Genre: Future AU, Friendship, Romance
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.
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.
Changmin watched as family and friends walked into the hospital room taking their turns saying goodbye to Yunho. He watched their different reactions to the body that was dependent on a ventilator with a large white dressing to the head that continued to seep blood no matter how many times the nurses changed it.
Some were very calm and took Yunho’s left hand and wished him safe passage, told him how desperately he would be missed, and how much he was loved. Some walked in the room and immediately turned and left, unable to bear the sight of what was once such a bright, healthy young man. It was the ones that came in drenched in tears that clung to Yunho and begged him not to go that irritated Changmin. He almost had to physically restrain himself from not getting up and knocking a few of them through the wall. Yunho would not have approved, so Changmin sat at Yunho’s right side holding his lifeless hand, and glared at anybody who suggested he leave. He wasn’t moving till they wheeled Yunho away, and he wondered how he would ever be able to let him go then.
“Changmin, would…” Mrs. Shim began.
“No!” Changmin said, not turning to look at his mother.
“I was just going to ask if you would like something to drink,” Mrs. Shim told her son, laying a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Changmin laughed, causing the other people in the room to turn and look at him. “Mom, I will drink after Yunho’s dead. I will drink a lot after Yunho is dead.”
“Honey, don’t,” Mrs. Shim said, her voice full of misery, knowing that her son would never not be haunted by this tragedy. Mrs. Jung, who had been standing beside her husband, moved closer to the young man who was finding it so hard to maintain his control.
“What? I think it’s a completely acceptable response to drink when….when somebody takes a bullet for you, especially in the head. I will attempt to be somber enough to attend the mem…”
“Stop,” Mrs. Jung said, laying another hand on his other shoulder. “Your life meant more to him than his own. He loved you so much. You can never doubt that.”
“Yunho’s love wasn’t something you could doubt. It was like…” Changmin stopped suddenly as he watched Heechul, Sungmin, and Eunhyuk enter the room. Sungmin and Eunhyuk both approached the bed cautiously, hand in hand as they wiped their tears with their free hands. Heechul walked to the foot of the bed and stood completely still, as if he would turn and run at any moment.
“So…so when are they... when are they turning it off?” Heechul asked, more collected than Changmin had expected. Heechul and Yunho had made for odd friends, but their friendship had survived many years, longer than many other friendships had.
Mrs. Jung let go of Changmin and walked up to Heechul. “With…in about an hour they will be taking him to surgery. He always wished to donate his organs, so we are going to honor his last wish.”
Ji-hye had gotten up from the small couch that she had been sitting in for the last hour with Go Ara and joined her mother. “It’s best to do it as quickly as possible, they say. All the tests have been done and there isn’t any brain activity. The Yunho we knew and loved is gone. Lots of very sick people are going to be saved thanks to Yunho. ”
“What about his heart? Is somebody getting Yunho’s heart?” Heechul asked Yunho’s younger sister, as if he had suddenly been gutted.
Ji-hye, who has been acting so mature, just froze at Heechul’s question. Her mother wrapped an arm around her daughter and answered for her, “Yes, somebody will be getting his very strong, good and kind heart.”
“Not Yunho’s heart,” Heechul said disbelievingly as if the very thought was horrific to him. Suddenly, he turned and fled the room, fighting down the urge to vomit. Sungmin took off after him, trying to drag Eunhyuk along with him, but the other man resisted and stayed in the room instead.
Eunhyuk swallowed and tried to gather his emotions as he turned to Mr. Jung who was leaning against the wall staring at his son, ignoring everything else around him. “Mr. Jung, I know I shouldn’t ask this.”
“Then don’t,” Mr. Jung told Eunhyuk stoically, his eyes never leaving his son.
“I have to. He made me promise I would. He wants to see him…he needs to see him,” Eunhyuk asked quietly as he felt all the eyes in the room suddenly on him, all except one pair that were forever closed now.
“He?” Mr. Jung asked, his tone full of scorn as he pulled away from the wall to stare down at Eunhyuk.
Eunhyuk paled. “Junsu.”
“He can rot in hell,” Changmin said, standing up, shaking with rage and grief so badly that his father stepped up to grab a hold of him to prevent him from falling. “He doesn’t get to come here and face Yunho now, when Yunho can’t even tell him…”
“Changmin, stop,” Mr. Shim said, pushing Changmin back down in his seat. “This isn’t important now. Yunho’s all that’s important now.”
“What of the other two? Can they not be bothered?” Mr. Jung asked in a cold tone, startling Eunhyuk whose eyes had locked on Changmin in all his grief.
Eunhyuk turned back around to face Yunho’s father. “Jae was in Europe skiing, Yoochun refuses to come, but Junsu is here waiting outside with the fans and he desperately needs to say goodbye.”
Mr. Jung frowned as he walked over to the window and pulled the curtain back to see a red sea of fans outside the hospital. “What a wonderful photo op for him. I am sure his mother thought of it. A perfect way for them to make sure to eliminate any negative press that might arise from Yunho dying at the hands of one of their psychotic fans. I am sure they are standing out there with the fans looking all heartbroken. I can hear his parents sharing the story of how Yunho came to live with them over and over to anybody who will listen.” Mr. Jung turned away from the window to stare at Eunhyuk. “Junsu used to be such a good kid. He had a real goodness about him. Unfortunately for him he was raised by a viper and I watched for years as she weaved her evil and greed around him.”
“But he loved Yunho, he always loved Yunho through it all…no matter what he did. He hated how it all ended, hated himself so much at times,” Eunhyuk pleaded for the chance for his friend to be able to say goodbye.
“Well, he will have to go on hating himself, because he doesn’t get any absolution today. He won’t come to my dying son and beg for forgiveness, because the moment Yunho’s brain died all chances for forgiveness were forever lost. Will you tell him that for me?” Mr. Jung told Eunhyuk.
“Yes, sir,” Eunhyuk said, shaking his head and turning around to leave the room. He had done his duty and now he had to get away, he couldn’t bear it any longer.
“Wait!” Changmin stood up from his chair, shaking less now. “Tell him... I hate him and I hate all of them, but Yunho never did. Yunho was just hurt…just so hurt and he was never the same. Even though it was him who was betrayed, he blamed himself every day, every hour, every minute, and every second of his life. That gunshot to the head was merciful, so merciful compared to what they did to him.”
“Changmin, please.” Go Ara moved closer to him, standing beside Mr. Shim. “It isn’t Eunhyuk’s fault.”
“I’m not blaming him. I am just giving him a message. I want them to know when they wheel Yunho off to surgery and cut him open they are going to find that his heart was already ripped from him a long time ago.”
“Son.” Mr. Shim squeezed his son’s shoulder, pushing him back down to the chair.
“I’m…so sorry.” Eunhyuk turned to leave the room and almost ran into Minho who had come in the room earlier unseen with his manager. Minho went directly to Changmin and embraced the other man.
“If Eunhyuk doesn’t tell them, I will. I will tell everybody who will listen,” the Shinee manager said. “Yunho was such a good person.”
Mrs. Shim, who had quietly left the room earlier, entered it again and walked over to Mrs. Jung. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”
Mrs. Jung looked at her son and back at Mrs. Shim. “It will only be for a minute,” Mrs. Shim said, pointing toward the door. Mrs. Jung nodded her head in agreement and followed Mrs. Shim until they were in a secluded corner.
“Yes?” Mrs. Jung asked, looking expectantly at Mrs. Shim, wondering what was so important that she would ask her to leave her dying son.
“Jae landed at the airport not long ago. He will be at the hospital at any moment,” Mrs. Shim told her.
“He won’t ever get on this floor. It’s private and they know not to allow Jae, Junsu, Yoochun, their friends, family or thugs any access.”
Mrs. Shim’s eyes darted away from Mrs. Jung for a second, then she sighed and questioned, “I just thought that maybe Yunho would want him to be here. Do you not think so?”
Mrs. Jung looked like she was about to be ill. “I..I…how can you ask me that? His father would never allow…”
“Your son is dying. The boy he used to love and probably never stopped loving is on his way to see him. This isn’t about your husband and what he will allow, this is about your son.”
Mrs. Jung looked like she had been physically hit. “How could he still love him? How could he? Jae went after him with a vengeance. He helped destroy Dong Bang Shin Ki. How could he still love him...how?”
“Because he knew that he drove Jae to it. Yunho knew that everything Jae ever did was in direct retaliation for Yunho not loving him enough to tell your husband to go to hell,” Mrs. Shim said ruthlessly, not sparing the grieving woman.
“You are wrong. Go Ara and my son are very serious. He didn’t care anything…for that slut in the end,” Mrs. Jung bit out hatefully, refusing to make eye contact with Mrs. Shim.
“If Changmin were dying and they wanted to see him, I would let them, even though Changmin has shown them more hate than Yunho ever dreamed of. I would let them because he is my son and I know his heart even if he doesn’t,” Mrs. Shim told Mrs. Jung, refusing to give up.
“Well that is wonderful for you, but my son’s heart is about to belong to somebody else. And as far as your son goes, my son practically raised him and took a bullet meant for him…you put Jae in that room and your son will be the first one to go after him. Some things are unforgivable…”
“I am sorry. I don’t mean to upset you,” Mrs. Shim said, deciding on another approach, but she was still desperate to let Jae and Yunho have their last goodbye. “I just remember when they used to be together, how they always glowed. I love Yunho. I love him so much and I can never thank him enough for the gift of my son’s life. I know your son is dying for mine.” Mrs. Shim stopped for a moment as a wave of grief overtook her, making her take a deep breath and swallow down her emotions. “I would just hate to think that Yunho would want Jae here and we denied him that.”
“Jae will never make it up to this floor,” Mrs. Jung reasoned as she clasped her hands together tightly.
“He will make it up here. I know he will and so do you. He won’t wait in shame in the parking lot like Junsu. He will carry his shame right up here and he will make it up here to this floor. He won’t ever make it through that crowd of mourners though. They won’t let him pass, unless he has help.”
“You think I should help him?” Mrs. Jung asked, shocked as she leaned against the wall.
“I don’t think you should base your decision on today or the past couple of years. Go back to another time. A time…”“When my son’s smile was real? When my poor boy’s desire to make his father proud hadn’t finally succeeded in making him miserable?” Mrs. Jung closed her eyes and the thoughts she had prevented herself from thinking for so long came flooding back to her.
“You need to turn around and leave. This is a very bad idea,” Kangta warned Jae as he stepped off the elevator with two guards on each side of him.
“I can’t,” Jae told him as he watched a floor full of people turned to glare at him.
“Your magic won’t work here today. We are immune, sweetie. Turn around and leave. Don’t cause a scene, please,” a stylist that had taken care of Jae years before begged him.
“I can’t,” Jae repeated, looking truly sorry. “I have to see him.”
Leeteuk stepped up. “Yunho won’t know if you are here or not, but Changmin will and he doesn’t want to see you. He doesn’t need to see you. He is taking it very hard, you will only upset him more.”
“I have to see him…Yunho. I have to.” Jae brought a hand up and squeezed the back of his neck.
A security guard stepped up. “If you make one step toward that room, we will stop you. His family gave strict orders that you were not allowed to enter.”
Jae’s guards flanked in closer to him. “I don’t want to cause a scene but I have to see him.”
Yunho’s manger stepped up with SM security surrounding him. “Then why don’t you go for it, you filthy bastard. How you have the nerve to show…”
“Enough!” Mrs. Jung ordered, breaking through the crowd and walking right up to Jae.
“Mrs. Jung,” Jae moved forward closer but avoided eye contact as much as he could.
“I am so sorry your holiday was cut short. How were the slopes?” Her eyes were like fire aimed at him and she waited for him to burn.
Jae slowly met her gaze, only hesitating for a moment. “I have to see him. Please Mrs. Jung, I am begging you.”
She studied him, hating him and the pain he had inflicted on her son. “Well we better hurry then, because they are about to wheel…my beautiful son off. They are about to take him and cut up his beautiful body…his last charitable gift.”
Jae took a step backwards, his eyes closing. She watched, waiting for him to break, but he didn’t. He opened his eyes back up and stared at her unflinchingly. “I have to see him.”
She reached out her hand and took his. “Then we better hurry,” she said, leading him through the crowd that parted for her.
When Mrs. Jung entered the room hand in hand with Jae, there were instant gasps with some cursing. “I need for everybody to leave now.”
Mr. Jung stepped up to her instantly. “Why would you bring him here? Have you lost your mind?”
“Yes, I have. My son is dying and I have lost my mind but you are going to leave now.”
“The only person leaving this room is going to be him,” Mr. Jung informed his wife while eyeing Jae with nothing but hatred.
“I have never gone against you. I have always stood by your decisions, but not now. You are going to leave this room or things will get said that can never be taken back.” Mrs. Jung reached up and grabbed her husband’s face, and made him look at her instead of Jae. “He is dying. His secrets can’t hurt him now, but they can still hurt you and your endless pride.”
Mr. Jung looked at his wife as if she was a stranger, a stranger whose threats he took seriously. “Let’s give them privacy,” Mr. Jung commanded to the room full of people.
People instantly started leaving the room, most of them looking anywhere but at Jae. Jae only stared at the man in the bed and clung to Mrs. Jung’s hand.
“Mom?” Ji-Hye asked as she stopped on her way out as the last of the people left the room. She spoke to her mother but her eyes were on Jae.
“It will be okay, just please go,” Mrs. Jung instructed her daughter, looking at her encouragingly.
“It won’t ever be okay again,” Ji-Hye told her mother as she reached over and gently brushed her hand across Jae’s back, before she left the room.
“Changmin?” Mrs. Jung asked the man who had not moved from his chair.
“I am not leaving him here with…” The amount of hate that boiled up inside of Changmin left him speechless as he glared at Jae, unable to find a proper word to describe the man.
Jae, who had remained remarkably calm so far, let go of Mrs. Jung’s hand and trembled slightly as he moved closer to the bed where Yunho laid motionless.
“No, tears Jae?” Changmin asked bitterly and Jae’s focus turned to the boy who used to adore him. “No cameras, huh? No reason to act heartbroken? I am sure you will cry plenty in the months and years ahead when you retell the story of yours and Yunho’s last meeting for captive audiences.”
“Changmin,” Jae pleaded as he swayed and grabbed the footboard of the bed to steady himself.
“It’s best that you don’t inflict upon us any of your fake tears from your fake eyes because I will beat the hell out of you if you do.”
“Just calm down,” Mrs. Jung said, walking over to the younger man so she was standing between them.
“And all the plastic surgeons in the world won’t be able to make you beautiful again, after I’m done with you,” Changmin said, smiling bitterly at Jae as the other man just stared back at him without words. “You know she had your shirt on? Probably why she caught Yunho’s attention.”
Jae dropped to the floor suddenly as his legs gave out at that last bit of information.
“Changmin, nothing else from you! I mean it! You two have the rest of your lives to settle this, now isn’t the time,” Mrs. Jung said, laying a comforting arm on Changmin.
Changmin’s body was rocked with sorrow. “Unlike Yunho, who has nothing ahead of him. His time is all gone now.”
“I know, honey. I know,” Mrs. Jung said, unable to fight back her own tears as Changmin let go of Yunho’s hand and embraced Mrs. Jung, sobbing uncontrollably.
Jae sat on the floor trying to will his legs to work as he listened to Yunho’s mother and Changmin crying. He had to get up, there wasn’t much time left. With a strength that he didn’t know he still possessed, he stood up. Jae made his way slowly up to the front of the bed and gently took Yunho’s lifeless hand.
Changmin pulled away from Mrs. Jung as the both of them focused on Jae, who just stood there frozen in place as he stared at Yunho.
“Whatever you have to say, hurry up and say it. It’s getting close….they will be here for him soon. His father and sister need one last goodbye,” Mrs. Jung said, walking away from Changmin and toward the door.
Jae nodded his head in understanding. He bent forward and leaned into Yunho’s ear, and whispered, “Yunho, it’s me, Jae. You should know that if you die, I will go to the roof of this hospital and fling myself off into the biggest crowd of fans I can find. I promise you this.”
“What the hell?” Changmin, who had been listening, demanded as he lunged across the bed to attack Jae. Jae’s eyes never left Yunho as he fainted, falling to the floor before Changmin could reach him.
“Changmin!” Mrs. Jung screamed. “His eyes are open.”