Fragile Essence, Chapter Two

Fragile Essence
Chapter:  Two
Author: Aquariuslover
Pairings: Yunho, Jaejoong
Rating: R
Genre: Romance, Angst, AU
Length: Chaptered
Beta: tahoeturquoise

Summary: Jaejoong, the half Korean child nobody wanted, and Yunho, the beloved golden son of a town, form an unlikely bond; one that is forever evolving through the passing years as it is repeatedly tested by love, loss, and fire. This is part one of their story.

Author’s Note: This story is set in an alternate universe, in an imaginary town, and during an ambiguous time period.  This story is also where my love for old, cheesy music is allowed to soar.

Chapter List

“JJ, what are you doing?” Mrs. Jung asked as she found him crouching behind the cabinets in her kitchen.

“Hiding from Yunho,” Jaejoong confessed honestly.

“Why are you hiding from Yunho?” Mrs. Jung asked as she tied an apron around her waist.

“He wants to play ball. John and DongWoo are over, and he wants me to play with them,” Jaejoong answered, still hiding behind the cabinets. Jaejoong knew the kitchen was an excellent hiding place; Yunho usually only went in the kitchen to eat. His mother was always teasing him about teaching him how to cook, which horrified her son.

“Oh, you don’t like to play ball?”

“No, I’m not good at it. Yunho tries to teach me, but I’m too clumsy, and he won’t give up.”

Mrs. Jung started getting bowls and ingredients down from her cabinets. “No, he wouldn’t give up. He’s very stubborn. He gets that from his father.”

“I don’t want to make him mad.”

“Angel, he won’t be mad at you. He never gets mad at you. I think Yunho feels that if you knew how to play ball…things would be easier for you. Plus, you are his best friend and he wants you to be with him,” Mrs. Jung explained as she reached out and ran her hand through Jaejoong’s hair.

Jaejoong felt as if his heart had stopped and then started again, beating much too quickly. Another voice from long ago echoed in his ears.

“JJ, are you okay?”

He looked up at her, trying his best not to cry. “I’m okay.”

She knelt down beside him and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“My mom…she used to always call me Angel when…when she still wanted to see me…before I got too old,” Jaejoong explained, trying his best to hold back his tears. His grandmother had made him promise not to cry when he had come to Red Fern.

Mrs. Jung swept him into her arms, apologizing, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay…I don’t mind,” Jaejoong said, sniffling; overwhelmed with being hugged. Mrs. Jung was the only adult to ever hug him. Aunt Bessie sometimes kissed his forehead when he made her proud, but she didn’t hug him. His teacher, Mrs. Sparrow, sometimes patted his cheek and wrapped her arm around him. Yunho would tackle him with hugs when he got excited, especially after winning at sports. But Mrs. Jung’s hugs were always special. They were so warm, much like her son’s, and they always made him feel like a kid. Sometimes Jaejoong didn’t feel like a kid at all, but with Mrs. Jung he always felt like a kid.

Mrs. Jung pulled away from him, reaching out to wipe Jaejoong’s wet cheeks and asked, “I heard you used to cook for your grandmother?”

He nodded his head. “I always made her breakfast.”

“Do you not cook for you aunt?”

“No, I only know how to make breakfast and she says she has to have her cereal…she says fiber is very important.”

Mrs. Jung chuckled. “Indeed it is.”

“I don’t like her cereal, though,” Jaejoong said, frowning. “It tastes like sticks.”

Mrs. Jung took both of Jaejoong’s hands and stood up. “You know, I’m a chef.”

“You have a restaurant.”

“We do, but I am most famous for the sweets I make. I love to bake. Baking is good for the soul.”

“I never baked before. I only fried eggs and made toast.”

Mrs. Jung squeezed his hands. “Do you want to learn how to bake?”

Jaejoong’s eyes lit up, and he excitedly told her, “Yes, my grandmother said I should become a cook, because I’m not that smart.”

Mrs. Jung tried not to frown as she told Jaejoong, “Someday, I really want to meet your grandmother. I have a few things I can’t wait to tell her.”

“Maybe if you go to Florida you can see her,” Jaejoong offered helpfully.

“Isn’t she ever going to visit you?”


Mrs. Jung huffed, let go of Jaejoong’s hands, and went to a drawer and pulled out another apron. “I don’t understand some people…I am going to teach you how to cook. I am going to teach you everything I know.”

Jaejoong took the apron she handed him. “Thank you!”

“You are welcome, you sweet, precious boy,” Mrs. Jung told him. “The most important thing to know about cooking is that you must cook with love. Imagine the people you love most, and always envision you are cooking for them.”

“What are we going to make?”

“Well the church is having a bake sale, so I am going to make dozens and dozens of cookies and some pies, but the topper is going to be my famous Red Velvet Cake.”

“What are you doing to my friend?” Yunho, who had silently entered the kitchen, demanded. He was appalled at the sight of Jaejoong in an apron. “Why are you making him wear that?”

“I am going to teach him how to cook.”

“Mom, you can’t!” Yunho exclaimed, horrified.

Mrs. Jung reached out and gently thumped her son’s forehead. “I have to have a helper. JJ is sacrificing himself so you will be spared.”

Yunho looked at Jaejoong, aghast. “You don’t have to do this for me.”

“It’s okay,” Jaejoong told him, trying his best not to smile. “If Aunt Bessie gets sick again I will know how to cook for her.”

“Mom will cook for her if she gets sick,” Yunho said, volunteering his mother.

Mrs. Jung struggled not to laugh at her childish son. “If you don’t go play ball, I am going to draft you to help me, too. I have an extra apron just for you.”

Yunho took a step back, afraid. “But Mom, you can’t be so mean to him.”

“She isn’t being mean,” Jaejoong told Yunho.

“Yes, she is!” Yunho insisted as he backed out of the kitchen before his mother could put an apron on him. “I am telling Dad!”


“You have to swim! A boy should know how to swim!” Mr. Jung proclaimed, waving his arms, trying to get Jaejoong excited as he stood in the water. “Swimming is great fun! Good exercise, too!”

Yunho, who was standing beside his father, smirked while holding out his hands imitating his father’s round belly and smarted off, “Dad could use some exercise.”

“You rotten little rascal, I’m not fat. I am healthy,” Mr. Jung exclaimed, reaching out to gently swipe at his son’s head. Yunho easily evaded his father.

They were at Lake Ultra, at the Jung cabin. Mr. Jung had gotten it in his mind that it was his civic duty to instruct Jaejoong on how to swim. Jaejoong had gotten knee deep in the water and come to a sudden stop. “I don’t really like the water,” Jaejoong tried to explain.

Yunho started making chicken noises, while flapping his arms like wings.

“Yunho, you behave yourself,” Mr. Jung ordered, looking at Jaejoong with determination. “It’s important to know how to swim. What if you are on a boat one day and it sinks?”

“I won’t get on a boat.”

Mr. Jung frowned slightly and then asked, “What if there is a flashflood?”

“I will live on a mountain.”

“Are you smart-mouthing me?” Mr. Jung asked, confused. His own son was a sharp tongued devil that loved to rile him, but Jaejoong was always so soft spoken and nice.

Jaejoong quickly shook his head.

“He’s just a scaredy cat,” Yunho supplied for his father’s benefit as he eyed the clear water for fish. Yunho eagerly wanted to catch a fish with only his bare hands.

Mr. Jung nodded his head, understanding the problem. “I won’t let you drown. I promise. I will teach you how to swim.”

Jaejoong swallowed nervously and bravely took a step closer to Mr. Jung. “I…I…I just…I will try.”

“You will have so much more fun at church camp if you know how to swim. This way you can swim with the other boys,” Mr. Jung said, full of encouragement.

“He’s not going to church camp. His aunt won’t let him,” Yunho enthusiastically told his father. “She says church camp is full of pedophiles.”

Mr. Jung’s mouth gaped open and he turned to stare at his son in shock.

Yunho’s eyes gleamed with mischief. “What’s a pedophile, Daddy?”

Jaejoong groaned, remembering Yunho had already asked Aunt Bessie that very same question. Aunt Bessie, who was often warning Jaejoong of the evil some men did to pretty boys like him, happily explained to Yunho that they were perverts that liked children.

“That…that…that…” Mr. Jung sputtered, unable to make words come out of his mouth.

“Yunho!” Jaejoong yelled, chastising his friend. “You know they are perverts. Aunt Bessie told you they were perverts.”

Yunho puffed up like a toad, crossing his arms; angry that Jaejoong had ruined his fun. Riling up his father was one of Yunho’s favorite things in the world to do.

Mr. Jung nodded his head quickly and agreed, “Yes, they are perverts. Terrible people…very terrible people…they are all bound for hell. If anybody ever touches either one of you or makes you feel uncomfortable…you come tell me…no matter what they say.”

“Aunt Bessie also said they were mostly Sunday School teachers,” Yunho added, waiting for his father’s head to explode. “I don’t know why I have to go to Sunday School! Why do you want me hanging out with pedophiles?”

Mr. Jung turned bright red and pointed at Yunho. “She is not your aunt! Sunday School teachers are not pedophiles! That woman just hates the church. I am going to have a talk with her.”

Jaejoong turned around and eyed the beach longingly. Mrs. Jung was supposed to be on her way from their cabin, and he knew she would have mercy on him. He wasn’t upset by what Mr. Jung said about his Aunt Bessie. Mr. Jung and his Aunt Bessie fought all the time. He was a deacon of his church, and she never spared him her low opinion of church followers.

“I think she is right,” Yunho was telling his father. “I think I should get to stay with Jaejoong on Sundays, and Wednesdays too! I don’t want to go back to church! I want to be a heathen, too!”

“Yunho, I am going to ground you till you are eighty years old!’ Mr. Jung declared, chasing after his son in the water. “JJ is not a heathen, you heartless brat.”

“That isn’t what Mrs. Carter said,” Yunho replied, splashing water at his father. Yunho and Jaejoong had had the heathen discussion many times, and while Yunho’s father was flabbergasted at his son’s rude behavior, Jaejoong just eyed the water for snakes, not the least bit bothered.

“That woman is not a true Christian, she has an evil heart!”

“Mrs. Carter has an evil heart?” Yunho questioned. “Is that what you said, Dad?”

“I…umm…forget I said that.”

“Nope, I don’t think I will—oh, look fish!” Yunho cried out with excitement and dove under the water as he caught sight of a school of fish swimming near by.

Mr. Jung sighed in relief, happy that his ornery son was distracted. He looked at Jaejoong and asked, “How do you put up with him?”

Jaejoong smiled at Mr. Jung. “He’s not that bad.”

“He is! I am going to have so much gray hair by the time I am forty.”

Jaejoong just smiled at his friend’s father.

Mr. Jung rubbed his hands together and stated firmly, “JJ, it’s time for us to get serious. Swimming is an important skill, and I just don’t feel comfortable with you not knowing how. I am a great teacher. Look at Yunho; he swims like a fish.”

Jaejoong swallowed nervously, watching Yunho, who was bobbing in and out of the water trying to catch fish. “He’s good at everything.”

“Not everything,” Mr. Jung told Jaejoong. “He is a quick learner, but you mustn’t compare yourself to him. Yunho learned how to swim and so will you.”

Yunho, who had overheard his father, cheekily hollered, “I had to learn! We were on a boat in the deep water and…and there were sharks! He threw me in the water and told me to swim or die!”

Mr. Jung took off after Yunho bellowing, “Where do you come up with this? You…you little ingrate!”

                                                                                Ten years earlier

“No, no no!”

“Yes, yes, yes!”

Jaejoong tried to squirm out of Yunho’s grasp. “Don’t bully me!”

“I’m not bullying you!”

“Yes, you are!”

“Rob, come help me,” Yunho hollered at his red headed friend. “We are going to teach Jaejoong how to skate!”

“No, you are not!” Jaejoong protested, trying to sit down on the floor of the skating rink. Yunho had tricked him into putting the skates on, but Jaejoong would not step onto the skating rink willingly. Jaejoong was a horrible klutz even barefooted; he could only imagine what he would be like with roller skates attached to his feet.

“Rob!” Yunho yelled again, trying his best to keep Jaejoong upright.

Rob reluctantly grabbed Jaejoong’s other arm. “Yunho, you should be skating with Jennifer; she’s eyeing you, man.”

“No, we are going to teach Jaejoong how to skate,” Yunho persisted as he and Rob dragged Jaejoong toward the skating rink. “He got out of coming last year by pretending his aunt was sick.”

“She was sick!” Jaejoong protested. Yunho had been watching him like a hawk since the school had announced the annual skating trip. Jaejoong was convinced that he had conspired with Aunt Bessie to make sure Jaejoong didn’t weasel out of going. “Yunho, don’t. Please don’t. What if I break my leg, my arm, or my neck? Won’t you feel bad?”

“I’ll feel terrible,” Yunho told him as they entered the skating rink. “Just hold on to me and Rob and try to stay balanced.”

Jaejoong clutched on to Rob and Yunho tightly, causing Rob to wince as Jaejoong’s fingernails dug into the other boy’s arms. “I can barely stay balanced when I walk!”

“This is true,” Rob agreed, commenting on Jaejoong perpetual state of clumsiness while trying to pry Jaejoong’s hand off his arm. “Dude, your fingernails are sharper than my mom’s.”

“It’s not my fault! I don’t want to do this,” Jaejoong shrieked, trying to loosen his grip on Rob while also trying to not completely freak out…and failing miserably.

Yunho pulled Jaejoong’s hand free from his arm and grasped his hand. “Just calm down, and hold Rob’s hand like this.”

“Dude, you want us to hold hands? Isn’t that a little girly?” Rob asked, disliking the idea instantly.

“Don’t make me kick your butt,” Yunho threatened. “It will be easier for us and him if we hold hands.”

Rob did as Yunho instructed, but grumbled, “Yunho, you are such a shit, sometimes.”

“The lights are making me dizzy,” Jaejoong complained as he watched the disco lights and mirror balls illuminate the rink.

“I don’t care,” Yunho informed him, not falling for any of his tricks. “You are going to learn how to skate.”

Jaejoong’s eyes, which were glued to the floor in front of him, sighed. He knew openly challenging Yunho was not the way to get him to back down. If he ever hoped to get to solid ground again, he’d have to relent. “Okay, I will try.”

Yunho smiled brightly, knowing he had won. “That’s better.”

Jaejoong lifted his eyes from the floor, and tried to relax as he allowed Yunho and Rob to guide him around the rink. He had to admit it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be, and he liked the music.

“Hey, I think you are getting the hang of it,” Rob told Jaejoong.

“Thanks,” he told him as he turned toward Yunho to see if the other boy would also praise him. Jaejoong found Yunho’s eyes glued on Phillip Morris, who was dancing for a group of girls at the side of the rink. Jaejoong felt a pang shoot through his heart.

Yunho stopped them, declaring, “I can dance so much better than him. I can skate dance.”

“No, way dude,” Rob said, daring Yunho. “Show me.”

Yunho confidently told Rob, “Hold on to him, and I will show you.” Jaejoong and Rob both struggled to stay upright as Yunho suddenly let go of Jaejoong. “Jaejoong! Be still, just hold on to Rob,” Yunho instructed Jaejoong, who had started flapping his arms. “Stop freaking out.”

Jaejoong tried to do as Yunho instructed but he found himself clinging to Rob with both hand, now. Sometimes Yunho really made him mad.

“Look,” Yunho told them as he started dancing on his rolling skates. It didn’t take long before he was the center of attention, Phillip Morris forgotten. A few girls whistled, highly impressed, and some of the boys stopped to admire his dancing skills. Yunho basked in their attention, doing moves that most couldn’t master on solid ground.

Jaejoong, who was clinging to Rob, had dark thoughts about tripping his best friend, but quickly stopped. He reminded himself that Yunho was his best friend, who just happened to be a big showoff.

“Hey, Rob, you have a new girlfriend? You two should get a room,” Snotty Bobby could be heard saying. Snotty Bobby was in Yunho and Jaejoong’s class and nobody but his friends liked him. Snotty Bobby was the name some of the kids had given him behind his back. He was the preacher’s son and Jaejoong knew that he thought that gave him special privileges.

“What did you say?” Yunho demanded as he stopped dancing, eyes darkening.

Snotty Bobby pointed to Rob and Jaejoong. “Look at them. They are so gay.”

Jaejoong groaned, knowing what was coming next. Preacher’s son or not, Yunho would not allow such a thing to be said.

“I am going to kick your butt,” Yunho said, true to form, and took off in Snotty Bobby’s direction

Bobby yelped and started skating as fast as he could away from Yunho, cursing his lapse in sanity that had him teasing Jaejoong. It was a well-known fact that if you messed with Jaejoong, then you were messing with Yunho. Bobby knew that the fact that Yunho’s dad was a deacon in his dad’s church wasn’t going to save him.

“There he goes again,” Jennifer said, sighing as she skated up to Jaejoong and Rob. She held out her hand for Jaejoong to take.

Jaejoong inwardly cringed; Jennifer was very nice, and she was Yunho’s girlfriend, but he couldn’t bring himself to like her. But for Yunho’s sake he reached out and took her hand. “Thanks.”

“Yunho is very good at skating…well, he’s actually good at everything, except teaching you how to skate,” Jennifer told Jaejoong. Rob, who was looking off longingly in the direction that Yunho had chased Snotty Bobby, paid them no attention. “When you skate, you should keep your knees slightly bent and try to keep your shoulders and ankles lined up.”

Jaejoong did as she told him and was surprised when suddenly he didn’t feel as off balance.

“Rob, you can go, I’ve got it from here,” Jennifer told Rob.

Rob quickly let go of Jaejoong and took off to watch the fight.

“It’s okay,” Jennifer told Jaejoong, soothing his nerves. “My parents both skate and they taught me how to skate when I was only five. I even taught my little sister how to skate.”

“That’s cool, but I’m really clumsy.”

“I know, but you can do this. Now, we are going to start moving. I need you to start taking baby steps, but don’t look at your feet.”

“Okay,” Jaejoong agreed, doing as she instructed.

“Very good.”

“It’s easier than I thought.”

“Okay, now I need you to push your legs outward and bring them inward, like this,” Jennifer told him as she demonstrated for him. “Lead with your toes.”

“You are not going let go of me, though, right?” Jaejoong asked nervously.

She squeezed his hand and assured him, “Nope.”

Jaejoong smiled back at her and did as she instructed and they were quickly skating around the rink. Jaejoong had to admit she was pretty. She had long, pretty blonde hair, big blue eyes, and her skin was almost as fair as his. She was the most popular girl in their sixth grade class.

“I love this song,” Jennifer declared as Mad About You started playing. “It’s an oldie but it’s a goodie.”

“It is!” Jaejoong agreed, and before he knew what was happening they were both singing as they skated around the rink.

Twenty minutes later when Yunho found Jaejoong, he was skating hand in hand with Jennifer and her best friend Laura, while singing along with them.

A dumbfounded Yunho skated up to them. “You can skate, now?”

“Yep, Jennifer is a wonderful teacher.”

Yunho started skating backwards so he could face Jaejoong as they went around the rink. “I punched him in the gut. He tried to hit me but I was too fast for him. I was about to punch him again, but then he ran and hid in the girl’s bathroom.”

“He did?” Jennifer asked, laughing.

“Yep,” Yunho confirmed, smugly.

“You are going to get in trouble someday,” Jaejoong warned.

“Yeah, he will probably tell on you,” Laura agreed. “He’s a big tattle tale.” Laura had shoulder length brown hair, green eyes, and wore glasses. She was very different from her best friend.

Jennifer, who was eyeing Yunho longingly, asked, “Do you want to skate with us?”

“I am skating with you,” Yunho told her, rolling his eyes as he continued to skate backwards. “I am not holding your hand.”

“It doesn’t mean anything! Laura and I are both holding JJ’s hand,” Jennifer told her boyfriend, fuming. She had dreamed about skating with him; all the girls would have been so envious of her.

“So, I’m still not holding your hand. I said I would be your boyfriend, I didn’t say I would hold your hand.”

“You…you…I am so glad JJ is my friend now! He is so much cooler than you are,” Jennifer hissed at Yunho.

“Yeah, so what; he’s the best. That’s why he is my best friend,” Yunho said, unmoved by her outburst.

“JJ is going to take music with us next year,” Laura said, smiling at Yunho. “Isn’t that great?”

“He’s what!” Yunho shouted, alarmed.

Jaejoong cringed, knowing his best friend would not take the news well.

“Yes, he is,” Jennifer happily informed Yunho, who she now considered the worst boyfriend, ever. “He sings beautifully.”

“He does,” Laura confirmed. “His voice is way better than anybody else’s. He will be the lead in all the plays I bet!”

Jaejoong blushed, loving all the compliments. He loved to sing, and that the girls actually thought he was a good singer made him feel very proud.

“If you take music…you can’t take gym,” Yunho announced as if Jaejoong had lost his mind. “They are scheduled at the same time! They are always scheduled at the same time! You have to take gym!”

Jaejoong eyed Yunho guiltily, and reminded him, “I don’t like gym. You know I don’t.”

“I don’t care!” Yunho barked. “You can’t take music! I forbid it.”

“Forbid it?” Laura repeated, scandalized. She let go of Jaejoong’s hand to clench her fists. “You can’t forbid him.”

Yunho glared at her and told her rudely, “Yes, I can. Music is for girls!”

Jennifer glowered at her boyfriend and snapped, “I am glad we didn’t tell you about him trying out for cheerleading then.”

Jaejoong turned to look at Jennifer, taken aback; they had not discussed cheerleading. He would never have agreed to cheerleading, due to the fact that Yunho would have a stroke and die.

Yunho stared back at them completely traumatized, as he stammered out, “Chee…cheer….cheerleading.”

“You know it isn’t just for girls. There are boy cheerleaders, too,” Jennifer said, needling the astounded Yunho as they prepared to take a quick turn around the corner of the rink.

Yunho glared back at her, and bellowed for the whole skating rink to hear, “That’s it; I am dumping you!”

“You are not! I am dumping you!” Jennifer screamed at Yunho, letting go of Jaejoong in her outrage, sending the unsuspecting boy flying into the wall.


“Do you actually live in here?” Yunho asked, waking Jaejoong from his nap. “How do you keep this room so clean with a broken leg?”

A blurry eyed Jaejoong rolled over, groaning as he looked at the clock on his bedside table. It was a half past three and school was out. “You woke me up, and you are not supposed to be here.”

“Your aunt is passed out on the couch, and mom is at the restaurant. Gertrude is watching Oprah,” Yunho explained, sitting down on the bed. “I think we could throw a party and your aunt wouldn’t wake up.”

“It’s the Xanax,” Jaejoong explained. “She doesn’t have as many breathing fits, but she sleeps all the time.”

“Why didn’t you come to school today?” Yunho questioned, refusing to get distracted by Aunt Bessie’s never ending list of medications.

“I’m sick.”

“So what; you are sick all the time and you come to school.”

“I was too sick to go to school today.”

Yunho eyed the boy skeptically. “No, you are not.”

“Well, I was this morning.”

“Are you mad at me?”

“No,” Jaejoong denied. “Why would I be mad at you?”

Yunho shrugged. “I don’t know why. I just kinda felt like you were mad at me.”

“I’m not,” Jaejoong told Yunho. He really wasn’t mad at Yunho; it was more like he was sad because of Yunho.

“You know I only get to see you at school.”

“I know.”

“I hate being grounded.”

“I know.”

“How much longer till your cast gets taken off?” Yunho asked, lying down on the bed beside Jaejoong.

Jaejoong closed his eyes, hating the awkwardness between them; he knew it was his fault. Yunho could sense something was off with Jaejoong, so it led the other boy to asking questions he already knew the answer to. “In four weeks.”

Yunho, who had been resting on his back, turned to his side to face Jaejoong with a furrowed brow. “I thought it was three weeks, what happened? Why do you have to keep it on longer?”

“Oh, it is three weeks…I forgot,” Jaejoong lied.

“It’s easy for you to forget, but not me. I have to be grounded for as long as you are in the cast. Which is totally unfair; I didn’t throw you into the wall.”

“You are grounded for fighting with Bobby, not because I broke my leg” he reminded Yunho.

“Snotty Bobby, that stupid tattle tale,” Yunho said with obvious disdain. “I agree with your aunt about preachers and their kids.”

Jaejoong smiled. “No, you don’t.”

“Yes, I do. They preach because they can’t get a real job, and all their kids are spoiled brats.”

“She didn’t say that about all of them.”

Yunho smiled back at him and amended his prior statement, “I am sorry; she said ninety percent of them can’t get a real job and their kids are spoiled brats.”

“You are so bad.”

“I can’t be nice like you.”

“You are much nicer than me…just less afraid.”

Something sad in Jaejoong’s eyes had Yunho reaching out, taking his hand. “What are you scared of?”

“We are not talking about this. I am scared of a lot of things.”

“Why can’t we talk about it?”

“I don’t want to.”

“I want to.”

“Ignore what I said, I’m not really scared.”

“Liar, you are always afraid. Afraid of falling, afraid of being embarrassed, you are afraid people won’t like you, and you’re afraid of people leaving you.”

Jaejoong rolled over on his back, looking up at the ceiling. “Why do you ask me questions you already know the answer to?”

“I want to see if you trust me…if you will tell me the truth.”

Jaejoong pulled his hand away from Yunho. “You are only twelve and you are trying to sound so smart.”

“We will be in Junior High soon; I want to create a new image,” Yunho explained, pulling his hand back to rest it at his side. “Are you mad because I broke your leg?”

“You didn’t break my leg. Jennifer is the one who let go of me, not you,” Jaejoong quickly responded, falling into Yunho’s trap.

Yunho sat up in triumph, thinking he had figured Jaejoong out. “So you are mad at Jennifer.”

“No, I didn’t say that!” Jaejoong instantly denied, raising his voice; a sure sign he was lying.

“Yes, you are. Don’t lie to me, I hate it when you lie to me,” Yunho told him as he climbed out of the bed. “She broke your leg, and you are mad at me.”

“She didn’t mean to!”

“She broke it because I dumped her and then I took her back,” Yunho said, explaining his reasoning for why Jaejoong was mad at him. “I shouldn’t have taken her back, but school is ending. I just thought if I didn’t take her back she would get a new boyfriend, and she is the prettiest girl in our class. The prettiest girl should be my girlfriend. Plus, the summer is coming and I won’t have to put up with her.”

Jaejoong sat up, mystified by Yunho’s reasoning. He asked what he had been curious about for a long time, “Do you even like her?”

Yunho sucked on his bottom lip, not answering Jaejoong.

“You don’t, do you?”

The taller boy sat back down on the bed. “I don’t think I like girls, yet.”

“You don’t?”

“Not like Rob and DongWoo do. I don’t want to fondle any breasts or anything. I mean, I am getting bigger down there, but I’m not very hairy yet. I know dad said we would start having dreams and stuff, but I don’t remember having any. Do you?”

Jaejoong blushed as he remembered the most embarrassing conversation of his life. Mr. Jung, knowing that Jaejoong didn’t have any male family members, had seen fit to explain the bird and bees to him. Sitting still while Mr. Jung pulled out pictures showing Jaejoong and Yunho the differences between girls and boys, and the different stages of puberty had been one of the most humiliating moments of his life. “Do I what?”

“Have dreams…you know, wet ones.”

Jaejoong’s blush increased and he nodded his head.

“You do?” Yunho asked, immediately jealous of the fact that Jaejoong was more mature than he was. “But you still look like a girl.”

“That’s not my fault!”

“How many times have you?”

“Just a couple of times,” Jaejoong said, cringing. “Can we not talk about this?”

“Who else would I talk to about it…well, honestly about it,” Yunho amended, remembering lying to Rob and DongWoo about it. “So who was it?”

Jaejoong covered his face with a pillow and asked, “Who was what?”

“Who was in your dream?”

“I don’t remember,” Jaejoong lied, mumbling into the pillow.

Yunho didn’t believe him, and demanded, “You have to tell me.”

“No,” Jaejoong answered as Yunho pulled the pillow away. “I don’t remember.”

“You are so lying. You are blushing! This must be good,” Yunho said, excited. “Was it Mrs. Plainsworth?”


“Was it Jennifer?”


Yunho climbed over Jaejoong with a devilish look in his eyes. “I am going to tickle you till you tell me!”

“I am sick!”

“No, you aren’t,” Yunho told him, tickling underneath Jaejoong’s arms.

“Stop it, Yunho!”

“Not till you tell me!”

“Okay, I was lying!” Jaejoong blurted out. “I am mad at you! I am mad at you for getting back together with Jennifer.”

Yunho stopped tickling Jaejoong, stunned. “You are?”

“Yes,” Jaejoong quickly agreed, spilling out his frustrations. “She let go of me after she said she wouldn’t and spun me into a wall, breaking my leg. I have to go around on crutches for six weeks! You know how hard it is to take care of Aunt Bessie on crutches? I have to carry my books and use crutches at the same time, so I end up dropping them all the time. It’s really embarrassing! You don’t always help me! You just run off and play sports, leaving me to limp around by myself.”

“I’m so sorry! I will dump her tomorrow, I swear,” a rattled Yunho promised.

“Good, because you are supposed to be my best friend,” Jaejoong declared, feeling extremely powerful.

Yunho nodded his head, proclaiming, “You are the best friend I’ve ever had. I fight anybody who says mean things about you.”

“But your girlfriend broke my leg, and you didn’t fight her!”

Yunho tilted his head to the side as he remembered something. “I asked you and you told me it was okay to be her boyfriend again.”

Jaejoong’s eyes widened, remembering that Yunho had indeed asked him a week earlier. “You shouldn’t have had to ask, you should know better!”

“I should have,” Yunho agreed, wilting again as he realized he was indeed a bad friend.

“JJ, you better not have Yunho up in your room! You know he is grounded!” Aunt Bessie roared from downstairs, letting them know the Xanax had worn off.

  • Current Music: Mad About You, by Belinda Carlisle

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