Genre: AU, Friendship, Romance, Drama
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. I own nothing and know even less. This story is a stand alone, but it does take place in the TFAN universe where Yunho played a crucial role.
A thousand thanks to Amy! My dear friend who I trust completely!
For everybody who takes the time to comment you are why I share this story!
Summary: On a cold winter’s day he cast their love away for the sake of his family. The following autumn an act of vengeance left their love beyond the reaches of forgiveness. Two summers later a fan’s anger and the ultimate act of self-sacrifice would redefine everything they knew about love, pride, selfishness, and forgiveness.
The alarm on Jae’s phone went off, he groaned as he stretched out his arm to grab his phone and turn it off. He frowned as he was reminded it was only three am. It had been over three weeks since he had returned to Yunho and they had laid down boundaries with each other like mature adults. Yunho’s progress in the last three weeks had been nothing short of amazing. He had gone from taking a few baby steps with the walker to going up and down the halls unassisted.
Jae sat up reluctantly knowing the day ahead of him was going to be crammed and stressful. He sighed as he stood up to get dressed and jumped when he was startled by Yunho who was leaning against the window looking outside.
“Yunho! What are you doing out of bed?” Jae told him as he stepped off his pallet on the floor and hurried toward Yunho not bothering to turn the lights on.
“I am just looking at the snow. It’s almost a full moon look how bright it is outside.” Yunho told him never taking his eyes off the snow that covered the ground outside.
“Where is your walker? You are not supposed to be up without it.” Jae fussed searching for the walker in the dark and finding it beside Yunho’s bed where Yunho had left it.
“I am quite capable of walking to the window without the walker there is plenty to hold on to. Bill said I will be progressing to a cane very soon.” Yunho told him as Jae came up beside him and wrapped an arm around him for support.
“Yunho, you know that you are not there yet…although very close to being there.” Jae admitted as Yunho shifted his weight from the window onto Jae.
Jae started to move away from the window, “No, let’s watch together for just a little longer. Isn’t it beautiful? Tomorrow during the day it’s going to snow even more but then tomorrow night it will clear up and there is going to be a full moon. It will be like a winter wonderland.”
“Yunho, I never knew you had such a love for the snow.” Jae told him squeezing his waist.
“I like it…it’s so beautiful and so pure. So clean.” Yunho told him as he reached out and ran his finger across the window. “When I was little I remember my grandmother reading me a story about how the snow can make everything new again.”
“You are going to make everything new again for so many people. Your mother and sister will be here soon and the whole world is in for a surprise.” Jae told him trying not to sound sad. He was so happy that Yunho had accomplished so much but no matter how Yunho reassured him he could feel a separation looming in the future. Jae would always want more than friendship with Yunho…always, but he wasn’t willing to give Yunho up again, so he would have to settle for friendship.
“You are sneaking off during the night again.” Yunho told him still gliding his hand across the window.
Jae tensed, “It isn’t like I didn’t tell you I was leaving.”
“I wasn’t commenting on the leaving I was commenting on the manner in which you leave. Is it so hard to say goodbye?” Yunho said letting his hand drop down to his side.
“Yes, even now. It doesn’t matter that it’s only for a day and not a week. I can’t help how I feel. I will soon have to share you, and we both know how wonderfully I fail at sharing you.” Jae couldn’t help but feel uneasy knowing his limitations all too well. Yunho acknowledged that Jae was in love with him, and he didn’t hold it against him. Yunho just made it painfully clear that friendship was all he had to offer.
“Awe, but you skills at friendship improve every day. You will have mastered it by then.” Yunho told him lightly still gazing out at the snow.
“I am actually a good friend to many people…well not counting the last year, but you have always been my Achilles Heel.” Jae told him watching the man beside him with loving eyes.
Yunho smiled, “I promise to be a good heel.”
“I have to go. I have to perform tonight and I haven’t even practiced once.” Jae told him and the dread could be heard in his voice.
Yunho turned away from the window and stared at the man helping to hold him up, “Something I should know about?”
“No, you should think only of your English lessons, walking canes, and the return of loved ones. Not things that might make you sad or mean to me.”
“Agreed.” Yunho told him glancing back out the window. “I shall return to bed then, since it is highly unlikely I could talk you into leaving me here.”
“Highly unlikely.” Jae agreed turning with Yunho and leading him back to the bed easily. “I will miss you so much.” Jae told him as Yunho sat down on the bed.
“Do you want my sweatshirt?” Yunho asked pulling on the front of the sweatshirt he was wearing.
Jae blushed only slightly his attachment to Yunho’s clothing was not something he had hidden or even attempted to hide but to have Yunho just come out and offer him the shirt of his back made him feel embarrassed. “I should get you one to replace it.”
Yunho smiled sadly as Jae walked over to the dresser and pulled out another heavy sweatshirt and brought it back to Yunho. “You can have that one if you would rather…”
“No, I will take the one you’re wearing now.” Jae told him loving nothing more than wearing clothing of Yunho’s that still contained his warmth and smell.
“You are all kinds of crazy. You know that right?” Yunho told him as he slipped off his shirt and handed it to Jae.
“I haven’t molested you in over five weeks so I don’t want to hear it.” Jae told him as he took the shirt from Yunho and put it on over the t-shirt he was wearing. “The fact that I was gone for almost two of those weeks doesn’t make it any less true.”
Yunho pulled the other shirt on and reached out his arms, “Hug?”
“Absolutely.” Jae told him as he bent down and was engulfed in one of Yunho’s bear hugs. Yunho’s grip was not as tight as the old days, but the effect of his full hearted hugs still left Jae breathless.
“I am sorry about ruining your computer!” Jae blurted out quickly as he tightened his hold on Yunho.
“I always found your clumsiness endearing, no worries.” Yunho told him loosening his hold on Jae.
Jae who still clung tightly to Yunho whispered, “I will buy you another one. A better one.”
Yunho pushed Jae away, “It isn’t necessary. Now go get dressed so you can leave. You have lots to accomplish in a very short time, and it would be horrible if you humiliated yourself tonight in front of your fans.”
“So cruel.” Jae told him beaming as he walked away toward the bathroom to hurry and get ready so he could leave.
When Jae left the bathroom only a couple minutes later he found Yunho sleeping on his side facing the window. Jae smiled taking a moment to soak in the other man before he left the room shutting the door quietly behind him.
As soon as he shut the door the smile faded as he came face to face with Soo Jin who was waiting for him outside the room. “I have done my part, now I am depending on you.” He told her as he started walking down the hall. Soo Jin hurried to keep up with him.
“It will all be taken care of. There isn’t anything to worry about.” She assured him as she struggled to match his pace.
Jae stopped suddenly and turned to face her. “I always worry.” Jae told her then he reached out a very calculated hand and ran it down her arm. “I can’t do my best if I am worried about him. I want to return to a happy Yunho.”
Her breathing sped up and she practically licked her lips, “He will be all smiles he won’t see anything that will upset him. I promise.”
“Good.” Jae told her pulling back his hand. “I’d hate for you to disappoint me.” He told her with a smile but his eyes had narrowed just enough to make his threat evident.
“I would never disappoint you.” Soo Jin vowed to him but he was already walking away from her.
“So now we are good enough for you.” The angry teenage boy sitting across from Yunho told him as he shuffled a deck of cards.
“Bae, it isn’t like that.” Yunho told the young teenage boy who was wheelchair bound having lost the use of his legs in a car accident that had claimed both is parent’s lives.
“I think it is. Your beautiful friend shows back up and suddenly you disappear. I thought we were becoming fast friends. Mr. Ryu spoke so highly of you.” The woman sitting next to Bae told Yunho.
“I miss Mr. Ryu. I hope he is doing well.” Yunho told them sadly taking his cards as Bae starting to deal them out.
“Notice how he didn’t deny it, Eun?” Bae told her as he finished dealing the cards out.
“I totally noticed.” Eun told the younger boy as she grabbed the cards with her right hand. She was older than both of them combined; her left side was covered with terrible burn scars.
“I totally denied it.” Yunho told them eyeing his cards unhappily, “Are you sure you don’t cheat?” He asked pointing at Bae.
“Never!” Bae told him with a crooked grin. “I don’t think his friend is beautiful he looks like a woman who had a sex change to me.”
“You might be right. I have heard many evil things about SM, so I wouldn’t put it pass them. It would be a sure way to make an endless supply of pretty flower boys.” Eun said laying down a card to play.
“Eww that’s so gross.” Bae told them but couldn’t help but crack up laughing at the disapproving look Yunho was giving them.
“So not funny.” Yunho told them as he reached over and grabbed his drink. They were in the cafeteria after finishing their dinner. Yunho had decided to be social after a very successful day of rehab. He was so close to being rid of the walker.
“We aren’t accusing you…you’re obviously a man, but you have to admit that you surround yourself with really beautiful men.” Eun told him as she smiled wickedly at him.
“What am I chopped liver? The ugly duckling surrounded by the swans?” Yunho asked pretending to be offended.
“Well to be fair you are looking a little girly yourself with that hair.” Bae admitted looking at Yunho’s long hair with suspicion.
“Nonsense! There isn’t anything feminine about Yunho. Since I met you I have been doing research…it isn’t often a poor soul like me gets to meet a celebrity like you.” Eun explained to Yunho making the other man roll his eyes at her. “You are a manly man.”
“Thank you.” Yunho said brightening instantly.
“Yeah, I suppose hair can be cut.” Bae agreed as he laid down the winning card.
“I tell you he cheats!” Yunho told them pretending to be outraged at the younger man winning another game.
“I didn’t!” Bae denied but he was smiling huge loving the man’s reaction.
“What has our favorite young nurse looking so angry?” Eun interrupted, her attention was now focused on Hana who was talking to another nurse and her body language was showing she was obviously upset.
Yunho who had turned around to look asked, “What is she still doing here?”
“Nurse Hana!” Bae yelled out causing her to stop her conversation with the other nurse and turn to look at the table.
“Bae, Eun, Yunho.” Hana greeted as she walked up to the table. “Is this one ripping you all off again?” Hana said pinching Bae’s nose.
“He cheats.” Yunho told her laughing at the irritated look on Bae’s face after having his nose pinched.
“I do not.” Bae denied folding his arms pretended to be insulted. “Why are you still here?”
“Soo Jin called in sick…sick so I am waiting till they find somebody to cover for her.” Hana explained and her irritated look wasn’t for pretend.
“Sick?” Eun said starting to laugh. “She is at home watching the Golden Disk Awards.” Soo Jin’s love for Jae was the worse kept secret in the world all the staff and patients knew of it.
“There is even a rumor she went…supposedly she got a seat.” Hana said crossing her arms looking super annoyed.
“Ah, your beautiful friend finally rewarded her for her worship of him?” Eun said looking at Yunho who suddenly looked at a lost.
Yunho blinked as he slowly processed the news. The performance that Jae had been worried about were the Golden Disk Awards…he had never said what the performance was. Yunho hated the pain he suddenly felt he tried to push it away but it was too real to be ignored.
“Yunho? Are you okay?” Hana asked moving closer to him.
“Yes, I just forgot there something I have to do in my room.” Yunho said suddenly grabbing his walker and getting up. “I will see you all later.” Yunho told them, as he left with his walker quicker than anybody would have imagined possible a month ago.
“What the hell?” Yunho said flipping on the remote control for the television and having no success.
“Is it broken?” Hana asked walking into the room to check on Yunho after his quick exit.
“Or the batteries are dead.” Yunho told her disgruntled dropping the remote control into his lap.
“Well let’s see.” Hana said walking to the television hanging on the wall and hitting the power button. Nothing happened. “It’s broken.”
“Great, just great.” Yunho told her looking more upset than she had seen him in a long time.
“Were you going to watch the awards?” Hana asked softly. Yunho nodded his head and clenched his jaw together. “What about your computer?”
“Jae split soda all in it and fried it.” Yunho told her looking suddenly suspicious.
“Oh, well you could…” Hana began to offer another suggestion when Yunho interrupted her.
“Things that might make you sad or mean to me…damn him! He did this on purpose.” Yunho said flinging the remote against the wall.
“He what?” Hana asked startled at Yunho’s sudden outburst.
“He broke my computer on purpose and he did the same thing to the television? He doesn’t want me watching the award show. He didn’t even want me knowing about it.” Yunho told her infuriated at Jae’s plan to shelter him…like a baby.
Hana eyes became alert as she thought hard, “There is a waiting room at the back that nobody should be in. It has its own television you can watch it there.”
Yunho smiled, “Is it the one by the backdoors?”
“Yes, nobody ever uses it at night.” Hana said walking out the door motioning for Yunho to follow her.
“If there is anybody else there I don’t want to stay. I don’t want to watch it with anybody.” Yunho confided to her as he kept up with her easily with his walker as they walked down the hall.
“I will just run them off. You know it pays to have friends in high places.” Hana joked. “Do you think he really gave her a ticket?” Hana added sounding sour.
“No, I am sure she is supposed to be here making sure I am not watching the awards.” Yunho told her as they passed through the hallway.
“Really?” Hana asked sounding slightly sinister as she smiled. “Is it wrong that I want to be witness to him ripping her into pieces? Won’t she be surprised to see that side of him?”
Yunho entered the waiting room and found it empty. He sighed in relief knowing that the awards were something he needed to watch privately. “I don’t wish that version of Jae on anyone.”
“That’s because you are a saint.” Hana said, reaching up and grabbing the remote control handing it to Yunho as he took a seat in one of the chairs in the waiting room.
“Hardly, I just save all my mental breakdowns for him. There is a reason he doesn’t want me watching this.” Yunho said turning on the television that worked perfectly.
“I am sure it was all deserved.” Hana said frowning, “I mean Junsu? That alone is unforgivable.”
Yunho frowned and was about to tell her something when his phone started ringing. “Jae is calling no doubt to make sure I am being a good boy.”
“Won’t he be suspicious if you don’t answer?” Hana asked taking the seat next to him as Yunho just stared at the phone not answering it.
“I won’t lie to him…so I am just avoiding the truth for awhile. It would be better for him if he thinks I am playing cards or something, and I just forgot my phone.” Yunho told her as the call went to voicemail.
“You two are the very definition of complicated. I don’t even know…” She stopped as her phone began to ring. She pulled it out and was surprised. “It’s Jae. He hasn’t called me to check on you in forever.”
“He must know Soo Jin called in. He is freaking out right now.” Yunho told her as Hana took the remote from him and muted the television.
Yunho watched as Hana answered the phone, “Hello. Yes, she called in sick so I am stuck here till my replacement gets here. Oh, Yunho he’s fine. He’s playing cards in the cafeteria. I think they have a tournament planned for the night. Last time I checked he was getting beat by a fourteen year old boy. No problem. Bye.”
“Don’t. It wasn’t a problem. You are a grown man if you want to watch television you can.” Hana said getting up out of the chair. “JaeSu. Did I ever tell you how much I hate that pairing? Even before I knew what they did to you…I hated it. The last months before the lawsuit I could just tell something twisted was going on between them.” Hana told him shuddering.
“Can we not ever talk about it?” Yunho asked frowning.
“Agreed. I have to go my replacement might be here. Bye!” Hana told him walking away but paused for a moment and turned back to him. “Don’t get too upset. You don’t want to prove Jae right.”
“I won’t.” Yunho promised smiling at the young nurse as she turned and walked away.
Yunho sat alone in the waiting room watching the life that had been taken from him play out on the flat screen in high definition. He watched as much loved friends rejoiced in a night meant to celebrate their achievements.
His heart sank at every close-up of JYJ, the smiles on their faces and the way they were together gutted him. They were chatterboxes they never stopped talking to each other or reaching out to a passerby to tell them something. They dazzled for all to see.
On the other side of the room sat a younger man who was the exact opposite of them. Although his handsome features were simply perfection as if God had spent special time on him; every smile and laugh were forced. Yunho watched and knew that Changmin was making every effort to pretend the other three were not there.
At first Yunho had thought Changmin had not gone when the close up of Super Junior were shown and he wasn’t with them but soon Shinee were shown and Changmin was safely placed between Minho and Taemin. Yunho had very little interest in the show and found himself more drawn to the close-ups of the celebrities in the audience.
All his secret keepers were there, and none of them had even mentioned the award show to him. What else had he missed? How many other events had they sheltered him from? How fragile he must appear to them. The camera focused back on Jae who was laughing with Hyun Joong who had squeezed in next to him. Something that was very close to jealously stirred in Yunho and he blinked trying to come to terms with his emotions. He wasn’t angry at Jae because the more he watched the more he knew Jae had been right to want to protect him from it, but what inspired the jealousy? Was it from seeing Jae with a man he was close with or was it from seeing all of them together at an award show they had once gone to together?
He sat there alone and continued to watch he noticed how Heechul’s bunnies sat as far apart from each other at separate tables never sparing each other a glance. He watched as Heechul kept his eyes on his bunnies but also gave equal time to Kangin and Changmin. The camera was focused on Changmin when they announced JYJ would be performing next. Changmin’s expression stayed the same, but Minho immediately wrapped an arm around him sensing the danger.
Yunho sat there knowing he should get up and leave. He avoided JYJ music…he went to great effort never to listen to it. He loved their voices but he knew that he wasn’t ready to listen to them sing as a trio. Even though he felt stronger then he had since the lawsuit he knew that he should turn the television off but like a moth to a flame he kept watching…even if it burned him.
When JYJ finally appeared they were all dressed in white suits and Cassiopeia went wild. Yunho was about to smile at how loudly Cassiopeia cheered, but then the familiar notes of Miduhyo began to be played. Yunho mouth dropped open and he felt more paralyzed than he had in months. He sat and listened too stunned to move. They sounded beautiful and so perfect…as if they had never been a need for more than the three of them. Yunho jumped up almost tripping in an attempt to grab his walker and get away from the sound of their beautiful voices. Yunho suddenly felt like he couldn’t breathe.
He didn’t even bother turning the television off as he walked to the doors that lead to grounds out back. He opened the door and walked out onto the patio and stared out into the perfect snow that was illuminated by the moon. How beautiful and peaceful it was...how he strived to feel that beauty and peace again. Whenever he felt as if he had grasped that peaceful feeling again it would be yanked out from underneath him.
He breathed in the cold air hoping to calm his racing heart but peace eluded him as his heart continued to race. He took a seat on one of the chairs on the patio trying to control his emotions. He sat there for over thirty minutes as he tried to fight the urge to go to the creek. He knew it was stupid to want to go there but since he had awoken from his cursed slumber it was the only place where he felt truly at ease.
He carefully used his walker to step off the patio. The snow wasn’t as deep as he feared and also it wasn’t as cold as he thought it would be. He lifted his walker and took a very careful step and he found it wasn’t as hard as he imagined it would be. It would be slow getting there but he had no desire to turn back now.
Yunho thought if he could just make it to the creek he could settle his nerves, calm his racing heart, and think clearly. He moved forward determined not to let the snow or the cold stop him. It was a slow journey but he continued to push forward only stopping to rest when he felt his legs were going to give out on him. When he finally reached the creek it felt like hours had passed. He was exhausted but as he stared down at the frozen water from the edge of the creek’s bank he didn’t regret his decision…he felt like he had accomplished something; something crazy and impossible.
He knew he could not allow himself to become angry again…he had to deal with how he felt and not inflict his self pity on anybody else. Jae had not done this to him on purpose he had in fact did everything in his power to prevent Yunho from seeing this. They weren’t doing it to hurt Yunho. To Junsu and Yoochun he was just a lifeless shell that held no memories…but what of Changmin? Changmin who sat right in front of them…how could they perform that song in front of Changmin? Changmin was grown now but he had been so young when Dong Bang Shin Ki started…he had been their baby brother. Yunho felt tears run down his face as he thought back to the Jae, Junsu and Yoochun he had loved so much years ago how did they become these men who could hurt Changmin so ruthlessly?
He knew that Changmin had said hurtful things to them, but did the past mean nothing to them now? How Changmin must be feeling…he was also still suffering from the loss of Yunho too. How alone Changmin must feel all because of Yunho’s pride, and his selfishness. Yes, Yunho had been selfish in his eagerness to keep Jae close to him he had selfishly allowed Changmin to continue to suffer.
“Stupid, selfish, stupid.” Yunho cursed himself as the pain he himself had inflicted on the boy he loved more than he loved himself became painfully clear to him. He could have relieved so much of Changmin’s suffering long ago. He turned away from the edge of the creek’s bank and reached for his phone in his pocket and he was so relieved that Go Ara had left him Changmin’s number. Changmin would no longer suffer because of him.
Yunho was about to call Changmin when he noticed the snow. Yunho distinctly remembered that the snow was supposed to be over. It was odd snow too Yunho couldn’t help but think because it sparkled with little lights. He reached up to touch the sparkly snow when he noticed his hand was trembling. For some strange reason he didn’t feel cold, so why was his hand trembling?
It was the last thought Yunho had before his whole body began to shake all over uncontrollably. He lost his grip on his walker as his body shook out of control and his legs gave way. He lost consciousness as he fell backwards off the creek bank, crashing into the frozen creek below him, causing the thin ice to break around him as he sank into the freezing water.