wild_terrain: (JaeHo Forever yours)
[personal profile] wild_terrain
Title: The Beacon; My Siren
Author: wild_terrain (iefi_chan)
Banner (Made beautifully by love_cassiopeia
):
Chapter: [37/ 40?]
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: CLICK TO WATCH~~


A/N: *Crawls out of hiding* I exist. This fic still exists. I took an appallingly long time to write this chapter and I am so apologetic for that as you know. I have been away for so long, both photobucket AND Livejournal have gotten different layouts and extra functions. I suddenly feel so noob! Oh goddddddd lol.

Having big breaks between updates really doesn't work in my favour for a fic with so many random details that are supposed to make up a bigger picture so I will definitely refresh your memories!


WHAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR FOR ALL MY POOR READERS WHO HAVEN'T READ THIS IN FAR TOO LONG:

- YUNHO'S DREAMS.
For a long time Yunho has been having special Dreams that either try to warn him of tricky future events or try and guide him to answers he's been looking for. The first involved Yunho lifting up a lid and finding childrens toys. The next forewarned him of JaeJoong's drowning. And the third showed him three new visuals: a photo of himself as a kid in hospital, his grandmother's ring, and a stained newspaper article which Yun eventually found one day on a train.

- JAEJOONG AND YUNHO.
It looked like JaeJoong and Yunho were finally getting somewhere. JaeJoong was close to agreeing to try and see things the way Yunho sees them -- that the curse is actually just personified paranoia. He started trying to see it that way too... But then it was a task just a little too strong from him and he ended up trying to flush Yunho's anti-depressants down the toilet in case they were related to the curse. Yunho blew his top and decided enough was enough--if JaeJoong believed his paranoia over Yunho then he was done with JaeJoong. His last words to JaeJoong were more or less the message: have fun in your shitty world where you will always be unhappy. Oh, and he referred to JaeJoong as "Hermit" the cruel (but apt) nickname/label the townspeople gave JaeJoong for years. Ouch. Needless to say, JaeJoong didn't appreciate that one. 

Now on with the story!




“So you and JaeJoong…” Junsu paused delicately. His hands lightly grasped the cup of soda on our table.

“Yes. I don’t know. I suppose.” I sighed and closed my eyes for a few seconds. When I opened them Junsu was looking away politely. “It wasn’t… It wasn’t clear.”

“But you still haven’t spoken for months?”

I nodded.

“And you haven’t been tempted to.”

I stared down at the half-finished plate in front of me. It looked delicious—it was delicious—but this topic was drying out my mouth. “I’ve been tempted to,” I corrected softly.

“But you haven’t.”

“No.”

“And he hasn’t.”

I almost laughed at that one. “No.”

“I see…”

“Mm,” I hummed and then picked up some rice.

“You said he was still plagued by that island stuff.”

I nodded as I chewed.

“And then he went all postal and chucked your meds down the john?”

“Mmhmm.”

Junsu stopped fiddling with his soda can and slid his hands into his lap. He looked up with hesitant eyes and I held his gaze as I chewed. “Well… Do you think he’s a bit… Umm. Sort of like…” I waited. There was nothing left in my mouth but I pretended to keep chewing anyway. “Well, you know… D’you think he’s ill?”

“Ill?”

Junsu squirmed in his seat. “You know…a little disturbed in the head?”

“Do I think he’s mentally disturbed?”

Junsu sat awkwardly and my eyes lowered to the chopsticks in my hand. I sat in thought for a long moment. It wasn’t that I hadn’t thought of it before or made a decision already but it felt so private. Junsu was my best friend but there was still a part of me that wanted to shield JaeJoong from scrutiny.

“No. I don’t.”

Junsu nodded and politely avoided my gaze. It left the ball in my court. I took a quick breath, “That’s the thing… He was completely rational. I can’t vouch for his time on that island but he was right about me. He said I was cursed and I was. Not in the literal sense but certainly in the metaphorical one. He saw my moods change and the way I withdrew. He noticed my weight loss and noted my change in behaviour. He’s very perceptive; he probably saw it before I even did. And he was right; my body was cursed in its own way. That depression stuff snuck up on me and pulled me down. It’s just he got the origin all wrong… We can’t all be psychologists…”

“But isn’t that still…”

“He’s not illogical, Junsu. He observed and then he tried to come up with an answer on his own. He wasn’t aware of mental illness so a curse of sorts was the explanation that matched best. It’s left of centre but…he doesn’t get out much.”

“That’s still a little paranoid…”

“Paranoid, yes. Crazy, no. Aside from his obsession with the supernatural, he’s quite normal. Just…damaged.”

Junsu looked thoughtful and then nodded. “You’ve had a lot of time to think about this, haven’t you?”

I gave a small smile. “Five months and counting.”

“And counting? So you’re going to eventually…”

I shook my head. “No. Not anytime soon. It wouldn’t be fair.”

“Oh, right. Because of that job promotion.”

“Mmhmm.”

“That is going to be fantastic. I hate Boss for choosing you but I’m super happy for you too of course. You know that, right?”

I laughed, “Yes, I know that.”

“But I’m not going to miss you hanging around the rock climbing hall like a bad smell.”

“No, of course not,” I grinned and lifted my coffee cup to my lips.

“Traipsing around a new island to check its suitability for a new rural sports centre wouldn’t take that long to do when you compare it to how many work days there are in a year. In fact, I wish you were out of my face for longer.”

“Being away from your ugly mug is never long enough,” I agreed.

“What a sweet promotion though. It’s exciting, isn’t it? That we’re expanding and for even cooler things. And you get to be part of that creation.”

“Yeh, a whole island to run around creating mischief on.”

“Running free and kicking ass.”

“Okaaay, not so sure about that part,” I laughed. “Though you do realise that if you wanted to transfer when it’s up and running, you’d probably have to move up there.”

Junsu sat back in his chair with a pout. “Well, there is that.”

“Eunbi would miss you and I wouldn’t want you there.”

“Piss off,” he grinned. I made a little heart shape out of my cupped hands and smiled. He groaned at my greasiness and swatted my hands away. “Ergh. Stop. No, I can’t get over this yet. You’re practically getting a paid holiday,” he pouted.

“I know. It’s brilliant,” I beamed.

“Exploring an uninhabited island under the guise of ‘checking for suitability.’ It’s only your dream in life and all. No biggie.”

My grin widened.

“Ergh, you can stop smiling like the Cheshire cat, you know. Smug prick.”

I laughed and hid my grin behind my coffee and took another sip. It was lukewarm now but I couldn’t spit it back out. It didn’t matter; I could handle anything today. I really was so excited. The promotion I’d got to be in the team working in the rural unit meant I had to switch my active rock climbing and abseiling instructor duties for a desk in a bland office. I had been cooped up in there for the past month. I was starting to get sick of the office walls but it would all be worth it to eventually have the privilege of exploring that uninhabited island before anyone else. All that land untouched by humans… All the beauty it hid away in a beautiful secret… I’d be able to see it all.

Junsu and I finished up our dinner and made our way home. I walked into my bedroom and kicked my slippers off. I had already pulled out the backpack I’d soon be using on my work trip from my cupboard and it was waiting for further instruction on my floor. I wouldn’t be needing to pack it for a few more days but I loved seeing it there anyway—it was a reminder of good things to come and awesome adventures waiting for me.

I stepped over it and jumped onto my bed. I undressed down to my underwear and flicked my shirt off before crawling under my sheets. I tried closing my eyes but I wasn’t sleepy enough to actually fall asleep yet. I was my own worst enemy really; I kept thinking about my trip and then the excitement would come back and get me high all over again.

What was going to happen later in the week was me and the other three boys in the inspection team (Dongyul, the eldest at 37; Jongmin, 33; and the cheeky Sangyong, 29) leaving the office and driving up north for three or so hours to the rural town, Northern Pines. It was more or less a paid road trip. Northern Pines was a little higher up than Greenpatch Bay by fifteen kilometres or so. I had seen enough of JaeJoong’s town to last a lifetime but the lands there was undeniably gorgeous. Situated in a similar region, I at least knew our destination would reveal similar delights.

Man, I couldn’t wait. Once we were at Northern Pines, we’d be boarding a boat and sailing out to the island our recreation centre had its eye on for our new rural service. I was a junior member on the team, selected by Boss himself, but I didn’t get to make any real decisions. My advice and input on the safety and suitability of the terrain for our proposed centre would be considered though and at least taken on board. Junsu was absolutely right—it was like a paid holiday and a real chance to test out my passions.

It was hard to believe that I was even at this point in my life. Months before I became a part of the rural team, I was having weekly meetings with a psychologist and swallowing anti-depressants. My attendance rate at work had been shocking—and that didn’t even include all of the fake sick days I had pulled to visit JaeJoong over the past two years. But then the dosage of my prescription medication had been lowered and my work attendance rate had become impeccable again. With little distraction I had applied myself to my job completely and Boss had taken me under his wing and given me this amazing opportunity. He had faith in what I was capable of now that I had gotten through that bump, and I had risen to the challenge. Hopefully I wouldn’t disappoint him—or myself.

And I could say goodbye to that cramped office! No more squinting at endless text on a computer screen. All that research I had to get through on a chair that made my butt ache had me craving standing by the rock climbing walls again but I had a feeling the ends would justify the means. In just a few more days I would be out of that kennel and roaring up the highway with the wind in my hair and the sea salt in my nostrils!

I shoved my head into my pillow and buried my face in it. I knew I was like a child on the eve of Christmas but no one was around to witness it and point and laugh at me. I’d worked my butt off in that squishy office; I deserved a little spazzy time. At least I wasn’t bouncing my legs against the mattress…er…wait…nope, there it was.

I settled back down and gave myself a light slap to focus. I wasn’t a kid anymore; I was 26. I had work to go to tomorrow and I had to be at my best and not zombified by lack of sleep.

I closed my eyes and let out a deep breath. The darkness eventually stuck and my limbs sunk into the mattress nice and heavy and…

Blue eyes looked at me. I hadn’t seen their stare for a good many months. I should have been surprised to see them, unsettled too, but there was nothing but calmness as I accepted Damien’s gaze and looked back at him. He was standing at the foot of my bed (I suppose it was the foot of my bed; the room we were in was still so dark it was hard to orientate myself). And then I was standing as well even though I hadn’t felt myself move.

Even in the darkness I knew rather than saw the blue-eyed boy had extended his hand to me. I took it. It felt a little cold but it was solid. Actually my touch said it was cold but my head said it was warm. My senses were all out of whack, but in this place it made perfect sense for something to be two things at once.

Damien led me out of my room into a darker room. It felt far away even though I had only taken a few steps. My eyes didn’t take too long to adjust to the shadows. We were in an old shack. I looked around for the usual items that awaited me when I came to this place in my sleep but the room was empty. I felt Damien move and then there was a ‘click’ sound. There was a flicker of light from above me and I looked up at the old, empty light socket. There was no bulb there but still it flickered as if there was. And then everything was new. A shiny bulb glistened in the roof where wooden beams were no longer rotting. This shack was young again.

I looked to Damien to share a glance of awe but I was alone. There were footsteps in the distance, shoes on dirt and scattered sticks. Damien must have run ahead.

I quickly found the doorway leading out and ducked through it. It was daylight out here where I now stood. The sun was so bright I had to shield it from my eyes. I took a few steps forward into soft grass. I was in a huge garden full of bright green grass and trees. It was more like a paddock or a field if anything. If I had been a kid, this would have been like wonderland. As an adult with a kid’s heart, it felt close to that at least—definitely a place to explore.

I jogged through the grass and stared at everything around me, trying to take it all in and finding it impossible. This place was huge and there were so many gorgeous, old trees. I could climb every one of them if I had time. Some looked too tall for that but I’d find a way for sure. It was all about footholds and strength and creativity.

I slowed to a stop when I saw two kids a little further up. They were sitting in the middle of the grass, playing with some toys. The kid facing me was the same rascal who had run away from me. Even from far away Damien was easily recognisable. He had that commanding aura—you knew he was in charge and were more than willing to let him be. He was a leader. He had guts. He had charisma. You could trust him. He could take you to great places where the adventures were all incredible. If I felt like that, I wondered how the smaller kid felt playing with his charismatic older brother.

Both kids were giggling. Damien’s attention had long since returned to his little brother and they were concocting some mischief in an exchange of giggles and whispers.

I finished approaching them and crouched down beside them to hear what they were planning. Their whispers were audible but I wasn’t allowed to make sense of any of it. The sense of my limited status of a voyeur was becoming more and more clear in this place where two things could exist at once. I was here with them but I couldn’t be with them, I couldn’t be a part of this gang. I was still shut out.

As Damien monopolised his brother’s attention, I took the chance to look at him. The boy was cute. Really, really cute. He had a tooth missing near the front of his mouth and the hole was quite noticeable when he smiled—and he was smiling a lot. Had the tooth fairy come to him and rewarded him for being brave and losing a tooth? Was this the first tooth he had lost? There were so many silly questions I wanted to ask him, questions I didn’t need the answers for but wanted to know anyway.

Even when the boy finally took notice of me—the tall, old stranger who was interfering in their game—he still kept on smiling, even if it did become more of a shy smile. I wanted to know all about this kid who smiled like he didn’t know unhappiness.

I caught the kid’s eye again I felt a little jolt of joy, but before I could try and talk to him, Damien leapt up and hoisted the kid to his feet. I only had time to blink before Damien bolted away into thick trees so fast I was left sitting in a daze. His little brother didn’t waste a second and hurtled after him like a shadow. My brain started ticking again and I scrambled up to run after them before I lost sight of them in the forest of trees.

I don’t know quite how I understood it but I knew I was about to join them in a chasing game. I think I was ‘it’, the person with the unlucky task of trying to catch them. I soon found out I had met my match.

After a time of fruitless running, I finally saw a little shadow behind a bush. I grinned. Finally!

I walked closer and peered past the leaves at the smiling face behind it. “I see you, cheeky,” I teased and ran around to grab the boy. He squealed and laughed as he dodged my grasp and ran to the other side of the bush where I had just been standing.

“Oh, you wanna play like that, huh Jayden?” I laughed. I took a huge, heavy step forward but pulled back at the last second. He shrieked and darted a little more to the left—and then came the smile that spread across his face when he realised I had just been teasing him… It was so cute.

I pretended to abruptly move again but he was on to me now. His body twitched in reflex but he stayed where he was, staring at me, enjoying this extra challenge and the chance to actually get one up on me. His cheeks were puffed up from smiling so much. He was so eager to outsmart this bigger boy. He didn’t know who I was but he wasn’t scared of me. This kid had guts.

Neither of us moved. We were locked in a stalemate and I knew I’d be the one caving. I darted forward for real this time and he shrieked, scrambling to get his little legs working faster to outrun me.

“God, you’re so good at running away from It.” I almost stopped as the words left my mouth but there was no time to think about them—this cheeky monkey needed to be caught and it had to be by me.

Jayden’s little body disappeared into a bush again and I hovered next to it, grinning from ear to ear and waiting for the tiniest noise that would tell me of my monkey’s next move. I could see a bit of his face through the leaves. I was so tempted to reach through them to pinch those chubby cheeks… My hand lifted but a sudden noise—lots of leaves rustling against something solid—distracted me. I saw Damien appear near us and when I looked back to Jayden he had disappeared. A breeze blew by my neck and I knew he had run past me. Damien just smiled innocently at me as if he had played no part in distracting me.

I shook my head at him. This was the second time he hadn’t allowed me to touch Jayden. I didn’t know why but it was becoming clear that I wasn’t allowed to. It was pointless brooding over it though so I darted forward to at least try and grab Damien. It was a move perhaps a little less playful and a little more competitive than my time with Jayden but Damien was older. He was the charismatic alpha male; he could handle it. And handle it he did. He jumped aside as I came for him and I overstepped it, flying too far forward from the motion. He looked back at me and shrugged. Before I could do anything more he ran off.

“No fair!” I yelled after him. “You have a younger body!” My hands were on my hips but I realised my cheeks hurt from grinning. The gym had toned my muscles nicely but their heaviness and power only worked against me in this game of quick steps and precision. If I had been twenty years younger I would have been the king of this game! I groaned and stumbled off after them, hoping to at least put my long legs to use.

When I found them again the game had finished. Or at least they weren’t playing it anymore.

I jogged over to the two boys crouched opposite each other in the grass a little distance away. They were examining a few small, dirty coins. The edges of their fingernails had dirt stuck to them as if they’d been digging. Damien looked up at me in greeting when I joined them but Jayden was too captivated by the coins in his hand to pay any attention to me.

I sat down cross-legged next to the boys and peered down into Jayden’s small palm. The coins were harmless but I didn’t like seeing them. Everything so far in this place had been joyous and peaceful. The sight of those coins made me feel uncomfortable. Uneasy.

I looked up at Damien and caught his eye. The deep blue of his eyes and all the knowledge shimmering in them mesmerised me again but couldn’t distract me from the foreboding feeling that was tightening my chest.

Those stupid things are going to make him miserable later...

I know.

He’s going to blame everything on them…

He will.


My eyes blurred a little as I looked back at the innocent child beside me playing with something that should have remained harmless. This child was still whole right now… That thing is going to take over his mind. He’s unfixable...

He’s just a child.

Here yes, but…

He’s just a child.


I looked back at the tiny little thing sitting next to me. The coins were still clenched in his hand but he had eyed something else and was moving to crouch over it. It was a little lizard frozen still in the grass. I watched as he shifted down onto all fours and then gently sunk down onto his belly to get to the little lizard’s level. He stared at it and then reached out to stroke it. I had to look away and swallow the lump in my throat. He’s a gorgeous kid. He’s going to be so sad soon... It’s not fair.

I felt Damien’s blue stare on me and my head moved to look back at him even though I felt far from ready to face him.

You’re sad.

A change of topic. I wasn’t allowed to discuss Jayden’s future. Damien’s words meant more than just now of course—I was sad about everything: the bump I’d just gotten through in my life, how Jae—Jayden’s life had turned out... I didn’t know what to say to him. I just sat there stupidly, blinking at him.

But not for long. Everything that has a beginning has an end.

Just 3 steps—
Starting with you
Then it will all ring true
And become old news.


Er….what?

But there was no more field, no little boy playing with a lizard; nothing but my dark bedroom.

I lay in bed unmoving, staring out to nothing. It felt like if I closed my eyes, I’d still be there in that field where things were still joyous and so very green. It had been nice running around, playing an innocent childhood game again. I had liked the boys who had been there. I missed the youngest’s smile. I hadn’t had enough time with him. I hadn’t been allowed enough time with him.

Now I knew why.

“You didn’t need to make me miss him,” I sighed into the darkness. “I already did. I just didn’t want to think about it.”

I closed my eyes—not that it made much difference—and ran my hands through my hair, pulling on the short edges. What was I supposed to feel? There was so much to digest in that dream, so much emotion still jostling around. And what exactly had I learnt? The dream had just been a confirmation of an old problem. I hadn’t exactly needed any confirmation to begin with. I’d already figured out that JaeJoong was just a victim of circumstance and he’d weaved himself into that little curse world all on his own. I hadn’t even thought about it since I stormed out of Café JaDe five months ago.

I didn’t even think I’d ever dream of Damien again now that I hadn’t seen JaeJoong in a while (or been tempted enough to do something about it). I wasn’t sure how I felt about being used as a vessel for communication again.

“That problem is his own,” I groaned. “It isn’t mine. He’s the one who has to convince himself that his world is a lie because he is never going to listen to anyone else. I tried that; I’ve been down that road. You know I tried that. What else am I supposed to do?”

I let out another sigh and rolled over onto my side. It would have been nice to fall asleep again but behind my eyelids a tiny child’s smile with a missing tooth beamed at me over and over. JaeJoong had been a cute kid. He was sweet and he was curious and he was happy. What more could a parent have wanted?

“Okay, okay; thank you,” I sighed. So I had been given a gift amongst all of this crazy stuff. I had been given a chance to see JaeJoong as a child. He had really been that boy, so pure and affectionate and brave. He was still brave. And he was still affectionate when he let his guard down. I had always said his potential was still there; now I had seen the source of it, seen what he could have grown to be… And I had witnessed just what had been locked away and possibly even lost when fate had ripped the ground out from under his feet...

But again, I knew all of this already. I had told JaeJoong time and time again that he could do amazing things with his life if he let himself unlock that potential. JaeJoong had tried and failed at the last moment to let go of that fear. What the hell did Damien want from me? I couldn’t pop into JaeJoong’s mind and get through the hard part for him.

I growled and turned over again onto my other side. But no….there was still no sleep because my mind just would not turn off. I found myself muttering, “I can’t help him anymore. I’m moving on with my life. Please understand that. I’ll always care for him, but you don’t need to get all protective older brother on me. I tried and I failed, remember? I’m sure one day he’ll figure it out. He doesn’t need me.”

After a long exhale I closed my eyes again. “And don’t even think of flinging me into another dream. I’ve got work tomorrow.”

***

Finally! Finally the day of our road trip had arrived. The four of us gathered at Dongyul’s place nice and early in the morning and packed his car with our backpacks and esky. The esky was filled with food but also the mandatory six pack (for everyone but the driver), kept nice and cool against some icepacks.

It was a decent trip—three hours with the occasional misuse of the accelerator, and we joked about everything—our boss, Dongyul’s wife wearing the pants, ladies in general for the single men (Sangyong and I), and all other sorts of harmless, ridiculous things.

We had a toilet break at a petrol station and then parked the car in some shade nearby the wharf we were catching our connecting boat from. Sangyong whistled when he saw the motorboat we had hired for the day (“Now that baby is going to be fun to navigate!”). It wasn’t too big but big enough to fit all four of us in it comfortably. The white paint on the sides was almost completely unmarked (we hoped Sangyong’s steering wouldn’t leave any souvenirs to mar it) and the two pairs of seats looked mighty comfy. Dongyul and Sangyong took up the front seats, which left Jongmin and I to grab the rear ones. The engine sprang into life and we jerked forward over the waves.

“Wooooah!” Jongmin yelled, grabbing onto the side of the boat. “Steady on, dude!”

“Yeh,” Dongyul laughed, looking back over his shoulder. “Don’t want Jongmin in the drink. Or do we?”

“It would make the day memorable,” I chuckled.

“A boys’ rite of passage?” Jongmin said, then looked at me. “But you’re the magnae.”

“Oh, if I go over, you’re coming with me,” I grinned. “Just saying.”

“I like this compromise. Aren’t we a great team?” Sangyong cackled from behind the teak-rimmed steering wheel but slowed the speed down anyway. It was bumpy enough as it was without the extra acceleration as we moved against the waves. The motorboat was fairly steady considering. Great design, great engineering.

In about half an hour we had found what we were looking for on our maps. The island we were interested in had hid itself for a while behind a bigger headland but it turned out to be deceptively far from it. The entire island wasn’t huge—which was good, because I doubt we’d have been able to afford anything larger—but it sure looked an adequate size for the centre we planned to erect there.

“Where to dock this thing? Where’s the bloody wharf?”

“Over there?” Jongmin pointed to a pile of thick wood almost camouflaged against the dark water and forest of trees beyond.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “That one is very old. I doubt it is in good enough condition to risk tying the boat up to. It might have been the original one or something.”

“I agree,” Dongyul said. “Boss would surely have used a different one when he came with the agent. Maybe we’re on the wrong side.”

We were. Around the corner we found a very sturdy-looking wharf that couldn’t have been all that old. When we were close enough, I stood up to toss the rope over the bollard and pulled us in to the side of the wharf. We grabbed our backpacks and esky (considerably lighter now that only three beers remained) and walked up the little dirt path that joined the wharf to the centre of the island where some old buildings were. Along the way there were plenty of trees and rocks and cliff sides. It reminded me very much of Greenpatch Bay where I used to take JaeJoong hiking. I was excited for when we’d be able to have a better look at the outskirts of the island—the views of the water below looked incredible.

“Well, I guess we’re starting here. Nice and easy,” Jongmin proclaimed. There were two buildings in front of us, one more of a shack or garage and the other a humble two storey brick building complete with a porch (I suppose it had once been a house). Both had seen better days.

I almost half expected Sangyong to fall through the wooden porch as he carefully tested it before reaching the front door.

“Let’s get her open,” Dongyul mumbled, fiddling with the old door.

I stared up at the brick building as I waited for the boys to find an entrance into the house. The dirty brick walls looked surprisingly intact for the amount of time they had probably been left to fend for themselves in neglect. The windows were just as pitiful, caked with dirt and impossible to see through.

Soon soft, muffled voices murmured from inside the place. I hadn’t even noticed the boys had already gone inside. If I hadn’t come here with them, the muffled sounds could well have been from old ghosts. It would have been fitting, from the state of the place.

I lifted my boot up and placed it on the porch step but hesitated. It was kind of silly, but I almost wanted to explore things by myself. I wouldn’t have felt like a real explorer like in the dreams I’d had since I was a kid if I had to tailgate three other guys who were more interested in the mechanics than the adventure.

My boot slid back to the ground and I rounded the corner to instead check out the smaller garage-like structure we had seen. I could start there and then make my own way into the main building in my own time. My heart raced from the excitement and I almost had to laugh at myself.

There was no door to this place, just an empty doorway. That made things easy. I ducked through it and had a look around. Mostly it was pitch black save for the few scatterings of light leaking in from holes in the roof and one small window. Whatever had once been in here had been removed.

I looked up to trace the piece of light and saw a strange shadow in the rafters. I wandered further into the old space and craned my neck back. It looked like an empty light socket with frayed and battered cording. I blinked a few times and then lowered my head slowly. Something about this place was weird. I tried to make out the walls but there was nothing on them. Had I expected there to be? I turned and found a rotting door on the end of the other wall. I could see greenery peeking through and made my way over to it. I wondered if it led to some sort of garden…

The edges of the doorway shone as bright sunlight hit the darkness. With each step more and more of the greenery came into view and confirmed my suspicion. This patch of nature had a slightly different layout to the trees on the other side of the building I had just come from. This was more personal, like it had been arranged, planned, altered from its original growth state. Everything was horribly overgrown but it looked like this had once been a huge garden. It was probably closer to a field though. Man, if I had grown up in a place like this I would have been in seventh heaven.

The grass as it was now had grown to unmanageable lengths, filled with weeds and a few flowers. It itched against my bare legs, up to my knees as I waded through it. A little further along was a huge tree. It was incredible. The branches were long and elegant, reaching up to the sky like they were praising life.

I stepped through the long grass and gazed up at the magnificent thing. I would love to try climbing it. Not only that, the branches were so thick, it would have made the best swing! Throw some rope over it with a nice, sturdy knot, attach a tyre and away you’d go. I had always wanted a tree swing at home like in the movies, but living in Seoul made that quite—

My childish thoughts slipped away and my eyes widened. There, at the base of the huge trunk was something dark. I took a few steps forward and let out a surprised laugh. A tyre was propped up against the base, half buried in dirt but there nonetheless. There was no rope. I titled my head and stared at it thoughtfully. Perhaps it had decayed and the tyre had fallen, burying the rope in mud and weeds. Well, at least whoever had owned this property really had set up a tree swing. It would have been such a waste not to. Big fat kudos to them. I nodded at my own thoughts and then swung around to retrace my steps back to the boys.

I had barely reached the middle of the garden again when something made me stop. A feeling. It was the oddest thing… Something I couldn’t quite grasp. Like an old feeling buried beneath everything else. And old, faint, echo of something only half remembered.

My feet paused in the grass and I stood, waiting for… Waiting for what?

I could feel the hairs on my neck tingling and it wasn’t the wind. The wind was there though, sweeping through the trees one by one until there was hushed chatter all around me. It was like the beach that had whispered to me that something big was about to happen.

This field definitely felt familiar—not by sight but by feeling. It was like a painting I had long stared at but never been in.

I turned around in a circle, eying everything warily as I waited for the faint feeling to dissipate. My eyes locked onto a patch of white amongst the messy grass. It looked like a stone. It was so subtle and so hidden it hadn’t even caught my eye before. I wandered over, my inquisitive side always winning out—dammit. I was about to dismiss it as an old statue when I realised there were three separate pieces to it. Actually they were three blocks of cement or stone and attached to it were…

Crosses.

My feet stopped right where they were. Oh wow, I had stumbled across someone’s grave site. Probably the owners’ considering the state of the property. I shouldn’t have wanted to look, not at something so morbid, but I walked up to them anyway. The grass was shorter here somehow and I could see the three rectangular pieces of sandstone each cross was perched on. The one on the very right end was different though; its slab was smaller, simpler, and it bore no cross at all. It was very minimal—a stark contrast to its companions.


         KIM DAEHYUN

            7 July                  2 January
      1953    —     1991



That’s all it said. No special message, no nothing. The one to its left said more.


     KIM SOHEE (SOPHIE)

             16 May              2 September
       1958    —     1990

        SHE WAS LOVED BY ALL.
        A DAUGHTER, A SISTER, A WIFE, AND A MOTHER.
        NOW YOU CAN FINALLY REST AND LOOK AFTER OUR ANGEL.



A western name all the way out here? My heart started to sink in anticipated dread as my eyes fell to the grave that started everything. I read each character engraved into the beautiful plaque gracing the sandstone block and felt the world stop.


       KIM DAEMIN (DAMIEN)

                     7 February              8 June
             1985    —       1990


      OUR BEAUTIFUL BOY, WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU.
      YOU OPENED YOUR WINGS TOO EARLY AND FLEW AWAY TO HEAVEN.



“Oh god…” I whispered. I felt sick.

I crumpled to the ground and knelt there as the shock washed over me.




PART TWO: CLICK HERE

(P.S LJ formatting can go poop itself!)

(What is up with LJ's system? Expand and Collapse bullshit? ERGH. I don't know why it won't load properly!! So here is the actual URL to this PART ONE entry: http://wild-terrain.livejournal.com/46762.html )

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