Chapter 17

I Is For Irony

A jazz band played quietly in the background.  Jaejoong angrily stalked to the relaxed figure at the bar, breaking the calm atmosphere.  He grabbed a fistful of the man’s collar.

 

“What’d you say to her,” he demanded, his hold tightening.

 

Yoochun sipped his wine, ignoring his friend’s presence.  “Please Jaejoong.  This is a public area.  Even if you don’t care about your image, what about the rest of the band?”

 

 

Jaejoong reluctantly released Yoochun from his grasp.  He climbed up onto the bar stool beside him.  “You’re the one who stole my girlfriend.  Isn’t that image-breaking too?” he growled.

 

Yoochun sighed wistfully.  “If only the things you said were true.”

 

“What’d you tell her,” he demanded.  “What lies have you been telling Tae Hee?”  He just didn’t understand.  He was her boyfriend; she should’ve trusted him, instead of his friend.

 

 

“Nothing but the truth.”

 

“WHAT DID YOU TELL HER.”

 

“Hey, hey, hey.  No need to raise our voices now.”

 

 

Jaejoong was silent for a moment.  The time had come at last.

 

“You…” he faltered.  His anger had dissipated; he couldn’t stay angry at a friend, no matter what he had done.  “You confessed to her, didn’t you.”  It wasn’t a question; it was a statement.  He had known all along but still hadn’t expected Yoochun to confess.  A dire mistake on his part.

 

 

Yoochun lowered his wine glass.

 

“How long have you known?”

 

 

“It’s not hard, you know.  The looks you give her, how you’re always helping her out…Siding with her, rather than me…”

 

 

“And why didn’t you stop this?  Confront me before I fell too deep?” Yoochun asked, slightly amused.

 

“Because you were my friend.  I knew you wouldn’t do anything like that.”

 

 

“Well too bad.  God, hyung, you had 6 years with her.  And only when competition arises, do you do something.  Is she not special enough for you?  Because to me, she’s everything.”

 

 

“She’s always…”

 

 

“Do you not care about how she feels?  When Sung Hee was here, you didn’t even bother to set her straight.  And now Lina?  Tae Hee’s had enough love triangles to last her a lifetime.”

 

 

Jaejoong was silent for the longest time.  How could Yoochun speak to him like this, like he knew so much about Tae Hee?  HE was her boyfriend, not Yoochun.  And yet, all of his words seemed to hit the right spot.  All of his words were true.  Was this not love?  How could he “love” someone without considering everything in her best interest?

 

Yoochun placed his hand on Jaejoong’s shoulder.  “Hey, I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have broken up your relationship with her like this.  But now, it’s fair game between us two.”

 

Six years (with a four year break).  What was her favorite color?  Her lucky number?  Was she allergic to anything?  He knew as much about her as she did him.  Unlike other relationships, time just hadn’t helped them understand each other better.

 

It had never occurred to him that he didn’t know much about her.

 

 

 

“What if…”  Jaejoong hesitated.  “What if I don’t want to fight for her anymore?”

 

It took Yoochun a while to digest Jaejoong’s words.  But it finally hit him.

 

 

And he ran out the door.

 

He was chasing after his love.

 

*****

 

Tae Hee knew he probably wasn’t going to come back.  After all, what idiot would go out in the middle of the night to comfort his friend’s girlfriend?  But she had to try.  There was nowhere else she could go to take her mind off of her relationship.

 

And so she sat beneath the tree.  Waiting.  Hoping.

 

And then she heard them.  The rain had already stopped, so the “pitter patter” could only have been…

 

“Tae Hee…” he panted, trying to catch his breath.  “Sorry I’m late.”

 

It seemed like whatever happened to her, she could always come back to the school garden and feel happy again.  Because she knew Yoochun would always be there eventually, through thick and thin, waiting for her.

 

“Yoochun,” she whispered breathlessly.  She stood up and slowly wrapped him in her arms.  “God, why is it that you’re always saving me from the depths of despair?”

 

“Maybe I’m supposed to be your prince in shining armor,” he smiled.

 

 

 

Like in any cliché situation, hearing those words, Tae Hee was supposed to feel warm and fuzzy.  Someone loved her that much.  But somehow, she didn’t.  Instead she felt guilty.  Why couldn’t she fall in love with such a great guy?

 

 

“Do you think…” he stammered nervously.  “Tae Hee, do you think, we could give it a shot?  Together?”

 

She froze; was he asking her out?  She wanted to say no.  But on a second thought, he had done so much for her.  He deserved the happiness.  And who knew?  Maybe with time, she’d recognize her love for him.

 

“I think I’d like that.”

 

*****

 

Jaejoong stood beside his car, staring up at the brightly lit hotel building.  He wondered if he should visit her.  It was almost midnight; he knew it would be an awkward time.  But he needed cheering up.  He was sick of being depressed over Tae Hee.  He was tired of worrying over his friendship with Yoochun.  He wanted to be happy.  And the best way was to find Lina.

 

He punched a few numbers into his phone and held it to his ear.

 

“Helloooooo?” a drowsy Lina replied.

 

“You know, most normal people suffer from jet lag their first few days or weeks in a new country.  But you seem to be faring off pretty well,” he laughed.

 

“Ah?  Jaejoong!  Why’re you calling so late?  What’s the matter?”  Upon hearing his voice, she had immediately awoken.

 

 

“No.  It’s just that I wanted to talk to you,” he said.

 

“Oh, you sure nothing’s wrong?”

 

 

“I’m glad I met you, Lina.”

 

She froze, not daring to reply.

 

 

 

Jaejoong sighed.  “Anyhow, I’m not going to bother you anymore.  You need your sleep.”

 

“Hey, wait!” Lina commented quickly.  His tone was unsettling, and she was getting worried.  “Where are you?  Do you want to meet right now?”

 

 

He smiled.  She knew exactly what he was thinking.  “I’ll wait for you outside the hotel.”

 

 

 

Seven minutes later, Lina came running out of the building, ready to go.  Jaejoong was impressed.  It would’ve taken Tae Hee at least half an hour to get ready.  But Lina was different.

 

 

“Are you okay?  You didn’t sound like usual over the phone…” Lina asked nervously.

 

“I’m good now, seeing you.”  He walked over and opened the passenger door, motioning for her to enter.  “C’mon.  I’ll bring you somewhere special.”

 

 

 

Even in the dark, he could see Lina’s glowing smile.

 

She looked at the scene below her.  Seoul at night.  Breathtaking.

 

“ARE YOU FEELING BETTER, KIM JAEJOONG?” she shouted into the darkness.

 

 

He nodded.  “Thanks Lina.”

 

 

He nudged her awake as the sun peeped over the horizon.

 

“Morning, Jae---“ she sneezed.

 

Jaejoong quickly shrugged off his coat and wrapped it around her.  “Here, don’t get sick now…”

 

She didn’t know how respond to his gesture, so she changed the topic.  “It’s pretty, isn’t it?”

 

 

They sat in silence watching the sun set the sky ablaze.

 

 

Jaejoong slowly rested his head on her shoulder.  Lina flinched in surprise.  “No, don’t move,” he murmured.  “It’s comfortable.”  It had been so long since he last had a simple date---if this could be considered a date.  And Lina was perfect.  The way she smiled.  The way she courageously played with kids.  Even the way she couldn’t cook.  Everything was perfect.

 

 

Suddenly Tae Hee didn’t seem so important anymore.

 

Perhaps he was falling in love again.

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