Chapter 27: The Modern Family

I'm cold. I'm very, very cold. In fact, I feel like I have been thrown in a freezer or sent to the North Pole. No matter how many layers I put on, my fingers and toes are still freezing. Someone toss me a heater before I freeze to death. As I put a scarf over my neck, Sehun frowns at me in awe from the corridor. "Uh . . . what . . . are you . . . wearing?" he wonders.

"Winter clothes?" I answer.

"But not . . . like . . . that," he mutters. "I mean . . . you're starting to look like Chewbacca."

"What?" I yell. "But how?"

"Fur boots,wool socks, fur hat, fur jacket, fur gloves. Then, you have a sweater, another jacket, a blouse, and a pair of velvet jeans," he lists while pointing to every single item that I'm wearing. "Oh, and ear muffs on the counter."

"But I'm cold!" I argue. "And I'm still freezing my a.ss off!"

Sehun chuckles along with a sigh. "You're just nervous . . . that you're meeting my family."

"That and I think I'm coming down with a cold or something," I mumble.

"Sure. Sure. You'll probably faint from the heat first . . ."

"Hey!" I snap at him. "Since when were you so mean?"

"Well," he raises his shoulders and utters, "it's fun to tease you once in a while. I kind of get why Yeonjun is such a di.ck to you most of the time. You just make others want to tease you."

"Great . . ." I sulk while placing the earmuffs over my ears. "I might as well just have a poster glued on me saying that I'm a masochist."

"Mm . . . so you don't mind me bullying you? He he."

"Hey! Cut it out! It's near Christmas time, so 'tis the season of giving and sharing and loving."

"All right, all right," he sighs. "I'll make one final note though before I turn back to my old self."

"Yes?" I peer at him with much suspicion.

"Bullying is another form of loving."

"Ah!" I cling onto my head and shake it back and forth. "Go back to your nice self, Sehun! Don't change into a demon! I don't need another one in my life! Ah! I bet I must have killed someone in my past life, and that is why in this life, I'm being teased to death! Ah!"

"I don't mind being killed by you," Sehun chirps while adjusting his tie.

"Hey! Don't say something like that."

"I mean it though," he says. "Even if you killed me, I'd be okay. I'd just haunt you again in your next life! Ha! Ha!"

Crossing my arms together, I huff, "Not funny. Not funny at all."

"But in all seriousness," Sehun now puts on his blazer that has been hanging on his shoulders, "you really need to wear fewer items."

"But . . .I'm cold . . ." 

My teeth starts to chatter, causing Sehun to march towards the kitchen to dig its drawers. I'm wondering what he has in mind, and then he delightfully shouts, "Aha! I knew this would come in handy!"

"Wh-what's that?" I ogle at that weird, fat belt covered in black. I almost burst out laughing since there's that weird juxtaposition between that tacky thing and Sehun's suave, black suit. He's definitely dressed like a model from a runway, but he's holding something that belongs at Walmart.

"Portable heat pack belt. You're supposed to wear them underneath your clothes," Sehun remarks, "and it supposedly traps heat within your body and what not."

"And how do you have this?" I squint my eyes together, almost in disbelief. 

"Oh," he notes rather casually. "My parents got me this for one of my birthdays. They thought it was very cool, and I thought it was kind of lame. I didn't throw it out because well, I felt bad if I did. And . . . Bahaha!" Sehun gets caught up in his laughter once he looks at me again. Okay, I understand how I'm being like a super old woman, but honestly, I can't take cold weather at all, even indoors.

"St-stop imagining me as a Chewbacca!" I holler.

"Actually," he corrects me,"I was trying to imagine you wearing this . . ." I hand him a menacing glare that shuts him up completely until he gives me the belt and adds, "Supposedly this is like wearing an electric heating pad around your stomach area. I guess this is how raw fish feel after being wrapped in seaweed for sushi."

"Huh . . . funny." I roll my eyes at him as I start to take off my jacket and sweater. Lifting my blouse up, I utter, "You've got to help me with this then."

"Leia . . ."

"What?"

"I don't think you should just show your stomach so easily in front of a guy."

I snicker, "What? It's just you! It's not like my stomach is going to turn you on. . . Oh my gosh! Don't tell me . . . you have a stomach fetish? Or is it the belly button?"

"Ha. No, but I'm . . . still a guy you know?"

"Right. Right."

I quickly head off to the washroom to strip. I really should be more careful with my words. Sehun is more sensitive compared to Yeonjun, so I can't let my words slip out like that. Brr. I better put on this weird thing. Now, how do I even buckle it properly in place? It just keeps slipping off of my waist. I guess I can try the tightest hole and see if the belt will stay. Okay . . . so it does kind of stay in a looser way. I guess if I don't move excessively, then I should be okay. 

Knock. Knock.

"Yeah?" I ask.

"I brought you a set of new clothes," Sehun informs me from outside of the washroom.

I open the door after I put on my shirt and pants, and then Sehun passes a . . . dress and a pair of stockings to me? It's a cute, V-neck sleeveless dress covered all in navy sequins for the top and tulle for the bottom. It's sort like an adorable dress for a little princess. "Oh! When did you get this?" I ponder out loud.

"I thought I'd go do a little shopping for you, so you'd be prepared to see my family," he replies.

"Thank you! I knew I could count on you!" 

I give him a genuine smile, leading him to say, "Glad you like it."

"Is this my Christmas gift then? Because if it is, I'm really--"

"It's not your Christmas gift," he interrupts. "I have better things planned for you for Christmas."

"Oh . . . you didn't have to."

"Of course I do." He laughs it off before pushing me back into the washroom. "Now, please go change into better clothes. I'll wait for you at the door when you're done? Actually . . . I probably have to fix your hair too, so I'll stay here."

"Sure."

And after all of Sehun's efforts, I finally look beautiful enough to maybe seduce Santa Claus from Mrs. Claus. Okay, that turned out kind of wrong, but my point has been made. Now, I'm off to battle it out with strangers, which I'm sure are beautiful ones indeed. On the way there, I'm still so nervous. I mean, sure Sehun's heat pad is working, but really . . . I can't feel my legs. I might as well be seaweed. Plant me in the ocean and let me befriend those sea creatures like dolphins, turtles, and whales. 

"We're here," Sehun announces as we pull up to his family's . . . awkward house. I don't mean to be rude, but this sort of architecture is pretty odd. I feel like I'm in Space Odyssey or even Star Wars. The roofs are all flat and remind me of huge rectangles. Actually, the whole house can be described as a set of blocks stacked together at bizarre angles, where some blocks stick out further than others. Glass panels cover the sides of most the blocks, and the door is even made completely out of glass. Maybe that Chewbacca outfit may have been more appropriate at this rate.

Before we even make it to the door, it opens by itself and his parents pop out, screaming, "Surprise!" They blow little horns at us and whistles. There's even confetti thrown at Sehun and me. I'm not even sure if this is a Christmas party at all when I notice what they're dressed in. Sehun's father, who doesn't look much like him aside from the eyes, is wearing a black leather jacket, jeans, and a hoodie. Huh? Then, there's his mother, who is absolutely beautiful and reminds me a lot of Sehun, sports a tight, leather dress that shows off her awesome body. Goodness gracious, I can't even beat an older woman's body. Shame on me. Shame on me.

"Hi! Hi!" Sehun's mother keeps waving at me like a little girl. "You must be Leia! We're so excited to see you! Yay!"

Sehun's father reaches his hand out for me to shake. "Nice to meet you, Leia," he greets me with a nod. 

"Nice to meet you as well," I shake his hand and reply. 

"Oh! Sehun! So this is the girl!" I hear a voice coming from the hallway and in pops a tall, curvy woman with lovely blonde hair and hazel eyes. She has healthy, tanned skin and a delightful smile. She kind of reminds me of Miranda Kerr, particularly with her Victoria Secret's Angel body. No, actually, she is the spitting image of her. Man . . . this family has great genes. All of a sudden, she comes in and gives me a hug. "Ah! You're so small! You're so cute! You're just like my little chinchilla, Taco! Ah!"

As I'm being smothered by this woman's affections, I hear another lady's motherly voice utter, "Subin . . . be careful. You're going to suffocate poor Leia and also ruin her makeup and get it all over your clothes." Once Subin releases me, I manage to take a peek at that woman and see her politely grinning at me. "Aren't I right? Mm?"

I can't help but feel that this feminine, proper lady is rather intimidating. Behind that smiling face must be a creepy personality. She seems like the passive aggressive type and also the sort that will never break any rules. I can tell by how she wears a turtle neck along with a matching, rose skirt and jacket. She even has a pearl necklace and a pair of Chanel glasses. 

"Oh, Sara, cut out your motherly acts," Subin rolls her eyes and groans. "You just don't want me to ask you to get stains out of my dress. Huh?"

"B-b-b-but . . . Sara unnie was just trying to help." A girl who looks several years younger than me appears from behind Sara. She has cute, long pigtails tied with red ribbons that actually remind me of Christmas. She even wears a bright red sweetheart, sleeveless dress with a large bow along her waist. She's so cute that I'd want to stuff her in my pocket. I mean, she has large, round, grey eyes, a cute button nose, and a set of small, rosy lips. 

Subin scoffs while sticking out her tongue, "You cut out that cute act too, Suzume! I'm pretty sure Sehun has already warned Leia of your deceiving ways. I'm pretty sure you think this whole party is pretty darn pointless. Oh, but wait! You need your fans to know that you're a caring daughter, right? You have to update that--"

"Noona," Sehun proclaims, almost out of the blue, "it's Christmas, so . . ."

"Fine. Fine," Subin grumbles. "I'll let you guys go for today. Now, where are the goodies, Sehun?" Subin curls her hands together, prompting us to hand her the wrapped presents. As she retrieves them from us, she states, "I'm going to put these under the tree!"

"Then, let's get down to some chow-ing!" Sehun's father shouts and claps his hands together. All the members of the family follow his lead. I give Sehun a glance, causing him to give me a few pats on the shoulder.  

"It'll be okay," he murmurs quietly. "We're a quirky family, and my sisters will fight till no tomorrow, but at the end of the day, we're still family, and the weirder you are, the more they'll like you." My questioning stare at Sehun makes him add, "Don't worry. You're pretty weird already, so they'll love you."

"Hey!" I growl at him. "Didn't I say that you should be nice to me like before? Huh?"

Sehun snickers at my remark, and I'm starting to see how he's related to his family. There's probably a secret devil nestled within Sehun as well. How bad can he get, I wonder. Just how . . .

Poke.

I realize that Sehun has poked me right in the stomach and he starts laughing again. Sara is wondering what's so funny now, and Sehun lies that it's nothing. It's nothing at all, he repeats while winking at me once. Sehun . . . my Christmas gift better be good. Or else.
 
----
 
Dinner is certainly unconventional. You'd expect the classic turkey with stuffing and mashed potatoes plus gravy, but instead, the table is filled with various dishes from around the world. I see lamb curry, sashimi, xiao long bao, crispy chicken, steamed vegetables, Greek salad, tteokguk, steak, turkey meatballs and pasta, and more. These don't exactly represent Christmas at all.

Sehun, who is sitting beside me, seems to sense what I'm thinking, so he mutters, "We have very picky eaters in the family, so . . . we'd rather have different stuff on the table."

Sara, who is across from me, wonders aloud, "Are these vegetables organic? And what about the meat? Is the fish even fresh? Where'd you guys get--"

"Jesus," Subin groans with her cheek slammed against her palm, "shut up. Okay? You're so uptight. They're all just food and they come out of your body--"

"Subin honey bunny," their mother, situated at the far end of this long table, interrupts, "please use loving and caring words towards your sister."

Rolling her eyes, Subin mumbles, "Whatever."

Their father now clears his throat as the butler of their house pours us champagne. "Ladies and gentlemen," he raises his filled glass in the air, "I would like to make a toast to each and every one of you." His eyes venture to his right as he declares, "Sara, I hope you will relax next year and learn to appreciate life." I hear Subin giggle pretty noisily, but Suzume elbows her sister in the ribs. "Subin, I hope you will stop relaxing and start getting your act together next year. Maybe consider settling down with someone?" their father suggests.

"Never!" Subin snaps. "I'm never getting married! You know that!"

"All right. All right," he continues to say. "Let's just hope you get your act together next year then."

"Maybe . . ."

"Now, Suzume," he remarks, "I hope you learn to release your emotions in a healthy manner and to be true to yourself."

"Thank you, Daddy," Suzume answers. She grins like a sweet Barbie doll, which the more that I think of it, the scarier I think she actually is. Myungsoo . . . I can't help but think that you've met your match.

"Finally, Sehun," he states, "I hope your happiness will continue, and I also--"

"Ah!" Sara shrieks, leaping right out of her seat. "Fly! There's a fly! Ah!"

The fly keeps buzzing away, trying its best to attack every single one of us. I notice the butler rush out and within seconds, he has an electric zapper in his hand. I try to watch him catch the fly, but I know that with his technique, the fly will never die. I decide to hop off of my seat and take charge. Snatching the racket out of his hands, I notice the fly heading towards the living room. I sprint at the same pace as the little bug that is heading for the window. I jump onto one of the sofas and then use the zapper to electrocute the fly to death.

Zap. Zap. Zap. 

The fly's body is shooting out sparks, and I'm certain that I've made my kill. As I feel proud of my catch, I jump from the sofa and land on the ground. Then, that's when I realize that the family has seen everything and that I'm in a public setting. Shoot. I let my fly killing instincts get the better of me. Sara has her hands over her mouth like a little chipmunk munching on its acorn. Subin has a widened smile, completely amazed by my skills. Suzume looks rather concerned, though I think that isn't really what she's thinking. Sehun, on the other hand, is resisting a chuckle and pursing his lips together. Their father blinks a few times, whereas their mother gasps slightly. 

"This . . . isn't what you think," I struggle to explain. "I just . . . just . . . had to kill the . . ."

Slip.

That belt falls right out of my dress and onto the ground. Oh my goodness! Ah! This is so embarrassing! Kill me! Zap me instead! Ah!

"Sehun . . ." their mother steps from the crowd and points out, "Isn't that . . . the heating belt I got you?"

I don't want Sehun to look bad, so I chime in very, very rapidly, "I was very cold, so Sehun let me use it. I . . . err . . . had to beg him to use it because he liked it so much that he didn't want me wearing it."

The whole family gawks at me for a minute before all of them burst out laughing. "Oh, Leia!" Sehun's father comments. "I'm so glad you have a sense of humour!"

"Aha . . . Aha . . ." I mumble, trying my best to shrug this incident off.

"You don't mind me telling my friends about this story? Right, Leia?" Subin questions.

"As long as you don't say that it's--"

"Oh! Great! I'll have one of the funniest stories at a Christmas party," Subin interrupts me. "Say, do you have any more to share? I'm sure you do?"

That is exactly the question that becomes the topic of the whole dinner. You see, I end up telling Sehun's family all of my mishaps. I let them know how I met Sehun through Yeonjun. They laugh really hard at how I thought Yeonjun was a girl back then. I also share some of the awful gifts the boys have gotten me for my birthday. Then, there's that tampon incident that I briefly mention, and all the girls are chuckling. Only the guys have a disgusted look.   

At the end of dinner, Sehun and I prepare to leave. The family members hand us our presents, and Subin keeps saying how we'll adore her gift and use it the most. I actually have a bad feeling about that, but I try to forget about it. When Sehun and I walk to the car, he apologizes, "I'm sorry for my . . . crazy family. They can get too overbearing."

"No, no, it's completely fine," I reassure him. "I'm only surprised that Suzume really dislikes Myungsoo."

I only say that because when we tell Suzume what her present is since Subin insisted that we let everyone know what we got them, Suzume had this evil smile on. That smile, however, seemed to represent her true personality, and sure enough, she was even cackling when we said that she'd be able to beat Myungsoo with the costume. 

"Oh . . . I'm pretty sure she just has a crush on him," Sehun corrects me.

"Eh? You think so?"

Sehun now opens the car door for me, responding, "Yeah . . . no one would be so obsessed with a guy that she literally sends magazines of her to him when they're out. She says it's to smite him, but . . ."

"But?"

When both of us are in the vehicle, he replies, "I think she wants him to notice her more. You know, with Myungsoo . . . he really has his head up in the clouds in terms of love."

Myungsoo and love . . . I really can't imagine. That robo-man. Nope. Nope. Nope . . . but if you put a girl like Suzume with him . . . then . . . maybe. A two-faced girl plus a cold blooded reptile . . . I'm sure she can stir something in his heart. 

"Oh . . . and before we go home," Sehun unexpectedly announces, "I want to take you somewhere."

"Where?"

"You'll see."

----

Sehun brings me in front of a tall, glass skyscraper. There is clearly no one in this building since all the lights are off and no cars are parked around the area. "Is this . . . where you work?" I wonder.

"Yup," he answers.

"Why . . . are we here again? Did you forget something from work?"

"No." He holds onto my hand, gently letting me know that I should follow him. "I have something special for you." I decide to listen to him, and so we walk past the front entrance, take the elevator to the 15th floor, and then stroll down a dark corridor. We then make a left turn, and when we arrive at the third room, Sehun stops to grab his keys. He uses his electronic card to beep the room open. Turning the lights on, he points to a chair in front of the recording room and instructs, "Sit here." 

He proceeds to press a few buttons to turn the machines on, and then he disappears from the room. Out of the blue, I see him in the recording room and then there he is making his way towards a piano. He starts playing a song, or rather, a ballad. He announces, "This song is called Leia."

Surprisingly, a few artists come into the recording room, and they begin to sing. They each take a few lines and manage to create a heartwarming melody. I feel my cheeks blushing as I focus on the lyrics, especially when there's "I love you". All those idols and singers are ogling at me with knowing smiles. It's as if they know just how much Sehun . . . loves me. I can sense that clearly too from the way he exchanges glances with me. I am lucky to have someone that cares about me so deeply. This is really the first time that a guy has done something so sweet to me.

To be honest, I'm a tad scared that this sweetness is . . . just a facade. After what Suho turned out to be, my instincts are telling me to be less trusting and more cautious of males and their intentions. However, after years of knowing Sehun, I think I can trust him. Then . . . what about those previous women he dated? Why did those fail? Was he this affectionate with them as well? If he can fall for me right after his girlfriend broke up with him, then . . .

Clap. Clap. Clap!

"Merry Christmas, Leia!" all the singers scream. Some even start chanting for a kiss, but Sehun snaps at them. Eventually, all of them disappear, and Sehun comes back to my side of the room. 

"Merry Christmas Leia," Sehun tells me. He grabs a box out of his pocket and hands it to me. 

"What is this?" I shake the box a few times to try to guess the noise. "A ring? A key chain?"

"Open it," he answers.

As I unwrap the wrapping paper, I feel my heart pounding harder. What if it is actually a ring? Is he going to propose? If that's the case, that's way too soon. If he really does that, I don't think I'll . . .

"Oh . . . it's a bracelet?" I lift the white gold band in the air and feel the little flowers running across the bracelet. There's some writing on the back, and I notice that it is from Van Cleef & Arpels. I slip it on my wrist, and it dangles perfectly there. "Wow!" I exclaim. "This is really nice! It's too, too nice!"

"Did you  . . . see . . ."

"See what?" 

"Never mind," Sehun mumbles before beaming a warm smile. "Glad that you like it."

"Argh . . . I should have brought your gift along too if I had known that you'd do this for me!"

"But that wouldn't have been a surprise."

"Still . . ."

"My gift can wait . . . though . . ."

"Though?" I tilt my head to the side. Sehun uses his finger to jab his cheek a few times and then his lips. "Really?" I ask, to which he nods. "A-a-a-all right . . ." I murmur. On my tippy toes, I press my lips on his cheek.

Creak. Snap.

Sehun and I both shift our attention towards the door, and there are two boys sticking their heads into this room. One of them has clearly taken a photo of me kissing Sehun. "Gotcha, hyung!" one of the boys hollers.

"Hey!" Sehun screams, chasing after the guys. "Who says you could come here? Huh?"

As I watch Sehun pursue the two rascals, I can't resist chuckling. The bracelet rests on my forearm now as my hand raises to cover my mouth. I suddenly sense the heaviness from this piece of jewelry and the fact that Sehun and I are actually together settles in my mind further. He's really my boyfriend. I'm glad he chose a bracelet . . . really. A ring would have been too much for now. 

Sehun, you're a smart fellow. You know me better than I thought you did, and I probably don't know you as well as I thought I did.   
 
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