Chapter 16

I Is For Irony

It had never felt so good to run away before.  Roaming the brightly lit streets of Seoul… (She obviously wouldn’t dare stray down those dark alleys.)  Eating whatever street food she pleased.  Just soaking up the atmosphere.

 

 

It seemed as if she could still survive without Kim Jaejoong.  She was faring off pretty well already.

 

 

 

But somehow, just somehow, she ended up next to that tree, in front of her school….like always.  It seemed that whenever she was troubled, she could come here…to seek refuge---and perhaps to meet someone.

 

 

But she wasn’t troubled.  She just needed to clear her mind, she told herself.

 

 

Pitter patter.  Pitter patter.

 

Footsteps?

 

Tae Hee looked around.  Nobody was in sight.

 

 

Raindrops pounded onto the ground, and eventually onto her body.  OH GREAT.  She looked at her attire: tanktop and skirt.  What a great outfit for the rain.  She knew it was high time to seek refuge from Nature’s tears, but she didn’t move.  Rain was always a good way to clear your mind.

 

 

Pitter patter.  Pitter patter.

 

She could hear the rain.  She could see the rain.

 

But she could no longer feel the rain.

 

 

Tae Hee looked up.  A pearl red umbrella with the words DONG BANG SHIN KI on them.  How much more flamboyant could you get?

 

“Yoochun…”  It was him, like always.

 

“Geez Tae Hee.  If it wasn’t for me, you’d be sick by now.”  He shrugged off his jacket and placed it around her shoulders.  “Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean it won’t rain and get you sick.  What’re you doing alone at this time anyway?”

 

 

“Thinking…” she responded.

 

“About what?”  Yoochun sat down beside her.  “Jaejoong?”

 

“Maybe.  I’m thinking I’m a really clingy girlfriend.  I gave him permission to visit an old friend when he had the right to go whenever he pleased.”

 

Yoochun looked confused.  What friend?  Almost all of Jaejoong’s friends were his; and if they weren’t, he still knew of them.  “Oh…”

 

“I didn’t mean to.  It’s just that, if I don’t have Jaejoong, I don’t know what I’m going to do…”

 

“You know, Tae Hee..” Yoochun tried to interrupt.

 

 

“I mean, he’s like the only guy I’ve dated.  And the thing is, I don’t even know if this is love anymore.  If I’ve only dated one guy, how can I be sure what I’m feeling is love?”

 

“When your heart starts fluttering every time you’re near her, when you feel sad when she’s sad, happy when she’s happy…” he answered.  “When you…”

 

 

Tae Hee turned to him with a smile.  “So you are in love.  Who is it?”

 

 

Yoochun took a deep breath.  She was asking for it.  “No old friend is visiting Jaejoong.  If you want my honest opinion, I think it’s a girl.”

 

Her smile faltered.  “Wait, what?  I don’t…”

 

 

“I like you, Tae Hee.  It’s been almost six years.  And the feeling has never changed.  I like you.  And I don’t want to see you hurt.  You can go ask him.  There is no old friend; if there was, I would know.”  He didn’t let her interrupt.  Who knew what would happen if she did.

 

 

So he finally did it.  After bottling up his feelings for all too long, he confessed.  And judging upon her face, she didn’t know how to handle it.

 

 

He might as well go and let her muse over it.  “You don’t have to return the feelings…or anything.  But seriously.  Go ask Jaejoong who his friend is.  I just don’t want you to get hurt…”  He started backing away.  “Here, take the umbrella.”

 

 

And he ran off into the wet darkness.

 

Her lips curled in amusement.  She should have seen this coming.  Everything he had done for her…

 

“I’m sorry Yoochun oppa…”

*****

 

Jaejoong flicked on the light switch and threw the keys onto the coffee table.  He seemed a bit confused; he had almost expected Tae Hee to hug him and ask how the meeting with his friend went.

 

 

“Tae Hee?”  He peered through all the rooms---but to no avail.  She wasn’t there.  Where could she have gone at this time of night?  And more importantly, why was she gone?

 

 

The door cracked open as he heard keys jingle.

 

“TAE HEE!”  He pulled her into an embrace---even before she could step into the apartment.  “I was so worried about you.”

 

 

‘Is this how you treat her too?’ she wanted to ask.  But she remained silent.

 

“And why are you wet?” he paused as he saw the jacket.  “…and why do you have Yoochun’s jacket?”

 

 

“I…uh…”  Excuses, she needed excuses.  She took it off and threw it onto the sofa.

 

“Where’d you go?”

 

“Nowhere?”

 

“Are you okay?”

 

Her heart was pounding heavily.  If they continued their conversation like this, there was no telling if she could keep it in any longer.  She couldn’t afford to lose him like this.  He was her hope.  Without him, she didn’t know what would happen.  “WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME SO MUCH STUFF?”  She tried brushing past him.

 

 “Why are you yelling, Tae Hee?”

 

“WHY ARE YOU CHEATING ON ME, JAEJOONG?”

 

 

She had hit a soft spot, and now she knew it for sure.

 

 

He touched her arm.  “What are you talking about, Tae Hee?”

 

“YOU KNOW VERY WELL WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.”

 

“No, I don’t.”  He breathed deeply.  It was hard keeping his cool when his girlfriend was screaming like this.

 

“IT’S LINA, ISN’T IT?  WHY IS IT HER?  IS SHE THAT MUCH BETTER THAN ME?  I’M PRETTIER THAN HER, I’M SMARTER THAN HER.  I MET YOU FIRST!”

 

“TAE HEE!” he tried stopping her.

 

“WHY DO YOU LIKE HER?  AREN’T I ENOUGH?  AS IF LYING WASN’T ENOUGH, I ONLY FOUND OUT BECAUSE YOOCHUN WAS NICE ENOUGH TO TELL ME!”

 

 

 

He didn’t mean to.  But his anger had peaked.  His hand went out and slapped her.  It was the only way he knew how to stop her.

 

 

“SHE’S DIFFERENT FROM YOU; YOU TWO CAN’T BE COMPARED.”

 

 

Tae Hee stared at him bitterly.  “So you admit it.”

 

“I’m not admitting anything.”

 

“Well you should.”

 

 

“I’m not cheating on you, Tae Hee.  Why are you so insecure?”

 

“ME?  INSECURE?”  How dare he call her names!  “YOU’RE THE ONE THAT WAS SULKING FOR THOSE FOUR YEARS.  BUT I WASN’T. I CAN DO BETTER WITHOUT YOU.”

 

 

“Try,” he challenged.  This was their first argument, and it seemed like nobody was willing to back down.

 

 

Tae Hee looked at him with disgust, her hand on the door knob.  “Yoochun was right.”

 

 

The door slammed close with a bang.

 

 

 

He stood in silence, glaring at the door.

 

Jaejoong looked from the door to the jacket on the sofa.  “Yoochun,” he growled.

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