A/N 1: This story takes place not too long after the series finale, so "here be spoilers" and all that.
A/N 2: On the odd chance that you're a reader of one of my incomplete stories, I'm sooo sorry for not finishing them! (I'd kind of like to continue "The Birthday Mystery", but I don't have any ideas so… I fail.) This one, however, is all pre-written so, barring any unexpected lack of access to a computer or my USB, this one will be posted in its entirety, one chapter a week.
Disclaimer: Considering this is a fan fiction… yeah, I own nothing. In a fit of overconfidence, however, I did do the cover. (O, Yong-ha's hands! O, Yoon-hee's sleeves! O, half a dozen other things that went horribly awry! Weeps softly.)
In Which the Jalgeum Quartet Visits a Seedy Tavern and Seon-joon is Displeased
"I think she stole my money."
Off-duty Officer Moon Jae-shin's ears perked up a bit as he rested—head down, eyes closed—at a table in an only slightly seedy tavern.
"Yes, she definitely stole my money."
His ears perked back down again as soon as he recognized the voice as belonging to one Lee Seon-joon, who sat across from him at the table. The eyelids he had begun to lift fell closed again as his interest in this apparent crime also fell, and he readjusted his arms to make them a more comfortable pillow for his head.
"Senior, I'd hate to cause a scene but, considering you're a police officer, it might be easier if you could get it back for me instead of my trying to do it myself."
Jae-shin gave a quiet sigh over having been disturbed but dutifully opened his eyes, keeping his head cradled in his arms as he shifted his gaze to the Sungkyunkwan professor. "You probably won't miss that money all that much. The people have to make a living somehow, don't they?"
Seon-joon pulled an irritated face. "I suppose they do, but does their living really have to involve the confiscation of my living? I'm a paying customer here. Why should she take more than I owe her?" Apparently feeling as though he'd made his point, he reiterated, "I'd appreciate your help in getting it back."
The officer closed his eyes. "I don't want to. But I officially give you my official permission to get it back yourself. Just don't break any bones."
A softer voice piped up, "Did you want me to try and get it back?"
Jae-shin snapped to attention, sitting up at the sound of Kim Yoon-hee's voice coming from the chair next to Seon-joon. He'd almost forgotten what he was doing at the tavern in the first place: having a drink and a light meal with his friends. (Yoon-hee was, of course, in drag to give them greater freedom in where they could hang out.) His senses had just returned enough for him to begin a reply when someone sitting next to him beat him to it.
"Ehh, you don't have to, Dae-mul," Gu Yong-ha protested. "I'll go get it." He stood up and straightened out his sleeves. "The conversation around here was starting to lag anyway. Really—you good lords have been incredibly dull this evening. Try to lift the mood a bit when I come back so I don't get bored again, hmmm?"
Before leaving, Yong-ha winked at Professor "Yoon-shik" and patted the top of her hat-wearing head, prompting both Seon-joon and Jae-shin to fix the merchant with evil glares. Yong-ha's smile widened at the gratifying reaction and he waltzed off to the other end of the tavern to see its allegedly thieving proprietress.
Once he'd finished glaring, Jae-shin looked to Seon-joon. "I would've done it eventually if Yeo-rim hadn't volunteered."
"Well, it was Senior Yong-ha's idea to come here," Yoon-hee chipped in. "Considering he knew what kind of a place this was and what kind of owner it had, it's not entirely unreasonable for him to take some responsibility for it."
Jae-shin blinked. "Yeah. That's why I didn't do it." That, and he still wasn't quite as buddy-buddy with Seon-joon as Yoon-hee may have liked. Mostly the latter, though.
"I still don't see why we have to come to places like this," Seon-joon remarked. He said to Jae-shin, "You're closest to him, Senior. Can't you convince him to pick somewhere that's nicer next time?"
Yoon-hee added cheerfully, "Or you two could just come visit Seon-joon and me at home sometimes. I can absolutely guarantee that nobody will get robbed!"
Seon-joon looked less than ecstatic at the prospect of Jae-shin and Yong-ha invading his and Yoon-hee's little love-nest, so Jae-shin naturally grinned and agreed that Dae-mul's idea was a good one. That grin was wiped away and he gave a sharp yelp when someone suddenly cuffed him on the back of the head.
"Aigo!" the head-smacker groaned. "What kind of lousy cop are you? First you refuse to retrieve a victim's stolen money, and then you don't notice someone sneaking up behind you to assault the back of your head!"
Jae-shin bolted to his feet, chair scraping loudly, and raised his hand, prompting Yong-ha to duck back before grinning, knowing that the "crazy horse" wouldn't actually hit him.
"Hey, Ka-rang." Yong-ha tossed a small bag to the spot of table in front of Seon-joon and reclaimed his chair beside Jae-shin. "I hereby return your ill-gotten gains. I took a couple of coins for a finder's fee."
Seon-joon raised his eyebrows but thanked the finder for his efforts. As soon as Yong-ha's attention was focused on pouring himself a drink, however, the professor discreetly peered into the bag to see just how much was now missing. He couldn't help but blurt out, "You took half my money!"
"So what? You wouldn't have any of your money if it hadn't been for me! Besides, I deserve it, considering how much I had to flatter that ugly woman to get it back for you." He shuddered dramatically.
"You volunteered to do it, Senior," Yoon-hee pointed out. "I wouldn't have minded going."
Jae-shin, who'd been standing and glowering down at Yong-ha this whole time, finally sat down again to say to his oldest friend, "Give it back before I arrest you for robbery."
Yong-ha pouted but, since he'd already planned to return the money as soon as he'd had some fun, obediently slid the missing coins across the table to Seon-joon. "Aish, give a hoodlum some authority and he's still a hoodlum. This is an abuse of power, Geol-oh! I'll file a complaint in the morning."
"Yeah, sure you will."
Seon-joon cut in, "How'd you get it back, anyway? You just had to flatter her a little?"
"'Just'?" Yong-ha echoed. "I'm Gu Yong-ha! I don't just flatter people—I've made it an art-form!"
Yoon-hee generously humored him. "Then was practicing your art-form the only thing you had to do, Senior?"
"Pretty much." The artist smiled.
Seon-joon, more than a little wary of that smile, pressed, "What does that mean?"
"Well, I told her she was wonderful and beautiful and delicate and kind… and that the handsome young man she'd been clumsily attempting to flirt with earlier would be thrilled to meet her here tomorrow night." Grin. "Privately."
"What?" Seon-joon leaned forward to whisper loudly, "But I'm married!"
"So? A lot of married men have a little something-something on the side."
"But my wife is right here!"
"Ah, duly noted, Ka-rang." He leaned in with an ever-widening smirk, which he conspiratorially concealed from Yoon-hee with one hand, and winked. "So you'd be okay with it if she weren't here to see?"
"OF COURSE NOT!"
"Shhh! Your lovely date for tomorrow night will think you're trying to cancel."
"I'm not trying to cancel—I am cancelling. It was your idea, Senior, so you can come back here tomorrow night."
"Iiiiiiiiiiiick—but she's old enough to be my mother! Plus, she's so ugly! And besides that—" He slung an arm around Jae-shin's shoulders. "—I've got a very steamy date planned with Geol-oh for tomorrow night."
Yong-ha suddenly disappeared from view when Jae-shin pushed him harder than he'd expected, landing the merchant on the floor. Even Jae-shin was surprised, if his slack jaw was any indication.
"Owww, that hurts! Why can't this place have cushions on the floor instead of chairs? It's—it's unpatriotic or something." A hand popped up over the edge of the table and wriggled around to get attention. "Help me up!"
Jae-shin rolled his eyes but took the hand and yanked his supposed friend back up. He said as Yong-ha settled himself back on his chair, "Noron wanted me to tell you not to take us to a rat-hole like this again."
Seon-joon, feeling that something had been lost in translation, began, "I didn't quite put it like that—"
"Hey, Lee Seon-joon. Aren't I really nice today? You haven't noticed?"
Seon-joon set his jaw but, not in the mood to pick a fight, gave a shake of his head to acknowledge his senior's niceness.
Jae-shin turned back to Yong-ha. "So don't drag Dae-mul and him to this dump again."
Yong-ha shrugged. "Why? Nice places have no atmosphere—except for the gisaeng house." He looked at Seon-joon disapprovingly. "But this kid said he'd throw paint on all my clothes if I took Dae-mul there. He's got some nerve, hasn't he?"
Yoon-hee smiled and patted Seon-joon's knee under the table to keep him from freaking out as she said innocently, "I don't know why we shouldn't go there—the gisaengs serve very nice tea. And their house is cleaner than it is around here. Honestly, we'd probably be better off there."
Seon-joon leaned over to whisper, "I know you're joking, but you still shouldn't encourage him."
Yong-ha, clearly already encouraged, concurred, "Yes, it was quite enjoyable the last time we visited, wasn't it, Dae-mul?"
Face contorting into a shocked expression, Seon-joon choked out, "Are you saying that you actually took her there?"
"Well, Geol-oh declined my invitation (as always) and I knew that asking you would be pointless, so—"
"We didn't go anywhere," Yoon-hee interrupted, patting Seon-joon's knee again to comfort him before he could really spaz out. "Senior's just teasing you."
Seon-joon smiled in relief. "Thank goodness. If you'd actually gone, I'd have to meet with the proprietress here to make it even, and I think that would've hurt me more than it'd hurt you!"
Yoon-hee smiled back, and the married couple sat there staring at each other in wedded bliss until Jae-shin felt tempted to put someone's head—certainly not Yoon-hee's—through any wall that happened to be conveniently nearby and reasonably fragile.
Yong-ha would have been perfectly glad to enjoy the spouses' contented expressions (and mentally snicker at Seon-joon's puppy-dog face) a little longer, but he took pity on Geol-oh's thinning patience and instead pulled out his handkerchief to blow his nose as obnoxiously loudly as possible.
The other three stared with mixed disgust and disbelief as Yong-ha blew continually for nearly a minute. Once he finished, he put the remarkably clean square of fabric back in its place and looked around at the faces turned in his direction. "What? Seeing how happy Dae-mul and Ka-rang are made me all stuffed up. Oh, wait—it's supposed to be 'choked up', isn't it? Oops! My mistake! You can go back to making lovey-lovey eyes now."
As expected, Yoon-hee and Seon-joon did not appear at all inclined to resume their loving gaze.
"Go on, go on."
Yoon-hee smiled awkwardly. "Uh… no, thanks, Senior."
"Oh, did I ruin the moment for you guys? Oopsy…."
Jae-shin rolled his eyes. "Nice going. Now they're probably going to withdraw the invitation to visit their home."
"Ooh, when did that happen?" Yong-ha beamed to his juniors. "You invited us over?"
The professors opened their mouths at the same time:
They looked at each other, Yoon-hee with raised eyebrows and Seon-joon with furrowed ones, and Yong-ha decided, "I liked Dae-mul's answer better. Is tomorrow evening good for you? About the same time we met up tonight?"
Seon-joon began hesitantly, "That's a little…"
"Great! We'll be there!"
A couple of hours later, Yong-ha was clearly the drunkest one in the group and, when he tried to order yet another bottle to add to the six empty ones on the table, Jae-shin all but tackled his friend to cover his mouth.
Seon-joon called for the proprietress and asked how much they owed. Since Yoon-hee hadn't brought any amount of money worth mentioning, Jae-shin's hands were busily clamping Yong-ha's mouth shut, and Yong-ha's present ability to count money seemed dubious at best, Seon-joon paid the tab and pretended he didn't notice the proprietress winking at him.
They left as soon as the off-duty officer managed to haul the merchant off the floor and, once outside, Yoon-hee asked if he needed any help getting Yong-ha home. Seon-joon, knowing this was code for "I hereby offer you my husband's services", nodded his approval of this offer when Yong-ha tried to break free and wander after the first woman to pass by. This escape attempt failed, instead resulting in his yanking Jae-shin around in a small circle.
"It's fine," Jae-shin declined the offer. "You two can get going before it gets too much darker."
"Yes, our Geol-oh is very, very capable," Yong-ha chimed in, slurring his words only a bit. "You lovebirds can go on back to your cozy nest—hey, maybe it isn't cozy—actually, I wouldn't know. Why haven't you invited me?"
Yoon-hee reminded him, "We did invite you, Senior. You're coming over tomorrow."
Because he practically invited himself, Seon-joon thought. Aloud, he ignored Yong-ha's pout and said to Jae-shin, "If you're sure you can handle—"
Yong-ha again tried to stumble away, this time declaring that he was going to visit Dae-mul and Ka-rang's house right that very moment, and Jae-shin finally had enough of that and put his friend in a headlock.
"It's fine. I'll see you again soon. Oh, and I'm going to be working during the day for a while. One of my seniors demanded I swap shifts with him. He got into a fight with his wife and doesn't want to have to go home at night, or something stupid like that."
Yoon-hee nodded. She dodged one of Yong-ha's flailing hands. "Alright, we'll see you later. Get home safely."
To be continued…
Ah, it's always (well, sometimes) fun to write characters for the first time! The Yoon-hee and Jae-shin Muses tended to clam up a bit but would occasionally chip in with a few lines of their own. The Yong-ha Muse, on the other hand, absolutely refused to shut his face. And the Seon-joon Muse was not helpful at all. Seriously, I just can't seem to figure out how to write that guy so, if you continue reading, you can look forward to more poor characterization of Ka-rang! Yay!
Constructive criticism, glowing praise, or pretty much anything else is appreciated, so long as it isn't mean-spirited. Thanks for reading! :)
(Last edited: 8/26/13)