in their lives.
When Changmin doesn’t respond, Younghoon starts heading up the stairs, somewhat worried. It’s not like Changmin to ignore him when he’s calling. Even when he has headphones on, he tries to be somewhat aware of when Younghoon’s car pulls into the driveway.
“Changmin?” Younghoon says again when he makes it to the second floor. Still no response.
As he stands outside of the door, Younghoon knocks while calling his son’s name again, and then, he hears the chatter coming from the media room next to Changmn’s bedroom.
He heads back down the stairs, making it to the kitchen just before Changmin comes down with Sunwoo in tow.
“Hi, Dad.” Changmin says, smile sunny and eyes bright.
“Hi, Mr. Kim. Sorry for the intrusion.” Sunwoo looks like he's about to bow, but decides better of it as Changmin takes a seat at the kitchen island.
“Do you guys want to order in? I don't think I'll have time to cook.” Younghoon already has his phone out, ready to call any place that the boys want, but Sunwoo shakes his head.
“My brother said that he's coming with jajangmyeon, if it's okay with you.”
Chanhee? Coming over here? Right now? Sure, he has the housekeepers come in every week, but the house is kind of a mess at the moment, and even if it hadn't been, Younghoon needs 5-7 business days to process having another teacher at his home. Especially when it’s Chanhee.
But Changmin and Sunwoo look so hopeful, and Younghoon isn't a monster that would let them starve. Besides, Chanhee would have to come eventually to pick Sunwoo up, so might as well rip the Band-Aid off now.
“Yeah, sure, that’s fine.” Younghoon prays that his voice comes out normally, that it doesn’t betray him and crack out of nervousness. That it doesn’t let these two 13-year-olds know that he has something reminiscent of a middle school crush at the ripe old age of 29.
“Thanks, Mr. Kim. He’ll be here in a little bit.”
“Do I even want to know what you guys are doing in there?” Younghoon asks with a raised eyebrow as the pair head to Changmin’s gaming room.
“Worry not, dear father. It has nothing to do with you.” Changmin replies, which obviously just makes Younghoon worry even more than he had been before.
“If I get a call from Sangyeon saying that you guys made a mess again , I’m sticking you with the babysitter, Changmin.” At the threat, Changmin freezes in his tracks, not even halfway up the stairs, and then leans over the railing.
“You wouldn’t.” Changmin says breathily.
“I would. After all, Minhyuk loves you. He’d be so sad if I told him that the only time that you pray is when you pray for him to not come.”
“Please, dad, anything but that.” Changmin is absolutely horrified, and Younghoon is glad that he still has some power over his growing son. Who knows how much longer that will last?
“Don’t do anything that ends in me getting a call from your teachers, and you’ll be fine.” Younghoon tells him, and Changmin nods, pulling himself back from the edge of the staircase. As they continue upstairs, Younghoon is pretty sure that he hears Sunwoo whispering ‘That just means we can’t get caught’. That elicits something between a chuckle and sigh from Younghoon, but he can’t really blame them. He had been the same at their age.
Younghoon then goes into his office, not to do anything of actual importance, but because sitting in front of a computer at least makes him feel productive. With the school year starting in just a few days, he’s already restless to do something, his body not letting him take the rest that it will so desperately beg for once he starts pulling all-nighters to grade assignments and exams.
The doorbell rings when the clock on his computer reads 6:14, and before Younghoon can even leave his office, he hears the door open and the excitement of the two middle schoolers in the house. Chanhee has already beat him to the kitchen when Younghoon makes it there, and the younger teacher greets him with a smile.
“Hi, Younghoon. How was your day?”
“It was pretty good.” Younghoon replies, ruffling Changmin’s hair as he runs past his dad to go to the family room so that he and Sunwoo can watch TV while they eat. “What about yours? Everything going okay with preparations?”
“Yeah, I finished everything a few weeks ago. I got bored, so I just did it all early. Unfortunately, that means I haven’t had anything to do for a while. I wonder if I should start working over the summer, just to pass the time.” Chanhee muses as he mixes the noodles and sauce.
“What about Sunwoo? Would you just leave him at home all day, by himself?” Younghoon asks, but he doesn’t get a reply for another minute or so.
“He’ll be okay. After all, in the unlikely case that I do get a summer job, it’ll only be part time, since Sunwoo seems to chase away every babysitter he has. I’d feel like even more of a failure if I let him stay at home by himself though, so I actually probably won’t get another job. It would be hard on me too.” Chanhee finally says, and Younghoon won’t question it any more. It isn’t really his place to be questioning how Chanhee raises Sunwoo anyways. To his credit, Chanhee has already done a wonderful job of being Sunwoo’s only parental figure.
“But that’s enough about that. How are you doing? Is your prep work going alright?” Younghoon honestly feels bad that Chanhee is always the one needing to change the subject, but his own social skills aren’t quite at that level.
“It's okay, I’m just a little worried that—”
“Dad! The next episode of Haikyuu is out!” Changmin yells from the couch. “Hurry up, or we’re gonna start it without you!”
“You watch Haikyuu?” Chanhee asks, a small smile spreading on his face. Younghoon could lie and say that it doesn’t make his heart beat a little faster, but even with all his flaws, he never lies to himself.
“Yeah. You know what it is?”
“Do I know what Haikyuu is…” Chanhee snickers. “I was the one who got Sunwoo hooked on it, of course I know what it is. I guess we should join them before we miss something.”
“I already read the manga though…” Younghoon mumbles as they make their way to the family room, and Chanhee just rolls his eyes.
“Well, I haven’t, and neither has Sunwoo, so if you spoil it for either of us, then I’m going to eat all of your jajangmyeon. Don’t test me.” Chanhee warns with a threatening finger. “Also, what were you going to say earlier? About your prep work?”
Younghoon thinks for a second, but ends up shrugging. “I forgot.”