WARNINGS: None. Why would there be a warning? It’s extreme fluff.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: AU where Yongguk is a kindergarten teacher and has an eye on little Choi Junhong’s mum.
There was nothing more that made Yongguk smile than spending time with the twenty-three little kids that were enrolled in his kindergarten class. The kids were sprawled on the floor, small cartons of milk and chocolate chip cookies in their hands as they all listened carefully to their teacher telling them a story.
Yongguk had the book raised, his slim fingers pointing at the pictures and Korean characters that the children tried to read. He told them The Story of Chilseok, or the Milky Way Lovers. It was a story his children loved to hear, most of the time. Sometimes they preferred Goodnight Moon or Waiting for Mama, The Name Jar, and Am I Small? Sometimes, they wanted Bee-Bim-Bop! or The Green Frogs: A Korean Folk Tale. After all, Bang Yongguk’s children loved to hear him read.
No matter the infinite amount of children’s book that he came across, they always loved The Milky Way Lovers more. It was a well known story: the heavenly king had a daughter named Jiknyeo, who was very good at weaving clothes. One day, when she looked out the window, she saw a handsome boy just across the Milky Way, a herder called Gyeonwu. She fell in love with him. Finally, the heavenly father allowed the two to get married. Afterwards, Jiknyeo did not want to weave clothes and Gyeonwu did not take care of the sheep and cows.
The heavenly king grew angry, and ordered the couple to live apart from each other, allowing them to meet only once a year. On the seventh day of the seventh month of each year was the only time they could meet each other. But they couldn’t cross the Milky Way. However, crows and magpies worked together to form a bridge across the Milky Way so they could meet.
Yongguk’s intention on reading the book was for simple fun, but his children loved it too much. They even made a play! If they were not the three main characters, they became the magpies and crows that helped the lovers.
"Bang seonsaengnim!” A kid raised his hand, almost dropping the carton of milk. “Can I bring a cake tomorrow? Tomorrow is my birthday, and umma said I could celebrate it here if you let me.”
"Of course!" Yongguk grinned. "Make sure that there’s enough for everyone, okay?"
As the day progressed, and Yongguk’s anxiety rose, it was finally time for the day to end. Parents came to pick up their children, all of them thanking him for teaching and taking care of them. There was one kid that stood apart from the rest of the children—Choi Junhong.
"Where’s your family?" A boy asked him. "Are they not here?"
"Junhong doesn’t have a family." A girl joined out of nowhere.
"Yes, I do…" Junhong defended himself, quietly.
"Then why don’t you have a dad?" the girl spat.
Junhong began to tear up and looked back down at his book. The girl, who seemed to enjoy making him cry, took the book away from him and threw it to the other side of the room. She stared at Junhong and furrowed her brows. “You don’t have a real family, Junhong. Every one knows that to have a real family you need a mum and dad.”
Yongguk watched the girl run away from Junhong and towards her parents. The boy stayed behind for a few second, saying nothing, then ran to his mother. Yongguk, on the other hand, kept his eyes on Junhong. With a sigh, he walked to him and laid a hand on his back. “Are you okay?”
Junhong nodded, but the tears falling down his cheeks betrayed him. “Seonsaengnim!” he cried. “Choi Jinae said I don’t have a real family because I don’t have a dad!
"Junhong," Yongguk sighed, lifting the boy up in his arms. He rocked the boy, trying to calm down the cries that echoed around the colourful room. They were alone, just two souls that were lost. "Junhong, don’t cry."
"Bang seonsaengnim!” the boy cried again. “Why? Why don’t I have a dad? Everyone of my friends has a dad, and I don’t!”
Yongguk took a seat in the orange coloured sofa and put the child on his lap. Choi Junhong cried on his teacher’s chest, tears ruining the black button up shirt that the man decided to wear that day. Of course, that didn’t bother Yongguk. What bothered him was that the kids were making fun of him for having a small family. He took it upon himself to make sure that Choi Junhong would not cry any more.
"Junhong," Yongguk muttered, cleaning the snot coming from the child’s running node. "I don’t have a dad either."
"What?" The cries coming from the child became quieter, until it was just him gasping each few seconds. "Seonsaengnim, you don’t have a dad?”
"Nope," Yongguk shook his head with a small smile appearing around his lips. He was glad that the little boy wasn’t crying. "My dad left when I was three. In my house, it was just my mum, my sister, and my twin brother."
"You have a twin brother?!" Junhong gasped.
Yongguk laughed, “You’ve seen him before! Remember the person that came two weeks ago that looked just like me but with shorter hair? That was my twin brother, Yongnam.”
"I thought it was you," Junhong muttered with furrowed brows. "I thought you cut your hair."
"No," Yongguk chuckled. "Now you know that it was my brother."
Two hours passed. Night fell over the school and Yongguk was still in his classroom with little Choi Junhong. He was used to having the kid with him till late at night. His mother worked a full time job, his uncle was busy with his high school studies, and his grandmother and grandfather were absent.
Yongguk worked on his desk, looking over the planner and working on his computer. There was soft music escaping from his computer, an English-speaking musician with a soft voice that always made Yongguk want to sing along.
It wasn’t till he packed up that Choi Junhong’s mother came running in to his classroom. Her light brown hair was all over the place, making Yongguk want to run his hands through and fix. Her lips, small and coloured a plum colour, looked kissable to him. He would be satisfied with a simple brush from her lips.
"I’m sorry," she breathed. "I’m so sorry!"
“Umma!” Junhong stood up and ran to her, immediately jumping on her arms.
"Junghong-ah!" Choi So Ra grinned at her son, then looked at Yongguk with a worried expression. "Seonsaengnim, I’m so sorry for being late. I had to do a double shift due to one of my co-workers being sick.”
"Don’t worry," Yongguk grinned, pulling his bag around his shoulders and accompanying the two out of the classroom. "I had a fun time with Junhong. Isn’t that right?"
Junhong nodded, tightly grabbing his mother’s hand. “Seonsaengnim told me about his family! He doesn’t have a dad, like me!”
Yongguk saw Sora frown at his words, and then sigh and take a deep breath. Of course she would frown, Yongguk knew how people reacted when they found out there wasn’t a parent in the picture. But people were forgiving to Yongguk’s family, his parents were divorced. Junhong’s case was completely different. Sora got pregnant when she was a teenager, widely frowned upon in Korea. His father was a one night stand, and that would cause a lot of trouble for him.
As Junhong was strapped in his seat in the back of Sora’s car, she turned to speak to to him. “Please, forgive me. I should have come sooner, and Sangmin was busy with his studies… I should have gotten Himchan to pick him up.”
"Himchan?" Yongguk raised a brow, his heart quickening in pace. "Is he a boyfriend?" He hoped not.
Sora laughed, “No. He’s my friend and neighbour. Sometimes, he takes care of Junhong.”
"Oh," Yongguk nodded.
"I’m sorry," she repeated again. "Is there anything I can do to repay you of this? It hasn’t been the first time this has happened…"
Yongguk looked at the woman, his thoughts reeling. He wanted to ask her out, just him and her on a good day throughout Seoul. Maybe they could go to the market, eat and shop, and then cook together in his apartment. He would make her a killer seafood dinner, and then he would kiss her while they were drinking wine in his balcony. He would kiss her good, kiss her quiet.
"How about we go out for dinner," he said suddenly. "Junhong and I haven’t had any dinner, and you obviously have not had any. We can go to a great samgyupsal place I know.”
And she agreed. And the three went to the restaurant with smiles on their faces. Yongguk couldn’t help but stare at Sora as she fed Junhong, who kept asking for more whenever she was going to put a piece of the meat to her mouth. He couldn’t help but start to feed Junhong as well, giving Sora a bit of time so she could also enjoy the meal.
The three felt happy, and for once Yongguk didn’t want to go home and close himself in the obscurity of his room. He enjoyed being with Sora, and it was basically a dream come true. Ever since he saw her for the first time, on the first day of school, he just couldn’t keep her away from his mind. With the first word she ever told him, he was stuck in the ongoing lullaby.
“Aigoo!” And old woman breathed as she brought them more meat. “What a beautiful family! You’re so lucky to have such a handsome husband!”
Sora looked surprised at the sudden words from the woman. And Yongguk choked with the meat in his mouth. Jonghyun, on the other hand, smiled and nodded as he chewed. He grinned when he was finished, “Imo, don’t my dad and mum make a good couple?”
“Aigoo! Of course they do!” the woman laughed. “You should take care of such a lovely wife, ahdul. Woman who can have such beautiful children come rarely, especially such a beautiful woman such as her.” Without another word, the woman left and then came back with more meat and rice. She told them that the extra food would be for free, and then she left to talk to the other older women who were on the other side of the family-owned restaurant.
Even though the atmosphere was a bit complicated for a while, the three kept on going as before. Junhong was fed by the two, and the two sometimes fed each other. It had been a long time since Yongguk felt like that. How it felt to be in a happy relationship with someone. His last girlfriend was a drunk who was only with him because of the money he acquired through working. She would request designer handbags and have him buy him clothes as well. Then once she got tired of Yongguk denying her, she left him for some other rich bloke.
After their long dinner, Yongguk walked Sora to the car with Junhong asleep on his arms. They walked slowly, the two obviously enjoying the time they were spending together.
"Bang seonsaengnim,” Sora began.
"Call me Yongguk," he interrupted with a grin. "I think we’re close enough to be informal with each other. Isn’t that right, jagiya?” He teased her, moving the child to his other shoulder.
"That woman," Sora shook her head with a smile. "Do you know her?"
"She works there," he nodded. "She never served me though. The ahjumma that usually served me quit a few months ago since her muscles bothered her a lot.”
Yongguk put the child in the back, strapping him in for Sora. She smiled at him when he pulled out, her arms crossed and her back leaning against the white car.
"Thank you," she said with a nod.
"For?" Yongguk put his hands in his pockets and raised a brow.
"For the dinner," she began. "And for the many times you took care of Junhong when I could not pick him up. It means a lot."
"It’s no problem," Yongguk ran a hand through his hair. "Um…"
"I should get going," Sora muttered, looking down at the set of keys in her hand. "Again, thank you."
"Wait." He stopped her before she could get in the car. When she turned around and met his eyes, Yongguk froze. They were a shade of brown that him melt. To him, they looked like two round caramel candies looking back at him. It made his heart accelerate, his palms sweat, and his head reel in the thought of leaning in and pressing a kiss to her plum coloured lips.
"I was wondering…" He stepped back and looked down to his feet. "Do you want to go get a coffee this Saturday?"
"Coffee?" she asked. "What time?"
"I’ll understand if you say no…" He looked up, a smile spreading around his lips. "What?"
"What time?" she repeated with a grin.
"Does two sound good?"
On the way home, the smile never disappeared from his lips. All he could think about as he drove were the caramels in her eyes and the plum coloured lips that he longed to kiss. It appeared that the kindergarten teacher finally found his Jiknyeo.