wild_terrain: (JJ Believe)
[personal profile] wild_terrain
Title: The Beacon; My Siren
Author: wild_terrain (ie. fi_chan)
Banner (Made beautifully by love_cassiopeia
):


 
Chapter: [32/ ?]
Rating: MA15+
Genre: AU
 [FLANGST, mystery, spirituality, romance]
Summary: Philophobia… The fear of falling in love or being in love. I didn’t know such a thing existed until I met him… Kim JaeJoong was my age—a youthful 25 years—and the owner of a popular café, yet he was already known around town as the mysterious hermit who had chosen to completely withdraw from the world. How on earth could someone so young be afraid of loving others to the point of secluding themselves from all human beings? What was he afraid of? What was he hiding? I just didn’t understand it. And by that stage, the need to understand it was all I could think about... In fact, he was all I could think about…

Jung Yunho… For all of my life I had grown up away from the limelight. I couldn’t stand being noticed by anybody, and for a long time I thankfully never was. But then you came and suddenly you were everywhere – waving to me as I swept the café after closing, saying hello to me as you cycled past the bench I was sitting on, helping me carry my groceries inside whilst talking non-stop to me as if we were actually friends… Why are you always around making my heart thump erratically? Why do you even care? The more you try to explore this town, the more I need to step up and protect you from your own curiosity, because I know It is out there and I know It wants to harm you…


Trailer:
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Beta =
moon1084 <3

A/
N: Hope you enjoy the update. Thank you for your patience. ^^



 



I took a bite from the toasted ham and cheese sandwich I’d made for myself and listened to the endless ringing by my ear.

The taste was dull in my mouth. I wasn’t a brilliant sandwich maker to begin with and I’d been so distracted on my current mission that my sandwich had already started to go cold and hard. I’d had the best intentions when making it and it probably wouldn’t have ended up so bad if I hadn’t been distracted all afternoon listening to phones ringing out and the awkward sounds of voicemail.

I had never been so frustrated by technology before. It was there to help people communicate better! But then it also allowed people to avoid calls or block them altogether.

After HyunAe’s success with reaching JaeJoong via my cell phone on Sunday, I had jumped up to give it a ring as soon as I had finished my shower. My phone had gone straight to voicemail though. Nothing brought on frustration faster than hearing your own cheerful voice blocking you.

‘Heyyy, this is Jung Yunho’s phone. I’m not able to answer this call right now so please leave a message and I’ll try to get back to you as quick as I can.’

Ergh. Hello smartass electronic Yunho, this is the real Yunho! Now send me straight through to the person currently in possession of my phone, you wanker!

After that first attempt failed, I had tried to get through several more times as I waited for my sandwich to finish toasting. I had watched the cheese melt and ooze over the edge of the crust all whilst hearing my own voicemail message over and over again. My phone must have been turned off. What horrid luck that was. And to think that only one tiny button had to be pressed and the line could be up and running… Frustration to the max.

After I lifted the lid on my sandwich toaster up, I tried using telepathy to will someone to turn my phone back on or accidentally knock it so the power button could be hit. But one last attempt at ringing gave me my own voice in my ear again and I hung up in disgust. I switched the power button off on the toasting machine in a childish eye-for-an-eye way and yanked the cord out of the power socket for good measure.

I had tried Yoochun’s phone next. His phone just rang out and then gave me his cheery electronic voice. I tried again five minutes later and then conceded defeat and left a voice message asking him to get in touch with me because I needed to know how JaeJoong was.

I figured I’d have more luck reaching Yoochun since he undoubtedly would have his girlfriend’s home phone number saved. He wouldn’t dodge a call from HyunAe… And there was a fifty-fifty chance that it would be her calling him from our home phone so...

But no, nothing.

Just in case he was dodging us, I tried my luck using the phone I’d bought for JaeJoong so an unfamiliar number would show up on his screen—I really had thought of everything.

But that hadn’t worked either…

He might have been working and not had his phone on him. There was nothing left to do but wait a few hours to try again in the late afternoon or evening.

Waiting was really fun with nothing but a cold, hard, tasteless sandwich to keep me company. I wasn’t even all that hungry after failing miserably to talk to anyone close to JaeJoong.

By the time HyunAe had come back from university, I had only progressed one step further. A call to Café JaDe hadn’t ended in ringing out or answering machines but a real person! I had asked if JaeJoong, the owner, was around and had been told by whomever JaeJoong had left in charge that ‘Mr Kim was currently not in town.’ I figured that meant he was in hospital in the next town.

It had been five days and Café JaDe still didn’t have its master home? I had to lie down in bed until my stomach stopped churning. I hadn’t poisoned myself with a sad cheese and ham sandwich but maybe that would have been better than knowing it was deep-seated anxiety that wouldn’t leave my stomach alone.

I had to talk to JaeJoong, I had to hear his voice again. I had to know how badly injured he was. This wait was excruciating. He was all I could think about and all I could worry about. Tomorrow I’d be up early at the station on my way to see him but what could I do until then? I couldn’t even jump on the afternoon train because by the time I arrived there, everything would be closed and visiting hours would be over. I couldn’t just run to Café JaDe an hour or two before midnight and knock on the door hoping to sleep there. There’d be no JaeJoong sweeping the floors to look at me through the glass, broom in hand, and let me in.

It hurt to even think of those happier times right now. What good were memories if your stomach churned the whole time and reminded you that current times were actually pretty awful?

I listened sadly in bed as Yoochun’s phone rang out again. He’d had hours to call me back. It was practically dinnertime already.

Just as I hung up and threw the home phone next to my pillow, my door opened and HyunAe popped her head in, looking as anxious as I felt. I immediately sat up and stared at her as my heart pounded. She seemed startled by my reaction and paled further.

“Hyunnie, what’s going on?”

“E-Eh? N-Nothing. What’s going on with you?”

I frowned. She seemed more guilty than anxious now.

The two of us had already spoken when she first got home and came in to see how I was feeling. After I’d explained my current frustration, she had tried ringing Yoochun too and had the same result as me. That made me feel marginally better but still just as frustrated. I couldn’t think of why was she had returned looking so guilty and alarmed though.

“Me?” I asked. “I’m… Well, I’m having the time of my life right now. Still making conversation with a dial tone. And you?” I leant forward to peer at her expressions better.

”Yeah, I’m great,” she nodded. Then she let out an inaudible sigh and lowered her eyes. “Actually, I think I’m in a bit of a pickle.”

“Why? What happened? Did you get through to Yoochun?”

“Oh…” She looked at me sympathetically and shook her head slowly. “He mustn’t have his phone near him. It happens sometimes…”

I let my back fall against my headboard with enough weight behind it to make the bed shudder once beneath me. “Great.”

“Mm, I’m sorry, Oppa. I’ll keep trying.”

I nodded and gave her a small smile. “So what has my little sister done to get herself into a pickle?”

She clasped her hands in front of her and looked down at them. “I lost grandma’s ring.” It amused me a little when she slowly raised her head to look at me as if waiting for a scolding when I was actually clueless as to what ring she was talking about.

Then a short memory came to mind of me in a dark, crumbling room, discovering a large, old-fashioned ring that had belonged to my grandmother. I remembered trying to quickly grab it before whoever was walking closer could take it from me. But that wasn’t a memory, was it? It was a dream.

I looked up into the face of a still panic-stricken HyunAe and realized she was still waiting for a response from me. “That ring… Was that the ring that Umma passed down to you after Halmeoni died?”

“Yes, the one Umma entrusted to me on my eighteenth birthday…” HyunAe looked positively miserable. “Umma’s gonna kill me!”

I sympathized with her there. I always managed to get in trouble with Umma so I was used to it, but HyunAe had a practically shining record. “Don’t worry, Hyunnie, I’ll help you find it. It’ll be fine.”

She leapt onto my bed and threw her arms around me. I laughed and quickly grabbed onto her so she wouldn’t tumble off again from the momentum.

Hyunnie had been so good to me this week even though I was the one who was supposed to be protecting her. I really wanted to be her big brother again; be someone she could rely on. Compared to my own mess, anything else was easier to solve. This was surely something even I could do. Besides, I couldn’t help noticing a strange nagging feeling that it would be important for me to find that ring too.

“As soon as we find this ring,” I said as I stroked her hair, “you are going to use your girlfriend rights and hound that disorganized boyfriend of yours until we get a response, mm?”

She nodded with a determined glint in her eye and we raised our fists in a silent hwaiting!

“So when was the last time you noticed you were wearing it?”

I followed her into her room as she talked and gave her a one-armed hug as she voiced her worst fears, “Last night. I always take it off to sleep but then this morning, after you came in to talk about JaeJoong-oppa, I went to put all my jewelry on but…I don’t know if I ever put it on in the first place. It was so habitual that I can’t even remember if I did. Oh god, Oppa, what if I did and it slipped off somewhere outside? It could be anywhere!”

“We’ll turn the house upside first before we worry about that, hmm?”

I spent the next half hour on my knees in her room. I even tried to fit underneath her bed and almost inhaled a spider web. Then when I was unable to move to get away from it, I suddenly found myself wedged between the carpet and her bed frame. I almost inhaled the web a second time as the realization sunk in that I had wedged myself in tight and I let out a sigh of dismay. Big brother Yunho to the rescue! …Wait, no, he’s stuck.

And of course my mother had to walk in right at that glorious moment. I heard the door creak open and then after a moment of silence, “What on earth are the two of you doing?”

“HyunAe dropped her…” I couldn’t tell the truth so I paused for a second and waited for the clogs in my brain to turn, “her earring, Umma,” I called out loudly, angling my head away from the spider web.

“So my son thought he’d be a gentleman and retrieve it for her even though he is clearly too big to fit under her bed?”

“Precisely.”

“What a fine explorer my son makes.”

I narrowed my eyes at the carpet. Of course one meaningful talk with my mother wouldn’t completely change her habit of giving out sarcastic remarks when it came to the hobbies I loved and she didn’t. “Hey, if I could get in here, I can get out,” I pointed out to her.

“I look forward to it.”

“I just need some space…”

“Indeed. If there was space you wouldn’t be stuck.”

“I mean space beside the bed.”

“Well,” she begun, sounding amused, “the surrounding area has been cleared for your operation.”

“A-Are you going to stand and watch?” I gasped out.

“Mm,” she trilled. She must have turned to my sister then because her next words were, “Well, this is an improvement at least, isn’t it, HyunAe? Yunho’s no longer stuck in bed all day. Now he’s stuck under one.”

I heard HyunAe giggling and I finally understood that this whole time my mother was just teasing me. “Oh yes, very funny,” I grumbled.

“He doesn’t sound very motivated, does he, dear?” I heard Umma ask HyunAe. “Not to worry; a mother always knows how to motivate her children. HyunAe, go fetch your father’s big camera. It would be so unfortunate for JaeJoong-sshi to miss this due to his recovery.”

“Okay, Umma,” I heard HyunAe laugh.

“No! Don’t you dare!” I knew they were only playing with me but since my mother was in one of her rare playful moods, I couldn’t predict if she was only half-joking about that. I tried to start wiggling out a little bit but gave up when I heard the two women in the room start to laugh again.

“Oh dear, only a few inches gained?”

“This will be a long night,” HyunAe added.

I shook my head under the bed. Two women in a silly mood were hard to deal with once they started tag teaming. My family made work seem like a holiday. At least the silly girls there giggled in admiration and not jest. “You do know that I could get out right now if I wanted to, right?”

“Go ahead then, Oppa,” HyunAe laughed.

“Regardless, we’ll still have to call up your JaeJoong,” Umma said as I started wriggling my way out again. “I’ll need to apologize on your behalf, Yunho. If he hears things from a mother’s point of view, he’ll be more understanding. How would I word it, HyunAe? ‘JaeJoong-sshi, we’re sorry that Yunho hasn’t been able to visit yet. He was unfortunately stuck under his sister’s bed for a few days. You know how that is, yes?’”

“Aish!” I swore under my breath. It was still far too soon to joke about anything relating to JaeJoong but I knew they weren’t trying to be cruel to me. I knew what they were trying to do. And I had to admit they almost had me—I was close to smiling. Only my mother could make such a ridiculous explanation sound so plausible. And it was kind of funny since I technically was still stuck from my waist up during this whole conversation.

“Aigoo,” Umma trilled as I reemerged and cupped my cheeks. “So inspirational!”

I stared down at her with mock-narrowed eyes, “You can stop poking fun now, Umma.” She gave one of my cheeks a gentle slap and then left to check on dinner.

I ran my hands through my hair as soon as she left. I was thankful that my hair was short again and easier to brush the fluff out of. “Well, Mission: Ring for a Ring is going well,” I sighed.

“What?” HyunAe laughed from where she stood leaning against her desk.

“You know, your ring in exchange for Yoochun giving me a ring. Uhm, wait, no, I meant giving my phone a ring, not giving me a ring-ring…”

“Oppa,” HyunAe said between her laughter, “it’s nice to hear your weird jokes again.”

I sighed, smiling a little in spite of myself. I had to admit that getting stuck under a bed had been the second best thing that had happened to me today. For a second, my family had almost made it feel like old times—before JaeJoong had almost lost his life. I was sobering up quickly though. Until I had JaeJoong in my sight again I couldn’t bring myself to smile properly.

“Okay then, your turn to look under the bed and finish what I could not,” I said, lightly tapping her ankle with my foot. “And if you get stuck, I’ll make sure to take a photo too and send it to Yoochun—maybe then he’ll pick up his phone.”

Our mother’s voice floated up the hallway and interrupted our plans, “Dinner is served, beautiful children!”

We looked at each other and sighed. “The night is only young?” I suggested with a shrug. “We’ll keep looking after dinner, okay?”

I went back to my room to put my slippers on. I had forgotten to wear them when I first got out of bed and my feet were already cold.

I waited for the warmth to hit me as always but winced as my heel landed on something cold and hard. I pulled my foot out and shook my head in disbelief. How the hell had our grandmother’s ring ended up in my slippers?

I bent down and picked it up with a small frown. The moment it lay in my palm I felt my body give a slight shiver. I stared, mesmerized, at the old family heirloom.

When I heard footsteps approach my room, I instinctively covered it up in my palm and held it close. The footsteps faded and I looked up at my doorway but there was no one there.

Once I was sure no one was there for real, I uncurled my fingers and pulled JaeJoong’s phone out of my pocket. Before I realized what I was doing with it, I had taken a photo of the ring and slipped the phone back into my pocket.

Just in case.

I frowned. Just in case of what? I bit my lip as I examined the ring one more time. Why the hell had I dreamt about this ring? It meant nothing to me and I couldn’t see how it could possibly relate to Damien either. It was just an old, gold ring. And that photo of me in hospital was just an old photo. What had been the other thing in my dream? An old newspaper with a girl on it? Old x 3. So the moral of the story is…old things are cool?

I slipped the ring onto my pinky finger and played around with it with my thumb. What were the chances of HyunAe losing her ring and it appearing in my slipper the day I found out that JaeJoong had survived his drowning. The same day too that my mother brought me the photo I’d also been seeing in my dreams.

My only other reoccurring dream had been about danger at the beach and that had come true. And the one thing in common in both dreams was Damien’s appearance. If that beach premonition had come true then that meant I’d have to take this other dream seriously too. At least no one dies in it, I thought, and my face scrunched up in a grimace.

Oh well, at least HyunAe had her ring back nice and safe. That was one of us happy. I smiled in victory and headed down to the dining table, looking forward to the hug I’d be getting from HyunAe.

After dinner I stubbornly went up to my room and started packing my backpack for tomorrow’s journey with or without a call from Yoochun. I took a gamble with optimism and made sure I packed enough clothes for several days.

I was checking out how much cash I had in my wallet when there was a knock on my door. I turned my head and saw nothing but my sister’s hand. She wiggled it a bit until the ring on her finder caught my bedroom light and sparkled a little. I let out a laugh at her cute display.

Before I could compliment her on how her pretty fingers suited out grandmother’s ring, she retracted her hand. I figured that was all she had wanted to show me but then her hand slowly reappeared, this time holding her cell phone. I was confused for a second but then a smile spread across my face. A ring for a ring.

Her hand wiggled the phone temptingly and I took the cue and leapt up to grab it. I pressed it against my ear. “Yoochun?”

“Hey. Sorry, man, I was working and doing errands all day and forgot to turn my phone off silent.”

I let out an inaudible sigh at my bad luck but was too relieved to hear his voice to dwell on it.

Our chat didn’t last for long—possibly because of the slight tension on both ends, but I got all that I needed out of him. He confirmed JaeJoong was still in hospital and would be for a few more days, but most of his stay was just precautionary. I finally let myself sink down onto my bed after hearing that.

When I let Yoochun know in no uncertain terms that I would be coming up tomorrow and no one could stop me, he sounded pleased…but there was still something there in his tone that worried me a little. Even though Yoochun knew exactly where I stood, there was still a sense of unease from his end.

“Yoochun, are you mad at me?”

“What? No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeh, of course.”

Then… “Is JaeJoong?”

“I-I dunno,” he stuttered. Not a good sign.

I stared glumly down at my bedcover. “How is he?”

“It’s hard to tell,” Yoochun replied. “I mean, anyone stuck in hospital for longer than a day is not gonna seem completely themselves, right? Most of the time he seems okay though...”

Of course JaeJoong was going to be upset away from his home. I hated that. And I hated that he was stuck there. He was used to being independent and being by himself a lot of the time but not in unfamiliar territory where the walls held no privacy. My need to be by him was so strong it made it difficult to concentrate on anything else so I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths.

“I need to see him…”

“Then you will.”

Oh, I had said that out loud. “Yeh,” I let out a small sigh. “I’ll be up at dawn making sure the train will get me there before lunchtime.”

“That sounds good. I’m sure he’ll love…to see you.” It was very subtle but I caught the way Yoochun’s voice slowed down half way through that thought as if he suddenly realized his words were inaccurate.

That bad? I massaged my temples with my spare hand. Of course it would be that bad. The guy was probably well aware right now how bad his accident had been and yet I hadn’t said one word to him. That was going to change though.

“Oh, but Yunho…” My hand dropped from my forehead and I looked up even though Yoochun wasn’t really talking to me in person. “If JaeJoong-hyung does seem a little distant…just give him a moment. Sometimes I wonder if being in hospital gives him more time to think than he really needs…”

Oh, fuck that! I stood up from my bed in a flash and began to pace. All this nervous energy was wreaking havoc on me. I don’t think I ever hated being stuck in one place before—and I had had plenty of those moments over the years so that was really saying something.

Thinking about all the subtle warnings Yoochun had been trying to give me—subconsciously or not—made it hard for me to sleep once our call had ended. Sometime in the early hours of the morning I could take no more and snuck through the house to go for a jog around the block. I fell back into bed, finally sleepy, but woke up again to the sound of my alarm going off.

My family all knew what I was doing so I only left a short note to say goodbye to them. I left my car behind again and eagerly set off on foot to the nearest station that could give me a connecting train to one of the bigger stations where rural trains went through.

I made it onto the train fine and settled in with my backpack taking up the seat next to me. Then when the familiar city sights began to fade away, the train started slowing down. After a few minutes it came to a complete stop.

I looked around me in confusion and then curiosity to see whether the other early bird commuters were awake enough to notice the halt in our journey. Most of them didn’t seem to care. Typical.

I leant back in my seat with a long, loud sigh. I had watched part of the sunrise on my journey to the station, and gazing at all of the peaceful, beautiful colors in front of me had cleansed me and given me a well-needed dose of determination… But now I was starting to deflate.

The speakers in the carriage came to life and I listened impatiently to what our driver had to say. By the end of his announcement, I was ready to grab my bag and jump through the damn window and run back to the nearest station.

Apparently there had been a train derailment up ahead of us. God knew how... It was a freight train, not a train with passengers—which was probably the only good part. The situation left little option for our train though. We were stuck here indefinitely until alternate transport was arranged or until the rail crew could somehow clear part of the damn track so we could pass.

There were a few groans around my carriage at the news. Yeh, now they cared. I sunk down lower in my seat and stared helplessly out the window at the scarce architecture visible through the trees.

Half an hour passed and I was one of the only passengers without my head buried in a newspaper or laptop. Who could read right now? Then again, I figured I was the only one desperate to visit a lover who I had last seen dead.

I let my forehead bump against the window and kept it resting there. I was getting tired pretty quickly of all the bad luck I seemed to be copping lately. Yesterday’s cell phone brick wall had been bad enough for my nerves… I hadn’t counted on more things delaying my return to JaeJoong when I’d never had much of a problem catching this train before to get to him.

I glanced down at the crack between my seat and the carriage wall and noticed a few papers tucked there. With nothing else to do, I shifted in my seat and bent to reach in and slide them out a little. The texture of the pages against my fingers was thin and a mixture of soft and crinkly. It was a newspaper. The cleaner must have missed it… Nice one for me though.

I pulled it out and settled back into my seat. The newspaper was from a few days ago and part of it was coffee stained. It was all dry now thankfully but parts of it had some serious crinkle issues. It was better than nothing though and I‘d get to have the added fun of pulling apart the stained pages whilst trying not to rip important words away. I did like a challenge—even if it was a frustrating detour from the main one at hand.

The front page was quite intriguing. It reported how a cattle herd had gotten lose and was then found scattered throughout some shops. There was a charming little picture of a cow peering out through the window of a clothing store. This was front page material? Oh these rural newspapers…

I let out a silent chuckle and flipped the page. I was almost put to sleep with what I saw. Boring, boring, blah, blah, politics. There was even an opinion piece from a rather passionate but irate singer on the lack of trashcans in Korea and how it would improve Korean society if there were more available… Interesting view. That gave me a chuckle at least. Well, until I got to the next section.

I knew the moment I saw the words ‘breast milk’ I should have immediately looked away, but I was stuck on an idle train and common sense left me. So I read about the store overseas that sold breast milk ice cream. Breast milk ice cream! I definitely did not need to read that or imagine that or think anything about that!

I scrambled to turn the page but it was stuck. I had a feeling my facial expressions betrayed how much horror I was feeling at that moment. Good thing no one was paying any attention to me.

As I dealt with the epicenter of the coffee stain, I grimaced when I realized how much noise I was making in the otherwise quiet carriage. I sent some silent apologies to anyone trying to concentrate on their finance newspapers around me but I had to do this to get breast milk off my mind!

The pages finally came lose with only a little ripping and I smoothed them down to see something I hadn’t been expecting—even more so than breast milk ice cream.

My mouth went dry a bit and I held my breath as I re-read the headline. I told myself it could have been worse—it could have been an article on JaeJoong’s accident but this was thankfully Monday’s newspaper. The deceased in this article hadn’t drowned; she had committed suicide. From memory it had something to do with her father. He had been disappointed with her grades or something. This was that article, wasn’t it?

My eyes darted over the picture and the script. It was definitely the one I had dreamt about.

I shook my head sadly as I read through the report slowly. Blimey… Even with my sorry situation during high school I could never have gone that far to resolve my guilt. Suicide was nasty. Why did I dream about this though? What significance did suicide have to my life?

I frowned as I came up blank and pulled the crumbled page out of the newspaper to keep. I folded the extra page behind the article and then folded the article in half again for safekeeping.

Geez, what were the chances of me finding this here—coffee stained and all. In my dream I had seen it as crinkly and brown as it was in my hands now. It hadn’t been an old article like I’d thought, just stained like one. Too unbelievable…

Well, I wasn’t going anywhere soon. Timing suggested I’d been given a chance to think seriously about this. Or forced to think about it.

So the girl had had similar insecurities to me when I was younger but had a different ending. Is that how it linked to me? I was being shown my flaws? Me feeling incredibly dumb sometimes. Me always getting myself injured, sometimes to the point of hospitalization. Me…wanting my grandmother’s ring instead of my sister?

A smile spread across my face and a chuckle surfaced. Okay, that last theory definitely wasn’t right. I hadn’t cared about my grandmother’s ring until I’d started dreaming of it. And I didn’t want one for myself—that was women’s business.

I leant back in my chair and puffed my cheeks out in thought. Perhaps the point of that reoccurring dream wasn’t my flaws or even that ‘old things were cool’ as I had joked yesterday. After all, this newspaper clue wasn’t old—unless two or three days was considered old. And the point of the dream wasn’t that I had flaws. I was well aware that I had flaws without a dream having to tell me that. And there was no flaw of mine attached to the ring anyway.

I was all out of theories to connect the three… I sighed and let my head fall back against the headrest. Maybe this needed to be pondered from a different angle. In my dreams those three items did have something in common—the setting. In the first dream, the setting had been a kind of freaky double reality and I had found the items on the same train I had really been on during my nap. They had been in a box that JaeJoong had given me in real life that was supposed to contain his cookies. There had been weird bouncy balls that had attacked me too. And Damien had been mucking around on a scooter before stalking me in the seat next to me.

But in all the other dreams after that initial one, I’d seen the three items in a dark, old room that looked like it hadn’t been touched in years. I hadn’t been attacked by evil bouncy balls there but I had felt danger in a different way—I had felt the need to hurry because someone was coming. There had been plastic pieces of a child’s toy too—sometimes a piece that looked like a leg, sometimes an arm, sometimes a head. They all seemed to make a grey robot toy. That was definitely unfamiliar to me.

Geezus, could those dreams have been anymore cryptic? As awful as my old reoccurring beach dream had been, at least it had been fairly self-explanatory: weather is foreboding and nasty, dead body surfacing down the beach, you’re too late to save him because you were a douche and fell into a pile of quicksand. The message couldn’t be any clearer to me right now. If I hadn’t gotten to JaeJoong in time or even known where he was that day…he would have been just a dead body washing up by itself a few days later for some poor person to find.

The folded newspaper fell into my lap as I covered my face with my hands. Thinking about my dreams wasn’t fun anymore. If I couldn’t crack this other one in time, would something else bad happen that I could have stopped if I hadn’t been so dumb and useless?

I tried to take a few deep breaths to calm down. My baby was alive and I would get to see him soon if this goddamn train would just move!

I restrained myself just barely from kicking the empty seat in front of me. I was stuck on this stupid train with hours left to go of the journey and too much thinking had already done its damage. I wasn’t ready to face those memories until I had my baby in my sight and his hand in my hand. Or if that was too much to ask for, at least my hand somewhere, anywhere, on him. Even on a fraction of his earlobe! I just needed to touch him. To hold him. I needed to know that the nightmare had an ending I could wake up from.

I turned my head away from the rest of the carriage and used the sleeve over my forearm to wipe my eyes dry.

This delay really wasn’t funny anymore. I didn’t want more time to think. If someone out there expected me to use this time in limbo to join impossible dots together, then they had some nerve. If that stupid dream was that damn important, I’d rather not sleep tonight until I figured it out, but Damien or whomever couldn’t expect me to do it now when my heart was in my throat and threatening to make me cry on public transport.

I looked at my watch. It had been over an hour since we had stopped. My stomach was grumbling and my nerves were frazzled.

I dug into my pocket and pulled out JaeJoong’s phone. I dialed my old one and listened to the silence on the other end, hoping that maybe something would change and I’d hear it ringing, but once again there was nothing but a short click that sent me back to my voicemail. He still had the damn phone off.

I tried not to get weepy again and scrolled through the message options on JaeJoong’s phone to distract myself. I sent a sulky one to Yoochun’s phone complaining about being stuck behind the derailed train. Maybe I’d get a text back with more updates on JaeJoong or a funny story about something that had happened this morning with JaeJoong. Or maybe Yoochun was with Joongie right now and would call me and I’d get to hear his voice?

I slumped down low in my seat again and ran a hand through my hair. It was still only a little after eight in the morning. There couldn’t be any funny story that had happened yet (could you even get a funny story in a hospital?) and even if Yoochun managed to see JaeJoong this early in the morning, he wouldn’t ring me. That was expecting too much from him.

Ten minutes of self pity later, I wandered into the carriage in front of me to stretch my legs and buy something to eat. In the snack section, there were muffins, banana cake and cookies. They didn’t look half as good as the ones JaeJoong used to make me and I felt my heart break a little further.

Eight minutes after that, I had a warm blueberry muffin shoved in my mouth. I had barely begun to even eat it when I felt gears below my feet shudder and slowly kick into action. I looked out the window in disbelief as the scenery I had been staring at for an hour and a half moved further behind me. We were just crawling along but it was movement. And I didn’t have to look at that bloody set of trees anymore!

The speakers in front of us crackled into life again and I removed the muffin from my gobbler in advance respect.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are once again extremely sorry for the delay. We have just received word that all current danger has been properly assessed and we are now free to continue on our journey. Speeds will continue to be slow, however, until we pass by the accident site. Thank you for your patience this morning.”


I couldn’t get off the train fast enough once the all too familiar scenery came into view. I walked quickly towards the station’s exit with my bag slung over one shoulder.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone waving. Things slowed down for a second and my heart gave an extra heavy thump. I don’t know why I had been expecting to see him. Sometimes wishes can be irrational but the mind doesn’t care as long as it can get its dose of hope.

Hope fizzled away into disappointment once reality set back in and I recognized the figure waving as the stationmaster. He was waving at me? Or someone behind me? I raised my hand hesitantly in a small wave. He smiled as soon as I did and I tried to force my lips into curling up to give him one back. I had a feeling it was what he needed from me.

He continued to smile at me until I had reached the exit and my feet slowed down as a memory flittered into my consciousness. I remembered an office and fear and…pain. So much pain.

That man had been with me that day…

In my head were the sounds of someone’s body weight slamming against wood over and over. My memories banged against the heavy wooden doors in my mind that remained bolted closed. I could almost hear the stress of the bolts and hinges as those horrible memories kept stubbornly trying to barge their way through.

My legs were feeling weaker and I crouched down just outside the station before I lost control of them and fell down. I had to scrunch my eyes shut and take deep breaths. Fear was rising in me quicker than I could will it away and calm down.

What was I so terrified about?

Everything.

“Hey…” a voice spoke. Someone walking behind me had stopped to see if I was alright. I waved him on with a fake smile, feeling embarrassed.

Goddammit, Yunho, calm down! I screamed at myself. Nothing bad is guaranteed to happen just because you’re back in town. You’ve had those dreams on your mind recently but just because one came true and became a nightmare doesn’t mean the other one will too just because you’re back here again. What you fear is already in the past; it can’t hurt you anymore.

I stared down at the concrete pathway below my opened thighs and kept forcing myself to find a slower rhythm with my breathing. You’re terrified of being out of control of everything again but it really is just an irrational fear that something bad will happen because your dreams have been on the forefront of your mind. It’s all just stupid paranoia, an irrational fear, a useless panic attack. You need to stop freaking out and get to JaeJoong. You need to see him, goddammit! Move it!

I forced myself up and started taking some wobbly steps again. It was only once I was certain my legs were stable enough again that I allowed myself to do my usual power walk.

Being back in this town was affecting me more than I had counted on. There were just too many memories embedded in these roads and buildings. Even the trees whispered about past experiences whenever the wind came up. There were good memories but there were a lot of bad ones. Both met and mixed in a bittersweet mess and tugged at my heart with every step.

I wasn’t comfortable being back here without JaeJoong. The streets all looked the same and so did the people wandering down them and popping into shops, but all I could feel was an absence, his absence. Part of me clung to the familiarity of the surroundings because with familiarity came comfort, but the other part of me mourned because this town just didn’t feel right anymore.

I couldn’t bring myself to squint far down the main road to where I knew Café JaDe would be. I couldn’t even let my eyes wander half way down the street because even half way was too close.

I quickly cut down a side street. Thank god I knew most of this town like the back of my hand now after all the times I’d explored the streets on my walks.

I needed to get to the little building that offered bikes for hire. I couldn’t walk on foot to the hospital in the next town—I could handle it physically but it would talk too long. I didn’t have a car here though and I didn’t want to have to wait for buses that rarely came. My only choice was to cycle over.

The problem was the bike hire place was near the park where the main cycle tracks were. That park was too much of a slap in the face though. Our bench was at that park. It existed in a time when JaeJoong was a quiet little clam, watching everyone else do the things he couldn’t.

I remember it had been the children playing in that park who had made his eyes light up most of all. Through them he could glimpse his childhood, the only time I now knew that he had felt truly happy. And he could live through those children to rewrite his life, if only for an hour.

So much I hadn’t known about him when he sat on that bench, yet so much potential I had seen…

That bench would be empty today though. I wouldn’t have been able to look at it. I’d crumble. So it was through these back streets that I power walked to get to the back entrance of the bike hire building.

I will come back to that park one day. But only with you, JaeJoong.

I found myself a decent dark green mountain bike and paid the fee. I’d need a decent grip on my tires to speed through the many dirty roads around here. The gear system would come in handy too. The seat only needed slight adjusting for my long legs and the helmet I picked out fit well enough. I found a decent map too and, coupled with the bike hire man’s verbal descriptions and directions, I was ready to set off. I think the guy felt sorry for me when I asked about the hospital because he let me have the map for free.

I had been to that hospital once before already but I didn’t really have a photographic memory. Never mind that though, I had my map and I had my mountain bike and that was all a man needed.

I kicked off the ground and pushed the pedals forward with a sudden burst of energy. I hadn’t cycled in a while and it felt amazing. The sound and feel of bike tires whizzing over concrete with ease was invigorating and I pedaled even faster. The wind blew around my face and I felt powerful for the first time in a long time.

My strength and headspace still weren’t perfect—the absolute turmoil of conflicting emotions day in and day out were taking their toll. But still I pedaled like a maniac, ignoring the slight thump of my backpack against my back every so often. Someday I’d be able to give my body and mind a good rest but right now I needed to keep pushing it to its limit. It was the least I could do for my man.

If I collapse I want it to be beside you, JaeJoongie.


///TBC///

A/N:
YunJae confrontation next chapttter. What will happen during it? lol. Do I get an award for being a tease? Or is that not a compliment. LOL

Never fear, I’ve already written what happens so I do have an idea where I am going with this and therefore can hopefully avoid writers block and update quicker~ =D

And to those whose comments I haven’t replied to yet, please wait for meeee. I was more tired than I realised. T_T

Love to all of my readers! <3
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