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 MILLION thanks to Amy! I am so very grateful to all you wonderful people who take the time to comment!
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.
“I can’t believe I am here…wearing this?” Jae said with obvious disgust as he looked down at the sweatshirt he had been wearing for days; ever since Heechul and he had showed up at Clear Creek that night. He had been out of his mind that night but somehow Ryeowook had gotten him out of his bloody clothes and got him in jeans and the sweatshirt.
“Least it isn’t covered in blood and your face looks better.” Ryeowook said from beside Jae. They were on a stage in the main conference room of the hospital getting ready for the press conference to begin. They sat in the front row with reporters swarming in front of them like angry bees.
“That’s Yunho’s shirt.” Changmin who sat on the other side of Jae informed him trying his best not to snarl.
“What are you Yunho’s clothes police?” Jae snapped back at him, but then added curiously, “how do you know this is Yunho’s shirt?”
“It’s from Homin fans I have one just like it.” Changmin informed him.
“I knew there was a reason I never stole this shirt before! It was forced on me.” Jae exclaimed gritting his teeth, and then immediately regretting it when pain shot through his jaw he reached up to touch his tender face.
“It was a gift from fans of high intelligence of course you wouldn’t like it.” Changmin told him snottily.
“You left out cheap!” Jae growled back at him. “My fans would never insult me by giving me anything of such low quality. They are more…”
“More into target practice.” Changmin interrupted and glared back at Jae. Jae just stared back at him dumbfounded unable to speak.
“You two need to stop! The reporters are watching you…can’t you play nice for Yunho’s sake?” Kyuhyun pleaded from the other side of
“Kyuhyun’s right! Why can’t you two be happy? Yunho has survived immeasurable odds again and he loves you both.” Ryeowook chastised from beside Jae.
“I will try harder.” Changmin said folding his arms and leaning back in his chair and stretching out his long legs in front him.
“What are Heechul and Yunho talking about?” Jae asked changing the subject. It bothered him that Yunho had insisted on talking to Heechul alone before the press conference.
“I don’t know anymore than you do.” Changmin said from the other side of Jae trying to be civil.
“You lie. I saw the look you two shared. Since I am here looking like death warmed over and probably loosing thousands of fans by the minute you could at least tell me what they are up to.”
Changmin sighed and gritted his teeth, “The majority of your fans will not even notice how you look. They see the image of you they have created in their mind it has nothing to do with the reality of what you really look like.”
Jae didn’t have time to reply when Heechul appeared suddenly motioning for Ryeowook to scoot down as he sat between Ryeowook and Jae. “Changmin speaks the truth. Your fans have selective eyesight. You are the envy of all your fellow idols. I am truly envious I must admit. I have seen pictures of you wasted, hungover and so thin your nose stuck out like the wicked witches and still all your fans talk about is your flawless skin and ethereal beauty.”
“So true. If I hadn’t hit him in public they would never notice the bruises at all.” Changmin agreed with Heechul.
“For Yunho. For Yunho. For Yunho. For Yunho.” Jae chanted over and over fighting the urge to flee from the two of them.
“You two are too much! Jae is beautiful.” Ryeowook told them reaching over Heechul to pat Jae’s leg.
“For Yunho. For Yunho. For Yunho. For Yunho.” Jae continued but he did take Ryeowook’s hand and squeeze it quickly before letting go of it.
“I wasn’t insulting him. Who wouldn’t want fans like that?” Heechul told them sounding truly envious.
“You can’t have any so there.” Jae told Heechul glaring at him. “They are all mine…and my nose never stuck out!”
“Don’t be so testy especially since I am here to save the day.” Heechul told him with a sweet smile as he reached an arm around Jae and then whispered, “Smile Jae. Look at Changmin like you adore him. We are all one big, happy family.”
“We are not family!” Jae somehow managed to sneer at Changmin with his injured face.
“Tiss! Tiss! Just because Changmin chose daddy in the divorce doesn’t mean you have to be so mean to your only son. At least the two girls chose you.” Heechul told him not removing his arm from around Jae’s shoulder.
Jae immediately brightened as he always did when anyone referred to Dong Bang Shin Ki as a family. Jae turned to look at Changmin his look much softer as he thought back to the days when Changmin was so young and was always referred to as Yunjae’s child by the fans.
Changmin sat up instantly noticing that old familiar look of fondness in Jae’s eyes, “Hey! Let’s not start with any of that.”
“I miss those days.” Jae lamented as he leaned back in his chair and managed a small smile without triggering excruciating pain. His face really did feel better today but he was not admitting this to Changmin.
“You left us.” Changmin accused as he pulled his legs up out of the way of people walking up on the stage.
Jae’s smile disappeared, “Excuse me? Your father left me.”
“He did what he had to do. He did what he thought was best…like he always does.” Changmin said defending Yunho.
“It wasn’t best for me.” Jae snapped back raising his voice enough to cause the SM staff on the stage to give him a disapproving stare.
“So to hell with the rest of the world as long as Jae is happy? You’re such a selfish….” Changmin gritted his teeth together stopping himself from insulting Jae further.
“I know! I know I am selfish but do you realize you’re spiteful, unforgiving, angry, introverted, little snot!” Jae stopped fuming as Heechul pulled him closer and whispered in his ear.
“Soon the press conference will start and per Yunho’s request I am supposed to get up there and interrupt them; to tell them a story about a man who woke up to total weakness and recovered his strength with the help of a very dear friend that he had thought he had lost forever.”
“Really.” Jae whispered turning to look at Heechul.
“Yes, but you have to handle Changmin better…you are his Hyung, him and Yunho are a packaged deal. You can’t have one without the other.” Heechul told Jae completely serious looking him straight in the eye willing Jae to understand.
Jae nodded his head in agreement as the lights in the room dimmed. The screen behind them came alive and everybody turned to watch as footage of Yunho’s life before the shooting played out on the screen behind them.
Jae felt tears forming in his eyes as he watched the earliest videos of Yunho during his trainee days. Jae’s heart swelled as he remembered the Yunho from back then so good hearted and determined to succeed. Boa had been right he had loved him instantly; nobody else would ever compare to Yunho in Jae’s heart.
The pain of the loss shot through his swollen heart as the golden years of Dong Bang Shin Ki played out on the screen…when Yunho had been the happiest. Jae watched the footage of Yunho with all the members and with the fans. Jae wished like mad he could go back in time to that most perfect time when his love was returned.
Then the footage changed again and bitterness took root in Jae’s heart as he watched the years after he had left Dong Bang Shin Ki play out on the screen. How he envied Changmin for remaining by his Yunho’s side. Jae had lost so much time that he could never get back.
Jae gasped in shock when the footage changed to that day on the stage as SM rewarded Yunho and Changmin with stock. Jae turned around quickly refusing to watch that ultimate act of love and sacrifice…sacrifice for Changmin. Jae turned to look at Changmin and any anger he had for him fell away. He watched Changmin with his eyes fixated to the screen filled full of horror and guilt as he watched Yunho push him out of the way and take the bullet meant for him.
Jae instinctively reached out and grabbed Changmin’s hand and held it tightly. How Changmin had ever lived with this weight Jae did not know. What scars did Changmin have that were hidden away from the world? Jae felt tears running down his damaged face as he stared at Changmin knowing they were forever bound together by their shared love for Yunho.
The lights came back on and Jae watched as Changmin blinked his eyes battling with his emotions that were trying to overwhelm him. Changmin slowly turned back around and his eyes looked down at Jae’s hand holding his own and he didn’t pull away instead he turned to look at Jae with a questioning gaze.
Jae swallowed and told him, “I am so sorry.” He wasn’t sure what he was sorry for but he knew he felt consumed with sorrow for everything that had led them to this place.
“It wasn’t your fault…it was mine.” Changmin explained with a shaky voice as he pulled his hand away to stare out at the reporters who were taking picture after picture of them.
Jae opened his mouth to tell Changmin it wasn’t his fault when the CEO of SM Entertainment stepped up to the podium and started talking. Jae fought to keep from frowning and showing his hatred of the man who had caused him so much grief.
The CEO handed the podium over to the main neurosurgeon in charge of Yunho’s care and Jae listened to the man as he described only what he would call a miracle. He called Yunho a miracle and stated his recovery was beyond any science he understood. Jae smiled that was his Yunho; defying all odds Jae had tried to tell them, but some people just had to see things with their own eyes.
The neurosurgeon stepped down and Yunho’s father stepped up to talk. Jae covered his face with his hands to keep from showing his hatred for the man that had taken Yunho from him. To Jae’s surprise at this time Heechul got up out of his seat and walked up to the podium and bowed to Mr. Jung and apologized explaining he had special instructions from Yunho to be his voice.
Jae sat there amazed as Heechul told the story of how he had first found Yunho. Heechul spoke of how he had been witness to Yunho’s fight to reclaim all that was lost to him. He spoke of a weak Yunho who could barely move to the man who steadily regained the use of his legs with his pure determination. He spoke of Yunho’s pride and how he had decided to keep his recovery a secret till he could greet his loved ones on his own two feet. Heechul did not fail to mention Jae to the shock of everybody in the room. He spoke of their strained friendship before the shooting but how Jae had never failed to visit Yunho at Clear Creek and how it was Jae that had discovered that Yunho’s mind had returned to him. He spoke of their renewed friendship and how Jae had kept Yunho’s secret at Yunho’s request. Jae felt tears forming in his eyes as Heechul went on to share what a great help and comfort Jae had been to Yunho during his recovery.
“He isn’t being very Yunho like.” Changmin heard Ji-Hye tell the nurse who sat Yunho’s lunch tray up in front of Yunho as he walked into the room. “Normally he is the nicest person you will ever meet. Not rude like this.”
“I’m nice.” Yunho told her as he his mouth dropped open shocked that his sister would accuse him of being rude. “I just don’t feel like eating.”
“Changmin! You are back! I am so glad! Yunho is driving me mad!” Ji-Hye said in relief as Changmin walked into the room. “I am going to go find mom. He is all yours.” Ji-Hye said hurrying out of the room.
“How did it go?” Yunho immediately questioned. He was back in the bed with his untouched tray in front of him that the nurse has left.
“Well nobody got shot so it was an improvement.” Heechul said following Changmin into the room.
“So not funny…but I’m really relieved.” Yunho told Heechul who walked over to him and looked at his tray.
“Green Jell-O I am so jealous.” Heechul told him as he picked up a mug from Yunho’s plate and sniffed. “Broth? Yummy.”
“Feel free to have it all,” Yunho said looking around Heechul toward the door. “Where is Jae?”
“Some goons grabbed him after the press conference and hauled him off.” Heechul told Yunho as he sat the broth back down.
Yunho immediately looked alarmed and Changmin quickly added, “They were staff from his company. He went willingly.”
“Oh,” Yunho replied unable to hide his disappointment which caused Changmin to roll his eyes. Yunho quickly added before Changmin could comment on his disappointment. “Well how did it go then?”
“Well I feel filthy after saying such nice things about Jae. I think the managers are having a meeting with the CEO to see how they can best dispose of my body.” Heechul told Yunho only half joking.
“You will be fine. It’s best this way. The fact that Jae was with me was going to leak out…too many people knew about it. What about Changmin and Jae did they behave?” Yunho asked Heechul eager to find out how the press conference went.
“We behaved just fine.” Changmin answered for Heechul annoyed that Yunho was asking Heechul how he behaved.
“They even held hands at one point.” Heechul told Yunho but couldn’t help but grin at Changmin.
Changmin turned red causing Yunho to smile and ask, “Really?”
“No, yes…I had a momentarily weak moment and he was putting on a show for the reporters.” Changmin said not wanting to explain to Yunho the moment he shared with Jae after witnessing Yunho getting shot again on the screen.
“Good! I hope he put on an excellent show. I want you safe.” Yunho told Changmin firmly.
“Well I think it went well. I was masterful I might add. Your dad looked like he wanted to hit me at first but after I was done they were all weepy eyed and eating out of my hand.” Heechul told Yunho as he took a seat in one of the chairs in the room.
“Of course, I never doubted your wonderfulness for a second.” Yunho told him with a huge smile.
“You look better…cleaner?” Changmin pointed out from the foot of the bed where he stood watching Yunho.
Yunho immediately frowned as the memories of the sponge bath he was subjected to flooded back to him. “Let’s not talk about that.”
“Why Yunnie? Did somebody get a bath? Was it pretty boys or girls? Which one of the two are you favoring these days?” Heechul asked sensing Yunho’s discomfort and latching on to it.
Yunho leaned his head back against the pillow and moaned, “Heechul, don’t start with me.”
“Come on Yunho, enquiring minds want to know.” Heechul teased continuing to give Yunho hell.
“I don’t want to know.” Changmin said with a frown of disgust as he leaned against the wall.
“Children never want to know about their parent’s sex lives.” Heechul said smirking loving the irritated looks Yunho and Changmin were both sending his way.
“Can you stop with that? I mean really? He is two years older than me he is hardly old enough to be my father! Also Jae is most certainly not my mother! To refer to Jae as my mother…that is an insult to my real mother!” Changmin told Heechul giving him his frostiest glare…that of course had no affect on Heechul.
“You have so many mommy issues.” Heechul smirked and told Changmin. “Have you ever read that ancient Greek tale about…”
“I will hit you.” Changmin interrupted and threatened.
“Such violence!” Heechul chastised and scooted further down in the chair.
“Changmin, there will be no more hitting” Yunho scolded as he picked up the spoon off his tray and pointed it at Changmin.
“I wasn’t really going to hit him!” Changmin told Yunho open jawed. “I would never hit him. I only hit Jae…because he deserved it.”
“Changmin! You should not have hit him.” Yunho sighed and told him as he put his spoon back down without touching the Jell-O.
“I regret upsetting you…I do not regret hitting him.” The look Yunho gave Changmin made him add quickly. “I regret hitting him so hard.”
“He would never have hit you.” Yunho told him.
“Well duh, who would hit Changmin? He is like seven foot tall and hangs out in a boxing ring for fun.” Heechul couldn’t help but chirp in.
“That wasn’t what I meant!” Yunho told Heechul but he couldn’t help but laugh.
“He was…” Heechul stopped as his phone started ringing. He looked at the number and scrunched his eyebrows but didn’t answer the phone. “I need to take a picture with you and post it to Twitter right now.”
“Okay.” Yunho said sensing that Heechul had a plan.
“The powers that be are calling for me and I think before I meet with them I should have a nice picture of me with the reigning martyr of South Korea floating around the Internet.” Heechul said as he thrust his phone in Changmin’s hand as he walked over to the bed and maneuvered his way around Yunho’s IV tubing so he could get in close and put an arm around Yunho. “You should look sick.”
“If I got anymore sick I would probably be dead.” Yunho told him deadpan as Heechul messed up Yunho’s freshly washed hair.
“I am going to move the tray. It makes you like you are doing better if you can eat.” Changmin said as he moved the tray out of the way. “Now look pitiful. Remember you are protecting Heechul’s career.” Changmin told them as he stepped to the foot of the bed to take the picture.
“Too bad I can’t vomit, start bleeding, or better yet have another seizure for you.” Yunho told them sarcastically.
“Yeah, too bad.” Heechul replied back to him just as sarcastically.
“What the hell is going on here?” Jae demanded as he walked through the door and overheard them.
“We are using Yunho’s pitiful, physical state to keep Heechul out of trouble. Can you move over to the side? I am trying to take picture.” Changmin explained. “Yunho, pay attention.”
Yunho whose attention was now on Jae asked, “I thought you left with the goons?”
Jae walked over to the tray that was pushed away from the bed to give it a look and then he replied, “I had to lull them into a sense of false security so I could escape them.” Jae explained as he peered at the tray. “They have you on liquids already. That’s great news.”
“Spoken by somebody who doesn’t have to eat it.” Yunho told Jae ignoring Changmin and Heechul to focus completely on Jae.
“Excuse me? Remember me? Your greatest ally? I need your help. Can you please focus for the picture?” An exasperated Heechul told Yunho as he tugged on Yunho’s earlobe.
“Stop it!” Yunho said pulling his ear away from Heechul and turning back around to focus on Changmin with the camera.
“Wait!” Heechul said throwing up his hand quickly! “Jae, you should totally get in the picture too!”
“Hell no! My poor battered face and not to mention this monstrosity of a shirt has been seen enough today thank you very much!” Jae sneered moving away from the bed.
“Fine! What was I thinking? The first picture of Yunho since the shooting…should just be the two of us.” Heechul said moving in closer to Yunho and wrapping his arm tightly around his neck.
“Why exactly are you trying to break his neck?” Jae said immediately walking closer to the bed aggravated that Heechul had his hands on Yunho.
“It is a brotherly embrace….well maybe not entirely brotherly.” Heechul said winking at Jae attempting to aggravate him further and succeeding easily.
Jae’s eyes took on a green tint as he sat down on the bed beside Yunho on the opposite side of Heechul. “Why exactly do you want me in this picture?”
“I want to verify for all the fans that I was only voicing Yunho’s words for him. Plus, I wouldn’t mind my Twitter being credited with the first picture of Jae and Yunho together since…what did you say three years, eleven months, three weeks….or are we up to four years now?” Heechul delighting in telling Jae and watching Jae’s eyes widen.
“It hasn’t been that long since we took a picture together.” Yunho told Heechul innocently unaware of what the older man was actually referencing.
“Feels longer though doesn’t it?” Jae replied dismally causing Heechul to grin. “I guess I will oblige Heechul this once…he is proving to be useful.” Jae said as he pushed Heechul’s arm away from Yunho’s neck.
“I am not taking any gay picture so try to pose respectfully.” Changmin told them annoyed.
“Changmin…” Yunho warned.
“Some of my fans aren’t going to like this picture though.” Jae informed them as he leaned into Yunho.
“They won’t know what to think of it. Yunho has been the big, evil for so long.” Heechul said leaning into the other side of Yunho.
“I was still the big evil after I got shot?” Yunho said frowning seriously he thought you could never please some people.
“Idiot.” Jae said as he gave Yunho a gentle pat on the head. “They won’t like Heechul in it.”
“Oh, I am pretty sure your JaeSu fans won’t like this picture.” Heechul said wickedly causing Jae to glare at him over Yunho’s head.
“Hey look at the camera quick! Yunho has that ‘I am going to vomit’ look from earlier! This is perfect for the picture.” Changmin said snapping the picture quickly as Heechul and Jae both turned to stare at him.
“Which was my plan all a long.” Heechul said jumping up to look at the picture that Changmin had just taken with his phone. “Oh, it’s perfect!”
“Of course it is.” Changmin told him unsurprised at his amazing photography skills.
Jae had not moved from his spot beside Yunho still not sure how to handle the JaeSu mention.
“Changmin, you can have my tray.” Yunho told Changmin trying to block the thought of Jae and Junsu from his mind as he noticed the younger man eyeing his green Jell-O.
“You sure?” Changmin asked moving toward the tray.
“No!” Jae said jumping up and grabbing the tray and pushing it back in front of Yunho. “You have to eat.”
“No, I really don’t.” Yunho said eyeing the tray distastefully.
“You are such a picky eater! You need nourishment. Do you know how many nutritionists I have had to listen to in this last year? You are going to eat even if I have to feed you.” Jae informed Yunho as he scooped up a spoonful of Jell-O and thrust it in Yunho’s mouth.
Heechul smirked as he watched Jae force feed Yunho. “You two are so married.”
“Heech…” Yunho started to protest but Jae just stuck another spoonful of Jell-O into his mouth.
“An old married couple that doesn’t have sex, but still married.” Heechul told them as he headed toward the door. “I am off to drive bigwigs crazy.”
“Stop it!’ Yunho said reaching up to grab Jae’s hand with his left hand before he could stuff more Jell-O in his mouth. “Heechul, if they give you a hard time let me know.”
“Why should he let you know? So you can yell at them from your hospital bed? You need to focus on your recovery then you can be Heechul’s savior.” Jae snapped as he pulled his hand away from Yunho’s and grabbed for the cup of broth.
“This is so fucked up.” Changmin mumbled under his breath as he watched Jae force Yunho to drink the chicken broth.
Heechul laughed at Changmin as he headed out the door, “You could always come with me.”
“Happily.” Changmin said as he hurried out of the room. Changmin was eager to escape that easy, old familiar feeling that had started to form deep inside of him after seeing Jae and Yunho together so naturally.