Tae Hee set the vase of flowers down quickly as her cell phone vibrated. “Yoochun!”
But it wasn’t.
“...Tae Hee…” Jaejoong muttered.
“Hello? Jaejoong? Where are you?”
“Drinking… I miss---” he cut off.
“Hello? I’m an employee at Club Air. He’s had a lot to drink, so it’d be nice if you could come and pick him up.”
“Ah…” she sighed. “Okay.”
Of all people, why did he call her for help? Had he not removed her from his speed dial? She didn’t want to go. How would he react to her? Had he been storing up all the anger these past few weeks? Was he going to erupt? Or had he simply accepted it and moved on? …Or even worse, had it still not hit him?
He lifted his glass to the bartender. “Another one please?” The bartender nodded as Jaejoong rested his head on a woman’s shoulder.
Tae Hee held her breath. This was unbelievable.
Kim Jaejoong had gone to a hostess club.
She stood before the table, hands on her hips. “Kim Jaejoong, why did you even call me?”
He chuckled, squinting drunkly at her. “Ah, Cherry, you’re back?”
“Hey, I’m right here!” his companion whined.
“I know, Sherry. I’m just kidding.” Jaejoong flashed her a smile.
“My God!” Tae Hee exclaimed. “I give up. Have fun with Cherry, Sherry, Terry, whatever.” She began stalking off.
“Hey! Wait up!”
Tae Hee turned around, expecting Jaejoong. But instead, it was his companion.
“Hey Lina? I think you should bring him home… He shouldn’t be drinking anymore.”
Tae Hee crossed her arms. “Huh.” Like she didn’t know that before.
“Listen, I know you’re pissed that he came here, of all places. But this whole night, he was calling out your name, Lina… He loves you.”
Tae Hee shook her head. “No he doesn’t.. My name is Tae Hee.”
The hostess blushed. “Oh…sorry…”
Tae Hee dragged Jaejoong into her apartment, dropping him off on her bed.
“What am I going to do with you?” she whispered, shaking her head.
She walked to the bathroom to get him a hot towel. There wasn’t a doubt that he was still yearning for Lina. And it was all her fault this was happening. Sure she had gotten Ji Hwan to turn himself in. But still, she was the root of the cause.
“My head hurts…” Jaejoong moaned.
She rolled her eyes. “Serves you right.” She placed the towel on his forehead and pulled the blankets up to his chin. “Drinking’s not going to help your suffering… I’ll see you in the morning.”
The bedroom door slid open and Jaejoong slipped out, clutching his head.
“Where am I?”
His eyes landed on the sofa. Tae Hee. He took a deep breath. How was he supposed to treat her now? He obviously hadn’t completely accepted Lina’s death yet. But he didn’t want to place the blame all upon Tae Hee in order to move on. She wouldn’t have killed Lina; she couldn’t have.
Maybe he’d see her another day, when he knew how to act. When he was at peace with himself.
His hand touched the doorknob.
He looked back one more time at Tae Hee---to have her eyes meet his.
“Do you hate me that much?”
“What?” He hadn’t expected this as their morning greeting.
“You’re leaving already. You wouldn’t have even talked to me, had I woken up.”
Tae Hee shook her head. “I get it. Just go.”
He walked back towards her. “Hey…I…never hated you.”
“I killed Lina. And you loved her so much. You couldn’t NOT have hated me.”
“It wasn’t you. You know it wasn’t. It was Ji Hwan; they called me when he turned himself in.”
“You don’t get it. He didn’t…”
“Quiet Tae Hee.” He wrapped his arms around her. “I don’t want to hear it anymore. Right now, I just want to get over Lina’s death, okay?”
She nodded meekly.
“Second chances are hard to come by…” he hesitated. “So I want to take advantage of that.”
“Jaejoong…I don’t understand?”
“You feel guilty, don’t you?”
She didn’t respond.
“I want us to get back together.”
Tae Hee looked shocked.
This was what she wanted, wasn’t it? He hoped Lina was happy now---because he sure wasn’t.
“Jaejoong, I understand you’re trying to get over Lina, but…isn’t this method a little too extreme?”
“What’s wrong with that? You worried about Yoochun? You never loved him anyway. It’ll be easy for you.”
“But I need you Tae Hee. We can go back to the way we were before….I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. So I need you to be there for me.”
Why was he doing this to her now? Punishment? He was just loading on the guilt mercilessly. I’m in this wreck because of you, Tae Hee. So you better fix it now.
This hadn’t been the way she had imagined it. Months ago, getting back together with Jaejoong wouldn’t have been all about guilt and jealousy. It should’ve been a sweet moment, not like now.
Now it was all about fulfilling Lina’s last wishes.
Protect him. Be his substitute lover.
Find a new lover. Go back to Tae Hee.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Give me…a few days…”
She needed to set things straight before telling the truth. And so here she was, sitting across from Yoochun, at a lavish restaurant. He thought they were on a date, but he should’ve known better.
“You look…breathtaking,” Yoochun complimented her.
She muttered a thanks; it was just a formality. She had specifically dressed down for this meeting.
“Thanks for giving me a chance.” He smiled at her.
Tae Hee bit her lip. Why was it so hard for her to just tell him?
Because she loved him.
Maybe this was a bad idea. It had taken them so much effort for them to finally be together. And now she was going to ruin it with a few words. She didn’t want this to end. Why her?
“So…what do you want to eat?”
“Uh, Yoochun. Before that…I have something to tell you.”
He opened his mouth to speak.
“No, let me finish. You deserve someone better, ok? You have no idea what I’ve done. And I really don’t want you to get hurt.”
Yoochun’s smile didn’t fade. He dabbed his mouth with a napkin. “You know, Tae Hee… I’ve been expecting that line. And you know what? I don’t care. I already knew someone was going to get hurt, the moment Jaejoong and I fell in love with you. I may not be Jaejoong, but I’d do anything for you.”
She shuddered. Those same words again. Why couldn’t he just accept what she was saying? She didn’t want to hurt him anymore than she had to. “Don’t say anymore. Yoochun, I’m dead serious. You need to give up.”
“Tae Hee…like I said, I’m not afraid of being hurt.”
“DAMN IT, BECAUSE I DON’T LIKE YOU. Ok? And all those, ‘with time, you’ll fall in love with me’. BULL. I’ve spent six years pining over a man, and now look what’s happened to me? I don’t want to waste any more time. Forget about what I’d said about us before. It’ll never happen. Sorry.”
Tae Hee rose from the table and ran towards the exit. She placed a hand over ; she couldn’t let any whimper or sob reach his ears.
She couldn’t even go back to the sacred tree which had been her haven for so many years. Yoochun would definitely find her there. And she could no longer allow for that.
She needed some time to think. To empty herself of tears.
This wasn’t time to be weak anymore; after all, she had planned all of this. She should be grateful everything was running smoothly.
Even with the whole “second chances” thing, she could never go back to Jaejoong. He knew it. She knew it. Six years of devotion to each other. It was nice; she couldn’t have asked for more. And now, it was time to move on.
But not onto Yoochun. It was true. She loved him. And he loved her. So, happy ending? No. Any more of this “DBSK dating” would kill the group. She just couldn’t do that to them. The boys had gone through so much just to debut as famous artists; she couldn’t possibly tear them apart because of a measly girl.
She had taken advantage of her “break” to the fullest.
It was time to leave.
To disappear from their lives forever.
For them. And perhaps for her.
She zipped the last luggage close.
Breathe in. Breathe out.