Disclaimer: Boys Over Flowers/Boys Before Flowers/Hana Yori Dango is not mine. This fic is by no means for profit.
A/N: This used to be a one-shot fic entitled 'Four-leaf Clover', but since I decide to turn it into a BOF ficlets collection, I changed the title to 'Automatic Love Letters'.
While finishing the multi-chaptered fic I'm co-writing with a friend, I figured that typing up loosely related ficlets can help us with the thought process. Not everything in these ficlets will be shown there, so I thought on creating a 'spin-off'--and here it is! The first ficlet is Woo Bin-centric, but be assured that there will be SoEulmates and Jan Di-Jun Pyo moments in the next ficlets.
This time, let's have a Woo Bin-Yi Jung one on one. This fic can stand alone, but it will make more sense if you read "Four-leaf Clover", the ficlet preceding this. R & R & enjoy!
Cinderella in Rubber Shoes
by Schizoid Sprite
It was a statement, but the way Woo Bin's body arched into a hesitant posture and how the ghostly swirl of smoke from his last Red Devil stick coiled up into a question mark shape symbolically and effectively turned it into a question.
"It's a brotherly instinct," Yi Jung responded with a one-shouldered shrug. "I heard the Woo Bin nine-one-one alarm going off, so what do you think I should do?"
Woo Bin perched himself precariously on the fountain rim. "Stay tucked in bed, perhaps," he suggested. "I don't really know where you get the idea that me brooding is an emergency. Besides, a sleep-deprived So Yi Jung is no fun."
Yi Jung chuckled and executed a mock punch that landed on Woo Bin's jaw. Woo Bin comically turned his head to the side and convoluted his face in pretended hurt. He threw the cigarette away, permitting himself a short gulp of laugh.
"Seriously, bro," Woo Bin said through a lopsided smile, "you need to sleep more—get some rest. Your energy's a tad scaling down lately."
"Says the man who did nothing during the past few days but space out and make his eye bags droop lower to his cheeks," countered Yi Jung. "If by 'energy' you meant the Casanova vim, I don't think I have plans of shooting it up back to the same level it has five years ago."
"Serious about being stick-to-one, I see."
"It's one of the perks of being in love," Yi Jung affirmed.
"Perks," Woo Bin snorted. "Yeah, right, being in love…"
Despite Woo Bin's attempt to keep his words from sounding too bitter, an awkward silence reigned over them to meaningfully punctuate the statements. For some reason, it felt like it somewhat embossed the emotions he was supposed to hide. Yi Jung shuffled his loafers on the pavement uncomfortably and shifted his weight to his other leg, a frown replacing the dimpled smile. He stuffed his fists in his overcoat pockets before looking up at Woo Bin.
"Correct me if I'm wrong. This is all about a woman?"
Woo Bin searched for any judgment or ridicule in Yi Jung's face and found none. He raked one gloved hand through his hair—his automatic gesture following a foolish deed, like letting someone else know one of his deepest insecurities—and took a lungful of breath.
"What if it is?" he asked rather sourly. "Don't tell me you're going to give me an advice, we have the same feather."
Yi Jung laughed. "I'll still give you one even if you don't want to listen."
"You can't if don't know the whole situation."
"That's why you're going to tell me everything first."
Woo Bin smirked. "Make me."
That wasn't so much of a dare. Yi Jung lunged with a half-laughed, incoherent battle cry and collided with his friend, toppling both of them backwards to plunge into the fountain. Woo Bin flailed his arms and threw jabs, but Yi Jung easily dodged each and caught him in a headlock in one swift move. Just as Yi Jung was preparing to use the leverage, Woo Bin grabbed a handful of his suit and yanked him down to splash deeper into the chill water.
"Damn it, my roll-ups are all wet now!" Woo Bin guffawed, suddenly remembering the pack of cheap chocolate-filter cigarettes in his windbreaker pocket.
"Yeah, and you owe me one Galliano suit."
Barking another laugh, Woo Bin gave Yi Jung a playful rabbit punch, then disentangled himself from the latter's arms. He hoisted himself up the rim.
"You're free to take anything from my closet," Woo Bin chortled. "But you really have to buy me a new pack of Black Bats."
Yi Jung brushed his wet bangs away from his eyes as he emerged from the water. "You're really exasperating, you know that? I gave you Lucky Strikes on your birthday and you still subscribe to cheap sticks."
"The kiss of ordinary cigarettes are way too exquisite than that of luxury fags; those who think otherwise are just overwhelmed by the price. Besides, the only thing you paid for was the pack. Whoever thought about studding it with diamond and ruby is completely out of his mind."
"I forgot how impossible it is to please you," Yi Jung sighed, shrugging off his dripping coat. "But tell me now…who is it?"
And Woo Bin forgot how hard it was to get rid of a determined Yi Jung. The years they spent together taught Woo Bin that trying to stray away from the topic was just a waste of time; Yi Jung would never let go of a question until he gets the answer to it, no matter how long it would take him.
"Is it Miss Les Miserablés?"
Woo Bin snorted. Yi Jung has this way of giving their girls nicknames after the most notable characteristics they have or anything that could be considered their trademark. It was a shame, but the boys have to admit that it was easier that way than to remember each girl's name. There were exceptions though—those who, in a way, touched their hearts.
As for Miss Les Miserablés...Well, he wouldn't have remembered that American girl they met at a Victor Hugo Broadway musicale if Yi Jung hadn't mentioned her now. He couldn't recall the wench's face, but he could remember Ji Hoo commenting that she was winsome. She was way too sweet for his tastes though.
Yi Jung must have read his face. "No? So…is it Miss Fashionista?"
Oh, that woman Woo Bin remembered—she was sex on legs, clad in a fabric-deprived little black dress when he first bumped into her in a benefit fashion gala last year. There was something very attractive about her, but her being too snooty was an immediate turn off.
Yi Jung climbed up beside him. "Miss Playboy bunny?"
Seriously, did Yi Jung think he would last a day with that woman? He tried so hard not to offend the blonde in saying that he preferred black-haired Asians...after thirty minutes of nonstop flirting with her.
Woo Bin arched a brow. Three days? Four? He wasn't certain about how long his relationship had been with that French model, but it was no different from the other flings he'd had with Miss Toothpaste Commercial or Casino Girl or Lady Russian Roulette...
"Don Juan, you're not going to let me mention every girl you've been with, are you?"
"All I know is that I'm not going to tell you who the woman is."
"Give me a hint, then."
"Song Woo Bin," Yi Jung stated firmly. "I can figure it out on my own. Just give me a hint."
A sigh. "If you think I'm exasperating, I don't know what word I can describe you with. But fine, I'll give you a clue."
Yi Jung flashed his dimpled beam. "I know you will."
Woo Bin ran his fingers through his locks once more while his friend's expectant face loomed in his peripheral vision.
"Sort them out," he said nonchalantly, "and cross out everyone with the 'common denominator'. The only girl who'll remain is the…the culprit, I might say."
He ended with a mirthless laugh, but Yi Jung drank in his every word and was now thinking hard. It took the latter no more than a minute to figure it out.
"No way," Yi Jung breathed incredulously, eyes wide. "Y-you don't mean…Cinderella in rubber shoes?"
It stung. Just hearing the nickname Yi Jung gave Yang Sun Byul made his heart drum painfully against his breastbone. The little event that earned her the title came rolling back in his head...
He and Sun Byul had argued the night before that rainy Valentine's Day. While he didn't consider patience as an overrated virtue, he never said that he would hold on to it even if the circumstances were beyond human toleration. Or beyond his toleration. He had to admit that even if Sun Byul was kind and innocent, she was still one of the most stubborn creatures he had ever encountered. Woo Bin thought their quarrel that night was just petty, and only when he attempted to kiss her the morning after did he realize that she had been really angry. He couldn't remember how many times he uttered apologies; he even used his high caliber sweet-talking that would normally make any woman blush. Well, she did blush…only it wasn't because she was flattered, but because her anger meter was elevating a notch.
He left immediately not because he was fed up—he just needed to think of something that would make her anger peter out. He was driving his yellow sports car and the rain was beating hard on his windshield when he noticed a pink blur moving on the sidewalk. He squinted at its reflection at the rearview mirror and slammed on the brakes when he realized it was actually Sun Byul.
"What do you think you're doing?!" he remembered himself rebuking her as he dragged her angrily inside the car. "Running in the rain like that—do you plan on having me hospitalized?"
Sun Byul opened her mouth to retort, but she shut it up again when his words sank in. "Having you hospitalized? Wait, I think it's me who's in the rain!"
"My point exactly!" he answered through gritting teeth, his viselike hold on the steering wheel getting tighter. "Do you realize how much I would worry if something bad happens to you? What if I hadn't seen you? What if—"
The pink stains on her cheeks sent him suddenly tongue-tied.
"Sun Byul?" he asked warily.
She shyly ducked her head. "Y-you know, you better work on your coaxing skills some more. Sometimes your smooth-talking gets too cheesy…"
He gaped. "I'm smooth-talking?!"
"Are you not?" she challenged. She crossly wiped her hands on either side of her pink jogging pants in attempts of drying them up or something, but it was completely useless because the garment was also drenched with rain. With her rosebud pout and her ponytail askew, she looked like just a little girl who was scolded for playing too long in the rain. Woo Bin chided himself for not being immune to her charm, feeling his own version of fury dwindling away.
"Here," Woo Bin said, handing her his trench coat. "I'll get you something warm to drink once we get to the nearest convenience store."
She sneezed twice, and when she didn't make any move to accept the coat, Woo Bin himself swaddled her with it. It was only when he looked down that he noticed she was only wearing one tennis shoe.
"I left it," she snapped with a hint of embarrassment. "If I take more time on tying its lace I wouldn't have caught up with you."
Woo Bin was flabbergasted. "You went out with only one shoe?"
She cocked a timid nod, lifting her shoeless foot and wiggling her toes underneath the wet sock. "I would've taken off the other, but you're driving way too fast I don't even have a second to do it."
Woo Bin flashed a questioning look.
"I have something to give you, that's why," she finally said, shooting him a curious look. "And you have my permission to laugh, no need to hold it back."
"I don't find anything funny," he said honestly. "You could've just phoned me so I could go back, and you wouldn't have to go running like that. It was Prince Charming who chased Cinderella, not the other way around."
She rolled her eyes at him as she dug for something in her pockets.
"About last night," Woo Bin continued, this time a little uneasily. "I'm really sorry about it. I don't think it's completely true that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so you don't really have to cook for me next time and…"
"I know I'm a bad cook," she croaked. After seeing last night that her timer was actually a smoke alarm, Woo Bin didn't have the heart to disagree with that. She hated it when he lies, although she couldn't exactly note when he was saying the truth or when he was just bluffing. Ever since she told him about it, he made it a point not to tell lies to her. His 'smooth-talking' wouldn't count as tell tales, because in one way or another, they were still the truth—as both his eyes and heart could attest.
"Here it is," she said in delight, handing him a pair of gloves. "I'm aware that you have a plethora of gloves, but I hope you still accept these as my valentine's gift."
Woo Bin took the items from her without a word. She flipped them palms up to reveal small pink hearts stitched into them.
"I'll appreciate it if you'll wear them," she said coyly. "That way, it will be like I'm just holding your hands, even if I'm away. Those pink hearts…"
"Yours and mine?" he queried and she nodded. "Now look who's getting too cheesy here…"
He laughed when she jutted her lower lip out.
"I'm just teasing, you know," he said. "I love them, thank you…"
As if words were not enough, he closed the distance between them and caught her lips in a soft, persuasive kiss, expressing his gratitude in his most heartfelt way.
That, for the record, was his first real kiss.
"Ah, so it's really her?" Yi Jung shook him out of his deep reverie.
"Bingo," he sighed, then looked at the stitched hearts on his right glove. "My sweet, personal karma."
"What happened?" Yi Jung sounded profoundly concerned now, and Woo Bin wasn't so sure why he didn't seem to like it.
"I think I don't want to discuss anything about it tonight," he decided. "I'm sorry, bro."
"Are you sure?"
"A hundred one percent," he confirmed with a grin. "I'll let you know if I'm ready to talk about it."
Yi Jung silently blew at his slowly-drying bangs and hummed something under his breath. He was waiting for Woo Bin's decision to change.
"I'm serious," Woo Bin declared. "You'll be the first one to know everything about it."
Yi Jung cocked an eyebrow when Woo Bin lifted a fist. He suppressed a giggle, knocking his own fist with it.
"Deal," Yi Jung cheered. "I don't want to force you, even if I think it'll somehow lighten your load. I already expected that you won't talk—I've noticed how you became selfishly masochistic these past few days, punishing yourself…"
Yi Jung swung his legs out of the fountain and stood up, preparing to leave.
"But if it goes overboard," Yi Jung pronounced in earnest, "I'll stop it."
"And how will you do that?"
"Braggart, what made you think that you're the only person who can make a punching bag out of anyone?"
"So you think that hurting me can lessen my pain?" Woo Bin sniggered.
"A hundred and two percent."
Without any warning, Woo Bin launched one last blow on Yi Jung's stomach.
"Off you go now bro," Woo Bin ordered. "You still have to make up a story on why you're going on a date soaking wet."
Yi Jung coughed and flashed a smile. "Ga Eul's already used to my unusual appearance whenever I come from your place. She considers it normal now so there's no need to invent fibs anymore."
"I can see Ga Eul shortening your leash. She'll think I'm a bad influence."
"Pipe down, idiot," Yi Jung snapped with a glare. "You can't influence someone who's just as bad as you. I'll see you later."
"Later," Woo Bin nodded.
He watched his friend's retreating back. When the last footfall echoed, his attention was arrested by the slowly dying ember of the Red Devil he discarded a while ago. He picked it up and smoked the last inch remaining, savoring its strawberry tang while wondering where the partner of the tennis shoe he kept in his closet could possibly be.
"A friend is someone who is there for you when he'd rather be anywhere else." - Len Wein