This is my first BBF/BOF fic ever. I'm a little nervous, so give me a little help.
Ji Hoo fiddled with the strings of his violin, plucking them gently until a quiet melody floated through the quiet air. It was a quiet piece; happy compared to his old melancholy songs he used to play. He played peacefully, almost absently as he smiled at the five laughing faces around him. They were in a private room, like always, and listening to one of Woo Bin's fanciful tales.
"… and then he told me it was a grasshopper!" Woo Bin regaled. They all chuckled at Woo Bin's disgusted face.
"Well, you can add that to your list of triumphs, my friend," Yi Jung teased. "Right after taming Jae Kyung."
The young man smirked proudly and unashamedly.
"So it's true? I thought Unni was joking," Jan Di asked, bewildered.
"Yes, it's true." Ji Hoo thought Woo Bin looked his usual cocky self, but he could see the happy glint in his eye that revealed his joy.
"If it's true, then where is your lady love?" Jun Pyo challenged, stealing some ramen from his recently pronounced wife's bowl. Jan Di swatted his hand away with an annoyed scowl. Ji Hoo laughed good-naturedly.
"Yah! Get your own, you thief!" she chastised. "But he's right. Where is Unni?"
Woo Bin glanced at his watch. "Her flight leaves in two hours."
Ji Hoo smirked. "Just enough time for her to regain her senses?"
Ga Eul frowned at him over her own amused face. "Don't tease him. Woo Bin, I am happy for you and Jae Kyung. You two are very cute."
Yi Jung chuckled. "Always a hopeless romantic, aren't you?"
Instead of taking offense, Ga Eul just smiled. "Always."
Jan Di giggled quietly in her seat. "You're wrong, Ga Eul. You and Yi Jung are the cutest! Did he really find you while you were teaching kindergartners pottery?"
Jan Di's friend flushed rosy pink, before murmuring, "It was embarrassing. My students ratted me out!"
"Ratted you out?"
"They all told him that I was pining after him while he was in Switzerland."
The group burst into laughter at Ga Eul's embarrassment. "It's not funny!"
"Imagine that. The potter walks in on his girlfriend teaching pottery. How ironic," Joon Pyo commented.
"What are you talking about? Their whole relationship is ironic," said Woo Bin.
"Maybe it's fate," Yi Jung teased his fiancé.
Ga Eul turned to him and scowled. "You don't believe in fate, sunbae" she accused.
He shrugged. "Maybe not," he admitted. "But it is pretty funny how things worked out, isn't it? Not just us – all of us."
The F4 and the two girls sat in a moment of silence, contemplating what Yi Jung had said and listening to the melody coming from the violin. It's true, Ji Hoo thought, everything seemed to work out just right. Even he couldn't complain about it. Jan Di had been right – they were meant to be friends and nothing more. It had taken a year or two, but time and a quiet girl in his university class had convinced him that Geum Jan Di was his friend, and only that, if perhaps his best friend.
As usual, it was Woo Bin who broke the comfortable silence. "So – why call the gathering, Joon Pyo?"
The man in question scoffed. "Do I need a reason to hang out with my friends?"
The other F4 members shared an amused glance. Ji Hoo was the one to voice their thoughts. "Well there was that time in Macau…"
"Aish! You'll never let me forget that!" They all laughed a little bit more. "Well, if you're going to be so irritating, maybe I won't tell you the news!" Joon Pyo stated smugly, as if this solved all problems.
Yi Jung rolled his eyes. "Well, if you won't tell us, then perhaps I can share some news?" He looked around at all the faces of his friends before letting his eyes rest on Ga Eul's face. She smiled widly at his soft grin. "Ga Eul and I getting married!"
Cheers broke out among the six friends as Jan Di leapt from her seat next to Joon Pyo to hug Ga Eul and then Yi Jung. "Oh congratulations! I knew it! You see, I told you!" she cheered triumphantly at her husband. "Another wedding in F4! You must be absolutely thrilled."
Yi Jung smiled at Geum Jan Di's enthusiastic response. He felt a warm pat on his shoulder coming from his best friend. "Yo, man!" Woo Bin enthused in heavily accented English. "Marriage. Congratulations!"
Ji Hoo sent the potter and his fiancé one of his rare wide grins before pouring a couple of drinks to toast the couple. He passed out the glasses, but when he offered one to Jan Di, she declined politely. That's odd, he noticed. Geum Jan Di was by no means a heavy drinker, but she usually didn't turn down one glass. He filed this observation away for later analysis.
Joon Pyo raised his own glass and declared in a most official manner, "To So Yi Jung and Chu Ga Eul." Then he added mischievously, "The soul mates."
"The soul mates!"
Later, Ji Hoo had put down his violin and was playing a game of pool with the other F4 while Jan Di gave Ga Eul advise on weddings; things that regular men preferred not to be involved in. It was Yi Jung's turn to shoot, and his eyes were narrowed on the white ball. Woo Bin leaned forward in anticipation while Joon Pyo and Ji Hoo glared at the tip of the cue stick, willing it with their minds to miss. With a quick flick of the wrist, he sent the cue ball rolling into the eight ball, and it in turn rolled down into the side pocket.
"Score! We win, bro!" Woo Bin cheered, bumping his fist with Yi Jung's. Joon Pyo groaned with disappointment and covered his eyes with an arm. Ji Hoo just sighed with exasperation. With most other sports, he and Joon Pyo dominated the field, but with pool, Woo Bin and Yi Jung were almost always the victors. The pair had once offered to split themselves up to even up the teams, but Joon Pyo's pride had gotten in the way, and to their amusement, the teams remained as they were. Of course, Joon Pyo and Ji Hoo have never won more than two percent of their games.
"Yah! We play with a bunch of cheats!" Joon Pyo swore. But then he laughed heartily. Ji Hoo remembered a time when his teammate would say the same thing – and mean it too. Now Joon Pyo was a proper adult, a person who acted like his true, good self – not a spoilt child. The thought brought laughter to his lips, and soon the F4 were all chuckling around the pool table.
Jan Di looked up from her conversation with Ga Eul at the sound of the men's laughs. "What are you all laughing at?" she asked suspiciously. The times when Joon Pyo is actually laughing with his friends were rare, and usually about her. "Is there something on my face?" She wiped at an invisible stain on her cheek.
This brought another wave of laughter among her friends, and she scowled at them.
"No, Jan Di," Ga Eul assured her between giggles, "You do not have anything on your face."
"We were just laughing at your husband's poor pool skills. He and Ji Hoo need a proper lesson on how to play pool!"
"We know how to play pool!" Joon Pyo protested indignantly.
Ga Eul sighed wearily. "Yi Jung sunbae. Don't tease them."
Joon Pyo nodded smugly, certain he had the support of his opponents fiancé.
"It's not their fault they are horrible at pool."
Ji Hoo laughed, finding the whole situation amusing while Joon Pyo's scowl deepened. "Yi Jung, you need to control your woman's mouth."
"Jan Di, you need to teach your husband how to play pool," he countered. Said husband glared at Yi Jung some more.
Jan Di just laughed before standing up to approach the pool table. "It's impossible. Goo Joon Pyo cannot learn anything he thinks he already knows."
Jan Di ignored him and continued talking. "But I can offer you a fair game? Ga Eul and I have very famous pool skills," she said smugly, pulling Ga Eul to stand up with her.
Woo Bin narrowed his eyes. "Is that so? Are you two challenging us?"
Ga Eul smirked. "It cannot be that much of a challenge. All the practice you have had has been against these two," she said, pointing at Ji Hoo and Joon Pyo.
Yi Jung laughed excitedly, hopeful for a reasonably challenging game. "Oh, it's on."
Woo Bin shook his head. "Geum Jan Di, you and Ga Eul are just full of surprises." Then he laughed. "But then again, you wouldn't be Geum Jan Di without knocking us down a couple of pegs."
Yi Jung nodded thoughtfully. "Swimming, music, and now pool. Are there any more tricks up your sleeve? You don't happen to be a chef or a racecar driver do you?"
"Or a super spy?" Woo Bin added.
Ga Eul giggled. "Can you imagine Jan Di as a spy? She'd be horrible at it! She can barely hide, much less tell a lie. Remember that time we told her we were going out on a date, and she tried to spy on us?"
They all laughed at the memory. "Ah yes, our first date. Second if you count the night at the club," Yi Jung recollected.
Ga Eul snorted. "Those don't count either – they were both fake!"
"Doesn't matter," Yi Jung said dismissively. "You fell in love with me, didn't you?"
"That was pure infatuation, and you know it! You were nothing but a cold hearted Casanova."
Her fiancé made sounds of protest, but Joon Pyo quickly interrupted them. "Yah, Yi Jung! You were a jerk, accept the fact."
The potter glared. "Yes? And what were you?"
Jan Di answered for him. "A bratty child," she teased affectionately. Joon Pyo just smiled down at her with only warmth in his eyes.
The tender moment was interrupted when Woo Bin wedged himself between the pair. "So… no secret identities?"
"Don't you think I would know about them? I am her husband," he stated haughtily.
"Nope. No secrets," Jan Di chuckled. She sent a sideways glance at her husband. "Well, we do have one…"
"What you were going to tell us earlier?" Ji Hoo observed. The couple nodded.
Ga Eul urged, "Come on! Tell us!"
They shared another look of secrecy before Joon Pyo proclaimed in his holier-than-thou voice, "Jan Di is pregnant."
Woo Bin's eyes were bulging, clearly in shock. Yi Jung's jaw fell slack as he looked uncomprehendingly at Jan Di, then Joon Pyo, and then Jan Di again. Ji Hoo quirked an eyebrow in his version of surprise; perhaps more mild seeing as he noticed Jan Di's glass of water. Ga Eul was already grinning widely at her friends.
"Well? Aren't you going to congratulate us?" Joon Pyo demanded.
Shaking his head, Ji Hoo stood and slapped Joon Pyo on the back. "Congratulations, my friend. And you, Geum Jan Di."
Woo Bin began to chuckle. "Yo, my man. A father. Joon Pyo is growing up!" Joon Pyo laughed a bit.
Yi Jung smirked mischievously. "A child of Goo Joon Pyo and Geum Jan Di? The kid will destroy the world."
Jan Di glared. "Yah! You won't be allowed near him or her. You and Woo Bin are bad influences!"
"If you're going to ban us," Yi Jung began, "you should ban Ji Hoo. By the time he's done with him, he'll be a fourth dimensional introvert like our friend."
Ji Hoo stared stonily at him.
As if unable to restrain herself, Ga Eul leapt and charged at the pregnant woman and hugged her tightly. "Ah! Congratulations! I'll be an auntie. Oh you had better not ban So Yi Jung – you would ban me at the same time!"
Jan Di laughed loudly, "All right, all right. For you, I won't ban Don Juan and the Casanova."
"Hey! Former Don Juan and Casanova, thank you."
"Ah that's right. Don Juan has a steady girlfriend, and Casanova will be walking down the aisle," Jan Di commented. "Goo Joon Pyo has me… which leaves Ji Hoo sunbae."
Suddenly, all eyes swiveled towards the man in white. In true Yoon Ji Hoo fashion, he met each questioning stare with his own distant mask. As per usual, no sign of embarrassment or discomfort showed on his face.
"Ji Hoo, where is your woman?" Joon Pyo asked.
"I don't have one," he stated coolly. Jan Di cocked her head, confused.
"But you were just telling me the other day about…"
Ji Hoo quickly interrupted her speech, "Nothing. That was nothing."
But it was too late. The F4 had already latched on to the thought Jan Di hadn't finished. "What's this?" Woo Bin asked amusedly. "Does Ji Hoo have a crush?"
Ji Hoo stared again.
"Who is she?" Ga Eul asked innocently, her arm twining through Yi Jung's.
"Nobody. There's no one."
Yi Jung pushed, "Come on. Tell us. You've never really kept anything from us like this. Are you going to keep your best friends out of the loop? Or is Jan Di your best friend now?" He pouted.
Jan Di smiled smugly. "Just shows what horrible friends you are. You aren't observant enough."
Woo Bin scoffed. "You are hardly observant yourself."
"It's a girl's intuition!" Ga Eul argued. "There are just some things that we see, and boys don't!"
"Oh yeah! Like what?" her fiancé challenged.
"Well, for instance, crushes."
"Prove it. Who is Ji Hoo crushing on?"
Ga Eul gaped at him. "I can't answer that! I don't know all of Ji Hoo sunbae's friends. Jan Di is the one who goes to class with him."
Jan Di glared. "Yah! Don't drag me back into this! I don't know about any of Ji Hoo's crushes!"
Ji Hoo groaned as Joon Pyo smiled triumphantly. "So there is a crush." Jan Di's hands flew to her mouth as she groaned in defeat.
Almost bursting with curiosity, Woo Bin blurted, "Who is she?"
The musician sighed quietly before explaining, "She's a girl in my class."
"Well what's she like?" Ga Eul asked, equally curious.
A smile spread across Ji Hoo's face as his eyes glazed over, clearly lost in thoughts of this mysterious girl. "She's quiet – shy too. She's the smartest girl in the class."
"Is she pretty?" Yi Jung asked.
"Very," Jan Di answered.
"What does she look like?" Woo Bin wondered. He was curious to hear about the third girl to ever catch his musical friend's eye.
"She's short and pale. She has long, wavy, black hair and a pretty smile," Jan Di described, squinting as if trying to see the image of the girl clearer. "She's very nice too."
Ga Eul grinned in happiness. "Have you met her?"
"Yes – we sometimes have lunch together, just the three of us. They are the cutest thing," Jan Di enthused. Ji Hoo blushed unwontedly.
"Yah, Geum Jan Di. Stop that," he pleaded.
"What's her name?" Yi Jung asked.
"Mi Sun. Her name is Mi Sun."
Things were beginning to calm for the night. Ji Hoo sat slightly apart from the group, playing with his set of tarot cards, an amused smile spreading across his face as he glanced up at the subjects of his fortune telling. Woo Bin sat on a sofa chair, checking and re-checking his phone every five minutes for the time of Jae Kyung's arrival. Jan Di sat beside Joon Pyo reading through her textbook as her husband read over her shoulder. Ga Eul lay against Yi Jung's chest, threading and rethreading their fingers together absent mindedly as she gazed about the room.
"What are you thinking about?" Yi Jung asked his fiancé.
"Just about how nice it is," she said vaguely. Yi Jung's brow furrowed in confusion.
"Just how nice what is?"
"How nice it is that F4 is finally getting settled down. Like you said earlier – everyone has someone now," she explained. "Woo Bin and Jae Kyung, Joon Pyo and Jan Di, Ji Hoo and Mi Sun, you and me. F4 has grown up."
The whole room, which had began to listen to Ga Eul, smiled at the thought. Indeed, they were no longer bored children in high school, but rather, young men and women seeking out a peaceful, good life in the world.
In the peaceful silence, Jan Di suddenly asked, "Do you remember that time at the beach – the private island – when we went swimming, and Ga Eul thought she saw a snake in the water?"
And the group broke out into fits of laughter at the memory of their younger days.
"What about that time in Macau - the second time with Joon Pyo and Ga Eul - when Woo Bin failed to find any of us in Hide and Seek?"
"Or that one day when Yi Jung took us shopping for Ga Eul's birthday and had no idea what to get her?"
"Remember when we went to Switzerland to visit you and you were so surprised you ruined the pot you were making! Sorry about that by the way."
The atmosphere was lively again, and tarot cards, time, and textbooks were all forgotten and replaced with reminiscing. They recalled times of confusion, hilarity, and just plain joy.
"There was that day when a skier was about to crash into you, and I had to save you because you didn't get out of the way. You didn't even try to run away!"
"I was in shock!"
"Were my dashing good looks too much for you?"
Ji Hoo looked around himself at the joy in his friends' faces. Perhaps eight years ago, he would have wished for more mature, more loyal, more serious friends, but it turned out that time had given him something better than that. Time had given him the wisest (maybe), the smartest (possibly), and most solemn (definitely not), friends he could have asked for, and that group included more than just F4. He had haraboji. He had Geum Jan Di. He had Ga Eul. He had Jae Kyung, and most importantly, he had Mi Sun.
Perhaps things hadn't worked out as he thought they would have, but things were definitely working out.
So Yoon Ji Hoo smiled and shared his own story with his friends.