Chapter 25

I Is For Irony

He wouldn’t believe her, no matter how many times she admitted it.

 

“Tae Hee… I know you feel sorry for me, but please.  Trying to take all this blame on yourself won’t make me feel any better.”

 

“How many times do I need to tell you?  I killed her.  She died because of me.  You can slap me, hate me, never want to see me again….just believe me.”

 

“…Why would you want me to do that?” Jaejoong asked. 

 

“Because I don’t deserve your respect anymore.

 

“…I was jealous of her.  Even though I said I could live without you, I couldn’t then.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry,” she apologized.

 

 

 

Jaejoong was silent.  Had Tae Hee changed that much?  Why couldn’t she have been as sweet and innocent as she was four years ago?

 

“Stop joking, Tae Hee.”  He shook his head.  “I feel kind of sick; I don’t want to see you right now.”

 

He would rather her leave than hear any more apologies.

 

“I’m sorry…” she repeated once last time before exiting.  Sorry to Lina, Jaejoong… Yoochun.  She was sorry for everything she had done.

 

 

He could no longer hear her footsteps in the hall.  He clenched his fist, angrily knocking over the glass vase.  The flowers were dead anyway.

 

Hadn’t this been what he wanted?  Didn’t he want to know who killed Lina?  So why was he so unwilling to believe Tae Hee did it?

 

 

Why him?  Why did all the women he love eventually leave him, betray him?  First with Ri In.  Lina…  and now Tae Hee?  All of them.

 

 

“Ah, sir!  Your hand is bleeding!” a nurse exclaimed, rushing towards him.

 

*****

 

She breathed in the fresh air for the last time.  Who knew how long it’d be until the next time she came back?

 

He’d come today; she just knew it.  No matter how long it took, she was determined to see Yoochun today.

 

Tae Hee laid her head against the tree and closed her eyes, suddenly overcome by fatigue.

 

 

 

The sun’s last rays warmed her skin.

 

“Tae Hee…Tae Hee…” someone shook her gently awake.

 

“Hm…”  She opened her eyes slowly.  “Yoochun.  You came.”

 

He looked worried.  “How could you just fall asleep right here?  How long have you been here?”

 

The look he gave her.  She couldn’t help it, but her heart skipped a beat.

 

 

“I was waiting for you…”

 

“You could’ve called me!” he exclaimed as he helped her up.

 

“I knew you’d come anyway.”

 

“Ah Tae Hee.  You don’t know how dangerous that could’ve been!  You could’ve gotten mugged or…!”

 

She laughed.  “You’re funny.”

 

“Don’t do that ever again.”  He looked at her sternly.

 

“Hey, stop worrying about me so much.  It makes me want to hug you,” she murmured. 

 

Yoochun held his breath as Tae Hee leaned in and wrapped her arms around his neck. 

 

Truthfully, she had surprised herself too.  She had never dreamed of a day where she wouldn’t have to force herself to love Yoochun.  And now, on her final days, she finally found the love she had been yearning for.

 

 

“Hey, I love you too.”

 

And her heart tightened at his words. 

 

 

 

 

She avoided his gaze, stirring her coffee.

 

“How long have you liked me for?” Tae Hee asked suddenly.

 

“I think…ever since I met you,” he chuckled.  “It sounds so cliché, doesn’t it?  Popular boy falls in love with new girl.  And in your case, two popular boys fall for the girl.”

 

She rolled her eyes.  “And you’re saying you were popular…”

 

“Of course.  Park Yoochun, lady killer.”  He laughed.  “I’m just glad that all that waiting has paid off.  And now we’re together.”  He placed his arm around her shoulder.  “You’re a lucky girl, you know that?”

 

“Yeah, I finally realized,” she whispered.

 

He sipped his latte carefully.

 

“Aren’t you tired though?” she asked.  “Waiting so long?”

 

“Well, it all paid off, didn’t it?”

 

“No, you didn’t answer my question.  Waiting for me all these years, wasn’t there a time when you just…wanted to give up?  Find a new love?”

 

“Well…why are you asking me this?”

 

She smiled.  “Oh, I was just wondering.  So tell me the truth.”

 

“Well…” he hesitated.  “I did have a crush on BoA for some time.  But you were always the most special in my heart,” he added quickly.

 

Tae Hee nodded understandingly.  So maybe there was still hope.

 

*****

 

Jaejoong’s hand trembled as he lifted the cloth off her face.  He bit his lip.  Even in death, she was still smiling.  Was she happy up there?  Because he wasn’t here.

 

“Lina…”  He touched her cold cheek and looked away as a tear fell from his eye.  She wouldn’t have wanted to see him crying.  “Why’d you have to go?”  His words were choked, his body was shaking…his heart was breaking.

 

“Why couldn’t you say goodbye face to face to me?  Why Lina why?”  He didn’t even care if he cried in front of her anymore.  It served her right; leaving him like this?  What was she thinking.

 

“Goddamn it!  I love you!  I love you!  Come back!

 

“How could you give up on me like that?”

 

He breathed heavily, crumpling to the floor.

 

“Ah sir… maybe you should come back another time…when you’re more…composed,” the mortician suggested.

 

*****

 

“I don’t want to sing Forever Love,” Jaejoong announced during their meeting.

 

“But we always sing that one!” Yunho cried.

 

Yoochun shook his head and nudged their leader.  “Not now.”

 

 

Lina had left two weeks ago, but Jaejoong still hadn’t recovered.  While he still attended group activities, he no longer tried to mask his pain with a smile as he did before.  He had given their designers quite a headache too when he demanded he be clad in nothing but black.  He wouldn’t smile at hopeful fans.  And now?  He was refusing to perform love songs.

 

“8eight came out with a new song: Goodbye My Love.  Why can’t we sing that one?”

 

“Ah, hyung.  Firstly, they just came out with it---so they’re promoting it themselves too.  Also, we’re performing for our Japanese fans who don’t speak Korean, last time I checked,” Changmin grumbled.

 

Yoochun’s phone rang and he hastily picked it up.  “Sorry guys, I have to take this one.  It’s Tae Hee.”

 

Jaejoong froze.  “I don’t feel so well; you guys decide what you want.”

 

 

 

He walked down the empty hallway aimlessly.  Tae Hee…  That name seemed so foreign to him now.  Ever since her confession, he had “never had the time” to see her.  Perhaps he was unwilling to give up time.  Perhaps he was still unwilling to accept this fact.

 

He leaned against the wall, taking out a neatly folded letter from his wallet.  The paper had been folded and unfolded thousands of times.  Her last words to him.

 

 

”Treasure the opportunities you are given.  Second chances are hard to come by.”

 

 

“Second chances, huh?  I didn’t need one, Lina---not when you were here…”  He closed his eyes, holding the letter to his chest.  “I’m never going to forget you.  I promise you that.”

 

 

He headed towards the building exit.  He hadn’t missed his second chance yet, had he?

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