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New Chapters - Chapter One
avarisia wrote in longleggedlove
New Chapters - Chapter One

Changmin works in a bookstore, where a stranger walks in one day



The motion sensor at the doorway of Park's Bookstore emitted a jarring jingle-tone triplet as the dark wooden door swung inwards, letting brilliant summer sun into the interior of the shop and highlighting the multitude of tiny dust motes suspended in the air, swirling in the eddies of air let in through the portal. A few seconds passed before Changmin finally tore his eyes away from the book in his lap and looked up, only to have something large, filmy and dark fly into his face, screaming "Shim Changmin!"

Changmin spluttered wildly and finally got the unidentified assailant off him, making a superhuman effort not to knock over the stack of books next to him, or damage the book he's holding.

"What in the name of Leo bloody Tolstoy do you think you're doing, KIM JAEJOONG?!" Changmin almost shrieked, throwing what looked like a large midnight blue handkerchief with red trimming to the heavily carpeted floor of the shop, "Throwing that- that- unwashed rag! Into my face! STOP LAUGHING!"

Jaejoong was sprawled over the heavy mahogany counter, arms folded over his abdomen, gasping for breath as he laughed with great heaving wheezes, tears at the corners of his scrunched-up eyes. 

"Oh- oh- oh my goodness- Changmin- you- you should see your expression- oh my god- SO priceless! Haa- ha- ha-" 

He then proceeded to do a hysterically unflattering impersonation of Changmin, face twisted in shock and disgust, hands flailing frantically in front of him, before collapsing to the ground almost sobbing with mirth, narrowly dodging Changmin's sneaker which crashed into the counter just inches above his head

Changmin was not amused. He regarded the bookshop as his private space, and did not look kindly upon his space being intruded upon, let alone by an irritating gnat like Kim Jaejoong. God, Jaejoong could be worse than a hive of silverfish run amok in the shop. He balled up the handkerchief as vehemently as he could with the least hand-to-cloth contact (who could say where it had been before this?), marched up to the older man, now a quivering tangle of limbs on the floor, and tried to stuff the wadded cloth into Jaejoong's mouth.

"Okay, okay, stop, I'm sorry, okay? Stop- mffmph- haha- hahahaha- mmmpphh- so- sorr- eefmfffpph-"

"Changmin," A spindly figure popped up behind the counter like a meerkat sensing danger, nose twitching, blinking eyes magnified by a pair of glasses to look even more bulging and harried than humanly possible, "What's happening?"

"Mister- Mister Park!" Changmin shot upright, a charmingly contrite expression on his face, "It's nothing. I'm sorry for the noise, it's all this-" gesturing at the figure still struggling to get to his feet "-fool's fault."

"Tsk tsk tsk. Jaejoong, you should learn to behave yourself, you're the older one!" Mr. Park rumbled, "Well, as long as you don't damage any of the books, I trust you two will sort things out between yourselves."

"Sorry, Mr. Park!" Jaejoong called brightly, now on his feet, but the elder was already dozing off in his chair. He exchanged a black look with Changmin, and holding up the mangled kerchief, muttered, "Look what you've done to my new scarf."

"Well pardon me if it's my fault someone decided to prance in here and fling that godawfully ugly excuse for a 'scarf' into my face! Seriously, the things you spend your money on, it's hideous."

"Really? You think so? And what would Mr Shim Changmin, certified hermit and bookworm, know about fashion?"

He is met with stony silence as Changmin stared at him with a dangerous glint in his eye. It was a sure sign that he should bail before pushing his luck too far.

"Okay. Okay, fine," Jaejoong put his hands up in surrender, "My bad, okay? I shouldn't have thrown this -ugh- in your face, but oh, god knows it's good to see you do something other than sit here with your face so deep in a book your nose is poking out the other side!" He flashed his most charming smile and tossed his impossibly-perfect hair, which he was well aware had absolutely no effect on Changmin other than annoying the hell out of him.

"It's time you went out there and took in some of the beautiful summer day, instead of hiding in here! And don't give me that crap about your "disability", because it's just going to be us- two-!" Picking up the flung sneaker, he reached out and pulled Changmin out the door by the arm, ignoring his futile splutterings.

"I'm bringing Changmin out for lunch, Mr. Park!" he called, not waiting for a reply. The store was left in the fading tones of the motion sensor and the soft snores of the somnolent owner as the door swung shut.


Shim Changmin had always had problems with expressing himself properly. The problem was not that he could not speak, nor that he stammered, or even had one of those embarrassing lisps that get imitated to death. He could speak perfectly well, and some have complimented him on having a pleasant voice.

The problem with Changmin was that he couldn't hold a conversation together.

He had the uncanny ability to stop any conversation in its tracks within 10 sentences, something that became vastly apparent to him in his adolescent years. Far too often, while his classmates were engaged in a noisy, convivial chat around him, he would contribute a line or two, only to have the whole group fall silent, the thread of the conversation somehow lost. And at that age, you could only be responsible for that many awkward situations before you started getting a reputation for it. Very soon his classmates began to shy away from talking to him.

This disability troubled him to no end; worse, in Changmin's opinion, was his utter inability to determine the cause. If you can't find the root of a problem, you can't fix it. It was an eternal shroud that hung over his life, and he despaired of ever getting rid of it or finding a way around it.

At some point he stopped trying altogether, and began to avoid talking to other people except when absolutely necessary. Which had worked out quite well, most of the time. He was surprised to discover most people could easily be persuaded to continue talking endlessly, encouraged by some eye contact, intermittent nodding and a thoughtful pursing of lips. Being labelled reticent was a shade better than wary silences hanging around him wherever he went.

With his voluntary avoidance of human contact and the requirement for conversation that arose from those encounters, he ended up spending a lot of his time after school at the library or wandering aimlessly in the quiet rows of shophouses near his high school, where he discovered many gems such as wonderfully quaint cafes and shops selling fascinating bric-a-brac.

One of those gems was Park's Bookstore, a small shop wedged so awkwardly between a florist and a hardware store as to be nearly invisible, until you actually pushed open the door. That was where he found paradise.


Park's Bookstore was literally filled to the brim with books; two columns of bookshelves extend from a central aisle, packed with tomes of all genres and sizes from floor to ceiling, books stuffed into any space they could fit without any shelving system. Tall stacks of books abound, teetering stalagmites of volumes that seem just about ready to tip and fall. The slightly sourish smell of acid-oxidised paper that fills the shop was one that Changmin always found comforting, like a baby recognising his mother's warmth.

For Changmin, to pick up a book and lose himself within another world, to listen to the voice of another without ever being expected to reply - it was like stepping into Nirvana and transcending this plane of existence. It was a ready escape from this world where he despaired of ever having a meaningful conversation with another human being.

Many an afternoon and evening after school was thus spent with him perched in one corner or another of the bookshop devouring books, the vast collection providing constant reading fodder. 

The narcoleptic shop-owner Mr. Park slumbered behind the counter most of the time, seemingly indifferent to the presence of other people in the store. He waved Changmin over one day, after noticing the gangly teen parked within the store often enough during his lucid moments.

"Boy, come here, what's your name?"

"Shim Changmin, sir." Changmin fidgeted nervously, wondering if he was in trouble.

"Changmin, eh? Well you can call me Park. None of this 'Sir' nonsense. See you here a lot, boy."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Park, I just- well, I like reading. I don't mean to read for free, I would buy the books if I could, but I-"

Mr. Park was waving his hands impatiently. "You young people love to talk. Talk talk talk. Never listen. Listen! I don't care about you coming here to read for free. Well, not what I mean, there's no free lunch in world, you ken? I was like you when I was young, loved to read. Reading is good, reading..." The spindly old man suddenly seemed to have fallen asleep, his head drooping forward.

"Reading...?" Changmin prompted, part of his mind intrigued by this character, wondering how he had kept the shop going all these years.

"What was I saying? Distracted, old man Park gets. Ah, yes, boy, what I wanted to say, I need some help around this place. My bones are old and I can't run around any more. And the books just keep growing. I need help tidying the books, cataloguing them, you ken? And if you're going to come in every day to read, I ask myself, old man, why don't you ask the boy if he can help, eh? Take it as your payment, for the reading, eh?"

Changmin pushed his glasses up his nose bridge though they couldn't go any higher, a nervous tic. He was in disbelief. This man was offering him all the books in the shop to read any time he wanted, just for some help around the place? Cataloguing books? 

It was the perfect proposition, one he could not refuse.

"Well, boy? Don't make old man Park wait all day for you, or he'll be falling asleep!"

"Sir! I mean, Mr. Park! I'd love to!" He couldn't quite keep the excitement out of his voice. He felt like he could hop atop one of the shelves and sing.


Some time after he started "working" in Park's Bookshop, he encountered Kim Jaejoong.

Jaejoong, 6 years older than Changmin, was the owner of Eiskaffee, a small cafe just a couple of stores down from Park's Bookshop, and where Changmin sometimes went to enjoy a book from the store after a long day of cataloguing and cleaning. It wasn't long before Jaejoong could remember Changmin's usual order, Iced Lemon Tea, which somehow irked him to no end. No one came to his cafe two times a week and ordered ILT without trying the coffee, damnit. 

What intrigued Jaejoong even more was that all his attempts at striking up conversation with Changmin were always coolly rebuffed. 

He initially concluded that Changmin was just another of those aloof, reticent snobs. However, after observing how Changmin sometimes stopped reading and gazed at people chatting at adjacent tables in the cafe, eyes not filled with annoyance at the disturbance to his reading, but rather, a wistful longing, the shop-owner realised there was something more to the boy than met the eye.

He also made it a personal aim to break past this intriguing young man's shields, no matter the reasons for them.


"Try this. My new creation. I call it Black Beauty." Jaejoong effortlessly slid into the chair beside Changmin's, pushing him a cup of aromatic coffee with his most winsome smile. Jaejoong was beautiful and he knew it. His angelic smile, killer cheekbones and soulful gaze could never fail to melt any person's heart, male or female, and he used it to his advantage.

Changmin looked at him, quite unimpressed. A half-smile raised a corner of his full lips, and he murmured, "I don't drink coffee, thanks."

Undaunted, Jaejoong picked up the cup and sipped from it thoughtfully. "I'm Kim Jaejoong. But I guess you've probably already seen it printed on our namecard."

Changmin continued reading, completely uninterested.

"You work at the bookstore two stores down, for that weird old man Park," Jaejoong pushed on, "You come here to read, and drink Iced Lemon Tea. You don't talk except when you really have to. You don't stutter. You don't have a lisp. In fact, you have a very nice voice.

"You look at people talking like they have something you don't, even though you try to convince yourself you are doing perfectly fine without it." He was gazing at Changmin all this while, and though the gangly adolescent had his eyes fixed on the book, Jaejoong knew he had got his hook in.

"The problem with me, kid, is that I am a very curious person. I'd like to be friends, but I don't even know your name. Would it kill you to talk?"

"And would it kill you to keep your nose out of other people's businesses?"

Touche. The fish was well and truly hooked.

"I'm not asking for very much. Just your name, for a start?" Jaejoong grinned widely, but couldn't help sounding just the least bit like he was pleading for a favour.

Changmin slammed his book shut, and looked into Jaejoong's eyes with a steely glare. It was enough to make him secretly regret his presumptions. "I come here because it's a nice place to do some quiet reading and because you make a good Iced Lemon Tea. I don't come here for you to be my shrink and psychoanalyse me. I guess we have very different ideas of what this place is for."

Looking at the door swing shut behind the mysterious teen, Jaejoong sipped his coffee and smiled confidently. He now had all the time in the world to pull this big catch in.


Changmin didn't return to the cafe for weeks. At first Jaejoong brushed it off, sure that the young lad would return after he'd cooled down. He was proven wrong by Changmin's sheer obstinacy, however, and decided he had to take things in his own hands after a month of futile waiting.

"SPECIAL DELIVERY!" Jaejoong burst through the door of the store, setting off the motion sensor and it's annoying tone, followed closely by a loud thump and muffled curses from somewhere in the shelves.

A very disgruntled Changmin soon emerged from within, rubbing the back of his head where he had hit it against a shelf he was cleaning when Jaejoong's explosive entrance had startled him.

"Wow, I've never been in here before. It's kind of quaint, isn't it? The wallpaper's a little tacky, but I suppose no one's complaining. What a mess, though, no wonder the old man needs your help to tidy it up. Think it'll take a decade? Maybe two?"

"What. Do. You. WANT." It was not a question. Changmin was looking around for something sharp to run Jaejoong through the liver with.

"Oh yes! I got distracted. SPECIAL DELIVERY!" he exclaimed again, causing Changmin to wince. "I brought iced lemon tea, specially for you." Cue charming smile and casual toss of sparkly wavy hair.

He whipped out the plastic cup containing the iced tea, adorned with twirls of blue ribbon, which he thought was a pretty good effort, from someone like him.

"You don't know how much you hurt my feelings, running off like that and not coming back." He tried a playful pout. "But you hurt them more when you insist on not drinking any of my coffee. It is a coffee house, you know, not a tea house."

There was a rather painful silence during which Jaejoong tried one of his more powerful megawatt smiles. Changmin was turning a strangled shade of purple. 

"Mr. Kim Jaejoong. I want you to GET OUT. NOW."



That had a rather final air to it, and Jaejoong beat a hasty retreat, though not before a final, "Come by sometime, okay?"

He ducked behind the closing door just as some unidentified heavy object crashed into it.

Standing outside the bookstore, Jaejoong chuckled to himself. He was sure he would be seeing Changmin in his store very soon.


As he predicted, Changmin edged into Eiskaffee the next day, trying very hard to remain unnoticed, as if anything in the world could make you look less obvious than being six feet tall and having legs stretching into eternity. His entrance was made all the more obvious by the fact that the cafe was, at that very moment, quite empty.

Jaejoong suppressed a smile as Changmin realised it was no point hiding, and coolly walked up to the counter, dark brown eyes staring daggers at him even behind those thick nerdy glasses.

"All right, what did you put in it?" he rumbled grumpily, as if he had just been made to swallow something bitter.

"I'm sorry? What do you mean, exactly? In.. what?" Jaejoong raised his eyebrows and widened his eyes in mock surprise and innocence.

"Drop the pretence, you know what I mean," the younger man hissed, "That Iced Lemon Tea. It was- it was good. I want to know what you put in it."

Jaejoong chuckled, ignoring the increasing surliness of the expression on Changmin's face, "Tch, manners, my friend. You don't walk into my cafe and ask me how I make my tea. Help me jog my memory a bit, but I seem to recall someone saying something about minding one's own business?" 

He was enjoying himself far too much to stop, watching the colour of Changmin's face turn pale, fiery crimson and then take on a purplish tinge. Jaejoong was just mildly worried that his pretty little head might just literally explode, the way those veins on his neck were popping out.

"Okay, say what I make you a deal. I tell you what I put in the tea, and you tell me your name. How about that?"

There was a prolonged silence as the disgruntled teen peered suspiciously at the suave shopowner, trying to puzzle out what kind of game Jaejoong was playing. The latter stepped out from behind the counter and positioned himself directly opposite Changmin, then bowed with a little flourish and stuck out his right hand, "Kim Jaejoong, 23, I'm the owner of this humble cafe. Nice to meet you!"

His hand hung in the air for some moments, and his smile widened when the other's hand slipped hesitantly into it.

"Shim Changmin, 17. High school student. Working part-time at Park's Bookstore, but you already know that. Are you happy now?"

"Changmin. That's a lovely name. Take a seat, and let me whip up some of that ILT for you!" Jaejoong almost skipped back behind the counter, whistling to himself.


After they had settled down, a steaming espresso before Jaejoong and Changmin sipping contentedly on his Iced Lemon Tea, Jaejoong made good his side of the bargain.

"You wanted to know what it was I put in the tea. The truth is, it's exactly the same as it was before. No, before you start screaming in my face again, I swear I'm not lying."

Jaejoong leaned forward until he was staring Changmin squarely in the eye, matching the rising disbelief with his own frank open gaze, no more megawatt smiles or raised eyebrows.

"The truth, no matter how vehemently you deny it, is that you missed coming here. You missed the tea, and that's what made it ambrosia to your parched throat. One month of deprivation, that's the "magic" ingredient. Truth?"

Changmin blinked and took another sip of his tea, brows knitted in deep thought.

"Well, that, and I make a bloody wicked Iced Lemon Tea. Can't find one as good as mine in all of Seoul, I'd say. And you haven't tried my coffee yet, something you will regret eternally."

He was genuinely surprised when the teen snickered to himself, then laughed out loud, shoulders quivering in mirth. This was an unexpected turn, and that was what intrigued him about Changmin, that he was so different.

"What's so funny?"

"You have such an inflated ego, you know that? Your hair, your cheekbones, your eyes, all of you, it's so perfect you're absolutely unreal. But your ego, it's even more unreal! You're the most self-infatuated person I've ever met, and you're so unashamed about it, it's hilarious."

It wasn't all that pleasant, Jaejoong realised, having the tables turned on him and being on the receiving end of a psychoanalysis that laid him bare to the bone. He felt naked, dissected, almost insulted.

Then he burst into laughter as well.

"That's it! That's why you're so afraid to talk, isn't it?" he ventured after his laughing spell had subsided, countering Changmin's merciless cut and thrust with a well-gambled parry of his own, "You are so frank, so completely unable to descend to the level of shallow banter, that you bring all conversation to a halt! People are afraid to talk to you, because you expose them for the frauds they are. The frauds we all are."

Changmin was dumbfounded.

Could it be, after seventeen years of living without knowing what was wrong with him, that this was it?


It wasn't too long before Changmin and Jaejoong struck up a strange friendship, trading scathing barbs whenever they met, Jaejoong's ego being so monstrously inflated that Changmin's brutal insight just glanced off him, and Changmin relishing conversation so much he couldn't care if he was being insulted.

"You know, that time when you dropped your skinny ass next to mine and offered me that cup of coffee, I was absolutely convinced that here was a sleazeball trying to get into my pants," Changmin mused on one of the quiet evenings in the cafe, his lanky frame awkwardly sprawled as best it could in one of the cafe's tiny, albeit comfortable, armchairs, a glass of iced lemon tea cupped in his hands as he swirled the amber drink around to the clink of ice cubes.

"Excuse me, who has an inflated ego now?" Jaejoong laughed, propped in a facing armchair with his legs tucked up and hanging over the armrest on one side, polishing off a blueberry cheesecake.

"Weren't you? Admit it, you were interested in me, not least because I'm strangely immune to your charms."

Yet more evidence of Changmin's cutting intellect, that he had seen through to even Jaejoong's preference for men. Jaejoong wasn't the least bit bothered by it, knowing that Changmin, despite the lad's resistance to his beauty, leaned very much the same way.

"A little bit. You're like a puzzle, and I like puzzles. But I don't like to fall in love with puzzles. Too complicated. Too much work. I don't want to have to think so hard all the time. Takes all the fun out of the sex."

"You're such a slut. At least you're honest about it," Changmin laughed.

"I can tell that I'm not your type either," Jaejoong continued sagely.

"You don't need a bitch like me. What you really need, or more like, what you're hoping for, is someone to walk through the doors of your bookstore one fine day, a dazzling prince, to sweep you off your feet and away into happily ever after.

"You need someone who will give all of himself up for you, who will accept you for all you are. You want to live in a fairytale."

Changmin was staring at him, mouth agape. He hesitated for a moment before he continued. The boy needed to be told the truth.

"It's not going to happen, you know. There are no fairytales in real life, only shattered dreams and unrealised hopes. You spend too much time with your books to see the world for what it is."

He shook his head and sighed as Changmin stormed past him out the door of the cafe. There was such a thing as being too honest, and no matter how the teen enjoyed chatting with Jaejoong, no one was immune to issues of the heart.


Changmin continued to work in Park's Bookstore through his high school years, meticulously making notes of each and every book in the store and creating a massive spreadsheet listing the volumes. He was inching steadily closer each day to completing a catalogue of all the books in the store, something he would have never imagined possible.

After he graduated from high school, he qualified for a university which was a stone's throw away from the bookstore, among others, which made the choice a no-brainer.

Thus he continued his work in the bookstore daily after classes, on many occasions becoming so engrossed in his work that when he finally took a break, it was already too late to head home, and he would spend the night sleeping in the store before heading back to university the next morning.

Mr. Park, who had the spooky ability to appear from nowhere at times, popped up beside Changmin one night as he was getting ready to sleep, and pulled the young man - now fully grown and towering about the stooped elder - to a small door at the back of the store, one that Changmin had never opened because it was locked the one time he tried the doorknob.

Behind the door was a narrow stairwell leading to what was a small loft above the store, sparsely decorated with a single bed, a desk and chair, and a clothes drawer.

"You can sleep in here. You need to buy your own bed, no way you sleeping in mine. It's cramped, but it's better than sleeping on the floor," Mr. Park gave Changmin a wizened smile.

Changmin blinked back tears as he whispered, "Thank you, Mr. Park."


They say good things happen in sets of three, not that Changmin will ever believe in such unscientific babble. He was, after all, an Organic Chemistry major.

The first good thing to happen to him was Mr. Park and the bookstore. The store had become a second home to him, and the owner, a mentor of sorts.

The second good thing, Kim Jaejoong, though he would never admit it in hearing range of the pompous twit. Despite all his flaws, the older man was a steadfast friend and confidant, someone Changmin could always speak frankly to.

The third good thing found its way into his life one autumn day in the form of Jung Yunho.


He was rooting around in the back of the store, unpacking a box of books, one of the last before he completed his cataloguing crusade, when he heard the unmistakeable jingle of someone coming in the door. Another thing that needs doing, he noted to himself, get rid of that wretchedly annoying motion sensor.

"Jaejoong, is that you?" It was rare that anyone else ever came into the store, and if one did, he or she was usually lost. It was still inexplicable how the store hadn't yet collapsed, but Mr. Park didn't seem like one to answer questions.

"Jae? Can you help me grab the craft knife off the counter? I can't get the duct tape off this box."

He paused, hearing only tentative footsteps muffled by the thick carpet. It didn't seem like Jaejoong, unless he was trying something funny again.

Getting to his feet, Changmin popped his head around the end of the shelf into the central aisle, completely unprepared for the sight that met his eyes.

There was a man standing in the shop, just inside of the doorway, looking around. It wasn't just a man, Changmin decided moments later, it was a god.

Tall and broad-shouldered, he was dressed smartly in a sharp grey pinstripe suit with form-fitting flat-front trousers that accentuated his long long legs which ended in shiny black wingtips. The white oxford shirt he had under the jacket had the top two buttons casually unbuttoned, showing a narrow V of skin and just a hint of the left collarbone at this angle.

His face was what caught Changmin's attention, though. Aquiline cheekbones, sharp nose, those expressive lips pursed in a thoughtful half-smile. His hair was effortlessly styled and almost glowing in the rays of late afternoon sunlight coming in the small glass casements above the doorway. Those expressive brown eyes had just found Changmin's own and were now looking into him with such electrifying intensity he could feel his gut melt.

The moment stayed frozen in Changmin's mind, an epiphany, a scene so perfect it could not be humanly created. This is an angel sent from above, Changmin decided. My time is up.

"TEE-TEE-TAH" The door swung open to admit another figure, shorter in stature, one whom Changmin would have much cause to dislike later.

"Wow I can't believe you found this place! I couldn't have found the door if you hadn't just disappeared and left me searching high and low for you. Do you think we'll find it here? This place looks old. It's the last shop on your list, and if we don't find it here..."

The taller man walked towards Changmin now, effortlessly closing the distance between them with his long strides. The angel-on-earth was now standing barely an armspan from him, sharing the same air. It was enough to make him feel faint.

Breathe, Changmin, breathe. He's not going to take you to heaven with him.

"Um, is this what you were looking for? A craft knife?" The man's voice was deep, strong, full of warmth, his tone measured and sure. Changmin stared dumbly at the object in the other's outstretched hand for a few long moments before regaining his wits and accepting the offered knife gratefully, head bowed mutely.

"I'm sorry, have I come at a bad time?" the visitor queried, "I- We're looking for a book, have been looking for a book."

Changmin was making a great effort to make sense of what the other man was saying. It seemed like too much to do in addition to breathing and keeping upright. He needed to put the knife down somewhere before he hurt himself with it.

It did not help that a part of his mind was shrieking incoherent thoughts. How do I look? Do I have dust on my face? Is that what he means by coming at a bad time?

"It's a very old book, I'm afraid, and all the other bookstores we've tried don't seem to have it," the man continued mellifluously. His brows were slightly furrowed as he looked intently at Changmin, who was nodding rapidly.

Oh god he must think I'm a dimwit. Get a hold of yourself, Shim Changmin!

"I've written down the title and author of the book. Could you help us check if you have it in the store? I'm sorry for the trouble, but it's really important."

Finally composing himself, Changmin took the small white card the older man had pulled from his pocket. He had to struggle not to gaze adoringly at that heart-melting half smile, but it was much easier to keep himself sane that way.

"Please wait, I'll look," he croaked in a most unattractive quaver before scuttling past the man who now looked like he'd just stepped out of the pages of GQ even in the cluttered store.

With the help of his massive spreadsheet catalogue and a few carefully selected search parameters, it took Changmin only a few minutes to verify that the book these two smartly dressed men were looking for could truly be found within the store's sizeable collection.

While he searched the catalogue, the other, much less handsome man continued nattering away, not caring if anyone else was even listening to him, making comments on the shop decor, what they were going to have for dinner, and even about a pimple he was developing on his forehead.

Duckbutt. Changmin shot him a sharp look but he remained completely oblivious. The taller man caught the look, however, giving Changmin a lopsided grin and a conspiratorial wink that made the latter blush, almost tripping over himself as he headed to the shelf where the book was kept.

"Xiah, I know you're hungry," the stranger started, a gentle hand placed against the duckbutt's shoulder, and another knowing look cast in Changmin's direction as if to say When he's hungry, he's like this, "I promise you we'll get something good after this, and it'll be my treat. Let the boy look for the book in peace, okay?"

That seemed to work as the shorter man's expression went blank and then assumed a mild sulkiness. At least he had stopped yapping.

After some searching - the really old books had plain spines with nothing printed on them, and he had to pull them out individually to check the titles - he retrieved the tome he was searching for, some 19th century law treatise in English, which Changmin supposed would be pretty rare in this part of the world.

He could see the barely suppressed anticipation as he offered the book to the strapping stranger, managing in a hoarse whisper, "Please check, if correct."

A wide smile graced those lusciously kissable lips as Changmin started drawing complex chemical structures in his head, anything to distract him from that heart-stopping look of gratitude. The man looked as if he was about to say something, reaching out to take the book from him.

"Oh. My. GOD. You found it! Hyung, he really found it! I can't believe it! I thought we'd never-" The book was taken from his hands by the Annoying Sidekick, leaving him and the taller man momentarily stunned by the outburst.

He was imagining the satisfying thunk of a bookend against the back of the duckbutt's head when he felt something warm slip into his hand, and his breath caught in his throat. It was the Hand of God.

"Thank you, the book really means a lot to us. You probably don't know it, but it's a very valuable treatise, and it's worth a lot of money." The hand was warm against his clammy palm, the grip firm but somehow accommodating.

The man pushed a thick wad of notes into Changmin's hands, continuing apologetically, "This is all I have at the moment, but the book definitely costs more than this. I'll be back with a cheque, rest assured-"

"Hyung, let's go, I'm starving, you know how late it is already, and we still have to get back, Jee-young will have our hides if we make her wait. But imagine her face when we show her this!" The shorter man had tucked the book carefully into his bag and was now tugging the older towards the door.

For the umpteenth time in a day Changmin really wanted to throttle the guy.

"I'll be back! What's your name-?" the beautiful stranger called as he was reluctantly pulled out of the store. As Changmin struggled to reply, the door swung closed with a terrible finality.

The young man let out a breath he didn't know he was holding and all the strength left his body, leaving him sitting on the floor looking forlornly at the door.

"I'm- Shim- Changmin," he finally managed. Fat load of help, saying it now.

He lay slumped against the counter staring at his right hand for a long time, remembering the feel of those slender fingers encircling his own, heart pounding at the memory alone.

Something suddenly occurred to him, and he scrambled shakily to his feet, behind the counter, where the white card from earlier was sitting, the book title and author written in a legible but untidy hand slanting diagonally across it. 

He picked up the card gently, the only physical thing linking him to the existence of that perfect being, and found that it was actually a name card, the other man having scribbled on the back of it.

Jung and Partners
Kim Junsu

Kim.. Junsu?


Um, hi, I'm new to this community and this is my first fic (and it's turning out to be a monster with multiple chapters); I know there's not much Homin in this chapter, but more to come, soon! :)

Comments would be much appreciated and very encouraging!

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Thank you!! Haha when I started to write this it was becoming a bit Jae-min in a way because they play off so well against one another.

But of course Yunho/Changmin are meant for one another <3 More developments coming up! XD

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