Characters/Pairings: EunHae, Sungmin, Hinted!KyuMin, Mentioned!Tiffany
Genre(s): Sort of angst, romance, AU
Author's Note: This might not be what you wanted, but I hope that you like it anyway. I’m not the best with angst, but I really tried. Also, a big thank you to all three of my betas.
“I don’t really know what to say, Donghae,” Sungmin sighs, fingers running through his hair as if trying to work the stress out through the strands, “I guess she just… Wasn’t who we thought she was.”
“But… How could she just abandon Miyoung, abandon both of us? She just… left a note.”
It takes everything Donghae has to keep from releasing the sob that gets caught in the back of his throat. He’s always prided himself on being able to keep a calm demeanor in any situation, but this was more than he could handle. “How was I supposed to… She never even let us know anything was wrong.”
“Women are always the same, no matter where you go; one way or another, they’re going to screw you over. Even if it’s unintentional,” Sungmin replies with a scoff, putting the car into park and turning to look at his partner. In all the time he’s known Donghae, not once has Sungmin seen him even remotely upset – and being anything less than level headed is dangerous in their line of work.
“She was supposed to be different, Sungmin. If she didn’t want to hurt me, she wouldn’t have left her ring and our daughter with my parents,” Donghae sighs, cradling his face in his hands, “Now Miyoung is going to grow up without her, and I don’t know how I’m going to take care of her on my own.”
“If anyone can do it, it’d be you.”
Sungmin hated to see a strong man like Donghae in such a state, bringing a hand up to squeeze Donghae’s shoulder. The small gesture brings a broken smile on Donghae’s face. “Just go home today; I can finish up the rest of the paperwork. Miyoung needs you, so don’t keep her waiting.”
“I owe you one.”
Donghae can feel his hands trembling, fingers curling around the handle of the door. Never had he imagined his life without Tiffany… And it seemed to be hitting him all at once as he pulled himself toward the front door of his parents’ home.
Waiting behind that door is what Donghae dreads the most. How is he suppose to tell his perfect little girl that her mother left and might not ever be coming back? That it was his fault because he wasn’t the man she needed?
It’s all he can do to swallow down his unease and pull the front door open, hoping he was managing some semblance of a smile – only to have a blur of squealing pink ruffles attach itself to his leg. Of course, something as simple as that would be what pulls him out of his negative thoughts.
“Daddy!” Miyoung shouts, giggling when Donghae lifts her up and hugs her close “I missed you! Mommy said she’s gonna be gone for a really long time, so that means that daddy is all mine now!”
“Hi sweetheart,” Donghae replies, ignoring the way his heart clenches at her enthusiasm. He could only imagine what her mother had told Miyoung to keep her from crying and impeding her departure. “Did you have fun with Grandma and Grandpa today?”
“Mhmm! Me and Gramma made cookies and Grampa made me a fort and played princess with me!” Miyoung giggles happily, snuggling her face into Donghae’s neck and clinging to the blue material of his uniform shirt tighter than she ever has before. Donghae can’t help but feel that it’s all a ploy to hide how scared and confused she must be. “Daddy, you’re not gonna leave too, are you?”
Her words are quiet and Donghae probably wouldn’t have heard them had she not pressed herself so close to him. Miyoung’s body starts to tremble, and Donghae can feel his façade crumbling down to nothing. It’s what he had feared most; being unable to protect his daughter from the pain and rejection of being abandoned by one of the people she was supposed to trust the most.
“No, baby. Daddy won’t ever leave you,” Donghae mumbles, words as unstable as the arms he wraps around Miyoung’s body. Donghae had promised himself that he would stay strong for his little girl, but her heartbroken sobs leave him feeling like the mess he has become. “Don’t cry, Miyoung. Everything will be alright.”
Donghae can feel her nodding, the tension in her fingers fading slowly as he rocks her back and forth in his arms to soothe her. Miyoung is asleep before he even makes it into the spare bedroom his parents have set up just for her, tear tracks more visible on his shirt than her rounded cheeks. There are toys scattered across the floor, but one manages to catch his eye and he tucks the plush orange fish into bed along with his daughter and the hope that it will provide her even a small amount of comfort.
His feet feel heavier than ever on his trek to the kitchen to find his parents. All the things he thinks to say seem inadequate in the face of such an upheaval.
“What did she say?” Donghae manages to get out, finally venturing a glance at his mother’s apologetic face. All of the pity he was afraid to face is right there in the arms that pull him close into a hug. He feels like he’s a child all over again, being comforted over the loss of something that feels insignificant now.
“Tiffany didn’t say much, she didn't let us know where she was going or why she was leaving. She just... She said she was sorry.” His mother says, brushing some of Donghae’s hair out of his eyes with a far more pained expression than he expects. “Honey, why don’t you think about moving back here with us until you get things sorted out? Your father and I can look after Miyoung while you’re at work. And since she’s so close to starting school, it would be better for her to be in this district.”
“I… I don’t know, Mom. What if Tiffany changes her mind and comes back?” Donghae knows he’s grasping at the little bit of hope he has left, but there’s a part of him that refuses to accept that she really isn’t going to be the center of his world anymore. His future had been so clear to him, but now all he can see is a haze of uncertainty.
“Just think about it, alright?” They both know there’s little point in holding on to something that isn’t there, but Donghae can’t seem to find his usual sensible self. It probably is what’s best for Miyoung, but can he really part with the home that they built together? The place that holds so many precious memories for them all?
Time is said to heal all wounds, but Donghae figures that’s just something people say to make you feel better. It feels more like time slowly pulls at the little bits of hope you cling to until all that’s left is rationality. It’s exactly how a police officer is supposed to be, and it had done wonders for his career, moving him up two ranks in as many years. Personal relationships had no place in the professional world, after all.
Even if people had told him that he’d changed, become colder and more closed off, he never let it affect the way he behaved around his daughter. Miyoung had become more beautiful and charming by the day, and had somehow managed to heal the wound Tiffany had left in his heart.
The most difficult thing had to be watching how much Miyoung missed and yearned for her mother. It nearly killed him to tell her that mommy was probably never coming back, and he held the young girl in his arms until her sobs died down and her breathing evened out. Somewhere along the way, the hurt had turned into anger and disdain for the woman he had once held so dearly.
His mother had been right all along; moving in with them was the best thing for Miyoung. Even if he wasn’t always there to give her the attention she deserved, her grandparents were sure to keep her from ever feeling unloved. Miyoung seemed to adjust to school better than he could have hoped for. Having a chance to interact with children of her own age on a regular basis brought her out of her shell, and before he knew it, his little girl was starting the second grade with a smile on her face and a bag on her shoulders.
“Daddy, I’ll be fine. I’m a big girl now, okay?” Miyoung assures him, hands on her hips as they stand outside of her new classroom. “Go to work before uncle Minnie starts yelling at you.”
“Aish, who taught you to be so bossy, young lady?” Donghae asks, barely containing a laugh as he crouches and pulls his daughter into his arms for one last hug. Sungmin’s overconfidence seemed to be rubbing off on her. “Have a good day. Grandma will be by to pick you up at the end of the day, so don’t keep her waiting.”
“Yes, I know. Bye daddy!” Miyoung calls out, planting a kiss on his cheek and squirming out of his arms to run inside.
Donghae only allows himself a short glance into the room where Miyoung has attached herself to another young girl with a happy giggle, before heading down the hall toward the main entrance of the academy. There’s no time for distraction, even if there are plenty of pretty faces watching his every step. Women have proved themselves to be nothing but trouble for him, anyway.
“Getting all sentimental again?” Sungmin teases when Donghae slides into the passenger seat, a cup of coffee in one hand and a pastry in the other. Donghae rolls his eyes and cracks a smile anyway, snatching the sweet treat from the other’s hand and taking a bite before he can complain or take it back.
“She really is getting big, Min. And looking more like her mother every day.”
“Hey, I thought I told you not to go there. It isn’t doing anyone any good.” Sungmin chides, making no effort to take back his breakfast before putting the car into drive and speeding down the road when the radio blares a location near them.
A sarcastic ‘yes mother’ is the last thing Donghae is able to say before they arrive at the scene and he’s thrown back into the emotionless role he’s convinced himself to play. It’s fairly routine; a car accident on a busy street, but it still manages to take up their entire morning. The last of the forms are being filled out when Donghae feels his pocket vibrating. He contemplates not answering it when an unfamiliar number flashes across the screen, but the protective father in him has him accepting the call just in time.
Sungmin doesn’t even know what’s hit him when he’s being pushed into the passenger seat of the squad car and Donghae speeds back in the direction that they had come from a few hours ago. Trying to pry information out of his partner is like pulling teeth, so he’s completely thrown for a loop when Donghae rushes back into Miyoung’s school and comes out carrying her within a few short minutes. The young girl’s face is red and streaked with tears while she cradles her arm gingerly. The skin is swollen and red, and in his limited medical knowledge, Sungmin concludes that it’s broken. They’ll probably catch hell for ignoring their paperwork in favor of caring for Donghae’s daughter, but it seems trivial when her wellbeing is at stake.
Once again, Sungmin assures him that he’ll handle things at work while Donghae walks his daughter into the emergency room of the nearest hospital.
“Thank you, uncle Minnie,” Miyoung sniffles, trying to smile at him but failing rather miserably.
“Any time, sweetheart.”
Donghae gives him a wave and sits Miyoung down in a chair while he fills out paperwork and answers any questions the receptionist asks. It only takes a few minutes before they’re being led into an exam room by a pretty, smiling, blond nurse. Something about the look in his eyes releases some of the tension in Donghae’s shoulder and he lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.
“I’m Nurse Lee, Miyoung. We’ll get that arm of yours all fixed up, alright?” The man smiles and it’s as much gums as it is teeth. Donghae is surprised when Miyoung returns that smile and nods in response, and even more so when that pretty smile is directed at him. “We’ll take good care of your daughter, Mister Lee.”
“You can call me Donghae.” Donghae has no idea what possesses him to say it, but the moment it leaves his lips, he feels his cheeks growing warmer. He’s in the middle of cursing himself when he hears a soft laugh and looks up to see the nurse checking Miyoung’s vitals and scribbling them down. “I mean… Thank you, Nurse Lee.”
“It’s my pleasure. We’ll just need to take some x-rays and if it’s broken, like I expect it to be, I’ll be back in after it’s set to get her a cast.” The blond man smiles once again, but there’s something different about this one. It’s softer, kinder, and if he isn’t imagining it, almost flirtatious. When he’s at the door, the nurse turns and that smile changes into a grin. “You can call me Hyukjae.”
Donghae finds his heart thudding in his chest and the rational side of him doesn’t know how to handle it. There had been a couple of times when he was younger that another man had flirted with him, but it had never brought about a reaction like this. Never had he found another man attractive, and it left Donghae feeling rather distressed. Sungmin was definitely what he would consider pretty, but this Nurse Hyukjae was beyond gorgeous.
“Daddy… Daddy!” Miyoung shouts, startling Donghae out of his reverie with a nudge to his shoulder. “The doctor is trying to talk to you.”
“Aish, such a sassy girl,” Donghae groans, turning to look at the doctor that had come into the room. How long had he been spaced out? Apparently long enough for Miyoung to have x-rays taken and processed. “Yes Doctor. Is it broken?”
“I’m afraid so, Mister Lee. Fortunately it’s a hairline fracture and far enough from the wrist that she’ll only need to wear the cast for four weeks. Nurse Lee will be in shortly to finish things up. Do you have any more questions for me?” The doctor asks with a smile nowhere near as charming as the last one Donghae saw, but Donghae gives a curt shake of his head.
“No, thank you doctor.” Donghae replies faster than he means to, reaching out to shake the hand that’s been extended to him. He has no idea what’s wrong with him, but excitement tingles in the pit of his stomach and he feels his entire body buzzing when the door is closed. Turning to Miyoung, he takes a deep breath, “so you fell off the monkey bars?”
“Yeah, I already told you that it was slippery and I fell. You’re so spacey, daddy.” Miyoung says with a shake of her head. “You should just ask him on a date if you like him so much.”
Donghae’s jaw drops when he realizes that the door has been open just long enough for Hyukjae to hear everything Miyoung has just said. He’s a grown man; something like this should not embarrass him. Though of course, things never work out that way and a gentle hand rests on his shoulder.
“She seems like quite the handful.” Hyukjae says with a small laugh before releasing his shoulder. Donghae doesn’t even realize he’s staring until Hyukjae turns around and Miyoung has a brand new, bright pink cast adorning her forearm. “Miyoung is all set, Donghae.”
Donghae is sure he isn’t imagining the slight tint of pink that blooms on the bridge of Hyukjae’s nose when he uses his first name. It only adds to his appeal, and Donghae pinches the back of his hand to keep himself from falling into another assessment of his sexuality.
“Thank you very much, H-Hyukjae,” Donghae stutters, standing from his chair and holding his hand out to the stunning blond.
“You’re very welcome.” Hyukjae says, eyes almost disappearing into small crescents with the wide smile he directs at Donghae. His hand lingers just a moment longer than normal, but Donghae feels a small sense of loss when Hyukjae takes his hand back and leaves only a small piece of folded paper behind. “I won’t say no.”
Donghae is bewildered as the pretty blond scoops up his clipboard and slips out of the room with another sly smile. At least until he opens the paper and finds a number scribbled haphazardly on it. He finds his mouth hanging open in a stunned silence once more, until he’s interrupted by a hand tugging on his sleeve.
“Come on, Daddy. You can daydream about nurse Hyukkie later.” Miyoung urges, tugging on his hand to pull him from the chair and out of the room.
“I’m really going to have to do something about that attitude of yours. You’ve been spending too much time with Sungmin.” Donghae sighs, but can’t seem to keep the smile from his face.
“That’s just silly. Uncle Minnie is really smart.” Miyoung retorts, reaching into Donghae’s pocket and pulling out his cell phone without a second thought. Before he knows it, she’s dialed Sungmin’s number and is chatting away with him. “Minnie says he’s gonna be here soon and that we can get ice cream.”
How had his little princess grown up so quickly without him noticing?
“So you’re telling me that you think he was flirting with you?” Sungmin asks, tongue curling around the cherry-vanilla ice cream dripping down his cone. There’s something of a smirk on his face and Donghae can’t help but scowl. “I had always wondered about you, Hae. I just thought you were going to stay in the closet forever.”
“I am not in the closet!” Donghae yelps before he can think about it. His little outburst turns multiple heads and a few disapproving stares, but Sungmin barks with laughter, nearly dropping his ice cream on the floor. “I’m not gay, Sungmin. He just… He was prettier than any girl I’ve ever seen.”
“That sounds pretty gay to me.” Sungmin replies, shrinking back just a bit at the glare Donghae shoots his way. His best friend’s sexuality crisis is actually quite amusing, if you were to ask him. “I’ve always said that women are more trouble than they’re worth. Why do you think I don’t bother with them?”
“Daddy, it’s okay if you like boys.” Miyoung pipes in, showing her father a bright, chocolate-covered smile.
“Honey, I don’t like boys.” Donghae sighs, ignoring the heat he feels rising to his cheeks and wiping some of the mess from his daughter’s face. If he knew Sungmin, Miyoung would be joining in, and he wouldn’t get away without at least a text message. “Uncle Minnie is just teasing me.”
“I dunno, Daddy. You were looking at Nurse Hyukkie the same way that Minnie looks at Kyuhyunnie, and I saw them kissing.” The young girl shakes her head, hair almost landing in her rapidly melting ice cream.
“What have you done to my precious little girl?” Donghae groans dramatically and Sungmin at least has the decency to look embarrassed. “I’m not gay, and I wasn’t looking at him any special way. I was just overwhelmed by everything that was happening and spaced out a little bit.”
Sungmin had known from the beginning of the conversation that Donghae was going to be stubborn, so it’s no surprise that he’s still denying his attraction to the pretty nurse that had taken such good care of his daughter. Donghae has always done things by the book, so of course, straying from what was considered ‘acceptable’ was going to be difficult for him.
“Just think about it. It’s not like meeting him for coffee or something is going to be the end of the world. You don’t even have to call it a date.”
It can’t hurt to consider it, right?
This is stupid. Why am I even thinking about asking him out? What can I even say; thanks for taking care of my daughter, you have a beautiful smile? Girls never made me think this hard.
Donghae can’t seem to quiet his thoughts, the day’s event’s running through his mind without rest. How can one small encounter have him questioning everything he thought about his sexuality? A small groan leaves his lips as he rolls over once more and stares at the dark shape he knows to be his cell phone sitting on his night stand. The glaring red numbers of his alarm clock only serve as another reminder of his dilemma.
His fingers curl around the phone and Donghae winces when the light hits his eyes. Sungmin had managed to enter ‘Sexy Nurse’ into his phone without him realizing it until he returned home for the night. Somehow he couldn’t bring himself to change it.
This is Donghae, you took care of my daughter? Would you like to have coffee sometime?
It’s completely awkward, but Donghae sends it before he can second guess himself all over again. At least he can sleep now that the problem has been confronted. Or he would have been able to had he not felt the vibration of his phone that had fallen next to him on the bed.
How could I forget you? Coffee sounds great. How does Friday afternoon look for you?
Donghae squints as his eyes focus on the small letters on the screen. It’s difficult to ignore the unusual thumping in his chest as he types out his response.
Friday afternoon is good. Meet me at the café across from the hospital at 3?
Donghae finds himself drifting off as he reads Hyukjae’s response, phone falling to his chest without him realizing it.
It’s a date.
Donghae has no idea why he thinks this was a good idea. It was stupid to think that asking a complete stranger out for something like coffee would be anything less than awkward. Perhaps it’s simply that Hyukjae’s smile is so distracting, but he can’t help but wring his hands under the table as he waits in the small café they had agreed to meet at.
The small jingle of the door opening catches Donghae’s attention, and he can’t help but stare as Hyukjae walks in. Hyukjae in scrubs was pretty, but Hyukjae in glasses, a grey sweater, and skinny jeans is beautiful. It isn’t until there’s a hand being waved in front of his face that he realizes the other man is right in front of him.
“You okay there?” Hyukjae asks with a small smile, sliding into the booth across from Donghae and settling in.
“Oh sorry. I uh… I’m kind of new to this.” Donghae mumbles, sipping at his latte in an effort to avoid eye contact. It works for a moment, but he’s there again with that disarming smile and he finds himself staring all over again.
“I’m actually a little surprised you asked me out. You seemed shy, and I honestly wasn’t sure if you were interested or just distracted.” Hyukjae admits, unwinding the scarf from around his neck.
“Well to be honest, this is the first time I’ve been out with another man.” Hyukjae doesn’t seem to be put off or offended and Donghae breathes a sigh of relief. This was all so foreign to him, and the last thing he wanted to do was ruin things before he even got to know the other man.
“I’m flattered then,” Hyukjae says with another small smile, but this time there’s a light tint to his cheeks and Donghae feels himself relax a little more.
Hyukjae is smart and charming in addition to being great with children, Donghae learns. He’s a year older than Donghae, and had even attended the same university. Apparently Hyukjae is also quite the dancer as well.
Their date had gone incredibly well after they had managed to get over the initial awkwardness, but it only seemed to make Donghae even more confused.
“I don’t see what the problem is if you had a good time, Hae. I know you’re completely questioning your sexuality right now, but it’s not like you have to decide if you want to marry him or anything like that. You’ve had one date. Why not just enjoy yourself and think about that later?” Sungmin reasons over lunch before stuffing a bite of food into his mouth. “I mean, he already knows that you’re in the closet, so if he tries to push anything on you, you can just kick his ass or something.”
“How many times do I have to tell you I’m not in the closet? And that doesn’t even make any sense.” Donghae groans, simply staring at his partner with a look of disbelief. He thought that Sungmin would be helpful, but all he seems to be doing is spouting off nonsense. “I just don’t want to have some sort of a panic attack and freak out on him for no reason. Dating girls was never this hard, Min.”
“You only say that because you were supposed to like girls, and now that you’re attracted to another man, you don’t know what to do with yourself. Just forget about what anyone else is going to think and do what feels natural.” Sungmin replies, before leaning in with a rather sadistic little grin. “You can worry about fucking him later.”
“Damn it Sungmin!”
“A club? I… I guess that could be fun. I’ll just have to be sure my parents can look after Miyoung.” Donghae says, nervously chewing on his lower lip. It’s been years since he’s been out to someplace like that and his thoughts are buzzing like a teenaged girl’s.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but I’ve always had a good time. But we can always do something else if you end up not liking it.” Hyukjae replies and Donghae can hear the excitement in his voice. It’s hard to believe that someone as gentle and soft spoken as Hyukjae would be the type to enjoy nightclubs. But maybe that’s just the old man in him talking.
“I’m sure it will be fun. I’ll see you this weekend then. Good night, Hyukjae.” Donghae knows there’s a stupid smile on his face, and it’s near impossible to hide it when Miyoung comes bounding into his room, stuffed orange fish in hand.
“Daddy, are you going on another date with Nurse Hyukkie?” She asks, jumping onto his bed and climbing up to sit on his lap. “Uncle Minnie says you have it bad, but I dunno what that means. Are you sick, daddy?”
“No, baby. I’m not sick, that’s just an expression. He means that I like Hyukjae, that’s all.” Donghae explains, smoothing out his daughter’s hair and smiling rather stupidly.
“Oh… Then Uncle Minnie has it really bad. I heard him talking all mushy on the phone and he’s always blushing whenever Kyuhyunnie is around. And, they’re always getting all kissy whenever they’re together.”
“Aish, it’s like he’s a teenager or something.” He groans, head falling back into his pillows once more. Sometimes Donghae can’t help but wonder if Sungmin is a good influence on his daughter. Lord only knows what other kinds of things she’s been exposed to.
Donghae doesn’t understand what it is about Hyukjae that makes him so nervous and has him questioning himself as if he’s never been out on a date before. Telling himself that they’re just friends hasn’t worked at all, and the fact that Sungmin had somehow convinced him into a pair of skin-tight jeans and a leather jacket only adds to his self-doubt. Hyukjae’s just going to think he looks ridiculous and will spend the rest of the night laughing at him.
“Wow, you look,” Hyukjae breathes when he sees Donghae sitting in the same small café they had agreed to meet at once again, mouth slightly open and eyes wide as if words are alluding him, “amazing. I never would have thought you would own clothes like that.”
Hyukjae’s cheeks are a nice shade of pink and steadily darkening as he continues to look at Donghae, seemingly entranced by the brunette. Hyukjae has always been quick-witted and clever, but apparently he can have the same kind of moments Donghae has been having multiple times a day since he met the other man. Rather than feeling more relaxed, however, the attention has Donghae doubting himself all over again.
“Yeah umm… Sungmin convinced me that I couldn’t wear something more simple. I don’t know why I always let him convince me to do things,” Donghae begins to babble, but is startled into silence by Hyukjae’s hand covering his own. Those pretty fingers curl around his palm and pull him from his seat, leaving no room for argument.
“Sungmin has good taste.” Hyukjae mumbles, barely registering the tinkle of the bell as the door opens and closes with their departure. It takes Donghae a bit longer than normal to realize what’s happening, and it only fully registers with him when his back bumps into the bricks of a nearby building, cool from the night air. Excitement tinged with an edge of fear churns in the pit of his stomach when Hyukjae’s pretty brown eyes turn up to meet his own.
There’s a silent question there that he isn’t sure he’s ready to answer. All rational thoughts he would normally have seem to have evaporated into thin air. Hyukjae’s hands slide to his shoulders and he knows he can’t avoid thinking about it anymore. It might go against everything he’s been taught to be right, but his hands move to the other man’s waist before he has time to scold himself for being impulsive.
After all, he is only human.
This entry was originally posted at http://sujuexchange.dreamwidth.org/2007