Genre: Fluff, AU
Summary: So what if Dongwoon looks like a caucasian?
A/N: To the person who left me upstairs, my wonderful champagneshots ☺ miss you hon! This is long overdue I know!!!
He couldn't help that he looked like a Caucasian. He was born that way. From two completely Korean people, out came a Caucasian kid? It was a wonder his parentage was doubted by his own umma and appa since birth.
He was always expected to top the class in English because of his appearance. But much to the dismay of those around him, the teachers soon learned the lesson they had been drilling into their students since the tender age of two—don't judge a book by its cover.
So when Son Dongwoon got into a new university where none of the professors knew him, he was on the top of the ‘possible candidature list’ to be sent for an overseas transfer programme to English speaking countries. And sure enough, he was selected to go on an exchange programme to England, where he would stay for six months.
One week into the exchange programme and Dongwoon was on the verge of insanity, his ever fibre in his body just crying out for release from this far-too-foreign land.
He had found himself licking ice-cream from the only familiar place in this foreign land—the magical golden arches. Taking a walk through Regent’s Park kept him sane most days, which was what he chose to do on that autumn evening.
Dongwoon plants himself on a weather-worn park bench and pulls out a thick English book, painfully plowing through each word and stringing each sentence together with difficulty in his attempt to make sense of the novel. It’s all part of the ‘immersion’ and he has made up half a mind to give it a shot—the other half of him is not yet convinced that English is anything important.
Despite his efforts in making his struggle to read the book inconspicuous to uncaring passer-bys, after an hour or so, Dongwoon finds himself only on the fifth page, stuck on the same line for the past five minutes, and the words have turned into meaningless Romanization and garbles sounds. He slams the book to a close and tosses it callously to the empty seat on his right, but notices a youth staring at him from the next bench, his curious eyes peeking through the top of a pair of thick black spectacles.
Dongwoon looks determinedly away at the falling leaves of crimson and gold littering the floor around him and sweeps away a beautiful scarlet leaf that has landed on his neglected literature.
“Umm sir?” the youth is suddenly before Dongwoon. Dongwoon notices how wide and innocent his eyes look through his glasses and how his thick lips look like an endearing pout when his face relaxes. “Do you know where is London School of Economics?”
And his familiar accents strikes a chord in Dongwoon.
“Are you Korean?” he asks in Korean, fingers crossed more tightly than they otherwise would have been. Maybe he’s Japanese. He thinks, but hopes otherwise.
A smile spreads across the face of the youth and he brightens up, because he too, like Dongwoon, has found familiarity in a foreign land.
“Omo, annyeonghaesyo!” he bows at a ninety-degree angle and Dongwoon wonders if the man would have been this polite if Dongwoon was not Korean. But he is too elated at the prospect of meeting someone of “his kind” after so many days to be bothered by such trivial thoughts.
“Annyeonghaseyo,” he returns the greeting in a similar manner. “My name’s Dongwoon,” he adds, extending a hand out to the man.
“Ah! Yes, Kikwang.” He replies, in his personal revelation that he had forgotten to introduce himself.
Kikwang stands still awhile, a smile spread across his face from ear to ear. Dongwoon wonders when he is going to speak, because the silence thickens with awkwardness, just as how he wonders whether Kikwang is a pabo.
Until he can no longer stand the silence, “Umm, you wanted to ask me something?”, he breaks it.
Kikwang is probably drunk with the idea that he has met another Korean person, just as he is but shows it just as an average person would with alcohol, Dongwoon thinks when Kikwang is awoken from his second reverie like he was splashed with a bucket of cold water.
“Oh right.. Uhh—right, I wanted to ask where the London School of Economics is.” The conversation sounds more soothing to Dongwoon, now that it had reverted to his native tongue, and he slips in and out of the drunken stupor that Kikwang displayed earlier.
“Yeah, come I’ll show you. You studying there?”
And they begin to walk through the park deep in Korean conversation.
Dongwoon discovers that Kikwang, like him, had just entered the UK and had not yet adjusted to the language and the life. He learns that Kikwang too, is taking a course in Business Management and Economics. He learns a lot of things about Kikwang and discovers that they have similar tastes and preferences, like pistachio ice-cream—when they stop by a gelato stand on the way. And he thinks he can learn more when they finally part ways at the gates of LSE and Kikwang asks him out for a drink that evening.
One month into Dongwoon’s stay, he finds it comfortable having Kikwang around all the time, meeting up after classes despite being from different compounds.
He finds it normal for Kikwang to have an arm casually but uncomfortably slung over his shoulder—uncomfortable because Kikwang is much shorter than Dongwoon—just cause Kikwang is friendly and overly touchy-feely like that.
He has learned, amongst many things, that Kikwang is only book smart—but then again, no one said anything about him being street smart. So Dongwoon figures that he must always be there for his hyung, just in case something happens. He rationalizes that he is not being over-protective, he’s just being a concerned Dongsaeng.
“What! You’ve been there two months already and you’re still as bad as ever? You think our money just sprouts out from the ground like that? What am I paying good money for? Why hasn’t your English improved at all?”
The online video conversations Dongwoon has with his mother often start like that, a brief chiding of Dongwoon’s ever-lacking English, then a concerned-mother’s speech.
But that never bothered Dongwoon. He does not care that he has not learn any more English than he should have, because he soon realizes that it doesn’t matter, as long as he can speak to Kikwang in Korean and create their own little world in which only the both of them exist.
By the third month, Kikwang and Dongwoon have comfortably settled into a single apartment and Kikwang, having overheard numerous conversations between DOngwoon and his parents, realizes how his presence has affected Dongwoon’s studies.
“Am I a terrible influence?”
“What are you talking about? –Oh that. You really don't have to bother about it, I wouldn't have been able to learn English either way.”
“But if we never met, it would’ve been so much easier for you…”
Dongwoon shrugs and says nothing. He pulls the pouting Kikwang toward him into a tight embrace, burying the older man’s face in the folds of his jacket and smiles, “who gives a damn about that stupid language anyway.”
He feels his clothes move as Kikwang’s face pulls upwards into a smile. When Kikwang suddenly pulls away, he feels temporarily empty and cold where Kikwang’s face once was.
“Dongwoon! I’m going to speak to you in English from now on!” His face is one of glee at his genius idea, his euphoria completely drowning out the enormous possibility that the smile that Dongwoon had across his face at the point of that revelation could just be a painful one.
By the fourth month, Dongwoon can speak decent English and hold a conversation with random strangers, which Kikwang wishes he wouldn’t because it just makes him a little jealous.
But he still gets little things wrong, like the names of certain foods, or asking the bus conductor for a plane ticket instead. Thank goodness for him, Kikwang is around most of the time to help or steer him away from dangerous (for Kikwang) conversations.
It doesn't help that Dongwoon’s sense of direction is awful either, because that, and his difficulty speaking English left him stranded in the middle of London late one weeknight with a dead cell phone and only enough change for one phone call.
And it is not before long that a breathless Kikwang, huffing clouds of vapour into the English air in exasperation and exhaustion clasps a hand on Dongwoon’s shoulder.
“HYUNG!” and a blast of enthusiasm knocks even more air out of the tired Kikwang.
“You’re such a douche,” he manages, ruffling the younger man’s hair. “Come let’s get home.”
“Wait, hyung…” And Kikwang stops to face the dumbnut who got himself lost to see his face all scrounged up in a bleak attempt to hide an extremely audible tummy growl for food.
Too cute, Kikwang thinks, before buying the starving Dongwoon a packet of instant ramen from the nearest convenient store.
Kikwang doesn’t like to talk about it so before he knows it, six months passes by like a breeze and he’s helping Dongwoon pack his suitcases.
Dongwoon doesn’t want to believe it either. But his flight is in two days and he is barely packed. He thought that putting off packing would help the horrid feeling of leaving but it doesn't at all, and takes away time that could be spent together with last minute packing.
“Oh don’t be silly Dongwoonie, I’ll go visit you in Korea when it’s summer holidays and I go up to see my parents! Besides, we can still skype and call each other.” Kikwang’s words quiver slightly and he trails off, hoping Dongwoon doesn’t notice.
And he doesn’t, because Dongwoon’s throwing his clothes into a hateful heap in his luggage as he pouts, “It’s not the same hyung.”
It’s too cute, and Kikwang knows he will miss it, but he doesn’t want to think of such things at the moment.
Kikwang slips his arms around Dongwoon and pulls him toward himself, wrapping his legs around Kikwang’s waist from behind, afraid to let go—and they put off packing for awhile.
The last day weighs heavily on their shoulders as Dongwoon stalks around the apartment sulkily, making sure that everything’s packed and done. Kikwang’s hair is a mess as he sits by the breakfast table chewing obligingly on a piece of toast whilst flipping through the news, not reading a single word.
And it goes on like this until they reach the departure gates.
“Hyung,” Dongwoon pauses and looks everywhere but at Kikwang. “Thanks, for everything. I-I’m sorry.”
“For what?” His tone is not one of annoyance, but of curiosity, and quiet longing.
“Well, I guess I was meant to learn English and you did try to teach me.. But—anyway, I’m sorry for being such an awful student.” Dongwoon let’s out a burst of laughter in his self-amusement.
Kikwang throws his arm behind Dongwoon’s neck and pulls him into an embrace, tip-toeing a little to match the younger’s height. “As I’ve said Dongwoonie,” Kikwang manages between snickers, “who gives a damn about the darned language?”
Dongwoon does it this time, his lips finding Kikwang’s perfectly well and it does not leave for ages.
He breaks away from the kiss a moment, letting their noses touch and the kiss linger.
“I never understood, but I do now hyung.” Dongwoon’s lips brush against Kikwang’s as he pulls the corners up into a smile, “we were never the foreigners. They are.”