Title: Pepero Kiss
Genre: Romance, humor, gen.
Word Count: 4.2K / 23.1K
Summary: Popular actor Do Kyungsoo and super-idol Kai are the newest couple on We Got Married. Korea won't know what hit it.
AN: cross-posted on tumblr.
AN2: You guys are going to hate me. I am so sorry. ; ;
Everyone seemed to have an opinion on the anti-fan attack against Do Kyungsoo. Some called it an outrage and stormed the internet with hate comments against the perpetrator. Some shrugged and said it wasn't a surprise after he and Kai flaunted their sexuality at the country.
'What did you expect?' the latter group pointed out. 'People have children to think about.'
Arguably the worst reactions were from those that remained silent--those co-actors and acquaintances that used to praise the young actor and take shared selcas together like best friends. For the most part, they gave no comment.
Then to shake things up even further, the next morning, news stations almost simultaneously released a video clip (only 33 seconds) of the attack up close. The source was the production company of Do Kyungsoo's new film, though why they sat on the footage till then was uncertain.
Phone-filmed clips of the actor being rushed off-site, carefully holding his hand to his chest, had already gone viral, but this new footage caught something quite different, and after it aired the bubbling cauldron of opinions nearly boiled over.
This is what the clip showed:
The typically wide-eyed actor is facing the screen as the cameraman asks him to smile for the viewers. They must have caught him during a break in filming because Kyungsoo is dressed in clean-cut black school uniform that's just a little too loose in the shoulders, his hair endearingly mussed to look like he just woke up. Your typical rebellious teenager.
"Ah, is this for the film's promo? Okay, then." Kyungsoo makes a shy smile that cracks open brilliantly across his face when he chuckles and curves his eyes at the camera.
"Hello, everyone! I'm Do Kyungsoo~!" He waves and makes grabby gestures with both hands. You see more than hear the cameraman's laugh when the camera trembles conspicuously.
When the attack happens, Kyungsoo is formally asking the viewers to support the new film. It takes twelve seconds in total.
Someone shouts from an alarmingly close distance, "You and Kai are ruining Korea! People like you are ruining Korea!"
The camera automatically juts to the side to catch the middle-aged man, thinning hair and office glasses, just as he throws his steaming cup of coffee at Kyungsoo.
"Hey, you, stop!" the cameraman yells as Kyungsoo falls back, clutching at his drenched chest. The area of skin revealed by the wet open collar of his uniform is stark red, almost bloody in color.
The cameraman drops his camera to help the actor and the footage cuts off at a scene of black concrete and a flurry of feet, to a soundtrack of shrieks and cries and incoherent yelling.
That's not the part people focus on though. A freeze frame of the scene directly after the attack is what circulates the media like a virus and plasters itself to the front of every major newspaper in the country.
The freeze frame shows people staring in frozen shock as the man wheels his arm back to throw his remaining empty cup at Kyungsoo, his face in an ugly bitter twist, his eyes bulging like he's surprised of his own actions.
Kyungsoo is staring back at him from his collapsed position on the ground, one hand at his injured chest and the other raised up before him like he's half-heartedly fending off the attack.
What catches the eye and holds it captive is Kyungsoo's expression above the long fragile length of his bared throat. His eyes are wide, maybe fearful, maybe surprised, but firmly locked on his attacker. The closed line of his mouth is peculiarly solemn, almost expectant.
At first glance, it's just a picture of an attacker and his victim, an actor and his anti-fan. At second glance it becomes something quite different.
No one is quite sure what to say about this.
"This is the first time I've ever truly been ashamed to be Korean."
Over the interviewer's sputtering, Kai shoots the camera through with a look that freezes the audience in their place. "You can edit that out or leave it," Kai declares, eyes flat, "I don't care anymore."
He opens his mouth to say something else, probably just as inflammatory if the rebellious jut to his chin is any indication, when the scene quickly switches to Kyungsoo's much milder interview, as if what Kai had to say next was even more controversial than his previous statement.
Jongin is looking down when the door swings open, so he doesn't see Kyungsoo's state until he raises his head. When he does, the breath whooshes out of him.
"Woah." Kyungsoo scowls.
"Don't say it."
"Sorry, hyung, it's just...." Jongin's dark eyes take in the lank hair, the sallow skin, the slippers and move back up to settle on the deep purple smudges beneath both eyes. It looks like someone thumbed some paint on the pale canvas of Kyungsoo's face and decided to call it a day.
Fortunately, Kyungsoo is dressed, even though Jongin's not sure if he even knew there was filming today. It's a good thing he decided to come early before the rest of the crew.
The lone cameraman that followed Jongin has lowered his camera like he's not sure if he should continue filming. He's only ever worked in the celebrity world. In the state Do Kyungsoo is in now, he might as well be naked.
Jongin automatically blocks the camera lens with his hand.
"Can we film when the rest of the crew is here? I think we need the make-up team before we do any filming." He hardly waits for the cameraman's reply before leading Kyungsoo back into the apartment, his hands rubbing soothingly into the actor's narrow shoulders.
"Why don't you take a shower first, hyung?" Jongin suggests, "A hot one might make you feel better."
"I'm not a child," Kyungsoo grumbles at his tone, but he lets Jongin lead him into the bedroom for a change of clothing.
They "moved" into the apartment when the show first started, where they brought suitcases full of interesting things and had story time about themselves.
Since they weren't supposed to actually live at the apartment, Jongin didn't bother bringing any clothes. Kyungsoo brought clothes, but only the kind he wouldn't particularly miss during the show's run.
He regrets not planning for this particular scenario ahead of time when Jongin holds up a giant basketball tank top from the collection and simultaneously raises an eyebrow at him.
Kyungsoo reddens under his judgement. "They're my manager's okay? We roomed together when we were both starting out and some of our clothes inevitably got swapped," Kyungsoo says as he snatches it back.
"And it's comfy," he mumbles, missing the narrow-eyed look Jongin sends the shirt in his hands.
"Wearing another man's clothing when you have a husband. How shameless." Jongin crosses his arms childishly, and despite his exhaustion Kyungsoo smiles.
"Shut up." Kyungsoo slaps lightly at Jongin's arm, and giggles when the idol whines and pouts.
It's amazing how ordinary their interaction feels right now, when Kyungsoo has been feeling anything but in the past few days. As he watches Jongin go through the rest of his clothes, ribbing Kyungsoo gently over how unstylish his picks are, he feels a strong sudden welling of gratitude for not having lost this one chunk of normality.
As if he knows what Kyungsoo is thinking, a corner of Jongin's mouth tugs up in a lopsided smile. He drops the shirt he's holding on the bedspread and moves closer to where Kyungsoo's standing in front of the dresser.
"What's up, hyung? You look kinda sad all of a sudden," Jongin says as he peers at Kyungsoo's face. He drops a big hand on the top of the shorter boy's head and pats gently at his flat hair.
Normally this is the part where Kyungsoo would frown and push away his hand, but just this once the actor allows it. His eyes flutter shut as the careful fingers start carding through his hair, as if coaxing him back to the nap he was taking before Yixing hurriedly woke him up and bundled him into the van for the filming.
Long restless nights have led to him passing out near dawn and sleeping past his alarm clock, so that he'll wake up instead to the rapid-fire Mandarin of his panicked manager and accent-slurred cries of, You're late! Wake up, Kyungsoo! You're late again, aiyaa~!
It's only when he's agitated that Yixing's near-fluent Korean gets that incomprehensible, a fact that Kyungsoo should feel guilty about, but he's usually too sleepy to think anything beyond, Why is it so noisy?
"I'm just...tired," Kyungsoo says and blinks hard a couple times but feels no less sleepy. He can't help the wistful glance he sends the bed behind Jongin, which they'll probably never get a chance to put to use.
Jongin's voice is a quiet rumble in the still room. "You want me to tell them to call off the filming?"
"...No," Kyungsoo says reluctantly. "The cameraman's still in the living room. It'd be rude to send him away."
"You look like you haven't gotten a good night's sleep in ages though." Jongin frowns as he pulls his hand away, and Kyungsoo barely keeps himself from leaning after it.
"Not really," Kyungsoo agrees, "Not since, you know...." He makes an awkward motion with his hand, unwilling to say the words aloud.
Jongin stills, making Kyungsoo glance up at the sudden silence. He can't decipher the particular expression Jongin has on, but he looks almost--angry.
"Jongin?" Kyungsoo reaches for him hesitantly.
Neither of them notice the red unblinking eye of the WGM camera perched above the doorway.
"He called and texted me maybe twenty times that day," Kyungsoo recalls. "And my manager told me that he tried to break into my hospital room when I was being treated for the burns. He never made it--apparently he was caught in a hallway on the opposite side of the building. A nurse thought that he was a fanboy sneaking in, and my manager had to bail him out before they called the cops."
Kyungsoo snickers. "After this and the time he accidentally directed me to another city instead of the grocery store I was trying to find, I'm starting to understand that Jongin's not good with directions at all."
When the interviewer informs Kyungsoo that Kai's bad sense of direction is so renowned that fans voted him into acting as a lost wanderer for one of his group's music videos, Kyungsoo gives a delighted laugh.
"Really? No, really?" Kyungsoo asks gleefully. "That's hilarious."
Under the actor's neat clothes, white bandage tape peeks out from his collar every time Kyungsoo shifts, easy to ignore, but hard to miss when the camera zooms in on it. When the interviewer eventually asks about it, Kyungsoo sheepishly holds his hand over the exposed part.
"It doesn't hurt anymore. It's mostly healed now," Kyungsoo assures, and with the interviewer's prompting, he faces the camera to tell the fans, "I'm much stronger than a little burn, so please don't worry about me. Something like this won't take me down." Kyungsoo raises his fist in a little 'hwaiting' pose and shakes it cheerfully.
"Something like this won't take me down," the captions repeat under Kyungsoo's face like a blooming rose. Then the editors' addition quietly rolls out beneath it, with no special effects except the same glowing blush.
Do Kyungsoo's courage is heart-warming to see in the face of recent hardships.
WGM has a reputation for leaving its participants to burn when they run into scandals (cough-Oh Yeon Seo-cough), but someone in the ranks must have argued for Kyungsoo because the helpful editing continues as WGM slowly reveals its unofficial stance on the whole debacle.
Ratings never really dropped for the show; if anything the anti-fan attack made them raise as curious people started to tune in to see what Kaisoo was all about. Whatever they expected to see however probably wasn't Do Kyungsoo completely failing to make a cake and scowling adorably at his on-screen husband's subsequent teasing, or the actor bashfully admitting to the camera that he's embarrassed at the thought of kissing Kai.
Carefully edited episode after episode knock at the unsteady wall of public opinion, so that, eventually, cracks start to appear throughout the entire structure. People begin to remember the little details about the actor that made him so popular in the first place, such as the fact that Kyungsoo was a beloved child actor before he skyrocketed into Hollywood-esque stardom, and before long, various shots of him from high school to pre-school-infant status start trending.
WGM helpfully blows up some of these pictures, prints them and lets them trickle their way into a certain idol's hands in time for the next filming, to one actor's eternal exasperation.
"Will you please stop looking at those and help me chop the vegetables already," Kyungsoo complains, hand on his hip. His other hand is furiously stirring a pot of bean paste stew, having forgotten in his ire that it's supposed to sit not stir at this point.
"You're so cute though! Look, hyung, your cheeks are so fat in this one!" Jongin raises a picture of first-grader Kyungsoo in a sunshine yellow raincoat and boots, his face ruddy and squashed beneath a floppy hat in matching colors.
"Ugh," says Kyungsoo eloquently, and the hand stirring the pot speeds up so a little bit of soup splashes and sprays over the edge, nearly hitting the cameraman beside him.
The staff member slowly steps back and shoots the director a plaintive look, which the director grudgingly grants, gesturing that they'll make do with the cameras they already have in the kitchen.
Jongin winks at one atop the microwave as he creeps in on Kyungsoo, who stiffens instinctively when he feels a touch at his back. It's a testament to their time together that he immediately softens instead of squirming away as Jongin curls around him like a lanky-boy-blanket.
Hooking his chin into the niche of the actor's shoulder, Jongin starts playing with the tied front of Kyungsoo's apron.
Neither of them speak for a moment, and Kyungsoo wonders if Jongin is also remembering their first filming session together, nearly two months ago now.
He clears his throat. "Now it's too hot," Kyungsoo says halfheartedly, making a motion at the heated stove at his front.
"If it's too hot, get out of the kitchen," Jongin replies, and snickers at his own joke.
Jongin watches as Kyungsoo slowly scrapes off the green onions into the stew and puts the cutting board and knife off to the side.
"You know what they call this?" Jongin asks as Kyungsoo stirs the green onions in. "The Kaisoo backhug."
Kyungsoo scoffs in reply. "Everything we do is called Kaisoo. We are Kaisoo."
"And the captions read: Do Kyungsoo is unimpressed." Jongin's tone is amused.
He raises his head briefly from Kyungsoo's shoulder to toss some of the blond strands out of his eyes. It's getting due for another trim, though fans seem to like the long look.
"Haven't you read the netizen gossip?" Kyungsoo says, "I only ever have three emotions: bored, tired and unimpressed."
It's not such a terrible image to have, Kyungsoo has found. People tend to leave him alone for the most part, and on days he's feeling particularly antisocial they chalk it up to his placid personality.
Jongin disagrees. "I don't believe that." Jongin emphasizes this with a tight squeeze that makes Kyungsoo squeak and slap at the arms around him.
"You've also got happy and annoyed, not to mention embarrassed. That last one's important considering how often you get embarrassed around me," Jongin adds wickedly, craning his head around to see Kyungsoo's reaction.
Their faces are close enough that Jongin's nose accidentally grazes the actor's cheek at the turn, a touch that jars them both into speechlessness.
Kyungsoo connects eyes with his briefly, and to Jongin's pleasure, his face starts to visibly warm up. The set is dead silent, like everyone is holding their breath to see whether Kai will take it any farther.
"You're getting red, hyung," Jongin murmurs as his gaze moves uncertainly around Kyungsoo's face before dropping to his lips and lingering.
"I get embarrassed because you do stuff like this," Kyungsoo retorts quietly, eyes large with reproach. "I'm not actually shy, I just don't get all touchy li--" He cuts off when Jongin's lips plant firmly on his cheek.
Kyungsoo is vaguely aware of the gasps in the background and the wooden stirrer clattering into the pot from his listless fingers, but most of his attention is taken up by the smoothness of Jongin's lips against his skin, curving into his cheek like he's marking Kyungsoo with them.
"It was just a cheek kiss. A bobo," Kyungsoo says stolidly when they ask him how he felt. "I realize that for the other couples this is a pretty big step, but really, Jongin and I are both men, so it's not that big a deal."
Then the interviewer points out that Kyungsoo looked very shaken and that he had trouble looking at Kai afterwards.
"But it was...just...a cheek kiss...."
"The skinship's been giving me such goosebumps. Like really, it looks like you guys can't keep your hands off each other."
Luhan shivers for effect, but his webcam is bad enough that Kyungsoo can only tell the gesture from the way Luhan's gripping his biceps and contorting his face into a mimicry of disgust. He imagines Luhan's face looks much uglier in person.
"It's all Jongin," Kyungsoo objects. "He's the one doing all the touching, not me. He's like an octopus--oops." Kyungsoo covers his mouth with his hand and makes guilty eyes at the camera at his side.
"I forgot I wasn't supposed to call him that on air."
Luhan's blurry figure starts laughing and clapping.
When he calms down he remarks, "He is tall, dark and handsome though." Luhan waggles his eyebrows as he leans closer to his webcam. "Exactly your type, right?"
Kyungsoo immediately looks indignant. "What are you talking about? I never said anything like that!" He turns to the cameraman and implores, "Please can we just edit out everything Luhan-hyung says? It's not like the viewers will understand his bad accent anyways."
"Oi!" Luhan's image shakes when he slaps his laptop in annoyance. "My accent is perfect! Don't say that--my Korean fans are gonna hunt you down now," Luhan threatens, jabbing a finger at the screen.
Kyungsoo shrugs. "They're going to have to get in line," he says matter-of-factly, "I've already got Jongin's fans out for my blood. What are yours going to do?"
Kyungsoo jumps when another head pops into view right in front of Luhan's and winks at him with one impeccably lined eye, wingtips and all.
"You'd be surprised, D.O-ge! Our fans can get nasty. But of course I still love all of you very much!" Tao blows a kiss at the webcam before Luhan shoves him out of the way complaining loudly in Mandarin. Since Luhan has to stand up to kick Tao out of the room, for a minute there's only legs and a nice view of Luhan's DBSK poster collection.
For the tenth time, Kyungsoo wonders if this video call isn't a terrible idea after all. Do Luhan's fans even know he has an obsession with DBSK? he wonders.
"Sorry about that," Luhan apologizes as he drops himself back into the desk chair. "We had a performance today so Tao's still lurking around taking selcas of himself all over the apartment." Luhan makes a face to show exactly what he thinks about that.
"He still doesn't take selcas if he hasn't had his make-up done?"
"Nope." Luhan sighs. "It's tough being the oldest in this group. I feel like I'm always on baby-sitting duty, what with Taozi acting five and Wufan's oh-so-mature leadership. Sometimes I feel like pushing them off a bridge."
Kyungsoo closes his eyes briefly.
It might be okay if Luhan said that jokingly, but an unmistakably dreamy look crossed his face when he mentioned committing potential homicide on his bandmates.
Kyungsoo kneads his forehead in aggravation before turning to the camera and beseeching the staff, "Please, just edit out everything that Luhan-hyung says. For his own sake if not mine."
"Luhan-hyung and I met when we acted in the That's Right, I'm a Wolf drama together. They had us do some...interesting things, and we bonded over that," Kyungsoo explains. "Ever since then we kept in contact, even though he had to move back to China for his group's promotional activities. To be honest, I had no idea he was part of an idol group until he mentioned it sometime near the end of the season."
Kyungsoo pauses. "It really wasn't that surprising," he admits.
"I'm not jealous," denies Kai when they ask him. "Just because Kyungsoo-hyung's close friends with this random Chinese Mando-pop group called Galaxy Zoo (what kind of weird name is that anyways?) when he can't even remember my--his own husband's--group name--no way, why would that make me jealous?"
Kai laughs awkwardly.
Captions: . . . . .
Since a webcam conversation with Luhan wasn't enough to fill an entire episode, and flying him over from China was not a practical idea, it was decided that Kyungsoo and Kai would fill up the rest of the episode by looking up their WGM couple fan cafe online.
Apparently neither of them had seen it before. Their reactions are as good as the director was hoping.
"Where did they get this picture?!" Kyungsoo yells, making everyone in the vicinity jump a foot in the air. He jabs a finger at the screen. "I don't remember this picture being taken. Oh my god, those are my pajamas!"
The normally composed actor twitches like he's about to suffer a heart attack, and the director motions the film crew to zoom in so they don't miss a thing.
"I think you need to close the curtains before you go to bed, hyung," says Jongin sagely, having had enough experience with his own sasaeng fans. "Those are some very cute Pooh pajamas though."
A gurgling sound from Kyungsoo.
Kyungsoo's mouth drops and Jongin has to resist the urge to cover the screen with his hands. Instead, the idol cringes and curls into himself.
"...Are you always this naked at your concerts?" Kyungsoo can't seem to stop staring at the very visible display of abs on the screen, his eyes continuously darting away and back like he's watching a tennis rally. There's a conspicuous line of hair going from Jongin's belly button to the low edge of his pants that makes Kyungsoo swallow and glance away again.
"NO," Jongin stresses, "It was just that one time--Chanyeol-hyung just threw water on me. See, look, my hair is wet." Jongin points insistently and Kyungsoo squints.
"Oh I thought you were just sweating a lot in that picture."
Jongin looks scandalized.
Jongin glowers at the forum page, getting more and more agitated with each comment that he spots.
"Why do you have so many fanboys?" Jongin gripes as he scrolls faster down the page. "You're a man, you shouldn't have this many male fans."
Kyungsoo looks a little baffled. "Jongin, we're an all-male couple on a marriage reality show."
"Yeah, but still...I don't have this many fanboys."
"Are you jealous of my fanboys?"
"Not your--you don't get it, hyung!"
"Kyungsoo-hyung is so clueless sometimes. I swear, he must be an alien in disguise," Kai declares, and after a beat, amends, "An alien that can act and sing karaoke really well."
Kyungsoo's eyes are wide and confused. "Get what?" he asks with an agitated wave of his hands.
When the scene switches, it's on the actor's bewildered look and the sound of badly muffled laughter from the staff.
As winter approaches, the anticipation for WGM's most popular couple increases. Everyone knows that the Christmas special is going to include a kiss as per tradition, and Kaisoo, despite their top couple status, has thus far managed to dodge every scheme the script writers have thrown at them to eke out a Kaisoo kiss.
The Christmas special however is one that they won't be able to escape, and the viewer audience is hungry to see some real intimacy between two young, handsome and popular male celebrities. There are still conspiracy theories floating around on Kaisoo being fake and on the whole relationship being scripted by homo-thirsty writer noonas--theories that even the most vigilant Kaisoo fans can't seem to shake from the backs of their minds.
A kiss would change that though, because there are very few Korean men that would do something so drastic to their reputations just for a show.
Slowly but surely, 'Kaisoo Kiss' becomes one of the top trending terms on the internet, a fact that Kyungsoo only finds out when he checks his email one day and the first message he opens has fan-made edits of him and Jongin in heavy lip-lock.
Needless to say, Kyungsoo starts avoiding his email again.
AN: Right, so I did not give you an ending. X( I have worse news unfortunately. My LSAT test is on Dec. 6th and since it's literally the most important test of my life so far, the next part of Pep Kiss isn't going to be coming until after I finish it. I really am very sorry for the delay. I hope the ending doesn't disappoint anyone when I finally get this testing done and out of the way. On the plus side, if you couldn't tell by my GIANT HINT, it's going to be a Christmas special. Yay~ ^^