Chapter 27

I Is For Irony

This could be considered running away, couldn’t it?  Leaving without solving the problem.  Truthfully, she didn’t know how to settle everything without making the situation worse.  So she’d let time fix it.  After all, they said time will heal all wounds.  So why would she go back and press salt into the wounds?  Time was so much more efficient.  No more heartbreaking.  No more crying.  No more.

 

Perhaps this was a cowardly move; but it was the only method she knew.

 

*****

Jaejoong trudged up the stairs to Tae Hee’s apartment.  Sure she had said to give her a few days, but a day or two without Lina was all the same.

 

He rang the doorbell and stepped back, waiting for the door to open.

 

“Are you looking for Tae Hee, by any chance?” an old lady asked from behind him.

 

He frowned.  “Uh…yes.”

 

“So you’re the one…” she said sympathetically.  “I’m the landlady and Tae Hee left last night.  She wanted to tell you to ‘Be happy’.”

 

His heart tugged a little---but it seemed like he understood.  It didn’t matter if second chances were rare, you couldn’t force love upon someone like he had.  Once it was gone, it was gone.  Perhaps it’d be rekindled in the future years, but as of now, it was impossible.

 

 

He was…sorry.  Sorry that it took him so long to finally realize this, to realize that he was only trying to fulfill Lina’s wish.

 

 

And so it ended like this.

 

*****

 

She scribbled some notes on the folder, casually checking the EKG machine.

 

“Dr. Kim, you’re got to be kidding me.  I mean, you’re pretty and all, but there’s so many people in the world.  There’s NO way you could know the members of DBSK.  I mean, I can’t walk, but I’m not stupid.”

 

 

Tae Hee cocked her head.  “Now where have you been hearing that, Lisa?”

 

 

“The nurses said Dr. Choi said it!  And she’s your best friend!  Of course she would know!”

 

“Laura talks too much,” Tae Hee laughed.  “But it’s all good.  You don’t believe it anyways.”

 

Lisa’s eyes bulged in disbelief.  “I won’t tell if you tell me!” she whispered.  “I read about Jaejoong’s girlfriend like a year ago, but it can’t be you, right?”

 

 

Tae Hee dragged a plastic chair across the floor, setting it beside the bed.  “Oh you’re one of the hardcore fangirls, aren’t you?  Want me to tell you all about them?”

 

 

Lisa nodded fervently.  “And afterwards, let’s go to their concert together someday!  I bet you can score us backstage passes!”

 

 

 

 

Tae Hee exited the Children’s Ward with a smile on her face.  After leaving Seoul, this wing had served as her haven, allowing her to forget all her worries just by interacting with the kids.  Watching them battle chronic illnesses…she couldn’t possibly imagine the pain they were going through.  And yet, they all continued bravely, always bearing their pearly whites. 

 

Why should she dwell on her troubles when others were in worse positions?

 

 

 

“Hey Tae Hee~” Laura called down the hallway.

 

 

It had been a year since Lina’s accident, but Laura had never blamed her.  There had been a period of silence, a time for them to collect their thoughts.  But afterwards, she was there to comfort Tae Hee and help her through the trying time.

 

 

“Look who got another bouquet of flowers from Jiyong~” She pulled a bunch of roses from behind her back, handing them to Tae Hee.  “Sometimes I really envy you.  So many suitors.  Compared to my measly zero?”

 

 

“Yours will come in due time,” Tae Hee reassured her as she read the card.  “Jiyong is really sweet…too bad he doesn’t know what I like.”

 

 

“He was your patient for so long; it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t know you like forget-me-nots.  At least you know his personality.  Besides, you should find a man soon.  You’re getting old, dear.”

 

 

“Same could be said about you.  Besides, I don’t really need it now.  As of now, I’ve got my kids to worry about first.”

 

“You don’t realize how wrong that sounds.  There’s more than 50 of them---and they’re not your kids!  YOU NEED A MAN IN YOUR LIFE!”

 

Tae Hee rolled her eyes.  “You know what?  I’m going to go check up on Peggy.”

 

“Who’s that one?”

 

“The one with pneumonia.  Remember?  Pneumonic Peggy.”

 

Laura stifled a laugh.  “Oh that’s terrible!”

 

“She’s getting better.  She’ll be able to go home soon, so I want to go see her before she leaves.”

 

*****

 

Jaejoong stepped out of the airport, taking in the fresh air.  Almost immediately, a flood of memories overcame him. 

 

And all of them were about Lina.

 

This had been the place where he had met her more than a year ago.  And now he was back…without her by his side.  While he had stopped mourning over her death, there were still times when she would sneak into his thoughts.

 

He closed his eyes and breathed in.  There were a lot of things to do before the concert.

 

 

He walked around the preschool campus, occasionally peering into the classrooms.  What had happened to Lina’s room?  Had other teachers taken over it?  Leaving no trace of Lina?  Or had they kept it untouched, hoping that she’d come back…

 

Which scenario did he want?

 

 

 

“OMG!  It’s Miss Choi’s boy friend!” a kid shouted out, pointing at Jaejoong.

 

“NO WAY!”

 

“THAT MEANS MISS CHOI’S BACK!”

 

“LOOK!  IT’S PEGGY’S BOYFRIEND!”

 

 

A group of five year olds surrounded him, but he didn’t flinch.  After all, it was Lina who had cured him of pedophobia.

 

 

He smiled, ruffling their hair.  “How’ve you guys been?  And somebody’s missing, right?”  There was a voice missing.

 

 

“You’re so smart, mister!  Peggy’s in the hospital!”

 

 

“Why?”  So she was missing: his “fiancée”.

 

 

“She’s sick.  You should go visit her!  I bet it’d make her really happy!”

 

 

 

Jaejoong stared at the bouquet nervously.  What kind of flowers were you supposed to get for a sick five-year-old?  Roses?  Sunflowers?  WEEDS?  Probably not forget-me-nots…  but it was already too late.  It wasn’t entirely his fault; he had only subconsciously ordered those blue flowers.

 

 

He knocked on the hospital door.  “Hey Peggy!”

 

 

The child looked up, her eyes sparkling.  “JAEJOONG OPPA!”

 

 

“Your classmates told me you were sick, so I came to visit.  How’re you feeling?”

 

 

“YOU GOT ME FLOWERS TOO!” she exclaimed, ignoring his question.  “Oppa, you’re the best!”

 

 

A knock sounded at the door.

 

 

Peggy groaned.  “It’s probably the nurses.  They’re not fun; they always come with medicine.”

 

 

“Hey Peggy!  I came to visit you!”

 

 

Jaejoong froze.  Even if they had broken up, he knew that voice too well. 

 

 

…Tae Hee?

 

 

“DR. KIM!” Peggy greeted with delight.

 

“Oh you have a visitor?” Tae Hee asked.  She glanced at the forget-me-nots on the nightstand.  And then at the orange hair.  She didn’t want him to be Jaejoong, but everything seemed to call his name.

 

 

“Hey Tae Hee,” he smiled.

 

 

“…Jaejoong…”

 

 

 

 

They sat down on a bench overlooking the hospital gardens.  It would’ve been an ideal romantic spot---too bad they were no longer lovers.

 

Tae Hee fiddled with her fingers uncomfortably.  What was she supposed to say now?  The consequences of not handling her relationships effectively were coming back to haunt her.

 

“Have you been good?” Jaejoong asked.

 

She nodded.

 

“You probably feel really awkward, don’t you?  Ex-lovers meeting years later?  What are we supposed to do?”

 

“I’m sorry…for running away like that.”

 

Jaejoong shook his head.  “Hey, don’t be sorry to me.  It was me who pushed you to that decision.  You should tell Yoochun that.”

 

Tae Hee’s heart skipped a beat.  She hadn’t heard that name in so long.

 

“He really tried to forget you.  He even tried moving on to BoA; after all, she’s been crushing on him since our trainee days.  But it always ended badly.  We all think he’s kind of crazy for pining after a girl for so long…”

 

He looked at her earnestly.

 

“Tae Hee, if you still love Yoochun, will you do me a favor?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

He handed her two tickets.  “Come to our concert this Saturday.”

 

 

 

 

Even if Jaejoong hadn’t given her tickets and asked her to attend, Tae Hee still would’ve gone to their concert anyway.  And it wasn’t because she had promised Lisa, her patient.  She needed closure and what better way to see their faces without letting them see hers than going to their concert?

 

They smiled a lot during their performances, she noticed.  This was where they belonged.  The way they sang.  The way they danced.  The hardships they had to overcome in order to step onto that stage.  Only she would know.

 

The lights dimmed and Yoochun appeared.  Behind him, a spotlight illuminated a grand piano.  It was his solo, his time to shine. 

 

 

His voice, his eyes, his smile.  Oh how she longed for him.  But it didn’t matter how dearly she desired him; it didn’t matter how much she had to go through to finally realize she loved him; it didn’t matter at all…because after this, she’d never see him again.

 

 

“Dr. Kim…you’re crying…” Lisa said softly.

 

 

I can’t read your feelings since you try not to meet eyes with me,

Truthfully, I know what you’re going to say.

But I can feel that it’s not your whole heart; your tears tell me.

 

Don’t say goodbye,

I can hear your heart telling me not to let go of your hands,

I can hear your heart; You still just want me,

You can’t hide it, you can’t lie.

 

I won’t allow it---your lie of wanting to separate,

Look in my eyes and tell me,

It’s not…it’s not the truth

 

Don’t say goodbye, don’t leave me now.

The promises we’ve shared is everything to me.

 

Don’t say goodbye, you are my everything to me,
My tired days only look for you,
Like a pond which won’t dry, I’ll love you,
You are my love, you are my soul

Don’t say goodbye, you are the only one for me,
As if nothing has happened, if today passes,
Let’s not let go of each other, and we’ll make it through,
Cause you are my everything to me,
Cause you are my everything to me. 

[DBSK – Don’t Say Goodbye]

 

Yoochun paused, looking out into the crowd.  “Tae Hee…I know you’re out there.  This song…is for you.  Tae Hee…where are you?”

 

The tears were rolling nonstop now.  She clapped her hand over , stifling the sobs.  This had been what she had always dreamed of, hadn’t it?

 

“Dr. Kim…go up there!” Lisa nudged her.  “You have to!”

 

 

 

It seemed to take her forever to walk up those stairs, to run into his arms, to hear him whisper the words “I love you” in her ear.  But somehow she had managed.

 

Because Tae Hee knew this would be the relationship…

 

 

She would finally get her happy ending.

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