Chapter 19

I Is For Irony

Tae Hee stared up at the apartment building.  It looked so foreign…so different from her memories.  She hadn’t come home for far too long.

 

“Who the heck parked their car in MY parking spot?” someone cursed from behind her.

 

She turned to see who it was.  “Jiwoon?”

 

He dropped the groceries he was holding onto the floor.  “Noo-noona?”  He ran up and hugged her.  “It’s been so long since you came back!  I thought you didn’t love me anymore!”

 

 

“Ah Jiwoon, how could I not miss you?”  She smiled tiredly.

 

“Are you going to come in?” he asked, gesturing towards the entrance.

 

 

Tae Hee started to shake her head.  “Not today…”

 

 

“Umma’s been missing you.”

 

 

She hesitated.  “Jiwoon…I don’t know…”

 

 

“C’mon noona!”  He grabbed her arm and dragged her toward the house.

 

 

 

 

“Tae Hee!”  Her mother embraced her tightly.  “Why didn’t you come visit more often?”

 

 

Silence.  She sighed; the answer was obvious.  Because of Song Ji Hwan.

 

 

“Anyhow,” her mom continued, “I haven’t talked to you in so long.  And I haven’t cooked for you in so long!  You came at just the right time.  Let’s have dinner together!”

 

 

“I don’t…think…” Tae Hee started to refuse. 

 

 

“Oh come on!  Umma made your favorite galbi!” Jiwoon begged, dragging her to the dining table.

 

 

 

“Go get Ji Hwan, Ji Woon,” Mrs. Kim said, stealing a glance at Tae Hee.

 

“Ah, it’s no need.  I’m already here.”

 

 

Tae Hee placed her chopsticks loudly on top of her bowl.  “I don’t feel like eating.”  He was still here; that was enough to lose her appetite.  She stood up to leave.

 

 

“Do you hate me that much?” he asked.

 

Silence.

 

 

“I know I was horrible to you and your mom in the past… but I’ve changed.  I’ll do anything for you, if only you’ll forgive me.”

 

 

“Can you get rid of her?”  She shook her head before he could answer.  “I knew it.  You can’t.  Because she’s gotten everyone under her spell.  Why can’t he see that she’s just acting?  DAMN IT.”  Tears started rolling down her cheeks.  “She doesn’t even realize what she’s done.

 

 

“He was my only hope.  And now he’s gone.  We’ve known each other for 6 years already.  In that time, I could’ve found others, but no.  I loved him, umma...  I still love him.”

 

 

“Oh Tae Hee… there will be better men out there.  Much better than Jaejoong,” Mrs. Kim assured her, bringing her daughter into her arms.

 

 

“I know.  I know, umma.  I know there are better ones.  But I still can’t…  If only Lina had never appeared…”

 

 

Ji Hwan looked up.  Lina.  So that was her name.

 

*****

 

Tae Hee dropped her keys on the coffee table before she was pummeled by Seung Yeon.

 

“Young lady!  Where have you been?  Do you realize it’s past midnight?”

 

 

“I went to my mom’s…”

 

Yoochun stood up from his seat on the sofa.  “Tae Hee!  Are you alright?”

 

She nodded carefully.  She hadn’t thought Yoochun would be here.  “Sorry for running out like that…” she mumbled.

 

Yoochun shook his head.  “No, I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have accepted the dinner invitation without your consent.  I didn’t realize it’d make you so unhappy…  I just thought…” he paused, his voice dropping to a nearly inaudible volume, “I just thought you might’ve gotten over him…because we’re together now…”

 

“Yoochun…” Tae Hee placed her hand on his arm.  “I’m---“

 

“YUCK.  I’m getting out of here before things get too lovey dovey---not saying that it wasn’t already,” Seung Yeon announced, leaving the room.

 

He wrapped her in his arms.  “Tae Hee, I just want you to know you don’t have to bottle everything up to yourself.  That’s what I’m here for.”

 

Tae Hee closed her eyes.  She was supposed to be happy.  Yoochun was a nice guy.  And he loved her.  But it still didn’t feel right.  She had tried, hadn’t she?  But…Kim Jaejoong was still too significant in her heart.

 

 

 

“I think you need to set yourself straight,” Seung Yeon decided after listening to Tae Hee’s concerns.

 

“But how do I turn Yoochun down?  How do I turn down six years of pent up feelings?”

 

“It’s better now than later,” Younha replied, shoving a scoop of ice cream into .  “Just…tell him.  I would rather you be a loser and break it to him over the phone or something, then keep him hoping like you are now.”

 

 

She sighed.  “Alright.”  But she knew she didn’t want to.  Knowing someone was still waiting for her was such a comforting thought… and to personally push him away?

 

 

Tae Hee’s phone rang.  She looked at the caller ID and almost dropped the phone.

 

“Yoochun”

 

 

She walked out of the room quickly, running away from Seung Yeon’s sight.

 

*****

 

“We need to do something about Tae Hee,” Younha complained.  “She’s pissing me off.  And the cakes I’m eating right now aren’t helping.”

 

“I know what you mean, but she’s Tae Hee.  You know how she is.  When she’s devoted to something, she’ll stick to it forever.  And what’s more, Jaejoong is her first love,” Seung Yeon mused unhappily.

 

“…Maybe we should meet this Lina and see how things will turn out…” Younha muttered.  “As much as I hate to say it, she IS the third wheel.”

 

“Well what’re we supposed to do?  Meet up with her, and if she refuses, run her over with a car?”

 

“Changmin said she wasn’t all that bad.  Let’s not be so evil right now,” Younha replied.

 

*****

 

The salty ocean breeze whipped at their faces.  Birds soared over the sea as the sun crept its way up to the sky.

 

“You know, Jaejoong, I haven’t pulled an all-nighter since I was in high school,” Lina frowned.  “I’m not so sure about you though, Mr. Famous.  I don’t think this is a good idea…”

 

He held onto her hand.  “Don’t worry.”

 

“But you need your sleep!  Look at your eye bags!”

 

“I’m used to it.  I’ll just take a quick nap in the studio, and I’ll be fine,” he assured her.  “Besides, I want to spend as much time with you as possible.”  He rested his head on her shoulder.

 

 

They admired the sunrise in silence.

 

 

“…I wonder if Yoochun found Tae Hee…” Lina murmured.

 

Jaejoong sat up, looking slightly frustrated.  “Ah Lina, stop letting her get to you…”

 

 

“I took you away from her.  I can’t help but feel guilty.”

 

 

“Lina, you didn’t take me away.  I chose to come to you.  I mean seriously, a four year hiatus surely had to mean something to that relationship.  Don’t fret about it.”  He flashed her a smile of reassurance.

 

 

Silence.

 

 

“Hey Lina?”

 

 

“Hm…”

 

 

“Let’s go out for dinner tonight---since last night’s wasn’t the perfect date.  Yeah?”

 

 

She nodded.  She didn’t have to be so worried about Tae Hee, she decided.  Sure Tae Hee was Jaejoong’s past.  Nothing could change that.  But she was Jaejoong’s present, and that was all that mattered.

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