His mother rolls her eyes, when Jongdae tells her that his boyfriend is late for dinner.
It’s been hard getting his parents to accept having dinner with them tonight. Jongdae insisted over and over again until they sighed a resigned okay. There were so many reasons beneath the surface of why this was a bad idea. The most obvious one being that Jongdae’s parents don’t approve of his “lifestyle”, as they call it. Another one being Chanyeol’s personality could overwhelm Jongdae’s parents, and that’d make everything worse.
After an entire afternoon cooking and tidying up the house, Jongdae is exhausted. What he feels the most, though, is regret. When he looks at his father in the couch staring at the smartphone in his hand and his mother snooping around the kitchen, he wants the night to be over.
The noise of the code being punched into the door and Chanyeol’s quiet cursing when he almost falls on his face as he takes off his shoes (as usual) relieves a bit of the weight on Jongdae’s body.
“I’m so sorry I’m late,” Chanyeol’s voice booms from the entrance.
“It’s fine,” Jongdae tells him when he peeks his head from the kitchen.
Behind himself, he can hear his mother scoffing.
“I went to Lotte to buy a bottle of wine and there were just too many people,” Chanyeol explains, hanging his coat by the door. He grins at Jongdae and leans in to kiss him, seemingly unaware of the change in their routine.
Jongdae turns his face to the side, feeling Chanyeol’s lips brushing his cheek. His mother raises an eyebrow, disapprovingly.
“Wine?” Jongdae’s father sounds much closer. He reaches to shake Chanyeol’s hand.
The strong grip would be like watching two wolves about to fight to become the alpha. However, Chanyeol keeps a genuine grin on his face, unflinching. When Jongdae’s father pulls away, he purses his lips in deep thought. It’s not an approval but merely the willingness to give him a chance.
“It’s an Argentinian Malbec, 2015. A good year.” Chanyeol charmingly tells Jongdae’s father. The man nods.
When his parents walk away, Jongdae whispers, “Since when do you know about wine?”
“Minseok-hyung recommended it,” Chanyeol tells him with a cheeky smile, before heading to the dining table. “Good evening, Mrs Kim. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.” He bends in half, greeting Jongdae’s mother, who has a strained, polite smile on her face.
“Mom, Dad, have a seat,” Jongdae tells them as he heads to the kitchen.
“So…” Jongdae can hear his father start. “You go to work and our Jongdae stays at home to cook for his parents.” The judgment in his father’s voice makes Jongdae tighten his grip on the casserole.
“Jongdae doesn’t work at home. He works from home,” is Chanyeol’s reply. He’s got a pleasing tone. Although any other time Jongdae would get mad at him for talking back at his parents, this time, he enjoys the annoyed curl he sees in his mother’s mouth when Jongdae walks in again.
Chanyeol smiles at him, standing up to help Jongdae place the casserole on the table. Their hands brush, and Chanyeol directs a meaningful look at him.
One of the main reasons his parents disapprove of his sexuality and his relationship with Chanyeol is because they have a strong opinion on traditional gender roles. Jongdae, being a freelance journalist, and Chanyeol, owning his own classified advertisements website, don’t even fit in their ideas of what a profession is.
Jongdae’s mother is the one that makes the most attempts to accept him, but Jongdae can see how hard it is for her. She replies to Chanyeol’s small talk during dinner. Everything is polite and stiff, unnerving Jongdae.
His boyfriend sounds different. Although he never loses his smile, he speaks in a more subdued manner than usual. The contrast with the Chanyeol Jongdae knows shocks him, and it upsets him a bit. Seeing him change himself to please Jongdae’s parents was not what Jongdae wanted to get from this dinner.
“Jongdae’s about to publish a book,” Chanyeol tells his parents as he places the glass of wine on his lips. The comment brings Jongdae back to the conversation going on.
“Oh… Really? What’s it about, son?” His father asks.
“It’s an analysis on current journalism, with a little bit of history. It’s mostly focused on graphic journalism and its adaptation to the Internet.” Jongdae finds it hard to explain it, not because he can’t ‒ he’s talked about this a hundred times ‒, but because he thinks that no matter how he explains it, it would never interest his parents.
The look on his father, though, speaks differently. The man tilts his head and raises his eyebrows in curiosity.
“Uhm… Chanyeol insisted I wrote it,” Jongdae says, turning to face his boyfriend, who has a wide and proud grin on his face. “Since I kept criticizing so many newspapers. Maybe I annoyed him too much and this is his way of saying ‘tell that to someone who cares’,” he jokes.
Chanyeol splutters, and Jongdae laughs. For a moment, they’re alone, just staring at each other in their own little world.
“I don’t know,” his father interrupts them. “I think… it’s interesting to hear about that.” The man lifts the glass of wine. “People my age… We don’t understand much about the internet and it’s impact. It might be interesting to read about that.”
Jongdae gapes at his father in silence. This is the closest thing his father has ever said that sounded like approval of his job. His chest feels warm.
A hand crawls on his lap, taking Jongdae’s and linking their fingers. Chanyeol squeezes it, and Jongdae replies with a squeeze of his own.
“Chanyeol, what… Are your parents proud of you?” Jongdae’s mother asks.
It’s a little bit jarring, the change in subject. Chanyeol tenses, but never loses his smile.
“Well… they are, actually. My‒ Me liking men, it took them a while to accept.”
Jongdae pays attention to his own parents’ reactions. His mother’s got her lips pursed, an expression Jongdae recognizes. She’s thinking and forming an opinion on what she’s hearing. His father, on the other hand, goes back to look at the food, silently serving himself meat on the rice bowl.
“It was my sister who helped them see I was still their son. I came out very early, when I was still a teenager.” Chanyeol’s thumb rubs Jongdae’s hand soothingly. “They’ve had a lot of time to come to terms with it. Now, my mother keeps calling me and always asks about Jongdae first before even asking about me,” he tells them, chuckling.
Jongdae’s mother nods, humming in thought. “Maybe… next time, we could meet them.”
Jongdae’s heart jumps in his chest. He looks at his mother, who adds nothing to her comment, but her lips curl up at the corners, in such a subtle way that Jongdae thinks he’s making it up.
“That would be lovely,” Chanyeol replies.
Dinner ends with lighter air and some last minute pleasantries exchanged. His father asks for a copy of the book when it’s done, and his mother tells him that she will give them some homemade ttok soon.
The moment the door closes, Jongdae sighs loudly. His knees lose strength, but he doesn’t fall. Chanyeol catches him in time, enveloping in his arms. A gentle kiss is pressed against his temple.
“Thank you,” Jongdae whispers. “For tonight.”
“My pleasure.” Chanyeol’s rumbles inside his chest.
Jongdae pulls aways to look up at him. “Really?”
“Jongdae, your parents don’t understand you. But they clearly want to. They wouldn’t have come here tonight, if they didn’t.” Chanyeol’s warmth relaxes Jongdae as his boyfriend continues speaking. “You’re an amazing person and that’s why I love you. They need to see it too.”
“Thank you, again.” Jongdae’s hands grip Chanyeol’s shirt tightly.
Chanyeol rubs his back. “Let’s get ready for bed.”
“But the dishes…”
“They can wait,” Chanyeol tells him, pulling him by the hand, leading him to the bedroom.
They stand side by side in the bathroom, doing their skin care routine, brushing their teeth. So domestic and simple. Jongdae can imagine doing this for the rest of his life. Staring at his boyfriend’s reflection in the mirror, Jongdae realizes he wants to do this for the rest of his life.
“Wha?” Chanyeol asks, toothbrush hanging from his mouth, foam spilling in the corner.
“You look dumb,” Jongdae tells him. He can’t stop himself from smiling, fully aware of the way he’s looking at Chanyeol.
Chanyeol spits in the sink, and it’s gross. After he rinses his mouth, he turns to Jongdae. “Let’s go to bed.” His hand finds its way to Jongdae’s waist.
your turn, softboys