If I wasn’t in music, I would be a chef. In some ways, they were both similar. You had to practice for hours and hours to become a master at either. There were different styles. There was something therapeutic in preparing food, and there was something satisfying in seeing people enjoy your creation.
I’d stuck the sheet music of the title song to the cupboards and I was already humming the melody of the chorus as I chopped up the vegetables. My fingers were itching to get into a practice room so that I could familiarize myself with the positioning on the guitar, but food would come first.
It was likely to be a late night, like the coming nights would be, and I wanted to be able to have a good practice session without coming out to get food. Plus, I didn’t want to be snacking; not if we had a photoshoot in the coming weeks.
I also wanted the others to look after themselves more. Much as he had been a complete asswipe for the last year, that included Justin. He’d been losing weight for a while, so it was a relief to see he’d put on a little bit of weight when he’d come back from America.
To be fair to him, considering he’d only been gone for a few days and I’d seen a difference, I could understand why he didn’t want to gain more weight. But he looked healthy now and I wanted him to stay like that.
I set the knife down. I missed Justin.
The Justin from pre-debut, and even our early rookie days, was gone. That Justin had been warm and friendly. He had been talkative and sociable. He’d cared as much for us as he had our fans.
Then, over time, he’d become cold and secretive. He’d gone from sharing clothes to snapping if Chan dared to try to pick up a discarded pair of jeans and hang them up in his closet. The day he had reduced Chan to tears for doing some laundry had been the last straw for me. And for Chan.
After a while, I had concluded that the Justin I had known during our brief trainee days wasn’t the real Justin. What we were considering was ‘the new Justin’ was what he had been hiding all along.
And then he’d come back from America…
Not only had he put on a little bit of weight, but he was acting differently. There were moments where his coldness was annoyingly strong, but in between, he was back to being ‘the old Justin’.
I had no idea what American’s loaded into their food, but I was fully prepared to order a ton of it to lace all the food if it turned Justin into a decent human being for even half of the time.
I poured a drop of sesame oil into the wok and turned the burner on. The oil quickly heated up and I slowly started adding the ingredients. It didn’t take long for the stir fry to cook and I turned the heat off.
If this had been last week, I would have rounded up everyone who was eating before serving, but seeing as I knew none would leave their practice rooms, I started dishing it up to take down to them.
With a bowl in each hand, I walked to the door to the basement. Before I could get close to it, it flew open and Yeonwoo stormed out. I jumped back, barely avoiding him, as the contents from one of the bowls slopped over my hands and onto the floor.
“I am going to fucking punch him one of these days,” Yeonwoo growled. He spun around, seeing me, then the mess on the floor, and winced. “Shit, I’m sorry.”
He ran into the kitchen. I followed after him, getting there as he picked up a roll of paper towels. I set the bowls down on the side and cleaned myself up while Yeonwoo cleaned up the spillage in the hall.
“What did Justin do this time?” I asked wearily as Yeonwoo returned.
He deposited the soiled towels into the trashcan before turning to me. “Chan and Justin were all over each other.”
It took me a moment to process that. “Chan and… Justin?” I knew for a fact that Chan had a crush on Felix from Stray Kids, so I wasn’t surprised that he could like a guy. He could like whoever the hell he wanted…
It’s not that he couldn’t like Justin, but I just didn’t buy it.
“What do you mean, you found Chan and Justin all over each other?” I asked when I still couldn’t make that make any sense.
“Justin was in Chan’s studio and they were holding hands.”
“OK, I said, slowly. “But that’s just Chan. He likes cuddles and hand holding.”
Yeonwoo scoffed. “With Justin?”
“I think Chan would be happy to do that with any of us, including Justin. I think it’s Justin who has stopped that from ever happening.”
“Then why is he starting now?” Yeonwoo demanded, folding his arms and glowering at me like I had an answer.
Like hell I knew. Something had happened to Justin when he was in America and I couldn’t help but wonder if his change was down to that. I’d have asked him if I knew it wasn’t going to result in me being told to fuck off, like it had with –
Before I could finish that line of thought, Justin appeared in the kitchen. “Yeonwoo!” he snapped, making both me and Yeonwoo turn to him. He was pissed. The last time I had seen him this angry was when he had yelled at Chan. “What the fuck is your problem?”
Maybe I didn’t have the answer. This was not the first step to an apology I envisioned.
“What?” Yeonwoo demanded, squaring up to Justin. Yeonwoo, the tallest of the group, versus Justin, the shortest of the group…
I watched, frozen to the spot. Although the leader of Drako was Sungjae, Justin was the oldest and even though I’d seen Yeonwoo angry with him before, he’d always managed to retain a level of respect towards him.
Justin seemed oblivious to it, closing the distance between the two of them as if to intimidate Yeonwoo. “You heard me,” he seethed. “What the fuck is your problem? I get that you can’t stand me, but you have no right to take that out on Chan.” “I will do whatever I need to in order to keep him safe from you?”
For half a moment, I considered stepping in and breaking them up, but maybe it was time they had this out. The petty bitching had been going on for long enough.
Justin’s reaction wasn’t what I was expecting though. He frowned, and even looked momentarily confused, before shaking his head. “Stop deflecting!” he snapped, recovering quickly. “You’re just pissed that I hooked up with some girl.”
My mouth dropped open. I’d known that Justin and Eunji had been flirting and texting a few months ago. That was why I’d made Justin promise to stay away from her. He’d never told me the two of them had hooked up. Judging by Yeonwoo’s expression of pure rage, neither had he.
“Some… girl…?” Yeonwoo repeated, practically choking on the words. “Eunji is not just some girl.”
Justin shrugged. Before I could tell him to shut his mouth before the next words left it, he continued. “Maybe to you, but to me, she was just a one-night thing.”
“Oh, shit,” I muttered as Yeonwoo brought his fist back and punched Justin.
“That’s my fucking sister!” Yeonwoo yelled as Justin slumped to the floor.
“Fuck’s sake, Yeonwoo,” I snapped, diving over to check on Justin. He was out cold. “Did you have to punch him so hard?”
“He slept with my fucking sister?” Yeonwoo asked. He looked at me like he was genuinely asking if that was a fact.
I shook Justin’s shoulder before looking up at Yeonwoo. “Apparently so.”
“Then he’s lucky he just got punched,” Yeonwoo snarled before storming off.
“Where are you going” I yelled after his retreating back.
“To call Eunji.”
I watched him leave and then turned my attention back to Justin. Gently, I lifted his head. He had a cut lip, but aside from being unconscious, he seemed OK. He was going to have one hell of a headache when he woke up.
I couldn’t just leave him in the middle of the kitchen floor. Instead, I grabbed his arms, pulling him up onto my back, and stood. He may have put on a bit of weight in the US, but he was still slight. Of course, I was all-but carrying dead weight, so his small frame wasn’t helping me out that much.
“You’re a dick,” I grumbled to him, even though he couldn’t hear me, as I carried him upstairs to our room. “And you kind of deserved that punch,” I added as I dropped him on his bed.
I stared down at him and sighed. We had a comeback. He didn’t need the cut lip and a swollen face. Sighing in irritation, I returned to the kitchen, pulling a clean towel from the drawer and filling it with ice before I went back upstairs.
He was still unconscious.
Between the five of us, we’d injured ourselves enough that we’d mastered some basic first aid. If he didn’t wake up soon, I was going to call an ambulance, but for now, I wasn’t too worried.
As I gently dabbed the cold compress against his jaw, my gaze fell on the collar of his hoodie. There was blood on the gray fabric.
Blood was a pain to get out when it was dry.
“Fuck’s sake,” I grumbled again. “Justin?” I prodded him, but I got no response. “Fine…” I grabbed the bottom of his top and tugged it up.
I hadn’t meant to take his shirt up with it, and I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, if it wasn’t for the fact that he was wearing something underneath.
No, not wearing… it was a bandage, wrapped tightly around his chest.
“What the hell have you done to yourself?” I asked him. I unpicked the knot. The last thing an unconscious person needed was restricted breathing. Only, as I started unravelling it, something started to take form under there.
My hands froze.
“No,” I muttered. My hands hovered above Justin’s chest. Slowly, my eyes swept over his body, coming to his crotch. Justin was wearing loose-fitting sweatpants and I should have been able to see something there. I’d been sharing a room with him for years, so I knew full well he had a decent sized dick.
But there didn’t seem to be a hint of anything there now.
OK, so it was possible, that things were hanging a little lower than normal, given how he was spread on the bed… And it was entirely possible the way the sweatpants were resting were covering things up…
The only way to know for certain was to… prod.
But if he didn’t have a dick…
Wait… “Why wouldn’t he have a dick?” I asked… his crotch.
My eyes flicked to Justin’s face. He looked like Justin.
My eyes went back to his crotch. But he didn’t seem to have a dick like Justin.
I rubbed my hands over my face. I was losing my mind, obsessing over my roommate’s dick. If the J3 shippers ever caught wind over this, it would probably end up fueling some dirty fantasies.
“Why wouldn’t he have a dick?” I asked myself, again. With a shake of my head, as I mentally berated myself, I moved back to the bandage around his chest.
Only I couldn’t bring myself to unwrap further.
What if he did have breasts?
What if he had gone to America and gotten gender reassignment surgery?
Once more, my hands hovered. “Fuck’s sake, Jung Minjae,” I scolded myself. “Gender reassignment surgery? You’re losing your mind! Check his knee.” I rolled up the sweatpants on his right leg, fully expecting to see the scar he had acquired a few years ago after falling off stage.
His leg was shaven, which wasn’t unusual considering we were idols and no hair was always preferable to hair when it came to promotions, but we hadn’t started yet. And then I knew I wasn’t going to see the scar.
The realization that this was not going to end how I wanted to hit me. And then I uncovered Justin’s knee.
There was no scar. “Who the fuck are you?”
The unconscious person didn’t respond.
My mind raced, trying to come to a reasonable conclusion. There had to be one.
I pulled the leg of the sweatpants down and as I did, the person stirred, rolling onto their side. The bandage slipped. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for me to see under-boob. I froze. I was definitely staring at breasts.
The person in the room with me wasn’t Justin.
This was a female.
A female with albeit small breasts, but very real breasts.
And then it came to me.
If the person in front of me looked like Justin but wasn’t Justin, there was literally one person it could be – his sister. I had never met her. I’d only seen a couple of photographs of her, and the few I had, she’d had long hair in all of them. She’d also been wearing feminine, close-fitting clothes.
The woman lay there, still partly exposed. Regardless of why she was here, this wasn’t fair to her. Trying to be as considerate as I could without touching her, and without staring, I bound her back up, only wrapping the bandages around her a couple of times, and a little looser, before I pulled her hoodie down and stepped back.
From the other side of the room, I stared at her.
“Sophie!” I blurted out, suddenly remembering her name.
Justin – Sophie – stirred, finally waking up with a moan.
She sat up, groaning, clutching the side of her head. “Where am I?” she asked. She hadn’t seen me yet, so I was sure the question wasn’t directed at me.
I answered anyway. “Upstairs.”
And then she recoiled in pain, her hand reaching to her jaw. “What the hell happened? What did you do to me?”
“Yeonwoo knocked you out and I brought you up here.”
Sophie closed her eyes and I could almost see her trying to piece the memory together. And then she sighed, opening her eyes, staring at the bed. She spotted the towel with ice and picked it up, holding it against her jaw with a wince.
I had been ready to ask her who she was and why she was here, but she looked so thoroughly miserable and dejected that, for some reason I couldn’t explain, I didn’t have the heart. “Are you OK?” I asked her.
“Just peachy,” she muttered, refusing to look at me. “Is this where you tell me I told you so, because I’d rather not hear that right now.”
“No.” I had other things I should be telling her – telling the others.
There was a knock at the door and without waiting for either of us to respond, Sungjae walked in. “What are you two doing up here?” Sungjae looked to Sophie and then did a double take. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing!” Sophie blurted out.
“Justin, you have a split lip,” Sungjae said, slowly. “And a swollen jaw. That doesn’t look like nothing.”
Sophie’s hand flew to her lip, prodding at it. She winced, closing her eyes. “I might have deserved this.”
Or maybe it was Justin who did.
“What’s up?” I asked Sungjae, again.
Sungjae looked back to me, rolling his eyes. He had no idea what had happened, but I could tell he figured Justin probably deserved it too. “Manager Choi is downstairs. He wants to speak to us all.”
“We’ll be right down.” My response earned me a questioning look from Sophie.
Sungjae stood there, and when I turned my attention back at him, he gave me a pointed look. “Now?”
Maybe this was a good thing. I had no idea what was happening, and maybe it was me that had somehow been knocked out. I’d go see what Manager Choi wanted, and then I would work out what I was going to do about… this.
I got up, and then, spotting the ends of Sophie’s bandages, quickly grabbed Sungjae. “He should probably clean himself up before Manager Choi sees him like that,” I told our leader, practically pulling him out the door.
“Seriously,” Sungjae said as I closed the door behind us. “What the hell happened? Did you punch Justin?”
“It was Yeonwoo.”
“Are you kidding me?” Sungjae let out an exasperated sigh and started to turn.
I grabbed his arm, shaking my head. “For better or worse, you need to let them work this one out.”
“What happened?” Sungjae demanded.
I opened my mouth, and then shut it with a sigh. “Honestly, I’d leave this to them.”
Sungjae stared at me, and then he shook his head. “You know, I think this time I will,” he agreed. Without looking back, he continued downstairs.
In the living area, Yeonwoo and Chan were sat on one of our two couches, eating the stir fry I had made and forgotten about. At least someone was eating it, because I wasn’t hungry anymore.
“Where’s Justin?” Manager Choi asked, frowning at the pair of us.
“On his way,” I replied, taking the vacant seat beside Chan.
“Aren’t you eating, hyung?” he asked me.
I shook my head as Justin – Sophie – appeared at the bottom of the stairs. She had cleaned her face and swapped into a different one of Justin’s hoodies.
I’d never realized twins of different sexes could be so alike.
Sophie caught me staring and lowered her gaze, moving over to the side of the room, but not sitting down beside Sungjae on the other couch.
“What happened to your face?” Manager Choi asked, staring at Justin like he had gone a round with the Korean Zombie.
Sophie’s eyes flicked to Yeonwoo, as did mine. Yeonwoo glared back at him.
“What do you want?” Sophie asked, sounding uncannily like Justin’s usual abrasive self that I had to do a double take. That was why I’d never doubted that she was Justin.
And it was also why Manager Choi was looking like he normally did – done with Justin. “I’m not stopping. I just wanted to let you know that it will be an early morning tomorrow. The company has agreed to your suggestion for DrakoTV.”
Chan let out a whoop of excitement, but it took me a moment to process what our manager was saying. DrakoTV… Shit.
“I don’t understand,” Sophie said, confused.
Of course she wouldn’t understand. She wasn’t there when we’d begged the company to let us have our own show.
“Make sure you’re up bright and early, otherwise the production team will be waking you up when they install the cameras,” Manager Choi told her.
“I don’t…” Sophie trailed off. And in the blink of an eye, she had developed a greenish hue to her skin. “Cameras?”