Timeless by: emveek

timeless.jpg

Author : emveek
Group : Sechskies
Pairing : JinHoon
Other pairings : WonHoon, SuDuc
Genre : Songfiction, angst, romance, smut
Raiting : PG-13 (NC-17 on some chapters)
Warnings : None … Except some swearing and bad English.
Plot : Years can’t change the power of a strong love.

WARNING: contains mature content

 Timeless, chapter 1.

Spring 1999.

Aromatic morning coffee and the fresh kiss that wakes me up in the morning

Soaked in the sweet dream, I will probably say “just a little more…”

The morning sun slowly rose in the sky of this pretty spring day. Sunny weather with no clouds was expected, and the city was waking up in the calm, little by little.

Kang Sunghoon woke up in this atmosphere. Yes, THE Kang Sunghoon: Sechskies’ singer, with his heavenly voice and his bright smile. The boy making girls, and even boys, fall for him with just a delicate look.

As usual, he was the first out of bed in the apartment. His optimism never left him, even at early mornings or even if he was exhausted because of their schedules, that means, almost every day. He was as adorable as he used to be, even with his members.

He would always make them some coffee and prepared breakfast. Then, he would go into the bedroom of each member to wake them up, with an affection that sometimes felt so rare for them. In fact, he acted almost like a second mother.

He used to have a particular routine. He would always begin with Jiyong. Ko Jiyong, who was always so cheerful. He would just need to rub his back softly for a few seconds to take him away from his beauty sleep.

– Wake up, Jiyong, time to be out of bed!

– Mmmh … ‘kay … I’m coming …

Sunghoon smiled and rubbed his back one last time before leaving.

Then, he would go into Suwon’s room, his shy maknae. Sometimes, he would massage his neck until he woke up, always half-asleep.

– Hm …?

– It’s time to get up!

– Aish …

– Let’s not be late. Your breakfast is ready in the kitchen.

– Hmm … Thanks. I’ll come in a few minutes …

Sunghoon left when those words were said. Next, he would go into Kim Jaeduc’s bedroom. He would sit on the bed and kiss the dancer’s cheek to wake him up.

– Wake up, Jaeduc hyung! Breakfast is ready!

– What the heck … Stop acting like a mom, dude.

Yes. Jaeduc would always be awake in these moments. He would always wake up at the same time as the younger. However, contrary to him, he would stay in his bed, meditating, as he would always get up on the wrong side of the bed. Sunghoon smiled:

he was used to it.

– I let you with your thoughts, then. I will wake Jaejin and Jiwon up.

– ‘kay.

Then, he would go into Jaejin’s room. He was the hardest to wake up, and Sunghoon wouldn’t know how to react to him.

He would always be sunk into a deep sleep when he would come. A real sleeping beauty, with always a slight smile on his lips, hugging his pillow. Sunghoon sat next to him and began to rub his back.

– Hyung … Wake up …

Jaejin groaned and turned his back to him. The singer laughed quietly and kept rubbing his skin, feeling the muscles of the elder under his fingertips. His hand sneakily went under his shirt, rubbing and massaging his cold skin with the hot palms of his hands.

The dark haired boy shivered at this touch, groaning a bit more. Seeing him react, the youngest pouted.

– Come on, please, we’ll be late.

– Mmh … No …

The singer frowned, hearing this answer, and tried to use a rougher manner to wake him up by taking his pillow away from his arms. Without something to hug, Jaejin groaned once again, annoyed, and took Sunghoon in his arms, hugging him so tightly that he couldn’t escape his embrace. The youngest laughed and turned his face so he would meet Jaejin’s.

– Yah, hyung! I’m not a damn pillow!

– Mmmh … ‘don’t wanna wake up …

– But we don’t have the choice!

– ‘don’t care … Let’s sleep again …

The black-haired boy laid him on the bed with him so he wouldn’t move anymore, still hugging him. Sunghoon pouted and sighed a bit.

– What should I do to wake up? It’s the same thing every morning …

– … nothing … Just lemme sleep …

– If I give you a back massage, will you wake up?

At this question, the dancer slowly opened his eyes. Both were smiling. Still embracing him, Jaejin said, with a bit of tiredness in his voice:

– I might go out of bed if it’s the case …

– You’re such a lazy boy, Sunghoon laughed.

– I love your morning routine, the eldest recognized, ending the hug by slowly pushing the youngest and taking his shirt off. You are so kind and patient. You should sleep a bit more instead of thinking about everybody.

– I’m okay, hyung. I promise you.

Jaejin laid on his stomach, closing his eyes, as Sunghoon sat on his lower back. The singer began to touch the shoulders in front of him, feeling the boy’s soft skin under his hand and began massaging. Jaejin was humming with pleasure, shivering under the magical touch of his friend. After a few minutes he spent rubbing his shoulders, his arms and his back, he finally felt the muscles relaxing under his fingers. Sunghoon stopped and sat on the bed, soon followed by the dancer. The youngest smiled and kissed his cheek.

– Congratulations, you finally get up!

– Thanks, Hoony.

– You’re welcome. I prepared some coffee. You better put your clothes on and go to the kitchen. Everything is ready.

– Okay, see you, then.

Sunghoon left, still smiling, leaving Jaejin all alone in his room. The dancer sat on the edge of his bed, touching the cheek kissed by the brown-haired boy with his fingertips and sighed, looking at the floor.

– Damn …

He bit his bottom lip, before taking his head between his hands, thinking. If only those precious moments could last forever … Firstly because he was the only one who would wake people up in such a gentle manner. If it were Jiwon, every member would have gotten the water bucket treatment if they wouldn’t be awake in time.

Then, it was because he loved him. He loved him to death. Since their debut. The first time Jaejin had seen Sunghoon, it was love at first sight. But his love grew the more he knew him.

He was sweet in his look but also in his personality. He was the only one to be kind to him. Even if he was his hyung, Jaejin had been so shy when he first met the singer.

However, as time passed by, his shyness became a kind of indifference, to mask the burning and impossible love he got for him.

He dreamt a lot. In his dreams, they would live another life, a less tiring one, just the two of us.

He would be woken up by the scent of aromatic coffee and by sweet kisses. His husband would have prepared his breakfast for him, wearing a white apron that would make him even cuter. He would help him fix his clothes. He was craving for a life like this: they would only belong to each other. But there were so few chances to happen, sadly. He knew that. It was pure madness. Why ? Because they were men. Because they were idols. Because they lived in South Korea, where homosexuality was strongly criticized. Because there were few chances

he could seduce him, he, Lee Jaejin, who was awkward as hell in everything he said or did, not that good-looking compared to his fellow members, not that popular and too nervous to try any types of seduction. Because he wasn’t an exception: Sunghoon was sweet and bubbly with everyone. And because Sunghoon’s body and heart seemed to belong to another person.

He saw that. He noticed that. He sometimes wondered if the other members were aware of that, he was sure they were but didn’t say a word about it because they just didn’t give a damn about the situation.

It wasn’t for nothing that Jiwon was the last to be woken up by the singer.

Both would always be the last to reach the kitchen for breakfast and Sunghoon would spend tons of minutes « waking up » the group’s leader in his bedroom. The dancer wasn’t naive: they were not children anymore. Sometimes, at nights, he would hear footsteps in the corridor, doors shutting, Sunghoon’s whispers in Jiwon’s room and cracking noises coming from the bed. He hated that. He hated picturing Jiwon making love to the person he wanted, his hand on the youngest’s mouth to prevent his moans, their bodies uniting into one at each thrust, their sweat melting altogether, the oldest’s name whispered by the tongue of the man he was loving.

He tried to forget this imaginary vision, in vain. It brought pure pain to him.

He didn’t know for how long it has been lasting, but he was sure it was since their debut or even sooner, as they had been « friends » for quite a time already.

He was stupid. He had no chances. And this would lead to the group’s destruction. He clenched his fists.

It’s been years since he fell in love with him, but he couldn’t forget him. No man, no woman could beat the beautiful Kang Sunghoon in his heart. There were many people around him, but Sunghoon was still here, making his skin shivered at his touch and making his heart beat faster with a simple smile.

Jaejin sighed and got up, putting some clothes on. If his destiny was supposed to be like this, he should live with it. He tried to see the positive side of things. Even if they weren’t lovers, they still were friends, weren’t they? Moreover, they lived under the same roof, ate together and the voice of the younger was his daily melody and his heartening lullaby. He felt alive because he was by his side. That was fair enough.

Moreover, no matter how hard he tried to forget his feelings for him, Sunghoon was the only one he loved like this. And he would never cherish anyone besides him.

Today I begin my day by imagining you and I being happy together
I paint my future with you
With my only hope that someday, it’d really be like that

Timeless, chapter 2.

Autumn 1999.

Though you’re always with me, I feel lonely
This is harder than when I can’t meet you

The rain was slowly falling from the gray sky and everything felt moody for all the inhabitants of Seoul bearing the bad weather.

Sechskies members were tired, so tired. They released their fourth album Com’back a while ago and their company imposed them hectic schedules that could have led every normal human to madness. They were on the verge of becoming crazy, but they managed to survive. How ? It was still a question within the group. Because of their passion, maybe.

They were alone in their practice room, exhausted. They had been dancing for hours but, hopefully, they were almost done with their daily training.

Jaejin was lying on the floor, breathless. He was fed up with dancing, even if it was the second love of his life.

He turned his head and looked at the room’s mirrors to look at himself. He felt drained by all these hours, he couldn’t feel his body anymore because of pain. He was all sweaty, his eyes half-closed, his sleeveless shirt stuck to his abs … This sight could have been pleasurable but it wasn’t, because of the huge dark circles under his eyes and because of the ghastly color of his skin. He lacked so much energy and it could be seen just by looking at him.

Looking at the mirror, he could see what every of his friends did at the moment. His fellow members seemed to make their own businesses : Jiyong and Jiwon were sitting on the floor, talking cheerfully about the success of their last performance. Then, the dancer noticed Suwon who was still lying on the floor in the back of the room, from what he remembered, he had been catching up some sleep for half an hour.

Finally, Jaeduc and Sunghoon were still practicing, working on their dance steps for their song Yegam.

Both were really eager to be perfect on stage and Jaeduc, as one of the best dancers, was a good help for the singer, as he would give him very useful pieces of advice.

Jaejin stared at Sunghoon. How he wished to have a pencil in his hand, to be the only one looking at him dancing so he would draw and print on a white sheet the beauty of his body and his moves … The dancer always loved designing and having the brownhaired man as a model was one of his dreams. So at least, he would keep a unique piece of him in a drawing, just for himself. He wouldn’t share this part of the youngest to anyone.

He was so stunning. His brown hair with blond locks seemed soft at the touch and was still well-combed even after hours of training. What he cherished the most was his face.

It was flawless to his eyes, and even the smallest drawbacks of his physical features made it flawless to him. It was marked with a huge tiredness but it was still shining of a natural happiness. His dark eyes were sparkling with a glow of ambition and were so concentrated on his moves he couldn’t see the eldest observing him with discretion.

He loved this look too. He could tell so many feelings just with one stare. It could be either tender when he was in an affective mood, or playful when he was joking, or also very deep with concern when he was serious. Jaejin would feel so important every time the youngest would meet his eyes.

He stared at the level of his chin. Few sweat pearls were dropping off his jawline and his Adam’s apple.

Jaejin slightly blushed at this sight and looked down, at the youngest’s body.

He was way too thin according to him. At their debuts, he used to have a bit of fat and he looked really healthy but he lost so much weight because of stress. Even though, he was still very attractive to him. He seemed so fragile and wanted to hold him, to protect him …

Jaejin’s eyes were caught by the sight of the singer’s bottom moving while dancing. He tried looking in another direction, suddenly feeling unease.

The dancer wasn’t the kinky kind : his members were actually worse than him about their perversion and he was always very awkward when sex was the main topic of a conversation. However, the dark-haired man was still human and loved Sunghoon to death : he was the only person in his heart but also the only in his deepest fantasies. He was the source of his occasional nasty thoughts.

His ass was well-rounded and he couldn’t take his eyes of off it. His tights were also a very interesting part of his body : they were plump , but, alas, always hidden under large trousers.

If only they were loving each other … He would touch this butt he desired so much, grab it,  massage it while nibbling at his earlobe or his neck. He wanted to touch his whole body so bad, to cover it with wet and passionate kisses, to leave love bites everywhere so he would be only his, to make love to him as if there was no tomorrow … Nothing could describe how eager he was for him since he met him.

Jaejin sighed, daydreaming. He was taken out of his thoughts when he felt a heavy weight on his stomach.

– What are you looking at, hyung ?

He looked right in front of him. Jiyong had stopped talking with Jiwon and was sitting on the dancer’s tummy, lazily, with a slight smirk on his lips. Jaejin frowned. He knew the youngest was ready to say something kinky with that kind of face expression. He knew him way too much.

– Nothing. Just dreaming.

– Thinking about yadong, don’t you ? Jiyong suggested with a bigger grin.

Jaejin rolled his eyes. The worst is that he was not that wrong about his thoughts as he was imagining himself in an erotic scenario with Sunghoon. He replied :

– It’s not everyone who’s being obsessed with girls like you.

– I might be obsessed with them but I got several girlfriends since our debuts.

– And ? What’s the point ? You can have relationships but still be discrete, which is my

case.

– But you’d never show us one of your girlfriends. In fact, I had never seen you with a

girl, even as a friend.

Jaejin sighed with exasperation at this sentence and pushed Jiyong so he would be able to get up. He was kind of surprised to notice that everyone had stopped what they were doing to stare at him, waiting for an answer.

He liked women, at least, he liked their bodies. Even if he was madly in love with Sunghoon, he would occasionally feel the need to make love. As the man of his dream wasn’t his, he would sleep with women when he was going clubbing or drinking outside of Seoul. It was really rare, though. Most of the times, these women were already married and older than him. They weren’t intrusive into his life so they weren’t really aware of his idol career, it was a luck for him.

The only thing that was true in Jiyong’s words was that he never showed them one of his girlfriends. He hadn’t been in a relationship for years, as he didn’t feel the urge to be in couple and loved Sunghoon. If he were to be in couple, his relationship would be a failure and he didn’t want to make suffering a girl for nothing.

But all his friends brought a lot of dates at home. Jiyong and Suwon were the womanizers of the group.

Sunghoon was considered as one too among the celebrity world so he needed to keep this reputation, even in front of his members, although everyone in the group knew he slept with Jiwon. It was the same for the leader too.

Finally, Jaejin and Jaeduc were the one without dates : they weren’t really popular but it was considered as « okay » for Jaeduc not to bring one because he already had dozen of female friends and he would occasionally show them to the other members. One day, Jiwon concluded about that he may had slept with all of them at some point. This being said, compared to the other dancer, Jaejin didn’t have true reasons not to date, except his secret love for Sunghoon. His answer came, as cold as he could be :

– Just mind your own business. I don’t need to show proofs for every choice I make.

– Are the people you date that ugly you’re so afraid to show them ? Jiyong replied with a huge smirk.

– Do you wanna die ?

– Yah, I was just kidding.

– You’re not funny.

– It’s weird, though. You can’t hide everything to us like that just because you’re discreet, Suwon declared, stretching a bit.

– Leave him alone, Jaeduc sighed. There are a lot of people doing that. It’s his life.

– It’s true, Sunghoon said, crossing his arms, still a bit sweaty. Maybe Jaejin wants to take time before showing us the person he loves.

– If there’s one …

He muttered these words, looking at the floor, feeling depressed at this thought. There was one he loved, yes, but it was one-way love. An impossible love.

Sunghoon smiled to him :

– I’m sure you will soon find a very beautiful person you wouldn’t wait to show us. I feel confident about it.

A slight smile appeared on the eldest’s face. He always felt reassured with his words because he wasn’t underestimated to his eyes. He really had the power to brighten his world with just a few sentences.

After a short silence, Jaejin declared, still smiling.

– Thanks, Sunghoon. But let’s stop talking about that. My love life isn’t a hot topic, anyway. We need to practice one last time before leaving.

– Yeah, let’s work again.

All of them warmed themselves up before dancing for one last time. Jiwon came next to Jaejin, saying with a low voice.

– What a joke. It’s impossible to find someone able to bear you.

– Excuse me, what did …

– Let’s start !

Jaeduc interrupted the dancer and they began dancing in full sync, their bodies uniting for each movement. Their training had been efficient because their dancing was perfect. Jaejin was sometimes staring at Jiwon with a deep hatred shining in his eyes. They grew to loathe each other more and more over years. When they first met, everything was peaceful between both but they would soon begin to quarrel and fight, even over the stupidest matters. In fact, all the Black Kies : that means Jiwon, Jaeduc and Jaejin ; very often argued but the two oldest were the most in conflicts. They could not understand one another : Jiwon disliked Jaejin’s weird personality and hated that he was one of the few who didn’t show respect to him when it was needed. Jaejin thought that Jiwon was just a dictator and that he would have made a way better group leader than him. That would have been enough reasons for their complicated relationship but Sunghoon’s presence made it even worse.

Jaejin was going nuts knowing his crush was sleeping with the leader : life would have

been easier if he was loving a girl because he would have been conscious there was no chance he could love him. However, it wasn’t the case. He would have understood if he fell another guy but … him ? Seriously ? According to him, Jiwon was boring as hell and did not even seem loyal, he was sure he was seeing other people without the youngest knowing. Jaejin couldn’t tell if Jiwon was aware of his feelings but every time Sunghoon was acting with kindness towards him, the rapper would act really harsh towards him and be sharp with his tongue straight after that. At first, he thought it was just jealousy but seeing Sunghoon hugging the other members and sometimes kissing them in front of Jiwon, he quickly changed his mind : they were just hating each other.

When they finished, they all came back to the dormitory. It was late night already. They all stayed there.

Jaejin directly went to his bedroom and changed clothes, putting his underwear, ready to sleep. He felt too weary to say goodbye to everyone. He would have made an effort for Sunghoon but he was sure that he was stuck to Jiwon at the moment.

He heard knocking at the door when he got into his bed.

– Who is it ?

– Jaeduc. May I come ?

– Sure.

He was under his sheets, in the bed. The other dancer came in the room. Jaejin wasn’t

ashamed being half-naked in front of another member. They’d been knowing each other for years, they were used to that already. They even shared the same apartment for a while, years ago. Jaeduc sat on the edge of the bed.

– Already tired ?

– Yup.

– We began watching a movie in the living room. You can watch it if you want. But it’s

too boring.

– Don’t they remember we’ll have schedules tomorrow ?

– Yes, but they really need to change their minds. Even if that means less sleep. It’s their choices.

– I’m too exhausted for this shit.

– I feel you, you know.

Both smiled. Actually, Jaejin felt so much at ease with Jaeduc. They were born the same year, lived in the same town, they used to belong to the same dance group and they lived together for a while, just like brothers … Sometimes, Jaeduc would be rude with his words but there was always a good intention behind this harshness. Moreover, he could be extremely kind and attentive to the people he appreciated. Jaejin felt grateful for that. Suddenly, the youngest’s face turned into a soberer one. It would be rare to see him like that. He would usually be as such when he was on the verge to say something important or rather serious.

– May I ask you something ?

– Sure.

– Since when are you feeling that ? Jaejin frowned. On the moment, he couldn’t understand what he was talking about.

– What ?

– Stop hiding that, it’s too obvious.

– What is obvious ? Jaeduc, I don’t understand.

– Your feelings.

He then felt a bit more stressed. Was he aware that … ? Jaejin prayed it wasn’t the

case. He didn’t need his feelings to be known from someone. So, he lied, feeling pressured by the weight of his secret.

– … What ? I … really don’t see.

– Stop that, you can’t hide something from me, my intuitions are too good. I saw you looking at him while we were dancing.

Jaejin couldn’t answer to that and looked down. He wasn’t that discreet, after all. No sounds could come out of his mouth. He was too afraid to let someone know his feelings. Jaeduc, seeing him that afraid, put his hand on his shoulders to reassure him.

– This is between me and you. I swear to God that no one will know about our conversation. You know you can trust me. I’m your friend.

Jaejin bit his lips hearing these words and declared, with a sigh, after few long seconds of silence.

– Since debuts … It’s been since debuts …

– Really ?

– Yes … And I can’t take him of off my mind.

– You must, Jaejin.

They looked at each other. The oldest looked down and sighed again, he knew he was

going to say something like that.

– I know.

– I won’t judge you, Jin … You are my friend for what you are, not what you feel. However, this love is bound to be a poison to you. You might be aware that he’s been loving Jiwon for years already, even if we don’t dare to talk about it …

– Yes …

– Moreover, we are a group. We’re in a bad state, actually. We don’t need more shit with love matters, our managers and the company brings us enough stress like that.

– I didn’t choose those feelings, Jaejin muttered, a bit upset with the dancer’s words.

– I know you didn’t. But please, try forgetting him. For you. For Sechskies. For you.

– Don’t you think I tried already ? I felt in love the first time I saw him, it’s a lost cause.

– I’m pretty sure you did, Jin. But please, force yourself. Think of your well-being, let it go and find someone who truly loves you.

Jaejin sighed. He wanted to stop loving Sunghoon, of course … He tried so many times to forget his smile, his eyes, his voice … But he couldn’t do it. He fell too much for his charms that he couldn’t forget it. It was true love. He was sure about that. He didn’t want to start a love story which will turn to be a failure. Jaeduc declared, thoughtful :

– You know … If that could reassure you … I think I’m the only one aware of you being

in love with him.

You hide it well to everybody. But my intuitions are too good, I had doubts before, too. I would have noticed if the others were doubting, I’m an observer you know. However, I notice that Jiwon grows more upset when you are close to Sunghoon …

– It’s not my fault if he acts like an asshole ! I don’t dare touching Sunghoon or even talking for the sake of this dude !

– This « dude », as you call him, is our leader. Don’t you notice everything he is going

through for the group ? Our CEO and our manager aren’t the kindest people on Earth.

It’s true he is harsh with you but you don’t even try to support him in his task. Be more

comprehensive towards him. Otherwise, Sechskies will be dead as a group and you will forever loose Sunghoon.

Jaejin suddenly became a bit paler at this thought. He was afraid : it was the last thing

he wanted. Losing Sechskies would mean the end of his career and losing Kang

Sunghoon would mean the end of himself.

Without the singer, he was nothing, he felt nothing.

Jaeduc added :

– Moreover, the guys could begin to get doubts : as they said, you never date a single woman since our debuts, they could think you’re gay.

– Yah ! I’m not gay ! It’s not because I never brought a date here that I’m gay ! Don’t  worry about that, I fuck tons of women !

– If you’re not gay, find someone and forget Sunghoon, then. You’re not that much crazy for him if you’re not gay.

The oldest blushed at those words. Jaeduc said that very calmly, his arms crossed, looking at him. Jaejin sighed. Again.

It was hard to explain what he could feel. He knew that he could trust his friend so he tried, hesitant :

– No … You don’t understand. I love him. I could give my life to him. Everything. But …

other men … I just can’t. I can’t watch gay porn or stuff like that, I’m not aroused by this.

He is … an exception. And even when I make love to a woman or watch average porn, I don’t feel that excited … I can’t kiss her, cuddle her after sex, even look at her straight in the eyes … I … just can’t. I’m not gay … But I don’t feel heterosexual too. It’s too weird.

– You mean you only love Sunghoon and only see your sexuality through him ?

– Yes.

Jaeduc remained thinking for a while, his hand on his chin. Then, he said :

– Still, you’re sleeping with women. So why don’t you try dating one ? From what I’ve

understood, you never really tried.

– I … didn’t feel the need to.

– So you should try, you could forget Sunghoon then. If you want, I can fix a date for

you.

– You ? Are you Cupid ? Jaejin asked, laughing.

– You know I’ve many hot friends. There’s one girl that you might like.

– What does she look like ? The dancer asked, not feeling that much concerned about

that girl.

– Hum … She’s really cute. Petite, thin, big eyes, long hair, a pretty smile … She could

make one fall in love with her with only one look. She is also very kind, discreet, loyal,

and loves guys like you.

He shrugged. He needed to give it a try, anyway.

So after a short discussion, they decided to set a date in a few days, when they weren’t too busy.

Jaejin really wanted to try loving another person, to give his love to somebody else. But he knew it was going to fail.

These are sorrows that I must hide in your excessive indifference
I fall while looking at you

He wasn’t into the date at all.

He had followed her all day long, his hands inside his pockets, looking indifferent while she was all smiling, clinging herself to his arms. They shared a simple date : they ate an ice-cream and they watched a movie. Jaejin wasn’t assured at all and acted rather shy and distant  towards her.

She was his opposite : she was so into him, always talking or staring at him, her eyes

already filled with love for him. He felt so awkward he barely talked or entertained her.

Jaeduc was right : she was lively, bubbly, caring and really cute. Any man would love

her at first sight.

However, it wasn’t his case. He was only thinking of Sunghoon. He wasn’t feeling attraction to her, even after spending hours with her.

He decided to bring her to the apartment before driving her back to her place, so the others would see her.

When they arrived, all of them were so shocked when they saw her. She was so pretty, talkative … She was his total opposite. They were curious so they asked her tons of questions about her and the date. Jaejin didn’t listen. He sat on the living-room sofa, looking at them talking in front of him. He concluded he wasn’t normal at all not to care that much. At the moment, the dancer just felt the sudden urge to be alone.

Sunghoon talked with the girl, smiling, he seemed to be very happy to find somebody as bubbly as he could be. After a few minutes of conversation, he sat next to Jaejin. He slowly rubbed his back.

– See, you can find someone who is nice. You met a very pretty girl. She is very kind.

Jaejin had felt his heart racing when he felt Sunghoon’s palm on his back, his whole body burning with love while it was always so cold. He said, with a small smile.

– Yes … Thanks … Hoony …

Sunghoon smiled back and got up to see the others again. Jaejin sighed. He didn’t know what to do with the whole situation.

After half an hour, he decided to bring her back home. They reached her house after some minutes of silent driving. He stopped in front of it.

– Here we are …

He looked at her. Her eyes were bright and he knew she was waiting for a kiss to end

the date. But he didn’t want to act romantic with her if he didn’t love her.

He remained still, waiting for her to leave the car. She asked, with a shy voice :

– Thanks … When are we going to date, next time ?

He slightly raised an eyebrow when he heard the question and answered, with a sigh.

– I don’t know … You know, we’ve been busy lately … I will let you know when I’ve some free time, ok ?

The truth was that he didn’t want to date her again but as she was Jaeduc’s friend, he needed to lie. She outed, disappointed with that lack of romanticism and said :

– Okay … See you, then.

She left the car, looking at him one last time. Jaejin drove back to the apartment. All the members harassed him with questions but he did as he always did : he remained discreet about his privacy, telling it wasn’t their business.

He never saw the girl again. He told Jaeduc he met somebody else fitting more his expectations rather than her. Of course, it was a lie but at least, he wouldn’t try to make him forget Sunghoon again.

He was fine with that one-sided love. Being with the brown-haired boy was enough to make him happy.

He was doomed to love him but it was the sweetest torture he could endure, as long the singer was here to cheer him up every time when he needed.

As long as he was living with him, he would be fine and endured the pain.

I know my love sank into a slumber
But I’m not confident to destroy it

Timeless, chapter 3.

Spring 2000,

Jaejin was lost, he didn’t know what to do anymore.

He had roamed in Busan for days, without neither specifics goal, nor desires, giving no sign of life to whoever. His parents might have worried. However, he didn’t care. He didn’t forgive them of accusing him of something he never wanted.

The dark-haired man was drinking another bottle of soju, all by himself, on the terrace of a desert bar of Busan. He couldn’t care less to be recognized by his fans or medias anymore while drinking himself to death. He needed to change his mind by anyways.

He looked at the sky. Twilight had fallen already, all he could see looking up was the darkness covered with small shining pieces that were stars. It was a beautiful night.

Way too beautiful for his sorrowful spirit.

Tears came at the corner of his eyes. Once again. He bit his lips, trying to hold them but failed, because this situation was too much to handle. He was sure his heart wouldn’t bear such a thing: it was inconceivable to him. He was torn apart by an unendurable pain caused by  betrayal, illusions, and fear.

April had come. He ignored all these calls telling him to go back to Seoul. The dancer

hadn’t had the nerves to announce the sad news to fans and undergo something neither approved nor wanted. He was alone, fighting with his own ways, to protect Sechskies, their careers, all the hardships they’ve been through for three years.

He was fighting by himself to be with Sunghoon forever.

To keep by his side his most beloved crystal, with his soft brown-haired and eyes that comforted him at each gaze.

Soon, the only man he ever loved was going to pursue his path. At his thought, he felt tears rolling on his cheeks and he began weeping, hiding his face between his hands.

Nothing could help him feel better: his two sources of happiness had been destroyed for reasons he couldn’t understand, and that made him sick.

At this point, he didn’t care to be loved: all he wanted was to remain with the youngest,

to protect him and keep singing, dancing, as he did for three years. He didn’t care to be DSP’s slave, he just wanted to perform and be the singer’s guardian angel.

He wished that meeting in the company’s building never happened … He hoped to have foreseen the events so he would have avoided them …

The last month he had been living in Seoul was haunting his mind.

You always took care of me and worried about me above anyone else
And you gave me courage so that I can fly farther

A month ago,

The weather was cold and rainy at the beginning of March. Jaejin had been staying home all day with Jaeduc: both relaxed and played some video games. The atmosphere was chill when they were together, they laughed a lot and time went very fast because they had a lot of fun. It’s been some days they hadn’t trained in the company’s practice room, but they couldn’t care less: they finally had some time for themselves and were rejoicing about that.

At night, Suwon and Jiyong joined them. Contrary to the dancers, who were more sedentary, the two youngest liked hanging out with friends on different types of places and often came back late.

Nevertheless, they enjoyed coming back at the dormitory and reuniting with the Busan boys. Everybody would play some Mario Kart on Nintendo 64.

Jaejin remembered that particular night they played together. The mood was cheerful:

Jiyong was teasing every person he could, Jaeduc was cooking meals for everyone,

Suwon tried to remain as concentrated as possible on the race and Jaejin was groaning every time he lost because he hated losing. It was a casual night at the dorm.

They soon took a break to eat what Jaeduc prepared, sitting all together on the couch.

Jaejin was by Jiyong’s side, silently listening to the conversation.

– Don’t you find it strange that the company hadn’t called us for days to prepare new

schedules? Suwon asked.

– Strange ? I’m more than happy, Jiyong declared. Let’s be honest, we had been overworking for years. I’ve been craving for that hiatus to happen, I thought I was going nuts.

– True … It was kind of the same thing for me …

They kept eating, telling about how joyful they were of their break on their schedules.

Jaejin silently kept listening, until something important came to his mind.

– By the way, where are Jiwon and Sunghoon? I got the impression we hadn’t seen them for days.

– Yeah, it’s true, do you know what they’re doing? Jaeduc asked, frowning.

Suwon shrugged, remaining silent. After a short silence, Jiyong replied, holding his chin:

– Hum … It seems like Sunghoon went to his family’s place, from what I’ve understood. I don’t know about Jiwon hyung, though. Both always come back here late, I don’t have much the occasion to talk with them.

They had been pretty discreet, lately.

All of them nodded and kept eating their meals without saying more words. That explanation was enough to them. Jaejin remained thoughtful for some minutes, but these words came out his mind when they decided to play again.

They had played for hours when they heard the entrance door being closed. A man with brown locks appeared behind it, surprised to hear noises inside the apartment. It was Sunghoon. Everybody stopped playing when they saw him. Jaejin felt his heartbeat going faster when he met those lovely eyes he cherished. Everybody got up and approached him, smiling.

– Sunghoon-ah ! It’s been so long ! Jaeduc cheerfully said.

The latter looked at them, without saying anything. The boys’ sudden presence seemed to have taken him out of his thoughts. He smiled, with a bit of unease. The singer wasn’t as joyful as usual, and Jaejin well noticed it: he was too good at perceiving his feelings or behavior’s changes.

– Hi, everyone … It’s been long, yeah, he said, embracing everybody.

– Would you stay with us? We left you something to eat, and we were about to play some video games.

– Thanks, but no. I’m kind of … drained, tonight. I’ll just go to my room and rest.

– Ah … okay, then … Sleep well.

– See you, guys.

Sunghoon moved towards his room, under Jaejin’s astonished eyes. The times the handsome man refused to share a meal with his fellow members were rare and, usually, were signs that he had an awful day. The youngest members showed their disappointment, while the dancer remained thoughtful and reserved.

– Woah, that was fast …

– He barely greeted us …

– Guys, he might be exhausted, Jaeduc concluded. It’s past midnight, we should have gone to sleep for hours.

– True. In case DSP calls us tomorrow for new schedules.

– Hahaha, don’t doom us, for God’s sake!

After the last round of Mario Kart, they all decided to go to bed. Jaejin wanted to check after Sunghoon to see if everything was alright. He was sure that his strange mood was more than mere tiredness. Yet, he chose to come back to his own bedroom: he didn’t want to bother him at such a late hour.

Soon, no more noises could be heard in the dorm. Everyone seemed to be asleep.

However, Jaejin wasn’t: he always had troubles to find sleep.

Jaejin could see thick darkness behind his windows’ curtains when he heard the entrance door being shut again and slow steps in the corridors, heading to the bedroom next to his. The leader came back. A minute after, he could hear way more careful moves towards the said room and hear somebody entering inside.

Jaejin didn’t need to think twice about who the person could be. The dancer began to listen carefully.

– How was your day?

Sunghoon’s voice was calm but sounded rather grave. Jiwon answered, his voice as sober as the youngest’s.

– Like shit.

They began muttering, so he could barely hear what they were saying. However, at his

own surprise, the conversation soon graduated to what seemed to be arguing.

– I couldn’t do anything … I tried, but it’s impossible …

– Don’t tell me you tried, Jiwon, I don’t believe it!

– I swear I did!

– Rubbish. How could you let it go like this, seriously ?!

– Honey …

– No. I’ve had enough, leave me alone.

The door of Jiwon’s room opened up with a loud sound, and the singer’s steps could be heard until he reached his own bedroom. Jaejin heard the leader sighing loudly, and silence came again between the dorm’s walls.

The dancer remained still, lying on his bed. It just seemed to be relationships problems that preoccupied Sunghoon’s mind, so it was nothing much important to the dancer’s taste.

As long the man was safe, and Jiwon wasn’t violent with him, it was alright. He soon got back to sleep, without worrying anymore.

Days slowly passed. DSP wasn’t calling them or hadn’t sent a manager for a week. Jaejin wasn’t that preoccupied about that but the more time went, the more he felt alone. This sensation began because of Suwon. His maknae had always been the shy kind and wasn’t showing his emotions. Yet he liked sharing moments with the oldest boys and was always ready for having a meal with them. However, just like Sunghoon and Jiwon, he became more distant and wasn’t staying much in the dorm anymore. Jaejin tried talking with him, but their conversations were too quick. Way too quick compared to some days before. It’s not like they weren’t close, the dancer was worried by this sudden distance.

A day or two after, it was Jiyong who started changing. The handsome was always cheerful. He liked joking and was like a little sunshine in the dancer’s life. But his mood soon changed too. He was thoughtful, and unease every time he would meet the Busan boys. So both would stay alone in the flat. It wasn’t a problem for Jaejin, as he had always been very close to Jaeduc. However, the atmosphere soon became awkward and tense for reasons the eldest couldn’t find.

Soon, Jaeduc wasn’t staying in the dorm too, without telling the other where he was going for the day or the night.

Everyone was leaving the apartment, and nobody bothered to tell him where they were

hanging him and even less to greet him when they came back late. He stayed there.

Alone. Waiting for someone to come.

However, his days were bound to change forever on a cold afternoon of March.

He was playing on the dorm’s computer. He has been gaming for hours, it was his only

hobby, as he was alone in the flat. He didn’t like much this loneliness but forced himself to be used to it, he was sure DSP would call them to prepare new schedules.

He heard the door being knocked at the beginning of the afternoon. Frowning, Jaejin went opening it. He wasn’t expecting somebody at such an early hour. He opened it. His eyes grew wide when he saw the person in front of him.

– Manager-nim ?

A man appeared in front of him, with cold eyes and a stern face that didn’t show a single ounce of consideration. This face was similar to his mind, that had intentions that were far from kindness. Jaejin didn’t like him, neither did the others.

He only said, crossing his arms.

– Get ready. We have to go.

There were no “it’s been long, hope you were fine”, “how are you ?” or even less a simple “hello”. The dancer almost forgot they were their machines, their robots, existing only for money purpose. And robots aren’t supposed to have feelings.

The dancer looked at his own clothes. He was wearing his casual sportswear clothes,

those were fine, even for practicing.

– I am. But …

He remained silent for mere seconds and added, a bit doubtful:

– The other members aren’t here, it must be a problem.

The manager looked at him, annoyed by his remark, and replied with a dry tone:

– They already are at the company.

Jaejin frowned, hearing those words. Something seemed fishy. If the boys knew they had a schedule planned today, they would have stayed in the dorm and gone to the company together, like they always did.

Without wasting time, he left the apartment and followed his manager into his car. He

remained thoughtful during the trip to DSP’s building. He tried to understand why this was so sudden because it wasn’t normal. They always called them before a schedule, to be sure they were in the dorm and not in another place. However, there was also a possibility that several managers got them back at different places, but that didn’t make any sense too, as most managers took care of Fin.KL, Click B or potential group projects that were supposed to be created.

The distance between DSP and the dorm wasn’t huge. In some minutes, he was out of the car and had entered the building with his manager.

He followed him in the corridors. He felt taken aback when he went past the practice rooms, that were already busy.

– Wait … Aren’t we supposed to practice?

No answer came from the man’s mouth. They kept walking, going upstairs in the building.

Their pace became slower when they reached the final floor, which had only one office.

One that the boy didn’t like: Lee Hoyeon’s office.

The manager knocked on the door when he had reached it, and let Jaejin go inside the

room.

Everybody was waiting there.

The dancer was astonished to see his fellow members there. He knew he was about to see them but couldn’t understand why this meeting seemed to be so stressful and even tenser than the preceding days.

Jiwon’s face seemed sober and tired, Jiyong was twitching his hands with unease and even Suwon, who was always calm and expressionless, tried to hide his nervosity by biting his nails. Jaeduc seemed pretty pitiful and was on the verge of crying.

His eyes met those of Sunghoon. It was the first time they were seeing each other for days, but the singer seemed to have changed so much in a short pale. His complexion was too white, way too much according to the dancer, and his look was blank and hopeless. Their eye-contact was quick, as soon their eyes met for a for seconds, the singer began watching the floor awkwardly, not trying to meet his eyes anymore.

DSP’s CEO said, with a calm voice:

– Good afternoon. Sit down, Jaejin, we were waiting for you.

Unease, the dancer, looked around him and sat next to Jaeduc, who looked the other way not to meet his friend’s eyes. A huge and awkward silence was settled, with the CEO looking at them. Not afraid of letting his thoughts known, the dancer asked, tensed:

– What the hell is going on ?!

No one answered. Jaejin looked around him but only met sad, grave faces. He felt his own face becoming paler … What was happening?

He got his answer as a few words. Few words that were about to destroy his dreams and existence. Few devastating words.

– Well … It’s been days we’ve been trying to decide the group’s future with Eun Jiwon.

And after a lot of … discussions about it, we decided it was time to disband Sechskies.

You don’t bring much profit anymore, and it seems like some of you aren’t satisfied with the company. It must end.

Jaejin felt his heart on the verge of stopping beating the more he heard what he was saying. He remained silent, having the impression to live a bad, very bad nightmare.

Lee Hoyeon continued:

– Your sales have never been good, compared to H.O.T. That won’t improve, even with a hit song like “Couple”. We want to prioritize Fin.KL’s career and to focus on Click B. We’ve been giving your chance for three years, it’s already too long, you will never be able to reach  H.O.T’s success and popularity.

The dancer stared at him right in the eyes, still shocked by what he was hearing. He slowly muttered, in a short breath:

– It’s a joke, isn’t it?

– It’s serious, Jaejin.

– You’re lying, he replied, his eyes becoming darker. You can’t do that, you have no rights to make such a thing happen, we still have people who support us! Guys, am I right? He looked at his fellow members. Once again, none of them answered. He got paler and paler the more the silence kept going. Lee Hoyeon answered instead of them:

– Well … While waiting for you, I was discussing with your friends and wanted to know what they want for the group. And it seems like we all agree on the same solution. I’m happy we came to an agreement: we never made contracts for you, it was an act of charity to give your chance, it’s time to stop and leave an opportunity to more talented people.

Jaejin began clenching his fists and was biting his lips, trying to hold his anger as much as he can. He stared at each member, without believing it. How could they do such a thing? They loved Sechskies as much as he did. None of the members was answering and didn’t try to meet the dancer’s black eyes. They should have fought for their career, their future together, he always wanted that. He just couldn’t believe it.

He got up, giving a deadly stare to the CEO. With impudence, he answered:

– You won’t buy me with those words.

– I’m serious, Jaejin.

– I am too. I don’t agree with your methods. I am one of the Sechskies members, and I don’t want to disband. Find another solution.

All of the other members looked at him with incredulity. Lee Hoyeon frowned and said,

calmly:

– Jaejin, I do not leave you the choice.

Jaejin slowly walked towards the door and turned to look at them one last time before leaving the room, his voice firm.

– Me neither, sunbae-nim.

On these words, he left the room. He suddenly felt an inner weakness invading his heart and stopped himself a bit farther in the corridors. He pushed himself against a wall, clenching his fists more and biting his lips. He felt anger building inside him. How could this be fucking real? He suddenly regretted not to have punched the CEO in the face for telling such lies.

He turned when he felt a presence behind him. He turned around. It was Jiyong. He was slowly approaching him and seemed worried about the dancer’s condition. The latter was about to let him come closer but stopped him with a cold voice:

– Is it the truth, Jiyong? Did you all actually say you wanted Sechskies’ disband?

At this question, the brown-haired man stopped and tried looking elsewhere. He answered, trying to keep his voice’s composure:

– He … He is right, hyung. We said that.

Jaejin stared at him, his eyes invaded by a bitter mess of anger, sorrow, and disbelief.

He felt his whole body was trembling with rage and tears coming at the corner of his eyes. Tons of knives seemed to have crossed his entire body. He muttered, his teeth tightened:

– You’re fucking kidding me …

– I’m so sorry, Jaejin hyung, we’ve tried to find solutions, but there was nothing we could do …

– Stop lying! I can’t believe you want such a thing to happen! I can’t! Was it why you ignored me for days ?!

– We didn’t know how to announce you that …

– You should have warned me! Damn, Jiyong, you know me! I would have stopped this, we would have stopped everything! We would have chosen another company, I don’t know, but we would have found a way to get out this hell ! Were the others also aware of that?

Jiyong remained silent, biting his lips. Jaejin grabbed him and shook him, his voice

growing louder, his anger becoming like a huge fire ravaging and hurting his body:

– Answer me, for God’s sake!

– They are! They knew way before me, Suwon told me everything … He also told Jaeduc, after me …

Jaejin let him go by firmly pushing him and looked at him with a light of disgust.

– You never trusted me, right? This was why you ignored me for days … I’ve never been a friend to you …

– No, hyung … Of course, no, you know how much I care for you …

– So what the fuck were you thinking ?! Why didn’t you trust me ?!

– Nothing was possible anymore, there was no need to hurt you more. I tried, with Suwon and Jaeduc hyung to stop everything but the CEO had made his decisions already. He discussed a lot with Jiwon hyung … We tried, even with him but … There was nothing we could do. Hyung was tired of fighting for a lost cause and for people who didn’t even care for us … Jaejin’s eyes got darker at those words. Of course: that was Jiwon’s fault. Everything was happening because of him.

He felt even more fooled hearing this. He tried so much with him, he engaged himself to improve his relationship with the leader and tried to keep this promise, as much as possible. After all, he was the leading strength of the group so almost everything depended on him. Jaejin had taken conscious of the danger represented by their strict schedules and really wanted to help the eldest. So he put aside their conflicts and tried his best to support him. Because he wanted to stay with his group. Because he wanted to remain by the side of Sunghoon, whom he still loved with intensity.

Though, he destroyed everything … Because he had that power.

He heard the other boys getting out the CEO’s office behind him. His eyes darkened when he saw Jiwon between Jaeduc and Suwon, staring at the floor. Seeing him, he couldn’t retain his feelings anymore and move fastly towards him, ready to punch him.

– You, bastard!

He was about to jump on him but was stopped by Jiyong’s arms, who maintain him with all his strength so he couldn’t move anymore. He whispered, panicked by the sudden move of the eldest:

– Stop that! It’s useless, that won’t change anything, it will only make things worse!

– Bullshit ! He destroyed our futures, how do you want me not to punch him ?!

He was staring at Jiwon, his black eyes filled with his deepest hate. Jiwon glanced at him. His eyes weren’t full of anger, they were loaded with an immense emptiness, and his face was marked with tiredness. He seemed discouraged. The leader didn’t try to move away from him. He lowered his look again, just one sentence came out his mouth:

– Jaejin … I’m sorry … For everything.

Jaejin frowned and moved backward by surprise. It was rare for the leader to acknowledge one of his mistakes.

They were the same: two rebels spirits, the blackest crystals of Sechskies. They were so opposed and similar at the same time. They often argued because of their differences but Jaejin sometimes managed to perceive how he thought. But here, he couldn’t understand him. He was a fighter, a rebel, confident in his thinking, why did he let himself and the group down like this?

He tried to reason himself. But soon, his violence invaded his brain again.

– … Liar ! I tried so hard to help you with the group, to support you. I tried to understand

you, to feel your pain but you’re so fucking selfish you only thought of yourself!

– Jaejin … I’m so …

– Shut the fuck up! I hate you!

He roughly shifted Jiyong on the side and was about to hit the eldest right in the face when Sunghoon moved between them and stopped Jaejin’s hand by holding his wrist.

– Don’t!

The singer stared right at him, his black eyes sunk into his. Jaejin felt all his violence vanishing at the sight of the man he secretly cherished.

– … Sunghoon ?

– Don’t do that. I don’t want you to hit Jiwon hyung.

– But … It’s his fault! He decided to disband, the CEO told us so.

– We already argued a lot about this, there’s no need to add your opinion to this problem.

Jaejin felt his heart tighten at those words. Was it why he heard the couple argued during that night? It was way more than relationships matters. He looked at him, puzzled and confused.

– But … Why ? Why did you also agree with that? Sunghoon, I thought you cared for us.

That’s unfair …

– Jaejin … Everybody is right about us. It was time for us to do so.

He felt a dagger stabbing his heart at those words. The dancer’s eyes grew wider at those words. He remained silent as if the world stopped around him.

– I think it’s better disbanding while we’re still at the top … The fans won’t stay forever by our sides. We can have good solo careers, too. It’s better for everybody …

Jaejin lowered his face, not meeting Sunghoon’s eyes anymore. He bit his lips and felt his eyes suddenly became teary. His mouth couldn’t say any words, he was too weak in front of the man he loved and couldn’t fight, defend himself.

– Moreover, it’s not like we were going to live together forever …

Hearing this, tears began dropping, and his legs were shaking with nervosity.

Vulnerability attacked his body. He was destroying his dreams, hopes, and fantasies he had built all over the years just by saying those words, those cruel words that broke his heart into sharp shatters that hurt each part of him.

– Hyung … Are you crying?

Sunghoon looked at him, worried and slightly touched his shoulder. His skin began trembling under the youngest’s touch, and the dancer pushed him slowly and tried to say, his words stuck in his throat.

– No … I … I need to … To go …

Tears began to fall down his cheeks and could be seen by his fellow members.

Sunghoon was about to come closer, but he turned and started running away, shutting his own mouth with his hand to prevent sobs, not turning so he won’t meet his friends’ shocked faces. He ran fast, so fast nobody would catch him.

In a few seconds, he was outside, tears still flowing on his face. He kept running without stopping and stopped when he felt his bones were so weak he couldn’t move anymore. He was far from the company. Alone. In an empty street, that reinforce his loneliness. Jaejin let himself fall on a bench and couldn’t hold his sorrow anymore. He cried in agony, his face barely hidden behind his black locks and his shaky hands. His whole body was quivering, and he had trouble breathing. He remained as such for hours: empty, hurt, broken, and the one who caused these painful sensations was the man he ever loved.

When he felt he was able to move again, he came back to the dorm and took his belongings. Hopefully, the others weren’t there. And, without telling them, he left Seoul to go back in Busan, his hometown. What was the use to stay there? Everything was over and make his team see his despair about the whole situation would only make it more uncomfortable to everybody.

Since that day, his life had slowly turned into a nightmare.

When he came back, his parents put themselves inside the matter. They came to DSP to try to find a solution, but their presence didn’t help it. Jaejin didn’t come back there: the pain would only be wider if he would see those buildings, that CEO who destroyed his dreams, his members and the man who broke his heart …

He quarreled a lot with his parents about that. They told him that leaving Sechskies has been the worst thing he had ever done and that they weren’t going to talk to him if he did not resolve that matter. That made him sick: he never wanted that and was accused of disbanding while he never wanted that.

Their relationship degraded so much he decided to get a small apartment in Haeundae.

All by himself. He was lonely for real now, spending his time between the white walls of his flat or roaming the streets without goals. Most of the times, he was drinking himself to death, alone. Alcohol sometimes helped him feeling better when he was depressed.

Since he came back, he tried to think about a solution to slow the disband down and even to prevent it from happening. But no matter how hard he tried, nothing came to his brain.

At the beginning of April, the month of when the disband was forecast, the company contacted him on his cellphone so he would come back to Seoul, record the farewell song with his members and prepare all the events about this announcement.

Seeing that they couldn’t get him, the company tried to reach him again. Once. Twice.

Several times. Jaejin couldn’t bear hearing the cheap ringtone of his phone, that came as a remindful pain about the end of his life with Sechskies.

It’s at that moment the solution came, as evident to him.

One April’s night, he went on the beach, after a walk. He sat on a rock near the sea, looking at it. It was beautiful and was lightened by the orange sunset, the man always appreciated this view when he was living there. He pulled his phone from his pocket and looked at it, thoughtful. The only way he had to prevent all these things to happen was to simply disappear to their eyes. Then, maybe, they would worry and think twice of their decision.

After a few seconds of hesitation, Jaejin threw it in the sea. He stared at it being sunk by the huge waves, and it soon disappeared, just like the happiest times of his life in the capital city, with his fellow members and that bright crystal that lightened his days up.

Didn’t you know?
Couldn’t you be aware of my mind?
I always longed for you alone …

Jaejin ended his soju bottle in one sip, his teardrops slowly drying on his cheeks. He was about to get up and ask for another bottle when he felt somebody sitting by his side.

He slowly turned his head. It was a familiar face with a short blond hair he never expected to see on that person.

– Hello. Jaejin.

It was Jaeduc. He was staring at him, with a serious face. He looked healthy but also tired, as his facial features were drawn-looking. Jaejin mumbled, looking elsewhere.

– Hi … Dude …

Jaeduc kept staring at him and, slowly, began counting the bottles Jaejin had been drinking.

– One, two, three, four … Woah, and you’re still sober with all this soju inside your veins?

– Mh …

– You seem to take it as a habit, isn’t it?

– Mh … I guess …

Jaejin was staring in front of him and sighed, his eyes still red because of his cries.

Jaeduc calmly asked:

– Where were you for all this time?

– Well … Here … Doing nothing special … Resting a bit and enjoying life …

– Mh … Do you know DSP tried to call you?

– Oh ? I didn’t know about that, he calmly lied, drinking his bottle. I broke my phone …

– They even came to your parents’ place to see if you were there.

– I’m not living there anymore, and I didn’t talk to them for quite some time.

– That’s childish of you, Jaejin.

The latter stared at him, slowly raising an eyebrow.

– What is wrong?

– Don’t you know how much we were all anxious? When the company told us you disappeared, I looked for you in the entire Seoul and Busan, questioning your friends, your family! Something could have happened to you! You worried us to death!

– Well … As you can see, I’m still alive …

– That’s all you have to say ?!

– What else?

– I don’t know, maybe “I’m sorry” or maybe “Excuse me for behaving in such a selfish

way”?

Jaejin’s eyes grew darker hearing this. He looked away, uneasy. He didn’t want him to

know he went out of sight because he wanted to prevent the disband from happening.

He muttered, irritated by his words:

– Excuse me, but you’re not in a good place to talk about selfishness …

– Come on, stop acting like a child! We all tried so much, I begged the company not to

make that happen but we were doomed, we never made contracts so we don’t have the choice!

– But Jiwon …

– Stop rejecting everything on him just because he is the leader. You have no ideas how much he suffered.

That hurt him a lot to make that happen, but you don’t see it, you only think of you and what matters to you … He knew everything way before us and fought a lot for Sechskies, but DSP doesn’t give a damn for us now.

– That’s bullshit, we could have signed in another company …

– It’s not that easy. Think whatever you want, Jaejin, but I needed to tell you something important.

The dark-haired man looked at him, raising an eyebrow. Jaeduc remained calm and continued, with a quiet voice.

– Sunghoon worried to death for you.

Jaejin’s expression changed a bit at those words. His friend remained calm, he perfectly knew he hit a sensitive point, and kept talking:

– You have no idea how much he had been anxious … He wanted to go here to look for you and was sorry for the way he talked to you last time … He didn’t know you cared so much about Sechskies …

The dancer’s cheeks became a bit red at those words, internally feeling touched by this kind intention. The dark-haired boy muttered, hiding his feelings:

– Why would I feel concerned about that? I don’t care, I’m not the one he loves …

– Oh god, stop lying … You never stopped loving him, even if you tell the opposite, you can’t help it.

– Shut up, I’m over it, Jaejin lied.

– Don’t lie, it’s pretty obvious you wouldn’t care much for the group if he wasn’t here.

– Shut the fuck up!

He was about to jump on the other man to hit him when he heard those words, his body trembling from nervosity. However, instead, he stopped and began breaking down, his teary eyes meeting Jaeduc’s again.

He stopped his sobs by sealing his mouth with his hand, but Jaeduc slowly caught his wrist, saying with a soft voice:

– You can cry, that’s fine …

Both looked at each other, and Jaejin fell into the other man’s arms, sobbing loudly.

Jaeduc embraced him and slowly caressed his soft black hair, without saying a word.

He knew his feelings too much and even though they were Black Kies, both were very sensitive and expressive in their emotions.

Jaejin sorely muttered in his neck:

– You … You are right … I can’t help it … I … I love him … Jaeduc … I love him so freaking much! I could die for him! No matter … how much I suffer because of him … The other dancer slowly patted his back, still hugging him, and said:

– If you love him … Just go back to Seoul. Let’s disband as six … Sunghoon will be reassured if you’re here

– But … I still don’t want to …

– I don’t want to dissolve the group either … But there’s nothing we can do. DSP won’t wait for you, next time. Let’s face this hardship as six. He’s going to be happier if you’re here, and that will be my case too.

He slowly detached from the eldest man while saying these words, his eyes a bit teary.

Jaejin slowly lowered his look and muttered, with a quiet voice:

– I’ll be there … Even if it hurts …

He slowly stopped crying, biting his lips. Sechskies was already buried to DSP’s eyes.

No matter if he tried running away, the disband was settled, and there was nothing he could do. His missing would only bring more problems.

Jaeduc attempted to smile, hearing those words, and proposed him to stay the night at his place so they could go back to Seoul the day after. Jaejin agreed, feeling the need to have a friend by his side to talk and accompany him through his hard journey to face his destiny, the end of his team.

He really thought he was a fool for coming back. He could have stayed forever silent like this and let everything go this way. But there was Sunghoon. And for him, through pain, despair, and tears, he remained a fool. A fool in love.

I’ll be loving you, forever I’ll miss you
I was afraid that I might lose you someday

Timeless, chapter 3.5 – In Jaejin’s mind.

Spring 2000,

Dream Concert, 20th May.

So, this is the end …

Everything is over. The doors of what could have been the happiest times of my life are closing, and there’s nothing I can do to keep them open.

I’m looking in front of me. There are so many balloons, it’s making a rainbow ocean in the middle of the night … I can perceive sky blue, green, red colors … But most of them are yellow, it’s our bright and happy color. What a sad irony for us … The view we have to see is way too marvelous for what is happening right now.

So many people came today. I’m feeling weak. I wish I would have avoided this situation to occur, but I wasn’t powerful on my own for that.

We are singing “Would You Remember ?” for our final performance. I’m trying to hold my tears back but I barely can. I’m feeling so sorry for what is happening …

Our fans burst into tears, so the other fans do. The whole stadium is overwhelmed by sadness, because of us. I can’t handle it … I never wanted such a thing to happen … I’m listening, without moving. Tears are coming at the corner of my eyes and I’m trying to hold them back lin front of our fans …

I don’t have the courage to look at my fellow members. However, I noticed that Jaeduc has already been shedding tears for some minutes, he has never been the kind to hide his emotions. I observed Jiyong’s watery eyes behind his small eyeglasses. It hurts. It hurts to know that tonight is the last time we are performing together and that, next, there will be nothing left of our team, except memories.

The chorus is coming. Here comes that voice, that angelic voice … Kang Sunghoon is so heartbreakingly beautiful tonight, with his eyes shining with a glow of despair behind his soft blond locks. He is singing those lyrics, with such emotion it directly strikes my heart.

“Whenever we met, I saw sadness on your face
Though I wanted you to stay with me, your silence made me sad even more
If you say that you hate me, I would rather feel easy
Did you ever know that my love is you ?”

I feel my heart tightening while hearing those words … If only he were aware how well

they transcribe what I’m feeling for him …

I’m … such a loser. I failed at keeping by my side everything I love. I wasn’t smart enough to notice everything was going wrong. I acted selfishly and only thought about what matters to me. I hurt my members by running away and hurt myself too, and the worst is that I hurt him.

I … failed at loving him and proving it. I couldn’t even erase his sad smile while we were preparing our disband, a few days ago. I saw how sorrowful he was, but I didn’t even have the guts to hold him in my arms and reassure him. Because I’m a coward …

Our part is coming. Holding the mic, I’m singing it, staring in front of me:

“Your words that do not make you my everything
You may not shed tears because you’ve prepared today.”

I’m feeling my body trembling, and I’m trying to contain my grief again. Why does it sound so false to say?

No one has prepared this moment … No wonder why everybody is crying. We weren’t supposed to die that early as a team, we deserved so much better, and so did our dear fans. But no … We are disbanding, right in front of them, and seeing their tears is even more painful.

I didn’t prepare too. I don’t want to accept this fate. I don’t want to be on my own … I’m afraid, and I don’t want to let in the past everything I cherish … My team, my career as a dancer and rapper, and the man I love … I don’t care about being just a friend to him. I only want him by my side …

Sunghoon keeps singing the chorus’ lyrics, with his emotive tone:

“Though I will leave you with the words “Goodbye”

Would you remember that we loved each other.”

Why do these sentences sound like something he’s telling to my heart?

Today marks the end. It’s our last night as Sechs Kies members. Tomorrow, he’ll be Kang Sunghoon, and I’ll be Lee Jaejin. We will pursue our paths as artists, and he won’t care about me anymore.

But how can I forget him? He’s the only one … No matter how many seasons go, how cold my heart is, how painful I feel, how lonely I am: he is the only one my heart can love. Even if that means dying of solitude and killing the fragments of happiness that remain inside my heart … My love for him will never change.

I’m looking in front of me while listening and singing the chorus again. I feel … apart, in a different dimension. I don’t want to tell myself that it’s the end … I’m imagining that we are performing as usual, in front of fans. It helps me feeling better. But there’s a huge gap between the other five members and me …

They are here, experimenting the sad thing that is happening while I’m still stuck in Sechskies land, daydreaming.

However, the last notes of the song are bringing me back to the reality … Gosh … I can’t handle it … Why does it have to end that way? Tears are flowing and this time, I can’t stop them. Jiyong is looking at me, and I’m slowly coming to his side, smiling clumsily. I’m trying to hide and dry my tears so I can say goodbye with an ounce of dignity. Here comes the time to say farewell, to all those people who love us, worry about us, and cry because of us… I don’t want to do it. I’m the first member to talk. I’m slowly taking my mic, and I’m saying with a voice as composed as possible:

– I’m sorry … for shedding tears on our last performance … I wanted to say farewell with gusto …

I’m pausing for a few seconds, looking at this crowd full of people wailing loudly at my words. This view hurts my heart so bad … I never wanted to do that … I’m sorry, so sorry … Smiling with difficulty, and about to cry again, I’m finishing:

– I’m sorry …

I’m feeling the other performers and groups coming behind us, enquiring about us, asking us if we are fine. Of course, we are not … But I’m not in the mood for answering them. My mind is being away from the current events after my talk. I’m still living in the past, far in the past, when everything was alright, but I’m still able to hear my members’ kind words to the fans, which brings me back to the harsh reality.

I bit my lips to hold my tears until we’re leaving the stage. Everything is so silent and uncomfortable while we are all heading towards our backstage. I let drops rolling on my cheeks, silently, without looking around me. We are soon arriving at our room. We are all changing our suits for more comfortable and discreet clothes, in silence. It takes only a few minutes. When we are all done, we are all looking at each other, our eyes filled with tears. Jiyong has taken his glasses off, drying his tears. He is the first to talk and is saying, smiling with awkwardness:

– Let’s meet soon, guys. Disbanding doesn’t mean we are dead. We are still alive. We can meet after that.

I weakly smile too. Our Jiyong is right. But I feel weird. I don’t want this night to stop. I want to have the guts to ask “Hey, let’s have a drink now !” but the words can’t come out my mouth. I have the feeling that tonight is the last night we are sharing a moment as six.

Jiwon is slowly replying to this:

– For sure … Whenever and wherever. Let’s do that as soon as possible, when we will all have free time on our schedules.

We are remaining silent on these words. Our leader, smiling, is embracing each one of us. We will all soon leave this room and will pursue our paths without anyone around.

I’m hugging everybody, without saying a word, tears rolling on my face. The only moment I raise my eyes is when I’m in front of Sunghoon, so I can look at him one last time and print his beauty inside my brain.

He is wearing thick black clothes, his sad smile hiding behind his light blond locks and his eyes dazzling, almost teary.

Without a word, he is attracting me in his embrace … God … I feel like melting into it. I’m going mad at this touch. I’m feeling my heart is going to explode … I want to cry inside his neck, but I’m just nuzzling my nose into it for a few seconds, smelling his sweet scent for a last cruel time. I’m lifting my eyes, looking around us for a few seconds. Everyone has left the room as many groups are waiting outside to talk with us.

I’m slowly muttering, trembling a bit:

– Sunghoon …

He is slowly detaching from me and is staring at me with his bright dark eyes:

– Yes ?

– I …

I want to say “I love you.” There’s nobody around us. It’s my only chance to let him know my feelings for him and free my heart from its heavy burden. I don’t care to be loved. I want him to know how much I care for him and cherish him.

But soon, we can hear a voice coming closer to us.

– Sunghoon, are you ready? Let’s leave together.

Jiwon is coming towards us, with his tired face, his hands inside his pockets. My cherished singer is still looking at me, waiting for an answer. But I can’t tell him … My words are stuck in my throat, now. As a weak reply, I say:

– I wish you good luck for the future …

He looks at me with a questioning face, wondering why I take such a solemn tone to say these words. But soon, he is smiling, as weakly as me.

– I wish you good luck, too, hyung … I sincerely hope we will meet, after that.

– Ye … Yeah … That would be … great …

I’m trying hard to smile. I want to cry for being such a coward. I’m lowering my face, seeing Sunghoon leaving towards our ex-leader, without turning one last time. And I’m feeling my heart shattering into pieces when I see their hands holding discreetly in the dark corridors, among the crowd of people.

I lost everything in one night … My career, my fans, and that chance …

I … can’t stop crying … I don’t know if I will manage to live without your presence by my side, Kang Sunghoon …

I love you … But you will never be aware of my love, and you will never care anyway.

Timeless, chapter 4.

Winter 2002,

Another morning, for another dull day …

A man in sportswear was sipping a hot coffee in a small café in Itaewon. It was the result of a habit he had taken since he began a solo career as a singer and since he had lived in the capital city. The drink was tasteful during these cold days. It was warm and recomforting.

He was easy to recognize among the crowd of people, but he couldn’t care less. He managed to get even more handsome after years and became a good-looking young man, with long silky brown hair, fair skin tone and still wearing that beauty mark near his lips, cherished by many fans.

Lee Jaejin was glancing around him while drinking this warm coffee.

He still had free time before going to the company. He used to spend it watching people, more particularly girls.

The dancer was a good observer and noticed some beautiful women drinking chocolate and giggling with their friends. Of course, he even saw some who were staring at him, with either curiosity or more deep interest. The man liked that. He stared back at them seductively, sometimes winking, and liked the way those girls blushed under his eyes.

However, he never got up and talked to them. Jaejin wanted to try having more interest than that for them, but he couldn’t. His solo career helped him feeling confident, but he didn’t want to play more than this seduction game with them. His heart felt empty. He didn’t feel the need to love or be loved.

Because the only one he cared about had left his life quite some time ago. Now, he is just a remembrance, an “old friend” to him.

Yes. Years couldn’t change his impossible love for Kang Sunghoon. No matter how hard he tried. He silently watched, followed his two first albums promotions and he couldn’t help but falling more in love with him seeing how beautiful, sweet, talented he was. They met once or twice. But that was fast, too fast, as if it didn’t happen. The two men acted as if they were strangers. That hurt Jaejin, but he didn’t feel pain anymore because of that. He already suffered so much, what was ignorance to him now? He had never truly been part of his life, except as a colleague. That was justified.

The dancer sighed, and ended his coffee with one sip. He was about to get up and leave the café when he felt a hand touching his shoulder.

– Jaejin ?!

He frowned hearing his name, but his eyes grew wider when he perceived the tone with which it was pronounced. He could recognize it among thousands. His hometown’s accent …

He turned back and faced a smiling Jaeduc with bright eyes. He smiled back:

– Duckie …

– Dude, it’s been so long! He exclaimed, hugging his friend. I missed you so much!

– Me too, Jaejin said, patting his back. What the hell are you doing here?

– I was promoting in Seoul, what a question! I was drinking coffee with Suwon. Come with me. He will be happy to see you!

– Su … Suwon ? He said, a bit surprised.

– Yeah, follow me.

Without saying more words, Jaeduc took Jaejin’s hand and guided him toward a table hidden from looks, in a corner. Soon, he could see Suwon, wearing casual clothes and also drinking a cup of coffee. When the dancer came closer, the ex-maknae raised the eyes and looked at him with a surprised expression.

– … Hyung ?!

– Hi, Suwon, it’s been so long!

– … What is he doing here? He asked to Jaeduc, after a short silence.

– I don’t know, why would we care about that? What a way to welcome a hyung after so much time! Stop acting like a kid and greet him.

Suwon looked at the dancer and ended up giving him a hug, smiling a bit. Then, they all sat around the table. Jaeduc said:

– We freaking missed you … What are you doing on your free time lately? You’ve been so good as Double J. I hope you’ll come back soon.

– Well … I’m supposed to go to the company in an hour to work there and choose some songs I’ll work on for the next album. So, it has been foreseen already …

– Woah, so good!

– And you, guys?

– We ended J-Walk’s promotions for Someday, Suwon declared.

The youngest said that staring at Jaejin right in the eyes. The dancer looked away, feeling a bit uncomfortable. He was supposed to be part of the J-Walk project but never answered to them when it was settled.

– Oh … I see …

– I never understood why you never answered when we wanted to record the first album. You seemed to care for Sechskies so much!

– Suwon, please stop that, Jaeduc calmly said.

– No. Jaejin hyung, I want to know why.

Jaejin bit his lips and looked away for a moment, before staring back at him.

He had his reasons. He was a Sechskies member. He loved his old group. But being part of a sub-unit that would remind him of their past was painful to him. If he stayed an artist, he would stay alone. He was used to the loneliness of a solo career. And he missed Sunghoon so  much, being with people that reminded him every day would, even more, depress him.

But he couldn’t tell that. Smiling, he answered:

– Well, you know, I had been busy with my solo career … And more over …

He laughed, adding those words:

– I didn’t want to be part of a jTL ripped-off.

Both the men in front of him looked at him, raising an eyebrow.

– O … kay …

– That’s a weird reason. Are you sure there’s only that? Suwon asked.

– The funniest thing right now is you two being in a duo, Jaejin answered with a smirk.

Why the hell did you choose to stay together? I was shocked: you couldn’t bear one another while we were Sechskies.

The duo was so surprised by this remark they forgot the initial question and looked at each other with a thoughtful expression. Jaeduc answered, thinking:

– Well … Our destinies … kinda forced us to do so. We didn’t have the guts to do solo … He knows how to sing … I know how to rap … We like performing … We talked a lot after the disband … It came as evidence to us.

– We have different personalities, but somehow, we managed to blend well, and we barely argue now, right, hyung?

– Yes, even though you are still a brat.

– And you, an old ahjusshi.

They laughed at these words. Jaejin stared at them with a smile on his lips. He was glad they were happy with their current career. However, there was something he wanted to know for a long time. Something he didn’t dare asking, but that he needed to know.

– By the way … How the others have been doing, lately? Are they fine?

The duo looked at him for a few seconds, and Jaeduc replied, sipping his coffee.

– We haven’t been in touch with them for quite a time … We promoted a bit with Jiwon hyung, as his last album came out at the same time as Suddenly. We barely talked, though. And, according to what I read from some fan websites, Jiyong has found an acting company. And, as you might know, Sunghoon promoted his song My Girl and was busy with it. We met once or twice, but our meeting was fast.

– I see …

– I’m surprised you didn’t contact Sunghoon, Jaejin hyung, Suwon declared.

– Why ?

– Because you love him, don’t you?

The dancer froze when he heard that question. He stared at him, raising an eyebrow.

– Excuse me?

– You still love him, don’t you? Jaeduc hyung told me the feelings you had for him while we were in the group.

His eyes grew wider at this announcement. He stared at the other dancer, his face marked by shock and disappointment.

– You told him ?! It was confidential, dude, you are such an asshole for telling him!

– I said nothing, I swear! He guessed it all by himself. I just confirmed it!

– Shut up. You didn’t need to do that. As if … Living with it was easy. No one can understand.

– Dude, I feel you, stop that.

Jaejin looked away, ashamed, while Jaeduc tried to meet his stare, feeling sorry. Suwon said nothing, sipping his hot drink. When he had finished it, he slightly bent towards Jaejin and whispered:

– Hyung … I can’t understand what you’ve been through and what you are feeling … I won’t judge you … I swear I had no negative reactions when we talked about it.

– Hm …

– But, I want to understand you … You always seemed so depressed, in the past … Do you still love Sunghoon? Jaejin slowly raised his eyes, which became sadder at this question. He replied, with a quiet voice.

– Of course, even if there is a gap between us … I can’t help it … It’s been years, but this love grew stronger with time going.

– So why don’t you go and talk to him?

– He doesn’t care about me … And, as you might know, he has Jiwon …

– Bullshit. Forget about it and go.

Both dancers stared at him in awe when the youngest said those words with a determined face. Shocked, Jaejin muttered:

– Wh … What ?

– Sunghoon likes you a lot. He cares for you. Stop putting you down. Love is war, hyung. If you love him, you should fight to win his heart, even if that means fighting Eun Jiwon.

– Suwon, stop saying rubbish to him, we will break the group’s friendship, Jaeduc carefully said.

– Sechskies is dead, now, he sharply replied. I would have understood you if we were still a team but we disbanded, we have nothing to protect anymore.

Jaejin bit his lips hearing those words. The ex-maknae was right. There was no need to hide this affection as they all weren’t members anymore. Suwon continued:

– You can’t stay like this forever … You need to confess to him.

– I’m going right into a wall …

– What you tell is only a way to make him even more suffer. Jaejin enough suffered, when the moment will come, he will do it. He doesn’t need that, Jaeduc replied.

– How can he guess the right time if it doesn’t happen? He loses nothing by trying. If he doesn’t try, he will only get regrets. Moreover, the relationship between Sunghoon and Jiwon hyung is going bad lately.

– Bad ? Jaejin repeated.

– Yes. They argued a lot since both went solo. Last time we saw hyung, he hadn’t wanted to hear a single word about Sunghoon. And Hoony seemed bitter about him too. I don’t have more details about that.

The dancer felt hope invading his heart at this sentence. Somehow, he was feeling bad for being happy about a potential end of their couple, but he agreed with the youngest: it was a golden occasion to step in the game and show how much he cherished the singer. Jaeduc looked at Jaejin, puzzled, then smiled a bit:

– As you are my friend, I don’t want you to hurt yourself because of this love. You experienced enough pain like that … But … I won’t stop you from confessing if you want that. I know how much you love him, and you deserve to be loved in return.

Jaejin smiled, biting his inner lip and slowly muttered:

– I’ll think about that …

Suwon, with a grin on his lips, caught a pen and a writing pad. He pulled his phone out of his jeans’ pocket and began writing on the pad while looking at the screen. Then, he gave one paper to Jaejin, who had been looking at him with curious eyes while he was writing.

– It’s Sunghoon’s phone number. In case you want to contact him … There’s also ours if you want to talk.

Jaejin stared at him with surprise. His friends just smiled. He smiled back, his heart filled with hope. After a short conversation concerning their respective schedules for the day, they all left the café, promising themselves they will meet soon.

For the whole day, the dancer kept staring at the numbers written on the paper, thoughtful. He was afraid

… It was the opportunity to recreate a link between them, but he feared his reaction.

Would he still care?

Would he be angry?

Would he remember?

He was taken out of his thoughts when his producer came and proposed him the songs for his awaited second album. He carefully listened to the sample of the chosen tracks.

None of them pleased him …except one.

The melody of this track was cheerful, and the lyrics’ first draft suited his tastes. He quickly asked for the title and got his answer in a single word.

Uri.

The dancer remained thoughtful for a few second and grinned, repeating the word again. Uri … He thought it could be a good idea to sing it as a duo, or with even more people. Like with members of his exgroup

… With his friends … With the man he loves. The lyrics suited them all, and the melody had a nostalgic Sechskies’ vibe, similar to their old songs.

He asked his producer if a collaboration was possible for that song. The latter encouraged him in this choice. Being with other artists was the best way to promote.

The six crystals could reunite in this manner.

After choosing his songs and training, the long-haired man left the company and came back home. When he arrived, he went on his bed, slowly pulled his phone and the small paper out of this pocket and looked at them, biting his lips. With all his courage, he dialed the numbers next to the name of the one he loved and waited, holding the phone to his ear, waiting for his voice, sweet voice.

It didn’t take much time to hear it.

– Hello ?

He gulped when he heard the familiar voice on the line. After a few seconds of silence,

biting his lips, his heart beating like crazy inside his rib cage, he slowly said:

– Hi, Sunghoon … It’s me, Jaejin.

There was a short silence before the youngest man whispered:

– Jaejin hyung …

Jaejin remained noiseless. He didn’t know how what he was going to tell after that.

After few seconds of silence, the singer sighed:

– It’s been so long … I missed you …

His voice seemed reproachful. The dancer’s eyes grew wider, as he never expected such a sentence from the handsome man’s mouth. He could already picture him, either laid on his bed or sit on a sofa, with a pout on his face, saying those words. Jaejin blushed and clumsily replied:

– I’m so sorry … I missed you too. I wanted to call earlier, but I was afraid to bother you

– You’re such a dummy … Why would you bother me?

– You … had tons of schedules …

– And ? It’s not important. You worried me. I thought you were angry at me … You weren’t, right?

Jaejin bit hard on his lips when he listened to him. He felt stupid, so stupid for acting this way, and for thinking during all this time that the youngest didn’t care about him.

– Of course, not, Sunghoon. I’m sorry … You shouldn’t have worried to that point …

– You don’t have to be sorry. I should have called you too … By the way, everything’s fine now … We are talking, and that’s the most important thing, right?

– Yeah … Yeah, you’re right, Jaejin awkwardly replied.

– You see … Tell me, how are you, hyung?

– Fine, he answered, smiling a bit. And you?

– I’m fine too. I followed your whole promotion for S.Wings album. You improved. Long hair strangely suits you … I thought you looked weird with it, at first, but you’re still very handsome.

Jaejin felt his heart exploding when he heard the singer’s point of view about him. He was glad to fit his tastes regarding beauty. He replied, laughing and blushing:

– Thank you. I also followed yours, for your two albums. You were as good as before …

Even better … And

… Even more handsome, haha.

– Awh, that’s so sweet. Did you call to say that to me or was there another reason?

The dancer remained silent for a while at this question and answered, sincerely:

– I wanted to hear from you because I missed you … I also wanted to talk with you about my new album.

There is a track I want to sing … with everybody. I mean, with the other Sechskies members. I want you to sing it with me if you aren’t busy.

For short seconds, Jaejin couldn’t hear the sweet voice of his fellow ex-member. The latter answered, thinking:

– There is no problem to sing it with you, even though I might prepare my third album. It could be an excellent occasion to reunite. I’m not sure about the others, though …

– The others?

– Not Jaeduc and Suwon, I’m pretty sure they will accept it. But Jiyong, for example …

Contacting him is hard. And Jiwon hyung … has been busy lately. You lose nothing by trying, but there’s a high possibility they won’t be here.

Jaejin remained silent. He was right … He would need to think about it. But in a way, he didn’t want Jiwon to be with them and ruin his moment with the other man. As Suwon said, both  were in a love war: there was no place for kindness or friendship anymore.

– Hm … I’ll think about it. But as long as you can sing with me, that’s fine. You are our main singer, after all.

– Will we meet to sing together before the recording?

– Of course, Sunghoon. It’s obvious. Why?

– Because I can’t wait for that moment to happen.

– Nei … Neither do I …

Jaejin blushed and couldn’t say more words than that, his heart beating so loudly it was the only thing he could hear inside his noiseless bedroom. After few seconds, Sunghoon sighed, and said:

– Crap, I didn’t watch the hour. I’ll let you, hyung. I’ll go to sleep.

– Oh ? See you soon. Okay, have a good night, Sunghoon.

– See you soon … Oh, by the way, hyung …

– Hm ?

There was a short silence. The youngest slowly whispered:

– I missed you …

Jaejin smiled and uttered back:

– I missed you, too … Sweet dreams, Sunghoonie …

– Sweet dreams, hyung.

The singer was the first to hang up the phone. The dancer felt his body as light as a feather, for the first time in years. Slowly, he let himself sink into his comfy bed, his phone against his breast.

He felt needed. Appreciated. By the man he always cherished. That made him felt alive and melt the ice walls around his heart.

And for the first time, he felt like his days were about to be as bright as the sun.

Timeless, chapter 5.

Spring 2003,

– Hyung … It’s been so long … I missed you.

At last. The two men faced one another.

Jaejin’s heart exploded when he heard these words coming from Sunghoon’s mouth. The day they were supposed to practice together finally came. The dancer couldn’t believe that he was in front of him after three years of pain and silence.

He remained motionless like a rock when he saw him entering the practice room with light steps. His eyes became watery when he saw his marvelous smile on his face. Finally, he had melted inside his arms when the youngest was done greeting Jaeduc and Suwon. They had hugged for a long minute, and Jaejin didn’t say a word, his eyes closed, preventing himself from showing his emotions.

Now, the cheerful man was observing him and was as good-looking as ever, maybe even more, with his beautiful tanned skin and his soft brown locks. His features bore signs of joy, and that made him even more attractive.

The dancer just couldn’t hide his eyes filled with love for him.

– You are beautiful.

He whispered this sentence, smiling, without noticing that his heart spoke for himself. His face reddened when he felt the intriguing eyes of his ex-members on him, following those words.

Sunghoon rose an eyebrow and laughed:

– Well … Thank you. You are very handsome too, hyung, haha.

Jaejin kept blushing and smiled with nervosity. He felt stupid for losing control this way, in front of everybody. Suwon was grinning to him, looking at the two men. Jaeduc looked at them with unease and slowly came to them.

– It’s good to see you after all this time.

– I craved all of this, Sunghoon sighed. You know … Training, performing, with you. It’s

not the same when you’re alone …

A short silence followed this words. Everybody seemed to agree with the singer’s feelings.

Inside of their heart, all of them wanted to be as Sechs Kies again. But even today, as four, they felt and were incomplete. Sechs Kies meant “six crystals.” Without Jiyong and Jiwon, it wouldn’t make sense to say it’s a reunion. The song they were about to sing together would only be a track from Lee Jaejin’s new album, featuring Kang Sunghoon and J-Walk. Not a Sechs Kies’ song. And all of them were aware of it.

Jaeduc looked at the singer and smiled weakly at him:

– I know … Well, at least, we can spend some time together. Moreover, we’re helping

Jaejin for his new album.

– Yeah … Thank you again for coming, guys …

– You’re welcome. We’ll give our best for you. It’s our first song together since isbanding, fans will care about it. It’s been so long we sang together, Jaeduc said.

– I hope everything’s gonna be alright, Jaejin sighed, worried.

– Don’t worry, hyung. We still have time to polish our singing together. The more we practice, the best we will be.

Sunghoon said these words with a reassuring tone, smiling. Jaejin smiled back, without  talking, just looking in the youngest’s eyes with an affection he had troubles to hide.

However, his contemplation had been short, as Jaeduc brought him back to reality:

– Well, let’s start, shall we?

– Yes !

– Y-Yeah.

Jaejin shook his head and looked at the ground, clumsily, as all of them began their vocal warming up. He quickly smiled, harmonizing his voice with their owns. He always enjoyed how all of their voices blended well together when they were all in Sechs Kies.

Finding this sensation back after these years made him more than happy.

Following this, they began singing. Everybody tried his best not to make mistakes.

Except him.

Jaejin was aware that, this time, he was the main singer. He was supposed to be the most concentrated but he just couldn’t. His stare often met Sunghoon’s dark tender eyes while he was singing and that made him lose control of his voice. The dancer couldn’t help but be hypnotized by the handsome young man, even after all these years.

All of them didn’t speak much while practicing, except when they were correcting mistakes or when they were taking a break. When they ended up their training session, it was night already. And all of them didn’t want to leave, even if they were supposed to meet again.

Jaejin’s eyes were spying on Sunghoon, while he was preparing himself to leave. He got interrupted by Suwon, who had been speaking with Jaeduc for quite a minute:

– Guys, are you ok to hang out tonight? We have free time to spend before going home.

Sunghoon looked at him, surprised by his suggestion, and answered:

– Well … I have no plans for tonight … So I’m fine with it.

– Jaejin hyung?

The oldest of them looked away, a bit uneasy with the question. The dancer was feeling too nervous to be in the same place as Sunghoon, doing something that wasn’t involving the group or their careers. It would be just them. Chatting, drinking and staring at each other.

– I … I don’t know … I’m not in the mood for going out …

– Come on, Jaejin hyung! Make an effort! Suwon exclaimed.

– Please hyung, come … It’s been so long since we last saw, we will have fun, there, Sunghoon said while pouting.

He bit his lips and looked at J-Walk members. Jaeduc shrugged while Suwon only sighed and looked at him with disappointment. He could read in his eyes that he suggested this because it would be an opportunity for them to get closer. He was trying his best for him and appreciated that, but he felt like Suwon was just wasting his energy, as Jaejin wasn’t expecting much from himself.

He sighed:

– Okay, okay …

– Yeah ! You’ll see, it will be cool!

– You know that Jaejin hyung can’t resist you, Sunghoon. You just need to smile, and he would give you the world.

Suwon said this, calm and grinning. Sunghoon laughed at this sentence, while Jaeduc smiled awkwardly.

Jaejin scowled at the maknae. He was about to reply back, but Sunghoon stopped him by putting his hand on his shoulder.

– Well, as long as he stays with us and pays me drinks tonight, I think it’s better than the whole world.

The youngest smiled and winked at him. Jaejin tried hard not blushing while he did that to him on purpose and laughed, patting the youngest’s hand with his own.

– We’ll see, we’ll see.

– So let’s hurry, then!

The men quickly left the building and began looking for a pleasant place to enjoy their night together. The members of J-walk were walking at the front, talking to each other, while Sunghoon and Jaejin were behind them, silent. The dancer was peeping at the brown-haired man from the corner of his eyes. His heart was still beating very fast. The mood was perfect to start a conversation, but Jaejin felt so uncomfortable at this idea.

He doomed the other two men for not helping him with it, but he didn’t want to ask for help again: they had done enough for him. Thus, he remained silent until they found a pub fitting their tastes.

Jaejin sat next to Sunghoon and was the first to buy a round of alcohol drinks. He stayed quiet, listening to the conversation. He wasn’t much in the mood to talk and secretly enjoyed hearing what his ex-members were telling. He missed those moments they all spent together, talking while eating, playing games, resting or watching TV.

Hours went, and all members stopped counting glasses they had been drinking. Jaejin stopped drinking when he felt like he reached his limits. So did Jaeduc and Suwon. However, Sunghoon didn’t watch out his boundaries and ended up being drunk. After a few drinks, he was bursting into laughs for nothing, all smiling, and could barely talk without stammering. He wanted to get up but failed, as he couldn’t walk straight.

Jaejin helped him sitting down to his seat, worried. Jaeduc stared at the singer, raising an eyebrow:

– Well … I guess we’ll need to call a cab to drive him back.

– No, I don’t want to leave you! Sunghoon grumbled, pouting.

– We can bring him back by ourselves, though.

– Don’t be stupid, Suwon. We’ve been drinking too much to drive.

– Then, what should we do? Is it right to let him go home with that state, even by taxi?

He acts like a child.

– Jaejin hyung, keep me with you! Let me stay with you!

Sunghoon whined those words, clinging himself to the concerned man. Jaejin stared at him, shocked by the sudden needy behavior of the youngest. But he was so cute … He couldn’t resist to him. The singer was staring at him with sparkling puppy eyes, a sweet pout on his lips. Feeling more courage since he had drank, the dancer declared:

– Don’t bother yourself with him, guys. I will bring him back.

Jaeduc looked at him, doubtful:

– How ? You can’t drive. You’ve been drinking as much as we did.

– We’ll be okay. We’ll walk to my apartment. It’s the nearest place from here.

– But … What if something happens to you ?! Fans can see you, it’s not smart!

– Come on, they will be good, hyung! Suwon smirked. Jaejin hyung will be careful; you don’t have to worry.

Jaeduc looked at the maknae, who was still grinning. He didn’t seem to agree with Suwon, whose goal was only to help the dancer having a private moment with Sunghoon. After several seconds of silence, he sighed:

– Fine, fine. But be careful, for God’s sake, Jaejin …

– Don’t worry!

Jaejin got up and helped Sunghoon doing the same. The latter seemed too drunk to move. The oldest whispered to him:

– Cling onto me if you feel you can’t walk on your own.

Sunghoon nodded. He slowly pressed himself to the dancer and passed his arm around his neck. Jaejin attracted the youngest to him while leaving, and waved a short goodbye to his two friends.

Thus, both were outside. The night was dark, fresh. Nobody was outside at such a late hour. Jaejin was blushing, his hand resting on the singer’s waist. They were just the two of them from this moment.

Both were walking in the desert streets, silently. It was peaceful but very awkward at the same time for Jaejin. He didn’t know what to say but decided to break this silence, laughing:

– What an idea to drink if you can’t bear alcohol.

The singer remained speechless and was looking at the ground. Jaejin cursed himself for his words and felt like he made the situation even more awkward. However, he heard the youngest whispering:

– I’m happy … I’m so damn happy …

Sunghoon then looked at him with a weak but beautiful smile. Jaejin smiled back and muttered, slowly:

– I’m happy, too.

They kept walking for a minute until Sunghoon stopped himself, pouting, staring at the other man:

– I’m tired of walking …

– Seriously ? Jaejin asked, raising an eyebrow. We just left the pub.

– But I don’t feel my legs anymore!

– Gosh …

Jaejin sighed and leaned forward, showing his back to the brown-haired man.

– Get on my back. I will give you a piggyback ride.

Sunghoon nodded and got on his back, embracing the oldest’s neck with his arms. The latter winced. The young man was too heavy for him but considering the remaining distance to his apartment, Jaejin would bear his weight to please him. While he was walking, Sunghoon muttered to his ear:

– Somehow, Suwon is right …

– About what? The dancer asked, looking at him.

– You always do everything I want.

Jaejin felt his heart speeded up and looked at him, trying to remain confident:

– Why wouldn’t I? It’s been so long since we last saw, I want you to enjoy the time you’re spending with e. You’re far from bothering me …

Sunghoon smiled more when he heard that and nuzzled his face into the oldest’s neck, whispering:

– Still … I don’t know many people who are that kind.

Jaejin flushed and shivered when he felt the youngest’s hot breath against his cold skin. He quickly bit his lips. Why was he more loving than ever, now that they were just the two of them? Did he want the same thing as him? Jaejin didn’t know how to interpret those words and was thinking too much, way too much.

Both drank, maybe more than they should had and the dancer didn’t want to act dumb.

So he stopped talking, remaining silent and thoughtful.

Jaejin managed to carry the youngest until both reached the apartment and entered it.

He slowly guided Sunghoon towards the bedroom’s door.

– You will sleep there. You have the bedroom for yourself. If you need me, I will be in the living-room.

– Hyung?

– Yes?

– Can you sleep with me?

Jaejin turned around, looking at him with wide eyes. He thought that his most secret desires played with his mind and he wasn’t sure of what he heard.

– Wh-What ?

– Can you stay with me? I don’t want to sleep alone, tonight …

The dancer’s face turned red, and he could hear his heart beating loudly. Was it for real? It sounded crazy.

Jaejin was on the point to ask why he needed to be with him but, instead, he followed what he had always wanted.

– Of course, as you wish.

Sunghoon smiled to him, and both entered the bedroom. Jaejin sat on one side of his bed and undressed, a bit awkwardly. He didn’t dare glance at Sunghoon, who was sitting on the opposite side and seemed to strip too.

When Jaejin had removed the last of his clothes, he was in his black underwear. He was either sleeping with that type of apparel or entirely naked. When he dared turn his head towards Sunghoon, the latter was already under the sheets, turning his back to him, and seemed to be half-naked too. The oldest switched the light off and laid under the sheets, keeping himself away from the singer.

Both were in this bed. Alone. Quiet. Almost naked. The dancer’s breath was heavy.

Jaejin wanted to draw nearer to him. His entire body had been craving for a more intimate contact since he felt in love with him, but he was afraid to try any move without being sure of the other man’s consent. So, he just looked at the ceiling, biting his lips, excited and frustrated at the same time by the youngest’s presence in his bed.

He froze when he felt a presence getting closer to him.

– It’s like in the past …

– Huh ?

– I feel like a child, tonight. I haven’t slept with a friend for years.

– Oh …

– When a friend would sleep at my house, when I was young, we would tell stories

under the sheets, laugh, and try staying awake. It was such good memories.

– I see …

– Now, I’m an adult. I feel lonely. So damn lonely …

– Why are you saying that?

Jaejin turned and found himself facing the youngest, who was looking down, with sad eyes full of melancholy. It was the first time he was seeing him that way in private. Sunghoon said, sighing:

– We all grew up so fast. It was too short. I’ve never felt as alone as the moment I went solo. It was a dream coming true to sing by myself but … I felt abandoned.

– Really ?

– Yeah. I missed you all … I missed you, hyung. I should have come talking back to you earlier … But I didn’t want to disturb you.

He came even closer to Jaejin and sighed again. The latter blushed and declared:

– You would have never annoyed me, I swear.

– I know, now. Still, I feared that. You know, I feel like nobody cared for me during all this time, you were the first contacting me since the disband. Jiyong has been a ghost since that day, Suwon and Jaeduc seemed too busy to take news and Jiwon … Jiwon changed so much.

He closed his eyes for a second, before raising them towards the eldest’s surprised face. Jaejin didn’t expect that from him. Sunghoon never told him what could be his feelings, even when they were in Sechskies, it was the first time he could know what could be on his mind. Jaejin frowned a bit hearing Jiwon’s name. The singer seemed to need to talk about him but refrained himself because of his relationship.

Sunghoon continued, staring at Jaejin in the dark, with bright eyes full of emotions:

– But you … You are the same as before. I felt so happy when you called, a few time ago … I missed the others but … I felt like somebody was missing in my life when I left the dorm. Somebody protective, loving, that I had troubles to awake on mornings and who was always looking after me.

Jaejin felt his blood rushing to his head, as his eyes grew wider by surprise and emotion. Without thinking twice, he took Sunghoon in his arms and embraced him firmly.

– I’m here now. I will never leave you alone again. I will be by your side. I promise.

Jaejin suddenly froze when he noticed what he was doing. Sunghoon looked at him, sinking his dark eyes in the oldest’s stare:

– Jaejin …

The oldest was holding the singer’s body next to his and could feel it warming up by his contact. His skin was soft to the touch. Their faces were close, their lips being only a few inches apart. Sunghoon’s eyes were half-closed, and his cheeks seemed rosy in the dark.

Jaejin felt his heart beating in his chest loudly at this sight. This situation would only happen in his deepest dreams.

However, he couldn’t move his lips towards his. He felt like he was taking advantage of him, and hated this sensation. What would he think, next morning, when he wouldn’t be drunk anymore? Jaejin would rather die than losing the youngest man because of his selfish fantasies.

Sighing, the dancer attracted his head against his shoulder and whispered:

– Sleep, Sunghoon. Otherwise, you’ll be tired tomorrow.

To his surprise, the handsome man remained in his embrace, nuzzling his face into his neck. After a short minute of silence, he laughed and muttered:

– You are sweet … If I were a girl, I would date you on the spot, haha.

Jaejin blushed at the compliment.

– Ah ? Erm … Well … Thanks …

– You’re a hot guy, with protective arms, sexy shoulders, caring and tender stare … ‘must be good to be your girlfriend.

– … M-Maybe …

– You might be a sex god, too.

– Wh … What ?!

Jaejin slightly jumped at this sentence, looking at him in awe, while Sunghoon began giggling, blushing, inside his arms. The dancer rolled his eyes, sighing, holding him close. He wanted him so bad but was certain the singer didn’t think a single word of what he was saying. He was drunk, after all.

– You’re such a child.

– I know~. You’re so easy to bother.

– You better stop bothering me if you don’t want to end up on the floor.

– Noooo, keep me in your arms … I feel good in them.

– So, sleep, kiddo.

Both stopped moving. Jaejin sighed again. He knew he had wasted a golden opportunity. Suwon would kill him after talking about it, but he didn’t want to act without the youngest’s consent. Sunghoon’s voice rose in the silence:

– Hyung ?

– What ?

– You’re thinking it for real when you say you’ll never leave me alone?

– Of course, why would I lie to you?

The singer remained speechless for some seconds before he whispered, smiling:

– From tomorrow, I want you to spend more time with me. You better keep your promise.

– I will, Sunghoon, I promise.

– So I can sleep in peace, then.

The youngest rose his face to kiss Jaejin’s cheek with gentleness. The latter blushed, while Sunghoon muttered, nuzzling his face in the dancer’s neck.

– Sweet dreams.

Jaejin stayed still because of his action, biting his lips to refrain himself to do things he would regret afterward. He slowly placed his hand in the singer’s hair, caressing it slowly.

– Good night, Sunghoon …

Soon, the latter started sleeping in his arms, breathing against the oldest’s neck. Jaejin couldn’t find the courage to do the same and spent his night caressing the youngest’s hair, neck, and shoulder until he fell asleep.

It was that night Jaejin had felt something changed between them. Their bond was strong. His love for Sunghoon became even more powerful … and harder to hide.

Timeless, chapter 6.

Winter 2004,

I’ve come to love you
And risked everything,
Trying to protect you.

Sunghoon had been particularly excited on that snowy night.

It was the first time for months that he was going to hang out, with Jaejin, Jaeduc, and Suwon. He barely had time to go out and meet his friends when he was promoting his last album. For the occasion, all of them decided to go to some very chic night club so they wouldn’t get stalked while they were together.

The singer has been preparing all the day for this moment. He did some shopping in Gangnam to buy new clothes and spend hours taking care of himself and fixing his brown locks.

When he was ready, he looked at his reflection in the bathroom’s mirror and sighed with satisfaction.

His complexion was perfectly unified. His hair had found back its softness and silky appearance. He was wearing pearl white clothes that made him looking like an angel.

He smiled brightly. He was good-looking. It’s been months he didn’t feel that way. He had got so many activities that he almost forgot to take care of himself.

Moreover, there were not many people to tell him how handsome he could be.

Not even the one he loved …

A door knocking took Sunghoon out of his thoughts. He checked his clock. It was time, already.

– I’m coming!

He went to the corridor and opened the entrance door. Suwon appeared in front of him, wearing classy black clothes, smiling.

– Hello !

– Hey ! Woah, you’re fancy!

– Haha, you are, too! White still suits you well.

– True. No wonder you were Sechskies’ angel, Jaeduc declared.

The dancer was by the youngest’s side, a joyful expression on his face, wearing a comfortable attire for partying, his eyes hidden behind long black locks. Sunghoon giggled at the compliment, and he hugged both as a greeting.

– Come inside, make yourselves at home.

They entered the apartment, allowing Sunghoon’s eyes to perceive what was behind them. His stare sparkled with joy when he noticed Jaejin’s presence.

He couldn’t remember the last time they saw one another, maybe a few months ago.

Sunghoon smiled when he saw the care he gave to his appearance for this night.

His reddish hair, which he kept from his Go Back era, were a mess on his head.

However, the clothes he chose were simplistic and classy for partying, and he didn’t hide his body behind those sports clothes he loved so much.

A simple white t-shirt and dark blue jeans. The singer always thought Jaejin was handsome. He had soft features, a beautiful look, a bright smile … He could easily have been the group’s visual back then, in Sechskies. However, he always ruined his beauty by doing some weird hairstyles or wearing clothes that didn’t suit them. It was a desolation for Sunghoon, who always paid a lot of attention to those kinds of details.

However, on this night, Lee Jaejin was attractive, just by wearing the merest things.

Both hadn’t seen one another for one or two months. Sunghoon couldn’t help but run into his embrace.

– Hyung !

– Hey …

– I missed you!

– Me too. You’re very handsome, tonight. You look like an angel …

– Thank you …

Sunghoon raised his face to meet the other man’s eyes, which were as kind and tender as usual.

He didn’t change, even after all those years. Sunghoon appreciated how sweet Jaejin was with him, without waiting for anything in return. Both grew to be close since the day the singer spent the night at his place after drinking too much. He wondered how the oldest could be so adorable and patient with him.

Whenever he needed, Jaejin was here, accompanying him doing shopping, drinking coffee, to the cinema, or simply by staying by his side …

Somehow, Sunghoon always wondered how Jaejin was treating someone on a date or in his private life.

That made him curious. Jaejin had many qualities. He was protective, caring, talented, handsome, funny.

He was sometimes awkward in his way of being but that made him even more attractive. He was a shy, cute, charming prince.

The person he would love would be happy.

Contrary to him, Kang Sunghoon, whose lover was barely caring for him …

He gradually lost his smile at this thought. Jaejin frowned and asked:

– Something’s wrong, Sunghoon?

The latter suddenly felt awkward when he met the oldest’s anxious eyes. He quickly gained his smile back, giving a reassuring expression.

– No, hyung. Everything’s alright.

At this answer, Jaejin’s stare became less intense. Sunghoon kept smiling and guided him towards the living-room, which Jaeduc and Suwon were observing. It was the first time the two members were coming.

Jaejin already got the occasion to come to his place.

They all sat around a large low table and started chatting happily. Sunghoon quickly brought the drinks.

They kept staying like this, drinking, talking, until the nightclub they were supposed to go opened, around midnight.

At that hour, they decided to leave the apartment and walk in the streets, towards a busy area of the town.

They kept speaking cheerfully, excited for the night they were about to spend together.

The atmosphere would be peaceful, as the place they chose was very selective so hardly frequented by fans.

After a quarter of an hour of walk, they arrived and entered easily in the nightclub.

They all sat at the bar counter, asking for drinks, but Jaeduc and Suwon quickly got up.

– I’ll dance a bit before drinking, the oldest of them declared.

– The same. I think I’m going to be back soon, Suwon added.

– Okay.

– Do whatever you want, Jaejin said, shrugging, his hand grasping his glass.

Both smiled at them one last time and disappeared into the moving crowd, leaving the other men alone, again. Sunghoon stared at Jaejin, surprised to see him by his side.

– Don’t you want to dance?

– Not for the moment. There are too many people.

He took a sip of his drink, calmly, looking in front of him. Sunghoon smiled and said, with a teasing voice:

– You should. You could hook up.

Jaejin almost choked while drinking when he heard those words. He turned his look towards the youngest, with an amused face, raising an eyebrow.

– Why don’t you go, then? He asked, laughing.

Sunghoon froze. He didn’t expect the oldest to answer that way. His beautiful eyes got lost on the counter for some seconds.

Of course, he could go on the dancefloor, and he could get every girl he wanted just by a mere wink. But he was tired of playing the playboy just to protect his reputation.

He only wanted to love and be loved. He was loving, he had someone who loved him, but this person didn’t seem to care anymore.

He tried hard keeping smiling. He was aware that Jaejin was observing his reactions, so he tried hard hiding his inner pain. That man could read him like a book. He stared back at the dancer, smiling.

– I don’t want to. I’m all right, being here. I’m not in the mood for that.

– Haha, the spirit will come through alcohol.

– Maybe hyung.

He stayed like this, drinking his glass, either speaking with the oldest or just remaining silent. After some minutes of conversation, Jaejin got up:

– I’ll be back. I’m going to the restroom.

Sunghoon nodded and looked back at the crowd while sipping his alcohol. His stare crossed the entire room. He tried looking for Jaeduc and Suwon but couldn’t find them among the different people who were dancing, drinking, speaking or kissing. He wondered for a short time what they could do.

His look came to the entry of the nightclub and fell on a couple coming towards the dancefloor. A young lady was holding the arm of a man next to her while looking at him with bright eyes. The singer contemplated her for a long minute. Her make-up lightened her beautiful face. She was wearing a short black dress which enhanced her curved legs. Sunghoon couldn’t deny how attractive she looked.

Then, he decided to look at the guy by her side. His face became , and his eyes grew wider when he could clearly perceive the man features.

– Ji … Jiwon …

His voice was trembling, so was his body.

Yes, his boyfriend was pressed to that woman. Sunghoon looked at his drink for a split second and looked back at Jiwon. He hoped alcohol played with his mind, but that wasn’t the case. What he just saw was the reality. What he meant to his lover.

His hand, holding the glass, was shaking with anger and despair.

He observed them sitting at a table near a corner, with teary eyes. Both didn’t notice him, distinctly looking at them at the bar counter. They were talking, smiling, laughing …

They were just having a casual conversation that Sunghoon didn’t get to experience in his couple for years.

And the worst happened.

Both sealed their lips in a passionate kiss. Seeing that, Sunghoon let his glass roll on the counter, spilling the remaining alcohol on it. He turned the head and took his face between his hands, letting tears rolling on his cheeks, biting his lips to prevent sobs.

Why? Why had everything changed since their disband? From the moment they both began their solo activities, it wasn’t the same anymore. Jiwon became distant, selfish, less considerate … and he started cheating on him.

It wasn’t the first time he was cheated on. But promises, his love for him … He always forgave him because of that. They were in a vicious circle which destroyed them.

Their years of love … In Hawaii … During their Sechskies activity …

Nothing of that seemed to remain.

He got up, crying, hiding his face. He needed to calm down. This time, he would be facing him for the pain he did. They would talk, calmly, without that girl. And they would find a solution.

He ran up towards the restroom, forgetting his friends, his body torn by an unbearable pain.

The person who should be next to you …

A minute later, Jaejin was back at the counter and was surprised to see Sunghoon wasn’t there anymore.

He frowned for some seconds, before gaining a normal expression back. He deduced he either went to the restroom or on the dancefloor.

He was about to get up and rejoin the crowd when his look got caught by the sight of Jiwon and that woman, still kissing. Jaejin’s eyes grew wider by this sight. He slowly muttered, clenching his fists:

– That bastard.

Without thinking twice, he went towards the couple, at a fast pace. When he drew nearer them, Jiwon, who was now talking to the young woman, looked at him with a surprised look. Jaejin felt a twinge of unease inside his ex-leader’s eyes: the latter didn’t seem glad to see him.

– Jaejin ? What a surprise! I didn’t expect you to be here. What are you doing here? He asked, with an awkward smile.

– Come with me, we got to talk. Just the two of us.

He glanced at the woman, giving her a contemptuous look. Jiwon looked at her and gave her a reassuring smile.

– I’ll be back in some minutes.

She only nodded. Then, Jiwon got up and followed Jaejin, who was going to the exit, with eyes full of anger.

He guided him to the parking. It was desert, and the weather was cold, because of the snow falling from the sky. Jiwon stared at him, with a questioning expression.

– What do you want? If you wanted to talk, we should have stayed inside. I’m freezing !

– I don’t care. What the hell are you doing with that bitch?

Jiwon’s eyes grew wider with astonishment. He raised an eyebrow.

– Ex … Excuse me?

– What is this whore doing with you? Did you think about Sunghoon ?!

– What the hell are you talking about?

– Don’t act like a damn fool, We ALL know about your relationship so stop about that and tell me what you’re fucking doing!

Jaejin’s face was turning red with anger. However, Jiwon, who was a bit taken aback by the situation, tried to remain calm. He knew he acted wrong with his boyfriend.

– We have difficult times as a couple, Jaejin. But just mind your own business, we’ll deal with it as soon as I see him.

– Mind my own business? Sunghoon could have seen you with that chick. He’s here, tonight! I’m sure you wouldn’t have faced him if I didn’t see you cheating on him! You don’t give a damn about him! You don’t deserve him!

Jiwon’s face tensed up as Jaejin’s words resonated in his head. He sighed with irritation.

– I care about him. You don’t know a single thing about what’s going on between us. So,  please, just shut e fuck up and mind your stuff.

– I won’t!

– Goddamit … Why are you caring so much about him, for fuck’s sake ? Find a girlfriend and just leave us alone.

– Because …

Jaejin stared at him, with clenched fists and almost screamed, letting his anger speak for what he always felt.

– Because I love him!

Jiwon’s eyes grew wider at this revelation. Slowly, he began chuckling with awkwardness, which made

Jaejin’s stare even more darkened with hatred. The rapper couldn’t buy it.

– You ? Loving him? It’s a joke, isn’t it?

– Do I look like I’m joking?

When he understood the youngest man was honest, Jiwon smirked and looked at him with disbelief and amusement.

– Are you seriously thinking Sunghoon loves you? He’s not, and he will never get feelings for someone like you.

– I don’t mind if it’s one-sided. I love him, since day one, and I will forever do. I want to do what you can’t do: cherishing him and protect him.

Jiwon felt queasy for some seconds. He wondered how he didn’t notice that before. The rapper never paid attention to his behavior while they were in Sechskies, he was too different from him so he didn’t try understanding his actions or feelings.

The dancer was staring at him with dark eyes. Annoyed, Jiwon’s expression got back to normal, and he only said, calmly.

– Even as a friend, he doesn’t give a single fuck about you.

At this sentence, Jaejin’s blood boiled. He jumped on Jiwon, making him fall on the cold concrete ground and hit him right in the face. Taken aback by the dancer’s violent reaction, he answered with a fist on the chin, trying to push him, but the dancer was too strong.

Jaejin couldn’t stop hitting. He was blind by violence and wanted to make him pay for what he did to the man he loved. Jiwon’s capacity to avoid his fists and to fight back made his fury escalated quickly.

He was about to punch him one more time when he felt one person grasping him and holding him apart of the other man.

– Guys, stop!

– Damn, Jaejin, what the fuck are you doing?!

Jaeduc was grabbing him tight, preventing him from fighting again. Jaejin’s face was full of bruises and blood was dripping from his bottom lip. Jiwon, who was held by Suwon, remained silent for some seconds, before chuckling with disdain:

– Do you think he gives a damn about you? We’ve been together for years. He didn’t seem to care about you and will never care. He just has pity for you.

At this sentence, which purpose was only to provoke him, Jaejin escaped from Jaeduc’s arms and punched Jiwon on the nose, which began bleeding after that. The man let a scream went, because of pain.

– That son of a bitch!

– Hyung, stop that! Suwon ordered, stepping back.

Jaeduc was trying to grasp Jaejin again. The latter was about to give another punch but got stop by a man, who screamed, between cries:

– NO !

He made one step behind and looked at the man. Sunghoon ran towards him and grabbed him, crying, with his reddened eyes.

– Jaejin hyung … Stop that … I beg you … Stop …

– Sunghoon, he hurt you. I can’t forgive that. He has cheated on you.

– We will talk about it … We’ll deal with it.

– But Sunghoon …

– Can you just shut up for a moment and let me talk ?!

The youngest looked at him with eyes full of anger and despair. Jaejin got silent, shocked by the singer’s words. Sighing, Sunghoon muttered, holding him tight:

– I’m sorry … I didn’t want to talk to you like that …

– No … I’m fine … I’m the one who’s supposed to be sorry …

– We … We will be fine, hyung … I promise … We needed to talk, anyway … I swear we will be okay …

Please … Stop … Let him go …

He stared at him with teary eyes. Hesitant, he glanced at Jiwon with suspicion and only sighed.

– Fine …

At this answer, Sunghoon let Jaejin and went towards Jiwon. Suwon slowly let Jiwon go.

The couple stared at each other. Jiwon’s stare softened when he saw the sadness and worry inside his boyfriend’s look. The singer bit his lips when he noticed how many bruises he could see on his lover’s face.

Blood was also dropping from his mouth and his nose. He whispered:

– Are you alright?

– It hurts a bit …

– I’ll take you to the emergency, just to be sure you have nothing broken …

– Mh …

– You should tell her, too … That you’ll leave … I’ll wait outside …

– Mh … I’ll do it …

– Let’s go …

Jiwon left first, without looking at the other men, holding his face with one hand. Sunghoon followed him but turned back towards Jaejin, muttering:

– I had never thought you would …

– What ?

Jaejin raised an eyebrow. Sunghoon stared at him, with eyes full of sadness. Then, he sighed, lowering his gaze.

– No … Nothing …

Jaejin looked at him going away, with worry. He looked at his two friends, without knowing what to do or what to think now. Slowly, Jaeduc came towards him, getting a tissue out of his pocket. When he was close enough, he gently wiped away the blood escaping from his lips.

– Are you fine, Jaejin?

– Mh …

Jaeduc looked at Suwon, unsure of what to say. After few seconds of hesitation, he declared:

– He … heard you …

Jaejin stared at his friend.

– What ?

Jaeduc remained silent, looking at the ground. Suwon answered instead of him:

– We … We all arrived outside when you were talking to Jiwon about your feelings for Sunghoon …

At this announcement, Jaejin’s face suddenly paled. Suwon kept going:

– Sunghoon … heard everything.

– It … It can’t be … It’s untrue …

– It’s not, hyung. He heard you and remained shocked for several seconds. He didn’t even move when you both fought.

Jaejin froze. He lowered his face and bit his lips, tears coming to his eyes. Jaeduc sighed and gently rubbed his back.

– I’m sure it’s not the way you wanted him to know … But at least, he’s aware of your feelings. You freed yourself from a heavy burden …

– But … I’m sure he’s mad at me and won’t talk to me anymore …

– Try calling him in a few days. I’m sure you, guys, can deal with it.

Jaejin sighed. The three men decided to go back home after the events. That moment had been tiring for everybody.

The dancer waited several days before attempting to contact Sunghoon. He was afraid and anxious. He was sure the youngest was angry after everything happened.

He tried calling him, after days of hesitation. Once. No answer.

He tried the next day. Nothing again. The phone was ringing until the answering machine came.

He texted him. Once. Twice. After a few days of waiting, he texted, with teary eyes :

Sunghoon ...
What are you doing? You're not answering my calls or even my messages ...
I miss you …
Remember I will always be here for you, if you need …
Take care of you, please …

And no answers came, again.

His vision of future, which was so bright by Sunghoon’s side, became dark again, just like a few years before, after the disband.

Loneliness came back again in Jaejin’s life, and so did the melancholy and sadness.

Just because of his fault.

… is me …

Timeless, chapter 7.

Winter 2005,

The end of the year was close. Big snowflakes were falling on Seoul and covered the buildings with a thick white coat, which contrasted with the black starry sky of the night.

Jaejin was staring at this beautiful scenery by his bedroom’s window, drinking a beer.

He hadn’t gone out, on this cold day. The dancer has been busy drawing. It had become one of his hobbies since he took a break after the release of his third album.

Jaejin always loved designing. As he had time on that winter, he spent it creating portrays or landscapes for his artsy friends or his personal pleasure. Doing that had a significant therapeutical effect on him: even thought it was a time-consuming activity, it was the only way he had to prevent dark thoughts from coming into his mind.

However, he couldn’t hold them all. It was impossible for him to flee his life at that precise moment, and everything he secretly feared would catch him in his deepest dreams or nightmares.

Jaejin was staring at the snow, sipping at his drink. Winter was a beautiful season. He always enjoyed it.

Looking at the snow gave him some nostalgic vibes, and he had this impression that life was wonderful when he was staring at such a magnificent view.

However, life wasn’t that happy, in reality. His was dull, complicated. Jaejin sometimes wondered what was the real purpose of his life and why he couldn’t find happiness like many people he knew.

His daily life had been painful for some months, and he had nobody to share what he could feel. The dancer couldn’t kneel on his acquaintances. He managed to get tons of friends because of his artsy activities, but they weren’t much concerned about him: they only cared for his past as a Sechskies member and his talent for drawing. His only faithful friends, Jaeduc and Suwon, rarely contacted him and hadn’t the time to meet him.

Jaejin couldn’t fall in love. All the girls he had met didn’t interest him. They were average. Even though they were pretty enough to fit everybody’s taste, he couldn’t be satisfied by them.

In fact, the only one he cared for was still haunting him like crazy. Yes. One year passed, and Sunghoon was still on his mind. Even though he tried forgetting him, the singer would haunt him in his sleep. Thus, replacing him was useless: he had loved him for so long, how could he find someone better than him?

Questions had sometimes come to his mind. What was he doing? Was he still mad at him? Was Jiwon taking good care of him? And, the most important for him: was he happy?

Jaejin smiled weakly at the thought of the man he loved. Sunghoon wasn’t talking to him anymore, but the dancer didn’t hate him for that. He could understand it. Moreover, what mattered the most to him was the youngest’s happiness, more than his own.

Jaejin could only find a meaning of his life in his love for him. If living meant loving him and suffering until his dying day, he would endure it, just like he had done since the first moment their eyes met.

The ringtone of his phone suddenly took him out of his thoughts. One of his acquaintances messaged him, asking if he wanted to hang out in downtown Seoul.

Jaejin sighed and looked at his dark coat on the hanger. He wasn’t in the mood for that, but it would be a good way to empty his mind for, at least, one night. Not really convinced by the idea, he texted back, saying he was okay and that they could share a moment at his place before going out. Instantly, he got a reply: his friend would only arrive in an hour.

Thus, Jaejin took the time to polish his drawings, to take a shower and to choose proper clothing for this night. He tried to fix as good as he could his messy brown hair, even though he was bad at styling it.

When he had been ready, he went to the living-room and cleaned it for his friend’s arrival. He brought back beers and a few bottles of soju from his kitchen and put them on the low-table, as he used to drink a lot when people were around.

The entry phone started ringing. Jaejin got up and pushed the button to open the building’s entrance. He quickly checked the hour: it was earlier than expected. Maybe too early. That wasn’t bothering him, though.

He stayed by the door’s entrance, waiting. A minute after, he could hear a soft knocking at his door. He opened it, all smiling:

– Hey! How are …

His words got suddenly stuck in his throat when he got to see the person in front of him.

It wasn’t the one he was expecting. He froze because of shock, as his expression turned serious.

Kang Sunghoon was facing him. Jaejin wouldn’t have recognized him if he hadn’t loved him for so long.

His black hair had been cut short, and he hid his body behind a large black coat, that was too gloomy for his bright personality. His cheeks, rosy from the cold weather, were chubbier than the past and his dark eyes that used to be sparkling with happiness got drained of their radiance. However, he was still the same to him: the dancer couldn’t help but find him beautiful.

Jaejin felt his heart stopping for a few seconds. He barely muttered, with wide eyes:

– Sung … Sunghoon … What are …

The oldest couldn’t finish his sentence, as his eyes got lost into his. Sunghoon looked uncomfortable. With a quiet voice and a fainted smile, he said:

– Hi, hyung … It’s been so long … Sorry for coming without warning …

Jaejin was confused. He didn’t even know how to react at this precise moment. The only thing he wanted was to embrace him because he had craved for a moment like this for one year. However, he remained still and silent, afraid of showing his feelings. This reaction made Sunghoon queasy. He started looking away, without moving too.

As the mood began to be too awkward for both of them, Jaejin decided to break the ice and declared:

– No, no, that’s fine, Sunghoon, I swear! Come, come.

– Are you sure? You might have other things that are planned out …

– No, don’t worry! Come.

A bit hesitant, the singer entered the apartment, followed by Jaejin. The latter was nervous. A lot of things happened in a few seconds. It was sudden, way too sudden for him.

Jaejin stared at Sunghoon, as the latter took his coat off. The dancer noticed he took some fat. It wasn’t shocking, and somehow, it made him even cuter. The youngest looked at living-room’s low-table packed with alcohols and raised an eyebrow.

– Weren’t you expecting somebody else? If you’re waiting for another person, I won’t stay long…

– No, no! Have a seat, Sunghoon. We’ve time.

Jaejin perfectly knew that his friend could come in a couple of minutes, but he couldn’t care less at that precise moment. Sunghoon was the one who mattered the most to him.

The oldest asked:

– Do you want something to drink?

Sunghoon sat on the couch and answered, looking at him:

– Just water, please.

Jaejin nodded and went to the kitchen, to take a glass of water for him. He sat by the youngest’s side on the couch while giving him the glass. Sunghoon smiled:

– Thank you …

The dancer looked at him and only smiled back. He opened a beer can and took a sip of it. Silence filled the entire room for a few seconds. This quietness, which had used to be so tranquil and almost serene, felt tense and awkward at this precise moment.

Sunghoon would always break it before, but on this night, he seemed too nervous and uncomfortable to do it. Even though he didn’t feel at ease either, Jaejin asked:

– What’s up? It’s been quite a time already.

Sunghoon, hearing the oldest’s voice, looked at him and answered:

– Well … I was drinking at a bar near your place … So I told myself it would be a good idea to see you, as we haven’t seen one another for a very long moment.

– Oh … I see. Did you hang out with friends?

– No. I was alone … The singer answered, laughing nervously.

At this reply, Jaejin raised an eyebrow. Sunghoon wasn’t the type to hang out without somebody, even less to drink alone. Seeing his suspicious eyes, the youngest became even more uncomfortable and started looking at the low-table. Jaejin asked, with a concerned tone:

– Alone? Why are you drinking by yourself? You should have messaged me; it’s not a

good thing to do …

– I … I don’t know … I was … Afraid of bothering you …

– You perfectly know you will never bother me.

– I … You know … It’s complicated.

Sunghoon sighed, taking a large sip of water. He remained silent for a long moment, thoughtful, looking for his words. Jaejin kept staring at him. Even though seeing him made him happy, he felt uncomfortable with this sudden change of behavior. The singer was his sunshine. He was bright, joyful, always smiling …

Meeting his awkward and serious side was so particular to him. It wasn’t as pleasing to see, but he felt like he discovered another face of the man he loved. A part of his personality that only a few people could see.

Sunghoon took a deep breath and declared, with a composed voice:

– I broke up with Jiwon.

Jaejin blinked for a few seconds. It was a surprising piece of news to him.

– Ah?

– Hm … He … “did it again,” I would say.

At this announcement, Jaejin clenched his fists. He could clearly understand why Sunghoon’s eyes seemed so dull at this moment. However, even though the dancer wanted to scream his hate for Jiwon, he didn’t say a word. He knew how much Sunghoon loved him, their couple lasted for years, nothing could break them apart.

Bittersweet, Jaejin declared, with a comforting smile:

– Oh … But you, guys, will overcome it, right? You’ve loved each other for such a long time …

Sunghoon stared at Jaejin with surprise when he heard those words. Then, he lowered his glance towards his glass, sighing:

– Hyung … I … forgave him way too much. This time, we are over.

Jaejin frowned at this answer and remained silent. A bit embarrassed, Sunghoon kept speaking:

– You know … Loving Jiwon wasn’t easy, back then. We were forced to hide our relationship and, as you could have seen, he was sometimes arrogant. However … we were happy, together, even if the company treated us badly. We both enjoyed each moment as if it was the last time we saw one another. Our love was passionate. Jiwon was kind and caring with me. He was a loving boyfriend. Without his love, I wouldn’t have handled all those years under DSP’s management.

Sunghoon had a nostalgic smile while saying those words. However, it had gradually got erased from his face as he stopped talking, sinking into his memories. The dancer stared at him attentively, without saying a word. Sunghoon sighed after a few seconds of silence and put his glass on the lowtable.

He said:

– But our solo activities … Destroyed our relationship. Jiwon took his career as a rapper seriously. He had no time for me anymore. He worked more, came less at my place, and we barely had a conversation. So we quarreled … and he soon started cheating on me. I had wanted to dump him but … I just couldn’t. I couldn’t stop loving him. He was my first love. I would have forgiven everything he did just because I loved him.

Sunghoon took a break in his monolog, taking a short breath. Then, he looked at Jaejin:

– But you came back in my life … You opened my eyes. I wish you wouldn’t have fought with him but … I felt relieved having someone protecting me. I would like to thank you for that.

– It’s normal, you know. Everyone would have done the …

– No, Sunghoon cut, lowering his eyes. Nobody would have done the same for me. Your kindness is beyond everything. I don’t deserve it. I’m … an idiot.

– You’re not …

– I am … When we came back home, that night, with Jiwon … He … He told me that if I wanted to save our relationship, I should never answer back your calls or your texts, that you were dangerous for both of us. And I … I believed him. I’m so damn stupid. Hyung … I’m such an awful person … I’m so sorry … His eyes began to be filled up with tears. He took a huge breath, trying to remain composed. Jaejin looked at him with care and said, with a reassuring tone:

– Sunghoon … You’re not. You’re awesome. You did what you thought was the best.

– But I did wrong ! I ignored you. I swear I’ve never wanted such a thing to happen … He manipulated me. I’ve lost you because I loved him and at the end, he didn’t even try to make our relationship better.

Sunghoon sighed and looked at his thighs, one tear rolling down his cheek. Jaejin slowly wiped it off with his hand, as he didn’t like to see the youngest’s tears. Silence filled the room again. Sunghoon’s sad eyes met his, and both stared at one another.

Jaejin reddened at his own action and started looking away, feeling nervous. Sunghoon kept observing him and asked, calmly:

– Tell me … Is it true what you said to Jiwon, on that night?

Jaejin blushed hard at this question. He knew what Sunghoon wanted to talk about, but it was something he feared above everything. He was so scared of his reaction. He answered, nervously:

– I … I don’t see what you’re talking about.

– Don’t act, hyung … Please. Be honest, the youngest sighed.

The dancer bit his lips. He looked at his thighs and declared, slowly:

– Yes. It’s all true.

Sunghoon smiled when he heard these words. Jaejin didn’t get the courage to raise his eyes and kept looking down. However, the more he was saying, the more he had the impression that the youngest was getting closer to him.

The singer laughed a bit:

– You know … That … That was kind of unexpected to me. I didn’t know you loved me for such a long time.

You’ve always been nice to me … But I never thought you would have feelings for someone like me … I thought you were into girls.

Jaejin remained silent, his eyes hidden behind his hair. Sunghoon continued:

– Knowing that … came as a shock to me. I couldn’t think straight after that. You …You

Sunghoon blushed and couldn’t finish his sentence, his bright eyes looking at the lowtable.

Jaejin stared at him, with surprise. It was the first time the youngest was being shy with him. He remained silent, as he wasn’t sure if it was the product of his imagination or if he was still daydreaming.

The youngest took a short breath and said, calmly:

– I think … It was one of the reasons for which Jiwon considered you were dangerous.

He acted like he didn’t care, but I’m sure he acknowledged your qualities. He didn’t want me to run to you after that. However … He failed.

– What … What do you mean?

Sunghoon reddened even more and slowly bit his lips, smirking:

– Don’t you understand?

Jaejin’s eyes grew wide at this sentence, as he froze with shock. Looking at him right in the eyes, Sunghoon slowly took the oldest’s hand in his own. As a thunderbolt hitting him, the dancer felt like his senses brought him back to reality. It was real. It was happening. Sunghoon’s warm hand was holding his, which was cold. Jaejin stared at him, with bright eyes that he never experienced to show to anybody.

Caressing his hand, Sunghoon muttered:

– Hyung … I just have one last question …

Jaejin gulped and whispered, feeling his heart on the verge to explode.

– Tell me …

Sunghoon asked, slowly:

– Do you still love me?

These words started resonating into the dancer’s brain. Jaejin sunk his stare into his and held his hand tight. With a loving smile, and tender eyes, he answered, with all his heart:

– Yes.

It seemed that time had stopped around them when he replied. Sunghoon’s smile grew with happiness.

Jaejin closed his eyes, biting his lips, blushing. He suddenly opened them when he felt Sunghoon’s arms circling his waist and his body pressing against his. The dancer remained still with shock, while the singer nuzzled his face into his neck. He soon felt the youngest’s hot breath on his skin, making him shiver:

– I … I don’t want to let you go … Stay with me … Show … Show me what’s true love …

– Sunghoon …

Both looked at each other. Jaejin’s eyes were exploding with brightness. He slowly moved his hands on the young man’s body. He started caressing his back, then went to his neck. Without thinking, and looking at the singer’s raised face, he slowly cupped it with his hands, devouring him with a stare full of love.

Sunghoon blushed, as their faces were only inches apart. As both closed their eyes, Jaejin slowly sealed their lips in a tender kiss.

The dancer was in Heaven. Everything he could have dreamed of in his entire life couldn’t surpass the sensation he was experimenting. Sunghoon’s lips were worth his years of tortuous waiting: they were soft and melted perfectly against his own. Jaejin kissed them for a long minute, slowly moving his lips against his, trembling with happiness. He felt tears of joy coming from the corner of his eyes. This was beyond beautiful, beyond magic, beyond holy. As he kept kissing him, he let his hands going down and held him tight in his arms, while a tear rolled down his cheeks.

When they both moved away, they looked at each other with half-closed eyes. Both were blushing. Jaejin smiled and hold him back against him, a hand resting on his shoulder while the other was caressing his cheek.

He slowly muttered those words he had always craved to say for years:

– I love you, Kang Sunghoon …

He looked at him with sincerity. Sunghoon blushed, speechless. Overwhelmed with passion, Jaejin pecked his lips him several times, whispering softly:

– I love you … I love you … I love you to death. Nobody can love you more than I do. I will never hurt you. I promise you.

– H … Hyung …

Sunghoon was about to answer back, but the ringing of the entry phone burst the bubble into which both men locked themselves. It brought Jaejin back to reality. He grumbled, rolling his eyes:

– Goddamit …

– Is it the person you were expecting?

– I would say so … It’s just an acquaintance who wanted to go out tonight. He was supposed to come at my place before we go.

– I should go, then. So you can hang out with your friend, Sunghoon said, while getting up.

– No.

Jaejin held the young man back, making him sit next to him again. He looked at him with tenderness and caressed his cheek, smiling.

– Let’s not care about that. I won’t go.

– But hyung … He made the whole trip to see you …

– I don’t care, Jaejin cut, whispering. You’re by my side tonight, and I’ve longed for you for such a long time … I won’t let you go.

The dancer sunk his sparkling eyes into the dark stare of the other man, as the entry phone kept ringing.

Sunghoon bit his lips and laughed:

– I feel sorry for your friend … I stole you from him …

Jaejin smirked at this statement and faced the youngest, cupping his face with his hands again. Sunghoon blushed at his action, slightly opening his plump lips and halfclosing his bright eyes. Staring at the man he loved, the dancer whispered with a husky voice:

– You’ve never stolen me from anybody. I’ve always belonged to you, my love.

Jaejin finished his sentence by melting on his lips again. The oldest was addicted to the softness, the lovely shape of his mouth and he couldn’t help but feel eager to explore more of his lover’s body. Listening to his inner desire, he let his hands coming down to stroke the singer’s back, while he deepened the kiss, closing his eyes. He slowly licked Sunghoon’s lower lip to gain quick access to his mouth. The youngest allowed their tongues to meet and dance together in slow, sensual, almost erotic moves. The dancer blushed, holding the good-looking man tight against him. He felt his whole body shaking with lust for him. The ringing of his entry phone got followed by the one of his cellphone. However, Jaejin couldn’t care less of the noise anymore: he lost himself in his desire for Sunghoon. The latter slowly broke the kiss and whispered, with a trembling voice:

– I want you …

His cheeks were pink, and his face clearly expressed how eager he was for the other man’s body. Jaejin slightly bit his inner lip at this view, trying to remain calm so he wouldn’t end up jumping on the singer and ripping his clothes. After a few seconds he spent regaining his calm, he smiled and said, caressing his cheeks:

– We have time, you know … I don’t want to do anything without your consent.

– You have it … I’m all yours. Show me the way you like me … Jaejin …

The dancer’s smile grew as the youngest dropped all the formalities with him. He pecked him on the lips and got up, offering him his hand with a loving stare. Sunghoon took his hand and let the oldest escorting him to his bedroom. When they had entered into it, darkness invaded the room. The only source of light they had came from the windows, as the black sky was lightening the city thanks to a bright full moon and shining stars.

Jaejin sat on the bed and encouraged his lover to do the same. As soon as Sunghoon had sat on the edge, the oldest embraced him and started kissing him once again, caressing his nape. Then, his lips went down inside his neck, to suck and nibble the skin. The singer tilted his head back when he felt the warm lips of the oldest man on that hot spot of his body and sighed with pleasure.

Jaejin slowly lay the young man on the bed. He went on top of him and kept kissing his skin, his teeth sometimes playing with his sensitive earlobes. His shaking right-hand traveled under his sweatshirt to caress the soft skin of his belly, as he tried his best to keep his calm. But it was tough. The simple vision of the expression of delight on Sunghoon’s face, staring at him with sensuality, excited him terribly and made him feel tight in his pants.

The singer, who hadn’t moved since Jaejin had him laid down, sneaked his hands under the oldest’s shirt, stroking his cold skin. The dancer shivered at this touch and took off his shirt so that he could feel it more.

Sunghoon bit his lips at the sight of the defined lines of his upper body’s muscles and started caressing his chest and his abs with shy hands. The dancer hummed of satisfaction under his soft touch and ended up taking off the young man’s shirt too. He was too eager for his body and wouldn’t be able to refrain himself from staring at it anymore.

His eyes became dark with lust when Sunghoon’s chest got revealed to his view. The young singer blushed a bit when he felt devoured by such an insistent stare and looked away, his teeth nipping his inner lip.

Jaejin smiled a bit at such a shy reaction and lowered his face to kiss his chin, neck, and Adam’s apple. He kept going down, still kissing the skin, until he faced his lover’s chest.

Sunghoon’s cheeks wildly reddened when he noticed his teasing smirk on his fine lips.

Smiling, Jaejin slowly licked one of his nipples, while two of his long fingers started massaging the other one. A wave of pleasure invaded the entire body of Sunghoon, who started moaning at these sensations. The dancer was skillful. His mouth was slowly licking, sucking, nibbling his hot spot and his digits were pinching the sensitive skin just the way he liked, enough to make him go wild. Sunghoon’s hand went on the dancer’s nape to caress it, sometimes digging his nails into the tanned skin.

When he had noticed the young man was craving for more, Jaejin left the two nubs on his chest and unbuttoned Sunghoon’s jeans. The latter flushed, as both stared at each other while the oldest put them down, revealing his white boxer short, a small bulge forming under the fabric. Jaejin stared at it and smiled with satisfaction. He kept going down until he reached his inner thighs. He began kissing them slowly, his face going up as his lips pressed against the soft skin, sometimes nibbling it. The dancer’s face reached the front of his hidden member and blushed a bit, as he began stroking it with slow, hesitant movement of hands. Pants of pleasure started coming out from the plump and wet lips of his lover. Jaejin looked at him moaning in delight, getting aroused by this erotic sight, and took off the youngest’s underwear, wanting to see him fully naked.

At this sudden action, Sunghoon covered his erection with his hands and hid his red face in a pillow, ashamed of his nudity. Jaejin slowly raised his face towards him and whispered, caressing his cheeks:

– Don’t be shy, baby … I want to see your body … You are beautiful.

Sunghoon sunk his eyes into his, biting his lips, and revealed himself to the oldest. Jaejin stared at him for a moment, blushing a bit, speechless. He had watched his face for years but never had the chance to observe his body. As he had always dreamt, the singer fitted his sexual fantasies, with his pearly white skin waiting to get covered with hickeys, his fleshy thighs and hips, and his throbbing length, craving for his touch only.

With a smile, Jaejin kissed him tenderly and slowly lowered his face towards his erection.

When he faced it, both stared at each other, blushing. It was a special moment for each of them.

For one of them, it was reborn of true love.

For the other one, it was the first time he was having sex with a man.

Hesitant, Jaejin kissed the tip of his member and slowly took it in his mouth, without taking his eyes off of him. Sunghoon moaned loudly, grasping him by the hair, closing his eyes. At this reaction, the dancer gained confidence and kept sucking the length, sometimes lapping it or squeezing it with his thin lips. As the youngest was losing himself into sensual sighs of ecstasy, Jaejin sneaked one of his hands inside his drawer to catch a bottle of lube. He poured some on his fingers and started caressing his lover’s hole with them, without entering inside of it. The youngest made a move of discomfort, before relaxing under the delicate touches. He mewled with pleasure when the oldest started deep-throating himself with his member. Slowly, staring at him, Jaejin entered one finger inside of him. Sunghoon opened his eyes and cried out in pain at the sudden intrusion. The dancer stopped moving and raised his face to meet his look and slowly kissed him, whispering:

– We can stop, if you want … I want to take it slow with you, baby. Sunghoon blushed, biting his lips and smiled, muttering:

– It will be alright … I’ll … get used, don’t worry. I’ll … let you know when it hurts.

Jaejin stared at him with bright eyes and kissed him with tenderness, moving his finger carefully inside of him. Sunghoon circled the oldest man’s body with his arms as the latter covered his lips, neck, chin with kisses, trying to make him feel relaxed. The dancer slowly added a second finger and stretched his entrance with slow scissors movements so that he would get used to the sensation. At first, Sunghoon whined out of pain. But soon, Jaejin’s other hand started pumping him at the same rhythm his fingers were moving inside of him, and that surpassed the pain. He mewled of delight under his lover’s touches and held him tight, scratching his back at times.

Jaejin stared at the man he loved as the latter was trembling and almost screaming out his pleasure. He somehow wondered how he could manage to be alive in front of this perfect sight. All his dreams came true, and everything was even better than what he had expected. Even though he wouldn’t be the one he made love with for the first time, Sunghoon would be his first and only man, and that was the single thing that mattered to him.

Jaejin freed the youngest’s erection and removed his fingers away from him, so he could unbutton his pants and take off his underwear, as he felt too uncomfortable inside of it. Sunghoon opened his eyes and suddenly blushed when he laid them on the oldest’s naked body. He looked away, biting his lips, secretly finding him more than stunning, but shy at the idea to compliment him on such an intimate moment.

Jaejin stared at him. Caressing the singer’s legs, he asked, tenderly:

– Are you ready, my love?

Sunghoon slowly nodded as an answer. Jaejin smiled and guided him in his actions, making him laid on his stomach and elevating his butt, so it would be easier to get into him. Blushing, the singer hid his face inside the cushions, as Jaejin caressed the soft skin of his buttocks he had dreamt for so many years. The dancer took a deep breath and entered him with a slow movement.

Sunghoon cried out of pain as Jaejin stopped for a moment, biting his lips, taking his breath. His body was tight, way too tight, even though he prepared him. Tears started dropping from the youngest’s red cheeks.

Jaejin caressed the youngest’s back and carefully bent towards him, kissing his nape.

– Relax, baby … I love you. I love you so much …

Sunghoon breathed heavily and slowly raised his face, turning it towards the oldest, with half-closed eyes.

Jaejin stopped for a short moment, kissing his skin, whispering words of love with a warm and husky voice. When he felt his lover got relaxed around his member, the oldest started thrusting inside of him, caressing his hips while doing so. He titled his head while moving, loving the way the velvety inside of his body were tightening around him. After a few thrusts, the youngest started moaning his pleasure, his nails digging into the pillows. Jaejin stared at him while slamming his erection into and out of him. He made love to a lot of women, but nothing could beat the erotic sight he had of Sunghoon, with his messy black hair and his nails playing with his bed mattress and pillow. Jaejin bit his lips, groaning:

– Fuck … I love you so damn much. You’re so good.

He attracted Sunghoon to him, making him stand on his knees as he kept moving inside of him. The latter turned his head and kissed him furiously, their tongues fighting for dominance. Jaejin held him strongly with one arm, as one of the hand came down to pump the singer at a fast pace. Sunghoon started screaming out of pleasure under all these sensations and let out a loud cry when Jaejin found his prostate and hit it without stopping.

Soon, his incoherent screams were replaced by the dancer’s name, and that made the latter even more eager to touch his pleasure spot. He soon felt his lover’s insides tightening blissfully around him:

– Jaejin~!

Sunghoon released himself inside the dancer’s hand while screaming his name. Jaejin, who couldn’t hold his desire anymore, let it go and came inside his lover a few seconds after him, groaning loudly, biting his lips. Time stopped around them. Jaejin froze for some seconds that had seemed like an eternity, as Sunghoon fell onto the mattress, on his stomach. After a  minute he spent catching his breath, the dancer laid on his back, panting heavily. He stared at the ceiling for a moment then looked at the starry sky, outside.

He smiled. It happened. It just happened.

Sunghoon slowly came by his side and snuggled against him, shyly looking at him. Both stared at each other. With a slow voice, Sunghoon muttered:

– Jaejin … I love you too …

Jaejin’s eyes brightened with emotion at this sentence. He held his lover tight, whispering:

– This is the most beautiful night of my life … I swear I’ll made you the happiest man on this Earth. I love you to death, Sunghoon.

– Jaejin …

The dancer pecked his lips with tenderness and cuddled him in silence, a loving smile lightening his face.

He looked back at the dark sky from his windows, as his lover started to fall asleep.

He wasn’t tired. That day was, indeed, the happiest day of his life and he wanted to relish each seconds of it. The day both formed one entity. One love.

The day he found his reason to live.

 

Red Strings by: igraine

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  • a JinHoon (Jaejin x Sunghoon) short story
  • completed

I was floating. I was free. No pain, no more pain. I looked down at myself. I looked terrible. There were tubes and wires sticking out everywhere. My head was bandaged and my face was bruised. Beep beep beep my heart beat was very weak. I think it’s time for me to go home.

The door flew open and the love of my life rushed in with Jiwon behind him. His eyes were red and puffy from crying. His face was red and his hair was a mess. But to me he was beautiful as always. He ran to my bedside and threw himself on me hugging me tightly.

Jinee yah please wake up. Don’t leave me, he sobbed.

I’m sorry my love. I’m sorry for not being able to stay with you. I’m sorry for not being there to protect you. I’m sorry I can’t keep my promise to grow old with you.

He is very weak you have to let him breath. Now let go. Jiwon pried him off of me.

Hyung. Make him wake up. Make him get better. Bring him back to me. He demanded as he grabbed Jiwon’s clothes and shook him violently.

I’m sorry Hoony. You know if I could make Jaejin stay I will. But I can’t. I’m sorry. Jiwon’s voice was shaking.

No! You’re lying! You can! You can! He insisted. You can bring my Jinee back!

Jiwon put his hand on his shoulder but he pushed it away. I can’t live without him! I won’t live without him! He declared defiantly.

Jiwon’s jaws tightened and he tried to grab onto Sunghoon. But Sunghoon fought him every step of the way.

Finally with all his strength Jiwon managed to wrap his arms around him. Sunghoon sobbed shamelessly on his neck as Jiwon tighten his arms around him.

For once in my life my vision was not blurred by my emotional attachments, it was crystal clear. All I saw were the raw human emotions laid before me. All I saw was Sunghoon’s pain, his fear of losing me. And I also saw Jiwon’s pain and fear. It pained him to see Sunghoon suffer. He feared Sunghoon’s words of I can’t live without him! I won’t live without him!

Sunghoon suddenly broke free of Jiwon’s grasp and turned back to me, tears still flowing. How could you? He accused anger creeping into his voice. How could you abandon me? You miserable bastard! I hate you! What makes you think I could live without you? What makes you think I would want to live without you? How dare you make this decision for me! It’s my decision! You hear me? Mine! And you’re not leaving me! He screamed.

He collapsed onto the floor clutching to the edge of the bed crying forlornly. Jiwon went over to him and sat down on the floor with him. He slipped his arms around Sunghoon’s waist and buried his head in his neck as he hugged his back.

Boy was I blind when I was alive. How could I not have seen Jiwon’s love for Sunghoon? It was so obvious. I feel better about leaving Sunghoon behind. Jiwon will take care of him I don’t have to worry anymore. I can leave in peace.

Oh Hoony I’m so sorry don’t cry my love. Your face his too pretty for tears, for pain, for suffering. Smile my love. Let me see your beautiful smile one last time before I leave.

I never did get to see his last smile. I felt myself being pulled. I was being pulled home.

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

The machine that was measuring my heartbeat went flat line. Sunghoon attacked my dead body throwing himself on me, shaking me violently trying to wake me. All the while with Jiwon trying to pry the hysterical Sunghoon away from my lifeless body.

I kept my eyes on my Hoony as I was floating higher and higher. Then my eyes caught sight of something unusual, something the human eye cannot see. Around Sunghoon’s right ankle was a piece of red string tied around it. At the other end of the string was tied Jiwon’s left ankle. The red string wasn’t really string it was more like a thin line of glowing light binding them together. As Jiyong and Jaeduck rushed into the room from Sunghoon’s cries I saw a red string tying them together also.

But what about me? If Sunghoon belongs to Jiwon, who do I belong to?

I saw the red string tied around my dead ankle but I couldn’t see the other end. I traced my red string, leading down the hospital hallway, turning left, into the bathroom and stops in the second stall. My red string was tied around the ankle of a sobbing Suwon with his head bowed on his hugged knees.

No, no that can’t be I’m dead! What is Suwonie to do? You can’t tie him to me. I’m dead!

I saw his secret love for me. I saw his pain of losing me. And I also saw that he was already dead inside. I fought it. For the first time I fought the force that was pulling me home. But it was too powerful. Despite my efforts I was slowly pulled away from the one I belong to.

I’m sorry Suwonie I’m sorry I never had a chance to love you. I’m sorry that I didn’t know your love. I’m so sorry for leaving you all alone in this world.

I floated away, away from the one I was supposed to love and away from the one I did love. Higher and higher I floated, light as a cloud away from the hospital, away from Seoul, away from Korea, and away from this earth.

As I was floating I saw all the red strings. It was a whole web of red strings spanning the entire globe. Some strings were very short stretching only to the person next to them; but some strings stretched across oceans and mountains. Would they ever find the one they belong to? I hope they do but I know in the back of my mind that some won’t. After all I didn’t.

 

 

Blind by: Phoenix_Soar

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  • a SuHoon (Suwon x Sunghoon) fanfic
  • on-going
  • from asianfanfics

Description

The first time they met, Suwon took one look at Sunghoon’s eyes and knew he meant trouble. When they meet again twenty years later, Sunghoon looks at him with the same eyes and Suwon wishes he were blind – blind to Sunghoon and his feelings for which he has no answer.

Foreword

Title: Blind
Pairing: Sunghoon/Suwon
Genre: Romance, Friendship, Humour(?), Drama(??)
Warnings: Slight coarse language, Sensuality
Rating: PG-13

Notes: I never thought I’d write fic for Sechskies but here we are and this is absolute trash. This is nothing but shameless, self-indulgent trash and I can’t even bring myself to feel sorry about it. 

To anyone that might be here, reading this thing written for the near non-existent pairing of the maknaes – SungWon? SuHoon? WonHoon? I don’t think they even have a couple name! – I hope you enjoy it, nonetheless.

The segments of this fic alternate between the present Sechskies and the Sechskies before they disbanded. I’m not making much attempts at keeping the story in line with actual events, btw, so though this is set in canon, I’m still butchering their past as I please.

Unchanging

Suwon is not blind.

He does not mean it in the literal sense but in perception. He has always picked up on things quickly, discerns people’s feelings easily, and that is a less painful way to live because a life with fewer misunderstandings means a life less troubling.

But then he meets Sunghoon and Suwon kind of wishes that he was blind. Blind in perception because he picks up on Sunghoon’s feelings too easily, discerns his thoughts too quickly – and it is the most troubling thing he has ever faced and he does not know what to do.

The first time he sees Sunghoon is during his audition. The moment he meets his future group mate’s calculating eyes, he just knows that the other is meant to bring him trouble.

It only takes a little while for Suwon to figure out what kind of trouble that is.

Two decades later, when they meet again for the first time in years, Sunghoon looks at him with the same eyes and Suwon realises that it is not only Sunghoon’s looks that remain unchanged.

The realisation sinks in, pressing like a weight down on his chest, and Suwon weakly wishes – just like he did twenty years ago – that he was blind.

Blind to Sunghoon and his feelings for which Suwon still has no answer.

~***~

They first meet as teenagers, but Sunghoon does not feel like one to Suwon. He looks like a teenager, all gangly body and awkward limbs still coming out of adolescence, but there is something mature and shrewd in his gaze as he stares at Suwon when the auditioner calls his name.

As he steps forward to the middle of the small audition room, Suwon thinks he should be paying more attention to the auditioner, who is sitting at the centre of the judges’ table and is obviously the in-charge. Yet he cannot help but be acutely aware of Sunghoon – whose name he will learn later – sitting to the left of the auditioner. He is dragging those sharp eyes of his up and down Suwon’s body, critical and almost invasive in his study, before finally settling on Suwon’s face.

Suwon does not know what that boy is looking for in him, but he knows none of the other judges at the table is making him as uncomfortable as the boy who looks as pretty – as dangerous – as a girl.

There are no questions as to what Suwon has prepared for his audition. The auditioner simply cuts right to the chase.

‘What can you do?’

A part of him is a little stunned. He had expected they would specifically ask to see his singing or dancing skills. Not ask if he has any skills to begin with.

He kind of appreciates the bluntness. Because Suwon is nothing if not blunt.

‘Nothing.’

He feels a swell of satisfaction at the looks on their faces. He can see the questions forming behind their widening eyes – what is this nobody with no talent even doing at an audition? – as they try to hide their discomfiture. The truth is, even Suwon could not have answered them. There is nothing he is particularly good at, but he needs a dream, something to work for, and when DaeSung Enterprise announced their open auditions, he had thrown caution to the wind and sent in his application because what does he have to lose anyway?

At least he’s tried. And he did it with honesty. That’s it, he supposes. This is how his two minutes as an idol hopeful ends.

But then his eyes find the boy beside the auditioner, the boy whose presence seems to carry more weight than the rest of the judges combined, and Suwon is taken aback. The look in the boy’s eyes has changed. The coolness from before is now something warmer and more intense, something Suwon cannot define.

Without removing his heavy stare from Suwon, the boy tips his head closer to the auditioner’s in a gesture that looks almost casually authoritative. He murmurs a few words that Suwon cannot catch.

The auditioner looks surprised but he nods. He briefly thanks Suwon for coming to the audition and – throwing an uncertain glance at the boy to his left – adds that the company will contact Suwon in a few days.

Suwon is stunned. It makes no sense that DaeSung Enterprise is even considering him.

As he bows and stammers his thanks, he sneaks a look at the boy and is immediately caught looking. The boy is still studying him, a slight twist to his lips and a strange gleam in his eyes. Almost like he is pleased.

In that moment, Suwon comprehends what the rest of the auditionees missed: the person who is truly in charge here.

Two weeks later, when he receives a phone call from Daesung Enterprise telling him that he has been picked as a trainee, Suwon already knows who pulled the strings on that decision. He just doesn’t know why.

~***~

Twenty years after their first meeting, Suwon finds that Sunghoon still has that same low-key authority that most people don’t notice about him.

Though it is Suwon and Jaeduk who make the first move to actively push for a Sechskies comeback, contacting all the members they can reach to put the plan in motion, it is ultimately Sunghoon that physically gathers them all together. He is the one who decides on a date for them to meet, makes arrangements and books a private room at some fancy restaurant, sends unnecessary (but secretly appreciated) reminders to everyone twenty-four hours before their get-together, and he is the first one on the scene.

Suwon is the second member to arrive and he is a bundle of frazzled nerves as the restaurant’s hostess escorts him to the room. He hesitates for a full minute outside the door, staring at the polished wood as he tries to picture the people on the other side.

Jiyong had gone completely off their radar, but Suwon has met Jaeduk and Jiwon, and seen Sunghoon (and rarely Jaejin) on television now and then over the years. And yet, he strangely cannot imagine what they must look like now. His mind only supplies images of what they used to look like fifteen years ago, before they disbanded.

Taking a deep breath, he finally pushes open the door and –

Suwon freezes. For a moment, he thinks that he really must have stepped through some portal into the past. Sitting at the table directly across from him is Kang Sunghoon and he looks exactly like the boy Suwon remembers from nearly twenty years ago.

He forgets to breathe for a second or two.

‘Suwon.’

His name is a heavy thing that hangs in the air between them, weighed down by emotions saturating a voice that Suwon has not heard in so long. A voice that, too, has remain unchanged.

And then Sunghoon stands up from his seat and Suwon sees that, past his face and dyed blond hair, he is no longer the lanky youth Suwon parted with half a lifetime ago but very much a man. He still looks as good as Suwon remembers – better, in fact, with that perpetual youth and beauty of his – but the arms that wrap around Suwon in a hug are strong and the lean body pressing against him is all muscle. When Sunghoon pulls back to smile at him, Suwon notices the crow’s-feet at the corners of Sunghoon’s dark eyes and the squareness of his jaw – proof that time has, indeed, passed. Nearly sixteen years of it.

‘Suwon-ah…’ He has drawn away from the embrace, but his hands are still on Suwon’s hips as he continues to smile at him.

It is one of those smiles that earned Sunghoon the title of ‘Killer Smile’ back in their idol days. The smile that Suwon did not see during his audition, was in fact not privy to seeing until their group was complete and Sunghoon finally satisfied with the members he chose.

He feels a little derailed to have that smile aimed solely at him out of the blue. He has forgotten how disarming it can be.

‘You look good,’ Sunghoon tells him and Suwon almost laughs. The words are sincere, but they still sound like a lie coming from someone who looks like, well, like Sunghoon.

‘I should be the one saying that,’ Suwon replies, taking a small step back to dislodge Sunghoon’s hands from him. ‘How come you haven’t changed one bit?’

‘You don’t mean that,’ Sunghoon chuckles, ducking his head for a moment. ‘Of course I’ve changed.’

Suwon has to agree though he doesn’t admit it. Sunghoon still looks unfairly young; he could claim to be in his twenties and people unacquainted with him would believe it. But he has filled out and there is a different quality to his looks now. “Pretty” is no longer a word that suits him, Suwon thinks as he searches for a better description. “Cute” has always been Jaeduk hyung and “handsome” are Jiwon hyung and the Jiyong he remembers, but Sunghoon now is –

The closest adjective Suwon can think of is “beautiful”. Beautiful like Jaejin hyung but still different.

Suwon would not have called Sunghoon beautiful before.

He realises too late that he has been staring at Sunghoon throughout his mental monologue and now Sunghoon is gazing back, bold and unflinching. His smile has dimmed to something more reserved, but the look in his eyes is more intense now. Feverish and aggressive in a way that has nothing to do with dislike.

Suwon knows that look. It is what had evolved from that first unnerving stare Sunghoon gave him during that audition so many years ago, a look Suwon has received countless times throughout the years they worked together.

His mouth goes dry.

He and Sunghoon are friends and colleagues above anything else, but he knows that Sunghoon had not always looked at him in that light. Suwon had been a friend and a colleague to Sunghoon but also something else – something left undefined in a dark place that never saw light.

And now, he can see that that has also remained unchanged. Even after all this time.

Sunghoon parts his lips and moves as if to step closer to Suwon, his eyes roving hungrily over his face. But then the door opens again and Suwon has never been more relieved to see Lee Jaejin in his life.

Exhaling a breath he did not realise he was holding, Suwon breaks into a grin and greets his hyung, glad for the excuse to turn away from Sunghoon and whatever he had tried to say, to do. He is even gladder when Eun Jiwon and Kim Jaeduk appear on Jaejin’s heels and the atmosphere in the room becomes something he can finally breathe and feel comfortable in.

Because it turns out that Sunghoon in his mid-thirties is not all that different from who he had been at twenty, and to this day, Suwon does not know how to respond to either.

~***~

The first time Suwon meets Sunghoon as a member of Sechskies, he is surprised yet again. Because he remembers Sunghoon from his audition, but he hadn’t known until then that Sunghoon is actually part of the group. It is a reality slap he doesn’t see coming.

Still, Suwon is pretty good at controlling his expressions, so he pretends he does not recognise the pretty boy from his audition when he is introduced to the first two members of Sechskies.

Suwon introduces himself with a polite bow and recites all the social niceties, feeling more self-conscious than he thought he would. He tries not to stare too much, his gaze flitting alternatively between the pretty boy – who seems to be sizing Suwon up just like he did at the audition – and the fierce-looking guy next to him who has dark circles under his eyes and is, Suwon assumes, a manager sent by the agency.

He is a bit embarrassed when the second guy gives his own introduction in response, revealing himself to be Eun Jiwon, two years older than Suwon, and “the leader” – leader?! – of their group. Suwon can feel his face reddening and he hopes it does not betray his first impression of Eun Jiwon. He doubts that the leader – who is already assuming a hyung and sunbae tone of voice – would appreciate knowing that the rookie mistook his looks and age for the complete opposite of an idol group member.

Then the pretty boy from his audition introduces himself and that is when Suwon learns Kang Sunghoon’s name.

‘It’s nice to meet you,’ Suwon replies formally, glad that his voice is steady and that he did not accidentally say something completely nuts like why did you choose me or you’re prettier than most girls I know.

Sunghoon gives a small smile – not one of his killers – and says in response, ‘No need to be so formal. We’re “friends” so let’s just speak comfortably.’

‘We just met,’ Suwon blurts. It is true in a way, he thinks. His audition doesn’t really count as an official meeting.

The second guy – Jiwon – gives a bark of laughter, looking at Suwon like he finds him both funny and a total loser. Suwon feels his enthusiasm at being a part of Sechskies waning a bit.

Sunghoon chuckles, too, but it is nowhere near as insolent as Jiwon’s.

‘No, I meant we’re friends as in we’re the same age,’ he explains, somehow driving his elbow into Jiwon’s side and making it look like a complete accident. ‘Oh! Sorry, hyung.’ He turns back to Suwon without even giving their winded leader the time to reply. ‘So you can drop formalities with me.’

‘Oh.’ Suwon still feels a bit hesitant but he nods anyway.

‘You guys are the same age?’ Jiwon asks, still a little out of breath. ‘I didn’t know.’

Suwon blinks, abruptly realising that Sunghoon has just – unwittingly or not – revealed to Jiwon that he has met Suwon before. As an auditioner, he would’ve seen Suwon’s birthdate and other personal information on his application.

However, Sunghoon breezes over Jiwon’s question with a natural ease Suwon immediately envies, ‘Yeah. You were born in 80, right, Suwon?’

It’s still a little odd how easily he can say Suwon’s name so informally, considering they just got introduced to each other.

‘Ah, yes, Sunghoon-ssi,’ he almost stammers.

‘Drop the ssi,’ says Sunghoon pointedly while Jiwon peers at Suwon.

‘You’re an 80-liner, too?’ He demands while Sunghoon rolls his eyes.

‘That’s what I just said, hyung,’ Sunghoon mutters dryly at the same time Suwon answers the leader, ‘Yes, I was born on July 16.’

‘Huh. Sunghoonie is February so you’re still the maknae,’ Jiwon remarks. He breaks into a sudden laugh and nudges his younger friend. ‘Congrats, Hoonie-yah. You can finally take a break from minion errands.’

‘You’re terrible,’ Sunghoon retorts without batting an eyelash while Suwon just watches them, feeling a little out of his depth. Jiwon winks at him and he’s not entirely sure if the leader is joking or not.

‘Welcome to minion life, Jang Suwon,’ Jiwon sticks his hand out and the gesture is both friendly and dominating.

Suwon takes it, murmuring a quiet, ‘Yes, hyung.’ He figures he may as well be mentally prepared for life under Eun Jiwon (who doesn’t seem too bad, but you never know). If the rest of the members they – or just Kang Sunghoon?- pick are older than Suwon, he will end up as the maknae anyway.

Besides, it’s not like being the youngest in the room is a new situation for him.

Then he finds Sunghoon suddenly taking his hand too, nudging Jiwon’s aside in the process. He is still smiling lightly but his voice is serious and gentle as he says, ‘Don’t worry too much, Suwon. Jiwon hyung will occasionally tell you to do ridiculous things as the maknae – he made me wash his underwear a couple of times when we were living in Hawaii – but he’s not too bad once you get to know him.’

‘Yah,’ Jiwon shoved Sunghoon with his shoulder in warning.

‘He acts all tough but he’s a sweetheart,’ Sunghoon continues, somehow pulling off a smirk that almost looks sweet. ‘He’ll look after you. Or us, now, I suppose.’

‘Punk.’ Jiwon playfully smacks Sunghoon upside the head, making him drop Suwon’s hand. Turning to the youngest, he said, ‘Look, you work hard and do your part and we’ll get along just fine, a’right? You slack off, I won’t go easy on you.’

‘Don’t worry, hyung, you don’t have to tell me. I always give my all,’ replies Suwon evenly. He is starting to figure Eun Jiwon out and he thinks he has an idea how to remain on his good side.

‘Even to washing my underwear?’ Jiwon suddenly cracks.

‘That’s a bit much,’ Suwon cannot help muttering, his tone turning wry.

A surprised laugh escapes Sunghoon while Jiwon blinks owlishly at Suwon, clearly not having expected such a response from the new guy.

‘But I’ll do as you say to make this group work. Hyung.’

Jiwon peers at him for a long moment – Suwon wonders if he is deciding on whether to be angry or not – before he says flatly, ‘Alright. I’ll let you off for now. We’ll see how the training goes.’

‘I’ll work hard,’ Suwon promises.

‘But you’re in charge of making the ramen,’ Jiwon adds suddenly, crossing his arms with child-like stubbornness. ‘As the maknae, you should do at least that much for your hyungs, right?’

Suwon’s lips curl up in amusement despite himself. He is beginning to see why Sunghoon, who has clearly known Jiwon for a while, appears to be both fond of and exasperated by him.

Nevertheless, he answers smoothly, ‘Yes, hyung.’

‘You make him food, he will go to the ends of the earth for you,’ Sunghoon adds matter-of-factly.

As Jiwon immediately rounds on his friend, Suwon finds himself chuckling. He is finally beginning to feel at ease, the tension draining from his body as he muses that this first meeting is not so bad. Neither are his new colleagues, it seems.

Sunghoon echoes his thoughts, speaking over Jiwon’s grumbling, ‘I think we’ll get on well enough. We start training immediately. You ready?’

Suwon nods with another amused glance at Jiwon who looks like he is hiding a pout. The leader mutters something about going down to the practice room since they cannot be any more introduced than they already are, and begins to head for the door, leading the way. Suwon automatically waits for Sunghoon to move, intending to follow, but Sunghoon waits for Suwon to walk with him.

Mildly surprised, Suwon falls into step with him.

As they leave the room, Sunghoon leans closer to his side and says in a low voice without looking at him, ‘You need to put in extra effort into singing and dancing, Suwon. We have to bring you up to par.’

The unexpected words send a jolt through Suwon and he almost missteps, feeling like he has been jilted out of some fantasy realm back into reality. He abruptly remembers that he was picked – by Sunghoon, specifically – despite his lack of skills or any previous training.

Suwon almost stops right then and there to demand an explanation from Sunghoon, to demand what he had seen in some nobody – what he is looking for in that nobody. But Sunghoon slows down too and looks him square in the eyes. His expression is unreadable.

In that moment, Kang Sunghoon looks as alluring as he did the first time Suwon saw him and the questions stick in his throat.

Danger, warns a voice inside his head.

Turning his gaze away, Suwon can only repeat weakly, ‘I’ll work hard.’

~***~

As a teenager, Suwon had been a man of his word. Twenty years later, he is no different. With their huge comeback looming on the horizon, Suwon throws himself into singing and dancing with the same zeal and determination he had carried in his idol days. Those were the only weapons he had had back then; he had sharpened and honed them tirelessly during his training and even after debut so that people would think of Jang Suwon as a decent enough idol.

He will never be able to hit all the notes that Sunghoon can, but at least his singing is pleasant enough. He will never be able to rap like Jiwon either, but at least his voice is smooth enough. Nor will he ever be able to freestyle dance like Jaeduk and Jaejin, but he can at least pull off the moves if he practises enough.

Suwon will always be a person that is just “good enough”, he knows. Good enough to sing, dance, do variety … be an idol. The field of entertainment is not where his natural talent lies, but Suwon likes this field. He has survived here where hard work and determination have led him to this point, to being good enough. And that has made him realise that being “good enough” is good enough for him. He isn’t greedy for more, for something he cannot have.

So he practises, determined not to be fazed by the additional pains that come with age. On top of falling back into old dance routines and recalling lyrics that have blurred in their memories, all of them are struggling with one thing or another – Jiwon’s knees are paining him, Jaejin is dieting to lose weight, Jaeduk is not in his best condition, Sunghoon has a small injury in his foot – so Suwon refuses to complain and grits his teeth against the exhaustion.

But, despite the fact that they are no longer at the peak of their youth, they are aware of how lucky they are. Their comeback is on Infinity Challenge, the king of South Korean varieties, and that stroke of luck is far and beyond their wildest dreams. Suwon never counts his chickens before they hatch, but he cannot help but daydream of how much exposure and promotion the show will bring their comeback.

The blessing of all blessings – and this, they all know, goes a long way in securing their future good fortune – is being signed into YG Entertainment. It had taken Suwon days after their contract to fully absorb their situation; he still chuckles to himself, in gratitude and relief, every time he recalls their dismal circumstances in Daesung Entertainment/DSP Media nearly two decades ago compared to what they have now.

Even Jiwon is ecstatic about it, in that mildly annoying childish way of his. ‘Yah, Lee Jaejin,’ he pipes up during a break in one of their practice sessions halfway through filming Infinity Challenge, ‘you’re one lucky son of a gun, you know that?’

Jaejin looks round in puzzlement, pausing in the middle of practising Road Fighter by himself. ‘What do you mean, hyung?’

‘You got Yang freaking Hyunsuk as a brother-in-law,’ Jiwon snickers from where he is taking a breather against the mirrored wall of their practice room.

It’s a well-worn joke by now, but it still makes them all laugh while Jaejin shoots a frown without any real heat at their leader.

‘You know Eunju had nothing to do with it, hyung. That’s not why Hyunsuk hyung took us on -‘

‘If you didn’t have a sister,’ Jiwon cuts across him with a shit-eating grin, ‘then I would’ve married you off to YG instead to get this deal.’

Jaejin makes a face while the rest of them shake with laughter. ‘That’s … just disturbing.’

‘Oh, come on, with a face like yours, I’m sure it would’ve worked. Right? Right?’ Jiwon went on, nudging Suwon who is sitting next to him.

‘You’d make anyone a beautiful wife, Jaejin hyung,’ Suwon plays along, lips curling as Jaejin grimaces at him. Meanwhile, sitting crosslegged on the floor a few feet away, Jaeduk and Sunghoon are trying to suppress their laughter and doing a very poor job of it.

‘Please don’t talk about me and my brother-in-law like that in the same sentence,’ Jaejin retorts dryly, already returning to his dance. Before Jiwon can say anything else, he adds, ‘If you’re that thankful, let’s get back to practice, hyung. We don’t have much time left till our comeback and even turtles can jump higher than you right now in Pong Saeng Pom Sa.’

Jaeduk and Sunghoon give up all pretense of containing their amusement while Jiwon flushes red. He grabs his water bottle – shakes it once to make sure it’s not full – and then chucks it at Jaejin who misses it purely by chance as he twirls around, still doing his solo Road Fighter.

‘God, what happened to my Lee Jaejin?’ he laments dramatically, raising his face to the ceiling. ‘I swear he wasn’t this mouthy twenty years ago.’

‘He was always mouthy, hyung,’ Sunghoon speaks up with a chuckle. ‘Just off camera and out of your earshot.’

‘Shut it, don’t interrupt my conversation with God.’

‘Besides, he has a point,’ Suwon cuts in. ‘You barely lift your heels off the ground when we do Pong Saeng Pom Sa.’

‘Because my knees hurt!’

Suwon knows it himself, but he cannot help making another jab, ‘But they magically heal for Com’ Back, eh.’

He laughs apologetically when Jiwon smacks him on the shoulder. ‘Brat. The choreo is completely different and you know it.’

‘Sorry, hyung,’ Suwon grins.

‘You’re both savage asses,’ Jiwon grouses, glowering from Suwon to Jaejin who is ignoring them in favour of dancing. ‘Hell, if Jaejin can’t find himself a woman before he turns grey, he should just marry Suwon. You both can be happy assholes together.’ When Jaejin doesn’t say anything, Jiwon adds loudly, ‘I’m taking your silence as a yes!’

Jaejin doesn’t look round but he replies this time, his voice as matter-of-fact as if he’s telling the time, ‘If Suwonnie is fine with it, why not.’

Jiwon snorts with laughter, a hint of surprise colouring his voice. Suwon just shakes his head and reaches for his water bottle, amused.

‘Ah, but then the J-Walk fans will be disappointed,’ says Jaeduk suddenly, giving Suwon a mock heartbroken look. ‘All those years of fanservice for nothing!’

‘Yah,’ Jiwon yanks Suwon’s water bottle out of his hand and throws it lightly at Jaeduk who quickly catches it. ‘You’re practically married to Tony Ahn of all people; you can’t have everyone, you greedy bastard.’

Right on his tail, Jaejin mutters, ‘Maknae deserves better than a national traitor.’

Jaeduk, in revenge, flings Suwon’s bottle at Jaejin who nimbly dodges it. It rolls away towards the opposite wall.

Suwon laughs again, leaning lazily against the leader and feeling happier than he’s been in years. He has missed this, he realises. Not just Sechskies together as an idol group, but … just them, as people. Working with them, talking with them, laughing with them – the long years had numbed down the feeling until he barely realised it himself, but he’s missed them. Even Jiyong whom they have yet to find.

‘At least leave my water bottle alone,’ he speaks up with a chuckle. ‘It’s innocent and I’m thirsty.’

Without missing a beat, Jaejin spins on his heel and begins to walk over to retrieve it. The sight sparks loud jeers from Jiwon while Jaeduk breaks down into a fit of giggles.

But Sunghoon, Suwon abruptly notices, is frowning.

‘Already working hard to impress your future man, eh, Jaejinnie?’ Jiwon hollers after him, clapping Suwon on his knee. ‘You’re landing yourself a dutiful spouse there, our Suwonnie. I’m almost jealous.’

‘Come on, hyung, give him a brea-‘ Suwon stops when he finds a plastic bottle of water abruptly shoved in front of his nose.

He looks up to find Sunghoon standing over him, holding out the bottle. When Suwon meets his eyes, he gives a tight-lipped smile that doesn’t match his hard gaze.

‘Here, you can have mine.’

‘Uh. Thanks,’ Suwon mutters as he accepts the offered bottle. Past Sunghoon, he can see Jaejin pausing in his approach uncertainly, passing Suwon’s bottle of water from one hand to the other.

Wordlessly, Sunghoon returns to his spot next to Jaeduk. Suwon watches him go, aware that something discreet has abruptly changed in the previously lighthearted atmosphere.

Then suddenly, from beside him, Jiwon says, ‘Better up your game, Jaejin. You’ve got competition.’

Sunghoon immediately tenses; Suwon sees it clear as day, sees the way Sunghoon avoids looking at Jiwon and Jaejin both, reaching for his handphone instead to pretend that he is unaffected.

But in that moment, it’s not Sunghoon’s reaction that holds Suwon’s attention. It’s Jiwon’s tone – those words … they had not been said in jest.

He turns to stare at the leader, hardly daring to believe what he’s just realised. He swallows. Jiwon’s face is emotionless and his eyes, fixed on Sunghoon, look almost cold. And then, under his breath that Suwon barely catches the words, he growls,

‘I thought he was over this…’

Suwon freezes, his heart in his mouth. He looks slowly from Jiwon to Sunghoon, his grip almost deathly on the plastic water bottle in his hands. Sunghoon continues to avoid looking their way while Jaeduk and Jaejin remain awkwardly on the sidelines, both of them now aware of something gone amiss but at a complete loss, judging from their expressions.

In that moment, Suwon prays that neither of them ever finds out.

Because it appears that Jiwon knows. Jiwon knows. And what Suwon wouldn’t give to change that!

Jaejin clears his throat, shattering the ice in the air. ‘We should get back to practice.’

Jaeduk is immediately on his feet, looking relieved, followed by Sunghoon who has schooled his face to neutral. Suwon and Jiwon stand up slower, neither of them looking at each other, but Jiwon grips Suwon’s shoulder briefly before walking forward to take his place. During the rest of the rehearsal, none of them say anything about the conversation that took place earlier and, to Suwon’s relief, things seem finally back to normal when they call it a day a couple of hours later.

Or so it seemed.

Suwon is on his way back to the practice room after showering to retrieve some things he left behind when he hears low voices. The door is ajar and he is about to push it open when he hears Jiwon’s voice and stops outside.

‘- can’t believe you’re serious.’

‘Does this look like a joke, hyung?’ Suwon’s eyes widen as he recognises Sunghoon’s voice; it is low and raspy, full of ire and frustration. He has never heard Sunghoon use that tone with Jiwon before. ‘Do you think I’d ever joke about something like this?’

‘That’s exactly the problem,’ Jiwon snaps. ‘That you’re not joking, that you’re actually doing this – what the hell is wrong with you?’

‘It’s not like I wanted to – I didn’t choose this, hyung!’

‘Yet you’re acting on it. What the hell was that today, huh? I make a few jokes with Jaejin and you act out like some jealous teenager!’

‘I – That’s a bit of an exaggeration, hyu-‘

‘D’you have any idea how dangerous this is? What this would do to Sechskies if people found out? To the both of you?’ Before Sunghoon can reply, Jiwon barrels on, ‘I know I was lacking a lot as a leader, but I still tried my best to protect the members. Especially you and Jiyong and Suwon because you were the youngest -‘

‘Hyung,’ Sunghoon begins but is cut off.

‘- but how am I supposed to do that if you’re the one putting us in danger, huh? How do I protect? What do I protect?’

‘Hyung…’

‘We’re not kids anymore, Sunghoon! You can’t afford to be like this!’

‘For the love of – hyung … please, I … I can’t help -‘

Jiwon finally bursts out, his voice like a gunshot, ‘Goddammit, Kang Sunghoon, I thought you were over this! It’s been sixteen years. Sixteen! I thought you finally got over him!’

Suwon inhales sharply, hardly daring to believe his ears. Inside the practice room, a long moment of silence follows Jiwon’s outburst.

And then Sunghoon responds, soft and utterly miserable, ‘So did I…’

Suwon’s breath catches in his throat.

‘I thought I had, at least for the past dozen years or something…’

‘But?’

Sunghoon’s voice turns bitter. ‘But then we met again and I realised not a goddamned thing has changed.’

‘Sunghoonie…’

‘You say you’re pissed, hyung? How do you think I feel? Everything that I did to forget him – it all became meaningless the moment I saw him walk into that restaurant on our reunion. You’re not even close to being as angry at me as I am at myself, Jiwon hyung. I’m pathetic.’

‘I didn’t say that.’

‘Well, I am. Because I should be over him. That time with him when I, when we … I thought he was finally out of my system after that night.’

Suwon clenches his fist when he notices that his fingers are trembling. Swallowing, he leans closer to the gap between the door and the frame, straining his ears and, at the same time, terrified to listen because he’s realised he knows exactly what Sunghoon is talking about.

‘Wait,’ Jiwon suddenly sounds extremely uncomfortable. ‘That night? Are you … hell, Sunghoon, what are you saying? Did you … do you mean to tell me … that you actually slept with him?’

There is a second of shocked silence during which Suwon almost chokes on thin air. And then Sunghoon gives a bark of mirthless laughter.

‘Hah, I wish. Hell, I should have. Maybe that would’ve solved everything.’

‘This isn’t funny,’ snaps Jiwon, still sounding worried and like the leader Suwon has witnessed only in their direst of times.

‘I’m not being funny, hyung,’ Sunghoon retorts. ‘But no, I’m not right, either. Sleeping with him would’ve solved nothing. Considering my lot in life, it probably would’ve only made me want him even more.’

Jiwon doesn’t say anything in reply for a long minute after that. Suwon licks his lips, his mind whirring as he tries to process everything he’s just heard. A part of his logical side is ringing warning bells, urging him to leave; he has eavesdropped long enough and there is every danger of being caught, either by the duo inside the room or anyone else that decides to come down here. But he remains rooted to the spot, his head angled towards the ajar door; something tells him that he should hear what’s coming next.

When Jiwon finally speaks, he sounds tired, resigned. ‘… Sunghoonie.’

‘Hyung?’

‘I understand how you feel. I’m trying, at least. But … I can’t ignore the risks. Do you get what I’m saying?’

Sunghoon sighs audibly. ‘I get it. Hyung, please, don’t worry about it too much. Like you said, I’m not a kid. I know the dangers. And I won’t let people find out.’

‘Can you guarantee that?’

‘Hyung, I was dealing with this even way before we disbanded. I never did anything on camera or in public that could’ve exposed this. You know that.’

‘OK. Yeah, I admit that.’

‘It’ll be the same even now. You can trust me to be careful.’

‘But,’ Jiwon’s voice hardens slightly. ‘You weren’t very careful today. Even Jaeduk and Jaejin realised something was up.’

‘Jiwon hyung.’ Sunghoon’s voice is as serious as Suwon has ever heard it. ‘I need a break from pretending sometimes. If I can’t do that in private, even just within the group, then I can’t keep pretending elsewhere. I’ll go insane.’

‘And you’re OK with Jaejin and Jaeduk finding out about your feelings?’ Jiwon demands.

‘Even if they do, I’m sure they’ll keep it secret.’

‘And Suwon?’

Suwon stills at being properly addressed for the first time in their conversation.

‘How does this affect Suwon?’ asks Jiwon. ‘I sympathise with you, Sunghoonie, but you can’t prioritise yourself here; you can’t push your own feelings onto Suwon. If you keep acting like this and it makes him uncomfortable -‘

‘The day he tells me so,’ Sunghoon interrupts flatly, ‘I’ll stop. It’ll be the end of it. Right then and there.’

‘Wait …’ Jiwon sounds a bit taken aback. ‘You mean, Suwon knows?’

‘I’m sure he does. For a long time now.’

‘What? And? He never told you to stop?’

‘Not really, no. He’s never told me to back off.’

‘But does that mean Suwon wants you, too?’ demands Jiwon fiercely and it’s a question that makes Suwon’s knees almost buckle. ‘Just because he didn’t tell you to get lost doesn’t necessarily mean he’s encouraging your feelings!’

‘I know that!’ says Sunghoon. ‘But it’s also likely that he wants me back.’

Suwon’s mouth goes dry at the declaration. Sunghoon had said it with such conviction.

‘Likely?’ Jiwon repeats slowly. ‘Sunghoon, please, for you own sake, get rid of wishful thinking. You’re hurting yourself.’

‘I’m not just saying that.’

‘Oh, yeah? And how do you know, for a fact, that Suwon might actually return your feelings?’

When Sunghoon replies this time, Suwon clearly hears the smile in his voice,

‘Because I kissed him that night, and he kissed me back.’

A/N: Some reference points for anyone that doesn’t know: 

– After their comeback, it was revealed that Kang Sunghoon had personally picked each member of Sechskies (except Jiwon. Originally their agency wanted to make them both a singer-rapper duo but then decided on an idol group instead to overthrow H.O.T.. Sunghoon hated the idea, so they told him they’d let him choose the new members.)

– Lee Jaejin’s younger sister, Lee Eunju, is married to YG Entertainment’s founder Yang Hyunsuk. 

– Kim Jaeduk currently lives with Tony Ahn of H.O.T. (They’ve become best bros and basically the target of ‘ambiguously gay couple’ comments on all variety shows. Also Jaejinis a savage calls Jaeduk a national traitor for being bffs with Tony since H.O.T and Sechskies’ were top rivals in the 90’s XD)

I have my doubts that anyone is reading this fic – I haven’t seen anyone ship Sunghoon/Suwon XD – but if you are, thank you for giving this trash a chance! Reviews and constructive criticism are always appreciated 😀

Kiss the Rain by: 4J2S

kiss the rain.jpg

  • a JyongHoon (Jiyong x Sunghoon) short story
  • completed

The dark clouds roared loudly as SungHoon dug though the pile of books laid before him.

Another day was wasted away as he stared off at JiYong, hoping beyond all hopes to catch his eye.

For the last two weeks, SungHoon entered into the knowledge filled area, spying on him.

He didn’t mean it intentionally, just when he sees JiYong, his mind seem to shut down.

From a distance, SungHoon watched as he got up, heading towards the spot he was occupying.

He heart quickened, disorienting his steady breath.

Needing something to take the suspicion away from him, he grabbed a hold of one of the assortments of books upon the cart.

JiYong strode pass, but not before taking a quick glance over to where SungHoon stood.

He read the title to the book at hand and thought, ?hat the hell?’

He shot a puzzled look over to SungHoon before continuing on.

SungHoon watched the back of JiYong as he blended into the crowd disappearing from sight, leaving nothing but the musky scent of his cologne lingering in the air.

He took in a deep breath, taking thehis smell as he glance down onto the book.

How big is too big?

“Huh?”

Deciding on the size of your breast.

“What the fuuucccc….” He quickly placed a hand over the lips about to finish the words.

Slamming the book together, he read the title.

From Man to Women. Complete guide to having a sex change.

*Smack* as the open palm of his hand made a direct hit on the middle of his forehead.

“Great…there goes my chance with him….Probably thinks I’m some kind of a freak now…”

He tossed the book back to the tray and returned to the table holding his learning utensils, in otter shame.

Even though he completely bombed his chances with JiYong, he stayed in his spot memorizing each movement.

SungHoon watched as JiYong stood up with one swift motion, preparing to leave.

Once JiYong seem to be out of hearing range, SungHoon dropped his head down onto the hard wood board of the table, banging his head repeatedly.

“It would so much easier getting over you, i f you weren’t so f*cking irresistible.”

At the moment, SungHoon was just lucky that it was late into the night, that most of the students had already left for home, not here to witness him make a total fool of himself.

He regained his composure as he stuffed all the scribbles of JiYong’s name in various styles into his book bag and headed out to the open air. Outside, heaven cried out the endless tears onto the earth.

“Great, just my luck. I knew I should have just gone home.”

A streak of lightening cascaded down with a loud bang, taking him away from his train of thought.

SungHoon took one last look up onto the gloomy clouded sky, before stepping forward with his bag held high above his head.

The splashing sound of his feet hitting the puddled encircled the skies as he ran out the gate towards the bus stop.

He stood by the bench, listening as the lonely streets fill with the sound of the water droplets falling.

Closing his eyes, he absorbed the music, clearing up the cluttered thoughts.

When he opened them back up to use his sense of sight, he stiffened.

The shadow of a stranger seem to be coming closer.

Soon the figure stop, the dark form impression of the person behind him cascaded onto the cement floor, leaving an eerie feeling.

He looked straight, concentrating deeply on the rain drops realizing that it was still raining, but he didn’t feel the refreshing liquid hit him.

His gaze turned up to look upon the sky to see the black rim of an umbrella covering his head.

Slightly embarrass, he lowered his hand to his side, dropping the backpack that was once covering his head.

SungHoon was now beyond curious who this man/woman was.

Trying to be inconspicuous, he turned his head just a little to get a peek.

That turned out to be just a waste of time as all he saw was darkness.

Be brave. Just turn and look at who it is….but….what if it’s some psychotic killer?’

‘Are you chicken…I can’t believe I’m like this…just turn and see…what are you a sissy?’

I’m not a sissy you are…wait…you are me…well then shouldn’t you be on my side…’

Just look…you didn’t take three years of karate to act like this…right….’

Guess so….if I dies it’s all your fault…you hear me brain..it’s all your fault…’

Stop complaining and look….oh one more thing…stop talking to yourself…’

You started….’ He realized he was still talking to himself as he cut of his own words.

He took one breath, then another, and smelled the ever overwhelming scent of the mystery person’s…cologne?

So it’s a guy.’

SungHoon tightly shut his eyes, slowly turned his body, then opened his eyes and almost fainted.

There standing before him was….JiYong??

To nervous and shocked to do anything, he quickly turned away facing forward.

The shuffled sound of his step came closer as his warmth penetrating the distance that’s between them.

SungHoon unconsciously learned back till his back was touching him.

His heart quickened, as he turned once more seeking the dark brown orbs that can reflect his soul.

With the loud thunder in the background, JiYong and SungHoon stood staring into each other’s eyes.

Losing themselves in the heat of lust, JiYong closed his face in.

Their lips touched as another shot of lightening blasted from the sky.

Slowly JiYong dropped the umbrella that was shielding them both from the rain.

His arm instead went around the slender waist of SungHoon as they were interlocked in a passionate kiss as the delicate water fell from the world above glueing the two together.

The street lamp illuminated the image of the two’s passion as an open umbrella captured the rain, making a pool of water.

Love is Blind by: JiyOnG’z BaBy bOo

love is blind.JPG

  • a Jiyong fanfic
  • completed

Chapter 1 

The window was left open and dampness of the rain drifted in. He sat in his favorite chair, staring ahead, listening to the light taps of rain touching everything it came in contact with. He let out a sigh, not a bored one, but a lonely one. He stood up slowly and made his way towards the kitchen, taking cautious steps, yet, big ones for being so familiarized with his big house. Then he let out a bitter sigh.
Guess you’re not so rich when you don’t have every essential thing in life.
Sweet aroma danced into the cool room and upon hearing the shuffling of feet, he knew it was one of his many hired nurses exiting the cooking room.
“Young Master, it’s time to eat.”
He ignored the tired voice like he did every other day since he moved to live here.
“Young Master, your food is getting cold,” the servant informed dutifully.
“I’m not hungry,” he snapped.
“But Young Master, it is Puyin’s orders that you are to be taken care of….”
He drowned out the rambling voice. Sure, it was his mother’s orders that he gets special attention and care in this holed up place, but she didn’t care. Ever since his incident, he was unable to see. Shunned by society, his parents forced him to move out of the grand house they owned and into another one they purchased some years ago which was vacant. His sister, Jiyoon was off in the States, studying, never came back to see him. Having to live in luxury didn’t satisify his needs, although he had more than enough necessities supplied.
Somewhere in the house, the phone rang.
“Master, it’s for you.”
“Tell whoever it is, I don’t want to speak to them,” he growled.
“But it’s Sunghoon sir.”
“I don’t care. Tell him to not call again.”
Not only had this incident changed his parents but him also. He stayed away from society. Rejected phone calls from his closest friends.
“C’mon! Lemme talk to Jiyong!” Sunghoon’s small voice whined.
“My Master asks that you are to not ever call again,” a servant mocked tartly.
“He didn’t say that! C’mon! Lemme speak to him! You’re not his mother! You can’t control his life! Give him the phone!”
Jiyong reluctantly gave into hearing Sunghoon’s shrill, whining voice and ordered the servant to bring him the phone.
“Jiyong?” Sunghoon smiled, amazed that his friend would speak to him.
“Wuddo you want?!” Jiyong barked.
Sunghoon winced at the response. “How are you?” he asked timidly.
“You called me just to find out how I am doing?! I’m very well, thank you. If there’s nuthin else – ”
“Jiyong, meet me.” Sunghoon blurted.
Jiyong let out a bitter laugh. “Meet? Really Sunghoon. At a time like this, you still manage to be your funny self.”
“No, Jiyong. I’m not trying to be funny. I’m serious. It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen each other and I want to see you.”
“But guess what, Sunghoon? I don’t. Even if I could see you, I still wouldn’t want to. Have a good day.”
“No, wait!” Sunghoon shouted.
“Wut?” Jiyong snapped impatiently.
“Wut if I came to see you?”
A silence came between the two and Sunghoon thought he had won the argument. Only to be let down by a gruff ‘no’ took all the happiness he had started to work up.
“But-But…why not?” he protested.
“Really, Sunghoon. You just dunno when to stop, do you? Don’t call me again. I’m thoroughly annoyed with you. Bye!” Jiyong thundered, slamming down the phone.
Damn kid. Why won’t he just get a life?!
But Jiyong couldn’t blame Sunghoon for being annoying, afterall, he is his best friend. It’s just natural for Sunghoon to be that was when it comes time for him to find things out. He’ll work his way through annoying your nerves and strikes you in your weak spot. He’s a caring kid, but right now, Jiyong just wanted everybody to leave him alone.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Will my son be able to see?” Mrs. Ko shouted hopefully at the doctor.
“Right now, as of the conditions…”
“I don’t care about the conditions! Will my son be able to see again?” the ferocious woman bellowed.
“Honey, let the doctor talk,” her husband said softly, pulling her back.
“I want to know if Jiyong could ever see again! And you want me to calm down?!”
“You won’t be able to find out by yelling at the doctor,” her husband chided.
She glared at her husband before giving the doctor her full attention.
“Right now, our doctors are discussing with scientists and they are coming up with a way to help the blind see. I think Jiyong has a positive chance of regaining his vision.”
Mrs. Ko opened her mouth to say something but closed it again, letting the doctor finish his statement.
“It is new and I can’t guarantee if it’ll work a hundred percent. Do you want Jiyong to be the first patient to test this new technology?”
“No! Of course not! What are you, crazy?!” the woman fired.
“Why not?” Jiyong’s father asked, curious.
“What if insteada curing Jiyong, it worsens his chance of seeing? Don’t you think that’s too risky?”
Her husband nodded in agreement and look at the doctor for consolation.
“Which is why I’m asking you. We don’t have enough evidence to prove anything yet, but just to let you know sumthin is bound to come out and help your son,” the doctor said reassuringly.
Jiyong’s mother beckoned the doctor and smiled for the first time in days.
Jiyong, there is hope. You will be able to see again, my son. You will love Oma for this. You won’t regret Oma’s decisions or hate me for them because they’re for your own good.

Chapter 2
           It happened right on his birthday of last year. His closest friends – Sunghoon, Jiwon, Jaejin, Jaeduk and Suwon – all five of them chipped in money to buy him a new car. The very car he was desperately in love with. It was a red, chic Toyota Supra he thought only real racecar devils owned.
Of all friends, who could have known him better? Sunghoon, of course. It was his idea to buy Jiyong a gift that would only mean life to him. His sister who was long gone from his life, missed out on the celebration. Turning eighteen, right on that day, was absolutely the best day of his life. Until he decided to test drive his car.
Jiyong was a little racer himself. On the highways, he taunted Jiwon about driving too slow and when it was his turn at the wheel…Let’s just say, he’s the main reason why seatbelts were invented.
Time drew close to 2 a.m. and the party poopers were really pooped, Jiyong escorted them out the door and had one of his servants drive them home. It was deep in the night when Jiyong retired to bed and in his room he grew restless by the minute. Time slowly ticked to five in the morning and as the adrenaline pumped through his arms, he made up his mind to go drive his car.
It was all silent throughout the house. His parents cuddled in bed, sound asleep and the servants were in their quarters napping their precious seconds away. Jiyong jiggled his keys to the brand new Supra and stoled away in the night. He tiptoed out to the garage and quickly slid into his car. It was just pure paradise. He back out of the driveway and out onto the track.
His parents built a track for him and his sister. Way back when Jiyoon was only eight or so, claimed she wanted horse back riding lessons. She got her wish. Two years later, she wanted something else and pretty much, the track was abandoned. Up until when Jiyong reached eight.
On weekends, he’d take his bike outside and race around, goofing off with Sunghoon and Jiwon. Then from bicycles to motorcycles, from that to cars and the chain goes on! It was in his blood…he was born to race.
He now rounded the car and faced the opened arena. Slowly, he circled aound the track then picking up speed, he skidded to a stop. He sat in his car, shifted his gear and zoomed off again. He skidded again and came to another halt.
Finally making up his mind, he set forth in his car and drove off, the wind screaming in his ears. Within an instant, he wasn’t even sure if he was still on the track.
The sensation being too overwhelming.
Everything went by him in a blur. The sounding screech of the wind pierced his ears, his heart beating rapidly against his ribcage.
Suddenly, he felt himself flying. He felt himself jerk forward and his brain pulling in the back of his head. He heard a terrible screech of metallic against concrete and raised his hands to cover his ears. Only to find that he couldn’t move them.
He looked down at his arms, which were pinned to his sides and felt crushed in the car. Glancing out the window he decided he must have crashed into a spider web (due to the cracked window). Then peering through the side window, he saw the most disturbing sight.
He was upside down!
But how could this be?! he wondered.
As he waited for help to arrive, he prayed hopefully the servants heard the loud scrape of his car against the graveled ground. Seconds dragged to minutes and minutes dragged onto hours. His world started blacking out. He batted his eyes to keep himself awake, but he wasn’t tired at all. The first rays of light began to dim and soon, he was engulfed in pure darkness.

Chapter 3
           “OOOOOOOMMMMMMAAAAAAAA!”
“HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!”
“OOOOOOOMMMMMMAAAAAAAA!”
“You have to keep still,” an attending nurse commanded sternly.
“OOOMMMAAAAA!”
Mrs. Ko sobbed as she watched her son being wheeled away to the emergency room on the hospital bed.
That morning she had awaken to a frenzy in house. Servants ran about, shouting orders and suggestions at each other. She heard her name being mentioned several times and hurried downstairs to see the uprising riot.
Of all things, she found her son’s eyes squeezed shut and servants around him. His arms laid in a strange position and blood soaked his shirt. He could only mumble ‘Oma’ and then start screaming like a madman. She rushed to her delirious son and realized he was in shock. She slapped him twice and his eyes popped open. He gazed at her momentarily before letting his head loll off to side. She watched his eyes roll to the back of his head, lasping into the state of unconsiousness before letting out a bloodcurdling scream.
She had no idea how long she kneeled on the floor, screaming her son’s name and desperately trying to shake him awake.
The ambulance arrived without her notice, by then she could only utter her son’s name. As attendants pulled her away from the motionless body of her son, the only thing that ran through her mind was, What happened?
To think someone had deliberately set out to harm her son sent a chill coursing up her spine.
But who would do this kind of a thing? she wondered.

*~*~*~*~*~*

The doctors rushed about in the operating room, trying to calm Jiyong down. His cries grew more frantic and desperate by the minute. His arms rested by his side, ached and burned as if it was on fire. Shots were injected and more screams and cries erupted from him. Slowly, his voice died; him, falling into a deep sleep.
He was quickly stripped of his bloody attire and the usual rountine of the emergency room was once again performed. The nurses cleaned him up good and then he was observed by several doctors. They all came to the same conclusion that nothing was physically wrong with the boy, at least not visibly to the naked eye. Except for his arms and legs.
His arms lost their senses from staying in the car too long and his legs were crushed from the sudden landing of the car. But other than that, they haven’t found anything majorly wrong with him. Soon he was wheeled away to the ‘critical condition’ section of the hospital.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Day faded into night and the stay at the hospital was tiring. Mrs. Ko looked down at her only son, who was sleeping angelically on his hospital bed. She smoothed his hair back, fighting back tears. She had learned of her servants that he was found in his car. Flipped! He was still conscious, but in shock. His arms bled and a gash formed on the side of his face.
They, too, were clueless as to how the Young Master ended up in his new car, flipped and dazed.
“O…oma…”
Mrs. Ko shook off the bothersome thoughts and looked at her son.
“O…oma…” he moaned, his eyes fluttering.
“Jiyong,” his mother murmured, caressing her son’s bony hand.
“O..o..omaaaa…”
“Mom’s here. Open your eyes, baby.”
As if a robot, Jiyong’s eyes opened mechanically and wandered, not focusing on anything.
“Jiyong, how do you feel?”
“Mom…where am I?” he whispered hoarsely.
“You dunno?”
Jiyong shook his head vainly.
“You’re in the hospital.”
“Hospital? For wut?!”
He has no idea…
“For wut, Mom?!” Jiyong repeated.
“You were in an accident.”
“Accident? Wut accident? Mom! Wut happened to me?”
“Wut were you doing in your car early in the morning?” she questioned, the sudden anger returning.
“Morning? Wut are you talking about?”
“Don’t mess with me! Wut were you doing in your car early this morning?!”
Jiyong paused before answering. “This morning? I was test driving my car.”
“You were doing WHAT?”
“Test driving my car.”
She felt cold. She thought she was about to faint upon hearing the crazy excuse her son had offered her.
“Mom, why is it so dark in here?”
Mrs. Ko gazed down at her son, watching his unfocused eyes still wandering.
“Mom?”
“Whaddid you just say?” she asked, feeling faint.
“Why is it so dark here?”
“Dark?” she echoed, her heart raced.
“Yeah. Is the power out?”
Mrs. Ko glanced at the light that stood on the table next to the bed and up at the dimly lit light of the room. “How many fingers am I holding up?” she asked, her voice wavering.
“Fingers? Mom, stop playing games. You’re not holding anything up. Or I can’t see if you are. Turn on the light.”
Her deepest fear was confirmed. She waved her hand over Jiyong’s wide eyes and still, his eyes wandered of a lost child.
“Mom, what are you doing?”
“Look at me, Jiyong,” she choked, hearing her voice shake.
“I can’t see you, Mom. It’s too dark. Shouldn’t it be afternoon now? I remember I went down to my car at five.”
“Jiyong, it’s eleven right now,” she informed, her voice thick.
“At night?!”
His mother nodded.
“I was sleeping for that long!?” he screeched.
“I thought you weren’t going to wake up,” she said softly to herself.
“Say wut, Oma?”
“Nuthin…”
“Can you at least turn on a light? It’s getting annoyingly dark in here.”
“But…Jiyong…the lights are turned on.”
Silence.
“Jiyong?”
Jiyong’s ashen face was still like a stone. His eyes stopped wandering and stared straight up at the ceiling.
“Wut are you saying?”
“Ji…”
“How are we doing?”
Mrs. Ko turned at the cheery voice. A doctor strolled in, clicking his pen with a clipboard at his side.
“Wuz wrong with me, doctor?” Jiyong asked gruffly.
“Wrong? You haven’t given me the chance to look at you yet,” the doctor answered with a chuckle.
“Well, can you get to it!?” Jiyong snapped.
The doctor raised an amused brow at the still body that laid on the bed. “Very well,” he replied, setting down his clipboard and pen. Mrs. Ko stepped away from the bed and sat in a chair close to her son. The doctor quickly examined Jiyong and shook his head.
“Follow my finger,” the doctor instructed with a sigh, already knowing Jiyong was blind.
“I can’t see anything. It’s too dark,” Jiyong complained.
Mrs. Ko chewed on her botton lip from crying out loud. Her son was blind and there was nothing she could do to help or comfort him. He’s an invalid.
“I’ll let you rest now. I’ll come back again to check on you tomorrow,” the doctor informed with a nod, motioning for Jiyong’s mother.
“Jiyong, Oma will be back tomorrow.
“I’m blind,” Jiyong stated flatly, finally realizing what was going on.
Mrs. Ko froze.
“I’m blind,” Jiyong repeated in the same cool tone. “Isn’t that right?”
“Ji…”
“TELL ME!”
“YES, JIYONG!” Mrs. Ko screamed, her voice cracking.
The room was silent except for his mother’s violent sobs. Her shoulders heaved with every intake of breath and the doctor patted her softly on the back.
“Good night, Oma.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

It seemed like only yesterday when he was in the hospital, trying to accept the new concept of himself being blind. His mother’s last minute love for him. His last time ‘seeing’ his friends. His last time living like a ‘normal’ person.
He shook off the grim memories and retired to his room. Leaving his food to cool as he did every other day.

Chapter 4 

“Looking for a caretaker…”
“Wutcha looking at, Chomee?”
Chomee looked up from the newspaper and at her classmate, Miyoung. “I need a job.”
“Are there any good ones?”
“I’m looking at one. But I’m not so sure about it,” Chomee said with a frown, pointing at the ad.
Miyoung peered over Chomee’s shoulder and giggled.
“Wuz so funny?” Chomee demanded.
“I can’t believe they have the nerve to put out an ad like that,” Miyoung said disgustingly, shaking her head.
“What, why?” Chomee fired eagerly, jumping up and down.
Miyoung regarded Chomee strangely. “Oh, yeah! You’re from Pusan. I keep thinking you’re from here. You’ve never heard of any rich people down there?”
Chomee shook her head, confused.
“Well, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about the accident involving a boy about our age, possibly older.”
Again, Chomee shook her head.
“You haven’t?!” Miyong shrieked.
“What is it? Tell me!” Chomee pleaded.
“Ko Jiyong – ” Miyoung started.
“Wait! I’ve heard about him! Wasn’t he like really, really smart and his nuna’s in the States studying?”
“Uh-huh. Anyways, that’s him,” Miyoung replied, pointing at the newspaper.
“But why does he need an extra caretaker? Isn’t he rich?” Chomee implied, waving the newspaper.
“He’s blind,” Miyoung whispered.
Chomee gasped, horrified.
“It happened last year. He was driving and he got into an accident. I think he was racing again,” Miyoung guessed.
“So, now…”
“His parents kicked him out of the house,” Miyoung continued.
“They did?!” Chomee shouted, her heart wrenching with pain. “But why?!”
“Guess they can’t deal with a handicapped son,” Miyoung answered with a shrug.
“Poor kid,” Chomee said remorsefully.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“GET OUT!!!!”
The servants stumbled out of the room before Jiyong picked anything up to hurl at them.
“Master! Let us in! We need to clean your room!”
“I don’t want it clean! Go clean your rooms!” Jiyong roared.
The sound of the phone interrupted the quarrel.
“Yeboseyo?” a scared servant squeaked into the phone.
“Sangah ni?” a familiar voice barked.
“N-Neh…” Sangah replied fearfully, recognizing Mrs. Ko’s voice.
“Where’s Jiyong!?”
“Master’s up in his room,” Sangah choked.
“I want you to scrub the house clean. There will be a new girl working with you. She’s coming tomorrow. Hear?”
“Y-Y-Yes.”
Mrs. Ko hung up without further comment and turned to her husband.
“Do you think she’ll be our answer to help Jiyong?”
“I dunno. She sounded pretty sincere and honest when I spoke with her on the phone,” Mrs. Ko commented lightly.
“How old is she?”
“Quite young. Sixteen or seventeen.”
“She’s younger than Jiyong?!” Mr. Ko exclaimed, surprised.
Mrs. Ko shrugged. “We’ll give it a try, if she’s not good, then we’ll dismiss her.”
“Try? What could she do?”
“Don’t underestimate the powers of a girl,” his wife warned, drawing out a stick of cigarette.
“What’s her name?” Mr. Ko finally asked.
“Yoon Chomee,” his wife replied as she exhaled, blowing out a steam of smoke, her eyes tracing it as it disappeared in thin air.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Miyoung! Miyoung! I got it! I got it!” Chomee yelped gleefully.
“Wut, wut? Wuddid you get?!” Miyoung’s voice raised with alarm.
“I got the job! I got the job!”
“Job?” Miyoung echoed, batting her eyes in confusion.
“C’min!”
Miyoung appeared in the doorway of Chomee’s room. “What’s going on?”
Chomee pointed at the newspaper on her bed, “I got the job!”
“Being Jiyong’s personal slave?” Miyoung raised a brow.
“No!”
“Then wut do you call it? You’re going to his house, alone, a girl above all that and if you’re not serving him, then what do you call that? I don’t think he has enough room for a girlfriend. Especially not after Susan dumped his ass.”
“Susan?”
“His girlfriend.”
“How do you know so much?”
“My father works with his and my brother liked his sister,” Miyoung shrugged.
“Lemme guess. You liked him,” Chomee taunted.
Miyoung lowered her head as her face boiled. Chomee let out a deep chuckle and pulled her friend in her room.
“You’re so mean,” Miyoung finally said.
“No, not mean. Just nosy,” Chomee corrected, watching the color of Miyoung’s face elevate to crimison. “His girlfriend…Was she like his mother too?” Chomee probed.
“She’s a gold digger. She only went out with him because their parents know each other and she wanted him for his money and good looks,” Miyoung snickered, making a face.
“I sense that you know an awful lot about them,” Chomee sang.
“I used to go to school with them. That was when Jiyoon was still here before some school up in Boston offered her a scholarship.”
Chomee gasped. “Was she really that smart? What school was it?”
Miyoung squinted at the question. “Harvard, I think it was,” she said uncertainly.
“Damn her. I wish I was that smart.”
“And rich,” Miyoung added.
“What about Susan?” Chomee inquired, switching back to the subject.
“Nuthin. She just never called him or anything. She didn’t even stop his mother from kicking him out of the house.”
“That is so mean. My mother would never let me out of her sight if I was in his shoes,” Chomee tsked.
“Well, your mother’s different from rich mothers. She had already lost so much, how could she afford to lose you?”
Chomee remained silent, thinking of her mother that laid on her deathbed back at home in Pusan. Day by day, her health status declined. She coughed and wheezed like an old woman, yet she was only forty. Hardly any aging signs. Chomee gave up going to doctors. They were all the same. They were either cheats or stupid people that can’t tell the difference between a cold and an illness.
“Chomee.”
Chomee jolted back to the present. “Huh?”
“Thinking ’bout your mom again?”
“I hope she’ll forgive me,” Chomee whispered as her mother’s face of disapproval flashed in front of her.

Chapter 5 

“Ahnyonghaseyo.” Chomee curtsied, peering through her lashes at the stone faced woman.
“Are you Chomee Yoon?” the woman spoke flatly, observing Chomee.
“Neh,” Chomee replied politely.
The eyes narrowed to silts as they continued to roam freely over her body. “Do you know who you are working for?”
“For the Ko family?” Chomee answered with a question.
“For my son. You are to take care of him. He is blind and needs special care. His nurse couldn’t attend to him anymore, so you’ll be in place of her, understand?”
Chomee nodded.
“Very good.” Mrs. Ko smiled coldly.
“Are you Yoon Shikbae’s daughter?” Mr. Ko interrupted.
Chomee’s eyes widened at her father’s name.
Mrs. Ko threw a piercing glance at her husband. “I think it’s best that we get going. We don’t want Jiyong to be waiting.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” Mr. Ko said hurriedly, his eyes glued on Chomee.
“Did you bring any luggage?” Mrs. Ko inquired, getting up from her throne.
“I didn’t know I was to live – ”
“It’s okay. We’ll drive you home and pick that up on our way,” Mrs. Ko cut off.
“Am I to live there?” Chomee questioned.
“I thought we made it clear,” Mrs. Ko replied briskly.
“Noooo,” Chomee drawled. “You only asked to see me and said we’ll go over the options and the requirements.”
“You have to live with Jiyong and attend his needs. It’ll be more convenient if you lived in the house and don’t worry about your salary. Is four hundred a month enough?”
Chomee’s eyes bulged at the offered amount. “Four hundred? As in Migook tonl? Or won?”
“Do you think I am that meager? I’ll give another two hundred if you can stay more than two years.”
Chomee nodded her head vigorously. She didn’t care about what her mother thought anymore. Four hundred dollars a month was more than enough to cover both her mother’s future medical bills and her school tuition!
“Very good. Now, we will go see Jiyong,” Mrs. Ko beckoned.
Chomee tailed behind the tall woman as she made her royal exit to the garage. Her quiet husband fell into step beside Chomee and he tugged at her arm. “Is your father Yoon Shikbae?” he whispered.
Chomee gazed up at the giant and nodded briefly.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Hurry! Puyin will be here any minute!”
A parade of feet stomped up the stairs and the servants busied themselves by making last minute preparations. Jiyong, who sat in his messy room, was thoroughly annoyed. So what if his mother came? It’s not like she was the President or anything. Since yesterday, the whole house was upside down. Windows and floors were scrubbed and washed over and over again. Dishes, laundry, the rooms were all cleaned. They practically sanitized the whole place and his room…nobody had dared to step in.
“Jiyong,” his personal servant’s voice rang out in harmony.
“Wut?” he replied with an edge in his voice.
“Would you like to see your mother?”
“Do I need to remind you? I’m blind.”
“You know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t. Tell her I don’t wanna see her. I’m sleeping.”
“You’re gonna have to face her, you know. Might as well get it over with.”
“I’m not up to it. I’m tired.”
“Fine. I’ll be cooking your favorite and you can eat it after your mother leaves.”
“Agreed.”
The servant disappeared to the kitchen. Moments later the doorbell chimed. Mrs. Ko made her grand entrance with her husband accompanying her and Chomee still trailing behind with her head bent low.
Chomee surveyed the grand hall of the enormous house and gawk openly at the vastness of the place.
This is a maze.
Just two days ago she thought she was prepared to handle all the surprises and shocks awaiting her, but to think this was beyond imagination. This isn’t an ordinary house. It was a castle. It instantly reminded her of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Miyoung tattled on deep in the night and even in her sleep, she could still hear her friend’s chipper chatter.
“Don’t forget to call me when Jiyong picks on you. Or for anything else,” her close companion reminded her, as she was leaving.
“I will,” she promised, pinching Miyoung slightly on the cheeks.
“Jiyong tends to have a temper. So watch it. Out yell him if you have to. He likes to think of himself as ‘King’ of the Jungle.” Miyoung smiled through shimmering tears.
With that in mind, Chomee left. Now she was standing in the living room that sparkled around her, overlooking the driveway.
“This is Chomee. She’ll be looking after Jiyong,” Mrs. Ko introduced.
Chomee gazed at the row of servants that lined up before her and nodded tentatively.
Turning to Chomee, “If there is anything you need, just ask Jiyong’s personal servant, everybody calls her Ajuma. She’ll tell you everything.”
Chomee nodded again, her eyes fixed on the woman.
“Alright then. I’ll leave you here.” Turning to the servant, she added, “Send Jiyong my regards.”
All heads bowed simultaneously as Mrs. Ko glided out of the room.
“Are you really Master Jiyong’s new maid?” a girl piped as soon as Mrs. Ko was out of earshot.
Chomee whirled around at the voice. “No. I’m his nurse.”
“Same thing.”
“Wuteva you say,” Chomee muttered beneath her breath.
“Here. Bring this up to Jiyong. I have to go get sumthin real quick,” Ajuma announced, sauntering over to the crowd of maids with a tray in her hands. As quick as lightening, the group backed away, leaving Chomee to stand in the open by herself.
“I’ll bring it,” she offered, feeling awkward.
“No, It’s Sangah’s job to do so.”
“But I don’t wanna go!” a shrill voice cried out.
“I’ll go. Which room is it?” Chomee insisted, taking the tray from the old woman.
“If you don’t wanna go, at least show her where the room is,” Ajuma said as she pointed at a girl who Chomee assumed was Sangah.
Sangah nodded eagerly and motioned for Chomee to follow her. Chomee flopped after the girl in her summer sandals and looked back at her suitcase.
“It’ll be in your room,” Ajuma answered, reading her mind.
Chomee ascended the dark, gloomy stairs, which supposedly led to Jiyong’s room.
“He-He-He’s in there,” Sangah stammered, her face white as a sheet of paper. She quickly darted down the stairs and disappeared.
Chomee watched the little body bounce away before pushing the door open. The room was filthy and the strong stale stench nearly knocked her out. She slowly made her way into his room, taking small cautious steps. Balancing the tray with both hands, she managed to have found her way into his room without tripping over things that have been careless thrown all over the floor.
Making out in the dark, Jiyong’s still figure, she gradually settled the tray down on a table in front him and gently tapped on his shoulder. “Time to eat,” she murmured softly.
Jiyong turned to the new voice, somewhat curious and startled, and stared blanky in Chomee’s direction. “Get out,” he whispered just as softly.
When Chomee didn’t move, he overturned the tray and yelled for her to leave. Chomee shrieked as the scalding liquid nearly came in contact with her skin and backed into one corner of his room.
To her surprise, he rose from his chair. She found him amazingly tall like his parents and from the angle she was looking at him, he was remarkably handsome. Without warning, Jiyong stalked forward, nearly stepping on the tray. Chomee made a hasty grab for the wet bowl that was about to come in his way and scurried back to her place in the corner. He continued his way towards the door, his arms still by his side. She saw an alarm clock lay lifelessly in his path and again, made a grab for it, not realizing her mistake. Like a hawk, Jiyong’s head snapped around and his arm sliced through the air, seizing Chomee’s arm. He pulled her up from her hiding place and close to him.
“Who the hell are you?!” Jiyong demanded dangerously, his hand squeezing Chomee’s wrist.
Chapter 6 

“I-I-I’m Cho-Chomee,” Chomee stammered, fear climbing up her throat.
“Chomee? I dunno no Chomee! What are you doing here?! Who are you!? Did my mother send you out here? GET OUT! I don’t want to hear of you again! OUT!” Jiyong thundered, pushing Chomee to the door.
Chomee ran downstairs, sobbing. She ran as far as her legs could carry her. Her tears blurred her vision, but she didn’t care. Running into the beautiful garden, which was another part of the castle Jiyong lived in, she plotted herself on the ground and brawled her eyes out.
Now I know how Cinderella feels.
And she truly did. The soft curls of her black, ebony hair clung to her gentle jaw and provided a shade to her eyes. Her hair was always short and shaggy which made her felt worse than the fairy tale princess. Her mousy personality made things even worse. Back in grade school, kids always teased and taunted her. When she ascended to middle school, girls made fun of her and boys stayed away from her. All because she was too shy and petrified of people.
Now with her mother’s illness and her needy of money to go to school, she had no other choice but to serve other people. She knew that if her mother found out, she would die of a heart attack. But Chomee refused to be like her father, who acted like a fool and gambled his life away. Instead of winning fortunes from other people, he lost his money, jewelry, house. And even Chomee and his wife. He betted his wife and only child for a measle dollar and in the end, he lost. Realizing what he had done, he went around looking for jobs and asking people for loans.
Borrowing is easy, but what about returning?
He lost bet after bet and still asked for money. His so-called ‘friends’ were, of course, glad to help him. They gave him large amounts of money and knowing that he could never repay them back, they bargained with him for his priceless treasures, such as Chomee for one.
When her father refused to give Chomee’s future hand in marriage to anyone, chaos broke out. Demanding hands reached for his empty pockets and angry shouts of ‘money’ echoed. He couldn’t even produce a single won and there he knew he was going to be well rested.
Chomee, who was only eight at the time, remembered the frightening sight of her brutually beaten father. Blood coarsed down his chin and one eye was swollen shut. He staggered forward to her and she remembered screaming her lungs out. He fell face forward and landed at her feet. Evil laughter filled the room as he whispered something to her.
“Chomee…”
“Appa…” she sobbed, holding his dying body in her thin arms.
“Tell…Tell…o..omoni…Tell her…I’m…I’m…soh…sorreeeee….” he wheezed.
“Appa…” Chomee cried.
“Chomeeee….Sa..Sa…Sara…Sarang..hae…haeyo….” he breathed.
The body went limp beneath her arms. He stopped breathing and time stood still. Roars of laughter still circulated the room and Chomee glared hatefully at each and every individual in there with her. Among the hated ones was her father. She hated him for leaving her. She hated him for leaving her mother. She hated him for gambling. She hated him for everything.
She closed her eyes and whispered a ‘sarang hae, appa’ and freed herself from his heavy corpse. A pair of strong arms lifted her and she let out a surprised yelp.
“Now the old fart’s dead. His daughter’s rightfully mine!”
“What are you saying! She should be mine!”
“No! She is mine!”
“Mine!”
“No! Mine!”
Chomee struggled against the arms that held her high in the air. Her legs swung back and forth and finally she kicked the man hard in the back of his head, causing him to drop her.
A stampede toward the girl resulted in a wild combat. Men and women tore at each other’s clothes in attempt to grab Chomee but she darted out the warehouse before anyone could even catch the sight of her. She ran back home as she always did after a day’s play to eat her mother’s beautiful and delicious cooking. She ran into the house panting like a frightened fawn.
“Ma!” she shouted, entering the house.
“Chomee? What are you – ” her mother started, coming out to greet her.
“Ma! We have to leave! The people that Appa owe money to are coming after us!”
She watched her mother blanch at the news. She covered her mouth and looked tearfully at the child.
“Oma! We have to go! NOW! I saw them kill Appa and now they’re coming for us!” Chomee shouted, shaking her mother’s hand.
Without further thought, Chomee spun around and bolted the doors and windows. She closed the blinds and the curtains, preventing her pursuers from looking in. Her mother ran into the bedrooms and quickly reappeared with two suitcases.
“I knew this day would come! I just knew! Chomee! Quick! Out the cellar,” her mother instructed, heading to the kitchen.
Chomee obeyed her mother silently and held onto the small suitcase her mother carried in one hand.
Her mother dumped the food she prepared for dinner into three containers, leaving some to throw intruders off track. She stuffed the containers and two forks into a plastic bag and handed it to Chomee.
Slipping her thin arm through the handle of the bag, Chomee threw back the rug that covered the secret staircase to the cellar. Throwing the contained food down, she pulled the stairs out beneath her and slid down. Her mother followed and managed to cover the trapdoor as best as she could with the rug.
“Break the stairs, Chomee,” her mother whispered, tugging on the luggages.
“I can’t. I’m too small.”
Her mother stepped forward and yanked on the wooden steps. It gave way easily and crashed against the cement flooring. “Let’s go!”
Chomee nodded in agreement. She picked up the plastic bag and grasp onto her mother’s freezing hand. They tunneled through the cellar like moles and above them, they could hear angry outbursts and curses of Chomee’s stalkers and glasses breaking.
They’re in the house, Chomee thought, feeling a sudden chill.
Sensing her daughter’s fear, Jinjoo held the child closer. “Don’t worry. They won’t find us.”
Feeling safe and assured in her mother’s embrace, Chomee knew her mother wasn’t lying. They hopped into the silver Lexus her father had bought her mother a few years back for her birthday.
“This is probably the best gift your Appa has ever gotten me,” Jinjoo said with a laugh, starting the engine.
“Oma..I thought you sold the car,” Chomee implied in a strange voice.
“What are you, nuts?! Of course not! I hid it here ever since your Appa started gambling.”
“You knew this was going to happen?” Chomee asked increduously.
“You are too naïve,” her mother commented, smiling.
“Guess I don’t watch enough t.v.” Chomee shrugged.
“You’re right. You don’t,” her mother agreed, laughing.
“Where are we going now, Oma?” Chomee asked, changing the subject.
The brows scrunched at the question. “Only one place now. Where nobody knows us,” her mother replied quietly.
“Where’s that?”
“Pusan,” her mother murmured, driving into the sunset.

Chapter 7 

“Miss Chomee…”
Chomee dried her eyes and looked up at the soothing voice.
“Miss Chomee, don’t take it too hard. That’s the way how our Master is. He wasn’t like this before the accident. His mother…” the servant trailed off.
Chomee dried her tears and stood up. “Please, Ajuma. Tell me more. What of his mother?”
“His mother didn’t want him around and so she sent him away. It was terrible of her to do so. We all thought it was. She sent us out here to care for him and day by day he grew bitter. His sister’s away and…oh dear,” the servant’s voice shook.
“But why would he need someone to look after with all of you here serving him?” Chomee asked, disturbed with the thought.
“Many of us are leaving. Some can’t take it anymore. Many of them were too scared. I find it fortunate that nobody’s killed living here,” the servant stated matter-of-factly.
“Why?” Chomee frowned, strolling down the the aisle of the big garden.
“He’s always throwing things. And you know how he can’t see! He could have just easily hit anyone!”
Chomee giggled at the servant’s explanation. “Are you staying?”
“I have to. I have children back at home starving and cold. They need the money to go to school and I can’t leave! I’ve been with Master Jiyong ever since he was born! I practically raised him and his mother probably doesn’t even know him as well as I do!”
“You’re doing this because of money, too?” Chomee mumbled.
“What was that, Miss Chomee?”
“Oh! Nuthin!” Chomee smiled sheepishly.
“Plus, even if I planned on leaving, I would have to teach you how to do a lot of things.” Ajuma sighed.
“Like how to cook his favorite food?” Chomee winked.
“I think Jiyong may come to like you.” The old servant winked just as mischievously.

Chapter 8 

Susan stood in front of the mirror, taking in the beautiful image that reflected of her own. She clicked her tongue with satisfaction as she ran her eyes over the lower half of her body, eyeing her shoes in particular. She turned to the empty seat behind her, forgetting she came shopping alone.
Damn…I miss Jiyong already, she thought dreadfully.
Her smile overturned to a frown at the thought but was still content with her selection without Jiyong’s help. She paid for the shoes and strolled briskly out of the store.
She glanced idly at the window displays, grappling at the empty space next to her. She found herself groping for Jiyong’s invisble hand and looked down at her bag, embarrassed by the situation. She casually entered an apparel store and fiddled around with the garments that hung on the racks.
“By yourself?” a voice behind her snickered.
She whirled around to find Jiwon leaning against one of the racks with a look of disgust on his face.
“Wuddo you want?” she asked acidly, facing the other direction, avoiding his eyes.
“I find it surprising. Jiyong, not with you?” Jiwon faked a gasp, glaring at Susan.
“That’s a stupid question.” Susan semi-laughed, looking out the corner of her eyes.
“Really? I don’t even recall asking you a question,” Jiwon retorted.
Susan rolled her eyes. “Wuddo you want?”
“Kiss my ass.”
Susan was stunned by the response.
“You heard me. Bow down to Jiyong’s too while you’re at it.”
Susan reeled around to face him. “You are one little bastard,” she said through grinded teeth.
“Not a bigger bitch than you are. Admit it. You never liked Jiyong.”
“Wussit to you if I didn’t?”
“Nuthin. It’s a shame how Jiyong couldn’t see through that pretty face of yours and tell right away that you’re an ugly hag with an empty heart.”
“Well, I guess he chose not to.”
“Nah, I think he finally saw how ugly you really are and was blinded instantly.”
Susan’s mouth was filled with a sour taste at the insult. “Get away from me.”
“I don’t have a disease. I’m completely harmless. Can’t you see? Or are you just as blind as Jiyong? Or possibly worse?” Jiwon mused, tilting his head to one side.
“You know what? Go suck a cock,” Susan fired, pushing past him.
“I think that’s your job, slut,” Jiwon shot back, pulling Susan back.
“Let go of me!” Susan screeched, swatting Jiwon’s arm.
“You’re coming with me! I think Jiyong’ll be quite surprised to hear from you,” Jiwon sneered, wrestling with Susan’s thin arms.
“If…If you don’t let go…I’ll scream!” she threatened weakly.
“Think I care? I’ll just yell right back!”
Susan clammed her lips shut as Jiwon dragged her out of the store. Right when they stepped over the threshold, Susan squeezed her eyes shut and let out the most loudest and deafening scream ever heard by anyone.
She felt the tight grasp around her wrist loosen and a sudden rush of wind brush past her face. Her voice was suddenly caught and she couldn’t scream anymore. She opened her eyes and found a surrounding crowd of people around her and Jiwon yelling at her (he really wasn’t kidding).
“It’s just a damn cockaroach! Do you have to scream your life out?! If only you can scream like that when we’re in bed together! Dumb bitch!”
Susan clapped her hands over her flaming cheeks only to find them stinging like she had been slapped.            “C’MON!” Jiwon bellowed, reaching for her wrist again.
She trailed after him willingly and realized a moment later that he had smacked her. “You bastard!” she suddenly shouted, pushing him from behind.
“Da hell?!”
“You fucking slapped me!” she accused, throwing a shaking finger in his face.
“Boy, you’re awfully slow if you just knew that now,” Jiwon whistled.
“Er, you!” Susan snarled through gritted teeth, flailing her fists at him.
“If you don’t stop, I’ll beat you!”
Susan jumped back from him, taking his word. “Wuddo you want from me?”
“Go home. I’m getting tired,” Jiwon said cooly. He decided it wasn’t torture to Susan, but torture to Jiyong to hear from the materialistic bimbo.
“Tired? Is this your idea of some game?” Susan shrieked, stalking closer to him.
“I guess. Get outta my face!” he thundered, shoving Susan away.
“Ugh! Don’t touch me!” Susan frowned, brushing her shoulder where Jiwon had just touched her.
“You think I wanted to? You’re contaminated. Dunno wut Jiyong saw in you,” Jiwon sneered, wrinkling his nose.
“You’re just jealous.” Susan smiled wickedly.
“Of him and you?!” Jiwon scoffed. “I rather go out with Sunghoon’s mother than go out with you!”
“Ewww…she’s all old and wrinkled,” Susan squeaked with disgust.
Jiwon shrugged at the comment and began to walk away. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jeans and strolled in the direction they had just come in.
“Jiwon! I really like Jiyong! Honest! I’m not lying!” she shouted after him, hoping he would turn back.
But Jiwon continued forward, without looking back at her nor give her any sign that he had heard her last statement.

Chapter 9 

Chomee surveyed her small but comfortable room. She settled in with no problem and became fast friends with the servants. She stared longingly at the picture of her and her mother that stood on the corner of her table. Next to it was a family picture taken a lot of years back. She giggled at the snapshot which portrayed a toothless, goofy grin from her and her parents looking so heavenly in love with their darling child.
Appa….Oma…
A soft knocking at the door interrupted her thoughts.
“Yes?” Chomee murmured, pulling the door open.
“Do you wish to eat in your room or in the dining hall, miss?” Sangah whispered, poking her head through the door.
“Why are we whispering?”
“I dunno.” Sangah shrugged.
“I’ll eat in the hall,” Chomee answered with a smile.
Sangah returned the smile and motioned for Chomee to follow her. Chomee stepped out of her room and closed the door firmly behind her. Sangah led her to a wide hall where everybody was seated and ready to eat. Chomee looked over at the packed table and noticed Jiyong wasn’t there.
“Where’s Jiyong?”
“He doesn’t eat with us,” Sangah informed with her mouth full.
“Does he ever eat?” Chomee inquired, remembering his bony arms.
“Even if he does, we wouldn’t know.”
Chomee raked her hand through her bangs and sat down to join the festivity. The food looked ravishly inviting and made Chomee’s mouth water. She scuffed down the food like she hadn’t eaten in days and grinned impishly when she looked up from her bowl.
“Aiya, Chomee! You’re done already?” Ajuma gasped, peering into Chomee’s bowl.
“Hehe…” she winked.
“Be careful! You’ll choke at the rate you’re going!” Ajuma scolded, instantly reminding Chomee of her mother.
“What’s Jiyong gonna eat?” Chomee asked quietly, pushing her bowl away.
“Jiyong?” Ajuma drawled as if trying to remember who her master was.
“Yeah. Rice, too?”
“His food’s in the kitchen. I’ll bring it up.” Ajuma swallowed another mouthful of rice.
“No, Ajuma!” Chomee objected, jumping up from her seat.
All eyes turn to her with a questioning look.
“I mean, I’ll bring it up. Since I’m done eating and you’re tired with the day’s work…” Chomee desperately groped for words.
Ajuma let out a deep chuckle and patted Chomee’s hand, “Don’t worry. I know what you mean. It’s on the tray. Just go right in and you’ll see it.”
Chomee collected her bowl and chopsticks, backing out of her seat, headed for the kitchen. She gently placed the china in the sink along with the chopsticks and lifted Jiyong’s tray.
She ventured out of the kitchen, taking a shorter path to Jiyong’s room through the back stairs. She held her breath as she kicked his door open upon arrival and slid the tray onto his dresser.
“Jiyong sir,” she called out.
The blinds in the room were drawn and Chomee could make out a silhouette on the far end of the room. She tiptoed to the still torso, cautious of making any sounds, picking up thrown clothes as she went along. As she neared the silent figure in the chair, she realized he had fallen asleep waiting for his dinner. Letting him sleep on peacefully, Chomee deposit the clothes she had just gathered into a basket. She pushed the opposite chair that faced him against the wall, giving her room to move about. She threw fearful glances at the giant that snored softly in her presence, afraid his anger would erupt unexpectedly.
“Chomee?”
Chomee’s ears pricked at the familiar voice.
“Did you give him his dinner?”
Chomee let out a breath of relief and tiptoed back to the entrance of Jiyong’s room. “He fell asleep,” she whispered through the cracked door.
“No wonder you’re in there for so long. He wouldn’t even have me in there for more than three minutes. You’re a piece of art,” Ajuma complimented, looking smug.
“I’m gonna clean up his room while he’s asleep,” said Chomee.
“Good idea. We can never get to it…Even when he’s asleep, we still can’t get in without coming back out with some sort of an injury. Did you knock him out?”
“You’re funny, Ajuma.”
“Guess not.” The elderly woman shrugged, answering her own question.
“Does he need fresh sheets?”
“The boy needs everything freshened out! Even himself!”
Chomee looked at Ajuma incredulously. “You mean to say Jiyong’s been living up here without a shower or a bath?”
“That’s what I’ve been thinking,” Ajuma grunted.
“Help me change the sheets and everything, I’ll straighten the furniture and clothes away,” Chomee bargained.
“Good. Let me get Sangah first. Bring his food down,” Ajuma murmured as she disappeared. Moments later, she reappeared with a mountain stack of linens and sheets and curtains…everything.
Chomee quickly disposed Jiyong’s scented clothes into baskets, three already overflowing and hiding the rim. She sent Sangah running up and down the stairs, washing and drying the laundry, folding and sorting them. It was late in the night when all was accomplished and Chomee fell back against one of Jiyong’s chairs.            “Miss Chomee, you should go rest. It’s late. Almost two o’clock in the morning,” Sangah yawned, rubbing her eye.
“You go on ahead. You still have a whole day tomorrow,” Chomee managed to utter.
Sangah could only bob her head and exited the room. Chomee looked over at Jiyong, who was still snoring like a baby while the three of them sanitized his room.
He’s so pretty…If only…
She let the thought hang and shook her head clear of it. She gave him a final look of pity and retired to her own room. Leaving Ajuma to say ‘good night’ to the sleeping ‘beast.’

Chapter 10 

The loud clattering of the phone woke Chomee of her misty dream. She tossed and turned at the racket, hoping to get rid of it, only to realize it was morning.
She bolted upright on her bed and snatched the receiver off the hook, uttering a dreamy, “Yeboseyo?”
Jaeduk on the other end, was surprised to hear Chomee’s voice. “Yeeeaaaaboooohoooseyoho!” he yodeled.
Chomee winced at the howl. “Who’s this?”
“Jaedukimnida, you?”
“Jaeduk?” Chomee whispered hoarsely, trying to recall if she ever met a ‘Jaeduk.’
“Jiyongie chingoo,” he provided. Beside him, Sunghoon raised a brow at his friend’s strange encounter on the phone. “Who’s that?” he mouthed.
Jaeduk would only reply with a shrug.
“Jiyongie?” Chomee echoed softly, trying to shake herself awake.
“Yep, yep! Who are you?” Jaeduk chirped.
“Me? I…I’m Chomee.”
“Chomeehee?” Jaeduk squeaked in his Pusan accent.
“Uh-huh. Who are you?” she repeated absentmindedly, still sleepy from the night before.
“I told you, I’m Jaedukee.”
“Ugh…Call back to…mor…row…” she mumbled, falling back on her bed.
“Tomorrow!” Jaeduk shrieked, his voice causing Chomee to bolt up straight on her bed again. “I can’t wait till tomorrow! I’ll die! It’s an emergency! Call – huh!”
“Hello? Hello?” Chomee shouted into the receiver as she heard Jaeduk’s phone drop to the floor. “JAEDUK!” she screamed.
“Hello?” another voice spoke.
“Jaeduk?” Chomee squealed, worried Jaeduk had stopped breathing.
“Who’s this?” the same quiet voice asked.
“Is Jaeduk okay?” Chomee asked, ignoring the question.
“Jaeduk?” The voice sounded confused.
“Yeah, it sounded like he had a heart attack…”
A deep chuckle escaped the person’s mouth. “You must forgive Jaeduk. He’s always scaring people. That’s his habit, there’s nothing wrong with him.”
Chomee let out a breath of relief.
“I’m Sunghoon. What’s your name?”
“Chomee Yoon.”
“Pretty name. Is Jiyong home?”
Chomee remembered where she was now. She arrived at Jiyong’s house yesterday and spent the whole night cleaning his room. “Yeah, of course. Or at least I think so.”
“Chomee..Chomee Yoon…are you new? I haven’t heard of your name. Or maybe I just never knew…”
“Yeah, I just arrived last night.”
“Awwww…”
“Hold on,” said Chomee, tossing the receiver on her bed. She dashed out of her room in her sleepwear across to the living room and up the stairs. She tapped on Jiyong’s door lightly and waited for an answer.
“If it’s for me, I’m not accepting.”
Chomee looked up at the voice. For an awkward moment, Jiyong towered over her and she had forgotten at that same moment that he was blind. His smooth olive skin glowed with the radiant sun, his ebony colored hair was parted in the middle, bringing an exotic look to his eyes. His thin frame stood awkwardly beside her and she stared up into his eyes. “Jiyong sir,” she greeted.
“You’re in my way. I need to get in my room,” he said gruffly.
Chomee moved aside and reached for his hand, forgetting that Jiyong doesn’t depend on anyone.
“I don’t need assistance. Thank you.”
Chomee stepped away and followed him into his room.
“Yes?”
“It’s Sunghoon sir.”
“Tell him I’m not speaking to him.”
“But why?” Chomee couldn’t help herself.
“Would you just go? I want to be alone!”
Chomee obediently left his room and told Sunghoon exactly what Jiyong had asked her to do.
“What?! Why not?!!” Sunghoon screeched.
“I dunno. I asked him the same thing, but he waved me away,” Chomee mumbled.
In the background, Chomee could hear a few other people in the same room as Sunghoon. Somewhere in the house, another person picked up another extension. “What she say?” another voice demanded.
“That’s Jiwon,” Sunghoon introduced.
“Hi,” Chomee said timidly.
“Hi? Who’s this?” Jiwon asked Sunghoon, confused.
“Chomeeeheeee,” Jaeduk hollered in the background.
“Is Jaeduk from Pusan?”
“Yeah, heavy accent, huh?” Sunghoon chimed.
“Uh-huh,” Chomee agreed.
“Who’s Chomee?” Jiwon asked, switching back to the subject.
“New servant,” Sunghoon answered.
“Nurse,” Chomee corrected.
“Nurse,” Sunghoon repeated firmly.
“Oh…Where’s Jiyong?” Jiwon asked, repeating all of the questions Sunghoon had asked earlier.
“He’s in his room. He won’t speak with you.”
“Me? How dare him! Did you say Sunghoon or Jiwon?”
“Sunghoon.”
“Tell him to drag his ass right this second to the phone! Tell him Jiwon hyung told him to!”
Chomee shifted uncomfortably at Jiwon’s command. Jiyong had already dismissed Sunghoon, how could she get him to talk to Jiwon?
“Wuddo you want?” a deep voice came on.
Jiyong?
“Jiyong!” Jiwon exclaimed, voicing Chomee’s thoughts.
“You can go now, Chomee. I got it,” Jiyong said softly.
Chomee slowly returned the receiver to its place on the cradle. Jiyong..Jiyong…how can I get him to be normal again?”

Chapter 11 

“Ugh!” Susan shrilled, shattering the silence.
She threw herself onto her bed, with the encounter she had with Jiwon yesterday still stuck in her mind. She rolled her eyes at the ceiling, trying to clear her thoughts but with avail.
“Er! Jiwon!” she screamed, frustrated.
She had pushed Jiyong to the very end of her brain and Jiwon just had to come along and dig all back out. She jumped off her bed and sauntered to her full length mirror, making funny faces.
“Damn you, Jiwon. I hate you.”
Although she was saying that, but at the moment she know she can’t deny the fact that she used to have a crush on him. His exotic, dark, sexy eyes and cute mouth drawing a smirk. His thin frame, not too tall like Jiyong and not too short displayed an arrogant and haughtiness of him. His moves made him look even more gorgeous. Slick and clean cut. Definitely a player.
Before she started dating Jiyong, she met Jiwon through Suwon and Miyoung. At the time, Suwon and Miyoung made the cutest couple Susan had ever laid eyes on and still to this day, Susan still thinks they’re the most compatible match.
Jiwon, who was about seventeen or eighteen at the time was a straight up player. Red convertible, shades, hats, flowers, his lines, his flows, his smirk, his eyes….To think she would ever end up with him was a dream, until her parents decided to pair her up with Jiyong.
It was a complete ‘mission impossible.’ Jiyong was like an ‘oppa’ to her, being a few months older and so…so…unmanly-like like Jiwon. It took Suwon and Miyoung and Sunghoon’s and Jaeduk’s loud mouths to convince the two to give the relationship a try.
Jaejin, being the quiet guy he is, just wished Jiyong luck and never spoke to her. He continued about with his business with his dance group and his other friends, always ignoring her.
She finally give into all the nagging and found herself growing quite fond of Jiyong. But picturing herself with him wasn’t the way how she saw herself with Jiwon.
As time went on, she got closer to Jiwon, knowing him first hand. But what she learned of him wasn’t pleasing to the ear. He snapped at her too often and was always cold to her. She never fully understood the reason why nor know what the reason was. Whatever it was, it was bad and ugly. Soon the rest of Jiyong’s friends were being rude and mean to her. It wasn’t obviously shown, but they’ve hinted it. Even Miyoung, who she wasn’t even familiar with, showed a little difference.
While she reminisced the old times, the cell phone on her dresser table rang forever. Finally jolting back to the present, she strode over to her dresser and picked up her phone. “Yeboseyo?”
“Susan?”
“Miyoung?”
“Yeah, have you talked to Jiyong lately?”
Susan rolled her eyes at the question. “Of course I have,” she replied sarcastically.
“I’m serious, Susan.”
“No. I haven’t spoken to him since the accident.”
“Why not?”
“Why do you want to know everything?”
“Why can’t I know everything?”
“Miyoung, get a life.”
“Susan, get a personality.”
Susan pursed her lips, ready for the next attack.
“Has he called you?”
Susan ignored Miyoung and held the phone away from her ear.
“Fuck you, bitch.”
Susan brought the phone to her ear once again upon hearing silence. “Hello? Miyoung?”
Miyoung slammed the phone down and whirled around to face Jaejin. “Some nerve!”
“What happened?” Jaejin asked softly.
“She’s being her usual bitchy self,” Miyoung said scathingly.
“She’ll call him.”
“How would you know?”
“I just do.”
“How?”
Jaejin just shrugged. “I just do, don’t ask me.”
“I wonder how Chomee’s doing?”
“She’s good.”
“How – ”
“Jiyong didn’t beat her up…Yet.”
“Yet?!” Miyoung shrieked.
Jaejin nodded, looking up from his drawing. “I think Jiyong may come to like that girl. She’s quiet.”
“You haven’t even met her!”
“No, but Jaeduk was mocking her when I was over at Sunghoon’s house earlier.”
“That boy is so cruel.”
“He scared the living hell outta her. She actually thought he had a heart attack.”
“It’s not funny. Her mother’s ill.”
“Oh.”
“Just tell him to stop. He’ll have a heart attack soon enough if he keeps on doing that.”
“Uh-huh. Jaeduk tells me she’s cute.”
“He met her?”
“So did Sunghoon and the rest. They were taking turns telling me on my way here.”
“Suwon met her too?”
“Yeah. Trust me, he still likes you.”
Miyoung shook her head, disagreeing. “Nah-uh.”
“Yesuh. He won’t say it, but it’s the solid truth. He likes you.”
“Jiyong’s finally opening up?” Miyoung asked, ignoring his comment.
“Nah. They’re only going to meet Chomee. I can’t go.”
“Why not?”
“I dunno.”
“You’re strange.”
“I know. I dunno.”
Miyoung giggled.
“Well, my job here is done. How ya like it?”
Miyoung gasped.
“Is it really that bad?”
Miyoung gawked at the sketch Jaejin made and choked, trying to speak. “Cho-Cho- ”
“What?”
“Chomeeeee,” she hissed, grabbing her throat.
“Chomee?”
“Uh-huh.”
Jaejin stared hard at his drawing, perplexed. Chomee?
“How do you know she looks like that?”
“I dunno. I seriously don’t.”

Chapter 12 

“What’s taking Jaejin so long?” Jaeduk cried impatiently, jumping up and down.
“Jaejin?” Chomee murmured, looking up from her tray of lemonade.
“Yeah, he said he going to get something over at Miyoung’s house and it’s taking forever,” Jaeduk whined, stomping on his feet.
“Miyoung? You guys know Miyoung too?”
“Yeah, why you know her too?” Sunghoon asked, watching Chomee’s wide eyes.
“She’s my roommate!”
“Roommate?” Suwon said slowly.
“When was this?” Jiwon asked curiously, sipping his glass of lemonade.
“Uh…way back in – ”
“Jaejin sir’s here!” a servant announced.
“He’s here! He’s here!” Jaeduk cried, running to the door.
“Where is she? Where is she?!” Jaejin hollered, running into the room.
“Whoa! Calm down my boy! She’s cute, but hold your horses!” Jaeduk laughed.
Jaejin froze at the sight of Chomee, dropping the box he carried as she turn around to face him.
“Jaejin,” Sunghoon began, getting up from his seat.
“Yoo-Yoo-Yoon,” Jaejin stammered uncontrollably.
“Jaejin, are you alright?” Jiwon asked as he set down his glass and strode over to his friend.
“Hey, hyung, what’s going on?” Suwon whispered, jabbing Jaejin.
“Cho-Cho-Chomee?” Jaejin managed to mumble weakly.
Chomee looked around at Jiyong’s friend uneasily before nodding.
“Jaejin,” Sunghoon repeated, stepping in front of Chomee.
“Yoon…Yoon…You’re the girl,” Jaejin muttered unbelievably.
“Cute, huh?” Jaeduk smirked.
“JAEDUK!” Jiwon’s voice rang out angrily.
Jaejin made a move towards Chomee, but Sunghoon backed away. “What are you doing?”
Chomee buried her face into Sunghoon’s shoulder as frightened tears sprung to her eyes. Jiwon reached for Jaejin’s arm before anything else happens.
“You…”
Sunghoon stepped further away, nearly stepping on Chomee’s feet.
“You…”
Chomee’s lips trembled at Jaejin’s wild look.
“Hyung,” Suwon called out softly.
“You’re that girl in my picture. Yoon Shikbae’s daughter,” Jaejin finally let out.

Chapter 13 

“Yoon Shikbae?!” the five other voices cried out in unison.
“Yeah. She’s Yoon Shikbae’s daughter,” Jaejin confirmed.
Chomee stared wordlessly at the strange man.
“Aren’t you?”Jaejin asked, the wild look still on his face.
Chomee could only utter a cry similar to an animal and lifted her face from Sunghoon’s shoulder.
“Your father’s the one that got beaten by the public?” Jaeduk asked in awe.
Chomee nodded, her father’s bruised face flashing in front of her.
“Wow. You just disappeared,” Jiwon breathed, his face glowing.
“I had to,” Chomee replied thickly.
“What’s all this racket?”
All six of them whirled around at the voice. Jiyong, dressed in his baggy jeans and a t-shirt, towered over them on the landing of the stairs.
“Jiyong!” Jiwon and Sunghoon chorused.
Jiyong cocked his head to one side, recognizing his best friends’ voices. “Jiwon and Sunghoon?”
“Me, too!” Jaeduk squealed like a little boy.
“Who let you in?” Jiyong demanded.
“I did,” Chomee answered, anchoring her head.
“Who asked you to?” Jiyong asked angrily.
“I-I-I…They said they wanted to see you.”
“Without my permission, you are not to do ANYTHING! Hear me?!” Jiyong screamed with rage.
Chomee bit back her tears. “Yessir.”
“Jiyong, be fair. Chomee – ”
“I don’t care,” Jiyong cut off.
“HOW DARE YOU?!” Jiwon thundered, his voice shaking the floor.
Chomee shrunk behind Sunghoon again and Sunghoon reached for her hands.
“How dare you talk to your hyung like that?” Jiwon stated, his voice low and dangerous.
“Easy,” Jiyong responded mildly.
“Don’t think just because you are a TAD richer, you can be an ass when you want to be,” Jiwon fumed furiously.
“You’re in my house! You abide my rules! I don’t give a rat’s a – ”
“Would you all just SHUT UP!!!!” Suwon exploded.
Silence took over the room and everyone stood around looking grim.
“I’m sorry,” Chomee apologized, her hands tightening Sunghoon’s.
“It’s not your fault,” Jiwon croaked, wiping a tear off Chomee’s face.
“First you take over my servants, now you invade my home. What next?! My life!??”
“I’m sorry,” Chomee apologized again, pushing Sunghoon and Jiwon to the door.
“Cho – ” Sunghoon started to whisper.
“Just go. It’s only getting worse. Just go,” she choked, shoving Sunghoon away. She turned around to pull Jaeduk to the entrance of the room and had to slapped his hand off her in order to break away.
“Chomee…”
“I’m sorry, Jaejin. You have to leave.”
“It’s not that. Miyoung asked me to bring that over. She said you might need them,” Jaejin explained, acknowledging the box.
“Oh!” A weak smile. “Thank you. Tell Miyoung I said ‘hi.’”
“I will. Be careful.”
“I will,” Chomee vowed, walking them to the door.
“Chomee.”
Chomee closed the door after Jaejin and went back to the living room.
“Yes?” she replied, raising her head.
“Who are you?”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I am positively sure! She is Yoon Shikbae’s daughter!”
“But how?! I thought she’s dead!”
“I thought so too! But isn’t it obvious that she isn’t?! She looks just like him!”
“No. She looks more like Jinjoo.”
“But she has his cheekbones.”
“True, true.”
“But where’s her mother?”
“Dead, possibly?”
“No. If she’s dead then why would Chomee come all the way out here? There has to be a reason. Jinjoo can’t be dead.”
“So what if she isn’t? What’s it to us? They don’t have anything to do with us!”
“Oh, boy.”
“Are you kidding?”
“Who knows what that michinom Jinjoo’s thinking! She’s probably out for revenge!”
“Revenge?! For what?”
“Do you think she knows?”
“I think so.”
“Knows what?!”
“That’s why Chomee’s here?”
“I dunno.”
“What’s going on!!!?!”
The two men looked over at a baffled Mrs. Ko. She glared at them furiously, dragging from her cigarette occassionally.
“Yoon Shikbae? You have to remember him. He was that guy – ”
“Of course I do!” Mrs. Ko snapped at her husband.
“Chomee’s his daughter.”
“So? What does that have anything to do with us?”
“Jiyong. She’s probably out to kill Jiyong.”
“KILL JIYONG!!!!?? WHY?!”
“You remember how it was all over the newspapers that Yoon Shikbae was beaten to death?” Mr. Ko’s friend piped.
“Yes,” Mrs. Ko hissed, shaking uncontrollably.
“Because he – ”
“GET ON WITH IT!!!”
“Well…we lend him some money like the rest of the people,” Mr. Ko quickly finished.
Mrs. Ko remained silent at the new discovery and very slowly and quietly, she asked, “You know Yoon Shikbae?”
“Used to go to school together,” Mr. Ko answered.
“And you lent money out to him?” Mrs. Ko asked, her voice growing softer.
“Thinking he would repay me.”
“And at the end?” Mrs. Ko whispered.
“He couldn’t.”
“And so you decided to be idiotic and beat the stupid man,” Mrs. Ko murmured inaudibly.
“Say wut?” Mr. Ko’s companion asked.
“SO NOW YOU PUT MY SON’S LIFE ON THE LINE!!!!?” she scream with blinding fury.
“I thought we killed them,” Mr. Ko frowned, exchanging glances with his friend.
“No, we followed to see if they got killed. We didn’t kill them,” his friend corrected.
“I don’t care. You! You’re a hitman, aren’t you?” Mrs. Ko pointed at her husband’s friend.
“Sure. Your – ”
“Kill her.”
“Whaaa?!”
“Kill her. Tonight, before she kills my son.”
“But Miss! We’re not cer – ”
“What if you are?! What if you’re certain at the very end and my son’s dead?!”
“Alright. I’ll do it,” the friend said reluctantly, giving in.
“Do it at night. Smother her with a pillow, make it clean and keep the noise level down. Here’s the address,” Mrs. Ko commanded, scribing down her son’s address. “There’ll be a handsome reward when you’ve completed it.”
“Do, did and done,” the friend smiled, pocketing the address.

Chapter 14 

“Cho…meeeee….heeeee…..”
Jinjoo hoisted herself up on the bed, leaning on her weak elbows.
“Cho…meeeee….” she wheezed.
It’s been weeks since she last saw her daughter and she yearned for her now. It was drawing close to July and Chomee left home around mid-June. She decided to let Chomee leave home and go to school in Seoul, even if it meant not seeing her everyday of the school year.
“Cho…meeeee…..”
“Ajuma!”
She turned to find a girl about Chomee’s age standing in the doorway. It was her neighbor’s daughter, Myunghee.
“Ajuma! Are you alright?” she asked worriedly, rushing to the choking woman.
“Cho…meeee….I….want…I…want my-my-my Cho-Chomeeeeee.”
“Chomee dongseng’s at school. She’s not here,” Myunghee said hurriedly, patting the woman’s back.
“Cho….meeeee….”
“I’ll go get her! I’ll get her! Wait ajuma! Wait!” Myunghee cried desperately, running back home. “Oma! Oma! Call Chomee! Call Chomee! Ajuma can’t…can’t hold on anymore!”
Myunghee’s mother dashed past her, stumbling into her neighbor’s house. She approached the bed that supported the ill woman and held onto her hand tightly. “Jinjoo,” she whispered.
“Cho…meeee…”
“Chomee’s away at school.”
“Tell…tell her…to…to…co-co-come home…It-It’s ge-getting dar-dark ou-outside…Cho…meeeee….”
“I’ll tell her! I’ll tell her! I’ll tell Myunghee to go get her! I’ll tell Myunghee to get her! She’s coming home soon! Jinjoo!”
“Hur-Hurry….”
As if right on cue, Myunghee reappeared in the doorway with a glass of water.
“Myunghee!”
“Oma! What are we going to do?!” Myunghee fretted, handing her mother the glass.
“Call Chomee! Call her right now!”
“I dunno Chomee’s phone number!”
“It’s in the kitchen! You’ll see it. Chomee’s name written on a piece of paper with her phone number on it. Go now! NOW!!!”
Myunghee vanished again, nearly colliding with her older brother on her way home.
“Myunghee?”
“Oppa!” she cried, tears streaming down her face.
“What’s wrong?”
“It’s Jinjoo ajuma! She’s ill! She’s crying for Chomee! And Chomee’s away at school and I dunno what to do!”
“Hospital.”
“We don’t have – ”
“Saving her’s more important! Tell oma to wrap her up good in a blanket, I’ll drive around to pick her up. You in the meantime call Chomee and tell her to come back home,” he instructed, whirling around on his heel.

Myunghee, taking it all in at once, ran back into Jinjoo’s house, screaming, “Oma! Oppa’s home! Oppa’s home! Hurry!”
“Did you call Chomee yet?”
“No. Oppa said to wrap up ajuma, I’m going to call her right now. Hurry! He’s sending her to the hospital.”
“No…” Jinjoo murmured.
“Yes,” Myunghee’s mother said firmly. “You have to go. Can’t worry about money at a time like this. You’re going! I’m sure Chomee will find a way, you have to go right now!”
“No…”
Outside, the horned blared loudly.
“Oppa!”
“Get me a blanket!”
Myunghee fumbled for a blanket and tossed one onto the bed. “I’m going to call her now.”
“MYUNGHEEEEEE!!”
“They’re coming! They’re coming!” she shouted, running to her brother.
He pushed past her and gently lifted Chomee’s mother. With great ease, he stalked out of the tiny room and out into the sun.
“Cho…meeeeeeee…..”
“Hold on ajuma. She’s on her way back.”
“Tell her….Tell her….”
“Don’t talk ajuma. You’re tired. Try to rest now.”
“Cho….meeeee…..”
“She’ll be back soon. Watch.”
Back at home, Myunghee switched from hopping on one foot to the other. “PICK UP!!!”
The phone rang on endlessly. Finally someone picked up and it wasn’t Chomee’s voice Myunghee heard.
“Yeboseyo?”
“You’re not Chomee,” Myunghee accused.
“No, I’m not. Who’s this?”
“I’m Myunghee. Who are you?”
“Her roommate, Miyoung.”
“Where’s Chomee?”
“She’s away. Would you like to leave a message?”
“Do you know where I can reach her? It’s an emergency.”
“I’m not to tell. Do you want to leave a number? I’ll have her call you right away.”
Myunghee couldn’t stall anymore. She had to leave a message with this roommate, whether if she wanted to or not. “Tell her to come home immediately.”
“Home?”
“Her mother’s deathly ill.”
“Oh, no! Is she alright?”
“She’s on her way to the hospital.”
“I’m on my way over! I promise! It won’t take more than twelve hours! Please pray for her!” Miyoung screamed, slamming down the phone.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I’m Chomee Yoon,” Chomee sighed, climbing up the stairs.
“That, I know,” Jiyong pointed out dryly.
“I’m from Pusan,” she continued, ignoring the remark.
“No, you’re not. You don’t even have the accent.”
“Neither does Jaejin.”
“We’re talking about you, not him and you’re not from Pusan.”
“Then where am I from?” Chomee challenged, her hands icy cold.
“You’re from here. You’re a Seoul kid. I can tell; where exactly in Seoul, I dunno. But you’re from Seoul, not Pusan.”
Now Chomee was truly scared. How could he possibly have known she was from Seoul and not Pusan? Unless…
“You know I’m not from Pusan because of the newspapers,” Chomee guessed.
“Newspapers? You were in the newspapers? When?”
“It makes no difference. I’m from Pusan now,” she said with such sterness even it sounded harsh to her own ears.
“Your origin’s Seoul. Why were you in the newspapers?”
“Because the public wanted to compare the rich to the poor. They wanted to see how you live and how I lived,” Chomee fibbed, stopping in front of Jiyong.
“I was never in the newspapers,” Jiyong recalled, his forehead wrinkling at the thought.
“Yes, you were. You never knew and neither did I, but it was all over Korea. Ko Jiyong, son of Ko – ”
“No, it wasn’t!”
“You’re stupid if you think the public doesn’t know you! They all know you family falls in the category of the top ten millionaires of Korea. They all know you’re blind and a maniac – ”
“I’m not a maniac!”
“Well, you’ve proven yourself to be one. You don’t treat people like they’re human. You throw things at people for no reason. You yell at them for stupid reasons, you -”
“Enough!”
“Fine,” Chomee replied softly. “I’ll be in my room packing. Tell your mother to send the money to my mother in Pusan. I won’t be needing it.” With that, she spun around and hopped down the stairs, leaving Jiyong to stare blankly after her.
“Cho-Chomee,” he wailed.
Chomee halted at the cry of her name and raised her chin.
“You still haven’t told me where you’re from.”
“I’m not telling and I won’t tell and you’ll never find out.” Chomee picked up her feet and quickly went to her room to avoid more of his questions. She sat idly on her bed, not quite sure of what to do. She didn’t really mean what she said about going home. She couldn’t. It’d be throwing away a free lottery she had just won.
The phone by her bed screamed, startling her momentarily. She stared at it, uncertain of what to do. She slowly reached for it, her heart pounding. “Yeboseyo?”
“CHOMEEEE!?” Miyoung yelled.
Chomee winced at the loudness of the greeting, her ear unable to handle the loud screech. “Who’s this?”
A racket responded to Chomee’s question as Miyoung chased Suwon out to his car. “Hurry! Why you coming?! No! I asked Suwonie! What?! Why! You!”
“Hello?” Chomee mumbled again, the noise level on the opposite end rising.
“Chomee! Get dressed! We’re on our way to get you! Hurry!” Miyoung said hastily and ended the conversation. She pocketed her cell and jumped in the car with Jaejin and Suwon.
“Why is she at the wheel?” Jaejin asked Suwon.
“You think I know?!” Suwon replied, buckling the seatbeat.
“It’s your car!”
“So?” Suwon said with a shrug.
“Shut up!” Miyoung shrieked as she started the engine. “Another word from either of you, you’re dead!”
Suwon and Jaejin exchanged glances before settling back in their seats. Miyoung backed out of the parking space and drove menacingly to Jiyong’s house.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I’m pretty sure her room should be next to Jiyong’s. She’s his personal nurse! So, she’ll have to sleep close to him in case of an emergency. Right?”
“Uh-huh.”
“So, it’s one of the corner rooms. No doubt.”
“I still say we kidnap her and have her as bait to lure Jinjoo out.”
“No. Jinjoo’s too sick to leave her bed.”
“Huh?”
“I asked the girl. She said she’s from Pusan. Her mother’s back in Pusan, living under a neighbor’s care. She came here to earn money for school and for her mother.”
“Sounds pretty sincere. Serious, too.”
“Don’t be fooled.”
“So, I’m just gonna smother her?”
“It won’t take long. She’s fairly small.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“CHOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Miyoung howled, pulling up the driveway with Suwon and Jaejin in the car. She had to bug Suwon for his car and as usual, Jaejin always had to butt in, causing her to drag the both of them with her. She hopped out of the car and jogged to the door, beating it up with impatience. “CHOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
“Miyoung!” Ajuma exclaimed, yanking the door open.
“OUTTA MY WAY! CHOMEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Miyoung belted out, running past the curious and bemused woman.
“She has issues,” Jaejin said playfully.
“Which is why I’m not with her anymore,” Suwon added.
“CHOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Miyoung drew to a stop at the sight of Jiyong in the dining hall, a bit surprised. “Blind boy decided to get a breath of fresh air?”
Before Jiyong could even establish the voice of his vistor, Chomee appeared from the kitchen with a bowl of soup.
“Miyoung!” Chomee gasped, surprised to see her classmate.
“C’mon! Let’s go!”
“Go where?”
“Go home! Chomee, your mother’s in the hospital!”
Chomee dropped the bowl at the news and jumped out the way as it shattered to a million pieces on the floor. “My mom?”
“Some girl named Myunghee called. She told me to tell you to come straight home. I’m guessing your mother’s in a really bad condition.”
“Ah!”
“C’mon! I have the car. I’ll drive you.”
“I-I-I don’t even know the way home! I-I-I took the bus and then a boat out here.”
“Jaejin does. If it’s a hospital in Pusan, then he has to know,” Miyoung said hastily, jerking Chomee’s hand.
“Oh, my God,” Chomee mumbled again and again, letting Miyoung guide her away.
“Chomee.”
Chomee looked back at Jiyong who had a lost expression on his face.
“What’s going on?” he asked, his face pouty.
“Something you rich wangja byung nowadays don’t understand. Come, Chomee. No need to waste your time with this insensitive bitch.”
With the help of Jaejin and Miyoung’s support, Chomee managed to stumble out the house with wobbly legs.
Chapter 15 

Susan lingered at the thought of calling Jiyong. It’s been months since she last heard his sexy voice, the thought just made her skin tingle.
She stared at the Gucci purse Jiyong had gotten her on her fifteenth birthday. Thinking in retrospect, maybe it wasn’t even his idea to get such a gift. She sucked on her teeth at the possibility. She pawed through her bag for her phone, another gift from Jiyong.
Damn, everything I have is from him, she thought sourly.
She dialed the first three digits of his number but stopped, not quite sure how she would ask for him.
Wait…maybe he’ll talk to me later. The later, the better.
She dropped the phone back in her purse and sighed heavily. She glanced at her Guess watch – another one of Jiyong’s expensive presents to her, and her eyes grew wide.
“It’s eleven already?” she wondered aloud. “My t.v.!” She flung the door to her room open and sped down the stairs to where her best friend stood against the wall. She clicked on the remote and sank in snugly on her couch, letting the show drink in her attention until late tomorrow morning.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Oma!” Chomee yelped, bursting into the room. She searched frantically for her mother who was the only patient in the room. “MAAAAAA!”
“Cho….meeee…..”
“Ma,” Chomee whispered tearfully, pain stabbing her heart.
“Ho-Ho-Home al-alre-ready?”
“I’m home. I’m home,” Chomee sobbed, running to her mother’s side. “I’m home, Oma. I’m home.”
“H-H-Hung-Hungry?”
Chomee cried harder, realizing her mother was thinking back in the days when Chomee was only in elementary school.
“Chomee?”
Chomee ignored Miyoung’s soft voice that crooned her. She kept close to her mother, aware of Suwon, Jaejin and Miyoung all filed into the room together.
“Cho-Chomeeeeee…..”
“Oma,” Chomee whimpered, fresh tears flooding her eyes.
“Is school hard?”
“No, I’m trying. I have Miyoung helping me.” Chomee have never felt so guilty in her life. She lied to her mother about going to school in the summer just so she could find a job instead of tending to her mother’s illness. She had been out of school for almost three weeks and she never notified her mother.
“Don’t study too hard. Oma knows you’re trying…but…don’t…don’t…..”
“Oma, don’t talk. Go to sleep. Go….”
“You…you must be hungry…and…and tired….” Jinjoo continued, not hearing her daughter. “Fin-Finish you home-homework to-tomor-morrow….”
“Ma!” Chomee screamed. “Ma! I don’t have homework! I don’t have school! I don’t have anything! Oma! Please…”
Miyoung reached for the girl who was close to being hysterical and held her tight. “It’s okay. Your mom will be fine.”
“No, no, no, no, no….no….no!” Chomee shook her head defiantly. “Don’t do this to me now. No….”
“Cho…meeeeeee…..”
“No…”
“Cho…meeeeeee…..”
“My mom still lives here in Pusan. I’m pretty sure she’ll let us stay the night,” Jaejin said uneasily.
“But I don’t want to leave,” Chomee objected thickly.
“They’ll make you eventually,” Miyoung said soothingly, stroking Chomee’s hair.
“I can’t…I can’t!”
“Cho…meeeee…..”
“How can I?! Look at her!” Chomee shrieked, jerking away from Miyoung.
“My mom’s house is not that far away,” Jaejin said convincingly.
“How about this. Chomee has to get back to Jiyong – ”
“But my mother’s more important!”
“Lemme finish,” Miyoung said calmly, holding up a hand. “I’ll stay with Jaejin and sleep over his house and I’ll be with your mother until you can get away from Jiyong’s madhouse. I would love to go and substitute for you, but I don’t think the servants are that dumb to not see the difference between me and you. Plus I think Jiyong would rather have you aiding him instead of me. I’m not that patient with rich snobs like him, so you’re stuck with that job.”
Chomee opened her mouth to protest but Miyoung continued her speech. “Suwon will bring you back. Jaejin knows Pusan better, of course, being his home and all. Don’t worry, I’ll be with you mom day and night. I’ll call you to let you know her daily progress. Now be gone!”
“But! But-But….”
“Be gone!” Miyoung faked a cough, turning Chomee away. “You, too.” She pointed at Suwon. “If anything happens to her on the way back, I’ll make you regret we ever went out, let alone meeting me.”
“Ouch, aren’t you being a little too harsh?” Suwon asked, faking a wince.
“I’ll drive you back to the docks,” Jaejin offered.
The three of them left Miyoung behind to look after Jinjoo. Jaejin drove the two to exactly where he said he was going to drop them off at.
“Be careful,” Jaejin warned, pecking Chomee’s cheek.
“I will,” she assured him.
“No. I mean extremely careful. Sumthin will happen tonight. Sumthin bad.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Susan sipped at her coconut drink, captivated like a zombie, her eyes nearly popped out of her sockets. Her back ache from long hours of slouching and her hands were numb from gripping too tightly on her cup.
“No! Behind you! No, you stupid! Turn around! He has a knife!” she screamed at the t.v.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee arrived to Jiyong’s castle shortly after the shaky boat ride. Suwon called Jiwon for a ride and they escorted her home. She rubbed the back of her stiff neck and sauntered sulkily to her room.
“Boy, it’s awfully quiet tonight,” she said aloud to herself. Everybody was snoring away in bed just as she had expected. She glanced at the grandfather clock that loomed ahead. Two-thirty.
She then remembered her daily rounds to check in on Jiyong before going to bed. She approached his room and gently pushed the door ajar, sticking her head in through the gap.
The bright moonlight reflected on his beautiful, angelic face – making him seem flawless. His lashes had a natural curl of a girl’s which made him look so heavenly in peace. His lips curved into a satisfied smile as if he was dreaming for the perfect Christmas day.
Chomee stepped into the room and planted a slight kiss on Jiyong’s cheek. He turned to sleep on his side, his smile stretching wider than before. She stalked silently away into the night, retiring to her own room.

Chapter 16 

The man brought the cigarette to his lips again, waiting for the house to be silent again. He just saw the girl enter the house and estimated it would take her about half an hour to settle. He squinted his eyes in the dark, digging his shoe into the soft ground as he waited for time to pass.
It would be an easy mission. The woman was right. The girl was fairly small – a little elf, if he may call her that. He hadn’t seen the girl himself since eight years ago and she’s still the same. Small and petite. It’s a pity Jinjoo had to go on living all alone. Since Shikbae’s death, she made sure Chomee had the best of everything. Sad how all that seems to be a waste now.
He checked his watch again. It was a little after two-forty. He approached the house, stalking like a panther, soundless like a ghost. He stood directly under Jiyong’s room, which was the side of the house. He slipped on the black leather gloves and leaned against the wall, still smoking his cigarette. As he finished the last of it, watching the trace of smoke disappearing, he decided it should be time.
He placed a firm hand on a piece of the wall jutting out, using it as an aid to start off his climb. He then carefully and professionally placed his foot on the ledge. Slowly, he scaled the wall like a spider, grunting along. Finally, once reaching the balcony, he rolled onto the platform and knocked the chairs noisily to the side. He cursed softly under his breath, hoping the people sound asleep didn’t hear the slight commotion. And definitely not the girl.
He reached out to pull the curtains aside, surprised to find the sliding windows wide open. He rolled into the room with ease and paused in the middle to listen for noises.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee felt her ears go stiff at the muffled crash. It sounded like it had just come from Jiyong’s room. She paused a bit longer, waiting for more sounds of motion. She let out a shaky breath and changed out of her outfit to her sleepwear.
She picked up the folded sheets and tossed them in the air, spreading it wide across her bed. No matter the weather, she always slept with blankets covering her. She glanced at the pictures on her desk and climbed into bed, snapping off the light.

*~*~*~*~*~*

He stared down at the sleeping figure and stilled, listening for movements in the rest of the house. He reached for the extra pillow that laid by the pale girl. Her face was turned facing the wall, again to his surprise, she was already asleep, purring softly with each intake of breath.
He reached for her chin, turning it so she faced him. As quick as lightening, he slammed the pillow onto her face, pushing it down. Just as he expected, a muffled scream escaped her throat as she thrashed around wildly. Her long arms found his and tried to yank it off the pillow. The screams continued on like she was at a singing contest. He pressed harder, in hopes of smothering her screams. He used his free hand and grabbed her thin, flailing arms, pinning them against the bedpost.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee laid flat on her back, staring off into space where the bright moonbeams reflected off the smooth, white wall.
“Sumthin bad…” Jaejin’s warning gnawed at her nerves deeply. She wrapped her arms around herself, trying to warm off the sudden chill that overtook her body. She threw the covers over her shoulders, wrapping it tightly around her arms.
“Be careful…”
She kicked off the covers and rose out of bed. She glanced at the digital clock by her bed that glowed two-fifty.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong clawed at the hands of the person that was suffocating and stopping his supply of oxygen.“Ch-Ch-Choooooooooooooommmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
The hands pressed down harder, hurting his nose.
He knew Chomee wouldn’t be able to hear him. She lived in the other end of the house. The distance between the two rooms were far too great. “Ch-Chooooomeeeeeeeeeee!” he tried again, hearing his own muffled voice. “Ahhhh…jooooooooooooooomaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee stopped dead in her tracks as she heard a soft howl crying for her.
“I’m sleepwalking,” she said, trying to pinch herself awake. But it seemed so real. “I must be imagining it,” she told herself.
“Chooooooomeeeeeee!” the voice came again. It sounded so familiar.
“Jiyong?” She looked up at the staircase, realizing she was now in the living room. She chewed on her lip, waiting for another cry. “It’s me,” she said firmly to herself.
“CHOOOOOOOOOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Heh….meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
“Sumthin bad…” Jaejin’s voice echoed.
Chomee bolted up the stairs and advanced to Jiyong’s door, pressing her ear against it.
“Ahhhhjooooomaaaa…Cho-Chomeeeee,” Jiyong’s soft voice cried out weakly.
“Damn it! Die, you bitch!”
Chomee jumped back from the door, shocked someone else was in the room with Jiyong. She pressed her ear to the door again, hearing a struggle between the two.
“Meeeeeeeeeeee…”
Chomee turned the knob and threw the door open. She found a man dressed in all black with a ski mask covering his face. He was bending over Jiyong’s wild, thrashing body, smoldering his cries with something in his hand.
“MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” came Jiyong’s muffled cry.
She then realized he was being smothered to death. “Jiyong!” she croaked, her voice caught. She approached his bed, trying to see the man.
The man whirled around, shocked to find the small girl standing before him.
“What are you doing to him!?” she demanded, storming closer to the hitman.
The man backhanded her, sending her reeling sideways to the floor under the impact. In a flash, she rolled onto her stomach and crawled over to him. He stepped forward and kicked her chin, muttering, “Damn you, Jinjoo,” before disappearing through the wide windows.
Chomee cupped her stinging chin as blood trickled down the corner of her mouth.
“Chomee?” Jiyong choked, flinging the pillow away.
“Yeah,” she spat, wiping away the blood.
“Is that really you? You’re back? Are you okay?” He felt around his bed for her, his eyes wide open with fear.
“Uh-huh,” she answered, crawling to him. She hauled herself up and plopped on the side of his bed, his arms entwining hers.
“Who was that?”
“Uh-uh no,” she mumbled, her lips numb.
“Did you see how he looked like?”
Chomee shook her head, wincing at the pain that shot through her. Jiyong traced a finger around her face, finding the small stream of blood that flowed at the corner of her mouth. He continued his way up her cheek and around to the other side of her face. “He hit you,” he concluded.
“If not dat bad,” Chomee lied, chewing her lip.
“But you’re bleeding!” Jiyong protested.
“If nuh fing big. Jessa cut.”
Jiyong cradled her in his arms, resting his head on hers. She sighed and leaned back in his embrace, perturbed by the attack.
“It’s June and he’s bundled up like he’s going skiing,” Chomee whispered to herself, feeling some sensation returning to her lips.
“Say what?”
“It’s too hot to be dressed like that…and…”
“Chomee?”
“Huh?”
“What are you talking about?”
“The man was after me. Not you.”
Uncomfortable silence hung between the two.
“How?”
“If he was after you, he wouldn’t have covered his face. How would he have known you live up here unless he dug up some history? Everybody in Korea knows you’re blind, so there’s no need for him to hide his face. And he shouldn’t have to worry about servants because they live in the other end of the house,” Chomee babbled to herself.
“Still…what if it was random?”
“No. He knows me. He said ‘Jinjoo’ before leaving.”
Jiyong pulled away, baffled.
“Jinjoo’s my mother’s name. He was after me. Probably my mother, too,” Chomee said quietly, the sudden thought striking her.
“Why though?”
“My mom! I have to go home!” Chomee shouted, breaking from Jiyong’s hold.
“Chomee, calm down!”
“It’s easy for you to say! Your mom’s rich, she can hire bodyguards! My mom can’t!”
“Chomee…Miyoung called not too long ago. She and Jaejin’s with your mom. Jaejin’s big and muscular. Trust me. She’s fine.”
“But…she’s sick.”
“She’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
Chomee fell back on the bed, her shoulders and heart heavy with grief. Tears climbed to her eyes and spilled endlessly onto her lap. Jiyong brushed away a tear and pulled her to his chest again, feeling a wet spot grow. She placed her head on his shoulder, letting him stroke her hair.
“Oma,” she croaked, feeling Jiyong’s strong arms tighten around her. He kissed her forehead and pulled her down onto the bed, letting the tears soak his shirt.
Chapter 17 

As the sun blazed highly in the sky, Sangah slept. Her room was cool, shaded by the blinds and curtains. Her breathing was imperceptible.
Suddenly a ray of sunlight, slipping under an open shutter, found a crack in the curtains and splashed across the bed. At its touch, Sangah stirred, pulling the coverlet over her head. She could still see the red box filled with jewels and willed herself to dream again. But it was no use.
“Sangah!”
She groaned at the sound of her name and snuggled deeper into her bed.
“Wake up, silly girl! Your buns are already toasted by the sun and you’re still sleeping!?”
“Uhm…” she replied dreamily.
“Still uhmming? It’s nine already and you’re still in bed! You’re the most laziest pig I know!”
The blind snapped open, burning the back of Sangah’s head instantly.
“AHHHHH-JOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Sangah screamed, pulling the blanket tighter around her head.
“The spell is broken, Sleeping Beauty.” Ajuma laughed, exiting Sangah’s room.
Sangah sat on her bed with her cover still draped over her head. She reluctantly pulled on her working clothes and yanked off the thin cloth on her head, folding it neatly neatly onto her bed.
She cleaned herself and made sure was presentable. She sauntered to the bathroom and pulled out the water basin, filling it with lukewarm water. She dropped in Chomee’s face towel as she turned the facets off and threw Jiyong’s towel over her shoulder.
She balanced the mini tub in her two palms and trudged to Chomee’s room. She knocked on the door upon arrival and entered without hesitating.
“Good morning, Miss Chomee,” Sangah greeted, slipping the bucket-like instrument onto the dresser. She looked over to the unmade bed and glanced at the floor, noticing both Chomee’s shoes and her slippers were present in the room.
“Chomee?” Sangah heard her voice raise with alarm and fear. She retreated out the room and ran straight to the kitchen where Ajuma was putting finishing touches on the day’s breakfast.
“Sangah, why are you running like that? Are you well? You don’t look too good,” Ajuma commented with a frown.
“Cho-Chomeeee! She’s gone!” Sangah gulped, beads of sweat appearing on her forehead.
“Of course she is! You think the girl’s lazy like you?! She wakes up at seven you know!”
“No, Ajuma! Chomee’s gone! Kidnapped! Poof in thin air! Her shoes and slippers are in her room and her bed’s unmade!”
“Shoes and slippers?” Ajuma’s frown deepened at the information. “Are you sure?”
“I’m positive!” Sangah’s voice quivered.
“Hmm…” Ajuma stared at her feet, trying to remember what had happened the night before. “Aha!” she cried, snapping her fingers.
“What?!”
“Didn’t she say she was going home? She’s probably at home right now!”
“But her shoes are here!”
“Maybe she wore a different pair.”
Poor Sangah. She was eager to believe anything at the moment. She let out a breath of relief at the reminder.
“She’ll call back today,” Ajuma reckoned.
Sangah nodded in agreement and returned to work. She returned to Chomee’s room and dropped in Jiyong’s towel in the basin and wrung out Chomee’s, hanging it by the window to dry. She carried the tub to Jiyong’s room, worried if he would start throwing things at her again. She came to his door, surprised to find it ajar.
“Ah? That’s strange. The door’s open,” Sangah said to herself. She set the basin down on his desk and cautiously stepped over to his bed. She squinted her eyes as they began to adapt to the darkness. She tripped over a pillow that was probably flung at a servant who tried entering his room. She found the opening of the window and was amazed to find herself getting all the way across his room without waking him up. She found the string to the curtains and gave it a light tug, illuminating the room with the bright morning sun.
“Wakey, wakey,” Sangah sang harmonically, spinning around. She stared hard at the head of his bed, shaking her head as if trying to wake herself of a bad dream. She rubbed her eyes, hoping it would stop her from seeing doubles.
But she was seeing two heads! Unmistakably, Chomee’s and Jiyong’s! Her hand crept up to her throat and stopped at her mouth. Her eyes watered from unblinking, captivated by the sight in front of her.
Chomee snuggled closer to Jiyong and she threw an arm around his waist, purring softly like a kitten. Sangah watched a moment longer before belting out a mortified scream.

Chapter 18 

“Ah!”
Miyoung’s arm slipped off the table, waking her with a start. She opened her eyes just in time to see Jaejin tumbling to the floor, his chair falling right on top of him. “Jaejin!”
“I’m alright,” he assured, rolling onto his back, pushing the chair away.
Miyoung got up from her chair to check and giggled at the funny sight.
“Call Chomee,” Jaejin said abruptly, pulling himself up.
Miyoung stopped laughing. “What?”
“Call her. Sumthin happened,” Jaejin said hastily, picking up the chair.
“What time is it?”
“Just call her. It’s early enough.”

 

*~*~*~*~*~*
Chomee felt Jiyong squeeze her wrist, making her squeal with pain. She heard a cry that matched her own and blinked to the morning light. She placed a hand on the side of her face that was hard and dried of tears. Jiyong, beside her, stirred to the shrieking symphony. Ajuma pranced into the room, shaking Sangah like a rag doll.
“Ah-Ah-Ah…joooooooooooooooomaaaaaa! Look!” Sangah pointed a shaky finger at the two entwined bodies.
“Chomee! Jiyong!” Ajuma gasped, horrified.
“Uh?” Chomee mumbled, propping herself up on Jiyong’s bed.
“What are you two DOING!?” Ajuma thundered.
“Doing?” Chomee echoed, still sleepy. “Slee…sleeping…”
“Oma…I don’t wanna go to school today,” Jiyong muttered.
“I don’t either!” Chomee agreed, falling back on the bed.
“Ajuma!” Sangah whispered loudly.
“I think they just fell asleep together. That’s all. They still have their clothes on.”
“But!” Sangah protested, her face livid with pure terror and hatred.
“Just let them sleep a little longer. We’ll ask them what happened when they wake up.” Ajuma walked over to the end of the bed and pulled the cover over the two children.
“How come you treat Chomee better than the rest of us?” Sangah demanded crossly.
“Appa…” Chomee murmured. “Sarang haeyo.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jinjoo coughed as saliva started to build up in her mouth. The back of her head hammered as she choked on. She heard someone say ‘ajuma’ before she brought the coughing down to a control. She slowly pried her eyes open to find two strangers peering down at her. A handsome young man and a pretty little girl. Both about Chomee’s age or possibly older.
“Ajuma,” the girl called out softly, smiling.
“Where am I?” Jinjoo mouthed, too tired to speak.
“Hospital,” the boy answered.
“Chomeeeeeee,” Jinjoo rasped.
“Chomee’s away at school,” Miyong lied.
Jinjoo nodded, somewhat pleased with the response. She felt herself relax and shifted to a more comfortable position on the bed.
“I’ll call Chomee later. Ajuma, do you want to talk to her?”
Jinjoo nodded to everything, unaware of her surroundings. “Anything. Anything for Chomee…” She soon lasped into the state of unconsciousness, darkness swallowing her whole.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Did you kill her?”
The man hung his head low, avoiding the woman’s piercing gaze.
“You didn’t?!”
“I was in the wrong room,” he said slowly and cautiously.
“Wrong room?!” the voice rose to a shrill.
“I climbed into your son’s room by accident.”
“WHAT??!?!!”
“But I didn’t kill him,” he was quick to add.
Mrs. Ko felt the room tilt beneath her big chair. She felt as if she were perched, teetering, on the edge of a cliff, nothing but a black abyss before her. The temperature seemed to have dropped down ten notches, her heart pounding wildly against the rib cage. “Kill my son?”
“No. I slapped the girl hard enough though.”
Mrs. Ko raised a brow.
“She still managed to crawl to me on all fours after I smacked her.”
“Where did she come from?”
“I have no idea! I didn’t even hear her! She came in like a ghost!”
“But…is Jiyong alright?”
“He should be.”
“What do you mean ‘he should be’ ?!”
“He was still breathing when I left.”
“You don’t mean…” Then it struck her. She refused to believe it, but she was left with no choice. “You son of a bitch! You touched my son!?”
“It was a mistake!”
“A very big one! Why didn’t you look?!”
“I did! I thought it was the girl!”
“Get out…”
“But – ”
“GET OUT!!! I don’t ever wanna see you again!”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Yeboseyo?”
“Is Chomee there?” Miyoung whispered hoarsely, her throat clogged up.
“She’s sleeping.”
“What about Jiyong?” Jaejin asked, snatching the phone out of Miyoung’s hand.
“He’s sleeping with her.”
“That’s odd. Chomee usually wakes up at seven. It’s eleven already and she’s still sleeping?” Miyoung murmured to herself.
“That’s good,” Jaejin said, relieved and smiling. Then he let Sangah’s reply sink in. “Wait! What did you just say?!!”
“He’s sleeping with her,” Sangah repeated.
“HE’S SLEEPING WITH HER???!!!!” Jaejin shrieked, mortified.
“WHAT?!” Miyoung was quick to follow.
“They didn’t…they’re just…sleeping,” Sangah said uncomfortably.
“Oh…” Jaejin let out, understanding. “But still! Him…never mind.”
“What happened?!” Miyoung demanded, grabbing Jaejin by the shoulders. “I wanna know too!”
“I’ll call back later. Bye,” Jaejin told Sangah, hanging up the phone.
“What happened?” Miyoung said again, spinning Jaejin around.
“They’re still sleeping,” he informed her.
“I know that, but together?”
“They’re sleeping. Nothing else.”
Miyoung just simply nodded.

Chapter 19 

Chomee stirred, breaking from the heavy sleepy trance she was locked in and blinked her eyes. Beside her, Jiyong slept on, not letting a single movement disturb him. She yawned as the radiant sun shift to its afternoon colors, blinding her momentarily. She shook her head, trying to climb over Jiyong’s still body without waking him. She rolled off the bed with a thud, forgetting she had spent the night in his room. “Ahhhh…”
Her mouth was dry like a clean popsicle stick. She stumbled her way out of his room, her arms outstretched as if she was sleepwalking. She felt around the familiar ways, sleep still hanging over her. A heavy, dreadful feeling she was unable to shake off. She heard a sound, like someone calling her. But it didn’t register.
She continued paddling all the way to the bathroom, the voice drifting to her ears closely.
“Chomee…Chomee? Are you alright?”
A dark figure appeared by her side and she shook her head, willing herself to see the person. She dipped her hand into the sink, turning on the faucet to the let the lukewarm water slip between her fingers. She splattered some water onto her face, feeling the iciness shock her.
“Chomee…” the voice babbled on.
Chomee reached for the knobs and stopped the water. She patted her face and stood at attention, seeing Sangah’s blurred face. “Hi,” she finally said.
“Are you alright?” Sangah asked again, her brows knotting together.
“Tired. What time is it?”
“A little past twleve.”
“Twelve?!” Chomee was shocked she had been snoring for that long.
“That was quite a beauty sleep, huh?”
“That was called a coma, not beauty sleep. What time did I sleep last night?” Chomee tried thinking back to last night, but her mind keeps drawing up a blank scene. Her mouth twitched in one corner and triggered pain, suddenly the events from the night before came flooding back.
“Jiyong!” she exclaimed, remembering the man that was choking Jiyong.
“What about him?”
“Where is he?!” Chomee pushed past the servant girl and rushed back into Jiyong’s room, forgetting she had just come from there.
“In his room,” Sangah replied, running after Chomee.
Chomee sighed in relief when she saw Jiyong sprawled on his bed, his limbs spread out. “What a pig,” she muttered at the sight.
“Funny. You were just sleeping with the pig,” Sangah reminded Chomee.
“Sleeping…wait. With the pig?” Chomee was baffled.
“Yeah, you really don’t remember, do you? Do you remember where you woke up?”
Chomee bit her lip at the question as she wandered out of Jiyong’s room. Indeed, she didn’t remember. She only remembered climbing over someone’s body and stumbled into the bathroom. “In my room?” she said weakly.
“What did you two do last night?! You don’t even remember?!” Sangah drew an incredulous look.
“I honestly don’t. Only remembered that he was being attacked by some man and the man disappeared through the window.” Chomee returned to the bathroom to brush her teeth.
“Attack? Man? What man?!” Sangah cried in alarm.
“Uh-uhno. Uh jussaw a mun uhn he jes diahar on me,” Chomee replied, stroking her teeth with the brush, the foam crowding around her lips.
“You mean…Master Jiyong was in danger last night?”
Chomee winced as hot pain shot through her mouth and numbed her chin. The brush fell out of her hand and clattered against the sink. She spat out the white foam, blood coloring it she rinsed it down the drain.            “Chomee!” Sangah gasped, her face paling.
“He…kick…kick eeee,” Chomee explained, spitting out more discharge. “Owwww…”
“He kicked you?! In the mouth?!!”
Chomee nodded, cupping her chin.
“Wait. I’m getting Ajuma.”
Chomee reached out and grabbed Sangah’s wrist as she started to sprint away. “Uh…” She shook her head. She didn’t want the old woman to worry and secure bars in the windows. Her mind was quickly filled with different reactions Ajuma would have if the incident was reported.
“But Chomee! You’re hurt!” Sangah protested, pointing at Chomee’s mouth as more blook trickled from the cut.
Chomee shook her head again, her hair flying out of control. The room started to tilt under her and she closed her eyes to still herself, trying to stop the madness.
“Okay, okay! I won’t tell her,” Sangah promised, resting her hand on Chomee’s arm.
The room whirled on for a minute or so and Chomee re-opened her eyes. She spat another mouthful of saliva mingled with blood into the sink and rinsed her toothbrush clean. “Uh be okay,” she managed to say, wiping the corners of her mouth.
“I’ll get you something to eat,” Sangah said softly and hurried away.
Chomee went into her room and changed into another pair of shorts and a t-shirt. She made her bed and combed the tangles out of her short, apple bobbed hair. She looked into the mirror, groaning at the sight of the bulging bruise and patted the residing pain. It was impossible to that thing from Ajuma. She could fool Jiyong, but not the nosy woman. She’s always finding things out. One way or another.
She left her room and reappeared in Jiyong’s room, picking up the pillow he had flung away when the man laid eyes on her. She gave Jiyong’s arm a hard slap, nearly sending him tumbling off his bed. He jumped, his arms flailing out to reach whatever had stung him. Chomee stumbled backwards and fell on the floor as Jiyong’s arms sailed over her head.
“Is that the way how you wake up every morning?” Chomee couldn’t resist asking.
“Chomee? I thought it was something else.”
“What or who else would have the guts to come in your room? After you’ve threatened to everybody that does.”
“Haha.”
“Time to wake up.”
“What time is it?”
Chomee looked around for a clock. “It’s after twelve.”
“Only?!”
“Like I said, you’re a pig.”
“A pig?”
“Oh, I told Sangah that when she was in here earlier. You should’ve seen yourself. You looked like a bum with your arms and legs spread out.” Chomee giggled, remembering the sight.
“I had a hard time falling back asleep. I was so scared,” Jiyong said sullenly.
“Tell me later. I’m eating breakfast…wait. Lunch.”
“Fine. But I’m not eating until you tell me where you’re really from.”
Chomee frowned at the reminder of yesterday’s conversation before she left for the hospital. “If…you promise not to throw your food at me like you did the first day we met.”

Chapter 20 

Susan blinked. The t.v. blared loudly in her ears. She sat up with a start, trying to clear her mind as she wondered how she ended up on the living room couch. She glanced at the clock that was hanging high over the t.v. and sighed. Twelve-thirty. She rose out of the leather seating and stretched out. She rubbed her eyes, cleaning out the debris that was stuck to the corners.
She entered the bathroom and washed her face, feeling refreshed as she took in a gulp of air. She quickly brushed her teeth and hair, feeling close to perfection with every stroke. She smiled at her reflection and studied the slight dimple on the right side of her face. Suddenly the self-confidence she had felt when she was dating Jiyong, returned. She felt energized and pumped. Staring at her shiny, radiant hair, she replaced the brush close to the bathroom sink and left.
She went to her room and picked up the purse, feeling for her phone. She plucked it out gingerly and quickly dialed Jiyong’s number. Five rings went by and she was losing patience. Finally someone picked up and the sudden clammy, nervous feeling slammed her stomach again.
“Yeboseyo?” a small voice said.
Susan frowned at the voice. It was a voice she never heard. It was of a new girl. “Yeboseyo?”
Chomee waited for more. She was getting ready to replace the receiver when the voice requested for Jiyong. “Who’s this?”
“His girlfriend, Susan,” Susan replied, growing suspicious of Chomee’s voice.
“Hold on, please,” Chomee said sweetly. She ran to the dining table and bit another mouthful of bagel before letting Jiyong know Susan was on the phone. She pounded up the stairs and poked her head into his room, surprised to see he wasn’t there.
“What?” his deep voice spoke, standing awkwardly next to her.
Chomee jumped. She jerked her head back and saw his damp hair in a messy heap, the soft scent wafting subtly to her nose. “You were showering?”
“Was I so much dirtier earlier that you noticed the difference?”
Chomee ignored the cocky response. “Susan’s on the phone.”
“Who!?” Jiyong hooted, surprised to hear his ex-girlfriend’s name.
“Susan. The great, bootiful one.”
“Yeah, she has a booty alright,” Jiyong said dryly.
“Hurry! I don’t think she’s too happy to hear my voice.”
“She’s always thinking the worst of things.”
Chomee bounced down the stairs and returned to her food. Chewing slowly, she listened attentively to Jiyong’s end of the conversation.
“Hello!” Jiyong barked into the phone.
“Jiyong?” Susan whispered, relieved to hear his voice and not the girl’s.
“What do you want?”
After all that time, he was still bitter and grouchy.
“Who was that?”
“A girl.”
“I know that. But who is she?”
“What’s it to you? What do you want?”
“I want to know who she is!” Susan was furious now. Jiyong knew she hated it when she demanded an answer and no one would give it to her.
“Why? What’s it to you?”
“Jiyong! I have a right to know! I’m your girlfriend!”
“Oh…are you?” The comeback was light and cool. Very casual. More like a meaningless comment. “I could have sworn when Mom kicked me out, you didn’t stop her from doing so. Instead! You agreed to it! You two probably planned it together to have me disappear from the face of Earth!”
“No, Jiyong! That’s not – ”
Jiyong continued on. “Anyways. We both know deep down inside how we feel about each other. Why don’t you just tell me what you want, ’cause I got things to do.”
“Who’s that girl?”
Chomee chewed on, aware the exchange between the couple was nasty. Jiyong’s replies. Exactly the way the same when she first met him.
“You really wanna know?! You really insist on knowing?!” Jiyong bellowed. “You asked for it, bitch!”
Susan felt her shoulders slump under the impact of the name. He had just called her a bitch! How unbelievable! “Who is she?” she asked again, quiet.
“Chomee…” he drawled, feeling his insides getting all tingly and warm. Happily picturing Susan squirm at any girl’s name other than hers.
Chomee’s ears pricked at the mentioning of her name. How did she get into this?
“Chomee,” he repeated smugly. “She is my girlfriend.”
Chomee dropped her bagel and started choking. The chewed up and swallowed muck found their way back up her throat and dropped on the table like pudding. Piles and piles lay in front of her as she fought to bring the coughing under control. She felt a hand patting her gently on the back. She whirled around to find Jiyong’s face scrunced up with worry. “What did you tell her?!” Chomee shrieked, still choking slightly.
“I expected her to drop dead choking, but instead you did. Are you okay?” he asked sincerely.
“No, I’m not okay! How did I get into your business with her?!”
“I wanted to piss her off so I told her you were my girlfriend.”
“What if she comes after me with an axe?!” Chomee fumed, cleaning up her mess.
“She won’t.”
“Now, how come you’re so confident?”
“I went out with her, remember?”
“So?”
“Trust me. She’ll be broken hearted, but not after Chomee Yoon.”

Chapter 21 

Susan clutched the phone to her chest. Jiyong’s words stunned her. Stunned her to the very core. In such a short time, how did he manage to find a new girlfriend?! And how could he do this to her?! Plus, he couldn’t see, how would he know how she looked like!? Questions filled her mind. Strange and demanding questions.
She dropped the phone back in her purse and sat back, leaning against the bed post. She wanted answers. That Chomee girl was a threat. A threat to her. A threat to her future.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Mrs. Ko paced around her room, heated with defeat. There was nothing she could do to help her son now. Absolutely nothing. She picked up the neatly folded newspaper and opened it. The phone rang to her dismay as the headache worked its way back up the dark ravine of her brain, pounding mercilessly against her skull.
“Yeboseyo?” she snapped, plucking the phone off the hook.
“Puyin?” a trembling voice murmured.
“Yes?”
“Puyin! You won’t believe what happened!”
“Yes?” The sick feeling of dread coiled in her stomach again.
“It’s the Young Master! He was attacked last night!” Ajuma reported.
Mrs. Ko let out a breath of relief at the information. She had already learned of it this morning. “Is he quite well?”
“Thanks to Chomee. She saved him.”
“Saved him?”
“Yes! I dunno how that girl knew he was in trouble! But she saved his life!” Ajuma said proudly.
“How?” This wasn’t what Mrs. Ko had in mind.
“A man was in the room, strangling the poor boy. She said she couldn’t sleep and so she came out for a walk in the gardens when she heard a slight scream. Like a muffled shriek, she said. Then she followed the voice and found Master Jiyong under a pillow, suffocating! And she wasn’t sure what had happened. The man just took one look at her and flew out the window. Said it looked like he had seen something worse than a ghost.”
Mrs. Ko nodded. Indeed, the girl was a saint. “Thank you. I hope Jiyong’s all well.”
“Oh! He is very. They’re laughing and giggling over something right now. Poor kids. They were so frightened last night, they spent the night together. They’re such darlings. You should see them together, Puyin.”
Mrs. Ko let the happy comment sink in. “What do you mean by that?”
“I think our Jiyong’s quite fond of her. He’s more happier, that’s for sure. He laughs and talks. While he was with the other girl…he name…I don’t quite remember – ”
“Susan.”
“Yes, her. When he was with her, he seemed mad and angry all the time. Rather annoyed.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear such progress. I will be up to visit him shortly.”
“Yes, Puyin. You have a nice day now.”
“Thank you. Same to you.” Mrs. Ko settled the receiver and was seething with hate. Now she has to find a way to separate the two. Now she knows Chomee’s not harm, but a thief stealing her son away from her and Susan.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“C’mon! When are we getting to it?!” Jiyong demanded.
“Getting to what?” Chomee asked innocently.
“Why did you come here?” Jiyong asked abruptly, starting off the interrogation.
“Here?” Chomee shook her head, puzzled.
“Here, to work. Did my mother tell you to come?”
“Oh!” Now she understood what he meant. “No. It’s…It’s something else.”
“What is it?”
Chomee hesitated.
“I’ll tell you what happened to me. Fair?” Jiyong suggested.
“Uh…”
“If it’s a long story, then I’d like to hear it before it hits eight. It’s three already.”
Chomee stared at Jiyong, utterly amazed.
“Don’t stare at me like that. I can feel your eyes, you know.”
Chomee looked down at her hands sheepishly, not sure of how to respond.
“Well?”
Chomee let out a shaky sigh before starting her story. “You only wanna know why I’m here, right?”
“No…who you are.”
“I was eight at the time when my father died…”

Chapter 22 

“Chomee lost her father when she was eight. We ran away to Pusan,” Jinjoo explained, her tired eyes on Miyoung and Jaejin.
Miyoung nodded. “She told me.”
“She has?” Jinjoo asked softly.
“It took her a while. She didn’t start opening up till at the end of the school year.”
“End? I thought…”
Miyoung bit her lip, realizing her mistake. Chomee lied to her mother about being away at school! “Uh…I meant, for me. She signed up for summer courses. It was the end of the school year for me.”
Jaejin raised a brow, making a face at Miyoung.
“Oh…” But Jinjoo was skeptical. “Is that where is she right now? At school?”
“Yes…” Miyoung whispered, her voice caught.
Turning to Jaejin, Jinjoo murmured, “You’re…”
“Jaejin. Miyoung’s friend.”
“Aren’t you two a pair?” Jinjoo smiled, admiring the two children. “Beautiful, too.”
“Uh…” Miyoung started, glancing at Jaejin. She was getting ready to say Jaejin was only a friend, not her boyfriend, but she sensed Jaejin’s warning.
“Is Chomee well?”
“She’s doing very good. As a matter of fact, she has a job now,” Jaejin answered.
Miyoung threw dagger-like glares at Jaejin. Jaejin only chuckled.
“Job?”
“Yes, she works as a tutor to the little kids at a nearby elementary school,” Jaejin lied easily, his eyes mocking Miyoung.
“Tutor?”
“She’s very well liked. The kids didn’t want her to go. She’s an excellent teacher. Very good with kids,” Jaejin went on.
“Excuse me,” Miyoung interrupted, smiling sweetly. “I’m going to make a call to Suwon. I’ll be right back.” Miyoung made an about face and exited Jinjoo’s hospital room.
“Suwon’s our friend,” Jaejin told Jinjoo.
“How charming.”
Jaejin smiled.
“I hope Chomee’s not taking things too hard.” Jinjoo sighed.
“She is a tad upset.”
“Why?” Jinjoo asked, worried.
“You fell ill and she hurried in, crying very hard.”
“Crying? She was here?” Jinjoo nearly shouted.
“Last night. She had to hurry back to the dorm because Miyoung made her. We promised her we’d be here with you so she wouldn’t have to worry.”
“Oh, my child.”
“She’s fine though. We talked to her earlier. Jiyong’s taking care of her.”
“Jiyong?”
Jaejin gasped quietly as he realized the name had slipped out. “Yeah…he’s our other friend.”
“Oh…”
“Well, I’m gonna go see what’s taking Miyoung.”
Jinjoo nodded as Jaejin left, the name still lingering on her lips. “Jiyong…”
Jaejin closed the door behind him, sighing in relief. He waited at the door for Miyoung to return, not wanting to be in the room with Chomee’s mother by himself. He felt uncomfortable lying and especially without anybody there supervising him, he’d eventually slip out with the truth.
Jinjoo’s eyes drifted to the ceiling, her heart skipping a beat. “Could it be..? Ko Jiyong?”

 

*~*~*~*~*~*
“Ajuma!” Sangah whispered loudly, tugging on the sleeve of Ajuma’s shirt.
“Whuuuhuuuut?!” Ajuma grumbled, hoisting up the hose in her hand.
“Chomee and Jiyong!” Sangah croaked, pointing at the two.
“Where?!” Ajuma shouted, dropping the watering hose.
“Shhhhh!”
“Ahhhhh! The flowers! They’re drowning!”
“Look!”
“I’m old. I can’t see that far!”
“Jiyong’s smiling!”
“Smiling? He never smiled when he was with the other girl.”
“He’s laughing now!”
“Chomee, Chomee…” Ajuma sighed. “Didn’t I tell you so?”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“My mother was a housewife, never applied for a job. My father loved to gamble and drink and I lost him to that; and he the same.
“He gambled and lost money and asked people to lend him money so he could repay other people he borrowed from. Instead of keeping his promise, he gambled more and lost more. He even gambled away out house and all our precious jewlery and cars…everything! Even my mom’s wedding ring and all the other family heirlooms from my grandmothers of both sides. We were finally homeless and one time during the year, it was extremely cold, I fell sick – deathly ill and we had no money to call for a doctor.”
“Then what happened?” Jiyong interrupted, his heart wrenching with sudden pain.
“Nuthin. My mom brought me to a church and prayed every day, every night. She nursed me back to health. My mom is wonderful. She knows everything. It’s a shame how she ended up marrying my father and not someone better.” Chomee waited, not wanting to continue on.
“Go on.”
“By then, we had hoped Appa had stopped gambling. But the debts he had to pay were far too great. So, then people didn’t want money anymore. They made him give away everything he has and at the end, it still wasn’t enough. My mother was still young back then and very beautiful. Men knew she was married and still wooed her. I was only a child, anybody would have taken me and say I’m their future daughter-in-law. As long as they got back what they’ve given my father, they didn’t care. They’re heartless bastards. I’d rather have Appa rot in jail, than having them torture him like that.
“One day, I saw my father being dragged away to a warehouse. By that time, Oma found a part-time job and supported the both of us. She wouldn’t let my dad see me, so she found a small apartment. Somewhere far away, I dunno where.
“I was out playing that day and I found a mob of people screaming and cheering. I followed them and slipped in without being noticed.”
“Sounds like James Bond to me,” Jiyong joked.
“I wish,” Chomee said dryly. “Then it was just so horrifying. Everybody taking turns beating up my father. The women stood aside and cheered and cursed at him. I was just petrified. Then I was spotted and pushed to the middle of the room with my almost-dead father. I remember screaming my lungs out at the sight of blood. Not that I’ve never seen it. But it was like pools and pools of it.” Chomee shivered at the memory, her voice caught, preventing her from continue her story.
Jiyong patted her hand and gently stroke it, comforting her to the best of his ability.
Chomee recollected her thoughts and decided to leave out the graphical events. It was too painful for her to relive them and telling it. “Soon…he died. My mother and I fled to Pusan, where nobody knew us. I continued school there and now my mother’s sick. There’s nothing I can do since I’m starting new and going to school up here. The doctors up here are much better than the ones down there. I need the money for school and my mother needs money for her illness.”
“How’d you find this place?”
“It was advertised. I was going through the newspaper one day and saw this ad saying a nurse was needed to care for an eighteen year old. So I called and I’m here.”
Jiyong nodded.
“Now for your end of the bargain. What happened to you?”
“Me?” Jiyong blinked. “Do you take rain checks?”
Chomee sighed. “It’s late. I’m tired.”
“I was only sixteen at the time and my parents thought I would look cute with Susan. She comes from another rich family and her parents were associates of my parents. They were such great friends, they’re inseparable. So, they decided to hook us up. Great plan, huh? So they can keep all the money inside the family. I never really liked Susan. Only she was just drop dead gorgeous, but she was a dumb bitch. Even Jiwon who was a player said he wouldn’t want to play her ass. She was too rich for his blood.”
Chomee sat up in her chair, fully alert. “Is she really that hateful?”
“She’s always mad for some reason.”
“Have you ever really, truly loved her?”
“Didn’t I just got through saying – ”
“Never mind my big mouth. Go on.”
“They expected us to have kids and all that blah blah blah.”
“Is she really that pretty?”
“She was beyond that. I dunno, I guess her beauty was far too great and it blinded me from staring at her too much.”
Chomee giggled, easing slightly into her chair.
“You have such a cute voice. I wonder how you look like,” Jiyong wondered softly with a smile.
Chomee froze. Not quite sure of how to answer.
“Chomee?”
“I-I-I’m not pretty,” she finally managed to utter.
“Nah! You’re kidding. You have such a cute voice.”
Chomee was actually glad Jiyong was blind at the moment. Her face was flushed deeply scarlet. “Really. I’m ugly.”
“Never had a namja chingoo?”
“Not even a guy friend.”
“Are you really that cute? I’ve heard the servants talk about you. And I heard Jaeduk’s loud mouth screaming you were mad cute to Jaejin.”
“Don’t listen to them. I think they’re referring to my personality. Anyways, I thought we were done analyzing me and were talking about you. ”
Jiyong sighed. “I’ll find out how you look like!”
Chomee stuck her tongue out at him.
“I saw that!”
Chomee sat back in her chair, for a moment, really believing Jiyong had saw what she did.
“Well, we were dating for a while and then she had to go somewhere on the night of my eighteenth birthday celebration. So it was only me and Sunghoon and the rest of them.”
“That’s all?”
“I didn’t want to make it a big deal.”
“I thought it was always a big deal.”
“It was five in the morning when I went to test drive my car. Sunghoon and them bought me a new Supra for my birthday.”
“Oh.”
“Well, I was driving along just fine and I think when I skidded and started again, it was too fast. There was this nasty noise that made my stomach churn. My car scraping the graveled ground. I was unconscious for how long, I dunno. But when I woke up, I was already blind.”
Chomee gasped.
“Soon after, Susan left me, so did my parents. They made me move out here to live on my own.”
“That’s horrible.”
“It’s not that bad. As least I got rid of Susan. Sunghoon and the rest still calls to see my weekly progress.”
“They care about you.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s what my mother and Susan said too.” Jiyong frowned sourly.
Chomee sat still, her mind wandering off. Jiyong accompanied her, enjoying the light breeze.
“Do you think you still stand a chance?” Chomee inquired after a moment of peace.
Jiyong cocked his head to one side. “Do I think? I know I don’t have a chance.”
“Don’t be so negative. At least give it a try.”
“No.”
“Why?”
“Because…I don’t want to.”
“Don’t want to and can’t are two different things,” said Chomee.
“I know that.”
“I still say you should make a trip to the hospital or some specialist. I mean, it’s not a big problem.”
Jiyong shook his head, objecting to Chomee’s suggestions. “No.”
“But why?! You have the perfect opportunity!”
“Trust me. If I had the chance to see again, don’t you think I would be living at home right now?”
“But Jiyong!”
“I’ve gone to every possible doctor, every hospital, looking for a cure. If neither I nor my mom has found one last year or several months ago, what makes you think they’ll have a cure now?”
“Jiyong! That was then!” Chomee cried, raising her voice. “Now…you dunno how much better technology has gotten! Maybe your case is different! Maybe you have to wait a little longer before regaining your vision, but it’s not impossible! I mean, you didn’t have a pausible reason to be blind. It’s not like I stabbed your eyes out or anything.”
“Nah, Susan maybe. You’re too nice.”
“I’m serious here!”
“I am, too! Can’t you see this is pointless?!”
“If it’s money you’re worried about, then you shouldn’t! You’re loaded!”
“It’s not the money!”
“Then what is it?! Not time, I know. You don’t have anything to lose!”
“Can we drop the subject?”
“Only for the time being.”
“Boy, you’re more persistent than Susan.”
“Haha. Isn’t that the role of a girlfriend?” Chomee threw back.
Jiyong chuckled at the reminder. “Sure.”
“Now what?”
“I’m having problems.”
“Kid, you’ve been having them!” Chomee said playfully.
“I’m scared.”
“Why?”
“I’m serious. I don’t think I can ever sleep again.”
“Why?”
“After last night. I’m too scared to sleep.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m scared, too. But you shouldn’t be. I mean, you dunno how the guy look like, so you don’t have to worry about him haunting you.”
“That’s what makes it even scarier. I won’t know when he’ll come again and kill me. I won’t be able to see anything!”
“Sometimes, I think it’s an advantage…being blind. Although many people think of it as a flaw. I think a person could be just as beautiful and perfect when they’re blind. It’s just all wonders.”
“Yeah. I wish I could see again.”
“Go – ”
“No!”
“Fine. Just don’t tell me you wanna see again.”
“You!”
Chomee giggled.
“But you didn’t see the guy, so why are you worried?”
“Hmmm? I didn’t see his face, but I saw him and all these little images of him would float into my mind. Ya know? Scary…” Chomee shivered at the thought.
“Yeah, but you can’t beat me.”
Chomee blew a raspberry. “Well, I think it’s your loss. Not getting to see the wonders. I think it’s good too. Not as tiring or stressful. Everybody has things to worry about and you don’t. You’re handicappedm, people won’t be expecting you to perform as well and so they won’t ask you to do so much. It’s better…not having too many things to think about. Makes you old and wrinkly.
“You know what? Never thought of that. I like the way you think,” Jiyong said slowly, a lightbulb going off in his head.

Chapter 23 

The phone rang again, rocketing Mrs. Ko’s annoyance. She snatched the phone off the hook again and thundered a loud, “Hello?!”
“Ko Puyin?” came a short, choppy reply.
“I am,” she responded promptly.
“Hi, I am Jiyong’s medical doctor. Remember?”
“Yes.”
“Uhm…regarding the latest technology techniques. We do have a breakthrough. Although it may not promise your son full vision, but it does provide him a better chance for the future. And we would like to examine his eyes. Do you agree to this?”
Mrs. Ko hesitated. “What are his chances?”
“From the very last checkup, records show he has a seventy-thirty. But statistics could change over a period of time. So, as of now, we won’t be able to know.”
Mrs. Ko nodded, absorbing the detailed exchange. “When will be the best time?”
“Anytime. We are thinking the sooner, the better. It will give us more time to seek assistance to your son’s vision.”
“I’ll call you when my son and I reach an agreement,” Mrs. Ko said crisply.
“That’s fine. We’ll be waiting.”
Mrs. Ko replaced the receiver on the cradle and whooped with joy. She felt the heavy, dreadful feeling she have had endured for over a year lift off her chest and shoulders, making her grin spread even wider. She quickly called her son and notified him of such news and once again laughed giddily to herself once she was done.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“What happened?”
“My mom,” Jiyong replied, sighing loudly.
“What did she say?” Chomee asked, her brows scrunching.
“She wanted me to got to the hospital. The doctors say I have a chance of regaining my vision.”
Chomee gaped openly at him. “That’s great!”
“Yeah, but what if they’re just saying that? Don’t you think it’s a waste?”
“No! At least something’s happening!”
“Yeah. Sumthin,” Jiyong snickered.
“Why..? Aren’t you happy?”
“I’m not gonna work myself up for nothing.”
“But what if…”
“Yeah, what if? That’s the question. What if?”
Chomee ignored the comment. “When are you seeing them?”
“In two weeks.”
“Are you going?”
“I guess. I did say I wanted to see again.”
“So…did your mother say anything else?”
“Funny. She sounded a lot more cheerful.”
Chapter 24 

News was out – Ko Jiyong was recovering.
“Ouch! This thing is stiff!” Jiyong complained, rubbing the bandage.
“You’ve been saying that ever since you went into therapy. It won’t be for long,” Chomee assured him, patting his head.
“Dammit, two weeks! I’ve been wrapped up for two weeks!”
“Just be glad it’s not two months.”
“That’s very charming,” Jiyong said sarcastically.
“Very,” Chomee agreed.
“Can’t wait till tomorrow. I’ll be free of this hard shit and I’ll be able to see again.”
Chomee smiled. “Oh, the humanity!”
“Don’t get soupy,” Jiyong warned.
Chomee laughed. She stopped short when the phone started ringing and hurried to answer it.
“Chomee?”
“Yes?” Chomee whispered, feeling queasy.
“This is Jiyong’s mother.”
Chomee was breathing normally again. “Puyin! How are you?”
“Good. Do you think it’s possible that I see you for a few minutes?”
“Today?”
“Perhaps later on? Around three?”
“Is something the matter?” Chomee asked.
“There is something I would like to discuss with you.”
Chomee bit down on her lip, feeling nervous.
“I’ll come around at three,” Mrs. Ko repeated.
“Sure,” Chomee agreed slowly.
“See you then,” Mrs. Ko replied.
“Bye,” Chomee murmured, hanging up the phone.
“Chomee!” Jiyong called.
“Coming!” she answered. She stared at the phone, her heart beating rapidly. She returned to Jiyong, wondering what Mrs. Ko wanted to speak to her about. She thought back to the day she started working, trying to figure out where she had gone wrong. Maybe Mrs. Ko thought she wasn’t good enough and wanted to get rid of her. Maybe because she made too many mistakes –
“Chomee?”
“Huh?!” Chomee yelped, startled.
“What’s wrong?” Jiyong asked, concerned.
“Nu-Nuthin,” she stammered.
“Who was that?”
“Who?”
“On the phone.”
“Your mother.”
“What did she say?”
“Nothing.”
“Why are you scared?”
“Scared? I’m not scared,” Chomee lied.
“Chomee, I may be blind, but I’m not deaf.”
“It’s nothing, really.”
Jiyong gave her a skeptical look.
“Well, I have to run an errand later.”
“Is that what my mother called for?”
“No.”
Jiyong frowned.
“Seriously, no. I have to find a few things for my mother,” Chomee said uneasily. She hated lying. Even if it was something small. She hated lying.
Jiyong shrugged. He trusted her. “Fine. Can you help me ask Ajuma when I can get this thing off? I wanna know when.”
Chomee sighed. “Tomorrow. Sit still and wait.”
“But I’ll die waiting!” Jiyong cried dramatically.
“That’s something I’d look forward to,” Chomee replied just as playfully.
Jiyong smiled, feeling happy for the first time in years. “I’m gonna finally see how you look like!”
“Don’t be too disappointed,” Chomee reminded him.
Jiyong nodded. “I won’t, I won’t.”
The hours quickly passed and soon enough Chomee was in the same car as Mrs. Ko, her breathing short and nervous.
The ride was quiet and Chomee kept her eyes stuck to the window pane. She watched the beautiful scenery fly by, not quite sure of where they were headed. She tried sitting back and felt herself tighten up with uneasiness and sat stiffly in her end of the car. She clapped her hands together and rested them in her lap, cold sweat washing over her. She couldn’t help feeling queasy. Being in the same car with the bossy woman was frightening and with matters waiting to be discussed…she was ready to hide in a bomb shelter.

Chapter 25 

“I’d thought you’d never ask!” Sunghoon declared, delighted.
“Don’t get cheesy on me,” Jiyong warned.
Sunghoon chortled. “I’ll have hyung come and get you. After that we’ll get you some color on that pale colored ass of yours.”
Jiyong laughed. It felt good. When was the last time he had a good laugh? Especially with Sunghoon? Too long. “Well, you better come now. It’s a long ride.”
Sunghoon agreed. “Man, tell your mom that if she wants to deport you from home at least choose some place closer. Jeez…”
Jiyong laughed again and bid his good-bye.
Soon…I’ll be normal again…

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee sipped the orange juice, anxious for Mrs. Ko to start the discussion. She nervously darted her eyes sideways, glancing at other elegant patrons of the café.
“How’s Jiyong?”
The question brought Chomee’s attention back to Mrs. Ko. “He’s alright! In fact, he can’t wait till tomorrow.”
Mrs. Ko accepted the reply. “I have to speak to you about that.”
What have I done now?
“Now that Jiyong’ll be able to see…your services will no longer be needed,” Mrs. Ko stated flatly, choosing her words cautiously.
Chomee sat still, not quite sure of how to react. Jiyong will see, no service. No service, no money. No money, Mother gone. Chomee gasped. A sudden rush of tears flooded her eyes.
Mrs. Ko wasn’t surprised with the reaction. Somewhat amazed though. So she does like Jiyong… Who was she kidding? What girl haven’t liked Jiyong before?!
Chomee shook her head slightly, not believing what her ears are taking in. She felt her lips quiver at the information. Her tears blurred her vision and soon she couldn’t see Mrs. Ko anymore.
Sensing a breakdown drawing near, Mrs. Ko quickly thought of something else. “Tomorrow. You can leave tomorrow. Today’s too soon and all of a sudden.”
Chomee blinked a few times, her eyes clearing a little. The tears slowly evaporated and she sat back in her chair, quietly sipping the orange juice.
“You have to understand, Jiyong will want his girlfriend there. She would like to be there.”
Chomee nodded numbly, her mind reeling. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She still have a few more months before school starts and she depended on the money she was earning for tuition and for her mother’s illness. This isn’t fair. Why is everybody doing this to her?
“Are there any questions?”
Yes, why are you doing this to me?
“Don’t worry about transportation and your pay. Since this is on such short notice, I’ll have everything arranged. I recall Ajuma telling me that your mother’s in the hospital. As soon as she recovers, I’ll have a house ready for you two to move in. You can forward the hospital bills and all those other matters to me. I’ll see to it that they are to be taken care of.”
Chomee nodded. “Am I to leave first thing in the morning?”
Mrs. Ko sat back in her chair, thinking. She stared at the coffee that stood before her, the steam disappearing into the air. She pursed her lips. “Yes.”
Chomee felt a shiver crawl up her spine at the reply. She nodded again and settled the half glass of juice onto the table. “Where exactly am I moving to?”
“That’s a good question. I suppose you’ll need to live someplace quiet? I think I know somebody down in Pusan that can help me scour something up. Your mother needs to live someplace nice and quiet and plenty of fresh air, right?”
Chomee agreed.
“Then it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Chomee kept her head low, not wanting to meet the woman’s eyes. She mumbled ‘thanks’ and struggled to keep her emotions down.
“Well, we should be getting back. Don’t want to keep Jiyong wondering where we went.”
Mrs. Ko paid for the bill and together they left the café. Along the way back, Mrs. Ko picked up a few items for Jiyong. Chomee also bought a few accessories for her mother and decided against buying too much. She was to leave tomorrow. It would be difficult to pack later on tonight.
“I’ll walk with you,” Mrs. Ko told Chomee when she was getting out of the car. “Remember, no word about this to Jiyong.”
Chomee nodded. She led the way to the house and quickly retired to her room. She heard Ajuma announce Jiyong wasn’t home and that his friends had taken him out. Mrs. Ko waited around a while longer and left.
Chomee started packing right away, not wanting to waste her time wallowing in self pity. By the time she was finished, everything had fallen into place. Jiyong came home, dinner was ready, she was done crying.
“Chomee!” Jiyong shouted. “Chomee! You have to come with me tomorrow!”
Chomee froze in her tracks. Come? But she was to leave once she wakes up! She quickly hurried out of her room and halted before Jiyong’s towering figure.
“Chomee?” Jiyong cried. He reached for Chomee’s hand and led her away. “Sunghoon and Jiwon has agreed to come. Everybody else. Miyoung and Suwon, too. I want you to be there.”
Chomee swallowed the lump that formed in her throat and forced herself to speak. “Ji – ”
“Can you believe it’s tomorrow!? I can finally see again!”
“Susan’s gonna be there,” Chomee let out.
Jiyong stilled, shocked with the outburst. “You’re just saying that, right?”
Chomee shook her head. “No. It’s the truth. Your mother told me.”
“What?” Jiyong growled.
Chomee gasped silently.
“When did she say this?” Jiyong demanded.
Chomee stayed silent, her eyes wide with fear.
“When?” Jiyong repeated, squeezing Chomee’s hand.
“Ow! Today!” Chomee yelped, her hand hurting.
“I’m sorry,” Jiyong apologized, letting go of Chomee’s hand.
“It’s okay,” Chomee mumbled, shaking off the pain.
“Well, it’s me that’s recovering. I don’t want Susan there. So she won’t be there,” Jiyong confirmed. “She’ll know she’s not welcomed.”
Chomee regarded Jiyong skeptically. “Well…”
“I’m sorry! You’re hungry, right?”
“Ji – ”
“C’mon!” Jiyong took Chomee to the dining hall and chattered away, not heeding to Chomee’s discomfort of the whole situation.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“She’ll leave first thing tomorrow,” Mrs. Ko said definitely. “By then, Susan’ll be with us at the hospital.”
“How can you be so sure?” her husband asked, getting ready for bed.
“I’ve never failed yet. Have I?”
“I guess not.”
“Good. I’ve called Susan already. We’ll bring her along and we’ll get Jiyong later. They should really catch up.”
“Whatever…”
“Some supportive male figure you are!”
“Whaaaaat?! I didn’t object! Isn’t that good enough?”
Mrs. Ko shrugged. “Hmm…”
“You seem more enthusiatic about this than Jiyong is.”
“I’m his mother! Shouldn’t I be?”
“Me and my golden mouth. Ignore what I’ve just said.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…and the song goes on. Go to sleep.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Go to sleep.”
“No! It’s too early!”
“Jiyong, it’s two already.”
“It’s early!”
“Jiyong…you’re forgetting that you’re going to the hospital at ten.”
“So?”
Chomee sighed. “Never mind. I’ll sleep, you talk.”
“Chomee!”
Chomee picked up a pillow off her bed and threw it at Jiyong. “What?”
“It’s early.”
“Yes, it is! I should be sleeping.”
“No! I’m having fun!”
“Doing what?”
“Annoying you.”
Chomee had to chuckle. “You’re doing a mighty fine job.”
“I wanna ask you something.”
“What?”
Jiyong hesitated. “How should I put this?”
“My pillow? You can return it.”
Chomee waited patiently as Jiyong collected his thoughts.
“What are you gonna do now that I’m gonna see?” Jiyong asked instead.
“Uh…I dunno. Back to school?”
“You’ll leave?” Jiyong couldn’t resist feeling suprised.
“Are you asking me not to?”
Jiyong blinked, silently wishing that he could see Chomee. Too bad the hours don’t pass fast enough. The bandage around his head was getting aggravating. “No…I’m asking…”
“Asking?”
“What do you think of my mom?” Jiyong smiled meekly.
“Your mom?” Chomee was confused. “What’s wrong with her?”
“Errr….never mind…”
Chomee was baffled. She reclaimed her pillow and waited for Jiyong to ask his question.
“Never mind,” Jiyong said again. “Good night.”
Chomee clutched the pillow close to her heart, not sure of what had happened. She watched as Jiyong marched out of her room, her emotions set in a frenzy. “Oh, God…what’s happening to me?”

Chapter 26 

Tomorrow…
Susan settled into bed with a smile on her face. She would see Jiyong and he could see her. But what about the other girl? Would she be there too? She’d have to wait till tomorrow…

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong sat in his room, not sure if he should approach Chomee again. He liked her and cared a lot about her. She kindled his heart the way Susan didn’t. She’s so many things Susan’s not. She’s not fake and disgusting like Susan. Chomee…if only he could see how she looked like…

*~*~*~*~*~*

“No…I do not like him…Susan…Susan…his girlfriend…” Chomee told herself, her eyes aimlessly roamed the bare ceiling.
It’s true. She don’t like him. But she likes him. She has her share of concerns for him and she thinks of him like a friend, but she wouldn’t dare to exaggerate the word ‘friend.’ She only considered him as a mere associate and nothing more. Oh, the shock if her mother finds out.
“Oma…I’m coming home tomorrow…” she murmured. “Home, where I belong…”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jinjoo pried her eyes open to find the room pitch dark. “Chomeeeeee….” She then remembered Chomee was away at school. But Jiyong’s name created a disturbance. It sounded so familiar, she was sure she had met him or seen him somewhere before.
“Jiyong…” Jinjoo thought back to when Chomee’s friend had mentioned the name. Funny, Jinjoo just realized her daughter’s friend was a male! And now that young man had said Jiyong was another friend, Jinjoo felt her heart chill. “Oh, Chomee…you’re too young to have a boyfriend…”

Chapter 27 

The shrilling alarm startled Chomee and awoke her. She jumped out of bed, dazed and confused.
“Morning,” Sangah chirped, sticking her head in through the door.
“Uh?” Chomee turned to her clock, her eyes finally focusing. Seven. “I’m going back to bed.”
“Sure. I’ll wake you when Jiyong goes to the hospital.”
Chomee nodded off, Sangah’s voice rambled on. She fell back onto her bed and curled up into a ball, sleep drowing her out.
Purring softly, she whispered, “Oma…”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong laid wide awake in bed, patiently waiting for the day to start. It was pitch dark and Jiyong wondered how things would look like when lights and color come flooding back. How did he look? He wanted to see Chomee and recognize her visually. He wanted to check his watch for the time. He wanted to do so many things!
“Soon….” he sighed. “Soon….”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Up! Up!” Mrs. Ko bellowed. “We have to go get Susan! I have to go send Chomee off! Up!!!”
Mr. Ko moaned. His wife never left him alone.
“GET UP!!!!!”
Mr. Ko tossed the blanket away and stormed off to the bathroom. He slammed the door shut and sat stiffly on the toilet, his wife’s ailing simmering. He prayed to have peace while he quietly dozed off, but his wife returned to pound on the door, rattling his bones.
Mr. Ko, startled, jumped out of his skin. It took a while for the banging to register and once it did, he immediately hopped off the toilet seat and started brushing his teeth.
“Are you dead in there?!” his wife screeched. “I’m going to pick Susan up! I’ll be back!”
“Why can’t you tell the girl to meet us there?!” Mr. Ko asked his reflection in the mirror. He shrugged and went on brushing his teeth as he listened to his wife’s movements in the bedroom. She had already changed and he heard her march out of their bedroom, yelling for a servant. He rinsed out his mouth and quickly shaved before he gave his face a bath.
The phone rang loudly and Mr. Ko took his time opening the bathroom door. A maid appeared and informed him his son was on the line. Mr. Ko waved the woman away and reached for the receiver.
“Appa?” Jiyong’s deep voice inquired.
“No, Jiyong. I’m one of your friends,” his father replied.
“Haha, that was so funny,” Jiyong retorted sarcastically.
“How are you feeling?”
“Nervous,” Jiyong answered truthfully. He never failed to tell the truth when he’s talking to his father. His mother…on the other hand…
“Well, I guess that’s normal. Your mother’s on her way to get Susan.”
Jiyong nearly bit his tongue.
“Jiyong?”
Jiyong finally found his voice and the letters started forming in his mind. “SUSAN?!!”
“Yes. Susan. Remember? Once upon a time, there was a girl by the name of Susan and she was your girlfriend.”
“B-B-But…WHY?!” Jiyong cried. He was sure it sounded more like a whine than a question, but he was confused. “I thought Chomee was only joking!”
“Chomee?”
“Never mind that. How…no, why is Susan coming?” Jiyong repeated.
“Why, I thought you wanted her to be there!” Mr. Ko exclaimed. It was a strange plan, indeed. After all these years and months, Susan haven’t even paid a visit and now all of a sudden she’s interested in Jiyong again.
“NO! I never wanted her to be ANYWHERE! Did Oma set this up?! I hope that stupid bitch drops dead!”
“Jiyong!” his father thundered.
“I meant Susan, Appa,” Jiyong explained.
“Oh…but still!”
“That’s unfair! Oma never asked me how I’d feel about this! Now, how are we all going to fit?! I wish Chomee wasn’t as nice so she can tell Susan to fuck off!”
“JIYONG!” his father bellowed again.
“Jiyong,” a small voice chorused.
“Chomee?” Jiyong said almost too eagerly.
Chomee nodded. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I had no idea where you were in the house. Ajuma wants you to get ready. I have to go soon.”
“Go? Go where, Chomee?”
“I have to go. Sorry again,” Chomee apologized and quickly hung up before Jiyong could ask any more questions.
“Cho — ”
“You better get ready. Your mother wouldn’t like to wait once she gets there.”
“Yes, Appa. Bye,” Jiyong said hastily.
“Take good care,” his father advised.
“Yes, Appa.”
They both hung up simultaneously and returned to their business. Jiyong hurried downstairs to question Chomee of her sudden announcement and his father went on to change out of his sleeping attire.
“Chomee!”
“Hurry, I’m late already,” Chomee instructed Sangah and helped push her suitcase out of her room.
“Late? Jiyong’s not due at the hospital till later on in the day,” Sangah said, confused.
“I know that, but I was supposed to leave early in the morning. I have to get home to my mother,” Chomee lied. Well, it is partly the truth.
“Chomee!” Jiyong cried again. He felt his way around the servant quarters and managed to find his way back to where he wanted to go.
“If he asks, just say I’m visiting my mother. She’s in critical condition,” Chomee told Sangah.
“Really?” Sangah gasped.
“She’s actually alright, but I’m worried,” Chomee said hastily, running back into her room for her pictures.
“Are you coming back?” Sangah whispered.
Chomee hugged her pictures and followed Sangah out, “I doubt it.”
“Why? I thought school don’t start till…don’t you still have a few more months?” Sangah questioned. “Or are you going home and care for your mother?”
“I want to spend more time with my mother. After I go off to school, I won’t be able to see her till vacation. And that takes a while.”
Sangah nodded sadly. “But…you and Master Jiyong…”
Chomee slowed her pace. “What?”
Sangah stopped and spun around. “You two…”
“What?” Chomee repeated. “What’s wrong?”
“Jiyong’s much nicer now. Because of you. And I think he’s beginning to like you,” Sangah said softly.
Chomee stood rooted to the floor, not sure of how to react.
“Chomee!” Jiyong exclaimed, coming towards them. He came closer, not aware of the suitcase that stood in his way.
“Master! Watch out!” Sangah shouted, reaching for the luggage.
Chomee rushed over to Jiyong to stop him and waited for him to calm down. “What is it?”
“What was that?” Jiyong demanded. “Why’d you stop me?”
“You were going to trip,” Chomee replied, signaling for Sangah to move the suitcase out.
“Over?”
“A box. Ajuma wanted us to take out the platters, she’s cooking up a feast in celebration,” Chomee said as the thought came to mind. Something’s wrong with her. She has learned how to lie in such a short period of time and she’s doing it very often now.
“Oh,” Jiyong responded with a smile. “Well, then. I guess that’s good. Where are you going though? You said you had to go.”
“I meant I had to go help out. You were on the phone and I didn’t want to disturb you,” Chomee lied again.
Jiyong nodded. “Well, my mother’s on her way over and I think Susan’s coming with us.”
Chomee’s hand slipped and the picture frames tumbled to the floor. “N-N-Now?!”
“What’s that?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. Just some things Ajuma wanted me to get for her,” Chomee answered uneasily as she watched Jiyong bend to pick up the items.
Jiyong slowly examined the things with his hands and turned them over to Chomee. “Picture frames?”
Chomee remained silent, not wanting to answer.
“Well, my mother’s gonna be here soon, better go get ready,” Jiyong said one final time and returned to his room.
Chomee quickly stole away to the driveway, where her ride awaited her. Just as she made it to the car, another one, a Mercedes Benz appeared, freezing the flow of her blood.
Mrs. Ko saw the petite girl staring at her approaching car and immediately her eyes narrowed to slits. “Shouldn’t she be gone by now?”
“Who, ajuma?” Susan asked innocently.
“That little wretch,” Jiyong’s mother replied. “Well, that’s one of the reasons why I came early. After I get rid of her, we’ll be on our way.”
Chomee stood by the car and waited for the Benz to come closer. Her legs are numb like jello. Although her mind is telling her to go, but her legs aren’t following command. The Benz rolled forward and soon it came to a halt. Chomee shielded her eyes as the beam of the bright sun bounced off the hood.
Mrs. Ko stepped out of the vehicle with such coolness, the heat was no longer bothering Chomee. “I thought you were gone already.”
“I got a late start,” Chomee said meekly. “I was just leaving.”
“Oh,” Mrs. Ko said amusingly. “Well, I’ll escort you,” she offered.
Susan had already gotten out of the car and observed Chomee from a distance.
Chomee kept her eyes on her sandals and waited as the driver unloaded her luggage from the car and into Mrs. Ko’s.
“Wait inside, sweetie,” Mrs. Ko told Susan.
Susan nodded and glued her eyes on Chomee for a while longer. Definitely not his type.
Chomee fidgeted under Susan’s gaze, not looking up. She waited as the driver removed her luggage and piled it into Mrs. Ko’s. Susan finally shifted her eyes away and headed up towards the stairs just as Jiyong found his way out.
“CHOMEE!” Jiyong shouted, shoving past a protesting Sangah. “CHOMEE!”
Chomee gasped as she spun around. “Jiyong!”
“Chomee? What are you doing out here?”
Chomee blinked, trying to think of a reply. “Uh…Uh…”
Jiyong paused. “Where’s my mom?”
Silence.
“I know she’s here. Her Mercedes is right in front of me.”
Chomee glanced at the exquisite car, amazed with Jiyong.
“I’m right next to the car, darling,” his mother finally spoke up.
“Oma?”
“Yes, we’ll be on our way shortly.”
“Chomee, too. She’s coming with us,” Jiyong informed his mother.
“What?” Mrs. Ko demanded with a nervous chuckle.
Chomee bit her lip as she tried to move towards the Benz. She could feel Susan’s eyes ablaze now. They were burning holes into the ground, causing the heat to spread. She could still hear Jiyong rambling on, catching the last phrase.
“I don’t want Susan there. Save yourself time and tell her to go to Hell.”
Susan gasped.
“C’mon, Chomee! We gotta make you pretty. Gotta give me a good first impression of you,” Jiyong finished coyly, reaching for Chomee.
Chomee threw her Bambi eyes on Mrs. Ko, a seething Mrs. Ko, and waited for permission. When she got nothing, Jiyong yanked her after him, running into the house, shivering uncontrollably.

Chapter 28 

“What’s that?”
“What’s what?”
“That.”
“That’s what?”
“Jaeduk…” Jiwon growled menancingly.
Jaeduk giggled childishly and fingered the curly ribbons one final time. “A present.”
“For…?”
“Jiyong, you silly poop.”
“Oh, damn, ya dickhead! We’re just gonna go see him, it’s not even his birthday!”
“I know. But I feel bad for him.”
“What did you get him?”
“A new car,” Jaeduk shouted with a bright smile.
“New car?” Jiwon repeated dumbly.
“Yeah. Remember how we got him one before and it’s completely f-ed up now?”
Jiwon had to chortle. Jaeduk may act like a dumb ass but he is one mighty fine gentleman. “Yeah.”
“So, I got him a brand new car. That way, no accidents, no injuries. Even if there is one, it’ll be minor,” Jaeduk finished with a squeak.
“Oh, is that so?” Jiwon managed to let out through subdue laughter. “I see. I thought you got him a real car for real.”
“I did!” Jaeduk cried. “And it’s in this very box!”
“Okay, okay. We’ll see when we get there.”
“But I didn’t get Chomee anything.” Jaeduk said with a frown.
“I’m sure she don’t mind,” Jiwon replied, slipping his celluar into the pocket of his khakis.
“You think so?” Jaeduk asked hopefully. He picked up Jiyong’s present and held it with both hands, following Jiwon.
“Of course. Just give her a big, wet kiss.”
Jaeduk halted in his tracks, looking uncertain.
Jiwon chuckled under his breath and pulled Jaeduk after him. “Let’s go!”
“You serious about kissing her?” Jaeduk finally squeaked moments later.
But Jiwon held onto that mischievous smile, leading Jaeduk towards his car.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“C’mon, c’mon!” Sunghoon shrilled. He chased after Jaejin with a towel in hand. “Hurry, hurry! Yiya, yiya, yiya, yiya!”
“Stop snapping me with that thing!” Jaejin yelled, spinning around to a halt.
“If I hadn’t climbed in through your window, come after you with this towel, you’d still be on that toilet! Reading this-this-this…this stupid comic!” Sunghoon sputtered.
“It’d be nice if you had rang the bell,” Jaejin answered dryly.
“Well, it would have been nice if you had come to the door,” Sunghoon argued. “If you weren’t so engrossed with this stupid comic, you would have heard the bell.”
“Oh…” Jaejin said sheepishly. “Well, if I may, then…”
“No!” Sunghoon shouted, hitting Jaejin with the towel again.
Jaejin shrugged and limped his way back upstairs.
“And for God’s sake! Wipe your ass!” Sunghoon hollered after him.
“Say what?!”
“Wipe your dirty asssssssss!” Sunghoon hissed.
“You just said no, you freak!” Jaejin screamed, changing into a different outfit.
“What?!” Sunghoon muttered, throwing down the towel. “I’ll be outside.”
Jaejin prepared himself for the trip to the hospital and hurried outside when the phone in his room rang. As he locked the door, Jiwon’s car pulled up before his house and Sunghoon was getting in the back. Jaejin hopped down the stairs and entered after Sunghoon.
“Did you wipe your ass?” Sunghoon asked, inching away from Jaejin.
Jaejin paused. “Uhhh…I forgot?”
Jiwon froze. “What?”
“Hyung! You didn’t wipe your butt?!” Jaeduk shrieked overly dramatic. “Then that means you didn’t wash your hands?!”
“Hey! It wasn’t my fault! Blame it on the manhwa!” Jaejin cried. “Besides, this pervert climbed in through my window, chasing me out of the bathroom before I could even pull my pants up!”
“Ewwwwwwwwww!” Jaeduk wailed.
“Could you shut up?” Jiwon shouted.
“Could you tell him to go clean his ass?” Sunghoon retorted.
“Don’t have time! He can do that when we get to the hospital. I’m pretty sure they got Baby Wipes there,” Jiwon sneered.
Jaejin and Sunghoon exchanged glances before sticking their tongues out at each other.
“Hey! Guess what?!” Jaeduk chirped.
“What?!” Jaejin and Sunghoon chorused.
“I got Jiyong a car!” Jaeduk replied with a goofy smile. The smile remained on his face throughout the entire ride. Sunghoon and Jaejin bickering like an old couple, Jiwon rushing through the crazy afternoon traffic as Jiyong and Chomee departs for their trip.
Chapter 29 

“You’re cold,” Jiyong said quietly, holding Chomee’s hand.
Chomee nodded. Although it was midsummer, the sun blazing bright over the city of Seoul, she felt cold and frozen.
“Would you like for the AC to be turned off?” Jiyong asked in the same quiet tone.
Chomee actually wanted the heat to be turned on. “It’s ok.”
“Are you sure?”
Chomee nodded again and turned to look out the window. She left her hand in Jiyong’s, unmoving. It didn’t occur to her that he was holding onto her. She watched as other cars drove past theirs. Jiyong’s mother’s car for one. She could feel herself grow colder, the situation now in a mess.
“What are you thinking about?” Jiyong questioned gently.
“My mother,” Chomee murmured, not taking her eyes off the traffic.
Jiyong sighed and kept his unseeing eyes straight ahead. It was hard to keep still. He wanted to know what Chomee was thinking about. How she looked like. Why she was so quiet. It’s hard to imagine a girl like her…single? Of course, Chomee isn’t shallow or materialistic like Susan. She’s…human.
“Jiyong…” Chomee whispered absentmindedly.
“Yes, Chomee?”
“Why can’t I be rich?”
Jiyong didn’t know how to answer. He kept a straight face and left the question hanging.
Chomee leaned back in the seating and closed her eyes. Her mother. Jiyong. Miyoung. Money. School. Tuition. So many things to worry about. She leaned towards Jiyong and rested her head on his shoulder. “Love is so blinding…”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Is that her luggage back there?” Mr. Ko asked, glancing behind him.
His wife grunted as a reply and took another drag from her cigarette.
“I thought she was gone. Or at least you said she was.”
“But our precious son doesn’t want her gone. She’s in the other car with him.”
Susan sat beside herself, thinking in her own world. Jiyong chose the poor bitch over her. How was that…possible?! The little girl don’t match him. He was tall and she was…tiny. And they’re in the same car…TOGETHER! This infuriated her. Jiyong was hers. Chomee had no right to interfere.
“There’s no way we can get rid of her now,” Mrs. Ko said, surrendering.
“Why not?”
“Jiyong’ll know how she looks like.”
Susan felt her ears prick as a thought came across her mind. “Unless…”
The couple fell silent, waiting for Susan to continue.
“Jiyong has to undergo a few hours of surgery, right?”
“Two hours, yes,” Mrs. Ko replied.
“During the two hours, he has to be unconscious, right?”
Mrs. Ko gasped as it dawned on her. “We have her luggage.”
“She can still leave while Jiyong’s in surgery,” Mr. Ko finished.
Mrs. Ko smiled. “What would do without you, Susan?”
Susan returned the smile. “You would do just fine.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Okay, great!” Jiwon bellowed, kicking his tire.
“See! I knew we should have came in two cars!” Sunghoon exclaimed, waving madly at Jiwon’s car.
“Does that mean we’re not gonna see Jiyong?” Jaeduk asked, his expressions of a little boy.
“NO!” Jiwon screamed. “We’re gonna see the damn bastard, alright?! Now stop whining!”
Jaeduk gave Jiwon his pouty lip and sat on the curb, toying with the ribbons wrapped around the gift box.
“Damn! I just had this car in the shop the other day!” Jiwon continued in his angry voice. “Fuck this Beemer! I should have stuck with a Jaguar!”
Jaejin giggled as Jiwon went on rambling. He sat down next to Jaeduk, comforting the disappointed grown up baby. “We’ll get there.”
Sunghoon pulled out his phone and started pressing all sorts of buttons, bored with Jiwon’s ailing. Jaejin, stared off into space, watching Sunghoon’s thumb move smoothly over the keys. Then it hit him.
“JANG SUWON!”
Jaeduk dropped the box and covered his ears, Jaejin’s sudden outburst blew his eardrums out.
Jiwon paused in the middle of his ranting and stared quizzically at Jaejin as Sunghoon looked up from his phone, his brows raised.
“Suwon! He’s not with us!”
Jaejin’s friends exchanged glances, not quite catching up.
“Yeah? So?” Sunghoon said, leaning against Jiwon’s car.
“Call his ass! He gotta car! He DRIVES!!!” Jaejin finally screamed.
“Oh, yeah,” Jiwon cried, realizing what Jaejin said was true.
Sunghoon punched in Suwon’s number and waited for someone to pick up the phone.
“Tell him not to bring Miyoung!” Jaejin reminded Sunghoon. “Her big ass takes up the whole backseat!”
“Yeboseyo?” a husky voice mumbled.
“Suwon!” Sunghoon hooted. “Where are you?!”
“Well, what number did you dial?” Suwon asked.
“Oh, you’re at home. We need you to come down and get us. Jiwon’s car broke down.”
Suwon sighed. “Didn’t he just had that thing fixed?”
“Apparently not,” Sunghoon snorted. “You busy?”
“No. Was getting ready to pick up Miyoung,” Suwon replied, pulling on his socks.
“Speaking of her. What’s with you two?”
“What?”
“What’s going on with you two? Getting back together?” Sunghoon teased.
“Fuck no,” Suwon growled.
Sunghoon, taken aback by the response, didn’t reply. Changing the subject, he asked, “So, you’re gonna come now?”
“After I get Miyoung,” Suwon answered, picking up his keys.
“Suwon, how are we all gonna fit?”
“Hmm? You can go in the trunk. You’re small enough.”
“No!”
“I’m coming in my dad’s van. Don’t worry.”
“Van? The UHaul thingy?!!” Sunghoon shrieked.
“No, hyung. There are seats inside the van. I’m leaving now.”
“Fine. We’re by the exit.”
“What?!” Suwon shouted.
“Great place to break down, huh? Hurry! We’re the second to the last one by the hospital!!”
Suwon groaned. “You bums! You could walk there from where you’re at!”
“Hey! Jiwon’s driving a BEEMER! We can’t leave that here,” Sunghoon reminded Suwon.
“Okay, okay. I’m coming. Laters,” Suwon mumbled.
Sunghoon pushed a button and turned to his awaiting friends. “Suwon’s coming.”
“With…”
“Miyoung in his dad’s van,” Sunghoon finished.
“How did I know?” Jaeduk piped.
“Now we gotta sit out and wait,” Jiwon said to no one in particular.
Jaeduk frowned. “I’m gonna die.”
“Why?” Jaejin asked.
“I can’t stand the sun and I’m bored.”
“Oh, then…try standing on your head,” Jaejin suggested.
Jaeduk’s eyes lit up. “That’s exactly what I’m gonna do!” With that, he handed the box over to Jaejin and immediately started on the task.
Sunghoon grunted at the silly boy and continued playing with his phone. “Make sure he don’t bust his head open. We already have Jiyong in the hospial. Can’t have a Jaeduk in the hospital. Let alone a normal hospital.”
“Shut up! I don’t see you doing anything as entertaining!” Jaeduk retorted, standing on his hands.
“Huh!” Sunghoon stuffed his phone in the pocket of his white jeans and puffed his cheeks out. “Like what?!”
“Walk from car to car in your boxers, asking for phone numbers!”
Jiwon’s mouth fell open. “You don’t seriously consider that entertaining!”
Sunghoon’s evil grin. “Watch me.” He jumped into Jiwon’s car, unbuckling his belt.
“Goodness, you dyke! Not in my car!” Jiwon screeched. “Get the FU…WHOA!” He spun right around, not wanting to drag Sunghoon out anymore.
Sunghoon leapt out of Jiwon’s car, shirtless with boxers. His socks pulled all the way up to his knees. His scruffy sneakers untied, his jewelry all inside Jiwon’s car. “Wuh wuh?!” He screamed at Jaeduk.
Jaeduk fell over, the sight painfully hilarious. “You boner!” he yelled. But it was also a horrible sight. Sunghoon was nothing but bone. He looked like he was just released from a concentration camp.
“Oh, my virgin eyes,” Jaejin muttered.
“This should be interesting to watch,” Jiwon mumbled, still facing the other direction.
“Paper and pen, please?” Sunghoon squealed. He snatched a notepad in Jiwon’s car and rummaged around for a pen. “Aha!”
“I want you to skip from car to car, knock on windows and get numbers. Let’s see how many you can get without your pretty clothes,” Jaeduk dared, an evil grin plastered on his face.
Chapter 30 

Miyoung pulled the one strap bag over her shoulder and clasped it shut. She approached the front door to wait outside for Suwon. Since the rest went with Jiwon and she couldn’t go until later in the day, she nagged Suwon for a ride to the hospital. Afterall, everybody was invited to this big, special event. Jiyong…he’s able to see again!
She locked the front door and plopped down on the front steps of the house, waiting for Suwon to arrive. She checked her watch and sighed. A gorgeous day. It wasn’t too hot in her area of Seoul. Just perfect. Breezy.
As she drifted further away into her thoughts, Suwon pulled up, honking loudly. Miyoung snapped back to the present and jumped up from her spot on the steps. She hopped down the stairs and skipped to Suwon’s car, a bright smile on her face. “Hey!”
“Sup?” Suwon replied as Miyoung slammed the door shut.
“Nothing much. Pretty day, isn’t it?”
“Uh-huh,” Suwon answered, pulling away. He drove towards the highway, the traffic growing heavy as he approached. “Ughhh…”
“Why must this always happen?” Miyoung demanded, shaking her open palms at the massive numbers of cars before her. “Why?”
“And Sunghoon’s waiting for us, too,” Suwon moaned. He let his head fall against the steering wheel in despair as the words he had just spoken sank into Miyoung’s mind.
“WHOOOOOOO?” Miyoung hooted shrilly.
With his head still down, Suwon replied, “Sunghoon. Jiwon’s car broke down.”
“WHAT?!?!” Miyoung shrieked. “How many’s with them?!”
“The four of them,” Suwon said in a muffled voice.
“Soo..” Miyoung’s voice faultered. She glanced around her. “Suwon. You came in your car. Dammit! YOUR car! Where’s the UHaul?!”
“What must you people insist on calling what my father drives a damn UHaul?!” Suwon fired. “To answer your question, I didn’t want to drive his van! I like my car better.”
Miyoung pursed her lips, willing herself to be quiet. Five minutes passed and she blurted, “How are they gonna fit?!”
“They will. Sunghoon can go in the trunk. He’s small.”
They slowly moved along in the slow traffic, still arguing loudly about the ride. As they approached the exit where Jiwon’s car sit, Miyoung saw a stick figure bounce a few yards away.
“What was that?”
“What was what?”
“That. I saw a scarecrow walk from car to car. A naked one, too.”
Suwon raised a brow. “Are you okay? Maybe you need a checkup at the hospital too.”
“No, I’m fine. I know I saw — THERE!!!” Miyoung hollered, jumping in the passenger seat. She stabbed at the window wildly. “You see it? You see it?” she cried eagerly. “He’s right there!”
Suwon squinted his eyes due to the glaring sun, trying to catch a glimpse of Miyoung’s scarecrow. “No. I don’t see anything.”
Miyoung growled. “How could you have not seen him!? He was right there!” She gave up and fell back against the seat, sighing loudly.
Suwon scratched his head, not quite catching up.
Miyoung turned to look out of her side of the window, her eyes just watching the nearby cars. Then…she saw him.
“What did you say he was wearing again?” Suwon asked, his eyes found bare skin. It was a guy.
“KANG SUNGHOON!!!!!!!!” Miyoung screamed on top of her lungs. She rolled down the window and yelled again. “KANG SUNGHOOOOOOON!!!!!”
“What?”
“That’s Sunghoon! Look! He’s naked!” Miyoung exclaimed pointing the bony figure.
Suwon looked in the direction of Miyoung’s finger and sure enough, he saw what she was screaming about. “WHAT THE FUCK!?!?”
“Oh, the torture,” Miyoung moaned. “He should join the freak show.”
Suwon agreed without hesitation. “I wonder what everybody else is doing?”
“One’s probably humping a car or jacking one,” Miyoung grunted.
“He’s coming over!”
“Let’s laugh in his face!”
“No! Get down!”
“Why?”
“Wait…get his number!”
“Why? I have his number,” Miyoung said disgustingly.
Suwon laughed. “He’s prostituting himself.”
Miyoung’s eyes lit up.
“Uh-oh,” Suwon murmured. “I know that look.”
Miyoung’s lips spread to a smile. “Watch.” She turned away and stuck her head out the window. She placed two fingers in her mouth and released a loud whistle. “Hey, you bitch!”
Suwon bursted out laughing. “This should be good.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Thanks,” Sunghoon said sweetly, flashing his irresistable smile.
The girls in the car squealed with delight and waved as Sunghoon pranced away to the next car. Behind him, Jiwon and Jaeduk were jeering at him while Jaeduk was on a laughing marathon. Jaeduk imitated one of the girls and swatted a playful hand at Jaejin, giggling feverishly. “You’re sooooooooooooo cute,” Jaeduk drawled.
Sunghoon turned to them and stuck his tongue out at them. He kept his head turned to them, not realizing he was so distracted, he paused right before Suwon’s car.
“Thank God you have tinted windows,” Miyoung told Suwon.
Suwon cackled again.
“Hey, you fuckin whore!” Miyoung barked, opening the window to a slight crack.
Sunghoon turned his head abruptly at the gruff feminine voice. Uh-oh…
“Yeah, you! Fuckin bitch! How much you charge?”
Sunghoon froze. He wanted numbers, not sex. Did he really look that sexy?
“Hey, dumb broad! I’m talking to you!” Miyoung went on. “Are you fuckin stupid?!”
“Uhh…hi,” Sunghoon said meekly.
“Get in! Where’s your clothes, boy?!” Miyoung demanded, trying to smother her laughter.
“Uhhh…”
“Did the previous bastard that fucked you keep it?! Boy, are you mute?!” Miyoung blasted. “You can’t talk, can you? Are you stupid? How good’s your service? Take off your shorts! Let’s see what’s inside!”
Sunghoon stood rigid straight, his blood draining from his scrawny body. He clutched his sex, his eyes bulging at the stranger’s request. “Uhhh…”
“What are you doing prostituting on a highway like this? Get in, baby!” Miyoung shrieked, her sides hurting.
Suwon bit on his lower lip to keep from roaring. “You scared the shit outta him. Look, he’s gonna pee!”
“Why you holding onto your penis like that?! Scared you’re gonna lose it!?” Miyoung screamed.
That was it. All the laughter Suwon had fought to hold back came out like thunder. He belted out with all his strength, as Miyoung shrieked with laughter. Petrified, Sunghoon ran back to his friends, his face masked with fear.
“Hide me!” he cried, looking from Jiwon to Jaeduk, Jaeduk to Jaejin. “There’s a maniac on the road!”
“What?” Jiwon asked, looking up from his Beemer sign.
“Some girl wanted sex. She thought I was a prostitute!”
The three trade amused glances before choking on laughter. They threw their eyes on Sunghoon again, giving him another once over and released it all on him. Their mouths tumbled open, pouring out the most nastiest noise Sunghoon have ever heard. Their hooting laughter.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I wonder…”
“What?”
“I wonder if Sunghoon’s coming..” said Jiyong.
“Is he supposed to?” Chomee asked.
“Well, he said he was.”
“Well, we can always call him and find out.”
“Are we there yet?”
“I have no idea,” Chomee admitted. “I think so.”
“We’re close. Ten more minutes,” the driver replied.
“Ten minutes…” Jiyong repeated softly to himself.

Chapter 31 

Once the cars were parked, side by side, everybody unloaded the cars and huddled in a circle. They approached the hospital together, Chomee with Jiyong, Susan with Jiyong’s parents. The drivers remained in the vehicles, chatting with each other as they wait for further instructions.
As they entered the hospital, the cold air rushed out to greet them. Chomee looked around with her big eyes, the sparkling cleanliness striking her. She felt a shiver course through her, just being in a hospital brings up a wave of guilt. She thought to her mother, sick in a hospital…God knows how far away.
They checked in at the front desk and were sent to the waiting room. The front desk attendants scurried about, each of them recognizing the Ko family. They quickly went to look for the doctor while Chomee went on staring about her.
“Such a bumpkin,” Susan muttered disgustingly.
They entered the empty waiting room and all took seats. The married couple together, Chomee and Jiyong, and Susan by herself. They waited in silence, the quietness between them growing tense. Chomee stared out the window to avoid conversations, Susan flipped through the old magazines before her and Mrs. Ko back in her cacoon and Mr. Ko’s eyes wandered around as Jiyong played with Chomee’s hand.
“Chomee?” Jiyong said meekly.
Chomee jumped slightly. “Huh?”
“Where are we?”
“In the waiting room.”
“Where’s my parents?”
“They’re right here.”
“Oh.”
Mrs. Ko’s mind snapped back to the present and stared at her son. Did she just hear disappointment in his voice?
“Ko Puyin!” a loud voice boomed.
Startled, all eyes turned in the direction of the voice. It was a doctor. Jiyong’s doctor.
“Who’s that?” Jiyong whispered, tugging on Chomee’s fingers.
“A doctor,” Chomee murmured, keeping her eyes on the big man in white.
The doctor exchanged a few words and handshakes with Jiyong’s parents before turning to the kids. “You must be Jiyong.”
Jiyong smiled warily.
“Here’s what will happen, since this is the first time a surgery like this is performed — it’ll take approximately two hours. Probably longer, but at least two.”
“What?!” Jiyong shouted. “How come I wasn’t notified of this?!”
Everybody exchanged glances and shrugs, all waiting for the doctor to go on.
“I was never told about this,” Jiyong said again, breaking the silence.
“You’ll have to undergo two hours of surgery,” the doctor repeated.
“Well, what are they gonna do for two hours?” Jiyong asked. “Can Chomee stay with me?”
The doctor raised a brow and turned to Susan. “I’m assuming that’s you?”
Chomee chewed her lip, her eyes on Jiyong’s mother.
When the doctor didn’t get a reply, he shrugged it off. “It’s fine. She’s not allowed in the operating room though. She can wait in the next room.”
“You’re not gonna run off, right?” Jiyong asked jokingly.
Chomee managed to force a tight smile upon her lips. “No.”
“Good. I’m gonna be alright,” Jiyong said more to assure himself than to everybody in the room.
“Come along,” the doctor said, leading Jiyong away.
Jiyong, sensing Chomee not following, called out, “C’mon Chomee!”
Chomee hesitated. She reluctantly picked up her feet and shuffled after Jiyong, all eyes on her.
“I thought the other young lady was your…” the doctor started.
“What other lady?” Jiyong inquired.
The doctor turned to Chomee. Chomee made eye contact, signaling to him that Jiyong doesn’t know Susan’s with them. “Never mind.”
“This way.” Chomee placed a hand on Jiyong’s arm and guided him to the operating room.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Finally, moving along!” Suwon cried.
“Hey! Where’d Hoony go?”
“In search for his darling penis,” Suwon replied, cracking up.
Miyoung shrieked with laughter.
“See if you can spot them,” Suwon managed to say with a sniffle.
Miyoung kept her eyes on her side of the road and scanned the lanes. “Hey…”
“What?”
“What the hell is that?!” Miyoung shrilled, pointing out the window.
Suwon squinted in the direction of Miyoung’s finger. “L-L-Legs?”
“I thought I was losing my mind!”
“What the hell?!”
“It must be Jaejin practicing for the circus.”
“We’ll see.” Suwon sped up, edging closer and closer to Jiyong’s friends. Sure enough, they found Sunghoon fully clothed — and Jaeduk’s legs in the air.
Sunghoon screamed and ran to hide behind Jiwon.
“Oh, my God,” Suwon muttered, pulling over. “Who requested duck legs? They’re not exactly on today’s menu.”
Miyoung giggled. “Where’s the giggalo?”
“Behind Jiwon. I’m more interested in Jaeduk’s head stand performance. Is the blood flowing to his brain?”
“Brain?” Miyoung echoed blankly. “What brain?”
Suwon hooted with laughter. “Let’s go see what’s up.” He turned off his car and waited for Miyoung.
“They found me!” Sunghoon squealed, squeezing Jiwon’s arms.
“Who?!”
“The maniacs! The ones that asked for sex!” Sunghoon trembled at the flashback. “Hide me!”
“Where?” Jiwon asked, looking around.
“Anywhere!”
“I mean..where are they?”
“In-In-In-In there—”
“Hey, bitch!” Miyoung bellowed, sneaking up on Sunghoon.
Sunghoon screamed like a bitch, howling like a hoochie. “They found me! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! It was a dare! A dare! No sex! Please don’t rape me!”
“Why were you prostituting then?” Miyoung demanded in a gruff voice.
“I-I-I-I wasn’t!” Sunghoon protested with his eyes still closed.
“Whoa? Who would wanna fuck this boner?” Jiwon chortled. “Suwon’s better. Stick with him, girl.”
“What?!” Sunghoon eyes popped open. “Suwon’s better?!!! What—”
“Hey, baby,” Miyoung purred in a husky voice.
Sunghoon squeezed his eyes shut. “Noooooooooooo!”
Miyoung placed a hand on his neck. “How about it? Tonight? I promise I’ll fuck REAL hard.”
Sunghoon whimpered.
“Man, open your damn pussy eyes! Stupid cunt!” Miyoung growled, slapping Sunghoon upside his head.
“Owww!” Sunghoon cried, rubbing the back of his head. He spun around to find his friend walking away, heading towards the black car. “MIYOUNG?!!!” He stared at the familiar black Honda SI, realizing it was Suwon’s car. “What the F—”
Jiwon nudged Sunghoon, cutting him off.
“The hell?!” Sunghoon shrieked. “It-It-It was…THEM!!”
Jiwon raised a brow. “Them what?”
“They-They-They…They’re the ones who wanted to have sex!! Miyoung!” Sunghoon wailed. “What the?!!! That’s not the van!!”
Suwon looked around sheepishly at the accusation. “Yeah, so?”
“How are we gonna fit?! And dammit! That..That was you!!!!” Sunghoon screamed, tearing his hair out. He screamed again, realizing Miyoung and Suwon had seen him…naked.
Miyoung laughed evily and approached Sunghoon again. “Hey..not bad. Do you parade around the streets like that all the time? What are the hours of your business? Lemme know and I’ll come by and holla at cha sometime.”
Sunghoon shuddered at the suggestion.
“Pop the hood,” Suwon called out to Jiwon. “I bet there’s nothing wrong.”
Jiwon turned to Suwon.
“Oh, yeah! His brother’s a mechanic!” Jaeduk reminded them, letting his feet down. He adjusted his clothes. “Pop it! Maybe Suwon can fix it.”
Jiwon glanced at the small Honda parked behind his car and sighed. He popped the hood open and Suwon, along with Jaejin and Jaeduk all gathered around to inspect the engine.
Suwon frowned. “You sure this was at the shop?”
Jiwon narrowed his eyes. “Why?”
“Did you even look under here?”
Jiwon squeezed in with the trio and Miyoung hurried over to join the crowd. Sunghoon leaned on the passenger door, playing with his hair.
“Did you see them open the hood?”
“No. What’s wrong?”
“This!” Suwon picked at the piece of bubble gum, disgusted. “Somebody stuck a piece of gum into your damn Beemer!”
“What the FUCK?!” Jiwon bellowed, shoving Jaejin and Jaeduk aside. “When did this happen?!”
“Couldn’t have been yesterday. The gum’s black and dry. The mechanics obviously chose to miss that one.”
“Damn, fuck nuts! Good thing I didn’t have to pay.”
“There’s nothing technically wrong. You gotta get your oil changed.”
What?!” Jiwon shrieked. “They were supposed to do that!”
“And,” Suwon continued. “Your car needs to be jumped. It’s dead.”
Sunghoon jumped off the door. “I’ll be waiting in the car.” He pointed to Suwon’s car and hurried off. Miyoung ran after him and shoved him away. She ran to Suwon’s Honda as Sunghoon grabbed her by the waist from behind and threw her back.
“You bastard!” she screamed as she landed on her ass. She quickly got up and charged at Sunghoon. She pushed him and he hollered as he hit the seater. “Go in the back!” she yelled and pushed him through the small space.
“Wait! Lemme put the seat down!” Sunghoon wailed.
“No!” Miyoung barked. “Get in there!” She gave him a kick in the ass and he shot forward like a cannon, sprawling across the floor of the car, his feet still hanging out the door.
“Owwww…” he said lifelessly. “Miyoung..my pants. Now I gotta black foot on my ass. My jeans are white, Miyoung…”
She picked up his feet and threw them in, turning Sunghoon into a screwed up pretzel. “Shoulda considered your options.”
Sunghoon pulled himself up and patted himself clean. “I did. Jiwon’s car’s gonna break down again.”
“So…you put the gum there!” she accused.
“No, I didn’t!” Sunghoon cried, shocked at the accusation. “I said it’ll break down again! I didn’t say I made it die! Miyoung!”
She slammed the door shut and left Sunghoon in the car by himself and wandered back to the others. Jaeduk came up to her, talking 150 words per minute and Jaejin stood behind them—laughing. Suwon and Jiwon were still arguing whether to jump the car or not.
“That was great! I saw him fly across the backseat! You shoulda let me try!”
Miyoung smiled meekly and went o Jiwon. She pulled her hair back, the heat killing her. “Are we moving along or what? Jiyong’s probably home already.”
“Jump it!” Suwon growled.
“No,” Jiwon said through gritted teeth. “What if that fucks up my car even more?!”
“I’ll pay for the damages. My brother’ll fix your car.”
Jiwon contemplated the idea but Suwon was already moving. Jaejin and Jaeduk helped while Miyoung and Jiwon stood aside and watched.
“Wait, did I even agree to it and you guys are — ”
Jaejin cut Jiwon off by climbing into the BMW and started the engine.
Miyoung turned to Jiwon. “What were you saying?”
“You need to keep that boy. If you don’t look lock him up, some day, God knows when—I’ll turn gay and take him from you.”
Miyoung shrieked with laughter and went to Suwon’s car. Sunghoon had his face against the window, his hands banging away. She jerked the door open, allowing air into the stuffy vehicle. Sunghoon quickly stuck his head out, inhaling the fresh air.
“Oh, I love you, Miyoung!”
Miyoung stepped into the car and slammed the door shut. Sunghoon leaned back on the seat. “Still love me?”
Sunghoon ignored her.
“So, it’s only the two of us now,” Miyoung said coyly. “How about it?”
“You’re not serious, are you?!” Sunghoon inquired, horrified.
Miyoung turned around. “Of course I’m serious! You think I’m playing with you?!”
Sunghoon gulped. Miyoung’s fiesty. She’d rape him before he could even lift a finger. “What about Suwon?”
“What about him?”
“Won’t..won’t he mind?”
“Mind? Sunghoon, we broke up! It’s his idea to pick you up. I never knew he was into threesomes,” she said with a frown.
“Threesome!?!” Sunghoon gasped. “Suwon’s gay?!”
Miyoung fought to keep from screaming. It was funny. She bit on her lip and watched Sunghoon’s face grow from shock to mortification.
“Oh..my..God..W-W-When did this happen? H-H-How?!!!”
“K, we’re ready to go!” Suwon announced, pulling the door open. He started the engine and felt the tension in the backseat. “You okay, Hoon?”
Sunghoon couldn’t hold back any longer. “Lemme out! Lemme outta here! Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t anyone tell me?!”
Suwon scoffed, glancing at Miyoung. “Tell you what?”
“You’re gay!” Sunghoon shouted, shaking the passenger seat.
Suwon stiffened, his eye balls close to falling out. Slowly he asked, “Whaaaaaaa?”
Sunghoon rolled his eyes, exasperated. “You’re gay! Why didn’t you tell me?!”
Miyoung burst out laughing, tears streaming down her face.
“Who said I was gay?” Suwon demanded, zooming off. He flew past Jiwon’s car, enraged. He looked over to Miyoung who was clutching her stomach and laughing with her mouth wide open.
“Aren’t you?”
“NO!” Suwon thundered. “You believe her?! Of all people!”
“Well…y-y-you know that girlfriend of yours can be pretty convincing at times,” Sunghoon stammered.
“Shut up!” Suwon bellowed, hitting Miyoung’s knee and drove off the next exit.
“Wait till I tell Chomee!” Miyoung gurgled, choking slightly. “She’s gonna flip!”
“Shut up!” Sunghoon cried, slapping Miyoung’s shoulder.
Miyoung simmered, still giggling to herself as Suwon raced with Jiwon down the ramp, nearby traffic honking crazily at them. She saw Jaeduk in the front seat, waving a white box and Jaejin in the back holding onto the headrest of the driver seat.
“Step on it!” Sunghoon gushed, glancing over at Jiwon’s car. “Ohmigod! Ohmigod, Ohmigod! Suwon!!!”
Miyoung focused her attention on the wheels, realizing she never noticed till now. “Oh, MY GOD!!!! SUWON!!!!”
“What?” Suwon said bluntly and kept gunning the gas.
“SUWON! STOP THE CAR!!!!!” Miyoung screamed, terrified. She kept her eyes on Jiwon’s determined face and the rims of his car. They were so close to touching. The cars…
“Why?!!” Suwon shouted.
“No! Don’t stop! That’ll actually scrape the cars..keep moving!” Sunghoon commanded, his face pale.
“Scrape…” Suwon quickly glanced over. “Holy shit!” His foot quickly eased up on the gas pedal, slowing down at least ten times the speed he was going at. Miyoung and Sunghoon jerked backwards in their seat, yelling as they sunk.
“Aha!” Jiwon sneered, shooting miles ahead. He slowed down as he approached the wide rotary to the hospital. “Told you no punk can beat my shit!”
“Actually…Jiyong beated you—” Jaeduk started to say.
“Ahhhh, shut up!” Jiwon cut in. It was true. Give Jiyong a beat up car and he’ll still beat Jiwon anyday. Even if it was a shopping cart and Jiwon’d still lose if he had a racer. “It’s not my fault he got long legs.”
“And Suwon—” Jaeduk tried again.
“I just kicked his ass.”
“Uhhh…actually…I think he slowed down on purpose. Did you see how close your cars were?” Jaejin asked. “He slowed a quarter of a mile down just so you can pass him at the turn back there. If not…we’re all gonna be with Jiyong in the same situation as he’s in.”
JIwon bit his lip and kept quiet. As he pulled up in an empty space, Suwon followed not too far behind. He got out with Jaejin and Jaeduk, all waiting for Suwon to find a parking space. They waited for them at the entrance, Jaeduk walking like a little boy and shaking the little box as if it was a Christmas present. He beamed and smiled.
“Oh, happy day!” he commented. “Hope Jiyong likes this.”
Suwon parked his car and got out. Miyoung and Sunghoon were battling with each other. Miyoung pushed Sunghoon back as Sunghoon kept kicking the seat and screaming for Suwon to help. Suwon laughed at the two and left for the hospital entrance.
“Stay in there!” Miyoung yelled and slammed the door shut. She ran after Suwon and rammed right into Jiwon. “Quick! Let’s go before he gets out! I couldn’t lock him in!” She pulled Jaeduk after her and they hurried to the front desk.
“Damn you…” Sunghoon muttered under his breath. He slammed down the seater and crawled out of the small Honda. He straightened out his clothes and checked out his hair in the mirror before advancing anywhere. “This is what I get for caring. I show a little sympathy and care for you and this is the trouble I have to put up with. Damn you, Ko Jiyong.”
With that, Sunghoon yanked a strand of hair straight and head towards the hospital.
Chapter 32 

Chomee could only wait. She sat on the stool, watching the hands on the clock tick by. It was slow. She hated it. She wanted to climb up on the wall and turn the time forward. She had to hurry home. She didn’t necessarily have to. She wanted to.
If only she had left earlier. She could tell Mrs. Ko wanted for her to leave. She could see the hatred in the woman’s eyes. Mrs. Ko didn’t like anybody. Period.
Chomee sighed and looked around her, bored. Jiyong had said Sunghoon and Miyoung were supposed to come. But they haven’t showed up yet. She sighed and kept her eyes on the curtain that hid Jiyong in the operating room. She grew impatient. It was going to be two hours and only half an hour passed. She couldn’t wait.
She got up off the stool and left the waiting room. She returned to the main waiting room and quietly entered. Upon her entrance, heads looked up in her direction.
Mrs. Ko the very first.
“What happened?!” Mr. Ko asked, surprised to find Chomee back. “Did something happen?”
Chomee hesitated and shook her head. “No. Nothing happened. I just wanted to come back.”
The tension she had felt two seconds ago, lightened. She silently tiptoed to the other end of the room and picked up a magazine. She took a seat by the window and began flipping through the magazine, feeling uncomfortable. She could feel Mrs. Ko’s eyes — burning a gigantic hole into her brain.
Susan looked and sighed. She soon stood up and left the room. She couldn’t stand sitting for two hours. She retraced her steps and went back outside, the hot sun firing her up a bit. She felt too cold in the waiting room. Especially in the presence of Jiyong’s mother. The woman sure does know how to go below zero. She walked towards the garden. Something she had missed when she first arrived the hospital. It was well hidden. Far away from the parking lot.
It surprised her, however. A hospital with a park…in the city? But then she reminded herself she was in Korea. Not America.
She looked up towards the sky, the sky bluest of blues. The clouds were white and fluffy like cotton candy. She approached a pinic bench and threw down her purse. She glanced at her Gucci watch. Only forty minutes passed. She had another lifetime to wait. She stared off into space.
What would happen…if..
Jiyong could see again? If he rejected her? If..If he saw Chomee? If he..
Susan panicked. There were too many if’s. She chewed on her lower lip. She had to get rid of Chomee. She had to get rid of her.
Now.

Chapter 33 

The minutes were ticking. His hands were shaking. His heart was racing.
“Doctor! Are you feeling well?” an assisting nurse asked. She peered at the doctor, concerned. She noticed how badly he was trembling and motioned for more assistance.
“Con-Contact his family…they’re…”
“Doctor! Are you…”
“I-I-I’m fine..he’s losing blood. It’ll probably damage his eyes even more. I can’t stop the blood flow.”
An attendant ran off to find another doctor while Jiyong’s doctor rushed to clog the problem and everybody ran around, frantic.
It was the first. He had suggested a laser operation, but the board of supervisors were against it. It was safer, although new, but it wasn’t bloody. But..
“What’s wrong?!” Dr. Jong barked, entering the operating room. He shoved the younger doctor aside and stared at the mess. “What’s this?!”
The younger doctor glared at his senior. “I told you all! Laser! But you didn’t believe me!”
Dr. Jong grunted and silenced the doctor in his thirties. “Just go and inform the family. I’ll take care of this here.”
Dr. Kim stormed out of the operating room, angry at the world. Mostly at himself. He should’ve listened to himself and went on ahead with his original plan. Now…his career’s over. Not entirely…Mrs. Ko, herself, didn’t want the surgery to be used with laser. He couldn’t operate without her consent. But..
He was in for it. She’s going to sue his ass and have him fired immediately and see to it that he’ll never get a job ever again. Not even bagging groceries at a local market.
As he neared the door, Mrs. Ko appeared before he could even stop at it. He took a step back, startled. She moves quick, he thought. How’d she find out already?
But the little girl Jiyong had asked to follow came out. Mr. Ko followed not too shortly.
Great. Now they’re ganging up on me, the doctor thought miserably.
Mrs. Ko was the first to stop and recognize him. “Dr. Kim!”
Chomee and Mr. Ko turned in the direction of Mrs. Ko’s voice. They both saw the doctor, pale and sweaty. Chomee’s eyes widened and realized something was wrong. Jiyong was probably calling for her and she left.
“Wh-What’s wrong?!” Chomee cried before the words could even form in Mrs. Ko’s mind. “It’s Jiyong, isn’t it?! Something happened!”
Dr. Kim took a deep breath and looked down at the little girl before him. Her Bambi eyes were filled with worried and…guilt…
Chomee, unknowingly, was about to reach out and grasp the doctor’s arm. But Mrs. Ko moved faster and snatched the girl back. Just as Chomee flew back to the door, nearly tripping upon the sudden jerk, Susan ran down the hall towards them. Susan slowed and saw Chomee fall against the door and froze.
It somehow hurted her. In a way, she was happy. But..she couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong. She could see Jiyong’s mother wasn’t too happy. And the doctor..the doctor Jiyong had disappeared with. She picked up her feet and slowly strolled over to them. She kept glancing around her, looking for Jiyong’s tall figure.
“What happened?!” Mrs. Ko demanded quietly. She knew something was wrong. Operation was two hours. One hour hasn’t even been up yet and the doctor came trudging back looking guilty.
Chomee sniffled and felt a tear roll down her face. It’s my fault..I left him..I shouldn’t have left…I should’ve stay, she said mentally.
Mr. Ko stood aside and took everything in. He saw Susan nearing them and turned to Chomee, who was quietly crying. He turned his attention back to his wife and Dr. Kim. “Did something…unexpected happen?” he asked timidly.
Susan felt her heart stop. Unexpected…
Chomee’s tears stopped flowing as the word left Mr. Ko’s lips. The dreaded, haunting word. Unexpected…
Mrs. Ko’s deadly snake eyes stilled. Why must her husband phrase his questions like that?! She waited for an answer. The answer. Jiyong’s fine. Nothing’s wrong. Nothing could go wrong. She’s spending millions and billions. He can’t lose hope. Everything’s supposed to be fine. Nothing unexpected is supposed to happen. She kept her eyes on the doctor as the word echoed in the deepest valley of her brain. Unexpected…
Dr. Kim licked his lips and adjusted his glasses. “Uhhh…”
Chomee willed herself to move, but she couldn’t. Her legs were stuck. She felt helpless. She pushed herself off the door and fell forward, falling onto the floor in a heap. Susan jumped back, surprised by the sudden collapse.
“Chomee!” Mr. Ko gasped, attending the girl.
Dr. Kim hurried to her too, pulling her up. When he lifted her head, he saw streams of tears all over her face. She was sobbing quietly, painfully…
“Lemme…” she whispered very lightly. “Lemme see him..”
Dr. Kim nodded and helped Chomee to her feet. When he realized she couldn’t stand he picked her up and carried her to the waiting room by the operation room. Jiyong’s parents and Susan followed close behind. They didn’t dare to utter or make a single sound. Dr. Kim placed Chomee on a nearby chair and left for a wheelchair. Chomee sat alone, aloof. The tears dried up and hardened.
Then a yell came.
Chomee snapped out of her mental shell and sat up straight. Jiyong…
“JIYONG!!!” Mrs. Ko screamed, advancing towards the operating room.
Chomee fell out of the chair, trying to stand. She collapsed on the floor while Jiyong’s parents and Susan crowded around the doorway, trying to pry it open. The frustrated tears came again, spilling carelessly all over the place. She grunted as she gradually pulled herself towards their feet.
It was hard. She bit down on her lower lip and went on dragging herself. She had to see Jiyong. She owed it to him. He trusted her and wanted her to be there. She whimpered and felt she couldn’t go on. But she stretched out and found somebody’s heel. She inched forward and gently tapped on the shoe.
Another yell.
“Jiyong,” Chomee breathed, inhaling as another tear rolled off her cheek.
All of a sudden, the door burst open and everybody flew away from the door. Chomee screamed as the three pairs of feet trampled all over her.
Shocked and startled, everybody jumped everywhere, realizing they stepped on something warm and gushy. Chomee laid still on the floor, the pinching pain attacking her from all sides. She moaned then grew silent and wished she was at home with her mom. Then she blinked. She forgot all about leaving. When she left the waiting room with Jiyong’s parents, they had planned on leaving. Then the doctor showed up.
“Chomee?” Dr. Kim said softly. He nudged her gently and and turned her over. “Are you alright?”
Chomee nodded, one last tear slipping from the corner of her eye. “I’m..fine,” she whispered.
“Jiyong’s calling for you. I guess he wants you inside. He just woke up,” the doctor informed her.
Chomee nodded as the doctor picked her up again and placed her into a wheel chair. She sank into the chair, her body aching. Dr. Kim wheeled her in, Mrs. Ko eager to follow.
“I’m sorry. The patient only wishes to see Chomee,” Dr. Kim said flatly.
Mrs. Ko’s face fell. “W-W-What? Th-Th-There must be some mistake. I-I-I’m his mother!”
“Well, he only wishes to see Chomee. Nobody else,” Dr. Kim repeated and closed the door firmly behind him.
Chomee looked tiredly around her. Nurses were running all over the place. Bloody clothes and red was everywhere. “Ji…”
“Cho…Cho…”
“Jiyong..” she murmured.
Dr. Kim pushed her closer to the operating table and motioned for her to be still. “You’re not supposed to be in here.”
“Cho…Cho…” Jiyong croaked.
“He still has some of the shots in his system. He’s not supposed to wake up so soon. Afterall, the surgery was set for two hours. I don’t think he got the right doses. Be careful.”
“Cho…Chomeeeeeee…” Jiyong moaned.
“Ji…Jiyong,” Chomee whispered, leaning on the table.
Jiyong’s hands searched for hers and she reached for him. “Chooooo…Chomeeee…”
“Hi,” she said gently. “You okay?”
“Cho…Chomeeeee…Where’s Chomee?”
“I’m right here,” Chomee answered, her weak smile faultering.
“He’s still drugged. He might not know you’re talking to him,” Dr. Kim explained.
Chomee nodded and edged closer. It was a nasty sight. He had blood splattered all over his face and white bandages wrapped around his eyes. Something had gone wrong. She turned to the doctor and in her most softest voice asked, “Is..Is he gonna see?”
Dr. Kim looked away. He chewed on his thumb for a few seconds and stood behind Chomee. In a husky, deadpan voice, only spirits can hear, he replied: “Most likely not.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“What?!” Miyoung shrieked. “Why?!”
Jiwon pulled Miyoung back and quickly stepped up to the receptionist. “Excuse me, miss. You don’t understand. This is deathly important. You have to let us see him.”
The girl behind the desk frowned. “Well, I have special orders. You can’t see this patient. I’m afraid you’ll have to wait. He’s in surgery right now.”
“What?!” Jaeduk shouted. “Surgery? What happened?”
“I’m not allowed to release medical conditions or more information. Please step aside and wait in the waiting room.”
Miyoung felt the urge to walk behind the counter and smack the rude bitch upside her head. But Jiwon saw the urge and dragged her back. Miyoung had to bite down on her tongue to keep from kicking the desk. She spat on the pile of papers before the receptionist and let Jiwon and Jaejin take her away.
Sunghoon, being nosy as usual, had left the others when he entered the hospital. He went snooping around and found himself drifting away from his friends. When he realized he had gone too far, he tried to retrace his steps back to the main lobby where he left his friends. Then something caught his eyes.
Gucci watch. LV purse.
Sunghoon felt his heart skip a beat. Susan. He tiptoed towards her and saw her pacing back and forth in a room. It looked like another waiting room. He saw Jiyong’s parents sitting in the far end corner. Somebody was missing.
He knocked on the window pane and waited. He saw Susan stop and turn towards the window. Thank God he was tall enough to see past the gap over the curtains. He saw Susan narrow her eyes and headed towards the opened door.
A hiccup escaped Sunghoon’s lips as he neared the door and waited for Susan to appear. When she did, her expression changed from one of a great mixture to pure surprise.
“Hoony!” she greeted a bit loud. “W-W-What are you doing here?”
“Funny, I was gonna ask the same thing,” Sunghoon replied, folding his arms across his chest. He leaned against the wall beside him and stared at Susan.
“I’m waiting for Jiyong. Chomee’s inside the operating room,” Susan mumbled.
“That’s the operating room?” Sunghoon asked, nodding at the room Susan was in.
“Yeah. Hoony! It’s not good. They’re taking forever. And…And they said something happened. They didn’t tell us what. But Chomee knows. She’s inside and won’t come out!” Susan finally blurted.
“What?” Sunghoon said. “Something happened? What do you mean by that?!”
Then the door to the operating room opened. Chomee was wheeled out by Dr. Kim and Sunghoon bounced off the wall. Everybody went to the doctor and Sunghoon allowed himself in after Susan and found Chomee on a wheelchair. “Chomee!”
Chomee looked up slowly from her bloody hands. Her eyes wandered for a while and eventually found a friendly face. “Sunghoon,” she whispered with a smile.
“Chomee!” Sunghoon cried again and ran to her. He knelt before her grabbed her hands. “What happened? How come you’re bloody? Are you alright?”
“We’ll give her a checkup and clean her up a bit. She shouldn’t have any problems,” Dr. Kim responded, still holding onto the wheelchair.
“B-B-But…what’s with the wheelchair?” Sunghoon asked, looking into Chomee’s expressionless face. “What’s wrong, Chomee? Chomee?”
“He’s not fine,” she said in a very small voice. She stared at her hands entwined with Sunghoon’s and repeated herself. “Jiyong’s…not good.”
“What?” Sunghoon murmured in the same tone as Chomee. “What..What do you mean..”
Dr. Kim turned to Jiyong’s parents. “I’m afraid I have bad new for you. But I have to see to it that this girl here gets proper treatment. I’ll be you shortly. Dr. Jong is now attending your son. He’ll be out with Jiyong and he’ll be placed in a room.”
“Chomee,” Sunghoon pleaded. “Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
Chomee kept the faraway look. “Everything..”

Chapter 34 

Sunghoon left with Chomee and spotted his friends milling around. He went to his friends and reported what Chomee had told him seconds ago.
“WHAT?!” Jiwon screamed. He grabbed Sunghoon by the collar and shook the boy hard. “What happened?! Nothing was supposed to happen!”
Sunghoon flopped for a while longer before Jaejin and Suwon removed Jiwon’s hands. Jaeduk stood behind Sunghoon as support and helped still Sunghoon. “You think I know?! I’m telling you what Chomee told me!”
“Chomee? She’s here?!” Miyoung asked, joining Jiwon. “Where is she?”
Sunghoon turned to Miyoung. “She looks horrible. I think whatever happened shocked the living hell outta her. It must’ve been bad. She look so lost. She had blood all over her hands…”
Jiwon’s jaw fell open, his eyes gone soft. “Blood? How’d that happen?”
“That what I’m trying to find out. She was in the operating room while Susan and his parents were outside waiting,” Sunghoon told them.
“Where is she now?” Miyoung asked, worried.
“She’s getting a checkup now. And..she was in a wheelchair,” Sunghoon said in a hushed voice.
“What?” Jaeduk squealed. “Wheelchair?”
Sunghoon nodded and looked directly at Jiwon. “I think Jiyong’s jinxed.”
Enraged, Jiwon hollered: “Don’t fuckin say that!”
Sunghoon and Jaeduk shrank back. Everybody else remained silent and all thought about what to do for the time being. With the newly discovered information Sunghoon provided, nobody wanted to believe a single word of it. But all they could do was wait. Pray for the best. Hope for the best.
Yet, wait for the worst.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong, close to gaining conscious, opened his eyes. Or at least thought he did. He remained still and felt himself move backwards. Somebody was pushing him. Wait..it wasn’t somebody. It was some people.
He felt himself turn. They must have rounded a corner and down another long corridor. He knew that because they kept going in a straight line. Something wasn’t right. It was dark. The hospital must be out of power again. Then he slowed down to a halt.
His room. They’re pushing me into my room, he realized. But he felt like he’s entrapped in a daze. He was wrapped in a cacoon and he was suffocating. Where was Chomee?
Chomee…he just remembered. Where was she? They’ve taken her away. Where were his parents? Why is it so dark? He kept quiet and waited for everybody to leave, then turned to his side. It was strange. He felt drowsy. Then clear a few seconds later and then he’d feel stuffy and sleepy again.
He returned to his original position on the bed and stayed still again. He felt stiff. He tried turning his head and found his neck sore. He then remembered he was at the hospital. He was there and so was Chomee. She was right next to him and then…and then she disappeared. They took him some where and she was left behind.
Surgery. His eyes. It all came to him. He was supposed to have a two hour surgery on his eyes. Was the two hours up already? He felt confused and lost. Was it night or day? It was so dark. Was the power out again?
He reached up to feel his eyes and nearly jumped out of his skin. Instead of feeling his face, he felt something else. Something else was in place of his eyes. He gently touched the thing and felt around his face.
He was bandaged. The material was coarse and itching the hell out of him. He stayed still and waited. It was all silent and chilly. Could he see again? He wanted to see Chomee first. But..what if she left? She said she’d to leave once he regains his vision. She couldn’t leave him. Not now. Not after he’s able to see again.
“Chomee..”
He went on worrying and his head spun in so many different directions. It was so dark. He remembered the night of the attack. The night when the killer climbed in and tried to kill him. He shivered at the flashback and tried to hide further into his bed. He felt dizzy and fought to still his mind.
His temples pounded as he felt the effect of the shot kicking in once again. Everything became a blur and he couldn’t think clearly anymore. It was all silent as he fell into a deep ravine of unconsciousness.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Mrs. Ko sat on the edge of her chair, wringing her dress. She sat in between Susan and her husband, waiting for the results.
Nothing could be wrong. Hopefully not, she prayed silently.
Dr. Jung, along with Dr. Kim, each reviewed the records. They exchanged glances and Dr. Kim sighed. There was no hope. Nothing at all. But there was some strange indiction on the file about Jiyong’s medical history…something wasn’t right.
Dr. Jung spoke up. “Mr. Ko. Mrs. Ko.”
“What are his chances?” Mrs. Ko blurted, her heart close to exploding with anticipation.
Dr. Jung sighed. Solemnly, he replied: “Not good.”
Mrs. Ko felt herself go. The whole world was closing in on her and there was nothing she could do. She released her grasp on her dress and clutched at her poor heart. She did all she could and still failed. Her first failure. She couldn’t stand failure and she shoot icy glares at the doctor, seething with anger. “How could this have happened?! I was told he’d see! He’d recover fully! What’s this bullshit?!!”
Dr. Kim remained silent and kept his eyes on the charts. It wasn’t right. Unless he’s right…
“Nothing is guaranteed, Mrs. Ko. Especially when you’re dealing with medical science. And most specially when you’re dealing with taking risks and chances. Nothing. Nothing is guaranteed one hundred percent.”
“Damn you medical fucks!” Mrs. Ko belted out. “I donated millions of dollars here and I spent fortunes! This is the fuckin shit I get for my generosity?!”
Dr. Kim sat up a little straighter and turned to the report on the next page. He quickly reviewed the notes and turned to Dr. Jung. “Are they still running tests?”
Dr. Jung, startled by the sudden inquiry, blinked several times. “Y-Y-Yes…I believe so.”
Mrs. Ko then shot her eyes over to the doctor responsible for Jiyong’s mishap. “YOU!”
Dr. Kim’s eyebrows shot up. “Uh?”
“You malpractitioner! Where’s your degree?! Lemme see your certificates!” Mrs. Ko demanded.
“My degree? Lady, there’s something wrong with you. Lemme ask you something,” Dr. Kim shot back. “Lemme see your tax forms. You sure you’re not corrupt? Lemme see your donation slips. How could I be sure you’re not donating black money to this hospital? Lemme see your I.D. You’re probably not even Mrs. Ko as you claim that you are!”
Mr. Ko shot to his feet and slammed a fist down on the desk that came in between him and the doctors. “Dr. Kim!”
Dr. Kim looked up at the man. “Just because you’re rich, doesn’t mean you get special benefits or priviledges. You don’t get to have everything your way. I understand you’re frustrated because Jiyong can’t see. But have you ever asked him how he feels about things? When we went into surgery, Jiyong stated he didn’t even agree to the surgery!”
The couple sealed their lips and looked off away from the doctors. Tension and uncomfortable silence hung between them as they all retreated back to their worlds. Dr. Jung looked over to Dr. Kim disapprovingly and frowed.
Dr. Kim sighed and closed Jiyong’s file. “I’m not allowed to discuss Jiyong’s medical history with you, but apparently…there has been some irregularities I’m afraid I have to point out.”
Mrs. Ko looked up. Though she hated the doctor, she couldn’t misdirect her gaze once upon hearing those words. “What irregularities?”
“Mrs. Ko, are you aware that your son has received none or close to not even having one session of therapy till the past weeks?”
Mrs. Ko forcefully dipped her head and swallowed. Jiyong was so angry he didn’t even talk to her for the whole year he was blind. He ignored her and didn’t even bother acknowledging her. He was so bitter and barked at everybody around him. She eventually backed off and didn’t even bother contacting him.
Dr. Kim sighed and gave up. “I’m going to see him. Hopefully the tests are over.”
“What test?” Mrs. Ko snapped, watching the doctor rise to his feet.
“We have assistants putting him through tests. They should be finished. I’m checking on him now.”
Dr. Jung didn’t hold Kim back and let him leave. He then spoke up. “Mrs. Ko. I hope you understand we’re doing everything we can.”
“Uhmmm,” Susan interrupted. She glanced around her and asked: “What exactly happened?”
“There was excessive blood loss. We’re afraid Jiyong won’t be able to see due to this tremendous loss. We’re doing all we can to help,” Dr. Jung replied.
“Blood loss? How’d that happen?” Mr. Ko asked.
“It’s…hard to explain. I’m not entirely certain of what happened. I only took over to stop the blood flow. I’m only aware that Jiyong’s chances of recovering’s 50/50.”
Mrs. Ko hissed and held her breath. Only 50/50. This is so unfair, she thought.
Dr. Jung nodded and studied each sullen face. They reminded him of gargoyles. He leaned back in his chair and watied. Maybe he should’ve gone with Kim. He wasn’t confortable waiting around with families of patients. He stood and cleared his throat. “I will be with Dr. Kim. I’ll return with the results.” He quickly left the room and went to find Dr. Kim.
If the patient does recover, he’ll be gratefully happy and retire in two weeks. If not, then he’ll feel guilty and wait for the board of superiors to bitch the fuck out of him. He sighed and spotted Dr. Kim standing outside Jiyong’s room. He found it strange and approached the man. “Dr. Kim.”
“Huh?” Dr. Kim looked up from Jiyong’s files.
“Why are you out here? Shouldn’t you be inside?”
“They’re finishing up. Look!” Dr. Kim shoved Jiyong’s file into Dr. Jung’s hands. “Tell me I’m not wrong.”
Dr. Jung gave Dr. Kim a strange look before accepting the charts.
“He’s stable at the moment. Remember how you checked him after you stopped the blood? These are the results. Tell me what you see.”
Dr. Jung carefully reviewed the grids and notes the other doctors scribbled down. They were all the same. Nothing he saw was out of the ordinary. “I don’t get it.”
“Look in between the numbers on pages one through five. Don’t they look disturbing?”
Dr. Jung stared at the numbers, taking the hint. He still couldn’t see what was wrong. He slowly walked away, from the door and without realizing it, he went to the lounge. He placed everything flat out on the table while Dr. Kim left to get coffee.
Numbers in between. One through five.
Then he spotted it. Page three. Dr. Kim returned with two cups of steaming coffee and handed one over to him. “Thanks.”
Dr. Kim nodded and sat on a nearby couch, waiting for Dr. Jung.
Page one and two, the numbers were low but steady. But on page three, one small mark skipped and went a notch higher. That made a difference. Pages four and five, the marks were higher and were expected to be.
Dr. Jung felt his heart stop at the discovery. He turned to the young doctor on the couch and paused. That would mean… “You’re thinking?”
“Let’s take his bandages off.”

Chapter 35 

Sunghoon held onto Chomee’s small figure as they all headed down to Jiyong’s room. With Jiwon and Jaejin leading the way, Miyoung, Suwon and Jaeduk were following close behind.
A nurse came by looking for Chomee in the waiting room earlier, announcing the good news. Chomee—cleaned up and refreshed—along with Jiyong’s friends all screamed with joy and surprise. Jiwon and everybody else jumped up and started hugging each other fiercely.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jung reported what Dr. Kim had found in the documentation. The excessive blood loss cleared whatever problem Jiyong had that caused the temporary lack of eyesight.
Mrs. Ko then recalled Jiyong never had a thorough checkup the day of the accident. The doctor responsible that day just cleaned him up and gave him treatment to the visible injuries. He never mentioned anything about vision problems. It was Jiyong who woke up and they all found out he was blind.
“Would you like to see him?” Dr. Jung asked, bringing Mrs. Ko’s attention back to the present.
Mrs. Ko bobbed her head and quickly got to her feet. Susan and Mr. Ko did the same and all four of them headed for the door.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“I’m sorry, immediate family only,” Dr. Kim said, blocking the doorway to Jiyong’s room.
“What?! Haven’t we waited long enough?!” Jaeduk shrieked.
Miyoung agreed. “We are his immediate family. We have to see him.”
“Please?” Chomee pleaded with her wide eyes. She hugged Sunghoon tighter, her arms circling his waist as his arm rested on her shoulders.
“Where’s his parents?” Jaejin asked, looking around. “Aren’t they here?”
“Another doctor has gone to speak with them,” Dr. Kim replied.
“Why can’t we just see him? Just let us in there for five minutes and we’ll leave,” Suwon said.
“Yeah! Before his meanie parents come!” Jaeduk added.
Jiwon laughed at Jaeduk’s input and turned to the doctor. “Please, doctor. We’ve all waited for this important day. We’re here to wish him luck and see how well he’s doing. Like Jaeduk and Suwon said, we won’t be long. His parents doesn’t have to know. You can kick us out after he talks to us.”
Dr. Kim debated with himself. If everything was entirely up to him, he’d let them stay 24 hours. But it wasn’t. And the young man did say he could kick them out later. “Okay. Make it quick. I’m doing this against policy.” He held the door for the children as they all scampered inside. He closed the door and kept guard outside. Just in case if things came up..
“Ddo Chi!” Jaeduk shrieked, the first to reach Jiyong. “Happy Get Up Day!”
Jiyong’s head cocked towards the voice. “Jaeduk?”
“Yes! Once you can see again, you open this box!” Jaeduk placed the present by Jiyong’s hand.
“What is it?” Jiyong asked, feeling the box.
“You’ll see.”
“What if I don’t?”
Silence.
“Who else’s here?” Jiyong asked, breaking the silence.
“We’re all here!” Miyoung replied happily.
“Where’s Chomee?” Jiyong demanded, suddenly remembering she came with him.
Sunghoon nudged her and pulled her closer to the bed. “She’s right here.”
Jiyong reached out and touched Sunghoon’s hand. “You’re not Chomee. She has small soft hands. Where is she?”
Jaeduk giggled and watched Jiyong caress Sunghoon’s hand then flung it aside. He took a seat by the window and scratched his head. Everybody else started talking all at once and for once, Jiyong actually laughed.
It was strange. Everything seemed like it was back to normal. Jiyong’s going to see and everybody wasn’t sure of how to act around him. They all wanted to be cautious, but didn’t want to treat him like a fragile piece of china. They laughed for about another five minutes before the door flew open, interrupting them.
Everybody stilled and all heads turned to the door to find Jiyong’s parents, Susan and both doctors standing by the door.
“Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble, but I do need for you to leave. There’s too many of you guys here,” Dr. Jung explained. “You all can continue this reunion after he’s released.”
Up till now, Jiyong’s friends all sighed with relief. They all bid Jiyong farewell for the time being and headed for the door.
“Wait!” Jiyong called out abruptly.
Everybody halted and didn’t dare to move.
“Can Chomee stay?” he asked quietly.
Glances were exchanged and Sunghoon looked down at Chomee as she looked over to the adults. Mrs. Ko and Dr. Jung nodded together. Sunghoon hugged Chomee one last time and smiled at her. He quickly followed Jiwon and Miyoung out, leaving Chomee behind.
Chomee looked helplessly after Sunghoon and her eyes traveled to Mrs. Ko. She shrank back and stood alone by herself by the door as the remaining people all went closer to Jiyong.
“Chomee?” Jiyong called. He heard at least ten pairs of feet shuffling around but nobody spoke up. “Did she leave?”
“N-No,” Chomee stammered and slowly approached his bed.
“Chomee!” Jiyong cried with a bright smile. “I thought you left me! Stand next to me. I want you to be the first person I see.”
Chomee gave him a small smile but kept her distance. She felt two hawk-like glares burning her entire body and she couldn’t help not shivering.
Mrs. Ko reached over and tapped Chomee on the shoulder. She leaned over to the girl and whispered one word in her ear. “Remember.”
Chomee felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. She gave Mrs. Ko the biggest her eyes could go. She wasn’t thinking of pulling the plan into action. Not now! Not when they’re so close…
Mrs. Ko nodded, understanding the risk and how much was at stake. But Jiyong must not see her!
Chomee could only dip her head and move towards Susan. Things weren’t going exactly how they had thought it would. Jiyong’s two hour surgery was cut back more than an hour which doesn’t give them much time. No matter what, Mrs. Ko had told her, they must leave before Jiyong could see.
As the bandage slowly unraveled around his head, Chomee back away from the bed. Susan stepped forward in Chomee’s place and waited anxiously for Jiyong to look at her.
“Chomee,” he called out, feeling for Chomee’s hand.
“I’m right here,” she responded, watching Jiyong’s hand inching for Susan’s. He smiled with satisfaction and nodded as if pleased.
“Jiyong,” Susan said sweetly.
Jiyong scowled at the fake voice and snatched his hand away. “Where’s Chomee? You’re not Chomee. I want Chomee!”
“Jiyong. I’m right here,” Chomee answered softly.
“No. I want you next to me. I need your hand. Not hers,” he spat.
Susan sighed, frustrated by the whole ordeal. Chomee squeezed in between the doctor and Susan.
“Jiyong,” Chomee said quietly.
Jiyong’s ears plucked at the voice. His hand shot out and held tightly onto Chomee’s hand.
“Jiyong. You’re hurting my hand,” Chomee lied, feeling uncomfortable under his mother’s fiery gaze.
He loosened his grip and nodded happily.
“I’m afraid you have to let go,” said Dr. Jung.
Jiyong hesitated.
“It won’t be for long,” the doctor was quick to add. Mrs. Ko had explained the situation to him, hoping he could help distract Jiyong for a little while.
“Listen to the doctor,” Mrs. Ko begged.
“Yes, please listen,” his father agreed.
“Jiyong. The sooner the bandage comes off, the sooner you can leave,” Chomee said convincingly.
Jiyong immediately release his hold of Chomee’s hand and Chomee and Susan swaped places. Mrs. Ko and Susan exchanged glances and nodded simultaneously. Chomee silently tiptoed out of the room accompanied by Jiyong’s mother.
“Thank you so much for your services and cooperation. I really appreciate it,” Mrs. Ko smiled wanly.
Chomee responded with a slight smile, rather tight and reluctant. Uncomfortable silence hung between the two as they walked out of the hospital. It was all over. They made it. She made it.
“Here’s your money and I’ve included a bonus for being so wonderful to my son. I’m sorry this is so sudden,” Mrs. Ko said bluntly. She handed Chomee a check and locked her lips tightly.
Chomee accepted the check and folded it without looking at the amount and pocketed it. “Thank you,” she whispered, keeping her head low.
“When you get back home, wish your mother well for me,” Mrs. Ko said sincerely, her eyes on the petite child.
Chomee nodded numbly, not sure of how to reply.
“Don’t worry about transportation. I’ll have one of my servants drive you home. That way you don’t have to wait so long.”
Chomee nodded again and murmured another, “Thank you.”
“Another thing.”
Chomee looked up, startled by the way how the woman had said that. “Yes?”
“I’d appreciate it if you and Jiyong don’t meet. You know, with Susan and all. I’d allow letters, but in the current circumstances…”
Chomee nodded, understanding Mrs. Ko’s demands. “I understand. No contact what-so-ever.”
Mrs. Ko pursed her lips. “Yes.”
“Thank you for everything,” Chomee said humbly. “I must go now. Say goodbye to Jiyong for me.”
“I will,” Mrs. Ko assured her.
“Take care.” Chomee cast one last look at the hospital and walked away, heading towards the Mercedes Benz that awaited for her to aboard. The chaeuffer opened the door and she stepped right in, settling in quickly.
“I have to get away from here,” she said to herself. The overwhelming feeling she was suddenly having was suffocating her. She picked up her heavy feet and curled into a ball on the seat. She turned to look out the window, her heart heavy.
She promised Jiyong she’d be there.
She promised.
And she broke it.

Chapter 36 

Jiyong held his breath as he felt each layer peeled away from his face. He was seconds away from seeing Chomee. It was only a matter of seconds and he could open his eyes and see the world again.
The material was getting lighter and lighter. Soon he felt the last of it fall from his eyes and sending a feeling of coolness to his head. He blinked, not seeing anything.
It was pitch dark and he kept blinking. Holy, fucking crap! I can’t see, he thought. He closed his eyes and tried to keep his peace. He slowly reopened them to see darkness.
Mrs. Ko returned just in time to find her husband and Susan hovering over her son. She quickly scurried over to join the others. She gasped softly, watching her son’s eyes flutter like a butterfly’s wing.
He was blinking furiously, still not seeing anything. He felt something deep within him about explode. All the hope and wishes he had built up inside him was all a waste. He suddenly stopped and squeezed his eyes shut. He had to see. He just had to! He promised himself he’d see. He vowed to himself that he’d see Chomee. Before he dies, he had to see her.
“Chomee!” he cried, the anger now dissolving to fear. “Chomee!”
Mrs. Ko stopped in her tracks. She looked over to Susan. They stared at each other for a good minute before tending to Jiyong. Mrs. Ko neared Jiyong on the other side of the bed and reached out to smooth the hair back from his face. “Jiyong..”
“Oma! Where’s Chomee?” Jiyong demanded, taking his mother’s hand.
“She..She’s in the bathroom, darling.”
Jiyong nodded and his eyes flew open. It was so unfair. All the hope he had worked up was all for nothing. He stayed still as his head rolled from side to side, waiting for Chomee to come back.
Then…
He saw something. It was faint. Very, very faint.
“Jiyong?” Dr. Jung called. “Jiyong..can you see anything?”
It was dark, then it got lighter. Lighter. Lighter. A lot lighter. White..he saw white. “N-N-No..” Jiyong stammered uncertainly. “I can’t see anything.”
“What do you see?”
“White light.”
Dr. Jung raised a brow. White light? “Anything else?”
Anything else? Jiyong squinted, the light surprising him. He was momentarily blinded by the sudden light and held up a hand. A shadow came over his eyes. He moved his hand and saw the shadow move. His hand. It was his hand. He pulled his hand closer to his face, the color getting darker. He could see!
Mrs. Ko bit her lip. Pray to God he’s able to see. She looked down at her hands that were tightly clutching the rails of the bed, her knuckles snow white. She released her grasp and continued watching her son observe his hand.
He could see a shape. It was his hand. It was blurry, but getting clearer. A face appeared before his. Chomee! It was Chomee! He blinked a few more times, his vision clearing by the minute. Chomee looked somewhat familiar. Then he saw long hair. Immediately he knew something was wrong. Chomee has short hair. Not long.
“Chomee?”
Then it got clearer. Susan. Her face was still blurred, but he could tell it was her. A few other heads appeared with Susan’s and he was hoping one of them would be Chomee.
He slowly let his eyes adjust to the images around him. He turned his face to look at the room before focusing on the people.
“Jiyong,” Susan said with a smile.
“Where’s Chomee?” He knew Chomee wasn’t in no bathroom. “Where is she?!”
Susan’s smile fell. She glanced at Jiyong’s mother and held her breath. All she knows is that Chomee’s leaving. Where to? She has no idea.
“Jiyong, honey,” his mother cooed. “I’m so glad you can see. Can you see me? What am I wearing?”
“What you always wear. Clothes.”
Mrs. Ko stared at her son in shock. Is this the good Chomee left behind in her son?!
Jiyong sat up on the bed and swung his legs over the rails.
“Jiyong,” the doctor said sternly, stopping him. “You can’t move around. Please remain still.”
Jiyong, regardless, hopped off the bed and ran to the door.
“Stop him!” Mrs. Ko shouted, pushing her husband after her child. “He’s not completely well!”
Susan tried her best to go after Jiyong, but her shoes weren’t helping compared to Jiyong’s flat soles. Plus he had long legs. She clattered down the long hallway while Jiyong ran here and there, trying to find his friends.
Jiwon, just leaving the restroom found Jiyong running past him. Startled, Jiwon blinked and rushed after the tall boy. He pulled on Jiyong’s arm, jerking him back. “Jiyong!”
Upon hearing the familiar voice did Jiyong stop. He spun around to find Jiwon staring at him. “Jiwon!”
“What are you doing?”
“Where’s Chomee?!” Jiyong demanded, his hands on Jiwon’s elbow. He shook Jiwon. “Where is she?”
“Chomee? The little girl?”
Jiyong nodded.
“Isn’t she with you? You asked her to stay and we left her behind. Didn’t she stay?”
Jiyong released Jiwon and tiled his head back.
“Can you see now? What am I wearing?”
Jiyong looked down at Jiwon’s outfit? “What’s with everybody asking me what they’re wearing?”
“So, can you go home now?”
The question reminded Jiyong his parents are still in pursuit. “Yeah, c’mon!” He pulled Jiwon after him, breaking into a run.
“Why are we running?”
“You got your car?”
“Yeah.”
“Good. Lemme use it.”
Before Jiwon could agree, a nurse stopped them and warned them of running. Jiyong and Jiwon nodded again and again before dashing off again.
“Where are we going?” Jiwon asked, slowing down. He headed towards the waiting room and placed his hand on the door just as it swung open.
“Where are you going? Your car’s in there?” Jiyong asked.
Sunghoon stepped out and screamed.
Miyoung and Jaeduk fell off their chairs right when Jaejin clamped a hand over Sunghoon’s mouth. Everybody tripped over each other just to get to the door to see what Sunghoon was screaming about.
“It’s Jiyong!” Sunghoon cried, pointing at his friend. “It’s Jiyong and his eyes are moving!”
“What am I wearing?” Miyoung asked.
“Did you see my present?”
“How does my hair look?” Sunghoon asked, standing directly in front of Jiyong. He brushed aside a lock of hair and smiled.
Jiyong laughed. “A gay bastard. That’s how you look.”
Jaeduk and Miyoung cackled at the comment as Jiwon screamed, “Oh, shit! He can see!”
Sunghoon stuck his tongue out at Jiwon and snorted.
“So we can leave now?” Suwon asked.
Jiyong looked around him and nodded vehemently. “The sooner the better.”
“What’s wrong?” Jaejin asked.
“Where’s Chomee?” Miyoung asked, realizing Chomee was missing.
“I’m trying to find out myself!” Jiyong replied.
“Uh-oh,” Jiwon interrupted with a hiccup.
Jiyong looked in the direction Jiwon was looking at and found his parents approaching them.
“Uh-oh? What do you mean by that?” Jaeduk demanded.
“RUN!” Jiyong screamed and sprinted down the hallway. Jiwon and Sunghoon followed close behind, pulling and pushing each other towards the exit to the parking lot.
They flew out the door and slowed to find their friends but stopped short when nobody was behind them.
“What the…” Sunghoon started but got cut off as his phone rang. He dug into his the pocket of his jeans and flipped the cell open. “What?”
Jiyong cocked a brow.
“That’s how he answers his phone. Either that or he screams ‘WHO?!’ like an owl.”
“WHAT?!” Sunghoon bellowed. “Okay, okay, okay…yeah..” He started pushing Jiyong and Jiwon towards the Beemer. “Go! Go, go, go, go!” He nodded a few more times and ended the call. “Go! They’re holding your parents and Susan back. Miyoung’s fighting with Susan right now.”
“Word?” Jiyong scoffed. He took Jiwon’s keys and climbed into the car. “I hope Miyoung gives her a good smack across the face.”
“I hope Miyoung kicks her in the face. I already smacked her,” Jiwon told Jiyong.
“You what?!” Jiyong and Sunghoon chorused.
“When?” Jiyong demanded, pulling out of the space. He headed towards the exit ramp, trying to think of which direction to go.
“A while back. I slapped her cause she screamed. I forgot what about though,” Jiwon answered with a frown.
Jiyong snickered. “Probably cause you wouldn’t buy her that LV wallet she wanted. Don’t matter. As long as you slapped the bitch.”
Sunghoon couldn’t think of anything to say just nodded and agreed. He remained silent while Jiyong drove and Jiwon toyed with his system. It occured to him a while later that he had no idea where they were going and why they were running from Jiyong’s parents. He looked over to Jiyong who was gripping on the steeling wheel with one hand and racing through the traffic in the city while Jiwon was changing cds and playing with the mirrors.
“Slow down!” Jiwon yelled, holding onto the dash board.
Jiyong ignored his request and sped up.
“You dumb ass! Are you forgetting that you were blind not too long ago?!” Jiwon thundered. Only the screeching wind could be heard as the three second pause in between tracks came on.
Jiyong kept his eyes on the road and picked up speed. He had to see Chomee. He just had to.
“Hey, kid,” Sunghoon interrupted. “How do you know which way Chomee went since she left the hospital while you were still in there?”
“Shit,” Jiwon muttered.
“Call my mom. She has to know,” Jiyong said bitterly.
Sunghoon flipped open his cell and handed it over to Jiyong.
“Oma?! Where the hell is she?!!” Jiyong barked.
Jiwon sat back in the seat, stunned by Jiyong’s hostility.
“Oma, if you don’t tell me what you’ve done to her, you better get ready to call the morgue!” Jiyong threatened.
“No!” Sunghoon shouted. “I’m too young to die!”
“Jiyong? Jiyong, honey! Where are you?!” Susan squealed, snatching the phone from Mrs. Ko.
“I was talking to my mother,” Jiyong replied coldly. “Where is Chomee?”
“Chomee? She went — ”
“Jiyong, come back!” his mother commanded, taking the phone away from Susan. “I’ll call Chomee and have her come back.”
“That’s not good enough. Which way did she go?” Jiyong repeated.
Mrs. Ko reluctantly gave in and started to answer not realizing her phone was dying out. “I-I-I sent her — ”
“Oma? OMA! OMA! Dammit! Shit’s fuckin dead!” Jiyong tossed the phone back to Sunghoon, cursing loudly out the window.
Sunghoon stared at his phone, baffled. “Jiyong, your mom’s phone died. Not mine.”
“I know that. Her phone’s always dead.”
“Oh!” Sunghoon closed his cell and slipped it back in his pocket.
Jiyong thought back to the times when he had conversations with Chomee. Where would she go?
“Where are we going?” Jiwon asked, noticing Jiyong’s slowing down.
Jiyong’s mind wandered, searching for hints Chomee left in their conversations together. She said she attend school in Seoul but her home’s in Pusan. She didn’t have any friends other than Miyoung. Where would she go?
“Where would she go?” Sunghoon asked, voicing out Jiyong’s thoughts.
Her mother. Chomee constantly spoke of her mother. Home..the only ‘real’ home she ever had was with her mother in Pusan. Her mother’s there! That night Chomee had to go away…
“What’s the quickest way to Pusan?”
Jiwon blinked. “Pusan? Train, bus? Car? I dunno! I’ve never been there!”
“Didn’t Jaejin say that you have to take a ferry or sumthin like that?” Sunghoon piped.
“Chomee didn’t take no boat out here.” Jiyong dismissed the idea.
“No, wait…she did. Suwon brought her home one night and he called me for a ride,” Jiwon said, recalling the night.
“Fuck it. Which way to Pusan?”
“South,” Sunghoon answered.
“I know that. Which exit do I take?!”
“Bus terminal next exit. Go ask,” Jiwon suggested.
“Dammit. I hate girls,” Jiyong growled.

*~*~*~*~*~*

After a long debate with herself, Chomee decided to take the boat home. She’d prefer the bus, but it’d be a hike to her house. “How much longer?”
“Not long, miss. About another hour?”
“Is it possible..I would like to take the ferry home.”
“I have orders, Miss Chomee.”
“Puyin won’t know. If you don’t tell, I won’t tell…besides, you’ll get back to the city late.”
The driver nodded, agreeing.
“You can just drop me off at the next stop. It’s not too far. I’ll go from there.”
“What about your luggage?”
“It’s not much, I can manage.”
The driver nodded again and kept his eyes on the road. Chomee settled back in the seat and turned to watch the scenary go by again.
“It won’t be long, Miss Chomee,” the driver announced.
Chomee smiled. She was going home. Once again.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Kamsa hamnida,” Sunghoon said, bending slightly at the waist. He hurried back to Jiwon’s car, his hair bright in the afternoon sun. “Kids, we’re in for a longggg ride.”
“How far?” Jiwon asked.
“We gotta turn back. We missed the route to the ferry. If we continue along this way, it’ll take us there, but it’ll be more than 48 hours since everybody travels this way.”
“Shit!” Jiyong cursed loud enough to wake up the dead.
Sunghoon’s cell rang annoyingly and he dug inside his pocket for it. “Yeboseyo?”
“Jiyong?!”
Sunghoon handed the phone over to Jiyong. “Your mom.”
“What?” Jiyong growled.
“Jiyong, she came back!” Mrs. Ko lied.
“Man! You’re so full of it!” Jiyong hung up before his mother could even reply. “Let’s go. We’re wasting time.”
“You’re wasting my gas,” Jiwon pointed out.
“I’ll pay for it, don’t worry.”
“You’re talking to rich boy here,” Sunghoon reminded Jiwon. The cell sounded again and Sunghoon answered it as Jiyong pulled away, heading towards the highway. “Your mom said she had one of the servants drive Chomee home. He’s not back yet.”
“Which way?” Jiyong demanded.
“She hung up.”
“Dammit!”
“Suwon told me the other day she only knows the way home by boat,” Sunghoon said. “You think she knows how to get there by car?”
Jiyong shook his head. “She wouldn’t agree to a ride home. She’s probably on a boat or a bus.”
“I knew I should’ve had my airbags checked out! Put your seatbelts on! We’re gonna die!” Jiwon screamed.
“Hyung! You got insurance, right?!” Sunghoon shrieked.
Jiwon, too frightened to utter a word, bobbed his head slightly.
“Good! Once we find Chomee, we’re leaving them two behind!”

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee tugged on her luggage, now left all by herself. It was a weepy goodbye. She had to push the chauffeur away in order to get him to leave. He insisted on driving her home and she was grateful. But she felt so cold and uncomfortable. She sat down at a nearby bench and waited. The ferry runs quarterly. She peeked inside the small little house by the docks and sighed. It just left. There was nothing else to do but wait. She stared at her sandals and kicked at the small rocks by her suitcases.
Her mind was blank and suddenly the thought of Jiyong recovering invaded the vacancy. She couldn’t help but wonder if it was successful. She left when he was stripped of bandages and so she wasn’t certain whether or not he could fully see.
Besides, the doctor said he had a 50/50 chance due to the excessive blood loss. She sighed and hoped for the best.
Slight wind picked up and she tapped her feet on the ground. She was bored and wished that the ferry didn’t leave. She was so close to making it and it left. She folded her legs beneath her and sighed.
She was to wait. Again.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“What’s gonna happen, ajuma?” Susan wailed, feeling rejected.
“You think I know?!” Mrs. Ko snapped. “Just wait and see. I’ll think of sumthin when they gets back.”
“Back?!” Susan shrieked.
“That’s what I said.”
“But…why?!” Susan cried.
“Don’t worry. She won’t stay.”

Chapter 37 

“STOP!!!!” Sunghoon hollered, his fist pounding on the head rest of the passenger seat.
Jiyong slammed on the brakes, screeching to a halt. “What?!”
“Go back!” Sunghoon commanded, his head turned back.
“Did I miss it?”
“Isn’t that one of the servants’ cars?”
Jiwon’s head turned and followed Sunghoon’s gaze as Jiyong threw the shift back and backed up till the car lined next to the broken down vehicle. “That’s the driver’s car.” He jumped out of the car and ran around it to the family driver. “Ajoshi!”
Startled, the driver looked up. “Master!”
“Why are you here?” Jiyong asked. He looked inside the car. Empty. “Where’s Chomee?”
“Miss Chomee? She’s on her way home.”
“I thought my mother said you were taking her home.”
“I was. Miss Chomee insisted on taking the boat.”
“Where’d you leave her?”
“Go further down and you’ll find a dirt road. Follow the dirt road and you’ll see the side of the dock.”
Jiyong ran off.
“What’s wrong?” the servant asked, sticking his head out the window.
“I gotta bring her back!” Jiyong yelled.
“Is something the matter?” the driver asked. “Puyin wants her back?”
“I want her back!” Jiyong replied. “Sunghoon’ll wait with you. He gotta phone and he can call for a tow truck. Just have it towed to my mother at the hospital!”
“What?! Why me?!”
“Cause you gotta phone,” Jiyong replied, slamming the door shut.
Sunghoon grumbled and got out. “At least I won’t have to worry about dying young.”
Jiyong drove off with Jiwon as soon as the door closed. Jiwon held onto the door as Jiyong breezed through the streets.
“You’ll find her. Stop driving so fast!” Jiwon said, bouncing as Jiyong ran over a speed bump.
“She probably left on the boat already!”
Jiwon realized what Jiyong said could be true. He kept quiet and kept his eyes on the road.
“Where’s the dock?”
“Find dirt road.”
Jiyong sighed. The only dirt road he knew of was still a ways to go.
“What are you gonna do when we find her?”
Jiyong considered the question. “Bring her back.”
“You sure?”
“Why?”
“What if she won’t agree?”
Jiyong pressed harder on the gas pedal, the needle on the speedometer going up. “I’ll bring her back.”
Jiwon remained silent.
“I’ll think of something.” And he raced down the road, thinking.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Chomee looked up. Winds were picking up and the day was still stuffy. She looked out towards the ocean, the sea breeze drifting towards her. Only twenty minutes went by. She sighed and got to her feet. She stretched for a good five minutes and walked down the board walk. She left her belongings in front of the lodging house and continued her way down to the docks. She took a seat on the wooden flooring and allowed her legs to dangle over the edge. She looked up in the sky and frowned.
Such a pretty day.
Yet she couldn’t help but feel that something unexpected’s going to happen. Like something bad. She returned her eyes to the waters set out before her. Minutes. Only a while longer.
Where was the ferry?

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Jiyong..”
“Hmmm…”
Jiwon glanced at the tank again and sucked in his breath. His quick eyes caught the turn off and he directed Jiyong off the main road. “Jiyong…we’re running out of gas.”
“What the?!?” Jiyong muttered. His eyes trailed over the guaze and felt his heart stop. The needle was so close to the E margin and he loosened up on the gas. “Wasn’t this thing filled up?!”
“It was,” Jiwon replied, watching the needle faulter. It was shaking in between and as Jiyong slowed, the needle began to fall back a little. It still continued to lose gas and Jiyong tried his best to not go at a slower rate than he’s already going. “Isn’t there a station around here?”
“Not that I know of,” JIwon replied. He rode along and waited. He had expected for his car to stop any moment, but was surprised to find it lasting for quite a while. He kept his eyes out on the road for sight of Chomee while Jiyong looked on his side.
“Where is she?!” Jiyong muttered, squinting his eyes.
“You think she left?”
“I hope not. I dunno the way to her house. Or else I’d kidnapped her already and be on my way back home.”
“Well, the place looks empty. I think she left for real. There’s no ferry.”
Jiyong edged closer and found himself entering a lot. It was a parking lot. “We’ll find out. Maybe they can stop it. Or we could catch up.” Jiyong hurried and found a parking space by a few other cars. He hopped out of the car and braced himself against the car.
A gust of strong wind hurled past him as he tried to slam the door shut. The wind died down and he stretched his neck to see over the tall, wild bushes. Nothing. He couldn’t see over them. He ran along the bushes, trying to catch site of the main dock. What if Jiwon was right? What if Chomee left for real?
Chomee looked up, startled by the familiar sound. It was the ferry. She turned around and spotted the boat coming closer. Delighted, she jumped to her feet and watched it pull closer and closer to the dock. She picked up her luggage and hauled it after her to the dock, waiting for the ferry to stop fully. It was only moments later she’d reunite with her mother again. Only moments..
She waited as all the passengers got off and milled around before departing. Chomee leaned forward but was let down by a loud voice telling her the ferry won’t leave for another ten minutes. She sighed and plopped down on the wooden fixture. A ten minute delay…that seemed forever. She couldn’t wait another ten minutes just to go home and see her mother. Her heart was aching badly. Then her mind flew to Jiyong at the hospital. What would his reaction be if he found out she was gone? Would he blame it on Susan? Or his mother? Or would he do something stupid, like hurt himself? Or he could possibly forget her.
“Jiyong!” Jiwon gasped, trying to catch up. He tried shoving past the sudden mob of people that appeared, apparently all passengers of the ferry. “Jiyong, wait!”
Jiyong charged forward, Jiwon’s voice a million miles away. He couldn’t wait. What if the boat left already? His Chomee could be on that ferry right this minute, pulling away!
“KO JIYONG!” Jiwon bellowed, climbing up onto a statue. “STOP RIGHT THERE!”
“WHAT?!” Jiyong growled, pivoting on his heels. “What now?!”
“Jiyong!” Jiwon shouted. “Do you even know how she look like?!”
It came to him like a hard slap across the face. Jiyong felt the sudden blow of Jiwon’s inquiry and realized—no, he didn’t know how Chomee looked like. He was going after a girl he had never seen, never met visually. But..
“Hey! What the hell you doin?!” Jiwon screamed, jumping off the statue. He ran past the crowd and towards his car. “You fuckin bastard!”
Jiyong climbed onto a nearby railing and saw Jiwon slam a guy onto the trunk of his car.
“You fuckin ass! Wanna steal my car?!” Jiwon hollered into the thief’s ear. “Bitch! You gonna die!”
Jiyong chuckled to himself. He and Jiwon are so much alike. If anybody messes with their car, that person’s dead. Jiyong watched the entertaining scene for about another six minutes as Jiwon and the thief locked themselves in combat. He hopped off the railing and went on to search for the lodge house.
Chomee ended up the last in line as everybody filed onto the wobbly boat. She handed her suitcases over and stepped foot onto the ferry with a steady hand aiding her aboard. She sighed and looked back. It was the end.
Finally.
All over.
She was going home. To her mother. Alas.
Chapter 38 

Jiyong barged into the tiny house served as an office and gasped for breath. He found one desk but with nobody behind it. “Hey! Anybody here?!”
Still silence greeted him. Impatient, Jiyong turned to storm off but stopped when he heard a voice ask, “Looking for something?”
A middle aged man appeared through the back door and took the seat behind the desk. He adjusted the glasses he had on and picked up the day’s newspaper. He didn’t even bother casting a glance at Jiyong and cleared his throat.
“When’s the next boat coming in?” Jiyong demanded, not moving away from the spot near the door.
The man blinked and looked up. “It already did. It’s out there waiting. In fact, it came in early.”
“Did you see a girl with short hair, petite..” Jiyong hacked his brains out trying to think of something to describe Chomee. But he didn’t know how she looked like. “She’s going to Pusan.”
The man chuckled. “There’s so many girls that fit that description. I dunno which one you’re talking about.”
“She couldn’t have came in too long ago. Or left too long ago. Please tell me if you’ve seen her.”
“She could’ve left on the last boat or be on this one. The last boat left over twenty minutes already. You know when she left?”
Jiyong felt his heart sank. The density of the words were dragging his heart down…down..down..
“I would suggest you go out there and look for her instead of standing in here. If you know where you’re supposed to meet her, then get on that boat. It’s leaving in two minutes.”
“Two?!” Jiyong shouted. He flew out the door and halted midway. He rushed back to the door and yelled, “Where’s the boat?!”
“Follow the strip. You’ll see it.”
Jiyong followed the man’s directions and ran along the path that lead to the dock. There it was, a boat floating upon murky waters. He jogged along and soon came before the rocking boat. It wasn’t small for a boat. “This leaving soon?”
“Another ten minutes,” the man standing by the boat answered.
Jiyong nodded and got ready to step aboard when a girl suddenly appeared before him and bumped into him, causing him to hold onto the bars by the sides of the boat for support.
Chomee gasped as she tilted sideways, nearly tripping over her bags. An arm grabbed her and steadied her as the boat wobbled on the water. She turned around to thank the person…not expecting to find the person was someone she knew.
“I’m sorry,” Jiyong apologized. “I didn’t see you.”
Chomee gulped, too terrified to speak. How did he find her? He was supposed to be at the hospital. How…
Jiyong stared back at the girl, a strong grip of curiousity coursing through his mind. Why was she staring at him that way? “Are you alright?”
Snapping out of her daze, Chomee nodded and kept her head down. He could see. His operation went well. But..but the doctor had just told her it was impossible for Jiyong to regain vision..then..what happened? She reached down to pick up her bag that was toppled over and was suprised to find Jiyong’s hand right next to hers. She was baffled and stood facing him.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to knock it over,” Jiyong apologized again, handing the suitcase over.
Chomee accepted the luggage and bowed. She kept her eyes low and turned to proceed further into the boat until a sudden cry from Jiyong froze her in her tracks.
“Chomee!”
Chomee felt her eyes bulge and her heart suspended. She didn’t dare to move nor breathe. She closed her eyes and stood very still, hoping it was all a mistake. Jiyong couldn’t have known it was her. He never saw how she looked like. She left before the bandages were completely removed. He couldn’t..he couldn’t…
Jiyong nearly choked, hearing what he had just said. The name came out so…randomly..it surprised him too. But now that the mute before him stopped, he noticed what he had failed to notice before.
Petite. Short cropped hair.
Chomee.
“Chomee!” Jiyong repeated. He took two steps and placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder. He reeled her around and stared into her face. “You’re Chomee!”
With her heart in her throat, Chomee immediately starting shaking her head. No, no, no..I’m not Chomee. How could…how did he know?
“You are Chomee!” Jiyong declared, taking the girl’s hand.
“I’m sorry, sir. You’ve mistaken,” Chomee finally choked out, on the verge of tears. She tried pulling away but Jiyong held on tighter.
“You are Chomee,” he whispered. It had to be. He gasped quietly . It was her. She was standing in front of him…denying him.
Chomee blinked, hoping the tears wouldn’t show. She tried backing up but Jiyong won’t budge.
“You’re Chomee,” he murmured. “You are! Don’t lie to me!”
Chomee shook her head. “I’m sorry.” Her hand slipped away as she took a step back. She didn’t care about her belongings anymore. She just wanted to get away. Far, far away.
It all came clear to him. All in a heap. He started spewing a hundred words per minute, his emotion in a frezy. “No, you are Chomee. I know you’re Chomee. You have to be Chomee. I recognize your voice, Chomee! You can’t lie about that!”
Chomee gasped. He was right. He may not know how she looked like, but he knew how she sounded like.
“I was blind, Chomee. Blind! Not deaf! I know your voice! And your hand! When I handed you your suitcase, I know I touched those hands before! Only Chomee has those hands!”
The time stopped. She had completely forgotten about her voice. She had just given herself away. She was perfectly fine until she said something. But what bothered her was..where was his mother? She had expected Jiyong’s mother to be tailing him, but so far the woman made no show. What was going on?
“Chomee…” Jiyong started. “Why are you leaving me?”
Chomee shook her head. She had to make him believe he got the wrong person. “I dunno what you’re talking about. I’m not Chomee. Leave me alone.”
“Stop lying to me, Chomee! I’ve already told you! I know who you are! My mother’s not here and she won’t stop me from bringing you back! You can come back with me!”
Chomee gave Jiyong a quizzical look. Go back? She wanted to go home, where her mother was. She couldn’t be at both places. Jiyong’s mother terminated her services. What good would it be if Jiyong brought her back? Mrs. Ko would still find a way to get rid of her. “I..I have to go home…”
Jiyong took a step back. “What did you say?”
Chomee sniffled as she replied, “I’m leaving. I need to be at home.”
At least she’s not denying she’s not Chomee, Jiyong thought. “But..youare at home!”
Chomee shook her head. “No! My home’s with my mom! I want to see her now!”
Jiyong, surprised by the sudden tear of emotion, stepped aside. What Chomee had said just made him realize he was selfish. He had forgotten about Chomee’s ill mother. Chomee had left home to work for him and he’s trying to keep her away from her own mother. “But…”
Chomee sighed. “Go home. Your mother and everybody’s waiting.”
Jiyong stood aloof, not sure of how to respond. He didn’t want ot leave. He came all the way out here to bring her back and she’s going to leave him all the same? No. “Not unless you’re coming with me.”
Exasperated, Chomee threw her hands up. When was the ferry leaving? It felt like a million years had gone by and they hadn’t set sail yet. “Jiyong! You have a family that loves you! Go back home to them. They will take care of you. You once told me that once you’re cured, your mother would want you back and live with her. Plus, you can see now…why else would you need me?”
“You don’t get it!” Jiyong cried, raising his voice. “My mother’s blind! Susan’s blind! Everybody in this goddamn world is blind!”
Chomee shrank back.
“But you, Chomee. You’re not like them. You accepted me. My mother didn’t. She loves me, but she’s blinded
by her love for me. She so badly wanted for things to get better for me, she ignored my needs and hired somebody else to take care of her problems. She couldn’t handle the fact that I wasn’t perfect and that I was an invalid. And I can’t have a Susan in my life now that there’s a Chomee.”
“But..Susan…” Chomee managed to mumble.
“She only liked me, materialistically. She didn’t care about me. You did. I may have been blind physically. But you opened my eyes. I wasn’t going to accept myself, didn’t want to. But then you did. You didn’t pity me. You cared for me, about me and my welfare. Someone I don’t even know cared about me while my family treats me like I’m another hobo off the streets.”
Chomee swallowed her ters.
“I’ve never seen tears before. At least not real tears.”
Chomee bit her lip as a tear trickled down her left cheek.
“I guess you’re really unlike everybody I know.”
“Oma…” Chomee whispered. “I want my mommy.”
“I know you do.”
“I have to go home,” Chomee continued in her soft voice.
“Are you coming back?” Jiyong asked hopefully.
“Maybe. Depends on my mother. I can’t be too far from her.”
Jiyong remained silent, thinking.
Chomee spun around and headed for a seat inside the boat. Her heart was aching. She was torn between her mother and Jiyong. She felt guilty for leaving both when they most needed her, guilty for lying to both. Guilty for all the troubles she caused.
“You go to school here, don’t you?” Jiyong asked abruptly.
Chomee blinked, her mind blank. “Y-Yeah..”
“Your oma’s at home?”
Chomee nodded, facing the entrance of the boat. “I gotta go…”
“Let’s go!” Jiyong cried, picking up Chomee luggage.
“Where?” Chomee asked, baffled.
“Wait here,” Jiyong told her. He reached for her luggage and her bags.
“What are you doing?” Chomee cried, running after Jiyong.
With his long legs, he made it back to JIwon’s car in a matter of seconds and dumped Chomee’s belongings in the trunk.
“She’s coming back?” Jiwon asked, watching Jiyong.
“Drop this off at my house. We’ll be back,” Jiyong said hastily and returned to the boat. “Don’t wait up!”
“Wh-What’d you do that for?!” Chomee demanded, trying to push past Jiyong.
“We’re going home,” Jiyong said instead. “We’re gonna go get your oma.”
“What?!”
“Come,” Jiyong said quietly, pulling Chomee along.
“What’s going on?” Chomee inquired, letting Jiyong drag her.
“We’re gonna help your mother pack up. I’m gonna move back home anyway now that my mom may want me back. The house’s going to be vacant and nobody’s gonna use it. You’ve going to school here. Your mom’s in Pusan. You want her close by, don’t you?”
Chomee nodded again. She tried to comprehend what Jiyong was saying but he was going too fast.
“Since I dunno anybody down in Pusan and all my mother’s connections are up here. I say you and your mother should move in and stay. Permanently.”
Chomee halted just as she gasped. Permanently…the word echoed over and over in her head. She started shaking her head, whispering, “No,” again and again. She couldn’t stay forever. He wanted to hold her hostage.
“What do you mean, no?!” Jiyong exclaimed. “Since your mom’s ill, you have to attend school here, you might as well have her move in with you.”
“No…”
“Chomee! What’s wrong with you?! This is the best solution for all of us!”
Chomee blinked. Solution? All of them? She didn’t get it. How was it the best? She was already in debt. Her mother’s hospital bill, her tuition, and if she moved in..how would she pay for the living expenses? “How would it be best? It’s only a good solution for you.”
Jiyong grew silent at the accusation. He led Chomee to two empty seats as the boat pulled away. “You, here. Your mother, there. If the both of you lived together and closer to the city, wouldn’t it be better?”
Chomee agreed. Of course, it’d be better. But how would that be any good? They were financially challenged!
“There are more doctors in the city, and I could help you better.”
It took Chomee a moment to answer. “But why? Why would you want to help me?”
Jiyong lowered his head into his hands, the question annoying him. Wasn’t it obvious enough? He liked her! She guided him through his worst and most fragile times and she won’t accept his thanks by having him help her. “You helped me. Why can’t I help you?”
“But..I got paid for it. You don’t need to help me,” Chomee stated stiffly.
“It’s not even about you. Think of your mother.”
Chomee felt the hairs on her neck stand straight. Jiyong was right. She had her mother to think about. Living conditions back at home wasn’t any better than the hospital her mother was staying in. If they moved into Jiyong’s house…things would be so much better. Her mother would be happier and probably a lot healthier.
“Since my mother bought the house more than seven years ago, it’s been empty till I moved in. It’s been left idle so long, they haven’t even considered selling it. Since I’ll be moving home again, it’s going to be left alone anyway. What difference does it make if someone else lives in it? Make good use of it rather than standing empty and rotting away with dust?”
“But..I don’t have the money to pay for rent,” Chomee said softly.
Jiyong gaped at Chomee. “Who said anything about paying? I’m giving the house to you for free!”
Chomee turned to Jiyong with her eyes wide. “What?!”
“I’m the only person that’ve lived there, so you can say that’s my house, right?”
Chomee nodded.
“Then it’s like I’m saying you can have my house. Who said I can’t do that? Besides, my parents have more property than they can handle. Losing one house they didn’t even bother for years isn’t gonna make a difference to their wealth.”
“But…it’s so big!”
Jiyong shrugged. “Have other people move in with you. A majority of the servants there can stay and service you. Since our house’s overcrowded as is.”
Chomee kept silent as Jiyong went on talking. He painted such a beautiful picture with his words. Everything just seemed so perfect.
Just like the fairy tales.
But she wasn’t ready to accept all that’s going to happen. Everything was happening all too fast and she was locked in a hurricane. Where was her say in this? What about her mother? They were thrown into this pit too suddenly to react. Now Jiyong’s coming home with her and they were to bring her mother back. What if her mother disagrees? What if she declined the offer? Jiwon has her things and…
“What’s wrong?” Jiyong asked, watching Chomee.
Chomee shook her head and smiled. “Nothing. We better nap. It’s going to be a long ride home.”

Chapter 39 

Mrs. Ko paced around the hospital room, enraged. “You idiots!”
Miyoung stuck her tongue out at Susan, who in return rolled her eyes. Everybody was silent as their eyes wandered through the room. Jaejin and Jaeduk had left already in search of food while Miyoung and Suwon stayed behind, hoping Jiyong and Chomee would return soon.
However, Sunghoon and Jiyong’s driver returned with the tow truck and Mrs. Ko paid off the services while Susan sat by herself, fuming at the failed plan.
Sunghoon pulled on Miyoung’s hair and motioned for her to get up out of her seat. She looked up and gently kicked Suwon’s leg, motioning for the door. All three of them exchanged glances and slowly looked towards the Ko household.
Mrs. Ko was livid, while Susan was making funny faces and everybody was just sitting around. Miyoung quietly got to her feet just as Suwon rose to his. Together, the three of them tiptoed to the door and slipped outside. They leaned against the wall and sighed. They stood around for a few minutes before Sunghoon broke the silence.
“What now?”
“I say we leave. I doubt Jiyong’ll be back anytime soon,” Miyoung replied, checking her watch. “On top of it, he doesn’t know how she look like.”
Sunghoon shook his head. “Jiwon hyung’s with him, remember?”
“Oh, yeah…” Suwon murmured in agreement. “So…what we do now?”
“Go eat!” Miyoung replied in a cheery voice. “Where’s Jaejin?!”
Sunghoon let Suwon and Miyoung drag him off with them once they contacted Jaejin and Jaeduk.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong stirred as the boat thumped to a halt by the dock. He slowly opened his eyes and saw masses of people moving ahead. He gently shook Chomee awake as more people from the back poured through the cloth that hung over the doorway. Chomee stiffled a yawn as she pried her eyes open.
She was home.
Jiyong helped her up and they shuffled along with the crowd, everybody eager to jump off the ferry. They were all tired, hungry and their bodies ached. Jiyong and Chomee held onto each other as late noon began to settle. Jiyong looked around for a clock and asked for the time. It was four.
“We have to hurry,” Jiyong told Chomee, who was still looking around her. “Chomee?”
“Huh?” Chomee uttered, her eyes flying to Jiyong. Her mind was still a million miles away, thinking of her mother’s reactions to all this. She felt guilty without discussing it first with her mother and now…
“What’s wrong?”
A breeze lifted Chomee’s bangs from her face, clearing her mind as it drifted by. She shook her head and turned to Jiyong. She smiled meakly at him and brushed her hair aside. “Nothing. Let’s go.”
Jiyong looked around him, noticing people were still hanging around. He followed Chomee away from the people and out to a busy street. She was walking a quite a speed and he had to make long strides in order to keep up. For somebody that has short legs, Chomee was fast. “Isn’t there a bus or anything around here?”
Chomee turned back to glance at Jiyong. She remembered that he never left the boundaries of his home and that he never had access to the outside world. He hasn’t walked as much as she has and he probably wasn’t used to walking since he had rides to practically everywhere. “There’s one that takes up further into the city, but that’s too far away from my house.”
Jiyong halted on the sidewalk, his hands on his hips.
Chomee stopped too once she realized Jiyong wasn’t following her any more. She opened her mouth to ask why but stopped short wen she saw him dash out to the street. Her eyes grew wide, a scream stuck in her throat.
Jiyong ran out to the middle of the street.
He threw himself in front of a vehicle that stopped only a few centimeters away. The driver was clearly scared out of his mind. Jiyong called out to Chomee and waved for her to go over to him. She released a relieved sigh, realizing he hailed a cab. She quickly ran over to him as he got inside the cab. She climbed in and slammed the door shut as the driver as for the destination.
“The hospital,” Chomee answered without a thought.
“The hospital?” Jiyong echoed, his eyes full of question.
Chomee stilled as the driver pulled away, the question hanging in between her and Jiyong. “My mother’s still at the hospital. She hasn’t been released.”
“Is she well enough to leave?”
“I think so. She should be. She’s been in there for quite a few days.”
“No, wait!” Chomee screamed. “Stop! Don’t go to the hospital!”
“What? Why?”
“I need to go home,” Chomee said. “I need to get clothes for my mother. And other things too.”
The driver stopped at the next light and made a U-Turn and headed for Chomee’s house. The rest of the ride home was mostly silent. Chomee carefully planned out a greeting and how she’ll tell her mother of the sudden move. Jiyong stared out the window at the scenary that flew by, for once appreciating the ability to see. Chomee was right. He had nothing to lose. He had it all but now he’ll lose Chomee if her mother declines the offer.
He looked over to Chomee, who seemed to be deep in thought. Maybe she was thinking the same thing. He could tell she really wanted the best for her mother. He turned his eyes away and stared out the window again. He could only pray that God would be letting.

Chapter 40 

Jiwon pulled up before the small diner, a popular hangout in the area. His stomach was growling like a bitch and he hopped out of his car, pocketing his phone in his jeans. He hurried into the small restaurant, in hopes of grabbing something to go, but slowed when he heard loud familiar laughter drifting to his ears. He looked around the place and found no one he knew in particular and continued his way to the order line.
“Shut up!” Miyoung shrieked, throwing strips of fries at Sunghoon. She laughed harder as Sunghoon went on telling everybody about an embarrassing moment she had in the past. “I’ll tell them about you running off into the girls’ room!”
Jaeduk and Jaejin hooted with laughter as Sunghoon caught some fries with his mouth.
Jiwon turned his head slightly in the direction of the merriment. The laughter and voices were all so familiar, but he couldn’t pinpoint who it was. He ordered fries and a burger, along with a large drink. It should be enough to fill him up. He sat down at a nearby booth and sighed. He still had quite a way to go. He began to wonder what Sunghoon and the rest were doing when the loud laughter erupted again.
His drink came and he thanked the waitress as he stabbed his straw into the cover of the drink. It was six and he hasn’t heard from Jiyong yet. He thought about Mrs. Ko’s reaction to all of this and smirked. There was a Susan in the story too.
“Noooooooo!” Miyoung howled. “Dammit! Fine! You all won’t believe this gay pervert ran into the girls’ room — ”
Alarmed, Sunghoon jumped to his feet and clamped a hand down over Miyoung’s mouth. “Shhhhhhhh!!!”
Miyoung pried his hand away and started shouting. “He ran in there — ”
Sunghoon sat down and kicked Miyoung beneath the table, causing her to scream with pain. “That’s what you get.”
“You fuckin bitch!” Miyoung bellowed. She took the remainder of her food and tossed it at Sunghoon, causing the lettuce to come apart and scatter all over Sunghoon and the cushioned seat. She kicked him back and stuck her tongue out, making Jaeduk squeal at the sight.
Suwon laughed at the scene and calmed Miyoung down as Sunghoon rubbed his legs. He excused himself and headed off to the restroom, halting along the way when he noticed a guy that looked remarkably like Jiwon from behind. He approached the guy, but stepped back when the guy suddenly got out of the booth and turned about.
They stared at each other in utter shock, crying in unison. “Hyung!”
“Suwon!”
“What are you doing here?!” they chorused, pointing their fingers at each other. “Eating.”
Jiwon laughed at the scenario. It was rare having to have somebody saying the same thing as you at the same time. But it happens. “Where’s everybody?”
“They’re all over there,” Suwon replied, pointing further into the diner. “Where’s Jiyong? Is he back?”
Jiwon shook his head. “I’m going back. He wanted me to drop off his stuff and I stopped here cuz I’m hungry.”
Suwon nodded. “I see. Well, we’re almost done. We might as well all go together. We all got tired of waiting at the hospital so we left and went to eat. Then we were hoping that Jiyong would be back soon and we were gonna head off to his place and wait there.”
Jiwon nodded. “Sounds good.”
“I’ll be back!” Suwon ran off into the restroom, leaving Jiwon behind. The waitress showed up with Jiwon’s wrapped up food and Jiwon thanked her as he picked up his drink. Suwon returned shortly and they went to the noisy booth occupied by everybody else, thinking of how to get back to Jiyong’s house.
“Jiwon!” Miyoung cried, surprised. She looked around him for signs of her roommate. “You’re here! Where’s Chomee? I thought you and Jiyong went to get her.”
Jiwon shook his head again. “Jiyong did. I didn’t.”
It took a few minutes for the words to register. “B-B-But..”
“How’s he gonna get back?!” Jaeduk hooted, spinning Jiwon around. “Haha! You didn’t see me, did you?!”
Jiwon shrugged. “I dunno. And would it have mattered if I did see you? Your big ass’s everywhere I go!”
Jaeduk’s grin brightened. “You like my ass, don’t you?
Jaejin laughed. He got up and left with Suwon to pay for the bill while everybody else chattered on. They got ready and left the small restaurant together, all eager to get to Jiyong’s house. Jaejin and Jaeduk followed Jiwon to his car while Miyoung and Sunghoon followed Suwon. Everybody piled in respectively and Suwon led the way to Jiyong’s house. He raced with Jiwon for a couple of miles, other times, just riding along with the evening traffic.
The ride to the mansion was mostly silent (in both cars). Miyoung fell asleep in the front seat, her head lolled off to the right side of the headrest while Sunghoon stared out the window at the scenary that flew by. Suwon sighed every now and then, bored throughout the ride. Occassionally, he’d look out the window over to Jiwon’s car to see what was going on with the other three. He could see Jiwon was in the situation as he was in. Jaeduk fell asleep in the back and Jaejin just kept his eyes on the road.
When they arrived at the mansion, the sun was still shining bright and mighty. It was late in the afternoon and the sun’s close to ending its hours. Suwon gently shook Miyoung awake as everybody in Jiwon’s car got out and helped with Chomee’s things. Miyoung stumbled out of Suwon’s car with Sunghoon helping her and they all approached the silent house. It was awkward entering a home without its owner there to permit entry. Miyoung hugged herself and gave the huge door a glance. She nudged Sunghoon and nodded at the door. He stepped closer and rapped loudly on the hollow door.
Everybody waited for a servant to appear and it seemed a lifetime later that Ajuma appeared at the door, holding it at arm’s length. Once she saw it was the children, she opened the door all the way. She stuck her head out, looking for signs of Jiyong.
“Where’s the master?”
Miyoung yawned. “Don’t worry. Chomee’s taking good care of the young master. We got orders from him to move in. So, we’re here.”
Ajuma stepped aside and allowed the kids in, closing the door securely behind them. She followed them to the guest room, where they left Chomee’s things in the middle of the spacious room. “Aren’t those Chomee’s?”
“Yeah. Jiyong wanted me to bring them back. Where’s her room?” Jiwon asked, stretching.
“B-B-But…” Ajuma trailed off. She pointed in the direction of Chomee’s room, her mind going in a million directions. She didn’t argue and retreated to completing her chores. She assumed Jiyong must’ve told them to stay until he returns. But when will he return? His mother phoned time after time, asking if he came home yet. She didn’t know what happened earlier and didn’t bother asking. It wasn’t her business to question what happened so she left it at that. “Are you all hungry?”
One by one, they all shook their heads. They smiled politely and thanked Ajuma for asking. Miyoung answered her and told her they had eaten before coming by.
“You might as well watch some tv. There isn’t much to do here,” Ajuma said frankly, looking about. It was true. Since Jiyong was blind, there wasn’t much for him to do. He couldn’t watch, wouldn’t listen…the household was mostly quiet. “If you’re tired, you could sleep in one of the rooms upstairs.”
“It’s okay. We’ll wait. We want to be the first ones to know when he’s ready to come home.”
Ajuma raised a brow, yet didn’t ask a question. She was right. She knew right when she first laid eyes on Chomee, Chomee’d be the one to save them all. God had sent the girl to them. To Jiyong most of all. “I suppose you all will be staying for dinner?”
Miyoung and the rest of the guys traded glances and shrugged it off. “Yeah, I suppose…”
Ajuma nodded and went off to the kitchen. For once, she was actually glad the day was going by slowly.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Jiyong tipped the driver and stood upright, watching the driver drive off. Chomee stood behind Jiyong and watched the tail lights fade away before pulling Jiyong after her, leading him towards her home. Jiyong followed along, gripping Chomee’s hand tightly in his as she continued on before him, bearing off to her left. Jiyong pulled back slightly, his face masked with bewilderment as he looked directly before him, where Chomee was about to walk into.
Chomee looked back and smiled. She pushed forward and walked into the thick mounds of bushes, slowly walking down the trail. Jiyong hesitated, not given any options, he quickly dove forward before anybody could spot him. He winced at the sudden scratches that came in contact with his bare skin, the branches close to stabbing his eyes out. He bit down on his lip and stepped through the small path he spotted as he looked down. Ahead, he saw Chomee a few feet away and closer to getting out. He quickened his pace and rammed into her as they stumbled out into the clearing. He held onto Chomee, preventing them from falling to the ground.
They brushed off their clothes and hair, freeing themselves from twigs and leaves. Chomee helped straighten out Jiyong’s hair before starting off in the direction of her home. They walked in silence. Occassionally looking about them at the birds and trees, other than that, nothing happened. Jiyong stole sideway glances at Chomee, wondering what she had planned. Shortly he was engulfed in his own thoughts, Chomee halted a few steps before him, peering at the low concrete buildings before her.
“What’s wrong?” Jiyong asked, glancing at the ugly tanned color building.
“I forgot which one my mother lives in,” Chomee confessed, frowning. She pointed a finger to the building on her left and then moved it to the right. She moved it back and forth several times before spotting something that was invisible to Jiyong’s eyes. “C’mon!”
Jiyong nodded as he went after her to the building on the left. Chomee dashed through the door, gently tapping on the inner door that lead to the insides of her abode. She fished out a set of keys and selected the correct one and inserted it into the key hole. With a turn, the door swung open, dull walls greeting them. Chomee hurried in, leaving Jiyong behind in his own world.
Jiyong leaned against the doorframe, observing the tasteless room. It was very, very gray and still. He waited for Chomee to reappear and whistled quietly to entertain himself. After a few minutes later, Chomee appeared before him, her expression one of worry.
“I can’t find it,” she said softly to herself. She looked around her, her eyes not catching sight of the key. She crouched down and placed her head in between her hands and rocked herself.
“What can’t you find?” Jiyong asked, watching Chomee think.
Chomee remained silent with her eyes closed as she thought of every possible hiding place her mother could think of. She shook her head, her hair flying freely as she moaned. “Where is it?!”
“What are you looking for?” Jiyong repeated.
Chomee looked up. “My mother’s car key.”
Jiyong raised a brow. “I didn’t know your mother has a car.”
Chomee nodded. “She does. It’s a Lexus.”
Jiyong whistled. “Shall we find the key?”
Chomee hopped to her feet as she followed Jiyong outside, answering his questions as they walked around aimlessly. She told him where the car was parked and led him to it.
Jiyong eyed the lock. “I say we hot wire it.”
“No!” Chomee shouted. “I can’t!”
“I will. I’ll pay for the damages.”
“Still can’t!” Chomee said stubbornly. She blocked Jiyong’s view of the car and shook her head vigorously. “I’m not supposed to know it’s here. And most of all, I’m not supposed to touch it, let alone drive it.”
Jiyong peeked at the car. “I can see why.”
“Just help me find the key!”
Jiyong stepped past Chomee and walked around the car, feeling her eyes on him. He dropped to his knees and faced the door of the passenger seat. He placed his hand under the car, feeling for the key. It was a trick he had learned way back when he was a kid. He saw Jiwon’s older brothers did it with their cars and picked up on the trick a few years later. People who usually abandon their cars usually hide their keys within the car or somewhere on the car. He pawed around a while longer until he felt something of a strange pattern around the rear tire and ducked his head under the car.
Surely, there is was. The key.
He yanked the key out and stood up, waving the key at Chomee. She jumped and ran over to him, checking to see if it was the real key. She quickly nodded her head as Jiyong hurried over to the driver’s end of the ride and opened the door, unlocking the passenger side for Chomee to get in. He started the engine and they soon left for the hospital.

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Oma!” Chomee greeted happily.
“Chomee?” Jinjoo whispered, her eyes fluttering open at the voice. “Chomee?”
“Oma!” Chomee repeated, hurrying to her mother’s side. “Oma! I’m home!”
“Chomee..” Jinjoo whispered, unable to believe her eyes. Her daughter was standing before her…with a gentleman.
Chomee followed her mother’s gaze and introduced her to Jiyong. “Oma, this is Ko Jiyong.”
Jiyong, well taught with manners, bowed before the woma. “Ahnyong haseyo.”
Jinjoo blinked. The…rich kid? “Ko…Jiyong?”
“Hi, ajooma,” Jiyong replied.
“Chomee…what are you doing with him?” Jinjoo asked abruptly.
Chomee hesitated. “We’re here…”
“To take you home,” Jiyong finished.
“Home?”
“The doctor said there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just exhausted from overworking. Oma..what did I tell you about working?” Chomee scolded.
“You need money for next year,” her mother protested weakly.
“But Oma! I told you not to worry. I’m working in school. They offer us summer jobs,” Chomee explained to her mother again.
“It’s not enough,” her mother whispered. “It’s never enough…”
Chomee remained silent as her mother closed her eyes to rest. She looked over to Jiyong, regretting she ever took the job.
“So, when do we leave?” Jinjoo inquired moments later, her eyes still closed.
“Whenever you’re ready, Oma.”
Jinjoo pried her eyes open. Chomee…so small and tiny…such a pain to watch her daughter grow up without all the things other girls had. She was so..giving and obedient, two things Jinjoo’s most grateful for. She loves her daughter, she’d give everything away just to keep Chomee by her side. “I’m ready.”
Chomee smiled. “Oma! You’re gonna love our new house!”
Jinjoo froze. New house? “What?”
“It’s a new place, it’s closer to school and the area’s quiet. Beautiful scenary, the place is nice and peaceful. Oma, you don’t have to worry about me all the time now. You can live with me!” Chomee said all in one breath.
“Oh…” It was too sudden, but she was happy. She could see Chomee everyday. That was all it took, she agreed.
“I’ll get the doctor,” Jiyong offered. He left the mother and daughter alone, in search of a doctor.
Once Jiyong disappered, Jinjoo asked,” What are you doing with him?”
Chomee stared blankly at her mother. “Well..we’re here to take you home, Oma.”
“Chomee, you know what I mean. How’d you get involved with him?”
“Involved? Oma, it’s not like that!”
“He goes to school with you?”
“No.”
“How’d you meet him?”
“Through Miyoung.”
“How long have you known him?”
“For a couple of months.”
Jinjoo nodded. She trusted her daughter and she knows Chomee wouldn’t lie. Would she?
A doctor entered shortly with a clipboard and asked a few questions. He quickly scribbled down the replies and announced, “You’re free to go.” He departed, tending to his other duties.
Chomee helped her mother out of bed and out of the hospital gown and brought her downstairs to meet with Jiyong. “We’re going home first.”
Jinjoo nodded.
“We’re going to pack up first and then leave. Oma?”
“Don’t we need furniture and such?” Jinjoo wondered as Chomee and Jiyong led her to her Lexus. “What’s…isn’t that our car, Cho…”
“Yes, Oma. I let Jiyong drove it because we didn’t have any way to get here. I found the key under the tire. I’m sorry, Oma,” Chomee apologized. She knew her mother kept the car hidden, in fear of the past.
Jinjoo patted Chomee’s hands. “It’s alright. As long as you’re safe.” They all got into the Lexus and Jiyong drove off, racing through the small streets. Night was close to falling and Jiyong pulled up in front of the small, raggedy apartment building.
“We’re home, Oma,” Chomee told her mother quietly.
Jinjoo, who had her eyes closed, opened them with surprise. “Already?!”
“Yes, Jiyong drives fast,” Chomee answered with a proud smile.
Jinjoo observed the smile. It was one of true happiness. She nodded and allowed the two children to help her out of the car and into her home.
It was small, very empty. Since Chomee attend school in Seoul, there wasn’t much need for furniture or any other accessories. It was a one room apartment, other than the kitchen, there was a bed and television and a phone right over the top of the set. A clock laid on the bed, ticking away softly, remind them they had to hurry back into the city.
“There isn’t much to take,” Jinjoo started as she entered the room. “But..but..” She headed to the closet and fumbled around the bottom of the closet.
“But what, Oma?” Chomee asked, kneeling beside her mother.
“This,” Jinjoo whispered, holding up a small box.
“What is it?” Jiyong asked curiously.
Jinjoo held the box close to her heart and turned to Chomee. “Still remember your father?”
Chomee nodded vehemently.
“He asked me to give this to you. Your father wasn’t a bad man. He wanted the best for all of us. Don’t hate him for leaving us,” Jinjoo said, cupping Chomee’s adoring face. “Your Appa loves us. He lost his life because of this. Not because he owed money.”
Chomee’s wide eyes grew wider. “What?”
Jinjoo handed the box to Chomee, who accepted it eagerly. “Don’t open it.”
Chomee looked up. “Why not?”
“Your father asked me not to give it to you till you’re twenty-five. Hopefully, you’ll forgive him for leaving us.”
Chomee was confused. “Appa..knew?”
Jinjoo could only smile. “Jiyong, dear, could you help me with that?” She pointed to the suitcase by the far end of the closet.
Jiyong raised a brow. “Sure.”
Chomee watched Jiyong pick up the suitcase and left. “Oma—”
“You always have to be ready,” Jinjoo replied, cutting Chomee off. “You always have to have backup.”
Chomee smiled and looked at the white gift box in her hands. She’ll forgive him. As long as what’s in the box was worth the suicide. She turned to Jinjoo, her arms stretched out to walk her mother out the door. Out to the world again, out of hiding…moving one last time.
Epilogue 

Jinjoo slowly recovered and learned of what happened during that summer when Chomee was away. It pained her to have found out that her daughter was a servant and had to stoop so low just to earn money for her medical bills.
Chomee continued school and Jiyong moved back home to live with his mother. However, his servants stayed under his command to serve Chomee and her mother. Miyoung moved in with Chomee shortly after Jiyong moved out and got back with Suwon.
Susan left for the States, embarrassed now that Jiyong’s made up his mind about her. He wanted to be with Chomee. That was that.
Chomee never knew what was contained in the box. She was certain it was the answer to the cause of her father’s death. It probably was the cause. But she was afraid of bringing up the past. She still has a few more years till twenty-five, she’ll wait. Afterall, curiousitydid kill the cat.
Jiyong’s mother learned that she was blinded by her own love for her son. She thought she had given him everything but then realized all she did was hurt him. In the end, it wasn’t Jiyong that was blind—it was everybody around him that was.
Chomee—her undying love and support for her mother. She didn’t realize all and everything she did was because of Jinjoo.
Susan—materialistically, she was blinded by her love for Jiyong’s wealth and property.
Mrs. Ko—power and her son. She was on top of the world until Jiyong broke it to her: she didn’t love him. Chomee did.
Chomee’s father—his love for money killed him. The present he had prepared for Chomee was the very thing that led to his ultimate death and he spent his whole entire lifetime getting it. He wanted to so many things for his family, but in the end, he lost more than gain.
“Do you think things were meant to be?” Jiyong asked one day while he was visiting.
“Hmm..” Chomee paused, thinking. “I guess so, why?”
“Do you believe in luck?”
“No, not really. Why?”
“I do.”
“Why?”
“If you hadn’t came along, I’d still be blind. Susan’d still be here, my mom would still leave me here and you would still be God knows where looking for a job and your mom would still be sick.”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
“Chomee?”
“Yes?”
“What do you think of…” Jiyong trailed off.
“Of?” Chomee prompted, flipping a page of her book.
Jiyong quickly thought of something else and said the first thing that came to mind. “Uhhh..children?”
“They’re lovely.”
“Yes..well..”
“Why? You wanna become a pediatrician, too?”
“Nah, I hate babies.”
Chomee laughed. “What is it?”
“I was wondering…”
Jinjoo sauntered to the door, attentive of the conversation. She leaned against the door, silently watching the two children. She had a feeling this day would come. Her Chomee all grown up, Jiyong not so young himself. Not a bad child, coming from rich folks.
Chomee closed her book and focused her attention on Jiyong. “Wondering?”
Jiyong froze. The question right at the tip of his tongue, but it quickly rolled off and another came in place instead. “When’s school over?”
Jinjoo rolled her eyes and smiled. Jiyong was just as shy and timid. She chuckled merrily to herself.
“Uhh..I believe I still have two more years left,” Chomee replied, sitting back in her chair.
“Ohh…”
Jinjoo left the doorway and retreated back to her room. “Some day, Jiyong…Some day…”
“Well..I’m going home—”
“So soon?” Chomee asked, surprised.
“Yeah..my mom wants me to be home when my sister calls,” Jiyong lied.
“I see. Drive safely,” Chomee teased.
Jiyong gave her a weary smile. “I will.”
Chomee returned her dimple smile and waved as Jiyong headed outside. In the garden, Suwon and Miyoung were conversating amongst themselves.
“You think?”
“I dunno why. He told me he likes her!” Suwon exclaimed, watching Jiyong’s tall figure leave the building. “Why?! Why won’t he just ask her?!”
“Hmm..I dunno..why didn’t you ask me before?” Miyoung asked coyly.
“We were different!” Suwon protested. “They have every right to be together! And if Jiyong doesn’t ask her..”
“What!?” Miyoung demanded.
“Sunghoon might,” Suwon answered with a wink.
They stared at each other, a plan brewing in their minds. It was the same number Sunghoon and Susan pulled on them a few years back. They shared the same smirk when they reached their final verdict. “It’s payback time,” they chorused.
Chomee returned to her reading and her mother appeared by her side. “Oma!”
“Chomee..about Jiyong…”
Chomee closed her book again and sat up straight.
“He’s not a bad boy.”
“Yes, I know that, Oma.”
Jinjoo cocked her head to one side. Chomee was too naive. “I mean..a very good boy.”
Chomee nodded, waiting for her mother to go on.
Jinjoo stared at her daughter, debating with herself. Should she tell? Maybe Chomee knows already. Maybe not. She just smiled and patted her daughter’s hand. “Some day..some day…”
Chomee watched, baffled with her mother as she rose out of the chair and left the room. People were talking in circles lately and all she could do is just sit in the middle of it, trying to find a corner of the circle. She sighed and returned to her book. “Yes..some day..some day..I’ll be rich and find out what’s in the damn box.”

The End

The Contest by: SHforever

contest.jpeg

a Hoony & Jiyong short story

completed

Sunghoon hobbled into his room, one foot dressed in a fancy sandal softly glowing gold, and the other bare.

An annoyed expression was on his face as his threw himself on his fluffy cloud bed.

Jiyong followed him in, wearing an identical expression and the other sandal of the pair.

I cannot believe this, Jiyong fumed, pacing in front of Sunghoon. How could they call it a draw?

The immortal beauty pageant, which they had both entered, had just ended. It had been obvious from the start that first place would be a toss-up between these two. They had always been the two best-looking up in Mount Olympus, competing with each other for as long as they could remember. And even now, neither of them had beaten the other and neither could claim that they were THE best-looking.

What can you do with only one winged sandal? Jiyong demanded to know, still ranting. You can’t even fly straight.

Sunghoon pouted. Why don’t you give me yours? Then at least one of us can make use of it.

No way! Why don’t you give me yours instead, Jiyong retorted, sticking out his tongue.

Huh? Yeah right, Sunghoon snorted derisively. No way he was about to give up his prize. Then, he had a bright idea.

If the gods and goddesses couldn’t decide, let’s let the mortals do it. He grinned, proud of his idea.

Jiyongs eyes gleamed. You mean a contest?

Nodding. Yup. We go down and find a mortal to decide who is the more irresistible. And the winner gets to keep the sandals.

Deal. The two shook hands and descended to the Earth, carrying the treasured prize in Sunghoon’s backpack for safekeeping.

They walked along, trying to find someone.

Damn, my feet hurt, Jiyong complained, not used to all this walking.

Well, mine does, too. But once I win those sandals, I won’t need to walk ever again, Sunghoon said happily.

Hey, who says you’re going to win? I am. Jiyong corrected.

No way. I am.

No Sunghoon covered his friend’s mouth. Shh someone’s coming, he cautioned.

They approached the boy who was coming toward them. Hi, they chorused, stopping him.

Suwon stared at the breathtakingly beautiful being in front of him. Surely, this was a vision, dressed all in white with his golden hair framing an undeniably gorgeous face. Big, heart-melting brown eyes stared at him, making his knees weak.

Wow, he breathed, disbelieving his eyes. Are you an angel?

Sunghoon chuckled. Something like that.

Jiyong rolled his eyes, stepping between the two. Look, we need you to tell us which of us you think is more attractive.

He is. Suwon gazed adoringly at Sunghoon. He cowered a bit at the sight of the taller god, dressed in black with a perpetual scowl on his face. The look on his face was actually getting even meaner. Suwon turned and ran.

I won. Sunghoon stated, grinning widely.

That wasn’t fair, Jiyong complained. Who knew the first person wed run into would be so intimidated by my sexiness? Best two out of three, huh, Hoony? He tugged on his friend’s sleeve, giving him a puppy-dog look.

Fine, Sunghoon relented. But only cause I know I’m going to win anyway.

Just watch me amaze the next person.

They didn’t have long to wait. Another figure was in sight, headed for them.

Again, they stopped the person and put the same question to the test.

Jaejin carefully studied the two attractive boys in front of him, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. Sunghoon was very pretty, of course, but kind of boring looking, in his opinion. He preferred the dangerous looking one, who was staring at him seductively with his dark, brooding eyes. His full red lips were so luscious and yummy looking.

I think he’s better-looking, he declared, pointing at Jiyong, who smirked in triumph. Damn, he looks so good like that. Jaejin started to drool. He had always been a sucker for bad boys.

Unfortunately, the two gods had already started to walk away. Sighing regretfully, he continued on his way as well.

I told you Id win, Jiyong crowed.

You haven’t won yet.

They came across the third person.

This is it. The final person. They both put on their best faces and walked up to the mortal.

Hi. My friend and I were wondering if you could settle a dispute for us

Jiyong pouted sexily. Can you tell us which one of us is hotter?

Jiwon swallowed hard. He had never seen such a beautiful boy before. Correction, two beautiful boys. This was a tough decision.

A sly look stole across his face. Hotter, huh? Maybe it would help if I got a kiss from each of you, he suggested.

The gods looked at each other, then at Jiwon. Shrugging, Sunghoon stepped forward and kissed the mortal lightly on the lips. Jiwon stood with a dazed expression on his face, totally paralyzed by the sweet kiss.

My turn! Jiyong pushed Sunghoon aside and grabbed Jiwon. His kiss was more forceful and demanding, his tongue slipping into Jiwon’s mouth. Sunghoon stood by watching, totally disgusted.

Hey, that’s enough. Sunghoon smacked Jiyongs arm to get his friend to stop

Jiyong pulled away with irritation. But he quickly got over it. Well? He asked eagerly, searching Jiwon’s eyes for an answer.

Jiwon opened his mouth but nothing came out. Then, he fainted, overwhelmed by the two heavenly kisses.

You killed him! Sunghoon accused.

Me?! What about you? You kissed him, too. Jiyong nudged the still figure with his toe. A content moan escaped from Jiwon as he rolled over onto his back. A silly grin was plastered on his face.

See, he’s not dead, Jiyong said, relieved.

Oh. Well, we still haven’t settled the contest.

Yeah. Let’s go find one last person. The two walked off, leaving Jiwon in a deliriously happy dream state on the ground.

**********

One last time, right?

One last time, Jiyong confirmed. They stepped out from behind the bushes, where they had been spying on the boy.

They were both disappointed at the reaction. Or rather, the lack of. Instead of flipping out and acting idiotic in awe of their ravishing looks, Jaeduck just glanced at them casually before continuing to play his hand-held video game.

Ahem. Sunghoon cleared his throat loudly. Jaeduck looked up again. Then back down.

Look, Jiyong snapped, taking the video game from his hands and flinging it as far as he could. Can’t you pay attention to us for half a second?

Tears filled Jaeducks eyes and his lower lip trembled cutely. His hands went up to his eyes and started rubbing them furiously.

Wahhhh~~! My video game!!!

Oooh, there, there. I won’t let mean old Jiyongie hurt you, Sunghoon soothed, putting an arm comfortingly around Jaeduck. He used his powers to bring back the little gizmo. He returned it to its owner. There you go.

Jaeducks eyes grew wide. How?

Were gods, Sunghoon announced grandly, sweeping his arms theatrically. And we need a favor of you.

Jaeduck nodded, listening attentively.

See these sandals? Sunghoon opened his backpack and took them out. Jaeducks eyes grew even bigger and rounder at the sight. Well, we won them in a beauty contest but we tied for first place so we each got only one.

So we need you to decide which of us is more irresistible, Jiyong broke in impatiently.

So will you do it? Sunghoon smiled charmingly.

Jaeduck considered it. I don’t know. I’m a guy, ya know. I really can’t tell whether you’re good-looking or not.

Jiyong and Sunghoon were crestfallen. They didn’t want to search for someone else. They had already wasted the whole afternoon.

Please, they begged, sandwiching Jaeduck between them. They each gripped one of his hands and gave him puppy-dog looks.

Rolling his eyes, Jaeduck agreed. But you have to let me do it my own way.

Of course.

Jaeduck grew quiet, thinking. How about a singing contest? Sunghoon knew it was in the bag. He started to sing, his clear voice smoothly climbing up the scale and hitting the high notes perfectly. Even without any accompaniment, he sounded good, and he knew it.

Jiyong gallantly tried to top his performance, adding a dance in efforts to impress Jaeduck. How was that? He panted.

Jaeduck snapped out of his daze. Truthfully, he hadn’t been paying much attention to either one of them. Huh?

Oh, good, I guess. I’ve decided the next portion. Come on over to my house.

**********

Sunghoon sighed loudly, clutching at his hair in frustration. He absently tapped his pencil against his teeth, then noisily rustled the papers in front of him. He snuck a peek at Jiyong, who was solving the math problems with ease. Sunghoon surreptitiously looked around. Satisfied that no one was looking, he started to copy Jiyongs answers.

I’m finished! Jiyong sang, waving the completed homework in the air like an eager little kid. Jaeduck put down his game controller and wandered over.

I don’t see why we have to do this, Sunghoon complained, crumpling up his own paper, which was mostly filled with unintelligible scribbles.

Because, Jaeduck explained patiently, Beauty contests aren’t only about looks, there about brains, too.

And it’s obvious who has the brains here, Jiyong snickered. Sunghoon shot him a nasty look.

And tell us again why we had to wash the sink full of dirty dishes, throw away the garbage, clean your room, do a months’ worth of laundry, and mend your clothes. Sunghoon sucked on his thumb, remembering how much he had poked it with the dumb needle earlier on. Who knew sewing could be so difficult? It looked easy enough when mortals did it.

Jaeduck hastily changed the subject. Time for the final part! Why don’t you guys assemble in different clothes and model for me.

Grumbling a bit, Sunghoon followed Jiyong into the bedroom. They emerged seconds later, dressed to kill.

Even Jaeduck was impressed by their ensemble, especially Jiyongs dark suit, which made him look very GQ.

Jiyong paraded out, unbuttoning his jacket to reveal the spiffy vest and white dress shirt underneath. He twirled slowly, one hand in his pocket and the other holding a cane. His tall, slender form was definitely a plus.

Jaeduck had to reevaluate his judgment when it came to the swimsuits. Jiyong did have nice, shapely legs, but his upper body looked somewhat scrawny and well, long, compared to Sunghoon’s bare bod. Sunghoon had a very pretty figure, with broad shoulders and firm round buttocks emphasizing the slenderness of his waist. He strutted around the living room, flexing his arms.

This is very tough. You’re both highly desirable people. Let me sleep on it, and I’ll have the results in the morning.

As soon as Jaeduck was settled in his bed, a knock sounded on the door.

I thought you might like a little snack, Dukkie. The rich aroma of brownies wafted in.

Jaeduck bit into the square that Sunghoon offered, relishing the taste. He washed it down with a cold glass of milk as Sunghoon perched on the edge of his bed.

Have you decided yet? Casually asked, while Jaeduck reached for another piece.

Jaeduck shook his head, his mouth too crammed with the gooey treat to speak.

Oh. Well, here, have another piece. Sunghoon started to hand-feed Jaeduck as Jiyong barged in, wearing an apron and carrying a tray of piping hot cookies in his oven-mitted hands.

Jiyongs eyes narrowed. Hey, what are you trying to pull here?

Same thing as you, obviously, Sunghoon replied pointedly, folding his arms angrily across his chest.

Jiyong scowled. Coming over, he plopped down on the other side of the bed. Here, my double fudge chocolate chip cookies are the best, he enthused, taking off the mitts and cooling one by blowing on it. Jaeduck obligingly opened his mouth and accepted it.

Don’t fill up on those yucky cookies! Wouldn’t you prefer eating my delicious brownies? Sunghoon whacked Jaeduck on the back, making him spit out most of the cookie. Then, he filled Jaeducks mouth with his own treat.

Mine is better. Jiyong put a fresh cookie in addition, leaning toward Sunghoon menacingly.

Sunghoon leaned forward as well, taking another brownie and somehow finding room to shove it in. No it isn’t.

Yes! Two cookies more.

No! Another brownie.

YES!!

NO!!!

His arms flailing, Jaeduck gasped for air. Their eyes locked in battle, Jiyong and Sunghoon were oblivious to his distress, continuing to smear their baked goods all over his face.

Finally, the assault ended as the supplies dwindled and Jaeduck managed to gulp down the nauseating food. He would never eat brownies or cookies again.

Get out, the both of you! He yelled, picking up a pillow and thwaping them. Out! Out! Jiyong and Sunghoon shrieked, covering their heads and running.

We’re going! We’re going!

Slamming the door, Jaeduck scrunched up his face in frustration. Damn crumbs, he grumbled as he returned to bed. He waved the sheets, shaking the bits to the floor. Exhausted, he flopped down on his bed, using the same sheets to wipe his face clean.

Damn pesky gods, he mumbled, burying his face in his pillow.

**********

Jaeduck was drifting off to sleep when he felt someone lying down next to him. He rolled over and opened his eyes. He was staring straight into another pair of dark eyes. Not wasting a second, Jiyong threw his arms around him in a passionate embrace, his long legs twining Jaeducks own limbs in an intimate way. He wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing, and his warm body was very soft and not unpleasant, to Jaeducks surprise.

What Jiyong silenced him by kissing him, shifting around until he was lying on top. As Jaeducks words faded, forgotten, Jiyongs hand worked busily under the sheets, yanking down the pajama bottoms and fondling the arousal beneath. The other hand stroked his bare chest, the nails lightly scraping his nipple. Jaeduck decided to forget the fact that he didn’t like guys that way and just enjoy what was being done to him.

Don’t you think I’m nicer than Sunghoon? Jiyong whispered huskily, teasingly squeezing the erection. Hmm?

Don’t you think I’m better looking?

Jaeduck moaned in mixed pleasure and agony. Yeah just don’t stop

A self-satisfied expression on his face, Jiyong slid down on the bed, dragging the sheets with him. He lowered his head to the tip of the penis, mere inches away. He flicked his gaze up at Jaeduck, who looked tortured by the wait. He had the boy eating out of his hand.

Jiyongs lips moved closer grazed the skin Jiyong? Hey, where are you? Sunghoon’s voice floated in from the hallway, halting the activity.

Damn, Jiyong swore, disappearing in a puff of smoke. But Jaeduck was the more disappointed of the two, left feeling hot and uncomfortable.

Sunghoon stole into his room, wearing a resplendent white robe of a slightly sheer, silky material. Flowers were entwined in his golden hair and his cheeks were tinged pink. There was an aura of beauty and innocence around him.

Jiyongs not here, Jaeduck informed him, pulling the blankets over him and pretending to sleep. He could feel himself getting even more worked up. When was he going to leave? Sunghoon went around the bed to face him. Tenderly, he lifted Jaeducks face and kissed him, which didn’t help his condition any.

What was that for?

I’m really sorry about bothering you earlier tonight, he apologized, never losing his bright smile.

It’s okay. Jaeduck replied. But instead of leaving, the Sunghoon lay down next to him.

No, let me show you how sorry I am Sunghoons clothes faded out as he slowly undressed a much willing Jaeduck. Sunghoon was determined to win, not for the material prize, but for pride and reputation. No way was he going to be second place to Jiyong, not when everyone knew he was the prettiest

**********

When morning came, the two gods anxiously showed up in the designated spot the front of Jaeducks house.

They set the prize down between them and sat down to wait.

Finally, past noon, Jaeduck came out. Yawning, he blinked at the sudden sight of them. Then he seemed to remember the events of the past day.

Okay, I’ve made my decision, he announced, clapping his hands together.

Sunghoon and Jiyong shot each other smug looks, each confident in his own victory.

The most irresistible guy is He paused dramatically. They leaned forward in anticipation.

Me, Jaeduck finished. The other twos jaws dropped open.

Just look how the both of you came on to me last night, he explained, seeing the shock on their faces. Can either of you say you scored with two beautiful gods in one night?

They stared dumbly, unable to claim such a feat. Didn’t think so. Jaeduck grabbed the sandals and slipped into them. He lifted himself experimentally off the ground.

Whee! This is fun! He shouted, doing a somersault in the air. He zipped off happily, twirling and tumbling as he did so.

That punk

Can he do that? Sunghoon wondered.

I guess so, was the doubtful answer.

Silence.

We still haven’t settled the bet, Sunghoon finally said.

Yeah

More silence.

Hey, Jiyong?

Hmm?

Best three out of five?

A slow smile spread across Jiyongs face. It’s a deal.

The two shook hands and hurried off, in search of new judges.

~The End~

The Beginning by: Jekki Girl

the beginning.png

  • a EunKang fanfic
  • completed

WARNING: contains mature content

 

Ch. 1

Her hand had now made it’s way to his thigh, ever so slowly inching up. He stared straight ahead, not even blinking, just concentrating on the movie. He ignored her small subtle movements as she shifted her body to lean against his shoulder. He could smell her faint perfume, trying to tempt him, trying to lure him to her….. He sighed inwardly, almost out of boredom. She was too easy, too eager.

No challenge whatsoever.

Her fingers moved in slow circles, snaking her way up even further. She was starting to irriate him now. He then placed his hand over hers, stopping her movements. He turned to face her.

She smiled sexily to him, her face inches away. Jiwon studied her for a second. Her straight jet black hair framed her slim face, contrasting with her pale yet flawless complexion. Her long eyelashes fluttered slightly, hiding her perfectly almond-shaped eyes as she prepared herself to kiss him, her pink lips beginning to pucker.

She was one of the most eligible girls at his school and Jiwon already knew he had her.

He looked at her now with slight disdain, but decided to lean over.

As she waited expectantly for their lips to meet, he whispered softly in her ear, “I need to pee,”

She opened her eyes immediately in surprise, but recovered quickly, flashing him a dazzling smile and nodded.

Jiwon got up and walked out the theater. As soon as he was out, he rolled his eyes and ran his hand through his hair. He wanted this date to hurry and be done with — he was bored out of his mind. He contemplated whether he should make up an excuse saying there was a family emergencey and that they had to leave right now or……

Or he could just leave.

He liked the latter idea.

~10 minutes later~

Jiwon revved up his BMW, loving the purring sound his engine made… He began to smile to himself as he slipped on his sunglasses, turned up the radio, allowing the bass to overwhelm his body, and shifted his gear to drive.

Suddenly, his cell phone rang. He answered it immediately.

“Whachoo want?” he answered, turning down the volume.

“Hyung – it’s Jiyong. Where you at?” Jiyong asked.

“Juss driving around…Why, wassup?” Jiwon replied curiously.

“Meet us at the club ~ lots of girls tonight,” Jiyong said, grinning.

Jiwon sighed for the second time that night. He began nearing an intersection.

“What’s wrong?” Jiyong demanded.

“I’m so bored….I can’t find any girl worth my effort these days,” he complained.

“I’m sure you’ll find one tonight — Just hurry up and come!” Jiyong said. While Jiyong was talking, Jiwon saw the traffic light turn yellow. He accelerated, wanting to get through the intersection. It then turned red, but Jiwon was going too fast to brake in time, so he had to go through it.

“Ok ok,” Jiwon said, giving in, not concentrating too much on his driving. He had nothing better to do. “I’ll meet you –”

Suddenly, a car appeared in front of Jiwon. He dropped his phone and slammed on his

brakes as hard as he could, his hands gripping the steering wheel fiercely…his tires screeched trying to stop, and all he could smell was rubber burning as he skidded……

And Jiwon knew he couldn’t – wouldn’t be able to stop in time. He braced himself, tensing his whole body for the crash and looked up for a split second before shutting his eyes tightly — the look of absolute terror on the stranger’s face forever imprinted in his mind…..

********

Jiwon moaned, his head throbbing. He slowly opened his eyes, his vision blurry…..his mind unfocused…. All he knew was that his head hurt like hell. He blinked a couple of times, his vision now beginning to clear up. He looked up at the flourescent lights that shone above him. Then he realized he was in the hospital. He turned his head slowly to the side and saw his mother sleeping uncomfortably next to his bedside. He moved his arm, wincing at the soreness of his muscles and shook his mother’s hand gently.

She woke up immediately from his touch, looking up with an expression of distress as if expecting bad news. Her look then changed to an expression of pure relief.

She clasped his hand tightly, closing her eyes, tears of joy streaming down her cheeks -saying a silent prayer of thanks.

Jiwon smiled weakly, but it hurt his face to even smile. He tried to speak instead.

“Unnngg…” he croaked.

“Sh…sh…Jiwon-ah, you’re going to be ok…. The doctor said you were very lucky…” his mother said softly, touching his cheek comfortingly.

“Wha….What about….the other….per…person…” Jiwon managed to say.

Jiwon’s mother looked away, blinking back some tears. He held his mother’s hand tensely.

She finally spoke, her voice on the verge of breaking.

“The…..the person you hit…..they’re paralyzed Jiwon…..”

*******

Jiwon walked slowly to the door. He had already spent a couple of days in the hospital recooperating, suffering by a miracle from minor cuts and bruises, and was able to leave the hospital that day….but before he left, he needed to see…..

He looked through the small window and saw a girl lying there…..her eyes closed peacefully…. He decided to go in, entering the room as quietly as possible, not wanting to disturb the sleeping girl. He crept soflty towards the bed….every step squeezing his heart painfully. He couldn’t believe that her life was changed completely now because of him….

Jiwon looked at the her more closely, a bandage covered her head wound, she had a purple bruise on her right cheek and her upper lip held a couple of stitches.

Amazingly, her eyes were the only part of her that remained untouched. Her long black eyelashes remained closed. She was so beautiful though…..his heart began to beat faster……

She suddenly moved, moaning in pain. Jiwon felt a lump in his throat, and then suddenly overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, turned away with a choked cry. He began to walk away from the bed.

“Who are you?” a low husky voice called out.

Jiwon froze and slowly turned around to face her.

“I…..I…” Jiwon stuttered.

She looked at him with her enormous brown eyes. Jiwon was completely mesmorized by them. They stared at one another.

“You did this to me….” she said finally, in a hoarse voice.

Jiwon shamefully nodded his head, looking down, now unable to face her.

“How old are you?” she suddenly asked softly.

The question surprised Jiwon. “I’m 23,” Jiwon said quietly.

The big eyes remained on him, continuing to stare. “I don’t have any family,” she whispered, tears beginning to fill her eyes.

Jiwon stepped forward closer to the bed.

“I don’t have anybody,” she whispered sadly. Jiwon understood.

“I’ll take care of you,” Jiwon said softly.

Her big brown eyes looked up at him, brightening a little.

“Rest for now, I’ll come back later,” Jiwon commanded gently. Then he turned to leave.

“Ok, Hyung,”

Jiwon froze again for a second time. He whirled around to face HER.

The girl smiled at him shyly. Jiwon felt his eyes grow wide, but he forced himself to nod and then finally walked out.

As he closed the door, he leaned against the wall, not believing he mistakened the guy for a girl. He then saw the chart outside the room, hanging in the dispenser.

He quickly grabbed the chart and scanned over the page and found what he was looking for.

Kang Sung Hoon

Ch.2

Jiwon lay in his bed at home, his arms crossed over his chest thinking…

He was thinking about those enormous beautiful eyes… they seemed so fragile, in need…like they needed him…

Kang Sunghoon….Sunghoon…….

****

Jiwon walked quietly down the corrider of the hospital. It was three in the morning and he just couldn’t sleep so he decided to see Sunghoon.

He opened the door and to his surprise, Sunghoon sat there upright in his bed, looking at him expectantly, as if knowing that he would come.

“Hyung…you came!” Sunghoon said happily, smiling.

Jiwon couldn’t help but smile back.

****

Sunghoon explained that he was paralyzed from the waist down, but the doctor said that with a lot of patience and therapy, there could be a chance for him to walk again.

“You’ll help me right Hyung?” Sunghoon asked, his brown eyes once again staring at

Jiwon.

Jiwon looked down at Sunghoon’s bed, his bedsheets covering his legs. “Of course…”

Jiwon mumbled. An awkward silence passed between them.

“Can you feel anything at all?” Jiwon asked finally.

Sunghoon shook his head sadly. “No….nothing..” he whispered.

“Concentrate, look at your feet, try to move them,” Jiwon said, kneeling down by his bedside.

Sunghoon stared hard at his feet, willing them to move. He gripped the bed, his knuckles turning white, his face scrunching up, trying his hardest to move them. They remained still.

Jiwon watched him painfully….trying so hard…. Sunghoon’s eyes filled with tears, as he finally gave up. He wiped his tears with his fists, starting to cry.

Jiwon didn’t know what came over him, but he suddenly took Sunghoon’s hand into his, holding it. He was shocked at the warmness of Sunghoon’s hand.

Sunghoon’s lower lip trembled, as he looked down at his lap.

“I’m…I’m sorry…I can’t do it…” Sunghoon said weakly. A tear fell onto his bedsheet.

Jiwon reached over and wiped his tears away with his fingers. An overwhelming feeling of wanting to take care of him…to comfort him, fell on Jiwon…. He touched Sunghoon’s cheek lightly…it was so so soft……….

Sunghoon closed his eyes as their skin touched, but then reopened them, as if feeling a little better.

“You’re going to do it — We’re going to do it,” Jiwon said determinedly.

******

For the past several weeks, everyday after school, Jiwon went straight to the hospital to help Sunghoon with his therapy. On one particular day, Jiwon was walking out the school to his car, when Jiyong called out to him.

“Jiwon – where you going? Let’s go watch a movie,” Jiyong said, in a cheerful mood.

“Sorry Jiyong, next time. I have to go to the hospital,” Jiwon replied.

“Again?? To help that guy? Doesn’t he have anybody else to take care of him?” Jiyong asked, a little annoyed. Jiwon had been spending all his free time at the hospital these days, never hanging out with him and the other guys.

“I mean, how can he have NO ONE to take care of him? There’s something wrong with him if he has no one…” Jiyong continued.

Jiwon started to get angry. “What do you mean there’s something wrong with him?” he demanded, his eyes narrowing.

“I’m juss sayin –” Jiyong started, but Jiwon suddenly shoved him.

Jiyong eyes widened in surprise as Jiwon’s sudden outburst of anger.

“What the hell is your problem?” Jiyong snapped, starting to get angry also.

“Just keep your mouth shut, you talk too much,” Jiwon ordered and got into his car.

Jiyong gave him a look of disgust as he drove away.

****

Jiwon sped away, fuming. He was breathing hard. Why had he lashed out at Jiyong like that? He didn’t understand why he had acted so harshly….. but then again, he didn’t like what Jiyong had been saying….it had triggered something in him…

Jiwon rubbed his temples, feeling a headache coming on. He got onto the highway, heading towards the hospital. A couple minutes passed, when he started to notice the car behind tail-gating him.

“What the fock is their problem…” he muttered. He moved into the right lane. The car followed him, almost kissing his bumper.

Jiwon changed back into the left lane. The car again followed him.

He looked into his rear-view mirror, but couldn’t make out the face of the driver, due to the sun’s reflection off the car’s window.

His jaw tightened as he accelerated and began weaving through the lanes ignoring the honks from other cars, trying to lose the tail-gating bastard. But the car nevertheless, managed to stick to him.

Finally, the hospital exit came up and to his dismay, the car followed him off the ramp.

He pulled up into the hospital lot, parked quickly and got out, furious, as the car pulled in next to him.

She stepped out of the car swiftly…..it was the beautiful girl that he had taken to the movies the other day.

Damn, what was her name….Jiwon thought, his mind racing.

She walked up to him, her black sunglasses shielding her eyes.

“Why were you following me?” Jiwon demanded angrily.

“Because I had to tell you something….” she said calmly, taking off her glasses, looking at him pleasantly.

“Which is…” Jiwon prompted, raising an eyebrow.

She slapped him.

He felt the sharp stinging on his cheek. His face burned.

“That’s all I needed to tell you..” the girl said smiling now, putting her sunglasses back on and walked back into her car, and drove off.

Jiwon closed his eyes sighing.

*****

“What happened?” Sunghoon asked, as Jiwon walked in. Jiwon’s face was pink.

“Nothing,” Jiwon said shortly, putting his keys down on a nearby table.

Sunghoon held a look of hurt on his face. Jiwon ignored it and walked over to the bed.

“You ready?” Jiwon ordered, more than asked.

“Yes,” Sunghoon said in a small voice.

He yanked off his bedsheets, noticing Sunghoon’s Mickey Mouse boxers and pale white legs. Sunghoon jumped from his abruptness.

“Lay down,” Jiwon said gruffly.

Sunghoon obediently began to lie down, but he struggled some…

Jiwon impatiently took Sunghoon’s legs and pulled his body down, now allowing

Sunghoon to lie flat on his back.

“Thank you,” Sunghoon said softly. Jiwon grunted in return, beginning the therapy.

He lifted Sunghoon’s left leg, he held it gingerly – it was so limp…. He pushed it towards Sunghoon’s chest slowly.

push forward – pull out

push forward – pull out

In order to keep from Sunghoon’s leg muscles from deteriorating, this pushing and pulling had to be done repeatedly daily. Usually the two talked during this time, but

Jiwon wasn’t in the mood today…

He switched to the right leg, mechanically moving his legs.

“Are you acting like this because of a girl?” Sunghoon asked, looking up at the ceiling.

Jiwon didn’t reply.

“I can tell…it’s because of a girl. Your face is pink,” Sunghoon commented.

“My face isn’t pink,” Jiwon interjected.

“Yes it is!” Sunghoon insisted.

“Shut up,” Jiwon said irritated, “Why do you care anyways?” he muttered under his breath. He pushed Sunghoon’s leg forward a little roughly. Like it matters…he still can’t feel anything… Jiwon thought to himself.

“I care……about you…..” he said quietly, reaching over and placing his hand on Jiwon’s wrist.

Jiwon glanced over at the pale boy lying in front of him, helpless….

He immediately felt guilty for being rough with him….he placed Sunghoon’s leg down, and strangely, just from Sunghoon’s simple touch, his pulse began to quicken…..

Sunghoon gently squeezed his wrist and then released him, closing his eyes.

Eventually, he fell asleep, breathing in and out deeply. Jiwon stood there silently watching him….

Then slowly, without his realizing what he was doing…. his heart pounding….Jiwon placed his hands on Sunghoon’s leg again, touching his smooth and soft calf. He slowly began to massage the calf, in small circles, his fingers moving in almost an erotic motion….Sunghoon’s lips parted, he was breathing deeply now, but his eyes remained closed, still asleep.

Jiwon concentrated hard, just wanting to feel him…..He knew Sunghoon couldn’t feel what he was doing….so he continued…..he could feel the blood pumping in his ears…His fingers now moved tenderly to his thigh, he started from the top, making his way around the thigh, one hand alone dared to squeeze Sunghoon’s inner thigh…..

“Ahem!” a deep voice coughed from behind.

Jiwon’s hands pulled back from Sunghoon, as if he had been touching fire…..

“Hello boys!” the doctor greeted them amicably. Jiwon’s face was now REALLY pink.

“Hey doc…” Sunghoon said, waking up. He rubbed his eyes and started to sit up. Jiwon tried to nod to the doctor nonchalantly.

“How’s he doing today?” the doctor inquired.

“Um….good, I guess……” Jiwon said dumbly, still trying to recover.

“Well, Sunghoon, have you told Jiwon the good news?” the doctor asked, with a twinkle in his eye.

Sunghoon laughed and shook his head.

“What? What good news?” Jiwon demanded.

“Our Sunghoon here….” the doctor paused dramatcially, “He can FEEL his legs now!” the doctor announced, grinning.

Jiwon’s eyes widended. The realization struck him….Sunghoon had felt everything he had done….. He suddenly felt like he couldn’t breathe….

The doctor gave more instructions to the two about changing the therapy exercises, but Jiwon was hardly listening. All that was going through his mind was that Sunghoon knew what Jiwon had been doing to him….

Soon the doctor left and the two of them were alone.

Jiwon’s whole body tensed as Sunghoon watched him. Jiwon stared at the floor, not blinking, breathing hard.

“Why didn’t you tell me…..” Sunghoon gazed at him, smiling faintly.

Ch.3

“Why….didn’t you tell me you could feel your legs?” Jiwon repeated, his voice rough.

Sunghoon looked directly into his eyes.

“Why did you touch me like that?” he asked softly.

Jiwon reddened.

“I…….uh……I was just……massaging your legs…..” he said weakly.

Sunghoon nodded slowly and smiled a knowing smile.

“And I just wanted to surprise you….” he replied back simply.

They stood there in silence and then Jiwon decided he couldn’t stand it anymore. He spun on his heels, needing to get out…..

He could still feel Sunghoon’s eyes watching him as he left the room….

****

Jiwon paced the hallway, walking back and forth, back and forth. What was wrong with him? Why HAD he touched Sunghoon like that? It was as if some magnetic force had overtaken him, drawn him towards Sunghoon and made him have to touch him….. He had to satisfy his urge……

Jiwon closed his eyes, his heart beating rapidly….he usually didn’t feel this way unless….unless he liked — it was almost as if….as if he was attracted to Sunghoon….

He shook his head, “No….no….that’s not it,” he said to himself. But the images, his enormous eyes, his mesmerizing stare, his soft silky skin….he couldn’t get it out of his mind….

“NO!!!” Jiwon almost shouted. Nurses and nearby patients, stopped what they were doing and turned to stare at him. He looked away, flustered.

Why was he thinking about him like this? He slumped against the wall, confused….

“I was just trying to help him, that’s all….” Jiwon said softly, trying to reassure himself.

He stood there quietly, calming himself down, but a small tiny seed of doubt was growing in him already…..

“No….no…..it’s not like that….I’m NOT like that….” he whispered.

*****

As Jiwon entered Sunghoon’s room again, he saw that Sunghoon had laid back down, his back turned away from the door.

Jiwon cleared his throat so that Sunghoon knew he was in the room. Sunghoon remained still.

Jiwon, not knowing what to really say or do, just walked over to his bed.

“Sunghoon? Are you sleeping?” he asked quietly.

No response.

Not wanting to disturb him, Jiwon decided to get his things and leave. He picked up his keys and was about to head home, when he heard Sunghoon’s soft sigh.

He glanced back at Sunghoon and noticed his shoulders shaking slightly……as if he was crying…..

Jiwon slowly walked back over to the bed, where Sunghoon was facing, and found him wiping away his tears.

“What’s wrong?? Why are you crying?” Jiwon asked a bit alarmingly.

“H-h-hyung, what am I going to do? I….I don’t have anywhere to stay….” he responded forlornly.

“What are you talking about? You’re going to stay in the hospital!” Jiwon said, his brow furrowing.

“No hyung, didn’t you listen to the doctor a minute ago? He said I could go home to recuperate…..but I don’t HAVE a home to go to….” Sunghoon whimpered.

Jiwon frowned, but then remembered that because he was so shocked by the doctor’s news about Sunghoon, he hadn’t paid attention to what the doctor had said after that.

And now…..now Sunghoon needed help…. His heart ached to see him cry…. Without really thinking, he placed his hand on Sunghoon’s shoulder.

“Do…do you want to….stay with me?” Jiwon asked softly.

Sunghoon’s tears stopped. He turned to look up at Jiwon, his eyes glistening.

“You would let me stay with you?” Sunghoon asked, almost in a whisper.

Jiwon shifted uncomfortably with his feet.

“Well…I mean, I want to …..well…I….after all, I-I said I would….” Jiwon mumbled, scratching the back of his head, not looking at him.

“You said you would what?” Sunghoon asked questioningly. Jiwon coughed. “Um….I said I would take care of you….” he finished, embarrassed. He kept his eyes glued to the floor.

Sunghoon began to smile.

*****

“Morning,” Jiwon greeted gruffly, letting himself into Sunghoon’s room. He was holding a tray of fluffy scrambled eggs, sizzling bacon, golden brown toast, fresh bowl of fruit, and a tall glass of orange juice.

Sunghoon rubbed his eyes lazily, slowly propping himself up, blinking.

“What’s this hyung?” he asked, giving a small yawn.

“I made breakfast for you — before I go to school,” Jiwon said proudly.

To Jiwon’s dismay, Sunghoon, too tired, yawned again and pulled the covers back over his head.

“Hyung, I’ll eat it later….I want to sleep some more,” he mumbled sleepily.

Jiwon felt himself grow irritated. He brought the tray down roughly on the bed, right next to Sunghoon.

“Eat NOW!” he barked.

Sunghoon jumped from his loud voice. He quickly sat up and grabbed a piece of toast and bit off a corner, chewing rapidly.

Jiwon smiled broadly now, watching Sunghoon scarf down his food. Within ten minutes, Sunghoon had finished everything.

Satisfied, Jiwon bent down to pick up the dishes and tray.

DING DONG!

Sunghoon looked at Jiwon questioningly while gulping down his orange juice.

“Huh…That’s strange, who could that be?” Jiwon muttered. “I’ll be right back,” he said to Sunghoon, closed his door and walked over to the front door.

He opened the door and to his surprise, he faced a smiling Jiyong.

“Hey~” Jiyong greeted cheerfully.

“What are you doing here?” Jiwon asked surprised.

“Jahshik…I came here to take you to school,” Jiyong replied.

“Oh…oh, ok. Gimme a second then. Come on in,” Jiwon said, knowing this was Jiyong’s way of apologizing for his previous behavior.

“Thanks! By the way, what happened to that kid from the hospital?” Jiyong asked, his eyes full of curiosity.

“Oh…uh, he’s in the guest room…He’s staying with me for a little bit….” Jiwon said, trying to act nonchalantly, like it was a totally normal thing to have a strange guy stay at your house.

Jiyong stared at Jiwon in disbelief, but quickly recovered.

“Oh….cool. Can I see him?” he asked.

“Uh…Sure,” Jiwon said shrugging his shoulders. “He’s in that room…Go see him while I go get my stuff for school,” he said, pointing to the room.

Jiyong nodded and Jiwon turned to get his stuff.

Jiyong slowly walked over to the door and knocked gingerly on it.

“Come in,” a soft voice replied.

Jiyong entered and found himself staring at a young looking boy. He closed the door behind him.

They looked at one another when Jiyong finally cleared his throat to speak.

“Um….My name is….” he began.

“Jiyong. I know,” Sunghoon finished for him matter-of-factly with a smile. Jiwon had told him about his friends.

Jiyong stared at him, his mouth hanging open. He realized this and quickly closed it.

“And you are…..” he trailed off.

“Sunghoon. Kang Sunghoon,” Sunghoon replied easily.

“Kang Sunghoon….I see….” Jiyong said, repeating his name. His lips then turned upwards into a perfect smile.

“You know……You can’t take him away from me,” Jiyong said, who continued to smile but stared hard at him.

Sunghoon returned his stare, not even flinching.

“You’re right….” Sunghoon replied finally.

Jiyong relaxed, his smile getting bigger.

But to his surprise, Sunghoon continued.

“He’s ALREADY mine………”

Ch.4

“I don’t like to share what’s mine….” Sunghoon said quietly.

Jiyong began to laugh. The corners of Sunghoon’s lips pulled down to a slight frown.

“What’s so funny?” asked a curious Jiwon, standing in the doorway.

Jiyong quickly cleared his throat.

“Oh, nothing…. He’s a cute kid Jiwon,” Jiyong remarked, grinning over at Jiwon.

Sunghoon looked down at his hands, hearing the haughtiness in his tone.

Jiwon reddened slightly. “Uh…. yeah….We better get going Jiyong……” he said, quickly changing the subject. Jiwon motioned for him to leave and left the room.

Jiyong slowly turned to Sunghoon.

“Nice meeting you Sunghoon,” he said with a touch of sarcasm, offering his hand.

Sunghoon glanced at him, and slowly raised his hand to Jiyong’s, shaking it robotically.

Jiyong’s grip immediately tightened over Sunghoon’s, almost crushing his fingers…..as if……… a warning……

Sunghoon winced in pain, biting his lip to keep himself from crying out. But before he could say anything, Jiyong then released his grip and walked off, smirking.

Sunghoon watched him leave out of the corner of his eyes……

Suddenly, Jiwon returned to the room.

“Um, if you need anything, just tell the ah-joh-mah….. She’ll help you….ok?” he said gently.

Sunghoon stared directly into Jiwon’s eyes.

“When are you coming home?” he asked softly.

“Uh….. right after school gets out…. We’ll work on your therapy then, ok?” Jiwon promised.

“Right after school?” Sunghoon asked.

“Right after school,” Jiwon said firmly.

Sunghoon treated him to one of his charming smiles.

“Ok!” he said happily.

Jiwon smiled too.

****

In Jiyong’s car….

They rode in silence. Jiwon drank his coke silently while Jiyong tapped his steering wheel methodically…. thinking…..

He had known Jiwon for a long time now…. over ten years, actually. The two had been good friends ever since elementary school… Jiyong remembered when they first met.

~~~

He was new to the elementary school and he didn’t have any friends. During recess everyday, he was constantly bullied and teased by the other kids. But one day, it all changed…..

“Haha…Look at that bean pole! He’s a freak….so tall and his neck is so long, he’s like a giraffe!” yelled the school bully. “Giraffe! Giraffe!” the bully chanted. Other kids soon joined in, pointing and laughing at him.

Jiyong stood there humiliated. He knew he was tall for his age and thus, always stood out from the other kids. And he hated it. He hated being tall. Why couldn’t he just be short like all the other Korean kids? He lowered his head in shame, trying to hold his tears back.

“Giraffe! You FREEEE —–” the bully was suddenly cut off. The kids gasped in shock.

Jiyong looked up to see why he had stopped his shouting.

There stood Jiwon, breathing hard, his hands clenched. The bully was on the ground, his nose bleeding profusely from Jiwon’s punch.

“What did he ever do to you!!!!” Jiwon yelled at him. The bully glared at Jiwon angrily, wiping his blood from his nose with the back of his hand.

“What makes you so great to call him that?” Jiwon sneered at him. The bully tried to get up, but Jiwon kicked in the stomach. He groaned painfully.

“ANSWER ME……” Jiwon shouted. All the kids watched in awe.

The bully moaned in return.

“Apologize to him right now, and don’t ever let me catch you even LOOKING in his direction…” Jiwon ordered threateningly.

“I’m…..s-s-soh….reee….” the bully whispered weakly.

“I CAN’T HEAR YOU…..” Jiwon barked.

“I’m sorry…..I’m sorry Jiyong,” the bully managed to say more loudly.

Satisfied, Jiwon turned around and walked away. The kids now began laughing at the humilated bully.

But Jiyong wasn’t watching the bully. His eyes followed Jiwon…..

It was as if Jiwon knew Jiyong was watching him….He turned around and his eyes locked with Jiyong’s. Jiwon nodded towards the new boy, and Jiyong then walked over to him and from that point on, they were inseparable.

And Jiyong knew then, that he wanted Jiwon to be his……

~~~

“Ahem….Uh…….Did you finish all your homework?” Jiyong said, trying to start a conversation.

“No…..”

“Oh…..”

Jiyong decided to take another approach.

“You know what? I think that kid, Sunghoon…… he has a crush on you or something…..”

Jiyong commented innocently, as Jiwon was in the midst of drinking.

As soon as he heard that, Jiwon began coughing uncontrollably, from swallowing the wrong way. “What?! What are you talking about?!!” he sputtered, wiping his mouth. His eyes were wide open.

“I think…no, I KNOW he likes you,” Jiyong replied simply, noting his reaction.

“Hahaha…FUNNY, Jiyong,” he retorted, but looked out the window, trying to hide his true reaction. Jiwon felt his pulse quicken…… from being pleased with Jiyong’s comment…… He remembered Sunghoon smiling him before he left for school…..and he again, smiled.

And although Jiyong was looking at the back of Jiwon’s head, his eyes shifted and he saw from the passenger window reflection…….Jiwon’s small smile…….

****

After school….

Jiwon looked at his watch impatiently. He specifically told Jiyong to meet him in the parking lot right after school….but ten mintues had already passed since school let out for the day.

“This is the last time I get a ride from him….” he muttered to himself. He sighed…..

Sunghoon was waiting for him….

Finally, Jiwon spotted his tall friend, walking casually towards him.

“Hurry up Jiyong!” Jiwon called out, irritated. Jiyong picked up his pace a little.

“Hey Jiwon… Let’s go get something to eat. I’m starving!” Jiyong suggested cheerfully.

“Sorry — I need to get home,” Jiwon retorted shortly as the two got into the car.

“Why? Because of Sunghoon? He can wait a little bit…..” Jiyong said, beginning to feel himself grow jealous.

“I need to get home,” Jiwon repeated stubbornly.

Jiyong sighed and started the engine.

On the way to Jiwon’s house, Jiyong suddenly pulled over, parking the car.

“What the…… What are you doing?” Jiwon asked, his brow raised as Jiyong got out of the car.

“Hold on for one second, I need to pick up something real quick….” Jiyong said and quickly ran into the store.

A minute later, Jiyong came out wearing a triumphant grin. Jiwon watched him curiously, carrying a cd.

He got back into the car and gently threw the cd onto Jiwon’s lap.

“What’s this…….” Jiwon asked. And then his eyes widened.

He was looking at the newly-released FINAL FANTASY IX…..

Jiwon’s hands trembled as he picked up the cd, he felt himself growing excited.

“Well, off to your house right?” Jiyong said pleasantly, starting the engine.

Jiwon swallowed hard. His hands were just itching to play the new game….. but his mother had banned video games from his house for some time, and Jiyong’s house was the only other place to play it……..

“Uh…ah…..hey, well, since you just got this game….let’s just check it out…..” Jiwon suggested feebly.

“You have time to? I thought you had to see Sunghoon…..” Jiyong said innocently.

“He…..he can wait….. Let’s just play for a little bit…..ok?” Jiwon said.

Jiyong grinned as they made their way over to his house.

****

4 hours later….

“DIE DIE!!” Jiwon yelled at the television screen.

GAME OVER

“Man…. Final Fantasy IX is awesome!!” Jiwon exclaimed. He had lost 10 times in a row.

It was much more challenging and that’s why he liked it so much…

Jiyong laughed. “You’re addicted to video games Jiwon, you know that?” he said.

“I’m not addicted….. Besides, I think I’m getting better at this…. With a little more practice, I’ll be able to get through the first stage….” Jiwon said cockily, cracking his knuckles.

Jiyong laughed some more. Jiwon stretched out his arms, yawning.

“What time is it anyways?” he muttered. He looked at his watch. 9:13 PM.

“Damn!!! I’ve been here that long???” he nearly shouted. He quickly got up, grabbing his backpack. Where had the time gone…….

Jiyong got up. “Do you need a ride?” he offered.

“No,no…don’t worry, I’ll take a taxi home…. Dammit….” Jiwon cursed, angry at himself for not keeping track of the time. Sunghoon was waiting……

“I’ll see you tomorrow Jiyong!” Jiwon called out and ran out the door.

Jiyong closed the door, and went to his room, whistling happily.

****

Jiwon paused, taking a deep breath before knocking on Sunghoon’s door.

tap, tap

No answer.

He decided to let himself in quietly. Sunghoon was already sleeping.

Jiwon sighed guiltily, watching Sunghoon resting.

“I’m sorry Sunghoon…..” he whispered.

“It’s okay Jiwon hyung,” Sunghoon whispered back.

Jiwon’s mouth dropped open from surprise. Sunghoon’s eyes slowly opened.

“Where did you go?” he asked.

“I…..” Jiwon couldn’t bring himself to tell him he had spent the last four hours playing a video game.

“It’s okay…. You don’t have to tell me……” Sunghoon said softly and closed his eyes again.

“Sunghoon…..” Jiwon began, and touched his shoulder.

“Don’t touch me…..” he said. Jiwon pulled his hand away, feeling terrible.

“Stand at the foot of the bed,” Sunghoon ordered quietly.

Jiwon, with some uncertainty, did as he was told.

Then to his amazement, Sunghoon slowly got out of bed….. and with small baby like steps, began to walk towards Jiwon…….

He eventually made it to where Jiwon was standing…..smiling proudly….

“This is what I was doing while you were gone….” Sunghoon said happily.

Jiwon’s face broke into a grin.

“This is awesome! You can start walking now!” he exclaimed, thrilled with the good news.

“Yeah…..but it’s really tiring to even just walk that much….” Sunghoon explained wearily, holding onto the edge of the bed now.

“Yeah, I bet…..You should take it easy…..” Jiwon said nodding, “But this is great news!” he exclaimed.

Sunghoon laughed, his eyes sparkling, as he sat on the bed to rest.

Jiwon sat next to him, patting his shoulder in congratulations.

“Wow….I’m so happy for you……” Jiwon said, chuckling. “I’m so happy, I could just kiss you!” he added, laughing.

Sunghoon gazed over at Jiwon, his expression serious now, and spoke sofly.

“Why don’t you……….”

Ch.5

They stared at one another.

Jiwon was speechless. Did he just say to……..

Sunghoon continued to stare into his eyes. And then he ever so slowly began leaning forward towards Jiwon…..

Jiwon froze, holding his breath. His heart hammering wildly in his chest…… Sunghoon leaned in even closer….

His face was now inches away from Jiwon’s…. His breath lightly tickling Jiwon’s cheek, creating an arousing effect on Jiwon…..

Jiwon shut his eyes tightly…….preparing himself….

And then….. then……. nothing happened.

Jiwon slowly opened his eyes warily….. And saw that Sunghoonhad backed away and was smiling at him.

“Hyung? You okay?” Sunghoon asked, a twinkle in his eye.

Jiwon felt his face on fire.

“Uh…Yeah, I’m okay,” he mumbled in return, abruptly getting up from the bed.

“You better get some sleep,” Sunghoon said while crawling back into his bed, “You look kind of tired,” he added, still smiling at him.

All Jiwon could do was nod.

****

He lay in bed, tossing and turning. Just unable to sleep or even come close to yawning.

It was crazy. The way Sunghoon was making him feel….

Jiwon slapped his face, trying to knock some sense into himself……

“Stop thinking about him Jiwon,” he said, “You don’t like boys. You like GIRLS,” he muttered.

But……..Sunghoon was different……

Jiwon groaned. It was going to be along night.

****

Jiwon left the house early in the morning for school, avoiding Sunghoon. He was confused, very unsure of his feelings….. All these thoughts distracted him as he entered the school. And he just could not get his mind off of Sunghoon……

-WHAM-

He ran smack into a girl, knocking her to the ground.

Jiwon quickly bent down to help her, to see if she was alright. And then he realized it was the same girl from the movies…..

“I’m so sorry…. I wasn’t watching where I was going…uh….” Jiwon apologized. Her name……Jiwon thought…Damn, he still couldn’t remember.

“It’s Jiyun, remember?” she snapped. Jiwon embarassed, offered his hand to her.

Jiyun roughly grabbed his hand to help herself up, but she was obviously still mad.

“Nice running into you,” she said sarcastically, and walked the other way, brushing the dirt off her clothes.

Then Jiwon suddenly had an idea.

“Jiyun! Wait up!!” he called out.

****

Jiwon raced home. He didn’t have much time. He threw his backpack, on the floor of his room and began rummaging through his closet to find something clean to wear.

He finally decided on a black v-neck sweater and jeans and went to the bathroom to gel his hair and spritz some cologne on.

Jiwon studied his reflection carefully. As usual, he looked good. He smiled at the mirror.

Now he was ready for his date.

~*~

He picked her up twenty minutes later and they were off to the movie theater for the premiere of Mission Impossible 2. Jiyun looked beautiful as usual, but she still remained distant from Jiwon. It had taken all of his persuasive skills to convince her to give him another chance and evenutally, she gave in.

Jiwon casually slipped his arm around her waist, she didn’t resist. He led her into the theater and chose to sit in the very last row, the very back.

“Do you want something to eat? Popcorn or anything?” he asked. She shook her head no. They settled into their seats as the movie began.

Within the first 20 minutes, Jiwon had already moved his arm around her shoulder. But to Jiwon’s surprise, she remained stiff and upright in her seat.

Instead of watching the movie, Jiwon focused on her…. Jiyun stared straight ahead at the movie.

He leaned towards her, smelling her hair. It smelled like roses. He hated roses. He stopped breathing in and then moved closer to her, nuzzling her neck. He then raised his head and brushed his lips against her soft cheek. He heard her breathe in sharply…

And then he knew she was getting turned on.

Jiwon brought his hand to her face, turning her head towards him and he met her lips sofly. Carefully and gently prying her mouth open with his expert kisses. She opened her mouth and their tongues touched, each exploring the taste of the other. Jiwon’s hands held her face as they continued to kiss, but now Jiyun wanted more….

She leaned closer towards him, her breathing uneven, touching his firm chest, then to his stomach, and finally even lower…..

Jiwon abruptly stopped kissing her and pushed her away.

His heart was pounding. He didn’t want her touch him like that. Jiwon wiped his lips, trying to get rid of the taste of her lipstick.

“Fuck you Jiwon,” Jiyun hissed, got up and stormed out of the theater, ignoring the dirty looks people gave her as she exited.

A handful of people were staring at him, some curious, some laughing. Full of embarassment, Jiwon too, left the theater.

~*~

She was nowhere in sight. Jiwon sighed as he searched the parking lot for one last time. He gave up and walked to his car.

“Dammit,” he cursed and kicked his tire. What was wrong with him? Why did he react towards her touch like that? He couldn’t help it…… It just didn’t feel right….

Jiwon gritted his teeth as he got into his car and sped home.

~*~

He slammed the door shut and entered the living room. Sunghoon was sitting on the couch, eating popcorn and watching TV.

Sunghoon glanced at Jiwon curiously. “What’s wrong hyung?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Jiwon mumbled and plopped on the opposite end of the couch.

“You can tell me…… I won’t tell anyone,” Sunghoon said.

Jiwon sighed, temporarily forgetting the awkwardness between them the night before.

“I had a bad date,” he said simply.

Sunghoon nodded sympathetically. “I see……. Too bad you didn’t tell me you were going to go out on a date, otherwise I could’ve given you some advice,” he said, popping a handful of popcorn into his mouth.

Jiwon looked at Sunghoon strangely. “YOU give ME advice?” he said and began to laugh.

“Don’t laugh…. I’m an expert with girls, you just don’t know…” Sunghoon said in a slightly annoyed tone.

Jiwon laughed even more. Sunghoon pouted and threw some popcorn at him.

“I’m telling you now though. Most likely, the reason why you had a bad date is because of YOU,” Sunghoon declared in a haughtly tone.

Jiwon stopped laughing. “You think it’s MY fault?” he asked, slightly irritated, even though Sunghoon was right.

“Yup!” Sunghoon said smirking.

“You don’t even know what happened tonight or even what kind of girl my date is,”

Jiwon said, raising his eyebrow.

“Ok, then why don’t you tell me what happened? Or better yet……. let’s re-enact it!”

Sunghoon suddenly said mischieviously.

“Ha! Ok, Mr. I’m-the-expert-on-women,” Jiwon agreed.

They sat on the couch, pretending to be in Jiwon’s car.

“Hey Jiyun,” Jiwon greeted.

“Hi Jiwon oppa~ My, you look so handsome tonight,” Sunghoon said, making his voice squeaky and high-pitched.

“She doesn’t say gay things like that,” Jiwon said. “She was very quiet in the car and at the movie theater,” he explained.

“Oh, okay.” Sunghoon said, he then flipped his hair, in a girly fashion. And Jiwon had to smile from seeing this. Sunghoon sure knew how to play his role well.

“Ok, now we’re at the thea…ter… So get up,” Jiwon ordered.

Sunghoon got up with Jiwon’s help and they began to slowly walk around the living room. Jiwon slipped his arm around Sunghoon’s waist.

“Oh~yah! Oppa~~ not here!” Sunghoon squealed, pushing Jiwon away.

Jiwon rolled his eyes. “She doesn’t act like that!” he said exasperated. “She liked it when I did that,” Jiwon said.

“Ok, ok.. Sorr-reee…..” Sunghoon muttered. Jiwon again, put his arm around his waist and they headed back towards the couch.

“Ok, then I said to her, “You want some popcorn or something to eat?” ” Jiwon said.

“I want popcorn Jiwon oppa! I’m so hungry,” Sunghoon said sweetly.

“HA. Sorry Sunghoon. She didn’t want anything to eat,” Jiwon replied and sat down on the couch.

“What kind of girl is she? Not wanting anything to eat,” Sunghoon grumbled and sat down next to him.

“Ok, let’s be serious,” he ordered. “Now, we’re watching the movie,” Jiwon explained.

Sunghoon nodded and stared intently at the TV screen.

“Then I put my arm around her and smelled her hair……..” Jiwon continued gently.

Jiwon slowly brought his arm around Sunghoon’s shoulder, drawing him closer to him.

And even without Jiwon’s saying so, Sunghoon remained stiff. Jiwon then leaned towards Sunghoon, smelling his hair. It smelled of Jiwon’s favorite shampoo. Very fresh and inviting…….

And just like his date, Jiwon then nuzzled Sunghoon’s neck, inhaling his boyish scent…..

He suddenly felt very dizzy……

“And then what happened……” Sunghoon asked softly.

“Then……..then I kissed her…….” Jiwon whispered. He couldn’t believe what he was

doing….. He brought his hand to Sunghoon’s face and slowly turned it towards him, their lips now inches apart.

Sunghoon closed the small space in between them and his soft lips were pressing against Jiwon’s……

Ch. 6

Jiwon, at first tried to back away, as much as he had the urge to kiss Sunghoon, he also didn’t want to….. But Sunghoon pushed Jiwon back, forcing him to lay on the couch now… still kissing him.

Sunghoon’s soft lips gently caressed Jiwon’s… making Jiwon relax some and eventually… he gave in… he allowed his mouth to open a bit…and Sunghoon took the opportunity to trace Jiwon’s lips with his tongue. Jiwon’s heart was racing…. his head feeling dizzy, his mind turning to mush…. Feeling Sunghoon’s entire body flat against his, brought him an unexplainable pleasure…. he felt himself growing harder by the second.

Sunghoon deepened their kiss, finally being able to taste him…. Jiwon felt himself responding to Sunghoon’s demanding kisses. A tiny moan of pleasure escaped from his throat…..

Jiwon tentatively raised his hands around Sunghoon, slightly hugging him, a bit unsure what to do….. Sunghoon broke off the kiss, out of breath, his face flushed with excitement. He closed his eyes and slowly moved his body against Jiwon’s, their organs brushing against one another through their clothes….

Jiwon gasped from the touch, which had aroused him even more…. Sunghoon continued to repeat this, each time pressing a little harder against him…. and a little faster……

Jiwon watched Sunghoon hovering above him, his eyes closed, his lips parted….and he could feel his warm breath on his cheek….

It was all so much for Jiwon to handle…. to control himself…. and then he couldn’t take it anymore… he exploded right there — letting himself go….

Sunghoon stopped moving and slowly opened his eyes, staring into Jiwon’s face.

Jiwon, embarassed, turned his head, looking away…….but Sunghoon moved his hand to Jiwon’s handsome face, forcing him to look at him.

Without saying a word, Sunghoon bent down and kissed his lips, very softly…. and this comforted Jiwon…….

“If your date was like *this*, how could it be bad?” Sunghoon murmered.

It didn’t turn out *this* way……” Jiwon whispered softly.

“Why not?” Sunghoon asked quietly.

“I……..I….” Jiwon couldn’t find the words.

“Didn’t like her…….” Sunghoon finished for him.

Jiwon slowly nodded as the two untangled themselves from each other, and sat upright on the couch.

“If you didn’t like her, then why’d you go out with her?” Sunghoon inquired.

“Because…….of you…” Jiwon blurted out. His face reddened from his outburst. He spoke without thinking. He had asked Jiyun on a date because he wanted to get

Sunghoon out of his mind…. he wished he had enough courage to tell Sunghoon this, but he couldn’t bring himself to say anything more.

Sunghoon studied Jiwon carefully. Even without saying anything else, he understood how Jiwon felt. He then slowly reached over, touching Jiwon’s hand.

His hands were so warm….so soft…., Jiwon thought.

The two watched the TV screen in front of them, in silence…. in thought….

Neither of their minds concentrating at the flickering monitor.

****

~ RING RING ~

Jiwon groaned, if there was one thing he hated, it was the phone waking him up in the morning. He reached over and picked up the receiver.

“H’lo?” he said in an irritable voice.

“Jiwonah~ Wake up already! It’s 12:30,” replied cheerful Jiyong.

“Man Jiyong… I don’t care what freaking time it is — I need my sleep!” Jiwon said annoyed.

“Alright alright… Let me just ask you something real quick. What are your plans for tonight?” he asked pleasantly.

“I don’t know! It’s 12:30! I just got up….” Jiwon grumbled, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

“Well, then let’s go clubbing tonight! Drinks on me, k?” Jiyong said.

Jiwon’s ears perked up. Free drinks??

“Free drinks all night?” Jiwon asked.

“Sure, why not?” Jiyong said.

“Sunghoon’s coming too?,” Jiwon said abruptly, more than asking.

Jiyong paused, but only for a second.

“Sure, if he wants to,” he replied lightly. “So we are on for tonight then?”

“Definitely!” Jiwon declared, grinning.

****

Later in the evening….

“What do you mean you don’t want to go?” Jiwon demanded, his hands on his hips.

“I don’t feel like going,” Sunghoon replied, shrugging his shoulders.

Jiwon watched Sunghoon sitting prettily on his bed, reading a magazine.

“Did you hear what I said before? Jiyong’s buying tonight. The WHOLE NIGHT…” Jiwon said stressing the words ‘whole night’.

Sunghoon didn’t look up from his magazine.

“I don’t care,” he said in an uninterested tone.

Jiwon decided to take another approach. He knealt beside the bed so he could be at eye level with Sunghoon.

“C’mon Sunghoon, please? I’ll be fun… please??” Jiwon pleaded. “Pretty please??”

Sunghoon looked at him, a smile forming on his face. He liked to see Jiwon beg.

“Hmm…….” Sunghoon murmurmed, pretending to think about it.

“No,” he said smiling.

Jiwon narrowed his eyes.

“FINE,” he said shortly.

He walked over to the phone next to the bed and angrily punched in the numbers.

“Hello? Yeah…. I can’t go….. Why? Because Sunghoon doesn’t want to go…… I don’t know! Of course I did…… yeah, no, I can’t….. yeah, ok……. bye,” Jiwon said and hung up. He started to walk out of the room when Sunghoon got up from the bed and stopped him at the door.

Sunghoon slipped his arms around Jiwon from behind, hugging him.

“I won…..I won……” he sang softly. “You’re not mad at me, right?” Sunghoon asked.

Silence.

“Jiwon…..?”

Jiwon sighed and turned around to face Sunghoon.

“No, I’m not mad,” he said in a defeated tone.

“I know….” Sunghoon said, snuggling clsoer to him.

“What should we do instead?” Jiwon asked.

“What do you want to do?” Sunghoon shot back.

“I know……..” Jiwon said grinning mischieviously.

“What?” Sunghoon asked, looking at him curiously.

Jiwon then suddenly picked up Sunghoon and with all his strength, and threw him on the bed.

“CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKING???” bellowed Jiwon.

“You Jabroni!!!” Sunghoon shouted and they began a round of WWF.

Jiwon jumped on the bed and immediately caught Sunghoon in a headlock and began messing up his hair.

“Jiwon! Don’t touch my hair!!” yelled Sunghoon. He hated it when Jiwon did that.

Jiwon laughed and did it more. Sunghoon squirmed out of his grip, mad and then suddenly lunged forward, head-butting Jiwon in the stomach.

“Ung~~” Jiwon groaned in pain, clutching his stomach.

“Hah! That’s what you Jabronies get!” Sunghoon panted, out of breath. Jiwon didn’t respond, not moving.

“Jiwon? Are you……” Sunghoon peered down at h im, a look of concern growing on his face. He shook Jiwon gently. Still no movement.

“Jiwon!” Sunghoon cried, more urgently. He bent down near Jiwon’s face to check and see if he was breathing. Sunghoon stuck two fingers up Jiwon’s nose.

Jiwon snorted in response. “What the……!!!” Sunghoon laughed, clapping his hands.

“I knew it!! You were just faking being hurt! You ALWAYS do that….” Sunghoon exclaimed.

Jiwon wiped his nose. “Dang….. I thought you’d fall for it again like you always do,” he replied.

“I don’t ALWAYS fall for your tricks,” Sunghoon said huffily.

“Yeah you do,” Jiwon said.

“No I don’t!” Sunghoon nearly shouted and whacked Jiwon in the head with a nearby pillow.

“Oh…NOW you’re going to die!” Jiwon declared as they started to wrestle again.

Somehow Jiwon managed to pin Sunghoon down on the bed and Jiwon sat on Sunghoon’s stomach,while also holding Sunghoon’s arms down.

“Get off me!! You’re so heavy, I can’t breathe!” gasped Sunghoon.

“Good,” Jiwon said grinning.

Sunghoon wiggled and tried to be released from his grip, but it was useless. Jiwon overpowered him.

“Jiwon….if you let me go, I’ll give you something….” begged a purple Sunghoon.

“Something? What?” Jiwon asked, curious.

“Get off me, and I’ll give it to you,” Sunghoon pleaded, “I promise, it’s nothing bad….”

“Hm……okay….” Jiwon said, his curiousity getting the best of him. He swung his leg over and sat on the bed next to Sunghoon.

Sunghoon breathed in deeply, catching his breath.

“What is it? What are you going to give me??” Jiwon asked impatiently.

Sunghoon then leaned over and pecked him on the cheek.

Jiwon froze, caught off guard. Sunghoon then moved to his mouth, kissing him softly.

Jiwon closed his eyes, the familar feeling of the previous night when they first kissed resurfaced. Sunghoon laid down on the bed, pulling Jiwon’s shirt to pull Jiwon towards him. Their breaths had become ragged and Jiwon felt the urgency to be with

Sunghoon……

*RING RING*

The shrill sound of the telephone shocked Jiwon. He tensed immediately, pulling away from Sunghoon, but Sunghoon held the back of Jiwon’s head with one hand, and with the other, he reached over and pushed the telephone, knocking it to the floor.

“Sunghoon……I should answer it…..” Jiwon said, out of breath from their kissing.

“No…..not now……” Sunghoon murmured, and then proceeded to leave light kisses on his neck, tasting his skin…..tasting him…..

Jiwon gave a small moan………

****

Jiyong gripped the phone tightly…..

His teeth were clenched, as he heard the two through his receiver……

He was breathing hard.

He couldn’t believe what was happening……

And right then, he decided Sunghoon was going to pay…….

Ch.7

Jiwon stared at his paper. The red ‘F’ at the top of the paper was what he was actually staring at. The other students chatted happily, comparing grades. Overall the entire class had gotten A’s and B’s because it had been an easy test. He was one of the only person that had failed. Jiwon hated his english class.

“Jiwon! How’d you do?” Jiyong called out, walking over to his desk.

Jiwon crumpled up his paper in response.

“That bad, huh?” Jiyong said sympathetically. Jiyong stuffed his paper in his pocket. He had gotten a perfect score on the test.

“I hate this class,” Jiwon muttered.

“It’s a pain,” agreed Jiyong, “Hey —” he started, but was cut off.

“Eun Jiwon!” the professor called out. “See me after class.”

Jiwon closed his eyes, sighing.

** after class **

“Your grades have been dropping steadily Jiwon. Why is that?” the professor asked sternly.

“I’m sorry professor. I should have studied more,” Jiwon said quietly. His head hung in shame.

The professor sighed. “Look, you’re a bright student — maybe just a little lazy at times….

So I’ll tell you what. How about I give you a chance to bring your grade up?” he offered.

Jiwon raised his head up, with a hopeful expression.

“You write a five page paper over what the test covered and turn it in tomorrow first thing in the morning and we’ll see how you do from there,” the professor said.

Jiwon smiled gratefully. “Thank you professor. You have NO idea how much I appreciate this,” he babbled.

The professor held his hand up. “Just do your best on this paper,” he said.

****

Soon as Jiwon got home, he carried the books he had checked out at the library and set them next to his computer. He immediately sat down, leafing through the pages, pulling out paper and jotting notes.

There was a soft tap at the door. Jiwon didn’t even hear it, he was too engrossed in his work.

Sunghoon quietly entered the room carrying a glass of juice.

“Jiwon hyung………” he greeted happily.

“Mmm?” Jiwon replied, not even looking up.

“I brought some juice for you!” Sunghoon announced, giving it to him.

“Oh, thanks.” Jiwon said, writing more things down. “Put it on the table over there,” he ordered.

“Are you going to even LOOK at me?” Sunghoon said pouting.

Jiwon finally looked up at him.

“That’s better,” Sunghoon said grinning.

“Look Sunghoon, I have to get this paper done by tomorrow, and I need to concentrate on this right now. So can you leave me alone?” he asked abruptly. He didn’t mean to sound so rude, but it just came out that way.

Sunghoon stood there for a minute, then spun around and stalked out of the room.

“Sunghoon –, ” Jiwon started, but the door slammed shut.

Jiwon sighed. He felt bad, but he needed to do this paper. He picked up his book and started to read again.

~~ Four hours later…… ~~

He yawned and stretched his arms. Jiwon was almost finished typing his paper. He just had one more paragraph to go. He felt really good that he worked so hard on it and when he re-read it, even he had to admit it was pretty good. He smiled cockily.

“I’m such a good writer,” he said to himself, admiring his work.

Suddenly he heard a rumbling sound coming from outside. Jiwon looked out the window. It had gotten dark quickly, and he realized it was going to rain soon. Paranoid,

Jiwon quickly saved his file into his computer.

He then heard another rumbling sound. This time coming from his stomach. Jiwon got up to go get something to eat from the kitchen.

“Mmmmm…Ramyun sounds good right now…” he said to himself. As he walked out, his eyes caught on the glass of juice, sitting on the table, untouched. A small wave of guilt washed over him. Sunghoon was probably still mad at him for being rude before. He decided to go make ammends.

Jiwon walked into Sunghoon’s room. Sunghoon was watching TV, while sprawled out on the bed.

“Hey,” Jiwon said, standing at the doorway.

Sunghoon stared at the TV.

“Sunghoon…. I’m sorry about before…”

No response.

“I’ll make it up to you~ I’ll make you some ramyun, how’s that?” Jiwon offered.

Sunghoon couldn’t hide his smile. “Okay! And make it really spicy,” he said.

Jiwon grinned back with relief. “You got it,” he said, and went to the kitchen to start making it.

– 15 minutes later –

Jiwon walked to Sunghoon’s room in an apron.

“Sunghoon, it’s all ready, let’s eat!” he said cheerfully.

But no one was in the room.

That’s strange, thought Jiwon. He checked the bathroom, the living room, the kitchen, but he wasn’t anywhere to be found.

Finally Jiwon went to his own room, and sure enough Sunghoon was in his room…..at the computer.

“Hey! Let’s eat, Hoonie,” Jiwon announced.

Sunghoon slowly turned around, his face pale.

And then Jiwon noticed something odd. The computer’s monitor was turned off.

“Why’d you turn off the computer?” Jiwon asked, slightly annoyed that he was messing with his stuff.

“Um….. Hyung……” Sunghoon said weakly.

“What? What’s wrong?” Jiwon asked sharply now. He felt himself growing worried.

“I….. I was on the internet….” Sunghoon began.

“And?” Jiwon asked, his jaw tightening.

“And…. I saw that you had mail… One of the emails said “I Love You,” on it and I opened it…..” he said in an inaudible voice.

Jiwon’s mind was racing. The realization then hit him. Sunghoon had downloaded the ‘I LOVE YOU’ virus….and now, his hard drive was erased, and his computer had shut down. His hands suddenly began to shake uncontrollably.

“Fuck Sunghoon! How could you be so stupid?! Now my fucking computer is jacked up~ and my paper…. Dammit!!!” Jiwon cursed angrily.

Sunghoon bit his lip, his chin quivering.

“Get the hell out of my room!” Jiwon yelled, furious.

Sunghoon slowly got up, a sorrowful look on his face.

“I’m s-s-sorry…..” he whispered, a single tear falling from his eyes.

“Yeah, you ARE sorry,” Jiwon snapped back. He walked over to the computer trying to reboot it. There was no response from it.

“Hyung….” Sunghoon said softly, and touched his shoulder.

Jiwon whirled around and suddenly shoved Sunghoon, knocking him to the floor.

Sunghoon, shocked, looked up at Jiwon. His sad expression then turned to anger… to almost a look of hate……

Immediately, Jiwon knew he had gotten out of control.

“Sunghoon…. I’m sorry,” Jiwon said, but Sunghoon quickly got up, and ran out of the room.

Jiwon ran after him, but Sunghoon somehow had gotten his shoes on quickly and he was out the door. Jiwon kept up with him, barefoot, almost reaching him. They were outside now, tiny raindrops starting to fall. Right when Jiwon was about to grab Sunghoon’s arm, he suddenly lost his balance and tripped over a crack in the ground.

He landed on the damp concrete with a dull thud. His face hit the ground and he could feel the sharp sting of the scratch across his cheek.

But as he watched Sunghoon’s figure disappear, it felt like nothing compared to the pain he was feeling in his heart……

Ch. 8

Jiwon slumped in his chair.

“Ah-joh-mah! Bring me one more bottle of soju,” he called out, slurring his words. It was raining steadily now, the evening turning colder, but Jiwon was warm and drunk in a nearby poh jang mah cha. The ah joh mah brought another bottle to him, adding to the other two empty ones already on the table. She was about to say something, but decided not to. After all, business was business.

Jiwon immediately grabbed the new bottle and began pouring the clear liquid into his shot glass. His hand was unsteady, and he couldn’t quite think straight…. He slowly picked up the glass and downed it in one shot, feeling the slight burn on his throat.

His mind was fuzzy. He stared dumbly at his hands. And suddenly it was like his hand was the most intriguing spectacle he had ever seen. He looked at it in amazement, moving his fingers.

“Whoa….” he mumbled to himself.

Suddenly, there was a brillant flash of lightening which was then followed by a loud clap of thunder.

[Burrrrp]

“Scuse me…” Jiwon mumbled. The thunder had surprised him.

Suddenly two shrieking girls made their way into the tent, scared silly from the thunder.

They laughed hysterically as they put their soaked umbrellas on the floor and grabbed a table.

“Ah-joh-mah~~ Can we get some duk-bok-kee?” One girl asked loudly. The other girl then added, “Yeah, and some soju too….”

Jiwon’s ears perked up. That voice sounded familar. Jiwon tore his eyes away from his hand and saw himself ten feet away from…. Jiyun…

“Hey Jiyun!” Jiwon called out, waving his hand wildly.

Jiyun slowly turned and looked over in his direction in surprise.

“How YOU doin’?” Jiwon slurred, grinning.

Her look of surprise turned into a look of disgust. Her friend rolled her eyes as Jiyun turned away, ignoring him.

“What? Did I do something? Why the cold shoulder?” Jiwon asked, scratching his head in confusion.

“Shut the hell up Jiwon!” snapped Jiyun’s friend. Jiyun shook her head, signaling to her to just ignore him, but her friend refused.

“You have alot of nerve!” her friend continued, her eyes flashing angrily.

Jiwon rubbed his eyes, thinking. And then it hit him. He remembered why Jiyun hated him.

“Oops…” he said in an inaudiable voice.

Silence passed between them. Finally Jiwon spoke up.

“If it means anything now, I’m sorry Jiyun…..” he said softly, looking down at the floor. “I can explain……Do you think we can….. can talk?” he asked quietly.

Jiyun’s friend snorted rudely. “Look, I think it’s kind of late for apologies and your lame excuses, don’t you?” she shot back. “Let’s go Jiyun — he’s annoying the hell out of me,” she said as she got up and gathered her things.

But Jiyun remained sitting.

“Jiyun! Let’s go~ We’ll find someplace else to eat,” her friend urged her.

Then to Jiwon’s surprise, Jiyun shook her head.

“You go ahead, I’ll see you tomorrow….” she said softly.

Her friend stood there staring at her for a minute in disbelief. Finally she sighed heavily and left.

Now the two of them were alone.

Jiyun went over and sat next to Jiwon. They sat in an awkward silence.

“Um…I’m just waiting for you to start…” she finally said.

“Oh. Oh, right,” Jiwon replied back, a little flustered.

“The reason why…. Uh…” he started.

Jiyun nodded, encouraging him to go on.

“You see…. I ….” he stammered.

“Spit it out Jiwon,” she said.

He took a deep breath.

“I was in love with someone else,” he blurted out. “Uh…I guess I still am…”

“The second time when we went out… I just used…you….and I’m sorry…. I wanted to get him off my mind and so I asked you out that day. I know I’m a jerk, but I’m really sorry….” Jiwon babbled.

Jiyun just stared at him.

“Him?” she asked.

Jiwon froze. He hadn’t meant to tell her he was in love with another guy. He silently cursed himself. He wanted to deny it, say something to cover it up, but nothing came out of his mouth.

“I don’t believe this….” she muttered. One of the most eligible guys at her school was in love with a guy?

Jiwon picked up his bottle of soju and began chugging it down. She watched him in shock as he downed the whole bottle.

“What’s wrong with me J’yun….” he asked in an unsteady voice.

After some time, Jiyun finally responded.

“It….It’s okay Jiwon….Nothing’s wrong with you…. You just found someone to love, that’s all..” she said softly. As hard as it was to believe what Jiwon had just said, she actually felt better. He wasn’t such an asshole after all…..

“Why don’t you go home Jiwon…. ” she suggested. “I think you’ve had enough to drink,”

Jiwon nodded.

“Thanks for understanding,” he said quietly.

Jiyun smiled at him.

****

Sunghoon trudged along the street, he was drenched from the pouring rain. He shivered slightly and wrapped his arms tightly around his body, trying to keep himself warm.

He still couldn’t believe that Jiwon could hurt him like that. He never thought Jiwon would ever hurt him…. but he did today…. Sunghoon sighed. As upset as he was that

Jiwon had hurt him, it was so cold outside in the rain! Sunghoon decided that he would make Jiwon grovel and beg for forgiveness and then, and AFTER he had suffered enough, he would forgive him and things could go back to normal. He turned around and started to head back home.

****

Jiwon entered the room. He still felt kind of woozy after all that soju, but he wanted to see Sunghoon before he went to bed. The room was pitch black. He flicked on the light switch, but there was still no light. He then realized the electricity was totally out due to the thunderstorm…. Jiwon could only hear Sunghoon’s steady breathing. He was already asleep…..

Jiwon approached the bed carefully…. He felt like he was blind because he couldn’t see a thing, but he somehow made his way over and kneeled down next to the bed. His hand slowly searched for Sunghoon’s hand and he found it. It was warm and soft….

He raised Sunghoon’s hand to his cheek, loving the way it felt against his skin.

“I’m sorry Sunghoon……” he whispered and then he kissed Sunghoon’s palm tenderly.

Then Sunghoon’s fingers tightened around Jiwon’s hand and began to pull him forward….

Jiwon slowly got on the bed on his hands and knees, making his way closer to Sunghoon’s body.

Sunghoon’s arms wrapped around Jiwon’s neck, hugging him, very tightly… still not saying a word. But Jiwon knew that everything would be alright….

Sunghoon’s breathing was already uneven as Jiwon kissed his cheek gently. Their lips finally met, a feeling of warmth spreading all over Jiwon’s body. Their kisses deepened and Jiwon could sense a type of urgency within Sunghoon….

Jiwon was surprised when Sunghoon started pulling at Jiwon’s shirt. They had never gone quite so far this far….. Jiwon’s heart was pounding as he took off his shirt and could hear Sunghoon doing the same.

He was going to actually do this…..

Ch.9

Jiwon took a deep breath. His heart was pounding in his ears. His blood was pumping as he bent over and kissed him, an earnest, hungry kiss… He became even more excited when Sunghoon responded back with an equal amount of passion….

Jiwon whispered in between kisses, “I love you Hoonie….. and this is just…. just the beginning for us….”

He traced Sunghoon’s chest lightly with his fingers, feeling his nipples grow hard as tiny pebbles each time he rubbed against them with his palms. His hands made their way to the lower part of Sunghoon’s taut stomach and stopped at the band of his boxers. At first Jiwon was hesitant to continue, but Sunghoon’s hand closed over his, helping him slip off the remainder of his clothing until Sunghoon was completely naked and at the mercy of Jiwon….

Jiwon touched Sunghoon’s errrection lightly… He had never touched another man’s penis before and to him, it was one of the most errotic things that he had ever experienced…. He relished the moment as he stroked Sunghoon lovingly, enjoying how Sunghoon’s errection hardened and throbbed more at every touch. Jiwon finally closed his hands over Sunghoon’s penis and he heard Sunghoon gasp sharply from pleasure.

He felt Sunghoon’s hips suddenly quiver and then began thrusting himself in Jiwon’s hands….

Jiwon was panting now, squeezing Sunghoon to the pattern of his thrusts. The thrusts became more urgent, quicker and Jiwon knew Sunghoon was about to come so without thinking, Jiwon enveloped him in his hot mouth.

Sunghoon groaned loudly now… it sounded so odd… yet all Jiwon could think about was giving him pleaure…

His tongue met with the tip of Sunghoon’s rigid penis and he tasted Sunghoon in the most intimate way… He began sucking him, in and out, the breath from his nostrils tickling Sunghoon…. Jiwon sucked harder as Sunghoon moved in and out of his mouth until Sunghoon finally couldn’t stop himself adn climaxed , exploding in Jiwon’s welcoming mouth….

Jiwon drank in the warm semen, but refused to stop. He immediately climbed on top of

Sunghoon and kissed him.

“Taste it….” he said huskily. “You tasted so good….”

Sunghoon twisted his face away, but Jiwon forced his mouth open and kissed him hard.

Sunghoon finally returned the demanding kiss, their tongues touching pushing against one another… Jiwon lay on top of him, their legs entangled with each others when he suddenly became aware of something…..

Sunghoon’s legs were longer than his… but that was impossible….

Jiwon was taller than Sunghoon.

He broke the kiss and looked down at the person below him. It was too dark to make out anything.

“Sunghoon?” Jiwon whispered hoarsely.

Silence.

“Sunghoon???” He asked again, panic rising within him.

“No…. Jiyong….” was the quiet reply.

Jiwon felt sick to his stomach.

He was sweating now.

God… this isn’t happening….., Jiwon thought wildly.

“Surprise Jiwon…..” murmured Jiyong.

A choked cry rose within Jiwon and he backed away from Jiyong, losing his balance and falling off the bed. He landed on the floor with a thud, but scrambled to get back up.

His head was spinning… He felt like throwing up.

“Do you know how much I love you Jiwon?” Jiyong asked.

Hearing these words, Jiwon stumbled through the room, a feeling of deep disgust rising within him. He somehow made it to the bathroom, feeling his way for the toilet. Then

Jiwon threw up.

Jiyong got up from the bed and wobbled over to the bathroom. He could hear Jiwon’s retching…. Jiyong bent down and patted Jiwon on the back. Then to his surprise, Jiwon shoved him away.

“Get the hell away from me –” Jiwon said through his gasps, before throwing up again.

Those words were like a knife in Jiyong’s heart. Jiwon was disgusted with him? He felt an unbearable sense of rejection…..And now, suddenly, Jiyong just wanted to get out of there.

He searched for his clothes and quickly put them on. He found the door and hurriedly walked out….

****

Sunghoon walked quickly, turning towards the house now… He was almost there. He shivered, picking up his pace…. The rain had not stopped yet….

And then he saw a tall figure leaving the house….he knew immediately who it was… Their eyes met and locked with one another as Jiyong neared Sunghoon.

“What are you doing here?” Sunghoon asked suspiciously.

Jiyong’s feeling of rejection immediately turned to revenge. “Wouldn’t you like to know…..” he said, smirking.

Sunghoon noticed how rumpled Jiyong’s clothes were and his hair was also messed up, besides the factor of rain contributing to it. But Sunghoon decided to ignore him and started up to the house and walked past him.

“Never knew Jiwon could be such a great fuck,” Jiyong called out after Sunghoon.

Sunghoon froze. He couldn’t breathe. What did he just say?

“Yeah, you heard me right Hoonie~” Jiyong jeered cruelly. “We just got pretty intimate, if you know what I mean… hahaha….” he said, snickering.

Sunghoon felt his face grow hot.

“Liar —” Sunghoon started to say, but Jiyong just smiled cattily at him.

“Fine, don’t believe it if you don’t want to…. but you know what? He sure does know how to suck~” Jiyong said casually and turned around and walked away, whistling.

Sunghoon felt his knees go weak. Was this really happening? Something in Jiyong’s tone made Sunghoon believe him…. and then he ran into the house.

****

Sunghoon walked into the dark room, out of breath. He could hear some noises coming from the bathroom, but he was too afraid to go in there…. He surveyed the room, but it was still too dark to see anything when suddenly as if on cue, the lights in the room flashed back on. The electricity was back.

And that’s when Sunghoon saw the rumpled bed sheets and several wet patches on the bed…..

He couldn’t stand to see anymore and ran out of the house….

****

Jiwon groggily came home from school. He had just begged his professor to give him another extension on his paper and out of the goodness of his heart, the professor agreed. Jiwon still had other classes to go to, but he told his teachers that he was ill and he just came home.

The truth was, he was worried about Sunghoon. Sunghoon hadn’t come home that night and Jiwon was going out of his mind as to where he was….

When Jiwon thought about what happened last night, he felt so nauseated and sick.

Realizing it was Jiyong that he had…. done *that* with, was….. well, it just made him feel sick….

Jiwon crawled onto his bed, exhausted…. He was going to stay at home until Sunghoon came back…. and then he eventually fell asleep.

****

Sunghoon finally returned home in the late evening. He had been thinking what he should do about this all night and day, wandering the streets like a crazy man. A seed of doubt still was in him and so Sunghoon decided to come back and confront Jiwon. He barged into the room where Jiwon awoke from the noise.

“Sunghoon! Where were you??” Jiwon asked with a concerned look when he entered the room, but Sunghoon ignored his question.

“You fucked him?” Sunghoon demanded furiously.

Jiwon felt dizzy again from just thinking about it.

“Sunghoon, no — we didn’t….. I didn’t know…..I…. I thought it was….you…” Jiwon said weakly.

“We did something…. but not *that*…. Hoonie…I’m so sorry…” Jiwon said trying to explain. He was feeling sick again. He tried to get up from the bed.

“Stay on the bed,” Sunghoon said sharply, but a feeling of relief spread through him. But he didn’t show it.

Jiwon obeyed, a bit confused as Sunghoon approached the bed. Sunghoon stared down at him, breathing hard from anger. He reached over and held Jiwon’s jaw roughly… Jiwon felt scared, not knowing what to expect….. and then Sunghoon leaned over and kissed him long and hard.

He forced Jiwon’s mouth open, invading him, demanding him to respond…. Jiwon felt his body immediately ignite, a new sense of energy rushing throughout him…. They were already out of breath as Sunghoon broke off the kiss and took off his shirt and joined Jiwon in bed….

Sunghoon tugged at Jiwon’s shorts, revealing Jiwon’s errection to both of them…. Jiwon blushed, but Sunghoon didn’t notice and also took off the remainder of his clothes….

Sunghoon then positioned himself so that he was above Jiwon’s warm body….

Jiwon’s heart hammered in his chest as Sunghoon spread his legs apart. “This is how I do it…. Just so you know for future reference….” Sunghoon said breathlessly.

Sunghoon settled between Jiwon’s legs, holding himself stiff armed above him.

“Put your legs around me… and raise your hips just a little,” Sunghoon instructed.

Jiwon did as he was told, embracing Sunghoon’s waist, he tilted his hips and shut his eyes tightly…

“Look at me,” Sunghoon whispered.

“We need each other and no one else…..We belong together…..”

Jiwon opened his eyes and stared deeply into Sunghoon’s… They stared at one another with a deep intensity…Without saying it, the two could feel each other’s strong love for one another….

And then Jiwon felt a pressure, hard and insistent, where he had never been touched before….

Sunghoon pushed in a little, just a nudge, but Jiwon felt as if he’d been opened wide…

Sunghoon presssed in even more – and Jiwon felt Sunghoon’s length… it was incredibly thick and so he shifted his body to accommodate Sunghoon even more….

Inch by inch Sunghoon filled him, until his entire length was finally in. Jiwon could feel

Sunghoon’s body rigid and tense…. From time to time Sunghoon paused to let Jiwon’s snug passage accept him and gave him time to relax….

Then Sunghoon lowered himself to kiss Jiwon softly, as if a small warning for what was yet to come….

Sunghoon slowly withdrew himself and then sank back in with one smooth thrust and

Jiwon lifted his hips to meet him…. They did this again, and again as Sunghoon stroked him within, grinding his hips against Jiwon’s when they came together….

Jiwon’s legs tightened around Sunghoon’s waist and pulled him down, holding him close as they rocked together…. faster and faster…. They could hear other gasping for air together with their frantic thrusts, their bodies now slick with sweat….

Their pace quickened, the thrusts more urgent and then Sunghoon finally rammed his

body fiercely into Jiwon’s and it was all Jiwon could take…..Jiwon felt himself come, exploding all over Sunghoon’s stomach, the warm semen spilling over their naked bodies….

Jiwon panted from exhaustion, but Sunghoon was still throbbing and hard inside him….

Sunghoon grabbed Jiwon’s buttocks, digging his fingernails into them and squeezed

Jiwon’s cheeks together until he too finally came, shuddering frantically over Jiwon’s body…

Sunghoon breathed heavily as he laid down on top of Jiwon…. Their bodies were still united, but satisfied. Jiwon slowly put his arms around Sunghoon and held him close….

They stayed in this intimate embrace and fell asleep…. For now, they were content and as the sun broke out starting a new day, it seemed like a new beginning for them…..

– EPILOGUE –

He hated Sunghoon.

He hated him with such a passion. But his pain of rejection filled his heart up even more than the hate.

Jiyong sat in his car alone, and he felt his hot tears trickling down his face when he remembered how much he loved the feeling of their bodies together the other night…. but that would never happen again.

And he couldn’t bear to see *them* together anymore…..

He was feeling faint now.

Very light-headed.

He looked down at the blood running out from his wrists….. Jiyong then closed his eyes for the last time.

Sunghoon’s Lesson by: Jekki Girl

sunghoons lesson.JPG

  • a EunKang short story
  • completed

WARNING: contains mature content

In all honesty, I didn’t like him at first. His dark skin, piercing stare, and the even darker shadows around his eyes made me scared of him.

But he had this charisma…. this charm, that was extremely attractive and thus, he sucked me into his world. BUT! No matter what anyone tells you, HE’S the one that approached me, *wanting* to be with me. I guess he couldn’t resist my good looks and witty personality…. (-_-) And I suppose it’s because of our contrasting personalities that make us get along so well with each other. We complement each other…..

When people think of Jiwon, they think of a strong, silent, disciplined, hard-working leader. He treats everyone the same, no matter how high, great, low, or small you are.

Many people have this perception of him. And you know what? He IS like this with almost everyone.

But not me. He’s different with me.

~~~

“Sunghoon-ah….” he said one day.

We were studying in the library. School was very tough in Hawaii and Jiwon and I were a bit behind in our studies.

“Hmm?” I responded, not looking up from my work.

“I miss Korean food,” he said with a hint of a whine.

“Mmmmm…so do I,” I said, licking my lips at just the thought of a hot bowl of rice with fresh kimchi.

“You know how to cook, right?” he asked questioningly.

“Chi~ Of course!” I said matter-of-factly. “I’m excellent at cooking,” I bragged. Eh… so maybe I wasn’t *excellent*, just exaggerating a little bit, but *I* thought I was pretty good. -.-;;

“I want to taste….” Jiwon said.

“Hah! You haven’t tasted anything till you eat my bokum bap!! I also make a mean dish of duk bok kee,” I informed him.

“So you’ll make it for me?” he asked eagerly.

“Of course I will,” I said immediately, smiling.

“When?”

“I don’t know. Whenever,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“I want to eat it,” he said, now staring at me.

“What, NOW?” I asked incredulously.

He shook his head. “Then when?” I asked, slightly confused.

“Every day,” he said simply. I laughed.

“Then I’d have to like LIVE with you,” I replied.

Silence….

He just continued to stare at me.

I gulped.

“You want me to live with you?” I asked, my voice on the verge of squeaking.

“Uh huh.”

I didn’t really know what to say…..

“Give me some time to think about it,” I said finally.

He suddenly narrowed his eyes dangerously at me.

“What do you mean you need ‘to think about it’?” he asked in a hard tone.

My heart started to pound from his sudden mood change.

“Uh….uh….” I stuttered nervously.

His lips tightened into a straight line.

“I meant….” I said, starting to feel a little sweaty, “I meant… Sure! Sure I’ll move in with you, that is, if you want me to!” I said quickly, flashing him one of my best smiles. [Look happy Sunghoon, just look happy….]

His face immediately lit up, the corner of his lips turned upwards and I saw one of his rare grins.

“Good,” he said happily, now getting back to his work.

I let out a sigh of relief.

“This is going to be great! Us – me and you – living together,” I added in a very convincing tone.

He looked up and gave me a strange smirk.

~~~

Don’t get me wrong. It was great living with him. Jiwon knows ALOT of girls. He could hook me up anytime….. And he did. But when I started to date, that’s when things started to change between us.

~~~

He had set me up with an exotic girl, named Esca. She was great, really. She had this very mysterious aura to her, yet very enticing. After an entertaining night, I dropped her off at her house.

“I had a good time Hoony,” Esca said softly.

“Just ‘good’?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Mmmmm… depends how you end the date,” she replied with a twinkle in her eyes.

I took my cue and leaned over to kiss her. As soon as our lips met, I forced her mouth open with my tongue and started groping her.

“UMPH!” was her muffled reply as she shoved me away.

“What? What’s wrong?” I asked, trying to catch my breath.

She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and gave me a look of disgust.

“Is THAT how you end a date?!” she asked in an angry tone.

“Uh…. yeah,” I said, unsure of what to say.

“Well, you seriously need some lessons!” she snapped, got out of my car, slammed the door and stalked off.

I stared after her dumbfounded.

Me? Lessons??

***

When I got home, Jiwon was sitting on the floor playing video games by himself.

His arms were moving everywhere with the controller in his hands. Wherever his character went, his arms followed. He looked really stupid. Well, at the time, I was just pissed off and in a really bad mood.

“How was your date?” he asked while his eyes were glued to the screen.

“I don’t get it,” I grumbled.

“Get what?” he asked. The TV’s volume was turned up very loud.

“She said I needed lessons….” I mumbled.

“What? Lemons?” he asked, confused.

“WHAT? Lemons? What the hell are you talking about?” I asked rudely. “LESSONS!” I repeated clearly.

“Ohhhh…. lessons for what?” he asked, still seeming unconcerned.

“I don’t know! That’s the last thing she said to me!!!!” I practically yelled. Then I kicked the nearby chair with my foot. I was so frustrated by this time.. I was breathing hard.

He stopped playing and then looked over at me. Then he leaned over and shut off his game.

“Tell me what happened,” he ordered.

I went over and plopped on the couch.

“Our date had been going great… And then at the end when we were saying bye….. I

was kissing her for like TWO seconds, and then the next thing I know, she’s saying “you need some lessons!” and then she just left me sitting there like some fucking idiot!” I explained angrily.

Jiwon then immediately asked, “How’d you kiss her?” I blinked rapidly. “I kissed her like I kiss ANY girl!” I cried. “I think something’s wrong with HER,” I muttered. Jiwon sighed as he got up and walked over and sat down next to me on the couch.

“Okay… let’s see how you kiss,” he said.

I just stared at him. He just stared back, waiting expectantly.

“What, you want me to make out with my arm or something?” I asked sarcastically.

He raised his eyebrow.

“Who said anything about kissing your arm?”

I gave him a Look.

“You want my help or what?” he asked impatiently.

“Your help???” I thought about it. Jiwon really was good with girls….. “Well, then…. what do you want me to do?” I asked.

“You pretend I’m Esca, its Esca, right?” he asked. I nodded. “Do what you did to her — to me.”

My mouth dropped. What the….

“Eh!!! What??? No way!” I said, making a disgusted face. Me kiss a guy? I liked Jiwon, but not *that* way…..

“Sunghoon. She said you needed lessons, I’m the expert here, about to GIVE you lessons,” he said calmly.

I didn’t say anything, I just sat there. He waited for a few minutes.

Then he got up.

“Fine, keep on doing what you do…. Let’s see how many future dates you’ll screw up,” he simply said and started to walk off.

Fuck this…. There was no way I was going to go through another date like tonight.

“Jiwon… wait!” I called out. I got up and walked up to him.

As soon as we were face, I pulled his shirt towards me and our lips met roughly, my lips pressed against his, tightly. Then I repeated what I had done on my date, pushing my tongue into his, forcing him to kiss me back, and for the first time, I was making out with a guy…. And for some reason, it didn’t strike me as being so gross anymore…..

After a few seconds, he gently pulled back and as he did, I looked into his face and could see his eyes were a bit hazy for some reason, and we noticed we were both breathing a little harder than before…….

He smiled a knowing smile.

“Well? What’s wrong?” I asked urgently.

He then started to laugh.

“What is SO urgent?? You kiss like it’s going to be the end of the world soon,” he commented.

I frowned.

“You need to take things slower, girls don’t like it when you rush them,” he said wisely.

I rolled my eyes.

“Here, let me show you,” he said.

I took a step back. “Oh no… I ain’t kissing you again!” I said immediately. Even though kissing Jiwon hadn’t been a terrible experience, in fact, I had to admit, it even felt kind of good…. I didn’t want to start it up again…. did I?

He suddenly grabbed my wrist and yanked me forward, his other arm wrapped tightly around my waist as our faces became inches apart. We stared at one another for a second and then he lowered his head and kissed me softly.

I realized then how soft his lips were and the warmth of his breath on my lips hit some nerve in me that made my spine begin to tingle…. His lips expertly massaged mine, gently biting and sucking on my lower lip. I felt my knees beginning to grow weak and it felt so…. strange…. kissing a guy and feel myself being turned on….

He eventually parted my lips and his tongue entered my mouth and I tentatively touched him, our tongues meeting one another in this tender moment. He wrapped both of his arms around my waist now, pushing me closer to him and I was starting to feel dizzy from enjoying his kisses so much…..

And suddenly to my embarrassment, I felt myself have an errection and I pulled away from him.

I couldn’t even look at him, I just looked at the ground.

He chuckled. “It’s okay Hoony…. I understand….” he said. “I think you’ve learned enough today,” he said in a low voice.

I didn’t say anything as he turned and walked to his bedroom….

~~~~

“Hoony? Are you listening to what I’m saying?” she asked.

“What? Um, yeah – I am,” I said quickly. She gave me a strange look. I couldn’t blame her. Throughout the date, I hadn’t even been listening to her at all, my thoughts were elsewhere….

“Sorry Kara,” I said apologetically. “What were you saying again?” I asked.

“Oh….. I was just saying that I’m having such a good time with you, that’s all….” she blushed prettily.

I gave an embarrassed laugh.

“Really? That’s great,” I forced myself to say, trying to muster up some enthusiasm. But I just couldn’t get my mind off of…. things….

I felt really bad for not being the best company so I decided to just take her home. She

smiled a little disappointed to end the date so soon, but I promised myself I’d make it up to her later on.

I drove up to her house and as I parked my car and turned off the engine, I suddenly started to get nervous. I wanted to end this date right….

“Thanks for taking me out,” she said softly, smiling.

“Uh… You’re welcome,” was the only thing I could think of to say.

She giggled and started to open the door, but I suddenly reached out and grabbed her hand. She looked at me expectantly as I leaned over. I closed my eyes as our lips brushed against one another, and like I had been *taught* I kissed her slowly and gently. Kara responded eagerly as I nipped at her lower lip. She brought her hand up around my neck and pressed me closer, forcing our kiss to deepen.

Her tongue entered my mouth and I was taken by surprise — she was moving faster than I thought…. What was even more surprising was that I was NOT enjoying this….. not one bit.

“Kara…..Stop….” I mumbled as I slowly pulled away from her.

“Hmmm?” she asked with a dreamy expression…

“I….. I don’t think we should do this..” I said, looking down at my hands.

She snapped out of her daze, a look of confusion written on her face.

“YOU don’t think we should do this?” she asked incredulously. I could feel her being offended.

“I think you better go inside,” I said. Jeez, what was wrong with me? But I just couldn’t stop myself from saying this though…

She was speechless. Her mouth hanging slightly open in shock from my words.

Her lips tightened in anger and she quickly got out of the car and ran into her house.

What the hell was wrong with me??? I cursed at myself for treating her that way, but I just couldn’t help it…

I sped all the way home.

~~~~~

I went straight to my room just wanting to go to bed. The night had been a weird experience for me. It was the first time I hadn’t wanted to be with a girl when she was ready for me and I was confused why I had acted that way. I noticed as I got ready to sleep that the light to my adjoining bathroom with Jiwon’s room, was on and it sounded like he was showering.

Without even washing my face or brushing my teeth, I just stripped off my clothes, only in my tighty whities, and got into my bed, covering myself with my bedsheets.

Jiwon finished his shower a couple of minutes later and I could hear him drying himself off.

Then the door opened and he walked over to my dresser in only a towel wrapped tightly around his waist, opening my drawer where I kept all my clean underwear.

“JIWON!” I suddenly yelled in disbelief. He was going to wear my underwear!

He jumped, his towel starting to loosen, but before it could fall, he caught it just in time.

“Shiet Sunghoon! You scared the hell out of me!!” he shouted back.

“What are you doing?” I demanded.

“When did you get home?” he shot back, avoiding my question.

“I just got home,” I said, sitting up in my bed now.

“Oh…. how was your date?” he asked. “Don’t ask!” I responded as I pulled the sheets back over me.

He laughed. “That bad??” he asked.

“Not even……” I said.

“Then what?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said stubbornly.

“Sunghoon, I can’t even hear you under your sheets,” he complained. He then walked over and yanked the sheets off my head.

“Don’t bother me!” I said irritated, trying to grab the sheets again. I couldn’t look at him either.

“Hoony… Tell me what happened….” he said more gently.

I remained silent, staring at the ceiling.

He sat down on the bed next to me. We were both very quiet. My heart was starting to beat a bit faster…

Then he reached over and touched my face. His index finger tracing my cheekbone and then outlining my jawline. I closed my eyes, breathing deeply, trying to calm myself down. Just having him near me was making me more excited than my date had been that night…

“Tell me what happened….” he repeated softly.

“I…… I did what you told me to do….” I whispered, as his fingers brushed my lips, “but…..I didn’t want to….. even be with her….” I finally said in an inaudible tone.

But he heard everything I said.

His fingers brushed my lips again, tickling them lightly, and then something came over me….. I tentatively stuck my tongue out, catching his fingers, wetting them. I parted my lips and started to kiss his fingers. He kept his fingers still as my tongue ran along his index finger, and I lifted up my hand and placed it around his wrist, so I could control him more. I gently pushed his finger into my warm mouth and I sucked on his finger, bringing his finger in and out of my mouth in an irregular motion. I could hear his breathing starting to be a bit uneven and I knew he was enjoying it as much as I was….

I eventually stopped playing with his hands and I pulled his arm towards me thus moving his body so that his face was right above mine. He was still a bit damp from his shower and I could feel myself being turned on by remembering all he had on was a thin towel. He lowered his head and we kissed again like he had taught me the other night.

Except this night was much more exciting….

His tongue entered my mouth and I reveled in the way his tongue took control over mine, our kisses becoming a little bit more frantic as the seconds passed by…..

He shifted his body so that he was now totally on the bed and he moved his leg over my hips so that he was straddling me with still his towel around his waist. I felt my penis growing harder as he laid completely on top of me. We continued to taste one another as my hand ran down his backside and squeezed his left butt cheek. He suddenly thrust forward from my action, making the bed bounce up and down…. I chuckled lightly because I didn’t know he was so sensitive….

“I think it’s time for a new lesson,” he whispered in my ear as he broke off our kiss.

He rolled to his side and pulled the sheets that had been covering me and threw them off the bed. Now I was at his mercy in my underwear, nothing to cover me.

He stared at my penis which was starting to bulge out and I was so embarrassed! I quickly covered it with my hands.

“Don’t stare at me!” I said angrily.

He laughed. “I can’t help it….” he said. “You’re so cute…..but….. I think you’d be cuter

*without* it….” he said huskily his eyes glimmering mischievously.

He reached over and pulled at the elastic band of my underwear, trying to take it off.

“Quit it!” I cried, trying to hold on to my underwear and cover up my errection. It was impossible to do both….. He managed to pull off one side and the elastic band of my underwear brushed over my hardened penis, finally revealing it for his eyes to see. I stopped moving as he stared at it again. Irritated, I just yanked the rest of my underwear off, now completely butt naked.

Jiwon must have been pretty shocked that I had done that because he wouldn’t move for a second.

“Well? You better take that towel off!~” I said to him.

He finally grinned and shook his head.

“Not yet,” was his reply.

Before I could protest, he pounced on me, pinning me on the bed, crushing me with a demanding kiss and he took my breath away as our legs tangled with one another.

Being sneaky, I moved my hand to his hip and started to tug at his towel. He felt what I was doing right away and immediately began to pull back, but I locked my legs around his hips and rolled him over so that I was on top of him now. And as he lay on his back, his towel suddenly opened and he lay there opened and naked.

This time it was my turn to stare.

But he didn’t mind. Jiwon just started to chuckle as he watched me.

So now…. we were there on my bed.

He reached down and wrapped his hands over my penis and I started to feel myself throbbing under his touch. He squeezed me gently and I couldn’t help but cry out as he repeated this, squeezing and releasing pattern. I was breathing harder and harder, my knees wobbling. I couldn’t hold myself up anymore….

“Ji…..won….” I gasped out as he squeezed almost painfully for one last time before I suddenly ejaculated all over his stomach. My whole body shook in pleasure as I leaned forward, holding myself up with my arms.

He smiled in the darkness, watching me with his dark eyes…

“We’re not done yet….” he murmured in a low voice.

Our eyes met as he slid from underneath me and made me lie down. I gratefully laid down on my back, trying to recover from my orgasm. And I felt his hand creeping his way to my inner thigh and I immediately felt myself getting excited again…..

His fingers found their way to my opening and he suddenly thrust his finger inside me. I moaned as my whole body bucked forward from his intimate entrance and I tightened around his finger.

I could feel on my thigh his hard errection from just watching me in action. He moved his finger around inside of me, starting to stretch me. I gritted my teeth as he spread my legs farther apart, preparing me.

He got up and I lay in front of him, my legs spread out and he breathed heavily as he lifted my legs up off the bed to get easier access and neared my entrance. I swallowed hard as I felt his tip probing me and I suddenly hesitated. Was this what I wanted?

I tried to close my legs but it was too late. He forced himself into me and I screamed from the shock. I must have been really tight because he wasn’t able to enter me all the way. He pulled himself back out and I was left with a tearing pain that brought tears to my eyes. He didn’t notice though, he just continued re-positioned himself and this time, entered me slowly. I thought I was going to be ripped open and I gripped the bed mattress, clawing it frantically as he finally had his entire length inside me.

He panted hard over my chest and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was almost too much for me to handle…. He then noticed my face streaming with tears and how tense my body had become.

“I’m sorry….” he said softly.

And as much pain I was in, those words that came from his lips made me feel better…..

Eventually I got used to the feeling of him inside of me and I began to relax my body, my breathing becoming more steady. This whole time, he stayed in the same position, closing his eyes, not moving an inch.

I took a deep breath and shifted my body upwards ever so slightly. This time I heard him gasp in surprise and now, I just wanted to give us both pleasure. I moved my legs around his waist, bringing us even closer and he grunted in response. Sensing that we

were both ready, he started to grind his hips into mine, like he was hoola-hooping, and I stood still feeling him moving around me, his testicles bouncing against my buttocks. I cried out again, as he then started to plunge inside of me, in and out, our bodies slapping together, creating an odd, but rhythmic sound. He picked up his pace and we were going so fast, my mind was spinning in chaos as I felt him finally explode in me…..

I could feel his hot liquid all over inside me and out, and I squirmed with pleasure…..

I still hadn’t come yet, but it didn’t matter to him. As soon as he pulled out of me, he crawled onto the bed, sweaty and exhausted. He lay on his front, trying to catch his breath. I was fully hardened now and I had to release this unbearable pressure in me.

“Jiwon…….!” I said urgently.

“Unnnnng….” was his muffled response, his face buried into the pillows.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I got on top of him and spread his legs apart with my legs. I quickly spread his cheeks apart and thrust into him, hard and fast.

He suddenly arched on his back, getting on his knees, forcing me to be elevated. He had been taken by surprise by my sudden entrance.

I rode on top of him, pushing him forward and he pushed me backward, until he drove me to my climax, where I held onto his body for dear life as I shuddered in ecstasy……

When it was finally over, we slept, exhausted and sweaty next to one another. And I knew then that no one would ever fulfill me like he did……

~~~~

A lot of things happened after that. We had been at the club where Jiwon works and a man came up to Jiwon asking him questions about perhaps starting a career as a singer. Jiwon immediately had told him about me and we performed right then and there for this business man. And after that, the rest is *history*. After clearing it with our family, we moved back to Korea to start a music group. I was really glad to be back with my family, and more importantly I was still with Jiwon. He treated me so well, taking care of me, always watching out for me. And we were inseparable……. I learned a lot from him.

I remember though, when I was meeting up with one of my really close friends. Jiwon said he wanted to come with me, and I shrugged my shoulders and invited him along.

But I also remember that when he met my friend, he had a strange look in his eyes.

“Jiwon, this is Jiyong….” I said.

Jiyong bowed respectfully. He was tall and very good-looking. What made him even more attractive was that he was extremely smart and I told Jiwon so.

And at the moment, the two just stared at one another.

And I remember watching them, wondering what they were thinking……

Oh well. I think I’ll give Jiwon a call…. perhaps another lesson?

Untitled by: Jekki Angel

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  • a EunKang short story
  • completed

*Thud*

“Hyung!!” Sunghoon whispered to the older boy sleeping soundly beside him.

“Hyung! There’s something down stairs!!”

“Go back to sleep…it’s your imagination…there’s nothing down stairs….”

Jiwon murmured in his sleep.

“Hyung~! I wasn’t imagining! There IS something down stairs!” Sunghoon whined softly. Wonnie never believes him.

“Honnie…there is nothing…”

*crash*

Jiwon’s eyes shot open. “Sunghoon!” He gave Sunghoon a nudge. “There is something down stairs!” He whispered back, fully alerted.

“I told you…” Sunghoon smiled victoriously.

*Bang*

Another noise came from down stairs. The two boys laid on their bed staring into the ceiling with wide opened eyes and their ears straight up.

“Hyung, what do you think it is?” Sunghoon asked tilting his face slightly towards Jiwon.

“I don’t know…but let’s go find out!” Jiwon was about to climb out of the bed when he felt a small hand grabbing onto his.

“Wonnie don’t go!!” Sunghoon held on Jiwon’s let in fear. “I don’t want to go down stairs!”

“Just stay behind me. Come on.” Jiwon gave Sunghoon’s hand a little squeeze.

Sunghoon grumbled but got up anyways.

Silently, they tip toed put of the bedroom door. Jiwon grabbed two baseball bats and handed one to Sunghoon.

They moved slowly down the stairs, taking extreme caution with each step, making sure not to make any noise.

As they approached the kitchen, fidgiting noises could be heard from of it.

Being so close, Jiwon felt Sunghoon’s slight shudder. He reached back and held onto his hand. Sunghoon held onto it tight and thanked Jiwon with a soft peck on his eardrop.

They slid along side of the wall, dissolving into the shadows of the night.

When they finally reached the entrance of the kitchen, Jiwon suddenly saw a shadow moving on their right and he froze.

Sunghoon who was concentrating smelling on the light cologne Jiwon had left on his neck to notice the shadow, bumping straight into Jiwon.

“ooouuuu!” The two boys growled loudly in pain.

“shhhhhh!!!” Jiwon quickly placed his index finger on his lips while rubbing his painful foot with the other. With a twisted painful face, Sunghoon nodded his head and mouthed ‘sorry’.

They turned around from their little conversation and flicked on the light switch.

In front of them, two white petrified cats stood beside the window, looking at jyunghoon in alert.

Four pairs of big eyes stared at each other not daring to make one move.

Time slipped away.

Suddenly….

“Awwwww….” Sunghoon bent down and picked up a fluffy white kitten beside his feet.

The poofy white fur ball gave a little meow and place it’s tiny paw on Sunghoon’s nose. Sunghoon giggled with joy.

Holding the kitten between his hands, he awed his way to the fridge and took out some milk.

The two adult cats took this chance and hopped out of the window.

With his back to Jiwon, Sunghoon stared lovingly at the little kit ten licking away the milk on the plate. “Aww….Can we keep him hyung?” He found this little thing to be extremely cute.

Rather, Jiwon found Sunghoon in his light blue boxers to be extremely cute.

And sexy. “No…I’m only having one pet in this house.” He said fondly.

He walked up to Sunghoon, not taking his eyes off those soft, round, delicious buttocks and silky smooth back. With his finger, he trailed down Sunghoon’s spine, scratching his skin lightly with his nails as he went along.

Sunghoon’s body tensed immediately due to the tingling touch. He turned around with a tiny pout on his face.

“Hyung~! Babo! Who’s your pet?” He whine and clutched his arms around Jiwon’s neck. “ Aww please Wonnie? Can we keep him please~?”

“Mmm…” Jiwon looked at Sunghoon’s pouty red lips. “I’ll have to think about it…” He bent down and lightly licked Sunghoon’s lower lips. “I’ll think about it…” He smiled teasingly, speaking in his husky voice and continued to taste Sunghoon’s delicious red lips.

Sunghoon let Jiwon work on his lower lip, trying not to enjoy too much of it.

He could see the cute little thing from the corner of his eyes. “Aw but hyung, every time you say you’ll think about it, you never…Mmph…”

He’s words were blocked by the thirsty Jiwon. He could feel Jiwon sucked on his lips softly, licking along the seam of his lips, trying to part them. But Sunghoon was still pouting because Jiwon won’t allow him to keep the little kitty. He closed the seam tight, not allowing him in.

Jiwon knew this was going to happen. His baby is angry. He broke off the tempting kiss and stared into Sunghoon’s big brown eyes. He’s decision softened by Sunghoon’s pleading puppy eyes. “Hoonie ah…we can’t keep him…”

Sunghoon smiled inwardly. He didn’t invent this look for nothing. He knew Jiwon was softening up, he know he’ll get the kitten in the end. Now all he have to do, is work on the details.

“Wonnie~” He leaned closer to Jiwon, gently rubbing his half naked body with Jiwon, rubbing against his boxers. Jiwon moaned in pleasure. Within a few seconds, he felt Jiwon’s erection. Sunghoon took a look at Jiwon’s closed eyelids and half gapped lips and smiled. He’s hands slid along Jiwon’s smooth skin and stopped at the edge of his boxers. “Can we please keep him?”

Jiwon growled. “We can’t Hhoonie…” He moved his hands, meeting with Sunghoon’s hands and tried to push them down further. But Sunghoon kept his hand firmly at that position, pressing into Jiwon’s lower stomach.

Without a word, Sunghoon broke off the touch and walked back to fiddle the kitten. Jiwon stood in the middle of the kitchen very uncomfortably with his erection. “Honnie ah~ Come back~” He called out. Sunghoon just kept on playing with the kitten.

Thoroughly turned on and frustrated, Jiwon limped his way towards Sunghoon. “Hoonie ah…” He embraced Sunghoon from the back and lightly bit his neck. “Come on…”

“No.” Sunghoon said short and firm, and stood stiff.

“Hoonie~!” It was Jiwon’s turn to whine. “Please?”

“no.”

“Aww…don’t do this to your hyung~!” Jiwon looked at Sunghoon’s determined profile and sighed. “Alright, fine, we’ll keep the cat…”

He turned around and was about to limp out of the kitchen when he felt Sunghoon’s soft hands coming around his waist and a gentle kiss landing on his bare shoulder.

“You are the best hyung there is! ” Sunghoon giggled. “Come on, let’s go back to the bedroom where it’s more comfortable.” He held on to Jiwon’s hand and gave him a sexy, inviting glare.

Jiwon following Sunghoon’s lead smiled devilishly inside.

“I’ll get you back Kang Sunghoon….”

The Birthday Present by: jiwonz1004

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  • a EunKang short story
  • completed

WARNING: contains mature content

It was another dark and lonely day for Eun Jiwon. The sky seemed ready to open up and soak him with the thunderous storm. He was in another one of his bad moods. He had seen a boy being beat up by a group of other boys.

He hated seeing people fight, especially if it wasn’t him that was fighting.

He was walking down the sidewalk towards Sunghoon’s house. Sunghoon had called and told him to come over as soon as possible, that he had something to give him. He reached his door and placed his finger on the doorbell, but before he could push it, the door opened in front of him. ‘What the fu*k?’ he thought to himself. He walked in quietly and saw a letter down by his feet. He picked it up.

Dearest Wonnie, Happy Birthday! I hope you will like my surprise for you~ Please come upstairs to my room as soon as you read this. Love Hoonie

Jiwon carefully walked up the stairs and saw that there were candles lined up from the top of the stairs to the open doorway of Sunghoon’s bedroom. He could not imagine what Sunghoon was doing in there with the lights all turned off…all by himself. He walked towards the door, and peeked inside.

The shades were all drawn, and there was a light scent of Sunghoon’s cologne that drifted through the open doorway.

He stepped inside, and the door slowly closed behind him. Jiwon quickly turned around but found no one there. When he faced in front of him again, Sunghoon was there, looking at him sweetly.

“Happy birthday hyung,” he said softly. “I missed you…” Sunghoon stepped up to Jiwon and brushed the hair away from his face. He brushed his fingertips across his lips slightly. Jiwon tingled from the light touch.

“I missed you too…” he replied huskily. In actuality, he had seen him just yesterday at school, but that didn’t matter.

The truth was, they had missed each other. Sunghoon held onto Jiwon’s hand tightly and led him over to his bed. He turned so that Jiwon’s back was facing towards the bed. He looked at his hyung’s face who seemed to be a little nervous. How could he resist a face like that? He placed his lips on Jiwon’s and put his hands around his waist. Jiwon slowly raised his hands to Sunghoon’s shoulders and lightly touched the back of his head.

That was all the encouragement that Sunghoon needed. He lightly nipped at Jiwon’s lip and at the first chance, stuck his tongue inside his mouth. Jiwon responded very slowly. At first, he was thinking about how wrong it was to be doing what they were doing. But he couldn’t resist his feelings anymore than Sunghoon could at the moment. Sunghoon carefully started to unbutton Jiwon’s white shirt. He quickly threw that on the floor, and then took his own shirt off. He knew that Jiwon wouldn’t do it. After unbuckling his own belt and shedding from all of his own clothes…boxers and all, he carefully put his arms around Jiwon’s waist.

The next thing Jiwon knew, he was stripped from his pants and boxers as well. Sunghoon lightly pushed him onto his bed while still exploring his mouth with his tongue. Jiwon was tasting him for the first time, and he was enjoying the new feeling. He could never have imagined the inside of Sunghoon’s mouth to be so sweet and soft. Sunghoon broke the kiss when he was laying on top of Jiwon’s naked body. He looked at Jiwon who was sweating lightly already and smiled. Jiwon smiled back…not knowing what was coming next.

Sunghoon lightly kissed his chest. He traced his nipples with his tongue and went lower and lower until he reached his penis. He lightly licked the tip of it, and chuckled at his erection. He nipped it softly with his teeth, and Jiwon could feel himself starting to blush fiercely.

Sunghoon then moved back to his lips and kissed him again. While distracting him with his kisses, Sunghoon spread Jiwon’s thighs farther apart with his own legs. He placed himself between the two soft pieces of flesh. He moved his hands lower and placed them on Jiwon’s buttocks. He cupped the mounds of flesh and lifted Jiwon’s backside a little off the bed. He spread the cheeks apart slowly while breaking the kiss that they had been sharing.

Jiwon stared at him intently, wondering what was to happen next. Sunghoon gave a reassuring smile and pushed his penis into the opening slowly.

Jiwon’s eyes became wide as he felt the skin around that area starting to stretch slowly. He raised his legs instinctively and placed them around Sunghoon’s waist. He could feel his skin starting to tear and, wanting to get through the pain as quickly as possibly, pushed himself upwards to meet Sunghoon’s treasure halfway there. Jiwon moaned slightly as Sunghoon’s penis could now move easily due to the blood flowing from the opening.

Sunghoon looked at him, asking him with his eyes if he was okay. Jiwon nodded slowly, even though he could hardly breathe. He began gasping for air as Sunghoon started to pull himself in and out of Jiwon’s body. After a while, Jiwon felt Sunghoon explode inside him. He let out a cry as Sunghoon withdrew himself from Jiwon. Jiwon felt numb all throughout his body…but he could not even describe how new and good the feeling was. Sunghoon squeezed his hand and whispered into his ear, “Your turn.”

Jiwon looked at him like he was crazy but then quickly regained his composure. He nodded and rolled over slowly. He looked at Sunghoon who was now lying back down on the bed. Jiwon, despite the pain between his legs, straddled Sunghoon’s body. He wasn’t very sure of himself…but he did what he thought was right. Sunghoon’s penis was limp from the exertion of the exercise before, but Jiwon gave it a light squeeze with his hand. He leaned forward a little and licked Sunghoon’s chest lightly. He followed Sunghoon’s example and moved downward with his tongue. He explored the rest of Sunghoon’s chest and then licked the tip of Sunghoon’s penis. It tasted salty. Jiwon didn’t know if that was the way it was supposed to be, but now was not the time to wonder about things like that. He bit the tip of the penis, but looked up quickly when Sunghoon jerked a little. His eyes were opened wide as Sunghoon reassured him that it was okay, and that he was doing a good job. Jiwon just looked back down and then pushed Sunghoon’s thighs outward with his knees. He was shaking as Sunghoon highered himself a little off of the bed.

Sunghoon had wrapped his arms around Jiwon’s shoulders and his legs around Jiwon’s waist. Jiwon shakily let himself enter Sunghoon’s body.

Sunghoon didn’t even flinch as Jiwon could feel the skin around his penis expanding and then ripping. Jiwon could feel the blood covering his penis as he moved in and out of the hole. Jiwon took a look at Sunghoon’s face while he was doing this…Sunghoon’s face showed a look of pure peacefulness, and he wondered how he could handle the pain so well. Jiwon was still sore around the lower area, but he wanted Sunghoon to be happy with him. Even though he was older than Sunghoon by a year, Sunghoon seemed to know what and when he wanted something while Jiwon was always unsure of himself. Sunghoon smiled at Jiwon and then cried out a little when he pulled himself out. Sunghoon smiled widely and unwrapped his legs from around Jiwon’s body. Sunghoon pushed Jiwon lightly so that he was again laying on the bed. He placed his body on top of his, and let their penises meet each other. Jiwon was still shaking ever so slightly as his whole body once again went numb. He could not even feel what Sunghoon was doing to him anymore.

After a while, Sunghoon too, got tired of playing around and laid down next to him. He placed his arm around Jiwon and whispered in his ear. “You were great hyung. Surprise…”

The next day, Jiwon woke up to find Sunghoon still sleeping soundly. He needed time to think. He quietly got up from Sunghoon’s bed and limped towards his clothes. He winced while dressing himself, and then walked slowly to the door.

He let himself out of the house and then headed for the park. He sat down slowly, painfully on a bench and let himself think back to what had happened the night before. He was still confused about right and wrong, but then he remembered Sunghoon’s beautiful face looking down at him and smiling sweetly. He decided that he would give

Sunghoon a call and ask him to come over to his house once in a while. After all, that was a one of a kind birthday present.